The end of the empire

A furious and sustained backlash by a betrayed and angry populace, one unprepared intellectually, emotionally and psychologically for collapse, will sweep aside the Democrats and most of the Republicans and will usher America into a new dark age. It was the economic collapse in Yugoslavia that gave us Slobodan Milosevic. It was the Weimar Republic that vomited up Adolf Hitler. And it was the breakdown in Tsarist Russia that opened the door for Lenin and the Bolsheviks. A cabal of proto-fascist misfits, from Christian demagogues to loudmouth talk show hosts, whom we naïvely dismiss as buffoons, will find a following with promises of revenge and moral renewal.

Chris Hedges — American Psychosis

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How virtue goes rancid in the sun

Good intentions, like mother’s milk, are a perishable commodity. As wealth accumulates, men decay, and sooner or later an aristocracy that once might have aspired to an ideal of wisdom and virtue goes rancid in the sun, becomes an oligarchy distinguished by a character that Aristotle likened to that of “the prosperous fool”—its members so besotted by their faith in money that “they therefore imagine there is nothing that it cannot buy.

Lewis H. Lapham — Feast Of Fools

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The hindsight bias

When we attempt to understand past events, we implicitly test the hypotheses or rules we use to both interpret and anticipate the world around us. If, in hindsight, we systematically underestimate the surprises which the past held and holds for us, we are subjecting those hypotheses to inordinately weak tests and, presumably, finding little reason to change them. Thus, the very outcome knowledge which gives us the feeling that we understand what the past was all about may prevent us from learning anything from it.

B. Fischhoff — Hindsight ≠ foresight: the effect of outcome knowledge on judgment under uncertainty

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Translation is a design task

About a translation world where Harry Potter’s arch enemy is “Du-weißt-schon-wer,” Facebook users click “Me gusta”, and the Dude is named “le Duc.”

Antoine Lefeuvre — Translation is UX

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Now or never

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWhIayQL8YY
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Words I loathe

  • AwesomeObviously
  • Ninja — When used outside of the 忍び context, which is always
  • Guru — When used outside of the guru-shishya context, which is always
  • Badass — A piss poor substitute for ‘awesome’, see above
  • Troublemaker — When used to describe ‘bros’, see below
  • Bro — Not without its merits, as it describes all that’s wrong with the USA in three letters

To be continued.

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The “moon hoax” and the fate of knowing

This video is worth watching not only for the clarity of the argument, but especially for the conclusion it leads to.

From the description:

Collins is not sure if men went to the moon. but he is sure they could not have faked it.

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If airlines sold paint

Customer: Hi. How much is your paint?

Clerk: Well, sir, that all depends on quite a lot of things.

Customer: Can you give me a guess? Is there an average price?

Clerk: Our lowest price is $12 a gallon, and we have 60 different
prices up to $200 a gallon.

Customer: What’s the difference in the paint?

Clerk: Oh, there isn’t any difference; it’s all the same paint.
(more…)

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I Miss

…holding soft skin and quiet respiration in my arms.

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Fado

The night of sunday is slowly becoming monday. In a small tasca in Alfama the doors are now closed and the lights turned down. Only a few faithful remain to listen to the fadista sing of love lost, longing and the sweet sadness of goodbyes.  No one wants to leave this warm, comforting and familiar heartache.
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380 B.C.

Until philosophers are kings, or the kings and princes of this world have the spirit and power of philosophy, and political greatness and wisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either to the exclusion of the other are compelled to stand aside, cities will never have rest from their evils — no, nor the human race, as I believe — and then only will this our State have a possibility of life and behold the light of day.

Plato – The Republic, Book V

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Gather ye rosebuds

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime
You may for ever tarry.
To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time (Gather ye rosebuds) — Robert Herrick

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Epic rant (and no less epic dry martini recipe)

I could quote the whole post, but these are the most inspired bits:

Who drinks Peanut Butter and Jelly Vodka? WHO? I’ll tell you who. People who think martinis have flavors. THOSE ARE NOT MARTINIS YOU ARE DRINKING. They are drinks, yes. They come in martini glasses, yes. But a martini glass does not make a martini. A martini does not have the flavor of apples or chocolate or blueberry. Martinis taste like life; bitter. Because they are made with gin. And gin is the chosen drink of the bitter.

And

Open vermouth, pour contents down the sink. Stare at martini glass, wondering why you are even going to bother pretending like you are drinking for fun. Put glass back. Open gin. Drink from bottle, coming up for breath about every ten seconds until bottle is empty. Slam bottle on counter, open olives. Put olive on each finger and hold up hands, shouting “Look, olive mittens!” Pass out on kitchen floor.

That’s a martini. That’s a drink.

• • •

Not a family

Wise words on the current “we’re all buddies here” work market fad:

…despite advances in working conditions and employee protections, workers remain in essence tools in a process in which their own happiness or economic well-being is necessarily incidental. Whatever camaraderie may build up between employer and employed, whatever goodwill workers may display and however many years they may have devoted to a task, they must live with the knowledge and attendant anxiety that their status is not guaranteed – that it remains dependent on their own performance and the economic well-being of their organizations; that they are hence a means to profit, and never ends in themselves.

Alain de Botton – Status Anxiety

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Cinderella

Most of us are suckers for a good Cinderella story. Here’s the latest: last night, during Bryan Adams’ gig in Rock in Rio Lisboa, a random girl[ref]It is debatable whether the choice was completely random, but still. Singing in front of more than 80.000 people, is not for the faint of heart.[/ref] was picked from the audience, to sing “When You’re Gone” with Bryan. Here’s how Vanessa Silva nailed it like a boss:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tv_teOvUveY]

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How Frank fell for Lisbon

© Joao Pedro Marnoto for The New York Times

It always amazes me to read someone’s account of their discovery of Lisbon. I have always had trouble describing the city to those who have never visited it, as the report never fails to sound dull, missing the point, somehow. This New York Times chronicle, however, nails it exactly:

In Lisbon it occurred to me that maybe our favorite places are simply those in which our expectations are routinely exceeded, happenstance cuts in our favor, and it doesn’t matter which fork in the road we take. It leads somewhere we’re happy to be.

Lisbon isn’t a city you visit with a “program” or a “circuit” of things to do. Of course, as a selling point on a travel brochure, this isn’t much of an argument, but that is precisely what makes it so compelling to us, who live here:

…in that moment I realize what — more than the tiles, trams or water — endears Lisbon to me. It has a humility that is rare on a storied continent with so much reason and readiness to boast.

There’s nothing immediate about this city. She won’t care about you at first, but will let herself be discovered, all her perfect flaws, and will finally let you sit down with her, cuddling in silence, admiring the sunset over the Tejo, enjoying one last dinner, as the rumble of the party downtown starts to slowly, imperceptibly but inevitably make her loins sing and swing.

I wasn’t told to approach it on bended knee. I could instead stumble upon it, tumble into it and let it lift me up.

 

• • •

3:30

Portugal, em três minutos e trinta.
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