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Total number of comments: 23 (since 2013-11-28 15:55:08)

Londo Mollari

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  • Enter the Bear: Does Russia plan air strikes on Daesh/ISIL in Syria?
    • Typo in your summary of Elaph news report: MiG-28 is a fictional aircraft in the 1986 film Top Gun (real Mikoyan fighters are designated with odd numbers).

      According to my computer translation of Elaph, Russia would like to sell MiG-29 fighters and Yak-130 advanced trainers to the Syrian Air Force, which has operated the MiG-29 since the 1980s. I suspect they will need to include pilots and ground crews to make that sale. If I had the skills to fly or maintain a fourth-generation jet fighter like the MiG-29, I would be long gone from Syria and working for Emirates SkyCargo (or frankly anyone including Yellow Cab).

  • Science Reveals Pluto -- (Why Can't we Trust it on Climate Change)?
  • Your Fourth of July and My Fourth of July
    • This is from a letter Jefferson wrote to James Madison, dated 28 October 1785, from Fontainebleau, France. Not too antiquated, I think.

      link to let.rug.nl

      "This is a village of about 15,000 inhabitants when the court is not here, and 20,000 when they are, occupying a valley through which runs a brook and on each side of it a ridge of small mountains, most of which are naked rock. The King comes here, in the fall always, to hunt. His court attend him, as do also the foreign diplomatic corps; but as this is not indispensably required and my finances do not admit the expense of a continued residence here, I propose to come occasionally to attend the King's levees, returning again to Paris, distant forty miles. This being the first trip, I set out yesterday morning to take a view of the place. For this purpose I shaped my course towards the highest of the mountains in sight, to the top of which was about a league.

      As soon as I had got clear of the town I fell in with a poor woman walking at the same rate with myself and going the same course. Wishing to know the condition of the laboring poor I entered into conversation with her, which I began by enquiries for the path which would lead me into the mountain: and thence proceeded to enquiries into her vocation, condition and circumstances. She told me she was a day laborer at 8 sous or 4d. sterling the day: that she had two children to maintain, and to pay a rent of 30 livres for her house (which would consume the hire of 75 days), that often she could no employment and of course was without bread. As we had walked together near a mile and she had so far served me as a guide, I gave her, on parting, 24 sous. She burst into tears of a gratitude which could perceive was unfeigned because she was unable to utter a word. She had probably never before received so great an aid. This little attendrissement, with the solitude of my walk, led me into a train of reflections on that unequal division of property which occasions the numberless instances of wretchedness which I had observed in this country and is to be observed all over Europe.

      The property of this country is absolutely concentrated in a very few hands, having revenues of from half a million of guineas a year downwards. These employ the flower of the country as servants, some of them having as many as 200 domestics, not laboring. They employ also a great number of manufacturers and tradesmen, and lastly the class of laboring husbandmen. But after all there comes the most numerous of all classes, that is, the poor who cannot find work. I asked myself what could be the reason so many should be permitted to beg who are willing to work, in a country where there is a very considerable proportion of uncultivated lands? These lands are undisturbed only for the sake of game. It should seem then that it must be because of the enormous wealth of the proprietors which places them above attention to the increase of their revenues by permitting these lands to be labored.

      I am conscious that an equal division of property is impracticable, but the consequences of this enormous inequality producing so much misery to the bulk of mankind, legislators cannot invent too many devices for subdividing property, only taking care to let their subdivisions go hand in hand with the natural affections of the human mind. The descent of property of every kind therefore to all the children, or to all the brothers and sisters, or other relations in equal degree, is a politic measure and a practicable one. Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions or property in geometrical progression as they rise.

      Whenever there are in any country uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right. The earth is given as a common stock for man to labor and live on. If for the encouragement of industry we allow it to be appropriated, we must take care that other employment be provided to those excluded from the appropriation. If we do not, the fundamental right to labor the earth returns to the unemployed. It is too soon yet in our country to say that every man who cannot find employment, but who can find uncultivated land, shall be at liberty to cultivate it, paying a moderate rent. But it is not too soon to provide by every possible means that as few as possible shall be without a little portion of land. The small landholders are the most precious part of a state."

