Saturday 24 June 2023

zeg de mensen dat homoseksuelen niet per definitie zwakkelingen zijn (10. 829)

Through his portfolio, Europeana presents a profile in Zivilcourage from the very open author and artist Willem Arondรฉus, who designed murals for various Dutch city halls and redesigns of coats-of-arms as well as illustration work before turning his interests towards poetry, writing and reporting and eventually turning his talents to the anti-Nazi resistance movement under the occupation, forging identity papers and establishing an underground periodical. He worked in concert through much of this period with conductor, cellist and prominent lesbian Frieda Belinfante. In March of 1943, Arondรฉus joined a conspiracy to bomb the Amsterdam public records office to thwart the Nazis ability to identify Jews and others. The group was apprehended months later and thanks to Arondรฉus’ guilty plea and accepting blame for the entire plan may have spared some of the members from execution, a few remanded to custody, but Arondรฉus himself and thirteen others were tried and sentenced, murdered by the Nazis on the first of July, with his last defiant words (wanting it to be known that he and two other co-conspirators were gay) relayed as, “Tell people that homosexuals are not cowards.” The liberated government of the Netherlands honoured him through a posthumous medal to his family in 1945 with broader recognition in the decades to follow.


one year ago: Germany lifts abortion restrictions as US Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade plus a river cruise on the Rhein 

two years ago: the works of Robert Rotar, a Roman holiday, the Lullus bell cast in 1038, assorted links to revisit plus Cubist cars

three years ago: a concert for houseplants, the Battle of Bamber Bridge (1943), COVID-era travel restrictions plus Ford’s Futurama (1939)

four years ago: the Canadian National anthem (1880) plus more on warming stripes

five years ago: places not to die, the camera used in NASA missions—in LEGO form plus David Bowie as sea slugs

Tuesday 20 June 2023

stars on 45 (10. 821)

On this day in 1981, a medley of Beatles songs reinterpreted as disco topped the US singles charts, launching an onslaught of similar remixes, including for the Beach Boys, The Carpenters, Stevie Wonder, the Andrews Sisters and various punk compilations.

The concept originated when the sessions band cum novelty pop group had visited a record store and heard what was expected to be a cacophonous playlist but realised that the rhythms complemented each other. The long-play album, “Let’s Do It In the 80s Greatest Hits” was regarded as a bootleg release at first since the band had not secured permission from the original artist or recording labels. The US title (the longest at forty-one words to reach number one) was “Intro Venus/Sugar Sugar/No Reply/I’ll Be Back/Drive My Car/Do You Want to Know a Secret/We Can Work It Out/I Should Have Known Better/You’re Going to Lose That Girl/Stars on 45” as the artists insisted that the cover tracks‘ names be included. Stars on 54 produced the soundtrack for the 1988 film about the New York City nightclub, including the dance version of Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind.”


one year ago: the second Glastonbury Festival (1972) plus more on the formulaic nature of streaming shows  

two years ago: Germany decides to move the capital to Berlin (1991), wandering like a cloud, the Rosemary Stretch (1972), Nazi rocketry plus some good sportsmanship (1932)

three years ago: North Korean character coding, Cher performs all the parts for West Side Story (1978) plus the premiere of Jaws (1975)

Friday 16 June 2023

7x7 (10. 812)

sister act: a serendipitous find of a bawdy collection of Renaissance era songs leads to a trove of research on bad nuns  

slow tv: Pennsylvania governor sets up a live stream so the public can view the progress on rebuilding the main traffic artery (previously) the eastern seaboard  

whichcraft: a look at the usage and abusage of the relative pronoun  

⛩️: an urban exploration of Toyko’s hidden Shinto shrines 

freshies: a look at what’s on the menu at the South Pole and other in-person observations (see previously)—via Strange Company  

gullinhjatlti: stunning three-thousand year old bronze sword unearthed in Nรถrdlingen  

oude doolhof: a a late Renaissance labyrinthine pleasure garden on the outskirts of Amsterdam

Thursday 15 June 2023

danaรซ (10. 809)

Seriously damaged during an act of vandalism on this day in 1985 in its home at the Hermitage in St Petersburg but fully brought back after over a decade of careful restoration, the work by Rembrandt (previously) features a life-sized depiction of the mother of Perseus, presumably when Zeus transformed “himself into a shower of gold and visited her—visited her and loved her,” the Argive princess locked away in resplendent but isolating chamber with no entrance or egress, save a skylight, to prevent a prophesy delivered to her father King Acrisius that his grandson would kill him, ultimately unable to thwart his fate when at a homecoming games celebrated for the demigod’s triumphs, he accidentally strikes Acrisius in the head when throwing a discus. Originally executed in 1536, the artist undertook some major revisions to the monumental piece, scaling down the canvas to make it more marketable, too big for all but the grandest of settings at two-and-a-half by three metres, and changing the face from its original model’s likeness, Saskia van Uylenburgh, his wife, to that of Geertje Dircx, his son’s caretaker and mistress.

