Monday, 16 January 2023

9x9 (10. 424)

j.t. iv: the compilation “Cosmic Lightning” of a tragically forgotten outsider rock artist  

tees valley: a dialect map of England from the University of Leeds  

bundesministerin der verteidigung: German defence secretary steps down  

courtlife: Queen Victoria’s illustrated journals—see also—via Messy Nessy Chic  

mlk: Stevie Wonder’s campaign to make Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday a national holiday  

wef: global leaders gather in Davos buona sera: actor, photojournalist and sex symbol Gina Lollobrigida passes away, aged 95 

scare-fox: accidentally Art Brรปt predator-deterrent  

atomic rooster: a classic from the spin-off band of Crazy World of Arthur Brown

Thursday, 12 January 2023

homeotherm (10. 411)

Declared legally dead on this day in 1967, University of California psychology professor and author of several influential works of occupational counselling, Dr James Hiram Bedford became the first individual whose body underwent cryopreservation. With the expectation of being revived and treated when medical science could cure a presently terminal illness, Evan Cooper’s Life Extension Society offered to treat and store a body in a state of suspended animation free of charge as a promotion to advance their line of research. Dying of kidney cancer that had metastasised and spread to his lungs, Bedford volunteered but not entirely taking up the foundation on its munificence but importantly providing in his will funding for his continued preservation. Though there is some debate on the efficacy of the methodology and whether through various transfers the vital temperature was maintained, a cryogenics lab is still Bedford’s caretaker to the present day.

Wednesday, 11 January 2023

zero-shot text to speech synthesis (10. 406)

Via Waxy, we are introduced frighteningly adept AI protocol from Microsoft called VALL·E that can extrapolate and convincingly simulate, imitate any voice with a sample of just a few seconds of audio. The underpinning code is not being published as an acknowledgement of its potential for misuse but there is a demonstration reel of its abilities that’s pretty amazing and are tuned for diversity, emotional maintenance and environment. Eleven benevolent elephants for your elocution.

Friday, 30 December 2022

krig, kriser och klimatdebatten (10. 372)

Annually Sprรฅktidningen magazine in collaboration with the Swedish Language Council publishes a list (previously) of a few dozen choice neologisms that help define the year informed by war, crises and climate debates. Among the new terms selected for inclusion for 2022 are jury favourite epadunk—a musical general that references the “epatractors” that rural youths are able to drive on public at age sixteen and the sound systems that they need to devise in order to hear over the loud tractor motors—matfattigdom—that is, food poverty, munkmodell, living an ascetic lifestyle for the sake of the planet, klickkemi or click-chemistry for constructing complex molecules and individualised drug treatments from modular building blocks and some more that have entered common-parlance through the news and current events, like kamikazedrรถnare, Putinprise, Permakris and smygflation (a portmanteau for stealth inflation).

Monday, 12 December 2022

³h (10. 380)

Via Slashdot, we learn that ahead of an expected official announcement reports are coming from three insiders at Lawrence Livermore National labs that researchers have attained a net positive energy gain using an experimental arrangement known as inertial confinement fusion (previously)—pelting a cloud of hydrogen plasma with a laser to trigger the reaction. In what may prove to be the first successful proof-of-concept demonstration, the prospect of limitless nuclear energy without hazardous byproducts—especially during a time of power poverty and when finding non-polluting sources are urgently needed—is a tantalising one, and the attendant caveats, seem to hardly dampen the excitement of this first step.

Tuesday, 6 December 2022

8x8 (10. 365)

synthetic cubism: an exhibition of the cut paper figures of Pablo Picasso, a medium rarely shown—via Messy Nessy Chic  

set in stone: a tutorial on reading ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs 

spa-day: new research suggests that Christian modesty (see previously) may not have been the cause in the decline of public bathing  

carbon capture: Microsoft-backed start-up is using limestone powder to pull CO2 (previously here, here and here) out of the atmosphere

illuminated addresses: a graphic design studio rediscovered in Manchester that pre-dates the traditional 1922 beginning of commercial arts 

ั‰ะตะดั€ะธะน ะฒะตั‡iั€: a Ukrainian choir performs Carol of the Bells (see previously) a century after it debuted at Carnegie Hall  

varly’s swiftwater cafรฉ: a fish and chips in operation for two decades in remote Whittier, Alaska—a small village in one building  

picassanta: annual tradition of giving a village phone kiosk a makeover, reminiscent of Guernica for this fractious year

