Tuesday 18 June 2024

9x9 (11. 636)

who is this imposter: AI ruins classic, static reaction memes with animation  

๐Ÿฅ–: the bygone baguette boxes of French Polynesia—via Messy Nessy Chic  

quantum compass: London Underground hosts trials for a subatomic sensor that could supplement satellite navigation  

crystal lake: the preponderance of 1980s horror movies set at summer camp  

ball & chain: Nag on the Lake shares a special memory from Festival Express, the touring show of Monterey Pop, when the musicians came to Toronto

message in a bottle: the dozen times humans have tried to communicate with extra-terrestrial intelligences—see previously here, here and here  

encarta: the short, happy reign of the multimedia CD-ROM as part of Fast Company’s 1994 Week—via Slashdot  

casa bonita: a 1974 amusement park restaurant reopens under new management and with a monumental wait-list 

 surgeon general’s warning: US top doctor urges health notices for social media


one year ago: an AI’s take on emoji (plus synchronoptica), assorted links worth revisiting, a human computer plus Adsense (2003)

five years ago: Sweden’s alcohol monopoly, the UK Carbon Brief plus more links to enjoy

six years ago: a Banksy gallery opens, first issue magazine covers, the War of 1812, a space slingshot, more links worth the revisit plus Trump and Merkel

seven years ago: the US withdrawal from the Paris Treaty plus even more links

nine years ago: tobacco introduced to the Old World, more links, Hocus Pocus plus the nobiliary particle

Saturday 15 June 2024

8x8 (11. 632)

anabolics: the mainstreaming of casual steroid use  

cover model: the identity of the individual on the iconic Duran Duran album revealed four decades on—via Miss Cellania  

rank and file: a woodland-themed chessboard that rolls up into a log 

the imitation game: researchers claim that GPT-4 has passed the Turing Test—see previously 

london underground: spelunking through the strata of the ancient city  

non-playable character: determinism versus emergence and the question of free will  

ticino: a cache of five-thousand photographs spanning from 1900 to 1930 taken by a poor seed-peddler captures life in a remote, Italian-speaking Swiss canton  

food that makes you gay: stereotypes and gender in what we eat—via Web Curios

Wednesday 5 June 2024

8x8 (11. 608)

i’m too busy helping plot world domination to bother with such run-of-the-mill liberal brainwashing: a day in the life of Mister Anthony Fauci, according to one Congressional representative  

syllabus: a reading list spanning nine-decades—via Messy Nessy Chic  

psychotronics: the prospect of telepathy is once again tantalisingly close—see previously  

foreign accent: TWA’s 1968 campaign to introduce cosmopolitan flair for US domestic flights  

zoonotic: cross-species viral transmission cases is an ominous warning for the public health community—see previously  

the rot-com bubble: the deterioration of tech began with iterative, virtual fetishes—starting with the gig-economy, moving on to crypto, NFTs, the metaverse and now AI, substitutes and replacements that no one asked for 

anagnosology: the science of reading from Alie Ward

look at me, i’m mtg, lousy with stupidity: one of the latest from Randy Rainbow


one year ago: The Truman Show (1988) plus a follow-up on an Italian archaeological discovery

two years ago: Uncle Albert (1971) plus a selection of British tongue-twisters

three years ago: a preliminary report of the disease that would become known as AIDS (1981), St Boniface, a sophisticated place name generator plus disco lessons

four years ago: generative copy, assorted links to revisit, a zany public service campaign plus a classic from Crash-Test Dummies

five years ago: US national park typography, the palette of dying coral plus clearing up space junk

Wednesday 22 May 2024

ร  votre santรฉ (11. 574)

Via Messy Nessy Chic, we are treated to a tasting-tour of a late fourteenth century wine cellar (la cave)—one of the more historic and storied sites in Alsace, beneath the twelfth century Hรดpital civil de Strasbourg, today a preeminent teaching-hospital but twain with viniculture as it touches many aspects of French society. Traditionally different varietals were prescribed for specific ailments and over the centuries grateful patients bequeathed the institution with a portion of their harvest, amassed in the cellars and creating a present legacy of over one hundred thousand premium bottles sold annually and a regimen of wine-cures that were only officially discontinued in the mid 1990s. Financing the upkeep of the institution, proceeds are reinvested and now go to new medical equipment but seen today as no longer Hippocratic—the Greek physician a proponent of such treatments—but rather hypocritical to mix inebriation with healthcare, the hospital accomplishes this volume of sales without advertising. More from BBC Travels at the link above.

