19 Aug 2014

Be Careful What You Vote For

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19 Aug 2014

Martial Arts Referee Loses His Temper

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It’s always better to listen to the referee.

19 Aug 2014

Sandby Borg, “the Swedish Pompeii”

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Solidus
Some warrior dropped this Roman solidus into a posthole on the floor.

Archaeological investigation of Sandby Borg, a Migration Era fort on the island of Öland has been underway since 2010.

Habitation of the fort seems to have ended with a sudden 5th century massacre. Researchers discovered the remains of at least ten unburied individuals.

Most recently, a gold Roman solidus was discovered. The coin is thought to have been part of a looted hoard, dropped during the sack of the castle.

Although the sack of the fort and murder of its inhabitants occurred 1500 years ago, local memories cause residents of the fort’s vicinity still to shun the site. Archaeologist Helena Victor stated: “There are still memories 1,500 years later of these events, it’s a dangerous place. Parents tell their children that they can’t play there because it’s a dangerous place. They don’t remember the history but they remember it’s dangerous.”

19 Aug 2014

Building a Bösendorfer

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Franz Liszt’s La Campanella S. 141 (1851) is performed by Valentina Lisitsa. Sviatoslav Richter and Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli were renowned for preferring to play on Bösendorfers.

Hat tip to Madame Scherzo.

19 Aug 2014

Richard III’s Skeleton Evidences Life Changes

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RichardIII-1
Unknown artist, King Richard III, late 16th century, National Portrait Gallery.

Chemical analysis of the bones and teeth of the skeleton found beneath the Leicester parking lot seems to confirm its identity as the remains of Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England.

CNET:

According to a study performed by the British Geological Survey and researchers at the University of Leicester, the king changed location and diet early in his childhood, and then, when he was crowned king 26 months before his death at the Battle of Bosworth, started eating a richer diet associated with his change in status. …

The team analysed the isotopes found in three locations of King Richard III’s skeleton: his teeth, his femur, and his rib. Each showed elements related to geographical location, pollution, and diet: strontium, nitrogen, oxygen, carbon, and lead. As teeth and bones continue to change and develop throughout life, the team was able to map specific elements to locations and time frames.

According to his teeth, Richard III had moved away from Fotheringhay Castle in Northampshire by the time he was seven, to an area of higher rainfall, older rocks and a different diet to what was available in his birthplace.

According to his femur — which shows an average of the last 15 years before death — Richard moved back to England’s east sometime in his adolescence or young adulthood, and his diet changed to match that of the high aristocracy.

It is his rib that shows his later life. Typically, the ribs renew themselves quickly, so it only represents the last two to five years of life. It was in this period that Richard III’s diet changed the most — although the differences between femur and rib could indicate a relocation, Richard III did not move away from England’s east.

The elements found in his rib suggests an increase in his diet of freshwater fish and birds — such as swan, crane, heron, and egret — which were popular choices for royal banquets. It also suggests that he was drinking more wine. Both these changes reinforce that food and drink — and, in particular, types of food and drink — were very important indicators of social status in England in the Middle Ages.

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Multi-isotope analysis demonstrates significant lifestyle changes in King Richard III

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

18 Aug 2014

Best Recent Tweets

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Tweet60

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Tweet61

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#IStumbleWithRosemaryLehmberg

18 Aug 2014

Muslim Culture Meets German Engineering

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18 Aug 2014

If the Pendulum Were to Swing the Other Way

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WitchBurning2

Thomas Hobbes has a little fun imagining a future very different from the present.

The triumph of the Recovery was marked most clearly by the burning of the Episcopal bishop of Maine.

She was not a particularly bad bishop. She was in fact typical of Episcopal bishops of the first quarter of the 21st century: agnostic, compulsively political and radical, and given to placing a small idol of Isis on the altar when she said the Communion service. By 2055, when she was tried for heresy, convicted, and burned, she had outlived her era. By that time only a handful of Episcopalians still recognized female clergy, it would have been easy enough to let the old fool rant out her final years in obscurity.

