Sunday, October 8, 2017

Propaganda posters from the Spanish Civil War #2 : Franco

(this is the second installment; the first group of propaganda posters from the Spanish Civil War is here)

Franco found here 
by J. Davó (signed at lower left) and printed by the Romero Lithograph (Tenerife, Canary Islands). Excellent use of a limited number of colors.

A smiling Franco, atop a white horse leads 2 columns of supporters. Those on the left carry the red and yellow pre-republic, red and yellow civil ensign Spanish flag (or the royalist flag if a crest is hidden in the fold). The column on the right carries the red and black flag of the Falange. Franco and his horse complete the cross.  "Julio 18, 1936" refers to the date of the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. The rays behind the cross evoke a dawn.

Franco's horse steps on a red snake, a traditional symbol of evil, holding a hammer and sickle in its mouth. The symbols of the hammer and sickle were used by some political parties of the Republican Left.

Not to be cruel, but Franco was not a particularly handsome man and yet here he is drawn in a remarkably flattering way while retaining his likeness. Contrast it to the painting below by Paco Ibera. Franco is as reality would have him : balding, bags under his eyes and a rounded chin (disguising a double chin that can be seen in the photo of Franco later in the page.

Dictator in Furs by Paco Ibera
This was previously mentioned here. Go to that link for more commentary on this.


"Franco cut off at the knees" may not have been the creator's intent

Una Patria! Un Estado! Un Caudillo! (One fatherland! One state! One strongman!)

I suspect this is not from the Spanish Civil War but afterwards.  Cropping Franco off at the knees making him look like Dorf the Dictator. I find it interesting that while there is a relatively bright contrast between the Spanish-French border there is less contrast between the Portugese-Spanish border – it is only slightly more pronounced than the internal borders. Franco presents him self simply : a lack of epaulets or furs or rows of medals.

The font seems very 1930s.


The next portray Franco is a less flattering way.

 Izquierda Republicana En Vanguardia Contra El Fascismo Internacional (Left Republican in vanguard against international fascism) by Petit Guillén Carteles  de la Republica y de la Guerra Civil #180
Left Republican in vanguard against international fascism! (Seriously, you would think they would have included an exclamation point or 2)

Izquierda Republicana En Vanguardia Contra El Fascismo Internacional (Left Republican in vanguard against international fascism) by Petit Guillén (signed at lower left)

from the upper left is Jose Maria Gil Robles (with a pear for a head and bald except for a stem on top) he wears a Sacred Heart necklace to note his Catholicism. Next to him is Benito Mussolini wearing a tiny hat. Below Gil Robles is Adolph Hitler looking sad with his head cocked horizontal.
from left to right : Gil Robles (no stem on top), Francisco Franco and unknown.

Below Hitler is a short, cartoony, Chaplinesque Francisco Franco with a swastika and a death's head on his hat and a sword in his raised hand.

They are all wrapped in the Spanish Republican flag (red, yellow and purple) being pulled by a Republican soldier. While Mussolini, Hitler and Gil Robles are bound together, Franco only has the flag wrapped on one side and he holds a sword that can probably cut fabric.

To the right, behind the soldier, and at the far right is Manual Azaña and his awkward, wrongly drawn hand and pointy finger gesturing upwards. Unlike Franco in the first image, I think here Azana looks little better than reality.

photograph of Manual Azaña (note that the artist wasn't exceptionally unflattering it is just that Manual Azaña looked like a muppet in real life.)

Surrounding Azaña is a crosshatch of white.  Part of the problem likely being those on the left (of the poster) were drawn by a skillful cartoonist while Azaña was likely drawn by the cartoonist copying a photograph and trying to draw realistically while his real talents line in his skill as a cartoonist.

At lower right is a logo "Junta Municipal Delegation de Propaganda Valencia" (Municipal Board Delegation of Propaganda Valencia) (as an aside it is a nice font)

A striking contrast in styles; cartoony for the villains and realistic for the politician and idealized for the Republican soldier.


el generalisimo by Pedero Carteles de la Republica y la Guerra Civil #551
el generalisimo by Pedrero (signed at lower left)

#551 in Carteles de la Republica Y la Guerra Civil
Junta Delegada de Defensa de Madrid

I imagine that  the title "el generalisimo" in all lower case was intended to be diminishing towards someone grandiose enough to call himself "el generalisimo."

Francisco Franco as death himself dressed in a long grey coat, a black and red cape, white gloves, and spurs. His hand on his sword and his cape carried by an obese army general, an obese capitalist and an obese friar toting a rifle. Again, Franco is shown wearing a swastika.

The helmet is more like a Prussian/German pickelhaube than a contemporary Spanish army helmet (at least as far as i've seen. In fact, while I've browsed through many photos from the Spanish Civil War the only helmets I've seen are on the Republican side. The overseas cap seems to have been worn on the Nationalist side.) Franco's white gloves remind me of the white gloves a plethora of animated cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse wear.


el generalisimo by Antonio Cañavate Carteles de la Republica Y la Guerra Civil #552
el generalisimo by Antonio Cañavate (signed)
I.E. el generalisimo
Junta Delegada de defensa de Madrid
Rivadeneyra, UGT  Madrid

I think this is the most effective. It is fun, interesting and harshly mocking. Francisco Franco on his My Little Pony (with a swastika brand). The chubby horse smiles at a butterfly as it rears up while striking a coy David-esque pose.
Napoleon Crossing the Alps by Jacques Louis David, 1801

Franco's chest is puffed out and he holds a wooden club (one of the knots is heart shaped). He wears an extravagant uniform complete with epaulets, a sash, side stripe pants, a hat with different colored feathers,He has a colorful horse blanket and a blunderbuss (outdated for a 100 years). I'm not sure why his skin is orange, perhaps to comment on his tan from his years in Morocco and the Canaries.

