Wednesday, 25 November 2009

'The reverse side also has a reverse side.'

Japanese Prints.

'SESSHU'S LONG SCROLL is the masterwork of the 15th-century artist whom Japan honors as her greatest. Famed not only as a painter but also as a Zen priest and a great traveler, Sesshu found inspiration for his wonderful landscapes both in China and Japan. This magnificent scroll, which pictures the procession of the seasons, is essentially religious painting with a strong atmosphere of Zen Buddhism. Nature, rather than man, is dominant, although the human touch is charmingly evident from time to time.'

'One can take this fascinating Zen landscape journey again and again, and always find new delights along the way.'

'Here Be Dragons'.

'Hadji Muhiddin Piri Ibn Hadji Mehmed, ( 1465–1554/5) was an Ottoman-Turkish Admiral, Privateer, Geographer and Cartographer more commonly known as Piri Reis. In 1521 he finished his Kitab-I Bahriye or Book of Navigation This is an exquisite C17th - C18th revised and expanded version.'

Margaret and Helen's Thanksgiving Letter to the Family.

'This year I am thankful to have you as my family rather than a normal American family. I say that because Sarah Palin is fond of talking about her family being a normal American family.'

Astro Pics.

Annapurna Star Trails.

Ancient Layered Hills on Mars.

Enceladus Venting.

Crescent Earth.

Milky Way Panorama.

Faith, Science, and the Flood.

'Faith and reason, usually jostling for primacy over one another, unite on this map to describe [t]he Earth-sphere after the Deluge in its broken state, shown with Mountains and valleys, great Sea-Bosom and Islands and Shallows of the same. The map was produced for Willem and Jan Goeree’s (1) immensely popular book Introductions to Biblical Knowledge (2), and apparently is based on a similar hemisphere map illustrating Thomas Burnet’s Sacred History of the World (3).'

Flowcharting 'The Lord of the Rings'.

'Equally delightful, if not as yet as iconic, is this flow chart of Lord of the Rings. It charts the itinerary of the story’s main characters, individually and in group, showing when they meet, separate and rejoin each other. The progression is from left to right, not only in tune with the traditional (Western) reading direction but also mirroring the trajectory in the story itself, which starts in the Shire on Middle-Earth’s western edge and leads to Mordor in the east.'

Light and Shadows of a Shattered City.

Kabul photo-essay.

The World Calendar.

'The World Calendar is a proposed reform of the Gregorian calendar created by Elisabeth Achelis of Brooklyn, New York in 1930.'

The Sugar House, El Paso, Texas.

'Started in 1973 by Rufino Loya, a retired Levi Strauss worker, it has been growing ever since. The inspiration for the house was a promise he made to his wife that he would make something beautiful for her. Drawing from memories of the churches he saw growing up in Mexico he created a magical corner of the world in El Paso - an oasis of beauty sitting incongruously beside Highway 54. It's a true labour of love...'

Victorian Toilets, Rothesay.

'The gentlemen’s toilets in Rothesay are a veritable palace of public convenience. Described by Lucinda Lambton, architectural historian and well known cludgie connoisseur as “jewels in the sanitarian’s crown”, they are one of the finest examples of late Victorian lavatories left in the UK.'

Variations of Green.

Tallulah Bankhead.

'My recently acquired copy of Tallulah Bankhead's autobiography (which looks as if it's still in print) turns out to be an ideal winter evening read. She describes her notoriously rackety life with total insouciance: "Let's face it, my dears, I have been tight as a tick! Fried as a mink! Stiff as a goat!" "I've rejoiced in considerable dalliance, and have no regrets... I found no surprises in the Kinsey Report." ...'

The Report from Iron Mountain.

'The Report From Iron Mountain is a book, published in 1967 (during the Johnson Administration) by Dial Press, that states that it is the report of a government panel. The book includes the claim that it was authored by a Special Study Group of fifteen men whose identities were to remain secret, and that it was not intended to be made public. The best selling book purportedly details the analyses and conclusions of a government panel that states that war, or a credible substitute for war, is necessary for governments to maintain power. Report from Iron Mountain was on the New York Times bestseller list and was translated into fifteen different languages. Controversy exists concerning whether the book is the result of a hoax authored by Leonard Lewin or the real result of a secret government panel.'

