Bread and Circuses

The Roman poet Juvenal’s most quoted passage comes from his tenth satire. For those like me who can’t read the Latin, the translation comes through clear.

iam pridem, ex quo suffragia nulli
vendimus, effudit curas; nam qui dabat olim
imperium, fasces, legiones, omnia, nunc se
continet atque duas tantum res anxius optat,
panem et circenses.

But nowadays with no votes to sell, their motto
Is “Couldn’t care less”. Time was when their plebiscite elected
Generals, heads of state, commanders of legions: but now
They’ve pulled in their horns, there’s only two things that
concern them:
Bread and circuses.

This was written around AD100.  For those of you who don’t remember their Roman History (I don’t), this was around (give or take 200 years) the time of the end of the Roman Republic and the beginnings of the Roman Empire.

Starting in BC123 grain collected as revenue for the state was sold to the citizens of Rome at a considerably subsidized rate. This arrangement was continued by most all of the emperors in some form- from completely free grain to a subsidy.

A Roman circus was literally the name of the buildings where the entertainment was held. Horse races, battle re-enactments, gladiator fights, chariot races, ludi (public holiday/day of games).

This is good satire. Makes the point, says it sweetly, is two thousand years later just as true.

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Between the Bars

Between the bars. “A weblog platform for prisoners.”

New site – takes postal service letters from the incarcerated and scans them, sometimes transcribing them. Not a whole lot of content yet, but a great idea. This guy is my favorite so far.

The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world. Don’t know anyone in prison? Check your skin color. That’s right, you’re white.

Interesting factoids from a commenter on the blue-
1% of America is in prison
2% of Americans are on probation or parole
The country spent $50B on ‘correction’ in 2007, consuming the per-capita GDP of 1+ million people.
That cost will rise to $75B in 2011.

For local comparisons:
1% of Americans hold 47% of the cash
1% of Americans work for Wal-Mart
2% of Americans live abroad

The creepy Arizona Law looking to lock up illegals and harass Hispanics was drafted by for-profit prisons. This is your invisible hand and self interest making everything good and cheery you supporters of free-for-all capitalism.

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Walk the Moon

On Friday night I didn’t know what to do. The local football team is undefeated and are playing in the state playoffs, but our division is to play their games on Saturday evenings.

So a couple of friends and I headed down to the bar nearest to my house. It’s one of three bars in a small college town. Good bar food, personable bartenders, 1$ black label cans, hipsters.

We ran into a long ago-acquaintance. Literally the friend of a friend of a friend from 10+ years back. Was unlikely. Spent some time critiquing the hipster wanna-be students. The band started lugging in equipment and generally out hipstering the student body.

And then they started playing.
Never before have I heard an even half-good band play this bar.
Walk the Moon are pretty damn good.
I guess I’m just a sucker for bands that wear their affection for Eno and Byrne on their sleeve.
Solid, simple, danceable. Four members, four singers. See them live.
Their first LP comes out this weekend.
They are on iTunes.
And Bandcamp.
And Facebook.

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In an attempt to prevent me from posting any more about election politics – here’s political cartoon which says very little and suggests even less. It’s that last little squirt of diarrhea, we can hope.

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Emily Carroll

She’s an illustrator. Good stuff, lots of it has floated around the interwebs. This would be an appropriate place to put one of her pictures.

Emily Carroll

She keeps a blog. On her blog she recommends this blog, which has quality illustrators illustrating scenes of their choosing from stories of their choosing in each their own identifiable style. It’s pretty wonderful.

That’s all filler. The real point are these. She illustrates some quick comics (also based on stories) They are creepy and atmospheric and wonderful.

The Brothers Grimm’s The Hare’s Bride. And a more loose interpretation of some other story which is the real real point of this post READ THIS ——> His Face All Red.

And for you thinkers and English Majors – here’s Reddit with some commentary on what it all means. (And probably from whence it was sprung upon the interwebs.)

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November the Two.

Vote day. It sucks.

Ohio campaign ad fact checker.

My commentary in a FB note.

This post will be useless in about six hours. Liveblog of results.

The main focus of our political system is preventing change. That’s why it’s not the end of the world when a Tea Partier gets into congress. What the hell will they do? A real result of the State elections will be the redistricting. I like the word Gerrymander.

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Weekend Linkdump

It’s November. From here it’s all cold blustery gray days.

I miss October already. The lead-up to Halloween is mercifully brief. It’s suddenly here with cute baby costumes and feminist-baiting adult costumes. And it’s suddenly gone with nothing but turkey day to interrupt the screaming descent into baby Jesus buy more crap day. (By the way, buy my crap, thanks.)

Here are some Halloween inspired links and some random ones to keep that wonderful time of year alive just a little longer.

It’s my guess that children’s  book illustrator Stephen Gammell made a deeper, more lasting frightful impression on more kids than possibly any horror film director in the last thirty years. The stories contained within Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark were blase. Tepid. Ok. The drawing were fucking scary, man.

Art from Scary Stories.

Art from More Scary.

Art from Scary 3.

The books have been re-issued with some other guy’s lame boring art attached. Boo. Gammell has illustrated several other children’s stories that were not scary stories. Then I found five dollars.

Start saving up for your next Halloween costume.

Some costume ideas for next year for the ladies.

Oregon Trail – the original. Organ Trail – the zombie version.

I was kinda Meh at the idea behind the Rally to Restore Sanity. I don’t agree with the premise that there’s too much shouting from the crazy extremes of the Left and the Right and we should all move to the saggy center of the couch. The D’s and R’s are both on the right excepting silly social shit. It’s a corporatist world.

That said, the signs at the Rally were collectively the best signs at gathering since Comic Con turned out to counter-protest Phelps Church of Shame.

Lastly a great recording of Vonnegut in 1970 reading from the beginning of an early copy of his book Breakfast of Champions. And his asshole from said book.

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Steampunk is of the devil. It’s geek fashion. Geeks and fashion both have their place, together they are an abomination. I was forced to stop reading BoingBoing in college when every other post became raygun this and wooden computer case that.

But gears, gears without pretension are cool.

Wankel engines hold a special place in my heart. They have proven themselves in Mazdas and small airplanes. If I ever told you that they didn’t work in certain airplane situations because they act as heavy front end gyroscopes – I was wrong, I was confusing them with the older-school “rotary” engines. The ones where the engine was setup as a radial engine, but the whole she-bang spins.

Clayton Boyer makes clocks and orrerys with beautiful exposed gears. This one is particularly spectacular. He sells the plans if you want to build your own. A CAD cutter is probably necessary.

This is what happens when you’re old and you have too much time and too many tools.

There was a book published in 1908 by Henry T Brown about mechanisms. The copyright has run out, so it’s available to download. There are better copies both online and to purchase. It’s much like the above machine, but in illustration and description form – 507 of them.

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A place for free online Documentaries.

Free to watch documentaries.

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