Archive for the ‘design’ Category

The “Non-Partisan” Association, Vancouver’s zombie political party

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

NPA Vancouver

This post is for Vancouverites who are urban or civic politics nerds and may not be acquainted with the early historical roots of the local civic political party known, somewhat hilariously, as the Non Partisan Association (NPA). Like a zombie, the NPA seems to be trying to come back from the dead for the umpteenth time.

Some excerpts from the 1967 Vancouver Sun article above (read it here (jpg)]:

“It was the success of the CCF—now NDP [now COPE]—at the local level in the civic elections of 1936 which was a second major factor in the organization of the NPA [the first was the move from a ward system to an at-large system in 1936]… [I]ts purpose was to keep CCF-socialist politics out [of city hall]… Unquestionably the NPA has been the “party” of the west side of the city, and has helped to maintain the split of east-side west-side which has been of fundamental importance in the politics of Vancouver for nearly 50 years. Because NPA candidates have dominated the civic boards for 30 years, west-side en have made policy for the city for 30 years…. It was the fear of the policies an dlegislation which east side, “socialistic” representatives would bring to city council and civic boards, and of more importance the concern with the political power which civic office would bring them, which prompted the organization of the NPA.”

& so on. It’s fascinating reading, revealing a party that is the furthest thing from non-partisan. Even when it pulls in candidates from across the city, it represents a particular establishment and political stripe.

By raising this party’s past I am not suggesting that a political party cannot drift from its original purpose. I’m suggesting that this one hasn’t. I would also say that it is usually difficult for an institution to alter its very DNA, and when political DNA does change, historically it has been infinitely more common to see a drift from left to right (via a co-optation by business interests) than to see a drift in the other direction. Certainly it seems very unlikely that a party this genetically close to west side and business establishment interests will be truly interested in, for example, the open government and “transparency” issue it has now mounted on its campaign like a parade float mascot.

While the NPA’s activities may have been more benign during certain periods—say, the administration of Mayor Philip Owen in the 1990s—it is worth taking a look at the most recent NPA regime of Mayor Sam Sullivan. Sullivan’s euphemistic “ecodensity” program turbo-charged the tower development bonanza that is laying waste to this city’s affordability and built heritage, and that Vision Vancouver has even further accelerated but just under a different name.

Which takes me to my next point, that the incumbent faux-green party Vision Vancouver is no alternative to the NPA. Vision Vancouver and the NPA have a great deal in common, not least their identical corporate real estate funders. While Vision is backed by an NDP element, its  ties to the construction industry’s unions have only rendered it more friendly to rampant luxury developers and property speculators. This is all shorthand for a much more complicated situation that I’m not going to footnote or otherwise elaborate on here. Much ink has been spilled on this topic, and better ink than this.

Tactically speaking I believe the best we can hope for in the November 2014 civic election is a minority civic government. We then at least have a small chance of getting some traction. I will be supporting a number of candidates (TBA) including the three Green council candidates, all of whose parties do not take developer donations. In the second-most unaffordable city in the world relative to median income, a distinction Vancouver has won the past three years in a row, we need to try something.

Vancouver did many things right in the 70s. Most of the things it’s famous for were the work of more progressive administrations, not the most recent developer-funded administrations. We need to return to a progressive civic politics. Bike lanes and faux-transparency do not a progressive housing agenda make.

The intention of this post, hastily written in the news doldrums of pre-election summertime, is merely to provide a little interesting reading on the topic of the NPA’s ancient history. Maybe this is also a bid for some consciousness of civic history in this famously amnesiac town.

Here is a link to a 5 MB jpg of the news story above. Feel free to download.

Alternatively take a look at this useful 1976 grad thesis on the origins of the NPA (PDF).

 

The Hitler Youth haircut

Monday, May 26th, 2014

hipster and nazi hairstyle

Google Hitler Youth haircut. You get “About 50,300 results” and most of the hits are articles about the contemporary version of the Hitler Youth undercut hairstyle.

look at this fucking hipster

The abrupt turn to the right in yesterday’s European Parliament elections, including massive gains for the far-right anti-immigration National Front in France, the anti-immigration and racist UKIP in the UK. and a far right party in Denmark (among many others) seems to signal what we’re headed for. Then there’s the right-wing nationalist Navendra Modi’s win in India, military coups popping up in other places…

I know I’m not alone in finding this haircut and all its variants chilling.

hitler youth haircut then & now

hipster haircut

hitler youth haircut - poster

Hitler Youth haircut brownshirt

hitler youth haircut

For fun, the overgroomed douche variant:

hitler haircut douche version

Then there’s the other shaved-sides dictator style, the Kim Jong Un. Supposedly this cut is now mandatory for all males in North Korea (and, apparently, for males in my own social circle):

kim jong un mandatory haircut

Kim Jong Un haircut

See also:

How to ask for a Hitler Youth Haircut

Every Dude You Know Is Getting This Haircut

The 20 Most Controversial Men’s Style Trends of the Past 20 Years

Comeback of the Hitler Youth haircut worries Jewish and progressive groups fearing intolerance

or search Hitler youth haircut on Tumblr – here’s a journalism student saying “I got the Hitler Youth haircut I always wanted”

hitler youth haircut

hitleryouthhaircuttumblr

PS Thanks to Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, and Romania for going left in the EU elections.

Next in this series: more trendy male styles from other specifically conservative decades

 

Navajo chief’s blanket ends up on Antiques Road Show (2004)

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

first nations/American indian weaving

This is for those who haven’t seen this decade-old segment which for some reason has been making the social media rounds again.

It is so nice to see a truly beautiful textile get this sort of attention (and from men too, which speaking as a textiles person rarely happens in North America, in contrast with other parts of the world). Of course it’s partly the Navajo chief connection and the reference to Kit Carson that garners interest here, but it’s still nice to see the attention to the extreme fineness of the weaving.

I’ve never seen a Navajo blanket I like more than this one.

More information at PBS and click here for a better version of the video without dumb text at top (video that can’t be embedded except on Facebook, annoyingly) on Vimeo.

Easybreath mask and snorkel innovation

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

masque-facial-snorkeling-easybreath-innovation by Tribordeasybreath-see-and-breathe-underwater-as-easily-as-you-would-on-land-1

After many years of few changes in the old mask and snorkel setup, this is an interesting innovation. It just won the 2014 Oxylane Innovation Award (I have no idea what that is, but I suspect it’s just the first of many awards for this contraption).

The French company Tribord has come up with a way to allow snorkelers to breathe by both mouth and nose and without fogging the mask, as well as allowing diving without water entering the snorkel at all. This means you can swim and breathe more normally, see better and dive up and down easily. And the snorkel bulb above water makes you visible to boats.

The strap is also far better in design. A regular mask’s single strap constantly slips especially if you like me you have long fine hair. This 3-strap fit looks way better. But these aren’t available in women’s /teens’ sizes yet, nor are they available in N. America yet. In the UK they’ll be carried by Stockport.

I’m not very acquisitive and I seldom appreciate new gimmicks but this goes beyond gimmickry and I would very much like to have one. It’s the first innovation in a while that has interested me.

Having been snorkeling lately while visiting friends in Ecuador I had a cheap snorkel with a faulty valve that let in more seawater than it let out every time I tried to clear it. An old fashioned non-valve snorkel would have actually been better, but those are primitive and hard to clear. Even with a good mask and snorkel it’s generally a constant struggle to maintain a clear mask and an empty snorkel.  This is the first time I’ve seen anything innovative along these lines.

(To read the English subtitles on the video you may have to disable the Italian titles – go under the CC closed captioning button):

Mick Jagger in Peru

Friday, May 16th, 2014

Cuzco - woven mantas in antique weaving shop

Cuzco Mick Jagger textile shop

I was talking to the very knowledgeable owner of a shop of antique weaving in Cuzco, Peru, and after a while he mentioned that Mick Jagger had been in the shop two years before. When I asked if Jagger was in Peru to do a gig, he said no, he had come to see Machu Picchu. I guess he he missed it the first time he was in Peru, when he came to shoot Fitzcarraldo with Werner Herzog in 1980. Sadly—or not depending on how you feel about Jagger’s acting—he didn’t make it into the final film. Jason Robards had originally been cast as Fitzcarraldo and Jagger was to play his sidekick, but when Robards developed amoebic dysentery and had to bow out, thus delaying shooting, Jagger could no longer continue because the Stones were cutting an album. In a way I’m glad because I think Robards was spectacularly wrong for the role. Watch the video if you want to see his hammy and lightweight performance. But Jagger seemed promising as the simpleton sidekick. Some disagree. In the end it was probably fortunate that the role went to Kinski, and I can’t imagine Jagger tolerating Kinski’s on-set tantrums and quasi-criminal manic episodes.

The textile collection in this shop should be in a museum. The Peruvian government should consider paying the market price for its entire collection and displaying it all. It’s a crime that these pieces are slowly leaving the country. They represent multiple eras from every region of the country, and every one contains a message. What appear to be geometric designs are often animals representing family and cosmological origins and relationships. There is so little hand weaving left in the world. Much as I would like to collect more of it myself, it seems wrong to see it scattered to the winds even if that means Mick Jagger’s place.

Fitcarraldo - Mich Jagger and Jason Robards inIquitos

Peru Cuzco textiles shop weaving

Fitcarraldo Mick Jagger and Jason Robards in Iquitos, Peru

Jagger playing the fool in Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo

When you have oil pipeline companies, who needs satire?

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

giant U.S. oil company and the end of satire

Giant U.S. oil/energy mega-corp Kinder Morgan has applied to triple the size of a pipeline across British Columbia, bringing dirty bitumen-laced oil from the Alberta Tar Sands. “Public” hearings to assess the application have been notoriously non-public. An economist friend of mine found the above excerpt in Kinder Morgan’s application, revealing the company to be capable of Swiftian satire in content if not in literary ability. As another friend remarked: this may mark the end of satire, friends.

“Pipeline spills can have both positive and negative effects on local and regional economies, both in the short and long term. Spill response and clean-up creates business and employment opportunities for affected communities, regions, and clean-up service providers. This demand
for services and personnel can also directly or indirectly affect businesses and livelihoods. The net overall effect depends on the size and extent of a spill, the associated demand for clean-up services and personnel, the capacity of local businesses to meet this demand, the willingness of local businesses and response opportunities, the extent of business and livelihoods adversely indirectly) by the spill, and the duration and extent of spill response and clean-up activities.”

In short, B.C.’s employment crisis will in part be solved by…. oil spill clean up jobs.

Voilà. Farce economics!

SOURCE: Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Application (hard copy). PDF version of the application is here. Opposition from the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby through which this pipeline does and will pass can be read here.