Saturday, 26 November 2022

santa claus (10. 337)

First screened in September of 1898, we are directed towards the technical marvel by George Albert Smith considered the first short, silent film about Christmas—with pioneering examples of parallel action and double-exposure—making it one of the most sophisticated examples of filmmaking to date. After two young children are put to bed on Christmas Eve, St Nicholas enters the house through the chimney and start trimming the tree and filling the stockings hung by the fire. After surveying his work, he disappears the same way he came in. The latter innovation already demonstrated, superimposition in cinematography, in two of Smith’s earlier experiments—namely Photographing a Ghost (see also) and The Mesmerist—is a particular segue into the filmmaker’s life and career, chiefly billed as a magic lantern lecturer, hypnotist and psychic ahead of his extensive filmography of short subjects, which Smith turned to after being drummed out of the Society for Psychical Research (see above) over alleged fraud—and possibly contributing to the death of his accuser by overdosing on opium—turning his interest to the nascent movie industry run out of small studios in Brighton and Hove, specialising in special effects and colour processing.

Tuesday, 22 November 2022

solaris (10. 324)

We’ve previously looked at proposals for a broadcast energy transmitter (here and here) but feel that the technology and will have arrived for this monumental though practical, feasible project that the European Space Agency is presently considering. Space chiefs from member countries of the association are holding their triennial council to decide what programmes and initiatives will be funded and to budget their pooled resources for priorities. In circulation for several decades now but never seriously contemplated until recent years with the precipitous drop in the cost of launching payloads into space, increased efficiency and virtually autonomous construction, researchers believe that installing massive photovoltaic elements in geostationary orbit (as to always face the Sun) will prove cost-effective and might be nicely complementary endeavour to this hypothetical sunshade . The energy is converted into microwave radiation and beamed down to Earth where it is reconverted and put on the electrical grid. More at the links above.

Wednesday, 16 November 2022

st bernard (10. 308)

As Design Boom reports, researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL, ร‰cole polytechnique fรฉdรฉrale de Lausanne) have created a an edible drone prototype that can be dispatched to stranded hikers and mountain-climbers to provide a life-sustaining emergency meal whilst waiting for help to arrive. Acknowledging the limitations on payload for most aerial craft—usually only up to thirty percent of their own weight, developers concocted a way to make the structure part of the delivery with rice-cake wings.

Monday, 14 November 2022

cinebox (10. 303)

I was wracking my brain and hitting an internal googlewhack over the audio-visual jukebox short films (finally found what I vaguely recalled blogging about before—an overview of the technology and content that spanned the history from the pre-WWII Soundies and Panorams to their revival in the late 1950s by a French company) that less mainstream performers used to promote their latest singles and see that it also inspired a search by friend of the blog par excellence Nag on the Lake, who preening through a lot of unfortunate link-rot, discovered and shares a great repository of scopitones. Check out the links above for more of these precursors to music videos and streaming whose particular style (Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots are Made for Walking” is a less obscure epitome) prompted essayist Susan Sontag to nominate them for inclusion as part of the “canon of Camp.” Let us know your favourites.

Saturday, 12 November 2022

w³ (10. 297)

Though somewhat overshadowed by the achievements and recognition of colleague Tim Berners-Lee and his proposal for a hypertext system to connect many of the departments and projects of CERN in 1989 and which contained the kernal of the idea, credit for the World Wide Web also goes to fellow computer scientist Robert Cailliau for their joint proposal put forward on this day in 1990 for the World Wide Web. Not only did Cailliau come up with the logo and co-programmed the first web browser (MacWWW) with Nicola Pellow, he was instrumental in taking the concept out of the laboratory and releasing it into wilds, running several parallel projects to ensure interoperability and make the underlying structure more robust and cross-compatible, secured funding and organised a series of conferences and steering committees.

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, 8 October 2022

the power generation (10. 204)

In the face of more energy austerity and with the prospects of a long, cold winter for many and the prospect of rolling blackouts, we were quite elated to be directed towards arguably one of the greatest cross-overs of all time, this circa 1990 advert where National Power and Powergen use a high production value Star Trek (a famously post-scarcity society) short to flog shares in symphony with the move to privatise the UK electricity market. More at Dirty Feed at the link above.

