Archive for June, 2017
24 Jun 2017

The School of British Accents

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First preview episode of a new YouTube video series in which seven native speakers teach immigrants to Britain how to speak Cockney, Scottish, Scouse, Welsh, Wes Country, Yorkshire, and Geordie.

HT: Karen L. Myers.

23 Jun 2017

Interactive Tour of Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights

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22 Jun 2017

Tattletales Went Sneaking to Prigs at Harvard

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The Tab has examples of the naughty jokes posted in a private Facebook group that led to ten students admitted to the Harvard Class of 2021 having their admissions rescinded.

We learn, too, that the authorities at Harvard found out about the offending postings in the first place because a number of fellow future Harvard classmates tattled to the Admissions Office.

Wow! Maybe having one’s admission rescinded and not attending college for four years with certain sanctimonious little shits isn’t such a misfortune after all. Me, if I were running that Admissions Office, I’d have rescinded the admissions of all the little sneaks who ratted out their classmates.

Wyatt Hurt, another member of the Class of 2021, said: “I wasn’t surprised by the actions of the administration and I thought that they were the right actions to take. Other students I’ve talked to, from Harvard and otherwise, all generally agree that it was the right action as well.

“Harvard is one of the schools that is shaping the leaders of the future – it’s absolutely a privilege to attend, and when those students posted such hateful material it became clear that they weren’t honoring that privilege.

“As far as how administration found out, I know that a few other admitted students sent screenshots to the admissions office.”

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Apart from our contemporary era’s loss of consciousness of the sense of loyalty and group solidarity that, in the past, would have regarded informing on a fellow classmate as contemptible and dishonorable, reading all this caused me to reflect once again that the Great Big Brains running our most illustrious Establishment institutions are not only fascist prigs, they are just plain stupid.

The people running the Harvard Admissions Office demonstrably not only lack senses of humor, they clearly do not understand how humor works.

To regard posting memes based upon transgressive humor as a punishable offense, you would have to be taking the joke literally, as an authentic statement of a real proposition or opinion, which is, of course, absurd. Humor works in a variety of ways. One pretty well-known kind of humor is the genre of transgressive humor, a category that would include the “dirty joke.” There is no mystery here. Everyone ought to recognize the kind of jokes I am referring to. Minority and Gay and Left-wing comedians all make very much a specialty of using jokes which cross taboo lines, jokes which violate propriety and conventional bourgeois sensibilities.

This is actually perfectly natural in comedy. One basic way that humor works is by the reversal of the audience’s expectation, what Gilbert & Sullivan, who in their comic operettas amused audiences by having respectable principals humorously disclose the basest and most cynical motivations in song, referred to a Topsy-Turvy-dom. There are all sorts of ways of reversing the audience’s expectation to get a laugh. One can have a cartoon cat chase the dog, the rabbit defeat the hunter, the roadrunner best the coyote again and again. And, another standard technique of humor is to deliberately cross the boundaries of proper language, sexual reference, or propriety. In our own age, in which political correctness is a potent force, violating PC by mocking or expressing negative attitudes toward minority sacred cows is obviously a potential gold mine for improper humor.

When a person tells a travelling salesman joke, it actually does not mean that he literally despises farmers and their daughters, or that he really thinks farmer’s daughters are readily seducible. When someone repeats an ethnic or racial joke, it does not mean that the person literally believes its contents to be true, or that he is a bigot or a racist.

Indulging in improper, off-color humor can be a way of letting of steam, or a way of expressing momentary boredom with the obligations of propriety. It can even be a way of reinforcing group solidarity, by causing members of a group (a bunch of the men at a party or some group of soon-to-be-entering Harvard freshmen) to collaborate in mischievously and covertly violating social norms. This, of course, is why, a few years ago, the DKE initiation at Yale had pledges stand outside the Feminist Center and chant: “No means yes!”

When adult authorities at places like Yale and Harvard routinely mistake mildly rambunctious adolescent speech in obviously humorous contexts for authentic forms of thought crime, I would contend, it demonstrates that levels of both mutton-headed stupidity and sanctimonious self-righteousness on the part of the people running things in those places have risen to intolerable levels.

22 Jun 2017

Ossoff Lost George 6th

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22 Jun 2017

Quotation of the Day

“No matter how much you feed the wolf, he will always look to the forest.”

— Marina Tsvetaeva, Eight Essays on Poetry, 1932.

HT: Karen L. Myers.

21 Jun 2017

Partitioning Illinois

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Illinois pols gave government employee unions the key to the vault and the state is now bankrupt and without a plan. John Kass has a modest proposal for what to do next.

