Thursday, 2 February 2023

sometimes today is tomorrow (10. 516)

Guest blogger Tim Carmody takes the helm for the tenth anniversary of the twentieth anniversary of Kottke’s Groundhog Day live-blog, in a very recursive tradition of celebrating the 1993 fantasy, romantic comedy for a decade. Directed by Harold Ramis and written by Danny Rubin, it portrays a cynical TV weatherman assigned to cover the annual event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and gets caught in a time loop, him alone aware that the day is repeating and has the potential for perfecting.

Tuesday, 31 January 2023

the golden arches theory (10. 512)

On the anniversary of the opening of the first McDonald’s establishment in Pushkin Square in 1990—an earlier earnest effort was undertaken by the Canadian master franchise for the 1980 Summer Olympic Games, famously boycotted by America, realising the host city offered no fast food options, arranged to open two pop-up restaurants by the main stadium but the plan was vetoed at the last minute by Moscow’s mayor, it’s a good occasion to visit the above adage of globalisation from Thomas Friedman that no belligerents both host McDonald’s. This conflict prevention measure is flawed, however, with the US invasion of Panama, the bombing of Serbia, Lebanon, the annexation of Crimea which shut down Russian outlets temporarily and the divesture of the company following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Nearly forty-thousand guests were served that day, queuing in the cold for hours.

Monday, 30 January 2023

7x7 (10. 510)

loft apartment: a unique flat inside St Louis’ City Museum up for rent—via Miss Cellania  

relaxed minimalism: a happy medium combining clarity and comfort  

namensverbreitungskarte: an interactive maps illustrating the distribution of surnames in Germany  

nocebo: even when the patient is aware of taking an inert pill, a substance designed with no therapeutic value can lessen feelings of guilt and loathing—via the new shelton wet/dry  

synodic and sidereal: the question of lunar standard time is a challenge—particularly with multiple missions operating at once—via jwz 

kurashi: tidying guru Marie Kondo have accepted messiness after the arrival of her third child  

arragon mooar: the purportedly the most complicated home ever built—by inventor John C Taylor—on the market—via Things Magazine

Saturday, 28 January 2023

zรผndwarenmonopolgesetz (10. 504)

Having finally conceded to Swedish industrialist and con-artist Ivar Kreuger’s overtures (see link below for more on the Match King) for a financial lifeline to the struggling Weimar Republic (obligated to pay reparations for World War I with most other legitimate means of borrowing or issuing bonds severely limited), the Reichtag on this day in 1930 passed the Flammables Monopoly Law (see previously), awarding exclusive manufacturing rights to Kreuger and his subsidiaries. Quotas at fixed prices were extended to factories that bought into the scheme and were sold to the public at a set price, generating revenue to repay the bond instalments with interest, an arrangement which otherwise would have continued in perpetuity but debts were settled finally in 1983 by West Germany, the East having no truck with this deal.

Sunday, 22 January 2023

shenshu and yulรผ (10. 490)

For this start of the Lunar New Year’s festivities, we are given a primer on the armoured warriors put up to protect households from malignant spirits and guard the threshold called menschen or door gods (้–€็ฅž) and attract good luck. With analogues that include Janus, the deity of beginnings and endings, and the blessing of the Magi tagged on one’s front door for Epiphany, one legend places the sentries at the portal in the boughs of a giant peach tree on the mythic Dushuo Mountain in the middle of the sea that allowed transit between the world of the spirits and the world of the mortals, the pair working to keep out evil, though many more traditions abound, including the founder of the Tang dynasty had his titular generals stand watch to alleviate his nightmares and their likenesses proved just as effective. Much more at the link up top.