Saturday 4 May 2024

xavier roberts (11. 538)

Somewhat cognisant of the strange lore surrounding the adoption process surrounding the dolls introduced in 1983, though we were completely taken aback by this account—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links—of attending the “live birth” experience at Babyland General Hospital (a nursery and gift shop in rural northern Georgia, an area tragically underserved in terms of actual clinical care with the procedure at the maternity ward described unironically as “planned parenthood”) of a Cabbage Patch Kid. With truly unexpected ritualistic gravity, like something out of The Handmaid’s Tale, the visiting public is summoned to witness Mother Cabbage, truly the object of devotion for a mystery cult like some plaster-cast oracle of Delphi, presided over by a pretend nurse who also plays the role of high priestess urging the children in the room to help with the labour. More on this unbelievably strange ceremony at Thrillist at the link above.

Sunday 14 April 2024

liduina of schiedam (11. 487)

Venerated on this day on the occasion her death in 1433, aged 52 after a life of suffering progressively worsening ailments due to an accident as an adolescent, the sainted Dutch mystic (see below) is celebrated as the patron protector of those stricken with chronic pain and disability, her hometown near Rotterdam and of ice-skaters and roller-skaters, which seems a bit of a painful reminder. Cultivating a reputation as a healer, and judging from the symptoms recorded in her hagiographies perhaps the first documented case of multiple sclerosis—though such diagnoses are problematic, she is said to have fasted and foregone sleep throughout the decades and her cultus grew popular following her death thanks to the writings of Thomas ร  Kempis who epitomised her piety from Keulen.


one year ago: an AI writes fortune cookies plus assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: solar new year

three years ago: sequencing the human genome, more links to enjoy plus an outstanding landing page, business 

four years ago: a medieval UFO encounter, an unhinged press briefing, a cosmopolitan coffee break, a museum at the Volkswagen factory, safe social distancing plus more accidental art

five years ago: an AI authored country and western song, the N'ko script, designer Verner Panton plus Easter fountains

Friday 22 March 2024

off his meds (11. 443)

Via TYWKIWBI (indeed), we learn that Dr Lecter’s famously creepy quip from Silence of the Lambs, the psychiatrist turned cannibalistic serial killer consulted for insight to help catch another, “A census taker once tried to test me—I ate his liver with some fava beans and nice Chianti” is more than a memorable quote but also a subtle joking admission that he’s not presently adhering to his prescribed pharmacological regimen. The fictional doctor’s most aberrant tendencies could be managed with a class of drugs called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (a rather blunt instrument from the 1950s used to treat a whole range of disorders with various levels of success), which Lecter would of course know as well as the contraindication of this particular repast, all noted for having high levels of tyramine (as well as blue cheese) and could cause dangerous side-effects—the kind of adverse chemical reactions that the poor grapefruit usually gets blame for. In the novel by Thomas Harris that the 1991 film is adapted from, mostly faithfully, the better-paired wine is Amarone is mentioned but was presumably substituted for cadence in delivery by Anthony Hopkins and as something audiences would be more familiar with.