  • Adelson Tabloid slams Obama for Listening to 'Court Jews' in Questioning Israel's Credibility
    • Having no wish to speak to Mr. Adelson, I went to Israel Hayom's web site and read the editorial "Obama's Jewish advisers are the problem" by Dr. Haim Shine. The "court Jews" he refers to were Jewish artists, intellectuals and financiers who served the autocrats of ancien régime Europe — for example, Queen Elizabeth I's physician Rodrigo López, whose involvement in in court politics led to his death and inspired Shakespeare's character Shylock.

      According to Dr. Shine, the biggest problem for these "court Jews" was proving they were loyal to their autocratic paymasters and not to their fellow Jews. That is Dr. Shine's sneaky way of dating modern Jewish nationalism back to the 16th century (although he might object and date it back to Abraham). Then he identifies these historical and fictional Jews with the movers and shakers in the American Jewish community who are not ardent Likudniks. When Iranian nukes rain down on Tel Aviv and anti-Semitic mobs rage through the streets of Bayonne, then they will wring their hands and cry like Shylock in the play, "O, my ducats! O, my daughter! Fled with a Christian! O, my Christian ducats!"

      Ludicrous as this historiography is, for personal reasons I found the following even more amusing:

      "Obama is no anti-Semite or anti-Israeli; the main problem is with his court Jews, who tell him the Israeli Right is dangerous because it will not buckle under pressure, and it would be better to have a Left-run government that would operate according to the instructions of heroes such as media mogul Haim Saban and former President Shimon Peres."

      In 1979 or 1980, Shimon Peres spoke at a public meeting in Skokie, Illinois, and took questions from the audience. I may be a year or two off, but I doubt it: he would have been too busy in 1981, and I cannot imagine him visiting us in 1978. One of the questions from the audience was about the plight of Palestinians in the occupied territories, the theft of land, etc. Mr. Peres drily replied "We are accustomed to hearing these questions from Communists" and proceeded to the next question.

  • 2015 Darwin Award: Paris would-be Church bomber Shoots own Leg, Calls 911
    • Americans do not shoot themselves in the leg.

      I have run a Google search on "man shoots himself in penis," and my random sampling of the 213,000 results found all the shooters to be Americans. Apparently we have a new national pastime, replacing baseball.

      I attribute this in part to the popularity of Glock pistols. If you jam a Glock under the waistband of your trousers, in so doing you release the trigger safety and prepare the pistol to fire. Glocks should be carried in a pistol case or in a hard shell holster designed for that model of Glock pistol.

      This accounts for a lot of self-inflicted wounds to the lower extremities, but not the prevalence of p-shots. I am at a loss to explain it. We are talking about a very small target and these are not skilled marksmen: but on refining my search, I found just one man who shot his testicles off while shopping at Lowe's, and that was five years ago.

  • How U.S. will monitor Iranian ships in Yemen
    • Our local TV weather reports have better "virtual reality" and my high school newspaper had better reporting.

      CNN's Tom Foreman: ". . . Look at the size of the forces we're talking about here. U.S. forces, about twelve U.S. naval ships and the Iranians, somewhere between seven and nine of their own Iranian vessels coming in here. And yet, even though this looks like a big standoff, Chris, you're saying that nobody here intends to shoot anything?"

      According to Navy Times, U.S. forces are a carrier strike group including the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, guided missile cruiser Normandy, amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima, amphibious transport dock New York, dock landing ship Fort McHenry, mine countermeasures ships Dextrous and Sentry, destroyers Forrest Sherman and Winston Churchill, and the Theodore Roosevelt's nine embarked squadrons of aircraft (65–70 planes).

      link to navytimes.com

      A carrier strike group is the largest operational unit of the United States Navy and comprises a principal element of U.S. power projection capability.

      According to Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren, the Iranian vessels are nine cargo ships.

      link to usatoday.com

      Since cargo ships are unarmed, it is safe to say that no one on the Iranian cargo ships intends to shoot anything.

