06 Apr 2014

Abel Davis (14 February 1925 — 30 September 2013)

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Abel Davis riding an event course on Solvay.

Catching up with my back issues of Chronicle of the Horse, I found in the December 16, 2013 issue the obituary of another great sportsman.

Money quote:

“When his cardiologist advised him to quit polo, Mr. Davis took up three-day eventing at Goose Downs Farm (N.M.). ‘I think his doctor only agreed because he didn’t know what three-day eventing was,’ said Audrey Hays, his second wife.”

Horseman Abel Davis died at the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque on Sept. 30 due to complications from a chronic spinal cord injury. He was 88.

Mr. Davis was born on Feb. 14, 1925, to Gen. Abel Davis and Marjorie Mayer Davis in Glencoe, Ill.

At 18, Mr. Davis was drafted into the 14th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army. He served in World War II, and on Jan. 1, 1945, he was shot five times during the Battle of the Bulge. He received a Purple Heart and spent 1½ years recovering in Virginia hospitals.
Mr. Davis’ first job was selling “Big Yank” overalls. He moved to Chicago, where he started one of the first direct mail businesses in the country, National Business Lists, and raised four children with his wife of 46 years, Susan Frank.

He spent free time foxhunting and skiing with his family in Aspen, Colo., and moved permanently to Tesuque, N.M., after he sold the business in 1968.

Together with Philip Naumberg, Jim Alley and Jim Ritchie, he established the Santa Fe Polo Grounds (later renamed the Santa Fe Horse Park and now called the Santa Fe Equestrian Center).

When his cardiologist advised him to quit polo, Mr. Davis took up three-day eventing at Goose Downs Farm (N.M.). “I think his doctor only agreed because he didn’t know what three-day eventing was,” said Audrey Hays, his second wife.

At 75, Mr. Davis achieved his goal of competing preliminary with his mount, Sir Francis Drake.

In addition, he was a whipper-in for the Juan Tomás Hounds (N.M.) for 20 years.

At 80, he broke his neck in a jumping accident, but he still took dressage lessons after recovering.

“After they made him, they broke the mold,” said Audrey. “He marched to the beat of his own drum. He bought all of his horses young and green and brought them up himself. There was no way you could tell him to get off his horse when he was older.”
He was a founding member of the Tesuque Volunteer Fire Department and an avid animal lover, who was known for his pack of red Dobermans.

Mr. Davis was preceded in death by his wife, Susan, and daughter, Leslie Davis. He is survived by his second wife, Audrey; his daughter Patricia Willson and her husband, Rich, of Albuquerque; his daughter Lauren Davis and her husband, Charles Stathacos, of Croton, N.Y.; his son Jad Davis and his wife, Sarah, of Santa Fe, N.M.; his son-in-law Bill Lazar and his wife, Lynn Rosen, of Bozeman, Mont.; and four grandchildren.

05 Apr 2014

A Thought Experiment

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imagine life is a novel

and a group of especially obnoxious characters declare they are smarter, nobler, and kinder than everyone else, and are foreordained to rule, lifted on the wave of history.

How do you think it ends?

From Happy Acres via Vanderleun.

05 Apr 2014

Rather Pretty Car

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c.1957 Maserati 450S Costin-Zagato Coupe (Maserati Factory) | Gelatin Silver Print: Jesse Alexander

Wikipedia:

Maserati 450S (built 1956-1958) were nine racing cars made by Maserati of Italy, and used in FIA’s endurance World Sportscar Championship racing.

[The automobile in the above photo must be] Chassis #4501 [which] had a 4.2-litre V8, based on the prototype raced at 1956 Mille Miglia and 1956 Swedish Grand Prix. A clutch failure after a very promising start in the Buenos Aires 1000 km by Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio prevented the car from commencing the season with a win. The car was redesigned to a coupe drawn by Frank Costin of England, constructed by Zagato, and raced once again by Stirling Moss at Le Mans where it failed to finish. Later, the car was restored by Medardo Fantuzzi of Maserati (new chassis #4512); later by Faralli & Mazzanti.

Via Ratak Mondosico.

