31 Mar 2014

20 Maps of European Divisions

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30 Mar 2014

The Real Dark Side

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30 Mar 2014

Popular Delusions

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Next time you see a poll published in some newspaper indicating that a majority of the public believes in Global Warming, supports Gay Marriage, or thinks there ought to be a law against something or other, take a look at this one.

My parents believed back then that reading comic books was somehow bad for you.

30 Mar 2014

“Mozart Was a Red”

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A short play by Murray Rothbard, poking fun at the cult of personality a certain great libertarian author used to run.

Actually, Mozart really was a red. Ever seen Die Zauberflaute, an opera propagandizing for Freemasonry and the enlightened rule of scientific experts?

29 Mar 2014

Running With Rhino

The rhinoceros constitutes a rare surviving example of megafauna, and grows in adulthood into an extraordinarly fast and powerful animal, dangerous enough when hunted to win a place in the African Big Five.

About a decade ago, I was living in Lincoln Park in Chicago, across the street from the zoo, which I was consequently able to frequent. One day, I was flabbergasted to see a zoo-keeper delivering a back-rub with a bristle push broom to a full-grown white rhinoceros, who was visibly ecstatic. One could see that this practice was a regular routine.

In fact, I found that the rhino would come trotting over expectantly, when out-of-doors in its sunken enclosure, if any human approached invitingly close to the fence. That friendly rhino was obviously hoping that someone else might volunteer to scratch her back.

29 Mar 2014

Another Tumblr Image Identified

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Francis Frith, Photograph: Batalha, Portugal, mislabeled “Capela Imperfeita [Unfinished Chapel],” actually Main Portal of the Mosteiro de Santa Maria da Vitória [Monastery of St. Mary of Victory], photographed between 1850 and 1880, whole-plate albumen print from wet collodion glass negative, Victoria & Albert Museum.

My personal version of OCD makes me research and identify striking unknown Tumblr images which come to my attention.

Wikipedia:

The Monastery of Batalha (Portuguese: Mosteiro da Batalha), literally the Monastery of the Battle, is a Dominican convent in the civil parish of Batalha, in the district of Leiria, in central region of Portugal. Originally, and officially known, as the Monastery of Saint Mary of the Victory (Portuguese: Mosteiro de Santa Maria da Vitória), it was erected in commemoration of the 1385 Battle of Aljubarrota, and would serve as the burial church of the 15th-Century Aviz dynasty of Portuguese royals. It is one of the best and original examples of Late Gothic architecture in Portugal, intermingled with the Manueline style.

The convent was built to thank the Virgin Mary for the Portuguese victory over the Castilians in the battle of Aljubarrota in 1385, fulfilling a promise of King John I of Portugal. The battle put an end to the 1383-1385 crisis.

It took over a century to build, starting in 1386 and ending circa 1517, spanning the reign of seven kings. It took the efforts of fifteen architects (Mestre das Obras da Batalha), but for seven of them the title was no more than an honorary title bestowed on them. The construction required an enormous effort, using extraordinary resources of men and material. New techniques and artistic styles, hitherto unknown in Portugal, were deployed.

Work began in 1386 by the Portuguese architect Afonso Domingues who continued till 1402. He drew up the plan and many of the structures in the church and the cloister are his doing. His style was essentially Rayonnant Gothic, however there are influences from the English Perpendicular Period. There are similarities with the façade of York Minster and with the nave and transept of Canterbury Cathedral.

He was succeeded by Huguet from 1402 to 1438. This architect, who was probably from Catalonian descent, introduced the Flamboyant Gothic style. This is manifest in the main façade, the dome of the square chapter house, the Founder’s Chapel, the basic structure of the Imperfect Chapels and the north and east naves of the main cloister. He raised the height of the nave to 32.46 m. By altering the proportions he made the interior of the church even seem narrower. he also completed the transept but he died before he could finish the Imperfect Chapels. …

The portal shows in the archivolt a profusion of 78 statues, divided over six rows, of Old Testament Kings, angels, prophets and saints, each under a baldachin. The splays on both sides display (inferior copies of) statues of the apostles, with one standing on a chained devil. The tympanum shows us Christ enthroned, sitting under a baldachin and flanked by the Four Evangelists, each with his own attribute.

Hat tip to Fred Lapides.

