Archive for May, 2016
31 May 2016

“Stand Next to Him For Perspective!”

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Palmetto Golf Course, Plametto, Florida, posted May 30. Estimated length: 14-15 feet.

31 May 2016

“Can’t Legislate Against Human Stupidity”

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Croc2
Just a generic Australian saltwater croc photo.

Telegraph:

Tourist Cindy Waldron, 46, was swimming in waist-deep water with a friend at 10.30pm on Sunday night and yelled that she was being attacked by a crocodile before disappearing.

Her friend, a local resident aged 47, was grazed on the arm after she tried to pull the victim from the jaws of the crocodile.

“[She] tried to grab her and drag her to safety and she just wasn’t able to do that,” police senior constable Russell Parker told ABC News.

“They had been walking along the beach and they’ve decided to go for a swim just in waist-deep water and [it was] probably a very nice, clear night, but obviously [they] may not have been aware of the dangers.”

The incident occurred at Thornton Beach in the popular Daintree region in north Queensland, where a 16–foot crocodile has been spotted in recent weeks.

The area, north of the tropical city of Cairns, is known for its large crocodile population, which has been a drawcard for tourists.

“The whole of Cairns and up into Cape [Tribulation] is known for its large crocodiles,” said Neil Noble, from the state ambulance service.

“Certainly one has to be very careful around our waterways. Stay well away from the water when you can, especially when you can’t see.”

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CNN:

North Queensland member for parliament, Warren Entsch, who represents the region, said the victim should be blamed for the attack, not the crocodile.

“You can’t legislate against human stupidity,” Entsch said on Monday, noting that Thornton Beach lies next to a creek where tourism operators run crocodile-spotting tours.

“This is a tragedy but it was avoidable. You can only get there by ferry, and there are signs there saying watch out for the bloody crocodiles,” he added.

“If you go in swimming at 10 o’clock at night, you’re going to get consumed.”

31 May 2016

What Happens When the Dog Catches the Car?

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TrumpBillClinton
Pals

We obviously do not know what was said, but witnesses reported that Donald Trump conferred by telephone with Bill Clinton just prior to announcing his campaign.

Washington Post:

Former president Bill Clinton had a private telephone conversation in late spring with Donald Trump at the same time that the billionaire investor and reality-television star was nearing a decision to run for the White House, according to associates of both men.

Four Trump allies and one Clinton associate familiar with the exchange said that Clinton encouraged Trump’s efforts to play a larger role in the Republican Party and offered his own views of the political landscape.

Clinton’s personal office in New York confirmed that the call occurred in late May, but an aide to Clinton said the 2016 race was never specifically discussed and that it was only a casual chat.

Read the whole thing.

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Back in Late March, Stephanie Cegielski, a former Trump Campaign Communications Director, confessed that Donald Trump originally had no intention to win.

Even Trump’s most trusted advisors didn’t expect him to fare this well.

Almost a year ago, recruited for my public relations and public policy expertise, I sat in Trump Tower being told that the goal was to get The Donald to poll in double digits and come in second in delegate count. That was it.

The Trump camp would have been satisfied to see him polling at 12% and taking second place to a candidate who might hold 50%. His candidacy was a protest candidacy. …

What was once Trump’s desire to rank second place to send a message to America and to increase his power as a businessman has nightmarishly morphed into a charade that is poised to do irreparable damage to this country if we do not stop this campaign in its tracks.

I’ll say it again: Trump never intended to be the candidate. But his pride is too out of control to stop him now.

You can give Trump the biggest gift possible if you are a Trump supporter: stop supporting him.

He doesn’t want the White House. He just wants to be able to say that he could have run the White House. He’s achieved that already and then some. If there is any question, take it from someone who was recruited to help the candidate succeed, and initially very much wanted him to do so.

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MSNBC reported on an interview with Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman and chief strategist, which disclosed that Donald Trump has no intention of personally doing all the work of the presidency, even if he wins.

Manafort sat down with the Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman for a fairly long interview, and while the two covered quite a bit of ground, there was one exchange in particular that stood out for me.

    The vice presidential pick will also be part of the process of proving he’s ready for the White House, Manafort said.

    “He needs an experienced person to do the part of the job he doesn’t want to do. He seems himself more as the chairman of the board, than even the CEO, let alone the COO.”

