Friday 31 July 2020

Voices of Art - Norman Ackroyd

Wednesday 22 July 2020

Ridgeline #81

Ridgeline is a free email newsletter on walking from Craig Mod. You can subscribe to it HERE. In the first newsletter Craig asked his readers to submit a short bio in answer to his question: What shell were you torn from? This is from Ridgeline #81.
I’ve moved house recently, from the coast to the country but I’ve rewalked every day for a decade. My old home was 400 hundred yards from an unloved and shingly, muddy, stretch of beach on a busy industrial sea-way and I used to tread the same steps, from south to north and back again; my footprints and my companion’s pawprints, washed away every time with every tide. Every beach is a borderland between solid ground and the fluid wilderness of the sea and no two days are the same, so no two walks are the same. Every walk a small but perfect communion between the edge of stability and something wildly unpredictable. Am I glamorizing the drab routine of walking the dog? Maybe. Now I live, surrounded by pasture and crop, up a farm track, half a mile from the nearest road. The old dog is too arthritic to come with me but each morning I’m up with the dawn, committed to a simple, meditative mile there and back. Every morning is different here too. The mew of buzzards and chuck-chuck of pheasants; the soft cropping of cows grazing; the mist inverted in the valley; an inky gibbous moon; beech nuts and leaves in the puddles. I miss the power of the whip of the sea and the tang of salt, but the communion is just as wonderful.

Tuesday 21 July 2020

Russia’s Dr. Seuss (2020)

A great piece HERE in the Paris Review on the Russian childrens' author Kornei Chukovsky (1882 - 1969) by the always entertaining Anthony Madrid.

Included is Madrid's attempt to render the beginning of Chukovsky's Telephone:
У меня зазвонил телефон.
—Кто говорит?
—От верблюда.
—Что вам надо?
—Для кого?
—Для сына моего.
—А много ли прислать?
—Да пудов этак пять.
Или шесть:
Больше ему не съесть,
Он у меня ещё маленький!

"Sigh. I’m going to close with my own attempt at the first three lines—an attempt that, for all its faults, has at least this authority: it was created on horseback, as it were. I just mean it was created without recourse to writing implements. I had been trying to solve the problem of those opening lines for years; I wanted the first line to be an anapestic trimeter, like it is in Russian. Suddenly the following bit came to me, alone in the Mazda on the way to Austin, Northbound 183, November 2019:

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s the phone.
That thing will not leave me alone.
Obnoxious, annoying, irrelevant…
Brrrrng!!!—I pick up. It’s the elephant."


Wednesday 15 July 2020

The Cult of Innovation: Its Colorful Myths and Rituals (2017)

Langdon Winner (b. 1944) is an american academic, interested in science, technology, and society. His particular focus is on the political ramifications of technology - in the widest senses of both political and technology.  

HERE is a piece by Winner on the cult of innovation, which includes his definition of benign innovation:
To my way of thinking activities and projects that modify and renew traditions and instruments of practice, might be called graceful or benign innovation.  What characterizes them, in my view, is that they usually deeply respect what came before and yet chart new, challenging, fruitful possibilities.  The old traditions are not trashed, but modified, gracefully unfolding into something new.

Tuesday 14 July 2020

On the Wire (1977 - 2020)

Steve Barker has been playing fantastic music on BBC Radio Lancashire for forty years. He has set up an excellent Mixcloud page HERE. A write-up in the Guardian about his show and efforts to carry on HERE.

Monday 13 July 2020

40 Years Later: Closer & The Last Days Of Joy Division (2020)

Joy Division, were one of the first (if not the first) bands that I saw live - on 2nd October 1979, at Mountford Hall in the University of Liverpool students Union. They supported the Buzzcocks on the opening night of their British tour. Joy Division were thrilling to watch, and Ian Curtis was the most mesmerising lead singer I have ever seen. 

HERE is an appreciation of their work at that time, and their second and final album Closer, released forty years ago. 

