Will The Dead Finally Speak? : The victims of Franco’s fascist regime are being uncovered

Vice News produced this report on the mass murders perpetrated by Francisco Franco during his 36 year fascist regime.  He was so blatant in his crimes, so unabashedly unashamed of them, that many of the victims were buried within the communities where they lived.  They were murdered, and their families forced to live with their relatives’ bodies under their own feet for fifty years.

And this video only deals with the mass graves of 100,000 bodies.  It doesn’t touch on the estimated 300,000 stolen children, either victims of the dead or kidnapped by the catholic cult which was complicit in the regime’s crimes.  “Civil war”?  There was nothing civil about it.

Like many other countries, neofascism is on the rise in Spain.  The “leader” of Spain’s fascist movement (in the video below) engages in historical revisionism, denying that the mass murdered victims even existed.  But Spain has two key differences from most countries where ignorant and racist rightwing “populism” took hold: a popular and competent socialist government, and the republican families of the “disappeared”, millions who know about and remember the crimes of the regime.

Unlike Germany or the US where fascist extremism was hidden from view for decades, Spain’s fascists have still been there since the 1970s.  The question is whether they can attract enough mainstream support, or whether Spain’s populace retains its long memory as the dead are being recovered and families may finally get answers and bury their relatives properly.

Spain’s Far-Right Resurgence Comes From Decades of Fascist Organizing

In Spain’s last general election in 2019, the far right achieved its best ever result. With 3.7 million votes (15 percent) and fifty-two seats, Vox became the third-largest party in the Congreso de los Diputados. And it hasn’t stopped advancing. Earlier this year, it joined the government in Castilla y León, Spain’s largest region. If a decade ago Vox didn’t exist, today its leaders appear on prime-time comedy shows — and with general elections slated for 2023, they could soon even be in cabinet.

All this has been a surprise to a certain mainstream mantra. For decades, it had painted Spain as an oasis of democracy, even the only country in Europe without a far right, just because it didn’t show up on election day. But recognizing these forces’ power today is also about facing up to reality. The Spanish far right isn’t just back: it never really went away. Vox is not its only name. That’s something committed anti-fascists have known for over three decades.

Music Rules: Affecting the disaffected, and speaking for the voiceless

Suicidal Tendencies’s self titled debut studio album was released forty years ago on July 5, 1983.  The hit single “Institutionalized” spoke for a generation of disaffected teens like me (then 16) who saw a screwed up world of boomers saying “you’re the problem” despite them being the ones in charge.  We went to their schools, their churches, their institutions of learning.  So how could they say we were “crazy”?

The video is legendary, with cameos from Mary Woronov (queen of the B-Movies) as Mike Muir’s “mother”, and Jack Nance (lead actor in “Eraserhead”) as his “father”.  It’s more than funny, it was relatable for many people, even those who didn’t like this sort of music.

The album “Suicidal Tendencies” had a massive influence on the record industry.  It sold over 100,000 copies in the first year, proving that bands could be successful on independent labels and didn’t need major labels, which many bands and labels benefitted from over the next 20 years.

“ST” was an album that bridged the gap between Punk Rock and Heavy Metal, and heavily influenced Thrash Metal and other genres and bands.  And it wasn’t just musical influence.  Suicidal Tendencies’ members are Latino and Black, which (like Bad Brains) took them far beyond the mostly white Punk Rock audience.  Cypress Hill quoted and sampled “Institutionalized” in their hit song “How I Could Just Kill a Man”.  Seeing people like yourself and hearing people say things that you think and feel is life changing.

The entire album can be heard on this youtube playlist.  The entire album is great.  Another notable song on the album is “I Shot The Devil”, which was (allegedly) renamed from “I Shot Reagan” after being contacted by the FBI.


Running Costs: Car drivers can’t do basic math

One of my favourite facebook groups, “Fuck, and I can’t stress this enough, them cars”, posts a lot of different things.  Some memes, some laughter at bad driving, criticism of driver entitlement some news about traffic terrorists killing people, support for public transit, bicycles, and (as below) about the economic or environmental costs of cars, among other topics.

