Saturday, 21 January 2023

the sun is a mass of incandescent gas (10. 486)

Via Weird Universe, we are directed towards a collection of educational songs on the topic of astronomy performed by Dottie Evans and Tom Glazer and written by Hy Zaret (lyricist behind “Unchained Melody”, “The Partisan”) one LP in a series of six, “Singing Science,” meant to expose children to a variety of topics in the late 1950s through catchy little tunes. We especially liked “Constellation Jig” and “Planet Minuet.” Science fiction author Isaac Asimov praises these inspirational songs after his children received them as a gift and of course They Might Be Giants (previously) recorded a cover of the above “Why does the Sun Shine?"

i could be brown, i could be blue, i could be violet sky (10. 485)

The debut song of the Lebanese-British glam graphic designer rock artist born Michael Holbrook Penninman Jr rose to the top of the UK charts on this day in 2007—after an appearance on the talk show Later… with Jools Holland—and holding number one for five weeks would go on to become the third best-selling single for that year, bested by Amy Winehouse. From his autobiographical musical anthology, “Grace Kelly” references MIKA’s influences (“so I tried a little Freddie”) and is the opening track of his first studio album Life in Cartoon Motion and begins with a exchange of dialogue from the Princess of Monaco’s film The Country Girl. The melody is a reference to the aria “Largo al factotum” that Figaro performs in Rossini’s Barber of Seville.

Saturday, 14 January 2023

human be-in (10. 414)

Considered an overture to the city’s Summer of Love, the 1967 counterculture event—the focus of the hippie movement’s rejection of staid, middle-class morality, occurred on this day on the Polo Fields of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, drawing a crowd of some thirty-thousand. In turn inspired by sit-in and teach-in protests to erode vestigial segregationist practises in institutes of higher learning, the gathering took its name from an off-hand remark made by psychedelic artist Michael Brown Bowen the Love Pageant Rally, held the previous October in the Haight-Ashbury district to demonstrate against the outlawing of LSD—where thousands showed up and dropped acid in unison, the above organiser bringing the Grateful Dead, Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters and Janis Joplin to the event. Among invited speakers and performers—also arranged by Bowen—were Ram Dass, Dick Gregory, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti with Timothy Leary making the declaration “Turn on, tune in and drop out” and local bands Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and the Dead, staple acts of the Avalon Ballroom concert. Follow-on events included the Fly-In, Sweep-In, Yip-In, Love-In and John and Yoko Ono Lennon’s Bed-In.

Thursday, 12 January 2023

homeotherm (10. 411)

Declared legally dead on this day in 1967, University of California psychology professor and author of several influential works of occupational counselling, Dr James Hiram Bedford became the first individual whose body underwent cryopreservation. With the expectation of being revived and treated when medical science could cure a presently terminal illness, Evan Cooper’s Life Extension Society offered to treat and store a body in a state of suspended animation free of charge as a promotion to advance their line of research. Dying of kidney cancer that had metastasised and spread to his lungs, Bedford volunteered but not entirely taking up the foundation on its munificence but importantly providing in his will funding for his continued preservation. Though there is some debate on the efficacy of the methodology and whether through various transfers the vital temperature was maintained, a cryogenics lab is still Bedford’s caretaker to the present day.

Sunday, 8 January 2023

ะปัŽะดะธะฝะฐ ะท ะบั–ะฝะพะฐะฟะฐั€ะฐั‚ะพะผ (10. 396)

Released on this day in 1929, the experimental Soviet documentary by Dziga Vertov—with camera work by his brother, the eponymous Mikhail Kaufman and edited by Vertov’s wife Yelizaveta Svilova—and produced by the studio All-Ukrainian Photo Cinema Administration (ะ’ะฃะคะšะฃ/VUFKU), Man with a Movie Camera (Kinoapparartom) portrays contemporary urban life in six parts from dawn to dusk in Kyiv, Odesa and Moscow. With no actors or intertitles (in the silent film), its innovative cinematography and editing, reverse footage, close-ups, tracking shots, jump cuts and split screens were to radical for most critics, it has been since re-evaluated and recognised as one of the most significant works in movie history.

