plep Archive

4th March
A few links posted over the last day or two seem to have gone south - adjustments have been made where necessary. Thanks are due to Languagehat for the pointer.

Robert Winkler - Nature Writing. 'Welcome to a collection of essays on birds and other wildlife in New England's "suburban wilderness." ' Excellent.

The Man Who Draws Dinosaurs All Day.

Arnold and Jacques.

Matteo Ricci: On Chinese Government, Selection from his Journals (1583-1610 CE).
'Matteo Ricci (1552-1610 CE) was born into a noble Italian family. At the age of 16 he was sent to Rome to study law but became more interested in the new science that was sweeping Western Europe. He studied mathematics and astronomy and then petitioned to join the Jesuits. He was sent on a Jesuit mission to the Far East and studied for the priesthood in east India. He was assigned the difficult task of organizing a mission to China, a task at which earlier Jesuit missionaries had failed. Ricci learned the Chinese language with such proficiency that he persuaded officials to allow him into the country where he taught Chinese intellectuals about mathematics and science and published the first six books of Euclid's Elements in Chinese. After a long delay he was finally allowed to enter the closed City of Peking in 1601, where he stayed for the rest of his life teaching science, mathematics, and Christianity to Chinese intellectuals. '

Hsieh Ch'ing kao: Selections from The Hai-lu (1783-1797 CE).
'While there are many travelogues in which Europeans describe the new cultures they encountered during their travels abroad, there are far fewer accounts of Europe by non-Western observers. Even as late as the end of the eighteenth century, well-informed Chinese only knew what they had been told of Europe by European travelers to China. Thus The Hai-Lu of Hsieh Ch'ing kao is an important travel account, which reverses the conventional viewpoint. Hsieh Ch'ing kao traveled throughout Western Europe during a 14--year period between 1783 and 1797. He worked, presumably as an able bodied seamen, on a Chinese merchant ship.'
'Hsieh Ch 'ing kao (1765-1822) was illiterate and went blind during the course of his travels. Thus the places he had seen were deeply etched in his memory. Toward the end of his life, he dictated his account to one of the local shoolboys. While it is possible that he traveled to America, as his excerpt suggests, it is more likely that he heard tales of the invention of the steamship rather than saw one ... '

Beyond the Blue: The Art of Maxfield Parrish. 'Between the world wars, artist Maxfield Parrish was the common man's Rembrandt. When a Parrish print was placed in a department store window, crowds gathered to admire it. Hotels hung his dreamscapes in their lobbies. Housewives bought his calendars, viewed them for a year, then cut off the dates and framed the pictures. His 1922 painting Daybreak became a decorating sensation and pop icon of the 1920s, selling more than 200,000 prints ... '

Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966). A brief biography.

Posters at the National Museum of American Art. Article about a 1998 exhibition, with some great poster images.

Illustration House. Dedicated to the fine art of illustration.
'For over twenty years, Illustration House, Inc. has been America's foremost gallery devoted to the art and history of illustration. '

African Voices. Smithsonian exhibit - superb.

The Beauty of Bare Bones. 'For more than 30 years the 58-year-old artist has devoted himself to transforming relics from nature's midden into art objects of uncommon beauty. His meticulously rendered, often monumental, graphite drawings of bones invite the viewer to see these relics in a new way--to journey beyond their ordinary anatomical context to a deeper, more spiritual realm ... '
Gendron Jensen Studio. 'In all my years of artistic poustinia on behalf of the wild creatures' relics, people have asked me, "Why bones?" It is no surprise that our bones and those of our fellow creatures have held wonder since before human habits of naming ... '

Photos of You, Ines Ulanovky.

The Absence, Santiago Porter.
From the introduction :-
'On July 18, 1994, at nine fifty three in the morning, a bomb exploded in front of the building of the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association. The AMIA. '
'In a way, the AMIA was the home of the Jewish community in Buenos Aires. In the building, located in the heart of the city, a whole set of social, cultural and educational activities took place. Inside its walls functioned an employment office, a schooling network, the Center for the Study of Argentine Judaism and the Jewish Science Institute, among other organizations ... '
' ... With time, victims of catastrophes of this magnitude unavoidably become-except for their family- figures in statistics or files in a trial.'
'My project focuses on each one of the eighty-five persons who were murdered and their relatives. The idea for this work came up months before the sixth anniversary of the bombing. At the beginning of that year I finally worked out how to approach this series in terms of photography, and shortly after I began taking the first images ... '

Old News Is Good News. 'A burly man with a white beard sits late at night smoking, making notes and fielding phone calls from California, New York and many points in between. He jots numbers on small pieces of paper, then reports them to the various callers. '
'Welcome to an old newspapers auction. The process begins with a mailed catalogue and ends with faxes and late-night phone calls as unseen collectors bid against each other ... '

On This Day in History.

Alice Austen House. 19th century American photographer.

Small Town America Stereoscopic Views.

Looking Both Ways. Heritage and identity of the Alutiiq people of southern Alaska.

The Edicts of King Asoka.
'King Asoka, the third monarch of the Indian Mauryan dynasty, has come to be regarded as one of the most exemplary rulers in world history. The British historian H.G. Wells has written: "Amidst the tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd the columns of history ... the name of Asoka shines, and shines almost alone, a star." Although Buddhist literature preserved the legend of this ruler -- the story of a cruel and ruthless king who converted to Buddhism and thereafter established a reign of virtue -- definitive historical records of his reign were lacking. Then in the nineteenth century there came to light a large number of edicts, in India, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan. These edicts, inscribed on rocks and pillars, proclaim Asoka's reforms and policies and promulgate his advice to his subjects. The present rendering of these edicts, based on earlier translations, offers us insights into a powerful and capable ruler's attempt to establish an empire on the foundation of righteousness, a reign which makes the moral and spiritual welfare of his subjects its primary concern. The Australian bhikkhu Ven. S. Dhammika, the compiler of the present work, is the spiritual director of the Buddha Dhamma Mandala Society in Singapore. '

Ashoka, King of Behar: The Rock Edicts, c. 257 BCE.

3rd March
Haskell Indian Nations University Cultural Centre & Archive. 'Haskell Indian Nations University is one of the oldest and most recognized American Indian/Alaska Native Universities in the United States. Founded in 1884 as the U.S. Industrial Training School, in Lawrence, Kansas, Haskell was originally established to assimilate Native American children into mainstream America. The United States wanted to solve the "Indian problem" and they viewed education as the fastest and most complete means of achieving that end. It was felt that removing Indian children from their families and communities would remove the influences preventing the American Indian from becoming productive and acceptable members of the dominant society ... '
'Once a center to remove all traces of tribal identity, Haskell now is a center for advanced academic study and cultural preservation. Working to preserve the vast history of Haskell's evolution from boarding school to university, Haskell Indian Nations University is in the process of building a cultural center and museum to house its archive collections, artifacts and oral histories projects ... '
Beyond the Reach of Time and Change. American Indian portraits.

A Holocaust of Little Girls. From the South China Morning Post, 1995.
'Mei-ming has lain this way for 10 days now: tied up in urine-soaked blankets, scabs of dried mucus growing across her eyes, her face shrinking to a skull, malnutrition slowly shrivelling her two-year old body. The orphanage staff call her room the "dying room", and they have abandoned here for the very same reasons her parents abandoned her shortly after she was born. She is a girl. '

Fu Xuan: Woman. (c. 3rd century CE).

Les Catacombs, Paris.
The Ile de la Cite by night.
Jim Morrison's Paris.
Paris cityscapes.
All with amusing commentary.

