they thought they were free

“You see,” my colleague went on, “one doesn’t see exactly where or how to move. Believe me, this is true. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don’t want to act, or even talk, alone; you don’t want to ‘go out of your way to make trouble.’ Why not?—Well, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty.

“Uncertainty is a very important factor, and, instead of decreasing as time goes on, it grows. Outside, in the streets, in the general community, ‘everyone’ is happy. One hears no protest, and certainly sees none. You know, in France or Italy there would be slogans against the government painted on walls and fences; in Germany, outside the great cities, perhaps, there is not even this. In the university community, in your own community, you speak privately to your colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you do; but what do they say? They say, ‘It’s not so bad’ or ‘You’re seeing things’ or ‘You’re an alarmist.’

“And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, and you can’t prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don’t know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end? On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic. You are left with your close friends, who are, naturally, people who have always thought as you have.

“But your friends are fewer now. Some have drifted off somewhere or submerged themselves in their work. You no longer see as many as you did at meetings or gatherings. Informal groups become smaller; attendance drops off in little organizations, and the organizations themselves wither. Now, in small gatherings of your oldest friends, you feel that you are talking to yourselves, that you are isolated from the reality of things. This weakens your confidence still further and serves as a further deterrent to—to what? It is clearer all the time that, if you are going to do anything, you must make an occasion to do it, and then you are obviously a troublemaker. So you wait, and you wait.

“But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked—if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in ’43 had come immediately after the ‘German Firm’ stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in ’33. But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.

“And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying ‘Jewish swine,’ collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you live in—your nation, your people—is not the world you were born in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God. The system itself could not have intended this in the beginning, but in order to sustain itself it was compelled to go all the way.”

“They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-1945” by Milton Mayer

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A Calculation of Odds in the Dice Game Langur Burja

A Calculation of Odds in the Dice Game Langur Burja

Gale Richard Walker
September 2017

Kids playing langur-burja

Kids playing langur-burja at Malekhu in Dhading district. (Bijay Gajmer/Republica)

Langur Burja, a dice game popular in Nepal and in the British navy (where it is known as Crown and Anchor), uses six identical dice, each with six different symbols on it. After bets are placed, the banker tosses all six dice at once. The betting rules and payouts to the players may be found on the Internet. Variations of the game are played in France, Vietnam, China, Belgium, and Bermuda. They are not described here.

Overall, the Langur Burja banker (commonly know as “The House”) who tosses the dice has a big edge — eight percent — over the players, but that is not the focus here. The purpose here is to show how to calculate the probability of each possible outcome of one toss of six dice. Any six symbols, pictures, colors, or numbers will do. In England, for example, the six symbols are a heart, a spade, a diamond, a club, a crown, and an anchor. Herein they are simply called colors, as any six colors on each die will do.

Continue reading “A Calculation of Odds in the Dice Game Langur Burja” »

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enabling CORS on Apache

Many people struggle to get CORS (Cross-Origin Resource Sharing) enabled on their site to allow transmission of JSON, XML, or some other sort of data from one script to another, running on different domains. Simply adding Header always set Access-Control-Allow-Origin “*”  to .htaccess doesn’t do the trick for me.

Here’s what worked for me on Apache version 2.4.33… Continue reading “enabling CORS on Apache” »

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gradually coming to grips with reality

Arthur Schopenhauer

Arthur Schopenhauer

All truth passes through three stages:

  1. The truth is ridiculed.
  2. The truth is violently opposed.
  3. The truth is accepted as being self-evident.
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up and running with UserSpice 4.2.4

UserSpice v.4.2.4 was released yesterday, but I had a few issues with its installation. I got the following errors:

Parse error: syntax error, unexpected ',' in /users/init.php on line 49

Fix: change users/init.php line 45 from:

 'host' => 'localhost'


‘mysql’ => array('host' => 'localhost',
Parse error: syntax error, unexpected 'else' (T_ELSE) in /users/user_settings.php on line 217

Fix: change users/user_settings.php line to 217 from:





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the battle of donetsk airport over time

In the following series of images I explore the 2014-2015 Battle of Donetsk Airport from Google Earth flyovers.

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for the people copy + spread!

You must unlearn all you know!

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accelerating WordPress

Once a WordPress site is built out with themes, plug-ins, and what-not, the overall number of files necessary to transfer to the client increases. Each requests takes some time. Compiling code into fewer, smaller files can help speed the loading time for your visitors. One WordPress plug-in that enables this is Autoptimize.

Before using this plugin, this page requires 41 separate downloads:

After enabling Autoptimize, there are only 27 requests:

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