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  • feedwordpress 09:01:30 on 2018/01/06 Permalink
    Tags: , Count de Waldeck, , , , , , , Mayan Culture,   

    “All fantasy should have a solid base in reality”*… 

     

    One of the most notorious examples of Waldeck’s penchant for fantasy: an elephant head in this rendition of an Ancient Mayan temple

    Not a lot concerning the artist, erotic publisher, explorer, and general enigma Count de Waldeck can be taken at face value, and this certainly includes his fanciful representations of ancient Mesoamerican culture which — despite being brilliantly executed on-site at Mayan monuments like Palenque — run wild with anatopistic lions, elephants, and suspicious architecture.  Rhys Griffiths looks at the life and work of one of the 19th century’s most mysterious and eccentric figures: “Brief Encounters with Jean-Frédéric Maximilien de Waldeck.”

    * Sir Max Beerbohm, Zuleika Dobson

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    As we ponder a predecessor of Photoshop, we might send delightfully-drawn birthday greetings to Paul Gustave Doré; he was born on this date in 1832.  An engraver, sculptor, and illustrator– indeed, the defining illustrator of works by Rabelais, Balzac, Milton, Cervantes, and many others– Doré is probably best-remembered as the man who showed us Heaven and Hell: the canonical illustrator of Dante.

    Don Quixote, his horse Rocinante, and his squire Sancho Panza after an unsuccessful attack on a windmill.

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    The Tempest of Hell in THE DIVINE COMEDY

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  • feedwordpress 09:01:50 on 2018/01/05 Permalink
    Tags: characters, , , , gender representation, Gilbert and Sullivan, Pricess Ida, representation, , Women's Studies   

    “Be careful of Mankind; they do not deserve you”*… 

     

    The recent theatrical release of Wonder Woman briefly catapulted the question of female superhero representation into the mainstream. For some, the character is a feminist icon — even Gloria Steinem wrote about her — and many fans (though not all) felt this wasn’t just another superhero movie, but rather a pivotal moment in the portrayal of women in popular culture.

    Why all the fuss? Well, the truth is that the comics industry has had a complicated relationship with female characters. They are often hyper-sexualizedunnecessarily brutalizedstereotyped, and used as tokens. They’re also rare. Only 26.7 percent of all DC and Marvel characters are female, and only 12 percent of mainstream superhero comics have female protagonists.

    I decided to look beyond the gender ratio to see if we could learn more about how females are represented. Using characters from DC and Marvel in the ComicVine database, I analyzed naming conventions, types of superpowers, and the composition of teams to see how male and female genders are portrayed…

    Amanda Shendruk dives deeply into the canon: “Analyzing the Gender Representation of 34,476 Comic Book Characters.”

    For a(n encouraging) look beyond the borders of the DC-Marvel dupopoly, see also “Women in comics and the tricky art of equality.”

    * Hippolyta, to her daughter Diana (Wonder Woman)

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    As we turn the page, we might recall that it was on this date in 1884, at the Savoy Theatre in London, that composer Sir Arthur Sullivan and librettist W. S. Gilbert premiered the eighth of their fourteen comic operatic collaborations, Princess Ida; or, Castle Adamant, an amusing parody of Tennyson’s “Princess.”   Though still regularly performed today, Princess Ida wasn’t considered a success in its time– at least in part because an uncommonly hot summer in 1884 kept audiences away, and shortened its run.

    Hilarion, Cyril and Florian on their knees to Princess Ida, by “Bab” (W.S. Gilbert)

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  • feedwordpress 09:01:05 on 2018/01/04 Permalink
    Tags: , Brandon Reese, , , Olive Oyl, popeye, , voice actor, “Kickin” the Conga   

    “I like physics, but I love cartoons”*… 

     

     

    On December 15, 2016, internet cartoonist Branson Reese made a pact to release a new comic every day at midnight, no matter what. One year later, he has done that, which is pretty cool. The only catch is his art is really freaking strange and I mean that in the best way possible…

    Joey Cosco on why you should follow Branson Reese.

    * Stephen Hawking

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    As we look forward to our daily dose, we might recall that it was on this date in 1942 that Jack Mercer and his wife Margie voiced Popeye and Olive Oyl in the new Popeye cartoon, “Kickin” the Conga.

