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

 synchronoptica

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

Saturday 8 July 2023

content moderation (10. 868)

With the recent onslaught of US supreme course cases leaving us a little overwhelmed, it was difficult to unpack this coda in the form of an injunction imposed by a district judge in Louisiana (another Trump appointee) against federal agencies from communicating with social media. Under appeal, the temporary ruling bars the government from working with Facebook and others to redress posts hosted that propagate false claims that could undermine public confidence in matters of health and election integrity and could seriously curtail the ability to fact-check and steer the narrative away from conspiracy theories and unfounded claims in the upcoming presidential election. Pitting fighting disinformation for public safety against “free speech” and the grievance of some conservative elements have for social media’s bias against them, the suit claims that the government overstepped its bounds by rallying to deplatform posts that questioned the risk or origin of COVID (emboldened by the concession it might have come from a Chinese laboratory), the efficacy of protective measures or whether the Biden administration is legitimate, competent departments including the press secretary, Justice, the FBI and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention are barred from reaching out directly to platforms or engaging with third-parties who research the effects of media on public perception. Though unclear how accustomed government agencies were with accessing social media in the past (and the ruling does at least promise to reveal the scope and regularity of contact), it does seem clear that a blanket restriction will limit the government’s ability to shape the narrative and combat disinformation and will bear heavily on the 2024 presidential race.

Friday 9 June 2023

pocket borough (10. 797)

Faced with a raft of sanctions from the House of Commons and possible suspension for scores of violations against his government‘s own Covid socialization protocols (much like the rank hypocrisy of Trump’s attack on leaks and Hilary Clinton’s private server) for multiple raucous and boozy gatherings, lockdown antics and “Wine Time Fridays,” the outcome of a lengthy investigation into Partygate and his role in the behaviour in flaunting isolation rules, former Prime Minister and sitting MP for the constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip Boris Johnson abruptly announced that he will leave Parliament with immediate effect, spurring a byelection in his former suburban London district. Releasing a bitter and recriminating resignation letter which could carry in itself further charges of contempt for its inveighing further attacks against the Privilege Committee, which concluded that he misled Parliament and the people, Johnson accused elements of his own Conservative Party of trying to undermine and reverse the Brexit Referendum and generally of propagating a witch-hunt to force him out.  Timing his leaving just after an honours list was approved by the current Prime Minister (successor once removed), Johnson, highly critical of the direction and split in the Tory party, again floated the idea of an eventual return to politics.

Monday 5 June 2023

scrawny boy (10. 789)

Two dozen Roman and Etruscan bronzes and other votive offerings discovered at San Casciano dei Bagni last year will be exhibited at the Quirinale Palace later this month. The deliberately sealed-off sacred baths (see above) dating from the third century BC and in use for four hundred years in Tuscany was found (assisted by the village bin man) with a wealth of trinkets, coins, figurines of afflicted limbs as a petition for the healing water and from the wealthier visitors statues of the gods and goddesses for whom this spring was their domain and faithful likenesses of themselves in hopes of relieving their suffering. One showcase artefact was first taken as the image of a hero or athlete during excavation was discovered to be the effigy of an individual, a named donor called Marcius Grabillo (and given the above nickname, Scabra Puer, by archeologists once placing the find in context) , suffering from a debilitating skeletal disease, with the whole cache casting new insights on not only health and medicine of ancient times but also unique representation of disease and disability.

Sunday 4 June 2023

9x9 (10. 786)

folkocracy: the latest from Rufus Wainwright  

old hollywood: one property management company dedicated to preserving Los Angeles’ vintage homes and apartments 

ladies’ ordinaries: a look at how gender got on the menu—see also 

cultivating a creative community: Tina Roth Eisenberg on “How I Built This”  

ologies: a comprehensive chart of the medical disciplines and how they fit together—also a good podcast  

purchasing power parity: mapping the cheapest Big Macs  

morbid passion for one of the opposite sex: the recent invention of heterosexuality  

controspazio: a photographic tribute to the recently departed post-modernist architect Paolo Portoghesi  

what a wicked thing to do—to let me dream of you: Tenacious D kicks off their next tour with a cover of the 1989 Chris Isaak hit

Saturday 27 May 2023

mรคusebunker (10. 768)

