Sunday, May 09, 2021

Practical use of a jetpack

These videos are just too cool. An English company called Gravity Industries build and markets what they call jet suits, and man -- aside from any practical uses they may have -- do they look fun.

Immediately below is a video of a guy being trained to use one of the suits. I don't know, but it all looks dangerous to me. The intersection of a bug and a car's windshield come to mind. With that thought in mind, the last video is from the 1991 film The Rocketeer.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Warwick Goble's illustrations of fairy tales

Click any image to enlarge

Warwick Goble was an illustrator of children's books and fairy tales who worked in the late 19th/early 20th century. He is known for his Japanese and Indian styles. It is obvious that he, like many artists in the 19th century, was heavily influenced by Japanese prints. 

I gathered these images, and those after the jump, of his work from here and there. Artpassion's Warwick Goble Art Gallery has many more examples of his work.  

Sunday, May 02, 2021

Cooking a Tatar meal with a wood fired oven

Some women fire up an old wood oven in a Bashkir-Tatar village, I'm not certain, but I think it is in Bashkortostan which is in the south of Central Russia just north of Kazakhstan. They use it to cook öçpoçmaq (echpochmak), which is a Tatar pastry stuffed with meat, onions and potatoes. The video is subtitled, so you can follow the cheerful conversation of the women. 


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The well dressed Turk, circa 1865

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These watercolors from the 19th century show clothes that were current fashions in the Ottoman empire. The works, likely a copy from earlier paintings, were given to Tsar Alexander III when he was a young man as part of his education. 

Theses images, and those after the jump, are from Public Domain's post 19th-Century Album of Ottoman Fashion, which has more examples, as well as a discussion of how Ottoman fashions influenced European dress and costumes back in the day. 

Monday, April 26, 2021

16 Tons


I used to do a regular series of posts called Monday morning, start of the work week blues. This post is not a return to that, but when I stumbled across the above version of the song popularized by Tennessee Ernie Ford it reminded me of that old series. The song certainly would have fit.

16 Tons was written by Merle Travis, who came from a coal mining family. From Wikipedia: "The line 'You load sixteen tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt' came from a letter written by Travis's brother John. Another line came from their father, a coal miner, who would say: 'I can't afford to die. I owe my soul to the company store.'"

Below are the lyrics to the song. Have a Happy Monday morning worker bees.

Some people say a man is made outta mud
A poor man's made outta muscle and blood
Muscle and blood and skin and bones
A mind that's a-weak and a back that's strong

You load 16 tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
St. Peter don't you call me, 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

I was born one mornin' when the sun didn't shine
I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine
I loaded 16 tons of number nine coal
And the straw boss said, "Well, a-bless my soul"

You load 16 tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
St. Peter don't you call me, 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

I was born one mornin', it was drizzlin' rain
Fightin' and trouble are my middle name
I was raised in the canebrake by an ol' mama lion
Can't no high toned woman make me walk the line

You load 16 tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
St. Peter don't you call me, 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

If you see me comin', better step aside
A lotta men didn't, a lotta men died
One fist of iron, the other of steel
If the right one don't get you
Then the left one will

You load 16 tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
St. Peter don't you call me, 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Night ride on a tram in Lisbon

There are a number of YouTube videos about the trams in Lisbon. I like this night ride. However, the videos shot during the give a better idea of of how these trams operate in traffic. It is interesting how the tram lines are worked into the narrow, twisty roads that were laid out in an older Lisbon. Of course, modern cars are a further complication.


Monday, April 19, 2021

That empty space

Getsuya Sansui by Hashimoto Gahō

Now’s the time to close the outer door to yearning - Ryu Shiva

In order to forget the world,
I went up to the mountain
But the water is flowing down
Toward the world
Like there is something to toss
As though there is something that must be tossed
I alone am going up the mountain

Like there is something to fill
As though there is an empty place that needs to be filled
The water keeps going down
To the world below

Now is the time to close the outer door to yearning
To close my eyes,
To go inside myself
To gaze at the sparkling water
Undulating in that empty space.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Printing Kalamkari patterns on fabric

Kalamkari is a method of dying patterns onto fabrics. In its original form the patterns were hand painted on using natural dyes. However, the patterns can also be added, as demonstrated in the above video, by block printing. In the video it was impressive how quickly the stencils were aligned to apply the two different dyes to the pattern.

Utsavpedia's article Kalamkari explains the history and steps needed to create the fabric artwork. If you want to buy some of the fabric, you can search Duckduckgo and find many suppliers. Below are some examples of earlier and more elaborate Kalamkari pieces.

Click any image to enlarge

Sunday, April 11, 2021

The nocturnal paintings of John Atkinson Grimshaw

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John Atkinson Grimshaw was a Victorian painter who is best known for his atmospheric landscape paintings lit only by moonlight and gas lamps. He was a self-taught artist. Also a photographer he used a camera obscura to project his scenes and get the perspective correct. During his life he was criticized for that, although one of his many admirers was the American Artist James Whistler, who admired Grimshaw's use of color and shadow. 

