Archive for February, 2017
28 Feb 2017

VDH On the 2016 Populist Revolt

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Victor Davis Hanson explains the 2016 Populist Revolt to his professional associates in elite Coastal California.

What America watches on television and on the silver screen is created either in Los Angeles or New York. The nation’s world-ranked Ivy League and West Coast universities are almost all in blue America. Wall Street, Silicon Valley and the preeminent financial institutions are likewise centered in urban corridors. The federal government operates in the progressive culture of Washington, D.C. The reasons for this lopsided concentration are part historical and part geographical, but not necessarily a referendum on either contemporary competency or character.

The result nonetheless is an abyss, in which power brokers who shape the way America is entertained, educated, financed and governed are often unaware of how half the country lives — or the effects of their own tastes and policies upon them. Yet the hinterland is no cul-de-sac, but rather the proud generator of most of the nation’s fuel, food and manufactured goods — the traditional stuff of civilization.

The Trump revolt was also a push back against winner-take-all globalization that enriched the populated coasts far more than the open spaces in between — that made London spiritually closer to Manhattan than to upstate New York, and Tokyo or Bangalore more attuned to the Bay Area than to the Central Valley a hundred miles away.

People outside of New York and San Francisco seemed to have the strange idea that the wheat they grew or the oil they fracked were just as important to Facebook and Goldman Sachs employees as the latter’s social media pages and stock portfolios were to farmers and oil drillers.

In part, the rural backlash was fueled by a sense that half the country — the quieter and more hidden half — did not like the cultural and economic trajectories on which the cities were taking the country. It was not just that they saw a $20 trillion debt, the slowest economic growth since the Hoover administration, a federal takeover of the health care system, offshoring, outsourcing and open borders as part of their plight.

Rather, they cited these as symptoms of a blinkered elite that had lost its bearings and was insulated from the reality that governs life elsewhere: debt really does have to be paid back rather than doubled in eight years. Something like the Affordable Care Act that is sold as offering more and costing less simply cannot be true. The cyberworld still does not bring food to the table, put fuel in the gas tank or produce wood floors and stainless steel appliances.

Urban elites seldom experience the full and often negative consequences of their own ideologies. And identifying people first by race, tribe or gender — by their allegiance to their appearance rather than to the content of their characters — has rarely led anywhere but to tribalism and eventual sectarian violence.

The result was that when Trump, the outsider without political experience, appeared as a hammer, rural America apparently was more than happy to throw him into the glass of the bicoastal establishment, without worrying too much about the shards that scattered.

Read the whole thing.

28 Feb 2017

Only in Australia

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In an engine shop in Victoria, Australia, a female redback spider (Latrodectus hasseltii) attacks a juvenile eastern brown snake (Pseudonaja textilis) that had become entangled in her web.

Eastern Brown Snake: “can be aggressive and is responsible for about 60% of snake bite deaths in Australia.”

Redback Spider: “responsible for the large majority of serious spider bites in Australia. Predominantly neurotoxic to vertebrates, its venom gives rise to pain, muscle rigidity, vomiting, and sweating.”

28 Feb 2017

“Authentic Food”

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Megan McArdle heartlessly debunks the haute bourgeois obsession with food traditions.

Americans of a certain social class love nothing more than an “authentic” food experience. It is the highest praise that they can heap on a restaurant. The ideal food is one that was perfected by honest local peasants in some picturesque locale, then served the same way for centuries, the traditions passed down from mother to daughter (less occasionally, from father to son), with stern admonitions not to dishonor their ancestry by making it wrong.

These American diners are constantly in a quest for their own lost heritage, along with the traditions of other peoples they don’t know very well. We live, the lore says, in a fallen state, victims of Big Agriculture and a food industry that has rendered everything bland, fatty and sweet. By tapping the traditions of centuries past — or other, poorer places — we can regain the paradise that our grandparents unaccountably abandoned. …

[M]uch of what we eat now as “authentic” is mostly some combination of peasant special-occasion dishes and the rich-people food of yesteryear, fused with modern technology and a global food-supply chain to become something quite different from what our ancestors ate, or the ancestors of people half a world away ate. And that’s OK. The baguette is delicious, and so is that pricey “peasant” loaf. But they are no better for having been invented decades ago than something that was invented last week, nor would they be better still if Caesar’s legions had been carrying them across Europe.

