08 October 2015

10 Things You Didn't Know About Hitler


There's a list you may not have seen...


Check out this video on YouTube:



Sent from my new iPad

Hitler Finds out Chuck Norris is Coming - [Episode Four]

Check out this video on YouTube:



Sent from my new iPad

Hitler's Facebook Account Is Deleted

Check out this video on YouTube:



Sent from my new iPad

Hitler Is Informed His Pizza Will Arrive Late

Check out this video on YouTube:



Sent from my new iPad

Hitler has Justin Bieber shot and killed

Check out this video on YouTube:



Sent from my new iPad

Hitler is informed Osama Bin Laden has been found and killed

Check out this video on YouTube:



Sent from my new iPad

Hitler buys the Death Star and accidental destroys Earth

Check out this video on YouTube:



Sent from my new iPad

Hitler falls for email scam

Check out this video on YouTube:



Sent from my new iPad

The likeliest reasons why we haven't contacted aliens are deeply unsettling - StumbleUpon



Sent from my new iPad

Fwd: One nasty, ugly little fucker...

Sent from my iPhone

Mark Seymour

Begin forwarded message:

From: "ROBERT KELLEY" <kelleyinwestport@mail.com>
Date: October 8, 2015 at 12:39:34 PM EDT
To: "Mark Seymour" <mseymour@proofmark.com>
Subject: One nasty, ugly little fucker...

I'm a sucker for 'lists'. (10 things You Never About Steve Jobs, 15 Creepy Deserted Buildings, etc.) This morning it was "10 Animals you Never Knew Existed". 'Nearly upchucked my morning coffee with this little bastard. "Looked it up. (Wiki article follows) The article says that they're about 3 centimeters full grown, but as you can see from the second pic., they get bigger.
Glaucus atlanticus (common names include the sea swallow, blue angel, blue glaucus, blue dragon, blue sea slug and blue ocean slug) is a species of small, blue sea slug, a pelagic aeolid nudibranch, a shell-less gastropod mollusk in the family Glaucidae.
These sea slugs are pelagic: they float upside down on the surface tension of the water, where they are carried along by the winds and ocean currents. Glaucus atlanticus is camouflaged: the blue side of their body faces upwards, blending in with the blue of the water. The silver/grey side of the sea slugs faces downwards, blending in with the silvery surface of the sea.
Glaucus atlanticus feeds on other pelagic creatures, including the venomous cnidarian, the Portuguese Man o' War. This sea slug stores stinging nematocysts from the cnidarian within its own tissues as defense against predation. Humans handling the slug may receive a very painful and potentially dangerous sting.
At maturity Glaucus atlanticus can be up to 3 centimetres (1.2 in) in length. It is silvery grey on its dorsal side and dark and pale blue ventrally. It has dark blue stripes on its head. It has a tapering body which is flattened, and has six appendages which branch out into rayed, finger-like cerata. The radula of this species bears serrated teeth.
With the aid of a gas-filled sac in its stomach, G. atlanticus floats at the surface. Due to the location of the gas sac, this species floats upside down. The upper surface is actually the foot (the underside in other slugs and snail), and this has either a blue or blue-white coloration. The true dorsal surface (carried downwards in G. atlanticus) is completely silver-grey. This coloration is an example of counter shading, which helps protect it from predators that might attack from below and from above. The blue coloration is also thought to reflect harmful UV sunlight

History for the day

On 8 October 1982, all labor organizations in Poland, including Solidarity, were banned.

Google and Israel May Be Heading to the Moon | TIME



Sent from my new iPad

Ten accurate historical movies



Traudl Junge, the last secretary for Adolf Hitler, tells of the Nazi dictator's final days in his Berlin bunker at the end of World War Two.



History buffs were worried about how Abraham Lincoln would be portrayed in the Spielberg film. Lucky for them, Spielberg did extensive research and was true to one of history's greatest presidents.


