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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Snickerdoodle recipe

By request:


1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 large eggs*, room temperature

2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda**
1 teaspoon cinnamon

To roll the dough in before baking, combine:

3 tablespoons white sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cream together the butter and the 1 1/2 cups sugar. Add the eggs and the vanilla and beat until soft.

Blend in the flour, cream of tartar, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and baking soda. 

Shape dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into balls.

Mix the 3 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls of dough in mixture, and place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake exactly 8 minutes, and as soon as they come out of the oven, sprinkle on a little more of the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheets, and cool completely before storing.

* If your eggs are too big the dough will spread too much. Most recipes call for large eggs - in a recipe calling for 2 eggs, it probably won't matter much, but if you double the recipe it might - 4 extra large eggs are approximately the equivalent of 5 large. If you have extra large and are worried, you can pour off a little of the white (or whisk the eggs first and pour off a little of the mixture). The simplest thing, if you do much baking, is to just always buy large. Here's a conversion chart.

* Baking soda goes flat very quickly, which will give you flat cookies (which are just as delicious, only flat) - here's how to check. Expired or Still Good? The Quickest Way to Test Baking Soda & Baking Powder for Freshness

Easy variations - add nutmeg, cloves, or cardamon to the cinnamon mixture.

Incredible dog

For dog lovers:

Video compilation - dogs playing in mud

Dog lovers, this will bring a smile to your face:

Previous doggy posts:

Animals From History: Portraits of Historical Figures as Cats and Dogs.

This compilation video of sneaky dogs raiding the kitchen is a hoot.

It’s Okay To Be Smart on explains how dogs interpret human language.

Dog lovers, start your day with a smile: Compilation Video of Puppies Chasing Laser Pointers.

More doggy science.

German 'robot priest' helps mark Reformation anniversary

Five hundred years after revolutionary printing presses spread news of Martin Luther’s radical call for church reform across Europe, technology is again challenging religious tradition in the small German town of Wittenberg.

A robot priest that delivers blessings in five languages and beams light from its hands has been unveiled as part of an exhibition to mark the anniversary of the start of the Reformation, a Europe-wide religious, political and cultural upheaval sparked when Luther nailed his 95 theses to a church door in the town.

More here.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Town Says Teens Who Cut Neighborhood Grass Must Pay $110 For Business Licenses

Bureaucrats keeping you safe from out-of-control kids trying to make a few bucks:

Teens in Gardendale (Alabama) are in for a rude awakening this summer when it comes to cutting grass. According to the city's ordinance, you must have a business license.

Teenagers have been threatened by officials and other lawn services to show their city issued license before cutting a person's lawn for extra summer cash.

Cutting grass is often one of the first jobs many have in the summer. But a business license in Gardendale costs $110. And for a job, just for a couple of months, that can be a bit extreme.

The "good" news is that the mayor would like to have a mini-license just for this sort of thing, not that they shouldn't be licenses at all:
“I would really love to have something on our books that gave, I guess, a more favorable response to that student out there cutting grass,” Hogeland told the local ABC affiliate. “And see if there’s maybe a temporary license during the summer months that targets teenagers.”
Related - here's a roundup from a few years ago of lemonade stand shut-downs by government officials. I'm sure the list would be longer now.

More at Daily Caller.

Friday links

17th century advice on how to encrypt and send secret messages.

7 TV Characters Killed Off Out of Spite

The evacuation of Dunkirk by a flotilla of small boats, the inspiration for Churchill's "We shall fight on the beaches...we shall never surrender" speech, took place between May 26 and June 4, 1940. 

How the Self-Esteem Craze Took Over America.

Becoming Bond: How a Car Salesman Landed the Role of James Bond 007.

ICYMI, Thursday's links are here, and include Japan's ninja shortage, who started the first fire, finding owners of Nazi-looted art, the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and lots of goat-related links for Goat Trauma Awareness Month.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

17th century advice on how to encrypt and send secret messages

First this, from 1641: a bit of early encryption advice - check out these togop segecreget techniques:

"The second way of secrecy in speech, is by an alteration of any knowne language... by augmenting words with the addition of other letters. Of which kind, is that secret way of discoursing in ordinary use, by doubling the vowels that make the syllables, and interposing G. or any other consonant... Thus, if I would say, Our plot is discovered, it must be pronounced thus, Ougur plogot igis digiscogovegereged. Which doe's not seeme so obscure in writing, as it will in speech and pronuntiation. And it is so easie to be learnt, that I have knowne little children, almost as soone as they could speake, discourse to one another as fast this way, as they could in their plainest English. But all these later kinds of secrecy in speech, have this grand inconvenience in them, that they are not without suspition...
There are likewise some other inventions to expresse any inward sence by barbarous words, wherein onely the first, and middle, and last letters shall be significant. As in this example. Fildy, fagodur wyndeeldrare discogure rantibrad. Which in its resolution is no more than this. Fly for we are discovered."
John Wilkins, Mercury, or, The Secret and Swift Messenger (web version)

