Monday, 2 January 2023

6x6 (10. 381)

your posture is correct if you can lift your right foot in the air and rotate it effortlessly without falling: a Finnish tutorial from 1979 on the proper way to open doors—with subtitles in several languages

gebrausgraphik: the ornament and logo design of Max Kรถrner 

de laudibus sanctae crucis: the medieval pattern poems—that reference the Phaistos Disk and anticipate calligrams—of Magister Rabanus Maurus (see previously here and here)  

sword out of the stone: King Tut’s space dagger and other superlative archaeological finds—see previously  

wood wide web: ethereal ghost flower forgoes photosynthesis—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links  

inside story: an appreciation of Slim Goodbody

Monday, 19 December 2022

7x7 (10. 345)

munro: better known for his violent Tom & Jerry shorts, Gene Deitch (previously—not the best counter-example) an acclaimed, award-winning animator 

thirty by thirty: environmentalists and delegates reach a landmark agreement to conserve nature and protect the rights of indigenous peoples 

incite a riot: January Sixth committee recommends a range of charges to be levied against Trump  

santaland: department store Christmas monorails—via the Everlasting Blรถrt 

scootch over: on the quarter-century anniversary of the premier of Titanic, director James Cameron wants to put to rest a roiling debate  

a slice of the cosmos: an interactive map of the observable Universe from Johns Hopkins University  

lichtspiel opus i: the Avant-Garde animation of Walter Ruttmann

Sunday, 11 December 2022

projekt panropa (10. 378)

Having previously been acquainted with the monumental madness by Bauhaus, utopian architect Hermann Sรถrgel and his plans to dam and drain the sea to make one vast arable expanse from southern Europe through north Africa, we were quite pleased to come across this illustrated 1929 pamphlet “Lowering the Mediterranean / Irrigating the Sahara,” (Mittelmeer-Senkung. Sahara-Bewรคsserung) which in all fairness didn’t call for its total emptying, just enough to harness it for hydroelectric power and diminution enough to rename it after his project and promote a nascent transatlanticism to counter a perceived ascendant Asia. Of course, this titanic engineering project never left the drawing board but it nonetheless gives pause to contemplate the ideas that we do end up running with and how those inform our accomplished present trajectories. More at the links above.

Friday, 9 December 2022

data dump (10. 373)

Although unashamedly US-centric, the just-published Year in Search retrospective from Google nonetheless yields some insights for this past year and our collective engagement with the news and trends. 

It seems that we were less interested in chasing memes and more focused on the news and an interesting feature (America only apparently) allows one to find popular search terms locally. There are several categories–plants, pets, people–of analytics to parse and contrast and the top ten searches (with apparent recency bias) worldwide were: 

  • Wordle
  • India vs England
  • Ukraine
  • Queen Elizabeth
  • Ind vs SA
  • World Cup
  • India vs West Indies
  • iPhone 14
  • Jeffrey Dahmer
  • Indian Premier League

The top news queries were: Ukraine, Queen Elizabeth’s passing, Election Results, Powerball Numbers and Monkeypox. More at the links above.

Sunday, 30 October 2022

8x8 (10. 258)

♄iii: a 1980 Kirk Douglas, Farrah Fawcett sci-fi vehicle about colonising Triton by Star Wars set designer John Barry  

le forme variabili: a comprehensive guide to pasta selection  

christ stopped at eboli: an abandoned village in Basilicata—via Things Magazine  

the consent of the governed: as a platform, Twitter is a train wreck despite itself 

sessile by nature: Charles Darwin documents movement in plants—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Linkssee previously  

here an anteater that also appears to be some sort of quail in a sweater: an AI virtually, humanely dresses up cats in costumes for Halloween—see previously  

dead man’s body buffet: spaghetti is the creepiest food  

earth minus zero: a 1996 “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” with Sam Jones, Pat Morita and Joey Travolta

Friday, 7 October 2022

7x7 (10. 203)

silphium: an ancient superfood of the Mediterranean world thought extinct possibly rediscovered in Turkey—via Strange Company 

unsung heroes: a LEGO diorama depicts a crew keeping the sewers unblocked—with more links to fatbergs  

mlle musidora: reviving a forgotten icon of the Belle ร‰poque—see also  

centaur chess: machines can handily beat grand masters but a computer-human team is unstoppable  

the legend of sleepy hallow: the wild ride behind the Headless Horseman

pendant lighting: Ambience Studio upcycles LEGO bricks into a colourful lamp  

pommes bleu: the annual optical spectacle that the intersection of the sun and these stained glass windows of the chapel of Rennes le Chรขteau draws pilgrims

Thursday, 6 October 2022

supernormal (10. 199)

Our gratitude to Boing Boing contributor Mitch Horowitz not just for the introduction to botanist and founder of the field of parapsychology Joseph Banks Rhine but more over for upholding his rigour and the scientific approach that he and his wife and intellectual partner Louisa, also holding a doctorate in plant studies and statistics, applied to phenomena of mediumship, telepathy, precognition and telekinesis, taking interest in the paranormal after attending a lecture in May of 1922 delivered by Arthur Conan Doyle extolling reputed proof for communicating with the dead. Championing the scientific method for a branch that Rhine considered an off-shoot of abnormal psychology, he later earned the ire and denunciation of the Sherlock Holmes author for exposing his favourite sรฉance host as a fraud. While the Rhines’ exhaustive research in extrasensory perception (helped by colleague Karl Zener) have resisted reduplication, by dint of their transparency and volume should not be dismissed as pseudoscience and certainly have endured in popular and practical culture.

Tuesday, 13 September 2022

i have conjured a lily to light these hours, a token of thanks (10. 129)

In his second poem dedicated to the Queen this year, Poet Laureate Simon Armitage (previously) has penned two verses to mark her passing, Floral Tributesee also—whose lines are a double acrostic that spell out her name. 

Evening will come, however determined the late afternoon,
Limes and oaks in their last green flush, pearled in September mist.
I have conjured a lily to light these hours, a token of thanks,

Zones and auras of soft glare framing the brilliant globes.
A promise made and kept for life – that was your gift –
Because of which, here is a gift in return, glovewort to some,
Each shining bonnet guarded by stern lance-like leaves.
The country loaded its whole self into your slender hands,
Hands that can rest, now, relieved of a century’s weight. 

Evening has come.
Rain on the black lochs and dark Munros.
Lily of the Valley, a namesake almost, a favourite flower
Interlaced with your famous bouquets, the restrained
Zeal and forceful grace of its lanterns, each inflorescence
A silent bell disguising a singular voice. A blurred new day
Breaks uncrowned on remote peaks and public parks, and
Everything turns on these luminous petals and deep roots,
This lily that thrives between spire and tree, whose brightness
Holds and glows beyond the life and border of its bloom.

Monday, 5 September 2022

7x7 (10. 110)

ch-ch-ch-chia: University of Virginia research team 3D prints living walls and roofs  

the road to rhรปn: more interactive LOTR maps to explore—see previously  

defenestration: accident-prone energy executives  

doctor doolittle: translating non-human animal vocalisations into language with artificial intelligence 

the hunt for the golden walnut brain of ronald reagan: an adventure from John Hoare (previously)—via Things Magazine  

lady woman: a sample track from Boris Midney’s reimagining of 1979 “Evita” as a disco opera 

reefer madness: researchers make an advance in the race to save Caribbean coral, whose health also affects hurricane intensity

Tuesday, 2 August 2022

9x9 (10. 032)

iron monger: a preserved Victoria shopping alley hidden underneath an Edwardian arcade in Yorkshire  

u1ke: a constrained coding experiment from Frank Force (previously) lets you strum on a 1024 byte ukulele—via Waxy  

put a tiger in your tank: a brilliant, bizarre vintage ESSO filling-station commercial from Italy  

white-washing: researchers develop a highly radiative paint that cools the ambient air—see also  

call me ishmael: imagining a multinational coffee purveyor as other characters from Moby Dick  

carbon-negative: biogenic limestone grown by algae as a concrete substitute 

future farming: an exploration of sustainable, incidental agriculture  

transcorporeality: bug-swallowing in fiction  

spectacular vernacular ii: more architectural quirks, including witch-windows

Monday, 1 August 2022

tree of life (10. 030)

Via Maps Mania, we quite enjoyed this taxonomical exploration of the known species of biological life on Earth in LifeGate2022 presented by Martin Freiberg, curator of the botanical gardens at the University of Leipzig—visually and zoomable and arranged phylogenetically.

