Category Archive 'Uncategorized'
17 Apr 2014

Benton Performance’s Porsches

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Benton Performance restores classic 356s and 911s to a level just a little better than they were originally built.

Hat tip to Vanderleun.

16 Apr 2014

Jay Carney’s Kitchen Posters

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jaycarney_sovietposter
The kitchen poster on the left.

Michael Walsh pooh-pooh’s various people on the Right’s efforts to draw conclusions about Jay Carney & Claire Shipman’s political opinions from their tastes in interior decoration.

There’s been a lot of nonsense written on the Right about the Soviet posters in White House press secretary Jay Carney’s kitchen. Here’s some now, first from Reason – “Jay Carney, Communist Propaganda Connoisseur:”

    White House press secretary and occasional beard grower Jay Carney likes political art. Particularly, he likes Soviet military propaganda.

    This fact was accidentally revealed in, of all places, the latest issue of Washingtonian MOM magazine. The journal did a profile on Carney’s wife, Claire Shipman. There’s a lot of fun facts about Carney’s preferred brand of $275 sneakers (Hugo Boss) and how the family’s Portuguese water dog is related to Obama’s (cousins!)… Can you spot the strangest thing about this totally candid picture? Hint: It’s not that each member of the Carney clan eats a pyramid’s worth of food for breakfast.

    Rather, it’s the World War II-era Soviet poster pointing over Shipman’s shoulder, which asks if you’ve enlisted in the Red Army yet (because you’re going to get drafted anyway), and the other one beyond the sink, which asks if you’ve gotten a factory job to fill in for your husband (who has probably been shot on the front lines).

And this, from the American Thinker:

    The sad fact is that progressives in much of the developed world have a soft spot in their hearts for communism. Yeah, it murdered a hundred million people or more, but you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. And those who were murdered were not very fashionable, for the most part.

    The Washingtonian photo is a tell. There is a sickness, a willful blindness toward the crimes of communism because it is so close to the progressive ideology that animates the American Ruling Class. Shipman and Carney are the perfect exemplars of that class. Smart, fit, busy, anxious to make their own lives perfect, and convinced that the price other people pay for their progressive dreams is not worth mentioning or even noticing.

Oh, please. By this standard, I’m a Commie symp myself, since I also have Soviet-era posters adorning the walls of my home; I picked them up in Moscow and Leningrad during my various working trips to the late Soviet Union. Which is where I met my old Time colleague, Jay Carney. …

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Oleg Atbashian wittily responded:

As soon as the photograph of Soviet propaganda posters in Jay Carney’s kitchen hit the Internet, right-wing pundits began to draw conclusions about White House Press Secretary’s ideology, morals, and political leanings. It was as if things that a man merely places on his walls and looks at day after day can be any indication of his life choices. …

It is beyond imagination that anyone could misconstrue the Soviet agitprop in Jay Carney’s kitchen as an indication that White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and his wife somehow share the same ideas as the perpetrators of a brutal regime that starved its own citizens while the political elites lived in luxury, abused power, prosecuted the opposition, and ruled the country by means of executive orders.

Next, they would claim that that a neat stack of Chairman Mao’s Little Red Books in Valery Jarrett’s bathroom is not there merely to serve as an elegant accent to complement the shower curtains; or that the Black Panther Party insignia on Michelle Obama’s pajamas isn’t merely a bold decorative pattern; or that the black flag of holy Jihad in Huma Abedin’s bedroom is somehow indicative of her sympathies towards the Muslim Brotherhood.

Following such flawed right-wing logic, one might even speculate that Saul Alinsky’s books on Hillary Clinton’s living room mean anything other than an effort to disguise an obscure dried spot that had mysteriously appeared on the coffee table in the last year of her husband’s presidency.

red-armyposter
The kitchen poster on the right.

16 Apr 2014

13-Year-Old Girl Hunts With an Eagle

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GirlwithEagle
13 Year-Old Ashol-Pan with friend

The BBC did a recent feature of a 13-Year-Old Kazakh girl who is carrying on an unusual form of traditional hunting.