Drinking in Ancient Karnataka.

'Drinking was undertaken leisurely, with a method under pleasing surrounding and decorated pavilions. Goddess of wine (Madhudevate) was invoked and the Mother Earth was propitiated. Draughts of liquor were put on the head (as mark of respect). Then it was poured into artistically shaped bowls with bird heads and carved from mother pearls, beautiful shells etc. and offered to elders. Then it was turn of youngsters to help themselves. '

Food and drinks in medieval Karnataka:

Christmas in Buffalo, 1910.

Soviet Storefronts.

'In Soviet times there were no privately owned shops. All the outlets belonged to the state and were managed according the general trading rules from the Federal center. You could meet absolutely same design of two shops in two totally different cities. Storefronts were often also identical. Like these ones on those photos, back from the Soviet times: '

The Discordian Calendar.

'Yün Kiang, rambling to the east, having been borne along on a gentle breeze, suddenly encountered Hung Mung, who was rambling about, slapping his buttocks and hopping like a bird. Amazed at the sight, Yün Kiang stood reverentially, and said to the other, 'Venerable Sir, who are you? and why are you doing this ?' Hung Mung went on slapping his buttocks and hopping like a bird, but replied, 'I am enjoying myself.' Yün Kiang said, 'I wish to ask you a question.' Hung Mung lifted up his head, looked at the stranger, and said, 'Pooh!' Yün Kiang, however, continued, 'The breath of heaven is out of harmony; the breath of earth is bound up; the six elemental influences do not act in concord; the four seasons do not observe their proper times. Now I wish to blend together the essential qualities of those six influences in order to nourish all living things;-- how shall I go about it?' Hung Mung slapped his buttocks, hopped about, and shook his head, saying, 'I do not know; I do not know!' '

Alcatraz Is Not an Island.

From November 1969 to June 1971, Alcatraz Island was occupied by Native American activists.

Three Iranian Sopranos.

International Robot Exhibition 2009.

Which chess piece are you?

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

World Atlas of Panoramic Aerial Images.

'Exploring the world, one vista at a time...'

Photos of 19th Century Russia.

'Maksim Dmitriev was born in 1858 in Tambov province. At the age of 15 he became an apprentice of the famous photographer of that time - M.P. Nastiukov, where he obtained basic knowledge about the art of photography. He became famous at the beginning of the 90-s of the XIX century after representation of the exposition called “Bad harvest in Nizhny Novgorod region”, where he showed ruined villages and sick and starving peasants. With this exposition he became the founder of the photo report genre in Russia.'


Fiction in 2 dimensions. "How does gravity curve space? Well, imagine that the world is two dimensional, like a rubber sheet..."

The French Republican Calendar.

An attempt to decimalise time, amongst other things.

More at Preserving the French Republican Calendar :

Street Art in Newtown, Sydney, New South Wales.

My old stomping ground.

S_P_A_M Haiku.

Going back some years.

There's even a section

On cannibalism.

The Great Moon Hoax.

' "The Great Moon Hoax" was a series of six articles that were published in the New York Sun beginning on August 25, 1835, about the supposed discovery of life and even civilization on the Moon. The discoveries were falsely attributed to Sir John Herschel, perhaps the best-known astronomer of his time.'


Autumn in the NY Times.

Green in 1953, Iranian Protests.

'Photo essay: Anti-establishment protests before 1953 coup'.

Cham Village and Yazd, Iran.

'Images of the village of Cham and Yazd in April 2009. Emphasis is on "Dakhmeh" or "towers of silence" which are no longer used and the surrounding landscape.'

Towers of silence ( ) - used by Zoroastrians for the exposure of the dead.

Vision On.

(UK) 'Readers of a certain age will remember the delight that was Vision On. Presented by avuncular art legend Tony Hart who died last year, it ran from 1964-1976 on the BBC and showcased art and animation from artists and kids alike. '

George Orwell on The Perfect Cup of Tea.

Museum of Firecracker Label Art.