Thursday, 19 January 2023

7x7 (10. 481)

distressed property: no interested buyers for North Hollywood Crypto House—via Miss Cellania  

rabbit on the moon: some communities following the luni-solar calendar readying for the Year of the Cat

cartoon dynamo: a century later, a 1923 editorial foreshadows automated art 

high stakes brinksmanship: the US Treasury turns to extraordinary measures to avoid default on debt repayments  

peer-reviewed: many scientists disapprove of ChatGPT cited as a contributing author on research papers  

unbuilt: rendered images of Frank Lloyd Wright’s unrealised architecture  

childhood lottery dream home achieved: a selection of properties on the market, courtesy of Zillow Gone Wild

Monday, 16 January 2023

the night of january sixteenth (10. 423)

In a rather satisfying coincidence, this day in 1983 marks the the expiration of the monopoly for the manufacture of safety matches (Zรผndwarenmonopol) in West Germany when the rights were acquired by Swedish swindler, Ponzi scheme architect and racketeer Ivar Kreuger—the Match King who’d fit in perfectly with contemporary grifters and fraudsters—in 1930 with a loan of five hundred million Reichsmark to the Weimar Republic, whose bonds extended through World War II and finally lapsed—and the titular stage play by Ayn Rand (previously), inspired by the death of Kreuger († 12 March 1932—usually performed as Woman on Trial. The lover of industrialist Bjorn Faulkner (Kreuger’s analogue, whom Rand became obsessed with though was quite a questionable pillar to uphold) is accused of his murder and the author’s intent to dramatise the conflict between conformity and individualism leaves the verdict unresolved and invites the audience to decide. The courtroom setting is artistic license as most likely Kreuger committed suicide facing the prospect of bankruptcy once accounting manipulations were revealed, paying investors dividends from their own money. One year after its premier in Los Angeles, the production team took it to Broadway in 1935 and saw a revival in 1973 under the title “Penthouse Legend.” Meanwhile it was adapted into a film in 1941—which was not a commercial or critical success—and a 1989 Bollywood version called Gawaahi (Testimony), which might be worth seeing.

Saturday, 14 January 2023

8x8 (10. 417)

mouldiness manifesto: a celebration of the architecture of Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser—see previously here and here 

olympus mons: detailed maps of Martian terrain from the United States Geological Survey 

cobra mist: a tour of the deserted Orford Ness, the UK’s Area 51 

the george santos special: disgraced congressional representative (see previously) has a really specific skill—via Super Punch 

yurt of invincibility: Kazakh community in Ukraine provides warm-banks, accommodations for those without power  

welcome to garbage town: or how three decades of social media urged us to stop talking and start buying things  

portland district: the US Army Corps has a collection of monumental felines with their engineering projects—for those not yet with their 2023 calendars—see previously 

triple aught foundation: revisiting Michael Heizer’s City in the Nevada desert—via Things Magazine

Tuesday, 3 January 2023

6x6 (10. 383)

shift happens: a comprehensive history of keyboards by Marcin Wichary—via Waxy  

luni-solar: the people who are living in multiple timelines—see previously  

poly canon: a showcase of strange, experimental architectural students senior projects at scale  

hydraulic press interpretive dance: the impressive choreography of Sarah “Smac” McCreanor—see previously  

nangajo: prominent figures of the Japanese design community present their greeting cards for 2023 (see previously), the Year of the Rabbit 

franklin ace 100: the Apple clone (see previously) with a bizarre users’ guide—via Waxy

Sunday, 1 January 2023

9x9 (10. 379)

run with us: Lisa Lougheed vocal talents showcased for the Canadian animated television series The Raccoons—1985 to 1992  

the number 23: Tedium looks forward to the dawning year  

artisanal bitcoin: crypto mined with only slide rules and graph paper  

rip: this more inclusive, Sgt Pepper’s style (previously) obituary of those we lost in 2022—to include the very recently passing of Anita Pointer, Barbara Walters and Pope Benedict 

next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual: a literary guide to New Year’s resolutions and more from Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links 

web 1.0: a clarion call to bring back personal blogging—also the upteenth time this appeal has circulated since 2007—via Kottke’s Quick Links  

penny-farthing: a pocket-sized battery that can enhance a mechanical bicycle  

magic clock: a 1960 Mel-O-Toons classic reminds us it’s late than we think  

fever ray: a selection of new musical artist from Super Punch

Saturday, 31 December 2022

but my friends, they’re waiting in the lobby (10. 375)

