Friday, 21 January 2022

barn

From Neil Young and the ensemble Crazy Horse, with whom the artist has been collaborating for over a half a century, with videography by Young’s wife Daryl Hanna, we are quite enjoying this new album—his forty-first and seventh together with Billy Talbot and Ralph Molina of Crazy Horse since 1968—released last month.

Saturday, 8 January 2022

baby bells

Though not coming into force until the first of the year in 1984, the consent decree mandating the breakup and divestiture of the Bell System’s monopoly, vertical integration of telephone services in the US and Canada was finalised on this day in 1982. American Telephone & Telegraph could still provide long-distance services but was subject to competition and could no longer require subscribers—locally use telephonic equipment produced by its subsidiaries. The regional companies were independent and control of the Yellow Pages—the telephone directory—and the research and development branch, Bell Labs, were decentralised and given to the successor holding companies.

Wednesday, 29 December 2021

mmxxi

As this calendar draws to a close and we look forward to 2022, we again take time to reflect on a selection of some of the things and events that took place in 2021. Thanks as always for visiting. We’ve made it through another wild year together and we’ll see this next one through together as well.

 january: In the US state of Georgia’s run-off election, Democrat candidates prevail and thus switch the Senate’s controlling majority. The joint session of Congress to certify the votes of the Electoral College in favour of the Biden-Harris ticket is interrupted by a violent insurrection on the Capitol incited by Donald

Trump, yet the proceedings are resumed undeterred. For his gross incompetence and treasonous actions, the US House of Representatives impeaches Trump for a second time. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are inaugurated president and vice-president of the United States of America in a socially-distanced ceremony held on the same portico where the violent coup attempt occured two weeks prior. Across Russia, thousands protest the arrest and detention of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.  English filmmaker Michael Apted (*1941), entertainer Siegfried Fischbacher (*1939, see also last May) and baseball players Tommy Lasorda (*1927) and Hank Aaron (*1941), actress Cloris Leachman (*1926) as well as accomplished star of stage and screen Cicely Tyson (*1924) pass away.  

february: A military uprising in Myanmar wrests power from the government of Aung San Suu Kyi.  Actor Hal Holbrook (*1925) and veteran become fund-raiser who raised millions for the National Health

Service Sir Captain Thomas Moore (*1920) himself succumbed to COVID-19.   French screen-writer and director Jean-Claude Carriรจre (*1931) passed away, and so veteran actor Christopher Plummer (*1929). The US Senate again convenes as jury to vote on whether to acquit or prosecute Donald Trump’s impeachment.  Larry Flynt (*1942), publisher, pornographer and self-styled anti-censorship champion, passed away, as did jazz virtuoso and twenty-three-time Grammy Award winner Chick Corea (*1941).  The US Senate votes not to acquit Donald Trump a second time after his second impeachment.  A polar vortex brings severe winter storms to Texas and Mexico, leaving millions without heat and electricity has the power grid is overwhelmed.  Talk radio provocateur Rush Limbaugh (*1951)  dies after a year-long struggle with lung cancer.  Poet and activist Lawrence Ferlinghetti passes away, aged 101. Martian probe Perseverance touched down on the Red Planet to begin a search for signs of past life. The US rejoins the Paris Climate Agreement.  

march: Oprah Winfrey interviews the estranged, self-exiled Sussexes about Meghan Markle’s treatment

by the Royal Family, causing consternation and many to question the institution of the monarchyPhantom Tollbooth author Norton Juster (*1929) passed away aged ninety-one.  A container ship gets lodged in the Suez Canal, hindering global trade and could potentially be stuck for weeks.  Legislators in the American state of Georgia pass selectively restrictive laws to disenfranchise Black voters.   Children’s book author Beverly Cleary (*1916) writer of the Ramona Quimby series passed away, aged 104.  The usurping military forces in Myanmar gun down dozens of pro-democracy protesters.  Islamic rebels besiege the city of Palma in Mozambique.  Undercover operative whose missteps brought the Watergate scandal to the press and public, G. Gordon Liddy (*1930) died, aged 90, as did author Larry McMurtry (*1936) who penned Lonesome Dove, The Last Picture Show and Terms of Endearment.

