Wednesday 12 June 2024

dis-disgruntled (11. 623)

Via Slashdot we learn that the investment holding company Softbank, after a three year study into the feasibility of “emotion cancelling” technology, it has introduced a trial of AI-powered voice-conversion routines into its call-centre operations in aims to reduce the psychological stress incurred by those phone-bank employees worn down by hostile clients, transforming angry tones into more pleasant and calming ones. What do you think? This one-sided conversation wouldn’t seem to de-escalate matters—like a troll that didn’t realise they were muted rather than blocked and I have wanted to disengage from plenty of calls and do funny voices in my head sometimes to take the edge off and things rarely get confrontational—but the software supposedly maintains a restrained level of dissatisfaction and urgency to ensure that the operator takes the cues. The system will also terminate calls that go on for too long or become overly abusive.

Thursday 30 May 2024

operation landcrab (11. 593)

Concluding on this day in 1943 with US troops retaking the remote Aleutian island, the Battle of Attu, American and Imperial Japanese soldiers encountering one another in snowy conditions, was engaged nearly a year after the unopposed landing of a battalion of the Northern Army infantry, who wanted to establish forward airbases on this strategic location and create a barrier between the US and Russia, should the Soviets decide to join the fight against Japan. Only one of two sites on American soil invaded during the war and the only land confrontation, authorities were too late with orders to evacuate this most westerly part of the island chain and the forty-eight residents, mostly Aleut natives, who survived the annexation were imprisoned in a camp on Hokkaidล, where nearly half died. The fighting, beginning two weeks prior, was brutal and both sides sustained heavy casualties, with the Japanese forces suddenly attacking the Americans in a last ditch push with a large banzai charge (taken from the battle cry’s invocation of “long life” for his Majesty the Emperor and considered one method of gyokusai—shattered jewel, an honourable suicide) at Massacre Bay with nearly all of the troops killed. After the prisons were liberated, none despite a desire to return home, were repatriated and Attu became host to a series of navigation and ranging stations, eventually decommission in 2010, making the island the largest uninhabited area of the United States.

Wednesday 29 May 2024

yokushitsu kansouki (11. 589)

Via the New Shelton wet/dry, we are are treating to some laundry lessons from Japan (see also) and a potential third way to cross the chasm on either side of the Atlantic when it comes to drying clothes. When have a nice rack in the backyard and try to line dry as much as possible but still have a heavy-duty tumble dryer that we have to resort to quite often, especially when the weather isn’t cooperating—and so were intrigued by the installation known as the “bathroom dryer” (ๆตดๅฎคไนพ็‡ฅๆฉŸ, ใ‚ˆใใ—ใคใ‹ใ‚“ใใ†ใ) that blurs the lines between interior design and appliance that blows warm, dry air onto the hanging clothes. Efficient and effective as the outdoors, no ironing needed and kinder to fabrics, more on laundry technology and culture from Bloomberg at the link above.


one year ago: a classic Tina Turner album (1984) plus hype cycles

two years ago: A Raisin in the Sun plus a visit to the Black Moor

three years ago: anatomical astrology, Noรซl Coward rap artist, St Bona plus the invention of the trampoline

four years ago: legislation per tweet, astronomer Maria Cunitz plus an AI parliament

five years ago: peak oil, air gaps, a concept car, modern still lifes plus the Mueller investigation

Friday 24 May 2024

airfoil (11. 579)

Via Super Punch, we get this chance to revisit renowned industrial and commercial designer Lutz “Luigi” Colani with his Polymorph Space Shuttle concept model showcased at the 1984 Expo held in Otaru, Hokkaido (awarded with top honours however during the show for his designs for Canon cameras, including the prototype for the T90). The aerodynamic proposal failed to take off at the time but is perennially revisited by companies in the orbital freight business and included a new stylised logo for the US Space Agency.

Thursday 23 May 2024

saltando (11. 575)

Via Waxy, we are given a chance to revisit the godfather of anime, Osamu Tezuka (ๆ‰‹ๅกš ๆฒป่™ซ, see previously) in his 1984 award-winning short Jumping (ใ‚ธใƒฃใƒณใƒ”ใƒณใ‚ฐ). Shot in one continuous cut over four thousand cells—more on the making of the work with whole storyboard mapped out—and animated from the perspective of a small child skipping down a suburban street, jumps become progressively higher, striding across the city and higher and higher, eventually gaining a view on all of humanity, bounding through jungles and a battlefield and harrowing Hell, before bouncing back to the quiet lane where the adventure started. As with Tezuka’s other works, there is a strong and earnest anti-war sentiment grounded by privileged but everyday magic.

