plep Archive

25th May
Eurovision Slovenia entry. 'The transvestite pop group Sestre (Sisters), who started their career together as the Štrumpant'l Sisters (The Suspender Sisters), has been active on the Slovene media scene for over two years.'
Great moments in Eurovision history.

The new five pound note features the prison reformer, Elizabeth Fry.
Who is Elizabeth Fry? A Quaker site.
Bank of England notes.
The Bank of England isn't the only bank which can issue British currency notes :- Scottish banknotes; Northern Ireland banknotes.
Modern British banknotes; a gallery which includes notes from the Isle of Man and the Channel Isles.
Some old Bank of England notes.

Imaginary Year 'is a serialized narrative which documents the experiences of a group of fictional Chicagoans. New installments to the story appear every Monday and Friday. ' Via consumptive.

'Manual'. A collection of stories by writers with websites. Well worth checking out.

Neely Slave Cemetery, Charlotte, North Carolina. An interesting place.

The 1000 Cranes Project. Origami cranes for peace.
Monument of the Atomic Bombed Children, Hiroshima.
How to get the paper crane. Instructions for making one.

The International Molinological Society (TIMS) 'is the Society which fosters worldwide interest and understanding of wind, water and animal-driven mills. The term "molinology" was first coined by the Portuguese Joao Miguel dos Santos Simoes at the first International Symposium on Molinology in 1965 to define the study of mills. The Society encourages research, and promotes all aspects of molinology including the restoration of mills. It works closely with national mills societies and organizations and also campaigns at regional and government level to encourage the preservation of important historical mills and mill-sites. '
Selection of ancient wind and water mills.

A visit to Fonthill, a folly near Bath. 'In a lifespan of 83 years (September 1760 to May 1844) William Beckford had built up one of the world's largest collections of paintings, books, furniture and objets d'art and had housed it all in a country mansion the size of a cathedral. Beckford was immensely gifted, brilliantly educated and widely learned, a talented writer of fiction and travel books, a not insignificant landscape designer and composer of music (and incidentally a lively singer), a man of absolute integrity and perfect good taste, and, of course, the richest man in England. His wealth, his extravagance, his hatred of cant and mediocrity, and his scandalous reputation made him a legend in his own lifetime. '
William Beckford: the fool of Fonthill. Via the Great Queens of History.
The grottoes of Fonthill.

Robotics at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Centre, San Diego. 'The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, San Diego (SSC San Diego) and its predecessor organizations (NRaD, NOSC, NUC, etc.) have been involved in various aspects of robotics since the early 1960's ... '
The Flying Plug, an unmanned undersea vehicle.
Index of robotics images.

The temples of Madurai. One of the greatest is the Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple.
Via, a site about Hindu temples.

San Angel Folk Art. Folk art from Latin America. 'Like many folk art collectors, our story begins on a back road, off the main highway. It's right before noon. We are looking for the folk art version of Eldorado, a yard overflowing with brightly painted and carved animals or totems, boats or angels of tin and wood and stone, or shelves of ceramic figures next to a smoking kiln. We have been driving since early morning in the general direction of where we have been told the artists should be. But the homes we pass hold no activity, save for an occasional band of kids or chickens. We are tired, cranky, hot and hungry. We are just about to turnaround and go back to the nearest village to eat, when - there it's, a yard filled with the kind of art we've always wanted ... '

Guardian Unlimited special report: Kashmir. A useful round-up.
Interactive guide to the history of the Kashmir conflict.

Interview with Johnny Rotten which made me chuckle. Via Quiddity.

As some may know, next week is my last week at work before I take a short holiday. I'll be going to the US for a couple of weeks - spending a couple of days in NYC, then heading off to San Francisco and then maybe going somewhere else from there. More on this later...

24th May
Overview of 'Songlines', by Bruce Chatwin.
Ilupa Desert Art.

Barefoot Gen, the anti-war anime and manga. 'Barefoot Gen is a vivid autobiographical story. Artist Keiji Nakazawa was only seven years old when the Atomic Bomb destroyed his beautiful home city of Hiroshima. The Artist's "Gen" manga (visual novel), tells the tale of one family's struggle to survive in the dreadful shadow of war. '
Online exhibition from the Black Moon.

