Sunday 18 February 2024

ั€ะตะฒะพะปัŽั†ั–ั ะณั–ะดะฝะพัั‚ั– (11. 359)

At the end of the Euromaidan protests, a series of demonstrations and civil unrest beginning the previous November in response to the president’s sudden reversal on signing the European Union-Ukraine Association Agreement—instead against the Verkhova Rada choosing to forge closer ties with Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union—and against government corruption and abuse of power, the Revolution of Dignity began on this day in Kyiv in 2014 with violent clashes between authorities and the opposition. Five days of rallying resulted in the ousting of Viktor Yanukovich and the restoration of the amendments to the constitution put in place a decade earlier (won during the Orange Revolution, installing a parliamentary system that put checks on the office of the presidency). Having fled the city for Kharkiv, a majority of the rada voted to remove Yanukovych from office on 22 February and free political prisoners, and in absentia, Yanukovych appealed to Russia for help in this “coup” and reinstall him. Within a few days, Russia deployed peacekeeping troops to Crimea, occupying the peninsula and eventually annexing it and stoking secession in regions in the south and east of the country.

synchronoptica

one year ago: the King Biscuit Flour Hour (1973), assorted links to revisit using the seas to pull carbon from the air

two years ago: more links to enjoy, a collection of dynamic historical maps plus more time-slice photography

three years ago: a tour of North Korea, ditches and retaining walls plus therblig units

four years ago: corporate Christian America, the art collective Inges Idee plus RIP Andrew Weatherall

five years ago: a stellar eclipse, more official state crap, Minnie Pearl, Petri dish lamps plus the Know-Nothing’s first political convention

Thursday 11 January 2024

11x11 (11. 259)

cheesemongering: a specialist seller experiments with fifty-six varieties to find the perfect grilled sandwich 

vector portraits: photographs of drivers at speed traveling in Los Angeles  

decision 2024: this is the biggest year yet—and possibly democracy’s biggest test with over half the world’s population voting within the next twelve months  

run, rabbit, run: an AI-powered gadget designed to use one’s apps for one sells out 

electronics gives us a way of classifying things: Microsoft (now the most valued company in the world thanks to its part in AI, a font of misinformation) once explained to author Terry Pratchett how technology referees would make propaganda a thing of the past  

squaring the circle: Substackers against Nazis—reloaded—and a reminder that one can’t be just a little bit facist  

re-migration: a coalition of the far-right met outside of Berlin in November to discuss mass deportations  

blanket immunity: Trump’s legal team presents arguments for a president above the law—setting up the US Supreme Court to either rule on his exoneration or eligibility  

proxima swarm: US space agency supports bold proposal to reach the next nearest star system with a wall of tiny craft propelled by photons—see previously 

flower taxi: a mobile florist from 1960s London  

marie harel: producers of Camembert in Normandy fear EU recycling regulation could mean the end for their traditional wooden box packaging

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.

Wednesday 29 November 2023

remainds of the day (11. 149)

The three-storey mural by Banksy critical of UK Brexit policies from 2017 executed on an old, condemned property in Dover has been demolished along with the building. Efforts were made to salvage elements like the stars and stencils and a team using LiDAR and photogrammetry technologies was commission to make a three-dimensional scan of the art work earlier in the year—capturing a digital facsimile of the physical wall and paint, but it is unclear whether these attempts at conservation were successful or if the digital reproduction good, with the artist’s consent, be recreated elsewhere.

Monday 10 July 2023

7x7 (10. 871)

terracotta army: new excavations in Shaanxi reveal the site contains more than the familiar infantry unit—see previously  

mizhuvkhamy: a group of Ukrainians documenting the graffiti left by Russian occupiers for future research on the invasion 

jazz kissas: the ambient sounds of Japan’s listening cafรฉs—see also 

i never thought i’d be cheering for zuckerberg: in response to the runaway success of Instagram’s Twitter mode, Elon Musk threatens to sue, resorts to name-calling  

adequacy decision: EU rules that Big Data has sufficient controls in place, with the US to monitor compliance, to allow transfer to US servers  

vilnius: developments to watch during this week’s NATO summit in the Lithuanian capital  

dromolaxia vizatzia: Bronze Age tombs of unknown rulers discovered in Cyprus

Thursday 15 June 2023

9x9 (10. 808)

seo arms race: ploys for attention bifurcate the internet marketplace—one for humans and the other for robots 

please have your boarding pass and identification ready: an appreciation of departure soundtracks of airliners—via Things Magazine 

musical tangents: a genius, deranged mashup compilation—via Waxy 

dynasty x: the world’s first curated, public museum established by Babylonian Princess and High Priestess Ennigaldi-Nanna, rediscovered in 1925, had a collection of artefacts as far removed from its time as Ur was from ours 

literal lexical calques: a new Spanish-English dialect emerges in southern Florida 

nada: car dealer trade group writing state legislation prohibiting factory sales, requiring manufacturers to work with middlemen—more here  

convergent evolution: Nature keeps making crabs and scientists aren’t sure why—via Kottke  

phrygian mode: Ancient Roman popular music  

unfulfilled: Amazon’s predatory cycle is transforming the EU into a planned economy

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.

