Saturday, 18 June 2022

sunshade

Rather than pursue possibly risky and irreversible terrestrial geoengineering that might further ravage habitats and exacerbate the collapse of biomes, via TMN we learn that a group of researchers from MIT are hoping to create a thin film of deflective materials (easily deployable and reversible), like a parasol for our planet, that by just lessening the solar radiation that reaches us by two percent could give us the needed reprieve (in combination with efforts on other fronts, including serious lifestyle adjustments) to clean up our act.  More on MIT’s Senseable City Lab’s Space Bubble project at the link above.

Wednesday, 8 June 2022

weerrecords

Home to the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute as well as ancestral home and namesake of the Vanderbilt family, the town in Utrecht, De Bilt, experienced temperature extremes—likely recorded owing to said institute—during successive years of an unseasonable low of 1,5℃ and then 33,3℃ in 1914 and 1915. The upper record has since of course been trounced on but usually the thermometer does not reach those heights until August.

7x7

tidal power: Japan trials subsea turbines as a stable source of limitless green energy  

rethink the week: Stephen Fry and a host of animators believe that the time has come for a four-day work week—previously  

bosco verticale: Milan’s forested apartment block recreated in LEGO  

young macgyver: an unaired pilot spin-off of the original—remember when it was a huge reveal to disclose our hero’s first name?  

baad mambia: voicing AI output from Janelle Shane (previously) of Strong Bad from the flash animated series Homestar Runner—via Waxy  

mapped sonification: mouse around noisy cities and imagine how things will be different when our built environment isn’t designed to accommodate the internal combustion engine  

blue planet: World Oceans Day 2022 focuses on revitalisation—previously

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.

Friday, 22 April 2022

earth day

Organisers Denis Hayes and Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson who championed the establishment of the annual observance in support of environmental protection and better stewardship of the planet in congress—plus drumming up the earnest support of the United Auto Workers union which without the backing of the labour movement probably would have had no staying power—chose the date strategically as to time the holiday outside of college exams and Spring Break, student activism being among the important targets to carry the cause forward, and with the happy coincidence that the date range included the anniversary of the 1838 birth of John Muir—an American of Scottish extract regarded as the Father of the National Parks, avid naturalist, ecologist and conservationist who co-founded the Sierra Club and pushed the government to establish a nature reserve in the Yosemite region of California. 

Reportedly unbeknownst to Nelson and Hayes, the first 1970 celebration fell on the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Soviet revolutionary Vladimir Lenin (New Style, 1870), causing some media outlets to speculate at the time that it was not an unfortunately coincidence but rather signaled that the environmental movement was a “Communist trick” to subvert and indoctrinate the youth—apparently into caring for Nature and the world around them and engendered guilt over polluting and over-consumption. The themes for this year include Sustainable Fashion, the Great Global Clean-up, the Canopy Project (reforestation) and Climate and Environmental Literacy.

Sunday, 10 April 2022

7x7

improper fraction arena: Via friend of the blog Nag on the Lake’s superb Sunday Links and the depths of Wikipedia comes a list of articles submitted and ultimately rejected by dint of insanity  

possible to express in words: a useful term with a surprisingly sparse corpora 

reprise: another look at Davie Bowie’s 1973 The 1980 Floor Show through some raw footage—see previously 

a moveable feast: a look at the mode, median and mean dates for Easter and the method of computus  

a kitty bobo show: Kevin Kaliher’s pilot that went ungreen-lit in favour of Kids Next Door  

micromachines: researchers developing tiny molecular motors that could be deployed en masse to suck carbon from the air, supplement our own organs—via Slashdot  

did you know: from the depths to the Main Page

Tuesday, 15 March 2022

minutes to midnight

Via Open Culture, we learn about the history of the Doomsday Clock, first presented as symbolic representation of the likelihood of a human-created global catastrophe to the public nearly seventy-five years ago, starting at a comfortable buffer time of 23:53 but now wound up to a hundred seconds before the eve of destruction and seen its hands adjusted back and forth twenty-four times during the course of world events since 1947. A group of scientist who had contributed to the Szilรกrd petition and subsequent Manhattan Project began circulating a newsletter following the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to encourage restraint and never again seek recourse to nuclear weapons with a clock to represent the countdown to the inevitable outcomes should we stay this course and not make a decision to turn back the hands.

Friday, 4 March 2022

for what it’s worth

Via Kottke we are directed to a highly compelling project from Dillon Marsh that visualises mines in South Africa with a scale model representing the specie, minerals or gemstones extracted from it—like in this composite photograph of the Jubilee Mine in the Namakwa District and the sixty-five-hundred tonnes of copper ore dug from the Earth. Gains seem particularly marginal, inefficient and pathetic in comparison to all the hardships in cost of human toil and exploitation and environmental damage. More at the links above.

Friday, 7 January 2022

web 3.0 is going great and is definitely not an enormous grift that’s pour lighter fluid on our already-smouldering planet

Via Web Curios (definitely lot’s more to check out there), we are introduced to a project by Molly White who curates articles and discussion threads that illustrate the dark side of tech utopian-thinking and how we can’t just code our way to equality and out of an environmental crisis that is exacerbated by Ponzi schemes and chasing that greater fool. There are some choice headlines about corporate malfeasance, lack of disclosure and how riots and disruptions to the internet in Kazakhstan (to quash the coordination of said protests) reveal the extent of bitcoin mining occurring there, subsidised and underwritten by the government’s policy of producing cheap fuel from the dirtiest sources.

Thursday, 6 January 2022

soylent green is people!

With the environment ravaged by dead oceans, pollution, poverty and scarcity, the 1973 film with Charlton Heston, Joseph Cotten based on Make Room! Make Room! the science-fiction novel on resource-hoarding and over-population by Harry Harrison is set in the milieu of 2022. The titular foodstuff is reportedly harvested from plankton and in short-supply due to popularity. During investigations, however, it is determined that the seas are no longer viable and the protein is sourced to human remains gathered during protests by “scoops” and state-sanctioned euthanasia.

Sunday, 26 December 2021

the year in photos

2021 beginning a continuation of the previous year in many ways and not the grand departure we were counting on, changes and improvements are incremental rather than escapingly exponential and so appreciated, these collections of superlative images that chronicle the course of the past twelve months. There were of course too many arresting and consequential photographs to include them all, but this one picture framed by Don Seabrook of after school band practice addresses that stepwise nature of best-practices trialled and abandoned, sometimes without explanation, like those directional arrows in supermarket aisles that aren’t apparently needed any more or the rules of masking at restaurants and how safety bumps and personal mitigation-measures up on the limits of science. Much more to explore from Kottke at the link up top aggregating the lists from various news outlets.

Thursday, 23 December 2021

stillgelegt

On this day in 1986, the Zeche (Coal Mine Industrial Complex) Zollverein in the city of Essen ceased operations, workers leaving for Christmas break not to return, due to dwindling output that did not justify the high maintenance costs, among the last mining and coking facilities in operation in the Ruhrgebiet. The campus, built in the New Objectivity (Neue Sachlichkeit) style, is considered an architectural and engineering masterwork and the conserved landmark, Shaft 12, was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage registry in 2001.

Monday, 20 December 2021

6x6

kentucky christmas: the origins of KFC for festive dinners in Japan traced to the Osaka World Expo  

you sure have a way with people—well, they’re my species: Harold and Maude at fifty, with soundtrack by Yusuf (Cat) Stevens  

lake toilet-brush: the toponymic curse of IKEA product names 

 ๐Ÿ’Š: a round-up of the Resurrections premier  

build back better: US president Joe Biden’s legislative agenda derailed  

die hard’s a christmas movie: Eyes Wide Shut (1999) re-evaluated

Saturday, 11 December 2021

6x6

level 5—the scent represents a fully personal experience with some unrelated property. the experience itself has no aroma or shared understanding: Yankee Candle’s Stages of Abstraction—via Waxy  

