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

Friday, 30 September 2022

qualifying life event (10. 179)

Via Waxy, videographer Brian David Gilbert, American with lapsed health coverage commissioned Louie Zong to compile a retro treasury of corporate music (see also) as accompaniment to his expert, genuinely helpful explainer (and insightful indictment) of the dread and kafkaesque jargon and fraught terminology of the US insurance industry as an aid for the next hapless soul to find themselves in this situation.

Thursday, 22 September 2022

potus (10. 157)

Premiering on this day in 1999 on NBC and running for seven seasons with two specials, the serial political drama created by Aaron Sorkin with ensemble cast including Stockard Channing, Allison Janney, Rob Lowe, Moira Kelly, Martin Sheen, Dulรฉ Hill, Bradley Whitford and Janel Moloney The West Wing covered the fictitious administration of US President Josiah Bartlet. Showered with accolades including two Peabodys, three Golden Globes and twenty-six Emmys, the series ranks among the best television shows ever produced. The short segment from the pilot episode shows the first occurrence of Sorkin’s signature ”walk and talk” expository technique.

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

guardians of the galaxy (10. 154)

Via Neatorama contributor Miss Cellania, we are treated to newly released song of America’s newest military branch, the Space Force (previously). It’s right to lampoon the idea that a rousting, jaunty anthem engenders cohesion and raises moral and completes the ethos and thought it was an apt comment to call it a TV sitcom theme tune composed by John Philip Souza, but as someone who regularly has to hear and occasion sing-along with the “The Army Goes Rolling Along”—and rarely “Anchors Aweigh”—Valley Forge, Custer’s ranks / San Juan Hill and Patton’s Tanks… Then it’s Hi-Hi-Hey! / The Army’s on its way, I would have to concede Semper Supra (we hope they are never given the occasion to add a verse with specific battles) fits in with the rest of the branches’ anthems. What do you think?

Saturday, 17 September 2022

norton i (10. 143)

Resident of San Francisco and at one point being one of the richest citizens of the city after some successful real estate speculation and commodities trades—though through over-estimating his acumen and downplaying the role of luck, overplayed his hand on a shipment of rice (due to a famine in China), precipitating a collapse in the market, Joseph Abraham Norton, originally from Deptford, England and growing up in South Africa, declared himself Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico on this day in 1859, coincidentally the anniversary of the signing of the US constitution in Philadelphia in 1787. After bankruptcy in 1852, unsuccessful in rebuffing his debtors, Norton faded from public notice as a business magnate and grew increasingly cynical about local and federal governance—launching a failed bid for congress. In his adopted hometown, however, Norton returned with a flourish first issuing a manifesto in the San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin that broadly outlined the “national crisis,” in his summation, and how to address it, and second—in the same publication, decreeing: 

At the peremptory request and desire of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I, Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now for the last 9 years and 10 months past of San Francisco, California, declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these United States; and in virtue of the authority thereby in me vested, do hereby order and direct the representatives of the different States of the Union to assemble in Musical Hall, of this city, on the 1st day of February next, then and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is labouring, and thereby cause confidence to exist, both at home and abroad, in our stability and integrity. 

— NORTON I., Emperor of the United States. 

Orders and summons were ignored by the US congress and the armed forces, but Norton’s reign was received with tolerance and bemusement to genuine affection by some fellow residents who continue to embrace his legacy and even token recognition by the local establishments that Norton frequented that accepted his currency and even by the federal government that allowed him to enter his occupation as “Emperor.” A trust established in 1939 and continuing through the present day have petitioned naming the Bay Bridge in honour of Norton I, his imminence having suggested that a span be built linking Oakland and San Francisco as early as 1872.

s1:e1 (10. 140)

On this day in 1972, the CBS television network first aired its dark-comedy series—based on the 1970 feature film—about a team of doctors and ancillary staff stationed at the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in Uijeongbu during the Korean War. The first episodes, set in 1950, were broadcast while the US was still mired in the Vietnam War and were presented as the most careful kind of allegory, detached yet openly questioning the proxy wars of the Cold War and the value of offensive ideology. The ensemble cast included (by rank) Henry Blake McLean Stevenson (thanks, Dad), Loretta Swit, Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers, Gary Burghoff and Jamie Farr and the show became less political and more character-driven after 1975 and the withdrawal of US troops—also removing the controversial laugh-track of earlier seasons.

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

goodnight john-boy (10. 132)

Having debuted the prior year with a Christmas Special (see also), the historical drama The Waltons was released by the CBS network on this day in 1972. Running for nine seasons until 1981, the series relates the story about a family in rural Virginia during the Great Depression and World War II (1933—1946) and is based on Earl Hamner’s semi-autobiographical novel Spencer’s Mountain. Hamner also contributes the opening and closing narration for each episode as the eldest son grown-up. After its cancellation, a rival network produced a string of made for television reunion movies before CBS reclaimed the franchise with three more specials in the mid-1990s. Below is a thirty-second synopsis of the pilot with all episodes similarly summarised.

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

Friday, 9 September 2022

interstate love song (10. 119)

Released on this day in 1994 and topping the US charts just a week later, the Stone Temple Pilots single ranks as one of the best hard rock songs of all time. Borrowing chord-progression from the 1973 Jim Croce hit I Got a Name, the power ballad dealt with the singer and songwriter Scott Weiland (*1967 - †2015) hiding his heroine addiction and how those who cared about him would receive his cover-up: “Waiting on a Sunday afternoon for what I read between the lines—your lies—feeling like a hand in rusted chain, so do you laugh or does it cry? Reply!”

Wednesday, 7 September 2022

peace, little girl (10. 113)

Although airing only once--on this day in 1964 (Labour Day and shown at a time when children would not be watching) as part of the US presidential campaign for incumbent Lyndon B Johnson—“Daisy” played an outsized role in his victory over the Republican party’s candidate Barry Goldwater as well as signaling a point of departure in political messaging. Aimed to emphasise Goldwater’s inclination to use nuclear weapons in Vietnam and stance against disarmament and re-enforce Johnson’s pacifist approach, the advertisement depicts child model and actor Monique Corzililus picking flowers in a meadow and counting, out of order, from one to nine, triggering a booming narrator to start a countdown, cutting to footage of a mushroom count and ending “The stakes are too high for you to stay home.” Corzililus, who also appeared in commercials for Velveeta, Kool-Aid and Prudential Life Insurance, was recruited in 2016 by Hilary Clinton for an advertisement against Donald Trump. Johnson’s voiceover that precedes the final exhortation “These are the stakes—to make a world in which all of God’s children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die” echoes the line of the W H Auden poem “September 1, 1939”—Hunger allows no choice / To the citizen or the police; / We must love one another or die.

Friday, 2 September 2022

7x7 (10. 106)

homesteading: a survey of the extraterrestrial real estate market 

music to moog by: a DIY Theramin from Linus ร…kesson—see previously  

enhanced pat-down: twenty years of Homeland Security and America’s penchant for security theatre  

battleship island: an exploration of the now deserted speck of land that fuelled Japan’s industrial revolution, most the most densely populated place on Earth

sampo: more on the epic MacGuffin from Finnish lore—see also  

posture pals: exercises to combat computer slouch  

extremely well-planned void: a Greek Revival property in Denton County, Texas—see previously

unquote (10. 104)

Though not wholly spurious, the attribution does seem a bit suspect—verging on the never said ever, but in a rebuttal given on this day in 1858 during the series of Lincoln-Douglas debates hosted in Clinton, Illinois, the statesman sort of said, maybe “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.” There is a distinct lack of reliable contemporaneous notes but if Abraham Lincoln said it at all, he said something more to the effect: “Judge Douglas cannot fool the people: you may fool people for a time; you can fool a part of the the people all the time; but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

Wednesday, 31 August 2022

what can a poor boy do but sing in a rock & roll band? (10. 100)

Released on this day as a single from their Beggars Banquet album that came out in December of 1968, “Street Fighting Man” is considered The Rolling Stones most contentious and political song. Originally recorded as “Did Everyone Pay Their Dues?” with the same powerful acoustic guitar riffs and drumset set to very different lyrics, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were inspired by an anti-war rally at the US Embassy in London where twenty-five thousand had gathered and parallel events in Paris that led to the unrest of May of that summer. Its premier in America was marred by the coincidence of violence and protests during the Democratic National Convention held in Chicago, with most radio stations refusing to play the song for fear it would incite a riot.

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

tube alloys (10. 097)

Commencing before the Manhattan Project (which ultimately subsumed their efforts) and with the intentionally misleading codename, the joint United Kingdom and Canadian programme to develop nuclear weapons was approved in secret by Winston Churchill on this day in 1941—the first national leader to do so—the scientific consensus acknowledging the potential explosiveness of nuclear fission and the “atom bomb” was firmly ensconced in the popular imagination thanks to the 1913 novel by H G Wells, The World Set Free. Researchers working on Tube Alloys made the crucial discovery that just a few kilogrammes (rather than a quantity of several tonnes) of uranium isotope was sufficient to sustain the chain-reaction and propelled the race for armaments. The preceding working group, the MAUD committee, formed to study the feasibility of making a nuclear weapon and nuclear-generated power, was named after a strange last line in a telegram from Niels Bohr to Otto Robert Frisch (credited with discovery of fission along with Lise Meitner) then working at the University of Birmingham just after the Nazi invasion of Denmark, “Tell Cockcroft and Maud Ray Kent.” The recipient believed it might have been a coded message regarding the imminent development of atomic weapons—an anagram for “radyum taken.” Although it turned out that the physicist was wanting to get in touch with his housekeeper, Maud Ray from Kent, the enigmatic name stuck. Subsequent transatlantic cooperation and pooling of resources forged the Special Relationship (often tested and contentious) between the UK and the US.

