15 Sep 2014

Polish Names

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Grzegorz Brzęczyszczykiewicz. And some people think “Zincavage” is hard to spell!

This comic sequence comes from the comedy film “Jak rozpetalem druga wojne swiatowa” (1970) (“How I started WW2″) directed by Tadeusz Chmielewski.

14 Sep 2014

Melvin Poe, 24 August 1920 — 13 September 2014

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Melvin2009
Melvin Poe hunting his Bath County Hounds in Hume, Virginia in 2009. (photograph: Karen L. Myers)

The sad news arrived yesterday morning, via friends on Facebook, that Northern Virginia Horse Country’s most-admired huntsman, Melvin Poe, had passed away at his home in Hume at the age of 94. I suppose we were all expecting it. Last year, when the anniversary of his birth arrived in late August, there were gleeful reports about Melvin celebrating his birthday, on horseback as usual. When there was no such story this year, we began to worry.

Melvin’s longevity, and extraordinary ability to ride and even to jump a horse at such an advanced age, had been noteworthy objects of envy and admiration throughout hunting circles for years. Melvin would occasionally ride with us, car following the Old Dominion Hounds, and when we’d leave the car to take up an observation position, I’d often find myself left behind, despite being almost 30 years younger, walking carefully and favoring a bad knee afflicted with damp weather arthritis, while Melvin could scramble up a hill as nimbly as a goat.

I grew up in the mountains of Eastern Pennsylvania, where hunting and fishing were treated by many like religion, and though Melvin’s native Virginia milieu had a different sporting emphasis, on hounds and fox hunting rather than trout and deer, nonetheless, I recognized Melvin at once, on making his acquaintance, as a kindred sporting fanatic.

We tended to hang out together at hunt meets, banquets, and hound shows. I last saw Melvin on Election Day of 2012, at the Episcopal Church Hall in Delaplane. We had both turned out to try to vote down Caliban, and we stood around together talking hunting for a long time. I remember that along came a lady member of a couple of local hunts from down the road in Markham who asked our advice about dealing with a skunk which had intruded into her horse barn. (Melvin and I recommended shooting the trespasser carefully in the head, from a safe distance.)

Melvin had been working as professional huntsman for Old Dominion back when I was attending grade school. He left Old Dominion in 1962. I think he hunted hunted briefly for Piedmont and/or Middleburg, but before very long took to carrying the horn for Orange County (possibly the toniest Northern Virginia hunt). He was Orange County huntsman for decades, and his tenure there gained him national renown. Peter Winants published a Derrydale Press book on Foxhunting with Melvin Poe. A documentary film, produced in 1979, called Thoughts on Foxhunting, starred Melvin and preserves a living record of his remarkable dialogue in the field with hounds.

Melvin retired from Orange County in 1991, but continued to hunt the neighborhood around his farm in Hume, and occasionally the vast Ohrstrom domain in Bath County in the Western mountains with a private pack made up of ill-favored, misshapen, or misbehaving hounds culled by local packs. Their quality didn’t matter in the least because Melvin could get any hound to cooperate and hunt well.

We had the opportunity to go out with Melvin and his Bath County Hounds back in 2009. More frequently, we car-followed the Old Dominion Hounds with Melvin. I remember in particular one day when, I can’t remember why, Melvin and I were separated from Karen and we’d gotten in a spot well ahead of the pack when one fox after another began popping out of cover and dashing off to our left. Melvin let go with the most extreme example of the Rebel Yell (preferred by true Virginia aborigines to a mere “Tally Ho!”) I’ve ever heard. Melvin gave me a fishy look for standing there silently, so when the second fox appeared, there I was, imitating Melvin and Rebel Yelling away with him. What a memory!

We will miss him.

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Fauquier Times obituary

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Norman Fine’s Obituary

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Chronicle of the Horse: “No One Else Can Hunt Like Melvin Poe.”

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Melvin12-2010
Melvin out car following Old Dominion with us back in 2010.

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Let’s have John Tabachka blow “Going Home” for Melvin.

