Word Wednesday.

Silly / Thralldom / Sally



1 archaic: Helpless, Weak.

2a: Rustic, Plain b obsolete: Lowly in station; humble.

3a: Weak in intellect: Foolish b: exhibiting or indicative of a lack of common sense or sound judgment.

4: Being stunned or dazed.

[Origin: Middle English sely, silly happy, innocent, pitiable, feeble, from Old English sælig, from sǣl happiness; akin to Old High German sālig happy.]

(14th Century).

“Don’t be sil—” began Jim; then he remembered just in time that the word “silly” had a very different meaning in the middle ages. It meant “innocent” or “blessed” — which was not what he meant at the moment.” – The Dragon at War, Gordon R. Dickson.



1a: a servant slave: bondman, serf. b: a person in moral or mental servitude.

2a: a state of servitude or submission. b: a state of complete absorption.

–thrall, adjective.

–thralldom, noun.

[Origin: Middle English thral, from Old English thræl, from Old Norse thræll.]

(Before 12th century).

“Unhand, dog!” he snapped, in his best baronial manner. “Do you think I fear thralldom by any witch-device?” – The Dragon at War, Gordon R. Dickson.



1: an action of rushing or bursting forth; especially: a sortie of troops from a defensive position to attack the enemy.

2a: a brief outbreak: outburst. b: a witty or imaginative saying: quip.

3: a venture or excursion usually off the beaten track: jaunt.

[Origin: Middle French saillie, from Old French, from saillir to rush forward, from Latin salire to leap; akin to Greek hallesthai to leap.]


“Ah, well, just a thought,” said Brian. “I’d been thinking – a quick sally to slash a few throats, then back through the gates and close them behind us.” – The Dragon at War, Gordon R. Dickson.

Jack’s Walk

It’s a perfect day here. The sun is shining in a cloudless blue sky and it’s 21° with a light little breeze. Jack and I decided to go see if there were any flowers up yet at the park and we found daffodils. Lots of daffodils, all just newly opened and at their best. The tulips are up too, but they’re still a few days away from blooming. It was also nice to see the willows already fuzzy with new leaves. Now, I’m going to go find every excuse I can to be outside.

©voyager, all rights reserved

Cheddar Gorgeous: Let’s Get Visible!

Trump in Drag, credit: Cheddar Gorgeous / Facebook.

Trump in Drag, credit: Cheddar Gorgeous / Facebook.

Oh, I would give so much to be a part of this, it sounds absolutely fabulous and it has the added bonus that it will make the Tiny Tyrant squirm all over.

Queen Elizabeth won’t the only queen greeting Donald Trump when he visits the U.K. in July.

A thousand people have signed onto a Facebook invitation for a drag-queen protest to greet the president in London on July 13. Another nearly 7,000 people are interested in attending.

Manchester drag performer Cheddar Gorgeous and four other performers have issued the call to all drag kings, queens, queers and our allies.

“Due to the appalling way the Trump administration has regarded the rights and welfare of the LGBTQI communities in the U.S., the idea of a Trump visit to the U.K. is unacceptable,” the invitation says.

“Let’s get visible, stand with our sisters, brothers and others in America.”

You can read much more at LGBTQ Nation, and The Guardian. Cheddar Gorgeous on Twitter.  I wish all the attendees the very best, and I hope there are going to a ton of photos.

Hans Holbein’s Dance of Death.

The Knight.

The Knight.

The Dance of Death by the German artist Hans Holbein (1497–1543) is a great, grim triumph of Renaissance woodblock printing. In a series of action-packed scenes Death intrudes on the everyday lives of thirty-four people from various levels of society — from pope to physician to ploughman. Death gives each a special treatment: skewering a knight through the midriff with a lance; dragging a duchess by the feet out of her opulent bed; snapping a sailor’s mast in two. Death, the great leveller, lets no one escape. In fact it tends to treat the rich and powerful with extra force. As such the series is a forerunner to the satirical paintings and political cartoons of the eighteenth century and beyond. For example, Death sneaks up behind the judge, who is ignoring a poor man to help a rich one, and snaps his staff, the symbol of his power, in two. A chain around Death’s neck suggests he is taking revenge on corrupt judges on behalf of those they have wrongfully imprisoned. In contrast, Death seems to come to the aid of the poor ploughman, by driving his horses for him and releasing him from a life of toil; the glowing church in the background implies this old man is on his way to heaven.

