18 Jan 2020

If Correctly Identified….

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that there was one helluva a black mamba.

The possibilities are pretty limited. It might possibly be really a King Cobra.

18 Jan 2020

The Tale of the Slave

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From Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia:

Consider the following sequence of cases, which we shall call the Tale of the Slave.

HT: William Laffer.

17 Jan 2020

Photographing Left-Behind Pennsylvania

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Niko J. Kallianiotis, “Lights On,” between Shenandoah and Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania (2016).

Niko J. Kallianiotis makes a specialty of photographs capturing the surreal quality of economically-abandoned Pennsylvania small towns. A lot of his work focuses on the Anthracite Coal Region.

15 Jan 2020

Last Night’s Debate

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I was in the “Rather Put My Face in the Blender than Watch This Thing” camp and put on a saved Gordon Ramsay after just a few minutes, but Monica Showalter was clearly made of sterner stuff, and she describes for the rest of us the “best moments” of the the dems’ debate.

Amy Klobuchar pretty well came off as a boob by saying she was all in for Iran negotiations because Iran wasn’t following its agreements made in…negotiations:

Sen. Klobuchar, if you become president, it’s very possible there won’t be an Iran nuclear deal for the United States to rejoin. Given that, how would you prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon?

    KLOBUCHAR: I would start negotiations again. And I won’t take that as a given, given that our European partners are still trying to hold the agreement together. My issue is that, because of the actions of Donald Trump, we are in a situation where they are now starting — Iran is starting to enrich uranium again in violation of the original agreement.

    So what I would do is negotiate. I would bring people together, just as President Obama did years ago, and I think that we can get this done. But you have to have a president that sees this as a number-one goal.

    And in answer to the original question you asked the mayor, I would not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. And then you have to get an agreement in place. I think there are changes you can make to the agreement that are sunset, some changes to the inspections, but overall, that is what we should do.

    And I am the one person on this debate stage, on the first night of the very first debate, when we were asked what we saw as the biggest threat to our world, I said China on the economy, but I said Iran, because of Donald Trump. Because I feared that exactly what happened would happen: enrichment of uranium, escalation of tensions, leaving frayed relations with our allies. We can bring them back, understanding this is a terrorist regime that we cannot allow to have a nuclear weapon.

OK, so let’s get this straight. Iran was violating its treaty it negotiated, so the solution is more negotiations? The mullahs would roll this stupid woman like a Persian carpet if she ever made it into the White House. If Iran’s ignoring the agreements made in past negotiations and getting itself a nuclear weapon instead, why would “bringing people together” make them act any different? They’d negotiate with her, snicker up their sleeves, and go make a bomb. File under woman who has no idea what she’s talking about.

RTWT

15 Jan 2020

Surveillance Video Shows Cat Taking on Three Coyotes

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CNN video.

HT: Karen L. Myers.

15 Jan 2020

Just a Suggestion

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14 Jan 2020

Anamnesis

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View over the Prague downtown Wenceslav Square with the hero’s statue in foreground. A huge crowd was assembling again, Thursday evening, November 23, 1989, for another demonstration for more democracy in Czechoslovakia.

Michael Brendan Dougherty quotes Roger Scruton’s memory of meeting the Czech dissidents with whom he would go on to create an underground university in the 1980s. There he gave lectures on philosophy, history, and literature — meditations on the whole inheritance of Western civilization — that were forbidden by Communist authorities. Scruton would finally be detained by secret police and his name placed on the Index of Undesirable Persons.

From How to Be a Conservative (2014):

In that room was a battered remnant of Prague’s intelligentsia — old professors in their shabby waistcoats; long-haired poets; fresh-faced students who had been denied admission to university for their parents’ political ‘crimes’; priests and religious in plain clothes; novelists and theologians; a would-be rabbi; and even a psychoanalyst. And in all of them I saw the same marks of suffering, tempered by hope; and the same eager desire for the sign that someone cared enough to help them. They all belonged, I discovered, to the same profession: that of stoker. Some stoked boilers in hospitals; others in apartment blocks; one stoked at a railway station, another in a school. Some stoked where there were no boilers to stoke, and these imaginary boilers came to be, for me, a fitting symbol of the communist economy.

This was my first encounter with “dissidents”: the people who, to my later astonishment, would be the first democratically elected leaders of post-communist Czechoslovakia. And I felt towards these people an immediate affinity. Nothing was of such importance for them as the survival of their national culture. Deprived of material and professional advancement, their days were filled with a forced meditation on their country and its past, and on the great Question of Czech History that has preoccupied the Czechs since the movement for national revival in the nineteenth century. They were forbidden to publish; the authorities had concealed their existence from the world, and had resolved to remove their traces from the book of history. Hence the dissidents were acutely conscious of the value of memory. Their lives were an exercise in what Plato called anamnesis: the bringing to consciousness of forgotten things. Something in me responded immediately to this poignant ambition, and I was at once eager to join with them and make their situation known to the world. And I recognized that anamnesis described the meaning of my life too.

14 Jan 2020

The Late Harold Bloom

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Harold Bloom, right, with John Ward of Oxford University Press in New York on April 17, 1970.

The Yale Alumni Magazine, in the latest issue, collects anecdotes about the late Harold Bloom, testifying to both his genius and his eccentricity.

Bloom was wearing a stretched-out orange sweater, and he had begun reading from the moving Conclusion to Walter Pater’s The Renaissance. While continuing to recite (he knew this, like all texts, by heart), Bloom began to remove the sweater. But it got stuck as it passed over his head, so we could hear oracular utterances about life’s irredeemable evanescence continue to come from out of a gyrating mass of wool, until, the garment subdued at last, Bloom pronounced: “That is the most profound thing that was ever written.”

–Richard Brodhead ’68, ’72PhD
Bird White Housum Professor of English at Yale
Dean of Yale College 1993–2004
President of Duke 2004–2017

Harold was as devoted a teacher as I’ve ever known. “I am,” he often said, “a teacher first and last, and they’re going to have to carry me out of the classroom in a coffin.” It came close to that: he taught on Thursday, and died on Monday.

He was hungrier for poetry than anyone I have ever encountered. Once, when my wife and I were over at the house on Linden Street—just after he’d returned from a long stay at rehab following an illness—we were sitting in the living room and talking when Harold’s eyes shifted a little to the right of, and just above, my shoulder while I was midsentence. He’d spotted the mailman coming up the path to the front door, and interrupted me: “Peter, could you get the mail?” as we heard the storm door opening and the bundles hitting the floor. I brought them to him. He began ripping into envelope after envelope with his teeth, clutching his cane, and ignoring us entirely. “Harold, expecting something important?” I asked him. Without looking up, and in total seriousness, he answered: “Maybe someone has sent me a great poem.” Most writers I know run the other way when other people’s poems draw near; there was the great Bloom, at 81 or so, just back from a hospital stay, panting after them like a golden retriever.

–Peter Cole, Senior Lecturer in Judaic Studies and
Comparative Literature

RTWT

13 Jan 2020

Sir Roger Scruton, born February 27 1944, died January 12 2020

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I thought the Telegraph did not really do him justice.

Sir Roger Scruton, who has died aged 75, was a philosopher and academic variously identified as “one of the nearest things Britain has to a public intellectual”, Britain’s favourite “token reactionary” (his own description), and even “the thinking man’s skinhead”.

As one of the most contentious figures in British public life, Scruton operated as an academic, journalist and prolific writer, and a lightning rod for abuse and criticism from the political Left. He was regularly shouted down in universities and prevented from speaking, yet he enjoyed a reputation as a first-class professional philosopher among academics of all political persuasions.

Scruton was a man of parts, some of which seemed irreconcilable: barrister, aesthetician, teacher at Birkbeck College (part of London University with a tradition of a working-class intake), editor of the ultra-Conservative Salisbury Review, and enthusiastic fox hunter. He used to ride to hounds wearing Enoch Powell’s old hunting clothes, although the jacket split the first time he used it.

RTWT

Roger Scruton was a nearly unique personality: academic philosopher, public intellectual, adversarial lightning-rod to establishment culture, aesthetician, and Sportsman!

He wrote gracefully and was horrifyingly prolific. His books discuss, among other subjects, Philosophy, Conservatism, Religion, Architecture, Art, Wine, the Decline of the West, and Fox Hunting. I like Scruton very well, and even I’m not sure how many books he wrote.

He stopped hunting last February at the age of 75. In July:

    Returning to London, I finally get to see the rheumatologist with whom I have booked an appointment. He talks of my lecture on Parsifal, at which he asked that forgotten question. And he delicately suggests, as a matter of some urgency, a CT scan. Alarmed by what he finds, he puts me in the hands of an oncologist who, concluding that otherwise I may be dead from cancer within a week, sets to work on me at once.

The current regime of chemo and so on obviously failed. Molliter ossa cubent! [“May the earth lay lightly on his bones.” — Ovid.]

