Saturday, June 27, 2015

Erasing the Past : Who murdered the monks of Monasterio Montserrat

from the documentary Sagrada : Mystery of Creation (2012)

It isn't a terrible movie but it has some intrusive artistic pretensions and it uses the church as a background to tell the history of the church when I would have preferred the church and its idiosyncrasies be the subject with the history as a background.

But one thing struck me as eliding reality.


partial transcript (clip starts at about 32:30 into the film) :
Daughter of Antonio Gaudi's assistant : He [Antonio Gaudi's assistant] went there every day until July 18, 1936. Then the chaos of the civil war arrived. All the churches in Barcelona were burnt. [including the incomplete Sagrada Familia]

Narrator : The construction work on Sagrada Familia was abandoned. The Civil War raged on until, in the beginning of 1939, Barcelona fell, followed by Madrid shortly after.  General Franco subsequently ruled Spain with an iron hand. Speaking Catalan was prohibited. In the Monastery of Montserrat, where sermons were still held in Catalan, 21 monks were murdered. 

This suggests that Spain fell to Generalissimo Franco (true), he ruled with an iron hand (true), speaking Catalan was prohibited (sort of true) and then the monks were murdered; perhaps because they held sermons in Catalan. The problem I have is that the monks were murdered not by Franco's Nationalists but by the Republican side (more specifically, I'd guess POUM or the CNT) and they were murdered before the end of the War.

Additionally, "All the churches in Barcelona were burnt." is, I think, incorrect. I could be wrong but I believe in was an anti-catholic pogrom and other churches were not targeted (as Barcelona was overwhelmingly Catholic then Protestant churches were less significant). Again, this was done not by Franco's Nationalists but by the Republican side in territory not controlled by Franco.

Anti-clerical violence started before the Spanish Civil War.  On May 10, 1931 (5 years before the start of the Spanish Civil War and less than a month after King Alfonso XIII fled) Spain saw convents set alight in Madrid, Málaga, Seville, Cádiz and Alicante and 2 dozen churches attacked.

As an aside,  I've been told that the ban on Catalan was done with typical Spanish efficiency. Schools were ordered to teach in Castilian Spanish and so they "officially" complied. The school inspector would call ahead and let them know when an inspection was coming and on that day the students would put away their Catalan books and get out their Castilian books and class would be in Castilian as required. After the inspector left the Castilian books would go back in the closet and they continued in Catalan while the inspector could file a report that he is doing a great job and everything is how it is supposed to be.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Propaganda : Smash Capital Now

Smash capital now! poster by Christopher Logue
click to embiggen

The text (which is difficult to read from the scan) :
Know thy enemy:
he does not care what colour you are
provided you work for him;
he does not care how much you earn
provided you earn more for him;
he does not care who lives in the room at the top
provided he owns the building;
he will let you say whatever you like against him
provided you do not act against him;
he sings the praises of humanity
but knows machines cost more than men;
bargain with him, he laughs, and beats you at it;
challenge him,
and he kills.
sooner than lose the things he owns
he will destroy the world.
read The Black Dwarf
The referenced Black Dwarf was a British alternative newspaper published between 1968-1972,
I bet the first draft ended with "BUY the Black Dwarf" (price in 1968 : 2 shillings)

To be honest, that Che ring looks awfully aspirational.


An example of propaganda to divide.

The jeremiad applies to perfectly to communist governments, like Che's Cuba, with the exception of "he will let you say whatever you like against him"

I wonder if Capital in place of Capitalists because they actually oppose the use of capital or if it was a way of dehumanizing their target?

From an economic point of view it seems that smashing capital equipment and relying on human labor would make everyone poorer. For example, people working on a sugar farm in Cuba would get more done with the use of trucks than if they had to lug everything on their backs. Since capital allows them to produce more it drives the price down making it more accessible and higher production can allow them to make more money even with a lower price. Capital also frees labor to do other things.

It seems a piece of capital like a printing press would be useful rather than workers laboriously drawing each copy with a pen.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Possibly the Best Coat of Arms in the World

I would like to nominate as the best coat of arms in the world : Hensbroek

Hensbroek is a village in North Holland, Netherlands. "Hens" is dutch for chicken and "broek" is dutch for pants so obviously the coat of arms is a picture of a hen in pants.

from wiki (where they seem less sure as to what chickens look like.)

Hensbroek means hen's pants so why not draw a hen wearing pants?  Actually, it turns out that it's origins are "It was founded as "Heynsbroec", meaning the marshy wetland of Heyn"

An explanation in Dutch is here. I think it means that it was a swampy, marshy land where a person would not want to wear long trousers but instead wear pants (in the British sense or short pants). So, meaning "land-where-you-need-to-wear-short-pants of Hen" Presumably, the coat of arms was drawn without the historical memory of the original meaning.