From the swirling clouds drop 2 bombs. The cactus in the background is made up of faces.

It is interesting that the swastika is attached to Franco by his opponents but Franco did not use it as a symbol used to represent the Nationalists. The symbol used by Franco is the old national flag - horizontal red, yellow, red stripes or the red and black Falange symbol and, of course, he used himself as a symbol.

In contrast, elements of the Spanish left also freely adopted the hammer & sickle for themselves (in particular : the PCE, Partido Comunista de Espana aka the Spanish Communist Party and PSU the Partido Socialista Unificado aka Unified Socialst Party and POUM Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista aka the Worker's Party of Unified Marxists).

Keep in mind that at the time of the Spanish Civil War the Nazis were thugs and totalitarians but not yet genocidal mass murderers while the Soviet Union were also totalitarians and thugs but had also been responsible for the death of thousands of forced laborers constructing the White Sea Canal,  the Holodomor, a man-made famine killed millions, and Stalin's Great Purge had started. Different standards for different totalitarians I suppose.

Note the stark contrast in the message being sent : This poster and the "Izquerida Republicana" present Franco as a joke. A puffed up cartoon dandy. But the one between them shows Franco as walking death.

Monday, September 4, 2017

movie notes : Valdemar Legacy (2010)

The Valdemar Legacy (2010) is Lovecraftian horror movie. It was pretty good. It had some tension and it maintained my interest.

The main problem with the movie is the structure. It begins with one set of characters but then has a long flashback with a different set of characters and ends with the first set of characters ready for Valdemar Legacy II. Now, if I had part II queued up after finishing part I then that might be ok; but I didn't.

Spanish language with subtitles and if you watch it with the Amazon Video subtitles turned on then it provides subtitles for the sound effects.

The character Jervás was played by Paul Naschy who I would swear I've seen in more than one movie but I can't figure out which.


from imdb's trivia section :
The first movie in all Spanish's cinema history made without Spanish government subsidies.

That seems both impossible and yet somehow plausible.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Pickelhaube and other headgear

pickelhaube helmet

The spiked german helmet is called a Pickelhaube and upon learning that as a kid I couldn't decide if the name was awesome or hilarious – I later learned it basically translates to "pointy hat" and not "pickle holder" as I had assumed.  This isn't to suggest that you couldn't stick a pickle on to the spike to save it for later. 

Otto Von Bismark in pickelhaube 

Russian Cavalry

An imperial double headed eagle as tall as the rest of the helmet is pretty magnificent. I suppose the spectacular hat is to make up for the fact that he is the cavalry drummer and in about a decade the Russian army would face a Japanese army armed with machine guns.

Russian Army (from here)

While the practicality of a giant feathered plume on your hat might be questioned by some. I wonder if its use waned because it would go embarrassingly flaccid in the rain? 

French army helmet circa World War 1

The French WW1 helmet above has a decorative hump attached, although it was much less extravagant than the golden age. As the steel protective helmet took off the decorative features become less common.

Russian Lancer

The age of fantastic hats was also an age of proud facial hair. Although the fellow above may be making a statement with his lack symmetry.

German Lancer 1914
Note his great squared and flat topped lancer helmet. Just imagine all things he could have balanced up there. People may not be surprised at a head on a pedestal but what about a pedestal on top a head? That's a man with a dangerous outlook on the world.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Ancient Sumerian

Never let it be said that this isn't a classy, high brow establishment interested in other cultures and languages.

The ancient Sumerian symbol for woman :

Sumerian pictogram for woman

Below is the Ancient Sumerian symbol for man. It seems more ambiguous. It could be a fist and forearm or a cartoon man standing in a helmet or a tailless seahorse.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Genius of the Modern World s1e1 Marx

Genius of the Modern World, season 1, episode 1, titled "Marx" clip from about the 41 minute mark.


Bettany Hughes : And then we're told Marx made things worse. Living with the family was a feisty woman called Helene. She helped around the house, she was a fellow radical and friend but, Marx slept with her and fathered an illegitimate son at the same time that Jenny was pregnant again. This was not Marx's finest hour.

Rachel Holmes (Marx Family Biographer) : Jenny was furious. They'd all known each other for a long time. So, clearly, there is some drama and upset that goes on. and it is really heavy going. Marx is sending notes to Engels saying I can't go home because it's an absolute storm and everyone is really upset and Jenny was furious please come have a drink with me at the pub at Russell street.

Bettany Hughes  : You know he has slept with somebody who's not his wife; she's pregnant. This is a terrible stigma at the time. It's tough now it was really really tough in the nineteenth century.

Rachel Holmes (Marx Family Biographer) : Hmmmm...Well, is it? Because they are quite conventionally unconventional. And at that time, illegitimacy, particularly in the circles that they were moving in, politically and socially, isn't such a stigma. But at the same time quite a lot of the evidence points towards the fact that Jenny wanted it covered up.

Bettany Hughes  : so who takes responsibility for all this?

Rachel Holmes (Marx Family Biographer) : Who makes it ok is Engels. He makes it understood that he is the father. And Engels, he takes the rap for his best friend.

Bettany Hughes  : Wow. What do you think this incident tells us about Marx?

Rachel Holmes (Marx Family Biographer) : Marx is a man! And ultimately, also a Victorian Patriarch. A man like any other that needs to be understood in context and all heroes have their flaws.

The interview with Rachel Holmes ends on that note.