12 Jan 2020

No Flying Cars! What a Gyp!

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HT: Vanderleun.

12 Jan 2020

Ferdinand Mannlicher

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At Rock Island Auction’s blog, Danielle Hollembaek discusses the firearms designs of Ferdinand Ritter von Mannlicher. He wasn’t John Moses Browning, but he did come up with some cool guns. The Mannlicher-Schonauer, for instance, is one of the all-time classic hunter’s rifles.

It is shocking how some of the most brilliant and creative minds in history can be almost completely forgotten. Ferdinand Mannlicher is one of these men whose innovations and historical contributions have been nearly lost in the depths of history. He was highly influential in the development of semi-automatic weaponry and a key founder of the Steyr-Mannlicher company, which was one of Europe’s leading firearms manufacturers. Unlike many famed firearm designers that improved upon already invented mechanisms, Mannlicher was a pioneer with his own original innovative designs in the late 19th century. His influence would have immediate impact on firearm designers for years to come.

Mannlicher was of Austrian descent and grew up in a military family. An engineer by trade, he had a perpetual interest in weapons development. He studied at the prestigious Vienna University of Technology in the 1860s, and from 1869 to 1887 worked as a railway engineer for two large transport systems in Austria. Mannlicher was a talented engineer, but he developed a passion for firearm innovation at a young age due to the Austro-Prussian War. The Battle of Königgrätz in 1866 sparked his interest since he was an adamant believer that Austria only lost the battle due to slow and inferior weaponry.

Mannlicher loved his country and wanted to aid his homeland in its fight for political freedom. He foresaw the rising tensions between Russia and Austria and had a strong intuition that when confronted, Russia had the manpower and advanced weaponry to overtake Austria. This deeply seated desire to help his country drove his visionary mind toward firearm design.

While still working as an engineer, Mannlicher began to draft designs for bolt action rifles. His first design for a turning-bolt action long gun (Model 1880) was too complex and expensive to succeed despite being a significant upgrade over the single-shot Werndl rifles of the time. Several iterations followed, though each failed due to either primitive metallurgy, inadequate cartridge cases, or a military that was either psychologically or financially unwilling to support the designs that were truly ahead of their time. Unfortunately, this would become a common theme for a man working so far ahead of the curve.

Despite the failures, a few breakthrough improvements led to the next incarnation of the gun. The development of his straight pull, revolving-bolt action rifle in 1884, led to the highly popularized straight pull, wedge-lock Model 1886 Austrian service rifle that the country used for around a decade. The improved version of this rifle, the M1888, was similar, but chambered to compete with new smokeless powder rounds seen elsewhere in Europe. The M1888 and the updated M1888-90 enjoyed great longevity and saw military use in numerous countries as late as 1950. By 1888, Ferdinand Mannlicher committed to firearms full-time and began designing more and more guns. He opened his own manufacturing plant in Steyr, Austria to produce his firearms.

Scarce Steyr Mannlicher Model 1885 Straight Pull Bolt Action Rifle
Mannlicher is most known for his creation of the en bloc clip loading system used in his later bolt action rifle designs. However, Mannlicher only developed the clip in 1885 because his concept of pre-loaded, detachable magazines was not yet an economically nor industrially feasible solution. You read that right, Ferdinand Mannlicher pioneered the concept that is nearly ubiquitous today in military arms of detachable, reusable magazines. When the idea of magazines was kaboshed, in a stroke of brilliance he came up with en bloc clips, an idea much easier for the government to financially swallow. The en bloc clip was the basis for John Pedersen’s and of course the beloved M1 Garand, each which came decades later.

RTWT

I hadn’t thought of it before, but contributing the en-bloc clip to the M1 Garand is, all by itself, a pretty significant achievement. PING!

11 Jan 2020

Yale Admissions Office, Call This Kid!

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Yahoo admires the high school student who discovered a new planet just three days into his NASA internship.

A New York high school student can put “planet discovery” on his resume after finding a new world during his NASA internship.

Wolf Cukier was working at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland last summer when he uncovered TOI 1338 b — a planet orbiting two stars instead of one — while examining information captured by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), according to a release from the space agency.

“I was looking through the data for everything the volunteers had flagged as an eclipsing binary, a system where two stars circle around each other and from our view eclipse each other every orbit,” Cukier, 17, said in a statement. “About three days into my internship, I saw a signal from a system called TOI 1338.”

He continued, “At first I thought it was a stellar eclipse, but the timing was wrong. It turned out to be a planet.”

RTWT

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