Wednesday, 31 July 2019

nacho typical arbour day

In light of Ethiopia’s big stride towards its goal of reforestation of four billion trees as part of a wider campaign and being cognisant that good efforts need some expertise to back them up, we appreciated this selection of products and projects from Futurekind, which included this sort of compostable chip-and-dip bowl for saplings called Cocoon, having taken part in many of these huge arboreal efforts, that helps boost survival rates by reducing the need for follow-up irrigation. Much more to explore at the links above.

the matter of britain

Former Prime Minister Teresa May made the executive decision to rule out withdrawal from the European Union—not excusing her window-dressing a fools’ errand and Pyrrhic victory—absent an agreement on terms of future trading relationships and remained steadfastly committed to this goal knowing that forestalling negotiations could result in the dissolution of the United Kingdom.
Now with a new prime minister and no closer to reaching a deal, first ministers of Scotland and Wales are respectively calling for another independence referendum (Boris Johnson is stating that he will deny the country the chance to re-visit this once-in-a-generation vote and that the question is a settled matter) and threatening to stage crippling protests over the negative economic impact that will render domestic sheep and their agricultural industry in general unmarketable. Northern Ireland, which like its sister countries with the exception of England voted in favour of remaining a member of the EU, has raised the spectre of reunion with the Republic of Ireland over the economic impact of Brexit and the very real possibility that leaving may necessitate the unwelcome return a physical barrier on the isle—a sentiment fuelled also by the prospect that London may need to impose direct rule on the region in the interim. Closing the border in violation of the Good Friday Agreement would also threaten the trade deals with the US that the UK has banked this whole ordeal on. Winning is sometimes easy, whilst governing is the real challenge.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019


Though I suspect that religion is still a bit of a butinsky in human affairs, we can appreciate the elegant and simple formulation first developed in a 1997 essay by science historian and communicator Stephen Jay Gould.
Each nonoverlapping magisteria represents distinct domains and lines of inquiry, fact and valued respectively, and neither can claim jurisdiction over the other. What do you think? It’s hardly a settled matter and there’s of course a long continuum when the two certainly commingled and invocation is still practised but sometimes it’s helpful to lean heavily into the paradox to arrive at better and more emphatic conclusions.

incognito mode

Absent effective legislation or political will, Polish artist Ewa Nowak is staging her own intervention in the form of disruptive, masking jewelry that defeats facial recognition software (see also).  The business of surveillance does not police itself but at least countermeasures can adapt as well and such stands are especially urgent as such automated monitoring is not only used by state-players to track whereabouts, it’s also being aggressively adopted by the marketing industry to enchant and guide our shopping experience.

typecast and tunnel-vision

We found this discussion on the difference between the gymnasium of serendipities and the human- or increasingly algorithmically-jured recommendations that are designed to maximise engagement and prolong our stay in any of several walled-gardens from Kottke guest contributor Patrick Tanguay to be a particularly resonant one and worth considering in full.
Not that programming and curation is not a skill and many enterprises and endeavours have failed for lack of an organiser to marshal interest, one ought to hold prompts and suggestions in a healthy contempt  and be a touch wistful over our limited palette (sort of the apposite of FOMO) and suspicious of the customised world of news, entertainment and advertising presented to us, unique and inscrutable and tedious.

Monday, 29 July 2019

jovan musk

Weird Universe informs that one fragrance, Calvin Klein’s Obsession, has the particular endorsement of individuals of the feline variety, having near aphrodisiac qualities. Cats are keen on this scent due to one of its signature ingredients that make up the bouquet, a chemical compound called civetone, a pheromone originally distilled from the scent glands of the African civet that can be re-created synthetically with the chemicals found in palm oil. The cologne has allure for both domestic and wild cats.

mail order

Withdrawal from conventions—especially in the form of old, established treaties always have unforeseen consequences and benefits mostly those that are positioned to take advantage of what happens at the margins, negotiating between those inside and outliers.  One knock-on effect of Trump’s announcement  last year that the US would be quitting the one hundred forty-four year-old Universal Postal Union of which almost every other country in the world is party to could result in severe delays (or expulsion of the community mail rooms altogether) for US military and diplomatic staff stationed overseas receiving packages and parcels just in time for the holidays and the shipping season.
America would reconsider if it can renegotiate terminal-dues in such a way that does not economically advantage China, but given the ill-will that the administration has already fostered with host countries with tariffs and even suggesting that nations should pay protection money for the privilege, it seems unlikely that any wants to talk terms with the US.

Sunday, 28 July 2019


Via Kottke’s Quick Links, we are helped to the realisation that the dominate trend in gaming and by extension, simulations, is your garden-variety agricultural challenge, be that in fostering plants, foraging or cultivating a victory garden for one’s own survival.
I suppose that there’s a universal theme to all computerised games that could admit of the same analogy—though some instances are more obvious than others—and a certain stress-relieving quality that is present in and and common to the stakes of all diversions, though often times progress is measured differently and in the permission to fail and try again, there’s nonetheless something in the Zeitgeist that game architects and engineers are connecting with regarding anxiety and accomplishment. I hope that this skills and rewards can translate to being better, more engaged caretakers of the natural world we increasingly find ourselves estranged from.

a buccaneering buffet

Atlas Obscura presents a fascinating profile of ex-pirate and food writer William Dampier (*1651 – †1715) whose explorations were a span bridging the Golden Age of the exploits of Empire of Sir Walter Raleigh and James Cook with the later scientific expeditions of Alexander von Humboldt, Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin, Dampier’s travelogue accompanying the latter on the HMS Beagle.
Though also responsible in part for propagating the portrayal of aboriginal peoples as less than human, ultimately court-martialed for cruelties perpetrated in Australia and whose valuing of cargo—an exotic staple crop, breadfruit, for export to struggling colonies—over the well-being of crew informed Mutiny on the Bounty (circumnavigating the globe three times, also inspired Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels), without Dampier’s gustatory sense of swash-buckling and adventurous appetite, our palette might not have the taste for soy-sauce, bananas, cashews, barbeque or guacamole—to name a few. Fortunately, other delicacies sampled, like matinees and flamingos, did not catch on. 


gotham: photographer Amey Kandalgaonkar captures Art Deco Shanghai as informed by the dark backgrounds of Batman: The Animated Series—via Nag on the Lake

east-enders: a beautiful collection of photographs from the 1920s—via Strange Company

my geode must be acknowledged: the brilliant career of Russi Taylor (RIP, *1944 – †2019), actor who voiced Minnie Mouse and Martin Prince—among many, many others

reon pocket: Sony test-markets a wearable air-conditioner

e-plein: Renault may bring back its classic beach buggy as an electric vehicle

pen and ink changes: the British Library has dozens of instructional programmes on how medieval manuscripts were made—via the Art of Darkness

daily planet: visualising how a constellation of satellites work together to create a diurnal snapshot of the Earth—previously 

Saturday, 27 July 2019


We learn that among the current banners of the US states, Oregon is the only flag to have a different obverse and reverse (pictured, Alabama, Massachusetts, Minnesota and West Virginia used to)—my thinking tends that the beaver makes a better symbol (see also).
The front displays “State of Oregon” with the year of its incorporation, 1859, above and below the achievement taken from the state seal. From 1980 to 1991, the flag of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics displayed the Hammer and Sickle on one side only with the back being a solid red field, and the flag and ensign of Paraguay is a triband and tricolour with a small disc centred in the fess with the coat of arms on the front and the small disc on the back displaying the motto peace and justice (also used by the country’s Ministry of Justice) with a lion and a Phrygian cap.

moral hazard, moral obligation

Like the slap on the wrist that a social media giant received for bulldozing democracy and delivering Trump and Johnson and leaving us hobbled and handicapped absence the public trust and confidence in institutions and process to try to reclaim our government and civil society, a consumer credit-reporting agency was also given a paltry fine for its wrongdoings, compromising the data and confidence (and covering it up) of millions of Americans and people abroad. And though staking one’s claim to the class-action settlement for the amount allocated to each affected person is a bit onerous and insulting and probably the cheap alternative they are salivating over to avoid consequential punishment in the future, should you want these giant financial institutions to aspire to be better custodians of our data in the future, you ought to take the time and file your claim. It’s worth $125 at minimum to you (this is your entitlement for being put at risk for identity theft), more if you can demonstrate hardship encountered above and beyond that—and it’s just regurgitating back to the creditors the personal details on you they already have and then carelessly lost.

hov lane

Via Design Boom, we learn about a simple but effective intervention that the city of Utrecht has instigated to create sanctuaries—bees stops (Bijstopt), for urban insects by planting grasses and wildflowers on top of bus shelters, some three hundred of them throughout the city. This is a step we could all encourage where we live. Much more to explore at the link above.


