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Kazakhstan Mermaid Worship

A newly-unveiled statue of a mermaid in Kazakhstan has apparently become a victim of her own popularity.

Even though it’s made of fibre-reinforced concrete, the statue in the northern Kazakh city of Pavlodar has been taken down for repairs after only two weeks on display, having suffered a broken finger and a damaged tail, after falling victim to “too much pressure” from adoring fans who like touching her.

She was particularly popular with newly-weds who insisted on having themselves photographed in front of the statue.

Local fishermen have been upset by the statue’s removal. They believe that the mermaid “mystically attracted” shoals of fish.

Even though the Kazakh mermaid bears a resemblance to her more famous sister in Copenhagen, there are differences – she has Asian features, her tail is adorned with a traditional Kazakh pattern and she wears a bra.

 

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Wishing Well, Cox Green

 

A mossy grotto alongside the south bank riverside path a little way east of Cox Green, a hamlet on the River Wear, about 5 miles out of Sunderland. Water drips from the roof and walls, forms pools on the floor.

I call it the Wishing Well because I came across reference to it by that name in someone’s memoirs of the 1930s published in the local paper. Its not otherwise refered to in any source that I’ve yet found, though maybe for others it has significance – on one visit I found a carefully constructed daisy-chain floating in the pool.

It’s really a well under threat – the roof of the grotto seems to consist entirely oif soil, held together by the roots of the trees growing on the bank above. Sooner or later the elements will conspire to bring the whole lot down, and the grotto will be gone, or at best extremely truncated.

Oh, and it works !

I presented a silver coin to the well spirit, made my wish (I wont divulge its nature) and within an hour my wish had been granted.

 

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Almanac – June 11

1184 BC – Trojan War: Troy was sacked and burned, according to calculations by Eratosthenes.

In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans (Greeks) after Paris of Troy took Helen from her husband Menelaus king of Sparta.

The war is one of the most important events in Greek mythology and has been narrated through many works of Greek literature, most notably through Homer’s Iliad and the Odyssey. The Iliad relates a part of the last year of the siege of Troy; the Odyssey describes Odysseus’s journey home.

Other parts of the war are described in a cycle of epic poems, which have survived through fragments. Episodes from the war provided material for Greek tragedy and other works of Greek literature, and for Roman poets including Virgil and Ovid.

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1936 – The International Surrealist Exhibition opened in London,  from 11 June to 4 July 1936 at the New Burlington Galleries.

The exhibition was opened in the presence of about two thousand people by André Breton. The average attendance for the whole of the Exhibition was about a thousand people per day.

During the course of the Exhibition, the following lectures were delivered to large audiences:

    June 16 — André Breton — Limites non-frontières du Surréalisme.
    June 19 — Herbert Read — Art and the Unconscious.
    June 24 — Paul Éluard — La Poésie surréaliste.
    June 26 — Hugh Sykes Davies — Biology and Surrealism.
    July 1 —    Salvador Dalí — Fantômes paranoïaques authentiques.

Dali’s lecture was delivered whilst wearing a deep-sea diving suit. Nearly suffocating during the presentation, Dali had to be rescued by the young poet David Gascoyne, who arrived with a spanner to release him from the diving helmet.

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1963 –  Alabama Governor George Wallace stood at the door of Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama in an attempt to block two black students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, from attending that school.

Later in the day, accompanied by federalized National Guard troops, they are able to register.

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Almanac – June 05

1898 – Federico García Lorca born. Spanish poet, dramatist and theatre director.
 He achieved international recognition as an emblematic member of the Generation of ’27.  He was killed by Nationalist forces during the Spanish Civil War.

 

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Almanac – May 31

1837 – Joseph Grimaldi died.  English actor, comedian and dancer, who became the most popular English entertainer of the Regency era.

In the early 1800s, he expanded the role of Clown in the harlequinade that formed part of British pantomimes, notably at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and the Sadler’s Wells and Covent Garden theatres, and  became so dominant on the London comic stage that harlequinade Clowns became known as “Joey”, and both the nickname and Grimaldi’s whiteface make-up design were, and still are, used by other types of clowns. He also originated catchphrases such as “Here we are again!”, which continues to feature in modern pantomimes.
In his last years, Grimaldi lived in relative obscurity and became a depressed, impoverished alcoholic, dying at home in Islington in 1837, aged 59.

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1872 – W. Heath Robinson born.  English cartoonist and illustrator, best known for drawings of eccentric machines.

In the UK, the term “Heath Robinson” has entered the language as a description of any unnecessarily complex and implausible contraption, although it  is perhaps more often used in relation to temporary fixes using ingenuity and whatever is to hand, often string and tape, or unlikely cannibalisations.

