Tuesday, 30 June 2015
untried provisions to kick-out members or let them leave voluntarily, and perhaps more importantly, on balance with the insistence that this experiment will work, the ability to selectively invite new partners—which really isn’t a possibility for America—and the core of badly-behaving Europe achieve a new and hopefully better character in expanding its borders. Though many of the contiguous territory, in my opinion, are in far worse financial straits, the Colombian Union is baiting and beating up on one of its colonial outliers in insolvent Puerto Rico with mounting attention that may well match captivation that the Greek tragedy is providing. Receivership does not seem like an option that will do anyone any good, other than the lenders of last resort.
ephemera: MOMA acquires beautiful set of postcards advertising the inaugural Bauhaus exhibition
redrum: food decoration inspired by Stanley Kubrick classic The Shining, via the splendiferous Nag on the Lake
proud as a peacock: charming round up of railings against the US Supremes’ decision to ban state-level curbs on marriage
neapolitan: biography of Rose Totino, patroness, of frozen pizza—plus a selection of inventive advertisements made with stock-images
Though now I know that the frigate on the obverse of the old drachma coin represents the vessel of the head of the Greek admiralty and freedom-fighter Constantine Kanaris, thinking on the possibly eminent return of the currency, the nature of nomos, numisma and the Union, the paradoxical Ship of Theseus—where one speculates if a boat is still the same boat if one has replaced a single nail, plank, sail, jib and mast, the entire deck and eventually though still called Theseus’ comprises none of the original composition.
Monday, 29 June 2015
ostalgie: doll houses and dioramas of East Germany
throughput: Disney corporate flow-chart for strategic success
notorious rbg: US supreme court justice’s civil rights sojourn and superstar status
From the Oxford English Dictionary Online Word of the Day comes a timely and useful bit of vocabulary in the adjective peristeronic—that is, relating to or suggestive of pigeons.
Sunday, 28 June 2015
After being treated to a fun and festive Rhein river cruise courtesy of my employer, the next day H and I traveled a little farther north to a county named after a tributary thereof. It’s a little striking how much of German topography is named for streams and rivers instead of the other way around, like the Fulda or Heufurt closer to home that’s not where the hay, the straw can ford the stream (I would like to see that) but rather where there is an easy crossing on the Heu—and the name doesn’t refer to the weather, unlike the endless skies of this prairie land between the mountain ranges declaimed although feistier weather never materialised.
First we passed the ruins of a fortress on a hill called Münzenburg and stopped to visit. Unlike the name suggested to me, it was not a mint and the castle was built around 1160 by an administrator called Kuno I under contract of Emperor Barbarossa as a display of imperial power. The towers certainly dominated the otherwise flat landscape and was a treat to climb through the long-abandoned, neglected as other instruments of might became available, corridors and explore.
Next we came to the yet vibrant compound of the Cloister of Arnsburg, just outside of the town of Lich where the popular brand of Licher beer is brewed. The compound embraced by the course of the Wetter, whose mother cloister is in Eberbach, fell into ruin with the dissolution of the monasteries in 1806, but parts have since been restored and re-purposed, including a poignant courtyard that is a sombre resting place for soldiers and victims of the regime of terror of the Third Reich.
I can’t wait until we have the chance to next time make a little more familiar what’s in the range of this backyard (plus from different perspectives) and look forward to exploring much more.
The fact, however, that the venues where such things are shared are mostly unabashedly commercial ventures, the legal wranglings, suits and disappeared images would be soon to follow. Given that they are the bread and butter of the industry of sharing and of the gadgets that make this level of snapshots and selfies possible such candid postcards prompted this discussion—and probably gave someone a whiff of money to be made, it strikes me as ironic and necessary that there might be a degree of cooperation between those prying giants of the internet and their usual antagonists, the libertine Wikipedia and your friendly neighbourhood Pirate Party. It is strange to think of them being potentially on the same side. I imagine that the social media networks would wither on the vine should the environment become as restrictive about broadcasting one’s whereabouts (with pictures) as bootleg has become. Should the lawyers get their way, what is to stop it from progressing to even natural monuments, claimed as trade-mark by states unable to glean any tax-revenue off of those same internet giants that get off scot-free (which really does mean duty-free, hors taxes) though profiting greatly with local operations? Be sure to let people know how you feel about this and photograph everything as that’s the new graffiti.