At the above Grimshaw link there are more examples of his work, including some daylight painting as well as a few rather goofy fairy paintings that were so beloved by the English Victorians. 

John Atkinson Grimshaw

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Walking in Buenos Aires

The video starts out in the Librería Grand Splendid, an amazing looking bookstore in an old theater. After a brief tour of it, the walker moves to the streets of a business district in downtown Buenos Aires. Some nice old buildings mixed in.


Monday, April 05, 2021

The awakening

Click to enlarge

The Barbarian hopes — and that is the mark of him, that he can have his cake and eat it too. He will consume what civilization has slowly produced after generations of selection and effort, but he will not be at pains to replace such goods, nor indeed has he a comprehension of the virtue that has brought them into being. Discipline seems to him irrational, on which account he is ever marveling that civilization, should have offended him with priests and soldiers.... In a word, the Barbarian is discoverable everywhere in this, that he cannot make: that he can befog and destroy but that he cannot sustain; and of every Barbarian in the decline or peril of every civilization exactly that has been true.

We sit by and watch the barbarian. We tolerate him in the long stretches of peace, we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence; his comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creed refreshes us; we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond, and on these faces there are no smiles.

― Hilaire Belloc


Saturday, April 03, 2021

Happy Easter


Above is an old-timey Victorian Easter card. I'm not sure what the connection between Easter and gentlemen rabbits dueling while mounted on chickens is, but I'm sure there is a good reason for it all. Or maybe not. Regardless, have a good Easter.


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

An encounter in the Kuiper belt

Arrokoth is a small object, measuring 22 miles long by 12 miles wide and 6 miles thick, which orbits in the Kuiper belt beyond the orbit of Neptune. It was discovered while the New Horizons space craft was already in flight. New Horizons was redirected to pass within ~2200 miles of Arrokoth to photograph and measure it. 

Arrokoth appears to be two small globular objects that collided at a slow speed and eventually fused together. It is the most distant celestial object yet visited by humans. 


Sunday, March 28, 2021

Kitchen designs from the late 1940s

Click any image to enlarge

In the U.S., at the end of WWII, there was fear that with the winding down of war production the economy might revert to the stagnation of the Great Depression. In fact, with all the returning soldiers and sailors looking for work, there was inflation and a recession in 1946-47. However, the post-war economy soon roared back to life. Part of it was the long pent up desires of the American public, part of it was the effects of the GI Bill (Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944) easing the soldiers' transition back into civilian life.

In the post war years, along with a baby boom, came a housing boom thanks to the low cost mortgages provided by the GI Bill. There was also a change in building methods during this period, with much more prefabrication and cookie-cutter design, as any visit to a WWII era suburb will attest. 

These images, from Vintage Everyday's 30 Beautiful American Kitchens From the 1940s, show how kitchens for the new homes were imagined and advertised. There are more at the link.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Local Japanese restaurants

These are videos of small, neighborhood udon/soba (noodle) restaurants in Japan. The captions have been translated into English, turn them on to read them. 

If you ended up in one of these places, ordering would be an adventure. Once, in Taipei, my wife and I landed in a place with the menu in nothing but Chinese (it didn't have the usual pictures). We just randomly pointed at things on the menu. The waiter looked at us like we were nuts, but a wonderful meal was delivered. We figured he just ignored our pointing and served us something sane instead. Hopefully, that's what these places would do if you dined in one.

The videos are from the YouTube channel Japanese Udon Soba. There are many more there. 

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Worlds within worlds

Vivian Maier self portrait

Mirror - Sylvia Plath

I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful‚
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.

Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.


Friday, March 19, 2021


Get ready for a pocket picked weekend with Vocaloid Girls/The Strawberry Feel.


Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Queen City Ink

Click any image to enlarge

These are a series of advertisements made for the Queen City Printing Ink Company at the beginning of the 20th Century. They were done to highlight the companies ink colors and type faces. Their simple and bold design is the work of Augustus L. Jansson who, along with creating ads, was a cartoonist and greeting card designer. 

His striking and simple style isn't quite yet Art Deco, but it certainly anticipates it. Many of these images are from his Ink Beasts Parade series of ads.

These works, and those after the jump, are from the Public Domain Review's Augustus Jansson’s Queen City Ink Adverts (1903–1907). There are more at the link.  

Augustus L. Jansson

Saturday, March 13, 2021

On the water in Burma

This video starts out in a small market. We then board a water taxi and travel down a river, through a small town where we refuel, and then eventually onto the open waters of a lake. It looks like it would be pleasant day trip. 

In my title I called the country Burma, the film-maker called it Myanmar. So which is correct? It is actually been known by both names. The British, during their colonial rule, settled on Burma as its official name. After independence the country's name was changed several times. It was a military junta that changed it to Myanmar, with the US, UK and a few other countries not recognizing the junta's mandate for such a name change and still calling it Burma. Read What’s in a Name: Burma or Myanmar? if you're interested in further details on the back and forth of the country's name changes.


Friday, March 12, 2021

Sunday, March 07, 2021

Silent movie posters

Click any image to enlarge

These are movie posters of silent films from the 1920s. Between their goofily maudlin stories and the sensibilities of that time, I'm sure they have oodles of PC sins oozing from them. Much less being green lit to be made, I wonder if they could even be viewed in these days of neo-Victorianism?

