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.

Friday, 27 January 2023

paris peace accords (10. 500)

Negotiations finalised between Lรช ฤแปฉc Thแป and Henry Kissinger on 24 January and nearly derailed the day before by the Battle of Cแปญa Viแป‡t, the treaty officially known as the Agreement of Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Viet Nam (Hiแป‡p ฤ‘แป‹nh vแป chแบฅm dแปฉt chiแบฟn tranh, lแบญp lแบกi hรฒa bรฌnh แปŸ Viแป‡t Nam) was signed on this day in 1973 at the Hรดtel Majestic on Avenue Klรฉber in the XVIe arrondissement by representatives of the governments of the United States, the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) and the Republic of South Vietnam (the Provisional Revolutionary Government, representing South Vietnamese communists). All US and allied forces agreed to complete withdrawal in exchange for the release of prisoners-of-war, with all parties acceding to an immediate cease-fire, the establishment of council of national reconciliation, a peaceful reunification free of foreign interference, withdrawal of foreign troops from Cambodia and Laos and financial aid from the US for war-ravaged Indochina. Despite also securing a commitment from America to replace materiel and armaments on a one-by-one basis, congressional support for further appropriations evaporated and lapsing during the Watergate scandal, North Vietnam made their final offensive operations in April of 1975, precipitating the fall of Saigon and the capitulation of the Republic of Vietnam.

Tuesday, 24 January 2023

annex and honours (10. 494)

Occupied by elements of the US Army’s Eighth Infantry Regiment under the leadership of General Henry Tureman Allen, who recognising its historic and aesthetic value successfully argued its preservation over planned destruction of the strategic fortress, the American flag was lowered at noon at Ehrenbreitstein above Koblenz, the headquarters of American forces during the Occupation of the Rhineland, on this day in 1923 as the last remaining troops departed by train to the port of Antwerp. The band of the one-hundred fifty sixth French Infantry played them out with the “Star-Spangled Banner” and themselves in with “La Marseillaise,” the French taking on the role through 1930. With a flourish of being unstuck in time, the image is of the same flag from this first occupation being raised again in the courtyard of the fortress in 1945 when Allied troops once again were stationed in the demilitarised zone.

Sunday, 22 January 2023

410 u.s. 113 (10. 487)

On this day in 1973, overturning bans by individual state jurisdictions during the first three months of pregnancy on a woman’s right to reproductive autonomy, the US Supreme Court under the leadership of Warren Burger, in a seven to two vote, rendered its verdict on Roe v Wade, with the prevailing argument that such restrictions deprive women of liberties absent recourse to due process. For nearly a half century afterwards, there legal challenges and modifications that arose with the divide between anti-abortion and pro-choice factions until the court of Chief Justice John Roberts overruled settled law by hearing the case of Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organisation.

Friday, 20 January 2023

entente, dรฉtente (10. 482)

NATO leaders and affiliates met on the US Air Base in Ramstein with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss continued commitment to arming the beleaguered nation against Russian incursion and again press donor countries on the issue of the delivery of tanks and other heavy armaments. The US and Germany (newly minted Defence Minister Boris Pistorius on his second day on the job) unwilling to pledge either their Abrams tanks or their Leopard 2 Panzer (many European militaries are equipped with this German-made assault vehicle but cannot export them without German consent) and waiting for the other party to make the first move. This coyness is continued in the argument that stocks of the Soviet era weapons that Ukrainian forces are accustomed to are running low and that Western models are notoriously fussy, high maintenance and require specialised training to operate, but conceals the more salient factor of firing range that puts Russian territory within reach and could swiftly escalate the conflict already characterised as a proxy war between NATO and Russia on one side and dread hesitation on the other.

Monday, 16 January 2023

9x9 (10. 424)

j.t. iv: the compilation “Cosmic Lightning” of a tragically forgotten outsider rock artist  

tees valley: a dialect map of England from the University of Leeds  

bundesministerin der verteidigung: German defence secretary steps down  

courtlife: Queen Victoria’s illustrated journals—see also—via Messy Nessy Chic  

mlk: Stevie Wonder’s campaign to make Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday a national holiday  

wef: global leaders gather in Davos buona sera: actor, photojournalist and sex symbol Gina Lollobrigida passes away, aged 95 

scare-fox: accidentally Art Brรปt predator-deterrent  

atomic rooster: a classic from the spin-off band of Crazy World of Arthur Brown

Sunday, 8 January 2023

fourteen points (10. 398)

Delivered in an address to Congress, outlining his administrations aims for the war and negotiated settlement, US president Woodrow Wilson on this day in 1918 enumerated his principles for peace, having rather reluctantly joining the Triple Entente against the Central Powers the spring prior due to Germany’s disruption of transatlantic shipping and trade (II) with France and Britain and the interception of a secret diplomatic communication proposing an alliance between Mรฉxico and Germany. Adopting progressive, domestic practises as foreign policy goals—though regarded by allies as a touch naive and idealistic—Wilson derided secret treaties (I) and championed free trade (III), public agreements, democratic hallmarks and above all self-determination, decolonisation (V) and recognition of national ambitions as a preventative measure of realising those aspirations through violence. Other bullet points covered arms reduction (IV), sovereignty for constituent Soviet republics (VI), restoration of Belgium, Balkan and French territories (VII, XI, VIII), redrawing Italian, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman borders along lines of nationality (IX,X, XII), an independent Poland (XIII) and supranational organisation to enforce political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike (XIV), a covenant that would eventually lead to the establishment of the League of Nations and its successors.

Saturday, 7 January 2023

118th congress (10. 392)

After a historic fifteen rounds of voting, surpassing gridlock and internecine opposition not seen since 1923 and before that the American civil war, nearly coming to blows in a Friday night standoff that coincided with the anniversary of the Capitol insurrection, ill-tempered negotiations and a tranche of regrettable concessions, Kevin McCarthy was appointed Speaker of the House and was able to officially convene government and swear in elected members. The rather menacing photograph is an incoming call from the GOP presidential candidate, DT, being brought to one of the party delegates during the final ballot, waved away unanswered as the situation was chaotic enough already.

Friday, 6 January 2023

the four freedoms (10. 390)

On this day in 1941, US president Franklin D Roosevelt delivered his State of the Union Address, articulating four fundamental and universal guarantees vouch-saved for all of humanity. Breaking with the long-standing tradition of non-interventionism with foreign wars and nearly a year before the attack of Pearl Harbor and the Philippines, FDR pressed for a greater role in aiding allied forces already under siege through the lens of national security and self-interest.
Enumerating the benefits of the democratic system, the speech highlights the importance of economic security in the face of precarity as a counter-balance to the regression towards nationalism and belligerence.

Thursday, 5 January 2023

red ripple (10. 388)

One consequence of the bare majority that Republicans secured in the US Mid-Term elections in the Red Wave that wasn’t, a lead of only four members of congress, means that the extremist right wing factions, despite being in the minority have outsized influence in negotiating party allegiance and have effectively rendered the lower chamber powerless by begrudging the body’s leadership role through a series of eight, unprecedented failed ballots. Though we’ve no affection for the Trump sycophant Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, absent this key leadership role, Speaker of the House, newly elected congressional representatives cannot be confirmed, committees, like those responsible for national security, cannot be formed—much less legislation introduced.

Tuesday, 3 January 2023

food fair and pantry pride (10. 385)

Via Messy Nessy Chic, we are directed to a rather venerable resource on US and Canadian supermarket chains from the 1920s through the present—with a special and detailed emphasis on franchise structure, locations and incarnations over the decades. Groceteria is not an exhaustive survey of every municipal and region chain but features extensive histories, a blog and updates of note and a repository of changing commerce and tastes.

Monday, 2 January 2023

you’re on mute (10. 382)

Guilty of restoring to a zealous “absolutely” myself when question is a binary one and not a gauge of enthusiasm, we can fully get behind this banished words list put out annually by the faculty of Lake Superior State University in Michigan—in a tradition that dates back to 1976 as a curative declaration again misuse, overuse and redundancy. Culling from a thousand entries submitted yearly—past examples including “classic,” “viable alternative,” “zeroise,” “no worries,” “bespoke,” ♥︎ and strangely in 1985 the German phrase “in der Tat” (indeed) in 1985, those retired or otherwise banned for 2023 also include GOAT and inflection point, as well as some contenders for words of the year, like quiet quitting and gaslighting.

Wednesday, 28 December 2022

4-f (10. 367)

Conscription into the in the US military effectively ended on this day in 1972 when Richard Nixon declared a national day of mourning due to the death of President Harry S Truman, shuttering most federal offices and preventing the on-boarding of draftees. The policy lapsed and was not renewed. Still all male citizens and residents between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five are required to register and be subject (deferments and exemptions notwithstanding) to induction into the armed forces.

