Wednesday, 17 October 2018


dance dance revolution: Waxy reminds us of the classic Gif Dance Party and directs us to an updated 3D version  

colloquium: trippy 1974 poster from UC Berkley announcing a special lecture on artificial intelligence

redundancies: a hauntingly deserted fully automated warehouse operation in Japan

gustatory perception: a museum in Malmo showcasing the world’s most reviled food items invites a conversation on the nature of revulsion and taste (relatedly)

seven square miles: a bird’s eye view of various vistas around the world from the Atlantic’s Alan Taylor

event horizon: a good primer on the project to use the Earth as a giant telescope to image the super-massive black hole in the centre of the Milky Way

uptown spot: a twerking Boston Dynamics’ robot dog challenges us to a dance-off 

dogs playing poker

The latest addition to Everlasting Blört’s expansive tribute Donald Trump is a piece of artwork that’s actually hanging in the White House—minus the Hieronymus Bosch (previously) background that lends an aesthetic merit not otherwise present.

The White House curatorial team has access to collections from museums around the world and can request any number of pieces be loaned for display on the walls of the residence and take the job of decorating quite seriously, given the symbolism and geopolitical undertones art can convey. The Republican Club (see the original here with the subjects labelled, Trump seated at a table joined by Richard Nixon, Abraham Lincoln, George W Bush, Ronald Reagan and Dwight Eisenhower—but caution as there is an accompanying video that automatically plays) somehow snuck in. Incidentally, the anonymous out of focus woman in the actual background of the painting represents the first Republican female president. Get more Daily Donald at Everlasting Blört here and at the link up top.

message received, noted, acted on

 “Pulling up at the door the very moment Madame was ready,” Weird Universe gives us a 1961 vision of things to come with a ride-hailing service with a fleet of mini-cabs were dispatched (at a third of the cost of a taxi journey) by radio-telephone, unlicensed operators prevented from accepting fares.

decorative gourd season

Building off an earlier exercise in training a neural network to conjure up extremely plausible sounding names for craft beer and small batch breweries, Janelle Shane (previously here and here) brilliantly tweaked the naming conventions slightly to infuse the results with pumpkin spice and other seasonal trappings. Here are some of our favourites but they whole beer menu is definitely worth sampling:

Bog Porter
Winter Winter This Dead Ale
Warmer Hollow
Ale Gore
Spice Prophecy
Pumpkin Disaster
Faceless Ole Ale
Winter Zuul

Check out AI Weirdness (aka Lewis and Quark) at the link above for more and to study the methodology and learn how to develop an artificial intelligence of your own.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

vacancy announcement

Learning that the social media accounts of the newly elected Iraqi prime minister were absolutely inundated with over thirty thousand applications by those who wanted to join the government after taking to the medium to solicit for appointees, we were reminded of the concept of sortation—rule by lottery—we explored last week. Wanting to disburden himself from a fraught political past of sectarian tensions, corruption and nepotism, Adil Abd al-Mahdi was overwhelmed and heartened by the depth and range of independent applicants interested in cabinet positions, willing to work to rebuild the country.

lumen gentium

Though his feast day is celebrated on 22 October to coincide with his papal inauguration, on this date in 1978 Cardinal Karol Józef Wojtyła (*1920 - † 2005) was elected by papal conclave and took the regnal name John Paul II in tribute to his predecessor who died after only a month in office.
His nearly three decade reign, the first non-Italian officer-holder in four-hundred and fifty years, is recognised for its influence in the peaceful dissolution of Communist rule in Eastern Europe, a marked improvement in inter-faith relations, diplomacy and a belief that the vocation of holiness was a universal one and a part of human nature, hence his unprecedented number of beatifications and canonisations.


Thanks to this comprehensive primer via Nag on the Lake, we can better appreciate news of this planned restoration of the monumental masterpiece by Rembrandt van Rijn that will take place on display to the world.
One of the most prominent piece in the collection (previously) of the Rijksmuseum, the 1642 commission by company commander Captain Frans Banninck Cocq, dashingly dressed in black with the red sash and depicted at nearly life-sized scales, is a group portrait of his shooting militia guards. According to the museum’s general director, Taco Dibbits, the project—the embodiment of slow television, will take place over several years and involve hundreds of experts from the art world—already captivating the public before it even begins next July. Learn much about the painting’s symbolism, cultural legacy and conservation at the resources above.

holding pattern

Via the ever excellent Everlasting Blört, we are treated to one of the side projects from the extensive portfolio of designer and art director Lauren O’Neill with this curated gallery of airport runways and landing fields captured from above. Working nearly directly under a busy flight path myself, it’s an intriguing idea to contemplate and marvel at the symmetry of safety and logistics and wonder what sorts of aerial imagery I can find myself.

