Arguing from authority – by making up the authority

I’ve noticed a rash of spurious “quotations” from famous people in recent weeks, focusing on the debate about the Second Amendment and gun “rights”, but also spreading to encompass almost every aspect of individual liberties and freedoms.  It troubles me that people aren’t taking the time to verify the sources they cite so glibly;  and it troubles me even more that many of those sources are imaginary, to a greater or lesser extent.  The individuals named as sources never said what they’re alleged to have said, rendering spurious any arguments based on those quotations. Here, for example, is something Thomas Jefferson never said –

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Tough tuggers

Old Salt Blog informs us that the 27th Annual Great North River Tugboat Race was held in New York City last weekend.  Here are three video clips filmed from Vinik No. 6, the 49-year-old winner of the tug race this year. First, the opening parade of tugboats old and new: Next, the tugboat race: And finally, the pushing contest, where the tugs take on each other head-to-head: Looks like a good time was had by all, with lots of friends, family and tourists riding along on the boats for the day. Peter

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In the history of shopping, Amazon.com isn’t as new as it seems

Being an immigrant, I wasn’t as familiar with US economic history as I was with that of other countries and regions.  Therefore, I found this article, comparing Amazon.com with a much earlier vendor, very interesting. The history of US consumerism starts with the Sears Roebuck mail order catalog. Yes, the very same Sears that is struggling to emerge from bankruptcy today. But 125 years ago the company was every bit the disruptive innovator. A brief summary of how that happened: Mail order became viable in the late 1800s because of the expansion of the US rail system, post office regulations that allowed for

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Robert Mugabe’s death: too late to undo the damage he caused

I can’t help feeling at least some pleasure at the news that Robert Mugabe, former dictator of Zimbabwe, has shuffled off this mortal coil.  He was personally responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of his people, and transformed Zimbabwe from a flourishing economy, the breadbasket of Africa, to a famine-stricken wreck of a country.  As former Rhodesians were wont to say cynically, “People used to come to Rhodesia to see the Zimbabwe Ruins.  Now they come to Zimbabwe to see the ruins of Rhodesia.”  That was, overwhelmingly, Mugabe’s doing. My friend Lawdog has written a less restrained farewell to Robert Mugabe.  He doesn’t mince

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Interesting anti-missile tactic – sacrificial helicopters!

The Aviationist highlights a recent video from Russia, and points out that it’s a tactic they developed in Afghanistan that’s still in use. The Russian Ministry of Defense has released an interesting video of an Il-76MD cargo aircraft landing on an unpaved runway located near Sol-Iletsk, Orenburg Region, during a technical support exercise (MTO) of the Russian Federation Armed Forces in the Central Military District. . . . What makes the video particularly interesting is the fact that the Il-76 was escorted by two Mi-24 helicopters during the landing and subsequent takeoff from the dirt strip runway, a tactic reminiscent of the operations conducted by the

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“Treason doth never prosper” – British edition

John Harington, a well-known Elizabethan courtier and writer, famously (and cynically) noted: Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason? Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason. It’s hard to see what happened yesterday in Britain’s Parliament as anything short of treason, in the sense that it was a deliberate, widespread disregard of the will of the British people, clearly expressed in a referendum, by professional politicians who were (and are) certain that they know better than those who elected them.  In doing so, they abdicated their role as representatives of the people, and – in so many words – arrogated to themselves the

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How many of you remember this “two-faced” car?

I was amused to come across a photo essay about the Zundapp Janus, a German “bubble car” from the late 1950’s. The Roman legendary god Janus, for whom it was named, had two faces, one looking ahead to the future, and one behind to the past.  The car had two doors, one in front of the driver, the other behind the rear seat.  The two seats faced forward and aft, with the engine between them.  The car was terribly underpowered, able to reach only about 50 mph (probably downhill, with a following wind), and had very little interior space if filled with its maximum

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A century of scheduled international air travel

Last week saw a milestone:  the centenary of scheduled international air travel. In a year that marks so many important aviation anniversaries, the month of August has possibly the most significant of them all. For on 25 August 1919, a small British-built biplane took off from heathland close to where London Heathrow is today, beginning the first-ever daily international passenger air service. . . . While other passenger air services had been flown before, aviation historians point to the Aircraft Transport and Travel (AT&T) operation between Hounslow Heath and Le Bourget as the true beginning of international flights, as it marked

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The Z Man sums up the 2020 elections

in his usual inimitable style. The 2020 campaign promises to be Trump running around the country telling his fans about all the winning, while Warren runs around wagging her bony finger at them, telling them about how she has been wronged. It will be the cad versus the nag, largely a fight among white people about how best to go into that dark night. On the one side will be Trump nostalgic for a lost America. On the other will be Warren, haunted by an America that never was. Two characters from a soon to be forgotten past. Neither side will

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