Saturday 17 February 2024

selenology (11. 356)

From the Amusing Planet’s archives, we are directed towards the 1874 work of engineer and hobbyist astronomer and photographer James Nasmyth of Edinburgh through his speculate volume on lunar geology called The Moon: Considered as a Planet, a World, and a Satellite, a compendium of research and observations, supplemented by a number of highly detailed photographic plates produced during a time when it was not technically possible to take such striking images directly through a telescope. Instead, Nasmyth improvised by making sketches from what he could see through his self-made observatory and transforming them into plaster relief scale models and photographing those under electric illumination to highlight the shadows and contours of his topographic globes. This work carried out after retirement from heavy industry, having invented the hydraulic press and the steam hammer and other machine tools, an impact crater (he had incorrectly theorised volcanic origins, though later research confirms lava flows) on the Moon is named in honour of Nasmyth himself, just to the west of the pictured Wargentin, for his lifetime of accomplishments.

Monday 12 February 2024

itinerarium angliรฆ (11. 346)

Reminiscent of this strip map showing all the cursus publicus of the Roman Empire, Futility Closet directs our attention to this seventeenth century road atlas project presented to Charles II mapping the main routes of England and Wales from cartographer John Ogilby. A choreographer and dance master before suffering a debilitating accident, turning to translation, producing authoritative versions of Aesops Fables as well as Virgil and Homer (derided by some academic contemporaries but since rehabilitated for their scholarship), re-establishing the tradition of the theatre following the Restoration, in which he played a major role as master of ceremonies and speech writer, before turning to publishing, Ogilby the impresario was adept at reinvention. Spanning the three nations in one hundred illustrated plates, a two-volume pocket version of Britannia was printed in 1757 after several editions for the library shelf. Though considered the imprint for uniformity of scale and the standard adopted by later mapmakers and surveyors, it notably omitted the way to Liverpool. Taken up by later printing concerns, Britannia Depicta; or Ogilby improv’d was produced well into the the Victoria Era.

 synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit, the involuted generation plus every TARDIS interior

two years ago: Germany’s Institute for Population Research, The Dance of Death (1912), calibrating the JWST, more links to enjoy plus Amen Corner

three years ago: bad bird namesRhapsody in Blue (1924) plus prints of today’s catch

four years ago: disinformation wars, photos of Soviet Moldova plus the people’s choice award for Wildlife Photography

five years ago: dying news outlets plus SVG street maps

Tuesday 2 January 2024

and surely ye’ll be your pint-cup and surely i’ll be mine (11. 238)

In light of recent toasting and cheering and an earlier post on translation of popular lyrics, we enjoyed learning about the Japanese verses inserted into the Robert Burns’ poem made into a New Year’s tradition. Initially used for a completely separate purpose, Hotaru no Hikari (The Glow of a Firefly, ่›ใฎๅ…‰) set to the tune of the Scottish folk song was used for school matriculations and graduations and played also as outro music at shops and restaurants to signal closing time for customers, a few lines from this other composition in Japanese are added to Auld Lange Syne to ring in the New Year. Much more at Language Log at the link above including various performances of the different versions.

Saturday 9 December 2023

sumer is icumen in (11. 175)

Directed by Robin Hardy and featuring the acting talents of Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee, the British folk horror classic The Wicker Man opened in limited release on this day in 1973 and tells the story of a police sergeant dispatched to a remote Hebridean island to investigate the disappearance of a young missing girl. Conducting his search, the sergeant, a faithful Christian, is rather taken aback to discover that the inhabitants have reverted to a form of Celtic paganism, learning that a few generations ago, a Victorian agronomist had cultivated a strain of fruit trees that could thrive in the harsh Scottish environment and due to the promising bounty had conduced more of the population to embrace traditional ways. Learning that a human sacrifice is in order to propitiate the gods, the police office becomes convinced that the missing girl is being held alive and prepared for the ritual, and taking the ceremonial garb and mask of the procession’s participant from the settlement’s innkeeper where he is staying, seeks to liberate the girl before the act can be executed as penance for the doomed harvest. The rescued girl, however, was never the intended sacrifice, the locals tell him but rather the officer himself as a figure of authority, a willing party, ignorant of their ways and a virgin. Wicker Man was celebrated as part of British heritage during the 2012 opening ceremonies for the London Olympic Games and the title medieval English round, also known as the Summer Canon, was part of the 1972 Munich summer games with a performance of this rota performed by children prancing about the stadium track.

