Thursday, 26 January 2023

money to burn (10. 497)

Once seized as the counterfeiting scheme of a mysterious Frenchman, Public Domain Review contributor Dorinda Evans reassesses the hyperrealistic paintings of Victor Dubreuil of US paper currency as a social critique of capitalism and exploitative working practises at a time when few were openly questioning the status quo. These still lives with dollars and trompe l’oeil paintings of legal tender enjoyed some contemporary popularity in addition to scrutiny by the US for the starving artist but most missed the anti-imperialism, anti-kleptocractic allegory of Dubreuil. Find a whole gallery of his works at the link above.

Friday, 9 December 2022

wort des jahres (10. 374)

The Gesellschaft fรผr deutsche Sprache in Wiesbaden (previously) has announced its Word of the Year for 2022, Zeitenwende—the end of an era and the beginning of a new one, for among other things real and feared declines in German leadership and influence economically, in industry, armaments and FuรŸball and for the return to war in Europe, and other terms and neologisms in the running. Rounding out the top ten were: Krieg um Frieden—war for peace, Gaspreisbremse—price controls for utilities, Inflations-schmerz—inflation pains, Klimakleber—for the Last Generation protesters glueing themselves to artwork, Doppel-Wumms—a double-boon for the electro-auto tax credit in the US “Inflation Reduction Act” that skews heavily in favour of American manufacturing at the expense of other markets, neue Normalitรคt, das 9-Euro-Ticket, Glรผhwein-WM—for the fact that the Qatari World Cup wasn’t held in July but rather during Weihnachtszeit, and lastly Waschlappentipps—that is, government-issued suggestions on energy conservation in the shower.

Tuesday, 6 December 2022

vomiting camel (10. 366)

Planet Money’s partner podcast The Indicator introduces us to a practise called stock price charting or technical analysis that economic academics have long debunked as a poor predictor of market trends and no heuristic for basing future trades though pattern recognition yet for some traders and for many media outlets that cover the markets, this study with its language of line graphs classed as candlesticks, heads and shoulders, flags, pennants and cup and handle patterns is proving enduring and a guide of first resort. Skeptics dismiss this method as ineffective at best and verging on an obsession for a few adherents. Sort of like Doge Coin be created as a joke which gained purchase of its own, one detractor began to see the titular pattern in stock performance and offered this pareidolia as a critique of this sort of divination but it too took off as a telling up-and-down spike to be on the lookout for and be primed to buy—or sell—or hold. What do you think about reading the economic tea-leaves? Is it no better than one’s astrological chart or is there something to this superstition for a system buoyed up by common belief?

Saturday, 3 December 2022

6x6 (10. 357)

yuletide: Spitalfield’s Life welcomes the Festive Season with George Cruikshank’s illustrations—see previously  

isle of vaila: a remote mansion in the Shetlands comes on the market—via Strange Company  

hoops and loopholes: NPR’s Planet Money surveys the US tax code and tax-exemptions  

curds and whey: the ecosystems that make up our cheeses—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links  

sight and sound: a once-a-decade poll of critics and filmmakers rates the top one hundred movies of all time  

the duchy of rutland: a Christmas at Belvoir Castle

Sunday, 20 November 2022

8x8 (10. 321)

yotta, yocto: prolific data generation drives the need for uniform names for extremely large and extremely small numbers—see previously—via Marginal Revolution  

quarantine caper: narrow escape from Jingdezhen just before lock-down  

a classic non-equilibrium thermodynamic reaction: a demonstration of a Belousov-Zhabotinsky oscillation in a Petri dish—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links  

don’t copy that floppy: an overview of a few anti-piracy schemes of the late 1970s and early 80s  

jpeg morgan: the rise and fall (and broader fall-out) of crypto bank and exchange FTX 

infantry: Academy Award winning Czechoslovakian animated short Munro (1960) about a four-year old drafted into the army  

fangcang: artist, after being identified as a “close contact” is confined in a remote hospital and transforms room into exhibition space  

euler equations: computers make break-throughs in understanding fluid dynamics

Saturday, 19 November 2022

rose island (10. 316)

Via ibฤซdem, we are directed towards a companion website to complement a documentary which affords us a chance to revisit the Respubliko de la Insulo de la Rozoj, a short-lived micronation just outside of Italian territorial waters off the coast of Rimini, an artificial pylon engineered by the soi sont president Giorgio Rosa, a property developer with ties to the puppet government of the World War II Republic of Salรฒ with hopes of establishing a self-funding enterprise through an independent regime of taxation, philately and sovereign citizenship. Much more to explore at the links above.

