Wednesday, 28 August 2019

msaxl

Viennese artist and educator, born on this day in 1885 (†1942, murdered at the Treblinka death camp) produced some of the iconic posters used in the original push for women’s suffrage (and revived when society goes retrograde). Still under copyright during the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1970s (entering public domain in 2013), her work was often used without attribution—her signature MSAXL cut out and leading to her not being remembered as she should have been.

Monday, 26 August 2019

a proper miniature car

On this day in 1959, the British Motor Corporation (BMC) launched its iconic, signature Mini, conceived by Greco-British automotive designer Sir Alec Issigonis (*1906 – †1988), commissioned to produce a domestic “proper miniature car” in response to the import of German and Italian bubble cars.
Aggressively marketed with celebrity-endorsement and some two-thousand exemplars exported to a hundred countries to coincide with the premiere of the Mark I—meant to satisfy demand for a stylish car responsive to the need for fuel economy set off by the Suez Crisis a few years earlier, the original model and later iterations acquired dozens of monikers and pet names including the Morris Mini Minor, the Wolsesey Hornet, the Riley Elf, the Innocenti Mini and the Austin Panther.

le chameau

On this day in 1969, coincidently on the same day as the shipwreck of the French naval vessel The Camel occurred two hundred forty-four years before in passage from La Rochelle to the colony of New France in North America, the high court of Canada awarded the recovered cache of gold and silver coins to the wreck’s finders, a trio of treasure-hunters, after being tied up in litigation for years regarding the venture partnership’s liabilities to one another. The specie (then valued at seven hundred thousand Canadian dollars was meant to pay workers and the ship’s manifest of some three-hundred passengers included the replacement Intendant, governor-general, for Nouvelle-France. Some of the coins and the rest of the maritime artefacts are on display at a museum in Halifax.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

follow the fellow who follows a dream

As with all enduring productions of Old Hollywood, the Victor Fleming’s The Wizard of Oz (there had been previously two earlier adaptations of L Frank Baum’s children’s fantasy, first as a silent film and then as a Canadian animated feature), which was first released nationwide (having debuted in Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood ten days before) on this day in 1939, there has been exhaustive studies made of the Technicolor fantasy musical but it’s nonetheless worth reflecting on a cultural icon and the fullness of its lore and legacy. I’ll admit that I didn’t quite get the Kansas scenes probably quite as well as I ought to have at first—I think not quite making that connection that most of the characters, including the farm hands also appeared in Oz but that it was quite revelatory once I did realise it. I did not know, however, that Dorothy’s touching line to Scarecrow—“I think I’ll miss you most of all”—was a artefact of a concluding scene that was later cut.
Never filmed unlike the other rejected sequence “The Jitterbug” where Dorothy enters a song competition to convince an otherwise philistine princess that classical music isn’t the only form of expression to appeal to young adult audiences, there was to be a bit of a coda of resolution back in Kansas after the farmstead is rebuilt and they’ve recovered from the tornado damage, the farm hand Hunk (Ray Bolger, also playing the Scarecrow though originally cast as the Tinwoods Man) would take his leave for agricultural college but not before extracting a promise from Dorothy that she would write, implying a budding romance. Good for Hunk (his alter ego already declared the wisest in Oz, and was so all along) for pursuing higher education and not be overly particularly about vo-tech. Perhaps that was too adult and not in keeping with the rest of the story. What are some of your memories or misconceptions about the iconic film? We’d like to hear them.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

apotropaic magic

An excavation in Pompeii, a Roman city along with Herculaneum frozen in time on 24 August in year 79 AD when with the violent eruption of Mount Vesuvius it became buried under tonnes of pumice and hot ashfall, has uncovered a trove of charms and amulets believed to have been the repertoire, arsenal of a sorceress and also serves as a repository of very intimate personal items that fleeing residents might leave in the custody of the sorceress for safekeeping and retrieval upon return.
Each of the items collected in a wooden box that had all but decayed away represents not only its peculiar wish-fulfilment but by extension narratives too intriguing not to limn complete, not to mention what each talisman and totem might signify or hold power over. Included among the evil-eyes (the virtue of keeping away like with like), phalluses, skulls and scarabs were figures of Harpocrates—a Greek syncretisation of the Egyptian Child Horus who represented the new dawn and hope to conquer the day, who matured to adult form by twilight and represented the resilience to come back again as well as discretion and confidence-keeping.

