29 May 2009

Without Comment

(thanks to this blog)

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28 May 2009

The last 9/11 rescue dog

There were four specially trained dogs that were used in rescue efforts at the World Trade Center on September 11. The last survivor of those four, Kenji, has terminal cancer. Here's his story.

As his handler says, you always know your partner is only going to last 10 or 12 years.

the other three died of cancer too.

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English as a legal language

There is a column by Jawed Naqvi in Dawn newspaper of Pakistan that focuses on what the writer believes is the latest piece of obstructionism in the investigation of the terrorist attack on Mumbai:

If Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has read any of these [Marathi] writers, it must be in Urdu or English, the two languages we know he knows.

It is highly unlikely that Home Minister P. Chidambaram, whose mother tongue is Tamil, would be able to read the Marathi or even the Hindi version of any of the fabled writers. His English is good though.

Given the inherent difficulties of dealing with diverse languages, it is baffling that authorities in Pakistan have been asked to decode Hindi and Marathi, the two languages in which India has given them Ajmal Kasab’s confession about his involvement, and that of his other Pakistani accomplices, in the November terror attack on Mumbai.

Pakistan requires the statement in Urdu or English if its judges are to proceed against the few suspects rounded up for the heinous act.

That's right. He angry that the Indian authorities didn't have the decency to use ... English. Apparently that would be much better than having to wade through Marathi or worse, admitting that a speaker of Urdu might be able to stumble through something written in Hindi.

He then calls for a solution:
Which means the confusion created by a surfeit of languages the subcontinent is gifted with must be overcome. This is a bold measure that could only be predicated on political will. A new lingua franca of peace is required, one that can be readily understood and accepted across the region – from Kathmandu to Colombo from the Chittagong Hill Tracts to the Panjshir Valley via Jaffna, Kashmir, Nagaland and Swat through Kandahar and Quetta.

Notice that he doesn't say what this language ought to be. There's always Esperanto though.

The Anglophone world becomes stronger every day.

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Mutant Labor

Ever wonder why all those mutants in the comic books and movies never seem able to simply get a normal job and excel at it?

Fortunately someone is on it.

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A question just occurred to me while I wrote that last post. Could a libertarian be seen as a type of anarchist?

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Right and Left - it's how you feel

Nicolas Kristoff has an odd little column on the mental peculiarities of people who strongly identify as 'Liberal' or 'Conservative' in politics. It seems there are some basic personality traits for both types. I am not yet sure what I think of this, but it is interesting.

Studies suggest that conservatives are more often distressed by actions that seem disrespectful of authority, such as slapping Dad. Liberals don’t worry as long as Dad has given permission.

Likewise, conservatives are more likely than liberals to sense contamination or perceive disgust. People who would be disgusted to find that they had accidentally sipped from an acquaintance’s drink are more likely to identify as conservatives.

The upshot is that liberals and conservatives don’t just think differently, they also feel differently. This may even be a result, in part, of divergent neural responses.

I actually display some elements of the conservative type, yet most conservatives find me too left wing, in a wishy-washy sort of way. My ailing colleague Trotsky thinks I am an anarchist at heart. So I would be an anarchist who respects authority. I see myself sort of floating around not so much in the middle but at the margins of both. Very much the way I am about handedness. I am a lefty who does many things right handed without giving it any thought.

though there was that unfortunate incident with the iron designed for right handers the first time I ever attempted to iron my own clothes. Stupid iron.

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27 May 2009

Banks in Canada

Over on the Washington Post today Steven Pearlstein has done a Q & A with the public (for his column referred to in much of the discussion, click here). Someone asked him how the Canadian banking system seemed to be in so much better health than the American. His reply:
The Canadians have a more logical regulatory structure, as I understand it. They also have more respect for civil servants and government in general, and bank regulators in particular -- the Canadian public, for some reason I never understood, gets very agitated when banks make too much profit. Kind of a populist thing from the prairie. But what's also at work is that their banks are simply more conservatively run and haven't got caught up in the kind of silly and dangerous competition that the big American banks have.

The Canadian Way. I always thought it was much like the Minnesota Way until Minnesotans decided their distinctive heritage could be safely relegated to "The Prairie Home Companion" and joined the national culture.

alas poor Anoka.

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24 May 2009

Geography and Personality

The folks subbing for Andrew Sullivan have a series of maps showing the distribution of the "Five Big Personality Types." Take a look at them. The area for the "Conscientious" types seems to run right through this area. In fact, I think the neighbors across the street fall into the Conscientious zone while my side of the street - not so much.

The really interesting thing though is to look at the area of New York city. Folks there are the least Agreeable, the least Conscientious, the least Extroverted, but the most Open to New Experiences, and the most Neurotic.

Go ahead. Tell me you are surprised.

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Without Comment

23 May 2009

Christian missionaries at work.