This is no small acknowledgement. For months, it’s been clear that Trump has no meaningful understanding of public policy or even how government works at a basic level. By any fair measure, his ignorance and incompetence about affairs of state is unlike anything Americans have ever seen in a major-party presidential candidate. The question has long been when we can expect Trump to get up to speed.

And the answer is, he has no intention of doing any such thing. Day-to-governing and overseeing the executive branch apparently represent “the part of the job he doesn’t want to do.”

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All these little details support the theory I advanced back in February, that the Trump candidacy was never intended to win.

Suppose Bill Clinton figured out the sole, solitary possible way that he could shove a big, fat monkey wrench into the Republican Party’s Presidential Election Campaign’s works.

Let’s say, for instance, that Old Bill knew another feller, that he had a buddy, a good friend, not in politics actually, but a fellow in some respects kind of like himself, brash, shameless, fond of the ladies, appetitive, hugely out-going, and larger-than-life. Bill’s friend, like himself, would be a wealthy and successful person, a celebrity, a performer, and a chap vigorously able to go after what he wants free of ethical inhibitions.

One can picture Bill sitting down with his pal Donald, and saying, “Donald, old boy, I need you to do Hillary and me a solid. The good news is that the whole thing is going to be one of the greatest larks of all time, and together we are going to make history. This is really going to be a hoot! If it works, you get all the billions of dollars of federal contracts, leases, and subsidies you can use, and Hillary will appoint you ambassador to the Court of St. James. If it fails, sheeeit! you get to be president. This is a no-lose operation.”

Suppose it was slightly more complicated:

Donald Trump, last year, is unhappy with the Obama Administration’s mishandling of the economy, foreign policy embarrassments, and the general atmosphere of American decline. He also doesn’t like the Republican emphasis on conservative ideas and he has no sympathy with the rarified idealism of Bush-era Wilsonian Foreign Policy activism. The idea of running in the Republican primaries as a protest candidate has occurred to him.

He would get to ventilate his personal opinions, throw his weight around, and have an impact. Hell, he might win a state or two somewhere. He’d have himself a place in the History books, and as a former presidential candidate he would have a bit more influence and enjoy more respect when he did his business deals. Come to think of it, he would probably even get a little more tail. The aroma of political power does things to chicks.

Trump is reluctant, though, to alienate his pals the Clintons, so he decides to talk it over with Bill. Trump assures Bill that he means Hillary no actual harm, but as Bill thinks about all this, his grin gets wider and wider. Trump running may not really injure Hillary one bit, but it sure could make an unholy mess of the Republican race.

Bill Clinton advises Trump to be himself, and to come out loudly with all the nationalist, protectionist, working-class-hero kind of BS that Jim Webb was peddling in that book of his. What Bill is proposing is, in essence, that Trump should run as a democrat in Republican clothing. The campaign will be all democrat class warfare and promises of special government interventions for Trump’s voters, all served up under a nice Republican sauce made up of flag-waving patriotism.

Obviously, all of this turned out to match the temper of the times, the mood of the low-information voter, perfectly. No one could have predicted that it would sell quite so well, not Bill Clinton, not The Donald himself.

And now Trump is approaching the position of the the dog who actually caught the car he was chasing and then has no idea what to do with it.

How Mencken would laugh!

31 May 2016

Things Women In Literature Have Died From

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LadyofShallot
John Atkinson Grimshaw, The Lady of Shalott, 1875, Yale Center for British Art.

Cold hands
Beautiful face
Missing slippers
Wrist fevers
Night brain
Going outside at night in Italy
Shawl insufficiency
Too many pillows
Garden troubles
Someone said “No” very loudly while they were in the room
Letter-reading fits
Drawing-room anguish
Not enough pillows
Haven’t seen the sea in a long time
Too many novels
Pony exhaustion
Strolling congestion
Sherry served too cold
Ship infidelity
Spent more than a month in London after growing up in Yorkshire
Clergyman’s dropsy
Flirting headaches
River unhappiness
General bummers
Knitting needles too heavy
Mmmf
Beautiful chestnut hair
Spinal degeneration as a result of pride
Parents too happy
The Unpleasantness

From The Toast via Lucy Bellerby.

