Encore: Powers of Ten – Charles and Ray Eames’ brilliant, before-its-time film

October 10, 2018

Images from

Images from “Powers of Ten,” 1977 edition. From IconEye

Back on October 10, 2010, we celebrated “Powers of Ten Day: 10/10/10.”

We’ve only got two tens in the date today, but the work of Charles and Ray Eames deserves remembering at least every October 10.

It’s a classic film, wonderful in its earliest versions in the 1970s, long before CGI. In 2018, I think it stands up very well.

Earlier I wrote:

AMNH’s “The Known Universe” is a cool film. Putting up that last post on the film, I looked back and noted that when I had previously written about the brilliant predecessor films from Charles and Ray Eames, “Powers of Ten,” the Eames films were not freely available on line.

That’s been fixed.

I like to use films like this as warmups to a year of history, and as a reminder once we get into studying the history of space exploration, of just how far we’ve come in understanding the universe, and how big this place is.

Of course, that means wer are just small parts.

The Eames’s genius showed the scale of things, from a couple picnicking in a park, to the outer reaches of the universe, and then back, zooming into the innermost reaches of a human down to the sub-atomic level.

There’s a series of these films; this one, published on YouTube by the Eames Office, was done in 1977, one of the later versions.

How can you use this in class, teachers? (I recommend buying it on DVD, as I did; better sound and pictures, generally.)

Film information:

Uploaded on Aug 26, 2010

Powers of Ten takes us on an adventure in magnitudes. Starting at a picnic by the lakeside in Chicago, this famous film transports us to the outer edges of the universe. Every ten seconds we view the starting point from ten times farther out until our own galaxy is visible only a s a speck of light among many others. Returning to Earth with breathtaking speed, we move inward- into the hand of the sleeping picnicker- with ten times more magnification every ten seconds. Our journey ends inside a proton of a carbon atom within a DNA molecule in a white blood cell. POWERS OF TEN © 1977 EAMES OFFICE LLC (Available at http://www.eamesoffice.com)

At the Eames Office Youtube site, you may find the film in with Mandarin Chinese, German, and Japanese translations (no Spanish?).  If you’re unfamiliar with the work of this couple — you would recognize much of the stuff they designed, I’m sure — check out a short film on an exhibit on Ray Eames (which has concluded, sadly):

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The very recognizable, famous Eames Chair, from Herman Miller. Ideally, you can sit in your Eames Chair while watching

The very recognizable, famous Eames Chair and Ottoman, from Herman Miller. Ideally, you can sit in your Eames Chair while watching “Powers of Ten.” Herman Miller image.

This is an encore post.

Yes, this is an encore post. Defeating ignorance takes patience and perseverance.

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Europe, mapped by famous art works

September 26, 2018

This is stunning, politically hot, and frustrating in that I cannot immediately identify the artworks (I think one is a sculpture photograph), let alone the artists.

But still cool.

Who made it? Where is the legend to identify the art?

From Simon Kuestenmacher (on Twitter: @simongerman600):

From Simon Kuestenmacher (on Twitter: @simongerman600): “Map of Europe with each country represented by one of it’s most recognizable pieces of art. How many can you name? Source: https://buff.ly/2eKIYUV”

Mr. Kuestenmacher found the map on Reddit. Ripred42, who posted it on Reddit, didn’t offer any other details as to who made the map or what the art works are; several comments identify several of the works. I have not yet found a better legend.

This map might make a good exercise for AP Geography or AP Human Geography, or AP History, or IB History. There are some possibilities for good discussion. At Reddit there is a complaint that the Mona Lisa shouldn’t represent Italy, since it was sold to a foreign king and is displayed in a foreign museum. The Gustav Klimt painting shown for Austria was determined to have been stolen from its rightful owners, who took the painting and put it on display in New York City instead (the subject of the movie starring Helen Mirren, “The Woman in Gold.”)

Is Turner really the best representative for England? Can any work be determined for Cypress or Ireland? The discussion on Twitter is better than Reddit, and most informative.

Can you identify the works? I’ll list those I can figure out in comments. Please help identify others if you can.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Simon Kuestenmacher on Twitter.


Trump is most like Millard Fillmore? Perhaps in his failures . . .

July 5, 2018

One story says Queen Victoria commented that Millard Fillmore was the handsomest man she'd ever met; true or not, imposing Trump's face on Fillmore doesn't improve anything. Illustration from BBC

One story says Queen Victoria commented that Millard Fillmore was the handsomest man she’d ever met; true or not, imposing Trump’s face on Fillmore doesn’t improve anything. Illustration from BBC

Millard Fillmore was a self-educated man, an ardent reader, the founder of the White House library.

Millard Fillmore understood the strategic geography of Japan, an opened Japan up to the world.

Has Trump done anything beneficial? Logical? Based on good, accurate information?

We may have a bone to pick with BBC.

BBC’s article, by Jude Sheerin from the Washington bureau, actually is quite well done. The article compares the nativism in Fillmore’s time, to which Fillmore fell victim, with Trump’s nativism — and the comparison is troubling.

In the end, the Whigs refused to nominate Fillmore to run for his own term in 1852 (he had succeeded President Zachary Taylor on Taylor’s death, remember); Fillmore was courted by the American Party, better known to school kids as the Know-Nothings. Fillmore led the Know-Nothings to a crushing defeat in 1852 (they did get Maryland), but the Whigs never recovered either. In 1856, partly in the ashes of the Whigs, rose the Republican Party to run John C. Fremont for President.

