Quotulatiousness

July 8, 2017

Renaming Ryerson

Filed under: Cancon, Education, History, Politics, Religion — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

There’s apparently a demand from the usual suspects to change the name of Ryerson University in Toronto, because the man the university is named after was a key figure in the establishment of the hated aboriginal residential school system. Colby Cosh discusses the man, his history, and the issue:

The name of “Ryerson University” self-evidently exists to honour Egerton Ryerson, rather than merely to perpetuate the words or the sound of his name as a semantic object. Ontario, as a society, is free to reconsider this decision and, in a sense, put Ryerson on trial.

Which he might, after all, win. Egerton Ryerson was alive from 1803 to 1882; his place in the history of residential schools is based on activity he engaged in between 1837, when he was involved with Indian education as a member of the missionary Aborigines Protection Society, and 1847, when he wrote a report outlining future principles for aboriginal “industrial education.” For most of his life these ideas were never implemented. In the 1880s, by which time Ryerson was recognized as a Canadian founder, he had become more influential — and so the younger Ryerson was a central posthumous author of a system he never lived to see.

As an influence, nearly anyone would now judge him very harmful. He thought it was important that education should be provided to Indian children through boarding schools, and by the churches, with a strong religious element. Like many theorists of the 19th century, he believed in frogmarching aboriginal peoples through an accelerated agricultural-pastoral phase of cultural evolution, as part of their progress toward equality and their emergence from state “tutelage.”

The effects of these principles, once applied, were beyond disastrous. But Ryerson’s advice was not predicated on harming or punishing First Nations. He was opposed in his own time by malign quietists who preferred to plan for Canadian Indians to literally die off in out-of-sight places. He worked with aboriginal colleagues in developing his ideas, spoke Ojibwe, and modelled his vision of Indian education on outstanding European schools for the (European) poor.

This would be a strange approach if his goal had been genocide. Which is not to say that he or anyone else ought to be judged mostly on his intentions.

The Canadian state lies under remarkably heavy obligations to Egerton Ryerson for both its development and its current form. He is an important reason that religious tests for political participation never gained a foothold in our country. He is the father of secular public schooling here, though he would hate to hear that. As a bureaucrat, he stood for a non-partisan public service when that was a weird new idea, and did as much as anybody to show it could work.

Gerry Bowler discusses similar cases down to Hector-Louis Langevin:

If you go to the Doge’s Palace in Venice and consider the portraits of the city’s rulers, you will find them all in chronological order until you come to the place where you would expect to see that of Marino Faliero, elected in 1354. Instead of his likeness, you will behold only a black pall and the words “Hic est locus Marini Falethri decapitati pro criminibus” (This is the spot for Marino Faliero, beheaded for his crimes).

In the 20th century, Kremlinologists had a hard time keeping up with the Soviet personalities who achieved high office but somehow earned the wrath of Josef Stalin. One day, they’re a member of the Politburo, a famous poet or a marshal of the Red Army; the next day, they’re given a bullet in the back of the head and their names are erased from Communist Party publications, with photographs altered to show that they had never – despite what witnesses might remember – reviewed the troops in Red Square, been acclaimed a Hero of Socialist Labour or stood beside Vladimir Lenin during the revolution.

Unfortunately, Canadians are not above this sort of thing. Now is the turn for Hector-Louis Langevin. For the crime of being associated with the Indian residential school system, his name is to be stripped from one of the buildings on Parliament Hill. Although he was a Father of Confederation, an architect of a nation spanning half a continent, the political class of today deems him unworthy of being remembered. Never mind that his ideas were utterly respectable in his day and shared by those who are, for the moment at least, still allowed to be memorialized – Sir John A. Macdonald, Archbishop Alexandre-Antonin Taché or Sara Riel, for example – they are now considered shameful.

The irony is that this brouhaha will not obliterate Langevin from public memory; thousands now know more about his life and works than they did a month ago.

But oblivion is not enough for today’s signallers of their virtue. They want to go beyond Orwell’s novel 1984, past amnesia into disgrace. They want to dishonour Langevin and those who were of his opinion – and by extension, anyone today who opposes current aboriginal policies.

As Orwell told us: “You will be annihilated in the past as well as in the future. You will never have existed.”

So long, Langevin!

The past was not just like today in fancy dress

Filed under: Books, History — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

My QotD entry yesterday (The Marxist influence on modern “Regency” romances) gets an interesting echo in this article by Megan McArdle:

Open a historical novel, and you’ll find characters who would, sexually speaking, not have much difficulty fitting into the 21st century dating scene. Authors usually pay lip service to the era’s taboos, and sometimes use them as plot devices. But even there, the assumption is that what is being suppressed, or happening on the sly, is pretty much the same as what 21st century Americans enjoy, or wish they were enjoying. Humans have been having sex for millions of years. How different could it have been?

