Wednesday 27 March 2024

i want to run, i want to hide (11. 454)

Shot atop a liquor store in downtown Los Angeles in reference to the Beatles’ final concert on this day in 1987, eventually attracting crowd control although police interference was somewhat exaggerated with safety protocols built in and not exactly impromptu and filming extensions granted, U2’s opening track on The Joshua Tree album, released later in August, was composed in response to the suggestion it was possible to assign demographics to an individual based on their address, particularly for residents of Belfast. Producer Brian Eno reconsidered his initial decision to erase the recordings due to difficulties in studio and the song went on to critical and commercial acclaim. The theatrical sign for The Million Dollar Hotel, a film conceived by Bono around the same time about transients in the city with widely differing backgrounds and circumstances, though not released until 2000, was rebuilt to attract attention ahead of the performance in case no one showed.

Sunday 24 March 2024

11x11 (11. 448)

inauspicious beginnings: a rift opens up in a group of official astrologers employed by the Sri Lankan government to pick ideal dates for new years rituals  

disco arabesquo: record label Habibi Funk aims to introduce Middle Eastern vintage music to wider audiences 

typecraft: a transformative font foundry in India 

the allegory of the cave: on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the film’s premiere, we may be still trapped in the Matrix 

banjaxed and bockety: two curious Irish terms 

der buch der hasengeschichten: Tom Seidmann-Freud’s 1924 collection of hare fables 

working for tips: bizarrely robot baristas will accept gratuities, in a service sector landscape already fraught with insecurity and precarity—via tmn  

the juice is on the loose: a sequel thirty-six years in the making, reuniting the original cast—via Miss Cellania  

international system of typographic picture education: an archive of the pictograms of Gerd Arntz—see previously  

pocket full of kryptonite: the preponderance of alternative rock songs about Superman in the 1990s, 2000s 

prosopometamorphopsia: a new study on generalised social anxiety disorder tries to see from the perspective of those with a rare condition that causes faces to appear distorted, demonic—via the New Shelton wet/dry

Saturday 16 March 2024

featherstonehaugh (11. 427)

Thanks to raft of gossip and speculation from 2019 revived in part due the obsession over the whereabouts of the Princess of Wales, we’ve been educated that the Marchioness of Cholmondeley of interest holds the peerage style of the Most Honourable Lady CHUM-lee, and so we appreciated these further lessons in pronunciation of historic British and Irish titles and surnames (respecting the fact that one’s name is pronounced how they tell you to pronounce it and subject to variation). There are some really non-intuitive examples like the title—usually said like Fernshaw—and while we would have liked more detailed explanations like with family name Menzies with its archaic letter ศ (yogh), it was nonetheless interesting to contemplate how those estranging shifts might have occurred, like with Geoghegan (GAY-gษ™n) or Wriothesley as RIZZ-lee.

Monday 12 February 2024

itinerarium angliรฆ (11. 346)

Reminiscent of this strip map showing all the cursus publicus of the Roman Empire, Futility Closet directs our attention to this seventeenth century road atlas project presented to Charles II mapping the main routes of England and Wales from cartographer John Ogilby. A choreographer and dance master before suffering a debilitating accident, turning to translation, producing authoritative versions of Aesops Fables as well as Virgil and Homer (derided by some academic contemporaries but since rehabilitated for their scholarship), re-establishing the tradition of the theatre following the Restoration, in which he played a major role as master of ceremonies and speech writer, before turning to publishing, Ogilby the impresario was adept at reinvention. Spanning the three nations in one hundred illustrated plates, a two-volume pocket version of Britannia was printed in 1757 after several editions for the library shelf. Though considered the imprint for uniformity of scale and the standard adopted by later mapmakers and surveyors, it notably omitted the way to Liverpool. Taken up by later printing concerns, Britannia Depicta; or Ogilby improv’d was produced well into the the Victoria Era.


one year ago: assorted links to revisit, the involuted generation plus every TARDIS interior

two years ago: Germany’s Institute for Population Research, The Dance of Death (1912), calibrating the JWST, more links to enjoy plus Amen Corner

three years ago: bad bird namesRhapsody in Blue (1924) plus prints of today’s catch

four years ago: disinformation wars, photos of Soviet Moldova plus the people’s choice award for Wildlife Photography

five years ago: dying news outlets plus SVG street maps

Tuesday 6 February 2024

saint mรฉl (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 Mรฉl’s home parish and Druimheo, further east where Lupait relocated, they separated. Invoked by those falsely accused of incest, the feast of Saint Mรฉl, 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

you take the high road and i’ll take the low road (11. 298)