The posters are from Go to Cinema! at the PICRYL archives. There are more examples after the jump, and even more at the link.     

Friday, March 05, 2021

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Playing cards from the 16th and 17th centuries

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These images are of playing cards from the 16th and 17th centuries. I believe they are all of the face of the cards, I would be curious to see if their backs are highly decorative. The suits and card values seem to be the same as modern cards. 

These images, and those after the jump, are from the Paris Musées digital collection. There are more at the link, you can also download zips of each card which contain the card's image as well as a PDF with further information. The PDF is in French.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

He must be an awful dope

Sailor Boy Bill goes on shore leave with a cocky attitude and seven months pay on him. He meets a friendly young lady in a bar and gets drunk. What could possible go wrong?


Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Walking at the Pak Khlong Flower Market

The walk starts in a regular market in Bangkok, Thailand and the moves to the part of the market that sells flowers. I half expected to see Chompoo, Peun, Prim, Foon and Art, but it looked like it was early in the morning so maybe they were sleeping off one of their benders at Go's bar.

OK, enough of my stupid jokes. It was filmed in December of 2020. The mask usage seems to be fairly random.


Sunday, February 21, 2021

The delivery of meaning

Images from Messy Nessy 
(click any image to enlarge)

The newest computer can merely compound, at speed, the oldest problem in the relations between human beings, and in the end the communicator will be confronted with the old problem, of what to say and how to say it. - Edward R. Murrow


'It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. Of course the great wastage is in the verbs and adjectives, but there are hundreds of nouns that can be got rid of as well. It isn't only the synonyms; there are also the antonyms. After all, what justification is there for a word which is simply the opposite of some other word? A word contains its opposite in itself. Take "good", for instance. If you have a word like "good", what need is there for a word like "bad"? "Ungood" will do just as well -- better, because it's an exact opposite, which the other is not. Or again, if you want a stronger version of "good", what sense is there in having a whole string of vague useless words like "excellent" and "splendid" and all the rest of them? "Plusgood" covers the meaning, or "doubleplusgood" if you want something stronger still. Of course we use those forms already. but in the final version of Newspeak there'll be nothing else. In the end the whole notion of goodness and badness will be covered by only six words -- in reality, only one word. Don't you see the beauty of that, Winston? It was B.B.'s idea originally, of course,' he added as an afterthought.

A sort of vapid eagerness flitted across Winston's face at the mention of Big Brother. Nevertheless Syme immediately detected a certain lack of enthusiasm.

'You haven't a real appreciation of Newspeak, Winston,' he said almost sadly. 'Even when you write it you're still thinking in Oldspeak. I've read some of those pieces that you write in the Times occasionally. They're good enough, but they're translations. In your heart you'd prefer to stick to Oldspeak, with all its vagueness and its useless shades of meaning. You don't grasp the beauty of the destruction of words. Do you know that Newspeak is the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year?'

Winston did know that, of course. He smiled, sympathetically he hoped, not trusting himself to speak. Syme bit off another fragment of the dark-coloured bread, chewed it briefly, and went on:

'Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed, will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. Already, in the Eleventh Edition, we're not far from that point. But the process will still be continuing long after you and I are dead. Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. Even now, of course, there's no reason or excuse for committing thoughtcrime. It's merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control. But in the end there won't be any need even for that. The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect. Newspeak is Ingsoc and Ingsoc is Newspeak,' he added with a sort of mystical satisfaction. 'Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?' 

- George Orwell

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Apocalypse and miracles

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These images are from the Book of Miracles, a German early Renaissance work that shows various miracles, natural disasters and visions of the apocalypse drawn from Biblical sources and legends. There are more examples after the jump.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Korean sword dancing

A while back I did a post on Cossack sword dancing. Today we follow that post up with some Korean sword dancing. Above is a video of young ladies from Chungnam Arts High School doing a sword dance. Their swords are no where near as long and dangerous looking as the Cossack swords, but the costuming and choreography is very nice. 

Korean sword dances are called Geom-mu(검무). All the examples of Korean sword dancing I saw featured women; I'm not sure what the story behind that is. The dances appear to be more formalized and theatrical than the Cossack dances. Below are a couple of other examples of Korean sword dances.

Friday, February 12, 2021


Get ready for a match made in heaven weekend with WORLD ORDER and SKE48.


Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Welding in space

The above video explains cold welding, a process in which two surfaces of the same metal can adhere to each other in a vacuum. This of course can cause problems in satellites and other space vehicles. The video offers a nice demonstration of how cold welding occurs and discusses some of the issues it causes in the space programs and their solutions. 


Sunday, February 07, 2021

Walter Molino's art of disaster

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Walter Molino was a 20th century illustrator and caricaturist. He did the cover art for Italian magazines that featured lurid tales of disaster. His over the top illustrations teasing the stories, most of which actually had happy endings, are quite striking and entertaining. 

(HT Flashbak and

Walter Molino by Joe Zattere