04 Apr 2014

Even Some Lefties Are Outraged by Mozilla CEO’s Ouster for Thought-Crime

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Mozilla to Brendan Eich: “But don’t do it here!”

New York Times:

In Silicon Valley, where personal quirks and even antisocial personalities are tolerated as long as you are building new products and making money, a socially conservative viewpoint may be one trait you have to keep to yourself.

On Thursday, Brendan Eich, who has helped develop some of the web’s most important technologies, resigned under pressure as chief executive of Mozilla, the maker of the popular Firefox web browser, just two weeks after taking the job. The reason? In 2008, he donated $1,000 in support of Proposition 8, a California measure that banned same-sex marriage.
Brendan Eich, creator of the JavaScript programming language, was appointed Mozilla’s chief executive on March 24. MozillaBrendan Eich, creator of the JavaScript programming language, was appointed Mozilla’s chief executive on March 24.

Once Mr. Eich’s support for Proposition 8 became public, the reaction was swift, with a level of disapproval that the company feared was becoming a threat to its reputation and business. …

“We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act,” wrote Mitchell Baker, the executive chairwoman of Mozilla. “We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.”

—————————-

Rather astonishingly, a couple of prominent commentators on the left came out solidly in defense of liberal (in the classical liberal sense) values.

Andrew Sullivan (who I think is often dead wrong) was courageously right on this one.

Will he now be forced to walk through the streets in shame? Why not the stocks? The whole episode disgusts me – as it should disgust anyone interested in a tolerant and diverse society. If this is the gay rights movement today – hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else – then count me out. If we are about intimidating the free speech of others, we are no better than the anti-gay bullies who came before us.

Andrew deserves one of his own Yglesias awards.

—————————-

Conor Friedersdorf, Andrew Sullivan’s former employee, now at the Atlantic, was equally forthrightly on the good side this time.

[N]o one had any reason to worry that Eich, a longtime executive at the company, would do anything that would negatively affect gay Mozilla employees. In fact, Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker, his longtime business partner who now defends the need for his resignation, said this about discovering that he gave money to the Proposition 8 campaign: “That was shocking to me, because I never saw any kind of behavior or attitude from him that was not in line with Mozilla’s values of inclusiveness.” It’s almost as if that donation illuminated exactly nothing about how he’d perform his professional duties.

But no matter.

Calls for his ouster were premised on the notion that all support for Proposition 8 was hateful, and that a CEO should be judged not just by his or her conduct in the professional realm, but also by political causes he or she supports as a private citizen.

If that attitude spreads, it will damage our society.

Consider an issue like abortion, which divides the country in a particularly intense way, with opponents earnestly regarding it as the murder of an innocent baby and many abortion-rights supporters earnestly believing that a fetus is not a human life, and that outlawing it is a horrific assault on a woman’s bodily autonomy. The political debate over abortion is likely to continue long past all of our deaths. Would American society be better off if stakeholders in various corporations began to investigate leadership’s political activities on abortion and to lobby for the termination of anyone who took what they regard to be the immoral, damaging position?

It isn’t difficult to see the wisdom in inculcating the norm that the political and the professional are separate realms, for following it makes so many people and institutions better off in a diverse, pluralistic society. The contrary approach would certainly have a chilling effect on political speech and civic participation, as does Mozilla’s behavior toward Eich.

Its implications are particularly worrisome because whatever you think of gay marriage, the general practice of punishing people in business for bygone political donations is most likely to entrench powerful interests and weaken the ability of the powerless to challenge the status quo. There is very likely hypocrisy at work too. Does anyone doubt that had a business fired a CEO six years ago for making a political donation against Prop 8, liberals silent during this controversy (or supportive of the resignation) would’ve argued that contributions have nothing to do with a CEO’s ability to do his job? They’d have called that firing an illiberal outrage, but today they’re averse to vocally disagreeing with allies.

Most vexing of all is Mozilla’s attempt to present this forced resignation as if it is consistent with an embrace of diversity and openness. Its public statements have been an embarrassment of illogic, as I suspect the authors of those statements well know. “Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech,” the company wrote. “Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard.”

This is a mess.

