Saturday 18 May 2024

neustadt a. / a. (11. 565)

We ventured out to visit the main town of the region, Neustadt an der Aisch—a member of the cohort of European municipalities called Neustädter numbering around a dozen—and saw the old town, which was cultivated through the auspices of House Hohenzollern under the burgraves of Nürnberg into a cultural, political and economic hub along the main overland trade route between Würzburg and Nürnberg already by the twelfth century but ending after the Thirty Years War in the mid-1600s and falling under Prussian sovereignty. Neustadt faded in importance but due to subsequent developments in the rail network (which followed those ancient merchant roads) and repopulated with Germans expelled from the Sudatenland, Neustadt regained some of its former prominence.

We saw the Altes Schloss that now hosts a carp and aquaculture museum and the old town square that features a Neptune, referred to as the Gabelmensch like its former diocese of Bamberg, in front of the Rathaus. 

Afterwards we made loop along a hiking path through the forest from the campgrounds to a little community called Kästel with a twelfth century church dedicated to St Mauritius next to this ivy covered guesthouse. The church was closed by a tablet indicated that it was founded by the Knights Templar with the incipit Non nobis—from the Latin prayer of thanksgiving and humility: Nōn nōbīs, Domine, nōn nōbīs, sed nōminī tuō dā glōriam or ”Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to thy name give the glory.“


one year ago: a classic from Looking Glass plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: the Geneva Convention on Environmental Modification (1977), another MST3K classic, a national assembly in Frankfurt (1848) plus more links to enjoy

three years ago: even more links plus the plan to put a roller coaster on the Golden Gate Bridge

four years ago: the eruption of Mt Saint Helens plus more links

five years ago: an old/new painting by Vermeer 

Thursday 2 May 2024

national day of reason (11. 530)

In response to the statutory observance of the National Day of Prayer—codified into law at the urging of conservative evangelical preacher Billy Graham in 1952 during the Korean War with US president Harry S Truman signing a bill proclaiming that each subsequent administration was to declare this annual holiday on the date of his choosing—this secular counter-convocation has been held on the first Thursday since 2003 by humanists and freethinkers to assert freedom from religion after unsuccessfully petitioning the federal government from endorsing the former, supported by public monies and time for Christian-dominated religious ceremonies. The latter having gained in popularity in recent years as a demonstration that nonbelievers can contribute to their communities in positive and life-affirming ways and be good without god, activities include organised food drives, blood donations and giving to other charities.

Monday 15 April 2024

wunderzeichen (11. 490)

We quite enjoyed pursuing this collection of sixteenth century German woodcuts cataloguing ominous signs in the heavens, the unexplained and inexplicable occurring with enough frequency to create a carve-out—and still does—parallel to the nascent publishing industry for special bound editions of pamphlets and broadsheets circulated on the topic, “wonder books” as sort of a personal log to curate, update and hand down of the phenomena, preserving an otherwise ephemeral record of strange occurrences happening too often to otherwise commit to the historical record, sightings and encounters spurred on by sightings and sermonising speculation that was also propelled by the printing-press. Much more from Public Domain Review at the link up top.

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 à 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

Tuesday 2 April 2024

the fabiola project (11. 463)

Via Messy Nessy Chic, we are acquainted with the extensive portfolio Mexican artist of Belgian extraction Francis Alÿs through a travelling installation of some three hundred reproductions of the fourth century figure Saint Fabiola based off the profile and pose created by Jean-Jacques Henner in his 1885 portrait. The original was lost in 1912 but the image was copied over the decades by painters around the world, and sourced from flea markets and rummage sales in the Americas and Europe, mostly attributed to anonymous, amateur studies and naive artist, Alÿs’ 1994 exhibit explores the precedents and antecedents that inform and flow from popular replicas and what constitutes an icon. The fourth century Roman noblewoman who filed for legal separation from her insufferable husband and remarried, contrary to Catholic practise but was welcomed back to the congregation for her works, turned to a life of charity under the influence of Jerome, is fêted on 27 December in the calendar of saints and includes in her patronage divorced people, the hospice movement—establishing many care centres throughout Italy and the Near East as well as attending patients herself as a trained physician after lodging with Paul (see above) during a pilgrimage to Bethlehem, and is called on for intercession in difficult relationships. 


one year ago: assorted links to revisit

two years ago: Me and Bobby McGee (1971), a rogue archivist, Russian-America, more MEUTE plus more links to check out

three years ago: Wishing Well (1988), fuchsias, the Yellow Fleet (1967) plus St Francesco

four years ago: naming houses

five years ago: sonic disruptors, plant based burgers plus decision fatigue

Friday 29 March 2024

give us barabbas (11. 457)

