Monday, December 30, 2013


A modest, unassuming little veh-i-cule. More information here.

How the West Was Won (1962)

More information here.


More information here.

Pioneers, O Pioneers

Nebuchadnezzar the King of the Jews
Suffered from new and original views,
He crawled on his hands and knees, it's said,
With grass in his mouth and a crown on his head.
     With a wowtyiddly, etc.

Those in traditional paths that trod
Thought the thing was a curse from God,
But a Pioneer men always abuse
Like Nebuchadnezzar the King of the Jews.

Black Lord Foulon the Frenchman slew
Thought it a Futurist thing to do.
He offered them grass instead of bread.
So they stuffed him with grass when they cut off his head.
     With a wowtyiddly, etc.

For the pride of his soul he perished then -
But of course it is always of Pride that men,
A Man in advance of his Age accuse,
Like Nebuchadnezzar the King of the Jews.

Simeon Scudder of Styx, in Maine,
Thought of the thing and was at it again.
He gave good grass and water in pails
To a thousand Irishmen hammering rails.
     With a wowtyiddly, etc.

Appetites differ; and tied to a stake
He was tarred and feathered for Conscience' Sake.
But stoning the prophets is ancient news,
Like Nebuchadnezzar the King of the Jews.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Makhlouf Eldaoudi (1825-1909)

More information here.

Persian Handstands

Go to this page. You won't regret it.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Selman Waksman (1888-1973)

More information here.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Anita Berber (1899-1928)

More information here.


More information here.

Mounira El Mahdeya (1885-1965)

More information here.

Umm Kulthum (?1898-1975)

More information here.

Iosif Kornilovich Orurk (1772-1849)

More information here.

Andrea Dworkin (1946-2005)

More information here.

Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis (95-46 BC)

More information here.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Wilhelm Wassmuss (1880-1931)

More information here.


More information (pay especial attention to the etymology, which rocks) here.

You want nightmares?

Georg Luger (1849-1923)

More information here.

Ippolit Monighetti (1819-1878)

More information here.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Niko Nikoladze (1843-1928)

More information here.

Mohammad Khan Qajar (1742-1797)

An eunuch who was to be assassinated, no wonder he looks so worried. More information here.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904)

More information here.


More information here.


More information here.

Dar al-Funun

More information here.

Ali Asghar Khan Atabak (c.1858-1907)

A little more information here.

Mirza Reza Kermani (c.1850-1896)

More information here. He's the man on the left in the photo.

Shah Abdol Azim Shrine

More information here.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Ármin Vámbéry (1832-1913)

More information here, but the only thing you really need to know is that he is considered by some to be the model for Abraham Van Helsing in Dracula (1897).

Golestan Palace

More information here.


More information here.

Siméon-Eugène Thivier (1845-1920)

Le Cauchemar (1894). More information (not much more, but enough to make me want to go to Toulouse one day) here.

Lucie Delarue-Mardrus (1874-1945)

More information here.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Mehdi Bazargan (1908-1995)

More information here. In the picture, he is on the right.

Shapour Bakhtiar (1914-1991)

More information here. In the picture, he is on the left.

Rambler Marlin

Ah, the romance of the open road… More information here.

Samad va Fulad Zereh div (dir. Jalal Moghadam, 1971)

More information here, and the whole film, I think, here.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi (1919-1980)

More information here.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Bruisyard Hall

Mohammad Ali Shah Qajar (1872-1925)

More information here.

Naser al-Din Shah Qajar (1831-1896)

More information here.

Monday, December 02, 2013

On the Goodness of the Supreme Being

Orpheus, for so the Gentiles call'd thy name,
Israel's sweet Psalmist, who alone couldst wake
Th'inanimate to motion; who alone
The joyful hillocks, the applauding rocks,
And floods with musical persuasion drew;
Thou who to hail and snow gav'st voice and sound,
And mad'st the mute melodious! — greater yet
Was thy divinest skill, and rul'd o'er more
Than art or nature; for thy tuneful touch
Drove trembling Satan from the heart of Saul,
And quell'd the evil Angel: — in this breast
Some portion of thy genuine spirit breathe,
And lift me from myself, each thought impure
Banish; each low idea raise, refine,
Enlarge, and sanctify; — so shall the muse
Above the stars aspire, and aim to praise
Her God on earth, as he is prais'd in heaven. […]

For the rest, see here.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

I saw the world...

