plep Archive

19th July
The History of Eating Utensils. 'The Anthropology Department at the California Academy of Sciences houses the Rietz Food Technology Collection. Containing approximately 1,700 items, this collection was assembled by Carl Austin Rietz, an inventor and businessman in the food industry. His interest in the industry led him on travels around the world to collect objects used in the production, processing, storage, presentation, preparation, and serving of food.'
'A large portion of this collection consists of eating utensils, including tableware and portable eating sets. The variety of forms displayed by many items in the Rietz Collection document the history and evolution of such common utensils as forks, knives, spoons, and chopsticks. To see items from the Rietz Collection and to learn about the history of common eating utensils, please click on the links below. '

Homeless People and the Internet. Resources for the homeless; maintained by a formerly homeless person.

Dime Novels and Penny Dreadfuls. 'Both genres flourished from the middle to the close of the 19th century in America and England (where the novels were known as "penny dreadfuls"), and benefited from three mutually reinforcing trends: the vastly increased mechanization of printing, the growth of efficient rail and canal shipping, and ever-growing rates of literacy.'
'The dime novels were aimed at youthful, working-class audiences and distributed in massive editions at newsstands and dry goods stores. Though the phrase conjures up stereotyped yarns of Wild West adventure, complete with lurid cover illustration, many other genres were represented: tales of urban outlaws, detective stories, working-girl narratives of virtue defended, and costume romances ... '
Tour of a dime novel cover.

Nagasaki: The Johnson Family Albums, ca. 1895-1910. 'The Johnson family of Syracuse, New York, were missionaries in Japan in the 1890s and the early 20th century. Their Methodist church in Nagasaki offered a school for young Japanese families carrying on a tradition that began several centuries ago when Jesuits quickly followed the Portugese traders. '
A short essay on Nagasaki and the albums. 'Nagasaki, like Hiroshima, is a site known for the dropping of the atomic bomb, bringing to one's mind images of destruction and desolation. But Nagasaki at the turn of the century was a prosperous and beautiful city. Just as Yosuke Yamahata captured the desolation of the atomic bomb in "Nagasaki Journey," so did the American missionary family, the Johnsons, captured the loveliness of this seaport-city in their family albums.'

Hippocratic Oath for Scientists, Engineers and Executives. A good idea, IMHO.
' ... an Institute for Social Inventions' working party has drawn up a new and shorter version of the Hippocratic Oath (see below), aimed not at doctors but at engineers, scientists (pure and applied) and the executives who employ them. As Professor Weeranmantry remarks: 'the idea of an ethic for science goes all the way back to Francis Bacon. In Bacon's work, New Atlantis, scientists took an oath for concealing inventions and experiences which they thought fit to keep secret.' An Institute working party member, Peter Lewis, adds that history provides a notable precedent of ethical behaviour by a scientist. This is the example of Leonardo da Vinci, who (despite offering many of his military inventions to the Duke of Milan and other patrons) suppressed his work on submarines 'on account of the evil nature of men, who would practise assassination at the bottom of the sea.' By Leonardo's action the world was spared submarine warfare for 300 years ... '

Institute for Social Inventions. Socially innovatory ideas and projects.
'Is yours a new, imaginative and feasible idea or project for improving the quality of life? If so (or if you know of such a scheme, or have a newspaper cutting about a likely project) please submit it, in less than 1,000 words, to the Institute's online GLOBAL IDEAS BANK. This is accessed over 4 million times a year at present and already contains several thousand best ideas submitted by members of the public worldwide. Readers can vote on the ideas. The Global Ideas Bank offers a total of 1,000 pounds (UK Sterling) in awards (annually, with a deadline of June 1st) for the best non-technological ideas or projects sent in ... '

Postcards from the Road. 'I created the PostcardsFromTheRoad website as a way to share my passions for Route 66, old motels, and vintage postcards. It is my hope that you enjoy your travels through this site; please visit my scheduled chats, sign my guestbook, and let me know if you enjoyed your excursion!'

Motels of the Southwest. "This website is dedicated to the celebration of the classic American neon motel."
'Motels of the Southwest' poster.

Juan Jose Fustero. (Piru, California) Photo. 'Juan José Fustero, who lived in the Piru-Camulos area, billed himself as "the last of the Piru Indians." Possibly the last full-blooded Tataviam Indian - a topic of some dispute - Fustero died on June 30, 1921, at or near Rancho Camulos. '
Juan Jose Fustero: certificate of death.
The Tataviam: early Newhall residents.
Via Santa Clara Valley History in Pictures.