Most children, Asher Svidensky says, are a little intimidated by golden eagles. Kazakh boys in western Mongolia start learning how to use the huge birds to hunt for foxes and hares at the age of 13, when the eagles sit heavily on their undeveloped arms. Svidensky, a photographer and travel writer, shot five boys learning the skill – and he also photographed Ashol-Pan.

“To see her with the eagle was amazing,” he recalls. She was a lot more comfortable with it, a lot more powerful with it and a lot more at ease with it.”

The Kazakhs of the Altai mountain range in western Mongolia are the only people that hunt with golden eagles, and today there are around 400 practising falconers. Ashol-Pan, the daughter of a particularly celebrated hunter, may well be the country’s only apprentice huntress.

They hunt in winter, when the temperatures can drop to -40C (-40F). A hunt begins with days of trekking on horseback through snow to a mountain or ridge giving an excellent view of prey for miles around. Hunters generally work in teams. After a fox is spotted, riders charge towards it to flush it into the open, and an eagle is released. If the eagle fails to make a kill, another is released.

The skill of hunting with eagles, Svidensky says, lies in harnessing an unpredictable force of nature. “You don’t really control the eagle. You can try and make her hunt an animal – and then it’s a matter of nature. What will the eagle do? Will she make it? How will you get her back afterwards?”

16 Apr 2014

English: A Scandinavian Language?

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EnglandMapAD900
Map of England, 900 A.D.

Two linguistics professors recently contended that English ought to be classified as a Scandinavian language. (Norwegian) News in English:

Jan Terje Faarlund, a professor of linguistics at the University of Oslo (UiO), told research magazine Apollon that new studies show English “as we know it today” to be a “direct descendant of the language Scandinavians used” after settling on the British Isles during and after the Viking Age. …

Faarlund and his colleague Joseph Emonds, a guest professor at UiO from Palacky University in the Czech Republic, believe they can now prove that English is a Scandinavian language belonging to the group of northern Germanic languages that also include Danish, Swedish, Icelandic and Faroese, spoken on the Faroe Islands.

Their research and conclusions are brand new and break with those of earlier linguistic professors who believe English is rooted in “Old English,” also known as the Anglo-Saxon language believed brought to the British Isles by settlers from northwestern and central Europe. Faarlund claims Scandinavians settled in the area long before French-speaking Normans conquered the British Isles in 1066.

Faarlund and Edmonds also contend that Old English and modern English are two very different languages. “We think Old English simply died out,” Faarlund told Apollon. “Instead, the Nordic language survived, strongly influenced by Old English.”

While many native English-speakers struggle to learn Norwegian, Faarlund believes it’s no coincidence that Scandinavians, especially Norwegians, learn English relatively easily. “It’s true that many of the English words resemble our own (in Norwegian, for example),” Faarlund said. “But there’s more behind it: Even the fundamental structure of the language is amazingly similar to Norwegian. We often avoid mistakes that others (speaking other languages) make in English, because the grammar is much the same.”

Scandinavian settlers, Faarlund notes, gained control towards the end of the 9th century of an area known as Danelagen, which forms parts of Scotland and England today. Faarlund stressed that “an extremely important geographic point in our research” is that the East Midlands in England, where he says the modern English language developed, was part of the relatively densely populated southern portion of Danelagen.

Edmonds and Faarlund also contend that sentence structure in what developed into modern English is Scandinavian, not western Germanic as previously believed. Both today’s Scandinavian languages place the object after the verb, for example, unlike German and Dutch which place the verb at the end of a sentence. Possessive forms can also be the same in both the Scandinavian languages and English, which also can end sentences with a preposition and split infinitives. While that’s sometimes frowned upon in other variations of modern English such as American English, Faarlund argues it’s not possible in German, Dutch or Old English.

