Feb 28, 2011

Button Gwinnett's marriage signature found in Wolverhampton.

You might not have heard of Button Gwinnett before, but he was one of the 56 people who signed the Declaration of Independence of the United States.

Gwinnett was of English origin. He was born in 1735 in the parish of Down Hatherley in England, to Welsh parents. As his Wikipedia entry says, after attending The King's School in Gloucester he started his career as a merchant in England. He then moved to Wolverhampton in 1755 and married a local, Ann Bourne, in 1757 at St. Peter's Church at the age of 22. In 1762 the couple left Wolverhampton and moved to America, where Gwinnett became a political leader. 

Well, now his signature has been found hiding in St. Peter's Church in Wolverhampton, where he married his wife. Gwinnett gave the city his precious autograph when he signed the parish register at this church in 1757 when he married local girl Ann Bourne two years after arriving from his native Gloucester.

And this is the valuable document:

Feb 26, 2011

Minnesotan graffiti artist protects Titian's Venus from the cold.

It must be really cold in Minneapolis right now, but thanks to this considerate graffiti artist this goddess won't have such a hard time enduring the upper-Midwestern winter.

A Bit of Fry & Laurie: If Rupert Murdoch hadn't been born.

This is a funny sketch from the British television series A Bit of Fry & Laurie, starring actors Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. 

In it, they give their view of a world without Rupert Murdoch or his corporation in it. Enjoy:

Feb 25, 2011

Benjamin Franklin's own mock epitaph.

Other than being a historical figure and all, Benjamin Franklin must have been a funny guy. At least when he was young, before doing more boring things like investigating on electricity or becoming one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America.

When he was a young man in 1728, Franklin had composed his own mock epitaph which read:

The Body of
B. Franklin Printer;
Like the Cover of an old Book,
Its Contents torn out,
And stript of its Lettering and Gilding,
Lies here, Food for Worms.
But the Work shall not be wholly lost:
For it will, as he believ'd, appear once more,
In a new & more perfect Edition,
Corrected and Amended
By the Author.
Born Jan 6th, 1706.

However, what eventually his gravestone would read was simply:

Benjamin and Deborah Franklin.

The circus in 1940 US of A.

Found at the Wisconsin Historical Society website, this interesting picture from 1940 portrays 11 clowns who are posing around that pretty young girl in a circus tent, probably a performer at the circus as well. 

Was it a real circus? Hard to guess. The WHS suggests that this could have been a part of a movie set. 
Be that as it may, it's an evocative picture, isn't it?

Alfred Hitchcock interviewed, explores fear.

In this rare footage of an interview that took place in May of 1964, BBC's Huw Weldon elicits Alfred Hitchcock's insights on fear and the "Fright Complex" and how he took advantage of that in his movies. 

By watching the interview it becomes quite clear how interesting and brilliant this man was, and it is a delight to see even if you are not a Hitchcock fan.

The interview can be seen in two parts here:


And for more information you can read the original article here.

Iron Maiden in Moscow.

Feb 24, 2011

Wind in the Windy City.

Chicago is called The Windy City for a good reason. The wind in this snowstorm is so strong, it's able to push this guy down the sidewalk.

The RAF museum in London.

A short video on a visit to the museum of the Royal Air Force in London:

Alaska as you probably have never seen it.

Check out these stunning and majestic pictures of the state of Alaska:

Feb 23, 2011

A window to the past in downtown London.

This is a look back to 1926 at the Bank of England in London, during the general strike that took place that year. As seen at the ingenious website http://www.historypin.com/, that takes advantage of Google Streetview technology to offer a view of the past at specific locations by offering the users the possibility of uploading their old pictures. 

The contrast looks great, doesn't it?

Scotland and a BMX

As I just learned from The UK Curiosity Blog, this guy on the BMX is Danny MacAskill, a Scottish street trials pro rider. 

This video  follows him on a journey from Edinburgh back to his hometown Dunvegan, in the Isle of Skye, showcasing locations around Scotland including Edinburgh Castle, North Berwick, wartime bunkers on the island of Inchgarvie beneath the Forth Bridge and a hydro-electric power station in the Scottish Highlands. It's got beautiful scenery and it's really worth seeing.

You can read about it and watch the interviews with Danny at http://www.redbull.co.uk/waybackhome

Feb 21, 2011

The only existing footage of the RMS Titanic.

Apparently this is the only existing footage of the RMS Titanic, while it was under construction in Belfast back in 1911. 

That was a year before the ship set off in her maiden voyage, which turned out to be her last one as well, from Southampton to New York City on 10 april 1912. 

Feb 19, 2011

Impressive restoration of a 1775 'New Hampshire Gazette'.

This is the before and after of the restoration of a New Hampshire Gazette issue dating back from February 17, 1775. More info on the restoration process can be found in this magnificent blog.

Amazing aerial pictures of London from above.

Check out these incredible photos of the city of London taking from the air by the photographer Jason Hawkes and found at The Boston Globe:

Feb 18, 2011

Vintage radio report on the B-25 bomber that crashed into the Empire State Building in 1945.

