Saturday, August 31, 2019

An Illustrated Guide to the Apocalypse from 1047

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In the 8th Century Beatus, a Spanish monk, created an illustrated book of the Apocalypse as described in Revelations. In the ensuing years his work was widely copied. These pictures are from one such copy: the 11th Century manuscript The Beatus de Facundus.

I found them at Flashbak's post Beatus of Facundus : A Vivid Illustrated Guide to the Apocalypse (1047). They are only a small sample, Flashbak has many more (which are also larger), as well as further explanation about them.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Hornussen - a popular Swiss sport

Hornussen is an old and popular Swiss sport. It has been described as a cross between baseball and golf, although that doesn't really capture its play and rules well.

A puck, called the hornuss, is mounted on a rail and driven down field by a player swings a rather odd, long and flexible bat. In the field are players of the opposing team who wield giant rackets to try to knock the hornuss down. If they successfully knock it down the offense scores no points, otherwise one point is awarded if the hornuss travels at least 100 meters, and additional points are awarded for each 10 meters that it travels beyond that.

Teams alternate at bats. Games are said to be leisurely, and skill rather than physical strength is important so a wide range of players can, and do, participate. The below video has an English narration that explains the sport further.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Look at the bright side

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As we all know, it is not a picnic to have to enter the Witness Protection program because you witnessed Guido getting greased in a pizza parlor, That said, its not all doom and gloom either.

Yes, having too change your identity and go into hiding from Mafia hitmen is a strain, but it has its bright sides as well, so cheer up.  Starting a new job, exploring a new neighborhoods and making new friends are just a few of the under appreciated perks of the Witness Protection program.

[Insert cliché about making lemonade from lemons here]. Also, good luck with your new life.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Walking in Suzhou

Today's video is a walk in Suzhou, a city in southeast China. It is rather long, but nicely filmed. It starts out in the backstreets and eventually works its way to a more prosperous district along a scenic river/canal. It is a pleasant looking place, especially along the canal.

The camera work in the video is well done. He frequently pans left or right to look at alleys, side streets, shops and cafes. He'll also stop at intersections and rotate 360 degrees to give you a sense of place.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Playing games

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This is a small series of artwork and photographs of people playing games. They are from the Smithsonian Institutions online archive where there are more examples. If you have the inclination, tear yourself away from a game of computer solitaire and check out the archive.

Friday, August 23, 2019


Get ready for a desperate weekend with Assembly Required and Charlotte Millman.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Deep thoughts or small talk?

Milton visiting Galileo (click to enlarge)
Almost every time we get together with family or friends, the conversation ends up being about food. - Steve Chen 

Monday, August 19, 2019

A minor Cold War drama

Mathias Rust landing at Red Square in 1987 (click to enlarge)
In the spring of 1987, in a rather odd stunt to promote world peace, a young German named Mathias Rust flew a circuitous route from Hamburg to Moscow via Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. When he arrived in Moscow he landed near Red Square. From the Rare Historical Pictures post Mathias Rust, the teenager who flew illegally to Red Square, 1987 (which has more details of Rust's flight):
Around 7:00 p.m. Rust appeared above downtown Moscow. He had initially intended to land in the Kremlin, but changed his mind: he reasoned that landing inside, hidden by the Kremlin walls, would have allowed the KGB to simply arrest him and deny the incident. Therefore, he changed his landing spot to Red Square. Heavy pedestrian traffic did not allow him to land there either, so after circling about the square one more time, he was able to land on a bridge by St. Basil’s Cathedral. After taxiing past the cathedral he stopped about 100 metres (330 ft) from the square, where he was greeted by curious passersby and was asked for autographs. When asked where he was from, he replied “Germany” making the bystanders think he was from East Germany; but when he said West Germany, they were surprised.

Rust was arrested two hours later. He was charged with several violations, the most serious being that he had illegally entered Soviet airspace. Rust argued that he was merely trying to promote world peace. He carried with him copies of a plan he had developed for a worldwide democracy, which he referred to as “Iagonia”. Rust’s trial began in Moscow on 2 September 1987. He was sentenced to four years in a general-regime labor camp for hooliganism, for disregard of aviation laws, and for breaching the Soviet border.
Rust was released early and went on to live an eccentric life. In 1989 he fell in love with a West German nurse, only to land in jail again when he stabbed her when she rejected his advances. He was released after 15 months, converted to Hinduism and was engaged to the daughter of an Indian tea merchant. He got in trouble with the law again in 2001 and 2005. Currently he claims he is an advisor for an Swiss investment bank and is still a peace activist of sorts.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

An old shingle mill in action

Prior to asphalt and other modern materials, wood shingles were widely used on roofs. The above video show an old shingle mill in action as it cuts the old-timey wedge shaped wooden shingles from a log.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Rosie the Riveter, WWI style

Click any image to nelarge
WWII leading to a lot of women in the workforce, personified by Rosie the Riveter, is well known. Less well known is that in WWI a lot of women were also employed in industries. These pictures, and those after the jump, show some of those women on the job.

