Wednesday, 16 January 2019

good fences make good neighbours

Though unclear if it will get the building permits, Chicago-based architecture studio New World Design wants to cordon off Mar-a-Lago with a gilded picket fence in order to isolate and contain some of the Trump syndicate’s most nefarious forces and minimise their ability to dismantle and do further damage.
The satirical statement is in response to the perilous shutdown showdown over funding for Trump’s border wall—now steel slats—which has precipitated a four week partial closure of the federal government with little signs of resolution forthcoming. Irrespective of the fact that the project would be ineffectual and a tremendous waste of time and resources, it does not represent most of the American people and most don’t want to erect a symbol of xenophobia and hostility for all the world to see.

extravehicular activity

On this day in 1969, the Soviet space programme accomplished the first docking of two vessels in orbit.
The three cosmonauts of the Soyuz 5 joined the crew of two in Soyuz 4 and transferred two members between the capsules through an airlock. The objective of the previous three Soyuz missions had been to demonstrate the technical feasibility of linking two modules but had been aborted for various reasons. This achievement paved the way for later cooperative and international missions. During a celebratory parade in Moscow a week later, the cosmonauts sustained light injuries during an assassination attempt whose target was Secretary Brezhnev who was riding in their motorcade. The failed attempt was subject to a Soviet media blackout for years afterwards.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019


For those of you living in jurisdictions that have not legalised the production and use of marijuana, Modern Farmer (really a publication that we ought to learn to check with more regularity) comes to the rescue with seven suggested smokable, easy to cultivate plants that you can grow that are perfectly legal, perfectly safe and perfectly boring.  Though plants like mullein (verbascum, Königskerzen, found both in Eurasia and North America) or sage (salvia, Salbei) might not sound appealing they are not without their pharmacological merits (see also) and uses in traditional medicines and many comprise the base and thus the bulk of other herbal mixes, so there is a demand for coltsfoot (Blandlattich) and mugwort (Beifuß). Check out the article at the link up top for further properties of the plants, tips on how to grow them in your own garden and how to harvest, dry and make your own special blend.


Our appreciation to Miss Cellania for directing us to the litany of horrors—the top fifty to date—that the Trump administration has perpetrated against his own people and the rest of us, since after it’s long over and the syndicate is behind bars we’ll still be dealing with the regressive environmental policies he’s promoted and the squandered opportunities to improve an increasing fraught and dire situation.
Though American is demystified and disenchanted with largess and respect having been much reduced its footprint for destruction has only increased and gone into overdrive. The list consists of headlines as bullet points to the full stories as reported by The Atlantic’s correspondents but the headings alone are more than enough to make one shudder and remember the sheer incredulity.

extra-terrarium or the effect of gamma rays on man-in-the-moon marigolds

Within a tiny biosphere transported to the far side of the lunar surface by the Chang’e-4 probe (previously) containing various plants, yeast and fruit-fly eggs, so far only the cotton seed has germinated and is sprouting. Researchers are closely monitoring the sealed environment to see what happens next. There have been many experiments with plants in microgravity beforehand but this represents the first time to attempt to cultivate something on the Moon.

spoiler alert

The confluence of existential angst of y2k, this generation’s coming of age and the resonance of nostalgia plus the profusion of DVDs and the reinvention of home cinema and continued sales opportunities after the box office run made 1999 a particular banner year for film, with titles including Magnolia from Paul Thomas Anderson, M Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense, the Spike Jonze and Charley Kaufman collaboration Being John Malkovich, The Matrix, American Beauty, Fight Club, Notting Hill and Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace. We’ve left out a lot of the great and good that might be visited individually over the course of the year. What do you think? The releases of twenty years ago are certainly luminaries and inform and to a large extent populate our present cinematic universe but we are not certain whether the collection of anti-heroes, indulgences and failed heroes are exactly pivotal and have outsized cultural influence.

wiki wiki wiki wiki wiki room

On this day in 2001, internet projects developer Lawrence Mark Sanger and entrepreneur and philanthropist Jimmy Wales first launched the Wikipedia website, a universal encyclopaedia that aimed for authoritativeness through collaboration and peer-review, living and dying both by the procrastination principle. The foundation shares its anniversary with Coca-Cola, first incorporated in 1889 as the Pemberton Medicine Company (not to be confused with Dr Pepper) and the grand opening of the British Museum in 1759, seeded with the collection and curios of Sir Hans Sloane.