So called because of the Brutalist (Nachkriegsmodern-Stil) structure’s resemblance to war-era defensive bulwarks, the facility designed by architects Gerd and Magdalena Hรคnska in 1971 for the Frei Universitรคt of Berlin for animal research (Zentrale Tierlaboratorien, received with controversy at the time for such a grandiose concrete pyramid being built for the purpose of animal testing) and later for microbiology, pathology and experimental human medicine by the city’s Charitรฉ research hospital, vacant since 2020, has happily been spared planned demolition and been declared a historic monument for preservation. Owning to a vigorous campaign to conserve this icon, bastion of 1970s and others, an exploratory committee has been formed to find possible uses for this structure. More photos from organiser Felix Torkar and SOSBrutalism at the link above.

Sunday 14 May 2023

hey erete (10. 741)

Via thm, we enjoyed exploring this list—some familiar, some forgotten and others new to us—of Ancient Greek terms that should be reintroduced into common-parlance and we’d all experience ฮตแฝฮดฮฑฮนฮผฮฟฮฝฮฏฮฑ (eudaimonia—that is, human flourishing and the highest common good) for re-incorporating these virtues in social-circles. Phronesis (ฯ†ฯฯŒฮฝฮทฯƒแฟฯ‚) as prudence, the practical application of sound judgment and experience and aidos (ฮ‘แผฐฮดฯŽฯ‚)—the antidote to the more commonplace hubris in this goddess of shame, modesty and humility, this personification of a trait, a daughter of the titan Prometheus and was the last to depart Earth at the end of the Golden Age and the middle way to avoid the extremes of pride and timidity. Case in point, the article also includes the etymology and pathology of particularly vexing ailment called homesickness, diagnosed and coined in the seventeenth century by a Swiss medical student to describe the separation anxieties that mercenary countrymen were experiencing (it becoming so grave that a temporary stay was put on cowbells and other sounds that would remind conscripts in foreign lands of home, triggering the condition) from the Homeric trope for nautical homecoming fraught with challenge and temptation, nostos—ฮฝฯŒฯƒฯ„ฮฟฯ‚, from the Odyssey, and giving us the condition of nostalgia. Much more at the links above.

Friday 7 April 2023

exposome (10. 658)

We learn via the New Shelton wet/dry that the field of exposomics was coined in 2005 to describe the <aetiology of chronic disease and cancers due to environmental factors and has since been expanded as a heuristic approach to gauging exposure to pollutants and how toxins are metabolised and change in the body once incorporated. Taken rather dismissively like the statistic that we swallow a fair share of spiders annually, the idea that we ingest a credit card per week of microplastics ought to be a cause for alarm and what’s inert and what’s potentially reactive and enduring is a big unknown for public health and well-being as we continue to trash our planet.

Friday 24 March 2023

the fault, dear brutus, is not in our stars (10. 633)

Far afield from the actual cause, on this day in 1345 noted surgeon and author of several treatises on the subject of hernias and cataracts well as the influential and widely-read Chirurgia Magna after Avicenna and Galen, Guy de Chauliac, observed a conjunction of Saturn, Mars and Jupiter in the House of Aquarius following a solar eclipse, which many took as an ominous portent and source of the outbreak of the Black Death that hit pandemic levels three years later. For his part, the resident physician of Paris and Montpellier, chiefly deriving his knowledge from the embalming the cadavers of dead popes during the Avignon Captivity, chose to remain during the pandemic outbreak whist other doctors fled, importantly documenting the difference between the Bubonic and Pneumonic Plague, discouraging social contact and attempting to disabuse people from assigning blame to heretics and the Jewish population, whom many accused of poisoning well water, and accept this superstitious coincidence.

