Friday, 2 June 2023

7x7 (10. 782)

court of last resort: Propublica presents a guide to potential imperilled rights in the US—via Waxy 

e. o. 9066: George Takei recalls growing up in a Japanese-American internment camp—see previously

velben goods: the concierge to the world’s rich and powerful—see also  

mermen: the increasing popularity of underwater performances in China—see previously 

stumbling block: in a simulation, an AI-controlled drone kills its human handler because that individual was thwarting its achieving mission objectives, later apparently walked back  

rainbow crusaders: a more inclusive examination of heroism during World War II 

legislate guns not makeup: a roster of state houses poised to adopt bans on drag performers

Sunday, 28 May 2023

williamsburg, as a site, was the site of the first representative assembly and the second university in the colonies which then became the united states–it has been a particularly appropriate place in which to rededicate ourselves to these principles (10. 772)

Hosted in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia and remarkably the only international meeting chaired by Ronald Reagan during his administration, the ninth annual summit of the Group of Seven—an informal gathering of the richest, industrialised countries—opened on this day in 1983, running through 30 May, and was attended by French president Franรงois Mitterrand, West Germany Chancellor Helmut Kohl—their predecessors having first proposed such a forum in 1975—the Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, the Italian Prime Minister Amintore Fanfani, the Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, the Prime Minister of the UK Margaret Thatcher, plus the president of the European Commission, Luxembourgish statesman Gaston Thorn. Though normally reserved as a venue for resolving and harmonising trade and monetary policy amongst members, Reagan shifted the focus to missile deployment in Europe aimed to encourage the Soviet Union to return to disarmament negotiations in Geneva. Having met with Thatcher for bilateral consultations ahead of the summit, the UK and the US wanted support from the G-7 to affirm NATO’s stance on basing Pershing II rockets in Turkey and West Germany, pressing others for agreement despite the objections of Mitterrand and Trudeau, this concord was considered essential for Reagan’s first encounter with Gorbachev for talks two years later.

Wednesday, 24 May 2023

7x7 oops all america (10. 764)

the hills we climb: Amanda Gorman’s inspirational poem (previously) during the inaugeration for Joe Biden among reading materials subject to a ban in Florida 

gen-z-span: a C-SPAN and Tik Tok split-screen is “giving democracy”—via Waxy  

sealioning: the baiting, false pretence for an honest discussion 

love is love: US retailer removing some LGBTQ+ collection apparel from its stores after backlash directed at employees plus more attacks against allied merchandise  

line-in-the-sand: negotiations on the impending US debt ceiling have stalled with little time to spare 

patent troll: the state of Louisiana introduces legislation to curtail the private equitisation of supposed infringement on intellectual property—via Super Punch  

won’t someone think of the children: analyses reveal that the majority of book ban challenges for curricula and libraries come from eleven people

the judgment of paris (10. 763)

Aptly alluding to the myth of a scorned guest and chaos agent, Eris, the goddess of Discord—who was not invited to the marriage ceremony of Greek hero Peleus and sea nymph Thetis and tossed a golden apple into the wedding party to be awarded to the fairest, a bone of contention that sparked the Trojan War, an international jury of wine experts convened in the French capital on this day in 1976 to carry out a blind-tasting—ultimately rating varieties of Napa Valley wines as superior to the historically more esteemed French vineyards. The results of course sparked controversy—top honours going to a 1973 chardonnay from Chรขteau Montelena and a cabernet Sauvignon from Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars whereas the opposite outcome was rather a foregone conclusion, and marked a pivotal moment in the California industry (see previously) with a follow up match in 2006 on the event’s thirtieth anniversary that re-certified the standings.

Sunday, 21 May 2023

as far as being a paid crisis actor, it’s a pretty stable gig (10. 759)

Though the evergreen article that the Onion republishes for every mass-shooting in the US remains an unimpeachable comment on American culture and values, but as the pace of violence has increased exponentially over the past years—we learn via Pluralistic, that the writing team decided to take a new approach and interview survivors, a brief but powerful slideshow that’s worth one’s time and consideration. “Only two of my three kids came home from school, but Texas has no property taxes, so it’s a wash.” “I was proud to be experiencing the free exercise of American constitutional rights.”

