Saturday, June 29, 2019

Images from old Japanese fireworks catalogs

Click any image to enlarge
The 4th of July is nearly upon us and of course that means fireworks. These images are from CR Brock and Company's early 20th Century catalog of Japanese fireworks. They are from the City of Yokohama library's digital collection and I found them via La boite verte's article De riches catalogues de feux d’artifices japonais en haute resolution.

You can download PDFs of the catalogs from the Yokohama library site. Run the URL though Google Translate Web to be able to find the links to the PDFs.

As an aside my wife, son and I watched a Tokyo fireworks display from our hotel room a few years back. I have no idea what the occasion for the fireworks was, but it was a very impressive show.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Mixing dreams and memories

Two Poor Men Sleeping by Isidre-Nonell  
Monna Innominata [I dream of you, to wake] - Christina Rossetti

I dream of you, to wake: would that I might
Dream of you and not wake but slumber on;
Nor find with dreams the dear companion gone,
As, Summer ended, Summer birds take flight.
In happy dreams I hold you full in night.
I blush again who waking look so wan;
Brighter than sunniest day that ever shone,
In happy dreams your smile makes day of night.
Thus only in a dream we are at one,
Thus only in a dream we give and take
The faith that maketh rich who take or give;
If thus to sleep is sweeter than to wake,
To die were surely sweeter than to live,
Though there be nothing new beneath the sun.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Here there is a bit of money

This is a nicely done video showing the underbelly of Lagos, Nigeria. It has snippets from a variety of people showing a small slice of their lives. It is produced by Al Jazeera if that matters to you.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Meenakshi Amman Temple

Click any image to enlarge
From Atlas Obscura's post Meenakshi Amman Temple:
[T]he temple was built by Tamil Hindus native to southeastern India, and it first appeared in recorded history in the 600s AD. In the 1300s, the sacred structure was ransacked and destroyed by the Muslim general Malik Kafur in a successful attempt to spread Islam to Madurai. It wasn’t until nearly 250 years later, in 1559, that the structure was rebuilt by the first Nayak king of Madurai.

The Meenakshi Amman Temple remains standing today, the tallest tower reaching 170 feet high.
It is amazing how intricate and colorful the statues and decorations are. Actually, a lot of buildings in antiquity were similarly colorful, their pigments have just been lost over time due to neglect.

These pictures, and those after the jump, are gather from here and there on the web. Enjoy.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Between my real life and my dreams

A space cowboy eats ice cream on the Moon
(picture via Shorpy)
Make Believe by John Foster

When I wake up in the morning
Not all is what it seems
I drift through a world of make believe
Between my real life and my dreams.

Strange Adventures from the space book
That I read the night before
Crowd in upon on my drowsiness
Through imagination's door.

Between sleeping and waking
The alarm clock's jangalang cry
Becomes the roaring fire-railed rocket
That hurls me through the sky.

My bed's a silver spacecraft
Which I pilot all alone
Whisp'ring through endless stratospheres
Towards planets still unknown.

Outside through the mists of morning
The spinning lights of cars
In my make-believe space voyage
Become eternities of stars.

Is that my mother calling something
That my dreams can't understand?
Or can it be crackling instructions
From far off Mission Command?

Monday, June 17, 2019

Sparta -- yet another visit to Russian TV Land

Regular readers will know that I frequently act like a monkey when a shiny object is dangled in front of my eyes. That is, I tend to get fixated and head off on tangents from time to time. So, it should be no surprise that after watching and reviewing the Russian TV show Vyzhit Posle, there would be more Russian TV in my future.

Above is an opening scene from the Russian TV series Sparta (available on Netflix). In the foreground is Barkovsky, a new student who is observing his fellow students as they eat lunch in a cafeteria. In the background we see Irina Shorina, a rather frumpily dressed Russian super model, errr… I mean student, who is carrying her tray. Just then a young fellow jumps up, walks over to her, says something snotty and then tears her blouse open.

Wait -- this is high school?

Anyway, he points at her flat chest and makes jokes about it and all the male students, being red blooded Russian boys who wouldn't get caught dead trying to date a flat chested Russian super model, all guffaw in laughter. The girls are also all laughing, strangely unperturbed by a guy ripping open a girl's blouse in the middle of the crowded cafeteria.

Meanwhile Barkovsky seems unamused by it all as he pours salt into his hand, walks up to the bodice tearing hooligan, tosses the salt in his face and then knocks the cad over as he pulls his pants down and then ends it all by throwing a plate full of food into the bounder's face. A scuffle ensues, but it is soon broken up by the Russian lunch lady who runs in and scolds the lot of them. Entertainingly, she completely ignores the Russian super model student with the torn open blouse. Ah, a day in the life of a Russian lunch lady.

The cafeteria scene was a flashback, the show now moves to the present where the bulk of the story takes place. It starts with a young woman teacher apparently committing suicide by jumping out of a 3rd story window at the school.

