Tuesday, 31 July 2018

canting arms

Our gratitude to Dangerous Minds for introducing us to the graphic design studio called Bands FC that creates sort of crests for music groups in the style of football clubs—and vice versâ—applying a system of vexillography and design rules that are rather clever though not entirely comprehensible to me at least, though they helpfully show their work.
It was hard to choose favourites among the musical homages, but there are many more examples are to be found at the links above plus the opportunity to support their operation by purchasing player/performer trading cards or a stylish team jersey with the group’s own logo.

transiting exoplanet survey satellite

Via Gizmodo, we learn that NASA’s TESS probe (previously) has begun survey observations that will examine the motion and luminosity of two hundred thousand nearby stars for tell-tale signatures that they are hosting planetary systems.
The advanced, precision satellite will image an area of sky for twenty seven days before moving on to the next patch, ultimately beaming back telemetry that covers about eighty-five percent of the heavens. The goal of the mission is to provide the successor to Hubble, the upcoming flagship James Webb Space Telescope, with a selection of targets to watch. TESS is scheduled to send its first transmission back to Earth in August and report back every thirteen and a half days thereafter—at the point in its orbit it approaches the closest to home. Considering the wonders already discovered relatively unaided, it’s stultifying to try to imagine what may be revealed to us next.


home-grown: a design studio in Brooklyn grows gourds in moulds to create an alternative to disposable cups

hidden in plain sight: Greenwich’s secret nuclear reactor

mea culpa: social media turns to television advertising in an attempt to win back users’ trust—we’ve seen these on German prime-time too

the colour of pomegranates: rediscovering the suppressed films of director Sergei Parajanov

quiet skies: the US Transportation Security Agency directs air marshals to arbitrarily monitor frequent flyers

an der schönen blauen donau: a time-lapse of a bean germinating into a plant, accompanied by the waltz

king cotton: an art exhibit, referencing the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary, disabuses notions of American exceptionalism

clickbait: a shop sells tee-shirts that purposefully enrage pedants by getting movie quotes and titles slightly wrong, invoking Cunningham’s Law

four panel format

On this day fifty years ago, cartoonist Charles Schultz introduced the first African American character in his nationally syndicated comic strip Peanuts (previously), Franklin Armstrong.
In the wake of the assassination of Dr Rev Martin Luther King Jr and the general tumult of 1968, a school teacher in Los Angeles named Harriet Glickman began a chain of correspondence with the cartoonist, asking him to bring in a black person into the cast. Franklin’s appearances were sporadic until Schulz received a letter from a newspaper editor to the effect that they had no objection to having a black character but implored Schultz not to portray them in school together—which advanced Franklin to the head of the class, seated at the desk in front of Peppermint Patty. The previous year, Schultz introduced an occasional classmate named José Peterson, of mixed Swedish and Mexican heritage, who was possibly the first non-pejorative portrayal of someone of Hispanic descent in comics.

Monday, 30 July 2018


NASA has announced the winners of its assembled in-situ Centennial Challenge competition to design and deliver advanced three-dimensional printed habitats for the Red Planet’s first colonists. The top honour goes to team Zopherus (we were team Marsha, one of the honourable-mentions, pictured above) whose construction concept strikes us as rather like the propagation cycle of a virus, with a lander scouting out an optimal print-area on the Martian surface and then deploying rovers to retrieve building materials to form a host of connected, modular units. Learn more and see conceptual demonstrations of the winner and runners-up at the link above, these picks being the second phase of a multi-year contest that commenced with exploring the technical viability of working with natural building materials (more here) in an arid and alien environment.

foley artists

Coudal Partners’ Fresh Signals directs our attention to the archives of Open Culture (with a nice preamble, segue worth indulging too) from earlier this year announcing that the BBC will make its library of sound effects available to all and can be downloaded, should one find a clever ringtone.
The collection is comprised of over sixteen thousands effects and audio samples that have been used and reused over the decades, and the network was motivated to share its library at the bidding of an organisation that cares for the elderly with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in hopes that the familiar noises might trigger memories and strengthen new associations. Check out the archive for yourself here and let us know some of your resonant favourites.