Saturday 10 June 2023

8x8 (10. 799)

within the wok’s embrace, the dance begins, as secrets blend with savoury sins: Scott D Seligman asked ChatGPT for a pad thai recipe in the style of Emily Dickinson and got an epic 

dockhands: the latest line from Faith O’Hare is inspired by the workwear of the shipyards of the Cylde

hongmeng project: China’s space agency is placing a ring of telescopes in orbit around the Moon to explore the cosmic Dark Age just after the Big Bang  

take care now: inclusive Pride post by Cracker Barrel provokes conservative fury over the loss of this family-friendly bastion—see previously 

reference material: Ars Technica contributor Benj Edwards purchased a copy of the only encyclopaedia still in print  

supergranulation: Parker probe exploring the Sun offers science clues on the origin of solar wind 

blitz kids: a celebration of the fashion of Gary Kemp and Spandau Ballet—previously here and here

 expandart: B3ta community teaching AI how to think beyond the frame—see previously—via Waxy

Sunday 23 April 2023

carolvs secvndvs (10. 694)

With his regnal namesake successor’s coronation coming up in a couple of weeks, we look back at the enthronement ceremony of 1661 of Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland that took place on this day, St George’s Day, in Westminster Abbey. Fighting alongside his father against the forces of Oliver Cromwell throughout the English Civil War, escaping to Scotland via the Hague and France after Charles I was beheaded, and was there proclaimed King of the Scots at Scone the decade prior. Cromwell’s own death in 1658 (his heir having little interest in maintaining the role of Lord Protector) opened a path to the restoration of the monarchy, entering London with popular acclaim in May 1660, having to wait nearly a year before the ceremony could take place as the royal regalia needed to be replaced, melted for bullion and precious jewels sold during the Commonwealth period, and lengthy preparations by officers of the court and Church. The coronation service and procession from the Tower of London (occurring the day before and attended by various members of the royal household and dukes and viscounts), a very public and patriotic spectacle, was well documented by diarist Samuel Pepys, who remarks about getting up at four in the morning, queuing up until eleven, poor acoustics, not getting his hands on one of the commemorative medals and sovereigns flung to the crowd by the Lord Chancellor and not being able to see the king crowned despite being at the abbey.

Tuesday 28 March 2023

7x7 (10. 642)

one day near salinas: a sizeable California city has no local coverage, with original content limited to paid obituaries—see also 

suzanne primate: every documentary about historical Edinburgh 

ugly duchess: Quinten Massy’s 1513 portrait, “The Old Woman” is likely a drag queen 

the future is a dead mall: Dan Olson on the impoverished, dystopian metaverse as a third-place—via Waxy  

confessions of an idiom: the proverbial elephant in the room confronts the skeleton in the closet 

the pictish trail: wanderlust in northern Scotland  

strategies to foreground vertical video: media company Gannet’s success has little to do with journalism—via the New Shelton wet/drysee also

Saturday 11 March 2023

royal assent (10. 604)

On the advice of her ministers, fearing that proposed armed force would be rebellious and side with the Jacobite Uprising supported by the French militarily, Queen Anne vetoed “An Act for Settling the Militia of that Part of Great Britain called Scotland” on this day in 1708 after its passage by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. 

The objective was to re-establish an armed force not provided for during the Restoration and the Acts of Union from the previous years, and was rejected by the monarch at the last moment upon the news that an invasion fleet was en route to Scotland. The ‘Enterprise d’ร‰cosse’ as a branch skirmish of the War of the Spanish Succession to place James Stuart on the throne failed to materialise. With the exception of forbearance in the overseas colonies, this withholding of royal assent was the last time Britain’s king or queen stopped passage of a bill of Parliament.

Sunday 26 February 2023

radio detection and ranging (10. 574)

Already having pioneered and already discovered practical applications for radio direction finding in the 1920s for meteorology by using the signals given off by lightning to track thunderstorms—known as high-frequency direction finding or huff-duff, and then conscripted into service in tracing submarines, their bearings revealed by intercepted communications, on this day in 1935—after being asked by a reporter to comment on the possibility of a death ray that the Nazis were rumoured to be developing and assuring the public it was not feasible but sparked another idea—Robert Alexander Watson Watt and partner Arnold Wilkins made the first public demonstration of the technology that would become known as radar by bouncing a signal from a BBC short-wave transmitted off an aircraft, showing its location and velocity could be calculated by measuring the time it took for the object’s echo to return.

