Friday, 8 July 2022

dual process theory

Via Waxy, we are directed to Neal Agarwal’s latest exercise (see previously) in a series of increasingly preposterous trolley problems and the ethical dilemmas that arise from these situations where intervention is possible. Illustrative of the problems we have with inscrutable algorithms and the opaque artificial intelligence that’s supposed to be able to evaluate such decisions, not only do you get to make the moral call, you can also see how your answers stack up to three-quarters of a million other respondents.

Thursday, 30 June 2022

7x7

stare decisis: the phrase “to stand by things decided,” the doctrine of affording preference to precedent is post-Classical Legal Latin  

day at the beach: Ludwig Favre immerses himself at Brooklyn’s Coney Island—via Nag on the Lake 

kunst und keksdose: the art vintage German biscuit tins 

tubeway army: Are ‘Friends’ Electric? by Gary Numan climbs to the top of the charts on this day in 1979   

merrily, merrily, merrily: distinguishing dreams from waking  

full-stop: Gertrude Stein and others on punctuation  

hallux: Latin’s lack of distinction for fingers and toes—see also here and here

Saturday, 21 May 2022

paranoid android

Though perhaps as remarkable in its departure from the band’s usual fare that came before and after, the third studio album from Radiohead was first released on this day in 1997 and limns the world to come fraught with social alienation, political tribalism and unbridled consumption and commodification—as opposed to the era framed as the end of history and post-modernism—by means of a lyrical narrative that speaks to the vague anxieties perhaps represented by though not exclusively about y2k in the existential dread of loosing oneself to forces inscrutable lumped together as technology.

Friday, 13 May 2022

unvollstรคndigkeitssatz

Futility Closet relates an anecdote from the live of mathematician Kurt Gรถdel in residence at Princeton University Institute for Advanced Studies and his friendship with fellow resident scholars physicists Albert Einstein (previously) John von Neumann and economist Oskar Morgenstern, whom felt obliged to make sure their younger charge’s tendency for over-thinking remained an asset and not his undoing and monitored Gรถdel’s preparation for the US citizenship exam in 1947, Einstein himself naturalised seven years earlier. The prodigal and influential logistician widely settled the impossibility of formulating a self-consistent and complete set of rules governing all of mathematics at the tender age of twenty-five, Gรถdel assayed the project of his examination with signature tenacity and revealed to his wardens that in his research, he had uncovered a fatal-flaw in the American constitution that could led to dictatorship, the corruption and consequence of totalitarian democracy. Einstein and company implored him not to share this discovery and the test was actually a much simpler affair, though basic civics and recent history might have suggested otherwise. The proctor for the citizenship test inquired of Gรถdel his state of origin and its form of government—to which Gรถdel replied Austria and a republic, but owed that “the constitution was such that it soon become a dictatorship.” Despite the examiner’s insistence that the same could not happen in the USA and Gรถdel’s refutation with the offer of proof, the panel stuck to the business at hand and conducted the test. No mention was made in their collective memoirs what that finding might have been and we suppose won’t know it until it’s happened.

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

stanze della segnatura

Born on this day (or possibly 28 March) in 1483 (†1520—on the same day), the artist mononymously known as Raphael—Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino—would go on to become one of the trinity of Italian High Renaissance art alongside Leonardo and Michelangelo, prolific despite his relatively early death, working in Umbria, Florence and finally in Rome under the patronage of two popes, the majority of his creations on display in the Vatican. Reflecting his Neoplatonic ideals, arguably his best known, commercially duplicated work is The School of Athens (Sculoa di Atene, complemented by The Parnassus and the Disputa on opposite walls), a suite of frescos commissioned between 1509 and 1511 to decorate the rooms of the papal palace with a celebration and revival of the arts and sciences and cameos of philosophers portrayed by contemporaries.

Sunday, 20 March 2022

oral traditions

First championed by networks of storytellers in Sweden and Australia in the early nineties before being organised as a global observance in 2004 and held on or near the March equinox World Storytelling Day is a convention of sorts for audience and authors to connect, inspire and synthesise diverse folklore and myth (see previously here, here and here). Acknowledging the craft as a form of art and our own penchant for and appear to narrative, each annual gathering has had themes, like 2018’s Wise Fools, 2020’s Voyages and for 2022, Lost and Found. See if you can come up with a tall tale to share today.

