Saturday, March 5, 2016

Cab Thought 3/5/16

 "Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke." - Will Rogers

Imperial Cruise by James Bradley follows a 1905 voyage of the liner Manchuria during which the first daughter, Alice Roosevelt, and the future President William Howard Taft, then Roosevelt’s secretary of ward visit countries in the Orient. He uses this to describe America's adventures in the East.  One topic is Theodore Roosevelt’s secret diplomacy with Japan and his encouragement of Japanese imperialism. (“I should like to see Japan have Korea,” he once declared.) It is a book that also addresses Roosevelt’s misconceptions about Korea, Hawaii, China and the Philippines. Mr. Bradley places critical emphasis on the dangerous American-Japanese relationship that, he says, Roosevelt helped create. It is full of awful stuff. “Shove in the nozzle deep and let him taste of liberty/Shouting the battle cry of freedom”  are lyrics  to “The Water Cure,” a vintage United States Army marching song about waterboarding Filipino prisoners at the turn of the century. Another chapter describes the means by which the idea of exporting suffrage and democracy to primitive societies needed to be adjusted for Hawaii, with its existing native monarch and vastly outnumbered white population. Bradley insists Roosevelt was wrong even in his brokering of the Portsmouth Treaty that ended the Russo-Japanese War and won him the Nobel Peace Prize as Roosevelt had a crude racial view of both the Slavs whom he disrespected and the Japanese whom he favored.
With sugar before it, and steel, coal and oil after, there was a time during the 1800s that cotton was the most important commodity on the globe, powered by breakthroughs in technology such as the jenny, the water frame, and Eli Whitney's cotton gin which alone increased productivity by a factor of fifty.
It is said that the U.S. was angry over Iran's testing of their surface-to-surface missile, the Emad, back in October. While not explicitly forbidden by the new treaty with the U.S., it is definitely a violation of U.N agreement. Here is a summary of the ludicrous U.S. decision-making in The Times, a description that is very funny despite the subject's seriousness:
The White House on Wednesday morning sent a notification to Congress that the Treasury Department would announce at 10:30 a.m. new sanctions on nearly a dozen companies and individuals in Iran, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates for their alleged role in developing Iran’s ballistic missile program. The sanctions would have been the first imposed on Iran since the nuclear agreement was reached last July in Vienna. 

The White House then sent a second email to congressional offices at 11:12 a.m. stating the sanctions announcement had been “delayed for a few hours,” according to a copy of the communications seen by The Wall Street Journal. 

In a final White House email sent just after 10 p.m., officials said the sanctions had been delayed, and didn’t specify when they might go ahead.

Feckless: adj: 1. lacking initiative or strength of character; irresponsible. ety: 1590s, from feck, "effect, value, vigor" (late 15c.), Scottish shortened form of effect (n.), + -less. Popularized by Carlyle, who left its opposite, feckful, in dialectal obscurity. Related: Fecklessly; fecklessness.
No believer in force truly respects his fellow-men.  He always slightly despises them, even while he serves them.  They tend to become for him mere material for carrying out his views.  His views may be honestly and sincerely held; they may be excellent in themselves; but when he uses force on their behalf he commits the capital mistake of exalting himself and his views into the first place, and of degrading his fellow-men, with an intelligence and conscience like and equal to his own, into the second place.  Thus it comes about that the user of force loses all hold on moral principles; he becomes a law, and a very defective law, to himself; and thus it comes about also that politics – which are simply the method of force – are in every country not only the battlefield of opposed fighters, but the hotbed of intrigue and corruption.--Auberon Herbert
Uncertainty rules science and modern art. Why is it the intellectual elite will accept uncertainty--even demand it--in everything except global warming studies?
China is having increasing troubles with revolts and riots among the ethnic minorities at the periphery of the country. The Muslim Uighurs, whose language is related to Turkish, are one such minority. Many are located in Kashgar, in the far western province of Xinjiang. The Uighurs started migrating to Kashgar from Mongolia in the ninth century A.D., long after the Chinese had been ejected from Central Asia by Arabs, who themselves had withdrawn not long afterward. The army of Genghis Khan captured Kashgar in the early thirteenth century. Later, Tamerlane (who, in 1370, claimed descent from Genghis) ruled there. Not until 1755 did the Chinese return. A Uighur rebellion broke out four years later and was savagely crushed by Manchu troops. Uighur-Chinese relations have been tense ever since. 'The Uighurs,' writes Fergus Bordewich in Cathay, 'look toward Mecca (and perhaps secretly to Ankara) for their identity, not to Beijing, and they regard the Chinese as interlopers; as recently as 1935, they [the Uighurs] massacred the city's [Kashgar's] entire population at a stroke.'
According to the fiercely conservative Mary Anastasia O'Grady, "One common charge is that migrants come to the U.S. to sponge off the welfare state. But the data are clear that work drives Mexican migration." (italics mine)

Who is...Fanny Burney?
Worry over the democracy in this country is old. John Hay, former per­sonal secretary to Abraham Lincoln and future secretary of state to William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, was criti­cal of American democracy in his 1884 novel, The Breadwinners. But he was cautious, refusing till death to acknowledge writing such a scathing attack on the practice, if not the principle, of popular government. Ditto Henry James.  While a descendent of Presidents and a famed author and statesman, he devoted an entire 1880 novel, straightforwardly called Democracy, to lam­pooning the habits of Americans in the political arena. Adams's politicians were venal and vulgar, his voters silly, stupid, or self-interested. Like Twain, Adams thought discretion the better part of critical valor and declined to put his name on his work; the secret of his authorship held for decades. In the North American Review in 1878, the historian and botanist Francis Parkman  described what he morosely called 'the failure of universal suffrage,' as limited as it was. He had hopes for education, writing  'Universal suf­frage is applicable only to those peoples, if such there are, who by character and training are prepared for it.'

