03 Jun 2017

Britain’s National Army Museum Captured by the Enemy

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Andrew Roberts finds that the forces of Political Correctness have completed their long march right through the British National Army Museum.

Today’s huge new £24 million refurbished National Army Museum looks imposing inside, but instead of chronologically taking you through the history of the Army it is now broken down thematically into spaces such as ‘Society’, which ‘explores the Army as a cultural and military force that impacts on our customs, technologies and values’, and ‘Army’, which ‘explores the Army’s major role in the political development of the country’. Instead of seeing artefacts in a historical context, as part of a chronological narrative, the visitor is forced to explore themes, and as ever this has provided an opening for guilt, apology and political correctness.

In the old museum they just showed vast collections of uniforms, weaponry, regimental silver, medals and vast paintings of the battle of Omdurman; in today’s you are invited to press buttons to vote on whether ‘The money spent on the Army should be spent elsewhere’, and asked to decide ‘What issue should the Army focus on in the coming decade?’, giving you the choice of ‘Fighting international terrorism’, ‘Training other countries’ armed forces only’, ‘Cyber warfare’ or ‘Peacekeeping’. There is no choice available to vote for the job it has now done for four centuries, that is, ‘Defending Britain by fighting other countries’ armies’. …

[M]edals are thought of as old-fashioned and boring by the new right-on Museum, we are not told in very many cases what they are or even who they were awarded to. The wonderful pictures are still there, but in the Art Room there is now a big sign saying ‘Political Statement’ in red letters, which tells us that ‘Art became a means to legitimise territorial expansion’, and ‘Today, few artists are commissioned to celebrate military victories and triumphalism is seen as distasteful.’ For the iconic picture of the relief of Ladysmith we aren’t told the title or the name of the artist or what is happening in it, but just: ‘This was known as the Bovril War picture.’

‘The National Army Museum,’ it boasts, ‘challenges you to think again about what an army museum is.’

RTWT

03 Jun 2017

“Dead Slut Squawkin”

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(title from Vanderleun) It would take a heart of stone not to laugh at Kathy Griffin complaining.

02 Jun 2017

Wonder Woman: No Longer American

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Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman,1970s

Maureen Callahan objects to the de-Americanization of Wonder Woman.

The long-awaited “Wonder Woman” has generated more buzz than any movie this year, and rightly so. She’s the most beloved and iconic female superhero ever, yet it’s taken decades — the film’s been in development since 1996 — for a Wonder Woman movie. It’s the first to pair a female director with a big-budget, comic-book film meant to be a franchise. In Gal Gadot, it has a star who served in the Israeli army and brings authority to her fight scenes.

“She is the ultimate symbol of strength,” Gadot said in 2015. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d grow up to be in a movie playing someone who influenced as many women as she has.”

What’s curious about this version, coddled and crafted over decades, is the near-total absence of America. Wonder Woman was born during World War II, created by American psychologist William Moulton Marston, and her debut on the cover of DC’s Sensation Comics in 1942 depicted her in red, white and blue, storming into battle. She’d left her home, Paradise Island, to fight the Nazis in “America, the last citadel of democracy and of equal rights for women!”

This new Wonder Woman, however, has almost nothing to do with America. The film is set during World War I, in London. Steve Trevor, the pilot Wonder Woman rescues and falls for, is American in name only — here, he’s working for British intelligence.

Most tellingly, Wonder Woman’s iconic costume has been leached of all color. The bald eagle on her chest, the white stars on her blue bottom, the red-and-white striped boots — all have disappeared. She’s no longer vibrant and strong; she’s sad, a pacifist whose armor resembles mourning attire.

Wonder Woman’s global box-office appeal, it seems, depends on no longer being American. According to a piece in the L.A. Times last year, 70 percent of box office revenue is generated overseas, and those markets now take precedence, no matter how closely your superhero is identified with the United States. In 2010, director Joe Johnson said that his Captain America “would not be a flag waver . . . just a good person.”

RTWT


Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, 2017

02 Jun 2017

St. Louis P.D. To Sell 27 Tommy Guns

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St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

The St. Louis Police Department is selling a stash of guns that bring to mind Prohibition-era gangsters for cash to put new a handgun in every officer’s holster, plus arm the department with a number of AR-15 rifles.