Monday, 14 March 2022

7x7

be kind, rewind: the miniature dioramas of Marina Totino—via Waxy  

doobly doo: recreating a Hallstatt period hair-style  

wck: more on Josรฉ Andrรฉs’ World Central Kitchen (previously) and its work in Ukraine  

it is better to conquer our grief than to deceive it: solace from the Stoics and other timeless words of wisdom—via Messy Nessy Chic  

blogoversary: Kottke turns twenty-four  

the wife of ฯ€: a Pi Day (previously) round-up—plus this one  

family pictures: artist Martha Naranjo Sandoval reanimates antique stereoscopic photos

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.

Monday, 13 December 2021

pearls before swine

An investigation into sudden-onset meat allergies comes full-circle with the recognition of a particular sugar called Alpha GAL that can cause intolerance for some and results in in an expansion of organ-donor base for others raises some thorny philosophical questions for us, cheerleaders, the lonely survivor and commodifying dissenters alike airing our objections over the brashest of enthusiasm for progress.

Tuesday, 7 December 2021

ngc

On the anniversary of the discovery of a pair of barred-spiral galaxies in 1785 by Anglo-German astronomer by William Herschel whilst observing the night sky in Leo Minor, Edwin Powell Hubble, namesake of the space telescope, first found evidence, using Cepheid variables-whose periodic pulsations can be used to measure cosmic distances-that the Universe extends far beyond our own Milky Way and that nebulae were far too distant and were in fact galaxies in their own right. Definitively demonstrating his proof the following year and though contrary to scientific consensus at the time that the Universe was our own galactic skies some researchers-Hubble included, harboured suspicions that the Cosmos was a much bigger place since the conjectures of Immanuel Kant in his 1755 treatise on the General History of Nature and Theory of the Heavens, positing that the Solar System is a smaller reflection of the fixed stars.

Thursday, 25 November 2021

saint catherine of alexandria

Counted among the Fourteen Holy Helpers, one of the counsellors who appeared to Joan of Arc and whose cult according to some academics was cover for sympathies for the murder and defamation of Greek philosopher Hypatia with a broad patronage that includes potters, millers, milliners and spinners for her tortured martyrdom on the breaking-wheel, scholars, scribes, secretaries, stenographers, etc. was a late third century daughter of the governor of the Egyptian centre of learning who converted to Christianity, aged fourteen, and evangelised to many with her winning eloquence and persuasive reasoning—and is venerated on this day. Once persecutions of Christians resumed under the reign of Maxentius, Catherine embarked to Rome and rebuked the emperor. Rather than dispatching with her instantly, the emperor instead assembled a retinue of fifty of his most skilled and pagan orators to challenge Catherine to a debate and refute her arguments. Not only did Catherine roundly carry the day, her words also managed to garner some new converts to the faith, all of whom were summarily put to death with Catherine confined in a dungeon and made to endure terrible tortures daily. A dove and a host angels healed her wounds nightly and Catherine survived her torment for twelve days, persuading the emperor to ultimately proposing marriage to her. Refusing to yield to Maxentius’ overtures, Catherine said she was happily taken by her spouse, Jesus Christ. Enraged, the emperor first had her bound to a spiked breaking wheel (now also known as a Catherine Wheel) and then beheaded for good measure.

Saturday, 9 October 2021

dor nischl

The colossal stylised bust of philosopher and historian Karl Marx (previously) sculpted by Soviet realist Lev Efimovich Kerbel for the city formerly and presently known as Chemnitz (redesignated as Karl-Max-Stadt for the year of the revolutionary in 1953) was dedicated on this day in 1971 before an assembly of a quarter of a million attendees. The wall directly behind the visage and plinth is inscribed with the famous phrase from the Communist Manifesto “Workers of the World, unite!” in German, Russian, French and English by graphic artist Helmut Humann.  Locally referred to as the above Mitteldeutsch colloquialism for head or skull and used as a backdrop for much propaganda and pageantry under the East German government, the symbol was not without controversy, but was preserved while many other monuments to Soviet heroes and ideals were dismantled. After reunification, the city of Kรถln even offered to buy the head in order that it be saved from destruction, while residents were wrestling with the recent past and deciding to restore their city’s former name. Ultimately, it was decided to keep this and select vestiges of times past, which can still be a focus of the here and now.

