Friday, 20 May 2022

6x6

from juno to jupiter: famed composer who championed the synthesizer Vangelis passed away, aged 79  

of angel and puppet: an exploration of innocence through the finger puppets of Paul Klee—see previously

the pรบca of ennistymon: a sculpture of a mythological chimera almost gets cancelled  

fern gully: spelunkers in China discover a massive ancient forest in a sinkhole  

capable of completing the kessel run in less than twelve parsecs: the Millennium Falcon was the last ship build at the Royal Pembroke Dockyard  

v’ger: Voyager 1 beaming back usual telemetry to mission control—via Boing Boing

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

็“ฆๅฐ”็‰นไฟๅซ่จๆ‹‰็ƒญ็ช

A cinematic masterwork in its own right, the film by director Hajrudin Krvavac, premiering just over a half century ago in mid-April, Walter Defends Sarajevo, stands on its own merits with intrigues, betrayals, complex characters, action sequences and an overarching message of triumph and defiance aligned with the Yugoslav ideal of harmony and inclusion in a multi-ethnic state, the film tells the story of heroic resistance to occupation in a plot to foil the Nazi forces 1945 attempt to withdraw from the Balkans and regroup, based loosely on the sacrifice of partisan leader Vladimir Peric who fought under the code name and whose real identity was unknown to the enemy, and has the distinction of being a real contender for the most viewed production of all time. Its release coinciding with the gradual introduction of foreign films and during a time of tensions between the Soviet Union and China, the censors began admitting select works—mostly documentaries from Romania, Hungary and the Yugoslav Republics—but Walter Defends Sarajevo was unique among this class and unlike what most in China had experienced beforehand. Previewed as a radio-play a generation committed the dialogue to heart before the screenings began, playing to a billion individuals over the course of a year in theatres, schools, factories and village squares. Spoiler alert: the operative of the Sicherheitsdienst deployed to capture and kill ‘Walter’ muses during the film’s iconic ending why he was never able to find his nemesis and comes to the realisation—“Sehen Sie dieses Stadt? Das ist Walter!” Still shown to the this day, its influence can be seen in the Chinese film industry.

Saturday, 23 April 2022

8x8

song birds: a printed circuit bluejay and other avian friends  

industrials: a leitmotif of edifying vocabulary—see previously—from Futility Closet  

occultation: Perseverance rover captures Mars’ lumpy moon Phobos partially eclipsing the Sun 

infinite tapestry: a generated side-scrolling landscape—via Web Curios  

days of rage: a gallery of activism posters curated by the USC Library system—see previously—via ibฤซdem  

art bits: an archives of HyperCard stacks (see also)—via Waxy  

ghost in the shell: skeletons in video games  

cheeps and peeps: the rich, melodic syntax of birdsong

Friday, 1 April 2022

cosmic call

First spotted by Damn Interesting’s Curated Links, Scientific American reports that as the fiftieth anniversary of the Arecibo Message approaches researchers at the FAST radio telescope and affiliates at SETI and METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence because no one wants to answer their phone apparently) have devised a new bit-mapped series of missives to put out to the Cosmos. The sample image illustrates prime numbers and binary and decimal notation and is one of several (whilst debate continues if it is wise to advertise our presence and level of technologic competence) to be bundled along with the components of DNA, particle physics and human physiology, like this iconic message in a bottle.

Thursday, 31 March 2022

court of last resort

Since the return of the former British colony to China in 1997, UK justices have sat on the High Court of Hong Kong to ensure and safeguard the laws and liberties accorded to this special administrative area. The pair of senior judges on the Courts of First Instance and Final Appeal, however, recently announced their resignations, with immediate effect, declaring the their continued presence no longer a tenable situation and no longer wanted to appear as an endorsement or legitimasing factor in the erosion of the city’s freedoms. Recent changes to the administration of Hong Kong and its relation to the mainland have caused any degree of meaningful autonomy to dwindle.

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

8x8

situation of opportunity: a giant soft pillow urban intervention on the streets of Amsterdam—via Messy Nessy Chic 

floor plan: highly detailed drawings of Japanese hotel rooms  

you can’t take it with you: the coffin tradition of the Ga people of Ghana  

photogenic: Tom Hegen captures the symmetries of solar farms  

hobbiton-across-the-water: maps and paintings of Middle Earth curated on-line—see previously  

this is a test—this is only a test: a look at the history of the US emergency broadcast system—see previously  

long life to the lord of men: jade burial suits from the Han dynasty  

anchors in the afterlife: a collection of non-human resting-places

Monday, 21 February 2022

the week that changed the world

Having arrived the night before with an audience of sixty million viewers in the US alone (despite the time difference with the three main broadcast networks pooling resources to cover the eight-thousand dollar per hour cost of satellite usage for the eight day event), Richard M. Nixon (see previously here and here) became the first US president to visit the People’s Republic of China, signalling a thaw in almost a quarter-century of hostile relations with his strategic outreach and overture. Normalising trade with the capitalist West, the summit with Mao Zedong and other senior leadership had the immediate result of straining cooperation between communist China and the Soviet Union.

Saturday, 19 February 2022

year of the wood boar

Becoming the first Western musical act to appear in concert in China since the break-through performance of George Michael a decade earlier, the Swedish pop duo Roxette rang in the new year on this day in 1995 in the Bejing Workers’ Indoor Arena as part of their Crash! Boom! Bang! world tour for their album of the same name.

Friday, 11 February 2022

7x7

heiti and songti: the typefaces that helped China transition to the digital age 

no soup for you: the Fay-Cutler malapropism (see previously) of the week 

memphis milano: iconic design studio of Ettore Sottsass (previously) acquired by Italian furniture company  

earn it act: controversial bill restricting encryption—presented as an anti-trafficking and child safety initiative (see also) passes committee in the US Senate  

quantitative easing: lampooning practises that exacerbate inflation and speculation, an artist in Kuala Lumpur opens Memebank  

all hail hypnotoad: Futurama (previously) returns for an eighth season—with most of the original talent  

dingbats: a typographic homage to pre-emoji Webdings—see also for one carry-over

Friday, 4 February 2022

de finibus bonorum et malorum

Spotted by Super Punch, New York Times sports writer Andrew Keh took note of the inspiring captions on posters for the Winter Games in the hotel he’s based out of. Lorem ipsum is placeholder text used in draft copies before the final version is available (see previously) and is adapted from a passage from the above Socratic dialogue of Roman orator Cicero (meaning on the ends of good and evil, a rather heavy subject for a throw-away endeavour), popularised in typesetting since the 1960s by a Letraset transfer sheets ad campaign, this pictured call-out begins “the pain is important to me” but non-standard, breaks down from there. Traditionally, the passage, which could very much apply to the spirit of competition, continues: “[B]ut occasionally circumstances happen wherein toil and pain can procure some pleasure. To take a trivial example, whom of us ever undertakes laborious physical exercise, except to obtain advantage from it? But who has any right to find fault with one who chooses to enjoy a pleasure that has no consequences, or one who avoids a pain that produces no pleasure?”

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

7x7

reset: audiences of a hugely popular show in China about a video game programmer stuck in a time loop are upset about its positive ending  

orszรกgos kรฉktรบra: Hungary’s national long distance walking route (see also) from Irottkล‘ to the Austrian border 

the book of fate: an 1822 edition that appealed to contemporary British preoccupation with Ancient Egypt and Napoleon  

we only remember ‘long polio’: contemplating the lingering, debilitating effect of severe cases  

boharat cairo: a foundry explores the possibilities of Arabic script expression 

 encanto: we need to talk about Bruno  

where is my mind: an edit of problematic fav Fight Club available for streaming in China follows some different rules

Friday, 21 January 2022

6x6

wheelie bins: a collection of municipal-issue recycling bins from across the UK—via Pasa Bon! 

filmovรฝ plakรกt: a gallery of vintage Czech movie posters  

1 000 trees: drone footage showcases Heatherwick studios’ Shanghai shopping centre  

northwoods baseball sleep radio: a fake game with no jarring sounds designed for podcast slumber  

holkham bible picture book: a 1330 curiosity that illustrates select passages from the Old and New Testaments  

the great british spring clean: projects and programmes (see also) sponsored by Keep Britain Tidy

Thursday, 20 January 2022

brearley architects + urbanists

Elevated above the marshes of the Yuandang estuary of Shanghai, a Chinese-Australian design group called BAU has created a graceful, sliver of a bridge to connect two areas of wetlands. With a pavilion and observation platform in the middle of the span, the structure integrates infrastructure with ecology and aesthetics. Much more from Dezeen at the link above.

Thursday, 23 December 2021

latinxua

Similar to other courtesy alphabets and attempts at Latinisation we have encountered before—with varying degrees or success and reception (see here and here), the always engrossing Language Log introduces us to the above transcription scheme also known as Sin Wenz (“New Script”) developed by Russian and Chinese Sinologists and saw widespread use in the 1930s and 1940s. This first attempt as Romanisation (see previously) had native speakers as stakeholders and notably did not attempt to indicate tonal shifts as those were expected to be made clear by context. Much more at the links above.

