Quotulatiousness

October 31, 2017

How Sugar Subsidies Ruin Halloween

Filed under: Economics, Government, Health, Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

ReasonTV
Published on 30 Oct 2017

This Halloween while you’re getting pudgy from candy, crony capitalists are getting rich off of sugar subsidies. The system is rigged through price controls, subsidies, and tariffs, all designed to protect the sugar industry from competition – and basic math. In the latest “Mostly Weekly” Andrew Heaton tears into the Willy Wonkas gaming the system, and shows why an open market can more than handle your sugar craving.

The adage “When you get a free good, you use a lot more of it” also applies to the military

Filed under: Middle East, Military, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

John Stossel talks to Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater:

The military uses contractors to provide security, deliver mail, rescue soldiers and more. Private contractors often do jobs well, for much less than the government would spend.

”We did a helicopter resupply mission,” Prince told me. “We showed up with two helicopters and eight people — the Navy was doing it with 35 people.”

I asked, “Why would the Navy use 35 people?”

Prince answered, “The admiral that says, ‘I need 35 people to do that mission,’ didn’t pay for them. When you get a free good, you use a lot more of it.”

Prince also claims the military is slow to adjust. In Afghanistan, it’s “using equipment designed to fight the Soviet Union, (not ideal) for finding enemies living in caves or operating from a pickup truck.”

I suggested that the government eventually adjusts.

”No, they do not,” answered Prince. “In 16 years of warfare, the army never adjusted how they do deployments — never made them smaller and more nimble. You could actually do all the counter-insurgency missions over Afghanistan with propeller-driven aircraft.”

So far, Trump has ignored Prince’s advice. I assume he, like many people, is skeptical of military contractors. The word “mercenary” has a bad reputation.

He moved on after selling Blackwater, and dabbled in fighting piracy:

In 2010, Prince sold his security firm and moved on to other projects.

He persuaded the United Arab Emirates to fund a private anti-pirate force in Somalia. The U.N. called that a “brazen violation” of its arms embargo, but Prince went ahead anyway.

His mercenaries attacked pirates whenever they came near shore. His private army, plus merchant ships finally arming themselves, largely ended piracy in that part of the world. In 2010, Somali pirates took more than a thousand hostages. In 2014, they captured none.

Did you even hear about that success? I hadn’t before doing research on Prince. The media don’t like to report good things about for-profit soldiers. Commentator Keith Olbermann called Blackwater “a full-fledged criminal enterprise.” One TV anchor called Prince “horrible … the poster child for everything wrong with the military-industrial complex.”

When I showed that to Prince, he replied, “the hardcore anti-war left went after the troops in Vietnam … (I)n Iraq and Afghanistan they went after contractors … contractors providing a good service to support the U.S. military — vilified, demonized, because they were for-profit companies.”

If we don’t use private contractors, he added, we will fail in Afghanistan, where we’ve “spent close to a trillion dollars and are still losing.”

H/T to Stephen Green for the link.

Strategic Bombing on the Western Front I THE GREAT WAR Special

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

The Great War
Published on 30 Oct 2017

Bismarck’s Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/Bis18marck70/featured

With the development of planes shortly before the Great War, the concept of strategic bombing made its debut in this conflict. Each country had different doctrines with regards to strategic bombing, and in this video we’ll be looking at British, French and German doctrines regarding the bombing of civilian targets and supply lines, as well as considering their effectiveness.

We may no longer refer to a last-place candidate as having “lost their deposit”

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

Colby Cosh on a recent court ruling in that hotbed of radical democracy, the Alberta Queen’s Bench, declaring candidate deposits for federal elections to be unconstitutional:

Deposits are a tradition in Canadian federal elections as old as the ballot itself, dating to 1874. But Queen’s Bench Justice Avril Inglis’s ruling suggests that their days are probably numbered. They were introduced for the purpose, stated at the time and very often re-stated since, of deterring frivolous candidates for office. Before the year 2000, you needed to hand over $1,000 to run in a federal election: you got half back automatically if you complied with the Ps and Qs of election law, and the other half if you got at least 15 per cent of the vote.

This practice ran into trouble when (literal) communists litigated against it, arguing that it impeded the Charter rights of the poor and humble to participate in elections. Parliament acknowledged this by making the full $1,000 refundable, so talking heads no longer speak of “forfeiting one’s deposit” on election night. But the government continued to take the view that the “frivolous” need to be discouraged from pursuing federal candidacies. This was not really a satisfying rectification of the Charter issue, as Kieran Szuchewycz, an Edmontonian with some legal experience, seems to have noticed.

