Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.

Archive for December 17, 2013

Rip, 1941. Rip was a search and rescue dog who found one hundred victims of air raids in London between 1940 and 1941. He received the Dickin Medal for bravery in 1945.


I like doggies, I wish I could hug them all.

Horatio Gordon Robley posing with his collection of mokomokai, the preserved heads of Māori with facial tattoos, 1895.


Major General Horatio Gordon Robley with his collection of Mokomokai tattooed heads. Mokomokai are the preserved heads of Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, where the faces have been decorated by tā moko tattooing. They became valuable trade items during the Musket Wars of the early 19th century.

I don’t think the objectification of women is actually an accurate reflection of women’s sexuality, this is the problem. I feel like this manifestation is a gross exaggeration of men’s sexuality.

I do not think that the objectification of women is an accurate reflection of women’s sexuality, it’s a gross and inaccurate exaggeration of men’s sexuality. I think that it’s male bias that is causing this form of sexuality to be seen as our only option. Women are pretty much only allowed to display sexuality, when they’re behaving passively and submissively, paying more mind to mens’ desires than their own. We expect sexualized images of women to be highlighting women’s youth and naivety. If women are not young or naive, they’re often expected to behave as if they are, and if they can’t “pass”, they’re desexualized completely. Instances where women objectify men or express appreciation for mens’ bodies, for example, are seen as shocking, bold and out of the ordinary. They aren’t expected to ever be lustful, sexually forward or aggressive. Media that displays men in passive, sexually submissive positions is often assumed to be marketed toward gay men, rather than straight women. I think that if women were writing the songs and the music videos more often, we would see them behaving passively, acting as sex objects, fetishizing violence against women much less often. It’s true that women conform to norms and perpetuate these things to a certain degree too, but by nature of capitalism and the pressures of the market, women are forced to conform to male preferences in order to keep their head above water. In a society where women were just as likely to write a song as men were and were just as respected for it, they wouldn’t have to stick to our current “male-approved” topics. We’d see a wider variety of material coming out.

There is a huge difference between the way sexuality is treated in the music of Ani Difranco, Tori Amos and Fiona Apple, who cater to a largely educated female audience, and the way it’s treated in the music of Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift, who cater to a mainstream “male-dominated” audience. Difranco, Amos and Apple are not prudes. They often sing love songs, songs about sexual desire, raw, emotional break up songs and raunchy odes with detailed descriptions of their partners’ bodies that would make you blush. Check out Fiona Apple’s Hot Knife, or Slow like Honey, or Limp, orPeriphery.

These songs are not that different content-wise from the Rihanna’s bedroom slow jams or Taylor Swift’s “He done me wrong” tunes. But there’s something distinct about them. In the Rihanna and Taylor Swift examples, I get the impression that their sentiments have been filtered and censored to be more palatable to men. In Cyrus’s “wrecking ball”, she’s saying she came in like a wrecking ball, but her body language in the video is the complete opposite of that. She’s laying completely submissively on top of the wrecking ball. She’s allowing the wrecking ball to completely control her. The video isn’t about Miley Cyrus’s experience with the person she’s singing about, it’s about the audience’s relationship with and sexual attraction to Miley Cyrus. Her actual voice is completely secondary.Taylor Swift always expresses anger within these strict confines, she needs to be a certain amount of “feminine” when she’s expressing anger at men. She can’t betoo loud or too violent or too weird or too crazy and emotional. She still has to be pretty, she still has to be pining for the guy on some level. In Fiona Apple’s songs, she talks about sex and having crushes and going through breakups, but it’s her pure voice that’s telling the story. It’s not sugar-coated to be more main-stream. It’s not feeding into an exaggerated corporate driven male fantasy.

They also don’t shy away from the aspects of sex that women have to deal with, that make men uncomfortable to hear. Ani Difranco’s Out of Range and Out of Habit use very graphic, explicit imagery to convey her experiences with men as a musician, and her experiences with the cyclical nature of domestic violence. Tori Amos famously talks about surviving rape, in me and a gun.

I think by virtue of allowing women to be in top, respected positions in mass media, by giving them more of a direct role in the creation of these structures, rather than allowing them to make choices within structures where men still make all the rules, we would break some of this cycle, by expand the material we display and consider to be acceptable, giving people a lot more options and consequentially reducing the amount of “peer pressure” that people face now in regard to objectification.

The Kroll Opera House in Berlin on April 28, 1939. Hitler makes keynote address answering Roosevelt’s appeal to avoid war.

I play a little game, a variant of “where’s Waldo”, with pictures like this.
The challenge is to try and figure out everyone in the photo who will be dead or in jail by 1946. It’s quite gratifying.