The story of Harvey Milk and his struggles as an American gay activist who fought for gay rights and became California's first openly gay elected official.
12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave

In the post-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.
Master and Commander: Far Side of The World

Master and Commander: Far Side of The World

During the Napoleonic Wars, a brash British captain pushes his ship and crew to their limits in pursuit of a formidable French war vessel around South America. They did an extensive amount of research for this film, down to the smallest details. While the plot is somewhat implausible, if it had happened, it would've looked just like this.
Saving Private Ryan

Saving Private Ryan

Following the Normandy landings, a group of American soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action.
Das Boot

Das Boot

The claustrophobic world of a World War Two German U-boat: boredom, filth, and sheer terror.
Band of Brothers

Band of Brothers

The story of Easy Company of the 101st Airborne division and their mission in World War Two from Operation Overlord through V-J Day.
A Night To Remember

A Night To Remember

A historically accurate film that follows an account of the ill-fated maiden voyage of RMS Titanic in 1912.
The Lion in Winter

The Lion in Winter

1183 AD: King Henry II's three sons all want to inherit the throne, but he won't commit to a choice. They and his wife variously plot to force him to do so.
The Longest Day

The Longest Day

Another World War Two movie that follows the events of D-Day, told on a grand scale from both the Allied and German points of view.
The Lost Battalion

The Lost Battalion

Fact-based war drama about an American battalion of over five hundred men which gets trapped behind enemy lines in the Argonne Forest in France in October of 1918, during the closing weeks of World War One.
Letters from Iwo Jima

Letters from Iwo Jima

The story of the battle of Iwo Jima between the Americans and Japanese during World War Two, as told from the perspective of the Japanese who fought it.
Apollo 13

Apollo 13

One of the greatest space films of all time, Apollo 13 tells the story of the aborted Apollo 13 mission to the Moon. Director Ron Howard went the extra mile to ensure this film was accurate, consulting NASA for astronaut and flight controller training for the cast, and filming scenes on a reduced gravity aircraft. While some artistic licenses were taken, overall the film is perfect.
Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan

Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan

The story recounts the early life of Genghis Khan, who was a slave before going on to conquer half the world, including Russia, in 1206.
Thirteen Days

Thirteen Days

A dramatization of President Kennedy's administration's struggle to contain the Cuban Missile Crisis in October of 1962.


Rico says that, against a modern jet, it would be like pitting a dachshund against a wolverine, but it's still one of the prettiest planes ever made:

07 October 2015

Odd one in Florida

Ben Mathis-Lilley has a Slate article about a weird case in Florida:
The families of three students who died within two months of each other, after being hypnotized by a high school principal in Florida, will each be paid $200,000 in a lawsuit settlement.
From the Sarasota, Florida Herald-Tribune:
The $600,000 settlement closes a bizarre, yearslong case that began after former North Port High School Principal George Kenney (photo) admitted he hypnotized sixteen-year-old Wesley McKinley a day before the teenager committed suicide in April of 2011.
A subsequent investigation found that Kenney hypnotized as many as 75 students, staff members and others from 2006 until McKinley's death. One basketball player at the school said Kenney hypnotized him thirty to forty times to improve his concentration.
Two of the deceased students hanged themselves, and one drove off a freeway with his girlfriend, who survived the crash. The parents of Marcus Freeman, the student who died in the car crash, believe that he was trying to use self-hypnosis techniques that Kenney taught him to deal with the pain of a root canal before he died.
Kenney resigned in 2012; he was convicted of two misdemeanors for practicing therapeutic hypnosis without a license, for which he was sentenced to probation and community service. He now runs a bed and breakfast in North Carolina. Kenney sold therapeutic hypnosis MP3s and CDs on Amazon, continuing to do so for a time after the students' deaths, and his practice of hypnotizing students as a form of therapy was well-known before the suicides. (The Herald-Tribune says that, even before the hypnosis incidents involving the students who died, Sarasota County School District Executive Director of High Schools Steve Cantees warned Kenney at least three times not to practice hypnosis unless it was a demonstration in a psychology class and he had written parent permission from each student.)
Complicating the story: there doesn't appear to be any scientific evidence that hypnosis can increase the risk of suicide, nor does any coverage of the story suggest that Kenney had ill intentions or made any identifiable errors while performing hypnosis sessions, which are a relatively common form of therapy. A Tampa Bay Times piece from 2011 suggests that the suicides might have taken place after Kenney hypnotized students with pre-existing but unrecognized mental health issues. "The issue in working with hypnosis is that there can be latent things that are triggered, like past experiences and memories, and the patient can have a bad reaction," said a psychologist who spoke to the paper. "Does hypnosis cause suicide in and of itself? That's not really likely. Can it trigger some sort of mental health problem that was dormant? Yes.''
Rico says a little post-hypnotic suggestion, maybe?