Via Miss Cellania, we are directed to the rather compelling 1961 biblical epic (overshadowed by others in the genre) directed by Richard Fleischer for Dino De Laurentiis’ studio, originally cast for Yul Brynner in the title role, portrayal of the thief chosen by the crowd over Jesus to the be pardoned and released by provincial governor Pontius Pilate, as a Passover custom, went to Anthony Quinn with supporting roles by Arthur Kennedy, Ernest Borgnine and Jack Palance and expands on the life of the reformed recidivist after the Crucifixion (filming timed to take advantage of an actual solar eclipse that took place on 15 February in the year of the debut) who is only mentioned in passing in the gospels. Upon release and returning to his compatriots, still a sceptic, Barabbas is disappointed and frustrated to discover that his girlfriend has become a convert—stoned to death later in Jerusalem for evangelising. Feckless and devastated by the loss following his reprieve, Barabbas returns to his life of crime and when a botched attempt on a caravan goes awry, Barabbas throws himself at the mercy of the authorities and is condemned to toil in the hellish sulphur mines of Sicily for the rest of his existence. Chained to a Christian slave that at first resents Barabbas was spared over Christ but over the years of their sentence—eventually curtailed by an earthquake that causes the tunnels to collapse killing all the slaves except the two companions—became friends and return to Rome, via the gladiatorial route to freedom. With suspected sympathies and guilt by association, Barabbas is imprisoned with other Christians, including Peter the Apostle, rounded-up and incarcerated en masse, accused of having set fire to the city under the rule of Nero and charged with arson, were summarily executed by crucifixion.


one year ago: the flags of Antarctica plus a special air raid all clear message

two years ago: a NATO expansion (2004) plus omissions in the presidential daily diary

three years ago: assorted links to revisit, Casa Sperimentale plus California cults

four years ago: a record high for the Dow Jones index (1999), Bulgarian postal cancellation stamps,  a GI*Joe reboot plus fashion-enforced social distancing

five years ago: more links to enjoy, satirical job titles that are probably real ones now plus Brexit is going swimmingly

Monday 25 March 2024

dionysian incarnation of the word (11. 450)

First reckoned by Scythian monk Dionysius Exiguus (the Humble) in 525 but his Computus for determining the date of Easter not widely adopted until the ninth century, his convention of Anno Domini was conceived as way to number regnal years breaking with the old system of Roman eras that continued the memory of rulers who often subjected Christians to persecution and repression. Reaching back five centuries, cross-referencing traditional dating systems, Olympiad years, biblical accounts and the reign of consulships, prone to inaccuracies and some confusion and fraught with the Roman idea that great figures would live out lives only in whole years, his calculations were confounded and not synchronised with any extant calendar, the logic behind the ultimate decisions made obscure by design, possibly wanting to tamp down on the influence of certain branches of the faith who believed that the end of the world was imminent and the resurrection of the dead would come five hundred years after the birth (conception, incarnation, nativity) of Jesus, the common era beginning with year one on this day five hundred twenty-four years prior, by demonstrating that it had already passed.


one year ago: a Trump rally in Texas

two years ago: Lady Day plus Ring of Fire (1963)

three years ago: your daily demon: Aguarès, a huge NFT portfolio, St Dismas, Like a Prayer (1989) plus assorted links to revisit

four years ago: more links to enjoy

five years ago: elegant, animated GIFs to teach maths, COBRA started as a pyramid-scheme, an unusual time-piece for Lent in Austria plus more links worth revisiting

Tuesday 19 March 2024

bascílica i temple expaitori de sagrada família (11. 436)

For the anniversary of the laying of the ground stone for the largest unfinished Catholic church in the world (see also) initially under the direction of architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano in 1882, whom resigned his commission from the Spiritual Association of Devotees of St Joseph over creative differences and was subsequently awarded to Antoni Gaudí (previously) who transformed the project into his magnum opus. Passing away in 1926 when the structure was only an estimated fifteen percent completed and leaving future builders to finish his vision, Gaudí reported answered to the slow progress of construction with “My client is not in a hurry.” Impediments to progress arose during World War I, the Spanish Civil War and World War II but the cathedral is open to the public, with regular masses held since 2017. Executed in Gaudí’s unique fusion of Cubism and Art Nouveau and rich withsymbolism, one can take a virtual tour courtesy of Open Culture at the link above. 


one year ago: the history of paper shredding, more FOIA follies, the excavation of Knossos, Germany’s biggest union plus the Second Iraqi War (2003)

two years ago: assorted links to revisit plus Plagiarism Today

three years ago: more links to enjoy

four years ago: Spring is coming

five years ago: C-SPAN, Hitler’s orders to destroy infrastructure in Germany (1945), more links worth revisiting plus music for cheese

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.

