Thursday, 31 May 2018

little birdhouse in your soul

Nag on the Lake acquaints us with Frankfurter clock-maker Guido Zimmermann who showcases his talents in a series of custom traditional cuckoo chimes housed in Brutalist, Plattenbau architecture—as a commentary on social housing gentrified and priced out of the range of its intended resident. His cuckcoo blocks also reference the original conceit of the clocks, not stowed away as a souvenir, were symbolic in themselves as a middle-class (spießbürgerlich) signal of success. View a video of the whole range of his designs at the links above.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

ostheim vor der rhön

Taking advantage of the fine weather, H and I spent the afternoon enjoying the atmosphere of nearby Ostheim vor der Rhön (previously, here and here), first scrambling up and down the alleyways of the town’s landmark fortified church (Kirchenburg, previously here and here).
The complex’s maze of multiple warehouses and root-cellars for provisions plus a munitions dump and a powder tower made it a bastion for the people of the area to retreat to in times of strife and hopefully outlast a siege.
Historically, Ostheim was not aligned with the Catholic church that was the predominant influence in Bavaria and in fact existed as an exclave of the Protestant dukes of Henneberg, formally from 1920 to 1947 an outcropping of the state of Thüringen not geographically connected.
For simplicity’s sake, as was done for the Palatine territories on the Hessen side of the Rhein, Ostheim and the surrounding villages were made part of Bavaria as the American zone of occupation.
In order to maintain this island of independence throughout turbulent times is testament to the fortress’ imperviousness. Afterwards we took a stroll along the promenade of the river Streu, punctuated with footbridges and water-wheels that were once upon a time engines to drive various sorts of mills.
Finally, we ascended into the foothills of the Rhön to the Lichtenburg, the picturesque ruins of a high castle, a defensive garrison for a contingent of knights, from the eleventh century before returning home.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

public law 68-175

Via the lens of expert British colourist Royston Leonard and the curatorial skills of Messy Nessy Chic, we’re able to be privileged witnesses to a rather dark episode in the fraught history of European settlers with indigenous peoples and those they’ve occupied and colonised. Though not perhaps not the worst slight in the scheme of things, Leonard’s print (more at the links above) show a delegation of Native Americans invited to the White House to petition President Calvin Coolidge in the early 1920s for the passage of a congressional act that would bestow US citizenship to the majority, up to three hundred thousand, who were systematically disenfranchised and denied participation in civic affairs and the democratic process.

Though the Fourteen Amendment to the US constitution gave (grudgingly) citizenship to all people born within US territory, regardless if they were descended from enslaved ancestors—with no state making or enforcing laws which shall abridge the privileges or immunities appertaining thereto. Native Americans were not covered by the amendment, however, many argued because, Article One, which deals with the apportionment of representatives in the federal legislature that each state gets, says that “Indians—not taxed” were not counted as constituents because they didn’t pay property tax on sovereign tribal lands (compare to the Three-Fifths compromise that counted only three out of every five enslaved individuals for setting a state’s population) and because they kept their tribal affiliations and did not integrate well with non-Native American society. Before the act’s passage in 1924, sponsored by New York Congressman Homer P Snyder, Native Americans could apply to become naturalised citizens, like any immigrant, and often vouchsafed the process through marriage or military service—and it was in part due to the role that the enlistment of many Native Americans had for World War I that the act was passed.

Monday, 28 May 2018


Though superficially it might seem to some like a petty, nannying move though in reality every incidental, insignificant bit counts for something that hangs around well past its usefulness, the European Union has done something really bold and urgent in banning plastic products like drinking straws and disposal plastic utensils and cups for personal use.
Planned legislation also includes provisions to take plastic products out of circulation with scheduled milestones to phase items out and fining members per kilogram that goes unrecycled. Proponents are hoping to fend off minor annoyances and inconvenience (for that’s all it is, despite what the industry lobbyists would have one believe—plastic shopping bags have been all but banned for years and no one’s worse off for it) but a rigour public education campaign to be more mindful of our buying habits, alternatives and consequences of what we’re tossing away.

on the compositions of yards and perches

Looking to buy a new television, I tried to assay the difference between the German measurement of Zoll and inches across—if there was any and whether that distance mattered if measured diagonally as opposed to on a grid and there was a little more to the story than we expected. An inch (also statutorily three dry barley corn or fifteen poppy seeds across) was traditionally defined as the width of an adult’s thumb, a twelfth of a foot—give or take.
Although a Zoll as a unit has a bit more precision invested in it and is greater than an inch by an exacting but negligible amount—it’s also short for the informal and nebulous length of a “Stück Holz” or a piece of wood and is curiously the width of a Zollstock, one of those collapsible measuring sticks commonly found in Germany, more in use than a tape-measure to assess something’s size in exact terms. Although one will most likely only encounter the unit itself for screen-dimensions, it’s also present in contemporary pants sizes, bullet calibres and nuts and bolts. Twelve inches make a foot and three feet make a yard; five and a half yards make a perch and forty by four perches (also termed one chain by one furlong) make an acre, which was itself defined as the area of land that could be reasonably expected to be ploughed by a yoke (pair) of oxen in the space of a day. Before adopting the metric system in 1871, German conventional weights and measures were even more confusing and incongruent with a Landmeile (Land Mile) ranging in value from twenty-four thousand feet (Füß, itself ranging from nine to eighteen inches) in Bavaria and Württemberg to a thousand metres (three thousand two hundred eight one feet) in Wiesbaden. The above mentioned Zoll usually made one-twelfth part of a foot but in some places it was considered one-tenth.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

sperrzone oder deutsche-deutsche grenze

We owe the expanse of forest in part at least to being on the former border that separated East and West Germany (previously here, here and assuredly elsewhere) and the Grünes Band Deutschland (the German Green Belt) conserved by environmental organisations to form a natural reserve linked along the former Iron Curtain, forming a quite exceptional no man’s land of undisturbed species and habitats.
Today all that remains is a trail marker and a slight gradient change. On the Thüringen side, there’s carriage way for patrol vehicles that runs parallel to the corridor and a small memorial to two casualties of the intervening minefield during an escape attempt in 1965.
The first stages of the partition of Germany from 1945 to 1952 was also referred to as the “Green Border” before fortifications were established and movement strictly controlled but authorities on both sides soon realised that they needed to increase security measures in order to stem the flow of economic refugees in the eyes of the West and “spies, diversionists, terrorists and smugglers” according to the East.

via regia

Via Hyperallergic, we are directed towards this comprehensive and highly detailed chart mapping out all the major and minor trading routes established and solidified during the High Middle Ages—a vast and sophisticated network that connected European, African, Asia and Far East merchants—with nodes not only along the Silk Road—and gives some perspective on the drive to advance markets and what sort of rates of exchange enable and underpin these linkages.


Reckoned from when Tsar Peter the Great laid the groundwork for the Fortress of Peter and Paul at the estuary where the River Neva empties into the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic to protect his recent conquests in the Great Northern War from resurgent Swedish colonists, the grand city of Saint Petersburg’s founding is traced to this date (16 May, Old Style) in 1703, making this the three hundred and fifteenth anniversary.
In order to fulfil aspirations as a world power, Peter concluded that Russia needed a seaport and the empire’s harbour in Arkhangelsk which was frozen over half the year was not surfeiting that requisite. After conscripting labourers from all over Russia, the city was ready for occupation and the capital was moved from Moscow, where it remained until the dissolution of Imperial Russia after the October Revolution in 1917 and was renamed Petrograd—to remove any Germanic sounding elements and the capital restored to Moscow. Called Leningrad during Communist times, the original name was adopted again with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Along with Moscow and Sevastopol (another important port on the Black Sea founded some eight decades later with the annexation of the once independent Khanate of the Crimea as an outcome—previously here and here, of the Russo-Turkish War), Saint Petersburg is counted among three federal cities and constituencies of the Russian Federation. Learn more at the city’s official web-site, in Russian and English.


Just in time for the start of the summer vacation season of the northern hemisphere, we’re given a timely reminder via Strange Company that drowning does not look like drowning.
For a host of physiological reasons, a panicked person in the water will be unable to flail about their arms or bellow for help—as seen dramatized on movies and television, and recognising a swimmer in distress is not obvious for someone who is not a trained lifeguard or sailor. Just being aware of the fact that drowning can happen quietly is powerful.  Do take a moment to read the short but potentially life-saving article at the link above.

