Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Computist (September 1988)




Computist (September 1988)




Brevard Renaissance Fair 2018 - Stary Olsa - Part 70 (In Taverna)





Brevard Renaissance Fair 2018 - Stary Olsa - Part 70 (In Taverna)


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Monday, November 19, 2018

Venezuela Reveals the Natural Progression of “Democratic Socialism”



Venezuelan opposition socialist affirming that our tragedy is not the result of applying a revolutionary, contemporary socialist program is invaluable to the leftist US press. Politicians and intellectuals are stifled by the Castroite intelligentsia of my country, and above them stands a supposedly moderate columnist at a flagship organization of leftist American news.
Francisco Toro, writing in the Washington Post, tries to whitewash socialism in the wake of the destruction of Venezuela. He sends a message to “true believers” of the cause, from violent, hooded fanatics behind Soviet flags to eternally-offended worshipers of the ultra-left Senator Sanders or the comparatively moderate followers of Hillary Clinton.

The official chronicler of the destruction of Venezuela at the hands of socialism now pleases the journalistic and cultural elites by saying Venezuela is not the ideal context in which to examine the effects of socialism. These minor arguments between believers matter. He can make his case without pushback. It is what they want to hear. For the mainstream media, it all boils down to: “he is in Venezuela” and he is saying “it was not socialism” that caused this ongoing tragedy.

In the United States, more than in the rest of the world, the socialists— even radicals—flee from the pestilence and death of Chavismo that they happily applauded yesterday. And today, they hypocritically condemn it.

The Venezuelan tragedy shows how a revolutionary socialist order that came to power in competitive elections can, in appropriate conditions, advance to totalitarianism.

It demonstrates how it can transform democracy into dictatorship and plunge the economy into disarray. The threat of totalitarianism—and the material and moral misery that goes with it—lurks behind any democratic socialist regime, even in long-standing democracies with developed and prosperous economies.
Although arguments—and facts—are irrelevant to “true believers,” it is worthwhile to review the two that Toro limited himself to:
  1. In all the countries of South America, socialist presidents have been elected this century without immediately having another Venezuela.
  2. It’s not because they were less radical. Evo Morales is a radical, and Bolivian democracy is inherently weak. He expropriated the hydrocarbons industry and others but said Bolivia now is experiencing economic growth and poverty reduction.
According to Toro, Venezuela is a unique and unrepeatable case. The cause of our ills, he insists, is not the ideology that inspired each and every one of the actions of those who govern here but the fact that they are “anti-intellectual, authoritarian, and criminal.” Any ideology, says Toro, would end in disaster with people like that. And people like that, he insinuates, are leading the United States today. It is not Sanders but Trump whom Toro wants the Americans to associate with Venezuelan socialism. It seems like a bad joke, but it is not.

Toro does not deny the widespread continental corruption of each and every one of the governments of the Sao Paulo Forum, nor does he deny the authoritarian tendencies of those governments. He dodges the current Nicaraguan tragedy by limiting himself to South America, and in doing so, he disassembles his own argument. Nicaragua’s socialist rulers are no less criminal nor less authoritarian than those of Venezuela.

What saved other Sao Paulo Forum countries from disaster when they had perfect counterparts to those who have destroyed Venezuela? Less irresponsibility in public finances, Toro suggests (the only answer in which he does not contradict himself).

He ignores the fact that if Chavez had done the same without causing hyperinflation, the outflows of millions of refugees fleeing from poverty in a country on the verge of famine would have occurred years earlier. Inflation prolongs an unsustainable public deficit over time. Hyperinflation is the inevitable outcome of insisting too long on the inflationary financing of the deficit.

Nearly two-thirds of the Venezuelan economy disappeared in the 20 years of Chavismo power. It was socialism: pillaging of the private economy as state policy. Venezuelan hyperinflation resulted from disguising that repression and its impoverishing effects with unsustainable populist spending.
The difference between Venezuela and the rest of the continent (I consider the definition of Toro’s socialist governments valid) would be that here we have suffered from more than half a century of uninterrupted socialist governments. Already in 1945, a group of military coup-backers arrived who believed in the state directing the economy and maintaining the monopoly of strategic companies. After that, no non-socialist presidents were democratically elected in either the 20th century or the 21st century.

Of those who did serve as president, just one tried a very limited turn to market-friendly policies, and it lasted for just three years. Against him rose the arms, the pens, the platforms, the pulpits, and the checkbooks of the military, Marxist intellectuals, socialist politicians, the ranks of Marxist priests, and mercantilist businessmen. The determined return to customary socialism followed first. Then the jump into the void with the current radical socialism—and the misery.

Insist for decades on more and more socialism. Deny that the resulting unproductiveness and impoverishment are the product of socialism. Do not allow another political alternative to moderate socialism other than radical socialism. Insist on legitimizing envy and resentment as a dogma in academia, culture, and entertainment. Pursue and censor everything that is not socialism in a broad sense. Do not base politics on reason but on feelings, mainly resentments.