They are taken from The Public Domain Review's article Women at Work during World War I where there are more.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Showing off

Finnish cavalry stunt from the 1930s
(click to enlarge, from Hippodrome Almaty)
If there hadn't been women we'd still be squatting in a cave eating raw meat, because we made civilization in order to impress our girlfriends. - Orson Welles

Monday, August 12, 2019

Restoring a broken 1880 Martini-Henry target pistol

The above video is from Andre Will Do It, a YouTuber who shows the steps he takes to restore old guns and equipment. There are more of his videos at the link.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

The Wilson House, a mid-20th Century time capsule

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In 1959 Ralph Wilson, owner of Wilsonart a laminate company, designed and built his home. It was his residence as well as a test-bed and model home for his company's products. I imagine modern hipsters drool over it since it is a well preserved example of 1960's interior design. It is quite striking and stylish.

From the Wilsonart webpage:
The Ralph Sr. and Sunny Wilson House represents a hybrid of ranch and modern-style home architecture. The open interiors and U-shaped plan reflect the influence of the California Case Study House - a series of architectural experiments from the early 1940s and 1950s that were offered as better solutions for residential living.

The interiors of the Wilson House feature extensive use of decorative laminates in innovative applications, most of which had never before been seen in the home. The kitchen countertops reveal some of the earliest work in post-forming, a process where laminate is bent and wrapped to form continuous curves from the top to the side edge of the counter. Other applications include laminate clad built-in cabinetry in the kitchen, laundry, and bathrooms—even in the shower! The house also boasts some of the earliest undermount sinks in laminate tops – considered an innovation even today. While these types of installations are commonplace now, they were virtually unheard of in the late 1950s.

The Wilson House was featured in Ralph Wilson Plastics Company advertisements, as well as in the editorial pages of the nation's top trade magazines. It represented an ideal of design for affordable and fashionable residential housing and had a profound influence on future uses of laminate. Today, the house stands as one of the best residential examples of the mid-century modern style in the state of Texas.
There are more images after the jump, as well as more information and pictures at: Wilsonart's The Wilson House,  Mid-centuria's The Wilson House: A Laminate Laboratory and Roadside Wonders' The Wilson Laminate House.

Friday, August 09, 2019

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

A sculptor draws doctors operating

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Barbara Hepworth was a 20th Century English sculptor. Her statues were similar in style to Henry Moore (she was a fellow student with him in her formative years). In 1947 her daughter fell ill and Hepworth ended creating a series of drawings of surgeons at work in the operating theater. Hepworth's comments from Tate's Sculpture and the scalpel:
“In about the middle of 1947, a suggestion was made to me that I might watch an operation in a hospital. I expected that I should dislike it; but from the moment when I entered the operating theatre I became completely absorbed by two things: first, the extraordinary beauty of purpose and co-ordination between human beings all dedicated to the saving of life, and the way that unity of idea and purpose dictated a perfection of concentration, movement, and gesture, and secondly by the way this special grace (grace of mind and body) induced a spontaneous space composition, an articulated and animated kind of abstract sculpture very close to what I had been seeking in my own work.  
From the very first moment I was entirely enthralled by the classic beauty of what I saw there; classic in the sense that architecture and function were perfectly blended and purity of idea and grace of execution were in complete harmony.”
Considering how abstract her sculptures are, it is interesting to see her drawings. It is striking how detailed her faces and hands are, while the rest of the image is barely sketched.

HT: Flashbak.

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Illustrations of every day Japan by Masashi Shimakawa

click any image to enlarge
These pictures, and those after the jump, are by the Japanese artist Masashi Shimakawa. He illustrates scenes of everyday life. His use of color, shadow and light is excellent. I particularly like his night scenes.

You can find more of his work at his website and his Instagram account.

Friday, August 02, 2019

Thursday, August 01, 2019

The illusion of endless cycles

Toilet paper roll, patent: US465588 (click to nelarge)

She’s a manner of speaking. Even the flowers don’t come back, or the green leaves. There are new flowers, new green leaves. There are other beautiful days. Nothing comes back, nothing repeats itself, because everything is real. - Alberto Caeiro