Wednesday, 29 December 2021

mmxxi

As this calendar draws to a close and we look forward to 2022, we again take time to reflect on a selection of some of the things and events that took place in 2021. Thanks as always for visiting. We’ve made it through another wild year together and we’ll see this next one through together as well.

 january: In the US state of Georgia’s run-off election, Democrat candidates prevail and thus switch the Senate’s controlling majority. The joint session of Congress to certify the votes of the Electoral College in favour of the Biden-Harris ticket is interrupted by a violent insurrection on the Capitol incited by Donald

Trump, yet the proceedings are resumed undeterred. For his gross incompetence and treasonous actions, the US House of Representatives impeaches Trump for a second time. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are inaugurated president and vice-president of the United States of America in a socially-distanced ceremony held on the same portico where the violent coup attempt occured two weeks prior. Across Russia, thousands protest the arrest and detention of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.  English filmmaker Michael Apted (*1941), entertainer Siegfried Fischbacher (*1939, see also last May) and baseball players Tommy Lasorda (*1927) and Hank Aaron (*1941), actress Cloris Leachman (*1926) as well as accomplished star of stage and screen Cicely Tyson (*1924) pass away.  

february: A military uprising in Myanmar wrests power from the government of Aung San Suu Kyi.  Actor Hal Holbrook (*1925) and veteran become fund-raiser who raised millions for the National Health

Service Sir Captain Thomas Moore (*1920) himself succumbed to COVID-19.   French screen-writer and director Jean-Claude Carriรจre (*1931) passed away, and so veteran actor Christopher Plummer (*1929). The US Senate again convenes as jury to vote on whether to acquit or prosecute Donald Trump’s impeachment.  Larry Flynt (*1942), publisher, pornographer and self-styled anti-censorship champion, passed away, as did jazz virtuoso and twenty-three-time Grammy Award winner Chick Corea (*1941).  The US Senate votes not to acquit Donald Trump a second time after his second impeachment.  A polar vortex brings severe winter storms to Texas and Mexico, leaving millions without heat and electricity has the power grid is overwhelmed.  Talk radio provocateur Rush Limbaugh (*1951)  dies after a year-long struggle with lung cancer.  Poet and activist Lawrence Ferlinghetti passes away, aged 101. Martian probe Perseverance touched down on the Red Planet to begin a search for signs of past life. The US rejoins the Paris Climate Agreement.  

march: Oprah Winfrey interviews the estranged, self-exiled Sussexes about Meghan Markle’s treatment

by the Royal Family, causing consternation and many to question the institution of the monarchyPhantom Tollbooth author Norton Juster (*1929) passed away aged ninety-one.  A container ship gets lodged in the Suez Canal, hindering global trade and could potentially be stuck for weeks.  Legislators in the American state of Georgia pass selectively restrictive laws to disenfranchise Black voters.   Children’s book author Beverly Cleary (*1916) writer of the Ramona Quimby series passed away, aged 104.  The usurping military forces in Myanmar gun down dozens of pro-democracy protesters.  Islamic rebels besiege the city of Palma in Mozambique.  Undercover operative whose missteps brought the Watergate scandal to the press and public, G. Gordon Liddy (*1930) died, aged 90, as did author Larry McMurtry (*1936) who penned Lonesome Dove, The Last Picture Show and Terms of Endearment.

april: Prince Phillip passes away, aged 99.  As tensions escalate between Russia and NATO with a troop

build-up along the border with Ukraine, US President Joe Biden proposes to meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to normalise relations and restore diplomatic ties.  The police officer who murdered George Floyd is found guilty on all charges.  Walter Mondale (*1928), former vice president under Jimmy Carter, and presidential candidate with running-mate Geraldine Ferraro passed away, aged ninety-three.  Astronaut Michael Collins (*1930) who orbited the Moon while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin explored the lunar surface passed away, aged ninety.

may: Accomplished actor Olympia Dukakis (*1931) passed away, aged eighty-nine.  Architect Helmut Jahn (*1940) behind the Messeturm in Frankfurt and the Post tower in Bonn died in a bicycle accident.  Dozens of rebel priests across German defy the Catholic church and offer benedictions to same-sex couple.  Israel airstrikes in Gaza escalate.  Actor, author, televangelist and TV’s Captain Merrill Stubing Gavin MacLeod (*1931) after suffering a long bout of ill-health.  

