Nativism is driving the far-right surge in Europe – and it is here to stay:

Almost all countries have a rather fertile breeding ground for at least populist radical right politics, with pluralities (and sometimes even majorities) of the population thinking there are too many immigrants (nativism), that crime is punished too leniently (authoritarianism), and that political elites are corrupt (populism). Whether or not this translates into electoral success for far-right parties is, simply stated, a matter of supply and demand.

We surely live in interesting times, as the Chinese curse would have it.

A Museum of Neoliberalism is opening in London

The Museum's inspiration was "the official and sycophantic 'Margaret Thatcher Centre and Library'" -- Cullen and Grindon want to rival it with an anti-Thatcher museum that rebuts the idiotic slogan, "There is no alternative."

Misha Glenny and Callum Lang · How to Buy Drugs:

Reminded me of a story I saw just the other day: there are now stickers around in Copenhagen, advertising ecstasy and cocaine. There is a user name on an encrypted service (not WhatsApp) you can contact. All payments in Bitcoins. Discreet delivery.

Eat Like The Ancient Babylonians: Researchers Cook Up Nearly 4,000-Year-Old Recipes:

Are they good?

Yes, they are, I would say — some of them. Which is interestingly a conclusion that is different from our French colleague. He privately acknowledged that he didn't really like much of the food that he was cooking — which might have something to do with his cultural background. Or the fact that our recipes are a little bit different and have moved on a little bit [thanks to a greater knowledge of Babylonian ingredients]. That is, I guess, an open question. [The food is] not as foreign as you might imagine. And there are some basic elements that we share with this kind of cooking. And there are certain aspects of the human palate which are not going to change, which biologically we remain the same.

How Humans Migrated Across The Globe Over 200,000 Years: An Animated Look:

Coverage of the refugee crisis peaked in 2015. By the end of the year, note researchers at the University of Bergen, “this was one of the hottest topics, not only for politicians, but for participants in the public debate,” including far-right xenophobes given megaphones. Whatever their intent, Daniel Trilling argues at The Guardian, the explosion of refugee stories had the effect of framing “these newly arrived people as others, people from ‘over there,’ who had little to do with Europe itself and were strangers.”

Such a characterization ignores the crucial context of Europe’s presence in nearly every part of the world over the past several centuries. And it frames mass migration as extraordinary, not the norm. The crisis aspect is real, the result of dangerously accelerated movement of capital and climate change. But mass movements of people seeking better conditions, safety, opportunity, etc. may be the oldest and most common feature of human history, as the Science Insider video shows above.

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Photographer Pat Martin: ‘Mom was not an easy subject’

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'Beijing Silvermine': Thomas Sauvin's archive of discarded photos

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See Tony Bennett Paintings of Lady Gaga, Stevie Wonder

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Photographer Arnhel de Serra turns the lens back on today’s selfie-stick culture

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Lovely Bones: The transfixing skeletons and dreamlike nudes of Belgian painter Paul Delvaux

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Picturing Manhattan's Shortest Buildings From the Ground Floor

History as a giant data set: how analysing the past could help save the future:

Many historians consider this mathematical approach to history to be problematic. They tend to believe that lessons can be drawn from the past, but only in a very limited way – the history of the Troubles in Northern Ireland might shed light on current tensions there, for example. These days, few historians search for general laws that apply across centuries and societies, or that can be used to predict the future in any meaningful way. That was the goal of the scientific historians of the 19th century, many of whom were inspired by social Darwinism, and it is an approach now regarded as deeply flawed, as well as fatally connected to narratives of empire.

As an erstwhile historian moi meme I tend to agree. History is not cyclic but moves forward at great speed, and with human agency in the mix ... But interesting that people from fields afar now swoop down on history and try to discover the hidden laws that governs it. Engels might have loved it, but I think that we, in general, got past that point?

Inventing a God:

It would become an accepted fact that the indigenous people of Mexico believed Hernando Cortés to be a god, arriving in their land in the year 1519 to satisfy an ancient prophecy. It was understood that Moctezuma (also known as Montezuma II), at heart a coward, trembled in his sandals and quickly despaired of victory. He immediately asked to turn his kingdom over to the divine newcomers, and naturally, the Spaniards happily acquiesced. Eventually, this story was repeated so many times, in so many reputable sources, that the whole world came to believe it.

