Tuesday, 16 August 2022

transatlantic (10. 066)

After a benedictory message from the directors of the Atlantic Telegraph Company in Great Britain to their US counterparts, “Europe and America are united by telegraph. Glory to God in the highest; on Earth peace, good will towards men,” Queen Victoria and president James Buchanan—from his summer residence in Bedford Springs, Pennsylvania—exchanged congratulatory greetings on this day in 1858, with the former observing that the submarine cable would “provide an additional link between the nations whose friendship is founded on their common interest and reciprocal esteem” to the latter’s more effluvious response “It is a triumph more glorious, because far more useful to mankind, than was ever won by conqueror on the field of battle. May the Atlantic telegraph, under the blessing of Heaven, prove to be a bond of perpetual peace and friendship between the kindred nations, and an instrument destined by Divine Providence to diffuse religion, civilization, liberty, and law throughout the world.” These inaugural overseas telegrams were quite laborious to encode and decode (see also), with the queen’s shorter missive taking sixteen hours to transmit and reception was quite poor but there was no dissuading the public’s enthusiasm—commercially, however, investors balked at the outcome considering the expense of the expedition to lay the cable and when the original linkage broke three weeks later—probably an inevitability due to faulty materials and manufacturing—confidence was sunk and delayed efforts to replace it. The termina (see previously), the most easterly and westerly points on land, were in Sunnyside, Bull Arms Bay, on the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland and Telegraph Field on Valentia Island, County Kerry.

Sunday, 14 August 2022

9x9 (10. 059)

i’m sorry but this is quite clearly a haunted murder panda and/or the protagonist of moshfegh’s next novel. do not buy: an assortment of random oddities that one preeminent author is selling her online emporium—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links (check it out!)  

quasi-modal: apparently “thy shall be done” is a thing now  

eye of the beholder: an AI visits a contemporary art museum 

printers’ auxiliaries: a beautiful 1940 book of typefaces from the Gujarati foundry  

if marisol and nilofer are the only non-white women at the staff meeting, how frequently will each be called by the other’s name: word problems for female professionals that aren’t so non-sequitur  

pulp power: the mainstay illustrative style of 1930s and 40s serial fiction  

heat dumping: searching for the etymology of the adaptive behaviour of splooting—which is referred to in England as squirrel “pancaking” 

world englishes: the OED on Irish’s contribution to language—see previously  

a lamb himself: an excerpt from Ottessa Moshfegh’s novel Lapvona

Thursday, 23 June 2022

scheduled territories

Also known as the above legal entity the sterling area came into being in 1931 when the pound was unpegged from the gold standard and a number of countries, mostly Commonwealth nations, either employed the £ or had a fixed rate of exchange with it, effectively came to an end on this day in 1972 when the British government unilaterally applied exchange controls to all its participants—with the exception of the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands—with the departure of forty-five members from the economic bloc in protest of UK monetary policies. Once the most robust and coherent currency areas, the realisation trade with the continent was more important that historical preferential trading with former parts of the empire prompted the UK to seek closer ties with the European Communities—the Common Market—and devalued, floated the pound ostensibly to halt outflow and flight to the US dollar but many saw it at the time as a concession to France’s objection to UK membership in the organisation that would go on to become the European Union, which repealed its veto the following year. Coincidentally, this day also marks the 2016 anniversary of the Brexit referendum.

Thursday, 16 June 2022

yes i said yes i will yes

On this annual commemoration and celebration of Irish author James Joyce by reliving the events that took place in the novel set in Dublin on this day in 1904 as related in his 1922 novel Ulysses, friend of the blog Nag on the Lake directs our attention to the fiftieth anniversary celebration of Bloomsday reenacted by local writers, academics and a dentist cousin of Joyce, whose pilgrimage stalls at Eccles Street—where Leopold Bloom resided after too much libation. Ulysses is a stream-of-consciousness accounting of the author’s alter-ego (the Odyssey writ-small) concluding (had the re-enactors got that far) with the first sex-positive romantic assignation from the title between the character and his wife to be, Molly Bloom (a.k.a, Nora Barnacle), whom never cared for this book.

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

Monday, 16 May 2022

brendan the navigator

Counted as one of the twelve apostles of Ireland and best remembered for his ocean-voyage to find the Isle of the Blessed (see previously), the monastic saint from Clonfert is feted on this day in the Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox traditions. Although the Vita and Navigatio from the early eighth century mostly attest to his faith and devotion to the gospel and give scant details on his seafaring, a rich mythology has formed around the adventures of Brendan (Brรฉnainn moccu Alti) and his crew, retinue and their search for Eden—which though mostly taken for religious allegory and to incorporate Christian elements into the Irish custom of the sea-going sojourn, there is some evidence in the account that they might have encountered hitherto unknown lands and icebergs and reportedly Christopher Columbus studied his tack and jibe to find favourable winds to carry him past the Canaries. Patron to the dioceses of Kerry and his home of Clonfert, Brendan is also the protector of mariners, boatmen, elderly adventurers and whales—due to one legend of them making landfall only to discover it was in fact a great sea monster called Jasconius.

Sunday, 24 April 2022

the snake in the tunnel

Following a referendum in France the day before that admitted the UK, Ireland and Denmark into the Common Market, on this day in 1972 at a summit in Basel the members of the European Economic Community agreed to install an exchange system to limit fluctuations in rates in order that the basket of European currencies would be consistent with the US dollar. With the titular nickname (Schlange im Tunnel, le Serpent monรฉtaire europรฉen), the arrangement was the first attempt to peg the Mark, the Franc and the Pound Sterling to one another that ultimately led to the creation of the euro and was precipitated by the Nixon Shock of the previous year with the repeal of the Bretton Woods system. This coordination, cartel was a method to control appreciation and depreciation and retain relative stability until the following year when the dollar began to float freely and member nations diverged in their response.

Sunday, 30 January 2022

the troubles

On this day in 1972 in the Bogside neighbourhood of Londonderry, British paratroopers massacred a

group of unarmed civilians staging a protest march, rallying against internment without trial—codenamed Operation Demetrius, mass arrest and detention of those suspected to be members or supporters of the Irish Republican Army, torturing some of the internees. Fourteen of the twenty-six marchers were killed on what’s been called Bloody Sunday—the military’s action ultimately ruled after multiply investigations and re-litigation in 2010 as “unjustified” and “unjustifiable” though no prosecutions proceedings have been yet successfully launched.

Saturday, 15 January 2022

video et taceo

Never destined for the monarchy and declared illegitimate by her father Henry VIII who had her mother Anne Boleyn executed on the charge of treason, succeeded after Henry’s death by half-brother Edward VI, who against Salic law bypassed his sectarian siblings and bequeathed the throne to Lady Jane Grey only to be deposed by her older sister, Mary—known as Bloody Mary for her violent suppression of Protestants—and imprisoned for her Protestant sympathies, Elizabeth (*1533 - †1603) inherited the crown upon Mary’s death in November of the previous year, holding her coronation on this day in 1559, adopting her above motto—I observe and stay quiet, by the Grace of God, Queen of England, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c. Though at times bellicose and indecisive—never naming a successor and possibly paranoid like her father, especially after the Pope released her subjects from their obligation of allegiance to her but perhaps strategically since even a queen in her own right would have been in her time below her husband’s station, her forty-four year reign was a time of economic and cultural prosperity that helped forge a national identity and built the Church of England and the organisational structure of Great Britain.

