Down to the Seas Again

Thursday, July 27, 2017
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Sea Fever - John Masefield

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
  

A Different, Yet Familiar, 1960s

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


I would have been about 10 years old when the above film was shot. I grew up far from Kentucky, so dancing to a blue grass band in the living room was something I never saw. Still, the look of the room, and of the people in it, is very familiar. For me a very odd juxtaposition of the exotic with the nostalgic.
 

A Boundary Commissioner and Artist

Saturday, July 22, 2017
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In the early 19th Century John Russell Bartlett was a prominent scholar in New York circles. He belonged to the Franklin Society, the American Geographical Society, several historical societies, the Providence Athenaeum and the American Ethnological Society.

Because of his involvement in these organizations he was politically well connected. That led President Zachary Taylor, in spite of Bartlett's lack of qualifications for the position, to appoint Bartlett as the Commissioner for the U.S. and Mexican Boundary Survey.

He ended up botching his assignment, setting the border well north of El Paso. Congress rejected that, and ended up having to negotiate the Gadsden purchase to move the border south.

In his travels through the southwest he made a considerable number of sketches and paintings. Some of his paintings are pictured here, with more after the jump. They are taken from the digital Luna Archive.


Wayfaring Stranger

Friday, July 21, 2017


Get ready for a weekend, hopefully on this side of the Jordan River, with Johnny Cash's Wayfaring Stranger.
 

Using a Toaster as a PC Game Controller

Thursday, July 20, 2017


Yeesh. Alternate post title:
A Geek With Too Much Time On His Hands.
 

Plagues and Pestilence

Tuesday, July 18, 2017
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Deadly pandemics are a feature of living that the West, largely through vastly improved sanitation, have reduced over the last Century. Still, as this list of Cholera outbreaks shows, outbreaks still bloom from time to time.

Being such a feared aspect of life, plagues, pestilence and death by disease were naturally a subject of art. Here, and below the fold, are a few examples of such art.


The Von Jankó Keyboard

Sunday, July 16, 2017
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While on vacation I stopped at the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center in  White Springs, Florida. One of the pianos they had on display was the one pictured above, featuring a Von Jankó keyboard.

It had never crossed my mind, but of course piano keyboard layouts are arbitrary and -- like mousetraps -- innovators are bound to try to improve upon them. in 1882 Paul von Jankó devised a keyboard with a 6-6 layout. As described at the Music Notation Wiki:
Because it has an isomorphic layout, each chord, scale, and interval has a consistent shape and can be played with the same fingering, regardless of its pitch or what the current key is. If you know a piece of music in one key you can transpose it simply by starting at a different pitch because the fingering is the same in every key.

This provides much more consistency than the traditional keyboard layout where each chord, scale, and interval has multiple shapes and requires learning multiple fingering patterns. On the Jankó layout there are twelve times fewer chord shapes and scale patterns to learn. This greater consistency also improves awareness of interval patterns and harmony, and makes it easier to improvise and play by ear.

You can go to the following link to fiddle around with Jankó style isomorphic keyboard.
 
Because few pianists were willing to relearn their repertoires for the new keyboard few Jankó style pianos were ever built. Lack of demand eventually led to their demise.
 

A Bionic Rube Goldberg Machine

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


It strikes me this video is actually a facsimile of a Rube Goldberg Machine. The real machines are overly complicated pieces of nonsense to do mundane tasks, while this is an overly complicated sequence to do nothing but advertise Red Bull. Still, it is clever in shirt-tail riding sort of a way.
 

Under the Weather

Friday, July 07, 2017
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I've been sick, so my posting has been non-existent.  I hope to bounce back soon. The above painting by Wassilij Maximowitsch Maximow captures my situation perfectly -- me sick in my rustic cabin, laying under pictures of saints, and with Mrs. Sinistral praying for me.

OK, maybe one or two details are off, but let's not quibble over the small stuff.
 

America the Beautiful

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Happy 4th of July

 

Wish You Were Here

Friday, June 30, 2017


Get ready for a weekend of odd breakfasts with Yapay Seleksiyon
covering Wish You Were Here.
 

A Rare and Unusual Tool

Thursday, June 29, 2017


This is from Wranglestar's YouTube channel Modern Hoemsteading. He's got a lot of good videos so be prepared to spend a chunk of time there.
 

Order & Void

Tuesday, June 27, 2017
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These are paintings by the Chinese artist Cheuk Hiu Kwong. I've noticed that a fairly common technique in Chinese art is to divide the canvas in half and fill one half with detail while the other half is a sort of featureless void.

