Word Wednesday.

Panache

Noun.

1: an ornamental tuft (as of feathers) especially on a helmet.

2: dash or flamboyance in style and action: verve.

[Origin: Middle French pennache, from Old Italian pennacchio, from Late Latin pinnaculum small wing, related to pinnacle.]

(1553)

“Potential enemy?” Ponce de Leon made a face. “It lacks panache. I prefer to be called ‘rogue’ or ‘outlaw’.” – Unbound, Jim C. Hines.

Word Wednesday.

Crotchet

Noun.

1: obsolete a: a small hook or hooked instrument b: Brooch.

2a: a highly individual and usually eccentric opinion or preference b: a peculiar trick or device.

3: quarter note syn, see caprice.

[Origin: Middle English crochet, from Anglo-French crochet, croket.]

{14th Century).

“It had occurred to Jakob that he’d left his beloved tobacco back at the house. A few puffs would perhaps have helped his mood a bit, but then he remembered, Johann Lechner, despised tobacco. If Schongau had not been a Catholic town through and through, the secretary could have been viewed as a crotchety, pleasure-hating Protestant.” – The Play of Death, Oliver Pötzsch.

YouTube Video – Putting the Middle Ages in Perspective

I really like videos made by Ian LaSpina who goes under the handle Knight Errant on Youtube. They are short, to the point and are packed with well researched information (at least as far as I can tell). In this video he explains how Middle Ages were not stagnant from technological point of view and progress was being made.

Word Wednesday.

Meretricious / Vapid / Poppycock

Meretricious

Adjective.

1: of or relating to a prostitute: having the nature of prostitution, meretricious relationships.

2a: tawdrily and falsely attractive. b: superficially significant: pretentious.

-meretriciously, adverb.

-meretriciousness, noun.

[Origin: Latin, meretricius, from meretric-, meretrix prostitute, from merēre to earn.]

(1626)

“I’ll say you’re right,” said Mark. “Unfortunately, Miss Marple, we didn’t realize that. We wondered what the old boy saw in that rather insipid and meretricious little bag of tricks.”

Vapid

Adjective: lacking liveliness, tang, briskness, or force: Flat, Dull.

-vapidly, adverb.

-vapidness, noun.

[Origin: Latin vapidus flat-tasting; akin to Latin vappa flat wine and perhaps to Latin vapor steam.]

(1656)

“His face grim, Conway Jefferson lay remembering and thinking. Before his eyes he saw again the pretty, vapid face of Ruby.”

Poppycock

Noun: empty talk or writing: nonsense.

[Origin: Dutch dialect pappekak, literally, soft dung, from Dutch pap pap + kak dung.]

(1865)

“And she didn’t care tuppence for Mr. Jefferson. All that play of affection and gratitude was so much poppycock.”

All quotes from The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie.

I Cannot Tell a Lie – I Chopped Down The Cherry Tree

But I really did not enjoy the task.

Cherry_Tree_2012

©Charly, all rights reserved.

My father has planted this tree for me when I was about 10 years old. I liked cherries back then. Now I cannot eat cherries any more, because for some reason they cause me hypoglycemia which is really unpleasant. But I enjoyed the blossoms in the spring nevertheless, I always looked forward to them and I did not mind the birds eating all the fruit at all.

I did not take any pictures with my new camera last year, so I can only share pictures that I made with the old one in 2012.

Cherry Blossoms

©Charly, all rights reserved, click for full size.

Last fall mushrooms sprouted on the trunk and that is a really bad sign. There are two kinds of wood in a tree – sapwood, which delivers nutrients from roots to the crown, and heartwood, which is usually more dry and dark and is essentially blocked off and completely dead. Accordingly, there are two types of fungi that can attack wood on a living tree – ones that attack the sapwood, and ones that attack the heartwood. Have a guess at which of these two is more dangerous.

If you like me during my studies guessed those that attack sapwood, you guessed wrong. Fungi that attack sapwood will cause the tree to wither and eventually die, but the tree remains standing relatively intact afterwards for long enough to be felled safely. However fungi that attack heartwood are more insidious – the tree can grow for many more years at absolutely normal rate without anything really visible on the outside. And then, when enough heartwood has rotten away, a branch will suddenly snap, or a the trunk will spit or break. And this of course is dangerous, because to an untrained eye the apparently healthy tree is essentially a ticking bomb that can kill someone at any time – which is something that has happened in CZ a few years ago and it has made the headlines. Heartwood is dead and dry, but it still has a function – it is the scaffolding that holds the tree upright and together.