  • Greenwald Partner falsely detained as Terrorist: How to Create a Dictatorship
    • I briefly discussed this issue with Rahm Emanuel, who had left the White House staff and was killing time as my congressman while waiting to run for mayor. Rahm was the first speaker at a D-Day celebration hosted by the American Legion, and he began his remarks with a 5-minute panegyric for that great American war hero Ronald Reagan. I approached him afterwards and asked "What was that nonsense about Reagan?" He surprised me with a courteous reply: "Didn't people love him? Wouldn't you like someone like that with more liberal social policies?" That was a new one to me. I mentioned it to my priest, who gave me a disgusted look and said "He was quoting Obama's book."

  • A Brief History of Typography (Animated Video)
    • There are too many historical errors to correct, except to say that everything historical is party or wholly incorrect. There are some who believe consistency is a virtue, but I am not one of them.

      John Baskerville (1706–1775) and Benjamin Franklin were good friends, and Franklin was Baskerville's guest at his home near Birmingham, Easy Hill.

      Baskerville's will and epitaph are interesting documents of these Enlightenment radicals. The conclusion of his will:

      "My further will & pleasure is and I Hereby Declare that the Device of Goods & Chattels as Above is upon this Express Condition that my Wife in Concert with my Executors do Cause my Body to be Buried in a Conical Building in my own premises, Heretofore used as a mill which I have lately Raised Higher and painted and in a vault which I have prepared for It. This Doubtless to many may appear a Whim perhaps It is so — But is a whim for many years Resolve'd upon as I have a Hearty Contempt for all Superstition the Farce of a Consecrated Ground the Irish Barbarism of Sure and Certain Hopes &c. I also consider Revelation as It is call'd Exclusive of the Scraps of Morality casually Intermixt with It to be the most Impudent Abuse of Common Sense which Ever was Invented to Befool Mankind. I Expect some shrewd Remark will be made on this my Declaration by the Ignorant & Bigoted who cannot Distinguish between Religion & Superstition and are Taught to Believe that morality (by which I understand all the Duties a man owes to God and his fellow Creatures) is not Sufficient to Entitle him to Divine favour with[out] professing to believe as they Call It Certain Absurd Doctrines & mysteries of which they have no more Conception than a Horse. This Morality Alone I profess to have been my Religion and the [Rule] of my Actions, to which I appeal how far my profession and practice have Been Consistent."

      His epitaph:

      "Stranger
      Beneath this Cone in Unconsecrated Ground
      A Friend to the Liberties of Mankind Directed his Body be Inhum'd
      May his Example Contribute to Emancipate thy Mind
      From the Idle Fears of Superstition
      And the Wicked Arts of Priesthood"

      Baskerville's printing plant was bought by Beaumarchais in 1779; his type was used to set a complete edition of Voltaire.

  • Dubai Promotional Video
    • The skyscraper was not invented in Singapore or Manhattan, but in the flattest of prairie flatlands, Chicago, in the last two decades of the 19th century. There are no natural barriers to expansion here except the lake to the east; and the further you go from the swampy city center, the more suitable the land is for building.

      The following is from chapter 3 of Carl W. Condit's The Chicago School of Architecture (University of Chicago Press, 1964).

      Many changes in the size, design, and construction of large urban buildings would have occurred whether the architects were capable of directing them or not. As we have seen, enormous pressures lay behind the whole building process. The architects and engineers had first of all to develop a new type of structure, the big office block of the crowded commercial area. The growing complexity of modern industry demanded concentrated administrative centers where large numbers of people could work at detailed and correlated tasks. The increasing centralization of the business process, along with other social and economic determinants arising from urban growth, led to an ever increasing intensity of land use. By 1880 in Chicago the price of land in the Loop district was $130,000 per quarter-acre. By 1890 it had risen to $900,000 per quarter-acre. Population growth continued to follow its rising curve: in 1870 it was 298,977; in 1880, 505,185; in 1890, 1,099,850. The total urban area expanded nearly six times, from 35.15 square miles in 1870 to 178.05 square miles in 1890.

      These conditions meant that the architect was no longer a free agent, molding the material of a building into a form expressive of his own spirit and feeling. He had a commission from society that he had to accept if he was to survive in his profession. . . .

