Sunday, 5 February 2023

spy in the sky (10. 524)

Hitting a bit like the Evergreen saga with geopolitical consequence being reduced to, incapsulated in a few albeit funny memes, the US has shot down a Chinese surveillance dirigible, scrambling a pair of F-22 fighter jets and downing the balloon over Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The high-altitude craft was detected in American and Canadian airspace—which was characterised by the Chinese as a meteorological station blown off course, just on the eve of Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s diplomatic mission to China, one months in planning and would represent the first constructive contact between the two nations in three years and was subsequently called off due to this blatant provocation. A second balloon was detected over Central America. President Biden, even before rabid hysterics by Republican accusing him of dereliction of duty and urging patriots to take matters into their own hands and shoot rifles at the balloon some fifteen kilometres in the sky and the size of a sports stadium, issued orders for its destruction when it was safe to do so. Having already jammed its ability to relay telemetry back to its operators and neutralised it as a threat, Biden probably, exasperated, had it brought down to placate mobs irresponsibly encouraged to fire bullets in the air and presenting more of a danger to the public with their return trajectories. The Department of Defence casually adds that there were three known incidents of similar violations of US airspace during the Trump administration, with nothing done about it.

Tuesday, 31 January 2023

7x7 (10. 513)

nothing, forever: an endless AI generated episode of Seinfeld, livestreamed—via Waxy 

construction spree: an annual survey of China’s Ugliest Buildings  


fictive flyover: still photographs of the Red Planet captured by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter transformed into a stunning video  

word of the day: eleemosynary—that which is supported by charity—and gives us the derived term alms  

he gets us: the billion dollar rebranding of Jesus—mostly financed through dark money, via Super Punch  

35f no pmh, p/w cp: OpenAI gives a correct diagnosis but can’t show its work, fabricating a fake citation for its conclusion—via the new shelton wet/dry  

yeldard: a forgotten British television oddity rediscovered in Paul Bradley

Thursday, 26 January 2023

6x6 (10. 498)

trattoria: the invention of Fettuccine Alfredo—a labour of love  

masstransiscope: a zoetrope to be enjoyed at speed by NYC subway passengers—see also  

chucoํ—sol: the need for new weather words to reflect living through the climate catastrophe  

break five: a comprehensive guide to celebrating the Lunar New Year on mainland China—via tmn  

boogaloo in apartment 41: the musical stylings of Ozzie Torrens and his Exciting Orchestra  

melts in your mouth: M&Ms spokescandies finally forced into retreat by conservative pundits

Monday, 23 January 2023

6x6 (10. 492)

zhengyue 2: the second day of the Lunar New Year is considered the birthday of all dogs 

only took the m’f’er fifteen tries: Randy Rainbow lampoons Kevin McCartney with a parody of ‘Master of the House’ from Les Misรฉrables 

i shot the serif: US Department of State drops the typeface Times New Roman in favour of the more legible Calibri font  

yellow magic orchestra: watch performances by the Japanese group that created some of the most innovative and influential acts in electronic music  

odonymy: more open etymological street maps—see also  

tet: a short, hand-drawn game about cooking and serving a Vietnamese holiday meal—via Waxy

Sunday, 22 January 2023

shenshu and yulรผ (10. 490)

For this start of the Lunar New Year’s festivities, we are given a primer on the armoured warriors put up to protect households from malignant spirits and guard the threshold called menschen or door gods (้–€็ฅž) and attract good luck. With analogues that include Janus, the deity of beginnings and endings, and the blessing of the Magi tagged on one’s front door for Epiphany, one legend places the sentries at the portal in the boughs of a giant peach tree on the mythic Dushuo Mountain in the middle of the sea that allowed transit between the world of the spirits and the world of the mortals, the pair working to keep out evil, though many more traditions abound, including the founder of the Tang dynasty had his titular generals stand watch to alleviate his nightmares and their likenesses proved just as effective. Much more at the link up top.

