Archive Bloggery and resizing photos

Something that I do not do particularly well is resize photos to fit on web pages. For some reason I have to resort to pencil and paper and hard thought about proportions every time – I guess I should do it more often.
This morning I was busy posting (and thinking of how to resize) a couple of photographs on the Abner Jackson Journal blog, a blog the Hobart & William Smith Colleges Archivist Linda Benedict and I are working on. I’ve mentioned it here before, but it’s on my mind at the moment (and MUCH more amusing than Chicago-style referencing, which I could also be doing – but hey! This was Faculty Research Grant-funded Scholarship and it counts, too!).
Jackson was president of Hobart College from 1858 to 1867 and kept a daily journal. Some students and I transcribed it (that’s where the funding came in) and Linda and I are now uploading it. We’re also putting up pictures, though until the blog comes onto the campus server we’re not making a lot of internal links from entries to the photos; we know about broken links.
This is what I put up today – a pair of pictures of Linden Hall. Through the second half of the 19th century (from at least 1858 until 1892) Linden Hall was an entertainment space in downtown Geneva which the College and college groups (such as the sophomore class on at least one occasion that springs to mind) rented for events. The Washington’s Birthday celebrations were usually there, for instance, and at least part of the graduation celebrations (either the exercises or the dinner) were held there.
We didn’t have any photos of Linden Hall in our own archives, but my neighbor and friend Karen Osburn, archivist at the Geneva Historical Society, found and scanned these two for me. Thanks, Karen!
One of the interesting things about treating the journal as a blog is the utility of categories (one of the things I do is categorize entries – Linda’s uploaded most of them so far). Unlike a book index, categories are live links – so if you go to the blog and click on Discipline or Clubs, Societies, and Fraternities, or Campus Planning or Fundraising you may see how little life for a college administrator has changed in 150 years. I think that folks who are interested in 19th Century America might find this interesting. As a Southerner living here now I find the relative lack of trouble caused by or interest in the Civil War fascinating – though we ARE missing 1865 from the journals.
Here’s Linda’s own blog, Alone in the Archives, in case you’ve never clicked on it from the blogroll, where you’ll find it filed under the HWS blogs.

Yay for the MFA!

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston just got lucky (though I’m sure there was lots of work involved, too). They’re buying 1.6 acres next door – with a perfectly respectable Beaux Arts building on it. Museum expansion is always a problem – more so for Modernist monuments than buildings which, like the MFA, have already sprawled – but in this case it looks like a significant property addition, too – click and see the google map! The Forsyth Institute is across Forsyth Way from the MFA.

Eliot Spitzer – the gloss is off

Well, the Rich Boy Who Was Going to Clean Up Albany is having some trouble.
Maybe the rest of you will be spared him as president after all.

First one upstate Republican announced he would seek to subpoena records relating to the $5 million loan Spitzer took to finance his 1998 campaign for attorney general, a loan critics have charged Spitzer used to ignore campaign finance laws. And just hours later State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo issued his report regarding potential misuse of State aircraft by State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno. . . .
Cuomo found that Bruno did nothing wrong and that several Spitzer aides misused the State Police for political purposes in their effort to set Bruno up. Spitzer has suspended those aides, but can the man who came to Albany to fix it polish his now very tarnished reform image?

For those of you who keep up with NYS politics even less than I do (really – the State Assembly is so weird that an outsider like me would have a full-time job just getting up to speed), Spitzer accused the State Senate Majority Leader (Republican) Bruno of using state aircraft (especially helicopters) for campaign and personal purposes. Now we find out that story was even messier. Yay!
Further – from the Online Journal Imagine if top aides to President Bush ordered the FBI to produce damaging but false information about Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader. Now that would be a scandal.
For more, see Prof. Bainbridge – Eliot Spitzer is a Thug.

Lipstick on your collar? On our painting?

A woman kissed a Cy Twombly monochrome white painting and left a lipstick stain. She’s being prosecuted.
No word in any of the coverage I read about cleaning it.
I don’t think of Twombly as a monochromist, but there you go. Not really my period. Here’s a google image search for Twombly. As you’ll see, on lots of the paintings a lipstick smudge wouldn’t have shown. She must have meant it.

A complete tapestry!

I love The Closer!
Tonight was Hollywood Airhead Night + Detectives in Protective Gear. It’s hard to explain – but the woman who hired a lunk head to kill her husband gets dragged out of the interrogation room screaming “It’s a complete mystery of justice! A complete tapestry!” And then she attackes the lunk head. Beautiful.
You know, Kyra Sedwick really does a good job of sounding like a nice girl from Middle Georgia, at least by filmic standards. Yeah, I’ve mentioned the fact that she can act before.

