Saturday, 17 October 2020

embargo

On this day in 1973, OPEC (then OAPEC, the Organisation of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries despite Venezuela being a charter member) ministers came to a consensus to use their cartel powers to influence the West’s materiel and monetary support for Israel during the Yom Kippur War when the country made incursions into Syria and Egypt, advancing towards the economic and strategically important Suez Canal (see previously) and retaliated against Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, the UK and the US by a crippling quadrupling of prices, a shock to markets that precipitated the 1973 Oil Crisis.

Geopolitical antecedents factoring into this stand-off included the decrease in American petroleum production post-war and the rise of OPEC, the decision to float world currencies—unpegging them from the price of gold—with the US unilateral withdrawal from the Bretton Woods Accord in 1971 and subsequent recession, plus the never neglected opportunity for proxy warfare between the US and its allies and the Soviet Union on a new frontier. Because the embargo, which lasted until March 1974, failed to change the West’s stance on the Arab-Israeli conflict, history judges it as ineffective despite the long-term effect it had on international economics and gradually over the ensuing decades pushed the US towards more domestic exploration of fossil fuels and towards energy independence and globally pressured reforms for financial institutions to control for inflation.  Intermediate effects included fuel rationing, a slow-down in factory-orders, a shift in preference for smaller automobiles and a pivot towards China for manufacturing. 

Thursday, 8 October 2020

7x7

blood pudding: British public reject Magnus Pike’s (see previously) modest proposal as taboo  

urban jungle: artist employs banana fibre cocoons for the Milan of our over-heated future  

a fungus among us: Public Domain Review explores fungi, folklore and fairyland

object lesson: a 1937 experiment with remote learning to contain a polio outbreak 

those speedy clouds: Alvin and the Chipmunks cover Phil Glass’ Koyaanisqatsi—see previously  

maybe i’m immune: James Corden performs a soulful parody of the Paul McCartney ballad 

 the cask of amontillado: Spanish navy upholding tradition of ageing wine at sea, transporting a buttload of sherry around the world

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

9x9

patim, patam, patum: font specimens of Patufet, a typeface inspired by the Catalonian Tom Thumb 

ace of cups: Summer of Love all-female band that played the Avalon Ballroom and appeared with Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead release a new double-album 

leaf-peeping: Swiss fall foliage map 

franking privileges: Finnish studio mints climate change stamps with heat-reactive ink 

backyard safari: highly detailed journal documenting encounters with wildlife—via Nag on the Lake 

space 1999: scenes from the sets of the iconic British scifi series that ran from 1975 to 1977—via Messy Nessy Chic 

pacomobile: a modified VW snail camper—via Things magazine  

sฤƒlaj county: a brilliant assortment of flag redesigns for Romania’s forty-two regions to celebrate the country’s diversity 

 cannonball aderley: jazz record sleeves from Reagan Ray (see previously) feature the typography of the artists’ names—via Kottke

Sunday, 20 September 2020

alpha-beta

Not since the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season (see alternatively) has the World Meteorological Organisation run short of names for storms for the year, having issued a list of twenty-one names with forecasters now predicting up to twenty-five significant events. 2005 called for the first six letters of the Greek alphabet—through Zeta (ฮ– / ฮถ).

It being 2020 or that last best year with things only downhill from here on out, depending on how one frames we can halt and reverse climate change, we’ll see if that’s the Alpha and Omega. As history is yet good council even in these unprecedented times, today also marks the anniversary in 1971 when Hurricane Irene, having made landfall in Nicaragua weakened and dissipated, reconstituted herself (the first known instance since we had tracking capabilities) and remerged as cyclone Olivia, crossing from the Atlantic to Pacific coasts (see up top), raining out over Baja California. More recently, on the same day in 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico.