Dissolve Illinois. Decommission the state, tear up the charter, whatever the legal mumbo-jumbo, just end the whole dang thing.

We just disappear. With no pain. That’s right. You heard me.

The best thing to do is to break Illinois into pieces right now. Just wipe us off the map. Cut us out of America’s heartland and let neighboring states carve us up and take the best chunks for themselves.

The group that will scream the loudest is the state’s political class, who did this to us, and the big bond creditors, who are whispering talk of bankruptcy and asset forfeiture to save their own skins.

But our beloved Illinois has proved that it just doesn’t deserve to survive.

So why not let our friendly neighbors like Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri and Kentucky just take the parts they want?

As you can see by the excellent “Kevorkian Illinois” map that accompanies this column, this plan is visionary.

The alternative is hell. Illinois hasn’t had a state budget for years. The state continues to spend money it doesn’t have, and the state’s credit ratings have dropped, increasing the cost of borrowing more money we don’t have to keep the rotten shebang going.

Bills pile up; Moody’s Investor Service says taxpayers are on the hook for $251 billion in unfunded public union pension liabilities.

Boss Mike Madigan, king of the Democrats who control things, wants tax increases but no real structural reform to bring stability to The Venezuela of the Midwest.

And the whispers of bankruptcy won’t help the average (remaining) taxpaying chumbolones like you and me who don’t want to leave our homes but who’ll get stuck with the bills.

Since our neighboring states are doing better, taking Illinois jobs and businesses and Illinois workers and taxpaying families, they might as well just take the rest of Illinois, too, dammit.

Wisconsin can have Chicago and begin calling it “South Milwaukee.”

Naturally, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will fight this. He needs a job. And he’ll most likely beg his friends at The New York Times and the Washington Post to write angry editorials to save him. And these will be full of concern for the republic and those dispossessed Midwestern salt-of-the-earth taxpaying Americans, as if.

Sadly, Wisconsin probably won’t want Rahm, either. So to spare hurt feelings, I propose carving out 40 acres around the mayor’s home so Rahm might be prince of his own country:

Rahmonia.

And Cook County Board President Toni “Taxwinkle” Preckwinkle will fight it, too, so she needs something to soothe her ambitions:

A grant of land as large as a case of the soda pop she taxes, so that she might stand on it and proclaim herself Queen of Taxwinkletopia.

If there are portions of Illinois that the other states don’t want, they may be left as federal territory, a wilderness where only the strong survive and peasants and friendly propagandists kneel and beg for crumbs.

RTWT

21 Jun 2017

Georgia Runoff Election

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From Harriet Lublin.

20 Jun 2017

Cats Have Enslaved Humans For Millennia…

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The Atlantic has an article describing a DNA study apparently determining the geographic and temporal origins of the feline conspiracy to use mankind to do all the work of providing food and shelter.

Sometime around the invention of agriculture, the cats came crawling. It was mice and rats, probably, that attracted the wild felines. The rats came because of stores of grain, made possible by human agriculture. And so cats and humans began their millennia-long coexistence.

This relationship has been good for us of course—formerly because cats caught the disease-carrying pests stealing our food and presently because cleaning up their hairballs somehow gives purpose to our modern lives. But this relationship has been great for cats as species, too. From their native home in the Middle East, the first tamed cats followed humans out on ships and expeditions to take over the world—settling on six continents with even the occasional foray to Antarctica. Domestication has been a fantastically successful evolutionary strategy for cats.

A comprehensive new study of DNA from ancient cat skeletons and mummies spanning 9,000 years traces the spread of cats from the Middle East to the rest of the world. …

Modern domestic cats appear to have all originated in one of two places. The first was Anatolia, which roughly corresponds to modern-day Turkey. These cats spread to Europe as early as 4,400 B.C.E. A second domesticated lineage appears to have begun in Egypt and then later spread through the Mediterranean. And wherever the cats followed humans, they also interbred with the native wildcats already there.

This DNA exchange went both directions along the trade routes, too. That led to what, at first, seemed like baffling results in the ancient DNA. For example, a 2,000-year-old cat in Egypt had DNA sequences typical of wildcats in India. Claudio Ottoni, another member of the research team now at the University of Oslo, remembers thinking it was a mistake when he first got the sequences back on his laptop. In fact, that cat was found in an ancient Roman port city called Berenike, which was directly connected to trade routes in the Indian Ocean. Humans brought cats onto ships to catch mice and, in the process, spread cats all around the world.

