Glass Viruses

Saturday, April 22, 2017
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 Luke Jerram is something called an 'installation artist'. His installations have featured such things as Hot Air balloons floating around playing music, pianos scattered around cities folks could play on, little gold figurines scattered about that people could find and keep, and so forth.

This post is about his Glass Microbiology series of sculptures. Working with scientists and glassblowers, he has created glass sculptures of various diseases. There are more examples of them after the jump and at at the link.

Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen

Thursday, April 20, 2017


A great version of the spiritual by the Dixie Hummingbirds. 
    

LEGO Egg Decorating Machine and More!!!

Saturday, April 15, 2017


If you haven't decorated your Easter eggs yet you can always build one of these handy devices to assist you with the job. From JK Brickworks, which has information about the egg decorator, as well as the Hatching LEGO Eggs (below), and many more LEGO projects.

Sugary Cereals With Prizes Inside

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Brigid at Borepatch's put up the post When Your Cereal Selection is Based on the Prize in the Box - Growing up in the 60's. She looks back at the sugary cereals of her youth and the little toy prizes that came in them. It is a nice trip down memory lane.
My brother and I were raised on the sugar-sweetened joy of the 60's.   My favorite Western RanchHands were Twinkie the Kid and the Hostess Cupcake. We drank Koolaid (Soda Pop was an expense that was only the rarest of treats in my house), or better yet, cold water from the garden hose. We watched TV when we could, but mostly we ran, we jumped, we covered miles of ground on our bikes. TV was a treat, not a weekend-long marathon and the backyard was our empire, one of constant motion. None of us had an ounce of spare flesh on us, we were lean and healthy from all the outdoor playtime.

And our cereal came with prizes in the box. 
Follow the link above and read the whole thing. By the way, speaking of prizes inside, here is a link to an old post of mine about Cracker Jack.
  

Vintage Farm Magazine Covers

Tuesday, April 11, 2017
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 After following the adventures of Farmer Bill and his New Tractor, I decided to look up some old farmer's magazine covers to see what he read. So I went to MagazineArt to see what they were like.

From the titles of the articles, while a few were concentrated mainly on the business of farming, others were more focused on the rural/outdoors lifestyle. Those types had a heavy dose of old style Americana about them. Some also had romance stories, so some must have been aimed primarily at the farm wives. 

There are more samples after the jump, and of course many more at MagazineArt.


The Sounds of Venus

Saturday, April 08, 2017


While the U.S. concentrated on landing probes on Mars, the Soviet Union sent a number of probes to Venus. One of them, Venera 14, had a microphone aboard. Above is a video with a soundtrack from Venera 14.

Not surprisingly the sound isn't all that interesting -- sadly, no outer-space monsters roaring in the background. However, the accompanying images from the surface of Venus are well worth a look.
 

Horseless Farming With Ford Tractors - 1917 Film

Tuesday, April 04, 2017


Little Billy Todd leaves the farm and discovers Ford tractors and true love. The Ford tractor plant seems to be from before assembly lines. And the tractor sure spews a lot of smoke.
 

Old Slot Machines

Saturday, April 01, 2017
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I am not a gambler, so I have no nostalgia for slot machines. Still, I've seen them here and there in my travels and they're always fascinating in their own way. Gaudy and loud as they try to suck coins and/or tokens out of your pockets.

 

Billy Jean

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


Billy Jean covered by Honeywagon
 

Revolver & Camera

Monday, March 27, 2017
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 While modern gun cameras are not unusual, this 1943 version mounted on a Colt 38 is an oddity. This photograph, with an inset of six photos taken by the gun camera, was taken in New York, but nothing else is known about the gun. The picture was posted to Flikr by the National Archives of the Netherlands who hope they can get information about it.
 

The Wintergatan - A Marble Driven Musical Instrument

Thursday, March 23, 2017


Following my post about Pipe Organs, we have another complex musical instrument: the marble driven Wintergatan. While not as imposing as pipe organs, it is still quite impressive (albeit in a silly sort of a way). Above is a video of it in action, and the below two videos show how it works.


