Monday, 31 October 2016

macguffin

Not to diminish the acclaim or original nature of Black Mirror, which makes us confront our relations to technology and convenience in the same way shows like the Twilight Zone or the Outer Limits made us question our tenuous hold on reality and moral uprightness, I think I’d like to preview this adaptation inspired by Roald Dahl’s collection of short stories, thrillers for adults. Despite running for eleven seasons, I have no recollection of Tales of the Unexpected—the plot summaries of the episodes do sound archetypal, not formulaic, and leave the view challenged and draw his or her own conclusions.

phreaking

Lately the term “dog-whistle” has taken on a purely figurative meaning for veiled code words that a signals a political response to those in the know, however, apparently marketers are adopting a very literal feature outside of the human range of hearing to gather and spread demographic information about potential consumers without their knowledge—with potential for much more invasive acts.
Though the method is comparatively an indirect one, it made me think of the subliminal messages embedded in movies to make people salivate and seek refreshment—and then perhaps as a closer parallel was the earlier experimental techniques of phreakers, playing a sequence of tones into headsets to commandeer telephone networks and make free long-distance calls. There’s surely nothing savoury in ultrasonic hacking and while the big telecoms may have seen nothing redeeming in “toll fraud” that undercut their profits, the founders of Apple and other industry luminaries got their start in this community.

reprise or i know what my people are thinking tonight

The doggedly diligent campaign reporters of Nation Public Radio’s Politics Podcast have been working virtually non-stop during this entire physically and emotional taxing election cycle in America, serving up a refreshingly thoughtful and reflective reporting on the election despite the usual common discourse and the pace of change. Now they’re working even harder with daily broadcasts, but recently to bridge the weekend presented a really interesting episode from this summer that I’d missed before—before all these dread realities began to coalesce and was not a regular listener. Encore examines the role of music—specifically musical theatre in the shaping of campaigns and presidencies.
I knew that FDR with “Happy Days are Here Again” (Chasing Rainbows, 1930) and Truman with “I’m just Wild about Harry” (Shuffle Along, 1921—for addressing social justice questions) had capitalized on popular, feel-good songs of their day—just like other rallying standards, but I didn’t realise that the Kennedy White House did not become characterised as Camelot organically but rather became known as such because the Lerner and Loewe Broadway production about to be adapted to film was so popular. Musical numbers might not have the same purchase on cultural currency as they did in decades past—at least not one that’s immediately recognisable—having been replaced by other power-ballads, but it’s interesting how the discussion touches on one candidate’s invoking of songs from The Phantom of the Opera as part of his regular playlist (plus some number with those damn dancing cats, whereas perhaps “Tomorrow belongs to Me” from Cabaret may work better) because of his connection to New York and the Great White Way, and the other who backed away from her rather accidental though intended as flattering comparison to Eva Perón.

it's the great pumpkin, charlie brown

PfRC wishes you and yours a very happy Hallowe’en, an abundance of tricks and treats and thanks for visiting.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

5x5

the pet collective: omnibus of video clips of humans supportive of animals behaving oddly

bird’s eye: a collection of stunning satellite photographs of diverse, manmade landscapes

colour guard: Richard Nixon though the Secret Service ought to have fancy uniforms, like the palace details of other countries

unterirdisch überleben: a tour of Lucerne’s still operational, massive fall-out shelter

althing: tiny Iceland has no fewer than seven viable political parties and will now have a governing coalition that includes the Pirate Party 

Saturday, 29 October 2016

hauntology

As a ghost story of sorts for the season, we take a look at the interesting if not inattentive trials of one parapsychologist in the 1960s who tried to induce psychical experiences by dressing up as a moaning, menacing apparition in various locations, including a cemetery and the (captive) audience of an adult film cinema.
Of the dozens the passed by or saw the spirit manifest itself in the theatre, disappointingly hardly any registered his presence, with just one or two recalling something that didn’t quite fit—an errant polar bear or an error with the projector perhaps—and one individual purposefully avoiding a man in a sheet. I always found it rather incredulous that not everyone screening the same clip noticed the walk on role of the gorilla (on a unicycle, with pom-poms or what have you) as cited, but never thought seeing that and not calling it out was anywhere near household pets detecting ghosts or the pre-tremors of an earthquake (given I owe that I miss a lot of other obvious, glaring things), and I’m sure that going without acknowledgement after all that effort must have been frustrating. Perhaps that’s why the scary clowns of today have gotten so aggressively hammy. The conclusions of this study held that an experimental, simulated haunting could not elicit the psychic contagion of a genuine one, which sounds pretty reasonable to me.

