Monday, 21 October 2019

ten of dowels

Via the always excellent Nag on the Lake, we are introduced to the handiwork of a creative called Hundred-Armed Sweater (that would be for the Hecatonkherires on your gift-list) through her IKEA-inspired tarot deck, recognising that the store and experience represents “a place of transition, a journey, a source of light and comfort but also strife.” The deck includes the major and four full suites of minor arcana.

Sunday, 20 October 2019


H and I had the chance to observe an interesting agricultural event when the shepherds bring the sheep and goats down from hilltop pastures to the valley in a village not far away. It was quite well attended with human spectators perhaps outnumbering the livestock being herded and driven to their winter quarters. 

Though cattle were also present, the stars of the day were the distinctive Rhön sheep (Rhönschaf) whose single flock numbered over one thousand, the breed nearly having gone extinct in the 1960s and now their numbers, with the help of a nature conservancy and the green belt across Europe that marks the former border between NATO and the Warsaw Pact have safely returned, led through a rather narrow channel thronged by a human audience—not unlike the scene in Pamplona with the Running of the Bulls.


From 1942 to 1990, Arnold Odermatt was employed as a forensics photographer for the Swiss canton of Nidwalden whose extensive portfolio documents encroaching modernity into this once isolated area, especially in traffic accidents, taking a second photograph for his own personal collection once the injured had been taken away.
Though his fascination is morbid and inscrutable as his motivation was never stated and the existence of the images were only disclosed by accident (his filmmaker son discovering the trove in a box in the attic one day and published them in a book that garnered attention in the late 1990s at the Frankfurter Buchmesse), there is, one might conjecture, a restorative property in seeing these husks of vehicles in an austere light, unmoving without drivers and passengers. Much more to explore at the link above including several galleries of Odermatt’s compositions, which includes many candid, happy scenes artfully captured as well.

anakin starkiller

In the duo’s reinterpretation of John Williams’ Imperial March as synthwave, a retrofuture emulation of and tribute to 1980s film and arcade soundtracks that’s sort of the electronic music version of the cyberpunk aesthetic, the Awesomer introduces us to the musical stylings of Litiowave, who have made quite a few covers as well as original works. As the leitmotif (see also) associated with Dark Vader—and its use to denote rivalry outside of the franchise, the symphonic theme is one of the best known among all movies.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

upward mobility

Via Weird Universe we are introduced to this rather intriguing and ingenuous business architectural feature in the June 1948 issue of Popular Science and left wanting to know more. Only a few column inches are dedicated to this structure with a corner office that moves up and down the building’s fourteen storeys (the rest of the staff used paternosters) located in Zlín but we were able to find out a bit more.
The town itself urban utopia (see also) and a manufacturing anchor of the Moravian region in large part due to the shoemaking factory founded by siblings Tomáš, Anna and Antonín Baťa in 1894, the skyscraper was build as the administrative headquarters for their successful footwear brand. The third tallest pre-war building in Europe executed in Constructivist style, it is now known as Building № 21 (Číslo 21) and cherished as a cultural monument, houses offices of the regional government. Going abroad during the World War II, the boss never had a chance to use his mobile office and there’s unconscionably no indication whether this seeming unique idea was ever tried anywhere else or why such an idea was abandoned.

super saturday

Convening on a weekend, which is not usually done as business and the markets cannot react to changes in government policy and not the Commons had not sat since the Falklands conflict, Parliament met to hopefully hash out Brexit once and for all—or not, after the prime minister secured a slap-dash deal to leaving the European Union that for some was less palatable than the terms his predecessor set forth that failed to pass on multiple occasions. Whether this arrangement will be ratified is far from clear as are the next steps, setting up a scenario for perpetual and Sisyphean debate.