Airing on this day for the first time in 1990, episode twelve of season three of Star Trek: The Next Generation, “The High Ground,” was banned in some markets due to political sensitivities and only released later as an edited version to remove the reference from 2366. Dispatched on a humanitarian mission to deliver medical supplies to a non-aligned planet called Rutia IV, a valued trade-partner with the Federation, the Enterprise becomes entangled in a protracted internal conflict when Dr Crusher is taken hostage by separatist rebels while trying to render aid following a terrorist attack. Wanting to avoid further involvement but unable to extricate themselves from the escalating situations and demands from both the central government and the resistance for help, Captain Picard asks Lieutenant Commander Data for historical instances where terrorism prevailed over negotiated settlement to resolve conflicts, to which he cited the independence of Mรฉxico from Spain and the uniting of Ireland in 2024. In the 1990s the partitioned island was still very much in the midst of the violence of the Troubles and both syndicators the BBC and RTร‰ until 2007 (conceding to the demands of series completists), some fifteen years after its first run and eight years after the Good Friday Agreement, which mostly delivered peaceful resolution to the longstanding ethno-nationalist conflict.  No censorship as far as I can tell was ever imposed on the infamously stereotyped second season episode with the “Space Irish,” “Up the Long Ladder,” about encountering a group of cloned individuals aboard a freighter thought lost for hundreds of years, despite the show’s title being a reference to an anti-Protestant rhyme “...Down the short rope.  To Hell with King Billy and three cheers for the Pope.”

Friday 1 December 2023

9x9 (11. 156)

the saw lady: the virtuosity of Natalia Paruz  

tribalism: the worsening internet is an uncomfortable fun-house reflection of our inchoate proclivities  

holiday train show: a miniature NYC constructed from twigs and leaves at the city’s Botanical Garden  

bouzingos: the overlooked precursor to the Bohemian subculture  

microsleep: penguins take ten thousand seconds’ long naps per day to be rested but alert in noisy, hunted colonies

state-sanctioned socialist realism: the artistic duo of Komar and Melamid who turned subversive 

fairytale of new york: celebrating the life and talent of legendary Pogues’ singer Shane MacGowan—see previously, see also  

all about winning: Japan’s buzzword of the year continues a baseball-related streak 

busking: mapping live music public venues

Tuesday 28 November 2023

9x9 (11. 146)

the big easy: Bonapartist diaspora had designs for Napoleon to retire in New Orleans—via Messy Nessy Chicsee also courtesy of Super Punch  

holiday emporium: Kottke’s annual gift guide returns after a hiatus  

triple word score: players and lexicographers are a bit mortified with Scrabble’s new tournament rules  

colophon: the rise and fall of Borders Books 

moonlight towers: during the infancy of electric lighting, there was a predecessor to serial lamps  

pump and dump: insurance companies are exacerbating the climate crisis 

fiat: during the bank strikes of Ireland in the 1970s, pubs stepped in to fill their function—via the new shelton wet/dry  

ai garage sale: haggle with robots for real items—via Waxy  

pas de goulots d’รฉtranglement dans la production: a strange 1940 diagram from linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf presenting French as a factory assembly line

Saturday 25 November 2023

you ain’t got to feel guilt just selfless—give a little help to the helpless (11. 139)

Recorded on this day in 1984 at a studio in Notting Hill, the charity album written by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia, the title single by the Band Aid supergroup, comprised of artists including Phil Collins, George Michael, Boy George and members of Spandau Ballet, U2, Kool & the Gang, Bananarama, Duran Duran and the Police (with messages from David Bowie and Paul McCartney on the B-side), released on 3 December became the fasting-selling single in chart history—until surpassed by Elton John’s tribute song “Candle in the Wind 1997.” Far outstripping expectations, it raised over eight million pounds within the first year and the model led to a series of reprisals and other fund-raising ventures, like the Live Aid concerts and the “We Are the World” recordings. Whilst consistently ranked among most favoured Christmas songs, the song contains tropes of colonialism, evangelising and a simplistic view of Africa (Bono had to be begged to sing the line “Well—tonight thank God it’s them instead of you”), Geldof later laments being responsible “for the two worst songs in history”—the other being the above US-based “We Are the World,” but it wasn’t about the music but rather the spirit of the season.