Monday, 15 October 2018

transportation authority

For several weeks now with no intentions of looking back—even I hope when the weather turns a bit wintry since that’s an incentive in itself to not have to fret about icy roads—I’ve been riding the bus to and from work and foregoing the car altogether during the week. Granted, I realise that it ought to make me a bit self-conscious in mentioning this, sort of like on Absolutely Fabulous when Edina says to Patsy, “Yes, but Sweetie, I will not have my daughter thinking she’s so great because she can use public transport.”
And to Saffron, “Anybody can use public transport, Darling!” To which Saffron replies, “I know. That’s the point.” I wonder, however, why it took me so long to realise exactly how convenient it is with even the bear minimum of planning, discipline or pocket-change.
Intrigued by these campaigns to make buses and metro lines free and eliminate fares (we were not part of the trials) and have so far avoided going for less expensive ticketing alternatives to support a service that might be at the liminal reach for others, I wonder how many more passengers we might be able to recruit by offering the same sweep discounts—which are still very, very affordable considering the dividends that one is getting in return.
What do you think? One needs to be willing, I think, to make some outlays to rescue us from ourselves.  I don’t know that I’d have bothered with trying the bus out of a stubborn perception that happily never had the chance to bear out of inconvenience but if the routes and schedules didn’t suit, I guess the alternative to taking the car (which I can report is one the streets fully six to eight times fewer per week) would be less than optimal. I think that the element of synchronicity must be sold (buses need better PR agents since they are vehicles of change far more important than individual electric cars, though our fleet is electric as well) before we can talk about cheaper fares. These images are of upholstery patterns on buses that I’ve recently took.


mystery machine: a 1999 Scooby-Doo parody of “The Blair Witch Project” from Cartoon Network

the history league: jerseys for fantasy sports teams centred on momentous events, via Shadow Manor’s Art of Darkness

popular science: though presently mostly relegated to children’s literature, pop-up books were once the stuff of serious textbooks

feng shui: the opening of Kyoto’s first dispersed hotel promises visitors an authentic, immersive experience in the old capital

public service announcement: contemporary artists offers updates on the iconic vintage series from the Works Progress Administration, a New Deal organisation

siren song: the micronation of Užpis, an enclave in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius


Sunday, 14 October 2018

embassy row

On learning that Ankara has announced its intentions to rename the street on which the new US embassy compound is being constructed Malcolm X Avenue (with the support of the civil rights activist’s family who President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with last month) after the figure whose reputation remains divisive—particularly I would suppose for those occupying the White House presently, I was reminded how back in February, the street address for the current US diplomatic mission to Turkey had been reflagged as “Olive Branch” after the code-name for one of its military forays into Syria to signal displeasure for what is seen as American meddling. There’s quiet a long history behind casting ambassadorial side-eye (starting at the link above) by forcing one’s ideological foils to accept deliveries at insulting or compromising addresses though the most unabashed proposals have yet to materialise. The new building is scheduled to open in 2020

all would be well if, if, if—say the green bells of cardiff

By touching coincidence, we are acquainted through the help of the always brilliant Nag on the Lake to the haunting lyrics of the American folksinger and political activist Pete Seeger’s ballad “The Bells of Rhymney,” sourced to Welsh miner turned poet Idris Davies on the same day that the worse mining accident in the history of the UK occurred one hundred and five years prior, the Senghenydd colliery disaster (1913).
Following the structure of the English nursery rhyme “Oranges and Lemons (Say the bells of Saint Clement’s),” Davies and Seeger count off the communities visited by hardship and loss throughout resource-rich but exploited land. In Glamorgan, Wales, the coal mines referenced above near Caerphilly have their own stanza in the original verse:

They will plunder willy-nilly,
Say the bells of Caerphilly.

