Monday, October 30, 2006

ChiCom Propaganda

I went to the same school as Norman Bethune. Or should I say school building as his high school became my elementry school. Bethune has a good reputation as someone who saved alot of lives. He was like a medical missionary going aboard to do good work. Instead of spreading the gospel along with medical care Bethune was a communist intent on spreading world wide revolution. This led him to associate with the tyrant above, see here for the murderer's memory of this meeting. How could anyone become a communist in Stalin's time.

A book has been put together that covers Chinese Communist posters, Chinese Propaganda Posters: From Revolution to Modernization. A website has been put up by the author, Stefan Landsberg's Chinese Propaganda Posters, with many of the same posters covered in his book as well as updates on recent ChiCom posters and themes, SARS and Bejing 2008.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Old Watering Hole

The Nkorho Game Reserve has a webcam on one their local watering holes. Ah, the relaxing sounds of wildlife.

Death Metal Fans

In today's Toronto Star is an article about the odd people who collect hearses. Actual Death Metal is not normally covered in the Auto section

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Back to the Future Penology

The British started transportation as punishment, deportation of convicts to Australia, because their prisons were overcrowded. A stopgap measure was using derelict warships, hulks, as cheap prisons. Now I hear of news that prison hulks are having a comeback. Creepy.

If you want to read more about the original prison hulks here is a journal written by a Crapaud POW, The Floating Prison. If want to learn about the type of criminal who ended up as guests of His Majesty. The Old Bailey has put their proceeding online for 1674-1834. You can read everyday about the poor bastards who had it so much worse.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Beetle Bailey, Today's Soldier?

In a recent Comics Curmudgeon there was an interesting comment about Beetle Bailey:
Fred P.says:
I can only hope that Beetle Bailey is not representative of life in today’s Army. The Camp Swampy crew- what with its gaggle of layabout soldiers, inept officers and only one hot secretary- simply doesn’t exactly inspire one’s confidence as to their battlefield proficiency. Just think- if our Army actually was as portrayed in Beetle Bailey, and America ever did have to go to war, there’s NO WAY we could ever win! Why, we’d just wind up stuck in some endless quagmire, with leadership that entirely lacks the imagination and competence to achieve … uh … achieve … um … oh shit!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Oooh, Economic History

Whenever I read works of fiction or history I always try to translate the monetary units in some thing meaningful. There is a tendency to assume that if something costs a dollar, a small amount to us now that it is always a small amount. I am happy that my favorite cost of living/infaltion calculator, How Much Is That?, has branched out from The new site, Measuring Worth, also has growth and inflation rates.

Weirdly The Simpsons was able to display the relative value of money. The story is a retelling of Huckleberry Finn. Huck and Tom, Bart and Nelson go a general store. When they balk at the prices the store keep has justifcation.
Apu: If you think my prices are high, go across the street! [indicates the 99-cent store, which sells luxury items like grand pianos and crystal chandeliers

Declining Telephone Cost

This is chart showing the revenue for international calls re miniute. The inflation adjusted results are even worse. The per minute revune goes from a high $28 in 1964 to $5 in 1993 to nearly nada now. The Chart came an Economist report on telecoms.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The $50,000 Bathtub

In a recent New York Times Magazine devoted to home decor one full page ad had a picture of a tub with the same relative proporotions of a cafe au lait mug. No pictures are available because the manufacturer, Boffi, only has a flash site. Here is the PDF.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Architecture of Happiness

Alain de Botton is a philosopher who has written a book about architecture, The Architecture of Happiness, and its affect on us. Winston Churchill said that "We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us". Botton's recent book is how architecture can make us feel better. He discusses his book on NPR.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Alternative Climate

Chris Wayan has explored different earths in his collection of tilted Earths, Tilt. The image above is from an earth, Seapoles, where the poles are located in the pacific and indian oceans. He doesn't make dogmatic pronouncements on the likely hood of the resulting climates but provide enough qualifiactions. Most alternate history/geology develops more narrowly. This is more of a speculation. In the alternate world Dubia, land of global warming, he is more pointed and personal, as could be expected.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Another Explanation about Star Trek

In a thread about Karl Marx moving to the US there is a suggests that socialism (and communism) would then spread in 19th century America. The thread begins with a discussion about Techno-Socialism. The discussion breaks down into an explanation of proper industrial development. Since the Gilded Age after the US civil war was a period of rapid industrial development and the concentration of wealth any action that would prevent the Robber Barons from either robbing or reduce their swag would then prevent industrial development. This attitude to Scarface some much for some theoretical goal is as scaring the commies. The agreement is that a lack of suffering will lead to lower pig iron production. Then the argument is that the US with early socialism would merely be a mere northern Brazil. But the US resembles Brazil. Brazil and US were among the last practitioners of slavery. Slavery and the production of slaves were the main exports and were also important industrially. Both countries have wide income and wealth disparities to this day.

Buried in the thread amidst the ravings about the lack of inequality was this amusing Star Trek analogy.
My pet theory on Federation society is that its a techno-communist state. The vast majority of citizens live lives of leisure and hedonistic pleasure, supported by automated production facilities. A tiny minority of self-starters work; in government sponsored research labs, or Starfleet, or administration. This results in terribly inefficient designs, such as TV remote phasers that cannot be aimed, warships with most space taken up with civilians and research labs, usage of torpedoes to carry warheads when matter transmission technology should make it a simple matter to transport warheads directly into contact with enemy shields, etc. With Starfleet made up of essentially hobbyists on a lark, there is massive rank inflation, with most of Starfleet being made up of officers with almost no enlisted personnel, as well as terrible command decisions such as taking the entire command staff of a starship on an away mission with only one anonymous security trooper for escort.