To the people of the village of De Hulk in the Netherlands I offer a coat of arms of their own. I hope they won't be too modest and start calling themselves incredible.

Incredible Hulk coat of arms of De Hulk, North Holland,  Netherlands
De Hulk, Netherlands Coat of Arms

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Search suggestion fail

All I did was innocently search wikipedia for the admittedly obscure Dutch painter Barend Dircksz and look at what wiki thought I meant. No thanks.

Search for Barend Dircksz and wiki's suggestion fail : Banned Dicks

There is a tiny entry on the Dutch Wikipedia. For Barend Dircksz I mean.

Monday, May 18, 2015

How Orwellian : racism isn't racist

Bahar Mustafa is a student union diversity officer at Goldsmiths University in the UK who was trying to organize a racially segregated event but asserts that she can't be racist or sexist because she is an ethnic minority woman.

According to reports at the time, Ms Mustafa posted a message on Facebook which read: "Hey, I made as many of you hosts so please invite loads of BME Women and non-binary people!! 
"Also, if you've been invited and you're a man and/or white PLEASE DON’T COME just cos I invited a bunch of people and hope you will be responsible enough to respect this is a BME Women and non-binary event only."
Ms Mustafa added: "Don't worry lads we will give you and allies things to do", followed by  a winky face emoji.
In a video recently uploaded on local news website however, Ms Mustafa has described the backlash as "an outrageous distortion of fact".
In the seven-minute video, Ms Mustafa also refuted any accusation of racism and sexism', claiming "reverse racism and reverse sexism are not real".
In a presentation made in front of fellow students, Ms Mustafa said: "Furthermore, there have been charges made against me that I am racist and sexist to white men.

"I want to explain why this is false. I, an ethnic minority woman, cannot be racist or sexist towards white men, because racism and sexism describes structures of privilege based on race and gender.
"And therefore women of colour and minority genders cannot be racist or sexist because we do not stand to benefit from such a system.
"In order for our actions to be deemed racist or sexist, the current system would have to be one that enables only people of colour and women to benefit economically and socially on such a large scale and to the systematic exclusion of white people and men, who for the past 400 years would have to have been subjected to block colonisation.

"We do not live in such a system, we do not know of such a history, reverse racism and reverse sexism are not real."

First, this fails in reciprocity. Treat others how you want to be treated.

"Hey let's round up people based on their race and put them in a death camp!" should be considered racist who ever says it. Some people prefer chauvinism and think their racial hatred should be acceptable.

This definition enables racism against minorities.  "Hey, [ethnic slur], get in the back of the bus!" should be considered racist if uttered by an African to a Korean or vice versa. Her definition would mean that neither is racist.

If benefiting is the essential requirement of racism then wouldn't that mean a hotel owner who refuses to serve black customers is damaging his own business by turning away customers and is not benefiting from the discrimination.

It seems to me sadism is worse than someone benefiting. It is disturbing that treating another person badly isn't seen as poor behavior in and of itself.

Her notion that 400 years of discrimination until a minority could be considered racist is an appalling support of transgenerational race-based punishment. Fortunately, few people support punishing children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren for the deeds of their ancestors. Strangely, she doesn't seem to consider that transgenerational could be used against her.

400 years would suggest (about 25 years per generation) that she approves of punishing the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren not for any abuse dished out by the 16th generation grandparent –the individual's actions are irrelevant – but for the misdeeds of people who share the same race as the 16th generation grandparent.

I can't help but think of the similarity to the Curse of Ham being used as a justification of the slavery of the supposed descendants of Ham.

Some people aren't opposed to people suffering but just want to put the yoke of suffering around the neck of someone else.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The War on Metaphor

A tweet from Richard Horton (‏@richardhorton1) who is the editor in chief of the UK medical journal the Lancet and totalitarian crankypants :
The NRA's use of the "war" metaphor is an illegal incitement to violence and should be prosecuted.…
 [link to a BBC story about an NRA official saying "This is not a battle about gun rights,'' Mr Porter told attendees on Friday, saying it was "a culture war".]

Classic war on metaphor… Oops, did I say war? He is campaigning against … oops a campaign is a war metaphor too. He's targeting …ah, no.  He's going to the barricades to … nevermind. 

He even recognizes and identifies it as a metaphor! Unlike some people who don't understand (or pretend not to understand) that a metaphor is not literal, he identifies that a figure of speech is being used but unfortunately that makes him sound like even more of a book burning totalitarian.

First metaphors are jailable, then similes, then allegories, then onomatopoeia and then, well, he'll just make up a reason after you're in jail.

Speaking of war, guess who wrote a book called Health Wars? The very same Richard Horton.