Sunday, 18 August 2019


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 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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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


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


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.


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


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.

vous êtes ici

Sometimes schedules and agendas don’t allow us time to factor in getting lost, wandering a bit and then that blue pulsating dot that seems to get might bossy when you stray off the path or you can’t orientate yourself to that “You are Here” marker on an information board and things get pretty aggravating.  Fortunately for those hopeless situations, a major way-finder (one that I’ve come to be rather fond of for foot and auto navigation) has added a augmented reality, live mode to its maps where you can show it your position and the application will use that to determine your exact coordinates and provide landmarks to get you on the right bearings to your destination. Read more at the link above.

Friday, 9 August 2019

small-arms trade

Depressingly we learn that one of America’s largest purveyors of firearms who tragically lost dozens of patrons and two store managers in a spree of massacres over the past week, remaining steadfast in its retail commitment to keep guns prominently and publicly available, has pledged make one reform in the wake of all the violence.
Unhelpfully parroting Trump’s false-narrative that mental illness or manipulative journalism is behind mass-shootings, the ubiquitous chain will take measures to take down signage and displays that promote video games that model violent and aggressive behaviour—no mention of its hunting assortment. Anyone who patronises these stores is morally bankrupt.


Much like that paragon of wisdom and virtue whose reputation for sage judgment extended far beyond his kingdom yet his personal life was rather shambolic given to excess with little signs of succession-planning, we’re often better advisors for other than we are for ourselves, rarely able to follow our own dispensed advise—a phenomenon, the New Shelton Wet/Dry informs, termed Solomon’s Paradox.
Individuals are able to overcome this wilful blindness and bias through reason (not that it is an easy matter, nor that his solution to a custody dispute was particularly tenable), but a new virtual counselling paradigm that allows the subject to occupy two different virtual avatars, one being themselves as patient, and the other being Sigmund Freud, that encourages self-dialogue and a healthy distance might be not a short-cut but rather a segue that may provide helpful therapy for in some cases. Read more about this self-conversation experiment and how it was scripted and gauged at the link above.

well i’m not a crook—i’ve earned everything i’ve got

On this day in 1974, Richard Nixon (previously), embroiled by the Watergate scandal and having lost collegial confidence and faced with impeachment and removal, tendered his resignation as president of the United States of America, asking the nation to support his successor, vice president Gerald Ford. Defending his record with a preamble from Theodore Roosevelt’s 1910 address to the Sorbonne about grit and the “Man in the Arena” who perseveres before listing his accomplishments in office:

Sometimes I have succeeded and sometimes I have failed, but always I have taken heart from what Theodore Roosevelt once said about the man in the arena, “whose face is marred btydust and sweat and blood, who stives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again because there is not effort without error and shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deed, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knowns in the end the triumphs of high achievements and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

Though not wholly decontextualised nor lost on his audience, there was a notable lack of candour, contrition or admission of wrong-doing with Nixon’s having quoted the same passage for his inaugural speech and Roosevelt’s originally included a rebuke of those critical players on the sidelines instead of in the arena.

histoire de perles

Via the always engaging Æon Magazine, we are subjected to the rhythmic and beautifully brutal stop-motion animation from filmmaker Ishu Patel, illustrating the cycles of evolution and competition with glass beads—inspired by the handiwork of the Inuit. This 1977 acclaimed short starts from a single cell and concludes with humanity in all its dreadful excellence with a stark warning against a nuclear arms-race.

Bead Game from National Film Board of Canada on Vimeo.

Thursday, 8 August 2019

and lo, the nation said, “how dare you even say that?”

McSweeney’s contributor Chas Gillespie channels some tough love from God for the country that can’t seem to help itself. Do read the full response and share, but I especially found this passage highly resonant and the moment of honest introspection that America needs to take.

