22 January 2017

Dossier

I have probably never before reposted anything from another source in toto here.  My policy is to excerpt and refer the reader to the source material.  I'll make an exception today in order to transcribe the totality of an item in the January 22 issue of Harper's Magazine.  The information presented is not new - all of it has been published in readily available sources and most of it is well-known to the American (and world) public.  But the compact and comprehensive presentation here is just overwhelming.
Donald J. Trump, a reality-television star erecting a mausoleum for himself behind the first-hole tee of a golf course he owns in New Jersey, first declared his candidacy for president of the United States in the atrium of Trump Tower, which he built in the 1980s with labor provided by hundreds of undocumented Polish workers and concrete purchased at an inflated price from the Gambino and Genovese crime families. “The American dream is dead,” Trump said to the audience members, each of whom he paid $50 to attend. During Trump’s primary campaign, he told his supporters that he knew “all about crazies,” loved “Wall Street guys” who are “brutal,” planned to “use the word ‘anchor baby,’ ” and preferred to pronounce “Qatar” incorrectly. Trump, who in 1999 cut his sick infant grandnephew off the Trump Organization’s health-care plan and in 2011 compared being gay to switching to a long-handled golf putter, pledged to repeal the Affordable Care Act and said he’d consider trying to overturn the legalization of same-sex marriage. Trump said that his book The Art of the Deal was second in quality only to the Bible and that he never explicitly asked God for forgiveness. At a church in Iowa, he placed a few dollar bills into a bowl filled with sacramental bread, which he has referred to as “my little cracker.” Trump, who once dumped a glass of wine on a journalist who wrote a story he didn’t like, told his supporters that journalists were “liars,” the “lowest form of humanity,” and “enemies,” but that he did not approve of killing them. “I’m a very sane person,” said Trump, who once hosted a radio show in which he discussed the development of hair-cloning technology, the creation of a vaccine for obesity, the number of men a gay man thinks about having sex with on his morning commute, and the dangers of giving free Viagra to rapists. Trump denied being the voice of John Miller, one of several fictional assistants he had previously admitted pretending to be, in a recording of himself telling a reporter that he had “zero interest” in dating Madonna; that he had three other girlfriends in addition to Marla Maples, with whom he had been cheating on his wife; and that he had an affair with Carla Bruni, who later responded by describing Trump as “obviously a lunatic.” Trump, who once offered the city of New York vacant apartments in his building to house homeless people in hopes they would drive away rent-controlled tenants, sent a bumper sticker to a group of homeless veterans whom he had previously declined to help and asked them to campaign for him. Trump, whose companies have been cited 24 times since 2005 for failing to pay workers overtime or minimum wage, said the federal minimum wage should go up, and then said it should not. Trump referred to 9/11 as “7-Eleven,” and called Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren “the Indian” and “Pocahontas.” Trump, who had previously labeled a deaf contestant on his reality-TV show The Apprentice “retarded,” and had described poor Americans as “morons,” said the country was on course for a “very massive recession,” one resembling the U.S. recession of 2007 to 2009, which Trump once said Americans could “opt out of” by joining Trump Network, a multilevel-marketing company that sold a monthly supply of multivitamins purportedly tailored to customers based on a test of their urine. Trump submitted his financial-disclosure form to the Federal Election Commission, on which he swore under oath that his golf course in Briarcliff Manor, New York, which was being sued by the town for causing flooding, was worth $50 million, despite having sworn in a previous property-tax appeal that it was worth $1.4 million; and swore that his golf course in Palos Verdes, California, which he was suing for five times its annual revenue, was worth more than $50 million, despite previously having filed papers with Los Angeles County stating it was worth $10 million. Trump claimed he made $1.9 million from his modeling agency, which a foreign-born former model accused of “modern-day slavery,” alleging that the agency forced her to lie about her age, work without a U.S. visa, and live in a crowded apartment for which she paid the agency as much as $1,600 a month to sleep in a bed beneath a window through which a homeless man once urinated on her. Trump sought to exclude a recording of himself telling the nephew of former president George W. Bush that he grabs women “by the pussy” from a fraud suit filed against Trump University, a series of real-estate seminars taught by salespeople with no real-estate experience, which was housed in a Trump-owned building that the Securities and Exchange Commission said also housed the country’s most complained-about unregistered brokerages, and whose curriculum investigators in Texas described as “inapplicable.” Trump announced that he would win the Latino vote, and tweeted a photo of himself eating a taco bowl from Trump Grill in Trump Tower with the message “I love Hispanics!” Trump referred to a black man at one of his rallies as “my African American,” and pledged his support for black people at a gathering of mostly white people in Wisconsin, whom he often referred to as “the forgotten people.” “I am the least racist person,” said Trump, who was sued twice by the Justice Department in the 1970s for allegedly refusing to rent apartments to black tenants, whose Trump Plaza Hotel was fined $200,000 by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission in 1992 for removing black dealers from card tables, who allegedly told a former employee that he hated “black guys counting my money,” who in 2005 floated the idea of pitting an all-black Apprentice team against an all-white one to reflect “our very vicious world,” and who was endorsed by leaders of the Ku Klux Klan, one of whom said, “What he believes, we believe.” Trump tweeted statistics credited to a fictional government agency falsely claiming that the majority of white murder victims in the United States are killed by black people. Trump tweeted a photoshopped picture of Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, who Trump had said “had blood coming out of her wherever,” standing next to a Saudi prince, who tweeted back that he had “financially rescued” Trump twice, including once in 1990, when the prince purchased Trump’s 281-foot yacht, which was formerly owned by a Saudi arms dealer with whom Trump often partied in Atlantic City, and with whom Trump was implicated in a tax-evasion scheme involving a Fifth Avenue jewelry store. Trump disputed former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s claim that Trump magazine is defunct, showing as proof an annual circular for his clubs that was not Trump magazine, which folded in 2009. Trump republished his book Crippled America with the title Great Again. Trump told and retold an apocryphal story about a U.S. general who executed Muslim soldiers with bullets dipped in pig’s blood and proposed that Muslims be banned from entering the country. At the first primary debate, Trump praised his companies’ bankruptcies, including that of Trump Entertainment Resorts, in which lenders lost more than $1 billion and 1,100 employees lost their jobs, and that of Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts, a publicly traded company that Trump used to purchase two casinos for almost $1 billion, and from which he resigned after the company went bankrupt for the first time, but before it went bankrupt for the second time. “I made a lot of money,” said Trump. At the fifth primary debate, Trump defended the idea of retaliating against America’s foreign aggressors by killing non-combatant members of their families, saying it would “make people think.” At the eleventh primary debate, Trump told the crowd there was “no problem” with the size of his penis. Trump said that he knew more about the Islamic State than “the generals,” and that he would “rely on the generals” to defeat the Islamic State. Trump said he would bring back waterboarding and torture because “we have to beat the savages.” Trump offered to pay the legal bills of anyone who assaulted protesters at his rallies, denied making the offer, then made the offer again after a 78-year-old white supporter in North Carolina punched a 26-year-old black protester in the eye and said, “Next time we see him we might have to kill him.” Trump, who in 1999 called Republicans too “crazy right” and in 2000 ran on a Reform Party platform that included creating a lottery to fund U.S. spy training, said that the 2016 primaries were “rigged,” then clinched the Republican nomination for president, receiving more votes than any Republican in history. “I was the one who really broke the glass ceiling,” said Trump when his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, became the first woman to lead a major party’s ticket. Trump hired Steve Bannon, the editor of the white-nationalist website Breitbart, to replace his former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who ran a firm that once lobbied for the military dictator of Zaire, and who himself replaced Corey Lewandowski, who resigned from the campaign not long after he was filmed grabbing a Breitbart reporter by the arm to prevent her from asking Trump any questions. Trump selected as his running mate Indiana governor Mike Pence, who previously backed a bill that would allow hospitals to deny care to critically ill pregnant women, and who once criticized the Disney character Mulan as a “mischievous liberal” created to persuade Americans that women should be allowed to hold combat positions in the military. In his general-election campaign, Trump said he would consider recognizing Crimea as Russian territory, and called on Russia to hack into Clinton’s email account. Trump said that he doesn’t pay employees who don’t “do a good job,” after a review of the more than 3,500 lawsuits filed against Trump found that he has been accused of stiffing a painter and a dishwasher in Florida, a glass company in New Jersey, dozens of hourly hospitality workers, and some of the lawyers who represented him. “I’m a fighter,” said Trump, who body-slammed the WWE chairman at WrestleMania 23 in 2007, and who attended WrestleMania IV with Robert LiButti, an Atlantic City gambler with alleged mafia ties, who told Trump he’d “fucking pull your balls from your legs” if Trump didn’t stop trying to seduce his daughter. Trump, whose first wife, Ivana, accused him in divorce filings of rape, and whose special counsel later said rape within a marriage was not possible, said “no one respects women more than I do.” Trump threatened to sue 12 women who accused him of sexual misconduct, including one who recalled Trump trying “like an octopus” to put his