plep Archive

2nd January
Thanks to everyone who sent in 'birthday' wishes.

Dream Anatomy. 'Who we are beneath the skin amazes and scares us, entertains, repels, fascinates, inspires. Since around 1500 A.D., when illustrations of human anatomy first appeared in print, artists have employed fantastic settings, bizarre juxtapositions, antic poses, intense colors, and fanciful metaphors to display scientific knowledge of the body and its interior a dream anatomy that reveals as much about the outer world as it does the inner self.'
'Over the centuries anatomy has become a visual vocabulary of realism. We regard the anatomical body as our inner reality, a medium through which we imagine society, culture and the human condition.'
'Drawn mainly from the collections of the National Library of Medicine, Dream Anatomy shows off the anatomical imagination in some of its most astonishing incarnations, from 1500 to the present.'

Smallpox: A Great and Terrible Scourge. The history of the campaign to eradicate smallpox. Via the National Library of Medicine.

Beyond the Atmosphere: Early Years of Space Science. NASA's history of space science.
'From the rocket measurements of the upper atmosphere and sun that began in 1946, space science gradually emerged as a new field of scientific activity. In the United States high-altitude rocket research had developed a high degree of sophistication by the time the Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite of the earth in 1957. That surprise launch proved that the USSR had been pursuing a similar course ... '

The Grand Tour: Venice & Rome in the 18th Century. 'The artistic involvement with painting the landscape was an extension of the Age of Enlightenment. As man's interest in himself increased, so did his interest in the immediate and ordinary world around him.'
'Although the 18th-century Italian landscapes were studio works, they were based on accurate on-the-spot drawings and oil sketches. In effect, these artists became the precursors of what was to develop as one of the most popular aspects of Western culture, which came to a heightened peak with Impressionism. This trend of painting landscapes that were not structured, classical, balanced and theoretical originated with the vedette or "view" paintings that were a type of naturalistic landscape and cityscape painting made popular in the 18th century ... '

Personal Visions: Artists' Books at the Millennium. 'Artists' books are not books about art; they are art expressed through book form. When the content and form of a book are considered together, and given equal significance, the book becomes more than a simple container for information. The goal of many book artists is to involve the reader actively in the viewing process, not only to see the words on the page but also to think about how the words, pictures, and physical form of the object all contribute to the meaning. '

Van Gogh: Face to Face. "What impassions me most much, much more than all the rest of my mtier is the portrait, the modern portrait," Vincent wrote to his younger sister in early June 1890, a month before his death. "I should like you see, I'm far from saying that I can, but I'm going to try anyway I should like to do portraits which will appear as revelations to people in a hundred years' time."

Treasures of the Chinese Scholar.

Classical Chinese Furniture. (Linked previously, but worth another look).

Ten Laments. 'This is passage on education from a 13th century Chinese encyclopedia called Shilin Guangji. Such encyclopedias, or "leishu", were intended for the general public who did not have the material means and the time to spend years of their life memorizing the classics. So instead of studying the thirteen classics for twenty five years, like the literati did preparing for office, they received their cultural heritage in an already pre-digested and popularized form. This part is especially interesting because it talks about education and technology, a topic that is very much in the focus of our attention today. Despite the 800 years time difference, there is a certain parallel between the laments of the Chinese educator and some of today's concerns regarding the effect of Internet and multimedia applications in education. '

Animals of Indian Mythology.

The Political Art of Dan Beard. (From, which means it's good but there are pop-ups).
'Daniel Carter Beard (1850-1941) had an unusually diverse career that brought him into national prominence as an illustrator, reformer, naturalist, and co-founder of the Boy Scouts of America. The son of painter James H. Beard, he and two of his brothers, Frank and James C. Beard, became prominent New York-based illustrators and cartoonists after establishing a shared studio in 1878. Dan's illustrations appeared in many of the popular periodicals of the time. Among reformers of the late 19th century and early 20th century, Beard was well-known as an early and active supporter of the Single Tax Movement inspired by Henry George's 1879 book Progress and Poverty. Most of the illustrations presented here reflect that interest.'

World of the Child. Illustrations for two hundred years of children's books.

The Lincoln Collection, University of Delaware Library. 'The Lincoln Collection contains over two thousand books and pamphlets, photographs, artwork, sculpture, artifacts, historic documents, and miscellaneous material pertaining to the life and career of Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), the sixteenth President of the United States. Among the most significant items in the collection are copies of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment signed by Lincoln. Also included are official documents with Lincoln's signature, two books from Lincoln's personal library, newspapers and magazines of the period, and a copy of the Ford's Theatre playbill printed shortly after the assassination ... '

Abraham Lincoln Online.

That Girl There is Doctor in Medicine. Elizabeth Blackwell, America's first female MD.
'On the morning of Tuesday, January 23, 1849, a young woman ascended the platform of the Presbyterian church in Geneva, N.Y., and received from the hands of the President of Geneva Medical College a diploma conferring upon her the degree of Doctor of Medicine. Thus, after many years of determined effort, Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to complete a course of study at a medical college and receive the M.D. degree.'

Picturing Delaware: Maps and Illustrations of the First State.

Progress Made Visible: America's World's Fairs and Expositions. 'Looking backward from the millennium, no events seem to typify America from the Civil War to World War I more than the World's Fairs. The Fairs commemorated historic events-- the Declaration of Independence, the voyages of Columbus, the Louisiana Purchase--but also celebrated America's industrial growth and economic power. As America moved from an insular developing nation to a player on the world stage, the fairs mirrored the Nation's growing confidence. The overriding theme of all the fairs and expositions was progress and the belief that life would inevitably get better as a result of hard work, technological advancement, and healthy living. The fairs benefitted not only the national image, but also the states and cities who sponsored them, the manufacturers who displayed their products, and the people from all social classes who were alternately amused, instructed, and diverted by them. Both the strengths and weaknesses of the United States at that time can be seen in the fairs, from creativity and ingenuity to racism and unrestrained consumerism.'

The 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition. 'San Francisco's amazing 1915 worlds fair.'

Bright Lights, Bold Adventure: 1846-1878. The early history of the Smithsonian.
'On a muggy September morning in I846, an unlikely collection of men came together in a vast field on the edge of Washington, District of Columbia. Included were the President, Vice President, and Chief Justice of the United States and other dignitaries, all performing an undignified task: choosing a plot for a structure as yet unplanned in the neighorhood of an open sewer. '
'The Capitol stood out starkly to the east, incongruous above the tattered line of shops and houses extending along the northern edge of what would become the Mall. Washington was still a backwater, a city built where one should not have stood, with a low, watery periphery and narrow, often squalid streets. Envisioning grand architecture in this malodorous commons required imagination. '
'The plot being sought that September morning was to support an institution to be founded in Washington dedicated to a vague directive-"the increase & diffusion of knowledge"-and the search represented the end of long, rancorous debate in Congress. The President, James Knox Polk, a Democrat and a believer in Manifest Destiny, later wrote in his diary that he had passed "nearly an hour with them on foot in examining the grounds." The outing, however, concluded without any decision's being made. '

Beer Church.

Eid Al Adha, West Africa, March 2001. 'Thousands of Muslims gathered at Revolution Square in central Ouagadougou on Tuesday 6 March for prayers lead by the Grand Imam of the city, Alhaji Saidou Kouanda, to celebrate Eid el Kebir or Eid al Adha, also known in West Africa as Tabaski, or la fete du mouton (the Feast of the Sheep). The festival comes at the end of the pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca (in Saudi Arabia) that all Muslims who are able, and can afford to, must undergo at least once during their lifetime. Ofeibea Quist-Arcton captured the atmosphere in the Burkina Faso capital, Ouagadougou, during the celebrations. '

Rhymer's Travel Diary. 'Chile (Patagonia): Land of the keen, where men wear performance uberpants.' Via Bifurcated Rivets.

The Real Adrian Mole.
'Hiya. I'm Adrian Mole, aged 14 . I live with my parents, Geoffrey and Una Mole. My father is an air hostess and my mother is a traffic warden. I suppose it's possible that there could be more embarrassing professions for a boy's parents to have, but I'd have trouble trying to think of one. Lavatory attendant, maybe. But even lavatory attendants keep a low profile, they don't walk down aisles pushing a duty free trolley or parade the streets harrassing motorists, like my parents do ... '
Via Bifurcated Rivets.

25 Rhinos. 'Safe sex, not safe theatre!' Thumbs up to jp.

Fly Guy. Fun. Via Cheesedip.

Project: Shutterbug. Pictures of tourists.

Hummingbirds in poetry.

How the wayback machine works.
Our quality of life peaked in 1974. It's all downhill now. (George Monbiot)
Via Linkmachinego.

Diesel Sweeties: Love and Pixels. Amusing cartoon strip.

Choose to sysadmin. It's not that bad, really.

'Kick His Ass And Get The Gas' 'Three prominent anti-war activists recently discussed the impending US war on Iraq and the global mass movements for NTV -- a 24 Hour Turkish Television Channel. Transcript. '

Dissident soldiers ordered to fight in occupied lands. Via Unknown News.

Rumsfeld and Saddam shaking hands, 1980s. Via Incoming Signals and dumbmonkey.

'The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.' - Steve Biko.

1st January
The Guardian has a series of end-of-year reports from around the world.

Israel: Gas masks in the classroom.

Solomon Islands: Silence after the storm. 'As dawn breaks on a new year, no one knows for sure whether the 1,600 inhabitants of a group of tiny Pacific Ocean islands are dead or alive. If they survived the maximum-strength tropical storm on Sunday, it could only have been by huddling together in makeshift shelters on top of 150ft outcrops as raging seas and howling winds lashed their rudimentary homes and possessions on the coastline. '

Germany: Always look on the bright side of life.

Russia: Falling rolls, falling villages. 'Buichki, 300 miles south of Moscow, fell apart when the Soviet agricultural structure collapsed in the 90s. The birth rate plummeted in the middle of the decade, as workers fled the farms, and began ferrying goods back and forth from China. Such work makes ends meet, but means that the people moved to the nearby town of Kursk, where they could sell the goods on. "We've gone back to the time of tsars," joked one teacher to local media. "Each child has his own personal tutor" ... '

Zimbabwe: Praying for rain and democracy. 'Misheck Ngazana, 52, the head of a household of seven, spent New Year's Eve as he spends every day, worrying about how to feed his family. "We are down to one meal a day and our mealie meal [maize meal, Zimbabwe's staple food] is running out. We are able to buy mealie meal from the government, but they have not come here for a month." ... Mr Ngazana's family has been reliant upon the government supplies of maize for five months, but he says the government's food relief has been erratic. "Sometimes they refuse to sell maize to people here, saying that we voted for the MDC [Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change]. That kind of politics makes us worry." '

North Korea: From famine to rat race. 'Not recognised as refugees by China or the UN, they were forced to live in mountain hideouts or safehouses to escape arrest and repatriation by Chinese police or seizure by North Korean agents ... '

America: Hyper-alert, but for what? 'There were five of them, or maybe, according to earlier reports, as many as 19. They crossed the border from Canada on Christmas Eve, slipping unseen into the mountainous northern reaches of New York state - or perhaps it was from the south, across the New Mexican desert. They may be Islamic extremists, taking their positions for a co-ordinated terrorist assault on America in the coming days, but, then again, they may not ... '

Ulster crisis prompted plan to divide and move communities.
'Edward Heath's government contemplated repartitioning Northern Ireland by forcibly removing Catholic and Protestant families from their homes and physically separating the two communities. '
'The proposal, explored by senior civil servants at Downing Street, was one of a series of emergency responses drawn up during the worst year of the Troubles in case the security forces "lost control of events". '
'Revealed in official papers released today by the Public Record Office, the plans reflect the crisis in the province fol lowing the Bloody Sunday shootings, the torching of the Dublin embassy and the imposition of direct rule from London. The violence, which appeared to be spiralling towards civil war, claimed 476 lives in 1972. '

Ministers hunted for island to house Asians. 'Ministers launched a secret search to find a suitable island to settle thousands of British Asians living in East Africa to avoid "an intolerable repetition of the recent influx" of Ugandan Asians, cabinet papers published today by the Public Record Office under the 30-year rule reveal. '
'A "deep sense of alarm" developed within the British government, led by Edward Heath, that the expulsion of the Ugandan Asians in August 1972 by the country's president, Idi Amin, would be swiftly followed by the expulsion of up to 70,000 other British passport holders in Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia ... '

Unarmed and under fire: An oral history of female Vietnam vets.
'At least 1,200 female soldiers were stationed in Vietnam in various branches of the military as photojournalists, clerks, typists, intelligence officers, translators, flight controllers, even band leaders. They served prominently in Saigon, in the Mekong Delta and at Long Binh, which was, for a time, the largest Army headquarters in the world.'
'They could not fight, nor were they allowed to carry weapons to defend themselves. Most were part of the pioneering Women's Army Corps (WAC), created in 1942 to integrate the armed forces. All of them enlisted for service in Vietnam, mostly in the early part of the war. '
'Like a lot of Vietnam veterans, these women have been dogged by their experiences in country; unlike many veterans, they do not feel officially recognized and have been reluctant to seek help. Some have been plagued by symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome and exposure to chemicals. Others have harbored the fact of their service like a shameful secret ...'

Jane Fonda's LiveJournal.

The Traditional House Under Threat? Exhibition by the Victorian Society, Birmingham, UK.

Peace. Via Languagehat.