Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bingham's Eagle's Nest. 3 pictures

4,000 pictures and not 1 picture of the farmers who lived on Machu Picchu #Peru when "Indiana Jones", Hiram Bingham III (1875-1956) "discovered" this place in 1911. No snapshots? I checked out quite a lot of websites and documents but I did not find one picture :(

For Bingham, this eagle's nest was charming and no other place (on Earth?) could compare with it. On its slopes and terraces Bingham found two "pleasant" Indian farmers, Richarte and Alvarez, who did not speak Spanish. They lived there for more than four years. Plenty of terraces. Free from undesirable visitors. Rich soil. Fine climate. "Here the Indians had finally cleared off some ruins, burned over a few terraces, and planted crops of maize, sweet and white potatoes, sugar cane, beans, peppers, tree tomatoes and gooseberries.Source: Chapter 'XVII Machu Picchu' in Bingham/ Inca Land (1922).

How I would have loved to see Richarte's and Alvarez's pictures. Their families. Their gardens. In the middle of Machu Picchu. Or is this a glimpse of one of the gardens?
I love the idea - it's one of many hypothesis - that Machu Picchu was the summer residence of King Pachacuti (1438-1471/2). A safe haven where he could enjoy the company of his friends, make poems and enjoy his flowers. He loved flowers! On his deathbed he allegedly said "I was born as a lily in the garden, and like the lily I grew, as my age advanced. I became old and had to die, and so I withered and died."

Machu Picchu in 3 pictures: (1) 1911 before removal of vegetation (2) 1912 (3) recent picture

P.S. On July 24th, 1911 when he discovered the ruins he immediately set about taking a series of 28-30 photographs. Listing and naming each shot carefully.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mediterranean Salt

A few days ago I read this tweet (in Dutch) from @saskiadekkers. It was about the increasing informal economy in Portugal. No tax is paid for 1/4 of Portugal's GNP.
A lot? Typical of the countries in the South of Europe? I don't know. I was wondering if there is a correlation/connection between the financial crisis in Europe (starting around 2008) and the amount of ‘informal economy’ in a country. I collated some online data I collected to give an answer to this question.
The picture is pretty clear. In the South the economy is more informal and there is more corruption. In the North it's less. France and USA both belong to the northern way of behavior.
Question 'Is there a correlation between the amount of informal economy and the present day interest rates for Government bonds'? Answer: YES! The more informal the economy the more a country has to pay for the 10 year notes. Mark again the difference between the South and North of Europe. 
Mark that in the picture above Greece is a special case. If the correlation is 1 we would expect an interest rate between 5 and 7. The present day interest rate (34,36%) for Greece is rare. 

France is (partly) a southern country - if we look at the map - but in the pictures above it's 'clair' that they belong to the northern way of behavior and are treated alike for what they have to pay for their 10 year bonds. 

"Vada a bordo, cazzo!" (English 'Go on board, dick') Says who?
Sources for data: (a) informal economy; (b) corruption; (c) interest rates 2012-01-18 10:48:34; interest rates Turkey 2012-01-18

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bike shed

Look at your Twitter timeline. Take a good look! What do you see? Do you see a bike shed t:):)?
Twitterers give disproportional weight to trivial issues. Weather. Showing off. Holidays. How to ... - whatever.  Taste of food, book or music. What colour, shape or touch to give to another gadget. Opinions on TV programs, politician's opinions or the government's output. More opinions.

If Twitter really reflects daily life of species 'homo sapiens' then those tweets prove - according to me - that life is not about the pursuit of happiness. It's about trivial issues!

Or! Or is this the ultimate proof that there is a private & offline 'us' and an online & public 'us'? In private we think, talk, dream and act according to happiness? And online: we're never too deep for the fear of being shown to be insufficiently intelligent or informed?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Ability to be Funny and Entertaining

Yesterday evening I finished reading Paula Byrne's book 'Mad World. Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead'. I started with this book on Christmas evening. Can't really tell why ... I guess I needed a kind of escapism: big houses, money, dolce far niente,  nobility and those without titles (s.nob = sine nobilitate).

Lovely book. It's theme is the historical background on Evelyn Waugh's (1903-1966) book 'Brideshead Revisited' (1945). Waugh had a middle-class background. His father was a publisher. He won a scholarship for Oxford. There he met - after a couple of terms - the rich and famous, in the circle known as the Hypocrites. This circle was for Evelyn the door to the English upper-class and their country houses.

Everybody loves a Lord. Evelyn was in love with a whole family! He was in love with the Lygons. The head of the family was William Lygon (1872-1938), 7th Earl Beauchamp. He lived with his wife and 7 children in Madresfield Court in Worcestershire. Pictures of Madresfield and William Lygon's family (around 1925):     

This is the family that inspired - they do not completely coincide -  Evelyn Waugh's characters in Brideshead. In real life Earl Beauchamp (say: Beechamp) did not cheat his wife with a woman but with a man. He was a homosexual who was forced by his wife and his jealous brother-in-law (2nd Duke of Westminister) to go into exile and "never" to return to England. And if not ... they would make public his homosexuality and he had to go to jail.

New for me:
  • The Lygons did not weekend at other country houses: that was considered vulgar.
  • Evelyn and Hugh Lygon had a homosexual affair. 
  • Social climber? A lot of Evelyn's best aristocratic friends emphasised that it was they who sought his company, rather than the other way around. Evelyn judged people not by their class but by their ability to be funny and entertaining.
  • Correspondence between Evelyn and three of the Lygon girls from 1931-1966: Sibell, Mary ('Maimie') and Dorothy ('Coote'). They considered him as a brother.
  • The 7th Earl ('Boom') did not mention his children Lettice nor Dickie in his will. 
  • Apart from Lettice (who married before her father's scandal) none of the Lygon girls married into aristocracy or gentry. This shows more than anything the legacy of their father's disgrace.
  • What happened to the Lygons? When William, 8th Earl Beauchamp ('Elmley') died the title got extinct. Of the seven children only Richard ('Dickie') got children: two daughters. No heir to the title! And who lives in Madresfield Court now? Dickie's daughter Rosalind.