After Seeger’s introduction of the sad lament, several other artists produced cover versions of the song—most famously The Byrds but also John Denver, Bob Dylan, Murray Head, The Band, Robyn Hitchcock and Sonny and Cher in 1965.

bright phoebus

We could certainly not fault Mister Metzger for resorting to catch-penny, clickbait headline in order to persuade visitors it was a worthwhile dalliance to spare a moment to enjoy listening to the somewhat experimental album from the British folk group The Watersons, hailing from Hull and reliant on harmonisation rather than much in the way of accompaniment to make their music with “Bright Phoebus.”
While this recording is certainly not for everyone just as it was a commercial non-starter of a departure from the idylls that the group’s fans were accustomed to, sometimes songs need champions and cheerleaders to evangelise on their behalf. Do give it a listen (more tracks at the link above—and maybe don’t let your judgment settle on the first time around, which is I suppose a tremendous ask) and let us know what you think.  Discover more songs from the album and the rest of The Watersons’ discography at Dangerous Minds at the link above.

capcom 1

Coincidentally also on this day in 1968, the crew of Apollo 7 mission—the first manned one of the project, broadcast the first live television transmission from an American aircraft in orbit. The eleven day mission was to test and re-engineer equipment that would put Apollo 8 in lunar orbit—and despite “mutinous” grumblings by the crew being confined to such a small space for an unprecedented length of time and not to mention having cameras trained on them the whole time, the mission was technical success.

roundhay garden scene

On this day in 1888, artist and inventor Louis Le Prince (previously) captured a two-second moving tableau with his camera at the estate of Joseph and Sarah Whitley in Leeds, the subjects being Prince’s in-laws plus a friend of the family taking a stroll through the garden. This silent moment, some twenty frames, of footage is developed on paper film is believed to be the oldest surviving recorded motion picture.  Learn more at the link above.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

world, hold on

Released in 2006 by French DJ and producer Bob Sinclar (“Love Generation” and the Rock this Party re-mix of “Everybody Dance Now”) and house music performer Steve Edwards, the music video for “World, Hold On (Children of the Sky)” of a young boy who endeavors to save the planet from an impending cosmic catastrophe with the help of his dog, a science textbook and a rocket ship built in his bedroom.

dilute to taste

Via the always captivating Present /&/ Correct, we are thoroughly enjoying browsing this expansive vintage archive of food packaging from British grocer Sainsbury’s.
Perhaps especially cringe-worthy now and fitting with this tall drink of orange but in efforts to recover from a long, marked decline after the departure of long-time CEO Baron Sainsbury in 1992 and increased competition, the company launched a recovery plan in 2004 touted as “Making Sainsbury’s Great Again.” While the restructuring was in the beginning viewed favourably by industry partners, moves taken eventually led to the end of independence for the brand with it being acquired by Walmart and subsequently merged with the Asda chain.


By way of a rather violent plan to protest the US electoral system—which was thwarted, TYWKIWDBI reacquaints us with the form of governance called sortition or rule by allotment. There would be no campaigning or focus on re-election and holding on to power (though I guess there’s ever the chance for collusion and cronyism) since representatives and parliamentarians would be chosen at random (by lots) out of a pool of willing and competent citizens who all have the equal chance to govern for a term.  What do you think?
Since there’s no money to be made from this style of selecting our officials and by contrast too much circulating in partisan politics, I doubt it would gain traction anywhere today—though the ancient Athenians considered these chance appointments to be a hallmark of democracy and in many jurisdictions jurors are chosen by such means and asked to discharge their civic duty. Voting, as it’s the only voice we have politically at the moment (I am glad that the protester above failed to blow himself up to call attention to this alternative but I am also pained to think about his bleak prospects in an American gulag), is of course vital and important and not voting counts twice for the opposite party, but I am not seeing the ballot presently as the consent of the governed—a popular mandate to justify the perpetuation of polarising pander and empty promise.

Friday, 12 October 2018


Colossal shares a select gallery of some of the over twenty-five hundred miniature dioramas and landscapes that artist Tatsuya Tanaka has been furnishing on a daily basis for the past seven years.
His cast of tiny figurines and a keen eye for texture, decontext-ualized from everyday objects and office supplies has attracted millions of followers and fans and periodically compiles his best work into books and calendars, which we take a leaf from here. The title refers to the vending machine capsule toys (ガチャポン) where the little model people might have come from—the term being an onomatopoeic one for the cranking sound of turning the wheel and the sound of the capsule landing in the collection tray.


Thanks to Maps Mania we learn that there is range of services covering different but all jurisdictions that can help businesses and home owners to decide whether or not to install solar panels on their roof-tops by illustrating the electricity and heat production potential at any given address. Customisable criteria are feed into the various programmes and return an estimate of how many kilowatt hours could be unlocked and the value of the energy produced at the going rate.


val-eri, val-dera: a fantasy map that put the world’s tallest peaks side by side

downside up: excerpts from a 1984 film that shifts perspectives

still life: a podcast from NPR producer Ian Chillag whose guests are all inanimate objects, via Waxy 

postdictive processing: an audio-visual illusion from Caltech researchers

theatrical properties: stories behind an assortment of iconic film props, via Miss Cellania

feet dragging: a look at America’s despicable inaction on climate change

petunias: a range of cocktails inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings 

Thursday, 11 October 2018


Messy Nessy Chic lures us down a strange rabbit hole with a topic of discussion that I can vaguely recall regarding the perception of plant life with a documentary adaption (six years hence) of the 1973 The Secret Life of Plants by authors Christopher Bird—whose previous works include the authoritative tome on the art of dowsing—and former war-time intelligence officer, journalist Peter Tompkins.
Profiling the careers of nineteenth and twentieth century botanists in a sympathetic manner, the book presented a battery of experiments based on pioneering polygraph tests developed by a Central Intelligence Agency interrogation specialist. Those results which have thus far resisted replication is generally discounted by the fact that plants do not have brains or nervous systems and instead invoke supramaterial, supernatural accounts of plant telepathy and calls to condemn the ideas presented as pseudo-science. What do you think? The notional sense, communication, symbiosis and memory are however found to pan out in the biochemistry and signalling of plants amongst themselves as well as the support network communities establish, so while attributing or recognising sentience might be problematic plants are surely not worth our disdain and abuse and ought to be appreciated for what they provide. Just as appreciation for thought and feelings in animals faced set-backs over hyperbolic claims, we are probably underestimating the complex lives of our vegetative friends in ways we cannot begin to imagine—especially considering the soundtrack by Stevie Wonder.


Though the final arbiter of such things will be left in the capable hands if the International Astronomical Union, researchers have already hit upon a perfectly acceptable and sensible term for a natural satellite with its own sub-satellite: a moonmoon.
Despite the lack of such an arrangement present in our solar system, scientists have recently confirmed the existence of exomoons and believe that arrangements where smaller moons orbit larger one could indeed occur. The proposed term is also reviving a very silly meme in circulation last year about how the combination of one’s initials yielded an unfortunately derpy spirit animal name.


Having encountered the idea of chindōgu (珍道具) previously, we appreciated coming across this deeper dive into the design conventions of the inventions, interventions and other “curious tools” that are categorized as unusually useless. These obsessive, eccentric and otherwise over-engineered gadgets adhere to a set of principles including:

  • There must be the Spirit of Anarchy in Every Chindōgu
  • Chindōgu are not Propaganda
  • Chindōgu cannot be Patented

Discover a whole gallery of inventions created in this spirit at Open Culture and at the links above. The Selfie Stick was probably created according to these design commandments but broke through like so many backscratchers, shoehorns and other as seen on TV items to more mainstream retail.

i want the world to know—got to let it show

Observed on this day to commemorate the March on Washington of the previous year, the second one rallying for lesbian and gay rights and greater activism for the AIDS crisis in the US capital, National Coming Out Day was first held in 1988 and the annual awareness day—under the principle that close-mindedness and homophobia thrive in silence and prejudice and ignorance are quickly disarmed once people know that a loved one, friend or acquaintance have a gender identity that’s other than heteronormative—prompting a world where all individuals can live openly and truthfully. In the past three decades, it has expanded internationally with events held also in Ireland, Switzerland and the UK.


Though perhaps not as wholesomely shareable as the Danish concept of hygge and perhaps not as resonant as another word in the language jingfin that has prompted millions of Chinese to declare themselves spiritually Finnish, we appreciate that the Finns also celebrate the concept called kalsarikännit—roughly translated as the state of pants-drunkenness, extolled in a book by journalist Miska Rantanen subtitled the path to relaxation.
The government of Finland (which back in 2015 also created a pair of emojis to convey the concept) offers the definition of “the feeling when you are going to get drunk home alone in your underwear—with no intention of going out.” Anecdotal evidence plus the country’s consistently high global rankings for happiness, openness, equality and egalitarianism suggests that there’s something to the practise and the balance it brings. Read more at Kottke at the link above.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

