Saturday, December 12, 2009

$mas Suggestions

If you were thinking of buying Another Kiwi a present but have no idea of his tastes, my sources tell me that what he's really after is a digitised version of ledgers from the Wheatstone Concertina factory, starting in 1834, now available on a CD-ROM from the Horniman Museum.

Presumably a demand exists for this kind of obsessive detail (records of who worked on and signed off on each concertina from the factory; costs of materials, sales records; payments to the employees). Does that worry you? It worries me.

Charles Wheatstone* designed the concertina as an alternative to the accordion** and then kept refining it; the Horniman collection holds several hundred concertinas, documenting all his variant designs.

* Also inventor of Wheatstone's Bridge, intended to link the Isle of Wight to mainland England.
** the Parisian Guild of Annoying Cafe Entertainers had patented the accordion
, and charged exorbitant royalties for its use.

Bonus Horniman blogging:
Wheatstone was not the only musically-creative physicist of the time. "Maxwell's Demon" was a new organ pipe, invented by Maxwell for the premiere of Liszt's Faust Symphony. Thomas Young was well on the way to inventing the glockenspiel, only he was side-tracked by his ideas about deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics. Meanwhile in Germany, Helmholtz was collaborating with Wagner on a new kind of "stealth tuba" intended to slip past English defenses.

Is it true that Wheatstone's dying wish was for his skin to be tanned and used for the bellows of his last and greatest concertina design, the culmination of his life's work, now held in a locked room at the Horniman and shown only to genuine scholars? I could not possibly comment. Nor could I speculate on the kind of warped patriotism that would cause someone to be tattooed on every covered inch of skin with repetitive images of Queen Victoria without clothes.

Bonus Bonus Horniman blogging:
This stuffed walrus has been voted "Pinniped Most Resembling Geoffrey Gerry Brownlie" for the last eight years running. I have no idea why it is so inflated but according to my provisional theories it was used in an ambitious scheme to smuggle rhubarb into the UK from China and evade the punitive duties midway through the Opium Wars. Either that, or it was on display in the walrus pool at London Zoo to remind the adolescents of the species of the need for regular exercise, until it was moved to the Horniman collection because too many of them were growing up to be chubby-chasers.

Bonus³ Horniman blogging:
Giant Tuba, designed by Lord Kelvin to recapture the British lead in brass-instrument technology. This was after Erskine Childers wrote his espionage novel "The Riddle of the Sounds" to call the public's attention to the threat of German sonic supremacy.

10 comments:

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

the Parisian Guild of Annoying Cafe Entertainers had patented the accordion, and charged exorbitant royalties for its use.

But it took Mussolini to name one the Super Dominator.

Do Not Touch The Walrus

VPR?

If you were thinking of buying Another Kiwi a present but have no idea of his tastes...

He's getting porn, like everyone else!

Another Kiwi said...

I don't have the June 12 1864 second afternoon shift records. The shift supervisor was probably Immelmann but the ubergruppensupervisor is unclear, possibly Hausmann. It should be noted that Strizel and Wernen had been moved to the No.2 valve group the month before so could not be countersigning the No.1 group valve inspection papers that month.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

He'll get a pair of socks.

And liken it!
~

mikey said...

Umm, does the concertina come with large chunks of young asian men pre-installed, or is that considered a field upgrade?

Substance McGravitas said...

evade the punitive duties

It is just not that fun beating scabrous wretches all day but a dollar's a dollar I guess.

Substance McGravitas said...

Bonus Horniman

Typo. Should be "Boner".

jim said...

Needs more concertina.

Another Kiwi said...

The Wheatstone Bridge was actually some bright spark idea to link Ireland and Greenland. No one has ever ascertained why.

Smut Clyde said...

I had originally intended to make a joke about a bridge to replace the Isle of Wight ferry (which was brown, and steaming, and came out of Cowes backwards), but I couldn't remember the punchline.

Another Kiwi said...

I think it must be one of them existential jokes.