Category Archives: Europe

The Man With The Movie Camera (1929)

Frequently included in top ten lists of greatest films of all-time. Directed by Soviet director Dziga Vertov, the film is famous for its range of cinematic techniques — double exposure, fast motion, slow motion, freeze frames, jump cuts, split screens, close-ups, tracking shots, footage played backwards, stop motion animations — many of which appear here first. In 2014 Sight and Sound named it the top documentary film ever made. Watch it here:

Hello Michelangelo- Your Conference Call ID# is MDXII

800px-Michelango_Portrait_by_VolterraMichelangelo, master creator of great works of art like the Pietà and David and the Sistine Chapel, was also apparently far ahead of the curve when it came to telecommuting. Here’s how he put it, in a letter to his boss, Pope Julius II, making his case for the privilege of working from home:

“Now you write to me on the pope’s behalf, so you can read the pope this: let His Holiness understand that I am more willing than ever to carry on with the work; and if he wants the tomb come what may, he shouldn’t be bothered about where I work on it, provided that, at the end of the five years we agreed on, it is set up in St Peter’s, wherever he likes; and that it is something beautiful, as I have promised it will be: for I’m sure that if it’s completed, there will be nothing like it in the world.

“I have many marbles on order in Carrara which I shall have brought here along with those I have in Rome. Even if it meant a serious loss to me, I shouldn’t mind so long as I could do the work here; and I would forward the finished pieces one by one so that His Holiness would enjoy them just as much as if I were working in Rome — or even more, because he would just see the finished pieces without having any other bother. ”

The folks at Forbes Magazine announced in 2014 that “telecommuting is the future of work.” Little did they know that Michelangelo had beaten them to the punch by over a half millennium!

Source:

Selected Poems and Letters
by Michelangelo (Author), Anthony Mortimer (Editor, Translator, Introduction)  (Penguin Classics) Paperback – December 18, 2007

Portrait of Michelangelo by Daniele da Volterra

NY Times Missing Headlines of the Week

imagesWhat is not there is frequently more important than what is….

 

Missing: $45 Billion In Tax Dollars Goes Missing in Afghanistan

Interestingly, one headline that did not appear anywhere in the NY Times this week as far as I can tell concerned the issuance of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction’s (SIGAR) top-level analysis of Department of Defense (DoD) reconstruction spending in Afghanistan. It turns out that of the $104 billion US taxpayer dollars appropriated for Afghan reconstruction between 2002 and 2014 (more than we laid out for the Marshall Plan adjusted for inflation), $66 billion went to the Department of Defense. And surprise– they can’t, or won’t, account for $45 billion of it! To make matters worse, the military has decided they don’t want to be bothered anymore with the meddling inconvenience of oversight, so they have decided to classify the bulk of the data. On what grounds? well because it gives aid and comfort to enemy of course. So kiss any hope of knowing where our $45 billion went goodbye. Not to mention the $500 million in weapons that have gone missing in Yemen reported this week in the Wash Post.

$45 Billion in Tax Dollars Goes Missing in Afghanistan

Watchdog Scrutinizes Pentagon Spending in Afghanistan

$100 Billion In Aid Squandered in Afghanistan

Misleading Headline of the Week

Putin_in_Su-27-1

Poles Steel for Battle, Fearing Russia Will March on Them Next

Front Page NY Times. Sunday March 15,2015.

What, the Polish Army has been put on high alert and troops are moving toward the borders to make a stand?

Uh…No. It turns out upon reading the article that the story is about 30 recruits, some younger than twenty years old, some war re-enactors, who have joined a paramilitary group called the Shooters Association to drill, ostensibly to defend the country against an impending Russian invasion. To make his point about the all-consuming fear that supposedly has gripped the nation, Times reporter Rick Lyman offers the following first-hand accounts:

“Thirty students took an oath to defend Poland at all costs, joining nearly 200 other regional members of the association — young men and women, boys and girls — marching in formation around the perimeter of the dusty high school courtyard here.”

“One of those who took the oath in Kalisz was Bartosz Walesiak, 16, who said he had been interested in the military since playing with toy soldiers as a little boy, but had been motivated to join the Shooters Association after Russia moved into Crimea.

“I think that Putin will want more,” he said. “Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia are already getting ready for such a scenario, so Poland must do the same.”

Later in the article, a Polish General claims that there may be 80,000 such paramilitary-style drillers currently operating in Poland. But then of course he was forced to acknowledge that “this was just a guess. “

Amazingly Lyman outdoes himself by ending the piece with another substantial interview to help bolster his case:

“The youngest of the cadets, Grzegorz Zurek, 11, was having trouble keeping up, but he was stubbornly determined. As they arrived on the far side of the field, the cadets turned to cheer Grzegorz along.

“I think it is highly probable that Putin will do something against Poland,” Grzegorz later said. “I know from history that Russia has always been a totalitarian state. Now it is trying to regain the territory it lost at the end of the Cold War. Should it invade Poland,” he said, “I would not hesitate a second to fight against them.”

Wow! Embarrassing.

But the exercise serves its purpose nonetheless. Those who only read the headlines will come away with a much different impression. One that lends itself to reinforcing the notion that we are on the verge of all-out war at all times (and hence must continue to massively fund our military defense capabilities of course).

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