Friday, 31 May 2019

los tributos o el traje nuevo del emperador

Against the advice of his handlers who, despite how much that they might like focus to be deflected away from the Mueller press conference and Michael Flynn’s turning of states’ evidence, Trump announced a new raft of punitive tariffs against Mexico if it did not quell illegal immigration.
Already betraying his profound, stultifying ignorance of economic principles—tariffs are a kind of tax but a regressive one that US consumers pay, not the Chinese, Europeans or Mexicans—to pander to those who might vote for him a second time by appealing to the lowest common denominator of bigotry and insecurity—a sacrifice owed his base, there’s of course no indication how progress towards satisfying the requirement might be gauged nor who is to impose these sanctions on cross-border trade, nor whether this brash announcement is in violation of the trade deal Trump negotiated to replace the NAFTA accords he withdrew from.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

ain’t misbeheavin’

It’s with a heavy heart that we say good-bye to humourist and old-timey, Tin Pan Alley virtuoso Leon Redbone (RIP, *1949 – †2019).
Adopting the stage name for his first acts in Toronto in the 1970s, the Cyprian-born Dickran Gobalian cultivated his signature look of dark sunglasses, a Panama hat and a skinny black tie, Redbone gained mainstream commercial success, though a recipient of critical acclaim by those in the business for quite some time with a cover version of the now problematic Christmas ballad “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and performed the theme song for the 1980s television sitcom Mister Belvedere. Redbone announced his retirement from recording in May 2015, citing health concerns, his eclectic musical tastes and knowledge of past genres making him much older and wiser than his years attested to.

would you like freedom fries with that?

One underestimates the mushy-headedness of the Trump regime and their oil baron cronies at one’s own peril now with the US Department of Energy trying to foist “freedom gas” on world markets—as opposed to Russia (setting the stage for the next fight) or Middle Eastern sourced fuel—since their shipments of liquefied natural gas contain “molecules of US freedom” as a bonus.
No one liked the midichlorians.  Moreover, this push for more exports to Europe is equated with America’s liberation of the continent during World War II and the subsequent Marshall Plan. Secretary Rick Perry stuck with his slogan even after reporters pointed out to him how the name smacked of “freedom fries” and “freedom toast” hurled as dumb insults at NATO partners who were unwilling to commit to what turned out to be a very much trumped up and unjustified pretence to invade Iraq.

thread of discussion

The always captivating Present /&/ Correct direct us to a massive collection of antique Japanese darning thread cards—the pressboard remnant that the thread was spooled around.  We are invited not only to marvel at the abundance of brands and packaging designs but to also reflect on an industry focused on repair and mending (็น•ใ„, tsukuroi) whose existence necessarily owes to mass-production and the restorative, therapeutic value (see also) of fixing bashed and worn things. Much more to explore at the links above.

thrones and dominions

Located in the closed research town of Sarov (its original name restored in 1995 by President Boris Yeltsin at the residents’ request from its designation as Arzamas-16, affectionately referred to as Los Arzamas after its sister city, Los Alamos) the Russian Federal Nuclear Centre is receiving some gentle scrutiny and rebuke for the purchase of some icons and other religious material related to native saint Seraphim (*1754 - †1833).
Although the former presence of a monastery at this location does not exactly account for the connection with the popular figure or explain while his holy relics were taken on an October 2016 Soyuz mission to the International Space Station—Joseph of Cupertino (the Italian village in Apulia and not the Apple headquarters its named after) a reported dullard of a priest however with a penchant for levitation and in general the capacity for wonder and awe is the patron of astronauts and cosmonauts (Feast Day 18 October), having met his untimely demise during preparations for another celebration involving fireworks and an accident that launched Joseph into the sky, honouring a local seems like a wise thing to do in any case. Before travelling into space, Seraphim’s mortal remains were feared destroyed in the Bolshevik Revolution until later discovered as an exhibit in a museum of superstition, saved and subsequently repatriated to Sarov.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

emphasis added

Thank you for being here. Two years ago, the Acting Attorney General asked me to serve as Special Counsel, and he created the Special Counsel’s Office. The appointment order directed the office to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. This included investigating any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign. Now I have not spoken publicly during our investigation. I’m speaking out today because our investigation is complete. The Attorney General has made the report on our investigation largely public. We are formally closing the Special Counsel’s office, and as well I’m resigning from the Department of Justice to return to private life. I’ll make a few remarks about the results of our work. But beyond these few remarks it is important that the office’s written work speak for itself.

