Thursday 6 June 2024

ents and huorns (11. 612)

Via tmn, we directed to the thirty-two metre tall lone rฤtฤ (Metrosideros robusta) on the west coast of South Island that’s been picked by the public as New Zealand’s Tree of the Year. Given the nickname “The Walking Tree” after JRR Tolkien’s motile, sentient arboreal characters due to appearance of being frozen in mid-stride, the unusual lifecycle of the rฤtฤ bears out the comparison as well with the seeds germinating as hemiepiphyte high in the forest canopy (conspicuously absent for this exemplar) before slowly lowering roots that descend to the ground, forming a hollow pseudo-trunk around its host composed of interlocking rhizomes, and can live upwards of a thousand years. Threatened, replanting and rehabilation campaigns have seen their return.  In contrast to the Ents of Middle Earth (see also, Tolkien invented the army as a more satisfying belligerent for the coming of “Great Birnam Wood to Dunsinane” of Macbeth) that become more tree-like as they age, a huorn is undergoing the process of becoming more animated.

Saturday 5 February 2022


eye-in-the-sky: a collection of superlative drone photography 

gravitational lensing: tentatively, astronomers find evidence of the first rogue, marauding black hole over a backdrop of nebular clouds 

wheel of fortune: Wordle but with common quotations and idioms—via Memo of the Air

para||el: a short film about divergent realities by Mรฉnilmonde  

building & loan: more on the economics of gift-cards—see also  

staying toasty: bread hats and loafers, see also  

three little words: what3words (see previously) solves some problems for vehicle guidance and navigation, causes others—via Duck Soup  

to open every kind of lock: burglars’ spells and incantations 

scotus: a former law clerk writes the Wikipedia articles on Biden’s prospective nominees to the US Supreme Court in order to insert doubt and skepticism, via Super Punch  

bird’s eye view: a parrot in New Zealand pilfers a family’s Go-Pro and films some nice scenery

Wednesday 2 February 2022

artificial scarcity

Via Hyperalleric, we have another update from Molly White on how great Web 3.0 is going (previously) with this dispatch from a New Zealand auction house that sold material contact prints and plate glass negatives from photographer and portrait artist Charles Fredrick Goldie—whose work is problematic, considered reductive and promoting the contemporary thinking that the Mฤori were on the verge of extinction as a culture and colonial paternalism though also a snapshot of heritage that might be otherwise lost to time—bundled with their NTF, which fetched much higher prices than they could otherwise garner, complete with a small mallet—inviting the winning bidder to smash the plate and render the lot digital only—see also. The sales were of a self-portrait of the artist at his easel and not of historic aboriginal elders so this provocation is not such an afford to museums and the art world, though one suspects that bidding was driven by investment and looking for a place to park one’s money rather than an appreciation for art or the subject matter.

Thursday 27 January 2022


i just think they’re neat: an orchestral ballad extolling the qualities of the tuber—via Pasa Bon! 

pulsar: a mysterious, suspected white dwarf star called GLEAML-X is far more energetic than physically possible  

eurhythmics: the greatest music teacher of the twentieth century, Nadia Boulanger whose pupils included Igor Stravinsky and Quincy Jones  

nu descendant un escalier № 2: the Marcel Duchamp research portal  

great green wall: an ongoing project to grow a corridor of trees across Africa 

meta-maps: gazetteers that interpret atlases from the collection of David Rumsey 

 bande dessinรฉe: Belgium’s new passport design pays homage to the country’s comic artists  

fire sale: a curious inventory of lots for sale with the closure of the Drury Lane theatre  

his father’s eyes: a giant New Zealand potato, Dug, is subjected to genetic-testing for proof that it is a tuber

Tuesday 23 March 2021


After fifteen years of service, funding running out its orbit degrading and the International Space Station crewed for the first time, on this day in 2001 over the course of five hours, Mir (previously) was decommissioned by a series of manoeuvres that caused the craft to graze the upper atmosphere and break up over the southern Pacific Ocean. Though no significant debris hit land or populated areas, residents in New Zealand and Japan were told to stay indoors as no object of this size had been subject to re-entry prior.

