Friday 19 April 2024

(11. 498)


one year ago: technological anti-solutions, a classic from Blondie (1980) plus Neil Agarwal gives us a stratospheric tour

two years ago: another MST3K classic, persistent COVID denialism plus renovating the Kodak R&D building

three years ago: the Salyut programme (1971), more MST3K, a Google Earth time lapse, shelters build after San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake plus the changing interiors of the Oval Office

four years ago: the Lada, keeping up with the news, Mambo No 5 (1999), more McMansion Hell, Animal Crossing tarot, St Expeditus, a pioneering virologist, failed attempts at wildlife photography plus a goatforsaken place

five years ago: an extended weekend, Mid-Century Modern  maps, the bees of Notre Dame, more accidental art plus an optical illusion to parse

Thursday 18 April 2024

yub-yub (11. 497)

Having a distinct and confused memory of the redacted Ewoks on the reverse of Kenner’s action figure packaging teased ahead of the release of The Revenge of the Jedi—though I think I had acquired Chief Chirpa and shaman Logray after seeing the the third instalment (and have a stack of these cards packed away somewhere)—I could really appreciate the depth of this cultural reference, courtesy of Super Punch (thanks for mining Xwitter on all our behalves), of artist Kyle Drayton’s homage with these custom creations. Despite vocal detractors claiming the denizens of the moon of Endor were included as a pandering appeal to children, director George Lucas in part based the guerrilla fighters, between the hapless Gamorrean guard Guard and Admiral Akbar, off of the Viet Cong and Taliban who resisted the US and Soviets respectively and has been employed as a derogatory designation for allies regarded as primitive.

10x10 (11. 496)

the cloud under the seas: the fleet of secret submarine cable repair ships 

sarbox: US Supreme Court appears skeptical about charging January Sixth rioters with obstruction of justice as defined by a law made in the aftermath of the Enron accounting scandal  

mix-and-match orthography: how Japanese writers navigate a choice between four writing systems—via Cardhouse  

walled gardens have deep roots: the imperative of rewilding (previously) the internet lest the duopolies take over—via Waxy 

bongo bash: Wild Stereo Drums (1961)  

embroidered surveillance: cross-stitch works of closed-circuit security camera footage  

the questor tapes: a 1974 television sci-fi drama about an android with incomplete programming by Star Trek alumni Gene L Coon, D C Fontana and Gene Roddenberry—via r/Obscure Media  

tegelwippen: Dutch towns compete to remove garden paving and embrace weeds—via Miss Cellania  

voir dire: jury selection continues for the criminal trial of Donald J Trump—with some potential jurors being unintentionally doxed by the media 

 atlas 2.0: Boston Dynamics’ new humanoid robot


one year ago: Atelier Elvira, an unwoke chatbot plus assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: more gachapons plus an introduction to risography

three years ago: the launch of the Disney Channel (1983), an experimental light house plus Wham in China (1985)

four years ago: more links to enjoy, the International Amateur Radio Union plus The Spirits Book (1897)

five years ago: concrete monoliths moved by hand plus Mueller Report redactions

Wednesday 17 April 2024

metaphysics of quality (11. 495)

Finally published after receiving one hundred twenty-one letters of rejection for the manscript, the fictionalised autobiography of author and philosopher Robert M Pirsig recounts the seventeen day cross-continent odyssey with his his son as a vehicle to reconcile and reconnect with his past self, driven insane by speculation on the nature of the Good and subjected to electro-convulsive therapy which irretrievably changed his personality. Pilgrims who trace his journey from Montana to California can pay homage to the motorcycle subject to repair, newly acquired by and on display at the Smithsonian. Along the way, the unnamed narrator encounters a foil in a friend who chose not to learn how to care for his expensive bike, hoping for the best but relying on professional mechanics when things do go wrong, and in contrast is able to trouble-shoot his ride, a comparative jalopy—framing the trip with many dense and introspective discussions on knowledge, belief and value—and argues persuasively that one can accept, embrace the dichotomy of the rational and romantic (like Nietzche’s Apollonian/Dionysian division) to avoid falling into gumption traps, the motivation that drains enthusiasm, reinforcing reluctance to change and adjudge situations as they come with less pragmatism. The discursive diary of ideas was for a generation a way to bookend the counterculture movement and temper some of the exuberance and idealism, like the schism in the narrator’s own mind, and function and flourish in a world beset with rules, norms and progress. Pirsig offers the disclaimer that, despite the title, his work should “in no way be associated with that great body of factual information relating to orthodox Zen Buddhist practise. It’s not very factual on motorcycles either.”


one year ago: Bavaria wants to bring its nuclear power plants back online

two years ago: more on interstellar interlopers, Dolly Parton wardrobed like Easter eggs plus assorted links worth revisiting

three years ago: more links to enjoy, Zalgo text plus a UFO sighting in Aurora, Texas (1897)

four years ago: more links worth revisiting, an observation confirming the Two Body Problem, some sporting music plus the invention of hiking as a pastime

five years ago: even more links to enjoy plus the World Chess Association logo

Tuesday 16 April 2024

hearts and minds (11. 494)

An 1959 early spring testimony before an American senate subcommittee on the effects of “Red China Communes on the United States” by an Asian correspondent for the Miami News intent on self-promotion and advancing a misinformed pet theory firmly solidified the neologism of brainwashing (with derivative terms) as common political parlance. The deposition by the reporter turned propagandist (alleged a covert CIA agent) against the spread of Communism convinced the public and policy-makers that the Chinese (and others) had devised a scientific method for turning people’s love and allegiances, allegedly uncovering the method of “mind-attack” and their word for, “brain-washing.” The original term xวnวŽo (ๆด—่…ฆ, “wash brain”) was employed to describe the coercive persuasion used by the Maoist to integrate more reactionary members of society and was a popular pun, not an official policy or approach, on the Taoist custom of xวxฤซn (ๆด—ๅฟƒ , “cleaning the heart and mind”) with both understood to be something more akin to enlightenment, disabusing and not the reprogramming or deprogramming that captured the American public, with the help of the journalist’s tract, other reporting and films and television as well as the Zeitgeist of the Red Scare and sinophobia, fears that loyalties were susceptible to nefarious and scientifically compelling influences that caused collaboration and defection. For all the pseudoscience and propagandising, brainwashing did fill a linguist and psychological lacuna, a gap that was packed with the attendant moral panic and supposed countermeasures with psychological warfare and the rise of home-grown, domestic cults that subsumed what they purported to prevent. More from MIT Technology Review at the link up top. Why don’t you pass the time by playing a little solitaire?

passerine dream (11. 493)

Via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links, not only do we learn that our avian friends also dream, singing silently in their sleep, but researchers are able after a fashion, to decipher these nocturnal rehearsals by carefully monitoring unconscious muscle contractions along a bird subject’s vocal tract, akin to eye-movements during REM sleep, amplifying and correlating the series of calls with observed behaviours. These dream sounds, using a Great Kiskadee (pitogue, bichofeo—a member of the tyrant flycatcher family and named onomatopoeically for its exuberant call, bien-te-veo or “I see you well”) from Central and South America for the study, suggest that the specimen was replaying a daytime territorial defence with an encroaching intruder, insightful surely but given the nature of dreaming, perhaps only part of the story. More from New Atlas on the methodology, anatomy of birdsong and a sound-clip at the link above.

mnemonic movements (11. 492)

Via fellow internet peripatetic Messy Nessy Chic, we discover a 1983 self-defence manual authored by Australian Bob Jones—a martial arts instructor who invented (along with fellow consultant, fight choreographer and stunt artist Richard Norton) his own technique called Zen Do Kai a decade earlier and which is still in practice and chief security detail for the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Joe Cocker, ABBA, David Bowie and Fleetwood Mac—inspired by protection and training he had provided for Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks during their world tours. Learning of her bodyguard’s side project with this book based on a series of reflexive, subconscious kicks and thrusts perfected as second nature under threat by repetition and recitation, Nicks immediately agreed to contribute and helped demonstrate, appearing in a spread of photographs throughout the volume as well as on the cover. It is unclear whether it was Nicks’ stage-routine that influenced some of these actions or the other way around. More at the links above. FEAR—that is, false estimate of the actual reality.

web elements (11. 491)

Via Waxy, we discover a unique time of digital time capsule in this tribute and trove of early 1990s clip art collections (see previously), capturing a snapshot of the decade frozen in time, like contemporary advertising ephemera—which were also informed by the graphic templates in the era before computers when designers had libraries of pre-printed icons at their disposal—showcasing obsolete technologies, vintage fashions and monoculture. More from Benj Edwards’ Vintage Computing and Gaming at the link up top, plus search for yourself, rummaging through the DiscMaster archives.


one year ago: the Shrug Guy from Wikipedia plus a new notional system

two years ago: a moveable feast

three years ago: assorted links to revisit 

four years ago: more found art, St Drogo, hug a tree plus flag mashups

five years ago: AI gives us the answers we want to hear plus Notre Dame in flames