Chinese weirdness for the day

Ben Mathis-Lilley has a Slate article about the latest fad in China:
The New York Times reports on a new trend in China: people wearing hairpins that look like bean sprouts, cherries, flowers, and other plants.
When the trend started a few months ago, it was usually just a humble bean sprout clipped to the hair and erect like a little green flagpole. But, as the fad ramped up, especially during the current National Day holiday week when Beijing fills with visitors, it has escalated and diversified to include a riot of plastic vegetation. Now heads are bristling with clover, sunflowers, chrysanthemums, lavender, mushrooms, chilies, cherries, gourds, and pine trees.
The photos above are from Beijing, though the Times says some believe the fad started in the city of Chengdu.
This is an outstanding trend and the United States needs to get on board. Or should I say on gourd? Hahaha. Ha ha. Hahahahahaha.
Rico says hair vegetables could catch on here... (But Mathis-Lilley seems to be losing it over this one...)


...but still nine miles from Philadelphia.

Turned out to be...

...not nearly as exotic as Rico expected, just a Hyundai:

Television for the day

Rico and his fiancée watched The Time in Between, a Spanish (El tiempo entre costuras) mini-series on Netflix:
Sira Quiroga is a young Spanish dressmaker engaged to a solid suitor when a suave typewriter salesman upends her life. Spain is being ravaged by its Civil War and the Franco regime's growing alliances with Nazi Germany. Smart, gutsy, and resourceful, with a Scarlett O'Hara-like ability to whip up designer duds on a moment's notice, Sira has spunk. Sira gains and loses a small fortune, is dumped by her cad of a lover in Morocco, runs guns to get the cash to start her life anew in Madrid, Spain, and becomes the couturier to the Nazi wives stationed in Madrid. Urged on by her friend, the real-life British spy Rosalinda Fox, Sira, too, aids the British cause.
Rico says, though no one mentioned her facial scars in sixteen episodes, Adriana Ugarte (no relation to Señor Ugarte, played by Peter Lorre in Casablanca) is still one of the most beautiful women on the screen:



Quote for the day

From Theodore Roosevelt's book, The Winning of the West:
No greater wrong can ever be done than to put a good man at the mercy of a bad, while telling him not to defend himself or his fellows; in no way can the success of evil be made surer and quicker.

6 June 1944: Normandy

Video from the invasion:

5 June 1944

The Allies filmed a lot, too; this is from the day before D-Day:

1945: The Oder Front

Rico says the Germans filmed everything, even in defeat...

History for the day

On 7 October 1985, Palestinian gunmen hijacked the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro (photo) in the Mediterranean, with more than four hundred people aboard.

A prehistoric British town, swallowed by the sea

The BBC has an article by Howard Timberlake about a British town, now gone:
Since the site was discovered in 1999, the excavations at Bouldnor Cliff have uncovered an eight-thousand-year-old settlement. The people who lived there seem to have possessed a level of technology two thousand years ahead of the norm for the period.
BBC Britain and BBC Earth joined the archaeologists studying the settlement, who are trying to uncover its secrets before the sea washes them away forever.
Rico says the article has the usual non-bloggable BBC video, so watch it if you want to see more...