Ah, the familiar Marxist argumentation style of tossing up a variety of arguments up to see what sticks :
Oh, poor Marx! He was a victim in this and people were mad at him; he was suffering! Didn't fall for that? OK, then ...An illegitimate kid is no big deal! It was accepted in their social circle. Was his wife part of his social circle? OK, then ... in that case it's no big deal because Engels makes it understood that he is the father. He takes the rap and by rap I mean the thing I just claimed wasn't a big deal a moment ago. Oh, you still think it reflects poorly on Marx? OK, then ... it's because he's just a man! All men have illegitimate kids! We should really blame the Victorians as they controlled the penis of all German emigres! Blame the Patriarchy! It was taken out of context! Don't forget he's a hero! C'mon! You're holding him to too high of a standard! Nobody's perfect!

I'll note that the subjects of the series "Genius of the Modern World" are Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud.

from episode 2 of the series on Nietzsche :

The host, Bettany Hughes, declares that :
"The Nietzsche of the Nazis was a hideous parody... And yet perhaps the blame for his misuse is not entirely Elizabeth's. Nietzsche would never have advocated Hitler's final solution but, he was naive if he thought his work would not be misunderstood. Evil loves nothing better than a void, and the philosopher's clever, ambiguous aphorisms could easily be put to the service of evil. Even when he was entirely sane, Nietzsche  said that bad would be done in his name. The sister and the brother must share responsibility for the life that his work took on after his death."

There wasn't a comparable measuring of responsibility in the Marx episode.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Erasing the Past : Lynch schools

On Wednesday, the Centennial School Board in Oregon voted to remove 'Lynch' from the names of three elementary schools
Lynch Meadows and Lynch Wood Elementary schools will now become Meadows and Wood Elementary schools
Lynch View Elementary will be changed to Patrick Lynch Elementary, after the man who donated the land to the district in the late 1800s
School officials say they have been getting complaints about the names in recent years over the connotation with lynching
While the Lynch family had no ties to the racist mobs, they decided to change the name so as not to offend any students

In recent years, school officials say they have received complaints from people who are concerned about the name's connotation with lynching.'There were an increasing amount of questions and some complaints from families of color around the name,' Centennial School District Superintendent Paul Coakley, who is black, told the Oregonian.  'Our diversity is increasing every year, with families coming in from Northeast Portland and out of state, so [the names] needed to be looked at,' he added. 

'I don't think any of you have ever seen a picture where one of your decedents was hanging from a tree,' one black man said to the board. 

He probably hasn't either - at least I certainly hope not. Of course, being written by the semi-literates at Daily Mail I felt I had to check the other links to see if actually said either "decedents" or "descendants" or if he didn't misspeak and actually said "ancestors." He quite clearly says "descendants." What a travesty that no one recognized the mistake.


I do wonder if it a bit of rhetoric or if he actually has an ancestor who had been lynched. Of course, white people were lynched too.

A young student added: 'I know the majority of you guys are white and it's hard to know how that word could have an effect but it does. If a simple name change could make students feel safe, then why are we holding back?'
Remember, you have to be sensitive towards people. Unless they were born with the name "Lynch" in their family history in which case you can go ahead and smear them and their name with a brutal crime they had nothing to do with. 

movie notes : Atomic Blonde (2017)

This gets the "She's a Ninja!" tag.  Mostly it was plausible but there were 2 occasions where she grabbed a fully grown professional spy goon and she flipped him aside like he didn't weigh twice as much as her. There were also the occasional choreographed fight scene when she fights multiple opponents where it seemed like everyone paused while she hits the first guy and then the first guy pauses while she hits the second guy etc... But that seems to be in most action movies these days.

It stars an aging Charlize Theron whose British accent didn't seem quite right. But my critical response to her performance could be due to her anti-charisma.  Her power of anti-charisma is probably equal to Matt Damon. Just like Matt Damon in the movie The Martian during the movie I hoped that Charlize Theron's character would get transported to another planet and run out of air. With both I am find myself distracted during their movies with the hope that their characters will die. It is potent anti-charisma indeed when I find myself hoping against hope that an East German Stasi goon will win the fight.

Unlike Matt Damon, I wonder if she is actually a robot. There was a moment, that due to the lighting, her pupil appeared to be square and my first thought was "I knew it she's an android!" (I thought for sure her character was an android in Prometheus). She isn't an unattractive woman but besides her appearance she generally seems like a complete bore and unconvincing.

At one point she takes a bath in a tub full of ice and then gets out, drops a couple ice cubes into a glass and pours herself a vodka. The ice cubes obviously came from the disgusting bath water.

Monday, August 14, 2017

taxpayer subsidies for millionaires

Robert De Niro mugging for the camera in his American Express TV commercial

Robert De Niro on suggested cuts to the NEA :

Robert De Niro ripped into the Trump administration’s plans to chop funding to the arts tonight at a gala benefit in his honor at Lincoln Center on Monday night. In his acceptance speech, De Niro called for health care and referenced Donald Trump’s comments about Meryl Streep following her own honor at the Golden Globes earlier this year, but he reserved the bulk of his ire for lamenting to strip funding to government support to agencies supporting the arts.

“We make movies to entertain audiences. Audiences vote by seeing them; critics vote by writing about them; and then posterity takes its time to decide if they’re art — or not,” De Niro said while accepting the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s 44th annual Chaplin Award. “I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because of our government’s hostility towards art. The budget proposal, among its other draconian cuts to life-saving and life-enhancing programs, eliminates the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. For their own divisive political purposes, the administration suggests that the money for these all-inclusive programs goes to rich liberal elites. This is what they now call an ‘alternative fact,’ but I call it bullshit.