Its popularity is undoubtedly linked to Second World War Britain’s shortages and the need to “make do and mend“.

 

 

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1996 – Timothy Leary died. American psychologist and writer, known for his advocacy of psychedelic drugs.

During a time when drugs such as LSD and psilocybin were legal, Leary conducted experiments at Harvard University under the Harvard Psilocybin Project, resulting in the Concord Prison Experiment and the Marsh Chapel Experiment.

Both studies produced useful data, but Leary and his associate Richard Alpert were fired from the university nonetheless because of the public controversy surrounding their research.

Leary believed LSD showed therapeutic potential for use in psychiatry. He popularized catchphrases that promoted his philosophy such as “turn on, tune in, drop out” (a phrase given to Leary by Marshall McLuhan); “set and setting“; and “think for yourself and question authority“.

He also wrote and spoke frequently about transhumanist concepts involving space migration, intelligence increase and life extension (SMI²LE), and developed the eight-circuit model of consciousness in his book Exo-Psychology (1977).

During the 1960s and 1970s, he was arrested often enough to see the inside of 29 different prisons worldwide. President Richard Nixon once described Leary as “the most dangerous man in America“.
His death was videotaped for posterity at his request, capturing his final words. During his final moments, he said, “Why not?” to his son Zachary. He uttered the phrase repeatedly, in different intonations, and died soon after. His last word, according to Zach, was “beautiful.”
Seven grams of Leary’s ashes were arranged  to be buried in space aboard a rocket carrying the remains of 24 others including Gene Roddenberry (creator of Star Trek), Gerard O’Neill (space physicist), and Krafft Ehricke (rocket scientist). A Pegasus rocket containing their remains was launched on April 21, 1997, and remained in orbit for six years until it burned up in the atmosphere.

 

 

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Almanac – May 23

1701 – Captain William Kidd hanged for piracy, at Execution Dock, Wapping, in London. During the execution, the hangman’s rope broke and Kidd was hanged on the second attempt. His body was gibbeted over the River Thames at Tilbury Point as a warning to  would-be pirates.

Some modern historians deem his piratical reputation unjust, as there is evidence that Kidd acted only as a privateer. Kidd’s fame springs largely from the sensational circumstances of his questioning before the English Parliament and the ensuing trial.

 His actual depredations on the high seas, whether piratical or not, were both less destructive and less lucrative than those of many other contemporary pirates and privateers

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1934 – American bank robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were ambushed by police and killed in Black Lake, Louisiana.

Even during their lifetimes, the couple’s depiction in the press was at considerable odds with the hardscrabble reality of their life on the road—particularly in the case of Parker.

Though she was present at a hundred or more felonies during her two years as Barrow’s companion, she was not the machine gun-wielding cartoon killer portrayed in the newspapers, newsreels, and pulp detective magazines of the day. Gang member W. D. Jones was unsure whether he had ever seen her fire at officers.

 Parker’s reputation as a cigar-smoking gun moll grew out of a playful snapshot found by police at an abandoned hideout, released to the press, and published nationwide; while she did chain-smoke Camel cigarettes, she was not a cigar smoker.

Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were wild and young, and supposedly slept together. Without Bonnie, the media outside Texas might have dismissed Clyde as a gun-toting punk, if it ever considered him at all. With her sassy photographs, Bonnie supplied the sex-appeal, the oomph, that allowed the two of them to transcend the small-scale thefts and needless killings that actually comprised their criminal careers.

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1943 – General Johnson born. American soul  songwriter and record producer, and frontman of Chairmen Of The Board.

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Almanac – May 21

1471 – Albrecht Dürer born. German painter, engraver, printmaker, mathematician, and theorist.
His high-quality woodcuts (nowadays often called Meisterstiche or “master prints”) established his reputation and influence across Europe when he was still in his twenties,  and his introduction of classaicl motifs into Northern art, through his knowledge of Italian artists and German humanists, has secured his reputation as one of the most important figures of the Northern Renaissance.

This is reinforced by his theoretical treatises, which involve principles of mathematics, perspective and ideal proportions.

 

 

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Almanac – May 08

1891 – Helena Blavatsky died.  Russian-German occultist who, along with  Henry Steel Olcott, established a research and publishing institute called the Theosophical Society.

Blavatsky defined Theosophy as “the archaic Wisdom-Religion, the esoteric doctrine once known in every ancient country having claims to civilization.” 

One of the main purposes of the Theosophical Society was “to form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or color”. Blavatsky saw herself as a missionary of this ancient knowledge.

