Archive for March, 2017
31 Mar 2017

The Australian Bin Chicken

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Threskiornis moluccus:

“Historically rare in urban areas, the Australian white ibis has immigrated to urban areas of the east coast in increasing numbers since the late 1970s; it is now commonly seen in Wollongong, Sydney, Melbourne, the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Townsville. In recent years the bird has also become increasing common in Perth, Western Australia and surrounding towns in south-western Australia. Populations have disappeared from natural breeding areas such as the Macquarie Marshes in north-western New South Wales. Management plans have been introduced to control problematic urban populations in Sydney.”

Hat tip to SuperversiveSF.

31 Mar 2017

Universities “Full of Passionate Intensity”

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Flagg Taylor, taking the riots at Middlebury over a proposed talk by Charles Murray as an example, discusses how training in activism and applause for passion and commitment have replaced the quest for truth and the cultivation of the mind as goals for the modern (post-Gramscian Long March) university.

Training in politically correct opinions is designed self-consciously to churn out activists or silence dissenters. One must display one’s passionate commitment to these correct opinions; subjects like race and inequality are not really up for discussion, notwithstanding the omnipresent talk of “dialogue” and ceaseless self-congratulatory paeans to diversity.

But the praise of passion and engagement has another less noticeable but pernicious consequence. The loud, confident voices are applauded, but the quiet students are presumed not to be “engaged.” At best they are called apathetic, at worst they are “part of the problem.” Thus what institutions of higher learning have done with this fetishization of passion is to destroy the space for intellectual modesty. Some students might think, very naturally, “I really don’t know enough about that topic to have a strong opinion.” But the general atmosphere tells them to get committed, get passionate; there is no time to waste! For those who, perhaps instinctually, turn away from the politically correct opinions to which they are supposed to give their passionate embrace, what is left is most often a cynical distance from anything that smells of politics. So the destruction of the space of intellectual modesty leaves a desiccated field strewn with impassioned fanatics, knowing cynics, and careerists willing so say whatever provides the path of least resistance.

Read the whole thing.

31 Mar 2017

No More Freshmen at Yale

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Camille Lizarríbar, Yale’s Dean of Student Affairs

OCD:

As the University considers replacing the term “freshman” with the gender-neutral term “first-year,” several administrators have begun using the language in their official correspondence with students in advance of any formal change.

According to Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Hannah Peck, freshman counselors will now be recognized officially as “first-year counselors.” In an email to the News on Wednesday, Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway said there were no new developments in a strategic plan for the change or a formal timeline for its implementation.

Still, in an acceptance email Peck sent to next year’s class of FroCos, she referred to the position using the new name and did not give an explanation for the change. And in an email to Timothy Dwight students about housing arrangements, TD Dean Sarah Mahurin used both “first year students” and “freshmen.”

Dean of Student Affairs Camille Lizarríbar, who is leading the name-change efforts, previously told the News that administrators were committed to replacing the term “freshman” and that the change would likely become official before next academic year starts.

Why would anybody attend a school run by these kinds of douchebags?

31 Mar 2017

Yale English Department: Out With Shakespeare, In With Toni Morrison

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Oldest College Daily:

English Department faculty voted Tuesday to change the requirements for the major in an effort to increase the curriculum’s diversity, represent more literary periods and make the major more flexible.

The department’s 30 voting faculty were “overwhelmingly in favor” of reform, according to English professor Leslie Brisman. The revised curriculum, which has yet to be finalized, places equal importance on every major historical period from medieval to contemporary, rather than requiring students to take three pre-1800 courses before studying modern literature, and cuts the number of required courses from 14 to 12. The proposed changes would also double the number of ways to fulfill the major’s central requirements, allowing students to take English 127 and 128, an American literature introductory sequence, in place of the long-standing “Major English Poets” sequence.

The decision, which the department has not formally announced, comes nearly one year after 160 students signed a petition calling for the department to “decolonize” its course offerings.

“The solution we ended up with makes an implicit promise to students, which the department is deeply committed to honoring: that is, that students should and will encounter a broad diversity of texts, writers and traditions within every period,” English professor Catherine Nicholson said. “The form that diversity takes will vary across time, of course, which is part of the point, but no period will simply and exclusively focus on the writing representations of aristocratic white men.”