Quite, argues sociologist Gabriel Rossman. (The link is frank, but not prurient.) Ask an anthropologist, or a classicist, just how different it can be. Even things that look superficially similar — Greek tolerance toward homosexuality, for example — turn out upon closer examination to have been quite different. It wasn’t what we call “homosexuality”; neither the social nor the physical activity resemble a modern gay couple all that closely.

Since this is a family column, I will leave the frank discussion to Professor Rossman. But a couple of less … er … colorful examples may suffice to illustrate just how culturally and time specific sex actually is.

Take kissing. Pretty basic, yes? We might imagine that the cultural rules for when people kiss would vary, as indeed they do in our own culture, where very orthodox religious groups proscribe it before marriage, and libertines kiss strangers on national television. But it’s hard to imagine that the activity itself really varies all that much.

Except it does. For starters, a whole lot of cultures don’t kiss, at least romantically. It isn’t necessarily proscribed; they just don’t do it. The idea that kissing is a foundation for further sexual activity is to us so natural that it rarely occurs to any of us to question it, and yet, this is apparently a learned behavior, not an instinctive one, because in large cultural areas it is seen as weird and doesn’t happen.

(And so it is, if you think about it. If you enjoy kissing, I recommend not thinking about it very hard.)

Is sex the same, without the kiss? In some aspects, obviously. And yet try to imagine the West’s romantic literature, its poetry, its art and film, without the kiss. The result feels different not just in degree, but in kind.

Context the Media lacks: Austrian Troops to Italian Border

Filed under: Europe, Military, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Published on 6 Jul 2017

This is a short commentary on a current situation/news that is related to Austrian Military History. On the 4th of July 2017, the Austrian government announced that it will ready troops to be sent to the Austro-Italian border in order to secure it, due to the large amount of migrants crossing into Austria. The Italian government wasn’t particularly pleased about this action. Additionally, at least the German media seems to be a bit upset as well.

Military History Visualized provides a series of short narrative and visual presentations like documentaries based on academic literature or sometimes primary sources. Videos are intended as introduction to military history, but also contain a lot of details for history buffs. Since the aim is to keep the episodes short and comprehensive some details are often cut.

For more information, here is a Daily Mail article discussing the situation.

Both Italy and Austria are members of the European Union’s Schengen open-border zone, but free movement has been jeopardised by the reimposition of controls at many crossings across the bloc since the surge in migrants seen in 2015 and 2016.

There was no immediate comment from Italy or EU officials, but Doskozil’s spokesman said there was no concrete timetable for the new controls.

The spokesman added: ‘We’ll see how the situation in Italy is becoming more acute and we have to be prepared to avoid a situation comparable to summer 2015.’

Italy has taken in more than 80,000 refugees and migrants so far this year, most of whom arrived by boat from Africa, making Italy the main point of entry to Europe.

Back in April, Defense Minister Hans Peter Doskozil visited the production plants of the armoured vehicles – Pandur crew transport tanks – that were sent to the border.

The tanks, with a production cost of €105million, were built at General Dynamics Land Systems-Steyr GmbH in Vienna-Simmering for the Austrian Armed Forces.

Demonizing the Koch brothers

Filed under: Business, Liberty, Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Julian Adorney on the amazing contrast between the way the Koch brothers actually spend their money and the demonic sins they are regularly accused of by progressives:

The Koch Brothers recently announced a $21 million anti-poverty program in Dallas, designed to reduce gang violence and encourage young entrepreneurs. But their efforts to end poverty are unlikely to earn credit from progressives, who frequently demonize the family. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid routinely blasts them for, “crooked works” and “nefarious actions”; and when Charles and David Koch donated $100 million to New York-Presbyterian Hospital, leftists demanded (unsuccessfully) that the hospital return the gift.

Why are the Kochs so often criticized by the left, while far less progressive individuals are given a free pass?

Unlikely Alliances

The Koch brothers have spent at least $1.5 billion working to advance traditionally progressive causes. They have funded public television, museums, and hospitals. They contributed $25 million to the United Negro College Fund, the nation’s largest minority education group. The donation offers scholarships and support for historically black universities.

Politically, the Kochs have pushed for criminal justice reform. The brothers worked with Van Jones on his Cut50 project, which aims to cut America’s incarcerated population in half over the next ten years. The Kochs have partnered with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for American Progress to reduce prison populations and enact more humane criminal sentencing. And in 2011, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers gave Charles Koch its annual Defender of Justice award.

