Sunday, 24 September 2023

your captain, merrill stubing (11. 021)

Premiering on this day in 1977 after three pilots airing as made for television movies and broadcast for nine seasons—including five specials—the Aaron Spelling venture of the port-of-calls of the MS Pacific Princess, featured in a Saturday night weekly lineup including Fantasy Island. Though not the first to do so, it solidified the cross-over, guest-star anthology format, bringing in celebrities from film and pioneered parallel plots, with an A-, B- and C-stories in each episode. Aside from the roles of captain, ship’s doctor, and your bartender (promoted to yeoman pursuer, portrayed by Gavin MacLeod, Bernie Kopell, and Ted Lange, the cast rotated. Fred Grady as your yeoman pursuer—Burl “Gopher” Smith was in all the televised episodes but opted out of the specials to campaign for the US congress.

Friday, 22 September 2023

stephan’s quintet (11. 014)

Discovered on this day in 1877 from an observatory in Marseille the eponymous compact galactic grouping documented by astronomer ร‰douard Jean-Marie Stephan, under the directorship of Urbain le Verrier, was the first of kind described. Among the most studied formations in the Cosmos and revealing the large-scale filament structure thought to underlie the Universe, the small cluster was one of the first nominated objects for the JWST to image and is famously celebrated in cameo as the angelic host in the beginning of It’s A Wonderful Life. “Oh, Clarence—hasn’t he got his wings yet?”  When summoned, the guardian angel-second class appears as NGC 7317 of the constellation Pegasus at the bottom of the frame.

Wednesday, 20 September 2023

the panic of 1873 (11. 011)

The period of economic stagnation originally referred to as the Great or Long Depression before the interwar slump set new standards for the definition and though caused by a range of contributing factors including the opening of the Suez Canal that was disruptive for entrepรดt trade (also controlled by the British Empire, goods from the Far East were formerly warehoused in South Africa with the previous sea route around the Cape of Good Hope and the traditional sailing ships could not be adapted to navigate the new short-cut as the prevailing Mediterranean winds pushed them back into the Red Sea), devastating fires in Chicago and Boston and Germany going off the bimetallic standard—precipitating a fall in silver prices, the financial crisis with global implications was chiefly attributed to rampant speculation by investors in railroads and boom in their construction particularly in the United States following the Civil War. The panic began on this day in 1873 with the collapse of the Jay Cooke & Company, an innovative banking institution and brokerage house that pioneered the use of “wire” transfers and confirming transactions over telegraph lines, overextended and unable to sell on millions in bonds it had secured to build a second transcontinental line. With the railroad company and the bank indebted, bankruptcy soon followed with contagion spreading to other financial institutions and the insurance industry, prompting the closure of the New York Stock Exchange for ten days with immediate redundancies in the manufacturing sector. Railroad workers went on strike in protest of reduced wages, further exacerbating the crisis and knock-on effects overseas which led to a wave in immigration to the States that coincided with the easing of the turmoil by 1879.

Sunday, 17 September 2023

begleiten wir die orion und ihre besatzung bei ihrem patouillendienst am rande der unendlichkeit (11. 006)

Debuting on this day in 1966 on the West German public-service broadcaster ARD, nearly parallel to Gene Roddenbury’s Star Trek, Die phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffes Orion was the country’s first televised science fiction series set in not too distance future of a united, space-faring Earth following the voyages of a starship commander and crew who patrol the galaxy monitoring for threats. >Pointedly notorious for their defiance of superiors, the complement includes a officer of the GSD (Galakistcher Sicherheits-dienst) military intelligence service assigned to keep the Orion under check—and while the crew do not trust Lt Tamara Jagellovsk, over the arc of the seven episodes of the first and only season of the show, they ultimately develop feelings of respect for her—which is reciprocated by her omitting certain liberties taken in her mission reports to higher headquarters. Cyborgs (Roboter) are also prominently featured as guards and domestics but their use is shown to be problematic and prone to malfunction. Other fictional technologies include the Astroscheibe, which serves the same function as the view screen on the bridge of the Enterprise, Lichtweferbatterie—-photon-torpedos, รœberlichtantrieb—Warp Drive, and while no transporter capabilities exist (famously improvised as a way to cut out the expense of depicting launch and landing scenes), the Orion often docks at deep-sea bases, modern and beautiful cities built underwater. The main antagonists were an extraterrestrial species referred to as Frogs. Despite the series’ short run, it quickly achieved cult-status with re-runs and novelisations continuing the story and limning out the characters. The entire run is available online with subtitles.