april: Prince Phillip passes away, aged 99.  As tensions escalate between Russia and NATO with a troop

build-up along the border with Ukraine, US President Joe Biden proposes to meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to normalise relations and restore diplomatic ties.  The police officer who murdered George Floyd is found guilty on all charges.  Walter Mondale (*1928), former vice president under Jimmy Carter, and presidential candidate with running-mate Geraldine Ferraro passed away, aged ninety-three.  Astronaut Michael Collins (*1930) who orbited the Moon while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin explored the lunar surface passed away, aged ninety.

may: Accomplished actor Olympia Dukakis (*1931) passed away, aged eighty-nine.  Architect Helmut Jahn (*1940) behind the Messeturm in Frankfurt and the Post tower in Bonn died in a bicycle accident.  Dozens of rebel priests across German defy the Catholic church and offer benedictions to same-sex couple.  Israel airstrikes in Gaza escalate.  Actor, author, televangelist and TV’s Captain Merrill Stubing Gavin MacLeod (*1931) after suffering a long bout of ill-health.  

june: G7 leaders meet in Cornwall, in person.  A coalition government in Israel unseats Netanyahu after a

dozen years as prime minister.  The US government establishes Juneteenth as a new federal holiday though new laws to disenfranchise Black voters continues apace in many Republican controlled polities.  The space station Tiangong receives its first crew.  Software and computer security pioneer John McAfee (*1945) found dead in a Spanish jail cell awaiting extradition to the US over charges of tax evasion.  Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, was disbarred for peddling the lie that that the election was stolen from his former client.  The US government issues a declassified report to congress regarding unidentified aerial phenomenon.  A twelve storey condominium complex near Miami, Florida collapses with dozens injured and unaccounted for.  

july: Outrage as more mass-graves of indigenous pupils found at historic Canadian residential schools.  Hundreds perish from record heatwaves and wildfires along the Pacific coast of North America.  Angela Merkel makes her last official visit to the United Kingdom, addressing the Houses of Parliament, the last

foreign leader to do so since Bill Clinton in 1997.   Richard Donner (*1930), film director behind The Goonies, Superman and the Lethal Weapon franchise passed away.  England plans to fully reopen with no COVID-19 restrictions late in the month despite a resurgence in cases and the rapidly spreading Delta variant.  Jovenel Moรฏse, the Haitian president, was assassinated.  Continual and torrential rains exacerbated by the climate emergency caused severe flooding in western Germany and the Henan region in China.  The Special Committee on the January 6th Capitol Insurrection heard opening testimony from law enforcement on the scene of the terror attack.  Inventor and infomercial pitchman Ron Popeil (*1935) passed away.

august: The UN Panel on Climate Change issues a stark, bleak forecast for the planet’s future as a suitable place for life as we know it.  Wildfires rage throughout the Mediterranean, Siberia and the North American west coast.  As coalition forces depart, the resurgent Taliban takes several regional capitals in weeks with Kabul poised to soon collapse as authorities flee and embassies are evacuated.  A massive earthquake strikes Haiti.  Tragically, most Afghani government officials flee the country and the capital falls as the Taliban retakes power and restores the emirate after nearly two decades of warfare.  US army installations in Germany assist with Operation Allied Refuge (OAR) as thousands of Afghans are airlifted from the country.  Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts (*1941) passes away. 
Just days ahead of the deadline imposed to complete evacuation missions out of the Hamid Karzai international airport, an Islamic State affiliate and sworn enemy of the Taliban for being too Westernised, lax, undisciplined detonated twin suicide bombs outside the gates, killing dozens.  Veteran actor and advocate Ed Asner (*1929) passed away as did Jamaican musical giant Lee “Scratch” Perry (*1936).  On the sixteenth anniversary of the devastating Hurricane Katrina, a destructive storm called Ida makes landfall.  The Taliban celebrates with fireworks and firing rifles in the air the departure of the last US flight from the Kabul airport, declaring victory.

