Thursday 7 December 2023

9x9 (11. 169)

sub-space: the potential problems of communications with relativistic spacecraft, traveling at a fraction the speed of light with solar-sails  

new quality productivity: Chinese buzz-words of the year, including a coinage by President Xi 

ailex: artist Alicia Framis announces her marriage to a hologram  

der nussknacker: the Fรผchtner family who made the first traditional nutcracker is still in the business  

wallsynth: Love Hultรฉn’s custom, one-of-a-kind musical creations have a Mid-Century Modern aesthetic  

the day of the animals: a 1977 nature rampage film from William Girdler  

network effects: building a better, unbundled Craigslist turned out like the trajectory of Twitter 

american dream: Investopedia’s most searched economic terms of the year reveal a lot about how people feel about their financial situation 

 in space, no one can hear you kern: when lost in the inner Solar System, typography can come in handy


one year ago: Blue Marble (1972), Sovereign Citizens plus using AI to invent a language

two years ago: galaxies outside our own plus assorted links to revisit

three years ago: birdsong in December, more links to enjoy, non-conterminious territory plus more words of the year

four years ago: the Guzman Prize awarded (1969), Scientology HQ plus a lunar cruise

five years ago: the etymology of chauvinism, Dr Magnus Hirschfeld, circular economies, more movie typography plus juxtaposing photography


Wednesday 6 December 2023

with so many light years to go and things to be found (to be found) (11. 168)

Hitting number one on the UK singles chart (a feat repeated and sustained in over twenty five other national markets) on this day in 1986, the song by the Swedish rock group Europe was inspired by Space Oddity and with a keyboard riff that lead singer Joey Tempest had had experimented with for six years (and surely carried in his head the whole time though we are glad he does not have to endure that earworm alone any longer), it was originally conceived as a concert-opener before being expanded and limned as a complete tune. 


one year ago: the Irish Free State (1922), Finnish independence, assorted links to revisit, stock price charting plus seasonally obscure terminology

two years ago: a reconstructed fable

three years ago: passive immunity, the bust of Nefertiti, the Encyclopedia Britannica plus the Villon Song

four years ago: greatest hits by decade—all the way back to prehistory plus the Washington Post waltz

five years ago: more links to enjoy


Tuesday 5 December 2023

luna luna (11. 167)

Virtually lost and obscure since its 1987 exhibition of modern art presented as a fun-fair featuring the works of Keith Haring, Roy Lichtenstein, Dalรญ, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sonia Delaunay and David Hockney among others, the amusement park originally installed in Hamburg under the direction of curator Andrรฉ Heller has been restored and will be a travelling-circus with its first stop in Los Angeles. Among the some thirty original attractions will return albeit as non-functioning rides include a carousel by Haring and a Ferris wheel by Basquiat and a fun-house maze designed by Lichtenstein. The planned revival is sponsored by performer and entrepreneur Drake and his DreamCrew team.  More from designboom at the link up top.

cloudland (11. 166)

Via Kottke guest-blogger Edith Zimmerman, we are treated a random cool old song with a performance of Pere Ubu 1989 song “Breathe” on Sunday Night, a Michelob Presents Music Hour sadly only running for two season and hosted by Jools Holland and David Sanborn showcasing jazz and eclectic artists, from their seventh studio album—the title record named after (see also) a resort village in northwestern Georgia that became a getaway destination for vacationing Florida residents to escape some of the summer heat. More recommendations worth checking out at the link above.


one year ago: a Vogue issue featuring Darth Vader plus assorted links to revisit 

two years ago: Flash Gordon (1980) plus the art of Matt Semke

three years ago: Krampus Night, World Soil Day, a boatswain pipe plus more Yuletide customs

four years ago: Pantone’s colour for the coming year plus icy atmospheric phenomena

five years ago: the Bermuda Triangle plus some local Christmas Markets

Monday 4 December 2023

the peace ship (11. 165)

With detectable parallels to modern day technological utopianists and branded altruism, industrialist and automaker Henry Ford launched his chartered vessel Oskar II from Hoboken, New Jersey on this day in 1915 on as trans-Atlantic mission to petition for a cease-fire in Europe and a de-escalation (anti-preparedness) in armaments. Inviting prominent pacifists to join, Ford hoped that the audacity of the act would spur a truce among belligerents, Ford’s plan was at first greeting with respect by the press and public, however opinion began to sour on this attempt at amateur diplomacy with in-fighting amongst the activist and fabricated claims that the European powers were willing to negotiate, at the behest of Ford or anyone else, fears that such antics might make the situation worse—and for embarking during an influenza pandemic, which spread through crew and passengers during the five-day voyage. Violently ill and receiving a cold reception from skeptical delegates in Oslo, Ford retired to his hotel suite, granting one talk with reporters (not mentioning the Peace Ship) before convinced to seek out of the county by way of a steamer departing from Bergen. Despite the organiser’s conspicuous absence and the inability to secure any meetings of consequence with any officials with influence, there were several other ports-of-call around Europe, under the banner of the Neutral Conference for Continuous Mediation, still financed by Ford up until 1917 when it became clear that US entry into fighting was inevitable.

sparkle, sparkle (11. 164)

OpenAI and services offering AI powered recommendations and enhancement, like conference transcription and summaries (quite literally turning a meeting into an email) are representing their synthetic-backed features with the emoji ✨ to convey a non-lexicographically sanctioned sense of wonder and magic—which of course is a nice corollary to Arthur C Clark’s “indistinguishable from magic” law whereas any sufficiently opaque process might impel one to conclude the same. This friendly little flourish also begs the question, like with the distinction between online and IRL activities, what it means to label something becoming ingrained and manifest in everything.

a shark-infested rice pudding (11. 163)

The Morning News directs our attention to loving and thoroughgoing curation of neglected, overlooked or otherwise forgotten works of literature, like the title collection of three novellas by Sylvia Wright. Uncategorisable as an experimental reflection on the craft (and inability) to write fiction, despite publishers trying to dress it with a cover that vaguely suggested a romance novel, though Wright’s single work of “fiction” made be highly obscure, we are familiar with Wright’s linguistic contributions in the capacity of a columnist for Harper’s and coining the term mondegreen, which relates back to her stream-of-thought trilogy. More neglected books and forgotten authors at the link above.


one year ago: the Council of Trent plus a mysteriously abandoned ship

two years ago: more German words of the year,  Smoke on the Water, fifty-two more lessons plus a fun town-builder

three years ago: assorted links to revisit, the Feast of St Barbara, a duct tape prom plus Washington disbands the Continental Army

four years ago: the 1913 modern art show at the New York Armoury

five years ago: RIP Spongebob creator Stephen Hillenburg, a robot crewmember joins the ISS plus a superlative collection of alternate cartography

Sunday 3 December 2023

you stood and you watched as my baby left town (11. 162)

To the surprise of songwriter and music producer Geoff Stephens, the band formed of sessions players to record his novelty composition “Winchester Cathedral” climbed to number one on the US, Canadian and Australian charts of this day in 1966 for a run of several weeks. The New Vaudeville Band channelled the music hall style and megaphone vocals of Rudy Vallรฉe of the 1920s and the 1930s. The eleventh-century monumental titular building is the mother church of the ancient Diocese of Winchester and is the largest medieval cathedral in the world, only now surpassed by the later St Peter’s, Our Lady of Peace, Liverpool’s and St John the Divine in New York, and is a major tourist draw and pilgrimage destination as the resting place of Jane Austen.  Though only teaming up for this one-off gig, the New Vaudeville Band collaborated on several albums through 1988.