Wednesday, 31 May 2017

flash in the pan

Apparently legions of a virtual robot army are massing to fight under the banner of Dear Leader with the ranks of these fraudulent accounts growing by half a million per week.
Despite the suspected anæmic constitution of such a following, it remains unclear what these ditto marks hope to influence and where the recruitment campaign is focused—if indeed in one place. With just over one half of Dear Leader’s current supporters on his social media platform of choice thought to be real and authentic (a ratio that has climbed significantly since the US presidential election and spikes whenever impeachment is discussed), one has to wonder who is behind the messaging and to what ends. It’s not just ditto marks all the way down, and perhaps it is another ploy to distract public attention from the investigation into Russian meddling in the US election—maybe lifting a play from their own script. While such tactics may have influenced the outcome in an election in unexpected ways, measures of engagement are not the same as ballot-stuffing when it comes to arguments against an ouster.

parforce

Recently H and I had a chance to visit a pair of monumental hunting lodges whose architecture and ceremonial follies illustrated how the occupation become leisurely pursuit of the powerful of the hunt was a way of reinforcing fealty and was a metric of noble means beginning in the Middle Ages (parforce hunting) and articulated as a social arena for centuries thereafter.
The great wooded area around the village of Wermsdorf was a royal park for many generations and there was an ancient though modest lodge there already—but as existing accommodations were proving inadequate to impress visiting dignitaries, August II. der Starke (called the Strong for his physical strength that could apparently break horseshoes bare-handed and won him prizes in the prince-elector bracket of competitive fox-tossing—literally and as cruel as it sounds) commissioned the construction of the Hubertusburg (announced on the feast day of Saint Hubertus—3 November—who is the patron of hunters and the vision that led to his conversion is popularised in the Jägermeister logo) to showcase his family’s power.

The prince-bishops were not only instrumental in choosing the emperor, the leader of reformationist Saxony was also the king of Poland and the grand duke of Lithuania through martial unions that honoured the traditions of those brought into the fold—exemplified in the Catholic court chapel that was rather unique in the region and is the only room to have escaped plunder and destruction.
Lavish, choreographed hunts continued at the Hubertusburg, whose grounds and layout was favourably compared to Versailles—the quarry of choice being deer—up until the outbreak of that first global conflict, the Seven Years’ War, in 1755—whose own chambers saw the peace treaty that brought its end as well as the French-Indian War.
The residential palace never wholly its former glory and was at times used as a sanitarium and prison and even a porcelain factory. Presently, the trappings of the hunt are re-enacted by skilled equestrians and enthusiasts who dress up in period costumes, but mercifully the hounds are put on to the scent of human decoys to pursue through the forest—harming no one in the end.
The other hunting lodge we visited was Schloss Moritzburg, an earlier Baroque example also set in the midst of a favoured game preserve not far from the royal capital of Dresden. Constructed on an artificial island, the quatrefoil design reminds me of the Seehof of Memmelsdorf by Bamberg, it served a similar function with protocol and entertaining dignitaries.
A showroom of course for hunting trophies, the collections quickly expanded to display pieces side by side to compare Japanese and Chinese ceramics with Meißen faience. Later an ensemble of other buildings were added to the parkgrounds, including a Rococo pavilion called the Little Pheasant Castle (Fasanenschlösschen) that’s meant to invoke an Oriental style and despite Saxony’s landlocked state, it’s one and only lighthouse—for when the occasional mock naval battles were conducted in the lakes that bordered the gardens.

Friday, 26 May 2017

sabbatical

We here at PfRC are taking a short leave-of-absence—or at least a reduction in posting frequency, over the next few days for some housekeeping and a short but much needed vacation. Stayed tuned for more adventures same time, same station.

