Tuesday 16 July 2024

⚶ (11. 696)

Observed between 1802 and 1807 before being identified as a minor planet by astronomer Heinrich Olbers, whom having already discovered and named what is now understood to be the asteroid Pallas gave the honours to mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss, whose orbital calculations had enabled researchers to confirm the existence of the first such object in that region of the solar system, Ceres, presumed—incorrectly—to be fragments of a larger, destroyed planet, and called the discovery after the Roman goddess of hearth and home, Vesta. The Dawn mission, dispatched to explore the asteroid belt, entered into a year-long orbit around the brightest and second-largest asteroid on this day in 2011. Presently represented by the modern astrological variant of the original symbol conceived by Gauss, it was suggestive of the altar of the goddess and home-fire by extension, the first form is scheduled to return as a Unicode character, the pictorial representations repopularised following their retirement in the mid-1800s as impractical as the cosmic backyard became more crowded with eight major planets and over a dozen minor ones. During the interim until the 1950s, asteroids were given the naming convention of ordinal numbers, according to the sequence of their discovery, this one called ④ Vesta.


one year ago: professional uniforms (with synchronoptica), an experimental overland train plus the Trinity nuclear test (1945)

seven years ago: a linguistic curiosity

eight years ago: a beach on the รŽle d’Orรฉlon

nine years ago: classes of quarks plus a Mad, Mad, Mad Max mashup

eleven years ago: informant gadgets 

Friday 12 July 2024

postpositive (11. 683)

Via TYWKIWDBI (indeed), we are brought back to the subject of forming the plural of compound expressions through what are also referred to as post-nominal adjectives, which in English syntax can be employed for subtly and nuance—asking to be directed to the responsible people versus the people responsible or adjacent to something versus something adjacent—and occur in a number of set and archaic phrases, usually derived from Latin and French, like midnight dreary, body politic, proof positive, and the legal term malice aforethought (premeditated, from malice prรฉpensรฉe).


one year ago: a marker to symbolise the start of the Anthropocene Epoch (with synchronoptica), a crowd-pirated movie plus assorted links to revisit

seven years ago: LeVar Burton Reads, open-pollination, THC regulations in the EU, a typeface combining Hebrew and Arabic plus Trump as Putin’s useful idiot

nine years ago: exploring Pluto and beyond

Wednesday 10 July 2024

gallery of the louvre (11. 678)

On the occasion of the record-setting auction in which the pictured painting fetched an incredible three-and-a-quarter million dollars on this day back in 1982 (going to a private collector but on public display), we take a look at the artist, better remembered for his contributions to telecommunications, Samuel Finley Breese Morse. 

First establishing his credentials at a portrait artist and having a success career, several US presidents sat for him, Morse turned to invention in his late forties after encountering a fellow-passenger on a steam ship back from Europe who taught him about electromagnetism and demonstrated some experiments for him. Setting aside the subject painting in 1832 (finished the following year and contains thirty-eight miniature versions of the museum’s treasuressee also), Morse developed a single-wire telegraph, improving on European systems, and overcame the problem of signal-strength and range, a limiting factor, by the addition of relays to boost the distance transmissions could be carried from a few yards to dozens of miles. Patents were awarded but Morse’s invention was not unique or as foundational (see previously here and here) as he liked to present it. Adopted as the international standard for telegraphy, Morse would go on to contribute to his eponymous Code a few years later.  The first public demonstration was held at a steelworks in Morristown, New Jersey with an electronic missive—rather cryptically the message was “A patient waiter is no loser,” sent to a factory two miles away. 

Monday 8 July 2024

olive branch petition (11. 673)

Signed following adoption by the Second Continental Congress on this day in 1775 after, formal request was last ditch effort to avoid open conflict between Great Britain and the Thirteen Colonies. The fact that the same group of delegates had just authorised the invasion of the Dominion of Canada and passage of the resolution titled the Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms over the perception of parliament extending its influence across the Atlantic rather made its favourable reception unlikely despite its pledge of fealty to George III—the king refusing to read it and declaring the colonists traitorous. Interpreted as intransigence on the part of the British government—the signature page along with the rest of the missive in the US National archives features the prominent signature of John Hancock—it’s ignored read-receipt helped limn the choice for American settlers, entrenching a litany of grievances, and legitimising rebellion, informing Thomas Payne’s Common Sense. You say—the price of my love’s not a price that you’re willing to pay, you cry in your tea which hurl in the see when you see me go by. Why so sad?

