Saturday, 14 May 2022

matthias the apostle

Formerly venerated on the sixth day before the Calends of March but with the calendar revisions of 1969, the commemoration of the Apostle Matthias, nominated by an assembly of disciples rather than chosen by Jesus himself to replace Judas Iscariot, was translated to this day as to take the celebration out of Lent and closer to the historical date (and as patron-protector against smallpox, coincides with the first inoculation administered by Edward Jenner in 1796 on eight-year-old James Phipps, the son of the family gardener). Though there are scant canonical details regarding his life, tradition places Matthias on the Caspian coast and evangelising to the people of the region that is modern day Georgia. Matthias’ patronage also includes tailors, carpenters, Billings Montana, Gary Indiana, Trier and alcoholics.

Monday, 9 May 2022

orbital resonance

Though the Octave of Easter refers to a specific eight-day celebration in connect to the Paschaltide, our

word week itself (via the German Woche) derives from the same root as octave and that one out-of-cycle unit of time—that is, seemingly the sequence repeated for countless generations not determined by the motion of the Heavens or our perception of them but nonetheless in most Western and Eastern traditions named for the astronomical objects visible to the unaided eye. The ordering does not accord with the classical model of the Cosmos—the “Chaldean order” that describes the apparent overtaking and retrograde motion relative to the Earth—nor hierarchy of the pantheon, however, but rather the seven strings of the Mesopotamian lyre with which the celestial spheres were thought to harmonise: (4) Sunday ☉, (1) Monday ☽, (5) Tuesday ♂ (Mardi in French), (2) Wednesday ☿ (Mercoledรฌ), (6) Thursday ♃ (Donnerstag), (3) Friday ♀ (Venres) and (7) Saturday ♄. Vexed somewhat by the onerous and complicated Roman subdivision of the days and the planetary officer appointed to each hours, the order of the weekdays seemingly recapitulates musical theory and progression through the major scale. More at the links above and in this video adaptation below from Sara de Rose.

dmsmh

Celebrated as Dianetics Day in the Church of Scientology (previously), today marks the 1950 anniversary of the first sales of the foundational book by L Ron Hubbard subtitled The Modern Science of Mental Health. Colloquially and canonically referred to as “Book One,” it outlines the system developed by the author out of personal experience, his understanding of some tenants of Eastern philosophy and the psychoanalytic traditions of Sigmund Freud. Despite outright rejection by the community of medical and mental health professions and most critics who compared the repetitious and immature tautologies to the works of Wilhelm Reich, it was a best-seller and found an audience as well as an attendant religious movement, which number their years relative to its publication—this year being 72 AD—that is, after Dianetics.

Sunday, 8 May 2022

himmelsscheibe




Coming home from Saxony we took a detour and finally got the chance to check out the Arche Nebra—a museum and planetarium near the archeological site where the prehistoric skydisc was discovered. The actual artefact is usually kept in Halle and was presently on loan to the British museum as part of an ancient astronomy exhibit that couples it with the megalithic timepieces like Stonehenge and the nearby counterpart, the Goseck circle, a solar observatory from neolithic times—but there were plenty of detailed replicas on hand to study and gain an appreciation in situ of this rather overwhelming tool. From the perspective of the promontory where it was discovered (Fundort), the golden bands ringing the edge form an arc precisely corresponding with the Sun’s pendular journey between the peak of the Brocken and the peak of the Kyffhรคuser in the Harz rising and setting at the spring and autumn equinoxes and indicating by the appearance of the New Moon and its proximity to the Pleiades (see above) when to plant and whether the year will be a common year or will need an intercalary month inserted to keep the stars aligned with the cycle of the seasons, this earliest known representation of the Cosmos features no gods or heroes, only the calendar of the night sky. In the area, we also stopped at the village of Zingst on the Unstrut river to inspect this manor house by the road that looked like it had seen time conscripted as a factory with the addition of an industrial smoke-stack and the vista of the largest medieval castle complex—similar in scale and composition to the Wartburg—in middle Germany, Burg Querfurt, something to see another day.

Wednesday, 4 May 2022

time out

Today marks the informal celebration of jazz pianist and composer and proponent of the cool jazz genre Dave Brubeck, the date expressed in US-format (see also) as 5/4 recalling the quintuple time-signature from the lead single “Take Five” from his best-selling 1959 album. Brubeck and his quartet (the song was composed by saxophonist Paul Desmond) were inspired to make this record after touring Asia and Europe at the behest of the US Department of State as cultural ambassadors the year prior and incorporated the exotic, intricate meters and motifs encountered abroad.

Saturday, 23 April 2022

digital mnemonics

With early antecedents in committing the pillars of Buddhism to heart or for a manual reckoning of the date of Easter for any year—the Venerable Bede’s ‘loquela digitorum’ of the eighth century—contributing correspondent for Public Domain Review Kensy Cooperrider guides on a comprehensive survey of the ways that people used the topologies of the hand and fingers as a mnemonic device (see also) as a way to recall processes and protocols, notation and geography. The illustration of the oversized Guidonian Hand (named after ninth century music theorist Guido d’Arezzo) was a choral aid to facilitate learning of sight-singing—or rather how to read a musical score, the first documented use of solfรจge. Spanning three full octaves and spilling into a fourth—from (ab) ฮ‘ to ฮ“ (Gamma) ut—this diagram is the source of the phrase ‘running the gamut,’ that is—the full range. Much more at the links above.

Saturday, 16 April 2022

a moveable feast

Prompted by a League of Nations body called the “Advisory and Technical Committee for Commun-ications and Transit” that sought among other coordinating efforts to synchronise the date of Easter—which can wander between 22 March and 25 April due to lunar calculations—with the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury among other calendar reformists passed two years prior, the UK parliament introduced the Easter Act of 1928. Reigning in the holiday but still with concession to the sabbath with Easter Sunday falling on that day of the week after the second Saturday in April (see above). Though the act had the royal assent of George V, it has yet to be passed by both houses—and not without re-legistlation, still being inactive statute, attempted last in 1999.

Thursday, 14 April 2022

songkran

Known by several names throughout South and South East Asia influenced by the traditional Hindu solar calendar, this marks new year’s day. As opposed to the tropical year of the Gregorian reckoning that is based on the cycle of the seasons, the sidereal year is determined by the motion of the Sun relative to the celestial sphere, with the beginning of the new year synchronized to the Sun’s transit into the constellation of Aries (meแนฃa saแน…krฤnti—named for twin gods, the Ashvins, “Aja” and “Mesha” and the Sanskrit term signifying the act of transhumance—that is, when the livestock is brought to pasture).

Friday, 1 April 2022

7x7

health officials warn of “second wave” of immersive van gogh exhibitions: symptoms to be on the look out for include a flattening of the artist’s legacy and an intense desire to watch Emily in Paris  

a book by its cover: the absurdist collages of Paperback Paradise  

match game: flawless digital recreations of classic TV game show sets  

111 west 57th street: super tall, slender residential tower tapering from Steinway Hall is an homage to the piano-maker  

earendel: the Hubble space telescope images the oldest, most distant star  

old dutch master: a series of fifteenth century Flemish style portraits recreated in an airport lavatory—see also—via Things Magazine  

achieve hover status—everyone else will want to hover but can’t: an AI (see previously) comes up with pranks to play on the user

Thursday, 31 March 2022

jum il-ฤงelsien

Celebrated annually on this day with a regatta in the Grand Harbour of Valletta, Freedom Day marks the anniversary of the 1979 withdrawal of the Royal Navy from Malta. With the departure of British troops, the island nation for the first time in over a millennia was not host to a foreign military, acclaiming its de facto as well as its de jure independence, having become an independent Commonwealth realm in 1964 and a republic a decade later.

Friday, 25 March 2022

lady day

Coinciding with the Solemnity of the Annunciation, until 1752 when Great Britain and its extended imperial holdings adopted the Gregorian calendar, 25 March was New Year’s Day—liturgically, legally and fiscally—under the Julian system of reckoning time. A quarter day falling near the March equinox, it was an ideal date for arranging new contracts between landlords and tenants because it fell at a time that did not interfere with ploughing or harvest and itinerant farmers would move house and home (see also) at this time. With the British Empire lagging behind most of Western Europe in switching to “New Style,” the eleven day difference between the Gregorian and Julian calendars caused the contract-setting period to be advanced to 5 April, hence “Old Lady Day.”

Sunday, 20 March 2022

ฤ“ostreteric

Though possible an invention of the Venerable Bede as the name of the goddess does not appear in the historical record prior to its citation in his eighth century work on The Reckoning of Time describing the indigenous months of the English peoples (De mensibus Anglorum) with ฤ’osturmลnaรพ, whose deity was the namesake of Easter and many related words, since having been overtaken as Paschal Month, Eastertide celebrating the sacrifice of Jesus with the trappings of far more ancient customs. The Neopagan Wheel of the Year celebrates the equinox (by etymological reconstruction, the goddess of the sunrise) as the Feast of Ostarรข, another Germanic—and by migration and raids, Anglo-Saxon—form of her name.

