Wednesday, 15 June 2022

sallie gardner at a gallop

Using a battery of dozen cameras capturing a single image in rapid succession, shutters activated once an object crossed a trip wire and broke the electromagnet circuit, Eadweard Muybridge (previously) created the first motion picture at the race track of the Palo Alto Stock Farm. The horse belonged to former governor, businessman and philanthropist Leland Stanford and the site of the photo session is now part of the campus of his namesake university who had commissioned Muybridge to document his estate and to prove his theories on equine locomotion—that in fact all four hooves are off the ground at the same time. Projected later with his zoopraxiscope, Muybridge’s technical achievement inspired Thomas Edison to create the kinetoscope, an early type of movie camera.

Sunday, 22 May 2022

per my last email

Courtesy of JWZ, we are treated to another campaign from Visit Iceland (see previously here and here) that invites travellers to relax and back up that Out-of-Office auto-reply by Out-Horsing one’s email and truly disconnect and enjoy vacation. Select equine understudies are equipped with giant keyboards to prance and stamp on and answer all one’s work inquiries. The tourism authorities campaign also highlights some of the outstanding natural beauty of the island and the their native breed of horses. More at the link above, including some video demonstrations.

Monday, 9 May 2022

๐ŸŽ

Whilst we wouldn’t forget that .horse is a viable web domain owing to the landing-page of the excellent Carrie Poppy (see previously), we appreciated being referred by Web Curios to this compendium of all websites registered with this particular suffix and anthology to explore. Unfortunately many are re-directs or seem to be moribund but that just means that a lot are still available, though sadly not cheese.horse.

Sunday, 24 April 2022

never look a gift horse in the mouth

Though this kind of exact date for something semi-legendary, laden with cultural baggage and millennia hence is notoriously hard to pin down, the attestation by among others Eratosthenes, polymath and librarian of Alexandria who calculated the circumference and axial tilt of Earth to a remarkable degree of accuracy (thanks in part to his access to extensive geological data at the library), traditionally places the Fall of Troy, the end of the decade-long siege of the impenetrable city by the Achaean armies when they were let into the gates, hiding inside a wooden horse, a ruse thought up by Odysseus—a creature sacred to the Trojans, on this day in 1183 BCE. Left on the beach as an offering for their return home, the Greeks had apparently decamped. Many were suspicious, including Cassandra and Laocoรถn—with of course no one listening to the former and the latter being devoured by a sea serpent along with his sons sent by Athena to keep the priest’s mouth shut but they ultimately decided to keep the horse and celebrated the end of their long blockade with an evening of drunken revelry. Most of the population was massacred in their sleep as the Greeks sacked the city—save for Aeneas who went on to found Rome in some traditions, with most of the Greeks also denied a safe homecoming by the gods for their atrocious behaviour as victors and for their desecration of temples and holy sites and were doomed to wrack and ruin.

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

his grooms and companions, the autobiography of a horse

Though considered the foundational work of pony fiction--that genre of juvenile novels involving teens and learning equestrian skills—Anna Sewell’s final work published on this day in 1877 by Jarrold & Sons, Black Beauty, the first non-human memoir was not necessarily targeted to an audience of children. Instilling sympathy and respect for animals as well as people, the enduring best-seller recounts the stages of the narrator's life--first as a foal, a colt, then a working-horse pulling cabs whose hardships and experiences reflect those of his drivers and passengers in London before being put out to pasture for retirement.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

your daily demon: eligos

This fifteenth spirit on the demonological calendar is this infernal grand duke that presents in the form of a handsome knight armed with a lance, ensign and sceptre. With a smattering of strategy, Eligor knows the outcome of future wars and the encounters of armies. Depicted sometimes sat a gee, his ride (going by the variant name the Steed of Abigor) is a gift of Beelzebub and is reconstituted from one of the horses of the Garden of Eden after the Fall. Governing from today through 5 June, Eligos contols sixty legion and is opposed by the cherubim Hariel.

Thursday, 14 January 2021

festum asinorum

On this day, medieval Christendom—though most popular in France—commemorated the Holy Family’s Flight into Egypt to with a celebration to honour all beasts-of-burden and donkey-related stories in the Bible, possibly as an extension of a Roman holiday called Cervula which had similar themes of inversion.

