Quotulatiousness

September 26, 2017

To mark the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution … sorta #TheDeathOfStalin

Filed under: History, Humour, Media, Russia — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Entertainment One UK
Published on 11 Aug 2017

In Cinemas Oct 20.

The internal political landscape of 1950’s Soviet Russia takes on darkly comic form in a new film by Emmy award-winning and Oscar-nominated writer/director Armando Iannucci.

In the days following Stalin’s collapse, his core team of ministers tussle for control; some want positive change in the Soviet Union, others have more sinister motives. Their one common trait? They’re all just desperately trying to remain alive.

A film that combines comedy, drama, pathos and political manoeuvring, The Death of Stalin is a Quad and Main Journey production, directed by Armando Iannucci, and produced by Yann Zenou, Kevin Loader, Nicolas Duval Assakovsky, and Laurent Zeitoun. The script is written by Iannucci, David Schneider and Ian Martin, with additional material by Peter Fellows.

#TheDeathOfStalin
www.deathofstalin.co.uk

QotD: Maxims 1-10 of Maximally Effective Mercenaries

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

1. Pillage, then burn.
2. A Sergeant in motion outranks a Lieutenant who doesn’t know what’s going on.
3. An ordnance technician at a dead run outranks everybody.
4. Close air support covereth a multitude of sins.
5. Close air support and friendly fire should be easier to tell apart.
6. If violence wasn’t your last resort, you failed to resort to enough of it.
7. If the food is good enough, the grunts will stop complaining about the incoming fire.
8. Mockery and derision have their place. Usually, it’s on the far side of the airlock.
9. Never turn your back on an enemy.
10. Sometimes the only way out is through … through the hull.

Howard Tayler, quoted by Rodney M. Bliss in “New Maxims Revealed For The First Time”, Rodney M. Bliss, 2015-12-18.

September 24, 2017

We Read Hillary’s Book So You Don’t Have To

Filed under: Books, Humour, Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

ReasonTV
Published on 22 Sep 2017

Hillary Clinton’s new book What Happened attempts to explain Trump’s upset victory in 2016 through a series of reasons which are not Hillary Clinton.

September 14, 2017

The art of leadership and other secrets

Filed under: Humour, Military — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

In Taki’s Magazine, Steve Sailer remembers the late Jerry Pournelle, including a helpful leadership tip he once shared:

I didn’t meet Jerry until 1999, but I’d known his son Alex in high school. The Pournelle family asked me to go with them to Kansas City in August 1976 to the science-fiction convention at which Heinlein, the central American sci-fi writer of the 20th century, received his lifetime achievement award. (But I had to be at college that week.)

But Jerry, one of the great Southern California Cold Warriors, had a remarkable number of careers, starting as a teenage artillery officer during the Korean War, which deafened him in one ear. (At the lunch table, he’d choose his seat carefully to position his one remaining good ear next to his guest.)

He once recalled a question from the Army Officer Candidate School test:

    Q. You are in charge of a detail of 11 men and a sergeant. There is a 25-foot flagpole lying on the sandy, brush-covered ground. You are to erect the pole. What is your first order?

The right answer is:

    A. “Sergeant, erect that flagpole.”?

In other words, if the sergeant knows how to do it, then there’s no need for you to risk your dignity as an officer and a gentleman by issuing some potentially ludicrous order about how to erect the flagpole. And if the sergeant doesn’t know either, well, he’ll probably order a corporal to do it, and so forth down the chain of command. But by the time the problem comes back up to you, it will be well established that nobody else has any more idea than you do.

He also quotes Dave Barry’s breakdown of Pournelle’s monthly columns for Byte magazine:

In 1977 Jerry paid $12,000 to have a state-of-the-art personal computer assembled for him, supposedly to boost his productivity. By 1980 that led to his long-running “Chaos Manor” column in Byte magazine in which he would document his troubles on the bleeding edge of PC technology. As fellow word-processing aficionado Dave Barry explained jealously, Jerry got paid to mess around with his computers when he should be writing:

    Every month, his column has basically the same plot, which is:

    1. Jerry tries to make some seemingly simple change to one of his computers, such as connect it to a new printer.

    2. Everything goes hideously wrong…. Sometimes there are massive power outages all over the West Coast. Poor Jerry spends days trying to get everything straightened out.