28 Mar 2014

Australian Construction Workers Not Themselves When Hungry

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Hat tip to Clarice Feldman.

27 Mar 2014

Tutankhamun’s Tomb: Seal Knot

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Knot tied in 1323 B.C., sealing the doors of Tutankhamun‘s tomb, discovered 1922.

Hat tip to Vanderleun.

26 Mar 2014

Italian Laws Getting Passed

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I don’t know if it’s true, but some people say that the Italian parliament currently passes legislation just so that its members can watch Maria Elena Boschi sign it. Maria Elena Boschi is an Italian lawyer, politician, and current Minister of Constitutional Reforms.

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Pshaw! Commenter Col. Goff provides a link demonstrating that the picture is a Photoshopped humor item, which has recently gone viral.

26 Mar 2014

Andrew Sullivan’s Blizzard of Lies, I

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When former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had the temerity to criticize the leadership of the chosen one for failing to secure a Status of Forces agreement, i.e. an official grant of permission for the US military to operate in Afghanistan, from what is essentially, in fact, a puppet regime which we installed into power in the first place, observing that “a trained ape” could have gotten one, Andrew Sullivan and his Dish came noisily to the Kenyan Caliban’s defense in their customary hair-pulling and nail-clawing vituperative fashion.

What’s truly striking and amazing about Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld is their persistent refusal/inability to reflect in any serious way on the immense moral, fiscal, and human costs of their failed wars. They are post-modern creatures – Rumsfeld never tackled an insurgency, he just “redefined” the word, just as he re-named torture – and you see this most graphically in Errol Morris’s small masterpiece, The Unknown Known. And so the very concept of personal accountability and responsibility is utterly absent. There was one flash of it: when Rumsfeld offered his resignation after the torture program’s reach and migration was revealed in the photos from Abu Ghraib. But even then, Rumsfeld was resigning because of the exposure – not because of the war crimes which he directly authorized.

What is truly striking and amazing about Andrew Sullivan, and his colleagues at the Dish, is their reliance on Big Lie repetition of mendacious left-wing talking points delivered in blizzard form, intentionally making any effort at refutation so time-consuming, lengthy and laborious as to be nearly impossible.

“immense moral, fiscal, and human costs of their failed wars” ?

The majority of Americans, existing outside the exquisite and morally précieux community of left-wing cranks, poseurs, and pseudo-intellectuals, as far as I can see, felt no moral cost whatsoever in taking military action against Saddam Hussein and the Baathist Iraqi regime which was hostile, firing on US planes on a daily basis, and which had flagrantly violated the cease-fire agreements ending the First Gulf War. Nor would anyone intellectually honest and sane feel the slightest iota of chagrin at the concept of invading barbarous Afghanistan, at the time host of the leadership of the 9/11 terrorist plot and their training camps. What gives me moral problems is the Bush Administration’s failure to initiate hostilities against, and to subjugate and civilize, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Significant elements of the military and intelligence leadership of Pakistan were obviously in cahoots with the jihadi terrorists of al Qaeda and the Taliban, which explains why it is that Osama bin Ladin, after fleeing Afghanistan, wound up living within a few hundred yards of Pakistan’s military academy in Abbotabad.

Terrorism costs money, and the money supporting the 9/11 plot and al Qaeda generally came principally from Saudi Arabia. 15 of 19 9/11 terrorists were Saudis.

Iran, no differently from Iraq, was (and is) a regime sponsor of international terrorism, a passionate adversary of America and the West in general, an odious tyranny, and a persistent developer (and potential disseminator) of WMDs, including nuclear weapons. Iran was no less worthy than Iraq as target of regime change.

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As to the allegedly immense fiscal costs, Andrew Sullivan would clearly be better informed if he regularly read my blog. Back in 2010, I quoted Randall Hoven who put the costs of the Iraq War into perspective. (I’m deliberately restricting the discussion to Iraq-related figures and arguments in the interests of brevity.)

If we look only at the Iraq War years in which Bush was President (2003-2008), spending on the war was $554B. Federal spending on education over that same time period was $574B.

Obama’s stimulus, passed in his first month in office, will cost more than the entire Iraq War—more than $100 billion
(15%) more.

Just the first two years of Obama’s stimulus cost more than the entire cost of the Iraq War under President Bush, or six years of that war.

Iraq War spending accounted for just 3.2% of all federal spending while it lasted.