september: The legislature of the state of Texas passes a tranche of new laws curtailing voting access, restricting teaching of America’s racist past and present, mandating the national anthem at sporting events, permitting universal carry laws for firearms and doing away with licensure or training requirements and

essentially banning abortion by placing a bounty on abettors and deputising neighbours to litigate the ban against neighbours.  New Wave actor Jean-Paul Belmondo (*1933), whose roles defined the genre and called the French counterpart of Marlon Brando, James Dean and Humphrey Bogart, passed away.  El Salvador becomes first country to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender.  “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie” singer Marรญa Mendiola (*1952) of Baccara passed away in Madrid.  An effort to recall and replace Democrat governor of California fails and Gavin Newsome retains his place, though the balloting and counter-campaigns cost taxpayers of the state in excess of a quarter of a billion dollars.  The first commercial, all-amateur space tourism mission safely splashes down after three days in orbit.  Entrepreneur, inventor and computing pioneer behind the ZX Spectrum, Clive Sinclair passed away, aged 81 (*1940).  Justin Trudeau’s party retains power following national elections.  After three years under house arrest in Canada and fighting extradition to America on charges of espionage and circumventing sanctions against Iran, business executive Meng Wangzhou, daughter of the head of Chinese communications giant Huawei, is released. 

october:  US president Biden’s agenda is derailed, diminished by moderate voices in his party.  A vaccine for malaria is trialled in Africa.  Amid a growing corruption scandal, Austrian leader Sebastian Kurz

tenders his resignation, though choosing to remain leader of his political party and will retain his seat in parliament.  William Shatner, aged ninety, as a space tourist becomes the oldest human to enter the Earth’s orbit.  Attending an open-advice surgery for his constituents from Leigh-on-Sea, long-time MP David Amess was murdered by an attacker with a knife.  Former US Joint-Chief-of-Staff and Secretary of State, Colin Powell (*1937) dies from complications arising from COVID-19.  President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, under pressure from elements of his own party, is rather austerely pared back, dropping proposed benefits like universal college tuition and paid family-leave.  Garbage social media network rebrands its parent company as Meta as it prepares to build and embrace its concept of the metaverse.  A military coup in Somali plunges the country into chaos with no signs of peaceful resolution.

november: A powerful storm-flood in western Canada cuts off Vancouver from the rest of British Columbia.  Weaponised refugees massed at the EU frontier by a provoking Belarus at enormous personal

cost are slowly being repatriated to the lands they fled.  After exonerated in a gross miscarriage of justice, Republicans acclaim a teenage, white supremacist murderer as their new hero.  Award winning Broadway songwriter Stephen Sondheim passes away, aged ninety-one in the same week as Schoolhouse Rock! lyricist Dave Frishberg (*1933).  The COVID-19 Omicron-variant, first detected in South Africa, is causing major concerns as convention cases rage resurgent in Europe, poised to be more widespread and deadly than the same time a year ago.  Inflation and supply-chain issues threaten global economic recovery.  On the anniversary of its independence from the UK in 1966, Barbados becomes the world's newest republic, with Sandra Mason as the island’s president. 

december: Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows releases Power Point slide-deck that outlined options for Trump to hold on to the presidency in the chaos of the 6. January insurrection to the commission investigating the attempted coup.  Monkees singer Mike Nesmith (*1942) passes away.  An unseasonal tornado rips through western Kentucky, leaving over a hundred dead.   Gothic novelist Anne Rice (*1941 as Howard Allen Francis O’Brien) passed away.  Tensions continue to mount at the Russo-Ukraine border with Russia putting forward a litany of demands for NATO to avoid invasion.   Journalist and author Joan Didion (*1934) passed away due to complications from Parkinson’s disease.   Borders close and travel-restrictions re-imposed over truly exponential spread of the the Omicron variant; preliminary findings suggest although less lethal, hospitals and other essential services could be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers and vulnerable populations still need protection.  Archbishop Desmond Tutu (*1931), anti-apartheid hero and moral-centre, passes away aged ninety.  Sadly veteran blogger Jonco, behind Bits & Pieces, passed away quite suddenly, leaving the blogosverse a dimmer place.  On the last day of the year and just weeks short of planned celebrations for her one-hundredth birthday, beloved talent and treasure with a career spanning over eight decades, Betty White (*1922) passed away.