Wednesday, 21 December 2022

ultra vivres (10. 351)

Though it might be a big ask and imposition to encourage people to listen to this very excellent podcast from Rachel Maddow what with the holidays and the historical echo of the January Sixth Committee having just adjourned for the final time, it is decidedly worth one’s time and attention, regardless of polity, to explore how America nearly experienced a violent insurrection and backed fascism over eighty years ago and picking sides for World War II. The title of the series, well summarised in this tune by Woody Guthrie, refers not to arch-conservatives but rather a justice department official going beyond his scope of practise with a duty to warn.

Tuesday, 20 December 2022

schnappschรผsse vom krieg (10. 346)

Born this day in 1922 and still taking pictures, Michelantonio “Tony” Celestino Onofrio Vaccaro immigrated back to the US to avoid being conscripted in Italy and despite already having an impressive photographic portfolio just out of high school his first draft assignment as a photo-documentarian with the Army Signal Corps didn’t pan out and was instead assigned as a scout, fighting in Normandy, Luxembourg and Germany—though still affording opportunities to shoot images, evocative impressions of the front captured in 1944 and 1945. After being discharged, Vaccaro remained in Germany, contributing to the Army newspaper Stars & Stripes and recording life post-war in Frankfurt. Returning to America in the early 1950s, Vaccaro took assignments with Look, Life and Flair magazines as a society photographer, marrying a model for fashion house Marimekko, and after a decades’-long stint teaching at Cooper Union published a selection of his extensive wartime archive, under the imprint Entering Germany: Photographs 1944 – 1949. Click here for a gallery of Vaccaro’s diverse subjects.

Friday, 16 December 2022

verse chorus verse (10. 388)

Released as a live double-album the following November after the death of singer Kurt Cobain, Nirvana’s Unplugged session—not wholly acoustic and unlike previous performances featured cover songs and lesser-known material and accomplished in a single take—MTV first aired the studio concert on this day in 1993. Acclaimed as transcend and retrospectively as a requiem, the album was certified multiplatinum and consistently ranks among the greatest records of all time.

Friday, 9 December 2022

data dump (10. 373)

Although unashamedly US-centric, the just-published Year in Search retrospective from Google nonetheless yields some insights for this past year and our collective engagement with the news and trends. 

It seems that we were less interested in chasing memes and more focused on the news and an interesting feature (America only apparently) allows one to find popular search terms locally. There are several categories–plants, pets, people–of analytics to parse and contrast and the top ten searches (with apparent recency bias) worldwide were: 

  • Wordle
  • India vs England
  • Ukraine
  • Queen Elizabeth
  • Ind vs SA
  • World Cup
  • India vs West Indies
  • iPhone 14
  • Jeffrey Dahmer
  • Indian Premier League

The top news queries were: Ukraine, Queen Elizabeth’s passing, Election Results, Powerball Numbers and Monkeypox. More at the links above.

Thursday, 8 December 2022

we are programmed to receive (10. 371)

Released by the label Asylum on this day in 1976, the Eagles’ fifth studio album would go on over the years to become one of the highest ranked records of all time, certified twenty-six times Platinum in the US alone and selling over thirty-two million copies worldwide and within the year alone winning several Grammy awards and bested only by Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, the title track as well as “New Kid in Town” and “Life in the Fast Lane” receiving many accolades. The concept album features a throughline of songs, lyrics chiefly written by Don Henley with contributions from Glenn Frey, that explore ideals realised and thwarted and the loss of that sense of naivetรฉ that things balance out in the end. Despite remarkable commercial success, the band’s best selling album remains Their Greatest Hits (1971 – 1975).

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.

Saturday, 26 November 2022

solange der vorrat reich (10. 335)

An Aldi native and a long-time shopper though I tend to patronise other grocery stores within walking distance or at the terminals of my commute, I had never heard of the term ‘Aisle of Shame’ and felt a bit personally affronted until reading on that there was a community of fellow enthusiasts of this ever-refreshed and replenishing smรถrgรฅsbord in the central row of food and non-food items available as long as supplies last. Not savouring the task of grocery shopping, I appreciate this serendipity incubator and the cult status accorded to these bargain bins of seasonal and limited edition merchandise and will go specifically to check them out.