das kleine fade gehirngefühl

We appreciated the distinct privilege of tagging along on Hyperallergic’s sojourn to the Outsider Art locus of Austria, the Maria Gugging Psychiatric Clinic on the outskirts of Vienna, known for its dedicated art therapy programme.
Unlike the Prinzhorn collection in Heidelberg that was began in the 1920s and hidden from the Nazis to prevent confiscation and destruction as degenerate art, the residents at Gugging were not encouraged to find creative outlets until the late 1950s when Doctor Leo Navratil (*1921 - † 2006) invited people under his care to express their feelings and state of mind through painting, emerging from the institute’s dark past during Nazi occupation which saw some of the most barbaric experimentation on patients. Having discovered many talented individuals within his empanelment, Navratil showcased artists in Viennese museums and galleries and went on to establish a permanent gallery and education centre on the campus in 1981 called Haus der Künstler. A separate pilgrimage, a visit to Gugging by Brian Eno and David Bowie informed the collaborators’ production strategy for the 1995 concept album 1. Outside. Read more about the artists and the institution at the link up top.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

my beautiful laundrette

Our thanks to Plain Magazine for acquainting us with the portfolio of photographer Joshua Blackburn and his current obsession with the idiosyncrasies and common features of the estimated three hundred laundromats of London. Learn more about Coin-Op London and see a growing gallery at the links above.


Dissolving and transferring the assets to its successor, on this day in 1958, Dwight D Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act into law, creating NASA out of its predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, which was primarily responsible for establishing US air supremacy during World War, as a wholly civil venture to promote exploration and peaceable application of space science.
The Advanced Research Products Agency (ARPA) and successor DARPA constituted earlier in the same year would continue to champion military applications of rocketry and telemetry for defensive and offensive drills and operations. Precipitated by America being caught nearly entirely off-guard by the USSR’s launch of the Sputnik satellite, the agency signalled the full faith and support of the government for advancing science for its own sake—even if the underlying motives themselves were not purely academic.

Saturday, 28 July 2018

iot or dressed to the nines

Via Marginal Revolution, we’re given a not too nice taste of things to come in the form of a line of apparel that’s basically window-dressing for a brand loyalty programme—embedded chips that connect via Bluetooth to one’s digital devices monitor how often and where one goes with the clothes and accessories on.
People who buy the jeans, hoodies and fanny packs are incentivised to submit to tracking through an augmented reality experience, like past games, that allows participants to earn virtual tokens that somehow translate into discounts for more of this clothing brand and exclusive invitations to branded fashion shows, which strikes me as a little nauseating already. What do you think? The Internet of Things certainly has the potential to be innovative and help us make informed decisions about the use of finite resources, time and attention but this gimmick doesn’t seem to be leading us down the right path and I fear that there’s too much temptation to harness the vulnerable and tawdry (we’ve seen a lot of examples) rather than align with what’s truly smart.


Diverted by our familiars at Strange Company, we thoroughly enjoyed sharing the discovery of an 1803 chapbook found at the Bishopsgate Library with illustrations of the cries and criers of London.
The pictured Hot Cross Buns! was our favourite but there were many more choice one to be found at the link above with dozens of other collections to peruse, specific to certain streets, markets and characters plus the opportunity to own a handsome volume that collects much of this ephemera to relate an ethnography seldom told and definitely worth a look around besides.

stacking problem

Researchers have described a new geometric solid, a scutoid, whose sides are comprised of a triangle, a hexagon, three rectangles and three pentagons that forms a sort of tapered prism, which were determined through computer modelling and observation to be the most efficient shape for cells to assume as they laid down layers upon layer of tissue during growth and development—sort of like the hexagonal frame of the cell of a beehive. The team named the new shape after the scutellum—Latin for little shield—of a beetle, part of the thorax and abdomen that incorporates most of the same eight shapes as above but head-on, across a two-dimension surface.


Thanks to Miss Cellania’s Links we are rather taken for the moment marvelling over this collection of the greatest practical and special effects of cinema from the A/V Club. Far surpassing just the supercut of videos that we were expecting, each vignette is treated separately, given context and in chronological order, so like an in depth course in filmmaking history.

