Quotulatiousness

January 17, 2018

QotD: The true purpose of public education

Filed under: Education, Quotations — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

The most erroneous assumption is to the effect that the aim of public education is to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence, and so make them fit to discharge the duties of citizenship in an enlightened and independent manner. Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States, whatever the pretensions of politicians, pedagogues and other such mountebanks, and that is its aim everywhere else

H.L Mencken, The American Mercury, 1924-02.

January 16, 2018

Life On The Isonzo Front I THE GREAT WAR On The Road

Filed under: Europe, History, Military, WW1 — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

The Great War
Published on 15 Jan 2018

Visit the Kobarid Museum: https://www.kobariski-muzej.si/eng/

Indy gets a tour through the impressive Kobarid Museum dedicated to the Isonzo Front and to the soldiers that experienced the war in the region.

Vikings-Saints Stock Market Report by Ted Glover

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Due to the later finish in Sunday’s Vikings-Saints divisional round game, I didn’t get to include the Daily Norseman‘s Ted Glover assessing the game in his patented Stock Market Report format. Belatedly, here’s the Buy/Sell section for this game:

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Day 1 Cuban Missile Crisis – Shall we destroy Cuba, Mr. President?

Filed under: Americas, History, Military, Russia — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

TimeGhost
Published on 26 Oct 2017

On 16 October 1962. the Cuban Missile Crisis begins. President Kennedy assembles his advisors in EXCOMM to find an adequate response to the threat posed by Soviet nuclear missiles on Cuba.

On October 14 1962, Air Force pilot Richard Heyer flies over the island of Cuba in a U2 spy plane. The photos he brings back show three installations of Soviet nuclear Medium Range Ballistic Missile launch sites, with SS-4 and SS-5 missiles waiting to be made deployable. Russia now has nuclear first strike capacity and could launch an attack on the US mainland just as quickly as the Americans could on Russia from Turkey.

Spartacus Olsson
Camera by: Jonas Klein
Edited by: Spartacus Olsson, Jonas Klein

A TimeGhost chronological documentary produced by OnLion Entertainment GmbH

Yet another money squeeze for Britain’s military

Filed under: Britain, Government, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

At the Thin Pinstriped Line, Sir Humphrey outlines the difficult financial position the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) finds itself in and the very limited options available for the decision makers to choose among:

The Times has broken details of the planned cuts put forward by the MOD to meet the likely scale of budget cuts needed under the ongoing national Security Review being conducted in the Cabinet Office. The planned cuts as leaked to the Times highlight the sheer scale of the challenge facing the MOD at the moment, and seem to resort to many of the ‘greatest hits’ intended to arouse strong opposition, such as ‘merging the Parachute Regiment and Royal Marines’ option.

It is indicated that the Prime Minister has opposed the measures put forward, and that this in turn will lead to a full blown Strategic Defence and Security Review [SDSR], which will look again at force structures and outputs, and hopefully deliver a more balanced force in due course. The challenge is doing this against a budget which reportedly is £20bn in debt, with no meaningful way to find savings without serious pain.

[…]

The difficulty then for Defence is conducting an SDSR in a world where politicians seem unsure as to what their ambition is for the UK in the next 5-10 years, and whether they want to find the money to do this or not. There is probably strong political support for the idea of maritime and air power, both of which can easily be deployed (and recovered) discretely and with no long-term entanglements. It is reasonable to assume that the RN and RAF have a compelling case that they should receive the lions share of investment in the review.

By contrast the Army will find itself facing a difficult time – it is telling that all three options presented in the Times focused on a major loss of Army manpower, and capability reduction. What is also likely is the wider impact of further delays in procurement and reduction of exercises, training and other tools essential to keeping the Army credible. As its vehicle fleet ages, and with almost all of its primary weapon systems verging on becoming near obsolete, politicians face a difficult choice – do they continue to direct funding into high end high capability ground equipment, or do they take the ‘UOR [Urgent Operational Requirement] it on the day’ option of reducing the size of the Army and hope that come the next long-term ground operation, there is enough time to sort a round of UOR purchases out to equip people to the right standard.

At its heart though is the difficulty that the UK seems pathologically incapable of taking and sticking to credible long-term plans on defence and seeing them through to fruition. Strategic now seems to mean ‘two-year horizon’ at best, and there is a real sense that for all the glossy PowerPoint slides and publications, it is a department in a perpetual state of crisis as it struggles to afford the equipment needed to do the tasks asked of it.

This cycle of unaffordability is not new, in fact it seems never ending. There is an occasional period of a few years when things seem a bit better, but then another thing goes wrong and the Department is back to square one. Part of this problem lies in an eternally optimistic set of planning assumptions, coupled with such regular turn over of staff that no one ever has to see through the impact of their work.

The other problem is that rather than bite the bullet, take some incredibly tough decisions and wholesale withdrawal from commitments and capability, the Department lurches on, occasionally being bailed out by some deal that finds a few extra quid to just about see it through. What isn’t happening is systematic and thorough reforms to really grip and address the problems that the Department has got to stop them cropping up time and time again.

