Sunday 28 January 2024

zombified by a thousand bots (11. 302)

Via Super Punch, we are referred to the sad insult waylaid on shuttered digital media outlets that are revived—due to a lapsed domain registration—by opportunists (in this case a Slovakian DJ who has bought hundreds of expired websites) seeking to cannibalise the defunct blogs for their reputation, longevity and wealth of backlinks and keeping them in circulation as a wholly AI-generated version of their former selves. Looking forward to their eventual distress and demise, media properties are advised to pay more attention to estate-planning to avoid this cruel fate and face regurgitation by the scavengers. This trend—and we’re sure we’ve not heard the last of it—sounds horrific, like seeing some veteran sites turned in on themselves and mirroring advice forums. More from Wired contributor (also a Condรฉ Nast publication) at the link above.

Wednesday 3 January 2024

8x8 (11. 239)

the year of the dragon: Japanese designer New Year’s cards for 2024—see previously  

virdiphyta: an exploration of the interrelatedness of the Plant Kingdom  

in memoriam: more celebrity obituaries you might have missed  

paku paku: one-dimensional PacMan—see also—via Waxy  

๐ŸŒ: the Moon-Making-Side-Eyes emoji has entered the stock market and had its day in court—see previously—via Slashdot 

shoegazing: TikTok revitalises the indie subgenre—via tmn  

on to other adventures: Tom Scott bids his viewers farewell after a decade of educational videos—with a long explanatory walk-and-talk   

trace loops: hypnotic animation from layered paper

synchronoptica 

one year ago: a comprehensive listing of North American supermarket chain, past and present

two years ago: Saint Daniel plus Monty Python in German

three years ago: the Seditious Dozen, the Fraktur-Antiqua Dispute, Oregon Trail plus Martin Luther excommunicated

four years ago: (You’ve got) the Power, banana republics, more dead malls, Trump’s Middle East policy plus Japanese New Years cards

five years ago: China’s lunar mission plus the introduction bitcoin (2009)

Monday 1 January 2024

rest in power (11. 234)

Continuing a long-standing tradition, Chris the Barker (previously) has made another Sgt Pepper’s style collage as a tribute and remembrance to those who have passed in 2023, updated until the last minute and reaching back all the way to the beginning of the year lest we forget any legends lost. It’s a crowded assembly to reflect on and features a key—also in the style of the album’s liner notes. Pee-wee Herman, Dame Edna, Sinรฉad O’Connor, Tina Turner, and Jane Birkin feature prominently but also includes political figures and cross-over moguls like Silvio Berlusconi, Jerry Springer and Gina Lollobrigida as well as Bobi, the oldest dog ever, and the Sycamore Gap tree who get their visual obituaries.  Shared on X, we can’t locate a reference to the death of Twitter on the cover however.

synchronoptica

one year ago: a new addition to the family plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: St Telemachus, the umbrella patented, Hearts of Space, rogue waves plus Dinner for One

three years ago: making it through 2020, your daily demon: Ose, a Scooby Doo clone, the Julian calendar plus the launch of VH1 (1985)

four years ago: welcoming 2020, Unix time plus Star Wars on a synthesiser 

five years ago: ringing in 2019, banning single-use plastics, generated automobiles plus more on Ultima Thule

six years ago: more welcoming the New Year, the corrugated sculptures of Warren King plus artful thinking

Saturday 30 December 2023

mmxxiii (11. 224)

As this calendar draws to a close and we look forward to 2024, we again take time to reflect on a selection of some of the things and events that took place during the past year. Thanks as always for visiting. We’ve made it through another wild year together.

january: Hundred of thousands pay their respects, attend funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, presided over by his predecessor in Vatican City. Supporters of defeated president Jair Bolsanaro stormed the capitol in Brasilia.  Caches of official records and classified files have been discovered mishandled and stored in offices used by Joe Biden after his vice-presidency. Yardbirds guitarist Jeff Beck passes away, aged 78.  Lisa Marie Presley, artist and singer, has died, aged 54.  Wracked with successive and endemic problems, Haiti descends into anarchy after the last of its elected officials depart the country.  Singer David Crosby has passed away, aged 81.  Jacinda Arden steps down as Prime Minister of New Zealand.  US and Germany agree to send tanks to Ukraine.  A group of five police officers in Memphis, Tennessee brutally murder Tyre Nichols with no justifiable provocation. After speaking out against the criminalisation of same-sex partnerships and denial of basic civil rights, the Pope will journey to South Sudan, joined by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the head of the Church of Scotland for a dialogue with local church leaders preaching a gospel of intolerance.  Lisa Loring, the original Wednesday Addams, passes away, aged 64.

february: After announcing that conflict with China was on the near horizon, the US acquires additional bases in the Philippines to encircle its rival and potential adversary.  Just days ahead of US Secretary of State’s visit to Beijing, NORAD announces the detection of a Chinese spy balloon over western America, prompting Blinkin to cancel his trip. Fashion designer and perfumier Paco Rabane passes away, aged 88.  The EU holds a summit in Kyiv on Ukraine’s bid for membership.  Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf passes away, aged 77, after contending with a long illness.  A powerful earthquake on the border of Syria and Tรผrkiye claims over five thousand lives, the death toll soon quadrupling.  Songwriter Burt Bacharach passes away, aged 94.  Facing a series of crises and increasing pressure from the war in neighbouring Ukraine, the government of Moldova is dissolved.  Top-tier Czech footballer Jakub Jankto comes out as homosexual, the first professional player to do so.  Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon surprises her party by announcing her departure with no clear successor.  Actor Raquel Welch passes away, aged 82.  North Korea resumes missile tests in the Pacific and the US warns that China may attempt to arm Russia and delegates at the Munich Security Conference urge immediate fortification of Ukraine in order to prevent imminent defeat.  Stand-up comedian and tv detective Richard Belzer dies, aged 78.  Humanitarian and former US president Jimmy Carter enters hospice care.  Just ahead of the one year anniversary of the start of the invasion, Joe Biden makes a surprise visit to Kyiv.  Tech companies and media outlets continue tranche after tranche of staff layoffs.  US House Speaker gives previously unreleased trove of January Sixth insurrection footage to conservative pundit Tucker Carlson.  The Russian invasion of Ukraine marks its one year anniversary.

march: Evidence emerges that Ukrainian saboteurs were responsible for the underwater explosions that ruptured the NordStream I pipeline though questions remain.  In the second largest bank collapse in the history of the US and the first of its kind since the 2008 crash, the Silicone Valley Bank servicing tech-sector start-up has become insolvent and went into government receivership.  Thousands of civil servants in France go on strike in protest of legislation to raise retirement age.  After Manhattan district attorney investigation into Trump directing hush-money to Stormy Daniels, US presidential candidate announces that he expects to be arrested and calls for protests.  Mounting evidence seems to vilify suggestions that COVID originated from a lab leak in Wuhan.  Despite attempts to contain the contagion, the fall out from the crisis with California fintech institutions cause havoc with banking stocks worldwide.  UBS absorbs a beleaguered Credit Suisse.  Xi and Putin enter an apparent entente against American influence.   UN warns that time has run out on combating runaway climate change.  Deadly, hour-long tornado strikes ravage rural Mississippi and Alabama.  Intel Corp founder and thinker behind the eponymous law about the exponential improvement of technology Alan Moore passes away, aged 94.

april: Trump arraigned in the Manhattan district court over falsifying business records pursuant to hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels.  A US federal judge in Texas suspends the 2000 approval by the country’s food and drug regulatory body on the safety of an abortion pill, restricting its use.  Demanding stricter gun-laws in the wake of another school and church mass-shooting, the Tennessee state legislator expel two Black lawmakers for their stance.  Preoccupied with filibusters over trans-rights, the Nebraska state senate fails to pass a single law in this year’s legislative session.  Tory ministers begin to walk-back plans for a full-scale repeal of EU regulations following an inter-party revolt against the post-Brexit arrangement.  Phasing out of nuclear energy entirely, Germany closes its final remaining reactors.  Revival military leaders have brought Sudan to the brink of civil war as factions of the regular army face the paramilitary rapid response force in Khartoum.  More media organizations fold as ad revenue dries up and newsrooms turn to AI to generate copy, like BuzzFeed and Vice being the two latest to declare bankruptcy and curtail operations.  Comedian and creator of Dame Edna Barry Humphries has passed away, aged 89.  Civil rights activist and entertainer Harry Belafonte dies, aged 96.  Joe Biden declares his party’s candidacy for a second term for president of the United States.

may: Gordon Lightfoot, folk legend, dies, aged 84.  The WHO declares the global COVID-19 health emergency over.  Charles III and Camilla are enthroned during a lavish ceremony in London.  A jury finds Donald Trump guilty on the charge of sexual abuse and battery, labelling him a predator and pest.  Elon Musk appoints a former television advertising executive as head of Twitter as he announces plans to transform the ailing social network into a multi-purpose app similar to China’s WeChat.  Harry and Meghan are recklessly pursued by paparazzi in New York—with strong echoes of the death of his mum’s fatal encounter.  China begins to call in loans to some of the world’s most impoverished countries after making them dependent on cheap credit.  Tina Turner passed away peacefully, aged 83, in her home outside of Zurich—Simply the Best.  Florida governor Ron DeSantis announces his presidential candidacy on Twitter.

june: The death toll of a catastrophic train crash in India approaches three hundred with countless more injured.  After months of drama and tension, the US raises its debt ceiling to avoid default.  A dam breach, blamed on Russia, causes massive flooding along the Dnipro river and forces tens of thousands to
evacuate.  Astrud Gilberto, the Queen of Bossa Nova, and original singer of the infinitely covered ‘Girl from Ipanema,’ has passed away, aged 83.  Wildfires rage in Canada, smoke enveloping the Eastern Seaboard.  The awaited Ukraine counteroffensive begins.  Four children who survived an airplane crash in the jungles are Columbia are found alive having survived the forty day ordeal.  Donald Trump is indicted on federal charges for retention of classified documents imperilling US national security. Boris Johnson quits Parliament ahead of an official rebuke from the House of Commons over Partygate. Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber and CIA UK Ultra test subject, is dead, aged 81.  Media tycoon and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi passes away, aged 86.  NATO holds large scale military exercises in Germany.  The whistleblower and leaker behind the Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellsberg, passes away, aged 92.  A submersible taking a compliment of five tourist to the wreck of the Titanic is lost.  Mercenary Wagner Group turns critical of the invasion of Ukraine and stages a mutiny after announced take-over by the Russian defence ministry, occupying Rostov-on-Don and proposing a march on Moscow, reaching half-way to the capital before a truce is negotiated by the Belarusian president.  France riots over the death of a teenager after being shot by a police officer.  US Supreme Court overturns affirmative action in college admissions, student loan forgiveness and LGBTQI+ anti-discrimination laws, though at least on the last case, it looks as if evidence was fabricated.  

july: Joseph Pedott, marketing virtuoso, passed away, aged 91.  Israel conducts a major military raid into a Palestinian refugee camp in Jenin.  Despite warnings from humanitarians and a ban in place for their use by over a hundred countries, the US is sending surplus cluster-bombs from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts to Ukraine.  Catastrophic flooding devastates Vermont and other parts of New England.  Hollywood’s Screen Actors Guild joins the writers’ strike.  Jane Birkin, singer, activist and French icon, dies aged 76.  Crooner Tony Bennett passes away, aged 96.  After months of media hype and anticipation, the Barbieheimer phenomenon comes to cinemas.  Singer Sinรฉad O’Connor has died, aged 56—nothing compares 2 u.  Hunter Biden appears before court on charges of tax evasion and illegal gun-ownership, days after boudoir photos of him enter the congressional record, possibly in violation of laws against revenge porn. The Nigeria government falls to a military coup d’etat with the president taken into custody.  Paul Reubens, the actor who portrayed Pee-Wee Herman, passed away aged 70, after a private bout with cancer.  Voyager 2 after two weeks of radio silence has re-established contact with Earth.

august: Donald Trump is indicted for his role in fanning the flames that culminated in the January Sixth raid on the Capitol and attempts to over turn the 2020 election.  Wildfires devastate the Hawaiian island of Maui and the town of Yellowknife is evacuated as forests are engulfed in Canada.  A rare hurricane, the first in eighty years, passes over Baja California, causing flooding and heavy rains, a year’s worth in a single day.  Ex-Wagner chief and senior leadership perish in an airplane crash.  Indian lands a probe at the lunar south pole.  Trump is arrested, booked and released on bail after in Fulton County Georgia.  Long-time US game show host Bob Barker dies, aged 99 (playing by Price-is-Right rules until the end).  An unprecedented hurricane strikes Florida’s Big Bend region between the panhandle and peninsula.  “Margaritaville” singer Jimmy Buffett passes away, aged 76.

september: Drought and wildfires are followed by flooding in Greece. An earthquake strikes the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco, killing hundreds and destroying parts of Marrakesh.  Rupert Murdoch steps down from News Corp.  Fighting erupts in Nagorno-Karabakh, the breakaway region of Azerbaijan. After more than five months, the Hollywood Writers’ Guild reaches a deal with the studio and ends its strike.  In solidarity with striking autoworkers, US president Joe Biden joins the picket line, the first for a sitting holder of the high office.  As counter-programming to the second Republican debate, Trump also makes an appearance with union workers.

october: Hamas and other terror groups launch a surprise attack on Israel, causing Tel Aviv to declare war against Gaza with thousands killed on both sides.  Earthquakes in Afghanistan leaves over a thousand dead.  An eastern Pacific tropical cyclone devastates Acapulco with hundreds killed and many more displaced. 

november: Three-hundred thousand marched for peace in Palestine through London during Armistice Day celebrations after earlier rallies drawing in huge numbers to urge Israel enact a humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza.  Pope Francis dismisses an ultra conservative bishop in Texas who criticised the pontiff's more progressive stance on non-gender-conforming members of the Church. OpenAI’s board of directors have ousted founder and CEO Sam Altman, the chief representative of the chatbot revolution and proponent for regulatory framework, for his lack of candour and transparency.  Microsoft immediately hired Altman and fellow defectors.  Humanitarian and former US First Lady Rosalynn Carter passes away.  Rightwing populist Geert Wilders wins a controlling share of the Netherlands’ parliament. A temporary cease-fire is called in Gaza to allow the release of hostages and more humanitarian aid to enter the beleaguered city.  Henry Kissinger dead at one-hundred.

december: Fabulist and fraudster George Santos expelled from the US congress.  Israel renews attacks on Palestine after a temporary truce. Legendary television producer Norman Lear passes away at 101. Israeli forces extend attacks in southern Gaza, where many fled to avoid the violence.  Ousted US Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy tenders his retirement from Congress, leaving the Republicans a controlling majority of only two seats.  The EU enacts the world’s first comprehensive AI regulatory framework.  A volcanic eruption occurs on the Icelandic Reykjanes peninsula with Sundhnรบkagรญgar dumping lava and prompting evacuations.  Trump confidant and former New York City mayor Rudi Guliani declares bankrupcy after being ordered to pay nearly one hundred-fifty million dollars in restitution for libelling Georgia election workers.  Houthi pirates attacking cargo ships in the Red Sea cause transportation to round the Cape of Good Hope.  A mass shooting in Prague leaves fifteen individuals dead.  Missing Russian opposition figure Alexei Nalvalny emerges, detained in a penal colony above the Arctic Circle.  A heavy barrage of missiles hit Kyiv as US financial and materiel backing driess up.Veteran German parliamentarian Wolfgang Schรคuble passes away, aged 81.  Jacques Delors, statesman who helped shaped the European Union dead at 98.  Entertainer Tommy Smothers dies at 86.  Israeli bombardment of Gaza continues, with the death toll of civilians surpassing twenty-thousand.

Sunday 12 November 2023

the war to end all wars

Reflecting on the holiness of Armistice Day when God spoke clearly to mankind, perhaps for the last time, during the silence observed in the name of peace, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr reflected on its becoming a modern American holiday how the latter is sacred but “Veterans’ Day is not… I don’t want to throw away any sacred things. What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance—and all music is,” we too take umbrage with how a commemoration of loss and laying down arms became to some a celebration of the warrior and his errant adventures. We appreciated this touching memorial on Remembrance Sunday of those fallen in the East London district of Spitalfields. It’s a moving tribute with short biographies, a map of where they lived and images of the doorways and thresholds that they passed under. More at Spitalfields Life from the Gentle Author.

Thursday 2 November 2023

6x6 (11. 091)

in front of the children: a Betamax find from 1983 on the BBC’s six decades of television for younger audiences 

ofrenda: a shrine on All Souls Day to the recently departed Paul Rubens, (clap! clap! clap!) deep in the heart of Texas 

terraces: an obscure 1977 made-for-television movie about tenants of a high-rise featuring Miss Julie Newmar, Jane Dulo and some gay neighbours  

forest friends: a profile of ecologist Simona Kossack’s three-decade residence in a secluded primeval wood  

now and then: The Beatles release their final song  

goldar: the late 60’s Japanese tokusatsu series, Ambassador Magma—the original Transformers, that achieved cult status in foreign markets as The Space Giants

Friday 27 October 2023

9x9 (11. 078)

page rank: the SEO trend of naming establishments X Near Me seems to actually drive customers—via Waxy  

cyanea pohaku: a species of tree discovered right before it was driven to extinction

saint eom: the psychedelic compound of folk artist and fortune-teller Eddie Owens Martin outside of Buena Vista in the US state of Georgia and listed on the National Register of Historic Places  

usonian homes: a pair of Frank Lloyd Wright (see previously) houses on the market in Kalamazoo in the US state of Michigan  

saob: the official Swedish dictionary published after one hundred forty years of work

the united states of guns: another sadly evergreen post about how an armed society is not a free society   

happiness hotel: a luxury kennel once occupied the grounds of New York City’s Lincoln Center 

report of my death having been most industriously circulated by several of the london daily newspapers, would the times permit me to contradict the same through your valuable columns and refute the account: sculptor John Ternouth, designer of the plinth for Nelson’s Column, was surprised to learn of his premature demise—via Strange Company  

i am altering the deal—pray i don’t alter it any further: Amazon’s Alexa is ending inoperability support with severe punishment for those who try to hack their way around it

Wednesday 11 October 2023

archiatra pontifico (11. 051)

Via our faithful chronicler, we learn that this day in 1958, sharing the anniversary with quite a few other events of pith and circumstance, that our friend Pope Pius XII (see previously) suffered a posthumous indignity at the hands the hands of his personal physician Riccardo Galeazzi-Lisi, a trained optometrist later stripped of his office and medical license and banished from the Vatican for life for leaking photos of the dying pontiff to the magazine Paris Match. Claiming that Pius expressed a wish to be not embalmed and his organs removed in the usual fashion but rather preserved after the model of Christ, Galezzi-Lisi concocted a special treatment of oils and resins (plus wrapping the body in cellophane) claimed would make the papal corpse incorruptible. The unseasonable heat of that early autumn, however, undermined any effectiveness that treatment might have had and the body decomposed rapidly, curtailing the viewing of the faithful and necessitating the regular relief of the Swiss Guard standing watch, overcome by the stench. For the remainder of the procession and funeral service, the casket was closed and sealed and may have exploded from the pressure of gaseous discharge as a result of the accelerated autolysis and putrefaction, thankfully not witnessed by the public.

synchronoptica 

one year ago: Barbarella (1968), ancient animation, a Coming Out simulator plus a declassified map of nuclear targets

two years ago: the micronation of Rose Island

three years ago: an appreciation of the Smiley Face, a system for coding emotional facial reactionsSt Gummarus plus the debut of Saturday Night Live (1975)

four years ago: more on the moons of Jupiter plus the better letterer’s corner

five years ago: pรคntsdrunk,  more on Coming Out Day, the technical mastery of chindลgu, a moon moon plus The Secret Life of Plants

Monday 9 October 2023

the tomb of cerberus (11. 048)

Public works crews updating the water supply for a suburb of Naples have uncovered with the help of a team of archaeologists an untouched funerary chamber of the later Imperial period complete with burial goods and pristine frescos of mythological scenes, including a pair of ichthyocentaurs and a rear wall depicting the last and most dangerous of the twelve labours of Hercules, the capture and submission of the three-headed hound of Hades. Considered a fool’s errand and a way to finally get rid of the try-hard hero, king Eurystheus of Argos dispatched Hercules on this mission to eliminate the remaining primordial beasts of the elder gods and bring about the reign of the Olympians, Zeus against the will of his wife Hera championed Heracles (“Hera’s fame”), the latter supporting the cause of the monsters. With the help of Hermes (also pictured), Hercules also managed to rescue Theseus and Pirithous, two companions confined to Hades for their brazen attempt to free Persephone.

Sunday 17 September 2023

heaven, sir—and hell, too—it’s the same place, you see (11. 005)

Punctuated with highly humorous dialogue yet dealing with serious subjects of class, spirituality and redemption, the premier play of of Sutton Vane (who turned to acting and writing as therapy after his experiences in the trenches during World War I left him shell-shocked) opened on this day in 1923 and was an instant success, resounding for audiences and critics alike. The stage piece relates the story of a group of seven passengers who are the sole compliment of a huge ocean liner with no crew save for a steward who attends them and who eventually helps them reconcile to the fact their destination is the afterlife and prepare them for judgment by the Examiner. Immediately moved to a larger venue due to its popularity and optioned by Broadway pre-production, adapted as a cinematic release three times and saw numerous revivals—including a season directed by Otto Preminger and starring Vincent Price, despite their difference, the passengers slowly realise that their lives were intertwined and alternately aid and antagonise one another under the watch of the Charon-like barman. The full radio play in three acts is below:

synchronoptica

one year ago: the debut of M*A*S*H* (1972), assorted links to revisit, Emperor Norton I plus a consequential forgery

two years ago: The Persuaders!rewilding one’s attention plus more links to enjoy

three years ago: Hildegard von Bingen, tour guides, words with only plural forms, the musical stylings of Ady Zehnpfennig, the illustrations of Rex Whistler plus the microscopic world announced

four years ago: The Handmaid’s Tale, previously unreleased pictures of David Bowie, spoon-hanging plus more language hapaxes

five years ago: the space shuttle Enterprise (1976)

Saturday 29 July 2023

you will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me (10. 913)

Fรชted on this day along with her siblings Lazarus and and Mary (often conflated with Mary Magdalene), Martha of Bethany, patron saint of hospitality workers, domestics and try-hards, is characterised in the Book of Luke as being conscientiously preoccupied with the task of hosting Jesus when he came for a visit.

Both sisters lamenting that had Jesus arrived earlier he might have healed their brother and prevented his death, Martha came out of mourning to receive their guest, while Mary waited and wept for her departed brother. Jesus wept. Moved by Mary’s emotions (whose patronage includes Spiritual Studies), Jesus resurrected Lazarus, restoring him to life after four days dead in a tomb. Later, the siblings hosted Jesus again for a in celebration and gratitude of Lazarus’ return with Mary in the course of the feast anointing the feet of Jesus with an entire vial of expensive perfume and wiped his feet with her hair. Many of the other other disciples were upset by this ostentatious display, especially Judas who argued that this costly albastron represented a year’s wages and could have been sold to benefit the poor—to which Jesus rebutted the above (somewhat confusingly as parables are not always the best didactic tools in one’s quiver) that Mary was saving the perfume for his burial, suggesting that she somehow sensed his imminent capture, trial and execution.  

synchronoptica

one year ago: departing Scotland
 
two years ago: St Olaf,  fighting runaway inflation with video game money, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil plus some philosophical captchas
 
three years ago: a collection of conchs, more Universal Everything, the wedding of Charles and Diana (1981) plus Trump’s medical advisors
 
four years ago: more consequences for America leaving the Universal Postal Union plus a feline fragrance
 
five years ago: the birth of NASA (1958) plus the portfolio of photographer Joshua Blackburn