Friday, 27 July 2018

heat map

The European Commission in partnership with the European Space Agency maintains its Copernicus Emergency Management Service to track and model disasters world wide—both natural and manmade to include global flood awareness systems, displaced populations, a drought observatory and a global wildfire information system which monitors for threats in near-real time and provides an on-demand charting provision to aid in risk assessment, response and recovery operations. Above is a snapshot of the present situation, mapping fire risk. With conditions exacerbated by climate change and parts of the world becoming increasingly uninhabitable for life of all sorts, we are all stakeholders.

bišu šūnas

Reflecting on Albert Einstein’s dire and prescient warning about how if we eradicated the bees, we’d be soon to follow, Latvian designer Arthur Analts carried the competition to create a unique and collectable 5 € coin for the ecologically conscious country in the form of a honeycomb, whose shape also references the geography of the nation and the Gulf of Riga. The euro replaced the lats and santīmi in 2014 when the country became one nineteen member states to use the domination. Among those Analts beat out were the entrants from the British design agency who cleverly ran a counter-commemorative currency campaign to what the Royal Mint thought symbolised the UK. Be sure to visit the link up top to learn more.

water column

Oceanographers in Queensland for the first time have produced a comprehensive, global map charting out the pristine, untouched areas of oceanic wilderness, which sadly reveals that there is only a small percentage not already befouled by mankind.
Researchers admit that they were expecting to find much broader expanses of unspoilt waters and ecosystems but these contrary results, testament to the endless assault that people are waging with careless pollution, climate change heating up waters and disrupting currents, over-fishing, sand-mining (the chief component of all the concrete and glass that goes into new construction) and intensive shipping, demonstrate the degree of negative, disruptive impact that humans have had above and below the waves.

liner notes

On this day thirty five years ago, Madonna released her eponymous debut album, including the songs “Borderline, “Lucky Star” and “Holiday.” Dismissed by some critics at the time as a one hit-wonder, the artist thanked them during her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a quarter of a century after the album’s release offering that “they pushed me to be better and I am grateful for their resistance.” In that spirit, we should take a moment to appreciate the influence and the legacy of this opening opus.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

outstanding in his field

Reading a gentle and sincere appreciation of sparing a lone oak tree in a field and speculating on the farmer’s motivations for doing so inspired me to share one of our favourite examples that we pass quite often. I’ll admit that I have a weakness for pausing to admire a windbreak or a tree thriving in isolation.


A hat-tip to and in full agreement with the source that directed our attention to another visual chronicle from Alan Taylor exclaiming that 1988 doesn’t seem like three decades ago but here we are.
We enjoyed perusing some of the iconic images of the cultural and historic touchstones of the year that punctuated with (the mostly not pictured) establishment of the internet with the first trans-Atlantic connections and also the advent of the first computer viruses (you don’t get the automobile without the traffic jam and car wreck), the Soviet Union began to transition away from a strictly command economy and travel-restrictions were relaxed, the discovery of the first exoplanet—though unconfirmed until 2002, and the beginning of the campaign to eradicate polio.


parkour: flip book style animation from Serene Teh

hollywoodland: a look at the Goldstein residence of Beverly Hills, featured in Charlie’s Angels and The Big Lebowski

kgb vs kfc: the football that Putin presented Trump does in fact have a chip in it but is probably harmless

vice squad: the sting that led to the arrest of Stormy Daniels was a premeditated set-up

regnal periods: a visually sharp presentation of Roman emperors by year

land transport authority: an elegant map of Singapore’s metro-system

Wednesday, 25 July 2018


Using a sounding technique that revealed the existence of a sub-glacial sea under the Antarctic ice sheet, European Space Agency researchers believe that they may have detected a shallow lake of liquid water beneath the ice-capped Martian south pole. The telemetry gathered by the Mars Express, a satellite laboratory that’s orbited the planet for the past fifteen years is still being interpreted but it’s definitely something and bear the signature of a briny sea, some twenty kilometres across but buried under a kilometre and half of frozen ice.