There were processions and plays including portrayals of Balaam and his Ass and associated prophesies, as well as general praise and reward for our asses—our friends’ obscure etymology in donkey and jenny likely an American aversion from the nineteenth century to say anything untoward and made up substitutions, see also. The day’s mass was concluded with the priest declaring instead of the customary Ite, misse est—it is done, you are dismissed to which the congregation replied Deo Gratias, from the pulpit the priest would bray, hinhannabit, three times with the response “Hinham, hinham, hinham.”

Saturday, 5 December 2020

hobby-horse and the hoodening

Via the always intriguing Strange Company we are directed towards one explanation of the common apirition in the southern Welch Yuletide custom called Mari Lwyd (Y Fari Lwyd) of parading around a horse’s skull on a pole whilst draped with a cloak decorated with ribbons and sashes as an aspect of wassailing and ritual entreaties to one’s neighbours for food and drink—a sort of call-and-response called the pwngco. You’ve been pwn’d.  Some conjure it represents a remnant of once widespread mystery plays that featured a popular subgenre regarding Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt, with Mari Lwyd representing the donkey that bore Holy Mary—one proposed etymology, though this is disputed, with Grey Mare being more likely, especially given the preponderance of similar hooded animal parades spread across the British Isles that reflect a syncretion (see also) of ancient, pre-Christian rites. Much more detail about this custom at the link up top.

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

รฉloi de noyon

Also known as Saint Eligius, the namesake of the hospital of the US television series St. Elsewhere (the nickname being a professional slang term for the practise of diverting less wealthy patients to poorly funded care centres and not in reference to the legendary surgery below), the patron most celebrated as protector of horses and those who work with them is venerated on this day, on the occasion of his death in 660 (*588). Chief counsel to Merovingian king Dagobert I, ร‰loi rose to prominence through virtuosity demonstrated in metalwork, richly framing members of the aristocracy and sepulchred dead with finery—also earning him the sponsorship of gold- and silversmiths, coin collectors and mechanical engineers—though reportedly eschewed any luxury himself and gave away all his wealth to the poor and used his court favour to distribute more alms. In his capacity as a blacksmith, ร‰loi once had to shod a recalcitrant horse who refused to cooperate. Convinced the horse was possessed by a demon, ร‰loi accomplished the task by miraculously dismembering each leg one at a time and reattaching them afterwards.

Saturday, 12 September 2020

grotte de lascaux

Discovered by eighteen-year-old Marcel Ravidat and three friends when his dog, Robot, fell into a hole on this day in 1940, the four companions descended the fifteen-metre-deep shaft into the underground gallery believing it might be the legendary secret entrance to Lascaux Manor and were astounded to find the ancient cave paintings covering the walls.
The depictions dated at around seventeen thousand years old are produced with pigments that suggest an advanced knowledge of deriving colour compounds as well as an understanding of scale and perspective and include human activities, abstract symbols and a host of animals, felines, horses, bears, deer and aurochs. The site has been closed to the public since 1963 once it was determined that the influx of visitors was causing the rapid deterioration of the paintings though many at scale replicas have been created.

Friday, 21 August 2020

castagno dei cento cavalli

In one of the first official acts recognising and treasuring the environment, the Royal Court of Sicilian Heritage (Tribunale dell’Ordine del Real Patrimonio di Sicilia) inscribed the Hundred Horse Chestnut into rolls of protected property on this day in 1745.
The four-thousand-year old tree on the eastern slopes of Mount Etna (perhaps owing its longevity to rich volcanic soil—all the more so because of its precarious location) is believed to be the oldest in existence. Recorded as having the greatest girth—having split into a grove multiple trunks above ground, the tree received its name after local lore relating that when Queen Juana I of Castilla (called La Loca) passed through with her large entourage of knights, the entire company was able to shelter under its boughs during a thunderstorm. This venerable tree is a sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa), whereas a horse chestnut is a close-cousin.

