Sunday, 18 October 2009

The Van Gogh Letter Sketches.

'This magnificent new edition of the complete Van Gogh letters is a celebration not only of a great artist but of art itself. Through six large volumes of more than 900 letters, meticulously annotated and accompanied by a wealth of illustrations, we are allowed to follow the painter's progress through a long and at times painful apprenticeship to ultimate artistic triumph.'

A Vintage Christmas Carol.

' "The Works Progress Administration in Ohio presents the Federal Theatre for youth in 'A Christmas Carol.'" This poster for the Federal Theatre Project presentation of "A Christmas Carol" was created between 1936 and 1941.'

See America: 1939.

'From 1939 and Alexander Dux, a Works Progress Administration/Federal Art Project poster promoting tourism.'

Dorothy Parker: 1938.

'August 4, 1938. Washington, D.C. "Miss Dorothy Parker has been selected as Miss Washington and will compete for the title of Miss America at the Atlantic City beauty pageant to be held during Labor Day week. 18 Years old, she weighs 112 pounds and is 5 feet, 4 inches in height.'

Bathing Beauties: 1919.

'Washington, D.C., 1919. "Beauty contests at Tidal Basin." Two spectators check out the ladies. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative.'

Traditional vs. Simplified Chinese Characters.

Very interesting.

Pro :- the simplified Chinese character set makes literacy much much more accessible (which was surely the intention with its proponents in the PRC committed to, in simple terms, breaking the tyranny of the mandarins who ran China for centuries).

Con :- it also cuts out a large part of China's literary heritage (which is really the flipside of 'pro' - unlike other societies, China was in large part traditionally run by scholars - not nobles, priests, or soldiers - and cutting off people from their heritage was a big part of the dark side of the legacy of the revolution).

Mainland China uses simplified characters, Taiwan uses traditional characters.

Interesting discussion :-

The 'No True Scotsman' Fallacy.

'Imagine Hamish McDonald, a Scotsman, sitting down with his Glasgow Morning Herald and seeing an article about how the "Brighton Sex Maniac Strikes Again." Hamish is shocked and declares that "No Scotsman would do such a thing." The next day he sits down to read his Glasgow Morning Herald again and this time finds an article about an Aberdeen man whose brutal actions make the Brighton sex maniac seem almost gentlemanly. This fact shows that Hamish was wrong in his opinion but is he going to admit this? Not likely. This time he says, "No true Scotsman would do such a thing." '

Anatomy of Japanese Folk Monsters.

'Yōkai Daizukai, an illustrated guide to yōkai authored by manga artist Shigeru Mizuki, features a collection of cutaway diagrams showing the anatomy of 85 traditional monsters from Japanese folklore (which also appear in Mizuki’s GeGeGe no Kitarō anime/manga). Here are a few illustrations from the book.'

The Accrington Pals.

'This site is dedicated to the memory of the 11th (Service) Battalion (Accrington) East Lancashire Regiment, better known as the Accrington Pals. '

During World War I, it was common for groups of British young men from the same village, factory or street to sign up to war together as a group of 'pals'. Thus, during the Battle of the Somme and other offensives, entire communities were disproportionately affected as 'Pals' Regiments' were devastated.

Another famous 'Pals' Regiment' was the Grimsby Chums ( ), which was practically wiped out.

More on Pals' Regiments:

Martin Gardner, Mathemagician.

The Allied Merchant Navy.

'The 30,000 men of the British Merchant Navy (one-fifth of its pre-war strength) who fell victim to the U-boats between 1939 and 1945, the majority drowned or killed by exposure on the cruel North Atlantic sea*, were quite as certainly front-line warriors as the guardsmen and fighter pilots to whom they ferried the necessities of combat. Neither they nor their American, Dutch, Norwegian, or Greek fellow mariners wore uniform and few have any memorial. They stood nevertheless between the Wehrmacht and the domination of the world.'
- John Keegan.

The Sami.

'The BBC has captured footage of golden eagles hunting reindeer calves in northern Finland, confirming Sami reports. For more about the Sami, you can watch this series of videos, which cover a wide range of subjects, among them the language, arts and crafts, religion and music. And here is more about Sami reindeer folklore. '

Britain Punches Above Its Weight.