Building on the success of his social medial following, archivist and graphic designer Richard Baird, as Dezeen reports, will be issuing a quarterly magazine to highlight the simple brilliance of Mid-Century Modern (1945-1975) minimalist logos, carefully selected and curated as the best in branding, like this 1974 symbol designed by Patrick Dugast for le Club de la Publicité of Québec, whose mascot is cleverly drawn out of the negative space framed by a “CP.” Visit the links above for more classically timeless and inspired emblems.  

antisocial media or latent response

Duck Soup directs our attention to an engrossing article that prises open the imagination and invites us to consider a counter-factual situation that does not presently seem so difficult to indulge and undo in questioning the way the dominant social media platforms—outside of China—are presented to us.
Was the shape the platform took inevitable and from an economic stance, the only model that made business sense and was sustainable? A personalised newspaper was foisted on users—the public essentially though I think the interlocutors are giving more credit than is due—that nobody asked for and people disliked but one that was pernicious and easily reinforced. Optimised to peddle advertisements with “connection” management or networking as a vehicle—verses a public entity or subscription service—do we necessarily arrive at manipulation and tribalism? The struggle to be omnipresent means that we can’t even be present much of the time. The interview also presents an interesting juxtaposition in how the unrestrained ambitions of the Western market to surpass relaying messages and allowing users to curate a persona and alter how we interact runs parallel to China’s universal interface and smacks of a weirdly monolithic showdown.

assignment baghdad

Geoff Manaugh, author of the always intriguing and philosophically indulgent BLDGBlog, contributes a rather cloak and dagger tale to the Daily Beast about a graduate class of aspiring architects who may have unwittingly enabled the precision and sustained bombing campaign during Operation Desert Storm (the Persian Gulf War)—rather than preserving Iraqi buildings that might fall victim to the imminent invasion.
The students gathered blue-prints and layouts of every structure in the city, granting military planners the details to put a missile down a chimney or fire a rocket through a window. One wonders how often intelligence and academic research might intersect—especially counter to the sentiments and the motivations of the researchers. Manaugh also offers in the accompanying blog post an interesting exploration of the history of keeping building plans out of enemy hands and the lengths one would go to in order to keep them secret. What do you think? One would always trust an architect with one’s potential vulnerabilities without arousing suspicion.


At the sole initiative—though the effort took a high personal toll—of the attested hellenophile couple Eva and Angelos Sikelianos the first Delphic Festival took place in May of 1927, as Messy Nessy Chic informs, with the aim of promoting universal respect and understanding, hoping that the amphictyonic nature of the site—that is, a cooperative oracle shared among the city states of Greece, could be a harmonising focal point for peace. Activities included tours of the archaeological site, traditional Greek music performed by locals, lectures, athletic games and stage plays. The elaborate affair was funded exclusively by the Sikelianos and they managed another iteration three years later with the backing of the Greek government with costs defrayed with a national lottery.
The Sikelianos however did not see festivals and tourism as an end in themselves and hoped that the attention garnered would transfer to support for the establishment of an education centre based on Delphic ideals. A victim of their own success, backing for anything other than the fêtes was not forthcoming and deflated, Eva decided to return to America to try to renew her theatrical productions there, parting with Angelos on amiable terms. Invited to head the Federal Theatre Project in New York to help out unemployed actors, writers and directors during the Great Depression, Sikelianos produced many Greek tragedies and went on to form a dance company. Learn more and find a whole gallery of images from the Delphic Festivals at the links up top.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

lanx satura

Though in classical myth without philosophical interpretation, the god Momus—son of virgin Nyx—is portrayed as the personification of reproach (Μῶμος) and is credited with the agitating presence that provoked the other Olympians to take sides in the Trojan War, the expelled minor deity is somewhat rehabilitated and appreciated in later traditions as the embodiment of satire and candour for his open criticism of the gods and their follies.
According to Æsop, Momus was banished for mocking the gods’ handiwork after being invited to judge them: decrying Hephaestus’ latest creation man as poorly designed as he’d failed to install a door in their chest so as to see their true nature in their hearts. Momus was equally harsh on Athena’s architecture for not being mobile to escape bad neighbours. Lastly, he pointed out that Poseidon’s bull was not as formidable as it could be because its horns got it the way of its eyes. Momus also had some choice insults for the other gods and goddesses. His cult saw a revival in the seventeenth century as a way to lampoon contemporary politics as an allegorical way to reform the Star Chamber—camera stellata, a court of parliamentary privilege that became synonymous with arbitrary judgment—of Heaven, the establishment pining for someone unafraid to challenge the hierarchy.