Friday, 6 January 2023

the four freedoms (10. 390)

On this day in 1941, US president Franklin D Roosevelt delivered his State of the Union Address, articulating four fundamental and universal guarantees vouch-saved for all of humanity. Breaking with the long-standing tradition of non-interventionism with foreign wars and nearly a year before the attack of Pearl Harbor and the Philippines, FDR pressed for a greater role in aiding allied forces already under siege through the lens of national security and self-interest.
Enumerating the benefits of the democratic system, the speech highlights the importance of economic security in the face of precarity as a counter-balance to the regression towards nationalism and belligerence.

Saturday, 31 December 2022

implants—those aren’t your memories, they’re someone else’s—they’re tyrell’s niece’s (10. 377)

Courtesy of Super Punch, we learn that the publisher of the 1985 video game for Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum home computing systems loosely based on the 1982 film was unable to obtain a tie-in licensing deal and so declared that it was inspired by the Vangelis soundtrack instead—obliging players to listen to an unskippable opening sequence of two minutes of tinny, MIDI music. Gaming reviews were mostly unfavourable, calling it derivative of the hit adaption of Ghostbusters! from the year before.

Wednesday, 28 December 2022

4-f (10. 367)

Conscription into the in the US military effectively ended on this day in 1972 when Richard Nixon declared a national day of mourning due to the death of President Harry S Truman, shuttering most federal offices and preventing the on-boarding of draftees. The policy lapsed and was not renewed. Still all male citizens and residents between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five are required to register and be subject (deferments and exemptions notwithstanding) to induction into the armed forces.

Wednesday, 21 December 2022

ะฟะพั€ัƒั‡ะธะบ ะบะธะถะต (10. 349)

Premiering on this day in Paris as the composer’s first commission for a film soundtrack, the suite to accompany the eponymous Lieutenant Kijรฉ (a Soviet comedy released in the US as The Czar Wants to Sleep about a non-existent officer under the eighteenth century Emperor Paul I, unpredictable and unpopular, the historical figure assassinated by his own elite guard) by Sergei Prokofiev quickly became his most popular work and became a standard of international concert repertoire. Elements and recognisable leitmotivs of the experimental five-movement have been incorporated into many film scores and popular songs of the Cold War era—particularly “Troika” as among the archetypal Christmassy songs.

Monday, 19 December 2022

reflect upon your present blessings—of which every man has many—not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some (10. 344)

For the 1843 first printing of the novella by Charles Dickens—see previouslyOpen Culture treats us to a accomplished recitation of the work as the author himself would have delivered it, by Neil Gaiman, through studying the hand-edited copy he used for public readings. The Victorian morality tale relates the profound redemption, on Christmas Eve, of a bitter miser with the aid of supernatural intervention. The narration begins at about the eleven minute mark.

Monday, 12 December 2022

brion sanctuary (10. 379)

Via Messy Nessy Chic, final resting place for the commissioning widow, her late husband, founder of an Italian consumer electronics company called Brionvega noted for their futuristic design and the designer himself, Carlo Scarpa—never officially credentialed as an architect as he refused to sit before the state board of examiners—the monumental extension to an adjacent municipal cemetery is considered to be a masterpiece of Modernism. Completed in 1978 after a decade of construction, the chapel and sacrophagi outside of Treviso is a mediation in concrete that evokes the cross-cultural influence of nearby Venice, incorporating Byzantine tiles and mosaics and the signature motif of vesica piscis or mandorla—the lens formed by the intersection of two circles, suggesting in Latin, the bladder of a fish or in the Italian, an almond. Restored last year, it was a filming location of the second part of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune shot over the summer.  More at the links above, including many pre-conservation photos and more projects by Scarpa.