galvanic response

Not to be outdone by one traditional retailer’s patent of a shopping cart that registers biometric feedback of customers via sensors embedded in the handle to gauge and assess one’s response to various stimuli and better tailor advertisements and enticements according to one’s mood, a virtual re-seller whom consumers voluntarily erect a shrine to in their homes will use aggregate data to determine and detect if suppliants might not be feeling a bit under the weather or nursing a cold and peddle an appropriate prescription to them.
The proprietary personal assistant foregoes the need of a consultation since it could detect an encroaching hoarseness in one’s voice or signals that betray a cognitive delay from a bad night’s sleep that could portent something serious. What do you think? While gimmicky, phoney artificial intelligence might be an easy and attractive thing for businesses to foist on people, this tawdry and manipulative deportment engenders distrust and justified creepiness for actual smartness.

ōsaka banpaku

Via Dark Roasted Blend, we discover a virtual menagerie of cybernetic beings and early robots through an appreciation of the demonstration models created by famed architect and engineer Arata Isozaki.
The duo Deme and Deku were created for Expo’70 Osaka pavilion (previously) had heads with separate control rooms mounted in eye stalks—one which perceives the environment and relays telemetry to the other which instructs the robot how to perform its repertoire of movements and expressions and standing, tower above seven meters in height. Additionally, the world’s fair featured the first spherical concert hall, designed by Karlheinz Stockhausen (previously), debuted the first IMAX film and had exhibits of early mobile phones, local networking and Maglev trains. Learn more at the link above and find a whole gallery of images including video footage of the robots in action, plus maybe find other robot pals we might have forgotten.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018


Last week after decades of operation, the largest fish and seafood exchange in the world, the historic Tsukiji Market (築地市場) of Tokyo held its final tuna auctions but there was little time for nostalgia for the workers of the market with the whole mammoth administration and daily inventory displaced and set up in Toyosu, a subdivision created out of reclaimed land on the waterfront of Kōtō and freeing up the valuable mid-town real estate that the sprawling marketplace and underlying infrastructure occupied.
The great migration, quite the undertaking, was documented by photographer Mizuho Miyazaki, as featured on Spoon & Tamago at the link up top. The title refers to the giant knives skilfully wielded by merchants, fish-mongers to cut and prepare flanks of fish for sale and distribution that captures the eye and admiration of buyers and tourists, but we were happy to see an appreciation of forklift drivers whose unglamorous jobs are too often overlooked but who really run the pre-dawn logistics that makes the whole enterprise possible

der once-ler

Recognising that (beyond the intrinsic value of trees and woodlands in themselves) afforestation and reforestation efforts are as important as reducing emissions and that every little bit helps, Berlin-based search engine Ecosia (previously) the Guardian reports has offered the energy company that owns the land that the remnant of Hambacher Forest a million euros to purchase the parcel and preserve it in perpetuity.  Ecosia’s search machine is in an browser overlay that is non-intrusive and generates revenue through advertisements which are used to support tree-planting and other conservation campaigns and one can learn more at the links above and get updates at the organisation’s own blog here.

flintheart glomgold

Though we should not expect much in the way of business acumen from an individual who managed to lose money running a casino and has filed for bankruptcy multiple times but I was surprised to hear, despite stating his every intention to personally capitalise on high-office, that Donald Trump has actually lost (to his consternation and envy for the success of more legitimate businessmen) over a billion dollars in wealth since the 2016 election.
His strategically located Washington, DC hotel is doing a brisk business by visiting dignitaries those who wish to curry favour with the US despot as are his tacky resorts and the plenipotentiary powers that come with members’ dues, but those ventures combined with aggressive tax-avoidance and outright evasion are not able to rehabilitate the family brand, sullied with a bothersome reputation of sexual predation, bigotry, wilful ignorance and imprisoning young children.

Monday, 8 October 2018

the kessler syndrome

The night skies of the Dutch town of Almere, as Dezeen reports, are host to a project from designer Daan Roosegaarde, known for his massive installations that combine technology and art in urban environments, that track and visualise in real time the nearly thirty-thousand registered pieces of orbiting space debris that envelops the Earth with neon green laser lights, evoking the juxtaposing nostalgia for monochrome monitors and radar traces with the other-worldly and alien.
Perhaps it strikes some that fretting over space junk is an indulgent luxury but as the artist reflects, these sizable objects are a threat to keeping the channels of communication open as well as advances in exploration itself—the title referring to the nightmare situation of collisional cascading where the low Earth orbit becomes so over-crowded with waste that safe space travel becomes untenable for generations and we lose our motivation to explore. The abstract threat, a feeling shared among stargazers surely, becomes immediate and encourages the audience to think about solutions and ways to upcycle the detritus of past missions. Learn more at the links up top.


