Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding Dress, Tonga

Had enough of Kate’s dress yet? This is the 1976 Tongan royal wedding of Capt. M. Tuita and Princess Pilolevu. (They say knock-off dresses were worn by Tongan brides and grooms for the next two seasons.)

Here is a link for more vintage postcards from Tonga.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dominoes or Dominos?

Frankly, I have nothing to add to the discourse on dominoes (that goes for theory and design). I just like the boxes.

Read about the history of dominoes here. Read about domino producer, Halsam, here. The company was founded as a block manufacturer in 1917 by brothers-in-law Hal and Sam. Vintage domino sets are readily available on eBay.

Russian domino set for the blind.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Scenes from the National Conference for Media Reform

Earlier this month, with the government shutdown narrowly averted, Nancy Pelosi dropped in on the National Conference for Media Reform, to address the crowd of some 2,500 activists, scholars, and journalists.

Free Press, the advocacy group for a diverse and independent media, sponsored the event, which was held at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston.

The weekend was jam-packed with panels, lectures, and workshops on everything from Wikileaks to comics to the FCC. Videos of the sessions and talks can be viewed here.

Assorted tidbits …
Bernie Sanders addressed the crowd remotely, and Craig Newmark
appeared on a panel.

A session about the astroturfing exploits of
the Koch family was standing room only.

At a panel about the failure of the financial press, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz identified the inherent problem in relying on business people as sources: “There’s no incentive for good information. There’s much incentive for distorted information.” Watch the panel here.

“The “S” Word, A Short History of An American Tradition … Socialism” by John Nichols of The Nation. I continue to find the image of raising a red flag at Iwo Jima extremely puzzling.

The Seaport World Trade Center
(What says “conference center” better than a lonely faux ficus tree?)

Lawrence Lessig
Law professor and political activist, Lawrence Lessig, has a unique presentation style, and with a little help from Sony Bono, David Byrne, and Mickey Mouse, he keeps the audience riveted.
Yes, he was preaching to the choir, but there really is no overstating the distorting effect of big money on the legislative process.

You can watch his presentation here.

Amy Goodman, who has been at every NCMR, broadcast ‘Democracy Now’ live from the conference. She is a passionate crusader for independent media, which she defines very clearly as:
Media that’s not brought to us by the weapons manufacturers when we deal with war, not brought to us by insurance companies and big pharma when we cover the health care debate, not brought to us by the oil, gas, coal, or nuclear industries when we’re dealing with global warming.

I liked the way Malkia Cyril, of the Center for Media Justice, framed what’s at stake:
This is about who gets to tell the story of how we live and how we die. And I submit to you, that the revolution will be televised, the only question is by who-- AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, or you?

Some sites to visit
Free Press
Common Cause
Think Progress
Global Post
Global Voices
Color of Change
Naked Capitalism
Personal Democracy Forum

(By the way, SourceWatch has a serious logo problem.)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Passover vs. Easter

The soup photo, above, left, was sent to me by Terry Rosen. Her title, 'Kneidleachness Monster,' made me not even care that it's really a matzo ball snowman. Besides, it's creepy enough to pass for a monster. (Photo by Joyce Lapinsky Lewis)

'Peepzilla' was posted here by Stacy Hay.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ads From a Simpler LIFE

"It’s only 31 miles from New York City and
is a very pleasant drive."
This gracious invitation from Con Edison to come and view the Indian Point nuclear facility, was one of two ads for nuke plants that ran in the June 16, 1967 issue of Life.

Westinghouse, who built the reactor for Connecticut Yankee, the plant at Haddam Neck, also advertised in that issue. CY was shut permanently in 1996 and has since been decommissioned.
"The plant will be a welcome neighbor—as clean and quiet
as any good neighbor could be."

"… made with Monsanto ingredients that just refuse
to go wrong—no matter who stirs them up."
A Monsanto ad in the same issue.

"We may be the only phone company in town, but we
try not to act like it."
This AT&T ad encouraged home shopping and reassured us as to just how benevolent a monopoly it was.

“Born loser” is a term we don’t hear much these days. Sure, we have high unemployment, but we’ve got high self-esteem to match. We’re all winners these days, as our kids’ shelves of meaningless trophies, prove. The only losers we tolerate now are weight losers.

One of four cigarette ads in the issue.

Remember Polaroid? This simple ad really looked great running inside the front cover.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Illustrated Exodus

I’ve tracked down a version of the very traditional Haggadah I remember from my youth, first published by Shulsinger Brothers in 1950. The illustrations by Austrian-born artist Siegmund Forst, depict in realistic detail, scenes of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt and various other characters and stories from the Haggadah. When I was a kid, I would pore over these illustrations during the lengthy recitation of the text. I considered them very instructive and I was not bothered in the least by how sentimental they were. I was fascinated that they showed me how it really looked when Egyptian soldiers were swallowed by the Red Sea, and exactly what the Angel of Death looked like (a skeleton with wings and a scythe). It also served as a handy guide to stereotyping men by their appearance.

The Haggadah actually acknowledges that not all children are exactly the same. “The Four Sons” represent four types of children and outlines how to discuss the exodus from Egypt with each type.

Upper right, the wise son (looks a lot like Moses!); upper left, the wicked son; bottom right, the simple son: bottom left, the son who doesn’t even know how to ask a question.

Scenes of the Jews in Egypt: Above, building pyramids. Below, Pharaoh's daughter discovers Moses in his basket in the reeds.

This illustration goes with a “cumulative” type of folk song that’s been around for a few hundred years called Chad Gadya. It’s ostensibly a lively song for children about the fate of a boy’s goat, which his father bought for him. The song describes successive acts of violence that go all the way up the food chain from animals, to man, to the Angel of Death, to God.

Chad Gadya, however, is not merely a simple child’s song. There have been many interpretations of it. Here is what Elie Wiesel has to say about it.
And here we are, concluding the seder with Chad Gadya, a beautiful song, which is not just about a father who buys a goat for his child. It's a song about God's creatures destroying each other. It may be a puzzling way to end the joyous meal but one that is fraught with meaning.

The song of Chad Gadya reminds us that in Jewish history, all creatures, all animals, all events are connected. The goat and the cat, the fire and the water, the slaughterer and the redeemer, they are all part of the story.

And surely it has to be symbolic, for how can a cat eat a goat in the first place?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The (Low) Power and The Glory

Media reform advocate, Pete Tridish (aka Petrie Dish), of Prometheus Radio Project, sartorially celebrates a hard won victory for community radio. The decade-long struggle for access to the low-power frequencies of the airwaves finally resolved with passage by Congress of the Local Community Radio Act, which was signed into law by President Obama early this year.

Ten years of curtailed access to the low-power FM spectrum had been based on claims by the powerful National Association of Broadcasters that LPFM broadcasting would interfere with their signal. A congressionally-ordered study later found those claims to be without merit. The repeal of these restrictions, opening the airwaves for hundreds of new community stations, will be felt especially in urban markets where the ban had its greatest impact.

Celebrating passage of the Local Community Radio Act was one of the inspirational high points of last weekend’s National Conference for Media Reform in Boston. This gathering of some 2,500 activists, journalists and scholars, organized by Free Press, covered a wide range of media reform issues.

As they say in LPFM circles, “Low Power to the People!”

Photos by Michael Scurato
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