Friday, 7 January 2022

web 3.0 is going great and is definitely not an enormous grift that’s pour lighter fluid on our already-smouldering planet

Via Web Curios (definitely lot’s more to check out there), we are introduced to a project by Molly White who curates articles and discussion threads that illustrate the dark side of tech utopian-thinking and how we can’t just code our way to equality and out of an environmental crisis that is exacerbated by Ponzi schemes and chasing that greater fool. There are some choice headlines about corporate malfeasance, lack of disclosure and how riots and disruptions to the internet in Kazakhstan (to quash the coordination of said protests) reveal the extent of bitcoin mining occurring there, subsidised and underwritten by the government’s policy of producing cheap fuel from the dirtiest sources.

7x7

sick sad world: our crypto-bro, cyberpunk dystopia  

brik: aesthetic LEGO typography  

just keep swimming: mobile aquaria allow fish to drive—via the morning news  

molten path: an ancient—though not inaccessible—airburst over the Atacama shed shards of glass across Chile—see also   

thinking of you, i mean me: a Barbara Kruger (previously) retrospective in Chicago on capitalism and its critique

queued-up: Instagram versus reality

a listicle in eight parts: Cory Doctorow expounds on the scam of fintech—via the New Shelton wet/dry

Monday, 27 December 2021

7x7

the year that was: Miss Cellania’s Winterval tradition of annual lists—including arts and entertainment, animals and more  

market volatility: unusual vintage shot glasses track ups and downs of the Dow Jones Industrial Average—via Super Punch 

a sight for sore eyes: a coffee table edition from rock royalty The Residents  

where the wild things are: Maurice Sendak directed a darker version of The Nutcracker ballet, truer to the original narrative and far more captivating  

ultimate rendering: Picasso’s first and last self-portraits—see also—via Messy Nessy Chic 

boop: robot reacts to a poke in the nose

lend me your ears and i’ll sing you a song about a sad, dysfunctional d.c.: US president Joe Biden’s first year in review presented by Politico

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

bull market

The iconic Charging Bull bronze—which has become a universally recognised and enduring symbol of capitalism and Wall Street was not a commission of the city of New York or the Parks Service but rather a gift from sculptor Arturo di Modica, inspired to create this work just after the stock market crash of 1987 at significant personal expense, for the city and its residents. Late in the evening on this day in 1989, the statue was illegally trucked in and installed in front of the Stock Exchange. Authorities removed the creature, only to be set up again in Bowling Green a few blocks away and allowed temporary permission to remain due to public outcry over its threatened demolition. Though the status of the grant remains unchanged, it seems to have become a permanent fixture. This tolerance is of course in stark contrast to the reception of the guerrilla public artist Kristen Visbal who created Fearless Girl (previously, ahead of International Women’s Day in 2017), originally facing down the Charging Bull. She was moved next to the Stock Exchange after complaints the she was upstaging, provoking the bull in 2018, though a plaque with her footprints is still in the original spot.

preserved fish iii

Via Super Punch, we learn about the titular whaler (see more about the phenomenon of nominative determinism), New York shipping merchant, director of Bank of America, founding broker of the New York Stock and Exchange board (*1766 - †1846, his blacksmith father and grandfather bearing the same name) and involved in the political machine of Tammany Hall. In the sense of “saints preserve us,” like many in nineteenth century puritanical America, Fish was given an excruciatingly pious name.  Humble Brag.


Friday, 10 December 2021

nobelfesten

Cancelled for a second year due to the pandemic, normally the Nobel Banquet (previously here and here) is held annually on this day (the anniversary of the death in 1896 of its benefactor, inspired to become a philanthropist after reading a premature obituary of himself that described him as a war profiteer, indeed having amassed his fortune from dynamite), the fรชte hosted in the Blue Hall of the rathaus of Stockholm for 1971 would have included amongst its guests Willy Brandt, chancellor of West Germany, Pavlo Neruda, Chilean poet and diplomat, Simon Kuznets, responsible for turning economics into an empirical, cyclical science, and Gรกbor Dรฉnes, inventory of among other things holography.

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

ampelkoalition

After over two months of negotiations, the dominant political parties of Germany faring best in the last general election, the so-called Traffic Light Coalition by the colours of their respective factions, have agreed to form a new government with centre-left Olaf Scholz of the Social Democrats (SPD, Red) appointed as chancellor. Under this power-sharing agreement, the once deputy to Merkel will allot cabinet seats to other affiliates with Greens candidate Annalena Baerbock expected to become foreign minister and the fiscally conservative, neoliberal Free Democrats (FDP, Yellow) under the leadership Christian Lindner positioned to take control of the finance ministery.

nifty

As the Guardian reports, Collins Dictionary has selected the abbreviation of Non-Fungible Token as its word of the year (see previously here and here), tracking the stratospheric rise of the blockchain of registry of digital assets that lexically rose above the general din of the COVID crisis, pingdemic and hybrid-working as pandemic-related forerunners, and—regardless of what one thinks of the evaluation--defines a new market and speaks to a broad craze and means for artists to profit online. Other contenders included cheugy and regencycore—referring to cosplay in 1810s style garb.