böse, sehr böse

With truly surpassing bravado and despite attempts to demonstrate to him otherwise, Dear Leader insists on his false narrative that all other NATO members are dead-beats for not honouring the members’ dues—as if this were his tacky White House in the swamp—which is not the case as these proportional contributions do not go into effect for a few years yet and western European members participate in ways far more constructive than maintaining standing armies.
There’s enough military-spending and posturing as it is. Over these imagined short-falls, Dear Leader intimated that the US would begrudge holding up member-states’ mutual defence pact, having already demonstrated his zest for throwing Montenegro under the bus and we’re left to wonder what other former Soviet-satellite might share a similar faith. The other twenty-seven NATO members seemed rather bemused to be scolded—including Germany which received a special chiding over its perceived trade imbalance with the US—too many German cars flooding the market. Apparently Jean-Paul Junckers’ stamina had not been totally spent on trying to teach Theresa May some expectation management and tried to make Dear Leader’s misapprehension a sort of an object lesson in the way the other bloc on the continent, the European Union, operates—offering that Germany as a member does not set manage its export targets and no country can enter into a tariff agreement with another. Never mind that a lot of these automobiles are built in US factories.  For his part Dear Leader would like to see supranational institutions like the EU demolished because the US has better leverage over individual countries than over broader unions and has publicly backed politicians who want to weaken the EU’s powers.

she’s got electric boots, a mohair suit


Singer, song-writer duo Sir Elton John and Bernie Taupin have collaborated with several film-makers to produce music videos to three of their iconic songs over forty years after their initial release. Go to this link to see all three songs—the others being Rocket Man and Tiny Dancer, other numbers like Crocodile Rock achieved perfection already with a guest appearance on the Muppet Show—and learn about their production and choreography, which in the featured video reminded me of the Triadic Ballet of the Bauhaus movement.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

confederados

During the US Civil War (1861-1865), the Confederate States of America ran a side campaign to realise colonial expansion into Central and South America. Southern imperialists called filibusters or freebooters raised militias in order to destabalise the Mexican government and foment revolt so piecemeal the country might be more easily taken.
When Emperor Napoleon III seized Mexico in 1863, the Confederacy seemed to have the perfect pretence for liberating the country, which would be indebted to those who freed them from the yoke of the French. Prosecuting the war with the Union took up all their resources, however. After the Confederacy was defeated, some Southerners realised their imperial ambitions after a fashion when having lost significant portions of their land-holdings they fled as refugees across the border and established settlements in many Latin American countries and in Brazil—where enslavement was still legal at the time before being outlawed in 1888, that still bear the name Americana and New Texas (parts of São Paulo, by leave of Emperor Dom Pedro II), New Virginia (located between Mexico City and Veracruz and tolerated by Emperor Maximillian II until he was executed by revolutionaries in 1867) and several outposts in British Honduras (modern-day Belize) that retain to varying degrees their exported heritage.

noforn or eyes-only

Not only has Dear Leader exhibited to the world his gross incompetence when it comes to diplomatic discretion and his inability to let an opportunity to humble-brag (or outright brag) pass by in showing off in front of a Russian delegation and then publically confirming the source of that intelligence or by disclosing top-secret submarine manœuvres in Korean waters to the Filipino dictator for no apparent reason, the distrust and toxicity that his regime has engendered all the way down the hierarchy has repositioned leaks and whistleblowing to the fore, whereas this had formerly been the option of last resort once all other avenues were exhausted. How easy would it be to trick Dear Leader?  There are rumours that his staffers in the White House feed him news articles of questionable provenance throughout the day.  The regime has done nothing outside of threats and intimidation to instil confidence or loyalty but these leaks also materially damage the reputation and trust of partner states—including the UK’s politically independent interior ministry. After US security services leaked the name of the perpetrator of Monday night’s horrific attack on a concert venue in Manchester to the press, potentially compromising other leads, before the UK was prepared to do so, authorities behind the investigation have suspended intelligence sharing with America. With the credibility of the US already suffering, it cannot afford to lose the faith of its allies as well.

virtuosi

Author and polymath Robert Twigger has recently completed his latest work which seeks to dislodge and disabuse from some of our assumptions about the innate or inchoate nature of talent and how it might be fostered by encouraging us to pursue micro-mastery.
Rather than positing some natural or nurtured advantage, other cultures take the approach that a skill-set can be learned to perfection—informed by the Japanese method of imparting martial arts, calligraphy and other ceremonies, we should challenge ourselves to make that prize omelette or mix the perfect martini. What are some master-classes you would be happy to proctor? We have access to the whole of human wisdom at our finger tips, essentially, but we’re probably not made exactly to learn from staring at screens and ought to be willing to throw our whole lumbering bodies into the task of honing up on some new core-competencies.

