Thursday, 18 August 2022

bona stabularia (10. 069)

Referred to by some historians as a “goodly stablemaid” and likely from humble roots in Bithynia (Anatolia)—though other counterclaimants, as with Charlemagne or any number of the artefacts she collected vying for authenticity, are out there including Augusta Treverorum, Mesopotamia, Palestine, the Pyrenees and Camulodnum (Colchester—a princess of the legendary Ole King Cole)—widowed wife and empress dowager of Constantius, relic-hunter and mother to Constantine I, Helen (Flavia Iulia Helena) is fรชted in the Roman Catholic Rite on this day as patron protector of the Holy Places and archaeologist, converts and divorcees. Helen was assigned this last benefaction as Constantius divorced her when Constantine was a teenager to take a wife of higher status, Theodora, and the two of them were exiled to the court of Diocletian in Dalmatia. After his father died in battle fighting against the Picts at Eboracum (York) and Constantine was proclaimed emperor, Helen returned to the imperial court and after her son’s consequential victory at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge and subsequent conversion to Christianity was appointed Augusta Imperatrix with unfettered access to the treasury and given the special assignment of collecting objects of Christian veneration, including the True Cross—the place of discovery now hosting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Holy Tunic.

Wednesday, 17 August 2022

6x6 (10. 068)

two trees of valinor: an assortment of keyboards in the languages of Middle Earth 

i have, may it please the court, a few words to say: the final address from abolitionist John Brown  

flexi disc: a profile on the mass-market vinyl alternative that bypassed sanctions (see also)  

wimps, pbh: primordial black holes may account for the missing mass of dark matter in the Cosmos 

tribal sovereignty: Irish customs accepts Native American, Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) passports—rejected elsewhere  

misty mountains: LOTR: The Rings of Power

i let the music speak (10. 067)

Released as a record album at the end of November 1981 and the groups last studio album for four decades until their 2021 reunion, ABBA’s The Visitors was among the first to be digitally mixed and recorded and on this day in 1982 became among the first to be pressed and issued in CD format (Polygram Records also put out a disk of Chopin waltzes and Phillips would be releasing a tranche of some fifty artists including Billy Joel available in stores in the autumn). Despite personal conflicts that strained their professional relationship and musical partnership, this final collaboration was a success, cathartic and critically well received. Still getting accustomed to the new technology, the sound engineers thought the recording to be too clean and missed notes and beats would be harder to overlook.

Tuesday, 16 August 2022

transatlantic (10. 066)

After a benedictory message from the directors of the Atlantic Telegraph Company in Great Britain to their US counterparts, “Europe and America are united by telegraph. Glory to God in the highest; on Earth peace, good will towards men,” Queen Victoria and president James Buchanan—from his summer residence in Bedford Springs, Pennsylvania—exchanged congratulatory greetings on this day in 1858, with the former observing that the submarine cable would “provide an additional link between the nations whose friendship is founded on their common interest and reciprocal esteem” to the latter’s more effluvious response “It is a triumph more glorious, because far more useful to mankind, than was ever won by conqueror on the field of battle. May the Atlantic telegraph, under the blessing of Heaven, prove to be a bond of perpetual peace and friendship between the kindred nations, and an instrument destined by Divine Providence to diffuse religion, civilization, liberty, and law throughout the world.” These inaugural overseas telegrams were quite laborious to encode and decode (see also), with the queen’s shorter missive taking sixteen hours to transmit and reception was quite poor but there was no dissuading the public’s enthusiasm—commercially, however, investors balked at the outcome considering the expense of the expedition to lay the cable and when the original linkage broke three weeks later—probably an inevitability due to faulty materials and manufacturing—confidence was sunk and delayed efforts to replace it. The termina (see previously), the most easterly and westerly points on land, were in Sunnyside, Bull Arms Bay, on the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland and Telegraph Field on Valentia Island, County Kerry.

feel the beat on your tambourine (10. 065)

Released to the UK and Europe this day in 1976 following its domestic debut the day before, the lead single from ABBA’s fourth studio album Arrival was an international chart topper, this Europop interpretation of American disco about the joy of dancing considered among the best musical numbers ever produced. Under the working title “Boogaloo,” early sessions contained the draft lyrics “Baby, baby—you’re out of sight. Hey, you’re looking alright tonight. When you come to the party, listen to the guys—they’ve got the look in their eyes…” Developed in the mid-90s following the registry standard for printed materials—the ISBN—the first International Standard Music Work Code (ISWC) was assigned to “Dancing Queen” with the unique identifier T-000.000.001-0.

Monday, 15 August 2022

private equity (10. 064)

Reinforcing the reality that the US is the biggest tax haven, the carried interest loophole, whose perennial but feeble attempts at reform nearly cost the US government and people a significant legislative win in terms of environmental protection and financial recovery, represents the bonus cut an investment manager—arguably a fee earned for enhancing the performance of stock portfolio—which are not in America taxed as regular earnings. Although the concept dates back to the sixteenth century and the age of colonialism—ships’ captains taking a share of profits ultimately earned on goods carried or transported as a way to build and maintain boat and crew and avoiding the prohibition against usurious loans, the idea was not codified, incentivised until 1913 and the explosion of domestic hydrocarbon exploration. Applying a lesser tax liability to the explorers’ profit (versus the share that the partners received) based on the above reasoning that the explorers were also shouldering a risk if their venture was unsuccessful, the immediate returns were classified as capital gains and due to the difficulty of assessing future value, taxes on carried interest can be deferred until cashed out. This is why poor-mouthing billionaires take out successive loans rather than reify their worth on paper. Moreover, with this continued concession to current regulations, wealth managers, hedge fund operators and the like are able to further exploit the returns on an investment above and beyond their individual exposure to the total profits earned by gambling with other people’s money, taxed at about half what earners in a much lower income bracket would be liable for.

6x6 (10. 063)

lawrence livermore labs: scientist achieve ignition, a long-standing and elusive goal for fusion research (see previously)

kiwa tyleri: the Guardian continues its profiles of denizens of the deep with the hirsute ‘Hoff crab’ who thrive at hydrothermal vents on the bottom of the ocean by picking sulfur-fixing microbes off their chests  

one year on: a photographic essay on Afghanistan one the anniversary of the fall of the flight of Aschraf Ghani and the takeover by the Taliban  

obligate predators: German town releases house cat from a special lockdown but questions linger on protecting nature from our feline friends  

rivers run dry: the climate emergency propelling the drought is making the Rhein and Danube unnavigable

o-positive: researchers discover a method for changing blood types (see also) of donated organs—increasing potential for compatibility for beneficiaries

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.