Thursday 9 May 2024

nailed it! (11. 549)

Via Super Punch we learn—and on par with the Finnish practise of awarding a hat and a sword—that Sweden carries on with the unique and obligatory tradition, described as “Lutherishly,” for PhD candidates to nail one’s thesis, disseration to a wall or plank a few weeks prior to one’s defence. Referred to a spikning, students will post their paper (nicely bound by the university’s library press, and with the written approval of their advisor, signed off as Mรฅ spikas, “May be nailed”) in the halls of their respective departments for others to pursue and dispute. The comparison to the sixteenth century revolutionary protest against the selling of plenary indulgences seems apt but Martin Luther took the idea from academia and not the other way around.

Wednesday 1 May 2024

binomial nomenclature (11. 525)

Prior to the publication, on this day in 1753, of the work by Carl Linnaeus (see also), listing every known species of plant at the time (around six thousand specimens compared with the over four hundred-thousand of flowering plants alone described today), there was no consistent standard for the scientific naming of botanic organisms, later adopted by consensus for all forms of life, and most exemplars would be given a long though descriptive polynomials, like herbaceous perennial catnip—now Nepeta cataria, before called Nepeta floribus interrupte spicatis pedunculatis. The genus, the taxonomical rank between species and family, was followed by a specific epithet or “trivial name” developed out of a student project to classify what cattle forage. Arranged into a thousand genera, there were no accounts of what the species looked like in this text and one needed a companion volume to cross reference.


one year ago: assorted links worth revisiting plus Citizen Kane (1941)

two years ago: the Moonies, more text-to-image generation, more links to enjoy plus an Esperanto punk band

three years ago: Operation Neptune Spear (2011), Mister Rodgers testifies before Congress, dogs with torches in paintings, shrinking glacial maps, more Citizen Kane plus retiring the Op-Ed section

four years ago: Ballet Zoom, pigeon calls, the Penny Black (1840), the Feast of Saint Joseph, Soviet Winne the Pooh, a charting hit from Tim Curry, the flag of the territory of Florida plus an anime selfie filter

five years ago: edible seaweed containers plus an album from McGruff the Crime Dog

Saturday 6 April 2024

concours eurovision de la chason (11. 470)

With the finale held on this day fifty years ago, held in the arts venue the Dome of Brighton with veteran television personality and presenter Katie Boyle—winner of the 1973 contest Luxembourg having declined the honour of hosting the event consecutive years in a row due to cost constraints for their public broadcaster, Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Tรฉlรฉdiffusion, some of the more memorable acts of the Eurovision Song Contest (previously) with an iconic and transporting recognition owing to the winners’ costuming and performance include an interlude by the Wombles, Olivia Newton-John, Mouth and MacNeal and entrant Pooky from newly admitted Israel, whose prog and jazz fusion would prove enduring. France did not participate that year out of respect for the national mourning period for the death of president Georges Pompidou, withdrawing a few days before, and contest was not aired until several months afterwards for fear that the country’s own submission, “Sรฌ” finishing in second place, might have influenced votes on a confusingly worded nation referendum on whether to keep or rescind newly introduced legislation (see above) that allowed for divorce in country—“yes” being the ballot initiative to outlaw the recently enacted liberty.


one year ago: the UK tax year plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: artist Raphael, fungal communication plus playing around with a text-to-image generator

three years ago: Ping-Pong Diplomacy, the first Tony Awards, the Debatable Lands, plans to build the World Trade Center, duelling songs plus the modern Olympic Games (1896)

four years ago: more true facts from Ze Frank plus a cute typing tutor

five years ago: the Bavarian Socialist Republic (1919) plus a community Spring Cleaning

Wednesday 27 March 2024

pรฅskhรคxa (11. 455)