This tree has developed a split in the trunk at about 10 years  age. We were doing our best to keep fungal infections away, but the split never closed off and we were evidently unsuccessful in the end. I was not able to take a good picture of the mushroom, because it lasted only a few days, none of which was on a weekend. I was unable to determine the exact species too. But I was confident enough in assessing that it is a heartwood eating fungus. So I decided to fell the tree before it becomes dangerous to do so. The tree was huge, so all winter I have cut branches when I could. They were all still healthy and I started to have doubts. But this friday I have finally cut the trunk right above the ground and my assessment of the situation was confirmed. The fungus has already invaded the inner 10 years growth and was spreading. The tree would probably live a few more years, maybe even a decade, but I do not think it was worth the risk, since I do not know how fast the fungus spreads.

Cherry trunk - cut

©Charly, all rights reserved, click for full size.

I have felt real connection with that tree. I was hoping for it to live longer and age with me. If I ever feel something that could be described as a spiritual experience, it is in the presence of a tree in the spring.

I will plant a new cherry tree on the spot as soon as possible.

Word Wednesday.

Crepuscular

Adjective.

1: of, relating to, or resembling twilight: Dim.

2: occurring or active during twilight: Crepuscular insects.

[Origin: Latin crepusculum, from creper dusky.]

(1668)

“The Arcadian hated this time of day. That crepuscular transition between the dying day and the not-yet-born night. It was the heavy trudge home, the missed opportunities of the day, the optimism that had arrived with morning now transformed into failure and sadness. Or maybe it was just him. Maybe everyone else liked it. Thought it contained the possibility of fun, adventure. Looked forward to seeing what the night brought.

Maybe.” – The Doll’s House, Tania Carver.

New Game: Foundation.

Foundation is a grid-less, sprawling medieval city building simulation with a heavy focus on organic development, monument construction and resource management.

The game features in-depth resource management akin to the Anno (Dawn of Discovery) series, expertly mixed with city building elements from SettlersSimCity, and Pharaoh all topped with narrative encounters inspired by Crusader Kings II to create the ultimate medieval ant-farm simulation!

In this strategy city-builder economy simulation game, players must create a prosperous settlement as the newly appointed lord of a region untouched by man.

Setting to redefine the city-builder genre, Foundation puts the emphasis on the organic aspects of urbanism in the cities of old, powered by Polymorph Games’ in-house game engine, Hurricane, which allows for full mod support and is optimized for the thousands of moving parts that come with building humongous cities.

Among other things, the engine provides the player with robust building tools to create countless unique monuments that can then integrated into your settlement.

With medieval architecture and urbanism at the forefront of its design, Foundation’s vision is to allow players to recreate cities of that period as they envision them or even as they really were.

You can read and see more about Foundation at Medievalists, or just head straight to the Kickstarter, which has garnered much more than the initial ask.

Word Wednesday.

Synonymous

 
Adjective.

1: having the character of a synonym; also: alike in meaning or significance.

2: having the same connotations, implications, or reference.

-synonymously, adverb.

(1610)

“I had decided that if there was a God, he was a cruel sonofabitch to allow the things he allowed. Especially since he claimed his name was synonymous with love. It seemed to me that he was little more than a celestial Jack the Ripper, offering us, his whores, rewards with one hand, smiling and telling us he loved us, while with the other hand he held a shiny, sharp knife, the better with which to disembowel us.” – The Complete Drive-In, Joe R. Lansdale.

Does 18 Make For A Shithole?

 Esplanade Park in Helsinki. Finland, is the happiest country in the world, according to the newest World Happiness Report. Credit Martti Kainulainen/Lehtikuva, via Associated Press

Esplanade Park in Helsinki. Finland, is the happiest country in the world, according to the newest World Happiness Report. Credit Martti Kainulainen/Lehtikuva, via Associated Press.

According to The World Happiness Report, Ustates has plummeted to 18th on the list. If you really want to be happy and feel secure, you need to go Nordic. Finland made the top of the list.

Finland was ranked number one on the World Happiness Report, compiled by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. The country was joined by other Scandinavian nations—Norway, Denmark, and Iceland—in the top four, followed by Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, and Australia.

All these nations are based on strong social welfare structures, and look, people are happy! Looks like that evil socialism has a lot going for it. Turns out that when people feel secure, they tend to be happier and much more laidback.

“I think there really is a deep and very unsettling signal coming through that U.S. society is in many ways under profound stress, even though the economy by traditional measures is doing fine,” Jeffrey D. Sachs, an editor of the report, told the New York Times. “The trends are not good, and the comparative position of the U.S. relative to other high-income countries is nothing short of alarming.”

