23 Sep 2017

Beelzobufo

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Gizmodo reports that scientists have concluded that the (happily) extinct Beelzobufo ampinga from Madagascar probably ate baby dinosaurs.

70 million years ago, things were different. Extinct species of frogs like the Beelzebufo ampinga grew to be ten pounds in size. Maybe they even ate the weakest dinosaurs.

A team of British, Australian and American scientists realized that these days, frogs generally aren’t known for their jaw strength. But one species of South American horned frogs, Ceratophrys cranwelli, is especially aggressive and can eat animals its own size. So, thought the researchers, using the C. cranwelli frog as a model, maybe they could estimate how strong of a bite the extinct Beelzebufo had. If you’re not familiar with the Beelzebufo, or “devil frog,” it lived in Madagascar around 65 to 70 million years ago, and it was huge, according to a Nat Geo fact sheet. Scientists already thought that it ate some crazy stuff based on its size.

RTWT

23 Sep 2017

Kalashnikov Honored in Moscow

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The NYT reported Tuesday:

A towering monument to Lt. Gen. Mikhail T. Kalashnikov, designer of the AK-47, the Soviet rifle that has become the world’s most widespread assault weapon, was unveiled on Tuesday in the middle of one of central Moscow’s busiest thoroughfares.

The ceremony took place to the sounds of Russian military folk music, the Soviet anthem, Orthodox prayers and words about how his creation had ensured Russia’s safety and peace in the world.

The bronze statue depicts General Kalashnikov, who died in 2013 at age 94, looking into the distance and cradling one of his automatics in his arms “like a violin,” according to Russian state television. The statue is about 16 feet tall, and on a pedestal about 13 feet tall.

Naturally, the Times bed-wetters felt compelled to add this little jibe:

“The ceremony contained no mention of the untold millions of people who have been killed or maimed by the weapon since its creation in 1947.”

RTWT

————————

Mikhail Kalashnikov’s memorial did apparently have a glitch, however.

The Guardian:

Workers have removed part of a new monument to Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of the Soviet Union’s AK-47 assault rifle, after eagle-eyed Russians noticed that it mistakenly depicted a German second world war weapon.

The monument to the creator of one of Russia’s best known export brands was unveiled in central Moscow three days ago to much fanfare.

A metal bas-relief behind a statue of Kalashnikov depicts the AK-47 and other weapons all supposedly designed by the engineer, who died in 2013.

But embarrassed sculptor Salavat Shcherbakov had to admit that among them was the Sturmgewehr 44 (StG 44) assault rifle used by Nazi troops.

“We will rectify this,” Shcherbakov said in comments broadcast by state-run Rossiya 24 channel. “It looks like this [mistake] sneaked in from the internet.”

By Friday evening a square hole gaped where the German rifle had been depicted in the bas-relief.

RTWT

——————-

The US Government ought to put up a slightly larger statue of John Moses Browning.

23 Sep 2017

Nikal Seyn

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Brigadier-General John Nicholson CB (11 December 1821 – 23 September 1857)

Robert Shane Hawes reminds us:

On this day in 1857 legendary Brigadier General John Nicholson died of the wounds he received when he led the storming of Delhi during the Indian Mutiny. it took nine days for him to die as he would only allow himself to go after he knew the battle was over, that Delhi had fallen, that the Mughal Emperor had been captured, and the rebellion crushed.

He was just 34 years old.

A veteran of the First Anglo Afghan and Anglo Sikh wars, where he was renowned for his daring exploits and decorated for bravery, Nicholson was also a God fearing Ulsterman of fierce repute who kept the severed head of a convicted outlaw on his desk as a warning to criminals and who hunted Bengal tigers on horseback using only a cavalry sabre.

One famous story recounted by Charles Allen in Soldier Sahibs is of a night during the rebellion when Nicholson strode into the British mess tent at Jullunder, coughed to attract the attention of the officers, then said, “I am sorry, gentlemen, to have kept you waiting for your dinner, but I have been hanging your cooks.” He had been told that the regimental chefs had poisoned the soup with aconite. When they refused to taste it for him, he force fed it to a monkey and when it dropped dead on the spot, he proceeded to hang the cooks from a nearby tree without a trial!