Read the whole thing.

27 Feb 2017

Faux Trump Tweet

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27 Feb 2017

What You Needed Last Night

27 Feb 2017

New Volume in Classic Series

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26 Feb 2017

So California Secedes, Then…

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Aesop contemplates with unholy glee what would happen if the fruits & nuts running California were actually to proceed with their Secession fantasy.

So Governor Moonbeam and the Progressive Communist Party apparatchiks, looking for all the world like a dog who caught a car, now have their own little socialist utopia, for discussion purposes. For as long as that lasts.

Half the Pacific Fleet is homeported in Alameda, Long Beach, and San Diego.

So, when President Trump declares the entire state in rebellion to the union, and orders the crews of any numbers of those ships to launch cruise missiles into the state capitol building, the governor’s mansion, etc., and knowing that their families are hostage to the whims of the leftists attempting secession, and knowing how radical and contrary and out-and-out leftist the members of the US military are(n’t), how many sailors are going to say “No, Mr. President.”

(Or should the question be better phrased as “How long before they carpet bomb every city’s government centers with cruise missiles and cluster bombs, and napalm most of the UC campuses, movie studios, television and radio stations “just to be safe”?)

One third of the Marine Corps – the First Marine Division, the First Marine Air Wing, etc. – is located at Camp Pendleton, Miramar MCAS, and MCB Twentynine Palms.

When SecDef Mattis tells them to seize and defend San Diego, the greater Los Angeles area as far north as Santa Barbara, and secure the US border with Mexico, do you figure they’re going to take a pass?

And how many people do you think they’ll have to kill outright, vs. how many will they round up and hold in their underpants in stockades in the desert at 29 Palms, for sedition and treason trials in batches?

When reinforced by USAF squadrons from Nellis AFB in Nevada, and from AFBs in AZ and NM, how long do you think it will take components of the USAF at Vandenburg AFB and Edwards AFB, etc. to reduce Sacramento, San Francisco, and most of leftist bastions in coastal CA from Monterrey to Oregon to smoking Dresden-like heaps of ashes after the firestorm? Will it be a full hour, or more like seven minutes?

When the 40th Div., CA NG (yes, the frickin’ CA National Guard) is informed they’ve been federalized, do they honor their oaths, or become the palace guard of the 40-second commissariat?

(Or more realistically, how long before they call the Pentagon and let them know that have Gov. Moonbeam’s head – just that – mounted on a handy display pole?)

When the 40-45% of Californians who vote Republican, own metric fucktons of guns, and are sick of the nanny-statist shit going back 50 years have the opportunity to start taking out the opposition, do you figure their biggest problem will be organizing, or will it be making sure everyone has enough targets to shoot at, so no one feels left out before it’s all over, way too fast, and the inevitable clean-up of bodies has to begin?

And will they have to take out the cops defending the new communist utopia, or will their biggest problem be keeping up with the cops who change sides en masse, organize, and start taking out every city government pro-actively, and holding them under arrest in Death Valley until the arrival of federal forces from outside CA?

When the eastern 3/4’s of the state that is redder than a sunburned pig realizes there’s no way past them, especially after AZ, NV, and OR NG units are federalized and seal the borders, do they march on the coastal enclaves and go all Genghis Khan, lopping off heads, pillaging, and so on; or do they simply drive the leftist herds of footie pajama-clad cocoa-sipping nancy boys right into the fucking Pacific, and watch them swim (partway) to China?

That takes us to Monday afternoon, on the first day after the vote, to about 2PM.

We can stop there, and anyone who sees that going some other way can show their work in comments.