All this, he claims, boosts the similarities between Norwegian and English, for example, and the differences between other Germanic languages and English. “The only reasonable explanation is that English is a Nordic language, and that this language is a continuation from the Norwegian-Danish language used in England from the Middle Ages,” Faarlund told Apollon. “Why the residents of the British Isles chose the Nordic grammar, though, is a matter of speculation.”

15 Apr 2014

Blog Outage

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This unusual outage resulted from a disagreement between my personal version of WordPress and my web hosting server’s most recent security updates, intended to defeat the Heartbleed bug.

15 Apr 2014

Rancher Bundy’s Standoff With the Feds

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BundyRanch

John Hinderaker took the time (which most commentators have not) to look deeper into the equities of the recent confrontation between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the Federal Bureau of Land Management.

First, it must be admitted that legally, Bundy doesn’t have a leg to stand on. The Bureau of Land Management has been charging him grazing fees since the early 1990s, which he has refused to pay. Further, BLM has issued orders limiting the area on which Bundy’s cows can graze and the number that can graze, and Bundy has ignored those directives. As a result, BLM has sued Bundy twice in federal court, and won both cases. In the second, more recent action, Bundy’s defense is that the federal government doesn’t own the land in question and therefore has no authority to regulate grazing. That simply isn’t right; the land, like most of Nevada, is federally owned. [86% -- JDZ] Bundy is representing himself, of necessity: no lawyer could make that argument.

That being the case, why does Bundy deserve our sympathy? To begin with, his family has been ranching on the acres at issue since the late 19th century. They and other settlers were induced to come to Nevada in part by the federal government’s promise that they would be able to graze their cattle on adjacent government-owned land. For many years they did so, with no limitations or fees. The Bundy family was ranching in southern Nevada long before the BLM came into existence.

Over the last two or three decades, the Bureau has squeezed the ranchers in southern Nevada by limiting the acres on which their cattle can graze, reducing the number of cattle that can be on federal land, and charging grazing fees for the ever-diminishing privilege. The effect of these restrictions has been to drive the ranchers out of business. Formerly, there were dozens of ranches in the area where Bundy operates. Now, his ranch is the only one. When Bundy refused to pay grazing fees beginning in around 1993, he said something to the effect of, they are supposed to be charging me a fee for managing the land and all they are doing is trying to manage me out of business. Why should I pay them for that?

Read the whole thing.

A lot of commentators on the Right discovered that Mr. Bundy lost in federal court and was clearly defying the law, but those editorialists failed to notice that, in a manner not unprecedented in the history of the American West, in Mr. Bundy’s case, the law is in the hands of special interests and is being used to take away what other people own.

Nevada became a state in 1864. Why exactly is it, that 150 years later, the United States government is still sitting on 86% of all the land in Nevada? Why wasn’t the grazing land used by Mr. Bundy been sold to the Bundy family generations ago?

If the Bundy confrontation proves anything, it demonstrates just how past time it is for most federal lands to be privatized.

12 Apr 2014

“The Lizzie Bennet Diaries”

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the cast

I’m so old that I can remember when Jane Austen was looked upon as a dusty classic author, whose best-known novel, Pride and Prejudice, was deemed appropriately penitential reading for 12th grade English.

Jane Austen’s virtuous, but critically intelligent young ladies have subsequently proven to represent flattering enough portraits of female-kind to appeal intensely to the modern liberated woman, and Austen’s novels in recent decades made a somewhat startling leap from the worthy-but-neglected category of high brow literature to a comfortable position in popular culture.

The latest incarnation of Pride and Prejudice, amusingly enough, I think, is as a 9-and-a-half hour. on-line, modernized adaptation.

Lizzie Bennet Diaries homepage

Episode 1:

12 Apr 2014

Hamilton Corner Sign Says

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The “Hamilton Corner” sign – otherwise known as the “Uncle Sam” sign is located ln Lewis County, Washinton, along side exit 72 on the I-5 corridor mid-way between Seattle and Portland.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

12 Apr 2014

Photoshopped Life

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Claire Shipman (wife to Obama press Secretary Jay Carney) is co-author of a book coming out (apparently grounding self-help career advice for women in junk science) and her promotional campaign includes just about the puffiest puff piece that anyone’s ever seen in Washington Mom.

