July 24th, 2017

"just as monstrous and mutant alge invade the lagoon of Venice"


Peter E. Gordon — The Authoritarian Personality Revisited: Reading Adorno in the Age of Trump, June 15, 2016.
My hope is that by reading Adorno again, we might discern how Trump at once instantiates the category of the "authoritarian personality" but also challenges its meaning. The AP study, I will suggest, contained two distinct lines of argument. The first of these arguments qualified as the "official" discovery of the research program, and its basic message is the one MacWilliams identified in the passages quoted above, namely, it claimed to have identified a new "psychological type." The second argument was rather more sobering and radical in its implications: it suggested that the authoritarian personality signified not merely a type but rather an emergent and generalized feature of modern society as such.

The Frankfurt School Knew Trump Was Coming - Author Stuart Jeffries on why now is a great time to dust off this forgotten school of criticism.

Trump's America and the rise of the authoritarian personality

Are Trump Supporters Authoritarians? - "Electoral support is better explained by political reasoning than pseudo-Freudian psychological projections."

Why Arendt Matters: Revisiting "The Origins of Totalitarianism"
How Hannah Arendt Is Being Used and Misused in the Age of Trump

Bob Altmeyer, The Authoritarians
This book was written in 2006, halfway through George W. Bush's second term as president. A great deal was wrong with America then, and I thought the research on authoritarian personalities could explain a lot of it. Since then a new administration has been elected, and although it has had to deal with a very serious economic crisis brought on by others, it is taking steps to correct some of what is wrong.

However, the forces that largely caused the problems have remained on the scene, and are more active today than ever before....
A Word From Dr. Bob Altemeyer on Donald Trump and Authoritarian Followers, 2 March 2016
Authoritarian followers in America today are tremendously energized by fear and anger. They're scared, and they want someone really strong and confident to protect them. It's a very natural, understandable reaction. As well they're intensely angry about the way their country is changing, and most pointedly furious with the Republican Party which has won many elections because of their support, and then utterly failed to "get things right again." So they feel betrayed, and that is a very powerful motivator.
10 Preliminary Theses On Trump

George Lakoff: Why Trump?
& Two Questions About Trump and Republicans that Stump Progressives - the "strict father" paradigm.

Want to understand the rise of Trump? Read Gramsci
Gramsci/Trump: Reflections from a fascist jail cell
Fascism and Democracy, an interview with Dylan Riley, August 19, 2016
Now you cannot understand anything about fascist doctrine if you do not understand that their central claim was that liberalism is antidemocratic; in other words, the fascists claimed that liberal institutions cannot represent the will of the people. They further claimed that their typical institutions, particularly the party, were more effective means to represent the will of the people. So fascists were "authoritarian democrats."

Unfortunately a lot of political scientists want to engage in the crypto-normative game of defining democracy. But it's a fool's errand, because no set of political institutions can actualize a "political formula." Elected officials in our contemporary oligarchies no more represent the will of the people than did the absolutist monarchs represent the will of God.
title is from Felix Guattari

"...he used all my Guardian Arrows shooting at Bokoblins. "


My Son Has Ruined Zelda: Breath Of The Wild by Mark Serrels [Kotaku] "A few details before I go into precisely how my son is ruining my Zelda game. A few answers to questions I suspect you might ask. Firstly why is my son playing Zelda? I dunno. It just happened and now it keeps happening. Secondly, why is he playing my game and not his own game? Simple answer: I've got all the cool power-ups and the cool weapons. His chances of actually inching his way through and earning those rewards at four years old are at monkeys writing Shakespeare odds at this point. Thirdly, why do I keep letting this happen? Love, ladies and Gentlemen. Love."

Food for Soul


In the summer of 2015 Massimo Bottura, the acclaimed chef behind the three-Michelin-star restaurant Osteria Francescana, began a new project. Located in an abandoned theater in Milan, he invited artists and designers to transform the space into a welcoming place to share a meal. He also invited other world-class chefs like Rene Redzepi, Viviana Varese, Alex Atala, Ana Ros, Joan Roca and Daniel Humm to come create menus that changed daily. The result: Refettorio Ambrosiano. The mission: feed the hungry using food that would otherwise go to waste.

