Quotulatiousness

June 19, 2017

QotD: The Pope

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

I am not a Catholic but I understand that, unlike the position of Archbishop of Canterbury, where total contempt from the congregants more or less comes with the job, the Bishop of Rome is generally held in some respect by his church.

Mark Steyn, “Last Laughs in Europe”, SteynOnline.com, 2015-09-28.

June 18, 2017

Ottoman Soldiers in Europe – Naval Tactics – Officer PoWs I OUT OF THE TRENCHES

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

Published on 17 Jun 2017

Signup for your FREE trial to The Great Courses Plus* here: http://ow.ly/UYp930acl8m

Another exciting episode of Out Of The Trenches featuring naval tactics, the treatment of officers as prisoners of war and two questions related to the Ottoman Empire.

*The Great Courses Plus is currently available to watch through a web browser to almost anyone in the world and optimized for the US market. The Great Courses Plus is currently working to both optimize the product globally and accept credit card payments globally.

Fiat 500 – The Original Small Car – James May’s Cars Of The People – BBC Brit

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

Published on 19 Jul 2015

James May takes a spin in one of the original small cars, the very mini, Fiat 500.

Taken from James May’s Cars of the People

June 17, 2017

Hunting the Bismarck – I: The Pride of Germany – Extra History

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

Published on May 11, 2017

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During World War II, the Bismarck was the pride of the German navy – and the nightmare of Great Britain. It was enormous, overpowered, and a constant threat to the seas. So when they got word that the Bismarck had mobilized, the British raced to stop it.

June 16, 2017

Italian Mountain Warfare – The Espionage Act I THE GREAT WAR Week 151

Filed under: Europe, History, Middle East, Military, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

Published on 15 Jun 2017

WW1 Flying Event: http://bit.ly/TGWStowMaries

The US entry into the war had raised some pretty unrealistic expectations among the Allies. When General Pershing arrived in Britain, King George personally told him how he looked forward to the 50,000 US airplanes soon in the air. At the same time the Italians start an offensive in the Trentino and attack Mount Ortigara.

“Who knew, either, that there was so much hate within the left?”

Filed under: Britain, Media, Politics — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Julie Burchill on her relatively recent discovery of the depths of hate members of the left have for the rest of us:

Growing up in a communist household, I thought ‘Tory’ was a curse word till I was a teenager. My father was the kindest and, yes, most noble of men — maybe the fact that his socialism was a product of being genuinely working class, rather than a pose struck to impress/shame others, had something to do with it — but I had no idea until Brexit of the bigotry that lurks within the Brotherhood of Man. We are often reminded of the ‘hatred’ the referendum and recent election ‘stirred up’ in our society — warned off democracy by those who would control us for our own good, as if we were wayward children eyeing the biscuit tin. What these sorrowing sad-sacks fail to add is the hate comes largely from their side. Too much democracy has merely flushed the poison out. Brexit did indeed unleash hate — but the hate it unleashed was not that of the British for foreigners but rather of the liberals for the masses.

It sounds strange coming from someone who has made a lovely life out of peddling vitriol for pleasure and profit, but I’ve been amazed — and not a little amused, comparing their swivel-eyed social media savagery with their mollycoddling manifestos — at the level of nastiness that the Great and the Good (or, as I think of them, our Betters and Wetters) have displayed over the past year. During my entire career of evil, from 17-year-old enfant terrible to 57-year-old grande dame, I only recall wishing death on one person — well, two: the Eurythmics. But my dad, when he shouted ‘Tory!’ at the TV, was content to leave it at that.

What my dad didn’t do, unlike Alastair Campbell, was compare those who thought differently from him to jihadists. He wouldn’t, unlike Julian Barnes, have wanted those who thought differently from him ‘punished’ by an unelected club of bureaucrats. Unlike Ian McEwan, he didn’t look forward to a time when those who’d voted differently from him were ‘freshly in their graves’. He wouldn’t, as Paddy Ashdown did, have referred to those who disagreed with him as ‘Brownshirts’.

My dad left school at 14. He had no privilege. Yet he knew more and was capable of far more decent behaviour than these privileged, highly educated men. He was from the working class, so he knew better than to dismiss the working class for thinking that they deserve something better than sleeping six to a room and working weekends for the minimum wage. If he’d seen the tax-avoiding multi-millionaire Bob Geldof and his boatful of Remainer mates mocking a flotilla of men worried about making a living under EU rules, he’d have known which one was the ship of fools.

June 15, 2017

Why is Rommel so complicated? – Erwin Rommel vs. Desert Fox

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

Published on 17 May 2017

This video takes a look at why Erwin Rommel often called the “Desert Fox” is so complicated due to the various interest groups and his complex situation in World War 2.

QotD: The Budapest Effect

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

A group of Manhattan Project physicists created a tongue-in-cheek mythology where superintelligent Martian scouts landed in Budapest in the late 19th century and stayed for about a generation, after which they decided the planet was unsuitable for their needs and disappeared. The only clue to their existence were the children they had with local women.