Via Messy Nessy Chic’s peripatetic exploration, we are treated to a fascinating tour of the physical campus—a former Christian Science church—of the Internet Archive, a project which has curated what’s approaching four hundred billion websites in the past twenty-two years.
With bots scouring the web at all times and collecting presently a half a billion new pages weekly, this operation as well as choosing what to conserve for future generations given limited space and resources is not for the meek and is a good reminder to appreciate your local librarians, especially given that much like in real life, those for profit industries flush with cash and influence lean too heavily on foundations like the Internet Archive and Wikipedia who count on the work of countless volunteers and the donations of those who believe that their pursuits are worthwhile and worth preserving. PfRC apparently made the grade the first time back in 2015. See where your contribution to the on-line world resides on the shelves and stacks and consider making a financial contribution. For all the justified angst over the panopticon of the internet committing everything to one’s permanent record, the fact is that websites and connections wither away and require a substantial amount of upkeep and intervention to conserve the past, particularly when the present acquires a selective memory.

Sunday, 7 October 2018


Like with mansplaining there are academic and abstract scenarios where the term can become a lazy refutation and a force equally as vexing to stop discussion rather than forward it (although most guilty of it are not interested in entertaining a discussion in the first place), being introduced to the concept of himpathy when its being squeezed for every drop via Oxford Weekly Word Watch did seem a bit empowering—at least being able to name a malady that society is woefully unwilling to overcome or seemingly sometimes even to recognise. It’s nothing new to heap undeserved credit on the heteronormative man who can summon crocodile tears at command, should said tears grant him the accustomed accommodation of congeniality. Who should spare a though for the anguish of those who might truly have something to cry about? Since when did sad, rabid and doughy lives become the epitome of democracy?  Or remained consummate and accomplished through adversity for that matter? Coddling exoneration and milking it for all it’s worth to rally loyalty and affiliation over merit and outside thought ultimately is a disservice for all, for even to be accused of something that one did not do or to be held in contempt of one’s past indiscretions, one can at least learn empathy for others who might be victims of mistrial and miscarriage instead of just inclined to perpetuate the status quo.


Previously H and I had enjoyed touring the sister campus in Speyer where a 747 and the Buran, the Soviet version of the Space Shuttle, are on display and recently redeeming one of H’s birthday gifts, we got to take a look at the sprawling museum, amusement park and cinema das Auto- und Technikmuseum Sinsheim, the largest private exhibit in Europe that curates some three hundred classic automobiles (Oldtimers auf Deutsch), forty racing cars, thirty locomotives, one hundred and fifty tractors, dozens of player pianos and calliopes plus over sixty aircraft, including the two supersonic commercial planes built the Anglo-French Concorde and the Russian Tupolev Tu-144, visible when passing by on the Autobahn.

The vast halls contained a really impressive amount of Mercedes (including some infamous ones custom-made for Benito Mussolini and Heinrich Himmler) and some extraordinary Maybachs produced for the anonymously, forgotten well-off, with a significant portion maintained in fully-function condition.

Also on display for inspection were an original model DeLorean and a motorised unicycle from 1894, whose time has come around again. Of course the exhibits are worth marvelling at and pretending to sit in the driver’s seat and quite a few are up for demonstration, but moreover it’s something inspired to think about the level and depth of engineering that went into each of these machines, some three thousand all told.

der tag der republik

Celebrated from 1950 to 1989 on the anniversary of the founding of the Deutsches Demokratische Republik on this day in 1949 from the Zone of Soviet Occupation, five months after the Bundesrepublik Deutschland (West Germany) constituted itself by the adoption of its codex of Basic Laws (Grundgesetz) on 23 May, der Tag der Republik was initially observed with military parades and the issuing of honours to individuals who had made significant achievements in the arts and sciences in the last year.
In the 1970s, the holiday was cast more in the light of a people’s celebration without the pomp of a demonstration of force but also invited protests and dissent. Presided over by Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev, he warned the government that dangers awaited those unwilling to reform and adapt to emerging realities while authorities were dispatched to arrest and detain arbitrarily over a thousand individuals on suspicion of subversion. This mass arrest prompted the calls for an official inquiry that began its investigations on 3 November, with the Berlin Wall coming down six days later. Der Tag der Deutschen Einheit is not observed on that day in November for reasons previously covered but was also championed at one point to always fall—for economic reasons—on the first Sunday in October instead of a fixed day. This was ultimately rejected because, like today this year, the celebration of German unity would sometimes take place on the birthday of East Germany.