These requirements will apply to undergraduates in the class of 2021 and onward, according to acting English Department Chair Ruth Yeazell GRD ’71.

Rather than impose a “diversity requirement” or a “contemporary literature requirement,” Brisman said, the department voted to create a new English 128 course called “World Anglophone Literature,” which may have a historical breadth as well as an emphasis on contemporary literature. He explained the decision to elevate English 127 and 128 to a status equivalent to that of English 125 and 126 was intended to “tear down the barrier between canonical and noncanonical authors” while removing poetry from its “privileged position” within the Yale English Department.

Brisman said the department aims to better respond to student interest in diversity by increasing the number of courses featuring works by women and people of color, as well as authors who wrote in English but lived in non-English speaking countries. Several courses on the early histories of racial and religious differences are in the works, Nicholson said, adding that she and a colleague are discussing a cross-period course on early female writers.

Director of Undergraduate Studies and English professor Jessica Brantley said the department periodically revises the curriculum, but the past year’s conversations have taken on “added urgency” because of campus and national discussions about inclusion. She added that the new major better reflects the work and spirit of the department as well as the needs and desires of its students.

“We’ve constructed a curriculum that has inclusion as its goal, embedded in the structures of its requirements, and I’m very excited to implement and develop that curriculum further,” Brantley said.

Previously, English majors had four historical distribution requirements: three pre-1800 and one pre-1900. The revised requirements aim to make the department’s commitment to historical range better reflect its “actual sense of what’s important and why” by including every major historical period and valuing each equally, Nicholson said.

Faculty members debated between requiring students to take four out of five historical periods — medieval, Renaissance, 18th century, 19th century and 20th/21st century — or combining the 18th and 19th centuries into a unit and requiring students to take all four periods. Nicholson said the final decision to require four out of four periods reflects the fact that faculty members want students to encounter the broadest possible range of materials and writers.

“In sum, the new requirements give further guidance to students about sampling the variety of English literature of all kinds and periods, but they also allow more choice in shaping a major that suits the student’s particular interests,” Brisman said. …

Brisman said student feedback informed the process, since faculty members acknowledged during the negotiations that requiring three pre-1800 courses and one pre-1900 course made it look as though the department valued those courses more than contemporary or diversity literature.

“We hope that the new structure of requirements will give our students a strong foundation in the history of writing in English over the millennia, while introducing them to writers and periods whose cultures and perspectives might initially seem remote from their own,” Yeazell said.

Adriana Miele ’16, one of the petition’s signatories and a former opinion columnist for the News, said her experiences as one of the few nonwhite students in the English major showed her that the department needed to broaden its approach to literature. Still, Miele said she worries that the English Department’s push for diversity may be only superficial.

“The fact that there are so few nonwhite scholars [in the department] makes me really skeptical of any advancements that can be made,” Miele said. “But it’s definitely moving in the right direction.”

English major Frances Lindemann ’19 called the change “fantastic and long overdue.” She added that it would be impossible to represent all groups of people in a semesterlong course, but requiring a single sequence and calling it “Major English Poets” falsely suggests this collection of authors is the most important and the only one worth studying. Lindemann said she would like to see the department develop a more inclusive range of prerequisite options to make students feel more welcome in the major.

Some students acknowledged that the new requirements shift attention away from poetry. Brisman said he hopes students will continue to gravitate toward classes focusing on Milton and Shakespeare, but he suspects students overall will move away from canonical authors toward other, less canonical ones.

Full story.

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What can one say, looking on as those specially charged with the preservation and transmission of our civilization decline to defend it and surrender spinelessly to the whims and vanity of the barbarous young?

It obviously never occurred to any of the leading faculty members of the Yale English Department (in my day universally regarded as the best in the country, possibly in the world) to quote that notable representative of diversity W.E.B. DuBois:

I sit with Shakespeare, and he winces not. Across the color line I move arm and arm with Balzac and Dumas, where smiling men and welcoming women glide in gilded halls. From out of the caves of evening that swing between the strong-limbed Earth and the tracery of stars, I summon Aristotle and Aurelius and what soul I will, and they come all graciously with no scorn nor condescension. So, wed with Truth, I dwell above the veil. Is this the life you grudge us, O knightly America? Is this the life you long to change into the dull red hideousness of Georgia? Are you so afraid lest peering from this high Pisgah, between Philistine and Amalekite, we sight the Promised Land?”