Friday 14 July 2023

qu’ils mangent de la brioche (10. 883)

Though likely never uttered by Marie Antoinette, having been coined by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in his autobiographical Confessions, quoting an unnamed “great princess,” in 1765—when she was aged just nine and the archduchess of Austria had not yet been to France and was never cited contemporaneously as a grievance against and denouncement of the Ancien Rรฉgime, only garnering parlance a half a century later to rail against Napoleon’s restoration, the phrase “let them eat cake” nonetheless became an important and instigating example of the aristocracy’s obliviousness. While maintaining a lavish royal household was not the sole or even primary cause of the economic plight of France, and as queen, she was charitable to fault, the country had suffered successive famines and food staples like bread exceeded half a peasant’s salary and became one of the most cited or paraphrased quotations of all time. Marie Antoinette, after her husband’s execution in January and with her children forcibly removed so they might be inculcated with revolutionary ideals, appeared before a tribunal and guillotined in mid-October of 1793. Madam Tussard’s wax-works was commissioned for her death-mask, and her body was interred without ceremony in an unmarked grave, in a Parisian cemetery deconsecrated and paved over after the burial of her accusers, the Exaggerators, les Hรฉberists, who rallied for the nationalisation of wine and grain.

Monday 3 July 2023

lux รฆterna (10. 854)

Ahead of the composer’s centenary tribute from the Proms, the Guardian profiles the life and career of influential, dissident virtuoso Gyรถrgy Ligeti whose work informed the likes of John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Radiohead, and rather infamously used by the director in 2001: A Space Odyssey to frame pivotal moments without the artist’s full permission, Stanley Kubrick opting not to use the work commissioned for the soundtrack and using public domain classic orchestral arrangements instead. 2001 is by far not his lasting legacy, having created many evocative and innovative works, like an arrangement for one hundred metronomes, but his plexiglass Ehrengrab (1923 - 2006) in Vienna’s Central Cemetery looks as if it could have been fashioned from the original Monolith. Read more about the progressive compositions of Ligeti at the link up top. Below is one of his final works, the 2003 reworking of the Hamburg Concerto with distempered tuning.

Tuesday 30 May 2023

7x7 (10. 778)

omnes vanitas: the puzzling thanatopsis of the paintings of David Bailly 

hbo in space: music made for television—see previously here and here  

journey to the west: in the Hall of the Monkey King 

trompe-l’ล“il: the hyper realistic paintings of John Frederick, see previously—via Messy Nessy Chic  

outside the frame: using LLM and AI to hear the rest of the story–not that we needed to 

velvet goldmine: the art collection of David Bowie—see previously here and here  

memento mori: an elaborate lie-detection apparatus from the 1920s

sit tibi terra levis (10. 777)

Print magazine columnist Steven Heller directs us to an interesting project in the form of a series lithographic prints created from the rubbings (frottage) of the headstones of historic type designed—having to hunt down the final resting places of many of these influential yet sometimes forgotten and neglected individuals. Pictured is a detail from the grave marker of William Caslon I (†1766) interred in St Luke Old Street in London, who started business engraving gun parts before establishing a foundry. Inspired by Dutch Baroque fonts, his Latin types (also producing a character set in Coptic and Hebrew) in a very legible pica size were instantly popular among publishers and the reading public, used in the Cyclopaedia of 1728 and the Declaration of Independence’s version for distribution, that the phrase came about, “when in doubt, use Caslon.” Much more about the project on exhibition and more tombstones at the link up top.

