Sunday, 2 October 2022

8x8 (10. 187)

vendedores ambulantes: the sonic landscape and signature cries (see also) of the street vendors of Ciudad de Mรฉxico—via tmn  

from erdapfel to equator: a globemaker’s glossary of cartographic terms—via the Map Room  

queenhithe: photographer Frank Merton captures London’s churches in the mid-1950s  

anti-cyclone: a proposal to tow a barge laden with jet engines blasting to dissipate the strength of an oncoming hurricane  

hyla orientalis: black tree frogs in Chernobyl demonstrate evolution in real time—via Slashdot 

blogoversary: a belated congratulations to Diamond Geezer on twenty years of posting   

the feral atlas: a journey of discovery and triangulation through our made environments from Stanford University and via Web Curios  

tlaltecuhtli: the iconography of the Aztec pantheon

Tuesday, 13 September 2022

8x8 (10. 131)

le milieu du monde: influential Swiss director Alain Tanner has passed away at 92  

zodiaco: we liked these astrological sign matchboxes from Josรฉ Marรญa Cruz Novillo—see previously  

circadian rhythm: an infographic comparing sleeping patterns across the animal kingdom  

landscape, portrait: a relatable, cautionary comic from xkcd  

punching down: US Republican governors ask Joe Biden to be less generous with his student debt forgiveness plan  

moxie: Perseverance’s experimental oxygen generation—via Super Punch 

trap set: chimpanzees in Uganda demonstrate their signature drum-beats, can communicate across great distances 

maรฎtre ร  penser: French New Wave film pioneer Jean-Luc Godard has exited the scene, aged 91

Monday, 12 September 2022

nosewise (10. 127)

Courtesy of the latest edition of You’re Dead to Mesee previously—and the panel discussion on animals in the Middle Ages, ranging from superstitions, scientific inquiry to animals standing trial, ecclesiastic courts usually trying wild creatures, excom-municating a swarm of locust for instance, whereas civil courts hearing cases involving domestic animals, we learn of the fifteenth century hunting treatise by Edward Norwich, Second Duke of York, The Master of the Game, a position the duke held in the court of Henry V. The volume not only includes several chapters devoted to different quarry, techniques and canine-care, it moreover includes a listing of nearly eleven hundred names that would be appropriate for such working animals, All Manner of Hounds, including the above, Nameles, Clenche, Bragge, Tullymully, Flithe, Honyball, Synfull, Garlik and Troy. His lordship, however, forbade anyone naming a pet Norman—presumably after the recently lost duchy, which does seem like a good name for a good boy. Here is the whole list within the manuscript for you to tag your pet—or yourself.

Thursday, 1 September 2022

a, e, i, o, u—and sometimes y (10. 103)

As part of an engrossing, thoroughgoing examination of the alphabet’s terminal letters and the semi-vowels, our modern w’s and y’s and their received orthography and form, The History of English Podcast, in the latest episode, informs that the in the prevailing Blackletter or Gothic scribal style, the risers (see also) are referred to as minims—the simplest stroke, the “i” and the source of our modern minimal and derived terms (hence, “I do not care one iota”) and these vertical elements, making for the quickest recording and transcription with a quill, sacrificed legibility for the sake of speed and economy of space—the word itself and others with m’s, n’s, u’s and i’s looking like a picket fence. Scribes found idiosyncratic ways of making texts clearer and reducing transmission errors by adding a tittle or a jot, and using a “y” for an ending “i.” Much more at the links above.

Friday, 26 August 2022

time in a bottle (10. 087)

A favourite topic here at PfRC being the subject of time and time-keeping and having previously covered topics of Roman hours, the French Revolutionary Decimal Calendar, Time Zones, Knocker-Uppers and Daylight Savings Time, we quite enjoyed this latest instalment of You’re Dead to Me—the comedy podcast that takes history seriously, that explores both the want to escape the tyranny of clock and how in its measurement of time, our horizons are broadened beyond the immediate to the eminent. Following one tradition that informs the generally agreed upon standard, it was the Roman conquest of Greek Sicily and bringing back the sundial of Syracuse as a war trophy and putting it on public display (despite being calibrated for Sicily-time) was the beginning of regimented time-keeping with the fabulist Titus Maccius Plautus lamented of this new installation in the forum during the Punic Wars, duplicated all over the empire, “May the gods damn the man who first discovered the hours—when I was a boy, my stomach was the only sundial, but now what there is isn’t eaten lest the sun say so.” Much more to explore at the links above.

Thursday, 25 August 2022

6x6 (10. 085)

the hero with a thousand faces: further exploration of Joseph Campbell’s monomyth—see previously 

well, the zombie-fighting phase of the zombie war is over: CDC issues updated guidelines for living with the zombie apocalypse 

pterygota: an exquisite look at insect launch and flight

vo₂: wonder alloy vanadium dioxide—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links  

carta marina: Olaf Magnus’ sea charts complete with sea monster sounds  

pendragon: evidence that suggests King Arthur may be a historical personage—see previously—via Miss Cellania’s Links

Monday, 22 August 2022

wish you weren’t here (10. 079)

Via Things Magazine, we are directed to a quite repulsive, compelling masters thesis from Natacha de Mahieu on overtourism that explores not only the growing chasm between social media and reality but about the performative instincts that have emerged as the leading edge of sharing society like a prisoner’s dilemma especially when we think that no one is watching, aptly titled Theatre of AuthenticityThis representative image of the lone national park in Portugal, Peneda-Gerรชs, properly radicalises me as we together use these composite photos taken over the course of an hour help us reconcile and resolve our own conflicts over travel and picture-taking and quite as the most jarring staging and unreality of nature’s quiet spots but rather for its backstory, de Mahie relating that she had to rig up her camera to take this shot remotely since otherwise people would politely stand out of frame to allow her to take her perfect souvenir. What do you think? Have you experienced such disconnect and struggle to create the illusion of leisure and discovery? I can understand the urge to want to see, experience something pristine before it’s all lost to our bad stewardship of the planet and feel some sympathy for those vying for one last pose. Much more at the links above.

and here we have idaho (10. 077)

Occupied by native peoples since at least the past ten thousand years and the subject of a territorial dispute between British America and the United States, the state cleaved from Oregon territory in the Pacific Northwest—with the above anthem—has quite jarringly (though I suppose not surprisingly) a wholly fabricated name. Lobbyist, prospector, fraudster (partnering with the baronet of Arizona) and putative physician George Maurice “Doc” Willing was a unrecognised delegate championing the creation of the State of Jefferson in the Midwest and in 1860 suggested the name for the successor region created from existing territories, claiming it was a Shoshone expression for “gem of the mountains”—now the state motto, but no such term existed in the newe taikwappeh language (representation is important and the widest known Shoshone word ought not to be an infamous, fake one that some white settler made up). Recanting years afterwards, Willing offered that he was inspired to name the area after a girl named Ida—though that statement was never verified either. The US Congress wanted to name the whole Rocky Mountain region Colorado Territory instead of using one completely fabricated—there was some resistance to employing a foreign, Spanish toponym as well—but as Idaho Springs was already incorporated as well as a eponymous county and a namesake steamship christened, the US government let the name stay.

Monday, 8 August 2022

7x7 (10. 046)

chorizo: prominent French scientists apologies after posting a sausage slice and claiming it was an image from the JWST—via the always excellent Everlasting Blรถrt 

gall stereographic projection: D’Arcy Thompson’s mathematical transformations and correspondent biological speciation—see also 

chapel of sound: otherworldliness of a monolithic amphitheatre with views of the Great Wall accentuated with a film short that evokes the landscape of Prometheus (see also)  

a bridge too far: there are no crossing over the Amazon—via the New Shelton wet/dry (at a new home at the New Inquiry)  

casino clock: a flip-face time-keeper sourced from a card deck  

scenic route: a navigation device that emphasises fun and adventure—via Swiss Miss  

when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie: the Solar System rendered as food items (with the help of Midjourney—Mercury as a cookie looks a lot like the Disc of Nebra)—via Super Punch