The Line Around the World.

Children's Art for Peace. Via Booknotes.

Blues for Peace. Via wood s lot.

Also via wood s lot comes 'Influence of the Coffeehouses', an interesting article on the role coffeehouses have played in London life.
The eighteenth century London coffeehouse 'was not just a place to get some coffee. Every important event that took place in Britain in the eighteenth century occurred in - or at least was discussed ad infinitum in - a coffeehouse. ' (This may be exaggerating a little, but it's certainly true that London was the largest centre of world trade, and much of this trade took place in coffeehouses).
A virtual coffeehouse.
The first coffeehouse in London was built in 1652, in St. Michael's Alley. A pub now stands there. It's next door to St. Michael Cornhill, a fairly interesting old church.
History of the London Stock Exchange. '1760 - 150 brokers kicked out of the Royal Exchange for rowdiness form a club at Jonathan's Coffee House to buy and sell shares.'
Brief history of Lloyd's Register. 'Lloyd's Register owes its name and foundation to a 17th century coffee house in London owned by Edward Lloyd. This was a favourite haunt of merchants, marine underwriters and others, all connected with shipping. Lloyd helped them to exchange information by circulating a printed sheet of all the news he heard. ' Lloyd's of London is also named after the coffeehouse. (Lloyds Bank's name, though, has a different origin).

St. Edmund the King. Another church in the City of London; desperately in need of repair. One of the most peaceful places I know, right in the heart of London.
The Dutch Church. 'It was once part of an Augustinian monastery. After the dissolution the nave and aisles were given over to Dutch and other Protestant refugees by Edward VI. ' Van Gogh drew this.
The Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue 'is the oldest surviving synagogue in Great Britain. It was built in 1701 by a Quaker, Joseph Avis, for the thriving local Jewish community. Sephardi Jews began to resettle in London under Oliver Cromwell (to whom they still acknowledge their gratitude) for the first time since their expulsion in the middle ages. '
St. Bride. The wedding cake church.
The City of London Churches. A comprehensive and interesting overview. It's amazing, to me, how much is in one square mile.
An article on the church architecture of Nicholas Hawksmoor, by Catherine Wright of Blue Ruin.
Southwark Cathedral is just across the river from these places.

Timothy Pont's Maps. Astonishing maps of Scotland, from c.1583-c.1596. 'Among the National Library of Scotland's greatest treasures are the earliest surviving detailed maps of Scotland, made by Timothy Pont over 400 years ago, in the 1580s and 1590s.'
Via the National Library of Scotland.

Freston Tower, a Suffolk folly. 'Freston Tower is a six-storey building dating from the mid 16th century. It is arguably the oldest folly in the country. Looking out over the River Orwell, it can be found in the village of Freston, south of Ipswich ... '

The Indian Diaspora. 'The Indian diaspora today constitutes an important, and in some respects unique, force in world culture. The origins of the modern Indian diaspora lie mainly in the subjugation of India by the British and its incorporation into the British empire ... '
Via Manas, a site about India and its neighbours.

World's Columbian Exposition. 'Chicago's World's Fair of 1893 was an incredibly popular and immensely influential social and cultural event. Millions of Americans experienced the Fair during its six months of existence on the shores of Lake Michigan, and millions more have lived with its legacy throughout the twentieth century ... '

Ikastikos - Pompeii red.

Mission Churches of the Sonoran Desert. 'In the spring of 1687, an Italian Jesuit missionary named Father Eusebio Francisco Kino started work among a group of Indians on the far northwest frontier of New Spain. The Indians he visited called themselves "O'odham" or "the People" in their own language and were called "Pimas" by the Spaniards. The region where Kino worked, which he called the "Pimerķa Alta," or "Upper Pima Country," is now divided between the Mexican state of Sonora and the U.S. state of Arizona. Geographically, most of it falls within the Sonoran Desert region. '
'Father Kino and his successors changed the face of the Pimerķa Alta forever. They brought with them a new religion, a new political system, and new crops and domesticated animals. In 1686 the region was occupied by native peoples living in various kinds of village and transient communities. The changes the missionaries instituted tied these peoples religiously, politically, and economically to the rest of New Spain, to Spain, and ultimately, to the rest of the world. In many communities, the physical symbol of and the setting for these changes was a mission church. '
'Today, the Sonoran desert on both sides of the international border is dotted with the remains of these churches. Some exist only as subsurface foundations or low, crumbling adobe walls. Others, like the churches at Tumacacori, Arizona and Cocospera, Sonora, are spectacular and more-or-less stabilized ruins. Still others are functioning churches to this day, being used for the purpose for which they were built so many years ago ... '
Via Images of the Southwest.