The joke was that this explained why the Manhattan Project was led by a group of Hungarian supergeniuses, all born in Budapest between 1890 and 1920. These included Manhattan Project founder Leo Szilard, H-bomb creator Edward Teller, Nobel-Prize-winning quantum physicist Eugene Wigner, and legendary polymath John von Neumann, namesake of the List Of Things Named After John Von Neumann.

The coincidences actually pile up beyond this. Von Neumann, Wigner, and possibly Teller all went to the same central Budapest high school at about the same time, leading a friend to joke about the atomic bomb being basically a Hungarian high school science fair project.

But maybe we shouldn’t be joking about this so much. Suppose we learned that Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach all had the same childhood piano tutor. It sounds less like “ha ha, what a funny coincidence” and more like “wait, who was this guy, and how quickly can we make everyone else start doing what he did?”

In this case, the guy was Laszlo Ratz, legendary Budapest high school math teacher. I didn’t even know people told legends about high school math teachers, but apparently they do, and this guy features in a lot of them. There is apparently a Laszlo Ratz Memorial Congress for high school math teachers each year, and a Laszlo Ratz medal for services to the profession. There are plaques and statues to this guy. It’s pretty impressive.

A while ago I looked into the literature on teachers and concluded that they didn’t have much effect overall. Similarly, Freddie deBoer writes that most claims that certain schools or programs have transformative effects on their students are the result of selection bias.

On the other hand, we have a Hungarian academy producing like half the brainpower behind 20th century physics, and Nobel laureates who literally keep a picture of their high school math teacher on the wall of their office to inspire them. Perhaps even if teachers don’t explain much of the existing variability, there are heights of teacherdom so rare that they don’t show up in the statistics, but still exist to be aspired to?

Scott Alexander, “The Atomic Bomb Considered as Hungarian High School Science Fair Project”, Slate Star Codex, 2016-05-26.

June 14, 2017

Both Tories and Labour now depend on homophobes for their support

Filed under: Britain, Politics, Religion — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

The British Tories will survive their drubbing at the polls in last week’s general election thanks to the (negotiated) support of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which is the only socially conservative party represented in the commons. The opposition Labour party, however, also has its own group of socially conservative voters upon whom it now depends for many seats in Parliament:

According to the slogans, the Democratic Unionist Parity is a “hate” group because it is “anti-gay, anti-green, anti-women”. That’s to say, they’re opposed to same-sex marriage, abortion, and take a relaxed view of the impending climate apocalypse.

Oh, my.

Even worse, such views have made them Ulster’s most popular political party – albeit that, for us old-timers of the Irish Question, the new DUP can seem frankly a bit milquetoast next to their continuously fulminating, firebreathing founder Ian Paisley. Still, you can understand why the mob has briefly roused itself from Google to take to the streets to protest this week’s designated haters. It’s certainly unfortunate that Theresa May’s grip on power depends on such “anti-gay” and “anti-women” types, isn’t it?

But surely it’s also unfortunate that Jeremy Corbyn’s grip on power in the resurgent Labour Party depends on “anti-gay” and “anti-women” types, too. As Brendan O’Neill points out:

    And all the while we have Labourites like Jeremy Corbyn mixing with Islamist groups that share all these same social views, except in an even more extreme form. Yet the people beating the streets over the DUP say nothing.

That’s true. Theresa May’s more recalcitrant friends in the DUP think gays are godless sodomites who’ll be spending eternity on a roasting spit in hell. Jeremy Corbyn’s more recalcitrant friends are disinclined to wait that long and would rather light them up now – or hurl them off the roof. Hamas, which Mr Corbyn supports, is fairly typical. Sample headline from Newsweek:

    Hamas Executes Prominent Commander After Accusations Of Gay Sex

Doesn’t that make Hamas an anti-gay “hate group”? Well, no. You can bet that 90 per cent of the Google activists in the street protesting Theresa May’s ties to people who think men who love men shouldn’t be permitted to marry are entirely relaxed about Jeremy Corbyn’s ties to people who think men who love men should be burned alive or tossed off tall buildings.

This contradiction exists all over the western world. Today’s progressives cling to the most cobwebbed cliches: Polygamy? That’s something Mormons do in Utah, not Muslims in Canada, France, Britain, Sweden, with the not so tacit connivance of the state welfare systems. First-cousin marriage? That’s something stump-toothed Appalachians do after a bunk-up with Cindy Mae and a jigger of moonshine, not 75 per cent of Pakistani Britons in Bradford, and some 58 per cent throughout the rest of the country.

As for gays, forget Hamas and consider Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters in the United Kingdom: Fifty-two per cent of Muslims told Channel 4 they believed homosexuality should be illegal. Yet Mr Corbyn’s Labour Party has so assiduously courted these “haters” that it’s now electorally dependent on them. Mrs May didn’t court her haters in Ulster, and she’s wound up depending on them merely as an unintended consequence of her own ineptitude on the hustings.