Friday, 11 September 2020

september 2020

Via Laughing Squid, here is more drone footage of the fiery orange skies—which many automated lenses and filters try to correct for to the frustration of those trying to urgently document and communicate the apocalypse—over San Francsico in a short clip set to the musical accompaniment of Hans Zimmer’s soundscape of Blade Runner: 2049. I wonder for how many more iterations that that dystopian sequel will be advanced—2099… Many more frightening images at the link up top, juxtaposed with this Los Angeles montage from earlier this summer.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

morgenrot schlecht wetter droht

Kottke curates a growing selection of arresting photographs of American western skies tinged an unreal red by uncontrolled wildfires fuelled and made more intense by climate change and global warming that is a direct consequence of human activity and mismanagement. These images were captured during the day, not at dawn or dusk though the smoke blocking out the sun might suggest otherwise. Abendrot, schlecht Wetterbot.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

watermelon snow

While first puzzling naturalist contemporaries of Aristotle and fairly a common occurrence in Alpine and arctic coast regions during the summer, the phenomenon caused by a type of cryophilic (cold-loving) green algae—sometimes referred to by the above as the blooms can express in green, red and pink—is spreading due to global warming to Siberia and the Antarctic, raising the possibility of the rise of new and unpredictable ecosystems.

Called Chlamydomonas nivlais is a liminal organism, thriving at temperatures hovering around the freezing point and have recently been attracting more notice of climate modellers, since while providing an additional energy source in extreme but thawing areas and act as a sink for carbon dioxide, their suspected role in lowering albedo at the poles—that is, the ability of the surface to reflect solar heat back out into space since the snow is less white, may counteract or accelerate any greenhouse gas offset.

Monday, 4 May 2020

making waves

Having achieved the goal the group was originally constituted for, the Don’t Make a Wave Committee—established in British Columbia in October 1969 to protest underground nuclear weapons testing in a wildlife refuge on the Aleutian Islands by the US government and halted further tests, the founders revaluated their mission and the power of organising and broadened it to officially be known as Greenpeace from this day onward in 1972.
The devastation of the 1964 Alaskan Earthquake still fresh in residents’ minds, there were fears that the tests could trigger further quakes and tsunami, sparking the initial rallies under the banner “It’s Your Fault If Our Fault Goes”—which failed to stop the US from detonating the bomb but accrued support for the opposition, which eventually prevailed, the protesters blocking the access to the island chain with a flotilla of private fishing boats, including the eponymous trawler, that stood up to the US navy.

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

we have met the enemy and he is us

First observed on this day fifty years ago and now celebrated in every polity around the globe as the largest secular holiday of them all, organisers in colleges and universities brought out roughly twenty million individuals into the spring sunshine to peaceful demonstrate for environmental reform.
The original impetus was a devastating oil spill of the coast of Santa Barbara, California that was responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of marine creatures during the previous winter with city solemnly marking the one-year anniversary of that disaster in January with an Environmental Rights Day, further advancing the idea for a day of action generally for ecological responsibility and justice. For the occasion, illustrator Walt Kelly created an anti-pollution poster with his comic strip character declaiming the above quotation, parodying a missive sent by Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry (older brother of Commodore Matthew Perry) to General William Harrison on his victory, more confident and less contrite, in the Battle of Lake Erie—another environmental mess we are trying to remediate—“We have met the enemy, and they are ours.”

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

klimahysterie

The Unword of the Year (Unwort des Jahres, see previously)—selected by a jury independent since 2011 Gesellschaft fรผr deutsche Sprache—is the above term for climate-hysteria, a rhetorical ploy invoked by some businesses, news outlets and politicians to discredit and defame those who forward the discussion and urgency of the environmental emergency of our own making as having some sort of collective psychosis. The runner-up was “Umvolkung,” a Nazi-era term used to describe assimilation as a way for the Volk to shed their national identities and join the Reich, which is sadly being reinserted into common-parlance.

Saturday, 4 January 2020

nach uns die sintflut

Taking a cue from ancient living coastal-hugging stalamites, colonial creatures called stromatolites (formerly wide-spread but now only found in Australia and Bermuda) that consist of layer-upon-layer of stratified microbial systems that play differing, symbiotic functions depending on where the high mater-mark has settled, researcher Jonathon Keats with Stuttgart’s Frauenhofer Institute for Building Physics suggests that we don’t try to address rising sea-levels by retreating further inland, a near impossibility since most of our conurbations—home to billions and our economic anchors are settled near the oceans, but rather by staying put.
Not only would the flood plain help mitigate extreme temperatures and the prospect that large cities may become unlivable heat-traps and avoid exacerbating the problem by making more land unavailable to uninterrupted forests in the process, levels of hi-rises being subsumed by the encroaching harbours adapting their function and growing upwards (timber buildings growing material for their next storey on the roof). It’s not a perfect nor an ideal form of redress but a realistic contingency and a more just one that may help us cope with the coming deluge without leaving vast swaths of humanity behind.