Tuesday 29 December 2020


As a long-standing tradition here at PfRC, here is our annual recap of this most extraordinairy year. We‘ve come all this way together and here‘s to us ploughing on. Thanks for visiting and be good to yourselves and one another.

january: Bushfires rage across Australia, taking the lives of an estimated billion animals.  We had to bid farewell to historian and Monty Python member Terry Jones and veteran reporter and newscaster Jim Lehrer.  Tragically basketball star Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna with seven others died during a helicopter accident.  Trump signs a trade deal with Canada and Mรฉxico to replace NAFTA.  The United Kingdom and Gibraltar formally announce their intention to leave the European Union, initiating an eleven-month transition period.

february: Veteran actor Kirk Douglas passed away, aged one hundred and three as well as fellow actors Orson Bean and Robert Conrad.  A detailed study of the most distant planetary body explored by a space probe, now called Arrokoth, is released.  World stock markets respond early to unease surrounding the spread of the novel SARS virus.  Luxembourg makes all public transportation free to the public. 

march: Actor and singer-song writer Kenny Rogers passed away and we said farewell to Max von Sydow. Playwright Terrence McNally (*1938), actor Mark Blum (*1950), architect Michael Sorkin (*1948), influential Indian chef Floyd Cardoz (*1960), Romanian dissident author Paul Goma (*1935) and saxophonist Manu Dibango (*1933) passed away due to complications of COVID-19.  Composer Krzysztof Penderecki (*1933) whose music scored The Exorcist and The Shining also succumbed after a long bout of illness as did musician Bill Withers (*1938, Lean on Me, .Lovely Day, Just the Two of Us) from heart complications. Breonna Taylor (*1993) was murdered in her apartment in Louisville, Kentucky by police conducting a groundless, no-knock search of the premises. 

april: We had to say goodbye to award-winning musician Adam Schlesinger (*1967) of Fountains of Wayne fame, Alexander George Thynn, Marquess of Bath (*1932), veteran rhythm guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli (*1926), jazz pianist and educator Ellis Louis Marsalis, Jr (*1934), folk musician and storyteller John Prine (*1946) and polymath John Horton Conway (*1937), inventor of among other things of The Game of Life, and comedian Tim Brooke-Taylor (*1940) succumbing to COVID-19.  We say farewell to veteran actress Honor Blackman (*1925), known for her roles in The Avengers and in Goldfinger as Bond Girl Pussy Galore.  We also say farewell to teacher Harriet Mae Glickman (*1925), whom persuaded Charles M. Schultz to include a black character in his comic strip Peanuts, cartoonist and long-time contributor to Mad magazine Mort Drucker (*1929), veteran actor Brian Dennehy and lesbian and civil rights advocate Phyllis Lyon (*1924).

may: founding member of Kraftwerk and electronic music pioneer Florian Schneider (*1947) passed away after a prolonged struggle with cancer.  Entertainer and illusionist Roy Horn (Uwe Ludwig, *1944) of Siegfried & Roy, and Ken Nightingall (*1928), audio engineer and famously known as the Pink Shorts Boom Operator from Star Wars passed away after succumbing to complications of COVID-19.  Pioneering singer and performer Little Richard (*1932) died after a long struggle with cancer as did techno DJ and producer Pascal FEOS (*1968) and rhythm and blues singer Betty Wright (*1953), known for her ability to sing in the whistle register, above falsetto. Veteran actor and comedian Jerry Stiller (*1927) passed away, aged 92.  Monumental artist Christo (*1935 on the same day as his partner in life and professionally Jeanne-Claude, †2009, previously here and here) passed away of natural causes.  Costa Rica legalises gay marriage, the first Latin American country to do so.

