03 September 2015

Egypt, 1958

A two-minute excerpt from a speech by Gamal Abdel Nasser in which he comments on (mocks) the Muslim Brotherhood regarding head coverings for women.  Note the genuine laughter from the audience.

How times have changed.

Some background:
Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein (1918 – 1970) was the second President of Egypt, serving from 1956 until his death. A leader of the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 against the monarchy, he introduced neutralist foreign policies during the Cold War, co-founding the international Non-Aligned Movement...

Nasser led the 1952 overthrow of the monarchy and introduced far-reaching land reforms the following year. Following a 1954 Muslim Brotherhood-led attempt on his life, he cracked down on the organization, put President Muhammad Naguib under house arrest, and assumed executive office, officially becoming president in June 1956...

Calls for pan-Arab unity under his leadership increased, culminating with the formation of the United Arab Republic with Syria (1958–1961). In 1962, Nasser began a series of major socialist measures and modernization reforms in Egypt...

Following Egypt's concessions to Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War, Nasser resigned, but he returned to office after popular demonstrations called for his reinstatement...

After the conclusion of the 1970 Arab League summit, Nasser suffered a heart attack and died.


An explanation of why%20urls%20are%20so%20weird.
"An East Texas man ended up in the hospital after he fired a gun at an armadillo and the bullet bounced off the animal’s back and hit the man in his face..."

A grim report on the abysmal quality of water that Olympic athletes in Rio will encounter.

Bullfighting in Colombia is on a downward spiral.  "...although cities such as Manizales can pack the house, nationally the industry cannot support itself."

Video of a transporter bridge.

"Scatt, clad in a white hard hat, bright orange t-shirt, and sturdy pants, is one of a dozen interns who have been chosen to spend the bulk of their summer learning how to spruce up mausoleums, monuments, and headstones at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. Recruited from trade schools, colleges, and social programs around the city, they are the first participants in the cemetery's Preservation Training Program, created in partnership with the World Monuments Fund. The 12 interns will receive nine weeks of training in the art of stonework restoration. "

An infographic about doughnuts.

Video of ISIS plundering an archaeological site.

A skier falls into a deep crevasse.

A table, probably in a pub, with a most unusual and creative design.

Cities can help put an end to puppy mills by mandating that pet stores can only sell rescue animals.

Remembering Frances Oldham Kelsey, the FDA scientist who kept thalidomide out of the United States.  "For a critical 19-month period, she fastidiously blocked its approval while drug company officials maligned her as a bureaucratic nitpicker."

A man in Washington, D.C. converted his storage unit into an apartment that he can rent out.  The Washington Post has an impressive gallery of photos.

Police in Bangladesh killed six tiger poachers.

Fortune magazine sees the imminent end of the cellphone contract era.

A $30 device will hack your car's electronics and unlock it.  "Kamkar’s device was used to successfully unlock cars made by Nissan, Cadillac, Ford, Toyota, Lotus, Volkswagen and Chrysler, and it also worked perfectly with a number of garage door openers, potentially giving the user access to a target’s home."

"According to the Defense Department’s annual “Base Structure Report” for fiscal year 2003, which itemizes foreign and domestic U.S. military real estate, the Pentagon currently owns or rents 702
overseas bases in about 130 countries and has another 6,000 bases in the United States and its territories."

Commentary and analysis of how/why Bernie Sanders is drawing huge numbers of people to his rallies.

Why "golf doesn't need the Olympics and the Olympics don't need golf."

Thoughts about Michelle Bachmann's belief in the imminent arrival of Biblical "end times" and its influence on her view of American foreign policy.

You have no time for this, but you will probably watch it all the way to the end anyway.

"Katie and her friends, it turns out, are guests at Camp Sundown, a charitable organization based in nearby Poughkeepsie. Run by Katie's parents, Dan and Caren Mahar, the summer camp brings together dozens of kids who suffer from xeroderma pigmentosum, a rare genetic disorder that renders sufferers unable to tolerate ultraviolet light."   What a marvelous idea.

Positions taken by the Republican presidential candidates on the subject of torture.

Little girl likes her grandpa better than her grandma.

More than you need to know about trucks on the highway transporting liquid aluminum.

"Always keep a safety pin on your key ring so you can fasten your keys to the inside of your pocket when you're worried about losing them (running, rollercoasters, etc.)"

A tattoo with black henna can cause painful and permanent scarring.

One person's list of the 100 best novels written in English.

An Alabama church has opened a gun range.  “This is an opportunity for us to reach out in the name of Jesus Christ in a setting that is completely unique. Even odd by some people’s standards. But who’s to say that church can’t happen right here...”

Gloom and doom scenario for world stock markets.

"The next time an annoying friend or relative attempts to argue that the Civil War was fought over anything other than slavery, here’s the definitive response delivered by Colonel Ty Seidule, a Professor of History at the United States Military Academy at West Point."

