With scandals popping everywhere around the Obama Administration, this BBC guide to euphemisms employed by politicians in the past is bound to come in handy. Joe Biden frequently seems “tired and emotional” and rumors abound that President Obama is the sort of fellow who “watches badgers.”
Hat tip to Walter Olson.
In Roermond, The Netherlands, the headstones of two members of a mixed Protestant-Catholic marriage manage to overcome strict 19th century religious divisions.
Atlas Obscura story.
Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.
Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.
Sex appeal versus philosophical depth, the ultimate libertarian showdown. In order to be fair, let’s have a sample of both Hayeks at their best:
“It would be impossible to assert that a free society will always and necessarily develop values of which we would approve, or even, as we shall see, that it will maintain values which are compatible with the preservation of freedom. All that we can say is that the values we hold are the product of freedom, that in particular the Christian values had to assert themselves through men who successfully resisted coercion by government, and that it is to the desire to be able to follow one’s own moral convictions that we owe the modern safeguards of individual freedom. Perhaps we can add to this that only societies which hold moral values essentially similar to our own have survived as free societies, while in others freedom has perished.”
—Friederich Hayek, The Moral Element in Free Enterprise, 1962
Smithsonian’s Design Decoded explains the architectural origin of today’s standard Staunton-style chess men.
Prior to 1849, there was no such thing as a “normal chess set.” At least not like we think of it today. Over the centuries that chess had been played, innumerable varieties of sets of pieces were created, with regional differences in designation and appearance. As the game proliferated throughout southern Europe in the early 11th century, the rules began to evolve, the movement of the pieces were formalized, and the pieces themselves were drastically transformed from their origins in 6th century India. Originally conceived of as a field of battle, the symbolic meaning of the game changed as it gained popularity in Europe, and the pieces became stand-ins for a royal court instead of an army. Thus, the original chessmen, known as counselor, infantry, cavalry, elephants, and chariots, became the queen, pawn, knight, bishop, and rook, respectively. By the 19th century, chess clubs and competitions began to appear all around the world, it became necessary to use a standardized set that would enable players from different cultures to compete without getting confused.
In 1849, that challenge would be met by the “Staunton” Chess Set.
The Staunton chess pieces are the ones we know and love today, the ones we simply think of as chess pieces. Prior to its invention, there were a wide variety of popular styles in England, such as The St George, The English Barleycorn, and the Northern Upright. To say nothing of the regional and cultural variations. But the Staunton quickly would surpass them all. Howard Staunton was a chess authority who organized many tournaments and clubs in London, and was widely considered to be one of the best players in the world. Despite its name, the iconic set was not designed by Howard Staunton.
According to the most widely told origin story, the Staunton set was designed by architect Nathan Cook, who looked at a variety of popular chess sets and distilled their common traits while also, more importantly, looking at the city around him. Victorian London’s Neoclassical architecture had been influenced by a renewed interest in the ruins of ancient Greece and Rome, which captured the popular imagination after the rediscovery of Pompeii in the 18th century. The work of architects like Christopher Wren, William Chambers, John Soane, and many others inspired the column-like, tripartite division of king, queen, and bishop. A row of Staunton pawns evokes Italianate balustrades enclosing of stairways and balconies.
I like the Lewes chessmen best.
Klaus Pichler found a variety of opportunities for striking photographic images just walking through the back rooms and corridors of the Vienna Natural History Museum. [Slate]
Raymond Borzelli does not let age or lack of income get him down.
Hat tip to “>Vanderleun.