june: Rallies and marches rage across the US in response to the brutal murder of Floyd George while being detained by police. Actor Ian Holm (*1931), known for his roles as Napoleon in Time Bandits, Ash in Alien and Bilbo Baggins in the Tolkien adaptations, died from complications of Parkinson’s disease.  Influential graphic designer Milton Glaser (*1929, previously) passed away on his ninety-first birthday.  Iconic comedian and fixture of Japanese television for decades, Ken Shimura (*1950) died of COVID-19.

july: Veteran civil rights activist and politician John Lewis (*1940) passed away after an extended bout with  cancer.  Founder of Fleetwood Mac Peter Green (*1946) has died. Actress Olivia de Haviland (*1916) died of natural causes in her home in Paris, aged 104. The US gross domestic product plummets by a third, prompting Trump to suggest that the November elections be delayed until such time as people can vote safely in person.  Long time Trump and Tea Party supporter and once-time presidential candidate Herman Cain (*1945) died of complications of COVID-19 after contracting the virus during Trump’s rally in Tulsa.

august:  Veteran actor and musician Wilford Brimley (*1934) passed away, dying in hospital suffering from multiple health issues.  John Hume (*1937),  architect of the peace accords in Northern Ireland and instrumental in passing the Good Friday Agreement, has departed.  A giantic explosion occurred in the port of Beirut when chemicals stored in a warehouse there detonated.  Actor and singer behind such standards as “If I Had a Hammer” and “Lemon Tree” Trinidad “Trini” Lรณpez (*1937) died due to complications from COVID-19.  Media mogul Sumner Redstone who created the production company Viacom, recognising that content was king, passed away, aged 97.  Linguist and long-time contributor to Public Radio Geoffrey Nunberg (*1945) died after coping with a long illness.  The Joe Biden campaign selects Kamala Harris as its running-mate, and both parties hold their conventions virtually.  Kremlin-critic and chief opposition candidate to Vladimir Putin, Alexei Navalny, is presumably poisoned on a flight back to Siberia and is subsequently medically evacuated to Germany.  Black Panther actor and humanitarian Chadwick Boseman (*1976) dies after a four-year battle with colon cancer. Long-time Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe announces his retirement from elected office over health reasons.

september: Economist and anarchist David Graeber (*1961) passed away at a hospital in Venice, dying from undisclosed causes.  After a short struggle with cancer and last months spent with family and contented reflection, accomplished actor Dame Enid Diana Elizabeth Rigg (*1938) has died.   Interviewed for a new expose by Bob Woodward, Trump admitted on tape months ago that he downplayed the danger of COVID-19, though this revelation seemed to barely rise above the general din of the news cycle and receded quickly in voters’ conscience.  The Polish-government allows twelve municipalities to declare themselves LGBT-ideology free-zones.  Protests continue in Belarus over the disputed reelection of long-serving, Russian-aligned leader Alexander Lukashenko.  Jurist and US Supreme Court associate justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (*1933) died after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, leaving a court vacancy just before the presidential election.  A grand jury in Kentucky declined to file homicide charges against the police officers who murdered Breonna Taylor.  Australian singer and actor Helen Reddy (*1941) passed away after succumbing to complications from dementia.  During the first US presidential debate, devolving into a messy, nasty political food-fight, Trump refused to denounce white supremacist groups. 

october: After White House aid Hick Hopes tested positive for coronavirus, Donald and Melania Trump were also screened and found to both be carriers.   The nomination ceremony for the US Supreme Court justice to replace the vacancy left by Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the White House rose garden turned into a superspreader event.  Iconic fashion designer Kenzล Takada (้ซ˜็”ฐ ่ณขไธ‰, *1939) died from complications of COVID-19.  Singer Eddie Van Halen (*1955) passed away after a long battle with cancer.  The FBI in conjunction with other domestic law enforcement authorities foil a plot by a white supremacists to kidnap the governor of Michigan.  Jacinda Arden remains Prime Minister of New Zealand after her party wins the election in a land-slide victory.  Space probe OSIRIS-REx (previously) arrives at asteroid Bennu and collects mineral samples to bring back to Earth.  Magician and scientific sceptic James Randi (*1928) passes away, aged 92. Despite the US presidential election only being a little more than a week away, the Republican-controlled Senate rush through the confirmation of a young, conservative justice with questionable qualification and adjourn until after the ballots close, leaving those negatively impacted by the continuing pandemic no fiscal relief package.  Actor Sean Connery passed away, aged ninety.  

