NO.

It seems today is yet another fucking special ‘holiday’, “National Love Your Pet Day” which is unofficial, thankfully. This mania needs to bloody stop. A very small sample:

Baby Grace.

Doll & Jayne.

Barnaby Jones & Sullivan.

I have had pets all my life. There has never been one godsdamn day I have not loved them and cared for them. Much like my feelings for V.D., my answer to such fucking nonsense is NO. What is this but yet another way companies have to push insanely overpriced goodies and treats, and to guilt you for being a rotten pet owner if you aren’t spending a ton on junk for them? NO. If you need a day to remind you to play with your pet, dig around in the treat drawer, go for a walk with them, or whatever, then you should not have a bloody pet in the first place. All responsible owners love their animals, they mean the world, and they would do anything for them already.

Besides this being a greedy capitalist’s wet dream, this is also yet another burden on all those people who have lost their beloved, no matter what type of animal. Back when I kept koi, I about collapsed when I lost my beautiful Guin when he was yet a babe, I’d had him for 16 years. Whatever being it might be which captures a human heart, we already care. We don’t need yet another stupid manufactured day. This sort of “special day” thing needs to die. In a fire.

The Map of European Culinary Horrors.

Map created by Yanko Tsvetkov from Atlas of Prejudice 2: Chasing Horizons.

Map created by Yanko Tsvetkov from Atlas of Prejudice 2: Chasing Horizons.

I have to say, this made me laugh. One of my great grandmothers had a great love of blood based dishes, but I never did develop a taste for them. Out of all these, I don’t think Kyselo sounds bad at all, and that’s coming from someone who is not a fan of cooked mushrooms.

While European food has a very positive international reputation, it’s not all steak frites and pasta. As the map above shows, the continent also has its fair share of disgusting dishes and culinary horrors.

The map is the work of Yanko Tsvetkov and appears in Atlas of Prejudice 2: Chasing Horizons (also be sure to check out his first book Atlas of Prejudice: Mapping Stereotypes, Vol. 1)

You can see a linked list of all the foods in the map here, if you’re looking for more culinary info. Interesting reading all the way around! One thing is absolutely certain – there is absolutely nothing which would induce me to try maggot cheese. There are just some lines not to be crossed. :D

Black People Excited About Black Panther: BAD!

A dude by the name of Ben Shapiro is all manner of upset about people being excited about Black Panther. Naturally, he misses the point, by a whole damn universe. Most of his screeth* seems to be a lament over the lack of gratefulness being displayed in this excitement. Black people should be grateful, dammit, for all the great and wonderful things white people have done for them! On your knees, slaves! Oh, er…stop being so excited! I’m not going to be able to get everything in, it’s a fairly long screeth, so full of wypipo gone wrong that it’s extremely difficult to take, and that’s a serious understatement. Shapiro is one of those fucking idiots who make you ache for the ability to reach through your screen and smack him into last Sunday. And I’ll just add that I’m over the top excited about Black Panther m’self, but I can hardly share in the excitement born of such outstanding representation, because I’m not black. That said, I don’t have any problems understanding The Excitement.

“Everyone in the media is talking about the most important thing that has ever happened in the history of humanity, or at least since Caitlyn Jenner became a woman—a transgender woman—and that, of course, is the release of ‘Black Panther’. It is so deeply important,” Shapiro said, mockingly.

No, not one single person is talking about the movie as if it were the most important thing ever in the history of humanity, you sniveling dipshit. Black Panther is deeply important – look at how damn long it’s taken to get a mainstream movie comprised of a mostly black cast, especially when no one is able to say that tokenism has gone out of Hollywood.

“We’ve heard it’s deeply important to millions of black Americans, who after all were not liberated from slavery 200 years ago and liberated by the civil rights movement with federal legislation, have not been gradually restored to what always should have been full civil rights in the United States. None of that has mattered up till they made a Marvel movie about a superhero who is black in a country filled with black people. ‘Blade’ was not enough. ‘Catwoman’ with Halle Berry, no. OK, Wakanda is where it is,” Shapiro said.

