Saturday, 28 January 2023

gang nach kanossa (10. 505)

Absolved and seeing his excommunication overturned, Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV completed his ritual submission with his long journey from Speyer on the Road to Canossa on this day in 1077, humbling himself before Pope Gregory VII at a villa in Tuscany where the papal entourage was staying as guests. <Supplicating on his hands and knees while a blizzard raged for three days and nights before the Pope relented, Henry arrived with precious little time to spare as the Pope had deposed him during a Lenten synod in 1076 and vouchsafed that one year from that day, his loss of kingships would become irrevocable. Henry’s excommunication and forced abdication stemmed from the ongoing Investiture Controversy, a dispute over the precedence in civil and ecclesiastical authorities in appointing bishops and local clergy, whose loyalties could potentially either church or state, exacerbated after the suppression of the Saxon Uprising and the unilateral elevation of the bishopric of Milan with obedience to secular power—Henry being the Italian monarchy as well. In modern parlance, “going to Canossa” has become an idiom for mission of contrition—usually of the coerced kind, and though a colourful moment, it did not achieve political goals for either party, a rebellion stoked by the archbishops of Salzburg, Mainz and Magdeburg over loss of confidence in his leadership sparked a civil war within the Empire despite the Pope vows for support led to Gregory excommunicating Henry a second time, who having won the conflict, invaded Rome and replaced the fleeing Gregory with Antipope Clement III.

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.

Friday, 30 December 2022

cccp/cpcp (10. 371)

While recognised as a union of soviet republics since 1919 with a federated, central government based in Moscow, the Soviet Union as it existed (though borders were not static during the seventy-two year period) until its dissolution in 1991 came into being effective this day in 1922 after the signing of the Treaty on the Creation of the Union Soviet Socialist Republics (ะ”ะตะบะปะฐั€ะฐั†ะธั ะธ ะดะพะณะพะฒะพั€ ะพะฑ ะพะฑั€ะฐะทะพะฒะฐะฝะธะธ ะกะพัŽะทะฐ ะกะพะฒะตั‚ัะบะธั… ะกะพั†ะธะฐะปะธัั‚ะธั‡ะตัะบะธั… ะ ะตัะฟัƒะฑะปะธะบ), negotiated and approved by delegations from the Russian, Byelorussian, Transcauscasian (containing Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia) and Ukrainian SSRs. The preamble and twenty-six articles outlines the imperative of forging a union as a counterweight to the political ideology of responsible for the Great War through exploitative capitalism, colonialism cultural hegemony with a transnational society based on mutual trust, solidarity and cooperation.

Thursday, 22 December 2022

rzฤ…d rzeczypospolitej polskiej na uchodลบstwie (10. 354)

Established in 1939 after the invasion and annexation by the Nazis in September 1939 and exerting considerable influence diplomatically and militarily throughout World War II and subsequent occupation by German and Soviet forces which effectively ended the Second Polish Republic, the government-in-exile, first based in Paris and Angers and following the Fall of France, continued its caretaker role—albeit it with waning internation recognition after the formation of the Provisional Government of National in 1945, opposed by the majority of the diaspora as demonstrative democracy and the chance for Communists to assert power—a suspicion that proved correct, until its dissolution on this day in 1990, when president in exile Ryszard Kaczorowski passed the responsibilities, constitution and state seals to Lech Waล‚ฤ™sa of Poland’s Third Republic during a special ceremony at the royal palace of Warsaw.

Sunday, 11 December 2022

projekt panropa (10. 378)

Having previously been acquainted with the monumental madness by Bauhaus, utopian architect Hermann Sรถrgel and his plans to dam and drain the sea to make one vast arable expanse from southern Europe through north Africa, we were quite pleased to come across this illustrated 1929 pamphlet “Lowering the Mediterranean / Irrigating the Sahara,” (Mittelmeer-Senkung. Sahara-Bewรคsserung) which in all fairness didn’t call for its total emptying, just enough to harness it for hydroelectric power and diminution enough to rename it after his project and promote a nascent transatlanticism to counter a perceived ascendant Asia. Of course, this titanic engineering project never left the drawing board but it nonetheless gives pause to contemplate the ideas that we do end up running with and how those inform our accomplished present trajectories. More at the links above.

Saturday, 26 November 2022

everybody comes to rick’s (10. 336)

Based on an unproduced stage play, prolific Hungarian-American filmmaker Michael Curtiz’ vision of the war time romantic drama starring Ingrid Berman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Humphrey Bogart, Sydney Greenstreet and Dooley Wilson had its premiere in the Hollywood Theatre in Manhattan on this day in 1942, the release rushed to capitalise on publicity of the Allied invasion of North Africa. Telling the story of an expatriate night club owner, a crossroads for refugees as well as enemy officers, who is forced to choose between the woman he is in love with or helping her husband, a Czechoslovakian resistance fighter escape Moroccan city controlled by the Vichy-government and continue his fight against Nazi Germany, the reception and estimation of the iconic work has grown over the decades to secure it a solid spot amongst the greatest films of all time. Much of the emotional impact for contemporary audiences was attributed to the number of exiles and refugees in principal and lesser roles—particularly in the below “duelling anthems” that elicited genuine tears with the realisation that they were all displaced. The singer, who also played guitar to “Tango de la Rosa” earlier in the movie is the uncredited Corinna Mura.