Friday, 27 December 2019

mmxix

As this calendar draws to a close and we look forward to 2020, we again take time to reflect on a selection of some of the things and events that took place in 2019. Thanks as always for visiting. We've made it through another wild year together.

january: China lands a probe on the far side of the Moon.  In the US, works from 1923 enter into public domain, the first tranche to do so since 1998. After a contested election, the incumbent government of Venezuela is declared illegitimate.  We had to say a sad goodbye to Zuzu, a long time companion for my mother and a devilish dog.

february: The Trump administration announces its decision to withdrawal from the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, prompting Russia to follow suit.  Pope Francis becomes the first pontiff to visit the Arab peninsula.  A second summit between the US and North Korea collapses in failure.  We bid farewell to fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld, musician Peter Tork, and actor Bruno Ganz.

march: A terrorist’s rampage kills fifty people during services in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, prompting the government to immediately ban the sales and ownership of assault weapons.  Special Counsel Robert Mueller concludes his report on Russian interference in the US 2016 presidential election and summits it to the Attorney General.  Copyright reforms pass in the EU Parliament.  After successive failures to pass a divorce deal, Brexit is delayed.    We had to say goodbye to musicians Dick Dale and Keith Flint, actor Luke Perry, as well as filmmaker Agnรจs Varda.

april: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange loses his political sanctuary after seven years residing in the Colombian mission to the UK and is apprehended at the behest of the US, to be extradited to stand trial for releasing classified materials.  We sadly had to say goodbye to another canine companion, Chauncy. Astronomers capture the image of a black hole.  Brexit is postponed again. During Holy Week, a conflagration engulfed Notre-Dame de Paris.  Over three hundred individuals in Sri Lanka were massacred on Easter Sunday.

may:  Austria’s far-right coalition government collapses after an incriminating video surfaces of a senior official emerges of him promising infrastructure contracts in exchange for campaign support to the posturing relative of a Russian oligarch during a meeting in Ibiza.  Sebastian Kurz resigns as Austrian chancellor and Brigette Bierlein leads a caretaker government until new elections can be held.  We bid farewell to master architect I.M. Pei, Tim Conway, Peter Mayhew, Leon Redbone and Doris DayGrumpy Cat also passed away too soon.

june: The Trump family take a summer vacation, going off to London to see the Queen, fรชted by outgoing Prime Minister, Theresa May, discharging one of her last, onerous official duties before stepping down. The US administration reinstates most sanctions and travel restrictions against Cuba.  Trump ordered strikes against Iran for the destruction of a US spy drone, belaying the order once jets were already in the air and instead authorised a cyber-attack against the government.  Over the course of two evenings, the large pool of Democratic nominee hopefuls held debates.  We had to say farewell to iconic New Orleans singer, song-writer and producer Mac Rebennack, otherwise known as Dr John, as well as epic, old Hollywood filmmaker Franco Zeffirelli and Gloria Vanderbilt.

july: Violent protests continue in Hong Kong.
An arsonist attacked an animation studio in Kyoto, killing dozens.  Donald Trump channels his racism to strengthen his bid for re-election, having never stopped campaign, blowing a dog whistle that is clearly audible to all.  Boris Johnston succeeds Teresa May as prime minister and head of the UK Tory party.  We had to say goodbye to Brazilian musician Joรฃo Gilberto who introduced the world to bossa nova as well as business magnate and philanthropist turned independent politician Ross Perot (*1930), US Supreme Court associate justice John Paul Stevens, Argentine architect Cรฉsar Pelli and actors Rutger Hauer and Russi Taylor.

august: Protests continue in Hong Kong.  India revokes the special status accorded to the disputed territory of Kashmir, escalating tensions with neighbouring Pakistan and China.  More gun violence visits the US.  Puerto Rico goes through three governors in five days.  Sex-trafficker and socialite Jeffrey Epstein was found dead of apparent suicide in his jail cell awaiting trial.  In the midst of a mass-extinction event, Trump repeals the Endangered Species Act and the Amazon burns.  Poet and author Toni Morrison (*1931), Irish singer Danny Doyle and lyricist David Berman died as did actor Peter Fonda and animator Richard Williams.