special dispensation

Of all the pitiful, cruel, arbitrary and tacky things that Dear Leader has done reports that seem quite believable that he denied his press secretary the chance to tag along on their visit to the Vatican and audience with the Pope.
Embattled and deservedly so for defending his boss the dissembler and sophist-in-chief, meeting the Pope was the one thing the press secretary, a Catholic, was looking forward to, expecting to be dismissed from the Cabinet and replaced any moment now. Apparently his performance is not living up to Dear Leader’s expectations and Dear Leader, who can only perceive high office as a series of praise-lavishing and executive perks and privileges, can only correct or punish by exclusion.

mancunians united

Though the poem was commissioned a few years ago to celebrate the unique character of the city in a wholly different context, poet Tony Walsh’s recitation of his This is the Place hit some very resonate notes that helped those attending this vigil find some solace in not losing the strength of what connects them.

This is the place
In the north-west of England. It’s ace; it’s the best
And the songs that we sing from the stands, from our bands
Set the whole planet shaking.

Our inventions are legends. There’s nowt we can’t make, and so we make brilliant music
We make brilliant bands
We make goals that make souls leap from seats in the stands.

And we make things from steel
And we make things from cotton
And we make people laugh—take the mick summat rotten
And we make you at home
And we make you feel welcome and we make summat happen
And we can’t seem to help it
And if you’re looking from history, then yea we’ve a wealth

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

pottersville or to the manor born

Via Waxy, we learn that much like the business model of American retail giants that wouldn’t have been able to destroy independent, small shops without the government subsidising the income of those in their employ (through welfare and food-stamp programmes that appear to be going away as well), Number One Daughter’s husband was more than willing to ascribe to the same strategy in becoming a slum-lord.
At least part of that real estate kingdom now twained to Dear Leader’s includes the management of several public housing estates housing tenants whose rent is in part or fully disbursed by government monies. This sort of corporate welfare is despicable enough, but ever the classy one, he goes one further in order to exploit those serfs unfortunate enough to have ended up in one of these complexes with litigation and intimidation should they contemplate moving out and hitting renters with escalating late fees should they fall behind a day or two on payments. Upon learning the identity of their landlord, residents were absolutely awed by the avarice demonstrated by chasing after such relatively small change and having such atrocious accommodations associated with the family enterprise.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

epoch and era

Via Kottke, we learn of Professor Olivia P Judson’s proposal to parse the history of life on Earth into ages not typified by geology or the complexity of biology per se but rather into energetic revolutions.
Evolution of life from its earliest forms, which populated the planet not long after inception, up to the present day can be framed within the context of five energy expansions, beginning with the geochemical processes that break down nutrients into usable forms (exobiologists expect to find alien life on distant, cold worlds that similarly exploit background processes like radiation or environmental—rather than internal—chemistry as a food source). Solar power comes next followed by the great Oxidation Event once the terraforming archaea of earlier stages had crossed a threshold that allowed respirating life to emerge. Each stage exhibits a higher level energy-efficiency with flesh (carnivorous behaviour) being developed before finally harnessing fire.

simulcast

Though disappointingly this hilarious juxtaposition of swapping out the subtitles was probably only enjoyed in real-time by an audience of one (the Swedish broadcaster thinks it’s rather a glitch with older television sets that allows you to switch channels and keep the same teletext), but this debate in the Riksdag from early last year with narration from the apparently adjacent programming of the PBS children’s show Dinosaur Train is now playing to many more spectators. See the whole series of funny screen-grabs at the link up top.

natron valley

Never mind the hiring underlaps at the Centres for Disease Control and the frittering away of institutional knowledge that means America is woefully ill-equipped to face the next virulent outbreak—meaning that the nation becomes a vector for the rest of the world, or the heartlessness of stripping health-coverage from those most in need of it, routine surgeries and treatments are being postponed because of a rather baffling shortage of medical grade sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).  Used in a number of treatments, health care providers are getting desperate and suspect that the scarcity—which has occurred periodically—is the unfortunate collusion of factors chief among them being there’s little incentive in making this basic ingredient—unlike the proprietary drugs that rake in huge, exploitative profits. Perhaps some substitute is about to be brought to market that performs the same function at eight thousand times the cost. Most other governments would intervene before things get to point where healthcare is at the mercy of a few powerful cartels.

