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.”

Friday, 4 March 2022

for what it’s worth

Via Kottke we are directed to a highly compelling project from Dillon Marsh that visualises mines in South Africa with a scale model representing the specie, minerals or gemstones extracted from it—like in this composite photograph of the Jubilee Mine in the Namakwa District and the sixty-five-hundred tonnes of copper ore dug from the Earth. Gains seem particularly marginal, inefficient and pathetic in comparison to all the hardships in cost of human toil and exploitation and environmental damage. More at the links above.

Thursday, 20 January 2022

an unfinished revolution

We had scant idea that Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels had not only contributed hundreds of articles as foreign correspondents for the New York Daily Tribune in the lead up to the US Civil War advocating strongly against slavery and the apartheid of the American South—and North, Marx moreover kept up a correspondence with Abraham Lincoln—one does not readily summon this overlap and epistolary relatisonship, influencing and informing to an extent his interlocutor’s views on labour, suffrage and the estrangement of chattel and capital. Much more from Open Culture at the link above.

Friday, 7 January 2022

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

saint distaff’s day

Observed in medieval Europe on the day after the Feast of the Epiphany and also known as Roc or Rock Day (used with a spindle to make fabric) is an unofficial solemnity (see also) to mark going back to the grind with spinners and weavers resuming their work after the holiday break. Regarded traditionally as women’s work, there would be a gathering and some merry-making, recently seeing a revival, and men held their own parallel party, letting the short week run its course, called Plough Monday.

Friday, 24 December 2021

shouting fire in a crowded theatre

Though sadly not the only nor the most deadly historically antecedent for ruling speech or expression (and by extension press and assembly) not subject to protections for free speech, the most recent occurrence prompting the argument in favour of curtailing the right to protest the draft during World War I and supported by the US Espionage Act of 1917 as a “clear and present danger,” the Italian Hall disaster in Calumet, Michigan is one source of the analogy when someone falsely yelled “fire” during a crowded party on Christmas Eve on this day in 1913, causing a panicked stampede to the exits that crushed some seventy-three attendees. The ladies auxiliary of the Western Federated Miners’ Union had organised a holiday party for striking members and their families, already six months into their standoff with management, copper-bosses which would not end until April 1914. It is believed a member of a group called the Citizens’ Alliance—opposed to the union and their demands for better working conditions—crashed the party and caused the panic—according to several sources including a song wrote by Woody Guthrie about the tragedy, though there is no definitive proof. The 1919 case that the above doctrine upheld was ultimately overturned on appeal and reversed to rule that voicing opposition to the draft did not rise to the the level of sedition and was protected speech in 1969, limiting the scope to what would incite an imminent riot.

Wednesday, 15 December 2021

7x7

the hallmark channel: a treasury of classic festive films from Eastern Europe  

savage garden: the ruins of Rome’s Colosseum was once a wild green oasis full of exotic plants—via Messy Nessy Chic 

touching the sun: the Parker Solar Probe enters and safely exits the corona  

barcode architects: a new triangular high-rise for Rotterdam’s maritime district  

smart tweed: artificial intelligence predicts the next holiday, must-have gifts  

็‚ฌ็‡ต: Japanese in-situ heating solutions called kotatsu (see previously) have been around for a long time  

what day is it boy: the labour shortage hits Scrooge & Marley

Saturday, 4 December 2021

8x8

fauxliage: a superlative roundup of architectural photography projects

the ntf of dorian gray: a new, short take on Oscar Wilde’s cautionary tale 

emoji for scale: objects represented by their glyphs from smallest to largest—via Waxy

life plus 50: a Public Domain Advent Calendar in anticipation of the expiring copyrights that the New Year ushers in with a new class of works free to enjoy however one sees fit  

verrillon: revisiting the fragile glass armonica of Benjamin Franklin  

thank you for your patronage: hackers are instructing receipt printers to spout off anti-work manifestos to draw attention to poverty wages  

history is calling: a mobile phone museum—via Pasa Bon!

unbuilt architecture: mock-ups of ten modern monumental structures that were never completed—via Things Magazine

Wednesday, 1 December 2021

forget-the-year

Though in practise perhaps a bit premature and ill-advised given the milieu of a resurgence in COVID cases, we did nonetheless enjoy augmenting our vocabulary with the Japanese tradition of bลnenkai (ๅฟ˜ๅนดไผš) office parties that take place usually during December sponsored by companies for their employees that involves banqueting and a lot of drinking. As respite from the pandemic and the lengthening past or otherwise, not everyone is ready to embrace mandated festivities and bureikล—็„ก็คผ่ฌ›, nomunication—that is, loosened tongues facilitated through drink, nomu ๆ„ๅ‘ณ, which allows one to albeit temporarily, perhaps regrettably disregard hierarchy and distinctions in rank and seniority.