Wednesday, 31 October 2018

the march of folly

Via the ever-excellent Nag on the Lake, we are introduced to the intricate, kinetic wooden sculptures of Colorado artist John Buck whose characters tell a fitting allegory for our times and was created specifically in reaction to America’s approaching mid-term elections.
The title of the collection references the 1984 study of the same name that examines the thread of a government paradoxically acting against its own better interests through history from Troy to Vietnam by historian Barbara W Tuchman and couching it in contemporary times with timeless symbol to be teased out of the parade floats that urge the procession onwards. Learn more and see the sculptures in action at the links above.

october surprise

We’re all probably too fatigued already to weather another political bombshell and while the term was informed during the previous US election-cycle and came into common-parlance during the following presidential run-off between Richard Nixon and George McGovern, on this day fifty years ago (1968) President Lyndon Johnson announced probably the first non-spontaneous, last-minute policy shift by ordering cessation of all bombardment in North Vietnam.
Johnson cited progress in the Paris peace negotiations as his motivation but his opponents accused him of making a desperate overture to voters and as a sort of retribution for a series of unfortunate coincidences that tarnished his campaign in 1964 and nearly cost him the election: the unexpected retirement of Nikita Khrushchev, a gay sex scandal of one of Johnson’s top aides, a successful nuclear missile test in China and Labour taking control of the UK. The Vietnam October Surprise failed, however, to carry Hubert Humphrey, Johnson’s vice president, to victory and the Nixon administration continued hostilities. Ironically, the subsequent October Surprise in 1972 that helped the incumbent hold office and defeat Barry Goldwater was a promise delivered by Henry Kissinger that “peace was at hand” and that ground forces were to be withdrawn from Vietnam in the following year.

happy halloween!

As always, thanks for visiting and spooky tidings to you and yours!

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

rocky horus

Via Messy Nessy Chic, we are treated to the 1981 production from Egyptian director Mohammed Shebl, who had several horror credits to his name, called Fangs (al’Anyab, ุงู„ุฃู†ูŠุงุจ)—an homage to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. The plot, with ample musical interludes, is faithful to the original up through the first act (plenty of glam vampires but nothing too transgressive to sneak past the censors) and certainly demonstrates a degree of craft and talent that separates it from other knock-offs, like the nearly unwatchable “Turkish Star Wars.”

jus soli

Via Boing Boing, we learn that Trump intends to nullify the provision of the Fourteenth Amendment to the US constitution (previously here and here), by means of an executive order, that guarantees birthright citizenship to children born within the United States’ territory regardless of the status of their parents.
Though rarer and usually qualified in most of the rest of the world, thirty-one countries in the Americas automatically confer citizenship (though with America, also comes the onerous burden of taxes on worldwide income, which along with citizens Eretria one cannot opt out of) proponents of unrestricted jus soli (law of the soil, as opposed to jus sanguinis which puts an additional requirement for citizenship that one or both parents to have been born in the country) argue that without these protections, we risk creating a disenfranchised underclass and more stateless persons. During the interview, Trump claims he is already in consultation with counsel on drafting the executive order, and though it is unclear how he has the authority to undo a duly ratified amendment, one of his Svengalis might have shown him the clause “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” and explained that it is meant to exclude children born to enemy forces engaged in hostile occupation of the country’s territory and convinced him it’s referring to the caravans of murderous migrants massing at the borders.

∼ ≺

Via Duck Soup, we’re served a nice demystification of a free market fairy tale—that of preference and predatory capitalism. It’s well established that once a chain operation moves into a market, if local, established businesses cannot compete, they’ll eventually be edged out by dint of inefficiencies and although the community may mourn the loss of one of its anchors, customers will ultimately be better served by the franchise.
It’s a bit of cold comfort and consolation but what it relies on illusion preference (the symbols above are shorthand in that field of study for equivalence and strong preference) that predicates the narrative on flattening out all companies as entrepreneurs running lemonade stands—which is vastly far off from the case of a local shop competing with a multinational corporation. This scenario reminds me of monopsony—the big company will necessarily enjoy much larger margins for profit because it has great purchasing power for supplies, advertising and even recruiting labour. The big corporation does not even necessarily need to undercut the competition, charging the same or even more for a comparable good or service or attract and retain loyal patrons, but magnitude will eventually prevail—that is, until people and governments are disabused of the myth of the Invisible Hand that belies its appeal.


Oxford Words guest blogger Elyse Graham gifts us with a name for the phenomenon that coincided and defined the transition from the early internet into the period called the Web 2.0 when the rise of social media platforms made going online interactive—for virtually all whereas it was the bailiwick of a few companies and caretakers previously—and not just something to be read or watched: folksonomy.
Information theorist Thomas Vander Wal coined the idea in 2004 for the informal systems of curation and classification (a portmanteau of folk and taxonomy) that were being developed through labels and hashtags. Whereas thanks to advances in search engine indexing, visiting websites and bookmarking websites could be an uncategorised activity (Everything is Miscellaneous was a 2007 book on the power of the digital disorder and the lack of an authoritative card catalogue), sharing seems to need a tag of some sort—even if it’s made conspicuous by its absence. Folksonomies have moved beyond being a utilitarian tool for grouping and information retrieval and have taken on a life of their own as stage whispers and theatrical asides, revelling more in their unhelpful, for the nonce specificity rather than defining broader genre and genus.

stochastic terrorism

Before virtue signalling, red-pills and dog-whistles, someone formulated the title term, borrowing from the discipline of mathematics and control theory that describes something randomly determined, to define the use of mass-communication as a means of rabble-rousing and provoking violence that fall within the statistical tolerances of what we’ve come to accept as unsurprising but each incident is in isolation itself unpredictable and unexpected.
We know the drill.  We know that the words of demagogues have the power to agitate, and we deputise and acknowledge that tragic outcomes—though avoidable—are inevitable.  We are then left to deal with the consequences of those emboldened and benighted whose cult-leaders by this act of tribute are kept beyond reproach and responsibility.

Monday, 29 October 2018


A lot of the reasoned decisions that Angela Merkel has made during her leadership, spanning thirteen years thus far, have been characterised as reactionary when in fact they were very much premeditated, like the Engeriewende, mothballing nuclear power plants, that seemed to happen in the wake of the Fukushima disaster whose phasing-out was planned for a long time, or the choice to open the borders to asylum-seekers after not publically promising a young refugee that there was definitely a place for her and her family when the deliberation was measured and many were consulted.
Merkel’s announcement not to seek re-election was strongly hinted at in the summer, though the nature of her future plans were not fully limned out—that she would be retiring from politics altogether (those there’s always the chance for a much-deserved encore) and relinquish party-leadership while staying on through her term.  What do you think?  Endorsing no particular successor and vowing to bow out earlier should snap-, off-cycle-elections be called, Merkel hopes her departure and concession of an inflection point will help restore civility to a polarised and fractious constituency, which was marked by years of partnership and outreach with other factions.

the yellow emperor’s inner canon

I first heard about this provocative project a week ago or so when the individual behind it Kuang-yi Ku got an honourable mention at Dutch Design Week for his thought-experiment but thought the gross-out factor was a bit too high—and while the images are still disturbing, Project Tiger Penis, drawing on emerging advances in the biomedical sciences and the ability to grow, print meat in the laboratory to produce authentic substitutes for articles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (Zhลngyฤซ, ไธญๅŒป) did seem to resonate as a way of protecting endangered fauna and flora that are often tortured or poached for their ingredients, whose pharmacological merits are sometimes a matter of dispute.
It becomes even more relatable, I think, given the context that some religious figures have expressed a willingness to deem artificial meats in general and lab-sourced pork specifically as kosher or halal. What do you think? While reserving qualms for putting energy and efforts into making exotic potions might seem reasonable to non-practitioners at first blush (especially when examining it in isolation and outside of the customs that inform it), it behoves us to reason out that it’s presently highly questionable what good we derive from eating animals to begin with, while so many of us do as a matter of upbringing.  Without considering the impact and consequence of appetites for a moment, taste and choice are different than what can be subjected to science but one approach and way of thinking ought not to be privileged above the other because neither has found the panacea or cure for ageing. 

unkonstruktives misstrauensvotum

Following disappointing election returns in Bavaria and Hessen, Angela Merkel announced her intent not to seek to keep her position as chairwoman of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU/CSU) party, a post she has held for eighteen years.
A change in party leadership does not, however, translate to an automatic departure from the chancellorship, the incumbent since 2005—soliciting both relief and consternation. The ballot outcomes were still good enough to keep her party in first place but the rather precipitous loss of a tenth of voters plus the eroding, splintered confidence in their centre-left coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD—die Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands)—came as a humbling shock.

bilancia dei pagamenti

Rome and its freshly-minted conservative and anti-establishment government’s on-going strife with the EU over its fiscal policy, the country and the supranational body at loggerheads over a magnanimous and expansive budget versus a perceived push for unpopular austerity, is resulting in credit rating agencies—arguably their own special variety of bully—downgrading the outlook on Italy’s ability to fund the country or service its debts.
Banksy’s self-destructing piece of art seems to be a very apt meme to reference for this awkward standoff and stalemate, though departing from civic norms is not the same as impugning the sacred cows of the auction house. Neither party seems willing to budge but Brussels has signalled that it does not want to court an open, public battle between a populist coalition and the sedate commitments of sustainability and stability. At the same time, negotiations continue and Italy believes a resolution will be reached without any rash actions and stop short of outright revolt or renewed threats to quit the union.

Sunday, 28 October 2018


subscribe to our newsletter: having to complete with social media walled-gardens, websites have gotten to be pretty needy, via Nag on the Lake

torch song trilogy: Theresa May Dancing to Stuff, via Everlasting Blört
gifaanisqatsi: a rather smoothing random mix of animations whose time dilations fit with the 1983 documentary about “worlds out of balance” (previously with GIF), via Things Magazine

got to go where the love is: a number from Van Morrison’s new album

safety matches versus strike anywhere: designer Helen Stickler creates messages of activism out of vintage matchbook covers

sortation: Pirate Party in Iceland proposes to select at random ten individuals to address parliament every month  


Since working in Wiesbaden, I get pangs of guilt for not having visited neighbouring Frankfurt am Main (previously here and here) terribly often—especially given the ease of exploration and ample opportunities, not to mention all the things we haven’t seen. I took a long meandering walk through the city, beginning with the post-industrial wastelands that surrounded the Hauptbahnhof—the Gutleut quarter, the former manufacturing sector of the metropolis, grown around the export hub and marvelled at the Empire Age power plant erected in 1894, burning coal until 1994 when it made the transition to natural gas.
With quite a few detours, I made my way across town to see the Poelzig Building—known as the IG-Farben-Gebaüde. Completed in 1930, the compound was the headquarters of the chemical concern (the synthetic dye industry syndicate—the then one of the largest companies in the world), architect Hans Poelzig’s design embodied the New Objectivity (Neue Sachlichkeit) movement of the inter-war years.
The mammoth though airy and sparsely modern space was a deemed a fitting showcase for the company that not only pioneered synthetic oils and discovered the first antibiotic, the research of the conglomerate played an indispensable role in pressing Germany and the world to conflict a second time—despite being publicly reviled and scapegoated by elements of the far right. After the surrender of Nazi Germany, the complex became the Supreme Allied Command and until 1952, the High Commissioner for Germany—earning it the informal moniker, the Pentagon of Europe—the US Defence Department completed in 1943.
Afterwards, it hosted the US Army V Corps, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers with the US withdrawing and returning the building to the state in 1995.
The ensemble of buildings became the Westend campus of the University of Frankfurt and houses the departments of philosophy, history, theology, linguistics and North American studies. The nude nymph statue at the reflecting pool was removed, at the request of Mamie Eisenhower, during American occupation, the commanding general’s wife deeming it inappropriate for a military installation. Another feature that the main building is known for are its paternoster lifts—which were formerly accessible to the visiting public but are presently inoperable.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

we’re all stoned or pacified while the boogeymen organise

We’re indebted to Hyperallergic’s Edward M Gรณmez’ graceful and accomplished interview with Yoko Ono’s urgent reprisal and nimbler, svelter remix of a selection of her earlier recordings with Warzone. Re-mastering her repertoire with the knowing passion that indeed our future depends on it, Ono (previously) with the help of keyboard artist Doveman and a chorus of animals revisits her classic anthems that have retained their resonance and taken on a new currency. Check out their encounter and dialogue at Hyperallergic at the link up top.

fancy dress party

In case you are in need of a bit more inspiration to come up with a Halloween custom as the holiday creeps closer and close, why not consult your friendly neighbourhood AI.

Outdoing last year’s training session, Janelle Shane taught her neural network (previously) on a dataset of over seven thousand outfit ideas and had her efforts profiled in the New York Times, with illustrations of the learning process, trial and error illustrated by Jessia Ma—even the ones that seemed to defy sense and representation.
Check them all out at the links above and perhaps find a character that speaks to you for trick-or-treating or your office party—and yes, there’s even a whole sub-set of ill-advised sexy costumes.

What are your favourites?


A peaceful march was organised as a counter and what turned out to to be a larger and longer-lived assembly began at the main train station and would face off a campaign rally staged by Alternative für Deutschland ahead of Hessen casting their votes on Sunday, most European elections falling on that day of the week since with most businesses closed, participation can be maximised.
Constituencies in the US probably still merit a holiday to help fight aggressive disenfranchisement and other barriers to the ballot. Police presence was reassuring, including this one figuring sporting a jacket reading POLIZEI SOCIAL MEDIA. I couldn’t quite comprehend the way that that’s supposed to be read.

Friday, 26 October 2018

first duty assignment

Via Slashdot, we learn that CBS is in the pre-production phase of a new animated series of the Star Trek franchise from contributing writer and voice actor of Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty show (also consummate fan, membership being a bit like being able to speak Esperanto) Mike McMahan.
The half-hour episodes will take on life and culture in the Federation and working in Star Fleet with a comedic angle and is named Star Trek: Lower Decks, in reference to one of the more compelling episodes from The Next Generation (previously), the storyline following the lives of four junior officers vying for a promotion to advance their careers. This portrayal that offers a peak behind the scenes and focus that brings background members of the crew into the foreground (the term bottle episode comes from the original series, referring to shows with a non-recurring cast and mostly confined to existing interiors as “ship-in-a-bottle” shoots) has proved particularly appealing to audiences. Learn more at the links up top.

semantic shifting

Via Marginal Revolution, we are directed to Merriam-Webster dictionary Time Traveller service that tracks the first occurrences of English words at least in print. Plugging in my birth year—1976—the results are a little bit jarring, think such concepts are either more veteran or truly contemporary neologisms, we find that among manner other borrowings and coinages the language has received: boat people, body piercing, cosmic background radiation, dream catcher, exit poll, killer bee, meme, restless leg syndrome, waitperson and wannabe. A century ago in 1918, we had minted: cabin fever, D-Day, deep-dish, Europocentric, extrovert, goop, humanoid, plaintext, processed cheese and wonky—just to date a few.

bobby (boris) pickett and the crypt-kickers

We enjoyed this appreciation of the quintessential Halloween anthem, the 1962 novelty song “Monster Mash,” from Tedium—delving into the piece’s musical inspirations and long legacy of homages.
Aspiring actor and musician Pickett was performing a cover of the Diamonds’ “Little Darin’” one evening but substituted the middle monologue with a horror movie exposition of a bridge (in the voice of Boris Karloff)  and the audience cheered, and drawing from the earlier novelty hit, The Hollywood Argyles’ “Alley Oop,” and the dance sensation the Mashed Potato, captured by Dee Dee Sharp’s “Mashed Potato Time” and “Gimme Gravy,” Pickett went on to collaborate and compose the graveyard smash. Among the original Crypt-Kickers was pianist Leon Russell. Listen to the song, covers and everything adjacent at the link above.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

perfect play or macky, micky, mucky, mocky

As an experiment to explore how norms and ethics might be introduced to artificial intelligence in a broad and general fashion, researchers, as Slashdot reports, have trained implicitly one such programme to play Pac-Man and win without gobbling up the ghosts.
The training was a balance between the programme’s drive for optimisation tempered with lessons from human players that avoided the ghosts, even at their most vulnerable, and eventually netted more ethically informed play. It’s not quite the level of trust that I would want in a moment of pursuit but I suppose it does illustrate the potential to build in moral false-safe measures.


A ride-hailing service that’s disrupted the business of food delivery and ordering-in—once nearly exclusively the domain of pizza, we learn via Duck Soup, is creating an empire of virtual franchises that only exist as menu-options when ordering from the service.
Of course it’s nothing new or novel to set up a booth or a concession within a larger venue, but it is strange to think of a branded concept “restaurant” existing only in the corner (without seats or a storefront) of a host kitchen of a larger food preparation operation, as hundreds of affiliates are revealed to be. What do you think? It’s an interesting way to pool resources and reputation but there’s also an inscrutable and alienated quality to it, like a letterbox business that’s not open to public inspection—sort of like the couriers themselves.

regnum, benfacta, carcer

Public Domain Review showcases another visually stunning and alluring work with the 1825 publication The Astrologer of the Nineteenth Century: Or, The Master Key of Futurirty, Being a Complete System of Astrology, Geomancy & Occult Science. Volumes such as these both informed and were reflections of a revival in the supernatural which had lost currency and credibility and been in decline since the Era of Enlightenment and was for the most part a repackaged anthology of previously serialised works, journals and a success almanac of ephemeridies, Latin for diaries—daily charts of the position of the planets in the sky consulted by navigators and astrologers alike.
Though the book includes sections on diverse magic practises including divination, prophecy and communing with the dead, the author places greater stock and confidence in celestial omens and warns his readers of the dangers of not heeding one’s horoscope. Discover a gallery of select illustrations and peruse the whole book at the link up top.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

frolic & detour

Following the court case of a disgruntled employee who collected personal data of staff and released it to the public in order to embarrass and humiliate his former employer, we were introduced to an interesting concept of tort law and the limits of vicarious liability (respondeat superior) on the part of an employer for the acts of persons in its employ.
Derived from the 1834 case of Joel v Morison (no relation to the present defendant) that involved a pedestrian struck by a horse-drawn cart, to which the cart’s owner begged off due to the fact that the driver had taken a different route than the one he was assigned to visit an acquaintance and because of that deviation, was responsible for the accident. The court, however, ruled, “if servants, being on their master’s business, took a detour to call upon a friend, the master will be responsible… but if he was going on a frolic of his own, the master will not be held liable” and thus the driver was still covered for the negligent act while in the “course of employment” and the cart’s owner had to pay for damages. The company in the present day case is appealing the decision, arguing it cannot be held responsible for the data breach because the employee was acting maliciously and outside of his scope of practise.


connect-the-dots: the distant constellations discovered by NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope include the TARDIS and Godzilla

᚛แš‘แšŒแšแš‹᚜: an introduction to the Ogham script through the challenge of encoding an alphabet without spaces

teslaquila: a look at the other probable intent-to-use trademark applications from Elon Musk

frigate shoals: rather than being erased by sea level rise, a powerful storm obliterated an ecological significant Hawaiian archipelago over the weekend, via Super Punch

cloak & dagger: former Central Intelligence Agency’s Chief of Disguise reveals how field agents go undercover

geo-stationary: Chengdu announced plans to launch its own, fully adjustable artificial moon to replace street lighting

positive reinforcement

Wanting a routine and ritual to better her own practise, tinkerer and engineer Simone Giertz (designer of some hilariously unhelpful robots that are just glad that they can participate) is prototyping, we learn from Swiss Miss, a perpetual calendar with responsive buttons that light up like a golden star.
There are a lot of twee and coddling gimmicks lying in wait to ambush one’s attention but I certainly would not count this idea and method (you can use actual gold stars and a calendar too) among them. Sometimes by being too adult we are also too arrogant to understand how encouragement and motivation can nurture and enrich. Just as a recent episode of Hidden Brain masterfully exposited, many seasoned professionals might believe that their experience and expertise is insulted by consulting something as pedestrian and rudimentary as a check-list, much of the world—from rocket-science to brain-surgery—is run off simple protocols. None of us are above earning our gold stars either.


Ten years ago today, world stock exchanges underwent their sharpest decline in modern history—causing some ten percent of global wealth to sublimate in a single day’s worth of trading, despite emergency measures. “Bloody Friday,” which precipitated a period characterised as the Great Recession, occurred on the same day of the month as “Black Tuesday” of 1929, bringing down Wall Street following the crash in London markets in September and set off the Great Depression that affected all Western industrial economies.

the funk of forty-thousand years

I can’t exactly pin-point the appeal of this vintage audio grimoire—released by Capitol Records in 1969 as a double eight-track tape—except to say that people respond to stories and can’t exactly vouch for the accuracy of the history and witch culture presented, but this recording from Vincent Price, “Witchcraft-Magic: An Adventure in Demonology” is incredibly soothing and somehow enchanting.  With interstitials by the witches’ chorus from Hamlet, Price masterfully delivers anecdotes and instructional lessons of how to summon the unseen, as well as the antithetical, graphic explanation for witch-hunts over the fragility of the male ego and challenging the hierarchy.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

persons of exceptional prominence

The US National Archives in St Louis, Missouri, an independent agency of the government charged with curating the country’s historical records and transmitting the votes of the Electoral College to Congress, has a special collection of official military personnel files of war heroes, politicians and celebrities available for public inspection. There one can see the service records of notable people like Bea Arthur, Desi Arnaz, Joey Bishop, Frank Capra, Humphrey Bogart, Lucius Clay, Allen Funt, Theodore Geisel, Frank Herbert, Grace Hopper, the Kennedys, the Roosevelts and many others.

a slap in the face of public taste

Though the pronouncement from the Russian Minister of Culture that the first rapper was Soviet poet, graphic designer, playwright and actor Vladimir Mayakovsky (*1893 - †1930) struck me at first a little bit like Chancellor Gorkon saying “You have not experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon,” but just as I was pleased to see the ministry warming to the music genre as a legitimate art form, I appreciated the introduction to Mayakovsky’s works and could see the assertion as an arguably valid one.
Authoring pieces with titles like the eponymous, Backbone Flute, A Cloud in Trousers (excerpt below), So this is How I Turned into a Dog and A Flying Proletarian, one of the original framers signatories to the Furturist Manifesto and accomplished propagandist (though his relation with the state was never fully reconciled or rehabilitated after censorship), Mayakovsky was at the very least what could be characterised as an early influencer, cultivating a brand for himself and one could easily adapt his verse to a beat.

Of grandfatherly gentleness I am devoid,
There’s not a single grey hair in my soul!
Thundering the world with the might of my voice,
By I go—handsome,

carry on chili peppers

dark they were and golden-eyed

Our faithful antiquarian, JF Ptak’s Science Books, finds some lush, poetic language in the debate that spanned from the time when astronomer Percival Lowell’s assistant Carl O Lampland described the exacting photographs taken of the surface of Mars by Eugene Michel Antoniadi.

Lampland came by this poetic license by way of an Italian false-friend (falso amico) but the mistranslation sparked a vigorous back and forth about Martians and design that lasted from 1886 to 1909, when the photographer accounts for the optical illusions in the channels that captivated the public and attempts to finally dispel the persistent illusion. There’s an excerpt below in translation but be sure to visit the source up top for more verses and more finds from old books and journals.

Our observations lead us to divide the channels into several categories, namely: In diffuse shadows, more or less irregular, some of which appear double in a fleeting way; In gnarled blobs; In gray masses, shapeless and disjointed; In irregular, thin blurring, in the construction of a hedge of Martian seas, and widen into a vast and confused shadow further on, like new with their tributaries, seen at a great distance.

Monday, 22 October 2018

lending library

The Washington Post gives a kind and circumspect obituary for Todd Herbert Bol (*1956 - † 2018) who passed away over the weekend, succumbing to the cancer that took the life of his mother nearly a decade prior and inspired him to create his global, public bookshelf initiative as a tribute to her memory and generosity.
The first Little Free Library was posted outside his home and Bol’s network eventually would surpass the number of libraries built nation-wide in America by tycoon and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie—but that’s not even counting those affiliate champions who found much appeal in this simple concept and a little craft. There’s one in my neighbourhood that’s expanded to baby clothes and shoes as well as children’s books at the foot of a large apartment block, and this repurposed telephone booth that we encountered at a campsite in Switzerland.  The quick but enduring and endearing spread of Bol’s idea means his legacy will go on for a long, long time.  Give your local bookshelf a friendly acknowledgement and donate a good read.

