Clog dancing

There was a fascinating exhibition at Compton Verney this summer all about ingenious automata and different mechanical models. There’s a good review – with links – here.

Lots of fun but, underneath, there was also a strand which explored our relationship with the machines we make. C and I were riveted by a video of clog dancing – steps learned from an elderly mill worker – demonstrating the dances that developed in counterpoint to the machines the women worked amongst. Here’s the video now. There are some introductory scenes (which are worth watching) but if its the dancing you’ve come for start at two minutes in.

Clog dancing

Brother Gorilla

I came across this on twitter today (posted by @SirWilliamD) and thought it the most moving (and uncomfortable) photograph I had seen in a long time. The caption was:

A poignant image of Guy the Gorilla in captivity at London Zoo c.1958 by Wolf Suschitzky. Taken by poking the camera through the bars. Wolf said he thought that this was his best photo.

Brother Gorilla

Analemma

Happy Autumn equinox…

Explanation: Does the Sun return to the same spot on the sky every day at the same time? No. A more visual answer to that question is an analemma, a composite image taken from the same spot at the same time over the course of a year. The featured analemma was composed from images taken every few days at 4 pm near the village of Callanish in the Outer Hebrides in Scotland, UK. In the foreground are the Callanish Stones, a stone circle built around 2700 BC during humanity’s Bronze Age. It is not known if the placement of the Callanish Stones has or had astronomical significance. The ultimate causes for the figure-8 shape of this an all analemmas are the tilt of the Earth axis and the ellipticity of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. At the solstices, the Sun will appear at the top or bottom of an analemma. Equinoxes, however, correspond to analemma middle points — not the intersection point. Today at 1:54 am (UT) is the equinox (“equal night”), when day and night are equal over all of planet Earth. Many cultures celebrate a change of season at an equinox.

Photographs like this everyday at this NASA site

Analemma

Bear Hunting

Three tweets, seen over the last two days that seem to me to demonstrate our (and the EU’s) predicament over Brexit.

fig.1

eu states

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Trading needs rules. Trust is regulated not a given. New agreements should not disrupt existing agreements to the detriment of the majority of participants.

fig. 2

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Based on existing EU rules the UK’s ‘red lines’ determine the nature of the agreement. What we describe is Korea or Canada. What we ask for is to be friends with benefits beyond what is normally permissible.

If you were the EU would you trust us?

But the UK is important to the EU and the failure to find some accommodation with us will have an impact beyond trade. Hence:

fig. 3

het

There are real risks on both sides and a real question about the capacity of either to deal effectively with the issue of Brexit. The EU cannot step outside of its rules even to become a more effective actor on the world stage.

My own view – for what it’s worth – is that from the UK’s perspective there is no way back from the referendum. I don’t believe a second would achieve anything other that confirm the deep divisions in our society . We have to go through with this – which is why it’s a bear hunt – because as we all know that, when you are hunting bears, whatever obstacle you face:

‘You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you have to go through it.’

 

Bear Hunting

Absences

There’s a huge wind blowing outside. The sound of it in the trees is one of the reasons I love this house. Buffets are gentled as the tree sways, its branches thrash and the energy is absorbed. You hear the same dissipation of sound and force when a wave breaks on a pebbled beach.

It’s Autumn.

I found myself thinking of the last line of Larkin’s poem, Absences:

Such attics cleared of me! Such absences!

Here’s the whole poem:

Rain patters on a sea that tilts and sighs.
Fast-running floors, collapsing into hollows,
Tower suddenly, spray-haired. Contrariwise,
A wave drops like a wall: another follows,
Wilting and scrambling, tirelessly at play
Where there are no ships and no shallows.
Above the sea, the yet more shoreless day,
Riddled by wind, trails lit-up galleries:
They shift to giant ribbing, sift away.
Such attics cleared of me! Such absences!
Listen to the trees!

 

 

Absences