Archive for March, 2015
26 Mar 2015

25% of People Have a Fourth Cone (Color Receptor)

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39Colors

Professor Diane Derval told me something today that I had not known.

The color nuances we see depend on the number and distribution of cones (=color receptors) in our eye. You can check [the above] rainbow: how many color nuances do you count?

You see less than 20 color nuances: you are a dichromats, like dogs, which means you have 2 types of cones only. You are likely to wear black, beige, and blue. 25% of the population is dichromat.

You see between 20 and 32 color nuances: you are a trichromat, you have 3 types of cones (in the purple/blue, green and red area). You enjoy different colors as you can appreciate them. 50% of the population is trichromat.

You see between 33 and 39 colors: you are a tetrachromat, like bees, and have 4 types of cones (in the purple/blue, green, red plus yellow area). You are irritated by yellow, so this color will be nowhere to be found in your wardrobe. 25% of the population is tetrachromat.

You see more than 39 color nuances: come on, you are making up things! there are only 39 different colors in the test and probably only 35 are properly translated by your computer screen anyway :)

I originally counted colors on the basis of differentiated rectangles I could see, which gave me too many. When I went back and looked strictly at color gradations, I got 39. And I do hate yellow.

Hat tip to Chico Kidd,

26 Mar 2015

Elephants Save 18-Wheeler Truck

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ElephantsTruck

Business Insider describes an emergency situation in which it turned out that the trucker had exactly the right equipment in the back of his cargo bed.

Sometimes, the only thing standing between you and your 18-wheeler tipping over in the Louisiana mud is a couple of elephants that you’ve fortunately been transporting.

That’s just what happened on Tuesday when a truck became stranded by the side of a Louisiana road.

Sheriff’s deputies in Natchitoches Parish on Tuesday morning received a call about a stuck truck. Upon arriving on the scene, they saw two elephants preventing the vehicle from overturning.

Leaning side-by-side against the outside of the truck, the elephants propped up the trailer that was carrying three of the beasts from Florida to a circus near Dallas, the sheriff’s photos showed.

The truck had pulled over on an interstate shoulder near Powhatan, Louisiana, about an hour south of Shreveport. The ground was soft after recent rain.

26 Mar 2015

How English Sounded

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The Week found YouTube videos demonstrated what earlier versions of English actually sounded like.

Shakesperian English:

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Middle English (not the best version of the Prologue):

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Earlier Middle English (13th Century):

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Old English (terrific performance of the opening of Beowulf):

They concluded with a pretty chick singing a semi-rock ballad in Breton to illustrate the sound of pre-Anglo-Saxon British, but I think that one is beside the point.

26 Mar 2015

Some Useful Observations From Our Armed Forces

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MilitaryHumor

Liberty’s Torch has some classic examples of military humor:

The three most common expressions (or famous last words) in military aviation are:

1. “Did you feel that?”
2. “What’s that noise?”
3. “Oh S…!”

– Authors Unknown

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Added in the comments section:

The Five Most Fear-Inspiring Phrases in the United States Army (in no particular order for the first four, but the last one is the most fear-inspiring, for those in the know):

A second lieutenant pompously saying “Based on my military experience…”

An Army captain musingly saying “You know, I was thinking…”

A private enthusiastically saying “I learned this in Basic Training…”

A sergeant mournfully saying “Sir, you really don’t want to know…”

A chief warrant officer, an evil grin on his face, saying “Watch this $#!+…”

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

25 Mar 2015

Not a Lot of Veterans at The Times

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John Podhoretz reacts to an amazing gaffe.

TweetPodhoretz

25 Mar 2015

BBC Fires Clarkson

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Clarkson

Well, it’s happened. The wet ends at the BBC (who obviously think they are administrators at some American college) have declined to renew the contract of Jeremy Clarkson, the principal host of the BBC’s hit automotive program Top Gear.

Deadline.com:

The BBC’s Director General Tony Hall has confirmed Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson’s contract will not be renewed after a physical altercation with a producer. The controversial presenter was suspended on March 10, following a “fracas” with Oisin Tymon — believed to be over catering — in a Yorkshire hotel.

“It is with great regret that I have told Jeremy Clarkson today that the BBC will not be renewing his contract. It is not a decision I have taken lightly. I have done so only after a very careful consideration of the facts and after personally meeting both Jeremy and Oisin Tymon,” said Hall in a statement.

Clarkson was fired because he got into a fracas with his producer on March 4th while filming in chilly Yorkshire. The Top Gear star became angry at learning that no hot meal was being provided, and socked producer Oisin Tymon in the mouth after calling him “a lazy Irish c*nt.”