Tout le monde is twittering about the piece this morning, gleefully mocking the supposed perfection of the successful couple’s home and family life.

Walter Olson, on Facebook, snarkily remarked:

Does something about this portrait of the WH press secretary’s family seem, I don’t know, stagey and overly polished? Somehow I imagine the shoot wrapping and the crew breaking set (“okay, you clean up the carefully strewn blueberries, I’ll start Photoshopping in the bookcases, tell them they can change back into regular clothes.”)

The cherished and framed Soviet propaganda posters in the kitchen shot did not go unremarked. But what really brought the house down was the photo below featuring Photoshopped evidence of the mouthpiece of the smart people’s book collection. The duplication of the kid’s finger was particularly admired. Twitter 1 Twitter 2

11 Apr 2014

Travellers Club Chairman’s Report on Opening the Club to Female Membership

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The Evening Standard reports London’s Travellers Club has recently experienced agitation from a portion of its membership demanding that the Club should “join the 21st Century” by opening its membership to women.

Club Chairman Anthony Layden responded with an admirably thorough report, which placed the controversy in fine perspective, quoting extensively the arguments and remarks of members on both sides, and which then delivered judgement.

When I became Chairman in 2010 I observed at that year’s AGM that the Travellers seemed to be doing pretty well, and said I intended to keep it on its existing course rather than seeking any radical changes. I believe “Steady as she goes” is still the right course in the interests of our Club and all its members. I have been surprised to learn, in the course of the discussions of the last few months, how diverse are the ways in which different members use and enjoy the Club. (A fellow member of the General Committee, who has often contributed wisely to our discussions, said at our last meeting that he himself did not come to the Club to talk to other members; he had never sat at the members’ table.)

I believe that continuing to create an atmosphere in which members can use the Club in different ways, an atmosphere of tolerance, mutual respect and ready conviviality, is the key to our continued success. It may be that those who value the Club as a place for all-male conversation, and those for whom this is not important, will never fully understand each other’s points of view, let alone come to see things the same way. We all hold different views for a myriad of reasons; conversations at the Club would be pretty dull if we did not!

I hope this report may help to make each side’s views a little clearer to the other. And as I said at the beginning of this report, I hope and urge that those who would personally favour change will hold back from pressing for it for the time being. It does not seem to me that it would accord with our traditions for them to seek to impose change on fellow-members whose enjoyment of the Club this would impair.

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Hat tip to Rafal Heydel-Mankoo.

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Despite the Club’s present enthusiasm for “all-male conversation,” the Travellers Club is, in fact, the model for Conan Doyle’s Diogenes Club featured in the Sherlock Holmes stories.

“There are many men in London, you know, who, some from shyness, some from misanthropy, have no wish for the company of their fellows. Yet they are not averse to comfortable chairs and the latest periodicals. It is for the convenience of these that the Diogenes Club was started, and it now contains the most unsociable and unclubable men in town. No member is permitted to take the least notice of any other one. Save in the Stranger’s Room, no talking is, under any circumstances, allowed, and three offences, if brought to the notice of the committee, render the talker liable to expulsion. My brother was one of the founders, and I have myself found it a very soothing atmosphere.”

—- The Greek Interpreter

Charles Graves, Leather Armchairs: A Guide to the Great Clubs of London, 1963, reports:

“The chief tradition of the Travellers’ is that members do not speak to one another. …

The Travellers’ maintains its non-speaking reputation even at luncheon or dinner when members come in with books, newspapers, or magazines in their hands, practically daring anyone to talk to them. Neither talk nor guests, by the way, are tolerated in the library which has a large number of early travel books, diplomats’ memoirs and books in French. There is occasionally some furtive conversation in the (mezzanine) bar, but most members only learn to know each other either on Sundays or in August when they are allowed to use the Garrick. For there, anyone who comes to the luncheon table with a book or newspaper has it firmly removed frok him under the instructions of the secretary by the redoubtable Barker, with the words, ‘Excuse me, sir; it isn’t dome at the Garrick.’”