Compared to many other animals, cats have also changed very little in the domestication process. Behaviorally, they’ve become more tolerant of humans. Physically, though, they’re still about the same size and shape. They still like to pounce on small prey. “Cats have done since before they were domesticated what we needed them to do,” says Leslie Lyons, a feline geneticist at the University of Missouri. In other words, unlike dogs that herd sheep or hunt badgers, cats didn’t need humans to breed them to become good mouse hunters.

RTWT

20 Jun 2017

Act of Terrorism?

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USS Fitzgerald

John Steele Gordon explains that the collision of that Philippine cargo ship with the American destroyer USS Fitzgerald may very well have not been an accident.

What happened? It was 1:30 in the morning, to be sure, but the night was clear. Ships not only have watches, they have running lights and radar. They also have transponders so other ships in the area can know exactly where they are. And destroyers, unlike cargo containers, are extremely nimble ships, capable of both high speed (over 30 knots in the Fitzgerald’s case) and quick maneuvering. It’s what they’re designed for.

The container ship was to starboard and so had the right of way. But the officer of the deck and the rest of the watch should have had no trouble whatever keeping clear, even in the very crowded waters near one of the world’s great harbors. If it was just hugely incompetent seamanship, then heads, including the captain’s, will roll.

But was it? It seems almost impossible to imagine such incompetence in a highly trained U.S. Navy crew. (How highly trained, is shown by the fact that they were able to keep the ship afloat after being rammed at considerable speed in the middle of the night.)

And, indeed, there are reports that make it seem that something far more sinister might have been afoot. The AP is reporting that the crash, originally reported as happening at 2:20 AM, after the Japanese Coast Guard was notified by the container ship at 2:25. But it now seems that the event happened at 1:30 AM. The Fitzgerald was fighting for its life, but what kept the container ship from reporting something so serious for nearly an hour?

Further, there is at least one report, by Tom Lifson at the American Thinker, indicating that the container ship had had both its running lights and transponder off. Since that would have severely compromised its own safety, it’s hard to imagine anything but intent to ram the Fitzgerald.

It’s far too early to be sure of anything. But the only two explanations for this would seem to be extraordinary incompetence on the part of the Fitzgerald or evil intent on the part of the container ship. If it’s the latter, then we have a phrase for that: asymmetric warfare.

19 Jun 2017

Recurring Cycle

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18 Jun 2017

Father’s Day

Three photos of my father posing with his annual buck from the late 1940s at his Locust Valley farm. All these photographs were damaged by dampness having been stored in a basement.

17 Jun 2017

The Solution to Left-Wing Violence

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17 Jun 2017

Not Too Much for HuffPo

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CNN reported:

Doctors caring for released North Korea detainee Otto Warmbier said he has not spoken or moved on his own since he arrived in the United States on Tuesday, a condition they described as “unresponsive wakefulness” or persistent vegetative state.

The 22-year-old has suffered extensive loss of brain tissue in all regions of the brain, doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center said in a news conference Thursday.

Also known as persistent vegetative state, the syndrome’s symptoms include no voluntary movement or awareness of surroundings. Warmbier opens his eyes and blinks spontaneously but shows no signs of understanding language or responding to verbal commands, said Dr. Daniel Kanter, professor of neurology and director of the Neurocritical Care Program.

The news shed light on the Warmbier family’s statement that their son suffered severe brain damage at some point in his 17 months of detention.

His parents said they learned of their son’s condition — what North Korea called a coma — only last week.

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On HuffPo, La Sha posted this humanitarian response.

[Otto Warmbier is a] young white man who went to an Asian country and violated their laws, and learned that the shield his cis white male identity provides here in America is not teflon abroad.

As shocked as I am by the sentence handed down to Warmbier, I am even more shocked that a grown man, an American citizen, would not only voluntarily enter North Korea but also commit what’s been described a “college-style prank.” That kind of reckless gall is an unfortunate side effect of being socialized first as a white boy, and then as a white man in this country. Every economic, academic, legal and social system in this country has for more than three centuries functioned with the implicit purpose of ensuring that white men are the primary benefactors of all privilege. The kind of arrogance bred by that kind of conditioning is pathogenic, causing its host to develop a subconscious yet no less obnoxious perception that the rules do not apply to him, or at least that their application is negotiable.

Headline after headline has highlighted that Otto Warmbier is a student. His LinkedIn profile states that he is majoring Economics with a minor in Global Sustainability and is a Managing Director of an “alternative investment fund.” A man reared in this country who studies the globe as a part of his higher education curriculum must have been at least passingly aware of the notoriously strained relationship between the United States and North Korea. Surely he had read the stories of Jeffrey Fowle and Matthew Miller, other white American men arrested in North Korea for “petty crimes” who were subsequently sentenced to hard labor.