You have prayed for answers, and I have given you answers. You have prayed for guidance, and you have ignored it. So why are you still praying? Is it perhaps because you don’t care about actual holiness and just want to show your low-information followers that you are a religious person even though the particular brand of your religion is based on misleading people by stoking their vanity and replacing patriotic duty with blinkered nationalistic hero-worship?

zebra crossing

On this day in 1969, photographer Iain Macmillan staged the iconic image that would be used as the album cover for the Beatles Abbey Road, captured outside their recording studio.
Released in September of the same year, the picture fueled elaborate but false narrative that Paul McCartney had died and was replaced with an imposter (a conspiracy instigated by MI5 to shelter the public from trauma), and that the “funeral procession” was a sort of confession with McCartney barefoot and walking out of step with the other band members and holding a cigarette (often airbrushed out) in his right hand—whereas any fan would know him to be left-handed. Furthermore, the number plate of the white Volkswagen Beetle in the background behind George Harrison has the characters 28IF—supposedly representing McCartney’s age if he had lived.  The rumour is a persistent and perennial one.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019


Counted in the manifest in what aimed to be the first private space probe to land on the Moon among other cargo including a veritable Noah’s Ark the sum of human knowledge on a medium to last a billion year, Super Punch informs, the Beresheet mission was also carrying a sizable compliment of hardy tardigrade passengers.
When the craft crashed upon landing, it spilled out the water bears famously resilient for being able to withstand extreme and punishing environments, including the vacuum of space. While we cannot say whether this accident has transferred life to the Earth’s satellite, we learn that according to NASA’s Office of Planetary Protection this act of panspermia is not in violation of the agency’s directive meant to protect planetary environments like Mars, Europa or Ganymede that are understood to be more fecund and whose ecology might be threatened by contamination—as considered that humans have already quite befouled the lunar surface some fifty years ago.

ferrari veicoli speciali

Messy Nessy Chic directs our attention to the adorable off-road Ferves Ranger.  Introduced at the 1966 Salone dell‘Automobile di Torino, the four-wheeler (there was both a passenger and a cargo version) with an open chassis and Fiat motor notably had a left-hand drive and six hundred models were produced until the manufacturer ceased operations in 1970.

le vol

On this day in 1919, in order to redress what was perceived to be a slight during a parade on the Champs Élysées when flying aces were grounded and ordered to march on foot a month earlier, veteran and aviation instructor Charles Godefroy (*1888 - 1958) volunteered to pilot a Nieuport 27 biplane through the Arc de Triomphe.
Godefroy had his friend the reporter document the feat. Displeased with this surprise stunt that terrorised people on the streets and fearful of imitation that would put more in peril, however, authorities banned the publication of the footage—at least for the time being. Excused with a warning, Godefroy then retired from flying at his family’s insistence and ran a vineyard in a Parisian suburb.

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

invasive species

Via their excellences Nag on the Lake and TYWKIWDBI, we are reminded of how garbage we humans are and how noble our contrition can manifest itself through the adoption and caretaking of what’s labelled as endlings, the last of one’s kind—the sole remaining representative of a species reduced to this state not by honest brokers but by dint of the wantonness of our existence. Palliative perhaps but far from a lost cause, find out more about endlings and their unsurrendering custodians at the links above.


Whilst the agglutinative nature of German might be more familiar with its very, very long compound words, for which there is grammatical no upwards limit though terms would become unwieldy and unintelligible eventually, Turkish also has this feature. This construction through affixes illustrated in the passage by author Koksal Karakus in addressing education reform:

We are in a teachers’ training academy that has nefarious purposes. The teachers trained here are indoctrinated on how to make unsuccessful ones from the pupils.  So—one by one—teachers are being educated as makers of unsuccessful ones. One of those teachers, however, refuses to be maker-of-unsuccessful-ones—or in other words, to be made a maker-of-unsuccessful-ones; he is critical of the academy’s stance on their performance. The rector who thinks every teacher can be made easily into a maker-of-unsuccessful-ones is quick to anger. The rector invites the teacher into his office and confronts him, “You are talking as if you were one of those we cannot easily be made into a maker-of-unsuccessful-ones, isn’t that right?” The final form is the seventy-letter:


Though not a case of agglutination like the Turkish example or the above medieval Latin ablative form for “being in a state capable of receiving honours” appearing in Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, it nonetheless recalls the motto of Saint John’s College (pictured above), a sort of word play in Latin: I make free adults from children by means of books and balance.


