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The CIA reads French Theory
"It is often presumed that intellectuals have little or no political power. Perched in a privileged ivory tower, disconnected from the real world, embroiled in meaningless academic debates over specialized minutia, or floating in the abstruse clouds of high-minded theory, intellectuals are frequently portrayed as not only cut off from political reality but as incapable of having any meaningful impact on it. The Central Intelligence Agency thinks otherwise."

Gabriel Rockhill in The Philosophical Salon on how the CIA examined "the French intelligentsia and its fundamental role in shaping the trends that generate political policy".

CIA's research paper from 1985, "France: Defection of the Leftist Intellectuals". [pdf]

Sundays Smiles for Monday Morning
Do you like long tracking shots? How about Eastern European influenced pop balladry? You might also enjoy Cheap Magic Inside a film by Beruit and Vincent Moon to start off your week. [SLYT, etc...]

For Sale: DUP MPs. 100m per MP ONO.
Government has been formed with the Tories striking a deal with the DUP. The big part of the deal? 1 billion is headed towards Northern Ireland.

The Atlas of Lie Groups and Representations
Math Has No God Particle - "'Mathematicians are extremely reluctant to publicize what they do', Adams said. 'The immediate reaction from 90 percent of mathematicians is, 'It's too hard, there's no point in trying to write about this in the popular press.'' (Yet here we are.) ... About two months ago 15 years after it began the project was finally completed. Adams and his colleagues released Version 1.0 of their atlas software... Adams and his team haven't trumpeted this latest accomplishment at all. When I reached him at his home, he summarized the milestone plainly, but proudly, in the jargon of his field: 'We can now compute the Hermitian form on any irreducible representation.'"

China's Mistress Dispellers
China's Mistress Dispellers - Jiayang Fan writes in the New Yorker about 'mistress dispellers', a cross between private detective and blackmailer, paid by wealthy Chinese women to chase off their husbands' mistresses. Fan writes that wealth, divorce law and unequal gender expectations have created a niche for a new profession.

This was the sound, this was the sound I saw
Nigerian American writer Teju Cole also takes vivid photographs which, in his latest book, Blind Spot, he matches with passages of allusive prose.

"I see it as a unified story," he explains, "but one in which each fragment of prose is dense in the way that a poem is dense. There are thematic breadcrumbs scattered throughout the text, but, yes, it is oblique. It's not meant to be obvious, but a more psychologically resonant series of fragments that detonate on some deeper level."

There are roughly 3,738,429 Browns fans for some reason.
Redditor calculates which NFL teams have fewer fans than whatever animal/occupation/mythological creature after which the team is named.

My Mother knew words that will never be spoken again.
Sherman Alexie (his website) speaks about his mother and the world.

"Scholars talk about the endless cycle of poverty and racism and classism and crime. But I don't see it as a cycle, as a circle. I see it as a locked room filled with the people who share my DNA. This room has recently been set afire and there's only one escape hatch ten feet off the ground. And I know I have to build a ladder out of the bones of my fallen family in order to climb to safety."

I may not be a bed book, but I'd like to see you.
This and many more shitty pickup lines are the work of an something something AI.

I love you like an english loves charming, but I'll be all the studies on your eyes.

Is your dad a terrorist, cause you have a preaty sweet ass.

Do you have a map? Cause you sure have a pretty sweet ass! Do you like cheeses? Cause you have an easy forever.

Maybe we can slam you on a pair of sun glasses, or do I have to call your parents?

I wish I was an expensive car I would still find your bedroom.

I love you like a dictionary looks like a transformer.

If I was an entire room, I'd be all over you.

Operation Tracer
Rear Admiral John Henry Godfrey, the Director of the Naval Intelligence Division of the British Admiralty, suggested that they establish at Gibraltar a covert observation post which would remain operational even if Gibraltar fell into enemy hands. This observation post would be located in a hidden chamber within the Rock of Gibraltar with two small openings to watch for movements on the harbor. Six men were selected to be sealed inside the cave, and while there were enough supplies to last one year, there was to be no way out of the chamber, and if any men were to die they were to be embalmed and cemented into the brick floor. [via Nelson]

Great Barrier Reef valued at $56 billion
That's the "total asset value" according to a new Deloitte Access Economics report that calculates the World Heritage site's full economic, social and iconic brand value for the first time.

If you stop every time a dog barks, your road will never end.
These photographs prove that dogs are weird. There's video evidence, too [ambient noise with music]. Sometimes they're weird and jerky to cats.

Mayors can't start nuclear wars.
Red versus blue. Richard Florida calls for devolving American federal power to the cities, so that progressive and conservative urban areas can do their own thing.

Previously.

