Quotulatiousness

November 8, 2017

Why Don’t Country Flags Use The Color Purple?

Filed under: Economics, History, Middle East — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

After Skool
Published on 17 Oct 2017

For centuries purple dye was worth more than gold. The dye used to produce purple fabric came from a sea snail that only lived off the shores of modern day Lebanon. Because it was so rare, purple became associated with royalty. This is the reason you don’t see purple on country flags. It was just too expensive to produce.

Sometimes the simplest questions have extraordinary answers.

November 5, 2017

QotD: Explaining comparative advantage

Actually, it’s dead easy. No math, no arithmetic. It is in fact the soul of common sense. But you have to understand that comparative advantage is the principle of cooperation, as against competition. The word “advantage” gets us thinking of competition, which is perfectly reasonable in our own individual lives — we do compete with other businesses or other writers or whomever. But the system as a whole, whatever it is, does well of course by cooperating, in business or science or family life. It’s not all we do, admittedly. We also compete. But within a household or a company or a world economy the job is to produce a result in the best way, cooperatively. If you are running a household or a sports team or a world economy, you would want to assign roles to the various contributors to the common purpose sensibly. It turns out to be precisely on grounds of comparative advantage.

Consider Mum and 12-year old Oliver, who are to spend Saturday morning tidying up the garage. Oliver is incompetent in everything compared with Mum. He cannot sweep the floor as quickly as she can, and he is truly hopeless in sorting through the masses of rubbish that garages grow spontaneously. Mum, that is, has an absolute advantage in every sub-task in tidying up the garage. Oliver is like Bangladesh, which is poor because it makes everything — knit goods and medical reactors — with more labor and capital than Britain does. Its output per person is 8.4 percent of what it is in Britain. So too Oliver.

What to do? Let Mum do everything? No, of course not. That would not produce the most tidied garage in a morning’s work. Oliver should obviously be assigned to the broom, in which his disadvantage compared with Mum is comparatively least — hence “comparative advantage.” An omniscient central planner of the garage-tidying would assign Mum and Oliver just that way. So would an omniscient central planner of world production and trade. In the event, there’s no need for an international planner. The market, if Trump does not wreck it, does the correct assignment of tasks worldwide. Bangladesh does not sit down and let Britain make everything merely because Britain is “competitive” absolutely in everything. And in fact Bangladesh’s real income has been rising smartly in recent years precisely because it has specialized in knit goods. It has closed its ears to the siren song of protecting its medical reactor industry. It gets the equipment for cancer treatment from Britain.

Comparative advantage means assigning resources of labor and capital to the right jobs, whatever the absolute productivity of the economy. It applies within a single family, or within a single company, or within Britain, or within the world economy, all of which are made better off by such obvious efficiencies. Following comparative advantage enriches us all, because it gets the job done best. Policies commonly alleged to achieve absolute advantage lead to protection — that is, extortion, crony capitalism, and the rest in aid of “competitiveness.”

Dierdre N. McCloskey, “A Punter’s Guide to a True but Non-Obvious Proposition in Economics”, 2017-10-16.

October 24, 2017

More on Quebec’s niqab ban

Filed under: Cancon, Government, Law, Liberty — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Ted Campbell is emphatically against Quebec’s attempt to ban facial coverings for Islamic women:

These laws are stupid … but they are worse than stupid, they are an assault on individual liberty by a bunch of political nincompoops.

Now, there are a number of variants of head and face coverings, they are especially common among some Muslim women …

… and some restrictions on some of them in some situations are, pretty clearly, justified on common sense or security-identification grounds. We, most of us, can probably agree that a lady should not wear a burqa or chador or even a niqab when she’s driving a car (it might restrict her vision) or when she is applying for a driving licence, which is a pretty common form of recognized identification … and it seems pretty clear that airport security should insist that a burqa or chador must be removed for security screening (to permit positive facial recognition).

But, why the hell does the state ~ the BIG, collective, state ~ care what any individual wears when (s)he boards a bus. It ought to care that she deposits the correct fare, of course, or taps her card to pay, but why does the state care if her face is covered? It’s arrant nonsense, and it is an infringement on a fundamental right.