Things Microsoft

Time has an article by Alex Fitzpatrick about Microsoft's latest:
Microsoft unveiled a handful of new devices at a recent New York City event, ranging from a potentially groundbreaking new laptop to a revamped version of its fitness tracker. Taken together, Microsoft says its new devices are all about boosting productivity. “We make things that help you make things,” said CEO Satya Nadella.
Here’s what you need to know about Microsoft’s new hardware and other announcements:
Microsoft Surface Book
saved the best for last, but we don't have to. The Redmond, Washington-based company has been trying to replace your laptop with its Surface tablet lineup for years, but now it’s aiming to redefine the laptop entirely. The Microsoft Surface Book is a high-powered laptop with a detachable 13.5-inch touchscreen display, running Windows 10 and powered by Intel’s i5 and i7 processors.
If the Surface Pro lineup is Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s MacBook Air, the Surface Book is aimed squarely at taking on the MacBook Pro. Microsoft’s first laptop is an impressively designed piece of hardware that goes on sale 26 October 2015, starting at $1,499.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4For Surface fans not looking to drop a grand and a half on a new machine, there’s the Surface Pro 4. The 12.3-inch Windows 10 tablet is the thinnest and lightest Microsoft’s ever made, a follow-up to the well-received Surface Pro 3. The company also says it’s thirty percent more powerful than its predecessor. A new Surface Pro cover, meanwhile, brings a bigger trackpad and a fingerprint scanner for Surface Pro 3 users.
The Surface Pro 4 runs Windows 10. Its reduced size and weight make it easier to transport. The keyboard is designed to sit raised off the table.
Redesigned keys allow for faster and quieter typing. A fingerprint sensor has been added to the keyboard as well.
The Surface Pro 4 goes on sale 26 October 2015, starting at $899. 
Microsoft Lumia 950, Lumia 950 XL and Lumia 550
’s new high-end Windows 10 smartphone comes in two flavors: The 5.2-inch Lumia 950 and the 5.7-inch Lumia 950 XL. The smaller 950 runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 hexacore processor, while the bigger 950 XL packs a Snapdragon 810 octacore heart. Both share the same twenty megapixel camera. The Lumia 950s start with 32GB of storage, but SD card slots mean you can expand that to up to 2TB, once cards that big become available. Microsoft also says the phones are liquid-cooled, but didn’t provide further details about how that works.
By far the most impressive feature of the new Lumia smartphones, however, is Microsoft’s Continuum. Basically, Continuum lets users plug their smartphones into full-size PC monitors, opening up a desktop-style experience powered by a mobile handset. This is a core feature of Windows 10 and could be a big selling point to help Microsoft breathe life into the struggling Windows Phone category.
The Lumia 950 and 950 XL will retail for $549 and $649, respectively starting in November. There’s also the $139 Lumia 550, an entry-level device first hitting certain European markets. 
Microsoft Band 2.0
’s fitness tracker, the Microsoft Band, got a big refresh, but it’s still known as the Microsoft Band. A new curved display looks to solve what was many customers’ biggest gripe about the device: it just didn’t look all that great. A new barometer sensor measures elevation gains for hikers or stair-climbers; there’s also GPS, heart rate monitoring, and other features you’d expect from a high-end fitness tracker. The Microsoft Band is on sale later in October for $249. 
Other stuff
says there’s now more than a hundred million devices running Windows 10. The company also said the hotly anticipated developer’s kit for its HoloLens augmented reality headset will be available in the first quarter of 2016 for $3,000.
Rico says gee, imitating Apple and the FitBand, yet again...