geomancy

A very clever artist and architect in Tokyo is being honoured the country’s most prestigious design award for his world map—which, through some geometric transformations, finally corrects to a great extent for the distortions of Mercator-projection on a flat surface, the so called polar flair that makes Greenland look bigger than Africa. Find out more about the Authagraph map at the link up top.

log lady

It was some weeks before I saw and greeted our new upstairs neighbour. She advertised on the letterbox that she was an Aruvedic masseuse, although I don’t think she has sessions in her apartment and has in any case been quiet and largely unseen.
Recently, just before I encountered her for the first time, she decorated the landing in front of our door and by the steps leading up to her apartment with a zen frog figurine and a few pieces of driftwood. That made me think, fondly, of the Margaret Lanterman (better known as the Log Lady) character on Twin Peaks—played by Catherine Coulson†, who was very protective of her familiar. Finally meeting the new neighbour, I realised that they bore more than a passing resemblance, in looks and demeanour.

block chain

Rather inscrutably, the Swiss railway announced that the public, travelling or otherwise, will be able to purchase the virtual currency bitcoin at all ticket kiosks of their extensive network. Valued currently at nearly seven hundred francs per coin, customers will be able to purchase in fractional denominations as well, but not with absolutely anonymity as an electronic wallet would need to be set up—though cash can still flow with a much higher degree of liquidity since no banks are involved. Though some cities in Switzerland, notable the public services of Zug, accept bitcoin for payments, train passengers won’t be able to pay for their fare with this particular tender.

under construction

Via Kottke, we discover the Internet Archive’s special curation of content indexed in the discontinued Yahoo! GeoCities platform, whose community created millions of rather pioneering features that have seeded the internet, including page templates, MIDI sounds and of course millions of GIFs. Give it a try and uncover some classic and nostalgic snap-shots—simply typing in “gif” yields some very good search results.

dyson sphere or cepheid variable

SETI, after receiving a significant grant from a wealthy donor, is turning its focus on a very particular and peculiar target—a star whose notice first caught the attention of astrophysicist Tabetha Boyajian (hence Tabby’s Star) for its strange peaks and dips in brightness.
These changes in luminosity are too drastic and irregular to be caused by transiting planets and has caused some to suggest that the star harbours around it an alien megastructure, which either partially or fully encloses the host star to capture all of the radiation it emits. The hypothetical engineering was elaborated by mathematician Freeman Dyson as the inevitable consequence of technological advance and the need for sustainable energy. Civilisations, faced with the prospect of being host to a dying or unstable sun, may even cling unseen and shielded from the Cosmos beyond to the inside surface of a sphere that’s been built to completely surround the star at the right distance to sustain life and utilities but perhaps over the æons, the diameter of the enclosure shrinks to grow closer to the flickering heat. I wonder how those later generations, distantly removed from the original project, might think of their Universe.

Friday, 28 October 2016

4x4

hydroptère: ecological, flying river taxis to be tested on the Seine

urban decay: one photographer watched the same ensemble of buildings over four decades 

home bodies: one wife’s desperate plea to re-elect her husband to get him out of the house

internyet: the story behind how the Soviets conceived the world wide web and how the idea was derailed by the same challenges we face presently

Thursday, 27 October 2016

ashes to ashes

Rather jarringly but with the message that last rites should not be nihilistic—or pantheistic—the Vatican has issued a prohibition against the scattering of cremains to the winds or dividing the ashes among family and friends as final keepsakes.
Although Church doctrine—just since 1963—allows cremation burial is preferable and earthly remains should be deposited on consecrated grounds and the grave-goods ought not kept in an urn on the mantle. Having lived in Germany for a long time, such morbid license that’s allowable in America does seem a little strange and quite other. What do you make of all this? As many amongst us are loathe to shuffle off this amortal coil, it is an uncomfortable thing to think about how we’d like to be celebrated.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

tate and stevens or target audience

A-historically but surely born out of relatable frustration, a Parisian advertising agency Graphéine imagines how some of the most iconic works of art commissioned for movies, album covers and book covers might come out if they had been subject to modern clients and sponsors with an eye towards demographics and marketing standards. This opening credit sequence from Saul Bass would certainly not be as alluring and effective for setting the mood.

