Archive for August, 2015
27 Aug 2015

The Trump Temptation

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TrumpCampaigning

Establishmentarian James Lileks finds himself tempted to remove his JEB BUSH button and start rooting for The Donald.

The Donald, laid out the skyscraper’s blueprints, and said, “We’ve got a problem. The geological surveys were wrong, and there’s just not enough bedrock to support 95 stories. We’ll have to scale it back.”

I don’t doubt that at that moment, Trump narrows his eyes, lets the tension build, keeps his tongue as the the clock on the wall ticks — a beautiful, 19th-century clock made by one of Europe’s finest clock makers, finest pearl on the face and ivory on the sweep hand. Not that he supports killing elephants; he’s a big fan of elephants, he had a statue of one outside the Atlantic City casino, which, by the way, made more money its first year than any casino in history, the people loved it . . . Anyway, the moment builds, the clock ticks, sweat starts on the brows of the engineers.

Trump nods. Then he speaks. “Find a way.”

“You mean — double the footings and cross-brace the structure?”

“If that’s what it takes.”

Quick looks among the engineers: The legends are true. Another clears his throat: “We need an inertial dampening mechanism at the top of the structure, or it will sway in high winds. Right now, the design just has penthouses.”

Trump nods. “The views will be tremendous.”

“But people will be sickened by the motion of the structure.”

“The problem with America today is too many people are throwing up. I can change that.”

A sigh of relief around the table.

I imagine that’s how it goes, right? That’s why I know this man is such a threat. He gets things done. I look at the rest of the candidates, and I’m pretty sure not one of them ever went on-site with a hard-hat and solved the problem of weak water pressure on the 82nd floor. If Donald Trump can built a 95-story skyscraper and have a heckler ejected in a news conference, of course he can build a wall and find every illegal and put them on a bus to wherever. He’d do it by decree, right? I am so waiting for someone to do the decree thing for stuff I secretly want.

He’ll ride a horse up Pennsylvania Avenue on Inauguration Day, right? Say he’ll ride a horse and I am off Jeb’s team in a second.

Hat tip to Robert Laird.

27 Aug 2015

Traveler to the West

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TibetanTeen

27 Aug 2015

Hillary’s Latest Haircut

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Hillary$600Haircut

27 Aug 2015

Cheap Flights

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26 Aug 2015

This Year’s Hugos

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morlock
(Morlock by Tony McVey)

The struggle over Science Fiction’s Hugo Awards waged between “sad puppies” (joined this year by the even more enthusiastic “rabid puppies” associated with writer Vox Day) and the Social Justice Warriors continued through the voting for this year’s awards.

Stung by the the puppies’ successes last year, the SJW faction was better organized and implemented a new strategy.

Milo Yiannopoulos describes the SJW operation and its results.

[T]he opposition to the Sad & Rabid Puppies slates took the form of encouraging voters to choose “no award” for an award category unless a work with appropriate politics was available. Taking it a step farther, many SJW zealots proved their commitment to tolerance, openness and variety by vowing not to read a work found on a Puppies slate under any circumstances.

Like the Death Star’s visit to Alderaan, the results of Hugo Awards voting were ugly and unprecedented. 5 major categories including best novella and best short story went with “no award.” To put that in perspective, in the previous 60 years of Hugo Awards, a total of 5 “no awards” have been given previously.

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A rabid puppy commenter at Vox Day’s site waxed eloquent about what he thought of all this.

If we were to erect a monument to the spirit of our age, it wouldn’t be something sublime like the Eiffel Tower, St. Peter’s Basilica or the Empire State Building. No grandiose frescos would decorate it. No wondrous ostentations in gold leaf and lapis lazuli would adorn it. No clean-limbed marble statuary would guard it.

No, it’d be a squat, ugly thing, like a paleolithic fertility fetish or a Morlock or typical WorldCon polyamory enthusiast. It would be sexless, androgynous and gendernonconforming all at the same time, and rendered in drab wattle and daub. Its most striking feature would be a great big mealy mouth, from which would drip liquid bromides and taurine fecal matter. Hordes of hooting crypto-humanoids in their mobility scooters would gather under this toxic shower to pray for equality and more all-you-can-eat buffets.

Just wait until next year!

26 Aug 2015

Meanwhile, In the Democrat Nomination Contest…

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HillaryRobsBank

26 Aug 2015

Deceased Whale With Grizzlies

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DeadWhaleGrizzlies

25 Aug 2015

The Karate Kid: Daniel LaRusso is the REAL Bully

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25 Aug 2015

Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 5175

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TheGrandmasterChime

Built to celebrate the company’s 175th anniversary, the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 5175 is so complicated that it is absolutely fascinating to watch it being designed and built.

Link to the 10:37 video is here.

Patek Philippe page

It is also so expensive ($2.6 million) that buying one would give Donald Trump pause.