    Reminder: you (and I, and Muslim women, too) have lots of rights but four of them are quite fundamental: life, liberty and property as defined by John Locke in 17th century England and privacy, as defined by Brandies and Warren in 19th century America. These rights all accrue to all individuals, only, and they, those individuals, need to have their fundamental rights protected against constant threats from collectives including religions, societies and states, themselves. These new laws, passed by big, collectivist states, are threats to individual liberties and must be challenged and overturned. Liberals, like Justin Trudeau, will not do it because they are progressives, not liberals, and because people like Justin Trudeau cannot think about fundamental rights … only about partisan, short term, political advantage.

Let me be clear about my own position:

  • Women may wear whatever they want for their own (good or not so good) reasons; but
  • It is wrong for anyone (including any father or husband or rabbi or provincial premier) to force women to dress in some certain way for social (including political) or religious reasons.

Your religion is a wholly private matter between you and your gods … you may never try to impose your beliefs on others, including your wife and children.

Why Women Fainted So Much in the 19th Century

Filed under: Health, History — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Today I Found Out
Published on 8 Oct 2016

In this video:

Dropping like flies (or at least as far as many stories indicate), it seems as if well-bred ladies in the 1800s struggled to maintain consciousness when faced with even the slightest emotional or physical shock. Over the years there have been several theories as to why this seemed to happen, from the women’s garb to simply conforming to societal expectations.

Want the text version?: http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2015/05/women-fainted-much-19th-century/

October 20, 2017

Quebec’s niqab ban

Filed under: Cancon, Government, Law, Liberty — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Chris Selley on the Quebec provincial government’s latest anti-Muslim legislation:

It’s mostly about the Quiet Revolution. That’s what we’ve been assured by wise owl pundits about all this intolerant-looking rigmarole in Quebec. When polls show far more Quebecers than other Canadians hesitant to vote for a turban-wearing Sikh like NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, the owls exhort us to contextualize: Quebecers’ rejection of the Catholic Church’s outsized role in their society left them suspicious of all public displays of religiosity (except Catholic ones, weirdly). This explains higher levels of antipathy toward other religious symbols as well, we are told: kippas, kirpans and hijabs. Hijabs specifically are antithetical to a uniquely French brand of feminism, the owls explain. We must understand that French Canadians, like the French, simply do not believe in multiculturalism; other cultures must adapt to and exist within the dominant one. Without understanding all this, we cannot comprehend what’s really happening.

Well, here’s what really happened Wednesday: after years of dithering, the Liberal government in Quebec City made it illegal to provide or receive government services with one’s face covered — which is to say no niqabs on university campuses, no niqabs at the police station, no niqabs on the bus or on the Métro. Not even the Parti Québécois’ much-loathed values charter proposed the latter. So what are we to make of this, owls? Was the Quiet Revolution, this proud rejection of church influence over the state, really about bestowing upon the state the power to tell religious people what they can and cannot wear on buses and trains? Shall we sing Gens du Pays?

How stupid do the Liberals think people are? How stupid do they think Canadian judges are? Stupid enough, apparently, to believe that this isn’t really about niqabs, but about a general outbreak of people riding public transit without their faces showing. Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée said the rule applied equally to niqabs, balaclavas, dark sunglasses and anything else that might obscure all or part of the face. It’s a simple matter of “security, communication and identification.”

August 10, 2017

QotD: The comfortable shoe revolution

Filed under: Business, Quotations, Randomness — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

When I was a kid back in the 1960s and early 1970s, “shoes” still meant, basically, “hard leather oxfords”. Ugly stiff things with a high-maintenance finish that would scuff if you breathed on them. What I liked was sneakers. But in those bygone days you didn’t get to wear sneakers past a certain age, unless you were doing sneaker things like playing basketball. And I sucked at basketball.

I revolted against the tyranny of the oxford by wearing desert boots, which back then weren’t actually boots at all but a kind of high-top shoe with a suede finish and a grip sole. These were just barely acceptable in polite company; in fact, if you can believe this, I was teased about them at school. It was a more conformist time.

I still remember the first time I saw a shoe I actually liked and wanted to own, around 1982. It was called an Aspen, and it was built exactly like a running shoe but with a soft suede upper. Felt like sneakers on my feet, looked like a grownup shoe from any distance. And I still remember exactly how my Aspens — both of them — literally fell apart at the same moment as I was crossing Walnut Street in West Philly. These were not well-made shoes. I had to limp home.

