Monday 8 July 2024

olive branch petition (11. 673)

Signed following adoption by the Second Continental Congress on this day in 1775 after, formal request was last ditch effort to avoid open conflict between Great Britain and the Thirteen Colonies. The fact that the same group of delegates had just authorised the invasion of the Dominion of Canada and passage of the resolution titled the Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms over the perception of parliament extending its influence across the Atlantic rather made its favourable reception unlikely despite its pledge of fealty to George III—the king refusing to read it and declaring the colonists traitorous. Interpreted as intransigence on the part of the British government—the signature page along with the rest of the missive in the US National archives features the prominent signature of John Hancock—it’s ignored read-receipt helped limn the choice for American settlers, entrenching a litany of grievances, and legitimising rebellion, informing Thomas Payne’s Common Sense. You say—the price of my love’s not a price that you’re willing to pay, you cry in your tea which hurl in the see when you see me go by. Why so sad?

Thursday 4 July 2024

๐Ÿฅ— (11. 661)

On this day in 1924, the Caesar salad was invented in Tijuana by restaurateur of Italian-extract Caesar Cardini, from Baveno on the shores of Lago Maggiore, in his eponymous dining establishment. Caught unprepared by the large number of Americans crossing the border to legally purchase liquor otherwise unavailable during Prohibition for the long holiday weekend, Cardini improvised to stretch his food supply by mixing a large salad in the middle of the main dining hall, making due with what he had a surplus of on hand with the addition of tableside tossing by the proprietor for some dramatic flair. Several food columnists and Julia Child, who sampled the original sometime in the 1920s, helped popularise the dish whose reputation proceeded it, with the latter celebrity chef helping to codify the recipe with the help of Cardini’s daughter in the 1970s, romaine lettuce and croutons dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, eggs, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, black pepper, Dijon mustard, anchovies (substituting capers and tahini for a vegetarian version) and Parmesan cheese. 


one year ago: the US national anthem (with synchronoptica), David Bowie’s trans-Siberia railway journey plus Uncle Sam’s predecessor

seven years ago: a botched memorial

eight years ago: a space probe arrives in Jupiter’s orbit plus the chemistry of a candle

nine years ago: pyrotechnic effects 

ten years ago: hyper-capitalism plus anti-migrant sentiment

Monday 17 June 2024

r/tragedeigh (11. 635)

A conflicted, guilty pleasure has been lately scrolling through the above subreddit, thinking that oh boy—there are some doozies—and while the community is good about disabusing people of names outside of the Anglophone world, there being two sides to the discussion: traditional names with non-traditional spellings and separately trending baby names, there’s yet a sour taste in one’s mouth over the general content, leafing through elementary school students’ year books and calling out names that one disapproves of. Fresh and unranked boys’ names aside—Crockett, Rake, Wilkes, Dossett, Witten, Hallow and Bazley—these decisions, sins of the proud parents get one identified instantly and it behooves one to remember that these are children we are trolling. When I worked in healthcare I recall a particular patient named Atreu, after the alter-ego of the reader of The NeverEnding Story who was portrayed rather prosaically in the movie adaptation as Bastian, whose improving charts always made me happy and one newborn adorably named Voilร —non-conventional spelling if I remember but that’s a tough one. These tragedians should not be forced to be anonymised—nor should their names be underscored with a red squiggle as a misspelling for capitalising on the vagaries of English orthography but some of these attempts to buck convention by the parents have consequences visited on the next generation.

