Robert L. Peters

22 January 2009

National Film Board films… now free online.


Ottawa, Canada

The National Film Board (NFB) of Canada has launched a new project to allow Canadians (and others) to see its films through online streaming, at Part of a $1.3-million project to digitize the NFB’s collection of historic films, the site starts with 700 classics and with plans to add 10 new films a month online (from the archived collection of 15,000+ NFB productions). A great use of our public funds, in my opinion—visit the site here… and enjoy!

21 January 2009

Please say it isn’t true…


Winnipeg, Canada

As if the black ice and freezing fog en route to the office this morning were not disconcerting enough… it also seems I’ve been commuting with Der Führer! Anybody else need a ride (besides Adolf)?

Poster by Weimer Pursell, 1943 [Printed by the Government Printing Office for the Office of Price Administration, NARA Still Picture Branch (NWDNS-188-PP-42]. Find more World War ll propaganda posters here.

19 January 2009

Corporate Connection




Interesting patterns emerge when one begins to map connections…

“What is the connection between 3 celebrities, 35 corporations, 40 subsidiaries and more than 300 brands?
 Global business interests make up a complex network of connections between corporations from around the world. 
Corporate Connection intends to shed light on ‘who owns what’ in the global marketplace and on the intricate nature of the world wide ‘business web.’”—Zohar Manor-Abel describing what started as a student project, here.

Zohar’s map reminds me of the beautifully programmed They Rule, created in 2004 as a starting point for research about powerful individuals and corporations. It “aims to provide a glimpse of some of the relationships of the US ruling class and takes as its focus the boards of some of the most powerful U.S. companies, which share many of the same directors. Some individuals sit on 5, 6 or 7 of the top 500 companies. It allows users to browse through these interlocking directories and run searches on the boards and companies. A user can save a map of connections complete with their annotations and email links to these maps to others.” Check it out here.

(thanks for the link to Zohar’s map, Gregor)

16 January 2009

Shigeo Fukuda | 1932-2009


Tokyo, Japan

It’s been a very sad day… I have just learned that the great graphic sensei, Shigeo Fukuda, has passed on. Japan’s consummate visual communicator, Fukuda-San is known around the world as a playful prankster, a modern-day Escher, and an imaginative creator who “dramatically shattered cultural and linguistic barriers with his universally recognizable style.” Perhaps Alan Fletcher described him the best (in Masters of the 20th Century): “Shigeo Fukuda is a star in the design firmament—on second thought, maybe he’s more of a comet.” Fukuda-San—there’s no doubt that you’ll continue to light up our heaven…

Image: Shigeo Fukuda alongside his famous poster titled ‘Victory 1945,’ a bitingly satirical commentary on the senselessness of war. 

13 January 2009

Twenty years ago…


…in Durban, South Africa (remember apartheid?). Though the road may seem long and winding at times, many of us still hope for an end to racism—in every corner of the global village.

12 January 2009

Behind the wall…




The Gaza Strip

A headline in today’s New York Times states: “Few in U.S. See Jazeera’s Coverage of Gaza War.” In a conflict where Western news media have been largely prevented from reporting from Gaza because of restrictions imposed by the Israeli military, Al Jazeera suddenly has had a distinct advantage—it was already there with six reporters in Gaza (two working for Al Jazeera English and four working for the much larger and more popular Arabic version of the network). Well, a valuable alternate source for news and opinion (from an Arab point of view) is now readily available to anyone at

I am very bothered by what’s happening in Gaza. It’s somewhat predictable, very troubling, yet not inevitable that the oppressed become oppressors (just as abused children often but not always become child abusers themselves—if they are unable to break the chain of violence). As Israel’s war in Gaza intensifies, it’s also not surprising to see the increased frequency of shock-value comparisons drawn in the media and the blogosphere between the plight of Gaza’s Palestinians today and the horrors experienced by Polish Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto and ensuing Holocaust nearly 70 years ago. (When) will we ever learn?

Political cartoons by Carlos Latuff

9 January 2009

Wind & Sun… my favourite fable.



I don’t recall my exact age at the time, but I know I was very young when I first heard Æsop’s fable of the Wind & Sun from my pacifist father (a gentle but firm man who served as a conscientious objector during the Second World War). The simple tale offered a compelling allegory re: the “exercise of power” that has stuck with me throughout my life (and may also bear more literal responsibility for my ongoing interest in passive solar energy). The gist of the parable goes like this…

Once upon a time, high in the heavens, a dispute arose between the Wind and the Sun as to which was the more powerful of the two. The Wind (always a blow-hard) challenged the Sun to a contest that could resolve once and for all who was the stronger. Looking down, the two could see a lone Traveler making his way across the land—it was agreed that whichever would be the first to strip the man of his cloak should be accounted the victor.

The Wind began, and blew with all its might with blasts as cold and fierce as a Thracian storm; but (of course) the stronger and more furiously the Wind blew, the closer the Traveler wrapped his cloak around him, and the more tightly he grasped it with his hands. Finally, exhausted, the Wind gave up in despair.

Then the Sun (which had been hiding behind a cloud) came out and simply shone with warmth and brightness—in almost no time at all the Traveler felt the genial warmth, took off his cloak, and cast it on the ground.

Thus the Sun was declared the victor, and it has ever since been deemed that “persuasion is better than force”—and the sunshine of a kind and gentle manner is more efficacious than the force of blustering authority.

More tales at The Æsop for Children with illustrations by Milo Winter, here.

8 January 2009

10 easy steps to create a suicide bomber…


Here’s freedom to him who would speak,
Here’s freedom to him who would write,
For there’s non(e) ever feared that the truth should be heard,
Save he who the truth would indict.  

—Robert Burns.

(image: a poster from Don’t Say You Didn’t Know)

Gaza, stop the madness.


Tel Aviv, Israel

(posters by the inimitable David Tartakover)

5 January 2009

A thought for 2009…


(from friend Chaz Maviyane-Davies)

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