Let me begin where the appointment order begins: and that is interference with the 2016 presidential election. As alleged by the grand jury in an indictment, Russian intelligence officers who were part of the Russian military launched a concerted attack on our political system. The indictment alleges that they used sophisticated cyber techniques to hack into computers and networks used by the Clinton campaign. They stole private information and then released that information through fake online identities and through the organization Wikileaks. The releases were designed and times to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate.
And at the same time as the grand jury alleged in a separate indictment, a private Russian entity engaged in a social media operation where Russian citizens posed as Americans in order to influence an election. These indictments contain allegations, and we are not commenting on the guilt or innocence of any specific defendant. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The indictments allege, and the other activities in our report describe, efforts to interfere in our political system. They needed to be investigated and understand. And that is among the reasons why the Department of Justice established our office. That is also a reason we investigated efforts to obstruct the investigation. The matters we investigated were of paramount importance and it was critical for us to obtain full and accurate information from every person we questioned. When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of the government’s effort to find the truth and hold wrong-doers accountable.

Let me say a word about the report. The report has two parts, addressing the two main issues we were asked to investigate. The first volume details numerous efforts emanating from Russia to influence the election. This volume includes a discussion of the Trump campaign’s response to this activity, as well as our conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy.

And in a second volume, the report describes the results and analysis of our obstruction of justice investigation involving the president.

The order appointing the Special Counsel authorized us to investigate actions that could obstruct the investigation. And we conducted that investigation and we kept the Office of the Acting Attorney General apprised of the progress of our work.
And as set forth in the report after that investigation, if we had had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.

We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime. The introduction to the volume two of our report explains that decision. It explains that under long-standing Department policy, a President cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view, that too is prohibited. The special counsel’s office is part of the Department of Justice and by regulation it was bound by that Department policy. Charging the president with a crime was, therefore, not an option we could consider.

The Department’s written opinion explaining the policy makes several important points that further informed our handling of the obstruction investigation. Those points are summarized in our report, and I will describe two of them for you. First, the opinion explicitly permits the investigation of a sitting President because it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents available. Among other things, that evidence could be used if there were co-conspirators who could be charged now. And second, the opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting President of wrongdoing. And beyond Department policy we were guided by principles of fairness. It would be unfair to potentially—it would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge.

So that was Justice Department policy. Those were the principles under which we operated and from them we concluded that we would not reach a determination, one way or the other, about whether the President committed a crime. That is the office’s—that is the office’s final position, and we will not comment on any other conclusions or hypotheticals about the President.

We conducted an independent criminal investigation and reported the results to the Attorney General, as required by Department regulations. The attorney general then concluded that it was appropriate to provide our report to Congress and to the American people. At one point in time I requested that certain portions of the report be released. The Attorney General preferred to make that—preferred to make the entire report public all at once, and we appreciate that the Attorney General made the report largely public. And I certainly do not question the Attorney General’s good faith in that decision.

Now I hope and expect this to be the only time that I will speak to you in this manner. I am making that decision myself. No one has told me whether I can or should testify or speak further about this matter. There has been discussion about an appearance before Congress. Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report. It contains our findings and analysis and the reasons for the decisions we made. We chose those words carefully and the work speaks for itself. And the report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress.

In addition, access to our underlying work product is being decided in a process that does not involve our office. So beyond what I have said here today, and what is contained in our written work, I do not believe it is appropriate for me to speak further about the investigation or to comment on the actions of the Justice Department or Congress. And it’s for that reason I will not be taking questions today as well.

Now before I step away, I want to thank the attorneys, the FBI agents, and analysts, the professional staff who helped us conduct this investigation in a fair and independent manner. These individuals who spent nearly two years with the Special Counsel’s Office were of the highest integrity.

And I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments — that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interference in our election. That allegation deserves the attention of every American.

Thank you. Thank you for being here today.

Transcription services courtesy of TYWKIWDBI.

still life with portion control

A Valencia-based design studio and patron of the arts called Quarte Caps has commissioned the re-contextualising of iconic still life paintings, like this ostentatious cornucopia from Dutch Baroque artist Abraham Hendriksz van Beijeren (*1620 – †1690)—with the face of the artist in the original reflected in the silver decanter—in order like the first Delft school of painters executed pronkstillevens that highlighted the affectation and pretension of fine tableware to focus on the excessive and unnecessary packaging (see also) and shuttle diplomacy of convenience food, whose persistence changes the metaphor of the perishable. Can you see yourself in the plastic soda bottle? Learn more and peruse a larger gallery of “Not Longer Life” at the link above.


Debuting at the 1970 Geneva Motor Show (Genfer Autosalon), this transalpine-influenced concept vehicle, the 2200 TI Garmisch, designed by the legendary automotive free-lancer Marcello Gandini (the Lamborghini Miura, the Countach and the Lancia Stratos as well as the original 5-series) was seemingly shelved in favour of other projects by BMW—until, that is, its recent revival with a limited-production run at a car show in Villa d’Este, Tivoli.
The minimalistic dashboard and instrumentation panel belies the cutting edge of technology, sleek aluminium frame and namesake of town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, part of the Bavaria Motor Works home state but exotic and a part of that spirit of Alpine exchange evokes adventure. See more at Design Boom at the link above.


Via Shelton Wet/Dry, we learn that a 2008 laptop that has been intentionally infected with six of the world’s most pernicious, damaging computer viruses has recently been auctioned off by the artist, netting over a million dollars.
The performative piece, the Persistence of Chaos (not pictured), has been air-gapped and cannot be easily reconnected to the internet, which has since acquired herd immunity to the malware attacks though some individual networks and computers could and do easily succumb to infections, and include a legal disclaimer for all bidders to pledge not to weaponise the project.  More to explore at the links above. 


Taking a cue from the fracking and oil drilling industry could be the seismic and technological shift that helps the US and other power-intensive jurisdictions make the move to power sourced from wholly renewable and sustainable sources.
While solar and surplus storage (in batteries or as potential energy in gravity schemes) have been benefactors of public-attention, the same with electric vehicles over staid but practical public transportation, it’s been at the expense of geothermal engineering and exploration. Albeit the prospect of circulating plumbing through a field of hot springs for direct exchange is much more of a challenge than blasting enough water into the ground to force out a diminishing amount of shale and gas—poisoning our own wells in the process, considering how far the business was able to advance—transforming the US for instance from a consumer to a producer of petroleum, in the last decade does illustrate how sufficient motivation yoked to government support and regulation can send efforts—regarding cleaning up our acts—into overdrive.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

burg stolpen or under the rainbow

H and I decided we would let our vacation be at the mercy of the weather and it started raining without pause from midnight Monday onward, so after decamping, soggy, we started on our way back, making a detour to see Burg Stolpen, the town and a thirteenth century castle at the foot of a mountain of the same name and hewn out of basalt columns.
The mineral was first classified and described at this particularly rich quarry by local natural philosopher Georgius Agricola in a 1556 treatise.
The pictures are of the residence and prison of lady-in-waiting and mistress of Augustus II the Strong (der Starke) Anna Constantian von Brockdorff—eventually styled Countess of Cosel (Reichsgräfin von Cosel, *1680 - †1765)—who eventually earned the displeasure of her lover, imperial elector and king of Poland by her advocacy for the rights of Polish subjects.
Anna was banished from court and placed under house arrest in the tower for just under fifty years.
Adaptations of her biography in the 1980s rehabilitated her image and revived interest in the life and times of this defiant and inconvenient woman.
We couldn’t find any historic marker in the town but Stolpen was also the birthplace, we learned, of an arguably more famous—at least in contemporary terms in the West—quartet of siblings: the Doll family.
Born with the surname Schneider at the turn of the century up to the outbreak of World War I and first adopting and performing under the name Earle—after their manager and agent that brought them to America, Gracie, Harry, Daisy and Tiny were a formidable force as a sideshow and then as a screen act—always working together and insisting that they all have roles.
Terrors of Tiny Town and Tod Browning’s Freaks, all four were also Munchkins in the Wizard of Oz, with Harry (*1902 – †1985) performing as a representative of the Lollipop Guild.
Commercial fortunate allowed them to retire comfortably and purchase an estate in Sarasota, Florida—including a compound called the Doll House were all lived together, complete with custom furniture build to their scale.  Something strikes me in common about their stories—one a very vocal inmate of the town and others sent away without regard because of their difference.  What do you think?