november: Terror incidents occur in Paris and Vienna.  With most of Europe entering a second quarantine as a firebreak to slow the spread of COVID-19, Germany goes into lockdown-light for the month.  Election Day comes for the United States with nearly one hundred million voters casting their ballots early.  The election is called in favour of Biden and Harris.  Team Trump refuses to concede.  Long time television game show host Alex Trebek (*1940) dies after a long struggle with pancreatic cancer.  Veteran Middle East negotiator Saeb Erekat dies, aged sixty-five, from complications of COVID-19.  The purge of the Trump administration continues with the dismissal of the Defence Secretary for not authorising the mobilisation of the army against protesters and the chief of cyber-security for countering Trump’s false narrative and rightly proclaiming the election the best safeguarded vote in modern US history, and halving troop levels in Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan by executive decree.  A historic Hurricane Iota ravages Central America, having barely recovered from the last, Hurricane Epsilon.  Not conceding defeat Trump allows the Biden transition team to begin its work.  Argentine footballer, one of the greatest of all time Diego Maradona (*1960) dies of a heart attack.  

december: Courts, including the US Supreme Court, rebuff Trump’s efforts to overturn election results in a nacent coup attempt.  Massive protests in reaction to legislation that liberalises farming practises leave India paralysed.  The first vaccinations against the SARS-CoV-2 virus are administered.  With last-ditch Brexit negotiations poised for failure and the UK to crash out of the EU with no deal, Britain moves to deploy naval warships to protect fishing stocks in its national waters.  Pioneering Country and Western singer Charlie Pride (*1934) passes away due to complications from COVID-19.  Intelligence officer and master of the spy novel, John le Carrรฉ (*1931) has died.  French president Emmanuel Macron contracts COVID-19 and goes into quarantine.  The archbishop of Canterbury tells parishioners, especially the vulnerable, that it is not necessary to attend church services on Christmas day, echoed by the Pope and other religious leaders.  Compounding Brexit uncertainty, the final week of the year sees the UK cut off from much of the rest of the world over concerns about a new coronavirus strain that is significantly more transmissable.  A final deal was arranged for the UK leaving the EU at the last minute which spares Britain the worse fate of crashing-out with no deal but is significantly not as good of a trade pact had the UK remained in.  A powerful earthquake shakes Croatia.  French fashion designer Pierre Cardin passes away, aged ninety-eight.

Friday 7 August 2020

even keel

Having recently noted the anniversary of the passing away of the tradition of the rum ration with Black Tot Day (31 July 1970)—the abolishment of the daily allotment aboard vessels of the Royal Navy in the UK, though lasting under the admiralties of Canada and New Zealand until 1972 and 1990 respectively, we enjoyed learning about the term “splice the mainbrace
—originally an emergency directive to undertake one of the most difficult emergency rigging repair jobs, it became over the years an allowance for a taking a celebratory toast or dispensing an extra ration to the crew. Since the institution ended, only the Queen, Admiralty or another member of the Royal Family can issue the order, sometimes with the supplementary command to “Mend and make clothes,” in other words to take half a day off. Compare to the “:59 Minute Rule” that’s observed in the US military that allows commanders to dismiss staff early without charge to leave, since it falls beneath the threshold that requires it.

