Tag Archive | archive

YesterWeird: Whaling Ship Log Books: O, Solitude Where Are Thy Charms!

Screen shot 2015-10-08 at 11.31.28 PMHere’s a link to the Nicholson Whaling Collection at the Providence Public Library. It has a huge archive of whaling vessel logbooks full of squirrelly handwriting and cryptic doodles.

Screen shot 2015-10-08 at 11.39.50 PMI’ve only poked at the thing haphazardly, but one of my favorites is the log of the Levanter out of Boston, MA from 1861. It’s reel #397 if you scroll down. The ship’s master is listed as simply “Clifford”. The picture above comes from that log as do the following doodles, including a ship board obituary:

Screen shot 2015-10-08 at 11.45.28 PMScreen shot 2015-10-08 at 11.47.00 PMScreen shot 2015-10-08 at 11.49.00 PM

The files are big and take a while to load. I suggest if you want to peruse them that you view the PDFs at 25% their size. It makes scrolling easier.

This is one of those things I have no idea what use I have for it, but take great joy in knowing exists.

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A Few Things

I’m putting these here so I remember them.

John Coulthart has a great post on past attempts to produce covers for M. John Harrison’s Viriconium sequence. Am I fan of Harrison? Of course I’m a fan. Coulthart then has a follow-up post on what he’d like to see in new covers. Speaking of Viriconium, over at M. John Harrison’s blog there’s a new piece of fiction set in that city.

Another thing…

This essay by Ursula K. LeGuin over at Book View Cafe. I can’t agree with it enough. How about these quotes:

Literature is the extant body of written art. All novels belong to it.

The value judgment concealed in distinguishing one novel as literature and another as genre vanishes with the distinction.

Every readable novel can give true pleasure. Every novel read by choice is read because it gives true pleasure.

And finally, a poem by Meng Jiao (a Tang Dynasty poet):

Wanderer’s Song

The thread in the hand of a kind mother

Is the coat on the wanderer’s back.

Before he left she stitched it close

In secret fear that he would be slow to return.

Who will say that the inch of grass in his heart

Is gratitude enough for all the sunshine of spring?

Yes.

Wanderer, your footsteps are
the road, and nothing more;
wanderer, there is no road,
the road is made by walking.
By walking one makes the road,
and upon glancing back
one sees the path
that never will be trod again.
Wanderer, there is no road–
Only wakes upon the sea.

– Antonio Machado

Follow Up

A better analysis of the Aaron Swartz/JSTOR case I mentioned in this post can be found here.

Censors of Knowledge

Today’s quote comes from No Tech Magazine:

“All too often journals, galleries, and museums are becoming not disseminators of knowledge – as their lofty mission statements suggest – but censors of knowledge, because censoring is the one thing they do better than the Internet does.”

“More than in any other area, the application of restrictive copyright is inappropriate for academic works: there is no sticky question of how to pay authors or reviewers, as the publishers are already not paying them. And unlike ‘mere’ works of entertainment, liberal access to scientific work impacts the well-being of all mankind.”

The rest is here.

I suspect this would be a testy issue. Researchers want to protect their work. Whether a paid gatekeeper charging 20 USD for single use access for one month on one computer cuts down on plagiarism I don’t know. It certainly doesn’t allow the information to reach a wider audience. But that’s another testy issue.

I’ll also add that I don’t have an advanced degree and am not currently in graduate school, nor do I play a graduate student on TV.

And Another Reason

And here’s another reason to keep a blog: I get to make a little archive of neat stuff found or read online. Case in point, today’s post over at Things Magazine:

“What emerges from all this is more evidence of the steep valley that lies between history and nostalgia, wherein a penchant for the latter tends to shape one’s attitude and interpretation of the former.

The Internet exacerbates this condition, building up our perception of the past through the endless reproduction and celebration of past ephemera. The past is filtered through a lens of celebration, a perpetually art directed world, be it the gritty black and white world of life sold from a suitcase in these images of Brick Lane in the 80s, or Soviet ruins, or abandoned lunatic asylums, rusting machinery, filleted libraries, caches of Eastern European match box covers, esoteric ephemera from long-forgotten Olympic games, boring postcards, found photographs, passive aggressive notes left on refrigerator doors, weird LP records, shopping lists, ticket stubs, or even our own almost entirely context free Pelican Project.

Collectively, we’ve managed to make a fetish of the failed, forgotten and the marginal, mashing them together with the Utopian and the celebrated until the edges are blurred. Whether its the decline of manufacturing and urban centres (Chicago Urban Exploration) or nuclear catastrophe (Approaching Chernobyl) or the collapse of the housing market (Scenes from Surrendered Homes) is all rendered flat and equal by the vivid resonance of the image. This is where the overwhelming emotional content of a carefully filtered past meets our nostalgia for now (‘… a mourning for the transience of a moment when you are still in that moment‘), and the result is a state of being that appears to seek out the romantic past in every captured moment.”

Fetish of the failed? Nostalgia for now? Alliterative indigestion aside, I’m going to be chewing on these paragraphs for months.