pine-eleven: conservative pundits suggest arson attack on network’s Christmas tree a ‘hate crime’ and an assault on religious freedoms  

by-line: Bloomberg’s annual jealousy list of articles they wish they’d written—via Kottke  

a new system of arithmetic and metrology: Johan Nystrรถm’s hexadecimal tonal and temporal notation (1863)  

alpine exports: Little Switzerlands abroad—see also here and here  

you buy—i die: Indian handicraft as indictment against thoughtless consumption

Wednesday, 8 December 2021

from the depths of wikipedia

Via Waxy, we very much enjoyed this interview with Wikimedian and influencer—kindred spelunker and caretaker—Annie Rauwerda who shares her adventures lured down strange rabbitholes, daisy-chains and cul-de-sacs across several platforms. Perhaps the lone social media mogul whose project the public can intuit, Rauwerda regales, entraps us with delightful and seductive trivia, like Dolbear’s Law for instance, which describes the relationship between ambient air temperature and the frequency of cricket chirping (the number of chirps in eight seconds plus five is pretty close to the thermometer-reading in Celsius).

Saturday, 4 December 2021

wรถrter des jahres

The panel jury of the Society for the Germany Language (GfdS, Gesellschaft fรผr deutsche Sprache) in Wiesbaden has submitted its selection for Word of the Year (see previously) chosing Wellenbrecher (Breakwater, in the sense of disrupting successive waves of viral outbreaks) as the overall top neologism of 2021. Runners-up included Pflexit for the mass-exodus of nursing staff (Pflegekraft) from the profession from burnout, stress and even threats of physical violence, Impfpflicht (mandatory vaccination), Ampelparteien, the English borrowing Booster over the German word Auffrischungsimpfung—which was the preferred term for second-dose, and the new formulation Funf nach Zwรถlf instead of Five Minutes to Midnight in addressing the climate crisis.

Thursday, 25 November 2021

7x7

brickover: iconic album covers recreated in LEGO from Pasa Bon’s curious links 

sand castles: an innovative intervention to counter desertification 

all about photos: arresting, colourful best-in-show exhibits from the AAP annual competition—via Kottke

no one listens to cassandra: rediscovering a 1997 article on what could go wrong in the twenty-first century that’s eerily prescient  

parks & rec: a huge collection of vintage outdoor living catalogues and magazines—via the morning news   

what—it’s not magaggie’s birthday: an unauthorised Simpson’s cookbook  

spin-cycle: a gorgeous, inviting laundrette outfitted by Yinka Ilori and LEGO

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

ampelkoalition

After over two months of negotiations, the dominant political parties of Germany faring best in the last general election, the so-called Traffic Light Coalition by the colours of their respective factions, have agreed to form a new government with centre-left Olaf Scholz of the Social Democrats (SPD, Red) appointed as chancellor. Under this power-sharing agreement, the once deputy to Merkel will allot cabinet seats to other affiliates with Greens candidate Annalena Baerbock expected to become foreign minister and the fiscally conservative, neoliberal Free Democrats (FDP, Yellow) under the leadership Christian Lindner positioned to take control of the finance ministery.

Monday, 22 November 2021

merkmal

Already holding the distinction since 2014 of being the senior leader of the G7 and longest term in the European Union of any elected head-of-state, Angela Merkel,  holding a doctorate in quantum physics, was appointed to the chancellorship of Germany on this day in 2005, following federal elections and creation of a coalition government as chair of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU-Partei), in partnership with the Bavarian sister-party and the Social Democrats.  Acting as chancellor still under a caretaker administration until a successor is appointed, Merkel has helped the EU and her own country weather the Great Recession, expansion of the supranational bloc, a green power revolutions—Energiewende, ended military conscription, oversaw healthcare reforms, crafted domestic and international responses to migrant and asylum crises, Brexit, Trump and attendant horrors, COVID-19 and the climate emergency.