'This comes down to the UK's ludicrous self-esteem problem. They ran the world for 100+ years, lost their Empire, lost the sea to the US, and has had to cozy up to their hated European rivals as part of the EU. And yet, they still have a major economy, their standard of living is at or near an all-time high, and while they may be caught between being the 51st state and just another province of Brussels, they still hold sway on the world stage and will for decades to come... '

That's because poms like whingeing as much as seppos like boasting.

Lego Version of Kinkaku-ji (Japanese Temple).

Symphony of Science - 'We Are All Connected' (ft. Sagan, Feynman, deGrasse Tyson & Bill Nye).

Eleanor Powell: Dance me to the End of Love.

Stormy Weather.

Fred Astaire once called this performance "the greatest dance number ever filmed."

Colossal Sea Monster.

Roadside Art Online: Tiny Design.

'Sea Foods: In the universe of graphical matchbook covers, this represents one of the most primitive designs I've seen. Aside from the oddly proportion bather, the scroll behind her, the four dots along its bottom, and the barebones typography all combine to make this a masterpiece of a sort...'

The Tudor Pattern Book.

'The present work, Bodleian MS. Ashmole 1504 ('The Tudor Pattern Book'), is unique in the sense that it is part-bestiary, part-herbal and an important visual record of early cultivated plants. It was produced in East Anglia in about 1520 and its twin (known as the 'Helmingham Herbal and Bestiary' and perhaps a little older than the Ashmole variant) is now part of the Yale Center for British Art in Virginia.'

Kuan Yin, Compassionate Rebel.

Buddhist art.

BLICKFANG: The Eyecatching Covers of Weimar Berlin.

'I feature here twenty-five book covers and posters from the out-of-print book Blickfang: Bucheinbände und Schutzumschläge Berliner Verlage 1919 - 1933 (Holstein, 2005), ISBN 9783000147869.'

Dino Buzzati's 'Poem Strip'

'These incredible images come from Dino Buzzati's Poem Strip, just out from NYRB Classics (translated by Marina Harss, with lettering by Rich Tommaso). Daniel Handler provides an accurate description of the book in his blurb: "I think I stumbled upon this on late-night TV when I was a kid: Donovan, playing himself, wandering through a neo-Caligari lava-lamp world of writhing Barbara Steeles and Sophia Lorens in search of love and justice and groove. I'm happy to see it's on again."'

Alexeieff's 'Queen of Spades'.

Illustration. 'All images by Alexander Alexeieff for Pushkin's The Queen of Spades (London, Blackamore Press, 1923).'

Beach Buggy: 1905.

'The Jersey Shore circa 1905. "At Atlantic City." In the background: Clabby's baths on the boardwalk. Detroit Publishing Co. glass negative.'

Boat Club Rowers: 1919.

'September 20, 1919. "Potomac Boat Club eight." On the river at the old Aqueduct Bridge. National Photo Company Collection glass negative.'

Hendrick Motor Co.: 1928.

'Takoma Park, Maryland, circa 1928. "Hendrick Motor Co., Carroll Avenue." National Photo Company Collection glass negative.'

Astro Pics.

Pleiades and Stardust.

Herschel Views the Milky Way.

Galaxies in Pegasus.

Querying the Hive Mind.

'If you only had one year left before moving out of New York City, what would you make sure to see and do before leaving?'

Ah, how appropriate.

'What are different cultures' versions of comfort foods that are prepared for people who are sick and feeling under the weather?'

'By the beard of Zeus! I'm looking for fantastic exclamations!'

Crime and Punishment.

'Photos around the theme of Crime and Punishment in the first half of the 20th century.'

Flowering Plants by Anne Pratt.

'"The Flowering Plants, Grasses, Sedges, And Ferns Of Great Britain, And Their Allies The Club Mosses, Pepperworts And Horsetails" - By Anne Pratt (1806 - 1893). Volumes Two, Five & Six. First published in five volumes between 1855-1866. A sixth volume was added in 1873. This edition about 1870.'

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Letters of Note.

'I was ready to sink into the earth with shame' : - a Tang Dynasty official apologises for getting drunk and swearing.

'The things I saw beggar description' : - Eisenhower describes a German concentration camp at liberation.

'I miss my brother' : - an English orphan working on an Australian farm in 1922.

'Okay, you lazy b1tch' : - Hunter S. Thompson is upset with a producer.

'The word God is the product of human weakness' : - Einstein writes to a philosopher.

'From your Daddy and pal always' : - an Australian POW writes to his son.

'Most of you steal your software' : - Bill Gates is upset with pirates.

