Thursday, 26 January 2023

6x6 (10. 498)

trattoria: the invention of Fettuccine Alfredo—a labour of love  

masstransiscope: a zoetrope to be enjoyed at speed by NYC subway passengers—see also  

chucoํ—sol: the need for new weather words to reflect living through the climate catastrophe  

break five: a comprehensive guide to celebrating the Lunar New Year on mainland China—via tmn  

boogaloo in apartment 41: the musical stylings of Ozzie Torrens and his Exciting Orchestra  

melts in your mouth: M&Ms spokescandies finally forced into retreat by conservative pundits

Sunday, 15 January 2023

st john’s wood (10. 419)

Once (and yet) regarded as an assault against navigation devices and by turns an assault against proper punctuation and orthography (see also here and here), we appreciated learning about the selective preservation afforded to a number of thoroughfares, parks and venues (with a short biography) of London via our trusted flรขneur. Making note of the non-possessive exceptions that make the rule—as opposed the exclamatory figure of speech used in stagecraft to break off from the audience, “O happy dagger!,” we’re also introduced to a colourful term ‘anorak level tube apostrophe history’ to describe and prescribe the changing style to sibilant endings. Anorak, chiefly a Britishism, incidentally refers to an enthusiast dedicated to the point of obsession with a very niche subject—first to describe fans of pirate radio who would charter crafts to go out to visit the boats, whom like trainspotters, were often unfashionably but appropriately attired in parkas.

Friday, 6 January 2023

9x9 (10. 389)

varvuole: resides of Grado collect at Porto Mandracchio to watch the battle against the sea witches—see also—every Epiphany via Miss Cellania  

jet-set: the heyday of air travel and the factors that led to its downfall and disgrace  

missing link: the curious case of the Nebraska Man—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links 

the doors of mcmurdo: the barriers, corridors and dividers of the Antarctic research station—see previously—via Kottke  

foulbrood disease: a vaccine developed to prevent the spread of infections for honeybee hives  

serial fabricator: the life and lies of New York Congressman-elect George Santos

piltdown man: one of anthropology’s greatest and enduring hoaxes

the settle-carlisle line: scenic railway route built out of spite  

lately he’s been overheard in mayfair: a disco impression of An American Werewolf in London, considered for inclusion on the film soundtrack, by Meco—see previously

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, 19 December 2022

7x7 (10. 345)

munro: better known for his violent Tom & Jerry shorts, Gene Deitch (previously—not the best counter-example) an acclaimed, award-winning animator 

thirty by thirty: environmentalists and delegates reach a landmark agreement to conserve nature and protect the rights of indigenous peoples 

incite a riot: January Sixth committee recommends a range of charges to be levied against Trump  

santaland: department store Christmas monorails—via the Everlasting Blรถrt 

scootch over: on the quarter-century anniversary of the premier of Titanic, director James Cameron wants to put to rest a roiling debate  

a slice of the cosmos: an interactive map of the observable Universe from Johns Hopkins University  

lichtspiel opus i: the Avant-Garde animation of Walter Ruttmann

Saturday, 15 October 2022

the levelled churchyard (10. 227)

Strange Company’s invaluable Weekend Link Dump invites us to pass an hour in the cemetery of Old St Pancras—not only famed for its connection to the literary circles of Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens and Mary Wollstonecraft as well as the iconic telephone box via the tomb of Sir John Soane but moreover attracting visitors to what has been deemed the Hardy Tree, after the former junior architect turned novelist involvement with the expansion of the train network (see also). The building of the Midland Railway necessitated the removal of many graves, a number of the headstones of them were rummaged in the roots of this tree, inspiring the author later to reflect in the titular poem, “We late-lamented, resting here,/Are mixed to human jam,/And each to each exclaims in fear,/‘I know not which I am!’” Much more to explore at the links above.

Friday, 14 October 2022

whistle-stop tour (10. 222)

On this day in 1872, a century and a half ago, the first rail-route—between Shinbashi and Yokohama—went into service, and to mark this occasion and everything that trains represent in terms of very freighted culture and technology the Tokyo Station Gallery has collected and curated artwork and ephemera from around Japan from your consideration.