But criminal justice reform is far from the only progressive cause the Kochs have embraced. They publicly oppose corporate tax breaks and subsidies — including the ethanol subsidies that boost their bottom line.

In spite of this, many progressives disdain the Kochs as far-right extremists. On his Senate website, Bernie Sanders claims that the goal of these, “right wing billionaires” is to, “repeal every major piece of legislation … that has protected the middle class, the elderly, the children, the sick, and the most vulnerable in this country.” The Koch’s high-profile efforts to help the most vulnerable population in the nation, those victimized by the criminal justice system, receives no mention.

[…]

Progressives vilify the Kochs for the same reason that many venerate FDR: politics encourages black and white formulations. Prominent Democrats lambast the Kochs as ill-intentioned billionaires, and the specter of the Kochs has played heavily in Democratic fundraising attempts. Fear motivates, and boogeymen inspire fiercer opposition than the complicated reality of the Koch brothers.

Similarly, Democrats may turn a blind eye to FDR’s anti-progressive actions because they don’t wish to tarnish one of their own. FDR’s economic policies owe much to fascism: Roosevelt admitted that he was, “deeply impressed by what [Mussolini] has accomplished.” Roosevelt’s National Recovery Administration stated it more directly: “The Fascist Principles are very similar to those we have been evolving here in America.”

This similarity is easy to brush off if FDR is perceived as a leftists titan, because in the public eye progressives and fascists are diametrically opposed. It is harder to ignore when one accepts that FDR’s record on human rights was only a few degrees better than Mussolini’s.

Four Fun Facts about the Oerlikon 20mm Antiaircraft Cannon!

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

Published on 13 Apr 2017

The 20mm Oerlikon automatic cannon was a mainstay of United States naval air defense during World War 2, and today we will look at a few of the characteristics and questions that apply to this sort of automatic cannon but not to typical small arms. Like, for instance, how do you cock a gun that has a 400 pound recoil spring? Or, what happens if you fire a high explosive shell into your muzzle cover?

http://www.patreon.com/ForgottenWeapons

QotD: Recreational boating

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

The Marine Forecast is always telling you obvious things, such as which way the wind is blowing, which you can figure out for yourself just by watching the motion of your spiderwebs. They never tell you about the serious boating hazards, which are located — write down this Boating Safety Tip — UNDER THE WATER. It turns out that although the water is basically flat on top, underneath there are large hostile objects such as reefs and shoals (or “forecastles”) that have been carelessly strewn around, often smack dab in the path of recreational boaters.

I discovered this shocking fact recently when some friends visited us in Miami, and in a foolish effort to trick them into thinking that we sometimes go out on our boat, we actually went out on our boat. It was a good day for boating, with the barometer gusting at about 47 liters of mercury, and we had no problems until I decided to make the boat go forward. For some reason, motorboats are designed to go at only two speeds: “Virtually Stopped” and “Airborne.” We were traveling along at Virtually Stopped, which seemed inadequate — barnacles were passing us — so I inched the throttle forward just a teensy bit and WHOOOOMM suddenly we were passengers on the Space Shuttle Buster. Every few feet Buster would launch himself completely out of the water and attain such an altitude that at any moment you expected flight attendants to appear with the beverage cart, and then WHAM Buster would crash down onto a particularly hard patch of water, causing our food and possessions and spiders to bounce overboard, forming a convenient trail for the sharks to follow. (“Look!” the sharks were saying. “A set of dentures! It won’t be long now!”)

In this relaxing and recreational manner we lurched toward downtown Miami, with me shouting out the various Points of Interest. “I THINK THAT’S A DRUG DEALER!” I would shout. Or: “THERE GOES ANOTHER POSSIBLE DRUG DEALER!” I was gesturing toward these long, sleek motorboats with about 14 engines apiece that you see roaring around the Miami waters driven by men with no apparent occupation other than polishing their neck jewelry.

So it was a pleasant tropical scene, with the wind blowing and the sea foaming and the sun glinting off the narcotics traffickers. As the captain, I was feeling that pleasant sense of well-being that comes from being in total command and not realizing that you are heading directly toward a large underwater pile of sand. I would say we hit it at about 630 knots, so that when Buster skidded to a cartoon-style stop, we were in about 6 inches of water, a depth that the U.S. Coast Guard recommends for craft classified as “Popsicle sticks or smaller.” This meant that, to push Buster off the sand, my friend John and I had to go INTO THE WATER, which lapped threateningly around our lower shins. Probably the only thing that saved our lives was that the dreaded Man-Eating But Really Flat Shark was not around.

Dave Barry, “Look Out! Dave’s At The Helm Of Buster Boat”, Orlando Sentinel, 1991-05-30.

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