Monday 27 May 2024

priams schatz (11. 586)

Discovered on this day in 1873, the horde of gold treasure and other artefacts excavated at the site of modern day Hisarlฤฑk by Heinrich Schliemann (see previously) and his team. Though in his zeal to associate the treasure with the figure of the Homeric king, the archeologists were off by centuries in the stratification of this Bronze Age dig, subsequent research and scholarship confirm that Schliemann was correct in his quest to find the City of Troy (ฮคฯฮฟฮฏฮฑ also called ฮŠฮปฮนฮฟฮฝ from the Hittie๐’†ณ๐’Œท๐’‹ซ๐’Š’๐’„ฟ๐’Šญ and pronounced probably as Wiluลกa) and the besieged settlement of the epic Iliad was not just the stuff of legends, contrary to prevailing contemporary opinion. Investigating a wall of the supposed palace, Schliemann immediately dismissed the crew for a lunch-break to prise out the cache himself—with the assistance of his wife, Sophia—later criticised for being adorned with the “Jewels of Helen.” Not given permission by the Ottoman Empire to remove the gold, Schliemann smuggled the find out of Anatolia where it ended up being displayed in a museum in Berlin. The treasure was in turn plundered during the Red Army’s Battle of Berlin—with the Soviet Union denying it had taken such war trophies, until 1994 when the Pushkin Museum in Moscow owed that it had the Trojan gold.

Wednesday 27 March 2024

9x9 (11. 453)

 you are old, father william, the young man said: Better Living Through Beowulf has been applying Lewis Carroll characters to the trials and tribulations of Biden and Trump  

gรผneลŸ enerjili santrali: power plant in Turkeyi’s Konya region is straight out of science fiction  

rotoscopio: artist Antoni Sendra celebrates his daring daughter’s favourite things with more than two thousand hand painted frames of animation ahead of her sixth birthday 

toto, i don’t think we’re in kansas anymore: the Ruby Slippers theft saga continues 

read/write drive: Infinite Macs and making computing history accessible, including an emulation of the original World Wide Web browser—via Waxy  

licensed broker: the rise and fall of the professional appellation electragist  

fleischer studios: the history and evolution of animation from the phenakistiscope to Pixar  

low-vacuum pipeline magnetic levitation technology: a hyperloop test track in the Netherlands 

come to jesus moment: Trump attempts to capitalise on Biden’s split with Israeli leadership

Friday 1 September 2023

8x8 (10. 977)

diyarbakฤฑr: archeologists discover a massive subterranean city under the Roman garrison at Zerzevan 

aaro: the Pentagon launches a website to explore declassified information on unidentified anomalous phenomena, via Slashdot—also watch this instead 

space for kitchen aerobics: the latest oversized monstrosity from McMansion Hell—previously

the parable of the pig: philosopher Pyrrho’s hog as a model of tranquillity in a ship on a stormy sea—from Futility Closet happily back after a hiatus  

queso de cabrales: a hunk of artisanal cheese from Asturias fetches a record-setting price—via Strange Company 

a directory of wonderful things: an expert curated selection of weird and delightful corners of the internet  

chatgop: a conservative media outlet may have interviewed an AI generated Donald Trump 

colossus of constantine: plans to restore the monumental statue of the Roman emperor built as a triumph for his victory in the Battle of the Milvian Bridge

Sunday 28 May 2023

path of totality (10. 774)

Hailed by Isaac Asimov and others as the singular advent of science though some doubts persist to the accuracy of the claims of having forecasted the event in advance and what method was used, the 585 BC solar eclipse over Anatolia predicted by Thales of Miletus (the first philosopher to have broke with the tradition of mythology as a explanation for the state of the Cosmos, used deductive reasoning, proposed navigating by the stars and credited with the maxim “Know Thyself” as well as being a shrewd entrepreneur, having bought up all the olive presses in his archontes ahead of what was a very good harvest) that occurred on this day is a cardinal date used for triangulating other historical events, and, if true, is the earliest instance known of such an advanced vaticination. The announced event happened during a skirmish in the protracted war between the Medes and the Lydians, under the leadership of Cyaxares and Alyattes respectively, at Halys—the river bordering the two kingdoms, with the belligerents taking it as an omen to call a truce, though Miletus had no dog in this fight. Though astronomical knowledge at this point in history was not sufficiently advanced to know that the shadow of the Moon caused eclipses (not an avowed flat-earther, he provisionally believed that the continents floated on an infinite ocean under the dome of the firmament until a better idea came along)—that would come a century later—it is speculated that Miletus had noticed patterns in the periodicity, known to the Babylonians and programmed into the Antikythera Mechanism.

Tuesday 14 March 2023

dita e verรซs (10. 610)

Translating to summer’s day in Albanian, the springtime rite with pre-Christian origins is observed on this day and corresponds to the beginning of the New Year on the Old Calendar, aligning with the seasonal shift from winter. Celebrations are marked with family reunions, intensive spring-cleaning, reverence for the life returning, and jumping over, through bonfires for a ritual purification to drive away the darkness and referred to as shedding the fleas—recalling an expedient method of delousing as well as with the Verore, a red and white bracelet worn to mark the occasion and the preparation of sugar cookies called ballokume—named for a review by one Ottoman rulers that: ร‹shtรซ ba si llokume—it was as good as lokum—that is, Turkish Delights.

Sunday 12 March 2023

truman doctrine (10. 607)

Introduced to the US Congress on this day in 1947—prompted by crises in Greece, a violent uprising by the national Communist party partially funded by neighbouring Yugoslavia and Tรผrkiye, under pressure from the Soviet Union to allow its ships passage from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean and the Long Telegram by George F Kennan of the previous year—President Harry S Truman, with the assistance of Secretary of State George Marshall (previously) and undersecretary Dean Acheson, outlining his “domino theory” in grave terms, secured Republican buy-in and ensured funding for his foreign policy objectives. In an address before a joint session of Congress which was generally well-received by the public, Truman said, “I believe it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures. I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way. I believe that our help should be primarily through economic and financial aid which is essential to economic stability and orderly political processes.” Couched in the context of the broader Cold War, the expansive and highly publicised commitment of the Truman Doctrine established precedent for the next four decades of siding with anticommunist forces and regimes all over the world no matter how antithetical and opposed they were to the democratic image that America wanted to promote and form military alliances against the USSR and confederates.

Sunday 12 February 2023

7x7 (10. 543)

epicentre: Tรผrkiye-Syrian earthquake opens a huge fissure over three hundred kilometres long—donate to help with recovery efforts here

down with gravity: legislation in Montana would restrict scientific instruction to “scientific fact”  

monocle: a compact Augmented Reality device that does not wholly remove one from the here and now  

ditchley park: secret bi-partisan talks on the failure of Brexit taking place 

radar anomaly: fighter jets down another unidentified flying object over Canada’s Yukon Province   

child-labour: Iowa state legislature abolishes most working-age restrictions, allowing fourteen-year-olds to do dangerous jobs at exploitative wages  

search and rescue: as the death toll climbs to thirty thousand with little hope of finding more survivors, a happy montage of a few saved from the rubble—more options for donations here

Monday 26 December 2022

ฮบฮฑฮปฮนฮบฮฌฮฝฯ„ฮถฮฑฯฮฟฮน (10. 365)

A figure of Greek, Balkan and Anatolian folklore, the malevolent goblins called kallikantzaros (previously, literally beguiling centaur in Greek but possibly etymologically sources to the Turkish word for werewolf or vampire) are summoned from the underworld during Twelvetide to turn their mischief on humans, there being a reprieve from their infernal, eternal task during this fortnight when it is believed the Earth’s journey through the calendar year is suspended. Consigned to hack away at the trunk of the World Tree and bring about its doom, one Christmas dawns and the Sun stops moving, they are called to the surface, distracted and forgetting about their job, nearly complete, until Epiphany resumes Ordinary Time—and the sawed bough has had the chance to regenerate. In order to save the world, most humans would endure this period of bedevilment but there were additional (see above) ways to keep the kallikantazaroi away, including keeping the Yule Log burning for the duration of the holidays so they could not creep down one’s chimney and through one’s hearth, avoid venturing out late at night and, particularly in Serbia, to refrain from adulterous liaisons since that activity attracts them and will ensure that the affair gets found out.