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  • feedwordpress 09:01:28 on 2018/01/03 Permalink
    Tags: ancient music, banned by the BBC, , , , musicology, The Lulu Show,   

    “Where words leave off, music begins”*… 

     

    We are often immersed in what the ancient world looked like when we visit a museum or an archaeological site. However, the vibrant soundscapes heard at festivals, funerals, courtly feasts, theatrical performances, gladiatorial shows or just while shopping in the ancient world are important to reconstructing the past. A number of ancient historians are hard at work to bring the music of antiquity back to life for the enjoyment of the modern world…

    Read about– and hear– the results of their efforts at: “Five Ways To Listen To The Music Of The Ancient World Today.”

    * Heinrich Heine

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    As we commune with our ancestors, we might recall that it was on the is night in 1969 that Jimi Hendrix appeared on the BBC’s The Lulu Show.  He had been booked to perform two songs, “Voodoo Child,” which he and the Experience did in its entirety. Then, he stopped midway through the performance his new single “Hey Joe,”  announcing, “We’d like to stop playing this rubbish and dedicate this song to The Cream.”  The Experience then launched into a version of “Sunshine Of Your Love” as a tribute to the group who had split a few days earlier. Hendrix proceeded to continuing jamming, running over their allocated time slot on the live show, and preventing the show’s host, the pop singer Lulu, from closing the show properly… for which Hendrix was banned from the BBC.  (See the performance here; read about Elvis Costello’s similar experience on Saturday Night Live here.)

    Jimi and the boys on The Lulu Show

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  • feedwordpress 09:01:47 on 2018/01/02 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , geo-politics, Henry Gleason, , New York Botanical Garden, ,   

    “Without the potato, the balance of European power might never have tilted north”*… 

     

    In his economic masterwork The Wealth of Nations, the great Scottish economist Adam Smith reveals himself to be a deep admirer of Irish poor folk. Or, more specifically, their preferred food, potatoes.

    “The chairmen, porters, and coal-heavers in London, and those unfortunate women who live by prostitution, the strongest men and the most beautiful women perhaps in the British dominions, are said to be, the greater part of them, from the lowest rank of people in Ireland, who are generally fed with this root,” Smith wrote. “No food can afford a more decisive proof of its nourishing quality, or of its being peculiarly suitable to the health of the human constitution.”

    Smith had struck on a connection little recognized even today: that improved labor productivity, surging population, and outmigration were thanks to the potato.

    This phenomenon wasn’t confined to Ireland. As The Wealth of Nations went to press, across Europe, the potato was upending the continent’s deep demographic and societal decline. Over the next couple centuries, that reversal turned into a revival. As the late historian William H. McNeill argues, the surge in European population made possible by the potato “permitted a handful of European nations to assert domination over most of the world between 1750 and 1950.”…

    More on “the secret to Europe’s success” at “The Global Dominance of White People is Thanks to the Potato.”

    * Michael Pollan

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    As we speculate on spuds, we might send fertile birthday greetings to Henry Allan Gleason; he was born on this date in 1882.  An ecologist, botanist, and taxonomist who spent most of his career at (and in the field, doing research for) the New York Botanical Garden, he is best remembered for his endorsement of the individualistic or open community concept of ecological succession, and his opposition to Frederic Clements‘ concept of the climax state of an ecosystem.  While his ideas were largely dismissed during his working life (which led him to move into plant taxonomy), his concepts have found favor since late in the twentieth century.

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  • feedwordpress 09:01:39 on 2018/01/01 Permalink
    Tags: Calvinism, Calvinist, , , New Year, productivity, Times Square, Times Square Ball, , Weber   

    “Only when the clock stops does time come to life”*… 

     

    Swiss Reformation scholar Max Engammare claims that the Calvinists fundamentally changed how we think about time. They replaced the Medieval Catholic conception of time, which was cyclical and based on recurring seasons and holidays, with a linear view of time, as something which was always essentially running out – and this, apparently, led to the requirement that we start arriving to things on time, which he claims did not exist previously…

    “As Calvin constantly reminded his followers, God watches his faithful every minute. Come Judgment Day, the faithful in turn will have to account for each minute,” reads this summary. And John Balserak put it this way: “European Calvinists — who dispensed with the liturgical calendar and still today do not celebrate Christmas and Easter as religious holidays…introduced during the 16th and 17th centuries a view of time that was linear and finite. With this came an appreciation of time as precious [emphasis mine]. People learned to be on time for appointments, which had previously not been a concern.”