Rag Rappy Ad Astra
"One of the biggest things I can think of off the top of my head is when my grandfather died. It was a Thursday in winter. I was living at school at the time. When I got the phone call, I needed to be alone at first, so I went home and cried. It sounds weird, but after that I needed to hear people talking. So I logged onto the voice chat here, and just sat in and listed to the banter and bickering. I logged in and did a run or two with some friends. And by the end of the night when I went to sleep, I was feeling much better." | Wes Fenlon writes about Phantasy Star Online and the people still playing SEGA's first MMO nearly 17 years later.

Your Options in 2017:
Ephinea
Ultima
SCHTHack
Eden
Sylverant
PSO Subreddit

PSO2 Arks Layer English Patch
PSO2 Subreddit

Panoramic Landscapes from PSO
Phantasy Star Cave - an old fansite with loads of information, images, etc. spanning the entire series.

Trailer to Get You Hype

Music!
Can Still See the Light from Sega Piano Nocturne
World With Me (Remix)
Series Medley for Sympathy 2013 25th Anniversary Concert
Ragol Weather [Image of Hero Remix] by Zircon
Chaotic Bar Remix by Syllix
A Lush Load (Title Remix) by Master Jace
Can Still See the Light (GonZealous Remix feat. Jenny)
Entry into the Crater Remix by Master Jace
(Another) Can Still See the Light cover for guitar by Peviclm

The Boy from the Black Sea
'Shadows: The Val Lewton Story' - part one of a series in which the The Secret History of Hollywood podcasts tells the story of film producer and screenplay writer Val Lewton, with prologues by Mark Gatiss.

Trap Streets, Ghost Words, and Mountweazel - see: Fictious entries
Fictitious or fake entries are deliberately fabricated items and listings in reference works such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and other directories. There are terms for specific types of entry, such as trap or paper streets, paper towns and phantom settlements, phantom islands, ghost words (nihilartikel), and specifically, (Lillian Virginia) Mountweazel. Fictitious entries are included either as a humorous hoax or as a copyright trap to reveal subsequent plagiarism or copyright infringement, unlike intentional forgeries or unintentional mistakes. Except, sometimes those fake things are real, in a way. For example, Londonist found some "real" trap streets, and Urban Ghosts Media identified two almost-real phantom settlements.

"...we are now well into the fourth decade of digital Nazi slaughter,"
The Alt-Right are complaining about Nazis being killed in video games [New Statesman] "The he use of minorities as stock villains is something that has plagued entertainment media for years. Now that political correctness has gone thankfully mad, it has become less acceptable to lean on generic brown terrorists, effeminate criminal masterminds or scheming mandarins when finding adversaries for an action hero to plow through. Video games may have lagged behind somewhat but many developers do at least make some effort to to avoid stereotyping. There is one notable exception, however. One beleaguered minority that seemingly has no voice in wider society. Nobody to stand up and say, "Enough. Leave these poor people alone, you MONSTERS." I'm talking, of course, about Nazis."

Watching internet Nazis get mad at Wolfenstein II is sadder than the game's actual dystopia [The Verge]