Monday 17 October 2022

ฮฌฮณฮนฮฟฯ‚ ฮฌฮฝฮดฯฮญฮฑฯ‚ ฮฟ ฮบฯฮทฯ„ฮนฮบฯŒฯ‚ (10. 231)

Fรชted on this day on the occasion of his martyrdom in the Forum Bovis (the Ox Market where public executions were held) of Constantinople by order of Constantine V in 766 or 767, the fervent iconodule Andrew of Crete (AOC, not to be confused with more prominent theologian and hymnographer from a few decades earlier with the same name) was a champion of religious imagery when such practises were suppressed as idolatrous by imperial authorities in the Eastern Empire during the Byzantine Iconoclasm. A monastery as was dedicated in his memory (originally named for the apostle and later after the ultimate triumph of Orthodoxy adding the appellation ฮฎ ฮšฯฮฏฯƒฮนฯ‚—by-the-Judgement, Krisis—for this popular opposition figure sentenced to death for his iconophilia) and currently houses the Koca Mustafa Pasha mosque.

Friday 7 October 2022

sergius & bacchus (10. 202)

Among the most popular paired saints with a cult going back to the fifth century, the Syrian Roman soldiers were, according to their hagiography, favoured officers in the army of Galerius (successor to Emperor Diocletian, toning down his persecutions but still strongly opposed to Christianity) until their secret adherence was exposed, they are venerated on this day in the Western Church to mark their martyrdom and the hands of their superiors, tortured (Bacchus went first and his ghost returned to encourage his compatriot to be steadfast and not disavow his faith) and beheaded. Tradition emphasises their closeness and inseparability, which has caused the couple to be embraced by the Catholic gay community—most accepting that their relationship had a romantic element to it and points to the rite, suggestive of a form of same-sex union, called แผ€ฮดฮตฮปฯ†ฮฟฯ€ฮฟฮฏฮทฯƒฮนฯ‚ (adelphopoiesis, fraternisation or brother-making). Their patronage includes Arabs, Syria and army soldiers and their home church built in Constantinople—now known as the Little Hagia Sophia Mosque—is the among the city’s most splendid examples of Byzantine architecture, second only to its namesake.

Sunday 24 April 2022

never look a gift horse in the mouth

Though this kind of exact date for something semi-legendary, laden with cultural baggage and millennia hence is notoriously hard to pin down, the attestation by among others Eratosthenes, polymath and librarian of Alexandria who calculated the circumference and axial tilt of Earth to a remarkable degree of accuracy (thanks in part to his access to extensive geological data at the library), traditionally places the Fall of Troy, the end of the decade-long siege of the impenetrable city by the Achaean armies when they were let into the gates, hiding inside a wooden horse, a ruse thought up by Odysseus—a creature sacred to the Trojans, on this day in 1183 BCE. Left on the beach as an offering for their return home, the Greeks had apparently decamped. Many were suspicious, including Cassandra and Laocoรถn—with of course no one listening to the former and the latter being devoured by a sea serpent along with his sons sent by Athena to keep the priest’s mouth shut but they ultimately decided to keep the horse and celebrated the end of their long blockade with an evening of drunken revelry. Most of the population was massacred in their sleep as the Greeks sacked the city—save for Aeneas who went on to found Rome in some traditions, with most of the Greeks also denied a safe homecoming by the gods for their atrocious behaviour as victors and for their desecration of temples and holy sites and were doomed to wrack and ruin.

Monday 11 April 2022

uzay yolu

Somewhat familiar with the adaptation known as Turkish Star Wars, we enjoyed the introduction to its counterpart in the Star Trek universe, which though unauthorised and non-canonical was a forerunner to any feature length treatment of the franchise by a good six years before any sanctioned production could debut. With the plot lifted from episodes of “I, Mudd,” “The Man Trap,” “Arena,” “Amok Time” and “What Are Little Girls Made Of?,” the hapless tourist ร–mer is beamed up and inserted into the action mise-en-scรจne when Doctor McCoy is visiting an old girlfriend—Nancy—who in actuality is a murderous shape-shifter yearning after salt. The away-mission segments were filmed at the ruins of Ephesus.

tryzub

Officially adopted by the Rada after independence and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1992 and with historical precedence going back to the Ukrainian People’s Republic of 1918 and in the historic seals and brands (tamga, ๐ฑƒ๐ฐข๐ฐ๐ฐ€, from the Old Turkic to mark the property of nomadic peoples—see also) of the Rurikid rulers of the Kyivan Rus, the country’s coat of arms, the Emblem of the Royal State of Volodymyr the Great, is described as a “trident” of gold (ะขั€ะธะทัƒะฑ) on an azure shield but likely was intended to represent the Trinity in the form of a stylised gyrfalcon (like this one from outside of St Petersburg connected to an eighth century Viking trading outpost on Lake Lagoda at the other extreme of the Rus’), consistent with the iconography associated with the Scandinavian extraction of the ruling dynasty.