sweetheart of the rodeo (10. 096)

The sixth studio album by The Byrds, released on this day in 1968, represented a significant departure from the band’s signature, psychedelic sound and featuring the additional talents Gram Parsons was not commercially well received, alienating some fans with this decidedly outlaw country bend—as well as the establishment in Nashville who felt they were being encroached upon by these subversive outsiders—but has had an oversized legacy in terms of establishing the genre and introducing it to audiences, reviving and sustaining the style at Country’s nadir for US and UK audiences. Originally conceived as an exploration, an anthology of the past century of popular American music, featuring Jazz, Gospel, Rock, Rhythm and Blues and several other genres, Parsons convinced the group to produce a strictly Country album.

Monday, 22 August 2022

and here we have idaho (10. 077)

Occupied by native peoples since at least the past ten thousand years and the subject of a territorial dispute between British America and the United States, the state cleaved from Oregon territory in the Pacific Northwest—with the above anthem—has quite jarringly (though I suppose not surprisingly) a wholly fabricated name. Lobbyist, prospector, fraudster (partnering with the baronet of Arizona) and putative physician George Maurice “Doc” Willing was a unrecognised delegate championing the creation of the State of Jefferson in the Midwest and in 1860 suggested the name for the successor region created from existing territories, claiming it was a Shoshone expression for “gem of the mountains”—now the state motto, but no such term existed in the newe taikwappeh language (representation is important and the widest known Shoshone word ought not to be an infamous, fake one that some white settler made up). Recanting years afterwards, Willing offered that he was inspired to name the area after a girl named Ida—though that statement was never verified either. The US Congress wanted to name the whole Rocky Mountain region Colorado Territory instead of using one completely fabricated—there was some resistance to employing a foreign, Spanish toponym as well—but as Idaho Springs was already incorporated as well as a eponymous county and a namesake steamship christened, the US government let the name stay.

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.

Monday, 15 August 2022

private equity (10. 064)

Reinforcing the reality that the US is the biggest tax haven, the carried interest loophole, whose perennial but feeble attempts at reform nearly cost the US government and people a significant legislative win in terms of environmental protection and financial recovery, represents the bonus cut an investment manager—arguably a fee earned for enhancing the performance of stock portfolio—which are not in America taxed as regular earnings. Although the concept dates back to the sixteenth century and the age of colonialism—ships’ captains taking a share of profits ultimately earned on goods carried or transported as a way to build and maintain boat and crew and avoiding the prohibition against usurious loans, the idea was not codified, incentivised until 1913 and the explosion of domestic hydrocarbon exploration. Applying a lesser tax liability to the explorers’ profit (versus the share that the partners received) based on the above reasoning that the explorers were also shouldering a risk if their venture was unsuccessful, the immediate returns were classified as capital gains and due to the difficulty of assessing future value, taxes on carried interest can be deferred until cashed out. This is why poor-mouthing billionaires take out successive loans rather than reify their worth on paper. Moreover, with this continued concession to current regulations, wealth managers, hedge fund operators and the like are able to further exploit the returns on an investment above and beyond their individual exposure to the total profits earned by gambling with other people’s money, taxed at about half what earners in a much lower income bracket would be liable for.

Saturday, 13 August 2022

na-na, na-na, na-na, na-na-na-na now (10. 056)

Probably better known for “(That’s the Way) I Like It” and “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty”—but this is a fun one too—the band hailing from Hialeah, Florida—the Sunshine State registered at the top of UK singles charts, the band’s first and only number one in Britain (where it became a popular sporting chant) a decade after the group formed, with “Give It Up” this day in 1983, the lead track from their ninth studio album All in a Night’s Work. Released internationally just earlier in the month and facing quite a cultural backlash against disco at the beginning of the decade, the song was regarded as a comeback hit for KC and the Sunshine Band and one of the last first-wave reverberations of the genre.

Friday, 12 August 2022

tin lizzy (10. 054)

Designed by the engineering team of Joseph Galamb, Eugene Farkas and Childe Harold Wills and hailed as the United States entrรฉe into the modern machine era, the first Ford Model T was built on this day in 1908 at the Piquette Avenue Plant in Detriot—leaving the factory at the end of the following month. Proceeding through the alphabet sequentially starting with Model A in 1903, though not all vehicles went into production, Henry Ford ended the series here with the first mass-produced automobile, using an assembly line (though credit for the concept is owed to Ransom E Olds) and interchangeable, standardised parts—marketed to a growing middle class that was in the reach of most. Just under fifteen-million were produced (a record not surpassed until the Volkswagen Beetle in and within a decade over half the cars on American roads were Model T, and while Ford’s pronouncement to his managers, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black,” was not apocryphal during the first four years of production only green, grey, blue and red was available