Sunday, 31 July 2022

u is for undine pursuing ulyssess and umberto, who fee her damp, death-dealing kisses (10. 028)

Via Nag on the Lake’s always excellent Sunday Links (lots more to see there), we are directed towards a concise, antique abecedarium (previously) of celebrities of 1899—most of whom are recognisable and accessible to modern audiences—with rhyming verses that gently lampoon fin de siรจcle poets, authors composers and politicians paired with figures from Antiquity. There’s no context really for this tightly rhymed (Q, V and X are done well) and nicely illustrated work by Oliver Herford that tosses together historic and contemporary personages in a bizarre manner but no matter. Columbus, who tries to explain how to balance an egg—to the utter disdain of Confucius, Carlyle, Cleopatra, and Cain.

Thursday, 14 July 2022

bringing up baby

Originally published on this day in 1946, the volume by pediatrician and psychologist Benjamin Spock and its subsequent editions (updated through 2018 to address same sex parents, gender identity and equity and advocating for a vegan diet) revolutionized and informed the post-war baby boom generation in the US and worldwide with his approach to child rearing that encouraged mothers and care-givers to trust their instincts and was a distinct departure from the conventional wisdom that emphasized regiment and regularity and withholding displays of affection. With the intent to disseminate a comprehensive primer to all parents and provide guideposts as to what to expect at various points of growth and development, Spock's book was made available broadly at a low cost of twenty-five cents so as to be affordable for any budget.

Wednesday, 13 July 2022

summer school

Sponsored and proposed by mathematics professor John McCarthy, Marvin Minsky (co-founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Nathaniel Rochester (computer engineer who designed IBM’s first commercial mainframe) and Claude Shannon, the extended brainstorming called the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence began on this day (or possibly 10 July) in 1956 and lasted eight weeks and was the foundational event that formed the field. The undirected group project, interspersed with lectures, broached the topics of computing, natural language processing, cognition, abstract concepts and neural networks and entertained various frameworks for testing their ideas—including playing chess against a machine. AI@50 was held at the same venue with half of the original delegates and attendees in 2006 to look back and reassess the challenges encountered and to better temper their understanding of the future.

Monday, 4 July 2022

♉︎ ⍺

First observed by sky-watchers in China on this day in 1054 (such temporary spectres were called generically “guest stars” ๅฎขๆ˜Ÿ) and visible, easily to amateur astronomers to this day as the stellar remnant known as the Crab Nebula Supernova (SN) 1054 is perhaps one of the best known examples, though it’s nature and origin were unknown until very recently. Anticipating the return of Halley’s Comet in 1758 (see also), Charles Messier confused the static plerion for the returning traveller and was motivated by his mistake to create a catalogue of the celestial sphere, with the Crab Nebula labeled as the first Messier object, M1.

Wednesday, 15 June 2022

sallie gardner at a gallop

Using a battery of dozen cameras capturing a single image in rapid succession, shutters activated once an object crossed a trip wire and broke the electromagnet circuit, Eadweard Muybridge (previously) created the first motion picture at the race track of the Palo Alto Stock Farm. The horse belonged to former governor, businessman and philanthropist Leland Stanford and the site of the photo session is now part of the campus of his namesake university who had commissioned Muybridge to document his estate and to prove his theories on equine locomotion—that in fact all four hooves are off the ground at the same time. Projected later with his zoopraxiscope, Muybridge’s technical achievement inspired Thomas Edison to create the kinetoscope, an early type of movie camera.

standing firm

On this day in 1992, whilst attending a spelling bee at the Muรฑoz Rivera elementary school in Trenton, New Jersey, vice president and former senator from Indiana Dan Quayle (see previously) corrected one pupil’s answer from potato to add an erroneous e at the end. Subject to widespread ridicule for this mistake (part of a long series of gaffes), in his memoirs Quayle blamed written material given to him in advance by the school. During the presidential campaign later that year, the incumbent facing challengers Al Gore and Vice Admiral James Stockdale (RET) for his office, Quayle declaimed to reporters that he believed that homosexuality was a choice, and “the wrong choice.”

