Sunday, August 28, 2011

Rainy-Day Activities

As usual in hurricane situations, by the time it gets to me, it's just some rain and wind.  It's mostly the suburbs that get the flooding and power outages.  But I stayed indoors.  The T shut down after 8 am, I'm guessing that stores closed too.  There are always lots of things to do indoors:

One can investigate new venues and postures for relaxation.



One can replace that piece of fabric art one got tired of with some pictures of the Painting Goddess.


And one can hang out on the patio and eat bugs.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

More Cute (and Educational) Cat Pictures


Here are a couple of educational shots showing the thumb placement on a polydactyl cat.


This is the Cat on my Hat.......................


........and this is the Cat on my Hat from the Back.


The cat's in the bag.


Friday, August 19, 2011

MAPS: We'd be Lost Without Them

When the Map Room mounts a display, they make reproductions of the maps they want to display.  So when they take the display down, I can take the discarded reproductions for interior decorating purposes.  I've manage to brighten up many of our boring office walls.

Here's one that takes the world's highest mountains and longest rivers out of their geological context and puts them side by side for comparison.



This map is an American product made during WWII.  It had propaganda value and was beautifully designed.


This map isn't so pretty, but it interests me.  Another American product from WWII, it is a paranoid's dream document.

You may have to click on the image to read the key.


Look how innocent New Mexico was!


But now look at Massachusetts.  Wow!

NOTE:  I fixed the links so they work now.  And I also browsed some of the other works of Joseph P. Kamp, compiler of the last map.  He was quite productive: The fifth column in Washington! By Joseph P. Kamp, It isn't safe to be an American, We must abolish the United States : the hidden facts behind the crusade for world government / Joseph P. Kamp, Behind the plot to sovietize the South, and
 many more.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Non-Satanic Naming

Since product names came up in a recent blog post, I decided I would report on my correspondence with Bumble Bee Foods.  I was discussing Bumble Bee tuna with my office mates one day, when I wondered aloud why a seafood company named itself after an insect.  I searched their site without finding an answer, so I e-mailed them.  This was their answer:

Dear Colleen:

Thank you for taking the time to contact us about our Bumble Bee products.

The Bumble Bee name can be traced to the early days of the company. The company was originally the Columbia River Packers Association (CRPA) and produced canned salmon primarily from Astoria, OR. The company grew quickly with salmon being a staple food product in American households. The canners used separate and distinct labels for specific salmon species and runs, even for different markets and specific customers. The labels were often the names of different animals and plants like Bear and Cloverleaf. The “Bumble Bee” name eventually became the most popular of the CRPA brands.

In 1938 the packers introduced a new catch, Albacore tuna, which was found seasonally and in abundance off the Oregon coast. Soon, Albacore tuna surpassed salmon as the company’s primary product. Today, Bumble Bee has become one of the most respected premium labels for canned tuna and other seafood items in the United States, bringing more variety in the company’s offerings for shelf stable protein.

Thank you again for contacting us.

Thank you,
Bumble Bee Consumer Affairs


I had assumed that the bee's stripes had something to do with it, since the Bumble Bee spokesinsect wears a striped sailor shirt.




I had further supposed that the bee's  nectar-collecting had been seen as analogous to fishing. But no, they just slapped various animal and names on their products.  This story is as dissatifying as that of King Arthur flour, which was named after a popular musical.  And I had been wondering what King Arthur had to do with baking!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Attribution Can Be Hell (or The Web of Deceit)

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Some months ago we got an attribution question from a Professor who wanted to use the quotation above in an article or book (I can't remember which).  The internet attributes it to Leonardo da Vinci; but the internet does not give a citation.  So I looked in every quotation book and every online quotation thing, but it's not there.  I did a JSTOR search in art history titles.  No results. Then I did Google Books searches and found Leonardo's notebooks and Thoughts on Art and Life (translated into English).  But I couldn't find anything like it in there.  Finally I asked an art librarian who asked a friend of hers who is a Leonardo da Vinci scholar.  The scholar had never heard that quotation.


Widespread quotation misinformation predates the internet.  William Safire got himself embroiled in just such a scandal.  He had used a quotation attributed to Edmund Burke in a column, and then a reader wrote him a letter asking when and where Burke had said said quotation.  Safire checked his copy of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 14th edition, which placed the quotation in a certain letter.  Safire sent a reply.  The guy wrote back: he'd examined that letter, and the quotation wasn't in it.  So then Safire embarked on a fruitless quest to prove that Burke really wrote, " The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."*
The 16th edition of Bartlett's lists this under Burke as "Attributed."



Now it is possible that Leo from Vinci said something that could be translated as the above quotation and that somebody found it somewhere written down by Leo on some forgotten manuscript in a hidden archive.  So if you are that somebody, I wish you would identify yourself and cough up a citation.


It is also possible that some person has, through error or evil design, perpetrated a web-lie.  If you are that person, please fess up.  And tell the world who really said "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."


* William Safire On Language, NY: Times Books, 1980, pp 224-227.

UPDATE 11/08/11 I find a reference to this problem in Wikiquote.