Quotulatiousness

August 28, 2017

Vikings edge 49ers 32-31 with last-second two-point conversion

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

For most teams, the third preseason game is a dress rehearsal for the regular season: they play their starters for the first half, getting in some good drives (ideally) and shutting down their opponents’ drives (also ideally). One of the teams playing in Minneapolis last night did both of those things, while the other team signally failed to do either. Unfortunately for the home fans, it was San Francisco’s starters who clearly outplayed the Vikings’ starters on both sides of the ball, and it wasn’t close.

The Vikings’ expensively retooled offensive line did not show well, and the 49er defence made them look almost as bad as last season’s collection of tackling dummies. Sam Bradford was under siege and that forced several check-down passes that failed to move the chains. Top wide receiver Stefon Diggs dropped two passes that would have secured first downs, and Dalvin Cook was not being given a lot of running room between the tackles. A few players did show up to play: Adam Thielen and Laquon Treadwell made some tough catches, but overall the starters made enough mistakes to ensure they were down 14 points at the end of the first half, and the starting defence seemed to be out-of-synch through two quarters as well. Defenders seemed to have a knack for getting in one anothers’ way, which created opportunities for 49er receivers and running backs. At one point two linebackers each ran the wrong way — almost colliding — effectively taking them both out of the play. The defensive backs also showed an inability to track receivers or to tackle them after the ball arrived. Safety Harrison Smith and corner Xavier Rhodes both made blatant mistakes in coverage, allowing key completions to San Francisco.

During the second half, backup quarterback Case Keenum was able to get the offence moving, eventually scoring two touchdowns (one to tight end Kyle Carter and the other to receiver Stacy Coley). Running back Jerick McKinnon helped shift momentum back to the Vikings after a terrible defensive breakdown led to a long San Francisco touchdown by returning the ensuing kickoff for a Vikings touchdown.

Finally, reportedly playing with a rib injury, third-string quarterback Taylor Heinicke put together the final drive of the game, finishing with a short rushing touchdown by Terrell Newby and then sealing the win with a quarterback scramble to score the two-point conversion right at the pylon. He certainly showed grit and determination, although his passes were not as accurate as usual (probably also due to his injury). The NBC announcers were quite impressed with Heinicke’s effort and even if he doesn’t make the Vikings roster, he certainly boosted his chances of making another team’s roster after cut-down.

Sexism in the original Star Trek

Filed under: Media, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Dave Leigh stands up for Gene Roddenberry:

… the most infamous case is in part a running gag throughout the series. It’s dictated in the Guide, runs the length of the series, and culminates in the final episode. And I’m pretty sure that very few people other than Gene Roddenberry himself knew that it was a running gag.

It’s sexism.

First… history. And this part is well-known. When the first pilot (“The Cage”) was delivered, Roddenberry cast his future wife, Majel Barrett, as “Number One”, the coldly logical second-in-command of the Enterprise. When the studio rejected that pilot and commissioned a second one, they made a few demands. They wanted to “get rid of the guy with the ears” (as Roddenberry told it). They also wanted to axe Number One, because they claimed that their test audiences didn’t like a woman as executive officer. For decades, Roddenberry told the joke that he kept the alien and married the woman because the other way ’round wouldn’t be legal. He also transferred Number One’s coldly logical nature to Mister Spock.

In the years that followed, many fans and critics completely forgot this story when examining the rest of the series. For instance, there’s the fact that the captain’s yeoman is always a pretty female. This is by decree. In fact, the Guide describes the character as follows:

    YEOMAN — Played by a succession of young actresses, always lovely. One such character has been well established in the first year, “YEOMAN JANICE RAND”, played by the lovely Grace Lee Whitney. Whether Yeoman Rand or a new character provided by the writer, this female Yeoman serves Kirk as his combination Executive Secretary-Valet-Military Aide. As such, she is always capable, a highly professional career girl. As with all female Crewman aboard, during duty hours she is treated co-equal with males of the same rank, and the same level of efficient performance is expected. The Yeoman often carries a small over-the-shoulder case, a TRICORDER, about the size of a small handbag, which is also an electronic recorder-camera-sensor combination, immediately available to the Captain should he be away from his Command Console.

In the real-world Navy, a yeoman is simply a clerk. Most of them are men. But in Star Fleet, this is women’s work, at least superficially. Note that in other respects these women were to be treated co-equally. What isn’t women’s work — ever (in the original series) — is the Captaincy. And this is stated explicitly in the very last episode of the series, “The Turnabout Intruder”.

Now, this has been retconned over and over, but this episode was deliberate, and it was conceived and outlined by Gene Roddenberry. By now you probably know that I don’t like retcons because they suck. They’re poor explanations that say, “it didn’t happen”. It’s better to explain why it did happen. And to do that, we have to start with an understanding of what Star Trek was for. It was first and foremost a platform for storytelling. Fantastic elements were readily employed whenever they served a storytelling need. It’s one of the strengths of science fiction:

    “I was working in a medium, television, which is heavily censored, and in contemporary shows I found I couldn’t talk about sex, religion, politics and all or the other things I wanted to talk about. It seemed to me that if I had things happen to little polka-dotted people on a far-off planet I might get past the network censors, as Swift did in his day. And indeed that’s what we did.”

    — Gene Roddenberry

Great Northern War – II: A Good Plan – Extra History

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

Published on 26 Aug 2017

The wrath of Charles XII was now aimed directly at Poland-Lithuania. But their leader had a plan! ..A terrible plan.