Saturday, 11 June 2022

jahrbuch fรผr sexuelle zwischenstufen

Having been acquainted with the ground-breaking research of sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld previously, we appreciated the opportunity to revisit to the progressive views of this champion of reform and inclusion and the regressive forces that would undermine and undo his legacy and contributions through the lens of his Scientific-Humanitarian Committee and its annual Yearbook for Sexual Intermediaries that explored the full spectrum of sexual and gender identities and activities of the queer community. These studies and ethnographies went on to inform Hirschfeld’s authoritative 1904 volume Berlin’s Third Sex, a modish label of convenience in common-parlance at the time to express a continuum for which we are still searching for the right words. Much more from Public Domain Review at the link above.

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

section 28

With echoes of Florida’s current controversial Don’t Say Gay Bill and in effect until 2003 (Scotland dropped the series of laws in 2000 as one of Holyrood’s first items of business as a newly devolved parliament), the government of Margaret Thatcher introduced and enacted legislative measures that prohibited the “promotion of homosexuality” by local authorities on this day in 1988, causing many support groups to fold or severely curtail their activities. Named after the amendment to the Local Government Act of 1986, the language stated that municipal authorities shall not “intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality or promote the teaching in any maintained [public] school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.”

Friday, 20 May 2022

alcuin

Poet, academic, Abbot of Tours and recruited into the court of Charlemagne who wanted to retain “the most learned man anywhere to be found,” Alcuin of York (previously) is feted as a blessed man on this day on the occasion of the anniversary of his death in 804 (*735, actually a day prior but upstaged by the veneration of Dunstan). A prolific writer and scholar, Alcuin, styled in Latin Flaccus Albinus Alcuinus, contributed to the creation of and standardisation of Carolingian minuscule—that is, mixed case script, credited with the invention of the question mark and among his teaching materials is a collection of maths word problems and logic puzzles called Propositiones ad acuendos juvenes (Problems to Sharpen Youths—see also) which includes the first written mention of the wolf, goat and cabbage problem wherein a farmer is challenged to get himself and his purchases to the opposite bank of a river with everything intact.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

orbital mechanics

Enunciated for the first time the following year after some concerted fact-checking and re-taking measurements since the outcome seemed to elegant to be true, Johannes Kepler discovered the last of his three laws of planetary motion on this day in 1618, capturing the relationship between the distance of a astronomical body from its host star and the time it takes to complete a trip around it: that is, the value of the cube of the semi-major axis divided by the square of a planet’s orbital period is a constant—for our solar system. The publication was also delayed due to rather laborious attempts to reconcile his formula with the theory of the music of the spheres (see here and also above), thus making this third discovery known as the harmonic law.

Friday, 13 May 2022

unvollstรคndigkeitssatz

Futility Closet relates an anecdote from the live of mathematician Kurt Gรถdel in residence at Princeton University Institute for Advanced Studies and his friendship with fellow resident scholars physicists Albert Einstein (previously) John von Neumann and economist Oskar Morgenstern, whom felt obliged to make sure their younger charge’s tendency for over-thinking remained an asset and not his undoing and monitored Gรถdel’s preparation for the US citizenship exam in 1947, Einstein himself naturalised seven years earlier. The prodigal and influential logistician widely settled the impossibility of formulating a self-consistent and complete set of rules governing all of mathematics at the tender age of twenty-five, Gรถdel assayed the project of his examination with signature tenacity and revealed to his wardens that in his research, he had uncovered a fatal-flaw in the American constitution that could led to dictatorship, the corruption and consequence of totalitarian democracy. Einstein and company implored him not to share this discovery and the test was actually a much simpler affair, though basic civics and recent history might have suggested otherwise. The proctor for the citizenship test inquired of Gรถdel his state of origin and its form of government—to which Gรถdel replied Austria and a republic, but owed that “the constitution was such that it soon become a dictatorship.” Despite the examiner’s insistence that the same could not happen in the USA and Gรถdel’s refutation with the offer of proof, the panel stuck to the business at hand and conducted the test. No mention was made in their collective memoirs what that finding might have been and we suppose won’t know it until it’s happened.