Pipe Organs

Sunday, March 19, 2017
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Pipe organs are ancient instruments. The Greeks originally used water to force wind through pipes, but by the 6th Century AD bellows were being used to produce the wind flow for them.

In Christian churches, both visually and through their sound, they became part of the majesty and mystery of religion itself. Their installations were elaborate and quite beautiful.

Here, and after the fold, are some of those installations. Also, since we should hear as well as see the pipe organs, at the end is Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor, Enjoy.


Chuck Berry - No Money Down

Saturday, March 18, 2017


RIP Chuck Berry
 

Chicken Attack

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


Well, this one defies description. All I can say is... watch it to the end and you'll be treated to Japanese chicken yodeling.
  

The Patented Pigeon Camera

Sunday, March 12, 2017
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In the 19th Century, and early 20th Century, homing carrier pigeons were common. They were primarily used to deliver messages, however they they had other uses. In 1903 Dr Julius Neubronner, an apothecary in Germany, used them to deliver medicines to a sanatorium in a nearby city.

He eventually began to experiment with mounting small cameras on the pigeons with shutters on timers that could take pictures while the birds were in flight. He submitted a patent for his first Pigeon Camera in 1907. At first it was rejected. The patent office thought it impossible for the pigeons to carry the weight of the camera, but it was finally approved when he provided pictures they had taken.

His technique became popular when he exhibited his pigeon cameras at the 1909 International Photographic and the International Aviation exhibitions. He would send his pigeons aloft, develop the pictures when they returned and sell them as postcards.

Photography from aircraft soon eclipsed the popularity of Dr Neubronner's pigeon cameras. I wonder what he would think of today's drone mounted cameras?

Sources:  Pigeon photography, Now that's a bird’s eye view.


Finally -- a Realistic Battle Scene in a Movie

Tuesday, March 07, 2017


Man, do these extras chew the scenery in their death scenes, or what?
 

Spanish-American War Graphics

Saturday, March 04, 2017
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 The Spanish-American War has largely faded from America's historical memory, but it was very consequential in the move of the U.S. from a purely continental power to a naval and a 19th century imperial power. The notions of imperial America vs America taking its place at the table of World Powers were batted about at the time. Those conversations still echo in our national dialog.

I started by looking for propaganda posters about the Spanish-American War, but there were very few of them. However, there was a wealth of graphics of battles and editorializing about its aftermath.Enjoy, and as always there are more after the jump.


Starting a 1909 Blackstone Oil Engine

Wednesday, March 01, 2017


The video is from rustymotor's YouTube channel. I quite like the style of filming and the soundtrack that is nothing but the engine's sound.

The comments that introduce it state, "[The] 1909 10HP Blackstone oil engine was used for pumping water from a river to a market garden. The engine was sabotaged in the 1920s by someone blowing up the cylinder with explosives. A new cylinder was installed and the engine was returned to service for a number of years when it eventually fell into disuse. A number of river floodings submerged the engine and it was eventually partially buried in silt. It was recovered in the 1990s and in 1997 it was dismantled, cleaned and started again after many years of neglect. The starting procedure requires heating of the hot bulb with a blow lamp in order to vaporise the fuel ( kerosene ) and to preheat the internal combustion chamber to allow fuel ignition."

Pulp Western Book Covers

Sunday, February 26, 2017
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 These are book covers, from the British Library Collection, of old  19th Century western pulp novels. They are cheap and sensational looking, but they none-the-less  must have established a lot of the tropes and cliches used by later western novels and movies.

I've never read one, I think I'll dig around Project Gutenberg and see if they have a few. I'll post about it if I'm successful. Of course there are more covers after the jump.


Nuclear Powered Bomber Engine.

