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Living six months undercover in low-wage Britain was an eye-opening experience, perhaps because 8 years of austerity have turned the UK into a bleak Victorian dystopia, where pensioners without electricity die from fires ignited by their candles. We should not forget - in the midst of our avocado fixation - that food is a class issue. Socialism may not be a lost cause in the US of A, although inexplicably poor people in America are so patriotic. Instead of fixating on flags and stuff, perharps they should ponder that private equity bosses took $200m out of Toys R Us and crashed the company, lifetime employees got $0 in severance. And even when we have jobs, they may well be soul-draining bullshit jobs. Do states have the right to exclude immigrants? seems to be a provocative question and you can only imagine that people do not agree on what the answer is. Finally, "leftism" is parting ways with "liberalism" and it may mean something (in the American context).

In case you are male, probably single, and probably horny, chances are that you dig Jordan Peterson. However, his thoughts - such as they are - are heavily criticzed, and his 12 rules for life ridiculed. In several places. Even his old mentor chimes in: “I was Jordan Peterson’s strongest supporter. Now I think he’s dangerous”.

On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Marx, some ponder the possibility of Marxism without revolution while others remember the lost promise of market socialism. But we live in the age of neoliberalism and, yes, it is a thing. It involves dismantling the welfare state and taking us for a race to the bottom. All the same, is has been decried that Finland’s universal basic income program was a failure - but did you really expect it to work on such a limited scale, time- and otherwise?

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Robert Rauschenberg's 34 Illustrations of Dante's Inferno

In a rare interview, Elena Ferrante describes the writing process behind the Neapolitan novels

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Naoya Hatakeyama's photographs of Japan's contemporary topographies embody "the death and rebirth of cities"

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'I was capturing living history': Jim Grover on his photographs of south London's Windrushers

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Killed Negatives: censored 1930s America - in pictures

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Dog on the deckchair: Sussex in the 70s – in pictures

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Cassidy Araiza's dreamy photographs touch on youth, camaraderie and sportsmanship

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This 72-Year-Old Takes Wacky, Wonderful Photos of Life in the Deep South

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Made in Taiwan? How a Frenchman Fooled 18th-Century London

Jaron Lanier Interview on What Went Wrong With the Internet

A very long interview with a very thoughtful (and reflective) Lanier. For example, about social media:

There’s one that’s a little complicated, which is the last one. Because I have the one about politics, and I have the one about economics. That it’s ruining politics, it’s empowering the most obnoxious people to be the most powerful inherently, and that’s destroying the world. I have the one about economics, how it’s centralizing wealth even while it seems to be democratizing it. I have the one about how it makes you feel sad; I have all these different ones.

But at the end, I have one that’s a spiritual one. The argument is that social media hates your soul. And it suggests that there’s a whole spiritual, religious belief system along with social media like Facebook that I think people don’t like. And it’s also fucking phony and false. It suggests that life is some kind of optimization, like you’re supposed to be struggling to get more followers and friends. Zuckerberg even talked about how the new goal of Facebook would be to give everybody a meaningful life, as if something about Facebook is where the meaning of life is.

“Live Work Work Work Die” paints a portrait of Silicon Valley hypocrisy

Somehow related to the above.

The illusion of time

According to theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli, time is an illusion: our naive perception of its flow doesn’t correspond to physical reality. Indeed, as Rovelli argues in The Order of Time, much more is illusory, including Isaac Newton’s picture of a universally ticking clock. Even Albert Einstein’s relativistic space-time — an elastic manifold that contorts so that local times differ depending on one’s relative speed or proximity to a mass — is just an effective simplification.

Rebecca Solnit: Whose Story (and Country) Is This?

"On the myth of a 'real' America". Including:

The quiz delivers, yet again, the message that the 80 percent of us who live in urban areas are not America, treats non-Protestant (including the quarter of this country that is Catholic) and non-white people as not America, treats many kinds of underpaid working people (salespeople, service workers, farmworkers) who are not male industrial workers as not America. More Americans work in museums than work in coal, but coalminers are treated as sacred beings owed huge subsidies and the sacrifice of the climate, and museum workers—well, no one is talking about their jobs as a totem of our national identity.

Are drivers for Amazon, Lyft or Uber today's version of factory workers?

No.

Growing up with Fear of Gun Violence in America: The Weaponization of Everyday Life

My erstwhile American coworker grew up in the Fifties, and talked about living in fear of the mushroom cloud. And today?

And it doesn’t even make us safe! All that money, all that knowledge, all that power put into the designing and displaying of weapons of mass destruction and we remain remarkably vulnerable as a nation. After all, in schools, homes, offices, neighborhoods across the country, we are being killed by our kids, our friends, our lovers, our police officers, our crumbling roads and bridges, our derailing trains. And then, of course, there are all those guns. Guns meant to destroy. Guns beyond counting.

Yes, that is indeed a blogroll. So quaint. I put it there yesterday.

You know: ever since I started blogging sometime in 2001, the demise of the independent, personal blog has been projected and the Golden Age of blogging deemed to be over already. I mean: in 2001, I should clearly have been around in 1995. Oh, man: that was blogging. The cool kids have moved on.

But judging from the length of that blogroll, they actually haven't. Not all of them. Other people notice, too, for example Kottke who has been at this longer than I and with much more consistency.

Only a short while ago, people left their blogs behind and claimed that their digital nourishment would henceforth be partaken of in places such as Facebook and Twitter. I, personally, have never really gotten into Twitter, and Facebook? Well: Facebook ...