Thursday, 11 May 2023

we made a lot of news—that is our job (10. 733)

Let’s hope that the debacle hosted by CNN for Trump’s townhall, excused as a newsworthy event as the GOP’s twice-impeached frontrunner to contend with Joe Biden in the 2024 presidential election, was more eye-opening and indicative of a network under new leadership amidst the vacuum for sensationalism left by Fox News and the general erosion of journalistic outlets rather than the pandering platforming that played out over ninety minutes as the counterweight to the criminal charges levied agains the former Commander-in-Chief that’s telling of the shamelessness that characterises American civic sense. The incredulity of presenting a line of questioning, whether open-ended or on point, could have elicited anything other than rehashing past grievance and unleashing a firehose of misinformation—2020 election denialism, misogyny, the imperial executive, vacillating on Russian and Ukraine—is not to be taken lightly and verges on irresponsibility. One would

Tuesday, 9 May 2023

join, or die (10. 727)

Attributed to Benjamin Franklin, the political cartoon depicting the British colonies of North America as a severed snake—eight parts for the thirteen traditional entities with New England as the head being lumped into one region, Delaware then part of Pennsylvania and omitting Georgia completely (do some homework)—appeared for the first time on this day in 1754 in the Pennsylvania Gazette accompanying Franklin’s editorial on the “disunited states” and appeals for cooperation during the French and Indian War (an extension of the Seven Years’ War) by settlers looking to expand into Appalachia and then reprinted and propagandised later as a slogan for those opposed to the rule of the Crown, culminating in war for independence, aggravated in part due to the movement by the British to outlaw slavery and demands that the colonists countenance territorial treaties struck with the native population, with the separate militias forming what was planned as a temporary alliance against the monarchy.

Saturday, 29 April 2023

in the room the women come and go, talking of michaelangelo (10. 706)

The BBC reports that the Florida principal pressured to resign after introducing pupils to the artist’s masterpiece, David, without prior parental approval of the curricula, has travelled to Florence with her family and saw the colossal marble statue in person at the Accademia Galleria, at the invitation of the museum’s director. The biblical figure whose nakedness and vulnerability represent the triumph of purity over the forces of evil was originally destined as an ensemble lining the roof buttresses of the cathedral but once finally realised, authorities instead decided, due to its size and grandeur, to place the statue in the public square of the seat of the Florentine government in 1504. A fig leaf (foglia di fico, a loin-garland) was added shortly after installation and though not a permanent addition, the practise was perpetuated by Victoria after expressing shock over the nudity of a full scale replica presented to the Victoria & Albert Museum. The original was removed from Palazzo della Signoria to the gallery in 1873, with a copy on public display, to protect it from the elements.

Monday, 24 April 2023

9x9 (10. 696)

precariat: the antithesis of job security—via Miss Cellania 

le jeu de monde: a seventeenth century geography-themed board game 

sell ∀ ∃ as ∃ ∀ scam: AI “prompt engineering” distilled—via the new shelton wet/dry  

ad infintum: a survey of the websites that ChatGPT and other large language models glean from to appear smartly confident 

fox and friends: rightwing ideologue Tucker Carlson abruptly announces he is leaving the network  

reductio ad hilterium: fake diaries to go on public display after forty years since their spurious authorship  

mister hepster: Cab Calloway’s jazz lexicon  

tea and sympathy: the Teasmade museum—via Messy Nessy Chic  

permission slip: inside the wave of American legislation looking to overturn laws restricting child labour

Thursday, 30 March 2023

news cycle (10. 646)

Historically though the exact extent and nature of the charges are under seal with secret deliberations until the arraignment on Tuesday and just following speculation that the grand jury would be taking an extended recess after Trump’s arrest did not take place, a former US president, for the first time in the nation’s history—significant though this I think is another example of toxic exceptionalism that bewitches America, has been indicted and is expected to surrender to the court. Tawdry and aggrieved as it is, as with everything connected the legal jeopardy that’s far outlasted his single term in office and far more minor than embezzling from his charitable foundation, collusion with Russia, hateful, pandering and racist policies and highly questionable accounting, the first felony charge levied against him is in connection with a 2006 tryst and hush-money earmarked from campaign funds a decade later, expensed as a retainer fee for a lawyer, now principal witness for the prosecution. The Manhattan district attorney had entertained not pursuing this charge for the reasons above but was urged to continue rather than wait for evidence to mount for more serious offences, like the family syndicate’s business practises and exaggerating personal wealth in order to secure loans, and demonstrate that no one is above the law.

Tuesday, 28 March 2023

a side of gloss (10. 640)

Though mostly, exclusively North American foodways and the sort of niche subject that elicits strong feelings one way or another (see also), we quite enjoyed perusing the entries for this volume, an ongoing project of abecedaria, of icons and analogues of for better or worse consumable (and usually) highly-processed staples, regional variants and the last holdouts of once expansive franchises. From salad bars, all-you-can-eat buffets, juice-boxes to Frank Sinatra’s heart-shaped pizzas, this index is brimming with morsels to explore. More from Tedium at the link above.