eu 2016/679

Just days after going into effect, two internet giants, the Daily Dot reports, are facing suits in the billions for failure to comply with the GDPR, for as characterised by the Austrian privacy and consumer-rights advocate who brought the complaint despite eighteen months to prepare themselves for the new standards (imagine had they not just flaunted the coming change or indeed how different the world might be today had the regulation gone into force upon passage) still are offering users only an all-or-nothing means of opting out, which is no choice at all and contravenes the spirit of the regulation.
The companies responded predictably with continued commitments to the GDPR’s provisions and how privacy-protections are built into every stage of the user-experience. While many websites seem to have put together some wearying slap-dash boilerplate message in a last-minute, reactionary fashion—even the biggest ones with an established presence in Europe, many smaller services that harvest visitors’ data directly or indirectly—especially second-tier news-outlets have simply gone dark for Europeans until such time as they can be reasonably assured (and thus safe from legal consequences) that their accessibility isn’t afoul of the law.

time & temperature

Coudal Partners’ fresh signals direct our attention to this rather gorgeously designed and presented global weather service called Ventusky, founded in 2006 and headquartered in Plzeň. Available also as an app, the dynamic forecasts are fully customisable and there a lot of aggregated meteorological data to sift through and recombine.


Much as a meme is an elemental unit for the transmission for a particular idea or phenomenon—a cultural analogue for the notion of a gene or some defined inheritable trait—a mytheme (or mythème first proffered by ethnographer Claude Lévi-Strauss) is the fundamental measurement of commonality in terms of a trope or archetype across received folkloric traditions. The intended intersection of the arc of narrative and the characters of The Tempest (1610) with Forbidden Planet (1956) or Heart of Darkness (1899) with Apocalypse Now (1979) are a few examples with many more threads to be teased out by structurally analysing the stories that strike us a universal.

Saturday, 26 May 2018


Hyperallergic reports that the curatorial staff of the Munch Museum of Oslo have digitally archived and made available to the public over seventy-six hundred paintings and sketches of Edvard Munch (previously). This ambitious and comprehensive catalogue of the artist not only includes the museum’s own collection, revising many works that had not been on display for years if ever, but also sought to capture the holdings of other museums and those works in private hands.

combine honnete ober advancer mercantiles

Rummaging through the extensive archives of Open Culture, we discovered these wonderful, curious artefacts from 1984 and the release of David Lynch’s cinematic adaptation of Frank Herbert’s epic saga Dune. In an attempt to build off the merchandizing success that followed the Star Wars franchise, publishers rushed to market a children’s colouring book and activity book, which included projects like a recipe for No-Bake Spice Cookies—cinnamon offered as a substitute for the mind expanding spice melange. Learn more at the link above.

economies of scale

Although I still listened in digest form, I found myself a little soured on TED Talks of late when confronted with the comment whose context I cannot remember questioning whether I recalled the last seminar I’d listened to. I couldn’t say and assumed that that meant it didn’t really have resonance and endurance for me as an idea but realised that I was not really analysing the opinion. Then (appropriately on the day that the GDPR became enforceable) NPR’s produced an episode of the TED Radio Hour that was every bit as probing and important and had all the hallmarks of a lecture series at its finest. Building up to the closing remarks of computer scientist Jaron Lanier, the show (do check out all the talks at the link above—my opinion is completely rehabilitated even if I still cannot remember the topic before this one) demonstrated how much of an impossible request it is of our mental capacity to hang in a state of suspension between distraction and the anxiety of missing out for an increasingly large portion of our day. Our minds are made to be bombarded with signals and impressions of all sorts and have the tolerance for a lot of stimulus but when it comes mediated through dozens of competing sources, the focus of our attention and time becomes increasingly alienated and commodified by algorithms with the goal of funnelling the most traffic by making things just a notch more extreme—until its ugliness is reflected back at us.
This engineering designed to make us sample over and beyond what we would have previously delimitated as aligned with our values, standards and beliefs of course is not confined to the on-line world and its personas and avatars but has real world consequences as virality leaps off our screens—and not just in the aggregate either but moreover individually our capacity for critical-thinking and genuine engagement atrophies when all those uncounted micro-decisions are not our own and we lose the ability to cope and cultivate resilience in the face of adversities both sudden and subtle. We are not doomed but if we fail to change and allow our lives to be defined by attention-seekers that yoke of autocracy and dystopia will be ours to bear.

Friday, 25 May 2018


Through a process of elimination, researchers have isolated the protein that mosquito-born viruses exploit to gain entry into animal cells and may signal the elimination of diseases and infections delivered by such a vector.

