Monday, January 16, 2017

Education in the Balance



A trailer from Brave New Films regarding our prospective Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, who sounds like she'll fit right in with the rest of the grifters who are preparing to run the country.

More information about DeVos is available here at the Nation.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Curiosity Cabinet of Captain Nemo



In the eleventh chapter of Jules Verne's Vingt mille lieues sous les mers, the narrator, the noted natural historian Professor Pierre Aronnax, is given a guided tour of the Nautilus, the vast submarine skippered by his host (and captor), the mysterious Captain Nemo. One room is fitted out as a kind of museum, adorned with priceless works of art as well as wonders of the undersea world, the latter all hand-collected by Nemo. Aronnax's description of these treasures, as he recalls them later, includes a catalogue of molluscs worth quoting in full. I'll translate only the beginning, because most of the paragraph consists only of glorious French names that can be appreciated even for their purely formal qualities alone — and because many of the words aren't in my dictionary in any case.
Un conchyliologue un peu nerveux se serait pâmé certainement devant d'autres vitrines plus nombreuses où étaient classés les échantillons de l'embranchement des mollusques. Je vis là une collection d'une valeur inestimable, et que le temps me manquerait à décrire tout entière. Parmi ces produits, je citerai, pour mémoire seulement...

["A somewhat nervous conchologist would surely swoon before other, more numerous showcases where samples of the line of molluscs were arranged. I saw there a collection of immeasurable value, of which time does not permit a full description. Among these productions, I mention, solely from memory..."]

- l'élégant marteau royal de l'Océan indien dont les régulières taches blanches ressortaient vivement sur un fond rouge et brun, - un spondyle impérial, aux vives couleurs, tout hérissé d'épines, rare spécimen dans les muséums européens, et dont j'estimai la valeur à vingt mille francs, un marteau commun des mers de la Nouvelle-Hollande, qu'on se procure difficilement, - des buccardes exotiques du Sénégal, fragiles coquilles blanches à doubles valves, qu'un souffle eût dissipées comme une bulle de savon, - plusieurs variétés des arrosoirs de Java, sortes de tubes calcaires bordés de replis foliacés, et très disputés par les amateurs, - toute une série de troques, les uns jaune verdâtre, pêchés dans les mers d'Amérique, les autres d'un brun roux, amis des eaux de la Nouvelle-Hollande, ceux-ci, venus du golfe du Mexique, et remarquables par leur coquille imbriquée, ceux-là, des stellaires trouvés dans les mers australes, et enfin, le plus rare de tous, le magnifique éperon de la Nouvelle-Zélande ; - puis, d'admirables tellines sulfurées, de précieuses espèces de cythérées et de Vénus, le cadran treillissé des côtes de Tranquebar, le sabot marbré à nacre resplendissante, les perroquets verts des mers de Chine, le cône presque inconnu du genre Coenodulli, toutes les variétés de porcelaines qui servent de monnaie dans l'Inde et en Afrique, la «Gloire de la Mer», la plus précieuse coquille des Indes orientales;...
(The last-mentioned specimen is doubtless the cone shell known in English as the Glory of the Seas.) The rest of the paragraph is a headlong rush of names, some recognizable, others (to me) inscrutable.
- enfin des littorines, des dauphinules, des turritelles des janthines, des ovules, des volutes, des olives, des mitres, des casques, des pourpres, des buccins, des harpes, des rochers, des tritons, des cérites, des fuseaux, des strombes, des pterocères, des patelles, des hyales, des cléodores, coquillages délicats et fragiles, que la science a baptisés de ses noms les plus charmants.
The image at the top of page is by Adolphe Philippe Millot (1857-1921).
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Below, with another catalogue of marine marvels, is the Louisiana singer-songwriter Zachary Richard, singing a song he co-wrote with his young grandson Émile (the very amusing lyrics can be found here).


Que la coque de ton bateau soit imperméable à l'eau
Quand tu te lances à la mer.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Dante on the BRT



His face each downward held; their mouth the cold,
Their eyes express'd the dolour of their heart.


"B.R.T.'s Icy Inferno" (cropped version), an undated original drawing by cartoonist Winsor McCay, inscribed with lines from H. F. Cary's translation of Inferno XXXII. The Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company went belly-up in 1919, a year after the Malbone Street Wreck killed scores of passengers, and the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum believes that the drawing is from the first decade of the twentieth century.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Sunday, January 01, 2017

For the New Year



From George Herriman's Krazy Kat, April 23, 1921. Click to enlarge the full strip below.


Source: the Comic Strip Library.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Testament



I am no poet—
and have no religion, no creed,
no faith except the little that I need
to get up in the morning
and dig in a few seeds
(not knowing even whether they will grow),
and yet

—still—

I hold
that compassion is better than cruelty,
love more virtuous than hate,
that the truth is what it is,
and that the idols of the mighty
—wealth, power, fame—
are false gods.

And that will have to do.

December 2016

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Krazy, alone



I'm not sure of the origin of this panel, which I found on Tumblr with no further credit given. Herriman sprinkled a fair amount of Spanish into Krazy Kat, but the lettering doesn't appear to be his style, so I suspect it's taken from a Spanish-language translation. Spanish adjectives indicate gender, so here the gender-fluid Krazy is unambiguously male. Some rocks in the background.