11 Apr 2014

Windows XP’s Iconic Wallpaper

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Charles O’Rear, the professional photographer who took the photograph titled Bliss which he sold to Microsoft to be used as the world-famous wall-paper for Windows XP, explains where he took the photo, what camera and film he used, and tells us: No, it was not Photoshopped.

10 Apr 2014

“Waterboard Him Some More”

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Abu Zubaydah

Left-wing sissies (HuffPo, SullyDish) have their panties in a twist over a John McCain revelation from the Senate Intelligence Committee’s (partisan) report on interrogation techniques leaked to the National Journal:

McCain… elaborated on an event that was reported Monday by The Post, noting that officials waterboarding a terror suspect reported to CIA headquarters that they had “gotten everything we can out of the guy.”

“The message came back, ‘Waterboard him some more.’ That is unconscionable,” McCain said.

Poor Abu Zubaydah, after all, merely, as Wikipedia notes:

Quickly rose from very low level mujahedin to third or fourth man in al Qaeda.

Served as Osama Bin Laden’s senior lieutenant.

Managed a network of training camps.

Was instrumental in the training of operatives for al Qaeda, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and other terrorist elements inside Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Acted as the Deputy Camp Commander for al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan, personally approving entry and graduation of all trainees during 1999–2000.

Approved all individuals going in and out of Afghanistan to the training camps from 1996–1999.

No one went in and out of Peshawar, Pakistan without his knowledge and approval.

Acted as al Qaeda’s coordinator of external contacts and foreign communications.

Acted as al Qaeda’s counter-intelligence officer and had been trusted to find spies within the organization.

Was involved in every major terrorist operation carried out by al Qaeda.

Was a planner for the Millennium plot to attack U.S. and Israeli targets during the Millennium celebrations in Jordan.

Served as a planner for the Paris Embassy plot in 2001.

Was one of the planners of 9/11.

Engaged in planning future terrorist attacks against U.S. interests.

Wrote al Qaeda’s manual on resistance techniques

Abu Zubaydah was one of the principal planners of the 9/11 attacks which killed more than 3000 innocent non-combatants. If I’d been in charge at the CIA and the interrogators at the scene phoned home to report that “they had gotten everything they can out of the guy,” and asked me what to do next. I would have said exactly the same thing. And that demonstrates precisely why decisions about how to deal with terrorists and illegal combatants should be made by “rough men”* and not by wimps and sissies.


*”People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

–attributed to George Orwell.

10 Apr 2014

Lamenting the Decline of San Francisco

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Since the death of George Sterling, San Francisco’s genius loci poet in his room at the Bohemian Club in 1926, people have complained that the days of that city’s wild, romanticism are over and contended that Sterling’s “cool grey city of love” has been going to hell in a handbasket.

Way back in 1964 (before the hippies had even arrived at Haight-Ashberry), John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee reflected sadly on the city’s decline in The Quick Red Fox:

San Francisco is the most depressing city in America. The come-latelys might not think so. They may be enchanted by the steep streets up Nob and Russian and Telegraph, by the sea mystery of the Bridge over to redwood country on a foggy night, by the urban compartmentalization of Chinese, Spanish, Greek, Japanese, by the smartness of the women and the city’s iron clutch on culture. It might look just fine to the new ones.

But there are too many of us who used to love her. She was like a wild classy kook of a gal, one of those rain-walkers, laughing gray eyes, tousle of dark hair—sea misty, a lithe and lively lady, who could laugh at you or with you, and at herself when needs be. A sayer of strange and lovely things. A girl to be in love with, with love like a heady magic.

