Monday, 17 October 2022

7x7 (10. 232)

cheesewrights and turophiles: Noรซlle Janaczewska on the culinary and artistic history of cheese 

causal observer: a teenager in Trondhjem called Christian Charlotte Elster captured various scenes of Regency-Era Norway in the early nineteenth century–via Messy Nessy Chic  

perhaps more like edison than tesla: friends, family and enemies discuss Elon Musk

putinversteher: Russian leadership enlisting influential mouthpieces to convince Western governments to accede to their narratives–see previously

kukla, fran & ollie: a Youtube channel working to conserve and put on-line over seven hundred episodes of the 1950s puppet theatre–via r/ObscureMedia   

parlement technologies: the rapper formerly known as Kanye West announces plans to purchase rightwing friendly social media site  

la pyramide des saveurs: France’s reigning and unrivaled Queen of Cheeses, Nathalie Quartrehomme

Saturday, 17 September 2022

norton i (10. 143)

Resident of San Francisco and at one point being one of the richest citizens of the city after some successful real estate speculation and commodities trades—though through over-estimating his acumen and downplaying the role of luck, overplayed his hand on a shipment of rice (due to a famine in China), precipitating a collapse in the market, Joseph Abraham Norton, originally from Deptford, England and growing up in South Africa, declared himself Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico on this day in 1859, coincidentally the anniversary of the signing of the US constitution in Philadelphia in 1787. After bankruptcy in 1852, unsuccessful in rebuffing his debtors, Norton faded from public notice as a business magnate and grew increasingly cynical about local and federal governance—launching a failed bid for congress. In his adopted hometown, however, Norton returned with a flourish first issuing a manifesto in the San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin that broadly outlined the “national crisis,” in his summation, and how to address it, and second—in the same publication, decreeing: 

At the peremptory request and desire of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I, Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now for the last 9 years and 10 months past of San Francisco, California, declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these United States; and in virtue of the authority thereby in me vested, do hereby order and direct the representatives of the different States of the Union to assemble in Musical Hall, of this city, on the 1st day of February next, then and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is labouring, and thereby cause confidence to exist, both at home and abroad, in our stability and integrity. 

— NORTON I., Emperor of the United States. 

Orders and summons were ignored by the US congress and the armed forces, but Norton’s reign was received with tolerance and bemusement to genuine affection by some fellow residents who continue to embrace his legacy and even token recognition by the local establishments that Norton frequented that accepted his currency and even by the federal government that allowed him to enter his occupation as “Emperor.” A trust established in 1939 and continuing through the present day have petitioned naming the Bay Bridge in honour of Norton I, his imminence having suggested that a span be built linking Oakland and San Francisco as early as 1872.

Saturday, 9 July 2022

8x8

carina nebula: first five subjects for JWST announced  

a pharmacopeia with balneological appendix: a primer and point of departure for the mysterious pre-Renaissance volume, the Voynich Manuscript—see previously

putt-putt for the fun of it: a time-capsule of miniature golf courses 

trap daddy: spoof Russian history on Chinese Wikipedia introduces us to a catch-phrase for the deception hoax—see also, see previously  

jubilee: inflexibility applied to finance and debt contributed to the downfall of the Roman Empire  

spatter platters: morbid 1960s teen tragedy songs

hushed-tones: a neural network makes a nature documentary about ants  

hudf: JWST takes deepest image of the Cosmos without even trying plus other space news briefs

Wednesday, 29 June 2022

dear mister andropov

For what would have been her fiftieth birthday had not her life been tragically cut short by a plane crash at the age of thirteen, Deutsche Welle has a retrospective appreciation on the ten-year old Cold War peace ambassador and avid letter-writer Samantha Reed Smith of Holton, Maine who at a very tense point in Soviet-US relations—the nuclear superpowers having abandoned their recent policy of dรฉtente, a race on to militarise space, widespread peace protests, the Afghan conflict and The Day After all had people whipped into a frenzy—reached out to the new Russian leader late in 1982, the successor to the post of Leonid Brezhnev characterised in the press as the architect of the suppression of the Prague Spring and for suppression of dissidents, congratulating him and expressing her fears about nuclear escalation and asked him to write in return. Failing to get a timely reply (despite its publication in Pravda), Smith also reached out to the embassy in Washington, DC before in April of 1983 the General Secretary responded himself, with a personal invitation to visit the Soviet Union. More on Smith’s tour and brief but impactful legacy at the link up top.

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

surprise witness

An unscheduled sixth public hearing during what was originally called as an extended adjournment of the United States House Select Committee on the January Sixth Attack on the Capitol was an unexpected bombshell with testimony (albeit the majority of information secondhand but significantly delivered under oath which is not an obligation the witness’ detractors can claim or need to adhere by) from an insider that portrays Trump as a willing participant in the attempted insurrection, wanting to personally accompany the rioters and directing that security barriers and metal detectors be removed in order that a larger crowd could gather, dismissing the fact that they were armed and violent, saying that their anger (over a patent lie that the election had been stolen) wasn’t directed at him. Trump’s security detail did not allow him to go to the Capitol, though he struggled to wrest away control of the presidential limousine and was returned to the White House to sulk—delaying his calls to quell the violence, even as reports came that the mob was chanting “Hang Mike Pence!,” whom Trump offered deserved it. The testimony of former aide to Trump and his chief of staff increases the chances that the US Department of Justice could bring criminal charges against Trump.

Friday, 17 June 2022

oppo research

A few hours past midnight on this day in 1972, Watergate Complex (previously) security guard Frank Wills on patrol noticed tape on the hinges of some doors coming from the parking garage to office doors—preventing them from locking when closed. Removing the tape, Wills dismissed it as something innocent—perhaps janitorial staff propping the exit open—but returning upon returning to the same corridor a short time later, Wills saw the tape had been reapplied, so he called for back-up. Three officers showed up, dressed as hippies and on an undercover shift looking to arrest drug-dealers, and the look-out for the operation, staying at the Howard Johnson’s across the street failed to alert his co-conspirators, distracted by Attack of the Puppet People on the television, failing to spot the police car outside. The police apprehended five individuals who had broken into the Democratic National Committee headquarters housed in the complex, photographing documents and attempting to plant bugging devices. The Washington Post broke the story the next day, though the “White House plumbers,” charged with stopping security leaks, downplayed the failed attempt as a “third-rate and amateurish” burglary, categorically denying any involvement by the Nixon administration.

Wednesday, 15 June 2022

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.”

Sunday, 7 November 2021

four seasons total documentary

Via Miss Cellania, we are treated to a preview of the documentary, premiering in full on the occasion of the press conference’s one year anniversary, about the venue (see previously here and here) booked by the Trump campaign by mistake that became a media sensation from the perspective of the landscapers that ensured the boon and bane of viral fame.

Monday, 25 October 2021

urgent fury

Along with a coalition of six Caribbean partner states, the United States embarked on this day in 1983 on its first and only military victory since partaking in World War II with its predawn invasion of Grenada, the island nation recently decolonized and independent from the United Kingdom. Characterised by outsiders as a Marxist-Leninist vanguard organization, the New Joint Endeavor for Welfare, Education and Liberation, the New JEWEL movement, chartered prior to attaining its self-governing status, had seized power in a peaceful coup from the first ministry installed after the UK’s departure.

Internal struggles among party leadership escalated to an armed confrontation that resulted in the killing of the movement's leader, Maurice Bishop, and a group of his supporters once the shooting began under still disputed and unresolved circumstances, and in turn elevated into an international crisis with the United States lobbying for immediate intervention.
Though transparently a pretext for the invasion and occupation, Ronald Reagan, wanting to forestall a repeat of the Iran Hostage Crisis, attributed his actions to “concerns over the six hundred US medical students on the island,” (the country offering medical school at affordable rates and presenting an attractive alternative to US tutition) and remained steadfast in his decision despite nearly universal condemnation and censure in the UN. Under the leadership of Major General Norman Schwartzkopf, Cuban presence was expelled to prevent further communist influence and a government friendly to capitalists' interest was propped up, though the prevailing narrative is still a contentious one and not authored by the Grenadians.

Sunday, 12 September 2021

bergruine hutsburg

Having lost the trail a couple weeks ago trying to hike up to the ruined donjon, isolated and nearly forgotten though once one of the most imposing fortifications in the area due to its location on the former border between East and West Germany, whilst trying to approach it from the Bavarian side, we ventured up the Hutsburg to see the eponymous fortress from the thรผringischer side.
First passing through the ghostly remnants of villages deemed a liability owing to their nearness to the border (previously here and here), we slowly climbed up the mountain and at the wooded summit encountered the tall of the shield wall and foundations, with the sun shining through the otherwise dark forest through the ancient portal.
Though far older than its first documented reference in the early twelfth century (possibly from the four hundreds in some form of fort), I suspect that these runes were a more recent graffito. It was a strategic possession of the counts of Henneberg and degenerated over the years as the power of the family waned to little more than an outpost for slum lords—Raubritter, literal robber barons in the sense of unscrupulous feudal landowners who imposed higher taxes without the approval of a higher authority and expropriation, culminating with the intervention of the king in the fabled execution of a gang of such bandits after a a siege lasting weeks (the subject of a German nursery rhyme:
Ernst war sie eine stoles Feste / doch heute sieht man our noch Reste. Mit Nรผrnberge Schraubenzeug ward sie gebrochen / Und zweiundviersig Rรคuber kamen hervorgekrochen. Noch erhobenen Hauptes und voller Stolz, / kรผrtze man sie gleich um selbiges, was Solls.
Basically, Once a proud Fort, but today only rubble remains / Battered with catapults / forty-two robbers emerged / Hoisted by their own petard) and was passed through the lordship of Tann and Kere.
The bulwark was not to meet its final fate and fall into ruin and disrepair until the Peasants’ Revolt of 1525 (die Bauernkrieg, see also) when the rebellion successfully stormed and took the castle, the Hutsburg being one of the few castles of the Rhรถn active at the time of its taking, most empty and irrelevant at this point in history and under the administration of a bailiff. Though the victory was not strategically significant, it was important symbolically as overthrowing the trapping and tool of oppression and serfdom.

Thursday, 9 September 2021

7x7

terrorstorm: the garbage documentaries that fulled the cult of conspiracy theorist, fragility and New Age Paranoia  

chestbursters and facehuggers:an official Alien xenomorph cookbook to liven up the dinner table  

en hobbits รคventyr: Moomins’ creator Tove Jansson illustrates Tolkien’s work 

skeuomorphs: vestigial, hidden parts of consumer electronics  

docudrama: a guide to making a Netflix style serial on the topic of one’s choosing  

next sunday a.d.: a neglected remix, compilation of the MST3K Satellite of Love theme  

white rabbit: redpilling (previously) and the regime

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

proclamation 4311

Issued on this day in 1974 by American president Gerald Ford, the directive granted a full and unconditional pardon to his immediate predecessor for any crimes he may have committed against the United States as its leader. In response to public outcry Ford defended his decision to exercise his prerogative in excusing Nixon, particularly over the Watergate Scandal (previously), saying it was for the good of the country to close this tragic chapter. Privately, after leaving office, Ford justified his actions by keeping on his person—in his wallet—a copy of a 1915 US Supreme Court decision that affirmed the notion that accepting a pardon implies a confession of guilt. I’m sure that assuaged his conscience.

Friday, 3 September 2021

it’s the plumber—we’ve come to fix the sink

Under the direction of US presidential advisor John Ehrlichman coordinated a team of burglars who would go on to attempt the Watergate break in (previously) to infiltrate the offices of Washington, DC psychiatrist Lewis Fielding also on this day in 1971. Dr. Fielding was treating former US Department of Defence contractor with the RAND corporation Daniel Ellsberg, whom had leaked the “Pentagon Papers” the prior year to the press. Although they found Ellsberg’s file, the operation yielded no useful information.

Saturday, 28 August 2021

8x8

letraset press: a collection of instant lettering dry-transfer sheets (see previously) from Coudal Partners’ Fresh Signals 

the woman who stared at the sun: the circumstance and contributions to astronomy of Hisako Koyama who helped hone our understanding of solar cycles 

a good walk spoiled: an in-depth look at how golf course exacerbate the housing shortage  

couch gag: a clever individual shares their construction of a miniature replica of the Simpsons’ purple television set that plays random episodes 

one week supply: a podcast discussing Damn Interesting’s curated links section 

the china syndrome: a super-tunnel simulator that illustrates the quickest, shortest routes to connecting points around the globe—see also  

tartu snail tower: the spiralling skyscraper in Estonia’s second city  

the art of letters: a typographical study from Mark Gowing

Sunday, 15 August 2021

i have directed secretary connolly to suspend temporarily the convertibility of the dollar into gold or other reserve assets, except in amounts and conditions determined to be in the interest of monetary stability and in the best interest of the united states

Effectively ending the economic arrangement among Canadian, Western Europe, Australia and Japan since 1944, the Bretton Woods system (see previously), the first fully negotiated monetary order recognised across independent polities that regulated exchange rates by pinning national currencies to the price of gold under the supervision of the International Monetary Fund, American president Richard Nixon announced, unilaterally, that on this day in 1971 the dollars could no longer be freely converted to their worth in gold. Rendered a fiat currency instead of a representation of intrinsic value, only upheld by the consent of the parties engaged in trade for goods or services, many other signatories soon followed suit and untethered their money. This jarring economic policy change was the culmination of several intervention strategies undertaken by the Nixon administration to curb inflation incurred as the world reserve currency (privilรจge exorbitant as the US could print money at virtually no cost, but subsidised by the rest of the world, each bank note expatriated cost face value in actual goods), preceded by wage and price freezes and raising tariffs. Loosing the ability to service indebtedness over the war in Vietnam, Nixon accused other nations of gaming the system and using established conventions to devalue their currency to maintain a competitive advantage. The US dollar dropped precipitously in value shortly thereafter and led to the the stagflation that typifies the decade and general failure of wages to rise proportionally with the increasing prices of vital things like healthcare, education, rents and food.

Wednesday, 4 August 2021

cooling the mark out

The always engrossing house blog of San Francisco’s DNA Lounge explores the in-grouping of confidence artistry and the seemingly irrational behaviour of working against one’s own self-interest through the authoritative study of the subject in the titular 1952 essay by social psychologist Erving Goffman, lucidly illustrating the predictable stages of those defrauded and the eventual recognition of the scam that instead of leading towards reconciliation engenders such shame and fear of ostracism rather rewards those who become more trenchant in proclaiming their beliefs. Different than other forms of humiliation, those conned can defer shattering their self-image by upholding their dishonest narrative for as long as possible at the expense of society as a whole, in turn convincing others. ‘Coolers’ are affiliates of the person orchestrating the con who tamp down self-reflection by promoting self-blame and doubt over their reference group, re-constituting their self-image with that dogma even more integral to their identity.

Friday, 9 July 2021

old rough and ready

Zachary Taylor having finally expired after an excruciating bout of indigestion from an ill-advised repast of milk and cherries on the during an especially hot Independence Day celebration, his vice president Millard Fillmore, once a contender for the distinction of being the worst ever to hold high office, Whig and backed by the nativist Know Nothing Party, but still a solid runner-up, assumed the presidency on this day in 1850.

Immediately dismissing the cabinet of predecessor, whom largely ignored Fillmore and held little ideology in common, to lobby congress for the passage of the package of bills known as the Compromise of 1850, which was seen as a concession to slave-states and enforced the law that would return fugitive enslaved people to those who claimed ownership of them anywhere within American borders. This appeasement postponed the outbreak of civil war and established the expectation of even-handed enfranchisement that continues to characterise American politics. Moreover, Fillmore was the architect for foisting trade on Japan and forcing them to open relations with the outside world and the overthrow and eventual annexation of Hawaii.

Sunday, 20 June 2021

the rose mary stretch

While later reviewing tape recording of a conversation held on this day in 1972 between White House chief-of-staff H.R. Haldeman and Richard Nixon three days after the Watergate break-in occurred, presidential secretary Ms. Woods admitted to a terrible clerical error during replay when she took a telephone call and held the combination of buttons and pedals that caused a portion of the tape to be re-recorded. Obliging Ms. Woods later demonstrated the pose that would have allowed for this accident to happen to a doubtful press, making her story all the more incredulous once it was revealed that the gap in the transcript was not the five-minute duration of the call but rather eighteen and a half minutes long. Three days after those lost conversations were held, the “smoking gun” reel documented—between the same two interlocutors—the plans to cover-up the bungled burglary and to curtail investigations by directing the Central Intelligence Agency to falsely assert to the FBI and local police that it was a matter of National Security. Once this tape became public, all remaining political support for Nixon, including fifteen Republican senators favouring acquittal, evaporated—though Nixon resigned in lieu of impeachment.

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

6x6

sounds to me like someone’s got a cases of the s’posedas: an interesting look at wanna, gunna, gotta  

gable top: Japanese milk carton graphic art  

jim jordan is a scary twit whose scandals are quite crass: Bette Midler performs an homage to Mary Poppins with her “GOPs a Cult for Scammer, Liars, Thugs and Traitors” 

 yacht boy problems: Jeff Bezos’ super yacht requires its own support ship  

the green knight: the cinematic adaptation of Sir Gawain’s tale to be released this summer  

recto-verso: a look at early printing and pagination standards and practises

Monday, 19 April 2021

1600 pennsylvania avenue

Via friends of the blog Everlasting Blรถrt and Nag on the Lake we are treated to the changing interior touches that each new US presidential administration (see also) brings to the executive office, the Oval Office completed during renovations in 1909, and the choice of art, artefacts and personal effects have a symbolic resonance. The vignettes tied to each presidency as told in dรฉcor are pretty interesting—like how Dwight Eisenhower kept the furnishings of his predecessor Harry S. Truman without any significant changes other than managing to destroy the floor by neglecting to take off his golf spikes when returning from the putting green he had put on the back lawn. The tradition of keeping Swedish ivy on the mantle goes back to the Kennedy administration and the current runner was rooted from the original vine.  More at the links above.