My biggest quandary if this looked like it had a snowball’s chance in hell would be wondering if I could get a good file and handle to sharpen my bayonet, or whether prep time would be better spent acquiring a pair of waders to keep the blood running in the streets from ruining a perfectly good pair of trousers. And wondering whether it’s more ethical to loan Molotov cocktails, versus selling them for cash to those who hadn’t brought any from home.

Hat tip to Vanderleun.

26 Feb 2017

Math for the Social Justice Major

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Yale Classmate Seattle Sam writes:

I created a course that I think will be in next year’s Yale course catalog.

Math for the Social Justice Major

Mathematics was devised by old white men who sought to oppress the uneducated masses. In this course we will explore a more empathetic approach to the subject.

The course will explore questions such as:

How does the number 6 make you feel?

If John has 6 marbles and Sue has 2, isn’t that unfair?

How can there be any “incorrect” answers?

Isn’t identifying a number as “positive” or negative” stereotyping?

If you identify with 5 more than 4, why shouldn’t that be a solution to 2+2=?

What did Euclid know and when did he know it?

Isn’t a null set non-inclusive?

What should you do if the solution to an equation make you feel unsafe?

Shouldn’t we just deem the Parallel Postulate proved?

What’s the point of carrying pi out to more than two decimals?

Aren’t < and > judgmental symbols?

Who are you to determine that a fraction is improper?

Why do you think prime numbers have only a token even member?

Why shouldn’t an inverse tangent have the same value as a cosine?

Aren’t right angles reactionary?

Are there really any absolute values?

Why should binomials and polynomials be considered deviants?

Isn’t a Real Number just your perception?

Just because a number can’t be expressed as a ratio of integers, why should it be called irrational?

25 Feb 2017

End of the Greenland Colony

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Ruins of Hvalsey Church, Greenland.

Tim Folger, at Smithsonian, describes the current academic debate over the vanishing of the Viking colony on Greenland.

Archaeologists once assumed that the Norse in Greenland were primarily farmers who did some hunting on the side. Now it seems clear that the reverse was true. They were ivory hunters first and foremost, their farms only a means to an end. Why else would ivory fragments be so prevalent among the excavated sites? And why else would the Vikings send so many able-bodied men on hunting expeditions to the far north at the height of the farming season? “There was a huge potential for ivory export,” says Smiarowski, “and they set up farms to support that.” Ivory drew them to Greenland, ivory kept them there, and their attachment to that toothy trove may be what eventually doomed them.

**********

When the Norse arrived in Greenland, there were no locals to teach them how to live. “The Scandinavians had this remarkable ability to colonize these high-latitude islands,” says Andrew Dugmore. “You have to be able to hunt wild animals; you have to build up your livestock; you have to work hard to exist in these areas….This is about as far as you can push the farming system in the Northern Hemisphere.”

And push it they did. The growing season was short, and the land vulnerable to overgrazing. Ian Simpson has spent many seasons in Greenland studying soil layers where the Vikings farmed. The strata, he says, clearly show the impact of their arrival: The earliest layers are thinner, with less organic material, but within a generation or two the layers stabilized and the organic matter built up as the Norse farmwomen manured and improved their fields while the men were out hunting. “You can interpret that as being a sign of adaptation, of them getting used to the landscape and being able to read it a little better,” Simpson says.

For all their intrepidness, though, the Norse were far from self-sufficient, and imported grains, iron, wine and other essentials. Ivory was their currency. “Norse society in Greenland couldn’t survive without trade with Europe,” says Arneborg, “and that’s from day one.”

Then, in the 13th century, after three centuries, their world changed profoundly. First, the climate cooled because of the volcanic eruption in Indonesia. Sea ice increased, and so did ocean storms—ice cores from that period contain more salt from oceanic winds that blew over the ice sheet. Second, the market for walrus ivory collapsed, partly because Portugal and other countries started to open trade routes into sub-Saharan Africa, which brought elephant ivory to the European market. “The fashion for ivory began to wane,” says Dugmore, “and there was also the competition with elephant ivory, which was much better quality.” And finally, the Black Death devastated Europe. There is no evidence that the plague ever reached Greenland, but half the population of Norway—which was Greenland’s lifeline to the civilized world—perished.

