Category Archive 'Uncategorized'
22 Nov 2014

The Game

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YalevHarvard

Yale plays Harvard today. In connection with which, a bit of history. In the old days, Yalies encouraged their team’s efforts with a Long Cheer, featuring a quotation from a play by Aristophanes. Frank Gibson, a cheerleader from the Class of ’48 instructs Peter Salovey, then Dean, in the Long Cheer.

I’m afraid it was already extinct by 1966 when I arrived as a freshman.

“I know the croaking chorus from The Frogs of Aristophanes.”

–the Modern Major General in The Pirates of Penzance.

21 Nov 2014

Obama Divides Rather Than Leads… Again

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obama-immigration-speech

Barack Obama piously quoted Scripture and posed as a great idealist going out on a limb to do the right thing for poor Hispanic immigrants but, in reality, he was playing ruthless partisan politics, setting aside due process and overreaching his own authority in order to set a trap for Republicans and permanently lock in the Hispanic vote for democrats.

Something needs to be done to bring American immigration policy into line with America’s economic needs, and something needs to be done to regularize the status of people living here and doing most of the country’s worst-paying and most disagreeable jobs, but before that can be done, we need to win the national debate and properly form a consensus.

What Barack Obama just did was the precise opposite of building a consensus. He divided the country further and inflamed passions over an issue on which the country is not thinking rationally and in which we were already excessively divided. And he did it cynically for political gain.

Peter Suderman makes the same point at Reason:

[U]nilateral executive action could poison support for broader, more stable reform. There’s no question that the immediate political consequence would be to further outrage Republicans, and turn a party that has long had a mix of views about the virtues of expanding immigration into one dominated by opposition. In fact, this seems to be part of what the administration wants—to provoke Republicans into a frothing rage, in hopes that they will do something politically stupid as a result. (They might oblige.)

But the backlash might not just be the immediate consequence, and it might not just be limited to the congressional GOP and its core supporters; unilateral action might result in a deepened long-term opposition to greater immigration as well.

One only need to look at the political dynamic in the years since the passage of Obamacare, another ambitious policy passed with no opposition party support and a wary public. Democrats hoped it would provide a path to political victory, but the actual result was a deep and enduring public opposition that has cost Democrats in multiple elections.

Similar to Obamacare, about 48 percent of the public disapproves of Obama’s proposed action, while just 38 percent say they support the move. And similar to Obamacare, the president’s actions are making some Democrats nervous too. And just as before, supporters are arguing that opposition will blow over quickly.

I wouldn’t bet on it. Unprecedented, unpopular, large-scale, unilateral policy changes are nearly certain to produce a backlash—against the president, against his party, and against the ideas at the heart of the policy change itself.

To me, this is the most significant risk of Obama’s plan—that it will create a backlash, not only amongst congressional Republicans, but within the public at large, a backlash that makes it more difficult to achieve a stable, legal, and politically viable system of expanded and simplified immigration, one that is not dependent on a sympathetic executive or enforcement discretion, but that is codified in law and agreed upon by enough of the country’s residents and legislators.

This is not to simply condemn Obama’s plan, but instead to warn enthusiastic supporters that the choice to act at this time, in this way, without legislative backing or public support, might be satisfying in the moment, but also stands a real chance of closing off opportunities for a better, more lasting solution at some point in the future. Consensus is hard, and sometimes it seems impossible, but in politics, it’s also important.

20 Nov 2014

It’s Unanimous

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Tweet67

20 Nov 2014

How’s That Global Warming Working Out For You?

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shining-jack-frozen

CNN:

About 50% of the United States had snow on the ground Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service. …

All 50 states registered temperatures below freezing Tuesday morning, even traditionally warm ones. Temperatures at Mauna Kea on Hawaii’s Big Island dipped to 31 degrees while Florida’s Panhandle was in the upper 20s, with freeze warnings in effect.

20 Nov 2014

Buffalo Buried Under 5½ feet of Snow Wednesday, With Another 2 to 3 More Feet Due By Late Thursday

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BuffaloNY

19 Nov 2014

If Lithuania Were to Intervene in Ukraine…

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Vytautas_dydysis
Detal from Jan Matejko, Battle of Grunwald, 1878, National Museum, Warsaw: Grand Duke Witold (your typical Lithuanian) breaking through the German line.

Kat Argo thinks Lithuanian special forces injected into the Ukraine conflict would rapidly clean the Russian militias’ clocks.

There has been a lot of strong rhetoric from the Lithuanian government in reference to the Ukrainian Crisis. The small country by the Baltic Sea has been one of Kyiv’s greatest allies in the EU and NATO. Their ambassador, at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council in response to the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic’s parade of captured Ukrainian Soldiers at bayonet-point, had said, “… instead of seeking the solution, Russia has been escalating the situation as flow of weapons, equipment, mercenaries and now troops continue across Russia’s borders into the territory of Ukraine. Let us be clear; weapons don’t fall in the hands of rebels out of blue skies.”

Likewise, Lithuanian officials have made their anti-Russia stance completely clear.

What little experience I have with Lithuanians is with their most elite soldiers in Afghanistan – the Aitvaras, or their Special Forces (LITHSOF) – and I know that if they were to respond to the Ukrainian Crisis, it would change.