Monday, 14 January 2019


The ever peripatetic Messy Nessy Chic makes us a touch nostalgic with the reminder of the character Cheburashka (Чебура́шка)—who was originally featured in a children’s book by Eduard Uspensky (*1937 – †2018) in 1966 and popularised by a stop-motion animated film series by Roman Abelevich Kachanov.
Unknown to science—a sort of hybrid between a monkey and a bear cub (three-toed, tailless Monchhichi, I’d classify him but he was also known under the export market name of Topple), Cheburashka was a stow-away on a crate of oranges that ended up in Moscow, where he befriends Gena Crocodile and has adventures. Below is the opening and some of the incidental music from the scores by composer Vladimir Yakovelvich Shainsky (*1925 – †2017).

it looks like you could use a poem

Being a long time fan of Maria Popova’s engaging literary digest, Brain Pickings, I was pleasantly surprised when recently, instead of the usually lures to subscribe to the newsletter or otherwise to disrupt one’s taking leave of the place once it seemed like one’s attention was starting to slake, rather than being badgered (desperate though understandably so) into remaining, the gentle reader is offered an excerpt of poetry to consider and keep as a souvenir.

Sunday, 13 January 2019


mixed media: Basa Funahara’s beautiful masking tape paintings

travelling matte: beautiful vintage postcards displayed on antique luggage

brightest london is best reached by underground: a look at some of the women artists who designed vintage Tube advertisements

a wave of whales: a campaign to inundate Japanese embassies worldwide with art and essays in opposition to their resumption of whaling

the rotten eggs: punk nursey rhymes that are your usual children’s musical fare

chime-in any time: Canadian radio observatory detects more mysterious repeating bursts 

it’s a gif to be simple, it’s a gif to be kind

Twisted Sifter treats to a small gallery of animations that elegantly and immediately illustrate how others might connect the same constellations of dots or interpret their relative motions in completely different and idiosyncratic ways. Though the specimen speaks for itself, there is also a couple nice articles linked at the source explaining what’s going on in terms bias and what’s called statistical underdetermination. Same otherwise.

showboat diplomacy

Keen to prop up and perpetuate its own fracking industry, the US ambassador to Germany (previously) issued threat of sanctions for domestic companies involved in and supporting the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project.
It is feared that Germany would become too dependent on Moscow and the importance of energy-transit countries, like Ukraine, would have less influence in the region. Existing infrastructure with cosmetic modifications to the pilot-lights can be made to heat homes with hydrogen, rather than drilled natural gas, so I suspect it’s all a last, desperate ploy to hold on to a baronet in the end, sort of like fracking above. The warning of the ambassador, whose been quoted in the media as supportive of “empowering” the ascendancy of right wing governments in Europe and of academies that are “safe-spaces” for fostering hateful, small-mindedness are regarded as rather toothless and the German business sector thanks the ambassador for the public interruption of reading his tweets out loud—delivered in his own voice, like the man who appointed him who happens to be currently under investigation for being a Russian asset.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

daytrip: ohrdruf

H and I took a drive over the snowy Rennsteig (previously here and here) to visit Oberhof, the winter sports resort village but due to a ski biathlon happening this weekend, most the facilities weren’t accessible to the public and it was pretty crowded so we went on to explore the nearby small town of Ohrdruf—which turned out to be an astoundingly busy place. As an adolescent Johann Sebastian Bach resided there with his older brother Joh- Christoph who exposed him to organ music. From 1913 until 1916, bisque Kewpie dolls were made there and one can find moulds embedded in older façades—apparently but I failed to locate any—we’ll be back I’m sure.
Things get a bit bleak with the wars—a POW encampment on the edge of the city during World War I is converted into a concentration camp for World War II, though significantly, it was the first to be liberated by Allied forces and helped inform the wider world about the horrors carried out.
Shortly before that take-over, the original Wagon of Compiègne—the train carriage where the first and second Armistices were signed—was transported there from Berlin for safekeeping but was destroyed in an air raid. After the war, the site of the military training area was razed and command and control was assumed by the Soviet army until 1991, with their headquarters in the pictured baroque Schloß Ehrenstein. Afterwards, we went on to take a look at the nearby ruined Cistercian cloister complex Georgenthal. This structure with the impressive rosette window is from the twelfth century and originally was used as an infirmary before being transformed into a granary—presently used as a lapidarium, a place to exhibit monuments and architectural artefacts from the former abbey.