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Also Deadline.com:

Following the announcement, Top Gear co-host James May, whose contract is also up at the end of the month, told reporters outside his home, “It’s a tragedy. I’m sorry that what ought to have been a small incident, sorted out easily, turned into something big… I have only known for the past few minutes and if you’ll excuse me, I very desperately have to write the eBay listing for my Ferrari.”

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Other co-host Richard Hammond tweeted:

TweetHammond

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The Stig had no comment.

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The lazy Irish c*nt with the swollen lip and his reptilian lawyer were also heard from (Yahoo News):

“I respect Lord Hall’s detailed findings and I am grateful to the BBC for their thorough and swift investigation into this very regrettable incident, against a background of intense media interest and speculation.

“I’ve worked on Top Gear for almost a decade, a programme I love.

“Over that time Jeremy and I had a positive and successful working relationship, making some landmark projects together. He is a unique talent and I am well aware that many will be sorry his involvement in the show should end in this way.”

    Statement from his lawyer Paul Daniels in full:

    “This last month has been a nightmare for Oisin, his friends and his family. Through absolutely no fault of his own he found himself at the centre of a massive news story, but despite that he has conducted himself with dignity, restraint and balance.

    “He now simply wishes to return to the job he loves at the BBC. He does not intend to make any further media comment and kindly asks that his privacy is respected.

    “More generally, this is an important reminder that UK law protects all staff who face bullying, discrimination or violence at work, and all employers are required to protect their staff from such behaviour.”

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Obviously, British television resembles the American education system more than it does Hollywood. Its top priority is preventing bullying or discrimination against the inactive, the Hibernian, and those incapable of defending themselves. In America, the talent, I expect, tends to get hot meals and lots of sucking up from the help.

Personally, I think justice would be done by having the American Fox Network dash in and sign up all three British hosts for a new, and more luxurious, version of an automotive program, combining fast car testing, humor, and political satire.

And, every couple of months, Jeremy Clarkson should punch out some deserving left-wing commentator while his audience in the millions applauds.

25 Mar 2015

Would an Ivy League School Allow Support For ISIS & Hamas?

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Heck, yes, why! Cornell would even welcome ISIS speakers and let ISIS set up a training camp on campus. Project Veritas interviews Assistant Dean Joseph Scaffido.

25 Mar 2015

Deadliest Gunfighting Pistols of All Time?

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LugerP08
Pistole Parabellum 1908

Jim Dickson, at Gun Digest, picks the three deadliest gunfighting pistols of all time.

His choices are the German Luger, the Colt Model 1911, and the Colt Model 1873 Peacemaker.

Personally, I think his list ought to have been longer. But the surprising choice is, of course, the Luger. Americans who played with one will be even more surprised to find the author praising the Luger for its reliability of functioning.

When the troops needed pistols the Fatherland set out to supply them, despite the fact that the Luger pistol cost three times as much to manufacture as the Mauser rifle.

The Luger proved up to the challenge. It took in stride the mud, dust and sand maelstrom that was a WWI artillery barrage and kept on working when the famed Smith & Wesson Triple-Lock Revolvers were jamming. It would continue firing when its barrel was bulged from being clogged with mud. A Browning-style gun with the slide over the barrel is jammed solid until a new barrel can be installed when its barrel is bulged.

This feature saved so many German lives in the First World War that when the P38 was designed, the army specifications demanded a fully exposed barrel on it. All the Luger needs for reliability is a magazine spring that is as strong as you can get in the magazine and proper ammo—standard velocity ammo of the proper overall length. Hot loads cycle the action too fast for the magazine to feed cartridges in position to chamber before the bolt rides them down. This was never a problem with German army issue ammo.

A larger problem was the fact that the average German soldier was not a pistol shooter. The Luger handled that problem better than any pistol before or since. The Luger is the best pointing pistol ever made, bar none. Just point at the target and you hit it. It is as simple as that. It is also the most accurate pistol you will ever find. Most any good Luger will shoot a 10mm group with 9mm ammo at 25 yards.

Armed with the Luger the German troops proved a terror in trench fighting. Every stormtrooper was issued one regardless of rank, and production was geared up to equip every combat soldier by late 1918 or 1919. The Luger was a key factor in the new stormtrooper tactics as well as the new infiltration strategies of General Von Hutier and Colonel Bruchmuller, which had knocked Russia out of the war. The intensity of the trench fighting and the number of kills made by the Luger was staggering.

World War II saw more intense fighting with the Luger often being used against Russian human-wave assaults. Sometimes it was the officer’s only weapon and sometimes it was the last thing he had loaded magazines for. At those close ranges one could hardly miss. Once more the tally went up drastically. Add to these figures the numbers of the other countries’ armies that used the Luger and you get a number far exceeding any other pistol.

