Monday, 13 June 2022

myoclonic contraction

Whilst attempting to restrain a hog to weigh it before slaughter, one Charles Osbourne (*1894 - †1991) of Anthon, Iowa caught a case of the hiccups on this day in 1922 which lasted for sixty-eight years, forty a minute and eventually relenting to around twenty over the decades for an estimated four hundred and thirty million of them, theorised as a result of an aneurism caused by the exertion that damaged the part of the brain that normally inhibits the response. Adopting a breathing technique that made the constant ordeal more bearable and a manner of speaking that swallowed the hic sound, Osbourne became a minor celebrity, appearing on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and That’s Incredible and inscribed in the Guinness Book of World Records. This chronic, intractable attack ended abruptly a merciful eleven months prior to Osbourne’s death.

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

fixed penalty notice

The newly published report on the inquiry overseen by Second Permanent Secretary on the Cabinet Office Sue Gray investigating social gatherings held during the COVID-19 pandemic during times when social distancing and public health restrictions would have prohibited such behaviour includes a series of redacted photographs that illustrate the disdain and clubby atmosphere of the Johnson administration, detailing partying until 04:00, vomiting and guests booted with the discretion of making their drunken egress from Downing Street and Whitehall by the back exit. Whilst lockdown measures were in effect which prevented the general public from getting together in general and particularly during pivotal and solemn moments of birth and death, members of the government that put these measures in place and on the pains of enforcement were flagrantly ignoring them. The cost so far of the inquiry is estimated at £460 000.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

apicius

We quite enjoyed revisiting the topic of a mysterious, most-favoured herb of Antiquity called silphium (previously)—considered a gift from Apollo and used as condiment, perfume, aphrodisiac, and seasoning and with medicinal uses ranging from anti-haemorrhoidal to contraceptive, imported into the Greek and Roman world from a narrow, microclimate in Syria that was resistant to transplantation. Over-harvesting and over-grazing coupled with climate change curried its abrupt disappearance from cupboards and medicine cabinets two millennia hence and serves as a warning best heeded about our own culinary staples and how familiar and enriching flavours and seasoning might meet the same fate. Much more at the links above.

Saturday, 14 May 2022

matthias the apostle

Formerly venerated on the sixth day before the Calends of March but with the calendar revisions of 1969, the commemoration of the Apostle Matthias, nominated by an assembly of disciples rather than chosen by Jesus himself to replace Judas Iscariot, was translated to this day as to take the celebration out of Lent and closer to the historical date (and as patron-protector against smallpox, coincides with the first inoculation administered by Edward Jenner in 1796 on eight-year-old James Phipps, the son of the family gardener). Though there are scant canonical details regarding his life, tradition places Matthias on the Caspian coast and evangelising to the people of the region that is modern day Georgia. Matthias’ patronage also includes tailors, carpenters, Billings Montana, Gary Indiana, Trier and alcoholics.

Wednesday, 20 April 2022

dgim

 Founded in Wiesbaden on this day in 1882, the Congress for Internal Medicine (present headquarters as die Deutsche Gesellschaft fรผr Innere Medizin pictured) was held in the Kurhaussaal and attended by some one hundred and eighty physicians with the aim to champion science and research in applied medicine and to highlight and harmonise best-practises across the discipline. Working closely with professional credentialing organisations, membership over the past century, a tumultuous one that endured world wars, Nazis, partition and reunification and new the challenges of scepticism of expertise, has swelled to nearly thirty-thousand with special focus on mentorship and attracting young people to the field through honours and incentivisation. 


 

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

be the first to like this post

Some anonymous though obviously astute researcher left this decal on a lamp post a few weeks back coinciding with the return of testing stations which were prematurely removed in hopes that the unavailability of free screenings would encourage individuals to get their booster shots only to quickly learn and recover that one does not winnow down the arsenal in one’s quiver when facing a global pandemic. Medical authorities confer and confirm vaccination status with a QR-Code and a national app, though this has expanded, splintered into a suite of application and new codes to scan unique for every affiliate station. Feeling a bit under the weather with the arrival of Spring and the too-quick change in temperature, I wanted to be responsible and rule out a case of COVID and so availed myself of said near-by mobile PCR centre. I was relieved to learn that the results were negative and was given a mask (oh no) for my troubles, noticing the label on the packaging later on…

Sunday, 10 April 2022

facial recognition

Via Super Punch, we learn that one unique gashapon in Tokyo’s busy Shinjuku station is proving quite popular with commuters for vending capsules with the ID photos of strangers (though ostensibly fellow passengers) over the chance to connect on whatever social level with the crowd, unmasked. Those behind the concept are poised to launch the next series with people submitting their pictures to be added to the anonymous mix.

