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.

Friday, 27 May 2022

memorandum of understanding

Signed in Paris on this day in 1997, the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation was a declaration that included confidence-building measures and a framework for cooperation and disarmament that attempted to strike a balance between security and policy interests of both sides. Agreed upon principles included the renunciation of threat or use of force against any other state, respect of territorial integrity and political independence as well as inviolability of borders, the right self-determination and the right to choose the best means of ensuring their own security to be overseen by a joint council. Russia violated the agreement in 2008 with its war in Georgia, in 2014 with the annexation of Crimea and with the current war in Ukraine. In response to aforementioned incursions, NATO for its part has violated its pledge not to permanently station troops in new member states.

Sunday, 22 May 2022

nsibidi

Having encountered the pictographic, symbolic system of writing beforehand as the export, cultural transmission of veve via the transatlantic trade of enslaved people, we appreciated this further gloss on nsibidi used by the Ekoi, Efik and Igbo peoples of southern Nigeria, its use far from ornamental for wall and fabric designs, tattoos and calabashes, decorated gourds, and maintained as a form of communication and documentation by semi-secret societies, the everyday use of its public-facing, profane set of glyphs and secret, sacred characters (plus an extended character set reserved for the exclusive use of women—see also) is much diminished after colonial occupation. Archaeological evidence and ethnographic studies suggest that this still living and adapting script was in use as early as the fifth century AD and developmentally is as sophisticated as the more familiar hieroglyphics of the Ancient Egyptians—though without the same level of public interest or provenance.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

enmod

Signed on this day in 1977 in Geneva—the Environmental Modification Convention—formally known as the Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques—entering into force in October the following year, the international treaty—party to some eighty nations and binding for all UN members after ratification, it originally bans weather warfare to induce damage or famine. Expanded later to include instances of destructive geoengineering and modification to the atmosphere, the subject of herbicides, like Agent Orange, is contentiously unaddressed as how the framework of this convention might now be interpreted and applied to those territories most vulnerable to the effects of global warming and sea rise.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

apicius

We quite enjoyed revisiting the topic of a mysterious, most-favoured herb of Antiquity called silphium (previously)—considered a gift from Apollo and used as condiment, perfume, aphrodisiac, and seasoning and with medicinal uses ranging from anti-haemorrhoidal to contraceptive, imported into the Greek and Roman world from a narrow, microclimate in Syria that was resistant to transplantation. Over-harvesting and over-grazing coupled with climate change curried its abrupt disappearance from cupboards and medicine cabinets two millennia hence and serves as a warning best heeded about our own culinary staples and how familiar and enriching flavours and seasoning might meet the same fate. Much more at the links above.

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

็“ฆๅฐ”็‰นไฟๅซ่จๆ‹‰็ƒญ็ช

A cinematic masterwork in its own right, the film by director Hajrudin Krvavac, premiering just over a half century ago in mid-April, Walter Defends Sarajevo, stands on its own merits with intrigues, betrayals, complex characters, action sequences and an overarching message of triumph and defiance aligned with the Yugoslav ideal of harmony and inclusion in a multi-ethnic state, the film tells the story of heroic resistance to occupation in a plot to foil the Nazi forces 1945 attempt to withdraw from the Balkans and regroup, based loosely on the sacrifice of partisan leader Vladimir Peric who fought under the code name and whose real identity was unknown to the enemy, and has the distinction of being a real contender for the most viewed production of all time. Its release coinciding with the gradual introduction of foreign films and during a time of tensions between the Soviet Union and China, the censors began admitting select works—mostly documentaries from Romania, Hungary and the Yugoslav Republics—but Walter Defends Sarajevo was unique among this class and unlike what most in China had experienced beforehand. Previewed as a radio-play a generation committed the dialogue to heart before the screenings began, playing to a billion individuals over the course of a year in theatres, schools, factories and village squares. Spoiler alert: the operative of the Sicherheitsdienst deployed to capture and kill ‘Walter’ muses during the film’s iconic ending why he was never able to find his nemesis and comes to the realisation—“Sehen Sie dieses Stadt? Das ist Walter!” Still shown to the this day, its influence can be seen in the Chinese film industry.

Monday, 25 April 2022

san marco

Variously identified as the cousin of Barnabas and textually as the anonymous water-bearer of the Last Supper and the Naked Fugitive during Jesus' arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane (see also), the Mark the Evangelist, fรชted on this day, would go on to author one of the gospels—by traditional accounts—and to found the episcopal See of Alexandria, among the most important of early Christianity. Sharing the iconography of the winged lion with the saint, he is venerated in Venice as the city’s and thalassocracy’s patron and in Lithuania, where he is regarded as the guardian of the harvest and there is a general fast prescribed as a well as a prohibition on disturbing the earth as to give the land a rest before the planting season begins. 25 April is a national holiday throughout Italy, but not as Saint Mark’s Day and rather as marking the 1945 anniversary of the liberation of the country by the resistance movement against the Nazi occupation and the puppet government of the fascists.

Sunday, 24 April 2022

unpo

Founded and headquartered in the The Hague in 1991, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation was constituted to champion the marginalised with membership made of indigenous peoples, minorities and unrecognised or otherwise occupied territories with an aim of achieving political autonomy and self-determination with the rejection of violence and terrorism as tools of policy. Current localities and groups on its rolls (not without controversy and in-group dispute) are Abkhazia, Bretagne, Catalonia, the District of Colombia, Guam, the Hmong, Savoy, Sindhudesh and Tibet. Former members Palau, East Timor, Estonia, Latvia, Georgia and Armenia have attained full statehood and independence.

Thursday, 7 April 2022

extremophile

Appearing a bit like the Microsoft start button, this remarkable halophilic (salt-loving) microorganism classified as Haloquadratum walsbyi was discovered in the 1980 in briny pools on the Sinai peninsula. The single-celled creatures are virtually flat and nearly perfectly square and often form colonies of “sheets” visible to the unaided eye in order to maximise solar reception and contain tiny gas vesicles, which look like crystals, that help the cell remain buoyant and near the surface of the salty water they inhabit.

Friday, 18 March 2022

8x8

the fiume endeavour: Neutral Moresnet and other countries that fell off the map 

international male: thirty-three national costumes from the 2022 Mister Global pageant via Miss Cellania  

odette and odile: a diminutive chihuahua and human handler perform Swan Lake  

smpte colour bars: a BBC test pattern jumper and mural—see also  

bad actor mode: an AI normally tasked with developing new, novel medications had its parameters switched seek out toxicity and suggests tens of thousands of chemical weapons and poisons in the space of a few hours—via Slashdot 

 cameo appearance: Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams portrayed the President of United Earth on the season finale of Star Trek and brought the planet back into the Federation 

state-of-the-art: ten breakthrough technologies online now that could change our trajectory for the better—via Kottke  

geopolitics: charting the advance of democracy

Saturday, 12 March 2022

7x7

w / n / p / a/: the beauty and brutality of the natural world—via Web Curios   

fly around: a happy tune from Bill Wurtz—via Waxy 

skramm-ellegepladser: what Scandi culture can teach the world about fun and playfulness 

 theatrum orbis terrarum: the first modern world atlas, created and published in Antwerp in 1571 by Abraham Ortelius 

llรชn gwerin: illustrated Welsh cats from 1910  

grand tour: visit the great cities of Europe all within the confines of Ohio—see also  

best in show: a selection of the superlative entries for the 2022 Sony World Photography Awards—some are quite accidentally like a Renaissance painting