In July of 1945, a B-25 bomber crashed into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building as it was flying towards Newark Airport in heavy fog. A total of 14 people died in the incident. This generated some dramatic photojournalistic images (such as the one opening this post, which is a part of the MoMa's collection). 

Below, there is a radio report from Universal Newsreel on the crash. It's the first report on the reel, but if you keep listening you'll hear some vintage sports coverage, including talk of a Brooklyn Dodgers game. It's really interesting stuff. 

Behold the Pentagon's Nano Hummingbird spy drone.

You probably have some questions just by reading the post's title. I'll try to answer them. 

First question: Is this what the American government is spending money in now? Yes, they are indeed. 

Second: And how much money is that? Well, apparently they have put $4 million and five years of research into this.

Third one: Well, I know that wasting money is really their thing, but shouldn't something like this be secret or something? I mean, being a spy drone and all...? Good question, maybe they just need to show off every once in a while. Or maybe they can't actually spy with it because the battery only lasts for eight minutes and after some brainstorming they decided to put it on Youtube for everybody to freak out:

The Empire State Building in the '30s, before the observatory was illuminated.

Feb 13, 2011

101st Airborne Division parachuting into Michigan Stadium.

This actually happened in october 2010 but I just read about it and it's worth spreading a bit for those of you who haven't heard about it. 

It is amazing footage taken by a head-mounted videocam of 101st Airborne Division paratrooper Sgt. Adam Sniffen, who delivered the game ball into the Michigan Stadium for the Michigan Wolverines - Michigan State Spartans game in Ann Arbor by jumping from a Cessna several thousand feet above the ground.

Try to pay special attention to the point where you can actually start to hear 109.933 crazed fans screaming as the paratrooper comes in and lands on the mark at the 3-yard line:

Feb 12, 2011

E-mail error in Welsh ends up on road sign.

BBC News has just released this really funny piece of news. 

It all started when this road sign in the picture was about to be made. The officials in charge of it e-mailed the message in English to a translator in the Swansea council. As the article says, the English message is clear enough to lorry drivers who see it, but if you can read Welsh you might have noticed by now that the text below doesn't mean quite the same thing as the English text.

What actually happened was that the officials got a response to their e-mail which was written in Welsh, and thought that it was the translation that they had asked for their road sign. However, the Welsh message was actually an automatic response, and which it really said was "I am not at the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated". And that very sentence was what ended up written on the road sign to ban lorries from driving into a residential area close to a supermarket. 

I can imagine that it didn't take long for Welsh speakers to start noticing the mistake and also having some laughs at it. 
However, as the BBC News article points out, this isn't the first time that Welsh has been mistranslated or put in the wrong place. Other confusing signs that have been found before went like this:

• Cyclists between Cardiff and Penarth in 2006 were left confused by a bilingual road sign telling them they had problems with an "inflamed bladder".

• In the same year, a sign for pedestrians in Cardiff reading 'Look Right' in English read 'Look Left' in Welsh.

• In 2006, a shared-faith school in Wrexham removed a sign which translated the Welsh for staff as "wooden stave".

• Football fans at a FA Cup tie between Oldham and Chasetown - two English teams - in 2005 were left scratching their heads after a Welsh-language hoarding was put up along the pitch. It should have gone to a match in Merthyr Tydfil.

• People living near an Aberdeenshire building site in 2006 were mystified when a sign apologising for the inconvenience was written in Welsh as well as English.

Feb 11, 2011

Ads on Illinois license plates?

I think that the Americans' love for ads is going a step too far. License plates becoming miniature billboards? Could anyone have thought of that?

Well, they already have. Apparently, an Illinois lawmaker has proposed a change in legislation that would allow corporate-sponsored license plates available to motorists for discount prices.
Instead of paying the $99 that they are paying nowadays, motorists would get to pay $84 to allow corporations buy advertising space on their plates, although personally I'm not sure if dragging a Coke ad on your car forever is really worth that $15 difference.

European standard plate.
Also, something like this sounds really alien to us here in Europe, as the whole European Union has got its own standard license plate and they won't differ from one another except in tiny differences sometimes.

United States plate.
State Senator John Mulroe said: "This gives us a chance to raise revenue without raising taxes. We've got to think outside the box these days." As the Chicago Tribune says in the same article, Mulroe said the proposal is a "win-win situation for everyone" because it would cost the state nothing to make the corporate plates, cut fees for drivers and bring in much-needed revenue to a state looking for ways to shore up its finances.

I don't know what you think of this, but as we know how politics are from recent and not-so-recent events (specially in the States, where politicians don't even fake non-corruption), each time that a politician brings some topic such as this one up that involves private companies and their money, I would instantly throw the IRS on them and his whole family just in case. 

Feb 6, 2011

Chicago in the blizzard of 2011.

These are some stunning pictures of how Chicago has been looking like during the past few days in the middle of the snow storm that has been covering most of the U.S. and which we have been talking about. I've been in the Windy City before and this sight of it has stricken me. Take a look:

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