Saturday 13 May 2023

sancta maria ad martyres (10. 738)

Gifted to Pope Boniface IV by Byzantine Emperor Phocas and rededicated as a Christian basilica in honour of St Mary and the Martyrs on this day in 609, the ancient Rome temple, built half a millennia earlier by Hadrian and commissioned to replace an earlier structure that had burnt down during the reign of Marcus Agrippa (hence the inscription, M·AGRIPPA·L·F·COS·TERTIVM·FECIT, “son of Lucius made [me] during his third term as consul,” is unique for its rotunda and oculus skylight (telling the time like a sun-dial but with light instead of shadow) and counted among the best preserved works of Roman architecture by dint of its continuous use. Though probably not a shrine sacred to the every deity since it was prescribed that temples should be devoted to a single god or goddess lest a single building be struck by lighting or be otherwise desecrated and probably a popular nickname for the many statues that lined the portico or for the vaulted ceiling that opened up to the heavens. In order to dispel pagan demon worship and sanctify the space, twenty-eight cartloads of remains—said to be Christians put to death during the Diocletian Persecution—were brought up from the catacombs and reinterred in a porphyry tomb beneath the altar and stripped the interior of its decoration, shipping the ornaments off to Constantinople. Used also as a final resting place for members of the House of Savoy, the interior niches have been richly decorated over the centuries and structurally is one of the most architecturally influential buildings, typifying the neo-classic style and echoed in many government buildings and public institutions.

Thursday 9 March 2023

9x9 (10. 600)

shepherds bush’s: a collection of vintage photographs from Peter Marshall  

hold my calls, i’m blogging: the life of the dedicated internet caretakers 

clubhouse goals: the creative compound of the Red Rose Girls of fin de siรจcle sisterly Philadelphia  

dynamo: labelling suggestions notes art: stunning sketches made in the Notes app—via Things Magazine  

clickbait: sixteen seven companies dominating search results—via ibฤซdem  

the cheops inclination: unbuilt mortuary monuments of London—see previously—inspired by Egyptomania 

i want to lie, shipwrecked and comatose, drinking fresh mango juice: celebrating the thirty-fifth anniversary of Red Dwarf  

cabmen’s shelter fund: the remaining few historical kiosks constructed so livery wouldn’t need to let unattended—see previously

Sunday 5 March 2023

the great michigan pizza funeral (10. 592)

With the governor also coming to pay his respects, a sizeable crowd with members of the press came to the small town of Ossineke to witness the ceremonial disposal of nearly thirty-thousand frozen cheese and mushroom pies, buried in a five metre deep grave. In order to demonstrate personal accountability and generate a bit of publicity for his business, one of the most state-of-the-art and earliest operations of its kind in America, Mario Fabbrini, originally from Fiume, Croatia and fled Yugoslavia, proprietor of Papa Fabbrini’s Pizzas, was approached by safety inspectors from the US Food and Drug Administration and ordered to recall, out of an abundance of caution, nearly a week’s worth of manufacturing when a supplier of mushroom toppings had tested positive for botulism. A post-mortem revealed the pizzas to be free of the deadly bacteria.

Friday 13 January 2023

8x8 (10. 413)

rummaged in the roots: with only the dead in their graves as witnesses, we learned that the Hardy Tree of St Pancras succumbed to blight, via Strange Company  

terracotta army: archeologists are hesitant to unseal the tomb of China’s first emperor—and for good reason, via ibฤซdem, more here 

genuary 2023: a month of generative coding to make beautiful AI artefacts—via Web Curios  

alphaputt: this typographical, twenty-six hole course

know your meme: incredibly, there has never been an indexed search engine of the internet image macros—via Waxy

fossil fuel: industry scientists had a preternaturally accurate grasp on the consequences of burning oil five decades ago—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links  

ucluelet: the largest Rogue Wave on record—see previously  

vauxhall: a tour of south London in the 1980s—via Things Magazine

Thursday 12 January 2023

homeotherm (10. 411)

Declared legally dead on this day in 1967, University of California psychology professor and author of several influential works of occupational counselling, Dr James Hiram Bedford became the first individual whose body underwent cryopreservation. With the expectation of being revived and treated when medical science could cure a presently terminal illness, Evan Cooper’s Life Extension Society offered to treat and store a body in a state of suspended animation free of charge as a promotion to advance their line of research. Dying of kidney cancer that had metastasised and spread to his lungs, Bedford volunteered but not entirely taking up the foundation on its munificence but importantly providing in his will funding for his continued preservation. Though there is some debate on the efficacy of the methodology and whether through various transfers the vital temperature was maintained, a cryogenics lab is still Bedford’s caretaker to the present day.