06 October 2015

Hillary for the day

Slate has an article by Josh Voorhees about Clinton's latest:
Hillary Clinton recently renewed her call for aggressive new gun safety measures aimed at curbing domestic violence and mass shootings, an effort that the Democratic front-runner has been pushing with increasing force since this summer’s Charleston, South Carolina, massacre. This time, however, Clinton is promising something different: a way forward even if gun rights advocates continue to block such efforts in Congress.
"I will try every way I can to get those guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them," she told voters at a breakfast town hall in New Hampshire. "We need to prevent these kinds of terrible crimes that are happening."
Clinton had previously voiced her support for reinstating the lapsed assault weapons ban and generally pushing for more universal background checks. Her new plan, though, centers on four key proposals:
• closing the so-called gun show loophole, under which private sellers at gun shows and on the Internet aren’t required to perform background checks;
• closing the so-called Charleston loophole, under which an individual with a felony record who would otherwise be barred from getting a gun can buy one if his background check is not completed within three days;
• repealing the gun industry's exemption from lawsuits against manufacturers, which they were granted under a 2005 law called the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act;
• prohibiting domestic abusers from buying and possessing firearms.
All four are at or near the top of the gun control crowd’s wish list. And all four would stand little chance of passing Congress, given the current status quo in Washington, where the gun lobby has had little trouble derailing any efforts that hurt its bottom lines. What makes Clinton’s plan particularly noteworthy, though, is her suggestion that she’d be able to go it alone on at least one of the proposals if elected President: the gun show loophole.
And just how would she do that? According to her campaign, even if Congress were unwilling to act, Clinton would be able to use her executive authority to tweak the existing rules to reclassify anyone who sells a “significant number of guns” as someone “in the business of selling firearms”, a distinction that would make those high-volume private vendors who sell guns at gun shows and over the Internet subject to the same rules as larger, licensed brick-and-mortar retailers. Clinton doesn’t appear to have settled on an answer to the question of just how many guns constitute a “significant” number, but even if her chosen definition didn’t close the loophole completely, it would at least shrink it.
Such an effort could face legal challenges in the courts and, at the very least, a guaranteed NRA-led political freakout in Washington. And, even if the effort survived both, it wouldn’t come close to ending gun violence in the United States. But for gun safety advocates and like-minded voters who are desperate for action on a problem that can feel politically impossible, Clinton’s outside-the-box plan will be a welcome start.
Rico says he couldn't agree less...

Joaquin got one after all

Slate has an article by Ben Mathis-Lilley about a missing ship:
Coast Guard officials say that a eight-hundred-foot container ship named El Faro likely sank last Thursday near the Bahamas amid the chaos of Hurricane Joaquin; a search continues for the thirty American and five Polish crew members who were aboard. One body has been recovered from the area but not yet identified. From CNN:
The Coast Guard is no longer searching for the missing cargo ship El Faro , but focusing on any signs of survivors. Searchers have found life rafts and survival suits, including one survival suit with human remains, Coast Guard Captain Mark Fedor said. The body inside the survival suit was unidentifiable, he said.
El Faro was based in Jacksonville, Florida, and was traveling to San Jose, Puerto Rico, when it was lost. Its last known position was thirty nautical miles northeast of the Bahamas. Per The Associated Press, El Faro's crew “reported that the ship had lost power, had taken on water and was listing fifteen degrees, but that the situation was ‘manageable’ ” in its last communication.
Rico says guess it wasn't manageable after all...

Misheard song for the day

Rico says that would be, yet again, The Land Down Under, by Men at Work:
Traveling in a fried-out Kombi
On a hippie trail head full of zombies
I met a strange lady, she made me nervous*
She took me in and gave me breakfast...
And she said,:"Do you come from a land down under?
Where women glow and men plunder?
Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?
Better run, better take cover...
Buying bread from a man in BrusselsHe was six foot four and full of muscles**
I said, "Do you speak my language?"
He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich
And he said, "I come from a land down under
Where beer flows and men chunder
Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?
Better run, better take cover...
Dying in a den in BombaySlack jaw, not much to say
I said to the man,:"Are you trying to tempt me?
Because I come from the land of plenty."
Living in a land down under
Where women glow and men plunder
Can't you, can't you hear the thunder?
Better run, better take cover...
*Rico hears this as 'named Melvin Purvis', not that anyone besides Rico remembers who he was...
**Given that it's Brussels, of course, it should be 'mussels'...