The Norse probably could have survived any one of those calamities separately. After all, they remained in Greenland for at least a century after the climate changed, so the onset of colder conditions alone wasn’t enough to undo them. Moreover, they were still building new churches—like the one at Hvalsey—in the 14th century. But all three blows must have left them reeling. With nothing to exchange for European goods—and with fewer Europeans left—their way of life would have been impossible to maintain. The Greenland Vikings were essentially victims of globalization and a pandemic.

“If you consider the world today, many communities will face exposure to climate change,” says Dugmore. “They’ll also face issues of globalization. The really difficult bit is when you have exposure to both.”

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So what was the endgame like in Greenland? Although archaeologists now agree that the Norse did about as well as any society could in confronting existential threats, they remain divided over how the Vikings’ last days played out. Some believe that the Norse, faced with the triple threat of economic collapse, pandemic and climate change, simply packed up and left. Others say the Norse, despite their adaptive ingenuity, met a far grimmer fate.

For McGovern, the answer is clear. “I think in the end this was a real tragedy. This was the loss of a small community, a thousand people maybe at the end. This was extinction.”

The Norse, he says, were especially vulnerable to sudden death at sea. Revised population estimates, based on more accurate tallies of the number of farms and graves, put the Norse Greenlanders at no more than 2,500 at their peak—less than half the conventional figure. Every spring and summer, nearly all the men would be far from home, hunting. As conditions for raising cattle worsened, the seal hunts would have been ever more vital—and more hazardous. Despite the decline of the ivory trade, the Norse apparently continued to hunt walrus until the very end. So a single storm at sea could have wiped out a substantial number of Greenland’s men—and by the 14th century the weather was increasingly stormy. “You see similar things happening at other places and other times,” McGovern says. “In 1881, there was a catastrophic storm when the Shetland fishing fleet was out in these little boats. In one afternoon about 80 percent of the men and boys of the Shetlands drowned. A whole bunch of little communities never recovered.”

Norse society itself comprised two very small communities: the Eastern and Western settlements. With such a sparse population, any loss—whether from death or emigration—would have placed an enormous strain on the survivors. “If there weren’t enough of them, the seal hunt would not be successful,” says Smiarowski. “And if it was not successful for a couple of years in a row, then it would be devastating.”

McGovern thinks a few people might have migrated out, but he rules out any sort of exodus. If Greenlanders had emigrated en masse to Iceland or Norway, surely there would have been a record of such an event. Both countries were literate societies, with a penchant for writing down important news. “If you had hundreds or a thousand people coming out of Greenland,” McGovern says, “someone would have noticed.”

Niels Lynnerup, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Copenhagen who has studied Viking burial sites in Greenland, isn’t so sure. “I think in Greenland it happened very gradually and undramatically,” he tells me as we sit in his office, beneath a poster of the Belgian cartoon character Tintin. “Maybe it’s the usual human story. People move to where there are resources. And they move away when something doesn’t work for them.” As for the silence of the historical record, he says, a gradual departure might not have attracted much attention.

The ruins themselves hint at an orderly departure. There is no evidence of conflict with the Inuit or of any intentional damage to homesteads. And aside from a gold ring found on the skeletal finger of a bishop at Gardar, and his narwhal-tusk staff, no items of real value have been found at any sites in Greenland. “When you abandon a small settlement, what do you take with you? The valuables, the family jewelry,” says Lynnerup. “You don’t leave your sword or your good metal knife….You don’t abandon Christ on his crucifix. You take that along. I’m sure the cathedral would have had some paraphernalia—cups, candelabras—which we know medieval churches have, but which have never been found in Greenland.”

