24 Mar 2015

Papieren, Bitte!

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PapersPlease
Your Papers, Please!

Benjamin Preston, at Car & Driver, reports on a little more bad news for Americans, thanks to George W. Bush’s Department of Heimat Sekuritat.

If you live in Arizona, Louisiana, New York, or one of more than a dozen other states, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has bad news for you. Come January 19, your driver’s license will no longer allow you access to certain federal facilities. Unless DHS changes its mind. Again.

In 2005, Congress passed a bill called the Real ID Act, based upon recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission. Whether or not you’ve heard of the law depends largely upon how in tune you are with conspiracy theories. Where you live matters, too, because nearly a decade after the law’s passage, only 19 states actually comply with its standards.

Real ID’s stated intent is to ensure that all jurisdictions issuing driver’s licenses and other identification meet federal stand­ards, “which should inhibit terrorists’ ability to evade detection by using fraudulent identification.” Basically, the government is upping the ante on what it will accept as valid forms of ID at federal facilities, nuclear power plants, and—here’s the biggie—federally regulated airline flights (i.e., most of them).

Opponents fear that Real ID will lead to a national identity card like those issued by “totalitarian” governments and that its requirement that states share data from their department of motor vehicle databases is an invasion of privacy.

24 Mar 2015

Italians Wore the Best Helmets

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MilanBurgonet
A Milanese burgonet, bearing the visage of a dragon. Musée de l’Armée, Paris.

Hat tip to Belacqui.

24 Mar 2015

Today’s Profs Scared Witless By PC

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AngryStudents

WHH (obviously a liberal) describes just how intimidated by liberal student protests today’s professors have become.

[L]iberal students scare the shit out of me. I know how to get conservative students to question their beliefs and confront awful truths, and I know that, should one of these conservative students make a facebook page calling me a communist or else seek to formally protest my liberal lies, the university would have my back. I would not get fired for pissing off a Republican, so long as I did so respectfully, and so long as it happened in the course of legitimate classroom instruction.

The same cannot be said of liberal students. All it takes is one slip—not even an outright challenging of their beliefs, but even momentarily exposing them to any uncomfortable thought or imagery—and that’s it, your classroom is triggering, you are insensitive, kids are bringing mattresses to your office hours and there’s a twitter petition out demanding you chop off your hand in repentance.

Is paranoid? Yes, of course. But paranoia isn’t uncalled for within the current academic job climate. Jobs are really, really, really, really hard to get. And since no reasonable person wants to put their livelihood in danger, we reasonably do not take any risks vis-a-vis momentarily upsetting liberal students. And so we leave upsetting truths unspoken, uncomfortable texts unread.

There are literally dozens of articles and books I thought nothing of teaching, 5-6 years ago, that I wouldn’t even reference in passing today. I just re-read a passage of Late Victorian Holocausts, an account of the British genocide against India, and, wow, today I’d be scared if someone saw a copy of it in my office. There’s graphic pictures right on the cover, harsh rhetoric (“genocide”), historical accounts filled with racially insensitive epithets, and a profound, disquieting indictment of capitalism. No way in hell would I assign that today. Not even to grad students.

Here’s how bad it’s gotten, for reals: last summer, I agonized over whether or not to include texts about climate change in my first-year comp course. They would have fit perfectly into the unit, which was about the selective production of ignorance and the manipulation of public discourse. But I decided against including them. They forced readers to come to uncomfortable conclusions. They indicted our consumption-based lifestyles. They called out liars for lying. Lots of uncomfortable stuff. All it would take was one bougie, liberal student to get offended by them, call them triggering, and then boom, that’s it, that’s the end of me.

Read the whole thing.

Do note: Professor WHH (obviously not the sharpest pencil in the box) is so spooked that he/she? is actually afraid that teaching “the evils of British Imperialism” and “climate change” (what two topics could possibly be more PC?) might provoke a hostile leftist response.

