Monday, 3 October 2022

7x7 (10. 191)

stanford torus: maybe if we solve Earth, we can have a little space donut as a treat—see previously

matriculation: Merriam-Webster’s Word Induction Ceremony for a class of 369 neologisms

industrial light and magic: a coming-of-age film set during the summer of Star Wars released after being shelved for twenty years—because of the prequels—via Miss Cellania  

elections matter: revisiting The Survey Graphic, February 1939 edition  

toyko build: exquisite scale models of structures and architectural elements from around the metropolis

gesprรคch einer hausschnecke mit sich selbst: a snail’s monologue in verse  

feline dynamics: the US Air Force tossed cats in zero-gravity to study its effects on human physiology—see also—via Everlasting Blรถrt

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

medieval woman (10. 175)

Fรชted on this day on the occasion of her death in retirement on an estate in Schornsheim near Mainz in 782 (*710), Saint Leoba was a Anglo-Saxon nun (originally from Dorset), missionary and companion of Boniface in his quest to proselytise to the German people. Credited with multiple miracles and intercession through prayer, Leoba founded nunneries in Ochsenfurt and Kitzingen and was entrusted with a leading role in evangelizing in Franconia by Boniface and his apostles, first as abbess in Tauberbischofsheim and putting Leoba in charge in his absence whilst sojourning in Frisia (see above) and was the sole woman allowed to enter the monasteries in Fulda, where she was eventually entombed near Boniface. St Peter on the Petersberg contains her crypt, known as the Liobakirche, is a landmark rising above a relatively flat plain I pass on my weekly commute and will make a priority to visit soon.

Saturday, 24 September 2022

8x8 (10. 162)

herbst: vintage Eastern Bloc matchboxes welcoming Fall  

ฮฑฯฮฝฮฌฮบฮน: comedian Shari Lewis delivers One Minute Mythologies—via r/Obscure Media  

wie ist dein name, mann: adapting Hamilton in German for the Hamburg stage—possibly a bit rough for those who committed the original lyrics to heart but Lin-Manuel Miranda is deeply involved 

tl;dr: an AI powered tool that provides a summary of long videos—via Web Curios  

wolf hall: RIP historical fiction author Hilary Mantel  

not in my backyard: good luck getting anything built in Sim Nimby (see also)—again from Web Curios

voting integrity: Russian soldiers in occupied regions of Ukraine undertake door-to-door balloting in the referenda to ensure citizens choose wisely  

kirie: celebrating the onset of autumn with more of the Japanese art of leave carving

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

septembertestament (10. 153)

Composed during his stay at the Wartburg, Martin Luther’s translation of the Greek bible into Early High German, published without attribution under the title Newe Testament Deลฏtzsch in a first printing of three thousand folio copies by a print-shop in Wittenberg, when on sale to the public on this day in 1522. Taking extensive liberties with the prose and heavily relying on Latin glosses as his Greek was not that strong, the original manuscript (later proofed and edited by scholars) is lost but ready for typesetting by July and illustrated, illuminated with woodcuts by Lucas Cranach out in time to for the Leipziger Herbstmesse (the Leipzig Autumn Fair) to achieve maximum exposure. Despite its relatively high cost—a half a guilder the weekly wage of a journeyman—and being banned in the Duchy of Saxony, it quickly sold out and a second edition (with corrections) came out in December. To counter the book’s popularity, Duke Georg commissioned a more orthodox translation rushed to publication, but it was soon apparent that it was highly plagiarised, repeating Luther’s errors and tone.

Saturday, 17 September 2022

kleiner freiheitsbrief (10. 142)

Drafted and issued in the milieu of the conflicts between the great houses of the Holy Roman Empire and struggle for overlordship, Frederick Barbarossa signed the title deed known as Privilegium Minus that elevated the frontier march of Austria to the status of a duchy, separate from Bavaria and an inheritable fiefdom, on this date in 1156.This denotation is perfect contrast to the Privilegium Maius (der GroรŸer Freiheitsbrief), a forgery drawn up at the behest of Hapsburg duke Rudolf IV, a beneficiary and ruling by grace of the former proclamation, two centuries later in 1359 which not only raised Austria’s status higher to an archduchy, it was not intended to replace Barbarossa’s deed but rather supplant it by sourcing some of the documentation to Julius Caesar for the Roman province of Noricum (roughly modern day Austria). The original was conveniently lost and many courtiers found the new document suspect—including Petrarch, who openly declared it a fake. Any grumblings were for nought, however, with the election of Frederick III to the imperial office in 1452, who had the prerogative to confirm the authenticity, making fiction fact, and conferring in perpetuity the rights contained therein.

Monday, 12 September 2022

ccc (10. 126)

Founded on this day in the offices of the West Berlin newspaper Die Tageszeigtung (TAZ) by journalist and information security advocate Wau Holland in 1981, Chaos Computer Club is Europe’s largest association of white-hat hackers was established with the mandate to champion freedom of information worldwide, transparency in government and business practices and universal access to digital information. Through its hacktivism and penetration-testing, it has exposed several weaknesses and structural shortcomings that undermine privacy and user rights and it often deferred to as an expert witness for German and EU legislation and court filings, informing policy and openly criticizing decisions that fail to redress concerns for public-welfare. Their activities rose to prominence first in 1984 when exposing the security flaws of teletext (Bildschirmtext, see also here and here), arranging a large transfer of funds from a bank to the club’s account. More recently, they demonstrated that inherent insecurity of biometrics by obtaining and publishing the fingerprints of the Interior Minister (lifted off of a water glass) in 2008. The group hosts the annual Chaos Communication Congress, originally hosted in Hamburg but since 2017 at the Leipzig Trade Fair Grounds (Leipzigermesse) in addition to retreats, camps and workshops to supplement its media outreach. The pictured flag (Pesthรถrnchen, Datenpirat—a variant on the federal postal service logo, indicting their careless custody of customer data) is from a local chapter.

Saturday, 10 September 2022

6x6 (10. 122)

derivative art: online communities are rejecting AI-generated images 

compostable mushroom shroud: when Luke Perry passed away in 2019, he requested that his mortal remains leave no trace—only it didn’t work—via the morning news  

forms of address: the title culture of German—and the UK—via Marginal Revolution 

remember-tini: a Virginia country club is facing backlash for a planned 9/11-themed seafood Sunday brunch—via Super Punch    

temenos: every four years a screening of experimental filmmaker Gregory Markopoulos’ eighty-hour Eniaios is held in the Peloponnese that his magnum opus could spiritually cleanse our over-polluted media diets  

multi-level marketing: the online community bent on undermining crypto-scams and bitcoin pyramid schemes

Thursday, 8 September 2022

sternstaub (10. 116)

Having sold over two billion novellas (Heftroman) worldwide since the publication of its first edition (under the title Unternehmen Stardust) on this day in 1961 and issued weekly with new chapters ever since, the Perry Rhodan franchise is patently the most successful one in the arena of science fiction, originally conceived by authors K H Scheer and Walter Ernsting, expanded into radio dramas, video games and comic books—plus a failed cinematic adaptation considered so poorly done that fandom disavows it. Set a decade in the future (1971) during the first lunar mission, US Space Force Major Rhodan and his crew discover an abandoned extraterrestrial vessel and appropriating alien technology, artificial intelligence (positronic brains) and hyper drives, swiftly are able to unite the people of Earth and make humans a galactic presence. With increasingly complex arcs of narrative undertaken by a team of writers, action takes place in a multiverse of exotic aliens, cosmocrats and god-like beings. By coincidence, another beloved science-fiction franchise had its US premiere on the same day in 1966.

Wednesday, 7 September 2022

fahrkarte (10. 115)

Though happy to pay full fare and subsidise public transportation, I do miss the 9-Euro bus and regional train scheme offered during the past three months to help offset high fuel prices and inflation besetting Germany chiefly for the simplicity and making local travel a bit easier to navigate, explore and reducing congestion and do hope that it comes back in some form. It was a really inopportune ending, coinciding with the start of the school year and a drastic reduction of services in Wiesbaden, going on the Saturday schedule for some routes. A group of activist is campaigning for its return by establishing a fund to cover the fines (60 € or more) for those members fined for riding without a ticket—and encouraging members to display a tag for potential fare collectors or inspector that they are intentionally riding without a valid ticket, so as to avoid the more serious charge of defrauding the transport-providers and only incur the lesser fine for “Schwarzfahrer”—fare-dodging. While an organisation is free to offer amnesty for its members and champion the return of a cheap, flat-rate, their actions could also be legally construed as public incitement to commit a crime—through ticket evasion.