Blavatsky’s extensive research into the many different spiritual traditions of the world led to the publication of what is now considered her magnum opus, The Secret Doctrine, which collates and organizes the essence of these teachings into a comprehensive synthesis. Her other works include Isis Unveiled, The Key to Theosophy and The Voice of the Silence.

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1911 – Robert Johnson born. American blues singer and musician.  His landmark recordings from 1936–37 display a combination of singing, guitar skills, and songwriting talent that has influenced later generations of musicians.

His shadowy, poorly documented life and death at age 27 have given rise to much legend, including the Faustian myth that he sold his soul at a crossroads to achieve success.

As an itinerant performer who played mostly on street corners, in juke joints, and at Saturday night dances, he had little commercial success or public recognition in his lifetime.

Johnson’s records sold poorly during his lifetime, it  was only after the reissue of his recordings in 1961 on the LP King of the Delta Blues Singers that his work reached a wider audience.

Johnson is now recognized as a master of the blues, particularly of the Mississippi Delta blues style, and  is credited by many rock musicians as an important influence; Eric Clapton has called Johnson “the most important blues singer that ever lived.”

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1920 – Tom of Finland born.  Finnish artist notable for his stylized androerotic and fetish art and his influence on late twentieth century gay culture.

 He has been called the “most influential creator of gay pornographic images” by cultural historian Joseph W. Slade.

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Almanac – May 03

1469 – Niccolò Machiavelli born.  Italian historian, politician, diplomat, philosopher, humanist and writer based in Florence during the Renaissance. He was for many years an official in the Florentine Republic, with responsibilities in diplomatic and military affairs.

He was a founder of modern political science, and more specifically political ethics. He also wrote comedies, carnival songs, and poetry. His personal correspondence is renowned in the Italian language.

He was Secretary to the Second Chancery of the Republic of Florence from 1498 to 1512, when the Medici were out of power.

He wrote his masterpiece, The Prince, after the Medici had recovered power and he no longer held a position of responsibility in Florence.

His moral and ethical beliefs led to the creation of the word machiavellianism which has since been used to describe one of the three dark triad personalities in psychology.

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1932 – Charles Fort died. American writer and researcher into anomalous phenomena.

Today, the terms Fortean and Forteana are used to characterize various such phenomena. Fort’s books sold well and are still in print today.

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1940 – Conny Plank born.  German record producer and musician.  

His creativity as a sound engineer and producer helped to shape many innovative recordings of postwar European popular music, covering a wide range of genres including progressive, avant-garde, electronic music and krautrock. His immense catalog of work has greatly influenced modern studio production and engineering techniques.

As a musician, Plank is credited on albums by Guru Guru, Kraan, Cluster, Liliental and Os Mundi.

He collaborated with Dieter Moebius on five Moebius & Plank studio albums recorded between 1979 and 1986. The Moebius & Plank sound foreshadowed techno and electronica and influenced many later musicians.

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1963 – The police force in Birmingham, Alabama switched tactics and responded with violent force to stop the “Birmingham campaign” protesters. Images of the violent suppression are transmitted worldwide, bringing new-found attention to the African-American Civil Rights Movement.

The Birmingham campaign was a movement organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to bring attention to the unequal treatment that black Americans endured in Birmingham.

Led by Martin Luther King, Jr. and others, the spring 1963 campaign of nonviolent direct actions culminated in widely publicized confrontations between black youth and white civic authorities, and eventually led the municipal government to change the city’s discrimination laws.

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Almanac – May 01

MAY DAY

1776 – Establishment of the Illuminati in Ingolstadt, Upper Bavaria, by Adam Weishaupt, as  an Enlightenment-era secret society opposed to superstition, prejudice, religious influence over public life, abuses of state power, and in favour of  women’s education and gender equality.

The Illuminati were outlawed along with other secret societies by the Bavarian government leadership with the encouragement of the Roman Catholic Church, and permanently disbanded in 1785.

In the several years following, the group was vilified by conservative and religious critics who claimed they had regrouped and were responsible for the French Revolution.

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1999 – The body of British climber George Mallory was found on Mount Everest, 75 years after his disappearance in 1924.

During the 1924 British Mount Everest Expedition, Mallory and his climbing partner Andrew “Sandy” Irvine both disappeared somewhere high on the North-East ridge during their attempt to make the first ascent of the world’s highest mountain. The pair’s last known sighting was only about 800 vertical feet from the summit.

Whether Mallory and Irvine reached the summit before they died remains a subject of speculation and continuing research. Irvine’s body has not yet been found, nor his camera, which could contain photographic evidence that the pair were the first to reach the summit of Everest.

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