30 May 2016

My Father’s War

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WGZInduction1942
My father (on the left, wearing jacket & tie, holding the large envelope), aged 26, was the oldest in this group of Marine Corps volunteers from Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, September 1942, so he was put in charge.

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William G. Zincavage, Fall 1942, after graduating Marine Corps Boot Camp

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WGZBillyClub
Military Police, North Carolina, Fall 1942
He was only 5′ 6″, but he was so tough that they made him an MP.

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3rdDivision
Third Marine Division

1stAmphibiousCorps
I Marine Amphibious Corps

First Amphibious Corps, Third Marine Division, Special Troops:
Solomon Islands Consolidation (Guadalcanal), Winter-Spring 1943
New Georgia Group Operation (Vella LaVella, Rendova), Summer 1943
“The Special Troops drew the first blood.” — Third Divisional History.

“We never saw them but they were running away.” — William G. Zincavage

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3rdAmphibious-Corps
III Marine Amphibious Corps

Third Amphibious Corps, Third Marine Division, Special Troops:
Marianas Operation (Guam), Summer 1944

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5thAmphibious-Corps
V Marine Amphibious Corps

Fifth Amphibious Corps, Third Marine Division, Special Troops:
Iwo Jima Operation, February-March 1945

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Navy Unit Commendation (Iwo Jima)
Good Conduct Medal
North American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with Four Bronze Stars

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While recovering from malaria after the Battle of Iwo Jima, he looked 70 years old.

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But he was back to normal in December of 1945, when this photo was taken shortly before he received his discharge.

30 May 2016

Nominated To Succeed Downton Abbey

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GeorgetteHeyer
Georgette Heyer

Now that Downton Abbey is over, The Anchoress urges Julian Fellowes to try adapting for television the Regency Romances of Georgette Heyer (particular favorites of my wife Karen’s).

Consider, if you will The Convenient Marriage, a hilarious page-turner in which the brash, barely-out-of-the-schoolroom Miss Horatia Winwood solves her elder sister’s inconvenient-but-dutiful engagement to the notoriously self-contained Earl of Rule by showing up at his house and offering herself in exchange. As the Earl and his young bride work some of the most counter-intuitive moves imaginable in order to seduce each other into an authentic marriage, the peripheral characters romp through this story like Georgian Marx Brothers, pulling noses, inspiring blue-wigged macaronis to call them out, taking to the High Toby with a brilliantly wrought cockney thief, and stumbling into abduction scenes they’ve mistaken for card parties. Please bring these people to life for us!

And while you’re at it, please consider allowing us to meet The Grand Sophy — part Mary Poppins, part Annie Oakley — the irrepressible horsewoman and diplomat who keeps a small, ladylike gun in her handmuff and an Italian Greyhound beneath her skirts. Please produce four nights of False Colors and have Kit Fancot travel from Vienna to London on a hunch that his twin is in trouble, so we can delight in his flighty “charming peagoose” of a mother, and her ardent, indulgent and fearfully fat cicisbeo, Sir Bonamy. And if your taste in some season is running toward darker stories, please allow us to watch the Duke of Avon and his abused-but-valiant French ward (think Audrey Tautou!) wend their way through the fascinating and disturbing tale of These Old Shades! Show us how an unattractive heroine, married as part of A Civil Contract, manages to persevere and win everything by means of her simple human decency.

30 May 2016

Massachusetts & Environs

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MassachusettsMap

30 May 2016

2016

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TrumpGiantMeteor

30 May 2016

Suicide

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TrumpGOPSuicide

29 May 2016

Tweet of the Day

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Tweet142

29 May 2016

“Listen to Them, the Children of the Night. What Music They Make!”

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WolvesHowling

Holly Root-Gutteridge studies wolf dialects.

After hundreds of hours listening to thousands of wolves for my PhD, the difference between howls was obvious. The voice of a Russian wolf was nothing like that of a Canadian, and a jackal was so utterly different again that it was like listening to Farsi and French. I believed that there must be geographic and subspecies distinctions. Other researchers had made this proposition before, but no one had put together a large enough collection of howls to test it properly. …

Studies since the 1960s have shown that the howls that have haunted our dreams for centuries can tell us a lot about the particular wolf vocalising. Like humans, each wolf has its own voice. Each pack also shares howl similarities, making different families sound distinct from each other (wolves respond more favourably to familiar howls). This much we knew. What we didn’t know was whether the differences seen between packs were true of subspecies or of species, and if an Indian wolf howl would be distinct from a Canadian one.