The fact that the easy road was not taken, that Episcopalians turned to their difficult duty of trying and convicting, and the state upheld its unpleasant responsibility of setting torch to faggots, was what marked this as an act of Recovery. I well remember the crowd that gathered for the execution, solemn but not sad, relieved rather that at last, after so many years of humiliation, of having to swallow every absurdity and pretend we liked it, the majority had taken back the culture. No more apologies for the truth. No more “Yes, buts” on upholding standards. Civilization had recovered its nerve. The flames that soared above the lawn before the Maine State House were, as the bishopess herself might have said, liberating.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Vanderleun.

18 Aug 2014

Salut Salon: “Wettstreit zu viert” — “Competition of Four”

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An excerpt from the film, “Salut Salon: Lady-Power im Quartet” by Ralf Pfleger about the Hamburg female quartet, Salut Salon.

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The complete film.

18 Aug 2014

Climb Everest On-Line

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Everest1

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

17 Aug 2014

A Dogmatic “Libertarian” Age?

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Eric Fischl, The Old Man’s Boat and the Old Man’s Dog, 1982. –Our time’s version of The Raft of the Medusa.

Mark Lila, back in June, published an important essay on contemporary ideology in the New Republic, which I would say misidentifies the contemporary ideology of secular egalitarianism as “Libertarianism.”

The social liberalization that began in a few Western countries in the 1960s is meeting less resistance among educated urban elites nearly everywhere, and a new cultural outlook, or at least questioning, has emerged. This outlook treats as axiomatic the primacy of individual self-determination over traditional social ties, indifference in matters of religion and sex, and the a priori obligation to tolerate others. Of course there have also been powerful reactions against this outlook, even in the West. But outside the Islamic world, where theological principles still have authority, there are fewer and fewer objections that persuade people who have no such principles. The recent, and astonishingly rapid, acceptance of homosexuality and even gay marriage in so many Western countries—a historically unprecedented transformation of traditional morality and customs—says more about our time than anything else.

It tells us that this is a libertarian age. That is not because democracy is on the march (it is regressing in many places), or because the bounty of the free market has reached everyone (we have a new class of paupers), or because we are now all free to do as we wish (since wishes inevitably conflict). No, ours is a libertarian age by default: whatever ideas or beliefs or feelings muted the demand for individual autonomy in the past have atrophied. There were no public debates on this and no votes were taken. Since the cold war ended we have simply found ourselves in a world in which every advance of the principle of freedom in one sphere advances it in the others, whether we wish it to or not. The only freedom we are losing is the freedom to choose our freedoms.

Not everyone is happy about this. The left, especially in Europe and Latin America, wants to limit economic autonomy for the public good. Yet they reject out of hand legal limits to individual autonomy in other spheres, such as surveillance and censorship of the Internet, which might also serve the public good. They want an uncontrolled cyberspace in a controlled economy—a technological and sociological impossibility. Those on the right, whether in China, the United States, or elsewhere, would like the inverse: a permissive economy with a restrictive culture, which is equally impossible in the long run. We find ourselves like the man on the speeding train who tried to stop it by pulling on the seat in front of him.

Yet our libertarianism is not an ideology in the old sense. It is a dogma. The distinction between ideology and dogma is worth bearing in mind. Ideology tries to master the historical forces shaping society by first understanding them. The grand ideologies of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries did just that, and much too well; since they were intellectually “totalizing,” they countenanced political totalitarianism. Our libertarianism operates differently: it is supremely dogmatic, and like every dogma it sanctions ignorance about the world, and therefore blinds adherents to its effects in that world. It begins with basic liberal principles—the sanctity of the individual, the priority of freedom, distrust of public authority, tolerance—and advances no further. It has no taste for reality, no curiosity about how we got here or where we are going. There is no libertarian sociology (an oxymoron) or psychology or philosophy of history. Nor, strictly speaking, is there a libertarian political theory, since it has no interest in institutions and has nothing to say about the necessary, and productive, tension between individual and collective purposes. It is not liberal in a sense that Montesquieu, the American Framers, Tocqueville, or Mill would have recognized. They would have seen it as a creed little different from Luther’s sola fide: give individuals maximum freedom in every aspect of their lives and all will be well. And if not, then pereat mundus.