Who could imagine rich liberal elites wanting subsidies for rich liberal elite multimillionaires?

Robert DeNiro (net worth $200,000,000) is a founder of the Tribeca Film Institute and a member of it's board of directors. According to the NEA grant search for "Tribeca Film Institute" :

In 2017 they received 3 grants totaling $50,000.
In 2016 they received a single $50,000 grant.
In 2015 they received a single $15,000 grant.
In 2014 they received a single $40,000 grant.
In 2013 they received a single $50,000 grant.
In 2012 they received two grants totaling $95,000 grant.
In 2011 they received two grants totaling $90,000 grant.
no grants in 2010 and 2009
In 2008 they received a single $40,000 grant.
no grants from its founding in 2002 to 2007
In total that is $430,000. That is an average of $43,000 per year from it's first grant to 2017.

According to the NEH grant search for Tribeca Film Institute" :
2010 the received $65,000
2011 they received $350,000
2013 they received a supplement grant of $75,000
2014 they received $20,000 ($40,000 approved but only $230,000 awarded)
In total that is $510,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Together it comes to $940,000 over 10 years or an average of $94,000 per year. I wonder if he mentioned in his speech that he is complaining that his pet project would lose out on getting government money?

Here is Robert De Niro in a Subaru car TV commercial

Here is Robert de Niro in a Docomo dVideo Japanese TV commercial

Here is Robert De Niro in an American Express commercial

Here is Robert De Niro in a Santander Bank TV commercial

Clearly, he is willing to show up in exchange for money as the above ads show as does his work in the movies Dirty Grandpa (2016) and Joy(2015).

I know what you're thinking, without grants from taxpayers whose net worth and yearly income is far, far less than his; will his children go hungry? Good news! Robert De Niro owns 2 or possibly 3 restaurants : NobuTribeca Grill , and the Greenwich Hotel which houses a restaurant. His kids can bus tables and eat leftovers.


Let's look at another liberal elite multimillionaire : Robert Redford net worth $170,000,000

According to the NEA grant search for his "Sundance Institute"
2017  3 grants worth $270,000
2016  3 grants worth $270,000
2015  3 grants worth $280,000
2014  3 grants worth $225,000
2013  2 grants worth $95,000
2012  2 grants worth $180,000
2011  2 grants worth $180,000
2010  2 grants worth $225,000
2009  2 grants worth $180,000
2008  2 grants worth $175,000
2007  2 grants worth $155,000
2006  2 grants worth $150,000
2005  2 grants worth $150,000
2004  2 grants worth $150,000
2003  2 grants worth $133,000
2002  2 grants worth $127,000
2001  2 grants worth $125,000
2000  3 grants worth $132,000
1999  1 grant worth $100,000
1998  2 grants worth $161,750

Robert Redford has said that the founding of Sundance was helped by NEA grants. They have received NEA grants every year since 1981 but unfortunately anything before 1998 isn't included in the NEA grant search. A search of the NEH grant database returned nothing. Between 1998 and 2017 the Sundance Institute has received $3,463,750 or an average of $173,187 per year.

here is Robert Redford's image and his voiceover in a Honda ad

here is a Robert Redford voiceover for a United Airline TV ad

Like Robert De Niro, Robert Redford is capable of making money selling his talents,

Robert Redford's reaction to the prospect of NEA cuts :
In 1981, the National Endowment for the Arts played a fundamental role in helping me create Sundance Institute. The NEA generously contributed a $25,000 grant to assist us in launching the very first labs for independent filmmakers to develop new work (programs that continue to this day).

That first promising investment from the NEA, and their belief in my project was vital to launching programs that now support tens of thousands of American artists working in film and theater and new media....
...[cuts to the NEA] would deprive all our citizens of the culture and diversity the humanities brings to our country

He describes the NEA's investment as "vital" to his pet project. Does anyone believe that if the government hadn't thrown in some cash then the famous millionaire would have said "well, I could hit up Paul Newman for that $25,000. Or I could beg for money from business associates and coworkers. Or just work more. But no matter how much I think the Sundance Institute is a good idea; getting cash from taxpayers is indispensable! If I don't get at least $8.50 from the government then screw you clowns, I'll just scrap the whole thing!"

In 2015 they received $280,000 from the NEA. In context, this is a small amount to the Sundance Institute as their revenue from all sources was $45,661,608.  That means in 2015 less than one percent, a mere 0.61%, of the Sundance Institute's budget was from NEA grants but apparently that is enough to "deprive all our citizens of the culture and diversity the humanities brings to our country." Not giving a famous millionaire actor money deprives all our citizens of diversity?

One last thing, according to the filings posted by the Sundance Institute received $2,306,564 in 2015 from government grants (7.6%). That leaves $2,026,564 in taxpayer money that they received but with a government so large and opaque I don't know how or why or where they received it from.


In contrast, this 2012 article on celebrity donations mentions Alec Baldwin giving over a million dollars to the cleverly named Alec Baldwin Foundation. The foundation then issued grants  of $50,000 to the NY Philharmonic, $42,500 to Waterkeeper Alliance, and $250,000 to the Carol M Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

The NEA grant search returns zero results for "Alec Baldwin." He's putting his money towards his personal interests without demanding uninterested taxpayers also give money according to his whim. Good for him.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Possibly the best mechanical pencil ever : Pentel Technic-X

the Pentel PW45 Technic-X in 4 colors

Possibly the best mechanical pencil ever (with some qualifications) : Pentel Technic-X (pw45)

The pencil is wider in diameter than your average mechanical pencil with a taper towards the center and it is quite comfortable. Near the metal tip is a rubbery grip.

The barrel is plastic and after years of use I have had a couple break in half.