But she had lost it, boy. She used to give it away, and now she sells it to the tourists. She imitates herself. Her figure has thickened. The things she says now are mechanical and memorized. She overcharges for cynical services.

Maybe if you are from Dayton or Amarillo or Wheeling or Scranton or Camden she can look like magic to you because you have not had a chance to see what a city can be. This one had her chance to go straight and she lost it somehow, and it has been downhill for her ever since. That’s why she is so depressing to those of us who knew her when. We all know what she could have been, and we all know the lousy choice she made. She has driven away the ones who loved her best. A few keep trying. Herb Caen. A few others. But the love words have a hollow tone these days.”

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Well, folks, things have gotten a lot worse since the 1960s.

Dave Schilling and Jules Suzdaltsev have a terrific rant at Vice.com explaing why “everyone worth a damn is moving to Oakland.” And they don’t even mention the political pathologies!

2014 is slowly turning into the “Year of San Francisco.” The East Coast media in America has anointed SF as the new hub for innovation, conspicuous consumption, and comically absurd rents. New York Magazine parachuted a bunch of reporters into the Bay Area to figure out how to steal their douchebags back. The article asked “Is San Francisco New York?” No, it’s much worse. The existential crisis around San Francisco’s ascension to the heights of assholery stands in stark contrast to the fact that it is damn near unlivable for most normal people.

Read the whole thing.

09 Apr 2014

The Greengrocer’s Sign

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Mollie Ziegler Hemingway quotes an essay on totalitarianism by Vaclav Havel in connection with the ouster by Mozilla of CEO Brendan Eich.

[L]et’s revisit an old essay by Vaclav Havel, the Czech playwright, poet, dissident and eventual president. Havel, who died in 2011, was a great man of freedom, if somewhat idiosyncratic in his political views. He was a fierce anti-communist who was also wary of consumerism, a long-time supporter of the Green Party who favored state action against global warming, and a skeptic of ideology who supported civil unions for same-sex couples.

“The Power of the Powerless,” written under a communist regime in 1978, is his landmark essay about dissent. It’s a wonderful read, no matter your political persuasion. It asks everyone to look at how they contribute to totalitarian systems, with no exceptions. It specifically says its message is “a kind of warning to the West,” revealing our own latent tendencies to set aside our moral integrity. Reading it again after the Eich dismissal, I couldn’t help but think of how it applies to our current situation in the States. …

To explain how dissent works, Havel introduced the manager of a hypothetical fruit-and-vegetable shop who places in his window, among the onions and carrots, the slogan: “Workers of the world, unite!” He’s not actually enthusiastic about the sign’s message. It’s just one of the things that people in a post-totalitarian system do even if they “never think about” what it means. He does it because everyone does it. It’s what you do to get along in life and live “in harmony with society.” (For our purposes, you can imagine that slogan is a red equal sign that you put up on your Facebook page.)

The subtext of the grocer’s sign is “I do what I must do. I behave in the manner expected of me.” It protects him from supervisors above and informants below.

Havel is skeptical of ideology. He says that dictatorships can just use raw power, but “the more complex the mechanisms of power become, the larger and more stratified the society they embrace, and the longer they have operated historically … the greater the importance attached to the ideological excuse.” We don’t have a dictatorship, obviously, but we do have complex mechanisms of power and larger and more stratified society.

In any case, individuals need not believe the lies of an ideology so much as behave as though they do, or at least tolerate them in silence or get along with those who work with them. “For by this very fact, individuals confirm the system, fulfill the system, make the system, are the system,” Havel says. …

In the greengrocer scenario, Havel notes that if the text of the sign read “I am afraid and therefore unquestioningly obedient,” he might be embarrassed and ashamed to put it up. The dissidents are the ones who, by refusing to put the sign up, or refusing to recant, shine a huge light on the system, including the ones who go along to get along. All of a sudden those Facebook signs, those reflexive statements, those cries of “Bigot!” look less like shows of strength and more like shows of weakness.

Read the whole thing.

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