Holbein drew the woodcuts between 1523 and 1525, while in his twenties and based in the Swiss town of Basel.

The Miser.

The Miser.

The Monk.

The Monk.

These woodcuts are beautiful and highly detailed. In Holbein’s hands, Death makes its feelings known; Death is quite gentle in the cases of the old woman and old man, poor folk, and those of the peasant class. On the other side, Death is more than a little rude, as in the violin playing as Death drags the Duchess out of her bed. Death is not kind when it comes to the abbot, the abbess, or the monk.

One notable thing makes these beautiful woodcuts all the more astonishing, the size of them:

Holbein’s achievement is the greater because of the miniature scale he was drawing in. Reproductions obscure just how tiny the wooden blocks were — no bigger than four postage stamps arranged in a rectangle. The blocks were cut by Hans Lützelburger, a frequent and highly skilled collaborator of Holbein’s. Lützelburger had cut forty-one blocks and had ten remaining when Death surprised him too. The blocks were then sold to creditors, and eventually printed and published for the first time in Lyons in 1538 as Les simulachres and historiees faces de la mort.

You can read and see much more at The Public Domain.

The Book of Exposition: The Secrets of Oriental Sexuology.

15th Century erotica! Oh my. This looks to be very interesting, and I do plan on reading it. Unfortunately I can’t do that right away, the day before chemo is always a busy one.

A decade or so after the famed Orientalist Richard Burton translated Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Nafzawi’s The Perfumed Garden of Sensual Delight (1886), an anonymous translator became the first to critically assess and introduce for Anglophone audiences another of the Middle East’s more controversial and enigmatic texts — Kitab al-Izah Fi’ilm al-Nikah b-it-Tamam w-al-Kamal, or The Book of Exposition — a collection of fifteenth-century erotica. Despite there being much dispute over the authorship of the work, from both Western and Middle Eastern scholars over the centuries, The Book of Exposition is nowadays credited to a fifteenth-century Egyptian polymath called Jalal ad’Din al-Suyuti (1445-1505). Although perhaps best known for his co-authorship of Tafsir al-Jalalayn (Tafsir of the Two Jalals), a classical Sunni exegesis of the Quran, al-Suyuti was also a prolific erotologist, writing at least twenty-three treatises on various aspects of the sexual arts.

The two dozen stories he presents in The Book of Exposition are an exploration of promiscuity and sexual taboos under the societal constraints of the Arab-Islamic world. In “The Strange Transformation that Befell a Certain Believer’s Prickle” a man is granted a “Night of Power” in which he is given three wishes to be fulfilled by Allah.


In his opening essay and commentary, An English Bohemian sets out to dispel Victorian attitudes to sexuality through the idolisation of the Oriental — setting up “Oriental Sexuology” as a mystical alternative for aspiring libertines/hedonists. He doesn’t just limit himself to the Orient in his examination of sexuality. He offers an insight into the sexual customs of other lands he claims to have travelled and researched extensively as a former practitioner of medicine: from Loango to the Aztecs, Paraguay to Samoa, Europe to Arabia. Despite his intentions, we perhaps end up learning more about Western attitudes to sex than the those of the non-European cultures he examines. His assertions, in their elevation of Orient over the Occident, appear to be motivated more by a desire to rebel against the prevailing establishment of his own culture than offering a nuanced picture of a foreign culture’s attitudes to sex.

You can read more at The Public Domain Review (the book is also available there), or go straight to the book here.

F Is For Fantail Warbler and Fuinha-dos-Juncos.

Fantail Warbler. Fuinha-dos-Juncos.

Common English and Portuguese names for the bird Cisticola juncidis, here perched on a maize tassel. It’s a small insectivorous bird with a characteristic “zit…zit…zit…zit” call and a zigzagging flight, easy to spot in flight but not always easy to figure out where it landed, as it rarely chooses such a conspicuous perch as in this photo. A funny thing is the Portuguese common name, which means marten-of-the-reeds. Yes, marten as in the mustelid. I don’t know why.

Click for full size!

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