Daily Archive: October 4, 2012

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Cartnoon

Taz’s first appearance.  Originally posted June 10, 2011.  Zombified, though you may not notice.

Devil May Hare

On This Day In History October 4

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

October 4 is the 277th day of the year (278th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 88 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1883, the Orient Express commences its first run.

The Orient Express is the name of a long-distance passenger train, the route for which has changed considerably in modern times. The first run of The Orient Express was on 4 October 1883. The train travelled from Paris to Giurgiu in Romania, via Munich and Vienna. At Giurgiu, passengers were ferried across the Danube to Ruse in Bulgaria to pick up another train to Varna. From here they completed their journey to Istanbul by ferry.

The Orient Express was the name of a long-distance passenger train originally operated by the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits. Its route has changed many times, and several routes have in the past concurrently used the name, or slight variants thereof. Although the original Orient Express was simply a normal international railway service, the name has become synonymous with intrigue and luxury travel. The two city names most intimately associated with the Orient Express are Paris and Istanbul, the original endpoints of the service.

The original route, which first ran on October 4, 1883, was from Paris, Gare de l’Est, to Giurgiu in Romania via Munich and Vienna. At Giurgiu, passengers were ferried across the Danube to Rousse in Bulgaria to pick up another train to Varna, from where they completed their journey to Istanbul (then called Constantinople) by ferry. In 1885, another route began operations, this time reaching Istanbul via rail from Vienna to Belgrade and Nis, carriage to Plovdiv and rail again to Istanbul.

In 1889, the train’s eastern terminus became Varna in Bulgaria, where passengers could take a ship to Istanbul. On June 1, 1889, the first non-stop train to Istanbul left Paris (Gare de l’Est). Istanbul remained its easternmost stop until May 19, 1977. The eastern terminus was the Sirkeci Terminal by the Golden Horn. Ferry service from piers next to the terminal would take passengers across the Bosporus Strait to Haydarpasa Terminal, the terminus of the Asian lines of the Ottoman railways.

The onset of World War I in 1914 saw Orient Express services suspended. They resumed at the end of hostilities in 1918, and in 1919 the opening of the Simplon Tunnel allowed the introduction of a more southerly route via Milan, Venice and Trieste. The service on this route was known as the Simplon Orient Express, and it ran in addition to continuing services on the old route. The Treaty of Saint-Germain contained a clause requiring Austria to accept this train: formerly, Austria allowed international services to pass through Austrian territory (which included Trieste at the time) only if they ran via Vienna. The Simplon Orient Express soon became the most important rail route between Paris and Istanbul.

The 1930s saw the zenith of Orient Express services, with three parallel services running: the Orient Express, the Simplon Orient Express, and also the Arlberg Orient Express, which ran via Zürich and Innsbruck to Budapest, with sleeper cars running onwards from there to Bucharest and Athens. During this time, the Orient Express acquired its reputation for comfort and luxury, carrying sleeping-cars with permanent service and restaurant cars known for the quality of their cuisine. Royalty, nobles, diplomats, business people and the bourgeoisie in general patronized it. Each of the Orient Express services also incorporated sleeping cars which had run from Calais to Paris, thus extending the service right from one edge of continental Europe to the other.

The start of the Second World War in 1939 again interrupted the service, which did not resume until 1945. During the war, the German Mitropa company had run some services on the route through the Balkans, but partisans frequently sabotaged the track, forcing a stop to this service.

Following the end of the war, normal services resumed except on the Athens leg, where the closure of the border between Yugoslavia and Greece prevented services from running. That border re-opened in 1951, but the closure of the Bulgaria-Turkey border from 1951 to 1952 prevented services running to Istanbul during that time. As the Iron Curtain fell across Europe, the service continued to run, but the Communist nations increasingly replaced the Wagon-Lits cars with carriages run by their own railway services.

By 1962, the Orient Express and Arlberg Orient Express had stopped running, leaving only the Simplon Orient Express. This was replaced in 1962 by a slower service called the Direct Orient Express, which ran daily cars from Paris to Belgrade, and twice weekly services from Paris to Istanbul and Athens.

In 1971, the Wagon-Lits company stopped running carriages itself and making revenues from a ticket supplement. Instead, it sold or leased all its carriages to the various national railway companies, but continued to provide staff for the carriages. 1976 saw the withdrawal of the Paris-Athens direct service, and in 1977, the Direct Orient Express was withdrawn completely, with the last Paris-Istanbul service running on May 19 of that year.

The withdrawal of the Direct Orient Express was thought by many to signal the end of Orient Express as a whole, but in fact a service under this name continued to run from Paris to Budapest and Bucharest as before (via Strasbourg, Munich, and Budapest). This continued until 2001, when the service was cut back to just Paris-Vienna, the coaches for which were attached to the Paris-Strasbourg express. This service continued daily, listed in the timetables under the name Orient Express, until June 8, 2007. However, with the opening of the Paris-Strasbourg high speed rail line on June 10, 2007, the Orient Express service was further cut back to Strasbourg-Vienna, departing nightly at 22:20 from Strasbourg, and still bearing the name.

I still have my compartment key

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning


Art Glass 33

Humanitarian warfare: Autonomous robot assassins more ethical than humans

Humanitarian warfare.  Conducted not by stupid, lazy humans, but by indefatigable professor drones, wherein any old pile of programmable junk becomes a universal Töten machine.  Because piles of robot junk are more ethical than humans.  Because they are rules-based logic devices merely programmed by unruly humans.  Robots do not metaphorically “flip-flop” their ruling creed.  Without an extra logic gate, block of programming, or “fat-fingered” meltdown that inexplicably passed the compilation test.  We could bypass humans and have the robots program themselves, with the “thou shalt not hurt humans” proviso, modified to exclude the humans we want to kill.  Never to be confused with the humans we don’t want to kill.  Unless they happen to be double-agents.  