Friday, 23 August 2019

Δ9

The local farmers have really done an outstanding job with creating refuges for bees and other pollinators, going above and beyond the usual fallow fields of crop rotation and cultivating verges of sunflowers and wild flowers—re-wilded to include anything that will take root among which somewhat incongruously is industry-grade hemp. I am told on good authority that because they’re male plants, they would not elicit the most enjoyable experience, though they make a novel sight to behold nonetheless.

magnum opus

Via the always captivating Miss Cellania, we are treated to a bit of chamber music from Grant Woolard’s latest edition of his Classical Music Mashup—which is a nice ensemble of melodic transitions that takes us on a tour of the great composers in a collection of seventy familiar musical vignettes. Find other iterations of Woolard’s work at the link above.

pizolgletscher

Following a recent memorial service for a departed glacier in Iceland, a Swiss environmental group in the canton of Sankt Gallen is planning on holding a similar funeral for the small cirque glacier (formed in a bowl-shaped mountain depression) at the foot of the Pizol.
Effectively dead with no longer the ability, albeit at a geologically slow pace, to impact the landscape as it crosses the range and is now regarded as a patch of dirty ice and a massively popular hiking trail through five alpine lakes and moraines is much diminished by the loss of one of its attractions. Learn how you can pay your respects and stop further glacial melting away at the link above.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

tro breizh

Though the historic tour, the pilgrimage to the shrines of the region’s seven founder saints, might be too ambitious for a few days’ vacation—a grand undertaking with a circuit covering Quimper, Vannes, Dol-de-Bretagne, Saint-Malo, Saint-Brieuc, Tréguier and Saint-Pol-de-Léon—we’ll nonetheless have at least a few of those stops on our itinerary as we at PfRC take a much needed sabbatical in Brittany. Stay tuned for further adventures coming soon. Kenavo ha beaj vat!


Wednesday, 21 August 2019

a spacex odyssey

Via the Awesomer, Deep Fake artist called ctrl shift face has morphed the visage of entrepreneur Elon Musk onto actor Keir Atwood Dullea playing astronaut David Bowman in this four-minute clip as he confronts the HAL 9000 regarding egress for some pod bay doors. It’s not quite seamless yet and I think we like to grasp onto those glitches as hard as we can but impressive and disturbing, nonetheless with the potentials for the technique clearly illustrated—check out more canny shorts of face-swapping at the links above.

7x7

because internet: a study into how online culture is shaping language

nuuk nuuk: Trump cancels Denmark state reception over Greenland snub

conflagration: São Paulo experiences a daytime blackout as smoke from the burning Amazon rolls in

404 - not found: an abandoned Chinese nuclear model city in the Gobi

jurassic park: undisclosed paleontology site in Nevada will take centuries to sift through—via Kottke’s Quick Links

the vindicator is my only friend: another veteran newspaper shuts down in a reeling blow to social justice

dieu et humanitie: the unexpected gospel of Victor Hugo

fall into the gap

Originally operating as an outlet Levi-Strauss blue jeans, pioneering the wall of denim concept since no retailer had heretofore been able to successful stock popular pants sizes and styles (carrying them all), selling those exclusively along with a selection of record albums and cassette tapes, the first store of the clothing chain The Gap was opened by Donald George and Doris Feigenbaum Fisher on Ocean Avenue in San Francisco on this day in 1969. Due to the limited selection it was originally going to be called Pants and Discs, but the savvy business woman, philanthropist and art collector Fisher suggested that they would reach across the generation gap, appealing to the younger and older demographic.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

escalator to nowhere

Having gleaned no lessons learned from other municipalities like Berlin and Barcelona—not to mention the panoply of remorseful cities in the US—who count their decision to open up their thoroughfares among their biggest miscalculations, this week Wiesbaden allowed the installation of e-scooter stations that one can rent via a smartphone platform and abandon anywhere.  It’s not so much the question of liability and the potential for bodily harm to the operator and cross-traffic that bothers me so much but rather the gimmickry of it all, the luring away of people content to walk and take mass-transit otherwise and the greenwashing that belies the considerable infrastructure and how very smart people are lapping it up. “Well sir, there’s nothing on Earth like a genuine, bonafide, electrified six-car monorail. What’d I say?” That’s one way I suppose to get your town on the map.