What a thing it is to live in a time when those appointed to the most prestigious position in the land devoted to the study of the Canon of the English Language are not prepared to tell the ignorant young that “Yes, this collection of authors really is the most important and, by far, the most worth studying. And if you do not care to study these authors, you will not receive a degree in English from this department.”

31 Mar 2017

“Fewer Than 1% of Papers Published in Today’s Scientific Journals Follow Scientific Method”

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Breitbart has some really bad news.

Fewer than 1 percent of papers published in scientific journals follow the scientific method, according to research by Wharton School professor and forecasting expert J. Scott Armstrong.

Professor Armstrong, who co-founded the peer-reviewed Journal of Forecasting in 1982 and the International Journal of Forecasting in 1985, made the claim in a presentation about what he considers to be “alarmism” from forecasters over man-made climate change.

“We also go through journals and rate how well they conform to the scientific method. I used to think that maybe 10 percent of papers in my field … were maybe useful. Now it looks like maybe, one tenth of one percent follow the scientific method” said Armstrong in his presentation, which can be watched in full below. “People just don’t do it.”

Armstrong defined eight criteria for compliance with the scientific method, including full disclosure of methods, data, and other reliable information, conclusions that are consistent with the evidence, valid and simple methods, and valid and reliable data.

According to Armstrong, very little of the forecasting in climate change debate adheres to these criteria. “For example, for disclosure, we were working on polar bear [population] forecasts, and we were asked to review the government’s polar bear forecast. We asked, ‘could you send us the data’ and they said ‘No’… So we had to do it without knowing what the data were.”

According to Armstrong, forecasts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) violate all eight criteria.

“Why is this all happening? Nobody asks them!” said Armstrong, who says that people who submit papers to journals are not required to follow the scientific method.

A must-read.

31 Mar 2017

History: New York City’s Professional Nose

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Atlas Obscura recalls a bit of New York City history.

Leaky. Smelly. The Sniffer.

These were all nicknames for one of the more unusual figures in New York City’s history, James Kelly. For decades, “Smelly” Kelly walked the tracks using his seemingly superhuman senses, plus a handful of homemade inventions, to track down hazards, leaks, poop, and eels in New York’s sprawling subway system.

Today New York’s subways are equipped with high-tech machines that sample the air, looking for potential warning signs of dangerous gas build-up, or even biological and chemical agents. But in the early days of the subway, which opened its first underground line in 1904, such detection efforts were left to the keen watch of rough-and-ready subway workers. And there was no one better at ferreting out leaks and problems than Kelly. …

Almost a cartoon of a gruff New Yorker, Kelly was described in the July 26, 1941, issue of The New Yorker as “a hardy, red-faced, Kilkenny Irishman.” His recorded quotes come off in a stern, affirmative staccato. In Daley’s book, Kelly says that all it takes to be a good underground leak detector are “quick ears, good nose, better feet.”

It only took a few years before Kelly gained a reputation for his uncanny ability to locate leaks that no one else could find. As retold in Daley’s [1959] book, [The World Beneath the City,] Kelly was once called to the Hotel New Yorker to investigate a rotten stench. Engineers had located a sewage leak behind one of the walls, but couldn’t pinpoint it. As the story goes, Kelly walked in, confidently announced that he could locate the broken pipe within a half an hour, and got to work. He flushed a staining agent, uranine, down the toilet, and before long, a portion of the wall began to take on a yellow color, indicating the busted pipe was behind it. Daley quotes Kelly as saying, “After that, I was in leaks for keeps.”

Kelly rose to the official position of Foreman in the Structures Division of the Board of Transportation, and was given a small team of assistants (reports differ as to whether he had five or six on his team) who were available around the clock. Kelly and his team were tasked with walking New York’s underground, looking for signs of leaks. Kelly’s exploits soon became the stuff of local legend.

he and his team were said to walk ten miles of track each day, looking for damp spots or other signs of leaks, and using some unorthodox tools of Kelly’s own design to track them down. Kelly was known for a handful of gadgets he had built to help him in his work.

