In many ways this is a depressing enterprise, although I haven’t yet found the early modern Spanish colonial administrator who, thinking of gold and silver and the Fuggers, must have prototyped the Venezuelan politician Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonzo’s truism, “Ten years from now, twenty years from now, you will see: oil will bring us ruin … Oil is the Devil’s excrement.” Salvador Sostres’ polemical “El impero británico perdió las colonias y nacieron los Estados Unidos; España perdió las colonias y nació el circo.” and Argentina’s huge natural resources are roughly where things stand now, but looking back there are moments when, amidst generalised sloth, you find someone being industrious and clever, and you fear to find what became of him.
An example. Someone has kindly pointed me to a licence, now in Simancas, which was granted to a guy from a village near Albacete who decided, perhaps because he also wanted to use beast-power without adding gearing, perhaps for some other reason, that horizontal axis windmills – the Manchegan standard – didn’t cut it, and built himself a machine consisting of a vertical revolving pole with at the top four (vertical) square blades. The cream on the pudding: each blade apparently contains a window, which, as the pole turns, opens on one side and closes on the other. Unfortunately there’s no diagram, so I’m trying to imagine – with some poorly-remembered A-level physics – how this would have provided an advantage, and whether anyone else was doing this kind of thing. Lunch for anyone who builds a model along these lines:
If you ask Simancas, will they mail you a copy of docs?
- Esta quer siñela de undibel
A selection of Spanish Romani religious video.
- More experiments from the organ-grinder’s workshop
Videos of arrangements of Machito’s Bananas and Valencia, and a preview of a song about doggies.
- Monkey hangers in 17th century Barcelona
Xenophobic atavism in the 1640 Reapers Revolt.
- In praise of oranges
A First World War letter from a Palestinian orange grove, an orange (lower case) song, and this winter’s favourite orange cake recipe.
- London’s River Lea and Waltham Forest in Drayton’s 1622 Poly-Olbion
Now you see ’em, now you don’t.