Regardless of the democratic development and prosperity of their society, sooner rather than later they will equal Venezuela in its misery. It is the lesson of the Venezuelan tragedy. Venezuela was among the most prosperous economies in the world. But over the course of five uninterrupted decades of socialist rulers who declared themselves democratically elected, this strong economy remained the reality from 1958 to 1988, doubtful from then on, and is a falsehood today.

Venezuela proves that democratic socialism can lead to socialist totalitarianism if it holds onto power for long enough—and that the terrible long-term economic results of socialism will only be corrected democratically by voters who doubt socialism. What socialism does in the short term to reduce poverty will cause more and worse poverty in the medium- and long-term.
What Toro tells us is that the virtue of the recent socialist wave in Latin America would be the reduction of relative poverty. But it’s only a matter of time. Venezuela has not happened in Bolivia because it did not happen in Venezuela between 1999 and 2014 but between 2015 and 2018. The only way to avoid socialist disaster is to abandon socialism in time.

Venezuela shows that socialism requires time to reduce a prosperous economy to misery and rule over its ruins. With enough time in power, it will be irreversible. In contrast, the United Kingdom and Sweden are good examples of how to emerge democratically, over time, from the danger of elected socialism. Perhaps it will also be demonstrated in the countries of Latin America that have recently rejected socialist rule.

The damage socialism can do and the time it requires do not depend on the “anti-intellectuals and criminals” being in charge. They depend on early institutional resistance to the worst of socialism.

Not falling depends on the division of powers rather than votes. On the rule of law more than on one of opinion. On limits to power. And, above all, on the fact that the institutions are supported by norms and customs, values and beliefs internalized by the overwhelming majority of the population. It is what failed in Venezuela—little by little—for a long time.

It can be repeated wherever they refuse to learn from Venezuela what most Venezuelans refused to learn from all the socialist regimes that reached totalitarianism—what some Venezuelans, like Toro, continue to refuse to see, even in the midst of this tragedy.

Source: Venezuela Reveals the Natural Progression of "Democratic Socialism" - Foundation for Economic Education



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Super Breakout






Super Breakout


Vintage Photos - Oestreicher (19)

See the previous post in this series here. Feel free to skip the quoted intro text if you have read it before.

I had the opportunity to pick up a huge batch of slides recently. These are pictures spanning from as early as the late 1940s to as late as the early 1990s (maybe earlier and/or later but these are what I have sampled so far). These came to me second (third?) hand but the original source was a combination of estate sales and Goodwill. There are several thousand...maybe as many as 10,000. I will be scanning some from time to time and posting them here for posterity.

Apparently, getting your pictures processed as slides used to be a fairly common thing but it was a phenomenon I missed out on. However, my Grandfather had a few dozen slides (circa late 1950s) that I acquired after he died. That along with some negatives is what prompted me to buy a somewhat decent flatbed scanner that could handle slides and negatives (an Epson V600). That was the most money I was willing to spend on one anyway. It can scan up to four slides at a time with various post-processing options and does a decent enough job. The scanner has been mostly idle since finishing that task but now there is plenty for it to do.

This set continues a rather large batch of slides that originally came from an estate sale and appear to have belonged to a locally well known photographer from the Spokane Washington area and later Northern Idaho named Leo Oestreicher. He was known for his portrait and landscape photography and especially for post cards. He career started in the 1930s and he died in 1990. These slides (thousands of them) contain a lot of landscape and portrait photos but also a lot of photos from day to day life and various vacations around the world. Here's an article on him from 1997 which is the only info I have found on him: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/1997/jan/04/photos-of-a-lifetime-museum-acquisition-of-leo/

Many of these slides had the date they were processed (presumably) stamped or printed on them (month and year). I've found that in cases where I could verify the date, either because a more specific date was hand written or there was something to specifically date the photo in the photo itself, that this date has typically been the same month the photos were taken. In other words, I expect that in MOST cases these photos were taken relatively near the processing date. No doubt there are some exceptions.

There are a couple of Christmas pictures here plus a landscape shot and a baby in a stroller. The only one with a date on it is the baby in a stroller which was processed in March 1958. I suspect the Christmas photos are from 1957 or possibly 1958.

Click on one of the images or the link below to also see versions processed with color restoration and Digital ICE which is a hardware based dust and scratch remover, a feature of the Epson V600 scanner I am using. There are also versions processed with the simpler dust removal option along with color restoration.





March 1958









https://supload.com/ryItVIrwQ


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Arcia (Chaos Legion)







Arcia (Chaos Legion)


Brevard Renaissance Fair 2018 - Stary Olsa - Part 69 (Bransle Les Lavandieres)





Brevard Renaissance Fair 2018 - Stary Olsa - Part 69 (Bransle Les Lavandieres)


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