Thursday, 6 January 2022

oรญche na gaoithe mรณire

Otherwise remembered as the Night of the Big Wind, a major windstorm swept across the British Isles on this day in 1839, causing extensive property in Dublin and wrecking ships in Liverpool with gusts reaching over a hundred knots per hour before dissipating. Some one hundred and twenty individuals died and feedstocks dispersed and destroyed resulting in a famine for farm animals, and the storm—which some regarded as a harbinger of Judgement Day as Irish folklore held that the End of Times would happen on the Feast of the Epiphany—and reportedly inspired the invention of the cup-anemometer to clock wind-speeds.

Friday, 29 October 2021

let me reach, let me beach

On this day in 1988, Enya’s Orinoco Flow (see previously) from her second studio album Watermark topped the charts for the first time in the UK and held number one for a run of three weeks. Emblematic of the New Age/SophistiPop genres, its distinctive pizzicato plucking chords were produced by a custom tuning of a Roland D-50 synthesiser called the “Pizzagogo” patch.

Thursday, 28 October 2021

travels into several remote nations of the world. in four parts.

Through his amanuensis and alter-ego Lemuel Gulliver (First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships, see previously here, here and here), Anglo-Irish author and clergyman Jonathan Swift published his multipart novel satirizing social foibles and the obsession with travelogue through London-based printer Benjamin Motte on this day in 1726. An instant best-seller with widespread and ingrained cultural influences and literary legacy, Gulliver’s Travels explores petty and doctrinaire differences magnified, the inherent innocence or corrupt state of human nature and a reinstatement of the struggle between Modernity and Antiquity and associated totems and taboos, each part opposed to the themes explored in the preceding-macrocosm, microcosm, insight, innocence.

Saturday, 16 October 2021

st. gall

Traditionally counted among the twelve companions of Saint Columbanus on his mission from Ireland to win converts in the lands of the Franks—having been ejected from Gaul where they first landed by local chieftains who wanted nothing to do with Christianity—Gallus (*550 - †646) is venerated on this day. Patron of geese, poultry and birds in general (for no particular reason) and St. Gallen, the saint’s rather complicated iconography relates the legendary encounter he had with a fierce bear, who was said to be terrorising the local settlement as well, in the woods. The holy man rebuked the bear for its behaviour and compelled it thereafter to gather firewood and became Gall’s trusted sidekick.

Saturday, 10 July 2021

=

Coined by Welsh mathematician and physician Robert Recorde (*1512 – †1558), the equal sign (see also) entered common parlance on this day in 1557, and while not inventing +, he introduced the addition sign to England at the same time.
Wanting to avoid repetition in his treatise The Whetsome of Witte, he refers to the shorthand expression of balance as Gemowe lines—twin ones from Latin gemellus, Gemini. Appointed Comptroller of Mines and Monies under Edward VI and Queen Mary in Ireland, Recorde suffered libel from suit of a political enemy and died in a debtors’ prison, but not before leaving a legacy including authoritative works on algebra and geometry as well as the frequently cited Urinal of Physick.

Sunday, 25 April 2021

maughold

Venerated on this day in the Roman Catholic Church (31 July on the Anglican calendar), the late fifth century saint also known as Mawgan or Macc Cuill is the patron saint of the Isle of Man, was an Irish princeling of sorts and leader of a band of marauding freebooters who frequently derided Patrick and Brigid and their followers as fools and simpletons. According to one local legend, wanting to expose Patrick as a charlatan, Maughold presented a living man in a shroud and presented him to saint to revive and restore to life, only to find out that their decoy had in fact died in the interim. Patrick later resurrected him, and impressed and repentant, Maughold followed the advice to leave his career of piracy and to make amends for his past behaviour by committing himself to the mercy of the elements in a wicker boat set out to sea. The boat drifted to the Isle of Man, coming to rest in the pictured coastal headland, and a Christian community already established by Patrick’s disciples and was eventually acclaimed bishop.