More questions follow. If howls from different subspecies are different, do the howls convey the same message? Is there a shared culture of howl-meanings, where an aggressive howl from a European wolf means the same thing as an aggressive howl of a Himalayan? And can a coyote differentiate between a red wolf howling with aggressive intent and one advertising the desire to mate? Even without grammar or syntax, howls can convey intent, and if the shape of the howl changes enough while the intent remains constant, the foundations of distinctive culture can begin to appear. … Our canine voice collection represented was one of the most comprehensive ever.

We compared howls across 13 different subspecies and species of coyotes, dogs, wolves and jackals (collectively known as canids).

We then stretched all the howls to the same length, using a process called dynamic time warping, to compare the changes in the tune without including the tempo it was played at. We found that each species had its own favourite howl shape, a preferred set of changes to their howls to raise and drop the pitch, but that they also used howl shapes preferred by other species, and varied the shapes as they pleased. The species were like music bands with preferred styles of playing, whether riff-filled like jazz or the pure tones of classical, but were flexible in what they actually played at any given time. So while they had a favourite style, the tune itself varied.

Like musicians, the wolves were influenced by their forebears in the genre, and species shared traits with other canids that were closer to them geographically and genetically. An Eastern grey wolf, recorded in the US, sounded more like a North Carolinian red wolf than a European wolf, and an African jackal sounded quite different again. Small and delicate compared with their cousins the European wolves, golden jackals have high, rising howls, running up and down the scales in bravura performances of control and speed, but with less variation in overall shape, whereas the European wolves used a slower style of deep and steady long notes ending in falls that seem to drift away into the night. New Guinea singing dogs earned their names with a large vocal repertoire and a wide selection of howl shapes. While sometimes the different species achieved crossovers to other shapes, most had a style that dominated their repertoires.

Read the whole thing.

29 May 2016

Cambridge University App Tries to Identify English Regional Accents

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EnglishDialects

University of Cambridge Research:

A new app which tries to guess your regional accent based on your pronunciation of 26 words and colloquialisms will help Cambridge academics track the movement and changes to English dialects in the modern era.

Along with colleagues from the universities of Zurich and Bern, Cambridge’s Adrian Leemann has developed the free app English Dialects (available on iOS and Android) which asks you to choose your pronunciation of 26 different words before guessing where in England you’re from.

The app, officially launched today on the App Store and Google Play, also encourages you to make your own recordings in order to help researchers determine how dialects have changed over the past 60 years. The English language app follows the team’s hugely successful apps for German-speaking Europe which accumulated more than one million hits in four days on Germany’s Der Spiegel website, and more than 80,000 downloads of the app by German speakers in Switzerland.

“We want to document how English dialects have changed, spread or levelled out,” said Dr Leemann, a researcher at Cambridge’s Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics. “The first large-scale documentation of English dialects dates back 60-70 years, when researchers were sent out into the field – sometimes literally – to record the public. It was called the ‘Survey of English Dialects’. In 313 localities across England, they documented accents and dialects over a decade, mainly of farm labourers.”

The researchers used this historical material for the dialect guessing app, which allows them to track how dialects have evolved into the 21st century.

“We hope that people in their tens of thousands will download the app and let us know their results – which means our future attempts at mapping dialect and language change should be much more precise,” added Leemann. “Users can also interact with us by recording their own dialect terms and this will let us see how the English language is evolving and moving from place to place.”

The app asks users how they pronounce certain words or which dialect term they most associate with commonly-used expressions; then produces a heat map for the likely location of your dialect based on your answers.

For example, the app asks how you might say the word ‘last’ or ‘shelf’, giving you various pronunciations to listen to before choosing which one most closely matches your own. Likewise, it asks questions such as: ‘A small piece of wood stuck under the skin is a…’ then gives answers including: spool, spile, speel, spell, spelk, shiver, spill, sliver, splinter or splint. The app then allows you to view which areas of the country use which variations at the end of the quiz.