Japanese Calligraphy at 'It is my wish to bring you closer to the beauty and spiritual power of the Japanese Calligraphy. Through my words and my artwork I hope you get enthusiastic about this special art form. Let me introduce you to the way I practice and experience shodo and show you why it is an unceasing source of inspiration for my life and my art.'

Old Harlem. Photographs of Thirties Harlem, courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York. Kids, buildings, recreational Harlem, restaurants and streets.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan. (Cornwall)
Magic Lantern slide show.
Tour the gardens.
A piece about the history of the gardens. ' ... The gardens, created mainly in the 19th century, of were one of the finest gardens in England of their period, with 57 acres of planted gardens, around 100 acres of ornamental woodlands, and 300 acres of rides. Scattered throughout were follies and temples. Henry Hawkins Tremayne, John Tremayne and John Claude Tremayne in turn created and planted the gardens and ornamental woodlands with walks and rides. They were noted botanists and horticulturists and by the 1900 had a amassed a wonderful collection of trees and shrubs from all over the globe, many of which can be seen today. It was the centre of the community with 20 house staff and up to 22 garden staff, with the local economy dependent on the estate for their income and parishes assisted by the Tremaynes benevolence ... '
' February 16th 1990 was a fateful day for Tim Smit. That was the day he and John Willis first explored the decades of tangled overgrowth and melancholic ruins that was then Heligan Gardens. As he says in his enthralling book "In Retrospect it was a day that was to change our lives". There were rumours that half of the village of Mevagissey, Cornwall had been conceived amongst the palms and bamboos of an overgrown tropical valley which connected the fishing village with Heligan House and it's grounds. Tales of temples and mosaic floors found by poachers abounded ... '

18th July
Tuktu and Nogak Project. 'The Tuktu and Nogak Project is a community driven effort to collect and share Inuit Quajimatajatuqangit or traditional ecological knowledge of caribou and calving areas in the Bathurst Inlet area of the Kitikmeot region of Nunavut, Canada. '
'Ecological knowledge held by Inuit elders, hunters and other community members is shared through stories that are the fabric of Inuit culture, tradition and subsistence. Within these stories are key observations that can guide community members as well as decision makers. For example, hunters and elders know where the richest hunting grounds are or how to tell when the weather is going to change. These survival tips are based on repeated observations and have been passed down from one generation to the next. The Tuktu and Nogak Project recognizes the value of Inuit contributions to better understanding caribou and celebrates the richness of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit. Through the Tuktu and Nogak Project, it is hoped that Inuit Quajimajatuqangit will be easily available to current and future generations.'
Photos, too.

Japanese Prints: The Dutch in Nagasaki.
'The Dutch were the first foreigners allowed to stay in Japan and to carry on trade. They had to submit to strict regulations, however, and were only allowed to live on Deshima, an artificial island off the coast of Nagasaki.'
'These prints are extremely interesting for a number of reasons. They are documents of a unique episode in Dutch trade and represent an early period in the art of the Japanese woodcut. Above all the prints show the amazement - and sometimes horror - with which non-Western people have looked at Westerners, where more examples are known of Westerners looking at non-Western people. The Dutch are depicted as pale and ugly red-haired barbarians with large noses. The ships the Dutch came in and the exotic animals they brought were causes of amazement and admiration.'

Rhapsodies in Black. Art of the Harlem Renaissance. 'As the Jazz age dawned in the early 1920's, African American artists, writers and musicians flocked to a district of Manhattan called Harlem. 'The Mecca of the New Negro' soon became home to a cultural revolution, repercussions of which would be felt around the world, from the USA to Europe and Africa. The rich artistic legacy of the Harlem Renaissance rages from the music of Duke Ellington and Bessie Smith, to the paintings of Aaron Douglas and the poetry of Langston Hughes ... '

UK Environment was mentioned in the Guardian's 'web watch' last week.

Long Island Lighthouses.

