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Cake day: Jun 17, 2022

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Do you or other techy comrades know how to do the following…

I’d like to read some García Márquez in the original, but it’s a bit too advanced for me. I was thinking of front-loading the vocab and learning the words that are in the book(s) before starting. The only way I can think of doing this is intensively reading it/them and listing all the words I don’t know. The problem is that I’ll end up understanding enough of the story to spoil it, but not understand enough to enjoy it.

So what I’d like to do is list all the words used in the text by frequency. Then I can ignore the words I do know and learn a bulk of the less frequent words before starting to read the book. Is there a script or something that I could apply to the epub version to strip the words and sort them by frequency?



I’m leaning Spanish.

I’ve tried before and given up. I just could not stay committed to studying language the way I was taught in school. (I didn’t study Spanish in school; I’m just referring to the way we worked through a grammar book with exercises.) (Also, I’m not necessarily criticising the way schools teach languages, here. Make the most of it if you’re in school!! If you supplement whatever your school teaches with some other (fun) activities, you’ll be on fire and close to fluent by the time you finish school if you put enough hours into the more fun stuff.)

This time I’ve been consistently looking at Spanish for 21 months. I had one day off, by accident. This means spending between 10 minutes (bad / busy days) and 10 hours (great, empty days – not many) each day with the language. Average is somewhere between 30 mins and 3 hours.

For three months I watched Dreaming Spanish and similar Comprehensible Input videos. (Not sure I would recommend that others start like this.) Then I used the listening-reading technique for 200+ hours before adding in some children’s audiobooks, just audio (I would recommend this method, after reading a brief grammar – the kind you might find in the middle of a dictionary).

Then I started to read native content and decided to switch all my entertainment into Spanish. So everything dubbed or originally in Spanish. With English subtitles at first, then Spanish subtitles, then none. Lots of music. Plus some Skyrim, Fallout 4, FFXV (text only), Civ VI.

For most of this time I failed to finish any novels unless they were adapted or very short. And my comprehension was low. I’d struggle through about a third of each book before realising I’d missed too many details to enjoy the story. My understanding increased slowly.

The first full adult novel I read was a translation of Bernard Cornwell’s The Last Kingdom. That took about six weeks. The second one took me about four weeks. I’m on the third in the series now. I’ve read 45% since the weekend.

Something very strange happened halfway through that second novel. I was reading and understanding without translating each sentence. But I was kind of aware of this happening in a way that doesn’t happen while reading in English. A part of my brain was watching the other half think in Spanish, and acknowledging this process in English. Very strange. Kind of euphoric, actually.

Anyway, that lasted for about ten pages and now I just read in Spanish without translating for the most part (although I still pause and reflect over some sentences – where all the words make sense, but not the sentence as a whole). This only works with the Bernard Cornwell series, btw. I tried picking up another book and it only half makes sense.

This is mainly receptive. I’ve had almost no writing or speaking practice, but I have recently picked up some grammars (well, I’ve picked them up before but soon thought that watching another series or film would be more fun and put the book down again). These are much easier and much more fun when the language as a whole makes some kind of sense, though, so I think I’ll stick with the grammar this time.

So I’ve still got a few years of learning left to do. But this is much easier after figuring out a method that lets me enjoy the language early on (listening-reading followed by scaffolded native content).

There you go. The language I’m learning and my life story. Sorry.


How safe is this?

I.e. from viruses / malware?

And from getting a letter one day to say that a film studio, etc, is suing you?

Do you need to use a VPN at the same time?


Just something to note…

A few weeks ago, but after the PatSoc purge, there was some talk about defederating Lemmygrad from Lemmy.

At about the same time, there was some discussion about wrecker / fed tactics and a link to some guidance on Hexbear.

It was suggested that we ignore the calls to defederate coming from within Lemmygrad because it appeared to stem from wrecker / fed behaviour.

I am not suggesting that those highlighting the current problems here and in other posts in the last few days are wreckers. Far from it! Well done comrades for highlighting and combating crypto-fascism, transphobia, and homophobia. There is no place for that bigotry in this world, never mind leftist spaces.

But I think we should be careful.

It seems like too much of a coincidence that so soon after we resolve to defeat the wreckers operating from within Lemmygrad, we are at risk of arguing for the same result (defederation) because of activity on Lemmy.

If Lemmygrad / Lemmy are targeted by fascists, etc, as something to bring down (we’ve seen this with DDOS attacks, I believe) or take over, it would not surprise me to learn that they have several techniques, even if this is not coordinated (although it could be).

Most people are liberals (in the West, at least), which means most people would gravitate to liberal rather than ML spaces. Which means people leaving e.g. Reddit (a primarily US or Western space) may be more likely to join Lemmy (being leftist) than Lemmygrad (being ML).

