The Art of Book Design: Spicy Stories

 Spicy Stories, Sept. 1936.

I can deal with the skimpy outfit for grass cutting, but the heels are a bit much. Also, why must the woman look so happy when she is obviously about to have an accident with that mower. Nonetheless, this was an early men’s magazine, and it isn’t just the stories that are “spicy,” there are also titillating drawings and a few nude photos. Mild by today’s standard, but pretty saucy for the 1930’s. If you check out the magazine at the link below, be advised that it’s NSFW. Also, take a moment or two to read the ads at the back of the issue. They’re a hoot.

 

via: The Internet Archive

Teacher’s Corner: Homeschooling

Content note: Child abuse

Homeschooling is generally illegal in Germany and the longer Corona goes on, the clearer those reasons become.

A)For one thing, not all homes have the same resources. Right now you notice a stark difference in what schools can do with remote teaching. Some schools, mostly “Gymnasien” which are the elite schools in the horribly stratified German school system with a generally well off clientele are doing some fantastic things with Google Teams and all that shit. Us? Not so much. We made sure we contacted all families individually to make sure they can access learning material. In some cases that means that I print that shit out at home and send it off by mail. I’m currently telling myself that the cost is set off by not having to commute, but of course not all teachers will do that. And that’s just accessing learning material. Children still need support and an occasional explanation. I’m a teacher and kind of a “Jane of all trades” since in special ed you teach basically all subjects, though the focus is usually on Maths and German, neither of which are the subjects I actually studied. Not only do I learn easily and have years of training in teaching, but also in learning, so I know where to find resources if I’m stuck. Like yesterday when I had to do a quick recap in mechanics before working on it with #1.

Many of my students’ parents didn’t finish even the lowest school leaving cert themselves. For them school was not a good place and they are not able to do the schoolwork themselves, let alone explain it. Many don’t speak German (well) and at least one single mum is illiterate. Homeschooling massively increases injustices in education. Kids of well off, well educated parents keep learning. On the whole their situation is much less stressful right now. My kids have different rooms, there’s a garden I can send them to, for now I don’t have to worry about money or food and we have plenty of entertainment.

B) Parents are not teachers. Not even the parents who actually are teachers. Parents and teachers have different roles and relationships with a child and each of these relationships has a different conflicts. For one thing, while I am very involved in my students’ wellbeing and care for them a lot, they cannot hurt me emotionally in a profound way. While they can annoy me and even make me angry at times, I generally don’t take it personally (they often do, but they’re teenagers so they take the weather personally as well). There’s the kid who has called me all kinds of names and I frankly care more about him getting his anger under control because once he leaves school he’ll be in a hell lot of trouble for calling his boss a b*tch. With my kids things are very different. They can hurt me. they can make me worry on a whole different level. And vice versa. If I teach them at home and there’s some problem and some fight over schoolwork, they cannot go home to a safe place afterwards and complain about fucking Ms Giliell. And right now, having a safe place is much more important than ever. This would always be a problem with homeschooling, but in the current crisis, the relationship between parents and their children is so crucial, it cannot be sacrificed to algebra. When I talk to parents on the phone I tell them that this is the most important thing. School will still be there after Corona. Maths will still be there. But their relationship might not be.

C) Some teachers just don’t get it. While across the country teachers are (rightfully) snickering at parents who are currently finding out that maybe the teacher isn’t the problem, there are also teachers who show no understanding for the problems I talked about in 1 and 2. There’s a video I’ve been sent where a teen dressed up as a teacher is going “oh, homework will help them so here’s my Corona remote teaching: Do every single task and exercise from page 1 to 349! This will be graded”. My social media is full with parents being desperate about not meeting deadlines and kids crying about schoolwork.

Yesterday I was like “are they fucking kidding me” when I printed out #1’s science lessons. Not only does the teacher expect people to have a colour printer, they also expect to learn all of mechanics all by themselves. These kids have never had even the most basic lesson about power, force, mass etc. and all those other important concepts you need to understand shit like levers and stuff. Nobody is telling me that they would have been able to cover all of that in 7 lessons at school. And honestly, I needed 30 minutes of preparation before I was safe enough in using the correct terms. I also bribed her, saying that her Easter gift would come as soon as we finished this because I know that this is the thing she likes the least and she’s struggling anyway, not because she’s having trouble grasping those ideas, but because she’s on the spectrum and needs her clear structure.

Apart from that it’s difficult for teachers to asses if their worksheets are working. In class I can read the room. I can see on the faces whether something makes “click” or not, I know where to look (Is little Jeanie still paying attention and what do I need to do to get her attention). With remote learning there’s little chance of that. Many kids will ask in class, but not write an email. And yeah, even veteran teachers occasionally produce bad material. To be honest, with #1’s physics worksheets I was occasionally wondering what they want me to do. And next on the list is calculating “work”. The formula remains obscure. It has not appeared in the book pages she’s supposed to read or the worksheets up to date. She will learn about it at some later time. I’m not sure if spoilers should be a thing in physics.

And this is the most damning point: child abuse:

D) In schools, daycare, all those institutions, people see kids every day. We notice if kids don’t have food. We notice if they have bruises. I remember a mother who accused us of not having noticed sooner that her daughter was cutting herself (after we informed her, the mother, who shares a household with her daughter). We notice if they don’t have clothes or don’t come to school at all because they need to “take care” of their parents who struggle and don’t manage to give their kids the care they need. Occasionally we just plain feed them. I sometimes complain about the days when I spend more time with adults on the phone than with kids in the classroom, talking to CPS, social workers, therapists. I write “notifications of child endangerment”. None of this is happening right now. CPS is mostly shut down right now. They cannot visit families at home. If they have concrete evidence, they can send the police who are absolutely not trained in those matters (and ironically kids in good middle class homes are most at danger here because if police come to a nice home with well fed kids they won’t do shit.) All of this is happening while people are packed in bad living conditions, struggling financially. Many charities have stopped working while some still try do give at least some support. Children are no longer getting meals at school. Welfare money is already not enough and now those families lose that safe 1 buck hot meal that their children got so far. In some schools it’s even more as for example the special eds centre I belong to (but don’t work at) offers free breakfast as well. We know that while there#s never an excuse for beating your kids, such situations lead to an increase in violence. We have already seen this in China, and children are the most vulnerable. As one CPS worker who still staffs the crisis hotline said: “a four years old can’t dial my number.”

Musical Cheese

This story has aged well in my archives, like a good, sharp cheddar (or perhaps flat?).

Last September, Swiss cheesemaker Beat Wampfler and a team of researchers from the Bern University of Arts placed nine 22-pound wheels of Emmental cheese in individual wooden crates in Wampfler’s cheese cellar. Then, for the next six months each cheese was exposed to an endless, 24-hour loop of one song using a mini-transducer, which directed the sound waves directly into the cheese wheels.

So, what kind of music does cheese enjoy?

The “classical” cheese mellowed to the sounds of Mozart’s The Magic FluteThe “rock” cheese listened to Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” An ambient cheese listened to Yello’s “Monolith,” the hip-hop cheese was exposed to A Tribe Called Quest’s “Jazz (We’ve Got)” and the techno fromage raved to Vril’s “UV.” A control cheese aged in silence, while three other wheels were exposed to simple high, medium and low frequency tones.

Well, that’s not a huge range of choices, plus six months of the same song, over and over? It’s enough to curdle the blood in my musical ear, that’s for sure.

Ah, you say – cheese doesn’t have ears! True. This issue was resolved by applying music directly to cheese:

The wheels were stored in wooden crates and played 24 consecutive hours of either classical, hip-hop, techno, ambient, or rock and roll. Rather than speakers, the researchers attached small transmitters to the wheels to relay the sound waves directly into the cheese.

Bern University of the Arts

I have my doubts, of course, but until I have my own dairy farm and cheese making equipment to attempt a reproduction of this experimental method, it sounds pretty good to me.

In anticipation of the annual celebration of, among other things, cheese, here’s an indirectly thematic song:

The Art of Book Design: Weird Tales

Weird Tales, November 1938.