june: G7 leaders meet in Cornwall, in person.  A coalition government in Israel unseats Netanyahu after a

dozen years as prime minister.  The US government establishes Juneteenth as a new federal holiday though new laws to disenfranchise Black voters continues apace in many Republican controlled polities.  The space station Tiangong receives its first crew.  Software and computer security pioneer John McAfee (*1945) found dead in a Spanish jail cell awaiting extradition to the US over charges of tax evasion.  Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, was disbarred for peddling the lie that that the election was stolen from his former client.  The US government issues a declassified report to congress regarding unidentified aerial phenomenon.  A twelve storey condominium complex near Miami, Florida collapses with dozens injured and unaccounted for.  

july: Outrage as more mass-graves of indigenous pupils found at historic Canadian residential schools.  Hundreds perish from record heatwaves and wildfires along the Pacific coast of North America.  Angela Merkel makes her last official visit to the United Kingdom, addressing the Houses of Parliament, the last

foreign leader to do so since Bill Clinton in 1997.   Richard Donner (*1930), film director behind The Goonies, Superman and the Lethal Weapon franchise passed away.  England plans to fully reopen with no COVID-19 restrictions late in the month despite a resurgence in cases and the rapidly spreading Delta variant.  Jovenel Moรฏse, the Haitian president, was assassinated.  Continual and torrential rains exacerbated by the climate emergency caused severe flooding in western Germany and the Henan region in China.  The Special Committee on the January 6th Capitol Insurrection heard opening testimony from law enforcement on the scene of the terror attack.  Inventor and infomercial pitchman Ron Popeil (*1935) passed away.

august: The UN Panel on Climate Change issues a stark, bleak forecast for the planet’s future as a suitable place for life as we know it.  Wildfires rage throughout the Mediterranean, Siberia and the North American west coast.  As coalition forces depart, the resurgent Taliban takes several regional capitals in weeks with Kabul poised to soon collapse as authorities flee and embassies are evacuated.  A massive earthquake strikes Haiti.  Tragically, most Afghani government officials flee the country and the capital falls as the Taliban retakes power and restores the emirate after nearly two decades of warfare.  US army installations in Germany assist with Operation Allied Refuge (OAR) as thousands of Afghans are airlifted from the country.  Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts (*1941) passes away. 
Just days ahead of the deadline imposed to complete evacuation missions out of the Hamid Karzai international airport, an Islamic State affiliate and sworn enemy of the Taliban for being too Westernised, lax, undisciplined detonated twin suicide bombs outside the gates, killing dozens.  Veteran actor and advocate Ed Asner (*1929) passed away as did Jamaican musical giant Lee “Scratch” Perry (*1936).  On the sixteenth anniversary of the devastating Hurricane Katrina, a destructive storm called Ida makes landfall.  The Taliban celebrates with fireworks and firing rifles in the air the departure of the last US flight from the Kabul airport, declaring victory.

september: The legislature of the state of Texas passes a tranche of new laws curtailing voting access, restricting teaching of America’s racist past and present, mandating the national anthem at sporting events, permitting universal carry laws for firearms and doing away with licensure or training requirements and

essentially banning abortion by placing a bounty on abettors and deputising neighbours to litigate the ban against neighbours.  New Wave actor Jean-Paul Belmondo (*1933), whose roles defined the genre and called the French counterpart of Marlon Brando, James Dean and Humphrey Bogart, passed away.  El Salvador becomes first country to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender.  “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie” singer Marรญa Mendiola (*1952) of Baccara passed away in Madrid.  An effort to recall and replace Democrat governor of California fails and Gavin Newsome retains his place, though the balloting and counter-campaigns cost taxpayers of the state in excess of a quarter of a billion dollars.  The first commercial, all-amateur space tourism mission safely splashes down after three days in orbit.  Entrepreneur, inventor and computing pioneer behind the ZX Spectrum, Clive Sinclair passed away, aged 81 (*1940).  Justin Trudeau’s party retains power following national elections.  After three years under house arrest in Canada and fighting extradition to America on charges of espionage and circumventing sanctions against Iran, business executive Meng Wangzhou, daughter of the head of Chinese communications giant Huawei, is released. 

october:  US president Biden’s agenda is derailed, diminished by moderate voices in his party.  A vaccine for malaria is trialled in Africa.  Amid a growing corruption scandal, Austrian leader Sebastian Kurz

tenders his resignation, though choosing to remain leader of his political party and will retain his seat in parliament.  William Shatner, aged ninety, as a space tourist becomes the oldest human to enter the Earth’s orbit.  Attending an open-advice surgery for his constituents from Leigh-on-Sea, long-time MP David Amess was murdered by an attacker with a knife.  Former US Joint-Chief-of-Staff and Secretary of State, Colin Powell (*1937) dies from complications arising from COVID-19.  President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, under pressure from elements of his own party, is rather austerely pared back, dropping proposed benefits like universal college tuition and paid family-leave.  Garbage social media network rebrands its parent company as Meta as it prepares to build and embrace its concept of the metaverse.  A military coup in Somali plunges the country into chaos with no signs of peaceful resolution.

