Wednesday 12 June 2024

11x11 (11. 625)

indemnity clause: a look at the exactingly detailed Sanborn maps created for US insurance firms in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries 

unseen persia: thousands of historic photographs of Iran during the Qajar dynasty leaked on-line from the archive of the Golestan Palace  

sweet thing: Chaka Khan’s debut Tiny Desk performance  

bahรญa de cochinos: Russian warships on drill visit Cuba  

doubly-disambiguated bishop non-capture statemale: a vlogger tries to categorise the rarest chess moves  

transponder: wood proves surprisingly durable material in space as agencies plan to launch experimental satellites, like ships on the high seas—via the Linkfest  

1337: a pretty exhaustive list of English words that can be spelled on a calculator turned upside down  

hollywood canteen: a fond farewell to Janis Page, recently departed at 101  

the brannock device: a better shoe-sizer based on the barley corn  

gallus gallus domesticus: photographer recreates exacting portraits of Edo-era Ito Jakuchu’s studies of chickens—via Nag on the Lake  

geochron: the incredible restoration of 1960s analog, electromechanical world clock and map

Tuesday 4 June 2024

schachmatt (11. 605)

Archaeologists have discovered a nearly millennium old gaming collection preserved in the rubble of the ruins of Burgstein fortress near the village of the Holzelfinger in the Lichtenstein district south of Tรผbingen. Pieces include dice, flower-shaped tokens and a chessman (see below) carved from deer antler and have been remarkably well preserved.  One of the seven skills that knights (Ritter, the game piece is called Springer—see previously) were expected to master (fencing, archery, hunting, swimming, riding and poetry being the other disciplines), researchers hope that further analysis of the find will lead to insights in play in Europe during the Middle Ages. While studies continue, the pieces will be on display at a special exhibition hosted in the Schlรถsspark in Pfullingen near Stuttgart. More at The History Blog at the link up top, including videos and three-dimension recreations of the artefacts.


synchronoptica

one year ago: extended frames by AI, assorted links worth revisiting plus an overview of fan-fiction

two years ago: Poltergeist (1982), the Rotel plus more links to enjoy

three years ago: vintage Japanese electronics

four years ago: the Free Republic of Wendland (1980),  Roquefort cheese (1411), a counter-protest photo op, spagetty images plus more on the colour of money

five years ago: the thirty-fifth of May (1989), more on the Lewis Chessmen, an AI names cats, an innovative airplane design plus flight-shaming

Sunday 20 August 2023

9x9 (10. 954)

cucumber castle: a star-studded promotional film for the Bee-Gee’s medieval-themed, chivalrous 1970 album  

as big as a football pitch: the vague rulers of informal metrology 

good(bye) design: a tribute to the aesthetic of vintage consumer tech by Miki Nemcek with a special focus on Braun  

grand master: World Chess Federation places restrictions on trans competitors  

1:25: a tour inside the scale model of St Paul’s, hidden in a chamber in the attic 

 : like Zuckerburg explored before—in violation of app store policies—Elon Musk is threatening to remove Twitter’s block feature  

magalog: combination magazine-catalogue that was successful print model in the 1970s  

langue รฉtrangรจre: faced with budget-shortfalls, US public university cutting foreign language from its ciriculum 

elephant in the room: the imprint of favourite songs of our formative years and what that says about our capacity for new things

Sunday 28 May 2023

7x7 (10. 771)

schachtรผrke: a fraudulent chess-playing automaton launched the AI debate in 1770 

bart: the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit has new anime mascots—each of the characters has a backstory 

pattiegonia: facing the expected backlash from staunch conservatives after featuring a drag star in their ads, the North Face refused to back down—this is not a white flag 

beyond the yellow brick road: the reading that The Wizard of Oz is a Populist political allegory is kind of an incoherent mess, suggested over six decades after it was written—via Strange Company  

buena vista social club: a restored, enhanced 1972 tour of Disney World 

priority road: one individual’s quest to document the unusual, confusing traffic signs of Japan  

lexus nexus: lawyer turns to ChatGPT for help in finding precedence a client’s case, citing a wholly fabricated disputes and settlements—via Waxysee also

Saturday 8 April 2023

10x10 (10. 662)

never fearing guns or numbers like a tiger to its meat, the stranger then attacked the pirate fleet: a space-age sea-shanty by Duane Elms of Carmen Miranda’s Ghost, courtesy of Shadow Manor 

sorcerer’s apprentice: angry to have been out-manoeuvred by Disney’s lawyers, Florida governor declares all-out war against the theme park 

sea life: a 1923 chessboard designed by Max Esser for MeiรŸen—via ibฤซdem 

shelling out: a gallery of vintage Easter confections family album: being first on the scene to document shipwrecks is a generational business  

the tiffany network: an all-star roll for the 1978 fiftieth anniversary of the Columbia Broadcasting System  

blogoversary: a belated congratulations to Map Room as it reaches the milestone of twenty years of blogging  