But better days were coming. In the early 1990s athletic shoes underwent a kind of Cambrian explosion, proliferating into all kinds of odd styles. Reebok and Rockport and a few other makers finally figured out what I wanted — athletic-shoe fit and comfort with a sleek all-black look I could wear into a client’s office, and no polishing or shoe trees or any of that annoying overhead!

I look around me today and I see that athletic-shoe tech has taken over. The torture devices of my childhood are almost a memory. Thank you, oh inscrutable shoe gods. Thank you Rockport. It’s not a big thing like the Internet, but comfortable un-fussy shoes have made my life better.

Eric S. Raymond, “Eric writes about the shoes”, Armed and Dangerous, 2005-09-09.

June 8, 2017

Shoes and changing tastes

Filed under: Business, USA — Tags: — Nicholas @ 03:00

Virginia Postrel says that the market for shoes is changing rapidly, and men are poised to take over as the largest sector of the American shoe-buying market:

The Sex and the City stereotype of the shoe enthusiast as a fashionista with a passion for high heels is seriously out of date. Today’s shoe collector is probably buying sneakers and is quite likely male. Shoes may have as much glamour as ever, but it’s not the kind Christian Louboutin would recognize.

If current trends continue, men’s U.S. shoe sales will soon surpass women’s. At $26.2 billion in 2016 versus $29.9 billion for women’s footwear, “men’s is closer in size to women’s than it’s ever been,” says Beth Goldstein, fashion footwear and accessories analyst at the NPD Group. Women’s sales are shrinking as men’s continue to rise, in both revenue and number of pairs sold.

Behind the sales figures is a cultural shift. As dress becomes more casual, habits are converging, with women buying more versatile styles while men expand their shoe collections.

Traditionally, men got more wear out of any given pair of shoes. “If you’re getting a pair of desert boots or brogues, you can wear those every day, all day, all year,” says Andrew Luecke, a New York-based menswear writer and co-author of the new book “Cool: Style, Sound, and Subversion.” “A pair of Louboutin stilettos? Not so wearable.”

That’s changing, however. Instead of picking up sandals in the spring and boots in the fall, women are buying shoes they can wear year-round, such as ankle boots and sneakers. Their purchase patterns now look more like men’s. That’s bad news for retailers who count on seasonal lines to drive purchases.

Meanwhile, the rise of sneakers as all-occasion footwear is encouraging men to build their wardrobes while depressing women’s sales. “Men have the tendency to collect things,” observes Luecke. “Once it was baseball cards. Now it’s sneakers. If you’re collecting, you can’t have too many sneakers.” And if you’re not into sneakers, you can buy shoes to go with your favorite pastime — camping, fishing, rock climbing, snowshoeing, whatever. They aren’t frivolous fashion; they’re serious gear!

I don’t buy shoes too often … I think I bought a pair of leather shoes in 2015 and a pair of court shoes for badminton the year before that. I have no immediate plans to add to my collection, so I guess it’s up to all of you chaps to make up the difference.

May 2, 2017

QotD: Tolerance must work both ways

Filed under: Liberty, Politics, Quotations, Religion — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

If a person wears a hijab… or a Nazi armband… I will indeed judge that particular book by its cover. The individual who dresses thus is not making a fashion statement, they are making a political statement (and Islam is a set of political values). Unlike a person’s race or national origin, a hijab… or a Nazi armband… tells me something profound, because it informs me about that particular person’s world view and their choices.

It is absurd to expect such a thing not to matter to others. If I am to tolerate a person wearing a hijab… or a Nazi armband… I must be equally free to non-violently express myself by stating my view that the things they represent are not just fine by me, and I think poorly of the people who wear them.

I support Joni Clarke’s right to wear what she wants, and to follow whatever crackpot religion she wants. And I hope Joni Clarke is equally tolerant and supports my right to have nothing to do with her, and have complete disdain for her political/religious values. I do not need or even want her acceptance or respect, I only want her tolerance, because that is all I am offering in return. But unless it is reciprocal, I am not even offering that, because tolerance of intolerance is cowardice (not to mention suicidal).

Perry de Havilland, “The right to express yourself must work both ways”, Samizdata, 2015-07-31.

April 24, 2017

Today’s study in “problematic” issues for Teen Vogue

Amy Alkon fisks a recent Teen Vogue piece on soi-disant “cultural appropriation”:

Silly Teen Vogue-ers, Fashion *Is* Appropriation

This bit — from Teen Vogue — is hilariously sad and sadly hilarious:

    In our new column Don’t Do It Girl, Jessica Andrews explores the cultural appropriation epidemic at Coachella.

EPIDEMIC! Like AIDS, Zika, or Ebola!

Fashion always has been about appropriation. Appropriating style and appropriating culture. Those lace-up-the-ankle sandals? Ancient Rome!

Yet, do you see Italian kids mewling that you stole their culture? Of course not, because Italians, generally speaking, are exuberant people who really know how to live life.

Meanwhile, back here in America…

The kids growing up now, especially in the United States, are the freest people in human history — both as individuals and through the technology that removes the drudgery that’s been a constant companion for humans throughout the ages.

Naturally, their response to all this unparalleled freedom is to try to control other people’s behavior.

Fashion policing, in this case. Here, from Andrews story on that EPIDEMIC of appreciation:

    Even when people feign ignorance, there’s little excuse. In the past, I’ve worn a Pocahontas costume for Halloween. It’s a mistake I regret, and I’ll never do it again knowing how hurtful it is.

Oh, please. I grew up Jewish. If you pretend to be a character from Fiddler on the Roof, should I take to bed and cry for a few days?

    With appropriation being such a huge conversation these days…

So much talk…so little reasoning

    Like fashion, appropriative hairstyles are now ubiquitous at Coachella. Cornrows or box braids are not a “hot new festival trend”; black women have been wearing them for centuries. When outlets cover the hairstyle as if it started with Kylie Jenner, it’s not appreciation; it’s erasure. Those celebratory headlines are yet another reminder that black hairstyles are only acceptable when they’re removed from actual black people.

Do you need to be high to write for Teen Vogue? It’s a fucking hairstyle. Women wear it because they think it will look good on them. If they’re white with dark hair, they’re probably wrong (nothing like rows of scalpage showing through to make a woman’s head remind us of freshly plowed fields). Women with big honking faces like mine don’t look so hot in them, either.

    Unbeknownst to some Coachella attendees, there’s a stigma associated with cornrows and braids when black people wear them.

Unbeknownst to a fucking lot of us, I’d guess.

January 25, 2017

QotD: Microfibres and innovation

Filed under: Quotations, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

New and improved fabric technologies haven’t attracted public enthusiasm since the backlash against leisure suits and disco shirts made synthetics declassé in the early 1980s. ‘Pity poor polyester. People pick on it,’ wrote The Wall Street Journal’s Ronald Alsop in 1982, describing DuPont’s efforts to rehabilitate the fibre’s image.

What ended the consumer hatred of polyester wasn’t a marketing campaign. It was a quiet series of technical innovations: the development of microfibres. These are synthetics, most often polyester or nylon, that are thinner than silk and incredibly soft, as well as lightweight, strong, washable and quick-drying. Their shapes can be engineered to control how water vapour and heat pass through the fabric or to create microcapsules to add sunscreen, antimicrobial agents or insect repellent. Over the past decade, microfibres have become ubiquitous; they’re found in everything from wickable workout wear to supersoft plush toys.

Microfibres are one reason the ‘air-conditioned’ fabrics Loewy and his fellow designers foresaw in 1939 have finally come to pass. These fabrics just aren’t promoted in the pages of Vogue or highlighted on the racks at Banana Republic. They don’t attract attention during New York Fashion Week. Their tribe gathers instead at the big Outdoor Retailer trade shows held twice a year in Salt Lake City. There, outdoor-apparel makers and their suppliers tout textiles that keep wearers warm in the cold and cool in the heat; that block raindrops but allow sweat to escape; that repel insects, screen out UV rays and control odour. By establishing that truly weather-resistant fabrics were possible, Gore-Tex (first sold in 1976) and Polartec synthetic fleece (1979) created an industry where engineers now vie to find ever-better ways to conquer the elements. For instance, ‘smart textiles’ originally developed for spacesuits use microencapsulated materials that melt when they get hot, keeping wearers comfortable by absorbing body heat; when temperatures fall, the materials solidify and warm the body.

[…]

Looking forward, academic researchers have bigger things in mind. Noting that ‘a large portion of energy continues to be wasted on heating empty space and non‑human objects,’ the materials scientist Yi Cui and his colleagues at Stanford envision replacing central heating systems with ‘personal thermal management’, using breathable fabrics coated in a solution of silver nanowires. The fabrics not only trap body heat: given an imperceptible bit of electric charge, they can actually warm the skin.