Sunday 19 February 2023

7x7 (10. 559)

wolf-whistle: the lexical corpus of canines and US supreme court justices  

deportment: how to act around books  

meres, lochs and llyns: regional variations in names for alleys and narrow walkways in the UK  

linkboy: living in a Dark Sky area, we enjoyed reading about the first town’s to be certified embracing that honour—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links—which is also the source of the expression ‘cannot hold a candle to’ 

official state crap: legislature of New Mexico introduces a bill to create a state aroma, the first of its kind 

cher and charo: a duet of “America” from West Side Story—see previously  

nachtrรคglichkeit: Jude Stewart on sticking with German and the pursuit on bilingualism

Friday 27 January 2023

and the girl in the corner is everyone’s mourner—she could kill you with a wink of the eye (10. 502)

Inspired by a unruly audience driving the band off the stage on this day in 1973 whilst performing in Kilmarnoc at the Grand Hall of the Palace Theatre—the booing and bottling ensuing perhaps the British glam rock group didn’t fit in with the rest of the line up—The Sweet would go on to release in September one of their biggest hits narrating the tense moments before their exuent. The Ballroom Blitz has been covered numerous times and featured in the soundtrack of several films including Wayne’s World.

Sunday 15 January 2023

spider web castle (10. 420)

Considered among the finest adaptations of the Scottish play with production and development deferred for six years after learning that Orson Welles directed his own Macbeth in 1948, Akira Kurosawa’s (previously) transposition of the plot of Shakespeare’s masterwork to feudal Japan (่œ˜่››ๅทฃๅŸŽ, Kumononsu-jล—literally the above title but released in English-speaking markets as Throne of Blood) premiered in Tokyo on this day in 1957. Under contract to produce three samurai movies (jidaigeki—period, costume dramas) for Toho studios, Spider Web Castle was originally slated to go to director Ishirล Honda, best known for his 1954 kaiju classic Godzilla but Kurosawa ended up making the trio of films. His 1960 The Bad Sleep Well was informed by Hamlet—though not a direct correspondence—and Kurosawa’s final work Ran, which is based off of King Lear. Throne of Blood in turn influenced Roman Polanski’s adaptation of Macbeth and the death of Taketoki Wasizu (the Lady Macbeth analogue) inspired the death of the mother of the titular Carrie in the 1976 horror classic.

Friday 13 January 2023

saint mungo (10. 412)

Also known as Kentigern or the Welsh name Cyndeyrn Garthwys, the missionary to the the Kingdom of Strathclyde, fรชted on this day, the anniversary of his death in 614 (*518), Mungo is the patron-protector of the City of Glasgow, salmon, champion of those accused of infidelity and invoked against bullies. In his Vita, four miracles are recorded, remembered in the verse:
 

Here is the bird that never flew
Here is the tree that never grew
Here is the bell that never rang
Here is the fish that never swam 

As reflected in his iconography, Mungo restored life to a robin that had been killed by some cruel students, feel asleep and let a fire go out—but kindled it with a hazel branch, the bell brought from Rome to mourn the dead, with the fish referring to a story about Queen Languoreth who was accused of cheating by her husband King Riderch, claiming the philandering consort had given away her wedding ring to a lover, when in reality the king had purloined it and tossed it into the River Clyde—faced with execution, the queen appealed the the saint for help, who in turn had an orderly fetch a fish, miraculously containing the missing ring in question.

Sunday 8 January 2023

if only they could talk (10. 397)

Based on the title novel by Glasgow veterinary surgeon Alf Wight (writing under the pseudonym James Herriot), Bill Sellars’ comedic drama series All Creatures Great and Small premiered on the BBC on this day in 1978. Running for a total of seven seasons and then rebooted in 2020, the show is set in 1930 Yorkshire uplands, it portrays the triumphs and challenges of a rural veterinary practise of Siegfried Farnon and the pseudonymous author.

 

Saturday 3 December 2022

6x6 (10. 357)

yuletide: Spitalfield’s Life welcomes the Festive Season with George Cruikshank’s illustrations—see previously  

isle of vaila: a remote mansion in the Shetlands comes on the market—via Strange Company  

hoops and loopholes: NPR’s Planet Money surveys the US tax code and tax-exemptions  

curds and whey: the ecosystems that make up our cheeses—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links  

sight and sound: a once-a-decade poll of critics and filmmakers rates the top one hundred movies of all time  

the duchy of rutland: a Christmas at Belvoir Castle

Saturday 12 November 2022

kelpie (10. 295)

Whilst not as iconic or famous as the so called “surgeon’s photograph” of the 1934 since exposed as an elaborate hoax, the first captured image allegedly showing the cryptid of Loch Ness (previously here and here) was snapped on this day by local Hugh Gray in 1933. Recounting himself he was walking his dog along the shore that morning, many interpret the blurry image as Gray’s Labrador fetching a stick from the water, or otherwise a swan or an otter rolling in a characteristic fashion at the water’s surface.