slam-dunk

Thanks to the always marvelous Nag on the Lake, we’re given to ponder on the meta-consumer character of these 3D printed earrings, designed to catch cordless headphones when they inevitably (they say, although I’ve never liked using any sort of ear-bud) dislodge from ones ears. Without judging the merit of this concept, which I think is pretty clever for the niche or failing it redresses, the brilliance of this “product” is that it’s only a concept that one can make, reinvent or not. How do you think greater access to 3D printing technology is going to change the relationship between consumers and manufacturers and potential be a disruptive factor all around.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

district nine or house in the rock

If it weren’t for the assurances of the intrepid crew of Amusing Planet, I’d also fear that a War of the Worlds’ style tripod was being activated after æons of hibernation in order to conquer the Earth in the Helsinki district of Töölö, but this view from above is the half buried Temppeliaukio Church, excavated directly into solid rock.
From above ground only the copper dome with its skylight of this structure, planned originally during the 1930s (though not inspired by the radio drama that scared a lot of people out of their wits in 1938 since the alien invaders didn’t emerge from under our feet in the originally but rather from Mars) and was finally realised in 1969, alliteratively, by brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen, first consecrated as Taivallahti. In addition to regular church services, the church is also a popular concert venue owing to its excellent acoustic properties.

Monday, 24 October 2016

monocot

I like the big, healthy leaves on this orchid. I think if one were to start to show it something shocking, it would reply, “Excuse me, I need to adjust my bang.”

@neuroghetto

The excellent Neurocritic presents an updated and comprehensive survey of some really interesting, current independent blogs on the matters of psychiatry, psychology and the mind.
Although it’s more likely for algorithms to be the topic of conversation, we humans still do retain a skill-set, a problem-solving paradigm that can be mimicked but not wholly imparted since it’s not fully reducible to data or what’s trending: heuristics mean hunting around for a solution, experimenting and being dogmatic and intuitive when perfect, ideal results aren’t forthcoming. This is a very different strategy from the way machines think and as much and so long as computers may care to parse nuanced decision-making (the need to be convincing to a human audience would seem to have a limit that’s within reach and there’s no more need for pretending) and possibly, practically the one abiding mystery that human behaviour could secret away. This is the stuff of neuroscience. Browse through the different feeds and I’ll vouch for certain that you’ll find something to pique your interests.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

finn maccool or disunited kingdom

I appreciated the controversy that the outcome of the Brexit referendum had regionally for the United Kingdom, with a significant majority of Scotland and Northern Ireland voting to remain. I understood how the Scots might try again to declare independence and that Northern Ireland has the only land border with a European Union member, but did not realise just how thorny it was.
Not only is it an unpalatable prospect to have frontiers returned between the exclave of the UK and the Irish Republic and create obstacles to movement and trade, the Republic has extended the right of citizenship to any resident of the island in hopes of reconciliation and ultimate union after so many years of violence and animosity. So called Peace Lines partition sections of Belfast and Londonderry, cities still divided by sectarianism long after the wall came down in Berlin. What would it mean to the notion of dominion if seven out of every ten adults chose to see past historical difference and protest against very recent developments that don’t play their self-interests and trade their allegiances? I am not sure how Britain would react to a de facto reunification.

tiny hand

Though perhaps the attributing the pictured typeface sampler to its signatory would be wholly antithetical to those who’d champion the importance of good penmanship and the atrophying effects of typing all the time (the person behind this font is said not to be overly fond of computers, except for their ability to spew out hate-fuelled attacks against his opposition), but recognising the æsthetics of one US presidential contender’s handwriting (a little bit like Disney, superficially) one type founder (threats of legal action to follow) created a font out of it. The typeface can be downloaded here and is of course called Tiny Hand.