Via Messy Nessy Chic, we are reminded (see previously) of the Swedish and Finnish legend of the Easter witches who fly off to Blockula (Blรฅkulla, cognate with Blocksberg or the Brocken in the Harz mountains and host to a similar congress) to meet the Devil on the night between Holy Wednesday (Dymmelonsdag, also known as Spy Wednesday to mark the bargain of Judas and his betrayal of Jesus’ whereabouts) and Maundy Thursday (Skรคrtorsdagen). Though with dark origins in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and the witch mania and hunts in Scandinavia, when implements that witches could use for their magical flight, broomsticks, fence posts, beams and farm animals, were locked away, modern traditions include children dressing as witches, to commemorate the ride and rites, and go door-to-door for Easter treats in exchange for hand-drawn greetings.

Tuesday 5 March 2024

omero nel baltico (11. 401)

Via the New Shelton wet/dry, we are directed towards an interesting academic speculation from amateur historian Felice Vinci who transposes the epic, decade-long, decade-delayed homecoming of Odysseus (see previously here and here) from the Mediterranean to the higher climes of the Baltic Seas. Positing that conditions during the Holocene Climate Optimum during the time of the Trojan War made northern Europe more like Greece, the main battleground was on the plains of Finland, with Circe’s Isle Jan Mayen Island, the Sirens and Cyclops on the Norwegian coast, shipbuilding Aetolian Pylene the German town of Plรถn and Thebes Stockholm. Though many of the toponyms in Homer’s poem are frustratingly nondescript (most believed that Troy was legendary until it was discovered) and malleable, like the Matter of Britain or Charlemagne’s heritage claimed by many peoples, Vinci’s theory is an intriguing idea but does not seem particularly convincing or rigorous and follows a tradition of projection and syncretism. Much more at the links above.


one year agoThe Jaywalker (1956), the Great Michigan Pizza Funeral (1973), more needful punctuation plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: the Iron Curtain (1946), a cinematic preview in retrospect plus translation choices for a global product

three years ago: ultracrepidarian, photographer AL Schafer plus another MST3K classic

four years ago: assorted links to revisit, Sinclair Computers (1981) plus Disney’s back catalogue

five years ago: artist Gunta Slรถlzl, parcours, Florida Man plus the Odyssey as a cruise itinerary

Wednesday 31 January 2024

my, my, how can i resist you? (11. 310)

Coincidentally sharing some of the same lyrics (Mamma mia, let me go!), on this day in 1976 ABBA unseated Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” from its nine-week run at the top of the UK singles charts with the opening track on their eponymous third studio album. Resistant to the idea of promoting the song for fear of over-exposure (and due to the composition being shopped around before it was offered to the group), it was first trialled in the Australian market but the overwhelming positive reception prompted ABBA to release it as a single in Britain, soon becoming an international hit. The B-side of the UK version had the instrumental track “Intermezzo № 1” with variants including “Hey, Hey Helen” and “Tropical Love Land.”

Monday 22 January 2024

bildruta fรถr bildruta (11. 287)

We appreciated the introduction to the portfolio of Swedish artist Iris Wildros through these mediative, contemplative frame-by-frame looming animations, which provide just as much enhancement and focus for the creator as for the observer. Multidisciplinary, Wildros has a preferred medium to reflect on change and return over time, dissecting what’s otherwise overwhelming into a more manageable component that still hangs, appends itself to a system as a whole rather than an isolating Much more on Wildros’ works exploring nature and cycles in a gallery of GIFs at the links above.

