The Mighty Have Fallen

The logo from 1987 to 2006. "Evolution of...
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I always liked this poem By Percy Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away

It seems somehow appropriate when I read that Kodak may be facing bankruptcy. Kodak, of course, was the innovator in developing photography and its founder George Eastman did for cameras what Henry Ford did for  automobiles. Now, advancing digital technology has made Kodak increasingly obsolete.

The digital revolution has claimed another victim: Reports on Wednesday said that Eastman-Kodak, the venerable film company that pioneered film and cameras as consumer products, may be forced to file for bankruptcy protection in the coming weeks if they cannot sell a trove of digital patents.

Entering Chapter 11 would open a new, and perhaps final, chapter in the company’s long history, which saw it go from a start-up in Rochester, New York, in the late 19th century, to global brand and popular culture icon in the mid-20th century, and then to struggling turnaround candidate in the early 21st century.

The company’s history begins with self-starting tinkerer George Eastman, who saw great potential for the existing technology of capturing images on film. By developing easier to use devices and film, he believed he could turn the camera from a tool of professionals into a plaything for amateurs. “The idea gradually dawned on me,” he later said, “that what we were doing was not merely making dry plates, but that we were starting out to make photography an everyday affair.” His goal, as he later described it, was “to make the camera as convenient as the pencil.”

You mustn’t think that Kodak was one of those companies that refused to change with the times. Kodak proved itself to be eminently adaptable for much of the last century.

Throughout the 20th century, the world of photography was in constant flux. Eastman-Kodak managed to weather several transitions quite well — from mechanical cameras to electric ones, from still photography to video, from black-and-white to color. At each stage, Eastman-Kodak rolled out new products that built on its original, strong market position in old-school still photography

The company didn’t take the digital revolution lying down. But in hindsight, it was almost destined to fall. In the past decade, Eastman-Kodak invested heavily to develop and manufacture digital printers and digital cameras, which it first introduced in 1995. Its products worked. But the company didn’t have a competitive advantage, and it was going up against a lot of tough competitors.

But, the problem is, that cameras are everywhere nowadays. They are in our cellphones, computers, and who knows what else? Who needs an actual camera, except a professional photographer? And, who needs film in this digital age?

I hope that Kodak manages to turn things around, not least because of the people who might lose their jobs. The writer of the article doesn’t seem to be too optimistic.

Dividing China

English: Hu Jintao (born December 1942 ( 1942-...
He's caught on to the plan.

China’s President Hu Jintao is warning his people of the threat of division that Western counties pose to China, especially with our insidious cultural influence.

The West is using cultural means to divide China (PRCH), which needs to be alert to this threat, President Hu Jintao said in a Communist Party magazine.

“International forces are trying to Westernize and divide us by using ideology and culture,” Hu wrote in an article in Qiushi. “We need to realize this and be alert to this danger.”

Many countries, especially Western powers, are attempting to expand their influence through cultural hegemony, and China must deepen and promote its own values of “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” Hu wrote in the article, which was published on the government’s website on Jan 1. China needs to strengthen its cultural values as it faces possible challenges from the West, he said.

Dang. They are onto our plans.

I wonder what brought that on. Maybe the answer is a little further in the article.

Hu’s comments are part of a wider push by the party to reassert its influence over Chinese culture and society, including in television and the arts. China’s leaders are grappling with the best way to manage Twitter-like social-media sites such as Sina Corp (SINA).’s Weibo service that are hard for government censors to control.

The Communist Party’s Central Committee said it will supervise the world’s biggest online community more closely, promote “constructive” websites and punish the spread of “harmful information,” according to a communique from its Oct. 15-18 meeting released by the official Xinhua News Agency.

Members of the party’s Politburo visited web companies after a deadly train crash in July. Internet users criticized the government’s handling of the crash and spread commentary and photos of the accident at odds with the official line.

That explains some of it. It’s that western custom of freedom of speech and actually reporting the news that has him upset. The odd thing is that as China is starting to loosen up, however reluctantly, too many people in our government think that China might be a model to emulate.