Monday, 12 April 2021

regimental colours

Whereas the claim that Union Jack properly only refers to the naval ensign flown at sea is vexillologically vexing and likely a historical misunderstanding (or pedantic overreach), in an attempt to make my blog more bedecked with the Union Flag than it already is and therefore a more definitive and trustworthy source of information we recall that on this day in 1606 it was decreed for maritime purposes the nations of England and Scotland would use a joint flag symbolising the regal and personal union under James VI/I (see previously) upon inheriting the two crowns plus the Irish throne. The Cross of Saint Andrew countercharged with the Cross of Saint Patrick, overall the Cross of Saint George, heraldically speaking, was officially adopted with the Act of Union of 1800 that merged came into effect the first day of the next year—merging Great Britain with the Irish kingdom. Even before the Republic of Ireland won independence, the saltire of Saint Patrick was not embraced as representative of the island or its patron and associated with the personal coat of arms of the FitzGerald-FitzMaurice family dynasty.

Sunday, 28 March 2021

radio caroline

Named after the daughter of JFK photographed dancing in the Oval Office and interpreted by the founder and chief backer Aodogรกn Ronan O’Rahilly (*1940 - †2020) as representing the playful disruption of government business and joyful rule-breaking, the pirate broadcaster (see also) that was never actually circumventing the law as it operated from international waters aired its first regular programme set on this day in 1964—transmitting from a retrofitted passenger ferry anchored off Felixstowne, Suffolk, just beyond the jurisdiction of any one who could object to their activity. Established like its Dutch and other European counterparts to undermine the monopoly that the BBC had over the radiowaves and the pressure that record companies exerted on stations, dictating that their popular songs dominate, Radio Caroline broadcasted from five different ships through 1990 before moving to satellite radio and community AM bands in select areas, continuing today on the internet. Limiting programming to day time hours so as not to interfere with Radio Luxembourg, the station, with news reports at the top of the hour, was extremely popular with homemakers and children and left a lasting impression and alterative from mainstream commercial music. Do give them a listen.

Monday, 22 March 2021

darerca of ireland

 

A sister to Saint Patrick and mother of perhaps seventeen sons who became prominent bishops and one future king of Brittany, the legendary Gradlon the Great, and daughters who married well, Darerca is venerated on this day as patron of Valentia (An Bhaile) Island, the most westerly part of County Kerry.  Pictured is the seastack known as Downpatrick Head along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Monday, 15 February 2021

decimal day

On this day in 1971, the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland decimalised (see previously) their respective pounds and pence (d., from Latin for denarii), abolishing shilling (s., from Latin solidi) and subdividing the pound (£, pondo librae) into one hundred new pence (p). A substantial publicity campaign championed by the Decimal Association that also helped make the transition into the metric system made the change-over a relatively smooth one.

Saturday, 6 February 2021

zardoz

The 1974 Irish post-apocalyptic fantasy film starring Sean Connery (*1930 - †2020), Charlotte Rampling and Sara Kestelman premiering on this day in Los Angeles and New York takes its title, the eponymous stone talisman and cornucopia, from a damaged copy of the L. Frank Baum book Wizard of Oz that survived the end of the world and the bibliocaust and supplant older gospels and introduces us to a highly gentrified and segregated society that consists of a ruling class of ageless Eternals and mortal, enslaved Brutals who eke out a subsistence in the nuclear wilderness after satisfying the needs of the aristocrats—with a clan of assassins charged with keeping the exploited under subjugation by following orders issued by Zardoz in exchange for weapons.
It is revealed that Zardoz is an extension of the omnipotent artificial intelligence called the Tabernacle that maintains the precarity of this social order by boundless insight that no human, immortal or otherwise, can comprehend. John Boorman, the writer, director and producer had hoped to create an adaptation of The Lord of the Rings (see also) for a film studio at the time but Boorman’s offer was turned down, fearing it was too ambitious and would run-over budget, instead turned his sights to creating this world, which was philosophically challenging with good elements of storytelling and very much ahead of its time but had not played well to audiences by dint of that same complexity, costuming and lack of special effects.