Tuesday 16 January 2024

try once more like you did before (11. 273)

Released on this day in 1979 as the lead single from their sixth studio album, Voulez-Vous, this song about a “little girl” was informed by Simon and Garfunkel’s cover of a Peruvian standard “El Condor Pasa”—and subsequently recorded in Spanish after its critical acclaim as part of Gracias Por La Mรบsica. One of ABBA’s biggest hits to date (see previously), it was showcased in a UNICEF charity concert, broadcast from a plenary session with royalties going to support the children’s emergency fund.

latrinalia (11. 272)

Via the peripatetic online explorations of Messy Nessy Chic, we are referred to the doodle books, Klotterbรถckers—a five volume collection, of Stockholmer Bengt Claudelin, professionally an assistant to a wealthy art-collecting countess (whom eventually bequeathed her collection along with Claudelin’s research to the state though first censored then forgotten in the archives), of the graffiti in public conveniences, documented in his free time. There’s the usual toilet humour and bragging (see also for another ethnographic study) but an overwhelming preponderance of propositioning and profusion of male prostitution. Although the entries (often illustrated which Claudelin faithfully copied) are anonymous—one group in particular stood out: soldiers, for whom it was not uncommon almost a century earlier to offer sexual favours for sale, particularly given the low wages and dearth of obligations during the duty week, to have some extra spending money for the weekend and a proper date. Claudelin’s patron, Wilhelmina Hallwyl, donated her home and collection on the condition that it would remain unchanged and always kept together in 1922, offering like her secretary’s hobby, a unique insight into the lifestyle of the Swedish nobility of the era.

artist sjรถรถ (11. 270)

Courtesy of a retrospective exhibition at Oxford entitled the Great Cosmic Mother, we were pleased to be acquainted with the paintings of radical anarcho-, eco-feminist and founding proponent of the Goddess Movement whose work coincided with the woman’s liberation push of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Monica Sjรถรถ was born in the Vรคsternorrland region on New Year’s Eve 1938 and left home aged sixteen to travel Europe working as an agricultural labourer and find work in modelling, eventually taking up residence in Bristol, where she remained for the rest of her life—very well known beyond all borders, she taught and corresponded with several influential authors, neopagans and artists, including Judy Chicago, Alice Walker, Starhawk and Shekhinah Mountainwater. The show’s name comes from a pamphlet later expanded into a book co-authored with Barbara Mor covering ancient history and the origin of religion and spirituality, positing that women were the first practitioners—a text still part of the syllabus for many courses on women’s studies, mythology and theology. Much more from Hyperallergic at the link up top.


one year ago: another MST3K classic,  AI designs novelty socks, an Ayn Rand play plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: more links to enjoy, professional salutations plus haunted postcards

three years ago: your daily demon: Vapula, an anatomy lesson, contemporary irregular verb forms, special stamps for the Lunar New Year plus large Cyrillic numbers

four years ago: birb-watching, the League of Nations, the Wollemi pines plus the US congress transmits articles of impeachment for Trump

five years ago: the first orbital docking, a gilded picket fence for Mar-a-Lago, more on Prohibition in the US plus the White House serves fast-food

Saturday 30 December 2023

nyordslistan (11. 225)

In a highly anticipated annual tradition, Sweden’s Institutet fรถr sprรฅk och flokminnen, the language council in collaboration with the magazine Sprรฅktidningen releases its list of neologisms for 2023—running the gamut of news and culture, the new entries range from AI-klonad (cloned) to barbenheimer with some three dozen others. The register features terms on a variety of topics including deinfluencing, cyberresiliens, situationship, longtermism, snikflation and nepo baby which are mutually intelligible as well as more native coinages like vild graviditet (wild birth referring to a trend of unsupervised pregnancies), tantparkour (aunt parkour, lighter physical training and obstacle courses suited for the elderly), bubbelhoppa (bubble jumping, to consciously change one’s environment to gain other perspectives on news events, politics and society), hyschpengar (hush money, prompted by the trials of Donald Trump and witness intimidation), kรคnslighetslรคsare, which looked at first by gaslighting but refers to those employed to proofread texts and highlight gendered or stereotyping language and evighetskemikalie, forever chemicals.