Kranzberg's laws of Technology (1986)

Melvin Kranzberg (1917 - 1995) was the Callaway professor of the history of technology at Georgia Tech from 1972 to 1988. He also founded the Society for the History of Technology in 1958.  In 1986, he summarised a lot of his activity in the following 'laws of technology' (HERE):

[1] Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral.
[2] Invention is the mother of necessity
[3] Technology comes in packages, big and small.
[4] Although technology might be a prime element in many public issues, nontechnical factors take precedence in technology-policy decisions.
 [5] All history is relevant, but the history of technology is the most relevant.
 [6] Technology is a very human activity – and so is the history of technology.

Here is an appreciation by one of his colleagues.

Wednesday 8 July 2020

The theory and practice of landscape painting in water-colours (1871)

The theory and practice of landscape painting in water-colours. Illustrated by a series of twenty-six drawings and diagrams in colours, and numerous woodcuts. By George Barnard (HERE).

Sunrise at Core Banks (1983)

A photo by Steve Murray, which appeared in the Jan 1983 edition of the erstwhile Coast Watch (North Carolina Sea Grant), the latest edition is HERE.

Blueprint reading (1919)

From Blueprint reading; a practical manual of instruction in blueprint reading through the analysis of typical plates with reference to mechanical drawing conventions and methods, the laws of projection, etc (HERE)

Chinese Sage Reading While Riding on a Buffalo (c1820)

Chinese Sage Reading While Riding on a Buffalo (c1820)

By Totoya Hokkei (1780–1850)

From HERE.

Tuesday 7 July 2020

Excavations at Roman Corbridge: the Hoard (1988)

The diagram above is taken from a document written by L Allason-Jones and MC Bishop, and published in 1988 by English Heritage. The Roman site of Corbridge was excavated in annual seasons, partly as a training school run by the University of Durham, from 1947 to 1973. These investigations were mainly devoted to the examination of the remains of a series of forts which occupied the central portion of the later Roman town of Corbridge from about AD 80 to 163. The most remarkable single find, uncovered in July 1964, was the Corbridge 'hoard', pictured above. The armour discovered in the Corbridge Hoard was described in a book by H Russell Robinson The Armour of Imperial Rome (1975). Interest in the armour overshadowed the fact that the chest contained other objects of great interest. This volume is a definitive publication of all known objects from the Corbridge Hoard.   (HERE)

Thursday 2 July 2020

You can’t understand (1977)

In 1977, the expat British writer Alan Booth (1946 - 1993) walked the length of Japan from North to South, from Cape Soya to Cape Sata. Booth wrote a wonderful memoir of his long (128 days and 3,000 kilometres) and insightful journey called The Roads to Sata. At the end of the book, Booth recounts an encounter he had with an old man in Hokkaido during the early part of his walk. 

The old man tells Booth that, not only could he not understand Japan by living in Tokyo, ‘You can’t understand Japan just by looking at it’. Booth goes on to explain that he is not looking like a tourist would, but also walking, and talking to people, whilst he was walking. The old man explains that Booth can’t understand Japan by walking or talking. In the end, Booth asks the old man; 
‘How do you suggest I try to understand Japan, then?’
He seemed surprised by the question, and a little hurt, and a little angry. ‘You can’t understand Japan’, he said.

Forget any false sense of security

HERE is an excellent opinion piece in The Guardian on the COVID pandemic by Jeremy Farrar - the Director of the Wellcome Trust, the UK's largest non-governmental funder of scientific research.

It ends:
In the past six months we have learned a huge amount about Covid-19. We are getting better at treating this disease, and mortality rates have come down, but there is no avoiding the enormity of the task ahead of us. The longer we wait, the worse the damage will be. We are still at the start of this pandemic and there is only one exit strategy – interventions that change the fundamentals of infection, transmission and illness. We must learn from the first six months of the pandemic, redouble our efforts and continue to act together.