Most notable was the “Aquaphone,” a standard telephone receiver with a copper wire attached to the diaphragm. He would touch the trailing end of the wire to fire hydrants and listen for a hiss that would let him know a leak was near. Another of his creations was a doctor’s stethoscope to which he’d attached a steel rod, which he would touch to pavement to listen for leaks. He is also said to have carried around a map of Manhattan from 1763, which gave him an indication of natural springs and other pre-existing sources of water.

The New Yorker piece shares another common story about Kelly, which was his knack for finding eels and fish that clogged up pipes. In the early 1940s, it wasn’t uncommon for fish to be drawn into the city’s water system from the reservoirs, ending up trapped in pipes and generally mucking things up. Among the creatures Kelly claimed to have pulled out of various parts of the system were a school of 40 killifish that he discovered in a subway bathroom on 145th Street; a two-and-a-half foot eel he’d fished from a sink pipe in a 42nd Street station; and as The New Yorker put it, “a spanking ten-inch trout, which would have been a noteworthy fish, even if it hadn’t been found splashing gaily in a two-foot water main in a Grand Concourse lavatory.

Full story.

30 Mar 2017

Gun Free Zone

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Brazilian 3:18 video mocking liberal thinking.

30 Mar 2017

Things Guys Like

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Max Acie is deeply moved by old-time police uniforms, classic Indian Scout motorcycles, and the Model 1895 Colt-Browning “Potato-Digger” Machine Gun.

You would never have any trouble finding willing recruits if this was your recruiting poster. It doesn’t matter if you’re organizing an army or a Mah Jong tournament. That picture sells, baby. It has everything:

Uniforms
Indian motorcycles
A sidecar
A machine gun mounted to the sidecar

Other than three hots and a cot, no man needs more. That’s the four macho food groups right there, in one recipe. I’d join. I don’t even know what it is, and I’d sign the enlistment papers. I mean, I certainly hope they’re good guys, and they are planning on machine-gunning only bad people who have it coming. However, if they’re planning on running over puppies and strafing orphanages, I’d have to pause for at least five seconds before signing up to think it over. But I’d sign up. A man’s only human.

Via Vanderleun.

30 Mar 2017

Not the Same Catholic Church I Attended as a Boy

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Eponymous Flower:

On March 24, a meeting of Pope Francis held a celebration with 27 leaders of the world on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, in which this “curious” shot of Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, a well-known pro-sodomy activist, along with his “husband”, was taken.

Attentive to this least “strange” event in the Vatican itself, is the leftist Secretary General of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias who has been quick to point it out with a complain about how Cardinal Cañizares is supposed to hate sodomites

30 Mar 2017

Missing Man Found Inside 23-Foot Python

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National Geographic:

At first the video is blurry and difficult to make out. A bunch of men standing around a python begin slicing its belly down the middle. It soon becomes apparent that something of note is inside the giant snake, but it’s not immediately clear what has drawn so much attention.

Then you see it: An entire grown man, swallowed whole, lies dead inside the python.

According to local news reports, the body found inside the 23-foot-long snake turned out to be 25-year-old Akbar Salubiro, a harvester who worked on a palm oil plantation on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. He was reported missing on March 26.

Local media also report that the snake involved is a reticulated python. These snakes are among some of the largest in the world, growing over 20 feet long and weighing more than a hundred pounds.

Full story.

29 Mar 2017

Paul Ryan Should Have Listened to This Guy

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Avik Roy is a graduate of Yale Medical School who has published extensively on the problems of America’s current health system and Health Care Reform.

Republican and conservative leaders failed the cause of free-market health reform in three principal ways. First, they failed to make a moral case for replacing Obamacare, as opposed to purely repealing it. As a result, they then failed to unite the hard-line and pragmatic wings of the GOP around a coherent health-care-reform proposal. And due to the ambitions of the 100-day legislative agenda, and the peculiar legislative calendar associated with the Senate’s reconciliation process, they chose not to invest the time in getting health-care reform right.

Conservatives intuitively understand the moral case for repealing Obamacare. The law significantly expands the role and scope of the federal government in determining Americans’ personal health-care choices. Its individual mandate is a constitutional injury. And its Rube Goldberg-like maze of insurance regulations has made health insurance unaffordable for millions.