Saturday 22 April 2023

gin and juice (10. 691)

Last week after the culmination of more than a decade’s development and waiting for the right launch window to achieve the needed gravitational sling-shots to bring the space probe to its destination amongst the orbital pathways of Jupiter’s icy moons, the JUICE mission (see previously here and here) off from French Guiana in search of signs of life. The European Space Agency is celebrating its achievement and start of the exploration with a collection of mocktails inspired by the astro-geological discoveries that the mission might uncover. We especially liked the pictured agency faavourite and some rather beautifully composed concoctions inspired by Ganymede and Callisto—all the recipes (which could be modified to taste) can be found here plus more at the links above.

10x10 (10. 690)

shave and a hair-cut: a collection of personalised nineteenth century barber shop occupation mugs

culture wars, cola wars: of course that anti-woke beer is just a huge pandering grift  

architecture in music: the photography of Charles Brooks makes the interiors of instruments appear like megastructures  

million dollar homepage: tout your website for one second of the day—via Web Curios  

knit grotesk: a sewable font

yes, virginia, there is a santa claus: the adaptation of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret does not disappoint  

intuitive daily stitching: Karen Turner’s knitted visual diary infographics: compelling visualisations that changed public opinion and scientific consensus 

high life: directed by the Comitรฉ, Belgian customs officials crushes a shipment of two-thousand cans of Miller over its “Champagne of Beers” motto 

hairdressers: a BBC videography library on different aspects of the industry

Sunday 12 February 2023

7x7 (10. 543)

epicentre: Tรผrkiye-Syrian earthquake opens a huge fissure over three hundred kilometres long—donate to help with recovery efforts here

down with gravity: legislation in Montana would restrict scientific instruction to “scientific fact”  

monocle: a compact Augmented Reality device that does not wholly remove one from the here and now  

ditchley park: secret bi-partisan talks on the failure of Brexit taking place 

radar anomaly: fighter jets down another unidentified flying object over Canada’s Yukon Province   

child-labour: Iowa state legislature abolishes most working-age restrictions, allowing fourteen-year-olds to do dangerous jobs at exploitative wages  

search and rescue: as the death toll climbs to thirty thousand with little hope of finding more survivors, a happy montage of a few saved from the rubble—more options for donations here

Sunday 5 February 2023

a piece of the rock (10. 525)

Closed since 1969 after the near unanimous results of a referendum not to become a condominium shared with the dictatorship of Francisco Franco (the Gibraltarians much more partial to self-determination than either alternative), the border between Gibraltar and Spain was fully reopened on this day in 1985, effectively ending a decades-long embargo that restricted freight, postal and communication links and ocean-going traffic as well—the concession made as part of Spain’s admission into the European Community.

Monday 5 December 2022

8x8 (10. 362)

under attended: when only two individuals show up to a new author’s reading, much of the establishment commiserates and share words of encouragement—via Super Punch 


giving face
: Poseidon’s Underworld takes a moment to reflect after a month’s sabbatical  

postcards of dead birds: more on strange Victorian Christmas greetings—see previous here and here  

monochrome: an AI tool to colourise black-and-white images—see previously 

government attic: Things Magazine reminds of us this great aggregator of FOIA logs—see previously 

the christmassy chord: a deconstruction of iconic holiday standards 

the tartarian empire: an introduction to a bizarre architectural conspiracy theory—via ibฤซdem  

rsvp: journalist was one of six attendees who showed up for an expensive Metaverse party hosted by the European Union

Saturday 29 October 2022

level 42 (10. 255)

Was really pulling for my Team Europe to pull into the lead—albeit this is a strangely weighted scale given that we’ve resided in three different Bundeslรคnder, had extended stays in different regions within several of these countries and have been there on vacation multiple times (plus discounting the other two dozen nations in North America), but nonetheless—courtesy of Maps Mania, we enjoyed tallying places we’ve lived, made holidays or just transited through. There are expanded, more cosmopolitan versions to be found at the link up top. Do let us know your score.