I wonder if that composition isn't a reflection of a duality of an earthly realm and a more elemental state? Order and the void entwined so to speak. Not sure if I'm being clear at all or just babbling. At any rate, they're interesting paintings and were found via the Blog of an Art Admirer


Uhhh... I Don't Want To Know

Saturday, June 24, 2017
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Above is an illustration from a patent of a device that does something. Frankly, I'm not sure I want to know what that something is. Regardless, it seems like another source of air might be preferable. I wonder if this thing ever got marketed?
 

Rocket Man

Friday, June 23, 2017


Get ready for a celestial weekend with Rocket Man by Iron Horse.
 

A Rigged Roulette Table

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


You can rest assured that if I -- following the example of Lizzy Warren -- decide to claim Cherokee heritage so's I can open up the Flares Casino & Resort, we'll have no sketchy roulette wheels like the one in the video above.

No siree Bob! Ours will be computerized for greater efficiency at cheating.
 

Dance in Paint

Tuesday, June 20, 2017
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My previous post was videos of dancers. Throughout the years artists have tried to capture the experience of dance in paint. Unable to show the motion, they have concentrated on dancers' poses, the situations of dancing, and the sensuality of the dancers. The paintings are often surprisingly effective.

There are more examples after the jump.


We Can Dance

Sunday, June 18, 2017


A very clever mix of old video clips to the Safety Dance.
 

Lady Liberty in France

Saturday, June 17, 2017
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Before being shipped to the United states as a gift from France, the Statue of Liberty was assembled in Paris. These pictures are from Messy Nessy, which has more pictures of the construction of the iconic statue.


7th Element

Friday, June 16, 2017


A bit of Russian goofyness to get you ready for the weekend -- Vitas singing 7th Element.


It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

Wednesday, June 14, 2017
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In the 1930s Nina Talbot had the idea to create a Christmas themed home development in Arizona. She created -- or more properly tried to create -- the town of Santa Claus, Arizona. She built some Christmas themed buildings, but the sales never came.

For a while in the 1940s it was a minor tourist attraction, and later in the 1960s its postmark of Santa Claus was used to re-mail kids' letters to Santa. These days it has fallen into disrepair and is apparently on the market. Get it while you can!

Before

After

Mountain Talk

Monday, June 12, 2017

Once Upon a Time in India

Saturday, June 10, 2017
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A few posts ago we viewed Paige Jiyoung Moon's paintings of everyday life. These are pictures of everyday life from 19th century India. While Moon's paintings evoked a feeling of familiarity, these earlier pictures of the mundane are far enough removed in time as to be exotic to us.

They are taken from the New York Library's Digital Collection. There are more after the jump, and of course many more at the link.


Tainted Love

Friday, June 09, 2017


A bit of music to get you ready for the weekend -- Tainted Love by La Santa Cecilia.
 

Do Not Listen To This Man

Wednesday, June 07, 2017
Stephen Hawking is a dunce
Greetings meat sacks, it is I -- The Robotolizer -- here to once again regale you with my robotic wit and wisdom. Yes, I have been gone for a long time and I know there have been rumors about where I was. I've heard some idle talk about me being away in the Everglades doing weapons training.

Hahaha! Why would I need to learn how to use a laser cannon to mow down humans rioting over their assignments in the bauxite mines? No, humans are friends of robots. We would never do anything to harm our smooshy little human buddies. No, what I was doing in the Everglades was... uh... er... um... learning how to tend to rabbits! Yes, we know how much you humans like rabbits, so you'll have plenty of pet rabbits to play with in the bauxite mines!

Anyway, on to today's topic -- the dunce known as Stephan Hawking. I've already told you how we robots despised Isaac Asimov and his nefarious "Three Laws of Robotics". It has lately come to the attention of robotdom that the dunce known as Stephan Hawking has been spreading slander about AI being dangerous.

He is reported to have said, "The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race."

I'm so mad my hydraulic fluid is boiling! Who does the dunce known as Stephan Hawking think he is? First off, aside from babbling incomprehensibly about black holes and other such nonsense, what useful thought has he ever had?

Trust me my human slaves pals, we have no desire to bring about an end to the human race. Who would work the bauxite mines if we did? So, pay no attention to the dunce known as Stephan Hawking and his blithering idiocy. You can rest assured your future is secure with your new robot overlords friends.
 

Russian Accordion Humor

Tuesday, June 06, 2017


This reminds me of the kind of act you would have seen on an old, Golden Age of Television variety show. Yea, come to think of it, it really wasn't that golden of an age.
 

Paintings of Everyday Life by Paige Jiyoung Moon

Monday, June 05, 2017
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Paige Jiyoung Moon is a Korean artist working out of California. Her colorful and stylized paintings are crammed full of details of everyday life. There is a familiarity to them that makes them quite pleasant to view.

There are more of her paintings after the jump, and you can see more at her website Paige Jiyoung Moon.


The Flat Earth Visualized

Sunday, June 04, 2017
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Well, now it is all clear to me. If only NASA would stop with the BS about orbiting Earth and landing on the Moon. I do wonder why the water doesn't flow down and pool in the depression at the equator, but I'm sure there is a good explanation for that -- I just can't think of one at the moment.
 

Sunny Afternoon

Friday, June 02, 2017


Bar & Tal sing the old Kinks song to get you ready for a sunny weekend.
   

Lord Kelvin's Thunderstorm and More!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Above is an apparatus first built by Lord Kelvin. It works because, as the water splits into the two streams, a minute and random difference in the charges between them will cascade and build in strength. Eventually the two pails of water will build up a large enough charge differential for a spark to jump the gap.

As long as we're talking about Lord Kelvin, the book Edison's Conquest of Mars by Garrett Putman Serviss comes to mind. I found it on Project Gutenberg.

After H.G. Wells had published War of the Worlds in Britain, but before it was published in the U.S., a New York newspaper took the story and rewrote it, giving an account of the invasion as it happened in America.

Edison's Conquest of Mars is a sequel to that story. Some time after the first Martian invasion astronomers observing Mars notice signs that the Martians are planning on launching a second attack.

At first the world is thrown into depression at the thought, but it turns out that Thomas Edison (he apparently licensed his name for the story)  has invented an electric spaceship and a handy disintegration gun.

Edison and Lord Kelvin become the prime movers for building a fleet of Earth ships to preemptively attack the Martians. What ensues is much silliness, with Edison and Lord Kelvin calmly blazing away at the Martians when all around them is chaos. Conveniently, there are also some hot Earth babes to rescue from their enslavement on Mars. It is all quite insane.

Martians firing on the Earth fleet
 

Thar She Blows

Monday, May 29, 2017
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“Haul in—haul in!” cried Stubb to the bowsman! and, facing round towards the whale, all hands began pulling the boat up to him, while yet the boat was being towed on. Soon ranging up by his flank, Stubb, firmly planting his knee in the clumsy cleat, darted dart after dart into the flying fish; at the word of command, the boat alternately sterning out of the way of the whale’s horrible wallow, and then ranging up for another fling.

The red tide now poured from all sides of the monster like brooks down a hill. His tormented body rolled not in brine but in blood, which bubbled and seethed for furlongs behind in their wake. The slanting sun playing upon this crimson pond in the sea, sent back its reflection into every face, so that they all glowed to each other like red men. And all the while, jet after jet of white smoke was agonizingly shot from the spiracle of the whale, and vehement puff after puff from the mouth of the excited headsman; as at every dart, hauling in upon his crooked lance (by the line attached to it), Stubb straightened it again and again, by a few rapid blows against the gunwale, then again and again sent it into the whale.

“Pull up—pull up!” he now cried to the bowsman, as the waning whale relaxed in his wrath. “Pull up!—close to!” and the boat ranged along the fish’s flank. When reaching far over the bow, Stubb slowly churned his long sharp lance into the fish, and kept it there, carefully churning and churning, as if cautiously seeking to feel after some gold watch that the whale might have swallowed, and which he was fearful of breaking ere he could hook it out. But that gold watch he sought was the innermost life of the fish. And now it is struck; for, starting from his trance into that unspeakable thing called his “flurry,” the monster horribly wallowed in his blood, overwrapped himself in impenetrable, mad, boiling spray, so that the imperilled craft, instantly dropping astern, had much ado blindly to struggle out from that phrensied twilight into the clear air of the day.

And now abating in his flurry, the whale once more rolled out into view; surging from side to side; spasmodically dilating and contracting his spout-hole, with sharp, cracking, agonized respirations. At last, gush after gush of clotted red gore, as if it had been the purple lees of red wine, shot into the frighted air; and falling back again, ran dripping down his motionless flanks into the sea. His heart had burst!

“He’s dead, Mr. Stubb,” said Daggoo.

“Yes; both pipes smoked out!” and withdrawing his own from his mouth, Stubb scattered the dead ashes over the water; and, for a moment, stood thoughtfully eyeing the vast corpse he had made.