Wednesday 20 March 2024

toddy and crank (11. 437)

Via Nag on the Lake and Weird Universe, we are referred to a delightful reprint (circa 1941) of an advertisement for a Colonial Williamsburg public house called Chowning’s Tavern whose verso gives a scale of the temperance or intemperance of various potables from the drinks menu from 1789. “A moral and physical thermometer small beer, grouped with water and milk, disposes one to “Health, Wealth, Serenity of mind, Reputation, long Life and Happineลฟs.” Whereas Gin, Anniแบ›eed and Rum has the attendant vices of Swindling, Perjury and Burglary leading to the Diseases Dropลฟy, Madneลฟ and Melancholy and the Punishments of the Poor-houลฟe, Jail and Whipping. We are all on the spectrum and can have maladies without picking one’s poison—see if you can tag yourself.


one year ago: middling large numbers

two years ago: World Storytelling Day plus Easter origins

three years ago: Leipzig’s boy choir,  the science of pasta, Roman Emperor Thrax, reflections of dadaism plus St John of Neopmuk

four years ago: the Spring Equinox, assorted links to revisit, pandemic payments plus cats and dominos

five years ago: Bed-In for Peace (1969),  Apollo press kits, exercises in root system domestication, EU copyright reform, calls to expel the US ambassador to Germany, myth retold through physics plus creating landscapes with AI

Friday 15 March 2024

6x6 (11. 422)

merica: singular, normalised behaviour of US residents that they’ve become inured to 

sfx: more mind-blowing short videos from OpenAI’s Sora—see previously 

outstanding in the field: highlights from the annual British Wildlife Photo  

negative pressure ventilator: an obituary for author, lawyer and polio survivor who used an iron lung for seven decades  

getty images: foundation and museum has made over eighty thousand artworks and artefacts from its collect available to the public  

free drawing: lessons in illustration from 1925 by Franz ฤŒiลพek and Hermann Kastner bytedance: users react to app’s uncertain future in the US


one year ago: assorted links to revisit

two years ago: another MST3K classic, a Roman holiday plus the Doomsday Clock

three years ago: the Ides of March, the Feast of the Holy Lance, more links to enjoy plus a lost and found project

four years ago: the Osaka World’s Fair Expo (1970), a Roman Star Trek episode, disease vectors, antique bills of sale, some blasphemous graffiti plus Scotland’s new bank notes

five years ago: a non-gendered digital assistant, xenophobic dogma, unblurring photos, college admission and privilege plus more links worth the revisit

Friday 1 March 2024

castle bravo (11. 393)

Already subjected to a series of nuclear weapons tests as host to Operation Crossroads (see previously, see also), on this day in 1954 the United States conducted the first in the battery of design experiments with Operation Castle, detonating the a high yield thermonuclear, fusion bomb on an artificial island platform in the lagoon of Namu in the Bikini Atoll of the Marshall Islands. The strongest tactile explosion in history, the bomb was more than one-thousand times stronger than those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, exceeding expectations of developers and spreading fallout (the heaviest in the form of pulverised and irradiated coral) across the region and far beyond. Residents were not evacuated and the decision was made not to abort the test despite wind shear that imperilled the islanders as well as personnel involved in the research. Trace amounts of radioactive material detected as far away as Australia, Europe and North America turned Castle Bravo into an international incident, prompting worldwide monitoring of fallout levels and a ban on further atmospheric tests.

8x8 (11. 392)

unauthorised avatar: Ukrainian individual discovers her likeness from her self-help videos have been cloned to sell Russian goods, friendship with China  

criterion collection: a curated series of great moments from the film company’s archive of Closet Picks  

il galateo, overo de’ costumi: the age of impoliteness—an influential sixteenth century Venetian treatise of delicacy and manners  

the weeknd stroke psa: a song parody about signs and symptoms of a cerebrovascular incident  

@smalin: graphic artist Stephen Manlinowski creates beautifully animated classical and jazz score—via Web Curios 

the hero’s journey: “the chosen one,” coming of age narratives of Dune, Star Wars, Harry Potter are mostly about adolescent boys coming to grips with their sexuality—via tmn  

dark currents: a 1992 public access occult soap opera from Marrawamkeag, Maine inspired by Dark Shadows, Twin Peaks  

thimblerig: internet retailer’s financial shell game and predatory pricing enabled it to create an untenable monopoly not thought sustainable