I thought the end result is all-in-all a bit too much, but I still loved watching the video.

The video link came to me in an email from a fly rod building list.

25 Aug 2015

Lion Kills Guide in Same Zimbabwe Park

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ChargingLion

Remember all the talk about the “cowardly dentist” who killed a lion outside Hwange Park in Zimbabwe? Well, another lion just killed a professional hunter guiding a group of tourists armed with cameras in the same park. Apparently the guide, Quinn Swales, stepped between the charging lion and his tourists and did his best to stop the charge with his heavy rifle. He failed and the lion got him.

The Guardian reports:

A safari guide has been mauled to death by a lion in the same Zimbabwean national park where Cecil the lion was killed by hunters.

Quinn Swales was taking guests on a photographic walking safari in Hwange national park at dawn on Monday when he was charged by the male, according to the Camp Hwange lodge. The 40-year-old Zimbabwean saved his guests but died of his injuries.

Hwange was home to Cecil the lion before he was killed last month… by American dentist Walter Palmer, triggering a global wave of revulsion and anger.

Camp Hwange announced on its Facebook page: “It is with deep regret and great sadness that we are able to confirm the death of Quinn Swales, a Camp Hwange professional guide, who was fatally mauled by a male lion whilst out on a walking safari this morning.

“We can confirm that Quinn did everything he could to successfully protect his guests and ensure their safety, and that no guests were injured in the incident.”

The safari industry paid tribute to Swales. Media reports quoted Shelley Cox, of African Bush Camps, as saying: “Quinn’s actions in successfully protecting the lives of his guests is heroic and reminiscent of his outstanding guiding skills, experience and training. It is certainly a tragedy and a loss to the guiding fraternity and tourism industry.”

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The Telegraph has a few more detail, messes up a rifle caliber designation, and gives Simba a pet name.

Mr Swales was employed by Camp Hwange, a four-year-old photographic safari company, and was registered with Zimbabwe’s Professional Hunters and Guides Association.

Other guides in the area said Mr Swales would have been carrying a hunting rifle of at least .375 mm [sic, not metric -JDZ] to protect his clients and himself. …

“I understand the animal went for his shoulder and probably hit the jugular. The clients – I think they were from New Zealand – radioed the alarm back from the vehicle which was nearby. As far as I know they were all walking at the time of the attack.”

He said a helicopter was sent immediately after the distress call came in, but nothing could be done. “It picked up his body. This is a highly professional company. Brilliant operation. We will find out more accurate details in the next day or two.”

A source from the wildlife industry told the Telegraph he believed that the lion was a male named Naka.

“This lion had by all accounts been behaving aggressively for some time. It was even attacking safari vehicles,” said another tour operator from Hwange. “As far as we know he bled to death.”

A safari guide who helped to train the victim described him as “a very good guy” who started working for Camp Hwange early this year.

“Quinn was obviously going to be a great guide,” he said. “I have seen him in the bush and he was very good.”

A professional hunter who worked in the area said the guide’s gun would also be checked to see if he managed to fire it. “We don’t yet know if he managed to fire a shot at the lion, or whether he was overwhelmed before he could shoot,” he said. “This is terrible, and it is quite a rare event.”

Another Hwange National Park safari operator said he would not do game walks because he was “terrified of lions”. “But tourists want to walk with wildlife,” he added.

When stopping the charge goes right.

25 Aug 2015

A Great Cover for a War Game

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WoodvillePoniatowskisLastCh
Richard Canton Woodville Jr., Poniatowski’s Last Charge at Leipzig, 1912, Collection Henry Graves & Co.

As a reward for his past military services, on October 16, during the Battle of Leipzig, Jozef Poniatowski was made a Marshal of France and entrusted with the duty of covering the French Army’s retreat. He defended Leipzig, losing half his corps in the attempt, finally falling back slowly upon a bridge over the Weisse Elster River, near Leipzig. In the general confusion, the French blew up the bridge before he could reach it. Poniatowski tried to escape by swimming but, covered with wounds, drowned in the river, 18 October 1813.

24 Aug 2015

Freshman Summer Reading, Then and Now

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FunHome1
A scene from “Fun Home”.

When you get admitted to an elite university, you receive “the freshman packet,” a large envelope containing a guide to the campus, a course catalog, various brochures inviting you to join organizations or buy things… and a suggested reading list for the summer. At some point, after you arrive on campus in the Fall, there is going to be a Freshman introductory meeting at which the suggested book(s) are going to be discussed. In other words, you will be tested on the reading(s).

In my day, at Yale, the suggested book was Jacques Monod’s “Chance and Necessity“.

