Tuesday, 10 December 2019


Though never a serious contended to replace the Cyrillic variant of the Ukrainian alphabet, several times throughout history Latin scripts have enjoyed compelling fashionability and, always politically fraught, prompting studies into ornithological reform (see also) and sometimes the outright Romanization of the language.

A generalized Latin script called Łatynka was proposed and precipitated an intense public debate, the War of the Alphabets, especially along the country’s western frontier regions where there was an abrupt divide between writing traditions in the mid-nineteenth century and again became en vogue during the early years of the Soviet era—at one point some seventy new scripts were adapted for the Uralic, Iranian, Slavonic, Mongolian, Korean and Chinese written languages of the USSR, following the lead of Turkey. Publications, mainly for the benefit of border communities, during that phase—until development was halted and reversed by Joseph Stalin—incorporated letters from Czech and Polish alphabets and was called Abecadło.

resolution 217

The United Nations’ first major legislative achievement came on this day in 1948 with the General Assembly’s adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, later each article committed to these stone pillars in Nuremberg, Straße der Menschenrechte.

The annual commemoration coincides with signatory and founding member state Sweden’s Nobeldagen, the date established in 1901 on the fifth anniversary of the death of the benefactor Alfred Nobel and first award ceremony (see previously) took place. All laureates, other than the recipient (including organisations) of the Peace Prize, are banqueted at Stockholm City Hall—with the exception, usually on the same day, presented in Oslo.

apostrophe s, apostrophe s, it shows the things that we possess

An attested grammar vigilante—though not a total pedant as the retired journalist admits there is an element of style when enforcing rules, had conceded defeat but is heartened by an overwhelming surge of interest in his Apostrophe Protection Society, founded in 2001 to champion the much-maligned (the green-grocers’ mark for touting apple’s and pear’s), misused punctuation—as often as not, made a pariah in some municipalities willfully promoting improper syntax, and even transmitting political overtones in its omission or inclusion. What do you think? Language evolves as does our load-bearing diacritics but I think there’s still quite a bit relevance in these tics and their placement.

alphabet heaven

Via Everlasting Blört and the Curious Brain, we are treated to a musical animated short by artist Natalia Ryss called Comte, musically and visually a bit reminiscent of the dream figures and engines set in motion in the music video accompanying Los Lobos’ Kiko and the Lavender Moon.  Much more to explore at the links above.

Alphabets Heaven - Comte from Natalia Ryss on Vimeo.

Monday, 9 December 2019

gumdrops and gatehouses

Carrying on a holiday tradition of crafting and featuring Modernist and Brutalist confectionary miniatures, Present /&/ Correct juries a new selection of gingerbread architectural models. It’s fun to try to identify the individual candy-types that make up the different architectural elements and appreciate the designers’ resourcefulness. According to lore, ginger was to be among the gifts of the magi but this particular wise man had to convalesce in Syria (see also) and did not make it to Bethlehem with the others but propelled his gesture onward with the baking custom.

little berlin

One month to the day after the Berlin Wall fell and the borders opened, a small village north of Hof on the frontier of Bavaria and Thüringen called Mödlareuth am Tannbach, a thirty centimeter wide brook that first demarcated the boundaries of the preceding polities of the Kingdom of Bayern and the Principality (Fürstentum) of Reuß-Gera after the Napoleonic Wars, prized a passageway through the wall dividing their town—absent gates or checkpoints—so neighbours could finally be reunited. A hundred meter span of wall has been retained as part of an open-air museum. Echoing Kennedy’s speech, during a visit in 1983, then vice-president George HW Bush proclaimed, “Ich bin ein Mödlareuther.”

Sunday, 8 December 2019


ideograrch: the iconic works of architecture abstracted in Kanji-like calligraphy by Federico Babina

quasi-modo: a Russian DJ that combines his skill with bell-ringing with techno music

head in the clouds: a look at cities in the sky

dreigroschenoper: a gallery of playbills and references that cover the works of Bertolt Brecht—via Strange Company 

pelagic zone: a deep sea explorer from Neal.fun (previously), via Kottke 

fine html products: a survey of superlative links of the 2010s

apotropaic charms: stunning enamel pins from Lydia Daum, via Swiss Miss 

you have the right to hush-up: Slaw & Order, courtesy the Art of Darkness 

: Aoi Huber Kono’s 1972 picture haiku book Winter

Saturday, 7 December 2019

the voyage beyond apollo

To coincide with the Apollo 17 mission and last time that human would set foot on the lunar surface, Caribbean cruise line Holland America offered a special voyage on its flag ship that cruised past Cape Kennedy to afford paying patrons and a gaggle of celebrity shipmates the chance to observe the rocket launch.
For nearly as long as the final and longest mission of the programme, holiday-makers could mingle with science fiction and fantasy luminaries like Isaac Asimov, Frederik Pohl, Robert Heinlein, and Ben Bova as well as astrophysicist and science-communicator Carl Sagan (previously). Organised under the auspices of space propulsion visionary Dr Robert Duncan-Enzmann—who also incidentally tried to push the bounds of prehistory back eons by deciphering cave inscriptions and may have gone a bit mad in the effort, there was a series of on-board lectures and seminars to discuss the future of space exploration. The next port-of-call was Arecibo, Puerto Rico (see also) to visit the radio telescope.

body thetan

Roughly a decade after Keith Richards somnambulistically developed the tune and Mick Jagger writing the lyrics at the poolside created the song “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” while staying at the Clearwater, Florida resort, the Fort Harrison Hotel had fallen into disrepair and the operators had gone bankrupt, and the property was purchased by the Church of Scientology. 
The building was  converted into a spiritual centre with lodgings for visiting practitioners and in some cases controversially as a rehabilitation and re-programming facility for its more deviant members and for those who would stray from the flock.  This day on the church’s calendar of holidays is celebrated as the opening of the church’s headquarters compound in 1975. Another important holiday falls at the end of the month, 30 December as Freedom Day when in 1974 the US government accorded the organization tax-exempt status as a religious institution.

le projet ozma

Among the first official accolades that the crew of the Apollo 11 Mission were awarded outside of the ticker-tape parades and immediate fame was the astronomical portion of the Prix Guzman—on this day in 1969, an honorarium provided for by the estate of Marc Guzman and established in the will of his widow Anne Emilie Clara Goget in 1891. Arguably the astronauts won by dint of a technicality—the one-thousand-franc prize to be given to a person or group that succeeded in communicating with another celestial body, which the Eagle did with Mission Control in Houston.
Interest accumulated in the meantime and that premium was awarded every five years or so to an individual who had made significant contributions to space exploration, as adjudged by the Académie des sciences of the Institut de France. As many people believed at the time of Madame Guzman’s death that Mars was inhabited by intelligent beings, communications with that planet were specifically exempted as not worthy of the challenge and would be established in the immediate future (see also). The title and related paradox refer to the precursor programme to SETI started by Cornell astronomer Frank Drake, named after Princess Ozma whom L Frank Baum channelled by radio to learn of events in the Land of Oz after his first-hand accounts ended. The problem that arises from such a two-way communication with extra-terrestrials is the lack of a frame of reference and thus no means of conveying basic ideas of orientation, right and left, and parity. The other honorarium, to be awarded for the development of a treatment for the most common forms of heart disease, has yet to be given out. Regardless of Madame Guzman’s intent, the accomplishments of Apollo were certainly no mean feat.

Friday, 6 December 2019


Founded by reporter and newspaperman (having previously established a publication in St Louis) Stilton Hutchins in 1877 to advance the views of the Democratic Party, the venerable institution the Washington Post (previously here and here) had issued its first edition on this day. After a series of mergers with competing area gazettes a decade into reporting, Hutchins sold the press to former US Postmaster General, Frank Hatton, and Ohio congressional representative Beriah Wilkins, whom together commissioned US Marine Band Leader John Philips Sousa to compose a march to celebrate the occasion. The eponymous tune (you’ll know it the second you hear it) was also the subject of a dance craze at the end of the nineteenth century.

mambo № 2

Starting out somewhat innocuously but worth staying with it, a trust-worthy music historian called Archie Henderson—by way of Waxy—in collaboration with comedian Adrian Gray enlightens us with short clips of the best-selling singles of each decade, spanning all the way back to fourteen thousand years BC.
I haven’t listened to every representative, superlative song in this thread and am still working through the considerably back catalogue but we really liked the 1950’s Chunky Finchman and his Interrupting Choir performance of “She’s my Baby” overtaking the 1940’s top hit Jöhn Smith’s Britain (is where I’m from) and from the aughts the Wright Brothers and their Ten Feet High Club. Medieval times seem especially lit.  Check out yesteryear’s chart toppers and let us know your favourites.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

suncave parry arc

Via Kottke, we are given a nice lesson on the atmospheric phenomenon of ice crystal halos and the exacting collusion of conditions that must take place in order to be a privileged witness.  I am very much an enthusiast as well for the dazzling Alpine displays of reflection and refraction that are not only confined to colder and am consoled by the seeming penchant of weather formations (and have my camera ready in anticipation) to partake in the Baader-Meinhof syndrome (see also)—the frequency illusion and actually seem to manifest more often once one can name them, which feels very much the case with usual clouds, sundogs and double-rainbows.


Pivoting from a palette inspired by living coral selected for last year, Pantone has dug into its classic catalogue to craft a shade for 2020’s Colour of the Year.
Maybe it’s not such a subtle endorsement for Democrats but we’ll take any signaling we can get. The dependable and serviceable hue was chosen for a range of positive attributes including “calm, confidence and connection.” Though a seemingly standard harmonious cobalt, this formulation is fresh for the coming year, knowing that formerly the designation was different from the lyric of the Magnetic Fields’ “Reno, Dakota”—there’s not an iota of kindness in you / You know you enthrall me and yet you don’t call me / It’s making me blue, Pantone 292. A slightly lighter colour but still solidly on the same wavelength.

Wednesday, 4 December 2019


Though not wholly representative of the reception on the part of peers and the public, the 1913 show at New York City’s Armory which exposed American audiences to the staples of European Modernism for the first time engendered mixed reactions, including the cumulative accession that progresses alphabetically through this new exposure.
The confusion and anger of some was distilled in a regressive-progressive volume, acrostic from Mary Mills and Earl Harvey Lyall that aired its discontent for Cubism and Futurism by the letter.

Q’s for the Queerness we Stand-patters feel
When progressive young Cubies start Art reformation.
They’re strong on Initiative, praise the Square Deal:
“Though the Cubic is best” they aggressively squeal:
“Painting things as you see them is rank deformation!”

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

turkey lurkey

Catching up on some post-Thanksgiving podcast listening, we were delighted to learn of the existence of priceless collaboration between Susan J Vitucci and Henry Krieger in their silly and engaging operetta Love’s Fowl that recounts the continuing adventures of Henny Penny, also known as Chicken Little or by her stage diva name, La Pulcina Piccola—but through the filter of opera buffa, with an impressive, classically informed score and libretto sung in Italian, featured in a poultry-themed left-overs episode of This American Life.
Our hero has graduated from her initial hysterical though determined mission (despite leaping to the wrong conclusion, her perseverance is what saved her life whereas her companions all dawdled and became Foxy Loxy’s meal—those without scruples always ready and willing to take advantage of panic and confusion) to warn the King that the sky is falling to face some of the more vexing but equally universal challenges of fairy stories and folklore (the familiar, initial trope is classified as Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 20c but together, we run the entire gamut), a cumulative story like the original premise it begins with, repetitious in some way but always advancing, including swashing-buckling on the high seas, statecraft and romantic liaisons.

a lerner and loewe production

With a strong cast including Julie Andrews, Robert Goulet, Richard Burton and Roddy McDowall though opening-night critical reception was mixed, Camelot premiered on Broadway at the Majestic on this day in 1960—running ultimately for over eight hundred performances in the course of three years before going on tour, netting several awards and a cinematic adaptation (also boosting a strong suite of actors).  It’s a little strange to think in hindsight that the Kennedy White House was accorded those airs and refinement of chivalry and idealism because the stage play and cast recording were so well inculcated in popular culture and not the other way around. I wonder where else this phenomena, this transference takes hold. At the end of the second and final act, with infidelity leading to betrayal and bloodshed and the Round Table broken, King Arthur encounters a young stowaway called Tom of Warwick (Robin Stewart, Mike Abbott on ITV’s Bless this House) whom he knights, hoping that this field promotion will ensure that his legend and the Matter of Britain are carried forward for future generations.

Don’t let it be forgot
That once there was a spot,
For one brief, shining moment
That was known as Camelot.

Monday, 2 December 2019


Whilst it is an indisputably good rule of thumb to adhere by that what provokes the most outrage also is deserving of most research before propagating, it also behooves one to know what’s in the quiver of political canvassers so one might better recognize the disguised subterfuge for what it is. Though certain campaigns may be more effective than others and particular groups may be targeted more relentless than others by dint of susceptibility and reception (real, perceived or attributed), the biggest danger lies in fancying ourselves immune to such influence peddling.

aus tradition grenzen überschreiten

With illustrious alumni including H, Angela Merkel, Robert Schumann, Friedrich Nietzsche, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Tycho Brahe, the University of Leipzig is one of the world’s most storied and preeminent institutions of higher learning and second longest in existence only to that of Heidelberg (1386) in Germany and was officially founded on this day in 1409 to provide a new alma mater to German-speaking academics that had fled the reformation movement agitated by Jan Hus in Prague with the endorsement of the papacy.

To ensure the university’s independence and scholastic freedom from state influence, the founders gifted the institution first three then a total of eight nearby villages as sources of revenue, an arrangement that continued through the nineteenth century. Pictured here is the Paulinerkirche, which served as the university’s anchor since the beginning, until its demolition by the government of East Germany in 1968 but rebuild in modernist style in 2012 as the Paulinum (das Aula und Universitätskirche Sankt Pauli) with the former dormitory high rise—meant to suggest an open book, now City-Hochhaus beside. The above motto translates, (from) a tradition of crossing borders and was one of the first institutions to allow female guests to audit classes, eventually awarding its first doctor of jurisprudence degree to a Russian graduate student called Anna Yevreinova in 1873 and during the transition period of the decline and eventual dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, many from the newly independent republics turned to Leipzig as an administrative and educational model.

Sunday, 1 December 2019

пицца хат

Nearly as strange and forgotten as the time when Pepsi Cola had the second largest naval fleet in the world, Miss Cellania reminds us of the time in 1997 when Mikhail Gorbachev was promoting an international pizza franchise (see also).
It can be a bit treacherous for leaders to outlive their countries or for celebrities or politicians to otherwise survive beyond their careers when there’s little prospect for a next chapter and every time a moment like this appears in a collection of clips of embarrassing star endorsements, it does leave a bit of a breadcrumb of clickbait behind, yet there’s a truly complex narrative and history encapsulated in this sixty-second spot that’s more respectful than most advertising to geopolitics and recent history and one worth exploring in detail.


The panel jury of the Society for the Germany Language (GfdS, Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache) in Wiesbaden has submitted its selection for Wort des Jahres (previously) with the above portmanteau that highlights the problem that many retirees face in old age of despite having contributed to a full pension all their careers, are not seeing the returns to fund their accustomed lifestyle. Rather than a universal basic income, legislators propose broadly means to supplement seniors at the end of one chapter of their working lives. Respektrente beat out Rollerchaos, another neologism, to describe the regrettable opening up the sidewalks to electric-scooters.

herrnhuter stern

We’re getting ready to hang up our Moravian stars as the first festoonery of the season and the process of constructing the lantern and piecing together the paper cones is always an engaging ritual.
The decoration and design originated in the 1830s in a Moravian church (see also) boarding school for boys near the town of Görlitz to impart students with a lesson in geometry—the twenty-six-sided star being called a rhombicuboctahedron. Around 1880, an alumnus of the Pædagogium made the stars and their instruction manuals for sale in his bookstore and his son went on to open a factory in 1897 in the village of Herrnhut under the auspices of the church that makes and distributes the stars to this day.

thumpety, thump, thump

Via Boing Boing, we are treated to a musical duet of Leon Redbone and Dr John performing “Frosty the Snowman” from the former’s 1988 holiday album Christmas Island. Both musicians passed away earlier this year within weeks of each other.  Redbone also voiced the Narrator Snowman (inspired by the Rankin and Bass characters) in the 2003 Christmas comedy Elf.

Saturday, 30 November 2019


The apostle opting to be crucified saltire to differentiate his martyrdom from that of Jesus and patron of Greece, Russia, Ukraine, Scotland, Romania, Barbados, Burgundy, miners (hence the crossed pick and hewer that symbolises the trade), fishmongers, pregnant women, rope-makers, butchers and singers—interceding on counts of sore throat and other respiratory distress and incidence of lycanthropy, this day and evening marks the Feast of Saint Andrews.
Brother of Peter and as fishermen become fishers of men, Andrew is referred to as Πρωτόκλητος, the First-Called, apostolic succession in the Orthodox tradition following him rather than his sibling (Andrew introduced Peter to Jesus), as it does in the Roman Catholic Church.  Syncretically recognised as the beginning of Advent and marking the end of pre-winter slaughter of livestock, before seasonal trappings overtook folk superstitions, this night was especially viewed as an ideal occasion for divination, carromancy—predicting the future by interpreting the form hot candle wax takes cooled in water (see also)—especially, and magic spells. Furthermore, it was believed that from this night until the eve of the Feast of Saint George, it was a particularly active time for vampires and werewolves, with the latter being granted the license to prey on whatever they choose and, natural or supernatural, the power to speak to humans on this night.


Our gratitude once again to Super Punch for directing our attention to a comprehensive and interactive lesson from the LA Times charting out the villages and sacred sites of the aboriginal people of the Los Angeles basin and Southern Channel Islands, the Tongva, who called their world, bound roughly by what today is called Palos Verdes to the San Fernando Valley. In addition to exploring a map with the metropolis overlaid with native settlements, there is a brief language primer that aims to reconstruct the tongue that became moribund in the early twentieth century but never went extinct, thanks to the culture that’s trying to revive it.

Friday, 29 November 2019

history is written by the victors

As a demonstration project to illustrate how potentially fraught our near-future and future historians might interpret our contemporary period and how self-assured we can be ourselves, a team under the auspices of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology present In Event of Moon Disaster, Richard Nixon delivering his counter-factual contingency address prepared had something gone awry with the Apollo 11 lunar mission and the crew were irretrievably stranded on the Moon. Through technology might get better at debunking deepfakes and insulating us from the sound-bite struggle, human brains don’t have the bandwidth often to delve further into a story and uncover a true accounting.

peanuts gallery

Having had this top detail of a comic strip panel inhabiting my image archives for some time now and not really understanding where it was from, I appreciated having it put into context with this nice, grateful recollection of the eminent author and visit to a past exhibition that brought some insight to the interior (both mental and stylistic) of Charles M Schulz’ characters (see also) that particularly underscore questions of generational divides and how perspective is born of attention as much as intention.
One might not have paid much notice to backgrounds of comics (and cartoons) that contemporary eyes might label as sparse and minimalist but they were really couched in a MidCentury Modern sentiment that informed the entire aesthetic. Note the furnishings by Ray and Charles Eames and other iconic designers in the  panel (March 1953) to your right alone, which was faithfully recreated with actual artefacts of the age, and more will creep into focus next time you peruse the funny pages.

uplifting stats

Via Pasa Bon!, we discover a yearlong campaign by Information is Beautiful (see previously), inspired by among other things the disabusing trends illustrated in Hans Rosling’s Factfulness, to release an infographic daily that features enlightening good news and positive trends (trajectories and the headlines not necessarily being the same thing). From their recently featured charts we glean among other things that Iceland had legally mandated equal pay for equal work for men and women, the precipitous fall of the cost of renewable energy, Africa and South America is quashing malaria and there is now a fourth type of chocolate aside from dark, milk and white with ruby.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

a thanksgiving pagent, any number of indians

A fairly standard casting-call apparently for children’s plays of this particular genre—via Strange Company.

keydesk and console

A little sad to have read earlier in the week that the future of another local speciality museum might be in jeopardy, I decided it was time to finally make the time to visit a nearby institution whose fate might also be in question should it not attract enough patronage, and I was glad that I did.

Housed in the fifteenth century Gothic Schloß Hanstein—the manor originally called Kemenate that remains as testament to the past prosperity and importance of Ostheim vor der Rhön, the Orgelbaumuseum presents over nine hundred years of pipe organ history from the court of Charlemagne onward, honouring the nearly four-hundred-year tradition of pipe organ expertise, innovation and manufacture specific to this area.
 There are two factories in town associated with the museum that outfit and offer maintenance services for churches and other venues and it’s a matter of pride to expect that whenever there’s any news having to do with the instrument, installation or repair work, the institution is involved and gets a mention.
There are reproductions of workshops from different eras that illustrate the technical development and mechanics of performance and fidelity, which really makes one appreciate the scope and skill of craftsmanship, and quite a few antique units on display—including a few models that one can play and learn about how the sound is produced and modified. The miniaturisation and mobility that delivered the box organ for use in private homes is also pretty astounding. Try if you can to get out and patronise your local institutions to let them know that they are appreciated.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

how did we get here?

Via a circuitous daisy-chain of links, (which are the best kind), first by way of this site then referred on with a warm hand-off in the form of a post that collected cinematic titles that are synonymous with hypertext markup language tags: body, form, h4 , etc.) we are acquainted with the Monkees movie Head, a plotless and lightly derivative but creative romp and vehicle for the eponymous but well-lauded soundtrack, the screenplay co-written by Jack Nicolson. Here’s a sample below (the third musical performance in) from the rather darkly-themed yet upbeat “Ditty Diego” about deadbeat parents. The movie also featured (once a rarity) the actual Happy Birthday Song, performed by the standard’s authors. Terri Garr and Bela Lugosi also lend their vocal talents to several of the tracks.

this is my last resort

Though we need little reminder of how beastly and gruesome people can be, this day marks the veneration of the sainted martyr James Intercisus (whose name comes from the Latin for “cut into pieces”) tortured by being slowly dismembered before beheading in 421 AD in what is near the present day city of Dezful in southeastern Iran by the Shanhanshah Bahram V, a political counsellor of the preceding King of Kings Yazdegerd, of the Sassanid empire.
The method of maximising suffering is goes by various names and this alleged (possibly greatly exaggerated for dissuasive ends) death by a thousand cuts (James was unincorporated by only twenty-eight) and is representative of the wider prosecution of Christians in Persia (only provoked due to their attacking Zoroastrian temples) and was used as a pretext, casus belli by the Eastern Roman Empire to invade and conscript replacement troops to defend against the raids of the Huns in the north. James’ story is recounted in the Book of Psalms and the Golden Legend. An uneasy treaty was brokered a year later, returning everything to the state it was before the war—or status quo ante bellum.


In an experiment that lends credence to the idea that we are living in a massive simulation, we learn via Slashdot that Moscow area dairy farmers have outfitted their cows with custom-made virtual reality headsets to furnish them with nicer scenery and thus boosting their overall welfare.  While the cows’ well-being seems to have benefited, it is yet inconclusive if the experience yields more or better milk—as was the stated goal, and it’s also unclear how traumatic it might be for our bovine friends to be ripped back to the reality of their bleak environs from a pleasant summer pasture.

font specimen

Previously we’ve studied the penmanship of Trump through a typeface called what else but Tiny Hand and rather shied away from this slightly Disneyesque crisp style since it was sort of endearing—that is, until one considers his signature below, which has this sonic quality of a demon screech from some alternate timeline, but with his latest rash of missives, any graphologically (which is a pseudoscience) redemptive qualities have been quite squandered, so we are enjoying this Quid Pro Quo Sans sourced from a variety of exemplars. As an added public service the font will auto-correct a range of particularly Trumpian substitutions and at the link one can experiment with crafting one’s messages on official letterhead.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019


The Martian Desert Research Station in remote, arid Utah—the experimental living area affectionately referred to as the Hab—has been cleverly and economically (both in regards to cost and space) is being furnished by Swedish homeware and lifestyle giant IKEA. The heuristic exercise is a valuable object lesson on scarcity of materials, durability, sustainability and repurposing and has garnered some important insights and anticipated various challenges.

