Quotulatiousness

October 3, 2017

Jagmeet Singh wins the federal NDP leadership race

Filed under: Cancon, Politics — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

The NDP have finally selected a leader who may be able to recapture some of the “lightning in a bottle” phenomenon of the late Jack Layton’s time as party leader (and bring back some former NDP voters who plumped for Justin last time around). Jay Currie is enthusiastic about the new guy:

Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh taking part in a Pride Parade in June 2017 (during the leadership campaign).
Photo via Wikimedia.

… I was cheered to see the rollover victory of Jagmeet Singh for the NDP leadership. Singh seems to be from the pragmatic end of the NDP and will be relatively immune from identitarian and intersectional attack simply because he’s brown and wears brilliant turbans. He’s intelligent, well spoken and has a bit of charisma. And he is just going to kill Justin Trudeau in places Trudeau needs to win.

It is simplistic to say that the Sikh community in Canada will universally support one of its own, there will certainly be a temptation to defect from Trudeau to Singh. While that might have some effect in Tory ridings, it will be felt most strongly in seats which have traditionally swung from Liberal to New Democrat and back again.

I am not sure, however, that Singh’s ethnicity is his biggest threat to Trudeau. By 2019 the emptiness of much of the Liberal’s program will be apparent to all. The broken promises, the tepid policy initiatives and, above all, the fiscal incompetence on the revenue side and on expenditures will be pretty apparent. For small business owners and consumers with half a clue, the combination of the lunatic small business tax measures and the expensive, but pointless, carbon tax will pour votes into the Conservative column. But with Canada’s first past the post system, that may not be enough.

Singh’s real threat to Trudeau is in marginal seats where the Libs beat the Conservatives by a few thousand votes in the last election because a) people had had enough of Harper, b) Justin seemed bright and shiny. People who would have voted NDP in the past were so eager to get rid of Harper they voted for Trudeau. Mulclair simply lacked the appeal to keep the faithful in the pews. At a guess, the rank and file NDP voters, as well as the multi-culti virtue signallers, will be much more inclined to give Singh a go. Which means he has the capacity to bleed off Liberal voters in significant numbers.

Between Gulasch Barons and Defending Neutrality – Denmark in WW1 I THE GREAT WAR Special

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

The Great War
Published on 2 Oct 2017

Denmark, Germany’s northern neighbour, declared neutrality when World War 1 broke out. But after the defeat against Germany in the 19th century, they were still worried and readied their defences. At the same time Germany’s hunger for supplies created a new rich elite which were called Gulasch Barons. 30,000 Danes also fought for Germany since they lived in a territory previously belonging to Denmark.

Viking warrior women?

Filed under: Cancon, History, Science — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

ESR posted a link to this article by Julia Dent on the much ballyhoo’d “discovery” of the grave of a Viking woman warrior:

You may have heard of L’Anse aux Meadows, the discovered Viking site in Canada (because I repeat, Vikings actually settled in North America, even if it didn’t last long), but did you know that they uncovered another Viking site only last year? If you listen to Dan Snow’s History Hit podcast (which I highly recommend), you may have heard about it, but I only saw a couple of articles about the discovery. This finding is further proof that Leif Eriksson and his fellow Vikings actually settled in North America years before Christopher Columbus was even born, so it isn’t insignificant in the least.

But Leif Eriksson was overshadowed once again—this time by an unknown woman’s grave. However, there’s more to the story than meets the eye. I’ve written about the danger of people leaping to conclusions before, and it appears that it’s happened again. While there may have been female Viking warriors, there isn’t strong evidence that this Viking woman was actually a “high-ranking officer” or even a warrior. University of Nottingham professor of Viking studies Judith Jesch burst everyone’s bubbles with an article going through the “evidence” from the grave site and contesting it all. I highly encourage you to read her analysis in full, but here’s a quick summary of some of her points about the authors who published the “evidence” that the grave site was for a female Viking military officer:

    The authors listed on the article don’t include a language specialist, even though it starts with referencing “’narratives about fierce female Vikings fighting alongside men’, and concludes with a quotation from an Eddic poem in translation.” The authors even referenced one of Jesch’s books but not the book where she actually writes about women. The authors also make a lot of references to “historical records” without specifying which ones they’re talking about.

    The authors pretty much decide that this Viking woman is a high-ranking officer based on what she was buried with. The grave contained “’a full set of gaming pieces’ which apparently ‘indicates knowledge of tactics and strategy’” and “’the exclusive grave goods and two horses are worthy of an individual with responsibilities concerning strategy and battle tactics.’” There isn’t even any conclusive evidence that men buried with those items were military leaders.

    This gravesite was actually excavated over a century ago and things weren’t labeled well, so the female Viking bones may not have even been buried with all those items. Someone even commented on Jesch’s article that there was a third femur found with this woman’s bones, but the authors just ignored it. There were also no signs of harm to the bones, which means she was either one heck of a warrior who never got injured, or that she wasn’t a warrior at all.