* * * * *


one year ago: assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

three years ago: a close encounter, toponymy of the British Isles plus John Steinbeck’s werewolf novel

four years ago: The Shining (1980), an anti-compliation of short clips, watermelon snow, the French language assigns a gender to the virus, the etymology of epidemics plus more typographical samplers

five years ago: more links to enjoy, gardening and medical intervention, EU hoodies plus a scandal in the Austrian government

Tuesday 21 May 2024

8x8 (11. 570)

nicht abgeholtes gepรคck: the main station in Freiburg has a mystery vending machine where one can buy unclaimed items left in delivery lockers—see previously 

the ahramat branch: a long ago dried up arm of the Nile may explain some of the mystery behind the building of the Pyramids of Giza 

takenoko: a public service announcement for when the bamboo shoots sprout, one of Japan’s traditional seventy-two microseasons—see previously 

endless shrimp: the American seafood chain was private-equitied into bankruptcy and not by dent of its generous promotions—more here

first draft: in a since deleted post, Trump advocates for a “united Reich” in a video featuring hypothetical newspaper headlines following his reelection  

on the town: the story behind the ten-year-old who in 1947 spent a week in San Francisco with twenty dollars 

we call it maize: an interesting hypothesis that ancient Incan stonework and other architectural elements may be an homage to corn kernels  

out-of-order: broken and unused vending machines from around Japan—via Cardhousesee also


one year ago: Croatia Diplomacy Day, a classic from David Bowie, an evergreen piece on American gun-violence plus assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: Ok Computer, a rainbow fifty pence coin for Pride, more feathered friends plus Amelia Earhart crosses the Atlantic

three years ago: your daily demon: Beleth, Elton John in the Soviet Union plus trace a raindrop from river down to the sea

four years ago: vintage Las Vegas logos, an avant-garde art show (1951) plus The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

five years ago: the White Night Riots (1979), regional airline logos, OK Cola, African air-carriers, one hundred and twenty years of photography plus a camera on a sushi conveyor belt

Thursday 2 May 2024

trench coat words (11. 528)

Via tmn, we really enjoyed this reflection and appreciation of the beautifully dissociative nature of the Japanese language and the noble attempt to articulate how the diglossia, digraphia of the written and spoken word, though a series of historical accidents, has created a unique and somewhat untranslatable perspective on the world. Beyond the embarrassment of choices that Japanese speakers have for writing (see previously) and those poetic terms with no equivalence—nonetheless important—the expatriate author a decade on explores how shoehorning the written word imported from China into a wholly oral tradition necessitates not only a pronunciation guide but context cues for orthography, adding an extra dimension to communication from the mechanics of morphology. Much more at ร†ther Mug at the link above including distinctive etymological class of compound words whose components are said the same but are disguised with a new kanji.


one year ago: assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: another MST3K classic plus a pivotal moment in the Falklands War

three years ago: record stamps, the debut album from Kate Bush, Peter and the Wolf, more links to enjoy plus an alternate Oktoberfest

four years ago: ambient sounds of New York City

five years ago: the Queen Elizabeth 2,  more on the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, possible etymologies of OK, geese in the city at night plus more acoustic visualisations

Monday 29 April 2024

kenshล seikatsu (11. 523)

Listening to a re-run of This American Life on human spectacle introduced with widespread delusion of being an unwitting main character in a simulation, articulated by The Truman Show, the first segment “I am the Eggplant,” about an individual conscripted into a very public psychiatric experiment—that because of its vintage, really went from one extreme of the panopticon to the a much darker, tortured place with several addenda. The Nippon Network’s reality game show Susunu! Denpa Shลnen (้€ฒใฌ!้›ปๆณขๅฐ‘ๅนด—Do Not Proceed, Crazy Youth!) that aired from 1998 to 2002 was wildly popular and known for putting participants in rather extreme and absurd situations, and among the best known long-running contests (unbeknownst to the player) was called Prize Life, that recruited, abducted a young, aspiring comic called Tomoaki Hamatsu, nicknamed Nasubi (ใชใ™ใณ, eggplant) owing to his long face, after winning a drawing for a “show business related job” who as his reward was challenged to live in an apartment with no possessions (including clothing, which was censored for the audience with a strategically placed digital ๐Ÿ†, hardly compelled to be modest since he did not know he was being live-streamed the entire time—wondering if that’s the origin of the emoji’s double-meaning) or food and no contact with the outside world (see also) for fifteen and could subsist only from his “winnings” by from mail-in sweepstakes from magazines. These prizes turned out to be rather useless but after fifteen months in isolation (moved from an apartment in Japan to an identical one in Korea by the producers to keep the location hidden from the paparazzi) his winnings finally amounted to enough a million ¥ , to be declared victorious. Reality television has been a mainstay of entertainment for the past twenty years but the disorientation, disappointment and the glib cruelty made me draw comparisons to Squid Game. A feature documentary is about to be released on Nasubi and his ordeal but you should listen to the interview and thematically related acts first.