Thursday 13 October 2022

§§ (10. 219)

The oldest formal data protection law in the world, the State of Hessen promulgated its Data Protection Act (das Datenschutzgesetz) on this day in 1970. A model for privacy legislation to follow, it was authored chiefly by Spiros Simitis, inspired by a visionary article in the Frankfurter Allegemeinen Zeitung (FAZ) warning of the potential pitfalls of widespread computer use and when the law was adopted by the Landtag to great zeal, it was declared that omniscient, panopticon of survellience would not be able to gain purchase here, setting up an independent institution to monitor against Orwellian practises. Though lacking a robust regulatory framework by today’s standards, evolution and articulation of the law enshrined for us in iterations the concepts of retention and disposition schedules, data earmarking and anonymization as well as informed consent and the right of information self-determination.

Wednesday 12 October 2022

eurobruggen (10. 217)

Via Pasa Bon! we learn that one Dutch town called Spijkenisse, part of Rotterdam, has managed to claim all the anonymous, composite bridges on Euro banknotes for the Netherlands by building the spans over one waterway in the residential area Het Land from 2011 to 2013.  The community was also in the headlines more recently at the beginning of November 2020 when a metro car that jumped the track was saved by a whale tail sculpture after pummetting ten meters. 

Tuesday 12 July 2022

7x7

smacs 0723: astronomers unveil the first colour pictures from the James Webb Space Telescope—see more, see previously  

power plant: an interactive map of energy and industry from the European Commission  

ecovado: a sustainable, locally-sourced alternative to the imported avocado  

empire rollerdome: New York street photographer Patrick D Pagnano captures 1980s roller disco—via Messy Nessy Chic 

 €/$: euro, US dollar at parity  

maps mastery: a profile of expert-level GeoGuessr players—via Waxy  

zero-g: researchers at Kyoto University design artificial gravity architecture

Thursday 23 June 2022

scheduled territories

Also known as the above legal entity the sterling area came into being in 1931 when the pound was unpegged from the gold standard and a number of countries, mostly Commonwealth nations, either employed the £ or had a fixed rate of exchange with it, effectively came to an end on this day in 1972 when the British government unilaterally applied exchange controls to all its participants—with the exception of the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands—with the departure of forty-five members from the economic bloc in protest of UK monetary policies. Once the most robust and coherent currency areas, the realisation trade with the continent was more important that historical preferential trading with former parts of the empire prompted the UK to seek closer ties with the European Communities—the Common Market—and devalued, floated the pound ostensibly to halt outflow and flight to the US dollar but many saw it at the time as a concession to France’s objection to UK membership in the organisation that would go on to become the European Union, which repealed its veto the following year. Coincidentally, this day also marks the 2016 anniversary of the Brexit referendum.

Wednesday 1 June 2022

the stresa convention

Hosted in the above Italian city on the shores of Lago di Maggiore on this day 1951, the International Treaty on the Use of Appellations of Origin and Denomination of Cheeses (see also) was adopted by the members of the European Community (EC) and went into force two years later—providing a framework for protection of goods manufactured and matured in regions by dent of local, loyal and uninterrupted traditions—plus relief from imitators. The first annex lists Gorgonzola, Parmigiana Romano, Pecorino and Roquefort. The second annex includes Asiago, Camembert, Cambozola, Danablu, Edam, Emmental, Esrom, Gouda, Gruyรฉre and Samsรถe.

Sunday 22 May 2022

hail to the bus driver

Our gratitude to Super Punch for not just informing us of the annual European Tramdriver Championships held in host city Leipzig (see previously, which we just missed this time around but there’s always next year) but also is a very serious competition with teams and fans of mass-transit from all over the continent coming together. Check out the links above for more on this extreme motor-sport for everyone, whose trials include best breaking-speed and accuracy, obstacle courses and various other traffic, shared-lane gauntlets.

Sunday 24 April 2022

the snake in the tunnel

Following a referendum in France the day before that admitted the UK, Ireland and Denmark into the Common Market, on this day in 1972 at a summit in Basel the members of the European Economic Community agreed to install an exchange system to limit fluctuations in rates in order that the basket of European currencies would be consistent with the US dollar. With the titular nickname (Schlange im Tunnel, le Serpent monรฉtaire europรฉen), the arrangement was the first attempt to peg the Mark, the Franc and the Pound Sterling to one another that ultimately led to the creation of the euro and was precipitated by the Nixon Shock of the previous year with the repeal of the Bretton Woods system. This coordination, cartel was a method to control appreciation and depreciation and retain relative stability until the following year when the dollar began to float freely and member nations diverged in their response.