The single protein identified as Mxra8 (assigned to the immunoglobulin domain)—which is notably absent from mosquitos, does not seem to affect viral replication but its absence does bar entry so the virus can’t establish a foothold in its host. Climate change, human incursion into nature and the global network of transportation and shipping mean that these diseases are not confined to exotic places any longer and affect everyone. Parallel trials with human cell cultures seem to confirm the initial findings.

zapis socjologiczny

Our gratitude to Calvert Journal for introducing us to the work and legacy of self-taught Polish photographer Zofia Rydet (1911* - 1997 †) who is best remembered for her ambition and obsession to document every household in the country.
Embarking on this mission in 1978 aged 67, her unfinished project “Sociological Record” comprises over thirty thousand informal black and white portraits of people among their belongings, prized possessions, ingratiating herself to sometimes suspicious strangers by telling them she was taking pictures for the Pope. Learn more about Rydet’s life and career at the links above.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

dear jong letter

buchette del vino

We’ve certainly overlooked this feature of vernacular architectural unique to Florence (Firenze) but on future trips will certainly be on the lookout for wine windows, which enabled passers-by to conveniently purchase a glass or bottle and other staples on the go.
Goods exchanged would have included Chianti bottled in traditional cushioning straw-jacketed vessels, called fiascos—Italian for flask (fiaschi, pedantic plural form) and by extension a humiliating situation for failing to make a bottle properly which ought to be something that is easily accomplished. Unfortunately, none of the remaining artefacts of a post-Renaissance time when wealthy Florentine landowners fell on harder times and turned towards cottage and craft industries to supplement their income remain in service but can still be spotted and appreciated.


Via accomplished internet caretaker Miss Cellania, we’re introduced to the intriguing notion that we are most likely to first detect signs of extra-terrestrial life on worlds tidally-locked (like the Moon to the Earth or Mercury in relation to the Sun) to their host stars.

Rather than necessarily being restricted to a so-called Goldielocks zone of habitability (not so chauvinistic to accommodate life as we know it and our assumptions but rather a sanctuary wherein conditions are stable enough to foster multiple generations of an organism and let Nature runs its course) these exoplanents, dubbed eyeball worlds, because while one hemisphere always faces the star and is arid—perhaps inhospitably so—and the other side is eternally frozen and always experiences night, there’s a narrow meridian that rings the pupil of the planet that could provide the right conditions for life to flourish—in between the two extremes. Eyeball planets are potentially plentiful and might have a bit of the right real estate. Learn more at the links above.

cosmic interlopers

The excitement and wonder surrounding the confirmation of the first known interstellar object, Oumuamua, to just pass through our Solar System was of course just opening up our eyes to the possibility that there may be many more visitors out there, and presently astronomers believe that they have solid evidence for another (albeit on much longer layover) guest from outside of Solar System. Almost all objects in the Solar System orbit the Sun (or planetary hosts) in the same direction with a minority of retrograde orbitals—usually attributed to a reconstructed, violent past—however an asteroid going against the grain, performing a complicated exchange between the tug of Jupiter and the pull of the Sun seems to be a strong candidate for more exotic origins.

inherit the wind

Following Turkey’s and Florida’s decision to strike evolution from its public school curriculum, the state of Arizona is set to order that science textbooks and syllabi be revised to remove references to evolution and the Big Bang and replace them with euphemistic phrases, in order to avoid the appearance of unfairly subjecting students to indoctrination.

Though the possibilities which religious fundamentalists consider conjecture rather than an accepted, progressing fact because they have “theory” (a generalised and consistent description of how things work, contrasted with practise) attached to them are not completely edited out, the awkward language enlisted to avoid the terminology associated with natural selection and current cosmology accomplishes what it was designed to do in failing to impart students with critical-thinking skills and an interest in the sciences. Let’s hope that the kids are more resilient than the forces of regression and devolution.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018


labyrinthine: the hand-rendered mazes and patterns of Polish architect Wacław Szpakowski

american pastoral: acclaimed writer Philip Roth has passed away, aged 85

unanswered questions: a transcript Facebook CEO’s session before the European Union Parliament, just days before the GDPR goes into effect

pivot: geopolitical power shift perhaps captured in the juxtaposition of two seminal summits

grids and greenways: a plush rug maps out the borough of Manhattan

data-points: US leaders analyse the causes of gun violence  

blopper reel: outtakes from Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas


Our gratitude to Nag on the Lake for introducing us to the Franco-American industrial design pioneer Raymond Loewy whose multidisciplinary vision informs a magnitude of iconic brands and defining how form follows function.
Among his contributions are the interior of the Boeing Stratoliner, various locomotives, coaches, the Sears Coldspot refrigerator, the Schick electric razor, the Lincoln Continental, a jukebox, a version of the Coca-Cola bottle and the Coke can, Lucky Strikes cigarette packaging, subway cars plus the interior and living space of Skylab and the Concorde. Additionally, Loewy created logos for TWA, SPAR, Exxon, Shell and many others. Go over to Nag on the Lake at the link up top to see an insightful 1979 CBS television interview with Loewy, dubbed by the press as the Man who Shaped America.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018


Rummaging through the archives of the intrepid explorers at Amusing Planet, we came across a rather singular decommission of a former US defensive installation that effectively was only in service for a period of one day before being officially mothballed.
The remaining ensemble of buildings, including the pyramid-like housing of the Missile Site Radar and underground silos that held anti-ballistic missiles (rockets designed to disable in-coming weapons), of the Stanley R Mickelsen Safeguard Complex outside of the Grand Forks Air Base in the state of North Dakota were eventually purchased by a local Hutterite Colony (one of the Plain peoples) at an auction for half a million dollars in 2012 and was built in order to defend the arsenal of Minuteman missiles kept at the Air Base. Provisions of the 1972 Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I treaty) with the Soviet Union allowed signatories to equip themselves with a limited number of such anti-ballistic defences and the base in North Dakota was to be the first component of a large shielding, network. The base came on-line in April 1975 but would not achieve full operational capacity until 1 October 1975; the following day, the US legislature voted to deactivate the programme, recognising that militarily, it had little merit and could not justify the costs. After nearly a decade of development, Congress became convinced that the system devised by Bell Labs was a folly that would not deliver under actual assault and Safeguard was defunded. The new owners—who are attested pacifists—are charged with preserving the historic character of the site but I suppose otherwise are allowed to use it as they see fit. Be sure to visit Amusing Planet at the link up top to learn more and see a whole gallery of pictures of the base.


Though I’d venture that the US has been undergoing its moment of constitutional crisis since installing a morally and financially bankrupt television reality show host and allowing his syndicate family to capture a purchase in government that will be a challenge to excise from their greedy, self-absorbed little hands, and though nothing comes as a surprise anymore in a world dilated by Trumpian times, this latest assault against justice and the primacy of law is pretty chilling.
Backed into a corner, Trump is trying to dismantle and discredit the FBI's investigation into Russian meddling by sewing the suggestion of partisanship behind it (isonomy is the principle that the law applies equally to all and that no one is above it), masking his own treason of unqualified narcissism that even bullying himself into a leadership role and its subsequent abdication of the responsibility that goes with it cannot even sate. Others in government and international observers know it’s the refuge of autocrats to pervert justice for their own gain and to silence dissent but those in a position to do something to reign in Trump are far too deep in the pockets of the lobbyists to speak up and the international community is recognising the fecklessness of faded power and influence. Omission and tacit-approval are indeed how the inviolable is violated.

Monday, 21 May 2018

playbill and pressbook

Though honoured and acknowledged throughout his career that spanned seven decades and intersected with the canon of every major producer, director and actor in Hollywood, the name Bill Gold, who passed away over the weekend at age 97, may not register for many though his signature style as the public face of cinema’s coming-attractions most certainly will be instantly recognisable. Establishing himself with a commission to do the publicity posters for Yankee Doodle Dandy in 1942, Gold created thousands of display materials for the box-office and bill-board, most prolific during the 1970s and 1980s—though coming out of semi-retirement to design posters for Mystic River and J. Edgar. Read a retrospective and sample a gallery of more of Gold’s iconic work at this American Film Institute profile from 2016.

