Thursday, 29 August 2013

triple-witching or who you gonna call?

The mayor of a sizable village in Abruzzo has conscripted the assistance of the Italian branch of the European Paranormal Activity Society (EPAS) to investigate mysterious sounds haunting the area.
I thought, sadly, that society had become too jaded for claims lacking photographic documentation or peer-review and appropriate adjudication or co-opted by the within-explanation biology and pathology of zombies, and so it is pretty keen to discover that there are still true-believers (despite their public front, reminiscent of faux-documentaries) just rearing to be of service for situations like this. Surely there are phenomena that do not yield for tradition explanations, despite whatever array of chroniclers that ought to be available, at any place or at any time and strangeness that is camera-shy. What do you think? Does your part of the realm of the living need the help of the ghost-busters to help settle accounts? Just remember, don't cross the streams.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

kofferraum or bring a towel

I stumbled over a delightful blog by the name of Ask the Past, full of practical albeit subject to ridicule advice from old publications. Trying to harriedly take stock of what I might need for our weekend-getaway and allay it most efficiently, the following recommendations from an Italian peripatetic from 1480 gave me some solice and direction:

"[A traveller] should carry with him two bags: one very full of patience, the other containing two hundred Venetian ducats, or at least one hundred and fifty... furthermore, he should provision himself with good Lombard cheese, sausages, tongue, and other cured meats of every sort; white biscuits, some cakes of sugar, and various confections, but not a great quantity because they spoil quickly. Above all he should take plenty of fruit syrup, because that is what keeps a man alive in extreme heat; and also ginger syrup to settle his stomach if it is upset by too much vomiting."

Though we need not worry about the goons at airport security confiscating liquids or foodstuff or undeclared monetary instruments, it is nice to know that patience, over-packed, is an inalienable prescription for any journey. The site is definitely worth the visit and further exploration on topics of all sorts.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

social mediation

It should come as no surprise, since nothing seems out of bounds—especially for the information that we've volunteered for scrutiny, but the revelation that lenders world-wide are using ones social media connections to supplement more traditional means of gauging creditworthiness. Apparently, the company that one keeps and their own credit-histories can have a significant impact, especially for those absent any track-record of loans and repayments, young people and first time-buyers, to reference. I wonder what repercussions that this sort of financial-intelligence might have on how one cultivates connections, friends of friends, realizing that anyone may prove a liability and probably not a source of collateral. Maybe it's better to sit out this dance.

Monday, 26 August 2013

vee-dub or pรฃo-de-forma

Via Jalopnik comes news that the last of the T-2's, which until this year were being produced at a Volkswagen factory in Brazil, will be manufactured and released on 31 December, due mostly to more stringent safety standards for automobiles.
To honour the end of the of the sixty-four year production run of the Bulli, the micro-bus (the hippie van was also known as the vee-dub to English speakers, since, like the world-wide-web, enunciating the W's of the initialism took more time than the whole name), the factory will be producing a special nostalgic line with the classic off-white and baby blue colour scheme of the sixties. In Brazil—which I remember manufactured the classic Beetle along with a plant in Mexico also for decades after it disappeared from US and European markets, the buses are modified to run on sugar-cane and are as popular as ever. It is sad to see such a classic line finally go but I know its legacy will live on.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

context clues or you see, it's OK. he saw it on the television

Mental Floss featured an interesting round up of eleven creative interpretations of classic films that's a bit above the caliber of the investigative work my friends and I did watching a VHS cassette of Three Men and a Baby one frame at a time to catch a glimpse of the tortured ghost stage-hand that was caught on a millisecond of the released version of the movie, but still rather implausible though well-constructed. The alternative reading that struck me the most was theories on the Stanley Kubrick film The Shining. I had heard the suggestions before that the movie was a veiled allegory of the director's views of the Holocaust or the genocide of the aboriginal peoples of the Americas, a significant departure from the book on which its based, but over all not a very compelling argument.
As the author of the original novel posits, however, all writing is a confession although it is not always clear what one is owning up to—though in this case, the author admitted that he had had some dark thoughts about his family when they got on his nerves, the article, referencing a documentary called Room 237, debuted during the Directors' Fortnight of last year's Film Festival at Cannes, entertains the idea that the changes in the screen-adaptation were the esteemed director's secret confessions for his part in the mock-up, staging of the Apollo Moon landings. Conspiracy theorists and Moon-landing deniers have found all sorts of supporting evidence, including, the sweater that Danny Torrence wears bears the Apollo 11 rocket, the lunar mileage was about 237,000 miles—hence the warning to avoid Room 237—and the distinctive hotel carpet pattern that Danny races his Big Wheel across bears some resemblance to the launch pad for the mission. An awful lot of the iconic scenes only come from the film—the wave of blood from the elevator, the ghost twins in the hallway and the writer's block expressed on dozens of typed pages. It seems like a pretty far-fetched explanation and one can surely find hints like these anywhere, if they support one's thesis. What do you think? Do you think there are such admissions lurking in the subtleties of gaffing and artist license?