The silver cap comes off the top to reveal a tiny, less than useful eraser in a metal sleeve. The eraser isn't fixed at the end of the pencil but rests in the lead reservoir inside the pencil barrel. This means it wobbles when you erase. Worse is that the eraser is just over 1/8" in diameter and 1/2" long while the metal sleeve to keep it from getting pushed into the barrel is 3/8" long. The eraser sits about 1/8" below the barrel so the practical usable part of the eraser is maybe 1/4".

The other criticism of the pencil is the barcode sticker on the barrel doesn't come off easily. It would look better without it. C'est la vie. They wear off eventually. In contrast, the metal pocket clip will come off and once off there is nothing to stop the pencil from rolling away.

Retracting nib!

I found this pencil by accident in, I think, around 2005. I was in a small local office supply store waiting to drop off a package and I happened to pick up one of these. Since I draw I often carry a pencil in my pocket and the retractable tip of the PW45 is great for not getting stabbed by a pencil nib. I bought one and I loved it. The more I used it the more I loved it.  A few weeks later, I realized I needed a backup in case it became lost or broken. I searched the store but couldn't find any. I asked about them and they checked a catalog and they said they couldn't get anymore. I checked other office supply stores. I tried other pencils with retractable tips but they were teases. They didn't work like the pw45.  I found one that had a retractable nib that extended with a push of the button but then I discovered that to retract it you had to push the button and push the tip in. The pw45 uses a full click of the button to extend/retract the nib and a soft click to advance the lead. Having to manually push the nib back in is barbaric. One required a twist of the barrel to extend/retract. Two handed operation is completely unacceptable. Others were flimsy or had a looseness of the nib. They were pale imitations. I looked online and at the Pentel website I discovered they were discontinued. Site after site were sold out. I felt a pit in my stomach like watching a woman you love walk away knowing you'll never see her again.

But I found a site that had some and I ordered a couple dozen.  I've praised the pencil to dozens of people and I've even given a couple away. I've lost a few. I've broken a few and I've left one in a hot car where the rubber grip became permanently sticky leading me to cut it off. I've had people I've given one to ask me for another but now I worry that I don't have a lifetime supply so I demure. (I used to brag about my hoard of spares but I've learned that maybe I shouldn't)

Every so often I check the Pentel site to see if they've come to their senses and started making them again but no such luck. There is the GraphGear 1000 for $22.49. -choke-  I've tried it and it isn't bad. The GraphGear has a metal body and the retraction mechanism is activated by the clip with a loud click.

The price of about $2.50 is one of the PW45's best features. I've seen some retractable pencils like the Rotring 800 or the TWSBI Precision but I'm not willing to spend $20-35 blindly on a pencil I've never used. Neither can I imagine losing a $35 pencil or accidentally putting a $35 pencil through the wash. The PW45 isn't perfect but at $2.50 it was losable and even abusable.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Erasing the Past : Yale sculpture

Via the Yale Alumni Magazine :
If you were especially observant during your years on campus, you may have noticed a stone carving by the York Street entrance to Sterling Memorial Library that depict a hostile encounter: a Puritan pointing a musket at a Native American (top). When the library decided to reopen the long-disused entrance as the front door of the new Center for Teaching and Learning, says head librarian Susan Gibbons, she and the university’s Committee on Art in Public Spaces decided the carving’s “presence at a major entrance to Sterling was not appropriate.” The Puritan’s musket was covered over with a layer of stone (bottom) that Gibbons says can be removed in the future without damaging the original carving. 

 The obvious point seems to be that "Puritan pointing a musket at a Native American" seems inaccurate. They are both looking in the same direction and one would expect the puritan to be looking towards the indian if the intent was to aim at the indian.

They do get one point of credit for making the censorship of the past both largely unobtrusive and reversible.

The only quote of the head librarian Susan Gibbons is "presence at a major entrance to Sterling was not appropriate" Unfortunately there isn't any explanation of why it is inappropriate although one might assume that the "Puritan pointing a musket at a Native American" canard might be why.

I'll note that the Committee on Art in Public Spaces self description is "The committee will hear from members of the community about art and other symbolic representations related to diversity and consider ways Yale might better reflect our campus and our history."

movie notes : Crumb (1994)

from the commentary track of the documentary movie Crumb (1994) (around the 24 minute mark)

Terry Zwigoff, director :  This guy Skutch he's talking about [a high school bully from the Crumb childhood] is another guy I tried to track down and interview in the film and I actually found him. He was living outside Milford, Delaware; close to where he'd gone to high school. I got him on the phone and I said to him I'd doing a documentary about this guy Robert Crumb and his brother Charles and Max and do you remember him from high school. He said "yeah vaguely" I said what do you do for a living? I may come out there and interview you if; we're trying to raise more money at the time... He said he ran some sort of salvage operation; I couldn't tell from that whether it was some sort of like a  progressive recycling situation or just a city dump. I couldn't tell. We were so short on money I just sort of let that go. It could have been good, I don't know.

it is an interesting distinction to draw into importance. Now, I may be being uncharitable but it seems like he sees a "progressive recycling situation" as something wonderful while a city dump/scrap yard/salvage operation is simply and distinctly déclassé. But is there a difference?

There is to some. Not a practical difference; both are recycling. Both are about reuse. Both are about not being wasteful. The difference is an arbitrary one of social standing.

This is much like those who are fascinated by "tiny houses," even those with wheels so they are mobile but somehow the phrases "mobile home" or "trailer home" are studiously omitted.  The difference between a tiny house and a mobile home is often defined as being able to afford minimalism vs not being able to afford something other than a mobile home.

