Monday, 22 June 2015

other applications requiring mobile fortification

The most common sizes for sandbags are 14 by 26 inches (36 by 66 cm) to 17 by 32 inches (43 by 81 cm). These dimensions, and the weight of sand a bag this size can hold, allow for the construction of an interlocking wall like brickwork. Individual filled bags are not too heavy to lift and move into place. They may be laid in excavated defences as revetment, or as free-standing walls above ground where excavations are impractical. As plain burlap sandbags deteriorate fairly quickly, sandbag structures meant to remain in place for a long time may be painted with a portland cement slurry to reduce the effects of rot and abrasion. Cotton ducking sandbags last considerably longer than burlap and are hence preferable for long-term use. However, the vast majority of sandbags used by modern military and for flood prevention are made of circular woven polypropylene.

Sunday, 14 June 2015


 Procrustes (Προκρούστης) or "the stretcher [who hammers out the metal]", also known as Prokoptas or Damastes (Δαμαστής) "subduer", was a rogue smith and bandit from Attica who physically attacked people by stretching them or cutting off their legs, so as to force them to fit the size of an iron bed. In general, when something is Procrustean, different lengths or sizes or properties are fitted to an arbitrary standard.

In the Greek myth, Procrustes was a son of Poseidon with a stronghold on Mount Korydallos at Erineus, on the sacred way between Athens and Eleusis. There he had an iron bed, in which he invited every passer-by to spend the night, and where he set to work on them with his smith's hammer, to stretch them to fit. In later tellings, if the guest proved too tall, Procrustes would amputate the excess length; nobody ever fit the bed exactly, because secretly Procrustes had two beds. Procrustes continued his reign of terror until he was captured by Theseus, travelling to Athens along the sacred way, who "fitted" Procrustes to his own bed:
He killed Damastes, surnamed Procrustes, by compelling him to make his own body fit his bed, as he had been wont to do with those of strangers. And he did this in imitation of Heracles. For that hero punished those who offered him violence in the manner in which they had plotted to serve him.

A Procrustean solution is the undesirable practice of tailoring data to fit its container or some other preconceived structure.

Thursday, 4 June 2015


...touch through the colour

Porphýra, the Purple Chamber, a pavilion of the Great Palace of Constantinople): no child born anywhere else could legitimately be called Porphyrogénnētos. This pavilion was a free-standing building in the Great Palace complex in Constantinople. As the Porphyrogennētē Anna Komnena described it, the room rested on one of the Palace's many terraces, overlooking the Sea of Marmora and the Bosphorus Strait, "where the stone oxen and the lions stand" (i.e. the Boukoleon Palace), and was in the form of a perfect square from floor to ceiling, with the latter ending in a pyramid. Its walls, floor and ceiling were completely veneered with imperial porphyry, which was "generally of a purple colour throughout, but with white spots like sand sprinkled over it


mud-purple feeds on rotting slime and the seaweed-purple on seaweed, both being of a very common quality. A better kind is the reef-purple, collected on the reefs of the sea, though this also is lighter and softer as well. The pebble-purple is named after a pebble in the sea, and is remarkably suitable for purple dyes; and far the best for these is the melting-purple, that is, one fed on a varying kind of mud. Purples are taken in a sort of little lobster-pot of fine ply thrown into deep water. These contain bait, cockles that close with a snap, as we observe that mussels do. These when half-killed but put back into the sea gape greedily as they revive and attract the purples, which go for them with outstretched tongues. But the cockles when pricked by their spike shut up and nip the creatures nibbling them. So the purples hang suspended because of their greed and are lifted out of the water.

natural history IX

oxacan purpura dyeing - milking the shellfish

The official fasces and axes of Rome clear a path, and it also marks the honourable estate of boyhood; it distinguishes the senate from the knighthood, it is called in to secure the favour of the gods; and it adds radiance to every garment, while in a triumphal robe it is blended with gold. Consequently even the mad lust for the purple may be excused; but what is the cause of the prices paid for purple-shells, which have an unhealthy odour when used for dye and a gloomy tinge in their radiance resembling an angry sea?