23 Mar 2015

WASPs and Jews

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LoomisGuys
A typical group of WASP preppies in olden times.

Robert Laird (a WASP Harvard guy) discusses the vexed relations between the two most influential American tribes.

I was raised to be prejudiced against the Jews. Not because they were inferior or evil or un-Christian, but because they were the only serious rivals of the real Chosen People, people of Anglo-Saxon and celtic descent. For my father it was that simple. If we were the New York Yankees, they were the Boston Red Sox, which meant that almost everything about them was wrong or at least unacceptable. Everything different was a line of demarcation. They were Democrats (many of them Communists). They were ostentatious in their wealth. They had bad taste in cars and houses and clothes. They were loud and obnoxious. They had bad manners and didn’t even know it. Everything similar was the field of competition. They were smart, they were devoted to education, they were fiercely competitive, they took care of their own, they had a way of enduring storm after storm after catastrophe and still rising almost unbelievably at the top of whatever hierarchy they were in. They were so much like us in every important way that they were completely intolerable because they sent food back in restaurants and made dirty jokes in mixed company. It was absolutely unacceptable to let them beat you in what mattered most: school. …

Always a romantic in the Sir Walter Scott mode, I thought Judaism itself was boring and creepily emasculating. Those yarmulkes and shawls. The dumb hats and curls of the orthodox. I thought Jewish accents and inflections were jarring, nasal, Hebrew a language of throat-clearing coughs that sounded gross compared to the music of English. Their synagogues looked like community centers, not holy places. Their young women wore ugly shoes and their older women wore too much makeup and nagged in public. They offended my esthetic senses, all of them. Although I did fall in love with Rebecca when I read Ivanhoe. If only I could meet one like her… which I did only much much later.

Read the whole thing.

——————————

I attended a Lithuanian parochial elementary school, so I never actually had Jewish schoolmates before high school. In high school, I had a whopping two, count ‘em, Jewish classmates. One of them was academically hopeless. The other was the best male student in our class, after me. He followed the stereotype accurately. He wanted to succeed. He worked furiously. And he always came in second. I did essentially no work in high school. I just pursued my own personal program of self education through extensive reading. I never did homework. I could always churn out the obligatory Latin exercises and math problems in school before the relevant classes.

Relations between Lithuanians and Jews in Shenandoah were very amicable. We bought our furniture and appliances from Jewish merchants who treated our parents like distant relatives. When my parents wanted a new range or a new sofa, they would go see Benny Schoor, who would make a big fuss over them, express enthusiasm over their selection and arrange to deliver it the next day. My parents never asked what Benny proposed to charge and they never paid in cash. A month or two after their purchase was delivered, a bill for some small sum from Benny would appear in the mail. My parents would make whatever monthly payment it was, and eventually the bills would stop coming. Everybody had perfect confidence in the honesty and reliability of everybody else.

I thought of Jewish kids, like Italians, as hopeless incompetent non-combatants, who needed to be looked after and protected by tough Lithuanians like myself from the predatory juvenile gangs of Poles, Irish, Slovaks, and Lithuanian scum who roamed our town’s streets looking for victims.

Where I grew up, pretty much everyone was some kind of Roman Catholic ethnic immigrant type with names like Kowalonek and Wodjehowski, so I got a real kick out of being at Yale and getting to meet people with English-language names, just like the people I’d read about in books.

WASPs struck me as a lot like Lithuanians who had simply been in the country longer and had more money, and who had consequently successfully cultivated better manners and tastes. Like Lithuanians, WASPs, I found, placed a high value on emotional restraint, revered tradition, cared strongly about morality and respectability, and typically possessed a love of order and a recognition of the necessity of making a practice of doing things correctly.

I think there is a general recognition, in the larger world, of a lot of similarities between the New England WASP tribe and the Jewish tribe. Both have traditionally been clannish, moralistic, hectoring and intolerant, intensely ambitious and keen on acquiring wealth and worldly success.