Friday, 15 September 2023

9x9 (11. 002)

you deserve to sit: a comedian’s silly song about their favourite inactivity  

๐Ÿ˜ธ: visit a random feline friend featured on Wikipedia—via Pasa Bon!  

& let it stonde .1. nyght or .2.: a medieval recipe for mead  

montage: the animated collages of Alice Issac  

shrinkflation: a French supermarket chain displaying advisory labels to alert consumers 

word alienation and semantic satiation: one of the laureates of the thirty-third Ig Noble Awards—see also here and here  

consult our extensive archives: veteran broadcaster—and BBC’s first podcaster, Melvyn Bragg celebrates one thousand episodes  

pagliacci: a pizza chef turns melodramatic over a cursed request


one year ago: Our Lady of Sorrows plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: forest mascots (1971) plus a Star Trek: TAS classic

three years ago: more Trek with “Amok Time,” illustrations from the children of Charles Darwin, rousing public sentiment following the Gunpowder Plot, life signs on Venus plus a COVID movie-night

four years ago: more on Jupiter’s moons, a hot Colonel Sanders, public crucifixes, Lovecraft in the style of Dr Seuss plus Graphis Press

five years ago: an AI names apples, the Ig Noble Awards, the Great Recession’s Lost Decade plus legalising marijuana confounded by travel regulations

Monday, 11 September 2023

galvanic response (10. 997)

Via the New Shelton wet/dry, we learn that from 1950 to 1973 the Canadian civil service, to include the Mounties and the armed forces, amid the general moral panic applied to different lifestyles and the notion (reenforced by social pressures to hide one’s identity) that gay men were susceptible to honey-pot operations and recruitment by Marxist espionage utilised a device called the “fruit machine”—a pejorative yet re-appropriated term—to screen out homosexual candidates and eliminate government workers (see also). Test subjects were sat in a dentist’s chair and made to view a series of pictures, ostensibly to rate stressors, but from the pedestrian to the pornographic gauged pupillary (eye dilation) to other involuntary responses as a proxy for erotic thoughts with a deeply flawed set of assumptions that potentially (funding was withdrawn in the late 1960s but the technique was still employed) cost up to nine-thousand individuals their careers.

ฮถ ursae majoris (10. 995)

Still awaiting flying cars (aka roadable aircraft) we were promised, the first pair of fatalities occurred on this day in 1973, when co-founders of AVE (Advanced Vehicle Engineers) Henry Smolinski and Harold Blake were test-piloting a Mizar prototype (named after the lodestar in the Big Dipper) in Oxnard, California. Mating a Cessna airframe to a Ford Pinto, an earlier test-flight had revealed stress of the struts and the deadly crash succumbed to the same design flaw, setting the field back significantly, though one-off developments continue. 


one year ago: an important battle in the Scottish War of Independence (1297)

two years ago: 80s automotive dashboards, avian photograph of the year, the Dead Internet conspiracy theory plus Midcentury Modern home-entertainment consoles

three years ago: a memorable, perfectly timed photograph, Disintegration Loops, fiery skies plus assorted links to revisit

four years ago: US pulls funding for the UN migration agency, more on the art and writing of William Blake plus imagining what’s beyond the frame

five years ago: a web-cam aimed at the North Tower,  an international trombone festival, corporate sponsored space exploration plus the US attacks the International Criminal Court

Thursday, 7 September 2023

notices and diffusions (10. 988)