Wednesday 5 June 2024

8x8 (11. 608)

i’m too busy helping plot world domination to bother with such run-of-the-mill liberal brainwashing: a day in the life of Mister Anthony Fauci, according to one Congressional representative  

syllabus: a reading list spanning nine-decades—via Messy Nessy Chic  

psychotronics: the prospect of telepathy is once again tantalisingly close—see previously  

foreign accent: TWA’s 1968 campaign to introduce cosmopolitan flair for US domestic flights  

zoonotic: cross-species viral transmission cases is an ominous warning for the public health community—see previously  

the rot-com bubble: the deterioration of tech began with iterative, virtual fetishes—starting with the gig-economy, moving on to crypto, NFTs, the metaverse and now AI, substitutes and replacements that no one asked for 

anagnosology: the science of reading from Alie Ward

look at me, i’m mtg, lousy with stupidity: one of the latest from Randy Rainbow


one year ago: The Truman Show (1988) plus a follow-up on an Italian archaeological discovery

two years ago: Uncle Albert (1971) plus a selection of British tongue-twisters

three years ago: a preliminary report of the disease that would become known as AIDS (1981), St Boniface, a sophisticated place name generator plus disco lessons

four years ago: generative copy, assorted links to revisit, a zany public service campaign plus a classic from Crash-Test Dummies

five years ago: US national park typography, the palette of dying coral plus clearing up space junk

Monday 3 June 2024

while bill clinton plays the sax (11. 604)

On this day in 1992, Arkansas governor and presidential candidate William Jefferson Clinton appeared as a guest on The Arsenio Hall Show. Clinton’s future Secretary of Commerce, Ron Brown, Hilary Clinton and actor Terri Garr also guested on the programme. After a memorable rendition of Elvis Priestley’s “Heartbreak Hotel” on the saxophone, the host quipped that it was “nice to see Democrats blow something besides an election.” The appearance (more of the segment from C-SPAN) is now seen as pivotal in his campaign and curried popularity among young voters, whom prior to the airing trailed in third place behind George HW Bush and then-undeclared spoiler candidate H Ross Perot, jumping twenty-one points in the polls the next day.

Thursday 30 May 2024

operation landcrab (11. 593)

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

judicial advocacy (11. 592)

US Supreme Court associate justice Samuel Alito, rebuffing calls from members of the legislation for recusal after two instances of flying provocative flags at his residences that signal his political alignment, responded to leaders of both chambers that his actions (he shifts the decision—see also—to his wife and an unneighbourly spat) to not rise to the threshold of removing himself from highly consequential cases upcoming on the high court’s docket. At a time when public confidence in the impartiality of the justice system in America is at an all time low and bias and agenda are seen to sway decisions, Alito invokes the court’s code of ethics, beholden to no higher authority, asserting it is a personal decision for each justice to choose to recuse themselves from cases or not. Reporting alleges that Alito makes his prejudice clear regarding to January Sixth Insurrection filings by flying an upside down American flag (a distress signal) and raising a revolutionary era Pine Tree, “Appeal to Heaven” flag (a historic banner used in New England with the motto referencing John Locke’s treatises on governance and the right of revolution) but both symbols are associated with Christian nationalism, far right extremism and Trump’s “Stop the Steal” campaign, ongoing election denialism as well as the assault on the Capitol to interrupt certification of voting results.


one year ago: headstone rubbings of historic typographers plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: Paperback Writer (1966), Joan of Arc plus the Lincoln Memorial

three years ago: Sounds for the Supermarket, Tonto’s Expanding Head Band, safety protocols, a Sunday drive plus a storied pizza franchise

four years ago: a wave of protests across the US

five years ago: St Seraphim, antique thread cards, freedom gas plus celebrating the life and career of Leon Redbone

Wednesday 29 May 2024

deutschland und die deutschen (11. 591)

Delivered in the US Library of Congress on this day in 1945, the lecture by Thomas Mann (auf englisch, appointed a docent of the institution) came a few weeks after the capitulation of the Nazis and in the milieu of the end of World War II in the European Theatre and assayed the German character of inwardness (Innerlichkeit), previously revealed by the Reformation and Romanticism, as a way to understand the complicity of the population in National Socialism. Setting out on this daring and too-soon undertaking, Mann aimed to address the “German problem” and try to unriddle the the vice and virtue of the nation, “which has undeniably given the world so much beauty and greatness and has repeatedly become a burden to it in such a disastrous ways,” portraying the German psyche as a Faustian bargain through figures as Goethe, Bismarck, Luther and Riemenscheider. Concluding with the formula that the victory of cosmopolitanism over tribalism would be the saving grace that the world in general needs. While criticised for over-simplification, universalising and self-promotion, quoting from his own works as something quintessentially German, it was the timing and the those very abbreviations that invited confession and reflection.

