Archive for February, 2015
25 Feb 2015

How Accurate Was Artillery During the American Civil War?

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Pretty darned accurate.

Whitworth breechloading rifle

24 Feb 2015

Does Obama Love America?

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ObamaAnthem

John Steele Gordon also has his doubts.

The president is on record as saying he’s a Christian and so most people simply accept the assertion. To be sure, it’s not exactly unprecedented for people to say things that aren’t true (ask Brian Williams), and one can only wonder how many of the tenets of the Nicene Creed Obama actually takes seriously. But because we are not given the power to see into other men’s souls, we accept his assertion and move on.

But has he ever said he loves this country? Perhaps, especially as a prelude to criticizing it for some lapse from perfection, but I don’t know of an instance. He is very much on record as denying American exceptionalism, which is pretty startling for the head of state of a country as exceptional as this country actually is (a topic for another post).

He has openly expressed his contempt for tens of millions of his fellow citizens who are not part of the liberal intellectual and financial establishment, mocking them for clinging to “God and guns,” which is a pretty startling statement for a Christian.

And he is the only head of state in all human history, as far as I know, and I know a fair amount about history, whose core foreign-policy operative principle has been to diminish the power and influence of the country he heads. He wants to lead from behind if we lead at all, and he clearly thinks that America is more often a part of the problem than a part of the solution.

So perhaps he loves this country and perhaps he doesn’t. He reminds me of the sort of parents who say they love their children, but only criticize them, while holding other children up as examples to be emulated. Parents like this, when their children are grown-up, wonder why they never come to visit them. They don’t understand that love is a two-way street. As someone who aspires to be a “world transformative figure,” Obama might want to consider that. But I doubt he will.

Read the whole thing.

24 Feb 2015

Lab Mouse Experiment Leads to Dystopia

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LabRat

io9 describes a 1972 experiment which demonstrated that urbanization, increased population density, led to dystopian decadence and inequality featuring exactly the same kind of urban community of fashion elite we have ruining America today.

In 1972, animal behaviorist John Calhoun built a rat paradise with beautiful buildings and limitless food. He introduced eight mice to the population. Two years later, the mice had created their own apocalypse. Here’s why.

Universe 25 was a giant box designed to be a rodent utopia. The trouble was, this utopia did not have a benevolent creator. John B. Calhoun had designed quite a few mouse environments before he got to the 25th one, and didn’t expect to be watching a happy story. Divided into “main squares” and then subdivided into levels, with ramps going up to “apartments,” the place looked great, and was always kept stocked with food, but its inhabitants were doomed from the get-go.

Universe 25 started out with eight mice, four males and four females. By day 560, the mouse population reached 2,200, and then steadily declined back down to unrecoverable extinction. At the peak population, most mice spent every living second in the company of hundreds of other mice. They gathered in the main squares, waiting to be fed and occasionally attacking each other. Few females carried pregnancies to term, and the ones that did seemed to simply forget about their babies. They’d move half their litter away from danger and forget the rest. Sometimes they’d drop and abandon a baby while they were carrying it.

The few secluded spaces housed a population Calhoun called, “the beautiful ones.” Generally guarded by one male, the females—- and few males — inside the space didn’t breed or fight or do anything but eat and groom and sleep. When the population started declining the beautiful ones were spared from violence and death, but had completely lost touch with social behaviors, including having sex or caring for their young.

In 1972, with the baby boomers coming of age in a ever-more-crowded world and reports of riots in the cities, Universe 25 looked like a Malthusian nightmare. It even acquired its own catchy name, “The Behavioral Sink.” If starvation didn’t kill everyone, people would destroy themselves. The best option was to flee to the country or the suburbs, where people had space and life was peaceful and natural.

24 Feb 2015

Looking Forward to Spring

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A Western Fly Fishing video devoted to Ralph Moon, author, fly tier, bamboo rod builder and conservationist who lived on the banks of the Henry’s Fork River in St Antony, Idaho. He passed away in 2011.

23 Feb 2015

Would Bill de Blasio or Boris Johnson Do This?

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NirBarkat
Jerusalem’s mayor Nir Barkat

Bridget Johnson :

The mayor of Jerusalem and his bodyguard took down a knife-wielding terrorist today, a takedown captured on Jerusalem Municipality Emergency and Safety Department footage.

According to YNet News, the 18-year-old Palestinian teen from Ramallah stabbed a 27-year-old Haredi man in central Jerusalem’s Safra Square.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, 55, was in his car nearby, jumped out of his vehicle along with his security guard, and rushed the suspect. They also gave first aid to the victim, who suffered “moderate” wounds, until paramedics arrived.