In response to someone else’s post about “car ownership” in the US, I did a little math about oversized crapwagons (SUVs, five ton pickups, etc.) and the costs of private vehicles versus public transit.  According to Car and Driver, the numbers below are the average monthly costs of paying for and operating a vehicle in the US.

  Average new-car monthly payment:   $648
  Average used-car monthly payment:   $503
  Average monthly premium insurance:   $112
  Monthly average gas cost for 15,000 miles per year:   $270
  Maintenance and repairs:   $119
  Monthly registration, fees, taxes, and miscellaneous:   $12
  Total monthly car cost   $1,161

[Edit: Obviously I can’t do math either, or I’m inattentive and was just looking at the total.]

Notice that I said “paying and operating”, not “owning”, because many are paying for leases, have balloon or buyout payments that they will never afford.  In reality, most of those driving SUVs, oversized pickups, etc., will never hold the title to that vehicle.  And if they do, its book value will be next to worthless because of rising costs in the future.

According to Urban.org, the cost of efficient public transit for Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metropolitan area would be $2.2 billion annually.

What Would Providing Every City with High-Quality, Zero-Emissions Public Transportation Look Like?

During his presidential campaign, president-elect Joe Biden prioritized transportation investment, particularly in the form of projects to mitigate US carbon emissions and increase access to opportunity for people of color.

In his transition plan, Biden aims to “provide every American city with 100,000 or more residents with high-quality, zero-emissions public transportation options.” The US House of Representatives-passed Moving Forward Act promotes a similar ambition to significantly improve transit service across the country.


Improving transit quality in every urban area to, at minimum, conditions in the Dallas region would cost an additional $2.2 billion annually. This would be a 4.5 percent increase nationally in operating budgets but would expand per capita transit service by 30.3 percent for the average urban area.

National funding?  You don’t even need that.

The DFW metropolitan area’s population was 7,637,387 in 2020.  Assuming that only half of the population would use public transit (i.e. kids under 6 don’t pay, school kids pay half price, the very wealthy refuse to use it), and if every one of those half of the population paid an average of $50 per month (less than 1/20th 1/30th of operating a car) that would be $2,291,216,100 in revenue.  That’s enough to fund that entire transit system without federal funding.  At least two million people would no longer be driving, eliminating a massive amount of traffic, pollution, and danger to others.

Anyone who believes private cars are better than public transit is a distracted driver, i.e. too distracted by worrying about their next payment to look at how much they’re wasting.  If people weren’t ignorant and brainwashed to believe the “cars = freedumb!” lie and really knew the costs of private vehicles, they would be raising hell.

Present Company Excepted: When corporations beat education

I just watched Beau of the Fifth Column’s latest video on the Supreme Corrupt‘s “decision” to end Affirmative Action. He attacks ‘legacy’ admissions, which are the people actually stealing places at universities from the more deserving.  After watching, however, I had a thought that he didn’t touch on.  It’s a point he had made himself before, so it’s odd that he left it out.

He previously said that US businesses and corporations are catering and advertising to LGBTQIA people, that they understand it’s good business.  They do it even when corrupt republican “laws” on the books encourage and protect bigotry.  These companies are admitting which side of history is going to win.

The same goes with education.  Young people want an equitable society, and that includes educational opportunities.  US colleges and universities should behave the same way as multinational corporations.  Ignore the Supreme Corrupt, and keep Affirmative Action as policy anyway (along with ending “white affirmative action”, aka “legacies”).  Educational institutions should be doing the same as businesses, telling government that diversity matters.  One would think that “not for profit” would lead the way on this, not for-profit businesses (which are usually owned by conservatives).



Culture Cancelled: Sandblast, 1972-2003

This is just silliness.

Twenty years ago, early July 2003, the last Sandblast event took place in Prince George, British Columbia.  It was a summer “skiing” event held annually from 1972 until 2003. It ended after an infamous accident (below the fold), after which insurance companies refused to back the event.