But, it turns out, this is not exactly what happened after all.

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Behold Félix Nadar's Pioneering Photographs of the Paris Catacombs

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Giovanni Hänninen documents the people of Tambacounda through 200 portraits

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Toki Pona

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Benjamin Sack’s impossible cityscapes


Nobody picnics like the French

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Delve into this unseen archive of Roger daSilva’s photographs of 1950s Senegal

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A Photographer's Ode to Everyday Soviet Architecture

America Will Keep Losing Its Middle Class as Long as "The Free Market" Dominates the Economic Debate:

The decades of free-market propaganda we’ve been exposed to are basically an exercise in distracting the public from the meaningful choices that are now made behind closed doors. The two big political parties that outwardly represent symbolic issues like gun rights and school prayer spend the bulk of their time and political energy on complex industrial and regulatory questions.

Because there is no alternative, you know ...

Decades of free-market orthodoxy have taken a toll on democracy:

The credibility of neoliberalism’s faith in unfettered markets as the surest road to shared prosperity is on life-support these days. And well it should be. The simultaneous waning of confidence in neoliberalism and in democracy is no coincidence or mere correlation. Neoliberalism has undermined democracy for 40 years.

‘It’s an absolutely corrupt system’: How EU farm subsidies are abused by oligarchs and populists:

Every year, the 28-country bloc pays out $65bn (£50bn) in farm subsidies intended to support farmers around the continent and keep rural communities alive. But across Hungary and much of central and eastern Europe, the bulk goes to a connected and powerful few. The prime minister of the Czech Republic collected tens of millions of dollars in subsidies just last year. Subsidies have underwritten Mafia-style land grabs in Slovakia and Bulgaria.

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Keebs | Art by John Lee | Los Angeles / John Lee's tranquil illustrations will keep you company on a quiet night

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Ronghui Chen photographs the young people of China's forgotten “Freezing Lands”

Is Gotham City Based on New York - Batman's Setting Is How Outsiders View New York

That a tough town can be a place where joy outweighs suffering is what Gotham misses about the city it’s based on. Batman’s Gotham is the city as observed from white flight cul-de-sacs; Spider-Man’s New York is my New York—harsh at times, sure but collectivist minded and essentially kind, a Gotham that deserves a friendly neighborhood hero, not a violent plutocrat. Plus, we already tried letting a billionaire save us.

Gender equality dates back to the Vikings

Ha.

The Dark Side of the 'Angel’s Share'.

Weird ...

Attack on Bayonne Mosque, Suspect was admirer of Eric Zemmour, and a former candidate for the Front National.:

The English speaking media offers little coverage of Zemmour, who for a long-time was best known as the author of the “declinist” door-stopper, Le Suicide français (2014). It begins with the phrase, La France est l’homme malade de L’europe (France is the sick man of Europe). For those unwilling to fork out for its 538 pages the message is simple, and summarised by admirers and defenders. The book’s main thesis is that nation-states have declined in power and, above all that France has lost its historic leading role. The facade of the Nation is intact, but it has become a Museum, an historic Monument, without a living heart. This “Potemkin Republic” has been hollowed out in the wake of May 68, the Marxist revolutionaries, feminists and post-Christians who have brought about the triumph of liberal globalist capitalism. They are the harbingers of individualism and national self-loathing.

A dangerous and odious position, embraced by the Generation Identiraire, and seeping ever so slowly into the rhetorics of supposedly mainline rightwing parties all over Europe.

How America's hatred of poor people ties back to Puritan work ethic:

There is a profound suspicion of anyone who is poor, and a consequent raising to the highest priority imposing incredibly humiliating, harsh conditions on access to welfare benefits on the assumption you’re some kind of grifter, or you’re trying to cheat the system. There is no appreciation for the existence of structural poverty, poverty that is not the fault of your own but because the economy maybe is in recession or, in a notorious Irish case, the potato crop fails.

I belive there is a strong Calvinist element here - perhaps also heavily influencing the negative view of Irish Catholics, the lazy bums that they are.