Friday 10 May 2024

tea party (11. 551)

Passed on this day in 1773 by the parliament of Great Britain, the Tea Act was principally designed to help the British East India Company remain profitable and offload some of its surplus by undercutting the price for illegal imports, mostly smuggled into the American colonies through Dutch suppliers, by enabling direct and duty-free exports. The supplemental tariff under the Townsend Acts meant to generate revenue for colonial administration and the paid the salaries of governors (to ensure allegiance) as well as leverage to obtain better terms of trade with transportation companies. Although the quality of the black market tea was inferior to the British, it was considered patriotic to drink the smuggled tea by some groups as a political protest to the taxes levied. Despite the elimination of elimination of duties with the license for direct sales that bypassed the need for middlemen (these merchants also angered because they were rendered superfluous as were the marketeers) resulting in lower prices for higher quality tea, colonists were still upset on principal of the retention of the nominal tax used to pay the salaries of crown officials. Harbour masters in New York and Philadelphia were refusing delivery of tea shipments and reached a crisis point in December that year when the Sons of Liberty (cosplaying Native Americans, the tax was set to expire if not renewed by Parliament) raided ships docked in Boston and dumped the cargo overboard—an event known later as the Boston Tea Party, mythologised, which resulted in the embargo and closure of the port until the destroyed shipments were paid for.

Saturday 4 May 2024

xavier roberts (11. 538)

Somewhat cognisant of the strange lore surrounding the adoption process surrounding the dolls introduced in 1983, though we were completely taken aback by this account—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links—of attending the “live birth” experience at Babyland General Hospital (a nursery and gift shop in rural northern Georgia, an area tragically underserved in terms of actual clinical care with the procedure at the maternity ward described unironically as “planned parenthood”) of a Cabbage Patch Kid. With truly unexpected ritualistic gravity, like something out of The Handmaid’s Tale, the visiting public is summoned to witness Mother Cabbage, truly the object of devotion for a mystery cult like some plaster-cast oracle of Delphi, presided over by a pretend nurse who also plays the role of high priestess urging the children in the room to help with the labour. More on this unbelievably strange ceremony at Thrillist at the link above.

Thursday 2 May 2024

national day of reason (11. 530)

In response to the statutory observance of the National Day of Prayer—codified into law at the urging of conservative evangelical preacher Billy Graham in 1952 during the Korean War with US president Harry S Truman signing a bill proclaiming that each subsequent administration was to declare this annual holiday on the date of his choosing—this secular counter-convocation has been held on the first Thursday since 2003 by humanists and freethinkers to assert freedom from religion after unsuccessfully petitioning the federal government from endorsing the former, supported by public monies and time for Christian-dominated religious ceremonies. The latter having gained in popularity in recent years as a demonstration that nonbelievers can contribute to their communities in positive and life-affirming ways and be good without god, activities include organised food drives, blood donations and giving to other charities.

Sunday 28 April 2024

i got this in the second world war ii (11. 521)

Receiving its popular-become-historic designation on this day as a result of a poll conducted by the American survey company Gallup in 1942, with—no spoilers—the 1914-1918 global conflict referred to as “The Great War” or the “European War” by the US until they entered it in earnest in 1917, there were plenty of journalistic antecedents for calling the new crisis World War II, imbuing by force of habit, in much the same way we refer to contemporary geopolitical struggles as World War III, both hyperbolically and litotically. US president FDR called it such in press conferences but not particularly liking the term as too neutral and nothing one could get behind, he directed Gallup to ask the public. Roosevelt’s own suggestion was the Survival War, with the War for Civilisation or the War against Enslavement being other contenders—compare with the Soviet name, “The Great Patriotic War.” After fighting had subsided in Europe and the war was ending in the Pacific Theatre, FDR’s predecessor Harry S Truman signed a request in September of 1945 from his Secretary of War to make it official.

Sunday 21 April 2024

cartoon all-stars to the rescue (11. 506)

Airing the Saturday following the observance of 420 during the height of America’s War on Drugs and not too many years removed from Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign and other relentless public service announcements—via learn via our faithful chronicler—that the McDonald’s charity arm financed the production of a crossover simulcast featuring the Muppet Babies, Alf, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Looney Tunes and DuckTales, the Smurfs, Garfield, Alvin and the Chipmunks and others was broadcast on this day in 1990—probably giving rise to Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Space Jam, despite unpopular reception. In the style of A Christmas Carol (this sort of nostalgia is a toxic impulse and this is what it gives you) the popular cartoon characters stage an intervention for an adolescent marijuana-user to forewarn him of the consequences of his actions if he does not amend his wayward ways (compare to this 1974 rather psychedelic remediation targeted to an earlier generation that grew up with a lot of this content and franchises). The special was also screened in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil.

Tuesday 16 April 2024

hearts and minds (11. 494)

An 1959 early spring testimony before an American senate subcommittee on the effects of “Red China Communes on the United States” by an Asian correspondent for the Miami News intent on self-promotion and advancing a misinformed pet theory firmly solidified the neologism of brainwashing (with derivative terms) as common political parlance. The deposition by the reporter turned propagandist (alleged a covert CIA agent) against the spread of Communism convinced the public and policy-makers that the Chinese (and others) had devised a scientific method for turning people’s love and allegiances, allegedly uncovering the method of “mind-attack” and their word for, “brain-washing.” The original term xวnวŽo (ๆด—่…ฆ, “wash brain”) was employed to describe the coercive persuasion used by the Maoist to integrate more reactionary members of society and was a popular pun, not an official policy or approach, on the Taoist custom of xวxฤซn (ๆด—ๅฟƒ , “cleaning the heart and mind”) with both understood to be something more akin to enlightenment, disabusing and not the reprogramming or deprogramming that captured the American public, with the help of the journalist’s tract, other reporting and films and television as well as the Zeitgeist of the Red Scare and sinophobia, fears that loyalties were susceptible to nefarious and scientifically compelling influences that caused collaboration and defection. For all the pseudoscience and propagandising, brainwashing did fill a linguist and psychological lacuna, a gap that was packed with the attendant moral panic and supposed countermeasures with psychological warfare and the rise of home-grown, domestic cults that subsumed what they purported to prevent. More from MIT Technology Review at the link up top. Why don’t you pass the time by playing a little solitaire?

Sunday 14 April 2024

6x6 (11. 488)

dolia: new research reveals Roman wines to be of premium quality, contrary to conventional wisdom, and comparable to modern European standards 

second amendment rights: factors informing the arming of America 

ready player two: the ghost of a departed loved one preserved in an untouched video game console 

a supposedly fun thing that i’ll never do again: the story of Zenith, David Foster Wallace’s (previously) cruise experience—via Nag on the Lake  

on brand: a look at the author of reinstated 1864 legislation in Arizona—see more 

last of the summer wine: the untimely demise of the once trendy, effervescent piquette

Monday 8 April 2024

the first tuesday after the first monday in november (11. 478)

Co-sponsored as a bipartisan measure by Republican Barry Goldwater and Hubert H Humphrey, both loosing in recent years their respective bids to become US president, the Senate voted to make Election Day (in even numbered years) a biannual, paid federal holiday on this day in 1974. Despite passage in the upper chamber of Congress, the amendment never came to the floor in the House of Representatives. Though not quite a perennial push, the proposal has seen multiple attempts to revitalise the legislation and ensure less conflict between work schedules and civic duties, most recently during last year’s session and before that in 2019. Voting in Europe is held on Sundays.

