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Needs More Research

@needsmoreresearch / needsmoreresearch.tumblr.com

Formerly lots of French Revolution content!  I'm out of energy for posting much but if that's what you're looking for, check the tags for Marat, Desmoulins, etc.  (If you're here because I followed your Untamed account, my Untamed account is @inappropriatewenning) Bits of Les Misérables, natural history, art, odds and ends. Occasional succulents. Kids. Spinning, weaving, felting, polymer clay. Stuff. Please shoot me a message if you see anything here that needs correction.

On 15 August 2021, one year ago this Monday, the city of Kabul fell to the Taliban. I’m marking this anniversary because it is an event that shattered the lives of so many people I know— people who continue to persevere in the face of fear, despair, uncertainty, and grief. 

A huge amount of journalism has been produced about the U.S.-coalition withdrawal, the fall of Kabul, the abandonment of Afghans, and the humanitarian crisis that is ongoing in Afghanistan right now. Here, I’ve gathered just a few pieces that I particularly recommend. Please consider reading these.

Alive in Afghanistan: a ProPublica initiative to continue covering stories from Afghanistan. 

Zan Times: A woman-led human rights-focused news site covering life in Afghanistan under the Taliban.

***

I don’t want to participate in the portrayal of Afghanistan, and Afghans, as exclusively a nation and people of suffering. Some of the funniest people I have known in my life are Afghan. The Afghan students I know have continued posting on Facebook and TikTok even as their nation fell and they became refugees. They write poems. They read poems. They make memes. We should care about Afghanistan not because it is so extraordinarily indigent or abject in some sense, but because it is not: because there is so much to it that is lost through the act of not-caring.

aw man if today was one of my work days i would have seen them doing Gilded Age filming next door

Imagine, if you will, a hot New England summer in the year 1702. It’s August in Massachusetts, and the humidity is oppressive. You’re a subsistence farmer in the small agricultural town of Wenham, on the post road between Newbury and Boston. It’s time to harvest the flax, and the sun is blazing down on your field, blazing down on you. It’s far too hot today to take on work this hard, but it must be done. From flax comes linen, a valuable textile.

As you begin to pull the flax under the unyielding heat of the sun you think, “No one’s around. What if I just shimmy out of these clothes? Who is to see? Who is to care?” 

And so you do. You are alone.

Time grinds by, the sun grows higher, you bend low, you pull flax. You sweat, your naked limbs ache, you bend low, you pull flax. Your muscles burn, your hands bleed, you bend low, you pull flax. 

After a good while you pause in your labors, stretch up to your full height to relieve the unbearable strain on your back and directly in front of you, you see:

You start, and he stares at you, agog, from atop his horse. 

It all takes a moment to register, and perhaps you’re a bit dazzled by the sun, but then the sickening drop in your stomach confirms that you know this man. It is Judge Samuel Sewall of Salem, of witchcraft trials fame. He is a frequent guest of your pastor in Wenham, Reverend Gerrish. And his face is quickly turning a garish, arterial shade of crimson.

You look down. You are utterly naked, covered in flax stalks and dirt. You feel an errant bead of sweat travel slowly down your shirtless chest and lodge in the muddy cup of your uncovered navel.

“Goddamn it,” you mutter, and the flushing judge, apoplectic, opens his mouth to speak.

(At least, that’s how I imagine this entry in Judge Sewall’s diary from August 11th, 1702 came about:)

This article is part of a series being produced by ProPublica, to which several people I know have contributed various kinds of work. (ProPublica also, fwiw, published one of the definitive accounts of the disastrous 2021 evacuation— here.)

I don’t know this girl, Zaynab, but I feel like I know her. She’s so similar to so many people I know whose educations and lives were completely derailed by the US-coalition withdrawal. Like Zaynab, many of these young people had parents who found themselves completely without income post-withdrawal, and like Zaynab, many of them must now support their families through any work they can find.

But it also hurts to see this girl say, like so so so many Afghan young people I know say— self-help books and inspirational memes are hugely popular with the students I know— that “if you really want to do something, you can do it,” and that hard work is the greatest virtue a person can have. I have gradually seen the disillusionment and depression that settles on people as they question why their hard work isn’t worth anything— why no one cares about it— how it can be that there is no opportunity for them at all, no matter what they do.

As we read and rejoice about the federal raid on mar-a-lago I am seeing a lot of “Hooray for Archivists!” and “Don’t fuck with archivists!” As an archivist, and one that has worked at a federal level, now would be an AMAZING time to call your representatives at demand funding for the National Archives and Records Administration.

Archivists and Records Managers work very hard and are unbelievably underfunded. Most branches of the National Archives have a backlog that would take 70+ years to process and make available to the public at current staffing levels. And they get more records in all the time.

Alessandro Pianon, Pulcini bird sculptures.  Mid-20th-century, Italian, Murano glass.

Alessandro Pianon (1931-1984) was born in Venice.  After his studies at the Architecture School, he joined Vetreria Vistosi in 1956. He was supposed to create a new logo for the family-owned enterprise.  One thing led to another, showing that Pianon had a great talent for designing glass.  He designed numerous vases, bottles and lamps for Vistosi, including an outstanding series of birds ( « Pulcini »), in 1962.

In the same year, he opened his own studio and started collaborating with many companies, including Lumenform for example.

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Scrimshaw always interests me because aside from the beautiful artists who have clearly done it for a while and have their technique down and are also potentially making pieces to sell, it’s also one of the easiest ways to see…a wealth of preserved amateur ‘drawings’ of someone who was not a Great Artist or professional scrimshander but was just a guy…Doin’ a Craft. Often with what looks like great earnestness.

I LOVE this one because it’s like ‘I’m gonna stipple like I’ve seen other people do!’ and then two rows in he’s just like ‘fuck it’. Relatable. That’s the enduring stippling mood.

it is Time

Time to introduce the kids to Star Trek IV: the One with the Whales

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Today is International Owl Awareness Day. Here's "Two Owls", a 1921 print by Dutch artist Julie de Graag.

Buy as a print here: https://buff.ly/3fw9A8u

And more on the good work of owl conservation here: https://buff.ly/2DDdMWE

Songs of naval impressment.

Cover is a caricature by Thomas Rowlandson in the RMG NMM collections.

  • On Board a 98- David Coffin
  • The Pretty Ploughboy- Dave Fletcher & Bill Whaley
  • Sunderland Press Gang- Richard Grainger
  • The Press Gang- Dave & Toni Arthur
  • Carried Off to Sea- Joe Stead
  • Press Gang- The Albion Band
  • Weary Cutters- Steeleye Span
  • The Press Gang- Holdstock & MacLeod
  • The Pressers- Stravaig
  • All Things Are Quite Silent- Lou Killen
  • The ‘Nightingale’- Frankie Armstrong
  • The Press-Gang Sailor- Vic Shepherd & John Bowden
  • The Spithead Sailor- Roy Harris
  • Here’s the Tender Coming- The Unthanks
  • Captain Bover/ Here’s the Tender Coming/ Success to the Fleet- The High Level Ranters

15 tracks; 54 mins. [Spotify]