I saw the world a great orchestra filled with angels whose instruments were of gold. And I saw the organ on the top of the axis round which all should turn, but nothing turned and nothing moved and the angels stirred not and all was as still as a stone, and I was myself also, like the rest, as still as a stone.
Then I saw some huge, cloud-like forms nearing, and behold! it was the Lord bringing two of his children by the hand.
"O Papa!" said one, "isn't it pretty?"
"Yes, my dear," said the Lord, "and if you drop a penny into the box the figures will work."
Then I saw that what I had taken for the keyboard of the organ was no keyboard but only a slit, and one of the little Lords dropped a plaque of metal into it. And then the angels played and the world turned round and the people began killing one another and the two little Lords clapped their hands and were delighted.


Honesty consists not in never stealing but in knowing where to stop in stealing, and how to make good use of what one does steal. It is only great proprietors who can steal well and wisely. A good stealer, a good user of what he takes, is ipso facto a good inventor. Two men can invent after a fashion to one who knows how to make the best use of what has been done already.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Current Favourite Sentence

This article was amended on 16 October 2013 to correct the date for the invention of the cotton gin and remove a reference to Andy Warhol.

Monday, September 30, 2013

September is Etymology Month (30)

ПОДКУЗЬМИТЬ [podkuz'mit'] 'to do someone a bad turn'. From the festival of Sts. Kuz'ma and Dem'jan (17th October, OS), at which deals were concluded and accounts settled between employer and employee, originally 'to dispel hopes connected with St. Kuz'ma's Day'. Cf. объегорить 'to cheat', originally referring to the practice of reneging on similar deals struck before St. George's Day (Егор(ий) from Георгий, patron saint of agriculture), 26 November NS.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

September is Etymology Month (29)

КОСМОНАВТ [kosmonávt] 'spaceman'. based on Gk. kósmos 'space', naútes 'sailor', widely known after the first manned space flight by Jurij Gagarin on 12 April 1961 (космонавтика 'outer space exploration' is recorded in dictionaries from 1958). Cf. астронавт 'astronaut', used mainly of US spacemen, and occasionally астрокосмонавты, used in 1975 during the joint Apollo Sojuz flight (ЭПАС - Экспериментальный полёт Аполлон-Союз 'Apollo-Sojuz Experimental Flight).

Saturday, September 28, 2013

September is Etymology Month (28)

ПЛОЩАДЬ [plóščad'] 'square'. OR 'square, street', from ChSl., based on Gk. plateia (hodós 'way' understood) 'street', lit. 'flat, broad way', alternatively from *ploskědь, cf. плоский 'flat', with -sk- palatalising to -šč- before -ě-, thus 'flat area'.

Friday, September 27, 2013

September is Etymology Month (27)

ДОСТОПРИМЕЧАТЕЛЬНЫЙ [dostoprimečátel'nyj] 'noteworthy'. A calque of Gk. axiothéatos, id. (axios 'worthy', theatós 'to be seen'). Cf. достопримечательности 'the sights', Ger. Sehenswürdigkeiten, id.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Current Favorite Sentences

Look, I grew up in a society where I could say 'I ain't' or 'what it be' to my friends. But when I'm out presenting myself to the world as me, who graduated from college, who had family who cared about me, who has a well-read background, I fucking conjugate.

September is Etymology Month (26)

ТРЕСКА [ treská] 'cod'. Early 17th century in this meaning. Possibly from 11th-century meaning 'splinter'. cf. earlier рыба-щёпка 'cod', lit. 'splinter-fish', analogous to Ger. Stockfisch 'cod', lit. 'stick-fish'. Perhaps from the fish's tendency to shred into fibres, like wood, during the drying process (cf. трескаться 'to crack'). Alternatively, cognate with Ger. Dorsch 'cod' (cf. Dan. Torsk, id.), from dürr 'dry, dried out' (Dorsch is properly Dörrfisch from dörren 'to dry, bake'), thus lit. 'dried smoked fish'. Cf. IE *ters- 'to rub, dry'.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

September is Etymology Month (25)

ТИСКИ [tiskí] 'vice' (tech.). 16th century, cf. тискать 'to squeeze', cognate with тесный 'cramped'.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

September is Etymology Month (24)

ЧЕПУХА [čepuchá] 'nonsense'. Mid-18th century 'splinter' (cf. analogous вздор 'nonsense' originally 'litter', cognate with драть 'to tear'). Alternatively, a blend of щепа 'splinter' and чуха (obs. reg.) 'nonsense'. Unlikely to be associated with тщетный 'futile'.