What seems odd to an outside spectator like myself has been the incredibly dramatic and downright astonishing retreat of the WASP from the center of the America Establishment, and his precipitous surrender of control and operation of the culture and institutions to others, most frequently to Jews. The American WASP was traditionally distinguished by his firm grip on common sense and his Yankee shrewdness and skepticism. All those admirable qualities have not been much in evidence in recent decades. Faced with the rise of a left-wing culture of accusation and complaint, the gentlemanly WASP has simply hung his head in shame over the alleged crimes of his ancestors and slunk quietly off the stage.

I think myself that the vanishing of the old-fashioned WASP from the culture and the establishment is really a pity. The old gentlemen who used to run things were more than adequately well-meaning, but they also had good sense. You couldn’t panic or stampede those people. If Eric Holder’s Justice Department had come along and demanded that Yale create a new Star Chamber system to adjudicate sexual harassment complaints or lose federal aid, old President Seymour, I suspect, would have felt bad at losing all that money, but would still have told Eric Holder that Yale would not comply. No one would ever expect the current president of Yale to resist the tide of fashion in any form.

23 Mar 2015

German Hacker Replicated Politician’s Fingerprint From Photograph

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GermanMinisterFingerprint
Last December, a member of the Chaos Computer Club claimed to have replicated the fingerprint of German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen using photographs of the politician’s thumb.

Wired puts a nice “Justice was done” spin on the story, but gets the identity of the Minister wrong.

A few years ago the German Minister of Justice—kind of like the Attorney General here in the United States—he was pushing very hard for Germans to have biometric data on their national ID cards, and he wanted all Germans to be fingerprinted. And the Germans pushed back, particularly privacy advocates and those in the Chaos Computer Club. And so what they did is when the German Minister of Justice was out at a restaurant, they went ahead and after he left they got the glass that he had left behind, and they were able to lift his fingerprint off of the glass. They then took a photograph, brought it into Photoshop, cleaned it up, and then were able to replicate it on 3D printers, in latex. … [They] included it as a handout in their Chaos Computer Club magazine that went out to 5,000 people, and they encouraged their readers to leave the Justice Minister’s fingerprints at crime scenes all over Germany, which they did.”

—————————–

The BBC has the correct story.

A member of the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) hacker network claims to have cloned a thumbprint of a German politician by using commercial software and images taken at a news conference.

Jan Krissler says he replicated the fingerprint of defence minister Ursula von der Leyen using pictures taken with a “standard photo camera”.

Mr Krissler had no physical print from Ms von der Leyen.

Fingerprint biometrics are already considered insecure, experts say.

Mr Krissler, also known as Starbug, was speaking at a convention for members of the CCC, a 31-year-old network that claims to be “Europe’s largest association” of hackers.

He told the audience he had obtained a close-up of a photo of Ms von der Leyen’s thumb and had also used other pictures taken at different angles during a press event that the minister had spoken at in October.

Mr Krissler has suggested that “politicians will presumably wear gloves when talking in public” after hearing about his research.

23 Mar 2015

Two Older Citizens of Massachusetts

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Putnam1
Daguerreotype of Judge Samuel Putnam, 1768-1853, Lowell Family Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard.

Putnam2
Daguerreotype of Sarah Putnam, Lowell Family Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard.

Hat tip to My Ear Trumpet.

22 Mar 2015

Looks Like Someone Dropped This

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CrocsandCamera

22 Mar 2015

“Stay Secretive, My Friends”

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From those wags at the Republican National Committee.

21 Mar 2015

A Different Viewpoint

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21 Mar 2015

How to Become Gluten Intolerant

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We have hipster friends in Seattle allegedly so afflicted, and this video really strikes a chord.

20 Mar 2015

Suppress Those Sodomites

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Ass_Hunter
Feeling homophobic? Here’s a highly politically incorrect game to play.