Again,  I may be being uncharitable (and a little unfair as I am not a mind reader) but he did feel it necessary to interrupt his fellow commentarian to put this little bit of information out there (and the above transcript is the full statement he made about the man).  I sense he was thinking of the meme of the bully in high school who peaks in those years and then declines into obscurity while the victims of the bully have a documentary film made about them.

Friday, June 9, 2017

a regulation beclowning

At one David Lumb beclowns :
In March, the FAA noted that over 100,000 hobby drone owners had registered their machines since the year began, bringing the total in the US over 770,000. Owners have filed their non-commercial UAVs with the agency ever since the DoT passed a law in December 2015 that made registration mandatory. But a Washington, D.C. court has struck down that legislation, freeing just-for-fun drone owners from notifying the government of their purchases -- for good and ill.

The Department of Transportation passes laws! One can argue that a regulation can have the force of law but the difference between the two is significant and important.  Unelected bureaucrats "passing laws" maybe somewhat accurate but that isn't how the system is supposed to be.

Imagine a cop directing traffic. He holds out his hand to signal the traffic from the side street to stop and waves in the other direction for traffic to start. Imaginary David Lumb, on the sidewalk, then announces that "the cop has passed a law mandating the flow of traffic! Who knows what other vast power over mere men that cop has."

The FCC is a fine example of unelected bureaucrats transforming an arm of the government into something beyond it's purview. Previous to FDR, the FCC (and its predecessor the FRC) was mostly about the technical aspects of radio : are the licensee staying in their frequency? what is their allowable broadcasting power? are the paying their license fee?  In the 1936 election over 90% of newspapers opposed FDR and in retaliation he propagated regulation to prevent newspapers from owning radio stations. The president made his priority clear with a single sentence memo sent to the FCC chairman : "Will you let me know when you propose to have a hearing on newspaper ownership of radio stations."

In addition, they introduced the fairness doctrine and its predecessor the Mayflower Doctrine.  In 1939 the FCC ruled against John Sheppard and the Yankee Network stating that "The licensee has assumed the obligation of presenting all sides of important public questions, fairly, objectively and without bias" (from the book American Broadcasting and the First Amendment by Lucas A. Powe, jr, 1987 p110)  The FCC took it upon itself to decide what is and is not a "important public question" and if it is presented fairly.  Sheppard kept his broadcasting license by promising to never editorialize.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Rooster helmet

I bet I can guess the nickname of the guy who owned this. Everybody would yell at him "Hey! Cockface!"

Sunday, April 9, 2017

They're not egalitarians : Kate Jenkins of the Australian Human Rights Commission

Via JF Beck;  The Australian Human Rights Commission's Kate Jenkins considers the World Economic Forum's Gender Gap report (pdf) to be a quality source :
In the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Gender Gap Report, Australia ranked number one for educational attainment. Yet that same report ranked Australia 46th for overall gender equality due to low levels of economic participation and political empowerment.
Incorrect assumptions are being made about the progress of gender equality both in Australia and internationally. 

While the WEF Gender Gap Report (pdf) claims to be interested in the question of whether countries "educate women and men in equal numbers" note that women in Australia (p90) are over represented in tertiary education with a score of 102 for women to 72 for men but they redefine what looks to regular people like a gender gap as "equality."

WEF Gender Gap report Education in Australia
Equality, apparently, means when one side does better than the other.

With regards to political empowerment the Gender Gap report has 3 criteria : Women in parliament, Women in ministerial positions, and Years with female head of state (over the last 50 years).  At first, I thought they were under the impression that Queen Elizabeth was a dude. It turns out that by head of state they mean PM and not the Queen or Governor General. Second they are criticizing the choices women make to run or not and who women vote for. Third, you can get a grasp of the Gender Gap's line of thinking by noting the other data points they include : "Quota for women on candidate lists in national elections, Quota for women on candidate lists in local elections, Voluntary political party quotas."

Australia women voting for the wrong sex and women choosing not to run in elections causes gender gaps.

Australia ranking 2 places below Mauritania in the political empowerment category is shameful.  Mauritania has a President that became president after leading a coup (and it wasn't the first coup he had participated in), press restrictions, female genital mutilation, child marriage, a legal system that can result in rape victims being arrested for adultery, laws mandating islam as the religion of the state and all citizens so converting to another religion leads to a loss of citizenship, apostasy is also a death penalty crime and chattel slavery. If they're losing in a comparison with Mauritania then Australia must be a real hell hole for women. 

WEF Gender Gap report political empowerment ranking to Mauritania over Australia
Political Empowerment rankings (p13) Mauritania has quotas for women on candidate lists in national elections so that makes Mauritanian women more politically empowered than women in Australia despite the chattel slavery, dictatorship, female genital mutilation 

The economic participation is covered by the now old wage gap discussions (education, experience, hours worked etc).  But  I will note that legislators are counted in both the "economic participation" category and counted again in the "political empowerment" category. Burundi is ranked as #1 in the economic participation category; possibly due to their poverty causing the necessity of women to work.

WEF Gender Gap report Economic participation in Australia

Kate of the AHRC didn't mention the WEF's 4th category : health. The WEF notes the Australian life expectancy is 74 for woman and only 71 for men which everyone can see is a gender gap. But to the WEF Gender Gap Report it is women falling behind because they have redefined "equality" as women living 6% longer than men. Consequently, Australian Life expectancy is ranked at 87th place dragging down their overall score.

WEF Gender Gap report Health in Australia
Equality, apparently, means one side doing better than the other by at least 6%

In fact, the country listed at the very top of the 2016 Gender Gap Report Table C11: Healthy life expectancy (p55) isn't the country where men & women's health is most equal but the country with the biggest gap in life expectancy on the entire list : Russia (66 years for women and 55 for men). These are not rigorous egalitarians.

