Sunday, 19 January 2020

space ghost coast-to-coast

Disappointingly—though somewhat heartening at the same time since these cadets are far from deserving anything suggestive of a Star Fleet uniform but perhaps to be seen as siding with the Rebellion during the battle on the forest moon of Endor—there’s been a reported preview of the new design for the US Space Force (previously) proposed battle dress, which is inexplicably patterned like the digital woodland camouflage of the landlubbing, terrestrial services.
We doubt that this is able to cloak anything in outer space and would have the opposite effect of making individuals more conspicuous. Judging by the rank on the exemplar shown, it’s intended for none other the branch’s commander, four-star general John “Jay” Raymond. The Department of Defense responded to the deserved onslaught of ridicule citing cost-savings measures by using surplus fabric and engendering a sense of cohesion by matching the other branches during joint operations. Any one of us would like to captain a starship, just not in this timeline, defending Trump Towers Icaria Planum from attack.

all hail hailstone!

Premiering in theatres a full nine months prior to the debut of Charlie Chapman’s The Great Dictator and at a time when America’s isolationist stance was strongly entrenched, the short film You Nazty Spy!—starring the Three Stooges as Europe’s up and coming fascist leaders, recruited and spurred into coups d’état by arms dealers Misters Ixnay, Onay and Amscray—was first shown on this day in 1940 and was the first Hollywood production to satirise the Third Reich and Adolf Hitler.
This production and similar lampoons helped raise public awareness of the threat of the Nazi regime and light comedy was generally not subject to the same scrutiny that the newly enacted Hays code applied to serious drama restricting overt political content and complying with the courtesy of lèse-majesté. The short opens with a title card disclaiming, “Any resemblance between characters in this picture and any persons, living or dead, is a miracle.”


Though still the duke and duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will no longer be styled his and her royal highness and remit the public funding that had gone into renovating their chosen residence and forego future tax-payer support in light of their decision to step back from their public duties and spend part of the year in North America.
This month—with quite a few days on balance remaining—has already been quite a year already so there was precious little bandwidth available for these developments on top of everything else. It is difficult to forecast what this semi-abdication means for the couple and for their family—seeming untenable that one could partially recuse oneself and equally fought to be a gainfully employed private person without commercialising one’s name. It is also quite incredulous that this news and the intrusive and racist way it unfolded is taking sufficient oxygen out of the room so that there’s far more acute fatigue over Brexit and the Johnson cabinet’s commitment to withdraw from the European Union at the end of the month.

lignes géométriques et ondoyantes

Born on this day in Davos in 1889 (†1943), artist Sophie Taeuber-Arp honed her skills across multiple disciplines including sculpture, dance, interior design and textiles becoming one of the most important and influential forces in concrete and abstract art, and informed the Dadaist movement, a co-signatory of the Züricher manifesto.
Her weaving and textile work from 1916 were acknowledged as some of the pioneering constructivist exemplars of the age, along with Piet Mondrian and Kasimir Malevich and brought performative dance and cabaret to the shared philosophical front and was also the first artist to reference polka-dots. Confidants including Joan Miró and Wassily Kandinsky, Marcel Duchamp, and Sonia and Robert Delauney, Taeuber-Arp exhibited successfully in Strasbourg before founding a Constructivist review and led their recampment of their artists’ freehold to Grasse in Vichy France during Nazi occupation, expiring tragically pre-maturely due to carbon-monoxide poisoning from an ill-fitting stove pipe. Taeuber-Arp has previously been the subject of many retrospectives, appearing on the 50 CHF note from 1995 to 2016 and was honoured with a Google doodle.

Saturday, 18 January 2020


economies of ale: after a decade of steep declines, UK pub numbers are seeing a slight uptick charted

parkverbotszone: plans for the future IKEA am Westbahnhof in Vienna is being designed for a post-auto world

women hold up half the sky: Liang Jun, the tractor driving figure, iconically featured on the one yuan bill, has passed away, aged ninety

best in show: winners and honourable-mentions of the Ocean Art Photography competition

the id, the super-ego, and the psyche: the strange, singular encounter between Salvador Dalí and Sigmund Freud

triangle man, triangle man: celebrating thirty years of They Might Be Giants’ (a reference to Don Quixote’s tilting at windmills) seminal album Flood

there and back again: a remembrance of Christopher Tolkien (*1925 – †2020), executor of his father’s literary estate and map-maker of Middle Earth


In order to distance the media empire and its paracosms from the toxic propagandizing subsidiary masquerading as a news outlet, Disney’s studio mergers (themselves the product of a string of prior consolidations beginning in 1933) will be known henceforth as Twentieth Century and Searchlight Pictures.

railbanked or atchison, topeka and santa fe

At its height, the rail network of the United States was somewhere approaching half a million kilometres, with now over half that infrastructure abandoned, superannuated. Maps Mania takes us on a whistle-stop tour on the extensive out-of-service (that is—railbanked, see also) routes. There are a lot of resources to explore here in addition to the interactive maps that give the history of the lines, accompanying blog with lots of images and other depots for departing on virtual journeys.