      The general architectural achievement of the city and the social and economic situation out of which it came was summarized by Paul Bourget, a French visitor of the nineties who was not motivated by any great enthusiasm for things American.

      "At one moment you have around you only 'buildings.' They scale the sky with their eighteen, their twenty stories. The architect who has built them, or rather who has plotted them, has . . . frankly accepted the conditions imposed by the speculator; multiplying as many times as possible the value of the bit of ground at the base in multiplying the supposed offices. It is a problem capable of interesting only an engineer, one would suppose. Nothing of the kind. The simple force of need is such a principle of beauty, and these buildings so conspicuously manifest that need that in contemplating them you experience a singular emotion. The sketch appears here of a new kind of art, an art of democracy, made by the crowd and for the crowd, an art of science in which the certainties of natural laws give to audacities in appearance the most unbridled the tranquility of geometrical figures."

  • Two Kinds of anti-Muslim Racism in the Netherlands (Wertheim)
    • If I remember my French, alinéa means paragraph. Give the poor zhlub credit for reading three lines before he stopped.

      On the other hand, Alinea without the accent is an expensive Chicago restaurant which "deconstructs the food we are accustomed to." Perhaps he went to Alinea for the first time and paid $200 for lamb tajines and couscous. I would be upset too.

      I don't think you understand what Bart means by "subjective." He is so convinced of the profundity and truth of his assertions, that to him the only objective response must be agreement. It follows that when someone disagrees with him, there must be a "subjective" reason: for example, the motivation of an undisclosed self-interest.

      Many Jews in England and the Netherlands were Sephardim — if you can accept the word "many" for the minority of a minority — for example my own ancestors, who lived in both Amsterdam and London before reaching the New World. The oldest name we have found for these folks is Sabbagh, and so we guess they were originally from Tunisia.

      So this half-Jew, Anne-Ruth Wertheim, could very well be Moroccan herself. Hoohah! I'll bet you didn't think of that. I believe I deserve your thanks for teaching you how to think like the NSB.

  • The Worst Places to be a mother-- Save the Children
    • I wrote down these statistics a year ago for my cousin in Princeton, Indiana. Princeton is the home of Duke Energy's Gibson Generating Station, the world's third-largest coal power plant. They have lovely purple sunsets when they can see the sun.

      As I recall, I got these statistics from the World Health Organization's 2010 survey, updated in 2011. Unfortunately I did not send my cousin a link, and I don't have time to look for one today. I was going to stay out of this discussion, but your intelligent question deserves an answer.

      Deaths of infants under 1 year old per 1,000 live births (nations in ascending order):

      Less than 3: Finland, Japan, Sweden, Luxemburg, Iceland, Singapore. No part of the United States enjoys this level of public health.

      Less than 4: Austria, Israel, Belgium, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Norway. No part of the United States enjoys this level of public health.

      Less than 5: United Kingdom, Brunei, New Caledonia, Estonia, Australia, Greece, Cyprus, Portugal, Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark. This is comparable to Hawaii, Massachusetts and Washington state.

      Less than 6: Malta, Hungary, Canada, Cuba, New Zealand.

      Less than 7: United Arab Emirates, Belarus, Lithuania, Slovakia, Poland, Croatia.

      Less than 8: Malaysia, Latvia, Bahrain, Chile. Indiana scores below Chile.

      Less than 12: Qatar, Montenegro, Kuwait, Serbia, Russia, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Maldives Islands, Oman. This is comparable to Oklahoma and the deep South (excluding Florida).

      Want to know the ten sickest nations? The numbers in parenthesis are deaths of infants under 1 year old per 1,000 live births:

      Maii (101.35)
      Equatorial Guinea (102.45)
      Angola (104.3)
      Central African Republic (105.38)
      Somalia (106.67)

      Somalia is a failed state which has had no central government since 1991. From these statistics, the final five nations appear to be so radically misgoverned that they might be better off with no government at all.

