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Polarization in Poland: A Warning From Europe - The Atlantic
What has caused this transformation? Were some of our friends always closet authoritarians? Or have the people with whom we clinked glasses in the first minutes of the new millennium somehow changed over the subsequent two decades? My answer is a complicated one, because I think the explanation is universal. Given the right conditions, any society can turn against democracy. Indeed, if history is anything to go by, all societies eventually will.

Perhaps this is unsurprising. All of these debates, whether in 1890s France or 1990s Poland, have at their core a series of important questions: Who gets to define a nation? And who, therefore, gets to rule a nation? For a long time, we have imagined that these questions were settled—but why should they ever be?
politics  history  culture 
6 days ago
Kerlingarfjöll - Wikipedia
(from different source) A volcanic desert covers much of Iceland, and these Highlands (as they’re known) are mostly devoid of plant life and frequently covered by glaciers. However, the dry hills can be just as spectacularly scenic as the lush lowlands: Here, hikers traverse a ridge of the Kerlingarfjöll mountain range as plumes of geothermal steam vent to the surface. The entire range sits over a nearly 40-square-mile tuya volcano system that not only generates these steam plumes but also heats a nearby collection of much beloved hot springs. A geothermal power plant was once proposed for the area, but the Kerlingarfjöll range was given protected nature reserve status in 2017.
10 days ago
Love In The Time Of War - The Reykjavik Grapevine
Aside from the bombing of the oil tanker El Grillo, whose hulk can still be found lying at the bottom of Seyðisfjörður, Iceland largely escaped the ravages of World War II.

He condemns not only the occupation and the war profiteers but also the prejudices of his countrymen. In fact, according to documents that later came to light, Prime Minister Hermann Jónasson demanded that there would be no African-Americans (although that was hardly the term used at the time) among the troops sent over before he agreed to their arrival. Jóhannes, however, describes the worries of his countrymen thusly:
A man came from the south and had something novel to add: black babies were being born in the hospitals of the capital and their dark fathers bore vicious social diseases. It followed that the Bolshies were advocating this mixing of colours because of their internationalism. Perhaps they also saw it as their duty, since most of the negroes were descendants of slaves. Upon receiving this information, every kind-hearted soul came to the inspired conclusion that the father of Butterfly’s child was a pitch black barbarian, on his last legs due to syphilis, and that the girls’ brother, the communist Máni Mýsingur, had arranged it all on orders from Moscow.

And the philosopher said dreamily: “Oh, I have travelled the world and never seen such beautiful women. But they have no heart!”

More recently, a play called ‘Tengdó’ (“Mother-in-Law”) debuted this spring at the City Theatre, which tells the true story of a woman who spent 50 years searching for her father. The missing parent was not only an American soldier but also the only black man in Iceland, who somehow slipped through the cracks of Iceland’s “whites only” policy. Adding further intrigue is the fact that the mother was 42-years-old at the time while the soldier was 26, belying previous accounts that it was only helpless young girls who succumbed to foreign charms.
Sadly, despite the impressions made by both Americans and British during the war years, almost none of these works have been translated into English. But no doubt they will continue to appear here, on stage, in print, on iPads and iPods, in new forms and in new interpretations, for though Iceland escaped the worst of World War II, it had never been so profoundly and permanently altered as it was during those tumultuous war years.
iceland  history 
12 days ago
Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul - The New York Times

In 2005, Mr. Pamuk responded to an interviewer’s question about a crackdown on freedom of expression in Turkey by asserting that “a million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in this country and I’m the only one who dares to talk about it.” The offhand remark, published in a Swiss newspaper, resulted in death threats, vilification in the Turkish press and charges by an Istanbul public prosecutor of the “public denigration of Turkish identity.” Mr. Pamuk was forced to flee the country for nearly a year — his longest time out of Turkey. The charges were abandoned in January 2006 amid an international outcry, and the threats have subsided. Though Mr. Pamuk sometimes travels with bodyguards, especially during his nocturnal rambles, he now feels relatively safe.
walking  writer  culture  history  travel 
15 days ago
How Much Viking Lore Is True? - National Geographic
Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough...Speaking from her home in Durham, England, she explains how the United States should really celebrate Leif the Lucky, not Columbus, why the Soviets hated the idea that Russia had been founded by the Vikings, and how the gruesome Viking torture known as the Blood Eagle may have been more poetic conceit than historical practice.
Roberta Frank at Yale
iceland  academic  history  socialscience 
17 days ago
How to Retire in Your 30s With $1 Million in the Bank - The New York Times
By ditching a big city, Ms. Shen and Mr. Leung exemplify another underlying reason for the popularity of FIRE: the high price of urban life, especially in places like New York and Southern California. There’s the insane housing prices, the high cost of child care, the temptations of so-called lifestyle creep.
finances  culture 
18 days ago
Debunking Donald Trump's latest conspiracy theory on Google - CNNPolitics
This is the essence of all conspiracy theories: You can't prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am wrong, so I just might be right! The best conspiracy theories are perfect machines in that regard; any attempt to debunk them will a) necessarily come up short because definitive proof cannot and will not exist and b) the very act of attempting to debunk will be seen as a surefire sign you are in on the conspiracy!
news  media 
26 days ago
How Will Trump's Presidency End? - The Atlantic
Those he commands move only in command,

Nothing in love. Now does he feel his title

Hang loose about him, like a giant’s robe

Upon a dwarfish thief.

