Saturday, 23 October 2021


floh u. trรถdel: couple’s costume ideas—via the ever excellence Everlasting Blรถrt 

boutonniere: Harriet Parry’s flower arrangements reproduce iconic fine art and classic tarot card designs—via ibฤซdem

microface: a quick quiz to identify whether the subject is a font or a Marvel character (see previously)—via Kottke’s Quick Links  

์˜ค์ง•์–ด ๊ฒŒ์ž„: Squid Games Funko-Pop characters—see also 

pyrrhic victory: the rules of play for a variant called Atomic Chess allows a pawn crossing the breadth of the game board promotion to a scale that would instantaneously annihilate all pieces—of both sides

rollercoaster tycoon: Saudi Arabia transforms a decommissioned drilling platform into an extreme amusement park  

hell no: a sensible horror film

Saturday, 16 October 2021

counterpunctual or slashdot

Another kindred internet caretaker, TYWKIWDBI, picked up on an idea we were wondering about after an earlier encounter with site that distills one’s writing down to its constituent punctuation marks

While no refined work of literature or self-consistent as canon, we did wonder if there was a certain detectable cadence or scansion to our posts on PfRC—and indeed whether hypertext markup, virgules, separatrices, etc. counted or should be counted, but from the Latin to score with points, it does seem right to include after all.

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

horticultural dingbat

In announcing the winner of contest held in honour of Punctuation Day, adopted and embraced as an international observance, Shady Characters gives us a brief but thorough education in the dual-use glyph, used both as a form of punctuation and as a typographical ornament known as the printers’ flower, Aldus leaf (after Renaissance publisher Aldus Manutius of the the Aldine Press), the hedera symbol or most commonly as the fleuron—❦. Similar to the pilcrow (¶, Middle English pylcrafte and ultimately from the Greek paragraphos), it was used in ancient manuscripts to divide paragraphs in a block of text and fill the space of indentation. In modern bookbinding and pagination, it is used similarly to the asterism to denote line- and page-breaks as well as borders. Couched in the title conventions, they are referred to as “floral hearts.”

Friday, 8 October 2021


Designed to remedy brain fatigue, Scott H. Perky (son of Henry Perky of shredded wheat fame) created and patented a bi-directional typeface that would eliminate effort required for a mental carriage-return and allow readers to carry on slaloming through a block of text. Though not without historical precedence “as in the manner of the ox that turns while ploughing” and antecedents, the younger Perky’s idea failed to gain traction at the time.

Friday, 24 September 2021


As our faithful chronicler reminds, this day since first championed in the United States of America by Jeff Rubin in 2004 is set aside to promote the correct use of punctuation, observed—among other rituals—by sharing the gravest transgressions. Also an occasion to celebrate the rarer or failed interpunction like the asterism or interrobang, we liked learning about the proposal for a friendly period to lighten the tone, formality or finality.

Tuesday, 31 August 2021

conspicous calculation

Addressing the lexical weight of numeracy and the outsized weight we attribute to it as we do with all jargon from coding to spellbinding, we really enjoyed the panel discussion between host Helen Zaltzman and guest Professor Stephen Chrisomalis featured on the latest episode of the Allusionist on numbers and notation. 

We especially appreciated the disabusing reminders about bias, audience and the recent dominance of Indo-Arabic numerals (see also) and the vestigial systems, like Roman numerals, that accord prestige and the fact that I, V, X, L, C, D, Mwere not immutable from Antiquity until now with medieval abbreviations sometimes reflecting the Latin name or using Claudian letters and that the symbols were never meant to denote centum or mille but rather that half X is V and half C is L, and so on.

