Thursday 18 April 2024

10x10 (11. 496)

the cloud under the seas: the fleet of secret submarine cable repair ships 

sarbox: US Supreme Court appears skeptical about charging January Sixth rioters with obstruction of justice as defined by a law made in the aftermath of the Enron accounting scandal  

mix-and-match orthography: how Japanese writers navigate a choice between four writing systems—via Cardhouse  

walled gardens have deep roots: the imperative of rewilding (previously) the internet lest the duopolies take over—via Waxy 

bongo bash: Wild Stereo Drums (1961)  

embroidered surveillance: cross-stitch works of closed-circuit security camera footage  

the questor tapes: a 1974 television sci-fi drama about an android with incomplete programming by Star Trek alumni Gene L Coon, D C Fontana and Gene Roddenberry—via r/Obscure Media  

tegelwippen: Dutch towns compete to remove garden paving and embrace weeds—via Miss Cellania  

voir dire: jury selection continues for the criminal trial of Donald J Trump—with some potential jurors being unintentionally doxed by the media 

 atlas 2.0: Boston Dynamics’ new humanoid robot

synchronoptica

one year ago: Atelier Elvira, an unwoke chatbot plus assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: more gachapons plus an introduction to risography

three years ago: the launch of the Disney Channel (1983), an experimental light house plus Wham in China (1985)

four years ago: more links to enjoy, the International Amateur Radio Union plus The Spirits Book (1897)

five years ago: concrete monoliths moved by hand plus Mueller Report redactions

Saturday 13 April 2024

national treasures (11. 486)

The government of president Andrรฉs Manuel Lรณpez Obrador has declared a clowder of nineteen feral cats that have free range of the palatial executive complex grounds to be “living fixed assets”—part of the furniture like the official mouser of 10 Downing Street—but the first animals to be bestowed with the investment term that obligates the country’s treasury to feed and care for them for the rest of their lives. With no area off limits to the gatos palicios and the felines often making cameos during press conferences and escorting staff and visitors, they have become a symbol associated with the presidency and beloved by tourists—but one suspects that the population, especially after this development, won’t stay at this level for long.

Tuesday 9 April 2024

8x8 (11. 480)

chambre de bonne: disappearing top-floor tiny apartments of Paris  

semifreddo: the origin of Neapolitan ice cream  

the united states of division: a prescient 2004 release by Prince & The New Power Generation  

court dress: the pink sleeves of the supreme courts of Labrador and Newfoundland are in deference to the former summer robes for sittings in England and Wales—via Super Punch  

geoengineering: Tennessee legislature outlaws (see also) so called chemtrails 

bpm: Chechnya announces ban of music considered too fast or too slow  

backsplash: mosaic of the day  

warehouse-to-loft-conversion: a tribute to the last of New York’s artists’ dwellings—via Messy Nessy Chic

Monday 1 April 2024

kcang (11. 461)

From midnight on—and no Aprilscherz—having cleared the huddles of passage by the Bundesrat and Bundestag and committee mediation in mid-March, persuaded by cautious agreements that former drugs policies and prohibitions have failed to curb abused, overburdened authorities and the legal system and created a black market, Germany has enacted a national decriminalisation plan for marijuana (Gesetzes zum Umgang mit Konsumcannabis, Abkรผrzung oben), allowing for adults to be in possession of up to twenty-five grams for their own consumption in public as well as fifty additional grams on their premises and up to three plants for cultivation, as well as permits for cannabis clubs with limited membership from 1 July.

 

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit plus a park of deplorable political figures

two years ago: more links to enjoy, re-sending the Arecibo Message plus the postcodes of London

three years ago: hellebore, The Abominable Dr Phibes, same-sex marriage in the Netherlands (2001), San Serrife, a space-plane prototype plus Uruguayan graphic design

four years ago: more concatenation, Soviet era animation, house-arrest plus an action play-set

five years ago: Substance, a post-Brexit healing czar plus Canterbury Tales

Wednesday 27 March 2024

the usual suspects (11. 452)

After years of obscuring police line-ups in creative and comical (to some) fashions, one department will comply with a request from a toy company to respectfully stop using its image to hide the faces of potential law-breakers in its social media posts. Certain authorities had been in the habit of protecting the identity of suspects for non-violent crimes in case they were exonerated and not to expose them to public shaming—the stocks—but all began to comply once legislation was passed to protect the identities of all until proven guilty. We’re not sure why such a blotter needed to be circulated in the first place, unless looking for more witnesses or issuing an all points bulletin. Mugshots are also removed after a fortnight. In any case, no more minifigs.

synchronoptica

one year ago: The Leopard (1963) plus Everything is a Remix

two years ago: Starlight Express plus Let America Be America Again

three years ago: a cargo freighter blocks the Suez Canal, Moby Dick by Matt Kish, statehood for Washington, DC plus the Tenerife Airport Disaster (1977)

four years ago: the etymology of a snack cracker, Typhoid Mary, vintage bathrooms, an Oscar boycott (1973) plus job losses soar due to the pandemic

five years ago: Japan becomes less vegetarian (1872), driving home through the Rhรถn plus The Disorder of Things

Thursday 21 March 2024

eo 9835 (11. 439)

Also knowns as the “Loyalty Order” and instituted to combat supposed communist infiltration in the echelons of the federal government, the executive order was issued by US president Harry S Truman on this day, primarily in response to criticism that the Democrat administration had been too lax about suppressing Soviet influence, fuelled by ongoing investigations by the House Un-American Activities Committee. Although Truman hoped that this move might placate his dissenters, it quickly snowballed, leading to the creation of the Attorney General’s List of Subversive Organisations and a sweeping FBI inquiry of all three million federal employees—three hundred were ultimately dismissed as security liabilities—warranting further research if the subject was disposed to disloyalty in the form of sabotage, espionage, treason, sedition or advocacy thereof. The order was ultimately revoked in stages by Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter and repealed entirely under Bill Clinton in 1988, eliminating fealty in favour of allegiance, which had become entrenched as discriminatory hiring policies that barred gay individuals from foreign service positions and that required that gay charitable and educational organisations applying for a tax exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service publicly disclaim that homosexuality was a “sickness, disturbance or a diseased pathology.”

Thursday 14 March 2024

7x7 (11. 421)

triple word score: the undisputed champion of competitive Scrabble  

boyard cigarettes: unused geisha footage for an Offworld advertising campaign

statutory interpretation: a forthcoming book on the ideology of originalism and its malleability 

the apprehension engine: custom suspenseful sounds for horror movie incidental music—via Things Magazine  

penmanship: the resurgence of cursive—see previously  

raktajino: a supercut of Klingon coffee in Star Trek: DS-9  

game theory: selfishness and enlightened self-interest through the lens of novelist and philosopher Iris Murdoch

Tuesday 12 March 2024

███████ ██ ████████ (11. 417)

In collaboration with the Electronic Free Foundation, Muckrock (previously) has just announced its annual Foilies award winners, recognising the most egregious instances of US government violating the precept of the public record. Ahead of their also recurring Sunshine Week to champion the importance of transparency and access, this tenth iteration really featured some strong resistance to FOIA requests, doubly depressing considering the death of local journalism and advocacy outlets, flouting disclosure requirements of the law. From attempt to tag a cache of email correspondence with the label “NO FOIA” in hopes to keep fraud from the public eye or attempts to reveal corruption and mismanagement met with ingratitude to zealous librarians checking out books themselves to keep them out of circulation while bans for certain literary works were still pending court challenges and politicians trying to keep secret their travel expenses. These achievements, both large and small, have impact, and are not bailiwick of lawyers and reporters, only requiring determination. Learn more at the link above.

Friday 8 March 2024

promissory estoppal (11. 409)

Whilst the lawsuit Elon Musk recently filed against OpenAI might seem frivolous and the domain of tech-billionaires with hard feelings—Musk being an original backer of the artificial intelligence venture, the allegation that co-founder Sam Altman (previously) for breach of contract—essentially harm caused by the broken-promise above—for abandoning its initial vision and mission of forwarding the field for the benefit of all by licensing its interim innovations before the Singularity to Microsoft as a commercial branch of the non-profit. Arguably an incremental improvement (weighing the publicised concerns from people involved with the newest iteration), the plaintiff claims that the release of GPT-4 without transparency and available for a price amounts to a sentient Clippy. Although we don’t believe that this version is thinking and the sought after Artificial General Intelligence, yet—at least, and such altruistic slogans like “Don’t be evil” or “Move fast and break things” tend to backfire—the lawsuit does raise an interesting question for the new Turing Test that I never thought might be an impediment to progress: if OpenAI is motivated to say that the next version for commercial release is only an improvement on the last and not the end goal, then we may never reach it, at least by one estimation and subject to litigation.

Thursday 7 March 2024

9x9 (11. 406)

harmonisation: Albanian government using AI to try to speed accession to European Union by rewriting local legislation to fit the block’s regulatory framework—via Marginal Revolution  

the once and future sex: enduring medieval views on female anatomy 

gรฉodรฉsie: more on the Paris Meridian and how Greenwich ultimately won out 

walk without rhythm and you won’t attract the worm: Christopher Walken, portraying Padishah Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV, unaware of his epic choreography in “Weapon of Choice” references Dune  

mcmxxiv: a curation of photos from Alan Taylor—via Kottke  

here there be tygers: animated adaptations of Ray Bradbury’s science fiction by Sergei Bondarchuk  

the world is a cat—i can’t unsee that now: a geopolitical map drawing challenge  

the school of venus; or the ladies delight: self-pleasure in the seventh century  

circling the wagons: Sweden accedes to NATO as its thirty-second member state after a wait of two years—while holdout Hungary visits Trump

Monday 26 February 2024

handmaids’ tales (11. 384)

We are turned towards a coupling of sermons, one from a Methodist preacher from 2018 and another more recent commentary from the pulpit of US politics, that highlight the hypocrisy of American fundamentalism and championing the unborn, privileging potential and the least complicated, objectionable over those inconvenient actualities of the poor, unwell, indigent and alien who might not be sufficiently grateful or not present a challenge for the societal arrangement and power structures that put them in this situation to begin with, which—if redressed could take care and truly foster the former as well. The second piece has a more satirical tone but delivers the same message and both are worth reading in full.

7x7 (11. 383)

bacile calmette-guรฉrin: a century-old variolation against bovine tuberculosis technique might present a treatment route for dementia  

endangered language alliance: a survey of the rare forms of communication in communities in New York City  

marketable skill: Nvidia executive says kids shouldn’t learn to code 

icc: renewed calls to make ecocide the fifth international crime and within the scope of the UN’s court—via tmn  

kรผrschรกk’s tile: a visual proof a complex geometric tessellation  

project ceti: how, powered by AI, a first contact could play out between humans and whales—see previously, see also 

goldplate: research suggest that a treatment with nanoparticles of the element might be a cure for neurodegenerative diseases

Sunday 25 February 2024

11x11 (11. 380)

sure, write stuff for free—but write it for yourself: maintaining one’s creativity in the bleak media sector brickwalling and the loss of journalistic records  

rage-baiting: viral Tik-Tok couple troll influencer culture with such precision most don’t realise it’s satire—via Super Punch  

the paint explainer: a primer on the twenty-seven amendments to the US Constitution—via Memo of the Air 

dark dimensions: there’s a new theory about where dark matter might be hiding  

the sony smartwig: a 2016 patent granted for a connected hairpiece one pairs with their phone for tactile feedback 

the navel on an orange is a mutation that created a conjoined twin: weird information to dispense on a first date—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links 

the riker manoeuvre: small towns with monuments to Star Trek characters—via Marginal Revolution  

selectric funeral: the Boston Typewriter Orchestra hopes to appear in NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert with this submission  

awful yet lawful: US Supreme Court to entertain grievances on social media moderation for deplatforming hateful and dangerous content  

multi-level marketing: a supercut of huckster Donald Trump’s merchandising scams 

you can out-buzzfeed buzzfeed after all: media group in takeover talks with UK’s The Independent—see previously

Saturday 17 February 2024

8x8 (11. 358)

compound interest: Trump’s accumulated lawsuits amount to over half a billion dollars  

vivi o preferibilmente morti: Poseidon’s Underworld reviews a 1969 Spaghetti Western  

epistolary doll: Kafka, a little girl and her beloved, lost toy—via the New Shelton wet/dry 

the wonderful night of hercules brown: a 1968 short film guiding a young boy through his dreams with the help of muppets and puppets 

millions of cats: Wanda Hazel Gรกg’s 1928 children’s book—the oldest American title still in print  

leaning toward more grasshopper, less ant: raising children on the eve of the AI revolution—via tmn  

hero’s journey: a video poking fun at the tropes and archetypes of found in every epic quest—see previously  

never surrender high-tops: Trump launches gold trainers line, goes public with his social network in order to earn cash to pay for his legal judgments—see previously

Tuesday 13 February 2024

9x9 (11.348)

unwanted legacy: Russia puts Estonian prime minister on wanted list for dismantling monuments to Soviet soldiers 

banned book rainbow: LeVar Burton hosts a very special episode on books banned by adults who don’t want kids to learn, grow or change—via Kottke  

clothesline, skyline: a look at Shanghai’s ubiquitous outdoors drying racks  

blinkerwall: ten-thousand year old megastructure in the Baltic could be Europe’s oldest  

everynoise: layoffs and downsizing at Spotify spell the end of the serendipitous musical encyclopaedia—see previously  

essentially cenobitical: one year in the life of a part time hermit—via the new Shelton wet/dry 

running amoc: the trajectory of the climate catastrophe blows past a calamitous tipping-point  

clearing the docket: upcoming inflection points in the criminal cases against Trump  

portal kombat: French authorities uncover a vast Russian disinformation network designed to overwhelm fact checkers

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.