Via My Modern Met, we learn that a group of scientists and activists from Rice University in the course of producing a documentary called “Not Ok” chronicling the loss of Iceland’s first glacier (Ok for short) in Borgarfjรถrรฐur have created a memorial plaque and missive to the future, our judges whether we did what was needed to save the others.
Not only does it eulogise this tragic first slippage for the island that won’t be its last and the consequences of a catastrophic, runaway climate change. The plaque is to be installed 18 August and makes note of the atmospheric CO2 count in parts per million, which might become a novel way to date events.

Friday, 26 July 2019

see you later alligator

From a round-up on Kaiju and Kaiju-adjacent packaging and logos curated by Super Punch, we stumble across perhaps the greatest, retired mascot (see also) ever—the able Alligator for Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (Osaka-Shลsen-Kobe, MOL), one of the largest shipping companies in the world. For all the container cargo we see passing through, I am really surprised we’ve never noticed or at least registered this one before. Do you have any other nominees aligned with this theme?


Delightfully, we learn that from a candid picture of their cat regaled with its shed fur as a jaunty head-dress—the subjects might be humiliated but not distressed by it since it’s their own fur—has developed into a minor movement and phenomenon known as Nukege (็Œซ ๆŠœใ‘ๆฏ›, shed or dander) Hats. I’m sure it takes some practise and patience to get good at it—and a cooperative model—but the medium seems to be pretty pliable. See a whole gallery and learn more about the originators at the link above.

closing the loop

Previously we’ve discussed how the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games are to make a statement on sustainability by salvaging precious metals for the placing athletes from electronic waste, and now courtesy of Dezeen, we see the committee has revealed their gold, silver and bronze medals.
Designed and conceived by Junichi Kawanishi, the medals and their cases are alloyed from substances recovered from old electronic devices donated by the public. All told, this netted—mostly from obsolete smart phones, some six million of them over the course of two years—thirty-two kilogrammes of gold, thirty-five hundred kilogrammes of silver and twenty-two hundred kilogrammes of bronze. Much more at the links above.

Thursday, 25 July 2019

seal of approval or there—i fixed it for you

While describing the incident as an unfortunate A/V error reminds me of the furore over a Saudi Arabian textbook that showed Yoda with King Faisal, some one really upstaged Donald Trump whilst he held another one of his tedious Nรผrnberger Rallies with a doctored presidential seal as a backdrop. 
To the keen observer, one notices that instead of a bundle of arrows, the bald eagle is clutching golf clubs and is conspicuously double-headed, like the coat of arms of the Russian Federation.  It’s a popular misconception that unlike this circumspect symbol that looks to the past and future, the bald eagle does not turn its gaze from peacetimewhen on a war footing. The myth is rooted in an anecdote involving Harry Truman and Winston Churchill (often quoted for things he did not say), when the US president asked the UK prime minister what he thought of the new seal’s recent redesign and Churchill recommended that the head ought to be on a swivel, ready for anything as occasion might demand. The story was repeated and spread by film and television. 

tears in the rain

Veteran Dutch actor Rutger Hauer passed away at the age of seventy-five. Among numerous credits to his name over a career that spanned decades, his portrayal of rogue Replicant Roy Batty in 1982’s Blade Runner is probably his most iconic and memorable—especially so for the self-scripted soliloquy his character, cornered, delivered from a wet rooftop before powering down, the android (see also) aware of his imminent mortality built into his programming: “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I’ve watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhรคuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in the rain. Time... to die.” Batty expires (the film itself set in the year 2019) having just rescued the Special Agent Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) from a fall, hunting Batty down so he can “retire” him.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019


Via Slashdot, we learn that the software engineer behind Twitter’s re-tweet button has a lot of remorse about his endowment to civilisation, comparing the feature that was originally installed to facilitate news in a natural disaster, which was indeed a force-multiplier in terms of virality, to having “headed a loaded weapon to a four-year-old.” Other social media sites developed their own form of push-button sharing soon afterwards. There are doubts whether the genie can be put back in the bottle.