ohrwurm oder kleiner hai

Though there is not a definitive pedigree for the children’s tune that has gone viral and memetic for all its various tributes and celebrity renditions and it is believed to have been a traditional campfire song, but it’s strange that we’ve been here before—a decade ago—and have conveniently put the experience out of our heads, and was first popularised in 2007 as Little Shark by German artist alemuel. The beat in this slightly darker version (see bottom video, try playing both at the same time) of the earworm of a song is closer to the theme from Jaws and involves a baby shark devouring a swimmer but it’s essentially the same piece (although the reinforcement of gender stereotypes within the pleurotrematic extended family are also kind of disturbing) that reached a critical mass just within the past few months.

field notes

Though the verdict is still out on whether plants can vocalise, it seems that a research team has demonstrated that flowers act as ears and can distinguish the buzz of an approaching pollinator over the general din and sweeten its nectar. The less conclusive part of the study looked into whether plants communicated distress or well-being at ranges above what humans can hear and how this might be interpreted by arboreal creatures and insects.
Humans are being humbled all the time and we have far more empathy for the natural world and our place in than we did in the past—even a decade ago, most regarded animals as having no interior lives or feelings, but as the latter smacks a bit of the pseudoscientific methods that probably set back our collective willingness to examine and consider plant communications, it’s probably a bit of a treacherous claim that we are not quite ready for. For better or worse, regardless of the veracity and rigour, sometimes we are just not receptive to ideas that can change our world view, like the parable of Clever Hans, a stunt that set back the cause of animal rights significantly but no we not only know that bees can do simple arithmetic but that plants do communicate to and socialise with their neighbours through chemical signals and via a complex and poorly understood network that connects whole forests through their roots.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Grifter-in-Chief and accomplished beneficiary of the rentier economic model is poised to reform regulation at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO, which accrues more funding the more patents it grants) to be more favourable for fellow parasitic copyright trolls.
Article One, Section Eight of the US constition vests in congress the power “to promote the progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” Reanimating the sort of legal framework that allowed such ransoming and trouncing on creativity, playing very loose with the concepts of invention and originality—which obviously hurts all of us—is a disturbing change of course and bears more public scrutiny and intervention.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

404: page not found

The always engrossing Things Magazine refers us to a quite excellent essay composed by the consummate Kate Wagner (previously) on the manner in which the old grifter nostalgia is cannibalising and repackaging the old, aspirational internet and selling it back to us at a premium.
For the sake of sleekness and convenience, we’ve relinquished a lot of our agency for something that was not inevitable yet a natural consequence of the capitalist model made virtual perfect and instantaneous by ghettoization and other forms of corralling. The interregnal period between the transition from the scientific, professional internet to the interwebs of throttling and objectification is characterised as the age of Vaporware, Vaporwave—referring to items that are prototyped and test-marketed but never released—references Karl Marx’ (the thinker being the original arbiter of the free exchange of ideas—advocating that when “society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic”) other pronouncement “All that is solid melts into air.”

global hawk

Via Slashdot, we learn that a company specialising in wireless power transmission has announced it has developed an electromagnetic field generator that could permit drones to remain aloft indefinitely—never needing to idle for a recharge. Our cargo cult-like obsession with automation and seamless delivery makes me think of how the pre-Enlightenment natural scientists supposed birds of paradise had no feet and lived their entire lives in the skies.    

