I follow a blog by Joel who works in Brooklyn. Here’s the link: Joel’s blog. He writes some interesting posts, mainly about woodworking and the tools for doing so. I visited his shop last October when visiting my son and his wife who live in Brooklyn. His most recent post is about a folding desk in New York’s Metropolitan museum and he also mentions the Google project for visiting museums virtually, like street view.
If you go here there is an interactive multimedia entry on Pieter Bruegel’s “The Harvesters”(and a much bigger, zoomable picture than the one below which misses much detail.
This is a splendid painting, and apparently the first true European landscape painting. It is full of life and people. People who work and then rest, eat out of wooden bowls, which probably have no flat bottom as they were not used at table (who being a peasant could afford a table in those days?). They use wooden spoons to eat and drink out of large pottery baluster jugs. The countryside is so alive with people, not machinery as it seems to mostly be now a days.
I feel empathy with the people in the picture as my near ancestors certainly worked with their hands, weavers, stone masons, horse doctors. So many of the things in the picture can still be seen, but are by no means “every day” any longer. There’s a wooden ladder for fruit picking (ladders have now either to be metal or wired for safety). The wheat (or corn) is long straw, ideal for thatching, but our modern varieties are bred for short straw in the interests of efficiency and long straw has to be specially grown for thatchers. There’s a scythe in use for the harvesting (is that a joke that he is about to hit the jug?).
So it’s a world takeover by Google – whatever next?
However, as a quick antidote just try Wolfram Alpha . It’s not a search engine, but it does some amazing stuff without all the garbage that now seems to flood out of Google. Have a look at population data, mortality data, geography, colour names, genealogy. It also does amazing calculations. Very entertaining and useful.