But when it came to replacing Obamacare, Republicans usually presented the case in exclusively political terms: Replacement was necessary because the alternative would be daily front-page stories of the millions thrown off of their health-care plans by the GOP Congress. Conservatives rarely attempted to make a moral case for replacing Obamacare. Indeed, if you believe that the federal government has no legitimate role in helping the uninsured afford health coverage, your intuition is that there isn’t a moral case for replacing Obamacare. …

That intuition is understandable, but mistaken, because it is in fact the federal government that has made health insurance so costly through seven decades of unwise policies. Those policies include the exclusion from taxation of employer-sponsored health insurance, an outgrowth of World War II-era wage controls. They include the enactment of the Great Society entitlements, Medicare and Medicaid, in 1965. They include the EMTALA law, signed by President Reagan, that guaranteed free emergency-room coverage to everyone, including the uninsured and illegal immigrants. And they include Obamacare.

This seven-decade pileup of federal intervention in the health-care system is directly — and exclusively — responsible for the astronomical costs of the present-day American health-care system. It is not right, when confronted with such a state of affairs, to shrug our shoulders and say “tough luck” to those who can’t afford insurance. Indeed, we have an affirmative duty to reform federal policies so as to make health insurance once again affordable for the working poor.

Read the whole thing.

29 Mar 2017

A Room With a View

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Daily Mail:

A New York architecture firm has unveiled designs for a skyscraper that is out of this world.

Deemed the ‘world’s tallest building ever’, Analemma Tower will be suspended from an orbiting asteroid 31,068 miles (50,000 km) above the Earth– and the only way to leave is by parachute.

The orbital path would swing the tower in a figure eight pattern between the northern and southern hemispheres each day, taking residents on a tour through different parts of the world – all in just a 24 hour orbital cycle. …

The design will use a system called the Universal Orbital Support System (UOSS), which attaches a high strength cable to an asteroid that is lowered to Earth and then attached to the tower.

‘Since this new tower typology is suspended in the air, it can be constructed anywhere in the world and transported to its final location,’ Clouds Architecture Office shared on its website.

‘The proposal calls for Analemma to be constructed over Dubai, which has proven to be a specialist in tall building construction at one fifth the cost of New York City construction.’ …

The massive skyscraper will be setup in sections and each with a designated purpose.

Business will be conducted at the lower end of the towers and sleeping quarters will be positioned two-thirds of the way up the building.

Residents will also have access to a gardening area, a place for worship and in the bottom level will be sections for dining, shopping and entertainment.

The architects plan to take full advantage of the skyscraper’s location and will place solar panels at the upper most levels to generate power from the sun.

And residents will enjoy fresh water from condensation of clouds and rainwater, which will be collected and purified. …

The tower would travel on a figure eight path over certain major cities in the northern and southern hemispheres – this includes New York City, Havana, Atlanta and Panama City.

And the amount of daylight increases by 40 minutes at the top of the tower due to the curvature of the Earth.

‘Analemma can be placed in an eccentric geosynchronous orbit which would allow it to travel between the northern and southern hemispheres on a daily loop,’ Clouds Architecture Office explained.

‘The ground trace for this pendulum tower would be a figure eight, where the tower would move at its slowest speed at the top and bottom of the figure eight allowing the possibility for the towers occupants to interface with the planet’s surface at these points.’

‘The proposed orbit is calibrated so the slowest part of the towers trajectory occurs over New York City.’

while researching atmospheric conditions for the project, the team discovered that there is most likely a height that people could not tolerate due to the extreme conditions.

‘For example, while there may be a benefit to having 45 extra minutes of daylight at an elevation of 32,000 meters, the near vacuum and -40C temperature would prevent people from going outside without a protective suit,’ shared Clouds Architecture Office.

‘Then again, astronauts have continually occupied the space station for decades, so perhaps it’s not so bad?’

Read the whole thing.

29 Mar 2017

Identify That Spider’s Genera by the Eyes

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28 Mar 2017

Good Quotation

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At least one good line was reported in connection with last Friday’s Obamacare repeal debacle. PJ Media:

[A] few days before House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was forced to pull the American Health Care Act from the floor, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon told members of the Freedom Caucus, “This is not a discussion. This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill.”

An unidentified congressman reportedly replied, “You know, the last time someone ordered me to something, I was 18 years old. And it was my daddy. And I didn’t listen to him, either.”

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