Via Slashdot, we learn that a team of researchers associated with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute have achieved a significant technical milestone in creating the first digital topographical map of a fruit fly brain, a composite of thousands of slices and millions of images. The nanoscale resolution and completeness that could only be practically accomplished with the help of automation allows scientists to monitor the connections of a single neurone to another across and examine the precise web and discharge patterns underpinning specific behaviours of these complex and sophisticated creatures. For scale, entering the mind of a fly we find a network of approximately one hundred thousand neuronal nodes, whereas in humans there are one hundred billion, each with synaptic connections to seven thousand neighbours.

non sequitur

Via Kottke’s Quick Links, we learn that the palaeontological community has formally accepted the name thagomizer for the anatomical arrangement of spikes on the tails of stegosauroid dinosaurs.
Coined in a 1982 comic by Gary Larson, the term was already in common-parlance, having been adopted and championed by several authoritative text books and museums and in the panel was named in honour of a departed caveman. We enjoyed seeing the Wikipedia stub on the naming waxing pedantic in pointing out, “The cartoon fate of Thag Simmons notwithstanding, stegosaurs and humans did not exist in the same era,” apparently not for the first time, as Larson suggested there be a sort of confessional whereby cartoonists can ask for absolution for such transgressions. A highly specialised parasitic louse that only plagues a species of owl in central Africa called Strigiphilus garylarsoni is named after the author.

Monday, 23 July 2018

i am only one of six people in space

On Friday night (and I can’t imagine how we missed this spectacle but we can all enjoy it now) Kraftwerk’s (previously here, here and here) founding member Ralf Hüttner synced up with German astronaut Alexander Gerst aboard the International Space Station to deliver a short lesson on space exploration and perform live a duet of the group’s 1978 song Spacelab for their closing number at the Stuttgart Jazz Open Air festival.  It is unclear if the crew’s executive assistant played any role in scheduling this act.

geobra brandstätter

Via Present /&/ Correct, we are treated to the grand tour of the factory located in the Maltese industrial estate of Ħal Far where since 1976, all Playmobil figures have been manufactured.
The Zirndorf-headquartered company turned to the newly independent Mediterranean nation because of near full-employment in West Germany at the time and has been pleased with the decision ever since. Seeing all the plastic bits are a bit harrowing in the present light of ocean pollution (the vignette dates back to the company’s fortieth anniversary), but Playmobil has always been a committed steward of resources and the environment, the line itself a product of the Oil Crisis of the 1970s, having gone into production in the first place by dent of its more efficient design that used less plastic than other toys.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

and little lambs eat ivy

A class of phonological sound junctures, like an eggcorn, called an oronym describes what occurs verses honouring stops and pauses and eliding over them—like I scream for ice cream, four candles instead of fork handles.
In most other languages it retains its original sense—after the Greek ὄρος for studying the naming-conventions of mountains and mountain-dwellers and the continuum or isolation among valley residents, and in a sense, the pronunciation and stress differences could be like a distinct alpine dialect. A reverse example, presented to make it hard for the listener or reader to interpret, due to an intentional challenging presentation—like in the novelty song, “Mairzy Doats” (and dozy doats).


We just had the first rain showers in weeks yesterday afternoon and the forest did indeed have the scent of something distinctively divine, so we appreciated friend of the blog Nag on the Lake making us wise to the phenomenon that goes by the name petrichor.
From the Greek for stone plus the term ἰχώρ for the ethereal fluid that flows through the veins of the immortals instead of blood, the description for a rich, earthy smell that was around since before there were human noses to detect it was only coined in 1964 by a pair of researchers found that plants released a certain oil into the soil during times of drought to chemically signal to other plants not to germinate right now. Rain drops (especially a gentle and steady fall) aerosolise the oil that’s reacted with the soil as sort of a collected sigh of relief and celebration—an odour which humans appreciate instinctively too as a sign that their crops are saved. We hope other places get relief from this heat wave soon as well.


