Sunday, 5 February 2023

tomorrowland 2055 (10. 526)

Due to budget cuts which already limited the number of planned attractions, Disneyland reluctantly opened up its last themed land to commercial sponsorship, becoming something of a showcase of corporate America, including Dutch Boy Paint, the agrochemical giant Monsanto and its Hall of Chemistry and General Electric with its Carousel of Progress. Space Mountain was proposed initially as a functioning space port for Disney World in the vicinity of Cape Canaveral.

Wednesday, 1 February 2023

9x9 (10. 515)

wickies: Fisheries and Oceans Canada is hiring assistant lighthouse keepers 

the montessori method: a look at the world’s mist influential school system  

little moving splat: Ze Frank (previously) covers the strange and wonderfully intelligent behaviour of plasmodial slime moulds  

unitar: a selection of one-string music—via Pasa Bon! 

blue harvest: a history of the spoiler alert—see also  

what is a map: an awful educational short from 1949 given the MST3K treatment 

dead as a dodo: a de-extinction company gets a one-hundred fifty million dollar investment  

the free-market tree: non-felonious children’s literature editions for the state of Florida  

coast guard: a collection of lighthouses of North America

Sunday, 29 January 2023

zero my hero (10. 507)

Turning fifty this month with its debut as a series with Multiplication Rock with songs written and performed by Bob Dorough going through the tables—see also—the interstitial animated educational shorts Schoolhouse Rock! was a staple of American Saturday morning cartoon programming, originally running through 1984. The original concept was suggested by an advertising executive of the influential firm McCaffrey and McCall’s that his young son was—despite being able to memorise the lyrics of Rolling Stones songs—struggling to rote lessons, resulting in the pre-canon “Three is a Magic Number” in 1971 before pursuing the project further. One of three between programming segments along with Time for Timer (“A Hankering for a Hunk of Cheese”) and the Bod Squad (“The Munchies,” “Don’t Drown Your Food”) and was followed by a second series, Grammar Rock, and for the US bicentennial in 1976, America Rock, culminating in the final run of Scooter Computer and Mister Chips.

Saturday, 21 January 2023

the sun is a mass of incandescent gas (10. 486)

Via Weird Universe, we are directed towards a collection of educational songs on the topic of astronomy performed by Dottie Evans and Tom Glazer and written by Hy Zaret (lyricist behind “Unchained Melody”, “The Partisan”) one LP in a series of six, “Singing Science,” meant to expose children to a variety of topics in the late 1950s through catchy little tunes. We especially liked “Constellation Jig” and “Planet Minuet.” Science fiction author Isaac Asimov praises these inspirational songs after his children received them as a gift and of course They Might Be Giants (previously) recorded a cover of the above “Why does the Sun Shine?"

Thursday, 12 January 2023

7x7 (10. 410)

salt of the earth: a tour of Ukraine’s Soledar salt mines—presently under siege 

black mass: Boston is hosting the Satanic Temple’s SatanCon—see previously

verpertilio-homo: what the Great Moon Hoax of 1835 reveals about contemporary misinformation  

lhs 475ฮฒ: JWST discovers its first exoplanet—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links  

discretionary time off: salaried Microsoft employees given unlimited vacation leave  

jot and tittle: an unorthodox scholar ferrets out biblical forgeries  

russie d’aujourd’hui: a look back at Soviet boosterism and propaganda publications

Wednesday, 11 January 2023

civics lesson (10. 407)

Citing the precedence of public nuisance laws which stopped a vaping manufacturer from marketing to young people, a school district in Seattle, Washington is filing a non-frivolous lawsuit against social media outlets, alleging that TikTok, Facebook, Instagram et al are exploiting vulnerable psychologies and creating addicts for their own profit and precipitating a widespread hardship for students and the education system that services them. The attendant mental health crisis—a challenge for the best equipped and dedicated counselling professionals—is a distinct disservice, siphoning precious resources and time from curriculum for intervention and threat-response stemming from distressing and intimidating posts, compiling a growing list of intentioned maladies. What do you think? The school board hopes that this injunction is a first step for students everywhere.

Tuesday, 10 January 2023

ื“ืฆ״ืš

A recent observation and question posted to Language Log brings us back to the cinematic experience of Vincent Price in his title role as The Abominable Dr Phibes who fiendish dispatches his victims and exacts revenge inspired by the biblical plagues visited upon Egypt to persuade the Pharaoh to let Moses and his people go. Phibes refers to the series of calamities by the term G’Tach, whose meaning appears illusive but is shown to be an abbreviation (indicated by the " sign), a mnemonic device to recall the order of water turning to blood, frogs, lice, hail, locusts, etc. formed by its initial and broken into three groups. More at the links above.