The rifles and about 1,525 new 9 mm Beretta handguns will be paid for largely by the sale of 27 Thompson submachine guns, some dating to the 1920s. The proceeds from the vintage weapons will cover about half of the new arsenal — the first shipment of which is expected to arrive in August. The sale of the Berettas currently used by officers and other surplus weapons will make up the rest.

St. Louis decommissioned its Thompson submachine guns about 60 years ago. They have been stored in a basement bunker inside the police academy ever since. The guns, more commonly known as Tommy guns, were often the weapon of choice among gangsters during the Roaring ’20s and the 1930s, but they were also carried by lawmen of the time. In later years, FBI agents carried them.

Chesterfield-based Police Trades is the broker for the $1.2 million deal, which was signed in January by then-Chief Sam Dotson. Raymond Reynolds, the president of Police Trades and a retired St. Louis police lieutenant, is somewhat of a history buff with an affection for the iconic guns. He said he found original paperwork showing that the department had paid about $125 a piece for the submachine guns.

RTWT

02 Jun 2017

Treats For the Locals

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Russian soldiers feeding condensed milk to polar bears, Chukchi Peninsula, 1950.

31 May 2017

It’s Their Bakery

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The Hard Times Net:

OKLAHOMA CITY — The owner of a local goth bakery refused to bake a wedding cake for an “unbearably happy” couple last week, sparking a swift and immediate backlash, according to multiple reports.

RTWT

31 May 2017

The Search for Le Griffon

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Atlas Obscura recounts Steve Libert’s search for Le Griffon, the first European ship to sail the waters of the upper Great Lakes, lost more than 300 years ago.

Since its disappearance in 1679, the Griffon has taken on a mythic air. Widely considered the Holy Grail of undiscovered Great Lakes shipwrecks, the Griffon carried no treasure, nor anything else that may have retained its value after several centuries underwater. All the wreck offers is a brush with history—and the chance for its discoverer to link their name with that of a legendary explorer.

Shipwreck hunters joke that the Griffon is the most searched for and the most found ship in the Great Lakes—meaning there have been countless false alarms. Wayne Lusardi, a maritime archaeologist for the state of Michigan, has investigated at least 17 Griffon claims since 2002. Only two were actual ships. “I’ve looked at telephone poles, pieces of people’s barns that have washed up on the beach, piles of rocks, things like that,” Lusardi says.

Each new claim inspires a flurry of breathless headlines, but decades of dead ends have made the local shipwreck community wary. So far, the doubters have been right every time. The state’s official position is that no evidence of the Griffon has been found to date.

The cold, fresh water of the Great Lakes is kind to shipwrecks, and the 337-year-old wreckage could theoretically be found almost entirely intact. Each year, the lakes’ eerily preserved wrecks attract thousands of divers, tourists, researchers, and history buffs. Of those, only an elite handful are dead-set on finding the Griffon, but everyone knows the story.

Like any good ghost ship, the tale is steeped in fame, fortune, and intrigue. For the explorer Robert de La Salle (full name: René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle), who staked his wealth and reputation on the ship’s cargo, the disappearance was part of a chain of misfortunes that would eventually claim his life.

On January 26, 1679, Robert de La Salle drove the first bolt into the keel of what would become the Griffon, a barque longue of 30-50 feet. He planned to sail to the western shores of Lake Michigan, where he would hopefully collect enough furs to assuage his debtors while establishing a French presence in the region.

The Griffon set sail from Niagara on August 7 of that year. The crew launched earlier than planned to avert sabotage, then faced a hard slog through the shallow St. Clair River and a near-fatal storm on Lake Huron. Despite all this, La Salle arrived at the mouth of Green Bay almost a month after his initial departure: September 2, 1679. Some of his men had gone ahead via canoe to barter for furs, and awaited him onshore. Sixteen days later, the Griffon re-embarked for Niagara without La Salle aboard.

What happened next is lost to history.

La Salle continued exploring the continent’s interior, but the Griffon was never far from his mind. He began to worry about the ship’s safety after months passed without word from his crew. Neighboring tribes reported seeing the boat sail into a violent storm, then finding a hatch cover, spoiled pelts, and other apparent wreckage the following spring.

