Thursday, 20 May 2021

constrictula rugosa

From the cabinet of hypertext curiosities of the illustrious Mx van Hoorn, we find ourselves immersed in study and classification of the great taxia of the diverse and ubiquitous synthetic phylum Plasticรฆ with the annals of the Holotypic Occlupanid Research Group. The pictured subspecies of the family Haplognathidรฆ (‘half jaw’) with the characteristic single, squared-off dental process with a high degree of internal variation may be happily endangered in their native habitats but we will be dealing with their fossils for the foreseeable future.

brood x

For the emergence of the seventeen-year cicadas in North America—what was going on in the early summer of 2004, we are treated, via Messy Nessy Chic to this graphic depicting the stages of conventionalisation, deconstruction of the periodic insects (Magicicada septendecula and two other closely related species, tribes, see previously) as illustrated by Hugo Froelich (the periodical being from Syracuse, New York and the contributor not the classical German actor) in 1905 (that year being an emergent one for Brood XXX on a thirteen-year cycle as assigned by entomologist Charles Lester Marlatt at those geographical climes) for Keramic Studio Magazine

Friday, 14 May 2021

fig leaf

Writing for ร†on magazine prehistorian Ian Gilligan from the University of Sydney proffers an interesting alternative theory to the rather labour-intensive and leisure limiting congress of development of agriculture and animal husbandry that it emerged not out of a need for sustenance—hunter-gatherers were happy campers in the above regard (see below) and it was more efficient and less taxing on the environment—but rather out of an urgent need for fibre and pelts with layering and insulation being what brought humans to the other side of the last ice age with an expanded range that would eventually dominate the whole Earth—though the dinosaurs and their highly-achieving avian ancestors might take exception to that claim. Because threads of evidence would quickly fade away, much of this proposal is speculative but rings true and seems like a plausible catalyst to protect our relatively hairless bodies from the harsh elements and lend us to the attendant toil. More at the links above.

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

a modest proposal

Via the ever-engaging Weird Universe, we are directed to a 1983 edition of OMNI magazine and the ponderings of the doctoral theoretical biologist, literary critic and prolific science-fiction author Thomas A. Easton (Mood Wendigo, Wallflower, Alien Resonance, Micro Macho) proffering essentially the thesis of the 2017 film Downsizing through selective breeding, shrinking the average human stature to curb our unsustainable appetite for range and resources. As of yet undeveloped technologies could accelerate the process across all populations by introducing desirable genetic traits through a viral delivery system with this atavistic twist netting health benefits as well. Though indubitably bad stewards of the environment, the popular 1970s and 1980s trope of over-population was somewhat of a red-herring and the argument could be twisted in rather nefarious ways. More to explore at the link above.

Saturday, 1 May 2021

moraines and drumlins

Via Maps Mania, we are confronted with the profound and consequential loss of the world’s glacial cover visualised with an animated comparison of ninety of the planet’s largest and best surveyed moving, dense bodies of ice (see previously) on the march and on the retreat. Scientists project that the rate of melting will double by the next decade and will contribute some twenty percent to sea-level rise rather than being the natural water towers and frozen reservoirs that they were meant to be.

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

the planet on the plate

Via Kottke’s Quick Links, we are directed towards the announcement of one influential cooking website that going forward (the policy change has been essential in effect for over a year to overwhelmingly positive reception) won’t promote any new recipes with beef as an ingredient—the decision based on sustainability and “not giving airtime to one of the world’s worst climate offender.” Rather than being anti-cow, Epicurious—whom hope others follow—acknowledges that giving up meat alone is not a panacea for our predicament and that in a broken food system, soy, seafood and most everything else is potentially problematic but it’s definitely a start and a signal to the industry at large.

Thursday, 22 April 2021


carbon footprint: mining is a dirty business

kiki.object: a feminist manifesta for block-chain  

bat stuck in hell: recently departed songwriter Jim Steinman’s unproduced Batman musical 

the gates of paradise: William Blake’s (previously) perpetual cycle of birth and re-birth   

the singing, ringing tree: not to be confused with this other etherial perennial, panoptica in the Pennine Hills of Lancashire

the hawking index: an unscientific survey of popular titles’ rate of abandonment by the clustering or spread of their highlighted text 

this is the type of errant pedantry up with which i will not put: a proposal that the past particle of choose should properly be corn  

project ceti: ground-breaking attempt to decode whale language—see also—via Slashdot  

fourth rock from the sun: Martian rover Perseverance extracts breathable oxygen from the planet’s surface soil