The Oil Mystery Undermining An Aramco IPO:

None of us who have been watching the melodrama of the Saudi Aramco IPO will be surprised if the IPO gets rescheduled and then canceled once again. To put it plainly, investors don’t seem to trust Saudi Aramco’s representations about its reserves and so must be discounting the publicly available numbers. That is what is likely spooking the Saudi government which keeps hoping against hope to get the $100 billion it wants from the IPO.

Therefore, I don’t recommend holding your breath waiting for the kingdom to submit to an independent audit of oil reserves that will clear up the matter anytime soon.

On ‘exit’ from capital:

But what the accelerationist position also helpfully does is undercut a certain thrashing about for ‘An Alternative’ that has been seen on the Left. It is replaced with an even more finalistic, though potentially more freeing, assertion than Mark Fisher in Capitalist Realism when he opened it with the words, “It is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.”

I am not so sure about their arguments, though, but worth reading nonetheless.

“We should not look back to the New Left”: An interview with Dan La Botz.

A good interview with a guy who has been anything but an armchair clicktivist - and still is not. Also, La Botz has a sure grounding in theory (even if you do not agree with all of his positions).

Teen Vogue exec editor Samhita Mukhopadhyay: "proud to be 'the most insidious form of teen communist propaganda'".

Yay:

Teen Vogue has emerged as one of the most progressive mass-media forums in an age of Trumpism and its official misogyny and racism -- it's a Conde Naste magazine aimed at teen girls with a labor reporter who regularly dissects capitalism's failings and writes explainers on the need for a general strike.

Europe, Not America, Is the Home of the Free Market:

None of this has happened by chance. In 1999, the United States had free and competitive markets in many industries that, in Europe, were dominated by oligopolies. Today the opposite is true. French households can typically choose among five or more internet-service providers; American households are lucky if they have a choice between two, and many have only one. The American airline industry has become fully oligopolistic; profits per passenger mile are now about twice as high as in Europe, where low-cost airlines compete aggressively with incumbents.

The era of neoliberalism victorious ...

Neoliberalism Tells Us We're Selfish Souls – How Can We Promote Other Identities?:

“Economics is the method: the object is to change the soul.” Understanding why Thatcher said this is central to understanding the neoliberal project, and how we might move beyond it.

And, strangely, it was never about given us - the mere plebs - a stake in anything, was it now?

The right's mega-rich problem:

“I don't think anyone in this country should be a billionaire” said Labour’s Lloyd Russell-Moyle yesterday, at which the BBC’s Emma Barnett took umbrage. The exchange is curious, because from one perspective it should be conservative supporters of a free market who don’t want there to be billionaires.

I say so because in a healthy market economy there should be almost no extremely wealthy people simply because profits should be bid away by competition. In the textbook case of perfect competition there are no super-normal profits, and in the more realistic case of Schumpeterian creative destruction, high profits should be competed away quickly.

Precisely. Hidden in plain sight.

About John Rawls:

Taken seriously, Rawls’s principles would require a radical transformation: no hedge funds unless allowing them to operate will benefit the homeless? No Silicon Valley IPOs unless they make life better for farmworkers in the Central Valley? A just society would be very different from anything the United States has ever been. Rawls argued that justice would be compatible with either democratic socialism or a “property-owning democracy” of roughly equal smallholders. One thing was clear: America could not remain as it was, on pain of injustice.

Give a man a fire and he's warm for the day. But set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life.

Terry Pratchett

Bryan Magee (RIP) Presents In-Depth, Uncut TV Conversations With Famous Philosophers:

At the top of the post, you'll find Magee talking with A.J. Ayer, a well-known specialist in "logical positivism," about the development of, and challenges to, that philosophical sub-field. Two philosophers, relaxed on a couch, sometimes smoking, enthusiastically engaged in a commercial-free back-and-forth about the most important thinkers and thoughts in the field — watch something like that, and you can't possibly think of now as a golden age of television.

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The Dynamic Details of Unusual Plants Captured in Singular Moments by Photographer Helene Schmitz

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Behold the New York City Street Tree Map: An Interactive Map That Catalogues the 700,000 Trees Shading the Streets of New York City

Iceland’s tourism boom, reconsidered:

Overtourism also comes with a kind of stigma signified by that word “mainstream.” A reputation for excessive crowds means the tastemaking travel elite actually start avoiding a place, like a too-popular restaurant. “The early-adopter travelers are already onto the next cool, cheap, relatively intact place,” Sheivachman says. Since the Skift article, the term has been widely applied to places like Barcelona, Venice, and Tulum to suggest that no one who’s in the know would want to go there anymore.