Just to spell it out even more plainly, last year YouGov polled Britons in general on their attitudes to the aforementioned sodomites. Seventeen per cent thought homosexuality was “morally wrong”. If that sounds unnervingly high to you, what’s the reason? Over-sampling in East Belfast? A few rural backwaters not quite up to speed on the new gayer-than-thou Britain? No. In most parts of the country about 15 per cent declined to get with the beat. But in diverse, multicultural London, 29 per cent of the population regarded homosexuality as “morally wrong”.

Public Service Announcement I THE GREAT WAR

Filed under: Britain, History, Military — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Published on 13 Jun 2017

WW1 Flying Event: http://bit.ly/TGWStowMaries
Infographic Poster: http://bit.ly/InfographicPoster
Viewer Survey: http://bit.ly/TGWsurvey

Thank you for your support!

“How Do They Do It” – Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena

Filed under: Europe, Randomness — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 25 Nov 2014

It was a pleasure to host the crew of “How do they do it” at the Villa of our membership Davide!!
More info: http://www.balsamico.it

QotD: Portuguese culture

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

So, let’s go back to culture being like the water in an aquarium. Most people aren’t blind to their culture. They know what it’s like and where it stacks in comparison with other cultures, more or less, relatively.

For instance, Portuguese are well aware of being very unorganized — and weirdly proud of it. No, really — and know they stack above Brazilians in organization but below powerhouses of organization like France and Ireland. What they don’t know is how their disorganization/disregard for times/disdain for details affects their prosperity, their security and every level of life in the country.

They don’t know this because they’ve never lived anywhere else. Going shopping will take an entire afternoon because the buses run more on suggestion than schedule (and if you drive, the traffic rules are also suggestions, which means sometimes bizarre traffic jams because someone didn’t find a parking space and thought he might as well park on a lane on the road.) Also, the stores might or might not have the same products they had last week, and besides, if the shopkeeper came in late, and then had a really difficult customer, you might have to wait an hour. And on and on. I often say I spent most of my teenage years standing on street corners, fortunately reading science fiction and not going “oh, hai sailor” because I got so neurotic about being late for an outing with friends that I got there ten minutes early. And then waited an hour for the first of them to show up and two for the stragglers. This type of thing, over time, eats people’s time and their mental and emotional resources. Frankly, it’s amazing the country works as well as it does.

And yep, they know they’re unorganized — they view it was free and not rigid — but they fail to take into account everything it touches, because “it’s always been like that.”

I suspect in the US people would bodily move a car that parked blocking a lane of a two lane road “while I go over there to the post office. It’s just a minute. What are you so uptight about that you object?” In Portugal it’s the way it works. (Though I understand if you park on the tram lines and are driving a smart, you will get moved. The occurrence is so common trams have really long poles to assist this move. You should have seen my kids’ faces watching this.)

Not ragging on Portuguese, really. They’re at worst a second world country. I’m only describing them because it’s a culture I have a lot of insight into. The culture as in all Latin countries, has all the stigmata of Rome, from bribery as a way of life, to nepotism as the oil that lubricates society. Which is not entirely compatible with modernity, and therefore means that Portugal isn’t one of your leading lights of technological creation and innovation.

Sarah Hoyt, “Water, Fish, Culture and Genes”, According to Hoyt, 2017-05-31.

June 13, 2017

Top 10 Stupid Moves of World War 1 – Mid 1915/1916 I THE GREAT WAR Ranking

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

Published on 12 Jun 2017

Generals of WW1 did a lot of stupid things, so many in fact that we made a second top 10 list to appeal to your inner armchair general.

Roger Courtney and a Watery Gamble – The Establishing of the SBS

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

Published on 4 Jun 2017

In this video:

Described by the BBC as the “Shadowy sister of the SAS”, The Special Boat Service (more commonly known as the SBS) is likely one of the most well-trained and elite special forces units around today that few in the world have ever heard of, despite performing countless harrowing missions, dozens of hostage rescues and more than its fair share of daring night time raids going all the way back to WWII when an officer by the name of Roger “Jumbo” Courtney risked a court-martial to demonstrate to his superiors just how valuable a unit like the SBS could be.

Want the text version?: http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2015/05/roger-courtney-establishing-special-boat-service/

June 12, 2017

Richard Hammond’s latest close call

Filed under: Europe, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

The BBC is reporting on an accident involving an electric supercar:

Former Top Gear host Richard Hammond has been flown to hospital after a crash while filming in Switzerland.

The 47-year-old was on a practice run for a race in an electric car for Amazon Prime show The Grand Tour.

Mr Hammond “climbed out of the car himself before the vehicle burst into flames”, the show said in a statement.

Co-host Jeremy Clarkson tweeted that it was the “most frightening” accident he had ever seen but said Mr Hammond, who fractured a knee, was “mostly OK”.

The show’s statement said Mr Hammond had been involved in a “serious crash” after completing the Hemberg Hill Climb in Switzerland, where a race takes place on Sunday.

He had been driving a “Rimac Concept One, an electric super car built in Croatia, during filming for The Grand Tour Season 2 on Amazon Prime, but very fortunately suffered no serious injury”.

Some video footage was released on the DriveTribe site:

And Hammond himself was able to speak from his hospital bed on Sunday:

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