La Salle would eventually come to believe something more sinister. In a letter from 1683, he reported hearing strange rumors: A nearby village had been visited by a neighboring tribe. They had brought captive Frenchmen carrying pelts and explosives—both of which the Griffon had been carrying. One of the men may have matched the description of the ship’s pilot, a man most records refer to as Luc the Dane. Luc, La Salle decided, must have sabotaged the ship to sell the furs himself.

Until his death in 1687, La Salle believed his crew had betrayed him.

It was three hand-hewn pegs in the beam that first made Libert suspect he’d finally solved one of the biggest mysteries of the Great Lakes. Given the wood’s shape, apparent age, and location, he concluded the beam was the Griffon’s bowsprit, used to maneuver the sails. And so he returned year after year.

RTWT

31 May 2017

#covfefe

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With one Twitter typo, Donald Trump created the greatest Internet meme of all time.

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More at Tech Crunch.

30 May 2017

Obamacare: Repeal and Replace

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“The people comparing the Republican health plan to what Obamacare said it was going to do are like if passengers on Titanic lifeboats complained that the menu on the Carpathia the next day wasn’t going to be as good as what they had been promised on the Titanic.”David Forsmark on FB.

30 May 2017

No More New Cars!

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My solution: a 1992 Toyota Land Cruiser. I’ve mounted a 1930s Alvis Hare mascot on the hood.

Eric Peters warns that buying your next car new could be a terrible mistake.

t’s a great time to buy a used car as far as the deal you’ll get.

It’s a smart move, because of the hassle you’ll avoid.

Maybe not right away but down the road — probably just after the warranty coverage expires.

What’s happened is we’ve crossed a kind of engineering Rubicon. It has happened over the past two or three years — and there is probably no turning back, not unless regulatory reasonableness returns — and that doesn’t look likely. If anything, it is likely to become less and less reasonable.

The car companies have had to resort to design and engineering measures just as desperate and extreme as the financial measures to which they are resorting to fluff up sales. But in the case of the design and engineering measures, it is to placate federal regulatory ayatollahs, who continue to demand, among other things, that new vehicles achieve ever-higher fuel economy — and lower “greenhouse emissions” — irrespective of the cost involved.

It is why, next year, BMW will append a four-cylinder/hybrid drivetrain to all 5 Series sedans — and eliminate the six-cylinder/non-hybrid versions.

It is why every new-design car has a direct injected (DXI or GDI) engine rather than a port fuel injected engine. Automatic Stop/Start systems are pretty much standard equipment, which you can’t cross off the options list.

The latest automatic transmissions have eight — or even ten — speeds. Turbochargers, sometimes two of them, are the new In Thing.

Bodies are being made from aluminum rather than steel.

And, of course, there is “autonomous” driving technology — cars that semi-steer and park themselves, accelerate and brake on their own.

None of these things materially improves the performance — or even the economy — of the vehicle in a way that’s meaningful to the owner.

A car with DI and an eight-speed transmission might give you a 3-4 MPG uptick on paper vs. the same basic vehicle without these technologies.

That’s not nothing, of course.

But it doesn’t cost nothing, either.

Not much is said about the fact that the car costs more to buy because it has these technologies. You “save on gas” — by spending more on the car. The same logic used to peddle hybrids.

It’s interesting that this other side of the equation is almost never discussed and that the ayatollahs who smite us with their regulatory fatwas — so seemingly concerned about how much we’re spending on gas — never seem much concerned about how much we’re spending to cover the cost of their fatwas.

Up front — and down the road.

These turbocharged, direct-injected, stop-starting cars — with their eight and nine and ten speed transmissions and aluminum bodies — deliver the goods (MPGs) when new. Enough so that the car companies achieve “compliance” with whatever the latest federal fatwas are, at any rate.

But what happens as they get old?

I’ve written before about what’s already happening. About relatively young cars — less than ten years old, sometimes — becoming economically unfixable (that is, not worth fixing) when, for instance, the uber-elaborate transmission fails.

You have an otherwise sound car: an engine that will probably run reliably for another 100,000 miles, an un-rusty body and paint that still looks great. The overall car’s not a junker — but the transmission is junk. So you have it towed to the shop, expecting to get the tranny (not Caitlyn) rebuilt. And the guy tells you they don’t do that anymore. Rebuild — or repair.

They replace.

You must buy a new (or “remanufactured”) transmission, because they’ve become too complicated and time-consuming to deal with on a work bench. You are faced with spending $5,000 on a replacement transmission for a car that’s worth $8,000.

