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Monday, July 28, 2014

Re the start of WW1, here's Britain's "The Economist" a hundred years ago warning the UK to stay neutral

An interesting editorial piece from Britain's Economist a hundred years ago. It recommends strict neutrality for Britain while granting that Austria-Hungary had been mightily provoked by the archduke's assassination and speculating about what Britain's response might have been in a similar situation. It's interesting that the Russian mobilization is characterized as particularly inflammatory, although this whole complex of issues and events has been the subject of endless debate.

From The Economist, 100 years ago:

From the archive

The war and the panic

Jul 25th 2014, 14:39 by The Economist
  • http://www.economist.com/blogs/charlemagne/2014/07/archive?fsrc=nlw|newe|28-07-2014|5356cd5c899249e1ccc8e093|NA#
On July 28th 1914 Austria-Hungary declared war against Serbia. As our article from August 1st 1914 feared, the war quickly escalated when on that same day Germany, which was allied with Austria-Hungary, declared war against Russia (which was allied with Serbia) and two days later against France. Britain entered the war against Germany on August 4th, after it received an "unsatisfactory reply" regarding Belgium's neutrality.
ON SUNDAY—just four weeks after the murder by Servian assassins of the Austrian Heir-Apparent and his wife in Sarajevo—Europe was suddenly confronted with the fear of a great war on a scale of unprecedented magnitude, involving loss of life and a destruction of all that we associate with modern civilisation too vast to be counted or calculated, and portending horrors so appalling that the imagination shrinks from the task. Readers of The Economist are aware of the train of events which led up to the catastrophe. The quarrel between Austria and Servia may be said to date from the time when an Austro-Hungarian army conquered Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in rescuing it from the Turkish yoke encountered the bitter hatred of Servia.
The story was begun in our columns last week by Dr Josef Redlich, and is completed in a second letter which we print on another page of The Economist. It is clear to the impartial observer that there have been faults on both sides. But no cool thinker will be disposed to deny that the atrocious murders of the Austrian Heir-Apparent and his wife, following upon Servia's successful war, in which Austria, after all, played a fair and moderate part, must have been an intolerable provocation to any "old and haughty nation proud in arms." The administration of Austria-Hungary in Bosnia has often been compared with that of Great Britain in India. In 35 years, law and order, and security and religious toleration, have been substituted for rapine, disorder, official tyranny, and religious persecution. Admirable roads and railways have been built, and industry has at last begun to reap its reward for the first time since the Roman Empire fell. It is fair, then, to ask, not only what Austria ought to have done, but what Great Britain would have done in a like case—if, for example, the Afghan Government had plotted to raise a rebellion in North-West India, and if, finally, Afghan assassins had murdered a Prince and Princess of Wales?
Certainly the cry for vengeance would have been raised, and can we be sure that any measure milder than the Note sent from Vienna to Belgrade would have been despatched from London or Calcutta to Kandahar? It is only after saying this that we feel justified in stating that the terms of the Austrian Note and the action of the Austrian Government, when most of these terms have been conceded, appear too stiff, too rigid, too relentless. There should have been more solicitude for the peace of Europe, and a livelier perception of the fact that neighbourly conduct and good feeling cannot be inculcated by military measures. All the same, it is a fact that City men sympathise with Austria. And it is a fact that the provocation begun by Servia has been continued by Russia. If a great war begins Russian mobilisation will be the proximate cause. And we fear that the poisonous articles of theTimes have encouraged the Czar's Government to hope for British support.
Fortunately, the attitude of the Times is utterly opposed to the feelings of the business community, and to the instincts of the working classes. In maintaining strict neutrality Mr Asquith and Sir Edward Grey can count upon the support of the Cabinet, the House of Commons, and the nation. So far Great Britain has taken the lead in Europe on behalf of peace. The value of that effort is due to the honourable and straightforward conduct of Sir Edward Grey, which did so much to localise the Balkan wars and to prevent the mobilisation in Austria and Russia from terminating in an explosion. It is also due to the great efforts made in England and Germany during the last two or three years to re-establish the old friendship which ought never to have been disturbed. It is very noticeable that there were many cries of "Hoch England " as the crowds which demonstrated in Berlin on Sunday passed by the British Embassy. It is also noticeable, we think, that both in France and Italy public opinion supports British efforts on behalf of peace, and there is one moral, drawn, we are happy to observe, by a Jingo contemporary, that the influence of Great Britain at this crisis and her strength as a mediator are due to the fact that "she alone of the Great Powers is not bound by a definite alliance." It is deplorable that at such a moment Mr Churchill should have given sensational orders to the Fleet, as if, forsooth, whatever happened, any British Government was entitled to plunge this nation into the horrors of war, in a quarrel which is no more of our making and no more our concern than would be a quarrel between Argentina and Brazil or between China and Japan.
The attempts of the yellow Press and of the Times to drive the Government into a European war are happily not seconded by the sober-minded part of the Unionist Press in the provinces and Scotland. And we are glad to note the pacific line of the Standard, which is in keeping with its old traditions as a moderate representative of business feeling. The commercial and working classes of this country are just as friendly to Germany as to France, and they will almost unanimously reject the idea of helping Russia to extend its empire in Europe and Asia. Moreover, by keeping clear of the war we shall be able to assist the small Powers and neutral countries—Holland, Belgium, Luxemburg, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, to maintain their integrity, their neutrality, and their independence. Mr Asquith has said plainly that no British interest is directly involved, and we should hope that the Cabinet as a whole reflects the general feeling of the nation that we should observe strict neutrality and avoid even the appearance of taking sides in a quarrel which is not of our making. There is no sign that British interests will be attacked. Happily the principal organs of unofficial Liberal opinion have been speaking out clearly and boldly. Every British interest points irresistibly to the maintenance of strict neutrality. And, of course, by so doing we shall be in a far better position later on—if the worst comes to the worst—to mediate effectively between exhausted combatants