The truth is that Szuchewycz (who, for all I know, could be the guy who mops my local 7-Eleven) ran circles around the Department of Justice lawyers who turned up to oppose him. Justice Inglis has ruled that the $1,000 deposit fails almost every point of the Oakes test for laws that impinge on Charter rights. She found that “preserving the legitimacy of the electoral process” is an important objective, but the connection between having a grand lying around and being a “serious” candidate is not clear.

Szuchewycz observed that nowhere in the literature defending election deposits is “seriousness” or “frivolousness” defined. Nobody can point to an example of any harm arising from the existence of even admittedly frivolous candidates, like the long-established Rhinos.

And, well, the deposit doesn’t seem to discourage the Rhinos, does it? If you are well-heeled but “frivolous” you can afford the deposit. If you are in earnest, but broke, it’s a problem. And there are other “seriousness” tests in election law, notably the requirement for candidates to gather nominating signatures from riding residents. So what’s the thousand bucks for specifically?

Update, 8 November: Elections Canada is respecting the Alberta Queen’s Bench decision and no longer requires candidates in federal elections to submit a deposit. H/T again to Colby Cosh.

Yes Minister — The Five Standard Excuses

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

Hostis Humani Generis
Published on 26 Sep 2015

Humphrey Appleby’s five standard excuses from S02E07.

QotD: Consensus “science”

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

I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled.

Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.

Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.

Michael Crichton, “Aliens Cause Global Warming”: the Caltech Michelin Lecture, 2003-01-17.

October 30, 2017

Otto von Bismarck – III: Iron and Blood – Extra History

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

Extra Credits
Published on 28 Oct 2017

Bismarck was just starting to get the hang of diplomacy when the throne of Prussia passed to a new Frederick Wilhelm who promptly sent him away to Russia. But then Bismarck got tapped to serve as the Head of Government and began pushing for his great project: the unification of Germany.

Vikings rally in the second half to beat Cleveland 33-16 at Twickenham Stadium

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Early Sunday morning (North American time), the Vikings faced the Cleveland Browns at Twickenham Stadium in the last of four NFL regular season games to be played in the UK this year. Cleveland took advantage of an early break, scoring a touchdown after a Case Keenum pass was deflected and intercepted during the first offensive series (but they didn’t convert on the kick). As the TV announcers mentioned several times, this was only the Browns’ second lead of the season (the Browns were 0-7 coming into the game). At this point, long-time Viking fans may have suddenly started to feel that oh-too-familiar dread that the team had fallen into yet another trap game…

Minnesota took advantage of a muffed punt deep in Cleveland territory, but the drive stalled out quickly so Kai Forbath was called on to kick a field goal. Late in a sloppy first half, Keenum scrambled and passed the ball to an unmarked Adam Thielen in the corner of the end zone for the Vikings’ first TD of the game (the kick was blocked). The half ended with the Vikings trailing by 1 point, 13-12.

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Tank Chats #19 Matilda II

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

Tank Museum
Published on 28 Apr 2016

The name Matilda means Strength in Battle from the Germanic roots Maht, meaning strong and Hild meaning battle.

The Matilda was regarded as a superb tank in its day and carved a remarkable career for itself. A few served in France in 1940 but in the early stages of the North African campaign, under General Wavell, it virtually ruled the desert. Even when the Afrika Korps arrived it remained a formidable opponent, immune to everything but the notorious 88mm gun. Its main failings were its slow speed and small gun, which could not be improved.

QotD: Responding to “do my homework for me” requests from students

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

There is one certain kind of email interview, however, which I’m going to single out for attention. Just recently, I got an interview request from a high school student which was clearly nothing more than the questions he received as part of a assignment, and he thought he could fool me into answering them for him. Now, this wasn’t the first time I’ve received such a letter, so even though I’m answering him the rest of you smartass students need to listen up as well: Listen, kiddo, I didn’t just fall off of the fucking turnip truck. Don’t let my spectacular bod fool you; I’m old enough to be your grandmother, and I was probably outwitting teachers before your parents were born. I’ve been around the block more times than you’ve masturbated, and if you think you can trick me into doing your homework, you need to be slapped harder than I’m willing to give you for what you can afford. It’s bad enough when adult reporters try to get me to do their work for them, but it reaches a higher level of impudence when the person who thinks he can outwit me isn’t even as old as the last bottle of wine I drank. So cut that shit out; if you want to interview me come up with some proper questions, record it, then write the damned paper yourself. The practice will do you good, and one day you’ll thank me when you become an actual writer rather than a fucking stenographer whose “craft” consists of parroting whatever moronic propaganda the cops are shoveling out at press conferences in the late 2020s.