Wednesday, 31 August 2022

gorbymania (10. 101)

We’ve been familiar with Mikhail Gorbachev’s extended second career after the imminent statesman withdrew from political life—at least in an official capacity—and recall the Pizza Hut advertisement from years ago. This selection of international cameos, however, included one role—that of brand ambassador for a luxury goods maker, expertly photographed by Anne Leibovitz. Gorbachev is seated in the rear of a sedan, driving parallel to the remnants of the Berlin Wall that he helped to dismantle (the campaign reflective of one of his more quotable sayings) and pictured with the classic brown bag—which we weren’t familiar with. Though beautifully framed, the 2007 ad seems rather innocuous until upon close inspection, on top of the bag is a magazine with the headline: Litvineko’s Murder—They Wanted to Surrender Suspect for $7000. Alexander Litvineko was the former KGB spy and defector who was poisoned by polonium and died the year before, publicly accusing Vladimir Putin as the responsible party. Now with Gorbachev’s passing, questions linger whether or not he himself was privy to this subversive subtext.

Sunday, 28 August 2022

the tango briefing (10. 093)

The franchise created in the mid-60s and concluding in the mid-90s the Quillerverse stars the eponymous, pseudonymous protagonist created by novelist Elleston Trevor and was introduced to us in the form of a short-lived BBC television series with Michael Jayston, Moray Watson and Sinรฉad Cusack that first aired a decade later, following the success of the cinematic adaptation of the first novel, The Quiller Memorandum (under its American title) with screenplay by Harold Pinter and the acting talents of Max von Sydow, Alec Guiness and George Segal as Quiller. All iterations, the books, film and TV (all thirteen episodes below), are set during the Cold War and feature the mostly independent spy-master who works for a secret organisation known only as the “the Bureau.”

call him mister raider, call him mister wrong (10. 092)

On this day in 1993 the Frankfurt-based Eurodance group Culture Beat saw its lead single from their second studio album Serenity climb to number one on the UK charts—the first song to do so without including a vinyl (7”) component in its released package, only using the cassette and airplay as media formats—holding the top position for four weeks and achieved significant success worldwide. The engaging song performed chiefly by Tania Evans and Jay Supreme is considered by many, along with the repertoire of fellow-Frankfurters Snap!, to be the archetypal house tune.

Thursday, 25 August 2022

farbfernsehen (10. 084)

Though displays and transmission systems were invented as early as 1938 with various trials reaching back to the late nineteeth century, television broadcasts in colour did not begin until the mid-1960s after a compatible mode of transmission was introduced (meaning it could be received on monochrome sets without a noticeable loss of quality) and colour models became affordable, and this era of broadcasting was inaugurated on this day in 1967 by Vice Chancellor Willy Brandt at the start if the Great German Radio Exhibition in West Berlin with public and private broadcasters making the transition throughout the programming day—albeit during these early years, only a few hours per week were available in colour. Among the first segments was reporting on Montrรฉal’s Expo 67 and an airing of the 1962 French-Italian adventure film Cartouche starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Claudia Cardinale.

Saturday, 20 August 2022

erlebnis bergwerk (10. 073)

Decommissioned since 1993 but revitalised since as a living museum and working mine and venue, I had a chance to visit with H’s father the salt and potash (Kalisalz, used as an important agricultural fertiliser) extraction operation near the village of Merkers on the Werra river not far from Bad Salzungen.  

 Aside from the long history of mining and a comprehensive lesson on the enterprise and geology that bores under the Rhรถn mountains, the location is also the hiding spot for hundreds of tonnes of gold, silver and paper currency (amounting to around eighty percent of the holdings of the Reichsbank at the end of the war) and many priceless works of art looted by the Nazis, discovered per chance by the advancing United States army (tipped off by slave labour transporting treasures to the mine) who then worked quickly to clear it out of Soviet occupied territory before the borders were demarcated.

After being lowered in safety gear—like actual miners beginning their shift—in a hoisting cage that descended into the dark, and driven in flatbed transports from five to eight hundred metres below the surface through a network of tunnels that covers an area the size of Munich. 








Though the vehicles were only taking the dips, curves and ascents at under twenty kilometres an hour, the darkness, wind and narrowness of the shaft made it seem much faster, like a roller coaster ride stretched out for some two hours, with intermissions, lastly in the above Goldraum, a pair of excavated former bunkers that now serve as a machine exhibit, theatre and a concert hall with uncommonly good acoustics and unique crystal grotto with accompanying bar for refreshments—the deepest in the world.  

It was definitely worth the visit and would drag H along next time.
 