Nicholson also called for the Mutiny to be punished with greater severity. He proposed an Act endorsing a ‘new kind of death for the murderers and dishonourers of our women’, suggesting, ‘flaying alive, impalement or burning,’ and commenting further, ‘I would inflict the most excruciating tortures I could think of on them with a perfectly easy conscience.’

A tablet in the church at Bannu in present day Pakistan where Nicholson served as Deputy Commissioner from 1852-1854 carries the following inscription: “Gifted in mind and body, he was as brilliant in government as in arms. The snows of Ghazni attest his youthful fortitude; the songs of the Punjab his manly deeds; the peace of this frontier his strong rule. The enemies of his country know how terrible he was in battle, and we his friends have to recall how gentle, generous, and true he was.”

Interestingly, he was also worshipped as a god in some parts of rural Punjab until the 1980’s, while sadly most people in our own country have never even heard of him.

One of the four Houses of the Royal School Dungannon is named after him and it is the youngest House at the school. There is also a statue of him in the city centre of Lisburn, Northern Ireland. His grave is in Delhi, India.

Badass of the week article

Nikal Seyn left a long memory in the Punjab. link:

Charles Allen reports that when in Bannu in 1999 he found the following expression of irritation common – “Te zan ta Nikal Seyn wayat?”- “Who do you think you are – Nicholson?”

22 Sep 2017

No $10 For Harvard

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G. David Bednar won’t give Harvard a plug nickel. Personally, I wish there was some way for Yale’s alumni to take back past donations.

My 30th Harvard College reunion is in October. I plan to attend to see good friends and share great memories. Harvard asked for a donation. When I did not respond, they asked for a smaller one. Finally, the alumni office asked for just $10 as a sign of support.

But I will not give $10 to Harvard and want to explain why.

The headlines from American campuses raise concern and often strain credulity. My hope on reading these stories is always that my school will set a standard to which others might repair. Recent examples prove Harvard has not.

The Harvard Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion recently distributed a “placemat guide for holiday discussions on race and justice with loved ones” to help students reform their parents’ bigoted views. Last week, the university extended a fellowship to a dishonorably discharged, 17-count felon and traitor to the nation. Disbelief followed by widespread indignation ensured the rescinding of the placemats and the invitation to Chelsea Manning. But astonishment lingers at the void of common sense, or mutated presumptions, necessary for them to have occurred in the first place.

The equally Orwellian Presidential Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging decided that the word “Puritans” (Harvard’s founders belonged to that sect) must be excised from the lyrics of the school’s 181-year-old anthem. The Task Force made the 1984 analogy unmistakable by adding, “an endorsed alternative” would be created, “the goal is to affirm what is valuable from the past while also re-inventing that past to meet and speak to the present moment.”

In late 2015 Harvard removed the title “house master” from what are essentially residential advisers, a title that reflected Harvard’s Oxford and Cambridge roots. The administration announced that although “what came before was not wrong” as the “academic context of the term has always been clear,” and even though the tradition was “beloved” by many alumni, the university would nevertheless abolish the title because “the general feeling” is that it “causes discomfort.”

Harvard joined the mania for erasing disfavored historical references, removing the Royall Crest at the Law School. Harvard also authorized its first “Black Commencement” in 2017. Organizers explained the event was “not about segregation” but “building a community.” Wouldn’t a single, unified graduation do that? How can anyone who abhors racial division in America see separate graduations as a step forward?

To wide alarm, the administration announced it would withhold scholarship support and prohibit students from becoming team captains or leaders of student organizations if they joined finals clubs (private organizations similar to fraternities and sororities). Harry Lewis, former dean of the college and a computer science professor, called the plans “dangerous new ground” and “a frightening prospect.”

