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Friday, March 10, 2017

How Russians In 1960 Imagined the Year 2017

Matt Novak from Paleofuture:
Matt Baillie from the Facebook group Soviet Visuals sent me a tip about the retro-futuristic filmstrip... the illustrations were created by L. Smekhov and written by V. Strukova and V. Shevchenko. 
I’ve included select images from what appears to be the original source (Sergey Pozdnyakov) below, along with some of the translations from the Moscow Times

From the Moscow Times:
Then in the film, the Earth itself disappears. In outer space, almost at the speed of light, photon interstellar rocketships set off for the nearest and faraway planetary system, Alpha Centauri.
Of course they've envisioned a way to deal with the harsh winters:

by building an underground paradise:

The Soviets have developed sophisticated weather control stations, which they occasionally have to use to save the world from the remnants of the dirty capitalists:

From the Moscow Times:
Meanwhile, back at the Central Institute for Weather Control, where Igor’s father works, there’s dire news. “We’ve just been informed,” the head meteorologist says, “that the last remaining imperialists, hiding on a remote island, have tested a banned meson weapon. During the test, there was an explosion of unprecedented strength, which destroyed the entire island and simultaneously created atmospheric disturbances around the planet.”

Someone put together a video version of the slide, with horrendous loud music - if you choose to watch it, I suggest that you turn the sound way down or mute it. There are no translations of the slides, but the Moscow Times has the whole set with translations.

The Luddite uprising started on March 11, 1811

March 11th, 1811 is a black-letter day in the annals of Nottinghamshire. It witnessed the commencement of a series of riots which, extending over a period of five years, have, perhaps, no parallel in the history of a civilized country for the skill and secrecy with which they were managed, and the amount of wanton mischief they inflicted.   

~ Chambers Book of Days, 1864 (of the Luddite uprising) (online version here - scroll down)

Machines were, it may be said, the weapon employed by the capitalists to quell the revolt of specialized labor. 

~ Karl Marx (1818-1883) (The Poverty of Philosophy, Ch. 5) 

I'm afraid for all those who will have the bread snatched from their mouths by these machines... What business does science and capitalism got, bringing all these new inventions into the works, before society has produced a generation educated up to using them!

~ Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) (Aune, in Pillars of Society, Act II) 

By his very success in inventing labor-saving devices, modern man has manufactured an abyss of boredom that only the privileged classes in earlier civilizations have ever fathomed.* 

~ Lewis Mumford (1895-1990) ("The Challenge of Renewal," in The Conduct of Life

The mass Luddite trial at York
Industrial man - a sentient reciprocating engine having a fluctuating output, coupled to an iron wheel rotating with uniform velocity.  And then we wonder why this should be the golden age of revolution and mental derangement. 

~ Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) (Time Must Have a Stop, Ch. 30)   

March 11 is the anniversary of the first of the Luddite (wiki) riots in 1811, at the village of Arnold near Nottingham, England, where a group of disgruntled hand weavers, concerned with the threat of newly introduced textile machinery to their livelihood, smashed a  number of knitting frames. Supposedly led by a young apprentice, Ned Ludd, the movement spread quickly to other textile-producing areas in Yorkshire and Lancashire, and widespread damage was done to textile machinery. 

The riots were put down by the British government with the army and with draconian punishments: the troops were sent in to control the Luddites, and the government followed it up with the Frame Breaking Act of 1812 which made the breaking of machines a capital felony. They held a mass trial of those caught in 1813 and executed 17 men - others were sent to penal colonies. The harsh punishments meted out did stop the Luddite protests, but in all between 60 and 70 people were executed.**  

Although the Luddites were not opposed to machinery per se - but rather to the devaluing of their specialized skills by its introduction to the industry - the term Luddite has come to be applied pejoratively to anyone opposed to modern technology and its sociological effects. Be that as it may, that same issue arises today with the spread of automation and its inevitable elimination of many jobs.  On the other hand, as Czech writer, Karel Cepad (1890-1938) has noted, 
"Man will never be enslaved by machinery if the man tending the machine be paid enough."    
* N.B.  I am reminded of Voltaire's famous observation, "Work banishes those three great evils - poverty, boredom, and vice." 

** English historian Eric Hobsbawm (1917-2012) has called the Luddites' wrecking of machinery as "collective bargaining by riot." 

A brief video on the Luddite uprising:


Friday links

Daylight Saving Time starts this weekend: here's some DST history (including Ben Franklin's proposal), stories and video.

It's Chuck Norris' 77th birthday: 5 most badass movies and a bunch of Norris "facts".

The Curse of the Bahia Emerald, a Giant Green Rock That Ruins Lives.

How to Clear a Path Through 60 Feet of Snow, Japanese Style.

