Thursday, 26 January 2023

money to burn (10. 497)

Once seized as the counterfeiting scheme of a mysterious Frenchman, Public Domain Review contributor Dorinda Evans reassesses the hyperrealistic paintings of Victor Dubreuil of US paper currency as a social critique of capitalism and exploitative working practises at a time when few were openly questioning the status quo. These still lives with dollars and trompe l’oeil paintings of legal tender enjoyed some contemporary popularity in addition to scrutiny by the US for the starving artist but most missed the anti-imperialism, anti-kleptocractic allegory of Dubreuil. Find a whole gallery of his works at the link above.

Thursday, 12 January 2023

7x7 (10. 410)

salt of the earth: a tour of Ukraine’s Soledar salt mines—presently under siege 

black mass: Boston is hosting the Satanic Temple’s SatanCon—see previously

verpertilio-homo: what the Great Moon Hoax of 1835 reveals about contemporary misinformation  

lhs 475ฮฒ: JWST discovers its first exoplanet—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links  

discretionary time off: salaried Microsoft employees given unlimited vacation leave  

jot and tittle: an unorthodox scholar ferrets out biblical forgeries  

russie d’aujourd’hui: a look back at Soviet boosterism and propaganda publications

Tuesday, 10 January 2023

6x6 (10. 403)

picket lines: Sunak’s cabinet to implement anti-strike laws to enforce basic services during stoppages  

⭕️ ๐Ÿ’ฏ: draw a perfect circle   

camera obscura: the fantastic, “historical” photography apparatuses of Mathieu Stern

all maps at once: interesting and interactive cartographical overlays with the open-source viewing standard  

murphy desk: the flow wall workspace designed by Robert van Embricqs 

this is the sound of a gavel: a litany of concessions in exchange for the House Speakership

Monday, 9 January 2023

word of the day: gongoozler (10. 401)

Ostensibly from canal workers’ jargon to describe an observer watching the narrowboats ply by—from the Lincolnshire dialectical terms for gaping and staring, and interesting as its etymology is completely removed from gondolier, it’s now used as a gently chiding, reflexive way to describe such practitioners (see also) and their pastime—and by extension, any sort of keen spectating without appreciable contribution.

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.

Monday, 26 December 2022

my company takes the entire delivery fee. you were a capitalist until five minutes ago—you should know how these things work. (10. 364)

Regular contributor to McSweeney’s Steven Ruddy presents a delightfully Dickensian gig-economy, Uber Eats retelling of the Christmas Carol, specifically the concluding scene when Scrooge cries out to a boy in the street, ecstatic that he hasn’t missed Christmas Day and attempts to dispatch a prize turkey to the Cratchit home, though has difficulties fulfilling his order. “Delivery fee is two crowns, sir.”

Friday, 23 December 2022

ice cream assassins (10. 356)

Again with the distinction between neologisms and characters and courtesy of Language Log, we are directed towards an omnibus listing of internet slang that dominated social media in China (see previously) this past year. The title (้›ช็ณ•ๅˆบๅฎข) refers to the sticker-shock of the frozen treats associated with inflation and the pictured “let it rot” cites the trend of leaning into a situation that’s failing apart rather than trying to salvage it and like lying flat signals a generation growing weary with social competition in the face of a possibly bleak future. We also quite liked the incantation—Tuรฌ! Tuรฌ! Tuรฌ! ้€€!้€€!้€€!, to banish an unpleasant presence in one’s life.

Wednesday, 23 November 2022

ๅ‹คๅŠดๆ„Ÿ่ฌใฎๆ—ฅ (10. 327)

As the modern, post-war incarnation of an ancient harvest festival that celebrated the reaping of the Five Grains, a group of farmed cereals essential to agriculture and social development, Labour Thanksgiving (Kinrล Kansha no Hi) is an annual public holiday, falling on this day, occasioning the rejoicing of productivity and hard work and as an expression of gratitude to one’s coworkers and colleagues. Commemorations generally include school children distributing cards and gifts for public sector workers and companies review their accomplishments over the past year and fete their staff.

Sunday, 21 August 2022

1.d4 (10. 074)

Not discounting the possibility of promotion—or queening—or underpromotion in scenarios when too many queens would cause a draw over a stalemate, we enjoyed learning that in medieval gaming traditions, each pawn was assigned a common occupation, ranging from the king’s rook’s to the queen’s rook: farmer, smith, notary, merchant, physician, innkeeper, watchman and town crier. These roles were handed down to us in the collected sermons of mid-thirteenth century Dominican friar from Asti, Jacopo da Cessole, who authored a morality book through the pieces and protocols of the game—the Book of Chess, De ludo scachorum. First printed a century and a half after it was written, it became one of the most popular early books, possibly even rivalling the Bible for its life lessons and accessible social allegory, and became the basis for printer William Caxton’s The Game and Playe of the Chess, only the second book published in English. More at Futility Closet at the link above.