Other scientists are looking at ways to make fabric turn body heat or motion into usable energy for low-powered electronics. And some hope to make the temperature-regulating effects of smart textiles work without liquids, whose microencapsulation requires substantial energy use. Shifting the focus from outdoor leisure to indoor life – from fighting the elements to everyday energy use and climate control – dramatically reframes several decades of fabric advances, making textiles part of a larger story about energy and the environment.

Virginia Postrel, “Losing the Thread: Older than bronze and as new as nanowires, textiles are technology — and they have remade our world time and again”, Aeon, 2015-06-05.

January 18, 2017

QotD: The original “spinsters”

Filed under: Economics, History, Quotations, Technology — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Whether they were captives in ancient Crete, orphans in the Florentine Ospedale degli Innocenti, widows in South India or country wives in Georgian England, women through the centuries spent their lives spinning, especially after water wheels freed up time previously devoted to grinding grain. Turning fibre into thread was a time-consuming, highly skilled craft, requiring dexterity and care. Even after the spread of the spinning wheel in the Middle Ages, the finest, most consistent yarn, as well as strong warp threads in general, still came from the most ancient of techniques: drop spinning, using a hooked or notched stick with a weight as a flywheel.

Spinning was the major bottleneck in making cloth. In the late 18th century, the thriving worsted industry in Norwich in the east of England employed 12,000 looms but 10 times as many spinners producing fine wool thread. The demand for spinning was so high, estimates the economic historian Craig Muldrew, that it employed more than a million married women in an English workforce of 4 million, providing about a third of the income of poorer families.

A spinster is a woman who spins. Unmarried women with no children and few domestic chores could work longer hours without distraction, earning as much as male day-labourers and, Muldrew suggests, possibly delaying or even avoiding marriage. Spinning also gave poor girls a more lucrative option than domestic service, leading to complaints of a servant shortage. With labour short and wages high, the eve of the Industrial Revolution was a great time to be a spinster.

But a bottleneck is a problem waiting to be solved, and inventors started looking for ways to get more thread with less labour. Like self-driving cars or cheap, clean energy today, spinning machines seemed obviously desirable. In 1760, Britain’s Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce offered prizes for ‘a Machine that will spin Six Threads of Wool, Flax, Cotton, or Silk at one time, and that will require but one Person to work it’.

Nobody won, but within a few years the northern English carpenter James Hargreaves introduced the spinning jenny. It was, writes the economic historian Beverly Lemire in Cotton (2011), ‘the first robust machine that could consistently produce multiple spindles of thread from the effort of a single spinster’. Soon after, his fellow Lancastrian inventor Richard Arkwright refined mechanical spinning with water-powered innovations that improved thread quality and integrated carding and roving (twisting fibres to prepare them for spinning) into a single process. Arkwright’s mills decisively moved thread production from the cottage to the factory.

It was suddenly a bad time to be a spinster, or a family whose household income depended in part on spinning.

Virginia Postrel, “Losing the Thread: Older than bronze and as new as nanowires, textiles are technology — and they have remade our world time and again”, Aeon, 2015-06-05.

January 3, 2017

Ottoman Uniforms of World War 1 I THE GREAT WAR Special

Filed under: Europe, History, Military — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 2 Jan 2017

The Ottoman Army underwent considerable reforms after the losses on the Balkans. And under German influence, the military tried to bring the whole army up to the standards of modern war. In a lot of way, the results were decent or even good but supply problems led to a great variety in uniform quality across the 400 year old Empire.

December 28, 2016

QotD: The importance of fabric as a technological driver

Filed under: History, Quotations, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

The ancient Greeks worshiped Athena as the goddess of technē, the artifice of civilisation. She was the giver and protector of olive trees, of ships and of weaving (without which there would be no sails). When she and Odysseus scheme, they ‘weave a plan’. To weave is to devise, to invent – to contrive function and beauty from the simplest of elements. Fabric and fabricate share a common Latin root, fabrica: ‘something skillfully produced’. Text and textile are similarly related, from the verb texere, to weave. Cloth-making is a creative act, analogous to other creative acts. To spin tales (or yarns) is to exercise imagination. Even more than weaving, spinning mounds of tiny fibres into usable threads turns nothing into something, chaos into order.