Sunday, 11 December 2022

unfccc (10. 377)

Adopted on this day twenty-five years ago with a nearly eight year period for signatory states to curb greenhouse emissions, the Kyoto Protocol—an extension of the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change, which first acknowledges anthropogenic climate change and sets forth a legally-binding plan to mitigate the seven most damaging industrial and agricultural gases and reduce concentrations down to a level that would no longer interfere with natural, prevailing weather systems. Further recognising that individual parties have different capabilities in the front of combating climate change, the treaty informs a common goal but with graduated responsibilities. The protocol was superseded by the Paris Agreement in 2015 after years of annual renegotiations and richer companies resorting to carbon-offsets (see also) rather than genuine progress.

Tuesday, 6 December 2022

saorstรกt รฉireann (10. 363)

Established on this day in 1922 as a dominion of the British Empire (equivalent to the status of Canada) one year to the day after the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty that ended the war for independence, the Irish Free State comprised twenty-six counties, with the remaining six choosing to opt out of the framework—forming the constituency of Northern Ireland. Described by statesman and revolutionary Michael Collins as affording the “freedom to achieve freedom” with the possibility of an wholly independent republic not entertained within the terms of settlement, Ireland was still accorded more liberties and self-determination in legislation than it had had for the past four centuries. The Free State came to an end in 1937 with a constitutional referendum that drafted a wholly new fundamental law that informs and asserts its present sovereignty as Ireland (ร‰ire) and since 1949 officially as the Republic of Ireland.

Sunday, 4 December 2022

mary celeste (10. 360)

The American-registered brigatine, sailing from New York to Genoa was found (see also) by fellow Nova Scotian vessel Dei Gratia on this day in 1872 in the waters of the Azores, mysterious abandoned and remaining an enduring conundrum. One lifeboat missing but still well-provisioned and sea-worthy—with her cargo of rum untouched—the salvage proceedings held in Gibraltar following recovery entertained a range of possible explanations from mutiny, piracy to giant squid attacks and paranormal interventions but no theory was ever confirmed nor were the missing nine crew members ever found. Following the hearings and under new ownership, the ship was wrecked deliberately in Haiti in an attempt to collect on insurance fraud. Legendary fodder for myths, her fate was sealed with a treatment by Arthur Conan Doyle with a fictitious accounting from reportedly the ship’s surgeon—one statement by J Habakuk Jephson—among many other alleged survivors of this ghost ship.

concilium tridentinum (10. 359)

The final session of the Council of Trent concluding on this day in 1563, the ecumenical session convened by Pope Paul III in response to the spreading Reformation-movement, with decrees issued before the last adjournment (under Julian III) addressing the rather heady topics of the cult of saints, relics, icons and the indulgences that sparked the revolt of Martin Luther in the first place. With the papal bull, Benedictus Deus, the decrees, definitions, dogma and scope of duties—including the Librorum Prohibitorum from a prior round—were ratified by Pius IV the following January.

Thursday, 1 December 2022

week-by-week (10. 350)

Contributing correspondent and consultant Tom Whitwell, in an annual tradition has posted a collection of interesting facts he has gleaned over the past twelve months, highlighting one intriguing idea per week. The entire list is well worth your while to peruse. We've previously encountered item twenty—if you want a question answered on the internet, then post a wrong answer—in the form of Cunningham’s Law and the penultimate Swiss cheese cartel behind fondue but most were wholly new to us. We especially liked the advice on using conversational doorknobs to afford both parties to digress and confess, the fanciful Russian history articles on Chinese Wikipedia that went unnoticed for a decade (see also), inscrutable AIs—one accurately differentiating male from female eyes but none can figure out how—and the proposal for heavenbanning: instead of deplatforming an individual, replace their followers with artificial sycophants, ditto head bots and cutting off that bad actor from human interaction. Which one is your favourite?

