YouTube restores censored historical videos after protests


This video is about the liberation of Alkmaar city in the Netherlands by the Canadian army from the German nazi occupiers in May 1945.

Yesterday, YouTube censored it, along with the whole YouTube channel of the Alkmaar regional archive, supposedly for ‘hatemongering’.

This YouTube censorship caused lots of protests; according to the archive, many of the protests came from the USA.

Today, Dutch NOS TV reports (translated):

The YouTube channel of the Alkmaar Regional Archive is back online, including images from the Second World War. The video platform had previously taken the channel offline due to alleged hate speech.

Marc Alphenaar of the archive discovered this morning that the channel was available again. “I didn’t get a message from YouTube about it, but I had messages on my phone from people who saw that it was there again. This is a nice way to wake up”, he said to regional broadcasters NH Nieuws.

It would have been strange if the ‘hatemongers’ of this historical archive would have been banned permanently, while the real hatemongers of the YouTube channel of the Dutch neonazi party Nederlandse Volks-Unie are still on the Internet. YouTube is an affiliate of Google corporation.

British teachers trying to educate about fascism hit by [Youtube] service’s new policy on hate speech: here.

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YouTube censors Dutch history


Canadian soldiers welcomed in Alkmaar city in the Netherlands in May 1945, regional archive Alkmaar photo

This photo shows Canadian soldiers welcomed in Alkmaar city in the Netherlands in May 1945, liberation from the German nazi occupation.

The photo used to be on YouTube. Before YouTube censored it.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

YouTube has removed the YouTube video channel of the Alkmaar Regional Archive because images from the Second World War are said to be ‘hateful’. Not only the film images from the war have been removed, other historical images from Alkmaar and the surrounding area are also offline.

“This is censorship of official material”, says employee Mark Alphenaar to NH Nieuws regional broadcasters. “They punish us as hatemongers, while we are an official institution.”

Archive staff members have tried to persuade YouTube to restore the deleted channel, but so far without result.

The archive indicates that ten years have been spent collecting “often unique” images of the war and the liberation. …

The images are distributed via their own YouTube channel. Schools use the material for educational purposes. They now see the message: “This account has been terminated due to repeated or serious violations of the YouTube policy that prohibits incitement to hatred.” …

The archive says about an earlier case of YouTube censorship:

“You can defend yourself once with a notice of objection of a thousand words. We have never received an answer to that.”

Meanwhile, the YouTube channel of the Dutch neonazi party Nederlandse Volks-Unie is still working. YouTube is an affiliate of Google.

Alma Tadema drawing discovery on flea market


The newly discovered Alma Tadema drawing, photo Fries Museum

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Drawing by Frisian artist Alma Tadema found at flea market

The Fries Museum in Leeuwarden has bought a drawing by Alma Tadema that has been found at a flea market. It is probably a portrait that the Frisian artist made of his niece Sientsje Tadema.

The work was presented to the museum by a Belgian who found it at the flea market in Brussels. He then contacted the Fries Museum.

Curator Marlies Stoter investigated the work and recognized Alma Tadema by the combination of the fine lines and strong pencil lines in the dark parts of the drawing.

Longing women

Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema (1836-1912) is an artist from Dronrijp who emigrated to England after his studies at the art academy in Antwerp. During his studies he regularly made portraits of people from his immediate environment.

In 2016 there was a large exhibition about the artist in the Fries Museum. It mainly showed his images of ancient Roman scenes with longing beautiful women. That was a great success: 158,000 visitors came to it.

The drawing can be seen from April 20 on at the exhibition Collected Work: the rich collection of Friesland, writes regional broadcasting organisation Omrop Fryslân. The museum now has 18 paintings and around 90 works on paper by the artist.

Beowulf, ancient poem, new research


This 2015 video is called Classics Summarized: Beowulf.

From Harvard University in the USA:

Breaking down Beowulf

Researchers use statistical technique to find evidence that Old English poem had a single author

April 8, 2019

Summary: Using a statistical approach known as stylometry, which analyzes everything from the poem’s meter to the number of times different combinations of letters show up in the text, a team of researchers found new evidence that Beowulf is the work of a single author.