Sunday, 2 October 2022

l'escargophone (10. 189)

Reportedly convincingly demonstrated to a journalist from La Presse on this day in 1851, though business partners remained sceptical and suspected a hoax, the apparatus known as the pasilalinic-sympathetic compass (la boussole pasilalinique sympathique, the snail telegraph, incredibly—see previously) was a heuristic contraption meant to take advantage of the supposed permanent telepathic link (a subtle form of animal magnetism that naturally drew in the public in parallel with the technical achievements of actual telegraphy) that mated pairs of snails form. Inventor and noted occultist Jacques-Toussaint Benoรฎt, called de l’Hรฉrault, constructed two remote scaffoldings each with one gastropod partner labelled with a letter of the alphabet, whereby the operator touched one that was supposed to cause a reaction in its corresponding mate that could be decoded by the receiver. Attempts to repeat the near successes of the first trial for the public failed and Benoรฎt promptly vanished.

Friday, 30 September 2022

<…> (10. 178)

Initial specifications first published on this day in 1980 by Xerox in association with Intel and the Digital Equipment Corporation (standardised by the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, IEEE, in 1983), Ethernet technologies are based on a shared medium of communications, similar to the common platform of radio systems and takes its name from the disproven proposal of a luminiferous aether as an omnipresent, subtle and rarefied propagator (see also) of electromagnetic waves and enabled the first collaborative networks of computers.

Saturday, 24 September 2022

7x7 (10. 164)

trench run: we are not skilled enough to try this with our X-Wing drone  

semester abroad: tips for affecting an RP accent, as one does  

an army marches on its stomach: a trove of 1970s field rations—see previously—via Present /&/ Correct

algar do carvรฃo: a guide to the incredible Azores—see also  

blowhole: sea platform harnesses wave energy by using it to pressurise air and powering a turbine—outperforming expectations  

mappa mundi: an annotated, interactive fifteenth century world atlas—see also  

5 bby: Star Wars fans invented their own calendar (see previously) over a quarter of a century ago and the latest series finally makes it canon

Friday, 16 September 2022

7x7 (10. 139)

daisy-chain: Wikipedia Speedruns—connect two topics (see also) across the fewest links—via Waxy

blast-oven: a proposed giant brick toaster could harness excess heat from industry and redistribute it as electricity

checkmate: investigating the cheating scandal vexing the chess world—via Digg  

the queen’s speech: at look at how accents change as we age and how Elizabeth II’s manner of talking reflected broader changes in society  

royal peculiar: reflections and impressions on visiting Westminster Abbey when the statuary far outnumber the tourists 

ubiquity: an invisible coating transforms windows and any glass surfaces into solar panels  

outrun: Google Maps Driver Simulation mode and more cartographical arcade games

Tuesday, 13 September 2022

fiftyshapes ltd (10. 130)

Incorporated on this day in 1967, the Beatles’ Apple Electronics venture was headed by a television repair technician named Yannis Alexis Madras, whom had been discovered by John Lennon two years prior after seeing a selection of his Nothing Boxes (plastic housing with blinking lights) at a London Gallery. Given the moniker “Magic Alex,” he reputedly pitched a series of increasingly fantastical (but ones we’d like to see) inventions including a seventy-two track tape machine, an air-buffer to prevent car accidents, replacing Ringo’s drums with a sonic force field, a wallpaper sound-system, invisibility paint and an artificial sun—none of which unfortunately materialised. 

Later that same year, Madras tried to help broker a deal for the band to purchase a Greek island but that deal fell through as well. Though the majority of Madras’ inventions were dismissed as impossible (perhaps rather inexplicably, he was nonetheless entrusted him with the design of their new recording studio once they left Abbey Road), one of his proposals for a scrambling device that would prevent fans from recording their songs from the radio was better received. Parting ways in 1969—ostensibly jealous over the influence that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi had over Lennon after they were all in India together, Madras took up a career in security and anti-terrorism, offering custom bullet-proof vehicles, bug-detectors, etc—his clients primarily exiled heads-of-state living in London, Crown Prince Juan Carlos, the Shah of Iran and fellow countryman Constantine II.

Thursday, 8 September 2022

6x6 (10. 117)

command authorisation code: the timing of the Artemis (previously) launch hinges in part due to its self-destruct system  

best in show: an painting generated by an algorithm won first prize in a competition at a state fair, prompting philosophical questions  

greenday moment: instead of tearing down those out of the loop, bring them up to speed  

cauldron computing: researchers propose liquid crystal machine whose calculations move like ripples through water 

$ape: two American states introduce legislation to tax NFTs  

speculoos: researchers at the University of Liรจge discover (see previously) discover two Super-Earths

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