Via our peripatetic friends at Strange Company, we are reacquainted with the figure of polymath and explorer Alexander von Humboldt (previously here, here and here, *1769 - †1859) through his educationally enhanced maps and charts (see also).
The naturalist’s perhaps greatest legacy as a science communicator was his ability to unleash information formerly discrete and disperse (relatedly) and compile figures and synthesise them visually, like this cross section that imparted vegetation topographically and appealed to curiosity through presentation. More to explore at the links above.

the shadow kingdom

A not-insignificant minority of Americans (and certainly some abroad as well) subscribe to the conspiracy theory that the ruling political elite and our social betters of human civilisation are undercover reptoid aliens from the Constellation Draco.
Though the basic idea of snake cults has been attendant to human narratives since we began telling stories, its present polity was to a large part informed by the short stories of Robert E Howard and his protagonist Kull the Conquerer, the Atlantean (see also)—whom was a touch more introspective than Howard’s later character Conan the Barbarian, whose diplomatic mission to the Land of the Picts, the traditional enemy of Atlantis though there was then presently a thaw in relations, led to humanity’s premature encounter with the Serpent Men, a much diminished but ancient and still powerful race. Though not further developed in Howard’s own canon of works, the race appears in the Cthulu mythos (see previously here and here) before being touted as clear and present danger with wild and loaded accusations that leaders and celebrities were lizard people plotting for total subjection of their human chattel.


Founded on this day in 1969 in a lodge on a popular hiking trail through the Swabian Jura (Schwäbische Alb), the Europäishce Wandervereinigung, the European Ramblers’ Association, la Fédération européenne de la randonnée pédestre was formed by founding members representing walkers’ clubs from West Germany, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg and Belgian.  Now headquartered in Kassel and with offices in Prague, more than fifty-eight area- and regional-organisations from thirty European states sponsor regular outings and maintain, marking and signposting a vast network of long distance hiking trails (some seventy thousand kilometres worth across an active membership of some three million individuals, see previously). The so called E-Paths are not for virtual exploration, but rather are trails that cross a minimum of three countries.

lion’s tooth

To discourage the agricultural practises that hold our environment in disdain the most—production of those staples for consumption in the West whose distribution network is so well established and seemingly seamless, that we as consumers can easily be blind to the human and ecological toll it exacts, a UK designer is developing a coffee substitute brewed from the roots of dandelions (previously here and here).
I’m a little skeptical and prepared for disappointment, inulin, the researcher’s target compound for extraction, we’re already familiar with in the form of chicory and camp coffee but the chemistry bears out and the roots do contain what’s metabolised as caffeine (my target compound) as well and would be willing to give it a try. It makes me wonder too how estranged in the first place might my beverage and its taste and aroma be already, encapsulated and shuttled through an inscrutable supply-chain estranged from the bean I associate with. The designer has additional, circular aspirations for composting the spent grains into a medium for home mushroom cultivation.

check digit

Whereas the title refers to a form of error detection, quality control through redundancy—the integrity of a numbering convention validated by a formulaic self-consistency, we were pleased to be elucidated in the origin of typeface E-13B, whose repertoire of characters, developed by Stanford Laboratories and General Electric in the late 1950s as a way to automate cheque-clearing, was the expression of a system developed for magnetic ink character recognition (MICR, a precursor to optical character recognition though in theory predating this earlier iteration that the technology was already acclimatized for).
E being the fifth font considered, B for the Beta-version, thirteen represented the size of the grid (see also, CMC-7 is the name for the parallel system utilised in parts of Europe and South America) for numerals and control characters: ⑆ transit, ⑈ on-us, ⑇ amount and ⑉ as a dash to break up long strings of numbers for human legibility. By measuring the resistance or conductivity at predetermined positions across the footer of the cheque, accuracy improved over other scanning techniques and human transcription. Little human intervention is needed, accounting for a fraction of a percent given the volume, though redundancies are still built in that requires a double-check and self-assessment.

Friday, 18 October 2019


The Holy See, as Dezeen informs, is distributing a smart psalter as a wearable accessory that tracks the user’s worship and allow one to monitor the progress of each prayer—the act of reciting it, we presume rather than the missive’s to God’s ears, and synchronises with other mobile gadgets to post one’s devotion to social media.

The haptic interface is activated by making the sign of the cross or genuflexing and the price of the string of beads is the suggested donation of ninety-nine euro. What do you think about this? Uggh—I always felt that the nicest thing about praying was that one’s intercession wasn’t for public inspection, though the Pope has a very healthy and enthusiastic attitude towards technology and the internet so what do I know?  As a bonus feature, the eRosary which charges contactlessly and comes neatly packaged in a Bible, also tracks the wearer’s physical activity and counts one’s steps.

anapestic meter

Scholar Emily Nekyia Wilson’s modern translation The Odyssey has not only introduced the Homeric epics to a wider-audience, she is now, as Kottke informs, rather delightfully engaging readers to recount characters and episodes in limerick form in a lively and long thread.
One passage nicely summarises the short, tragic story of Odysseus’ youngest comrade, who managed to survive the Trojan War and accompanied the crew on the journey home to Ithaca as far as Aeaea, the Island of Circe (see previously), only to get quite intoxicated and fancied it a good idea to sleep it off on the palace’s roof.

Elpenor, poor idiot, got drunk,
and was sleeping up high in a bunk;
he fell out of bed,
went smack on his head,
and his hopes to get home went kerplunk.

Much more to explore at the links above.

a particularly american epidemic

From Nag on the Lake, in this short, filmmaker Patrick Smith assiduously cycles (see also) through two-thousand three hundred twenty-eight exemplars of firearms as representatives of the some three-hundred ninety-three million presently in the United States of America, equaling a gun and a bit more per everyone living in that country, including children and nearly half of the guns owned by civilians in the world.

greta grotesk regular

Inspired by her now iconic signature hand-lettered protest placards, an up and coming foundry, we learn via Kottke, has issued a free typeface based on the script of climate champion Greta Thunberg (previously), suitable for making one’s own posters. In typography, a grotesque refers to the family of serif fonts with irregular qualities that were particularly favoured by sign-painters for their ability to stand out.

friedliche revolution

Beginning with securing the right to hold regional open elections—with opposition candidates competing against the state party in May of 1989 and the later assemblies referred to as Montagsdemos ahead of celebrations of the country’s fortieth anniversary jubilee amid heavy crackdowns on people attempting to flee the regime, the Peaceful Revolution of East Germany showed itself as unstoppable force on 18 October 1989 when deputy and chairman of the State Council Egon Krenz, heeding the people’s will, conspired with other like-minded members of the Politbüro (with the blessings of the Soviet Union) to oppose and overthrow the long-running leadership of Erich Honecker.
It is always difficult to discern decisive moments but it seems that before this coup, the revolt could have failed.  Staunchly opposed to any reforms and the talk of glasnost and in power since 1971 (his wife Margot being the Minister of National Education all that time as well), the Chairman believed that the only way for Communism to survive the scourges of the West was to take a hard line approach, like Cuba and North Korea and was granted sanctuary in Moscow—at least until protector Mikhail Gorbachev ceded powers to Boris Yeltsin on Christmas Day in 1991. Wanting to be rid of this political liability and stateless person, Yeltsin remitted Honecker to a now united Germany—Krenz helping to oversee the transition—to stand trial. Terminally ill, the court threw the case out (not without massive protests) and eventually allowed Honecker to resettle and join his family in Santiago, Chile.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

if you’re not at the table, then you’re on the menu

First exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum as a temporary installation on this day in 1980 before its 2007 return as a permanent acquisition, The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago is esteemed as the first modern, epic feminist artwork, depicting a symbolic history through elaborate and personalised placesettings around a triangular table for thirty-nine legendary and historical female figures.
Each wing accommodates thirteen banquette guests with different epochs of civilization dining together, including Boadicea, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hildegarde of Bingen and Mary Wollstonecraft. The table itself rests on a dais called the Heritage Floor composed of floor tiling inscribed with nine-hundred ninety-nine names of woman whom contributed towards the advancement of equal rights with one man made an honourary member, misgendered by oversight, the classical Greek sculptor Kresilas. The fact that that footnote outshines all the other names shows that there’s quite some distance left to cover to earn a place at the table.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

really simple syndication

A contributing author, Jamie Zawinski, refers us to a collection of nominations from scientists, historians, programmers and journalists for the most consequential pieces of code, which affects and informs society as much as any custom, convention or creation, though more aloof by design with few able to incant such spells.  
Though not exhaustive, the list and associated stories are pretty comprehensive and cover the classic milestones (often taken for granted) starting with the invention of the programmable loom in the early eighteenth century to JPEGs, GeoCities, RSS feeds, wikis and a whole host of viruses. One rather elegant vector we’re introduced to is the recursive single line of code (pictured) that is called a fork bomb or a wabbit for its prolific nature. This string of instruction (these are not the magic words, please don’t type them) launches a denial-of-service attack by repeating itself until all system resources have been taken up.

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

roughly the kinetic energy of a well-pitched baseball

In operation from 1986 to 1993, the Fly’s Eye ultra-high-energy cosmic ray observatory in the desert of western Utah detected on this day in 1991 a particle whose excited state was off-the-charts with nothing remotely close ever seen again (see also), though similar subsequent events suggest that it is not a malfunction. This anomaly was dubbed the “Oh-My-God particle” (not to be confused with the God Particle) due to the wallop it packed. Though this probably does not sound like an astronomical amount, to take it in context, the importance of this reading begins to take shape.
The signal represented the energy carried by a single photon—as if a beam of light could nudge something aside, concentrated on one particle and represents something magnitudes stronger than any radiation measured from the gamma bursts of distant exploding galaxies (by some twenty million fold) and twice again as much as the CERN is able to create. The cosmic ray, to have attained the title heft, was propelled along at near the speed of light (one-sextillioneth shy—that is, nine-nine percent followed by twenty-one significant digits, short scale). Were it possible to boost the particle through the infinitesimal fraction, it would have the kinetic equivalent to the potential (chemical energy) of a small automobile on a full-tank of gasoline. The Oh-My-God particle and others approaching this class originate from the direction of the asterism Ursa Major though there is no consensus on the source.

Monday, 14 October 2019


Via the always engaging Everlasting Blört, we are treated to the AI-aided renderings of a digital artist called Matchue and his repertoire of experimental generative compositions with this lovely vignette of New York City expressed, stylised after the Cubist movement, evoking especially the Simultaneous Windows series of painter Robert Delaunay (*1885 – †1941).

gemeine stinkmorchel

Just honoured by the German Mycological Association (Deutsche Gesllschaft für Mykologie, DGfM) as mushroom of the upcoming year, we were a bit excited to share a few prime specimens in the middle stages of development of the common stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus—that is, immodest and at least a relative thereof), widely recognised by dent of its signature carrion-like odour that attracts insects to spread the spores and its distinctive shape. Not pictured is its first egg-like stage (the immature ones are prized for their culinary value and supposed aphrodisiac qualities), but later growth with the stalk forming and an olive-coloured fruiting body known as the gleba. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to work out the sort of folktales sprouted up around these toadstools.

also in extended use

From the Guardian’s Language Desk, we are treated to a preview of all the superlative contenders vying, no holds barred of course for what the surplus of the year could still deliver, to be the term that carries 2019.
From prorogue to cancel-culture to the extremely well sourced phenomenon of sadfishing, the latest behavioural term to employ the suffix and referring to an appeal through trauma to build and uphold a following, which word would you champion or have brought into the running? Judging by the most queried dictionary definitions—including retrologisms like ruthful for having contrition and compassion over the more common absence of it—exonerate and furlough might also make the list.


Twisted Sifter directs our attention to the award-winning submission for the World Wildlife Fund’s Japan branch for its 2008 awareness campaign from the Tokyo-based agency Hakuhodo C&D and the creative talents of Nami Hoshino and Yoshiyuki Mikami. In the series, endangered species are depicted by the as a highly pixelated image in proportion to their declining wild populations, the granularity and therefore the dwindling, unsustainable numbers captioned in the bottom left corner. More friends to save from extinction portrayed at the link above.

Sunday, 13 October 2019


H and I went foraging for mushrooms recently and though we’re not averaging a good return on edible specimens from the field, we are getting exposed to quite the menagerie of woodland types of fungi during our scavenging.