Sunday 16 October 2022

the market square! the market fair! salted meat i’m selling there! (10. 230)

Beginning its second Broadway revival on this day in 1980, the 1947 Lerner and Loewe collaboration about two American tourist travelling the Scottish Highlands on a game-hunting vacation and stumble upon an enchanted village that does not appear on their map. Named after the Lowlands bridge, Brig o’ Doon, in Robert Burns’ “Tam o’Shanter,” the companions, eligible bachelors variously portrayed by Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse and in a 1966 television adaptation Robert Goulet and Peter Falk, learn that the local minister had asked God to intercede to protect the village from the modern world (not sure that the congregation was consulted on this), and now Brigadoon only appears on appears for one day every century and should any citizens every leave, the miracle will be broken and the village will disappear forever. The musical comedy Schmigadoon! is a modern parody and homage with lost backpackers finding themselves trapped in a Golden Age stage production.

Tuesday 13 September 2022

i have conjured a lily to light these hours, a token of thanks (10. 129)

In his second poem dedicated to the Queen this year, Poet Laureate Simon Armitage (previously) has penned two verses to mark her passing, Floral Tributesee also—whose lines are a double acrostic that spell out her name. 

Evening will come, however determined the late afternoon,
Limes and oaks in their last green flush, pearled in September mist.
I have conjured a lily to light these hours, a token of thanks,

Zones and auras of soft glare framing the brilliant globes.
A promise made and kept for life – that was your gift –
Because of which, here is a gift in return, glovewort to some,
Each shining bonnet guarded by stern lance-like leaves.
The country loaded its whole self into your slender hands,
Hands that can rest, now, relieved of a century’s weight. 

Evening has come.
Rain on the black lochs and dark Munros.
Lily of the Valley, a namesake almost, a favourite flower
Interlaced with your famous bouquets, the restrained
Zeal and forceful grace of its lanterns, each inflorescence
A silent bell disguising a singular voice. A blurred new day
Breaks uncrowned on remote peaks and public parks, and
Everything turns on these luminous petals and deep roots,
This lily that thrives between spire and tree, whose brightness
Holds and glows beyond the life and border of its bloom.

Sunday 11 September 2022

blร r drochaid shruighlea (10. 125)

As part of the First War of Scottish Independence, on this day in 1297, the forces of Andrew Moray and William Wallace took the strategically important crossing of the River Forth and defeated the English armies of the Earl of Surrey and Hugh de Cressingham, the much reviled treasurer of the English administration in Scotland and suggested the losing course of action—which cost him his life by flaying and reportedly ended up being turned into a belt and thongs. After Scottish king John Balliol submitted to Edward I, landholders, the clans were made to acknowledge the overlordship of England, soon afterwards precipitating a revolt. Wallace teamed up with Moray in Dundee and marched on to Stirling (see previously)—commanding a contingent of agile spearmen to advance on the English heavy cavalry. Taking control of the Stirling Bridge, it became impossible for the English to send reinforcements, thus retreating to the stronghold of the castle and effectively surrendering the Lowlands to rebel forces. In the aftermath, Wallace was proclaimed Guardian of Scotland, and the pictured tower is a nineteenth century monument to his exploits in view of Stirling Castle and the Forth crossing.

Saturday 10 September 2022

c iii r (10. 120)

 

Already monarch at the moment of his successor’s passing (the Demise of the Crown being the legal term) as relayed in that coda that can seem crass and contradictory, “The Queen is dead, long live the King,” Charles III (cipher above) is formally proclaimed king during an ancient ceremony steeped in tradition (televised for the first time) in St James’ Palace. The Accession Council (consisting of chosen members of the privy council) who delivers the public proclamation, also delivered by appointed criers in the Royal Exchange, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In addition to delivering a personal declaration about Elizabeth II and supporting a grieving world and pledging to for continuance of government and makes an oath to preserve the Church of Scotland due to the division of powers of church and state for that nation.