—————————-

The hell of it is: Google is just as PC totalitarian as Mozilla. This blog was suspended by Google from its advertising program one day, abruptly, and with no prior notice, for having published, years earlier, examples of cartoons criticizing Islamic religious attitudes by the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Google’s cryptic communications indicated that I was expected to purge from this blog every potentially controversial item critical of Islam which Google might object to, and then beg them to take me back. I sent Google an email inviting them to kiss my ass.

I’m seriously thinking of going Linux on my next PC.

04 Apr 2014

Mechanics Illustrated Scoops MSM

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Dragonmaster Chow carries a Smith & Wesson .45.

Glenn Reynolds was amused the other day when he found the gun-running scandal involving Democrat State Senator Leeland Yee (who represents San Francisco & San Mateo County and who was, when the scandal broke, running for Secretary of State) was getting coverage from Popular Mechanics, while being studiously ignored by CNN.


Esquire magazine
picked up the Popular Mechanics “Leeland Yee-supplied guns” feature, but the MSM is generally ignoring all this, classifying the matter as merely “local news.”

Leeland Yee was honored in 2006 by the Brady Campaign
for “gun violence prevention” for his co-athoring a bill requiring semiautomatic handguns (not sold covertly by State Senator Yee) to include ballistics identification microstamping.

03 Apr 2014

Harvard Has (At Least) Three Books Bound in Human Skin

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The Crimson did a feature on Harvard’s Anthropodermic items back in 2006.

A few individuals give new meaning to the idea of spending forever in the library—their skin binds three of the books in Harvard’s 15-million-volume collection.

Without extensive genetic testing, Harvard librarians still do not have the “foggiest notion” of how many volumes wrapped in human hide exist throughout the system, says Director of University Libraries Sidney Verba ’53. But they have identified three such volumes in the Langdell Law Library, Countway Library of Medicine, and the Houghton Collection. The three books range in content from medieval law to Roman poetry to French philosophy.

Langdell’s curator of rare books and manuscripts, David Ferris, says of his library’s man-bound holding: “We are reluctant to have it become an object of fascination.” But the Spanish law book, which dates back to 1605, may become just that.

Accessible in the library’s Elihu Reading Room, the book, entitled “Practicarum quaestionum circa leges regias…,” looks old but otherwise ordinary.

Delicate, stiff, and with wrinkled edges, the skin’s coloring is a subdued yellow, with sporadic brown and black splotches like an old banana. The skin is not covered in hair or marked by tattoos—except for a “Harvard Law Library” branding on its spine. Nothing about it shouts “human flesh” to the untrained eye.

The book’s 794th and final page includes an inscription in purple cursive: “the bynding of this booke is all that remains of my dear friende Jonas Wright, who was flayed alive by the Wavuma on the Fourth Day of August, 1632. King Mbesa did give me the book, it being one of poore Jonas chiefe possessions, together with ample of his skin to bynd it. Requiescat in pace.”

Ferris, who believes the volume was “almost certainly rebound” after its initial assembly, sees it as “a kind of memento mori, in the spirit of rings and jewelry made out of the hair of deceased in the 19th century.”

“While it strikes us as macabre,” the curator says, “it is honoring and memorializing this man.”

In February 1946, Harvard acquired the tome from a New Orleans rare books dealer for $42.50. “Clem G. Hearsey, New Orleans,” is stamped on the book’s first page. In 1992, DNA tests on the binding’s skin proved inconclusive—the genetic evidence presumably was corrupted by the tanning process. Ferris says “he has never seen a book like this on the market,” and that, without its binding, the book probably values between $500 and $1000, while the skin makes it more valuable.

Jack Eckert, the reference librarian at the Countway Library’s Center for the History of Medicine in Longwood, writes in an e-mail that he believes only one human-skin volume exists in the Countway collection. According to Eckert, the Medical School’s 1597 French translation of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” bears a small penciled annotation, “Bound in human skin,” on the inside cover.

But Eckert questions the binding’s authenticity. “I think even this is somewhat doubtful as [the book] doesn’t greatly resemble others I’ve seen in the past,” he adds.

Back in Harvard Yard, in the rarefied confines of Harvard’s Houghton Collection, resides “Des destinées de l’ame…,” a collection of essays meditating on the human spirit by Arsène Houssaye, a French poet and essayist.