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

Tuesday 6 February 2024

saint mél (11. 329)

Son of Saint Patrick’s sister Darerca and eventually accompanying his uncle to Ireland for missionary work, this itinerate bishop with no fixed see during his ministry, this patron of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, supported himself through manual labour and subsistence farming, residing with his aunt called Lupait during a portion of his ministry. In order to quell rumours and preserve the good reputation of their evangelising work, Patrick went to investigate himself, with both aunt and nephew producing miracles (carrying burning coals and fishing a fish from a field) to prove the innocent and chaste nature of their relationship, and the two went to live apart—following the patriarch’s suggestion, who also raised the great hill called Bri Leith between their respective new settlements in Mél’s home parish and Druimheo, further east where Lupait relocated, they separated. Invoked by those falsely accused of incest, the feast of Saint Mél, venerated either today or on the seventh, has become a local holiday of singlehood (there being quite a few other saints devoted to the unpaired but all with the designs of marrying well) with customs including sending cards to oneself ahead of Valentine’s Day and hosting mixers that extol the good things about being confirmed bachelors and bachelorettes.

Saturday 27 January 2024

horsey horseless (11. 299)

Through his 1899 patent for the above automobile mast or grill that fronted the steed of a horsed-carriage to cause less distress in mixed traffic, we are acquainted with the figure of Uriah Smith, Seventh Day Adventist minister, hymnodist, inventor and abolition and pacifism advocate. Disillusioned and disabused from religion following the Great Disappointment when the world did not end as foretold in prophesy but later joining the administration of the Advent church, contributing significantly to its theology and writing their own End Times eschatology, remaining in Battle Creek until expiring on his way to the office in 1903.

deo devota (11. 297)

Likely named Julia rather than the epithet “devoted to God” and occasionally conflated with the similar hagiographies of Saint Reparata and Torpes of Pisa, the patron saint of Monaco and Corsica is venerated on this day on the occasion of her martyrdom during the Diocletian persecutions. The visiting prefect demanded Devota submit to the imperial cult and upon her refusal, steadfast in her faith, was tortured and stoned to death. The Christian community saved her body and put it on a boat bound for Africa—certain to receive a proper burial there—the vessel, beset by a storm at sea, landed on the beach of Les Gaumates, Port-Hercule in present day Monte Carlo. According to tradition, flowers are said to bloom before their season on this day and the Monegasque royal family continue to participate in a special mass and pray to her relics for safety and intercession.

Friday 26 January 2024

paula of rome (11. 295)

Born into one of the richest and most powerful senatorial families, gens Furii—claiming descent from legendary Mycenaean king Agamemnon—and as recorded by later companion St Jerome, lived a life of luxury and intellectual pursuits, but when widowed at the age of thirty-two, Paula turned her interest towards religion and pilgrimage. While touring the Holy Land, Paula visited monastic communities and eventually settled in Bethlehem and established a spiritual retreat of her own—hostel for travellers connected to a monastery for men and a convent for women. Regarded as the first nun, abbess and Desert Mother, and re-examined as not just a patron but also a co-contributor to Jerome’s scholarship and translations, Paula is venerated on this day on the occasion of her death in the year 404, fêted as well by the Anglican Communion (along with her daughter Eustochium) on 28 September.

Sunday 14 January 2024

hands-free device (11. 266)

Admitted seen to have one dangling from the rear-view mirror myself from time to time (maybe I ought to have hitched it to my last car), we hadn’t heard of this early 1950s, patented accessory (see also) called the Recording Rosary. Though I imagine it could still lead distracted driving—the innovation was for the Glory bead (traditionally made from the jet sourced to saints’ shrines or carved from olive pits from the garden of Gethsemane though substitute materials are sanctioned) to keep track of the decades if the process needed to be interrupted—and question if praying the rosary is something to be done whilst multitasking, the inventor’s intention were in the right place with proceeds going to charity and engaging in the activity during one’s commute or official duties (particularly for soldiers) was hoped to promote world peace. More at Weird Universe at the link up top.

Thursday 21 December 2023

the ancient yuletide carol (11. 200)

Though conventions of the neopagan Wheel of the Year observes the holiday on the Winter/Summer Solstice, traditionally Yule fell later on the calendar and centred around Midwinter Night, a distinct date that falls several weeks later and corresponds to the first full Moon of beginning the month of Æfterra Gēola (Second Yule, roughly corresponding with the Julian month of January). We know of this rescheduling due to documentation in the Saga of Haakon the Good of Norway, ruler during the Christianisation phase in the mid-tenth century, king and country mutually hiding their faith from one another to avoid friction, and synchronising yuletide festivities with Christmas, and mandating that all Norwegians celebrate under punishment of fines. Once Haakon solidified his power and earned the trust of the people, the king imported bishops from England and had them preach throughout the kingdom.