Sunday, 27 November 2022

mะฐั…ะฝะพะฒั‰ะธะฝะฐ (10. 340)

Established on this day in 1918 with the capture of Huliaipole, the home town in the region of Zaporizhzhia and later capital city of the stateless, anarchist society that existed under the aegis, protection of the revolutionary forces of Nestor Makhno, Makhnovshchina (Makhno’s Movement) was under the control of free soviet (unaligned with any party and encouraging workers to self-manage through direct democracy) and libertarian communes until the end of August 1921 when leadership was was forced into exile in Romania. Based on the theories of anarcho-communism, the anti-hierarchical network promoted a government based on popular assemblies and committees and a federated alliance within territories outside of the control of Bolsheviks. The banner of the coalition—white Cyrillic text on a black background—reads “Power breeds parasites. Long live the Anarchy!” ะ’ะปะฐัั‚ัŒ ั€ะพะถะดะฐะตั‚ ะฟะฐั€ะฐะทะธั‚ะพะฒ. ะ”ะฐ ะทะดั€ะฐะฒัั‚ะฒัƒะตั‚ ะฐะฝะฐั€ั…ะธั!

Saturday, 26 November 2022

santa claus (10. 337)

First screened in September of 1898, we are directed towards the technical marvel by George Albert Smith considered the first short, silent film about Christmas—with pioneering examples of parallel action and double-exposure—making it one of the most sophisticated examples of filmmaking to date. After two young children are put to bed on Christmas Eve, St Nicholas enters the house through the chimney and start trimming the tree and filling the stockings hung by the fire. After surveying his work, he disappears the same way he came in. The latter innovation already demonstrated, superimposition in cinematography, in two of Smith’s earlier experiments—namely Photographing a Ghost (see also) and The Mesmerist—is a particular segue into the filmmaker’s life and career, chiefly billed as a magic lantern lecturer, hypnotist and psychic ahead of his extensive filmography of short subjects, which Smith turned to after being drummed out of the Society for Psychical Research (see above) over alleged fraud—and possibly contributing to the death of his accuser by overdosing on opium—turning his interest to the nascent movie industry run out of small studios in Brighton and Hove, specialising in special effects and colour processing.

Friday, 25 November 2022

candida navis (10. 333)

Precipitating a succession crisis and a nearly two decades long civil war in England, a period known as the Anarchy, the White Ship (la Blanche-Nef) and its manifest of noble figures sank in the Channel after departing from Barfleur. Among the some three hundred drowned in the overloaded vessel were William Adelin, the sole, legitimate heir of Henry I, his half-siblings Matilda of Perche and Richard of Lincoln, the Earl of Chester, Royal Justice Geoffrey Ridel, with future, fated king Stephen of Blois disembarking due to the boisterous crowd. Taking off in the dark in an effort to overtake the King’s ship which had left earlier, the captain struck a submerged rock called Quillebษถuf and quickly capsized. The disaster left Henry with only one heir that he could pass the throne to, another daughter unoriginally also named Matilda, but her marriage to the Count of Anjou, a traditional enemy of Norman England and the fact she was a woman (none had yet ruled England in their own right) caused the Barons to rebel against these founders of the Plantagenet dynasty and reject Mathilda as queen regnant after Henry’s death in 1135. The only survivor was a butcher from Rouen called Berold, who likely was only on board in an effort to collect on the monies owed to him by the travellers.

Monday, 21 November 2022

turnverein (10. 323)

As a socio-political movement meant to promote German culture, liberal politics as well as physical fitness, the gymnastic club movement, the Turners, was founded in the early nineteenth century by Turnvater Friedrich Ludwig Jahn (see also) as a way to also introduce conversation and action for statehood at a time when the constituent states were under occupation by Napoleon and ultimately suppressed and exported with immigration to the United States in the aftermath of the failed European revolutions of 1848. One of the largest associations, the Cincinnati Turnverein, was founded on this day in the same year—a centenary stamp was issued by the US Postal Service, the members of the Bund fighting for the North (Union) during the American Civil War and acted as bodyguards for Abraham Lincoln and through the turn of the century an important and influential civic organisation. Despite being a wholly domestic institution having little to do with German roots or contemporary geopolitics, Turners’ clubs were regarded with suspicion during the World Wars and active groups dwindled from the thousands to just a few dozen which still host events today.