Saturday 3 February 2024

9x9 (11. 319)

thinking of you. i mean me. i mean you: a new exhibition on the artist Barbara Kruger advances her legacy up to the present—see previously  

hi neighbour: Johnny Costa introduced jazz to Mister Rogers along with his audience  

una vincenzo, the lady troubridge: fashion icon, sculptor, translator and unashamed, power lesbian  

baud per second: Eclectic Method’s dial-up modem song  

unexcused absences: obstructionist state senators cannot run for re-election in Oregon after constitutional amendment—via Super Punch 

unwatering: researchers find the solution the Richard Feynman’s hypothetical reserve sprinkler  

amateuraufnahmen: colour footage of Berlin, Leipzig and Bad Schandau from the 1960s  

please don’t try to print it: unlocking the page dimensions in Adobe to create a PDF larger than the entire Universe—via Kottke  

friend or foe: Clownfish count stripes to keep out adult interlopers from their territory—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links—see also strange sex lives of the species

Wednesday 31 January 2024

nichts der homosexuelle ist pervers, sondern die situation, in der er lebt (11. 308)

Having premiered at the at the Berlin International Film Festival the prior year, Rosa von Praunheim’s It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse But Rather the Society in Which He Lives was broadcast for the first time on the television network Westdeutschen Runk on this day in 1972, the exposure to a wider audience considered emancipatory and resounding globally helped informed the Lesbian and gay rights movements in Germany and the rest of Europe and encouraged individuals, particularly following the liberalisation of Section 175 in 1969 of the German Criminal Code (see previously), to come out of hiding and be seen in a society becoming more tolerant and accepting. Despite criticisms that the film itself was not very good or revelatory (since reappraised for its historical and socio-political influence)—the narrative of a country boy meeting a city boy that in the capital is honest but perhaps not the most ingratiating with promiscuity thwarting attempts to copy the heteronormative lifestyle, though ultimately leading to community activism—it has had an enduring and impactful legacy. Watch the entire film with English subtitles here.

synchronoptica

one year ago: the first McDonald’s in Moscow (1990) plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: more on the International Geophysical Year, St Geminianus plus more links to enjoy

three years ago: advocating a base-eight system, the Winter Soldier Investigations (1971) plus the first chimpanzee in space (1961)

four years ago: ancient aliens and the Gorn Hegemony, the UK leaves the EU, hidden thread plus Primal Scream (2000)

five years ago: a monument to Scrabble plus division bells

Monday 22 January 2024

goody goodwife (11. 286)

Written as an allegory for McCarthyism, the Red Scare during which left-leaning views were repressed and politicians and private individuals were systematically repressed over fear of Soviet infiltration and Communist influence with most accusations ultimately found to be exaggerated if not outright false, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible had its premier performance on this day in 1953 at the Broadway Martin Beck Theatre. Speculating with the opening narrative (following on with each act) that the theocratic society of the Puritans, isolation and unstable conditions contributed to the paranoia and hostility, the play is set in colonial Massachusetts during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Though some liberties were taken to fully limn out the litigants and the sentenced, most of the names and events are dramatised from court records.

synchronoptica

one year ago: US Supreme Court rules on Roe v Wade (1973) plus artist Sophie Hollington, AI on fantasy glam rock plus the door gods of the Lunar New Year

two years ago: the new normal (2003), Our Town (1938), AI suggests breakfast cereal plus a 1972 interview with David Bowie

three years ago: the death of Queen Victoria, another MST3K classic plus unnamed implements

four years ago: assorted links to revisit,  the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb corrected, Trump and the tabloids plus an upcoming auspicious date

five years ago: artist Max Guther, a celebration of blank video cassettes plus Apple’s 1984 commercial

Wednesday 17 January 2024

10x10 (11. 276)

durianrider and banana girl: a personal account of joining a fringe diet community and subsequent de-programming  

curricula: an archive of Japanese school books from 1898 

i’m feeling lucky: a mostly facetious collection of laws about discourse from Osmo Antero Wiio that posits that communication usually fail except by accident 

it’s not your imagination: research shows that Google search, overrun by competition for rankings, has gotten worse—along with other indexing engines  

flickr commons: sixteen stories for the image platform’s sixteenth birthday—via Waxy  

pps: Chuck Wendig warns against using AI to enhance one’s creative outlets

chevron v natural defence council: US Supreme Court posed to overturn a forty-year precedence on regulators and agency enforcement—more here   

rewatch: Netflix is airing a bevy of classic films, celebrating their milestone anniversaries 

reference desk: as part of an “inappropriate content review,” a US school district is banning dictionaries and encyclopaedias 

the ouroboros of the passive-income scam: an escape from a get rich quick cult