This was sheer lunacy.  Skiing down a steep gravel embankment of sand and gravel that ended on a ditch and a roadway, what was locally called “the cutbanks”.  The link is to google maps.  You can see the effect of the event’s 32 year history on the hillside in the satellite view.

They used old skis, snowboards, bicycles, or (in the final year) furniture, hoping to win prizes (often, a paid trip to and hotel stay in Vancouver) and maybe some bandages.  Some participants dressed for the event in ski clothes, leather, or at least jeans, while the most foolhardy wore little more than t-shirts and shorts.  Amazingly, in 32 years of events, the worst injuries were a few broken bones, “mild” concussions, and countless severe raspberries from bare skin sliding on gravel.

More below the fold.

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Do You Mind? : Soma cubes, at 90

I’m sure most reading this have played with a Rubik’s Cube.  But how many here are familiar with Soma Cubes?  Soma was the Rubik’s Cube of its era.  (*)

The word soma originates from the Greek word for body.  The Oxford English Dictionary defines it thus:

soma (noun: soma; plural noun: somas)

1. (Biology) the parts of an organism other than the reproductive cells.

2. the body as distinct from the soul, mind, or psyche.

In 1933, Danish polymath Piet Hein was watching a lecture on quantum mechanics conducted by Werner Heisenberg when he invented Soma: a 3x3x3 cube of 27 cubes in total, made up of seven pieces.  One is a three cube piece in a V shape, the others are six of the seven possible combinations of four cubes.  There are knockoff versions of Soma that include the square (yellow in the above image), leaving out one of the mirrored grey pieces.

The main goal of Soma is to form a cube from the seven pieces.  John Conway and Michael Guy proved mathematically that there are only 240 possible cube solutions, excluding mirrored or rotated solutions.  As seen in the picture below, there are other shapes which can be made using the Soma pieces.  The Soma Cube I had when I was younger contained a book listing other things to make, such as two different castles.  There are also shapes containing 27 cubes which have been proven impossible without substituting pieces from another cube (the Gordian Knot, and the Skyscraper).

Thorleif’s SOMA page has a huge trove of puzzles, links, PDFs, including Martin Gardner’s 1958 Scientific American Column, and many others.  This youtube link demonstrates (spoilers!) how to form the cube and many of its other constructions seen below.

If you know someone obsessed with the Rubik’s Cube, introduce them to Soma.

(*  And Rubik’s Cube was the Tetris of its era.  What is it with us that we like block shaped toys and games?  Interestingly, the Rubik’s Cube reaches its 50th anniversary next year, invented in 1974 by Hungarian mathematician Ernő Rubik.  Another well known and older puzzle is the Tangram, though other than its 18th century origins in China, not much can be said about its history.  And the Lego company was founded in 1934, though its ubiquitous plastic blocks didn’t come until years later.)

You May Observe: A new Solar Calendar unearthed in the Netherlands

The last time I checked, everywhere on Earth you can see the sun and the moon.  The question is less whether there are more solar calendars around the world, but which ones have not yet been uncovered?  IFLScience lives up to the name again.

Huge 4,000-Year-Old Solar Calendar Sanctuary Unearthed In Netherlands

A 4,000-year-old solar calendar sanctuary has been unearthed by archaeologists in the Netherlands who have described it as the first of its kind. The size of four football pitches, this vast religious site appears to have been constructed so the sun shines straight through certain passages on the main burial mounds on the winter and summer solstice.

The site is located near the town of Tiel at the construction site of an industrial park. Archaeologists have been working here since 2016 in a series of digs, but this colossal open-air sanctuary was only recently found in an excavation this year. 


Among the site, archaeologists have yielded over 1 million objects dating from the Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman Age, and Middle Ages. The parts of the site dating to the early Bronze Age include around 25,000 bone remains, 32,000 bone shards, 170,000 clay fragments, 58,000 natural stones, and 10,000 flints.

