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Posts Tagged ‘George III

“One who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived”*…

Even if 2020 [and indeed, the events of January 6, 2021] felt apocalyptic, it is reasonable to think we have not yet hit rock bottom. The threat of climate disaster and resource wars, the building of walls and refugee camps, the exorbitant wealth of powerful oligarchs alongside poverty and precarity—these will not go away with vaccines or new presidents. Amidst all this, no wonder Niccolò Machiavelli has returned to our reading lists. In his new biography of the Florentine Secretary, Machiavelli: The Art of Teaching the People What to Fear, originally published in French in 2017, historian Patrick Boucheron reminds us that there is always interest in Machiavelli in turbulent times “because he’s the man to philosophize in heavy weather. If we’re reading him today, it means we should be worried. He’s back: wake up.”

Born in 1469 in Florence, Machiavelli is a central figure in the Western canon of political philosophy. Though he is best known in the popular imagination as the conniving mastermind behind The Prince (written in 1513), which so many think of as a kind of House of Cards how-to guide for seizing and maintaining political power, we miss what is crucial when we reduce his political thought to the simplistic thesis that the ends justify the means. It is not this misunderstood consequentialism that is noteworthy in Machiavelli’s philosophy; what really makes his writing so radically distinctive is his class-based, materialist outlook. He came from an impoverished household, and his philosophy disrupted naturalized hierarchies and the hegemonic ideas that reproduce them. John Adams would rightly describe him as the founder of a “plebeian philosophy” that marshaled strong arguments for embracing popular control over government…

The introduction to the English edition of The Art of Teaching the People What to Fear, written in June 2019 for readers in the United States, begins with the theme of fear in politics and an issue of Time magazine with Trump on the cover. Boucheron argues that the United States had entered a “Machiavellian moment”—“the dawning realization of the inadequacy of the republican ideal”—in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and that today, under “Trumpian America,” a fusion of politics and fiction has allowed for techniques of domination to be perfected, setting “a general disregard for the ‘actual truth of the matter.’” Referencing George Orwell’s 1984, Boucheron sees the United States as captured by a propaganda machine that has undermined reality and common sense—“that sixth sense Machiavelli spoke of, the accessory knowledge that the people have of what is dominating them.” Given the pervasive lack of realism in U.S. politics today, it is clear that the republic would appear to Machiavelli as a corrupt order, not because the powerful few break the rules or because a faction attempts to undermine the integrity of elections, but because the people have been “either deceived or forced into decreeing their own ruin.” Perhaps the most important part of Machiavelli’s wisdom for our own time is that republics tend to become oligarchic, giving the powerful few indirect control over government…

Much maligned as a mere tactician of power, Machiavelli was in fact a philosopher of the people. His critique of oligarchic domination remains essential today: “Our Machiavellian Moment.”

* Niccolò Machiavelli

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As we ponder populism, we might recall that it was on this date in 1776 that Thomas Paine first published (albeit anonymously) his pamphlet “Common Sense.”  A scathing attack on “tyrant” King George III’s reign over the colonies and a call for complete independence, “Common Sense” advocated immediate action.  America, Paine argued, had a moral obligation to reject monarchy and declare independence.  An instant bestseller in both the colonies and Britain (over 120,000 copies in just a few months), it greatly affected public sentiment at a time when the question of independence was still undecided, and helped shape the deliberations of the Continental Congress leading up to the Declaration of Independence.

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“Once, centuries ago, a map was a thing of beauty, a testament not to the way things were but to the heights scaled by men’s dreams”*…

“Le Globe Terrestre … dressé sur la projection de M. de la Hyre … par I.B. Nolin, etc” 1767

George III’s extensive ‘K.Top’ [King’s Topographical] collection of around 40,000 maps and views reflects changing impressions of place and space across the 16th–19th centuries through manuscript and printed atlases; architectural drawings and garden plans; maps and records of military campaigns, fortifications, barracks, bridges and canals; records of town and country houses, civic and collegiate buildings; drawn and printed records of antiquities including stained glass, sculpture, tombs, mosaic pavements and brasses; and thousands of drawn and printed views.

The collection includes the work of familiar names from Hollar to Hawksmoor, alongside the works of a host of lesser-known artists and amateurs and much anonymous or unidentified material. The British Library has received support from a number of generous donors to make this material available digitally…

“View of Sydney” Fernando Brambila (court painter to the Spanish monarch), 1793

Maps: King George III Topographical and Maritime collections, digitized by the British Museum– on their web site, here; on Flickr, here.

* Bea González, Mapmaker’s Opera

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As we find our way, we might recall that it was on this date in 4004 BCE that the Universe was created… as per calculations by Archbishop James Ussher in the mid-17th century.

When Clarence Darrow prepared his famous examination of William Jennings Bryan in the Scopes trial [see here], he chose to focus primarily on a chronology of Biblical events prepared by a seventeenth-century Irish bishop, James Ussher. American fundamentalists in 1925 found—and generally accepted as accurate—Ussher’s careful calculation of dates, going all the way back to Creation, in the margins of their family Bibles.  (In fact, until the 1970s, the Bibles placed in nearly every hotel room by the Gideon Society carried his chronology.)  The King James Version of the Bible introduced into evidence by the prosecution in Dayton contained Ussher’s famous chronology, and Bryan more than once would be forced to resort to the bishop’s dates as he tried to respond to Darrow’s questions.

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Ussher

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Turning two bits into… well, about 1.6 bits…

In case the economic turmoil of the last year or so hasn’t done enough to reduce the size of one’s assets, the good folks at Stoneridge Engineering (motto:  “wreaking havoc with electrons for over forty years”) have gone public with information which can help:  “All About Quarter Shrinking (or “Makin’ Small Change”©).”

Before and After

As Stoneridge explains:

The Quarter Shrinker uses a technology called high velocity electromagnetic forming, or “Magneforming.” This is a “high energy rate” process that was originally developed by the aerospace industry in conjunction with NASA…  It involves quickly discharging a high energy  capacitor bank through a work coil to generate an extremely powerful, rapidly changing magnetic field which then “forms” the metal to be fabricated. The technique uses pulsed power to generate a very high current pulse over a very short time interval… To shrink coins, I charge up a large high voltage capacitor bank consisting of a number of large “energy discharge” capacitors. Each capacitor is specially designed to reliably store up to 12,000 volts and deliver 100,000 ampere discharges.

The initial energy stored within the capacitor bank is typically in the range of 3,500 – 6,300 Joules (watt-seconds). Because this energy is discharged in as little as 20 millionths of a second, the instantaneous power is very large and, for a brief instant, is roughly equivalent to the electrical power consumed by a good sized city. The repulsion forces between the work coil and the coin create tremendous radial compressive forces that easily overcome the yield strength of  the metal alloys in the coin, causing the coin to plastically deform into a smaller diameter. The higher the initial energy, the greater the degree of “shrinkage”. Applying a 6,300 joule pulse results in a quarter whose final diameter is about 0.1″ SMALLER than a dime!

See a video demo and more photos– the technique works on other coins too!– here.

(Oh, and lest one wonder: the title of this post notwithstanding, a shrunken coin weighs exactly the same as before, and its density is unchanged. The coin becomes thicker as its diameter is reduced; the overall volume stays the same.)
As we call it, heads or tails, we might note– or then again, we might not be able to note– that on this date in 1775 invisible ink was developed by James Jay, a physician and the brother of John Jay.  Dr. Jay was knighted by George III before the “unpleasantness with the Colonies”…  he might have rethought the bestowal had he known that Jay was using the “stain” for reporting military information from London to America.

source: LoneRanger on Final4Ever

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