13 Sep 2014

True Marriage Equality in Action

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McIntoshMcCormick
Travis McIntosh and Matt McCormick

The NZ Herald reports that two New Zealanders who aren’t queer were planning to marry yesterday in order to win a radio station competition of some kind with a prize consisting of a trip to the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.

But some people cling to privilege and don’t like equality.

[G]ay rights groups have condemned the union.

Otago University Students’ Association Queer Support co-ordinator Neill Ballantyne, of Dunedin, said the wedding was an”insult” because marriage equality was a”hard fought” battle for gay people.

“Something like this trivialises what we fought for.” The competition promoted the marriage of two men as something negative,”as something outrageous that you’d never consider”, Mr Ballantyne said.

LegaliseLove Aotearoa Wellington co-chairman Joseph Habgood said the competition attacked the legitimacy of same-sex marriages.

“The point of this competition is that men marrying each other is still something they think is worth having a laugh at …

“Maybe on the day that statistics around mental health for LGBTI (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex) people are better, when high schools are safe places for LGBTI youth, we can look back on all this and laugh.

“But competitions like this don’t bring that day any closer.”

13 Sep 2014

Best 1930s Craze

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Taking lions for Wall of Death rides in sidecars.

WallofDeath
I think this is Marjorie Kemp with Sultan at Revere, Massachusetts. The motorcycle is probably an Indian Scout. The lion seems to be enjoying it.

Apparently all sorts of people, British and Americans used to do it. People named “Fearless Egbert” and “Tornado Smith.”

io9 story

Liondromes

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

13 Sep 2014

Atlas is Shrugging Out There Somewhere

Just nowhere near me. Find a theater here.

12 Sep 2014

Roman Jewelry Found Beneath Shop in Colchester

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ColchesterJewelry

The hoard is believed to have been buried by Roman residents of Camulodunum circa A.D. 61, when the British Iceni tribe under their Queen Boadicea revolted against Roman rule and destroyed the city.

BBC:

Gold and silver armlets, bracelets, rings and coins were found buried in the remains of a Roman house beneath Williams and Griffin in Colchester.

It is thought they were hidden by their wealthy owner in AD61, when Boudicca’s British tribes burnt down the town.

Colchester Archaeological Trust said it was a “remarkable Roman collection”.

The jewellery was found during renovation work at the shop, which is part of the Fenwick group and currently undergoing a £30m redevelopment.

Philip Crummy, the archaeological trust’s director, said it was discovered three days before the six-month dig was scheduled to end.

It was buried in a layer of red and black debris – the remains of burnt clay Roman walls – found under much of Colchester.

Three gold armlets, a silver chain necklace, two silver bracelets, a silver armlet, a small bag of coins and a small jewellery box containing two sets of gold earrings and four gold finger rings were unearthed by archaeologists.

The “quality” of the jewellery suggested its owner was a wealthy woman and had hidden the jewels to keep them safe from the enemy, Mr Crummy said.

“Boudicca and her army destroyed London and St Albans, though many of their inhabitants had time to escape. The townsfolk of Colchester were not so fortunate.

“They were not evacuated and endured a two-day siege before they were defeated.”

The jewellery has been taken to a laboratory for further examination and cleaning.

In July Mr Crummy’s team discovered human jaw and shin bones under the shop.

They are also believed to date from AD61 and were “likely to be the remains of people who died in buildings set on fire by the British as they overran the town”, Mr Crummy said.

Daily Mail story

Archaeology.org

Wikipedia Boadicea article

Boadicea
Statue of Boadicea near Westminster Pier as commissioned by Prince Albert and executed by Thomas Thornycroft. Completed in 1905.

12 Sep 2014

Blogging About Politics

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BloggingPolitics

Via du vide.

12 Sep 2014

Lightning Hitting Tree

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LightningHittingTree

Long exposure photo of a lightning bolt hitting a tree. Photo by Darren Pearson.

