During the Democratic Kampuchea times in Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge posted these instructions. I found the language especially chilling and frightening:
The Security Regulations
1. You must answer accordingly to my questions…don’t turn them away.
2. Don’t try to hide the facts by making pretexts this and that. You are strictly prohibited to contest me.
3. Don’t be a fool for you are a chap who dare to thwart the revolution.
4. You must immediately answer my questions without wasting time to reflect.
5. Don’t tell me either about your immoralities or the essence of the revolution.
6. While getting lashes or electrification you must not cry at all.
7. Do nothing, sit still and wait for my orders. If there is no order, keep quiet. When I ask you to do something, you must do it right away without protesting.
8. Don’t make pretext about Kampuchea in order to hide your jaw of traitor.
9. If you don’t follow all the above rules, you shall get many many lashes of electric wire.
10. If you disobey any point of my regulations you will get either ten lashes or five shocks of electric discharge.
I think plumbing is really the worst of all the trades, especially for beginners. It’s complex, full of tricks, you’re always straining on your hands and knees, and the consequences of screwing up can be unfortunate. I was glad when this morning’s plumbing adventure included a laugh or two. I’d bought a toilet, cheap one made in China, it seemed well enough made but upon opening the package I encountered the parallel world of Chinglish instructions. If the goal was to obfuscate then Lewis Carrol himself couldn’t have written them any better. The multi-page instructions were printed on the lightest of tissue paper in 1-pt. font with copious (helpful?) diagrams. First up was the list of Required Tools:
- Cuspate pincer
- Sidealong-shape screwdriver
- Maganity localizer
(I’m not making this up…) The first two I thought I could finesse, but I haven’t seen a “maganity localizer” at the hardware store (maybe the Star Wars Memorabilia website has one). OK.
Next was a NOTE: “In order to avoid injuring body, according to the material object if there is little difference”. This gave me some pause to reflect: was it intended as an instruction; or a warning; or was this some kind of inscrutable Confucian brain teaser? Maybe plumbers needed to invoke a Zen-like state in order to complete a successful installation. Hmm…According to the material object if there is little difference…I parked some unfinished thoughts on that and decided to ponder it more deeply later on.
Next came two seemingly critical instructions:
- “When using please clean the filter termically”;
- “Full flush rodfall if correct!”
The exclamation point made me re-read this last several times. A “rodfall” is a nice image but still cryptic. And my supply of “termic cleaner” is running low.
Then some advice that seems solid enough for plumbers but might also apply to people pursuing a swinging lifestyle:
“Make effect to screw, but avoid looseness and leakage.”
The next section was called: “Exclusive Ways of Normal Problem”. I agree, those Normal Problems always seem to have their Exclusive Ways, no argument there.
And finally a helpful note:
“If there is any question mark with our operation, please contact local distribution and they will give you satisfactory personnel”. It’s comforting to know that platoons of very satisfactory Chinese engineers are on standby around the globe, ready to help puzzled DIY guys like me.
I always knew he was a pretty smart guy but this is the first time I’ve found anything about his politics:
“Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of the smaller ones.
The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organised political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature.
The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education).
It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.”
Albert Einstein, 1949
Chile’s Puyohue volcano has been closing Australian airports on and off for a few weeks. These shots of the near-permanent lightning storm caused by the eruption are incredible, real Biblical stuff:
Skateboarding was invented in the 1970’s by surfers in Southern California so they could practice while on land. This image evokes two things for me, those carefree long-haired suntanned idealistic days, and the balletic grace of the surfer’s art. Really old school, have a look at that skateboard:
This image could hang in the Centre Pompidou, it has that Post-Modern look to it, nice colour scheme. It’s a graph of buy and sell orders being executed by a computer trading robot. It’s pinging the market for Natural Gas, buying then selling every few milliseconds. By some estimates these kinds of trades comprise 70% of the current volume on the NYSE, warring robots picking each others pockets. Good luck trading against them: