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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

From The Onion: Study Reveals: Babies are Stupid

I was looking for this and it seems to have been dropped from The Onion's archives, so I'm pasting it here. If I find it on their site, I'll provide a link.

Study Reveals: Babies are Stupid

May 21st, 1997

LOS ANGELES - A surprising new study released Monday by UCLA's Institute For Child Development revealed that human babies, long thought by psychologists to be highly inquisitive and adaptable, are actually extraordinarily stupid.

The study, an 18-month battery of intelligence tests administered to over 3,500 babies, concluded categorically that babies are "so stupid, it's not even funny."

According to Institute president Molly Bentley, in an effort to determine infant survival instincts when attacked, the babies were prodded in an aggressive manner with a broken broom handle. Over 90 percent of them, when poked, failed to make even rudimentary attempts to defend themselves. The remaining 10 percent responded by vacating their bowels.

It is unlikely that the presence of the babies' fecal matter, however foul-smelling, would have a measurable defensive effect against an attacker in a real-world situation," Bentley said.

Another test, in which the infants were placed on a mound of dirt outdoors during a torrential downpour, produced similarly bleak results.

"The chicken, dog and even worm babies that we submitted to the test as a control group all had enough sense to come in from the rain or, at least, seek shelter under a leafy clump of vegetation or outcropping of rock," test supervisor Thomas Howell said. "The human babies, on the other hand, could not grasp even this incredibly basic concept, instead merely lying on the ground and making gurgling noises."

According to Howell, almost 60 percent of the infants tested in this manner eventually drowned.

Some of the babies tested were actually so stupid that they choked to death on pieces of Micronaut space toys. Others, unable to use such primitive instruments as can openers and spoons due to insufficient motor skills, simply starved to death, despite being surrounded by cabinets full of nutritious, life-giving Gerber-brand baby-food products.

Babies, the study concluded, are also too stupid to do the following: avoid getting their heads trapped in automatic car windows; use ice to alleviate the pain of burn injuries resulting from touching an open flame; master the skills required for scuba diving; and use a safety ladder to reach a window to escape from a room filled with cyanide gas.

"As a mother of four, I find these results very disheartening," Bentley told reporters. "I can honestly say that the effort I have expended trying to raise my children into intelligent beings may have been entirely wasted, a fool's dream, if you will."

Study results also prompted a strong reaction from President Clinton. "All of us, on some primitive, mammalian level, feel a great sense of pride in our offspring," Clinton said. "It is now clear, however, that these feelings are unfounded. Given the overwhelming evidence of their profound stupidity, we have no choice but to replace our existing infant population with artificially incubated simu-drones, with the eventual goal of phasing out the shamefully stupid human baby forever." - The Onion

Tuesday links

June 18 is the anniversary of the 1815 Battle of Waterloo: history, quotes and video (including a Lego re-enactment).

5 Terrifyingly Huge Spiders.

"Your smile is a naughty goblin": Foolproof pick up lines, per Chinese scientists

The next big thing in fashion? Not washing your clothes.

ICYMI, most recent links are here, and include the physics of the (im)possibility of lightsabers, Flag Day and Father's Day links (with lots of Homer Simpson advice), a map of the literal translation of every country's name, and the time when foster care was synonymous with farm labor.

Monday, June 17, 2019

June 18 is the anniversary of the 1815 Battle of Waterloo: history, quotes and video (including a Lego re-enactment)

When Napoleon recovered his throne at Paris, in March 1815 (ed - after his escape from Elba)... his first business was to sustain the attack of the united British and Prussians, posted in the Netherlands, and it was his obvious policy to make an attack on these himself before any others could come up to their assistance. 

Click here to embiggen
His rapid advance at the beginning of June, before the English and Prussian commanders were aware of his having left Paris; his quick and brilliant assaults on the separate bodies of Prussians and British at Ligny and Quatre Bras on the 16th, were movements marked by all his brilliant military genius. And even when, on the 18th, he commenced the greater battle of Waterloo (wiki) with both, the advantage still remained to him in the divided positions of his double enemy, giving him the power of bringing his whole host concentratedly upon one of theirs; thus neutralizing to some extent their largely superior forces. And, beyond a doubt, through the superior skill and daring which he thus shewed, as well as the wonderful gallantry of his soldiery, the victory at Waterloo ought to have been his. 

There was just one obstacle, and it was decisive - the British infantry stood in their squares immovable upon the plain till the afternoon, when the arrival of the Prussians gave their side the superiority.

~ Robert Chambers Book of Days (1869)*

On Wellington (wiki) at Waterloo:

Thrown on that occasion into the central position among the opponents of Bonaparte, he was naturally and justly hailed as the saviour of Europe... Thenceforth the name of Wellington was venerated above that of any living Englishman.


The village sleeps, a name unknown till men
With life-blood stain its soil, and pay the due
That lifts it to eternal fame, -- for then
'Tis grown a Gettysburg or Waterloo.

~Mark Antony DeWolfe Howe, Distinction

The Duke of Wellington
You will have heard of our battle of the 18th. Never did I see such a pounding match... Napoleon did not maneuver at all. He just moved forward in the old style, and was driven off in the old style. 

~Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington (wiki) (letter to Sir William Beresford, 2 July 1815) 

Meeting an acquaintance of another regiment, a very little fellow, I asked him what had happened to him yesterday. "I'll be hanged," says he, "if I know anything at all about the matter, for I was all day trodden in the mud and galloped over by every scoundrel who had a horse, and, in short, I only owe my existence to my insignificance. 

~Captain John Kincaid (of Waterloo, in Adventures with the Rifle Brigade

Thou fateful Waterloo,
Millions of tongues record thee, and anew
Their children's lips shall echo them, and say --
"Here, where the sword the united nations drew,
Our countrymen were warring on that day!"
And this is much, and all which will not pass away.**

~George Gordon, Lord Byron (wiki), Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto II, 35

June 18 is the anniversary of the battle of Waterloo (wiki) in 1815, in which British forces under the Duke of Wellington (wiki) and the Prussians under Field Marshal Bl├╝cher decisively defeated the French under Napoleon to end the "Hundred Days Campaign." After the allies took Paris in March 1814, Napoleon was initially exiled to Elba. A year later, however, he returned to France amid great acclaim, re-entered Paris, declared himself emperor again, and retook command of the French armies to renew the struggle. 

Four days after the debacle at Waterloo - which Wellington described as "the nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life" - Napoleon abdicated again and was sent into final exile on St. Helena in the South Atlantic, where he died in 1821. On more than one occasion, Wellington is also said to have remarked:

"Next to a battle lost, the greatest misery is a battle gained."

* There's an excellent hyperlinked and searchable version of Chamber's Book of Days here.

** This passage was quoted by Winston Churchill to President Franklin Roosevelt in choosing the phrase, United Nations, to designate the victorious powers in World War II. 

Here's the battle scene from the 1970 movie Waterloo with Rod Steiger as Napoleon and Christopher Plummer as Wellington (and Orson Wells as Louis XVIII):

And, of course, the Lego version:

Parts of the text above are based on 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.