Among the diverse exemplars that we find along the trail just metres from one another we encountered the poisonous and hallucinogenic fly agaric toadstool (Fliegenpilz, Amanita muscaria) quite often, others yet unidentified and works of art in their mystery, and another quavering discovery called a wood ear or a jelly ear (Judasohr, Auricularia auricular-judæ, so called from the traditional narrative that Judas Iscariot hanged himself from an elder, the sambucus, Holunder tree and these mushrooms often appear at the base of such trees to remind the faithful of this act of betrayal).
For all of its rather Lynchian baggage, the wood ear is very much edible—if not a bit bland unseasoned, and is a staple for umami flavourant in Asian cuisine. Please click on the images for more detail.  The pharmacological merit of the fungus is currently being studied, research suggesting that its palliative use in folk medicine was not far off.


directors’ cut: prints of iconic filmmakers informed by elements of their movies plus a lot more poster art

radiohead has 18 webrings: the Avocado reads Yahoo! Internet Life’s February 2001 issue

republicans, democrats, in-betweeners looking for high crimes and misdemeanors: a Schoolhouse Rock style cartoon primer about impeachment  

mister green jeans: Lowering the Bar deconflates kangaroos and courtrooms—see previously

chiclets: during political exile after losing territory to the Republic of Texas brought General Antonio López de Santa Anna brought the world chewing gum, via Strange Company

a rhetorical question: Betteridge’s Law of Headline writing

startling stories and thrilling wonders: a gallery of pitch-perfect mashups of musical touchstones and pulp ephemera—via Nag on the Lake


Introduced in East Berlin on this day in 1961, the “little traffic light man” was the product of extensive research and experimentation on the part of safety planner and vehicular relations psychologist Karl Peglau (*1927 – †2009), whom had wanted to make stop lights differentiated not only by colour but also by shape to provide cues to the not insignificant portion of the population who were colour-blind—seeing his vision realised in one aspect at least.
Modelled off a candid image taken of the then Politbüro member who organised the building of the Berlin Wall, future long-term general secretary Erich Honecker, sporting a jaunty straw hat, the icons’ two poses, walking briskly and arms akimbo signalled to pedestrians when it was safe to cross. After reunification, East German street and traffic signage was dismantled in efforts to standardise typefaces and the Ampelmännchen nearly succumbed to the same fate but was saved (with many tributes—here and here for example) due to the intervention of a soap opera and the symbol was made a mascot of East Germany and Ostalgie.

Saturday, 12 October 2019


In order to reveal the potential fraught nature of the policy which has already seen fellow candidate Joe Biden having to waste time and energy dispelling a patent mischaracterization from the desperate incumbent intent on bringing the whole world down with him, contender Elizabeth Warren just called out a garbage social media giant’s practise of not rejecting or demoting political advertisements based on the truthfulness or accuracy of their claims about their opponents and exempting them from internal fact-checking standards.
Her method was simple and effective, announcing that the company’s founder and CEO has thrown his support and backing to the Trump re-election campaign. Even if Mark Zuckerberg does not find the idea abhorrent given the revenue that Trump has given him, it is still a damning indictment given the obvious sway that such a statement would hold given his global reach that far outstrips any other polity in the world, larger than a nation state, larger than religious affiliation. Seconds later in the same political ad, Warren admits that her bold assertion is a total falsehood but one permissible by the company’s own rules.  To add more milieu to the exchange, Warren has already established her antagonistic credentials by vowing to break-up the monopsonistic cartel that is intend to trounce on competition and users’ expectation of transparency.

cyrus the great

With a resplendent encampment in the desert much like the summit between Francis I and Henry VIII at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520, some attribute the decadent festivities that began on this day in 1971 and continuing until 16 October as a significant factor contributing to the downfall of the Shah and the ousting of the monarchy in this grand fêting of the institution itself on the occasion of its twenty-five hundredth anniversary.
Commemorating the sixth century BC founding of the Achaeminid dynasty, the celebration meant to showcase Iran’s contributions to civilisation and modern advances quickly became a partisan issue and the monumental cost (by some estimates, upwards of twenty-two million dollars) of banqueting and parades curried support for the Ayatollah. In exchange for the Shah’s funding of his own experimental film not released until 2018, Orson Welles agreed to narrate (see also) a documentary of the party for the hosts, which was attended by almost all the world’s royals and heads of state.

cameo appearance

Among several other etymological origin stories along the lines of the painting of a landscape preceded its coinage as something to gaze upon or wander through, we learn of the unexpected legacy of the namesake Comptroller-General of Finances, Étienne de Silhouette.
Charged with bolstering the treasury in preparation for the Seven Years’ War with England, Silhouette took the unpopular emergency measure of melting down flatware and jewelry for bullion and levied a “general subvention,”—that is a tax on ostentatious displays of wealth, such as family paintings.  Anything that suggested imposed austerity or frugality was deemed à la Silhouette—including those modest profile portraits that later gained respect as an art form in late eighteenth century. 