7x7

brettspiel: a look into the biggest international board game convention, held in Essen

big, no—huge: Brooklynites create a Zoltar-like fortune-telling machine (from the Tom Hanks’ movie) in the form of a vitriolic presidential candidate

it means heir to the kingdom: faced with slumping bookings one hotel and resort chain is rebranding itself as “Scion”

my name’s not baby—it’s Janet, Ms Jackson because you’re nasty: Weird Al Yankovic moderates a bizarro, musical version of the final presidential debate

mercator reflection: a tour of the stained-glass Mapparium of Boston that gives visitors perhaps a new global perspective

wind in your sails: sometimes swans will just coast along

enunciation: interesting and rather baffling test for prospective radio-announcers, with what was considered the standard and accepted pronunciation and stress at the time 

extra, extra

As one popular social mediator is making it harder for the publishers of yellow journalism—the click-bait, catchpenny variety which ironically the internet giant fostered and prompted in the first place—makes it harder to gain a purchase within their walled-garden, some outlets are turning to celebrities—some prominent and popular ones with a following and some, well not so much—to shill for them. One can assume that the revenue gained by increased traffic out-weights what they pay for celebrity endorsement, but one can never be sure about this sort of economic model. What do you think? Would you unfriend someone for failing to disclose their financial arrangements so far as sharing what’s newsworthy goes?

legacy software

Corroborated with the US Government Accounting Office’s (GAO) annual report, the Simpsons have been vilified in accusing the Internal Revenue Service (the IRS, the tax authority) of operating the “slowest, punch-cardiest” computer in the government—at least, in one sense.
Those who work for the government have enjoyed heretofore some measure of job-security in knowing that their position is justified because different, entrenched systems cannot communicate with one another and need human translators—or at least water-bearers, but often it’s not the equipment, the hardware that’s wholly off life-cycle. Those laurels can be awarded to the nuclear defence platforms running on the same mainframes since inception and cannot be taken offline for updates and payroll systems. They may not be the most sophisticated but that does not necessarily mean that a system that goes on working for decades, with proper maintenance, ought to be overhauled for the sake of efficiency or intelligibility—since they are impervious to attack (at least the lazy, automated kind) and there might be an element of self-preservation in the programming, like the Voyager space probes exploring the Cosmos as our competent ombudsmen.

portfolio

From an architect disrobed astride a donkey, to mock crime-scenes to a tour of the property from a feline perspective, dezeen showcases some of the most unconventional real estate photographs meant to grab the attention of prospective buyers with jarring details.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

bashnet or the hunting of the snark

There’s no evidence that the massive internet outage that did not just affect single platforms but rather significant geographical swathes of access by a coordinated and sophisticated assault on one of the structural switchboards is the work of those that might want to disrupt the US election.

It is, however, certainly a foretaste of how the smartening up of every aspect of our lives might have been not well thought through and how everything from car-pooling, couch-surfing, ordering a la carte, grocery-lists and free-wheeling banking might needn’t have been untethered from one thing to be tied to a conspiracy to make our days seamless and coordinated. If allowed to remain an ad hoc and arguably unnecessary network of interlaced parking meters, baby-monitors, or fast-food tray liners, then we there’s a huge front of least resistance to exploit, and hackers can deploy unlimited foot soldiers in the form of botnets that can’t be easily repelled and countermeasures can be countermanded. If the internet becomes subject to takedown, does the growing reliance on the Internet of Things become a handicap and a liability? What do you think? If this temporary static elicited such a panic, it’s hard to imagine what a true and sustained outage might look like—although, thankfully, we wouldn’t of course be posting live about it.

fall foilage

Of course, the turning leaves of the trees are delightful but so too can be vines and ivy, like this rather spectacularly vibrant creeper with mixed colours that I saw scaling the side of a building.

hug of death or one ring to rule them all

Quaintly and soberingly, we’re reminded that the internet is controlled by seven individuals (plus their understudies) who are stewards of seven keys, meeting quarterly in a ceremony steeped with ritual to verify and update the underlying architecture of the web and ensure that no one could make changes unanimously.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Number (ICANN), which recently absorbed the protective redundancy built into the Domain Name System (DNS) when the US relinquished control earlier in the year, is the unglamourous sounding metonymic monarch that’s accorded all this pomp and circumstance and this level of security. With as de-centralised as the internet is, it’s a little hard to appreciate the role of this obscure office, but it’s akin to the clearing houses that control banking transfers, establishing a naming-conversion and turning strings of numbers into addresses that people can recall and without their oversight, internet sites could experience denial of service attacks where so much traffic is redirected to one site, its servers are overloaded and the site shuts down—the hug of death, or imposter sites could be more easily fabricated to siphon off user data. We owe it to ourselves, I think, to try to understand this strange and inscrutable cabal a little better.