The project initially coincided with Expo 2015, which had a theme of "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life", but continues under the governance of Caritas Ambrosiana, a member of larger Caritas network of Catholic charities. The success of Refettorio Ambrosiano led to Food for Soul, a non-profit to address the issue of food waste through the creation of community kitchens around the world. The organization has already helped launch two more Refettorio projects – Refettorio Gastromotiva in Rio de Janiero and Refettorio Felix in London – and has more planned.

Theater of Life, a feature-length documentary about Refettorio Ambrosiano, was recently made available on Netflix. The film follows Bottura and some of the chefs who helped with the project, and profiles several people who ate there during the course of the Expo.

I before E, except after... W?


Most kids who grow up speaking English learn the "I before E" rule, complete with its subparts "except after C" and "or when sounding like A". And some people learn some of the major exceptions, like "weird" and "height" and "caffeine" (so many exceptions, in fact, that as Stephen Fry and QI point out, the rule is essentially useless). But not many people go as far as Nathan Cunningham and use their programming skills to see whether C is really the letter that should be cited as the main exception.

As it turns out, there are six consonants that follow the rule less (H, J, N, R, S, and W). Cunningham addressed some of the criticisms in a follow-up post -- particularly, that "when sounding like A" doesn't matter to this analysis, and whether frequency of word usage should matter.

That time the Great Crown of England was pawned


In February 1338, the English Parliament approved a forced loan from Edward III's English subjects in support of his war against King Philip VI of France: 20,000 sacks of wool, which were to arrive in friendly Antwerp just before Edward landed with his troops in July. English wool, then the best in the world, could easily be converted into the gold needed to pay for troops and supplies. When Edward landed in Antwerp, his allies were there to greet him: The Duke of Brabant, the Count of Hainault, the Duke of Guelders, the Margrave of Juliers, and a host of lesser princes. But the wool wasn't.

In England, there was little enthusiasm for Edward's adventures on the continent. The forced loan had been evaded and resisted with almost complete success. By the end of July, only 1,846 sacks had been shipped. Edward was blindsided and broke. With an army to feed and allies to pay, he borrowed indiscriminately - from the always dependable William Pole (great-grandfather of the most despised man in England), from the Italian Bardi and Peruzzi families, and from whatever other lenders his agents could find, Italian, Flemish, Dutch and Jewish. He offered interest rates up to 50% per annum. And he pawned the Great Crown of England.

Edward spent his borrowed money lavishly in order to bring the Holy Roman Emperor on board and firm up the wavering commitment of his allies. But despite a grand ceremony of support from the Holy Roman Emperor, his allies still wavered, and the 1338 campaigning season was lost. They decided to invade in May 1339; then decided that July would be more prudent. In the meantime, over Christmas and into the new year, payments on Edward's debts and further subsidies he had promised his allies fell due. The Archbishop of Trier, Baldwin of Luxembourg, one of the most influential German princes, was a high-priority creditor for Edward. On February 27, 1339, the Great Crown of England was redeemed from pawn in Bruges and pledged to the Archbishop as security.

The following year did not go well for Edward. Successful French naval raiding meant that he had to spend money which he did not have on buying supplies which never reached him. On October 23, 1339, his armies and allies were finally across the battlefield from the French, but Philip wisely refused to engage (despite being ridiculed on the field by his own noblemen). After the aborted battle, Edward's allies declared a moral victory and marched away. Edward's money was running out, but he couldn't go back to England to lend his weight to efforts in Parliament to raise further levies, as he had promised his creditors that he would not return to England until they were paid.

On January 2, 1340, Edward III of England had himself declared King of France in a ceremony on a platform in the Friday Market of Ghent. But it was prelude to humiliation. In September, he was able to borrow £100 to pay for his archers' meals, but by October, a hostage to his creditors, not even tradesmen would extend credit to the King of England. Promised shipments of wool did not arrive. The Archbishop of Trier was threatening to break up the Great Crown of England; another syndicate of bankers was convinced to take over the pledge, but they, too, threatened to break up the crown if they were not paid within a year.

On November 28, Edward pretended to go for a ride in the suburbs of Ghent but instead escaped the city and found a boat to take him to England. He left behind an apologetic letter to his creditors. His unexpected arrival at the Tower of London at midnight a couple of days later was like a stroke of thunder. Edward's anger at what he saw as a failure of his officials and advisors in England to deliver the wool promised by Parliament exploded. The darkened Tower was lit, and his officials were summoned from their beds for interrogation or dismissal. He locked up home ministers, financiers, and judges. Two judges were seized while they were presiding at Cambridge assizes. One senior officer fled and became an outlaw; John Stratford, the Archbishop of Canterbury, took sanctuary in his own cathedral "like a common criminal."