One particularly interesting discovery at the site is a green glass bead found among one of the central graves. Remarkably, analysis has shown that it originated in Mesopotamia – present-day Iraq – some 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles) away, as the crow flies. This indicates that these two vastly different cultures, separated by thousands of miles of land, were somehow in contact with one another up to 4,000 years ago.

Music Rules, part 1: Happy 75th anniversary to LP records

It was 75 years ago, on June 21, 1948, that Columbia Records released the first LP record.  RCA Victor created the competing 45/7″ format in 1949, another anniversary to look forward to.  I think I’ve linked to it before, a video by Techmoan (aka Matt Taylor) from three years ago, where he talks about the 1949 vinyl format war as a war that everybody won – good for music listeners, and good for the the producers.

Vinyl is (ugh) made from petroleum, unlike 10″ 78 records which were made from shellac, the secretions of the lac bug.  Vinyl was adopted because it was far more durable and produced much higher sound quality, allowing more music on a single record.  A 10″ record played only three minutes per side.  12″ vinyl LPs at 33RPM were designed to hold entire classical music pieces, up to twenty minutes per side, and 7″ 45s could hold up to four minutes.  Record companies were looking for new and higher quality music formats in the late 1930s, but a little thing called World War II interfered with their plans.

From Making Vinyl.com:

Columbia Records Makes History with the Release of the First Vinyl LP Record

Columbia Records made history on June 21, 1948, by releasing the first vinyl long-playing (LP) record. The invention of the LP marked a significant milestone in the history of music technology, as it allowed for longer and higher-quality recordings to be played on turntables.

The man behind this revolutionary technology was Peter Goldmark, a Hungarian-American inventor working for Columbia Records. Goldmark spent years developing and perfecting the LP, which held up to an hour of music on a single disc. Before this, most records could only hold about four minutes of music.

The LP quickly gained popularity among music fans, and by the 1950s, it had become the dominant format for recorded music. It remained the standard for decades until the rise of digital music in the late 20th century.

Today, as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the LP, it’s clear that Goldmark’s invention had a lasting impact on the music industry. Vinyl records have made a comeback in recent years, with many music fans seeking out the warm, analog sound of the LP.

So here’s to Peter Goldmark and the LP – a true game-changer in the music world.

For fun, below the fold are a few songs that reference vinyl records.

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Cars Suck: Desert edition (or should I say, desertification)

And people suck, too.  Something I was reminded of today, disaster from 1973:

Last Tree of Ténéré

The Ténéré wastelands of northeastern Niger were once populated by a forest of trees. By the 20th century, desertification had wiped out all but one solitary acacia.

The Tree of Ténéré, as it came to be called, had no companions for 400 kilometers in every direction. Its roots reached nearly 40 meters deep into the sand.

The tree had become a sacred object among the nomadic Tuareg people that would pass by it on their journeys, never using it for firewood, or allowing their camels to graze on it. As more desert explorers came across the shockingly hardy plant, it became quite well known and was even included as a landmark on European military maps of the otherwise desolate expanse during the 1930s. When Michel Lesourd of the Central Service of Saharan Affairs first came upon the tree in 1939, he wrote:

“One must see the Tree to believe its existence. What is its secret? How can it still be living in spite of the multitudes of camels which trample at its sides? How at each azalai does not a lost camel eat its leaves and thorns? Why don’t the numerous Touareg leading the salt caravans cut its branches to make fires to brew their tea? The only answer is that the tree is taboo and considered as such by the caravaniers. There is a kind of superstition, a tribal order which is always respected. Each year the azalai gather round the Tree before facing the crossing of the Ténéré. The Acacia has become a living lighthouse; it is the first or the last landmark for the azalai leaving Agadez for Bilma, or returning.”

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I Need To Backtrack: Regarding Ted Cruz and his “commission”

Hypotheticals aren’t the best thing to post, but….

Back in April 2023, audio surfaced of a phone call between Ted “Crud” Cruz and Mario “Bad Moon” Bartiromo”, talking about a “commission” that would oversee the fight between the legitimate election results and the republican attempt to overthrow it.

