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“Even bad coffee is better than no coffee at all”*…

 

You don’t get coffee to go in Paris. It simply isn’t done… [and] even the briefest search on Google shows that other cultures are similarly bereft of portable caffeine options. We’re the country that invented the disposable cup, the fast food chain, and the egregiously inflated cup size. The experience of getting coffee to go is a uniquely American institution, and it has changed the way we work, play, and present ourselves to the world…

The rich history, and intense American-ness, of the portable coffee cup: “True Patriots Take Their Coffee to Go.”

* David Lynch

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As we snap on a lid, we might send nutritional birthday greetings to Axel Hugo Theodor Theorell; he was born on this date in 1903.  A doctor and professor in physiological chemistry at the Karolinska Institute, Theorell devoted his entire career to enzyme research, received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1955 for discovering the oxidation enzyme and its effects.

Coffee is, of course, a rich (if not the richest) source of anti-oxidants.

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Written by LW

July 6, 2015 at 1:01 am

“The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.”*…

 

A diagram from Poe’s Eureka

I design to speak of the Physical, Metaphysical and Mathematical—of the Material and Spiritual Universe:—of its Essence, its Origin, its Creation, its Present Condition and its Destiny. I shall be so rash, moreover, as to challenge the conclusions, and thus, in effect, to question the sagacity, of many of the greatest and most justly reverenced of men.” —Edgar Allan Poe, Eureka, 1848

Eureka was the last major work Edgar Allan Poe published before his premature death in 1849.

In Eureka, Poe claimed to have intuited, among other discoveries, that the universe is finite, that it came about by the “radiation” of atoms out from a single “primordial Particle,” that what Newton called gravity is nothing but the attraction of every atom to the other atoms with which it once shared an identity, that countervailing forces of repulsion keep matter as we know it “in that state of diffusion demanded for the fulfillment of its purposes,” and that, eventually, the universe will collapse back into its original, unitary state.

Poe’s verdicts, as Marilynne Robinson and many others have pointed out, sometimes eerily predicted developments in twentieth-century astrophysics. For Poe, however, all the imaginings contained in Eureka—the prescient as well as the flighty or far-fetched—had the weight of indisputable truths…

Now Poe’s prose poem is the organizing principal of a show mounted through August 28 at the pace gallery in New York.  From Alexander Calder and Edgard Varèse to Sun Ra (replete with Arkestra) and James Turrell, the group exhibition features artists “who observe and map the cosmological, metaphysical and scientific through painting, sculpture and music.”

Read more about Poe’s Eureka in the Paris Review; visit the show at the Pace Gallery.

* Niels Bohr

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As we contemplate the cosmos, we might send exploratory birthday greetings to Robert FitzRoy; he was born on this date in 1805.  A scientist (hydrographer, meteorologist) and career officer in the Royal Navy who devised a storm warning system that was the prototype of the daily weather forecast, invented a barometer, and published The Weather Book (1863), he rose to the rank of Vice Admiral.

But he is surely best remembered as the captain of HMS Beagle during Charles Darwin’s famous voyage (FitzRoy’s second expedition to Tierra del Fuego and the Southern Cone)… though he might rightly also be remembered for his tenure as Governor of New Zealand: during which he tried to protect the Maori from illegal land sales claimed by British settlers.

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Written by LW

July 5, 2015 at 1:01 am

“The world is a perpetual caricature of itself”*…

 

Lilian Lancaster was 15 when she drew a collection of 12 anthropomorphic maps of European countries to amuse her ailing younger brother.  They were published in 1868 as Geographical Fun, with notes and an introduction by “Aleph” (the pseudonym  of William Harvey, a City Press journalist, antiquarian, and family friend).

Take the Grand Tour with Lilian in the Library of Congress’ collection; read her fascinating story (she became an actress, and continued her cartography) at Barron Maps.

* George Santayana

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As we peruse personifications, we might note that, while folks in the U.S. are celebrating the signing, on this date in 1776, of the Declaration of Independence of the U.S. from Great Britain, it is also a day to spare a memorial thought for two of the drafters and signers of that document, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson (respectively also, of course, the second and third Presidents of the United States); both died on this date 1826.