Hitler’s speech that day was a response to a letter sent by Roosevelt to get Hitler’s assurances that it would not attack other countries. You can read it here.

Roosevelt asked for Hitler to give assurances that he would not invade a number of specific countries, mostly British possessions and European neighbors, most of which became involved in the war anyway. Hitler’s view of peace seemed to be between the major powers, and that Germany should be entitled to expand into Poland and Czechoslovakia if it wanted to. He was telling Britain, France, the US and Russia to stay out of Germany’s area so that he could continue his ambitions. This is not at all what those other countries, especially Poland wanted.

In my understanding this letter came at a time when the world had already geared up for war. Although it hadn’t been declared yet, all the major powers were building up their stockpiles and constructing more and more weapons, like bombers. Even the US, which wouldn’t join the war for another 2 years was already preparing for it.

There were a few warning signs that that just got ignored. One that I think should not be forgotten is that most Western countries did not raise their immigration quotas and allow more Jewish refugees to enter their countries until late in the war. Anti-semitism and fear over immigration in general led to refugees being rejected until public opinion turned around 1944. Even though their was ample evidence of violence and discrimination, the US and Britain still refused to increase their quotas. It saddens me to think about the lives that could have been spared by a bit of bureaucratic empathy.

It is possibly the greatest tragedy of human history that the Second World War happened with so much warning, yet nothing was done to truly stop it.

(Here’s some of the speech, with subtitles.)

Surreal illustrations by Karl Nicholason for Communications Research Machines textbooks in the early 1970’s


Illustration by Karl Nicholason. From Developmental Psychology Today, 1971.Figure 20.8: “The adolescent may show a calm exterior, which often hides a raging inner turmoil.”

Illustration by Karl Nicholason. From Society Today, 1971.From Chapter 22: Religion as a social institution

Illustration by Karl Nicholason. From Abnormal Psychology Today, 1972.Fig. 5.8: One important aim of existential psychotherapy is to help the person assume responsibility for his own actions, because only through accepting responsibility can the client create meaning in his own life. Different existential therapists, however, may use totally different approaches; the label “existential” represents a viewpoint, not a method. Frankl, for example, has developed the techniques of paradoxical intention and de-reflection, which he uses to help a client deal with neurotic disturbances. These methods, which are described in the chapter, help the individual to “control his own chess board” rather than being one of the pawns.

Illustration by Karl Nicholason. From Psychology Today, 1970.Illustrates the section “Agression Directed Inward”

Illustration by Karl Nicholason. From Developmental Psychology Today, 1971.“Figure 23.9: The revolutionary versus the patient.”

Illustration by Karl Nicholason. From Abnormal Psychology Today, 1972.Section on personality disorders: “explosive” (top), “antisocial” (right), “obsessive-compulsive” (bottom), “explosive” (left)

Illustration by Karl Nicholason. From Abnormal Psychology Today, 1972.Section on personality disorders: “paranoid” (top), “schizoid” (right), “cyclothymic” (bottom), “asthenic” (left)

Illustration by Karl Nicholason. From Abnormal Psychology Today, 1972.Section on personality disorders: “hysterical” (left), “cyclothymic” (right)

Illustration by Karl Nicholason. From Psychology Today, 1970.Illustrates the section on homosexuality

Illustration by Karl Nicholason. From Society Today, 1971.From Chapter 12: The world of work


Eyes of Hate: Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt, 1933 of Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels


At a League of Nations conference in 1933, Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels remains seated while speaking to his interpreter. German-born Alfred Eisenstaedt, later one of the founding photographers of LIFE, recalled that Goebbels smiled at him until he learned that Eisenstaedt was Jewish — a moment Eisenstaedt captured in this photo. Suddenly, “he looked at me with hateful eyes and waited for me to wither,” the photographer recalled. “But I didn’t wither.” Not only didn’t he wither, he managed to take perhaps the most chilling portrait of pure evil to run in LIFE’s pages.

From the 1985 book, ‘Eisenstaedt on Eisenstaedt: A Self-Portrait

In 1933, I traveled to Lausanne and Geneva for the fifteenth session of the League of Nations. There, sitting in the hotel garden, was Dr. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s minister of propaganda. He smiles, but not at me. He was looking at someone to my left. . . . Suddenly he spotted me and I snapped him. His expression changed. Here are the eyes of hate. Was I an enemy? Behind him is his private secretary, Walter Naumann, with the goatee, and Hitler’s interpreter, Dr. Paul Schmidt. . . . I have been asked how I felt photographing these men. Naturally, not so good, but when I have a camera in my hand I know no fear.

A woman hitting a Neo-Nazi with her handbag, Sweden, 1985. The woman was reportedly a concentration camp survivor.


I love the mouth agape look of disbelief on the guy’s face in the back right. 