ICYMI, Monday's links are here, and include training bomb-sniffing dogs, predatory plants, and Michelangelo's birthday (and his illustrated grocery list).

Monday, March 6, 2017

Smart condom will rate performance, check for STDs and tell you how many calories you've burned

The world's first 'smart condom' which rates a man's sexual performances and can detect STIs has been created by scientists.

The i-Con Smart Condom is billed as the newest form of wearable technology in the ever-growing market.

Providing a range of statistics, including duration, speed and girth measurements, male users are able to assess their sexual prowess. 

The device also records the amount of calories burnt, different positions and can detect chlamydia and syphilis.

It turns out the device is not a condom at all, but rather, a ring that fits over a boring, standard-issue condom and measures the quality of sex based on several metrics, including speed of thrusts, calories burned, and duration of session.

It'll retail at ~$74 and, presumably, will be re-usable.

Map of where Germans voted for the Nazis in 1933

In March 1933, a unified Germany held its last relatively free election before WWII. Hitler had already become Chancellor but he held one last election, seeking a mandate under which to rule. This map shows which areas of Germany supported the Nazi Party most strongly.

However, it’s also important to note that while the Nazis won the most seats in 1933, they did not win a majority of them or the popular vote.

Support varied widely across the country. It was highest in the former Prussian territories in the north-east of Germany (with the exception of Berlin) and much weaker in the west and south of the country, which had, up until 1871, been independent German states.

Across Germany as a whole, the Nazis won 43.91% of the popular vote and got 44.51% of the seats. This made them by far the largest party in the German Reichstag, but still without a clear majority mandate.

via Kottke

Monday links

It's Michelangelo's birthday - here's a brief bio, some art, and his illustrated grocery list.

The Forgotten Kingpins Who Conspired to Save California Wine.

Interesting vintage video: How a manual transmission works.

Human Echolocation - Humans' Hidden Ability to Navigate the World With Tongue Clicks.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include the origins of popular insults, ways animals use poop, when bowling was for royalty only, and Churchill's Iron Curtain speech.

Michelangelo's birthday

Pieta, St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City
The marble not yet carved can hold the form 

Of every thought the great artist has. 

~ Michelangelo Buonarrotti (wiki) (Sonnet 15, excerpt; translation by E. Jennings) 

I have only too much of a wife in this art of mine, who has always kept me in tribulation, and my children shall be the works which I leave, which even if they are naught, will live for a while. 

~ Michelangelo (in answer to being asked why he had not married and had children; in Vasari, Lives of the Artists

All his statues are so constrained by agony that they seem to wish to break themselves. They all seem ready to succumb to the pressure of the despair that fills them. 

David, Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence
Today is the anniversary of the birth of Italian painter, sculptor, architect, and poet Michelangelo Buonarrotti (1475-1564) (wiki), arguably the greatest artist who ever lived. Born in Caprese, Michelangelo apprenticed under the painter Ghirlandaio but then developed his art under the patronage of Lorenzo de Medici in Florence, later departing for Bologna and Rome. In the latter, he produced his sublime Pietà before returning to Florence in 1501, where he created his colossal David.  

Ordered back to Rome in 1505 by Pope Julius II at first to begin work on the pope's tomb, Michelangelo, was instead commissioned to fresco the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which occupied him between 1508 and 1512. (He would paint his startling Last Judgment on the end wall of the Sistine Chapel two decades later.)

Many of Michelangelo's most celebrated works were sculpted for the abortive Julian monument and the Medici Chapel in Florence between 1515 and 1534, but at the same time, he produced a series of celebrated paintings, such as the Conversion of Paul and The Martyrdom of Peter. Late in life, Michelangelo was named the chief architect of St. Peter's basilica in Rome and was largely responsible for the present dome. His verse includes lyric poems, madrigals, and sonnets, some of which have been set to music by composers as diverse as Benjamin Britten and Dmitri Shostakovich.

From the sublime to the mundane, he was still an artist - below is one of his surviving grocery lists (via Open Culture):
“Because the servant he was sending to market was illiterate,” writes the Oregonian‘s Steve Duin in a review of a Seattle Art Museum show, “Michelangelo illustrated the shopping lists — a herring, tortelli, two fennel soups, four anchovies and ‘a small quarter of a rough wine’ — with rushed (and all the more exquisite for it) caricatures in pen and ink.”
Click here to embiggen
There are, of course, many books written about Michelangelo, but I remember feeling as though I understood both him and the times in which he lived much better when I first read The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo. If, like me, you already have too many books in your queue, try the movie version (starring Charlton Heston as the artist).

Related posts and links:

NPR has translated Leonardo's To-Do List.