Saturday, 2 October 2021

stunaep

Reprising an Austin Kleon post from last year for this anniversary of the first time Charles Schultz’ Charlie Brown and friends first appeared in print in 1950 (see previously), we have these cut-ups of Peanuts strips re-mixed to consider and mediate on—which I think only enhances the characters’ philosophic outlook in the same daily dose. Much more at the link up top including multiple anthologies of zines composed of the same material.

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

6x6

moo-loo: calves are being toilet-trained to mitigate some of the greenhouse gasses the livestock produce

รผber die bestimmung des weibes zur hรถheren geistesbildung: a look at philosopher Amalia Holst, whose 1802 work is comparable to Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman  

ferryman: an interesting look at legally-mandated river-crossings in Manchester  

the colour of money: a mesmerising video to accompany the Blake Mills song  

microcosmos: outstanding photographs of the world not visible to the naked eye  

charismatic megafauna: a biotech firm is raising funds to de-extinct the woolly mammoth—see previously

Friday, 10 September 2021

6x6

central solenoid: installation of a powerful giant magnet brings experimental fusion project a step closer to completion 

clรฉo from 5 to 7: discovering an Agnes Varda classic 

la sociรฉtรฉ du spectacle: an update of the 1974 Situationist Guy Debord’s critique of mass marketing and estrangements of modern society  

raise high the roof beam: experience a house inside a barn 

wtc: a profile of architect Minoru Yamasaki, best known for designing New York’s World Trade Center  

ccs: Iceland’s carbon capture and sequestration plant (previously) goes on-line

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

why is there even a blue pill?

Via Super Punch, we are treated to this sincerely, unintentionally unfortunate juxtaposition with this teaser landing spot for the upcoming Matrix sequel, in which actors from the original reprise their roles. You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.

Saturday, 7 August 2021

floating capital

The excellent house blog of San Francisco’s storied DNA Lounge, JWZ, asks us to consider the meaning and message of one of the least popular emojis, the so described as man in business suit levitating (๐Ÿ•ด)—an enigma but not in the sense of Avicenna’s thought experiment of the Floating Man or Magritte’s Son of Man, but rather what sort of capitalist, privileged elation that this symbol can be used to express. Click through for a selection of literary tropes for which this shorthand for rapture, stock-photo, narcissist or sociopath—whereas the real backstory involving a webdings exclamation mark and a Ska band is equally intriguing if not more circuitous.

Saturday, 31 July 2021

perpetuum mobile

Via Kottke’s Quick Links, we are led to a tantalising research project that if it fully pans out bypasses the second law of thermodynamics (see also, that energy in a system tends to wind down and dissipate) and have created “time crystals” as predicted by Richard Feynman in 1982. An exotic state of matter produced and maintained within a quantum computer, the matrix of atoms continually flips between two states without expending any energy, forever—like a perpetual motion machine.

Thursday, 29 July 2021

the treachery of images

We really enjoyed these philosophical Captchas (see also) from the always brilliant Jason Kottke that in addition to referencing, name-dropping the classical metaphysical conundrum of Heraclitus and Plato in the Ship of Theseus also appeals to Renรฉ Magritte.

Thursday, 24 June 2021

rotation № 17

Born this day in 1926 in Berlin (†1999), Robert Rotar was a painter, sculptor and photographer whose contemplative, meditative repertoire drew on symbolism, instructions—flow-charts from alchemy and astrology and was quietly prolific and accrued many patrons from all over the world. Receiving artistic training in Kรถln after the war—his studies at the Waldorfschule and Vitte in Hiddensee interrupted, Rotar became a member of the Deutsch Werkbund, collegial with Mies van der Rohe, Joseph Beuys, Florence Knoll, Alfred Schmela and other gallerists and artists, departing somewhat from the school’s usual output with a doctrinaire opus that conveyed a certain philosophic correspondence, indulging a trance-like state as he worked, especially with spirals, which embraced the motif of coincidentia oppositorum—out of the union of opposites wisdom is gained and cultivated close friendships with such contemporary thinkers as Werner Heisenberg, Niel Bohr, Wolfgang Pauli and Erwin Schrรถdinger.