Sunday 27 August 2023

best in show (10. 967)

During a grouse hunting party four years earlier, the managing director of the brewery Sir Hugh Beaver became involved with a shooting companion over the identity of the fastest game bird in the region—owing to his having missed his quarry ostensibly—and realising that there was no easy way of settling this debate without recourse to experts saw an immediate niche in the reference book market. Beaver employed a London fact-finding agency run by brothers Norris and Ross McWhirter (both boasting encyclopaedic memories) compiled The Guinness Book of Superlatives and gave away a thousand copies to associates and to bars licensed to serve the beer. Due to its surprise popularity, a two-hundred page edition was bound the following year, released on this day in 1955 and became best-seller in the UK immediately, prompting a second edition before Christmas and entered the international market. Beginning in the early 1970s, the annual began to include record feats of strength and stamina by human individuals as well as facts about the natural world and is considered one of the best-selling books of all time.


one year ago: happy birthday George Jetson, St Monica of Hippo, experiments with OpenAI plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: the eruption of Kraktoa (1883), a clever, interactive CV and help wanted ad plus the origin of the word antidote

three years ago: the Zugspitze surveyed and summitted (1820), home shopping with Harrod’s, an abundance of caution, the Hatch Act (1939) plus a seventeenth century friends book

five years ago: pulp covers reimagined by Todd Alcott plus the Kellogg-Briand Pact against future wars (1928) 

six years ago: a pocket Wikipedia

Wednesday 26 July 2023

nothing compares 2 u (10. 908)

The artist known professionally as Sinรฉad O’Connor, Shuhada' Sadaqat (having converted to Islam in 2018 after her ordination and career as a priest in the Latin Tridentine Church from 1999) unexpected passed away, aged 56. Unflinchingly brave and bold in her advocacy for human rights and vocal critic of organised religion, racism, she spoke openly about her spiritual journey and socio-political point of view including her own traumas. And while the incident in 1992 during an appearance on Saturday Night Live might be for some indelible and inexcusable (revealing later that the photograph of Pope John Paul II was removed from her mother’s bedroom wall on the date of her mother’s untimely, accidental death and waited for the right moment to destroy it to avenge the abuse sustained from her family and the Church, a statement and warning vindicated years later), that never diminished her talent and always remained a household name and icon for social justice—admitting she never wanted to be a pop star and rather “I wanted to be a protest singer.”

Friday 2 June 2023

hinter den kulissen (10. 782)

H doesn’t recall watching but we rented Stanley Kubrick’s sumptuous 1975 period drama Barry Lyndon (based on the William Makepeace Thackeray novel about the gentleman gambler and social-climber) several years ago. 

Set in Ireland, England and Prussia in the 1750s during the Seven Years’ War, the title rogue travels across Europe calling in debts through various scams, scenes and establishing shots were filmed in Dublin, County Wicklow, Schloss Ludwigsburg outside of Stuttgart, Sanssouci in Potsdam and as we just learned, in between these two locations at around the fifty-three minute timestamp, Lyndon’s regiment on the march, in our very own little village on the Bavarian-Thรผringen border, uncredited but confirmed by Redditors

Not much has changed (the roads are paved now however) and we’ll need to do a re-watch soon.

Thursday 13 April 2023

9x9 (10. 671)

mod squad: celebrating the long life and career of Dame Mary Quant, Swinging Sixties fashion icon  

the cure at troy: a poetic reflection on the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement  

31 at jennie richee: outsider artist Henry Darger 

thug shaker central: self-promoting US Air National Guardsman identified as suspected source of Pentagon leaks 

liberica: the studier coffee bean that could save the industry 

ncc-1701: a meticulous ranging of all the Enterprises 

news at 11: an epic 19 80s bumper

rupublicans: images of GOP politicians in drag—see also  

hyperbole: more on the Googie style with this iconic Southern California motel

Friday 17 March 2023

tory scum (10. 616)

Via friend of the blog par excellence Nag on the Lake, we introduced to a new anthem by the Drop Kick Murphys, following a decades old tradition of reinventing unfinished works from the extensive archives of Woody Guthrie (previously) and plying the standards (with precious little alteration to the present) like with the sea shanty “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” and their 2022 album This Machine Still Kills Fascists, has reworked the union song “All You Fonies” to herald a conservative defeat in the United Kingdom after a string of mostly unelected prime ministers and austere government measures that has gutted social safety nets as “All You Tories.”