Thursday 30 March 2023

8x8 (10. 645)

maximum fun: Jessie Thorn is turning the podcast network into a worker-owned cooperative  

gearing-ratio: a nifty explainer on the physics of riding a bike—via Waxy  

glass-bead game: fascinating insights into the lunar water-cycle and stellar mist—see also 

stop making sense: David Byrne on his Big Suit  

retrotopia: Berlin’s Kunst-gewer-bemuseum explores Socialist design—see previously here and here  

sit up & listen: a Thames Television station closedown (see also) routine  

the panopticon effect: 99% Invisible explores the nineteenth century prison of Breda—see also

Friday 10 March 2023

masterclass (10. 601)

Capitalising on the excitement of a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition of all the Old Dutch Master’s work displayed together, Open Culture refers us a reality show and competition from the Netherlands making quite a sensation with audiences where amateur and professional painters are vying to be de Nieuwe Vermeer, with participants reimagining the trove of real and putative lost works (or otherwiseredacted) of the artist to attempt to complete his portfolio of some fifty paintings, including The Concert stolen in a 1990 heist of the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum. Much more at Open Culture at the link above.

Wednesday 2 November 2022

sounder (10. 265)

Via the always engrossing Things Magazine, we are introduced to a quandary and at the same time provided with a solution from the cadre of medievalists at the University of Leiden questioning the depiction of Middle Ages porcines in contemporary video games, which portray pigs of yore as the kept and fattened beasts of today whereas in actuality those swine were more svelte and highly regulated as the matter of legislation—see also. The article furthermore links to other studies in our piggy friends, including their prophetic powers as depicted in The Black Cauldron in the prognostications of Hen Wen.

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. 

Monday 19 September 2022

subgenre (10. 149)

Via two of my favourite internet caretakers, Everlasting Blรถrt and Fancy Notions, we are introduced to a very niche and delightful trope in still life paintings: cats stealing food. All the posts in this thread are terrific but we were especially impressed by this work by Dutch Baroque artist Abraham Hendriksz van Beijeren (previously), a virtuoso of the category of pronkstillevens—that sumptuous portrayals of luxury goods, particularly of fish—for the cat’s obvious and feline lack of remorse. See a whole gallery at the link above.

Sunday 18 September 2022

the followers (10. 147)

Via the morning news, we discover that artist Dries Depoorter has triangulated the open surveillance of public spaces and a respectable social media viewership with the help of artificial intelligence to match poses in front of a range of landmarks with their sidling up to it and perfecting their casual-seeming pose. Confounding this perfectly staged moment with the apparent necessity of monitoring share-worthy sites speaks volumes to our definition and expectation of privacy tempered by desire for curation and what it is like to be spotted, caught.

Thursday 4 August 2022

local group (10. 036)

The relatively nearby and sizable galaxy called Dwingeloo 1 evaded detection until this day in 1994 owing to its location in the so called Zone of Avoidance—Zone of Galactic Obscuration, that part of the sky covered up by the light and dust of the plane of the Milky Way—by an operation ran out of a radio observatory in the northeast Netherlands called the Dwingeloo Obscured Galaxy Survey (DOGS) which filled in more gaps in the map of the firmament by filtering by differing radio wavelengths (the foreground stars and dust clouds absorb visible light). Two other more massive and close by galaxies that occupy this same blindspot were discovered in 1968 by pioneering infrared astronomer Paolo Maffei—whom has two namesake galaxies in the constellation of Cassiopeia which if not blocked by our ZOA would be among the brightest and biggest objects in the night sky.

Tuesday 19 July 2022

overnighter (10. 002)

Arriving in the port of Amsterdam at the mouth of the IJ, we took a ferry to New Castle upon Tyne to travel on to points north.

Sunday 17 July 2022

amersfoort (10. 001)

Under way to catch a ferry across the North Sea, we made time for a stop in a picturesque old thirteenth century town in Utrecht a bit downstream from Amsterdam and took in some of the sights between the medieval centre and the combined land- and watergate that allowed entry and egress with the fortified walls being built at the same time, Koppelpoort.