It also asks the endlessly contentious English question of whether ‘scone’ rhymes with ‘gone’ or ‘cone’.

Read the whole thing.

28 May 2016

Stray Cat Sleeping on the Porch

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StrayCat
Heber City, Utah

KPCW

28 May 2016

Christakises (and Free Speech) Not Coming Back to Yale

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ScreamingStudent
The Shrieking Student confronting Master Christakis last November.

We saw this week the sad denouement of last Fall’s Great Halloween Costume Controversy at Yale.

The very liberal Master of Silliman College and his equally liberal wife and co-Master, were publicly denounced and vilified early last November for Mrs. Christakis’s daring to question the dictate on the vital issues of Halloween costuming laid down by Yale’s “Intercultural Affairs Committee,” a 13-member group of administrators from the Chaplain’s Office, campus cultural centers, and other campus organization. That committee urged students to be careful of the cultural implications of their Halloween costumes and to avoid trespassing upon the tender sensitivities of officially-recognized victim groups via the use of feathered headdresses, turbans, “war paint,” or blackface, all cases of inappropriate “cultural appropriation and/or misrepresentation.”

Co-Master Erika Christakis responded two days later, the night before Halloween with her own email, based on her professional expertise as a child development specialist, questioning the appropriateness of the university policing students’ choices of Halloween costumes:

    I don’t wish to trivialize genuine concerns about cultural and personal representation, and other challenges to our lived experience in a plural community. I know that many decent people have proposed guidelines on Halloween costumes from a spirit of avoiding hurt and offense. I laud those goals, in theory, as most of us do. But in practice, I wonder if we should reflect more transparently, as a community, on the consequences of an institutional (which is to say: bureaucratic and administrative) exercise of implied control over college students.

Christakis raised free speech and expression issues and then inquired philosophically:

    Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious… a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive? American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition.

Demonstrations ensued, an open letter denouncing Erika Christakis’s email was signed by hundreds and hundreds of students and faculty, Nicholas Christakis was confronted and abused by “the shrieking student,” Yale Dean Holloway was confronted and scolded by a crowd of students of color, demonstrators demanded the Yale Administration apologize and meet a long laundry list of demands, including the dismissal of both Christakises.

The University declined to fire the Christakises, and affirmed that they continued to have its support. But, Erika Christakis quit teaching at Yale last December, and her husband Nicholas announced soon thereafter that he would be taking a sabbatical for the Spring Semester.

On Wednesday this week, the Yale Daily News reported that, all that solid Administration support notwithstanding, what do you know? the Christakises will never be coming back.

Months after a controversial email helped spur sustained student protests last fall, Nicholas and Erika Christakis will step down as head and associate head of Silliman College, effective this July.

In a Wednesday afternoon email to the Silliman community, Nicholas Christakis announced that he submitted his resignation to University President Peter Salovey last week. The couple drew national attention last fall when a Halloween weekend email from Erika Christakis defending students’ rights to wear culturally appropriative costumes sparked outrage on campus.

At the time, many students and alumni called for the couple to resign their roles at the helm of Silliman College, arguing that the two could no longer serve as effective leaders of a college community designed to create a home for undergraduates. But others said their removal would constitute a serious blow to free speech on college campuses.

In his resignation announcement, Nicholas Christakis emphasized the importance of open intellectual debate, a stance which caused controversy last fall as many students argued that the emphasis on free speech came at the cost of student wellbeing and safety.

“We have great respect for every member of our community, friend and critic alike,” Nicholas Christakis wrote. “We remain hopeful that students at Yale can express themselves and engage complex ideas within an intellectually plural community. But we feel it is time to return full-time to our respective fields of public health and early childhood education.”

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education noted that Yale’s fidelity to its own supposed ironclad commitment to Free Speech seems to be less than ironclad in actual practice.

Now both professors have stepped down. The “glowing promises” … in Yale’s famed Woodward Report, which assures students and faculty members that they are free to “think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable” and states that “[a]mong the College’s most cherished principles is its commitment to freedom of expression.”

With the Christakises’ resignation, it’s clear that Yale’s ability to live up to its public promise to provide an environment that fosters free and robust debate has been called into sharp question.

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It is probably some Yale irate alumn who has singled out the shrieking student on Facebook for revenge.

DontHireJerelyn

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