And so it will be for Trump. To be clear, these are very different people. Macbeth is an utterly absorbing, troubling, tragic, and compelling figure. Unlike America’s germaphobic president, who copped five draft deferments and has yet to visit the thousands of American soldiers on the front lines in Afghanistan or Iraq, he is physically brave. In fact, the first thing we hear about him is that in the heat of battle with a rebel against King Duncan (whom he later murders) Macbeth “unseamed him from the nave to th’ chops.” He is apparently faithful to his wife, has a conscience (that he overcomes), knows guilt and remorse, and has self-knowledge. He also has a pretty good command of the English language. In all these respects he is as unlike Trump as one can be.

But in the moment of losing power, the two will be alike. A tyrant is unloved, and although the laws and institutions of the United States have proven a brake on Trump, his spirit remains tyrannical—that is, utterly self-absorbed and self-concerned, indifferent to the suffering of others, knowing no moral restraint. He expects fealty and gives none. Such people can exert power for a long time, by playing on the fear and cupidity, the gullibility and the hatreds of those around them. Ideological fervor can substitute for personal affection and attachment for a time, and so too can blind terror and sheer stupidity, but in the end, these fall away as well.
politics  culture  history  literature 
27 days ago
Wordnik: world-known - definition and meaning
Humanity stands and flies and walks and rolls about—the poor, the priceless, the world-known and the forgotten; child and grandfather, king and leman—the pageant of the world goes by, set in a frame of stone and jewels, clothed in scarlet and rags.
word  language 
27 days ago
What The Vikings REALLY Drank – Norse Tradesman
It would be inaccurate, to picture the Norsemen as drunken brutes, as most beers of the age were much lower in alcohol content than they are in modern times. It is almost certain that the Norse people had an understanding of the dangers of drunkenness and intoxication. The Viking Hávamál often voices these warnings, for example:

Less good than they say
for the sons of men
is the drinking oft of ale:
for the more they drink,
the less they can think
and keep a watch over their wits.

The brewing of alcoholic beverages should not be looked at as a sign of a carnal society, but rather a testament to the sophistication of the Norse peoples. Anyone who has ever brewed their own beer knows this! The Norsemen traveled and traded throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and even North America. On their travels, they discovered grains and brewing techniques never before seen in their homeland. The domestication of cereals that enabled them to brew beer was a feat of ingenuity, technology and societal structure.
iceland  culture 
29 days ago - Learn Words - English Dictionary
All flaming convictions have a tendency to cool into CANT, and "the Freedom of the Press" has so long been a vote-catching phrase that it is hard nowadays to realize that it was once an expression of an ideal for which men were willing to die but which they scarcely hoped to achieve.
language  words 
4 weeks ago
A.Word.A.Day --tittup
noun: A lively movement; caper.
verb intr.: To move in an exaggerated prancing manner.

If you have more than three pairs of pants and want to call each by a different name, try these: indescribables, indispensables, innominables, never-mention-ems, unimaginables, unprintables, unutterables, unwhisperables, and etceteras. You can thank Vicky (who gave us Victorian morality) for them.
words  fun 
4 weeks ago
FACT CHECK: Is 'Bluetooth' Named After a Viking King?
King Harald “Blåtand” Gormsson, also known as King Harald I, is remembered for unifying Denmark, converting the Danes to Christianity, and conquering Norway:

It is thought that his nickname was Blåtand (Blátǫnn in Old Norse), meaning Blue Tooth, because he had a dead tooth that had turned bluish.  
5 weeks ago
Rauðskinna - Wikipedia
Rauðskinna (English: Red Skin), also known as The Book of Power, is a legendary book about black magic, alleged to have been buried with its author, the Bishop Gottskálk grimmi Nikulásson of Hólar. The subject of the book was to learn to master magic to such a degree as to control Satan. The book has been the subject of legend and folklore and desired by practitioners of galdr. One such legend is when the galdr master Loftur Þorsteinsson tried to acquire it and allegedly lost his life because of it.[1]
5 weeks ago
Polyandry - Wikipedia
Polyandry is believed to be more likely in societies with scarce environmental resources. It is believed to limit human population growth and enhance child survival.[6][7] It is a rare form of marriage that exists not only among peasant families but also among the elite families.[8] For example, polyandry in the Himalayan mountains is related to the scarcity of land.
write  scifi  speculation  history  sex  culture 
5 weeks ago
Helen the Whore and the Curse of Beauty | History Today
Gift-exchange also bound states together in an abstract convention known as xenia – or xenwia as it appears in the Greek Late Bronze Age script, now called Linear B. Xenia roughly translates as ‘guest-friendship’ (literally ‘for guest-gift’) and was a means by which the traveller could be safely entertained in a stranger’s halls, an exchange of gifts demonstrating the goodwill between the two parties.
history  greek  academic 
5 weeks ago
A Dream Ended on a Mountain Road: The Cyclists and the ISIS Militants - The New York Times
“You get a feeling of wanting to give back, not just to this person who has welcomed a stranger into their home, but to the wider world,” Mr. Austin wrote. “You become someone who wants to welcome others into your home. You become a merchant in the gift economy.”
sociology  culture  history  socialscience  journalism  travel 
6 weeks ago
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