Barkat, who was a paratrooper during his six years of IDF service, is in the white shirt in the… security footage.

23 Feb 2015

Climbers Heard Screaming on Ben Nevis

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combgully
Comb Gully where Christopher Sleight was climbing

BBC:

In recent weeks, we’ve seen some of the best ice climbing conditions in years in the west of Scotland, especially on Ben Nevis.

Day after day of gentle freeze-thaw cycles have created vast swathes of thick, sticky ice of the best quality – choking gullies and dripping improbably over steep buttresses.

The corries of the Ben have been busy with climbers seeking out these incredible conditions, and a few days ago I joined them, setting out with a good friend to climb an ice route called Comb Gully – a gully high in the corrie that’s bounded by the Trident Buttress on one side and the steep walls of Tower Ridge on the other.

The ice was perfect and we were climbing well. I was on the the crux pitch – about 10m or so of very steep ground – and I had my back wedged against a rock wall as I placed an ice screw when I heard the first scream.

It started indistinctly, slightly muffled, but quickly came sharp into focus. It pierced through the mist – the most visceral, awful sound.

People talk about bloodcurdling screaming and for the first time I understood. That noise sent a stream of cold blood around my veins and chilled the back of my neck.

My first thought was simple but terrible: I was listening to someone who had just watched a loved one – not simply a climbing partner, but a loved one – fall to their death. There was so much pain and loss in that dreadful noise.

I froze for a moment, barely breathing, still perched on that vertical wall. I wasn’t in a secure position, hanging off a few millimetres of metal hooked into the ice. At that moment I just wanted to be gone – off the climb, off the mountain.

This screaming had brought home to me the possible consequences of getting something wrong, of making a mistake. That was honestly what I’d thought I’d heard – the consequences of someone getting it very wrong and losing their life.

But there was no way to make a quick retreat – the fastest way out of this gully was up. I finished the crux and secured myself to three solid ice screws and brought my partner up.

We discussed the screams, trying to work out where they had come from, speculating on what might have happened, and agreed we needed to finish our climb as quickly as we could.

We completed the final, easier pitch, and ended up on the Ben Nevis plateau in the mist, in complete silence. …

A brief search close to where we finished our climb revealed nothing. We headed down to Fort William.

I later spoke to another climber I knew who had been on a route in the same corrie. He had abseiled off his route and gone to investigate, but found nothing.

Other climbers did the same. Nobody could find evidence of an accident and the police said no-one had been reported missing.

So we don’t know who was screaming. We don’t know what happened to them. We probably never will.

Complete story.

23 Feb 2015

The Leftist Project

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MichelangeloDavid
I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

― Michelangelo Buonarroti

Oblomov, at Ricochet, contemplates the insoluble effort of the intelligentsia to re-engineer human society in accordance with ideology.

At the heart of the Leftist project is the idea of social engineering. The Leftist sees society the way Michelangelo saw a large slab of Carrara marble: a formless mass that needs sharp percussive tools to liberate its inner David. Whether it’s “class” structure (Robespierre, Lenin), wealth and income distribution (Obama, Elizabeth Warren), or ethnic makeup (Obama), the Leftist imperative is to chisel and bulldoze the mass into a more aesthetically perfect configuration with respect to the offending criterion. The fact that leftists have been doing this since 1793, with consistently lamentable results, has not dampened their enthusiasm. We are always just a few broken eggs short of the perfect omelet. And as far as the breakage, well, when you’re sculpting a masterpiece, the chips fly.

Read the whole thing.

23 Feb 2015

“The Plight of Muslims Living in this Country”

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JehJohnson
Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security

Mark Steyn takes note of a recent new Obama Administration cabinet department priority.

I opposed the creation of the Department of Homeland Security on the basic Thatcherite principle that if you create a government bureaucracy in order to deal with a problem you’ll never be rid of the problem. But I underestimated the creativity of our rulers: The DHS was set up because 19 Muslims flew planes into skyscrapers and killed thousands of people. Thirteen years later, the head of the DHS thinks his department’s priority should be to “give voice to the plight of Muslims” who have the misfortune to live in America.

22 Feb 2015

A Farewell Note From Oregon

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GaltsGulchPostcard1a

Travis is Going Galt.

5 weeks ago, I received a letter from the State Assessors, letting me know that my small two-man company was now subject to ‘Central Assessment’ for property taxes. We’re facing a fascinating new realm of taxable things known as ‘intangibles’. Things like brand recognition, goodwill, potential coverage area. Stuff that isn’t actually making me any in-hand cash yet, a tax on future effort I haven’t carried out!