Though no one can say quite sure why Dinner for One (previously), an eighteen minute British sketch from Lauri Wylie and starring comedians May Warden and Freddie Fronton recorded in 1962, has been made a Jahreswechsel broadcast and standard New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day television—perhaps owing to one of penultimate lines delivered by manservant James (posing as one of the no-show guests Mister Pommeroy) wishes Miss Sophie a Happy New Year, since New Year’s Eve 1972, it has been continuously aired, first by the Norddeutscher Rundfunk based in Hamburg, since attaining cult status with even Netflix producing a short remake of this obscure tradition with characters from their most popular series and a German film consortium planning a prequel mini-series—possibly a murder-mystery —for the end of 2023.

Friday, 30 December 2022

cccp/cpcp (10. 371)

While recognised as a union of soviet republics since 1919 with a federated, central government based in Moscow, the Soviet Union as it existed (though borders were not static during the seventy-two year period) until its dissolution in 1991 came into being effective this day in 1922 after the signing of the Treaty on the Creation of the Union Soviet Socialist Republics (ะ”ะตะบะปะฐั€ะฐั†ะธั ะธ ะดะพะณะพะฒะพั€ ะพะฑ ะพะฑั€ะฐะทะพะฒะฐะฝะธะธ ะกะพัŽะทะฐ ะกะพะฒะตั‚ัะบะธั… ะกะพั†ะธะฐะปะธัั‚ะธั‡ะตัะบะธั… ะ ะตัะฟัƒะฑะปะธะบ), negotiated and approved by delegations from the Russian, Byelorussian, Transcauscasian (containing Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia) and Ukrainian SSRs. The preamble and twenty-six articles outlines the imperative of forging a union as a counterweight to the political ideology of responsible for the Great War through exploitative capitalism, colonialism cultural hegemony with a transnational society based on mutual trust, solidarity and cooperation.

mcmlxxxix (10. 370)

By dint of the limited permutations of the Gregorian, civil calendar, we discover that we can helpfully recycle (see previously) our calendars from 2017 or 1989 for the upcoming 2023. Not to be dismissive of the events bookended six years ago, the political turning points of the latter with the fall of the Berlin Wall, Perestroika, the Velvet Revolution, the uprisings in Romania and China, as well as the gradual dismantling of the apartheid government in South Africa, the return of democratic norms to Brazil and Poland and the first internet service providers seem to bode as auspicious points of correspondence. Having lived through it, may we may live in exciting times. 

Tuesday, 27 December 2022

8x8 (10. 366)

adad gate: bas-relief discoveries help limn the dazzle of ancient Nineveh 

rewind: a growing collection of Year-End Lists arranged categorical  

take the a-train: an NYC subway quiz—via tmn 

mush from the wimp: a collection of the best headlines from 2022 

double jeopardy: a personalised quiz show tradition based on family gossip  

a chromatic hallucination: the colour magenta (previously) is a mental construct  

fast-forward: 2022 summarised in seven minutes  

nazca lines: a whole cache of hidden geoglyphs found in Peru

Monday, 26 December 2022

ฮบฮฑฮปฮนฮบฮฌฮฝฯ„ฮถฮฑฯฮฟฮน (10. 365)

A figure of Greek, Balkan and Anatolian folklore, the malevolent goblins called kallikantzaros (previously, literally beguiling centaur in Greek but possibly etymologically sources to the Turkish word for werewolf or vampire) are summoned from the underworld during Twelvetide to turn their mischief on humans, there being a reprieve from their infernal, eternal task during this fortnight when it is believed the Earth’s journey through the calendar year is suspended. Consigned to hack away at the trunk of the World Tree and bring about its doom, one Christmas dawns and the Sun stops moving, they are called to the surface, distracted and forgetting about their job, nearly complete, until Epiphany resumes Ordinary Time—and the sawed bough has had the chance to regenerate. In order to save the world, most humans would endure this period of bedevilment but there were additional (see above) ways to keep the kallikantazaroi away, including keeping the Yule Log burning for the duration of the holidays so they could not creep down one’s chimney and through one’s hearth, avoid venturing out late at night and, particularly in Serbia, to refrain from adulterous liaisons since that activity attracts them and will ensure that the affair gets found out.