      Sierra Leone (113.68)
      Democratic Republic of the Congo (115.81)
      Guinea-Bissau (118.70)
      Chad (131.17)
      Afghanistan (135.95)

  • "Argo" as Orientalism and why it Upsets Iranians
    • The SAVAK had a storefront office in Chicago at 6320 N. Western Avenue, just south of the old Nortown Theater where I saw Forbidden Planet as a child. I first noticed this office when I returned to the neighborhood in 1977; I do not know when it opened, but it was not there in the 1960s. The windows were painted black with "Iranian Student Association" painted in crude white letters, but it was not the Iranian Students Association in the United States (ISAUS) or the Confederation of Iranian Students, National Union (CISNU), which were well known at the time: it was in fact a SAVAK office. The front door was usually padlocked, but by living nearby I learned to recognize one of the agents.

      These fellows terrorized the Iranians in Chicago's Rogers Park, West Ridge and Edgewater neighborhoods, most of them students at Northwestern and Loyola Universities. Half of all Iranian college students studied abroad then, and there were many Iranian students here. The SAVAK would stalk, assault, and vandalize the property of anyone they identified as oppositional, which could be practically anyone since Mohammad Reza Pahlevi was loathed by most Iranians. The Chicago police would arrive an hour later, and they could never find a clue who the perpetrators might be: but if tires had been slashed and headlights smashed, sometimes they would write a hazardous vehicle ticket and call a tow truck. There would be a paragraph in The Rogers Park News, but rarely anything in the Sun-Times and never in the Tribune.

      I would like to thank Dr. Cole for his mini-review of Argo, a film I will probably miss. If I am going to see monsters from Hollywood's collective id, I prefer the one on Altair IV.

  • War of Logistics in N. Syria as Rebel Forces Close in on Aleppo Airport
    • Areo L-39ZA instead of MIG or Sukhoi is not world-historic news, but yes it really matters.

      According to John M. Guilfoil, writing in Air Cache 9 August 2012 when these aircraft were photographed bombing Aleppo:

      "The L-39ZA is very popular with developing nations as a cheap ground attacker. It is also used by Algeria, Bulgaria, Cambodia, the Czech Republic, Nigeria, Thailand and several other air forces around the world.

      This has to raise some questions about the capabilities of the Syrian Air Force. The L-39 is weakly armed compared to its Soviet-built jets. A single Mig-23 can carry twice as much weaponry as the L-39ZA. An Su-24 “Fencer” can carry six times more bombs and missiles than an L-39ZA.

      Syria is clearly having difficulty maintaining, arming, and using its more advanced Russian jets."

      link to air.blastmagazine.com

  • Anti-Mercury UN Minimata Convention Approved in Geneva: Impact on Coal?
    • One of the larger black holes in your map of mercury emissions is Gibson County, Indiana. My cousin lives in Princeton, the country seat, and I visit him when I need to lose weight. As in most of the rural Midwest, you cannot get a decent meal unless you grow the food and cook it yourself: their high-end dining spot is Bob Evans.

      Rural Gibson County, population 33,503, is among the top 10% of all counties in the United States for toxic chemicals released by factories, power plants, and other industrial sources. My cousin asked me to check the source of Princeton's orange sunsets and purple haze, and this is what I found in the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI), a public-access database maintained by the EPA.

      Gibson County Reported Environmental Releases from TRI Sources in 2002

      1) Gibson Generating Station: 10,322,650 pounds
      2) Toyota Motor Mfg. Indiana (TMMI): 266,571 pounds
      3) Somerville North Mine: 12,055 pounds
      4) Somerville Central Mine: 9,848 pounds
      5) Bridon America Corp: 3,591 pounds
      6) Black Beauty Coal Co. Francisco Mine: 1,980 pounds
      7) Hurst MFG: 40 pounds
      8) Hansen Corp: 12 pounds
      9) Mid-States Rubber Prods. INC: 10 pounds

      With a 2009 aggregate capacity among its five units of 3,750 megawatts, Gibson Generating Station is the largest power plant run by Duke Energy, the third-largest coal power plant in the world, and the ninth-largest electrical plant in the United States; and with the closure of Nanticoke Generating Station in 2014, it will become the largest coal power plant in North America by generated power.