Friday, 26 June 2015
colour-coding: three young people in the UK invent a condom that changes colours when it detects STDs, sort of like that Elfin dagger that glows in the presence of Orcs
zero, my hero: typoman, a gaming platform where the adventure hinges on switching single letters
snowden effect: majority of Germans no longer believe that USA respects personal freedoms
all gussied-up: interesting and in depth look at the history of cosmetics and glamour maven Helena Rubinstein
way-back: via the inestimable Kottke, an appreciation of the TimeMachine archives from a marketing and design angle
Thursday, 25 June 2015
As above, an even more transparent donation of the turn of the century was in artistic influence and sensibilities—the filigree and fretting found in surreal and psychedelic posters originated in the style of Secessionist artist Hugo Höppner, who was nicknamed Fidus (Faithful) for serving a jail sentence in protest over a trumped-up charge of indecent exposure. The themes and rich symbolism of Fidus are reflected in the graphic arts of the 1960s. The artist himself descended into obscurity with the outbreak of World War I, deprived of the periodicals to which he regularly contributed, including a magazine called Der Eigene—the Unique, the first (anarcho-) gay journal. Despite joining the Nazi party and securing a few commissions (and despite himself, Fidus agreed with some of their ideologies regarding racial purity and not just their esotericism and fashion sense), his studio was eventually shut down and his art condemned as degenerate. Around a decade after his death in 1948, Fidus’ collected works were re-discovered and became again symbolic of a sub-culture.
Wednesday, 24 June 2015
lovely rita, meter-maid: traffic cop in Karlsruhe tickets a public sculpture
imitation is the sincerest form of flattery: more DVD döppelgangers from Bob Canada
vexillology: a humorous look at the other US state flags that are in need of a face-lift
no fortunate son: the long history of artists requesting politicians not use their music for campaigning
ornamentation: eulogy for Don Featherstone, inventor of the pink flamingo
volksmedizin: collection of unusual health tips from Austria
best face forward: social networking giant is developing algorithms to identify people from their backsides (auch auf Deutsch)
on the bedpost overnight: an absurdist’s look at paparazzi culture, framing celebrities with an old wad of chewing gum
cats and dogs: collection of foreign idioms for heavy rain
turnip princess: apocryphal assortment of newly re-discovered fairy tales
Tuesday, 23 June 2015
The French edition of the English language daily, the Local, is tragically reporting that Ruby the Lamb, whose genes were spliced with those of a jellyfish in order to express proteins that would result in
transparent florescent skin, was apparently inadvertently slaughtered and served to some hapless diner.
Though rarely presented unmediated in its direct and unadulterated form, having been glossed and thoroughly pardoned by Church and civic scholastics through commentaries, the major difficulty in reconciling the philosophies of the ancients within the framework of medieval societies was the general notion of a detached, rational (and arrived at by rational means) divinity—as opposed to a personal and intervening one—and the idea that the soul was unperishing but not in the sense of individual souls.
effigy: from our wonderful friends at Nag-on-the-Lake, the Donald in piñata form
http 403: the Caliphate is making everything forbidden
religious pluralism: images of amazing ritual costumes of the neo-pagans of the British Isles
armillary: nicely curated collection of star maps from Atlas Obscura
Monday, 22 June 2015
Though one thinks of the format of the seven-segment display to have been a fairly recent concept, it predates the electronic control-panels, trusty alarm clocks, pocket calculators and home entertainment gadgets by decades—the design first patented in the USA as early as 1908 with illuminated instrument panels following just two years later. The rendering of numerals—calculator spelling with 1337 and the like—in such a manner was not thrust upon the public all at once, however, with the advent of the liquid crystal display (LED) but was already a familiar sight on the vertical totems of petrol stations, quoting the current price and in the distinctive flip-flap boards of departure terminals.