Saturday, 9 April 2022

narkotyki

We thoroughly enjoyed this introduction to the artist, novelist and political theorist of the inter-war period in Europe Stanisล‚aw Ignacy Witkiewicz (*1885 - †1939, known professionally as Witkacy), witness to quite a bit of history, through the lens of his portrait factory, with many of his commissions documenting his drug intake—even if just the dregs of caffeine from a cup of coffee—with coded annotations whist painting, usually under a course of self-medication of synthesised mescaline, cocaine, nicotine and alcohol, aggressively marketed to the masses at the time, despite addiction and substance abuse being acknowledged problems, as relief for those broken by World War I. Wikiewicz died by intentional overdose after fleeing to eastern Poland after learning of the Nazi invasion on the western border when he heard reports of the Soviets approaching from the opposite flank. More from Public Domain Review at the link above.

saponification

Accomplished French chemist and professional skeptic whose research and work had a immense influence in several disciplines of science, mathematics and the arts as well as helping to establish the field of gerontology with himself a subject of study, Michel Eugรจne Chevreul (*1786) passed away on this day in 1889 in Paris, aged 102. Revolutionary work with vegetable oils and animal fats fundamentally changed the manufacture and availability of soap and candles—incidentally leading to an understanding of the pathology and treatment of diabetes. Having first honed his acumen as chemist in a dye and pigment manufacturing plant, Chevreul expounded several volumes regarding the theory of colours and their compliments which particularly informed Impressionist and Pointillist styles, after his career with oleic experimentation, he set his focus on disenchanting, disabusing the public of popular charlatanism and mysticism and raging against seances and table-turning, giving one of the first explanations of the ideomotor effect for mediums and dowsers. Having lived through the French Revolution, Chevreul was one of the seventy-two scientists and engineers commemorated on the first balcony of the Eiffel Tower and was only one of two honorees alive to see the Tricolour raised at the top of the structure.

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

8x8

plotto: the prolific, formulaic writing of William Wallace Cook—see also  

harry lime: a Third Man tour of Vienna—see previously  

pinscreen: Claire Parker and Alexander Alexeieff animate Nikolai Gogol’s short story The Nose (1963)

anti-social media: Facebook organised a smear campaign against TikTok through a GOP shill—via Waxy 

zone: Dyson to offer noise-cancelling headphones that also creates a pocket of purified air  

the fauvist: the art of Marguerite Zorach, an early proponent of Modernism in America—via Messy Nessy Chic 

love me, feed me, don’t leave me: the strange saga of a Garfield-themed restaurant  

floriography: cryptological communication by means of floral arrangement through their symbolic and emblematic meaning

Monday, 28 March 2022

sozialer mord

Via Super Punch, we learn about a phrase and its applications coined by Friedrich Engels—one whom one doesn’t hear much about without the more well-known and charismatic Karl Marx—in his 1845 study The Conditions of the Working-Class in England, social murder, to describe the dominance of the aristocracy and consequences for the proletariat whose exploitation and negligence causes premature death for many in the under-class. Whilst originally directed towards Manchester and the regard that the South held for the North in Britain, the term has popular parlance from austerity measures, climate change and its first victims, to inequalities brought to the fore by the pandemic and the most vulnerable among us.  Often over looked and excused, Engels writes, “[S]ince the offence is more one of omission than of commission. But murder it remains.”

Friday, 18 March 2022

8x8

the fiume endeavour: Neutral Moresnet and other countries that fell off the map 

international male: thirty-three national costumes from the 2022 Mister Global pageant via Miss Cellania  

odette and odile: a diminutive chihuahua and human handler perform Swan Lake  

smpte colour bars: a BBC test pattern jumper and mural—see also  

bad actor mode: an AI normally tasked with developing new, novel medications had its parameters switched seek out toxicity and suggests tens of thousands of chemical weapons and poisons in the space of a few hours—via Slashdot 

 cameo appearance: Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams portrayed the President of United Earth on the season finale of Star Trek and brought the planet back into the Federation 

state-of-the-art: ten breakthrough technologies online now that could change our trajectory for the better—via Kottke  

geopolitics: charting the advance of democracy

Friday, 4 March 2022

pontypridd

Born this day in 1800 in Caerphilly, courtesy of Weird Universe, we learn about the singular figure of William Price (†1893), physician, Druid priest, vegetarian, marriage and organised religion contrarian and champagne enthusiast—would that we could stop with those epithets and skip nationalist and anti-vaxxer. Often seen donning an elaborate headdress of fox pelts, long hair and beard and emerald green onesie with incantations—or alternately stalk naked on his daily constitutional through the countryside, Price’s legacy includes the legalisation of cremation in Great Britain, previously against custom, when sadly his infant son, Iesu Grist—Welsh for Jesus Christ Price, died suddenly and Price burned his body on a pyre in accordance with Druidic traditions. Arrested for the unlawful disposal of a corpse, Price was however able to successfully plead his defence in court, leading to the passage of UK Cremation Act of 1902 and the establishment of crematoria throughout the country. Aged eighty-two, Price fathered a second son—also named Jesus (plus a daughter two years later called Penelopen) at which time he made detailed arrangements for the disposition of his estate and death, a funeral pyre a decade later attended by twenty-thousand mourners.