Under high security and operated by a staff of a dozen raddraaiers, Amersfoort rebuffed many siege attempts and was never raided. The late Gothic tower Onze-Lieve-Vrouwetoren (Our Lady) on the defensive canal/moat is the tallest steeple in the country and was at the time of construction in the seventeenth century the geographic of the Netherlands and was the coordinates 0,0 on their grid system and presently still the reference point of the Royal Dutch cartography survey.
Shortly after the city’s character was established, it was dubbed Keistadt—after residents (in turn called Keientrekker) took part in a bet between landholders and hauled a boulder from the moor of Soest to town—large stones being a relative rarity in the Low Countries. The people of Amsersfoort were a little bit embarrassed by this reputation and so hid the massive object in 1672 soon after retrieving it—in exchange for beer and pretzels and bragging rights—though were persuaded in 1903 to re-embrace this honour and placed the boulder in a prominent spot by city hall. In between the start and conclusion of the boulder episode, the settlement‘s namesake was exported to Brooklyn but is now the only community not to retain its Dutch name but rather Flatlands and was the place of birth of artist Piet Mondriaan.

Saturday 2 July 2022


a$ap pocky: Ardnira Putra creates immersive, nostalgic Nintendo 64 vapour wave landscapes  

clean air act: the US Supreme Court curtails the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions, pollutants 

kopen op afstand: the auction clock of royal FloraHolland—and how it was victim of its own popularity  

forty text-tone compilation: a duo expressively dances to all the iPhone alerts  

tpv: researchers develop thermophotovoltaic cells that passively converts white hot heat into electricity—via Slashdot 

biaoqingbao: the lexicon of emoji and memes are being admitted as evidence in more and more lawsuits in China—see previously

Tuesday 14 June 2022


exascale: the world’s super computer might be surpassing benchmarks in secret  

hub and spoke: a suite of interactive maps that lets one scour the globe with creeping data spiders  

viral nightmares: more trials of an AI text to image generator  

witkar: a ride-sharing demonstration projection that ran from 1974 to 1986 in Amsterdam  

the firth of forth: some of the world’s best bridges for driving  

whiskey war: the fifty yearlong territorial dispute between Canada and Denmark over Hans Island has been settled  

zeroth law: an AI ethicist believes Google’s LaMDA has attained sentience

Friday 10 June 2022


web revival: rediscovering the serendipity of hyperlink daisy chains—via Joe Jenett  

free-range children: relocating from London, Ontario to Amsterdam  

sure-footed: a goat-like heavy-lifting robot called BEX under development—via Super Punch 

lavender fields of surrey: a seasonal stroll through an aromatic patch of land  

mono men: the Punk, Grunge aesthetic of Art Chantry 

hyakutsuki-in: a beautiful locker-style cemetery in Toyko  

hounds of love: a 1992 interview with Kate Bush (previously), breaking down her 1985 album track by track  

sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment: an enigmatic sign spotted on a nike trail 

jacob hive maker: first streaming film Wax; Or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees (1991)

Wednesday 8 June 2022


Home to the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute as well as ancestral home and namesake of the Vanderbilt family, the town in Utrecht, De Bilt, experienced temperature extremes—likely recorded owing to said institute—during successive years of an unseasonable low of 1,5℃ and then 33,3℃ in 1914 and 1915. The upper record has since of course been trounced on but usually the thermometer does not reach those heights until August.

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 22 March 2022


situation of opportunity: a giant soft pillow urban intervention on the streets of Amsterdam—via Messy Nessy Chic 

floor plan: highly detailed drawings of Japanese hotel rooms  

you can’t take it with you: the coffin tradition of the Ga people of Ghana  

photogenic: Tom Hegen captures the symmetries of solar farms  

hobbiton-across-the-water: maps and paintings of Middle Earth curated on-line—see previously  

this is a test—this is only a test: a look at the history of the US emergency broadcast system—see previously  

long life to the lord of men: jade burial suits from the Han dynasty  

anchors in the afterlife: a collection of non-human resting-places

Saturday 26 February 2022

der hรถllensturz

Whilst on display at the Alte Pinothek in Munich, the artwork The Fall of Damned by Peter Paul Rubens commissioned by the Duke of Pfalz-Neuberg in 1620 (for whom the great Flemish artist had already created the Greater and Lesser Last Judgment) features a jumble of rather Rubenesque figures being hurled to Hell by the Archangel Michael, the painting vandalised on this day in 1959 by a philosophy professor called Walter Menzl, who doused the canvas with wood polish stripping agent. Fortunately the painting could be saved and restored and the defacer turned himself in to the authorities, offering that he had intended to target rather The Four Apostles (that artist’s last major work) of Albrecht Dรผrer for the herostratic fame but decided against it for the religious implications.