Tuesday, 20 April 2021


one man’s trash: a preview (plus whole film) of a documentary about spelunking in New York City’s garbage  

dare mighty things: Martian rover Perseverance (previously) conducts first test flight of its airfoil drone

distant drums: the ‘Wilhelm Scream’—the stock effect of a man being eaten by an alligator  

personnage: the almond and pebble that inspired Joan Mirรณ’s sculpture  

palace of culture: a choreographed tour of Lithuania’s Socialist Modernist architecture  

moon unit: Space X awarded NASA contract for lunar lander for the upcoming Artemis mission  

pegged: artist Helga Stentzel (previously) creates a clothes-line polar bear to raise awareness for climate change

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

capsule house k

Though familiar with his iconic Nakagin capsule hotel in Tokyo, which was also happily conserved and revitalised, until learning about efforts to save Kisho Kurokawa’s (้ป’ๅท ็ด€็ซ ) retreat in the woods of Karuizawa completed in 1974 we had not appreciated the philosophy behind the movement called Metabolism (ๆ–ฐ้™ณไปฃ่ฌ, shinchintaisha—a literal translation of the biological process of a more poetic concept of the exchange of energy between the interior and exterior world) that attempts to harmonize skyscrapers and other monumental architecture and civil engineering with organic growth, embracing the principles of sustainability, human-clustering, modularity, mobility and transience. Learn more at the links above.

Thursday, 8 April 2021

under the sea

Informed by the futuristic pavilions constructed for the World Expo in Osaka (previously here, here and here), we were delighted to pay a virtual visit to the Ashizuri Underwater Observation Tower (see also) built in 1971 by architect Yoshikatsu Tsuboi (ๅชไบ•ๅ–„ๅ‹). Seven metres under the waves, submerged guests can view fish, coral and other marine life in this reserve along the Tatsukushi coast in Kochi prefecture. More at Design Boom at the link up top.

Monday, 29 March 2021


disaster capitalism: paintings of banks alight and other artworks by Alex Schaefer (previously) via Everlasting Blรถrt  

convergent evolution: sea life becomes the plastic that is polluting it 

do geese see god: a documentary about the world palindrome championship  

full-stop: punctuation can really set a tone—see also  

№ 2 pencil: a fantastic Eberhard-Faber catalogue from 1915 

r.u.r.: online sci-fi dictionary (see previously) sources the term robot to 1920

living with the consequences: government austerity raises COVID deaths

Thursday, 18 March 2021


gambrinus/ninkasi: five-thousand-year old industrial scale brewery in Egypt makes archaeologist rethink the history of beer, previously believed only to be made on a large scale with Christian monasteries  

star-fiend: one member of the pool of “human computers” realised that there were galaxies beyond our own by studying depth of field on photographic plates with a magnifying glass rather than a telescope  

pod squad: whales collaborated and learned to outsmart their human hunters in the nineteenth century—via Kottke, blogging for twenty-three years now 

dyi: join Van Neistat, The Spirited Man, for some fantasy fixing  

maslenitsa: celebrating Shrovetide ahead of Orthodox Lent  

vier-farben-satz: Colorbrewer generates ideal schemes for maps and data visualisations

Saturday, 13 March 2021


Last year it was a little too warm for snowdrops (Galanthus, Schneeglรถckchen) but this spring we had quite a profusion including a few fine examples of the related but rarer leucojum (below center, from the Greek for white violet, Knotenblumen for the green or yellow knotted tips to their outer petals).
Both snowflakes as all related genera are known are part of the Amaryllis family of bulbous perennials and are also sometimes called Saint Agnes’ flower, as they usually begin to appear around the feast day of Agnes of Bohemia on 2 March, springing up in shadier, wetter spots and tend to be pretty hardy and resilient garden plants despite their seemingly delicate and ephemeral nature.  Summer snowflakes also grow in late spring.

Wednesday, 10 March 2021


Occupying a liminal space between 2001: A Space Odyssey and the juncture that went with cosmic opera in one direction and dread aliens in the other, the environmental-themed, weakly-endorsing techno-utopia Silent Running by Douglas Trumbull—released on this date in 1972—does resound with our times and the bleak climate catastrophes we are facing, nearly fifty years on. The film follows a resident botanist (Bruce Dern) on board a greenhouse just beyond the orbit of Saturn, maintaining specimens of Earth’s plant life for its eventual reseeding the planet after all native trees and crops went extinct. Disobeying an order from the corporate headquarters that sponsored the space ark project to jettison their living cargo and return to commercial services, the botanist with his three service robots try to save the last biosphere.