Thursday 21 March 2024

eo 9835 (11. 439)

Also knowns as the “Loyalty Order” and instituted to combat supposed communist infiltration in the echelons of the federal government, the executive order was issued by US president Harry S Truman on this day, primarily in response to criticism that the Democrat administration had been too lax about suppressing Soviet influence, fuelled by ongoing investigations by the House Un-American Activities Committee. Although Truman hoped that this move might placate his dissenters, it quickly snowballed, leading to the creation of the Attorney General’s List of Subversive Organisations and a sweeping FBI inquiry of all three million federal employees—three hundred were ultimately dismissed as security liabilities—warranting further research if the subject was disposed to disloyalty in the form of sabotage, espionage, treason, sedition or advocacy thereof. The order was ultimately revoked in stages by Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter and repealed entirely under Bill Clinton in 1988, eliminating fealty in favour of allegiance, which had become entrenched as discriminatory hiring policies that barred gay individuals from foreign service positions and that required that gay charitable and educational organisations applying for a tax exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service publicly disclaim that homosexuality was a “sickness, disturbance or a diseased pathology.”

Friday 15 March 2024

6x6 (11. 422)

merica: singular, normalised behaviour of US residents that they’ve become inured to 

sfx: more mind-blowing short videos from OpenAI’s Sora—see previously 

outstanding in the field: highlights from the annual British Wildlife Photo  

negative pressure ventilator: an obituary for author, lawyer and polio survivor who used an iron lung for seven decades  

getty images: foundation and museum has made over eighty thousand artworks and artefacts from its collect available to the public  

free drawing: lessons in illustration from 1925 by Franz ฤŒiลพek and Hermann Kastner bytedance: users react to app’s uncertain future in the US


one year ago: assorted links to revisit

two years ago: another MST3K classic, a Roman holiday plus the Doomsday Clock

three years ago: the Ides of March, the Feast of the Holy Lance, more links to enjoy plus a lost and found project

four years ago: the Osaka World’s Fair Expo (1970), a Roman Star Trek episode, disease vectors, antique bills of sale, some blasphemous graffiti plus Scotland’s new bank notes

five years ago: a non-gendered digital assistant, xenophobic dogma, unblurring photos, college admission and privilege plus more links worth the revisit

Wednesday 13 March 2024

the temple of invention (11. 418)

Via tmn, we discover that from 1790 to 1880, the US Patent Office uniquely required filers to include with each application a model of their inventions, which were later curated and exhibited in the agency’s miniature gallery, established ahead of Washington, DC’s other museums as the top attraction of the capital city. Long ago deaccessioned and largely lost (as a form of crowd control), some artefacts have been collected and put on display, including the exquisitely impractical and unmarketable hull of Abraham Lincoln’s boat design with inflatable and evacuatable ballast to improve navigation (6469, the only patent granted to a US president—though I suspect that Trump has registered an unfashionable number of trademarks administered by the same authority) along with dozens of other ambitious artefacts of ingenuity.


one year ago: the network effect

two years ago: assorted links to revisit plus Saint Ansovinus

three years ago: more links to enjoy, snowdrops plus a classic number from Brewer and Shipley

four years ago: a coup attempt in Germany (1920)

five years ago: the world wide web (1989), noise-cancelling, plant mobility plus more Olympic pictograms

Monday 26 February 2024

handmaids’ tales (11. 384)

We are turned towards a coupling of sermons, one from a Methodist preacher from 2018 and another more recent commentary from the pulpit of US politics, that highlight the hypocrisy of American fundamentalism and championing the unborn, privileging potential and the least complicated, objectionable over those inconvenient actualities of the poor, unwell, indigent and alien who might not be sufficiently grateful or not present a challenge for the societal arrangement and power structures that put them in this situation to begin with, which—if redressed could take care and truly foster the former as well. The second piece has a more satirical tone but delivers the same message and both are worth reading in full.