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.”

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

7x7

anamorphosis: a sixteenth century optical illusion in a work by Hans Holbein the Younger 

๐Ÿ’ง: the first episode on the Weirdness of Water, presented by the Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry  

uncharted: the region in Greece that was historically so inaccessible it was named Agrafa, literally off the maps—via Messy Messy Chic  

a people’s archive of sinking and melting: artefacts documenting the climate crisis  

odonym: a suite of applications to explore the toponymical decisions behind street names—see also 

fiat geld: origins of the trillion dollar coin  

spice like us: the geopolitics of nutmeg informed by its reputed efficacy against the plague

Friday, 8 October 2021

effective calculability

With its roots in the Latinisation of the Persian mathematician Muhammad bin Musa Al-Khwฤrizmฤซ as algorimus, we were quite pleased to learn about the education, contributions and legacy of the scholar of Baghdad’s House of Wisdom in the ninth century, in Greater Iran—presently Uzbekistan—whose the namesake for the unambiguous computational instructions that machines can act upon through tributes by several local artists hosted by a Tashkent gallery. Entitled Dixit Algorizmi after the opening line of his comprehensive manuscript, Thus Spake Al-Khwฤrizmฤซ, there is much more to explore at the links above.

Friday, 27 August 2021

baล‚agan

Though this other Persia etonym that reveals the origin of antidote was a bit too stomach-churning to expand upon, we were reminded with this encounter of another ultimately Persia term that in Yiddish, Polish and Arabic has come to mean chaos. An excellent example of a round trip word, balagan (ุจุงู„ุงุฌุงู†, ื‘ืœื’ืืŸ) originally meant an upper chamber, passing via Tartar to Russian where it came to signify a temporary platform constructed for a circus performance, exporting the sense of disorder and associations with buffoonery, applied to everything from the state of one’s car interior to geopolitics. More from Language Hat at the link above.

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

7x7

the dance of the proletariat: a cultural revolutionary ballet 

reefer madness: an excerpt from “Cocaine, the Princess of Perdition” (1939)  

beef and dairy network: a 1986 board game called “Grade Up to Elite Cow” 

music to moog by: Melbourne’s Electronic instrument museum  

old growth: an anthology of the most memorable trees in the literary canon  

ambiguate: a notable lacuna, lexical gap for a word that ought to have been formed 

rhythm is a dancer: a comprehensive dance music archive covering the recent past—via Things Magazine

Sunday, 22 August 2021

7x7

wait for the beep: a growing collection of found-sounds in the form of answering machine narratives—via Memo of the Air  

potatopoty: superlative tubers  

yaxety sax: string ensemble performs the 1968 instrumental from Spider Rich and Boots Randolph 

the metz address: Philip K. Dick (previously) speaks to an audience in 1977 at a sci-fi convention in France 

say taliban, move your minivans: November 2001 Saturday Night Live sketch “Kandahar Dance Party” recirculating to mixed responses 

dateline: Merv Griffin’s short-lived 1985 game show Headline Chasers  

dear friends of mine, please write a line in this little wash tubbs book of mine—help me keep you in my mind: a comic scrapbook chronicling the Great Depression, via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links (lots more to see there)

Thursday, 19 August 2021

treaty of rawalpindi

Marking the anniversary of the Anglo-Afghan peace of 1919 that ended the protectorate status under the British Empire, ratified on this day, Afghanistan Independence Day is commemorated as its national holiday.

British forces had occupied Kabul since 1842 with Wazir Akbar Khan routing the army of Major-General Elphinstone on the road to Jalalabad, eventually precipitating a second Anglo-Afghan war that resulted in a negotiated settlement that created Mandatory Afghanistan with Britain responsible for defence and foreign relations, in exchange for protection from Russia and Persia, maintaining this state of affairs as a buffer for the Raj, stipulating that for external matters Afghanistan would “have no windows looking on the outside world, except towards India.” Despite protestations from the Ottoman Empire, Afghanistan remained neutral during World War I, and having suffered heavy losses, a process of demobilisation began as the global conflict was coming to an end, fighting broke out at the frontier, ultimately resulting in a truce that established the border at the Durand Line, presently the land border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and an agreement not to foment revolt in the Indian colonies. A marble triumphal arch, the Taq-e Zafar, was erected in the the city of Paghman to mark the treaty that restored the country’s independence.

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

7x7

lowering the bar: a trial lawyer’s endorsement in a whiskey ad illustrates by-gone regulatory period in the US 

blotter art: an LSD museum in San Francisco 

spraycation: Banksy works appear at UK seaside towns Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft  

middle-age spread: comprehensive study finds metabolism stable throughout life and crashes after sixty—via the New Shelton Wet / Dry  

bureau of land management: a celebration of the striking landscape photography of Bob Wick  

o’zbekiston line: a tour of Tashkent’s underground galleries—see also 

 kriegswaffenkontrollgesetz: gentleman outside of Kiel fined for unregistered Panzer