on the other hand

Permanently exhibited perched atop a Christchurch gallery, Ronnie van Hout’s colossal sculpture Quasi will now dominate the skyline of Wellington, New Zealand for the next three years from the rooftop of the capital’s civic centre, an Art Deco building that was formerly a library.
A reference to Quasimodo the Bellringer, the disembodied hand (see also) has a face that is a toned-down self-portrait, the installation for some has a menacing, vaguely Lovecraftian, body-horror quality to it and it remains unclear whether it becomes re-animated after night falls, and for others the sculpture is endearing (like the loathsome hero that’s its namesake) and a source of civic pride.

kind of blue

Released this week in 1959, Miles Davis’ studio album counts amongst not only the most iconic and influential jazz sessions of all time but the certified quadruple platinum selling record ranks as one of the most important contributions and collaborations of any genre.  Not that the trappings of superlatives and analysis are needed intermediaries we did enjoy listening through the lens of this appreciation from Open Culture that explores the modalities of the sextet‘s performance. We were also pleasantly reminded, via Kottke’s Quick Links, of the chip-tuned tribute from Andy Baio, Kind of Bloop.

Monday, 19 August 2019

paneuropäisches picknick

Held on this day in 1989 the peace protest known as the Pan-European Picnic in the border town of Šopron (formerly Ödenburg), Hungary on the Austria border sponsored in part by the former Archduke of both nations is considered by many to be the final death-rattle of Communism, presaging what was to follow in Central Europe, signalling the end of accommodation for protracted situations like Romanian refugee camps in Hungary or the East German encampment at the Prague embassy. Borders were eliminated for a space of three hours during the exchange and many took advantage of this window, with border guards given orders not to interfere. Presently, few signs remain of the walls that separated east from west.

yellowhammer or backwards-planning

Though the existence of no-deal contingency plans have been suspected since April and cabinet officials are trying to downplay their significance—excusing them as an outdated draft, the recent leak (that they’d characterise as sabotage) of reports contain rather dire predictions that are really revealing and revolutionary should a fraction of them come to pass as forecasted in the event of such a departure for the UK from the European Union.
The report identifies bottle-necks and supply-chain disruption to food and medical supplies and a meltdown of logistics. Military forces (a complimentary programme called Operation Redfold to be operated out of the prosaically named Pindar citadel and bunker, so named after the poet‘s house was the only structure spared destruction after Alexander the Great had the city of Thebes razed, owing to his verses that sang the virtues of king’s dynasty) are on standby to assist civilian authorities in quelling anticipated protests and uprisings.  Potential (leaning towards inevitable) fuel scarcity is particularly pernicious for the cascading effects it will have on the overall economy.  

Sunday, 18 August 2019

croatoan

I can vaguely recall learning about the birth of Virginia Dare, born on this day in the ill-fated Roanoke Colony of the Carolinas, in history class—but fortunately was spared the cult-like symbolism attached to the first English settler born on the North America continent in the weirdly off-putting mythology that the USA defends as foundational—and permissive of its civilising settler self-portrayal. In the ensuing four hundred years, the birth and speculative fate of this toddler has been evoked—especially virulently from the 1920s onward, by groups arguing against universal suffrage, proponents for segregation and strict limitations on immigration and white nationalism.
Coincidentally (perhaps a device of the same myth-building), Dare’s grandfather who set off to England on a supply-run in winter of that same year was delayed until 1590 due to the Anglo-Spanish War and discovered an abandoned but undamaged settlement, returning on Dare’s third birthday. There was no sign of struggle with only the title inscription appearing on the column of the colony’s fort with “Cro” carved in a nearby tree. Nor did I realise that the desire to reframe and resolve the mystery in a favourable, flattering way was so strong that an elaborate hoax was conducted in the late 1930s with forged artefacts—so called Dare Stones—recovered that supposedly continued the saga, savages responsible for most of the colonists’ deaths and through a convoluted tale (the English likely assimilated with the indigenous population), requited vengeance. Researchers from the Smithsonian initially believed that the stones were authentic records. Though later recanted and shown to be fakes (see also here and here), some wearingly still cling to the original finding.

visual circuity

The ever interesting BLDGBlog introduces us to the concept from Mark Changizi that supposes a sort of visual vernacular of optical illusions that could be presented and preserved as architectural elements or useful grebbling ornaments to cue viewers to perform a computation—a reminder, encoded instructions or a formula that easier to convey and intuit by sight rather than through words.
Façades, as light and shadow pass over them throughout the day, become engaging and transformative as logical operators—though I suppose could be programmed for propaganda as well. The notion that mathematics can be reified and intuitive recalls both the cymatic diagrams of Friedrich Chladni and the visual proofs of the Pythagorean theorem or quadratic equation.

immense reddit.com/r/rmalelivingspace energy

Via the always engaging Boing Boing, we are updated on the property scouting of Kate Wagner who brings her signature McMansion take-down (previously) to the gated-communities of Campbell County, Wyoming edition.  These horrendous, rambling homes on the range are ripe for criticism and full of special architectural features and elements like divorce-lawyer foyer. Visit and subscribe for regular real estate round-ups from all fifty states (not that America has the exclusive monopoly) of the union.

ordinal numbers or naming-convention

Previously we have explored the diplomacy of protest in reflagging the names of streets (odonyms, a thoroughfare’s given name) that foreign embassies and consulates reside on, so correspondents might have to acknowledge their hypocrisies in addressing their directive or that officials might have to contemplate some unflattering signage on their way to and from the compound.
As good and provocative as some of those examples above are, they would have a hard time rivalling the current proposal to rename the portion of Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan that hosts the multi-use, doubly-mortgaged skyscraper that Trump used undocumented immigrants to construct (then refused to pay them) after Barack H Obama. Enough compelling signatures might mandate the change.

holy mackerel

Though I am sure our friend Lew Zealand would gladly help spawning fish to navigate man-made obstacles that block their migratory routes, we also appreciated this artificial-intelligence aided system that creates a portal to help fish mount dams blocking rivers by gently launching them through a pneumatic tube up and over the top. Dams harvest hydropower—a sustainable and reliable energy source, but such interventions often clash with the environment and creatures that share these waters, but systems like the ones being developed, in tandem with fish-ladders and existing ways to shuttle, can help lessen the impact. Read more about the Whooshh Passage Portal at Dezeen at the link above.

Saturday, 17 August 2019

lyman-alpha forest

Via the New Shelton Wet/Dry, we are introduced to an interesting hypothesis that might account for some of the mysterious nature of dark matter and dark energy (previously here, here and here) by placing its existence in the Cosmos prior to the Big Bang, the rapid expansion of the Universe from a dimensionless point understood to be the genesis of at least all baryonic matter and luminous energy.
If dark matter structures were present as phantom underpinnings—unassailable yet not without some pull—it could explain the distribution of galaxies, perhaps some of the universal constants, the imbalance between matter and anti-matter plus its conspicuous lack of directly detectable evidence as a remnant of the Big Bang (evidenced only in possibly the Higgs’ boson), in the same sense as microwave background radiation. What do you think? What does it mean that the familiar Universe might have had something to grow into?  A rarity in the domain of theoretical physics (except when it’s not), there may be observations that could confirm or deny this speculation.

6x6

back to school: an assortment of usual college campus landmarks not to miss

exosuit: engineering shorts to amplify power for walking and running

meanwhile, back at the agora: an animated short about Hyptia, the last known chief librarian of Alexandria’s repository of human scholarship, murdered by a mob of suspicious Christian monks

architektura sakralna: Poland experienced a post-war church building boom

jordfästning: from the delightfully macabre Art of Darkness, Swedish funeral candies  

mecspiquer: reflecting on a quarter of a century since the passage of the legislation to protect the French language  

Friday, 16 August 2019

relaciones geográficas

In order to have a better insight into the distant and vast domain that his conquistadors took by force, King Felipe II of Spain, Portugal, Naples and the Two Sicilies commissioned bureaucrats in the 1580s to produce a land survey through a fifty topic questionnaire to solicit descriptions of cities and settlements from the indigenous population.
Their responses came in the form of detailed manuscripts that told the history of their home towns and assigned by one question to visually describe their municipality, those polled answered with these fantastic maps and charts that captured geographical details as well as natural resources. Much more to explore with the intrepid adventurers at Atlas Obscura at the link above.

