Friday, 8 April 2022

imperial ambitions

On this day in 1783, Czarina Catherine the Great announced the annexation, following a favourable outcome in the Russo-Turkic Wars against the Ottoman Empire, of Crimea, the right-bank of the Kuban region and the Taman peninsula that separates the Azov from the Black Sea. Other territorial expansion during long reign included parts of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Novorossiya (roughly corresponding to the Bessarabia region of Moldova and coastal areas of Ukraine) as well as Russian America. Also on this day in 1812, Czar Alexander I (grandson of the former) issued a decree to make Helsinki the capital of the semi-autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland—having seceded from Sweden and part of the Russian Empire from 1809 until 1917

Thursday, 9 September 2021

7x7

terrorstorm: the garbage documentaries that fulled the cult of conspiracy theorist, fragility and New Age Paranoia  

chestbursters and facehuggers:an official Alien xenomorph cookbook to liven up the dinner table  

en hobbits รคventyr: Moomins’ creator Tove Jansson illustrates Tolkien’s work 

skeuomorphs: vestigial, hidden parts of consumer electronics  

docudrama: a guide to making a Netflix style serial on the topic of one’s choosing  

next sunday a.d.: a neglected remix, compilation of the MST3K Satellite of Love theme  

white rabbit: redpilling (previously) and the regime

Friday, 20 August 2021

6x6

1:1: a growing collection of architectural models appearing in film and television—via Everlasting Blรถrt

brutsch 200 spatz: an unproduced concept microcar trialled in 1954  

hej, hello: the first episode of a Finnish television programme that taught English language skills featuring two very British bobbies and a cat on the Moon 

subway: a comprehensive map of subterranean Washington, DC—via Things Magazine  

purple prose: the 2021 Bulwer Lytton (previously) literature prize winners and dishonourable mentions—via Web Curios  

demosaicking: a biographical history of the pixel and its correspondence to reality

Thursday, 29 July 2021

olaf ii haraldsson

Posthumously proclaimed eternal king and rapidly acclaimed as patron for Fรธroyar (the Faroe Islands) and a popular saint for greater Scandinavia, Norwegian realms extending over most of the region, the Vestfold ruler is venerated on this day, the anniversary of his death on the battlefield of Stiklestad in 1030, elevating his younger, half-brother Harald Hardrada to the throne. Olaf’s sainthood, saga and symbolism (attributed with qualities of Thor and Freyr) encouraged the widespread adoption of Christianity in the territory—though in his lifetime, after his own baptism in Rouen, wintering there with Duke Richard II of Normandy (see previously), was given the epithet “the Lawbreaker” for the forceful and exploitative means he used to win converts amongst the population.

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

6x6

street legal: these stunning automobile illustration are from a 1930 Soviet children’s book by Vladimir Tabi—via Present /&/ Correct 

conferment ceremony: Finnish PhD students receive a Doctoral Sword and Hat on graduation 

a coney island of the mind: Beat Poet and activist Lawrence Ferlinghetti passes away, aged 101 

train ร  grande vitesse: Roman roads of Gaul presented in the style TGV routes across France, Belgium and Switzerland—see previously  

epilogue: French electronic music duo Daft Punk disband after twenty-eight years  

usps: design proposals for the next generation US mail truck

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

8x8

tanssinopettaja: a few dance lessons from the reigning king of disco, ร…ke Blomqvist

haunted bohemian shrine aunt: a truly cursed real estate listing from McMansion Hell (previously)—via Pluralistic  

ascertainment: Trump directs General Services Administration to credential President Elect Joe Biden’s transition team 

philately: United Nations honoured with a beautiful, retro series of postage stamps for its seventy-fifth anniversary 

mons rรผmker: China launches a unscrewed mission to the Moon to retrieve mineral samples from a young crater—all to be accomplished in the span of one lunar day (a terrestrial fortnight)  

after school special: times when television grappled with social issues in affecting ways—via the morning news  

monumenta antiquitatis: a scribe’s quill and quiver 

linus & lucy: tag your Charlie Brown dance—via Swiss Miss

Sunday, 11 October 2020

facial action coding system

Originally conceived by anatomist Carl-Herman Hjortsjรถ in his 1969 study Mรคnniskans ansikte och mimiska sprรฅket (in English) as a system to qualify and quantify expression and movements, FACS as it was later adopted by multidisciplinary teams proved extremely valuable to psychologists in reading unconscious tells and signals, physicians assessing pain, and to animators in rendering true-to-life characters.  Of course, marketers soliciting feedback have also found this vein of research invaluable.

The underlying protocols articulated over the decades have become an algorithmic procedural to extract, isolate and understand human reaction and encode presentation accordingly—see also here and here for notable exceptions. The derivative Emotional Facial Action Coding System (EMFACS) and the Facial Action Coding System Affect Interpretation Dictionary (FACSAID), considering the grammar of musculature, give us among other things that it takes more energy to frown than to smile, indexing units and descriptors that characterise the range of reactions progressing from slight to maximum in terms of intensity.