The second action, this at the Federal level, is what really cements it for me. Many will have heard of the ongoing Network Neutrality / Title-II legislation being worked on by Congress and the FCC. On the face of it, it’s spun as ‘good for Internet Freedom’ and ‘levels the playing field’. The reality of it, is reclassification of ALL US broadband providers as Public Utilities at the Federal level.

So, a company I and my friends built from scratch, that doesn’t receive public subsidies or use public rights of way, will become public property. The American population has been groomed to such a level of entitlement that they see Internet service as a human right, like air or water. They feel they have a right to what I provide, a right to my labor, and the government is only too happy to oblige.

While the FCC assures small providers that wage & price controls are not part of this legislation, those of us who can read legalese can dig into the next round of this, scheduled for late 2016 or early 2017, and see that they do indeed plan just that. They aren’t calling it that of course, but it’s de-facto Nationalization. There’s one little factor they haven’t considered though, and that’s whether I’ll stand still for it.

I won’t! When this goes through, I’m out. I’ve joined an Entrepreneurial community project in the Lakes region of Chile, Fort Galt, and am pouring the same energy into it that enabled me to build an ISP from scratch. I am already seeing it becoming a buzzing-with-creativity hub, with the potential for creating the seeds of decentralized civilization.

For those doers, makers or creators who are still putting off their exit strategy, please reconsider. For those feeling that you have too deep of roots, thinking they won’t come for your industry, they will. They just came for mine.

Read the whole thing.

22 Feb 2015

Another Member of the Greatest Generation Gone

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LeonKent
Leon Kent as a young officer during WWII.

The LA Times published a pretty impressive obituary for Leon Kent.

In the first desperate hours of the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944, a young Army lieutenant was given an order that seemed impossible: stop a fast-moving column of German tanks from advancing.

The three soldiers assigned to the lieutenant were not trained in anti-tank warfare. The only artillery piece available was designed to bring down airplanes, not tanks. And the firing position provided no cover if the tanks returned fire.

A battlefield dispatch from the Associated Press described what happened:

“Anti-aircraft gunners, who stayed behind when the infantry withdrew, played a vital role in preventing a major German breakthrough in Belgium. … One battery, commanded by Lt. Leon Kent of Los Angeles, knocked out five tanks, including one King Tiger tank, in two hours.” …

Kent, who returned to a career as a lawyer and bowling-alley owner after the war, died Feb. 12 in Beverly Hills, his home for several decades. He was 99 and had pneumonia, his family said.

He always downplayed any sense that he had acted bravely during that attack. But he never dismissed the danger that his soldiers faced from German tanks.

“If they got one shot at us, we were dead,” he told The Times in 2011. “I remember thinking: Do the shells go through you or do you go up in pieces?”

By stopping the German column, Allied troops who had retreated were able to regroup and begin counter-measures.

“What Capt. Kent showed was extraordinary leadership,” retired Army Maj. Gen. John Crowe said before a 2011 ceremony at the December 1944 Historical Museum in La Gleize, Belgium. “He wouldn’t ask his troops to do anything he wouldn’t do himself. That’s the kind of leadership that inspires troops.”

After the war, locals erected in a plaque that, in French, reads: “Here the invader was stopped.” …

About that day when he was given a suicidal-sounding order to stop the enemy, Kent was blunt: “We stopped them cold.”

Read the whole thing.

22 Feb 2015

New National Symbol

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PresidentialSkunk

21 Feb 2015

“Barack Obama Doesn’t Even Like America”

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Tweet73

Kevin Williamson responds to the Mainstream Media Palace Guards’ denunciations of Rudy Giuliani’s recent statement at a private dinner that he did not believe Barack Obama loved America.

Questions about patriotism and love of country are, according to our self-appointed referees, out of bounds, déclassé, boob bait for bubbas, etc. Those are questions that we are not allowed to ask in polite society. Why? Because polite society does not want to hear the answers.

Does Barack Obama like America? The people around him certainly seem to have their reservations. Michelle Obama said — twice, at separate campaign events — that her husband’s ascending to the presidency meant that “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country.” She was in her mid 40s at the time, her “adult lifetime” having spanned decades during which she could not be “really proud” of her country. Barack Obama spent years in the Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s church as the churchman fulminated: “God Damn America!” The Reverend Wright’s infamous “God Damn America!” sermon charges the country with a litany of abuses: slavery, mistreatment of the Indians, “treating citizens as less than human,” etc. A less raving version of the same indictment can be found in the president’s own speeches and books. His social circle includes such figures as Bill Ayers and Bernadette Dohrn, who expressed their love of country by participating in a murderous terrorist campaign against it.

Does Barack Obama love his country? Call me a rube for saying so, but it’s a fair question.

Read the whole thing.

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