The LITHSOF were the mechanized horsemen of the Apocalypse – where they rode, death would come after.

Instead of horses, they had four motorcycles, and wore a black and white kerchief over their nose and mouth with the outline of a skull. The Taliban feared them.

They had a blatant disregard for US regulations, such as the 10km/h speed limit around the base or the need to constantly wear helmets and reflective belts. If the rule was stupid, they didn’t follow it. Their sense of independence, and unit autonomy drove many an American commander insane.

Once, the Lithuanians were refueling a vehicle on base, and a young American sergeant approached to correct their lack of helmets and protective gear. The driver shrugged and claimed “No English!” and drove off (too fast), leaving the young sergeant standing in his dust.

With only dozens of LITHSOF in Afghanistan, they made their numbers count. They became the terror of the Taliban in Zabul Province. It was the single justification of their existence, and the basis of their legend. They were amazing fighters, vicious and joyful in the combat, living in a constant, controlled recklessness.

They criticized the American’s unwillingness to go outside the wire, and the accompanying safety regulations that degraded common sense.

“You want to play safe in war? That is how you lose…” or more directly, “We are soldiers. Not children.”

They would go out on a dime if called upon. No fear. No excuses. They bent the rules if it helped the mission.

For all that viciousness, they were gracious hosts. They opened their compound to a few of us who would spend our evenings smoking cigars in their “cave” – a place that became a sanctuary for many of us.

They made us loose-leaf chamomile tea from fresh flowers or coffee from fresh grounds with fresh honey (imported from their home). Each newcomer has to try their sauna, which they were very proud of. Through my time, I often asked for permission to steal a cup of coffee or grab some of their tea, until they became frustrated and said, “Katyte, you don’t understand,” using the nickname they had picked out for me, which was the cute form of the word cat, “Our cave is your cave. Feel free, don’t hesitate. Stop asking!”

Around the base, their commander was called Leonidas (but never to his face) which was a reference to his striking resemblance to the Spartan King, as played by Gerard Butler. The name also suited his reputation.

Leonidas once sat me down to teach me numbers, days, months in his native Lithuanian language – which, by the way, was not easy. Late at night, when I couldn’t sleep, he would sit with me in the common room and we would talk about life, about family, and he would try to impart his brotherly advice.

“We are a big family in this cave,” Leonidas said, “We spend more time with each other than even our real family. We fight, we get angry at each other, but we are family. And I think we are your family too.”

Leonidas once told me that Americans were too used to a comfortable life – in prosperity we had lost our perspective. We were a comfortable, fat, super power and losing our sight of the world.

Leonidas lamented the Russian invasion of Lithuania.

He explained to me that their society had been prosperous, comfortable and fat too. They gave up their liberties for continued comfort until the day they were invaded when they had no more of their liberty left to trade.

“The Russians were allowed to take over without firing one single shot,” he said.

It was shameful to him, and he spoke with great resolve, declaring that it would never happen again. The little country of Lithuania would never allow themselves to be taken cheaply again and, through the conviction of his dark eyes, I came to believe that Putin would have to pry Lithuania’s liberty from Leonidas’ cold, clenched fist.

Read the whole thing.

19 Nov 2014

750 Year Old Polish Oak Tree, “The Brave Oak,” Burned by Vandal

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Dab-Chrobry-2007
Dąb Chrobry, “the Brave Oak” in 1967.

An ancient oak tree, known as “the Brave Oak,” growing near the nature reserve Buczyna Szprotawska in Lower Silesian Forests around Piotrowice was damaged yesterday by fire. It was most likely deliberately set on fire from the inside. The tree germinated around 1250 and was the largest surviving Polish oak tree, the third largest in Central Europe. Centuries ago,it marked the border between two Polish principalities.

The spread of its crown was approximately 52.5′ (16 m). It was approximately 92′(28 m) high and had a trunk circumference of 33′ (10.10 m). Its diameter at breast height was 10 1/2′ (321 cm).

Polish news reports asked openly: “What kind of smoldering anger must a man have to do something like that?”

Acorns from the Brave Oak were blessed by Pope John Paul II, April 28, 2004, during a pilgrimage to the Vatican by Polish foresters. The nursery in Poverty bred from them 500 seedlings which were distributed all over the country. Its offspring are consequently known as “Papal oaks.” So seedlings survive, and “the royal oak will not perish forever.” Approximately, 500 “papal oaks” in Poland are trees from the acorns of the Brave Oak.

The tree was declared a natural monument on March 24, 1967, though it was also protected by law before WWII. Its age is estimated at approx. 760 years (germinated approx. 1250 years).

Polish Wikipedia article

Hat tip to Kaj Malachowski.

19 Nov 2014

Repeal the British Hunt Ban

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ThanksgivingMeet
Blue Ridge Hunt hunting at Priskilly. (click on picture for larger image — Photo by DZ)

James Delingpole (who hunts) deplores Britain’s Puritanical hunt ban. In his view, foxhunting should not be illegal, it should be compulsory.