Maggie McNeill, “Not Last Night”, The Honest Courtesan, 2016-03-17.

October 29, 2017

On the Battlefield of Caporetto – Exploring the Kolovrat I THE GREAT WAR Special

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

The Great War
Published on 28 Oct 2017

The Walk of Peace in the Soča Region Foundation
http://www.potmiru.si/

Follow Indy and his guide Leon up the heights of the Kolovrat Ridge and into the Italian frontline trenches and bunkers. From there we take a look down towards the Isonzo Valley and reconstruct the advance of the German and Austro-Hungarian forces during the Battle of Caporetto towards Tolmin and Kobarid. Walking through the narrow corridors, we try to understand the conditions in which the defenders lived and fought.

The Poutine crisis – “Toronto is living a cheese curd lie”

Filed under: Cancon, Randomness — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Toronto loves to adopt anything trendy and try to claim it as its own. Poutine, an imported delicacy from Quebec, early on was lovingly described as “the culinary equivalent of having unprotected sex with a stripper in the parking lot of a truck stop in eastern Quebec”, yet has been culturally appropriated as part of Toronto’s myriad of “local” dishes. Yet, according to this explosive investigatory report by Jake Edmiston, the so-called poutine that Toronto loves is … falsely labelled, inadequate, lacking a key component:

Some time ago, I realized that in Toronto, the cheese curds do not squeak. And cheese curds that do not squeak are a dangerous thing. They can trick you into thinking that cheese curds are just chopped-up cheese. The whole idea, to those unlucky enough to have never had a good one, must seem absurd: Eating cheese by itself, piece by piece in the same compulsive way that someone eats more chips than they need.

Think of the nightmare lived by a man scouring a city for chips that crunch but finding each bag stale. I am him.

As food-obsessed as it is, Toronto is living a cheese curd lie. It’s not always a popular assessment, though. One local cheesemonger took it rather badly.

“Who said that?” Afrim Pristine, the maître fromager at Cheese Boutique, demanded over the phone earlier this month.

“I say that,” I replied.

“You say that?” he said, confused. “Have you been to the Cheese Boutique?”

“I haven’t had your cheese curds yet.”

“So why would you say that?”

“I haven’t said it in print yet. I’m just saying that.”

“Okay. Um, I think you’re very, very wrong,” he said. “I think you’re incredibly wrong. To say that you can’t find good cheese curds in Toronto, I think, is crazy, actually.”

[…]

Curds are the butterflies of the cheese world — beautiful, transcendent, but only for an instant. They offer the rare example of cheese reaching its full expression as a snack unto itself, so airy and texturally complex that it is liberated from the usual dependence on crackers or bread or wine. Curds have been spared all the pressing and squeezing that occurs in the late stages of the cheddar-making process. They’re pulled right from the vat before any of that happens, still full of air and whey. That’s what makes them so much different than the cubes of mild cheddar beside the slices of salami on your cheese tray. Not for long. As that moisture seeps out over time, they inch closer to their cubed cousins, closer to ordinary. The squeak is, really, the only thing separating the two.

H/T to James Bow for the link.

Renault 4’s history: reviewed by James May on Top Gear

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

R4OfficialChannel
Published on 27 Dec 2015

QotD: Mencken’s revised view of Coolidge

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

In what manner he would have performed himself if the holy angels had shoved the Depression forward a couple of years — this we can only guess, and one man’s hazard is as good as another’s. My own is that he would have responded to bad times precisely as he responded to good ones — that is, by pulling down the blinds, stretching his legs upon his desk, and snoozing away the lazy afternoons…. He slept more than any other President, whether by day or by night. Nero fiddled, but Coolidge only snored…. Counting out Harding as a cipher only, Dr. Coolidge was preceded by one World Saver and followed by two more. What enlightened American, having to choose between any of them and another Coolidge, would hesitate for an instant? There were no thrills while he reigned, but neither were there any headaches. He had no ideas, and he was not a nuisance.

H.L. Mencken, The American Mercury, 1933-04.

October 28, 2017

Case Keenum gets no respect PLUS rumblings from the Bridgewater Underground

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Poor Case Keenum. The Vikings’ backup quarterback has done just about everything you could ask of a backup in the NFL: he’s stepped in when Sam Bradford’s knee started acting up, and he’s kept the Vikings competitive in most of the games he’s played. Yet he still gets no respect, as vividly shown here in a photo caption in the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Um, guys, That’d be Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, not Case Keenum. The lack of a red practice jersey should have been a dead give away.
(Screen cap from the Star Tribune)

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