'Thanks for checking out my site. I have over 400 labels available
for you to enjoy. Most are from my personal collection,
although some have been loaned to me so that I could share them.
Click on the links for the different classes to load the links to the individual labels. Have fun and hopefully some will bring back nice memories.'

The World Stone Skimming Championships, Scotland.

Japanese Toy Designs.

'By turns scary and intriguing (much like Japanese game shows and the garbled translations below) the selection of images above comes from the sixty albums in the Kyosen Guangucho section of the website.'

The Theatre of Cruelty.

(16th century illustrations of religious persecution in England). 'Verstegan's book attempted to record, in gruesome detail, the cruelty, torture and murder of Catholic martyrs in Europe - including English victims under the reigns of Mary I and Elizabeth I* - at the hands of Protestant heretics. Upon publication, the author was arrested and imprisoned for libel against the Crown and all books were confiscated and destroyed (a single page has been saved). Through the intervention of friends in the clerical hierarchy, Verstegan was able to secure his release and he fled the country, ultimately settling in Antwerp.'

Venezuela, 1905.

'Circa 1905. "Country store, Venezuela." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company.'

Candy Factory Kids, 1913.

'October 1913. Dallas, Texas. "A few of the young workers in Hughes Brothers Candy Factory, South Ervay Street. I counted five going and coming at night and at noon, that appeared to be from 12 to 15 years old. One girl told me that she is 13 years old, 'but we have to tell them we're 15. I run a chocolate machine.' "'

Vietnamese Contemporary Art.

' is the combined, online gallery for three galleries in Saigon. '

Astro Pics.

Halloween's Moon.

M83's Centre.

Milky Way over the Badlands.

Querying the Hive Mind.

A very sweet thread.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Too Late for Flowers.

Short story from Liberia.

'Theresa was in her seventies, lean, gray-headed, with a wrinkled face and almost toothless mouth when I moved into her house as a tenant. She had suffered a stroke that left her right leg crippled and her left arm useless. Besides the meager rent Theresa received from me, she sold pepper and palm oil on a ramshackle table at Red Light market...'

Soviet Soldiers of WW2 in Colour.

'Such photos always fascinate me. I mean the color photos from the past, the older the better. These ones is no exception. We got used to see only black and white photos from the World War 2 - the color photography was very expensive at that times and actually was not widely implemented, and especially usually nobody took the expensive equipment to the battlefront. Still there are some color photos from the times where our grandfathers were young, like 70 years ago.'

British Dialects.

'"It is the business of educated people to speak so that no-one may be able to tell in what county their childhood was passed." Despite efforts by Victorians to eradicate them, dialects of English in Great Britain continue to vary greatly, much to the consternation of many traditionalists. But a recently acquired archive is giving new insight into old dialects--some of which no longer exist. Recorded in a WWI prisoner of war camp on shellac disks, the archive was part of an effort by German linguists to study regional variation in the English language. A report by PRI's The World includes a brief synopsis--and a powerful rendition of a beloved Scottish ballad by a homesick soldier. '

Japanese Postcards from the Year of the Monkey.

Marc's International Pringles Can Collection.

18th Century 'Hyakki Yako' Scroll.

'An 18th-century picture scroll featuring a procession of Japanese demons and monsters is for sale on eBay. This 11.25 meter (37 ft) long work depicts the Hyakki Yakō (lit. “Night Parade of One Hundred Demons”) — a deadly parade of demons and yōkai (traditional monsters) that, according to Japanese folklore, would often take place on summer nights. The Hyakki Yakō was a popular theme in Japanese visual art during the Edo period, and portrayals of these processions, while frightening, often incorporated a sense of humor.'


'In the culture of South Asia, a hijra, is usually considered a member of "the third gender" — neither man nor woman. Most are physically male or intersex, but some are physically female. Hijras usually refer to themselves linguistically as female, and usually dress as women.'

Laura Lean's Photos of South Kensington Tunnel.

'A project photographing the South Kensington tunnel that links the underground station with a number of museums. '

The Sphinx.

'Featured here are John Buckland Wright's illustrations for "Le Sphinx" by the Belgian Symbolist Iwan Gilkin. Richard Sica gives the back story to these rare illustrations from his collection: '

Rhythms of Modern Life: British Prints 1914-1939.