      Toyota's TMMI plant outside Princeton builds all the Sienna mini-vans and Highlander SUVs for the U.S. market.

      Both Somervilles are surface coal mines, Black Beauty is underground.

      Bridon America makes steel cables which are mostly used in mining and oil drilling.

      Hurst and Hansen build electric motors.

      I told my cousin that if they closed Duke's generator and got 30 more auto plants, they would come out ahead.

  • Annals of Settler Colonialism (2) German Namibia #savagesunite
    • Thank you Professor Cole for your link to the BBC documentary "Namibia Genocide and the Second Reich" which I have watched in its entirety. BBC was silent on the British Empire's role in this tragic history. Jacob Morenga, the last and greatest leader of Namibian resistance, whom the Germans called "the Black Napoleon," was hunted down and killed by Cape Mounties in the Kalahari. This is from the article on German South-West Africa in the 11th edition Encyclopaedia Britannica:

      "In August 1907 renewed alarm was created by the escape of Morenga from British territory. The Cape government, regarding the chief as a political refugee, had refused to extradite him and he had been assigned a residence near Upington. This place he left early in August and, eluding the frontier guards, re-entered German territory. In September, however, he was again on the British side of the border. Meantime a force of the Cape Mounted Police under Major F.A.H. Eliott had been organized to effect his arrest. Summoned to surrender, Morenga fled into the Kalahari Desert. Eliott's force of sixty men pursued him through a waterless country, covering 8o m. in 24 hours. When overtaken (September 21st), Morenga, with ten followers, was holding a kopje and fired on the advancing troops. After a sharp engagement the chief and five of his men were killed, the British casualties being one killed and one wounded. The death of Morenga removed a serious obstacle to the complete pacification of the protectorate."

      The motive of this sudden decision to support their rival colonialists is shown in the 11th edition's article on German East Africa:

      "In August 1905 serious disturbances broke out among the Bantu tribes in the colony. The revolt was due largely to resentment against the restrictions enforced by the Germans in their efforts at civilization, including compulsory work on European plantations in certain districts. Moreover, it is stated that the Herero in rebellion in German South-west Africa sent word to the east coast natives to follow their example, an instance of the growing solidarity of the black races of Africa."

      The Times of London staffers who wrote these articles were journalists of great perspicuity and also great racists. This was their characterization of the Nama guerilla fighters:

      "Many of their leaders and numbers of the tribesmen had a considerable strain of white (chiefly Dutch) blood and were fairly educated men, with a knowledge not only of native, but European ways; facts which helped to make them formidable opponents."

      There is another echo of this tragic history in Rosa Luxemburg's letter to Mathilde Wurm, written 16 February 1917 from prison:

      "What do you want with the special suffering of the Jews? The poor victims of the rubber plantations in Putamayo, and the negroes in Africa with whose bodies the Europeans play football, are just as much my kin. Do you know these words from the General Staff's history of Trotha's campaign in the Kalahiri? '…And the death-rattles of the dying, the mad cries of those perishing of thirst, faded in the solemn silence of eternity.' O this 'solemn silence of eternity,' in which so many cries fade unheard: it echoes in me so deeply that I have no special corner in my heart for the ghetto. I feel the whole world is my home, wherever there are clouds and birds and human tears."

  • Cole's Opposition to Iraq War in January, 2003
    • Two of the Right's favorite places for slandering its opponents are Wikipedia and Amazon's book reviews. The issue is long-standing and well known, and it has never been addressed. Wikipedia is a reliable reference for trivia only: when I need to know about a 17 year-old computer game, it is the first place I look.

  • Save Homs with Humanitarian Airdrops by Drones
    • A General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper can carry 3,750 pounds, 800 in an internal bay and the rest on four underwing pylons. It is astonishing how large these aircraft have become: this drone is the size of a 1940 dive bomber, minus its human crew and their accommodations. Fifty seven Reapers have been built; they are operated by the US Air Force, US Customs and Border Protection, the RAF, and the Aeronautica Militare.