Thursday, 24 November 2022

salient factor (10. 331)

Whereas the American term panhandle or bootheel might be more prevalent in certain contexts, salient is the universal descriptor for the elongated, peninsular protrusion of a national or sub-national jurisdiction into another—in turn taken from the strategic lingo of otherwise a bulge that projects into enemy territory. While falling short of the imposition of exclaves and enclaves, notable European examples include the province of Trieste, Schaffhausen in Germany and Inn, Lugano and Mendriso in Switzerland as well as on a state or department level the Gironde and Lower Franconia with many other places vying to extend their influence.

Monday, 7 November 2022

able archer (10. 279)

The third of the annual NATO command post exercise to train Western Europe units for escalating nuclear conflict and prompted by intelligence that suggested under code-name Operation RYaN (ะ ะฏะ, “Nuclear Missile Attack,” ะ ะฐะบะตั‚ะฝะพ ะฏะดะตั€ะฝะพะต ะะฐะฟะฐะดะตะฝะธะต) a coordinated campaign to monitor decision-makers in government and military hierarchies for the intent to launch a first strike against the Soviet Union and a string of infiltration maneuvers on both sides to see to what extent that spies could penetrate the opposing sides’ defences before detection, the war game, began on this day in 1983. The added sense of realism to the execution with coded communiques and radio black-outs in light of increased rhetoric from Ronald Reagan (sabre-rattling that was taken with dread earnestness) and the scheduled delivery of additional missiles for staging in the theatre, reportedly caused some in Soviet leadership to believe that Able Archer 83 was a ruse de guerre to distract from actual preparations and placed units in Poland and East Germany on high alert and began priming their fuses. Tensions as high as during the Cuban Missile Crisis two decades earlier, the Chief of Staff for the US Air Force in Europe convinced Washington not to respond in kind, de-escalating the situation by the end of the simulation.

Tuesday, 11 October 2022

four-minute warning (10. 214)

The always excellent Maps Mania directs our attention to comprehensive map of eleven hundred declassified US nuclear targets in Eastern Europe and the USSR (see also) from a circa 1956 study of the Strategic Air Command. Clicking on any push-pin allows one to explore the potential damage done by the warhead of one’s choice–I could not press denotate even out of curiousity. The Soviets and confederates have not reciprocated with the same sort of list.

Sunday, 9 October 2022

world postal day (10.207)

The Universal Postal Union (see previously here and here) has designated this day for the annualcelebration on the anniversary of the establishment of the UPU in 1874 in Bern—the first commemorative congress called in 1969 in Tokyo. Since then, themed campaigns have been held under the auspices of this UN agency to underscore the civic importance of a reliable and accessible mail system and recognises the best postal services in a global competition.

Sunday, 2 October 2022

casus foederis (10. 190)

Foundational to the treaty and only invoked once, thankfully, on this day—confirmed by the body two days later—in 2001 by member the United States after the September 11 Terror Attacks. Parties to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation pledge to consider an attack against one to be affront to all. Operations Eagle Assist and Active Endeavour, air and shipping lane patrols, commenced once NATO determined that attacks met the threshold. Articles 7 and 8, concerned with international trade and commitments have been invoked several times, including in the Cod Wars, but have never risen to the point of a militarised dispute.

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

แˆ˜แˆตแ‰€แˆ (10. 172)

Transliterated into Latin script as Ge’ez or Cross, Ethiopian and Eritrean orthodox Tewahedo communities celebrate the fourth century discovery of the True Cross by Helen (previously) on this day, the seventeenth of Meskerem (แˆ˜แˆตแŠจแˆจแˆ), by which the holiday Meskel is known. Festivities includes the burning of a Demera—that is, a large bonfire—after the tradition that Queen Eleni, as she is called locally, was instructed in a dream that the rising smoke would guide her to spot where the relic was buried. Adherents believe that the burning symbolizes the cancellation of sins and the ultimate collapse of the wood pile has prognosticatory value to glean for the near future and like on Ash Wednesday, anoint themselves. Since 2013, Meskel has been inscribed on UNESCO’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Saturday, 24 September 2022

sub tuum praesidium (10. 163)

The veneration of the subject of art in late medieval Europe and other personalised in the form of a votive portrait—that is, when donors or patrons are included in the painting as with this work by Francisco de Zurbarรกn commissioned by a fraternity of monks, depicting a group of people sheltering under the outspread pallium of Mary, mother of Jesus (previously) is observed on this day in the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar. Our Lady of Mercy is known as Madonna della Misericordia in Italian, Virgen de la Merced in Spanish, Notre-Dame de la Merci in French and Schutzmantelmadonna in German with various local customs.