According to Wikipedia, there is a new concept out there called "the 10/40 Window". Better let the article speak for itself (though the emphasis is mine).
The 10/40 Window is a term coined by Christian missionary strategist Luis Bush in 1990[1] [2] to refer those regions of the eastern hemisphere located between 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator, a general area that in 1990 was purported to have the highest level of socioeconomic challenges [3] [4] and least access to the Christian message and Christian resources [5] [6] [7] on the planet.

This quite explicitly includes Portugal and Greece.

As one of my fellow Mediev-L commentators said, "I hear that the NT hasn't been translated into Greek!" I'm sure they are working on it even as I type.

Well, at least they let Italy off the hook Jack. Spain too, apparently, so Carmen's ancestral home is safe.

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Without Comment

20 May 2009

Personal note

Even though the semester is over, and I feel as if a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders, I have been ignoring my blogs. Last night though I took a short cruise through Jack's site, and the Claws lair (he's back to blogging again).

I thought it might prime the pump and get me blogging again.

well, it could happen.


Bad day for Dr Who

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16 May 2009

The Lord Acton quote

Almost everyone, especially historians, has heard ad nauseum Lord Acton's quote "“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

What I didn't know until today when I read a column by Charles Blow that the next line to this quote, the part almost always dropped, is "Great men are almost always bad men.”

Now why is that part usually left out? Is it just too awkward to tack on, or does it make the quote too long and less striking?

Or is it because we all have our "great men" we want to admire?

great men like Vlad the Impaler? Or Ivan the Terrible? Your own personal choice?

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15 May 2009

1066 and all that.

British TV, Channel 4, has produced a film epic of "1066: The battle for Middle Earth." Judging from the trailer, it may be very good. It attempts to tell the story from the POV of some of the less important participants.

now if I could just figure out how to get Channel 4.

Update: members of Mediev-L who have now seen it tore it to shreds. The costumes were not accurate, and the less said about the 'medieval' fighting styles the better. Oh well. At least it sounded promising.

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09 May 2009

Medieval Internet term: the Monkey

You know that little "@" sign that has become so important to our way of life? At least on the Internet. It was invented in the Middle Ages, as I learn today from my Medieval nerd chatline. Here is the quote:

Internet Star @ Least 473 Years Old

Because it is used in every e-mail address and many tweets, you might
be forgiven for thinking that the remarkably common symbol @, which
English-speakers know as the “at sign,” but Italians call a “snail,”
and south Slavs know as a “monkey,” is a fairly recent invention. In
fact, as Wired magazine’s Tony Long points out, a Florentine merchant
named Francesco Lapi used the symbol @ in a letter written 473 years
ago today, on May 4, 1536.

There is nothing new under the Sun.

thanks to Paul Halsall for the info.

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07 May 2009

Political role model?

Things are looking up for late medieval Wallachian warlords. One of the most ferocious of them, Vlad Tepes, fresh from his success inspiring Bram Stoker's Dracula, has now emerged as a new low bar for American politicians in a recent column by Gail Collins:
(Can we point out here that when 51 percent of the public tells pollsters that they would rather have Spitzer as governor than the current incumbent, David Paterson, that is not the same as saying they would like Spitzer to come back? You could probably get 51 percent of the voters to say they would rather have Vlad the Impaler than David Paterson. Or at least 30.)

Personally, I think it would be 51%. After all, Vlad is seen as a hero by at least some Romanians.

they even made a movie about him, explaining why they called him "The Impaler."

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03 May 2009

Medieval Writing Desk

I want one.
(courtesy of Katie Clark of Oxford via Mediev-L)

Inadvertent truth

Sometimes headline writers get carried away and blurt out more truth, or more humor, than is advisable. Here's the headline from NRO's article by Andrew McCarthy:

Saying No to Justice.

Is that NROs stance on justice?

thought so.

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02 May 2009

Gail Collins and the Democrats

Doesn't seem to admire them much. Here is what she describes trying to unite and lead them:
Cats I could envision all going in one direction if there was a little herring-flavored incentive at the end of the line. Herding rabid guinea pigs in a thunderstorm, maybe.

I like that image. The party of the rabid guinea pigs. I wonder if Toles in the Washington Post will take it up. The donkey image has about served its purpose. And she asks:
But my big question is how long the Democrats can refrain from becoming appalling.

rabid guinea pigs. I love new terms

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01 May 2009

The biggest political party !

That would be the Utterly Disaffected, aka The Independents. Trending upwards in fact, while the Repubs and Demos fall steadily. The entire political class has to go. I can feel the wind behind the sails for our Balls Bluff Campaign already.

(thanks to Pew Research, via Talking Points Memo)

UPDATE: I just went back and reread Jack's last comment - I think we are both on to something if this chart is meaningful.

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