Sunday, 15 January 2023

shaken, not stirred (10. 417)

Here’s a selection of signature martinis to fit every mood and every palette of this spirit animal constructed on the template of gin—or vodka—and vermouth plus a bit of garnish. Namesake of the special drink of patrons of the Occidental Hotel of San Francisco would be offered before embarking on the ferry to Martinez in Contra Costa, the cocktail has undertaken, with the famous variant occurring in a dialogue the spy has with a barman in Casino Royale, changing his order from a dry martini to a special recipe of his own invention. “Just a moment: three measures of Gordon’s [gin], one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet; shake it very well until its ice cold, then add a large, thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?” Bond adds, “I’m going to patent it when I think of a good name.” Later, he names it in honour of MI6 coworker and double-agent Vesper Lynd. Though perhaps with a bit less of provenance and backstory, we did nonetheless like the inverted variations of the Astoria and Lifetime Ban and elegant Martini Sauvage—gin with chinato liqueur and orange bitters, mixed and chilled overnight.

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

Wednesday, 4 January 2023

and now for something completely different (10. 387)

Via Kottke, we are given over to ruminate on all the ways we can rush through reading, research and watching and optimising our time—our output and personal curation left in the able and dull-dealing hands of automation and outsourcing—and compelled to beg the natural and consequent question to what end. I have no pretensions about what others might call a good work ethics is just my motivation to be done with the tedious bits and to get to sneak away a little time for something that’s more interesting—and often not related to work and would entertain a degree of algorithmic enhancement if that might help me get swifter and better. While career wise, I wouldn’t exactly mind being made—regardless the inevitability and having little choice in the matter, this drive to get on to the next, equally loathsome chore is resonant and suggests being in the wrong business, addled and attended fairytales of endless growth and unbound productivity. See more from Alan Jacobs at his blog The Homebound Symphony at the link above.

down the garden path (10. 386)

Via Waxy, we invited to contemplate the awful prospect of a Web, already increasingly made for the interactions of bots and automation, totally overrun with generative artificial intelligence creating catchpenny content that estranges the human user further by expanding the Dark Forest of the Internet—a hypothesis borrowed from cosmology as one way to account for Fermi’s Paradox by positing that alien civilisations are silent and paranoid, reasoning that any other equally or more advanced life out there would pose an existential threat, that relegates us to our private, insulated spaces that echo and reinforce our points of view and preclude new discoveries. Seemingly more life-like, spaces become life-less with algorithms serving us exactly what we want and optimising visibility and virality with actual humans wise to avoid public-facing ventures lest they be ambushed by predictably pedestrian engagement and relentless marketing that we’ve let encroach on us in a complacence—which in all fairness only took a few months from funny and precocious to mealy, dull and wholly convincing.

Thursday, 29 December 2022

7x7 (10. 368)

press pool: NPR station photographers swap memorable images from 2022    

opus cรฆmenticium: make concrete the Roman way—see also    

pre-bunking: intelligence agencies should engage in more public outreach to fight disinformation    

mallory gallery: top exhibitions of the year    

golden eye: reindeer retinas change colours with the seasons—via Nag on the Lake   

fido: dogs with human names—via Waxy     

mmxxii: year in review—news and journalists

Monday, 26 December 2022

the duchess and the dirt water fox are calling (10. 362)

Originally telecast on this day in 1992 with the MST3K treatment—having previously attained somewhat of a cult following by its inclusion in Elvira’s Movie Macabre in 1984, the 1965 scif-fi movie from the Woolner Brothers (also with the credits Hercules Unchained, Hercules and the Captive Women, Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman and Hillbillies in a Haunted House) follows the plot of a mysterious agent, Dr Kolos, of the Intergalactic Council tasked with replacing prominent human scientists with android doppelgรคngers in order to take over the Earth. The alien plan is foiled by intervention from the US National Intelligence Service.

Saturday, 19 November 2022

rose island (10. 316)

Via ibฤซdem, we are directed towards a companion website to complement a documentary which affords us a chance to revisit the Respubliko de la Insulo de la Rozoj, a short-lived micronation just outside of Italian territorial waters off the coast of Rimini, an artificial pylon engineered by the soi sont president Giorgio Rosa, a property developer with ties to the puppet government of the World War II Republic of Salรฒ with hopes of establishing a self-funding enterprise through an independent regime of taxation, philately and sovereign citizenship. Much more to explore at the links above.