1619

Via the inestimable Nag on the Lake, we are introduced to an interactive project from the New York Times that reaches back to August of the year 1619 to Point Comfort where the first Africans (from Angola) disembarked in the colony of Virginia in order to raze and reframe America’s founding myth and help understand, through the contributions of many journalist, that the country’s origin and counter-narrative are firmly rooted in and determined by enslaved labour.
All of America’s the societal dilemmas and asymmetries are profoundly and deeply informed by this awful legacy and disingenuous reform that still leaves many marginalised and seeks to preserve the privilege of others at any price, from mass incarceration, sugar over-consumption to the US’s broken healthcare system. We would like to think humanity, like many compatriots, as a whole has moved beyond such petty squabbles over skin colour and heritage but obviously that’s not the case and it’s very difficult to find solutions to improve problems that one does not think exists. The consequences and contributions of enslavement defines the character of the nation and coming to terms with the council of the past however estranged empowers one to affect real change for individuals and institutions.

2.0

The always engaging Kottke directs our attention to an online museum that documents and curates various social media and productivity platforms, operating systems and video games from their earliest forms (see also) until the present. Much more to explore and reminisce over at the links above.

seward’s folly

Though not a wholly original idea as most of the nihilistic non-policies of this government-by-disaster of the Trump regime are, via Boing Boing, reportedly the failed real estate magnate is interested in acquiring Greenland to exploit it for its natural resources and strategic location. With the catastrophic climate change which Trump does not believe in already arrived, the world’s largest island could be a rather shrewd investment. The Kingdom of Denmark has not yet responded to the proposal, nor Greenland’s fifty-six thousand residents.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

cathedral-thinking

Declared complete a day earlier but six hundred thirty-two years later (though the project in terms of maintenance is unending) the cornerstone of the Cologne Cathedral was laid on this day in 1248 by Archbishop Konrad von Hochstaden, medieval planners envisioning a place of worship for the Holy Roman Emperor and a pilgrimage destination housing the relics of the Magi, which Barbarossa had plundered from Milan, though since repatriated though the golden reliquaries remain. Inspired by the Gothic cathedral of Amiens and sustained across generations, Kölner Dom was the tallest man-made structure in the world upon completion in 1880 for four years until the Washington Monument was finished, rising just a few meters above though certainly not surpassing in stature.

jewel voice broadcast

At noon on this day in 1945 radio stations in Japan played a phonographic recording of the Showa Emperor reading out the Imperial Rescript on the Termination of the Greater East Asian War, effectively announcing Japan’s surrender under the terms of the Potsdam Declaration.  Recorded at the royal palace the day before, some members of the military thought Hirohito’s capitulation was dishonourable and one thousand soldiers and officers raided the compound to seize and destroy the record. The recording was hidden and later smuggled out with the laundry and eventually made it to a radio station.  Suboptimal sound quality and the formal, courtly language of the Emperor (hearing one revered as a deity, akitsumikami, for the first time) made the message confusing for the public and was clarified afterwards by a radio announcer.

wonderful.successes.devoured

We very much enjoyed reading this follow-up story on the mapping tool that redresses some of the shortfalls of addresses and directions. what3words (previously) parcels the world into fifty-seven trillion three-by-three meter squares and uses a vocabulary of forty thousand random but memorable word combinations to identify exact coordinates, and search-and-rescue authorities urge people to have the tool at their disposal in case they get lost, on land or sea. There have been several lives saved using this programme.

blogoversary

As the blog birthday of beginning this project rolls around once again, we wanted to pause to express our gratitude for your unflagging interest and for your continuing visits—hoping that we’ve provided just a little bit of insight, hope and motivation for our readership. Since last year, our most popular entries have been:

10: The discovery of the Nebra Skydisc

9: Soviet-era bootleg recordings

8: The cartographic creations of Daniel Huffman

7: A very German penchant for abbreviation

6: A reflection on cosmic time-scales

5: Misinformation nominated as word of the year

4: The launch of Luna 1

3: Alien shorts

2: A lampooning of America’s state flags

1: Twitter for social justice

hushpuppies

By coincidence, respectively on this day in Tennessee (near the Opryland theme park) in 1969 and then three days later in Kentucky—neither places one would necessarily associate with fresh fish—the first eateries of the seafood themed restaurants Captain D’s and Long John Silver’s began serving.
It’s cannon given the fact that the restaurant is named after the galley-master and chief cook—and undercover pirate—aboard the Hispaniola in Treasure Island. I have no memory of the former—maybe there was a turf battle between these natural rivals—but do remember going to the latter not overly often but pretty regularly as a kid and remember the fishing village kitsch with the planks and the heavy ropes and associated all wooden decks with piers and ships because of it.

an aquarian exposition

On this day fifty years ago, the dairy farm of Max Yasgur became the venue for thirty-two musical acts, officials in the village of Woodstock some seventy kilometres away banishing the concert for failing to past zoning regulations and building code in July. Designated as a for-profit venture with tickets priced aligned with how contemporary outdoor events are priced, the concert became free—the first two hundred thousand or so in advanced sales were sold-out, once a couple hundred of thousand more showed up for the festival than organisers could handle. Among the artists invited to participate that did not attend because of scheduling conflicts or previous engagements included Bob Dylan, James Taylor, the Beatles, Chicago, Simon & Garfunkel, Led Zepplin and the Rolling Stones.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

toppop

A debt of gratitude is owed to Dangerous Minds for acquainting us with the Dutch answer to the UK chart show Top of the Pops—in some ways even exceeding the format’s original imperator in terms of variety and taking the programme to the artists.
During its run from 1970 to 1988, nearly every musical act were sure to include TopPop on their European circuit and the venue also boosted the domestic scene, giving rise to a genre called Nederpop.  Production often included making music videos, which were of surpassingly good quality and sometimes were appropriated by the performing artist—a notable example being Nena’s 99 Luftballons where she is trekking through a bleak lumberyard near Hilverslum in north Holland was used as footage for the official video. Much of the show’s archive is available online for your viewing and listening pleasure.  More to explore at the links above.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

SENĆOŦEN

The orthography of the First Nations Saanich people from British Colombia and Washington state employs (with the exception of ‘s’ which acts like an apostrophe) only uppercase letters, making it one of the unicameral alphabets, like Hangul, Arabic, Georgian and Tamil, something rare for a Latin-based script though all languages start out with just a single case. The International Phonetic Alphabet uses only lower case Latin and Greek letters, so a second example, though not a genuine writing system but rather something epiphenomenal. Created by linguist Dave Elliott in 1978 to conform to the sound and grammar of the language, it saw a resurgence and renewed interest around 2011 when its unfamiliar characters (Ⱥ and Ⱦ) received their own Unicode range and a texting programme was developed.

wedged wonders

We really enjoyed reviewing this alluring photo-session from Docubyte (the moniker of James Ball) who captured the aura of the golden age of Italian avant-garde automotive design in the collections of the carrozzeria of Turin, Milan and Marese.  Many of the profile vehicles were never put into mass-production, like this angular Ferrari 512 Modulo by Paolo Martin that debuted at the 1970 World Expo in Osaka, and represent one-of-a-kind experimentation.

hinomaru

After affirmation in both houses of the Diet a few days prior, Japan’s Act on National Flag and Anthem became enforceable and binding on this day in 1999. Having unofficially represented the kingdom and empire since the late 1800s, the flag—known commonly as the hinomaru (日の丸, circle of the sun) and national hymn, Kimigayo (君が代, His Majesty’s Reign) —both severely restricted after World War II under American occupation though later relaxed, were accorded legal status as symbols not without controversy, as many felt that they harkened back to the country’s militaristic past. Proponents of the bill’s ratification, whom ultimately prevailed, argued that the symbols would be restorative and a source of cultural pride.