Monday, September 23, 2013

September is Etymology Month (23)

ВОСТОК [vostók] 'east'. 11th century, from ChSl., calqued from Gk. anatole 'rising, especially of the sun or moon' (cf. Gk. anatéllo 'i rise up'), thus the place where the sun rises (вос-/ana- 'upward' + ток, cognate with течь 'to flow', CSl *tekti 'flow, run') cf. Lat. oriens 'rising sun, east'.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

September is Etymology Month (22)

НОСОРОГ [nosoróg] 'rhinoceros'. A calque of Gk. rinókeros, id. (rís, gen. rinós 'nose', kéras 'horn') cf. Ger. Nashorn, id., lit. 'nose-horn', also calqued from Gk.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

September is Etymology Month (21)

ПОЛОТНО [polotnó] 'linen'. OR 'linen fabric, web', from CSl. *poltъno, with inter-consonantal -оло- in ESl. Cognate with Skr. patah 'piece of cloth', cf. dim. derivative полотенце 'towel'.

Friday, September 20, 2013

September is Etymology Month (20)

ПОНЧИК [pónčik] 'doughnut'. Early 20th century, from Pol. 15th-century pączek 'pancake, doughnut', lit. 'small bud', cf. Pol. pąk 'bud'.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

September is Etymology Month (19)

АКУЛА [akúla] 'shark'. Recorded in dictionaries (originally with -kk-) since 1789, but known earlier, probably from Sc. languages, cf. OSc. hakarl (with -a in R. perhaps by analogy with рыба 'fish') alternately from a Norw. dial. source, cf. also Farøese hakallur 'basking shark', hákelling 'Greenland shark', Icel. hakka 'to eat like a beast'.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

September is Etymology Month (18)

ЯЩИК [jáščik] 'box, drawer'. 14th-/15th centuries аскъ, then яскъ 'basket', possibly of Gmc. origin, cf. OIcel. askr 'ash-tree, wooden vessel' (the ash was much prized in wood carving), cf. OHG asc 'dish', earlier 'boat', probably of ash-wood.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

September is Etymology Month (17)

КОПЬЕ [kop'ë] 'spear'. 10th century (also 'man with spear', cf. Eng. gun 'member of shooting party'), from CSl. *kopьje, cognate with *kopati 'to strike', thus 'what you strike with', Cf. Gk. kopis 'cleaver'.

Monday, September 16, 2013

September is Etymology Month (16)

ХАЛАТ [chalát] 'dressing-gown, oriental robe'. 17th century at the latest, via Tkc. (Radlov designates khyl'at as Turk.), from Ar. khil'at 'robe of honour'. (In some Asiatic societies such garments wer presented by high-ranking dignitaries, as a mark of favour.) Derivatives include халатный 'negligent'.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

September is Etymology Month (15)

РЫБА [ryba] 'fish'. 11th century, from CSl. *ryba, possibly cognate with late MHG rup(p)e 'caterpillar, grub' (Ger. Raupe, id., cf. also Ger. Aalraupe 'eel-pout, burbot'). A taboo for earlier *zъvь (cf. Lith žuvis 'fish'), a word said to have been avoided by fishermen because of its similarity to звать 'to call' (to 'call' the fish would be unlucky, cf. невод 'sweep-net', lit. 'non-net'). A connection has also been proposed with рябой 'pock-marked', thus initially 'speckled fish' (e.g., a salmon).

Saturday, September 14, 2013

September is Etymology Month (14)

ЖАР [žar] 'heat'. 12th century жаръ 'fire, intense heat', from CSl. *gerъ/*žarъ. Cognate with гореть 'to burn', греть 'to heat', горячий 'hot', жаркий 'hot' (of climate), Gk. thermos 'hot'.

Friday, September 13, 2013

September is Etymology Month (13)

МАТЬ [mat'] 'mother'. 11th century, from CSl. *mati, gen. *matere, IE *mate/*mater-, id., based on onomatopoeic *ma, cf. Skr. matri, id., Gk. meter, id., Lat. mater, id. Loss of -r- is characteristic of Balto-Slav., cf. Lith. motina, id., Latv. mate, id. Cognates include мачеха 'step-mother' (with pejorative suffix -еха, cf. дурёха 'stupid woman').