'My dear little one day old baby' : - a mother writes.

A love letter in code :

'You are a decoration, you little witch! : - Mark Twain writes to a 9-year-old fan.

A witty thankyou from Marilyn Monroe :

Patrick Stewart: the legacy of domestic violence.

'As a child, the actor regularly saw his father hit his mother. Here he describes how the horrors of his childhood remained with him in his adult life'.


'"Gargoyles (in the strict sense) are carvings on the outside of buildings designed to direct water from the roof away from the base of the walls... ...Some gargoyles are undecorated but many are zoomorphic or anthropomorphic - often very imaginative and/or grotesque. This has led to the term 'gargoyle' being applied more widely to any grotesque carving in medieval buildings." (from Bob Trubshaw, posting in BritArch archives, 23Feb1999)

Strange Visions of Kuniyoshi.

'From wikipedia: "Utagawa Kuniyoshi (Japanese: 歌川国芳) (1797-1861) was one of the last great masters of the Japanese ukiyo-e style of woodblock prints and painting and belonged to the Utagawa school."...'

Illustrator Josef Lada.

Czech painter and writer.

Radio Days, 1938.

'Washington, D.C., circa 1938. "Dancing class, WRC studio." Smile for the microphone, girls. '

Anarchist Art.

'Anarchism has long had an association with the arts, particularly in music and literature. It shares these traits with other political movements, such as socialism, communism, liberalism, libertarianism and even fascism...'

Marikamba Temple.

'The temple of goddess Marikamba in the town of Sirsi is a splendid example of syncretic evolution of tribal and so called brahminical customs and rituals, befitting Hindu ethos.'

Zinc, Arkansas, 1935.

' October 1935. "Among the few remaining inhabitants of Zinc, Arkansas, deserted mining town... Per Wikipedia, the place still exists. It is home to 76 people and a KKK headquarters."'

Les Fleurs Animees.

'The delightful caprice of JJ Grandville's imaginative - and posthumously published - series of flower illustrations ensured that 'Les Fleurs Animées' was popularly received in 1847 and reissued and translated many times.'

Pictures of Bacteria.

'This site features an extensive collection of photographs of Bacteria, Microbes, Biofilms, and Bacterial Colonies.'

The Mechanical Man of the Future (1928).

'On December 9, 1928 The Ogden Standard-Examiner (Ogden City, Utah), along with many other papers, ran a syndicated story about the mechanical man of the future. Much like the insistence that giant robots would soon fight our wars, this article clearly must be taken with a grain of salt.'

Querying the Hive Mind.

'How many calories are in the average human brain? As in, if you were to eat a brain zombie style, how many calories would that represent?'

'Why is it that I seem to instinctively prefer houses from the late-19th or early 20th century to post-war architecture?'

'When somebody is paying a bunch of craftsmen to build them a house they hope will be in their family for 100 years, things come out a bit differently than when they are paying Toll Brothers the lowest possible price for a house for them to live in till the GE Accelerated Executive Program causes them to move again in the next three years...'

An explanation of sign language syntax.

'Why do people hate math and science so much?'

Astro Pics.

Earth and Moon from Mars.

Orion Deep Field.

Storm Alley on Saturn.

Uncle Joss Ambler's Life in the Movies.

'My late uncle, Joss Ambler, was an actor in English movies and T.V. from 1937 to 1958. Sadly, he died in 1959 at the age of 60. This set is a tribute to his life and work. He usually played small character roles. I hope to display posters and memorabilia for the roughly 60 movies he had a part in. I hope to also find some photographs of him, but until I do, I will include photos of stars he worked with and screen shots from his movies. He was married to my Auntie Reenie. They lived in London.'

Traditional Japan.

Navratri Hindu Festival, Jersey City.

More :

Flickr's Diwali Pool.

Article about

' "Essentially, this is my gift to the world," he said. "I don't want it to go away if I die. People consider it a world treasure." ... '

Jim and Jack, 1943.

Forgotten NY: Wall Street and South Ferry.

'The Wall Street station's ceramic plaques depict the defensive wall set up by the Dutch in the approximate location of today's titular street to protect New Amsterdam, or New Netherland, against any Indian tribes or enemy British who may have wanted to invade. A Dutch house, typical with its stepped roof line, can be seen in the background, with trees resembling cedars on each side. Accompanying each plaque is a stylized letter W. The plaque was produced by Rookwood Pottery. The Cincinnati pottery, instituted by Maria Longworth Nichols in 1880, was the first female-owned manufacturing company in the USA and is still going strong today. '

Tokyo Architecture.