Read the whole thing.

25 Mar 2015

Smile

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CrocTeeth

Hat tip to Ratak Monodosico.

24 Mar 2015

Mandatory Voting

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Obama-mandatory-voting

24 Mar 2015

Papieren, Bitte!

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PapersPlease
Your Papers, Please!

Benjamin Preston, at Car & Driver, reports on a little more bad news for Americans, thanks to George W. Bush’s Department of Heimat Sekuritat.

If you live in Arizona, Louisiana, New York, or one of more than a dozen other states, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has bad news for you. Come January 19, your driver’s license will no longer allow you access to certain federal facilities. Unless DHS changes its mind. Again.

In 2005, Congress passed a bill called the Real ID Act, based upon recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission. Whether or not you’ve heard of the law depends largely upon how in tune you are with conspiracy theories. Where you live matters, too, because nearly a decade after the law’s passage, only 19 states actually comply with its standards.

Real ID’s stated intent is to ensure that all jurisdictions issuing driver’s licenses and other identification meet federal stand­ards, “which should inhibit terrorists’ ability to evade detection by using fraudulent identification.” Basically, the government is upping the ante on what it will accept as valid forms of ID at federal facilities, nuclear power plants, and—here’s the biggie—federally regulated airline flights (i.e., most of them).

Opponents fear that Real ID will lead to a national identity card like those issued by “totalitarian” governments and that its requirement that states share data from their department of motor vehicle databases is an invasion of privacy.

24 Mar 2015

Italians Wore the Best Helmets

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MilanBurgonet
A Milanese burgonet, bearing the visage of a dragon. Musée de l’Armée, Paris.

Hat tip to Belacqui.

24 Mar 2015

Today’s Profs Scared Witless By PC

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AngryStudents

WHH (obviously a liberal) describes just how intimidated by liberal student protests today’s professors have become.

[L]iberal students scare the shit out of me. I know how to get conservative students to question their beliefs and confront awful truths, and I know that, should one of these conservative students make a facebook page calling me a communist or else seek to formally protest my liberal lies, the university would have my back. I would not get fired for pissing off a Republican, so long as I did so respectfully, and so long as it happened in the course of legitimate classroom instruction.

The same cannot be said of liberal students. All it takes is one slip—not even an outright challenging of their beliefs, but even momentarily exposing them to any uncomfortable thought or imagery—and that’s it, your classroom is triggering, you are insensitive, kids are bringing mattresses to your office hours and there’s a twitter petition out demanding you chop off your hand in repentance.

Is paranoid? Yes, of course. But paranoia isn’t uncalled for within the current academic job climate. Jobs are really, really, really, really hard to get. And since no reasonable person wants to put their livelihood in danger, we reasonably do not take any risks vis-a-vis momentarily upsetting liberal students. And so we leave upsetting truths unspoken, uncomfortable texts unread.

There are literally dozens of articles and books I thought nothing of teaching, 5-6 years ago, that I wouldn’t even reference in passing today. I just re-read a passage of Late Victorian Holocausts, an account of the British genocide against India, and, wow, today I’d be scared if someone saw a copy of it in my office. There’s graphic pictures right on the cover, harsh rhetoric (“genocide”), historical accounts filled with racially insensitive epithets, and a profound, disquieting indictment of capitalism. No way in hell would I assign that today. Not even to grad students.

Here’s how bad it’s gotten, for reals: last summer, I agonized over whether or not to include texts about climate change in my first-year comp course. They would have fit perfectly into the unit, which was about the selective production of ignorance and the manipulation of public discourse. But I decided against including them. They forced readers to come to uncomfortable conclusions. They indicted our consumption-based lifestyles. They called out liars for lying. Lots of uncomfortable stuff. All it would take was one bougie, liberal student to get offended by them, call them triggering, and then boom, that’s it, that’s the end of me.

Read the whole thing.

Do note: Professor WHH (obviously not the sharpest pencil in the box) is so spooked that he/she? is actually afraid that teaching “the evils of British Imperialism” and “climate change” (what two topics could possibly be more PC?) might provoke a hostile leftist response.

23 Mar 2015

WASPs and Jews

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LoomisGuys
A typical group of WASP preppies in olden times.

Robert Laird (a WASP Harvard guy) discusses the vexed relations between the two most influential American tribes.