And in 1860, the new Republican Party managed to knock a homerun, getting Abraham Lincoln elected to the presidency on the party’s second try.

“What is past is prologue,” the wall of the National Archives tells us, and Santayana warns that those who do not remember history will repeat it. What lessons can we learn from comparing Donald Trump to Millard Fillmore?

Other than the fact that Fillmore was actually quite a bit better looking, that is.


Deer in a lake, Oregon — stunning photo, a fake

April 15, 2018

From @BestEarthPix on Twitter:

It's a mule deer, in a lake. Which lake? Who was the lucky/skilled photographer? No details.

Frustratingly, the only information from @BestEarthPix is “Oregon, USA.” It’s a mule deer, in a lake. Which lake? Who was the lucky/skilled photographer? No details.

Can you supply details? The photographer should get credit, I think.

Update: This site, 500px, attributes the photo to Stijn Dijkstra. But Amazon.com/UK leads me to believe this is a sunrise at Yellowstone Lake, with a deer’s profile PhotoShopped in. See “Sunrise at Yellowstone Journal” and this photo.

From "Sunrise at Yellowstone Lake Journal," available from Amazon.com/UK

From “Sunrise at Yellowstone Lake Journal,” available from Amazon.com/UK

Further update: It’s a stock photo from Alamy, PhotoShopped.

The Flat Mountain arm of Yellowstone Lake at sunrise, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, 2016. Image courtesy Neal Herbert/Yellowstone National Park. Gado Images/Alamy Stock Photo

How disappointing, and maddening, that what looks like a great image turns out to be faked.


Best show on God’s Earth, free!

January 13, 2018

Tourists in Arches National Park, in Utah. Arches is one of five National Parks in Utah.

Tourists in Arches National Park. Arches is one of five National Parks in Utah.

Utah.com lists the days in the coming year when entry to National Parks is free. Utah.com is a promotional site for Utah, where several National Parks are big tourist draws — so they have a bias.

It’s a good bias!

Alas, only four days so far:

FREE National Park Entrance Days 2018

January 15: Martin Luther King Jr. Day

April 1: First day of National Parks Week

September 22: National Public Lands Day

November 11: Veterans Day weekend

Four free days to  split among five National Parks in Utah: Arches, Canyonlands, Zion Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Capitol Reef. National Monuments are probably included in the free admission days, so you can add Timpanogos Cave, Rainbow Bridge, Dinosaur, Promontory Point and others.

There’s a lot to see in Utah’s mountains and redrock country — and that doesn’t include the Great Salt Lake and the Salt Flats.


Typewriter of the moment: Milan Karanovic, Bosnian ethnographer

February 22, 2017

Ethnographer? It’s a person who makes a systematic study of a people and its culture, a subdivision of anthropology, sociology, history and geography all at once.

Milan Karanovic, trained as a priest, studied folk and cultural trends of Bosnians, roughly from 1900 to World War II.

And this is his typewriter:

Typewriter of Bosnian ethnographer Milan Karanovic. Typewriter on display in the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Halabi.

Typewriter of Bosnian ethnographer Milan Karanovic. Take careful note of special keys to accommodate Bosnian spellings. Typewriter on display in the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Halabi.

https://scontent-dft4-2.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/16831126_10154115871286786_8680636113852292827_n.jpg?oh=56fb52bcbacf7ec0d79d86e77627b1cf&oe=593C8490

Photo of Milan Karanovich, National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Zivot i rad” translates to “life and work.” Image by Jonathan Halabi.

Milan Karanovic was born in 1883 in Great Novljansko Rujiška. In his teens he moved to Sarajevo, graduated high school and attended seminary, graduating by 1909 and assuming duties as a parish priest (Orthodox?) in the Krajina region village of Rujnić. We know he published a study of the “village” of Sarajevo in 1907. On the wrong side of local authorities in World War I, he spent much of the war in prison. His publications resumed by 1925, and proliferated through 1937. He died in 1955.

The typewriter is an Optima Elite. I’m guessing this model was made during or after World War II; Optima used the Olympia name into World War II. After the war, Olympia factories in the zones controlled by the Soviet Union changed to Optima. Judging from photos, this machine may have been built in the 1950s, giving Karanovic only a few years to use it. I’m open to the idea that the Optima name was used earlier — this history of corporations and machines is out of my range. If you have better information, please feel free to contribute in comments.

 

 


Annals of Global Warming: Mexican plums blooming early in Dallas

February 17, 2017

Spring comes a few hours earlier every year as the planet warms; plants that used to blossom in March and April, now blossom in February. Mexican plum blossoms in Dallas, Texas, February 17, 2017. Photo by Ed Darrell, please share with attribution

Spring comes a few hours earlier every year as the planet warms; plants that used to blossom in March and April, now blossom in February. Mexican plum blossoms in Dallas, Texas, February 17, 2017. Photo by Ed Darrell, iPhone 6; please share with attribution.

Spring comes earlier every year in Dallas. Our Mexican plums used to blossom in March and April; for the past three years, we’ve had blossoms well before spring even comes. Last year we had a cold snap that took the young fruit out, after a premature blossoming.

It’s a sign of creeping global warming. Every year I marvel at Al Gore’s powers to convince our Mexican plum to blossom early, part of the “global warming conspiracy” so many fear.

That is, this is a symptom of global warming that cannot be faked, that is from observation, and not from models.

With flowers on fruit trees come hopes of a bountiful harvest. Dreading the underlying meaning of such an early blossom does not change our hopes, nor the birds’ hopes, for a good plum harvest.

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