It’s hard to distinguish the fragrance of Geurlain
from that of pan-fried potato latkes
when you’re beneath a barstool
amid the boot-crushed butts and spilled beers.
It’s hard to carve an eagle when the tempest
of emotions coats the back of your throat
with a cold glue that no creative
surge can moisten nor free up nor reduce to tears.
It’s hard to say what tipped the scales, what failed to
gel, what failed to gather to you the crowds
you needed for your performances
since you screwed up so many times over so many years.
Not often that pop music asks the BIG questions….
I have for many years enjoyed celebrating each 14th March as Pi Day, in honour of pi = 3.14…. However, I have been persuaded that Tau Day is at least as important if not more so.
The value of Tau = 2pi and is thus celebrated on 28th June (6.28). Why this is important is explained in this good short piece from ScienceNews.
“The simplest way to see the failure of pi is to consider angles, which in mathematics are typically measured in radians. Pi is the number of radians in half a circle, not a whole circle. That makes things confusing: For example, the angle at the tip of a slice of pizza — an eighth of a pie — isn’t π/8, but π/4. In contrast, using tau, the pizza-slice angle is simply τ/8. Put another way, tau is the number of radians in a full circle.
That factor of two is a big deal. Trigonometry — the study of the angles and lines found in shapes such as triangles — can be a confusing whirlwind for students, full of blindly plugging numbers into calculators. That’s especially true when it comes to sine and cosine, two important functions in trigonometry. Many trigonometry problems involve calculating the sine or cosine of an angle. When graphed, the two functions look like a series of wiggles, shaped a bit like an “S” on its side, that repeat the same values every 2π. That means pi covers only half of an S. Tau, on the other hand, covers the full wiggle, a more intuitive measure.”
So, Happy Tau Day to you all!
For anyone who paints today, it is hard to believe there was ever a time when the beautiful, versatile, and stable Prussian Blue pigment did not exist. But the fact is it is just a few hundred years old.
It was discovered, by accident, in the first decade of the 1700s in Berlin by a colour-maker called Diesbach. Prior to that time, blue pigments had been sourced from “indigo, smalt, azurite and ultramarine, derived from lapis lazuli, which was expensive.” The new process was cheap and easily manufactured. Its first verifiable use in an artwork was in “The Entombment of Christ” by Pieter vander Werff in 1709.
I didn’t know any of this until I read a fascinating article called “Prussian Blue and Its Partner In Crime” by Philip McCouat in the excellent Journal of Art In Society. The article goes on to describe the pigment’s use in Europran art and, notably, in the creation of an entire genre of Japanese painting.
The second part of McCouat’s article (“…Partner in Crime”) takes the story into even more interesting ground once a Swedish chemist discovered that by mixing Prussian Blue with diluted sulphuric acid he could create the deadly poison hydrogen cyanide, a favourite of poisoners ever since. This section of the essay details the first murderer caught by telegraph, and the use of cyanide and its derivatives both by US gas chambers and by Nazi mass executioners.
Who knew that such a beautiful colour could have such a blotchy history? Mix up your favourite beverage, settle back, and enjoy this fascinating long read.