“Using ‘nondiscrimination’ as a cudgel against students’ private associations is odiously patronizing,” Lewis wrote in the Washington Post. By reaching into the private associations of Harvard students and declaring some of them to be, in essence, ‘suppressive persons’ because of their nonconformity, you are, I fear, passing from creating community to molding a monoculture . . . ”

The chairman of Harvard’s English Department announced earlier this year that all English majors will be required to take a course in authors “marginalized for historical reasons.” Literature that did not “benefit” from “racism, patriarchy, and heteronormativity” will be read. This is a version of what Yale’s Harold Bloom once called the School of Resentment. “To read in the service of any ideology,” he wrote, “is not in my judgment to read at all..”

A university release in April claimed to have advanced diversity based on a 6 percent reduction in the proportion of white male faculty from 2008 to 2017. But the diversity that matters at a university is diversity of thought. According to a 2015 Crimson report, however, 96 percent of Harvard’s faculty recently supported Democrats. The dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences was “amazed at how high that number is.” Harvard government professor Harvey C. Mansfield observed, “The only debate we get here is between the far-left…and the liberals. It gives students a view that a very narrow spectrum of opinion is the only way to think.”

Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust established a faculty committee on Harvard and slavery. She championed a conference this spring at which she remarked that even though the college never owned a slave it was “directly complicit” in slavery. Keynote speaker Ta-Nehisi Coates was blunter. “I think every single one of these universities needs to make reparations,” he said.”I don’t know how you get around that, I just don’t. I don’t know how you conduct research that shows that your very existence is rooted in a great crime…” Sitting next to Faust, he added: “Let me be very clear about something: I do think it involves a payment of money.”

The intent of the conference being evident, two questions arise: First, if I give, how much will go to “reparations” and how will that improve education? Second, did Coates consider, in his calculation of Harvard’s unpaid debts for slavery, the hundreds of names of her Civil War dead on the tablets of Memorial Hall?

Heterodox Academy, a group that monitors free speech rights on campuses, ranks the University of Chicago No. 1 and Harvard No. 104. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) gave Harvard its “red light” (worst) rating. The Crimson reports on a “political closet” at Harvard. One undergraduate related the need “to fall in line with what I think is the professor’s ideology.” Another who published a pro-life article “is nervous during our interview” and related social media efforts to isolate him. Yet another identifies the “notion that everyone should have free thought and be open to everyone’s ideas—except people who don’t agree with liberals.” The dean of freshmen recently acknowledged the “dismaying” results of a survey revealing “political opinions and perspectives have not been given proper respect or appreciation on campus.” Is this the sole discrimination at Harvard that musters no outrage?

RTWT

22 Sep 2017

Broken: Rock, Paper, Scissors

Broken: Rock, Paper, Scissors is a student animated short film, produced at Ringling College of Art & Design. It was created by Garrett O’Neal, Gang Maria Yi and Bryan Locantore with music by Erez Koskas.

21 Sep 2017

New Puppy

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He’s larger now. Arrived on Sunday. He is a Taigan, i.e. a Central Asian sighthound of the saluki family from Kyrgysztan. We’ve named him Hussar. Hussar is a member of the first litter of Taigans born in North America. Birthday: July 21.

When he is not napping, he is furiously conducting his personal reign of terror. The world is his chew toy.

More recent photos here.

21 Sep 2017

“Shut Up!” Argued the Daily Princetonian’s Top Editors

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As they disbanded the independent editorial board for publishing editorials dissenting from the Progressive Social Justice Warrior party-line.

The College Fix:

The first conservative-leaning editorial that caused controversy came last fall, when the board criticized the women’s center for programming that solely advanced a radical feminist ideology.

Sarah Sakha, the current editor in chief of the Princetonian who led the decision to disband the board, had written an op-ed at the time denouncing the board’s criticism.

“The Board fails to acknowledge and recognize the valid intersectionality of racism and sexism. In fact, by branding such programming as singularly liberal, the Board perpetuates the harmful politicization of basic questions of human dignity and identity, which lie at the core of these issues,” Sakha wrote last fall.

Sakha, who also contributed to the Princeton Progressive, the Ivy League institution’s left-leaning political publication, became editor in chief of the mainstream Princetonian in February of this year.

Since then, the independent editorial board continued to publish right-of-center opinions.

