The great inversion: “deplorables” versus intellectuals

Eric S. Raymond wrote a very thought-provoking article a few weeks ago, analyzing how socialist and Marxist ideology has moved its support base from workers to intellectuals in both the UK and the USA.  Here are a few excerpts. There’s a political trend I have been privately thinking of as “the Great Inversion”. It has been visible since about the end of World War II in the U.S., Great Britain, and much of Western Europe, gradually gaining steam and going into high gear in the late 1970s. . . . To understand the Great Inversion, we have to start by remembering what

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The radioactive tanks of Chernobyl

There’s a fascinating article at Firearms News titled “The Radioactive ISU-152“.  It describes how some of the biggest, heaviest tanks of World War II returned to the scene of one of their victories, four decades later, to act as saviors rather than destroyers. The SU/ISU-152 was designed specifically to be a part of both the shock and breakthrough elements of the Soviet Deep Battle doctrine. The KV heavy tank chassis would provide the base for the massive ML-20S, a portable version of the standard 152mm howitzer in service. The gun had a range of 10km for indirect fire but was reduced to less

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Kidney stones: a follow-up report

In May last year, I wrote about two over-the-counter, non-prescription “remedies” for kidney stones that I’d been trying out.  I reported considerable success with them at the time, and I’ve continued to use them since then.  I’ve also experimented with different dosages. I’m pleased to report that for the past eight months, I’ve been kidney-stone-free.  That’s a huge improvement for me compared to earlier, when I was passing a kidney stone every two to three months, and experiencing considerable pain associated with them.  In particular, I’ve narrowed down my dosage to two capsules every morning (half the recommended dose of two capsules morning

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“What would happen in an apocalyptic blackout

That’s the question asked by the BBC in a very interesting analysis of how dependent we are on electricity for our very survival in urban areas.  It looks at Venezuela’s real-life experience of prolonged blackouts, and extrapolates from that to the situation in most major cities.  Here’s an excerpt to show you the scale of the problem. In our modern world, almost everything, from our financial systems to our communication networks, are utterly reliant upon electricity. Other critical infrastructure like water supplies and our sewer systems rely upon electric powered pumps to keep them running. With no power, fuel pumps at petrol

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A chemical reaction leads to a very big bang

Back in September, the chemical tanker Stolt Groenland experienced a massive explosion in Ulsan, South Korea.  This clip was taken by the dashcam video of a vehicle parked rather too close to the big bang. An initial investigation has revealed it was caused by a chemical reaction. According to the MAIB’s interim report, released today, the explosion occurred due to the sudden build-up of pressure in the Stolt Groenland’s number 9 cargo tank containing styrene monomer, a highly flammable chemical used in the making of plastics, paints and synthetic rubber. The resulting explosions and fireball could be seen and heard for miles, and passed very close to

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A nifty, low-cost camper van conversion

I’ve long wanted a travel trailer or small camper, something Miss D. and I can use for weekend getaways, or even for a week or longer.  However, it’s been financially impossible for us, and looks like it’ll be that way for some time. Nevertheless, I keep my eyes open for good ideas in that area.  I was struck by this article about a low-cost conversion of a 2017 Ram cargo van.  It’s filled with interesting touches and useful ideas, as well as lots of photographs.  Here’s an excerpt. When we bought her, our immediate thought was to hire professionals to build it for us

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Gun violence, race and culture

A fascinating article at Medium examines the map of suicides and homicides in America involving guns, and comes to some conclusions that are sure to be controversial – but the author seems to make a good case.  Here’s a very brief excerpt from a long and detailed article, that you really should read in full (the maps are essential to understanding the author’s case).  Bold, underlined text is my emphasis. We hear a lot of banter from the “anti-gun” media that these problems are gun problems, and they’ve concocted this “gun deaths” number in order to lump these into the same problem

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There’s something fishy going on here

I had no idea that the United States was the largest producer of farmed Caspian-Sea-origin beluga caviar in the world!  The New York Post reports: Caviar prices are plummeting — but if you want the best price, you might want to find a dealer. . . . Even if you don’t have a special connection, caviar is becoming more accessible than ever. Wholesale prices in the US have plunged more than 50 percent since 2012, from $850,000 per ton to $350,000 per ton last year, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. At the same time, US caviar consumption is

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Ever heard of “khinkali”? Suddenly, I’m hungry

I’ve had dumplings in many and varied forms, from the American standby of chicken and dumplings (the latter not being “dumplings” at all in the classic sense, but simply dough cooked in the chicken sauce), to Chinese dumplings (and their closely related cousin, potstickers), to variations of the theme in many countries.  I’ve enjoyed most of them. However, until I came across this article, I’d never heard of “khinkali“, a dumpling claimed as a native dish by Georgia. At the height of summer, Tbilisi is a heat trap. Ringed on three sides by an amphitheatre of mountains, the Georgian capital sits in a valley where stifling, humid air collects.

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80 years of MiG fighters

The aircraft design bureau headed by Artem Mikoyan and Mikhail Gurevich, which has gone down in history by the amalgamation of the first letters of their last names as MiG, was formed on December 8th, 1939 – 80 years ago, plus a few days.  Today it’s the “Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG” division of United Aircraft Corporation of Russia, and is still going strong. To celebrate the anniversary, the company produced this short video highlighting several of its most famous designs, from the MiG-1 and MiG-3 fighters of World War II, to the MiG-15 that terrorized Allied aircraft during the Korean War, to the MiG-17, –19 and –21 of the Vietnam War era, to the MiG-29 that

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