I was, I fear, naive as an incoming freshman. I read it as a rather turgid, Continental recounting of the Miller-Urey Experiment, involving the creation of amino acids (the building blocks of life) by passing electrical charges through a mixture of methane, ammonia, water, and hydrogen gases in a closed container. In reality, “Chance and Necessity” was an attempt to dispel my (non-existent at that point) religious faith in order to replace it with the proper sort of faith in materialism and scientism which a good member of the establishment elite ought to have.

An Amazon reviewer summarizes it, thusly:

Jacques Monod, the Nobel Prize winning biochemist, allies himself, in the title of this admirable treatise, to the atomist Democritus, who held that the whole universe is but the fruit of two qualities, chance and necessity. Interpreting the laws of natural selection along purely naturalistic lines, he succeeds in presenting a powerful case that takes into account the ethical, political and philosophical undercurrents of the synthesis in modern biology. Above all, he stresses that science must commit itself to the postulate of objectivity by casting aside delusive ideological and moral props, even though he enjoins, at the same time, that the postulate of objectivity itself is a moral injunction. He launches a bitter polemic against metaphysical and scientific vitalisms, dismissing them as obscurantist. … He refutes teleological explanations of nature as being contrary to the postulate of objectivity, drawing attention to self-constructing proteins as teleonomic agents, followed by an explanation of the role of nucleic acids, reproduction and invariance. This leads him to dismiss Judaeo-Christian religiosity, which accords man a significant role as being created in God’s image, as a nauseating and false pietism and he even goes so far as to recommend eugenic reform. Writing with great clarity and flair, and often in a forceful and idiosyncratic idiom, he puts forward a compelling case.

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Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. I was reading today that incoming freshmen at Duke also have summertime suggested readings, and that certain unenlightened members of the Duke Class of 2019 have had the temerity to resist reading this year’s choice, a graphic novel, titled “Fun Home“.

Duke Chronicle:

Several incoming freshmen decided not to read “Fun Home” because its sexual images and themes conflicted with their personal and religious beliefs. Freshman Brian Grasso posted in the Class of 2019 Facebook page July 26 that he would not read the book “because of the graphic visual depictions of sexuality,” igniting conversation among students. The graphic novel, written by Alison Bechdel, chronicles her relationship with her father and her issues with sexual identity.

“I feel as if I would have to compromise my personal Christian moral beliefs to read it,” Grasso wrote in the post.

Many first-year students responded to the post, expressing their thoughts on Grasso’s discomfort with the novel. Some defended the book’s images as having literary value and said that the book could broaden students’ viewpoints.

“Reading the book will allow you to open your mind to a new perspective and examine a way of life and thinking with which you are unfamiliar,” wrote freshman Marivi Howell-Arza.

However, several freshmen agreed with Grasso that the novel’s images conflicted with their beliefs. Freshman Bianca D’Souza said that while the novel discussed important topics, she did not find the sexual interactions appropriate and could not bring herself to view the images depicting nudity.

Freshman Jeffrey Wubbenhorst based his decision not to read the book on its graphic novel format.

“The nature of ‘Fun Home’ means that content that I might have consented to read in print now violates my conscience due to its pornographic nature,” he wrote in an email.

Grasso said that many students privately messaged him thanking him for the post and agreeing with his viewpoint. He explained that he knew the post would be controversial but wanted to make sure students with similar Christian beliefs did not feel alone, adding that he also heard from several students with non-Christian backgrounds who chose not to read the book for moral reasons.

“There is so much pressure on Duke students, and they want so badly to fit in,” he said. “But at the end of the day, we don’t have to read the book.”

The summer reading book selection committee expected that the novel would be contentious among its readers, said senior Sherry Zhang, a member of the committee and co-chair of the First-Year Advisory Counselor Board. The debate generated by Grasso’s post was “very respectful and considerate,” Zhang said.

Publishers Weekly described “Fun Home”:

This autobiography by the author of the long-running [comic] strip, Dykes to Watch Out For, deals with her childhood with a closeted gay father, who was an English teacher and proprietor of the local funeral parlor (the former allowed him access to teen boys). Fun Home refers both to the funeral parlor, where he put makeup on the corpses and arranged the flowers, and the family’s meticulously restored gothic revival house, filled with gilt and lace, where he liked to imagine himself a 19th-century aristocrat. … Bechdel’s talent for intimacy and banter gains gravitas when used to describe a family in which a man’s secrets make his wife a tired husk and overshadow his daughter’s burgeoning womanhood and homosexuality. His court trial over his dealings with a young boy pushes aside the importance of her early teen years. Her coming out is pushed aside by his death, probably a suicide.

In 1966, those-who-know-better were trying to get rid of your religious superstitions and make you into a good secular materialist believer in progressive scientism and the rule of experts. Today, the goal is to get rid of that old-fashioned religion-based morality and to make you into a politically correct and appropriately sensitive and respectful admirer and supporter of the LBGTQ movement, if not LBGTQ yourself.

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