Saturday, 28 August 2021


letraset press: a collection of instant lettering dry-transfer sheets (see previously) from Coudal Partners’ Fresh Signals 

the woman who stared at the sun: the circumstance and contributions to astronomy of Hisako Koyama who helped hone our understanding of solar cycles 

a good walk spoiled: an in-depth look at how golf course exacerbate the housing shortage  

couch gag: a clever individual shares their construction of a miniature replica of the Simpsons’ purple television set that plays random episodes 

one week supply: a podcast discussing Damn Interesting’s curated links section 

the china syndrome: a super-tunnel simulator that illustrates the quickest, shortest routes to connecting points around the globe—see also  

tartu snail tower: the spiralling skyscraper in Estonia’s second city  

the art of letters: a typographical study from Mark Gowing

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

referens b๐‘คks

Courtesy of Weird Universe, we’ve previously encountered this forty-three letter script called Augmented Roman in which each glyph makes a distinct sound, allowing for a fully phonetic English orthography—textual examples of which we can recall looking and being thoroughly confused as young readers. We failed to realise however that the politician, publisher and educational reformer who developed the Initial Teaching Alphabet (i.t.a.) was Sir James Pitman (*1901 - †1985), grandson of Sir Isaac Pitman, who of a similar disposition, had developed a popular though far longer-lived stenographical system.

itc kristen

Being unabashed font snobs ourselves, we thoroughly enjoyed this piece by Jonah Lehrer for Lithub on the utility of Comic Sans and other similarly disfluent typefaces, how they are demonstrated to aid in retention and recall, jarring mental laziness and how corporate logos—in their quest for refinement—may be preening their brands to be instantly forgettable. The excerpt goes on to examine how the disquieting defamiliarisation plays a big role in oral tradition and the recitation, transmission of sagas and epic poetry.

Saturday, 7 August 2021

floating capital

The excellent house blog of San Francisco’s storied DNA Lounge, JWZ, asks us to consider the meaning and message of one of the least popular emojis, the so described as man in business suit levitating (๐Ÿ•ด)—an enigma but not in the sense of Avicenna’s thought experiment of the Floating Man or Magritte’s Son of Man, but rather what sort of capitalist, privileged elation that this symbol can be used to express. Click through for a selection of literary tropes for which this shorthand for rapture, stock-photo, narcissist or sociopath—whereas the real backstory involving a webdings exclamation mark and a Ska band is equally intriguing if not more circuitous.

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

eight of swords

Via Super Punch, we discover a text-to-image generative experiment that applies some 1970s sci-fi paperback covers filters to the classic Rider-Waite-Smith iconography to dream up a tarot deck hybrid. We especially liked this Seven of Pentacles card that seems inspired by the novel and film Silent Running.

fife and snare

Via the always brilliant Things Magazine, we are directed towards a digitisation of the complete—short but impactful—run of Avant Garde magazine, a project by Ralph Ginzburg and Herb Lubalin (previously here and here) that lived up to its title with articles on radical, pacifist politics and erotica.

The monogram included the nude lithographs of John Lennon and Yoko Ono plus a phantasmagorical version of Marilyn Monroe’s last photo session. The March 1969 cover featured here is the photographic composition of the award-winning professor and director Carl T. Fischer called The Spirit of 1976, the artist also known for his iconic celebrity portraits including Andy Warhol, Barbara Streisand, attorney F. Lee Bailey and boxer Muhammad Ali as Saint Sebastian.

Saturday, 17 July 2021

kristinehamn a few kilometers to the city on the shore of Lake Vรคnern—the larger of the two and biggest in all of the European Union, third on the continent, we marveled at the Brick Gothic Kristinehamns kyrka opened in 1858 and informed by a similar construction boom after the Wiesbaden school to my mind. On the lakefront preceding the harbor, there is a monumental sculpture from Pablo Picasso looking into the blue expanse, the fifteen meter high pillar the artist‘s largest and part of a series called „les dames des Mougins.“ Not overseeing the construction in person, the location of the installation was reportedly a contest between Sweden and Norway, with the latter ultimately conceding. Just outside of town in a meadow of daisies and guarded by a flock of sheep stands the Jรคrsberg Runestone, a bit less verbose than the previous, the inscription is one of the oldest known. Essentially „I made a thing,“ the writing is translated as „Leubaz I am called…I, the earl, write the runes.“

emojional rescue

Via the always brilliant Present /&/ Correct —please check out their sundries, we are reminded that today is Emoji Day (see previously) with the original character set as designed by Shigetaka Kurita in 1999.