The Archaeology of the Dharawal People of New South Wales. Rock carvings from the Royal National Park, NSW.

The Sculptural Heritage of Tibet: Buddhist Art in the Nyingjei Lam Collection. "As those familiar with theTibetan language know, 'Nyingjei Lam' means 'the Path of Compassion' or 'the Compassionate Path'. Looking back twenty years ago to when I began to form the Nyingjei Lam Collection, I realize that it was a combination of things that drew me towards Tibetan Buddhist and related art. The first and perhaps the most compelling of these was the compassionate smiles that radiated from the faces of many of the statues of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, saints and lamas that I saw. To me, these were not foolish, empty smiles, but rather smiles that reflected an inner freedom, peace and joy, while also bringing peace and joy to the hearts and minds of their beholders."

Make money on the Internet...

' A group of children who adorned their bodies with industrial-strength magnets narrowly avoided permanent disfigurement, according to a medical journal. ' Via Reenhead.

23rd May
Map History / History of Cartography. Huge, impressive collection, updated regularly since 1996.
Mapping Europe's historic boundaries and borders: an exploratory workshop. 'Our concern is with mapping the changing boundaries of administrative units, from parishes and communes up to nations and empires, as a framework for studying the European past.'

The Campaign to End Child Labour. (USA) Art and articles from the early twentieth century, up until the Fair Labour Standards Act, 1938.
Songs for the working children.
Child labour cartoons.
Stage Children, 1922.

Eight Great Ukiyoeshi. A selection of ukiyo-e.
Pictures of beautiful women, actors, sumo, flowers and birds.
Via the Virtual Museum of Japanese Arts.

Urban Adventure in Rotterdam. Urban curiosities, urban art, abandoned buildings, small items etc.
A psychogeographic expedition.

Meeting God. Elements of Hindu devotion. 'These are but a few glimpses into the heart of faith in India. We ask that you leave your preconceptions behind and open yourself and all your senses to the experience. Let it be an adventure into other ways of thinking and acting in which you might find threads that interweave within your own life ... '

The Chupacabra Home Page. (A couple of the off-site links no longer work, but there are lots of articles on the site).
Chupacabra timeline.
My encounter with the Chupacabra. 'Notice: For those of you oblivious of the words irony and fiction, what you have just read is a work of fantasy. A meditation, if you will, on the possibility of an other-worldly encounter. '

Elmer Elevator.
A note about wallpaper, or a paean to William Morris.

The Edwardian Country House. A TV series about the Edwardian class hierarchy. Gripping stuff. (I've also been fascinated to read on people's blogs about the US series 'The Pioneer House').
Take the 'Are you a snob?' quiz.
The Clarion Cycling Clubs, which flourished in the same era, did a lot of good work counteracting this oppressive social hierarchy.
Wortley Hall, 'the workers' stately home'.

A friend is trying to locate a weblog he used to know, which has a distinct method. The blog in question uses little (screenshot) images as illustrations for each item and tends to go for the more obscure sort of sites. This blog has a bright blue background and is based in Australia. Anyone know of such a place? If so, email me at and I will pass the information on. Thanks!

Daniella Thompson on Brazil. Brazilian music and culture.

Pope forgives molested children. (Onion)

Self-made eunuch emerges from Roman grave.

Antique robots in Switzerland.

The search for the scum of the Universe.