Saturday, 24 December 2022

✨pause for station identication✨ (10. 360)

We here at PfRC wish you and yours all good things and the biggest, brightest little Christmas yet. Take care of one another, and we look forward to seeing you all again real soon.  Happy holidays!

แ–แ••แŠแ“ฒแ‘Žแ–ƒแ•แ••แ’ƒ (10. 359)

The timing influenced and somewhat reinforced by encounters with Christian missionaries from both Western and Eastern traditions—Christmas itself being syncretic holiday with pre-Christian roots, festivities for the New Year begin on this day for some members of the Inuit, Aleut, Yupik, Iรฑupiat and Chukchi communities with Quviasukvik (“the time and place of joy”) celebrations lasting through 7 January. Customs differ from Greenland, North America to Siberia but the vigils of watching the sunrise, feasting and gift-exchanges are welcoming the return of the sea goddess Sedna (see also) with her blessings and bounty as the daylight returns.

Thursday, 22 December 2022

green-eyed monster (10. 353)

A perennial favourite, the editorial staff at Bloomberg Businessweek honour their journalistic peers and and players with their Jealousy List—a tradition going back to 2015—by calling out reporting that they wish they had scooped or otherwise explored in depth. There is a whole of articles to pour over and especially liked the by-lines and attributes for new and taken for granted sources to follow. We especially enjoyed Wired’s article on “How Telegram Became the Anti-Facebook” plus also deserving of an honourable mention, the BBC’s series on the collapse of Communism in Russia, a GQ piece on lifelong projects through the lens of Francis Ford Coppola and a range of articles from Atavist magazine, a new read for us to revisit. Do peruse the whole index and let us know your most engrossing finds.

Tuesday, 20 December 2022

schnappschรผsse vom krieg (10. 346)

Born this day in 1922 and still taking pictures, Michelantonio “Tony” Celestino Onofrio Vaccaro immigrated back to the US to avoid being conscripted in Italy and despite already having an impressive photographic portfolio just out of high school his first draft assignment as a photo-documentarian with the Army Signal Corps didn’t pan out and was instead assigned as a scout, fighting in Normandy, Luxembourg and Germany—though still affording opportunities to shoot images, evocative impressions of the front captured in 1944 and 1945. After being discharged, Vaccaro remained in Germany, contributing to the Army newspaper Stars & Stripes and recording life post-war in Frankfurt. Returning to America in the early 1950s, Vaccaro took assignments with Look, Life and Flair magazines as a society photographer, marrying a model for fashion house Marimekko, and after a decades’-long stint teaching at Cooper Union published a selection of his extensive wartime archive, under the imprint Entering Germany: Photographs 1944 – 1949. Click here for a gallery of Vaccaro’s diverse subjects.

Friday, 9 December 2022

data dump (10. 373)

Although unashamedly US-centric, the just-published Year in Search retrospective from Google nonetheless yields some insights for this past year and our collective engagement with the news and trends. 

It seems that we were less interested in chasing memes and more focused on the news and an interesting feature (America only apparently) allows one to find popular search terms locally. There are several categories–plants, pets, people–of analytics to parse and contrast and the top ten searches (with apparent recency bias) worldwide were: 

  • Wordle
  • India vs England
  • Ukraine
  • Queen Elizabeth
  • Ind vs SA
  • World Cup
  • India vs West Indies
  • iPhone 14
  • Jeffrey Dahmer
  • Indian Premier League

The top news queries were: Ukraine, Queen Elizabeth’s passing, Election Results, Powerball Numbers and Monkeypox. More at the links above.