How to Argue with a Holocaust Denier

After making the important point that most Holocaust deniers aren’t all that interested in ‘truth’, Tim O’Neill has given the most persuasive argument possible for the Holocaust’s existence. Namely

No Nazi was ever a Holocaust denier.

This one, simple fact shows that everything the modern deniers try to claim is a post hoc contrivance. From 1945 onwards, thousands of Nazis were captured and hundreds tried for their part in the Holocaust and other crimes against humanity. They tried to pretend they were someone else, they tried to pretend they didn’t know what was happening, they tried to pretend they didn’t have as much to do with it as others, they tried to claim they were just following orders and they tried to justify it as “the kind of thing that happens in war”. But what not one of them ever did was deny it happened.

Even men on trial for their lives, in the full knowledge they would be hanged if convicted, never stood up in the courtroom and shouted “This is all a lie! This is a fabrication! There were no gas chambers and no crematoria! I’m being framed!”

You can read this great piece of work here.

The Seven Rules of Art Punk

Artists can be suckers for essentializing their processes down into instructional lists. If you haven’t seen them already, check out Mark Rothko’s Ingredients of a work of art or Captain Beefheart’s Ten Commandments of Guitar Playing. Also great is the UK’s Wire’s early rules for art punk music.

One great thing about rules is they feel so good to throw away. An example is one of their hits ‘Outdoor Minor’.

Via DM.

The Hacked Video Games of Africa

Video games reporter Joe Keiser looks at the culture of hacked PS2 games in his temporary home of Nairobi, including my favorite – this Kirk Douglas version of Grand Theft Auto.

Just look at it! It’s exquisite. The game itself is as grand as the cover. It is San Andreas, with the load screens replaced by EXTREME closeups of Kirk Douglas—and occasionally his son Michael Douglas, because hey, close enough, right? In the game, the main character appears to be a rough approximation of Kirk Douglas. Oh, and all the missions have been removed, so there’s nothing to do.

More games your friends definitely won’t have at gameological.

Taking Orders from the Slime

Slime has been on earth a lot longer than us – perhaps up to a billion years. Certain types (if you want to be formal, P. Polycephalum) might also be a lot smarter that we thought. Slime can have a sense of time, it can work its way through mazes and – in a recent discovery – it can be used to design efficient railway systems.

The single-celled brainless amoebae did not grow living branches between pieces of food in a random manner; rather, they behaved like a team of human engineers, growing the most efficient networks possible. Just as engineers design railways to get people from one city to another as quickly as possible, given the terrain—only laying down the building materials that are needed—the slime molds hit upon the most economical routes from one morsel to another, conserving energy.

Researchers created a mini petri-dish Japan, with food for all the major cities, and slime-like obstacles where human engineers might find them. In a matter of hours they had recreated something very similar to the complex Japanese railway system.

Andrew Adamatzky of the University of the West of England Bristol and other researchers were so impressed with the protists’ behaviors that they have proposed using slime molds to help plan future roadway construction.

Via Scientific American

Tiny House in Space

Tracy Caldwell Dyson looking down at the Earth from the International Space Station, a couple years back. For more space cabin porn visit here.

Purple Haze, Minimum Wage

The US is looking to raise its minimum wage to $9. This is still short of the minimum wage in many Western nations (one of the highest in Australia, whose minimum wage is closer to $17, more on weekends and evenings). But do higher minimum wages lead countries to go broke? Or to produce less jobs?

PBS interviewed Obama’s chief economics adviser Alan Krueger, who explains many studies find minimum wage rises can actually help economies, and even are often secretly welcomed by employers.

One issue that arises is that when employers contemplate an increase in the minimum wage, they don’t take account of the fact that their competitors will also face a higher minimum wage, and therefore they won’t be at a disadvantage compared to their competitors. Instead, prices will rise and that will help to offset their higher costs.

Costs rise by a very small amount (<3%), which is more than made up for greater spending power by poorer people, and other benefits to bosses. There are a range of reasons why employers might need to offer slightly higher wages, however in competitive markets they actually need governments to step in apply them, universally.

You would expect somewhere higher prices to reach a tipping point, where they start to negatively affect profits. Krueger says in all the studies he’s read, we haven’t ever seen that point be reached.

How To Make a Coen Brothers Movie

I have been reading Ronald Bergan’s biography of the Coen Brothers and – amongst a few stylistic tics – is a well developed examination of the process they have developed to produce their films.

One of the most surprising influences is Laurel and Hardy. Providing almost direct content at times (particularly for their scenes with more slapstick humor) rewatching the originals it is remarkable how this 1920s material still remains useful to the brothers today.

In Big Business (1929) we see an almost direct source for the scene in The Big Lebowski where some mistargeted violence from Walter results in the destruction of The Dude’s car. Even the LA streets of Big Business seem familiar.

Laurel and Hardy also have to look after an adopted baby (Raising Arizona), come close to falling off of skyscrapers (The Hudsucker Proxy), escape prison and climb out of the mud (Raising Arizona) – they also pretend to be African Americans as they escape through Southern cotton country, police on their heels (Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?).

If you think about it, fat men are consistently funny in Coen Brothers films – falling Waring Hudsucker in Hudsucker Proxy, or just about any sight of John Goodman. Frequently we see a fat and skinny characters in a state of conflict (Walt and The Dude from The Big Lebowski, say).

Perhaps time lag is necessary – after all, how much more can a director draw from the sixties, seventies or eighties – and still hope to produce something original?

This objectivity through temporal displacement could even be seen as a key Coen brothers strategy. Nearly none of their films are set in the ‘present’ day (even The Big Lebowski backdated events seven years earlier, to the early 1990s, when it was seemingly irrelevant.

It will take me some time to pull apart the many threads in the book, so I will discuss more of it soon (and add a link to future articles).



Neoliberalism Has Failed. So What?

This article by George Monbiot is as succinct a report on the dominant economic theory of the past 30 years as you could wish for. We have seen that wealth hasn’t trickled down, but formed in vast pools upwards. Economic belt-tightening has dried up demand, stifling overall recoveries.

The apostles have conducted a 30-year global experiment and the results are now in. Total failure.

His conclusion is just as stark.

As I say, I have no dog in this race, except a belief that no one, in this sea of riches, should have to be poor. But staring dumbfounded at the lessons unlearned in Britain, Europe and the United States, it strikes me that the entire structure of neoliberal thought is a fraud. The demands of the ultra-rich have been dressed up as sophisticated economic theory and applied regardless of the outcome. The complete failure of this world-scale experiment is no impediment to its repetition. This has nothing to do with economics. It has everything to do with power.

Movie Reviews on Acid

Broadside zine posted a movie review they watched on acid, and for it they chose the very un summer of love Django Unchained.

I’m not in a position to really criticise plot continuity…There is a lot of horse riding that happens. Probably an unnecessary amount of horse riding… At some point in the dramatic denouement of the film Leo’s hand is bleeding as his character is making some overarching societal comment about America and power and race and I am just thinking “holy shit dude why is your hand bleeding, that’s totally distracting, did I miss something,” because probably yes I did miss something.

You can read the full (great) review here.

Nothing Else Majeur

Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters, made slightly cheerier by being digitally converted to a major key. via

A Robot Dating

One of my favorite things at the moment is a program connecting the answers of artificial intelligence algorithm Cleverbot with the predictable responses of guys on sites like PlentyOfFish. Robotic hilarity starts here.

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