Thursday 11 April 2024

daylighting (11. 482)

Having previously looked at the subject of hidden urban watercourses, we enjoyed revisiting the topic and

learning about efforts for resurfacing and rehabilitating rivers, creeks and streams that have been buried, culverted and diverted and otherwise forgotten to make way for city development in the metropolitan areas of Canada, as with many other locations around the world, in this interactive, scrollytelling article from the CBC—via Nag on the Lake—on the ancient waterways of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Restoration efforts hope to not only rewild municipalities but also seen as a means to mitigate flooding and the urban heat island effect.


one year ago: assorted links to revisit plus Old Testament caricatures

two years ago: the Ukranian tryzub plus Turkish Star Trek

three years ago: St Godebertha, an uneventful day plus a screen-test for A Clockwork Orange

four years ago: Lucas Cranach the Elder, German Sesame Street plus the Louie Louie Advocacy and Appreciation Society

five years ago: Hello Europe posters for Brexit, check-out etiquette, Venezuelan politics plus the elements of typography

Saturday 24 February 2024

back-end analytics (11. 377)

Though tacking the prefix smart on appliances and/or connecting them to the internet of things has a mixed record and has raised many alarms over privacy concerns, this scandal revealed by a glitch in a vending machine, one of an array of banks of automats installed at the University of Waterloo in Ontario really illustrates how—as with contracts for delivery robots surveilling other campuses to collect dragnet data in jurisdictions with less stringent protections—innovation is just a cheap veneer for marketing and demographic stockpiling. No one was expecting, much less consented to, being subject to a facial recognition programme when it came to this transaction. The smart snack dispensers are being replaced with more traditional and less sinister ones, hopefully something more tried-and-true that take coins and display their selection behind glass, rather than on screen.

Wednesday 17 January 2024

court and spark (11. 275)

An immediate and enduring commercial and critical success and remaining the artist’s winningest recording, the sixth studio album by Joni Mitchell (previously) was released on this day in 1974. Presaged with the singles “Raised on Robbery” (below), “Free Man in Paris,” “Down to You” and “Help Me,” the tracks represent a departure from Mitchell’s folk roots shifting to pop with an infusion of jazz elements.


one year ago: assorted links worth revisiting plus a rolling snapshot of blog posts

two years ago: more McMansions, a warning against the military-industrial complex, celebrating the life and career of Betty White, astronomer Elizabeth Catherina Hevelius plus an overview of accounting tools

three years ago: the temptation of St Anthony, myPillow playbook,  the city of the future, breaking news of the Clinton-Lewinski scandal, the unused soundtrack for 2001 plus more links to enjoy

four years ago: the precursor to Prohibition plus McGingerbread Hell

five years ago: another government shutdown in the US, bouncy cushion satisfaction plus children envisioning a bleak future

Tuesday 26 December 2023

9x9 (11. 218)

inukshuk: CGP Grey grades the flags of the Canadian provinces—see previously  

omnibus: a compilation of the best books of the year 

52 things: Kottke shares some inspired, superlative gleanings from the past twelve months 

black smokers: hydrothermal vents evolved to prey on benthic Santas  

editors’ picks: some of NPR’s favourite, possibly overlooked stories of the year  

in a big country, dreams stay with you: assessing the size of YouTube—via Waxy  

there are two kinds of bubbles: speculation on the speculative nature of artificial intelligence from Cory Doctorow  

font foundry: the year in typography  

first nations: the contentious, selective display of tribal flags at the Oklahoma state capitol

Thursday 21 December 2023

strange paradise (11. 201)

Via the Abecedarian, we are introduced to the occult-supernatural soap opera that was Canada’s answer to Dark Shadows, capitalising on the unexpectedly phenomenal success of the American day-time gothic drama series. Originally syndicated in the US, it aired in three thirteen-week story arcs from October 1969 to July 1970 and was shot in Ottawa with the acting talents of Colin Fox and Tudi Wiggins. The show narrates the tragic account of a billionaire left inconsolable after the death of his wife on a remote Caribbean island, whom with the help of a local mystic, enters into a cursed contract with the spirit of a mysterious ancestor. The entire run is available below.