Friday, February 24, 2017


Early in the Cold War, before rocket power and ICBMs, both the US and Russia experimented with nuclear powered bombers. The idea was the aircraft could stay aloft for days or weeks to deliver a counter-strike should airfields be knocked out early in a war.

Above is a video of portions an American nuclear propulsion system, s well as an early breeder reactor, located in rural Idaho.

Mechanical/Biological

Saturday, February 18, 2017

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Regulars will know I appreciate old scientific illustrations (some are here, here, here and here). As reflected in his work, the Paris based artist Steeven Salvat must appreciate their aesthetics as well. Here is some of his work from his series Mechanical/Biological where he combines the style of 19th century naturalist's drawing of crustaceans exteriors with a mechanic's innards of gears and clockwork.

There are more after the page jump, and much more of his work at his link.


The Clayton Disinfector

Wednesday, February 15, 2017
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When I was young they scared us to death with atomic war. Fallout shelters, mutants, duck-and-cover and all that. Now I've noticed they scare people to death with pandemics. AIDS, bird flu, Ebola -- even a cholera outbreak in Haiti.

Neither world-wide devastation fear has come true yet. In the present epidemics have been largely localized,  but in the past epidemics and plagues were a sad part of life. People of my parents' age spoke of the horrors of polio -- the Saulk vaccine was a miracle to them.

By the end of the 19th century they knew rats and fleas carried disease. They also knew fumigation could help clear contaminated buildings and ships.

A machine used on large spaces was the Clayton Disinfector. It burned sulfur to create fumes, cooled them and then pumped them into the space needed fumigation. It was used on hospitals and other large infected buildings. It was also mounted on tugs to fumigate ships entering harbor (shown in the drawing below).


Inside an Abandoned Copper Mine

Friday, February 10, 2017


The YouTube channel Exploring Abandoned Mines is the creation of a group of fellows who explore old, abandoned mines in the west. It features a lot of videos of various mines. The only knowledge I had of mine interiors was from Hollywood movies, and seeing the real thing was quite surprising.  There are more videos at the link.

African Ceremonial Masks

Monday, February 06, 2017
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"Drums were beating, horns blowing, and people were seen all running in one direction;—the cause was a funeral dance, and I joined the crowd, and soon found myself in the midst of the entertainment. The dancers were most grotesquely got up. About a dozen huge ostrich feathers adorned their helmets; either leopard or the black and white monkey skins were suspended from their shoulders, and a leather tied round the waist covered a large iron bell which was strapped upon the loins of each dancer, like a woman's old-fashioned bustle: this they rung to the time of the dance by jerking their posteriors in the most absurd manner. 

A large crowd got up in this style created an indescribable hubbub, heightened by the blowing of horns and the beating of seven nogaras of various notes. Every dancer wore an antelope's horn suspended round the neck, which he blew occasionally in the height of his excitement. These instruments produced a sound partaking of the braying of a donkey and the screech of an owl. Crowds of men rushed round and round in a sort of "galop infernel," brandishing their lances and iron-headed maces, and keeping tolerably in line five or six deep, following the leader who headed them, dancing backwards. 

The women kept outside the line, dancing a slow stupid step, and screaming a wild and most inharmonious chant; while a long string of young girls and small children, their heads and necks rubbed with red ochre and grease, and prettily ornamented with strings of beads around their loins, kept a very good line, beating the time with their feet, and jingling the numerous iron rings which adorned their ankles to keep time with the drums. One woman attended upon the men, running through the crowd with a gourd full of wood-ashes, handfuls of which she showered over their heads, powdering them like millers; the object of the operation I could not understand. 

The "premiere danseuse" was immensely fat; she had passed the bloom of youth, but, "malgre" her unwieldy state, she kept up the pace to the last, quite unconscious of her general appearance, and absorbed with the excitement of the dance.

These festivities were to be continued in honour of the dead; and as many friends had recently been killed, music and dancing would be in fashion for some weeks."