hand up her skirt on an airplane 35 years ago; four former Miss Teen USA contestants, who alleged that Trump entered their dressing room while girls as young as 15 were changing and said, “I’ve seen it all before”; the winner of Miss Utah USA in 1997, who alleged that Trump forcibly kissed her on the lips and then told her, “Twenty-one is too old”; an adult-film star, who alleged that at a golf tournament in Tahoe in 2006 Trump offered her $10,000 and the private use of his jet to spend the night with him; and a People magazine reporter, who alleged that while she was writing a story on Trump and his current wife, Melania, on the occasion of their first wedding anniversary, Trump pushed her against the wall and forcibly kissed her before telling her, “We’re going to have an affair.” “What I say is what I say,” said Trump, who previously told a pair of 14-year-old girls that he would date them in a couple of years, said of a 10-year-old girl that he would date her in 10 years, told a journalist that he wasn’t sure whether his infant daughter Tiffany would have nice breasts, told the cast of The View that if Ivanka weren’t his daughter “perhaps I would be dating her,” told radio host Howard Stern that it was okay to call Ivanka a “piece of ass” and that he could have “nailed” Princess Diana, and tweeted that a former winner of his Miss Universe pageant, whom Trump once called “Miss Piggy,” was disgusting. “Check out sex tape,” tweeted Trump, who once appeared in a soft-core pornographic film breaking a bottle of wine over a limousine. Trump did not comment on reports that he used over $200,000 in charitable contributions to the Trump Foundation to settle lawsuits against his businesses, $20,000 in contributions to the Trump Foundation to buy a six-foot-tall painting of himself, and $10,000 in contributions to buy a smaller painting of himself, which he hung on the wall of his restaurant Champions Bar and Grill. “I’m the cleanest guy there is,” said Trump, who once granted the rights to explore building Trump-branded towers in Moscow to a mobster convicted of stabbing a man in the face with the stem of margarita glass, who was mentored by the former lead counsel for Senator Joseph McCarthy and the Gambino and Genovese crime families, who once purchased a nightclub in Atlantic City from a hit man for a Philadelphia crime family, who once worked with a soldier in the Colombo crime family to outfit Trump Golden and Executive Series limousines with a fax machine and a liquor dispenser, and who once purchased helicopter services from a cigarette-boat racer named Joseph Weichselbaum, who was charged with drug trafficking in Ohio before being moved to Trump’s sister’s courtroom in New Jersey, where the case was handed off to a different judge, who gave Weichselbaum a three-year prison sentence, of which he served 18 months before moving into Trump Tower. Trump told journalists he “made a lot of money” when he leased his house in Westchester to the late Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi. “I screwed him,” said Trump. Trump, who in 2013 said that he did “have a relationship” with Vladimir Putin, said in 2016, “I don’t know Putin.” Trump, who wrote in 1997 that concern over asbestos was a mob conspiracy, who in the 1990s spent $1 million in ads to bolster the theory that a Native American tribe in upstate New York had been infiltrated by the mafia and drug traffickers, who once implied that Barack Obama’s real name is Barry Soetoro and that he won reelection by making a secret deal with Saudi Arabia, and who in 2012 tweeted that global warming was a “hoax” created by “the Chinese” to weaken U.S. manufacturing, suggested to his supporters that the Islamic State paid the phone bills of Syrian refugees, that his primary opponent Ted Cruz’s Cuban father was involved in a conspiracy to kill President John F. Kennedy, and that U.S. Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia may have been suffocated with a pillow. During the first debate of the general election, Trump said that Rosie O’Donnell had deserved it when he called her “disgusting both inside and out,” “basically a disaster,” a “slob,” and a “loser,” someone who “looks bad,” “sounds bad,” has a “fat, ugly face,” and “talks like a truck driver.” At the second general-election debate, Trump invited three women who have accused Clinton’s husband of sexual misconduct to sit in the front row; claimed that Clinton had once laughed about the rape of a 12-year-old girl, which audio showed not to be true; claimed that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had endorsed him, which it had not; and afterward suggested that his opponent had been on drugs during the debate. Trump, who said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose supporters, told his supporters that Clinton could shoot one of them and not be prosecuted. Trump told the audience at a Catholic charity dinner that Clinton “hates Catholics,” and told his supporters that she is “the devil” and that Mexico was “getting ready to attack.” Trump, who once kept a collection of Adolf Hitler’s speeches at his bedside, told his supporters that the election was “rigged” against him, won the election despite losing the popular vote by a margin of almost 3 million, claimed that he had in fact won the popular vote, and then announced that he would be staying on as executive producer of The Celebrity Apprentice on NBC, which a year earlier had fired him because he called Mexicans “rapists.” “Our country,” said Trump at a victory rally, “is in trouble.”
I've had a subscription to Harper's for over 20 years.  You can subscribe here.

