(Roughly) Daily

“I suppose illustration tends to live in the streets, rather than in the hermetically sealed atmosphere of the museum, and consequently it has come to be taken less seriously”*…

Gustave Doré, frontispiece of “Œuvres de François Rabelais.”

But surely, it shouldn’t necessarily be so…

Old Book Illustrations was born of the desire to share illustrations from a modest collection of books, which we set out to scan and publish. With the wealth of resources available online, it became increasingly difficult to resist the temptation to explore other collections and include these images along with our own. Although it would have been possible to considerably broaden the time-frame of our pursuit, we chose to keep our focus on the original period in which we started for reasons pertaining to taste, consistency, and practicality: due to obvious legal restrictions, we had to stay within the limits of the public domain. This explains why there won’t be on this site illustrations first published prior to the 18th century or later than the first quarter of the 20th century.

We are not the only image collection on the web, neither will we ever be the largest one. We hope however to be a destination of choice for visitors more particularly interested in Victorian and French Romantic illustrations—we understand French Romanticism in its broadest sense and draw its final line, at least in the realm of book illustration, at the death of Gustave Doré.
We also focused our efforts on offering as many different paths and avenues as possible to help you find your way to an illustration, whether you are looking for something specific or browsing randomly. The many links organizing content by artist, language, publisher, date of birth, and more are designed to make searching easier and indecision rewarding…

And rewarding it is! See for yourself at Old Book Illustrations (@obillustrations)

(TotH to @Recomendo6)

* master illustrator Quentin Blake

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As we visualize, we might send powerfully-drawn birthday greetings to Silvio “Sal” Buscema; he was born on this date in 1936. An illustrator and comic artist, he is best remembered for his time at Marvel, especially his ten-year run as artist of The Incredible Hulk and his eight-year run as artist of The Spectacular Spider-Man.

Comics were a family business. His elder brother John is similarly renown for his work on The Avengers, The Silver Surfer, and Conan the Barbarian.

Sal Buscema

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“Unless we change direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed”*…

The economy is in a very confusing place. Happily, the good folks at Full Stack Economics weigh in with data in the form of illuminating charts….

It’s a turbulent time for the US economy. The economy largely shut down in March 2020 only to come roaring back a year later with the highest inflation in almost 40 years. No one is sure what’s going to happen next.

At Full Stack Economics, we believe that charts are an essential way to understand the complexities of the modern economy. So in recent weeks, I’ve been looking far and wide for the most surprising and illuminating charts about the US economy. I’ve compiled 18 of my favorites here. I hope you enjoy it…

Speaking for myself, I did enjoy (and appreciate) it. I’m still confused, but I’m confused at a much higher level.

Take a look for yourself: “18 charts that explain the American economy,” from @fullstackecon (@AlanMCole and @binarybits)

* Chinese proverb (often mis-attributed to Lao Tzu)

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As we ponder the portents, we might recall that it was on this date in 1937, on NBC Radio, that The Guiding Light premiered. A soap opera created by Irna Phillips, who helped develop the template for the day-time serial drama targeted to women, it ran for a decade before shifting to CBS Radio, where it ran until 1956. But in 1952, CBS transplanted the series to television, where it ran as a daily (weekday afternoon) staple until 2009.

Irna went on to create other soaps (e.g., Another World) and in the process to introduce and mentor the giants of the form (including  William J. BellJames Lipton, and the great Agnes Nixon). With 72 years of radio and television runs, Guiding Light is the longest running soap opera, ahead of General Hospital, and is the fifth-longest running program in all of broadcast history– behind only the country music radio program Grand Ole Opry (first broadcast in 1925), the BBC religious program The Daily Service (1928), the CBS religious program Music and the Spoken Word (1929), and the Norwegian children’s radio program Lørdagsbarnetimen (1924–2010).

Show creator Irna Phillips (far right) talks with show cast members

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“What is a polycrisis? When the whole is worse than the sum of the parts”*…

Columbia University historian Adam Tooze on a way of getting one’s arms around a polycrisis…

Yes, I know it is relentless. That is also a feature of the polycrisis we are in. It comes from all sides and it just doesn’t stop.

How to get a handle on this situation?

In German there is a compound noun: Krisenbilder – Crisis Pictures. I am going to draw some Krisenbilder…

Understanding (at least part of) the mess that we’re in: “Crisis Pictures (Krisenbilder) – mapping the polycrisis,” from @adam_tooze and his invaluable newsletter, Chartbook.

