Saturday, 1 October 2022

the new people (10. 183)

Produced for a single season and clocking in at forty-five minutes per episode (a rarity for regularly-scheduled programming), the 1969 Aaron Spelling and Larry Gordon collaboration for the ABC network was developed by Rod Serling (under the pseudonym John Phillips—see previously) and centres around the struggle for survival of a group of American college freshman returning from a trip in Southeast Asia (to present as goodwill ambassadors during Vietnam) whose plane crashes on a deserted island in the Pacific, which had been slated and provisioned for a nuclear-test that never took place. Foreshadowing the later ABC series Lost, it explores rather melodramatically the premise of Lord of the Flies, killing off all of the adults and letting the young fend for themselves—plus the counterculture adage of the time not to trust anyone over thirty—and is echoed in Logan’s Run and the Star Trek episode “Miri.” Here is the pilot with the full series available online:

Saturday, 17 September 2022

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.

Monday, 22 August 2022

7x7 (10. 078)

ultima generazione: climate activist glue themselves to the Vatican’s Laocoรถn  

little gold statue special: MST3K’s take on the 1995 Oscars 

larder and pantry: photographer Richard Johnson’s compelling series on root cellars–via Everlasting Blรถrt 

a garbler of spices: an eighteenth century specialised position 

canting arms: heraldic rebuses to puzzle 

biblioclasm: to combat book bans and censorship, the Brooklyn Public Library is issuing free cards to all US adolescents  

yangtze: drought in China reveals ancient statues of the Buddha normally submerged–see also here and here–and is also causing shortages in hydroelectric production

Friday, 15 July 2022

hanoi jane

On this day in 1972, American activist and actor Jane Fonda was visiting Hanoi to survey the damage that bombing campaigns were having on civilian infrastructure—specifically the dams used to mitigate flooding by the Red River—and was photographed afterwards seated on a North Vietnamese Army anti-aircraft battery. The pictures were first published by a Polish newspaper before circulating widely and effectively ostracising Fonda from the entertainment industry and whilst pride for speaking out against the war was regretful over the bad optics of a momentary lapse of judgment that was both galvanising for those predisposed to hostility and jingoism and propaganda for the other side.

Thursday, 16 June 2022

monkey puzzle tree

Native to Chile and Argentina and described as a living fossil like the Wollemi pines, the Araucaria araucana, which goes by the above common name (as in it would puzzle a monkey to climb these reptilian and rangy branches) and also known as the piรฑonero is endangered in its wild habitat but a popular decorative tree with a reputation of being hardy and adaptable to a wide array of climes. The scaly leaves individually have a longevity of about twenty-four years and after maturity at forty years, the trees begin producing seed that are edible like pine nuts. Its Australian relatives, also to include the bunya pines which produce cones as big as soccer balls, share a common ancestry when that continent, Antarctica and South America were joined as Gondwanaland.

Tuesday, 7 June 2022

line of demarcation

Signed on this day in its namesake town on the Douro river in 1494, the Treaty of Tordesillas (Tratado de Tordesilhas, see previously) divided the so called New World—those lands new to European explorers—between the Spanish and Portuguese Empires along a meridian in the Atlantic judged halfway in between the Cape Verde island group (then a crown colony of Portugal) and the lands claimed for Castile and Leon by Christopher Columbus, modern-day Cuba and Hispaniola) with points east going to the latter and westward to the former. The Treaty of Zaragoza in 1529 defined the antemeridian to address the other side of the globe in order to settle conflicting claims to the Moluccas Islands, an Indonesia archipelago historically called the Spice Islands. Though blessed-off by the pope, newly discovered peoples viewed this claim with disdain and other European powers did not sign on and generally ignored the treaties, Francis I (albeit representing one of the worst future colonisers) declaiming, “The sun shines for me as it does for others. I would very much like to see the clause of Adam’s will that denies me my share of the world.” The signatories considered the arrangement null and void by 1750, notwithstanding competition and their general decline as global powers, swapping rights Brazil and the Philippines.

Thursday, 2 June 2022

7x7

phillumeny: venerable Japanese matchbox manufacturer shuttering after almost a century 

fpoty: Pink Lady’s finalist gallery of superlative food photographs in its annual competition—via Everlasting Blรถrt  

posidonia australis: researchers determine that a giant patch of ribbon weed in Shark Bay Australia a

singular, ancient and expansive plant 

shadow gradient: expanding hole optical illusion is a touch trypophobic—via Boing Boing  

metamorphosis: late fifteenth century ecologist and artist Maria Sibylla Merian who was among the first naturalist to closely observe insects and understand their life cycles 

 casein chipping: more on cheese heists and ways to stop them 

 philately: a travelogue of postage stamps of imaginary places—see also

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.

Sunday, 17 April 2022

unbound hyperbolic orbit

Via Slashdot and a tranche of documents declassified by the US Space Command (previously) learn that one of Earth’s first encounters with an interstellar interloper happened fully three years prior to ‘Oumuamua with the explosive impact of a meteor strike that disintegrated in the Pacific off the coast of Papua New Guinea. The high speed (about sixty kilometres per second) and usual trajectory of the object place its origins outside of the Solar System. Confirmation was initially stymied due to data partially coming from a then-classified satellite that monitored for ballistic launches, but now confident of the object’s provenance, a mission to the bottom of the ocean is being entertained to search for fragments.

Thursday, 14 April 2022

songkran

Known by several names throughout South and South East Asia influenced by the traditional Hindu solar calendar, this marks new year’s day. As opposed to the tropical year of the Gregorian reckoning that is based on the cycle of the seasons, the sidereal year is determined by the motion of the Sun relative to the celestial sphere, with the beginning of the new year synchronized to the Sun’s transit into the constellation of Aries (meแนฃa saแน…krฤnti—named for twin gods, the Ashvins, “Aja” and “Mesha” and the Sanskrit term signifying the act of transhumance—that is, when the livestock is brought to pasture).

Sunday, 6 March 2022

8x8

wayfinder: Polynesian palm frond and seashell navigational charts  

zoned for resimercial: reaction offices and the future of the workplace  

the final nail in the coffin: a proposal for a casket one drills in the ground  

such freedom: a convoy of truckers whose grievance is less clear picks up some hitchhikers along the way in the form of a la carte conspiracy theories 

fashion forward: RIP to Elsa Klench (*1930) host of the long running Style segment on CNN  

don’t know much about geology: James Sowerby’s 1884 illustrated study of catastrophic British mineralogy  

the neutra house: the hilltop compound that belongs to Red Hot Chilli Pepper Flea has strong evil villain lair energy—and is on the market—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links  

glonass: mapping tools and satellite imagery as a prelude to the information war over Ukraine

Saturday, 5 February 2022

8x8

eye-in-the-sky: a collection of superlative drone photography 

gravitational lensing: tentatively, astronomers find evidence of the first rogue, marauding black hole over a backdrop of nebular clouds 

wheel of fortune: Wordle but with common quotations and idioms—via Memo of the Air

para||el: a short film about divergent realities by Mรฉnilmonde  

building & loan: more on the economics of gift-cards—see also  

staying toasty: bread hats and loafers, see also  

three little words: what3words (see previously) solves some problems for vehicle guidance and navigation, causes others—via Duck Soup  

to open every kind of lock: burglars’ spells and incantations 

scotus: a former law clerk writes the Wikipedia articles on Biden’s prospective nominees to the US Supreme Court in order to insert doubt and skepticism, via Super Punch  

bird’s eye view: a parrot in New Zealand pilfers a family’s Go-Pro and films some nice scenery

Wednesday, 2 February 2022

artificial scarcity

Via Hyperalleric, we have another update from Molly White on how great Web 3.0 is going (previously) with this dispatch from a New Zealand auction house that sold material contact prints and plate glass negatives from photographer and portrait artist Charles Fredrick Goldie—whose work is problematic, considered reductive and promoting the contemporary thinking that the Mฤori were on the verge of extinction as a culture and colonial paternalism though also a snapshot of heritage that might be otherwise lost to time—bundled with their NTF, which fetched much higher prices than they could otherwise garner, complete with a small mallet—inviting the winning bidder to smash the plate and render the lot digital only—see also. The sales were of a self-portrait of the artist at his easel and not of historic aboriginal elders so this provocation is not such an afford to museums and the art world, though one suspects that bidding was driven by investment and looking for a place to park one’s money rather than an appreciation for art or the subject matter.