Saturday 20 April 2024

๐Ÿ†– (11. 502)

Having previously looked at the linguistic phenomenon of boomerang terms, we were intrigued by this post on Japanese borrowings and re-borrowings inspired by the recent addition of a couple dozen loanwords by the OED, whose lexicographer nominated them partially due to their propensity for being reincorporated with nuance. We found it especially fascinating that “no good” is in usage on par with OK in Japan—even appearing adjacent in emoji sorting, collation (see also) as its antonym—despite not being in common parlance or even recognisable in its source language. Many of the new inclusions are cuisine- and cultural-related, like kintsugi and omotenashi, the fusion of hospitality and circumspection that become more widely known by the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo. The whole list and more discussion from Language Log at the link above. How many are you acquainted with, hontลni?

Thursday 18 April 2024

10x10 (11. 496)

the cloud under the seas: the fleet of secret submarine cable repair ships 

sarbox: US Supreme Court appears skeptical about charging January Sixth rioters with obstruction of justice as defined by a law made in the aftermath of the Enron accounting scandal  

mix-and-match orthography: how Japanese writers navigate a choice between four writing systems (see also)—via Cardhouse  

walled gardens have deep roots: the imperative of rewilding (previously) the internet lest the duopolies take over—via Waxy 

bongo bash: Wild Stereo Drums (1961)  

embroidered surveillance: cross-stitch works of closed-circuit security camera footage  

the questor tapes: a 1974 television sci-fi drama about an android with incomplete programming by Star Trek alumni Gene L Coon, D C Fontana and Gene Roddenberry—via r/Obscure Media  

tegelwippen: Dutch towns compete to remove garden paving and embrace weeds—via Miss Cellania  

voir dire: jury selection continues for the criminal trial of Donald J Trump—with some potential jurors being unintentionally doxed by the media 

 atlas 2.0: Boston Dynamics’ new humanoid robot


one year ago: Atelier Elvira, an unwoke chatbot plus assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: more gachapons plus an introduction to risography

three years ago: the launch of the Disney Channel (1983), an experimental light house plus Wham in China (1985)

four years ago: more links to enjoy, the International Amateur Radio Union plus The Spirits Book (1897)

five years ago: concrete monoliths moved by hand plus Mueller Report redactions

Thursday 4 April 2024

9x9 (11. 467)

and palmeres for to seken straunge strondes: the Gentle Author makes a pilgrimage along London’s ancient Black Path 

the 2531 sato-san problem: given demographic trends, legal requirements and custom, all Japanese residents could eventually share the same surname  

symphony № 42: animator Rรฉka Busci presents forty-seven ironic vignettes  

double doors open, why aren’t i reacting in this shot: a literal video version of Total Eclipse of the Heart—I walk out on a terrace where I think I’m alone, but Arthur Fonzarelli’s got an army of clones  

into the butterverse: the variations of the Unicode emoji—via Pasa Bon!  

chalcolithic tattooing: a study of ร–tzi the ice mummy’s body markings on living volunteers—via Super Punch  

apiculture: experiments involving social problem-solving suggest that bees have the capacity to pass on learnt experience  

not a bug but a feature: a collection of absurd software and end-user errors solved—via Waxy  

the society of wood engravers: the art and illustration of carver Harry Brockway—via Things Magazine


one year ago: New York v Trump plus Finland’s accession to NATO

two years ago: Japanese police boxes plus the Ukrainian roots of world-wide wheat

three years ago: your daily demon: Samigina, Winston Smith makes a diary entry plus the Hildesheimer Dom

four years ago: the flag of Hong Kong (1990), assorted links to revisit plus St Tigernach

five years ago: the founding of NATO (1949),  saving the pollinators, the Buttigieg bid for US president plus historic mass transit systems