Sunday, 27 February 2022

8x8

glass menagerie: more microbiological models from Luke Jerram—see previously 

instant city: a 1971, tented utopian experiment on the northern coast of Ibiza  

dearc sgiathanach: superlative winged pterosaur found on the Island of Skye 

kye marn: incredible papier mรขchรฉ Carnival masks from Jacmel, Haiti 

the wags, jubilee plus christmas gambols: nautical song composer Charles Dibdin, forgotten eighteenth century superstar—via Strange Company 

a strange game—the only winning move is not to play: the rise of gamification in all systems and how to avoid getting caught up in it unawares  

ัะฝะต, ะฑะตะฝะต, ั€ะตั: a Russian counting rhyme, like yan, tan, tethera  

angiogenic properties: materials scientists development bioactive glass (also used to repair broken bones) that repels virtually all germs

Friday, 18 February 2022

7x7

pigeon fancy: Emil Schachtzabel illustrates unnatural selection in prize breeds  

act local, think global: a twenty-question quiz about one’s bioregion, immediate surroundings and a challenge for low-scorers 

onomastic terminology: petrichor, overmorrow, interrobangs and other proper orthonyms  

wysiwyg: Jane Austen used straight pins to edit the rough drafts of her manuscripts before word processors and correction-liquid  

device orchestra: various peripherals, gadgets and appliances perform “Seven Nation Army”  

pandemic cartograms: our unvaccinated world  

hodowla goล‚ฤ™bi: profiling Poland’s pigeon keepers, moving up in the pecking-order

Thursday, 27 January 2022

a boy named charlie brown

We were saddened to learn of the death of Peter Robbins (*1956, Louis Nanasi) by suicide and reading about his mental health and addiction struggles over the course of decades in his obituary. The real estate agent and former child actor, his first role from another comic strip in the televised adaptation of Blondie as the Dagwoods’ son, was the voice talent behind Charlie Brown for the Peanuts animated specials of the 1960s—including A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown with his final role as the character in 1969 a reprise of his 1963 debut. Never forget how to talk to people.

Monday, 24 January 2022

mล‚oda polska

Via Calvert Journal, we are introduced to the movement that has parallels with the near contemporary Arts and Crafts in England, owing as much to independence and freedom from foreign influence as it does to synergistic aesthetic opposition against Positivism in Young Poland discovered in the country’s sanatoria, Zakopane, high altitude and remote and relatively free from the intrigues that had despoiled the cities that became a focus of these restored values. Questioning the emphasis on progress, adherents sought to bring beauty and wonder into the daily dialogue of every individual regardless of their station or circumstance and a rebuffing of industry and occupation.

Friday, 7 January 2022

pardon my french

Cynically characterised by some as a political ploy ahead of the election to stoke resentment for those members of the public refusing or hesitant over vaccines the vulgarity that Emmanuel Macron lobbied against the small but vocal minority of the unvaccinated that’s being translated, innocuously, as “be made pissed off”—whereas, perhaps just as inoffensively if not a bit rough (see also), the original word choice was emmerder, a literal calque one can easily imagine but conveys the sense of “to make inopportune” and rather responsibly makes social venues the preserved of those inoculated. Much more at Language Log at the link above.

Saturday, 1 January 2022

the same procedure as every year

Having not watched Dinner for One (Der 90. Geburtstag) sketch for the past couple of years, we appreciated the reminder from Nag on the Lake and can confirm it’s been recently on in the background, this 1962 recording broadcast every year in Germany on New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day for reasons no one can quite recall. This year in the midst of restrictions on gatherings, virtual parties and celebrations scaled back, with bands playing to empty venues—it seems especially poignant. “But my friends—they’re waiting in the lobby.” There, there, of course they are, Miss Sophie. Do check it out if you’re not familiar—it is timelessly funny.

Friday, 31 December 2021

pneumonia of unknown etiology

On this day in 2019, the World Health Organisation’s China Country Office received a report of approximately four dozen cases, with a fourth of the patients presenting as severely ill, detected in Wuhan in Hubei province. Original disease vector that introduced the contagion were never identified but the virus SARS-CoV-2 and variants eventually came to be classified as COVID-19. One year later to the day—shortly after the roll-out had already begun in the UK, the WHO’s stringent regulatory authority approved its first eight emergency-use validations for vaccinations undergoing clinical trials, hedging various strategies to stimulate immune responses in the human body to this novel coronavirus we had not been exposed to before, including messenger RNA, fragmented and inactivated virus approaches.