Thursday, September 12, 2013

September is Etymology Month (12)

СКРИПКА [skrípka] 'violin'. Onomatopoeic, from скрипеть 'to creak', cf. скрипач 'viloinist'.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September is Etymology Month (11)

КАНИКУЛЫ [kaníkuly] 'holidays'. Late 18th century loan, possibly via Pol. kanikuła (also psianka, from pies 'dog') 'dog star, Cirius', from Lat. Canicula (dim. of canis 'dog') 'dog-star', also known as Canis or Sirius, regarded by the Romans as Orion's hunting dog, the most important star in the 20-star constellation Canis Major (lit. Great Dog, созвездие (Большого) Пса). In the Roman calendar the Sun was in the constellation Canis, and Sirius was in the ascendant, between 22 July and 23 August, the hottest period of the year, when all activities would be suspended. Каникулы appears in R. in 18th-/early 19th centuries as 'school, academic holidays' (lit. 'days of the constellation Canis'). Cf. English dog days, the hottest period of the year ('reckoned in antiquity from the helical rising of the dog-star'), Lat. dies caniculares, id., Fr. jours (also chaleurs) caniculaires, Ger. Hundestage, Pol. dni kanikularne or psie dni 'dog days'. In R. horoscopes the period 22 July to 23 August is associated with the constellation Leo (Лев), the ruby stone, the colour red, the symbol fire, and the Sun.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

September is Etymology Month (10)

ЗАЯДЛЫЙ [zajádlyj] 'inveterate'. From Pol. zajadły 'furious'. based on Pol. zajadać 'to eat heartily' (cf. еда 'food').

Monday, September 09, 2013

September is Etymology Month (9)

ЯМА [jáma] 'hole' 11th century, from CSl. *jama (IE*ioma 'cave'), perhaps cognate with Gk. áme 'spade' (also 'bucket', whence Latin hama, id.) Perhaps lit. 'what is dug with a spade'.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

September is Etymology Month (8)

ЦЕРКОВЬ [cérkov'] 'church'. In origin the acc. case (цьркъвь) of 11th-century цьркы, probably from late Gk. kurikón 'God's house', from earlier (4th century AD) adj. kuriakón 'the Lord's', which was substantivised as 'communion' (from kuriakón deipnon, id., lit. 'the Lord's meal') then 'church' (ellipsis for to (doma) kuriakón 'House of the Lord'). Ultimately from Gk. kúrios 'lord' (Kúrios 'Christ'), with k- changing to ц- (for k- to ч- by first palatalisation of velars, cf. Bulg. черква, alongside църква 'church'). Possibly via. Goth. *kirikô, id. or OHG kiricha, id. (cf. Ger. Kirche, id.). Cf. also cognate куролесить 'to play tricks'.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

September is Etymology Month (7)

МАМОНТ [mámont] 'mammoth'. 17th century (for some time in the 19th century also мамут, cf. Pol./Cz. mamut, id.), possibly from a Jakut or Tungus word meaning 'living in the ground' (the mammoth was thought to be a burrowing animal, cf. Tatar mama 'earth' and early accounts of a 'sea elephant' that lived underground). Alternatively, from the Gr. mammoúth, with phonetic shape affected, perhaps, by the OR name Мамонтъ, cf. absence of -n- in Eng., and in Fr. mammouth, id., Ger. Mammut, id., explained, perhaps, by a misreading of -on- as -ou-, or by derivation from an earlier form. Finally, the name could have been transferred from some other exotic animal, based on the мамоны (nocturnal predators said to live in hills or rocks) described in travellers' tales from India, perhaps wild cats or lynxes, or, perhaps most logically in view of the burrowing legends, mole-like creatures (cf., however, OR мамоны 'monkeys').

Friday, September 06, 2013

La Castiglione (1837-1899)

More information here.

September is Etymology Month (6)

РОМАШКА [romaška] 'camomile'. 1st half of 18th century, lit. 'Roman flower', based on Anthemis romana, Chamaemelum romanum (late Lat. c(h)amomilla) from Gk. chamaímelon, lit. 'earth apple' (chamaí 'on the ground', melon 'apple, any tree fruit' - from the apple-like scent of the plant). For -шка, cf.  роман (also романова трава), found in pre-18th century herbaria, and ромашка 'camomile' and analogous Иван 'Ivan', dim. Ивашка. Seemingly directly via Pol. rumianek 'camomile' (from the pink tinge of the petals, cf. Pol. rumiany 'ruddy'), rather than from Fr. camomille romaine (Anthemis nobilis), a plant whose leaves and flowerheads are used for medicinal purposes.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