Tuesday 12 March 2024

8x8 (11. 416)

studio nue: the meticulous and immersive sci-fi illustrations of Naoyuki Kato  

landsat lens: virtual rewinding maps created with historic satellite imagery

drawing for nothing: a growing e-book of storyboards and character studies from unfinished, shelved animation projects—via Waxy 

hag horror: Poseidon’s Underworld explores the genre with 1971’s Blood and Lace 

แน—s (t → ♾️) = 0: researchers find algorithms that only quantum computers can solve—via Damn Interesting—see previously  

all these worlds are yours, except europa: NASA reveals the plaque its probe will carry to Jupiter’s icy moon later this year  

rednaxela: unusual toponyms, including the named terrace in Hong Kong believed to be Alexander transcribed right-to-left, as was the practise in the past  

fantomah: outsider comic book artist Fletcher Hanks


one year ago: assorted links to revisit, domino theory (1947) plus more words with no English equivalent

two years ago: more links to enjoy,  World Day Against Cyber Censorship plus Mamma Mia (1975)

three years ago: the cosmography of William Fairfield Warren (1915), artist Caterina van Hemessen, St Maximilian of Tebessa, occultist Austin Osman Spare, listening to maps, more isogloss maps plus a celebration of veteran memes

four years ago: St Serafina plus COVID travel bans take effect

five years ago: resurrection plants

Tuesday 5 March 2024

7x7 (11. 402)

beyond the edge: the paradox of an infinite Cosmos  

why don’t you come up some time, see me: vocal fry and the valence of husky voices  

the complete commercial artist: the graphic design that informed modern Japan  

urschleim: primordial ooze as animated putty from 1911 

l’urythmics: an anaerobic exercise routine led by jazz dance pioneer Eugene “Luigi 5-6-7-8” Faccuito  

auteur: an omnibus collection of the most beautiful shots in cinematic history from the Solomon Society—including Barry Lyndon—sure to elicit lots of movie memories 

biosigns: an array of telescopes trained on potentially habitable exoplanets confirm a sample size one in a demonstration of its capability

Saturday 24 February 2024

flag carrier (11. 375)

From 1965 to 1967, JAL—once the jet age was firmly established and the airline had a full schedule of international routes, launched a marketing and public outreach campaign and printed a series of thirty-two pamphlets for passengers on all aspects of Japanese and Asian Pacific culture and industry. Entitled “New Views,” they have absolutely frame-worthy covers. More at Present /&/ Correct at the link above.


one year ago: an Ibsen premier (1876), more beautiful infographics plus how uu became w

two years ago: a Midnight Moment in Times Square

three years ago: your daily demon: Belial, assorted links to revisit, a Monteverdi premier (1607) plus architectural illustrator Margarethe Frรถhlich

four years ago: common areas of Hong Kong housing, the Battle of Los Angeles (1942) plus revisiting I, Claudis

five years ago: the Icelandic calendar plus a Ukrainian folk band

Thursday 8 February 2024

dew drop inn (11. 332)

We quite enjoyed this collection of vintage hotel and luggage tags from all around the world through this curation of some choice Japanese accommodations put together by Present /&/ Correct. The scans are small and the ryokan (ๆ—…้คจ, a traditional Japanese inn, often associated with hot spring resorts and baths) section seems most complete—I hope that this project wasn’t just abandoned as too ambitious, there being a lot of place-holders, though optimistically those marked as Up are up—with floor plans, maps and other ephemera associated with the lodgings. India, Singapore, the UK and Norway are represented also.


one year ago: stochastic parrots, unsanctioned matrimony (1973) plus more AI Valentines

two years ago: Mother Josephine plus Right Said Fred (1989)

three years ago: The Birth of a Nation plus Trump quits the Screen Actors’ Guild

four years ago: a daytrip to the mountains plus an evergreen flower

five years ago: German consumer advocacy watchdog sics Facebook, places in painting plus incriminating photos

Thursday 25 January 2024

11x11 (11. 292)

liar’s dividend: digital propaganda and implausible deniability—via the New Shelton wet/dry 

working cows dairy: a collection of superlative cheeses—via Kottke 

the blazing world: a 1666 novel considered the first world of science fiction by a woman author 

everglades jetport: uncovering the ruins of a failed supersonic runway floundering in the in the Florida wetlands—see previously  

the furby panic: US National Security Agency compelled to release a trove of documents outlining their ban of the toy as a potential instrument of espionage—via Waxy  

press-gang: while most news outlets block AI crawlers used to scrape training data, right-wing media welcomes them—see previously 

mac@40: a website showing every model of the Apple computer as it enters its fifth decade  

winter in aizu: a woodblock series from Sosaku Hanga artist Kiyoshi Saito 

you are both so much more than kenough: Hillary Clinton weighs in the Oscar nominations for Barbie—via Super Punch  

time in a bottle: one bar’s water-clock has drained—though we’d not be adverse to a Harvey Wallbanger  

white stork: the Ukraine war-sandbox and the rise of the AI-Military Complex—see previously


one year ago: data-scrapping and copyright

two years ago: MediaWiki Day, more custom cars, Roman milestones plus an inexplicable fast food mascot

three years ago: your daily demon: Valac, assorted links to revisit plus the Torlonia Marbles

four years ago: vintage virtual dressing rooms, happy birthday Volodymyr Zelenskyy, more on the US Space Force plus Mendelssohn’s Wedding March

five year ago:  photojournalist Jessie Tarbox Beals, a Droste homage, more links to enjoy, a Trump associate arrested plus cardinal notions

