plep Archive

23rd January
Heading off for the weekend; next update will probably be on Sunday.

Dance in Light: Xhosa Textiles and Beadwork.
'Xhosa peoples never carved masks or figures; instead their religious art was beadwork, worn during ceremonial dances and other occasions. The exhibition also reveals how beadwork and dress flagged the wearer's ethnicity, age group, marital status, and other aspects of identity. The reflectivity of glass beads and shells were associated with the spirits, and particular colors and patterns conveyed symbolic meanings. '
'During much of the 20th century, South Africa was the world's largest importer of beads, fueling the development of this remarkable art tradition, which shares many similarities with Native American beadwork. '

How to pronounce the clicks in the Xhosa language.

The Murals of Baiya Monastery. 'The murals of Dege County's Pewar (Ch. Baiya) Monastery are truly exquisite works of art that embrace their subject matters with a mixture of vivid color and painstaking detail. From ghastly esoteric scenes of demons wearing human skins to the serenity of buddhas seated in meditation, the depictions on the walls of the temple and upper prayer room comprise a mixture of stylistic influences from within and outside Tibet. Placid Nepalese-style bodhisattvas adorned with gold and flowing scarves face characteristic Tibetan esoteric figures with multiple arms and heads, standing on lifeless bodies. Just next to this unlikely couple lies a secular scene of workers so Chinese in style that they could almost have been transplanted from a Song or Jin Dynasty Shanxi temple wall ... '

Images of Kham. Photographs of eastern Tibet.
"Myriad forms appear, interdependent and unobstructed, as the lama of symbolic appearance in the outer world. Indescribable is this dance of magical forms. Experiencing the natural freedom of form and emptiness, I pray to the lama, bless me with the direct understanding of Nirmanakaya, Enlightenment skillfully manifesting as the world of form." - Kalu Rinpoche, A Shower of Blessings.

Tiananmen: The Gate of Heavenly Peace. Remembering Tiananmen Square.

Pegasus - A Vintage British Computer. 'The first Pegasus, produced by the UK company Ferranti Ltd., went into service in March 1956, at a time when all of the computers installed in the UK were designed and built in Britain.'
'Pegasus was noted for its reliability and ease of use. It was the first computer to have a general register set architecture - a feature now seen in most modern computers ... '

Vintage Calculators.

Usenet History. 'Usenet, the venerable Internet discussion board, is now over 20 years old. People from around the world have gathered at its virtual roundtables to converse about topics from aeronautics to zoology, in the process creating vibrant global communities surrounding thousands of topics. To honor Usenet's place in the Internet revolution, the ECHO staff has created this site, which will gather important recollections and pieces of Usenet history. You can join in by adding your memories to our online survey, and can read about the experiences of other Usenet participants on our public board.'

Gutenberg Homepage. (Mostly in German, but some of the pages have been translated into English).

Gutenberg Digital.

Holocaust Heroes 'is a recently launched site devoted to honoring the brave men and women who risked their lives to rescue and shelter Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazi reign of terror. A major thrust of its mission will be to recognize the rescue activity of the many church groups whose work has been marginalized by too many Holocaust writers and historians. '

Feral Cheryl. An anti-Barbie doll.

Barbiology. 'Can't get enough of the plastic princess? Or do you mourn the day her Malibu bod rolled off the assembly line? Whatever the case, we've got theories and actual-factuals about the world's bestselling doll. Math may be hard, but this science is fun!'

Letter from America. The venerable Alistair Cooke writes.

New Mexico Ghost Towns and Other Little-Known Places... 'The Land of Enchantment still echos with voices from its colorful past. These voices speak especially clearly from the ghost towns, mining camps, and little-known places that populate New Mexico's landscape.'
'This site is a compendium of such places. '
(One or two broken links, but still a great site).

Steins - A Railroad Ghost Town.
Shakespeare, New Mexico - Don't Expect Disney.

Shakespeare Ghost Town, New Mexico. Official site.

Maryland Ghost & Spirit Association. Ghost hunters.

Winston Churchill and the Sinews of Peace Address. 'This speech may be regarded as the most important Churchill delivered as Leader of the Opposition (1945-1951). It contains certain phrases "the special relationship," "the sinews of peace"-which at once entered into general use, and which have survived. But it is the passage on "the iron curtain" which attracted immediate international attention, and had incalculable impact upon public opinion in the United States and in Western Europe. Russian historians date the beginning of the Cold War from this speech. In its phraseology, in its intricate drawing together of several themes to an electrifying climax - his speech may be regarded as a technical classic.'

