Robert L. Peters

30 January 2008

Remembering Gandhi…

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Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (Mahatma, Gandhiji, Bhapu to some) was assassinated 60 years ago today in New Delhi. His frugal, exemplary life of non-violence (“My life is my message.”) continues to be an inspiration to millions around the world—on 15 June last year the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution declaring 2 October (Gandhi’s birthday) to be the International Day of Non-Violence.

On a trip to India a few years ago I had the chance to visit Ahmedabad (where Mahatma Ghandhi established two ashrams in 1915) as well as the house in Mumbai where he spent years in house-arrest. While there, I picked up a copy of his remarkably forthright autobiography, The Story of my Experiments with Truth… 


29 January 2008

Harrison Bergeron | Kurt Vonnegut

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Harrison Bergeron

THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.

Some things about living still weren’t quite right, though. April, for instance, still drove people crazy by not being springtime. And it was in that clammy month that the H-G men took George and Hazel Bergeron’s fourteen-year-old son, Harrison, away.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I recently stumbled across this remarkable short story by Kurt Vonnegut online… all I can say is, if you (also) tend to side with underdogs and/or if you’ve ever pondered the ultimate implications of egalitarianism, I think you’ll enjoy his compellingly dystopian story (written in 1961) here

Photo by Jill Krementz (Kurt’s wife)


28 January 2008

At your feet…

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Wellington, New Zealand

On my recent visit to Wellington, local designers pointed out delightful detailing on cast-iron manhole covers (inspiring and designed—no reason for urban environments to be thoughtless and ugly)! I also took a shining to the intriguing Wellington Writer’s Walk along the harbor, a series of 15 concrete text sculptures designed by Catharine Griffiths (as are some of the manhole covers).

Manhole pics: thanks to Elaina of EXPERIMENTA design & typography


27 January 2008

Governmentium (Gv)

Washington, DC

New element on the periodic table

A major Washington-based research institution has recently announced the discovery of the heaviest chemical element yet known to science. The new element has been named “Governmentium.” Governmentium (Gv) has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.

These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons. Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected, because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact.

A minute amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction, which would normally take less than a second, to take over four days to complete. Governmentium has a normal half-life of 4 years; it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, Governmentium’s mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes. This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as Critical Morass.

When catalyzed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium—an element which radiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.

Source: (disputedly) William DeBuvitz


Geländesprung…

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Eastern Manitoba

For the past few weekends we’ve been breaking in X-country ski trails out in the woods at my place (my forest trails are not much used, so this includes some ducking under and jumping over fallen trees). Yesterday’s near-melting temperatures made for a delightful back-forty foray once again…

Ev single-tracking across the beaver pond.


25 January 2008

Slainte Mhath! Slainte Mhor!

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Winnipeg, Canada

Today is Robbie Burns Day (my namesake) as several Scottish clients and co-workers have pointed out to me… and coincidentally (it seems) Adrian kindly gifted me with two old unopened bottles of Scotch (the beverage) with the explanation, “No one in our family drinks Scotch, and it’s been in the back of the liquor cabinet for decades…” Sweet—we lads just sampled a wee dram or two (the fine “Special Old Reserve 12-Year-Old Single Malt” is now in its mid 30s), and all we can say is Slainte Mhath! (Good Health) and the responding Slainte Mhor! (Great Health). Read Rabbie’s complete works here.

Born January 25th, 1759 in Alloway, Scotland’s most famous poet and favorite native son produced a massive body of work in his short life of 37 years. “Rabbie” Burns’ carousing and his stick-it-to-the-man attitude endeared him to both his contemporaries and to ensuing generations. (Detail of painting by Alexander Nasmyth, 1787).


Love you forever…

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Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba

This is a gift piece of Evelin Richter’s we recently commissioned to celebrate the 40th wedding anniversary of Circle’s coordinator Carol MacKay and her hubby Murray. The generous bowl (250mm Ø x 85mm thrown stoneware with low-fire 04∆ burnished steel glaze, hand-crafted wooden gift box) has a subtle yet perpetual message inscribed around the circumference (you feel it before you see it)— “…Carol loves Murray loves Carol loves Murray….”

Following the inevitable pre-Christmas artisan markets (replete with angel-themed figurines, etc.), Ev is now concentrating on figurative pieces and larger conceptual installations—she still gladly takes commissions however, and can be contacted via coordinates at her website here. View previously posted samples of her work here, and read a backgrounder (4.8 MB PDF re: Ev and her new studio What? Clay Art & Curios) here.


24 January 2008

Why Bembo sucks…

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Wellington, New Zealand

Type design-whiz Kris Sowersby (of KLIM) sent me an e-mail today, referencing an interesting piece he’s written for i love typography. It’s a good read, with some great analogies… useful for anyone interested in today’s best practices regarding letterform and font design. Read his posting here, and an interview with him here.


23 January 2008

Flashback: 1958…

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Frankfurt, (West) Germany

Fifty years ago I was growing up as a third culture kid in Germany. This pic which recently surfaced is of my Kindergarten class in front of our Frankfurt home on Stettenstrasse (I’m the blond kid second from the left wearing the natty bow-tie and jacket) under the über-watchful eye of Tante Henne. It must have been a special day, as we each have a token mascot or doll along (manky Teddy-bear for me) and none of us boys are wearing the habitual Lederhosen as we usually did…


21 January 2008

Thinking of Josef Beuys…

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For some reason, I’ve been thinking about Josef Beuys a lot lately…. I was very influenced by his work and theories (deploying social sculpture to effect freedom, direct democracy, and sustainability) when I first encountered a provocative exhibit of his art at the Basel Kunstmuseum when I was in high school there in the early 1970s. Beuys was a charismatic, controversial figure who energetically championed the healing, transformative power of art and the power of universal human creativity—he was also one of 500 founding members of the Green Party in Germany (he saw the Greens as a reservoir for grassroots initiatives and a platform for social revolution). Josef passed on 22 years ago this week, but his works still pull, and his voice still persuades….

“ART=CAPITAL”

“Art that can not shape society and therefore also can not penetrate the heart questions of society, [and] in the end influence the question of capital, is no art.”

“To make people free is the aim of art, therefore art for me is the science of freedom.”

Cropped details from a portrait by Helnwein, and The Pack (Tate Modern)


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