Monday, 27 May 2019


Among our favourite things to discover on holiday are examples of vernacular, sometimes super-antiquated public transportation and in the Sächsische Schweiz, H and I got to sample plenty on our way to Bad Schandau through the Kirnitzsch (Kล™inice, a tributary of the Elbe) Valley.
A train, a ferry and steamboat were ultimately involved to bring us to an electric street car established in 1898 to transport guests of the sanitaria. The terminal ended with a guesthouse under the รฆgis of an artificial waterfall but there was the chance to hike up to the summit.
The peak with its natural sandstone archway and system of caves and hollows to explore became known as the Kuhstall, as this had to reach shelter became a favourite spot for residents to hide their livestock for safekeeping during the Thirty Years’ War and hidden from Swedish interlopers. The funicular is no longer the only option for traversing these nine kilometres but certainly the recommended mode of travel.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

of bastions and batteries

Constituted in part from some of the last remains of a medieval fortification (a bastion, the defensive ring around Felsenburg Neurahen) but mostly a series of naturally occurring but artfully linked observation platforms, the bridge located high in the sandstone mountains (die Elbsandsteingeberger) of Saxony represents one of the first purpose-built tourist attractions, having existed in this form for some two hundred years.
H and I recently had the chance to hike around and explore some of the trails in this area, known as the Saxon Switzerland, der Sächsische Schweiz, and take advantage of the accommodations that developed over the decades and informed what we have come to expect—for better or worse, from a destination, its renown presaged by romanticised depictions in travel guides and paintings—though nature conservancy also went hand in hand with promoting tourism and now is the centrepiece of an expansive national park and preserve.  Click on the images to enlarge.

Also not failing to deliver, next we toured the Fortress Kรถnigstein, located on the towering promontory that dominated our campsite, as we’d appreciate later. A centuries’ old enclosed ensemble asserts its control over the Elbe, forming the one of the largest fort in Europe, located on a tabletop hill (Tafelberg).

Casements and batteries aside, the Königstein owes its long existence and many iterations to a reliable water supply won through an incredibly deep well (one hundred and fifty two metres, excavated by hand with two horse power and the second deepest in Europe) that allowed the occupants of the fortress to survive and outlast what would otherwise be a crippling siege and a matter of waiting the defenders out.


Though Angela Merkel’s party, the Christian Democratic Union, did lighten up on their messaging somewhat, having taken this particular poster out of circulation early on after the campaign began in mid-April, the notion that freedom is not a guaranteed matter of course and that elections have consequences still is a crucial one.  Representation is important and illiberal forces are counting on your political disillusionment and disenfranchisement to forward their agendas. If polling has not already taken place where you live, please get out there and vote.

hรฆgri dagurinn

A year after a far more logistically challenging switch-over had occurred in Sweden, all vehicular traffic in Iceland switched from left-handed chirality to right on this day in 1968.
Owing to the relative absence of congestion on the roads prior and to the stationing of British military forces during and after World War II which significantly overrode civilian activity, Iceland was not compelled to choose or to align itself until it began hosting more guests from continental Europe and America. As for Sweden, the change was imposed in hopes of reducing traffic accidents and while indeed accidents decreased right after the transition due to an abundance of caution and over-compensation, the benefits were not long-lasting.

