Tuesday, 18 January 2022

tempus fugit

From our faithful chronicler we are introduced to the Weber-Fechner law, a pair of complementary psychophysical hypotheses that account for the common experience of the accelerated passage of time as we grow older. Named for Ernst Heinrich Weber (Gustav Theodore Fechner described it mathematically), the phenomenon suggests that we perceive ratios and given a sufficiently larger sample size—smaller contrast, we begin to gauge change in logarithmically rather than linearly. More at the link above, including a video presentation by Dr Hanna Fry of The Curious Cases podcast with co-host Dr Adam Rutherford.

Friday, 7 January 2022

web 3.0 is going great and is definitely not an enormous grift that’s pour lighter fluid on our already-smouldering planet

Via Web Curios (definitely lot’s more to check out there), we are introduced to a project by Molly White who curates articles and discussion threads that illustrate the dark side of tech utopian-thinking and how we can’t just code our way to equality and out of an environmental crisis that is exacerbated by Ponzi schemes and chasing that greater fool. There are some choice headlines about corporate malfeasance, lack of disclosure and how riots and disruptions to the internet in Kazakhstan (to quash the coordination of said protests) reveal the extent of bitcoin mining occurring there, subsidised and underwritten by the government’s policy of producing cheap fuel from the dirtiest sources.

7x7

sick sad world: our crypto-bro, cyberpunk dystopia  

brik: aesthetic LEGO typography  

just keep swimming: mobile aquaria allow fish to drive—via the morning news  

molten path: an ancient—though not inaccessible—airburst over the Atacama shed shards of glass across Chile—see also   

thinking of you, i mean me: a Barbara Kruger (previously) retrospective in Chicago on capitalism and its critique

queued-up: Instagram versus reality

a listicle in eight parts: Cory Doctorow expounds on the scam of fintech—via the New Shelton wet/dry

Friday, 31 December 2021

the electrical life of louis wain

Our gratitude to Strange Company for the introduction (well, the association of the artist to his delightful deranged felines rather) in Louis William Wain (*1860 - †1939), whose extensive body of works (one for every topic practically) are well and loving curated in the public domain and is the subject of a recent biopic, portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch. Wain’s first publish sketch in 1886, “A Kittens’ Christmas Party” in the Illustrated London News struck the right notes and proved very popular—along with other anthropomorphic portrayals—in Victorian England and became a quite prolific artist over the next three decades and was a champion of various animal charities and human societies, including one called the Governing Council of Our Dumb Friends League—as they couldn’t speak for themselves. Though the diagnosis remains disputed, the onset of Wain’s apparent schizophrenia which saw him confined to an asylum for the remainder of his life may have been triggered by toxoplasmosis, a parasitical disease that cats can pass to their humans. Some professionals claim to be able to track Wain’s deteriorating mental state through the succession of his paintings (see also here, here and here) though that assertion and its citation in popular psychology remains controversial.  The cat model that inspired his art throughout was called Peter and originally was the pet of his wife who encouraged Wain to get his drawings in print.


Saturday, 18 December 2021

pingxiety

This short about the tug-o’-war between duty to engage with social media demands and responsibilities in the real world that become increasingly suffused with online work and kindred spaces by Hanna Sun called “Blip” does an excellent job of limning that dreadful allure of the screen. Much more at Colossal at the link above.

Thursday, 16 December 2021

it’s not rocket surgery

Via Miss Cellania, a meta-study of cognition in cohorts of doctors specialising in neurology and aerospace engineers suggest that these rarified experts, not to diminish the value and utility of applied learning and experience, only showed respectively a quicker problem solving response time and the ability to mentally map objects from different angles in comparison to the general population. This narrowing expertise that some might accord a higher prestige does not undermine trust in science but rather that other professions might be deserving of similar esteem.

Sunday, 12 December 2021

8x8

an den mond “genuss, lieber mond”: a completist sorts and ranks every composition of Franz Schubert—via the morning news 

chaotic good: mapping the mythological creatures of the Baltic—via ibฤซdem 

the two-thousand year-old man: more appreciation and acclaim for Mel Brooks 

birds aren’t real: a satirical Gen-Z misinformation campaign (see Poe’s Law) turned merchandising opportunity  

location scout: an assortment of movie maps 

parallel path: rubbish corporatespeak that does not avail itself to the level of jargon and technical terms  

combinatorics: base rate fallacies and why false narratives are easy to frame for the ill-numerate  

