Thursday, October 22, 2009

Propaganda Strikes Back

In July I wrote a blog post about propaganda. I really love the way old propaganda posters look. And as far as propaganda goes, communists know how to make it look good. I'm sure being a communist has it's ups and downs, but capitalists don't get to be in posters like this:

I'm pretty sure the text at the bottom is translated as, "Communism! Hell yeah!" I'm sure holding a machine gun in front of a huge red star would make me feel pretty fond towards Mother Russia myself.

Here is an example of some capitalism propaganda, for comparison:

There isn't even one machine gun or big red star in this poster. I don't feel united with these people. How can I? Not even one of them is holding a sickle, or clenching their fist above their head.

Anyway, I have stored up a few more propaganda posters, and I think it's been long enough to post a few more. I want no complaints.

1. Propaganda From World War II Allies:

I think the Chinese really had a handle on propaganda. My favorite part about the one on the left is that it doesn't seem to have any major agenda other than just covincing Chinese people that being Chinese is pretty cool. Is being Chinese getting you down? Check out these guys, they're all pretty pumped about it.
I imagine the Chinese writing on the poster to the right says something like, "China: We are making magic potions" or "Women, do your part in the war effort. Invent a magical potion."

Continuing China's currently spotless propaganda record, I like the message this poster is trying to send, which I think is: "China, we've made elaborate costumes for all our children." And last in the category, here is a poster Canada produced when they were trying to rally the cartoon animals from Bedknobs and Broomsticks to fight in World War II. If I was a timid Canadian, this would certainly drive me to enlist, "I was nervous to enlist before, but that was before the anthropomorphic sword-wielding beavers joined the army."

2. Axis World War II Propaganda:
Both of these explain pretty well why the Allies won the war. The Nazi's would have been better prepared for our mainland attack, but they had tailored their defensive strategy to protect solely against the devastating onslaught of the United States' Ku Klux Klan military robot, driven by the commands of one bugling American Indian. Big mistake.
Second, the German's apparently thought U.S. soldiers were vampires. So when actual Allied soldiers showed up, they probably just let them pass, "Oh... no you can go through. We're on the lookout for our vampire enemies." Big mistake.

3. My Current Favorite:
I love the concept behind this poster. Basically this was the U.S. admitting, "You asians all look the same to us." I'm sure after this was printed everyone in America was like, "Oooh... so that's what the Chinese look like!"

Anyway, I hope after looking at these posters you've taken all these viewpoints to heart. If the draft ever returns, you can enter the armed services without fear, knowing that you will be fighting alongside beavers with swords. And that, at least, is comforting.

Final Notes:
- Craig doesn't necessarily agree with any of the propaganda above, except anything produced by the Chinese.
- Here's an optional music video by the Pet Shop Boys that has some nice propaganda looking stuff in it. It also illustrates how all communist-looking propaganda guys look very strong, and the appeal of holding your hand in a fist in unison with a bunch of other people or marching while carrying a red flag with a bunch of strong men wearing white leotards.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

My Oregon Trail Travel Journal

Lately I've been dabbling in Oregon Trail II. I think most people remember playing the classic Oregon Trail in elementary school. Back in the day you would watch your little wagon with two oxen trek across the plains, trying your best to ensure nobody in your party dies.

Oregon Trail II is pretty much the same, except it shows your party crossing the plains with a birds-eye map view, and there are loads of additional options. For example, you don't have to go to Oregon at all. You can go to Salt lake City if you want, or a few cities in California. Plus, the jewel case on Oregon Trail II clearly states that this game is for "Ages 10-Adult". I fit snugly in this category. Anyway, with an intent to travel to Sacramento, my wagon companions and I set out on the Oregon Trail earlier this week.

First of all, who would lead our team? Not me. The last time I appointed myself as wagon master I drove us in a 400 mile circle, and was later fired by the wagon train. (Which is the most embarrassing way to lose Oregon Trail II... I would have much rather the entire group die of diarrhea, and I can only hope they did after they fired me.)

Since I had already failed, I couldn't think of anyone else better equipped to head this trip than Candace Cameron, who starred as DJ on Full House:

With my wagon master position filled, I went about filling the rest of the team.

1. Craig B. - I might be disgraced as a wagon master, but I still have a pretty good handle on when you should clean and dress a wound in the event of a bear attack... which is nearly always... considering your other option is to fill the wound with sulfur.
2. A 14 year-old boy named David - I decided that at least one of the people travelling with us should be an actual pioneer. David fit the bill.
3. Hermione Granger - I was thinking that as long as Hermione Granger was a part of our group, we might be able to expand our options, like so:
Broken Wagon Wheel
- Try to repair it
- Replace it from supplies
- Trade for a replacement
- Ride safely on the back of magical hypogriffs all the way to California
4. Karl Malone -

5. Spawn - It hasn't happened yet, but I anticipate that I'll eventually recieve a notice somewhere along the trail that sounds something like:
The lord of Hell has sent demons to kill you.
- Stop and gather wild fruit
- Caulk the wagon and float
- Have Spawn spitefully send them back to Hell with a bunch of totally bad-a guns

Here is a picture of our team right before heading out on the trail, plus two children who got in the way:

Independence Missouri, April 1852
First of all, oxen apparently only cost $11 in 1852, so I bought 20 of them. I figured that if every part of our wagon broke, we could all resort to mounting an ox and riding him to California individually.

The first challenge of the trip happened seven days and seventy miles away from Independence, when I realized I had failed to buy a gun. So we turned the wagon around, picked one up seven days later, and headed back towards California. At this point I was very happy to not be the wagon master. I'm sure all the wagon train's anger was deflected from me, and onto Candace Cameron.