kegelbahn

Via Boing Boing, our attention is turned to marvel at the photographic eye of Robert Goetzfried as he explores the patterns and retro architecture that frame bowling alleys—lanes for Kegeln to be more precise, that one finds in bars, restaurants, sports club houses and guest houses in Germany. With the rules of the game having been codified by none other than reformer Martin Luther, it’s probably apt to characterise devotion to the game, especially in rural Bavaria where most of the images were captured, as a religious one.  Ogle the photographer’s whole gallery at the links up top.

swap meet

Hyperallergic contributor Mark Dery pens a thoughtful essay lamenting eBay’s transformation to a model more akin to other on-line retailers who specialise in plying wares similar to ones that a given shopper has already expressed an interest in from its origins as an on-line flea market (Flöhmarkt, les puces), souk, arcade or yard sale.
Rather than trying cater to consumers by gainsaying what they might like, eBay encouraged critical meandering, the bailiwick of the committed flâneur. The dissonance and the disconnect are essential for experiencing serendipity, the non sequitur, and are patently more character building than having everything that one is interested in or concerned for served to them in tidy package. Ghost malls are a bellwether and a parallel casualty to marketing but in their homogenising brought about their own demise. Old eBay was the emporium that facilitated the exchange of items befitting a Wünderkammer like bizarre taxidermy specimens, celebrity detritus or the simulacra of Jesus and Mary in food items and was a source of associated folklore for some of these transaction, but the new eBay hardly has any auctions any more with the trend towards the bourgeoisie smug and no place for the weirder categories.

Monday, 22 May 2017

seoullo 7017

A Dutch architectural group (previously here and here) has recently completed a project undertaken in Seoul that’s given the city an elevated, tree-lined walkway above the street traffic. A disused highway overpass that stretches more than a kilometre across the metropolis and was slated for demolition but civil engineers envisioned other plans, similar to New York City’s High Line.

polity et pietat

Geopolitics are making things seem a little bit meaningless right now, and sorry that the world is going a little fascist—but this too will pass.
The media echo chamber and the own signature time dilation that the US regime is causing (weeks stretch out to full four year terms) seem insurmountable but provided that we are not complicit in our own destruction and hold tyranny to account, we won’t descend quietly into that unreality where bluster and bombast and magical-thinking (those essential oils are going to have to step up their game with the impending cuts to health care in America) become the standard tool-box for diplomacy, legislation and policy execution. Perhaps a papal audience was intended to be another petulant and hollow photo-opportunity but maybe Dear Leader, who has so far been rather impervious to the world—secure in his narcissism, might get a more transformative lecture than he was expecting.

caption contest

Dear Leader’s rabid supporters, Super Punch informs, have obtained the physical and virtual identities (including sexual orientation and religious affiliation) of thousands of Dear Leader’s detractors and have circulated the list, which comes with instructions on how to find and compile information on their ideological foils—a process called doxxing (a neologism document-tracking or version-control that is associated with on-line vigilantism).
The list itself comes from a legitimately anti-Dear Leader petition’s registry of signatories calling for the removal of the entire regime—which while one ought not be blindly committal to everything that comes along, as a petition could as easily be a honey-pot, it is a pretty chilling prospect that contact data could be so easily lifted and used to harass, intimidate and silence antagonists and their associates. Anonymity is the refuge of bullies and it’s not as if one’s politics are called out in stark contrast, but there’s also no requirement public requirement for disclosure in every context and forum.  This wouldn’t be the first time that a bait-and-switch and unthinking allegiance has gotten people in trouble—still there’s no equivalence with signing a document and threatening the people that did so. Despots already can invoke lèse-majesté laws to mute critics and shutdown dialogue—without the help of goons to do their bidding.  Be careful what you share, be careful what you click.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