Wednesday, 9 November 2022

6x6 (10. 288)

elektrisk kjรธretรธy: a retrospective look at how A-ha inspired and informed Norway’s early adoption of electric vehicles—via Things Magazine  

taposiris magna: archaeologists discover a nearly mile long tunnel deep under a temple near Alexandria on the search for Cleopatra’s lost tomb—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links  

market cap: major online retailer first company to lose one trillion dollars in stock value—see also

stenography: more on shorthand (see previously) in ancient Greek and Roman texts  

nit-picking: oldest inscription bearing a full sentence found on a Canaanite comb 

terrain de stationnement: France to require all existing and new parking lots to be covered with solar panels

Thursday, 20 October 2022

untenured (10. 241)

Holding office for a tumultuous forty-five days (the shortest of the United Kingdom’s sixty-eight) though spanning two monarchs and some cabinet reshuffling, Liz Truss resigned as prime minister after a week marked by market crashes, an exodus of deputies and general lack of confidence in her leadership abilities built momentum for a general election. This collapsed government that upheld the conservative, Tory party totems of Brexit and austerity speaks to the abject failure of such regressive, nihilist politics that are out-of-step and untethered from the electorate. The party will choose a new prime minister by 28 October but does not preclude a Labour government being established.

Tuesday, 4 October 2022

7x7 (10. 195)

also sprach zarathustra: Raquel Welch dances to a disco-funk version of the Strauss classic 

information overload: a survey of pictorial statistics’ evolution to the infographic  

great chain of being: Evard d’Espinque illustrates the fifteenth century De Proprietatibus Rerum 

this lady is for turning: after precipitating markets instability and provoking decent from within the party, the Prime Minister and Chancellor walk back unfunded tax cuts for the rich  

fancy dress party: Jane Asher’s book of costumes  

search engine: glean answers to queries from passages in literature, conversation rather than Google Search—via Swiss Miss  

phone a friend: 1-900 hotlines in the United States 

daisy, daisy—give me your answer, do: witnessing a demonstration of the IBM 704 in 1961 inspired Arthur C Clarke

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

7x7 (10. 176)

moonage daydream: an interview with Brett Morgen on the subject of his latest documentary—see previously 

rupture: Nordstream pipelines have sprung a leak, sabotage suspected 

afforestation: a volcanic eruption is helping to rewild island  

eyewall: Hurricane Ian’s path of destruction as it reaches Florida 

omnishambles: the budget plan of PM Truss and Chancellor Kwarteng garners rebuke from Germany, the US and the IMF as the Pound Sterling approaches parity with the dollar  

mahsa: the death of a young woman in the custody of Iran’s morality police has touched off protests against the government  

let all the children boogie: an Australian museum brought the original hand-written draft of David Bowie’s Starman at auction

Sunday, 25 September 2022

sip (10. 167)

Via tmn, our attention is again directed towards bespoke, luxury fallout shelters, bunkers, panic rooms flogged (also a punishment for criminal offences for the not so well-appointed) to the rich and powerful—only this time, the glamorous, underground residences, replete with fake skies over courtyards with swimming pools, private theatres, wine cellars, conference centres and showcase galleries and garages, or anything else the client can imagine, are being pushed on the influx of multi-millionaires resettling in the United Arab Emirates. What do you thinK? The firm offering such fantastical and secure retreats is a Swiss company called Oppidum—the Latin term for a fortified city. I thought only pharaoh in his pyramid could only be so entombed.

Wednesday, 7 September 2022

fahrkarte (10. 115)

Though happy to pay full fare and subsidise public transportation, I do miss the 9-Euro bus and regional train scheme offered during the past three months to help offset high fuel prices and inflation besetting Germany chiefly for the simplicity and making local travel a bit easier to navigate, explore and reducing congestion and do hope that it comes back in some form. It was a really inopportune ending, coinciding with the start of the school year and a drastic reduction of services in Wiesbaden, going on the Saturday schedule for some routes. A group of activist is campaigning for its return by establishing a fund to cover the fines (60 € or more) for those members fined for riding without a ticket—and encouraging members to display a tag for potential fare collectors or inspector that they are intentionally riding without a valid ticket, so as to avoid the more serious charge of defrauding the transport-providers and only incur the lesser fine for “Schwarzfahrer”—fare-dodging. While an organisation is free to offer amnesty for its members and champion the return of a cheap, flat-rate, their actions could also be legally construed as public incitement to commit a crime—through ticket evasion.

Monday, 15 August 2022

private equity (10. 064)

Reinforcing the reality that the US is the biggest tax haven, the carried interest loophole, whose perennial but feeble attempts at reform nearly cost the US government and people a significant legislative win in terms of environmental protection and financial recovery, represents the bonus cut an investment manager—arguably a fee earned for enhancing the performance of stock portfolio—which are not in America taxed as regular earnings. Although the concept dates back to the sixteenth century and the age of colonialism—ships’ captains taking a share of profits ultimately earned on goods carried or transported as a way to build and maintain boat and crew and avoiding the prohibition against usurious loans, the idea was not codified, incentivised until 1913 and the explosion of domestic hydrocarbon exploration. Applying a lesser tax liability to the explorers’ profit (versus the share that the partners received) based on the above reasoning that the explorers were also shouldering a risk if their venture was unsuccessful, the immediate returns were classified as capital gains and due to the difficulty of assessing future value, taxes on carried interest can be deferred until cashed out. This is why poor-mouthing billionaires take out successive loans rather than reify their worth on paper. Moreover, with this continued concession to current regulations, wealth managers, hedge fund operators and the like are able to further exploit the returns on an investment above and beyond their individual exposure to the total profits earned by gambling with other people’s money, taxed at about half what earners in a much lower income bracket would be liable for.