Yeah, I’m willing to bet my last dollar that he was aware of the political climate in that country, but privilege is a hell of a drug. The high of privilege told him that North Korea’s history of making examples out of American citizens who dare challenge their rigid legal system in any way was no match for his alabaster American privilege. When you can watch a white man who entered a theatre and killed a dozen people come out unscathed, you start to believe you’re invincible. When you see a white man taken to Burger King in a bulletproof vest after he killed nine people in a church, you learn that the world will always protect you.

Coming from a country filled with citizens who lambaste black victims of state sanctioned violence by telling us that if we obey the law, we wouldn’t have to face the consequences, Warmbier should’ve listened. If he had obeyed North Korea’s laws, he would be home now. In fact, if he had heeded the U.S. Department of State’s strong advisement against travel to North Korea, he would be home right now. And if Eric Garner is to be blamed for his own death for selling loose cigarettes or if Sandra Bland is dead because she failed to signal when changing lanes, then Otto Warmbier is now facing a decade and a half of hard labor because he lacked both good judgment and respect for the national autonomy of a country which has made its hatred for and vendetta against America unequivocally clear.

And while I don’t blame his parents for pressuring the State Department to negotiate his release, I wonder where they were when their son was planning a trip to the DPRK. Didn’t they impress upon him the hostile climate that awaited him? Didn’t they rear him to respect law and order? Did they not teach him the importance of obeying authority?

What a mind-blowing moment it must be to realize after 21 years of being pedestaled by the world simply because your DNA coding produced the favorable phenotype that such favor is not absolute. What a bummer to realize that even the State Department with all its influence and power cannot assure your pardon. What a wake-up call it is to realize that your tears are met with indifference.

As I’ve said, living 15 years performing manual labor in North Korea is unimaginable, but so is going to a place I know I’m unwelcome and violating their laws. I’m a black woman though. The hopeless fear Warmbier is now experiencing is my daily reality living in a country where white men like him are willfully oblivious to my suffering even as they are complicit in maintaining the power structures which ensure their supremacy at my expense. He is now an outsider at the mercy of a government unfazed by his cries for help. I get it.


La Sha

It’s always a bit astonishing for a normally sane person to discover just how vehemently racist some African Americans are, and a bit appalling as well to catch a glimpse of the lurid and extravagant thought world of self-indulgent paranoid fantasy that many of them inhabit.

And it is obviously a very bad thing that so many people make a habit of seeking self-gratification by wallowing in delusions of persecution and projecting vicious prejudices onto everyone unlike themselves, but the kind of people guilty of this sort of thing, at least, have the excuse of being enabled and encouraged by a kind of pathological group think. I don’t see though how anyone can excuse the editors at places like the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and Huffington Post who routinely publish these kind of hydrophobic ravings, treating them as some kind of legitimate editorial perspective,

17 Jun 2017

Too Much For HuffPo (At Least in the Context of the Alexandria Shootings…)

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Washington Times:

An op-ed posted June 11 by Huffington Post contributor Jason Fuller was pulled by the website after Wednesday’s attack on congressional Republicans.

“Impeachment Is No Longer Enough; Donald Trump Must Face Justice,” a call for the prosecution and execution of the president, was published just three days before 66-year-old gunman James Hodgkinson shot Rep. Steve Scalise and three others on an Alexandria, Virginia, baseball field. A reporter for The Daily Caller noticed the deletion late Wednesday and found a cached version still available.

“Trump’s impeachment and removal from office are no longer enough,” the HuffPo contributor wrote. “Draining the swamp means not only ejecting Trump from the presidency, but also bringing himself and everyone assisting in his agenda up on charges of treason. They must be convicted (there is little room to doubt their guilt). And then —  upon receiving guilty verdicts  —  they must all be executed under the law. Anything less than capital punishment  — or at least life imprisonment without parole in a maximum security detention facility  — would send yet another message to the world that America has lost its moral compass.”

The writer then asserted that Republican leadership should face the same fate.

“Nothing would do more than to convict them of the highest offense defined by our Constitution, and then to deliver the ultimate punishment. Donald Trump deserves nothing less,” the author wrote. “Mitch McConnell, Steve Bannon, and Paul Ryan should also share Donald Trump’s fate, for they have done more than practically anyone to protect him and to throw our country under the proverbial bus. In order to survive, we as a nation must deliver the ultimate punishment under the law to all involved in its current destruction.”

Jason Fuller was mendacious, but not repentant, in the aftermath of the removal of his posting. Medium

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