plumbum or better living through geochemistry

Mental Floss has a thorough and circumspect long-format profile on scientist Clair Cameron Patterson that’s a fascinating bit of triangulation among the applied sciences, scholastics and environmental policy that is a fascinating biographic study in its own right and especially timely in this contemporary political environment when science is under assault—as are policies and regulations that promote public health and safety. To summarise (but it’s worth one’s while to read the article in its entirety) Patterson joined the Manhattan Project early on at the facilities at Oak Ridge Tennessee and figured out how to use mass spectrometers to separate out uranium isotopes and create enriched batches of the critical mass to sustain a nuclear explosion. After the war, Patterson took a teaching job and like so many scientists were eager for the chance for purely academic pursuits after having in the spirit of project leader J Robert Oppenheimer’s quote from the Bhagavad Gita “now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds” and was given an errant mission from a colleague to accurately measure the age of the Earth for the first time.
Having advanced from three thousand years old, to over ten thousand, several hundred thousand to millions and even billions, the scientific community had a ball-park figure and the consensus was generally not beyond three billion years old at this time. From his days as a nuclear researcher, Patterson knew that uranium had a given half-life at which point it would break-down into lead, and postulated that by sampling the ratio of lead to uranium inside very old rocks, he might be able to derive a more accurate means of dating the planet. His mass-spectrometry technique might be able to tease out these numbers but wherever he looked—even under laboratory conditions—there just seemed to be far too much lead, and instead of concluding that the world was many magnitudes older than experiments suggested, Patterson investigated further. Parallel to Patterson’s life and career, the automotive and petroleum industry had been advancing a-pace and sort of like that proverbial old woman that swallowed a fly, to alleviate the need for cranking a car to start it, then to reduce the infernal smells of fuel additives, then to eliminate noxious noise from engine knocking, chemist finally settled on what seemed to be the ideal solution of adding lead to petroleum. This meant that especially in urbanised areas, lead pollution and poisoning (the body’s biology misapprehends lead for calcium with highly toxic consequences) were impossible to get away from. Going to great efforts after conducting environmental sampling from remote and pristine areas to disabuse the public from the idea (propagated by the automotive and oil industries) that these levels of lead in the air and in the blood-stream and household products (paint, food cans, shoe heels, plumbing—the Romans knew better, etc) was acceptable or within healthy tolerances, Patterson created the world’s first ultra-clean room, free from outside pollutants, not only calculating the age of the Earth to four billion five-hundred million years but also directly launching a campaign against lead contamination that went on for decades and has been championed by many others. Patterson’s research, though it was a tough battle against the industry who had government in their back pockets, eventually saw the gradual removal of lead from products and a marked improvement in public health as a result. Stories like these seem to make our backsliding all the worse.

taxia or great chain of being

While it may seem a bit early in the year for annual superlatives, the state university of Syracuse, New York’s International Institute of Species Exploration of the campus’ College of Environmental Science and Forestry releases its list of top ten candidates of the most unexpected, unique finds of the animal and plant kingdoms to roughly coincide with the 23 May (1707) birthday of Carl Linnaeus, the founder of the discipline of taxonomy.
Inscribed to this year’s rolls include a sort of wild spicy tomato that appears to bleed when cut from Australia that’s propagated by bush fires, a spider whose camouflage resembles the Sorting Hat from Harry Potter matriculation ceremonies and a new species of Xenoturbella, a primitive marine worm that either resembles the missing half of an orphaned purple sock or fried churro pastry, depending who you ask. At a time when biodiversity is in grave peril and we have no idea about the natural innovation and wonders that we are losing without even the most superficial acquaintance, the institute wants to showcase the bizarre as a reminder that less than an estimated twenty percent of all species on Earth have yet been discovered and described and fewer still with any detail.

as the crow flies or bird’s eye view

Via the always captivating Everlasting Blört, we are introduced to the video and photo-hosting and –sharing platform that is dedicated to the genre of the rather peerless perspective of aerial drones, Dronestagram. For instance, here is an establishing shot (without the need for zooming in from a great distance) of the German memorial hall of fame Walhalla near Regensburg taken from a heretofore impossible angel.