Saturday 6 July 2024

,,someone german is talking“ (11. 666)

Having pondered the meanings and styles of bracket-use before, we appreciated this xkcd (previously) comic panel via Language Log. What other orthographic conventions do you know? 『Someone is talking Chinese』— A James Joyce [or Leo Tolstoi] character is talking. — ,, A Georgian person is talking” >A Usenet user is talking " ⠦A vision impaired individual is talking⠴ [sic] A pedant is talking [recte]

Thursday 4 July 2024

๐Ÿฅ— (11. 661)

On this day in 1924, the Caesar salad was invented in Tijuana by restaurateur of Italian-extract Caesar Cardini, from Baveno on the shores of Lago Maggiore, in his eponymous dining establishment. Caught unprepared by the large number of Americans crossing the border to legally purchase liquor otherwise unavailable during Prohibition for the long holiday weekend, Cardini improvised to stretch his food supply by mixing a large salad in the middle of the main dining hall, making due with what he had a surplus of on hand with the addition of tableside tossing by the proprietor for some dramatic flair. Several food columnists and Julia Child, who sampled the original sometime in the 1920s, helped popularise the dish whose reputation proceeded it, with the latter celebrity chef helping to codify the recipe with the help of Cardini’s daughter in the 1970s, romaine lettuce and croutons dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, eggs, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, black pepper, Dijon mustard, anchovies (substituting capers and tahini for a vegetarian version) and Parmesan cheese. 


one year ago: the US national anthem (with synchronoptica), David Bowie’s trans-Siberia railway journey plus Uncle Sam’s predecessor

seven years ago: a botched memorial

eight years ago: a space probe arrives in Jupiter’s orbit plus the chemistry of a candle

nine years ago: pyrotechnic effects 

ten years ago: hyper-capitalism plus anti-migrant sentiment

Saturday 22 June 2024

patience worth (11. 646)

Via Weird Universe, first contacted on this day in 1913 after reluctantly taking up the Ouija board at the insistence of her neighbours, we learn of the correspondence with the above departed soul who lived from the mid- to late-seventeenth century in Dorsetshire (migrating to colonial America only to be killed by Native Americans) and thoroughly ordinary and unambitious (her biography giving those traits special emphasis) Pearl Lenore Curran of Missouri, whose channeling and mediumship eventually produced for this amanuensis several novels and much prose and poetry that was published and well-received. Dictation at first came slowly through the planchette one letter at a time but eventually Worth furnished whole paragraphs telekinetically. There were of course skeptics and accused Curran of the authorship but the phenomena coincided with the infatuation with spiritualism on both sides of the Atlantic.


one year ago: new London Underground safety posters (with synchronoptica) plus a disappearance in Vatican City

six years ago: Cantril’s Ladder, money-laundering plus Seth Godin’s blog

seven years ago: surveying Mars, lรจse-majestรฉ, more on soundscaping, the Deseret syllabary plus Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

eight years ago: the importance of numeracy plus transposed pottery

nine years ago: Arab scholarship links the Ancient and Modern, the right of panorama plus digital displays

Tuesday 18 June 2024

kyffhรคuserdenkmal (11. 637)

Dedicated on this day in 1896 (on the anniversary of the coronation of the latter) after six years of construction under the direction of architect Bruno Schmitz, the colossal memorial also known as the Barbarossa Monument erected on the ruins of the medieval Kyffhauser Castle is the third commemorative ensemble in Germany (see above—we visited in April of 2010) and one of a number commissioned posthumously in honour of Emperor Wilhelm I of Prussia. 

The foundations of the imperial castle from the first millennium and associated with the reign of Frederick I Barbarossa are well preserved, such as the keep and a well that is the deepest from the Middle Ages. Heralded after his death, the Kaiser was seen as his political and culturally unifying descendant and inheritor of the Barbarossa legend, the trope of the sleeping king, king under the mountain (Bergentrรผcken—including lore about King David, Arthur and Charlemagne), that Frederick with a retinue of knights is not dead but half in slumber in a secluded cavern in the massif and will return again—occasionally dispatching a scout outside to check to see if ravens are still roosting, their absence being a sign that he is needed. 

During DDR times, Communist residents in the area wanted to blow up this bombastic reminder of the country’s past but its destruction was stopped by Soviet authorities, admonishing them it was time for Germans to live with their history and statues.

Friday 14 June 2024

juunikรผรผditamine (11. 629)

Commemorated on this day by the Baltic countries as a memorial to mass deportations of tens of thousands of individuals in 1941 from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia and the western territories of modern-day Moldova, Romania, Ukraine and Belarus, the eviction orders were executed covertly by the USSR Interior People’s Commissariat with the aim of removing “socially foreign elements” and resettling them in the interior of the Soviet Union. Occupied and annexed a year earlier following the Molotov-Ribbetrop Pact which defined Nazi Germany’s and Soviet Red Army’s spheres of influence, targeted nationalities were displaced under pro-Soviet puppet-governments and the colonisation proceeded. The relocation occurring just before the Nazi incursion into Soviet territory, deportees were characterised as counter-revolutionaries but not collaborators and their removal, rather than strengthening their newly expanded front buffered with ethic Russian in-migration, was seen to remove dissidents and create cheap labour in interior gulags. A programme of limited repatriation was begun under Khrushchev as part of De-Stanlinisation reforms but an estimated sixty percent or more had perished during exile and none deemed nationalists or non-white were allowed to return with those who were facing discrimination by the newly aligned majority.

Tuesday 11 June 2024

solvitur ambulando (11. 620)

The paradoxes of ancient Greek philosopher Zeno, as recorded by Aristotle’s Physics, argues motion is illusionary with the dichotomy that a traveler must arrive at the half-way point before reaching the goal, and before getting to the mid-stage, must necessarily travel a quarter and before that an eighth, a sixteenth, a thirty-second, a sixty-fourth and so on. Not finding the sum that all these fractional steps forwards didn’t complete the journey wasn’t Zeno’s objection but rather how to finish an infinite—though infinitesimal—number of tasks. Fellow philosopher and noted Cynic Diogenes, simply got up and left the conversation to demonstrate the contrary after hearing this line of reasoning. Attributed later to Saint Augustine, the Latin phrase “it is solved by walking” from this account, has become a catch-all directing one to answer practical problems with practical rejoiners—to walk it off as the sovereign remedy for every travail.

Friday 7 June 2024

9x9 (11. 613)

brainstorm: an AI researcher creates webpages from search queries—via Web Curios  

resurfacing the past: cataloguing all of the sunken ships of World War II  

like a feather on god’s breath: Hildegard von Bingen continues to fascinate and attract a diverse following—see previously 

leica lux: a new app from the veteran company is a concession that film is dead  

pineapple cheese: a nineteenth century fad in New England—via Strange Company  

unfortunate juxtaposition: an omnibus of headline crash blossoms—see previously  

mycological studies: Ann Wood’s paper mushrooms 

 amperima: deep-sea researchers discovery a hot-pink “Barbie Pig” and a unicumber unknown to science in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone 

ddg: DuckDuckGo offers anonymity for AI chat sessions


one year ago: assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: the Field of the Cloth of Gold (1520) plus the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494)

three years ago: more links to enjoy plus Brazilian phone booths

four years ago: an airport stretch-limousine, factorial pottery, a parting-shot from Cassini, more links to revisit, justice served plus besmirching a swan

five years ago: Iceland does not want your bottled water, even more links plus a Noah’s Ark theme park flooded

Thursday 6 June 2024

ents and huorns (11. 612)

Via tmn, we directed to the thirty-two metre tall lone rฤtฤ (Metrosideros robusta) on the west coast of South Island that’s been picked by the public as New Zealand’s Tree of the Year. Given the nickname “The Walking Tree” after JRR Tolkien’s motile, sentient arboreal characters due to appearance of being frozen in mid-stride, the unusual lifecycle of the rฤtฤ bears out the comparison as well with the seeds germinating as hemiepiphyte high in the forest canopy (conspicuously absent for this exemplar) before slowly lowering roots that descend to the ground, forming a hollow pseudo-trunk around its host composed of interlocking rhizomes, and can live upwards of a thousand years. Threatened, replanting and rehabilation campaigns have seen their return.  In contrast to the Ents of Middle Earth (see also, Tolkien invented the army as a more satisfying belligerent for the coming of “Great Birnam Wood to Dunsinane” of Macbeth) that become more tree-like as they age, a huorn is undergoing the process of becoming more animated.

Thursday 30 May 2024

operation landcrab (11. 593)

Concluding on this day in 1943 with US troops retaking the remote Aleutian island, the Battle of Attu, American and Imperial Japanese soldiers encountering one another in snowy conditions, was engaged nearly a year after the unopposed landing of a battalion of the Northern Army infantry, who wanted to establish forward airbases on this strategic location and create a barrier between the US and Russia, should the Soviets decide to join the fight against Japan. Only one of two sites on American soil invaded during the war and the only land confrontation, authorities were too late with orders to evacuate this most westerly part of the island chain and the forty-eight residents, mostly Aleut natives, who survived the annexation were imprisoned in a camp on Hokkaidล, where nearly half died. The fighting, beginning two weeks prior, was brutal and both sides sustained heavy casualties, with the Japanese forces suddenly attacking the Americans in a last ditch push with a large banzai charge (taken from the battle cry’s invocation of “long life” for his Majesty the Emperor and considered one method of gyokusai—shattered jewel, an honourable suicide) at Massacre Bay with nearly all of the troops killed. After the prisons were liberated, none despite a desire to return home, were repatriated and Attu became host to a series of navigation and ranging stations, eventually decommission in 2010, making the island the largest uninhabited area of the United States.

Monday 27 May 2024

priams schatz (11. 586)

Discovered on this day in 1873, the horde of gold treasure and other artefacts excavated at the site of modern day Hisarlฤฑk by Heinrich Schliemann (see previously) and his team. Though in his zeal to associate the treasure with the figure of the Homeric king, the archeologists were off by centuries in the stratification of this Bronze Age dig, subsequent research and scholarship confirm that Schliemann was correct in his quest to find the City of Troy (ฮคฯฮฟฮฏฮฑ also called ฮŠฮปฮนฮฟฮฝ from the Hittie๐’†ณ๐’Œท๐’‹ซ๐’Š’๐’„ฟ๐’Šญ and pronounced probably as Wiluลกa) and the besieged settlement of the epic Iliad was not just the stuff of legends, contrary to prevailing contemporary opinion. Investigating a wall of the supposed palace, Schliemann immediately dismissed the crew for a lunch-break to prise out the cache himself—with the assistance of his wife, Sophia—later criticised for being adorned with the “Jewels of Helen.” Not given permission by the Ottoman Empire to remove the gold, Schliemann smuggled the find out of Anatolia where it ended up being displayed in a museum in Berlin. The treasure was in turn plundered during the Red Army’s Battle of Berlin—with the Soviet Union denying it had taken such war trophies, until 1994 when the Pushkin Museum in Moscow owed that it had the Trojan gold.

Wednesday 22 May 2024

permalink (11. 573)

Cory Doctorow presents a winsome and circumspect consideration of the recent survey of the internet’s perishable nature and how a figure approaching forty percent of websites, news articles and government websites have no legacy and succumb to linkrot—with reference sites particularly left untethered from their original source material—not withstanding preservation efforts through his personal and persistent practise of keeping a daily journal—an indexed memory of associated thoughts and connections that harkens back to earliest theories of informatics—and making the process public. One’s own record is of course an aid and antidote to the peekaboo when neglect and decay follow creative collaboration and the context, steps and milieu all slip away and a heuristic to gauge the sad truth that institutions and archives are brittle, gearing more towards discovery and derivation rather than rediscovery and reflection. More from Pluralistic at the link up top.

Monday 13 May 2024

proclamation of neutrality (11. 556)

Though granting legal recognition to the Confederate States of America as belligerents, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland under Queen Victoria, announcing the stance on this day in 1861, never accorded the breakaway southern states with the status of a nation, negotiated treaties or exchanged ambassador and trade came to a halt. Despite massive losses in the textile sector, particularly in Manchester, due to loss of imported cotton, most Britons, maintained their fidelity to the Union and Abraham Lincoln, and CSA president Jefferson Davis’ wager that dependence on “King Cotton” would lead to diplomatic recognition, mediation or intervention militarily, fell far short of hopes. After the costly war in the Crimea, European powers wanted no more entanglements. Some smuggling of cotton occurred (see previously) with privateers running bundles across the Atlantic in exchange for munitions and luxury goods, but most mills—even threatened with bankruptcy and famine for the workers—refused to process the Confederate contraband.

