Thursday, December 31, 2020

Happy New Year

I like to think that these two young ladies are in a lifeboat that just escaped from the sinking wreck of the S.S. TwentyTwenty. Hopefully things will improve for them and us. Happy New Year all.


Wednesday, December 30, 2020


During the Cold War the soviets worked on a series of ground effects crafts, called ekranoplans, that were neither ship nor plane, but a hybrid between the two.  

Below, from La Boite Verte, are pictures of the Lu from both today and when it was active. It is a missile firing variant that was the last of the Soviet ekranoplans built.


Thursday, December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas

Nativity by He Qi

Let us keep Christmas beautiful without a thought of greed - Ann Garnett Schultz



I think I would rather get a lump of coal

A Christmas postcard with an illustration of Santa Claus attempting to put a frightened child into his sack of presents. An English legend popular during the Victorian era said that St. Nicholas recruited the Devil to help with his deliveries. Together, they determined which children had been naughty or nice.  - Missouri Historical Society (from Some of the Earliest Christmas Cards Were Morbid and Creepy)


Monday, December 21, 2020

Different Chistmas music

This time of the year I figure people are getting sick of hearing the same Christmas songs over and over, so I head over seas to find different Christmas music for a change of pace. This year, as is often the case with these alternate Christmas music posts, I headed to Japan to see what sort of insanity I could find.

The Japanese celebrate Christmas with all of the trappings -- Christmas trees, Santa, elfs, presents and what-not -- but it is a couples holiday to them, more akin to Valentines Day than anything. That's why in the song above (Christmas? What is that? Is it delicious?) they've changed the lyrics from 'jingle bells' to 'single hell' and the Crayon Pop song below is called Lonely Christmas.

Enjoy them as you go about your pre-Christmas routines and hopefully some of the more energetic ones don't induce seizures while you watch them. Oh, one more warning... you might get the phrase "a winter fairy is melting a snowman" stuck in your head for some odd reason. Just sayin' is all.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Reconstructing sound from a silent video

The technique uses the edges of objects in the video. The idea is they vibrate from the sound waves. The vibrations are too small to have the edges displaced in the pixel resolution of the video, but the edge pixels change in color tone as they vibrate. It is that variation that is tracked to recreate the sounds.

It is a fascinating technique that is actually quite creepy considering the slowly evolving surveillance state some desire. We don't need Big Brother surreptitiously listening as well as watching.


Wednesday, December 16, 2020

A visit to Longyearbyen

 A while back we visited Norilsk, Siberia, the northernmost city of 100,000 people or more. It was a rather grim looking town that existed because of the mining of nearby nickel deposits. Today we'll see the Norwegian town of Longyearbyen, a small settlement of less than 3,000 souls on the island of Svalbard. It is the northernmost town on Earth.

Like Norilsk, mining is its reason for existing, although it is coal, not nickel, that is mined. As you can see, it is also much better tended and maintained, and far more cheery looking, than its Russian counterpart. 


Monday, December 14, 2020

Valery Barykin's faux Soviet pin-ups

Click any image to enlarge

Valery Barykin is a contemporary Russian artist who blends the Soviet era propaganda poster style with Western pinup art from the same period. He says it was from his time in the Soviet Army when he was exposed to both Soviet propaganda posters and Western pin-ups. He blends the two, sometimes as a montage sometimes redrawn, to create his works. In fact, I recognize the one immediately below of the woman in a low cut blouse serving hotdogs as a piece of American art that he repainted.

The information and images are from a post at Все интересное в искусстве и не только (Everything is interesting in art and not only). It has more samples of his work. 

Valery Barykin

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Azerbaijan grilled fish with salad, bread and tea

The video starts with an Azerbaijani couple planting onions and garlic in their garden. They then move to the side of a river where they cook a meal of grilled fish over an open fire, accompanied by bread and a salad. The scenery is spectacular and there is sparse captioning naming the ingredients.


Friday, December 11, 2020

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Mary Michael Shelley's folk art

Click any image to enlarge

Mary Michael Shelley is an artist based out of Ithica New York. As she describes herself on her website:

I'm a folk artist, a painter and a wood carver. My artwork has been described as primitive, traditional, untrained, Americana, whimsical, naïve, eccentric, outsider, visionary or carved craft. I like describing myself as "self-taught", as in self-made, in the great American tradition.

I am best known for my carved folkart paintings of waitresses, diners, animals, cows, farms, sailboats, central New York regional themes, and special order commissions. I work out of my Ithaca, NY studio, in the heart of the Finger Lakes region. I use art to explore and make sense of life events, dreams and emotions, sometimes calling my artwork a "picture diary" or "picture story" ... As an artist I serve up art, just as a waitress serves up food. My goal is to produce a quality piece of art that will survive and please long past my lifetime.