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A commenter linked Hoaxes.org, which explains:

[I]t is a long exposure shot, but not of lightning. It’s a photo created by “light painter” Darren Pearson (aka Darius Twin). Wikipedia defines light painting as “a photographic technique in which exposures are made by moving a hand-held light source or by moving the camera.”

Pearson light painted the blue flames at the base of the tree. He then cut-and-pasted the lightning bolt itself into the photo from a NOAA image of a lightning strike (below).

Pearson posted the image on his Facebook page on Oct. 17, 2013, with the caption “The old Benjamin Franklin trick wink”

So in its original context this was clearly presented as an art photo.

11 Sep 2014

Ashkenazi Jews Descend from 330 Individuals

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old-jews

io9:

A genetic analysis shows that all of the Ashkenazi Jews alive today — of which there are more than 10 million — can trace their roots to a group of just 330 people who lived 600 to 800 years ago.

The new study, which now appears in the journal Nature Communications, involved the genetic analysis of 128 healthy Ashkenazi Jews. These complete genomes were in turn compared to each other, along with the DNA of 26 Flemish people from Belgium.

Writing in the LA Times, Karen Kaplan explains more:

    “Ashkenaz” in Hebrew refers to Germany, and Ashkenazi Jews are those who originated in Eastern Europe. (Sephardic Jews, by contrast, are from the areas around the Mediterranean Sea, including Portugal, Spain, the Middle East and Northern Africa.) About 80% of modern Jews have Ashkenazi ancestry, according to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Albert Einstein was an Ashkenazi Jew, as were Gertrude Stein and Carl Sagan. Steven Spielberg and Scarlett Johansson are also Ashkenazi Jews, along with three current members of the U.S. Supreme Court (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan).

    Despite their close ties with Europe, no more than half of their DNA comes from ancient Europeans, the researchers found. Only 46% to 50% of the DNA in the 128 samples originated with the group of people who were also the ancestors of the Flemish people in the study. Those ancient people split off from the ancestors of today’s Middle Easterners more than 20,000 years ago, with a founding group of about 3,500 to 3,900 people, according to the study.

    The rest of the Ashkenazi genome comes from the Middle East, the researchers reported. This founding group “fused” with the European founding group to create a population of 250 to 420 individuals. These people lived 25 to 32 generations ago, and their descendants grew at a rate of 16% to 53% per generation, the researchers calculated.

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Nature Communications:

Sequencing an Ashkenazi reference panel supports population-targeted personal genomics and illuminates Jewish and European origins

Abstract:

The Ashkenazi Jewish (AJ) population is a genetic isolate close to European and Middle Eastern groups, with genetic diversity patterns conducive to disease mapping. Here we report high-depth sequencing of 128 complete genomes of AJ controls. Compared with European samples, our AJ panel has 47% more novel variants per genome and is eightfold more effective at filtering benign variants out of AJ clinical genomes. Our panel improves imputation accuracy for AJ SNP arrays by 28%, and covers at least one haplotype in ≈67% of any AJ genome with long, identical-by-descent segments. Reconstruction of recent AJ history from such segments confirms a recent bottleneck of merely ≈350 individuals. Modelling of ancient histories for AJ and European populations using their joint allele frequency spectrum determines AJ to be an even admixture of European and likely Middle Eastern origins. We date the split between the two ancestral populations to ≈12–25 Kyr, suggesting a predominantly Near Eastern source for the repopulation of Europe after the Last Glacial Maximum.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

11 Sep 2014

The Rice Affair

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RayRice

It is kind of interesting to note that the Rice video’s release produced another classic Internet lynch mob with the self-appointed defenders of women howling for more punishment, while the victim they are championing pleads for all of it to stop. She and her husband obviously have a lot to lose were he to be permanently banned from football.