november: A powerful storm-flood in western Canada cuts off Vancouver from the rest of British Columbia.  Weaponised refugees massed at the EU frontier by a provoking Belarus at enormous personal

cost are slowly being repatriated to the lands they fled.  After exonerated in a gross miscarriage of justice, Republicans acclaim a teenage, white supremacist murderer as their new hero.  Award winning Broadway songwriter Stephen Sondheim passes away, aged ninety-one in the same week as Schoolhouse Rock! lyricist Dave Frishberg (*1933).  The COVID-19 Omicron-variant, first detected in South Africa, is causing major concerns as convention cases rage resurgent in Europe, poised to be more widespread and deadly than the same time a year ago.  Inflation and supply-chain issues threaten global economic recovery.  On the anniversary of its independence from the UK in 1966, Barbados becomes the world's newest republic, with Sandra Mason as the island’s president. 

december: Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows releases Power Point slide-deck that outlined options for Trump to hold on to the presidency in the chaos of the 6. January insurrection to the commission investigating the attempted coup.  Monkees singer Mike Nesmith (*1942) passes away.  An unseasonal tornado rips through western Kentucky, leaving over a hundred dead.   Gothic novelist Anne Rice (*1941 as Howard Allen Francis O’Brien) passed away.  Tensions continue to mount at the Russo-Ukraine border with Russia putting forward a litany of demands for NATO to avoid invasion.   Journalist and author Joan Didion (*1934) passed away due to complications from Parkinson’s disease.   Borders close and travel-restrictions re-imposed over truly exponential spread of the the Omicron variant; preliminary findings suggest although less lethal, hospitals and other essential services could be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers and vulnerable populations still need protection.  Archbishop Desmond Tutu (*1931), anti-apartheid hero and moral-centre, passes away aged ninety.  Sadly veteran blogger Jonco, behind Bits & Pieces, passed away quite suddenly, leaving the blogosverse a dimmer place.  On the last day of the year and just weeks short of planned celebrations for her one-hundredth birthday, beloved talent and treasure with a career spanning over eight decades, Betty White (*1922) passed away.

 



Wednesday, 15 September 2021

give a hoot—don’t pollute!

The United States forest service, following the success of mascot Smokey Bear in promoting awareness of forest fires, on this day in 1971 debuted the character Woodsy Owl (both from marketer Harold Bell) for anti-pollution public service messaging, introduced by the American Secretary of Agriculture Clifford Hardin as an environmental ambassador (the EPA having been just created) with the above slogan. Realising the reductive nature of the saying was squarely laying the blame on the public and deflecting responsibility from business and government policies, Woodsy has adapted his outreach over the years to reflect the climate crisis (“Help Woodsy Spread the Word,” since 2009) and taking meaningful action and currently uses the slogan, “Lend a Hand—Care for the Land!”

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

6x6

moo-loo: calves are being toilet-trained to mitigate some of the greenhouse gasses the livestock produce

รผber die bestimmung des weibes zur hรถheren geistesbildung: a look at philosopher Amalia Holst, whose 1802 work is comparable to Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman  

ferryman: an interesting look at legally-mandated river-crossings in Manchester  

the colour of money: a mesmerising video to accompany the Blake Mills song  

microcosmos: outstanding photographs of the world not visible to the naked eye  

charismatic megafauna: a biotech firm is raising funds to de-extinct the woolly mammoth—see previously

Friday, 10 September 2021

6x6

central solenoid: installation of a powerful giant magnet brings experimental fusion project a step closer to completion 

clรฉo from 5 to 7: discovering an Agnes Varda classic 

la sociรฉtรฉ du spectacle: an update of the 1974 Situationist Guy Debord’s critique of mass marketing and estrangements of modern society  

raise high the roof beam: experience a house inside a barn 

wtc: a profile of architect Minoru Yamasaki, best known for designing New York’s World Trade Center  

ccs: Iceland’s carbon capture and sequestration plant (previously) goes on-line

bi-valve or blast me barnacles

Even more threatened than their beleaguered colonial cousin the corals reefs, we learn that over eighty-five percent of coastal oyster beds, living shorelines, have been destroyed by human activity over the last two centuries through dredging, development, pollution and overfishing. Recent efforts to restore the habitat of this indicator species, however, are demonstrating that oysters are keystones of their ecosystem, purifying, filtering waters, recycling organic materials and preventing algal blooms, building a sheltering environment for various fishes and crustaceans, sustenance for water fowl, carbon sequestration in their shells, and acting as a breakwater structure to reduce the impact of storm surges and runaway erosion. Learn more at Kottke at the link above.