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

7x7

bouncing here and there and everywhere: a Finnish maths rocks band—via Things Magazine

wrr-fm: the strange and wonderful account of the first radio station in Texas—via Miss Cellania’s Links

infinity kisses: Carolee Schneemann (*1939 – †2019) experimental montage of her smooching her cats

smashedmouths: an all deep fake rendition of All Star using wav2lip subroutine—via Waxy

the medium is the message: hunting down the first mention of cybersex

eeo: Trump bans diversity training, citing them as divisive, engendering resentment and fundamentally un-American

recessive traits: heredity illustrated with gummy bears

Thursday, 11 June 2020

korsflagg and courtesy ensign

First prescribed as the proper and accepted way to identify Danish merchant vessels in regulations published on this day in 1748, specifying the colours of the flag (Dannebrog), shifting the intersection to the hoist (left) side and making the outer fields 6/4 the length of the inner ones, the distinctive Nordic Cross banner has since been adopted by Scandinavian and adjacent countries and territories.
One notable exception, though the design references the idea, is Greenland once granted home rule in 1985. Although the sideways cross is associated with Philip, the Apostle of the Greeks, who is venerated on 3/11 May (see also—coincidentally both Apostles Barnabas and Bartholomew are fรชted on 11 June) dragging it to his own execution though by some accounts spared by the crowd by dint of his eloquent sermon, vexillogists employ the term Nordic cross for this and inspired conventions.

Friday, 10 April 2020

kalsarikรคnnit

Whilst we’ve previously visited the term Hamsterkauf and agree that both it and Kummerspeck (grief bacon—added weight from anxiety-driven overeating) and fully endorse their adoption into common-parlance like Zivilcourage and Schadenfreude and have even explored the above related and relatable Finnish concept of pants-drunkenness, it hadn’t yet popped up as a way of sympathising with the corona crisis. What are some idiomatic expressions or regionalisms you’ve encountered used for the nonce to limn the Zeitgeist?

Thursday, 9 April 2020

skรคrtorsdagen

In Sweden and parts of Finland—though not an official holiday since 1772—Maundy Thursday, that day of the week already closely associated with witchcraft and magic, was according to old folkloric traditions the day that witches (pรฅskkรคrringar or pรฅskhรคxa, Easter hags which children costume themselves as and entreat parents and neighbours for eggs and treats rather than a bunny) fly off to the legendary island of Blรฅkulla (Blockula—in the ancient rendering and not to be confused with the very real island in the Kalmar strait) to dance with the Devil. Non-celebrants take part also with some frantic spring-cleaning and hiding their broomsticks to keep black magic at bay. The observation ceased being a public holiday in the late eighteenth century with the repeal of the death penalty for practising witchcraft.

Monday, 16 March 2020

pyhรค urho

Overlooking the possibly fictional but actually assigned patron Bishop Henrik (martyred and fรชted on 19 January with a well-articulated legendarium of his own), a department store clerk of Finnish-extraction in the confusingly named town of Virginia, Minnesota lamenting that his homeland did not have a figure like Saint Patrick to celebrate their heritage and as a source of shared cultural cohesion and as an excuse to extend the general revelry (this year especially, please drink responsibly by staying at home or forever forfeit the right to be around other people hereafter) invented Saint Urho (hero) in 1956. Only known to diaspora (with the exception of the folklore and ethnography department at the University of Turku), Urho is variously credited with driving out the frogs (see also) or grasshoppers (with the command Heinรคsirkka, heinรคsirkka, mene tรครคltรค hiiteen! – Grasshopper, grasshopper, go back to Hell!—thus saving the grape harvest but inspiring acts that seem suspiciously like Springfield’s Whacking Day, incidentally on 10 May) and one is to regale themselves in royal purple and enjoy wine and/or purple beer so as to not mix one’s beverages.

Monday, 13 January 2020

dansa ut julen

Literally dancing out Christmas, some Swedish communities are celebrating Knut’s Day (previously) as the end of the holiday season by “plundering” the tree of its ornaments and ceremoniously tossing it out on this twentieth day (imagine that carol) of Yule—Tjugondag jul—set aside as Knut’s name day (see also).

Transposed from the date (except in Denmark) of the regicide of the Danish duke at the hand of his rival and cousin on 7 January 1131 due to it failing too close to the Feast of the Epiphany, for the past century and the present one, Saint Knut’s Day coincides with Malanka (ะœะฐะปะฐะฝะบะฐ—that is ะฉะตะดั€ะธะน ะ’ะตั‡ั–ั€, Generous Eve) or since the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1918 and putting aside the Julian one, Old New Year’s Eve for Ukraine, Russia and other Slavic lands. A syncretism of a far older folktale with instruction on how to herald the coming return of Spring and renewal and the observation that the Sun begins to turn toward the Tropic of Capricorn (the sidereal solstice and Midwinter for those in the Northern Hemisphere), it is also the last opportunity for partying and abandon before Carnival.