First humans in North America


One of the most popular posts in the history of TYWKIWDBI was "New evidence supports/denies the "Solutrean hypothesis" (30,000 views,  over 100 comments).   We'll revisit the topic now with excerpts from a report in Science News Journal:
Until now, it was believed that the earliest settlement date of North America was 14,000 years ago. This figure has now been demonstrated to have been 10,000 years earlier. The first entry of humans into North America across the Bering Strait is now estimated at 24,000 Before Present (BP), and happened at the height of the last ice age or Last Glacial Maximum...

Ariane Burke, a professor in Université de Montréal’s Department of Anthropology, and her doctoral student Lauriane Bourgeon, with the contribution of Dr. Thomas Higham, Deputy Director of Oxford University’s Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, has demonstrated this beyond any doubt. Archaeologist Jacques Cinq-Mars excavated the Bluefish Caves, located on the banks of the Bluefish River in northern Yukon near the Alaska border, between 1977 and 1987. Artifacts from these caves were used by the researchers to make their discovery. They made the hypothesis that human settlement in the region dated as far back as 30,000 BP based on radiocarbon dating of animal bones...

To obtain accurate data, Bourgeon examined approximately 36,000 bone fragments that had been removed from the site and preserved at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau. This was a huge undertaking and it took her two years to complete. Undeniable traces of human activity in 15 of the bones was revealed...

Burke notes that a series of straight, V-shaped lines found on the surface of the bones were made by stone tools when animals were skinned. She added that the cut marks were indisputably created by humans...

The bones were submitted for further radiocarbon dating by Bourgeon. A horse mandible, which was identified as the oldest fragment, showed the marks of a stone tool that was probably used to remove the tongue. This piece was radiocarbon dated at 19,650 years, which is equivalent to between 23,000 and 24,000 calibrated years Before Present. 
More at the link.

"Mechanically stabilized earth" is more interesting than it sounds


With a tip of the blogging hat/helmet to reader Platoni.