Friday, 27 August 2021

the devil at four o’clock

Peaking on this day in 1883 with the destruction of island and surrounding archipelago, the violent eruption of Krakatoa in the Sunda Straits is among the largest and deadliest in recorded history, some forty thousand lives lost to the volcano and subsequent tsunamis and the sonic wave of the blast heard around the globe seven times over. Seismic activities continued for weeks with destructive after-shocks and environmental effects, climate-change from the released ash lasted for years afterwards, captured in the painting The Scream, it is theorised. The title refers to the prequel to the 1968 disaster film that notoriously got the geography wrong, and when the error was pointed out to them, the producers still went with east, feeling it sounded more atmospheric and exotic, released in the seventies amidst a spate of other disaster films simply as Volcano.

Wednesday, 11 August 2021

8x8

united states of wildfire: as the climate emergency escalates, more North American residents are moving into the path of destruction unwittingly 

fitting in: Ze Frank (previously) reveals that even the coolest, calmest and most collected of us are all trying, coping  

d’oyly carte: an islet in the Thames with a derelict mansion built for an opera impresario will be restored to its former glory—via Things Magazine 

caped crusaders: Batman’s sidekick Robin finally comes out 

constrained systems: a tool-kit of alternative image editing effects—via Waxy  

matchi bล:a mesmerising stop-motion study of a magic match stick from Tomohiro Okazaki—via ibฤซdem

 bubblegum pop: the Osmonds 1968 song “Groove with what You Got”  

ฮฑฯ€ฮฟฮบฮฌฮปฯ…ฯˆฮท: Greek capital, archipelago beset by flames

Sunday, 27 June 2021

siebenschlรคfertag

This feast day marking the legend of the Seven Sleepers, a group of companions who hid in a cave outside of Ephesus to escape Roman emperor Decius’ persecution of Christians and emerged three-centuries later, also recalls one of the oldest and widespread artefacts of forecasting and weather lore (see also here, here and here) stemming from medieval Europe. The conditions on this day are supposed to be preview of how the skies and temperatures will be for the rest of the summer. I’d say, judging from here and now, we have a fine season ahead of us.

Saturday, 22 May 2021

rpow

Nearly a year and a half after the minting of the first blocks of the chain and demonstration that block chain was viable in code as a reusable proof-of-work system (a cryptographic transfer wherein one party shows to another that an established amount of computational effort has been expended with no other disclosure between the two sides), the first known cryptocurrency commercial transaction (see also) occurred between a programmer and a pizza chain, the later exchanging ten thousand bitcoin for two pies on this day in 2010. At the time of publication, this figure is valued at over three-hundred thirteen million euro.

Thursday, 20 May 2021

constrictula rugosa

From the cabinet of hypertext curiosities of the illustrious Mx van Hoorn, we find ourselves immersed in study and classification of the great taxia of the diverse and ubiquitous synthetic phylum Plasticรฆ with the annals of the Holotypic Occlupanid Research Group. The pictured subspecies of the family Haplognathidรฆ (‘half jaw’) with the characteristic single, squared-off dental process with a high degree of internal variation may be happily endangered in their native habitats but we will be dealing with their fossils for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

sleeper car

Via the always interesting Maps Mania, we learn more about the happily resurgent phenomenon of night trains (previously) whose network could once again connect the continent and in response to shifting attitudes, expectations and environmental awareness—including legislation to outlaw short-haul flights where alternative and less polluting modes of conveyance are possible. There’s an informative article and even an interactive route-planner to plan one’s future over-nighter and experience waking up in a new city. 

 

 

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

a modest proposal

Via the ever-engaging Weird Universe, we are directed to a 1983 edition of OMNI magazine and the ponderings of the doctoral theoretical biologist, literary critic and prolific science-fiction author Thomas A. Easton (Mood Wendigo, Wallflower, Alien Resonance, Micro Macho) proffering essentially the thesis of the 2017 film Downsizing through selective breeding, shrinking the average human stature to curb our unsustainable appetite for range and resources. As of yet undeveloped technologies could accelerate the process across all populations by introducing desirable genetic traits through a viral delivery system with this atavistic twist netting health benefits as well. Though indubitably bad stewards of the environment, the popular 1970s and 1980s trope of over-population was somewhat of a red-herring and the argument could be twisted in rather nefarious ways. More to explore at the link above.

