Thursday, 21 March 2019

breitling orbiter

After launching three weeks earlier from Chateau-d’ล’x in the canton of Vaud, psychiatrist and avid balloonist Bertrand Piccard—hailing from a long-line of adventurers, along with co-captain Brian Jones, became the first team on this day in 1999 to successfully circumnavigate the globe in a hot-air balloon. With the help of a ground-crew of meteorologists, they accomplished this feat by negotiating atmospheric currents and jet-streams and had no means of forward propulsion other than being borne aloft by the winds.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

spoiler alert

The confluence of existential angst of y2k, this generation’s coming of age and the resonance of nostalgia plus the profusion of DVDs and the reinvention of home cinema and continued sales opportunities after the box office run made 1999 a particular banner year for film, with titles including Magnolia from Paul Thomas Anderson, M Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense, the Spike Jonze and Charley Kaufman collaboration Being John Malkovich, The Matrix, American Beauty, Fight Club, Notting Hill and Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace. We’ve left out a lot of the great and good that might be visited individually over the course of the year. What do you think? The releases of twenty years ago are certainly luminaries and inform and to a large extent populate our present cinematic universe but we are not certain whether the collection of anti-heroes, indulgences and failed heroes are exactly pivotal and have outsized cultural influence.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

these kids today with their y2k

For those who have become accustomed to using the turn of the century or fin de siรจcle as a way to reckon future and past dates I’m sure have already come to wrestle with the sobering fact that the Year 2000 Computer Bug will attain the age of majority soon and that 1970 is not thirty years in the past but more like nearly five decades and hardly futuristic.
We nonetheless appreciated this collection of popular culture call-backs that the times inspired—from novelty songs, sitcom staples, class-action suits and survival guides for the technological apocalypse soon to visit humanity. Ultimately, there was no ensuing disaster and tigers did not rain from the heavens (no matter how we might try to frighten ourselves) and while I know that there’s little commonality about this non-event and the esteem for which we have for other, real impending disasters which may not be repaired with a simple patch are nonetheless within our power to prevent and part of me wonders if that boy-who-cried-wolf, survivor-mentality does not somehow resign some to leave everything to invisible hand, trickle-down providence. What do you remember about those last tense moments but forcing oneself to abandon and partying like it was 1999? What media digest do you remember prophesying the worst?  I suppose the y2k worries and shared memories will perhaps even more so than the prevalence of connectivity and virtual personae be the shibboleth that separates one generation from the next. 

Monday, 17 July 2017

aye, aye captain!

Speaking of Bikini Bottoms (which makes one wonder if there’s not some sinister message behind the world crafted by a marine biologist turned animator), our faithful chronicler, Doctor Caligari, points out that today among many other things in 1999 (not counting the pilot that first aired in May of that year), the Nickelodeon network premiered SpongeBob SquarePants as a regularly scheduled programme. Whatever opinion one has formed for the show, its longevity, I’d venture, does demand some respect.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

7x7

bowie.net: prescient 1999 BBC News Night interview with David Bowie regarding the emergent world wide web

urban league: a primer on why cities grew where they did

track 61: an intrepid team of urban spelunkers explore FDR’s custom train car underneath Grand Central Station, via the always marvellous Nag on the Lake

hic sunt leones: the Phantom Atlas chronicles how we filled in the gaps of our geographic knowledge with centuries of fictitious locations

time and tide: beach installation of mirrored poles captures the reflected sunrise and sunset

shyriiwook: woman goes into labour wearing a Chewbacca mask

curds and whey: a dairy factory in the western Turkish province of Afyonkarahisar boasts a circular viewing gallery around its central courtyard that offers visitors a demonstration of cheese-making

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

choosy moms choose jif

On the fifth of November, 1999 an auto-de-fรฉ was proclaimed in order to rid the emerging on-line environment of an image file format (.gif) that most considered to be clunky and unsuited for facilitating the quick transfer of information.
First invented in 1987, this lossless (uncompromised, except for richness of colour) yet compressible image extension was the industry standard yet showed no potential that it would ever be the rendering for anything but static pictures and was being pressed aside by one lobby or another—even the idea of a “GIF tax” was being proposed to banish the Graphic Interchange Format, the bailiwick of Compuserve and Netscape. The cinemagraph, the parlour-trick that’s best suited for what we think of as GIFs nowadays in conjunction with browser protocols and later the looping video clip, was not perfected until 2011 but would have probably never materialised unless it had been allowed to incubate, maybe selfishly, during the intervening decades. Read all about the history and development of the GIF and get a primer on how image compression algorithms work in Popular Mechanics article at the link up top.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

it came from the cineplex or darth by darthwest

The summer blockbusters are championed by a duo of my favourite bloggers, Bob Canada and Dr. Caligari, we are treated to a comprehensive preview of the 2016 box-office, which is predictably franchised, derivative and cannibalistic. I too wish I had invested in the punctuation mark known as the colon for all the subtitles. By the miracle of assiduous chronicling, however, the fact that there is nothing new under the sun is revealed by marking that on this day in 1999, the Star Wars saga (among other events) released its first prequel. Some clever individual, we also find, is bucking the tread with a brilliant mingling of Hitchcock and Lucas