"The white nationalist alt-right is upset about Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus [Trailer] [YouTube], a game about fighting Nazis who control America in an alternate 1961. No one is surprised by this reaction, and coverage of it is one part schadenfreude, one part reminder that the new white supremacy hasn't strayed far from its horrific roots. While these reminders are useful, the fact that Bethesda made racists mad is less interesting than watching the entire saga play out in the trailer's YouTube comment section. Like many unmoderated comment sections, the Wolfenstein II trailer is the purest argument against the notion that a marketplace of ideas will improve the world. It's a free-for-all between people who don't know or care about each other, can't figure out who's serious, and are having their entire debate under a video about a man named "B.J. Blazkowicz" who's been fighting cyborg Nazis since before many of them were born."
I fought Nazis at Berkeley and I can't wait to punch them in 'Wolfenstein II'[Mic]
"I suppose the real craft of Wolfenstein II is that, in a game in which you can ride a fire-breathing cybernetic steed, the creative team has also managed to present Nazis in a way that simultaneously reflects the Nazi self-image and the lived experience of the barbarism they impose on others. The trailer likewise projects separate, grandiose narratives of horror and hope to the conflicting ideologies of the heroes and the villains. To the Nazi mind, the fear of fellow whites or Aryans applying their skills, knowledge and white privilege to aid the oppressed in annihilating them is paramount. But multi-class racial solidarity is the dream of the game. It's my dream, too. I believe in fighting, to the death if needed, for the rights of immigrants, people of color, indigenous people, LGBT people and disabled people to live in our neighborhoods regardless of their documentation status or productivity under capitalism. I fight for human rights, because I'm human, bringing with me all the pain, contempt and anger that comes with that condition."
The Surprising Importance of 'Wolfenstein: The New Order' [War is Boring]
"Video games such as Wolfenstein are important because we've begun to lose ideological arguments with the current crop of extremist assholes. Racism, genocide and all the other bits of awful that make up Nazi ideology are bad, but we've long taken that for granted. Part of the reason the alt-right and the new white nationalists are resurgent is because we've forgotten how to win arguments against them. For decades, most people understood that Nazi ideology was bad. We were close enough to the history that we didn't need to have anyone explain it to us. Too often, when we engage in arguments with extremists who talk of racial purity, we falter to explain our side. Instead, we punch them and tell them "because." To be clear, sometimes the only way to win against a Nazi is to punch them. But we also need to understand and be ready to explain the reasons why racism, genocide and white nationalism are bad. This may seem simplistic and rudimentary, it may even make you angry, but we must be ready to explain to young people why these ideas are so poisonous. It is no longer enough to just point at the history and say "because.""
Wolfenstein: New Order and Nazis in videogames [Den of Geek]
"But what if someone created a game about a young Nazi recruit drafted into the Warsaw Ghetto, where the atrocities happening around your character leads him to question the Nazi cause and help with an alt-history version of the Warsaw Rising? Maybe that would also be too raw a topic for Germany to tackle at this point, but it would certainly challenge the gaming norm, and convey the message that videogames are capable of being 'art' as well as big kids' toys. Just as there will always be room for Inglorious Basterds in cinema, there will always be room for carefree Nazicide in videogames. However, cinema has its Schindler's List, The Pianist, Stalingrad (1993), and countless other films that show some humanity amid the atrocities of World War II. The fascinating, harrowing topic of Nazism is just one of many that videogames need to tackle in a thoughtful way if they're to mature. The problem, as New Order shows, is that there is no more satisfying videogame enemy to kill than a Nazi."
Who's Afraid of the Swastika? Nazi Symbols in Video Games [Game Pressure]
"Treating games as "second class citizens" has serious implications for developers, putting them against a tough choice: whether to leave Nazi symbols in the game and create a separate edition specially for German players, lose potential customers in this 80 million people country, or spare themselves extra work at the cost of realism. This is not a new problem as early as in 1989 the creators of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (a game based on the film mentioned in the previous paragraph) had to cover all swastikas in order to prevent the game from being banned in Germany. The result? Red flags with white circle and an awkward black square in the middle. In turn, Call of Duty series replaced Nazi emblems with the Iron Cross, a symbol used back in the times of Prussia. Even in the last year section 86a caused problems for game developers in at least two cases. Ubisoft had to delay the release date of South Park: The Stick of Truth in Germany, after a sole swastika was found in the game after it was cleared off Nazi emblems. However, that was nothing compared to Wolfenstein: The New Order, whose distributor, Bethesda Softworks company, had to create a separate version of the official website for Germany (only the international version contained playable Wolfenstein 3D, which was full of forbidden symbols) and replace every single emblem unwanted in Germany with a made up symbol which was quite troublesome, as the game was set in the universe crawling with the Nazis."
We shall fight them on the Xbox: a short history of Nazi-shooting video games [The Guardian]
"This summer will deliver the first second-world-war blockbuster in many years in Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk. Nazis, in the form of exaggerated caricatures, zombie monsters, or historical figures ripe for assassination, are in vogue again. They offer us uncomplicated, centrally organised bad guys, a simplistic antidote to today's dispersed, incognito pariahs. The Nazi invasion will surely soon spread from Hollywood into video games. Sniper Elite 4, a British-made game released last month, in which you play as an agent of the US Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner of the CIA) fighting fascists in 1943 Italy, leads the charge. Time slows to a crawl when you fire a shot from your sniper rifle. The camera tracks the bullet as it spins through air, then cloth, then flesh and bone. It's grimly pornographic, at once satisfying and icky. Perhaps we will never tire of this black-and-white conflict, on to which we can project our fears and anger, and feel the self-satisfaction of knowing that we were on the winning side."
20 Years of Killin' Nazis: A Retrospective [IGN]
"Wolfenstein 3D didn't just kickstart a genre. It started a sub-genre while it was at it: WWII shooters. Many developers have since turned their attention to the Second World War era, and why not? It was the largest and most devastating conflict in human history. Unfortunately, so many developers did so that World War II shooters became cliche, stigmatised by vocal detractors as ubiquitous and unoriginal. Today, however, as our increasingly homogenised shooters refuse to budge from their bleeding-edge contemporary (or near-future) backdrops perhaps a return to 1939-1945 could be a surprisingly fresh approach? "

Muscular Evangelism
'in the midst of the decline of religious affiliation in America, and the rise of isolation and loneliness, many ostensibly non-religious communities are "functioning in ways that look a little bit religious,"'

Part of America's Growing Secular Spirituality

How We Gather [PDFs inside] by Angie Thurston and Casper ter Kuile

...the effects of the intervention became self-reinforcing.
What if one series of writing assignments during one year of school could significantly improve the chances of students of color succeeding academically and attending a selective college?

Ars Technica reports on a study that revisits two cohorts of students who were given assignments in their first year of middle school: write about your core values and why they're important; and as a control, a neutral topic. The black students have now applied for college, and the numbers are promising.

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