After Edward cooled down, he began to understand the importance of the political mood in England for his own ambitions. Over the following five years, he built a 14th-century propaganda machine. Poets and chroniclers brought their hatred of Philip VI and his subjects to a pitch of ferocity which makes parts of their work unreadable. Franciscan and Augustinian friars preached the justice of Edward's cause. Stories of French atrocities - real and otherwise - were vigorously circulated. A series of glamorous jousts and tournaments, and a promise to revive King Arthur's Round Table helped forge a close relationship with his aristocrats and fire their enthusiasm for war. (A revived Round Table did not appear, but The Order of the Garter did.) He scrupulously observed Parliamentary forms, and put his finances on a steadier footing by agreeing with Parliament to collect a duty on freely-traded wool instead of imposing arbitrary monopolies.

Edward III got free of his creditors one by one. The Italians, diplomatically unimportant, were repudiated and lost enormous sums, leading to financial collapse and depression in Italy. They were not the last to regret lending to kings. William Pole, who remained a loyal fundraiser, got part of his money back, eventually. Flemish and German bankers and princes, whose support was needed for future attacks on northern France from the Low Countries, received most of what they were owed. Finally, in 1344, the Great Crown returned to England; in 1345, it was fully redeemed from pawn.

In September 1346, with England's support and money now solidly behind him, Edward's armies were outside of Calais. By March of the following year, with the expensive siege draining his reserves but feeling that he was on the verge of a major victory, Edward pawned the crown again.

Many websites about the Great Crown of England mention that it was pawned twice by Edward III - and a third time by the desperate wife of Charles I - but the story is most fully told woven into the narrative of the vivid first volume of Jonathan Sumption's Gibbon-esque (second volume), monumental (third volume), Game-of-Thrones (fourth volume), and not yet complete history of the Hundred Years' War.

The colors of time


On 16 October 1913, two Frenchmen landed in the port of Durrës, or as it was then called, Durazzo, in the recently created Albania. They opened an elongated lacquered trunk, and took out a folding camera mounted on a tripod. They inserted a glass plate, and made photographs of the port, a curious kid in the gate of the former Venetian fortress, two Muslim boys at the base of the wall – one of them also separately –, a man with an attractive face with three or four chickens in his hand, a master who offered his services on the square with a huge-wheeled oxcart and a Ferris wheel pieced together from raw beams. Then they removed the glass plates, and repacked the camera into the trunk. These were the first color photos ever created on today's Albania.

Tamás Sajó is an art historian with a blog. (interview in hungarian). Or rather, with a multi-author web based side-project in addition to his antiquarian "publishing house" - which is digitalizing and publishing private libraries for the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

There are telling signs of the academic backgroud, for instance this "blog" has a table of contents, a proper blog review (naturally, with a reply) from a fellow academic/blogger, and a collection of thematic posts that are organizing the immense material into topics of interest into comprehensible threads. So if you are interested in the lost (or erased) world of our grandparents, you can start digging up Atlantis. Then there are opportunities to learn the suddenly relevant Soviet Union or even the less well known history of Crimea. But, if these topics are unsetting, you can always enjoy your time in the good, old Monarchy.

Although, there were a couple of previous posts on the blue, as well as mentions in the comments, there is still a mind-bogging amount of esoteric, rare and unheard-of material on this page.