Houghton’s associate librarian for collections, Thomas Horrocks, describes the light volume as one of the author’s lesser works.

Notes from a now-missing typed memorandum that once accompanied the book revealed that the binding’s skin comes from “the back of the unclaimed body of a woman patient in a French mental hospital who died suddenly of apoplexy.”

Houssaye gave the book, printed in the 1880s, to his friend, Dr. Bouland. The doctor, who had the book rebound, included a note expressing his belief that “a book on the human soul merited that it was given a human skin.”

Given to Houghton in June 1954 by the wife of John B. Stetson, the small book—approximately three by six inches—sports gold trim. Its binding features a greenish-gold hue as well as visible pores.

Via Roadtrippers Daily.

—————————–

NYM published an article on a similar book owned by Brown back in 2006 as well.

03 Apr 2014

Jokes for Intellectuals

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Via tikld.

03 Apr 2014

Imagining a Libertarian Police Force

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Tom O’Donnell, in the New Yorker, has fun satirizing police work in an imaginary libertarian future. Libertarians like myself will enjoy it anyway. Get those central bankers!

I was shooting heroin and reading “The Fountainhead” in the front seat of my privately owned police cruiser when a call came in. I put a quarter in the radio to activate it. It was the chief.

“Bad news, detective. We got a situation.”

“What? Is the mayor trying to ban trans fats again?”

“Worse. Somebody just stole four hundred and forty-seven million dollars’ worth of bitcoins.”

The heroin needle practically fell out of my arm. “What kind of monster would do something like that? Bitcoins are the ultimate currency: virtual, anonymous, stateless. They represent true economic freedom, not subject to arbitrary manipulation by any government. Do we have any leads?”

“Not yet. But mark my words: we’re going to figure out who did this and we’re going to take them down … provided someone pays us a fair market rate to do so.”

“Easy, chief,” I said. “Any rate the market offers is, by definition, fair.”

He laughed. “That’s why you’re the best I got, Lisowski. Now you get out there and find those bitcoins.”

“Don’t worry,” I said. “I’m on it.”

I put a quarter in the siren. Ten minutes later, I was on the scene. It was a normal office building, strangled on all sides by public sidewalks. I hopped over them and went inside.

02 Apr 2014

Some Tastes Differ

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Unknown, Sir Walter Raleigh, 1593, University of North Carolina.

[In the Fall of 1944, at the Bird & Bush, C.S. Lewis told J.R.R. Tolkien and the other Inklings about an elderly lady he knew]:

“She was a student of English in the past days of Sir Walter Raleigh. At her viva she was asked: What period would you have liked to live in Miss B? In the 15C. said she. Oh come, Miss B., wouldn’t you have liked to meet the Lake poets? No, sir, I prefer the society of gentlemen. Collapse of viva.”

–Letter from J.R.R. Tolkien to his son Christopher Tolkien, 6 October 1944, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, p. 95.

02 Apr 2014

How Much It Cost For Each Obamacare Enrollee

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Darrel Issa posted this chart on his Facebook page yesterday.

02 Apr 2014

“A Phony Number, and Wonderfully Precise”

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Krauthammer discusses Obamacare sign-up numbers on Fox News. link (Embeded video had unremovable autoplay.)

——————————–

The Daily Mail is not buying it.

A triumphant President Barack Obama declared Tuesday his signature medical insurance overhaul a success, saying it has made America’s health care system ‘a lot better’ in a Rose Garden press conference.

But buried in the 7.1 million enrollments he announced in a heavily staged appearance is a more unsettling reality.

Numbers from a RAND Corporation study that has been kept under wraps suggest that barely 858,000 previously uninsured Americans – nowhere near 7.1 million – have paid for new policies and joined the ranks of the insured by Monday night.

02 Apr 2014

Every Man Should Own a Gun

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Raywolf, at Return of Kings (a blog dispensing cynical un-PC advice to male millenials), offers an opinion I agree with.

At the end of the day if you’re not prepared to kill someone and you don’t have at least some basic skills in using firearms, there may come a time when someone might kill you or someone you care for. Owning a gun and being able to use one ought to be like owning a car.