I was raised to be prejudiced against the Jews. Not because they were inferior or evil or un-Christian, but because they were the only serious rivals of the real Chosen People, people of Anglo-Saxon and celtic descent. For my father it was that simple. If we were the New York Yankees, they were the Boston Red Sox, which meant that almost everything about them was wrong or at least unacceptable. Everything different was a line of demarcation. They were Democrats (many of them Communists). They were ostentatious in their wealth. They had bad taste in cars and houses and clothes. They were loud and obnoxious. They had bad manners and didn’t even know it. Everything similar was the field of competition. They were smart, they were devoted to education, they were fiercely competitive, they took care of their own, they had a way of enduring storm after storm after catastrophe and still rising almost unbelievably at the top of whatever hierarchy they were in. They were so much like us in every important way that they were completely intolerable because they sent food back in restaurants and made dirty jokes in mixed company. It was absolutely unacceptable to let them beat you in what mattered most: school. …

Always a romantic in the Sir Walter Scott mode, I thought Judaism itself was boring and creepily emasculating. Those yarmulkes and shawls. The dumb hats and curls of the orthodox. I thought Jewish accents and inflections were jarring, nasal, Hebrew a language of throat-clearing coughs that sounded gross compared to the music of English. Their synagogues looked like community centers, not holy places. Their young women wore ugly shoes and their older women wore too much makeup and nagged in public. They offended my esthetic senses, all of them. Although I did fall in love with Rebecca when I read Ivanhoe. If only I could meet one like her… which I did only much much later.

Read the whole thing.

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I attended a Lithuanian parochial elementary school, so I never actually had Jewish schoolmates before high school. In high school, I had a whopping two, count ’em, Jewish classmates. One of them was academically hopeless. The other was the best male student in our class, after me. He followed the stereotype accurately. He wanted to succeed. He worked furiously. And he always came in second. I did essentially no work in high school. I just pursued my own personal program of self education through extensive reading. I never did homework. I could always churn out the obligatory Latin exercises and math problems in school before the relevant classes.

Relations between Lithuanians and Jews in Shenandoah were very amicable. We bought our furniture and appliances from Jewish merchants who treated our parents like distant relatives. When my parents wanted a new range or a new sofa, they would go see Benny Schoor, who would make a big fuss over them, express enthusiasm over their selection and arrange to deliver it the next day. My parents never asked what Benny proposed to charge and they never paid in cash. A month or two after their purchase was delivered, a bill for some small sum from Benny would appear in the mail. My parents would make whatever monthly payment it was, and eventually the bills would stop coming. Everybody had perfect confidence in the honesty and reliability of everybody else.

I thought of Jewish kids, like Italians, as hopeless incompetent non-combatants, who needed to be looked after and protected by tough Lithuanians like myself from the predatory juvenile gangs of Poles, Irish, Slovaks, and Lithuanian scum who roamed our town’s streets looking for victims.

Where I grew up, pretty much everyone was some kind of Roman Catholic ethnic immigrant type with names like Kowalonek and Wodjehowski, so I got a real kick out of being at Yale and getting to meet people with English-language names, just like the people I’d read about in books.

WASPs struck me as a lot like Lithuanians who had simply been in the country longer and had more money, and who had consequently successfully cultivated better manners and tastes. Like Lithuanians, WASPs, I found, placed a high value on emotional restraint, revered tradition, cared strongly about morality and respectability, and typically possessed a love of order and a recognition of the necessity of making a practice of doing things correctly.

I think there is a general recognition, in the larger world, of a lot of similarities between the New England WASP tribe and the Jewish tribe. Both have traditionally been clannish, moralistic, hectoring and intolerant, intensely ambitious and keen on acquiring wealth and worldly success.

What seems odd to an outside spectator like myself has been the incredibly dramatic and downright astonishing retreat of the WASP from the center of the America Establishment, and his precipitous surrender of control and operation of the culture and institutions to others, most frequently to Jews. The American WASP was traditionally distinguished by his firm grip on common sense and his Yankee shrewdness and skepticism. All those admirable qualities have not been much in evidence in recent decades. Faced with the rise of a left-wing culture of accusation and complaint, the gentlemanly WASP has simply hung his head in shame over the alleged crimes of his ancestors and slunk quietly off the stage.

I think myself that the vanishing of the old-fashioned WASP from the culture and the establishment is really a pity. The old gentlemen who used to run things were more than adequately well-meaning, but they also had good sense. You couldn’t panic or stampede those people. If Eric Holder’s Justice Department had come along and demanded that Yale create a new Star Chamber system to adjudicate sexual harassment complaints or lose federal aid, old President Seymour, I suspect, would have felt bad at losing all that money, but would still have told Eric Holder that Yale would not comply. No one would ever expect the current president of Yale to resist the tide of fashion in any form.

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