Founded on this day in 1923 after several earlier attempts that failed to gain international support in response to harmonise global police response in the face of increased travel and trade that was accompanied by attendant transnational criminal enterprises at the conclusion of a five-day congress in Vienna, Interpol under the presidency of the summit’s organiser, jurist, law enforcement official and former Austrian chancellor Johannes Schober was chartered with a mandate to investigate trafficking, political corruption and counterfeiting—into include copyright infringements and not as an supernational police force, despite popular conception, only liaising between jurisdictions. Interpol is, by its constitution, expressly forbidden to intervene in matters of politics or military, religious or racial matters and maintain neutrality—a stance that has garnered the organisation criticism over the years, leading to arrests of dissident refugees at their behest and their avoidance of pursuing war crimes.


one year ago: St Elmo’s Fire (1985),  a powerful political ad (1964) plus the end of the 9€ ticket scheme

two years ago: more on the development of kitchen design, Wikipedia Commons (2004), a Muppets conspiracy theory, Dancing Queen (1976) plus more false Dmitris

three years ago: the Abbots Bromley horn dance, circumnavigating the globe by car (1929) plus a pretty keen sports mascot 

four years ago: the abbey of LandรฉvennecMidcentury Modern emoji, more on the Periodic Table, The Book of Kells plus Astro Boy (1963)

five years ago: lemons and the mafia, toxic-loving plants plus getting rid of plastic ring beer binders

Monday, 4 September 2023

fireworks (10. 982)

Filmed on a sixteen millimetre camera received as a birthday gift from his grandmother and a significant upgrade from his former hand-cranked camera at his home in Beverly Hills whilst his parents were away for a long weekend in 1947, the debut short from Kenneth Anger (previously) was one of the first works in this media to focus on a homosexuality as a subject. Inspired by witnessing a group of US sailors attacking men with Mexican heritage during the Zoot Suit Riots, which is manifest in dreamer of Fireworks—the filmmaker to later add that “this flick is all I have to say about being seventeen, the United States Navy, American Christmas and the Fourth of July”—and is scored with the tone poem Pines of Rome by Ottorino Respighi. American sexologist Alfred Kinsey bought the film’s original print, and although the first cinema owner who screened it was arrested on obscenity charges, the case was overturned on appeal by the Supreme Court of California, ruling that homosexuality—even overtly referenced—was a valid theme for artistic expression.

Friday, 1 September 2023

num8er5 (10. 974)

Via Web Curios (much more to explore on the weekly roundup), we are directed towards an list of the first ten-thousand digits as indexed by Erich Friedman with a distinguishing fact for each that makes the number special. Among the new and revisited concepts we learned about our favourites were seventeen possible wallpaper groupings that can cover a plane with an indefinitely repeating motif—patterns often found in textiles and tessellations, Mersenne Primes, the weird sequence in the eight thousand nine hundred and seventies that all equal 8 + 9⁴ + 7⁴ + n and Narcissistic Numbers, like 153 (=1³+5³+3³) which may be amusing for amateurs and in puzzles (see also) but hold no mathematical significance.


one year ago: Tina Turner’s What’s Love Got to Do With It? (1984) plus Gothic scribal styles and the push for greater legibility 

two years ago: AI-driven music mashups, the Carrington Event (1859), the Cod Wars (1958), assorted links to revisit plus re-train as a swan

three years ago: a lifeboat sponsored by Banksy,  an oath against modernism plus the several saints named Hyacinth

four years ago: more problematic upscaling plus a return to Mont Saint Michel

five years ago: more from the OED’s Weekly Word Watch, the West German Grundgesetz drafted (1948), the Village Voice folds plus a parchment iPad

Sunday, 27 August 2023

best in show (10. 967)

During a grouse hunting party four years earlier, the managing director of the brewery Sir Hugh Beaver became involved with a shooting companion over the identity of the fastest game bird in the region—owing to his having missed his quarry ostensibly—and realising that there was no easy way of settling this debate without recourse to experts saw an immediate niche in the reference book market. Beaver employed a London fact-finding agency run by brothers Norris and Ross McWhirter (both boasting encyclopaedic memories) compiled The Guinness Book of Superlatives and gave away a thousand copies to associates and to bars licensed to serve the beer. Due to its surprise popularity, a two-hundred page edition was bound the following year, released on this day in 1955 and became best-seller in the UK immediately, prompting a second edition before Christmas and entered the international market. Beginning in the early 1970s, the annual began to include record feats of strength and stamina by human individuals as well as facts about the natural world and is considered one of the best-selling books of all time.