Friday 27 December 2019


As this calendar draws to a close and we look forward to 2020, we again take time to reflect on a selection of some of the things and events that took place in 2019. Thanks as always for visiting. We've made it through another wild year together.

january: China lands a probe on the far side of the Moon.  In the US, works from 1923 enter into public domain, the first tranche to do so since 1998. After a contested election, the incumbent government of Venezuela is declared illegitimate.  We had to say a sad goodbye to Zuzu, a long time companion for my mother and a devilish dog.

february: The Trump administration announces its decision to withdrawal from the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, prompting Russia to follow suit.  Pope Francis becomes the first pontiff to visit the Arab peninsula.  A second summit between the US and North Korea collapses in failure.  We bid farewell to fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld, musician Peter Tork, and actor Bruno Ganz.

march: A terrorist’s rampage kills fifty people during services in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, prompting the government to immediately ban the sales and ownership of assault weapons.  Special Counsel Robert Mueller concludes his report on Russian interference in the US 2016 presidential election and summits it to the Attorney General.  Copyright reforms pass in the EU Parliament.  After successive failures to pass a divorce deal, Brexit is delayed.    We had to say goodbye to musicians Dick Dale and Keith Flint, actor Luke Perry, as well as filmmaker Agnรจs Varda.

april: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange loses his political sanctuary after seven years residing in the Colombian mission to the UK and is apprehended at the behest of the US, to be extradited to stand trial for releasing classified materials.  We sadly had to say goodbye to another canine companion, Chauncy. Astronomers capture the image of a black hole.  Brexit is postponed again. During Holy Week, a conflagration engulfed Notre-Dame de Paris.  Over three hundred individuals in Sri Lanka were massacred on Easter Sunday.

may:  Austria’s far-right coalition government collapses after an incriminating video surfaces of a senior official emerges of him promising infrastructure contracts in exchange for campaign support to the posturing relative of a Russian oligarch during a meeting in Ibiza.  Sebastian Kurz resigns as Austrian chancellor and Brigette Bierlein leads a caretaker government until new elections can be held.  We bid farewell to master architect I.M. Pei, Tim Conway, Peter Mayhew, Leon Redbone and Doris DayGrumpy Cat also passed away too soon.

june: The Trump family take a summer vacation, going off to London to see the Queen, fรชted by outgoing Prime Minister, Theresa May, discharging one of her last, onerous official duties before stepping down. The US administration reinstates most sanctions and travel restrictions against Cuba.  Trump ordered strikes against Iran for the destruction of a US spy drone, belaying the order once jets were already in the air and instead authorised a cyber-attack against the government.  Over the course of two evenings, the large pool of Democratic nominee hopefuls held debates.  We had to say farewell to iconic New Orleans singer, song-writer and producer Mac Rebennack, otherwise known as Dr John, as well as epic, old Hollywood filmmaker Franco Zeffirelli and Gloria Vanderbilt.

july: Violent protests continue in Hong Kong.
An arsonist attacked an animation studio in Kyoto, killing dozens.  Donald Trump channels his racism to strengthen his bid for re-election, having never stopped campaign, blowing a dog whistle that is clearly audible to all.  Boris Johnston succeeds Teresa May as prime minister and head of the UK Tory party.  We had to say goodbye to Brazilian musician Joรฃo Gilberto who introduced the world to bossa nova as well as business magnate and philanthropist turned independent politician Ross Perot (*1930), US Supreme Court associate justice John Paul Stevens, Argentine architect Cรฉsar Pelli and actors Rutger Hauer and Russi Taylor.

august: Protests continue in Hong Kong.  India revokes the special status accorded to the disputed territory of Kashmir, escalating tensions with neighbouring Pakistan and China.  More gun violence visits the US.  Puerto Rico goes through three governors in five days.  Sex-trafficker and socialite Jeffrey Epstein was found dead of apparent suicide in his jail cell awaiting trial.  In the midst of a mass-extinction event, Trump repeals the Endangered Species Act and the Amazon burns.  Poet and author Toni Morrison (*1931), Irish singer Danny Doyle and lyricist David Berman died as did actor Peter Fonda and animator Richard Williams.