ISIS for the day

Charlie Winter has a long BBC article about the luring of stooges for ISIS:
I’ve been researching propaganda issued by the so-called Islamic State for some time now; it’s part of my day job. On a normal day, I’m desensitised.
I recognise that what's before me is abhorrent, but I rarely experience the full horror of what I'm exposed to. However, on 4 July 2015, one particular IS video caused my normal defense mechanisms to fail.
A group of teenage boys was lined up with 25 allegedly pro-Assad soldiers kneeling in front of them. The boys were pointing guns at the back of the soldiers' heads. The stage for this chilling execution was Palmyra's Roman Theatre. As usual, I stopped the film before the act of killing itself. I've grown used to IS ultraviolence, but this video was different. Different because, at my office desk, the place where I conduct all my research, I have a photograph of myself with my wife, dad, and step-mom taken at that very same Palmyran theatre almost five years ago.
At that time I was living in Syria, and they were some of the last people to visit me before I had to leave the country, which was rapidly descending into civil war. Back then, I had no idea what was in store.
In the years since, I've kept my eyes firmly on Syria, researching the trajectory of its jihadist factions. Routinely, I see places I visited and monuments I was in awe of brutalized by this awful war, whether it's the Aleppo citadel, Bosra's amphitheater, or the astoundingly well-preserved Crusader castle, Krak des Chevaliers.
Never, though, had I seen anything like IS' gloating execution video in Palmyra. Never had the comparison of then and now been so stark.
In the days after the theatre video, I couldn't stop thinking about it, about those men being shot, the kids being used to shoot them. Even though I was pretty sure I knew why IS made it, I couldn't answer that question with complete, evidence-based certainty.
I decided that, on top of the research I had already done, I needed data to try to get inside the minds of the IS propagandists.
I wanted to submerge myself in their world to gauge who these videos are intended for, and what they say about how IS sees itself.
We know that ideologically driven supporters of IS are attracted and gratified by its militaristic and ultra-violent propaganda, but what about the rest?
What about the thousands of civilian men, women, and girls that leave their homes for the so-called IS caliphate?
The first thing I did, knowing that this “submersion” would take a lot of time, was set some limitations. Instead of leaving it open-ended, I decided that I would take, initially at least, a one-month snapshot.
So, for the entire thirty days of the month of Shawwal, which, according to IS' own calendar, began on 17 July and finished on 15 August 2015, I spent two hours a day going through its Arabic-language support network on Twitter with a fine-tooth comb, navigating between its various forms of propaganda, using combinations of the group's countless designated hashtags as keys.
What I found was shocking, but not because of its brutality.
In just 30 days, IS' official propagandists created and disseminated over a thousand separate units of propaganda. Photo essays, videos, audio statements, radio bulletins, text round-ups, magazines, posters, pamphlets, theological treatises; the list goes on.
Radio bulletins and text round-ups were released in six languages: Russian, Turkish, Arabic, Kurdish, French, and English. After grouping the different language versions of the same item together there were nearly nine hundred units in total. All of it was uniformly presented and incredibly well-executed, down to the finest details.
I was expecting a lot, but never imagined there would be quite this much.
Interested to see what other experts would make of the sheer volume, I contacted Ambassador Alberto Fernandez, former director of the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, the State Department team dedicated to countering IS’ propaganda online. He quickly responded, saying that, while it was “not a huge surprise” to him, it was “much more than he expected”.
Initially, the type of propaganda released during the thirty days of Shawwal looked familiar. There were the features I had seen time and time again, such as the audio and written bulletins that summarise the previous days' military exploits. These emerge like clockwork on a day-to-day basis. Then there was the usual cocktail of civilian life, military pursuits, victimization, ultra-violence, instances of mercy, and a hint at the camaraderie that IS' foreign fighters enjoy, with different themes appearing more prominently on some days than others.
More often than not, it was the idea of utopia that was being stressed: social justice, economy, religious “purity”, and the constant expansion of the “caliphate”.
On other days, though, military training figured more prominently, with videos and photo essays depicting the army training and parading, as well as carrying out military operations.