Sunday 8 January 2023

breaking bread (10. 399)

Published in 1903 with the express purpose of linking bakery and laboratory and advocate for the miller the downstream supply-chain, Owen Simmons, FCS (Fellow of the Chemical Society) ensures that the science that goes into loaves and biscuits is not taken for granted with the rather costly tribute in the form of one of the first photobooks—a deluxe edition that spared no expense in detailing and documenting the fusion of techniques, with exacting instructions, to make the perfect slice. More from Public Domain Review at the link above.

Tuesday 6 December 2022

saorstรกt รฉireann (10. 363)

Established on this day in 1922 as a dominion of the British Empire (equivalent to the status of Canada) one year to the day after the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty that ended the war for independence, the Irish Free State comprised twenty-six counties, with the remaining six choosing to opt out of the framework—forming the constituency of Northern Ireland. Described by statesman and revolutionary Michael Collins as affording the “freedom to achieve freedom” with the possibility of an wholly independent republic not entertained within the terms of settlement, Ireland was still accorded more liberties and self-determination in legislation than it had had for the past four centuries. The Free State came to an end in 1937 with a constitutional referendum that drafted a wholly new fundamental law that informs and asserts its present sovereignty as Ireland (ร‰ire) and since 1949 officially as the Republic of Ireland.

Tuesday 16 August 2022

transatlantic (10. 066)

After a benedictory message from the directors of the Atlantic Telegraph Company in Great Britain to their US counterparts, “Europe and America are united by telegraph. Glory to God in the highest; on Earth peace, good will towards men,” Queen Victoria and president James Buchanan—from his summer residence in Bedford Springs, Pennsylvania—exchanged congratulatory greetings on this day in 1858, with the former observing that the submarine cable would “provide an additional link between the nations whose friendship is founded on their common interest and reciprocal esteem” to the latter’s more effluvious response “It is a triumph more glorious, because far more useful to mankind, than was ever won by conqueror on the field of battle. May the Atlantic telegraph, under the blessing of Heaven, prove to be a bond of perpetual peace and friendship between the kindred nations, and an instrument destined by Divine Providence to diffuse religion, civilization, liberty, and law throughout the world.” These inaugural overseas telegrams were quite laborious to encode and decode (see also), with the queen’s shorter missive taking sixteen hours to transmit and reception was quite poor but there was no dissuading the public’s enthusiasm—commercially, however, investors balked at the outcome considering the expense of the expedition to lay the cable and when the original linkage broke three weeks later—probably an inevitability due to faulty materials and manufacturing—confidence was sunk and delayed efforts to replace it. The termina (see previously), the most easterly and westerly points on land, were in Sunnyside, Bull Arms Bay, on the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland and Telegraph Field on Valentia Island, County Kerry.

Sunday 14 August 2022

9x9 (10. 059)

i’m sorry but this is quite clearly a haunted murder panda and/or the protagonist of moshfegh’s next novel. do not buy: an assortment of random oddities that one preeminent author is selling her online emporium—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links (check it out!)  

quasi-modal: apparently “thy shall be done” is a thing now  

eye of the beholder: an AI visits a contemporary art museum 

printers’ auxiliaries: a beautiful 1940 book of typefaces from the Gujarati foundry  

if marisol and nilofer are the only non-white women at the staff meeting, how frequently will each be called by the other’s name: word problems for female professionals that aren’t so non-sequitur  

pulp power: the mainstay illustrative style of 1930s and 40s serial fiction  

heat dumping: searching for the etymology of the adaptive behaviour of splooting—which is referred to in England as squirrel “pancaking” 

world englishes: the OED on Irish’s contribution to language—see previously  

a lamb himself: an excerpt from Ottessa Moshfegh’s novel Lapvona

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.

Thursday 16 June 2022

yes i said yes i will yes

On this annual commemoration and celebration of Irish author James Joyce by reliving the events that took place in the novel set in Dublin on this day in 1904 as related in his 1922 novel Ulysses, friend of the blog Nag on the Lake directs our attention to the fiftieth anniversary celebration of Bloomsday reenacted by local writers, academics and a dentist cousin of Joyce, whose pilgrimage stalls at Eccles Street—where Leopold Bloom resided after too much libation. Ulysses is a stream-of-consciousness accounting of the author’s alter-ego (the Odyssey writ-small) concluding (had the re-enactors got that far) with the first sex-positive romantic assignation from the title between the character and his wife to be, Molly Bloom (a.k.a, Nora Barnacle), whom never cared for this book.