418 u.s. 643 (1974)

It’s a quirk of history to be savoured that Special Council Robert Mueller’s testimony before the US Congress was delayed and coincides with the forty-fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court handing down its unanimous decision on The United States v. Nixon.
Even the president’s own attorney, requesting that the authorities drop their request to subpoena the incriminating tapes by dint of executive privilege, stated that, “The president wants me to argue that he is as powerful a monarch as Louis XIV, only four years at a time, and is not subject to the processes of any court in the land except the court of impeachment.” The Supreme Court held, however, that Nixon could be compelled to hand over evidence in a criminal trial that is demonstrably relevant and that no person is above the law. In lieu of impeachment, Nixon resigned two weeks later, ultimately pardoned for his wrongdoings by his vice-president and successor Gerald Ford in September of the same year.


Previously we’ve looked at some of the artefacts that accompanied the astronauts on their mission to the Moon, and now on the anniversary of their splashdown and safe return, we’re reminded how the crew beta-tested new technologies—and not just the obvious ones or Tang—but also the prototype for Sony’s Walkman, the rather revolutionary cassette player becoming commercially available a decade later. Though not quite the soundtrack from Guardians of the Galaxy (I wonder if the plot device was an homage), the best part of learning about this is that the playlist is available and includes Spinning Wheel, Everyday People and Angel of the Morning by Merrilee Rush and the Turnabouts, charting in the previous year

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

camera obscura

Via Boing Boing, we learn about the creative outreach effort on the part of Exeter educator and photographer Brendan Barry, who has transformed a cordite shipping container into a functioning, large format demonstration camera, gallery and dark room. A mobile operation, the touring learning laboratory invites the curious to make portraits of their community while discovering the elements of photography (using technology that is rooted in Antiquity, the title refers to the technique of a darkened chamber originally the focus of a projected image) in an engaging and hands-on way. Much more to explore at the links above.

cascading style sheets or iso 216

Charting outliers on a world map looks suspiciously similar to countries that utilize the metric system versus countries who don’t, but it is worth reflecting on the mathematical properties that stand behind this universal format for paper size that makes each in the series, from poster to letter to brochure and so on, derivative and retains the same aspect ratio—the square root of two (≈ 1.4142857 rounding to the nearest millimetre) to one. When a sheet of paper with these dimensions is folded in half along the shorter axis (widthwise), each half retains the same ratio and is incredibly useful for scaling a job up or down without cutting a part out or leaving an empty margin.

bird’s eye view

Via the always engaging Kottke, we are introduced to the aerial repertoire of the Andrews Brothers who’ve set up a print shop to sell some of their showcase, abstract drone photography. Among their latest compositions is this rather jarring and disorienting work called “Skyline” of shipping containers stacked high on a barge with the forecastle bridge towering above the other silhouettes whose shadows pass over the water. More to discover at the links above.

Monday, 22 July 2019


bird of prey: Airbus reveals concept hybrid-powered aircraft design that relies on biomimicry to boost efficiency

malpratise: Johnson’s and Trump’s assault on the NHS through relaxing UK price-controls on medication

we liked the sequel, also sprach zarathustra: re-mapping syllabi from institutions of higher learning

southern exposure: the rotating solaria of Doctor Jean Saidman

groundcrew: support staff of Japan’s Air Self-Defence Force (est’d 1954) celebrated its sixtieth anniversary with precision scooter manoeuvres

dysfluency: virtual assistants have an array of human touches to build trust and rapport

re-freezer: ingenious plan to combat rising oceans by replenishing the ice-sheet artificially

engage: the trailer for Star Trek: Picard (previously)

and whitey’s on the moon

While the achievements of Apollo 11 were universally awing and captivating, for those in America who were politically and civilly disenfranchised and marginalised, people were left wondering why such focus and resources weren’t also being committed to bring about social justice and eliminate inequality. This led influential jazz musician and poet Gil Scott-Heron (*1949 – †2011)—best remembered for his essay “The Revolution will not be Televised”—to compose “Whitey on the Moon” in the following year.  Though there’s no evidence for a connection of any kind, the opening cadence makes me think a little bit of the 1979 song from The Police, “Walking on the Moon.”

I can’t pay no doctor bill. 
(but Whitey’s on the moon) 
Ten years from now I’ll be paying still. 
(while Whitey’s on the moon)

Sunday, 21 July 2019

rajio taisล

Broadcast calisthenics (ใƒฉใ‚ธใ‚ชไฝ“ๆ“), a morning staple in Japan and areas with a sizable Japanese diaspora—have been a popular routine since it was instituted nationwide on the ascension of Emperor Hirohito in 1928, the idea for radio exercises coming from a US life insurance company that sponsored a quarter of an hour regiment from the 1920s offered as one’s daily constitutional.
This approximately three-minute (that’s a commitment that I could make and make room for in between coffee and a shower and dashing off to catch the bus) programme, now under the auspices of Japan’s public broadcaster, is part of school curriculum, social groups and some businesses utilise it to energise employees and build morale and cohesion, but—knowing the structure by heart, many also tune individually—having grown up with the familiar format that’s remained the same for decades.  Learn more from The Guardian at the link above.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

statio tranquillitatas

Yet embroiled in a lawsuit levied against the US space agency by the founder of the American Atheist association for the astronauts’ recitation during Apollo 8’s lunar orbit during Christmas Eve of the first ten verses of the Book of Genesis and demanded that they refrain from evangelising while in space, after touching down on the Moon, in the six-hour interim before stepping outside the lander, flight engineer Buzz Aldrin—in that spirit—took Sunday communion in private.
A church elder of a Presbyterian congregation, his kit was prepared ahead of time by his pastor and the chalice used during the lunar ceremony is in possession of the church near Galveston, Texas where Johnson Space Center exists today. The chalice is used for a special commemoration on the Sunday closest to the original date each year. The remander of the time was a designated sleep-period, but too excited, the break was cut short. “This is the LM [Landing Module] pilot,” Aldrin said, taking the com, “I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way.”

unternehmen walküre

On this day in 1944, Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg orchestrated a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler and remove the Nazi party from power. The culmination of several co-conspirators representing a coalition of resistance groups from across Germany, the coup d’รฉtat (Putsch) was to dislodge the party loyals and the Gestapo and make peace with the Western Allies as soon as possible.
The attempt to detonate an explosive planted in the conference room in the Wolfsschanze failed to achieve their objective and precipitated in the arrest and execution of hundreds of co-conspirators and a purge of military personnel—the army using the event as a pretence to settle old scores and a way to settle grudges even if there was only a very tenuous connection to the opposition. Had the plot succeeded, members had been designated ahead of time to assume government and cabinet positions and leave no room for others to claim power in the ensuing chaos, including Stauffenberg as the Minister of State to the War Department and staunch detractor of the Nazi regime Carl Friedrich Goerdeler as chancellor—though the latter was a source of incriminating evidence and was apparently willing to implicate others, consigning all to the same fate as martyrs. Despite the fact that the Führer’s reign of terror continued for almost another year afterwards with more death and destruction, the bravery of the plotters showed to the world that Germany was not monolithic in their thinking and outlook.

chryse planitia

Touching down on this day in 1976, the seventh anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, Viking 1 became the second probe to successfully reach Mars after the Soviet Union’s ะœะฐั€ั-3 five years earlier—beginning what would turn out to be a rather incredible six-year monitoring mission (sadly, the previous effort failed after seconds) with a battery of biological experiments to search for evidence of life.

Scientists were also able to use this distant beacon that’s sometimes occulted by the Sun to confirm the phenomenon of gravitational time dilation as predicted by the theory of General Relativity, the Sun’s gravity causing delays in transmission times. The Viking sent back this incredible panoramic vista (landing site in the title) shortly after its arrival.

konkrete kunst

Here is a tondo (a circular enframed work of art, from the Italian rotondo, “round”) from Swiss artist Fritz Glarner (born on this day in 1899, †1972). Heavily influenced by painters of De Stijl movement, particularly the geometrical studies of Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, Glarner’s style focused on “relational” schema as revealed through architectural patterns. Studying in Paris, Glarner spent most of his professional career in New York’s Long Island artist colony, before retiring to Locarno in 1966.

Friday, 19 July 2019


I think we are all this film review of the upcoming “live,” demented deep-dreaming nightmare adaptation of the musical Cats. So many questions that dare not seek answers.
The 1981 piece is based on a collection of epistolary poetry that T. S. Eliot (previously) composed to entertain his godchildren in the 1930s—presenting a sociological tract on a tribe of felines and their nomination of one of their members to ascend into a paradisaical afterlife and be reincarnated, and the new production, starring an ensemble cast of screen and stage luminaries projected onto cat-sized avatars, is seemingly riding the coattails of attempting to revive old properties with live-actors aided by digital graphics, dispensing the need for imagination and suspension of disbelief, illustrative of what happens when creative outlets are not constrained by a budget and no one has the courage of conviction to say when a project is going in the wrong direction.

meine tochter nimmer mehr

Featured in Amadeus, a favourite of the endearingly incompetent Florence Foster Jenkins and dispatched to the Cosmos on the Golden Records of the Voyager emissaries, we’re all familiar with the challenging coloratura passage, the trilled run spanning two octaves, of Mozart’s Die Zauberflรถte but I failed to appreciate the piece’s message and that it’s classified as a rage aria (which sounds quite fancy—Yas Queen, the Italian terms being aria agitate or aria infuriate).
Entitled “Hell’s Vengeance Boils in my Heart” (Der Hรถlle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen), the Queen of the Night delivers a knife to her daughter Pamina and on pain of disownment, assassinate her arch-rival, the high priest Sarastro, whom had recruited her daughter and would be rescuer Prince Tamino and sidekick Papageno to his school of thought. Familiar with her vocal talents, Mozart wrote the part for his sister-in-law Josepha Hofer who first played the role, with words by librettist Emanuel Schikaneder—whom himself played the part of bird-catcher Papageno in the opera’s premiere.

bonjour farewell

In a private meeting between French and US presidents during the Ottawa G7 Summit of the summer of 1981, Franรงois Mitterand disclosed to Ronald Reagan of the existence of a Soviet defector, Colonel Vladimir Vetrov, a French intelligence asset codenamed Farewell with the notion that if apprehended the KGB would assume he was working for the Americans, and turned over an extensive collection of documents, referred to as the Farewell Dossier, demonstrating that the Soviets had been routinely surveilling and incorporating US and NATO partners’ research and technology.
The files also identified the espionage network that had taken years and considerable expense to build and thus precipitated the expulsion of hundreds of spies from countries in the alliance, but prior to taking action, the US Central Intelligence Agency instigated a counter-campaign of disinformation and disseminated faulty designs in the hopes that the Soviets would try to steal these sabotaged plans as well. Though the correlation is disputed and quite possibly just reflects the angst expressed by the Reagan administration that British and West German support for a trans-Siberian natural gas export pipeline would compromise their allies and make them reliant on Russia for energy, according to some accounts, the CIA delivered a Trojan Horse to pressure control relays that caused a massive explosion in the winter of 1983. The US was already imposing sanctions on the Soviets and restricting the sale of supplies needed for the monumental engineering project, which became operational despite these setbacks.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

it’s the assault on freedom of the press. but it’s not just the assault on freedom of the press.

This essay, via Miss Cellania, from David Rothkopf at first glance reminded me of a punchline from Michelle Wolf, part of her monologue which ultimately led to the rubbishing of a time-honoured journalistic and comedic tradition for the White House Press Corps: “Trump is so broke he had to borrow money from the Russians and now he’s compromised and susceptible to blackmail and possibly responsible for the collapse of the Republic. Yay, it’s a fun game!”
It goes to demonstrate, however, how far we’ve lost ground and how present the threat of normalising, despite forewarnings, has become. Droning on in the best spirit and practise of demagogues, “It’s the dead in Puerto Rico and the at the border. But it’s not just the dead in Puerto Rico and at the border. It’s turning the US government into a criminal conspiracy to empower and enrich the president and his supporters. But it’s not just the turning the US government into a criminal conspiracy to empower and enrich the president and his supporters. It’s weaponisation of politics in America to attack the weak. But it’s not just the weaponisation of American politics to attack the weak.” Rejecting this point-of-view keeps it marginalised and keeps us focused and reminds us that this is not normal.

freigegeben ohne altersbeschrรคnkung

Concerned that the Occupying Powers in post-war Germany had not prioritised censorship and protecting impressionable young minds from negative influences portrayed in film—also as a way to head off government- or military-mandated controls by demonstrating that the industry could police itself, those charged with rebuilding West Germany’s film industry (see also) with the consultation of the church and psychologists created a ratings scale—modeled off the US Hays Code and the standards that it imposed on cinema, finalised and submitted to the allied authorities for consideration on 18 July 1949, approved and granted autonomy on 28 September, one of the first prerogative that the country was entrusted with after the war.
The self-regulatory body (FSK, Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle der Filmwirtschaft) is based in Wiesbaden and since 2009 headquartered in the Deutsches Filmhaus, which also serves as a museum, theatre and broadcast studio, located near the Schlacthof Cultural Centre.