Jette Arneborg and her colleagues found evidence of a tidy leave-taking at a Western Settlement homestead known as the Farm Beneath the Sands. The doors on all but one of the rooms had rotted away, and there were signs that abandoned sheep had entered those doorless rooms. But one room retained a door, and it was closed. “It was totally clean. No sheep had been in that room,” says Arneborg. For her, the implications are obvious. “They cleaned up, took what they wanted, and left. They even closed the doors.”

Perhaps the Norse could have toughed it out in Greenland by fully adopting the ways of the Inuit. But that would have meant a complete surrender of their identity. They were civilized Europeans—not skraelings, or wretches, as they called the Inuit. “Why didn’t the Norse just go native?” Lynnerup asks. “Why didn’t the Puritans just go native? But of course they didn’t. There was never any question of the Europeans who came to America becoming nomadic and living off buffalo.”

We do know that at least two people made it out of Greenland alive: Sigrid Bjornsdottir and Thorstein Olafsson, the couple who married at Hvalsey’s church. They eventually settled in Iceland, and in 1424, for reasons lost to history, they needed to provide letters and witnesses proving that they had been married in Greenland. Whether they were among a lucky few survivors or part of a larger immigrant community may remain unknown. But there’s a chance that Greenland’s Vikings never vanished, that their descendants are with us still.

Read the whole thing.

25 Feb 2017

“A Desert Called Glass”

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An engaging little story by an unknown author playfully imagines the permanent solution to the problem of the religious obligation of the Islamic faithful to wage war upon unbelievers.

They were all gathered in one place. The Hajj was the perfect time to have a strategy and coordination meeting. The blessings of Allah and his prophet were on them all. They had just sat down to a meal of traditional rice and lamb and were going to save the business talk for later. They had time. Their sources told them that their enemies were on the run and had unilaterally given up and gone home. The hated Americans had no stomach for a fight and abandoned Iraq, Afghanistan, and the rest of the Islamic world. Even the filthy Jews seemed to have pulled back their spies and allies to their own territory. This was the perfect time to go on the offensive. The entire Western world would learn submission.

***

On the border between India and Pakistan, a different conversation is taking place. A junior captain in the Indian Strategic Rocket forces has an uncontrollable smile on his face. “REALLY? You would not be shitting on me like this?” His commander confirms, “it is an order, from the top. We will be eliminating our nuclear stockpile as part of our new treaty with America and the Russians. A Global peace initiative.” The Indian captain smiles broadly. Good cheer spreads to the other officers in the room and he sat at his control console and began to enter the instructions.

***
35,000 feet over the Islamic Republic of Iran, an obsolete Russian Airplane was lumbering along on a direct path to Tehran International Airport. The pilot was hand chosen. He had lost his only son when Islamic terrorists stormed the child’s school years earlier. He didn’t really care about the orders he had. Something about global peace initiative to reduce nuclear stockpiles. But he was really happy to be delivering this particular cargo.

***
Mecca – Coffee was being served and greasy hands were being cleaned on shirt fronts. Servants were carrying away the remains of the feast.

Then it all changed in a blink.

The people inside did not even have time for their minds to register confusion about what was happening to them.

And then they were gone.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Vanderleun.

24 Feb 2017

Why McMaster? Read Below

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Task and Purpose thinks Donald Trump made a good National Security Adviser appointment.

Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster earned his reputation for being an incredible military officer not in the Pentagon or inside the D.C. beltway, but in one of the fiercest tank battles in military history. In 1991, McMaster was a 28-year-old Army captain, and commander of a small section called Eagle Troop, Second Squadron, Second Armored Cavalry Regiment.

McMaster found himself in Iraq during the Gulf War to intervene against then-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s incursion on Kuwait. In one of the key resulting battles, the Battle of 73 Easting, McMaster would emerge a legend and a war hero.