The drop followed President Donald Trump’s first year in office, during which the majority of Americans reported disapproval of the country’s top elected official, and hundreds of thousands protested his regressive policies on immigration, women’s reproductive rights, and gun control—as well as widespread concerns that the president is blatantly profiting off his position in public office.

The past year also saw reports of America’s widening wealth gap, with the average upper middle-class household holding 75 times more wealth than low-income families.

While other countries have focused on social welfare of all their citizens, Ustates has been in the process of removing rights and the very last shreds of social programs. We’re in the middle of dismantling education, nazis are running rampant all over the place, and you never know when you might be walking into a nightmare massacre. Sounds like a shithole to me.

The World Happiness Report ranks countries according to per capita GDP, social support, life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, and corruption levels.

Going by that alone, seems Ustates should be at the bottom of the list.

Life expectancy in the U.S. dropped for the second year in a row in 2017, with researchers suggesting that the opioid addiction epidemic and inequality are related to the decline.

I expect no health care has a lot to do with that one, along with a hefty percentage of the population living in food deserts and being unable to eat well.

Reigning political ideologies in the highest-ranking nations contrast sharply with that of the U.S., noted the researchers.

The countries in the top 10 tend to “believe that what makes people happy is solid social support systems, good public services, and even paying a significant amount in taxes for that,” said Sachs.

Yep. I’m more than happy to pay taxes, when they are used for the common good. That’s supposed to be the bloody point of taxes.

Every top-ranking country also ensures that every citizen has access to free or affordable healthcare, while millions of Americans remain uninsured despite the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Oh, there it is. Yep, other countries seem to have all figured out that having healthy citizens is to their benefit. That strikes me as simple common sense, but not here in Amerikka, no. I’m quite surprised we ended up as high as 18. Now I can’t get this song outta my head:

Via RawStory.

Word Wednesday.

Mordant

 
Adjective.

1: biting and caustic in thought, manner, or style: incisive.

2: acting as a mordant.

3: burning, pungent.

-mordantly, adverb.

[Origin: Middle French, present participle of mordre to bite, from Latin mordēre; perhaps akin to Sanskrit m dnāti he presses, rubs.]

(15th Century)

Mordant, noun:

1: a chemical that fixes a dye in or on a substance by combining with the dye to form an insoluble compound.

2: a corroding substance used in etching.

(1791)

Mordant, transitive verb: to treat with a mordant.

(1836)

“Neither of us was pleased to leave Bancroft behind. There was always a chance that he might decide he’d recovered sufficiently to be interviewed while our backs were turned. Maitland, of course, didn’t have an evening with Maeve as consolation, and he was mordant company all the way back to the nick.” – The Reckoning, Jane Casey.

Katastwóf Karavan.

Kara Walker with her “Katastwóf Karavan” at the Mississippi River Trail on February 23, 2018, in New Orleans. Josh Brasted/Getty Images.

Kara Walker with her “Katastwóf Karavan” at the Mississippi River Trail on February 23, 2018, in New Orleans. Josh Brasted/Getty Images.

[…] Walker titled the whole montage the Katastwóf Karavan, or Caravan of Catastrophe, the use of Haitian Creole signaling the mix of Caribbean and Southern histories that shaped New Orleans. Walker’s first public installation since the 2014 Marvelous Sugar Baby — the enormous Sphinx-like mammy figure that she built out of sugar in the now-demolished Domino factory in Williamsburg — the Karavan went up for the closing weekend of the Prospect.4 triennial, which ran for three months at multiple sites around New Orleans. The installation was freighted with layers of site-specific symbolism — none of it subtle if you knew a bit about local history, yet all of it obscured by years of avoidance or, at best, awkward notes in the narratives delivered by school curricula or tourist brochures.

Thus Algiers Point: Here, in the eighteenth century, traders warehoused disembarked captives — those who survived the Middle Passage — before selling them on the opposite bank in the markets that dotted the French Quarter and surroundings. This is where families were rent apart, humans assessed and packaged as commodities. Thus, too, Walker’s tableaux, relevant across the landscape of chattel slavery but especially here.

And thus the calliope, a direct retort to the one on the Natchez — “the OTHER calliope,” Walker called it on her handout for the event — and its sonic broadcast of a whitewashed history. Several times a day, the vessel’s instrument blares out to the city (there is no such thing as a quiet calliope) items from a hoary playlist such as “Old Man River,” “When the Saints Go Marching In,” “God Bless America,” and, yes, “Dixie’s Land.” […]

You can read and see much more about Kara Walker’s latest piece here.