Black Hmong Life.

'Black Hmong People from Sapa. A mountainous Northern region of Vietnam. Photos taken 2005-2007.'


Unusual dolls. 'My little happy hujoo! named Mimz it just seemed to fit!'

Thursday, 8 October 2009

12 Essential Rules to Live More Like a Zen Monk.

Rule 1 - do one thing at a time.

Art for Housewives.

Everyday art for good.

Map of Australian Aboriginal Cultures and Languages.

The Aboriginal Memorial.

'The Aboriginal Memorial is an installation of 200 hollow log coffins from Central Arnhem Land. It commemorates all the indigenous people who, since 1788, have lost their lives defending their land. The artists who created this installation intended that it be located in a public place where it could be preserved for future generations. '

Kodo - Irodori.

Japanese Ghost Paintings.

'These scans come from the book Japanese Ghost Paintings: The Sanyutei Encho Collection at Zensho-an (Perikansha Publishing, 1995), ISBN: 4-48315-0887-X. (In Japanese, with some basic info and abstracts in English.)'

Indra's Ratha in Melakkadambur, a Chola Masterpiece.

A remarkable temple. 'It is one of the least known treasures of South Indian art. Hidden in the isolated village of Melakkadambur, the Amritagateshvara temple is unique for its sculpture, its architecture and its astronomical significance.'

Cathedral Architecture of Western Europe.

Lots of images. 'Many cathedrals are among the most renowned works of architecture on the planet. These include Notre Dame de Paris, Milan Cathedral, Cologne Cathedral, Salisbury Cathedral, Barcelona Cathedral and many more.'

Bell Labs in the 1960s.

'In the late '60's I worked for Bell Labs for a few years managing a data center and developing an ultra high speed information retrieval system. It was the days of beehive hair on the women and big mainframe computers. One day I took a camera to work and shot the pictures below. I had a great staff, mostly women except for the programmers who were all men. For some reason only one of them was around for the pictures that day. '

Japanese Town Logos.

'Japanese town logos — official symbols designed to communicate the identity of each municipality — come in a vast array of shapes and colors. Many of these municipal symbols incorporate typographical elements (particularly kanji, hiragana, katakana, and Roman letters) into their designs. In most cases, the stylized characters are straightforward and easy to spot (even if you don’t read Japanese), but sometimes you have to bend your eyes to see them.'

History of Hot Air Ballooning.

The Leonardo of Wermsdorg: Technical Illustrations by Karl Hans (Joachim) Janke.

'Have you heard of Janke before? No? Well then stop reading here and go and have a look through his portfolio of nearly 3,500 drawings/documents that Deutsche Fotothek uploaded in the last couple of months.'

Weird Islands.

'Mad Art Nouveau fantasy illustrations by the Belgian artist, Jean de Bosschère, from his 1921 book, 'Weird Islands', available from the Internet Archive in various formats. '

The Life of the Dead.

An illustrated poem.

'The Life of the Dead (1933) is a collaboration between American poet Laura Riding Jackson and British painter John Aldridge. It is a product of the intense period when Riding and her partner Robert Graves were at the centre of a small community of expatriates in Deyá, Mallorca, busily writing and running their own Seizin Press...'

Astro Pics.

Stars over Easter Island.

Double-Ringed Basin on Mercury.

Lagoon Nebula.

Red Moon Triple.

Querying the Hive Mind.

'What are your picks for melancholy, lonely, time-stopping and heartachingly beautiful songs?'

'What well-designed, yet inexpensive, possessions are you fond of?'

'What is the most important scientific question of our time?'

'Asking for a friend: What questions should he ask Richard Dawkins during a radio interview?'

'I like biographies of ordinary/non-famous people with interesting stories to tell, or stories from before they became notable. Can anyone recommend any?'

'I have absolutely no comprehension whatsoever of how fiber optic cables can transmit information -- phone calls, emails, whatever -- by using light. Seriously, this makes no sense. Please explain it to me as if I'm a fifth-grader who makes decent grades in science class.'

'Are we too old to trick or treat?'

Duluth, Minnesota, 1905.

Shiny Datsun, 1971.

Dead Confederate Soldier, 1865.

The Millennium Dome.