Wednesday, 10 August 2022

vertrag von verdun (10. 049)

Agreed on this day in 843, the Treaty of Verdun divided the Frankish Empire of Ludwig I, son and successor of Charlemagne, into three kingdoms to be ruled by the emperor’s three sons. The outcome of a succession crisis, civil war and palace intrigues, the negotiations were the first of a series of partition arrangements that to a large extend correspond with the borders of modern Europe. Though the peace was not destined to last long, the brothers agreed to recognise the suzerainty of their father, Lothair (already created king of Italy) was given Francia Media (Middle Franconia—stretching from the northern half of the Italian peninsula and up the corridor of the Rhein river valley to the Low Countries), Louis the German (of Bavaria) received Francia Orientalis—eastern Franconia, comprising the largest, unified constituent realm of the Holy Roman Empire, and Karl II, Francia Occidentalis, Burgundy and Aquitaine, most modern France with the exception of Bretagne. The provisioning—which reflected the custom of partible inheritance (see above) rather than leaving property to the most senior offspring—saw centuries of border swapping especially for the middle kingdom, with few natural defences for territorial integrity and communication was curtailed by the Alps, and a legacy of disunity and division for Italy.

Saturday, 6 August 2022

sacrum romanum imperium (10. 042)

Neither holy, Roman nor an empire in the cohesive sense yet in existence for more than a thousand years, the Heiliges Rรถmisches Reiches was defacto dissolved on this day in 1806 as an outcome of the Napoleonic Wars and the abdication of Francis II (dispatch to the royal ambassadors pictured) the House of Hapsburg who repaired to Austria and released all tenets and subjects from their oath and obligation. Regarded as the successor state to Rome because its emperors were also legitimised through the papacy, the decentralised empire without a coherent monetary system and unusual government of elected monarchs rather than hereditary rulers was on the decline for centuries and experienced its finally death knells after interfering in Revolutionary France, fearful that republicanism might spread, and the success of Napoleon in recruiting more client states into the sphere of influence of the Empire of France. The Peace of Pressburg (Bratislava) geographically cordoned extraterritorial claims and allowed some pocket principalities and city-states to be absorbed, effectively dividing the old Holy Roman Empire into Germany and Austro-Hungary.

Thursday, 21 July 2022

die wand ⚒⚒⚒ (10. 007)

To commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall eight months prior, Roger Waters of The Who joined The Scorpions, Cyndi Lauper, Sinรฉad O’Connor, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison and others and held a concert in Potsdamer Platz—attended by some three hundred thousand spectators in person and telecast live around the world.

Wednesday, 6 July 2022

rockoper


Opening on this day in 1979 at the Volkstheater of Rostock, the collaboration between composer Horst Krรผger and author Waldtraut Lewin and featuring the musical talents of local amateur band Badister, Rosa Laub, was the first East German rock opera and played consistently from its premiere on to sold out houses. With book by Lewin, the show tells the story of young adult Karel, new in town, and waiting for his first love is attended by good luck and equipped with a blue motorbike called “Usambara” that can fly—whom eventually meets the titular flower-seller of his dreams.

Friday, 1 July 2022

creeping normality

Arrested on this day in 1937 accused of activities against the Nazi regime, theologian and Lutheran pastor Martin Niemรถller had initially supported the ascent of Adolf Hitler for his stance against communism and assurances of no interference in church matters (the Weimar Republic supposedly had a secularist agenda that including abolishing church subsidies, confiscating church property and banning mandatory religious education), embracing nationalism and acknowledged having harboured past prejudice and anti-Semitic views. Renouncing his old ways and narrowly escaping with his life after imprisonment in Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps, Niemรถller was deeply remorseful that he was not able to do more to more to help victims of the Nazis and devoted the rest of his life towards championing peace and disarmament. The confessional poem “First they came…” was penned by Niemรถller and adapted from a sermon delivered in January of 1945 to speak to the collected inaction and silence of much of the clergy and general population—himself included. “Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

Thursday, 30 June 2022

a quinquennial contemporary art exhibition

Curated and organized under the supervision of art director Harald Szeemann, the fifth edition of documenta (see previously), opening on this day and running through October (a hundred days) in Kassel, West Germany, with the theme of “Questioning Reality—Pictorial Worlds of Today” (Befragung der Realitรคt – Bildwelten heute) established the exhibition’s reputation as the most important, post war modern art show and set the model for future biennials. Wanting to liberate art and artefact from the museum setting, it strove to recontextualise work in politically critical and the provocative milieu that inspired them. documenta 5 also showcased Fluxus and happening art, which had not yet appeared by the last iteration. In all, there were over two hundred thousand visitors and dozens of participating artists and collectives including Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Adolf Wรถlfli, Marcel Duchamp and Yoko Ono.