Thursday 7 December 2023

9x9 (11. 169)

sub-space: the potential problems of communications with relativistic spacecraft, traveling at a fraction the speed of light with solar-sails  

new quality productivity: Chinese buzz-words of the year, including a coinage by President Xi 

ailex: artist Alicia Framis announces her marriage to a hologram  

der nussknacker: the Fรผchtner family who made the first traditional nutcracker is still in the business  

wallsynth: Love Hultรฉn’s custom, one-of-a-kind musical creations have a Mid-Century Modern aesthetic  

the day of the animals: a 1977 nature rampage film from William Girdler  

network effects: building a better, unbundled Craigslist turned out like the trajectory of Twitter 

american dream: Investopedia’s most searched economic terms of the year reveal a lot about how people feel about their financial situation 

 in space, no one can hear you kern: when lost in the inner Solar System, typography can come in handy


one year ago: Blue Marble (1972), Sovereign Citizens plus using AI to invent a language

two years ago: galaxies outside our own plus assorted links to revisit

three years ago: birdsong in December, more links to enjoy, non-conterminious territory plus more words of the year

four years ago: the Guzman Prize awarded (1969), Scientology HQ plus a lunar cruise

five years ago: the etymology of chauvinism, Dr Magnus Hirschfeld, circular economies, more movie typography plus juxtaposing photography


Wednesday 6 December 2023

with so many light years to go and things to be found (to be found) (11. 168)

Hitting number one on the UK singles chart (a feat repeated and sustained in over twenty five other national markets) on this day in 1986, the song by the Swedish rock group Europe was inspired by Space Oddity and with a keyboard riff that lead singer Joey Tempest had had experimented with for six years (and surely carried in his head the whole time though we are glad he does not have to endure that earworm alone any longer), it was originally conceived as a concert-opener before being expanded and limned as a complete tune. 


one year ago: the Irish Free State (1922), Finnish independence, assorted links to revisit, stock price charting plus seasonally obscure terminology

two years ago: a reconstructed fable

three years ago: passive immunity, the bust of Nefertiti, the Encyclopedia Britannica plus the Villon Song

four years ago: greatest hits by decade—all the way back to prehistory plus the Washington Post waltz

five years ago: more links to enjoy


Friday 27 October 2023

9x9 (11. 078)

page rank: the SEO trend of naming establishments X Near Me seems to actually drive customers—via Waxy  

cyanea pohaku: a species of tree discovered right before it was driven to extinction

saint eom: the psychedelic compound of folk artist and fortune-teller Eddie Owens Martin outside of Buena Vista in the US state of Georgia and listed on the National Register of Historic Places  

usonian homes: a pair of Frank Lloyd Wright (see previously) houses on the market in Kalamazoo in the US state of Michigan  

saob: the official Swedish dictionary published after one hundred forty years of work

the united states of guns: another sadly evergreen post about how an armed society is not a free society   

happiness hotel: a luxury kennel once occupied the grounds of New York City’s Lincoln Center 

report of my death having been most industriously circulated by several of the london daily newspapers, would the times permit me to contradict the same through your valuable columns and refute the account: sculptor John Ternouth, designer of the plinth for Nelson’s Column, was surprised to learn of his premature demise—via Strange Company  

i am altering the deal—pray i don’t alter it any further: Amazon’s Alexa is ending inoperability support with severe punishment for those who try to hack their way around it

Sunday 24 September 2023

10x10 (11. 020)

osiris-rex: fulfilling a seven-year mission (previously) a space probe to collect samples from an asteroid—with further adventures planned 

succession: Rupert Murdoch’s departure from News Corp is a cold-comfort for the millions brainwashed by Fox and Friends 

be the first to like this post: more on the meaning and origins of the chain of riders and horses dispatched to send missives—see previously  

project cybersyn: more on Salvadore Allende’s plans to build a socialist internet 

fanfare: the history and physics of the trumpet  

shear madness: 1980 reportage on a cutting-edge hair salon in Kensington  

the joke and dagger department: an appreciation of the genius of Spy vs Spy, a political cartoon that wasn’t a political cartoon 