In March, an editorial agreed upon by a majority of the board defended free speech and critiqued “collective punishment” in the wake of a scandal in which the men’s swimming and diving team was suspended for “several materials” deemed “vulgar and offensive, as well as misogynistic and racist in nature. …

RTWT

20 Sep 2017

Latest News from the Insane Asylum in New Haven

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Endangered portraits in the Davenport College Dining Hall.

The Oldest College Daily keeps the craziness a-coming.

Head of Davenport College John Witt announced on Monday the formation of a student committee charged with improving the diversity of the portraits that hang from the walls of the college.

In a collegewide email, Witt — who last year chaired the faculty-led committee that drafted broad principles on renaming and who took over as head of Davenport this fall — wrote that the committee would explore ways to complement the portraits hanging in the college with “more contemporary images of figures from a wide array of backgrounds and from many walks of life.”

“It’s … fair to say that the imagery of our walls has not quite kept up with our traditions,” Witt wrote. “For several decades now, the imagery of our walls has not reflected the diversity of Davenport’s student body, fellowship or staff.” …

College artwork played an important role over the last two years in the racially charged debate leading up to the renaming of Calhoun College in February. In the winter of 2016, Julia Adams, the head of the newly renamed Grace Hopper College, had portraits of John C. Calhoun, class of 1804, removed from the dining hall and college house. …

According to Tresa Joseph ’18, co-president of the Davenport College Council and a former Production and Design Editor for the News, Witt solicited advice on the portrait project from the DCC and the college at large on multiple occasions before Monday’s announcement, including during a recent council meeting.

“I think he is someone who is genuinely open to input and collaboration with the students, which is why I think that this committee that he’s forming is really promising,” Joseph said.

Other Davenport students interviewed also applauded Witt’s initiative.

Tarek Ziad ’20 said the portrait project epitomizes Witt’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity, which several students said has defined the first weeks of his tenure as Davenport head. Witt has already assembled a group of black graduate affiliates to advise black Davenport students, Ziad said.

Kesi Wilson ’21 said that given Yale’s tendency to sometimes honor the wrong leaders, it is important to line Davenport’s walls with figures students can collectively admire.

So, the portraits of Yale’s first rector, John Davenport, and other great men who achieved real accomplishments of significance for Yale and the Nation are to come down to be replaced with representatives of currently favored identity groups, whose student members, fellows, and faculty are really only at Yale through the extraordinarily benevolent charity of the original Yale founding constituency (the one currently being purged) coupled with heavy-thumb-on-the-scale group favoritism.

Evidently admitting dubiously-qualified minorities to Yale, creating new departments of Bogus Group-Ego-Stroking Studies and hiring a bunch of academic fraudsters and mountebanks on the basis of skin color, sexual perversity, and virulently radical opinions was not enough. Having filled the University nest with cuckoos, the current presiding administration is proceeding with a purge of Yale’s history, eliminating the great men of European ancestry which contemporary snowflakes of color or sodomitical inclination can neither identify with nor admire.

Personally, I find in all of this prima facie evidence that new constituency intrinsically alienated from, and hostile towards, Yale’s and America’s past are insolently egotistical, poorly-educated barbarians and bad citizens utterly intellectually unqualified and morally unworthy of admission or teaching or administrative appointment in the first place.

RTWT

19 Sep 2017

“Like Living in an Asylum, Where You Have to Worry that Any Word You Say Might Provoke an Outburst from a Lunatic”

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(Headline from BGA)

Kurt Schlichter explains that the left keeps changing the rules in order to keep winning.

The Brooke Baldwin mammary mess is just another example of how liberals leverage their ability to create new rules out of thin air as a means of asserting their power over us normals. What was A-OK yesterday is now forbidden, and what was forbidden yesterday is now mandatory. Their goal is to keep our heads spinning and paralyze us with fear, like nearsighted corporals caught in a minefield and terrified that if we take one wrong step we will detonate a concealed wrongthink booby-trap. They want us living in fear of their fussy wrath, and that is precisely why it is so important for us to keep abreast of pseudo-scandals like this so we can nip these libfascists’ schemes in the bud and deny them the ability to rack up yet another victory in the culture war. …

Part of the strategy behind the new rules is to not actually have any firm rules, to make you so uncertain and timid that you’re unwilling to take any action because anything you do, at any time, can be a violation of a rule that didn’t exist 30 seconds before. If you do talk about female body parts, you’re wrong because you’re insulting womyn, and if you don’t talk about female body parts, you’re wrong because you are invisibling womyn. Basically, if you don’t have any female body parts, you’re just wrong all of the time. Unless you have fake female body parts and betrayed your country; then you are America’s greatest hero and a martyr to Harvard’s infamous legacy of transphobia. Or something.