Wednesday 17 January 2024

10x10 (11. 276)

durianrider and banana girl: a personal account of joining a fringe diet community and subsequent de-programming  

curricula: an archive of Japanese school books from 1898 

i’m feeling lucky: a mostly facetious collection of laws about discourse from Osmo Antero Wiio that posits that communication usually fail except by accident 

it’s not your imagination: research shows that Google search, overrun by competition for rankings, has gotten worse—along with other indexing engines  

flickr commons: sixteen stories for the image platform’s sixteenth birthday—via Waxy  

pps: Chuck Wendig warns against using AI to enhance one’s creative outlets

chevron v natural defence council: US Supreme Court posed to overturn a forty-year precedence on regulators and agency enforcement—more here   

rewatch: Netflix is airing a bevy of classic films, celebrating their milestone anniversaries 

reference desk: as part of an “inappropriate content review,” a US school district is banning dictionaries and encyclopaedias 

the ouroboros of the passive-income scam: an escape from a get rich quick cult

Sunday 7 January 2024

chorioactis geaster (11. 251)

Appearing only in parts of Texas (recognised as the official state fungi since 2021), Oklahoma and Japan, this leathery star-shaped (usually seven-pointed) flower-like mushroom is delighting mycologists, professionals and amateurs alike. Nothing quite so uncommon, the Lone Star State mushroom also nicknamed the Devil’s Cigar as it is reported

to produce an audible hiss (quite a rare ability at least for the human range of hearing) before unfurling from a clylindrical shape to release spores, but after the thaw, we’ve been noticing quite a few winter funguses distinct from the autumnal ones that we are most accustomed to encountering,
like this formation of hair ice (Haareis) that we thought at first were patches of frost but is a phenomena that occurs when weather conditions are just right, damp and humid and just at the freezing point when ice forms on the substate of a specific kind of mould (Exidiopsis effusa, not identified as the catalyst until 2015) growing on dead wood. The resulting strands and curls, however, are not formed on this fungus but rather extruded, expressed in the shape of ephemeral fine hairs before they sublimate away, though a still unknown mechanism and chemistry.

Wednesday 3 January 2024

8x8 (11. 239)

the year of the dragon: Japanese designer New Year’s cards for 2024—see previously  

virdiphyta: an exploration of the interrelatedness of the Plant Kingdom  

in memoriam: more celebrity obituaries you might have missed  

paku paku: one-dimensional PacMan—see also—via Waxy  

๐ŸŒ: the Moon-Making-Side-Eyes emoji has entered the stock market and had its day in court—see previously—via Slashdot 

shoegazing: TikTok revitalises the indie subgenre—via tmn  

on to other adventures: Tom Scott bids his viewers farewell after a decade of educational videos—with a long explanatory walk-and-talk   

trace loops: hypnotic animation from layered paper


one year ago: a comprehensive listing of North American supermarket chain, past and present

two years ago: Saint Daniel plus Monty Python in German

three years ago: the Seditious Dozen, the Fraktur-Antiqua Dispute, Oregon Trail plus Martin Luther excommunicated

four years ago: (You’ve got) the Power, banana republics, more dead malls, Trump’s Middle East policy plus Japanese New Years cards

five years ago: China’s lunar mission plus the introduction bitcoin (2009)

Tuesday 2 January 2024

and surely ye’ll be your pint-cup and surely i’ll be mine (11. 238)

In light of recent toasting and cheering and an earlier post on translation of popular lyrics, we enjoyed learning about the Japanese verses inserted into the Robert Burns’ poem made into a New Year’s tradition. Initially used for a completely separate purpose, Hotaru no Hikari (The Glow of a Firefly, ่›ใฎๅ…‰) set to the tune of the Scottish folk song was used for school matriculations and graduations and played also as outro music at shops and restaurants to signal closing time for customers, a few lines from this other composition in Japanese are added to Auld Lange Syne to ring in the New Year. Much more at Language Log at the link above including various performances of the different versions.