Tuesday, 14 June 2022

7x7

exascale: the world’s super computer might be surpassing benchmarks in secret  

hub and spoke: a suite of interactive maps that lets one scour the globe with creeping data spiders  


viral nightmares: more trials of an AI text to image generator  

witkar: a ride-sharing demonstration projection that ran from 1974 to 1986 in Amsterdam  

the firth of forth: some of the world’s best bridges for driving  

whiskey war: the fifty yearlong territorial dispute between Canada and Denmark over Hans Island has been settled  

zeroth law: an AI ethicist believes Google’s LaMDA has attained sentience

Saturday, 21 May 2022

lady lindy

After piloting a Lockheed Vega 5B for seventeen hours from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, on this day in 1932 Amelia Earhart lands her airplane near Londonderry. The aviatrix then became the second individual to successfully complete a solo transatlantic flight, touching down five years to the day after Charles Lindbergh had landed in Paris, the press sometimes giving her the above sobriquet, one she probably did not care for.

Sunday, 17 April 2022

8x8

trebizond: explore this detailed map of Eurasia in the year 1444—via the always interesting Nag on the Lake  

gotham nocture: a Batman gothic opera  in pre-production

arrowdreams: an anthology of Canadian speculative histories—via Strange Company  

passion project: former store worker curating every last Gap in-store playlist  

out of black ponds, water lilies: an Easter Sunday poem from Better Living through Beowulf  

crisis on infinite earths: Marvel’s inspired splintered dimensions and alternate timelines  

neoliberal pieties: the organised religion of social media is vulnerable to same corruptions and is no substitute for a public good  

latent diffusion: an AI generates maps (plus other artifice) from a text-prompt, via Maps Mania

Tuesday, 5 April 2022

roche ripple

Its peaks removed by one of the biggest controlled explosions in history and a major feat of engineering on this day in 1958 to mitigate potential navigational hazards and the event covered live in one of the first national, coast-to-coast televised broadcasts, Ripple Rock is a seamount in the Discovery Passage, an inlet between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia. The geological formation was so named as the summits were only metres below the surface and made a unique standing wave in the fast currents of the strait.

Saturday, 2 April 2022

6x6

un robot quadrupede al servizio dell’archeologia: SPOT to patrol ruins of Pompeii and protect the site from looters—also raising a quandary for future archaeologists 

satanic panic: the full 1993 (!) cult awareness pamphlet (see previously)—via Weird Universe  

dans l’ombre du star wars kid: the National Film Board of Canada’s documentary on the internet phenomenon  

entrรฉe: a family-run Tbilisi-based artisanal bakery expands into East London 

the atlantean: after Dallas (debuting on this day in 1978), Patrick Duffy appeared as a merfolk-hybrid hero

intonarumori: Luigi Russolo’s experimental sound machines

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

earthship ark

Our gratitude to the aptly recursive and veteran podcast Stop Podcasting Yourself (previously) for the viewing recommendation in the ambitious and acclaimed Canadian sci-fi series from author Harlan Ellison (as Cordwainer Bird) and featuring the adaptions of stories of Ursula K Le Guin, Arthur Heinemann and others which despite the trappings of low production-value is genuinely intriguing and compels one to watch more. Starring Keir Dullea from 2001: A Space Odyssey and only lasting for a single season in 1973, the sixteen episode arc of The Starlost is set in a multigenerational colonial ship of dozens of connected biospheres in the late twenty-fourth century of Earthling refugees seeking a new home after the destruction of their own.

Tuesday, 22 February 2022

7x7

orientation: Ivan Reitman’s (RIP) student film

times contrarian: Neil Young (previously) publishes his own digital newspaper

le docteur qui: Bill Bailey (previously) reinterprets Dr Who theme as swinging Belgian jazz  

twosday: a once in a life-time quirk of the calendar—be sure to celebrate this mirror day 

a notoriously unpredictable english tetragraph: all the different ways to say -ough  

genehmigung gestoppt: German halts approval process for pipeline (previously) bypassing Ukraine after Russia invades 

 mother-in-law-doors: elevated thresholds in Newfoundland have a questionable origin (see also)—via Miss Cellania’s Links

Tuesday, 1 February 2022

live alone in a pardise that makes me think of two

As our faithful chronicler informs, musician Neil Young (previously) released his fourth studio album on this day in 1972. With tracks backed by the London Symphony Orchestra and guests Linda Ronstadt, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and James Taylor and the singles “Heart of Gold,” “Old Man” and “The Needle and the Damage Done,” Harvest topped record charts around the world and was the most popular and commercially successful album of the year in the US and Canada. Young’s nineteenth recording from 1992, Harvest Moon, features many of the same musicians from the earlier album.

Monday, 31 January 2022

6x6

christian pirates cable access show: a cavalcade of 1980s cult lunacy  

the conroy virtus: a novel proposal to transport the Space Shuttle that never got off the ground

h salt esq: the fish and chip fast food franchise empire that never quite materialised 

look book: a revival of the conversation pit—see previously  

il fait beau dans l’mรฉtro: a 1977 jingle for the Montrรฉal subway  

chock-a-block: an omnibus round-up of 159 British children’s television programmes you may have forgotten about—see previously

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.