Tuesday, 1 February 2022

6x6

putting the fun in fungible: NFTs appraised on Antiques Roadshow, via Messy Nessy Chic  

anagrams everywhere: the intrusive, obsessive thoughts of a Scrabble enthusiast—via Kottke’s Quick Linkssee also  

maths hysteria: a celebration of vintage calculator manuals  

dishes for luck and prosperity: traditional Lunar New Year cuisine laden with word-play and symbolism  

old brown ears is back: a cover album from under-appreciated Muppet character, Rowlf the Dog  

nasm: Smithsonian Air & Space museum accepts donation from a tech billionaire—notably absent a “morals clause” which would allow the institution to disassociate itself with their benefactor should their values become misaligned

Thursday, 30 December 2021

mmxi

Naturally calendars are cyclical and there are surprisingly few iterations of the Gregorian, civil almanac with just fourteen possible variants and happily one can recycle one’s 2011 calendar for 2022. I wonder if any correspondence is in store with the Arab Spring igniting in Tunis and spreading across the region, a catastrophic earthquake in Christchurch, Wikileaks publishing documents and dossiers on Guantanamo Bay detainees, the death of Osama bin Laden, the arrest of Ratko Mladiฤ‡ for war crimes during the Serbian conflict, the massacre in Utรธya, the European sovereign debt crisis, water on Mars, Occupy Wall Street, the death of Muammar Gaddafi and the world population reaching seven billion souls—just to name a few events of note. Interestingly, this day was skipped—advancing from 29 December to the thirty-first by polities in Samoa and Tokelau moving from east to west of the International Date Line, aligning their time zones better with their chief trading partners, reversing a move undertaken in 1892, celebrating US independence day (4 July) twice and match clocks in California, the source of dominant commercial activity back then.

Sunday, 19 December 2021

8x8

schwibbogen: a look at Germany’s Erzgebirge’s Christmas decorative arts traditions—see also

lakshmi-narayan: a looted sculpture returned to Nepal becomes a god again  

wind in your sails: a giant kite will pull a ship across the ocean in a demonstration project to cut emissions

all songs considered: NPR’s Bob Boilen’s recommended listening from the past year  

farmscrapers: advances in hydroponics and robot-assisted harvesting are making vehicle crop-growing a reality  

wysiwyg: Anna Mills on her typography and creative outlook  

carry on regardless: the comic language pf Professor Stanley Unwin  

god rest you merry, gentlemen: the comma in this carol makes us wonder about punctuation

Friday, 17 December 2021

creepy crawly

Whilst the moniker itself is somewhat of an exaggeration in most cases, the rediscovered species and newly classified species, lured to bait in deep boreholes in a mine in western Australia, Eumillipes persephone, with over thirteen-hundred feet, truly lives up to the distinction of being the leggiest creature yet found. Named after the ill-fated queen of the Underworld for having been caught over sixty-meters under the surface, these arthropods are not only distinguished from less endowed cousins, the centipedes, by leg count with later also tending to be flatter and hunters with a venomous bite and the former scavengers and attracted to decomposing plant matter. Hatchlings emerge with just two segments and continually add more throughout their lifetimes.

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

balmis expedition

The operation officially named Real Expediciรณn Filantrรณpica de la Vacuna, the Spanish healthcare mission under the leadership of Doctor Francisco Javier de Balmis set sail on the Marรญa Pita from a port in Galicia on this day in 1803 and would vaccinate, using the technique developed by Edward Jenner, untold millions against smallpox, calling in the Canary Islands, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, China and the Philippines, even offering surplus to the colony at Saint Helena on the return route, despite animosities between Spain and Britain at the time. Undertaken to make amends for the Old World diseases that ravaged North and South America and to attempt to wipe out the contagion that proved fatal for nearly half a million individuals annually in Europe only, the complement and crew included twenty-two orphaned boys designated as successive carriers of the cowpox virus (there being no refrigeration or other means to isolate and transport the vaccine), which would help recipients acquire immunity to the deadlier version.

Wednesday, 10 November 2021

under the waves or government in exile

Soberingly and with an eye to a bleak future of runaway climate change, as Slashdot reports, the island nation of Tuvalu exploring its legal options to retain its statehood in the worst-case scenario that sees all land submerged and its population of eleven thousand relocated. With sea-levels rising, the land will eventually disappear and the government hopes to retain international recognition for its maritime zones and territorial sovereignty as well as compel domestically and internationally what the cultural impacts and losses of such uprooting will be for this and other coastal communities.  More at the links above.

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

bennelong point

Occupying the titular headland, known as Tubowgule by the indigenous Gadigal people, the Sydney Opera House on the harbor, originally designed by Jรธrn Utzon, and considered one of the more distinguishing structures and venues of the past century, had its official grand opening on this day in 1973. Under construction since 1959, the formal ceremony was conducted by Queen Elizabeth II before a large crowd with the inaugural orchestral performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Ode to Joy. Of note, the first actual musical number took place in 1960 when baritone Paul Robeson regaled the construction crew from the stage during their lunch break with one of his signature tunes, “Old Man River.”