      The airlift of 1948–1949 had to supply Berlin, a city of 2 million, with 1,534 tons of food and 3,475 tons of coal and gasoline daily. After the first month, the C-47 and Avro York transports were replaced by a fleet of 225 C-54 Skymasters which delivered 5 thousand tons daily. The C-54 could carry 32,500 pounds of cargo. It was a robust four motor aircraft I remember with some fondness, having flown on its civilian version the DC-4 as a child.

      Homs, which had a population of 823,000 in 2008, requires 631 tons of food and 1,430 tons of coal and gasoline daily. A Berlin-style airlift could theoretically be accomplished by a fleet 850 or 900 Reaper drones. Since only 57 of these aircraft have been built, it is safe to say that the siege of Homs cannot be relieved by a drone airlift.

      All of this ignores the fact that in 1948 Berlin, while under blockade, was not a war zone. Nevertheless, these numbers have helped me to grasp the magnitude of today's humanitarian crisis.

  • Can Bookstores be Saved?
    • In July 2001, the Gesetz über Preisnachlässe (Discount and free gift law) of 25 November 1933, which banned all retail discounts of more than 3% in Germany, was finally repealed in all retail sales with the sole exception of the book trade. I believe the German tradition of consumer cooperatives is a more rational model than this National Socialist legislation, which inflates the prices paid by individual book buyers, without regulating the concessions which jobbers and chain stores extract from publishers.

  • White Terrorism
    • Thucydides, describing what happened when the Hellenes' Great War came home from the battlefields:

      "Words had to change their ordinary meaning and to take that which was now given them. Reckless audacity came to be considered the courage of a loyal ally; prudent hesitation, specious cowardice; moderation was held to be a cloak for unmanliness; ability to see all sides of a question, inaptness to act on any. Frantic violence became the attribute of manliness; cautious plotting, a justifiable means of self-defence. The advocate of extreme measures was always trustworthy; his opponent a man to be suspected. To succeed in a plot was to have a shrewd head, to divine a plot a still shrewder; but to try to provide against having to do either was to break up your party and to be afraid of your adversaries."

      History of the Peloponnesian War, Book III, 3.82-[4]

  • Republican Iott a Reenactor of SS Panzer Div. Wiking
    • No, if he was truly impressed with the military of a small country doing big things, it would be more appropriate for him to impersonate a soldier of the Quân Đội Nhân Dân Việt Nam, the People's Army of Vietnam.

  • Afghan Villagers Protest US Air Strike, as Ballot Fraud Evidence Surfaces
    • The link is broken to what I assume was an English translation of Der Spiegel's article "Probleme beim Partnering in Afghanistan." Here is my translation from Spiegel-ese:

      "DER SPIEGEL reports that NATO's new training scheme, in which international troops are to train Afghan security forces in the field, has suffered substantial setbacks in its initial phase. A joint American, German, and Afghan operation during Afghanistan's September 18 election had to be cancelled four hours before it was scheduled to begin, because the Afghan troops never showed up. In Operation White Eagle, a joint strike force was supposed to search for insurgent hideouts and prevent election-day attacks in the Taliban-controlled district west of the German base in Qunduz Province. Bundeswehr Operations Command later learned that Afghanistan's Defense Ministry had ordered its troops not to take part in the operation. Taohind III, this summer's joint operation with the Afghan army south of Qunduz, had to be ended ahead of schedule because 200 police promised by Kabul suddenly became unavailable. This so-called 'partnering' is a key element in NATO's new strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan."

  • Palin on the Ground Zero Mosque vs. the Founding Fathers
    • Sarah Palins "refudiate" is a portmanteau of repudiate and refute. In his day, Richard J. Daley entertained us with "insinuendos," a portmanteau of insinuate and innuendo. ("I resent the insinuendos.")

      "Portmanteau" was a coinage of Lewis Carroll, who created many odd words in this way: for example, "slithy" combining lithe and slimy, and "mimsy" combining miserable and flimsy. Carroll's portmanteaus reward us with language to describe slithy Sarah Palin and her mimsy lucubrations, while Palin's portmanteaus are only good for a belly laugh at her expense. That is because Carroll was a man of great wit and learning, and Palin is an ignoramus whose mind is on vacation while her mouth is working overtime.

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