Friday 8 April 2022

imperial ambitions

On this day in 1783, Czarina Catherine the Great announced the annexation, following a favourable outcome in the Russo-Turkic Wars against the Ottoman Empire, of Crimea, the right-bank of the Kuban region and the Taman peninsula that separates the Azov from the Black Sea. Other territorial expansion during long reign included parts of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Novorossiya (roughly corresponding to the Bessarabia region of Moldova and coastal areas of Ukraine) as well as Russian America. Also on this day in 1812, Czar Alexander I (grandson of the former) issued a decree to make Helsinki the capital of the semi-autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland—having seceded from Sweden and part of the Russian Empire from 1809 until 1917

Monday 4 April 2022

breadbasket

Via Miss Cellania, we quite enjoyed this appreciation of the Ukrainian roots of wheat world-wide—see also—and how grain-cultivation and baking traditions owe a heavy debt to the Crimean peninsula and successive exoduses and displacement—and what those fleeing carried with them. National banner modelled on the blue sky over the waves of grain, times like these reveal the depth of our connections and dependence.



Saturday 4 December 2021

week-by-week

In what’s become an annual treat, Tom Whitwell again shares fifty-two items he has gleaned from the past year. In the compilation, drawn from experiencing editing projects for Fluxx / Medium, Whitwell’s shared new facts learned include that daily over a million images of coffee grinds are uploaded to a fortune reading app (the process of divination called tasseomancy), advice on how to solicit better answers, the MSG hoax, the truth behind the mystery seeds from China hysteria, and a few we’ve previously covered like how cowpox vaccine was transported around the world, traditional Japanese microseasons, how film was formulated to privilege lighter complexions, and how the threshhold effect applies even to a doorway on screen. Many more astonishing correlations at the links above—do let us know your favourites.

Thursday 8 April 2021

sofagate

Though wanting to focus on substantive issues, rehabilitating diplomatic and economic ties and address a host of social issues including gender equality rather than standing on ceremony or protocol, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen found herself sidelined and snubbed during a high-level meeting in Ankara (previously), forced to sit on an adjacent couch, whilst her interlocutors had a more domineering position. Ahead of the meeting, Turkish President Recep Tayyip ErdoฤŸan attracted criticism over his announcement to withdraw the country from the International ฤฐstanbul Convention of 2011 to prevent and combat domestic violence because, as ErdoฤŸan characterised it, was an attempt by the LGBTQ+ community to normalise homosexuality and impose their views on society as a whole. The awkward meeting was not wholly unproductive von der Leyen owns as the slight only sharpens her focus on upholding the highest standards of human rights.

Monday 22 February 2021

like chalk and cheese

Though attested since the late fourteenth century and surely encountered in every day speech, we were unaware of this delightful idiom, said of things that are superficially alike but very different in substance, like a crumbly, unaged cheese that’s never mistaken as flaking chalk (though some attribute the etymology to an unscrupulous cheesemonger that tried to pass off adulterated product). The Turkish equivalent DaฤŸlar kadar farklฤฑ, “As different as the mountains” conveys the same sense. Its extended meaning covers things that don’t pair well.  Learn more at Nag on the Lake at the link up top.

Monday 30 November 2020

hurri-mitanni

Via Everlasting Blรถrt, we are directed to this remarkable choreography of a troupe of increasingly abstract virtual dancers in the streets of Istanbul created by Gรถkalp Gรถnen for the jazz stylings of Ilhan Ersahin’s latest single, the eponymous ‘Good News.’ These enthusiastic, unrestrained performances recalls these other whirling digital dervishes.

Sunday 22 November 2020

alfabeti shqip

With the conclusion of the Congress of Manastir—now called Bitola, on this day in 1908 academicians from around the country met and achieved their goal of standardising the national language and script for the native population and the diaspora aboard and in neighbouring Kosovo and North Macedonia—who commemorate this Dita e Alfabetit—whereas prior to the democratic, deliberative and well-considered process the language was expressed in no fewer than six distinct scripts that drew from Greek, Cyrillic, Ottoman and Arabic. There was great potential for confusion between rho and pi, aitch and kha. The outcome was a variant of the Latin alphabet (see also) with thirty-six letters to best represent the phonology of Albanian with diagraphs including dh, gj and nj.