one year ago: happy birthday George Jetson, St Monica of Hippo, experiments with OpenAI plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: the eruption of Kraktoa (1883), a clever, interactive CV and help wanted ad plus the origin of the word antidote

three years ago: the Zugspitze surveyed and summitted (1820), home shopping with Harrod’s, an abundance of caution, the Hatch Act (1939) plus a seventeenth century friends book

five years ago: pulp covers reimagined by Todd Alcott plus the Kellogg-Briand Pact against future wars (1928) 

six years ago: a pocket Wikipedia

Sunday, 20 August 2023

wattstax (10. 953)

The name a play on the Woodstock festival, the benefit concert to commemorate the seventh anniversary 1965 Watts Riots and help the community and organised by Stax Records with all the label’s biggest stars took place in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on this day in 1972, selected for coinciding with the thirtieth birthday of major talent Isaac Hayes. Spanning the musical genres of soul, funk, blues and jazz and included sets by Kim Weston, The Staple Singers, Eddie Floyd, Rufus Thomas, Ernie Hines, Hayes and The Bar-Kays. Invocation and various speeches were given by civil rights leader Jesse Jackson. Tickets priced at a suggested donation of one dollar so everyone could attend, the festival was filmed by David Lloyd Wolper (the producer by the television mini-series Roots, North and South, and the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1984 LA Olympics) and released the following year to high acclaim.


one year ago: a visit to a potash mine

two years ago: Davy Jones & The Lower Third (1965), more miniatures from Tatsuya Tanaka plus links worth revisiting

three years ago: more words of Shakespearian coinage, quality control officers, the August Coup in Russia (1991) plus the ravens of the Tower of London miss the tourists

four years ago: a classic from Miles Davis (1959), a disembodied hand dominates the skyline in Wellington plus the plague of e-scooters

five years ago: dawn in the woods, the logos of Paul Rand, an on-screen marriage ceremony that may have been legally binding, winning-streaks plus Soviets crush reform attempts in Czechoslovakia (1968)

Tuesday, 15 August 2023

die bauhausausstellung von 1923 (10. 945)

Opening on this day in Weimar and running for the next six weeks, the exhibition was the first public presentation of the art and architecture movement founded in 1919, and advertised in around one-hundred train stations with Oskar Schlemmer’s Bauhaus logo (the event delayed due individual presenting workshops wanting to prefect their items in accordance with the shift from handwork to industrial production and the poster stickered over), attracting around fifteen-thousand visitors. The first week included lectures by Walter Gropius and Wassily Kandinsky, ballets and concert performances and a procession with lanterns and fireworks. Installations included a model home, ceramics and various painting and building designs by contemporary figures such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier. Occurring during the height of the Great Depression, the exhibition became of symbol of the culture war simmering in Germany with praise and enthusiasm on one side for the school’s creative and educational goals and roundly rejected by conservative leaning critics who felt strengthened in their position by the relative financial failure.

Sunday, 13 August 2023

(pronounced 'lฤ•h-'nรฉrd ‘skin-'nรฉrd) (10. 940)

Released on this day in 1973 some nine years after the southern and blues rock band formed, their debut studio album contains some of their best songs—including “Free Bird,” which elevated their profile to stardom. Most of the tracks were already well established in the band’s repertoire in their circuit of the Florida and Georgia music scene but the record exposed the work of Ronnie Van Zant, Allen Collins, Bob Burns and Larry Junstrom to much wider audience and a subsequent tour as the opening act for The Who propelled their success, with the correctly IPA pronunciation guide rendered as /หŒlษ›nษ™rd หˆskษชnษ™rd/, saw the album certified Gold by December 1974 and Double-Platinum by the summer of 1987. The 1973 original recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008 and has become a snowclone for audience requests and encores (famously with MTV’s Unplugged 1993 of Nirvana), regardless of the artist or style of music being performed.