Enter our hero, Igor Andreevich Kryuko (pictured above), who is a rather odd Russian version of a down on his luck, hard-boiled detective. He also has a suicide in his past -- his wife caught him kanoodling a blonde in his car, went home and promptly jumped to her death. Ironic, aint it? Oh yea, the blonde is now his boss in the precinct they work at.

To complete his character, Igor lives on a house boat, has heart problems, eats a lot of tomatoes, bends paperclips into little figurines and is about the most unobservant detective to ever walk the Earth.

While everybody else concludes the teacher's death is a suicide he decides that a crime was committed so he launches a murder investigation. Hilariously from that point on he spends all -- and I mean all -- of his time lurking around the high school looking for clues. Good thing there are apparently no other crimes in this city.

As he bumbles around conducting his inept investigation we discover that, with the exception of the lunch lady from the above video, virtually all the teachers, staff and students of the school are degenerates in some way, shape or form. We have a parade of liars, petty criminals, sluts, pedophiles and neo-Nazis along with beatings, peepholes in the boy's lockers room, teachers getting roofied, students getting squashed by trucks, Russian mafia goobers, abandoned children, students filmed doing strip teases and more!

Yeeesh, even Mario Cart has better graphics than this clunker
The 'more' being S'Parta, the video game this TV show is named after. The game is presented with the same sort of moral panic Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto generated at one time. The game allows you do whatever you want to, so if the kids play it they are bound to all turn into homicidal maniacs. A corporation, presumably an Eeeeevil corporation, has bribed the school with free computers to install S'Parta in its computer lab. Naturally, all the kids started playing it non-stop and they're turning into homicidal maniacs and worse as a result.

What's funny is the game as shown is a wheezing bore with nothing to do in it and, as you can see from the screen cap above, it has amazingly crappy graphics for this day and age. If I paid $60 on Steam for this monstrosity I would be pretty livid, but the kids all seem to love it.

If I say much more I will be getting too deep into spoiler territory, so I'll leave it at that. Also, the show only had one season so I won't be revisiting it like I did with Vyzhit Posle. Would I recommend it? Well, the filming is gorgeous, but the characters are somewhat flat -- it depends on how curious you are to see what a modern Russian police show looks like.

Finally, in light of the flat chested super model student in the video that started this post, I'll end it with Leningrad's song Tits. It features infidelity, discusses the benefits of breast augmentation surgery, has wise advice from Vladimir Putin, mixes in mention of the Magnitsky Act and reenacts Da Vinci's Last Supper. Be sure to turn on captions if you view it. It is probably NSFW.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

The design and manufacture of beer cans

A detailed look at the making of aluminum cans for drinks. The logic of the design choices are explained well, and the manufacturing process is clearly illustrated. An interesting look at a mundane topic.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Thursday, June 13, 2019

30 days at sea

This is a time lapse of a cargo ship traveling from the Red Sea to Hong Kong. Many years ago I sailed much the same waters, but I was on a warship and I remember the trip as being from east to west.

We had left Hong Kong and were in the Gulf of Tonkin when the Yom Kippur War started. The carrier group I was with pulled out and sailed through the Straits of Malacca and headed first to the Gulf of Oman off the Straits of Hormuz, and eventually south to the Gulf of Aden where my ship, and another destroyer, ran a blockade of the Bab el-Mendab Straits into the Red Sea.

It was hotter than hell and the sky was yellow with wind-blown sand. The Indian Ocean was beautiful.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Ardent in one way or another

Flattery in courtship is the highest insolence, for whilst it pretends to bestow on you more than you deserve, it is watching an opportunity to take from you what you really have. - Sarah Fielding

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Vintage color Scientific American magazine covers

Click any image to enlarge
These covers, and those after the jump, are from the Internet Archive's collection: Scientific American (1845-1909). As well as the covers, the collection allows you to browse the internal pages of the magazines.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

An RC amphibious assualt

I first posted this video in 2013. It is a ferocious storming of a beach by RC amphibious landing craft carrying RC tanks. It seems appropriate, in an odd sort of a way, to run it again on this 75th anniversary of the D-day landings.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Walking through La Recoleta Cemetery

This is a video of a walk through La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is an amazing place full of elaborate above ground vaults and mausoleums. The architecture of them is breath taking, nary a modern looking monstrosity among them. Many well known Argentinians, including Eva Peron, are buried there and it is still in use by notable families.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Courtroom sketches.

Click any image to enlarge
When cameras don't exist in the courtroom, either because they've yet to be invented or they are not permitted, the courtroom sketch artist is the only one to record the trial's scenes. Sometimes the sketch is less an immediate record, and more a recreation of trials long completed. These, and those after the jump, are a few examples of courtroom sketches. They run the gamut from the old-timey witch trials to more current litigation.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Inner workings of an AR-15

For whatever reason machinery always fascinates me. The above video is a detailed animation of the mechanics of loading, firing and ejecting a shell in an AR-15.

The video was found via Knuckledraggin My Life Away's post: The best AR animation video I’ve ever seen. Knuckledraggin' has a lot of interesting posts. I've added a link to the site in the Recommended link list. Give them a visit.