Friday, 21 October 2016

vanity gallery

Recalling once that a professor espoused the opinion that Soviet elements had infiltrated the Peacenik anti-war movements of the Vietnam and this support (both fiduciary and ideologically) was made manifest by the quality and artistry of the protest posters that they carried, I enjoyed this guided tour of the not so secret but still politically covert gallery of the CIA’s art collection. Though the rationale behind the particular patronage of abstract expressionists may be rather tamely selected due to the style of the day of when the headquarters were completed in the late 1950s, we learnt nonetheless that the intelligence agency funded and promoted—unbeknownst to the artists themselves, the likes of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, in additional to the creators of the canvases that adorn the agency corridors.
Who knew? This is leagues better than most patriotic pictures of soaring eagles and flags—with long titles like “Why are there no knock-knock jokes about America? Because Freedom rings, by damnit!” Made available to the viewing public (at last and at least through the power of the internet and thanks to Hyperallergic), there was also an element of propaganda at work, making the statement that America was unbounded by tradition and fostered such licence and even showcased that freedom by loaning artwork out to a sort of travelling exhibition to Iron Curtain countries—despite being inaccessible to the American museum-goers. Be sure to visit this excellent and privileged curation at the link above.

flicker-fusion threshhold

A laboratory at the University of Tokyo is developing some amazing dynamic projection mapping technology that can beam any image onto any surface and adjust to seamlessly match and correspond to any movement at a rate of thousand frames per second. We’ve encountered this sort of presentation in a mostly virtual environment beforehand (or in a purely augmented reality) but never one that quite outstripped the limits of our perception so well. What sort of applications can you imagine? See video demonstrations courtesy of Laughing Squid.

flight-path or airportraits

I’ve been admiring these sleek composite images of planes taking off and landing from airports from photographer Mike Kelley.
Of course the artist had to camp at each location for a few days to amass the right shots, angles and approaches—though probably not all that long considering the volume of air-traffic, and I notice that one of his arrangements captures a milieu that’s very familiar as I drive past the Frankfurt Flughafen on the Autobahn twice a week. Sometimes, by ones and twos only though, a jet will pass overhead and seem incredibly close and looming but I never try to capture that moment, as I don’t need any further distractions while driving. One of these days, I’ll figure out how to safely perch myself in the field or on the overpass. Read more about Kelley’s technique and travels on Colossal.

indented writing

Much to everyone’s dismay, a blind novelist in Dorset who commits her to ink and paper to later have them transcribed had a creative spurt that ran for twenty-six pages before realising her pen had run dry.
I’m sure the moment after the experience of hitting “save” rather than “save as” does not begin to frame that feeling of love’s labour lost, but the solution was rather an elegant and befittingly creative one. Her friends and family had the wherewithal to turn to the local police office for help and the forensics team using a technique called electrostatic detection were able to recover the text from the impressions of the indented writing that her inkless pen left on the page.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

pharmacopoea

As we face a medical crisis that threatens to return health care to pre-industrial levels, researchers have been scouring the natural world for novel compounds that have not yet been overcome by anti-microbial resistance (here, read about how that dragnet might be extended with citizen science)—as even the most potent in our limited quiver of antibiotics have been vanquished due to our abuse and overuse. Scientists and care-takers in Australia have discovered that the milk of Tasmanian devils have six-fold the immunity boosters of human milk and can combat some of the most dread pathogens that linger in what ought to be the cleanest of places. I wonder if these carnivorous marsupials might one day be our salvation and it really punctuates the fact that we diminish any part and parcel of Nature at our peril, since who knows what’s already been lost.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

royal remembrancer

Every year in early October the city of London for the past eight centuries the city of London pays a symbolic, token rent to the monarch of six horseshoes, sixty-one nails, an axe and a knife plus eleven pounds sterling. The office of Remembrancer of the Crown was established in order to keep tabs on rents and assizes, although the whereabouts of these specific properties are time out of mind. Other estates around England are stipulated to annually or situationally render such things as a single white rose, a French flag, port wine, or a straw bed for visiting dignitaries.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

artoo-deco

Author and artisan Kurt W Zimmerman has crafted an retro R2 unit in a style that evokes the Art Deco movement. Zimmerman uses his droids (this one also being radio-controlled and naturally makes all  the boops and blips that we expect and understand) and other custom props to inspire school children and visit the hospital-bound to and fund raise for raise charitable contributions.