Saturday, 24 August 2013

commemorative edition

It is pretty effortless to order up apparel with any print or slogan that one sees fit nowadays, or even to print a three-dimensional rendering as a keepsake of anything that has transpired. In the past, people have said some pretty obtuse things, which I thought ought to be embroidered on a throw pillow or stitched on a sampler, if I had that talent.

Showing that figurines were not only sentimental subjects in eras gone by, I think that this excellent interview with an accomplished collector of some of the more sensational and gruesome pieces of Staffordshire pottery from Collectors' Weekly, show that people even back then wanted to have conversation pieces—even if it was not always material fit for polite conversation, the tabloid scandals of the day, maulings, murder, emancipation, and discriminatory marriage laws. It's amazing how these unusual figurines, especially the Ersatz hunting dogs, sort of totems for the unlanded gentry who were not allowed by law to keep real dogs, tell a story and capture an elements of the times that would otherwise be lost.

kevin bacon number or seven-league boots

Though it is a challenge to find a non-moribund version that complements the original science project—and it's sad to think how precariously curated some brilliant things were handled just a few scant years ago, aping at this strange sort of premature immortality only to be displaced and neglected, looking back from an age just a few years later with the threat that most mundane and uninteresting things will ever be forgot—a clever student basically downloaded the growing database of Wikipedia and developed a route to allow users to enter queries on two desperate and random topics through his server and find the distance (the Kevin Bacon number, the connections, steps it takes to bridge both items) between them in the Wikipedia universe. Six Degrees of Wikipedia, it was called and was introduced in 2007, although it appears there has been no one to maintain the programme. Surely still educational and serendipitous, one sees latter day incarnations as a game with a certain frame work, which I think makes the search more of a trivial pursuit. Research, triangulation and abstraction, however, cannot be replaced by any amount of brute force or compendious collection, nor a sense of anticipation or urgency that spoils the surprise.
I wonder how the project's inventor thinks about browsers and engines, without stint or bias, almost without fail direct questions that have no resale value toward their Wikipedia articles. Since the first speech broadcast to those within ear-shot, the speed of communications has been dangerously out-stripping the speed of comprehension. One writer for Der Spiegel's Eines Tages lost-and-found bureau, invites readers on a monthly adventure with a daisy-chain of nodes and relays from the universal encyclopedia to bring together two topics in seven, possibly specious but always interesting, steps. The latest installment (liediglich nur auf Deustch) by Danny Kringiel links the history and development of rail-transport in Japan with the current state of affairs and exposure with the spying apparatuses of the United States. I am sure such a thesis accepts tangents as well.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

seven against thebes

Recently, the unsurpassable Twisted-Sifter featured as its picture of the day the ceiling fresco of St. Paulinus' Church in Trier, photographed with care by a professional who carefully stitched together several separate images to capture the entire canvas of the nave (far superior to my snap-shot from a visit a few years ago) by Rococo artist Christoph Thomas Scheffler. The church, a Basilica minor, itself was designed by the son of another superstar of the time, prolific architect Balthasar Neumann, and is dedicated to the local bishop who became a saint after his body was repatriated to this church after dying in exile, banished by the emperor a certain rivals for holding a view on the nature of the Trinity not en vogue at the time.
The amazing fresco depicts the martyrdom of the Theban Legion, a Roman garrison in Egypt,who were converted and condemned en masse under the leadership of St. Moritz, patron of many places in Germany and beyond—other members are venerated as well, including San Fedele (Saint Felix) who ended up in Como, when dispatched to the French-Swiss border to quell an (im)pious uprising and refused to do so.