For a rational and intelligent approach to this very unfortunate incident, read John Hinderaker:

The person in this story for whom I have the most sympathy is Janay Rice, Ray Rice’s fiancé at the time of the elevator incident, now his wife. Janay has been with Rice for a long time. They dated in high school and have a child. She has expressed regret for her role in the events that led to her husband’s downfall. Some think that is outrageous. Not me: she and her now-husband (likely both drunk) were screaming obscenities at one another as they entered the elevator; Janay took a poke at Ray and spat at him before he slugged her. Does that excuse his knocking her out? Of course not. But it is easy to see why she regrets her role in the incident, too. On Instagram, Janay Rice wrote:

    I woke up this morning feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, feeling like I’m mourning the death of my closest friend. But to have to accept the fact that it’s reality is a nightmare in itself. No one knows the pain that the media & unwanted options from the public has caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing. To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his ass off for all his life just to gain ratings is horrific.

    THIS IS OUR LIFE! What don’t you all get. If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you’ve succeeded on so many levels. Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is! Ravensnation we love you!

Some think that Janay Rice is psychologically defective because she has stood up for Ray. Others think she is a gold-digger who will dump him now that he is more or less unemployable. They could be right. I don’t know, I’ve never met the woman. But why not believe her? Is she embarrassed by the videos that have come to light? No doubt. Imagine the worst 30 seconds of your life being published on TMZ. But she has been with Rice since they were teenagers. She knows him a hell of a lot better than you and I do. She got knocked out, and married him anyway. I don’t know; there is a lot of posturing going on here, but my inclination is to be on her side.

Read the whole thing.

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Meanwhile, another of those racist Republicans and conservatives, Ian Tuttle, writing at National Review, notes just how thoroughly this kind of media feeding frenzy violates due process.

[T]he release of the video reopened the case not in a court of law, but in the court of public opinion, where millions of amateur observers have psychoanalyzed, speculated, and nitpicked every grainy second of footage.

There is much to be said about the problem of domestic violence, about the rights and responsibilities of victims of abuse, about the way cases of abuse ought to be handled by the legal system. But Ray and Janay Rice made a point of not offering their case as evidence for any argument in these debates. Against their will, the affair they deemed settled, finished, past, has been commandeered for political points, usurped as evidence, transmuted into a morality tale.

TMZ has no doubt garnered millions of website clicks in the last three days. But the release of the video has not served to correct an error or to right a wrong. It has served only to inflame our voyeuristic inclinations and give us de facto permission to readjudicate a settled matter of law.

We do not suffer the consequences of armchair lawyering. Ray and Janay Rice do. However damnable their decisions, in America private citizens still have the right to live private lives.

Full article.

When I was out running errands yesterday, I heard Rush Limbaugh also sympathizing with the Rices.

11 Sep 2014

13 Years Ago: Rick Rescorla Saved 2700 Lives

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Rick Rescorla in Vietnam, 15 Nov 1965
Captain Rescorla in action at Ia Drang, Republic of Vietnam, 15 November 1965.
photograph: Peter Arnett/AP.

Born in Hayle, Cornwall, May 27, 1939, to a working-class family, Rescorla joined the British Army in 1957, serving three years in Cyprus. Still eager for adventure, after army service, Rescorla enlisted in the Northern Rhodesia Police.

Ultimately finding few prospects for advancement in Britain or her few remaining colonies, Rescorla moved to the United States, and joined the US Army in 1963. After graduating from Officers’ Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia in 1964, he was assigned as a platoon leader to Bravo Company of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry, Third Brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). Rescorla’s serious approach to training and his commitment to excellence led to his men to apply to him the nickname “Hard Corps.”

The 2nd Battalion of the 7th Cavalry was sent to Vietnam in 1965, where it soon engaged in the first major battle between American forces and the North Vietnamese Army at Ia Drang.

The photograph above was used on the cover of Colonel Harold Moore’s 1992 memoir We Were Soldiers Once… and Young, made into a film starring Mel Gibson in 2002. Rescorla was omitted from the cast of characters in the film, which nonetheless made prominent use of his actual exploits, including the capture of the French bugle and the elimination of a North Vietnamese machine gun using a grenade.

For his actions in Vietnam, Rescorla was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star (twice), the Purple Heart, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. After Vietnam, he continued to serve in the Army Reserve, rising to the rank of Colonel by the time of his retirement in 1990.

