Previous month:
April 2009
Next month:
June 2009

May 2009

Friday Ephemera

The museum of scientifically accurate fabric brain art. (h/t, Cronaca) // Kate MccGwire makes sculpture out of pigeon feathers. // Airplane hotel, Costa Rica. // B-2 stealth bomber. // Water-powered jet pack. // At last, a heated ice-cream scoop. (h/t, sk60) // Your very own wine tasting bar. // Another circumhorizontal arc. // Vanity pixels. // Vertical radiators. // Futuristic megastructures. // Ruins. // How to draw animals. (h/t, Things) // Vintage picture stories. // Vintage health and safety. (h/t, Coudal) // International toothpaste museum. // 19th century obstetrics dolls. // A history of political correctness. // And, via The Thin Man, it’s Mr William “Count” Basie.

Collective Enterprise

Further to recent rumblings on the subject, Ilya Somin ponders Star Trek and socialism: 

Star Trek is a cultural icon watched by tens of millions. Many more people will derive their vision of what the future should be at least partially from Star Trek than from reading serious scholarship. Law professor Benjamin Barton wrote that “no book released in 2005 will have more influence on what kids and adults around the world think about government than The Half-Blood Prince [of the hugely popular Harry Potter series].” Similarly, no nonfiction book of the last few decades is likely to have more influence on how people see the future than Star Trek. If Star Trek continues to portray a socialist future as basically unproblematic, and even implies that a transition to full-blown socialism can be achieved without any major trauma, that is a point worth noting.

With rare exceptions, the Star Trek franchise has been far too blasé in its portrayal of future socialism and its implications. After all, socialist regimes have been responsible for the death and impoverishment of millions. There has never been a society that combined full-blown socialism with prosperity or extensive “noneconomic” liberties for the population. And there has never been a transition to socialism without large-scale repression and mass murder. If Star Trek’s writers want to posit a new form of socialism that somehow avoids the shortcomings of all previous ones, they should at least give us some sense of how this new and improved socialism escaped the usual pitfalls. Had a similarly prominent pop culture icon been equally obtuse in its portrayal of fascism or even milder forms of right-wing oppression (e.g. - by portraying a rightist military dictatorship that seems to work well and benefits the people greatly without any noticeable loss of personal freedom), it would have been universally pilloried.

The whole thing.

Friday Ephemera

Sand sculpture festival, 2009. // Explore Rio. // If your lifespan was a movie, whereabouts would you be? // Star Trek film quite good, fans upset. // Baffled by Shatner. // Shatnerquake. // Carbon atoms in motion. // Communists in the rain. // Ronald Reagan gives good speech, 1964. (h/t, The Thin Man) // Andy Warhol paints Debbie Harry using an Amiga, 1985. // Quimby the Mouse. // Comic book hair. // Edible alphabet. // Le Mans, 1953. // Storage tanks of note. // The wind-up vibrator. // 20,000 images of polar exploration. // What’s in the Box? A student film. // And, via The Thin Man, it’s Mr Tony Hatch


Circa 1890, Yokohama:


Firefighters in happi coats perform acrobatic stunts on top of bamboo ladders. The ladder stunts were the main event of Japanese New Year celebrations. The demonstrations, called dezome-shiki, were intended to warn people of the dangers of fire, and to demonstrate the agility and courage of the firefighters.

Via Old Photos of Japan. (h/t, Coudal) And yes, it’s still performed today.

Friday Ephemera

Business cards made of meat. // Mighty bugs. // Beetle weapons. // Chinese cave school. // Potholes of note. // Photographs of Paris. // East Germany, 1990. // End of rainbow found at last. // On matters theological. // When hippies blather. It’s a crystalline vacuum, man. // Drum kit made of ice. // A history of wine. (h/t, Coudal) // Dollar bills versus lasers. // Octopus versus cuttlefish. // The sounds of games arcades, 1984. // Fun with orbital dynamics. (h/t, The Thin Man) // The shapes of UFOs, 1968. // The circles of hell. // And, via The Thin Man, it’s Mr Lester Flatt & Mr Earl Scruggs.