Thursday, 15 July 2021

elder fuรพark visiting the impressive cloister ruins of Avestra, we doubled back before continuing through ร–stergรถtland to the village of Rรถk Whose parish church hosts the famous runestone (Rรถkstenen, Rundata inscription number 136), the five tonne megalith considered the first written document of Sweden and thus the starting point of recorded history was rediscovered in the nineteenth century as part of the medieval church’s wall. Removing it for study and conservation—revived interest in such artefacts coinciding the 1865 deciphering of the runic alphabet by Norwegian academics retrieving a lexicon lost to the ages, at around seven hundred characters, the inscription represents the longest extant pre-Christian passage and contains a bit of Norde mythology and a reference to the Roman emperor of the latter day rump state—dating the writing to the ninth century. Most scholars agree on the translation but many forward competing theories on allegorical interpretation. There was also an informative exhibit on runic writing in an outdoor pavilion and signs reminding that the church was open and welcomed one’s visit as well.

Monday, 28 June 2021

heavy-line geometric abugida

Taught in secretarial schools in the UK widely through the 1970s as a practical stenography tool (see also), the system of note-taking developed by language teacher and vice-president of the Vegetarian Society Sir Isaac Pitman (knighted by Queen Victoria for the former contribution) and the basis for written syllabaries for some Native American and First Nations peoples, we really enjoyed the introduction to namesake shorthand through this narrative from Lit Hub correspondent Richard Sanger to which his father’s long and distinguished in journalism was committed. Finding a home for his archives and notebooks was an undertaking full of surprises and ultimately brought together a cohort of expert translators and transcribers to unabbreviate the field notes and interviews to work together on a massive project, talents renewed—see also—during a winter of lock-down.

Thursday, 17 June 2021

iso 646

Considered one of the early and foundational milestones in electronics engineering and developed as an offshoot of telegraphic encoding (see previously here and here), the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) was first published by the American Standards Association (ASA—presently organised as the American Nation Standards Institute, ANSI) on this day in 1963. Its application in linking networks of machines was formalised and demonstrated by 1969 (see also) and has been since elevated to an internet standard, undergoing multiple revisions from conception through 2017. Initially recognised for its ability to aid in sorting list, character order is called ASCIIbetical and the collating sequence of data puts numbers and punctuation before letters and upper carriage letters before their smaller versions. While ASCII is constrained to a character set of only one hundred twenty eight, it is rolled into the larger and more inclusive, international Unicode standard.

Wednesday, 16 June 2021


what sophistry is this: Mark Liberman discusses the rhetoric of “elevated stupidity” 

truly toastmasters: a virtual toaster museum with fine exhibits from many eras and manufacturers  

water shrews: the BBC Science & Environment desk examines these superb divers of this large group of insectivores called collectively Eulipotyphla, “the truly fat and blind”—via Super Punch 

les citรฉs obscures: revisiting the imaginative utopias of architect Luc Schuiten (previously)  

games for crows: like Where’s Waldo but with emoji—via Waxy red rover: Zhurong Mars explorer sends a selfie  

letragraphia: the sleek, revolutionary graphic design of Felix Beltrรกn

urbane dictionary: a gloss of cancel-culture terminology

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

durgan script

The always engrossing Language Log of the University of Pennsylvania acquaints us with a endangered and diffuse language—spread across Kazakhstan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Mongolia—in the Sinitic (Chinese) family but written with Cyrillic and uniquely not Sinographic characters (see also). The continuum of Gansu, Mandarin and Dungan (Kansu) is mutually intelligible to a large extent. Tones are marked with the glyphs front yer and back yer (ะฌ / ะช) from the Old Church Slavonic (see above and here too) and the current orthography is a compromise dating back to the 1920s when the Soviet Union banned Arabic and Persian-based writing systems, looked on disfavourably from the beginning as merchants along the Silk Road could conduct trade deals in a language that was secret to their neighbours.

Wednesday, 9 June 2021


Via Dark Roasted Blend, we are directed to the extensive archives of the J.R.R. Tolkien Society and their periodic journal—the above titled in reference to the mellyrn trees of Nรบmenor that grow to immense sizes—whose issues include peer-reviewed scholarship, editorial, art work and academic essays on the legendarium of Middle Earth and related topics. Some of the manual typesetting and formatting, illuminated scripts really, of the earlier instalments, like this coda to an argument about the physics of Gimli’s armaments and fighting style with the contributor having developed his own Fรซanorian glyphs to render their by-line, are especially worth a read through.