les horrible cernettes

Sharing their initials with the future Large Hadron Collider and with office chart-topping hits such as “Antiworld,” “Mister Higgs” and “Strong Interaction” the trio, the Horrible CERN girls, became the first music group to have its image on the world wide web when this cover became one of the first images (originally as a GIF) posted there—the photograph taken on this day in 1992 and then scanned at the request of Tim Berners-Lee so he could publish them on some sort of information system he’d just invented. Sticking together for two decades before disbanding, the members got back together five years afterward for an anniversary reunion concert in Geneva in the summer of 2017.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

share and share alike

Though arguably the worst-kept secret in the international defence alliance but the inadvertent disclosure, confirmation of the location of the US nuclear arsenal forward-positioned in Europe seems at least to me a pretty dangerous exposรฉ and far more tempting of a fools’ crusade than the storming of Area 51 to extract some supposed extra-terrestrial beings. An open-secret already with Wikipedia articles on the towns in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Turkey and Italy that reflect the stationing of warheads, security and launch protocols one wonders how tautological and self-referencing the news is.
Indeed there are relics of a hopefully bygone era all over Europe (with official admission at least broaching the subject) and let’s hope there’s no new arms race with Russia that necessitates a further build-up, but seeing this unsourced report, since removed, reminds me of an anecdote—also from Wikipedia, that related how during the DDR, East Berliners referred to the grand boulevard now called Karl-Marx-Allee as “Stalin’s Bathroom” (Stalins Badezimmer) owning to the tiled facades (Fassadenfliesen) of the showcase buildings. Included in an article on Berolinismus (Berliner-isms, that is pet names for structures and other architectural features like the Bierpinsel instead of the tower-restaurant Steglitz or “Telespargel” for the TV Tower or the East Side Gallery), this new moniker was picked up by many journalistic outlets (both foreign and domestic) and perpetuated in the media. The contributor later admitted that it seemed to him like a fitting a term of affection and that the list was incomplete and he could help by expanding it but no one ever referred to Karl-Marx-Allee as Stalin’s Bathroom. I wonder if it might be a similar case of commission in the case of the nuclear weapons as well.


Founded by entrepreneur, computer historian and member of the Unicode Emoji steering committee Jeremy Burge in 2014—a year after starting the reference site Emojipedia—today has been set aside as World Emoji Day.
The date was chosen in deference to the default date already displayed in the calendar application software of Apple systems (iCal) between 2002 and 2007, itself in reference to the debut of the cross-platform scheduling and sychronising assistant at the Mac World Expo that summer. Though now apps are dynamic and display the actual date, this design artefact is retained and reflected in modern parlance and used in most operating system emoji vernacular. How do you plan to celebrate?

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

sad foot, happy foot

Via Super Punch, we learn about a sign for a podiatry practise that’s become a landmark on a corner of Sunset Boulevard over the past four decades and a daily portend for residents on how their day will transpire—depending on what side of the revolving sign greets you first, which will be dismantled shortly as the doctor prepares to retire. An interview with the Echo Park practitioner is a segue to consider all of Los Angeles’ endearing and ritualised kitsch and the prompt to notice one’s own local architectural mascots.  Eye-sore is such a cruel phrase but do you have one you wish upon?

space race

Via Mysterious Universe, on this fiftieth anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11 from Cape Canaveral we learn that according to one imminent historian, John F Kennedy, who famously charged his nation with committing “itself to achieving the goal before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth,” did not intend for the Space Race to become the bi-polar, ideological struggle and ongoing rivalry that it since morphed into but rather entertained it might be an international collaborative effort that might help foster peace and cooperation.
In an interview granted to the Telegraph (possible paywall) ahead of his book release, John Logsdon, director of the Space Policy Institute and former member of the NASA advisory council. Delivering that speech before Congress in May of 1961 with the Bay of Pigs standoff only recently diffused, US-Soviet tensions were heightened and the private meeting between Nikita Khrushchev and JFK in Vienna a few weeks later was probably dominated by negotiation on nuclear proliferation and spheres of influence, but there is evidence to suggest that Kennedy might have broached the idea of a joint mission to the lunar surface. Later even entertained before a United Nations assembly, it’s a matter of some speculation why this did not occur but is nonetheless satisfying to indulge what the common effort might have looked like for geopolitics. Though crewed landing on the Moon was not itself a shared endeavour, the dรฉtente and cooperation was ushered in with the last mission of the programme itself, with the Apollo-Soyuz test project conducted in July of 1975.