Saturday, 1 May 2021

moraines and drumlins

Via Maps Mania, we are confronted with the profound and consequential loss of the world’s glacial cover visualised with an animated comparison of ninety of the planet’s largest and best surveyed moving, dense bodies of ice (see previously) on the march and on the retreat. Scientists project that the rate of melting will double by the next decade and will contribute some twenty percent to sea-level rise rather than being the natural water towers and frozen reservoirs that they were meant to be.

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

the planet on the plate

Via Kottke’s Quick Links, we are directed towards the announcement of one influential cooking website that going forward (the policy change has been essential in effect for over a year to overwhelmingly positive reception) won’t promote any new recipes with beef as an ingredient—the decision based on sustainability and “not giving airtime to one of the world’s worst climate offender.” Rather than being anti-cow, Epicurious—whom hope others follow—acknowledges that giving up meat alone is not a panacea for our predicament and that in a broken food system, soy, seafood and most everything else is potentially problematic but it’s definitely a start and a signal to the industry at large.

Sunday, 25 April 2021

guerrilla greening

Via Colossal, a Honolulu-based design consortium imagines the transformation of some of the iconic urban corridors of world cities transformed through an aggressive and transfixing shift away from the concrete jungle to something living and sympathetically breathing with us. Learn more about their work and the study that’s gone into these visualisations at the link above.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

9x9

carbon footprint: mining is a dirty business

kiki.object: a feminist manifesta for block-chain  

bat stuck in hell: recently departed songwriter Jim Steinman’s unproduced Batman musical 

the gates of paradise: William Blake’s (previously) perpetual cycle of birth and re-birth   

the singing, ringing tree: not to be confused with this other etherial perennial, panoptica in the Pennine Hills of Lancashire

the hawking index: an unscientific survey of popular titles’ rate of abandonment by the clustering or spread of their highlighted text 

this is the type of errant pedantry up with which i will not put: a proposal that the past particle of choose should properly be corn  

project ceti: ground-breaking attempt to decode whale language—see also—via Slashdot  

fourth rock from the sun: Martian rover Perseverance extracts breathable oxygen from the planet’s surface soil

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

7x7

one man’s trash: a preview (plus whole film) of a documentary about spelunking in New York City’s garbage  

dare mighty things: Martian rover Perseverance (previously) conducts first test flight of its airfoil drone

distant drums: the ‘Wilhelm Scream’—the stock effect of a man being eaten by an alligator  

personnage: the almond and pebble that inspired Joan Mirรณ’s sculpture  

palace of culture: a choreographed tour of Lithuania’s Socialist Modernist architecture  

moon unit: Space X awarded NASA contract for lunar lander for the upcoming Artemis mission  

pegged: artist Helga Stentzel (previously) creates a clothes-line polar bear to raise awareness for climate change

Monday, 19 April 2021

timelapse

Via Kottke’s Quick Links, we discover the latest suite of features from Google Earth—which has been giving us a privileged perspective on our planet for fifteen years now—includes a chronological dial that allows one to peer into the past four decades of satellite telemetry with a cache of some twenty-four million archived images (see also here and here) to better visualise the toll that de-forestation, desertification, intensive mining and agriculture, urban-sprawl, pollution and global warming takes on the environment.

Saturday, 17 April 2021

7x7

cortรจge: the custom Land Rover hearse that will convey Prince Philip on his funeral procession

whiter-than-white: ultra-reflective coating (previously) could help cool the climate—via Slashdot  

eboracia: housing developer Keepmoat Holmes discovers sprawling Roman ruins in North Yorkshire  

elenctic debate: honing one’s critical thinking with the Socratic method 

emojinal rescue: the Unicode subcommittee reconvenes, heralding the coming of new glyphs  

ramshackle: illustrations of antient structures that survived the Great Fire of London before they were ultimately demolished  

pleurants: bright and bold floral urns for cremains

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

7x7

being vaccinated does NOT mean you can gyre and gimble in the wabe: COVID-19 safety protocols in the Jabberwocky 

i’ve hidden the plans in an r2 unit: watch Carrie Fisher’s screen-test for the role of Princess Leia—see also 

murder offsets: a fine is a price, paying for the right to do wrong, like papal indulgences 

page left blank intentionally: the missing portion of the CIA report on astral projection (previously)—via Things Magazine  

man tanna: the kastom tribe of Vanuatu mourn the passing of Prince Phillip  

nature’s palette: an anniversary re-print of Patrick Syme’s expansion on Werner’s Nomenclature of Colourpreviously  

see my poncey boots—teach myself to cook: Mick Jagger and Dave Grohl sing about lockdown and conspiracy theorists