At some point the UK must have a serious policy discussion about what it really wants from its defence and national security capability. Does it want to seriously fund it, at a time of economic challenge and government austerity, or does it want to scale back ambition in order to find funding for other national projects? This conversation will not happen though in any meaningful sense, and instead the debate will be shallow, superficial and focus on numbers not outputs and leaked papers warning of an inability to defend the UK if something is cut.

It is all very well having an SDSR again (the third in 8 years), but unless there is a real change in behaviours, there will simply be another one in a couple of years’ time when the new plan proves unaffordable and unworkable. We cannot go on like this indefinitely.

PIAT: Britain’s Answer to the Anti-Tank Rifle Problem

Filed under: Britain, History, Military, Technology, WW2 — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Forgotten Weapons
Published on 25 Nov 2017

The British began World War Two with the Boys antitank rifle, but like all antitank rifles it rather quickly became obsolete. The replacement for it was adopted in 1942 as the PIAT – Projector, Infantry, Anti-Tank. This was a unique sort of weapon which fired a 3 pound (~1.35kg) hollow charge projectile using a combination of a massive spring and a firing charge much like a rifle grenade blank cartridge – a spigot mortar, really. The large (3.25″, 83mm) projectile was able to defeat almost any tank that would be developed during the war, as it could burn through 3-4 inches of hardened armor. However, it had a terrifyingly short effective range – 110 yards on paper and more like 50 yards in practice.

The PIAT would recock itself upon firing, but the initial cocking was something like a crossbow, requiring the shooter to brace their feet on the buttplate and pull the body of the weapon upwards, compressing the 200 pound (90kg) mainspring. When fired, the weapon has a pretty harsh recoil, although it did not have any flash or backblast like the American Bazooka did. By the end of the war more 115,000 PIATs had been made, and they would serve the British military into the 1950s, when they were replaced with more traditional rocket launchers.

QotD: Intersectionality

Filed under: Education, Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

The term and concept were presented in a 1989 essay by Kimberlé Crenshaw, a law professor at UCLA, who made the very reasonable point that a black woman’s experience in America is not captured by the summation of the black experience and the female experience. She analyzed a legal case in which black women were victims of discrimination at General Motors, even when the company could show that it hired plenty of blacks (in factory jobs dominated by men), and it hired plenty of women (in clerical jobs dominated by whites). So even though GM was found not guilty of discriminating against blacks or women, it ended up hiring hardly any black women. This is an excellent argument. What academic could oppose the claim that when analyzing a complex system, we must look at interaction effects, not just main effects?

But what happens when young people study intersectionality? In some majors, it’s woven into many courses. Students memorize diagrams showing matrices of privilege and oppression. It’s not just white privilege causing black oppression, and male privilege causing female oppression; its heterosexual vs. LGBTQ, able-bodied vs. disabled; young vs. old, attractive vs. unattractive, even fertile vs. infertile. Anything that a group has that is good or valued is seen as a kind of privilege, which causes a kind of oppression in those who don’t have it. A funny thing happens when you take young human beings, whose minds evolved for tribal warfare and us/them thinking, and you fill those minds full of binary dimensions. You tell them that one side of each binary is good and the other is bad. You turn on their ancient tribal circuits, preparing them for battle. Many students find it thrilling; it floods them with a sense of meaning and purpose.

And here’s the strategically brilliant move made by intersectionality: all of the binary dimensions of oppression are said to be interlocking and overlapping. America is said to be one giant matrix of oppression, and its victims cannot fight their battles separately. They must all come together to fight their common enemy, the group that sits at the top of the pyramid of oppression: the straight, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied Christian or Jewish or possibly atheist male. This is why a perceived slight against one victim group calls forth protest from all victim groups. This is why so many campus groups now align against Israel. Intersectionality is like NATO for social-justice activists.

This means that on any campus where intersectionality thrives, conflict will be eternal, because no campus can eliminate all offense, all microaggressions, and all misunderstandings. This is why the use of shout-downs, intimidation, and even violence in response to words and ideas is most common at our most progressive universities, in the most progressive regions of the country. It’s schools such as Yale, Brown, and Middlebury in New England, and U.C. Berkeley, Evergreen, and Reed on the West Coast. Are those the places where oppression is worst, or are they the places where this new way of thinking is most widespread?

Jonathan Haidt, “The Age of Outrage: What the current political climate is doing to our country and our universities”, City Journal, 2017-12-17.

January 15, 2018

Khosrau Anushirawan: Trolling Justinian – Extra History – #4

Filed under: History, Middle East — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

Extra Credits
Published on 13 Jan 2018

Iran and Rome had agreed to an Eternal Peace, but tensions between them proved too great and Khosrau decided to invade while Justinian’s guard was down. His army swept into Rome practically unopposed, and he made a mockery of Justinian at every opportunity while treating himself to a grand old time pillaging and parading across the Roman border.