Monday, 15 August 2022

ferragosto (10. 062)

Originating from the Roman holiday Feriae Augusti instigated by Caesar Augustus, Octavian, to reward

agricultural workers (inclusive of beasts of burden) after a long, hot summer of toil at the head of the month and to commemorate his victory over Mark Antony in the Battle of Actium, the Church later shifted the festivity to coincide with the Feast of the Assumption. Observed also by the residents of San Marino, the canton of Ticino and for political reasons the Vatican rather than the day of holy obligation, the holiday became associated with an extended vacation weekend during the fascist era when Mussolini directed the National Afterwork Club (Opera Nazionale Dopolavoro—see also) to arrange hospitality and the “People’s Trains of Ferragosto” (nothing to do with ferrocarril) at heavily discounted prices that allowed working class families to visit the mountains or the seaside. This tradition continues commercially, the date signaling the start of the holiday season in Italy and businesses shutter operations for the next couple of weeks. Chiuso per ferie.

Sunday, 31 July 2022

so we spin (10. 029)

Published in part at the link, we enjoyed this introduction to the graphic design portfolio of Elinor and Joe Selame in their 1971 data-visualisation (see also here and here) volume that poses the question whether one is a wheel or a cog and demonstrates the discipline’s commitment to limning socio-economic realities and communicating an class and ethnographic truth. Widening inequalities create a thesis and antithesis that can be convey clearly in a family of symbols, which not only project and reflect society, the technique can also help one to understand one’s role within the context of community. More at Print Magazine at the link above.

Saturday, 9 July 2022

8x8

carina nebula: first five subjects for JWST announced  

a pharmacopeia with balneological appendix: a primer and point of departure for the mysterious pre-Renaissance volume, the Voynich Manuscript—see previously

putt-putt for the fun of it: a time-capsule of miniature golf courses 

trap daddy: spoof Russian history on Chinese Wikipedia introduces us to a catch-phrase for the deception hoax—see also, see previously  

jubilee: inflexibility applied to finance and debt contributed to the downfall of the Roman Empire  

spatter platters: morbid 1960s teen tragedy songs

hushed-tones: a neural network makes a nature documentary about ants  

hudf: JWST takes deepest image of the Cosmos without even trying plus other space news briefs

Sunday, 3 July 2022

8x8

el vehรญculo compartido: personal aerial shots by photographer Alex Cartagena in pickup truck beds reveal the hidden lives of day labourers off-duty  

skate expectations: concrete sculptural parks by Amir Zaki—via Present /&/ Correct 

rosรฉwave: a playlist from NPR to invoke relaxed summer afternoon vibes

press key when ready: the 1985 British children’s sci-fi series The Whizz 

i am your atypical neighbour: in an exhibit, Her Window, artist Dayu Ouyang broadcasts bold statements from her bedroom’s view  

hot slot: the escapingly small feasibility that Jeff Goldblum could have uploaded a computer virus to alien technology and win Independence Day plus other dei ex machinis  

friend-shoring: reprioritising globalisation and a metallic NATO to ensure critical rare-earths supply chains are kept viable  

a rising tide lifts all boats: laid out in a grid meant to resemble brain coral from above and protected by the sinking atoll, the Maldives is building an ingenious floating city that will rise with the oceans as perhaps a model for other threatened communities

Sunday, 26 June 2022

days of the international

Adopted and in use since February of 1918, the era of the Soviet calendar came to an end on this day in 1940 for the USSR, with 27 June again synchronised with its Gregorian counterpart, having dropped the first half of the above month from the Julian system to align with the Western year. After experiments with continuous production weeks—the three hundred sixty days with five national holidays maps to a grid quite well (see also), a six-day week with one day of rest and ultimately an alternating five-, six-day per week schedule, though this was erroneous interpreted by outside media as a perpetual calendar—like the French Revolutionary one—though there were concessions to the sabbath and retained the traditional monthsand Western style dates were almost always included parenthetically.