Five Stones:
"However, there was also another version of knucklebone games, called "pentelitha", that is "five stones" in ancient sources. There is no surviving description on its rules. But it seems that it was primarily played by girls, and as their gestures attest, they played it in the same way as all the other girls in the past two and a half thousand years from Singapore through China to the Mediterranean and South America."
Pagans came, o Lord, in thy inheritance:
"After the service I suggest that six years later, for the three hundredth anniversary it would be good to invite the representatives of the Tatars for reconciliation, we have the contacts for that. My hosts just shake their heads. "It's too early yet", they say."
Subcarpathia between the two world wars:
"But the traveler also sat in the restaurant next to the railway station of a small town, and he wordlessly enjoyed the following scene: the gentlemen coming from "the mother country" – as Hungary is called here – at a long table cruelly cursed the service, the food and the drinks, everything. Of course, doing so by cursing the Jews plentifully and at ease. For the Jewish innkeeper and his family, however, it did not matter if the entire kitchen and all the universe turned over, because they were sitting around the radio, since in Budapest there was a literary evening of Endre Ady! Well, what do they care about a few pieces of wiener schnitzels? Zsigmond Móricz speaks about Endre Ady in Budapest!"
Mollah Sadik:
"Who was this Muslim "monk" who, at the end of the 19th century when Hungary had no Muslim inhabitants, was buried under a Turkish gravepost in a Christian cemetery, and whose grave is always covered with fresh flowers?"
The rooster is crowing:
"Of a Hungarian shepherd boy even a Tzadik can only buy an authentic Hungarian folk song. This is also attested by Bence Szabolcsi: The rooster is crowing "is, both in the text and in the melody, a not too noteworthy variant of a well-known Hungarian folk song, with forcibly inserted Hebrew lines." ("Népdalok" ["Folk songs"], in Az Egyenlőség Képes Folyóirata, 1921.) Later we will have more about these "forcible insertions." But first let us try to find out how a more or less typical Hungarian folk song could become such a popular Hasidic Jewish song?"
"By reading this text, I feel it dreadfully beautiful that in the wasteland of Nagykónyi there has been standing for a hundred and thirty years a sophisticated poem carved in stone which has not been read by anybody in the past sixty-five years, because there is nobody there who could read it any more. It is like the well of the Little Prince which is hiding in the desert until somebody finds it again."
Letters from the Great War:
Republishing letters from the Great War, each one exactly hundred years after it was sent. The project is ongoing and finish around 2020. (based on this comment)
Money in Iran:
"Collective memory, however, is more conservative than we think, and it has retained the idea that the rial is actually a money of exchange needing a superior unit. Therefore, the Persians still count in tomans, in this officially non-existent financial unit, which is ten times the value of the rial, thus they call, for example, a one-hundred-thousand-rial bill, ten-thousand tomans."
From Istanbul to Tehran:
"However, one thing still calls for an explanation. Where did two provincial beys in late 19th-century Azerbaijan have so good information on the Hungarians as the friends of the Turks and enemies of the Russians from?"
On Russian:
"I turned with my doubts to my father who told me that Russian was not only the language of the Soviet army, but that of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky as well. With this approval I happily threw myself into the study of Russian. And thanks to this, I have since then discovered that Russian is not only the language of these great authors, but that of small people as well, and not only of Russians but, in an odd way, of many different people from Bulgaria to Beijing and from Poland to Iran, organized into a kind of a community by virtue of this intermediary language. And in this way it is also mine."
The light in Armenia:
"The Sunday Mass must have recently ended, the priest is having a snack with some women in the church garden. The light breaks through the darkness inside the church, a beam like a blade, just as it did one year ago in the Armenian church of Lemberg. I tell the others how at that time the director of the church choir came to us and how he sang us their Easter hymn. At this point the priest enters the church. Where did we come from, how do we like Armenia? Then, to illustrate the acoustics of the church, he goes to the lectern in front of the altar, opens the missal printed in Venice in the 17th century printed in the typeface of the Hungarian Miklós Kis of Misztótfalu, and he sings from it the hymn of the Sunday after Easter to the enthralled company."
And countless others, such as: correcting Eco's mistake, Hitler's grave in a jewish cemetery, austro-hungarian troops in Jerusalem, a false etymology in Austria-Hungary, medieval typos, fighting for a dacha and so on.

Or, just check out the music section.

Grow your own Purple Crystals [SLYT 4 min 4 sec]


Growing your own purple crystals. A fun, simple and educational diy project With a little potassium, some aluminium sulphate, water, a glass container, an airing cupboard (or similar space), and a little patience you can cultivate your own decorative purple crystals. This video explains how.