Saturday, 21 December 2019

7x7

fintech: the Nordic country put together an artificial intelligence crash-course for its citizens and now is making the curriculum available to all—via Kottke

chirogram: a deaf student at the University of Life Sciences at Dundee, seeing a deficit in communication, invents one hundred new signs to quickly articulate complex scientific concepts—via Dave Log

the year in pictures: TIME curates one hundred iconic images that tell the stories of the past twelve months

the decade in content: Vanity Fair reviews the trends, memes and moments that defined aspects of the past ten years

dj earworm: the decade encapsulated (previously—albeit on a smaller scale) in a mashup of one hundred songs

klaviatur: a demonstration of the six-plus-six, four row Jankรณ keyboard—which allowed players to cover ranges impossible by a single performer on a traditional piano

headspace: the framework of current privacy protection advocacy and laws is unprepared to safeguard us from the coming mind-reading technologies 

Sunday, 15 December 2019

8x8

it putteth away dumpishness & sadness, and bringeth mirth: a 1559 recipe for mulled wine

fox and liberty forever: the chaotic General Election of 1790, the polling and purdah lasting from 16 June to 28 July, via Strange Company

the power of youth: the photographer Evgenia Arbugaeva behind the iconic image of Greta Thunberg’s TIME cover—we personally found this honour to be pretty moving as well

link in bio: the insidious nature of Walled Gardens (see previously) and social media’s attempts to corral the free Internet

the land of the asuras: a Buddhist monk leads a solemn ceremony to eulogise untaken time off from work in Japan—hardly done despite legislation that all workers take a minimum of five paid vacation days per year

๐Ÿ™€: this feline face filter underscores how poorly we understand our cats’ cognition

flight and blight: a survey of some of the historic character lost in New York City over the past decade

your branches green delight us: a tour of London’s Christmas trees 

Friday, 4 October 2019

fika

Celebrated in Sweden and Finland on this day since first organised in 1999, Kanelbullens dag (Cinnamon Roll Day) is a way to increase awareness on traditional Scandinavian baking traditions (see also) and has proved to be a popular holiday domestically and for Swedish and Finnish communities abroad. Though we might be comfortably familiar with the above term for “coffee break,” the Kanelbullen that could go with it might also be infiltrating the language.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

potut pottuina

Overshadowed by his magnificently telling tantrum, the Trump’s White House did manage to open up a second front in his ongoing trade wars with the US Trade Representative, a Trump appointee, announcing that the World Trade Organisation will grant the US the right to levy tariffs on around seven billion euro (one percent of US-EU trade) on European exports—wine and cheese, in retaliation for the EU’s privileging its domestic Airbus over international competition.
We can’t say that the US has been subsidising its native industries in the same way for the past decade and a half of this squabble or whether it’s quite a fair ruling—though it highlights the asymmetry of government support and interventions and how diverting subsidies from staid business models in transport and agriculture would help drive greener and cleaner innovations. Further implication might be the UK becoming even more willing to crash out of the Union with no deal and into an unequal partnership with the States.  The EU is expected to respond in kind—though direct countermeasures are not allowed, WTO rules have no jurisdiction on boycotts.

Friday, 5 July 2019

essential amino acids

Developed in partnership with a state research centre and a prestigious Finnish university, the protein powder provisionally called solein, brewed by microbes fermenting the gaseous by-products of the simple electrolytic reduction of water—pliable into any form and with magnitudes less of an environmental impact than traditional agricultural, needing no extra irrigation or arable land, certainly sounds intriguing.
What do you think about that?  Considering how much territory is given over to livestock grazing and the ecological pressures that creates, it is time to re-evaluate our priorities. Fortified and chemically flavoured, the start up behind it which aims to scale-up to produce two billion meals per year after its initial debut says that the powder base can be adjusted and improvised to fit any palette.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

true grit

Though not to be invoked on those small annoyances that can nonetheless snowball cumulatively and become overwhelming, the Finnish concept of sisu—which does not have a straightforward equivalent in English (see also)—signals an especially tenacious form of bravery and resilience that emerges at one’s most dire moments and boosts courage, energy and resolve from a reserve that one did not realise one had to persevere despite of oneself and past failures.
It’s always a bit tricky and judgmental to say that something in our behavioural quiver is reserved for extraordinary circumstances since sisu gained common-parlance during the 1939 Winter War and invasion by the Soviet Union and its continued cultural resonance surely meant it has been called on during less harrowing times, so try not to assess the threshold of others and yourself too critically. The stoicism of not indulging counter-measures too readily and ordering things in perspective is an internal process that develops naturally and is also a demonstration of the same unimagined strength no matter what crisis one is facing.

Friday, 22 March 2019

kestรครค kรคytรถssรค

We enjoyed watching this early 1970s commercial from Finland for the new Lada 1200 (domestically known as the ะ’ะะ—-2101 or as “Kopeyka,” one one-hundredth of a ruble) but take heed as replaying it may summon a demon.