Sugawara no Michizane, ~870 AD
One of the cherished myths of American history is that plucky Yankees won independence from Great Britain by picking off befuddled redcoats too dense to deviate from ritualistic parade-ground warfare. That is an exaggeration.
By the time the Revolution broke out, in 1775, the British were well versed in irregular warfare and were countering it in Europe, the Caribbean, and North America. Redcoats certainly knew enough to break ranks and seek cover in battle when possible, rather than, in the words of one historian, “remaining inert and vulnerable to enemy fire.”
The spread of literacy and printed books allowed the American insurgents to appeal for popular support, thereby elevating the role of propaganda and psychological warfare. It is appropriate that the term “public opinion” first appeared in print in 1776, for the American rebels won independence in large part by appealing to the British electorate with documents such as Thomas Paine’s pamphlet Common Sense and the Declaration of Independence.
In fact, the outcome of the Revolution was really decided in 1782, when the British House of Commons voted by a narrow margin to discontinue offensive operations. The British could have kept fighting after that date; they could have raised fresh armies even after the defeat at Yorktown in 1781. But not after they had lost the support of parliament.
The pen is mightier than the sword! Huh!
dave grohl | sound city (2013)
This is the story of the scrappy studio that brought to life the careers of many of modern music’s greats. A voyeuristic peek at the legacy of production, an oft unexamined side of musical artistry. This rockumentary is a must-see for music fans, bridging many eras yet so shockingly intertwined.
Adding to the mix, featured artists from Stevie Nicks to Tom Petty and even Trent Reznor, all who at one point recorded at Sound City, throw down some collaborations and spontaneous jams in Grohl’s Studio 606 with the original Sound City Neve soundboard, which resulted in the film’s soundtrack.
It’s iconic and essential. A work of brilliance. It evokes an appreciation perhaps lost in the current state of the industry and gives hope for the future. I’ve already watched it once, and I already plan to watch it again with my dad.
The premier screening happened across the states on January 31, and the DRM-free download went live for purchase immediately thereafter. Soundtrack, DVD and Blu-Ray will be available on March 12. Special screenings are scheduled throughout the coming months if you want to catch it on the big screen, and I damn well recommend you do.
P.S. The next star-studded rockumentary I’m looking forward to is Who Killed (Or Saved) The Music Industry? produced by members of Story of the Year.
The Japanese were always perfectionists, and fanatics for detail, going back hundreds if not thousands of years. Very much like the Germans, the previous dominant power in photographic equipment.
There was already a substantial Japanese camera and optical industry before WW2, but it was not well known outside of Japan. People in the rest of the world did not think anyone could really challenge the Germans in this area.
At the end of WW2, the German camera industry was in ruins, and worse, much of it was in the Eastern zone, dominated by Russia.
Japan was equally decimated, but a few small camera companies like Nikon, Canon and Asahi (later Pentax) rebuilt and were able to take advantage of trade agreements with the US to start exporting their products.
Canon copied the Leica almost exactly, Nikon combined the best features of the Leica and the Contax, and Asahi went off in a new direction, the SLR.
Nikon (and by extension the Japanese camera industry) got a big break in 1951, when photographers for Life Magazine stopped off in Japan on their way to Korea, and bought some Nikon lenses for their Zeiss Contax cameras. The resulting images were so sharp that they stunned the technical staff back in New York, and Nikon’s reputation was made, almost overnight. Asahi sold its first primitive SLR cameras through Sears, under the name “Tower Reflex”, a reference to the German Pentacon brand whose logo was a tower. Canon improved on the Leica design.
Meanwhile, in Germany, Zeiss was busy digging its grave, coming out with models that were either retreads of pre-war designs (Contax II), or wildly impractical and complicated new designs (Contaflex), all at extremely high prices. Leitz was able to retain its customer base with innovative designs (Leica M3), but Zeiss floundered, and the rest of the German camera industry trapped behind the Iron Curtain, ceased to be a factor. The East German Zeiss factory did design the first modern SLR, the Contax S, but it was ridiculously unreliable, and when Asahi copied it and came out with the Pentax, the game was up.