 

 

Monday, 22 November 2021

merkmal

Already holding the distinction since 2014 of being the senior leader of the G7 and longest term in the European Union of any elected head-of-state, Angela Merkel,  holding a doctorate in quantum physics, was appointed to the chancellorship of Germany on this day in 2005, following federal elections and creation of a coalition government as chair of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU-Partei), in partnership with the Bavarian sister-party and the Social Democrats.  Acting as chancellor still under a caretaker administration until a successor is appointed, Merkel has helped the EU and her own country weather the Great Recession, expansion of the supranational bloc, a green power revolutions—Energiewende, ended military conscription, oversaw healthcare reforms, crafted domestic and international responses to migrant and asylum crises, Brexit, Trump and attendant horrors, COVID-19 and the climate emergency.

Friday, 22 October 2021

komplementรคrwรคhrungen

Introduced in Erfurt in October 1929, nearly coinciding with the US stock market crash Black Friday that set off the Great Depression world-wide, the alternative currency known as Wรคra, invented by Hans Time and Helmut Rรถdiger its name derived from the words Wรคhrung (money) and wรคhren (lasting, stable), was freely exchangeable with the Reichsmark at parity.

As legal tender and a store of wealth, however, each banknote carried a monthly penalty (demurrage, the carrying cost) of one percent its face value which could be offset with stamps and had a expiry date so people and businesses were motivated to spend and not hoard their liquid assets, thereby countering inflation. Gradually other businesses and workers began to accept Wรคra and there was even a coal mining operation fully financed with loans, salaries and discounted consumer sales in the alternative currency. Marked improvement in the region’s economy attracted the attention of the finance ministry, which after deliberation ordered the experiment to be suspended, fearing this parallel form of payment would ultimately undermine rebuilding Germany’s industrial sector, which by that time in 1931 had spread to a network of fourteen cities and were accepted in several national banks and stores.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

movimento unionista italiano

Formed in the aftermath of World War II on Columbus Day 1944 by a sociologist called Corrado Gini—who developed the Gini coefficient as a metric for income inequality, an academic and activist called Santi Paladino best remembered for his theory that Michelangelo was the real author of the works of Shakespeare and a statistician named Ugo Damiani, the goal of their political party was to persuade the United States of America to annex Italy. More over the founding members believed that it was incumbent on the US to take in all free and democratic nations and become a world government, enshrining the values of liberty and ensuring perpetual peace and employment. During the general elections held two years later, the Italian Unionist Movement only garnered one seat out of over five-hundred and fifty representatives in the Chamber of Deputies, Italy’s lower house of parliament. The party opted to dissolve itself ahead of the next national vote in 1948.

Monday, 11 October 2021

respubliko de la insulo de la rozoj

Sadly short-lived and not tolerated by Italian authorities, regarding it as a ploy for tax avoidance (and perhaps to provide cover to marauding Soviet submarines), after the declaration of Rose Island (so named in Esperanto, its official language) on 1 May 1968, subsequent occupation at the end of June and eventual demolition the following February, engineer Giorgio Rosa, namesake and self-appointed president, we glean from Messy Messy Chic, designed and built the host platform in the Adriatic, off the coast of Rimini and in international waters.
The structure supported by nine pylons (see also) was not only the seat of government, issuing stamps and possibly a currency, the Mill—₥, now an abstraction for economic discussion, once also used in Cyprus, Mandatory Palestine, Hong Kong and Malta but also a bar and nightclub as well as a souvenir shop. A lightly fictionalised version of the story of the founding of the micronation was released in December of 2020 with the blessing of Rosa, whom aged ninety-two, passed away in 2017 during production.

Saturday, 9 October 2021

dor nischl

The colossal stylised bust of philosopher and historian Karl Marx (previously) sculpted by Soviet realist Lev Efimovich Kerbel for the city formerly and presently known as Chemnitz (redesignated as Karl-Max-Stadt for the year of the revolutionary in 1953) was dedicated on this day in 1971 before an assembly of a quarter of a million attendees. The wall directly behind the visage and plinth is inscribed with the famous phrase from the Communist Manifesto “Workers of the World, unite!” in German, Russian, French and English by graphic artist Helmut Humann.  Locally referred to as the above Mitteldeutsch colloquialism for head or skull and used as a backdrop for much propaganda and pageantry under the East German government, the symbol was not without controversy, but was preserved while many other monuments to Soviet heroes and ideals were dismantled. After reunification, the city of Kรถln even offered to buy the head in order that it be saved from destruction, while residents were wrestling with the recent past and deciding to restore their city’s former name. Ultimately, it was decided to keep this and select vestiges of times past, which can still be a focus of the here and now.