Sunday 11 February 2024

sarah t—portrait of a teenage alcoholic (11. 341)

Also featuring the acting talents of Dallas’ Larry Hagman and Star Wars’ Mark Hamill, the made for television movie starring Linda Blair of The Exorcist (previously) in the title role was first aired on the NBC network on this day in 1975. Dealing with isolation and loneliness, a fifteen-year-old takes after her estranged father, drinking to cope with feelings of inadequacy and begins to surreptitiously raid her mother’s liquor cabinet, having associated inebriation with greater social stability. Having passed out whilst babysitting and numerous interventions, Sarah can’t admit she has a problem until a near-fatal horse-riding accident (mortally wounding the horse, who is euthanised) and joins Alcoholics Anonymous. 


one year ago: assorted links to revisit plus Planet Money Valentines

two years ago: an AI reimagines sci-fi comics panels, the Internet Sacred Text Archive plus more links to enjoy

three years ago: more links worth the revisit, bar sounds plus a unique file naming convention

four years ago: political engagement, Merkel’s would be successor steps down, gravity wells plus European emergency numbers

five years ago: the American Petrol-State, anosmia, medals for the Tokyo games to be made out of recovered specie from electronic waste plus the art of Andy Dixon

Wednesday 7 February 2024

dark arts (11. 331)

Whilst most town councils either rescinded the ordinance or made the application process for an exception to policy a routine and perfunctory one, the legislation of the Hypnotism Act of 1952 is still on the books in some jurisdictions and subject to a blanket ban, prohibiting public performance of mesmerism or inducing a trance-state due to perceived dangers of making an audience, singly or en masse susceptible to suggestion. Proving ruinous to a scheduled comedy routine, an entertainer (without apparently having to resort to putting local authorities under) successfully appealed for the municipality to rescind the law and grant a license (the exemption not needed under the statue to practise hypnosis for clinical and therapeutic purposes) to go ahead. Though public attitudes have changed significantly for the latter with the method widely accepted in medical settings, the former stage acts is notably low and venues risk-adverse and putting responsibility on the performer.

Thursday 1 February 2024

emotional support muppet (11. 312)

The dear child furry red muppet from Sesame Street Elmo did a social media check-in with his substantial number of followers with a seemingly innocent and innocuous question: How is everybody doing today? The responses immediately went viral with over ten thousand comments and a hundred million views, underscoring a deep sense of widespread despair and anxiety and enlisting Elmo as a therapist ready to take it all in, though the trauma dumping was a lot to lay on any single individual. A lot of us are going through a lot, and by Tuesday as replies were still coming in with Elmo and friends giving supportive answers, having read through the overwhelming amount of messages, shared, “Wow! Elmo is glad he asked! Elmo learned that it is important to ask a friend how they are doing. Elmo will check in again soon, friends! Elmo loves you ❤️”

Saturday 30 December 2023

dรฉfi de janvier (11. 223)

Introduced with various levels of societal and political traction since about a decade in the US and the UK, the abstinence campaign Dry January (translated as January Challenge) is not being endorsed by the government of France, contrary to the urging of addiction experts who want more to be done to address the risks of alcohol, as out-of-step with French culture and traditions. What do you think? A keen imbiber himself, the president is seen as a strong advocate of the wine industry and that a meal without it was “a bit sad,” and at the same time overall consumption has been seen to drop rather precipitously.


one year ago: 2022 in review, recycling calendars, the union of soviet republics, Swedish words of the year, more General Knowledge quizzes plus more year-end lists

two years ago: more calendar recycling plus an AI suggests New Year’s resolutions

three years ago: assorted links to revisit, more calendrical correspondence plus Ra-Ra-Rasputin

four years ago: more words of the year from Sweden,  more links to enjoy plus novelty New Year’s eyewear

five years ago: intercalary days, In the Land of the Silver Birch, 2018 in review plus Starcrash