planetary terrestrial analogues library

The European Space Agency has collaborated with numerous museums and university geological departments to curate a collection of rocks and minerals, BLDG Blog reports, as a heuristic tool for future exploration, reasoning out properties of extra terrestrial surfaces and strata by relating it to more mundane and familiar correspondents.
Jarosite, for example, is a rare volcanic rock that is testament to the presence of water on Earth and was found on Mars early on before any evidence of water had been discovered. The growing catalogue of space-prospectors consists of around forty-five hundred known Earth minerals, complimented with three hundred isolated from meteorites, one hundred thirty from the Moon and about eighty Martian samples.


Actual, malicious hacking is of course not the cultural heir to countless generations of superstition that evolved from mischievous spirits to gremlins and system bugs but the fact that the pedigree isn’t always knowable tends to flatten and conflate matters for everyone. It’s hard to know whether at work we’re not under some general assault or whether it’s just a matter of poor design and systemic overburdening whose annoyance over technical difficulties are little consolation insofar as oneself isn’t the target of an attack. Most routine disruptions are just that but lately things—both during work hours and at home—seemed to have turned a touch personal. We feel we reliably understand our catalogue of repertoire for correspondence and creation but when things start to appear to go missing and unindexed, I at least begin to feel gaslighted.
I began noticing that blog posts that I knew I had composed in the past—sometimes far beyond that relative horizon called “recent”—that I wanted to footnote a current topic with weren’t to be found, search internally and externally. Pictorial searches sometimes seem to net better yields but if I didn’t have faith in the fullness of my recollection and didn’t manage an independent archive myself, I would begin to question whether the missing pages existed in the first place. “I wrote about this topic before but Google says I didn’t.” A few other internet caretakers have also mentioned this in passing and I am reasonably sure that they’re experiencing the same sort of emphasis on currency and novelty that I have been—still one has to wonder how to define sabotage and subterfuge (or innocent incompetence and the over-confidence in our abilities) in a space where gravity and the laws of physics are subject to change. We tend to think of the architecture of basic services to be permanent and self-sustaining but there’s an awful amount of behind-the-scenes maintenance that goes into it and maybe we’ve just become too accustomed to a set of expectations, a frustration that betrays our impatience. When I heard of co-workers bemoaning that they were unable to search our email server exchange for older missives as reference, I was a little baffled and dismissive—that is, until I experienced the same glitch, which isn’t consistent seemingly or long-lived enough to properly investigate and work up any sort of relatable or repeatable remedy. Lack of information is a flavour of disinformation. If this undermining (real or perceived) is the work of an Evil Genius to torment, train or trick, it’s a pretty impressive vulnerability to exploit.


This evening and into the next morning marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of the deadliest and most destructive bombing attack by the Allied forces on the town of Kassel.
The attack punctuated a series of strategic air raids that had been periodically targeting manufacturing facilities and defensive infrastructure killed an estimated ten thousand civilians and the resulting fire engulfed the city for seven days afterwards. Counted with Dresden, Hamburg, Pforzheim and Darmstadt, Kassel had among the highest number of casualties from aerial bombing.


On this day, fifty years ago President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed into law the Gun Control Act of 1968, which focused on regulating the firearms industry and owners by restricting interstate trade in guns and weapons to licensed dealers and exporters.
The assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy nearly five years earlier prompted the legislation, which still languished in Congress and the Senate, when it was discovered that the president was killed with a rifle purchased by mail-order from a magazine. The murders of Martin Luther King, Jr and Robert Kennedy earlier in 1968 renewed the effort to change the law, which additionally mandated that buyers have licenses for and register their weapons and prohibited categories of persons, including felons and the mentally incompetent, from owning guns.

Sunday, 21 October 2018


I took a stroll through the fields to the forest’s edge above our village watch the slow transition of the leaves to their autumn colour palette.  The sunshine was not as forthcoming as yesterday that bathed everything with a blushing golden hue in the mid-afternoon but the woods still put on a spectacular show for this opening act that is to be followed by several encores.