Friday, 11 October 2019

anatomy of a typeface

Via Coudal Partners’ Fresh Signals we learn from graphic artist Nate Piekos’ Better Letterer corner (see also) that traditionally in comic book captioning the “I” with crossbars is used exclusively for the personal pronoun whereas the single stroke “I” is used in all other contexts.

ymir and járnsaxa

With the discovery of twenty more natural satellites in its orbit this year, the cronian constellation surpasses Jupiter as the planet with the most moons, an astonishing eight-two.
The new moonlets are distant objects travelling around Saturn in the opposite direction from the inner moons and are suspected to be captured asteroids and are part of the Norse group—the International Astronomical Union (previously) reserving the naming-convention to figures from Nordic mythology (see also), mostly after giants and giantesses, with the exception of Phoebe, named after a Greek Titaness discovered in 1899, before the establishment of the IAU and the first moon discovered via photography. The public is invited to take part in coming up with their official designations.

Thursday, 10 October 2019


The always resonant Kottke directs our attention to a thorough-going essay from The Atlantic contributor Bianca Bosker on noise pollution and the deleterious long-term effects that one’s acoustic environment has on one’s health, significant negative impacts dismissed because of the receding nature of the culprit. Despite how we fancy ourselves to adapt to the din of city streets, we cannot turn off our ears and the attendant physiological stress responses are activated even if we manage to sleep through it.
Germany has far more robust regulations and social norms against producing a racket and my experience is far different than the nightmare anecdotes that we read about but I do wonder at my own sonic landscape and how it switches so abruptly from the workweek in a crowded apartment complex alongside a busy road (still tolerable, I’d argue, but now am given cause to wonder if I’m not deluding myself since the only habituation to clatter is training oneself to be even more sensitive and bothered by it) to the holidays and weekends home in a tiny village in a clearing in the woods, serenaded by nature and very little traffic other than the occasional rumbling tractor. The story brings out the assault that becomes intolerable—especially for those without the privilege to remove themselves from the worst-planned and intrusive environs, but also features plenty of meditation on personal soundscaping and finding peace and quiet.

good liars

A duo of satirists who got their start during the Occupy Wall Street have placed some guerilla advertising on the trains of New York City’s subways target Trump, his hatchet men and propagandists, eliciting some much needed comic relief amidst the terror of the times.
One prank banner invites those in need of legal counsel to call Crazy Rudy with a hotline number that’s been flooded with positive responses including many whom chose to extend the premise. As uncomfortably close to the truth as these advertisements are, the comedians are careful to note their activism through the humour and that the ridiculous is deserving of ridicule, lest it become normalized.

circle of friends

First proposed in the 1990s by anthropologist Robin Dunbar, the eponymous number suggests a range of values to the number of socially significant relationships that individuals can maintain, pinning—and certainly not without inviting rigourous debate—the number of cohesive and stable groupings to around one hundred-fifty.
Arriving at this number through ethnographical studies and researching the cognitive capacity of non-human primates defined three categories of decreasing connection as bands, kinships and tribes, being the broadest and largest affiliation. Though perhaps the original studies were skewed towards the WEIRDs and there are appreciable cultural differences as well as varying capacity for differing personality types, the foundation of the theory seems solid and is reflected in institutions and organic organization. The critical question that presently scrutinises Dunbar’s Number is whether social media, especially for those digital natives who have never known a time without an online presence, changes that ratio. What do you think? It is unclear if we are increasing our reach and ability to sustain meaningful relationships with the help of technology or if like the low-demand but rewarding feeling of accomplishment that we get from amplifying outrage, this sort of popularity is a poor substitute for substance.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