Monday, 8 March 2021


ribbit: frogs use their lungs effectively as noise-cancelling devices—via the new Shelton wet/dry  

oculus: architect envisions Rome’s Pantheon as world’s largest camera obscura (previously) with a conceptual installation 

fetish-free commodities: Existential Comics attempts to demystify Marxist marketplaces—via Nag on the Lake and Memo of the Air 

radiant baby: a brief biography of artist Keith Haring told with drawings and song  

ipa: an iconographic dictionary that corresponds to each phoneme of human language 

marshmallow test: cuttlefish demonstrate self-control and delay gratification, passing a cognitive benchmark designed for human children

Thursday, 4 March 2021

cardinal rule

Though disagreeing in principle with the way the thesis is presented and that no birds—weaponised killer drones disguised as our avian friends excepted—are garbage, this essay, via the venerable Card House, does make a compelling argument and presents solutions for the preponderance of poorly selected state symbols in America (previously) and with humour demonstrates how bestowing these honours has consequence. The vetting and the P-R process has been pretty lacking with many states choosing invasive imports, domesticated breeds, copy-cat cases of multiply mocking birds and landlocked Utah choosing the sea gull as a sign of gratitude when the birds miraculously intervened to devour a plague of locust that threatened to drive the settlers to starvation.

Monday, 1 March 2021

casanea dentata

Previously we’ve written about the consequences of blight and efforts to reintroduce the American chestnut tree with generic engineering but failed to appreciate the devastating magnitude that the loss of a keystone species had for industry and ecosystem until acquainting ourselves with this extensive Sierra Club article, excerpted by Super Punch. Crucial as building and construction material, the westward expanse of Old World settlers would not have been possible with log cabins and later railroad ties made out of the durable, rot-resistant wood, to say nothing of its sheltering branches and bark, the food-chain of fauna it supported or its pharmacological merits. Cutting or coppicing the tree didn’t kill it and rather it re-sprouted and was ready again to be harvested in a couple of decades, leading to the strangest, tortured Promethean twist in this study: as the blight only damaged the surface part of the tree, extensive root systems still exist, an estimated half a billion individuals and every once and a while grow new saplings, though these too succumb to the fungal disease within a few years.

Sunday, 21 February 2021

calving and bergy bits

Inspired by the impassioned plea from a glaciologist for scientists to portray realistic and stable icebergs, we discover—via Things Magazine—a subroutine that analyses shape and buoyancy of an iceberg of one’s own rendering and rights it approximately as it would appear in the ocean.  Along with a growler, a bergy bit is less than five metres across and are the products of disintegrating icebergs.  Draw your own to see how it would float.

Friday, 12 February 2021

intermediate egret

Vis-ร -vis our last post, here’s a bit of a coda on avian nomenclature in this extensive thread of birds named by ornithologists who were clearly frightened by birds as young children and have since worked through that trauma hurling insults at select members of the group. There were too many funny names to mention them all but some of our tragic favourites were the Monotonous Lark, the Red-Rumped Bush Tyrant, the pictured Perplexing Scrubwren (our poster birb), the Rough-Faced Shag and the Smew. What’s your favourite and which would be a suitable stage name for you?

Thursday, 11 February 2021


penne, named for the nib of a quill: a trilingual exploration of past etymology—see also 

i’m live—i’m not a cat: kitten-filter mishap for attorney’s teleconference is could become this era’s poster image 

so this is how liberty dies… with thunderous applause: the honourable senator from Naboo was the deciding vote that allowed the Palpatine to become Emperor as explored scene-by-scene by a group of screenwriters constructing the finest Star Wars story that will be never made

opmerkelijke zaken: mushroom bricks, bricks reinforced with plastic waste plus more from the peripatetic Pasa Bon!  

pelagic zone: winners of the 2021 Underwater Photography contest announced 

cosy web: the Multiverse Diary project, a collaboration that celebrates the old school blog and wiki aesthetic for branching out  

pov: Ancient China on Rome, the Islamic world on India and other historical perspectives narrative on Voices of the Past 

uunifetapasta: where the phenomenon of TikTok Pasta came from and where it might lead