Friday, 6 January 2023

9x9 (10. 389)

varvuole: resides of Grado collect at Porto Mandracchio to watch the battle against the sea witches—see also—every Epiphany via Miss Cellania  

jet-set: the heyday of air travel and the factors that led to its downfall and disgrace  

missing link: the curious case of the Nebraska Man—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links 

the doors of mcmurdo: the barriers, corridors and dividers of the Antarctic research station—see previously—via Kottke  

foulbrood disease: a vaccine developed to prevent the spread of infections for honeybee hives  

serial fabricator: the life and lies of New York Congressman-elect George Santos

piltdown man: one of anthropology’s greatest and enduring hoaxes

the settle-carlisle line: scenic railway route built out of spite  

lately he’s been overheard in mayfair: a disco impression of An American Werewolf in London, considered for inclusion on the film soundtrack, by Meco—see previously

Monday, 2 January 2023

you’re on mute (10. 382)

Guilty of restoring to a zealous “absolutely” myself when question is a binary one and not a gauge of enthusiasm, we can fully get behind this banished words list put out annually by the faculty of Lake Superior State University in Michigan—in a tradition that dates back to 1976 as a curative declaration again misuse, overuse and redundancy. Culling from a thousand entries submitted yearly—past examples including “classic,” “viable alternative,” “zeroise,” “no worries,” “bespoke,” ♥︎ and strangely in 1985 the German phrase “in der Tat” (indeed) in 1985, those retired or otherwise banned for 2023 also include GOAT and inflection point, as well as some contenders for words of the year, like quiet quitting and gaslighting.

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

Friday, 30 December 2022

quis? (10. 373)

Via TYWKIWDBI, we are directed towards a trio of general knowledge challenges, including the latest edition (see previously) of King William’s College Winter Break Quiz near the Manx Castletown plus a brief, one page puzzle from the intelligence service GCHQ that seems like one of those Last Starfighter type recruitment initiatives. Set since 1904 and no longer is the former sat formally by pupils since 1999, but is rather sent home for students and their families to ponder over the holidays. More details at the links above.

Friday, 23 December 2022

how to draw christmas (10. 358)

Via Super Punch, having been previously acquainted with the sketching lessons of Ed Emberley—from the same source—we quite enjoyed this 1986 seasonal battery of exercises for decking the halls. Thirteen more festive panels to be found at Present /&/ Correct with more background at the links above. We especially liked the instructions for the sheep on wheels and the baubles and ornaments for the tree.

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

Saturday, 17 December 2022

7x7 (10. 342)

the gate of the exonerated: a new entrance to be named in honour of the falsely accused Central Park Five, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise and Kevin Richardson 

mighty mikko: a 1922 adaptation of Finnish fairytales 

time performance: taipa (ใ‚ฟใ‚คใƒ‘) and the Ukrainian pronunciation of Kyiv (ใ‚ญใƒผใ‚ฆ) are among Japan’s neologism—not characters—of the year  

mpi: social contagions, mass psychogenic illnesses, can lead to physical maladies—see also, and certain platforms may be superspreaders 

feliz navidad: beautiful vintage Christmas cards by artist Alejandro Rangel Hildalgo—via Marco McClean’s Memo of the Air  

blue light special: more Kmart reel-to-reel soundtracks—this one from December 1974  

heroes act: US supreme court admits more challenges to Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan

Thursday, 1 December 2022

week-by-week (10. 350)

Contributing correspondent and consultant Tom Whitwell, in an annual tradition has posted a collection of interesting facts he has gleaned over the past twelve months, highlighting one intriguing idea per week. The entire list is well worth your while to peruse. We've previously encountered item twenty—if you want a question answered on the internet, then post a wrong answer—in the form of Cunningham’s Law and the penultimate Swiss cheese cartel behind fondue but most were wholly new to us. We especially liked the advice on using conversational doorknobs to afford both parties to digress and confess, the fanciful Russian history articles on Chinese Wikipedia that went unnoticed for a decade (see also), inscrutable AIs—one accurately differentiating male from female eyes but none can figure out how—and the proposal for heavenbanning: instead of deplatforming an individual, replace their followers with artificial sycophants, ditto head bots and cutting off that bad actor from human interaction. Which one is your favourite?