Weird Tales was begun in 1922 by J.C. Henneberger and J. M. Lansinger under Baird Publishers, but it floundered. In 1924, Henneberger moved the concept to Wright Publishers and it prospered there for the next 15 years. It became a popular and well-known place for many famous science fiction writers, including H.P. Lovecraft whose Cthulhu stories first appeared in the magazine. The magazine continued until 1954 when it folded, but it has been relaunched a few times (first in 1973), most successfully in 1988 where the magazine continued under several different publishers for the next 20 years or so. The title was changed in the mid 90’s to Worlds of Fantasy & Horror because of licensing issues, but it retook its original name in 1998.

 

via: The Internet Archive

 

Making Kitchen Knives – Interlude 2 – Picklin’ Scales

Today I took a bit of time and I have chosen and cut to size some wood for the handle scales. Among the species that I have chosen for this experiment are: Black locust, Cherry, Jatoba, Black elder, Larch, Oak and some unknown semi-rotten wood, probably birch.

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

Because the purpose of this project is to gather information, I have taken all these various pieces of wood and I have given them into a jar with a mixture of ammonia and alcohol. I have written about this process before as “ammonia fuming”. The ammonia reacts with acidic lignin compounds in the wood and thus artificially ages it. In some woods the effect is really subtle – and I already know that using it for maple is a waste of resources – but on some woods, it can be really profound by giving the wood significantly darker and richer color. Oak should get almost ebony black after a few days. The rule of thumb is that if the wood has differently colored heartwood, then it is worth a try.

Some color will leech out into the solution, as you can see already (it was not a fresh solution), but that should not be a problem, it will not seep into the wood itself any more than any other pigment would. What is important here is the chemical reaction, if the wood does not react with the ammonia, it won’t change color significantly no matter what.

Ideally, only ammonia fumes would be used, with the sitting wood above the solution. But I cannot do that comfortably yet, for that I will have to make a grit of sorts that I can put into the jar. If I will ever bother, because whilst that process is a bit safer, it is a lot slower.

That is why I have added alcohol to the solution. It reduces the swelling of the wood during the soaking and subsequently reduces shrinkage and risk of cracks when drying. Plus it makes the subsequent drying a bit faster. That is something that I have tested already on two pieces of fresh birch which I have subsequently put away somewhere in my wood stash and now I cannot find them.

I will take the pieces out of the solution after a few days and let them dry outside for a bit (they stink like hell as you can probably imagine). Then we shall see what has happened to which wood. Some effects can already be seen after a few hours.

Tales from the Loop!

Simon Stålenhag was featured by Caine back in 2016, and there is some interesting news out: a TV series based on his Tales from the Loop is coming out April 3! I’m a little bit excited because I had no idea this was in the works, and also I just bought his book The Electric State. Soundtrack composed by Philip Glass and Paul Leonard-Morgan.

Here’s the trailer, it looks suitably unfathomable and weird and slightly creepy to me:

Looking forward to this very much!

 

Tree Tuesday

A frosting of fungus ©voyager, all rights reserved

I found a few nature made pieces of wood art the other day while I was walking with Jack that I thought I’d share today. I’d prefer to share your tree photos, though, so now that it’s springtime, why not take your camera for a walk and grab some pictures of your local trees in bud or bloom. I think all of us would like to see the progress of spring in your part of the world, and I love reader submissions. Really, I do. Don’t be shy, our address is over there in the sidebar, underneath the colourful percolating head where it says email here.

Wormwood ©voyager, all rights reserved

A Tiered Garden ©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack’s Walk

Jack, March 23, 2020 ©voyager, all rights reserved

Can I go back to bed now, Mummy? ©voyager, all rights reserved

All that white stuff behind Jack is snow. Which is what it did here yesterday. Thankfully, it was all gone by this morning, and no shovelling was required, which made for a pleasant change. Despite the snow and cold, it’s definitely spring, and not just because the calendar says so. I know it’s spring because Jack has started his annual shed. You can see it starting on his shoulders just below his collar. See how it’s clumping into tufts. Soon those tufts will turn blondish and then they’ll fall out along with a tsunami of single untufted hairs, all of which will need to be vacuumed up if I don’t brush them out first. Luckily, we have super-powered brushing tools (Thanks, Marcus), but even deploying them daily won’t keep up. The more you brush Jack, the more hair it loosens up, and the more brushing he needs. You can spend half an hour at a time brushing Bubba and get a grocery bag full of hair and think you’re all good, and then an hour later, you could do it all over again. I had hopes that it wouldn’t be as bad this year because he didn’t seem to put on as much hair as usual, but if today is any indication, my brushing arm, which is also my vacuuming arm, is still going to get a good workout over the next month or so. I’ve included Jack’s photos from the start of winter below the fold in case you want to make a comparison.