'Photographs taken around the Millennium Dome (now known as The O2), North Greenwich peninsula, London, 2000 - 2008 '

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Japanese Magic Lantern Slides.

'The University of Hawaii at Manoa hosts an online collection of about 1,500 magic lantern slides created in the 1930s and distributed around the world to educate people about Japan. Here are a few.'

Photos of the Abandoned Pilgrim State Asylum, NY.

Creepy and interesting.

A brief history :

The Abandoned Peoria State Asylum, Illinois.


'Crepypasta are short stories designed to unnerve, disturb, elicit a negative emotional response from, and scare the reader...' Many examples.

Sentenced Home.

Cambodians in America, and back in Cambodia again.

'After escaping the long war and the Khmer Rouge genocide, hundreds of Cambodian refugees reached safety in America, only to wind up, decades later, deported to a land many never even knew. Isolated and ill equipped to fit into society, they form a strange sub-culture in one of the world's poorest countries, turned into a human dumping ground in yet another shameful sidebar to America's relentless search for Homeland Security.'

Nightmares and sleep paralysis.

'Common images are bearded, goblin-like demons laughing or whispering sinister speech, a faceless girl (usually covering her face with hair, moving around in bed moaning and feeling my body), hands appearing from the wall and attempting to strangle me. A hung man talking in the corner of the room, and some of the most bizarre experiences may include up to a dozen 'critter' entities (think Gremlins movie) laughing and talking about me...'

Henry Fuseli's 'The Nightmare' :

Japanese Antique Bicycle Gallery.

The Stroud Pound.

A new currency in Stroud, Gloucestershire.

The Illustrated Story of Copyright.

'In this book, I trace the story of copyright from its adoption in this country over 210 years ago through the headline issues posed by the Internet and the digitizing of creative works. Using sidebars and photographs to illustrate the major turning points, I try to explain copyright straightforwardly enough so that teenagers can understand it, and in enough detail to help inform even those who are already familiar with the basics. '

Astro Pics.

Saturn at Equinox.

Carina Pillar and Jets.

To Fly Free in Space.

Oxford Circus X-Crossing.

Iran: Art in protest.

Anne Frank: The only existing film images.

'July 22 1941. The girl next door is getting married. Anne Frank is leaning out of the window of her house in Amsterdam to get a good look at the bride and groom. '

Nazi film found in English church.

'A film found in the storeroom of a church in rural Devon, made by Nazi officers showing them laughing and joking on a verandah, enjoying coffee and cake with female companions. '

David Attenborough: Life in the undergrowth.

'Sir David Attenborough introduces the amazing world of insects and all other small animals that shape our planet and colonise the world.'

Interview with a Buddhist priest.

Kodo drummers.

'Magic Flute' (Queen of the Night aria).

'Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, "The Magic Flute" - Royal Opera House production Diana Damrau as Queen of Night Dorothea Röschmann as Pamina conducted by Colin Davis '

Querying the Hive Mind.

'Help! My door knob is stuck and I'm trapped in my room!'

'What can some people do that other people can't do? What can some see that others can't?'

'Is there a way to tweak my personal psychology so that I perceive failure and rejection as neutral or even positive, rather than negative, events?'

Avatars of Vishnu.

Some really nice images.

A Short History of the Wheelbarrow.

Native American Sites in the City of Philadelphia.

Turkish Costumes.

'This 17th century album, simply entitled 'Turkish Costumes', is hosted by the Digital Library of Poland '

Book Covers from Poland.

Blinky Bill and Friends.

A cute koala in old Australian children's books.

'Dorothy Wall (1894-1942) completed some artistic training in her native New Zealand before emigrating to Australia in 1914 where she quickly obtained work as a commercial graphic artist. It is no little coincidence that another contemporary childrens book artist, the more famous May Gibbs, had also come to Australia at about the same time. Gibbs' work at least partly inspired Wall (and others) to move from the calendar, card and advertising industry into children's book illustration.'

Mexican Vintage Ads.

The Armageddon Flowchart.

Theatres on Postcards.

'CARTHALIA shows my collection of old and new postcards of exterior and interior views of theatres of all times worldwide. The web site does not yet feature the entire collection - "black" text in the menu on the left means that I have not yet scanned my postcard(s) of that theatre. However, you can already have a look at over 4300 images of over 1900 buildings in 100 countries. '

American Environmental Photographs 1891-1936.