Sunday, 18 September 2022

earth below us (10. 144)

Launched just two weeks prior—and two weeks after its twin probe Voyager 2—Voyager I was able to look back and capture a composite image of the Earth and the Moon in the same frame on this day in 1977—see also here and here. The craft, though carrying payloads for the ages for some far flung intelligence to discover, were expected to only have active missions for a period of five years yet are still transmitting and even dispatching the occasional tweet over four decades later. 

 

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.

Saturday, 27 August 2022

monica of hippo (10. 089)

Protector and patron of difficult marriages, disappointing children and alcoholics, the mother of Augustine—plus Navigus and ‘Perpetua,’ all of modern-day Annaba, Algeria—is venerated in the Catholic tradition on this day as a paragon of virtue and endurance, responsible for the redemption of her son and informing the Confessions of this Doctor of the Church. A sickly child, Monica beseeched her husband, the verbally abusive and adulterous Roman consul Patricius, but Augustine’s recovery led to a quite dissolute lifestyle and having gone off to school in Carthage and returning a convert to Manichaeism, a religion that believed the third century Parthian prophet Mani was the final one following Zoroaster, the Buddha and Jesus, Monica kicked him out until a vision came to her, instructing her to reconcile their relationship. Following him to Rome, Monica eventually prevailed and convinced Augustine to convert (fรชted on the following day) to Christianity.

Friday, 26 August 2022

6x6 (10. 086)

chaoskampf: examining the mythology of dragons across cultures  

hurrian hymn № 6: learn about and listen to the oldest known song—see also  

public convenience: the best museum rest rooms curated—via Miss Cellania  

out of the fusion of two languages, two outlooks has emerged a great canadian metropolis: Montrรฉal by Night (1947) 

persepolis: a virtual tour of the ancient imperial capital (see also) from the Getty—via Maps Mania 


legendary large serpentine creatures
: a contentious ranking of the fifty best literary dragons

Tuesday, 23 August 2022

black ribbon day (10.081)

Officially the European Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Stalinism and Nazism and broadly for all who suffered under authoritarian regimes, this day was chosen for its observance as the anniversary of the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939, a treaty of non-aggression between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, which contained a secret protocol that partitioned Europe into spheres of influence. To counter historic revisionism and Russia’s categorical denial of the deal which held until 1941 as well as grave crimes, twenty one Western cities, organised chiefly by Central and Eastern European refugees living in Canada, staged the first memorial in 1986, spreading to the Baltics three years later with the Cold War-era protests eventually leading to revolution. In 2019, the European Parliament adopted the resolution to enshrine (reaffirming the formal designation of 2008) the annual observance to broadly condemn the propaganda and disinformation that would deny or glorify totalitarianism and undermines liberal democracies.

Tuesday, 5 July 2022

nansen-pass

First issued on this day in 1922 under sanction of the League of Nations—and officially designated as passports for stateless persons but quickly became popularly known for their chief champion, polar explorer, polymath and statesman Fridtjof Nansen (previously)—these travel documents were a way of mitigating the turmoil in Europe after World War I which lead to a crisis of displaced persons, refugees resulting from the overthrow of governments, redrawn national boundaries, and advanced ultimately by the announcement by the newly constituted Soviet Union that it would be revoking the citizenship of Russians residing abroad—applying also to the nearly one-million individuals who fled during the civil war. Two years later, Nansen in his role at the League of Nations as High Commissioner for Refugees (earning him a Nobel Peace Prize), expanded the arrangement tto include former areas of the Ottoman Empire and help Armenian and Turkish migrants. While issuance halted in 1938, under the auspices of the United Nations certificates of identity and refugee travel documents continue to be a necessity. Notable bearers of Nansen passports include Igor Stravinsky, Elvis Presley’s agent Colonel Tom Parker, shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, Marc Chagall and Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Wednesday, 8 June 2022

ash heap of history

In town for the Queen’s thirtieth jubilee celebrations (plus on a grand tour of the continent) and having already expressed his characterisation of the Soviet Union as an “evil empire,” Ronald Reagan delivered his Westminster Speech before the House of Commons on this day in 1982, declaiming that, “I believe we are now at a turning point…the march of freedom and democracy will leave Marxism and Leninism on the ash heap of history.” Though coined at the end of the nineteenth century by essayist and politician Augustine Birell, the last notable evocation of the phrase before Reagan’s was by Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky, referring to the Menshevik faction that staged a walk-out in protest of the All-Russian Congress of the Soviets in 1917. A full transcript of the speech can be found at the link.