Someone should ask Kate Jenkins if the Australian Human Rights Commission shares the Gender Gap Report's views that "equality" requires men to die years before women and if she thinks quotas in a slave owning dictatorship means more political empowerment than Australia's system.

(previous reports on the Gender Gap Report can be found under the Phony Egalitarianism tag)

Update May 19, 2017 : On the first of May, I twittered in the general direction of Kate Jenkins citing the WEF Gender Gap report claim that equality of life expectancy should be a 1:1.06 ratio and asking :
@Kate_Jenkins_ You cite the WEF Gender Gap report; you agree with them that men must die years before women for there to be equality?
But no response. Related :

Kate Jenkins and her crazy eyes wearing her "Wen you laugh togetha cos you know ur gonna smash the patriarchy" shirt.
Kate Jenkins (right) in her poorly spelled smash the patriarchy shirt

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Art as a Creative Endeavor : Andy Warhol's Prince

Seen here

photograph of Prince, 1981 by Lynn Goldsmith
(I couldn't find a clean copy of the photo –this one is close –so this is taken from the lawsuit against the photographer by the Andy Warhol Foundation hence the oval around the eyes)

Prince by Andy Warhol, 1984

animated gif below the fold

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Ici Repose

I wasn't aware that "ici repose" was french for "here rests" Up until recently I assumed it was meant what it sounded like : Dead in the ground lying in icy cold repose.


Some typos are expected but there certain institutions that encountering a typo is as unexpected as a sudden bucket of cold dumped over you.

As seen at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts :

Monday, February 27, 2017

Roman Breast Plate

from the movie Gladiator (2000)

breasts breast plate

Saturday, February 25, 2017

I pretty much called it

Way back on the 3rd of May, 2015 there was an attack on the First Annual Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest held in Garland, Texas. The response to the attack included the Washington Post headline "Event organizer offers no apology after thwarted attack in Texas." Expecting the victim of an attempted mass murder if they'll apologize for being attacked isn't standard. In fact, I wonder how many people who only read the headline would assume the event organizer played some kind of role in the attack other than as the victim.

 Paco of Paco Enterprises in response :
I am trying to imagine the coming American "utopia", where everyone will be compelled to publicly accept the moral neutrality of homosexual acts, traditional Christian teachings on the subject will be excluded from the the marketplace of ideas, but an enormous cultural carve-out will be made for Muslim sensibilities. If Islamist radicals shoot up a gay pride parade, will the incident simply be considered a moral wash, or will gays actually be expected to apologize for provoking their assailants?

my response was this :
I think I would put money on this : the journolisters won't mention any particular religion and blame the "conservative" shooters while gays will be victims of hate/overheated rhetoric and muslims will be said to fear that perpetually mentioned backlash.

Fast forward to June 12, 2016 and the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando Florida occurs leaving 49 victims dead and dozens injured.  This mass murder was perpetrated by Omar Mateen an Islamist radical who had said "real muslims will never accept the filthy ways of the west ... taste the Islamic state [sic] vengeance." The NYTimes coverage included this editorial :
While the precise motivation for the rampage remains unclear, it is evident that Mr. Mateen was driven by hatred toward gays and lesbians. Hate crimes don’t happen in a vacuum. They occur where bigotry is allowed to fester, where minorities are vilified and where people are scapegoated for political gain. Tragically, this is the state of American politics, driven too often by Republican politicians who see prejudice as something to exploit, not extinguish. 
Throughout the editorial there is no mention of Islam or the potential of Islamic culture,  or ISIS or Islamic texts' position on gays to influence Mateen.

Now I admit that the editorial doesn't include anything about a backlash like I predicted but the New York Times doesn't let me down. After the shooting they published an article headlined "A Muslim Community in Virginia Feels the Heat of Extremists’ Sins" and includes a quote from an imam "We’re fearful of a backlash."

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Correction for Tim Blair

Angela Davis (right) shaking hands and smiling with leader of East Germany Erich Honecker proponent of the Berlin Wall, the Inner German Border and the idea of shooting people trying to exit East Germany

Tim Blair writes :
Also, it’s the first resistance movement anywhere that actually opposes guns.
"The next 1,459 days of the Trump administration will be 1,459 days of resistance: Resistance on the ground, resistance in the classrooms, resistance on the job, resistance in our art and in our music." – Veteran US civil rights activist Angela Davis, who is free to say whatever she wants without fear of incarceration.

I don't think Angela Davis is opposed to guns, at least not opposed to guns for people on her side. Four guns owned by her were used to take hostages in a courtroom in an attempt by her boyfriend's brother to free her boyfriend from prison.

In 1970, fired UCLA professor Angela Davis considered a prison inmate named George Jackson to be her "lifetime" husband, though they were never legally married. George Jackson was a Black Panther and in a subset of the Black Panthers called the Soledad Brothers. A plan was hatched to get Jackson out of prison by kidnapping persons during the trial of another Black Panther named James McClain. Those to be held hostage - including the judge, deputy district attorney, and jurors - would be traded for Jackson's freedom. McClain was being tried in the Marin County Hall of Justice. Judge Haley was presiding over the trial of McClain who was accused of stabbing a prison guard while serving a sentence for burglary.[10]
The person chosen to effectuate the kidnapping was George's younger brother Jonathan. In the week preceding the kidnapping, Angela Davis and Jonathan Jackson spent much time together, visiting George, buying things, and cashing checks. In the days before the kidnapping, Davis and Jonathan Jackson drove to Mexico, Santa Cruz, Oakland, San Jose, San Francisco, and San Rafael. Two days before the kidnapping, Davis and Jonathan Jackson bought a shotgun from a pawn shop in San Francisco. After Davis paid for the shotgun, the barrel of the shotgun was sawed off so as to be concealable.[11]
Angela Davis looking endearingly at Fidel Castro (who seized power and kept power with guns)

Angela Davis was also a Communist Party USA leader and the Communist Party USA Vice Presidential candidate in 1980/1984. I haven't seen her explicit views at the time but the CPUSA had a reputation for following the USSR's party line. Gus Hall, the Chairman of the CPUSA and her running mate in 1980 & 1984, defended the Soviet war in Afghanistan.