Hobie Regatta

Hobie Regatta

Originally uploaded by Pak Gwei.

I got some pointlessly distant pictures of the Hobie Cat national regatta (I had the point and shoot – and from a mile away that doesn’t do much good) – but luckily Patrick Calder (one of my originally-from-Geneva blog correspondents) was in town visiting his family and took something much more exciting. The spread of colorful sails on the Lake was very pretty!

Spanish as she is spoke on the stump.

Google news turned up an article about H.Clinton and Obama speaking at a convention of the National Council of La Raza. Of course you can guess what they said (despite an egregious use of “unique” by the Miami Herald to describe Obama’s rhetorical contribution).
I actually clicked not because I was curious about their speeches, but because I was curious about language usage. Did either of them attempt stump-Spanish? Evidently not.
You see, Language Log has a little list of the linguistic ability of presidential candidates. Clinton is listed as ‘apparently monolingual.’ Obama, ‘Speaks Indonesian and limited Spanish.’ I think the Miami Herald would have mentioned if he used more than standard greetings, so I guess Clinton doesn’t have to worry about Obama walking away with the La Raza vote on linguistic grounds.

Solar Caution – not scepticism, but go-slowism

Should you install a solar photovoltaic system (PV system) in your home? At the risk of upsetting the advocates of these reliable alternative energy systems, I’ll answer, “Not until you’ve done everything you can to conserve electricity.” And once you’ve done that, you might conclude that the remaining environmental and economic benefits of a PV system are marginal at best.

This is an interesting piece. Here’s one of the author’s suggestions:

You can reduce your use by as much as 20 percent just by shutting down your “standby” appliances — televisions, computers and peripherals — when they’re not in use. Standbys use a small but steady stream of electricity 24/7 in order to be instantaneously at your service. To shut them off, simply unplug them or plug groups of appliances into a power strip and turn it off.

I’m afraid people like gadgets – especially expensive ones – more than turning other gadgets off.

Finding Harry Potter Annoying (don’t worry, I don’t know how it turns out)

I agree with Megan – plenty of J.K. Rowling’s world doesn’t make any sense – and in the bad way. Here’s an example:

Yet in the Potter books, the costs and limits are too often arbitrary.
A patronus charm, for example, is awfully difficult – until Rowling wants a stirring scene in which Harry pulls together an intrepid band of students to Fight the Power, whereupon it becomes simple enough to be taught by an inexperienced fifteen year old. Rowling can only do this because it’s thoroughly unclear how magic power is acquired. It seems hard to credit academic labour, when spells are one or two words; and anyway, if that were the determinant, Hermione Granger would be a better wizard than Harry. But if it’s something akin to athletic skill, why is it taught at rows of desks? And why aren’t students worn out after practicing spells?

I’d never thought about the last one – students are often hurt by misfires at Hogwarts, but no one ever seems tired at the end of class.
I won’t be reading it until come across a neglected copy of my nephews. I’m a volume behind, anyway.

Treasure Law in Great Britain

The Portable Antiquities Scheme has a blog!
Somehow I’d missed it. Needless to say they’re pleased with yesterday’s media blitz about the Viking hoard; as they point out it is National Archaeology Week in Great Britain, so the announcement was well-timed. Here’s their version, which has at least two other views.
Best of all, they have a flickr stream! That’s where this picture comes from.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme is a way of working on the relationship between scholars and metal detectorists – and the Harrogate Hoard is an excellent example of what can go right. Their piece ends with some notes for editors, including these:

6 All finders of gold and silver objects, and groups of coins from the same finds, over 300 years old, have a legal obligation to report such items under the Treasure Act 1996. Prehistoric base-metal assemblages found after 1st January 2003 also qualify as Treasure. Treasure finds must be reported by law to the local coroner, which is normally done through the finders local PAS Finds Liaison Officer. More information is available on or
7 The Portable Antiquities Scheme has a national network of 36 Finds Liaison Officers who record all archaeological finds made by members of the public and assist with the reporting of potential Treasure finds, as required by the Treasure Act. The Scheme is run by the BM on behalf of MLA. The online database,, contains details over 280,000 objects

Yet Another Face of Evil

Go look at her.

LONG BEACH, California (AP) — A mother charged with driving her 14-year-old son and six other juveniles to a skate park so they could attack another teenager pleaded not guilty Tuesday to murder.
Eva Daley is being held on $1 million bail.
Police said Eva Daley knew her son and the others planned to kill Jose Cano when she drove them to the park June 26. Cano, 13, died of stab wounds. Police said he had previously been involved in a dispute with the youths.

Filed under Future Law & Order Stories.

Viking hoard! Loot! Metal detectorists!