sexting: “u ๐Ÿ†™” in the style of several male authors

Saturday, 4 December 2021

week-by-week

In what’s become an annual treat, Tom Whitwell again shares fifty-two items he has gleaned from the past year. In the compilation, drawn from experiencing editing projects for Fluxx / Medium, Whitwell’s shared new facts learned include that daily over a million images of coffee grinds are uploaded to a fortune reading app (the process of divination called tasseomancy), advice on how to solicit better answers, the MSG hoax, the truth behind the mystery seeds from China hysteria, and a few we’ve previously covered like how cowpox vaccine was transported around the world, traditional Japanese microseasons, how film was formulated to privilege lighter complexions, and how the threshhold effect applies even to a doorway on screen. Many more astonishing correlations at the links above—do let us know your favourites.

Friday, 26 November 2021

7x7

limerent limerick: help in recognising unhealthy obsessions and how to work one’s way out of intrusive think—hopefully through bawdy rhymes 

there and back again: Gene Deitch’s animated short The Hobbit—the first such adaptation  

roll for perception: a collection of resources, a florilegium from a Society for Creative Anachronism member for the LARP community—via Mx van Hoorn’s cabinet of hypertext curiosities  

avenue of the sphinxes: a restored promenade between Luxor and Karnak opened with fanfare  

opiate for the masses: drug use in Antiquity 

mlhavรฝ: Martin Rak’s fog-draped forests in Saxon-Bohemia—see previously 

here’s mud in your eye: a select glossary of beer and imbibing terminology—via Strange Company’s Weekend Link Dump


 

Thursday, 18 November 2021

the rainbow taboo

Being disabused of believing that one’s own superstitious inheritance is not universal—like the particularly narrow-held thought that opening up an umbrella indoors causes bad luck, is a rare privilege and can prove particularly exciting if it causes one to completely shift one’s perspective and so especially  liked learning of one Westerner’s singular, impressing experience that turned into a project to document the over one hundred cultural traditions that have a proscription of some sort against rainbows—particularly pointing at them. I think we’re well over the idea it symbolises God’s covenant not to destroy the Earth with a flood ever again but the meteorological phenomenon is strangely ellusive and liminal, present and bold in the sky but something that one cannot reach or get closer to, and is regarded with awe and respect and pointing would be a bit rude or familiar. Some dread malady who be visited on the offending finger, though that curse could be placated by sticking one’s finger in one’s navel. We wonder how with its adoption as a symbol of hope during periods of lockdown, rainbows in windows were received by communities who were raised with these prohibitions.

Thursday, 4 November 2021

5-7-5

Via friend of the blog par excellence Nag on the Lake, we are directed towards this interactive periodic table of the elements (previously)whose one-hundred and nineteen members are regaled with pithy,

descriptive haikus whose rules somehow reflect the trends and predictability that the heuristic tool represents. We especially liked how the role of sodium in neurochemistry is celebrated: 

Racing to trigger
every kiss, every kind act
behind ever thought. 

Visit the links above to learn more, peruse more patterned poems—especially for the obscure and fleeting—and learn how one can contribute their own.

Monday, 1 November 2021

woty: vaxx

Though very much a carry-over from the past year’s extraordinary multiplicity of choices to limn an extraordinary year, from fully-vaxxed, anti-vaxxers, to vax cards and vax apps vax passes demonstrates that lexically, our common-parlance still places us firmly in the midst of the moment. The Oxford English Dictionary’s choice by September as the jury was finalising its list of nominees was cited in print fully seventy-two times more frequently than the year prior. Aside from addressing our social and cultural moment, I wonder about the stylistic consensus to double the x in this clipping and can’t decide if it’s apothecary’s shorthand or just slang, the root coined by physician and scientist Edward Jenner to describe cowpox and his method to immunise people from the more severe smallpox through exposure and variolation.

Friday, 29 October 2021

season of the witch

Coincidentally on this day in 1390 the first tribunal within the jurisdiction of the court of Paris was held also saw across the centuries and continents the dissolution of the Court of Oyer and Terminer in 1692—a standing commission (charged to “hear and determine”) with a judge of assize first convened in May of the same year to adjudicate cases in the Salem Witch Trials in colonial Massachusetts, authorities displeased with their conduct and proceedings. During that later five month period, two hundred were accused and nineteen condemned to capital punishment, hanged by the neck until dead. The former, after fourteen months of deliberation and sentencing led to the execution of soothsayer Jeanne de Brigue, whom was allegedly able to summon the demon Haussibut and with his aid find lost objects and catch thieves—which sounds like more of a public service than a crime.

