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Archive for September, 2011

The Alice Behind Wonderland (Book Review)

Friday, September 9th, 2011

The Alice Behind Wonderland

Charles Dodgson (1832-1898), Oxford lecturer and mathematician, was a shy, stuttering and half-deaf amateur photographer at the historic point where Louis Daguerre’s daguerreotype (very late 1830s) and William Henry Fox Talbot’s calotype (early 1840s) developing processes were being pushed aside by Frederick Scott Archer’s wet-plate collodian process (1850s). Where daguerreotype provided the photographer with a clear one-off image the calotype offered the ability to reproduce multiple images. but it lacked the crispness of its alternative. Wet-plate collodian brought photography to the masses and “democratized (sic) Victorian photography” by providing an ability to shoot crisp and clear images that could be printed multiple times.

In 1856, Dodgson, better known to the modern world by his pen name Lewis Carroll, purchased a Thomas Ottewill Registered Double Folding Camera in London. He went on to become a portrait photographer of some note and a small number of those portraits included the girl who inspired his classic work ‘Alice in Wonderland’. This book isn’t about Lewis Carroll the writer; it is about one of a small series of photographs of Alice Lidell. That Alice.

Simon Winchester has taken the famous photographic portrait of six-year-old Alice Liddell as the beggar maid and reconstructed around it a world context. The Alice Behind Wonderland brings Charles Dodgson back to life with fine details about his human relationships and motivations. But you should be aware this isn’t a doting look at Lewis Carroll or his book. In essence, this is a book about photography and Dodgson as a photographer.

If you are interested in the history of photography – or extremely well written history of the era – it’s going to provide you with 100 pages of insight. You’ll have more understanding and appreciation of Alice in Wonderland but don’t for a second think this is a deconstruction of nuance and writing style. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one in small snippets as a coffee table book, much as its form factor appears to incite from the reader.

Free Trade & Australian Manufacturing

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Most Australians have a warped view about this new global game we’ve been playing for the last 40 years. Yes, manufacturing jobs are leaving for better pastures. And no, you can’t have all that ‘cheap stuff’ without paying the piper. Why? Because it’s the game we’ve all brought into – the game of international corporation globalisation.

Free Trade

I won’t spend too much time to explain what GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) and later the WTO (World Trade Organisation) are doing other than to say the objective has been to lower tariff and non-tariff trade barriers. That is to say, the objective is to remove all of those pecuniary and protectionist humps that individual countries have in place to buffer their industries from World trade.

Free Trade is an objective that aims for a level playing field. It works for the rich (we get our shirts made with child labour in India) and it doesn’t necessarily work that well for the poor (who get polluted environments, exploited populations and few of the profits). But that’s the objective: an even competitive playing field lowers the cost of shipping, importing, integrating goods into other societies (lowering import fees, quarantines, country standards and paperwork). That makes cheaper goods for us… and the down side means low skilled jobs in Australian manufacturing (almost a 21st century oxymoron) come under pressure.

Free Trade & Specialisation

To understand why Free Trade is supposed to make everybody richer you might consider a simple example of two people who both make pies and paper pie bags.

The first person is good at making pies and not so good at making bags. The second person is good at making bags but not at making pies. By removing all of the trade barriers between these two people they suddenly realise an opportunity.

  1. If the person who specialises in making pies only made pies they could maximise their production and profits (without having to worry about making pesky pie bags)
  2. If the person who specialised in making pie bags only made pie bags they could also maximise production and profits (not wasting effort and time producing pies).

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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