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.

synchronoptica

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 3 April 2024

it’s horseradish to me (11. 466)

Language Hat directs our attention to an interesting comparative discussion of vulgar expressions of indifference across different idiomatic phrases, linking to an isogloss of colourful terms, prompted by asking what equivalents were there to the relatively new and niche “ZFG,” like the more polite Russian version above. The accompanying image is from the 2021 film Rien ร  foutre which is a considered to have the corresponding meaning in French. While these may not be in common parlance and not necessarily the default (especially in polite company), it is an engrosssing look at contemptuous dismissiveness and how other languages do not fall into the negation trap that the straightforward English rendition sometimes carries with “I could care less” versus “I couldn’t care less” plus related sayings, like the figure of speech “you can’t have your cake and eat it [too]”—variants of the proverbial language fossil quoted by such writers as Jonathan Swift, Ayn Rand’s John Galt and Ted Kaczynski in the Unabomber manifesto (who’s particular turn of phrase helped lead to his apprehension)—which by dent of its similar and somewhat impenetrable logic gives rise to a cakeist factor who wish for two desirable but exclusive alternatives. The Italian version, probably the least rustic in literal translation, Volere la botte piena e la mogile ubriaca, goes something akin to wanting both the full barrel of wine and the wife drunk.

Thursday 28 March 2024

encore une fois (11. 456)

Compiled in recognition of the approaching fortieth anniversary of Neunundneuzig Luftballons in translation for international audiences, a full year after its original release as a single in March of 1984, we appreciated this playlist, surely courting controversy for what’s left out, of the best of Euro Pop by UK charts. The rankings include Falco (see above), Enigma (see also), Trio and Desireless plus some of those outside the golden age of the genre, like O-Zone and Iceland’s Sigur Rรณs. Which energy complements yours?

synchronoptitica

one year ago: an abecedarium of American foodways, AI images of the Pope plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: social murder plus Gilbert and Sullivan on the battlefield

three years ago: heritage pasta, pirate radio plus the year of the five emperors

four years ago: more links to enjoy, the asteroid Pallas plus a classic Oldsmobile

five years ago: a darker side of cherry blossoms, Istanbul not Constantinople (1930) plus a time lapse of the distant future

Friday 23 February 2024

10x10 (11. 374)

walden 7: photographer Sebastian Weiss captures the epic nature of an outstanding apartment block in Barcelona 

shootball: January Sixth themed pinball machines and other Republican swag at the Conservative Political Action Conference—see previously 

swimming with sharks: an overview of the hidden terror that’s haunted, informed humanity for millennia  

google blobs: the animated emoji character set that ought to be brought back—via Web Curios 

38°n: a news source on North Korea rex melly: the riches of Mansa Musa of the Mail Empire—adjusting for inflation and other factors, possibly the wealthiest person in history 

shift to socials: Vice Media is folding, laying off hundreds of journalists—via Waxysee more  

pale usher: introducing a blog mini-series on Moby Dick with a curious etymology  

every sperm is sacred: following the ruling in Alabama that grants personhood to frozen embryos—and the subsequent suspension of IVF treatment for fear of legal implications—conservative think tank forming Trump’s policy wants to end recreational sex 

batpole: homes with alternate stairwells—see previously

Sunday 28 January 2024

there’s a choice we’re making—we’re saving our own lives (11. 301)

Written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, organised by Harry Belafonte and produced and conducted by Quincy Jones, the supergroup USA (United Support of Artist) for Africa (inspired by Band Aid’s success from the year before) gathered at A&M studios in Hollywood on this day in 1985 to record the charity single. Over forty-five of America’s most popular musicians and celebrities, including Billy Joel, Ray Charles, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Paul Simon, Willie Nelson, Bruce Springsteen and Dionne Warwick, were involved in the project with solos and as part of the chorus—with more than fifty turned away—arriving to be greeted by a delegation Stevie Wonder and Charles, who threatened the artists if the song wasn’t done in one take, the two blind men, would be everyone’s chauffeurs for that evening, and a note pinned to the studio door to please check their egos here. Released five weeks later on 7 March, the song raised over sixty-three million dollars that went directly to relief funds for areas hardest hit by the famine affecting the continent and continues contributions through charitable foundations and tribute renditions for other humanitarian crises and has gone on to become among the most popular and purchased commercial singles.

synchronoptica

one year ago: a match monopoly, going to Canossa plus the Ceremony of the Keys

two years ago: another NFT minting operation plus a video game game show

three years ago: the execution of a Scottish witch 

four years ago: the musical stylings of Rupa Sen, train headboards, American Type Founders plus more on manicules

five years ago: assorted links worth revisiting, WiFi names, yellow jackets and red scarves, Trump lifts sanctions against Russia, Casa Dรฉcor plus propaganda kimonos

Friday 19 January 2024

soyuzmultfilm (11. 279)

Though hesitant and selective about linking to anything on the site formerly known as Twitter—it’s lamentable that such a mainstay has that many still depend on and there’s precious little alternative has eroded so much—this recommendation from Web Curios that exclusively shares short clips of Eastern European vintage animation from the 60s through the 80s (see also) is a delightful and serendipitous exception. Most cartoons include information about the director, animator and studio and the ones from Zagreb Films are certainly worth following up for more.

synchronoptica

one year ago: the Anglican Church on same-sex marriage plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: put these Wikipedia entries in chronological order plus more links to enjoy

three years ago: a contentious logo, a TikTok sensation invited to the US presidential inauguration, the internet was a mistake, Brass in Pocket (1980) plus the Clinton Inauguration (1993)

four years ago: artist Sophie Taeuber Arp, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the Three Stooges take on Nazi Germany plus more on the US Space Force

five years ago: a creative outlet comes to SoHo, women’s suffrage in Germany and Austria plus a giga-pixel picture

Sunday 7 January 2024

chorioactis geaster (11. 251)

Appearing only in parts of Texas (recognised as the official state fungi since 2021), Oklahoma and Japan, this leathery star-shaped (usually seven-pointed) flower-like mushroom is delighting mycologists, professionals and amateurs alike. Nothing quite so uncommon, the Lone Star State mushroom also nicknamed the Devil’s Cigar as it is reported

to produce an audible hiss (quite a rare ability at least for the human range of hearing) before unfurling from a clylindrical shape to release spores, but after the thaw, we’ve been noticing quite a few winter funguses distinct from the autumnal ones that we are most accustomed to encountering,
like this formation of hair ice (Haareis) that we thought at first were patches of frost but is a phenomena that occurs when weather conditions are just right, damp and humid and just at the freezing point when ice forms on the substate of a specific kind of mould (Exidiopsis effusa, not identified as the catalyst until 2015) growing on dead wood. The resulting strands and curls, however, are not formed on this fungus but rather extruded, expressed in the shape of ephemeral fine hairs before they sublimate away, though a still unknown mechanism and chemistry.

Tuesday 12 December 2023

10x10 (11. 184)

arrows of time: a timeline tracing the evolution of human understanding through various magisteria—via the new shelton wet/dry  

horary quandrant: oldest dated English time-keeping instrument goes under the hammer—see previously  

guten morgen: the newly launched Nightjet service between Berlin and Paris marks a return of sleeper trains—see previously 

the beef and dairy network: industry delegates and lobbyists triple at COP28 

theory of mind: researchers reveal a deep chasm in how perception varies from individual to individual  

animation v physics: Alan Becker’s follow on video to Animation v Maths—via Waxy  

oed: the joys of exploring the authoritative dictionary—see previously  

rewind: carbon removal technology is also a time-machine—though presently only able to move the needle a little—via Good Internet 

 the year in search: Google presents its annual review  

the great scrollback: the Verge’s features the best archived tweets

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