Monday, 12 August 2019

tro breizh

Unlikely as we are to encounter any of the Breton language on our upcoming trip to Brittany (Breizh, Bretagne) peninsula, like during past excursions (nearly on our Blogoversary and subject of the first post, no less), it’s no less fun to brush up on it—just in case.
France’s policy on minority languages has been less willing to embrace reform than its neighbours—originally translating regional stereotypes (like the English term barbarian, the French verb baragoiner, to yammer away in a foreign tongue, is souced to brezhoneg bread and wine—bara ha gwin) to suppression with the Revolution with the belief it was a tool of the aristocracy to keep the rural classes uninformed and disengaged, perpetuated by 1994 legislation called Loi Toubon, named for the culture minister who sponsored it. Called the Allgood Law in jest (the literal meaning of the name), it was meant to protect the French language form the encroaching hegemony of English but also restricts state support for Breton and other endangered languages. 
Nonetheless the language does have its champions and is slowly coming into view for natives and tourists alike.  The flag, Gwenn-ha-du—the Black and White—referencing the ancient coat-of-arms of ermine with design inspiration from the US Stars and Stripes, was created in 1923 by architect and separatist Morvan Marchal.  Marchal pledged that the symbol would “gather those of our compatriots who do not want to confuse Brittany with the Church; Brittany with reaction; Brittany with puerile anti-French bias; Brittany with capitalism; and even less with racism” to make a stand against other proponents for regional autonomy whom later the Nazis would leverage the most extreme as a recruiting base for agitators and collaborators whose courtship was dropped the moment that they had served their purpose. 

Sunday, 11 August 2019

mnemosynum

A finding amongst a huge cache of artefacts uncovered during a construction project and on display more of less in situ at the Mithræum space (see also) of London, as the always brilliant Miss Cellania informs, suggest that proverbial lousy tee-shirt souvenir of today was present two millennia ago. Researchers have translated the inscription on an iron stylus used to make markings in wax-coated tablets as a sentiment to the effect for its recipient, “I went all the way to Rome, and all I got you was this pen.”

orbis terrarum

Always worth the visit for some artistic intervention, Hyperallergic directs our attention to a stunning atlas of greed and empire charted out by accomplished gazetteer Dan Mills. His paradoxically brilliant representations of rather bleak facts and figures on the displaced, over-burdened and contested really makes one face the uncomfortable topology that human ambition creates. We found especially poignant this familiar scramble for Antarctica whose claimants’ boundaries radiating out from the South Pole are constantly shifting (see also) not because of politics and sovereignty disputes but purely over melting ice. Much more to explore at the link up top.

clair obscur

Passing away this day in 1253 after enduring a long bout of illness that left her bedridden, Chiara Offreduccio of Assisi, inspired by the example of Saint Francis went on to found the Order of the Poor Clares, is honoured with a Feast Day. Centuries later, the media savvy Pope Pius XII the year after the publication of his 1957 encyclical Miranda Prorsus on motion pictures, radio and the media, declared that television be added to her patronage (goldsmithy, laundry-quartermasters, pleasant weather), expanding on one anecdote told of her devotion to church services and how even though confined to her room during her final days, she was still able to hear and watch the mass as it appeared on her wall.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

deutsch-deutsch grenze

Temporarily cut off from the rest of Bavaria for several weeks now due to construction on the only road leading into our village from that direction and unable to travel west or south without taking a significant detour through Thüringen, I realise and appreciate that this is hardly a hardship—especially compared to what going west via routes eastward might have meant three decades ago in a partitioned Germany.

Along the way, we’ve been passing the sculpture park and memorial erected at a former border control point which we’ve previously visited but took the time to stop and take another look, in anticipation of the approaching anniversary of the border opening and reunification.
Several artists from the once divided region has contributed pieces, including these torii, steel figures and field of banners decorated by students.
 
A few kilometres further on, I took the chance to stop at a patrol tower from an earlier age but nonetheless was a more venerable and indelible mark on the countryside, the so-called Galgenturm, a watch station meant to provide early warning via a system of stations to the local ducal rulers in the case of the advance of marauding forces.  Reinforced from an earlier wooden structure in the fifteenth century, it was named in reference to the former gallows, last used for executions in the mid-seventeenth century, the twelve metre high tower provides a commanding view of the countryside and one could imagine the network of stations, turrets aflame, transmitting a distress-call.