Wednesday 13 December 2023

7x7 (11. 186)

itsy-bitsy: a performance on the SpiderHarp, a large scale model originally developed to study vibrations and triangulation on a web  

origin story: how Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer began as a department store promotional giveaway  

owl001: BBC hacked live on the air in 1983—see also—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links  

marie mathรฉmatique: the adventures of the younger sister of Barbarella, scored by Serge Gainsbourg—see more  

ggwp: the E3 gaming conference has been shuttered permanently  

the great toy robbery: an animated classic from the National Film Board of Canada 

ikea monkey: the happy life of Darwin the macaque after its moment of fame—previously

Sunday 10 December 2023

conte du pourquoi (11. 178)

Generally in the International System of Units, as Futility Closet informs, the abbreviation of metrics are only afforded an uppercase character when the unit of measure is a personal namesake—see also—like the newton, ampere, joule, siemens, volt, hertz and kelvin, but the litre, particularly for jurisdictions with the inheritance of the Imperial System and one still singularly holding-fast, the litre was especially fraught for researchers for its potential to be confused with the digit 1. To avoid this confusion, most scientific and labelling authorities adopted a scripted โ„“ as a volumetric symbol, but conventions still held in the US, Canada and Australia. Originally as an April Fools’ Day hoax, Kenneth Woolner of the University of Waterloo created the fictional heir to a sixteenth century wine bottle manufacture concern who purposed an industry standard (famously conventional), Claude ร‰mile Jean-Baptise Litre, to promote the use of an upper-case L. I do hope that Litre had a full, fake biography.  The account was re-printed as fact by an IUPAC journal in 1978 as factual, and though subsequently retracted, the exception is now allowed.

Tuesday 17 October 2023

sun electric (11. 063)

Via Kottke, we are directed to a fascinating technological artefact and possible point of departure, contra-factual in this profile of entrepreneur and inventor George Cove, an early advocate of renewable energy who developed solar panels (and battery storage) not much different from those systems employed today. In 1905. There was a significant interest in this new technology and its potential fuelled by no shortage of media coverage and incremental improvements with attendant cost savings and greater efficiency. Yet the enterprise and Cove’s prospects came to an abrupt halt in 1909 when he was kidnapped and would only be released if he withdrew his patents and shut up shop. Though Cove reportedly refused to give in to these conditions, he was nonetheless released. Whilst some contemporary accounts say that the inventor staged his ransom to generate publicity or was victim of a jilted investor, it seems more likely he was roughed up by a thug sent from nascent Oil, an industry not known to be a friend of the democratising effects that virtually limitless and unfettered energy could provide or willing to pull any punches with the threat of competition. Solar power had no more champions for decades, and although it might be painful and disheartening to contemplate alternate-histories in the face of squandered time, resources and a planet that is burning, the fact that dependence of petroleum wasn’t a foregone outcome of industrialisation and modernity and that energy alternatives always had an uneasy coexistence is something for one’s quiver of hopes and disabusing. More from The Conversation at the link above.


one year ago: St Andrew of Crete,  assorted links to revisit plus RRR

two years ago: the tragical death of an apple pie

three years ago: the taking of Harper’s Ferry (1859), the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, change what the bunny is holding plus more links to revisit

four years ago: The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago

five years ago: pumpkin spice in everything, early Uber, The Republican Club plus more links to enjoy

Sunday 8 October 2023

play well (11. 046)

After growing quite well acquainted with the non-traditional medium whilst playing (as building co-facilitator) the iconic toy with her toddler, Vancouver-based artist Katherine Duclos began producing pieces of fine, gallery-worthy art with LEGO herself, with her young son now as a very helpful and accomplished emmanuence and block organiser. See more of Duclos’ meticulous studies and multidisciplinary compositions in an interview with Print Magazine at the link above and her personal website here.

Saturday 30 September 2023

8x8 (11. 031)

11/9/1989 - 9/11/2001: a thoroughgoing, reflective essay examining the fateful decade defined, bookended by the fall of the Berlin Wall and the September 11 Terror Attacks—via Web Curios  

hail and well met: the surprisingly radical roots of the Renaissance Fair that emerged during McCarthyism and the Red Scare—via Miss Cellania  

whom of which: an interesting and divisive syntactical formation  

imperial airways: Harry Beck’s iconic Underground map for scheduled flight routes—via Things Magazine  

tapped out: a passive approach to desalination that can produce safe and cheap potable water without disrupting the ocean’s natural haline balance—via Kottke  

wassermusik: a tonal analysis of waterfalls  

mr dressup: a documentary about world of make-believe of Ernie Coombs, the Canadian counterpart to Mister Rodgers (previously)  

sleepless in seattle: a scrolling narrative on the invisible epidemic of loneliness and isolation experienced by many Americans—via Waxy


one year ago: ethernet, Business!, assorted links to revisit, more on the Scunthorpe problem plus Putin addresses the nation

two years ago:  a very distasteful sitcom plus revisiting the Colossus of Rรผgen

three years ago: memorialising the shame of Canada’s residential school policy,  International Translation Day, passive voice and reflexive forms, digital world address maps, deconstructing American exceptionalism plus more botanical epithets

four years ago: a farewell to Bauhaus, a remedial lesson on separating one’s trash plus the World Clock of Berlin’s Alexanderplatz (1969)

five years ago: a recipe for mushrooms, BBC Radio 4 (1967), a Chinatown edition of Monopoly plus Leoind and Friends cover Earth, Wind and Fire