boy, those germans have a word for everything

Today we were introduced to the concept of Sollbruchstellen—constructive or mechanical elements—where a consumer item is predetermined to break after a period of time. While it also describes the sectionality of a bar of chocolate made easy to break into pieces, Sollenbruchstelle has come to be associated with planned obsolescence—geplanter Obsoleszenz, which the EU has sought to curtail. Incidentally, the English equivalent for Schadenfreude—taking pleasure in the misfortune of others—is epicaricacy (from the Greek ἐπιχαιρεκακία, joy upon evil) but has fallen out of common-parlance in favour of the former.

earth below us

Colossal directs our attention to the work of videographer Bruce W Berry, Jr. whose meditative montage compiles time-lapse footage of vistas taken from the International Space Station. There are extensive details on telemetry to be found at the source link above but it’s surely an intuitive and immediate experience to be in awe of the passing terrain and the impact that human habitation has had. Making nearly fifteen orbits daily, there’s no end to the views from the ISS for its crew to document and share.


In order to decontextualize and decolonise the aesthetic for the movement’s centenary year (previously), a miniature clone of the Bauhaus building in Dessau is going on a world tour. Acknowledging the often overlooked power of design to influence environments and outlooks, this outreach project aims to educate and enlighten as it makes the school mobile.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019


barra de atención: documenting the endangered and disappearing no-frills bars of Madrid

vetrai veneziana: exploring the storied village of Murano that once held the European monopoly on glass

treasured gaze: a look at the eighteenth century obsession with eye-portraiture—via Everlasting Blört

brannock device: a deep dive into the measuring instrument found in finer shoe stores—based on the barleycorn

futurelight: a collaboration between an automotive company and an outdoor apparel manufacture produce a featherweight camper

it-tieqa żerqa

We had seen this mock-up of a steel architectural truss abutting a Maltese cliff face circulating around the internet for a week but failed to realise that the idea was proffered to repair a famous natural landmark and tourist attraction along the coast outside of Gozo.
The Azure Window (also known as the Dwerjra Window) was a limestone pillar with a stone archway over the sea that collapsed in March 2017 following a violent storm but had been under threat for some time over erosion and increased visitor traffic. In addition to its appearance in Game of Thrones, the window was also featured in the original Clash of the Titans and the Kevin Reynold version of The Count of Monte Cristo, with its last cameo in the cliff-diving Hugo Boss apparel advertising campaign.


At the recommendation of Miss Cellania, we learn that there is much more to Hampsterdance than we had otherwise appreciated. With memes and virality, we’re all audience and authors both but the quirky little website that seeded internet culture and its norms of communication has a specific attribution. CBC Arts correspondent Leah Collins plums the midst of time and takes us back to 1998, to a world before social media when GeoCities and personal and prestige websites dominated and gives us an anecdotal and oral history of the project and its unexpected legacy.


Without much notice but definitely a slight, the Trump administration downgraded the diplomatic status of the European Union from member state to international organisation. The US State Department having failed to notify the EU of this change, the official reaction is still pending and only came to light inadvertently when the ambassador of the Washington mission did not make the cut for invited guests for the state funeral of George H W Bush. The supranational bloc was elevated back in September of 2016 after lengthy negotiations with the Obama administration.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

acrostic or minibus appropriations

As the partial shutdown of the US government creeps into its third week, furloughed and exempted (working for delayed pay) staff at the National Weather Service’s Anchorage, Alaska bureau managed to embed a desperate plea in the forecast discussion.
One cannot expect to essentially close one quarter of the federal government without some nasty consequences down-stream and knock-on effects for departments that are open. Aside from rubbishing national parks, the workers and their families held kept in suspense, the air traffic controllers and screeners working without compensation (whoever thought we would be sharing a cup of kindness for the Transportation Security Administration), the research not being conducted and the tax statements not being processed (plus a litany of other thing not being done), there’s real dangers to public safety just being barely kept at bay by the dedication of a few.

this is not america

Via Boing Boing, comedian and musician (and frequent contributor to Quite Interesting) Bill Bailey gave an entertaining and informative presentation on the differences between major and minor keys and how the tonic tensions and resolutions affect the character of the tune being played. His rendition of the Star Spangled Banner (beginning at 2:02, previously) takes on a wholly different dynamic and indeed comes across a bit Russian.

waxing and waning

The design collective Whyixd has installed an ensemble of whirling LEDs to form a kinetic sculpture on the campus of National Chiao Tung University that illuminates the sky and delivers passers-by with a subjective experience of the lunar phases. Named like a bit of open-ended code, the project, “#define Moon_,” acknowledges that the perspective is unique for each viewer and something to take umbrage with, especially in light of the revival of the Space Race.