september: Setting a dangerous precedent, the US national weather agency revises its hurricane forecast to match the antics and bullheadedness of Donald Trump in the wake of the death and destruction brought on the Bahamas.
Prime minister Boris Johnson prorogues Parliament until only two weeks ahead of Brexit departure day.  Trump also announces the cancellation of secret talks he was to hold with a delegation of the Taliban that probably otherwise would have been a 9/11 anniversary photo-op.  Greta Thunberg leads a Fridays for the Future climate walkout in Washington, DC and addresses Congress and global strikes follow.  After thirty years as presenter for BBC Radio 4 flagship Today programme, John Humphrys retires.  House Democrats launch impeachment proceedings against Trump after it was revealed he sought to impugn his political opponents with the help of a foreign power, this time Ukraine.  Photojournalist Charlie Cole (*1955) who captured the iconic image of Tank Man and artists Eddie Money (*1949) and Cars headman Ric Osasek (*1944) and pioneering journalist Cokie Roberts (*1943) passed away.

october: Trump withdraws US troops from the Kurdish controlled border region of Syrian and Turkey promptly invades.

Protests continue in Hong Kong, marring China’s seventieth anniversary celebrations.  There is a terrorist attack on a synagogue in Halle.  Trump refuses to cooperate with House impeachment proceedings.  John Bannister Goodenough (previously) is recognised with a shared Nobel in Chemistry for his pioneering work with lithium batteries. An all-women team of astronauts successfully complete a space-walk.  Brexit is delayed again with the extension pushed back to 31 January 2020.  ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is killed in a raid by US military forces.  The Trump administration is highly recalcitrant and uncooperative during impeachment proceedings.  Long-time congress member representing Baltimore, Elijah Cummings (*1951), passed away.

november:  The Trump impeachment hearings go public.
Aide and political consultant Roger Stone found guilty on all counts for obstruction of justice, witness tampering and lying to Congress just as Trump intimidates former Ukrainian ambassador live during her testimony and career diplomat Marie Yovanovitch is afforded the chance to reply in real time.  A deadly knife-attack on London Bridge is halted by three by-standers, one with his bare hands and the others armed with a fire-extinguisher and a narwal tusk.  The historic Austrian village of Hallstadt is partially burned down.   Frank Avruch (also known as Bozo the Clown, *1930) passed away. We also said farewell to William Ruckelshaus (*1932), America’s first Environmental Protection Agency administrator and government official who defied Richard Nixon during the Saturday Night Massacre.

december:  The venue moved from Chile due to ongoing unrest, the environmental summit COP25 commences in Madrid.
Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin step down.   Greta Thunberg is named TIME’s Person of the Year.  In the UK General Election, a sizable Tory upset gives Boris Johnson a mandate for the UK quitting the EU.  Global trade wars with the US and the rest of the world as belligerents re-surges, this time over Nord Stream 2 (previously) and opting for an energy source at least marginally cleaner than American oil and natural gas obtained by fracking.  Wildfires continue to devastate Australia.  We had to bid farewell to pioneering Star Trek screenwriter DC Fontana (*1939), veteran stage and screen actor appearing in M*A*S*H*, Benson and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Renรฉ Murat Auberjonois (*1940), spiritual guru Ram Dass (*1931), accomplished actress Anna Karina (*1940) and Carroll Spinney (*1933), the puppeteer behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch (previously) for nearly fifty years.

Friday 1 November 2019

world vegan day

In honour of the anniversary of the founding of the animal rights society and publication of the movement’s first newsletter with its first coinage of the term in November of 1944 by English activist and advocate Donald Watson (*1910 – †2005), this day amidst the harvesting (and slaughter), feasting and revelry of this transitional time of year is set aside for education and outreach on living without exploiting fellow animals.
We’re getting there slowly and really admire and respect those who questioned our imagined station and dominion all those decades hence and how easily many of us have it now with the luxury of choice and mainstream alternatives. This older event poster, directly inspired by the banner of Nineteen Eighty-Four’s Ingsoc (Newspeak for English Socialism) Party, strikes me as deliciously ironic, especially for those who seek and attribute cultish overtones to the lifestyle choice out of fear. One party slogan is after all, “Proles and Animals are free.” Do read some of the literature and lean into the science and come to your own conclusions.  