It is impossible to keep up with the truly hip hpsters, you know.

Every Tenet of the Conservative Movement's Philosophy Was a Sham:

As should be obvious by now, every tenet with which the conservative movement based itself, and every bit of its philosophical identity, was a sham and a hoax and a lie. And all of it is running completely out of gas at every level of government, and all the wires are showing.

The Universe Is Made of Tiny Bubbles Containing Mini-Universes, Scientists Say

"Don't burst my bubble" takes on a whole new meaning.

James Wolcott reviews ‘Sontag’ by Benjamin Moser:

Identity politics may have been the one form of politics Sontag didn’t want to play. All her career she had resisted being tagged as a Jewish writer, just as Pauline Kael didn’t want to be known as a Jewish critic; ditto a feminist author (an author, yes, a feminist, yes, but not the compound descriptive); ditto a lesbian. Despite her affairs with men, ‘bisexual’ wasn’t a badge she wanted either.

How WeWork's Adam Neumann Became a Billionaire:

This is how the WeWork story ends—for now. The high-flying office-sharing startup, which introduced itself to the world as “a community company” with a mission to “to elevate the world’s consciousness,” is paying its founder, Adam Neumann, more than $1 billion to go away. Meanwhile, the company is so cash-poor that it cannot afford to pay the severances of the 4,000 workers it intends to cut.

And that is how capitalism works, children.

The American Tipping System Makes No Sense:

In Europe, the birthplace of Western aristocracy, countries have moved away from a practice that once denoted class differences. Today, servers across that continent are paid living wages and don’t rely on crowdfunded generosity.

Even a wealth tax isn't enough: It's time for an income tax based on economic inequality:

A powerful measure that would indeed counteract the destructive market forces at the heart of the problem would be to impose an income tax on income inequality.(...) The key mechanism would be to link income taxes on the wealthy to the level of inequality in society.

Chile protests against President Pinera and deep inequality:

Here’s why that might matter to the rest of the world. Chile, dubbed the “free-market laboratory” during the dictatorship (the Chicago Boys were an immense influence), has frequently served as a kind of bellwether for how other countries will fare in their own accelerating hypercapitalist experiments. Pinochet even made water a privately traded commodity. That has not gone especially well. The current president’s brother, José Piñera, redesigned the pension system, effectively privatizing it. Thirty countries followed Chile’s pension system model (George W. Bush was a great admirer), and are watching with dread as it turns out to be yielding (as of 2016) a retirement of about $315 a month. The companies that manage those funds, however—the pension fund administrators, or AFPs—have been turning decent profits.

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National Audubon Society

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Paul Hiller’s bittersweet photographs document the ultimate form of escapism

What Is Žižek For?:

The celebrated “leftist” “philosopher” is a racist and reactionary whose intellectual product is worthless. The Left should have nothing to do with him.

Indeed. But he picked up good marketing skills from Lacan et alt.

Air Force Finally Retires 8-Inch Floppies From Missile Launch Control System:

There are now several generations alive that have never even seen a floppy of any form, let alone an 8-inch. Bizarre.

Mark Zuckerberg’s Meaningless ‘Free Speech’ Defence of Facebook’s Inconsistent Moderation Policies:

It’s a robust argument that the company does not support free speech to a meaningful degree, but it’s also not a well-moderated platform. Zuckerberg wants to be able to claim that Facebook is a champion of free speech when it’s convenient to them — for instance, when it’s making money by selling ads to liars — but doesn’t want to deal with the actual difficulties that a free-for-all platform enables — and it ends up being horrible at both.

And a horrible person in general, it does seem.

Cable is bullshit, and so is 5G: give me fiber or give me death!:

Strangely, the free market does not seem to be able to solve basic infrastructure problems. Meanwhile, in Korea or Japan or Singapore or most of Europe ...

The Odyssey in Limerick Form

Electronic badge monitors workers' conversations, toilet usage and posture :

The wet dream of the modern manager. Guess that Amazon will soon (are already?) be using this.

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Bill Cunningham: On the Street: Five Decades of Iconic Photography