à la carte

Via Super Punch, we’ve found ourselves obsessing and delighting over this menu from an Italian restaurant whose selection of pizzas are named after the dates of significant events in the lives of the proprietor’s family. It’s a pretty endearing and make us wish we had a restaurant to commemorate special occasions. More to explore at Super Punch at the link above—a consummate connoisseur of premium tweets and other fine hypertext products.

atchison, topeka and santa fe

These portrayals of urban rail routes that are a distant memory as Underground strip maps (see also here and here) are a really striking aesthetic choice on the part of draughtsman Jake Berman that makes us at the same time pine for the amenities of the past and appreciate what we still have in Germany and the robust public transportation network that we have here. Do you have memories of a similar service in your town that is no longer there?  Check out more superannuated streetcar and train lines showcased on Atlas Obscura at the link up top.

Monday, 7 January 2019


Via Digg, the United Nations has declared 2019 to be the Year of the Periodic Table in recognition of the moment of insight that Dmitri Mendeleev had one hundred-fifty years ago in 1869 when he committed each of the sixty-nine then known distinct chemical elements on note cards and arranged them by properties in such a fashion as to predict, forecast the existence of yet unknown substances that would later fall neatly in place.
Not to discount the genius of the moment, the development of the familiar design was a lengthy process with many alternate proposals, visual cul-de-sacs (see also here, here and here) and effort that draws off the research and inspiration of many that came before and tried to communicate some essential quality about the building blocks of Nature. In addition to the symbolic chemistry that John Dalton proffered in 1803 to help limn his modern Atomic Theory, the Conversation takes a look at the other stages and versions—with some more radical deviations—that culminate with the iconic and instantly recognisable classroom model.


We’ve been awaiting Spoon & Tamago’s annual posting (previously) of Japanese designer New Year’s greeting cards (nengajo, 年賀状) that honour both the civil, Gregorian calendar and the luni-solar year of the Boar.
There are many entries to check out as well as the archives from years past in addition to this charging beast from Benjo Graphics and an elegant miniature calendar page from artist Tatsuya Tanaka. The year of the Earth Pig begins 5 February and corresponds most closely with the Western sign Scorpio.

Sunday, 6 January 2019


personality, wessonality: spot the celebrities at the 1986 All Star Party for Clint Eastwood

spargelzeit: a little education can be empowering for keeping the resolution to eat healthier, fresher foods

urban density: exploring the crowded high-rises of Hong Kong

ikumen: the rise of the Japanese hot dads is changing the traditional roles of parenting for the better

rubisco: botanists tinker with photosynthesis to make the process more efficient

fishbit and half-wit: an assortment of the dumbest smart gadgets premiered at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) technology expo

minor arcana: the Tarot deck-like miniatures of Robert Coutelas 

Saturday, 5 January 2019

bork bork oder tierlautbezeichnungen

We realise it’s a beauty salon for the canine variety but that’s still not what a dog says auf Deutsch—der Hund bellt oder macht wau wau, onomatopoetically.
Incidentally, most German animals have different though outstanding accurate cries: the goat goes meck meck (like a cat lapping up something), the dove ruckediku-ruckeddiku, and the duck goes nag nag. The last call is apparently more prominent in former East Germany as opposed to ducks going quak in the West—maybe due to a television programme, but nothing on whether dogs (this shop being just over the border) spoke differently.

cliff’s notes

Via Shadow Manor’s Art of Darkness blog, we are referred to this interactive study guide on Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy (previously here, here and here) that allows one to explore the topology of the Underworld and understand characters and allusions throughout without reference to footnotes that tends to draw one out of the narrative, at times, instead of deeper into the poem, as Virgil does for our narrator.
While the endearingly cartoonish quality may not have the same visual seriousness with which past illustrators have treated the fourteenth century epic—every generation taking its turn—the platform more than makes up for this (if it is indeed a shortcoming at all) in scholarship and utility. Take a tour yourself at the link above.

