Friday 24 November 2023

al 288-1 (11. 135)

Found on this day in 1974 in the Awash Valley near Hardar, Ethiopia by a team of paleoanthropologists led by Donald Johnson, the collection of fossilised bones making up about forty percent of a female Australoptithecus is commonly known as Lucy—after the Beatles’ song played repeatedly during the excavation—or by her Amharic designation แ‹ตแŠ•แ‰… แŠแˆฝ (Dink’inesh, you are marvellous). Hers and early less complete finds suggested that hominid bipedalism preceded and informed the increase in cranial capacity and intelligence. Falling on the anniversary of the initial publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1859, the three-million year old specimen, diminutive by today’s standards, quickly became a celebrity, captivating public interest in evolution, missing-links with the account of her discovery and reconstruction.

Sunday 1 October 2023

hre (11. 034)

Having committed quite some thoughts on the subject and even echoed the quip from Voltaire myself without realising the provenance or shallowness of the observation—that it was “neither Holy nor Roman nor an Empire”—we appreciated coming across this encapsulation of an introduction by Eleanor Janega on the anniversary of the beginning of the Congress of Vienna in 1814 when representatives and stakeholders of the former political union met to reconstitute European order and long-term peace after the downfall of Napoleon Bonaparte, whose campaigns spelled its dissolution after eight centuries of existence. There is vast a amount of history to cover, from Charlemagne and Henry Fowler to extension under the Hohenstaufen and the Hapsburgs but Dr Janega does a yeoman’s job in summarising the polity, which like under the Roman Empire enjoyed a good share of autonomy and retained local customs and culture.

Saturday 23 September 2023

life finds a way (11. 017)

Runner-up in the category of Urban Wildlife in the annual competition sponsored by Nature TTL, we were especially taken with this surreal image of a spider by Simone Baumeister captured from a pedestrian bridge’s railing that passes over the main intersection of Ibbenbรผren in the Mรผnsterland region using an analogue lens to diffuse the traffic lights and passing cars at night and produce a bokeh effect. Much more superlative photography at the links above.

Thursday 14 September 2023

storm daniel (11. 000)

First affecting Greece and Turkey with massive floods before reorganising itself as a low front over the Mediterranean and overwhelming dams and causing a catastrophic breach in the Lebanese port city of Derna, the cyclone forming in the Ionian sea has proved the deadliest and most expensive event of the year, only just now dissipating with tens of thousands of casualties and exponentially more displaced. A quarter of the the ancient city was washed away with entire neighbourhoods unaccounted for, seeming carried to the sea. The unconscionable scale of the disaster is attributed in part of years of neglected infrastructure maintenance under the regime of of Muammar Gaddafi followed by civil war but the extreme weather is also on account of the effects of runaway climate change.

synchronoptica

one year ago: The Waltons (1972), spreading seeds plus an AI illustrated Bible

two years ago: assorted links to revisit plus rice harvest art

three years ago: one of the first laws enshrining freedom of the press (1770), explaining the year 2020 to someone from the past plus music to move by

four years ago: seeing the tarnish of the golden era plus RIP Eddie Money

five years ago: Trump downplays deaths in Hurricane Maria, a new Russian cathedral, Jimmy Carter Says Yes, more on calendar reforms plus Trump’s campaign manager in court

Wednesday 30 August 2023

)|( (10. 971)

Via Hyperallergic, we are introduced to the art of Victor Ekpuk through an exhibit revealing social injustice through a patteran of secret symbols developed by the Ekpe of southeastern Nigeria called Nsibidi (see previously). As a contributor to the state-run press under the dictatorship of General Ibrahim Babangida in the 90s, Ekpuk developed his practise, along with satire and allegory, in defiance of increasing government censorship to call attention to corruption and inequality. More to explore at the links above.