‘The spindle was the first wheel,’ explains Elizabeth Barber, professor emerita of linguistics and archeology at Occidental College in Los Angeles, gesturing to demonstrate. ‘It wasn’t yet load-bearing, but the principle of rotation is there.’ In the 1970s, Barber started noticing footnotes about textiles scattered through the archaeological literature. She thought she’d spend nine months pulling together what was known. Her little project became a decades-long exploration that turned textile archaeology into a full-blown field. Textile production, Barber writes in Prehistoric Textiles (1991), ‘is older than pottery or metallurgy and perhaps even than agriculture and stock-breeding’.

Of course, pottery and metal artifacts survived the centuries much better than cloth, which is rarely found in more than tiny fragments. That’s one reason we tend to forget how important textiles were in the earliest economic production. We envision an ancient world of hard surfaces much as we imagine the First World War in black and white.

But before there was gold or silver currency, traders used cloth. In the 20th century BC, the Minoan kingdom on resource-poor Crete swapped wool and linen for the metals that its famed craftsmen, represented by the mythical Daedalus, used to create their wares. In the pre-monetary trade of the ancient Aegean and Anatolia, writes the archaeologist Brendan Burke in From Minos to Midas (2010), textile production was of ‘greater value and importance … than the production of painted clay pots, metal tools, and objects carved from precious metals: everyone depended on cloth’.

Archaeologists often track fabric production by what is left behind. Huge numbers of spindle whorls (usually of clay) survive, as do the clay loom weights that held vertically hung warp threads in tension. By counting the clay weights left from his workshops’ looms, writes Barber, ‘we can calculate that King Midas of Gordion could have kept over 100 women busy weaving for him, which makes him more than twice as rich as Homer’s fabulous King Alkinnoos [Alcinous, from the Odyssey], who had 50. No wonder the Greeks viewed Midas as synonymous with gold!’

Virginia Postrel, “Losing the Thread: Older than bronze and as new as nanowires, textiles are technology — and they have remade our world time and again”, Aeon, 2015-06-05.

November 27, 2016

QotD: Fabric as technology

Filed under: History, Quotations, Technology — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

In February 1939, Vogue ran a major feature on the fashions of the future. Inspired by the soon-to-open New York World’s Fair, the magazine asked nine industrial designers to imagine what the people of ‘a far Tomorrow’ might wear and why. (The editors deemed fashion designers too of-the-moment for such speculations.) A mock‑up of each outfit was manufactured and photographed for a lavish nine-page colour spread.

You might have seen some of the results online: an evening dress with a see-through net top and strategically placed swirls of gold braid, for instance, or a baggy men’s jumpsuit with a utility belt and halo antenna. Bloggers periodically rediscover a British newsreel of models demonstrating the outfits while a campy narrator (‘Oh, swish!’) makes laboured jokes. The silly get‑ups are always good for self-satisfied smirks. What dopes those old-time prognosticators were!

The ridicule is unfair. Anticipating climate-controlled interiors, greater nudity, more athleticism, more travel and simpler wardrobes, the designers actually got a lot of trends right. Besides, the mock‑ups don’t reveal what really made the predicted fashions futuristic. Looking only at the pictures, you can’t detect the most prominent technological theme.

‘The important improvements and innovations in clothes for the World of Tomorrow will be in the fabrics themselves,’ declared Raymond Loewy, one of the Vogue contributors. His fellow visionaries agreed. Every single one talked about textile advances. Many of their designs specified yet-to-be-invented materials that could adjust to temperature, change colour or be crushed into suitcases without wrinkling. Without exception, everyone foretelling the ‘World of Tomorrow’ believed that an exciting future meant innovative new fabrics.

They all understood something we’ve largely forgotten: that textiles are technology, more ancient than bronze and as contemporary as nanowires. We hairless apes co-evolved with our apparel. But, to reverse Arthur C Clarke’s adage, any sufficiently familiar technology is indistinguishable from nature. It seems intuitive, obvious – so woven into the fabric of our lives that we take it for granted.

Virginia Postrel, “Losing the Thread: Older than bronze and as new as nanowires, textiles are technology — and they have remade our world time and again”, Aeon, 2015-06-05.

November 15, 2016

Romanian Uniforms of World War 1 I THE GREAT WAR Special

Filed under: Europe, History, Military — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Published on 14 Nov 2016

Romania is sometimes overlooked when talking about World War 1, but they had their own military tradition. As a smaller player in Europe, equipping the army was even more a challenge than it already was for the world powers.

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