Winston Churchill Memorial, Westminster College, Missouri.

Bloggies Nominees. Some really good entries this year; vote for your favourites.
The Anti-Bloggies will hopefully not be too far behind.

Zen Mask. 'Zen Mask hides hiding. When you clear your cache and history of secret documents you leave your system suspiciously blank. '
'Run a Zen Mask set of links and you will appear educated, interesting and busy.'

Tokyolife. Via Speckled Paint, Geisha Asobi.

Scary Stories. Thanks to Erin.

The Book Art of Richard Minsky. Via BookNotes.

Deriving the Golden Section from a Square.
The Fibonacci Series in Flash.
Via Textism.

Uzbekistan Diary. Weblog from Central Asia.

Photographs of Beetles.
Via Travelers Diagram.

Helen Thomas, 'dean' of the White House press corps.
'She seemed to have sympathy and affection for everyone but George W. Bush, a man who she said is rising on a wave of 9-11 fear fear of looking unpatriotic, fear of asking questions, just fear. We have, she said, lost our way. '
'Thomas believes we have chosen to promote democracy with bombs instead of largess while Congress defaults, Democrats cower and a president controls all three branches of government in the name of corporations and the religious right.'
' ... This is the worst president ever, she said. He is the worst president in all of American history. '
Via skimble.

' There's a better form of security: reconnect with the rest of the world, don't shut it out; stop making enemies and start making friends.'

Church Sex. Thanks, jp.

'The explosion of non-verbal communication has transformed the lives of deaf people, says Kim Thomas'.

22nd January
Belated blog birthday wishes to Enigmatic Mermaid.

Bacterial Terrarium. 'In the 1880's, a Russian microbiologist named Sergei Winogradsky discovered that water mud poured into a tall bottle and placed in the sun turned many different colors. He found that by adding a few simple things, such as sheese or paper, he could control which colors appeared. Here's a recipe for making your own Winogradsky column. '

Beyond the Microscope: Stories of Science. 'Beyond the Microscope: Stories of Science is an exhibition appearing on the second floor of Robarts Library, University of Toronto from 16 March to 6 April 2001. It explores a historic collection of scientific instruments, their significance, and the types of stories they can tell us ... '

Very Early Microscopy in the Department of Physics, University of Toronto: A Personal Recollection. From the introduction :- 'While this report is about the origins of the electron microscope and electron microscopy in North America at the University of Toronto, it is hoped that it will also reveal some feeling for the life of a graduate student in Physics at the University during the years of World War II and the waning years of the Great Depression, when the first electron microscope in North America was constructed and developed in the Department of Physics. I did not reach Toronto until the autumn of 1939. Consequently, what I report for the history of those years before 1939, is based upon conversations I have had with those who were there and my re-reading of the few available accounts for those years (1, 2, 3), including my own (4, 5, 6, 7, 8) ... '

Art Nouveau, 1890-1914. 'This Web feature offers a glimpse behind the scenes during the planning and construction of an exhibition at the National Gallery of Art. Art Nouveau,1890-1914, the largest and most comprehensive exhibition on the subject ever organized, presents one of the most innovative and exuberant of all modern art styles and the places where it flourished. The exhibition is on view at the Gallery October 8, 2000, through January 28, 2001.'

The Miraculous Draught of Fishes, Jacopo Bassano, 1545.

18th- and 19th-Century Walking Sticks from the Hermitage Collection. Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.

German Expressionism. Graphic works from the Lindenau-Museum, Altenburg, Germany.

Dream of the Red Chamber: An Experience in Traditional Chinese Aesthetics. 'In masterful traditional Chinese style, artist An Ho has created twelve life size images of the major female characters in the 18th century Chinese novel, The Dream of the Red Chamber. This legendary work by Cao Xueqin is considered by many to be the finest Chinese novel ever written. Literary scholar Dr. Kam-ming Wong has described the novel as "so rich and complex in its depiction of traditional Chinese society and culture that more than one scholar has characterized it as an encyclopedia of Chinese civilization." ... '

The Many Faces of Buddha. 'This exhibition contained 40 works of arts, representing the spiritual and peaceful image of Buddha. The pieces were representative of Buddhist images from 12 countries, including: Tibet, Korea, Cambodia, Thailand, India, and Japan. Many of the pieces in the exhibit, which are made primarily of bronze, gilt bronze, marble and wood, had never previously been on display to the public. Kitty Higgins, a Far Eastern Art expert and owner of a gallery in Washington, D.C., was the curator of the exhibition and collected the works from private collectors. This was the first American exhibit in 50 years devoted exclusively to the Buddha ... '

Netsuke. 'For centuries in pre-modern Japan kimonos were the basic wearing apparel for both men and women, but these garments did not have pockets. Japanese women usually carried their small personal accessories in their kimono sleeves, or tucked them into their wide kimono sashes. However, Japanese men normally tied their personal accessories to toggled cords and suspended them from the kimono sash, creating detachable, external pockets ... '

A History of Edo Period Painting. 'In early times the eyes of Japan seemed always to be directed beyond its oceans. Its educated and ruling classes forced the Japanese to submerge their own inherent tendencies to that of their huge neighbors. Indeed they emulated China's customs and art to such an extent, that even today, many think Japanese art merely a copy of the Chinese. But this is not so. The Japanese are not a people to be content forever with someone else's culture. And those rulers of Japan who had imported the Chinese way of life slowly began to lose their power. The Imperial court and their sophisticated advisors were being replaced by the fighting soldier, the Samurai ... '

Sukuma Chiefs and Royal History. 'The role of the chief in Usukuma has gone through many transformations since the Sixteenth Century when the area began to be organized by hierarchical chiefdoms and not villages. This took place during the migration of the Babinza, Bakwimba, Balongo, Bangolo, and Basega. These groups were mostly responsible for consolidating the sparsely populated areas in the Lake Victoria region and the local clans under their leadership. Their exogenous customs combined with the indigenous people are now considered Wasukuma. The Kisukuma word for chief, ntemi, derives from the verb Kutema and literally means to cut down trees or to clear bush. This recalls the role of the early chiefs in blessing the land at the beginning of each cultivation season, when the land was cleared and could also refer to the cutting short of arguments following an important discussion by village elders ... '
Sukuma dancing. 'Dancing is a vital part of Sukuma life. The Sukuma are famous throughout Tanzania for their innovative dancing styles. Dancers continue to perform and compete in annual competitions, creating new costumes and using new and old dances just as their ancestors did over a hundred years ago. Some suggest that many of the current Sukuma dances started through cooperative farming groups who traveled from farm to farm. Members assisted one another to till their own farms and also worked as a group in exchange for money. To help pass the long day and to maintain their energy, the workers composed songs and lifted their hoes to the rhythm of singing and drumming. Such cooperative groups still exist; yet, Sukuma dancing is not limited to farm work ... '
Via the Sukuma Museum, Tanzania.

Quilts and Quiltmaking in America, 1978-1996. 'Quilts and Quiltmaking in America showcases materials from two American Folklife Center collections, the Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project Collection (1978) and the "All-American Quilt Contest" sponsored by Coming Home, a division of Lands' End, and Good Housekeeping. Together these collections provide a glimpse into America's diverse quilting traditions. The quilt documentation from the Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project, an ethnographic field project conducted by the American Folklife Center in cooperation with the National Park Service, includes 229 photographs and 181 recorded interviews with six quiltmakers in Appalachian North Carolina and Virginia. These materials document quilts and quilting within the context of daily life and reflect a range of backgrounds, motivations, and aesthetic sensibilities. The materials presented from the Lands' End All-American Quilt Contest collection include images of approximately 180 winning quilts from across the United States. The collection represents a wide range of quiltmaking, from highly traditional to innovative, and the quilts pictured exhibit excellent design and technical skill in a variety of styles and materials. '
Speaking of Quilts: Voices from the Late Twentieth Century. 'We Americans have adopted quilts as a symbol of what we value about ourselves and our national history. We speak of quilts as evidence of ingenuity and resourcefulness, and the patchwork quilt has replaced the melting pot as the metaphor for the cultural diversity of our population. However, just as our national motto, E pluribus unum, "One, from many," encompasses the collective history of individuals from many backgrounds, American quilts have many stories to tell.'
Blue Ridge quilters.

Washington As It Was. Photographs by Theodor Horydczak, 1923-1959. 'Spanning from the mid 1920s through the 1950s, the Theodor Horydczak collection (about 14,350 photographs online) documents the architecture and social life of the Washington metropolitan area in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, including exteriors and interiors of commercial, residential, and government buildings, as well as street scenes and views of neighborhoods. A number of Washington events and activities, such as the 1932 Bonus Army encampment, the 1933 World Series, and World War II preparedness campaigns, are also depicted ... '

Architecture and Interior Design for 20th Century America. Photographs by Samuel Gottscho and William Schleisner. 'The Gottscho-Schleisner Collection is comprised of over 29,000 images primarily of architectural subjects, including interiors and exteriors of homes, stores, offices, factories, historic buildings, and other structures. Subjects are concentrated chiefly in the northeastern United States, especially the New York City area, and Florida. Included are the homes of notable Americans, such as Raymond Loewy, and of several U.S. presidents, as well as color images of the 1939-40 New York World's Fair. Many of the photographs were commissioned by architects, designers, owners and architectural publications, and document important achievements in American 20th-century architecture and interior design.'

A Jury of Her Peers. 'Join our journey through a classic short story, "A Jury of Her Peers," by Susan Glaspell. Along the way, you'll solve the mystery of whether Minnie Wright killed her husband and explore the story's literary elements. You will also encounter rest stops where you can read more about the structure of story and take part in activities related to "A Jury of Her Peers" ... '

Holidays of a Lifetime. 'We had a holiday in Blackpool in the 1950s. The weather was diabolical. It was a howling gale and we used to sit in the caf and watch the people holding on to lampposts, wearing a pac-a-mac and being blown along. Being plastic they kept the wind in them like a wind sail.' (Betty Phillips, born in London, 1923)

The Sherlock Holmes Museums, 221b Baker Street, London.
Pipe-smokers' clubs.

Jack the Ripper. 'By today's standards of crime, Jack the Ripper would barely make the headlines, murdering a mere five prostitutes in a huge slum swarming with criminals: just one more violent creep satisfying his perverted needs on the dregs of society. No one would be incensed as were the respectable families of the pretty college students that were Ted Bundy's victims or the children tortured and mutilated by John Wayne Gacy. We have become a society numbed by horrible crimes inflicted upon many victims. '
'Why then, over a hundred years later, are there allegedly more books written on Jack than all of the American presidents combined? Why are there stories, songs, operas, movies and a never-ending stream of books on this one Victorian criminal? Why is this symbol of terror as popular a subject today as he was in Victorian London? ... '

The Cutty Sark.

The Tower of London. Virtual tour.

Four Artists, Four Objects, Ten Years. 'However, in 1986 a unique view into the mechanics of the creative process was provided by Janet Fish, Sondra Freckelton, Nancy Hagin, and Harriet Shorr. Through a group of interlocking paintings constructed around four objects, they presented an opportunity to track their various approaches to the art of the still life. Then again in 1996, they decided to repeat their endeavor.'
'The germination of this collaboration took shape quite casually over drinks at Fanelli's after a panel discussion at Cooper Union. The four painters agreed that they would each select an article which all four would then include in a still life composition. None of the pieces could have made an appearance in any of their previous works, and all of the paintings were to remain out of view until the entire quartet was completed ... '

A Visit from St. Nicholas, by Clement Clarke Moore.

The guilt-free soldier.

The animated growth of the USA.

' Many of ANSWER's lead organizers have close ties ... to the Workers World Party ... Some of the WWP's more controversial positions are its support for the governments of Iraq and North Korea; its backing of former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic; its claims that reports of Serb atrocities against Muslims and Croats were overblown; its defense as recently as 2000 of the Chinese government's deadly crackdown against pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in 1989.'
Via the null device.
As an aside, read how the Trots destroyed the Nuclear Disarmament Party in Australia using entryist tactics. Are Stalinists now imitating the techniques of their historic enemies?

Weblog wordsearch.
Answers here.
Courtesy of troubled diva.
(Update - the archive links seem to be down at the moment - problem at Blogspot? But you can still see the wordsearch by scrolling down a bit... )

Liberation Spectrum by Cory Doctorow.

How long would you survive as a newborn mammal?
Via Nonharmful.