a synallagmatic act

While former the former colonial outposts of Hong Kong and Macau are far better known, the port city of Tianjin (天津市, Tientsin) in the northern part of the country on the Gulf of Bohai hosted no fewer than nine concessions (small territories “leased” to foreign powers and because of this contractual nature are not subject to international law) granted at the turn of the last century by the Qing Emperor.
Reasoning that trade and missionary work would destabilise the empire, China tried to restrict such activities to special economic zones but was rather relentlessly pressured to allow in more international businesses. For their militaries’ role in suppressing the Boxer Rebellion (the Yihetuan—Righteous Militia—Uprising, 義和團運動) that sought to overthrow the dynasty and expel foreign consuls, Belgium, Austro-Hungary, Germany, the UK, France, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US were given districts in the city along the Pei Ho (Hai River) and at the railhead that linked the north with the capital. These quarters were self-contained and had their own shops, barracks, schools, churches and hospitals. War, shifting allegiances and revolution have overseen the return of all of these holdings to China and outside of diplomatic compounds the majority of remaining concessions with extraterritoriality are cemeteries and monuments of foreign wars maintained by the sending nation—the exceptions being Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and the Khmeimim Air Base in Syria.

defender 20

Reminiscent of the massive Exercise Campaign Reforger (Return of Forces to Germany) drills that took place annually from 1969 to 1993 that involved thousands of NATO troops as a demonstration of agility and responsiveness in the event of a conflict with the Warsaw Pact, US and partner military planners are engaged in preparation for the largest deployment in a quarter of a century with next year’s operations.  Some twenty thousand American service members will join seventeen thousand members of the NATO forces (though signals are quite mixed at the moment) to conduct training primarily in Germany and Poland beginning in February 2020, and to strengthen skills in tactical movement and logistics that have otherwise atrophied in the intervening years whereas such rotations were routine and second-nature during the Cold War.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

champerty & maintenance

A recent edition of NPR’s Planet Money explored the injection of third-party investors in the courtroom and how in asymmetrical civil cases, backing in the form of extra funds might allow a disadvantaged plaintiff to pursue justice on more equal footing.
While in most jurisdictions, lawyers are allowed take cases on commission, outsiders with no standing are not permitted to meddle monetarily—a doctrine that dates back to medieval Europe meant to discourage frivolous and vexatious litigation by excluding disinterested parties. Whereas maintenance refers to the encouragement to get litigious, champerty (from the Old French champart for the feudal lord’s share of the harvest) is by extension the return on investment one would receive from backing the discovery and trial. Nobles often squabbled at the margins of their holdings and lent their support to rather baseless lawsuits to torment one other when open warfare was inadvisable. Relief and remedy was sought on the basis of detinue sur trover. What do you think? Is the concept outdated? Despite how at first glance, it seems rather antithetical to justice, as the legal system is presently configured, there are a lot of barriers to entry and an uneven field for most to negotiate. Do give the entire podcast a listen and consider subscribing. In jurisprudence, the term though not the concept and practice has been mostly superseded by laws on abusing the legal system and malicious prosecution.

a harry alan towers production

Courtesy ibīdem, we discover the 1967 spy thriller featuring a female supervillain, demonstrating that megalomania is not an exclusively male trait, titled The Million Eyes of Sumuru.
Starring Shirley Eaton (later Bond Girl), George Nader and Frankie Avalon, the plot revolves around a plot for world domination by replacing world leaders with members of her Order of Our Lady. Eaton would reprise her role in the 1969 The Girl from Rio and there was a remake titled just Sumuru in 2003 from director Darrell Roodt—this time set on an remote off-world colony removed from the rest of human civilization where a matriarchy has taken hold. Such role reversals have fun, pulpy implications and are for a large part relegated to the past until one realizes how such gender stereotypes are baked in and how even the most progressive offerings often have truck in those same, tired ideas—exhibit one being the unceremonious end to Star Trek’s original run with “Turnabout Intruder” where James T Kirk and Doctor Janice Lester switch bodies with the implicit message that putting a woman in charge leads to hysteria.

chiamami col tou nome

Via our cyber peripatetic Messy Nessy Chic (who has gleaned a lot of interesting material in her latest expedition), we discover a gallery of scenes from Luca Guadagnino’s 2017 cinematic adaptation of the romantic drama by André Aciman inserted into the lush, Impressionist backgrounds of Claude Monet (the Cliffs of Étretat, the Houses of Parliament at Dusk, the Japanese Bridge over Water Lilies, Venice at Twilight). Pictured is a modified scene of Camille Doncieux (Monet’s first wife and subject of many works by himself, Manet and Renoir) at the Window in their home in Argenteuil, a Parisian suburb, painted in 1873.