Friday 10 May 2024

tea party (11. 551)

Passed on this day in 1773 by the parliament of Great Britain, the Tea Act was principally designed to help the British East India Company remain profitable and offload some of its surplus by undercutting the price for illegal imports, mostly smuggled into the American colonies through Dutch suppliers, by enabling direct and duty-free exports. The supplemental tariff under the Townsend Acts meant to generate revenue for colonial administration and the paid the salaries of governors (to ensure allegiance) as well as leverage to obtain better terms of trade with transportation companies. Although the quality of the black market tea was inferior to the British, it was considered patriotic to drink the smuggled tea by some groups as a political protest to the taxes levied. Despite the elimination of elimination of duties with the license for direct sales that bypassed the need for middlemen (these merchants also angered because they were rendered superfluous as were the marketeers) resulting in lower prices for higher quality tea, colonists were still upset on principal of the retention of the nominal tax used to pay the salaries of crown officials. Harbour masters in New York and Philadelphia were refusing delivery of tea shipments and reached a crisis point in December that year when the Sons of Liberty (cosplaying Native Americans, the tax was set to expire if not renewed by Parliament) raided ships docked in Boston and dumped the cargo overboard—an event known later as the Boston Tea Party, mythologised, which resulted in the embargo and closure of the port until the destroyed shipments were paid for.

Saturday 4 May 2024

the recording academy (11. 540)

Originally presented as the Gramophone Award on this day in 1959, as our faithful chronicler informs, the first ceremony was hosted simultaneously in California’s Beverly Hilton and the Park Sheraton in New York City—though not televised live until 1971 (although the second confusingly took place later that same year, hosted by Frank Sinatra and was aired on NBC)—and had its roots in the Hollywood Walk of Fame project with industry executives realising that their top artists might not receive the same level of recognition as film stars. Following the tradition of the Oscars, Tonys and Emmys, the organisers first proposed calling the honours the Eddies after Thomas Edison (see also), inventor of the phonograph before eventually settling on the Grammys. Twenty eight trophies were awarded for the first ceremony including winners Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie with record of the year going to Nel Blu, Dipinto di Blu (“Volare”) by Domenico Modugno and The Champs’ Tequila taking Best Rhythm and Blues Performance.

Thursday 2 May 2024

national day of reason (11. 530)

In response to the statutory observance of the National Day of Prayer—codified into law at the urging of conservative evangelical preacher Billy Graham in 1952 during the Korean War with US president Harry S Truman signing a bill proclaiming that each subsequent administration was to declare this annual holiday on the date of his choosing—this secular counter-convocation has been held on the first Thursday since 2003 by humanists and freethinkers to assert freedom from religion after unsuccessfully petitioning the federal government from endorsing the former, supported by public monies and time for Christian-dominated religious ceremonies. The latter having gained in popularity in recent years as a demonstration that nonbelievers can contribute to their communities in positive and life-affirming ways and be good without god, activities include organised food drives, blood donations and giving to other charities.

Wednesday 1 May 2024

binomial nomenclature (11. 525)

Prior to the publication, on this day in 1753, of the work by Carl Linnaeus (see also), listing every known species of plant at the time (around six thousand specimens compared with the over four hundred-thousand of flowering plants alone described today), there was no consistent standard for the scientific naming of botanic organisms, later adopted by consensus for all forms of life, and most exemplars would be given a long though descriptive polynomials, like herbaceous perennial catnip—now Nepeta cataria, before called Nepeta floribus interrupte spicatis pedunculatis. The genus, the taxonomical rank between species and family, was followed by a specific epithet or “trivial name” developed out of a student project to classify what cattle forage. Arranged into a thousand genera, there were no accounts of what the species looked like in this text and one needed a companion volume to cross reference.


one year ago: assorted links worth revisiting plus Citizen Kane (1941)

two years ago: the Moonies, more text-to-image generation, more links to enjoy plus an Esperanto punk band

three years ago: Operation Neptune Spear (2011), Mister Rodgers testifies before Congress, dogs with torches in paintings, shrinking glacial maps, more Citizen Kane plus retiring the Op-Ed section

four years ago: Ballet Zoom, pigeon calls, the Penny Black (1840), the Feast of Saint Joseph, Soviet Winne the Pooh, a charting hit from Tim Curry, the flag of the territory of Florida plus an anime selfie filter

five years ago: edible seaweed containers plus an album from McGruff the Crime Dog