Sunday, 27 November 2022

8x8 (10. 339)

truly toastmaster: an elaborate and enduring hoax that shows one should not believe everything on the internet—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links  

cabinet of curiosities: the intro, outro and interstitials of the horror anthology hosted by Guillermo del Toro, which has distinct echoes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents 

oopsie, i did a misinformation: an exploration on how and why Japan does the internet differently than the rest of the world with case study—via Waxy  

plasmonic photocatalysis: researchers engineer a nanomaterial that could allow for power plants to efficiently isolate hydrogen from ammonia using only light  

el peatonito: a champion of the pedestrian and other Super Citizens 

it’s not delivery, it’s digiorno: an interesting short documentary on the history of frozen pizza—via Hyperallergic’s Required Reading   

teal and prebunking: the shortlisted candidates for Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year  

goncharov: thousands of fan-fic contributors have retcon’d a 1973 Martin Scorsese film starring Robert De Niro that never existed—via Slashdot

Friday, 18 November 2022

dictes & sayengis of the phylosophers (10. 313)

 The first printed book in England to bear its date of issue inside the colophon of early publisher William Caxton (see previously), the compendium of words of wisdom and collected quotations was introduced as an incunabulum on this day in 1477 as a Middle English translation by Anthony Woodville, bibliophile and brother-in-law of Edward IV, based off the original work of eleventh-century scholar Al-Mubashshir ibn Fatik—with some attributions and biographies, mostly on Greek and legendary thinkers but later revisions included biblical words of wisdom, slightly dubious but long since established as canonical.

Saturday, 5 November 2022

this is a dynamic list and may never be able to satisfy particular standards for completeness (10. 275)

Via the always engrossing Web Curios, we find ourselves directed down a rabbit hole that is anything but a listicle in this collection of fallacies and factoids that make up Wikipedia’s (multilingual) muster of common misconceptions. We’ve covered some folk etymologies, like the pretence of “ye olde pub,” our that X-Mas wasn’t an assault on Jesus, but the supposed four-letter initialism formed from the phrase (also not true) “fornicating under the consent of the king” was a new one to us. Another misconception dealt with the radio-listening public’s response to Orson Welles’ 1938 adaptation of H G Wells’ The War of the Worlds, with not a wide audience share tuned in, newspapers elaborated isolated incidents of panic to undermine its competitor as a medium for advertising. Contrite at first, the broadcaster, CBS, later came to embrace and perpetuate the myth. There’s a non-exhaustive though quite comprehensive list of falsehoods and biases to be disabused of to be found at the links above.

Wednesday, 2 November 2022

buffer overflow (10. 263)

Released on this day in 1988 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology network (to avoid suspicion at his own university), the eponymous Morris worm (short for tapeworm due to its parasitic lifestyle) was one of the first to be distributed on the internet, written by a graduate student from Cornell named Robert Tappan Morris—the son of a US National Security Agency cryptographer, and exploited a range of vulnerabilities to propagate, and like a fork bomb was able to crash systems by overburndening them. Intended as a white-hat hacking exercise to explore vulnerabilities, Morris had originally programmed the worm to check if a system was already infected but instead instructed it to replicate itself a given percentage of times—leading to a destructive, exponential avalanche of malicious code, leading to his conviction under the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Paying a hefty fine and suspended from school, Morris nonetheless would go on to become a professor of computer science at MIT and co-found Viaweb, one of the first web apps and the venture capital funding firm Y Combinator, backing the launch of over three thousand internet ventures, including DoorDash, Reddit, Twitch and Airbnb.

Wednesday, 19 October 2022

friรฐuswฤซรพ (10. 237)

Princess and abbess and credited with founding a priory later incorporated into the College of Christ Church, Frithuswith is fรชted on this day, marking her death in 727, as patron saint of the university, city and shire of Oxford (see also). Daughter of Didan, sub-king of Mercia, Frithuswith was compelled to flee the advances of ร†thebald of Leicester (in order to preserve her vow of celibacy) and was transported to the hamlet of Weald with some divine intervention. With a host of miracles attributed to her, including the remission of maladies and the summoning up an enchanted well, Frithuswith cult grew and following its destruction in the eleventh century during the St Brice’s Day Massacre, the pilgrimage destination weathered the turmoil of the Dissolution of the Monasteries and vandalism during the Reformation mostly intact. Intent on subduing her popularity, a Calvinist canon of the church had her remains disinterred and comingled with those of an recently deceased ex-nun called Catherine Dammartin, the wife of another priest which for the towns people was considered rather scandalous, to put an end to this idolatry of relics. Despite all this, Frithuswith is still embraced by the community and her feast day is also celebrated as Oxfordshire Day to promote local cultural institutions.