In her book "Women, Race and Class" (1981) she writes a chapter titled" Rape, Racism and the Myth of the Black Rapist" where she mentions "In the history of the United States, the fraudulent rape charge stands out as one of the most formidable artifices invented by racism." I wonder what response a sign warning that some women lie about rape would have gotten at the Women's March?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Robert Reich : Tyranny Detective

Tyrant Detective Robert Reich always gets his tyrant; mostly because he lowers the bar so everyone qualifies.

Robert Reich, has come up with a little video where he explains 
"Historically, tyrants have tried to control the press using 4 techniques that, worryingly, Donald Trump is already using."
1. Berate the media and turn the public against it. Trump refers to journalists as “dishonest,” “disgusting” and “scum.” When Trump lies—claiming, for example, “massive voter fraud” in the election, and that he “won in a landslide”—and the media call him on those lies, Trump claims the media is lying. Even televised satires he labels “unfunny, one-sided, and pathetic.” 
2. Limit media access. Trump hasn’t had a news conference since July. (His two predecessors had news conferences within days of being declared president.) He’s blocked the media from traveling with him, and even from knowing with whom he’s meeting. His phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which occurred shortly after the election, was first reported by the Kremlin. 
3. Threaten the media. During the campaign, Trump threatened to sue the New York Times for libel in response to an article about two women who accused him of touching them inappropriately years ago, and then another that revealed part of his 1995 tax returns. He says he plans to “open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.” 
4. Bypass the media and communicate with the public directly. Trump tweets incessantly, issues videos, and holds large rallies—all of which further enable him to lie directly to the public with impunity. The word “media” comes from “intermediate” between the powerful and the public. The media hold the powerful accountable by correcting their misstatements, asking them hard questions, and reporting on what they do. Apparently Trump wants to eliminate such intermediaries. 
Historically, these 4 techniques have been used by demagogues to erode the freedom and independence of the press. Donald Trump seems intent on doing exactly this.

Let's look at his 4 criteria and see of Robert Reich thinks Obama is a tyrant: 
1) berate the media - The Obama admin called Fox News illegitimate. I recall Obama on the Daily Show bashing the media for being focused on shiny objects. (as an aside, why should the media be free from criticism? They often truly deserve it.) I'm not sure if he ever committed the unforgivable sin (and the hallmark of all the worst tyrants) of calling a televised satire "unfunny." 

2) Limit media access - Obama kicked some reporters from less fawning newspapers off his plane during the campaign while claiming a lack of room. There wasn't room on the plane for a NY Post reporter but Glamour magazine? Sure. The Obama admin tried to exclude Fox from pool interviews and when the other news orgs balked everyone's interview time was reduced (see link above). Obama's EPA head Lisa Jackson used the nom-de-plume "Richard Windsor" to evade FOIA requests.

3) Threaten the media.  The Obama admin referred to reporter James Rosen as a co-conspirator to get a warrant to monitor his email over time because he had written an article based on a source in the State Dept. and then they tried to keep the warrant a secret. Note the selective prosecution of leaks. Obama's appointment Ann Ravel of the FEC wants posting of a video to youtube with a political point of view to be subject to FEC regulations. Obama has said the Citizen's United case was wrongly decided. Keep in mind that when asked "It's a 500-page book, and at the end it says, so vote for X, the government could ban that?" the response from the Obama administration was "Yes"

4) Bypass the media and communicate directly with the public. Yeah Obama has held rallys, TV speeches, radio addresses, TV infomercials * and posted to twitter.

Following is my attempt at being a tyrant in a single sentence :
Because some reporters are awful, lying incompetent hacks (#1 berate the media) I think the law should be changed by Congress so there should be one standard for libel for everyone instead of a separate standard for a "public figure" (#3 Threaten the media) and I'm going to exercise my free speech rights to post this on my blog (#4 Bypass the media and communicate directly with the public) but I will refuse to do a press conference (#2 Limit media access).

(I'd like to point out that while I support having a single standard for libel I am opposed to changing the standard to where the defendant has to prove something is true instead of the complainant having to prove the truth is on their side. I think the value of free speech tends to outweigh the burden of having to present the truth. Also there is the very real idea that something can be true without having proof right at hand. Technically, this puts me at odds with the UK and France where the defendant has to offer proof that what the published is true. Does this mean they are as big a tyrant as me?

* at the TV infomercial link above to the NY Times is headlined "Infomercial for Obama Is Big Success in Ratings" and, while I could have sworn the NYT was interested in the corrosive effect of money in politics, there is absolutely zero mention of it – not even a mention of how much was spent.

Update Feb 10, 2017 : I forgot this important evidence as to why Reich thinks Obama is a tyrant. Back in 2008, during the campaign, a reporter was asking him a question and he responded with "Why Can't I Just Eat My Waffle?"  (#2 limiting media access)
Update Oct 11, 2017 : It could be that Robert Reich doesn't like people of color; after all Obama is black and Trump is orange.