geomancy or behind the beltway

Ostensibly more clearly delineated than London (though a collection of guardian City Dragons were erected in the 1960s on the edges of the generally agreed upon limits of the city corporation), the diamond-shaped cordon of two-score boundary stones that cleaves out the US capital from neighbouring Maryland and Virginia—though highly visible as the fimbriation on a map, the rectilinear character of it looking out of place with most territories being bounded by natural obstacles—has also a physical manifestation that’s been neglected and is easily overlooked. What could be considered the oldest federal monuments have due zoning changes and land-use now find themselves surrounded by parking lots, on residential lawns, in wooded areas or destroyed altogether. It seems to me there’s maybe some kind of secret magic—either for keeping evil in or out—that ought to be reverenced by at least preserving the old markers.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

colour space or stummy beige

Sending dispatches from the cutting edge of science and technology, explorers Lewis and Quark report on a neural network’s attempt at giving bespoke names to particular hues and shades. Via Waxy, the artificial intelligence apprentice seems to prefer harvest colours and with suggestions like snowbank, dorkwood, opaque couché, ghastly pink and hurky white, the exercise makes me think back to another like-minded neural network’s try at concocting recipes.

beltway and backdrop

The artist behind that projection on the façade of one his hotels calling Dear Leader out for flouting the perception (and reality) of conflicts of interest and violations of the emoluments clause, Robin Bell, has now expanded his repertoire with more guerrilla displays on the US Department of Justice and FBI buildings in Washington, DC. Several members of Dear Leader’s cabal were confronted and scolded that their positions (like the War on Drugs) have dire consequences for the rest of the country and beyond.

après nous, le déluge

Though the breach did not result in any loss of the seeds stored within and scientists are working to make the structure more secure, the fact that the Svalbard Global Seed Vault built in 2008 and designed to weather an eternity of assault is already showing signs that it’s not able to withstand catastrophic, run-away climate change is a depressing prospect. The integrity and diversity of seed banks has already been demonstrated as vital to rehabilitating civilisation and there are multiple repositories all over the world, and while it is frightening enough to find this ark prone to flooding due to melting permafrost, it’s an even more arresting thought that there will be no place where these food crops might be grown because of radical changes in temperatures and long-term weather patterns.

vote of conscience or supermajority

There is a movement afoot, as TYWKIDBI informs, to effectively eliminate the US Electoral College without the need for a constitutional amendment—though we’ve heard that that process might be becoming less burdensome—called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.
Still working within the system of electoral votes and the critical-mass of those metrics, states pledge to throw their support behind the presidential candidate who has secured the popular vote, foregoing a process that was meant to democratise the ballot (conceived under rules that stipulated that the senate be prince-electors and not left in the hands of common voters—important matters rarely are) but through gerrymandering and redistricting has turned into something very asymmetrical and unbalanced with only a few “swing” states deigned worthy of attention to the peril of “safe” states and public opinion more broadly and rife for disenfranchisement. I wonder if such a strategy might work—regardless of the outcome, perhaps there are more protections afforded for the minority after each ballot. The articles that define how the executive branch is constituted specifically prohibit a collusion among states, whether expressly designed to curtail the constitution or otherwise, without the leave of the federal legislature, and the ruling party (or the one that is sure is waiting in the wings to take control) would not allow its power to be undermined.

Friday, 19 May 2017

paroled

Days after the release of Chelsea Manning from the military prison in Fort Leavenworth, having served the longest sentence in US history for whistle-blowing, Sweden revoked its European arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange which has kept him within the confines of Ecuador’s London embassy compound, claiming asylum, fearful that appearing in court might lead to his apprehension and extradition back to the United States to face espionage and possibly treasons charges. While Assange has been hostelled in relative comfort by his hosts for the past five years and was even able to release further tranches of incriminating documents, Manning’s seven-year imprisonment was on the other hand physically and mentally abusive and she was denied access to the online world in any form. Her commutation by President Obama fell short of the pardon that Assange had asked for as a plea-bargain that might see him repatriated, but Assange may willingly come to the US if guaranteed a fair trial.

fengsel or recidivism-rate

Recognising that for some, the loss of liberty is punishment enough, one progressive incarceration facility on a Norwegian island, garnering the reputation of the world’s nicest, is demonstrating itself as one of the most effective for rehabilitating criminals and has the lowest rate of re-offending.
The experimental prison on the island of Bastøy is just off the coast from Oslo and was once infamous for a violent uprising in an earlier incarnation as a juvenile detention colony in 1915 but since 1982 has embodied a model that is diametrically opposed to its roots—with inmates accommodated in cottages instead of cells, work the prison garden and are afforded other amenities, including high-quality education and skills-building programmes and guards that are trained social workers. The penal system of the Scandinavian countries is the exclusive bailiwick of expert criminologists and not the emotionally-charged plaything of politicians. Inasmuch as confinement is its own indignity (violence only begets violence) and can be reforming—for some victims of criminals, and there are murderers and rapists at this minimum security facility, no amount of punishment meted out could ever be enough. What do you think? Bastøy’s success rate suggests that taking vengeance out of the equation and replacing it with respect and redemption might be the best way to fight crime.