These images, and those after the jump, are from the portfolio on her website. Her pieces are reasonably priced and can be bought online. She also does commissioned works.  

Monday, December 07, 2020

The Day of Infamy

Above is amateur 8mm color film footage taken during the Pearl Harbor attack by Technical Sergeant Harold S. Oberg and his wife Eda. You can read a detailed account of their filming at the Warfare History Network's article Recording the Pearl Harbor Attack.


Saturday, December 05, 2020

Hunting for freedom

Work was always necessary to survive. Then I decided the goal should be to survive without working. But now I have much more work than I had before. Hunting for freedom, I've found the real prison. but at least it's a prison I've chosen for myself.  - Maurizio Cattelan


Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Adventure pulp covers

Click any image to enlarge

These are some old pulp magazine covers from the days when men were men and damsels were all too frequently in distress. These covers, and those after the jump, are from Magazine Art's Adventure Pulp archive. There are many more at the archive.

Monday, November 30, 2020


Teqball is a sport that is a cross between soccer and ping pong. Blending in the need to bounce the ball off the curved Teqball table adds a lot of action so, although it has the strange soccer-like aversion to opposable thumbs, at least it isn't a wheezing bore like soccer is. 

It was developed in Hungary in 22012 and has been gaining in popularity. A summary of its rules are:

  • Teqball can be played with balls used in football, with size five being official and recommended.
  • Teqball can be played by two players (singles game) or by four players (doubles game).
  • Teqball follows a points-based scoring format and is played over a best of three sets, with each set played until a player/team reaches 12 points.
  • The final decisive set must be won by at least a two-point margin.
  • Players must switch sides after each set and the time between two sets must not exceed one minute.
  • In the final decisive set players/teams switch sides at 6/12/18 points reached by the leading team.
  • Points are started with a service, with the player/team having two attempts to complete a successful service.
  • Once the point is in play, the ball must be returned to the opponent’s side onto the table by touching it a maximum of three times (hands and arms cannot be used).
  • In doubles, both players on the team must touch the ball before it is returned.
  • The ball cannot be touched by the same body part consecutively.
  • A player/team cannot return the ball with the same body part consecutively.
  • In the case of an edgeball, the point is to be repeated.
  • Players/teams change service after every four points.
  • While playing, neither the table nor the opponent can be touched.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving

Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ― Marcel Proust


Two different fighting styles

Above is a video with clips of both Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton boxing. The differences in their approach to the humor of the situation is obvious. Chaplin is a trickster, frequently outsmarting his opponent whereas Keaton is a complete stumblebum. 

I've never been a big Chaplin fan, thinking many of his jokes are too cute for their own good. I much prefer Keaton's physical humor -- his getting tangled up in the ropes trying to enter the ring is good example of his work. 


Sunday, November 22, 2020

Japanese fisherman trading cards

Click any image to enlarge

Noriaki Kimura, a government engineer in the Aomori Prefecture in Japan, produces trading cards featuring local fisherman. He takes the pictures and makes the cards which are distributed. From a Sankei News article:

In an attempt to improve the value and popularity of fish caught in the prefecture and promote local sake that matched fish, we created a poster modeled on fishermen in the agency's venture business in FISCAL 2017. In addition, to make it easier to carry, we made business card-sized trading cards, and in December last year, we began distributing them at direct sales fairs in the prefecture, tuna demolition shows, and events in Tokyo. Then, it is said that it got a great popularity from female customers such as "I want it by all means" and "It is cool"

I wonder if they'll ever match the value of a 1909-11 T206 White Border Honus Wagner baseball card? Information and images from Spoon & Tamago's Japanese Fisherman Trading Cards are Getting Kids Excited About the Fishery Industry.


Friday, November 20, 2020

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Buddhist Thangka paintings

Click any image to enlarge

Buddhas, bodhisattvas, Dharma protectors, masters and monks. These images, and those after the jump are from Picryl's Thangkas & Mandalas. There are more at the link.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Veterans Day

The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. - Abraham Lincoln


Sunday, November 08, 2020

Indigenous people of the New World

Click any image to enlarge

This artwork is the European explorers' impressions of the indigenous population of the Americas. These images, and those after the jump, are from the John Carter Brown digitized collection. There are many more at the link, including a large number of black and white etchings. 

Friday, November 06, 2020

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Another million

Click to enlarge

 Above is an ad that was in The Saturday Evening Post on Nov. 2, 1940. Today is Election Day. Once that meant it was the day ballots were cast, now -- thanks to the execrable idea of weeks of early voting -- it just means the last day ballots can be cast (in theory).

Regardless, with the votes in the game changes. Political actions no longer need to be calibrated against votes won or lost, instead there is a different calculus. Keep that in mind as things unfold. 


Sunday, November 01, 2020

The day after

Last night there were Trick-or-Treaters out and about where I live. It was good to see. Of course that means today there will be sugar-addled tykes, smashed pumpkins and spooky decorations to take down.

