Sunday Reads: Faults, Fashions and FailuresPosted: December 8, 2013
I hope that those of you trapped beneath the ice and snow, are safe and doing fine. Some of the pictures out of Texas are amazing. I have a house full of munchkins as I write this post (Saturday night) and it is wonderful to hear laughter from my daughter’s room.
So, with that in mind, here is your post for this cold December morning. (Written by a distracted mum, so mind the awkwardness.)
By the way, all the illustrations are by René Gruau (February 4, 1909 – March 31, 2004)
…a renowned fashion illustrator whose exaggerated portrayal of fashion design through painting has had a lasting effect on the fashion industry . Because of Gruau’s inherent skills and creativity, contributed to a change in the entire fashion industry through the new pictures that represented the already popular designs created by designers in the industry. The benefits, including economic stimulation and enhancement of advertising are still vividly presented in the industry today via a new way of fashion illustration, fashion photography. Gruau became one of the best known and favorite artists of the haute couture world during the 1940s and 50s working with Femina, Marie-Claire, L’Officiel, L’Album Du Figaro and an assortment of “high-style” magazines. Gruau’s artwork is recognized and commended internationally in some of Paris and Italy’s most prestigious art museums including the Louvre in Paris and the blank in Italy. in addition to his international fame and recognition, “Gruau’s artwork is known for its timeless and enduring style”.
You can find many more of these beautiful fashion illustrations here: RENE GRUAU
I will have more fashion links later in the post, now let’s get to some “newsy” links.
There is some disturbing policy news out of Japan, Japan’s controversial new state secrets law condemned as ‘the largest ever threat to democracy in postwar Japan’ by Nobel academics | The Raw Story
Japan’s controversial new state secrets law was condemned Saturday as “the largest ever threat to democracy in postwar Japan” by a group of academics, including two Nobel prize winners, reports said.
On Friday Japan’s parliament adopted a new law handing out stiffer penalties for those who spill state secrets, despite a public outcry over fears the legislation was draconian and would impinge on press freedom and the public’s right to know.
In a strongly worded attack on the new law, a group of 31 academics, including Nobel Prize winners Toshihide Maskawa and Hideki Shirakawa, accused the Japanese government of threatening “the fundamental human rights and pacifist principles” established by the country’s constitution.
The controversial bill, proposed by the right-wing government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was approved by the Senate on Friday evening, a few days after it was passed in the lower house.
The Senate vote in favour was expected as the coalition government led by Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) holds a majority of seats there.
The opposition raised motions to stop the law but each move was rejected by the LDP members and their allies.
The scholars’ statement — which Kyodo said was also endorsed by a further 3,150 academics — condemned the country’s ruling bloc of behaving in a way that was “reminiscent of the prewar government that wrested away freedom of thought and freedom of the press” by pushing the law through both Japan’s legislative chambers.
Shirakawa was awarded the Nobel prize for chemistry in 2000 while Maskawa won the prestigious award for physics in 2008. The Kyodo report did not name any of the other academics who signed the statement.
The law allows government ministers to designate as a state secret information related to defence, diplomacy, counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism.
Abe has argued that the measure is necessary to plug a notoriously leaky government machine, which prevents its chief ally the United States from sharing intelligence.
But critics say the categories are so vague that almost anything could fit the definition. They worry that information that is embarrassing to governing politicians or to their patrons could easily be hidden from public view.
They point to the way that Tokyo withheld news of the severity of the nuclear disaster at Fukushima in 2011, and say a state that already operates largely behind closed doors will become even more secretive.
That problem is exacerbated by a relatively weak institutional press.
Oh yeah, weak press? Hmmm, that does sound familiar. But ours is weak because of who “sponsors” it…
Those convicted of leaking “state secrets” could get long prison terms, up to ten years…and anyone encouraging someone to spill the beans…they could get up to five years in prison, the language so vague….it may even include journalist and lawyers.
And talking about Japan: Largest Fault Slip Ever Recorded Generated Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami
The magnitude 9.0 earthquake that unleashed the devastating 2011 tsunami in Japan was triggered by the largest fault slip ever recorded, the journal Science reported Thursday.
By measuring the frictional heat produced by the fault slip during the earthquake, researchers from the University of California, Santa Cruz and other organizations found that friction along the Tohoku fault was remarkably low when the earthquake struck on March 11, 2011.
“The Tohoku fault is more slippery than anyone expected,” said Emily Brodsky, a geophysicist at UC Santa Cruz. Brodsky acted as co-author for three papers on the Tohoku earthquake published in the journal Science this week.
The scientist say the fault is slippery as a banana peel.
Researcher Patrick Fulton, first author of the paper focusing on temperature measurements, concurred.
“The large slip at shallow depths contributed to the tsunami that caused so much damage in Japan. Usually, these earthquakes don’t rupture all the way to the surface,” he said.
Fulton said that the low resistance to slip along the Tohoku fault can help explain the staggering 165-foot displacement, or movement, that occurred to the seafloor during the earthquake. That low friction, he said, was exacerbated by an abundance of weak, slippery clay material in the fault zone.
Read more at the link…it is an interesting read.
Back at home, this little tidbit of news due to an asshole out of California: Global Hawk Air Force Budget Cuts – Business Insider
A $114 million contract to build three more Global Hawk high-altitude unmanned surveillance aircraft was announced back in September, despite the Air Force not even wanting them.
Facing budget cuts and wanting to save some cash (about $2.5 billion over five years), the Air Force was planning to stop buying the pricey — and rather unreliable — drones and mothball the remainder of the fleet in favor of the battle-tested and accomplished U2 spy plane.
“The Block 30 [Global Hawk aircraft] is not operationally effective,” the Pentagon’s top testing official had declared in a blunt May 2011 report, according to The Center for Public Integrity.
But the Pentagon was no match for forces on Capitol Hill, as an article written by W.J. Hennigan in the Los Angeles Times points out:
“Northrop responded sharply, saying the U-2 “places pilots in danger, has limited flight duration and provides limited sensor capacity.”
In the end, the Air Force didn’t win that skirmish. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Santa Clarita), whose congressional district includes Palmdale, jumped in to rescue the project. Congress restored the funding, and last month Northrop received a $114-million contract to build three more drones, saving thousands of jobs.”
Go and read all the money that was put into military programs the military did not want. And then…read this op/ed from the LA Times: The saddest Christmas wish lists ever
I was standing in line at the post office when a sign caught my eye: “Operation Santa 2013.” According to the poster, “answering letters to Santa has been a holiday custom for over 100 years.” Those who wanted to participate could choose one of the many letters to Santa received by the post office and write back as Santa, sending the gift requested.
How cute, I thought. Kids request presents from “Santa” and they actually arrive.
I remember walking to the mailbox with my own letters to Santa as a child. One of my mother’s favorite Christmas stories was how, when I was 4, I mistakenly threw my peanut butter sandwich into the mailbox instead of my letter. Santa brought me a whole jar of peanut butter that year.
I couldn’t wait until my kids were old enough to write letters to Santa. Now they are too old for Santa Claus and I miss him, so Operation Santa seemed perfect for me.
Bright and early on Dec. 3, the first day the program got underway, I drove to the main Los Angeles post office at Gage and Central to choose my letter. I walked into a large, decorated room where Cleo, the “elf in charge,” was waiting. I expected letters full of misspelled words and little-kid grammar, asking for Legos and Barbies, skateboards and My Little Pony. I knew there’d be those who asked for phones or IPads or Xboxes, or other things out of my price range, but I figured I could find some little boy who still wanted a fire engine.
What I found were pleas from parents. A mother out of work said her family would eat, but there wouldn’t be any presents. A dad wrote that his kids needed school supplies. Parents with two kids, three kids, maybe more, were hoping for help with what they couldn’t provide. A dad just out of prison wanted to make Christmas special for the kids he hadn’t seen for so long. A disabled grandmother asked for a church dress for her granddaughter.
I was overwhelmed. Many of the letters — even the ones from kids — asked for groceries and shoes, clothing and shampoo. One child wrote: “Please bring my mommy some food. She’s been good this year.”
The rest is heartbreaking….especially for me, because my good friend Jessica is one of those mommas who is having a difficult time this year getting a few gifts for her two boys. Seeing her on Facebook looking for “barter or trade” items makes me so sad.
Elf Cleo sat beside me at the table checking in a new batch of letters. She told me 90% of the Santa requests sent to the post office never get answered. Many are written at homeless shelters and city food banks and after-school programs. (I found one letter in which a young teenager asked for gifts for the shelter workers.) Cleo said that every once in a while a family’s gift comes back unopened, marked address unknown. She wonders: Have they moved into a shelter? A car? Onto the street?
I read a lot of letters, and I felt worse and worse. I didn’t know how to choose. The single dad who needed diapers? The 17-year-old asking for a backpack for her little sister? I believe in holiday magic, but there just didn’t seem to be enough of it to go around.
After you read the rest of that op/ed, take a look at this: What If Your Income Grew As Fast As the 1 Percent’s? Try Our Calculator | Mother Jones
The richest 1 percent of Americans have seen their average income jump more than 270 percent over the past five decades. Meanwhile, the average income of the least wealthy 90 percent of Americans grew an anemic 22 percent during that time. (Those figures are based on inflation-adjusted real dollars.)
So how much would you be earning today if the phenomenal income growth at the very top of the income scale had trickled down to most Americans? Use this calculator to find out.
All you crime newsy people will eat up this next juicy link: Why Couldn’t Worst Crime Lab Employee Get Fired? — Daily Intelligencer
That’s the question an exhaustive new report on a particularly incompetent lab worker at the office of New York’s medical examiner. Over two years, the office has been looking into how she mislabeled evidence (mixing up suspect and victim’s names), ignored or missed DNA samples, failed to test evidence, and couldn’t understand basic concepts for testimony. But even though her supervisors knew about “myriad failures,” they didn’t fire her. The only news in this story that instills confidence in the city’s forensics lab: She left on her own in 2011.
Which is connected to a New York Times story here: The City Is Not Handling Its DNA Evidence Too Well
Alright, now for the fashion links. Orchid…that is the new hot color for 2014! Actually it is officially called “Radiant Orchid” but that link goes to an AP article so you will need to read about the “creativity” of the color purple on your own.
Well, for me…talking creativity in fashion? How about iconic? Marilyn Monroe’s Magician–the One and Only Travilla | GlamAmor
Whenever I want to illustrate the power of costume design, the person I always turn to is the legendary William (“Billy”) Travilla. I can usually convince any crowd with two simple words: Marilyn Monroe. As of 1952, Travilla was responsible for her fashion on film, which included iconic work in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), and The Seven Year Itch (1955). He designed for her offscreen as well. In short, as the world continues to obsess over the style of Marilyn Monroe, we are all also celebrating the talent of Travilla.
Though perhaps best known for his work in the 1950s, his career stretched from film in the 1940s to television of the 1980s where he helped shape the style of the decade in shows such as Dallas and KnotsLanding. As a result, there is a nearly endless list of celebrities who absolutely adored him. Barbara Stanwyck, Lana Turner, Ava Gardner, Lauren Bacall, Loretta Young, Ann-Margret, Faye Dunaway, Debbie Reynolds, Joanne Woodward, Mitzi Gaynor, Diahann Carrol, Sharon Tate…this is only the beginning. As biographer and Travilla Foundation founder Kimberley Ashley observes, “Many celebrities of the golden era of Hollywood depended upon the Travilla touch for their career success. He touched their lives with his silver screen alchemy.”
Oooo, love that quote, those last three words drip with perfect illusion. Just go to GlamAmor blog and read the rest. Enjoy it!
Then take a look at this: 17 Times The Fashion Was The Best Part Of The Movie
Forget the plot — some movies are best remembered for the costumes.
At least, that’s how we feel. We appreciate a well-directed film with good cinematography as much as the next film buffs, but some movies capture a style era so perfectly, we can’t help but leave inspired to emulate the characters. Below, we’ve rounded the films with fashion we’ll never forget… even if we can’t remember anything else about them.
And what is fashion without scent? A Whiff on the Wild Side: Confessions of a Vintage Perfume Addict That is an excerpt of a book on perfumes, it even has some of the reviews of old vintage scents. Scent and Subversion: Decoding a Century of Provocative Perfume: Barbara Herman
Another book link for you, this time a discussion of an anthology: Why Writers Love New York City (and Then Leave It) – Marie-Helene Westgate – The Atlantic
In the new anthology Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York, contributors share the experience of moving to New York in pursuit of the writing life. In essay after essay, writers describe their experiences moving to New York from Long Island, New Jersey, California, and overseas. Anyone from anywhere can come to New York City in pursuit of fame, riches, and romance, and as a result, Goodbye to All That captures New York’s uniquely nuanced, overlapping landscape of cultures and geographies that for millions feels at once deeply personal and communal.
But while something deeper also reveals itself in the pages: Some thread of pure accident runs through the story of each writer’s dream of making it in the big city.
After you read that interview piece, if the book seems interesting, find it here: Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York: Sari Botton
Did you know that the Neanderthals used to decorate their caves? Well, not in the way we do…but: New evidence suggests Neanderthals organized their living spaces
Scientists have found that Neanderthals organized their living spaces in ways that would be familiar to modern humans, a discovery that once again shows similarities between these two close cousins.
The findings, published in the latest edition of the Canadian Journal of Archaeology, indicate that Neanderthals butchered animals, made tools and gathered round the fire in different parts of their shelters.
“There has been this idea that Neanderthals did not have an organized use of space, something that has always been attributed to humans,” said Julien Riel-Salvatore, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Colorado Denver and lead author of the study. “But we found that Neanderthals did not just throw their stuff everywhere but in fact were organized and purposeful when it came to domestic space.”
And if that does not make you think twice about things and mans place in the animal kingdom, maybe this will: Honeybees Can Recognize Individual Human Faces: Scientific American
The ability to tell individual faces apart was long thought to be exclusive to large-brained mammals. But in recent years a number of studies have shown that, in fact, some wasps can facially recognize one another. And honeybees can learn human faces, too. In their article in the December issue of Scientific American, biologists Elizabeth Tibbetts of the University of Michigan and Adrian Dyer of RMIT University in Melbourne describe these findings and what they reveal about the neural requirements for seemingly complex cognitive tasks.
Shit. They can learn human faces? Damn, does that mean that the military could train honeybees to become assassins? Think about it. Mercenary “Killer Bees” that are trained to go after a specific target’s face. Hey, that would make a great Roland Emmerich movie eh?
The last link for you today is a follow-up on a story from long ago. How An Abused Lion, Tiger And Bear Became An Unlikely Family (PHOTOS)
Baloo the bear, Leo the lion, and Shere Khan the tiger (all three known as BLT) were brought together as 2-month-old cubs and have grown up as a family.
The trio was originally owned by a drug dealer who didn’t properly care for them, leading to neglect, poor health and severe injuries.
In 2001, Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary, a nonprofit that cares for animals in need, came to the rescue, and took them to Locust Grove, Georgia, where they were treated for injuries.
“We could have separated them,” Diane Smith, assistant director of the Noah’s Ark Zoo told the Telegraph. “But since they came as a kind of family, the zoo decided to keep them together.”
I wrote about these three buddies when I started blogging for Sky Dancing years ago. Well, it turns out the fence around their little home need some improvements.
…the government passed new federal regulations requiring big cat enclosures to have 16 foot fences put up, which would take effect in October of this year. Baloo, Leo and Shere Khan’s fence was only 8 feet high. If these regulations weren’t met, the three animals would have to split up.
Rebuilding the fence would cost $489,000.
With October slowly approaching, The Sanctuary entered a contest to help raise money. On August 15, CrowdRise, an online fundraising site, teamed up with RYOT, a social news platform to announce a challenge called #STARTARYOT, according to ncronline.com. They offered $75,000 to the nonprofit that raised the most money in five weeks.
On Oct. 10, they had announced that Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary had won. They even received an extra $10,000 for attracting the most unique visitors during the last week of the challenge.
Additionally, they were able to raise $362,269 through crowd-funding. The installment company even agreed to discount the price of the new fence.
And once more, all is right in the BLT-land.
Innit that great! There are lots of more photos at the link…go see the three amigos together. So dang cute!
That is my post for today. Stay warm and happy!