september: Setting a dangerous precedent, the US national weather agency revises its hurricane forecast to match the antics and bullheadedness of Donald Trump in the wake of the death and destruction brought on the Bahamas.
Prime minister Boris Johnson prorogues Parliament until only two weeks ahead of Brexit departure day.  Trump also announces the cancellation of secret talks he was to hold with a delegation of the Taliban that probably otherwise would have been a 9/11 anniversary photo-op.  Greta Thunberg leads a Fridays for the Future climate walkout in Washington, DC and addresses Congress and global strikes follow.  After thirty years as presenter for BBC Radio 4 flagship Today programme, John Humphrys retires.  House Democrats launch impeachment proceedings against Trump after it was revealed he sought to impugn his political opponents with the help of a foreign power, this time Ukraine.  Photojournalist Charlie Cole (*1955) who captured the iconic image of Tank Man and artists Eddie Money (*1949) and Cars headman Ric Osasek (*1944) and pioneering journalist Cokie Roberts (*1943) passed away.

october: Trump withdraws US troops from the Kurdish controlled border region of Syrian and Turkey promptly invades.

Protests continue in Hong Kong, marring China’s seventieth anniversary celebrations.  There is a terrorist attack on a synagogue in Halle.  Trump refuses to cooperate with House impeachment proceedings.  John Bannister Goodenough (previously) is recognised with a shared Nobel in Chemistry for his pioneering work with lithium batteries. An all-women team of astronauts successfully complete a space-walk.  Brexit is delayed again with the extension pushed back to 31 January 2020.  ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is killed in a raid by US military forces.  The Trump administration is highly recalcitrant and uncooperative during impeachment proceedings.  Long-time congress member representing Baltimore, Elijah Cummings (*1951), passed away.

november:  The Trump impeachment hearings go public.
Aide and political consultant Roger Stone found guilty on all counts for obstruction of justice, witness tampering and lying to Congress just as Trump intimidates former Ukrainian ambassador live during her testimony and career diplomat Marie Yovanovitch is afforded the chance to reply in real time.  A deadly knife-attack on London Bridge is halted by three by-standers, one with his bare hands and the others armed with a fire-extinguisher and a narwal tusk.  The historic Austrian village of Hallstadt is partially burned down.   Frank Avruch (also known as Bozo the Clown, *1930) passed away. We also said farewell to William Ruckelshaus (*1932), America’s first Environmental Protection Agency administrator and government official who defied Richard Nixon during the Saturday Night Massacre.

december:  The venue moved from Chile due to ongoing unrest, the environmental summit COP25 commences in Madrid.
Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin step down.   Greta Thunberg is named TIME’s Person of the Year.  In the UK General Election, a sizable Tory upset gives Boris Johnson a mandate for the UK quitting the EU.  Global trade wars with the US and the rest of the world as belligerents re-surges, this time over Nord Stream 2 (previously) and opting for an energy source at least marginally cleaner than American oil and natural gas obtained by fracking.  Wildfires continue to devastate Australia.  We had to bid farewell to pioneering Star Trek screenwriter DC Fontana (*1939), veteran stage and screen actor appearing in M*A*S*H*, Benson and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Renรฉ Murat Auberjonois (*1940), spiritual guru Ram Dass (*1931), accomplished actress Anna Karina (*1940) and Carroll Spinney (*1933), the puppeteer behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch (previously) for nearly fifty years.

Thursday, 21 November 2019

climate emergency

Collegially following the lead of its peer (though ever peerless in many regards, the Oxford English Dictionary (previously) defines its above selection as Word of the Year as “a situation for which urgent action is required to reduce or halt climate change and to avoid potentially irreversible environmental damage resulting from it.”  The nomination, backed up with irrefutable scientific evidence as well as trending tracking, is attended by other shortlisted terms including ecocide and eco-anxiety.