Sunday 3 December 2023

9x9 (11. 160)

caput apri defero, reddens laudes domino: an annual procession dating back to the fourteenth century that marks the beginning of Christmas season in London 

pingxiety: an update on the aerospace engineer’s anti-smart phone—see previously  

settled law: a carol to reaffirm that Die Hard is in fact a Christmas movie  

pocket universe: scientists in Germany re-create the Cosmos in a test tube to tweak the laws of physics for this primordial simulation  

pilea peperomiodes: the Chinese money plant goes by another common name for good reasons  

such fun: noun and adjectival usage of the intensifier on either side of the Atlantic  

anthrobots: researchers have created tiny, living robots from human cells that could one day patrol for diseases and repair damaged tissue  

there used to be a house at 6114 california street: a interview at home with Anton LaVey in 1967—see previously—via r/Obscure Media  

coquito ho ho: a guide to festive variations on classic cocktails

Sunday 1 October 2023

claire rayner’s casebook (11. 033)

Accomplished nurse and prolific author, the broadcaster is probably best known for her public advocacy and outreach in the form of her advise column, frank and often controversial in dealing with taboo subjects in a non-judgmental fashion that encouraged dialogue. Graciously sharing a rare Betamax find after sifting through hours of old video tape, Curious British Telly introduces Rayner through an episode originally airing during the first week of October of 1983 on the subject of homosexuality, featuring her own son—which although dated and a product of its time, is still insightful and relevant. More Ben Ricketts at the link above.

Wednesday 6 September 2023

cresoxipropanediol en capsule (10. 987)

Via the venerable Cardhouse, we are directed to this 1966 performance from French stage and screen actor Ginette Garcin, who already accomplished (occasionally as a screwball) became even more famous in part for singing the novelty chansons of composers Jean Yanne and Boby Lapoint. An extreme exercise in good diction, commit these instructions to memory: Oui, alors l'aspirine c'est de l'acide acรฉtylsalicylique, alors รงa valait bien le coup de donner le nom savant de tous les mรฉdicaments prรฉcรฉdents…

Sunday 30 July 2023

molson canadian rocks for toronto (10. 916)

The benefit concert—also called SARStock—held on this day in 2003 in order to prove that the city was a safe venue and rehabilitate its reputation and economy following a zoonotic Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak earlier in the year, and attended by an estimated half-a-million ticketed audience members, was the largest show in Canada and one of the largest in North America. Headlined by the Rolling Stones, who announced the concert while the area was still under lockdown from the World Health Organisation, acts included sets from Dan Aykroyd and James Belushi, The Flaming Lips, The Isley Brothers, AC/DC, Rush, The Guess Who and Justin Timberlake.

Tuesday 25 July 2023

7x7 (10. 905)

home taping is killing record industry profits: the 1981 moral panic over mixtapes  

lisa lionheart: labour force participation through the many careers of Barbie  

swipe left: patrons of 1920s Berlin nightclubs could flirt via pneumatic tubes—via Messy Nessy Chic  

the rivers and harbours act: Texas Department of Justice sues governor for refusing to remove a stretch of buoys that violates federal and international law—see previously  

sickbay: the Pirate Surgeon’s Journals—via Strange Company  

comeuppance: it’s time for the annual census on the River Thames—see previously 

a lot of skill, hand-eye coordination—it’s cheap and legal: video arcade addiction was seen as a threat to prevailing social values in 1982


one year ago: Ullapool and environs plus Wester Ross

two years ago: a colour advertisement on black-and-white TV (1967), Einstein on the Beach (1976), Thomas ร  Kempis plus a mosaic along the Thames

three years ago: Trump’s mental fitness, proto-Wikipedia (2000), more on the US Space Force, St Cucuphas, Nixon in China vis-ร -vis today’s relations plus more on stock characters and archetypes

four years ago: RIP Rutger Hauer plus a doctored presidential seal

five years ago: a neo-classic Delphic festival (1927), a student project that may have unwittingly identified targets of value in the Gulf War, anti-social media, Mid-Century Modern minimalism plus the hunt for subsurface water on Mars