Author Archives: AGP

European Etymology Maps

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A great set of maps showing the etymological origins of various words in European languages. Interesting to see how the families group together…or don’t.

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And lots more here.

Give That Man a Bell’s

A lovely commercial for Bell’s Whisky, made in South Africa.

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The Men Who Chased Shipwrecks

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The Gibson family in Cornwall have maintained a tradition for over a hundred years that whenever a ship is wrecked off the coast, one of them is there to document it.

The family tradition—documenting shipwrecks, obsessively and artistically—started with John, a fisherman-turned-professional-photographer, who learned about the new technology in Penzance in 1860. Gibson trained his two sons, Alexander and Herbert, as apprentice photographers. The Gibsons, armed with their cameras, soon made a habit of traipsing out to every accident in the area as it occurred, capturing haunting scenes in the process.

To get news of the wrecks, and share the results of their work, the family took advantage of another new technology: the telegraph. The sea surrounding their home in the Isles of Scilly was treacherous, and mariners made headlines when they sunk their ships after encountering storms or Cornwall’s notorious cliffs. The Gibsons speedily dispatched both themselves and their images with the help of newly installed telegraph wires.

The Men Who Chased Shipwrecks   [TheAtlantic]

Model Car Photography

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Michael Paul Smith makes brilliant photographs of (fictional) Egin Park (top), circa 1950’s. His setups (bottom) seamlessly integrate model- and full-scale.

Born in Pennsylvania in 1950, Michael has been building scale models for over 25 years. His model making skills have been accumulated through his varied job and life experiences; he has been a text book illustrator, wallpaper hanger and house painter, designer of museum displays, architectural model maker, and art director for retail stores. His love of the 20th Century has been a constant inspiration for all of his work.

Michael Paul Smith   [Flickr]

Colourised Historic Photographs

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On TwisterSifter, a great set of historic black and white photographs which have been colourised. Above is a shot of unemployed lumber workers in the 1930’s.

Historic Black and White Photos Colourised   [TwisterSifter]

Histomap

The Histomap, created in 1931 by John B. Sparks, attempts to distill all of human history up to that point into a single image:

The chart emphasizes domination, using color to show how the power of various “peoples” (a quasi-racial understanding of the nature of human groups, quite popular at the time) evolved throughout history.

You can click on the Histomap for a larger version.

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Why our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming

Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman gave a wonderful lecture on behalf of the British Reading Agency last October, arguing for the central importance of reading and libraries to our society:

Another way to destroy a child’s love of reading, of course, is to make sure there are no books of any kind around. And to give them nowhere to read those books. I was lucky. I had an excellent local library growing up. I had the kind of parents who could be persuaded to drop me off in the library on their way to work in summer holidays, and the kind of librarians who did not mind a small, unaccompanied boy heading back into the children’s library every morning and working his way through the card catalogue, looking for books with ghosts or magic or rockets in them, looking for vampires or detectives or witches or wonders. And when I had finished reading the children’s’ library I began on the adult books.

They were good librarians. They liked books and they liked the books being read. They taught me how to order books from other libraries on inter-library loans. They had no snobbery about anything I read. They just seemed to like that there was this wide-eyed little boy who loved to read, and would talk to me about the books I was reading, they would find me other books in a series, they would help. They treated me as another reader – nothing less or more – which meant they treated me with respect. I was not used to being treated with respect as an eight-year-old.

But libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information.

I worry that here in the 21st century people misunderstand what libraries are and the purpose of them. If you perceive a library as a shelf of books, it may seem antiquated or outdated in a world in which most, but not all, books in print exist digitally. But that is to miss the point fundamentally.

The entire lecture is well worth a read.

Neil Gaiman: Why our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming   [theGuardian]

Notes for an Epilogue

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Lens Culture is featuring a brilliant photo essay by Tamas Deszo on the loss of traditional culture in Romania. Above is the flooded village of Geamana.

Spiritual tradition and physical heritage are simultaneously disintegrating in Romania.

Time and modernization are beginning to undermine centuries-old traditions preserved in tiny villages, in communities of only a few houses, as well as the bastions of the communist era’s enforced industrialization, which became part and parcel of Romania’s recent history.

Those living in the ‘reservations of forgetting’ blend with nature, exhibiting a humility inherited through generations. They are living out their last days in evident equality of closeness to nature. Helped by time’s decay, they are diligently pulling down the absurd edifices of the environment that was inflicted on them. In the manner of termites, they carry away small pieces of immense concrete constructions on the rickety carts of poverty.

Notes for an Epilogue   [Tomas Dezso]

For Sale: Bank Vault Swimming Pool

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James Edition, “the world’s luxury marketplace” is selling an original Swiss bank vault packed full of Swiss 5-cent coins, for the Scrooge McDuck aficionados out there:

The bank safe swimming pool containing 8 Million real Swiss coins is currently located in Basel, Switzerland. This is the original bank safe from the former “Schweizer Volksbank” and known to be one of the finest Swiss piece of craftwork in the early 20th Century. It is in very good shape and still usable as a bank deposit safe. It will be removed from it’s original location and be replaced anywhere in the world. You’ll freely decide what happens with it.

Product Link   [James Edition]

40 Maps That Will Help You Understand the World

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Twister Sifter is carrying a great compilation of maps with some extra information on them. Several of them have been featured on this blog before, but not even close to all of them. I particularly like the map above, showing the most common surnames by country in Europe, and the one below, which shows where different writing systems are used around the world. For both, click to embiggen.

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40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World   [TwisterSifter]