Wednesday, September 27, 2017

tramp stamps

Think about “tramp stamps.” The term, and the tattoo.

The term is sexist. The tattoos themselves are much-derided. Looking past all that, I often find them to be quite attractive.

In general, tattoos have a purpose: to decorate the human body. So it has to sit well there. Designs have to work in the place they're designed for. A picture meant to be on a square painting on a wall has different requirements than one on a cylindrical vase. Same goes for something you put on the front of a building. Or on a real human body.

See? That would have looked better on a vase.

The most successful tattoos are the ones that obey the human form. We're very attuned to the human form. It's one of the pillars of world art throughout history, and we know it well. A tattoo that interrupts that form may be trendy for a moment (like those geometric designs that crop up every generation or so in fashion, and don't last for the same reason), but it will ultimately look wrong.

This gent's admirable V-shaped form begged for a design just like this.

There's an exception: the tattoo that defies the form, which is another way of imposing the human will on nature. When done well it can look good too. But that's very rare.

Actual example of one that I think is really beautiful. Especially because the careful point-by-point tattooing process is contrasted here by the illusion of watercolor's spontaneity. 
I stress that this is the exception.

Mainly, you want to obey and honor the human form. A small horizontal design at the lumbar, or slightly above at the slimmest part of the waist, can act as a visual cinch. It accentuates the feminine form in a pleasing way.

No. No, not like that. Sorry, St. Paul.

Yes. Yes, just like that.

Maybe that's why those tattoos are so popular, even and especially among girls who are not typically inky girls. Ironically, it's the conservative choice! Conservative in the sense that a small design that accentuates the female form is a safer bet than, say,


So if you're not the sort of girl who gets a lot of tattoos you may still get one on your lower back. (This is also true of those tiny ankle tattoos, which share the lumbar tattoo's feature of being easily concealed in business settings.)

Thus, girls who get typical lower-back tattoos are scorned from both sides: from those who don't get tattoos at all, and from those who get more "tattoo-culture" tattoos.

It's like a person whose favorite singer is Kesha. People who don't like modern pop scorn you for being so pop, and people who do like modern pop scorn you for being so obvious.

Hey, I like Kesha's music.

Meanwhile, those tattoos might very well stick with us for a while. They'll look good as a woman ages. They're easy to conceal when necessary and pleasant to reveal when desired. And at this point they'll never really be in or out of fashion.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

grading syrup

Grade A maple syrup is not better than Grade B. Grade B syrup has a darker color and deeper flavor than grade A. The grades are indicators of color and flavor, not quality.

So the US Department of Agriculture decided to clear that up. How? By changing the labeling system, you ask? Yep:

    • Grade A Light Amber is now
Grade A Golden Color/Delicate Taste

    • Grade A Medium Amber is now
Grade A Amber Color/Rich Taste

    • Grade A Dark Amber is now
Grade A Dark Color/Robust Taste

    • Grade B is now
Grade A Very Dark Color/Strong Taste

So instead of just getting rid of the letter grade, they just call it *all* grade A.

That is as concise a summary of America, in science, commerce, character, and logic, as I could ever hope for.

Monday, September 11, 2017

september eleventh in history

If you think modern attacks from Muslims on September 11th are referring to 9-11-2001, you may not be looking back far enough.

1565 — The Ottoman Empire had been trying to invade the island of Malta, then held by the Knights Hospitaller. The Knights, with approximately 2,000 footsoldiers and 400 Maltese men, women and children, withstood the siege and repelled the invaders. Voltaire said, "Nothing is better known than the siege of Malta." It undoubtedly contributed to the eventual erosion of the European perception of Ottoman invincibility.
Their forces retreated on September 11, 1565.

[1609 – Henry Hudson discovers Manhattan Island]

1683 — The Battle of Vienna took place at Kahlenberg Mountain near Vienna after the city had been besieged by the Ottoman Empire for two months. The battle was fought by the Habsburg Monarchy, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Holy Roman Empire, under the command of King John III Sobieski against the Ottomans and their vassal and tributary states. This is the first time the Commonwealth and the Holy Roman Empire had cooperated militarily against the Ottomans. It began the Great Turkish War and it is often seen as a turning point; after this war the Ottoman Turks ceased to be a menace to the Christian world.
The battle took place on September 11, 1683.

1697 — The Battle of Zenta (or Senta, today in Serbia) was a major engagement in the Great Turkish War (1683–1699) and one of the most decisive defeats in Ottoman history. In a surprise attack, Habsburg Imperial forces routed the Ottoman army which was crossing the river. At the cost of a few hundred losses, the Habsburg forces inflicted thousands of casualties on the Ottomans, dispersed the remainder and captured the Ottoman treasure. As an immediate consequence, the Ottoman Empire lost control over Banat, while in the long run, the Habsburg victory at Zenta was the last decisive step to force the Ottoman Empire into the Treaty of Karlowitz (1699), ending the Ottoman control of large parts of Central Europe.
The battle took place on September 11, 1697.

info from Wikipedia