Sunday, 15 March 2020

graffito blasfemo

Believed to be among the earliest surviving depictions of Jesus was rediscovered in 1857 through excavation work on the Palatine Hill of Rome at a site that was the palace of Caligula prior to becoming a finishing school and it during this phase of the structure’s history some pupil presumably etched the graffiti into the wall plaster depicting a young man prostrating to a donkey-headed figure on a crucifix with the caption, apparently meant to mock a fellow student, ฮ‘ฮ›ฮ• ฮพฮ‘ฮœฮ•ฮฮŸฯน ฯนฮ•ฮ’ฮ•ฮคฮ• ฯ‘ฮ•ฮŸฮ “Alexamos worships [his] god.” The standard method of execution until abolished by Constantine in the fourth century, Roman society found it incredulous that Christian would follow a figure so basely undone, conflated with the belief by contemporary Romans (around the second century) believed that Christians and other religious minorities practised onolatry—that is, donkey worship. In the next chamber, there is a seeming retort with no accompanying image but the inscription in Latin and by a different hand—presumably the victim of this ridicule: ฮ‘ฮ›ฮ•ฮพฮ‘ฮœฮ•ฮฮŸฯน FIDELIS—that is, Alexamenos is faithful.

Friday, 8 November 2019

7x7

a gender-neutral zombie: representation is important, via Kottke’s Quick Links

flotsam and jetsam: an ingenious barrier of air bubbles traps plastic waste in Amsterdam’s canals

ok boomer: a powerful and withering epithet

rurikids and romanovs: traditional Russian female garb, via Everlasting Blรถrt

book of dreams: Argos back-catalogues from 1974 on, via Things Magazine

merijรครค: a combination of rare weather conditions converged to cover a beach on Bothnia bay with ice eggs

equine anatomy: rating every horse emoji across different platforms (see also), via Waxy

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

now that’s a horse of a different colour

Though the title idiom is much older than what Dorothy exclaimed upon entering the Emerald City and pertains to horse-trading and how the coat can change colour as the animal matures and what’s listed in a registry may not match what’s before one’s eyes and is first cited as “a horse of that colour” by the duplicity maid Maria in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (1601), we nonetheless enjoyed reading about the 1926 caper that a horseman of Scottish extraction nearly got away with at a race-track in Chicago.
Referred to as ringing in gamblers’ circles, the horseman, possessed of a special and nonpareil talent (sadly squandered on grift and crime) for a quick and convincing dye and rise, bleached and painted the thoroughbreds so that the track stewards and jockeys failed to notice when their horses were switched, handicapping the odds and virtually guaranteeing a big win. Targeting small, remote racing operations at first, the horse painter was able to skip town and evade repercussions once the truth was realised but luck eventually ran out with Pinkertons in hot pursuit.  Discover more hidden histories at Narratively at the link above.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

mother of invention

Previously we’ve explored how the Year without a Summer influenced and informed Mary Shelley’s Post-Modern Prometheus and the hardship endured by the population in general, but hadn’t appreciated how the climate disaster helped transform transportation by creating a situation that allowed machine aided propulsion to gain a purchase.
Due to cold weather that precipitated successive failing harvests, people had no fodder to feed their horses and out of desperation, had to eat their horses, which made alternative modes of getting around a necessity, prompting Karl Freiherr von Drais (see also) to invent his Laufmaschine—a dandy-horse and like a bicycle without the pedal mechanism. Innovations such as this speak to human ingenuity and resilience when it comes to surmounting change. Let’s hope we can all keep pace.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

horseless carriage

Although very much retold from an America perspective, it was nonetheless interesting to consider the etymological journey we embarked on to get to the colloquial term car (from cart)—automobile, a French convention ultimately with Greek roots, being a technical, industry term (similar to the formal German PKW—Personnen Kraftfahrzeuge) that’s only used in North America. Of the early trade names suggested before reaching a critical mass and adopting a standard name, early media coverage referred to prototypes as the Motorig, Buggyaut, Tonneau, the Diamote and the Mocole—among others.  Be sure to visit Jalopnik at the link above to discover more car-related cul-de-sacs and points-of-departure.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

anyone? anyone?