Sunday, 9 October 2022

7x7 (10. 206)

soundscape: calls for submissions for Wikipedia’s sonic logo  

parametric design: letting AI run wild to reimagine the future of architecture  

cactus buddy and friends: adult Happy Meals are causing chaos, workers beg customers to stop 

solidarity: Marge Simpson cutting her iconic hair graffitied on the Iranian Consulate in Milano  

shinkansen: a classic 99% Invisible explores how three very different bird species informed the bullet train’s redesign 

kill the wabbit: try to name these escapingly familiar works of classical music—see also  

obituaries: the swiftness of Wikipedia’s deaditors is astounding

Wednesday, 5 October 2022

transitland (10. 197)

Via the always excellent Maps Mania, we are treated to an interactive application that not only maps the coverage of the globe’s mass transit systems but can also chart one’s public transport journey in an unfamiliar area. The site gleans data from twenty-five hundred carriers in fifty-five countries from public GTFS data, originally Google Transit Feed Specification—a company maps experiment that sought to give alternative means of getting from point A to point B forgoing one’s car, and now a standard available to operator called General, so coverage may appear spottier in large swaths of the world than it actually is.

Wednesday, 7 September 2022

fahrkarte (10. 115)

Though happy to pay full fare and subsidise public transportation, I do miss the 9-Euro bus and regional train scheme offered during the past three months to help offset high fuel prices and inflation besetting Germany chiefly for the simplicity and making local travel a bit easier to navigate, explore and reducing congestion and do hope that it comes back in some form. It was a really inopportune ending, coinciding with the start of the school year and a drastic reduction of services in Wiesbaden, going on the Saturday schedule for some routes. A group of activist is campaigning for its return by establishing a fund to cover the fines (60 € or more) for those members fined for riding without a ticket—and encouraging members to display a tag for potential fare collectors or inspector that they are intentionally riding without a valid ticket, so as to avoid the more serious charge of defrauding the transport-providers and only incur the lesser fine for “Schwarzfahrer”—fare-dodging. While an organisation is free to offer amnesty for its members and champion the return of a cheap, flat-rate, their actions could also be legally construed as public incitement to commit a crime—through ticket evasion.

Monday, 15 August 2022

ferragosto (10. 062)

Originating from the Roman holiday Feriae Augusti instigated by Caesar Augustus, Octavian, to reward

agricultural workers (inclusive of beasts of burden) after a long, hot summer of toil at the head of the month and to commemorate his victory over Mark Antony in the Battle of Actium, the Church later shifted the festivity to coincide with the Feast of the Assumption. Observed also by the residents of San Marino, the canton of Ticino and for political reasons the Vatican rather than the day of holy obligation, the holiday became associated with an extended vacation weekend during the fascist era when Mussolini directed the National Afterwork Club (Opera Nazionale Dopolavoro—see also) to arrange hospitality and the “People’s Trains of Ferragosto” (nothing to do with ferrocarril) at heavily discounted prices that allowed working class families to visit the mountains or the seaside. This tradition continues commercially, the date signaling the start of the holiday season in Italy and businesses shutter operations for the next couple of weeks. Chiuso per ferie.

Saturday, 30 July 2022

7x7 (10. 025)

spectacular vernacular: 99% Invisible celebrates milestone episodes with an exploration of vintage architectural styles, via Pasa Bon!  

