(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Carlyle

“No pressure, no diamonds”*…

And sometimes no pressure means no deep clean. David Buck, on the remarkable story of pressure washers…

Some say that necessity is the mother of invention. But more often, it seems that happy accidents play more of a role than they’re given credit for. Such is the case with the pressure washer. Born of an accident in one man’s garage, the pressure washer would go on to become a staple of industrial and household work.

Our story begins in the small town of Moon Township, PA. A small town situated along the Ohio River, Moon Township is actually part of the Pittsburgh Metro area. Settled in the 18th century, the area was named “one of the best, affordable places to live” in the northeast by BusinessWeek back in 2007. But that isn’t the town’s only claim to fame: one of their residents was responsible for creating the precursor to the pressure washer as we know it!

It all started when Frank W. Ofeldt II was working on his whiskey stills at home. In 1926—seven years before prohibition officially ended—Ofeldt noticed something unusual: the steam from his whiskey stills was removing grease stains from his garage floor. Ofeldt knew his way around steam engineering and immediately saw potential in using the steam-cleaning technique in an invention…

From Prohibition to art projects, how the pressure washer revolutionized the way we clean outdoor surfaces—and occasionally, lends itself to creative solutions: “Under Pressure,” from @saltyasparagus1 in the ever-illuminating @readtedium.

* Thomas Carlyle

###

As we spray it down, we might recall that it was on this date in 1925 that Secretary of Agriculture Howard Gore empaneled 21 state highway officials and three federal Bureau of Public Roads officials as the “Joint Board on Interstate Highways,” charging them to come up with a unified approach to marking and numbering “interstate routes” in the United States. They briskly came up with the numbering system (East/West highways are even numbered; North/South, odd-numbered) and the distinctive “shield” design for U.S. route markers. Their work in identifying the routes themselves– intensely political, as towns and cities fought to be on the main highways– took many years.

1926 version of the U.S. Route shield

“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard”*…

 

democracy 2

It probably goes without saying at this point, but democratic institutions are experiencing something of a crisis. The last decade has seen an increasing trend toward right-wing populism around the world, from Donald Trump in the US and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil to the rise of autocratic regimes in Poland and Hungary. These developments are particularly troubling considering they are occurring in countries ruled by nominally democratic governments, even though democracy is meant to be a bulwark against exactly this kind of political extremism.

Although political theorists have long considered democratic governments to be among the most stable forms of governance, new research by an international team of complex systems theorists that analyzes how democracies become destabilized suggests that the stability of democratic governments has been taken for granted. As detailed in a paper published this week in the European Journal of Physics, Wiesner and an international team of mathematicians, psychologists, political theorists, and philosophers focused on two features of complex social systems—feedback loops and stability—to better understand why democracies around the world are backsliding…

A team of systems experts argue that the decline of democracies is poorly understood, but that concepts from complex systems theory may offer a solution: “Complex Systems Theorists Explain Why Democracy Is Dying.”

[image above: source]

* H. L. Mencken, who also (prophetically?) observed: “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

###

As we get down with governance, we might send carefully-researched and elegantly-written birthday greetings to Thomas Carlyle; he was born on this date in1795.  A Victorian polymath, he was an accomplished philosopher, satirical writer, essayist, translator, historian, mathematician, and teacher.  While he was an enormously popular lecturer in his time, and his contributions to mathematics earned him eponymous fame (the Carlyle circle), he may be best remembered as a historian (and champion of the “Great Man” theory of history)… and as the coiner of phrases like “the dismal science” (to describe economics)

Carlyle’s History of the French Revolution, a three volume work that assured his fame as a historian, was finished in 1836 but not published until 1837 because John Stuart Mill’s maid mistook the manuscript of Volume One for kindling.  The setback prompted Carlyle to compare himself to a man who has nearly killed himself accomplishing zero.”   But he re-wrote the first volume from scratch.

“A well-written Life is almost as rare as a well-spent one.”   – Thomas Carlyle

 source

 

Written by (Roughly) Daily

December 4, 2018 at 1:01 am

“A metaphor is like a simile”*…

 

“Fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.”

-Virginia Woolf

Just one of the “exhibits” in “an ongoing collection of the world’s most likable literary device”:  The Simile Museum.

[source of the image above]

* Steven Wright

###

As we remember that “liking” has a very long history, we might spare a thought for Thomas Carlyle; he died on this date in 1881.  A Victorian polymath, he was an accomplished philosopher, satirical writer, essayist, translator, historian, mathematician, and teacher.  While he was an enormously popular lecturer in his time, and his contributions to mathematics earned him eponymous fame (the Carlyle circle), he may be best remembered as a historian (and champion of the “Great Man” theory of history)… and as the coiner of phrases like “the dismal science” (to describe economics)

“A well-written Life is almost as rare as a well-spent one.”   – Thomas Carlyle

 source

 

Written by (Roughly) Daily

February 5, 2018 at 1:01 am

Pre-Raphaelite Photography…

 

Philosopher Thomas Carlyle

When Julia Margaret Cameron (1815–1879) received her first camera in December 1863 as a gift from her daughter and son-in-law, Cameron was forty-eight, a mother of six, and a deeply religious, well-read, somewhat eccentric friend of many notable Victorian artists, poets, and thinkers. “From the first moment I handled my lens with a tender ardour,” she wrote, “and it has become to me as a living thing, with voice and memory and creative vigour.” Condemned by some contemporaries for sloppy craftsmanship, she purposely avoided the perfect resolution and minute detail that glass negatives permitted, opting instead for carefully directed light, soft focus, and long exposures that allowed the sitters’ slight movement to register in her pictures, instilling them with an uncommon sense of breath and life.

The exhibition will feature masterpieces from each of Cameron’s three major bodies of work: portraits of men “great thro’ genius,” including painter G. F. Watts, poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, scientist Sir John Herschel, and philosopher and historian Thomas Carlyle; women “great thro’ love,” including relatives, neighbors, and household staff, often titled as literary, historical, or biblical subjects; and staged groupings such as her illustrations for Tennyson’s Idylls of the King or her Annunciation in the style of Perugino.

Julia Jackson, when she was Mrs. Herbert Duckworth. Widowed by Duckworth, Jackson married Sir Leslie Stephen, and gave birth to the painter Vanessa Bell and the writer Virginia Woolf.

Read the full story and see more photos at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the first exhibition of Cameron’s work mounted in New York in a generation is on show through early January.

###

As we say “cheese,” we might spare a thought for Arthur Rackham; he died on this date in 1939.  One of the leading illustrators of the ‘Golden Age’ of British book illustration (1900-1914), Rackham worked in a style that, while characterized at the time as “a fusion of a northern European ‘Nordic’ style strongly influenced by the Japanese woodblock tradition of the 19th century,” clearly owed a debt to the Pre-Raphaelites.

Rackham won a gold medal at the Milan International Exhibition in 1906 and another at the Barcelona International Exposition in 1912; his works were included in numerous exhibitions, including one at the Louvre in Paris in 1914.

“Freya,” one of Rackham’s illustrations for Wagner’s “Das Rheingold” (1910)

source

Self-portrait, 1934

source

 

 

Written by (Roughly) Daily

September 6, 2013 at 1:01 am

%d bloggers like this: