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.”

Tuesday, 17 May 2022


Renowned physicist, engineer and mathematician who could elucidate our understanding of electromagnetic radiation and demonstrated that light, magnetic attraction and electric conduction were manifestations of the same phenomenon, James Clerk Maxwell, also shared an interest with most other fellow scientists at the time in optics and colour theory (see also) and presented on this day in 1861 the first durable colour photograph. Reasoning that as Sir Isaac Newton demonstrated the deconstruction of white light into its constituent parts with a prism, Maxwell proposed that a series of monochromatic images taken through red, green and blue filters and projected on a screen would be perceived by the human eye as a faithful reproduction of the colour of the original object. Despite the lack of pigmentation of any type and only subtle differences preserved as information on the refractive qualities in black-and-white, the crucial and pleasant outcome realized before a lecture before the Royal Institute with a swath of tartan ribbon photographed by Thomas Sutton—inventor of the panoramic and single reflex camera.

Sunday, 13 March 2022


choose your own adventure: the character-driven photography of Grzegorz Kurzejamski invites the viewer to create a narrative for them  

warp and werf: the Scottish Register of Tartans welcomes a new Ukrainian pattern  

(oh what a night): reaching number one on American charts on this day in 1976, the Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons hit was originally called “Fifth December 1933” and about the end of Prohibition 

cat naps: Hosei University researches what humans can glean from feline sleep patterns  

toad town: an exhaustive collection of level maps from many video game franchises—via Things Magazine  

photovoltaics: the photographic portfolio of Catherine Canac-Marquis

Sunday, 27 February 2022


glass menagerie: more microbiological models from Luke Jerram—see previously 

instant city: a 1971, tented utopian experiment on the northern coast of Ibiza  

dearc sgiathanach: superlative winged pterosaur found on the Island of Skye 

kye marn: incredible papier mรขchรฉ Carnival masks from Jacmel, Haiti 

the wags, jubilee plus christmas gambols: nautical song composer Charles Dibdin, forgotten eighteenth century superstar—via Strange Company 

a strange game—the only winning move is not to play: the rise of gamification in all systems and how to avoid getting caught up in it unawares  

ัะฝะต, ะฑะตะฝะต, ั€ะตั: a Russian counting rhyme, like yan, tan, tethera  

angiogenic properties: materials scientists development bioactive glass (also used to repair broken bones) that repels virtually all germs

Wednesday, 9 February 2022


desert fox: play-through for a complex, WWII-themed board game, The Campaign for North Africa, that requires over fifteen hundred hours to complete  

hill house: a giant drying-box that preserves an Art Deco marvel by Charles Rennie Mackintosh—via Things Magazine 

the greatest thing since sliced bread: a satisfying video showing the steps in production in an industrial bakery in South Korea  

lightsaber flavour: alternative designations from young people that far surpass their proper names—via Miss Cellania’s Links 

rip: a celebration of the life and vision of Douglas Trumbull, special effects artist behind Silent Running, Close Encounters, 2001 and many others

multiple arcade machine emulator: after a quarter of a century, the MAME project is still releasing monthly new additions for home play—via Waxy  

ltee: the E. coli long-term evolution experiment has been running since 1988 and monitoring the mutations in twelve original strains over tens of thousands of generations

Thursday, 3 February 2022

extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds

On this day in 1537 in the flower market of Haarlem, tulips are unable to fetch or exceed their expected price for the first time during the speculative craze of the Tulipomania—results posted the following day, eroding confidence in contract calls and causing the exchange to collapse spectacularly. Though perhaps the Dutch enterprise as the leading economic and financial power of the time weathered the crisis with relatively few lasting scars—the account and effects taking hold in the popular imagination after journalist Charles Mackay’s above investigation in 1841 (perhaps dissuaded from writing about the more recent South Sea Bubble as hitting too close to home) and modern economists dismiss many anecdotes (patrimony and parcels of land for a single bulb) as illogical and inefficient, the new phenomena nonetheless establishes the discipline of socio-economics and how markets can deviate from intrinsic value.

Friday, 31 December 2021

old year day

With origins of the celebration unclear and etymology uncertain, Hogmanay (HOG-mษ™-NAY) rhyming with the last line of the post), now understood as the Scots word for the last day of the old year, is kept in a variety of ways with various local and family

traditions but most include the custom of gift-exchanges (usually symbolic ones like salt, coal, a type of fruit-cake called a black bun, a coin and uisge/whisky for security and prosperity) and visiting neighbours with special honours reserved for the first-foot (ciad-chairt or Manx qualtagh) the first guest to cross the threshold into a home on the cusp of New Years’s Day as presaging good fortune for the coming year. Traditional Hogmanay carols include Auld Lang Syne and “Haste ye Back”:

Haste ye back, we loue you dearly,
Call again you’re welcome here
May your days be free from sorrow,
And your friends be ever near.

Though not uncontested and to a degree fanciful, some linguists believe Hogmanay comes from the Norman aguillanneuf, dialectically hoguinanรฉ, which is itself a rebracketing of the Old French phrase “[A rendezvous] under the New Year’s Mistletoe”—another traditional present—Au gui l’an neuf! Haste ye back on friendship’s way.

Sunday, 12 December 2021

card catalogue

 Via Memo of the Air—much more to explore there—we quite enjoyed this extensive tread celebrating lauded and versatile actor Katherine Matilda Swinton starring in the role as various modernist libraries (see also), such as the Texas Southern University’s Library Learning Centre, the Hyattsville Library in Prince George’s County, Maryland or this wee, little free library. Keep scrolling for more plus replies from institutions around the world.

Saturday, 30 October 2021


the motion picture that pits steel weapons against steel nerves: Joan Crawford in Herman Cohen’s 1967 Berserk! plus a medley of other horror films 

phenaskistiscopic vinyl: animated record albums—see previously  

cop26: designer installs a sinking Monopoly style house on Putney Weir ahead of this crucial climate conference 

ghostly footsteps (with chains): in 1977, BBC’s foley artists (previously) released a best-selling record of spooky sound-effects  

cloaca maxima: Rome’s revered sewer-system—see also  

auchan daily mascarpone cheese: a decade of Russian music videos  

the high-handed enemy: director Denis Villeneuve storybooks the gom jabbar scene 

 kitchen witchery: a tarot deck to divine one’s dinner

Saturday, 14 August 2021

great birnam wood to high dunsinane hill

Historical basis for the Shakespearian tragedy, Scottish king Duncan I (*1001, Donnchad mac Crinain) is killed in action leading a punitive expedition against an uprising in Moray—in the north near Elgin, domains under the control of his cousin and usurper Macbeth (Mac Bethad mac Findlรกich)—on this day in 1040. The character of the play however is portrayed as an old man and is killed in bed by the protagonist, spurred on by ambitious Lady Macbeth (Gruoch ingen Boite), who get the king’s bodyguards inebriated to the extent that they are implicated in the murder. A principal source for the stage retelling was King James’ 1597 volume on Dรฆmonologie and the royal house’s obsession with witchcraft and prophesy.

Sunday, 23 May 2021

home counties

Via Language Hat, we are directed towards a map of the historic counties of the nations of the United Kingdom with the toponymic nomenclatures (see also here and here) revealed, which despite being from a lending institution seems pretty accurate. Click through to enlarge. We especially enjoyed learning that Peeblesshire (Tweeddale, Siorrachd nam Pรนballan) means the place with tents, Buteshire (Siorrachd Bhรฒid in the Firth of Clyde) means Island of Fire and that Cheshire is simply Roman Town.

the solway firth spaceman

On this day in 1964 whilst on an outing with his wife and daughter, firefighter and local historian Jim Templeton (*1920 – †2011) snapped a series of photographs of his family on Burgh Marsh—and were shocked to find this mysterious figure looming behind his young daughter once the film was developed. The film manufacturer certified the image as authentic and it is conjectured that the alien is Missus Templeton having wandered into the frame—her husband insists she was not in the shot but that particular camera’s view-finder gives a slightly narrow and constrained outlook on its subject—with her features washed-out against the bright sky. Widely circulated, Templeton gifted the image to public domain early on—hoping that someone could offer a reasonable explanation.  If the photograph had been taken a century earlier, our tendency for pareidolia would have doubtlessly detected a ghost. 

Monday, 12 April 2021

regimental colours

Whereas the claim that Union Jack properly only refers to the naval ensign flown at sea is vexillologically vexing and likely a historical misunderstanding (or pedantic overreach), in an attempt to make my blog more bedecked with the Union Flag than it already is and therefore a more definitive and trustworthy source of information we recall that on this day in 1606 it was decreed for maritime purposes the nations of England and Scotland would use a joint flag symbolising the regal and personal union under James VI/I (see previously) upon inheriting the two crowns plus the Irish throne. The Cross of Saint Andrew countercharged with the Cross of Saint Patrick, overall the Cross of Saint George, heraldically speaking, was officially adopted with the Act of Union of 1800 that merged came into effect the first day of the next year—merging Great Britain with the Irish kingdom. Even before the Republic of Ireland won independence, the saltire of Saint Patrick was not embraced as representative of the island or its patron and associated with the personal coat of arms of the FitzGerald-FitzMaurice family dynasty.

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

terra nullis

Via Super Punch, we learn about the Debatable Lands, a tract along the English and Scottish border whose ownership or allegiance was questionable (and doubtful either kingdom could or would want to stake a claim) whose name, despite aptly suggesting disputed grounds comes from the Old English word battable—that is, pasture land suitable for fattening up cattle. Between the rivers Esk and Sark, people could act with impunity in this place beyond the reach of the law and outside the jurisdiction of either England or Scotland under conditions that spanned three centuries until finally annexed by James VI of Scotland in 1590.

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

phys ed

From Weird Universe we learn that in 1943 the University of St. Louis added utility pole tossing to the curriculum as a general conditioning exercise, demanding strength, rhythm and coordination as a group to pass around these ninety kilogram logs. The coach who instigated this regiment was inspired by the Highland Games and the traditional caber toss, said to have been developed out of a need to throw timber over streams and ravines in order for lumberjacks to cross them. More at the link above.

Saturday, 20 March 2021

the french word for hobbyhorse

Via Colossal, we are introduced to the extensive portfolio of Glasgow based artist and illustrator Lola Duprรฉ through her didgitally distorted portraiture and other painterly compositions informed by the dadaesque movement of a century ago. Her cat Charlie is featured prominently in her repertoire, many impossible angles suggesting mirror reflections but other means of doubling and reduplication as well. More at the links above.

Monday, 1 February 2021


Traditionally celebrated as one of the four Celtic, Gaelic seasonal festivals and marking in the Northern Hemisphere the beginning of Spring—complete spring-cleaning, well-dressing with weather divination and forecasting to watch for serpents or badgers to emerge from their dens, directly informing Groundhog Day customs. Displaced and ensconced with the Christianisation of the ancient lands were these rituals emerged, Saint Brigid of Kildare, the co-patron of Ireland, is regarded as a syncretion of the goddess of the same name associated with the light half of the year, smithing, healing, poetry and fertility, attributes which are reflected in the saint’s patronage—plus the state of Florida.

Thursday, 28 January 2021

the wise wife of keith

Garrotted and burned at the stake for witchcraft on this day in 1591 on the order of James VI and said to haunt the halls of Holyrood as a naked ghost, Agnes Sampson was a healer and midwife and one of the more notable defendants of the well documented North Berwick witch trails.

The Scottish king inspired by his experience in the court of Denmark-Norway, visiting his in-laws on the occasion of marrying Anne of Denmark, and accounts of witch-hunting and practicing the dark arts—convinced during a fraught return voyage that a curse was responsible for the stormy passage. Subsequent arrests and interrogations conducted by the king himself in a specially convened tribunal was covered by a contemporary pamphleteer in the Newes from Scotland, which contained proceedings and quoted Sampson’s litany of confessions, implicating others and admitting with a seemingly taunting air that she had tried to drown the newly-weds and another had fashioned a charm out of a toad to make the king impotent. Reportedly James had been willing to declare Sampson innocent until her final confession which detailed the nuptial night of the James and Anne in Oslo with accuracy only one in communion with the devil could know. The writer with the by-line, James Carmichael, of the reportage later advised James on his other famous book (besides his patronage for the Bible), Dรฆmonologie.

Friday, 15 January 2021


oh yeah: this supercut of Kool Aid Man crashing through barriers is somehow soothing

il cameriere: a “self-portrait” by Mannerist painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo—see previously  

warp and weft: Scotland honours its Muslim citizens with an Islamic tartan  

#wikipedia20: wish Wikipedia (previously) a happy birthday, first launched online on this day in 2001  

clip & save for g.i. joe command files: the insurrection was filled with Cobra villains—see previously 

๐Ÿ˜ท: a bevy of COVID-related headlines from the New Shelton wet/dry  

start from checkpoint: an arcade style, side-scrolling game about 2020, via Miss Cellania‘s Links

Wednesday, 6 January 2021


ruminant digestive process: whilst bovine flatulence makes the headlines, burps are the chief source of methane and could be neutralised with a special mouth guard—via the New Shelton Wet/Dry  

caporegime: via ibฤซdem, the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project names Jair Bolsonaro Corrupt Person of the Year, trouncing with a narrow margin Trump, ErdoฤŸan and Netanyahu  

commander-in-cheat: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon won’t allow Trump to visit his golf course in Scotland during the pandemic lockdown to bow out of attending the inauguration in Washington, DC 

georgia on my mind: Reverend Warnock declared winner in Senate race and Democrats poised to take control of the Upper House  

grogu pains: The Mandalorian reimaged as 1990s sitcom  

die abenteur des prizen achmed: the incredible silhouette animation technique of Lotte Reiniger—more here  

population density: housing ten billion humans in one mega city could help vastly reduce our footprint, freeing up the remaining land mass for rewilding and argiculture 

all the trimmings: for this traditional day of ceremonially discarding the tree, ways to transform it into garnish and a tasty treat