RTWT

19 Sep 2017

Royal Assyrian Sickle Sword

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Sickle sword

Period:
Middle Assyrian

Date:
ca. 1307–1275 B.C.

Geography:
Northern Mesopotamia

Culture:
Assyrian

Medium:
Bronze

Dimensions:
L. 54.3 cm

Classification:
Metalwork-Implements-Inscribed

Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1911

Accession Number:
11.166.1

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 406

This curved sword bears the cuneiform inscription “Palace of Adad-nirari, king of the universe, son of Arik-den-ili, king of Assyria, son of Enlil-nirari, king of Assyria,” indicating that it was the property of the Middle Assyrian king Adad-nirari I (r. 1307–1275 B.C.). The inscription appears in three places on the sword: on both sides of the blade and along its (noncutting) edge. Also on both sides of the blade is an engraving of an antelope reclining on some sort of platform.

Curved swords appear frequently in Mesopotamian art as symbols of authority, often in the hands of gods and kings. It is therefore likely that this sword was used by Adad-nirari, not necessarily in battle, but in ceremonies as an emblem of his royal power.

19 Sep 2017

Made by Cartier for Princess Grace

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A brooch depicting the Grimaldi arms, which being the arms of a Prince are displayed beneath a mitre crown on a mantle of ermine, Fusily (or lozengy) argent and gules. The supporters (two monks wielding swords) refer to the conquest of Monaco in 1297, when François Grimaldi entered the city with soldiers dressed as monks, with swords hidden under their cassocks. The collar surrounding the shield is the Order of St. Charles, a Monaguesque order founded in 1858. The Grimaldi motto is Deo Juvante “With God’s help”.

18 Sep 2017

Photo of the Year

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17 Sep 2017

World’s Best Gin Collection

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If you love Gin, this new Singapore bar is Valhalla. Bloomberg:

Atlas, housed in what locals affectionately call the “Batman Building,” due to its similarities to Gotham City’s Wayne Tower, bills itself as having the world’s largest collection of gin. Its owner, Vicky Hwang, thinks that after a five-month renovation and two years of planning, the 7,400 square foot Art Deco space will be able to rival Raffles thanks to an extensive menu of 1,011 bottles and counting.

The drinks menu at Atlas is currently a work in progress but already stretches to 60 pages, and that’s without tasting notes. (The bar hopes it will be finished in May.) Inside, you can find Ki No Bi Kyoto Dry Gin, produced at Japan’s first dedicated gin distillery in the south of Kyoto using Japanese botanicals such as sansho leaf, kinome sprout and yuzu peel. If you prefer more of a dry style, go for the Forest Dry Gin Quersus, a classic Belgian gin aged in a former Montrachet white wine barrel that imparts notes of pear, lavender and baking spice.

Jason Williams, Atlas’s master of gin, describes the collection as “one of the world’s largest, most diverse and thoughtfully curated physical collections of quality gins.” They include Pollination Gin, which is made at the Dyfi Distillery in mid-Wales using botanicals foraged from the Unesco-recognized Dygi Biosphere Reserve. Another, called Gin La República – Andina, is a Bolivian gin distilled at 4,000 meters above sea level that uses Andean ingredients such as ulupica, huacataya, quirquiña and k’hoa.

One factor common to all the bottles in the collection is strength. Every one is at least 40% ABV, according to Williams. “Gin is better when it’s stronger. You get those botanicals like perfume.”

The best of the collection is displayed in the three-story-tall gin tower with carved wooden columns and glass shelving that serves as the centerpiece of the room.

RTWT

17 Sep 2017

Dancing

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Without music, life would be a mistake.

-–Nietzsche

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