Tuesday 20 August 2019

on the other hand

Permanently exhibited perched atop a Christchurch gallery, Ronnie van Hout’s colossal sculpture Quasi will now dominate the skyline of Wellington, New Zealand for the next three years from the rooftop of the capital’s civic centre, an Art Deco building that was formerly a library.
A reference to Quasimodo the Bellringer, the disembodied hand (see also) has a face that is a toned-down self-portrait, the installation for some has a menacing, vaguely Lovecraftian, body-horror quality to it and it remains unclear whether it becomes re-animated after night falls, and for others the sculpture is endearing (like the loathsome hero that’s its namesake) and a source of civic pride.

Saturday 8 September 2018

the manila pact

Though considered ineffectual and was formerly dissolved in 1977 after key members withdrew their support, on this day in 1954 the Philippines, Thailand, New Zealand, Australia, Pakistan as well as France, the US and the UK formed the mutual defence collective called the Southeast Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO) as force to countermand the spread of Communism in the region. Although failing to halt Soviet influence and the existence of the treaty was cited as the US and Australia as justification for involvement against North Vietnam and large-scale military intervention, SEATO leaves a legacy of educational and vocational endowments that support research and outreach projects to this day.

Thursday 15 March 2018


Amusing Planet brings us the story of the planet’s loneliest tree, a stunted Sitka spruce, and how this transplant is the perfect candidate to mark the separation of the Anthropocene geological epoch. While on a survey expedition, Uchter Knox, Earl of Ranfurly and Governor of New Zealand, visited the remote Campbell Island and was possessed for to plant a tree on this otherwise treeless piece of land, whose climate is hostile to anything growing above ground level.
The specimen that Knox choose, however, is indigenous to a strip of coast in British Columbia—from the opposite ends of the Earth almost—and while not exactly qualifying as an invasive species, the spruce having taken root but never matured to produce cones, it does demonstrate the effect that humans have on the environment. Moreover, the tree is a contender for a “golden spike,” a symbolic milestone like the ceremonial final spike driven that marked the completion of the North American transcontinental railroad that arraign other epochal transitions like the asteroid strike that ended the Paleocene and age of the dinosaurs sixty-six million years hence, as the tree is also a living record of humanity’s attempt to harness and weaponise nuclear fission and fusion. In order to demonstrate that the impact of nuclear testing was truly pervasive and global—that no one was out of range, no matter how isolated or removed—researchers took core samples of the Sitka spruce and found traces of the radioactive carbon isotope that is the signature sign of atomic explosions especially concentrated in the growth rings that corresponded to the mid-1960s when testing was at its peak.

Sunday 25 February 2018

full fathom five

Our morning mediations come courtesy of Fancy Notions with a calm but catchy introduction to the cinematography and scoring of a pioneering New Zealander named Len Lye. Combining experimental film with kinetic sculpture and travelling widely through the South Pacific, Lye became a student of Aboriginal cultures and was one of the first European settlers (pฤkehฤ is the Mฤori term for such an outsider) to appreciate and incorporate their art.

This highlight reel from his 1936 animated short “Rainbow Dance” was filmed in Gasparcolor—one of the forerunners along with Dufaycolor, before Technicolor became the industry standard. You can find a wealth of his other works (including the above titled musical composition, which might have a familiar ring to it) curated by the New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre, your local library or via your trusty search engines.