Tuesday, 12 July 2022

7x7

smacs 0723: astronomers unveil the first colour pictures from the James Webb Space Telescope—see more, see previously  

power plant: an interactive map of energy and industry from the European Commission  

ecovado: a sustainable, locally-sourced alternative to the imported avocado  

empire rollerdome: New York street photographer Patrick D Pagnano captures 1980s roller disco—via Messy Nessy Chic 

 €/$: euro, US dollar at parity  

maps mastery: a profile of expert-level GeoGuessr players—via Waxy  

zero-g: researchers at Kyoto University design artificial gravity architecture

Monday, 27 June 2022

macroglossum stellatarum

The butterflies have discovered our patch of lavender for sometime now and there’s always at least half a dozen of them swarming about but now it seems the community of hummingbird hawk moths (Taubenschรคnzchen) is enjoying nectaring a la cartรฉ as well. An example of convergent evolution, recognising the same quiver of behaviours and adaptations with its long proboscis to probe flowers works across species. Unlike other moths which are either diurnal or nocturnal, these hawk moths can be found active at all hours and display no visible sexual dimorphism—even in the antennal lobes size, serving a comparable role as the olfactory bulb in vertebrates and which is a prominent marker for most moths in distinguishing between male and female.

Wednesday, 15 June 2022

tragopogon pratensis

Having always assumed that such specimens were just giant dandelions (see previously with another pre-seed example), I was pleased to learn was a related but distinct species that grows across Europe and North America and goes by the common names meadow Salsify, showy Goat’s-Beard (Wiesen Bocksbart auf Deutsche) or Jack-Go-To-Bed-At-Noon (as the yellow flower—see above—only opens in the morning sunshine. The blowball is much larger than that of the dandelion and the leaves are more grass-like rather than serrated.

Saturday, 11 June 2022

e.t. phone home

Premiering in US theatres on this day in 1982—following its debut at the Cannes Film Festival in May—the Steven Spielberg and Melissa Mathison collaboration featuring the acting talents of Henry Thomas, Peter Coyote, Dee Wallace and Drew Barrymore is a retelling of Peter Pan framed by the director and producer’s own suburban childhood and experiences of his parents’ divorce. An extra terrestrial botanist accidentally left behind on Earth befriends a human boy and his siblings and tries to find a way to reconnect with his scouting mission whilst thwarting attempts of government scientists trying to capture and study him. The iconic, arresting scene of E.T. and Elliot’s flight to the forest is an homage to the magical realism of the 1951 Miacolo a Milano by Vittorio De Sica of a poverty-stricken community in post-war Milan who are cheated out of a potential windfall, reprimanded by angels for harnessing supernatural powers but nonetheless are free and eventually escape on broomsticks.

Friday, 10 June 2022

9x9

web revival: rediscovering the serendipity of hyperlink daisy chains—via Joe Jenett  

free-range children: relocating from London, Ontario to Amsterdam  

sure-footed: a goat-like heavy-lifting robot called BEX under development—via Super Punch 

lavender fields of surrey: a seasonal stroll through an aromatic patch of land  

mono men: the Punk, Grunge aesthetic of Art Chantry 

hyakutsuki-in: a beautiful locker-style cemetery in Toyko  

hounds of love: a 1992 interview with Kate Bush (previously), breaking down her 1985 album track by track  

sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment: an enigmatic sign spotted on a nike trail 

jacob hive maker: first streaming film Wax; Or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees (1991)

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

Saturday, 28 May 2022

8x8

scotch tapes: commercials, idents and continuity from British television from 1984 salavaged from VHS casettes  

boldly go!: a medley of songs from and about the Star Trek franchise—see also  

apiculture: a survey of bee hives throughout the ages  

latex: Goodyear and the US Department of Defence are partnering to manufacture tyres from dandelions—see previously  

kleksographien: revisiting the blotograms (previously) of Justinus Kerner plus other inspired symmetries  

red wine and ginger ale: Vulture correspondent Rebecca Alter samples all the food combinations referenced in Harry’s House  

diagrammatic map: another look at how Massimo Vignelli presented mass transit to the masses—see previously here and here—via Things magazine  

the fantastic journey: an obscure 1977 time-travel series starring Joan Collins and John Saxon

Monday, 16 May 2022

6x6

dandelion wine: slow drinks made with our favourite noxious weed—see also  

give that wolf a banana and before that wolf eats my grandma: Norway’s Eurovision entry—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links  

stablecoin: the collapse of NFT and crypto markets 

 for every bear that ever there was: 1984 reportage of Keanu Reeves covering a teddy bear convention for the CBC—via Everlasting Blรถrt  

homeostatic awakening: new developments in the Fermi paradox—see previously here and here  

quattro bianchi: Italy’s answer to the Long Island Iced Tea packs a wallop

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.