Polish graphic designer Jacek Walesiak invites us to celebrate some of the modern, more off-kilter holidays and observances through a special, commemorative run of postage stamps that also fรชte the country’s rich op art heritage.  The collection includes sheets that mark International Day of Vegetarianism (1 October), International Sock Day (4 December), Towel Day (25 May), Trolley Drivers’ Day (see also) and International Day of Caps Lock (observed semi-annually on 28 June and 22 October).  

Monday, 15 July 2019

happy little clouds

Painted in triplicate for each episode of The Joy of Painting’s eleven year run, over a thousand originals of Bob Ross’ landscapes exist.
Lovingly curated, however, the paintings are not part of the behemoth art market, turning masterpieces into stores of wealth without patronage but are rather stored in a central repository in Virginia with plans to put some on display at a national gallery. Not tempted to break-up the collection by present pressures, the caretakers of Ross’ legacy are confident that he’d much rather inspire emulation and imitation to create something by one’s own hand over being a sought-after acquisition.

series g

Replacing industrialist partners Matthew Bouton and James Watt of steam-engine fame, the Bank of England’s next batch of £ fifty notes will feature on the reverse mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing, whose pioneering work not only helped defeat Nazi Germany by decrypting transmissions between command and control and the front but was also indispensably formative in how we regard electronic cognition and artificial intelligence.
Speaking of his work programming the British Bombe, one of his code-breaking electro-mechanical machines, the bill has the quotation, “This is only a foretaste of what is to come and only the shadow of what is going to be.” Although this statement does not amend past missteps—Turing’s contributions only much later acknowledged and rehabilitated and the country’s marked ingratitude, such decisions are consequential and meaningful, standing in marked contrast to the United States, whose money mostly only features dead presidents and the planned roll-out of a black, female abolitionist on the $ twenty note was delayed and deferred over the current pretender’s affection for the observe as it stands, featuring a president infamous as a slavery apologist and for his genocidal treatment of Native Americans.

team democracy

Provocatively the US Sh*t-Poster-in-Chief launched an attack on a group of progressive congress members, unbidden but not quite of the blue, that rounded the gauntlet for racism, xenophobia and misogyny. Tweeting throughout the day Sunday, Trump criticised the four freshmen representatives, known as the Squad for disrespecting America and America's allies and spoiling morale and cohesion within the rival Democratic Party.
While it is unclear what is the best strategy to pursue to dislodge the Trump syndicate from government, the infighting is far from sectarian and disagreement is healthy for democracy and certainly does not merit the ugly arson of language unacceptable in any context—Trump telling the duly elected representatives and their constituents (and Trump’s supporters since all this transpired very publicly) that they should not presume to dictate to a great power such as the United States of America how it ought to operate and instead invited them to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came.” All four members of the Squad are America citizens and all but one were born in the US. Though not the first time Trump has used such hateful vitriol to pander to his political and ideology base—his political career such as it is premised on amplifying a narrative that called into question the legitimacy of his predecessor based on lies about his citizenship, this schoolyard bully may have finally picked the wrong fight.  Trump was not wrong in his own assessment that their government is a catastrophe and in urgent need of reform and made unequivocally clear that his regime is only focused on retaining power to keep him unaccountable and out of court. 

Sunday, 14 July 2019


From one of our favourite weekly features, Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links, we are invited to ruminate over the fact that while most countries are named after one of four things—often tautologically, especially in translation—that are sometimes not very consequential to present geopolitics, there are some notable mavericks that defy or really lean into categorisation.
With nearly all countries named in deference to either a cardinal direction, a distinguishing geographical feature, a tribe or clan or an important personage, we’d wish that the campaign to make America great again was an effort to improve scholarship on the Latinised name of a fifteenth century Florentine cartographer from the Vespucci family but alas and alack.  There are nonetheless some notable (and notably disputed too) outliers as well. Our favouites being Malta named for bees (ฮœฮตฮปฮฏฯ„ฮท, honey-sweet), Mexico after a simplification of an Aztec city (Mฤ“xihtli) that meant in the navel of the Moon and the Pacific island nation of Nauru, possibly derived from the native conjugation anรกoero, I go to the beach.