Napoleon was NOT SHORT.   "Confusion about his height also results from the difference between the French pouce and British inch—2.71 and 2.54 cm respectively; he was about 1.7 metres (5 ft 7 in) tall, which is above average for the period (for example, the average height of an English male was 165 cm.)"

The photos embedded today are of butterfly eggs, found in this gallery.  Credit for all to Jay Cossey.
Top to bottom:  Gulf Fritillary, Red Admiral, Monarch, Red-Spotted Purple, Bronze Copper, Question Mark, Cabbage White, and Giant Swallowtail.

02 September 2015

16: Moments

A video presentation from my second-favorite audio podcast creators: Radiolab.  I recommend immersing yourself via the fullscreen button.

Introducing Jeremy Corbyn

Few American voters may yet have heard of Jeremy Corbyn, the previously obscure British parliamentarian who is poised to become leader of the official Labour opposition to David Cameron’s government. But if they have been following the US presidential race, they may already understand the general idea.

Slap a beard on leftwing Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and make him as casual as a Romantic poet and you have a good approximation of the elderly radical across the Atlantic who is shaking the fragile pillars of the British establishment and could (at least in theory) become Queen Elizabeth’s next prime minister of the not-so United Kingdom...

To the amazement of pundits and politicians alike, Corbyn’s campaign took off in July much as Sanders’s own has done for the Democratic nomination. Despite being unfashionable democratic socialists, both men tapped a deep well of resentment against the mainstream political elite by people who feel patronised, neglected and left behind
The article from The Guardian excerpted above goes on to mention populist uprisings in France and Greece. There is also an analysis of Corbyn's rise at Salon.
Britain’s Labour Party is going through its own Bernie Sanders moment – except that it’s more like a Bernie Sanders moment on steroids and set to warp drive...

A longtime member of Parliament from North London who appears not to own a tie, Corbyn has spent his entire political career as a rebellious Labour “backbencher” – that is, he has never been part of the party leadership, nor held a government post when Labour had a majority...

 Like Sanders, Corbyn has long advocated for a rejection of austerity politics and a return to seemingly outmoded policies of ambitious social spending, government activism and higher taxes on big business and the rich. He has proposed universal childcare and free higher education for all, wants to renationalize Britain’s railroads and utilities, and believes the country should withdraw from NATO, scrap its nuclear missiles and invest most of its military budget in job programs...

If no one finds Corbyn’s politics so amusing anymore, there is an element of comedy in the Armageddon that Labour’s centrist establishment may have called down upon itself. In the interest of greater transparency and democracy, the party opened this year’s leadership election to anyone who registered online as a party supporter and pay a minimal fee – and the apparent result is a whole lot more democracy than they wanted. Ballots started going out this weekend to 610,000 or so Labour members and supporters – more than half of whom signed up during the current campaign and are highly likely to be Corbyn voters. Labour’s leadership underestimated the public appetite for candidates and ideas that lie outside the safe zone of neoliberal consensus politics, and is now likely to reap the whirlwind. It’s a lesson that will not be lost on political leadership castes around the world.
And  here's a related op-ed piece in The Spectator.

I would welcome informed opinion from some of the many TYWKIWDBI readers in the UK and EU.

Americans are buying flamethrowers

As reported by Ars Technica:
Business is skyrocketing higher than ever due to the discussion on prohibition," Chris Byars, the CEO of the Ion Productions Team based in Troy, Michigan, told Ars by e-mail. "I’m a huge supporter of personal freedom and personal responsibility. Own whatever you like, unless you use it in a manner that is harmful to another or other’s property. We’ve received a large amount of support from police, fire, our customers, and interested parties regarding keeping them legal."

Byars added that the company has sold 350 units at $900 each, including shipping, in recent weeks. That's in addition to the $150,000 the company raised on IndieGoGo.

The Ion product, known as the XM42, can shoot fire over 25 feet and has more than 35 seconds of burn time per tank of fuel. With a full tank of fuel, it weighs just 10 pounds...

Shockingly, there are no current federal regulations on the possession, manufacture, sale, or use of flamethrowers.

"These devices are not regulated as they do not qualify as firearms under the National Firearms Act," Corey Ray, a spokesman with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, told Ars by e-mail.
At the state level, California requires a permit while Maryland outright bans them—Ars is not aware of any other state-level regulation. The Inhumane Weapons Convention, which the United States signed in 1981, forbids "incendiary weapons," including flamethrowers. However, this document is only an agreement between nation-states and their militaries, and it did not foresee individual possession...

Mayor Fouts remains unconvinced.

"If our own military doesn't use it and it's been banned by the Geneva Convention then why would someone think this should be sold to the general public?" he added. "I think it's too risky to gamble with people's lives. I can't think of something more horrific than to burn somebody alive, and that's what this would do."
I'll refrain from any personal commentary; I'll just file it in the appropriate blog category.

CCC stonework in Alaska

It's been over a year since I've added any posts to the Civilian Conservation Corps category of this blog, in part because family circumstances have prevented me from doing the requisite exploration and photography.

Today I'm pleased to offer some photos submitted by reader AnneF, who on a trip to the Tongass National Forest in Juneau, Alaska, noted that the Skater's Cabin there was constructed by the CCC.
Skater’s Cabin Picnic Shelter is located on the shore of the southwest corner of Mendenhall Lake, near the Mendenhall Glacier. It is accessible from the Mendenhall Loop Road, approximately 6 miles from the Auke Bay Ferry Terminal, or approximately 13 miles from downtown Juneau. The cabin was constructed in 1936 by the Civilian Conservation Corps and is made with natural stone.
The amount of mortar between the stones would suggest that the young men doing the work were relatively inexperienced, or perhaps that the available local stone was granitic and not amenable to shaping to fit.  But the end result fits pleasingly into the natural landscape and has provided a welcome amenity to visitors for several generations already.

Thanks Anne!

Barbershop quartet championship performance

Never heard a barbership quartet?  You'll be pleasantly surprised...
"This Could Be the Start of Something" (generally known as "This Could Be the Start of Something Big") is a popular song by Steve Allen, published in 1956.

Originally, the song was written as part of the score for the 1954 television musical production of The Bachelor. This score earned Allen a Sylvania Award (awarded "For Outstanding Contribution to Creative Television Technique").

In 1956, "This Could be the Start of Something" replaced the original opening theme to Allen's NBC talk show, "Tonight Starring Steve Allen" until Allen left the show in 1957 to be replaced by Jack Paar.

31 August 2015

Artichoke flower time-lapse


Offered without comment.  Context at The Telegraph's gallery of MTV Video Music Awards pix.

Chinese military tactics

Cropped for size from the original at imgur.  Probably destined for Bad Newspaper.

This man would consider building a wall on the U.S.-Canadian border

When presidential aspirants try to mindlessly out-Trump Trump, it can lead them into ridiculous positions:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is putting a new twist on the topic of securing the border, a staple among the GOP candidates running for president, by pointing north.

Walker said in an interview that aired Sunday that building a wall along the country's northern border with Canada is a legitimate issue that merits further review...

Walker said some people in New Hampshire have asked the campaign about the topic.

"They raised some very legitimate concerns, including some law enforcement folks that brought that up to me at one of our town hall meetings about a week and a half ago. So that is a legitimate issue for us to look at," Walker said.
More details at the StarTribune.  I do hope this is the last post I write about Scott Walker.

There are many kinds of buried treasure

There has been a lot of media attention to the possible discovery of a Nazi gold train, but this more prosaic discovery also generated a lot of wealth for the finders:
A cache of Atari game cartridges, including copies of one of the worst video games ever made, have sold for more then $100,000 (£64,828) after being discovered in a landfill site in the desert.

The discovery of the games 200 miles south of Albuquerque, New Mexico last year confirmed an urban legend that Atari had dumped hundreds of games more than 30 years ago due to poor sales.

Over the last several months 881 of the games found have been sold on the internet to collectors, includng museums, in 14 countries. The highest price paid was for a copy of ET The Extra-Terrestrial that went for $1,535
More information at The Telegraph.  Stories like this never fail to remind me that when I was young (the 1950s), my family used to take its trash to the local landfill.  While there I would scramble around looking for discarded comic books.  There must be an incredible number of comics and other collectible ephemera still in near-pristine condition in that anaerobic environment (which undoubtedly now has a subdivision of homes on top of it).

29 August 2015

Abdul and his daughter

The photos above were posted on Twitter by Gissur Simonarson. They depict Abdul, a single father with two children, and his daughter Reem, who is four.  They are Palestinian Syrians from the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus.  He is selling pens in an effort to support his family.

The photographer was swamped with offers to help the family, so he set up an Indiegogo account for them, which has now raised over $100,000 in 2 days.

Discussed at the Uplifting News subreddit.

Gissur Simonarson's twitter feed is here.  Warning: contains graphic images of war, including battlefield casualties and bloodied and dead children.

Refugee family at Hungarian-Serbian border

One of the "best photos of the week" at the Washington Post

Photo credit Csaba Segesvari/AFP/Getty Images [cropped for size].

28 August 2015

"Traverse board" for navigating at sea

The rounded top of the board bore a painted 32-point compass pattern. Each point featured a line of eight holes radiating from the center of a circle. The lower, square portion of the board had horizontal lines of holes under columns that represented the speed of the ship in knots.

During each standard four-hour watch, the crew measured the ship’s speed and direction eight times, every half hour, and recorded them using pegs: direction under the appropriate compass point on the rounded top; speed along the bottom. After each watch, the navigator collected the data, logged it, plotted it on a chart, cleared the board, and then began the process again.
The boards were widely used throughout Europe and Scandinavia from the late 15th century until the mid-19th century.
More information at Hakai Magazine.

Photo credit: Gjalt Kemp Scheepsantiek/ships-antiques.com
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