Friday, 4 January 2019


doxxing: personal details of hundreds of German politicians published online

just dance: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes dances to all the songs

s.s. warrimoo: the ship voyage that bridged seasons and centuries

look at that snowman go: NASA releases first images of Ultima Thule—previously

best intentions: twenty years ago, oil companies proposed massive geo-engineering projects to combat climate change—that all had serious drawbacks, via Digg

anti-deficiency act: prolonged US government shutdown causes the Federal Communications Commission to run out of funds

sw10 0bh: a proposed database would match those facing homelessness with proxy mailing addresses from UK’s over half a million vacant properties to make applying for jobs and services easier

public access

The always engrossing Kottke directs our attention to the untold story of Philadelphia television producer, social justice activist, librarian and prolific hoarder Marion Stokes (*1929 - †2012) whose obsession for preserving the present as it happened for future generations was transmuted into a secret personal campaign to record live news broadcasts and archive them, netting some seventy thousand VHS tapes spanning the years from 1979 to 2012.
The Iranian hostage crisis (previously here and here) which spawned the 24/7 news coverage cycle was Stokes’ initial impetus and she planned her professional and family life around the recording time of a long-play cassette, around six hours so she would be present to exchange tapes and keep the archives—having expanded into CNN and others—going. It was not merely a hobby or a way of taking work home, however, as Stokes knew that television stations were losing their independence and doing a horrendous job at conservation, even given the tools available to them. Her thirty-three years of continuous footage ended with her death that coincided with the taping of the massacre at Sandy Hook. Learn more about the documentary in development at the links up top and peruse the video archives here as well.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

₿ i.c.o.

On this day in 2009, the first initial coin offering took place with commencement of the Bitcoin blockchain by the individual or group called Satoshi Nakamoto, creating fifty of the virtual units of account as fiat tender.
As far as sub-divisions go, one-thousandths of a Bitcoin is a millibitcoin and a hundred-millionth is a satoshi.  The peer-to-peer currency exchange (open for business ten days later) independent of central banks and intermediaries featured a public ledger that cryptographically records transactions, but its origins are somewhat murky with a good deal of speculation as to the identity of the inventor, which—antithetically—includes one Elon Musk.


Via Slashdot, we learn that the Chinese space agency has successfully landed a probe, Chang’e 4, on the dark side of the Moon. Because of the impossibility to communicate directly with the lander, a relay satellite called Queqiao (Magpie Bridge) is orbiting the Moon and can exchange readings and instructions with mission control on each pass.
The landing site, the Von Kármán lunar crater, was a practical location as well as one with an important symbolic message, as the Hungarian-American astrophysicist and polymath Theodore von Kármán, its namesake, was the academic advisor of Hsue-Shen Tsien (*1911 – †2009), the rocket scientist and cyberneticist who founded the Chinese space programme. Though previously studied and charted, this hemisphere of the Moon that is tidally-locked and always faces away from the Earth has never been the subject on direct exploration and this achievement is in follow-up to the Chang’e 3 mission and its Jade Rabbit Rover (read more about Chinese lunar mythology and its connection with the space missions here)—paving the wave for permanent human colonisation by 2030.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

thread and transistor

As a heuristic exhibition to explore the shifting definition and value of craft in modern society and commerce, Dezeen highlights some of the best instalations during the Istanbul Design Biennial that employed stitching and weaving recontextualised in electronics and as a store of value, as in an heirloom quilt to hand down from one generation to the next.
Looms themselves prefiguring mechanical computational relays, we really enjoyed discovering the functional universal computer whose circuitry was embroidered out of gold and the yarn spindle whose spooling action can actually save a spoken yarn as an audio recording. I wonder if future electronic devices will be decentralised and once again a cottage industry. Moreover, given the value assigned to block-chain cryptography—secure and sturdy though mathematically also relatively simple, it struck us as particularly delectable that there is one gaming circle that calls for players to produce their own knitcoin to advance. Check out the link above to learn more about the individual works from Ebru Kurbak and others.