one year ago: KC and the Sunshine Band plus the Angelus prayer

two years ago: your daily demon: Astaroth, building the Berlin Wall (1961), assorted links to revisit plus a flying Winnebago
three years ago: the Roman holiday Vertumnus, Saint Cassian, the Inception Sequel, The Hunting of the Snark, luring a cautious public back to the movies, an isolation odyssey plus pandemic border restrictions
four years ago: the design of the Japanese flag, Italian car design plus the script of the Saanich people
five years ago: an update on the TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport

Saturday, 5 August 2023

the smoking gun (10. 927)

Released to the prosecution on this day responding to a subpoena decided by SCOTUS a few weeks prior that ruled executive privilege did not confer immunity from cooperating with the courts, one recording among the cache of tapes documented the preliminary stages of the Watergate coverup, with Nixon and H R Haldeman, Chief of Staff, overheard in a meeting in the Oval Office discussing how to thwart the ongoing investigation by the FBI of the break-in at the Democratic National Headquarters. Acknowledging both the risk involved if the plan came to light and giving the approach his approval, this revelation ran counter to the narrative presented that Nixon was not involved in the scandal nor had interfered with the FBI’s work—assigning the jurisdiction to the CIA. Political and public support evaporated immediately and the ten Republican senators on the impeachment jury who had initially voted to acquit the president changed their position, prompting Nixon’s almost immediate resignation in lieu of conviction and removal.

Thursday, 3 August 2023

music can be such a revelation (10. 923)

The artist Madonna achieved his first number one on the UK singles chart on this day in 1985 with her contribution to the sound track of Desperately Seeking Susan—the song not officially released in the US in order to not detract from sales of her Like a Virgin prelude “Crazy for You” nor given a proper music video, only a montage of scenes from the film that was nonetheless in heavy circulation on MTV. The movie’s director Susan Seidelman rejected Kelly McGillis, Melanie Griffith and Diane Keaton for the title role and cast Madonna (also launching the careers of co-stars Aiden Quinn and Rosanna Arquette) after an encounter in the “downtown music scene” with the artist offering her song for a disco scene shot in the Manhattan Danceteria nightclub.


one year ago:  the Disposition of Christ plus Tears for Fears

two years ago: waggling the dog, the first email in Germany (1984), reimagined, retro social platforms plus the movie posters of Richard Amsel

three years ago: Joe Columbo’s Chair Universal,  Prussia—Borussia plus the photography of Alberto Lenardo

four years ago: a Jugenstil and Art Deco exhibit, Poolside FM, Every Noise at Once, precision taping plus a trip to the Black Moor

five years ago: photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White,  prescient warnings about global warming plus the cult of Q-Anon

Friday, 28 July 2023

vinnie ream (10. 911)

On this day, aged 18, in 1866 Lavina Ellen Ream Hoxie became the youngest and first female sculptor to receive a commission by the US government for her most famous and celebrated work, the statue of Abraham Lincoln (see also here and here) in the Capitol rotunda. Ream also sculpted the bronze of Cherokee inventor Sequoyah (the town of Vinita, Oklahoma in Statuary Hall and the monument of David Farragut in Washington DC’s Farragut Square. Although her selection by the House of Congress to render a life-sized marble of the president had already generated some controversy over her experience and false accusations by some factions that she was a “lobbyist”—the term at the time referring to a public woman of ill-repute and Ream took the slander and attacks in stride, it was mild compared to the scapegoating and unrelenting attacks to come. Whilst working on Lincoln in a basement studio of the Capitol, the impeachment proceedings of Andrew Johnson were taking place in the chambers above. Failing to secure a conviction that would have removed Johnson from office, by a single vote, radical elements of the Republican Party sought out someone to blame other than their own members and deflect from the bribery that was actually the motivating factor. It was discovered that the Kansas senator, Edmund G Ross, who cast the decisive vote to acquit was staying in a DC boarding house owned by Ream’s father during the trial, and it was suggested that Ream, notably absent from the family lodging operation and busy with her work, had somehow influenced Ross’ vote in order to vouchsafe her commission and preserve the legacy of Lincoln through saving his predecessor. The House passed a resolution to turn the studio space into a guardroom and nearly ejected Ream and her unfinished statue from the Capitol. The press and the art community aired their outrage at this petty retaliation and Congress eventually reversed the decision. Ream went on to open studios in New York and Washington after studying in Europe and producing busts of continental celebrities including Franz Liszt and Gustave Dorรฉ, her career essentially ending after her marriage at twenty-four as it was considered unseemly for a married woman to earn an income.


one year agoEilean Donan plus Castle Linlithgow

two years ago: your daily demon: Bunรฉ, assorted links to revisit, a silly super villain plus a Czech space opera

three years ago: artist Lรฉon Spilliaert, cartooning the US constitution, assorted links worth the revisit plus moving forward with fusion technology

four years ago: more links to check out, a food writer and former pirate plus growing one’s own victory garden


Thursday, 20 July 2023

hrรณlfr (10. 896)

Following his uncertain defeat on this day in 911 in the Siege of Chartres, the Viking leader Rollo entered into negotiations with Frankish king Charles III, called the Simple (Carolus Simplex) and despite his loss in battle, as a result of the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte, discussed in person between the two figures was granted the Duchy of Normandy, having rejected the offer of Flanders as uncultivable, and the king’s daughter Princess Gisela in exchange for Rollo’s oath of fealty and conversion to Christianity—plus protection from general Viking brigandry as well as agreeing to halt his own raids—see also. As the first duke of the realm, his immediate heirs, William Longsword (Guillaume Longue-ร‰pรฉe) and Richard I, Sans-Peur established Normandy as a formidable principality and his great-great-great grandson, one William the Conquerer, went on to found the Angevin and Plantagenet dynasties.


one year ago: a special cocktail to celebrate the lunar landing plus visiting Aberdeenshire

two years ago: more adventures in Sweden

three years ago: St Wilgefortis

four years ago: the abstract art of Fritz Glarner, Viking I on Mars (1976),  Operation Valkyrie (1944) plus the Apollo landing (1969)

five years ago: more on the American gun cult, Radio Free Europe, a poorly executed extinction bell that’s somehow apt, a remixed School House Rock! for turbulent times plus on in-fixes and tmesis

Wednesday, 19 July 2023

walkflatter, wheel glutter, whim driver (10. 894)

Far removed from butcher, baker, candlestick-maker and seeming like a list that could have generated by an AI, we enjoyed perusing this register of job titles declared in the Census of 1881, the a snapshot of every household in the United Kingdom on the night of Sunday, 3 April of that year, the fifth decennial but the first to include details (mostly without context) on members of homes, compiled a few years later in The Companion to the Almanac; or Year-Book of General Information for 1885, sub-chapter The Occupations of the English People. Some of the more unusual professional entries are Sad-iron maker, Butt Woman, Peas Maker, Off-Beater, Dirt Refiner, Blabber and All-Rounder. Respondents of note include Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, Winston Churchill and one William Neal without portfolio as he was considered “too idle.”

Sunday, 16 July 2023

batter my heart, three-person’d god (10. 889)

The first demonstration resulting from the Manhattan Project, a race to harness the destructive power of a nuclear weapon—the allied US and Great Britain urged to master the technology before fascist powers, Trinity, occurred on this day in 1945, the test carried out in the Jornada del Muerto desert in New Mexico, using the only pre-existing structures in the area as a laboratory to study the effects of “the Gadget,” the McDonald family ranch requisitioned by the American government and also where bomb components were assembled. J Robert Oppenheimer recalls that the project’s code name was inspired by the poetry of John Donne and of witnessing the dread blast with a retinue of some four-hundred fifty scientists and military observers that a parallel verse from the Bhagavad Gita also came to mind, knowing the world would not be the same and narrating the feelings of the awe-struck, the hysterical and inconsolable, thought of Vishnu’s attempt to persuade Prince Arjuna to perform his duty and overcome his moral dilemmas in a state of war and appeared before him in the aspect of his universal form, announcing, “Now I am become Death, destroyer of worlds.” A near copy of the bomb was detonated in August over Nagasaki.