From The Albert N'Yanza, Great Basin of the Nile by Sir Samuel White Baker (paragraph breaks added). More images after the fold.



A Liberty Ship Sets Sail

Sunday, January 29, 2017


In 2012 the U.S. Battleship Iowa set sail for San Pedro to become a museum ship. Accompanying her on departure was the WWII Liberty ship, the SS Jeremiah O'Brien. This is a short feature of the O'Brien getting underway, with a lot of shots taken inside the engine and boilers rooms showing the O'Brien's old triple-expansion steam engine in operation.
  

Conspiracy Theory Kits

Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Roswell Crash Site
 The Ogilvy & Mather ad agency put together a clever campaign for Tamya, a company that sells plastic models and radio control kits, that featured ads for model kits of popular conspiracy theories. Here, and after the fold, are those kits. You can click any image to enlarge it.

JFK and the Grassy Knoll

The Wonders of Vacuum Tubes

Saturday, January 21, 2017
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Although they've been replaced by transistors and integrated circuits, there was a time when vacuum tubes were a fundamental component of modern electronics. Now exotic, they were common during the first electronic revolution.

Today you can buy hard drives, graphics cards and the like in stores, in the old-timey days vacuum tube testers were readily found in hardware and grocery stores. You could test vacuum tubes and buy their replacements easily, and it was a skill any do-it-yourselfer was expected to have.

Where there are products there is advertising. The problem is they were, like an oil filter in an engine, just a part of a machine, and not a very sexy or graphically interesting part at all. So how to sway consumer dollars?

The vacuum tube ads were pretty straight forward -- either a picture of a tube with copy extolling their virtues, or a their place in the wonders of radio emphasized. Here, and after a the fold, are some old ads that tried to sell what was then a mundane part of electronics.

Source: Duke University Libraries Digital Repository.



So Long. That's All. Goodbye.

Thursday, January 19, 2017


With tomorrow's inauguration looming Bill Haley & Comets' See You Later Alligator springs to mind. Catchy and cheerful tune that fits my mood at the moment.

As an aside, I saw the Comets, I think it was the bassist Al Rapppa's version of the Comets, play in a slightly sketchy local bar. They put on a good show. During the break -- since they were one of the founders of Rock N' Roll I bought them a beer.

Whoo-boy, what a mistake. Talk about best friends forever! There was no getting rid of them and one drink led to another until my wallet was pretty much empty. Still, a good time was had by all and they were nice guys with good stories. In hindsight, I guess it was well worth the money.

I suspect Obama is another guy we'll be unable to get rid of, but our time with him at the table talking about the old days, betwixt lecturing us on what scum we are, will be much less enjoyable.

 
  

The National Joy Smoke

Monday, January 16, 2017
Morgan, in the comments to the previous post, pointed me towards Language Log's post "Just let some joy smoke sift into your system". It is a 1919 ad for Prince Albert tobacco, and the ad copy is absolutely hilarious, featuring such gems as " two-fisted-man-tobacco", "breezing up the pike with your smokethrottle wide open" and "put pep-in-your-smokemotor".

There are several other old Prince Albert ads at the link, and they are equally as entertaining.

The blog itself is a language-centric blog, with a lot of discussion of Chinese, and a lot of entertaining articles on other topics as well. I'll be adding it to our blog roll.


Canadians Control American UFO Technology!

Saturday, January 07, 2017


Above is a video of the VZ-9 Avrocar prototype VTOL aircraft, which resembled a UFO, being built and test flown. The Avrocar was a joint venture between Canada's Avro Aircraft and the U.S. military. Originally it was supposed to be a high speed, high altitude interceptor, but -- as you can see in the video -- it fell far short of that goal.

The video is long, with the test flight portion starting at the 18 minute mark. However, the earlier part is an interesting look at 1950s technology, engineers, machinists, geek styles and so forth.

By the way, the project was finally abandoned in 1961 -- or was it? (Dum-de-dum-dum!)