He continued sarcastically, “This is the most important moment in black American history, not Martin Luther King, not Frederick Douglass, not the Civil War, not the end of Jim Crow, none of that, not Brown vs. Board—the most important thing is that Chadwick Boseman puts claws on his hands and a mask on his face and runs around jumping off cars in CGI fashion—deeply, deeply important. Black children everywhere will now believe that they too can be superheroes who jump off cars in fictional countries.”

Oh my. Hey, sniveling dipshit! You left a little something out – all those things? They wouldn’t have been necessary if white people deciding that forcibly kidnapping people and putting them into slavery hadn’t been done in the first place. You don’t get fucking points for taking centuries to correct your massive mistakes. As for the the movies Blade and Catwoman, you wouldn’t have noticed that outside the main characters, most of the cast was comprised of white people. That’s because you expect to see white people, as far as you’re concerned, that’s only right and proper. What a fucking surprise that people of colour would like to see themselves reflected in the same way, and not always have to settle for tokenism.

“We heard this about Barack Obama when he was elected, too. ‘Now that Obama has been president, black Americans will feel like they too can be presidents. It’s a transformative moment.’ Yet, all we hear now is that America is deeply racist and that black people are still systemically discriminated against and that black people are still victims in America society. So, it turns out it didn’t mean anything,” Shapiro said.

Yes, it was a transformative moment. Just like the portraits too, because generations of children to come will be able to read about a black president, and they will see black people represented in the sea of white in the white house. (White, white everywhere.) Having such transformative moments in regard to representation and the hope of future achievement is not a magic fucking wand, you wannabe Voldemort. Whitemort? Yeah, I’ll go with that one. It does not magically erase systemic racism, localised bigotry, or victimisation. Those are still with us, and unfortunately, with the Tiny Tyrant, we’re seeing a vicious, cancerous rise in hatred. The difference such transformative moments make cannot be accurately estimated; they represent hope, strength, and change. They represent inclusion and acceptance, and you just have to try and take that away, by demeaning black people in every way your tiny, atrophied brain can come up with. You aren’t worth spitting on, Mr. Shapiro.

“Sorry to break it to you folks, Wakanda is not a real place,” Shapiro said. “It does not exist.”

Well, thank you ever so much for that whitesplaination, Mr. Shapiro. I’m ever so sure that not one black person could possibly figure that one out minus your help. What a flaming doucheweasel.

You can read the whole thing, and watch video at RWW.

*Screeth: screed + froth.

Illustrating Carnival.

Spider costume designed by Charles Briton for the “Missing Links” theme, Mistick Krewe of Comus, 1873: Carnival Collection, Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University — <a href="https://digitallibrary.tulane.edu/islandora/object/tulane%3A4878" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Source</a> (some potential restrictions on reuse).

Spider costume designed by Charles Briton for the “Missing Links” theme, Mistick Krewe of Comus, 1873: Carnival Collection, Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University — Source (some potential restrictions on reuse).

“D for Dragon” float design by Bror Anders Wikstrom for the “Alphabet” theme, Krewe of Proteus, 1904: Carnival Collection, Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University — <a href="https://digitallibrary.tulane.edu/islandora/object/tulane%3A4382" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Source</a> (some potential restrictions on reuse).

“D for Dragon” float design by Bror Anders Wikstrom for the “Alphabet” theme, Krewe of Proteus, 1904: Carnival Collection, Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University — Source (some potential restrictions on reuse).

“U for Unicorn” float design by Bror Anders Wikstrom for the “Alphabet” theme, Krewe of Proteus, 1904: Carnival Collection, Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University — <a href="https://digitallibrary.tulane.edu/islandora/object/tulane%3A4382" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Source</a> (some potential restrictions on reuse).

“U for Unicorn” float design by Bror Anders Wikstrom for the “Alphabet” theme, Krewe of Proteus, 1904: Carnival Collection, Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University — Source (some potential restrictions on reuse).

Coral Polyp costume designed by Charles Briton for the “Missing Links” theme, Mistick Krewe of Comus, 1873: Carnival Collection, Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University — <a href="https://digitallibrary.tulane.edu/islandora/object/tulane%3A6278" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Source</a> (some potential restrictions on reuse).

Coral Polyp costume designed by Charles Briton for the “Missing Links” theme, Mistick Krewe of Comus, 1873: Carnival Collection, Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University — Source (some potential restrictions on reuse).

Darwin as an ass costume designed by Charles Briton for the “Missing Links” theme, Mistick Krewe of Comus, 1873: Carnival Collection, Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University — Source.

Darwin as an ass costume designed by Charles Briton for the “Missing Links” theme, Mistick Krewe of Comus, 1873: Carnival Collection, Louisiana Research Collection, Tulane University — Source.

Oh gods, these are beyond fabulous! I am so in love with the Coral polyp costume. Also in love with the bat, so cheerful!

On March 6, 1889, the New York Times breathlessly reported on the recent Carnival spectacles in New Orleans. The Krewe of Rex’s pageant, themed around “Treasures of the Earth”, included a “Crystal” float “attended by figures in gorgeous costumes and prisms by the thousand”, and a “Diamond” float featuring “a rocky diamond dell” through which flowed “limpid streams where nymphs sported and played with the gems”. The Krewe of Proteus, meanwhile, dazzled with their “Hindoo Heavens” pageant, where in one scene appeared Agni “God of Fire” riding a ram that “strides the flames, attended by the fire sprites.” This opulent, and highly exoticized, interpretation of South Asian religion concluded with a tableau where “Vishnu, under the guise of a horse with silver wings, shatters the earth with his hoof and rises to the celestial abode.”

The modern American Mardi Gras owes much of its bombastic revelry to this late nineteenth-century “Golden Age” of Carnival design. From the invitations to the costumes to the hand fans carried by spectators, artists designed entire identities for each Krewe (a group that organizes a Carnival event).

[…]

Mythology, literature, religion, and history, as well as nineteenth-century book illustration and turn-of-the-century Art Nouveau, were remixed into an eclectic excess. Up to the early 1900s, the main Krewes were Rex, Comus, Proteus, and Momus, each with their favorite artist collaborators. The names of these individuals are now obscure, but artists Jennie Wilde, Bror Anders Wikstrom, Charles Briton, Carlotta Bonnecaze, and others now anonymous all influenced the embrace of the fantastic that endures into the present. The greatest publicly accessible resource of their art is the Carnival Collection, part of the Louisiana Research Collection (LaRC) at Tulane University and supported by a bequest from the late journalist Charles L. “Pie” Dufour. In 2012, Tulane marked the completion of a two-year digitization project that put over 5,500 float and costume designs in the Carnival Collection online.

You can read and see so much more at The Public Domain Review, every single piece of artwork is utterly amazing and delightful! You can see all the images at a much larger size at the Tulane University source site. If you’re someone always on the lookout for inspired costume design, you cannot afford to miss these.

No V.D.

I don’t do Valentine’s Day, never have. I prefer a V.D. free life. If you’re a happily romantic or sentimental person who thinks it is just grand and wonderful, sure, celebrate it to your heart’s content in any way you see fit, but do everyone else a favour, and leave it there, please. Don’t foist it or your ideas about it on other people. From where I sit, it’s a burden of expectation, yet another thing you don’t dare forget or you’ll have a pissed off partner[s], and it’s a serious burden on those who are not in a relationship, or just come out of one.

The history is a very old one, and it’s based on the martyrdom of christian saints. Like so much else, it’s now turned into a multi-billion dollar enterprise for everyone except those who celebrate it. Perhaps instead of piling money into the pockets of those who don’t need it, you could do something simpler for a partner, a thoughtfulness based on your actual lives, rather than hearts, flowers, candy and an expensive dinner somewhere. Just a thought.

Or just shed the ‘celebration’ altogether. I don’t need an assigned day to tell my partner I love them, that happens all the time. ETA: Right now, my partner is acting as my primary caregiver in regard to my cancer, they could hardly express their love more than that, which makes me loathe the superficiality of V.D. even more.

Have An Apple Tree? Get Out Your Toast!

Toast swinging from an apple tree. Richard Gillin/(CC BY-SA 2.0)

Toast swinging from an apple tree. Richard Gillin/(CC BY-SA 2.0.

I do have an apple tree, so I’ll have to get some bread toasted, have some nice cider to pour and drink, and make a lot of noise.

After the New Year’s champagne is drunk and the Christmas tree is set out on the curb, the holiday season feels emphatically over. But in many apple-growing regions, there’s still one last celebration in January. Instead of champagne, the drink is hard cider. And instead of decorating a chopped-down pine, revelers tromp into apple orchards to drink and encourage a good harvest.

Apple wassailing, which has origins in southeast and southwest England, features a procession to the best apple tree in the orchard. There, revelers sing to the tree, decorate it with slices of toast to feed good spirits (and birds), and shoot rifles to scare away demons. Christmas-carolers may be familiar with the term “wassail.” An old Anglo-Saxon term for “Be in good health,” it became shorthand for both carolling and a spiced hot drink, made with either ale or cider. While pouring cider around tree roots, everyone usually shares a fanciful bowl of wassail.

You can read more about these apple tree traditions at Atlas Obscura. They date back about 500 years, and no need to worry about having missed it:

Often, it’s celebrated on January 5, which is Twelfth Night, the last day of the Twelve Days of Christmas. But Twelfth Night used to be on January 17. When the British switched from the ancient Julian calendar to the Gregorian system, though, in 1752, many counties kept the tradition on the old date. (If you live in an apple-growing area, you can celebrate twice.)

Anti-Clericalism in Medieval Persian Poetry.

Standford Lecture Handouts.

The above reads:

Better be a beggar than king, better practice vice

And perfidy than be a bigoted, pious puritan;

Better make love with many mistresses in the street

Than make piety and abstinence in public show.

– Amīr Khusraw Dihlavī (d. 725/1325)

I couldn’t agree more.

The dominant attitude of the anti-clerical rhetoric in Persian poetry is permeated by criticism of judges, lawyers, aesthetics, spiritual advisors, and authority figures of that nature. This is one of the reasons that makes this poetry still relevant. A lot of people today can’t read Milton, because anti-clericalism is no longer part of the normal vocabulary. In the West, we live mostly in a secular society, so the conflict between clerics and anti-clerics does not exist. But that is not the case in the Middle East at all, which makes this conflict very relevant.

Dr. Leonard Lewisohn is Senior Lecturer in Persian and Iran Heritage Foundation Fellow at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies of the University of Exeter where he teaches Islamic Studies, Sufism, history of Iran, as well as courses on Persian texts and Persian poetry in translation. He specializes in translation of Persian Sufi poetic and prose texts.

This is fascinating, and I learned a great deal. The lecture is below, and the Stanford Lecture Handouts for Anti-Clericalism in Medieval Persian Poetry are here.

Via Medievalists.

Japanese Tip.

installation view | photo by Kakijiro Tokutani.

installation view | photo by Kakijiro Tokutani.

This is just too cool!

Yuki Tatsumi was working as a waiter in a restaurant when one day, as he was cleaning up a table, he noticed that a customer had intricately folded up the paper chopstick sleeve and left it behind. Japan doesn’t have a culture of tipping but Tatsumi imagined that this was a discreet , subconscious method of showing appreciation. He began paying attention and sure enough noticed that other customers were doing the same thing. Tatsumi began collecting these “tips” which eventually led to his art project: Japanese Tip.

Since 2012 Tatsumi has not only been collecting his own tips but he’s reached out to restaurants and eateries all across Japan communicating his concept and asking them to send him their tips. The response has been enormous. He’s collected over 13,000 paper sculptures that range from obscure and ugly to intricate and elaborate.

Earlier this month Tatsumi staged an exhibition in Tokyo where he displayed 8000 of some of the most interesting sculptures sourced from all 47 prefectures around Japan. “Japanese Tip is a project between restaurants and customers,” says Tatsumi, “to communicate the ‘appreciation for food’ and ‘appreciation of the service’  by using the most common material used at any Japanese restaurant.”

The exhibition has since closed but you can see some of the paper sculptures on his website and you can follow the initiative on Facebook.

Such a cool and thoughtful thing to do. You can read and see more at Spoon & Tamago.

Remembering Lysol.

Most people know that Lysol started life as a douche. Fortunately, this was before my time, I just had to live the constant assault of Summer’s Eve and ‘feminine spray’ ads. I always thought it was a shame that no one at Lysol had the thought to market it as an all around marriage aid: “Men, use Lysol’s Intimate Soak for Men! Keep that rod of marriage clean and sweet smelling!”  But no, as with a majority of products at that time, most all of them were pointing out the constant and glaring imperfections and defects of women, and you best pay attention, else you’ll lose that man, oh my. The text in the above ad reads:

Why Does He Avoid Her Embrace?

A. Because he is no longer happy in their marriage, constantly makes excuses to avoid the romantic intimacy of their honeymoon.

Q. What has she done? Is it really all her fault?

A. It is not so much what she has done as what she has neglected…and that is proper feminine hygiene.

Q. Can neglect of proper feminine hygiene really spoil a happy marriage?

A. Yes, and the pity of it is, every wife can hold her lovable charm by simply using “Lysol” disinfectant as an effective douche.

Q. Can this purpose be accomplished by homemade douching solutions?

A. No…salt, soda, and similar makeshifts do not have proved germicidal and antiseptic properties of “Lysol” which not only destroys odor but is effective in the presence of organic matter.

Q. Why does this husband not tell his wife why he avoids her?

A. Because he feels that a woman should know these important facts…and use every means in her power to remain glamourous, dainty, and lovely to love. He resents her neglect of such fundamentals as correct feminine hygiene which is achieved so easily by regular douching with “Lysol” brand disinfectant.

(That ‘organic matter’ eluded to was a way of saying “effective spermicidal”.  You can see more Lysol ads below the fold.

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A Climbable Bookshelf.

Oh do I ever have bookshelf and house envy right now. Raging envy. This is such a good idea! And all that spaciousness and light!

Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves are lovely, and can act as a robust focal point in any home. But accessing the high shelves can be a problem. The common side-kick has always been ladders, which can also add character and charm. But for smaller homes like in Japan they can be a nuisance, occupying too much space for not enough usage. But Japanese architect Shinsuke Fujii came up with a simple, yet brilliant solution that solves another problem too: earthquake safety.

The “House in Shinyoshida,” as it’s called, named for the neighborhood in Yokohama where it stands, was conceived shortly after the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake. The client, who happened to be an avid book lover, approached Fujii with the task to design a home around a large bookshelf that’s both easily accessible but also one that won’t spill all the books if there’s ever a tremor.

The solution was to slant the entire western-facing façade and create a built-in slanted bookshelf whose shelves also function as a ladder.

You can read and see more at Spoon & Tamago.

Sivartha’s Book of Life (1898).

The Social Model.

Odors and Flavors.

The Aurosphere.

Nervous Structure.

Titled The Book of Life: The Spiritual and Physical Constitution of Man, Dr Alesha Sivartha’s enigmatic 1898 work expounds his unique blend of blend of science, sociology, mysticism and religion, a spiritual teaching which apparently attracted the attention of Mark Twain among others. Sivartha was clearly a man bursting at the seams with an abundance of complex and esoteric ideas, and while in written form this might translate into somewhat dense and bamboozling prose, visually it gave birth to a series of superbly intricate and striking diagrams. Obsessed with the magical properties of the number 12, Sivartha, in each of his wonderful “brain maps”, breaks down the grey matter into twelve different sections, as well as turning his gaze to other parts of the body such as hands and the nervous system as a whole.

[…]

As for the author himself, not a lot is known for certain, other than Sivartha appears to be the pen-name for a Kansas doctor named Arthur E. Merton (1834?-1915?), who is listed as the author of an earlier 1876 version of The Book of Life. What little additional information out there seems to stem mainly from a website (which seems to share the same mesmerising sense of horror vacui as its subject!) run by his great-great grandson, which claims Sivartha/Merton to be the illegitimate son of the Indian scholar and activist Raja Ram Mohun Roy Bahadoor and an unknown English Unitarian woman who became romantically embroiled with the Raja during his tour of England.

All the diagrams are fascinating, and there are so many of them! You can see some of them at The Public Domain, and the rest here.

Just Press The Right Button.

Vaught’s Practical Character Reader is an appalling little book on phrenology. I can’t imagine going around, staring at people, then feeling free to poke their head. Seems to me that would be an invitation to a facial rearrangement. There’s an insistence that anyone who doesn’t adopt their particular system is an idiot and worse, which  handily brings us to:

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