On this day in 1959, the Soviet space programme launched the first interplanetary probe known as Luna 1—or with the alternate designation “Dream” above—and although due to a miscalculation on the burn-time of the last stage of the booster rocket, it over-shot its target, the Moon, but still in the process became the first spacecraft to escape Earth orbit.
The probe was able to take pioneering measurements of the Earth’s magnetic field (and the cosmic rays it protects the Earth from) and flying-by at a distance of some six-thousand kilometres was able to detect the absence of one on our satellite. In transit, the probe released a trail of sodium gas and scintillated like the tail of a comet and was to ultimately crash land on the lunar surface and release two metallic pennants and coat of arms of the Soviet Union on 4 January but veered off course (Luna 2 accomplished this mission of planting a flag in September of the same year) and remains in heliocentric orbit (along with some later cosmic interlopers) between Earth and Mars, designated according to the minor planet naming-convention, like Ultima Thule, as 1959 Mu 1.

we will control the horizontal. we will control the vertical.

Via Boing Boing, shake your head slightly—as if signalling no (or affirmation in some parts of Greece and the Balkans) to reveal a hidden image in the seemingly uniform bars plus a brilliant tutorial on how to make one’s own with any image. Perhaps a clever engineer could using this method—which is a variation on the Bezold effect in gradated contrast, slip in a secret subliminal message into one of the sections of picket fence steel slats of Trump’s Border Wall.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

i’m a shooting star, leaping through the sky—like a tiger defying the laws of gravity

Barring any unexpected interference, the space probe New Horizons—already having accomplished the incredible feat of beaming back imagery of distant Pluto—had completed an encore mission in the small hours of New Year’s Day by venturing to the outer reaches of the Solar System to explore a minor planet in the Kuiper Belt.
Incredibly (486958) 2014 MU₆₉ nicknamed Ultima Thule (something beyond the known world) was only discovered nine years after the mission was launched and after the encounter with Pluto and course was corrected afterwards to afford the chance for another fly-by as it prepares to leave the bounds of the Solar System and join the Voyager probes in interstellar space. No one is quite sure what to expect on this icy world, but after being approached by the chief scientist behind the mission, Queen guitarist and noted astrophysicist Brian May composed a single about the voyage and discover to help us while away the time, with the signals taking upwards of six hours to reach the Earth, even traveling at the speed of light.

uncanny cruiser

Via the always intriguing Things magazine, while we are still trying to adapt to and come to terms with the idea of wholly convincing composite people generated by a neural network enforced through machine-learning, we discover a slightly less menacing though disorientating all the same nuance with hypothetical motor vehicles (relatedly) that only exist virtually and are the product of robot day-dreams. At the same time this roadworthy experiment was being conducted, the neural network tried its hand at a dataset of images of hotel, bed-and-breakfast rooms to create the ideal, average guest accommodations—mostly bedspreads and mountains of pillows. The programme is still learning and we are not sure of the parameters but perhaps once this algorithm gets fantastic coaches right, it will be able to engineer concept vehicles that surpass passenger expectations. Much more to consider and to explore at the links above.

was this trip really necessary?

While piloting a programme for commercial flights without single-use plastics on board might seem gimmicky and greenwashing, it is nonetheless a step in the right direction and unless we want to face the ethical problems that travel and tourism present without some ammunition in our moral quiver—begging questions like the one above—we’ve got to demand better more sustainable options when it comes to holiday-making, otherwise decisions will be made for us. Every locale with a tour operations running, boating excursions, snorkelling, photographic safaris, etc. or even restaurants and hoteliers that cater to outside visitors, ought to be mandated to use the most energy-efficient, zero-polluting means of transportation and logistics available with help from local governments.
What do you think? Would you pay a bit extra to site-see knowing that your presence didn’t deprive another of the same quality experience later on? After all, every little bit helps and we got here due to laziness and cutting corners multiplied billions of times. While progress towards cleaner and more efficient modes of transportation and daily living should not fall further behind in the private sector, governments should first place a premium on tourists to subsidise adopting new technologies and cycling out old, dirty motors for less intrusive electric ones.