Friday 14 June 2024

juunikรผรผditamine (11. 629)

Commemorated on this day by the Baltic countries as a memorial to mass deportations of tens of thousands of individuals in 1941 from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia and the western territories of modern-day Moldova, Romania, Ukraine and Belarus, the eviction orders were executed covertly by the USSR Interior People’s Commissariat with the aim of removing “socially foreign elements” and resettling them in the interior of the Soviet Union. Occupied and annexed a year earlier following the Molotov-Ribbetrop Pact which defined Nazi Germany’s and Soviet Red Army’s spheres of influence, targeted nationalities were displaced under pro-Soviet puppet-governments and the colonisation proceeded. The relocation occurring just before the Nazi incursion into Soviet territory, deportees were characterised as counter-revolutionaries but not collaborators and their removal, rather than strengthening their newly expanded front buffered with ethic Russian in-migration, was seen to remove dissidents and create cheap labour in interior gulags. A programme of limited repatriation was begun under Khrushchev as part of De-Stanlinisation reforms but an estimated sixty percent or more had perished during exile and none deemed nationalists or non-white were allowed to return with those who were facing discrimination by the newly aligned majority.

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

Sunday 18 June 2023

8x8 (10, 816)

picassa: Google is sunsetting Album Archive—which could possibly affect Blogger blogs—but no one seems to know for sure—see more  

eames institute of infinite curiosity: exhibit honours design duo’s (previously) relationship with Saul Steinberg  

select the photos of clouds that would make me stand out on the lawn and watch for storms—and we definitely need a good storm soon: reCAPTCHAs as written by your father

cronuts: a protest poster with some cannibalistic syncretism and linguistic confusion  

boo berry: a look at the history of America monster breakfast cereals—see previously

eesti nukud: a 1982 stop-motion animation about a baker and a chimneysweep switching roles—with some banging flute rock  

maximalism: a tour of Barbie’s Dream Home—more on the aesthetic here  

bad karma: Reddit communities going dark in protest and forced to reopen—in the funniest possible ways

Sunday 6 November 2022

king gustavus adolphus day (10. 278)

Celebrated annually on this day in Sweden (Gustav Adolfsdagen), Finland (Kustaa Aadolfin pรคivรค) and Estonia (Adolfi pรคev), becoming popular first in the nineteenth century some two centuries after the king’s death on the battlefield in Lรผtzen on this day in 1632 (OS 16 November—see previously). Whereas formerly observed with patriotic parades, contemporary traditions primarily consist of pastry-consumption, centred in Gรถteborg (a city founded by his person, styled Gustav II. Adolph) which has sold this confection known locally as Gustav Adolfskaelse since the 1850s and hosts a yearly competition to honour the best version without the royal, bas-relief portrait.

Tuesday 23 August 2022

black ribbon day (10.081)

Officially the European Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Stalinism and Nazism and broadly for all who suffered under authoritarian regimes, this day was chosen for its observance as the anniversary of the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939, a treaty of non-aggression between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, which contained a secret protocol that partitioned Europe into spheres of influence. To counter historic revisionism and Russia’s categorical denial of the deal which held until 1941 as well as grave crimes, twenty one Western cities, organised chiefly by Central and Eastern European refugees living in Canada, staged the first memorial in 1986, spreading to the Baltics three years later with the Cold War-era protests eventually leading to revolution. In 2019, the European Parliament adopted the resolution to enshrine (reaffirming the formal designation of 2008) the annual observance to broadly condemn the propaganda and disinformation that would deny or glorify totalitarianism and undermines liberal democracies.

Saturday 16 July 2022


Officially adopted as the national flag on this day in 1922 after the country declared its independence in 1918 in the short interlude between the retreat of the Bolsheviks and German occupation just before the end of World War I, the tricolour of Estonia was banned in August of 1940 with its annexation by the Soviet Union, though used continuously by the government-in-exile based in Stockholm and Estonian diaspora groups continuously from 1940 to 1991. The three equal bands of blue black and white (as referenced in the title) represent the landscape of the Baltic nation and was readopted in August of 1990 with the restoration of the republic.

Thursday 26 May 2022


nebeskรฝ most 721: a walkway spanning two peaks in in eastern Bohemia 

shunpikes: byways constructed to bypass toll roads, like spite houses

‘no way to prevent this,’ says only nation where this regularly happens: America’s gun culture enshrined by an eighteenth century constitution illustrated in seven charts—via Miss Cellania 

i guess i have to put your flat feet on the ground: astronaut Sally Ride (*1951)  

imagen: Google tool turns input text to images—see previously  

security detail: firearms off-limits during Trump’s speech to the National Rifle Association Leadership Forum—via Boing Boing  

fahrenheit 451: Margaret Atwood’s fire-resistant edition of The Handmaid’s Talesee previously 

liminal places: a portrait of the Estonian border town of Narva on the frontier of the EU and NATO and the Russian Federation