Before that watershed moment in European scholarship when the rediscovery of the classics ignited the Renaissance, the rebirth of Greek academics and inquiry, there was a parallel precedent that took place in the Caliphate of Baghdad some four centuries earlier that secured for secular and religious spheres the systems of mathematics, medicine, astronomy and circumspection that dominated both oriental and occidental thought for over a thousand years. Plato’s dialogues and the spectre of Socrates the gadfly did not exactly dislodge the Aristotelian approach to government, civics and philosophical inquiry—that only really came much later with the enlightenment and educational reform that conceded that while the rote exercises that Plato’s pupil prescribed were excellent dress-rehearsals, they failed to prompt anything progressive. No school of thought that endured any rigour or scepticism is so easily exhaustible, but Aristotle’s early and spectacular reintroduction may have proved all-consuming in that it did rather launch an important and sustaining tradition of independent and original research, which was wedged in Western scholastics as an idée fixe by early theologians who knew no other Greek thinkers.
Abbasid Caliph Abu Ja’far Abdullah al-Mamûn ibn Harun, who ruled Baghdad in the early ninth century, had a dream, reportedly, in which the figure of Aristotle came to him with assurances that Hellenic thought was not in opposition to Islam but very much compatible with it. Al- Mamûn’s successors disagreed, but for a not insignificant run, Baghdad’s House of Wisdom was the premier repository of knowledge and research facility in the world. Academics and original sources were gathered and brisk business of translation grew up around the institute, all administered by the patron caliph who oversaw the curriculum and debating societies to further the pursuits. Whether because of the vision or because Aristotle was more fastidious in organising his writing than most (all of his works were plainly titled as opposed to Plato’s where one could not claim to know what the piece was about in a word even after having read it through), the work began with the most practical topics—biology, taxonomy, geography and proceeded to the ethics and sociology. Before the flagging support for this place of learning of al-Mamûn’s descendants and its eventual destruction by the Mongol invasion in the Siege of Baghdad, perhaps they had set out to tackle the whole of classical-thought but the venture fell victim to its own success, so to speak, as more and more discoveries and derivative writings came out of that first systematic endeavour. In the informal environment of the House of Wisdom, new and inspiring works with tangible advances being made in mathematics, surgery, engineering, map-making and star-charts. Plato and the other rarefied luminaries must have seemed old-hat.
Sunday, 21 June 2015
Via Weird Universe comes a preview of the longest single piece of classical music yet composed, entitled Sleep by Max Richter.
Saturday, 20 June 2015
joey: kangaroos favour left-handedness and all of Nature exhibits this sort of chirality
beat the heat: researchers determine how silver ants of the Sahara survive the withering temperatures and imagine human applications
side by side-show: a look at the lives and career of conjoined twins, Daisy and Violet Hilton
conspicuous consumption: philosophical quandary on what the take-away might be for alien-observers on the very mundane subject of chewing-gum—being contraband Singapore seems very antithetical to our ritual
When the Queen and her consort come on a state-visit to Germany next week, they’ll be thronged by some adoring fans and followers. I wonder what sort of gifts will be exchanged. These two powerful women have everything but surely it will be something a little more dear and thoughtful than a bundle of DVDs her Majesty got that one time.
Friday, 19 June 2015
archidirectors: cinematic visionaries imagined as architecture
flying toasters: Dangerous Minds’ Dangerous Finds discovers that androids really do dream of dream of electronic sheep
de domús communis cura: condensed version and highlights of papal encyclical on environmental stewardship
b-moll: Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier performed by a twisting gallery of neon lights
If not for coming across an indirect quotation, I would have gone on believing that the saying “Hell is other people” was a lyric from a rock-song (I’m confusing “Hell is for children” I think) and a rather throw-away sentiment and not a line, in translation, from Jean-Paul Sartre’s one-act play No Exit. Just as words might serve us better if the title of the play Huis Clos weren’t rendered as Closed Door—or rather in chambers in the legal sense of private counsel that the phrase carries in French, it would have been truer to the original if Hell was understood as the Other.
