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Monday, November 24, 2003
Lost and Found Sound at Americaís National Public Radio, including the only known recording of the lost South African language of Kukasi / the full text of Henry Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor, courtesy of Phil Gyford, who extracts an account of C19 photographic scams: 'The fact is, people donít know their own faces.' Which, in those days, was probably true.

Related: the Victorian Internet, one of b3ta's occasionally quite amusing challenges. You might have a vague idea of what to expect when you click the link, but some of these are just inspired, such as the zoetropic hamster dance (more early cinema, more Zoetropes). Of course, some say that the telegraph was the Victorian Internet (review at Mappa Mundi).

A new venture, the digital Guardian, via Azeem, who wrote about the brave new world of Machinima in the paper last week. Machinima - computer-generated cinema - has to be better than the third part of the wretched Matrix trilogy, which I saw last night. Not at all impressed.

I quite like this vignette of Poundbury, the Prince of Wales's model village, at Keys Corner. Will Poundbury be the model for England's house-building renaissance? Or even Seaside, Florida's New Urbanist paradise? / Ben Johnson, architectural artist / paintings of naval aviation, via Michelle at life in the present. Also via litp, record cover art, a personal collection - a fine visual resource.

Rare books at MIT. Unusually for MIT, thereís not a lot of online material from these books. Which is a shame, because items like William Stricklandís Report on Canals, Railways, Roads, &c., &c., Made to the Pennsylvania Society for the Promotion of Internal Improvements piqued our interest for more canal and engineering ephemera. See, for example, this history of the Panama Canal, with photos. (the Panama Canal invariably takes one into the world of palindromes, via the seminal 'a man, a plan, a canal: Panama!' I now prefer the much more Seuss-like: 'a man, a plan, a cat, a ham, a yak, a yam, a hat, a canal - Panama!' (thanks to Jim Kalbís Palindrom Connection. See also palindromic numbers).

Back to canals. The Canal Museum is also worth a visit to get more background. Fumigation brigades, 1905, trying to solve the horrendous disease problems that caused the French to abandon their attempt in the 1880s (using this canal plan). At first, mosquitoes werenít even identified as the source of the problem:

In 1881, the French recorded about sixty deaths from disease. In 1882, the number doubled. The following year, 420 died. Malaria and yellow fever were the most common killers. Because the company often fired sick men to reduce medical costs, the numbers probably reflect low estimates. Believing the fumes from rotting vegetation caused the disease, doctors at the French hospital at Ancon advised workers to avoid the night air. Only after thousands of deaths would the cause be attributed to virus-carrying mosquitoes.

Some 20,000 people eventually died when the French finally pulled out in 1888, having spent $287,000,000. Of course, it was the Americans who finished the job. A tiny Quicktime movie of the locks working. A larger, but very cute, animation showing the whole procession of locks, Atlantic to Pacific.

The American Package Museum (via Muxway) - there are even 3D views of some of the exhibits. In the UK, the best known packaging collector is Robert Opie, who now hosts his collection on Wigan Pier, a location better known for other associations.

Also via Muxway, Bikini Science, which purports to be a serious study of the history of swimwear. True, the site does have a chronology, bibliography and there are even graphs (this one plots "the location of the waistline of bikini culotte in inches below navel vs time"), but there's also quite a lot of nudity.

I used to believe, the childhood beliefs site / I live on your visits has kindly scanned two classic typography ads: Monotype Univers and Nebiolo, as well as this evocative view of Piccadilly Circus in 1964 / A Directory of Heavier-Than-Air Flying Machines at the great Cabinet Magazine, complete with chart / kottke.org has re-designed (although our link seems to have fallen off the front page - oh well).