Saturday, 25 May 2019

towel day

First observed two weeks after the death of Douglas Adams (previously here and here) in 2001, this day since has been designated as such as the author’s practical advice for interstellar hitchhikers to carry a towel with them at all times, even if they are without any other gear and otherwise quite out of their element. Widespread since 2006, this day has also been set aside as Geek Pride Day and although the two came about independently (the latter probably selected in deference to the premiere of Star Wars on this day in 1977), there’s surely some shared heritage among them.

Friday, 24 May 2019

material and motif

The always brilliant Nag on the Lake introduces us to the repertoire of architect Bruce Alonzo Goff (*1904 - †1982) through his organic, harmonious commission for artists and educators Nancy and Eugene Bavinger completed in 1955 (making the cover of LIFE magazine due to its immediate status as a tourist attraction) in Norman, Oklahoma, far off the beaten path.
Set in the woods and using a re-purposed oil derrick drill stem as the central spire a single locally-sourced sandstone wall spiralled to the ground like a Möbius strip, the only division separating indoors from outdoors, rooms were suspended platforms at graduated heights with curtains that could be drawn for privacy and the ground floor was the forest itself. This icon of habitation integrated with its environment was sadly ultimately demolished in 2016 overgrown with vegetation and after a decade of vacancy and a tornado that damaged the structure’s anchor as plans for restoration were discussed. Other examples of works by Goff survive and enjoy protected status.

a white flag with an insignia that looks like an eagle vomiting two strips of bacon

Via Coudal Partners’ Fresh Signals, the American state of Illinois may have been saddled with a pretty awful banner, but it is heartening to know it is far from alone in that category with quite a few others having some quite poorly designed flags. None, I think could top the city flag of Tampa, Florida for the sheer volume and density of vexillological violations.  More to explore at the links above.

number 10

croquet lawns, village greens

Reigning as Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and later Empress of India from 1837 until her death in 1901, Alexandrina Victoria was born on this day in 1819. Having already declared itself to be a constitutional monarchy with more reforms to come, Victoria wielded no direct political power but was an important national figurehead and moral compass at a time of great social and technological change. Through a series of strategically arranged marriages of her issue with her consort Prince Albert (thirty four who survived into adulthood) to royal houses on the continent, Victoria earned the sobriquet of “Grandmother of Europe,” though kissing-cousins were no guarantors of peace.


location scout: travel destinations that embrace the Wes Anderson (previously) aesthetic

digit-1: Ford prototypes a foldable robot that might be delivering your packages soon

homer’s phobia: a look back at the 1997 John Waters’ cameo on the Simpsons that helped shift attitudes

enhanced pat-down: the US Transportation Security Administration keeps the loose change it collects and is factored into its operating budget

wheel estate: already priced out of the housing market, Silicon Valley communities are moving to ban people living out of their cars who work supporting the industry

bodennutzung: a trove of historic photographs from WWII bombing runs over Switzerland show how the landscape has changed over the decades 

Thursday, 23 May 2019


Though the story is still evolving and it is uncertain whether the scandal will precipitate the collapse of the coalition conservation government of Sebastian Kurz, an Austrian tabloid has secured a two-nights’ stay at the luxury villa on the Spanish holiday island where the 2017 meeting took place between woman posing as the niece of a Russian oligarch reportedly was able to secure public contracts in exchange for the promise of election help (in the form of buying a newspaper and turning it into a propaganda machine) from the now ousted vice-chancellor that will be awarded to a lucky reader. We can understand the concept of disaster tourism and the lure of a free get-away, regardless of the destination, and the importance of combating creeping corruption and influence peddling is crucial but I think maybe it is a touch shameless to be occurring in real-time.


For a couple of weeks, I had noticed the gap in the circle of stars on the hoodie (Pulli) donned by a candidate standing for a MEP slot and figured that it was a subtle/not-so-subtle reference to Brexit, but was not aware of the provenance or how the design by Berlin-based David Mallon was trending and very much in fashion among pro-EU, anti-extremist politicians. One of the twelve golden mullets was removed and affixed to the back of the sweater, this simple broken circle symbolising something beyond the UK’s departure and conveying volumes tacitly and inviting dialogue.