The photo was taken at a provocative demonstration by ten Neo-Nazis at the corner of Norrgatan-Kronobergsgatan in Växjö (very close to another demonstration by the communist party). The Nazis were attacked by the public and chased to the Växjö train station where they locked themselves in the bathroom – and had to be rescued by police.

his is a news segment on Swedish television of the event. (Skip to 0:37)

The Lion in Winter (1968)


This is one of my favorite movies. It is based on a Broadway play, so it is largely acted out in that style. In short, it is almost completely dialogue. Political intrigue is the name of the game, not chase sequences or steamy love scenes. As such, it takes a bit of understanding to really follow the plot.

The play is set during Christmas 1183 at the castle of Chinon, in Anjou. King Henry II is ruler of England and half of France during the period of the mighty Angevin Empire. He is played in the movie by Peter O’Toole, who truly gives a masterful performance.

Henry is married to Eleanor of Aquitaine, one of my favorite historical figures and during this time the wealthiest woman in all of Europe. She was heir to the great Duchy of Aquitaine in southwest France. At the age of fifteen she was married to Louis VII, son of King Louis VI. The marriage produced several daughters, but no sons, and the marriage was eventually annulled after 15 years. she immediately re-married, this time to Henry, who at the time was known as HenryPlantagenet, Count of Anjou and Duke of Normandy. Henry was engaged in a long-running war over the succession to the crown of England, known as the Anarchy (1135-1153) where King Stephen fought a civil war against Empress Matilda. The war ended in a stalemate with Stephen still holding the crown, but upon his death Matilda’s son, Henry Plantagenet, was to take the thone as Henry II.

The story is primarily about who will succeed to Henry’s throne. Henry and Eleanor have many children, including 4 sons:

Henry the Young King – firstborn and heir, Henry the Young King dies at age 28 in June of 1183, the very summer before the Christmas Court at Chinon when the movie takes place. His death is what throws the Kingdom into confusion as Henry must now choose a new heir from among his other sons.

Richard – the second-oldest, Richard was a born warrior and strong leader, but fought often with his father, and the two would come to open warfare several times before Henry’s death. Richard is played by Anthony Hopkins in HIS FIRST MOVIE ROLE EVER!

Geoffrey – the “forgotten” son, Geoffrey was made Duke of Brittany, but he was never seriously considered for succession, a fact he openly resents.

John – the youngest and Henry’s favorite, was a relatively inept and cruel man who eventually succeeded to the throne after Richard’s death. Within several years he had lost all of his father’s continental territories. The great Angevin empire ended with John’s reign, and his nickname, “Lackland” is a reflection of this. In the movie he is a sniveling young brat, and it is this characterization that has stuck with me whenever I picture what King John must have been like.

Henry and his sons have a rough relationship, and their early history is a repeated cycle of betrayal and secret alliances that pit the brothers and their father against each other in minor wars. Eleanor is an active participant in these affairs, usually by giving diplomatic and financial aid to her favorite son, Richard. Henry resents his wife’s meddling, and so he locks her up in various castles througout England. The Kings of France also play a role in these conflicts, as Richard found a strong early ally in the young Philip, son of King Louis VII. The close relationship between these two is a subject of great historical scrutiny, and many accusations of illicit sexual rendevous between the two have been made. The movie brings this subplot to a dramatic head at a later point in the movie…

By the Christmas Court at Chinon in 1183, Philip II is now King of France, and is a brilliant and cunning man, played with convincing passion by a young Timothy Dalton. He is also invited to the Christmas Court at Chinon, allegedly to resolve a diplomatic situation concerning his half-sister Alais, who had been previously engaged to Henry the Young King before his death, but had now become Henry II’s mistress. Philip now wants either to marry her to another of Henry’s sons, or he wants the dowry money back. Henry wants neither. He wants to keep Alais to himself so he can maintain control over the County of Vexin, a militarily strategic possession on the borders between Angevin and French lands.

The rest of the movie revolves around these various dramatic plots. The costumes and scenery are fantastic, and the acting is top notch. Peter O’Toole gives one of his best performances and Katharine Hepburn gives a satisfying fiery strength to Queen Eleanor. Anthony Hopkins pops his movie cherry in a stellar performance, and Timothy Dalton appears the master of intrigue and backstabbery.

In all, it is an amazing film, and for anyone who enjoys the medival period, or any of these famous actors, it is a MUST see!



A newly married couple leaves the church under a ceremonial arch of Lewis light machine guns, April 1918 [

If you look in the pic you can actually see a shell casing falling. Definitely firing.

If you look in the pic you can actually see a shell casing falling. Definitely firing.

(I always imagined that the bullets for the Lewis gun would look like this.)