19 January 2017

A possible way to stop Donald Trump on Friday



It's worth a try...

From the archives of The New Yorker.

Record low water levels in Venice


As Venice works on the €5.4 billion 'Mose' floodgate to counteract the eventual effects of rising sea levels, they face an interim problem of record low water levels.
The exceptionally water levels have been caused by abnormal tides this year, combined with drastically reduced winter precipitation rates across northeastern Italy... The drop in water levels has prevented some of the city's gondolas and vaporetti, or water buses, from navigating in some of the smaller canals. On Christmas Eve, the low tide even grounded the mayor's speedboat.
The low water is exposing the city's less attractive underside: garbage and crumbling infrastructure.  And I'll bet it's fragrant:
Historically, all waste produced by humans have been dumped into the canals although larger buildings are required to carry some kind of sewage treatment before dumping the filthy stuff into the canals. Some palazzos have their own septic tanks but there is always a certain amount of leakage, lending Venice its characteristic and at times overpowering stench.
The scavenger in me, however, imagines the excellent opportunity for mudlarking.


Think of the generations of artifacts that have been lost into the canals, the wedding rings tossed away, the rings and brooches.  But it looks like mostly forks.

Related: Mudlarking and Love tokens retrieved from the mud of the Thames.

Very interesting construction - updated


This photograph was in "Death on the Hippie Trail," about events in rural parts of India and Nepal.  What most interested me was the structure the boys are leaning against (click photo for larger image).

What I initially thought was a wall appears instead to be some type of pillar supporting a larger structure above.  It appears to have been constructed using a combination of huge timber beams and large rocks.  My guess is that the wood component provides a flexibility and shock-absorption that a purely-stone structure could not offer.  The design has probably been empirically arrived at by multiple generations of stonemasons in an earthquake-prone area.

I think I have blogged something like this before, but at the moment I can't find the old post.

Addendum:  Still can't find my old post (if it exists), but I'll offer a tip of the blogging cap to reader RolandT for providing a link about murus gallicus ("Gallic wall"), as described by Julius Caesar:
Straight beams, connected lengthwise and two feet distant from each other at equal intervals, are placed together on the ground; these are morticed on the inside, and covered with plenty of earth. But the intervals which we have mentioned, are closed up in front by large stones... each row of beams is kept firmly in its place by a row of stones. In this manner the whole wall is consolidated, until the regular height of the wall be completed.
... it possesses great advantages as regards utility and the defence of cities; for the stone protects it from fire, and the wood from the battering ram, since it [the wood] being morticed in the inside with rows of beams, generally forty feet each in length, can neither be broken through nor torn asunder.
Here's a replica of a Gallic wall in Manching, Bavaria (photo credit Wolfgang Sauber):


I believe the image I embedded at the top is an example of Indian kath knuni architecture, best described in detail at this pdf and this slideshow.


Note the wood and stone are assembled without the use of any mortar.  Impressive.

17 January 2017

Nose in a book


From the archives of The New Yorker.

Kate McCormick (1854-1875)

Kate McCormick
Seduced and pregnant by her father's friend
Unwed, she died from abortion, her only choice.
Abandoned in life and death by family.
With but a single rose from her mother.
Buried only through the kindness of unknown benefactors.
 Died Feb.1875 [sic] age 21.
Victim of an unforgiving society
Have mercy on us. 
Res ipsa loquitur.  Details at Amusing (!) Planet.

Why books sometimes have blank pages at the front or back

Two explanations from the Explain Like I'm Five subreddit:
"Imagine I took a standard piece of paper. I could fold it into 4 pieces, then cut the top and bottom a bit, staple it, and have a small book. This is called a signature. They can be as small as 4 pages, or much larger. A book is typically made up of several signatures.

The result is, I can take two 4 page signatures and make an 8 page book, but I have no way to make a 9 page book. If I add one page, I have no way to attach it. You can imagine if I stick the page in and just glue the end, it will easily fall out. I might be forced to make it fit in a 7 page book, or maybe print a 12 page book with some blank pages (some print methods can use 2 page signatures).