* Adam Tooze (see here)

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As we think systemically, we might recall that it was on this date in 1848 that James Wilson Marshall discovered gold at Sutter’s Mill, in Coloma, California.  When news of the discovery spread, some 300,000 men, women, and children flocked to California, picks and pans in hand, from the rest of the United States and abroad– the California Gold Rush was on.

Advertisement for passage to the Promised Land

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

January 24, 2022 at 1:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

“The highly motivated people in society are the ones causing all the trouble. It’s not the lazy unmotivated folks sitting in front of a TV eating potato chips who bother anyone.”*…

Americans consume about 1.85 billion pounds of potato chips annually– around 6.6 pounds per person. A history of our favorite snack…

When Covid-19 forced people to stay home, many of us found solace in a snack: potato chips. The crispy treats enjoyed around a $350 million increase in sales from 2019 to 2020. When the chips are down, it seems, Americans gobble them up.

Any search for the origins of this signature finger food must lead to George Crum (born George Speck), a 19th-century chef of Native and African American descent who made his name at Moon’s Lake House in the resort town of Saratoga Springs, New York. As the story goes, one day in 1853, the railroad and shipping magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt was eating at Moon’s when he ordered his fried potatoes be returned to the kitchen because they were too thick. Furious with such a fussy eater, Crum sliced some potatoes as slenderly as he could, fried them to a crisp and sent them out to Vanderbilt as a prank. Rather than take the gesture as an insult, Vanderbilt was overjoyed.

Other patrons began asking for Crum’s “Saratoga Chips,” which soon became a hit far beyond Upstate New York. In 1860, Crum opened his own restaurant near Saratoga known as Crum’s House or Crum’s Place, where a basket of potato chips sat invitingly on every table. Crum oversaw the restaurant until retiring over 30 years later; in 1889, a New York Herald writer called him “the best cook in America.” Crum died in 1914, but today’s astounding variety of potato chips, from cinnamon-and-sugar Pringles to flamin’ hot dill pickle Lay’s, are a tribute to the man American Heritage magazine called “the Edison of grease”…

George Crum, whose exasperation with Cornelius Vanderbilt reputedly helped spark America’s craze for potato chips

A fussy magnate, a miffed chef and the curious roots of the comfort food we hate to love: “How the Potato Chip Took Over America,” from @SmithsonianMag.

* George Carlin

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As we try to eat just one, we might might recall that it was on this date in 1965 that a storage tank ruptured and three million gallons of soybean oil flooded streets in Mankato, Minnesota, then flowed in the Mississippi River.

Stan Eichten was working in the office of Honeymead Soybean Products [the largest oil-processing facility in the world at the time]… when one of the biggest environmental disasters in state history hit.

“There was a roar, like an explosion,” said Eichten of the rupture of a soy oil storage tank that sent millions of gallons into Mankato streets and the Minnesota River. “It was almost like a tsunami. There was oil 2 or 3 feet deep all over.”

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“Eventually everything connects”*…

Long-time readers will know of your correspondent’s fascination with Powers of Ten, a remarkable short film by Charles and Ray Eames, with Philip Morrison, that begins with a couple having a picnic, zooms out by “powers of ten” to the edge of the universe, then zooms in (by those same increments) to a proton.

We’ve looked before at a number of riffs on this meditation on scale: see, e.g., here, here, and here.

Now the BBC has updated the first half of Powers of Ten:

It’s a trip worth taking.

* Charles Eames

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As we wrestle with relationships, we might light a birthday candle for Sir Francis Bacon– English Renaissance philosopher, lawyer, linguist, composer, mathematician, geometer, musician, poet, painter, astronomer, classicist, philosopher, historian, theologian, architect, father of modern science (The Baconian– aka The Scientific– Method), and patron of modern democracy, whom some allege was the illegitimate son of Queen Elizabeth I of England (and others, the actual author of Shakespeare’s plays)… He was in any event born on this date in 1561.

Bacon (whose Essays were, in a fashion, the first “management book” in English) was, in Alexander Pope’s words, “the greatest genius that England, or perhaps any country, ever produced.”  He probably did not actually write the plays attributed to Shakespeare (as a thin, but long, line of enthusiasts, including Mark Twain and Friedrich Nietzsche, believed).  But Bacon did observe, in a discussion of sedition that’s as timely today as ever, that “the remedy is worse than the disease.”

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