Ghost Watcher. Watching a 'haunted house'.
'The GhostWatcher is a virtual neighborhood Watch to help me (June) sleep better at night. 31 webcams constantly monitor selected hidden spaces in my New York City apartment. '
'So far I have selected 4175 reports by 3429 Watchers to be published on the GhostWatcher. '

Muslim Peace Fellowship, 'a gathering of peace and justice-oriented Muslims of all backgrounds who are dedicated to making the beauty of Islam evident in the world, founded in 1994.' A Muslim peace and anti-terrorist movement. Many interesting articles.

Tibetan Children's Villages. 'From its humble beginning forty years ago, Tibetan Children's Village has today become a thriving, integrated educational community for destitute Tibetan children in exile, as well as for hundreds of those escaping from Tibet in recent years. It has established branches in India extending from Ladakh in the North to Bylakuppe in the South, with over 14,000 children under its care. '

From Watford Gap to Camelot.
'This is a mythical journey along a real but relatively ordinary road. Or maybe it is a real journey along a mythical road - I'm never quite sure.'
'It is a quest of sorts, ranging across history, mystery, the bizarre and the banal, starting in the middle of nowhere, and ending somewhere that probably doesn't exist. In between - the ordinary and the extraordinary, which often turn out to be the same thing.'

Origins of Humankind. 'The Origins of Humankind is a comprehensive internet resource for the human evolution community. This site gives you a one stop place to efficiently locate, research, interact and share information. ' Useful stuff here.

Digital Lunar Orbiter Atlas of the Moon. 'The Lunar Orbiter Photographic Atlas of the Moon by Bowker and Hughes (NASA SP-206) is considered the definitive reference manual to the global photographic coverage of the Moon. The images contained within the atlas are excellent for studying lunar morphology because they were obtained at low to moderate Sun angles. This digital archive consists of the complete set of 675 plates contained in Bowker and Hughes. Images in the archive have been enhanced to display the best photo quality possible ... '

Inuit find home on the web. 'One of the oldest indigenous peoples, the Inuit, have turned to one of the most modern forms of communication to tell the world about their culture. '
'They have launched a website detailing their 5,000-year-old history, cataloguing their origins, when they first came into contact with white explorers and their struggle for land rights ... ' (BBC)
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. 'Welcome to the web presence of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. We are the national Inuit organization in Canada, representing the four Inuit regions - Labrador, Nunavik (northern Quebec), Nunavut, and the Inuvialuit region in the Northwest Territories. We live in the Canadian Arctic, the largest geographic part of the country. This Internet site reflects our ancient and modern history. It allows us to communicate to the global community instantly, making the notion of a "Global Village" more real. That's vital at this stage as issues such as global warming affect the Arctic regions in a very tangible way ... '

Origins of domestic horse revealed.

Elephant feet made for talking? 'Elephants may be listening to and communicating with each other through their feet. '
'Recent research by US scientists supports previous claims that elephants can interpret slight vibrations they pick up in the ground. ' (BBC)
(This could explain the apparent 'sixth sense' of elephants before earthquakes, for example).

Chocolate's frothy past. 'Humans' love affair with chocolate began far earlier than previously thought. ' (BBC)

17th July
A London Walk.
'Antony and I were having a beer in central London one day and were musing (like you do), on how little we actually see of the city - the tube runs through tunnels and cuttings and all you can see in a car is the exhaust of the car in front. We admit that you can see quite a lot of London from a bus but on a normal day in London we are either going somewhere or meeting someone and just stepping back and looking at buildings and people isn't part of the equation.'
'So we hatched a plan to walk across London - or to be more specific, across the Thames basin. You should understand that not everything we plan over a few pints of beer comes off so to celebrate our success on this occasion we've put up this account ...'

Zen Art by Monk Song Yoon. 'When I first took up the brush, it was like holding a piece of straw above an endless ocean ... ' A beautiful site.

A Poet Called Benjamin Zephaniah.
Rhymin. ('The British' is a personal favourite of mine).
Rasta time in free verse. (The Hindu) 'He's a poet in search of politics. He's a crusader who believes in justice for all. He's a Rastafarian who views paganism as the original world religion.'
'Could it be a coincidence, then, that BENJAMIN ZEPHANIAH is one of Britain's most popular overseas cultural ambassadors today? Whether in Chennai or Kolkata, Argentina or Johannesburg, Fiji or China, he mingles spontaneously with the masses because, as he puts it, "I create poetry to reach people." ... '

Moving Uptown: Nineteenth-century Views of Manhattan. (New York Public Library) From the introduction :- 'In 1806, the Common Council of the City ordered a survey of the island of Manhattan to organize the city's street system. This survey the Commissioners' written report and a map drawn by John Randel, Jr., approved by the state legislature in 1811 represents the most important city planning scheme in New York's history. A mammoth print, engraved by Peter Maverick after Randel's map, shows a city defined by a grid from Houston to 155th Street, excepting only the streets below 14th Street, already developed during two centuries of gradual and haphazard growth. The report acknowledged that for some, "it may be a subject of merriment, that the Commissioners have provided space for a greater population than is collected on this side of China." With about 100,000 residents, most living within two miles of the Battery in 1810, it seemed possible that it might be centuries before northern sections of the island were fully settled. Yet before the century was out, the population approached 3.5 million and every street in Randel's grid was lined with buildings, except the map's northernmost limits and Central Park, injected into the plan mid-century ... '
P.Maverick after J.Randel: The Map of the City of New York. (1811)

A Short History of Axel Erlandsen and his Tree Circus. ' ... In 1945 Erlandson's daughter and wife took a trip to the ocean near Santa Cruz. There they saw people lined up to pay to see such oddities as tilted buildings and optical illusions. They returned home and convinced Axel that his trees could draw people who would pay to see them; if they were on a well traveled tourist route. Axel bought a small parcel of land in Scotts Valley on the main road between the Santa Clara Valley and the ocean; and started the process of transplanting the best of his trees to their new home. The Tree Circus opened in the spring of 1947 ... '

Cultural Entomology Digest. Insects in human culture.
'Consider the following questions: What insects do we find in art? What insects affect us psychologically? Can you think of any song, book or movie based on insects? What insects have been deified? Do insects carry any symbolism? Maybe you've seen Dürer's stag beetle or Jiminy Cricket. Perhaps you've experienced entomophobia (fear of insects). You might have heard Flight of The Bumblebee, read 'Metamorphosis,' or seen 'The Fly.' The Egyptian's deified the scarab beetle and the ancient Greek cult of Artemis worshipped the bee. As you work like an industrious ant, your mind might think of love as you watch a butterfly drift by. We begin to realize the extent to which insects have become a part of almost every facet of the humanities. We'll call these cross-spectrum snippets "Cultural Entomology." ... '
Beetles in textiles.
The insects of M.C. Escher.
Japanese crests.
Butterflies of ancient Mexico.

The Untold Chinatown (A Photo Essay). By Bruce Takeo Akizuki, Oakland, California. " It is a place the old meets the new, where the American and foreign born mix, and change takes place every day."

'Drawing Shadows to Stone'. Photographing North Pacific peoples (1897-1902). (American Museum of Natural History) 'This exhibition commemorated the centennial of one of the most significant expeditions in the history of American anthropology, the American Museum of Natural History's Jesup North Pacific Expedition (1897 -1902). Providing a rare and compelling visual record of northern peoples and their cultures, Drawing Shadows to Stone includes approximately 1200 archival photographs depicting scenes from daily life. Taken by members of the Jesup Expedition, these photographs provide an early example of the revolutionary use of the camera as an anthropological tool. The exhibition also reveals the scope of early anthropological fieldwork through a comprehensive account of the Expedition Correspondence sustained between members of the expedition team ... '

WarWidows International Peace Alliance 'works across international, religious and cultural borders to build bridges between widows of war from around the world and educate the public about the lasting effects of war. Through the innovative use of media, arts and technology, WIPA provides a forum for the voices of widows of war and armed conflict from all sides to be heard. WIPA believes in the tremendous power of storytelling to humanize the people affected by war in order to prevent and end armed conflict.'

Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. Plans for the WTC site released.

'The IRA has apologised to the civilian victims of its campaign of violence in a statement marking the anniversary of one of Northern Ireland's worst atrocities. ' (BBC)

Portadown News - 'Catholic couple have Protestant baby.'

16th July
International Year of Mountains 2002. 'Whether we live at sea level or at the highest elevations, we are all mountain people. We are connected to mountains and are affected by mountains in more ways than we can imagine. Mountains provide most of the world's fresh water, harbour as much or more biodiversity than any other areas and are home to at least one in ten people. Yet, war, poverty, hunger, climate change and environmental degradation are threatening the web of life that mountains support. The International Year of Mountains is an opportunity to take steps to protect mountain ecosystems, to promote peace and stability in mountain regions and to help mountain people attain their goals and aspirations. By taking care of the world's mountains, we help to ensure the long-term security and survival of all that is connected to them, including ourselves.'