Thursday, 13 October 2022

§§ (10. 219)

The oldest formal data protection law in the world, the State of Hessen promulgated its Data Protection Act (das Datenschutzgesetz) on this day in 1970. A model for privacy legislation to follow, it was authored chiefly by Spiros Simitis, inspired by a visionary article in the Frankfurter Allegemeinen Zeitung (FAZ) warning of the potential pitfalls of widespread computer use and when the law was adopted by the Landtag to great zeal, it was declared that omniscient, panopticon of survellience would not be able to gain purchase here, setting up an independent institution to monitor against Orwellian practises. Though lacking a robust regulatory framework by today’s standards, evolution and articulation of the law enshrined for us in iterations the concepts of retention and disposition schedules, data earmarking and anonymization as well as informed consent and the right of information self-determination.

Sunday, 18 September 2022

the followers (10. 147)

Via the morning news, we discover that artist Dries Depoorter has triangulated the open surveillance of public spaces and a respectable social media viewership with the help of artificial intelligence to match poses in front of a range of landmarks with their sidling up to it and perfecting their casual-seeming pose. Confounding this perfectly staged moment with the apparent necessity of monitoring share-worthy sites speaks volumes to our definition and expectation of privacy tempered by desire for curation and what it is like to be spotted, caught.

Monday, 12 September 2022

ccc (10. 126)

Founded on this day in the offices of the West Berlin newspaper Die Tageszeigtung (TAZ) by journalist and information security advocate Wau Holland in 1981, Chaos Computer Club is Europe’s largest association of white-hat hackers was established with the mandate to champion freedom of information worldwide, transparency in government and business practices and universal access to digital information. Through its hacktivism and penetration-testing, it has exposed several weaknesses and structural shortcomings that undermine privacy and user rights and it often deferred to as an expert witness for German and EU legislation and court filings, informing policy and openly criticizing decisions that fail to redress concerns for public-welfare. Their activities rose to prominence first in 1984 when exposing the security flaws of teletext (Bildschirmtext, see also here and here), arranging a large transfer of funds from a bank to the club’s account. More recently, they demonstrated that inherent insecurity of biometrics by obtaining and publishing the fingerprints of the Interior Minister (lifted off of a water glass) in 2008. The group hosts the annual Chaos Communication Congress, originally hosted in Hamburg but since 2017 at the Leipzig Trade Fair Grounds (Leipzigermesse) in addition to retreats, camps and workshops to supplement its media outreach. The pictured flag (Pesthรถrnchen, Datenpirat—a variant on the federal postal service logo, indicting their careless custody of customer data) is from a local chapter.

Friday, 2 September 2022

7x7 (10. 106)

homesteading: a survey of the extraterrestrial real estate market 

music to moog by: a DIY Theramin from Linus ร…kesson—see previously  

enhanced pat-down: twenty years of Homeland Security and America’s penchant for security theatre  

battleship island: an exploration of the now deserted speck of land that fuelled Japan’s industrial revolution, most the most densely populated place on Earth

sampo: more on the epic MacGuffin from Finnish lore—see also  

posture pals: exercises to combat computer slouch  

extremely well-planned void: a Greek Revival property in Denton County, Texas—see previously

Wednesday, 31 August 2022

gorbymania (10. 101)

We’ve been familiar with Mikhail Gorbachev’s extended second career after the imminent statesman withdrew from political life—at least in an official capacity—and recall the Pizza Hut advertisement from years ago. This selection of international cameos, however, included one role—that of brand ambassador for a luxury goods maker, expertly photographed by Anne Leibovitz. Gorbachev is seated in the rear of a sedan, driving parallel to the remnants of the Berlin Wall that he helped to dismantle (the campaign reflective of one of his more quotable sayings) and pictured with the classic brown bag—which we weren’t familiar with. Though beautifully framed, the 2007 ad seems rather innocuous until upon close inspection, on top of the bag is a magazine with the headline: Litvineko’s Murder—They Wanted to Surrender Suspect for $7000. Alexander Litvineko was the former KGB spy and defector who was poisoned by polonium and died the year before, publicly accusing Vladimir Putin as the responsible party. Now with Gorbachev’s passing, questions linger whether or not he himself was privy to this subversive subtext.