    So then, if we cannot blame Calvinists for the rise of capitalism specifically, we may attempt to blame them for a much larger malady: That religious philosophy is responsible for that feeling that we are constantly losing time, as we hurtle ever-closer to death…

    As we all mark the passage of 2017 and the advent of 2018, we might contemplate Vincent Bevin‘s amusing– and insightful– reminder of the origin of the self-improving impulse that one typically feels around now: “Productivity is dangerous.”

    Happy New Year!

    * William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

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    As we rethink our resolutions, we might recall that it was on this date in 1908, at one second after midnight, that the Times Square Ball first descended.

    In 1903, The New York Times newspaper was about to open their new headquarters, the city’s second tallest building, in what was then known as Longacre Square. The paper’s owner, Adolph Ochs, decided to commemorate their opening with a midnight fireworks show on the roof of the building on December 31, 1903. After four years of New Year’s Eve fireworks celebrations, Ochs wanted a bigger spectacle at the building to draw more attention to the newly-renamed Times Square. An electrician was hired to construct a lighted Ball to be lowered from the flagpole on the roof of One Times Square. The iron Ball was only 5 feet in diameter! The very first drop [celebrated] New Year’s Eve 1907, one second after midnight [so, on this date]. Though the Times would later move its headquarters, the New Year’s Eve celebration at One Times Square remains a focal celebration for the world.

    For the evolution of the ball-drop over the years, see here.

    The 1908 ball

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  • feedwordpress 09:01:54 on 2017/12/20 Permalink
    Tags: , , dimensionality, Edwin Abbott, Flatland, , , ,   

    “Above all else show the data”*… 

     

    With the hope that your celebrations will be warm and peaceful, and with thanks for your kind attention over the last twelve months, (Roughly) Daily is going on it’s annual Holiday hiatus…  So here, to tide us over, The Economist Graphics Unit’s wonderful “2017 Daily chart advent calendar” (the first installment of which, above)– a collection of 25 of the years best infographics, each with a short accompanying essay.

    See you in the New Year!

    * Edward Tufte

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    As we revel in new ways of seeing, we might send terrifyingly (and at the same time, amusingly) insightful birthday greetings to Edwin Abbott; he was born on this date in 1838.  A schoolmaster and theologian, Abbott is best remembered as the author of the remarkable novella Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions (1884). Writing pseudonymously as “A Square,” Abbott used the fictional two-dimensional world of Flatland to offer pointedly-satirical observations on the social hierarchy of Victorian culture. But the work has survived– and inspired legions of mathematicians and science fiction writers– by virtue of its fresh and accessible examination of dimensionality.  Indeed, Flatland was largely ignored on its original publication; but it was re-discovered after Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity– which posits a fourth dimension– was introduced; in a 1920 letter to Nature, Abbott is called a prophet for his intuition of the importance of time to explain certain phenomena.

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  • feedwordpress 09:01:00 on 2017/12/19 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , ,   

    “It is a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information”*… 

     

    Instructions for carrying heavy equipment at the Columbia University Computer Music Center

    1. In Silicon Valley, startups that result in a successful exit have an average founding age of 47 years. [Joshua Gans]
    2. Traders in Shenzhen electronics markets now rely on smartphone translation apps to communicate — not just with foreigners, but with people speaking other Chinese dialects. [Mark Pesce]
    3. “Artificial intelligence systems pretending to be female are often subjected to the same sorts of online harassment as women.” [Jacqueline Feldman]
    4. Laser Snake is a writhing robotic arm with a 5kw laser mounted on one end. It’s first job: cutting up old nuclear power stations. [James Condliffe]…

    The beginning of a fascinating list from Tom Whitwell at Fluxx— a collection of “varied” (if not random) gleanings from science and tech through commerce to society and culture.  They’re immediately fascinating… and ultimately– that’s to say, with some thought, and in the fullness of time– useful [the very effect for which (Roughly) Daily strives :]  Enjoy it in its entirety: “52 things I learned in 2017.”