Most thought that the audio showed Cruz was taking Cheetolini’s side to overthrow the election.  But it’s what he didn’t say that raised my eyebrow.

Bartiromo: Who’s deciding who would get inaugurated?

Cruz: It would be the results of that commission and what they find and if they found credible evidence of fraud that undermines confidence in the electoral results in any given state they would report on that.

He never mentioned Cheetolini as “being the winner”.  Is that because he was “trying to sound impartial”?  Yeah, right.  More likely, Cruz would try to make himself head of that commission.  Not just “lead it”, but direct it.

What if Cruz managed to “prove both Cheetolini AND Biden lost”?  Who would replace Biden as rightful president if that happened?  I don’t believe it’s a stretch to see Cruz positioning himself for and organizing his own coup d’etat for the presidency, especially as another was going on.  He wasn’t the most senior senate republican or cabinet secretary, but he wasn’t that far down the list in order of succession.

From Newsweek, April 2023:

Ted Cruz Tapes To Be Handed Over to Jack Smith’s DOJ Probe

A lawyer for Fox News whistleblower Abby Grossberg—the former producer on Tucker Carlson Tonight who’s suing the host and other executives at the network—has confirmed that the DOJ’s Special Counsel Jack Smith has requested access to some of the recordings in her possession.

The lawyer confirmed Smith’s request on MSNBC on Tuesday, saying that he had “been contacted by several law enforcement authorities.” When asked by news anchor Ari Melber if the DOJ was “one of those entities,” the lawyer replied “yes.” He then confirmed, after being prompted by Melber, that it was the special counsel—Jack Smith—who got in touch.

While the lawyer didn’t specify exactly which tapes Smith asked for—Grossberg said she has about 90 unaired recordings from inside Fox News—MSNBC aired a part of the Ted Cruz tapes where the Texas senator discusses overthrowing the election with Fox’s Maria Bartiromo.


Driving Tests: My patience, definitely

If anyone needs a good argument for computer simulation before student drivers are allowed behind the wheel, here’s one.  There should also be dual controls in the car, so the instructor has a wheel and a brake pedal to prevent things like this.  But better still, no private cars and better public transit.


No learner drivers were hurt in the making of the video.





What Did You Expect?: Cop dogs can’t be trusted either

The only thing shocking about this story and lawsuit is that it didn’t happen before.  Likely because cops cover up for each other, they hide and destroy evidence.

Also not shocking is that it took a white man filing suit for this to be taken seriously.  How many people, especially Black people, were railroaded into false convictions, their property stolen (not “seized”) by cops?  From NPR:

Courts have long seen K-9 dogs as impartial. Now police bodycams hold them accountable

For decades, American courts have had to take it on faith that drug-sniffing dogs were impartial. Testimony by a dog’s handler, along with training records and credentialing by a local K-9 organization, were usually enough. But the recent spread of body cameras now threatens to upend that faith.

A newly filed federal lawsuit in Texas shows cameras’ potential to undermine K-9 unit legitimacy. Houston resident Alek Schott accuses Bexar County Sheriff’s deputy Joel Babb of pulling him over on Interstate 35 on false pretenses, and then, when he refused to give permission to search his pickup truck, he says K-9 unit deputy Martin A. Molina III prompted his dog to “alert” to the scent of drugs.

Historically, that claim would have been nearly impossible to prove. But in this case, Schott requested and received the officers’ body camera footage, giving him almost the same view the K-9 handler had — including the moment the handler’s right hand made a gesture toward the attentive dog, which then jumped up on the pickup’s door.

“It’s clear to me that he’s telling the dog to alert,” Schott says. “I thought, ‘These guys are trying to destroy my life.’ “

This suit should bring into question EVERY prosecution based on “dogs reacting”.  How many were cases of dogs coached or commanded to react?