The short answer is that when making books its usually easiest to make them a certain way, and blank pages may be the result. A children's book might be 30 pages, but the publisher finds that one 32 page signature is the cheapest method of production. So they might add something to the pages, or maybe they leave them blank."  (credit Travis83)

"Different reason depending upon if the book is machine or hand bound. I'll mention the handbound reason, which is the original reason for having these blank pages. The opening blank pages are called fly leaves. The pages with writing/art is called the textblock. These pages, if loaded with art (illuminated) sometimes took days to create. The "pages" were vellum (calf skin) and as you can imagine were expensive to make. You want to protect this investment. When books were bound in leather, the tanned leathers would leak and damage the textblock, so the fly leaves were to protect the writing/art from damage. You would use the minimum amount to protect the text block because vellum was expensive to produce. With the advent of fiber paper, you could increase the number of fly leaves. Depending upon on the binding technique used there would a different number of these fly papers. Also, fly leaves are constructed to add structural strength to the book. A book opens and closes and making the hinge strong and durable are important, especially when you consider a town would save up just to buy one book. So there are numerous different construction methods in hand binding that is reflected on the type and number of fly leaves." (credit rtfminc)
And here's the Wikipedia page on endpapers (inside covers + flyleaves), which I think will be the subject matter for the embedded images in the next divertimento. 

Ransomware taken to the next level

Krebs on Security reports that now paying ransom to cybercriminals does not ensure that the database will be restored:
Tens of thousands of personal and possibly proprietary databases that were left accessible to the public online have just been wiped from the Internet, replaced with ransom notes demanding payment for the return of the files. Adding insult to injury, it appears that virtually none of the victims who have paid the ransom have gotten their files back because multiple fraudsters are now wise to the extortion attempts and are competing to replace each other’s ransom notes.

At the eye of this developing data destruction maelstrom is an online database platform called MongoDB. Tens of thousands of organizations use MongoDB to store data, but it is easy to misconfigure and leave the database exposed online. If installed on a server with the default settings, for example, MongoDB allows anyone to browse the databases, download them, or even write over them and delete them...

Merrigan and Gevers are maintaining a public Google Drive document (read-only) that is tracking the various victims and ransom demands. Merrigan said it appears that at least 29,000 MongoDB databases that were previously published online are now erased. Worse, hardly anyone who’s paid the ransom demands has yet received their files back...

For now, Merrigan is advising victims not to pay the ransom. He encouraged those inclined to do so anyway to demand “proof of life” from the extortionists — i.e., request that they share one or two of the deleted files to prove that they can restore the entire cache.
What an unholy hell of a situation.

Modifying public streets to assist the visually impaired


Read more about tactile paving (hat tip to reader Aleksejs).

Via Neatorama.

Scary photo of an Indian tea plantation


Don't know why it's scary?  More info here.

Photo via the Pics subreddit, cropped for emphasis.

Arab and Berber pirates abducted and enslaved Icelanders

Events from the 17th century that are generally not known, and do not enter discussions of the history of slavery:
In 1627 Barbary corsairs from Algiers and Salé descended on Iceland in two separate raids, taking around 400–900 prisoners (Iceland's population at the time has been estimated to have been about 60,000). This event is popularly known in Iceland as Tyrkjaránið – the 'Turkish Raid', as it was launched from areas under Ottoman sovereignty, although no North African Turks (Kouloughlis) are known to have been involved. Most pirates were Arabs and Berbers, a large part - the Dutch and other Europeans, who converted to Islam... Those captured were sold into slavery on the Barbary Coast
More on the Barbary pirates.  I remember reading a Landmark book about them when I was in the seventh grade (and blogged about it seven years ago) , but I had forgotten the details.

The Weather Channel calls out Breitbart

"Earth is not cooling, climate change Is real and please stop using our video to mislead Americans. "
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