 synchronoptica

one year ago: the Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo, Britain’s Manhattan Project plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: a collection of news music, more links to enjoy, Hey Jude (1968) plus a headline grabbing spectacle from 1871

three years ago: the Washington-Moscow hotline (1963) plus suburban, subterranean fantasy worlds

five years ago: more links worth revisiting,  Everybody Dance Now, plus a Rex Factor-style podcast on the lives of the popes

six years ago: kudzu farming

Monday 17 July 2023

photos of the anthropocene (10. 890)

We found this gallery of images of the permanent scars that human activity has been inflicting on the planet since the early 1950s curated in response to the retroactive inauguration of the new, dread geological epoch. All the photographs in the project portfolio are unbelievable and terrible to contemplate but we were especially taken with this view of potash-extracting operations in the Urals, mining for this vital fertiliser ingredient underground causes this spiralling pattern that resembles a trilobite fossil.

synchronoptica 

one year ago: Handel’s Water Music (1717) plus a visit to Amersfoort, downriver from Amsterdam

two years ago: Emoji Day plus the shores of Lake Vรคnern, Sweden

three years ago: the Feast of the Romanovs and their Domestics, a working couple’s cookbook plus Banksy’s lockdown tags

four years ago: more on Emoji Day plus forward basing of nuclear arsenals

five years ago: Yellow Submarine (1968), a living, incognito Pride flag, more on Trump and Putin, anti-car-sickness glasses plus the British royal family adopts the surname Windsor (1917)

Friday 7 July 2023

jya (10. 864)

Sponsored by the University of Delaware, the first study abroad programme for US undergraduate students set sail this day in 1923 for Nancy under the guidance of chaperone and French professor Raymond Kirkbride with a group of eight junior year students attending six-weeks of intensive language courses before moving on the study at The Sorbonne in France. The school at first balked at the idea and refused to fund the outing (see also) but finally relented after a public appeal and private contributions by business magnate Pierre s du Pont and then-commerce secretary Herbert Hoover. The scheme to various centres of culture across the globe was adopted by other institutions of higher learning and considered a great success in terms of exposure and producing well-rounded graduates, though the popularity of such terms abroad has declined in recent years.

synchronoptica 

one year ago: assorted links to revisit plus an avid eighteenth century vulcanologist

two years ago: the invention of sliced bread (1928), the US reestablishes its navy and starts a proxy war (1798) plus a trip to Fladungen

three years ago: the portfolio of titleist Maurice Binder plus the castles and forts of the Moselle 

four years ago: the border between Spain and Gibraltar closed (1969), space for pollinators plus passing English of the Victorian Era

five years ago: more links to revisit plus Gabriel over the White House (1933)

Thursday 25 May 2023

8x8 (10. 765)

simply the best: tributes pour in from around the world for the Queen of Rock and Roll, Tina Turner—previously

fabric swatches meticulously arranged: piecing together the mystery of the dress diary of Missus Anne Sykes—via Nag of the Lake  

midnight train: routes of Europe’s overnighters—see previously—via Kottke  

pasteurised prepared cheese product: attempts at rehabilitating the impoverished state of American caseiculture  

cotton tree: Sierra Leone’s iconic landmark brought down by a heavy storm  

ะบะพะฝั†ะตะฟั‚ัƒะฐะปัŒะฝั‹ะน ะบะพะฝัะตั€ะฒะฐั‚ะธะทะผ: chief of Russian mercenary forces, retreating from Bakhmut, says that the offensive in Ukraine has backfired  

chintzy: a history of the calico, block printed textile

hollywood babylon: occultist and underground maker of experimental short films, Kenneth Anger has passed away—see previously

Saturday 20 May 2023

nine kings, one room (10. 755)

Photographed on this day in 1910 at Windsor Place by the studio of W & D Downey, these nine sovereigns, King Haakon VII or Norway, Czar Ferdinand of Bulgaria, King Manuel II of Portugal, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, King George I of Greece, King Albert I of Belgium, King Alfonso XIII of Spain, Emperor George V of the United Kingdom and King Frederick VIII of Denmark, were gathered for the funeral of George’s immediate predecessor, Edward VII (Albert Edward Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, called “Bertie”) and considered the Uncle of Europe by dint of his relatedness to all assembled (plus a non-zero chance of being the father of Winston Churchill and grandfather of Queen Camilla), whom had died on 6 May after suffering a series of massive heart attacks. Excluded for the most part from participation in regnal duties during his six decade wait on his mother, Queen Victoria, to leave office, Edward pursued the life of leisure of the privileged elite, travelling, gambling and earning the reputation of a playboy prince, taking on several liaisons (by some counts fifty-five, see above) and frequenting an exclusive brothel in Paris, Le Chabanais, a private room kitted out with his coat of arms and a custom made siege d’amour to allow the by then corpulent heir abilities to fornicate with multiple individuals at once. Though already past average life-expectancy at the time of his enthronement and with lower overall expectations for this last monarch to exercise political power, the legacy of the short reign of Edward saw the transition into constitutionally-bound sovereignty, was forward thinking and inclusive, especially for the time, and tried to keep peace amongst his nephews and was as capable of being dignified as he was indulgent.

Friday 28 April 2023

8x8 (10. 703)

iter vestrum: a journey to the ends of the Roman Empire with contemporary routing guides—see previously 

the bartender’s travelling book: the secret history of the drinks recipe anthology that has crossed the globe 

eigengrau: a colour palette of what people report to see with their eyes closed—see previously—via Web Curios 

chirper: a social media network only for AI—via ibฤซdem  

casas del turuรฑuelo: first figural representations of the Bronze Age Tartessian culture found, an Iberian people spuriously linked to the myth of Atlantissee also 

aurabesh: a very thorough Star Wars inspired typeface—see also—via Kottke 

toby mug: an assortment of East End brewery labels  

bradshaw’s guide: a travelogue of modern Europe with a Victorian era itinerar—check out Messy Nessy’s new look

Saturday 18 March 2023

visoka moda (10. 618)

Via the always excellent Everlasting Blรถrt, we are referred to the Socialist fashions of Yugoslavia’s premier designer, Aleksandar Joksimoviฤ‡. First assigned to create work uniforms for the City of Belgrade’s Institute for Household Improvement, the artist’s creations were a fusion of Serbo-Croat folk costumes and national dress and the revolutionary styles of the 1960s, with a nod to mod as well as to medieval Byzantine-influenced attire. More from Europeana (and grateful for the reminder to check out that institution) at the link above.

Sunday 12 March 2023

7x7 (10. 606)

the festival of the horse and the boys ploughing match: rambunctious ancient traditions and their modern observance across the British Isles—see previously  

depth: AI generated journal entry prompts cinematic adaptation: a literary guide to tonight’s Academy Awards 

l’hiver en suisse: travel posters by illustrator Emil Cardinaux  

indigenous futurisms: a look at non-Western visions of the future through the lens of unique cosmologies  

acceptance speech: the unexpected and gracious win for Marisa Tomei in 1993 for My Cousin Vinny

stable diffusion: researchers claim an AI can interpret brain-scans and recreate images of what subjects see 

wild isles: BBC criticised not broadcasting final episode of David Attenborough series on habitat loss over apparent fears of right-wing backlash—coupled with another furore over media bias

Saturday 28 January 2023

gang nach kanossa (10. 505)

Absolved and seeing his excommunication overturned, Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV completed his ritual submission with his long journey from Speyer on the Road to Canossa on this day in 1077, humbling himself before Pope Gregory VII at a villa in Tuscany where the papal entourage was staying as guests. Supplicating on his hands and knees while a blizzard raged for three days and nights before the Pope relented, Henry arrived with precious little time to spare as the Pope had deposed him during a Lenten synod in 1076 and vouchsafed that one year from that day, his loss of kingships would become irrevocable. Henry’s excommunication and forced abdication stemmed from the ongoing Investiture Controversy, a dispute over the precedence in civil and ecclesiastical authorities in appointing bishops and local clergy, whose loyalties could potentially either church or state, exacerbated after the suppression of the Saxon Uprising and the unilateral elevation of the bishopric of Milan with obedience to secular power—Henry being the Italian monarchy as well. In modern parlance, “going to Canossa” has become an idiom for mission of contrition—usually of the coerced kind, and though a colourful moment, it did not achieve political goals for either party, a rebellion stoked by the archbishops of Salzburg, Mainz and Magdeburg over loss of confidence in his leadership sparked a civil war within the Empire despite the Pope vows for support led to Gregory excommunicating Henry a second time, who having won the conflict, invaded Rome and replaced the fleeing Gregory with Antipope Clement III.

Sunday 8 January 2023

fourteen points (10. 398)

Delivered in an address to Congress, outlining his administrations aims for the war and negotiated settlement, US president Woodrow Wilson on this day in 1918 enumerated his principles for peace, having rather reluctantly joining the Triple Entente against the Central Powers the spring prior due to Germany’s disruption of transatlantic shipping and trade (II) with France and Britain and the interception of a secret diplomatic communication proposing an alliance between Mรฉxico and Germany. Adopting progressive, domestic practises as foreign policy goals—though regarded by allies as a touch naive and idealistic—Wilson derided secret treaties (I) and championed free trade (III), public agreements, democratic hallmarks and above all self-determination, decolonisation (V) and recognition of national ambitions as a preventative measure of realising those aspirations through violence. Other bullet points covered arms reduction (IV), sovereignty for constituent Soviet republics (VI), restoration of Belgium, Balkan and French territories (VII, XI, VIII), redrawing Italian, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman borders along lines of nationality (IX,X, XII), an independent Poland (XIII) and supranational organisation to enforce political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike (XIV), a covenant that would eventually lead to the establishment of the League of Nations and its successors.

Friday 30 December 2022

cccp/cpcp (10. 371)

While recognised as a union of soviet republics since 1919 with a federated, central government based in Moscow, the Soviet Union as it existed (though borders were not static during the seventy-two year period) until its dissolution in 1991 came into being effective this day in 1922 after the signing of the Treaty on the Creation of the Union Soviet Socialist Republics (ะ”ะตะบะปะฐั€ะฐั†ะธั ะธ ะดะพะณะพะฒะพั€ ะพะฑ ะพะฑั€ะฐะทะพะฒะฐะฝะธะธ ะกะพัŽะทะฐ ะกะพะฒะตั‚ัะบะธั… ะกะพั†ะธะฐะปะธัั‚ะธั‡ะตัะบะธั… ะ ะตัะฟัƒะฑะปะธะบ), negotiated and approved by delegations from the Russian, Byelorussian, Transcauscasian (containing Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia) and Ukrainian SSRs. The preamble and twenty-six articles outlines the imperative of forging a union as a counterweight to the political ideology of responsible for the Great War through exploitative capitalism, colonialism cultural hegemony with a transnational society based on mutual trust, solidarity and cooperation.

Thursday 22 December 2022

rzฤ…d rzeczypospolitej polskiej na uchodลบstwie (10. 354)

Established in 1939 after the invasion and annexation by the Nazis in September 1939 and exerting considerable influence diplomatically and militarily throughout World War II and subsequent occupation by German and Soviet forces which effectively ended the Second Polish Republic, the government-in-exile, first based in Paris and Angers and following the Fall of France, continued its caretaker role—albeit it with waning internation recognition after the formation of the Provisional Government of National in 1945, opposed by the majority of the diaspora as demonstrative democracy and the chance for Communists to assert power—a suspicion that proved correct, until its dissolution on this day in 1990, when president in exile Ryszard Kaczorowski passed the responsibilities, constitution and state seals to Lech Waล‚ฤ™sa of Poland’s Third Republic during a special ceremony at the royal palace of Warsaw.

Sunday 11 December 2022

projekt panropa (10. 378)

Having previously been acquainted with the monumental madness by Bauhaus, utopian architect Hermann Sรถrgel and his plans to dam and drain the sea to make one vast arable expanse from southern Europe through north Africa, we were quite pleased to come across this illustrated 1929 pamphlet “Lowering the Mediterranean / Irrigating the Sahara,” (Mittelmeer-Senkung. Sahara-Bewรคsserung) which in all fairness didn’t call for its total emptying, just enough to harness it for hydroelectric power and diminution enough to rename it after his project and promote a nascent transatlanticism to counter a perceived ascendant Asia. Of course, this titanic engineering project never left the drawing board but it nonetheless gives pause to contemplate the ideas that we do end up running with and how those inform our accomplished present trajectories. More at the links above.

Saturday 26 November 2022

everybody comes to rick’s (10. 336)

Based on an unproduced stage play, prolific Hungarian-American filmmaker Michael Curtiz’ vision of the war time romantic drama starring Ingrid Berman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Humphrey Bogart, Sydney Greenstreet and Dooley Wilson had its premiere in the Hollywood Theatre in Manhattan on this day in 1942, the release rushed to capitalise on publicity of the Allied invasion of North Africa. Telling the story of an expatriate night club owner, a crossroads for refugees as well as enemy officers, who is forced to choose between the woman he is in love with or helping her husband, a Czechoslovakian resistance fighter escape Moroccan city controlled by the Vichy-government and continue his fight against Nazi Germany, the reception and estimation of the iconic work has grown over the decades to secure it a solid spot amongst the greatest films of all time. Much of the emotional impact for contemporary audiences was attributed to the number of exiles and refugees in principal and lesser roles—particularly in the below “duelling anthems” that elicited genuine tears with the realisation that they were all displaced. The singer, who also played guitar to “Tango de la Rosa” earlier in the movie is the uncredited Corinna Mura.

Thursday 24 November 2022

salient factor (10. 331)

Whereas the American term panhandle or bootheel might be more prevalent in certain contexts, salient is the universal descriptor for the elongated, peninsular protrusion of a national or sub-national jurisdiction into another—in turn taken from the strategic lingo of otherwise a bulge that projects into enemy territory. While falling short of the imposition of exclaves and enclaves, notable European examples include the province of Trieste, Schaffhausen in Germany and Inn, Lugano and Mendriso in Switzerland as well as on a state or department level the Gironde and Lower Franconia with many other places vying to extend their influence.

Monday 7 November 2022

able archer (10. 279)

The third of the annual NATO command post exercise to train Western Europe units for escalating nuclear conflict and prompted by intelligence that suggested under code-name Operation RYaN (ะ ะฏะ, “Nuclear Missile Attack,” ะ ะฐะบะตั‚ะฝะพ ะฏะดะตั€ะฝะพะต ะะฐะฟะฐะดะตะฝะธะต) a coordinated campaign to monitor decision-makers in government and military hierarchies for the intent to launch a first strike against the Soviet Union and a string of infiltration maneuvers on both sides to see to what extent that spies could penetrate the opposing sides’ defences before detection, the war game, began on this day in 1983. The added sense of realism to the execution with coded communiques and radio black-outs in light of increased rhetoric from Ronald Reagan (sabre-rattling that was taken with dread earnestness) and the scheduled delivery of additional missiles for staging in the theatre, reportedly caused some in Soviet leadership to believe that Able Archer 83 was a ruse de guerre to distract from actual preparations and placed units in Poland and East Germany on high alert and began priming their fuses. Tensions as high as during the Cuban Missile Crisis two decades earlier, the Chief of Staff for the US Air Force in Europe convinced Washington not to respond in kind, de-escalating the situation by the end of the simulation.