Now that you've encrypted that important information, here's how you can pass it on (from 1677): 
"Now we will teach the techniques for writing on various objects in such a way that, even though the marks may be seen, nevertheless they will deceive spies and interceptors, through artful tricks...
One can write messages quite effectively on playing cards. It is first necessary to lay out the cards in a certain order, each one beside the next, either face up or face down. Once you have arranged them in this way, you can write whatever message you want along the borders between cards. Then you flip the cards and shuffle them well. The message will no longer appear, and if anyone is curious enough to examine the cards closely, he will see only some disorderly markings. But when the intended recipient wants to read the message, he will lay out the cards in the predetermined order, so that the corners and edges join and line up with each other, and it will be possible to read the message perfectly."  
Giambattista Della Porta, Della magia naturale (Italian edition, 1677)

via Ask The Past (blog)

Thursday links

It's the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Here's an uncropped version of the Sgt. Pepper album cover, with the unused Hitler cutout. 

Why It’s So Hard to Find the Original Owners of Nazi-Looted Art.

If We Want Bionic Limbs That Actually Work, We Might Need Smarter Amputations.

June Is Goat Trauma Awareness Month: here's a map of every goat in the United States, with bonus goat-related links.

Japan is suffering from a ninja shortage.

Who Started the First Fire?

ICYMI, Monday's links are here, and include the problem of bodies on Everest, what it's like to be struck by lightning, the anniversary of the fall of Constantinople, and Kurt Vonnegut's letter home after being released from imprisonment in an underground slaughterhouse (Slaughterhouse Five) during the Dresden bombing.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Churchill's "We shall fight on the beaches...we shall never surrender" speech: the evacuation of Dunkirk by a flotilla of small boats

He who fights and runs away will live to fight another day. 

~ 16th-century proverb, but also attributed to Menander (ca.340-ca.290 B.C.) 

The sea from Dunkirk to Dover during those days of the evacuation looked like any coastal road in England on a bank holiday. It was solid with shipping. 

~ Sir Douglas Bader (1910-1982)* (attributed)

Dunkirk has fallen ... With it has ended the greatest battle in world history. Soldiers! My confidence in you knew no bounds. You have not disappointed me. 

~ Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) (on 5 June 1940)

We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

When it was known how many men had been rescued from Dunkirk, a sense of deliverance spread in the island and throughout the Empire. There was a feeling of intense relief, melting almost into triumph. The safe homecoming of a quarter of a million men, the flower of our Army, was a milestone in our pilgrimage through years of defeat. 

~Churchill (Their Finest Hour, Ch. 7)

[Hitler's] action preserved the British forces when nothing else could have saved them. By making it possible for them to escape, he enabled them to rally in England, continue the war, and man the coasts to defy the threat of invasion. Thereby, he produced his own ultimate downfall, and Germany's five years later. Acutely aware of the narrowness of the escape, but ignorant of its cause, the British people spoke of "the miracle of Dunkirk." 

~Sir B. H. Liddell Hart (wiki) (1895-1970) (History of the Second World War, Ch. 7)

Between May 26 and June 4, 1940, the evacuation of large elements of the British and French armies from Dunkirk (wiki) on the French coast following their defeat by the German blitzkrieg that overwhelmed France during the early months of World War II took place. The sudden German attack through Belgium on 10 May quickly rolled up the French and British left wing and surrounded it in a small enclave on the English Channel opposite Dover. 

In a largely improvised but brilliantly executed maritime operation that mustered both the Royal Navy and civilian small craft of every kind, nearly 340,000 British and French troops - nearly 90 percent of those invested - were ultimately withdrawn, despite incessant German armored and air attacks. (Even now, there is a continuing controversy about whether Hitler - for unknown reasons - ordered the Wehrmacht to hold back from a final attack that would have prevented the withdrawal. See Liddell Hart's quote above.) 