homage to the square

Artist and educator Josef Albers (1888* - 1976†) joined the Bauhaus movement (previously) and was celebrated in both the Weimar and the Dessau camps matriculating new members into the principles of handcrafts and was promoted to a full professorship and collaborated with artists like Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky with furniture designs and glassworks, until the artistic cooperative was forced to disperse under pressure from the ascendant Nazi government. Albers immigrated to America and was sponsored by Black Mountain College of North Carolina, offered a teaching position at the new school of arts.
Perhaps best known for his series of mediations, studies—numbering in the hundreds like this “Homage to the Square: Unexpected Turn” (1959) or “Saturated” (1962) that he executed with a palette knife and meticulous recorded the pigments, Albers was completely given to teaching, owing that institutionalised no one was an artist or master and that all were learners and developed an influential treatise on the theory of colour (available as an app) as well as developing the foundational curriculum for the discipline which is now called graphic design.

artists & repertoire

Via Present /&/ Correct, we are introduced to graphic designer and illustrator Regan Ray who carefully curates and shares some of the material he turns towards for inspiration, including catalogues of labels, imprints and logos, like these vintage ones from the recording industry. Be sure to check out Ray’s commissions and collections at the links above.

going native, going naïve

In a surprising experimental set-up that could possibly pose a challenge—and surely many nuances—to the commonly-held theory that memories and learned behaviour resides in the strength of the synapses (sort of a non-space, a gap when one thinks about it), researchers found that non-coding ribonucleic acid (RNA) transplanted from an acclimated snail to a non-acclimated, naïve snail can seemingly carry and impart training from one to the other.
Long term memories may have an epigenetic—the way the expressions of genes are regulated—component to them, while many are sceptical of the experiments claims, which makes sense to a degree on a chemical level as the transplanted RNA would be primed to encode for a stress-reaction and maybe such primal responses are meant to be contagious and empathetic regardless of direct exposure. No snails were harmed in this experiment but the technique and theory behind it references the research conducted by biologist and animal psychologist James V McConnell in the 1950s and 1960s in which flatworms were trained to solve a maze and then fed to untrained individuals who seemed to take on the knowledge and experience of those they’d just incorporated. Made into fodder for speculative fiction, McConnell’s unorthodox beliefs in the nature and fungibility of memory also made him on the targets of the Unabomber in the mid-1980s, surviving the attack but suffering hearing-loss.

leave the driving to us

Informed via Slashdot that Estonia from 1 July on will make its public mass-transit services essentially fare-free throughout the country—following similar though not encompassing schemes in Paris and Wales—I was relieved to learn that others, even politicians and city-planners, also realise that the future of driver-less, chauffeured transportation has always been with us, even if collective solutions are not as sleek and smug as reinventing the wheel.
Tallinn too has been addressing last-mile conundrums with automated mini-buses to supplement its network as well. Implementation is surprisingly inexpensive, even factoring in on the lost revenue (which might for a time be recouped from tourists), whose blow is dulled by the fact that one can eliminate the administrative cost of managing ticket sales and inspections—not to mention reduced air-pollution, less congestion and increased mobility and self-determination for an ageing rural population.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

rallye und rhön-zügle

For certain holiday week-ends, the historic train station in the town of Fladungen (where we’ve often visited in the past for their now discontinued classic car shows but worth a visit any time) will reanimate its fleet (two) of steam locomotives (built in 1924 by the firm Krauss-Maffei in Munich and the only ones of their kind still in operation) and antique Reichsbahn passenger cars for fun little short-haul whistle-stop tours.
We boarded for a journey to Ostheim and back, a stretch of road that we were familiar with but never quite from this perspective and pace, plus it was interesting to see the feats of practised engineering and mechanical dexterity that went into pulling of the operation and prompted one to reflect on what a revolutionary marvel that such an engine would have been when it first went into service.
It was a funny coincidence that we were best acquainted with Fladungen through an auto show that was no longer held and went next to see an assortment of classic cars reach the finish line (we were not sure who was in the pole-position but I guess it just counted if one could finish intact) and present themselves for inspection in the Kurpark of Bad Kissingen down the road a bit.
The storied spa town has been hosting the Sachs Franken Classic since 2000 in conjunction with Bad Kissingen’s twelve hundredth year since its first documented mentioned and the race, sponsored by ZF (Zahnradfabrik—Gear Factory—but also a mostly-owned subsidiary of Zeppelin Foundation, a manufacturer of automotive parts) runs through the region’s forests and vineyards, and it was inspiring in both instances that with maintenance and care such artefacts can remain active parts of the community.

diploma mills

Though not expressly a campaign promise, to undermine yet another aspect of the legacy of President Obama Trump halted the wide-ranging investigation instigated by his predecessor into the predatory practises of for-profit colleges, universities and trade-schools.
Not only will the dead-end schools that offer worthless degrees, engender no sense of collegiality and charge exorbitant, indenturing tuition fees deferred through federal loan programmes (which are no longer tax deductible) that’s essentially a subsidy for the private school industry—like giant retailors who profit through corporate welfare, paying their employees less than a living wage and relying on government aid to keep labour-costs artificially low, their being allowed to continue defrauding the government takes important funding away from struggling public schools and other cultural and educational programmes—not to mention inflating a market bubble whose inevitable implosion is to no one’s benefit.