September is Etymology Month (5)

СТЕРЕЧЬ [steréč] 'to guard'. 11th century, from CSl. *stergti, id., with ESl. inter-consonantal -ере-, and -ч- by first palatalization of velars. Said to result from a contamination of the roots of Gk. stérgo 'I love', stégo 'I cover closely, fend off' and Lith. sergèti 'to guard'. Cf. сторож 'watchman' (IE *storg-, id.) and (with ChSl. -ра-) стража 'guard, watch'.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

September is Etymology Month (4)

ХЛОПАТЬ [chlópat'] 'to slam'. From onomatopoeic хлоп! (for -от, cf.  грохот 'rumble') whence also хлопоты 'trouble' (OR хлопоть 'noise'). Cognates include клепать 'to rivet' and шлёпатъ 'to smack'.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

September is Etymology Month (3)

ПРОТИВОЯДИЕ [protivojádije] 'antidote'. A calque of Ger. Gegengift, id. or Fr. contrepoison, id., both based on Lat. antidotum, 'remedy against poison', Gk. antídoton 'antidote' (antí 'against', dotéos 'to be given').

Monday, September 02, 2013

September is Etymology Month (2)

СКРОМНЫЙ [skrómnyj] 'modest'. 17th century, from Pol. skromny, id., probably based on Pol. kroma 'edge, border', thus properly 'limited, confined'. Cognate with кремль 'Kremlin', кромка 'edge', кроме 'apart from'.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

September is Etymology Month (1)

БОБР [bobr] 'beaver' (cf. бобёр 'beaver fur') From CSl. *bobrъ/*bebrъ, IE *bhebros 'red-brown, beaver' (cf. Lith. bebras 'beaver'), the animal thus being named for the colour of its fur.

[All etymologies this month taken from Terence Wade's useful Russian Etymological Dictionary (London, Bristol Classical Press 1996)]

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Current Favourite Mental Collapse

'The previous year, Carlota had returned to Europe to plead for support for her husband's failing regime. Napoleon III was unwilling to back up his Mexican ambitions with the necessary military force, so Carlota went to Rome to beg for help from the Pope. On the way she began behaving strangely. Modern psychiatry would doubtless have a more precise diagnosis, but the language of her day seems more appropriate. Carlota went mad. She became convinced that an organ grinder on the street was a Mexican colonel in disguise, and that spies of every sort were trying to poison her. As a precaution she ate only oranges and nuts, checking the peels and the shells for signs of tampering. She made her coachman stop at Rome's Trevi fountain so that she could fill a crystal pitcher with water certain not to be poisoned. In her hotel suite she kept a small charcoal stove and, tied to table legs, several chickens, to be slaughtered and cooked only in her sight. With her obedient staff in despair, her rooms slowly filled with feathers and chicken droppings.

Flushed and weeping, Carlota burst in on the Pope one morning as he was finishing breakfast, dipped her fingers in his hot chocolate, and licked them hungrily, crying, "This at least is not poisoned. Everything they give me is drugged, and I am starving, literally starving!" A cardinal and the commander of the Papal Guards manoeuvred her out of the room, whereupon Carlota gave the guards' commander a list of her staff members who should be arrested for treachery.'

Adam Hochschild, King Leopold's Ghost (1999)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Thomas Struth (1954- )

More information here.

Current Favourite Sentence

It was like a welling, congested, sentimental weepiness without an object, as emotions triggered by images of, say, a depressed-looking girl smoking in bed and some unspecific tragedy in a crowded street sought cathartic resolution in vain.

David Salle (1952- )

More information here.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Current Favourite Sentences

"He was nice, sympathetic and talented at fighting in plate armour," Sahlin told Associated Press. "A little bit reserved maybe."

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Alfonso Ponce de León (1906-1936)

Autoretrato (Accidente) (1936). More information here.

Àngels Santos Toroella (1911- )

Un mundo (1929). More information here.

Rosario de Velasco Belausteguigoitia (1904-1991)

Adán y Eva (1932). More information (in Catalan) here.

"Manolo" (Manuel Martínez Hugué, 1872-1945)

Retrato de Tití. More information here.

Santiago Rusiñol (1861-1931)

Jardín de las elegías (c. 1903)

More information here.

Ignacio Zuloaga y Zabaleta (1870-1945)

More information here.

Hermenegildo Anglada Camarasa (1871-1959)

La gata rosa (1908)

More information here.