Tuesday 14 November 2017

jeroboam, rehoboam

Deezen reports how the New York design studio of Dror Benshetrit permanently installed a giant wine rack for the vineyards of Brancott Estate in the Marlborough region of New Zealand’s South Island.
The geometric structure reflect the tidy grid of plants that the diamond-shaped frame towers over is titled Under/standing from a point of view posited by Buckminster Fuller that to truly understand an undertaking, one had to build it and stand underneath it—which is surely an inviting vantage. Viniculture has only been practised in the area since the 1970s but due to the strong contrast between hot, sunny days and chilly nights, the wines of Marlborough quickly garnered international renown for its unique and strong expressions.

Wednesday 4 October 2017


Though the seven continents that we are best acquainted with have corresponding landmasses that rise above the waters, there’s no reason to hold landforms to this requirement, there being no universally accepted geological definition of what constitutes a continent, and there’s a movement, we discover thanks to TYWKIWDBI, to have an eighth land-mass adjacent to Australia so recognised. Most of Zealandia (or alternatively, Tasmantis) remains submerged below the surface of the Pacific with only New Zealand, New Caledonia and Norfolk Island peeking above the surface. What do you think? It struck me at first as the same sort of technicality that downgraded Pluto, but I do wonder how much sense our thresholds and naming-conventions make outside of sentimental attachments.

Wednesday 15 March 2017

down runter

An interesting featured article ostensibly on an army recruitment campaign imploring Australian colonists to fight for metropolitan Britain during World War I re-introduces us to the broader, meticulous and vast curation of unusual maps by Big Think contributor Frank Jacobs.
Like many in the collection, the propaganda illustrated on this broadsheet evokes the it could happen here trope with the continent rebranded as New Germany—with Kaisermania just off the southern coast. Ironically, as this sort of panic was not firmly ensconced in the realm of possibilities with the Great War being one of attrition, the outposts that Imperial Germany had in the vicinity of Australia were immediately taken by New Zealand and Australian forces as soon as war was declared, rebranding Neu-Mecklenburg and Neu-Pommern as New Ireland and New England respectively. The Treaty of Versailles formally stripped Germany of its colonial holdings and with Africa and Asia already unduly apportioned among the other European powers, the only land left up for grabs for a resurgent Nazi Germany was Antarctica.

Sunday 1 January 2017

the island of the day before

Year in and year out, as the Earth’s rotation marks the procession of the hours around the globe—although with geo-political license that apportions certain time zones to one area and groups national entities, especially those comprised of disperse archipelago and the divisions aren’t smoothly radiating from pole to pole—one’s given to wonder how it might feel to live in a place that’s off-set from the rest (majority of the population, perhaps, but there are quite a few of these zones and ones that describe great swathes of the Earth’s surface) by a half-hour and even rarer lesser increments.
Any readers in those places, please let us know your thoughts. Would it be strange and jarring to be synchronised at the top of the hour or does it even register? Maybe that is by turns convenient and awkward for scheduling and meeting dead-lines.  Though probably not longer than living memory Tonga (UTC +13:00) and New Zealand’s Chatham Islands (UTC +12:45), places which are sadly usually covered up by the frontispieces of globes, have lied precarious close to the international date line, the edge of tomorrow—by convention—and now are afforded times later than, ahead of the neighbouring, relatively neighbourless waters, which to my mind would push them into tomorrow, instead of just later that day. We’re eager to hear from any residents of Nuku’alofa or Waitangi or anyone else that might have some insight into this perplexing situation.

Saturday 4 June 2016

mid-century mฤori

Collectors’ Weekly has very circumspect and well-researched article on the graphic artist Marcus King, whose tenure at the country’s board of tourism (the first nation in the world to create a ministry for that express purpose) helped tout remote and exotic New Zealand to the traveling public and celebrated its aboriginal peoples and culture.  Being rather a tough sell, owing to the particular challenges of reaching the island, King and other artists of his time necessarily had to be prolific in promotion. And though a demographic-shift in the availability of global transportation has made visiting New Zealand more attainable, the far-away allure is evinced by the effect that the Ring cycle of Tolkien has had of late as heir to this business of selling a setting. Be sure to check out the full vignette on Collectors’ Weekly to learn more and to browse a gallery of these vintage travel posters.