tables and triage

Before the design duo created furnishings that defined the Mid-Century Modern era, Charles and Ray Eames developed splints, prosthetics and a body litter (a stretcher, a gurney) for the US Navy ahead of America’s entry into World War II.
More on the Eames’ other surprising projects here and here. The skills honed in mass-producing these medical devices conferred on them the talent and feel for working plywood that was expressed a few years later in their iconic, undulating lounges. Every item in this chain, from the form-fitting splint that could protect a wounded leg to the classic chairs, reflects real homage to the human body and how it carries itself. Take a peek at the splints as part of an exhibition in Leeds courtesy of Hyperallergic that explores the place of sculpture and design in prosthetic limbs and the process of healing and making whole.

step-by-step

Although it may have seemed like adding insult to injury to field-test the innovative idea of incremental architecture in a community just devastated by an earthquake to deliver half-houses, but as Kottke shares with this fascinating look into the subject, perhaps sometimes it takes a crisis to exploit and explore other option, like this neighbourhood in Chile that is not typical public housing. By furnishing a new resident with not a completely finished home but rather an on-going project that can be developed according to how one’s family grows or according to one’s trade, people aren’t just occupants—temporary or long-term—and become co-creators and invested in the building.

merseyside

The only acceptable reclama that for changing a duly christened ship’s namesake would be of course to honour a living and buoyant luminary like Sir David Attenborough. Boaty McBoatface does not go away entirely, however, as one of the auxiliary vessels of this scientific ship, now the RRS Sir David Attenborough and forever twain, is called the “Boaty.”

Monday, 17 October 2016

sietch

Working in conjunction with UC Berkeley and the Peace Corps, a San Francisco-based laboratory has produced a prototype atmospheric well that, powered by wind alone, can harvest litres of clean water. The Water Seer’s turbine push air into a buried condensation chamber (cache) to be collected as needed and is a completely closed system, requiring no extra plumbing or purification-process—very similar to the techniques that Frank Herbert described for the Fremen of the desert world of Arrakis.

filibuster

Consulting the extensive archives of Doctor Caligari’s Cabinet, we learn on this day in 1939, Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington had its premiere, first shown in the US capital.


Our faithful chronicler provides the additional anecdote that when American films were banned in occupied France a couple years later, many cinemas screened the Jimmy Stewart and Jean Arthur movie as their last picture show before the ban went into effect. One theatre even played it continuously for a month leading up to the prohibition. (More here via Messy Nessy Chic on the entertainment scene of Paris under the Nazis.) You can watch the entire classic at the link up top but I’d suggest that movie theatres might treat audiences to a healthy dose of Democracy before that country votes.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

where are the clowns? there ought to be clowns

As if there weren’t already enough pratfalls in politics to contend with or itches to scratch potentially violently in America with a fully-armed populace confronted with hunters of virtual monsters running across their lawns, a viral phenomenon of scary clowns lurking in the shadows, apropos of nothing, with the express intention of frightening others out of their wits has arisen—and been exported to where ever people might express their gratitude for living in a society of privilege and free from want in such ways. What do you think? Far from agents of social justice nor a group that had not already been established as creepy and menacing, professional clowns are now apparently saying their trade is being besmirched, with prominent spokes-clowns ducking out of the public-eye until this craze passes.

my mate marmite

Though it seems we have narrowly averted what could only be described as Marmageddon with the one of the main grocery chains in the UK and a major, multi-national food producer having reached a compromise on the pricing regimes of its suite of brands after an unstable currency and costs fluctuations threatened to make the country’s beloved (or reviled) breakfast-spread a little harder to obtain, the bigger and mostly unseen problem of overhead, profit-margins, product-placement and price-controls still remain.
Consumers and smaller producers without the leverage (because it’s Unilever, you see) of these titans are still not off the hook. Of course, such dealings are happening all the time and could have occurred regardless of the Brexit outcome—but that contentious milieu only made the negotiations or bullying visible—and the industry turns on the subsidies of Milk Trusts and Egg Councils and the greased recommendations that favour processed foods over more wholesome ones without the influence of vertical monopolies. What do you think? I’ll bet that this isn’t the last spat in the supermarket aisles.