Aside from these broad, superficial observations, the content was so voluminous and subject to change that there were no easy characterisations. For example, on a relatively normal day, the 23rd of Shawwal, there was a total of fifty distinct pieces of propaganda.
The photo reports and videos included depictions of an IS offensive in northern Syria and eulogies for the dead in Salahuddin. The victimhood-themed photos showed the aftermath of Crusader-Safavid airstrikes in Iraq's Anbar and Kirkuk provinces.
Overwhelmingly, though, the propagandists were preoccupied with a carefully refined view of “normal” life. Thirty two of the fifty showed off civilian activities: a plastering workshop in Mosul, newspapers being distributed in Fallujah, pavements laid in Tal'afar, telephone lines fixed in Qayara, cigarettes confiscated and burned in Sharqat, and even camels being herded in Bir al-Qasab.
The branding exercise is truly relentless. Specific themes and key narratives stood out, but it was only after the month was up that any trends could be properly discerned.
Recognizing this, I found myself stumbling upon the secret of the IS media strategy: “produce, produce, produce”.
By creating so much content that it is literally impossible to keep a mental track of, IS' media men try to prevent us from understanding what they are doing. They flood the internet with information to a point that it becomes impossible to decode the brand they are building. They overawe and overwhelm their adversaries while, at the same time, luring the curious and vulnerable.
Equipped with the Shawwal dataset and the benefit of hindsight, though, I could get around this. The labyrinthine propaganda narrative could be picked apart.
I soon realized the project I began as a personal investigation into the mind of an IS propagandist had become something much, much more.
Once I had the refined archive in front of me, I set about picking out trends, patterns and anomalies. From the offset, the lack of brutality was striking. I knew from past research that IS' brand went much further than shedding the blood of its enemies, but there was a complete absence of it in the first few days of Shawwal. In retrospect, this makes sense.
Coming immediately after the holy month of Ramadan, Shawwal begins with a day of celebration, Eid al-Fitr.
Predictably, IS wanted to show this off. Its media team needed to demonstrate to their audiences, both within and without the so-called caliphate, that EidIS-style” was unmatched. As such, the initial focus was fixed upon two central aspects of the IS utopia: the religion and social life of its “citizens”.
The propagandists made great play of the alms-distribution among the needy in Syria and Libya, and spent a huge amount of time documenting celebratory prayers and the general “ambiences” of the festivities. Kids played on fairground rides, toys and sweets were handed out among orphans, fighters at the front lines sang, drank tea, and laughed together.
At one point, a program was even produced by IS' official radio station, al-Bayan, in which “random” passers-by were quizzed about their Eid experiences (which were, of course, invariably euphoric).
As the month progressed and Ramadan receded into the past, the preoccupation with adults praying and children playing began to be matched on a day-to-day basis with military-themed output. Photo essays depicting melon agriculture, handicrafts and industry, wildlife, cigarette confiscations, and street cleaning were disseminated on an almost like-for-like basis alongside sets of images showing balaclava-wearing IS fighters firing mortars into the distance, defiling large piles of dead “enemies”, and gloating over booty.
As well as these carefully crafted photo essays (of which there were nearly seven hundred), 64 videos were released that zoomed in on various functions of the IS “state”.
They depicted themes ranging from marriage bureaux and public bakery administrations to the relentless destruction of “idolatrous” sites by IS' religious police and the awful public punishments meted out to people accused of “religious crimes”.
In one, a man accused of being a homosexual is thrown off a roof, then stoned by the crowd gathered around his body.
For every two videos on civilian life, there was another that focused on the military aspect of IS' operations. New recruits training with sniper rifles, “martyrs” reading out their wills shortly before blowing themselves up, and enemy positions being attacked in carefully choreographed raids.
Amid this constant juxtaposition of civilian and military life, the propagandists continuously played upon the victimhood narrative. They routinely paraded dead or maimed children, women, and old people before cameras as they sought to maximize the political value of the collateral damage caused by enemy air strikes.
Whether they were depicting the aftermath of Syrian government airstrikes or those carried out by the international anti-IS coalition, the images in these reports were consistently horrific.
They were used to both legitimise the existence of IS' self-proclaimed caliphate and justify the innumerable crimes of its active members.
Contrary to the countless reports that had emerged in July of 2015 claiming that IS was toning down its brutality, the specter of ultra-violence was never far off.