Interesting to compare this style with the style in 'The Sphinx' above.

God's Man.

Another set of prints worth comparing, from about the same time period...

Peaceful Conquerors: Jain Manuscript Paintings.

Looking In: Robert Frank's 'The Americans'.

Astro Pics.

Saturn after Equinox.

Art and Science in NGC 918.

Galaxy Merger from Hubble.

Stickney Crater.

Ring Nebula Deep Field.

Russia's Seven Wonders.

'There are seven wonders of the world, but most of them were already destroyed either by the hands of humans or by the cruel passing of time. And last year a group of some Russian TV-channels, newspapers and radio stations hold an official opinion poll and discovered what kinds of real wonders Russia has. Anyone could participate in the poll taking votes via internet or SMS services. So, the seven best-looking and really fascinating places were chosen. Here they are:'

The Soviet Calendar.

'The Soviet calendar added five- and six-day work weeks between 1929 and 1940 to the Gregorian calendar adopted by Russia in 1918. Although the traditional seven-day week was still recognized, a day of rest on Sunday was replaced by one day of rest sometime during each work week. Many sources erroneously state that the weeks were organized into 30-day months.'

Amorita, 1900.

Asbury Park, 1905.

'New Jersey circa 1905. "Boardwalk, Asbury Park." '

Dictionary of British Slang.

'A monster online dictionary of the rich colourful language we call slang... all from a British perspective, with new slang added every month. '

Russian Fairy Tales.

'These illustrations come from Russian Fairy Tales (Pantheon, 1945), translated by Norbert Guterman, with "folkloristic commentary" by Roman Jakobson (yes, that Roman Jakobson). Eudora Welty blurb: "These Russian tales are rambunctious, full-blooded and temperamental. They are tense with action, magical and human, and move in a kind of cyclone of speed. These tales are gorgeous."'

Shusei Nagaoka's Sci Fi Illustrations.

'In the 1970s and 1980s, the sci-fi art of Japanese illustrator Shusei Nagaoka graced numerous album covers and appeared in a variety of advertisements, magazines, and movie posters. Here is a small sample of his fantastic work.'

Basoli's Alphabet.

'n Bologna, in 1839, the decorative artist Antonio Basoli published his Alfabeto Pittorico, ossia raccolta di pensieri pittorici composti di oggetti comincianti dalle singole lettere alfabetiche (‘Pictorial Alphabet, or, a collection of pictorial thoughts composed of objects beginning with the individual letters of the alphabet’). This was an album of twenty-five elaborate lithographs, each one featuring an alphabetical character cast in some fantastic architectural form, in a setting contrived to illustrate any number of figures and objects for which there were Italian words beginning with that same letter.'

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Java Calendar Conversions.

'The applet on this page does conversions between various calendar formats. '

I find this sort of stuff fascinating - mathematically and culturally. I'm playing with scripts to do some of these. I never knew, for instance, the significance of Rosh Hashanah ( ) and the symbolism of the ram's horn and the story of Abraham and Isaac.

Calendrical calculations:

Photo Essay: Iran and Iranians.

Handing It to War: Surviving Victims of the Iran-Iraq War.

China's Dark Satanic Mills.

'On Oct. 14th, Chinese photographer Lu Guang won this year's $30,000 W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography for his photos on China’s environment... It was the first time for a Chinese national to win this award and, what was more important, one of the first times that China’s perilous environmental situation was presented with such visual power.'

More :

Voyager Golden Record: Images and Greetings.

Many of the musical tracks from the Golden Record are here : . Including Eastern and Western classical music, American popular music and ethnic music from Asia, Africa, South America and the Pacific.

BBC2 Test Card Music.

Animated Stereoviews of Old Japan.

'In the late 19th and early 20th century, enigmatic photographer T. Enami (1859-1929) captured a number of 3D stereoviews depicting life in Meiji-period Japan.'

Jacob Riis's New York.

'After more than a century, the oeuvre of the photographer and activist Jacob Riis remains indelible. Following are some of the images he captured in New York's unseen quarters.'

Dutch Covers: Picture Books from 1810 to 1850.

'There is both humour and moralism to be found in children’s books; they play with the relationship between reality and fantasy.'