Libertarianism’s dogmatic simplicity explains why people who otherwise share little can subscribe to it: small-government fundamentalists on the American right, anarchists on the European and Latin American left, democratization prophets, civil liberties absolutists, human rights crusaders, neoliberal growth evangelists, rogue hackers, gun fanatics, porn manufacturers, and Chicago School economists the world over. The dogma that unites them is implicit and does not require explication; it is a mentality, a mood, a presumption—what used to be called, non-pejoratively, a prejudice. Maintaining an ideology requires work because political developments always threaten its plausibility. Theories must be tweaked, revisions must be revised. Since ideology makes a claim about the way the world actually works, it invites and resists refutation. A dogma, by contrast, does not. That is why our libertarian age is an illegible age.

A must read.

17 Aug 2014

Why “Climate Change” Models Cannot Be Falsified

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witchdoctor4
Climate scientist en route to conference.

Eric Worrall demonstrates the Heads-I-Win-Tails-You-Lose unfalsifiable character of “climate change” modelling.

If the temperature goes up, this is just what the models predicted – watch out because … …soon it will get a lot worse. link

If the temperature goes down, the deep ocean is swallowing the heat – even though the heat can’t be measured, we know it must be there, because that is what the climate models tell us. Global warming prevails! link

If the global temperature crashes, its because global warming induced melting of arctic ice shut down the ocean currents. link

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If the snow disappears, this is just as models predicted – snowfall is a thing of the past. link

If there is an unusually heavy snowfall, this is just as models predicted – global warming is increasing the moisture content of the atmosphere, which results in increased snow cover. link

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If there is a drought, that is because of global warming. link

Except of course, when global warming causes heavy rainfall. link

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No matter what the observation, no matter how the world changes, we can never falsify alarmist climate theories. Any possible change, any possible observation, can always be explained by anthropogenic global warming. link

16 Aug 2014

.50 Caliber Tracers

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50caliberTracers

16 Aug 2014

Demilitarize the Police And Quit Accusing Them of Racism

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Poor Michael Brown was videotaped by a surveillance camera robbing a convenience store, shortly before he was shot by police.

Armed & Dangerous agrees with the general narrative contending that events in Ferguson, Missouri show that American police use too much military equipment and are ill-advisedly trained to employ military tactics, but –beyond all that– he feels obliged to defend police against knee-jerk accusations of racism.

[The] 2% [of the US population composed of black males aged 15 to 25] is responsible for almost all of 52% of U.S. homicides. Or, to put it differently, by these figures a young black or “mixed” male is roughly 26 times more likely to be a homicidal threat than a random person outside that category – older or younger blacks, whites, hispanics, females, whatever. If the young male is unambiguously black that figure goes up, about doubling.

26 times more likely. That’s a lot. It means that even given very forgiving assumptions about differential rates of conviction and other factors we probably still have a difference in propensity to homicide (and other violent crimes for which its rates are an index, including rape, armed robbery, and hot burglary) of around 20:1. That’s being very generous, assuming that cumulative errors have thrown my calculations are off by up to a factor of 6 in the direction unfavorable to my argument.

Now suppose you’re a cop. Your job rubs your nose in the reality behind crime statistics. What you’re going to see on the streets every day is that random black male youths are roughly 20 times more likely to be dangerous to you – and to other civilians – than anyone who isn’t a random black male youth.

Any cop who treated members of a group with a factor 20 greater threat level than population baseline “equally” would be crazy. He wouldn’t be doing his job; he’d be jeopardizing the civil peace by inaction.

Yeah, my all means let’s demilitarize the police. But let’s also stop screaming “racism” when, by the numbers, the bad shit that goes down with black male youths reflects a cop’s rational fear of that particular demographic – and not racism against blacks in general.

Hat tip to Vanderleun.

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