nimby: home garden phenology is perhaps the essential first step for combating climate change and the loss of the ecosystems we all depend on

keep america great: Trump’s re-election *sighs* motto isn’t particularly original

prophet of doom: machine translation, like deep dreaming, yields some sinister prognostications with eschatological overtones, via Boing Boing

dyi or mend and make due: the global network of repair cafes has grown to more than sixteen hundred strong

found footage: television curator extraordinaire comes across a BBC engineering test and breaks it down to its component segments

octonions: the strange properties of eight dimensional numbers could potential reveal something fundamental about the nature of reality, via Marginal Revolution

closer: a 1991 real estate brokerage video’s vision of the future 

dark arts

Scientists could mine for evidence of dark matter indirectly by careful study of core samples from deep beneath the Earth’s surface and looking for glitches in the samples recovered.
By glitches, we don’t mean impurities or Golden Spikes in the ancient samples but rather some ghostly and microscopic structural flaw that might only be explained by interaction with membranes of dark matter that the Earth passes through. Anything sufficiently large and stable has an uptapped role as a cosmic detector for such phenomena.  Research might even render us the ability to conjure up dark matter by inducing the signature types of material flaws found.  Visit BLDGBLOG at the link up top for more metaphysical speculations.

Friday, 20 July 2018

the fix is in

Via an engrossing discussion on the word like gaining the status of a tmesis, from the Greek for “I cut,” as in parsed phrases “fan-f’ing-tastic” or “un-f’ing-believable,” with its premiere as a milder way to express shock and hyperbole—“un-like-sympathetic”—we learn more about the parts of speech categorised as affixes.

An infix, inserted within a word, is a pretty rare occurrence in English outside of chemistry jargon, but some colloquial examples include hizouse and edumacation, affecting an air of sophistication with the superfluous syllable. Another category is the linking element the interfix, like the s or z appearing in many German compound words like Arbeitszimmer (office) or the connecting o of pedometer and odometer.

the president isn’t not in putin’s pocket


for whom the bell tolls

Currently on display in the operating theatre of Berlin’s Humboldt University, Hyperallergic’s reflection upon experiencing the bleak and forlorn installation of Crystelle Vu’s and Julian Oliver’s “Extinction Gong” is certainly worth your consideration.
A litotic tribute to mark the death of an entire species, a Chao gong decorated with an hourglass annihilation symbol clangs out a sobering, echoing crash every nineteen minutes, calculated to be the average frequency that the Earth loses an insect, animal or plant—known or undiscovered—due to the intervention of humans. Attempts to upgrade the automaton to name and eulogise species as they pass has run into technical difficulties, mounting insult, certainly—but somehow fitting with humanity’s rapaciousness.

calling on, in transit

Having closed down operations once the countries were admitted into the European Union, Radio Free Europe is restarting programming in Romania and Bulgaria due to a sharp increase in the incidence of false reporting in efforts to combat the spread of disinformation.
During the Hungarian Revolt of 1956, Radio Free Europe was accused of stoking revolution by promising that American help was imminent, which was counter to US foreign policy at the time and no intervention was forthcoming—resulting in a major overhaul on how the organisation was administered, geared to protect journalists’ independence and not to promote an agenda. When the country was a Soviet satellite, Romanian leader Nicolae Ceaușescu regarded the station a serious threat and provocateur and waged a campaign of counter-programming with Operation Ether, which included discrediting and assassinating reporters. Though activities have been significantly curtailed since the end of the Cold War, the Prague-based broadcaster maintains some seventeen local bureaus and is present in over twenty-five countries, including Russia (Radio Liberty was the name of the station dedicated to broadcasting to the USSR until the stations merged in 1976), in jurisdictions which the organisation assesses are not fully matured in regards to the unfettered flow of information.


Rather than lobby for better laws governing access and ownership of fire arms, invasive and error-prone facial recognition software is being offered to US school districts, at no cost, to monitor students and staff and ostensibly improve school security.
It’s such a tragedy and disgrace that young children are already inculcated to holding drills in case there’s an intruder with a gun, they deserve far, far better and should not also be inured into a surveillance state where their identity and whereabouts can be telegraphed (and preserved for later) to health insurance providers, debt-collectors or immigration officials.