The ever brilliant Art Room Plant directs our attention to a thoughtful and circumspect exhibition by Art and Philosophy candidate Katherine Fay Allan that explores the similarities between gardening and medical intervention by exploring those liminal spaces between states of being and our want to assign neat categories. The installation includes a resurrection plant to illustrate how Nature sometimes defies those boundaries. Much more to explore at the link up top.


bit part: a preview of a biopic about Claude Shannon (previously)—the unsung Father of Information Theory

the revolution will not be biennialised: Banksy (previously) makes an appearance at a Venice expo, selling paintings of giant cruise ships moored in the canals

en pointe: the Hong Kong Ballet celebrates its fortieth birthday

๐Ÿ˜พ ๐Ÿ˜พ ๐Ÿ˜พ: Thangrycat is exploiting vulnerabilities in the underpinning architecture of the internet

urban spelunking: when the Jehovah’s Witnesses relocated from Brooklyn Heights to upstate, their vacated properties included a series of underground passageways, via Super Punch

conducive to learning: a collection of striking maps and charts that inspired pupils in the late nineteenth century

walking trot: phones can now determine who is carrying them by knowing their users’ gait and other kinematic factors, via Slashdot

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

sacred grove

The once lushly forested landscape of Ethiopia that has been critically depleted from the start of the twentieth century onward is preserved in tens of thousands of tiny pocket parishes of the ancient and revered Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (แ‹จแŠขแ‰ตแ‹ฎแŒตแ‹ซ : แŠฆแˆญแ‰ถแ‹ถแŠญแˆต : แ‰ฐแ‹‹แˆ•แ‹ถ : แ‰คแ‰ฐ : แŠญแˆญแˆตแ‰ฒแ‹ซแŠ•), a congregation in communion with the Coptic tradition and representing some of the earliest Christians. Sacred buildings are traditionally surrounded by a thicket of trees and thus have become the foci of biodiversity for the land, with the belief that the trees prevented prayer from dissipating too quickly. Local priests are hoping to make their oases into something more contiguous and bring Nature back to Ethiopia. Learn more at Amusing Planet at the link above.

รฆronomic phenomena

Whilst exploring the foothills of Aeolis Mons, Curiosity took a pause to look into the twilight skies and caught an amazing glimpse of wispy clouds sweeping overhead, conditions being just right to illuminate the microscopic ice crystals that make up this special classification (see also) called a noctilucent (“night shining”) cloud.
During the balance of the day, the Martian sky has a butterscotch hue but at dawn and dusk, it appears blue, the opposite situation than here on Earth, due to dust in the air and the lack of an ozone layer. It’s not the first observation of clouds in the thin atmosphere of the Red Planet and they flank the promontory of towering volcanic mountains and have been seen to gather elsewhere but it is certainly an inspiring, otherworldly sight.

invisible hand

In an act of solidarity, drivers who are working a side hustle for the major ride hailing companies exploit the algorithm of supply-and-demand and simultaneously cut off communication to make their dispatchers believe there’s few to no drivers available and thus creating a surge in fares—the drivers’ only means to eke out a profit in what would otherwise be a money-losing errand. This particular union serves travellers at a Washington, DC airport, timing their walk-out to coincide with incoming flights and reconnect after letting dispatch sweat it out for a few minutes and boost the fare price. It is unclear how long such a scheme can continue to take advantage of the tariff model or whether such methods are effective or encourage more grift and graft.