Tuesday, 17 January 2023

7x7 (10. 476)

inflection point: one young person’s crusade to salvage writing, journalism before ChatGPT changes it forever 

beasts of burden: the giant donkeys of Ancient Rome—see also  

birth-rate: China registers its first population decline in six decades 

ren faire: author Eleanor Janega’s Once and Future Sex  

level 100 schlamm zauberer: police attempt to clear remaining protester demonstrating against the demolition of the hamlet Lรผtzerath for surface mining of coal—see previously  

☠️: a safety warning from the Electric Company (1973)  

midway in the midjourney of our lives: what AI does well and why AI is not intelligent

Friday, 13 January 2023

8x8 (10. 413)

rummaged in the roots: with only the dead in their graves as witnesses, we learned that the Hardy Tree of St Pancras succumbed to blight, via Strange Company  

terracotta army: archeologists are hesitant to unseal the tomb of China’s first emperor—and for good reason, via ibฤซdem, more here 

genuary 2023: a month of generative coding to make beautiful AI artefacts—via Web Curios  

alphaputt: this typographical, twenty-six hole course

know your meme: incredibly, there has never been an indexed search engine of the internet image macros—via Waxy

fossil fuel: industry scientists had a preternaturally accurate grasp on the consequences of burning oil five decades ago—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links  

ucluelet: the largest Rogue Wave on record—see previously  

vauxhall: a tour of south London in the 1980s—via Things Magazine

Friday, 30 December 2022

mcmlxxxix (10. 370)

By dint of the limited permutations of the Gregorian, civil calendar, we discover that we can helpfully recycle (see previously) our calendars from 2017 or 1989 for the upcoming 2023. Not to be dismissive of the events bookended six years ago, the political turning points of the latter with the fall of the Berlin Wall, Perestroika, the Velvet Revolution, the uprisings in Romania and China, as well as the gradual dismantling of the apartheid government in South Africa, the return of democratic norms to Brazil and Poland and the first internet service providers seem to bode as auspicious points of correspondence. Having lived through it, may we may live in exciting times. 

Friday, 23 December 2022

ice cream assassins (10. 356)

Again with the distinction between neologisms and characters and courtesy of Language Log, we are directed towards an omnibus listing of internet slang that dominated social media in China (see previously) this past year. The title (้›ช็ณ•ๅˆบๅฎข) refers to the sticker-shock of the frozen treats associated with inflation and the pictured “let it rot” cites the trend of leaning into a situation that’s failing apart rather than trying to salvage it and like lying flat signals a generation growing weary with social competition in the face of a possibly bleak future. We also quite liked the incantation—Tuรฌ! Tuรฌ! Tuรฌ! ้€€!้€€!้€€!, to banish an unpleasant presence in one’s life.

Friday, 2 December 2022

samdt (10. 354)

Signed on this day in Washington, DC and in effect through New Year's Eve 1979 the protection pact known as the Sino-American Mutual Defence Treaty obliged the United States to defend the Republic of China should the island be invaded by the Peoples’ Republic of China. Primarily to extend military assistance with US troops stationed in Taiwan, the arrangement also promoted political, economic and social welfare and was unilaterally annulled by President Carter on New Year’s 1980, one year after the US diplomatic recognition of the mainland, superseded with the Taiwan Relations Act—preserving some of the treaty’s provisions but falling short of the commitment for military intervention.

8x8 (10. 352)

fomites: turns out that COVID virus can stay of some grocery items for days—see previously    

fabulous fakes: an engrossing documentary about a Chinese painter whose specialty is creating pictures in the style of Van Gogh (see also) and travels to see the originals  

baguettes, bell-ringing and bee-keeping: UNESCO inscribes more human treasures  

foghorn: a celebration the floating lighthouses called lightvessels  

geopolitics is for losers: the infectious idea was concocted to account for defeat and hold influence  

gen-x studs terkel: the death of boredom is the biggest loss of a generation—a conversation with Joe Hagan  

viva magenta: Pantone announces its colour for the coming year—previously here and here 

such freedom: social network drops policies in place to limit the spread of misinformation on COVID

Thursday, 15 September 2022

7x7 (10. 136)

ernie-vilg: Baidu enters text-to-image generating AI—reinforces government censorship  

kusugibashi: a rebuilt bridge washed away in 2018 combines traditional carpentry (see also) with computational design technology  

naysayer: exocentric verb-noun compound agents 

if you give a bot a cookie: pop ups are ruining the internet experience—see also—outside of walled gardens, via Digg  

we’re making earth our only shareholder: founder of Patagonia gives his billion-dollar company away to combat the climate emergency 

bademaschinen: floating saunas for Oslo harbor—see also   

nervous laughter: researchers hope to deliver more natural human-robot conversations