Thursday, 19 July 2018


constructive-destructive axis: insightful career advice from Steve Jobs

empathy does not equal endorsement: an anthology of presentations on hatred and seeing others as multidimensional beings

life in plastic, it’s fantastic: Barbie presents some sophisticated, inspiring vignettes

badekultur: German photographer Stephan Zirwes showcases public pools from above to reinforce the value of facilities open to all

we are not amused: the Queen telegraphs her feelings through her choice of jewellery (previously)

pure salvage: the 1905 shipwreck of a lost Russian cruiser has been located, purportedly with a cargo of hundreds of tonnes in gold—via Slashdot

hunky dunky: a Spanish digital illustration studio’s refreshing summer diary

garbage in/gorgeous out: aspire to be value-added in all you do 

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

a fine-tuned machine

Pressed for an answer by his ministry of propaganda, the piece of filth Trump reaffirmed his lack of commitment to the North Atlantic Treat Organisation—despite taking credit for “fixing” the institution after last week’s summit by expressing doubts in the pact’s provision of collective defence—that an attack on one member is an attack on all members, offering up Montenegro as the first concession to Russia. “Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people. They are an aggressive people,” Trump said, having shoved the prime minister of the south eastern European republic, formerly part of Yugoslavia, Duško Marković aside to get the best spot for a group photograph at a conference. “They may get aggressive and congratulations, you are in World War III.” Jesus wept.


I picked up on the term for a musical sub-genre that resonated with me encountered on a podcast, applied to second wave 80s songs from the UK that integrate soul and jazz elements, often performed with synthesisers and saxophone interludes. Artist classified as sophisti-pop include Swing Out Sister, Sade, Simply Red, Level 42 and the Blow Monkeys.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

a family affair

Our faithful chronicler, Doctor Caligari, reports that this day—among many other things—the proclamation in 1917 from King George V to change the family surname from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor in order to distance the royal family from a rather serious internecine spat amongst the extended family.
Also on this day in the following year, George’s cousin Nicholas and his family were assassinated by Bolshevik revolutionaries in Yerkaterinburg, the Romanovs having been deposed during the October Revolution and sent into internal exile. This day in 1945 also marks the start of the two week Potsdam conference, convened by the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and US President Harry Truman, coming together to decide on the administration of defeated Nazi Germany and post-war order.


Via Weird Universe, we discover what’s purported to by the first spectacles that help to recalibrate and re-orient the senses and reduce incidents of motion sickness and vertigo through a meniscus of flowing liquid that is interpreted by the brain as level ground—introduced by French automobile manufacturer Citroën.
It’s a clever idea that apparently works, but it also strikes me as finding a remedy for the intolerance for reading or consulting one’s devices while in a moving vehicle to which a bit of nausea seems like a natural and healthy consequence. From the Greek for seasickness, the feeling arises as a defence against having accidentally eaten neurotoxins, eliciting what the brain understands as hallucination, feeling motion but not seeing it, and encourages one’s stomach to reject what was last put into it. That said, I know others suffer from it acutely, over screen-time or not, and hope that they can get some relief from these glasses.

sphere of influence

While harbouring strong suspicions that Trump would compromise the office of presidency for personal gain all along, for him to reveal himself to be the Manchurian Candidate that American voters elected and have endured with precious little stint publicly and a puppet installed at the pleasure of Moscow was pretty arresting to witness.
Like his vacillating, disgusting comments that ought not have been tolerated in the fatal aftermath of a white supremacists rally, lauding “fine people on both sides,” the useful idiot betrayed his government in deference, appeasement to the words of a foreign adversary—unfortunately probably mooting the special council investigation’s ultimate findings and whether or not Putin is in possession of any incriminating material on Trump since it does not seem to matter and there couldn’t be anything worse than the dimwit has already expressed and done. Now the decisive question is whether America the client state, complacent and complicit, afforded the false dignities of the paraphernalia of independence reasserts itself in the face of tyrannies that are far nimbler and without the ballast of the framework of limitations and protections and responsibilities put in place to prevent abuse and ransom.

true colours

In order to bypass prevailing homophobic attitudes in Russia, bolstered by laws that make illegal to display the rainbow Pride flag among other symbols, six activists donned the jerseys of six different World Cup teams, we learn via Messy Nessy Chic, to subtly insert themselves as a human banner to promote equity and human rights while the matches were being hosted. Visit the links above to learn more.