Will on government "creationists:" "Presidential campaigns inflate expectations that power wielded from government’s pinnacle will invigorate the nation. Thus campaigns demonstrate that creationists threaten the creative ferment that produces social improvement. Not religious creationists, who are mistaken but inconsequential. It is secular creationists whose social costs are steep."
The most viewed file in the FBI’s online FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) Library—also known as the Vault—is what some believe to be a real life X-File. Known in more paranoid circles as the “Hottel Memo,” this officially filed UFO report has been accessed and viewed over a million times since it was uploaded in 2011. The memo was filed by FBI agent Guy Hottel, who was, at the time, the head of the Bureau's Washington Field Office. His report relays an account said to have been given by an Air Force investigator who claimed to have recovered a trio of flying saucers, with crew intact.
According to some debunkers, the report, disseminated up the chain of command, originated from a mid-century con man named Silas Newton. Going by the FBI’s own files on Newton, he was behind various cons, such as claiming to have seen crashed UFOs, and peddling a contraption that could locate underground oil deposits (known as a “doodlebug”).
Vertigo is a false signal. Fluid in the semi-circular canals does not normally react to gravity. However, the crystals loosened by trauma or age in the canals do move with gravity, thereby moving the fluid when it normally would be still. When the fluid moves, nerve endings in the canal are excited and send a message to the brain that the head is moving, even though it isn’t. This false information does not match with what the other ear is sensing, with what the eyes are seeing, or with what the muscles and joints are doing, and this mismatched information is perceived by the brain as a spinning sensation, or vertigo, which normally lasts less than one minute.

"It is impossible to walk rapidly and be unhappy." - Dr. Howard Murphy 
The latter half of the 1800s in America was called "The Gilded Age," to use Mark Twain's famed designation for the period.  Immediately after the Civil War, the U.S. became the world's largest economy, and in the ensuing decades went from merely the largest to a nation whose economy was overwhelmingly dominant. In fact, by the dawn of the twentieth century, the U.S. had become almost as large economically as England, Germany and France combined.

It is estimated that the single “White Christmas” by Irving Berlin is the best selling single of all time, with over 100 million sales worldwide. In Irving Berlin’s 1954 musical “White Christmas” the story line was that it was 70 degrees in New Hampshire on Christmas eve and no snow. That was why they were “Dreaming of a White Christmas.” Christmas Eve 1955 was much warmer. Three fourths of the country was over 60 degrees, and Ashland Kansas,  Geary Oklahoma and Encinal Texas were all over 90 degrees.
Hester Thrale discovered that anonymous author of Evelina which was the talk of London had been penned by the daughter of the music teacher she employed. Mrs. Thrale noted that she was from "a low race of mortals," but she enjoyed and promoted the book. The author was Fanny Burney. A lot of praise for her four novels, especially the first two, Evelina (1778) and Cecilia (1782), has come her was since. She is "the mother of English fiction" (Woolf).  As "the originator of the simple novel of home life," she is forerunner to and an influence on Jane Austen; her talent for storytelling is "not easily to be matched among English novelists"; her abundance and ability in caricature is "surpassed by Dickens only"; she has "the eye of the lynx" for the poser and the boor, and beside her lively creations "the figures of Smollett seem little better than stuffed birds in a museum."
The first use of the word ‘defriend’ in the Oxford English Dictionary is from 2004. In contrast, the first use of the word ‘befriend’ goes all the way to 1559. It took us another 100 years to ‘unfriend’ someone -- 1659. The verb ‘to friend’ goes way back to 1225. Finally, the noun ‘friend’ is attested in Old English (c. 450-1150).]

The Pirates continue to play Modernist baseball, that it minimalism with an emphasis on self realization and no judgment. They now have two legit starters, three number five starters and no four, five or six hitters. The Cubs have a similar problem in a way: They have eight number three hitters. I do have a solution. And it might help our other problem, the Penguins. The Pens lost several night ago and their radio color guy, Phil Borque, almost cried. I exaggerate not. This team is having a nervous breakdown and I have no idea what is going on. Crosby is 88th in league scoring. So, my plan. In a silly PR move a few years ago the Pirates brought Crosby in before a game and he took a few pitches. He hit the first one into the right field stands. Hand-eye is hand-eye. So we put Crosby at first.
During the final years of World War I, Eric Ludendorff, a protege of Otto von Bismarck himself, was the commanding general of all German armies. His grandiose military plans had failed repeatedly, he had presided over ten million casualties, and in 1918 his forces had begun to rapidly disintegrate. Then his favorite step-son, Eric, was shot down and killed. He and his wife began to brood. The general of all the German armies became clinically and hopelessly depressed.

AAAaaaaannnnndddddddd.......a portrait of an 8th-century Uyghur Khagan:

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