Worldwide Forgiveness Alliance. 'The Worldwide Forgiveness Alliance is a non-profit, tax exempt educational foundation dedicated to the establishment of the first global holiday, International forgiveness Day, to be celebrated on the first Sunday of every August (August 4, 2002). See our invitation and program for last year's Celebration.'

Secret World of the Forbidden City: Splendours from China's Imperial Palace. 'Secret World of the Forbidden City: Splendors from China's Imperial Palace allows a rare glimpse of the opulence and historical heritage of the Chinese imperial court under the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911). This exhibition brings together a selection of precious objects, including formal and informal robes, arms and armor, accessories and jewelry, scepters and seals, portraits and paintings, and a complete throne room, from the Palace Museum in Beijing. Through this sumptuous visual material, the viewer will enter a world of ceremony and ritual, birth and deaths, banquets and processions, all revolving around the Emperor, who served as Supreme Authority in an unquestionable family hierarchy and sanctified power structure. The works on view represent the pinnacle of technical virtuosity and creative genius on the part of thousands of anonymous artisans who toiled solely to serve the Imperial Court.'

Dancing Demons - Ceremonial Masks of Mongolia. 'Since time immemorial Mongolia has been occupied by tribes whose nomadic existence was dictated by the rugged topography and extreme climate of this vast region. More often fragmented than unified, these tribes, nevertheless, shared similar cultures and religious beliefs. Shamanism, an indigenous cult, was an amalgam of beliefs and practices centered on the shaman ... '

British Turf Labyrinths. 'Over the last few years I have been fortunate enough to be able to visit all eight remaining English turf labyrinths, as well as the sites of two former ones. For the benefit of both existing and new enthusiasts I am able to present this updated report. Not all are easy to find or easily accessible, but all are well worth the effort involved in seeking them out. ' Photos.

Minnesota Museum of the Mississippi and Other Natural Wonders. (And unnatural wonders too!) From the 'about' page :- 'The Minnesota Museum of the Mississippi is an institution devoted to the protection and documentation of curious natural and man-made phenomena. Our twin goals of scholarship and public awareness are served by collections and exhibitions in virtual and physical space. At this time only the virtual museum is accessible to the public.'
Visionary environments, such as the Fred Smith Concrete Park in Wisconsin, or Bishop's Castle in Colorado.
A huge, admirable site.

The Festival of Britain.
'Between May and September 1951 the nation celebrated the Festival of Britain. After the devastation of war and years of austerity the Festival aimed to raise the nations spirits whilst promoting the very best in British art, design and industry. The London based centrepieces of the Festival, the South Bank Exhibition and the Festival Pleasure Gardens in Battersea, were the most visible elements of a Festival which was celebrated in cities, towns and villages all over Britain. '
'This web site comprises an online exhibition about the Festival of Britain together with a searchable catalogue of over 400 items from our Festival related collections. The catalogue can be accessed from every page of the online exhibition. '
Via the Museum of London.

East Harlem Online. 'This site is dedicated to bringing you information about the East Harlem/El Barrio/Spanish Harlem Community. Although classified as a "poor" community by many, East Harlem is rich in culture, political activity, ideas, ideals, religion, and people.'
Carrying on the mariachi music tradition. 'The five-man mariachi band wearing mustard-colored trajes de charro strolled down a tree-lined path in Central Park. The sound of two trumpets filled the air, and the vihuela, the guitarron and the violin soon joined in. The beat was magnetic, drawing a crowd of parents and young children ... '
East Harlem history. 'All the area north of what is now 59th Street was called "Muscoota" by the Manhattan Indians. Muscoota means "flat place". This flat place was good for growing food and this is why many of the Manhattan Indians lived in this part of Manhattan. When the Dutch arrived and took over the lower, southern part of the island - "Nieuw Amsterdam", they left the native Indians pretty much to themselves in the northern part ... '

US planning to recruit one in 24 Americans as citizen spies. (Sydney Morning Herald) Via the null device and Reenhead.
Virtual Truth Commission.
Operation RATS - the Retrograde Activities and Treachery System. Via Booknotes.