In what’s shaping up to be a timely history lesson, NPR’s Planet Money presents an extensive study of the factors leading to the passage, the immediate consequences and legacy of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 made into a pop-culture reference by the droning line of inquiry of Ben Stein playing a high school economics teacher in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (previously). Economists, who to a man believed the schedule of tariffs to be a disastrous idea, concede that its enactment did not cause the Great Depression as those wheels were already in motion, but agree that it exacerbated an already bad situation and prolonged it, turning a trade war of retaliatory tariffs on imports and exports into an unqualified war.
With the gradual introduction of electricity and the automobile throughout the 1920s, globally but particularly in the United States, farmers suddenly found a significant portion of land freed up that was formerly reserved for growing feed for horses and other beasts of burden, which led to over-production and caused the government to intervene to subsidise prices lest the price of commodities becomes too depressed and there’s less incentive for domestic production. Once the government signalled its willingness to protect a batch of staple goods of strategic importance to the US, things escalated rather quickly with no one wanting to miss out on this opportunity and some twenty thousand goods securing an embargo that held foreign competition at bay. Though international response was immediate, punishing and predictable with countries raising duties on American exports astronomically, not buying US products and turning towards self-sufficiency, the practise carried on for two years until congress reversed the tariffs and conceding that it such an unnecessary economic blunder, they abdicated their role in negotiating trade deals and put that power solely in the prerogative of the executive branch.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

doggo, puppers or a horse is a horse of course, of course

Though likely not part and parcel official party doctrine, the doctrines of the so-called New Animal Psychology were considered very fashionable and highly recommended within Nazi circles in the 1930s, Strange Company informs.
In short, that school of thought advocated the belief that animals had latent cognitive abilities and through the right translator or medium (it seems that this furore replaced the sรฉance) could communicate with their humans. One familiar of note was the very outspoken dachshund named Kuno von Schwertberg, known by his pet-name Kurwenal after the servant of Tristan in Wagner’s opera, who belonged to a baroness and attested Nazi in Weimar. This is yet another example that we humans aren’t worthy of the ungrudging affection and loyalty of our canine friends, and this particular craze that wasn’t a Nazi invention survived a bit longer and to the disservice of our non-human associates as humans ultimately felt rather cheated for a time but finally ended with the discrediting of Clever Hans, which brought back the sentiment of the dumb and unfeeling animal, not deserving of our welfare.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

chivalrous or back in the saddle again

The Norman Invasion of England in the year 1066 utilised the same technological advance in order to prosecute the same sort of vast capturing of land as Mongol Horde had used to gain territory on the liminal edge of the known world almost eight hundred years prior (and with latter day iterations as well). Though somewhat taken for granted due to its patent simplicity—particularly among the horsey-set, the stirrup proved probably as significant force in shaping civilisation as the introduction of printed word in the West, enabling mounted warriors to manoeuvre the battle-field with much greater speed and stability than had visited the defeated beforehand.
The stirrup is just a loop of leather that hangs to the side of a saddle, enabling riders to mount their steeds quickly and keep their balance. As just a small detail, it took some people quite a long time to notice and appreciate this modification that imparted significant advantage to the cavalry of the foot-solders. These more agile mercenaries that took up specialised arms and steeds became the professional landed knights under the feudalist system of the Norman conquestors and their Frankish overlords and sought to broaden the pyramid-scheme wherein defenders pledged oaths of fealty to a certain tract of property and to a certain lord. In order to maintain this allegiance, the knights—which were called then chevaliers (from the French term for horse), lived by a certain, defined code of conduct, which was called chivalry. This transformation makes me think of the way one’s portion of meat was translated from the field (grimy old English barnyard words for swine in the sty) to the dinner plate (expressed in refined French words for haute-cuisine, like pork).

Monday, 15 December 2014

jack and jenny

Camping at the end of the travel season in Normandy, H and I had a little fright late one night at a campgrounds that we had nearly to ourselves. There was an awful clanging of a metal trash bin from over by the restroom building.

H peered out the window to investigate and saw these long and lumbering shadows. In this empty place, it would have been too much to bear had I not mentioned that there was a pair of donkeys corralled at the far end of the camp, which was set back from the coast by just a few grassy dunes and shared the land with a golf range—which looked tended but was also sleepy and deserted. The donkeys had escaped and were conducting the nightly rounds. Reading this article from Modern Farmer about the virtues of these sentinels and their advantages over traditional guard animals made me remember how gingerly we tried to shoo them away from the Bulli—in case they did get spooked and decide to kick a big dent in the side of the bus. Apparently, we needn’t have worried about that.