Friday, 10 December 2021

fuzzwords of the year

Differentiated from buzzwords as something intentionally euphemistic or vague and so perhaps under the radar of censors and above a certain level of reproach, we enjoyed learning some of the current slanguage vocabulary of China. We especially liked the Mandarin / Putonghua near equivalent for the English acronym GOAT—that is, greatest of all time—in yว’ngyuวŽn de shรฉn (ๆฐธ่ฟœ็š„็ฅž) YYDS, “eternal god” and used to heap praise for excellence. As the author points out, the same transliterated, four-letter initialism is also employed for yว’ngyuวŽn dฤnshฤ“n (ๆฐธ่ฟœๅ•่บซ), essential “forever single”—so context counts. Much more at Language Log at the link above.

Thursday, 25 November 2021

7x7

brickover: iconic album covers recreated in LEGO from Pasa Bon’s curious links 

sand castles: an innovative intervention to counter desertification 

all about photos: arresting, colourful best-in-show exhibits from the AAP annual competition—via Kottke

no one listens to cassandra: rediscovering a 1997 article on what could go wrong in the twenty-first century that’s eerily prescient  

parks & rec: a huge collection of vintage outdoor living catalogues and magazines—via the morning news   

what—it’s not magaggie’s birthday: an unauthorised Simpson’s cookbook  

spin-cycle: a gorgeous, inviting laundrette outfitted by Yinka Ilori and LEGO

Friday, 12 November 2021

warp and weave

With a significant portion of global power devoted to air-conditioning, the search for ways to shift the burden of keeping cool, passively, has garnered quite a sense of urgency. Researchers in Nanjing and Stanford, harnessing and enhancing the natural properties of silk and sericulture, learn from the New Shelton wet / dry, which deflects most of the radiant energy falling on it rather than absorbing it like other fabrics embedded fibres with nanoparticles to reflect the portion of the spectrum not already covered, thereby creating a sort of high SPF, super-conducting cloth that blocks fully ninety-five percent of heat, remaining cooler than ambient air temperatures by three-and-a-half degrees Celsius and a whopping twelve degrees difference for the skin’s surface, reducing the risk for heat-exhaustion and dehydration.

Friday, 15 October 2021

8x8

day-walker: monster lore invented by Hollywood—via Miss Cellania’s links 

tastes like pencil-shavings and heartbreak: niche Chicago liquor Jeppson’s Malรถrt  

vermithrax pejorative: dress up as Galen (Peter McNicol) from Dragonslayer plus other obscure, vintage costumes—via Super Punch  

modelleisenbahn: real-time model railroading with Hamburg’s transit system—via Maps Mania 

hedge rider: an etymological celebration of wizards, witches, warlocks and more 

๐Ÿ•‰: chanting, harmonised breathing and parasyphonic sounds  

mundane outfits: revisiting a tradition of dressing as highly specific yet relatable, everyday, social faux pas—an unfancy dress ball held in Japan and Taiwan 

the calls are coming from inside the building: a lampoon of the haunted house film trope

Friday, 3 September 2021

6x6

mmorpg: a thought experiment that ponders whether dark energy might be the by-product of alien quantum computers  

abbatars: after four decades, ABBA is getting back together, first performing as holograms  

role models: China bans men not deemed masculine enough from television 

fonarnye bani: a renovated spa in St. Petersburg  

push pins: an exhibition of the iconic poster art almanac 

wise 1543: unique old, cold orphaned brown dwarves may be ubiquitous in the galaxy

Sunday, 27 June 2021

8x8

into the bantaverse: a bot ghost-writes a Star Wars story—see also  

green guerrillas: the role that radical gardeners play in fostering community out of urban blight  

earth, wind and fire: combine basic elements and create new substancesas an alchemist—via Waxy  

fourth world: celebrating the life and career of trumpeter and electronic music pioneer Jon Hassell (*1937)

in frame: see the untrimmed, original version of Rembrandt’s Night Watch (previously) thanks to the help of a curating algorithm   

homo longi: recently discovered ‘dragon man’ skull may be a transitional species from Neanderthal to modern humans  

ine bay: hidden, historic boathouses (ไผŠๆ นใฎ่ˆŸๅฑ‹, funaya) in Kyoto—via Nag on the Lake’s always excellent Sunday Links 

the skeleton crew: our friendly artificial intelligencer (previously) trains a neural network to write a horror story