As Lemmy grows, liberalism on Lemmy is also likely to grow. Of course, MLs do not see any brand of liberal as leftist, although liberals may be progressive and open to ML thought if it were packaged in the right way.

And what are liberals going to find on Lemmy now? Especially LGBT liberals? They’re going to find evidence that whatever they have heard about communism, it’s only the communists who staunchly stand up against bigotry and for the oppressed.

My main point is to say thank you to those comrades who opposed bigotry over the last few days. Admirable work.

My secondary point – and I’m not terribly convinced that LGBT people should have to face transphobia and homophobia just to be martyrs for their own humanity – is that although dealing with liberal intransigence is frustrating, the steadfast anti-fascism displayed over the last few days could be quite radicalising and lead people towards Lemmygrad.

If you’re equally unconvinced by the idea that bigotry is somehow good, my third point is that arguing against bigotry under the Lemmygrad banner may leave a trail of breadcrumbs for LGBT people and others to find a safe, bigotry-free home here, where they will be supported, etc.


I know what you’re saying and at a certain point, a committed libertarian, fascist, liberal, etc, should be accepted as being committed to that politics.

At the same time, anti-communism is entrenched in the imperial core. This shit is hard wired. And the more education one undergoes, the more a person reads, the more this position becomes entrenched.

If a person does become interested in Marxism, anti-capitalism, or communism, they might pick up a book. But the introductory books and the ‘radical’ publishers are usually anti-communist. So the reader gets funnelled towards Habermas, Lacan, Chomsky, Zizek, or a similar figure. Even the pro-Marxist books have to be anti-USSR and anti-China to be published.

Some, like me will pick up the right texts. But the common sense view that e.g. Lenin, Stalin, Marx, Mao were terrible monsters makes it difficult to admit in public that you even dared to pick up their writing. Even stating that you have read Lenin makes you an outcast. People look at you strange, and they refuse to listen to your summary of commentary. And you very quickly get the nickname, ‘Stalinist’.

It took me years to accept that Marxists might be right and even more years to call myself a Marxist. I know that says something about me, but the capitalist propagandists are damn good at their job. (To be clear, I wouldn’t have been found at any kind of rally like the one in the OP!)

Views can be changed. Even entrenched views. But it takes time. A patient Marxist mentor helps immensely. Thankfully(?) material conditions are changing, and this may make people more susceptible to Marxism.


Robert Nozick.

Just enough of a state to secure the right to property, then you’re on your own.


All these things are solutions. But who’s paying for it? Us, the common people. These energy companies can make record profits, and our measures to combat this will be paid out of our own pockets. No one asks why these companies can be allowed to financially wreck entire nations. Because don’t question the system, just accept these compensations and move on. Shell and Exxon need to make billions and if our underfunded school or health care system suffers from it, so be it.

Powerful rhetoric, especially the bits in bold. These would make good quotes for propaganda posters, etc.


So on the one hand, the UN thinks China is committing human rights abuses.

But on the other hand, the UN doesn’t care enough about Muslims to actually find out.

Got it.

Enter stage left: Malvoliberalo Dost thou not know China controls the UN as it controls WHO?

The damage is done, the papers will report the headline, and any criticism of it will be added to the list of ‘attrocities denied by the left’.



I’m not sure which is worse, this or letting / making employees cover work costs, such as heating, internet, lighting, physical space, furniture, etc. Some places are shutting their buildings for the winter to save on heating. Don’t ask whether they’re passing on those savings to the workers who will be paying instead.


You’re right, there.

I’ve found it remarkably easy to bring up our politics recently. Almost everyone I come across is feeling the squeeze in some way. Whether it’s energy, food, general inflation, interest / mortgage rates, house prices, rent, stagnating wages, redundancies. I can’t think of anyone I talk to regularly who isn’t worrying about at least one of these things. And they bring it up!

This time five years ago, or even last year, pre- and "mid-"pandemic (I don’t believe it’s over), I’d struggle to find a common issue to bring up. Seriously struggling to pay the bills was only something that happened to the poorest, the laziest, and to people in other countries (in bourgeois eyes, anyway; we know better). If I spoke then about capitalism, I’d often get rebuffed. Not anymore. Well, not so much anymore.

Although now the challenge is pointing out where the real blame lies (i.e. not Ukraine / Russia, Brexit, this or that party, ‘Chinese’ / ‘Russian’ investment (of course, it’s only ever the Russians and Chinese who would use investments to influence other countries)).



More or less likely also to be an employed cleaner, teacher, nurse, [insert any number of essential jobs].




I’m surprised they’re not installing huge hamster wheels connected to generators. Those cold people would soon warm up powering the street lights.

It’s sickening and scary. Absolutely no idea how people are going to make it through this winter.

