The Codex Borgia (Codex Yoalli Ehēcatl). Mictlantecuhtli & Quetzalcoatl. 1898. 

Mictlantecuhtli (left), god of death, lord of the underworld, and Quetzalcoatl (right), god of wisdom, life, knowledge, morning star, patron of the winds and light, the lord of the West. Together they symbolize life and death in this Aztec ritual and divinatory manuscript written before the Spanish conquest of Mexico.

Has anyone seen Wes Anderson’s wikipedia profile recently? For some strange reason his profile picture is of him rather uncertainly pouring a glass of water at a press conference.

Interesting choice for whoever updated it. I genuinely laughed out loud, but that may be because it is 3am.

Dogs Playing Poker

The paintings are popular because they are funny and therefore amusing, an inherently pleasure-causing quality. Exactly why they are funny is not fully determinable, but a likely reason is that they are ridiculous, a quality closely associated with humor according to various theories of humor (incongruity theory, computational-neural theory, ontic-epistemic theory, and benign violation theory, for instance).

There is a subtle humorous quality and emotional depth to the paintings based on the following:

  • Dogs have extremely complex emotions and try to “act” cool/excited/sad/upset, which is betrayed by their inability to control certain other physical cues that “give away their hand” so to speak. For example, if a dog was playing poker and got a good hand, he’d put on “a poker face” like nothing happened, but then you’d see it salivating, ears perking or tail wagging uncontrollably.
  • Only dog owners or those with significant experience with canines can really understand canine behavior and the range and complexity of emotions they display, which gives the series a more personal connection and adds an emotional layer of depth.
  • Subtle humor also exists in the fact that dogs do not have opposable thumbs, which prevents them from actually being able to play poker.



Yesterday we participated in the White House’s #BHMEditathon as part of their celebration of Black History Month. Our panel of experts (Tina Ligon, Netisha Currie, and Alexis Hill) was part of the group at the White House—along with online participants—who expanded the stories of African Americans in  science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) using Wikipedia.

We shared some online documents from our holdings to inspire participants.

The National Archives holds records related to the Federal Government, so our STEM-related records featured patents (Michael Jackson’s anti-gravity shoe, Sarah Goode’s patent for a “cabinet-bed”) or space-related images (astronauts!) or war-related records  (Dr. Charles Drew’s letter about collecting blood).

Many of our records are already in Wikipedia Commons, but we hope the Wikipedia will dig further into the stories they are part of—but that have not been told, like this photograph of African American Seabees.

Check out the page and add the stories that inspire you!


Favourite Television Series [4/10]

Merlin is a British fantasy-adventure television programme, created by Julian Jones, Jake Michie, Julian Murphy and Johnny Capps and starring Colin Morgan in the title role. It was broadcast on BBC One from 20 September 2008 to 24 December 2012. The show is loosely based on the Arthurian legends of the young wizard Merlin and his relationship with King Arthur but differs from traditional versions. The show was influenced by the US drama series Smallville, about the early years of Superman, and was produced by independent production company Shine Limited. (Source: Wikipedia)

"Do you think I sit around and do nothing?! I haven’t had a chance to sit around and do nothing since the day I arrived in Camelot, I’m too busy running around after Arthur - do this Merlin, do that Merlin - and when I’m not running around after Arthur, I’m doing chores for you and if I’m not doing that, I’m fulfilling my destiny - do you know how many times I’ve saved Arthur’s life? I’ve lost count - do I get any thanks? No. I have fought griffins, witches, bandits, I have been punched, poisoned, pelted with fruit, and all the while I have to hide who I really am because if anyone finds out, Uther will have me executed. Some times I feel like I’m being pulled in so many directions I don’t know which way to turn!”