    3. Finally…Jerry gets his computer working again approximately the way it used to, and he writes several thousand words about it for ‘Byte.’

    I swear it’s virtually the same plot, month after month, and yet it’s a popular column in a magazine that appeals primarily to knowledgeable computer people.

I like to imagine Steve Jobs circulating “Chaos Manor” columns to his executives with scribbled annotations suggesting that some people would pay good money to not have to go through all this.

What Is The Funniest Language? – Stephen Fry’s Planet Word – BBC

Filed under: History, Humour, Religion — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 24 May 2015

Stephen Fry looks at what he thinks is the funniest language along with comedians Stewie Stone and Ari Teman. Taken from Fry’s Planet Word.

September 13, 2017

Our Amazing Debt (Cosmos Parody)

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

Published on 12 Sep 2017

The math behind the National Debt is so complex that Reason TV decided to lean on “Cosmos” to explain it.
—-
We are about to begin a journey beyond ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity. Join me, as we explore: Our Amazing Debt

We are all made of star stuff. And in America, we are all born more than $61 thousand in debt.

The collective debt we owe as a country now stands at $20 trillion, a level of debt unfathomable to our contemptible caveman ancestors.

How can we comprehend the sheer magnitude of the national debt? With our starship of imagination.

This is the USS Dumbitdownforme and it cost $12 billion to construct: all financed through debt. We didn’t have the money to build it and we didn’t want to raise taxes to pay for it, but we really wanted it. So, like a fiscal wormhole, we’ve used debt to puncture the reality of financial constraints, connecting what we want now to even more money we promise to pay later.

$20 Trillion is not just a lot of money, it’s all the money, and then some.

If we could round up all the US currency in existence–every dollar bill, every quarter, every penny–we’d still need another $18 trillion. All the gold that has ever been mined couldn’t even cover half of our debt.

Yet our story doesn’t end here.

Like our ever-expanding universe our debt is constantly growing larger. This year we will pay more than $250 billion on interest payments. Not the debt, just the fee for borrowing money.

Much as cosmic expansion will inevitably lead to the heat death of our own universe, the debt, too, is unsustainable. As nature seeks balance, so to will our creditors.

Will the government gut spending? Defund entitlements? Devalue our currency?

One day, perhaps in our lifetime, we will discover the answers and reach the limit of our amazing debt. But for now we can only behold this awesome force that binds all Americans, bewitching us with the fascinating possibility, that maybe, just maybe, we’re all f***ed.

Written and produced by Austin Bragg, Meredith Bragg, and Andrew Heaton. Edited by Austin Bragg.

September 8, 2017

QotD: Never ask where writers get their inspiration

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

My Dark Age adventure, Shieldwall: Barbarians! is Young Adult, meaning, in this case, Sharpe or Conan but without the shagging, and with slightly more moral compass — really you can read it as being “in the tradition of” Harold Lamb and the Pulpmeisters of Yore and ignore the YA tag. When I wrote it, I had in my head “Robert E Howard does Rosemary Sutcliff (but not that way (though they would have made a lovely couple))”.

M Harold Page, Shieldwall: Barbarians! Writing and self-publishing an old school boy’s young officer story set in Attila’s invasion”, Charlie’s Diary, 2015-06-03.

September 7, 2017

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.

September 4, 2017

How to Pronounce UK Place Names – Anglophenia Ep 23

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

Published on 21 Jan 2015

Anglophenia’s Siobhan Thompson teaches Science Friction’s Rusty Ward — and the rest of America — how to pronounce difficult British place names.