It’s been a towering landmark in the world of English literature for more than two centuries, but Beowulf is still the subject of fierce academic debate, in part between those who claim the epic poem is the work of a single author and those who claim it was stitched together from multiple sources.

In an effort to resolve the dispute, a team of researchers led by Madison Krieger, a post-doctoral fellow at the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics and Joseph Dexter, who received a Ph.D. from Harvard, turned to a very modern tool — a computer.

Using a statistical approach known as stylometry, which analyzes everything from the poem’s meter to the number of times different combinations of letters show up in the text, Krieger and colleagues found new evidence that Beowulf is the work of a single author. The study is described in a April 8 paper published in Nature Human Behaviour.

In addition to Krieger, the study was co-authored by Leonard Neidorf from Nanjing University, an expert on Beowulf whose numerous studies include a book on the poem’s transmission, as well as Michelle Yakubek, who worked on the project as a student at the Research Science Institute, and Pramit Chaudhuri from the University of Texas at Austin. Chaudhuri and Dexter are the co-directors of the Quantitative Criticism Lab, a multi-institutional group devoted to developing computational approaches for the study of literature and culture.

“We looked at four broad categories of items in the text,” Krieger said. “Each line has a meter, and many lines have what we call a sense pause, which is a small pause between clauses and sentences similar to the pauses we typically mark with punctuation in Modern English. We also looked at aspects of word choice.”

“But it turns out one of the best markers you can measure is not at the level of words, but at the level of letter-combinations,” he continued. “So we counted all the times the author used the combination ‘ab’, ‘ac’, ‘ad’, and so on.”

Using those metrics, Krieger said, the team combed through the Beowulf text, and found it to be consistent throughout — a result that lends further support to the theory of single authorship.

“Across many of the proposed breaks in the poem, we see that these measures are homogeneous,” Krieger said. “So as far as the actual text of Beowulf is concerned, it doesn’t act as though there is supposed to be a major stylistic change at these breaks. The absence of major stylistic shifts is an argument for unity.”

The study is just the latest effort to pin down Beowulf’s often-mysterious background.

“There are two big debates about Beowulf,” Krieger explained. “The first is when it was composed, because the date of composition affects our understanding of how Beowulf is to be interpreted. For instance, whether it is a poem near or far in time from the conversion to Christianity is an important question.”

The second debate among Beowulf academics, Krieger said, is related to whether the poem was the work of one author, or many.

“The first edition that was widely available to the public was published in 1815, and the unity of the work was almost immediately attacked,” Krieger said. “From high school, everyone remembers the battle with Grendel and Grendel’s mother, and maybe the dragon, but if you go back and read the whole poem, there are weird sections about, for instance, how good Beowulf is at swimming, and other sections that go back hundreds of years and talk about hero kings that have ostensibly nothing to do with the story. So the way we read it now… seems very disjointed.”

One piece of evidence that has factored into debates about unitary composition can be seen just by looking at the text.

“The handwriting is different,” Krieger said. “At what I would call a random point in the poem, just mid-sentence, and not really an important sentence, the first scribe’s handwriting stops, and somebody else takes over. It’s clear that the second scribe also proofread the first scribe, so even though currently nobody really thinks that these two guys were different poets, or were joining together parts of a poem at this random mid-sentence location, it has helped contribute to a narrative according to which the writing of Beowulf, and maybe its original composition, was a long and collaborative effort.

For the nineteenth century, the prevailing view among academics was that the poem must be the work of multiple authors. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that another author — one whose name is all but synonymous with epic storytelling — began to challenge that idea.

His name? J.R.R. Tolkien.

“Tolkien was one of the greatest champions of single authorship,” Krieger said. “He was a very prominent Beowulf scholar, and in 1936 he wrote a landmark piece, “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics”, that really revived the idea that it was the work of a single person.”

At the heart of Tolkien‘s argument, Krieger said, was the way in which Christianity is reflected in the text.