Saturday, 25 March 2023

modern day presidential (10. 634)

In yet another instance of not being able to distinguish parody from real politic and propaganda, satire from sincerity, Trump has chosen Waco, Texas, announcing the from podium that the 2024 vote as “the final battle,” as the venue to kick off his campaign for re-election—ostensibly picked for its proximity for the state’s population centres (the vicinity was picked for the location of the Super Conducting Super Collider in Waxahatchie by dint of its remoteness) though coinciding with the anniversary of the massacre of Branch Davidian anti-government cult members in an armed standoff with the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, regaling the crowd with promises of retribution with menacing praise for the January Sixth insurrectionists. Provocative even by his pandering, violence-, grievance-quenching standards, the event opened with a recording by the men’s choir of incarcerated cosplay terrorists, Trump again urged “potential death and destruction,” calling on supporters to rally to protect him if charged for a hush-money payment to Stormy Daniels, by chance falling on the fifth anniversary of the tell-all interview by CBS’s 60 Minutes. Disparaging his competition within the Republican party—a select basket of deplorables—Trump promised the crowd, of indeterminate size gathered in an airplane hangar, “You will be vindicated and proud. The thugs and criminals who are corrupting our justice system will be defeated, discredited and totally disgraced.” The grand jury investigating the hush money payment reconvenes in court in New York after the weekend.

Sunday, 19 March 2023

casus belli (10. 624)

In a late night address from the Oval Office on this day in 2003, US president George W Bush, without mentioning the pretext of “weapons of mass destruction” whose rhetoric had already been established in the weeks leading up to this announcement after issuing a forty-eight hour ultimatum, committed America and allied partners to a decade of bloody and violent conflict, dearly bought with the lives of over a quarter-million Iraqi civilians, over five thousand allied combatants at a cost exceeding two-trillion dollars, causing permanent economic and credibility losses with only the military-industrial complex profiting from the violence. The preoccupation and extension of the “War on Terror” moreover significantly contributed to the loss of the fragile uni-polar world order and led to the ascendance of China as a world power and the undelivered democratic reforms of the Russian Federation due to the years of focus spared for this crusade. After the “shock and awe” and following his cabinet’s over-confidence that this adventure would be decisive and over in “five days or five weeks or five months” as defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Bush would appear in military fatigues (very much the image of his nemesis, Saddam Hussein) less than a scant two months later on the deck of an aircraft carrier to deliver his “Mission Accomplished” speech. The allied Iraqi army was disbanded, fuelling a counter-insurgency that made the ultimate US withdrawal a protracted one, resulting in civil war and a would-be caliphate unleashing more terror and displacement regionally and globally.

Thursday, 16 March 2023

male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest (10. 613)

As Florida governor and presidential hopeful DeSantis continues his pandering crusade against queer, trans and non-conforming individuals by revoking a Miami flagship hotel’s liquor license for hosting a holiday drag show, citing a prohibition of “lascivious exhibition” in front of audiences aged younger than sixteen in the interest of safeguarding the innocence of children, the state of Tennessee is enacting a new law to criminalise public cabaret performances. Much like Mike Pence’s personal-cum-policy conviction not to dine with another woman without the presence of Mother, legislators responsible for this grossly mischaracterise drag shows as something overly-sexualised and obscene to politicise it but there are plenty of voices that refuse to be silenced or to be again marginalised and ostracised. More at the links above.

Sunday, 12 March 2023

truman doctrine (10. 607)

Introduced to the US Congress on this day in 1947—prompted by crises in Greece, a violent uprising by the national Communist party partially funded by neighbouring Yugoslavia and Tรผrkiye, under pressure from the Soviet Union to allow its ships passage from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean and the Long Telegram by George F Kennan of the previous year—President Harry S Truman, with the assistance of Secretary of State George Marshall (previously) and undersecretary Dean Acheson, outlining his “domino theory” in grave terms, secured Republican buy-in and ensured funding for his foreign policy objectives. In an address before a joint session of Congress which was generally well-received by the public, Truman said, “I believe it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures. I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way. I believe that our help should be primarily through economic and financial aid which is essential to economic stability and orderly political processes.” Couched in the context of the broader Cold War, the expansive and highly publicised commitment of the Truman Doctrine established precedent for the next four decades of siding with anticommunist forces and regimes all over the world no matter how antithetical and opposed they were to the democratic image that America wanted to promote and form military alliances against the USSR and confederates.