one year ago: The Czar Wants to Sleep, assorted links to revisit, the American insurrection that nearly happened over WWII plus works entering the public domain

two year ago: the breakaway Republic of Fredonia, Peter Canisius, Jack Russells plus season’s greetings from Tolkien 

three years ago: vévé symbols plus the world’s first crossword puzzle

four years ago: more links to enjoy

five years ago: negative fireworks, the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright inscribed in the UNESCO register plus a very Rex Factor Christmas

Friday 10 November 2023

laterne, laterne, sonne, mond und sterne (11. 107)

In anticipation of the Feast of Saint Martin and the tradition of a lamp-lit procession, welcoming rather than ushering out the darkness and gloam of autumn formerly having roughly corresponded to the first of the month and a continuation of Halloween celebrations prior to calendar reform, we enjoyed this small sampling from a catalogue of chromolithographs of paper lantern designs from 1880 from the Tübingen booksellers Riethmüller—which still sells paperware and party favours. More at the links above.


one year ago: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973) plus Radiation Baby

two years ago: sinking nations plus Chaka Khan (1984)

three years ago: Toot, Whistle, Pluck and Boom, the US election, the Friends theme song, expecting more from America, voting irregularities plus an early edition

four years ago: an Art Nouveau printmaker, more Inktober maps, film composer Carlo Savina, a racing bar chart of the biggest musicians plus the debut of Sesame Street

five years ago: more unbuilt architecture, AI writes news copy, The 5000 Fingers of Doctor T plus a historical film lot consumed by wildfire

Friday 13 October 2023

the poor fellow-soldiers of christ and of the temple of solomon (11. 056)

Whilst endorsed by the papacy as the favoured charitable organisation within Christendom and Instrumental in the early successes of the Crusades, subsequent failures and their vast holdings and wealth derived from an early banking service began to curry jealousy and mistrust for the Knights Templar particularly by those secular leaders indebted to them. Leveraging rumours about the order’s initiation ceremony and secretive rites, King Philip IV of France (heavily in hock) issued an arrest warrant on this day in 1307—also a Friday giving rise to the popular superstition though not the origin of it—for Grand Master Jacques de Molay and hundreds of other members. Pressuring Pope Clement V in Avignon to ascent to the mass incarceration and trial by torture, the summons opened with the words «Dieu n’est pas content, nous avons des ennemis de la foi dans le Royaume» (God is not pleased—we have enemies of the faith in the kingdom), they were summarily charged with fraud idolatry, blasphemy and homosexual practises, which bore substantial similarities to accusations levied against other persecuted groups including Jewish communities and independent women often labeled witches and which carried little supporting evidence. Under duress, several confessed that they did indeed commit such acts and worshipped a mummified head that they called Baphomet taken from the Temple Mount, which was officially passed off as the recovered relic of John the Baptist. Burned at the stake in Paris, their lands and wealth were confiscated by the state with the pope assigning their role to the successor group the Knights Hospitallers.

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.


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: päntsdrunk,  more on Coming Out Day, the technical mastery of chindōgu, a moon moon plus The Secret Life of Plants

Friday 18 August 2023

reach out, touch faith (10. 950)

Via the ever-excellent Web Curios, we are directed towards an onslaught of AI applications and burgeoning projects including this “divine connection” in one’s pocket (see also) replete with testimonials and the disclaimer that “this app is a tool for reflection and learning, not a replacement for prayer or personal faith” offering a lifeline to the Great Come-Again Christ. This opportunity is coming as some are calling Jesus’ approach too woke and subversively suspect, and recalls an epilogue from a rather incongruous work seminar that I attended ages ago about “Living in the New Normal” which concluded that rather the inevitability of inventing God that maybe we as a society become worthy and create one, though probably not to be parsed as the canonical one. In addition to Jesus which certainly draws from rubric, premium subscribers can also choose other biblical personalities as interlocutors including members of the Holy Family like Mary or foster-father Joseph, who was admittedly kind of long-suffering save for the bit about siring the royal houses of Europe through Jesus’ half-siblings, and didn’t seem to have a lot of wisdom to dispense outside of carpentry, plus the Apostles including Judas and select figure from the Old Testament 🙏


one year ago: St Helen,  a 1922 gliding competition plus a bubble-wrap instrument

two years ago: your daily demon: Forneus, disfluent fonts, culture wars at school board meetings, School House Rock! maths shorts, more phonetic spelling proposals plus Mid-Century Lithuanian illustrators

three years ago: Roman emperors reconstructed with AI, Michelle Obama at the DNC, Women’s Suffrage in the US (1920), a new American Gothic, constructed languages, aesthetic data visualisations plus Hamlet variations

four years ago: canons for spawning fish,  more odonymy, more McMansions, a visual vernacular in architectural element plus the Lost of Colony of Roanoke

five years ago: a mid-70s vision of future space stations, an Icelandic word for a break from the heat, Wikipedia’s gift shop, making frozen treats heat resilient plus an early AI image maker