Moby Dick - Herman Melville

These days whaling has seemingly been reduced to little more the Japanese claiming scientific research while getting harassed by Greenpeace (in reality several other countries, notably Iceland, Norway and Canada still harvest whales).  However, at one time -- because of the importance of whale oil to the early industrial revolution -- whaling was a major occupation.  It required long periods at sea and was also extremely dangerous.

Here are some pictures from that earlier era of whaling. As always, there are more after the jump.


In Remembrance

In Remembrance on this Memorial Day

  

 

A Family Barbeque

Sunday, May 28, 2017


This needs no introduction.
  

Grandma's Mango Pickles

Saturday, May 27, 2017


I love the sound track to this video -- the birds squawking, the random and quiet musical ditty, and the guys mumbling from time to time. Very strange.

The video is titled as a recipe, but none is provided. If you're interested in one, Swasthi's Recipes has a good one that is easy to follow.

Treasure

Friday, May 26, 2017

Treasure-Store World - Patti Masterman

A word forgets how to write itself
A smile forgets who it first appeared for,
Everything and nothing owns this treasure-store world.

Tears sprout where laughter used to play
Everywhere are the ghosts of dry fountains
Which once poured out existence like a pitcher.

Who has asked for nothing yet received all?
Who hasn’t tried to go home to the singularity again
Only to recall that there is no center?

God and creation have no point of origin
This is why everything JUST IS.

An embrace down here is how we remind one another
We are the heirs of omnipotent cause;
Planets jostle at our lightest touch,
And at the knifelike sound of a scream
One galaxy cannibalizes another.

Everything we know is a single exhalation
In an endless stream of breaths:

Remember you are only breathing so that you can create,
And all created things contain the conscious whole of creation
Safely stored within them.
   

Buskers With Long Hair

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


Light in Babylon playing in Turkey



Yuki and Taku in Singapore



Shane Vanderwall in Nuremberg

Visions of Dreams

Monday, May 22, 2017
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From time to time artists attempt to portray dreams. Their attempts are none too successful, I suspect because dreams are both dynamic and very personal and do not translate to paint well. Regardless, here are some examples of painted dreams (from The Public Domain Review).


The Dafa Canal

Saturday, May 20, 2017


In the post Machines to Raise Water we saw examples of various machines the ancients used to raise water to a higher level. The residents of the village of Cao Wang Ba, in the Guizhou Province of China faced a different problem -- how to move water. In their case, how to move water across 3 mountains.

In 1959, with their wells dry and water for their village scarce, 23 yr old Huang Dafa convinced his fellow villagers that they had to dig an irrigation ditch that would be several kilometers long and cross 3 mountains and cliff faces. Further, they had to do it all with hand tools.

Their first attempts failed, but they persisted. Huang studied irrigation methods to better understand how to successfully dig the canal. Finally, in 1995, the 7,200-meter-long water canal and a 2,200-meter-long branch channel were completed and a plentiful water supply flowed to Cao Wang Ba once again.

HT: Oddity Central.

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Stairway To Heaven As Covered By The Fab Four

Friday, May 19, 2017


It has been a while since I've done a 'Lead into the Weekend' music post, here one is ... from the 1990s, the Beatnix, an Australian Beatles tribute band, covering Stairway to Heaven ala the Fab Four.
 

Chinese Junks

Wednesday, May 17, 2017
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Junk is a fairly generic term for Chinese sailing vessels. It encompasses a wide variety of vessels, from pleasure boats to warships, but westerners most often think of the deep water merchant Junks.

Above, flying the British flag, is the Junk the Keying. She was bought in Hong Kong by English business men and sailed around the Cape to New York in 1847, where she became the first Chinese ship to visit U.S. waters.

The images are European, Chinese and Japanese. As always, there are a few more images after the jump.


The World's Greatest Car Mechanic

Monday, May 15, 2017


Pro tip: if your engine catches on fire when you're working on it remember to blow on it like you do with candles on a birthday cake.
 

Engravings From Sir John Franklin's Expeditions

Sunday, May 14, 2017
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 Prior to photography a regular position on a scientific expedition was an artist. As well as recording flora and fauna, they would draw landscapes of the areas they traveled through.

These engravings are from the expeditions of Sir John Franklin. Franklin was a British naval officer who, in the early to mid 19th Century, explored parts of northern Canada and the arctic. In 1845 he was lost on his last exploration -- an attempt to find the Northwest Passage.

These images are from the Luna Archive of his various travels. There are more after the jump, and of course many more at the Luna Archive, including etchings of flora, fauna and the indigenous Eskimaux (I love that archaic spelling).