Iraq War spending was not even one quarter of what we spent on Medicare in the same time frame.

Iraq War spending was not even 15% of the total deficit spending in that time frame. The cumulative deficit, 2003-2010, would have been four-point-something trillion dollars with or without the Iraq War.

The Iraq War accounts for less than 8% of the federal debt held by the public at the end of 2010 ($9.031 trillion).

During Bush’s Iraq years, 2003-2008, the federal government spent more on education that it did on the Iraq War. (State and local governments spent about ten times more.)

With respect to “human costs,” US casualties during the Iraq War were lower than casualties produced by accidents during peace-time twenty years earlier.

A. 1983-1986

YEAR//TOTAL MILITARY FTE//NBR OF U.S. Military Deaths

1983: 2,465

1984: 1,999

1985: 2,252

1986: 1,984

(a) FTE = Full Time Equivalent personnel, based on DoD fiscal year-end totals

Now, here are the comparable totals for the most recent, four-year period:

B. 2003-2006

2003: 1,228

2004: 1,874

2005: 1,942

2006: 1,858

Source: Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report for Congress, American War and Military Operations Casualties: Lists and Statistics, Updated June 29, 2007

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With respect to “failed wars,” Andrew & company are obviously wildly rhetorically over-reaching. Iraq may not have been transformed by the Bush Administration’s efforts into a perfect democracy and the peacable kingdom, enjoying perfect domestic comity and able to serve as a model of superb administration and happy Westernization, but neither is Iraq any longer a major regime sponsor of terrorism and regional troublemaker. Its government is infinitely more democratic than it used to be, and the people and leadership groups of Iraq have a decidedly greater opportunity to make their own choices, for good or ill, than they did under the national socialist tyranny of Baathism. The invasion and occupation of Iraq may have led to a less conclusively positive result than might be desired, but it certainly compares favorably to the results of previous American military efforts in Korea (which left the enemy isolated, but actively making mischief and building –and potentially disseminating– weapons of mass destruction ) and in Vietnam (where the enemy won and went on to occupy and enslave a US ally).

Domestic traitors, like Andrew Sullivan and the democrat party, who opportunistically switched positions on the war and began enthusiastically lending aid and comfort to the enemy, undermining the morale of the American public, libeling the motives of our actions, and impugning the justice of our cause obviously had a great deal to do with the prolongation of the war and the American government’s cloture of the mission in Iraq without complete success at pacification and democratization.

The Dish preaching about “failed wars” is rather like Lord Haw-Haw or Tokyo Rose during WWII denouncing Allied efforts to maintain troop morale always at enthusiastic levels, after years of broadcasting Axis propaganda.

More later

26 Mar 2014

Fat Guy Shoots a Pistol From the Hip Really Fast

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But did he actually hit anything?

Hat tip to Ratak Monodosico.

26 Mar 2014

Congratulations on Your Re-election, Senator Grassley!

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Bruce Braley (D) demonstrates how to lose a race for the Senate in Iowa in 37 seconds. Posing next to all the booze (with no necktie) while delivering this condescending plea for support adds extra points.

It’s awfully nice when your opponent writes your most effective campaign ad for you and then delivers it.

George Washington was a farmer who never attended college, let alone law school. So was John Marshall.

25 Mar 2014

Nat Silver Who Accurately Predicted All 50 States in 2012 Has Good News for the GOP in 2014

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IJReview:

Nate Silver, the New York Times statistics whiz and FiveThirtyEight founder and chief editor who accurately predicted every state’s election results in the 2012 election, has some good news for the Grand Old Party: The 2014 midterm Senate election he deemed a toss-up last July now projects a slight edge for the Republicans. Why the switch? He explains that Obama’s shrinking approval ratings and the fact that Republicans have recruited quality candidates have given the party the edge they now enjoy.

Hot Air reports that Silver predicts a has a 60% chance for the GOP to take control of the upper chamber, and a 30% chance of winning it big. Of the 36 Senate races this November, he’s predicting that Republicans will pick up 6 seats, and possibly as many as 11. Senators Mary Landrieu, Mark Pryor and Kay Hagan are some of the incumbent Democrats whose seats are considered vulnerable. Montana, West Virginia, Arkansas and South Dakota are Democrat-held seats likely to be picked up by the GOP.

25 Mar 2014

Havana House

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