Thursday, 28 October 2021

in the groove

Via Boing Boing, we are referred to the obituary of Csรญkszent-mihรกlyi Mihรกly (*1934, see previously), the psychologist credited for first recognising and describing the concept of flow, a focused and engaged mental state of disciplined equilibrium that pares down distraction without overwhelming that lends itself well to increased productivity. Lying precariously between boredom and anxiety, leaning into this seeming contraction increases the potential for creativity and happiness.

Friday, 22 October 2021

komplementรคrwรคhrungen

Introduced in Erfurt in October 1929, nearly coinciding with the US stock market crash Black Friday that set off the Great Depression world-wide, the alternative currency known as Wรคra, invented by Hans Time and Helmut Rรถdiger its name derived from the words Wรคhrung (money) and wรคhren (lasting, stable), was freely exchangeable with the Reichsmark at parity.

As legal tender and a store of wealth, however, each banknote carried a monthly penalty (demurrage, the carrying cost) of one percent its face value which could be offset with stamps and had a expiry date so people and businesses were motivated to spend and not hoard their liquid assets, thereby countering inflation. Gradually other businesses and workers began to accept Wรคra and there was even a coal mining operation fully financed with loans, salaries and discounted consumer sales in the alternative currency. Marked improvement in the region’s economy attracted the attention of the finance ministry, which after deliberation ordered the experiment to be suspended, fearing this parallel form of payment would ultimately undermine rebuilding Germany’s industrial sector, which by that time in 1931 had spread to a network of fourteen cities and were accepted in several national banks and stores.

Friday, 15 October 2021

8x8

day-walker: monster lore invented by Hollywood—via Miss Cellania’s links 

tastes like pencil-shavings and heartbreak: niche Chicago liquor Jeppson’s Malรถrt  

vermithrax pejorative: dress up as Galen (Peter McNicol) from Dragonslayer plus other obscure, vintage costumes—via Super Punch  

modelleisenbahn: real-time model railroading with Hamburg’s transit system—via Maps Mania 

hedge rider: an etymological celebration of wizards, witches, warlocks and more 

๐Ÿ•‰: chanting, harmonised breathing and parasyphonic sounds  

mundane outfits: revisiting a tradition of dressing as highly specific yet relatable, everyday, social faux pas—an unfancy dress ball held in Japan and Taiwan 

the calls are coming from inside the building: a lampoon of the haunted house film trope

Friday, 8 October 2021

boustrophedon

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.

Thursday, 7 October 2021

stalkie talkie

Via Things Magazine, we are presented with this quite dystopian and invasive catalogue of playthings with the hallmark of being highly addictive by design following the form of manipulation. Age-inappropriate, there’s data-hungry aggregate Pocket Troll, Fishing for Likes and a grab-bag of Mystery Friends to be foisted on all and sundry, aged nine to ninety-nine.

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

herd immunity

Via friends of the blog, Everlasting Blรถrt and Nag on the Lake

Saturday, 11 September 2021

the dead internet theory

On this anniversary which has propounded two Forever Wars (one of which capitalised on the 9/11 terror attacks to as a pretext to invade Iraq with the media mostly obliging, a misdirection that prised open for some a credibility chasm), the panopticon of the surveillance state, xenophobia, sectarianism, intolerance, violence, bloodshed all at a very dear price with the most treacherous legacy perhaps being the exportable cult of conspiracy theorists that first emerged as Truthers, then morphed into Birthers, Pizzagate, QAnon and whatever atrocity is next in the line of succession, we are presented a new one positing that the world wide web, acknowledging that the majority of traffic is bot driven, did die the death approximately five years ago and what remains is not all an elaborate hoax but rather a platform almost entirely dominated by artificial intelligence. Weighted interaction, with human engagement or robotic attention-seeking seems to matter little ultimately in a world of detached rankings and recursive references, but what if since 2016, the web and its various walled-gardens was depopulated and replaced with neural network propagandists, influencers and marketers? It’s patently ridiculous and like most “independent research” lurches to the territory of unhinged and offensive but the veiled unreality of it all makes it intriguing and a challenge to disprove, and with no prevailing mainstream narrative to counter the arc of conservation, evidence, it is garnering traction. There’s more than a kernel of truth to the manipulative, unrestrained and inhumanly automated nature of social media and shadow profiles created to supplement the personalities of those who don’t participate sufficiently. Not that the metaverse was ever particularly welcoming, it certainly seems uninviting if made by and for people-pleasing machines.