Wednesday 15 March 2023

8x8 (10. 612)

scheele’s green: more on the poisonous, synthetic shade—via Messy Nessy Chic 

terroir: BBC’s Jancis Robinson’s Wine Course  

family business: a look at the oldest-continuing operating hotel in the world, by shifting definitions (see also)

contagion: banking stocks drop as investors lose confidence after the failure and intervention for Silicon Valley Bank (previously)  

xerox alto: a half-century on (see previously), we are still living with the legacy of one of the first home computers—via Kottke  

ghostwatch: a BBC mockumentary that spooked viewers

$: the first instance of the dollar sign in print—see previously 

arsenic and old lace: an astonishing murder ring of earlier twentieth-century Hungary

Friday 10 March 2023

♏︎⚦๐“œ (10, 602)

Public Domain Review contributor Rebecca Whitely offers a thoroughgoing exploration of the iconography and understanding of pregnancy and childbirth of Early Modern Europe, which envisioned in utero as a homunculus, a nesting portrait of mother and daughter couched in metaphors of astronomy and a well-tended garden. By turns both practical and superstitious, such diagrams and their legacy resolve—both in terms of caretaking and control—like any anatomical imprint when examined on multiple registers.

Wednesday 22 February 2023

8x8 (10. 564)

your heart fits me like a glove: Madonna dream diary 

clickword: a Scrabble-like single-player game—via Miss Cellania  

sideshow bob roberts: Simpsons show-runner Josh Weinstein shares a treasury of easter eggs and little known provenances  

arby’s+: more restaurant franchises are turning to subscription plans 

the dรผsseldorf patient: a fifth individual is cured of HIV after stem-cell therapy  

jpeg: an image only newsletter with click-through surprises—via Waxy  

aurora borealis—at this time of year, at this time of day, in this part of the country, localised entirely within your kitchen: an infinite Steamed Hams generated by AI—see previously, see also

air-brush: popular photographer admits his portraits are synthesised by an neural network

images from the collective unconscious: Olga Frรถbe-Kapteyn’s archive of dream archetypes

Tuesday 31 January 2023

7x7 (10. 513)

nothing, forever: an endless AI generated episode of Seinfeld, livestreamed—via Waxy 

construction spree: an annual survey of China’s Ugliest Buildings  


fictive flyover: still photographs of the Red Planet captured by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter transformed into a stunning video  

word of the day: eleemosynary—that which is supported by charity—and gives us the derived term alms  

he gets us: the billion dollar rebranding of Jesus—mostly financed through dark money, via Super Punch  

35f no pmh, p/w cp: OpenAI gives a correct diagnosis but can’t show its work, fabricating a fake citation for its conclusion—via the new shelton wet/dry  

yeldard: a forgotten British television oddity rediscovered in Paul Bradley

Saturday 7 January 2023

dei gratia, emperor of the united states and protector of mexico (10. 394)

Via JWZ, we are directed towards a recently uncovered cache of proclamations, carried in the newspapers no less, from Norton I (previously) on the 1868 smallpox epidemic that had arrived in San Francisco, commanding authorities of all cities on the Pacific ensure, under severe penality that 1) every person be vaccinated and that 2) teamsters driving persons to hospital shall not get drunk and leave their charges on the streets to spread contagion, and moreover 3) physicians shall change their clothing after attending patients and lastly that churches 4) expose and punish all persons who administer poisonous food and drinks during religious or political discussions. Much more at the links above.

Monday 2 January 2023

6x6 (10. 381)

your posture is correct if you can lift your right foot in the air and rotate it effortlessly without falling: a Finnish tutorial from 1979 on the proper way to open doors—with subtitles in several languages

gebrausgraphik: the ornament and logo design of Max Kรถrner 

de laudibus sanctae crucis: the medieval pattern poems—that reference the Phaistos Disk and anticipate calligrams—of Magister Rabanus Maurus (see previously here and here)  

sword out of the stone: King Tut’s space dagger and other superlative archaeological finds—see previously  

wood wide web: ethereal ghost flower forgoes photosynthesis—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links  

inside story: an appreciation of Slim Goodbody

Friday 23 December 2022

ice cream assassins (10. 356)

Again with the distinction between neologisms and characters and courtesy of Language Log, we are directed towards an omnibus listing of internet slang that dominated social media in China (see previously) this past year. The title (้›ช็ณ•ๅˆบๅฎข) refers to the sticker-shock of the frozen treats associated with inflation and the pictured “let it rot” cites the trend of leaning into a situation that’s failing apart rather than trying to salvage it and like lying flat signals a generation growing weary with social competition in the face of a possibly bleak future. We also quite liked the incantation—Tuรฌ! Tuรฌ! Tuรฌ! ้€€!้€€!้€€!, to banish an unpleasant presence in one’s life.