Ruled by people who can only see the market. And if the market doesn’t provide, it’s our own fault. It’s ideologically impossible for the ruling class to accept the need for – or even to acknowledge – other models of distribution. And this applies to almost every ‘politician’. Even when a government steps in, they do so (inadvertently or explicitly) by asking the market to provide a solution which the state can buy at the ‘best’ price.


Good post. You raise lots of points for us to discuss. I agree they mental illness is not idealism.

I also agree that neurodiversity and neuro-disorders do not just exist in the idea. And I would say that the mind is very much material, although it is the place that houses our ideas.

I’ll try to discuss your points from a DiaMat perspective, but I claim no expertise. I am happy to be schooled by an expert!

What do we mean by mental illness? We need to be careful here to avoid suggesting that e.g. autism is an illness, which it is not.

The Work of Psychiatrists

Do we mean instead to talk about idealism and materialism in relation to what psychiatrists deal with in general (which may include mental illness as well as neurodiversity and neurological disorders)?

It may help to categorise the work of psychiatrists and to consider their material or ideal basis.

Based on the little I do know, I would suggest that e.g. autism, anxiety, and depression are material in two senses.

  1. They have a material basis in the person concerned. By that I mean the effects of autism, anxiety, and depression are not just in the person’s head. A person cannot simply will themselves to have or to get rid of any of these, say, conditions by thinking differently.
  2. They have a material basis outside the person concerned. By this I mean that the material world can exacerbate such conditions and that the reason such conditions manifest as problems or are noticeable (if they are noticeable) is because the material world is set up in an ablest way.

(I cannot comment on e.g. schizophrenia or PTSD or other things falling under a psychiatrist’s remit.)

From this point, I would propose that the medicalised response to anxiety and depression, at least (less so autism per se, but this may differ by location), is frequently idealist. I mean this in two ways.

  1. Taking therapy such as CBT individualises the problem and treats the patient as capable of healing themselves by thinking differently. CBT to me seems to ignore certain material conditions that exacerbate or cause anxiety and depression.
  2. Medicinal therapy, such as prescribing antidepressants, attempts to fix the material basis of the problem, but it’s an individualised and thus idealised concept of biological reality, i.e. an idealistic reality rather than a material reality.

I do not mean to say that therapy or medicine, including antidepressants, do not work. I am not qualified to say that. I’m arguing that focusing only on the individual’s chemical composition and mental state may ignore other material factors, such as access to housing, food, even stable healthy relationships, etc.

I think this analysis maps nicely onto what you said about mechanical or vulgar materialism. There’s a willingness to go so far and look for material causes, but the bourgeois model misses significant issues / possibilities because it lacks dialectics.

Idealism, Materialism, and Ideology

I would separate idealism from ideology. By this I mean to argue that ideology can be material. So by saying that ‘it is all ideology’ does not have to mean that ‘it is all idealism’.

In ‘Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses’, Louis Althusser argued (among other things):

  1. Ideological state apparatuses such as the Church and schools (probably hospitals and our subject psychiatrists) have a material effect. They may focus on the ideological reproduction of social relations, but this does not make this work idealist. These apparatuses are not as physical as other state apparatuses, like the military and the police, but it is still material (school buildings, teachers, detentions, etc, are all material even if they serve an ideological function).
  2. Vulgar Marxists suggest that the base and superstructure are separate (not dialectical related) and that the base always determines the superstructure (I’m almost certain this point is in this article, but I’ll have to check). Even if we accept the superstructure is only concerned with ideology (I think this is too narrow an understanding of the superstructure, but let’s run with the limitation for now), the superstructure (e.g. law) can determine social relations. Thus if the superstructure (e.g. medicine) concerns ideology and can shape material aspects of society (e.g. the freedom of people with diverse minds), then ideology must have an effect of material reality and is not limited to the ‘idea’.

Frantz Fanon

You wrote:

the notions the phrase evokes are mostly dogmas that grow from colonial/capitalist society much more than from objective observations, peer review etc. I know this is tedious because im basically admitting that its all ideology

You might enjoy Frantz Fanon’s, The Wretched of the Earth. He talks about the material effect of colonialism on the psyches of the colonised. And I think from Fanon, too, we can get the tools to show that ideology can be materialist. (Although he is a very different thinker to Althusser.)

Edit: spelling.


The US couldv argue that Taiwanese semiconductor companies lost business because of China’s actions (following Pelosi’s visit, but that won’t be brought up), not because of the domestic subsidies, etc.

The question is, did a certain US official buy shares in US semiconductor companies before making an inflammatory visit to a country that manufactures lots of semiconductors?


Clear summary, thanks.

Just to clarify, I wasn’t being sarcastic that you’d only posted a link; I found a copy of the book to read.