' Companies doing genomic research, like Redwood City's Maxygen, have a problem. To make money, the companies feel they need to control the rights to the DNA sequences they uncover. But patenting these sequences is ethically and legally tricky. '
'So, Maxygen's scientists and lawyers are proposing a downright odd solution to this pickle: Encode the DNA sequences as MP3s or other music files and then copyright these genetic "tunes." There's been software on the market for years that can make this switch ... '

22nd May
The Green Man. (A pub, rather than the mythic figure). The demise of a traditional village inn. 'The Green Man was a picturesque village local built of local honey coloured Cotswold stone with a tiled roof and mullioned windows. It looked much the same as any other stone building in the village but had two wooden sign placed either side of the central front door which read: 'The Green Man' 'Stroud Ales'. The pub also boasted a decorative etched window which proudly advertised 'Stroud Cotswold Beers'. It looked its best in late May when the entire front was covered in flowering Wisteria ...'
Via Gloucestershire Pubs.

The Ramakien in Thai Art. 'The Ramakian, the epic tale of Prince Rama and his wife Sita, of struggles between good and evil, pervades all forms of Thai artistic expression.'

The Roman Painted House, Dover, England. 'The Roman Painted House, discovered by the Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit (KARU) in 1970, was built about A.D.200 as part of a large mansio or official hotel for leading Roman travelers crossing the English Channel. It stood outside the North Gate of the great naval fort of the Classis Britannica, but in A.D.270 the Roman army during the construction of a larger fort demolished it. Three of its main rooms were then buried substantially intact under its ramparts ... '

A Brief History of Manga. 'In 1815, the word manga was coined by renowned woodblock artist Hokusai. He used two Chinese characters- man ( 'lax') and ga ('picture')-to describe his comic doodles. A millennium before Hokusai, Japan had manga-like drawings but if manga is 'sequential art' as Will Eisner claims, the first clear examples are Japanese medieval picture scrolls which combined pictures to describe events with text to tell stories. Early picture scrolls (like the 12th century scroll to the left or the 13th century scroll below) were elitist but modern manga are for the masses ... '
A Brief History of Anime.

Yale, Slavery and Abolition. From the summary :- 'It is true that these three Yale leaders stand in a tradition of strong opposition to slavery. But a story that begins and ends with them does not tell the full story of Yale's relationship to slavery ... '

Hushabye. From the Womansong Collection.

Victorian Love Poetry.
Love & Death. Art in the age of Queen Victoria.

Bridges. The art and science of bridge building.

Fermi Questions Library. 'How many piano tuners are there in New York City?', and 'How many jelly beans fill a one-litre jar?' are both examples of Fermi questions.

RIP Stephen Jay Gould.

21st May
The Pub in Literature: England's Haunted State 'looks at how inns, taverns, alehouses and pubs have appeared in literature from Chaucer to the present day. ' Includes a gallery of work by artists such as Hogarth.
Haunted inns of Great Britain. Particularly like the look of the Crown Inn, Pishall, Oxfordshire.

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum. 'The Lower East Side Tenement Museum's mission is "to promote tolerance and historical perspective through the presentation and interpretation of the variety of immigrant and migrant experiences on Manhattan's Lower East Side, a gateway to America." '
The history of pickles in New York.
Hard Place.

Cooking for the Gods 'is an exhibition organised for The Newark Museum and on display there from October 1995 through July 1996, then at the Palmer Museum of Art, Pennsylvania State University, State College PA. The exhibition puts implements and images used for home worship into their ritual setting in Bengal. ' Shrines, images, implements, utensils, architecture, toys etc.

Japan and Beyond: Letters Home. 'Welcome to our labor of love. We want to share our year in Japan and our travels through Asia with you. If you are interested in learning more about the background of our trip and our long relationship with Japan please read the Introduction below. If you are interested in Japanese culture, customs, travel, or other specific topics, please check the chapter topics to the left and click whatever appeals to you. There is nothing we like more than sharing our passion for travel and the people we meet with you. We hope you enjoy!'

A Short Story (1932), by Anket Anketov. Satire on Soviet bureaucratic practices.

Potted history of English gardens.

Human tragedy of Russian plutonium production portrayed in photographic exhibition. From Greenpeace's website.
Half Life. Requires Flash.

Did you ever wonder what it would be like to pop a water balloon in space?