Wednesday 27 April 2022


After talks of relocation triggered controversy and violent rioting referred to as Bronze Night (Pronksiรถรถ), municipal authorities in Tallinn dismantled and moved a Soviet-era war memorial called the Bronze Soldier built at the site of war graves on this day in 2007. Originally dedicated to the “Liberators of Estonia” it was renamed as the “Monument to the Fallen,” and while seen as a symbol of Soviet occupation and suppression after World War II by many, Russian populations, intensely protesting the decision and crippling the country with cyber-attacks, viewed the statue, prominently in the city centre, as not only representative of victory over the Nazis in the Great Patriotic War but also legimitising their claim to Estonia—set to re-establish their independence after Germany’s retreat. The statue and remains of the dead were placed, re-interred in the national military cemetery outside of Tallinn. One direct outcome of the riots and targeting of Estonian essential infrastructure was the creation of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, located in the capital.

Sunday 24 April 2022


Founded and headquartered in the The Hague in 1991, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation was constituted to champion the marginalised with membership made of indigenous peoples, minorities and unrecognised or otherwise occupied territories with an aim of achieving political autonomy and self-determination with the rejection of violence and terrorism as tools of policy. Current localities and groups on its rolls (not without controversy and in-group dispute) are Abkhazia, Bretagne, Catalonia, the District of Colombia, Guam, the Hmong, Savoy, Sindhudesh and Tibet. Former members Palau, East Timor, Estonia, Latvia, Georgia and Armenia have attained full statehood and independence.

Tuesday 29 March 2022

vilnius group

Constituted in May 2000, member countries Slovenia, Slovakia (having already undergone its Velvet Divorce in 1993, the date falls on the anniversary of the 1990 compromise that ended the so called Hyphen War, Pomlฤkovรก vojna, started in 1989 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union on what to call themselves and how to share a territory with two identities) Romania, North Macedonia, Lithuania (its capital the namesake), Latvia, Estonia, Croatia, Bulgaria and Albania to lobby as a group for NATO inclusion, all aspirants acceded to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation on this day in 2004 with the exception of Albania, Croatia and North Macedonia (under the Adriatic Charter) joining in 2009 and 2020. The former association closely maps with the composition of the Visegrรกd Group, another former pooled campaign for European Union membership and presently a regional economic cooperative.

Sunday 27 February 2022

freden i stolbova

Concluding the Ingrian War that began nearly seven years earlier on this day in 1617, the Treaty of Stolbovo was negotiated and agreed upon between Czar Michael I of the Russian Empire and the Swedish military leader Jakob De La Gardie. Establishing the Empire of Sweden’s influence in the Baltic, the leaders met on the shores of Lake Ladoga outside Saint Petersburg, King Gustavus Adolphus—still chuffed with their victory in Novgorod and in the push for unity under the Peace of Kalmar—eventually relented during the two months of talks for their demands to make all Russian trade with Western Europe pass through Swedish-controlled territory, demands reaching far north as the port of Arkhangelsk in part due to the intervention of a team of Dutch and English mediators who didn’t want to see a Swedish monopoly on commerce and to install as Swedish duke as czar, but final terms did include Russian terroritorial concessions in Ingria and Karelia plus indemnities, and in exchange for renouncing claims to Estonia and Livonia, effective locked out of the Baltic Sea, Sweden returned Novgorod to Russia. Michael of the House Romanov was recognised by all parties as the rightful ruler and tariffs were normalised so as not to further cripple the Empire’s economy.

Saturday 28 August 2021


letraset press: a collection of instant lettering dry-transfer sheets (see previously) from Coudal Partners’ Fresh Signals 

the woman who stared at the sun: the circumstance and contributions to astronomy of Hisako Koyama who helped hone our understanding of solar cycles 

a good walk spoiled: an in-depth look at how golf course exacerbate the housing shortage  

couch gag: a clever individual shares their construction of a miniature replica of the Simpsons’ purple television set that plays random episodes 

one week supply: a podcast discussing Damn Interesting’s curated links section 

the china syndrome: a super-tunnel simulator that illustrates the quickest, shortest routes to connecting points around the globe—see also  

tartu snail tower: the spiralling skyscraper in Estonia’s second city  

the art of letters: a typographical study from Mark Gowing

Saturday 21 August 2021

dziesmotฤ revolลซcija

Beginning in 1987 after the introduction of the policies of glasnost and perestroika that rolled back certain limitations on political expression heretofore imposed on Soviet constituent member states outside of the core of Russia, the Baltic satellites staged a peaceful Singing Revolution that culminated for Latvia on this day in 1991 declaring its independence in the midst of an attempted coup to unseat Mikhail Gorbachev from his leadership position. One of the more popular songs of the freedom movement was the trilingual (also with verses in Estonian and Lithuanian) The Baltics are Waking Up!, composed by Boriss Rezniks for a protest two years prior commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, which defined German and Soviet spheres of influence in the region, with defiant ralliers’ joining hands and forming a human chain stretching across the three countries.

