Wednesday 19 June 2024

offcuts (11. 639)

Despite abundant supplies of natural resource lithium, Australia—and most of the world—lack another, overlooked key component for the manufacture of battery storage and the transition away from carbon-intensive energy and must import graphite—see previously. Researchers at Charles Sturt University in Victoria, we learn courtesy of the New Shelton wet/dry, however, may have devised a technique for turning hair and wool cast-offs into the conductive crystalline form carbon by heating it under extreme pressure. This breakthrough also heralds opportunities for salons and shepherds who end up disposing of a lot of lower-quality animal fibre.


one year agoRocky Horror (with synchronoptica) plus assorted links to revisit

five years ago: one hundred facts for logophiles, German abbreviations plus plagiarism revealed through punctuation

six years ago: more the US Space Force, a model kit controversy, more on the robot crew member of the ISS plus a collection of beer coasters

seven years ago: the Saturday morning show that possibly inspired MST3K plus the wisdom of Wil Wheaton

eight years ago: gunpowder in the New World

Thursday 6 June 2024

advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young (11. 611)

Via our faithful chronicler, we are reminded of the spoken-word composition by Australian auteur Baz Luhrmann (Romeo + Juliet, Strictly Ballroom, The Great Gatsby, Moulin Rouge!), which topped the UK singles’ charts on this day in 1999. The essay is in the tone of a hypothetical commencement speech and was written two years prior by Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich—though often misattributed due to a viral email circulated around graduation time to Kurt Vonnegut and address given at MIT (here’s the one they’re probably thinking of), and hits, mellows as pretty poignant, particularly as it’s the year I got my college diploma. Trust me on the sunscreen.

Saturday 20 January 2024

koala country: infrared (11. 281)

Guiding us through the territory of Victoria, a place known for its colossal things and oversized monuments like this Big Watermelon in Wantirna or Giant Koala of Dadswell Bridge, photographer Sean Paris presents us with a unique perspective through a spectrum of usually invisible colours, ranging from vivid and supersaturated to washed out of these sculptural landmarks, historic buildings and vintage accommodations and recreational centres of the state. Veering into the domain of thermal imaging with his special lens filters and kit (as cameras are attuned to visible light and not longer wavelengths), these images in warm pinks and blues affords us an idea of how an insect might see the world. More from Designboom at the link above.


one year ago: Ukraine appeals to NATO partners plus AI has not yet mastered human hands

two years ago: the correspondence of Lincoln and Marx, peering into the spaces within musical instruments plus a wetland walkway

three years ago: your daily demon: Zagan, assorted links worth revisiting plus US presidential inaugurations

four years ago: more from artist Cold War Steve

five years ago: the mnemonic devices of Robert Fludd plus a trip to Cloister Kreuzberg

Sunday 31 December 2023

high-voltage (11. 229)

Sometimes colloquially called in their native Australia as Acca-Dacca and named after their sister pointed out the label on the electric adapter of her portable sewing machine, thinking that it captured the sense of raw energy that her brothers Angus and Malcom Young wanted to convey, the band had their first official engagement on New Year’s Eve in 1973 in a nightclub in Sydney called Chequers (or according to other sources, an event for Bondi Beach lifesavers). In the early days, their stage personae consisted of glam rock outfits and super hero costumes and would go on to record their first studio album two years later. Their iconic logo was designed by typographer Gerard Huerta who also produced lettering and artwork for Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Blue ร–yster Cult among many others and created corporate alphabets for Condรฉ Nast, Waldenbooks, Calvin Klein’s fragrances and Swiss Army brands as well as mastheads for Time, Money, People, Working Mother and the Atlantic magazines.


one year ago: same procedure as every year, an unreleased Blade Runner video game plus the first detailed views of Mars

two years ago: the first cases of COVID-19, Hogmanay, UN Secretary General U Thant, the outsider art of Louis Wain plus a laser display in lieu of fireworks

three years ago: the founding of Guinness, Kanji creation contest finalists plus Marshall McLuhan

four years ago: Putin begins his presidency (1999), more esoteric programming languages plus a New Year’s Countdown

five years ago: a pre-New Year’s Eve display, Japanese New Year traditions plus more countdowns

Sunday 17 December 2023

i’m not against wishful thinking—not now (11. 191)

As our faithful chronicler informs, just in time for the holidays, the bleak, apocalyptic adaptation of the Nevil Shute’s novel of the same name by director Stanley Kramer had its premier (on both sides of the Iron Curtain simultaneously) on this day in 1959. A cast including Fred Astaire, Ava Gardener, Gregory Peck and Anthony Perkins portrays the aftermath of a nuclear conflict (which unlike in the book version, no one is assigned blame for instigating World War III) where the entire population of the northern hemisphere is killed by the effects of radio active fallout. The lone surviving American nuclear-powered submarine berths in Melbourne as prevailing air currents are slowly carrying the nuclear debris south, threatening to make the other half of the globe uninhabitable as well. Despite a brief hope that dispersement calculations were too conservative and that there might be a chance for salvation, the radiation does not dissipate sufficiently to make it less lethal.


one year ago: Saturday Super Store plus assorted links to revisit 

two years ago: Saturnalia, an exceptional millipede plus Hunky Dory (1971)

three years ago: your daily demon: Murmur plus more links to enjoy

four years ago: Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire (1989), dispatches from Kew Botanical Gardens plus navigating spaces not designed for accommodation

five years ago: a breakthrough for nuclear fission plus the origin of the word gun