3r’s: the Swedish educational system has a renewed emphasis on handwriting, quiet reading time  

omni consumer products: New York City police lease a robocop to patrol Times Square subway station as a trial run  

all these worlds are yours—except europa, attempt no landing there: the JWST detects carbon on the surface of the Jovian moon

Sunday 20 August 2023

skolstrejk fรถr klimatet (10. 955)

On this day in 2018, when Europe was suffering from droughts and a heatwave (also inspired by students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida who refused to return after the shootings), ahead of parliamentary elections and the first day of class after summer break, then fifteen-year-old Greta Tintin Eleonora Ernman Thunberg sat on the steps of the Svergies Riksdag calling for a “School-Strike for the Climate.” Alone in her protest, the image was picked up by the Swedish press and garnering criticism from her parents and teachers for her truancy and message, Thunberg returned everyday for three weeks until the 9 September ballot, demanding that the government commit to reducing carbon-emissions aligned with the pledges of the Paris Agreement. Thunberg’s activism inspired the Fridays for Future movement of millions of students globally using the day to rally for environmental causes and has been a necessary gadfly to spur action, calling out greenwashing and repeating that “our house is still on fire.”

Thursday 1 June 2023

the annoying thing (10. 780)

Originally shared as an MP3 audio recording of a student in Gothenburg called Daniel Malmedahl imitating the sounds of a two-stroke engine revving (Tvรฅtaktare) in 1997 that was picked up as a signature sound for Formula One Racing in 2001, the concept, with the addition of a CGI character, became a ring-tone licensed and rather aggressively marketed in 2004 and on this day in 2005, just a couple of weeks after being released, its incarnation as a Eurodance, techno song by Axel F became the number one single in the UK and a summer hit (internationally—tube de l’รฉtรฉ), beating out the likes of Cold Play in the charts. This enduring cult classic, which is periodically called into service, saw more than a dozen remixes, concert tours, a video game, a documentary plus an unrealised television series and feature film. Deng deng!

Wednesday 31 May 2023

whale of a tale (10. 779)

A highly sociable beluga whale, a local celebrity nicknamed Hvaldimir, a portmanteau of the Norwegian word for whale plus the first name of Russian president Putin—long suspected as being used for espionage, trained and outfitted with a harness believed to gather intelligence and telemetry on Nordic waters, has been sighted off the coast of the Sweden. Activists and onlookers, considered for the whale’s safety and well-being, possibly retired from spying already although that is not clear, are aiming to re-socialise with others of his pod and rehabilitate him. More from NPR at the link above.

Thursday 11 May 2023

datalagen (10. 731)

Enacted on this day in 1973 by Riksdag and going into effect in July of the following year, Sweden’s was the world’s data protection law passed on a national level (see previously) created a privacy protection authority to issue permits to information systems that handled personal information. Already Five decades ago, use of electronic file storage and communications in the country were quite advanced and Swedish society upheld the importance of access and transparency and a commission was established in 1969, returning its recommendations to the government three years later on the state of computers, future trends and how that intersected with the press and private lives—particularly in terms of creditworthiness. Subject to amendments and evolving as technology changed and spread, the law eventually was replaced the Personuppgiftslagen (Personal Data Law) in 1998 modelled after the European Union’s Data Protection Directive following its ascension to the EU.

Sunday 7 May 2023

codex gigas (10. 725)

The largest extant medieval manuscript in the world, this “giant book” (Obล™รญ kniha) was saved from destruction when the medieval royal palace of Stockholm went up in flames by being thrown from a window on this day in 1679. Taken from Prague as spoils of the Thirty Years; War by Swedish forces, the illuminated tome (weighing in at 75 kg) contains the complete Vulgate Bible and other thirteenth century reference material and is known for picture of the devil that takes up a full page with no other text—so prominently featured according to legend due to a pact with Satan by one of the monk scribes in exchange for allowing him time to completely transcribe the text before the source material was overdue.