The Sacramento Bee reports on an obviously tongue-in-cheek ballot initiative in California which is bound to drive the Left Coast’s resident fruits and nuts into a tizzy.

An attorney from Huntington Beach, [Matt] McLaughlin in late February spent $200 to propose a ballot measure that authorizes the killing of gays and lesbians by “bullets to the head,” or “any other convenient method.”

McLaughlin’s “Sodomite Suppression Act” now is testing the limits of free speech. …

[T]he measure is likely to proceed to the signature-gathering stage. At the moment, its fate rests with state Attorney General Kamala Harris, who is charged with writing a title and summary for the proposal. Legal experts say she has little choice but to let the process continue and that McLaughlin is unlikely to face professional repercussions.

Joking about shooting Gays, of course, isn’t very nice. But neither is foisting Gay Marriage on an unwilling America through judicial legislation based on preposterous constitutional interpretations, and neither is it very nice when people lose their jobs for donating to support Proposition 8, nor is it very nice when private individuals are ordered by left-wing courts to violate their private convictions and render support to Gay Marriage.

Resistance to tyranny over the private opinions of Americans has only risen to the rude joking stage, but you never know, one day as the reach and extent of coercion proceeds and the forms it takes multiplies, resistance may proceed beyond joking.

20 Mar 2015

Carolina Butcher

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Carnufex
Carnufex carolinensis

The Guardian has news of the discovery of a very large, bipedal crocodile which once inhabited the Carolinas.

Scientists have unearthed fossils in the United States of a big land-dwelling crocodile that lived about 231 million years ago, walked on its hind legs and was a top land predator right before the first dinosaurs appeared.

Transported back to the Triassic Period, what would a person experience upon encountering this agile, roughly 9-foot-long (about 3 meter-long), 5-foot-tall (about 1.5 meter-tall) beast with a long skull and blade-like teeth?

“Abject terror,” said North Carolina State University paleontologist Lindsay Zanno, who led the research published in the journal Scientific Reports.

“Climb up the nearest tree,” advised North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences paleontologist Vince Schneider.

The creature is named Carnufex carolinensis, meaning “Carolina butcher,” for its menacing features. It was a very early member of the crocodile lineage and was unlike today’s beasts. It was not aquatic and not a quadruped, instead prowling on two legs in the warm equatorial region that North Carolina was at the time.

19 Mar 2015

DNA Shows That Tribal Identities Persist in Britain 1400 Years Later

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EnglandMap700

The Telegraph reports that A new genetic map of Britain shows that there has been little movement between areas of Britain which were former tribal kingdoms in Anglo-Saxon England.

Britons are still living in the same ‘tribes’ that they did in the 7th Century, Oxford University has found after an astonishing study into our genetic make-up.

Archaeologists and geneticists were amazed to find that genetically similar individuals inhabit the same areas they did following the Anglo-Saxon invasion, following the fall of the Roman Empire.

In fact, a map showing tribes of Britain in 600AD is almost identical to a new chart showing genetic variability throughout the UK, suggesting that local communities have stayed put for the past 1415 years.

Many people in Britain claim to feel a strong sense of regional identity and scientists say they the new study proves that the link to birthplace is DNA deep.

The most striking genetic split can be seen between people living in Cornwall and Devon, where the division lies exactly along the county border. It means that people living on either side of the River Tamar, which separates the two counties, have different DNA.

Read the whole thing.

19 Mar 2015

Evanston, Illinois Home Guard, January, 1942

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EvanstonHomeGuard1942-375
Northwestern University girls brave freezing weather to go through a Home Guard rifle drill on the campus in Evanston, Illinois on January 11, 1942.
From left to right are: Jeanne Paul, age 18, of Oak Park, Illinois,; Virginia Paisley, 18, of Lakewood, Ohio; Marian Walsh, 19, also from Lakewood; Sarah Robinson, 20, of Jonesboro, Arkansas,; Elizabeth Cooper, 17, of Chicago; Harriet Ginsberg, 17.

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