Compare, Contrast, And Contradict: The media still doesn’t get it

Remember in 2022 after Russia invaded Ukraine, how the media reported on Ukrainian refugees?  From ReliefWeb (a United Nations agency):

How US and European media language used to describe the Ukrainian crisis reflects deeply rooted racism against non-European refugees

Communities across Europe opened their doors to welcome over four million refugees fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine which started on the 24th of February, 2022. While solidarity with Ukrainians fleeing the violence has been inspiring, the language used by US and European journalists against non-European refugees fleeing the country is concerning. The terms used to describe non-European refugees reflect a racist European and American policy that only extends human rights protections to certain groups of people to the exclusion of others, making the death and suffering of Middle-Eastern, African and Asian refugees more expected and therefore tolerated.

The racist language used by journalists is only the tip of the iceberg of discrimination. Reports by Euro-Med Monitor’s team and other human rights agencies show that Black, Asian, and Middle Eastern refugees are treated very differently when they arrive at the border in European countries. While Ukrainian refugees receive immediate help and fast processing to cross the border in Poland, refugees of African origin are asked to wait and are sometimes forced to use more dangerous routes to make the trip.

Emphasis in the text is mine.  You would think after a public dressing down and worldwide condemnation of racist, patriarchal and patronizing language that they would learn not to do it again.  But you would have thought wrong.

South Africa is suffering severe blackouts in recent weeks due to their energy system failing.  They are still heavily dependent on coal, and the planned move to renewable or other sources never happened.

How is the media reporting this?  Solely as an issue of corruption and lack of investment, with no accountability for the apartheid regime that ruled for nearly a century.  It reeks of the racist trope that “Black people can’t govern themselves,” inferring that the sole responsibility for the current situation lies with the Black majority government of the past 30 years.  In a single item, Bloomberg praises the apartheid regime for “being forward thinking” about South Africa’s energy needs while simultaneously blaming the ANC for the entirety of SA’s current problems.  This despite both governments overseeing the same energy system.

I don’t know enough to comment on the details of how the country operates or its problems, but I would like to ask Bloomberg one question:

When apartheid ruled South Africa, didn’t that “sufficient energy supply” go almost entirely to the 10% white population, while Black South Africans mostly lived in poverty, in townships, and didn’t have electricity?

That hardly sounds like the apartheid regime “planned ahead”, unless you meant “planned to fail” when they turned over the reins of power.  It sounds to me like the ANC tried to give people more access to electricity and better quality of life.

Lying Tracks: Anti-rail propaganda

Today, I saw this pathetic piece of so-called “news” – from PBS, to boot – whining about long freight trains and long breakdowns “dividing towns”. This is not just third rate “journalism”, it’s anti-rail propaganda.

NO mention or poor or failing train infrastructure.

NO mention of failure to build bridges or underpasses for cars or pedestrians.

NO mention of inadequate government regulation (except to call for meaningless fines).

NO call to regulate railroads the same way the airline industry is regulated.

They are as useless at reporting issues as the US government is at addressing the problem.  The only thing the mouthpieces in the story call for is minor fines for rail companies instead of addressing the actual issue: Trains are getting longer because it’s more profitable for the rail companies.  Fewer trains equals fewer employees, and with no meaningful consequences (like regulation), they will do nothing.  Especially when they have a pal like Biden protecting them, signing “laws” that force rail employees back to work, denying the right to strike.

The fake news in the video goes on about “children having to crawl between cars on a stopped train to get to school!”, as if safety were the concern.  According to the University of North Carolina, pedestrian overpasses cost up to US$250 per square foot.  To safely build over a single track of rail would take a footbridge six metres high and six metres across, plus stairs up and down on each side of the rail.  Safe pedestrian overpasses could be built quickly for less than $100,000 each, which would alleviate the problem short term and remain there as a long term safe crossing. These mouthpieces pretend to care about children’s safety but refuse to address solutions that work.

The US has a little less than 260,000km of track, and Europe has about 220,000km.  If the standard of regulation were the same, one would think the rates of derailments would be roughly a 5:4 ratio.  Except they aren’t.

According to the Imperial College of London, between 1980 and 2019 (PDF), Europe had less then 300 derailments.  In forty years.  The US averages 1700 per year.