prêt-à-porter

Considering that at this juncture concerts and other venues make more money off of t-shirts than album sales and merchandising more than supplements a lot of media properties as well as the messaging and statement that individuals are eager and willing to present, we appreciated and enjoyed indulging in this history of what was originally called the “crew-neck” from its first literary citation to the advent of mass-produced screen-printing that really propelled the shirt has a vehicle for label and personal branding.
That first literary mention was in 1920 with the debut novel of F Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise with a mention of the article of clothing among his equipage for university—not that that moment in a book about traumatic emotions cushioned by alcohol and love twisted by status-seeking particularly launched or informs the career of the t-shirt as a mode of expression. Notably, one of the earliest examples of the garment—perhaps some might consider it a uniform and not brandishing a logo—in film comes nineteen years later with the release of The Wizard of Oz, where the attendants of the Wash & Brushup Company of Emerald City sport identical green t-shirts with “Oz” printed on them.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

6x6

phantom pavilions: more wire frame architecture from Edoardo Tresoldi

aragog: for the bold, a paralysing cocktail that includes tarantula venom, via Nag on the Lake

anchors away: dispatching with human crews will make shipping on the high seas safer, cleaner and cheaper—and be disruptive for sailors’ careers, via Super Punch

pardon and prophecy: as you can imagine, she is an expert on politics and predicts that whenever you decide to run for office you will be a winner

steering committee: a decency council to be assembled that will advise the Duma and help guide its decision-making

star wars, nothing but star wars: one cinema’s celebratory lead up to the fortieth anniversary of the franchise

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

i seem to be a verb

We were pleased to certify the veracity of a quotation by engineer and futurist Buckminster Fuller on the topic of policing the under-class by insisting that we all be kept occupied and not left to our own devices. Speaking volumes on the subject of universal basic income and technological redundancy, Fuller in 1970 answering to an environmental teach-in reported by New York magazine replied:

“We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.”

Again, instead of being fearful of robots taking our jobs, we ought to welcome it, lest it this revolution, disruption be misappropriated once again.

when i’m sixty-four

On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the release of SGT Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Boing Boing informs, the BBC is airing a documentary featuring biographies on every one of the sixty plus individuals featured on the album’s jacket cover, minus the Beatles.

postcards from the new east

Friend of the blog Messy Nessy Chic revisits the photography of Frank Herford and his collateral series of impression of the post-Soviet building-boom collected while travelling through Russia and its former cadet republics.


Imperial Pomp showcases an amazing gallery of skyscrapers that have mushroomed up all over Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and elsewhere that embrace a hybrid style that’s chasing some ideal that creates some amazing juxtapositions and adding some patent colour to an otherwise rather apparently bleak and brutal urban environment.

agent orange

Breaking with the long-standing tradition that the first foreign visit of a US president is either to neighbouring Canada or Mexico, and amidst the milieu of garnering the displeasure with Turkey over the decision to arm Kurdish rebels in Syria—though despots can always find common-ground, especially when goons can be dispatched to rough up the rabble—I wonder if Dear Leader might not consider foregoing his visit to the Middle East and Italy.
Dear Leader could blame anyone he cares to or make up any excuse and I feel the world might give him a pass for sparing us all the embarrassment and diplomatic damage. The audacious hectoring of presuming to usher in peace in the region (by means of a speech on religious tolerance delivered to audience in a primarily Islamic country excluded from the proposed travel ban due to private business interests) and the rather pushy demand for an audience with the Pope was already edging away from the bounds of normalcy, but now the stakes are much higher—having demonstrated how the regime is willing to risk alienating both political and religious leaders with poor messaging that betrays a fundamental and profound ignorance of statecraft and diplomacy. The partner state’s intelligence that was ill-advisedly boasted about to Russia is likely one of entourage’s whistle-stops. The world has already seen quite enough of Dear Leader’s abominable tantrums and nothing constructive could conceivable come of this excursion.