Chubby Checker, HP settle lawsuit over "The Chubby Checker" penis-measuring app


(Reuters) - The singer Chubby Checker has settled a lawsuit in which he accused Hewlett-Packard Co of using his trademarked name without permission on a software app that purported to measure the size of a man's penis.

In his February 2013 lawsuit against HP and its Palm unit, the singer objected to HP having in October 2006 begun online sales of "The Chubby Checker" app, which purported to let women estimate the size of a man's genitals based on his shoe size.

A federal judge last August let Checker pursue part of his case, saying one might infer that HP should have known that "the owner of the Chubby Checker mark would never have consented to license the mark for such a vulgar purpose."

Checker's lawyer Michael Santucci said the matter was resolved "to the mutual satisfaction of all parties."

Right now, stop whatever you're doing and watch this: 3-Year-Old Russian Drummer Performs 'Orpheus in the Underworld' With Symphony Orchestra

Russian drummer Lyonya Shilovsky is three years old, and here he is playing drums with the Novosibirsk Symphony Orchestra. The piece is Jacques Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld, which most of us know as Can-Can music. Lyonya only loses the beat twice: when he drops one of his sticks, and when his father interrupts him to pose for a picture.



via Neatorama

Monday links

100 years ago today Austria declared war on Serbia, the first declaration of World War 1.

Heck of a way to get into the Guinness Book of Records: Teenager Gets 232 Teeth Pulled Out.

9 Surprising Facts About Sharks

This trailer for a Family Guy/Simpsons crossover is a hoot.

Fully functional microscope is built entirely out of Legos.

Midwest Mayfly Invasion

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include how a polyester sling works as a male contraceptive, auctioning off the world’s longest dinosaur poo, a British inventor builds giant 'fart machine' to fire at France, and amazing balloon sculptures.

100 years ago today Austria declared war on Serbia, the first declaration of World War 1

The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime. 

~Sir Edward Grey (remark, 3 August 1914, on the eve of Britain's declaration of war) 

The War was decided in the first twenty days of fighting, and all that happened 
afterwards consisted of battles which, however formidable and devastating, were but desperate and vain appeals against the decision of Fate. 