Let me suggest that a state of confusion reigns concerning warfare, technology, humanitarian impulses (as literal flip-flop switches), and ethics.

Hello, World!  I am your new emotions-based, fully-embodied killer app designed to avoid unnecessary tit-for-tat death spirals, meaning I sure as fuck didn’t start it.

I mean, if autonomous assassin robots are not godzwounds-a-flopically compounding the problem of human ethics, I will vote affirmatively for the newly-shed, post-debate exoskeleton of the Willard Mechanism AND the fur ball-coughing incumbent.

Liar Beats Moral Coward In First “Presidential” Debate

I have no further commentary, no further commentary is necessary.  

Here’s some music for you . . .

Don’t Expect Perp Walks

Cross Posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

There will be no perp walks, or got that matter even arrests, in the civil suit against JP Morgan Chase for flawed mortgage-backed securities issued by Bear Stearns that was filed late Sunday night by Eric Schneiderman, New York State’s Attorney General. It’s the first lawsuit filed by  Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group that was formed in January following President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

The complaint contends that Bear Stearns and its lending unit, EMC Mortgage, defrauded investors who purchased mortgage securities packaged by the companies from 2005 through 2007.

The firms made material misrepresentations about the quality of the loans in the securities, the lawsuit said, and ignored evidence of broad defects among the loans that they pooled and sold to investors.

Moreover, when Bear Stearns identified problematic loans that it had agreed to purchase from a lender, it was required to make the originator buy them back. But Bear Stearns demanded cash payments from the lenders and kept the money, rather than passing it on to investors, the suit contends.

Unlike many of the other mortgage crisis cases brought by regulators such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, the task force’s action does not focus on a particular deal that harmed investors or an individual who was central to a specific transaction. Rather, the suit contends that the improper practices were institutionwide and affected numerous deals during the period.

The lawsuit, however, is not Federal and relies on NY state banking law:

The decision to pursue civil charges under New York’s Martin Act means that the state’s attorney general will not have to prove fraudulent intent, only that the firm was negligent in making any false or misleading disclosures. While easier to prove, that also indicates that the evidence to prove fraud was not strong enough to bring more serious charges.

Like so many cases related to the financial crisis, no individuals are named in the complaint. Nor does it appear that any criminal charges will emerge this long after Bear Stearns was pushed into the arms of JPMorgan by the federal government in a transaction routinely described as a fire sale.

Yves Smith is skeptical about any large fines:

It looks like Eric Schneiderman is living up to his track record as an “all hat, no cattle” prosecutor. Readers may recall that he filed a lawsuit against the mortgage registry MERS just on the heels of Obama’s announcement that he was forming a mortgage fraud task force. Schneiderman’s joining forces with the Administration killed the attorney general opposition to the settlement, allowing the Administration to put that heinous deal over the finish line. The MERS filing was a useful balm for Schneiderman’s reputation, since it preserved his “tough guy” image, at least for the moment, and allowed his backers to contend that he had outplayed the Administration. [..]

Schneiderman has churned out another lawsuit that the Obama boosters and those unfamiliar with this beat might mistakenly see as impressive. It’s a civil, not criminal suit against JP Morgan he conduct of Bear Stearns in originating and misrepresenting $87 billion of mortgage backed securities (the link takes you to the court filing). And also notice no individuals are being sued. Being a banker apparently means never having to be responsible for your actions.

This suit appears just in time for an “October Surprise” and right before the first debate that will focus on domestic policies. This looks like more campaign PR.

My Little Town 20121003: The Things We Did for Fun

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

Now, I was not raised in the Neolithic period, although some here and in my real life sometimes get that impression.  When I was little we had TeeVee, Channel 5 out Fort Smith, Arkansas (KFSA, now KSFM, that broadcast programs from all three networds (at the time, ABC, CBS, and NBC) depending on the popularity and the content.  We also had Channel 8 out of Tulsa, Oklahoma (KTUL) that had at the time the highest TeeVee transmission tower in the nation.  KTUL was exclusively ABC at the time, so KFSA did not run very many ABC programs.

But my life did not revolve around TeeVee.  There were lots more things to do.  Please come back with me over the years to explore what kids used to do for fun.

2012 Presidential Debate 1

I’m sure you’re all looking forward to this with the same breathless anticipation I am.  Stop holding your breath, you’ll turn blue and pass out.  What about…

The Hypnotoad

"Television is a vast wasteland"
hypnotoad

Jon hosts Rand Paul, Stephen has Kenny Rogers.  More programming at Zap2it.

I’m thinking Red Sox/Yankees last day of the season pre-play-off Baseball followed by How Booze Built America, so we can certainly chat about that.  Of course if you want to talk politics I’ll ask you to step to the back of the bar and try not to disturb the other customers.

This is a respectable joint.

Today on The Stars Hollow Gazette

Our regular featured content-

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Join us tonight at 8 PM EDT for live coverage of the first of three presidential debates. We hope to have an embed of the live stream from Democracy Now!. Host Amy Goodman has invited Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson to respond to the same questions given to President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. It should be interesting to hear their answers.

Write more and often.  This is an Open Thread.

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