Gotcha.

Older cars made with economically sane five and six-speed transmissions remain economically repairable. But they do not make them new anymore. Not many, anyhow.

And not for much longer.

It is not just that, either.

Last week, I reviewed the last of the Mohicans — as far as full-size trucks. The 2017 Toyota Tundra. It is the only current-year, full-size truck you can still buy that does not have a direct-injected engine. This means it will never have a carbon-fouling problem — as Ford and others who have added DI to their engines, to squeeze out an MPG or three more, to please Uncle, have regularly been having.

Actually, it’s you — if you own one of these DI’d rigs — who will have the problem.

And be paying to un-crud your direct-injected engine, which may involve partial disassembly of the engine. This is not like changing the oil. Nor will it cost you $19.99, either.

Ford’s solution to the DI blues? It will be adding a separate port fuel injection circuit to its direct-injected engines next year. So, the vehicles will have two fuel injection systems. You’ve just double your odds of having a fuel system problem at some point.

The point here is it’s not just one thing; it is a synergistic multiplicity of things that are bringing into actuality the Planned Obsolescence people used to grumble about — but which was mostly not the case. Until just the past several years, most cars were usually economically repairable well into their senior years. It made sense to put, say, $2,000 for a rebuilt (four or five-speed) automatic into a car worth $8,000.

But with all the complex, fragile, non-serviceable, and hugely expensive-to-replace-when-it-fails stuff they are grafting onto cars to make them Uncle friendly, they become not worth fixing long before the cars themselves have reached their liver-spotted years.

The truth is that probably every car made since about 2015 is a Latter Day Throw-Away. It will run beautifully for about ten years. Just a bit longer than those $500/month payments we were making.

RTWT

I reached the same conclusion after buying my last BMW. It came with no dipstick. (You get to rely on the computer, which is useless and wrong anytime your battery is low, the temperature is too cold, the wiring gets wet, &c., &c.) It also came with no spare tire. Instead, we got run-flat tires which set off flat-tire warnings all the time on dirt roads, which had terrible traction on wet roads, and which were good for 10K miles. I’m used to getting 50K miles on normal Michelins.

There is, each year, more and more expensive crap built into automobiles, and fewer and fewer choices left to the unlucky car owner. I never wanted seat belts to begin with, let alone air bags.

Personally, I intend to go even farther back into automotive history than the author advises. My next car is going to have no computer at all, but will have a distributor and carburetors, and be much easier to work on.

30 May 2017

The Eccentricity of English

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William conquers Harold and the English language. From Cotton Vitellius A. XIII.(1) f.3v.

John McWhorter explains that the English language has a number of unusual features which are artifacts of the language’s history involving the interaction of several different peoples.

English speakers know that their language is odd. So do people saddled with learning it non-natively. The oddity that we all perceive most readily is its spelling, which is indeed a nightmare. In countries where English isn’t spoken, there is no such thing as a ‘spelling bee’ competition. For a normal language, spelling at least pretends a basic correspondence to the way people pronounce the words. But English is not normal. …

We think it’s a nuisance that so many European languages assign gender to nouns for no reason, with French having female moons and male boats and such. But actually, it’s us who are odd: almost all European languages belong to one family – Indo-European – and of all of them, English is the only one that doesn’t assign genders that way.

More weirdness? OK. There is exactly one language on Earth whose present tense requires a special ending only in the third‑person singular. I’m writing in it. I talk, you talk, he/she talk-s – why just that? The present‑tense verbs of a normal language have either no endings or a bunch of different ones (Spanish: hablo, hablas, habla). And try naming another language where you have to slip do into sentences to negate or question something. Do you find that difficult? …

when the Angles, Saxons and Jutes (and also Frisians) brought their language to England, the island was already inhabited by people who spoke very different tongues. Their languages were Celtic ones, today represented by Welsh, Irish and Breton across the Channel in France. The Celts were subjugated but survived, and since there were only about 250,000 Germanic invaders – roughly the population of a modest burg such as Jersey City – very quickly most of the people speaking Old English were Celts.