~Sir Winston Churchill (Preface to Spears, Liaison 1914) 

When every autumn people said it could not last through the winter, and when every spring there was still no end in sight, only the hope that out of it all some good would accrue to mankind kept men and nations fighting. When at last it was over, the war had many diverse results and one dominant one transcending all others: disillusion. 

~Barbara Tuchman (The Guns of August, "Afterward") 

Although many consider the opening act of World War I to be the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand at Sarajevo - its centennial was just a month ago (28 June) - the first actual declaration of war took place a hundred years ago today, when Austria-Hungary initiated hostilities against Serbia, after the latter rejected a draconian Austrian ultimatum intended to give Austria a free hand in bringing Franz Ferdinand's killers to account. As a result, Russia - self-appointed protector of the "South Slavs" - mobilized against Austria, which panicked the Germans (fearful of a two-front war against both France and her Russian ally) and so it went... 

28 July Austria declares war on Serbia
1 August Germany declares war on Russia
3 August Germany declares war on France
4 August Germany invades Belgium (to attack France)
England declares war on Germany in support of Belgium
6 August Austria-Hungary declares war on Russia
Serbia declares war on Germany
11 August France declares war on Austria-Hungary
12 August England declares war on Austria-Hungary*

After Germany's long-intended encirclement of Paris (under the Schlieffen plan) was thwarted by the French and British in the Battle of the Marne, the struggle on the Western Front devolved into a four-year stalemate in which the principal protagonists faced off across a line of trenches that ran from the North Sea to the Swiss border. Despite the unprecedented bloodbath that ensued, virtually no additional ground was gained by either side before the end of the conflict in November 1918.

Despite the "war-guilt" clauses of the Treaty of Versailles, which held Germany largely responsible for the hostilities and imposed extraordinary penalties and reparations, the causes of the war have been debated endlessly for most of the last century. Of the dozen or so books I've read on the subject, two recent ones have been particularly insightful: The Sleepwalkers by Christopher Clark (Harper's, 2013) and The War That Ended Peace - The Road to 1914 by Margaret MacMillan (Random House, 2013). I concluded some years ago after a good deal of reading on the subject that although there was certainly enough blame to go around, it was primarily Austria-Hungary that caused the catastrophe because of her reckless determination to settle long-standing scores with Serbia. Nothing I've learned subsequently has much changed that position. Be that as it may... One could argue - and I do - that World War I was the greatest misfortune that ever befell Western civilization. It destroyed the West's belief in inevitable human progress. It brought down the Austro-Hungarian, German, Russian, and Ottoman empires, bankrupted France and England, and put the British Empire on the skids. It was the proximate cause of the triumph of Communism in Russia and the formation of the Soviet Union, drove the United States into two decades of international isolation, and instilled in Germany a thirst for revenge that led directly to the rise of the Nazis and World War II.

Moreover, in the Middle East, Britain's and France's cack-handed and self-serving division of the remains of the Ottoman Empire was largely responsible for all the turmoil we suffer there today. On hearing the terms of the Versailles Treaty, Germany's much-maligned Kaiser Wilhelm II noted from exile that,

"The war to end war has resulted in a peace to end peace."

*The United States only joined the Allies on 6 April 1917, provoked beyond endurance by Germany's unrestricted submarine warfare campaign and the German "Zimmermann telegram" (wiki) - intercepted by British intelligence - which promised Mexico the return of her "lost territories" in the southwest United States in return for an alliance with a victorious Germany.

(Text above is adapted from Ed's Quotation of the Day, only available via email. Leave your email address in the comments if you'd like to be added to his list.)

If you're interested in further information on the subject there are hundreds of books and films - the best books I know of (and unlike Ed, who's recommendations are above, I'm no expert) are Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August (which won a Pulitzer back when they meant something) and John Keegan's The First World War

Here's the The BBC’s Horrible Histories explanation of how the Brits got involved:


Here's a 6 minute overview of World War I:


This animated map reflects the daily changes over the course of the war:


The Atlantic has a series of photoessays entitled World War I in Photos on various WWI topics.