heritage tourism

In what smacks very much as an unholy alliance that turns over a rock to reveal that there’s already a booming genealogical travel industry, one problematic force of the gig-economy that’s turned gentrification into overdrive and percolated a housing crisis in the popular destination of the moment that’s proving very hard to recover from and another DNA analysis service that’s demonstrated some serious problems with confirmation bias and sampling-size form a partnership to make holiday-suggestions based on one’s ancestry—for those wanting to rediscover their roots.
Family histories can of course be fascinating, enlightening and humbling—to help us all realise that each of us has been uprooted and transplanted in one way or another, but this method and the package it promises does not strike me as the advisable way to dig around in the past. It’s a huge dissonance that we’ve cushioned ourselves to such a great extent to maintain our distance from others and avoid interaction or betraying intent, and yet we will invite strangers into our homes and automobiles and hope they’ll judge us well. What do you think? The two companies pledge that data about one’s DNA and travelogue won’t cross but I can’t see how that can be prevented. We’d all like to be able to extemporaneously share our narratives and autobiographies (especially when they reaffirm our uniqueness) and perhaps have a dramatic reunion with long-lost cousins, but I don’t think that journey is one that ought to be short-circuited though marketing gimmicks and cynical ploys for horizontal monopolies on one’s aspirations.

swedish neatballs

Exclusive to Dezeen, we are treated to three sustainable, future-proof recipes to try at home from IKEA’s laboratory Space10. By releasing a cookbook and encouraging individuals to experiment in their own labs and incubators, IKEA is hoping to come closer to closing “the gap between future trends and real life” and enable people to become active and engaged agents of positive change. Check out recipes and learn more about Space10’s test kitchen at the link above.

between the lines

Located on the grounds of an orchard in Borgloon near Liรจge, the Doorkijkkerk (See-through Church) was installed in 2011 as part of a public arts campaign to urge thinking about open spaces through negative space and the silhouette of architecture. The weightless structure is comprised of one hundred metal plates supported by two thousand columns. Depending on the angle of the viewer, the perspective of the church shifts from nearly solid to vanishing thin and wan against the sky. See a whole transformative gallery at Unusual Places at the link above.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019


Via Boing Boing, we’re served up a rather delightful little movie from the point of view of a camera mounted on the conveyor belt of a sushi restaurant (ๅ›ž่ปขๅฏฟๅธ, literally rotating sushi). Every moment is splendid and captures the joys of dining out with friends, each passing booth telling its own story, some reacting to the camera and other too focused to notice. It’s a sweet one off feat but I wouldn’t want this repeated (the conversations are muffled with a soundtrack) and feel surveilled every time I ate out—especially given my propensity for being clumsy with plates and utensils.  We also appreciated how the source website categorised the video under the label sonder.

street view

Incredibly just a few years after the first surviving photograph was taken (the View from the Window at Le Gras captured by inventor Nicรฉphore Niรฉpce in 1826), the technology became pervasive enough that one dedicated archivist was able to compile a globe-spanning procession of street photography, chronicling the one hundred and eighty-one years since its popular, commercial adoption. The starting point—1838—marks when France arranged to pay Louis Daguerre, Niรฉpce’s former business partner, a pension for the rest of his days, in exchange for his developing process, which it gifted to the world.


Via Coudal Partners’ Fresh Signals and related to a recent post, we appreciated this study on identity and branding of the airlines of Africa that emerged in the 1960s as colonialism was receding as a way to celebrate independence and self-determination. Logos, route maps and other ephemera from several national air-carriers have been curated by Northwestern University with brief histories of the airlines and links back to original sources to learn more.

a carbonated “beverage”

I have no memory of this phenomenal marketing misreading and miscalculation and suppose our town or high school wasn’t in the test market, so am grateful and a little bit baffled that a soft drink giant, eager to appeal to the demographic of Generation X was willing to exploit what we’d now recognise arguably as potentially problematic tendencies and male toxicity. Leaning deeply into the ironic and blatantly pandering with an anti-commercial campaign, Ok Soda trialled in 1993 specially targeted at a “generation of male teens and young men tired of hype and pretension.” Cans were even printed with a rather lengthy ten-point manifesto.
Ultimately, consumers didn’t care for the drink and the whole advertising campaign proved too relentlessly bleak and nihilistic for consumers, even their target audience. The line was discontinued in 1995 and never went into broader distribution.  Be sure to visit Messy Nessy Chic at the link above to see more artefacts of this failed attempt at reverse-psychology and branding disaffection.