 



Thursday, 23 December 2021

twelfth of never

Though originally taken from an old Anglo-Irish expression for a date which would never arrive and then used as a term of evasion and non-commitment, an outside of time celebration that occurs neither before nor after Christmas, in Newfoundland and Labrador Tibb’s Eve was unofficially pinned to the day before of Christmas Eve. Advent being a sacred and sober time, akin to Lent, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, most refrained imbibing until Christmas day. The night's festivities have evolved into a tradition of a pre-holiday gathering among friends ahead of the mandatory time spent with family. The folk etymology, a backronym, has Tibb as being a corruption of tipple or to get tipsy but first appears as a character in print in the early sixteen-hundreds as a familiar though indeterminate saint of questionable reputation and not known for keeping promises.

Thursday, 25 November 2021

now i work at the pizza pizza

A brief discussion of the tabletop shuffleboard-like, disk-flicking game that the interlocutors mostly knew from the lyric from the song “King of Spain,” “playing crokinole with the Princess of Monaco” transported me back aeons ago when I was volunteer “security detail” (i.e., checking wrist-bands and stamps of people coming and going between different venues) at a music festival in Vermont with headliner Ani DiFranco and also featuring acts like Moxy Frรผvous (1989 - 2001) with their ballad retelling the Prince and Pauper story. Now I eat humble pie.

Thursday, 21 October 2021

newfoundland

The clue possibly lying in the name of the province, researchers, using new dating techniques and studying the remnant of an ancient solar storm, have pinpointed the first transatlantic crossing and settlement of Viking explorers to exactly a millennium hence, nearly five hundred years prior to the voyages of Christopher Columbus, marking the first encounter and reunion with inhabitants of the New and Old World, the aboriginal population having migrated the long way around. A known flare event in the year 992 unleashed a burst of high-energy cosmic rays that left a marker in the growth rings of trees, felled twenty-nine years after the storm whose timber was used for construction of shelters, sod longhouses (reconstruction pictured in L’Anse aux Meadows), demonstrating that the encampment was set up in 1021. The Viking chronology suggested their journey took place in the eleventh century (see also) but before there was no corroborating evidence—which makes one wonder what other truths might be in the epic sagas.

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

7x7

ppe: an enigmatic update to COVID guidelines 

i don’t want to live on this planet anymore: a supercut of Futurama gags that have endured  

norm macdonald has a show: an appreciation of the comedian’s (†) early standup  

ernie and the emperors: a Giant Crab discography (1969) 

grandmaster: the mental and physical tolls of chess  

appareil: gorgeous French brick patterns from a 1878 catalogue 

 tireless research: Ruben Bolling showcases great scientists of the twenty-first century

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

season 1, episode 1

Though first broadcast in Canada two days before and being the sixth filmed instalment in the line-up, “The Man Trap” airing on this day for US audiences on this day in 1966 is considered the franchise’s premiere, picked among the other more establishing plots due to its theme and inclusion of alien monsters.
Informing The Next Generation’s Season 3, Episode 3 (“The Survivors”) with the homesteading Kevin and Rishon Uxbridge who want nothing to do with the Enterprise’s offers of assistance or rescue, the inhabitants of M-113 operating an archaeological research operation shun visitors. The last members of a dead civilisation hungered for salt which they extracted from several red shirt ensigns with deadly consequence and roamed the corridors of the ship for more. Several mid-twenty-third-century salt-shakers were designed and intended as props but fearing that twentieth century viewers would be confused, the vials and containers instead became regular items in Doctor McCoy’s sick bay, his decade-old history with one of the interlopers forwarding the plot.

Monday, 30 August 2021

what women will do next to distinguish themselves, we wonder!