Previous posts: 

June 28 marks the centennial of the start of World War One: a few quotes/videos/links

This is a hoot - trailer for Family Guy/Simpsons crossover

This crossover episode will air as the premiere of Family Guy’s 13th season in September. The Griffins somehow end up in Springfield where The Simpsons live; Peter Griffin and Homer Simpson bond over donuts and beer until they have a falling out and re-create Family Guy's famous chicken fight scene (more on this below). Bart, as you can imagine, makes an excellent mentor for Stewie.

“This Springfield place seems nice. We should visit here again,” Lois Griffin says in the preview. “I don’t know, Lois,” Brian responds. “It kind of feels like a one-shot deal.”


Epic Chick Fight: 2 women reenact Family Guy’s famed chicken fight:


And the original:

 

Related posts:

Compilation Of Every Video Game From The Simpsons

Funny signs from The Simpsons (and links to lots more)

via Variety

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The first trailer for the new Mad Max movie is out

I think I'm getting too old to want to see this much violence, but for you Mad Max fans, here's the trailer for the new one:

Friday, July 25, 2014

Respected Science Magazine Cites The Onion's Groundbreaking Research

News organizations treating The Onion's satire as reality is nothing new, but there's an especially tragic quality to the error when the dupe is one of the oldest science magazines in the country.

Mean kids from Children Of The Corn IV
I posted this article from Discover, based on this legitimate study from neuroscientist Simone Shamay-Tsoory, as part of a set of links a couple of weeks ago: Even toddlers experience schadenfreude

On Wednesday, Science News posted this piece, in which they incorporated not only the real study cited by Discover, but a 2009 article from The Onion entitled "New Study Reveals Most Children Unrepentant Sociopaths":
A study published Monday in The Journal Of Child Psychology And Psychiatry has concluded that an estimated 98 percent of children under the age of 10 are remorseless sociopaths... 
According to renowned child psychologist Dr. Pritha Singh, author of Born Without Souls, diagnosing preadolecents as sociopaths is primarily a theoretical interest, as the disorder is considered untreatable.
"We've tried behavior modification therapies, but children actually learn from our techniques and become even more adept at manipulating others while concealing their shameless misanthropy," Singh said. "Sadly, experience has taught us there is little hope for rehabilitation."
After readers recognized the blunder, Science News scrubbed the citation, failing to note any correction had taken place. Of course, in a Google cache world, all deletions are strictly hypothetical.

via Gawker

Friday links



World’s longest dinosaur poo is 40 inches long and could fetch $10,000 at auction.

France preemptively surrenders? British inventor builds giant 'fart machine' to fire at France (video).

Amazing Balloon Sculptures from the World Balloon Convention.


ICYMI, Wednesday's links are here, and include movie dance supercuts, small typos that totally change the meaning of things, an excellent photo gallery of (very) little kids and their (very) big dogs), and, because zombies also want to survive, a zombie survival guide.

France preemptively surrenders? British inventor builds giant 'fart machine' to fire at France (video)

My favorite bit: 
The machine, which Furze will house in a pair of specially constructed buttocks...

Colin Furze, a plumber and inventor from Stamford, Lincolnshire, has begun building the biggest fart machine ever, which he plans to place on top of the cliffs of Dover and aim across the Channel towards France. His hope is that the French, 21 miles away, will hear the blast.



The machine, which Furze will house in a pair of specially constructed buttocks, is a giant pulse valveless jet engine – as used in Nazi V-1 bombs during the Second World War – that creates a plume of fire to go along with its deafening roar. Furze hopes to mount the contraption on the cliffs of Dover on July 24, between 6 and 7pm.

Furze's previous homemade inventions include a pair of pneumatic 'Wolverine' claws, magnetic 'Magneto' shoes, hand-mounted 'Pyro' flame-throwers (all inspired by the X-Men films), a 50 mph baby pram, and a fire-spurting mobility scooter. All can be seen in action on his YouTube channel. In his own words, Furze has been "turning the internet up to 11 since 2006".