Saturday, 16 November 2019

รฅrets ord

Collins Dictionary has unveiled, beating out other neologisms, most of which are main-streamed and in common-parlance to the point where they need no definition, that played heavily into our conscious these past months like deepfake, bopo (body-positive), influencer, cancel-culture, rewilding and non-binary, its selection for Word of the Year as Climate Strike, a sustaining and motivating bit of traction and Trost (though we have had quite enough of the solace of hope without action) in a world otherwise pummelled with anxiety and confusion.

Friday, 18 October 2019

greta grotesk regular

Inspired by her now iconic signature hand-lettered protest placards, an up and coming foundry, we learn via Kottke, has issued a free typeface based on the script of climate champion Greta Thunberg (previously), suitable for making one’s own posters. In typography, a grotesque refers to the family of serif fonts with irregular qualities that were particularly favoured by sign-painters for their ability to stand out.

Monday, 16 September 2019

cfc

Despite far less consensus and surety regarding the exact culprit among the scientific community compared to the unity that we have for anthropogenic climate change today, the world’s nations unilaterally came together to draft and enforce a protocol to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, the outcome of a convention held in Montreal which became an international and universal priority on this day in 1987.
Depletion of atmospheric ozone first discovered and researched, with its grave implications limned and communicated during the intervening years, within just a little more than fourteen years public and political will aligned and overcame deniers and those in impacted industries—aerosol and cooling, with a managed phase-out of the most harmful compounds that fostered willing partnerships and commitments for reform. Among the few environmental success stories to hold up as examples of what we can achieve (though we should also be vigilant to avoid losing those gains and there’s unfinished business yet), human change has allowed the ozone layer to repair and replenish itself.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

okjรถkull

Via My Modern Met, we learn that a group of scientists and activists from Rice University in the course of producing a documentary called “Not Ok” chronicling the loss of Iceland’s first glacier (Ok for short) in Borgarfjรถrรฐur have created a memorial plaque and missive to the future, our judges whether we did what was needed to save the others.
Not only does it eulogise this tragic first slippage for the island that won’t be its last and the consequences of a catastrophic, runaway climate change. The plaque is to be installed 18 August and makes note of the atmospheric CO2 count in parts per million, which might become a novel way to date events.

Friday, 5 July 2019

boreal

Though not totally out of the woods (like the paradox that holds one can only wander half way into the forest because after that point, one is on the way out), Swiss researchers bring the encouraging news that planting a trillion trees could reduce carbon dioxide levels by fully two-thirds, sequestering the green-houses gases that man has been flagrantly pumping into the atmosphere for the past quarter of a century.
That last third will be tough to eliminate but together with continuing emission reductions, dietary changes and advancing technology, the task at hand no longer seems as hopeless—the boost from the trees, according to new models, far greater than expected. Not only would the massive greening of the planet be logistically tenable and a bargain too great to pass up—at around thirty cents per sapling, it would cost all of three-hundred billion dollars—and despite the considerable space that this many extra trees would need to grow, continental America plus China, surveyors have found room at the borders and verges and in derelict land without taking any places used for growing crops and urban spaces—though more trees would dot pasture lands and be to the benefit of grazing livestock. Everyone can take part and aside from the intrinsic and aesthetic value of trees (helping to stop erosion, drought, flooding and preserve biodiversity), it’s moreover an intervention that is not predicated on convincing the nay-sayers and science-deniers otherwise.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

flygskam

The above Swedish word for flight shame, accompanied by the hashtag jagstannar-pรฅmarken—meaning stay on the ground, have gained considerable cultural cachet in their native Sprachraum (sprรฅkomrรฅdet) and beyond as people become more keenly aware of the impact that flying has on the environment. Train ridership has seen an upturn with the trend continuing on the same trajectory and the government as well as tour operators are working to make rail routes an increasingly attractive and viable alternative.

Monday, 22 April 2019

don’t mess with mother

Graduating from its not nice to fool Mother Nature (the campaign for Chiffon margarine), Apple delivers a pretty intense advertisement—highlighting the capability of its camera—for Earth Day (previously) set to Megadeth’s 1985 thrash metal song Last Rites/Loved to Deth, to remind that Nature is a force to be reckoned with and that we’re squandering time at our peril. This latest short film is a departure from the gentler response in 2017 released after the US announced its withdrawal from the Paris Climate Treaty with a montage of outdoor photography to Carl Sagan’s narration of Pale Blue Dot.