Tuesday, 15 March 2022

ut annare perannareque commode liceat

Originally corresponding to the first full moon of the New Year, this day, the Ides of March, was marked by the Feast of Anna Perenna, a public holiday with much feasting and sacrifice to secure a propitious and healthy year ahead. Revelers beseeched the deification of the passage of time to grant them as many more fruitful years as cups of wine they could imbibe and observed despite calendar reforms and the pivot away from lunar cycles. Associated with the assassination of Julius Caesar who ignored the warnings of a seer, a practitioner of haruspicy—that is divination through entrails—called Spurinna, the festivities changed and were formalized after the civil war as an imperial procession marking the end of a holy week of sorts in honour of the Cybele, the Magna Mater, and her consort Attis, who represented the cycle of the seasons, and passion plays (performed by tree-bearing priests called dendrophoroi) that marked the birth and death of that figure in anticipation of the vernal equinox.

i’ll do my exploring in the laboratory, if you don’t mind

First subjected to the MST3K deluxe treatment on this day in 1997, Terror from the Year 5000 is a Samuel Z Arkoff and Robert J Gurney Jr. collaboration from 1958 about a science experiment that first involves an exchange of objects and artefacts from the distant future, sort of like the show’s regular invention exchange segment. Eventually (about an hour into the movie) this trading beckons a disfigured, Greek-speaking envoy to travel to the present and present a warning about the nuclear holocaust in the hope intervention will change the timeline. The Observers’ forcing Bobo and Dr Pearl Forrester to engage in combat is a reference to “The Gamesters of Triskelion” when the disembodied minds called The Providers demanded Uhura, Kirk and Chekov fight to the death.

Tuesday, 1 March 2022

6x6


serenade
: French illustrator Gaspard portrays musicians harmonising with feathered friends in lush settings  

bon temps roulez, mes amis: New Orleans celebrates its first full-scale Marti Gras in two years  

donzig: a rather clever mashup of Donna Summers and Danzig’s cover of The Doors’ Mother  

complications: a clock face engineered to make telling the time a challenge—see also  

displaced persons: a historical pamphlet on the situation in Ukraine following World War II 

 aux in: a superlative collection of boom-boxes from Japan

Tuesday, 22 February 2022

7x7

orientation: Ivan Reitman’s (RIP) student film

times contrarian: Neil Young (previously) publishes his own digital newspaper

le docteur qui: Bill Bailey (previously) reinterprets Dr Who theme as swinging Belgian jazz  

twosday: a once in a life-time quirk of the calendar—be sure to celebrate this mirror day 

a notoriously unpredictable english tetragraph: all the different ways to say -ough  

genehmigung gestoppt: German halts approval process for pipeline (previously) bypassing Ukraine after Russia invades 

 mother-in-law-doors: elevated thresholds in Newfoundland have a questionable origin (see also)—via Miss Cellania’s Links

Saturday, 19 February 2022

year of the wood boar

Becoming the first Western musical act to appear in concert in China since the break-through performance of George Michael a decade earlier, the Swedish pop duo Roxette rang in the new year on this day in 1995 in the Bejing Workers’ Indoor Arena as part of their Crash! Boom! Bang! world tour for their album of the same name.

Tuesday, 1 February 2022

6x6

putting the fun in fungible: NFTs appraised on Antiques Roadshow, via Messy Nessy Chic  

anagrams everywhere: the intrusive, obsessive thoughts of a Scrabble enthusiast—via Kottke’s Quick Linkssee also  

maths hysteria: a celebration of vintage calculator manuals  

dishes for luck and prosperity: traditional Lunar New Year cuisine laden with word-play and symbolism  

old brown ears is back: a cover album from under-appreciated Muppet character, Rowlf the Dog  

nasm: Smithsonian Air & Space museum accepts donation from a tech billionaire—notably absent a “morals clause” which would allow the institution to disassociate itself with their benefactor should their values become misaligned

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

magnus manske day

As the precursor software platform to MediaWiki (see previously), on this day in 2002 Wikipedia upgraded to “Phase II,” developed by the titular programmer who had previously gifted to the research community open-source applications for molecular biology and genetics and was among the most active contributors to Nupedia and would author the first article for the German-version of Wikipedia—on polymerase chain reactions.

Tuesday, 18 January 2022

tempus fugit

From our faithful chronicler we are introduced to the Weber-Fechner law, a pair of complementary psychophysical hypotheses that account for the common experience of the accelerated passage of time as we grow older. Named for Ernst Heinrich Weber (Gustav Theodore Fechner described it mathematically), the phenomenon suggests that we perceive ratios and given a sufficiently larger sample size—smaller contrast, we begin to gauge change in logarithmically rather than linearly. More at the link above, including a video presentation by Dr Hanna Fry of The Curious Cases podcast with co-host Dr Adam Rutherford.