Via the always diverting Messy Messy Chic’s internet meanderings, we are directed to an 1871 American newspaper article about a certain “female in Quebec, the other day, perpetrated a ghastly joke, mocking death in His own domain by lying down in a hearse and smoking a pipe” having engaged a driver and funeral carriage to parade her through the city and enjoy the view. Though hoping that the reporting was accurate and this unnamed individual continued to make a spectacle of herself, the story goes on to editorialise that had this exhibition been made in the United States “our neighbours to the north would have made it the subject of very strong animadversions.” This lovely word—which first leads to the eponymous antiprelatical tract from John Milton upon the “Remonstrants Defence Against Smectymnuus” (none of these words register)—comes from the Latin phrase animum advertere meaning to turn the mind towards but has come to mean the opposite in aversion, critical and censorious. Smectymnuus was the nom de plume of Puritan clergy—an initialism properly conjugated—for whom Milton wrote as an apologist and hoped to redeem in the eyes of detractors.

Sunday, 30 May 2021

music for grocery stores

We really enjoyed this ambient soundtrack, via r/ Obscure Media, to accompany one’s shopping list in this 1975 muzak selection Sounds for the Supermarket. The track titles that I suppose match the arc of the hunter-gatherer quest and could be suited to some independent gaming adventure are a bit strange and evocative: Mister Satisfied, Mister Lucky, To a Dark Lady, A Touch of Class, Harvey Wallbanger, Delicate Treasures, Departure, etc.

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

stack overflow

Released on this this day in cinemas in 1995, the Keanu Reeves and Dolph Lundgren dystopian science-fiction adaptation of the eponymous William Ford Gibson cyberpunk novel, the film takes place in 2021 with global population deeply and irretrievably engaged with an augmented reality internet which has a debilitating long-term effect called “nervous attenuation syndrome” (NAS) and transfer and transmission of data is closely controlled by mega-corporations who enforce their hegemony through the mafia.
Reeves’ character is a mnemonic courier discreetly transports data, avoiding traffic on the worldwide web, with an implant in his brain, and is entrusted with the safekeeping and eventually uploading into the public domain documents that reveal the corporations’ connections with organised crime and the computer virus that will return power and autonomy to the people, teaming up with the Lo-Teks under the leadership of J-Bone, played by Ice-T, a mysterious female projection of an omnipresent digital assistant and a genetically enhanced dolphin with abilities to break any encryption.

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

7x7

triangulate your influences: maps of the USA and UK with cities and towns represented by their most prominent or notorious natives—via Things Magazine  

don’t go jason waterfalls: a medley of misquotations, a lot of which are new to us too—see also

unbranded: gorgeous images of Tokyo digitally denuded of cables and signage by Rumi Ando—via Present /&/ Correct  

map app: create custom vintage style maps of anywhere at any historical period—via Web Curios 

 *: a historical style symbol (previously)—via Stan Carey  

princeself: an affirming survey and guide to neo-pronouns—via ibฤซdem  

muchmusic: a fun, nationally sourced soundtrack for the Canadian census

Thursday, 15 April 2021

tragically hip

Though without the spectacle and international audiences and whether it can even be safely executed even with the most stringent health and hygiene precautions, some fashionistas are citing the planned apparel that the Canadian nation team will don for the Closing Ceremony in Tokyo as an overpowering reason to cancel the Olympics. I endorse these bespoke, graffiti clad jean jackets and think it’s going to be a statement that we’ll later pretend to have always been behind—like a twist on the so called Canadian Tuxedo—if not not at least remember. One can peruse the rest of the uniform and kit-up from Hudson’s Bay here.

Thursday, 4 March 2021

cardinal rule

Though disagreeing in principle with the way the thesis is presented and that no birds—weaponised killer drones disguised as our avian friends excepted—are garbage, this essay, via the venerable Card House, does make a compelling argument and presents solutions for the preponderance of poorly selected state symbols in America (previously) and with humour demonstrates how bestowing these honours has consequence. The vetting and the P-R process has been pretty lacking with many states choosing invasive imports, domesticated breeds, copy-cat cases of multiply mocking birds and landlocked Utah choosing the sea gull as a sign of gratitude when the birds miraculously intervened to devour a plague of locust that threatened to drive the settlers to starvation.