“The Christianization of Beowulf is very interesting, because every single character in it is a pagan, even in these odd digressions” Krieger said. “Beowulf is from southern Sweden and goes to Denmark to help other pagan Germanic peoples fight monsters…but it’s overlaid throughout with a Christian perspective and infused with Christian language.” Computational evidence from the study supports Tolkien’s view, from a new perspective. “Arguments based on the poem’s content or its author’s supposed belief system are vital, of course, but equally important are arguments based on the nitty-gritty of stylistic details. The latter also have the merit of being testable, measurable.”

Though he acknowledged it’s unlikely the new study will be the end of the debates about Beowulf’s authorship, Krieger believes it can shed important new light on English literary traditions.

“If we really believe this is one coherent work by one person, what does it mean that it has these strange asides?” he asked. “Maybe one of the biggest takeaways from this is about how you structured a story back then. Maybe we have just lost the ability to read literature in the way people at the time would have understood it, and we should try to understand how these asides actually fit into the story.”

Going forward, Krieger and colleagues are hoping to apply the stylometry tools developed for the study to other literary traditions and other landmark works.

“Even works as well-studied as the Iliad and the Odyssey have yet to be analyzed using a full array of computational tools,” Krieger said. “The fine-grained features that seem to matter most have never been examined in a lot of traditions, and we’re hoping to spread these techniques that we think could change the way similar problems are approached.”

Krieger also hopes to use the techniques to understand the stylistic evolution of English across history.

“Putting Old English in context is the springboard,” he said. “This is the birth of English literature. From here, we can look at what aspects of style evolved — not just grammar, but at the cultural level, what features people enjoyed, and how they changed over time.”

Ultimately, though, Krieger believes the study is a prime example of how ancient texts still hold secrets that can be uncovered through the use of modern tools.

“This is the first step in taking an old debate and refreshing it with some new methodology,” he said. “It’s a new extension of the whole critical apparatus, and it’s exciting that an area probably assumed to be very traditional can in fact be at the cutting edge of work that spans the humanities and sciences.”

This research was supported with funding from a Neukom Institute for Computational Science CompX Grant, a National Endowment for the Humanities Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant, a New Directions Fellowship from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, and a Neukom Fellowship.

Classical music, robbery, child’s tears


This 2015 classical music video shows soprano vocalist Simone Nestler and piano player Helene Jedig in “Lass mich mit Tränen mein Los beklagen” by German English 18th century composer Georg Friedrich Händel.

When I was a small child, my mother used to play this on the piano, also singing the German language lyrics:

Lass mich mit Tränen mein Los beklagen,
Ketten zu tragen, welch hartes Geschick!

Let me mourn my fate with tears,
Having to wear chains, what a cruel fate!

Who has to wear these cruel chains? I asked. Rinaldo, my mother replied. Rinaldo Rinaldini.

And here, my mother made a mistake. This aria is from Händel’s opera Rinaldo. A work loosely based on a 16th century Italian poem on the medieval crusades. Not the title character, the crusader Rinaldo, sings this aria; but Almirena, a Christian woman who has become a prisoner of Muslim soldiers.

My mother confused the fictional medieval crusader character Rinaldo with another fictional Rinaldo: Rinaldo Rinaldini. An eighteenth century Italian robber captain from a 1798 German novel.

Rinaldo Rinaldini was not really the most criminal kind of highwayman; more somewhere halfway between robber and freedom fighter against tyranny. So, I cried about these cruel chains the authorities had put around, supposedly, Rinaldo Rinaldini’s body.

As my mother felt that the aria made her child sad, she made up ‘happier’, humouristic spoof lyrics to the same tune, about animals:

Just give the bananas to the roosters,
Just give the cake to the northern pike

Rinaldo Rinaldini, the title character of an eighteenth century book, a twentieth century film, etc.should not be confused with Rinaldo Rinaldi, a nineteenth century sculptor.

There are also, in twentieth century film history, at least one designer, and (different one again) actor, called Rinaldo Rinaldi.