Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year

Here's hoping you all have a Happy New Year, and may your New Year's Eve celebrations be free of giant bee attacks and other such calamities.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Thirst & Camaraderie

How Fear Came by Rudyard Kipling

The stream is shrunk--the pool is dry,
And we be comrades, thou and I;
With fevered jowl and dusty flank
Each jostling each along the bank;
And, by one drouthy fear made still,
Forgoing thought of quest or kill.
Now 'neath his dam the fawn may see,
The lean Pack-Wolf as cowed as he,
And the tall buck, unflinching, note
The fangs that tore his father's throat.
The pools are shrunk--the streams are dry,
And we be playmates, thou and I,
Till yonder cloud--Good Hunting!--Loose
The rain that breaks our Water Truce.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The miniature worlds of Tatsuya Tanaka

Click any image to enlarge
Tatsuya Tanaka, a photographer and art director, has an ongoing project called The Calendar Project. In it he creates fascinating miniature scenes -- from the mundane to the fantastic.

These sample were taken from Colossal Art, there are more after the fold, and at either of the 2 links.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Washing dishes

With the holiday feasts over, it is time to wash dishes. Above is a video somebody made by putting a GoPro into a dishwasher. There are a surprising number of videos of the inside of dishwashers. I picked a short one because, well let's be honest here, even by my somewhat sketchy standards these are some pretty damn boring videos.

And of course, if you don't have a dishwashers, you'll want some Lux detergent to be easy on your hands when you wash dishes the old fashioned way.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas

Santa's sleigh seems short on reindeers, but the old guy is magical so's I guess it is OK. Anyhoo ... have a good one all.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

How long will this vile custom last?

The Mistletoe Bough by Francis Wheatley
(click to enlarge)
Above is Francis Wheatley's painting The Mistletoe Bough. It depicts the old holiday tradition of stealing a kiss under a sprig of mistletoe. You can read about the history of mistletoe and how the tradition came about at  Maidens and Manuscripts' post Why do We Kiss Under the Mistletoe?

Considering the recent news of sexual coercion, and the ever expanding #MeToo business, I suspect that eventually in some circles simple flirtation may get swept up in the new Victorianism. I wonder if the mistletoe will survive? Or will it be as scandalous as showing an ankle?

Meanwhile, a poem:

Pick a berry off the mistletoe
For every kiss that’s given.
When the berries have all gone
There’s an end to kissing.

Friday, December 22, 2017

A different Christmas song

Well, if you're tired of Jingle Bells, this aint it. Above is a Japanese Christmas song that mixes up a lot of Christmas tunes, features the bubbly dancing singers in a refrigerator at one point, and repeats the lyric "Santa, Santa, Santa" an lot. Oh, there's also a roast turkey floating around in one scene and the girls also participate in the hallowed Christmas tradition of smashing cakes in each other faces. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

A Dragon Climbing a 17 Story Pink Tower

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Wat Samphran is a Buddhist temple in Thailand famous for a sculpture of a dragon wound around a 17 story pink tower as if it is climbing the structure. Actually, its interior was a staircase, although it is in bad shape these days. There is also a large Buddha statue as well as other huge statues of animals on the grounds.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Making toilet paper rolls

Yet another one of my oddball manufacturing videos. This one from some Chinese company touting their toilet paper rolling machine. The little shop sure is noisy, I wonder what all that pounding was about? Also, it sure seemed like they wasted a lot of tissue loading the machine, but I suppose it is very difficult to work with the large sheets of it.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Panaramic pictures from the past

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These panoramic photos of European cities were taken in the early part of the 20th Century. It is before there were a lot of automobiles, so the streets have an entirely different feel. The pictures are from Le Boite Verte's Europe photos panoramiques anciennes. There are more after the jump, and even more at the link.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Before there were smart phones

This is a 1905 advertisement from the Seattle Independent Telephone Directory selling residential telephone service. It's clearly aimed at women, who apparently wore lacey dresses and Easter bonnets when they spoke on the phone back in the old-timey days. If you can't read the print on the ad, this is what they tout:

Advantages of a residence telephone
  • Makes engagements
  • Invites you friends
  • Friends can call you
  • Does your shopping
  • Reserve theatre tickets
  • Orders your groceries
  • And corrects mistakes
  • Calls the plumber
  • Hastens the delivery of goods
  • Saves letter writing
  • Calls your husband
  • Saves time and steps
  • Runs your errands
  • Calls the doctor
  • Calls the fire department
  • Calls the police

I'm guessing the home phone service wasn't really a hard sell to women, but the issue of it was the cost, which husbands might object to. The bullet points seem like a list of talking points she might use to convince him the phone bill was worth it.

Aside from that I find the active voice odd. The telephone "makes engagements" rather than you "make  engagements". Strange that they make the phone the agent of action rather than the person.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Day of Infamy

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“Before we’re through with them, the Japanese language will be spoken only in Hell.” – Vice Admiral William F. “Bull” Halsey

“I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” – Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Making pencils

In the above video a person makes a pencil using paper, glue and what I think is a mechanical pencil lead. It strikes me as an odd thing to craft. One doesn't think a pencil as being hand made in the old days -- like churning butter, or knitting or whatever. Instead pencils seem to be things that were always manufactured. Beside, I wonder how easy it is to break the lead in the paper tubes? Are they even practical?

At any rate, below is a video of pencil making in a factory. Oddly, it seems more natural to me than the above crafting.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Revenge and Regret

Under Her Dark Veil by Anna Akhmatova

Under her dark veil she wrung her hands.
"Why are you so pale today?"
"Because I made him drink of stinging grief
Until he got drunk on it.
How can I forget? He staggered out,
His mouth twisted in agony.
I ran down not touching the bannister

And caught up with him at the gate.
I cried: 'A joke!
That's all it was. If you leave, I'll die.'
He smiled calmly and grimly
And told me: 'Don't stand here in the wind.'"

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

More sleeping in space

From sleeping on the Moon we move onto sleeping on to sleeping on the ISS. They have much better arrangements than the lunar lander. They have little compartments with a sleeping bag tethered to the wall, a computer they can use for email and whatnot, and a door they can close for privacy and darkness.

One interesting detail -- the air needs to be well circulated or, in the weightlessness, a bubble of exhaled carbon dioxide will form around their heads as they sleep.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Sleeping on the Moon

Amy Shira Teitel of Vintage space has an article, Astronauts
Didn’t Sleep So Well on the Moon
, on the discover website. The above video is a companion to that article. All of the early capsules -- from the Mercury program through Apollo -- were remarkably small and cramped. It always struck me they must have been agony to sit in for days on end, but it never crossed my mind how miserable the sleeping conditions were as well.

Below is an excerpt from her article. Be sure to follow the above link and read it all.
History’s first lunar sleep period came after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon; the original plan called for a sleep period before going outside but excitement prevailed and the EVA was moved up. Once back inside, Armstrong and Aldrin tried to make themselves as comfortable as possible without any beds. As per an early schematic of rest positions, Armstrong lay on the ascent engine cover with his legs in a makeshift sling, his boots under the DSKY, and his head on a flat shelf. Aldrin curled up in a semi-fetal position on the floor — neither could properly stretch out in the tiny spacecraft.

Exacerbating the already uncomfortable setup was their bulky spacesuits; this was NASA’s attempt to keep any dust they tracked back inside after the EVA from behind inhaled. Mission planners also hoped that the buttoned up suits would cut out some of the ambient noise, but it didn’t. All night the glycol water pump whirred. The suits got uncomfortably cold even with the cooling system disconnected. And it was uncomfortably bright. A fair bit of sunlight bled in past the windows shares, and the display lights and illuminated switches only added to the brightness. The crew eventually took off their helmets but nothing really helped. Sleeping in the LM became a battle to find what Armstrong called in the post-flight debriefing “a minimum level of sleeping conditions,” and it was a battle they lost. “The rest period was almost a complete loss,” he said.

Friday, November 24, 2017


Get ready for a Black Friday weekend with Smith & Meyers covering Pearl Jam's Black.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Attitude adjuster for our elites

Reading the headlines lately, I can think of several people that would serve our needs best by retiring from public life and spending several hours a day exercising one of these machines. If nothing else, it sure would beat listening to their insincere apologies.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Sculpture from scaps

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The artist Lydia Ricci makes amazing little sculptures of everyday objects from scraps and bits of trash she's collected. You can see more of her sculptures after the jump, and at her website From Scraps.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Making a bow, arrows and a quiver the old school way

A fellow makes a bow, arrows and a quiver using nothing but a stone axe and a stone chisel. He has much more at his website Primitive Technology.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Some mighty fancy clothes

Click to enlarge
I was looking for pictures for another topic when I ran across the one posted above. I could not pass on using it, so I'll post it in isolation. All I've got to say is the outfits those two young lads are wearing are a sight to behold, and they're rendered all the more ridiculous by how conventionally everybody else is dressed.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Art of the Russo-Japanese War

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The imperial ambitions, in Manchuria and Korea, of both Russia and Japan led to the first modern war between western and Asian militaries forces. It was a bloody war that is largely forgotten today.

Sitting in the interval between the American Civil War and WWI, its battles, on both the land and at sea, featured armies and navies struggling to integrate modern firepower into their tactics and strategies. Russia further suffered from having to fight the war at an enormous distance from its heartland. In the end Russia lost the war to a presumed inferior Asiatic opponent and the path towards WWII's Pacific battles was set.

The artwork from the war is interesting in that it features both European and Japanese styles. The contrast between the two artistic heritages is striking. There are more examples after the jump.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Notte Di Luce (Knights in White Satin)

Get ready for an overwrought weekend with iL Divo's Italian version of Knights in White Satin.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Walking a street in Addis Abba

Another in my series of videos of people just walking down streets in cities. In spite of the relative poverty of the Ethiopian capital, the contrast with the scenes in my last street walk -- Buying street food in Pyongyang, North Korea -- is striking. The north Korean capital, even in a scene that was likely staged, seems very empty and bleak in comparison.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Prior to the rise of motels

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Back in the day, before the era of the automobile, hotels and inns were the main accommodations for travelers. Here, and after the jump, are just a few of those old hotels.

