Quotulatiousness

September 7, 2017

We Are Coming To Italy and Slovenia! I THE GREAT WAR On The Road

Filed under: Europe, History, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Published on 6 Sep 2017

September 18 – Meeting at Kobarid, Slovenia: http://bit.ly/Kobarid

September 19 – Meeting at Vittorio Veneto, Italy: http://bit.ly/VittorioVeneto

September 20 – Meeting at Lagazuoi: http://bit.ly/LagazuoiWW1

Roman Roads of Britain

Filed under: Britain, History — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Last month, Colin Marshall shared this post on Open Culture:

[Click to embiggen]

Though some of Britain’s Roman Roads have become modern motorways, most no longer exist in any form but those bits and pieces history buffs like to spot. This makes it difficult to get a sense of how they all ran and where — or at least it did until Sasha Trubetskoy made a Roman Roads of Britain Network Map in the graphic-design style of the subway maps you’ll find in London or any other major city today. Trubetskoy, an undergraduate statistics major at the University of Chicago, first found cartographical fame a few months ago with his “subway map” of roads across the entire Roman Empire circa 125 AD.

“Popular request,” he writes, demanded a Britain-specific follow up, a project he describes as “far more complicated than I had initially anticipated.” The challenges included not just the sheer number of Roman Roads in Britain but a lack of clarity about their exact location and extents. As in his previous map, Trubetskoy admits, “I had to do some simplifying and make some tough choices on which cities to include.” While this closer-up view demanded a more geographical faithfulness, he nevertheless “had to get rather creative with the historical evidence” in places, to the point of using such “not exactly Latin-sounding” names as “Watling Street” and “Ermin Way.”

Argentina expresses interest in laser death-beam-equipped USS Ponce

Filed under: Americas, Military, Technology, USA — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Those sneaky Argentines, trying to grab some surplus seagoing laser switchblade technology:

The U.S. Navy Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (AFSB(I)-15) conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored Laser Weapon System (LaWS) while deployed to the Arabian Gulf.
Date. 16 November 2014 (via Wikimedia)

Argentina reportedly wants to buy the US Navy’s laser death ray testbed warship, the fearsomely named USS Ponce.

According to the Mail on Sunday, the Argentinians are interested in buying the 46-year-old former landing platform (dock) from the American Navy when she is decommissioned next year.

“Senior Pentagon sources have confirmed talks are ongoing with the Argentinians over a Landing Platform Dock vessel capable of launching 800 troops, six helicopters and 2,000 tons of equipment into a war zone,” reported the paper, contrasting this with the Royal Navy’s HMS Ocean, which is very similar to the Ponce’s original configuration.

As regular readers know, the mighty Ponce has spent the last few years blasting various targets into bits using a shiny new $40m laser cannon and the US Navy even deployed her to the Gulf a few years ago.

To North American readers: if you’re wondering why this reads a bit oddly even by ordinary Register standards, it’s because the word “ponce” in British usage is a bit, um, odd. It’s taken as read that the primary purpose of an Argentine-flagged Ponce would sooner or later be intended for use in “liberating” the Falkland Islands:

The Ponce would be far from the first former US warship acquired by Argentina. In 1951 the Second World War cruiser USS Phoenix, a veteran of the Pearl Harbour attack by Japan, was bought by Argentina. She was renamed ARA General Belgrano – and sunk by British nuclear submarine HMS Conqueror during the 1982 Falklands War. Doubtless the same fate would befall the Ponce if Argentina tried the same trick again.

James May’s 80s internet EXTRAS – James May’s Q&A (Ep 19) – Head Squeeze

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

Published on 10 May 2013

James reflects on the lifetime of the internet… what was he doing on the web in 1988? What does he use it for most? And how will it banish all oppressive regimes?

Extra content from James May’s Q&A (Ep 19) http://youtu.be/C3sr7_0FyPA

James May’s Q&A: With his own unique spin, James May asks and answers the oddball questions we’ve all wondered about from ‘What Exactly Is One Second?’ to ‘Is Invisibility Possible?’

QotD: The United Nations, the “ratty old sofa of geopolitics”

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

Years ago I asked my father why a ratty old sofa was still in the house. He replied simply: It’s there because it’s there. The words had a strange finality about them. Almost metaphysical in their profundity. What we were talking about was a sofa purchased years ago, used and abused by the family, and then unceremonious shunted into an obscure room when the newer model arrived. As I recall on delivery day there had been talk of carting away the ratty old sofa. The haulers had offered to take it — for a price. My father balked and so it has remained. A dusty old sofa living out its days, slowly crumbling into the parquet.

The philosophy of furnishing a suburban home is important. It reveals something about the human psyche. When we spend a lot of time and effort bringing something into our lives, we become reluctant to dispense with it. When that particular something is a big and bulky item, requiring much effort to remove, lethargy places its death grip upon it. Think of how many things in your life where you can say: It’s there because it’s there.

Gingerly moving from the life of individuals to the life of nations we run into the same problem. Things that are there because no one has bothered to get rid of them. In the dim and distant recesses of the national memory a purpose was once understood. That purpose is long done and gone. Habit and lethargy defend the otherwise indefensible. This brings us to the ratty old sofa of geopolitics: The United Nations.

In one of those fits of New Deal liberalism that has cost America so much in treasure — and occasionally blood — it was resolved after the Second World War that world peace would be secured by creating a council of nations. This was suppose to be a new and improved version of the League of Nations. The much maligned League had been set-up after the First World in a fit of Wilsonian liberalism. It too was designed to secure world peace. Rather than junk the original concept entirely the United Nations simply tweaked it. As generations of history textbooks have wisely explained the neo-league had a Security Council which recognized the reality of Great Power politics.

[…]

The UN has been far more successful than the League of Nations in one very important way: It has survived. The most important thing for any bureaucracy is to survive. Accomplishing its intended goal is secondary if not outright dangerous. If the War on Poverty had been won why would we need three-quarters of the federal government? If complete world peace existed then the UN would look even more pointless than it does now.

The key to the UN’s survival has been one thing: Guilt tripping the United States. Suggesting that if the US failed to fund the UN it would lead to war and devastation through out the globe. Financially the UN cannot survive without American largesse. Diplomatically it exists at the sufferance of the American government, occupying prime Manhattan real estate in defiance of economics and common sense. Had they put the General Assembly building in Newark perhaps the foreign diplomats would have all gone home by now.

Richard Anderson, “The Greatest Waste of Money On Earth”, The Gods of the Copybook Headings, 2015-09-29.

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