Monday, 30 January 2023

distrans (10. 511)

Though aware of the differences in international editions it had never occurred to me that illustrated covers were set in a specific type over its first printings, like these UK volumes with titles in Giorgio, fittingly a sort of space-age spaghetti Western font, we were unfamiliar with the mystery surrounding—via Boing Boing—the visual identity of Frank Herbert’s original trilogy from 1975 on, eventually encompassing all of the author’s work. and work about the author and franchise. An uncredited typographer lettered a modified version of Davison Art Nouveau, a font never digitised and can only be licensed from a single catalogue of a particular Manhattan foundry. Many more examples at Fonts in Use at the link above.

Friday, 27 January 2023

ars notaria (10. 503)

Via Clive Thompson’s latest linkfest, which is a delight in itself to check in on often, we are introduced to the Cistercian system of ciphers, almost rune-like, developed by the monastic order parallel to the arrival of the Hindu-Arabic numerals in northwestern Europe which gradually replaced Roman notation, this stave system of units was far more compact and convenient for transcription as a single glyph could represent any value from one to ten-thousand. The pattern for forming higher numbers becomes apparent and later scholars expanded the system exponentially into the trillions. While seemingly not used for calculation, manuscripts from the thirteenth century show that they were used for numbering lists, indices, tables, musical notation and foliation—that is, page numbers. For more exploration and for a challenge (see also), click through to find source code to make a Cistercian clock.

Monday, 23 January 2023

6x6 (10. 492)

zhengyue 2: the second day of the Lunar New Year is considered the birthday of all dogs 

only took the m’f’er fifteen tries: Randy Rainbow lampoons Kevin McCartney with a parody of ‘Master of the House’ from Les Misรฉrables 

i shot the serif: US Department of State drops the typeface Times New Roman in favour of the more legible Calibri font  

yellow magic orchestra: watch performances by the Japanese group that created some of the most innovative and influential acts in electronic music  

odonymy: more open etymological street maps—see also  

tet: a short, hand-drawn game about cooking and serving a Vietnamese holiday meal—via Waxy

Thursday, 12 January 2023

mutcd (10. 409)

Via Kottke, we are referred to Jon Keegan’s survey, contributor for Beautiful Public Data, of the US Federal Highway Administration’s style guide for American road-markings. With particular emphasis of uniform, the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways sets forth the national standards for all signage open to public travel, with exacting specifications for font (Highway Gothic), size, kerning, backgrounds, etc to ensure swift recognition and legibility.

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

Monday, 2 January 2023

6x6 (10. 381)

your posture is correct if you can lift your right foot in the air and rotate it effortlessly without falling: a Finnish tutorial from 1979 on the proper way to open doors—with subtitles in several languages

gebrausgraphik: the ornament and logo design of Max Kรถrner 

de laudibus sanctae crucis: the medieval pattern poems—that reference the Phaistos Disk and anticipate calligrams—of Magister Rabanus Maurus (see previously here and here)  

sword out of the stone: King Tut’s space dagger and other superlative archaeological finds—see previously  

wood wide web: ethereal ghost flower forgoes photosynthesis—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links  

inside story: an appreciation of Slim Goodbody

global village coffee house (10. 380)

Reddit contributor and conservator of varied projects called Forever Mozart 11 presents a vast design directory of graphic artist that perfectly encapsulates the 1990s aesthetic as filtered through the lens of American consumer culture with single page portfolios with selection illustrations of commissions and print interstitials.

The offset typography invoke, subject and style invoke a strong sense of nostalgia that informs the retro trend that’s seen a resurgence in recent times. I had a difficult time tracing the career of any one of these artists but could definitely extrapolate an entire gallery’s worth of advertising and ephemera from these signature samples and is definitely worth one’s time scrolling through and sharing your favourites.

Wednesday, 21 December 2022

8x8 (10. 350)

gadgetbahn: displacing solid public transportation networks with amusement park rides won't address underlying traffic problems 

senior superlatives: the most interesting fonts and typefaces of the year  

๐Ÿ‘: the ten best films of 2022  

seneca falls: the altruistic act that is said to have inspired It’s A Wonderful Life and other festive adventures in audio with Josie Long  

fรฆรฐingarsaga: listen again to an eleven-year-old Bjรถrk Guรฐmundsdรณttir recite the Nativity Story in Icelandic  

as it was: some the most popular songs of the year  

shot sage blue marilyn: the most expensive works of art trading hands this year  

chief twit: abiding by results of a poll, Elon Musk announced he will step down as CEO of the social media platform as soon as a replacement can be identified

Friday, 16 December 2022

6x6 (10. 389)

third estate: Twitter begins suspending the accounts of many high profile journalists  

that went places: this wordless Scotch advertisement is really moving 

i love paris when it’s deco: revisiting the landmark Exposition Internationale des Arts Dรฉcoratifs et Industriels Modernes held along the Seine in 1925 

united states of pop: DJ Earworm (previously) remixes the year in music  

this christmas ad broke me: a somewhat cynical though more accurate seasonal supermarket commercial 

i expect these will sell out soon: Trump launches a collection of NFT trading cards



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, 19 November 2022

(•◡•) (10. 315)

This helpful, painstakingly formatted index of text meme templates—an interesting mix of emoji and ASCII characters—comes to our attention courtesy of Web Curios and was compiled by Nathan Allebach (previously, maybe) and available for anyone to copy, paste and tailor to one’s message. Definitely worth scrolling through this labour of love and completist dedication and letting us know your favourites.

Thursday, 17 November 2022

irulegiko eskua (10. 310)

Although unearthed during excavations near Pamplona last year, the significance of the ancient Bronze Age artefact known as the Hand of Irulegi has only recently come to light, informing our view of the Vascone tribe and their proto-Basque language, the ancestor of modern euskera, once thought to be a pre-literate culture. Written in Iberian script, the only word deciphered so far is sorioneku, a word with a modern cognate meaning “good fortune.” It is believed that this metal-alloy talisman would be hung at the threshold of a home for protection. Previously researchers believed that the Vascones had no system of writing before the arrival of the Romans and only used symbols to mint coins.

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

Monday, 24 October 2022

๐€’๐€œ๐€ฐ (10. 248)

With evidence of human occupation for the past one hundred and fifty thousand years and settled some five millennia past in the early neolithic period, we visited the archaeological site and partial, creative reconstruction of King Minos’ palace compound at Knossos, considered the oldest city in Europe and with the Minoan culture the origin of the first intelligible writing system with Linear B. 

We drove through Souda Bay along the Northern Cretan highway to the central coastal city of Heraklion. Abandoned for unknown reasons during the late Bronze Age, the site was unearthed in the early 1890s by one Sir John Arthur Evens, whose father excavated Hallstadt, and whose career included prior turns as war correspondent for the Manchester Guardian, a spy in the Balkans and the caretaker of the Ashmolean Museum, who secured digging  rights from the Ottomans around the same time the up-until-then legendary Troy was rediscovered by Heinrich Schliemann (the pair somewhat in correspondence and competition with another) in another part of the Empire.

The term palace turned out to be possibly misleading, rather than interpreting the over thousand connected chambers of workshops of this administrative centre the maze that held the dread Minotaur. Moreover labyrs (๐€›)—whence ultimately labyrinth was Cretan for a double-biting axe head, a glyph inscribed at corners, sort of like an evil eye, to protect what’s inside the walls, and could be interpreted as guide marks to find one’s way back out. 

We found parking in an olive grove near a traditional tavern near the entrance to the site. The host said we were welcome to park in the shade at his establishment, and just might consider dining there afterwards—not a bad business model.

Wednesday, 19 October 2022

7x7 (10. 239)

actually: summoning the Candymansplainer 

doktor semmelweis i presume: how it took three decades to convince surgeons to wash their hands in the context of contemporary inconvenience  

kessler syndrome: more on orbital space junk—see previously  

one-dimensional: construction starts on the linear megacity in the desert—see previously  

woodpeckers in space: an 80s Danish hit 

not alone: most kanji readers cannot read it in cursive—see also  

based on a true story: horror classics inspired by actual events

Saturday, 15 October 2022

ร  la carte (10. 228)

The need having fortunately not arisen and never noticing these instructions before from my online bank, I was rather intrigued that the three-stacked dots icon was referred to as the kebab and wondered about the identity of other menu widgets. Apparently there are a whole suite of representations, and the differences are primarily stylistic to distinguish between navigational options, the line variety opening up a whole new screen, more or overflow, whereas the dot subset opens an in-line (closed) scaled for mobile devices. Not certain how often they were employed in the wild, but the Chocolate Box is also known as the Bento Menu and the Strawberry as the Dรถner, a kind of kebab.

Friday, 30 September 2022

please confirm that your surname is indeed St&252;vel (10. 181)

Hard to believe that there is still no work-around for otherwise sturdy legacy software that goes all fragile over apostrophes and accent marks (not to mention the so-called smarter algorithms that vex users with the Scunthorpe problem), but as this gloss from Language Log relates the ticketing programme used by national carrier Aer Lingus won’t accept ostensibly the most common Irish last names like O’Connor and O’Brien, a state of affairs that has been a known dilemma for quite some time, which the airline apologies for. What do you think? Have you had to contend with such constraining inputs? We wonder how domestic equivalents might fare.

Monday, 19 September 2022

many-eyed seraphim (10. 150)

The Multiocular O (give it googly eyes, lots of them) is a hapax legomenon in glyph form of the Cyrillic alphabet, occurring just once in the known lexicon as ะผะฝ҄ะพ๊™ฎั‡ะธั‚ั—ะน in Old Church Slavonic (previously). In addition to the reminder of how strange and monstrous biblical angels are supposed to be, there is a current petition to revise the Unicode representation to make it more accurate.

Saturday, 17 September 2022

7x7 (10. 141)

jezero: Perseverance explores a Martian crater  

lingthusiasm: an interview with xkcd author Randall Munroe on hypothetical questions about language and orthography—via Language Log  

achievement unlocked: a radical redesign for Girl Scout badges—see also  

3½, 5¼: an interview with the last purveyor of floppy disks—via JWZ  

emoticons: more on the IPA, EPA (English Phonotypic Alphabet), Issac Pitman and other champions of spelling reform from Shady Characters  

jazz and cats: the life and surrealistic art of Gertrude Abercrombie  

earth below us: outstanding images from the Astronomy Photographer of the Year Contest

Saturday, 10 September 2022

8x8 (10. 124)

the girl from ipanema: the Yahoo! GeoCities (previously) Midi project has gathered a collection of over one-hundred and fifty thousand chiptunes, via Web Curios  

summer island: a graphic horror novella that’s a collaboration between a story authored by a human and illustrations courtesy a machine 

bill-of-sale: receipts and letterhead of the Old East End  

null island: the imaginary location at the intersection of the Equator and Prime Meridian (see previously) that exists by necessity  

premium vector: a selection of 90s cursor effects (trails, rainbows) that can be incorporated into one’s website—via ibฤซdem  

trichromacy: fascinating etymologies of words for colours—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links  

b-poty: avian photography of the year  

pattern recognition: more on mondegreens and misheard lyrics