Although virtually all of the Allies' weaponry and equipment were abandoned, the men survived to fight again, and just four years later they returned to France on D-day, 6 June 1944, achieving final victory in May 1945. On this same day, in reaction to the success of the Dunkirk evacuation, Winston Churchill delivered his famous "we-shall-fight-on-the-beaches" speech to the House of Commons,but also noted ominously,

"Wars are not won by evacuations." 

* N.B. Douglas Bader was an RAF fighter ace in World War II who had lost both his legs in a flying accident but still continued to fly in combat. 

If you'd like a quick and basic understanding of this subject (or want to provide one to someone else), this 4 minute wartime British Pathé newsreel about Dunkirk will do the trick:

A movie entitled Dunkirk is due out this summer (July 2017) - here's an extended trailer:

Much more at the BBC's Dunkirk archive.

The 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. Ed is the author of Hunters and Killers: Volume 1: Anti-Submarine Warfare from 1776 to 1943 and Hunters and Killers: Volume 2: Anti-Submarine Warfare from 1943.

Here's an uncropped version of Sgt. Pepper album cover, with the unused Hitler cutout

From the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover photo shoot – check out the unused Hitler cutout on the right. Apparently they also left out Jesus Christ.

Wikipedia has more info on the cover, and a separate entry with a complete list of people and objects on the album cover.

CNN has an "updated" version because "Half a century later, some of those original faces feel a little, well, dated. They're also overwhelmingly white and male." Their new list of important people for the cover includes Cesar Chavez, Gloria Steinem, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Che Guevara, Meryl Streep, Pope Francis, Oprah Winfrey, Angela Merkel, and Angelina Jolie.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Map of Every Goat in the United States, with bonus goat-related links

At WaPo:
There were 2,621,514 goats in the United States as of 2012, the year of a recent USDA Agricultural Census. If America's goats were their own state, its population would be larger than that of Wyoming, Vermont, D.C. and North Dakota -- combined. This is what all those goats look like on a map.
America's goat population is heavily concentrated in the Southwest, Texas in particular. Nearly 80 percent of America's goats are raised for meat. Sixteen percent are raised for milk, with the remaining 6 percent is comprised of Angora goats raised for mohair.
You'll find commercial goat farms operating in 2,996 of the country's 3,143 counties. Of the top ten goat-producing counties, 8 are in Texas and two are in Arizona. In Sutton County, Texas, goats outnumber people 14-to-1. In Edwards County, also in Texas, the ratio is 22-to-1. All in all, goats outnumber people in 21 U.S. counties, all but one of which are in Texas. 
And, because no post about goats is complete without it, here's the supercut of goats yelling like humans (Turn the sound down but not off):

Pelated posts and links:

Here are goats singing the US national anthem.

Apparently "Goat Arousal Expert" is a real job.

The Obama administration put in place new goatherder regulations to assist foreign workers who fill goat herding positions in the U.S.

Tree-Climbing Goats Scatter Seeds By Spitting.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Here's a copy of the latest Center for Medical Progress video (Planned Parenthood)

I downloaded this from youtube, then re-uploaded it. Youtube is taking these down as quickly as possible but this will keep it from going down the memory hole. If you watch it, you’ll understand why the people in charge don’t want you to see it:

Per Moonbattery:

Center for Medical Progress is not going quietly. Despite liberals’ ham-fisted attempts to shut them up, they have released another video documenting the blood-chilling moral depravity that characterizes the lavishly taxpayer-subsidized abortion industry:
Planned Parenthood executives joked about decapitated fetuses, admitted to altering abortion procedures to preserve fetal organs and said clinics have a financial incentive to sell human tissue in a new undercover video released Thursday.
The three-minute video was recorded at an annual National Abortion Federation meeting by pro-life investigators with the Center for Medical Progress. The advocacy group said it’s just a preview of never-before-seen content that has been sealed for almost two years due to legal fights.
The authorities cracked down fast:
A video released by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) Friday was up for only a few hours before it was yanked from YouTube. A judge had issued a gag order on the video last year, after the National Abortion Federation sued CMP to block the damning footage.
Since then, copies have sprung up on Facebook, LiveLeak and other video platforms — only to be pulled.

Monday links

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them. 
Death in the Clouds: The Problem of Bodies on Everest

What It's Like to be Struck by Lightning.

An earlier battle in the clash of civilizations - May 29, 1453: the fall of Constantinople. Also on this date, Kurt Vonnegut's May 29, 1945 letter home after being released from being imprisoned in an underground slaughterhouse (Slaughterhouse Five) during the Dresden bombing.

Unbuilt Los Angeles: the city that might have been – in pictures.