So the authors assumed this female Viking was a military leader without any actual evidence and they ignored evidence that didn’t go along with their theory. Like many people today, they leapt to conclusions, and everyone was eager to agree that this woman was definitely a military leader because that suited a contemporary narrative, not a historical fact. This doesn’t mean that people in the future won’t find hard evidence that female Vikings could be military leaders, but you can’t “confirm” that this Viking was a military leader quite yet. Even if there weren’t female Viking warriors, women in Viking times were actually well-respected and enjoyed many rights and freedoms; they could divorce their husbands, own land, and could even have government representation. Women like Freydis and Gudrun had a significant impact on their societies, even if they didn’t lead troops into battle.

ESR also commented on the more direct physiological arguments against the “warrior woman” theory:

Accessible treatment of why to be skeptical of the recent media buzz about female Viking warriors.

My wife Cathy and I are subject-matter experts on this. We’ve trained to use period weapons and have studied both the archeological and saga evidence. And we can tell there’s a lot of PC horse exhaust being emitted on this topic.

On average, men are so much faster and stronger than women that what would happen to women using using lethal contact weapons on a pre-modern battlefield is highly predictable. They’d die. They’d die quickly.

The mean difference in physical ability (especially at burst exertion and upper-body strength) is so great that it takes a woman way over in the right tail of the Gaussian to stand against an average male. My wife is one of those exceptions, but we don’t fool ourselves that this is the typical case.

See also the U.S. Olympic women’s soccer team being defeated by a squad of 15-year-old boys. That is what’s normal for humans.

Primitive Technology: Mud Bricks

Filed under: Environment, History, Technology — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Primitive Technology
Published on 22 Sep 2017

(Turn on captions [CC] in the lower right corner for more information while viewing.)
I made a brick mold that makes bricks 25 x 12.5 x 7.5 cm from wood. A log was split and mortise and tenon joints were carved using a stone chisel and sharp rocks. The mold was lashed together with cane to prevent it from coming apart when used.

Next, I made a mixture of mud and palm fiber to make the bricks. This was then placed into the mold to be shaped and taken to a drying area. 140 bricks were made.

When dry, the bricks were then assembled into a kiln. 32 roof tiles were then made of mud and fired in the kiln. It only took 3 hours to fire the tiles sufficiently. The mud bricks and tiles were a bit weaker than objects made from my regular clay source because of the silt, sand and gravel content of the soil. Because of this, I will look at refining mud into clay in future projects instead of just using mud.

Interestingly, the kiln got hot enough so that iron oxide containing stones began to melt out of the tiles. This is not metallic iron, but only slag (iron oxide and silica) and the temperature was probably not very high, but only enough to slowly melt or soften the stones when heated for 3 hours.

The kiln performed as well as the monolithic ones I’ve built in the past and has a good volume. It can also be taken down and transported to other areas. But the bricks are very brittle and next time I’d use better clay devoid of sand/silt, and use grog instead of temper made of plant fiber which burns out in firing. The mold works satisfactorily. I aim to make better quality bricks for use in furnaces and buildings in future.

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QotD: Generation selfie

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

There was a whole section of the catalog I picked up in which the models obscured their faces with their phones by taking selfies. Unlike most models these days, who affect a look of unutterable misery (perhaps it is not an affectation, given that they are not allowed to eat and are treated like slaves), the models taking selfies looked very happy, at least in those pictures in which it was possible to discern their facial expression. Perhaps, then, it is in looking at oneself that true happiness lies, at least for some people.

Certainly, at every famous tourist site these days one sees whole troops of people taking pictures of themselves: me and the Mona Lisa, me and the Eiffel Tower, me and Big Ben, me and the Empire State Building, me and Mount Everest. It is the me that counts in these photos, of course; no one’s friends really care about Mount Everest, and even concern for the me is relative. A selfie with Mount Everest is like an alibi when one has been accused of claiming to have been there without having been there; the proof is in one’s phone, although it must be admitted that these days, with an ability to alter photos at will that would have brought joy to Stalin’s heart, anything can be arranged. I read in the memoir of a French model that, having starved mannequins to the size of minus 6, they are fattened up a little afterwards by computer at the printing stage: a remarkable testimony to mankind’s capacity to combine wickedness with stupidity.

The selfie is an example of the new social contract brought about by the social media: You pretend to be interested in me if I pretend to be interested in you. Thus, I agree to look at your selfie at Machu Picchu if you agree to look at mine at Angkor Wat. And this, after all, is as it should be, because it is a long way to go to either of those if no one believes you have been. A classic book is a book that everyone wishes he had read; a wonder of the world is a place at which everyone wishes he had been photographed.

Theodore Dalrymple, “Suit Yourselfie”, Taki’s Magazine, 2017-09-16.

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