Monday 30 October 2023

6x6 (11. 085)

popular superstition: how belief in ghost became a class-marker and high-society aspired to more refined practises with spiritualism and horoscopes 

late night horror: the obscure 1970 UK anthology nearly consigned to oblivion  

jack skellington: a massive pumpkin mosaic sets a new world record  

sql: the infamous database “Halloween Problem” that reveals weaknesses in common information architecture  

very very scary: a 1990s rebroadcast of Nick at Nite vintage television seasonal specials—complete with commercials  

jimi halloween: the tradition of costumes so mundane they need to be explained continues—see previously 


one year ago: drawing with Ed Emberley plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: another MST3K classic—The Brain that Wouldn’t Die, more links to enjoy plus artist William-Adolphe Bourguereau

three years ago: the first residents board the International Space Station (2000), more on murderous dioramas, a wizarding curriculum from 1925 plus star charts for the yet to be born

four years ago: East German counter-programming, Brexit postponed plus the lost dative case

five years ago: stochastic terrorism, folksonomy, corporate fairy tales, birthright citizenship plus “Egyptian” Rocky Horror

Friday 27 October 2023

outsider art (11. 077)

Via the latest instalment of Clive Thompson’s Linkfest, we are directed to the story and gallery showing of

a reclusive, retired maths teacher who created a prodigious amount of wooden crafts and abstract paintings in complete solitude and almost complete secrecy over the final two decades of his life. Only divulged to his niece who had some notion of his artistic drive, Robert Martiensen’s full oeuvre was realised upon his death in 2007, surrounded in the family farmhouse by over seven thousand pieces of art, each meticulously named, dated and numbered. Dismissed by his heirs as rubbish, the unexpected trove was saved and conserved, with select pieces on exhibit and hopes to house the collection permanently in a public institution. More at the links above.

one year ago: another MST3K classic plus further adventures in Crete
two years ago: Antarctic outposts plus a funicular escalator to revitalise a historic resort

three years ago: an experimental solar sail, artist Mary Moser, a smart safety helmet plus a commemorative camera styled after Bond’s Q

four years ago: toying with time

five years ago: a counter-march in Wiesbaden, AI Halloween costume ideas plus Yoko Ono’s Warzone

Friday 16 June 2023

free-range (10. 811)

Via the always excellent Web Curios, we are referred to a genuinely clever idea, too bad it only ships from Australia, in basically an open frame hamster ball for fowl friends in this product called the Chicken Orb as we’ve been thinking about maybe adding one or more to the family—and we can’t really fence in the entire backyard and there are foxes on the prowl (but no dingos), though couldn’t say whether this would also afford protection.  The dog seems rather tame with the ducks and geese in the pond and could foresee this sort of enclosure working on at least that level too.  What do you think?  Should we give it a try?

Sunday 15 January 2023

he just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich (10. 418)

Originally released three years prior as the B-side, local single “Keypunch Operator” before signing with a major record label, Men at Work’s hit song began topping the US charts on this day in 1983 for a run of four weeks. Relating the narrative of an Australian travelling the world only to meet people interested in hearing about his home country with slang, drug references (chunder means to vomit) and remorse about overdevelopment and American cultural hegemony peppering the lyrics. The opening musical flourish from the children’s song “Kookabura (Sits in the Old Gum Tree)”—already in the public domain—was inserted ironically but was still the subject of a copyright lawsuit after the sampling was pointed out in a quiz show in 2007.

Tuesday 26 January 2021

this day in colonial history

Commemorated as Australia Day, the First Fleet under the command of Admiral Arthur Philip arrived in Sydney Harbour to found the first permanent British settlement on the continent in 1788. This is also the 1841 anniversary of the formal possession of Hong Kong when Commodore Gordon Bremer arriving at a headland (since moved inland due to coastal reclamation) named Possession Point, the former park developed as a hotel and in the 1980s with the terminal for ferry service to Macau. Finally in 1855, the Point No Point was signed under considerable duress on the northern tip of the Kitsap Peninsula (so named for its appearance from a distance as a promontory but receding as one nears it) in the territory of Washington, with the original inhabitants, the Skokomish, Chimakum and S’Klallam peoples, ceding their land in exchange for a small reservation, concession along the Hood fjord.

Thursday 16 January 2020

wollemia nobilis

Via Super Punch, we learn about the clandestine, successful mission pulled off by botanists, park rangers, conservators and New South Wales’ brave firefighters to save the only known wild population of Wollemi pines.
The trees, which may be up to one hundred thousand years in age, number about two hundred individuals and prior to their discovery in 1994 (akin to finding a living dinosaur), were believed to be extinct and only known through the fossil record. The operation was kept secret so as to not disclose the grove’s location as caretakers fear that visitors could bring contamination that could harm the critically endangered species. Clones have been propagated worldwide and have distinct broad needles and knobbly bark.

Wednesday 15 January 2020


scorched earth: ornithologists in Australia have observed opportunistic birds that use the bush fires to flush out prey—via Kottke

midden mound: one beachcomber is sharing her found treasures

robertson head driver: an interesting look at the history of screws and other tools

the rich get richer and the poor get children: proletaneous defines one aspect of economic disparity

bucket-brigade: Sydney Opera House thanks the firefighters