Learn how to pronounce even more British place names here: http://www.bbcamerica.com/anglophenia/2014/01/pronounce-deliberately-offputting-british-place-names/

Visit the Anglophenia blog: http://www.bbcamerica.com/anglophenia

August 24, 2017

The Story of Western Philosophy

Filed under: Education, Europe, History, Humour — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 26 May 2017

Relevant mystery link: https://youtu.be/myc7eHGg5y4
If you notice any factual errors in this week’s video, please just bear in mind that life is ultimately meaningless in the first place.

August 23, 2017

Playing with fire – James May Q&A Extras (Ep36) – Head Squeeze

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

Published on 30 Aug 2013

James May reminisces about his misspent youth playing with matches and debates the merits of using foam to put out flames from petrol.

QotD: “Beer”

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

“Lager” is an inherently ambiguous word these days. It can mean “wonderful, full-bodied, malty, highly hopped beer aged for weeks,” or it can mean “soap-flavored water for pussies who are frightened by actual beer.” In other words “American beer.”

“Steve H.” Little Tiny Lies, 2004-09-30. Originally posted on the old blog 2004-10-01 (no longer online).

August 21, 2017

Solar Eclipse: Republicans, Democrats, & Libertarians React!

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

Published on 20 Aug 2017

How are Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, reacting to tomorrow’s solar eclipse?

With the mixture of denial and panic that they bring to virtually every issue, from regulations to crime to climate change.

Fortunately, there is a third way, one grounded in rational debate, respect for the limits and power of science, and sound policy.

For links and info, go to https://reason.com/reasontv/2017/08/20/solar-eclipse-denialism-and-alarmism

Script and editing by Sarah Rose Siskind.

Starring Andrew Heaton, Sarah Rose Siskind, and Jim Epstein.

Produced by Andrew Heaton and Sarah Rose Siskind.

August 20, 2017

QotD: The rich

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

During his visit to the U.S., the pope will probably talk about income inequality, and many reporters will nod approvingly, write down the quotes, and then hand them off to the unpaid intern to be transcribed. It’s a big issue. An important one. In the view of many progressives, the ultra-super-rich extracted all their money from the poor. Think of Bill Gates in a homeless shelter, kicking over cots at 2 a.m. and blackjacking transients, demanding they fork over $49.99 for a Windows 95 license, and you get the idea. The ultra-rich have probably pooled their money to develop space-based matter-dematerialization beams just so they can transport the coins from the “have a penny, take a penny” trays at the gas station.

The “rich” are never people like the Clintons, who acquired their wealth by the sweat of their brows, toiling in the harsh icy policy-mines of Davos. They’re not the guys who make a bundle off some clever bit of tech, sell the company, then pledge to spend a fraction of their fortune on outfitting polar bears with inflatable vests to help them survive their imminent inundation in the boiling waters of the Arctic. They’re not people like John Kerry, who married his way into a pile of money derived from a ubiquitous condiment; they’re not people like Apple CEO Tim Cook, because c’mon, he’s gay. They’re not the Kennedys, because the Kennedys could strike oil on their Hyannis Port compound, pay African orphans a dollar a day to work the pumps by hand, build a pipeline that ran through a protected Monarch-butterfly preserve, and the media would still hang halos over their heads because JFK was martyred in Dallas by a free-floating toxic cloud of right-wing hatred that inhabited the brain of a well-meaning Marxist.

These are rich people, but they’re good rich people, because you can imagine any one of them writing a check to Planned Parenthood with the words “keep up the excellent mammograms” in the memo line.

No, the bad rich people are hedge-fund managers, people who inherited something, and well-paid CEOs of companies that make things we don’t like or resent having to pay too much to get. They need to be taxed good and hard, according to advocates of the confiscatory state such as the nimbus-haired Bernie Sanders. Nothing says “the future and its bright new ideas” like the image of a liver-spotted limb thrusting deep into someone else’s pocket and pulling out the guts of a golden goose. Sanders’s proposals were estimated to cost $18 trillion over ten years, an amusing projection — apparently after a decade the economy just seizes up and we’re reduced to paying for our bread with chickens or bits of ironmongery.

James Lileks, “It’s Time to Fix America’s Income-Inequality Crisis Once and for All!”, National Review, 2015-09-24.

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