Middle Eastern card-stacking championship placed on hold again

September 20, 2014

From The Duffel Blog.

DOHA, Qatar — The International Playing Card Stacking Federation announced that its first All Middle East competition will be postponed for the 99th time since it was first announced in 1915, sources confirmed Thursday.

“We sincerely regret postponing this long-awaited competition. Card stacking is an art of patience, precision, and achievement in the face of adversity, values which we believe have great meaning for the Middle East. However, given the current regional situation, we do not believe this an appropriate time for the competition,” said spokesman and international champion card stacker Bryan Berg.

The delay, caused primarily by the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the ongoing Syrian civil war, and intensified Israel-Palestine conflict, is just the latest in an almost century-long string of delays and postponements since the competition was first proposed by British officer and card-stacking hobbyist Sir Arnold Wilson in 1915.

Previous delays have been caused by a variety of unexpected problems that made it impractical to stage the contest, including the Egyptian Revolution, the Iranian Revolution, the Iraqi Revolution, the Dhofar Rebellion, the Adwan Rebellion, the Ararat Rebellion, the Dersim Rebellion, World Wars 1 and 2, the Arab-Israeli Wars, the Iran-Iraq War, the Anglo-Iraqi War, the Franco-Syrian War, the Saudi-Yemeni War, the Lebanese Civil War, the Syrian Civil War, the Yemeni Civil Wars, the Suez Crisis, the Siege of Mecca, several intifadas, Operation Ajax, Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, the assassination of King Abdullah I of Jordan, the assassination of Anwar Sadat, the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, the assassination of Rafic Hariri, the assassinations of numerous Iraqi and Iranian prime ministers, the Armenian Genocide, the Assyrian Genocide, several genocides targeting the Kurds and Yazidis, the Semele Massacre, the Hama Massacre, the Mecca Massacre, the bombing of the King David Hotel, the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, a combined total of over 14 coups d’etat, and inclement weather, among other causes.

The delay is especially disappointing as organizers had held out hope as late as yesterday that an appropriately stable venue had been located in Dubai. However, the United Arab Emirates ultimately declined to host the competition, concerned that an additional several dozen tourists staying for a weeklong competition would tax their fresh water production capabilities to the breaking point.

Despite the postponement of the competition, the group’s robust teaching and mentoring of youth throughout the region will continue unaffected.

(story continues here)


Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day

September 19, 2014


Poisoned ivy

September 16, 2014

The Onion’s 2014 University Rankings:

HARVARD UNIVERSITY

Established: Yes. Very.

Entitled-Pissant-to-Faculty Ratio: 7:1

U.S. News & World Report Ranking: 32

Selling Point: Every new student provided with laptop and bone fragment of John F. Kennedy

Motto: Buckle Up!

Endowment: Never enough

UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA

School Colors: Crimson painted on pale, backwoods, fleshy white

Number of Daily Campus Tours: 14,342,902

Has a Big Rock the Students Like to Paint Before Homecoming: Probably

Degree of Latitude Quarterback Has to Commit Whatever Crimes and Ethics Violations He Wants: Substantial

Subway Franchises on Campus: 104

Years Without State’s Governor Standing in Doorway Preventing Minority Students from Entering: 51

OBERLIN COLLEGE

Academic Opportunities: Students able to spend their final year completing a Senior Protest

Selling Point: Career Center offers students connections to hundreds of summer internships that will conflict with their trip to Prague

Most Popular Student Activity: Adding the prefix “cis-” to all nouns

Minority Students: Just enough to stop people from complaining

Free Speech Acceptance: Oberlin has a rich legacy of allowing students to vocalize opinions everyone around them already agrees with

Number of Alums Currently Roaming the Campus, Hearing the Leaves Crunch Underfoot and Wistfully Remembering a Youthful Love Affair: 4

UNITED STATES MILITARY ACADEMY AT WEST POINT

Endowment: Spoils of war from last 212 years

Incoming Class: 74 percent of admitted students were the Supreme Allied Commander of their high school class

Enrollment: 4,624 of the lowest g*dd@mn worms this earth has ever seen

Biggest Rivals: Al-Qaeda, Pentagon budget cuts, PTSD

Fun Fact: Alumni have gone on to kill hundreds of thousands of people

(Full article, with lovely photographs and without bowdlerization, can be found here.)

 


Happy 200th birthday to our national anthem

September 14, 2014

It was on this day in 1814 that a young American lawyer and poet named Francis Scott Key wrote what was to become his most famous poem, “Defence of Fort McHenry,” while on board a British Navy ship in Chesapeake Bay. Key had been negotiating with the British for the release of a prisoner they had taken in their raid on Washington, but because he had heard about the Navy’s plans for attacking Baltimore, he was not released until after the battle. That was how he came to witness the bombardment of Fort McHenry from the deck of H.M.S. Tonnant on the night of September 13. When the sun rose the following morning, and Key saw the Stars and Stripes flying over Fort McHenry, the sight inspired him to write a poem. Soon afterward, Key’s words were set to the melody of a popular song by English composer John Stafford Smith, and it quickly became known as “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

“The Star-Spangled Banner” became the national anthem of the United States on March 3, 1931. Often criticized for being difficult to sing and/or for glorifying warfare, it remains stubbornly popular with the American people; and two centuries years after its composition, its ability to send a shiver up the patriotic spine and bring a tear to the patriotic eye remain intact.

 


Whole lot of faking going on

September 14, 2014

Absolute ignorance is no impediment to holding strong opinions. Let’s just hope these clowns are too stupid find the polling place on election day.

 


Never forget

September 11, 2014

Although few people are aware of it, the largest maritime evacuation in history took place on September 11, 2001, in Manhattan. It happened spontaneously, without the slightest preparation or planning, because a group of completely ordinary Americans put the well-being of thousands of total strangers ahead of their own safety, convenience, and comfort. Half a million people were rescued in the space of nine hours, and miraculously, not one person was injured in the process. If you have lost your faith in humanity, this short documentary should restore it.

Here’s another story of heroism in an unlikely place: Gander, a little village in Newfoundland where thirty-eight airliners containing almost seven thousand people were diverted after American airspace was closed on September 11. The citizens of Gander opened their homes and hearts to the stranded travelers for five days — another example of the worst disasters bringing out the heroic best in ordinary human beings.

(A longer documentary about Gander can be seen here. I also highly recommend the book The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland, by Jim DeFede.)

 

 


On earth as it is in heaven

September 7, 2014

Some beautiful music for Sunday, performed by a Tanzanian gospel choir. “Baba Yetu” is the Lord’s prayer in Swahili, set to music by Christopher Tin.

 


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