Wednesday, 8 June 2022

7x7

tidal power: Japan trials subsea turbines as a stable source of limitless green energy  

rethink the week: Stephen Fry and a host of animators believe that the time has come for a four-day work week—previously  

bosco verticale: Milan’s forested apartment block recreated in LEGO  

young macgyver: an unaired pilot spin-off of the original—remember when it was a huge reveal to disclose our hero’s first name?  

baad mambia: voicing AI output from Janelle Shane (previously) of Strong Bad from the flash animated series Homestar Runner—via Waxy  

mapped sonification: mouse around noisy cities and imagine how things will be different when our built environment isn’t designed to accommodate the internal combustion engine  

blue planet: World Oceans Day 2022 focuses on revitalisation—previously

Monday, 6 June 2022

i said young man, pick yourself off the ground

Founded on this day in 1844 by businessman (in cloth wholesale), philanthropist and great-great-grandfather of current (at the time of publishing) Prime Minister Boris Johnson Sir George Williams, in response to the appalling working conditions in London, the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA, CVJM, Christlicher Verein Junger Mรคnner jetzt Menschen auf Deutsch, now a pseudo-acronym or orphan-initialism with the letters standing for nothing) was based on the beliefs of Congregationalism including the Muscular Christianity movement that promoted the notion that the body is a temple and that the physical beauty of athleticism and self-discipline were a compliment to godly behaviour and deportment. Drawn to the cities by the Industrial Revolution, there was a considerable dearth of activities for the new recruits to occupy themselves with—other than taverns and brothels—and Williams, with the support of a consortium of fellow drapers, wanted to offer his workforce better accommodations and more wholesome activities and encourage better citizenship. Basketball, volleyball, racquetball and water polo are among the sports invented and formalised at YMCA facilities. Though still considered a para-ecclesiastical organisation espousing Protestant values, its mission and outreach has expanded and become more inclusive. You can get yourself clean, you can have a good meal, you can do whatever you feel.

Friday, 22 April 2022

earth day

Organisers Denis Hayes and Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson who championed the establishment of the annual observance in support of environmental protection and better stewardship of the planet in congress—plus drumming up the earnest support of the United Auto Workers union which without the backing of the labour movement probably would have had no staying power—chose the date strategically as to time the holiday outside of college exams and Spring Break, student activism being among the important targets to carry the cause forward, and with the happy coincidence that the date range included the anniversary of the 1838 birth of John Muir—an American of Scottish extract regarded as the Father of the National Parks, avid naturalist, ecologist and conservationist who co-founded the Sierra Club and pushed the government to establish a nature reserve in the Yosemite region of California. 

Reportedly unbeknownst to Nelson and Hayes, the first 1970 celebration fell on the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Soviet revolutionary Vladimir Lenin (New Style, 1870), causing some media outlets to speculate at the time that it was not an unfortunately coincidence but rather signaled that the environmental movement was a “Communist trick” to subvert and indoctrinate the youth—apparently into caring for Nature and the world around them and engendered guilt over polluting and over-consumption. The themes for this year include Sustainable Fashion, the Great Global Clean-up, the Canopy Project (reforestation) and Climate and Environmental Literacy.

Thursday, 31 March 2022

dรญa de cรฉsar chรกvez

Commemorated as a holiday in several food producing regions of the United States, the life and legacy of the civil rights reformer and labour activist of Cรฉsar Chรกvez, born this day in 1927 (†1993), whom along wit fellow farm worker Dolores Huerta unionised and rallied for better conditions for all.

Monday, 28 March 2022

sozialer mord

Via Super Punch, we learn about a phrase and its applications coined by Friedrich Engels—one whom one doesn’t hear much about without the more well-known and charismatic Karl Marx—in his 1845 study The Conditions of the Working-Class in England, social murder, to describe the dominance of the aristocracy and consequences for the proletariat whose exploitation and negligence causes premature death for many in the under-class. Whilst originally directed towards Manchester and the regard that the South held for the North in Britain, the term has popular parlance from austerity measures, climate change and its first victims, to inequalities brought to the fore by the pandemic and the most vulnerable among us.  Often over looked and excused, Engels writes, “[S]ince the offence is more one of omission than of commission. But murder it remains.”

Friday, 25 March 2022

lady day

Coinciding with the Solemnity of the Annunciation, until 1752 when Great Britain and its extended imperial holdings adopted the Gregorian calendar, 25 March was New Year’s Day—liturgically, legally and fiscally—under the Julian system of reckoning time. A quarter day falling near the March equinox, it was an ideal date for arranging new contracts between landlords and tenants because it fell at a time that did not interfere with ploughing or harvest and itinerant farmers would move house and home (see also) at this time. With the British Empire lagging behind most of Western Europe in switching to “New Style,” the eleven day difference between the Gregorian and Julian calendars caused the contract-setting period to be advanced to 5 April, hence “Old Lady Day.”