Friday, 19 February 2021

si un jour

On this day back in 1942, Winnipeg and the surrounding area staged a simulated attack and occupation by Nazi Germany in order to spur the public into purchasing more war bonds and change the attitude of citizens not directly impacted by the fighting efforts overseas called If Day—or in French, “If one day…”
The large scale exercise that involved some thirty five hundred Canadian troops acting both as defenders and invaders and the municipal government was fully committed to the project, the mayor and lieutenant-governor of the province arrested and replaced by a Gauleiter and civilians were harassed and subject to curfew and severe restrictions on civil liberties. With the help of volunteers, the entire operation only cost Winnipeg around three thousand dollars and netted nationwide over two billion dollars in victory bonds—the fundraising effort not only contributing to the push in Europe but also raising the profile of the urgency of the matter for all of North America, whose press outlets also covered the event. Learn more from Futility Closet and listen to a whole podcast on the subject at the link up top.

Saturday, 6 February 2021

7x7

high dive: Casa Zicatela in the Oaxaca coastal region references Le Corbusier and the retro look of municipal swimming pools 

rip: legendary actor Christopher Plummer (*1929) has passed away 

polar flare: visualising the true size of terrestrial landmasses through cartographic distortion plus mapping countries as offworld colonies  

gulf stream: lack of circulation during ice ages past may have meant the Arctic and North Atlantic Oceans had fresh water 

dataviz: sleek, informative infographics by the Great Grundini  

rรฉseau pneumatique: an exploration of the pneumatic postal system of Paris—see also  

hq2: a preview of the new Amazon headquarters (previously) building in Arlington, Virginia

Thursday, 31 December 2020

the medium is the message

Though interest in his work and commentary waned in later years as alarmist or rallying against the inevitable, appreciation for the perspective and insight of philosopher and lecturer Herbert Marshall McLuhan (*1911, dying on this day in 1980 after a long convalescent period from a debilitating stroke) regained their purchase once his predictions started coming true some three decades after he introduced them. Coining his famous aphorism above in his doctoral dissertation expanded to his 1951 The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man, McLuhan also championed the idea of a “global village” and defined cool and hot media—the former more demanding with less stimuli for engagement with the latter being more prescriptive and therefore tribal in nature.

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

six wedges

On this evening back in 1979, over a game of Scrabble two newspaper editors, Chris Haney and Scott Abbott—unable to locate all their letter tiles, decided to make up their own game, establishing the basic concept for what would become Trivial Pursuit—the board game commercially released in 1981.

Friday, 11 December 2020

7x7

repetition: an exploration of built-environments as an audio-visual landscape of infinite regression  

a pigment of our imagination: the illusory nature of colour  

nationally determined contributions: European Union agrees to more than halve its carbon emissions by 2030—via Slashdot 

awesome sauce: a safari-pak of canned-meats from 1967 

road gritters: track Scotland’s fleet of snow-plows in real time by name  

training a generation of future karens: this scholastic kids books series are clearly coding adults as happy and confident with their life choices as monsters and misfits—via Super Punch 

a universe of imagination: revisiting a classic and inspiring documentary (previously) on cosmology on its sixtieth anniversary

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

m.a.s.k.

I can vaguely recall this line of action figures from Kenner circa 1985 that tried to carve out a niche between Transformers and G.I. Joe with the special task force Mobile Armoured Strike Kommand under the leadership of Matt Trakker. These characters donned masks to give them super powers and transform their regular vehicles into combat one. I had one toy character with a neon green motorcycle that converted into an attack helicopter. Brad “Chopper” Turner’s mask apparently projected holograms and the power was called “hocus pocus.” I think I mostly remember it because I was playing outside with it and lost it rather quickly—that and the fact that the men were tiny and ill-proportioned for working with other action figures. The M.A.S.K. team was assembled to contain and conquer their nemesis, an international criminal organisation called V.E.N.O.M.—Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem.