Thursday 27 June 2024

ponte dei salti (11. 653)

Driving back through Ticino near Locarno, we headed through the Verzasca valley, punctuated with a monumental reservoir, Lago di Vogorno. Completed in the mid-1960s by the same civil engineer, Giovanni Lombardi, who designed the Gotthard Base Tunnel, the dam makes a cameo in the 1995 film Goldeneye, with James Bond parachuting from the wall. No bungee jumping was on offer today, however.





We went on towards Lavertezzo with the arched pedestrian crossing, built originally in the 1700s for donkeys bearing burdens, over the turquoise river. 





The route was dotted with villages with traditional slate and granite houses. The rapids are treacherous but the shallows in this spot with bathers made it seem like a prehistoric water park from The Flintstones.

synchronoptica

one year ago: paronomasia (with synchronoptica) plus a critique of the Latin alphabet

seven years ago: America’s retaliatory strike on Syria, Salvador Dalรญ exhumed plus the TSA empowered to check one’s reading material

eight years ago: US supreme court upholds Trump’s travel ban plus the history of America’s Pledge of Allegiance

eleven years ago: Snowden granted asylum 

twelve years ago: drone warfare 



Tuesday 21 May 2024

8x8 (11. 570)

nicht abgeholtes gepรคck: the main station in Freiburg has a mystery vending machine where one can buy unclaimed items left in delivery lockers—see previously 

the ahramat branch: a long ago dried up arm of the Nile may explain some of the mystery behind the building of the Pyramids of Giza 

takenoko: a public service announcement for when the bamboo shoots sprout, one of Japan’s traditional seventy-two microseasons—see previously 

endless shrimp: the American seafood chain was private-equitied into bankruptcy and not by dent of its generous promotions—more here

first draft: in a since deleted post, Trump advocates for a “united Reich” in a video featuring hypothetical newspaper headlines following his reelection  

on the town: the story behind the ten-year-old who in 1947 spent a week in San Francisco with twenty dollars 

we call it maize: an interesting hypothesis that ancient Incan stonework and other architectural elements may be an homage to corn kernels  

out-of-order: broken and unused vending machines from around Japan—via Cardhousesee also

synchronoptica

one year ago: Croatia Diplomacy Day, a classic from David Bowie, an evergreen piece on American gun-violence plus assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: Ok Computer, a rainbow fifty pence coin for Pride, more feathered friends plus Amelia Earhart crosses the Atlantic

three years ago: your daily demon: Beleth, Elton John in the Soviet Union plus trace a raindrop from river down to the sea

four years ago: vintage Las Vegas logos, an avant-garde art show (1951) plus The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

five years ago: the White Night Riots (1979), regional airline logos, OK Cola, African air-carriers, one hundred and twenty years of photography plus a camera on a sushi conveyor belt

Saturday 23 March 2024

wall of sound (11. 446)

First debuted on this day in 1974 for a concert by the Grateful Dead (previously) at the venue of the California State Livestock Pavilion (the Cow Palace, an indoor arena on the outskirts of San Francisco), the monumental acoustic reinforcement system, consisting of some six hundred speakers and drawing twenty-six thousand watts of power, fulfilling lead designer Owsley “Bear” Stanley’s search for a self-correcting way to amplify the experience to an audience of a hundred-thousand projecting over a significant field of attendance without distortion (the audio crew could monitor what the crowd heard). Although the technical achievement was itself retired by October due to logistics involved in moving and reassembling the array, the advancement in fidelity led to an improved experience for all, made more practical and efficient once the Grateful Dead resumed touring in 1976.

Thursday 14 March 2024

ฯ€ (11. 420)

As our faithful chronicler reminds, today marks the annual celebration of the mathematical constant pi, expressed in US calendar conventions 3.14 (we also get the chance on the twenty-second of July, Pi Approximation Day, from the notional fraction known from the time of Archimedes—first observed in 1988 by physicist and curator of the the San Francisco Exploratorium Larry Shaw, and since designated by the US Congress and UNESCO as the International Day of Mathematics. Activities include learning about the irrational and transcendent number and its properties, memorising and reciting its digits, called piphilogy and relies on mnemonic techniques, such as composing so called piems—a portmanteau of the Greek symbol and poem in which the letter count of each word equals the corresponding digit: to the fourteenth decimal place, “How I want a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy chapters involving quantum mechanics,” and eating circular foods. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology also traditionally dispatched its college admissions decision letters to applicants on this day.

Wednesday 6 March 2024

over the psychic radio (11. 403)

Via Messy Nessy Chic, we are introduced to journalist by trade Grant Wallace, feature writer and then war correspondent in the 1890s to the end of World War I for the San Francisco Chronicler and Examiner whom also dabbled extensively as a screenwriter, author, Esperantist and erstwhile occultist—the extent of this preoccupation discovered after his death in 1954 in a cabin he had built in the woods outside of Camel-by-the-Sea. Archive, repository and laboratory for telepathy, or mental radio as Wallace characterised it, he produced hundred of detailed charts and diagrams reminiscent of sixteenth century alchemical illustrations but with a distinctly Art Nouveau flair (see also)—influenced by contemporary Egyptomania—as heuristic models for study on reincarnation and mediumship, with the dead as well as extraterrestrials, transcribing some messages over the course of his mostly secret and solitary research. Much more at the links above.

synchronoptica

one year ago: America’s Frozen Food Day plus assorted links  to revisit

two years ago: more links to enjoy plus a LIFE parody in poor taste (1970)

three years ago: your daily demon: Seere, the Zapruder film, a Banksy mural plus more links worth the revisit

four years ago: the Pillar of the Boatmen, the winnowing oar plus negative reviews of the great outdoors

five years ago: hauntology, the Period Table (1869), even more links, the fashions of Edward Gorey plus Soviet home computers

Friday 23 February 2024

london breed (11. 372)

With a population exceeding twenty precent of residents of Chinese descent, San Franciscan politicians have a long-standing practise of adopting a Sino-English campaign (whatever their heritage) including Chinese name, with what some critics characterise as at worst cultural appropriation and at least aggrandisement that has little to do with their actual names. The former policy of allowing, for instance a local magistrate running for re-election with a rather pedestrian name with the characters ็ฑณ้ซ˜็พฉ connoting “high” and “justice,” has been displaced by a cadre of translators commissioned by the city to come up with more phonetic translations, though not universally embraced as an improvement as some figures are closely associated with flowery and bombastic nicknames, hoping to preserve the label to avoid confusion, and the transliteration can be awkward and still convey unintentional entendre. More from Language Log at the link above, including in the abundant commentary how the US Food and Drug Administration (and most other competent authorities) prohibit trade names suggestive of efficacy, hence Pfizer’s vehement denial of any derivation for Viagra® and the Sanskrit เคต्เคฏाเค˜्เคฐः (vyฤghraแธฅ), tiger.

Tuesday 21 November 2023

we already feel (11. 130)

The latest Linkfest introduces us to the previously unpublished early music of Carola Baer, a UK-extract relocated to San Francisco in 1990. Homesick and isolated, Baer recorded an album over the course of several months on cassette and gave it the studio treatment, photocopying a cover for The Story of Valerie. Never releasing it, Baer lost the only copy—for it only to turn up in a rummage bin of a charity shop in Oregon twenty six years, and with the finder’s help, Baer was not only reunited with this personal artefact, it was also given a limited release with five hundred vinyl pressings. Much more at the links above.

Sunday 19 November 2023

laserium (11. 127)

Premiering on this night in 1973 at the Griffith Observatory in San Francisco when Ivan Dryer arranged to lease a laser projector from CalTech after disappointment upon reviewing a film he had commissioned as a laser-light show, insisting the audience experience the beauty and brilliance first hand, his presentation inspired companies and individuals to produce their own versions for various venues while launching his own national tour that lasted until 2002 and continues as special events through to the present. Though not certain if it was a part of the officially sanctioned road-show, I recall somewhere in East Texas circa 1992 seeing a rather nice spectacle beamed onto the faรงade of a court house or some big brick municipal building in the lead-up to Christmas when we’d drive around looking at decorations with musical accompaniment by the Indigo Girls (possibly just on the car’s radio though I’d like to remember it as on the PA, synchronized to the music nonetheless and that made me gay). I call on the resting soul of Galileo, king of night vision, king of insight.

Sunday 22 October 2023

11x11 (11. 070)

post-amazon era: monopsonic retailer’s workers’ are writing about the dystopian company to fight back—via Slashdot  

sublet: tech startups are relinquishing office space office space back to their landlords  

stop making sense: negative manifestos, rule-breaking and by defined by what one is not  

deci-lon 10: an outstanding collection of slide rules curated by the analogue computer’s appreciation society—named after their seventeenth century inventor, William Oughtred of Cambridge—via Web Curios  

dancing delicacies: 3-D printed plate and nano technologies promise interactive meals  

primer simposium tecno: a 1981 electronic music concert in Madrid  

piramida: updated plans for the restoration of Tirana’s Brutalist landmark  

destroilet: an automatic combustion plumbing solution popular in the 1960s and 70s 

down in the underground: agencies of the subsurface 

fiver: a new adaptation of Watership Down as a graphic novel 

proposition m: San Francisco passes a punitive tax of vacant housing speculation  

the faanmg index: the blush has worn off Amazon’s rose—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links (lot’s more to explore there)

 synchronoptica

one year ago:  brittle egos bristling at Karen’s Garden plus modern sundials

two years ago: the International Meridian Conference of 1884, The Last Picture Show plus an early alternative currency

three years ago: the father of psychophysics, red food dye, another failed doomsday prophecy plus the Humument series

five years ago: the US Gun Control Act of 1968, the WWII bombing of Kassel, the spread of disinformation, anticipatory libraries for other worlds plus RIP to the inventor of the Little Library

Thursday 17 August 2023

9x9 (10. 948)

?: JWST captures an image of a distinct punctuation mark from the emerging Cosmos  

a/v: a history of corporate presentations from slide-shows to Power Point—via Things Magazine  

index librorum prohibitorum: an American school district is using ChapGTP to help it decide which books to ban  

an unacceptable grindset: driven to produce quantity over quality has yielded some high-profile errors in popular YouTube channels  

one on one: legendary interviewer and television presenter Michael Parkinson passes away, aged 88  

emerald and stone: an ethereal track by Brian Eno (previously) visualised with water, soap and paint  

bart: a trove of Kodachrome slides found discarded in San Francisco reveal the construction of the Bay Area Rapid Transit—see also 

einstein’s crosses: astronomers probe the effects of gravitational lensing

 synchronoptica

one year ago: ABBA’s last collaboration plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: more links to enjoy, the first animated film (1908), the constant ฯ€ plus terra incognito

three years ago: a tragedy in Australia in 1980, Operation Warp Speed plus the Turkic dotted-i

four years ago: some links worth the revisit plus the Cosmos prior to the Big Bang

five years ago: Animal Farm (1945) plus the complex genes of food crops

Monday 17 July 2023

tรชte de pont (10. 891)

Within hours of the announcement that a deal brokered by Tรผrkiye that would allow vital Ukrainian grain shipments would be allowed to resume from Black Sea ports, forces attacked (sabotaged for the second time) the bridge linking the Russian mainland to the peninsula illegally annexed by Russian in 2014, prompting the Kremlin to call off the deal and continue its naval blockade. The overland corridor across the Kerch straits which allows would-be vacation-goers to bypass most of the war zone is also, according to Ukrainian military intelligence, a logistics hub for moving men and materiel deeper into Ukrainian territory and the multi-billion dollar, nineteen kilometres long bridge was considered a prestige project. The EU and UN accuse Russia of weaponising food staples as the embargo will only exacerbate shortage and inflation in developing nations dependent on these exports.

Sunday 28 May 2023

7x7 (10. 771)

schachtรผrke: a fraudulent chess-playing automaton launched the AI debate in 1770 

bart: the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit has new anime mascots—each of the characters has a backstory 

pattiegonia: facing the expected backlash from staunch conservatives after featuring a drag star in their ads, the North Face refused to back down—this is not a white flag 

beyond the yellow brick road: the reading that The Wizard of Oz is a Populist political allegory is kind of an incoherent mess, suggested over six decades after it was written—via Strange Company  

buena vista social club: a restored, enhanced 1972 tour of Disney World 

priority road: one individual’s quest to document the unusual, confusing traffic signs of Japan  

lexus nexus: lawyer turns to ChatGPT for help in finding precedence a client’s case, citing a wholly fabricated disputes and settlements—via Waxysee also

Saturday 8 April 2023

10x10 (10. 662)

never fearing guns or numbers like a tiger to its meat, the stranger then attacked the pirate fleet: a space-age sea-shanty by Duane Elms of Carmen Miranda’s Ghost, courtesy of Shadow Manor 

sorcerer’s apprentice: angry to have been out-manoeuvred by Disney’s lawyers, Florida governor declares all-out war against the theme park 

sea life: a 1923 chessboard designed by Max Esser for MeiรŸen—via ibฤซdem 

shelling out: a gallery of vintage Easter confections family album: being first on the scene to document shipwrecks is a generational business  

the tiffany network: an all-star roll for the 1978 fiftieth anniversary of the Columbia Broadcasting System  

blogoversary: a belated congratulations to Map Room as it reaches the milestone of twenty years of blogging  

late-stage sea-monkeys: targeted ads are generally promoting the worst possible version of a product  

bohemian grove: the secretive club back in the headlines after revelations of US Supreme Court Justice Thomas’ gifts included a trip to the exclusive retreat 

falmouth: the annual, international festival of maritime music returns in June

the egg war of the farallon islands (10. 660)

Regaling us with the strange tales of real and artificial scarcity and runaway inflation for the city of San Francisco flush with money owing to the Gold Rush (see previously) which seems like an apt allegory for modern San Francisco with the boom and bust of the native tech sector and the real estate market, Lit Hub contributor Lizzy Stark—via Strange Company—surveys the shortage of women and perishables through the price of eggs in California territory, the untenable fickleness of domesticated hens and turning to a seabird sanctuary for scavenging that dedicimated the local wild populations of auks, gulls and of pinnipeds from a rocky, treacherous outcropping in the bay. The cost of a dozen eggs in American markets today exacerbated by the tumultuous economy has nothing from back during the frontier days.

Sunday 5 March 2023

8x8 (10. 594)

parasols: brief animations on Marie Paccou’s sun-shades when spun  

the misalignment museum: an art installation dedicated to the future AI apocalypse serves as a warning to the present  

the pez outlaw: one individual’s disruption of the collectors’ market  

banana for scale: a handy converter—via Pasa Bon!  

curious crumbs of history: rating Nation Trust sites by their scones 

future archeologists: Funko Pop! is disposing of hundreds of thousands chibi pop-culture icons  

eliza doolittle: a 1966 chatbot had the same warnings as out modern experiments  

grand canons: stop-motion of everyday objects by Alain Biet

Monday 23 January 2023

6x6 (10. 492)

zhengyue 2: the second day of the Lunar New Year is considered the birthday of all dogs 

only took the m’f’er fifteen tries: Randy Rainbow lampoons Kevin McCartney with a parody of ‘Master of the House’ from Les Misรฉrables 

i shot the serif: US Department of State drops the typeface Times New Roman in favour of the more legible Calibri font  

yellow magic orchestra: watch performances by the Japanese group that created some of the most innovative and influential acts in electronic music  

odonymy: more open etymological street maps—see also  

tet: a short, hand-drawn game about cooking and serving a Vietnamese holiday meal—via Waxy

Wednesday 18 January 2023

9x9 (10. 479)

under the gavel: a distressed Twitter is auctioning off office furnishings from its San Francisco headquarters 

best mates: a meta-study of attracting and retaining intimate partners  

demidecimate: Microsoft announces layoff five percent of its workforce 

from permacrisis to polycrisis: selection of global buzzwords for 2023  

style guide: an eccentric alternate spelling circulated in a newspaper for three decades—without explanation or apology 

wellipets: frog-faced galoshes make a haute couture return 

©: Getty Images is filing suite against an AI art tool for scraping its content—via the new shelton wet/dry

fechtbรผcher: early Renaissance depicts of duels between men and women 

silicon valley: a tech bust might be a net positive for the city

Sunday 15 January 2023

shaken, not stirred (10. 417)

Here’s a selection of signature martinis to fit every mood and every palette of this spirit animal constructed on the template of gin—or vodka—and vermouth plus a bit of garnish. Namesake of the special drink of patrons of the Occidental Hotel of San Francisco would be offered before embarking on the ferry to Martinez in Contra Costa, the cocktail has undertaken, with the famous variant occurring in a dialogue the spy has with a barman in Casino Royale, changing his order from a dry martini to a special recipe of his own invention. “Just a moment: three measures of Gordon’s [gin], one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet; shake it very well until its ice cold, then add a large, thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?” Bond adds, “I’m going to patent it when I think of a good name.” Later, he names it in honour of MI6 coworker and double-agent Vesper Lynd. Though perhaps with a bit less of provenance and backstory, we did nonetheless like the inverted variations of the Astoria and Lifetime Ban and elegant Martini Sauvage—gin with chinato liqueur and orange bitters, mixed and chilled overnight.

Saturday 14 January 2023

human be-in (10. 414)

Considered an overture to the city’s Summer of Love, the 1967 counterculture event—the focus of the hippie movement’s rejection of staid, middle-class morality, occurred on this day on the Polo Fields of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, drawing a crowd of some thirty-thousand. In turn inspired by sit-in and teach-in protests to erode vestigial segregationist practises in institutes of higher learning, the gathering took its name from an off-hand remark made by psychedelic artist Michael Brown Bowen the Love Pageant Rally, held the previous October in the Haight-Ashbury district to demonstrate against the outlawing of LSD—where thousands showed up and dropped acid in unison, the above organiser bringing the Grateful Dead, Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters and Janis Joplin to the event. Among invited speakers and performers—also arranged by Bowen—were Ram Dass, Dick Gregory, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti with Timothy Leary making the declaration “Turn on, tune in and drop out” and local bands Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and the Dead, staple acts of the Avalon Ballroom concert. Follow-on events included the Fly-In, Sweep-In, Yip-In, Love-In and John and Yoko Ono Lennon’s Bed-In.

Saturday 7 January 2023

dei gratia, emperor of the united states and protector of mexico (10. 394)

Via JWZ, we are directed towards a recently uncovered cache of proclamations, carried in the newspapers no less, from Norton I (previously) on the 1868 smallpox epidemic that had arrived in San Francisco, commanding authorities of all cities on the Pacific ensure, under severe penality that 1) every person be vaccinated and that 2) teamsters driving persons to hospital shall not get drunk and leave their charges on the streets to spread contagion, and moreover 3) physicians shall change their clothing after attending patients and lastly that churches 4) expose and punish all persons who administer poisonous food and drinks during religious or political discussions. Much more at the links above.