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

8x8

heir apparent: after over a century, Russia hosts a royal wedding for a member of the Romanoff family

9m²:a luxury apartment in Tokyo that makes very efficient use of space—at more than twice the size, my work-week flat feels rather sprawling and and ilunder-utilised 

pandora’s box: a trove of leaked records, following on from the Panama papers shows how the wealthy and connected hide their riches 

faux mcdoo: a fake McDonald’s in Los Angeles for filming purposes, via Messy Nessy Chic 

tx-33: new lows attained in gerrymandering and voter-marginalisation 

full circle: a retrospective exhibit of Judy Chicago  

deuce court: a demonstration of medieval tennis  

ะฒั‹ะทะพะฒ: cast joins crew aboard ISS to film scenes of the first movie shot in microgravity

Sunday, 3 October 2021

die wende

Though relaxation on freedom of movement began as early as May 1989 with the Pan-European Picnic, next the fall of the Berlin Wall, free elections and an economic merger between East and West, the formal resolution for the abolishment of East Germany through its accession (Beitritt) to the Bundesrepublik Deutschland (the Federal Republic of West Germany) came on 23 August 1990 with the Volkskammer, the East German parliament, agreeing to the extension of West German Basic Law (Grundgesetz, an unmodified constitution) over their territory. After a transition period, the West effectively absorbed East Germany, the enlarged federative republic administratively holding all the seats and membership of old West Germany at the stroke of midnight (see above) on 3 October with the raising black, red and gold banner above the Brandenburg Gate.

Sunday, 26 September 2021

bundestagswahl 2021

Germany is holding a national ballot to elect the members of the twentieth Bundestag, the federal parliament. With Angela Merkel having chose not to run after sixteen years as chancellor, this vote marks the first time in modern Germany history that the incumbent is not seeking reelection.  Seven top candidates from Germany’s forty-seven listed political parties are vying for top position and the mandate to form a coalition government and reach a power-sharing agreement with the opposition.  

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

6x6

moo-loo: calves are being toilet-trained to mitigate some of the greenhouse gasses the livestock produce

รผber die bestimmung des weibes zur hรถheren geistesbildung: a look at philosopher Amalia Holst, whose 1802 work is comparable to Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman  

ferryman: an interesting look at legally-mandated river-crossings in Manchester  

the colour of money: a mesmerising video to accompany the Blake Mills song  

microcosmos: outstanding photographs of the world not visible to the naked eye  

charismatic megafauna: a biotech firm is raising funds to de-extinct the woolly mammoth—see previously

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

รพorskastrรญรฐin

With precedent disputes just after WWII and reignited after a fashion with Brexit fishing negotiations, the Cod Wars began in earnest on this day in 1958 when Iceland expanded its territorial waters to the edge of maritime claims by the UK and West Germany, with all sides sustaining losses over the next two decades as this protracted conflict continued with boats ramming into one other and the fishing nets of trawlers cut. Although in the aftermath of each skirmish, the International Court of Justice sided with Iceland’s claim, no resolution was reached until 1976 when Iceland threatened to withdraw from NATO if the matter wasn’t settled once and for all, an action that would denied the alliance’s submarines access to a strategic part of the North Sea (see also) at the height of the Cold War, brokering an agreement amenable to all parties. Following on from the truce, the United Nations codified the Law of the Sea and standardised exclusive nautical economic zones.

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.

Friday, 13 August 2021

niemand hat die absicht, eine mauer zu errichten!

Dividing the city and nation physically and ideologically until 1989, construction of the Berlin Wall began on this day in 1961, isolating and making an exclave of West Berlin. Officially referred to by authorities of East Germany as an Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart (see also — Anti-faschistischer Schutzwall) to protect the population from forces trying to confound their attempts at forming a socialist state, the Burgermeister of West Berlin, Willy Brandt called it “Schandmauer”—Wall of Shame, becoming a metonym for the Iron Curtain and political schism between East and West. As with the above quotation, Communist politician Walter Ulbricht empathetically denied the possibility two months earlier during a press conference despite no one mentioning a wall.  The border closure and following fortification was called by Berliners Stacheldrahtsonntag—that is Barbed-Wire Sunday, some eight hundred fleeing through the temporary barriers before the solid structure was built by the end of the day.