Monthly Archives: August 2015

“No” (1973-1975)

In 1973 Scarfolk Council released the above poster all over town. On the same day it also stopped responding to applications for welfare benefits, in fact it stopped responding to all enquiries from the public.

Those who called the council telephone number were answered by a distant, echoing voice which relentlessly repeated the word ‘No’. It wasn’t a recorded message and callers could sometimes hear faint whimpering in the background.

Some families received letters from the council which contained a single instance of the word, while others received multi-page letters with ‘No’ printed many hundreds of times. The longest ‘No’ letter received by a citizen contained 178,121 pages and was delivered by an articulated lorry, whose number plate also simply read ‘No’.

Hoping for a ‘No’ answer, numerous residents tried to take advantage of the council by asking if they were required to pay their taxes or respect the law. Such people were visited by an impeccably dressed man called Mr. Custard who had rows of paper clips and occult symbols tattooed on his face. He would whisper briefly in the residents’ ears before leaving. All were found dead within days of Mr Custard’s visit, having slit their own wrists and daubed the word ‘No’ in their own blood on the walls of their homes.

In 1975 the ‘No’ era suddenly stopped. The council apologised and claimed that it had simply been the result of a clerical error.

For the ‘Stop!’ campaign see “Discovering Scarfolk” (page 154). For the ‘Don’t’ campaign go HERE.


NCC-1701 Rotating Dirigible Hangar, 1935

JF Ptak Science Books   Quick Post

Aviation dirigible162

I’ve seen a number of “found” USS Enterprise outlines in antique images recently: this one occurs in the May 1935 issue of Popular Science Monthly. This image shows a proposal for a versatile hangar for dirigibles: the airship could moor itself to a traveling mooring mast that looks like it could do a 360 on tacks around the landing area, and then brought down to a landing on the circular pad, which can be lowered to place the dirigible in an attached hangar.  It looks as though multiple hangars could be attached to this complex.  


Curious Hand-Illuminated Victorian Photo Album (ca. 1862)

JF Ptak Science Books     Post 2525

I found this collection of photographs a number of years ago, mostly for the way that some of the decorated panels were not outfitted with photographs.  The photographs were made in the early 1860s (one is dated 1862) and the decorations I take it were made by hand at the same time or thereabouts.  

One of the most interesting images is this family portrait–it has one of the most elaborate manuscript “frames”, and it also depicts a space ship in the background. Well, not really–but it is an interesting design for what I suspect was an (iron?) conservatory or greenhouse.  Also handling the photograph in person led me to the very minor discovery that the curled up and sleeping dog was an extra and “photoshopped”–that is, added after the photo was made, a cutout of the dog pasted onto the print. No doubt it would have been difficult to have a dog sitting there for a long period of time with the family without moving given the relatively slow exposure time in 1862.  I find that detail, that the family though enough of the dog to paste it into the final/finished project, to be very touching.  


TIL warming temperatures are making WWI military sites high up in the Alps accessible again, revealing relics and bodies from the “White War.” via /r/todayilearned

TIL warming temperatures are making WWI military sites high up in the Alps accessible again, revealing relics and bodies from the “White War.”

Submitted October 20, 2014 at 04:44PM by tortugaborracho
via reddit

The Preliminary Tower at Trinity, 1945

JF Ptak Science Books   Quick Post     Part of the series on Atomic and Nuclear Weapons

Here’s an interesting formerly Top Secret document from the Lee Groves collection of the George C. Marshall Foundation:

Atomic bomb tower Groves archive

The document is dated two days after the Trinity test of 16 July–I presently do not know why this is so.  

“The sketch is of a test cylinder procured and installed at a time when we were uncertain as to the explosive power of the bomb. If, at the time of the test, we anticipated that the force might be relatively small or even that there might be no nuclear explosion, we were going to place the bomb in the cylinder so that it would be possible to recover the plutonium.”–Marshall Foundation, below. 


A Plate Full of Eyes (1851)

JF Ptak Science Books  Quick Post

J.G. Heck wrote and compiled a fascinating and complex work entitled The Iconographic Encyclopedia of Science, Literature and Art, and was published in America for the first time in 1851 following Spencer Baird’s translation from its original German.


The key to his work is the amount of data displayed on each of the 500 engraved plates illustrating this work and the way in which it is arranged.  The design and layout of the 30,000 items on these 500 plates was a work of genius, and for my money it is easily the best-presented complex means of the display of data and objects that was published in the 19th century.