late-stage sea-monkeys: targeted ads are generally promoting the worst possible version of a product  

bohemian grove: the secretive club back in the headlines after revelations of US Supreme Court Justice Thomas’ gifts included a trip to the exclusive retreat 

falmouth: the annual, international festival of maritime music returns in June

Friday 7 October 2022

7x7 (10. 203)

silphium: an ancient superfood of the Mediterranean world thought extinct possibly rediscovered in Turkey—via Strange Company 

unsung heroes: a LEGO diorama depicts a crew keeping the sewers unblocked—with more links to fatbergs  

mlle musidora: reviving a forgotten icon of the Belle ร‰poque—see also  

centaur chess: machines can handily beat grand masters but a computer-human team is unstoppable  

the legend of sleepy hallow: the wild ride behind the Headless Horseman

pendant lighting: Ambience Studio upcycles LEGO bricks into a colourful lamp  

pommes bleu: the annual optical spectacle that the intersection of the sun and these stained glass windows of the chapel of Rennes le Chรขteau draws pilgrims

Friday 16 September 2022

7x7 (10. 139)

daisy-chain: Wikipedia Speedruns—connect two topics (see also) across the fewest links—via Waxy

blast-oven: a proposed giant brick toaster could harness excess heat from industry and redistribute it as electricity

checkmate: investigating the cheating scandal vexing the chess world—via Digg  

the queen’s speech: at look at how accents change as we age and how Elizabeth II’s manner of talking reflected broader changes in society  

royal peculiar: reflections and impressions on visiting Westminster Abbey when the statuary far outnumber the tourists 

ubiquity: an invisible coating transforms windows and any glass surfaces into solar panels  

outrun: Google Maps Driver Simulation mode and more cartographical arcade games

Sunday 21 August 2022

1.d4 (10. 074)

Not discounting the possibility of promotion—or queening—or underpromotion in scenarios when too many queens would cause a draw over a stalemate, we enjoyed learning that in medieval gaming traditions, each pawn was assigned a common occupation, ranging from the king’s rook’s to the queen’s rook: farmer, smith, notary, merchant, physician, innkeeper, watchman and town crier. These roles were handed down to us in the collected sermons of mid-thirteenth century Dominican friar from Asti, Jacopo da Cessole, who authored a morality book through the pieces and protocols of the game—the Book of Chess, De ludo scachorum. First printed a century and a half after it was written, it became one of the most popular early books, possibly even rivalling the Bible for its life lessons and accessible social allegory, and became the basis for printer William Caxton’s The Game and Playe of the Chess, only the second book published in English. More at Futility Closet at the link above.

Monday 11 July 2022

match of the century

The opening game occurring on this day in 1972, the World Chess Championship pitted US challenger Bobby Fischer against defending champion Boris Spassky of the USSR (see previously), the former after twenty-one matches played over the course of five weeks ending a twenty-four year Soviet monopoly on the title. The tournament was hosted in Reykjavรญk, and Fischer didn’t score a win until round three, most ending in a draw (the scoring convention was a bit skewed and encouraged whomever was in the lead to play for ties rather than an outright conquest)—though at 12½ to 8½, Fischer could be proclaimed as the undisputed overall victor under those rules.

Saturday 14 May 2022

a show with everything but yul brenner

After previews and the critically-acclaimed release of a concept album, the musical collaboration by ABBA members Benny Andersson and Bjรถrn Ulvaeus and Tim Rice had its premiere in London’s West End on this day in 1986, depicting geopolitical tensions of the Cold War through the lens of a tournament between two grandmasters of the game, loosely based on the game careers of Bobby Fischer (Murray Head) and Anatoly Karpov (Tommy Kรถrberg) whose stakes were reflective of the sentiment of the era and the Reagan, Thatcher Doctrine of the mid-80s. Songs include of course “One Night in Bangkok.” Full-length bootleg recording of the original cast below.

Friday 13 May 2022

6x6

sagittarius a*: the Event Horizon Telescope captures images of the Milky Way’s Black Hole—previously  

sluggo: “Music from Nancy”—via Waxy  

click-wheel: with the announcement that the last iteration of the iPod is being discontinued after two decades (see also), enjoy this first commercial advertisement  

anamorphic camouflage illusion: the Phantom Queen optical effect  

รผbersetzer: Google Translate adds languages using Zero-Shot Machine Translation, now facilitating communication among one hundred and thirty-three different languages  

white dwarf: astronomers witness a nova in real time

Thursday 17 February 2022

chess ‘72

Via Weird Universe we are treated to this over-the-top piece of presidential memorabilia touted as the invitation to invest in America history through art in this rather ghoulish game board commemorating the year in politics with Republicans versus Democrats and portraying personages (by internationally famous sculptor Alexander Silveri for the low price of $32.45) such as Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Henry Kissinger (as Queen) pitted against Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, Edward Kennedy and Sam Yorty. There was a second version released the following year dedicated to the Watergate scandal. More at the link up top.