Rick Rescorla became a US citizen in 1967. He subsequently earned bachelor’s, master’s, and law degrees from the University of Oklahoma, and proceeded to teach criminal law at the University of South Carolina from 1972-1976, before he moved to Chicago to become Director of Security for Continental Illinois Bank and Trust.

In 1985, Rescorla moved to New York to become Director of Security for Dean Witter, supervising a staff of 200 protecting 40 floors in the South Tower of the World Trade Center. (Morgan Stanley and Dean Witter merged in 1997.) Rescorla produced a report addressed to New York’s Port Authority identifying the vulnerability of the Tower’s central load-bearing columns to attacks from the complex’s insecure underground levels, used for parking and deliveries. It was ignored.

On February 26, 1993, Islamic terrorists detonated a car bomb in the underground garage located below the North Tower. Six people were killed, and over a thousand injured. Rescorla took personal charge of the evacuation, and got everyone out of the building. After a final sweep to make certain that no one was left behind, Rick Rescorla was the last to step outside.

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Rescorla on 9/11
Directing the evacuation on September 11th.
Security Guards Jorge Velasquez and Godwin Forde are on the right.
photograph: Eileen Mayer Hillock.

Rescorla was 62 years old, and suffering from prostate cancer on September 11, 2001. Nonetheless, he successfully evacuated all but 6 of Morgan Stanley’s 2800 employees. (Four of the six lost included Rescorla himself and three members of his own security staff, including both the two security guards who appear in the above photo and Vice President of Corporate Security Wesley Mercer, Rescorla’s deputy.) Rescorla travelled personally, bullhorn in hand, as low as the 10th floor and as high as the 78th floor, encouraging people to stay calm and make their way down the stairs in an orderly fashion. He is reported by many witnesses to have sung “God Bless America,” “Men of Harlech, ” and favorites from Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. “Today is a day to be proud to be an American,” he told evacuees.

A substantial portion of the South Tower’s workforce had already gotten out, thanks to Rescorla’s efforts, by the time the second plane, United Airlines Flight 175, struck the South Tower at 9:02:59 AM. Just under an hour later, as the stream of evacuees came to an end, Rescorla called his best friend Daniel Hill on his cell phone, and told him that he was going to make a final sweep. Then the South Tower collapsed.

Rescorla had observed a few months earlier to Hill, “Men like us shouldn’t go out like this.” (Referring to his cancer.) “We’re supposed to die in some desperate battle performing great deeds.” And he did.

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His hometown of Hayle in Cornwall has erected a memorial.

Hayle Memorial

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2,996 was a project put together by blogger Dale Roe to honor each victim of the September 11, 2001 attacks. 3,061 blogs committed to posting tributes to each victim. Never Yet Melted’s tribute was to Rick Rescorla, and is republished annually.

10 Sep 2014

Count Them

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ObamaSmarterThan

10 Sep 2014

Sleepy Morning

09 Sep 2014

Susan Sontag

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susansontag10

Emily St. John Mandel, in Humanities, discusses a new documentary, Regarding Susan Sontag, on the life and personality of the renowned critic and intellectual.

I was going to embed the trailer but, when I looked at it, I thought it was a completely distortive crock which was attempting, unnecessarily, to ramp up excitement over its subject by misleadingly portraying Sontag as some kind of danger-loving war correspondent and street-fighting activist.

Sontag, of course, was neither of the above. What she was was really an extraordinarily gifted and extraordinarily passionate autodidact, who by force of will lifted herself from 1950s American suburbia to a position of international fame as a critic, author, and engagée public intellectual.

The film apparently accurately, unlike the trailer, devotes itself to paying tribute to Sontag’s omniverous intellectual enthusiasm and unbridled capacity for taking pleasure in the exercise of the mind.

Reflecting on the collapse of his marriage with Sontag, in a story that appeared in the New York Observer a year after her death, Philip Rieff said, “I think what I wanted was a large family and what she wanted was a large library.”

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

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