Tuesday, 12 July 2022

7x7

smacs 0723: astronomers unveil the first colour pictures from the James Webb Space Telescope—see more, see previously  

power plant: an interactive map of energy and industry from the European Commission  

ecovado: a sustainable, locally-sourced alternative to the imported avocado  

empire rollerdome: New York street photographer Patrick D Pagnano captures 1980s roller disco—via Messy Nessy Chic 

 €/$: euro, US dollar at parity  

maps mastery: a profile of expert-level GeoGuessr players—via Waxy  

zero-g: researchers at Kyoto University design artificial gravity architecture

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

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

8x8

cutting-corners: skimpflation and other consumer caveats   

section 30 order: Holyrood to hold second independence referendum in October  

edutainment: a new volume on poet Emily Dickinson concludes with a Math Blaster style game from LitHub  

wade in u.s.a.: protest is the court of last resort  

white rabbits: an unsung group of women sculptors employed during the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893—via Messy Nessy Chic  

adobe flash: watch a time-lapse of a luxury villa with pool built out of mud and bamboo via Everlasting Blรถrt  

allons-y alonzo: assonances, alliterations and vowel harmonisation in French and other languages

coffee siren: the origins of the ubiquitous cafรฉ mascot (see also here and here)

Saturday, 25 June 2022

8x8

morning chorus: a suspended hotel suite in Sรกpmi cladded with three-hundred fifty birdhouses 

meanwhile margaret atwood says hold my beer: teach and student, Aldous Huxley and George Orwell, spar over which dystopian vision is more plausible  

don’t say g*y: Disney introduces its first openly closeted cast of characters  

makeup and monobrow: a quick survey of the female eyebrow in art 

border and backsplash: the mosaic tile museum of Gifu—over ten-thousands exemplars, many rescued from buildings slated for demolition 

i had hoped that god would work one of his signature miracles and spare me from is also signature “horrible pain in childbirth” curse: the Virgin Mary reclaims her nativity narrative  

stonk-and-go: the US Securities and Exchange Commission weighs sweeping change to curtail meme-driven trades  

a doghouse for eddie: charmingly, Frank Lloyd Wright (previously) builds a home for a canine and his human companion

Thursday, 23 June 2022

scheduled territories

Also known as the above legal entity the sterling area came into being in 1931 when the pound was unpegged from the gold standard and a number of countries, mostly Commonwealth nations, either employed the £ or had a fixed rate of exchange with it, effectively came to an end on this day in 1972 when the British government unilaterally applied exchange controls to all its participants—with the exception of the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands—with the departure of forty-five members from the economic bloc in protest of UK monetary policies. Once the most robust and coherent currency areas, the realisation trade with the continent was more important that historical preferential trading with former parts of the empire prompted the UK to seek closer ties with the European Communities—the Common Market—and devalued, floated the pound ostensibly to halt outflow and flight to the US dollar but many saw it at the time as a concession to France’s objection to UK membership in the organisation that would go on to become the European Union, which repealed its veto the following year. Coincidentally, this day also marks the 2016 anniversary of the Brexit referendum.

Friday, 27 May 2022

8x8

city in a bottle: a bit of micro-coding from Frank Force (previously) decoded—via Waxy    

kr: the Icelandic Graphic Design Association (FรT, Fรฉlag รญslenskra teiknara) issues a challenge to come up with a glyph for their krรณna  

nรฉcessaire: a French borrowing—see also—for kit and carry  

enough: TIME magazine’s cover lists the two-hundred thirteen US cities that have had mass-shootings this year, so far  

social sentinel: a look at the dubious pre-crime predictive software that ill-serves society and the reliance on tech to come to the rescue in general  

party line: last bank of public phones removed from New York City—see also here, here, here and here  

swiss miss: Tina Roth Eisenberg celebrates her seventeenth blogoversary tesserae: MIT Lab develops autonomous modular tiles to create structures and habitats in space

Sunday, 24 April 2022

the snake in the tunnel

Following a referendum in France the day before that admitted the UK, Ireland and Denmark into the Common Market, on this day in 1972 at a summit in Basel the members of the European Economic Community agreed to install an exchange system to limit fluctuations in rates in order that the basket of European currencies would be consistent with the US dollar. With the titular nickname (Schlange im Tunnel, le Serpent monรฉtaire europรฉen), the arrangement was the first attempt to peg the Mark, the Franc and the Pound Sterling to one another that ultimately led to the creation of the euro and was precipitated by the Nixon Shock of the previous year with the repeal of the Bretton Woods system. This coordination, cartel was a method to control appreciation and depreciation and retain relative stability until the following year when the dollar began to float freely and member nations diverged in their response.