http referer

Via Kottke, we are directed to a reflection on how the online environment has changed in the past decade by technology correspondent Alexis Madrigal writing for The Atlantic. The article is definitely worth reading through and of course where we are with the internet becomes all the more absorbing when conditioned with the filter of time and wondering how things might be different.
As a fellow purveyor of fine hypertext products surely appreciates diverting from one playground to explore others—or in other terms, to escape from a walled-garden, the central thesis of Madrigal’s argument is encapsulated by those who dare click on a link—with discrimination, sadly, as there are an awful lot of imposters and catch-penny sites and worse out there. What do you think? For better or worse, in 2007—which also saw the iPhone become commercially available, the internet was a quite different network of connections where as much happened below the surface and behind the scenes and parting that curtain to follow the daisy-chain of links to an unexpected place was more routine, whereas after the growth of social platforms (parallel with the pace of the progress of mobility) and dominance—at the expense of the monumental architecture of entities like Wikipedia and the blogosphere though there are quite a few troopers and true-believers, most of the action is on the surface and corralled.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

if there’s a bustle in your hedgerow

For the benefit of those playing along at home, paleofuturist Matt Novak—whose perspective is attuned to how our descendants might interpret our present—summarises the events of this past week of Dear Leader’s antics, which included a rather unprecedented dismissal of a chief investigator and vacillating on his reasons for doing so, a series of strange photo-opportunities, the White House press secretary hiding from reporters in the bushes outside of the West Wing. It’s overwhelming—and by design, I’m sure—but necessary housekeeping at times when customary and courtesy records and registers are already being censored and discontinued and this dint of revisionism could spread.

pause for station identification

Colossal takes us back to the days when the logos for television and film studios were physical objects, animated by practical effects, which is not so very long ago. There’s an extensive history of the evolution of the BBC’s signature emblem that has of course an interesting parallel run to the development of the media property.  I recall vividly too NBC’s peacock and the diorama flyover introduction for HBO features—which you can watch at the link up top.

i have great intel—i have people brief me on great intel every day

In a move that potentially poisons its own diplomatic and intelligence wells, when Dear Leader welcomed the Russian foreign minister and the ambassador to the US into the Oval Office for a closed-door meeting he used the session to apparently brandish to the assembled company highly classified material that had been relayed to the US by a partner state.
On a high enough level of course the whole world is united against the Cosplay Caliphate and their ilk, but in the Syrian proxy war, Russia and the American allies have very different objectives. Dear Leader is demonstrating a willingness, apparently (it’s a matter of speculation since reporters familiar with the conversation have withheld details to prevent further damage to national security), to share more with individuals with an adversarial stance than with tried and true associates. Compromised or otherwise, Dear Leader with this stunt and lack of reprimand by Republican politicians jeopardises future information exchange from sources that did not want its identity revealed to the Russians.

Monday, 15 May 2017

bird of prey

Although I know it’s the way of wild things, it’s a bit dissonant to think of parrots, crows and ravens as carnivorous hunters—especially of the domesticated variety. I few years ago, we watched with rapt fascination when the young falcon had caught his first mouse and sort of hammed up the act for the camera, but had to confront not such a majestic sight the other day while queuing at the gas pump. A big crow was rather cruelly batting around a shrieking tiny bird, stunning it before ripping it apart. I had to look away and I was torn whether I ought to have intervened, even if I could have gotten there in time. If we’d been in the forest and not near the bins of fast-food restaurants where the murder hangs out, I might have felt differently but these birds are fearless around humans and seem to have shed all other instincts.

londontown

The Big Think features a review of the newly released Curiocity, which is a celebration of the city of London told through a soulful geographic introduction that combines the best elements of atlases, trivia and more conventional travel guides to address those deceptively straightforward questions and statistics that allude answer or definition. The verdict on London’s etymology is still at large, as are the city-limits and the city’s central point—the Omphalos (Greek for navel), the spot on the Isle of Dogs (no one knows how this eyot got its name either) where John Dee and Christopher Marlowe performed a magical rite in 1593 to establish the psychic base of the British Empire, is our favourite contender. Visit the links up top for more information and imponderables to ponder.