Adams and Jefferson

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Written by LW

July 4, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Your eyes can deceive you. Don’t trust them”*…

 

Marcus Rosentrater, filmmaker and animator of FX’s amazingly-amusing Archer, has done us the service of combining all six Star Wars films into a single viewing experience:

email readers click here for video

* Obi-Wan Kenobi

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As we hope that the Force is with us, we might recall that it was on this date in 1985 that Universal Pictures released the keystone of another– though very different– sci-fi franchise: Back to the Future.

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Written by LW

July 3, 2015 at 1:01 am

“The map is not the territory”*…

 

As regular readers will know, (Roughly) Daily is extremely enthusiastic about maps.  So your correspondent is especially grateful to Andrew Wiseman for his very helpful “readers’ guide”: “When Maps Lie- Tips from a geographer on how to avoid being fooled.”

* Alfred Korzybski

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As we uninstall Apple Maps, we might recall that it was on this date in 1871 that Victor Emmanuel II set up the capital of the newly-unified Italy in Rome (recently “acquired” from the Papal States).  The first king of a united Italy since the 6th century, he had been king of Sardinia before– the second “Victor Emmanuel” in that role.  On claiming the Italian crown, he decided to keep “II,” a missed PR opportunity, as he could have proclaimed himself “I” (of Italy), signaling a fresh start.

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Written by LW

July 2, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Making money is art”*…

 

Back in the 1890s, there was a conscious effort to turn American money into pocket-sized works of art. It resulted in the creation of what is still regarded as the most beautiful set of bank notes ever issued in the United States: the Educational Series of silver certificates…

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP)—the government agency that controls what designs appear on the nation’s paper currency—was open to the idea of a money makeover. With the United States innovating and industrializing, it seemed an apt time for the nation’s progress to be reflected on the art of its bank notes. And the standard dead-president design was getting a bit tired: a New York Times article from March 3, 1896 acknowledged that “there has been for a long time a desire to make a change in the inartistic and stiff paper currency of the years that have gone.”

In an effort to bring more artistic merit to the silver certificate, the BEP approached Edwin Blashfield, Will H. Low, and Walter Shirlaw, three artists known for their elegant allegorical paintings. As muralists, Blashfield and Low were accustomed to working at a much larger scale than the 3.125-by-7.4218-inch dimensions of a silver certificate. But the painters’ flair for eye-pleasing composition and their ability to translate principles of national character into gorgeous tableaus of women in flowing robes was paramount. They were encouraged to submit large paintings, which a team of skilled engravers could then translate to currency-compatible format. According to the aforementioned Times article, 15 to 20 engravers worked on each note, each one assigned to a particular section of the design.

The resulting three artworks formed the basis for the $1, $2, and $5 silver certificates that came to be known as the 1896 Educational Series…

Flip through them at “Object of Intrigue: the Most Beautiful Banknote in U.S. History.”

* Andy Warhol

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As we consider the corporate logos on our credit cards, we might recall that it was since this date in 1908 that the motto “In God We Trust” has been stamped onto all gold coins and silver dollar coins, half-dollar coins, and quarter-dollar coins struck by the U.S. Mint.

1908 P Indian Head Gold $2.50 “Quarter Eagle”

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Written by LW

July 1, 2015 at 1:01 am

“There are 10 kinds of people”…

 

… those who understand binary, and those who don’t.

Turns out that there are many other ways that the world cleaves in two…

From the creator of the afore-featured “Kim Jung-Il looking at things“…

… beaucoup binaries at “2 Kinds of People.”

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As we parse, we might pause to spare a thought for Nancy Mitford; she died on this date in 1973.  Known during most her life as a novelist (e.g., Love in a Cold Climate) and journalist, she is now better remembered as a biographer (Voltaire in LoveMadame de Pompadour, Frederick the Great, and The Sun King).  She and her five sisters– the Mitford Sisters— gave lie to the proposition that there are only two kinds of people in almost any dimension.

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Written by LW

June 30, 2015 at 1:01 am

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