racing stripes

A clever artist at a forum dedicated to the aesthetics of Vaporwave (previously) has made the Cybertruck a bit friendlier and less severe with a splash of Solo Jazz, a 1992 teal and purple design pattern created by Gina Ekiss, having since achieved cult status, for paper cups and plates.

mandatory syria

Negotiated and ratified in secret in May of the same year, the Manchester Guardian published an invective report detailing the memorandum of understanding between Britain and French ambassadors Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot (see previously here and here) regarding the partition of a soon to be defeated Ottoman Empire days after it was presented to the Bolshevik government of Russia, whom first exposed it to the public, the arrangement contingent on its assent. With parallels to the present and storied abandonment of the Kurds, the terms of the treaty amplified and circulated to the British readership, the government was embarrassment by its betrayal to the Arabs, whom had been promised an independent homeland in the Levant (which was not on the map) in exchange for their revolt that destabilised the Empire and precipitated a victory for the Triple Entente. The consequences of this line in the sand are still informing and shaping geopolitics more than a century later.

i want to destroy the passerby

Later included on their eponymous first album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, the band’s debut single Anarchy in the UK was released on this day in 1976. Giving voice to a generation of disenfranchisement and poor prospects, this anthem launched the genres of punk- and anarcho-rock, reclaiming and reshaping pop music from its nadir of blandness and timidity, called out in the lyric—“I use the enemy” or NME, the New Musical Express, a rather tame hit digest that would later come to champion the Sex Pistols and similar groups.

hanging chad

Though George Walker Bush would not be officially awarded the presidency until the Supreme Court issued its split-decision nearly a month after election day and halted ballot re-count, on this day in 2000 Secretary of State of Florida, Katherine Harris certified Bush as the winner, having purged many voters (felons and other disenfranchised individuals) from the rolls, narrowly defeating contender Albert Arnold Gore Junior and losing the overall popular vote but thus able to carry the majority of the Electoral College. Coverage of the debate and controversy cemented the colour-coding conventions of US political parties (previously), whereas prior media coverage had been inconsistent or idiosyncratic, often following UK schemes which portray conservatives as blue and liberals as red.

Monday, 25 November 2019


four-score: an exploration how the language of counting might influence numeracy

sundowning: museum visits as therapeutic interventions seem to ease symptoms of dementia

look, a fruit-loop: the actual libretto—you’ve been singing Dies Iræ all wrong (see also)

satellite nyetwork: a retired gentleman elaborately decorates receiver dishes informed by traditional Russian folk art, via Nag on the Lake

dataviz: Information is Beautiful curates the year’s superlative infographics, via Kottke’s Quick Links 

zero-to-sixty: a century of evolving European motorways as part of the Victoria & Albert’s series on Accelerating the Modern World, via Things Magazine 

Sunday, 24 November 2019

musical instrument digital interface

Unless you’re backup keytar, strings and frets are usually the essential parts of the instrument, the exception being this rather clever barcode guitar from designer and musician James Bruton. Scanning chords across the four necks feeding information to a MIDI synthesizer, Bruton is able to create some interesting sounds and shares how you might be able to create something similar.

low poly

In addition to the all-terrain mobile unit as an accessory to Elon Musk’s newly released prototype Cybertruck—which people joke looks like a computer rendering from a time when graphics processing with polygon mesh wasn’t nearly so advanced as it is presently—will have the optional package outfitting the cargo bed as a pop-up camper for exploring the actual outdoors and not CGI side-scrolling.
What do you think? Critics are bashing the design, forgetting about the experimental wedged wonders of the Italian automotive tradition that were all the rage not so long ago, but we’d seriously support getting such a car for our next vehicle—especially considering a range of nearly eight hundred kilometres to a charge and over-engineered performance that allows the truck to zip about faster than finest luxury cars, not to mention the target price that’s half of the suggested manufacturer’s asking-price.

lama glama

Via Pasa Bon! we are treated to designer and carpenter Ashley Fuchs’ Llama bookcase with detailed instructions on creating one of your own with some plywood and a jigsaw. I think the project and figuring out the pattern would also be an intensive study in llama anatomy, heel, fetlock, pastern, elbow, flank, barrel, gaskin, hip and hock. More library bookshelf and bookshelf-adjacent ideas curated here too.