This Dog Sits on Seven Editorial Boards.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include a new hottest chili pepper, if meat eaters acted like vegans, early performances of future stars, and T-rex dietary requirements.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

May 29, 1453: the fall of Constantinople

Click here to embiggen
Oh, what a noble and beautiful city is Constantinople! How many monasteries and palaces it contains, constructed with wonderful skill! It would take too long to describe all the wealth that is there of every kind, of gold, of silver, all kinds of clothes, holy relics... There are, I think, around twenty thousand eunuchs living there always.

~ Fulcher of Chartres (1059 -??) (Historia Hierosolymitana, during the First Crusade, 1096)

They found the Turks coming right up under the walls and seeking battle, particularly the Janissaries ... and when one or two of them were killed, at once more Turks came and took away the dead ones ... without caring how near they came to the city walls. Our men shot at them with guns and crossbows, aiming at the Turk who was carrying away his dead countryman, and both of them would fall to the ground dead, and then there came other Turks and took them away, none fearing death, but being willing to let ten of themselves be killed rather than suffer the shame of leaving a single Turkish corpse by the walls.

Nothing will ever equal the horror of this harrowing and terrible spectacle. People frightened by the shouting ran out of their houses and were cut down by the sword before they knew what was happening. And some were massacred in their houses where they tried to hide, and some in churches where they sought refuge... they were intent on pillage and roamed through the town stealing, disrobing, pillaging, killing, raping, taking captive men, women, children, old men, young men, monks, priests, people of all sorts and conditions . . . There were virgins who awoke from troubled sleep to find those brigands standing over them with bloody hands and faces full of abject fury. This medley of all nations, these frantic brutes stormed into their houses, dragged them, tore them, forced them, dishonored them, raped them at the cross-roads and made them submit to the most terrible outrages.

When Mehmed saw the ravages, the destruction and the deserted houses and all that had perished and become ruins, then a great sadness took possession of him and he repented the pillage and all the destruction. Tears came to his eyes and sobbing he expressed his sadness. "What a town this was! And we have allowed it to be destroyed!" His soul was full of sorrow. And in truth it was natural, so much did the horror of the situation exceed all limits.

~ excerpts from various eye-witness accounts of the fall of Constantinople (wiki), 29 May 1453

Today is the anniversary of the fall of Constantinople in 1453 (wiki) to an Ottoman army under the 21-year-old Sultan Mehmet II after a siege of seven weeks. The last Byzantine emperor, Constantine XI Paliailogos, died in the final defense of the city, and the ensuing orgy of pillage and massacre brought the eastern Roman empire to a decisive end.* 

Founded as Byzantium in the 7th century B.C. by Greek colonists from Megara, Constantinople (now Istanbul) sits at the junction of the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus, which leads to the Black Sea, about 15 miles to the northeast. This strategic location led to its becoming an ancient entrepot for trade between the east and west, and in A.D. 330, the Roman emperor Constantine made it the capital of his eastern empire, which - as the Byzantine Empire - outlasted the fall of Rome itself by nearly 1,000 years. After the sack of the city by the Fourth Crusade in 1204, the Byzantine Empire never regained its former glory, and by the time of its final defeat, it had been whittled down by the Ottoman Turks to little more than the capital itself and a small hinterland. 

Mehmet entering the city after three days of rape and plunder
The loss of Constantinople was a major shock to Christendom and particularly to the Greek and Russian Orthodox communities, for whom the city had been their spiritual nexus. During its subsequent "golden age" and 19th-century decline, Constantinople remained the capital of the Ottoman Empire until the end of World War I, when what was left of the old Ottoman territories became today's Republic of Turkey with a new capital at Ankara.** 

French aviator and writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944) wrote in Flight to Arras,

"The injustice of defeat lies in the fact that its most innocent victims are made to look like heartless accomplices. It is impossible to see behind defeat the sacrifices, the austere performance of duty, the self-discipline and the vigilance that are there - those things the god of battle does not take account of."

* N.B. In addition to the Byzantine Greeks defending the city, there were large contingents of Venetians, Genoese, Sicilians, and natives of the Papal States.

** However, it wasn't until 1930 that the Turkish government officially changed the name of the city to Istanbul.

Here's a brief documentary:

And you can't do a piece on Constantinople without the classic song Istanbul (Not Constantinople) - the video below is a Tiny Toons production using the version by They Must Be Giants, but for the music alone I prefer the original 1953 version by The Four Lads.

Istanbul was Constantinople
Now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople
Been a long time gone, ol' Constantinople
Now it's Turkish delight on a moonlit night...