And, as long as we're talking about inns, below is Chapter 16 of Don Quixote, which details his adventures in an inn he imagines to be a castle.
The innkeeper, seeing Don Quixote slung across the ass, asked Sancho what was amiss with him. Sancho answered that it was nothing, only that he had fallen down from a rock and had his ribs a little bruised. The innkeeper had a wife whose disposition was not such as those of her calling commonly have, for she was by nature kind-hearted and felt for the sufferings of her neighbours, so she at once set about tending Don Quixote, and made her young daughter, a very comely girl, help her in taking care of her guest. There was besides in the inn, as servant, an Asturian lass with a broad face, flat poll, and snub nose, blind of one eye and not very sound in the other. The elegance of her shape, to be sure, made up for all her defects; she did not measure seven palms from head to foot, and her shoulders, which overweighted her somewhat, made her contemplate the ground more than she liked. This graceful lass, then, helped the young girl, and the two made up a very bad bed for Don Quixote in a garret that showed evident signs of having formerly served for many years as a straw-loft, in which there was also quartered a carrier whose bed was placed a little beyond our Don Quixote's, and, though only made of the pack-saddles and cloths of his mules, had much the advantage of it, as Don Quixote's consisted simply of four rough boards on two not very even trestles, a mattress, that for thinness might have passed for a quilt, full of pellets which, were they not seen through the rents to be wool, would to the touch have seemed pebbles in hardness, two sheets made of buckler leather, and a coverlet the threads of which anyone that chose might have counted without missing one in the reckoning.

On this accursed bed Don Quixote stretched himself, and the hostess and her daughter soon covered him with plasters from top to toe, while Maritornes- for that was the name of the Asturian- held the light for them, and while plastering him, the hostess, observing how full of wheals Don Quixote was in some places, remarked that this had more the look of blows than of a fall.

It was not blows, Sancho said, but that the rock had many points and projections, and that each of them had left its mark. "Pray, senora," he added, "manage to save some tow, as there will be no want of some one to use it, for my loins too are rather sore."

"Then you must have fallen too," said the hostess.

"I did not fall," said Sancho Panza, "but from the shock I got at seeing my master fall, my body aches so that I feel as if I had had a thousand thwacks."
(continues after the jump)

Friday, November 03, 2017

Monday, October 30, 2017

19th Century Scientific American

These are covers, mainly from the 19th century, of Scientific American. The magazine bills itself as a publication that covers art, science and mechanics, with other subjects occasionally added to the tag line. It is interesting in just how much it does focus on technology, unlike today's Scientific American, which is much more science oriented.

The covers on this page, and those after the jump, are from the Magazine Rack's Scientific American (1845-1909) Collection. If you follow that link you can actually page through the old issues and see all of their content. Be warned, it can be a tremendous time sink.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Friday, October 27, 2017

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Lights of Canopus

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These are illustrations from the 19th century Persian book Anvār-i Suhaylī (Lights of Canopus). It is a translation of a much older Indian work, the Panchatantra. The book is a collection of animal fables.

The illustrations on this page, and after the jump, are from the Public Domain Review. There are more illustrations at that link.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Buying street food in Pyongyang, North Korea

Jaka Parker, an Indonesian variously described as a freelance photographer or embassy employee has a YouTube channel with numerous videos of North Korea. I imagine they are a bit dodgy -- how dodgy I don't know -- but they are still quite interesting.

Even if this video is an attempt to film a Potemkin village, the largely empty streets and line of uniform, green food stalls deliver their own message.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Scandal in the art world

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OK, I can understand a rake like Vincent being in this picture, but Mona? Tsk, tsk, tsk... if she's not careful, she'll be getting earlobes through the mail.

The image is from The Surreal Collages of Barry Kite.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Bird on a Wire

Get ready for an avian weekend with Willie Nelson's cover of the Leonard Cohen classic.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Restored 1928 Rolmonica

I guess you could say an organette (Rolmonica is a brand name) is the harmonica version of a player piano. They were first made in the 1860s and were still being sold in the early part of the 20th century. Rolls were available for all popular songs of the time.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Victorian era exercise equipment

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Ladies and gentlemen of the Victorian era naturally wanted to be physically fit, particularly if they rode trains and might have to fend of a railroad lunatic or two. However, physical labor was for the lower classes, so they needed a rather more civilized and gentile method of exercising.

As the Daily Mail chronicles in their article Inside the Victorian gym, the Swedish physician Dr. Gustav Zander solved their dilemma by inventing numerous exercise machines for use in spas and gyms worldwide.

Pictures here, and after the jump, are some of his machines. There are more, as well as information about Dr. Zander at the above Daily Mail link.