Marvelous scans of Leonardo da Vinci's journals

London's Victoria and Albert Museum has digitized and posted two of Leonardo da Vinci's personal notebooks. From The Art Newspaper:

“The notebooks remind us that Leonardo was as much an engineer as he was an artist. When he wrote in the early 1480s to Ludovico Sforza, then ruler of Milan, to offer him his services, he advertised himself as a military engineer, only briefly mentioning his artistic skills at the end of the list,” (says Catherine Yvard, Special Collections curator at the V&A’s National Art Library.)

Codex Forster I dates from the time Leonardo spent at the Milanese court and focuses on hydraulic engineering, featuring drawings of instruments for digging canals and for moving and raising water. It also includes a treatise on geometry and measuring solids.

Read the rest

Get creatively inspired by these sumptuous handcrafted bohemian journals

Nazy Cardiel Camargo from Amity Bloom crafts lovely journals festooned with textiles, found art, and other ephemera, and the results are quite beautiful. Read the rest

Reasons to keep a personal journal or sketchbook

In the age of omnipresent keyboards and computers and the internet lurking behind all of them, the idea of a handwritten journal might seem quaint or pointless. But there are good reasons to keep one, writes Alan Henry.

Writing can do wonders for your health. Beyond keeping your creative juices flowing—a separate topic we'll get to shortly—regular writing can give you a safe, cathartic release valve for the stresses of your daily life. We've discussed some of those mental and emotional benefits of writing before, from the angle of creative writing—but you don't have to write fiction to get them. For example, we've mentioned that keeping an awesomeness journal can do wonders for your self-esteem. Not only does regular writing make you feel good, it helps you re-live the events you experienced in a safe environment where you can process them without fear or stress.

Using a brightly-lit, internetworked, general-purpose consumer computer for everything puts everything you do just a single decision away from being in the same place as everything else.

So I strongly recommend a paper journal over an app, at least for those looking at journaling as a way to shake free of the spell of life spent constantly reading and writing online.

Skip Moleskines, at least the expensive ones, if you're just starting out. Cheap is the freedom to experiment. You can buy a box of 25 notebooks for about $30 shipped at, and they're just fine. Heres a box of ruled ones. Upgrade to a nice hardbound A4 journal as a reward for getting through the first set! Read the rest

Diary of an unknown soldier from WWI illustrated by a contemporary cartoonist

Imagine walking down a street in Paris one morning, stumbling upon a rubbish heap, plucking out a cardboard box from the debris, and finding pages of song lyrics, a war medal and a diary written 100 years ago inside the box. This really happened to French artist Barroux, and his tribute to the unknown man behind the diary is the graphic novel, Line of Fire: Diary of an Unknown Soldier (August, September 1914).

Through charcoal drawings, Barroux illustrates the diary's entries from early August, 1914 until the writing abruptly ends one month later. The haunting, dark sketches show the full range of emotions and experiences of this anonymous French soldier just days into the start of the Great War. Renderings depicting fear, sadness, lonesomeness, and hope accompany the brief diary entries. Pages with the soldier's handwriting are also sprinkled throughout the book. Although the name of this soldier remains a mystery, he was a real man that had to say goodbye to a real family and walk into the forests not knowing what lay ahead. Line of Fire is a way to remember that this brave man existed.

Further information about clues from the diary, the multi-media adaptation of Line of Fire and the background of the artist Barroux can be found here.

– Carole Rosner


Line of Fire: Diary of an Unknown Soldier (August, September 1914)

by Unknown (author), Barroux (illustrator) and Sarah Ardizzone (translator)

Phoenix Yard Books

2014, 96 pages, 7.2 x 9.8 x 0.5 inches (paperback)

$13 Buy one on Amazon

See sample pages from this book at Wink. Read the rest

Provocative proposal to force scholarly publishers to respect open-access wishes of their unpaid contributors

On Freedom to Tinker, Andrew Appel has been expertly analyzing the copyright policies of several technical academic journals published by the likes of ACM and the IEEE. The scholars who contribute to these journals are calling for a change in their way of doing business, so that article authors get to retain their copyright. Appel lays out a compelling economic argument for scholars refusing to assign their copyrights to journals. In today's installment, Appel discusses a shift in ACM's publishing policy that ends the practice of authors modifying their contracts to reflect their preferences on terms of publishing; now ACM's office of Copyright and Permissions states that "ACM does not accept copyright Addenda that exceed the liberal rights retained by authors under ACM’s Copyright Policy and the exclusive grant of copyright to ACM as publisher."

Appel points out that in one area of academic publishing, conference proceedings, scholars hold the whip hand. That's because, once papers have been accepted for presentation at a conference, and the program fixed, the authors could collectively refuse to sign the default contract. This would require the publisher to either modify its policy to reflect the wishes of the (unpaid) contributors who make its conferences possible, or to scrap the entire bill and start over reviewing papers, with short time.

Suppose almost all the authors of the 40 accepted papers were to write the same modification into their copyright contract? The publisher could reject all those papers, but there’s a serious time constraint: the conference volume has to appear, and it has to appear NOW, with a short deadline.

Read the rest

Don't eat the poison honey

One interesting fact and one bit of useful advice, courtesy the Neuroskeptic blog: • When bees use nectar from wild Rhododendrons the honey they produce is poisonous. Not poisonous as in, "dude, you have to try this poison honey it made me see god," but poisonous as in "was once left out as a deadly trap for invading armies." • Although, like Viagra, rhododendron honey does have cardiovascular effects, you should not ingest it as a "marital aid." If you do, you will risk both death, and ending up the subject of a funny report in a medical journal. Via Vaughn Bell Read the rest

A geek's journal, 1976

"What if there had been blogs in 1976? I would most definitely have had one and this might well have been it. This blog is based on my actual journal kept in 1976." Read the rest