Augustus the Strong was determined to prove his might by defeated Charles XII on the battlefield. He gathered his Polish-Lithuanian forces, met the Swedes, and proceded to… lose. And lose. And lose. Then he got deposed and started a civil war which of course he also lost.

“Convicting Arpaio of contempt of court was like busting Al Capone on tax evasion”

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

Jon Gabriel on Il Donalduce‘s pardon of the world-class authoritarian scumbag and all-around thug, ex-Sheriff of Maricopa County, Joe Arpaio:

President Trump asked the crowd last week at his Phoenix rally, “Was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job?” Had the hall been filled with an accurate cross-section of Arpaio’s former constituents, the answer would have been a resounding “no.”

Nevertheless, Trump pardoned the ex-sheriff on Friday, though he had not yet been sentenced and had shown zero remorse for his crime.

America’s self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff” was convicted of criminal contempt of court last month after refusing to obey court orders. This most recent legal battle involved numerous federal attempts to get Arpaio to stop racially profiling residents of Maricopa County.

Not only did Arpaio refuse, he bragged about it. “Nobody is higher than me,” he said. “I am the elected sheriff by the people. I don’t serve any governor or the president.”

Many conservatives outside of Arizona celebrated his headline-grabbing antics, but they don’t know the real story. I’m a conservative Maricopa County resident who has lived under Arpaio throughout his decades-long reign. Arpaio was never a conservative; he just played one on TV.

I saw his love of racial profiling firsthand, especially on my daily commutes through the tiny Hispanic community of Guadalupe, Ariz. When conducting these “sweeps,” helicopters buzzed houses, an 18-wheeler marked “Mobile Command Center” was planted in the center of town, and countless sheriff’s deputies stood on the roadsides, peering into the cars rolling by. Being Caucasian, I was always waved through. The drivers ahead and behind me weren’t so lucky.

Washington’s laxity in border enforcement led many right-of-center Americans to appreciate more robust enforcement, even when it regularly included authoritarian scenes like the one in Guadalupe. But even if you turn a blind eye to the human cost of such race-based enforcement, Arpaio’s other misdeeds are legion.

Heavy Machine Guns of the Great War

Filed under: Britain, Europe, France, Germany, History, Military, Technology — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 14 Aug 2015

Check out The Great War’s complete playlist here for your easy binge-watching enjoyment:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLB2vhKMBjSxMK8YelHj6VS6w3KxuKsMvT

I have been really enjoying The Great War series, so I figured I ought to take advantage of an opportunity to look at several WWI heavy machine guns side by side. This is a video to give some historical context to the guns, and not a technical breakdown of exactly how they work (that will come later). These really were the epitome of industrialized warfare, and they wrought horrendous destruction on armies of the Great War.

The guns covered here are the German MG08, British Vickers, and French Hotchkiss 1914.

Hammer Prices:
Vickers: $20,000
MG08: $11,000
Hotchkiss 1914: $7,000

Other heavies used in the war include the Austrian Schwarzlose 1907/12, the Russian 1905 and 1910 Maxims, the Italian Fiat-Revelli, and the American Browning 1895. The book I was quoting from towards the end was Dolf Goldsmith’s unmatched work on the Maxim, The Devil’s Paintbrush.

QotD: Gramscian damage

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

Americans have never really understood ideological warfare. Our gut-level assumption is that everybody in the world really wants the same comfortable material success we have. We use “extremist” as a negative epithet. Even the few fanatics and revolutionary idealists we have, whatever their political flavor, expect everybody else to behave like a bourgeois.

We don’t expect ideas to matter — or, when they do, we expect them to matter only because people have been flipped into a vulnerable mode by repression or poverty. Thus all our divagation about the “root causes” of Islamic terrorism, as if the terrorists’ very clear and very ideological account of their own theory and motivations is somehow not to be believed.

By contrast, ideological and memetic warfare has been a favored tactic for all of America’s three great adversaries of the last hundred years — Nazis, Communists, and Islamists. All three put substantial effort into cultivating American proxies to influence U.S. domestic policy and foreign policy in favorable directions. Yes, the Nazis did this, through organizations like the “German-American Bund” that was outlawed when World War II went hot. Today, the Islamists are having some success at manipulating our politics through fairly transparent front organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

But it was the Soviet Union, in its day, that was the master of this game. They made dezinformatsiya (disinformation) a central weapon of their war against “the main adversary”, the U.S. They conducted memetic subversion against the U.S. on many levels at a scale that is only now becoming clear as historians burrow through their archives and ex-KGB officers sell their memoirs.

The Soviets had an entire “active measures” department devoted to churning out anti-American dezinformatsiya. A classic example is the rumor that AIDS was the result of research aimed at building a ‘race bomb’ that would selectively kill black people.

On a different level, in the 1930s members of CPUSA (the Communist Party of the USA) got instructions from Moscow to promote non-representational art so that the US’s public spaces would become arid and ugly.

Americans hearing that last one tend to laugh. But the Soviets, following the lead of Marxist theoreticians like Antonio Gramsci, took very seriously the idea that by blighting the U.S.’s intellectual and esthetic life, they could sap Americans’ will to resist Communist ideology and an eventual Communist takeover. The explicit goal was to erode the confidence of America’s ruling class and create an ideological vacuum to be filled by Marxism-Leninism.

Eric S. Raymond, “Gramscian damage”, Armed and Dangerous, 2006-02-11.

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