After reaching Nebraska without too much trouble (besides Spawn getting a bad cold), we discovered an abandoned wagon which we searched for useful items, turning up a ladle. YES! Thank the fools who left their ladle behind! Haha! A ladle was something we had been unable to purchase in Independence, and we would no longer have to experience the extreme suffering caused by crossing the plains without a ladle. Luckily we were able to benefit from the misfortune of some ladle-less idiots somewhere down the trail.

After discovering the ladle, I tried my hand at hunting for the first time on the trail. One very lucky thing about travelling the Oregon Trail is that bears often wander laterally across the open plains of Nebraska. Obviously this isn't a very good simulation of reality, and I think, a downgrade from Oregon Trail I's hunting program which quite a bit more accurately depicts the behavior of wild animals, consisting of running haphazardly through the woods until they run into an object (usually a cactus or rock) forcing them to turn 180 degrees and run the other direction, as wild animals are prone to do. Also, once shot, animals in the original Oregon Trail would roll over on their backs in the same fashion as actual wild deer lie on their backs when shot. Anyone who knows anything about hunting can support what I'm saying.
I soon dispatched two bears, who were practically loafing around, for 300 pounds of meat, but I was only able to carry 186 pounds back to camp. I guess the designers of this game didn't realize that it wouldn't be a challenge for Karl Malone to wrestle both of those bears into submission and rip their arms off, let alone carry them both back to camp.

Suddenly I found our wagon train running into loads of rivers. You have a few options when crossing rivers:
1. You can ford the river, by just forcing your oxen to drive through it
2. You can caulk your wagon, and float it across
3. You can take the ferry or toll bridge if they are available
4. You can hire Indians to help if they are available

I had trusted the indians before, but I feel like every time I hire them to help cross a river my wagon tips over in the water, and without fail I lose my only checkerboard (which I'm always very careful to buy). I don't think this is coincidence. I think the Indians love checkers.

Something you might not know about every river in America is that they are plagued by maelstroms that bounce back and forth between each shore. Should you ever in your life plan to cross an American river, be sure to avoid the maelstroms. Otherwise, your vessel will tip over, and you will lose any checkerboards you have on deck.

We reached Salt Lake City on July 15, 1852. We kept going and soon enough we were crossing the Bear River. Unfortunately, I nearly drowned in the crossing, caught in one of Americas dangerous maelstroms no doubt. In fact, Candace Cameron recorded in her own journal: "July 20 - Craig B. gave us a good scare by coming close to drowning. I decided to continue." This doesn't really surprise me, since the only swimming techniques I have ever mastered are the sidestroke and the elementary backstroke. I'm sure everyone got to shore safely while I was still laying on my back screaming, "Soldier, monkey, plane! Soldier, monkey, plane! Why oh why did I only manage to learn these two very ineffective methods of swimming?!"

Unfortunately, I assume as a result of our difficulty crossing the Bear River, David suffered internal bleeding. Finally, I decided to "Administer laudanum." I have no idea what laudanum is, but it sounds like some sort of medicine. I imagine this is how the actual pioneers handled their injuries:
Pioneer 1 - Hey, David is bleeding internally, what do we have?
Pioneer 2 - Well... uhhh.... we have laudanum, epsom salts, peppermint, or we can increase his activity.
Pioneer 1 - Ummm... well, let's just try the laudanum.

David died a couple days later, but I still stand by my decision to administer laudanum.

Months later we arrived in Sacramento. After settling for a while, I was able to (I assume magically, and with Hermione's help) look into the future of Candace Cameron, which read -

"In 1852, Candace Cameron settled on 688 acres of land along the banks of California’s Sacramento River.
Despite some hardships in the early years, Candace Cameron proved extremely prosperous, steadily acquiring more land and becoming a leader in the growing community.
Regrettably, several of Candace Cameron’s descendants—including a major figure in an early twentieth-century government and business scandal—have managed to tarnish the family’s good name."

I'm not surprised to be honest. After settling for a bit, we turned around and tried to make it back to Salt Lake City (which is something you can apparently do in Oregon Trail II... this was news to me). This trip wasn't quite as successful. The wagon train eventually fired Candace Cameron while we were crossing the Utah Desert... which ironically is where I was fired two weeks ago. I checked out Candace Cameron's journal later, and found there was all kinds of stuff she was keeping from us. Take, for example, her comments on eagles:

April 2 - Saw eagles today near Lone Elm. What majestic creatures!
April 21 - Saw eagles today near Red Vermillion. What majestic creatures!
June 15 - Saw eagles today near North Platte River. What majestic creatures!
July 22 - Saw eagles today near Bear river.What majestic creatures!

I'm totally pissed she didn't tell me about all those times that she saw eagles! What kind of person sees a bunch of eagles, and doesn't tell everyone else?

Worse, Candace Cameron apparently hid some other things from our party:

April 4 - Enjoyed a cup of coffee with Mr. Lumare today at noon near Blue Mound.
July 15 - Mr. Lumare figured we would reach Great Salt Lake City today, and he was right.
October 22 - Mr. and Mrs. Billings came by for a visit today near Big Meadows; had a very nice chat.

Who in the world are these people? I was never told about any of them. This means Candace was either, 1. Insane, or 2. Undermining our wagon trip from the very beginning with these sinister, mysterious people.

It doesn't actually say what happens after the wagon master is fired, but I can only assume she died of diarrhea in the Utah Desert.

Final Note: Don't forget to vote on the new poll! Hot dog!