Foxhunting is the greatest sport ever devised. It takes place on a wildly uneven pitch perhaps 100 miles square, in often fiendish weather conditions, involves extraordinary team work and cameraderie between man and beast, with, instead of a football or a rugger ball, a living, intelligent quarry often more than capable of outwitting its pursuers. If you haven’t hunted, you really haven’t lived.

The best advert for hunting are the people who are against it: joyless vegans; vindictive class warriors; the noisome RSPCA; dreadlocked inner city crusties with dogs on ropes; mimsy unmarriageables with a dozen cats; Nick Clegg; Ed Miliband; the Green party; everyone who works at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth, Wales; townie tossers.

Read the whole thing.

Like the America Gun Control Act of 1968, the British Hunt Ban was actually modeled on legislation passed by Adolph Hitler. Hitler was a vegetarian and an animal lover. He, too, thought hunting beasts with hounds was cruel.

18 Nov 2014

The Victimocracy

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White+Privilege

Dan Greenfield (brilliantly as usual) analyses the new political system, which Aristotle somehow managed to overlook.

The Victimocracy is a lot like any other tyranny. In an aristocracy, power belongs to the nobles, in a theocracy, power belongs to the clergy, in a meritocracy, to anyone with skill and a work ethic.

But in a Victimocracy the biggest and angriest whiner wins.

In a Victimocracy, suffering is the exclusive privilege of the elites. No one else is allowed to suffer except them. No one else has ever been oppressed, has felt pain, been insulted, abused, degraded, enslaved and ground down into the dirt except the very people who are grinding you into the dirt now.

Victimhood is what entitles them to special privileges, it’s what ennobles them as a superior class of people and gives them the right to rule over you. They are the victims. What they say goes.

Victimization is the currency of their power. They have 1/16 Cherokee blood and high cheekbones. They are ‘triggered’ by loud noises and differing opinions. They spent their twenties “coming to terms” with something because of the lack of sitcom role models for their favorite sexual preferences or skin color. They are all survivors of something or other. They were activists and someone once said mean things to them. And if all else fails, they are deeply passionate about the plight of the oppressed. Like, seriously.

Now stop oppressing them and educate yourself by recognizing their right to oppress you. …

Victimocrats don’t win arguments. They convince others that they are entitled to avoid the argument. In the Victimocracy the illusion of weakness is power. The weak are entitled to disproportionate power to protect themselves from the rest of us. The weaker they are, the more power they need. And the more power they get, the weaker they grow until we live under a tyranny of the absolutely powerless who wield absolute power.

Read the whole thing.

18 Nov 2014

“Don’t Tell ‘Em” (Jon Gruber’s Obamacare Song)

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18 Nov 2014

Dreadlocked Donkey

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baudet-du-poitou-donkey
The Baudet du Poitou.

The Poitevin donkey almost became extinct, living specimens having dwindled down to about 40 world-wide just a few decades ago, but a combination of public and private efforts to save this ancient breed got the numbers up to over 450 by 2005.

The Baudet du Poitou is one of the largest breeds of donkey and was kept for breeding mules. The origins of the breed are thought to go back to Antiquity when the Romans introduced mule breeding as a specialty of the region.

Mechanization of agriculture caused the decline of the breed. But, starting in 1977, patriotic efforts to save the locally famous breed were underway.

Arc in Space article via Kuriositas.

18 Nov 2014

Baby Elephant Attacked by Fourteen Lions

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Filmed at Norman Carr Safaris‘ Chinzombo Camp in Zambia.

18 Nov 2014

Battlefield Landscapes from WWI a Century Later

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German cemetery at Tetes des Faux.

Telegraph slideshow

17 Nov 2014

“Like the Show Trials of Stalin…”

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Matt-Taylor

Boris Johnson (who typically dresses better) defends poor Matt Taylor against the Social Justice Warriors.

The other day the brilliant space scientist Dr Matt Taylor was asked to give a report on the progress of Philae, the astonishing little landing craft that has travelled, in all, four billion miles to become the first representative of humanity to visit the surface of a comet. Dr Taylor leant forwards. He started to speak. Then his voice went husky, and it became painfully obvious to viewers that he was actually crying. And of course he has many very good reasons to feel emotional. The London-born astrophysicist has been part of a mind-blowing success. …

Except, of course, that he wasn’t crying with relief. He wasn’t weeping with sheer excitement at this interstellar rendezvous. I am afraid he was crying because he felt he had sinned. He was overcome with guilt and shame for wearing what some people decided was an “inappropriate” shirt on television. “I have made a big mistake,” he said brokenly. “I have offended people and I am sorry about this.”

I watched that clip of Dr Taylor’s apology – at the moment of his supreme professional triumph – and I felt the red mist come down. It was like something from the show trials of Stalin, or from the sobbing testimony of the enemies of Kim Il-sung, before they were taken away and shot. It was like a scene from Mao’s cultural revolution when weeping intellectuals were forced to confess their crimes against the people.

Why was he forced into this humiliation? Because he was subjected to an unrelenting tweetstorm of abuse. He was bombarded across the internet with a hurtling dustcloud of hate, orchestrated by lobby groups and politically correct media organisations.

Read the whole thing.

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