Wednesday 16 February 2022

ultimate shลgi

Via the always serendipitous Futility Closet we are introduced to traditional Japanese chessplay through the rediscovery of a sixteenth-century variant gambolled on a thirty-six by thirty-square board—populated by over eight hundred pieces—for a pitched-battled of several sessions of many hours. Likely a bespoke set created for a monastery and not widely played, the rules of engagement are unclear but generally pieces move according to their axises (+ or ×), promotable and achieving checkmate with one’s opponents multiple kings and princes was the objective. Playable characters (yes—do tag yourself) include Queen or Free Dream-Eater (ๅฅ”็Ž‹), Earth Dragon (ๅœฐ้พ), Treacherous Fox (้š ็‹), Free Bear (ๅฅ”็†Š), Running Pup (่ตฐ็‹—), Fragrant Elephant (่ฑก็Ž‹) and Vertical Tiger (็ซช่™Ž) just to name a few. Much more at the link above.

Tuesday 18 January 2022

king’s pawn game

Via the always attuned Things Magazine, we are introduced to the brilliant and influential ambient, electronica artist Manuel Gรถttsching, leader of the Ash Ra Tempel group, through the lens of his solo work, named for the opening chess move (also a reference to the harmonic range of a guitar, Gรถttsching’s primary instrument)—an hour long track improvised with a sequencer in 1984. A mainstay of techno happenings, the artist was rather taken aback to learn that people danced to his music.

Sunday 14 November 2021

1. e4 e5

Via ibฤซdem, we are directed towards an exquisite narrative told through a game of guided-chess based on a famous round played between New Orleans native Paul Charles Morphy (*1837 - †1884, a prodigy and called the pride and sorrow of the game for having announced his retirement while still in his prime) and simultaneous exhibition, blindfolded against Karl II, Duke of Brunswick and Comte Isouard de Vauvenarguesat the Italian Opera House of Paris, a parallel playbill as it were for the night’s performance of Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma.

Saturday 23 October 2021

7x7

floh u. trรถdel: couple’s costume ideas—via the ever excellence Everlasting Blรถrt 

boutonniere: Harriet Parry’s flower arrangements reproduce iconic fine art and classic tarot card designs—via ibฤซdem

microface: a quick quiz to identify whether the subject is a font or a Marvel character (see previously)—via Kottke’s Quick Links  

์˜ค์ง•์–ด ๊ฒŒ์ž„: Squid Games Funko-Pop characters—see also 

pyrrhic victory: the rules of play for a variant called Atomic Chess allows a pawn crossing the breadth of the game board promotion to a scale that would instantaneously annihilate all pieces—of both sides

rollercoaster tycoon: Saudi Arabia transforms a decommissioned drilling platform into an extreme amusement park  

hell no: a sensible horror film

Wednesday 22 September 2021

7x7

ppe: an enigmatic update to COVID guidelines 

i don’t want to live on this planet anymore: a supercut of Futurama gags that have endured  

norm macdonald has a show: an appreciation of the comedian’s (†) early standup  

ernie and the emperors: a Giant Crab discography (1969) 

grandmaster: the mental and physical tolls of chess  

appareil: gorgeous French brick patterns from a 1878 catalogue 

 tireless research: Ruben Bolling showcases great scientists of the twenty-first century

Friday 18 June 2021

blanc joue et mate en 2

Via the morning news, we learn that not only is there a developed, strategic version of free to print and play one-dimensional chess, there’s quite an extensive history of 1D chess variants going back decades—even as early, in the form at least of single row, constricted practises, as 1925.

Friday 19 March 2021

7x7

centre of attention: country-focused map world map projections (see previously)  

foia follies: celebrating the worst in US government transparency  

double-bongcloud: top chess players making bizarrely risky openings—via Kottke  

the positively true adventures of the alleged texas cheerleader-murdering mom: fifty year old charged with harassment for producing deepfakes to defame her daughter’s competition and get them kicked off the squad 

letterlocked: using x-ray technology and artificial intelligence (see also) to read historical epistolary works without destroying them 

house of the muses: a search engine that finds visual correspondence among masterpieces in world-class art museums via Open Culture  

terra incognita: a sonic sea chart of phantom islands (previously here and here)—via Things Magazine

Tuesday 23 February 2021

Via the always interesting Language Hat, we are referred to a circumspect survey of the names for the six chess pieces in different languages, seventy-eight to be precise. Just a few noteworthy items to compare and contrast, the Rook—usually called a Tower or Fortress in many languages is a ship (ะ›ะฐะดัŒั́) in Russian, and while the Queen is usually a royal consort and co-equal, the piece is a vizier or viceroy in Arabic, Hindi, Turkish and Russian. The Bishop can also be interpreted as a messenger or runner—from the Latin for cursor. Metonymically, the King was originally the Persian Shah and when under attack by the opposing side, was said to be in check and during the end-game, checkmate—that is, the king is defeated.