The failure of gun control is laughably highlighted in both the UK and Australia. In the UK all handguns are illegal with hefty mandatory sentences, so now most criminals are not only armed, seeking the strategic advantage of weapons everyone else are forbidden to own, but are also happy to use their guns, when the sentences for killing are not much worse than the sentences for just having a gun. If I am about to get caught but I can kill you and get away with it, I might as well.

Read the whole thing.

I do not personally agree with his choices of guns. Glocks are ugly and have no real safety. Raywolf contends that the Glock 34′s 17-round magazine makes it “more interesting.” But, speaking frankly, I expect that, if it ever comes down to it, you will only very rarely need to shoot anybody more than once. I like S&W revolvers and 1911-style automatics better than I like Glocks.

Myself, I don’t really see why anyone wants one of those ugly military-style semi-autos. They are expensive, stylistically inappropriate for hunting, and are really just toys useful only for blasting off huge quantities of ammo plinking. If the social order ever breaks down to the point that one needs a gun chambered for the standard military round with lots of firepower, I’d expect to get one off the ground for free after I shot the first few bad guys.

For the beginner, a pump shotgun is a good choice, I agree. But, I’d say go out there and buy an Ithaca Model 37, or some kind of Winchester or Remington, with a wooden stock. Then, if you go out in the field to shoot pheasants, you won’t look like a fantasist who thinks he is Rambo.

For a hunting rifle, you do not want a great big enormous muzzle-brake hanging on the end of your barrel. If you are too delicate & sensitive to accept a little recoil, buy a rifle chambered in low-recoil cartridges like .270, 7×57, .257 Roberts, or even .243. Most connoisseurs prefer Mauser-style controlled-feed bolt actions to the Remington 700 (which is a push feed action). Older rifles are commonly both less expensive and cooler than brand new ones. Possible choices are enormous. If you are young, have good eyes, and are likely to be hunting at Eastern sorts of ranges, I’d recommend getting a light rifle with iron sights.

Roughly 60 years ago, the humorist Corey Ford used to publish a monthly feature in Field & Stream magazine called The Lower Forty, a chronicle of the adventures of a fictional informal club of small-town New England sportsmen formally titled “The Lower Forty Hunting, Shooting and Inside Straight Club.” The club’s leader and role model was Judge Parker (a fictional version of a friend of Ford’s named Parker Merrow).

Around 1960 or 1961, Judge Parker received by telegram the news that his son, at the time serving as an Air Force officer in Japan, had fathered a baby boy. Judge Parker sat right down and wrote a “Letter to a Grandson,” which episode constituted one of the most memorable of the Lower Forty stories. The letter portion of the story is quoted here.

Judge Parker proceeds to identify and set aside for his infant grandson all the favorite items from his own battery of sporting equipment, including some guns. Note the final line.

I am leaving you a few things.First I leave you your Great Grandfather’s weapons. He taught me how to shoot a pistol with his .38 Colt Army. I have not fired it since the day he died. I will give it a real good cleaning, and put the neatsfoot oil to the holster, an leave it with the same loads that he put in the cylinder himself the last time he dropped the hammer. Also you will receive his .30-30 carbine and his 12 gauge Greener. No buck ever went very far that caught one of my Dad’s .30-30’s behind the fore shoulder. No goose kept flying very long that he centered with a load of 4’s.Next I leave you my old Browning five shot 12 bore. I have used that gun so much that it has been reblued and rebuilt twice. Also my house gun, a .357 Magnum Smith and Wesson snub nose. A man who is not ready and able to defend his home does not belong in our family.

02 Apr 2014

Barbed Wire

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How the West was Fenced – Like a cattle-brand, local family ranches in the late 1800’s made their own barbed wire and used it to identify their property lines and retain their stock. What’s a good indicator that you’re a badass..? Making your own barbed f’n wire! The hardy bastards probably flossed their teeth with it too..

Via Ratak Monodosico.

01 Apr 2014

No Climate Change Denying, Please!

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The Rumford Meteor reports on the new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report: UN Climate Panel Says That According To Their Figures, You Drowned Last Thursday. And Don’t Try To Deny It.

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