Building off the incredible success of the release and lasting reception of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts’ Club Band album the year prior, animation producer George Dunning enlisted the singing talents of the Beatles and created the feature-length Yellow Submarine. Adored by audiences and critics, it lent credence to animation as a serious art form and brought more interest to filmmaking within this genre, the movie premiered in London on this day in 1968.

Monday, 16 July 2018

test audience

Having recently indulged the imagination by envisioning how iconic film directors might stage a meal presentation in their signature styles, we appreciated Open Culture’s showcasing of the very non-hypothetical compilation of television commercials (previously) created by David Lynch. Some were targeted for specific markets only, like advertisements for a very early incarnation of canned coffee in Japan featuring the cast of Twin Peaks (including the Log Lady) and a duly disturbing anti-litter public service announcement for New York City, but there are also some pretty anodyne and universal ones as well.

i would return to criticism that it wasn’t good enough—that i should have gotten saint petersburg in addition

After reducing relations between the United States and its NATO partners to the worst state since the founding of the alliance (calling the EU a “foe”), Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin convened for a private meeting in neutral Helsinki.
Uncertain about objectives or talking-points, I think that this event was orchestrated not only to inflame Europe but also to disrupt (maybe primarily) Amazon Prime Day—to uncut the press outlet owned by the same entities, which Trump again called the enemy of the people. In his preamble, Trump made no mention of the annexation of Crimea, treatment of dissenting voices, the proxy-wars in Syria and Iran or the broad subterfuge operation directed in order to skew outcomes in the US presidential and other elections as cause for tensions but instead choose to blame “many years of US foolishness and the stupidity, and now the Rigged Witch Hunt!” for strained relations characterised as never worse—eliding over the entire history of the Cold War and dashing hopes that Trump will make any demands of his Russian counterpart or again don the mantle of leadership befitting a super power, rather than stooping to elevate tyrants.

relativistic astronomy

Ambitious projects like Breakthrough Starshot (previously)—which aims by means of a laser propelled solar sail to achieve a velocity of twenty percent of the light-speed and to reach the nearest star system to our own, Rigel Kentaurus, within two decades—could yield unimaginable scientific data even prior to arriving at their destination, as Universe Today reports, by demonstrating what traveling at low-warp looks like to for the vessel and payload of instruments.
In other words, the voyage itself becomes a practical exercise for the thought-experiment of imagining what a photographer finds in the scope of a camera accelerating to such speeds.  It’s difficult to say how much distortion that this so-called method of Doppler boosting might have, but the speed of the probe should result in observations that overcome—to a degree—the predominating red-shift (caused by cosmic expansion) and turn the light of distant stars bluer and to ranges easier to measure, bringing our picture of the Universe into sharper focus.  Furthermore, testing some of the tenets set forth in the theory we would be wiser for the journey, either reinforcing or causing us to revise our understanding of the Cosmos.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

he told me i should sue the eu

purl 2.0

We were delighted to discover that among the wide array of peripheral devices and accessories (previously) for Nintendo’s range of video game consoles included a full-sized, functioning sewing machine, manufactured by the company Jaguar and licensed by Singer, that plugged into the Game Boy Colour handheld and could be programmed to produce elaborate stitches and embroidery—as well as learning a practical skill.
It would have been pretty keen to monogram all one’s clothes. There’s a really in depth and well-researched video documentary of the sewing machine’s history, available in Japanese, European and America markets back in 2001. A fitting sort of homage to the fact that the first punch card readers were used in industrial looms to produce increasingly sophisticated textiles and patterns, there was also a video game (apparently only for domestic markets) called Mishin Sashi Senyou (みしん さし せにょう, Let’s have a Seat!) Soft: Mario Family that was a sewing sampler challenge of Mario Brothers goodies and baddies.