Jack, October 3, 2019 ©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack, October 3, 2019 ©voyager, all rights reserved

Bonsai Tree – Well, Thats Officialy Weird…

Previous Post.

Today, the terminal bud started definitively growing. There is no longer any doubt that it is alive and that last years’ growth did not go down the drain. Persimmon seeds are rare, so I am a bit fussier about this tree than I am for example about pomegranates or hibiscuses. So these last two weeks I was worried that the terminal bud is dead.

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

However, I did not worry that the tree itself is dead. Because it did, in fact, begin to grow just one day after my last post. Only it did not start to grow at the tip. It sprouted a second trunk near the base. Which grows slowly, but steadily, ever since. This week the leaves started to get bigger and I have started to turn the plant 90° clockwise daily in order to achieve straight growth.

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

However, this is not something that I expected. From pictures on the internet I have assumed that Diospyros kaki are small to medium-sized trees with strong apical dominance, akin to apples or pear trees. But this type of growth, where new suckers start growing at the root base and outpace in growth the main stem is usually the domain of shrubs and bushes, like the common hazel Corylus avellana. And even there it usually does not happen during the second year already, it usually takes a few years to establish the main stem first.

I can only speculate about the cause, so here goes: The root-trimming stopped the inhibition of one of the two buds at the base of cotyledons. Those remained underground in this plant, unlike for example in apple, where they rise above the ground. And since cotyledons are modified leaves, they have buds at their base, only those are usually extremely inhibited and do not start growing unless the main stem is damaged.

This gives me some information about the plant.

First, I will see next year what the root system looks like, but this might mean I will get multiple plants out of this, or one plant with multiple stems. Or that it will be very difficult to get bonsai out of this plant at all because the plant has insufficient apical dominance for that.

Second and more important – it means this species should be strong enough to handle even severe trimming and should be able to start growing even from older wood from extremely inhibited buds. That is, in fact, a very good property in a bonsai tree, because those might need to be scaled back occasionally by trimming several years old branches.

So while this was really unexpected and it is a bit weird, It is not bad news and it makes me hopeful that it will go well. We’ll see how the growth pattern develops from now on, I won’t interfere with the trees shape for at least a year at all.

The Art of Book Design: True Detective Mysteries

McFadden Publishing. True Detective Mysteries, June 1928.

There were many imitators over the years, but True Detectives Mysteries (later known simply as ‘True Detective’) is the original true crime magazine, and ran from 1924 until 1971, under McFadden Publishers and from 1971 – 1995 under several other publishers.

Bricks and Mortar and Water – Part 2

This is Part 2 (Part 1 here), which may or may not extend into Part 3 (spoiler: it will! (spoiler: most likely but no promises)).

Anyway, I arrived at the aqueduct, and was duly impressed:

Here’s an attempt to get the full length in one photo.
© rq, All rights reserved.

Getting closer to the brick texture here.
© rq, All rights reserved.

View from the other end – it was definitely a shifting light kind of day.
© rq, All rights reserved.

Of course, where possible, I have to climb onto things, so here’s a view back towards the mountains. I walked quite a distance across the top, but not all the way – some few metres along, the arches seemed slightly too damaged to risk (that mossy-grassy patch in the photo, actually), and my formerly brick-laying Lithuanian colleague agreed.
© rq, All rights reserved.

There were also figs.
© rq, All rights reserved.

Now I don’t actually remember what I was going for in this photo…
©rq, All rights reserved.

… but my Lithuanian colleague was kind enough to take a photo of what I looked like taking it.
© rq’s Lithuanian colleague, All rights reserved.

A window into the world.
© rq, All rights reserved.

That’s all for Part 2, then – Part 3 will take a closer look at the decrepit brickwork and the arches, because there’s a few interesting things, if you like that sort of thing. :)