It was Feb. 26, 1991. McMaster’s regiment was tasked with serving as the forward covering element of the VII Corps as it advanced into Iraq. But McMaster’s small unit ran up against a much larger brigade of the Iraqi Republican Guard’s Tawakalna Division and elements of its 10th Armored Division. That enemy unit was commanded by a man McMaster refers to in his writing only as “Major Mohammed.”
An Iraqi Type 69 main battle tank burns after an attack by the 1st United Kingdom Armored Division during Operation Desert Storm.

Mohammed was an experienced combat officer, who had been trained in the United States and was a graduate of the Army’s demanding Infantry Officer Advanced Course at Fort Benning, Georgia, according to a profile of the battle McMaster wrote in the online war journal the Strategy Bridge.

“Mohammed’s defense was fundamentally sound. He took advantage of an imperceptible rise in the terrain that ran perpendicular to the road and directly through the village to organize a reverse slope defense on the east side of that ridge. He anticipated that upon encountering his strong point at the village, we would bypass it either to the north or south,” McMaster wrote. “He built two engagement areas or kill sacks on the eastern side of the ridge to the north and the south of the village, emplaced minefields to disrupt forward movement, and dug in approximately forty tanks and sixteen BMPs about one thousand meters from the ridge. His plan was to engage and destroy us piecemeal as we moved over the crest.”

McMaster’s unit was much smaller, comprising nine M1A1 Abrams tanks, 12 M3A2 Bradley fighting vehicles, a small number of support vehicles, and a total of 140 soldiers. They wiped out Mohammed’s forces in 23 minutes, destroying roughly 30 tanks, 20 personnel carriers, and 30 trucks in what would be called the last great tank battle of the 20th century. …

McMaster wrote an in-depth account of how he pulled off the devastating victory soon after he redeployed to the United States in 1991. He wanted to create a bit of a manual on effective tank warfare that he felt he lacked as a young commander, as well as create a written account of Eagle Troop’s exploits for the American public.

Full Story.

23 Feb 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Poster Leaked

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23 Feb 2017

Denmark Paid Welfare Benefits to ISIS Fighters

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84% of Denmark’s welfare recipients are of non-Western origin. (17 Mar 2016)

New York Times:

The Danish government has been inadvertently paying benefits to citizens fighting for the Islamic State in Syria, Danish officials said Tuesday, as outrage grows that militants are manipulating the country’s generous welfare system.

About 145 Danes have traveled to Syria or Iraq to fight for militant groups since 2012, according to the Danish security and intelligence services.

Officials said this week that they had identified a number of Danish citizens who, while receiving government disability pensions, had traveled to Syria to join the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

“It is a huge scandal that we are paying out money from the welfare funds in Denmark to people who are going to Syria and elsewhere in the world to undermine democracy that we have been fighting for for hundreds of years,” the country’s minister of labor, Troels Lund Poulsen, said.

Last year, the news media reported that more than two dozen Danish citizens receiving unemployment benefits had traveled to Syria to fight for ISIS, even though the law requires recipients to live in Denmark.

Read the whole thing.

23 Feb 2017

How Dare He?

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News.grabien.com:

Controlling “exactly what people think” is the job of the media, MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski boldly declared Wednesday morning.

While discussing President Trump’s entreaties to the American people to remain skeptical of the press, Bzezinski worried that if the economy turns south, Americans may end up trusting him over the media.

“And it could be that while unemployment and the economy worsens, he could have undermined the messaging so much that he can actually control exactly what people think,” Brzezinski said. “And that, that is our job.”

    SCARBOROUGH: “Exactly. That is exactly what I hear. What Yamiche said is what I hear from all the Trump supporters that I talk to who were Trump voters and are still Trump supporters. They go, ‘Yeah you guys are going crazy. He’s doing — what are you so surprised about? He is doing exactly what he said he is going to do.'”

    BRZEZINSKI: “Well, I think that the dangerous, you know, edges here are that he is trying to undermine the media and trying to make up his own facts. And it could be that while unemployment and the economy worsens, he could have undermined the messaging so much that he can actually control exactly what people think. And that, that is our job.”

Video here

Cartoon Hat tip to Margot Darby.

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