straβenverkkehrsordnung: a unique roadway configuration and the technicalities of traffic regulations means that one stop light has been red for three decades in Dresden
four thousand holes in blackburn, lancashire: internet giant is checking computer reading-comprehension with conservative, sensational tabloids
electric babysitter: artist captures images of her children in listless, powerful moments of watching TV
raptor squat: honest-to-goodness zookeepers re-enacting pose from new Jurassic World
Thursday, 18 June 2015
rook to queen’s gherkin: the skyline of London in chess pieces
consider yourself part of the furniture: aspirational lamp aims to earns its keep, like a character in Pee-Wee’s Playhouse
border-control: colourful gallery of world’s passports
Wednesday, 17 June 2015
Quartz presents a really fascinating and under-appreciated glimpse on the strange, strained affair that the Chinese government has with Western social-networking heralds and mavens.
put the needle on the record: hard-won footage of a stylus on vinyl on a microscopic-scale
your moment of zen: cat serenely balances anything placed on her foot
spoiler-alert: Interstellar’s four-dimensional finale was filmed on an actual set, not just a computer-generated green-screen
atomic gardening: lethal doses of radiation have been used since the 1950s to create heartier, mutated food-crops
moai: neglected colossal US presidential busts in search of a home
Tuesday, 16 June 2015
The seller’s prospects and the success or failure of given titles to sell provided invaluable feedback and helped determined what would be reprinted and the character of the genre. These pamphlets covered all sorts of topic, most literate adults also trying their hands at writing—history, education, health, politics, travelogues, often through anecdotal and superficially consulted sources with a repetition and formulaic approach, and often bore the viral, most popular woodcuts of the day—whether that illustration had anything to do with the content or not. Though much criticised as pap for the masses, the surviving bulk of these booklets are cultural artefacts that reveal aspects of life during the Renaissance that would not have been preserved elsewhere.
flight-path: merry prankster living near an airport welcomes fretful passengers to the wrong city
prefab: Chinese engineers and architects construct flat-pack skyscrapers in record time
the place of shining light: holographic projector used to recreate the Bamiyan Buddha
identity politics: 1967 Mike Wallace documentary on the homosexuals
I am not positive that the so-called chimerical colours aren’t an explanation of that dress and the phenomena doesn’t truly strike me as an optical illusion and something more akin to a more intense exercise than one subjects his or her eyes to, but nonetheless catching a fleeting glimpse of the stygian colours—that is something both dark and super-saturated, is something to behold. There are other flavours of colours outside the visual gamut, what can be displayed, reproduced, or seen due to the structure of our eyes or even imagined in the conventional sense, but these contrasting hues and resultant impossible blue are suggestive of the mythological river Styx that separated the world of the living from the underworld.
Monday, 15 June 2015
I used to pass this charity hospital chapel (Spitäle Kirche) that’s been converted into a gallery space for local artists in Würzburg almost on a daily basis while I was discovering the city.
Writing for the Daily Beast, columnist Ben Collins, together with humourist and author Jon Ronson, confronts the grave and impending travesty of social-justice that social-media is courting to the detriment and inattention of most of the other potentially positive aspects of these different venues.
Driving back for the work-week—the weekends are always too short but the intervening time does not drag on too awfully—I decided to take the scenic route which we’d just traced the day before, exploring Lohr and that narrow projection of Bavaria that extends into Hessian territory all the way to Aschaffenburg.
It certainly was a more pleasant experience than rumbling along the Autobahn and I took the chance to stop in the town of Gemünden am Main—so named because it is where the tributaries of the Sinn and Frankish Saale empty (the streams’ mouths) into the River Main. Naturally this confluence was a strategically important spot and sometime in the early thirteenth century the Count of Rieneck erected this castle and keep as a toll-station to control traffic and trade along the waterways.
Only ruins of Schloβ Schreneburg remain but the view is an impressive one and is now a venue for open-air concerts and a home for bats. Competing claims on the land by the dioceses of Würzburg and Fulda, especially after the line of the family Rieneck went extinct, even saw the construction of successively higher castles on the rolling hills above Scherenburg, since levelled, to dominate the Main below. The waterways are still important components of the transportation infrastructure for the region, and the rail-links that run parallel supplement the connections. I think I’ll start taking this route more often in fair weather and get a better taste of what’s here for us to discover.