Saturday 31 October 2020

nos sumus una familia

Declaring its independence on this day in 1977, residents of a triangle of streets in Notting Dale, West London formed the Free Independent Republic of Frestonia, inspired by Freetown Christiania in Copenhagen and the comedy Passport to Pimlico—putting the matter to a referendum with an overwhelming majority in favour of secession and many of those further advocating joining the European Economic Community.
Learning that the city council had designs on redeveloping the neighbourhood, the community of artists and squatters originally tried as a whole adopting the same surname (we are all one family, like the motto above)—Bramley, one of the roads forming the border of the micronation (see previously), so the city would be compelled to re-house them collectively, though that ploy failed. Lasting until 1982, the fully-functional state dissolved once an acceptable deal was reached with the developers—though not to everyone’s satisfaction. Architecturally, the art gallery The People’s Hall is all that remains from the days of independence—which also served as recording, rehearsal studios for The Clash and Motรถrhead. More to explore from Weird Universe at the link above.

Thursday 20 August 2020

avgustovskiy putch

Opposed to the decentralisation and reform efforts of the Soviet president and General Secretary of the Communist Party, Communist hardliner elements in the government attempted a coup d'รฉtat beginning on this day at noon in 1991 to remove Mikhail Gorbachev (see previously) with the Moscow military district commander declaring martial law in effect and signaling an imminent siege on the parliamentary compound (ะ‘ะตะปั‹ะน ะดะพะผ—that is, the White House). Allies of the Gorbachev government barricaded the building and rebuffed the attack, codenamed Operation Grom—that is, thunder. Whilst these events unfolded—a power vacuum that lasted sixty hours, Estonia declared its independence with the other Baltic states following soon after.

Monday 21 May 2018

leave the driving to us

Informed via Slashdot that Estonia from 1 July on will make its public mass-transit services essentially fare-free throughout the country—following similar though not encompassing schemes in Paris and Wales—I was relieved to learn that others, even politicians and city-planners, also realise that the future of driver-less, chauffeured transportation has always been with us, even if collective solutions are not as sleek and smug as reinventing the wheel.
Tallinn too has been addressing last-mile conundrums with automated mini-buses to supplement its network as well. Implementation is surprisingly inexpensive, even factoring in on the lost revenue (which might for a time be recouped from tourists), whose blow is dulled by the fact that one can eliminate the administrative cost of managing ticket sales and inspections—not to mention reduced air-pollution, less congestion and increased mobility and self-determination for an ageing rural population.

Tuesday 19 December 2017


volley: ping pong champion lobs back balls with a variety of items, producing different noises

scorched earth campaign: perhaps the Silicon Valley mind-set is the bigger threat to civilisation than machine super intelligence, via Waxy

locavore: shipping container farming approaches cost parity with traditional methods

eec: not heeding warnings from central bankers, Estonia is launching a crypto-currency, hoping to further solidify its reputation as a digital nation

that’s no moon: mesmerising time-lapse showing the stages of construction for a Death Star

Tuesday 12 April 2016

allthing or all that’s fit to print

Boing Boing’s Iceland correspondent reports on a wonderful and antithetical response to the scourge of off-shoring and out-sourcing (and indeed even proxy-wars) in the plan, having already secured parliamentary endorsement, to make the country a designated safe haven for the freedoms of expression and information.

Advocates, who hope to create a Switzerland of bits, hope that this stance will compel other governments to be more transparent and forth-coming about legislation and its enforcement. Cobbling together some of the best whistle-blower protection and anti-censorship laws from different jurisdictions—for instance, the attorney-client privilege that any conversation with a journalist enjoys in Belgium or the public registry of all government documents (even classified ones) in Estonia, is creating a forum where witness to corruption can come forward without fear of reprisal. As if meaningful reform and mindful democracy weren’t occasion enough, perhaps this new media landscape might be able to attract internet start-ups to recover some of the jobs-prospects lost to Iceland’s former dignities where laws are not biased towards copy-holders and a select few with political heft—besides, surely the land of fire and ice is probably an ideal place to operate with a smart labour pool and totally green geothermal energy to power it all.

Tuesday 22 September 2015

5x5: acoustic edition

nature sounds: meditative woodland megaphones in Estonia

milk-drop: the gorgeous music visualisation scheme called Panoramical

white-noise: addressing the Fermi Paradox, Edward Snowden suggests that highly encrypted communication becomes indis- tinguishable from cosmic background radiation

two-man band: the fabulous myriophone that mimics the effects of a full string orchestra section, via the resplendent Nag on the Lake

transduction: in addition to perceiving sounds, one’s ears also produce them

Thursday 12 March 2015


franchise: plans are in the works to release more variations on the theme of Ghostbusters

harilik tamm: the Orissaare Oak in Estonia named European Tree of the Year

wolf-pack: more mezmerising psychedelic animated animal GIFs from TJ Fuller

big easy: check out the design proposals for New Orleans’ Tricentennial Tower

nonce: just because a vigourous campaign has pushed a portmanteau from the internet to the dictionary, does that make it part of the lexicon?