    * Oscar Wilde

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    As we read it and reap, we might recall that on this date in 1732 Benjamin Franklin published the first edition of “Poor Richard’s Almanack,”  a similarly not-so-randomly-fact-filled pamphlet series that he continued, to great success, annually through 1757.  (Indeed, with print runs typically numbering 10,000, the series made Franklin’s fortune, allowing him to spend the bulk of his time on scientific experiments, diplomacy…  and in his own consciousness-altering experiments in The Hellfire Club.)

    The first edition (published in 1732 for 1733)

     

     
  • feedwordpress 09:01:32 on 2017/12/18 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Joseph Grimaldi, , , preppers, survival, survival cracker,   

    “This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper”*… 

     

    It’s been decades since most Americans have thought seriously about nuclear war, although we’re regularly entertained with reality TV shows about “preppers” readying themselves for it, or a zombie invasion. What if, though, it turns out that they’re the smart ones? If, in the coming months or years, the standoff with North Korea turns hot and we confront a nuclear holocaust, and millions of people flee toward long-forgotten fallout shelters, one of the first questions we’ll face is the simplest: What do you eat when the world ends? It’s actually a question that the government has spent a lot of time — and millions of dollars — struggling with. The answer, though, may not encourage you to survive…

    Meet the all-purpose survival cracker– and the balance of the US government’s Cold War-era nutrition solution for life after a nuclear blast: “The Doomsday Diet.”

    * T.S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men”

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    As we stock up, we might send silly birthday greetings to Joseph Grimaldi; he was born on this date in 1778. The most popular English entertainer of his day, Grimaldi was an actor, comedian and dancer who effectively invented the character of The Clown as today we know it.  He became so dominant on the London comic stage that harlequinade Clowns became known as “Joey”; both that nickname and the trademark whiteface make-up that Grimaldi created were, and still are, used widely by all types of clowns.  His catchphrases “Shall I?” and “Here we are again!” still get laughs in pantomimes.

    Grimaldi’s memoir, edited by his fan Charles Dickens (who had, as a child, seen Grimaldi perform), was a best-seller.  The annual memorial service held for him (in February at Holy Trinity Church in the London Borough of Hackney) is attended by hundreds of clown performers from all over the world– who attend in full make-up and costume.

    Grimaldi, au naturel

    Grimaldi, in character

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  • feedwordpress 09:01:17 on 2017/12/17 Permalink
    Tags: Beaufort Scale, Francis Beaufort, , imaginary places, , , , Robert Peary, seamanship,   

    “If something is there, you can only see it with your eyes open, but if it isn’t there, you can see it just as well with your eyes closed. That’s why imaginary things are often easier to see than real ones.”*… 

     

    In the age of GPS and Google Maps, it is hard to believe that maps can include places that don’t exist. But author Malachy Tallack argues that maps are as much “a cartography of the mind” as they are a way to figure out where we are. In his new book, The Un-Discovered Islands, Tallack takes readers on a journey to imaginary places—mythic islands, mapmakers’ mistakes, mirages, and outright hoaxes. [E.g., explorer Robert Peary discovered a continent that wasn’t there.]…

    Some islands, like King Arthur’s Avalon, were pure legend. Others were mistakes or outright hoaxes.  Learn why some islands blur the line between life and death; how others have moved about on the maps; why we’re living in an era of un-discovery; and relatedly, why ancient mapmakers were afraid of blank spaces: “These Imaginary Islands Only Existed on Maps.”

    * Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

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    As we seek solid ground, we might spare a thought for Rear Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort, KCB, FRS, FRGS, MRIA; he died on this date in 1857.  A career naval officer and hydrographer, Beaufort devised, in 1806, a simple scale that coastal observers could use to report the state of the sea to the Admiralty.  Originally designed simply to describe wind effects on a fully rigged man-of-war sailing vessel, it was later extended to include descriptions of effects on land features as well.  Officially adopted in 1838 (and in use to this day), it uses numbers 0 to 12 to designate calm, light air, light breeze, gentle breeze, moderate breeze, fresh breeze, strong breeze, moderate gale, fresh gale, strong gale, whole gale, storm, and hurricane. Zero (calm) is a wind velocity of less than 1 mph (0.6 kph) and 12 (hurricane) represents a velocity of over 75 mph (120kph).

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