Only five days into Shawwal, a video was released in which an pro-Assad soldier was shot in the back and cast off a cliff in Syria's Hama province.
Four days later footage emerged depicting the consecutive beheading of three “spies” in Iraq. And, shortly after that, a video showed a group of “enemies” of IS in Afghanistan being tied up and murdered, killed by the buried explosives they had been forced to sit on.
The further the month progressed, the clearer the motivations behind IS' killing became.
A warning was being sent out, but not to the international community. The intended target audience for these videos were the potential dissenters living in IS-held territories.
They were being told that they face a zero-sum game; stay on side, and enjoy the IS utopia, or assist the enemy and die in awful cruelty.
Importantly, though, these warnings came sparingly; IS' propagandists want to scare and brutalize their audiences, but they don't want to desensitize them completely.
They clearly want and need to convey a more nuanced message than can be achieved with violence alone.
One thing that I wasn't expecting was that, in stark contrast to the norms that I had noted over the course of the inaugural year of the IS “caliphate”, very little time was devoted to conveying the ideas of mercy and belonging, both of which had once been a mainstay of IS' public diplomacy. Only a couple of times did the propagandists seek to draw in foreign fighters with promises of camaraderie and friendship, primarily, the appeals made to new recruits were religious.
Likewise, only a tiny proportion of the month's output promised amnesty to repentant adversaries, policy that IS often boasts about. If nothing else, this is indicative of the propagandists tailoring their message to suit the central leadership's broader strategy.
Not a single day passed without the immense cogs of the IS propaganda machine churning out another batch of releases. Consistently, the constituent parts of each batch meant little when taken in isolation. However, taken together, they presented a comprehensive snapshot of life under the group, with something for everyone.
There were scenes of brutal punishments meted out to opponents to gratify supporters and intimidate enemies, videos of booming agriculture and industry to tempt those seeking economic prosperity, and images of unwavering implementation of amputations, stoneings and beheadings to attract those seeking law and order. Not to mention foreign ideology-driven jihadists bent on living under the most medieval interpretations of Shari'a. And, with all that, beautiful landscapes and wildlife intended to impart a vision of paradise were depicted.
One thing is for sure, IS' caliphate brand is comprehensive.
Once I had assessed the dataset, I realized that this propaganda was not just buoying up the IS abroad: attracting new supporters, sustaining old sympathizers and drawing in donors, it was keeping it afloat at home, too.
Put yourself in the shoes of a normal civilian living in any of the many IS-held towns and villages.You have no access to the internet and, for those occasional moments that you do, there is an IS fighter breathing down your neck watching your every move.
There is no freedom of information under IS, no counter-narratives, no challenging information, nothing other than that “news” provided in droves by the IS propagandists and broadcast at the myriad makeshift media points across its territory.
In the pamphlets distributed from these points, the videos playing on their widescreen televisions and projectors, the statements and bulletins ringing from their speakers, there is only the propagandists' idealized image of the “caliphate” ringing out. The audience is well and truly captive.
In a sense, this is happening online, too. I was doing it for research purposes but, for many IS supporters, propaganda is their only stream of news and information.
Social media is well known for its echo chambers, in which users end up self-selecting their own nuance-free virtual existence. When this dynamic is combined with an intoxicating propaganda output like that of IS, it becomes all the more potent.
Even though it is well within their capabilities to access other ideas, the group's online supporters rarely, if ever, go looking for them. To all intents and purposes, they become addicts of the IS marketing model.
In July, I embarked on this project with the aim of achieving deeper insight into IS' propaganda strategy. But what emerged was something far more useful. With a full view of its media output, even just for one month, I was able to dissect and evaluate the means by which the group projects itself, both within and without its borders.
Equipped with a continuation of this project, with the exact knowledge of what IS decision-makers want to project, and when they want to project it, perhaps those involved in the fight against IS could more effectively challenge its information monopoly.
Rico says the Internet is worth a fight, but just removing them from the planet is more effective...

Casino Deposit Bonus