Monday 11 September 2023

galvanic response (10. 997)

Via the New Shelton wet/dry, we learn that from 1950 to 1973 the Canadian civil service, to include the Mounties and the armed forces, amid the general moral panic applied to different lifestyles and the notion (reenforced by social pressures to hide one’s identity) that gay men were susceptible to honey-pot operations and recruitment by Marxist espionage utilised a device called the “fruit machine”—a pejorative yet re-appropriated term—to screen out homosexual candidates and eliminate government workers (see also). Test subjects were sat in a dentist’s chair and made to view a series of pictures, ostensibly to rate stressors, but from the pedestrian to the pornographic gauged pupillary (eye dilation) to other involuntary responses as a proxy for erotic thoughts with a deeply flawed set of assumptions that potentially (funding was withdrawn in the late 1960s but the technique was still employed) cost up to nine-thousand individuals their careers.

Sunday 30 July 2023

molson canadian rocks for toronto (10. 916)

The benefit concert—also called SARStock—held on this day in 2003 in order to prove that the city was a safe venue and rehabilitate its reputation and economy following a zoonotic Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak earlier in the year, and attended by an estimated half-a-million ticketed audience members, was the largest show in Canada and one of the largest in North America. Headlined by the Rolling Stones, who announced the concert while the area was still under lockdown from the World Health Organisation, acts included sets from Dan Aykroyd and James Belushi, The Flaming Lips, The Isley Brothers, AC/DC, Rush, The Guess Who and Justin Timberlake.

Wednesday 12 July 2023

international commission on stratigraphy (10. 875)

Putting the hubris and destructive nature of humanity on the same level as the meteor impact that wiped out the dinosaurs—after a fashion—which began the Cenozoic Era some sixty-six million years ago, a working group of scientists have chosen a representative Gold Spike (see previously) as a marker to symbolise the start of the Anthropocene Epoch in the sinkhole Lake Crawford in Ontario. Though overwhelming evidence abounds of humans’ negative impact on the environment from ocean plastics, the supersaturated, warming atmosphere, mass-extinctions, in particular this body of water that ought to be pristine and far removed (see above) shows exponential increases in impurities the early 1950s on, documenting nuclear tests and fertilisers and mining-runoff polluting waterways. Researchers are gauging Plutonium fallout in the silt and sediment (a faithful though frightening annual record) the lakebed as a sign of the start of the epoch and is expected to mark the beginning of a new, dread and disruptive geological time period.


one year ago: Saint Veronica plus assorted links to revisit

two years agoIn the Year 2525

three years ago:  the end of a politically independent judiciary in the US plus a double-duty face mask

four years ago: a creative video for Kate Bush’s Running Up that Hill, protests in Hong Kong plus the pitfalls of self-assessments

five years ago: predictive policingThe Americans and Operation Ghost Stories, generative Tarot cards plus Trump’s plan for stacking judges

Sunday 25 June 2023

c-18 (10. 833)

Via friend of the blog par excellence, Nag on the Lake, we learn that in order to protect beleaguered journalistic outlets—many of whom have been forced to shutter or severely curtail reporting—and local coverage (plus perhaps with the added bonus of slowly the spread of fake news), which Facebook’s and Instagram’s parent company is decrying as an unnecessary link tax (previously), the legislator of Canada has passed the Online News Act, prompting Meta to selectively, incrementally block access to such content on social media rather than entertain compensating small reporting operations for their work. Potentially impacting all headline aggregators, it remains to be seen what percentage of Facebook’s audience would be willing to leave the walled-garden for reputable sources, rather than what’s propagated or suggested to them, ahead of the law coming in to force, Facebook, leaving unchanged its services for Canada otherwise, will run trials cutting journalistic content for an experimental slice of five percent of its users and study the outcome—a rather disturbing and non-informed news blackout given the social media giant’s history of being sandbox unburdened by ethical parameters. Steeled against the pressure campaigns of the internet giants, other jurisdictions are expected to follow Canada’s example.

Tuesday 13 June 2023

you oughta know (10. 803)

Release on this day in 1995, the third studio album by Alanis Morissette—featuring tracks including “All I Really Want,” “You Learn,” “Hand in My Pocket” and “Ironic,” Jagged Little Pill was a worldwide success and it counted among the best selling records of all time and stylistically and tone-wise was a significant departure from her earlier pop and dance work with themes of frustration and anxiety though with moments hope and self-effacement. The inopportune series of lyrics presented below sparked some debate about the usage and abusage of the term, traditionally defined as a figure of speech whose intended meaning is oppose of the context, settled—to some at least—by drawing a distinction between situational and dramatic ironies.

Sunday 28 May 2023

williamsburg, as a site, was the site of the first representative assembly and the second university in the colonies which then became the united states–it has been a particularly appropriate place in which to rededicate ourselves to these principles (10. 772)

Hosted in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia and remarkably the only international meeting chaired by Ronald Reagan during his administration, the ninth annual summit of the Group of Seven—an informal gathering of the richest, industrialised countries—opened on this day in 1983, running through 30 May, and was attended by French president Franรงois Mitterrand, West Germany Chancellor Helmut Kohl—their predecessors having first proposed such a forum in 1975—the Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, the Italian Prime Minister Amintore Fanfani, the Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, the Prime Minister of the UK Margaret Thatcher, plus the president of the European Commission, Luxembourgish statesman Gaston Thorn. Though normally reserved as a venue for resolving and harmonising trade and monetary policy amongst members, Reagan shifted the focus to missile deployment in Europe aimed to encourage the Soviet Union to return to disarmament negotiations in Geneva. Having met with Thatcher for bilateral consultations ahead of the summit, the UK and the US wanted support from the G-7 to affirm NATO’s stance on basing Pershing II rockets in Turkey and West Germany, pressing others for agreement despite the objections of Mitterrand and Trudeau, this concord was considered essential for Reagan’s first encounter with Gorbachev for talks two years later.

Thursday 4 May 2023

7x7 (10. 718)

eyecandy: a collection of dynamic, animated type—via Pasa Bon!  

grand promenade: a survey of old New York’s rooftop theatres  

expo 67: impressions of the central exhibition of Canada’s centennial celebrations—see previously  

may the fourth be with you: a retro, fan-made Star Wars film festival—see more under the tagged posts  

not lovin’ it: McDonald’s franchises in the United States fined for violations of child labour laws—see also 

playfair: data presentations by the eighteenth century creator of the the line, bar and pie charts 

fontself: the midpoint of the annual Thirty Six Days of Type celebration

Tuesday 18 April 2023

7x7 (10. 682)

born to die: on the common fate of beloved social media platforms—they are heart-breakers

the past is a foreign country: they do things differently there: historian Paul Veyne shows that past is not necessarily precedent 

la fรฉe bruin: a tour of nineteenth century opium dens 

bbc100: John Hoare celebrates the broadcasting corporation’s centenary  

joan does dynasty: a stand-up therapist inserts herself into a soap-opera 

athena: Microsoft introduces an AI chip to step ahead of the field in machine-learning  

sixty-nine percent: CBC called by Twitter as government-funded and embraces the label—see previously

Tuesday 28 March 2023

a side of gloss (10. 640)

Though mostly, exclusively North American foodways and the sort of niche subject that elicits strong feelings one way or another (see also), we quite enjoyed perusing the entries for this volume, an ongoing project of abecedaria, of icons and analogues of for better or worse consumable (and usually) highly-processed staples, regional variants and the last holdouts of once expansive franchises. From salad bars, all-you-can-eat buffets, juice-boxes to Frank Sinatra’s heart-shaped pizzas, this index is brimming with morsels to explore. More from Tedium at the link above.

Sunday 26 March 2023

9x9 (10. 635)

concrete sign: Pope Francis returns marble fragments held by the Vatican Museum to the Parthenon

house of thunder: the everlasting lightning storm over Venezuela’s Lake Maracaibo 

queen street: a personal view of the prettiest thoroughfare in Ontario, in Niagara-on-the-Lake plus assorted links to visit 

april showers bring may flowers: the joyful floral illustrations of Iancu Barbฤƒrasฤƒ  

thinking outside of the box: innovations in pizza 

beauty paget: the varied career and roles of Miss Deborah Paget  

the theory of mediatization: press coverage of pseudo-events, like press-conferences and political rallies, has increased significantly while journalistic rigour in actual reporting (see also) has stagnated—via the New Shelton wet/dry  

master class: Finland offering a crash course in happiness, securing the title for six years in a row  

age-appropriate: Florida principal forced to resign after including Michelangelo’s David in middle schooler’s art curriculum without prior parental approval—see also