Book Review: The City on the Heights

“The City on the Heights“ by Joseph CoxFor more than two millennia the near east (which is sloppily called the “middle east” by ignorant pundits who can’t distinguish north Africa from southwest Asia) has exported far more trouble than it has imported from elsewhere. You need only consult the chronicles of the Greeks, the Roman Empire, the histories of conflicts among them and the Persians, the expansion of Islam into the region, internecine conflicts among Islamic sects, the Crusades, Israeli-Arab wars, all the way to recent follies of “nation building” to appreciate that this is a perennial trouble spot.

People, and peoples hate one another there. It seems like whenever you juxtapose two religions (even sects of one), ethnicities, or self-identifications in the region, before long sanguinary conflict erupts, with each incident only triggering even greater reprisals and escalation. In the words of Lenin, What is to be done?... [Read More]


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Knowledge Base: Including Images in Comments on Posts

When you’re writing a comment on a post and wish to include an image, it can seem puzzling, since the mechanism is entirely different from that used when you add an image to a main post.  Why?  Because the image facility for main posts is a WordPress built-in feature while the comment composition editor is a plug-in by a third party which does not conform to the same interface.  It would be nice if it did, but, not wishing to implement everything from scratch, we work with what’s available.  Once you get used to it, including images in comments isn’t all that painful.  Let’s dig into it.

You insert images in comments by clicking the icon at the right of the comment composition box that looks like a mountain range (that’s supposed to suggest a picture).  When it pops up, you’ll see the following dialogue:... [Read More]


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Benefits of Travel

We roam about in our fifth wheel, and while firmly ensconced in camping luxury, we enjoy Mother Nature’s sensory gifts. From last camping season, here are few pix we remember fondly. I was paid a Dime for these.  I’ll post more later.

Next season, we have reservations in Moab, Utah to visit Canyonlands and Arches NP’s.  Late in the season, we head to Yosemite.  Both are mind boggling for pix.  I’m lusting for a new mirrorless hi-res Olympus camera before we go; we’ll see if my personal Chancellor of the Exchequer approves.... [Read More]


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Did you enjoy “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”?

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) is written, produced and directed by Martin McDonagh (47). It is ranked as a black comedy, crime film.

Born in England of Irish parents, McDonagh has a full career of writing plays and films. He won an Academy Award for his first short film, Six Shooter (2004), and was nominated in the Oscars (2009) for Best Original Screenplay for In Bruges. His work has matured, and he has become a master of the craft and art of creating a film. This film is the best film I have ever seen. The direction and screenplay are beyond criticism.... [Read More]


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I thought you might like this video of the rocket launched off the SoCal coast last night

Hi everybody! How’r y’all doin’? I hope everybody is doing great. This is my first post here. Came here via BDB a few days ago. Thanks to BDB for the referral!

I’m in southern California with my family for the holidays. Last night, we were outside and we saw the rocket that was launched from Vandenberg AFB. I shot some video of it with my phone and I thought you all might enjoy seeing it. It was super amazing! It was so high in the sky that it reflected the sun’s light. That’s why it is so bright.... [Read More]


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Emoluments

Google News is fake news, or at least it mixes fake news in with news. At any rate, in their default news aggregation this afternoon they featured a New York Times article/editorial about a judicial ruling that tossed out a lawsuit against President Trump. They also featured, as news, this press release from a frustrated plaintiff, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington:

The Constitution’s emoluments clauses are core protections against destabilizing foreign and domestic corruption. We never thought we would have to sue the president to enforce them; we hoped that President Trump would take the necessary steps to avoid violating the Constitution before he took office. He did not, and we were forced to bring our landmark Emoluments case because the plaintiffs in this case—and the American people—have been directly harmed by the President’s violations. While today’s ruling is a setback, we will not walk away from this serious and ongoing constitutional violation. The Constitution is explicit on these issues, and the president is clearly in violation. Our legal team is weighing its options and will soon lay out our decisions on how to proceed.”... [Read More]


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America’s Most Impressive Christmas and Hanukkah Gift: Nikki Haley

I remember when Ambassador Haley was chosen for her current position and I objected. I have such disdain for the UN that I believed her appointment was a tremendous waste of talent.

I was wrong.... [Read More]

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Book Review: Enlightening Symbols

“Enlightening Symbols” by Joseph MazurSometimes an invention is so profound and significant yet apparently obvious in retrospect that it is difficult to imagine how people around the world struggled over millennia to discover it, and how slowly it was to diffuse from its points of origin into general use. Such is the case for our modern decimal system of positional notation for numbers and the notation for algebra and other fields of mathematics which permits rapid calculation and transformation of expressions. This book, written with the extensive source citations of a scholarly work yet accessible to any reader familiar with arithmetic and basic algebra, traces the often murky origins of this essential part of our intellectual heritage.

From prehistoric times humans have had the need to count things, for example, the number of sheep in a field. This could be done by establishing a one-to-one correspondence between the sheep and something else more portable such as one’s fingers (for a small flock), or pebbles kept in a sack. To determine whether a sheep was missing, just remove a pebble for each sheep and if any remained in the sack, that indicates how many are absent. At a slightly more abstract level, one could make tally marks on a piece of bark or clay tablet, one for each sheep. But all of this does not imply number as an abstraction independent of individual items of some kind or another. Ancestral humans don’t seem to have required more than the simplest notion of numbers: until the middle of the 20th century several tribes of Australian aborigines had no words for numbers in their languages at all, but counted things by making marks in the sand. Anthropologists discovered tribes in remote areas of the Americas, Pacific Islands, and Australia whose languages had no words for numbers greater than four.... [Read More]


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Ratburger.org Code Base Repository Now On-line

The GitHub repository for the Ratburger Code Base is now on-line and accessible to anybody.  The code base is a live mirror of the software and documents which run the site, less its content (the posts, comments, uploaded images, etc.)  Here is the README file for the repository.


Ratburger.org is an online community where a wide variety of topics are discussed in a civil manner among an international membership whose only common denominator is their distaste for the sewer that so many Internet fora and comment sections have become.... [Read More]


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