zenith in blue jeans

Following the tradition marketing wisdom of the 1970s, any product could be made better once swathed in denim, as Weird Universe informs, showcasing this limited edition television model called the Sidekick from Zenith. Be sure to visit the website for more details plus a related link to a Gremlin automobile upholstered in Levi’s jeans from around the same time.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

октябрьский сюрприз

Regardless of how all the reporting seems rather dodgily recursive, leaning on sources that that sit as murky at best (if not deliberate disinformation), I cannot see any reason for the US to announce, advertise plans for retaliatory network strikes against Russia, accusing the Kremlin of meddling in American domestic affairs.
If the Russian government did sponsor the hacking of the Democratic National Committee servers and is the source of Clinton campaign internal communiques being slowly leaked (which still seems debatable with the facts as presented), the US received no notice, no advanced warning. Why would it make its offensive manoeuvres public and directly attributable? Moreover why risk escalation in the name of restoring the reputation of Democracy—which domestic politics has slandered quite well enough on its own and without any foreign intervention? It is not as if US intelligence agents state that their assault will coerce Russia into accords on Syria, but rather, they hope it will aid in strengthening Russia’s press ability to research and report on corruption at the top, and embarrass leaders by exposing their economic ties. Well, knock me over with a feather.

know thy selfie

The always captivating Everlasting Blört directs our attention to brief but informative and thoughtful lesson from PBS on the art history of the selfie with examples of self-portraiture that punctuate the entire time that photography has been with us, and indeed have forwarded the technique and technology. There’s a whole engrossing lecture series of Art Assignments that follow that are all worth checking out.

salone del mobile

Thanks to Fast Company, we learn that the late David Bowie was a grand patron of the Memphis-Milano movement having amassed a sizable collection with signature pieces from artists like Peter Shire and Ettore Sottsass.
The collection is so extensive and representative of the group’s work, Bowie’s furniture will be given its own auction and one can preview the lots at the link. Comprised chiefly Italian designers, they took the name Memphis, incidentally, after hearing the Bob Dylan song “Stuck inside of Mobile (furnishing as well as a city in Alabama) with the Memphis Blues Again.”

fontana del vino

Miraculously, as fellow enthusiast Nag on the Lake reports, a fountain that flows continuously with red wine free to any weary souls wanting to slake their thirst has just been inaugurated in the village of Caldari di Ortona in Abruzzo along the Adriatic coast. Hospitably, the local vineyard that supplies and is behind this permanent installation insists that it is not a mere publicity stunt nor an invitation to loiter (but perhaps linger) but a wayside retreat for pilgrims travelling between Rome and Ortona going to see the relics of Thomas the Apostle, enshrined at the cathedral there after his mission to India.

Friday, 14 October 2016

verge and verder

An ingenious Canadian farm equipment manufacturer has a tree-spade on offer that can gently up-root grown trees for transplanting. I had no idea that this was even an option and ought to be a mandated part of any new construction project—saddening to think that the pace of sprawl overtook our abilities to mechanise silviculture (except for the felling bit) so quickly and without a glance over our collective shoulder. Go to the link to see a video demonstration of these amazing machines from Dutchman in action.

lingo

Hellenologophobia is a fun word we learned that signifies fear of (and it’s pretty easy to deconstruct in hindsight) Greek terminology—by extension, anything unfamiliar, inscrutable or complex, adverse to jargon. Relatedly, there’s the not so easily prised apart sesquipedalophobia (literally Latin for a “foot and a half long”) and the monstrous and intimidating hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia, both meaning fear of long words, the above length referring to poetic metre.

stök plóma, fljótandi í ilmvatni, borin fram í karimannshatti

In addition to the annual lighting of the Imagine Peace Tower over the last weekend on Viðey Island in Reykjavík bay on the occasion of John Lennon’s birthday, the beams illuminating the skies (and beaming wishes of goodwill all across the universe) for the next two months—to be extinguished on the anniversary of his assassination—with Iceland being originally chosen as host for its ecological thermal energy and general good governance, Yoko Ono has several other concomitant art projects going on in the country. Ono also solicited tributes from local artists, and humourously Ragnar Kjartansson presented her with an elaborate Simpsons’ meta-reference, to Ms Ono’s delight.