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

7x7 (10. 098)

nerva i: scrapped space programme with nuclear rockets aimed at a crewed Mars mission  

der anschlag: Anglophone retitling of foreign films—see previously  

xenobots: reframing how we think of epigenetics and gene maps–see also

superposition: a handwashing guide posted in a physics laboratory lavatory–see previously

extended orthography: facilitating digital communication in First Nations’ syllabics—see also  

yฤntรกi delenda est: more Chinglish roundups  

artemis i: the inaugural mission to return the Moon—previously

Wednesday, 24 August 2022

7x7 (10.082)

the traffic cone preservation society: a venerable and conserved web artefact—see also—via Weird Universe  

red light, green light: authorities in China are not changing traffic-control scheme despite rumours to the contrary 

harmonices mundi: listening to Johannes Kepler’s music of the spheres—see previously  

wagahai wa neku de aru: selected sayings about cats and dogs in Japan  

45°, 90°, 180°: after more than half a century, Michael Heizer’s lost desert city is complete  

perfect impasto: ongoing research into Rembrandt’s Night Watch—see previously  

happy belated blogoversary: Miss Cellania turns twenty-two

Monday, 8 August 2022

7x7 (10. 046)

chorizo: prominent French scientists apologies after posting a sausage slice and claiming it was an image from the JWST—via the always excellent Everlasting Blรถrt 

gall stereographic projection: D’Arcy Thompson’s mathematical transformations and correspondent biological speciation—see also 

chapel of sound: otherworldliness of a monolithic amphitheatre with views of the Great Wall accentuated with a film short that evokes the landscape of Prometheus (see also)  

a bridge too far: there are no crossing over the Amazon—via the New Shelton wet/dry (at a new home at the New Inquiry)  

casino clock: a flip-face time-keeper sourced from a card deck  

scenic route: a navigation device that emphasises fun and adventure—via Swiss Miss  

when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie: the Solar System rendered as food items (with the help of Midjourney—Mercury as a cookie looks a lot like the Disc of Nebra)—via Super Punch

Thursday, 4 August 2022

7x7 (10. 037)

@artbutsports: juxtaposing scenes from professional sports with classical painting  

nearly right: an intriguing Chinese language t-shirt circulating on social media  

sommelier: a Rube Goldbergesque contraption that we would be far too impatient for  

flying down to rio: a profile of movie star Lolita Dolores Martรญnez Asunsolo Lรณpez Negrette 

requiescat in pace: an obituary of antipope Michael, who believed that there had been no legitimate pontiff since Vatican II  

wikenigma: compiling a compendium of unknowns—via Pasa Bon!  

pop cars: visit an exhibit of Andy Warhol’s colourful automobiles alongside the classic models that inspired them

Saturday, 9 July 2022

8x8

carina nebula: first five subjects for JWST announced  

a pharmacopeia with balneological appendix: a primer and point of departure for the mysterious pre-Renaissance volume, the Voynich Manuscript—see previously

putt-putt for the fun of it: a time-capsule of miniature golf courses 

trap daddy: spoof Russian history on Chinese Wikipedia introduces us to a catch-phrase for the deception hoax—see also, see previously  

jubilee: inflexibility applied to finance and debt contributed to the downfall of the Roman Empire  

spatter platters: morbid 1960s teen tragedy songs

hushed-tones: a neural network makes a nature documentary about ants  

hudf: JWST takes deepest image of the Cosmos without even trying plus other space news briefs

Monday, 4 July 2022

♉︎ ⍺

First observed by sky-watchers in China on this day in 1054 (such temporary spectres were called generically “guest stars” ๅฎขๆ˜Ÿ) and visible, easily to amateur astronomers to this day as the stellar remnant known as the Crab Nebula Supernova (SN) 1054 is perhaps one of the best known examples, though it’s nature and origin were unknown until very recently. Anticipating the return of Halley’s Comet in 1758 (see also), Charles Messier confused the static plerion for the returning traveller and was motivated by his mistake to create a catalogue of the celestial sphere, with the Crab Nebula labeled as the first Messier object, M1.

Saturday, 2 July 2022

6x6

a$ap pocky: Ardnira Putra creates immersive, nostalgic Nintendo 64 vapour wave landscapes  

clean air act: the US Supreme Court curtails the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions, pollutants 

kopen op afstand: the auction clock of royal FloraHolland—and how it was victim of its own popularity  

forty text-tone compilation: a duo expressively dances to all the iPhone alerts  

tpv: researchers develop thermophotovoltaic cells that passively converts white hot heat into electricity—via Slashdot 

biaoqingbao: the lexicon of emoji and memes are being admitted as evidence in more and more lawsuits in China—see previously

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