The European Voynich Manuscript Transcription Project. 'In 1912, Wilfrid M. Voynich (a book collector) bought a medieval or early modern manuscript (234 pages) written in an unknown script and what appears to be an unknown language or cipher from the Jesuit College at the Villa Mondragone, Frascati, in Italy (near Rome). Apparently, Voynich wanted to have the mysterious manuscript deciphered and provided photographic copies to a number of experts. However, despite the efforts of many well known cryptologists and scholars, the book remains unread. There are a number of claims of decipherment, but to date, none of these can be substantiated after critical analysis. The book was bought by H. P. Kraus (a New York book antiquarian) in 1961 for the sum of $24,500. He later valued it at $160,000 but was unable to find a buyer. Finally, he donated it to Yale University in 1969, where it remains to date at the Beinecke Rare Book Library with catalogue number MS 408. '

The Washington Banana Museum. 'The Washington Banana Museum curator is Ann Mitchell Lovell. Ann has assembled close to 4,000 items, a melange of artifacts, folk art and other cultural oddities devoted to the world's perfect fruit. Assembled by a longtime scholar of banana consciousness, it features a compendium of whimsical and serious representations of the #1-selling fruit in the United States. '

London's Subterranean River Fleet. 'The longest and most important of London's subterranean rivers is the river Fleet. It rises from springs a mile apart on Hampstead Heath, which feed a line of ponds on either side of Parliament Hill. One spring fills Highgate Ponds on the north side of Parliament Hill, and the other fills Hampstead Ponds to the south. These ponds were dug in the early 1700's as water reservoirs for London ... '

Women in China: Past and Present.

Marco Polo [1254-1324]: Travels in China. Some interesting excerpts.
'Marco Polo [1254-1324], the most famous of medieval European travelers. returned to Venice, his hometown, in 1295 after an absence of twenty-five years in the East. He claimed to have spent seventeen years in the service of Kublai Khan, ruler of the Mongols and of the largest empire in the world. He had many stories to tell. These stories were eventually written down by Rustichiello of Pisa, who heard them while sharing a Genoese prison with Polo, sometimes after 1298 ... '

Herbals. Scanned pages from herbals dating from the 6th to the 12th centuries, plus a page from the Voynich Manuscript.

Prefaces to Various Language Editions of the Communist Manifesto.

Socialist and Communist Flags, Spain, 1931-39.

Pirate Image Archive. Pictures of pirates.

John Bellairs Walk. 'John Bellairs was born in Marshall, Michigan on January 17, 1938. He grew up here, and both his parents and grandparents lived here. As a young boy, he roamed its streets and knew it well. When he began writing books, he adapted many of its streets, buildings, and surroundings to fit his stories ... '

Maps of the Middle Atlantic Region to 1850, 'depicting the Middle Atlantic region of North America, dating from about 1660 to 1850, culled from the Map Division's extensive collections. ' (Link fixed 4th March).

Ancient Royal Thai Fruit and Vegetable Carving. Via MeFi.

Full Moon Names and Their Meanings. Via MeFi.

A long time ago I experimented with adding comments to this site. The experiment failed because it slowed the site down too much. However, in a concession to public opinion, there is now a guestbook. Don't all rush at once, now.

1st March
Chinese Poems.
Via Languagehat.

Where you live in one single photograph or picture. The best Metafilter thread I've read in a long time.

"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?" - Gandhi.

"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." - Einstein.

"Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events." - Churchill.

More War is Stupid quotes.

Photography in Africa by Ami Vitale.

Japan Punk Project.

Hidden Power: The Palace Eunuchs of Imperial China. 'Down through the centuries of China's dynastic rule, officials repeatedly memorialized the Dragon Throne, pleading that eunuch interference in state affairs be curbed. However, almost none recommended that the ancient eunuch system be abolished. This is but one indication of how deeply ingrained in Chinese thinking was the custom that allowed only sexless males to serve the Imperial Presence, the ladies of his royal family, and his thousands of' concubines, all amassed together in the "Great Within' behind forbidden palace doors ... '

Pasteur in Australia. 'The Pasteur Institute undertook significant work in Australia during the late 1800s. Pasteur and his colleagues attempted to curb the growing rabbit population (unsuccessfully). However, they were successful in developing several other vaccines, including one for the dreaded disease Anthrax. Rodd Island, in Sydney, NSW, was the base of their operations ... '

Deutsche Bank Kunst. Deutsche Bank, one of the world's largest banks, is also a major patron of the arts.

Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin. 'Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin is situated on Under den Linden in the old and new centre of Berlin. The museum's unusual name derives from its initiators - Deutsche Bank and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation - and of course from its location, Berlin. This co-operation represents a unique joint venture between a bank and a museum.'

Crossing the Hudson River with 34 Miles of Wire Rope. Building the George Washington Bridge. Illustrated history.
More at the John A. Roebling's Sons Company online history archive.

Collective Terms for Animals in English.

World Wide Words. 'Investigating international English from a British viewpoint.' A great site with interesting articles on the history of English, the origins of words, and the many ways of communicating in English across the world.

The Word Detective. 'The Word Detective on the Web is the online version of The Word Detective, a newspaper column answering readers' questions about words and language. The Word Detective is written by Evan Morris and appears in finer newspapers in the U.S., Mexico and Japan.'

The Death of the Last Emperor's Last Eunuch, 1996. New York Times, Dec. 20, 1996.
'Over the centuries,. the most secretive and grotesque corner of China's extensive imperial court belonged to the fraternity of special guardians, the eunuchs, whose high voices, and soft demeanors often cloaked the viciousness of their back alley politiking and custody of the Fordbidden City's magnificent exotica ...'

Lessons for a Woman, Ban Zhao, c. 80 CE.
' ... In every age, moreover, a handful of extraordinary women managed to acquire literary educations or otherwise achieve positions of far-ranging influence and authority despite social constraints. The foremost female Confucian of the age of Han was Ban Zhao (ca 45-116 CE), younger sister of the court historian Ban Gu (32 - 92 CE). Upon Gu's death,, Zhao served as imperial historian under Emperor Han Hedi (r. 88-105 CE) and completed her brother's Han Annals, a history of the Former Han Dynasty, which is generally regarded as second only to the historical work of Sima Qian. Ban Zhao also served as an adviser on state matters to the Empress Deng, who assumed power as regent for her infant son in 106 CE ... '

Giant Lava Lamp. 'Theme structures built for cities throughout the world are constructed to draw attention and tourists. As someone said, "never underestimate the power of awe." Paris has the Eiffel Tower, Seattle has the Space Needle and Soap Lake has the worlds largest Lava Lamp!'

The Late, Great Works of Delacroix.

Excerpts from Delacroix's Journal.

Banished Words List.
''Make no mistakes about it,' Lake Superior State University issued its 28th annual 'extreme' List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness, which the world needs 'now, more than ever.' '
'LSSU has been compiling the list since 1976, choosing from nominations sent from around the world. This year, words and phrases were pulled from a record 3,000 nominations. Most were sent through the school's website:'
'Word-watchers pull nominations throughout the year from everyday speech, as well as from the news, fields of education, technology, advertising, politics, and more. A committee gathers the entries and chooses the best in December. The list is released on New Year's Day.'

Ani-Gram, or animated anigram; one per day. (Best viewed on a fast connection).

Visual Thesaurus. (Best viewed on a fast connection).

Word Puzzles. (Best viewed on a fast connection).

Excerpts from Slave Narratives, from 1682 to 1880.
' Olaudah Equiano, an Ibo from Nigeria, was just 11 years old when he was kidnapped into slavery. He was held captive in West Africa for seven months and then sold to British slavers, who shipped him to Barbados and then took him to Virginia. After serving a British naval officer, he was sold to a Quaker merchant from Philadelphia who allowed him to purchase his freedom in 1766. In later life, he played an active role in the movement to abolish the slave trade. '
' Kidnapped at the age of six, Venture Smith was sold to the stewart on a slave ship and brought to Connecticut. At the age of 31, after several changes of ownership, he purchased his freedom with money that he earned by hiring out his labor and "cleaning musk- rats and minks, raising potatoes and carrots, and by fishing in the night, and at odd spells." In order to purchase his wife and sons, he fished, sailed on a whaler, ferried wood from Long Island to Rhode Island, and raised watermelons. Later, he actually became a slaveholder, purchasing at least three slaves. At his death at the age of 77 in 1805 in East Haddam, Connecticut, he left a hundred- acre farm and three houses. '