table scraps: Dutch designer upcycles food waste as a printable, universal paste

the traveling wilburys: on tour with the hologram of Roy Orbison

going, going, gone: a record-fetching Banksy piece of art (previously) self-destructs after the auction, via Nag on the Lake 

that’s my name, don’t wear it out: a tribe of unfortunately named gentlemen

on the docket: the US supreme court’s first order of business is to re-examine Gamble vs America, an exception to the Double Jeopardy clause that could allow Trump to extend his pardon-powers in state jurisdiction

albergo diffuso: a unique but nearly depopulated Swiss village is transforming some of the remaining cottages to a “scattered hotel” model to save the entire settlement

impossi-bagel: our palates and our texts deserve better than the refined, blandness behind the new class of emojis 

Saturday, 6 October 2018


Sponsored by the League of Women Voters, the 1976 US presidential campaign for the first time saw more than one televised debate among the contenders and challenger Georgia governor Jimmy Carter and incumbent Gerald Ford (the first president not having been elected to office, having replaced Richard Nixon’s vice-president Spiro Agnew when he resigned and then Nixon himself as president when Nixon resigned in lieu of impeachment, pardoning his old boss afterwards) agreed to a series of three debates: one on domestic policy, one on foreign policy and one on the audience’s choice of topics.
After a fairly good showing when speaking on home issues, Ford stumbled and never recovered on geopolitics during the second debate, held on this day, 6 October 1976, announcing that “There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe,” adding that there never will be under a Ford administration. The vacillating pander of Trump’s relentless stumping and preening with the refrain “there was no Russian collusion” and “collusion is not a crime” has a strange echo of Ford’s words—perhaps too not so innocently offered.

i don’t care—do you?

As a gesture of goodwill after her husband vulgarly disparaged the continent as an undesirable source for immigration, former fashion model Melania Trump seemed to once again forget about the power of optics, donning jodhpurs and a pith helmet for her (thankfully) photographic safari at a nature reserve in Kenya.
Who has such things in their wardrobe? The nineteenth century headgear has been all but abandoned for more sensible cover, owning to the fact that most visitors do not want to project antiquated colonial attitudes and willingness to bear the burden of leading the world toward civilisation.

Friday, 5 October 2018

sans forgetica

Via Slashdot, we are introduced to a typeface developed and distributed at no cost (also compatible as a web font for some browsers) by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology Behavioural Business Laboratory to help boost retention by presenting text in a finely-tuned balance between legibility and obstruction—capitalising on a principle called “desirable difficulty”—in order to make passages more memorable.
Designed in consultation with a team psychologists and typographers, the founders hope it is precisely disruptive enough to make readers pause and take note but not so irascible as to repair to easier viewing, something especially useful for students cramming for exams or representatives saddled with tomes of last minute legislation to review before voting on it essentially sight unseen. The sans of course like Sas Serif signifies “without” like those flared ending and corners on letter strokes. See a font sampler and download Sans Forgetica at the links above.

john o’groats

Via the always interesting Things Magazine, we learn that the Islands Bill, passed by the Scottish Parliament back in May of this year, has recently come into force and includes a provision championed by Member Tavis Scott that prohibits the Shetlands to be depicted alongside the mainland’s coast in inset boxes, a geographical fiction quite irksome to the widely scattered archipelago’s residents, and demand that cartographers portray the islands accurately, empty space and all. The Ordinance Survey agreed with opponents who called the change impractical and warned it would reduce the level of detail that could be attained in all maps by changing the scale.

great railway journeys

Via Dark Roasted Blend’s weekly Link Latte, we find ourselves directed to the beautifully curated collection of vintage and antique European rail travel posters from Armand Massonet. Categorised and with a bit of provenance that allows one to date the ephemera and learn more, there’s a wealth of resources to discover. We especially liked the section dedicated to overnight expresses and sleeper cars (a less common luxury nowadays)—including automobile hauling service. The pictorial train map section, like this Bildkarte of Austria, is also definitely worth browsing through.