Saturday, 11 March 2023

fifty-fifth statue at large (10. 605)

After over a decade of isolationism and avoidance of foreign entanglement and narrowly passed in the houses of Congress chiefly split along party lines—with Republicans mostly disfavouring the proposal or approving conditionally—the Lend-Lease act was signed into law by US president Franklin D Roosevelt to provide military and materiel aid to first Britain and China on this day in 1941, later extended to other Allied nations France and the Soviet Union. Effectively ending the United States’ pretence of neutrality and non-intervention spurred by the Great Depression and the outlays of participation in the Great War, the act allowed for the “sale, transfer of title, exchange, lease, lend of otherwise dispose of, to any such government—whose defence the president deems vital to the defence of the United States—any defensive article.” Fifty destroyers were transfer to the Royal Navies of the UK and Canada in exchange for the right to establish bases in the Caribbean, Newfoundland and England. Many of these ships were transferred on to the USSR in 1944, the terms of the agreement being that the goods could be used until exhausted, returned and repatriated or destroyed. All countries reciprocated with Reverse Lend-Lease by supplying the US with components or raw materials. Over one billion dollars was allocated (close to $800 billion by present reckoning) with the Soviet Union discharging its debt in 1971 and the UK repaying its loans in 2006.

Tuesday, 7 March 2023

antebellum (10. 597)

Miss Cellania directs our attention towards a substantial essay and exploration of scenes cut from the David O Selznick’s cinematic 1939 adaptation of Gone With the Wind by film historian and collector David Vincent Kimel. Writing for The Ankler, Kimel’s research uncovers a suite of lost scenes from the working-copy of the director’s assiduously organised ‘Rainbow Script’ that not only document Selznick’s struggle with the inclusion of racist descriptions and stereotypes but also his ultimate deletion of scenes that show Rhett Butler’s suicidal ideation, privation and looting, and a number of vignettes illustrating the mistreatment of enslaved individuals on Scarlett’s family plantation whose rawness frankly do not romanticise slavery and the Old South. It is impossible to say how their inclusion might have limned public reception and perception of one of the most celebrated and disgraced projects of the industry and their cutting is an indictment more than anything reflective and rehabilitating but it is nonetheless fascinating read into the early drafts and the pageantry and promotion surrounding the premier in Atlanta, Georgia.

Wednesday, 22 February 2023

tratado de adams-onรญs (10. 565)

Also known as the Florida Purchase, the agreement that ceded the peninsular territory to the United States and defined the border between the USA and New Spain, a continual point of contention, was signed on this day in 1819 and going into effect two years later, it came at a time when Florida was becoming a liability and indefensible for the colonial power (see also) and amidst of wars of independence in Latin America. Negotiated by John Quincy Adams, then Secretary of State under President James Monroe and the diplomatic envoy of King Ferdinand VII, Luis de Onรญs y Gonzรกlez-Vara, it was considered a decisive if not exploitative victory for the US, having already annexed the western part of the territory and the counter-intuitive support for the break-away province of the State of Muskogee, briefly tolerated as a refuge for escaped enslaved people, Native American organisers and outlaws massing in Spanish Florida as a destabilising factor until their purpose was served.

Sunday, 19 February 2023

7x7 (10. 559)

wolf-whistle: the lexical corpus of canines and US supreme court justices  

deportment: how to act around books  

meres, lochs and llyns: regional variations in names for alleys and narrow walkways in the UK  

linkboy: living in a Dark Sky area, we enjoyed reading about the first town’s to be certified embracing that honour—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links—which is also the source of the expression ‘cannot hold a candle to’ 

official state crap: legislature of New Mexico introduces a bill to create a state aroma, the first of its kind 

cher and charo: a duet of “America” from West Side Story—see previously  

nachtrรคglichkeit: Jude Stewart on sticking with German and the pursuit on bilingualism

Friday, 17 February 2023

panopticon (10. 552)

Though I am very much enjoying working remotely and spending time with the dog, I do miss my former fifteen-minute city, well connected with a good train service for the commute to the office and everything else immanently walkable, and was quite taken aback—though I suppose we should regard everything as commodifiable and subject to exploit—to learn, via Web Curios (lots to see there, as every week), that the benign and beneficial civil engineering priority that’s taken root on the other side of the Atlantic as well as being remediated and reenforced in places originally planned that way is the subject of conspiracy theorists, calling the changes to urban zoning an open-air prison with denizens at first coerced and then tethered to their well if not adequately apportioned neighbourhoods. While such layouts have proven timeless over time, there’s expected to be a short-term backlash to change when we stop catering to automobiles and sprawl.