(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Parliament

“A thin grey fog hung over the city, and the streets were very cold; for summer was in England”*…

 

With his collaborator John Morrison, Harold Burdekin photographed the streets of the city of London in the dark for his book London Night, published in 1934. In a time before stricter air pollution controls, the pair chose foggy nights to make their images, giving the light in the photos a sense of weighty presence.

The book was printed a year after the much more famous photographer Brassaï published his influential project Paris de nuit (Paris at Night). Unlike Brassaï and the British photographer Bill Brandt, who published a book of nighttime photos of London in 1938, Burdekin and Morrison chose to record only scenes with no people in them. The resulting images are forebodingly empty…

More (photos and background) at “Spooky, Beautiful 1930s Photos of London Streets at Night.”

* Rudyard Kipling, The Light That Failed

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As we penetrate the pea soup, we might recall that it was on this date in 1940, during the Battle of Britain, that the German Luftwaffe launched a massive attack on London as night fell. For nearly 24 hours, the Luftwaffe rained tons of bombs over the city, causing the first serious damage to the House of Commons and Tower of London.

One year later, on this date in 1941, the day after the air attack on Pearl Harbor, Great Britain joined the United States in declaring war on the Empire of Japan.

The House of Commons, Parliament, after the attack

source

 

Written by LW

December 8, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Eating is an agricultural act”*…

 

… at least in these post-hunter-gatherer days, it is… and therein lies the problem?

To science we owe dramatic changes in our smug self-image. Astronomy taught us that our earth isn’t the center of the universe but merely one of billions of heavenly bodies. From biology we learned that we weren’t specially created by God but evolved along with millions of other species. Now archaeology is demolishing another sacred belief: that human history over the past million years has been a long tale of progress. In particular, recent discoveries suggest that the adoption of agriculture, supposedly our most decisive step toward a better life, was in many ways a catastrophe from which we have never recovered. With agriculture came the gross social and sexual inequality, the disease and despotism, that curse our existence.

At first, the evidence against this revisionist interpretation will strike twentieth century Americans as irrefutable…

Read Jared Diamond’s (1987) refutation in “The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race.”

* Wendel Berry

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As we hunt and gather, we might spare a celebratory thought for “the only man to enter Parliament with honest intentions”– it’s Guy Fawkes Day.

On the eve of a general parliamentary session scheduled for November 5, 1605, Sir Thomas Knyvet, a justice of the peace, found Guy Fawkes lurking in a cellar of the Parliament building, and ordered the premises thoroughly searched.  Nearly two tons of gunpowder were found hidden within the cellar.  The authorities determine that the suspect was a participant in an English Catholic conspiracy, largely organized by Robert Catesby, to annihilate England’s entire Protestant government including King James I.  Over the next few months, English authorities killed or captured all of the conspirators in the “Gunpowder Plot,” and also arrested, tortured, or killed dozens of innocent English Catholics.  Fawkes himself was executed on January 31, 1606.

The day after Fawkes arrest, November 5, 1605 Londoners were encouraged to celebrate the King’s escape from assassination by lighting bonfires, “always provided that ‘this testemonye of joy be carefull done without any danger or disorder'”; an Act of Parliament later that year designated November 5th as an official day of thanksgiving for “the joyful day of deliverance”, and remained in force until 1859.

But as historian Lewis Call has observed, Fawkes is now “a major icon in modern political culture.”  The image of Fawkes’s face has become “a potentially powerful instrument for the articulation of postmodern anarchism” during the late 20th century, exemplified by the mask worn by V in the comic book series V for Vendetta, who fights against a fictional fascist English state, and by activists who were part of the Occupy Movement.

 source

 

Written by LW

November 5, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Principles have no real force except when one is well-fed”*…

 

… and sometimes not even then.

Let the binging begin…

… at House of Carbs.

* Mark Twain

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As we treat ourselves to the BBC’s original, which is at least as good, we might recall that it was on this date in 2007 that the British House of Commons voted ten times on a variety of reforms for the upper chamber of Parliament, the House of Lords.  Outright abolition, a wholly appointed house, a 20% elected house, a 40% elected house, a 50% elected house and a 60% elected house were all defeated in turn. But the vote for an 80% elected chamber carried by 305 votes to 267, and the vote for a wholly elected chamber was won by an even greater margin: 337 to 224.  Significantly, this last vote, won by an overall majority of MPs, had political authority.

Still, this was only an “indicative” vote; the House of Lords rejected the proposal.

The House of Lords in session

source

 

Written by LW

March 7, 2014 at 1:01 am

Queen takes Knight; checkmate…

Alexandra Kosteniuk of Russia, Grandmaster and Women’s World Chess Champion (source)

We explore the relationship between attractiveness and risk taking in chess. We use a large international panel dataset on chess competitions which includes a control for the players’ skill in chess. This data is combined with results from a survey on an online labor market where participants were asked to rate the photos of 626 expert chess players according to attractiveness. Our results suggest that male chess players choose significantly riskier strategies when playing against an attractive female opponent, even though this does not improve their performance. Women’s strategies are not affected by the attractiveness of the opponent.

From a recent IZA research paper “Beauty Queens and Battling Knights: Risk Taking and Attractiveness in Chess” (pdf download here).  Via Tyler Cowan at Marginal Revolution.

As we are reminded by headlines (today as everyday) that chess is a metaphor for life, we might recall that it was on this date in 1919 that Nancy Witcher Astor, Viscountess Astor CH, was elected to Parliament.  She was the first woman to sit in the House of Commons.

Lady Astor, as painted ten years before her election by John Singer Sargeant (source)

Constance Georgine Markiewicz was actually the first woman elected to Parliament, one year earlier.  But Countess Markiewicz was a staunch Irish patriot who refused to take her seat.  Rather, along with other Sinn Féin TDs, she formed the first Dáil Éireann, and subsequently became one of the first women in the world to hold a national cabinet position (Minister of Labor).

Countess Markiewicz (source)

Are we there yet?…

As Memorial Day marks the start of summer vacation season, and memories of family automobile odysseys fly by, readers can thank James Lileks (pre-blog readers will remember his Gallery of Regrettable Food) for a collection of vintage postcards he calls “The American Motel

Yuma, Arizona

Willow Grove, Pennsylvania

Travel further down memory lane at The American Motel.

As we start our engines, we might recall that it was on this date in 1859 that the clock tower of Westminster Palace (aka The Houses of Parliament)– Big Ben, the largest four-faced chiming clock (and the third-tallest free-standing clock tower) in the world– first ticked.

Big Ben

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