Sunday, 28 August 2022

the tango briefing (10. 093)

The franchise created in the mid-60s and concluding in the mid-90s the Quillerverse stars the eponymous, pseudonymous protagonist created by novelist Elleston Trevor and was introduced to us in the form of a short-lived BBC television series with Michael Jayston, Moray Watson and Sinรฉad Cusack that first aired a decade later, following the success of the cinematic adaptation of the first novel, The Quiller Memorandum (under its American title) with screenplay by Harold Pinter and the acting talents of Max von Sydow, Alec Guiness and George Segal as Quiller. All iterations, the books, film and TV (all thirteen episodes below), are set during the Cold War and feature the mostly independent spy-master who works for a secret organisation known only as the “the Bureau.”

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

6x6

not to put words in your mouth: Google’s collaborative incubator discreetly withdraws from deepfake research—via Slashdot  

mermay: a month-long (didn’t get the memo but for next year) sketching challenge to draw merfolk with daily prompts    

bubasteion: necropolis sacred to Ancient Egyptian feline goddess yielded a trove of two-hundred and fifty perfectly preserved sarcophagi  

now listen to my heart—it says ukrainia: the Scorpions update their lyrics to Winds of Change to stop romancising Russia 

joueur-animateur en direct: French ministry of culture reforms guidelines on gaming jargon to combat anglicisation—see previously  

monk tone scale: Google adopts a better classification system for skin pigment to combat baked-in biases (see previously) for its algorithms and artificial intelligence

Friday, 27 May 2022

8x8

city in a bottle: a bit of micro-coding from Frank Force (previously) decoded—via Waxy    

kr: the Icelandic Graphic Design Association (FรT, Fรฉlag รญslenskra teiknara) issues a challenge to come up with a glyph for their krรณna  

nรฉcessaire: a French borrowing—see also—for kit and carry  

enough: TIME magazine’s cover lists the two-hundred thirteen US cities that have had mass-shootings this year, so far  

social sentinel: a look at the dubious pre-crime predictive software that ill-serves society and the reliance on tech to come to the rescue in general  

party line: last bank of public phones removed from New York City—see also here, here, here and here  

swiss miss: Tina Roth Eisenberg celebrates her seventeenth blogoversary tesserae: MIT Lab develops autonomous modular tiles to create structures and habitats in space

Wednesday, 20 April 2022

foia foil

Via Waxy, we are directed to a deviously difficult daily challenge in the Wordle vein to puzzle out a randomly, heavily reacted Wikipedia article—a skill to hone that could prove useful when confronted with sanitised, sensitive documentation, censored or anonymised for public consumption.

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

be the first to like this post

Some anonymous though obviously astute researcher left this decal on a lamp post a few weeks back coinciding with the return of testing stations which were prematurely removed in hopes that the unavailability of free screenings would encourage individuals to get their booster shots only to quickly learn and recover that one does not winnow down the arsenal in one’s quiver when facing a global pandemic. Medical authorities confer and confirm vaccination status with a QR-Code and a national app, though this has expanded, splintered into a suite of application and new codes to scan unique for every affiliate station. Feeling a bit under the weather with the arrival of Spring and the too-quick change in temperature, I wanted to be responsible and rule out a case of COVID and so availed myself of said near-by mobile PCR centre. I was relieved to learn that the results were negative and was given a mask (oh no) for my troubles, noticing the label on the packaging later on…

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.

Saturday, 2 April 2022

concordance

We thoroughly enjoyed being formally introduced to rogue archivist and general force-multiplier Carl Malamud and his organisation public.resource that champions liberating information that otherwise eligible for the public domain but has been notoriously garden-walled by special-interests groups, profession associations and copyright trolls (see previously here and here) like instruction manuals under right-to-repair legislation, the codices of different jurisdictions that would rather not the full text of their laws subject to public scrutiny and safety codes and standards hidden behind paywalls, a high hurdle for entry and to continue municipalities’ practice of “incorporation by reference.” Much more at the links above.

Saturday, 12 March 2022

world day against cyber censorship

Observed as an occasion to rally against internet censorship and advocate for unfettered access to free and unrestricted expression since 2008 (on the 1989 anniversary of Sir Tim Berners-Lee submitting his proposal for a information management system for CERN which would eventually become the world wide web) by and incorporating the annually updated Enemies of the Internet roster from Reports without Borders (Reporters sans frontiรจres, RSF) that calls out countries for suppressing freedom of the press.