Video Transcript for those unable or who don't want to watch video:

"Hello everyone, in this video I'll show you how to grow a beautiful purple single crystal.
For this we'll need the following substances – potassium and chrome alum. To begin, let's make a mixture of alum.
To do this, take a glass and weight 100 gram of aluminium potassium sulphate and 12 grams of chromium potassium sulphate in it. Adding chrome alum will make the crystals violet.
Then, pour 400 ml of a very hot water into the glass and stir until all the alum is dissolved.
After it's all dissolved, leave this glass for a few days to let the crystals form at the bottom. A day later pour the alum solution into another container.
As you can see a lot of beautiful little fused together crystals were formed at the bottom of the glass. Now pick open the mass of the crystals and put them in a bowl.
Choose from this mass the most beautiful and large crystal. This crystal will serve as a seed from which a large crystal will be grown in the future.
The solution, which previously was merged can be now filtered but that is optional. Now tie the seed on a thin fishing line and hung it in a solution of alum on a pencil or a stick.
Now we can only wait for the crystal to grow. Over time, water will evaporate from the solution and excess alum will form the crystal that is hanging onto the fishing line.
After some time the crystal will begin to take a regular geometric shape that is defined by the crystal lattice of a substance.
For alum it is octagonal or octahedron. Also, during the crystal growth excess crystals will grow as well on the bottom and the line of the glass, and they should be removed.
Though it's better to save these crystals as it is possible to prepare a solution and raise other crystals out of them in the future.
Also, in single crystals growing it is important to avoid extremes of temperature and pollution of the solution.
After 2 months my crystal become large enough and I decided that I can stop its growth. I pulled out the crystal from the solution and desiccated its surface with a napkin.
Next I covered the crystal with colourless nail polish, one or two layers is usually enough. It is important to protect the crystal from further destruction.
After the nail polish has been dried out it's okay to take the crystals with bare hands. Crystal growing is very exciting activity that develops patience and mind.
I raised two purple crystals. One is dark and the other one is more transparent and bright. Now, ladies and gentlemen, as we have done a long journey growing these crystals let's just enjoy their beautifulness without any further comments."


The Sad Saga of Chris-Chan


Perhaps you've heard of Christian Weston Chandler, creator of the Sonichu web comic, but never delved into the field of "Christorians" because of all the infamy surrounding the subject. For a good introduction to the whole story, you can watch this unbiased YouTube documentary, created by a high school student.

There are also a couple of special features to watch once you've watched the documentary, the Teacher's Reaction and the special ED teacher's unreleased footage.

If you're interested in a rundown of the Sonichu web comic itself, along with more insight into the life of CWC, check out this excellent lecture from Ben Saint. (also available in a 360° Classroom format)

For those who have some time to spare you can watch this review of the entire Sonichu webcomic from The Webcomic Relief.

And if you're looking for some CWC related material to listen to at work or during your commute, check out It Came From THE INTERNET (parts 1, 2, 3), Let Me Tell You About..., Down The Rabbit Hole, and Legends of the Internet.

Finally, if you want to find out what's going on with Christian, who now identifies as Christine, here is her official YouTube channel.

[NOTE] I am not a supporter of those who take part in trolling CWC, therefore I have not included links to material I feel is cruel or exploitative. Also, as the Sonichu web comic gets very explicit, I have not linked to it here.

Come for the kitties, stay for the mad knife skillz


Chef and cat owner (or cat owner and chef, if you prefer) Jun Yoshizuki (previously) likes to prepare lavish birthday meals for his cats. His YouTube channel, Jun's Kitchen, has lots of great human food, as well as knife techniques, but his chill cats figure prominently in most of them. (Also previously as one half of Rachel and Jun.) [h/t]

Ratted out


"A forgotten Eden, belonging only to albatrosses, penguins and seals, South Georgia is one of the most remote islands on the planet....We were there for a simple purpose – to free South Georgia from the rats that had plagued the island for almost two hundred years."

We were also running out of time. Due to global warming, South Georgia's glaciers are retreating at a rate of up to one metre a day. Soon beaches would become exposed, allowing rats to cross to previously inaccessible parts of the island and creating areas too extensive to bait. For the project to be a success we had to eliminate all of the rats. 99% wouldn't be good enough; we had to get every last one.

South Georgia Rat-Eradication Project - South Georgia Heritage Trust:

At 100,000 hectares in size, the area of South Georgia being cleared is more than eight times larger than Campbell Island (New Zealand), which at 11,300 hectares is the largest island ever cleared of rodents until now. However, as South Georgia's rodent population is divided into a number of independent units by the island's sea-level glaciers, eradication of all rodents is feasible. The eradication operation on South Georgia has required three helicopters, approximately 300 tonnes of rodent bait and three seasons to complete the baiting work.

South Georgia rat eradication mission sets sail

Rare birds return to remote South Georgia island after successful rat eradication programme

World's largest rat extermination returns South Georgia to its bird life