Historically, the now very secular holiday of Halloween evolved from All Hallows Eve, the day before the actual holiday it marks -- All Saints Day. While overshadowed by its Eve, All Saints Day is still celebrated, with liturgies, visits to graves to place candles and flowers and other local traditions. 

Happy All Saints Day to you all.  


Friday, October 30, 2020

Happy Halloween

Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing,—
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

― William Shakespeare


Angel Of The Morning

Get ready for a transitory weekend with Chip Taylor. 


Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Cooking snake soup

Two stylishly dressed Cambodian sisters prepare, cook and eat some snake soup. There is no translated captioning with the video. Their YouTube site Natural Life TV has an enormous number of videos. If this is the same group they got in trouble a few years ago for skinning and eating some endangered species.


Saturday, October 24, 2020

The needs of others

I feel strangely free at such times. To behave properly is to be always courteous, always clever, and subtle and elegant. But now, when I am so alone, I do not have to be any of these things.

For this moment, I am wholly myself, unshaped by the needs of others, by their dreams or expectations or sensibilities.

But I am also lonely. With no one to shape me, who stands here, watching the moon, or the stars, or the clouds?

― Kij Johnson


Friday, October 23, 2020

Two Of Us

Get ready for a rambling weekend with Runaway Orchestra featuring Sophie Madeleine. 


Sunday, October 18, 2020

Kawanabe Kyōsai's night demons

Click any image to enlarge

Living in the mid 19th century Kawanabe Kyōsai was a Japanese artist during the period when the Country began to transform from a feudal to a modern state. Along with paintings, he created a large number of caricatures, many of them political in nature. These images, and those after the jump, are a series of his night demons images

Kawanabe Kyōsai

Monday, October 12, 2020

Reflections on Columbus Day

Christopher Columbus

As soon as I arrived in the Indies, in the first island which I found, I took some of the natives by force, in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts. And so it was that they soon understood us, and we them, either by speech or by signs, and they have been very serviceable. - Christopher Columbus


Knowledge is not simply another commodity. On the contrary. Knowledge is never used up. It increases by diffusion and grows by dispersion. - Daniel J. Boorstin

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Walking in Norilsk, Siberia

 Situated above the Arctic Circle and with a population of ~175,000 Norilsk is the northern most city of 100,000 or more. The city exists because of large nickel deposits in the area. The mining of the nickel has led to high levels of pollution in the city and surrounding areas.

This video was filmed in the spring. It is raining a bit, and it looks like there is some slush from the melting snow. The city is rather grim looking. The Soviet style block apartments buildings are intentional, they help cut down on the wind cutting through the city.


Friday, October 09, 2020

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Illustrations by Ernst Haeckel

Click any image to enlarge

Ernst Haeckel was a 19th century zoologist. He was an early proponent of Darwinism. However, he did blend elements of Lamarkism into his understanding of natural selection. He also adhered to the idea of the Great Chain of Being. With that in mind he argued against a single human proto-ancestor, and instead argued that each race evolved independently. I'm sure you can guess which race occupied the upper rung in his view of the Chain of Being. Aside from those dodgy views he did offer significant contributions to the science of biology.

These are drawing he did as a naturalist. These, and those after the jump, are from PICRYL's Ernst Haeckel collection. There are many more at that link.

Ernst Haeckel

Monday, October 05, 2020

Clearing the tracks after a derailment

On September 15th of this year a Union Pacific train derailed. This is a time-lapse of the effort to clear the tracks. The two cranes working in tandem to lift the cars and engines is a pretty amazing feat of coordination.


Saturday, October 03, 2020

Math and viewing

Statue of Liberty viewed from her torch

Thomasina: Every week I plot your equations dot for dot, x’s against y’s in all manner of algebraical relation, and every week they draw themselves as commonplace geometry, as if the world of forms were nothing but arcs and angles. God’s truth, Septimus, if there is an equation for a curve like a bell, there must be an equation for one like a bluebell, and if a bluebell, why not a rose? Do we believe nature is written in numbers?

Septimus: We do.

Thomasina: Then why do your shapes describe only the shapes of manufacture?

Septimus: I do not know.

Thomasina: Armed thus, God could only make a cabinet.

— Tom Stoppard, from the play, Acadia (1993), Scene 3, 37


Friday, October 02, 2020

Mad World

 Get ready to cry in your beer this weekend with Mike Massé and Jeff Hall.


Monday, September 28, 2020

Gustav Wunderwald paintings

Click any image to enlarge

Gustav Wunderwald was an early 20th century German painter. He started as a scenery painter and set designer, but at the end of WWI he became a full time painter. His final exhibition was in 1934. After that show the Nazi government, who considered his paintings to be improper, prevented him from selling or exhibiting his work. He died in 1945.   

Self portrait