Moscow in the 1960s: A Glance at the Soviet Lifestyle.

'This is our third post devoted to Marc Riboud, an out­stand­ing French pho­tog­ra­pher, who trav­eled exten­sively through­out the Soviet Union. His images cap­tured an array of every­day life episodes from the lives of the Soviet peo­ple.'

Recipes for Dreaming.

'Dreaming = free and fun. Done correctly, it can fill those apparently useless sleeping hours with adventure. For the benefit of mankind, we have tested the following notorious dream-causing foods, to see which has the most spectacular results:'

Goodbye, "Leih Hou Ma," Hello "Ni Hao Ma!".

'"Chinatown" communities across the United States (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco) are undergoing a shift in linguistic identity, as recent immigrants are more likely to natively speak Mandarin (the official spoken language of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan,) instead of Cantonese...'
Interesting collection of links.

Artforms of Nature.

'The nineteen century German biologist Ernst Haeckel is famous for his fantastically illustrated book Artforms of Nature. The copyright for this book from 1904 has now expired and thanks to Wikimedia Commons it is available for everyone to appreciate.'

'Haekel's artistic interpretation of the biological forms he studied have a clarity of symmetry and detail that has been a source of inspiration for many artists and engineers over the years...'

As It Might Have Been: Hexagonal London.

'It takes aspiring London cabbies two to four years to acquire ‘The Knowledge’. Only if they know their way around the 25,000 streets in a 6-mile radius from Charing Cross (and along 320 main roads within Greater London) will they be licensed to drive one of London’s iconic black cabs. The London Taxicab Examination System is reputed to be the hardest of its kind in the world, and this speaks to the complexity of the British capital’s road grid.'

'That complexity, and the cabbies’ Knowledge, put passengers at the risk of being overcharged, the Victorians feared. Mid-19th century, even before the current Examination System was instituted (in 1865), a Mr John Leighton devised a system to prevent passengers from being taken for a proverbial as well as a literal ride. Leighton, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, published a scheme to divide London in a number of hexagonals, specifically aimed at preventing overcharging by cab drivers...'

Enheduanna, the First Poet We Know by Name.

'Enheduanna was a priestess and poet in the city of Ur in the 23rd century BC and supposedly the daughter of Sargon the Great of Akkad. She is the first author known by name. Here are a number of her poems in English translation, The Exaltation of Inana, Inana and Ebih, A Hymn to Inana, The Temple Hymns and A Balbale to Nanna.'

Astro Pics.

Blue Sun Bristling.

The Average Colour of the Universe.
'Cosmic Latte'.

The Milky Way over Devils Tower.

A Little Zen.

'So the thing to do when working on a motorcycle, as in any other task, is to cultivate the peace of mind which does not separate one's self from one's surroundings. When that is done successfully, then everything else follows naturally. Peace of mind produces right values, right values produce right thoughts. Right thoughts produce right actions and right actions produce work which will be a material reflection for others to see of the serenity at the center of it all. '

Klingon Proverbs.

Vulcan Proverbs.

Zen Proverbs.

Soviet Proverbs.

Proverbs from the Game of Go.

The Bodhisattva Ideal.

'A group of people was once traveling through a desert, when it so happened that three of them strayed away and got lost. Tired and thirsty this trio wandered around the desert in the hope of finding some respite. Finally their quest came to an end when they discovered a high well. The first man rushed to it, looked over the wall and found it full of delicious ambrosial water. He immediately exclaimed in a gesture of frenzied euphoria and jumped into it never to come back. The second too did the same. The third man finally walked over quietly over to the well, peeped over its high wall and then turned around and went back, returning to the desert to search for his other fellow travelers, to help guide them to this paradise. '

Old Soviet Advertising Posters.

Querying the Hive Mind.

'Please help me understand what does "having a strong work ethic" mean? '

'HELP! I'm totally stuck outside because a skunk is holding me hostage, and it's cold.'

'What are some of your favorite novels under (or around) 150 pages?'

'Why are some clouds black while others are white?'

'How do I discover what day/night and seasonal cycles are like on a hypothetical unusual planet?'

10 Weird Romantic Destinations.