Vikings beat New Orleans Saints 29-24 in improbable finish to advance to NFC Championship game

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

The first half played out pretty much exactly as Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer game-planned it, allowing the New Orleans Saints no chance to score and reaching halftime with a 17-point lead. The second half didn’t go as anybody game-planned it, right down to the so-improbable-that-no-movie-director-would-ever-script-it last-second winning touchdown to clinch the game for Minnesota:

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Day 0 Cuban Missile Crisis – Atomic Tests and Missiles Discovered

Filed under: Americas, History, Military, Russia, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

TimeGhost
Published on 24 Oct 2017

In the summer of 1962, a war of words between the United States and the Soviet Union and a number of nuclear tests on both sides increased tensions that had been mounting for years. Both sides were living under increasing panic that the other would ‘press the button’ and launch a preemptive nuclear strike, possibly destroying the world in the process. When on October 14 1962 the US discovered missiles on Cuba, that fear increased and almost came true.

Simulate a nuclear bomb anywhere: http://nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap/

Support us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/TimeGhostHistory

Hosted by: Indy Neidell
Written by: Spartacus Olsson
Produced and Directed by: Astrid Deinhard
Executive Producers: Bodo Rittenauer, Astrid Deinhard, Indy Neidell, Spartacus Olsson
Camera by: Jonas Klein
Edited by: Jonas Klein, Spartacus Olsson

A TimeGhost chronological documentary produced by OnLion Entertainment GmbH

The postwar “international order”

Filed under: Britain, Economics, History, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Niall Ferguson on the notion of a post-1945 international liberal order:

The phrase international order reminds me of the phrase Western civilization. As Indian independence icon Mahatma Gandhi wittily replied when asked about Western civilization, “It would be a good idea.” The notion that international order exists or has ever existed seems highly questionable to me. The notion of a liberal international order is even more questionable because it is neither liberal, nor international, nor very orderly.

It is often claimed by political scientists that the liberal international order came into existence in 1945. The argument goes that American and British statesmen, having learned from the terrible mistakes of the 1930s and 1940s, decided to make the world anew by creating a series of remarkable international institutions: the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and later the World Bank. According to this narrative, Donald Trump’s election as US president in 2016 was a wrecking ball directed at the liberal international order created by the generation of 1945.

Yet this is a fairy tale. For one thing, there was nothing very liberal about the economic order that was established in 1945. It was devised by people – notably John Maynard Keynes – who had repudiated classical liberal economics and believed that international trade should be limited and capital movements controlled.

It was also not a truly international order. After 1945, it very quickly became a bipolar order that divided the world. There was nothing international about the Cold War. It was a battle between two empires and two ideologies, and the rest of the world’s nations had to choose sides.

In short, the notion of a liberal international order, born in 1945, is a historical fantasy. The reality is that it was only in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed and the Cold War ended that it was possible to create a liberal international order. The era of truly free trade, truly free capital flows and large-scale migration across borders did not begin until the 1990s.

Top Gear Discusses Emergency Sirens

Filed under: Britain, Humour — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Jacob Epstein
Published on 12 Jun 2014

Series 18, Episode 7

QotD: Adultery

Filed under: Humour, Quotations — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

But my dear, it’s only philandering when men do it. When women do it, it’s philanthropy.

Lucy Ellmann, “What Made Helen Run? The saucy life and times of the Cosmo queen, more or less in her own voice”, Bookforum, 2016-06.

January 14, 2018

Prologue 2 Cuban Missile Crisis – The Cold War Heats Up

Filed under: Americas, History, Military, Russia, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

TimeGhost
Published on 19 Oct 2017

For 13 days in October 1962 the world came closer to nuclear holocaust than ever before, but the Cuban Missile Crisis didn’t start in Cuba – it had its roots in Berlin, Italy and Turkey, the domestic political situation in the US facing the newly elected President John F Kennedy, and in the USSR, where Premier Nikita Khrushchev had taken leadership of the Soviet through a harsh four year power struggle after Stalin’s death in 1953.

Hosted by: Indy Neidell
Written by: Spartacus Olsson
Produced and Directed by: Astrid Deinhard
Executive Producers: Bodo Rittenauer, Astrid Deinhard, Indy Neidell, Spartacus Olsson
Camera and editing by: Jonas Klein

A TimeGhost chronological documentary produced by OnLion Entertainment GmbH

POWs in Japan – Great War Remembrance – Marasesti I OUT OF THE TRENCHES

Filed under: Europe, Germany, History, Japan, Military, WW1 — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

The Great War
Published on 13 Jan 2018

Ask your questions here: http://outofthetrenches.thegreatwar.tv

In today’s episode, Indy answers questions about the state of the prisoner of war camps in Japan, the ways in which WW1 is remembered in Germany and the food shortages in the Ottoman Empire, plus he takes a closer look at the Battle of Marasesti.

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