Coincidentally sharing the anniversary of the 2012 landing of the Curiosity rover at the Bradbury Landing Site in the Gale crater where the object is believed to have originated, on this day in 1996, NASA issued a press release endorsing the claims of a group of researchers that claimed to have found biogenic markers on a Martian meteorite recovered in the Allan Hills region of Antartica back during a 1984 expedition.  The classification of rocky compositions, shergottite, nahklite and chassignite, all sound vaguely Lovecraftian, the Ancient Ones buried at the South Pole.  Though the claim was sensational and controversial from the beginning, inconclusive with all the unusual microscopic features and traces eventually explained without having to invoke biological causes—further promping the scientific community to require claims of such magnitude to rely on than morphological evidence (eidonomy, external anatomy, being rather famously subject to pareidolia), the research and the media attention opened a dialogue and re-engaged the public imagination at a time before we knew of the proliferation of exoplanets and helped us develop the academic discipline to frame our aspirations for more exploration.

Monday, 5 August 2019

übermorgen or it’s jam every other day

A few of the world’s languages, including one Bantu, Mwoltlap of the Vanuatuans and the passé composé of classic French of the 1600s (J’ai vu quelque chose—I did see something but I talk like that anyway) have a specific tense called hodiernal—hodie or hodierno being Latin for today, with distinct ways of addressing events taking place in the past or future in respect to the day of record.
Events referenced that take place before or after the unit of the present day are categorised as pre- or post-hodiernal. Other Bantu languages have crastinal aspect for events that take place on the subsequent day (Latin crāstinō die is tomorrow) or post-crastinal for the day after tomorrow (Übermorgen). More rarely, only reported among speakers of the Plateau family of languages in Nigeria, there is also the hesternal (hesterno die, yesterday) for actions that transpired then.  These forms would I imagine make for some interesting and exacting conjugations in popular ballads: “Today is the greatest day that I’ve known,” “Yesterday came suddenly” or “Just thinking about Tomorrow clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow.”

photo booth

Nearly spanning the whole history of photography with the first coin-op unit being installed in Hamburg in 1890, photo booths carry ethnographic and sociological currency as much as technical achievement with the popular Japanese activity known as purikura (プリクラ) being no exception.
Even before there was a chance for the ceremony to evoke a sense of nostalgia, the allure was there. The social photos (not group pictures but rather always as a avatar to be shared on social networks) offer insight on the way forms of self-expression are manifested and perpetuated—with the creation of sub-genre and sub-culture, purikura not staying within the polite and sacarrine bounds of kawaii, the cute aesthetic, with filters and post-production effects that are opposite of flattering and some assumptions and architecture of choice to be aware of.  The term comes from the English words print club.


Having first organised in 1968 as a trade association before representing the interests of members as a fully-fledged labour union and lobby, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers‘ Association was effectively disbanded on this day in 1981 when then president Ronald Reagan declared their strike, called two days prior, illegal as a “peril to national safety” and ordered the federal workforce back on the job, breaking the strike by firing over twelve-thousand employees.  Faced with a lifetime ban (later eased by degrees, relaxed first to allow them civil service jobs, just not their old positions back) on government employment and disempowered to pursue the working conditions that the industry needed, Reagan‘s firings—catching many off guard, the unions have backed his candidacy over Jimmy Carter‘s re-election over sore dealings with the Federal Aviation Administration thinking relations would improve—marking the beginning of the decline of organised labour in the US, lockouts, sickouts and strike actions having dropped precipitously over the decades.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

bouba kiki

For some time, I’ve been convinced that my blog archives are gaslighting me and usually that belief gets vilified in the end after encountering several instances with no productive records, some creative searching will finally yield the topic I could vaguely recall posting about four years and revive it with a contemporary reference—other times, though, there is a strange unresolving defeat where I still think that that had been something we blogged about before.

It seems, when a recent entry reminded me of the phenomenon and global study, that the Bouba/Kiki Effect had decamped with the latter, rather than eventually revealing itself, not that there is not also bit of self-censoring, self-promotion and obfuscation going on as well—a search void being a notoriously hard thing to find.
First observed in 1929 and then more rigourousy studied in the early 2000s, there’s a strong preference—though with notable exceptions, for people to associate the more jagged, spiky shape with the identity Kiki and the amorphous, rounder one with Bouba—also in terms of assigning roles, compliance versus determination.
Researchers suspect that the results may indicate a neural basis for sound symbolism and a correlation with early stages of perceiving, conceiving and forming a word with meaning attached, the mouth making shapes that agree in a way, suggesting consistency of cognition, with the characters. A deliberate mismatch, a spiky Bouba, generated a fairly great deal of dissonance for something with such seemingly low stakes.