So how do I actually find stuff? A bunch of RSS feeds through Feedly. Hacker News. MetaFilter. I have chosen these myself: they were not foisted upon me by one of Mr. Zuckerberg's algorithms.

Is this the return of the independent, personal blog? Perhaps not at the (relative) scale it once had, also because the 'net itself is so much larger today. And not all blogs are that independent and personal. We are swamped by all the celebs and semi-celebs that have blogs on various blogging platforms that are -- in reality -- all about non-disclosed affiliate deals and straight-up false advertising. And probably ghostwritten, too.

Medium? I dunno. The layout is bothersome. And it is not exactly focused and curated so you find a little bit of everything. The good. And the really bad.

So, onwards we go. Keeping up with good, independent content is more importand now than it ever was.

Our time as victims is over
We will no longer ask for justice
Instead we will take our retribution

Kamasi Washington, Fists of Fury

What this BBC crew discovered in Western Papua was far stranger and more surprising than what they intended to find

Her husband, meanwhile, helpfully laid out the business plan of which this was a crucial part. ‘I lie around until there are guests,’ he told Millard. ‘And then I get naked and they photograph me.’ He also provided a handy price list, ranging from £5 for a basic photo to £50 for the full insect-grub hunt.

And with that, Markus also broke the fourth wall, admitting that he lived in Mabul but had come to the jungle when he heard that Millard was the latest westerner keen to see the authentic Korowai way of life. ‘If you’ve enjoyed being here,’ he unambiguously went on, ‘you pay me well.’

Bodies Remodeled for a Life at Sea

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We are the products of evolution, and not just evolution that occurred billions of years ago. As scientists peer deeper into our genes, they are discovering instances of human evolution in just the past few thousand years.

People in Tibet and Ethiopian highlands have adapted to living at high altitudes, for example. Cattle-herding people in East Africa and northern Europe have gained a mutation that helps them digest milk as adults.

On Thursday in the journal Cell, a team of researchers reported a new kind of adaptation — not to air or to food, but to the ocean. A group of sea-dwelling people in Southeast Asia have evolved into better divers.

The Bajau, as these people are known, number in the hundreds of thousands, scattered in communities in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. They have traditionally lived on houseboats; in recent times, they’ve also built houses on stilts in coastal waters.

“They are simply a stranger to the land,” said Rodney C. Jubilado, a University of Hawaii anthropologist who studies the Bajau but was not involved in the new study.

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Snapshots From a Lost Era in Burkina Faso

Perhaps the true society will grow tired of development and, out of freedom, leave possibilities unused, instead of storming under a confused compulsion to the consquest of strange stars. A mankind which no longer knows want will begin to have an inkling of the delusory, futile nature of all the arrangements hitherto made in order to escape want, which used wealth to reproduce want on a larger scale. Enjoyment itself would be affected . . . . Rien faire comme une bête, lying on water and looking peacefully at the sky, “being, nothing else, without any further definition and fulfillment,” might take the place of process, act, satisfaction, and so truly keep the promise of dialectical logic that it would culminate in its origin.

Theodor W. Adorno, Minima Moralia

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Would You Eat a Tarantula Burger?

The Forgotten Nazi History of ‘One-Pot Meals’

Eintopfsonntag - not as innocent as you would believe.

Why are there no Romans named ‘Quartus’?

Yet again: although we have fewer blogs than we used to have, there is splendid stuff out there still.

The Anti-Imperialism of Idiots.

One thing is for sure – I won’t lose any sleep over targeted strikes aimed at regime military bases and chemical weapons plants which may provide Syrians with a short respite from the daily killing. And I will never see people who place grand narratives over lived realities, who support brutal regimes in far off countries, or who peddle racism, conspiracy theories and atrocity denial, as allies.

Ikea-style instructions for programming algorithms

No words required.

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Upwardly mobile in Mali

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Mysterious Anthropomorphic Illustrations of Dogs, Foxes, and Deer by Jenna Barton

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Fried Brain Sandwich, anyone?

Readings

Jordan Peterson & Fascist Mysticism

"Closer examination, however, reveals Peterson’s ageless insights as a typical, if not archetypal, product of our own times: right-wing pieties seductively mythologized for our current lost generations.""

Private equity killed big box retailers, leaving empty big boxes across America, and architects have plans

"The traditional explanation for the retail apocalypse is that Walmart and Amazon killed malls and big-box stores, but that account is incomplete -- the real story includes massive asset-stripping by debt-financed private equity vultures who paid themselves lavishly to run beloved businesses into the ground."

Is the absent-minded genius just a very clever jerk?

"He can fail to show up for an appointment, or forget he owes you money, and the world treats it as though it were cute."

The People Dylan Left Behind

"Dylan has also gone from not thinking about those whose lives he has passed to actively trying to forget them, to erase them as if their existence in his mind will interfere in his art. He has a realization that most people are stuck in their lives and won’t explore in the way he thinks is crucial to artistic creation."

Martin Luther King and the Birth of Hip-Hop

"The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. led directly to hip-hop, an era of black American culture, politics, and art that is often contrasted with his legacy."

Human finger bone points to an early exodus out of Africa

"Some have tried to reconcile these findings with the late-exodus narrative by claiming there may have been an early, but ultimately doomed, first wave migration out of Africa some 120,000 years ago, after which humans more or less stayed put on the continent for another 60,000 years. Others have argued there were several migrations in and out of Africa throughout this whole period."

Fascinating new map shows dozens of ephemeral states that popped up around Russia after 1917

"The collapse of the Soviet Union was chaotic? You should have seen the start. After the Bolshevik party took power, the former Russian Empire descended into anarchy. Proper anarchy, with bells on."