conlang: fluency in Esperanto—see previously  

122 CE: a colourful gate house installed at Hadrian’s Wall 

the electric lucifer: the musical stylings of Bruce Haack 

civic duty: a resonant “I Voted” sticker for Ulster County, New York

isochrone: an interactive map illustrates how far one can travel from any European train station in under five hours 

la maison sculptรฉe: Jacques Lucas’ hand-sculpted home in Rennes

Saturday, 16 July 2022

7x7 (9. 999)

featherbase: a consortium of ornithologists join their collections and make them freely accessible on-line—via Web Curios 

cut-up technique: Artbreeder (previously) creates collages with your help—via Waxy 

harry and the hitman: Oklahoma man pleads self-defence, claiming potential assailant had summoned a Bigfoot to kill him  

deep scatter library: stellar cartography mapping a billion stars in the Milky Way  

culmen > columna > compagna colonnella > coronnel > colonel: explore etymologies with this interactive tool from the creators of Interlinear Books and Language Hat  

unsleeved: an exhibit on the art of the record cover and designer Alex Steinweiss 

trainspotting: an obsessive database of European rolling stock—also via Web Curios

Friday, 8 July 2022

dual process theory

Via Waxy, we are directed to Neal Agarwal’s latest exercise (see previously) in a series of increasingly preposterous trolley problems and the ethical dilemmas that arise from these situations where intervention is possible. Illustrative of the problems we have with inscrutable algorithms and the opaque artificial intelligence that’s supposed to be able to evaluate such decisions, not only do you get to make the moral call, you can also see how your answers stack up to three-quarters of a million other respondents.

Saturday, 28 May 2022

8x8

scotch tapes: commercials, idents and continuity from British television from 1984 salavaged from VHS casettes  

boldly go!: a medley of songs from and about the Star Trek franchise—see also  

apiculture: a survey of bee hives throughout the ages  

latex: Goodyear and the US Department of Defence are partnering to manufacture tyres from dandelions—see previously  

kleksographien: revisiting the blotograms (previously) of Justinus Kerner plus other inspired symmetries  

red wine and ginger ale: Vulture correspondent Rebecca Alter samples all the food combinations referenced in Harry’s House  

diagrammatic map: another look at how Massimo Vignelli presented mass transit to the masses—see previously here and here—via Things magazine  

the fantastic journey: an obscure 1977 time-travel series starring Joan Collins and John Saxon

Sunday, 22 May 2022

hail to the bus driver

Our gratitude to Super Punch for not just informing us of the annual European Tramdriver Championships held in host city Leipzig (see previously, which we just missed this time around but there’s always next year) but also is a very serious competition with teams and fans of mass-transit from all over the continent coming together. Check out the links above for more on this extreme motor-sport for everyone, whose trials include best breaking-speed and accuracy, obstacle courses and various other traffic, shared-lane gauntlets.

Thursday, 12 May 2022

whistle-stop tour

Also available in audio form, 99% Invisible presents a thorough-going appreciation of locomotives, ranging from how the dining car gave us the curious dimensions of the diner and a Scott Joplin rag-time composition on the intentional ramming together of two engines and the temporary city that sprung up to watch this train-wreck to theory and praxis of Japanese railways.

Saturday, 23 April 2022

chunnel

Though later inaugurated by the respective heads of state over a century later, on this day in 1867 Queen Victoria and Napoleon III jointly reject a proposal from surveyors and engineers Aimรฉ Thomรฉ de Gamond and Henry Marc Brunel for a mined railway tunnel from Dover to Calais, an idea that was revisited several times before its eventual completion.

Sunday, 10 April 2022

facial recognition

Via Super Punch, we learn that one unique gashapon in Tokyo’s busy Shinjuku station is proving quite popular with commuters for vending capsules with the ID photos of strangers (though ostensibly fellow passengers) over the chance to connect on whatever social level with the crowd, unmasked. Those behind the concept are poised to launch the next series with people submitting their pictures to be added to the anonymous mix.

Sunday, 27 March 2022

rolling stock

Retelling the story of the “Little Engine that Could” with love-interest and with due inspirational credit given to Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends, the Andrew Lloyd Weber and Richard Stilgoe musical spectacle with all principals and dancers portraying locomotives on roller skates had its debut on the West End in the Apollo Victoria Theatre. Following a year-long run on Broadway, the show came to the industrial city of Bochum in 1988, and hosted in a custom-built theatre (designed like a skating rink) has become the most attended musical in Germany, still running and seen by over seventeen million. Much more, including the original cast recording of the musical numbers and various performance highlights at the link above.