Today is the Feast of the Pentecost (Pfingsten, previously)—coming ten days after the Feast of the Assumption (Christi Himmelfahrt, a Thursday observance that’s translated into Fathers’ Day in Germany and a long weekend)—which marks what many to believe is the foundational moment of the Church when the Holy Ghost again descends and speaks to His followers.
We have in our front garden what are known as Pfingstrosen (peony in English and named for Paeon the hapless physician’s apprentice of Asclepius who had a bit of an ego problem and did not want to see the student surpassing the teacher, and was turned into a flower by Zeus to protect him from the healer’s wrath) because they bloom around the time of movable feast—too soon but maybe they’ll open up later today.
This year Pentecost—from the Greek for the fifty(ish) day after Passover—coincides with the saint day of Lucifer of Cagliari, a fourth century bishop of Sardinia, who as a staunch orthodox and fighter against Arianism would be pleased to see that the tripartite being of the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost has endured—rather than the heretical belief that Jesus was God’s son and not eternal and coterminous with the divine. While many appreciated Lucifer’s fervent support for one, united theological front, others regarded him as an abrasive bully who did not allow freedom in interpretation. Enjoying fine strawberries on Pfingsten, which we’ll do later, is said to signal a good year for wine.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

star-bellied sneetch

I’d venture that the internet will already have moved beyond this one virulent moment to the next that that makes us reinstate our tribalism and appeal to objective reality, and perhaps the Yanny/Laurel debate (more on auditory hallucinations here) is like anything else in wide circulation and is meant to glean data off us dum-dums, but it probably does bear repeating what we know of the architecture of choice and anticipation (more on suggestibility here) that might limn our decisions in one seemingly irreconcilable way over another.
Our perceptions and memories can drive wedges between groups of people who process the same ploy or appeal in vastly different ways—usually without great consequence like that dress (plus the science behind it) or how one remembers the Berenstein Bears (called the Mandela Affect), but rather than make us cower in doubt of the sturdiness of our senses, we should rather be willing to question our basic assumptions and cultivate more empathy—especially when the stakes are complex and demand attention and effort. One can hear either Yanny or Laurel because the synthesised voice is saying both and neither and one should not let illusion assume and assign membership, including one’s own affiliation.

main street america

Having explored previously the role that goodwill ambassadors played in the geopolitics and image-making during the Cold War for racial-relations and progress (albeit slow, insincere and woefully incomplete) with the grand international tours of the likes of legends like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington as cultural attachés to show the US as an enlightened and equitable society though still tragically treated not much better once back in America, we found this quite well researched and lucid thread—via the inestimable Kottke—involving credentialed ambassadors to be a fascinating, parallel example to consider.
Post World War II saw a tranche of decolonisation in Africa and South East Asia which meant a lot more nations now controlled their own foreign policy and sent ombudsmen off to world capitals and at the UN. In the 1950s and 1960s (and lingering to this day in various forms), segregated restaurants in in the area around Washington, DC and along the corridor connecting Washington to New York City (US Route 40, known as America’s Main Street) refused to serve these newly minted missions to America. Concerned that these African countries might take offense at America’s institutionalised racism and would instead place their fate in Soviet Communism, President Kennedy intervened and demanded that the restaurants make concessions in the name of national interest and relented. The same accommodations were not extended, at least not right away and without more work to be done in the name of civil rights to include an aspirational vision—to locals pretending to be African ambassadors.

Friday, 18 May 2018

mertensian mimicry

Brighton-based illustrator Richard Wilkinson has creatively reimagined insects as vehicles and characters from the Star Wars saga, complete with pseudo-Latin taxonomical designations. These realistically rendered creatures that come to our attention via Colossal are a teaser of sorts for a much larger up-coming volume entitled Arthropoda Iconicus which will reference other characters in popular culture.