Crucially, their languages were quite unlike English. For one thing, the verb came first (came first the verb). But also, they had an odd construction with the verb do: they used it to form a question, to make a sentence negative, and even just as a kind of seasoning before any verb. Do you walk? I do not walk. I do walk. That looks familiar now because the Celts started doing it in their rendition of English. But before that, such sentences would have seemed bizarre to an English speaker – as they would today in just about any language other than our own and the surviving Celtic ones. Notice how even to dwell upon this queer usage of do is to realise something odd in oneself, like being made aware that there is always a tongue in your mouth.

At this date there is no documented language on earth beyond Celtic and English that uses do in just this way. Thus English’s weirdness began with its transformation in the mouths of people more at home with vastly different tongues. We’re still talking like them, and in ways we’d never think of. When saying ‘eeny, meeny, miny, moe’, have you ever felt like you were kind of counting? Well, you are – in Celtic numbers, chewed up over time but recognisably descended from the ones rural Britishers used when counting animals and playing games. ‘Hickory, dickory, dock’ – what in the world do those words mean? Well, here’s a clue: hovera, dovera, dick were eight, nine and ten in that same Celtic counting list.

RTWT

30 May 2017

Fighting the Oppression of Newtonian Physics

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The College Fix:

‘Binary and absolute differences’ are ‘exploitative’

A feminist academic affiliated with the University of Arizona has invented a new theory of “intersectional quantum physics,” and told the world about it in a journal published by Duke University Press.

Whitney Stark argues in support of “combining intersectionality and quantum physics” to better understand “marginalized people” and to create “safer spaces” for them, in the latest issue of The Minnesota Review.

Because traditional quantum physics theory has influenced humanity’s understanding of the world, it has also helped lend credence to the ongoing regime of racism, sexism and classism that hurts minorities, Stark writes in “Assembled Bodies: Reconfiguring Quantum Identities.”

A researcher in culture and gender studies at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, Stark also holds an appointment in women’s and gender studies at the University of Arizona through its Institute for LGBT Studies.

She is a member of the Somatechnics Research Network, hosted by UA, whose scholars “reflect on the mutual inextricability of embodiment and technology.”

Stark identifies Newtonian physics as one of the main culprits behind oppression. “Newtonian physics,” she writes, has “separated beings” based on their “binary and absolute differences.”

“This structural thinking of individualized separatism with binary and absolute differences as the basis for how the universe works is embedded in many structures of classification,” according to Stark.

These structures of classification, such as male/female, or living/non-living, are “hierarchical and exploitative” and are thusly “part of the apparatus that enables oppression.”

Therefore, Stark argues in favor of combining intersectionality and quantum physics theory to fight against the imperative to classify people based on hierarchical categories.

RTWT

29 May 2017

Brit Sentenced to 9 1/2 Years for Causing Accidental Fire with Cigarette Butt

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46-year-old John Cox of Kidderminster, depressed over the break-up of his marriage, got drunk in the course of a Monarch Airlines Flight travelling from Birmingham to Sharm El-Sheikh. Cox broke the rules by smoking a cigarette in the plane’s lavatory, then accidentally caused a fire by discarding his cigarette in the lavatory trashcan. He compounded his offense by being rude and belligerent when confronted by the aircrew.

Cox pled guilty in January to an offence of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered and was later sentenced to four years and six months in jail.

Sounds pretty blood draconian, right? Well, it turned out that Solicitor General Robert Buckland Q.C. then appealed the sentence for being too light (!), and the British Appeals Court agreed. Lady Justice Sharp said: “The potential for causing disaster here was plain and obvious. The sentence passed was unduly lenient, this offence called for a deterrent sentence and condign punishment.” And the Appeals court’s three judge panel more than doubled Cox’s sentence to nine and a half years (!!).

In Austria, another modern judge recently reduced the sentence of a Muslim immigrant who raped a ten-year-old boy, explaining that his conduct was provoked by a “sexual emergency” from six years to four concluding the original sentence had been excessive.

Isn’t it wonderful to be living in this modern age of European Enlightenment?

Telegraph 5/26

29 May 2017

Memorial Day

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WWII Victory Medal

All of my grandparents’ sons and one daughter, now all departed, served.

JoeZincavage1
Joseph Zincavage (1907-1998) Navy
(No wartime photograph available, but he’s sitting on a Henderson Motorcycle in this one.)


William Zincavage (1914-1997) Marine Corps


Edward Zincavage (1917-2002) Marine Corps


Eleanor Zincavage Cichetti (1922-2003) Marine Corps

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