A very important new discovery is on display now at the British Museum – an intact hoard discovered by metal detector early this year is already up.

The Harrogate Hoard, which was promptly reported by the finders David and Andrew Whelan to their local Finds Liaison Officer (FLO), contains a mixture of different precious metal objects, including coins, complete ornaments, ingots (bars) and chopped-up fragments known as hack-silver.
It also reveals a remarkable diversity of cultural contacts in the medieval world, with objects coming from as far apart as Afghanistan in the East and Ireland in the West, as well as Russia, Scandinavia and continental Europe.

The 650-some pieces of silver were inside a Carolingian (early 9th C France) gilt-silver bowl. There are pictures of the bowl and a chain with a pin on its end. The early information (remember, it’s only been out of the ground since January of this year!) is that it was buried in the early tenth century. Hoards, as wonderful as they are for us, probably reflect the sad truth that whoever doesn’t come back to claim a hoard died. Violently. For instance, in the Anglo-Saxon conquest of the Viking kingdom of Northumbria (York) around 925.
We can always assign one date to hoards with coins, a terminus post quem, a “point after which.” We can know that the hoard had to have been buried after the manufacture of the most recent coin in the collection. However, that doesn’t tell us how soon after that coins manufacture the hoard was buried. Think of your change bowl or penny collection – if it was excavated tomorrow would it have a 2007 penny? A 2006 state quarter? A buffalo nickel? That’s one reason hoard-dating is not perfect. So, you find the latest dateable coin and then try to line it up with a time of unrest that might encourage someone to bury wealth – and might be unrestful enough that the hoarder never made it back.

An interview with the detectorists.

About the best picture I’ve found so far of the hoard spread out.

Really great unpacking the hoard sequence at the BBC, via Cronaca.

What’s a National Heritage?

Two very good pieces at Times Online about cultural heritage.
Heritage for sale. An increasing number of artworks are at risk of being sold abroad. We identify those most likely to disappear – Chris Bryant

The news that seven major artworks on loan to the National Gallery might be sold and may leave the country has a depressing air of inevitability. They are magnificent pieces. Titian’s Portrait of a Young Man ( pictured, far right) is a serene early portrait, less fleshy than others, sparse in colour yet rich in detail. Although it has only been on loan to the National Gallery for 15 years, it sat in Temple Newsam House near Leeds for more than 150 years. Likewise, the five paintings by Nicolas Poussin, the Sacraments, have been on loan only since 2002, but were in the Duke of Rutland’s Belvoir Castle for centuries. And few works could be more important to national heritage than Rubens’s exuberant Apotheosis of King James I, which belongs to Viscount Hampden and may also be up for sale.

His list:
1 Portrait of Catharina Hooghsaet by Rembrandt
2 The Bridgewater Madonna by Raphael
3 Portrait of Edward Grimston by Petrus Christus
4 Winter Scene and The Bird Trap by the two Breughels
5 Portrait of an Old Woman by Rembrandt
6 Judas and the Thirty Pieces of Silver by Rembrandt
7 The Cholmondeley Family by William Hogarth
8 War and Peace by Van Dyck
9 The Reverend Sir Henry Bate and Lady Bate-Dudley, both by Thomas Gainsborough
10 Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows by John Constable
11 Erasmus by Holbein
Saved for whom? These works never belonged to Britain anyway, says Rachel Campbell-Johnston

The National Gallery is undoubtedly facing a crisis. Loaned masterpieces by Titian and Poussin are about to be put on the market. And how can we stump up the many millions that will be necessary to buy them? The likelihood is that they will be sold abroad. The loss rips a hole in the fabric of our heritage.
Or does it? Look at the list of other art works which Chris Bryant thinks we are most at risk of losing. Fewer than than a half are by British artists or artists working in Britain. The rest were, in the first place, acquired from abroad by a nation which had produced no Titians or Rembrandts of its own. Art was a trophy by which competing countries could manifest their power. Paintings were not icons of an art-historical legacy. They were symbols of status. And canvases were swapped between monarchs and connoisseurs and collectors like children swap Pokémon cards in the hope of getting the whole set.

I tend to agree with Campbell-Johnston – invest money and efforts saving the ones that are somehow really “British” – especially the Petrus Christus! Earliest surviving portrait of an English subject!
However, her argument does depend on the assent to the idea that imperialism=BAD. Imperialism is, of course, part of the British Heritage and as such evidence of the British Collector abroad and British Gran Tourismo is a defensible collection priority. Can’t the “we were wicked imperialists – let it go abroad” become a kind of whitewashing of the British record? The huge collections of Dutch works alone are also interesting reflections on a very special relationship which is not a story of one-way imperialism.