Saturday 24 February 2024

joe’s hill (11. 378)

Via tmn circling back to this viral map of the island of Kiritmati and select toponyms of the Republic of Kiribati (Christmas Island, pronounced Kirimass after the Gilbertese phonology, quite a feat of exonymy) piqued our curiosity—especially the debunked detail, rumour that the government of the Micronesian nation was behind the original posting to draw attention which has nevertheless attracted a spike in interest and has helped its campaign to promote sustainable tourism for this paradise existentially threatened by sea-level rise. Just so you know, Paris is a former settlement with a coconut plantation named by priest Emmanuel Rougier who was homesick, also through a lease from the British named the village Londres (London, Ronton). Poland was named in honour of mechanic Stanisล‚aw Peล‚czyล„ski who improved the island’s irrigation systems. The village of Banana, possibly conflated with the reef isle of Banaba, is of unknown etymology, but was designated such in 1962 when four thousand American military personnel were stationed there in support of Operation Dominic, a series of thirty-one multi-pronged nuclear tests carried out in response to the resumption of Soviet trials following the breach of an informal moratorium and the Bay of Pigs Invasion. It is near the international airport. The oldest and largest village of the island chain is Tabwakea, native for sea turtle be bestowed by Captain James Cook. The title refers to the highest point of the atoll, originally la Colline de Joe, a twelve metre elevation named after Joe English of Medford, Massachusetts, one of the supervisors of Rougier’s coconut farm.  Under US dominion as a claim of the Guano Islands Act from 1882, independence was granted in 1979 and ratified in 1983.

Saturday 10 February 2024

loong (11. 339)

This day marks the transition from the Year of the Water Rabbit to the Wood Dragon, a sixty year cycle of attributes within the twelve year shengxiao, “born resembling,” astrological procession. Also a Poseidon-like deity with each self-respecting body of water ruled by a Dragon King, the one zodiacal sign (reckoned by following the orbit of Jupiter, ๆญฒๆ˜Ÿ, the Year Star, through the sections, houses of the heavens) without a real-world counterpart (temporarily replaced in China by the Giant Panda during the Cultural Revolution but returned shortly due to popular demand) considered an especially auspicious one and has an analogue in the Western sign Scorpio. Though considered lucky for those born during these years, from a prognostic perspective, it is difficult to read except as progress with a price, a time of energy and upheaval tempered to an extent by wood (ๆœจ, wuxing) having the characteristics of endurance and flexibility.

Saturday 11 November 2023

clip show (11. 111)

The 1976 musical documentary by Susan Wilson that juxtaposed Beatles covers with newsreel combat footage and propaganda vignettes that was roundly rejected by critics and audiences was released on this day in 1976 and pulled from cinemas after less than two weeks of screenings. Shrewdly realising that money was to be made from the soundtrack with new renditions by popular artists, the accompanying film score debuted three weeks earlier and generated far more revenue than the movie, remanded mostly to obscurity outside of a few airings that attracted a cult-like fascination with several charting singles like Rod Stewart’s “Get Back,” Elton John’s “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” the Bee Gees’ “Carry That Weight,” Helen Reddy doing a version of “Fool on the Hill,” Tina Turner on “Come Together” and introducing Peter Gabriel with “Strawberry Fields Forever.” It was rumoured that Monty Python cartoonist Terry Gilliam was approached to contributed animated interstitials but that was apparently untrue. As singular as this enterprise seems, All This and World War II was inspired by a documentary by Philippe Mora from the previous year called Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? made up of newsreel footage and interspersed with clips from contemporary films and songs as a scrapbook of the Depression Era through the Attack on Pearl Harbour, with musical selections from Cab Calloway, Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, Woody Guthrie, Busby Berkley and the Andrews Sisters. More from Open Culture at the link above.

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit, MacArthur Park, the Feast of St Menas plus Kurt Vonnegut Jr at 100

two years ago: more links to enjoy, 3 quarks daily, superannuated image formats, Bliss symbols, an autumnal walk plus more out of the way wanderings

three years ago: the Trizone anthem, more links worth the revisit plus an observatory receives a new name

four years ago: the Feast of St Martin plus early generative text

five years ago: the Armistice of 1918, more assorted links plus a Bosch-bot

Thursday 9 November 2023

zaglossus attenboroughi (11. 105)

Rediscovered during a lengthy expedition in Indonesia’s Cyclops mountains six decades after its last reported sighting, the long-beaked echidna—named after the famed naturalist, feared extinct (taxidermied specimen pictured), the nocturnal, burrowing creature, a monotreme that lays eggs like the equally unusual duck-billed platypus, is a living fossil (see also) that coexisted with the dinosaurs, branching off from the mainstream emergent mammals over two hundred million years ago. Named for the mythological แผœฯ‡ฮนฮดฮฝฮฑ—She Viper and mother of all monsters—due to their shared reclusive and chimeric nature, the mammal is embedded in local Papuan culture as a conflict resolution mediator, one side of the disputing parties dispatched on an errant quest to the remote and wild mountains to find an echidna and the other to the sea to find a marlin, a task that could take years and removes the conflict from the community and gives an enduring reprieve from fighting.

Sunday 23 July 2023

9x9 (10. 901)

effective altruism: FTX lobbyist tried to purchase the island nation of Nauru as a doomsday bunker and create a genetically enhanced human species  

getting drunk at a disco: 1977 found footage of an evening not necessarily going downhill 

this is not a love poem: a round-up of favourites that are not all lovey-dovey—via tmn  

rambler: a collection of illustrated exteriors of California ranch homes—see also

1975: Kuala Lumpur authorities shut down the Good Vibes festival after headliner Matty Healy criticised Malaysia’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws  

point of no return: time is running out on the Climate Clock  

stooping: trend adopted by Chinese young people involves decorating with cast-off furniture left by the curb 

smokey, this is not ‘nam—this is bowling, there are rules: Big Lebowski (previously) inspired bowling alley via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links (lots more to explore there) 

typoglycemia: bypassing chatbot’s ethical subroutines using word scrambling and transposed letters

Tuesday 11 July 2023

operation sober popeye (10. 872)

Also known under the codenames Motorpool and Intermediary-Compatriot and repudiated as an unacceptable tactic in warfare after leaks in the Pentagon Papers and unwelcome press coverage with a US Senate resolution passed on this day in 1973, the military cloud-seeding program carried out from 1967 to 1972 attempted chemical modification of the weather with the aim of extending monsoon seasons and disrupting the North Vietnamese supply-chain along the Ho Chi Minh Trail by soften road surfaces and causing landslides. Operations in secret extended over Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. Despite its highly classified nature, the 54th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, the unit chiefly responsible for the tests, publicly and prominently used the slogan “make mud, not war.” The American people deciding that such measures had no place on the battlefield, weather disruption falls presently under the auspices of the Environmental Modification Convention.  

synchronoptica 

one year ago: the Hollywood Bowl (1922), Avogadro’s Number (1811) plus Fischer v Spassky (1972)

two years ago: Fleetwood Mac by Fleetwood Mac (1975) plus a megalithic stone ship in Sweden

three years ago: a visit to the Ehrenburg on the Ehrbach

four years ago: a delayed release of “Space Oddity” (1969), the uncontrolled deorbit of Skylab (1979) plus France approves a digital services tax scheme

five years ago: a collection of samurai clan banners, a disclaimer on social media that comes too late, America’s garbage politicians sit for a family photos plus Trump attends a NATO summit

Tuesday 4 July 2023

station to station (10. 856)

After the penultimate show of his Ziggy Star Dust world tour in 1973, David Bowie who was then suffering from a fear of flying took a ship from Yokohama to Vladivostok and then the Trans-Siberian Railway back to England, with various whistle-stops along the whistle stops along the way, including the May Day Victory Parade in Moscow. This week-long trip was documented by Bowie himself, with a 16mm videography entitled “The Long Way Home” and by friend and bandmate Geoff MacCormack (also known by the stage name Warren Peace)—meeting fans, drinking sessions with soldiers and sailors and giving impromptu performances, and is on exhibit at the Wende Museum of the Cold War in Culver City, California with an especially curated soundtrack.

Sunday 21 May 2023

put on your red shoes and dance the blues (10. 758)

The artist’s first song to top the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, the lead single off the fifteenth studio album of the same name (also with the tracks “China Girl” and “Modern Love”) climbed to number one on this day in 1983 and features the instrumental talent of sessions blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan—David Bowie only contributing vocals for the first time in his recording career. The album was first released on 14 April followed a few days later by the music video by David Mallet (previously), filmed in New South Wales, premiering on the UK rock show The Tube with Jools Holland, is a metaphor for the hegemony of Western culture. This release kicked of Bowie’s “Serious Moonlight” world tour.

Tuesday 21 March 2023

goodwill sample displays (10. 626)

Reversing his tone from a wide-ranging and contentious press conference delivered five days before that forbid the Federal Bureau of Investigations from turning over its findings to a special congressional committee investigating the Watergate burglary and threatened to re-enter the Vietnam War and eliciting such a negative public response that a law was passed prohibiting the US from engaging in conflict in Indochina without the approval of Congress, Richard Nixon on this day in 1973 distributed fragments of lunar rocks to the fifty states of American and every country of the world collected during the final Apollo mission. Presented on wooden plaques with a miniture flag that went into the orbit around the Moon and back, each gift (see also) included a message of peace, acknowledging that the exploration of our satellite was an international effort and than humankind could surely achieve harmony on Earth.

Saturday 18 March 2023

because it’s there (10. 619)

Entering the lexicon as the standard response for a risky or impossible undertaking, mountain climber George Mallory gave his reply to an interviewer from the New York Times when asked about his participation in the first two unsuccessful expeditions to the summit of Mount Everest (เฝ‡ོ་เฝ˜ོ་เฝ‚ླเฝ„་เฝ˜, Chomolunga—เคธเค—เคฐเคฎाเคฅा, Sagarmฤthฤ) on this day in 1923—adding his intention to try again the following year. During this climb, Mallory and his partner, Andrew Irvine, disappeared somewhere on the northeastern face near the summit, with their fate unknown until the discovery of their bodies in 1999—there being conjecture that they made it to the top and were on their way down. Edmund Hillary, whom along with Tenzing Norgay (เฝ–เฝฆྟเฝ“་เฝ เฝ›ིเฝ“་เฝ“ོเฝข་เฝขྒྱเฝฆ), are credited with reaching the peak first, welcomed the news, of a party achieving this goal three decades ahead of them, calling Mallory the pioneer and original enthusiast.

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

Monday 6 March 2023

9x9 (10. 596)

destination berlin: a Royal Military Police guide to the divided city from 1988—see also

geodomesticeerde: one Dutch rancher spearheading the protest against livestock reductions 

gado gado: the Indonesia version of the cult Cobb salad that may be the best in the world—via Dig

fret and fingerbรธard: a guitar nearly exclusively sourced from IKEA furnishing elements—via Clive Thompson’s Linkfest  

paratethys sea: the ancient lake that stretched from the Alps to the Arals was the world’s largest lake  

florilegium: botanical collages by an eighteenth-century septuagenarian—via Kottke  

mar yousef’s: the “pizza church” of Jordan imparting Iraqi Christian refugees with marketable skills—via Miss Cellania  

heritage graziers: regenerative agriculture, no farmstead required  

orange alternative: how a diminutive graffito helped bring down the Soviet Union

Friday 27 January 2023

paris peace accords (10. 500)

Negotiations finalised between Lรช ฤแปฉc Thแป and Henry Kissinger on 24 January and nearly derailed the day before by the Battle of Cแปญa Viแป‡t, the treaty officially known as the Agreement of Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Viet Nam (Hiแป‡p ฤ‘แป‹nh vแป chแบฅm dแปฉt chiแบฟn tranh, lแบญp lแบกi hรฒa bรฌnh แปŸ Viแป‡t Nam) was signed on this day in 1973 at the Hรดtel Majestic on Avenue Klรฉber in the XVIe arrondissement by representatives of the governments of the United States, the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) and the Republic of South Vietnam (the Provisional Revolutionary Government, representing South Vietnamese communists). All US and allied forces agreed to complete withdrawal in exchange for the release of prisoners-of-war, with all parties acceding to an immediate cease-fire, the establishment of council of national reconciliation, a peaceful reunification free of foreign interference, withdrawal of foreign troops from Cambodia and Laos and financial aid from the US for war-ravaged Indochina. Despite also securing a commitment from America to replace materiel and armaments on a one-by-one basis, congressional support for further appropriations evaporated and lapsing during the Watergate scandal, North Vietnam made their final offensive operations in April of 1975, precipitating the fall of Saigon and the capitulation of the Republic of Vietnam.

Sunday 22 January 2023

shenshu and yulรผ (10. 490)

For this start of the Lunar New Year’s festivities, we are given a primer on the armoured warriors put up to protect households from malignant spirits and guard the threshold called menschen or door gods (้–€็ฅž) and attract good luck. With analogues that include Janus, the deity of beginnings and endings, and the blessing of the Magi tagged on one’s front door for Epiphany, one legend places the sentries at the portal in the boughs of a giant peach tree on the mythic Dushuo Mountain in the middle of the sea that allowed transit between the world of the spirits and the world of the mortals, the pair working to keep out evil, though many more traditions abound, including the founder of the Tang dynasty had his titular generals stand watch to alleviate his nightmares and their likenesses proved just as effective. Much more at the link up top.

Friday 30 December 2022

mcmlxxxix (10. 370)

By dint of the limited permutations of the Gregorian, civil calendar, we discover that we can helpfully recycle (see previously) our calendars from 2017 or 1989 for the upcoming 2023. Not to be dismissive of the events bookended six years ago, the political turning points of the latter with the fall of the Berlin Wall, Perestroika, the Velvet Revolution, the uprisings in Romania and China, as well as the gradual dismantling of the apartheid government in South Africa, the return of democratic norms to Brazil and Poland and the first internet service providers seem to bode as auspicious points of correspondence. Having lived through it, may we may live in exciting times. 

Saturday 24 December 2022

แ–แ••แŠแ“ฒแ‘Žแ–ƒแ•แ••แ’ƒ (10. 359)

The timing influenced and somewhat reinforced by encounters with Christian missionaries from both Western and Eastern traditions—Christmas itself being syncretic holiday with pre-Christian roots, festivities for the New Year begin on this day for some members of the Inuit, Aleut, Yupik, Iรฑupiat and Chukchi communities with Quviasukvik (“the time and place of joy”) celebrations lasting through 7 January. Customs differ from Greenland, North America to Siberia but the vigils of watching the sunrise, feasting and gift-exchanges are welcoming the return of the sea goddess Sedna (see also) with her blessings and bounty as the daylight returns.

Friday 2 December 2022

samdt (10. 354)

Signed on this day in Washington, DC and in effect through New Year's Eve 1979 the protection pact known as the Sino-American Mutual Defence Treaty obliged the United States to defend the Republic of China should the island be invaded by the Peoples’ Republic of China. Primarily to extend military assistance with US troops stationed in Taiwan, the arrangement also promoted political, economic and social welfare and was unilaterally annulled by President Carter on New Year’s 1980, one year after the US diplomatic recognition of the mainland, superseded with the Taiwan Relations Act—preserving some of the treaty’s provisions but falling short of the commitment for military intervention.

Saturday 1 October 2022

the new people (10. 183)

Produced for a single season and clocking in at forty-five minutes per episode (a rarity for regularly-scheduled programming), the 1969 Aaron Spelling and Larry Gordon collaboration for the ABC network was developed by Rod Serling (under the pseudonym John Phillips—see previously) and centres around the struggle for survival of a group of American college freshman returning from a trip in Southeast Asia (to present as goodwill ambassadors during Vietnam) whose plane crashes on a deserted island in the Pacific, which had been slated and provisioned for a nuclear-test that never took place. Foreshadowing the later ABC series Lost, it explores rather melodramatically the premise of Lord of the Flies, killing off all of the adults and letting the young fend for themselves—plus the counterculture adage of the time not to trust anyone over thirty—and is echoed in Logan’s Run and the Star Trek episode “Miri.” Here is the pilot with the full series available online:

Saturday 17 September 2022

s1:e1 (10. 140)

On this day in 1972, the CBS television network first aired its dark-comedy series—based on the 1970 feature film—about a team of doctors and ancillary staff stationed at the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in Uijeongbu during the Korean War. The first episodes, set in 1950, were broadcast while the US was still mired in the Vietnam War and were presented as the most careful kind of allegory, detached yet openly questioning the proxy wars of the Cold War and the value of offensive ideology. The ensemble cast included (by rank) Henry Blake McLean Stevenson (thanks, Dad), Loretta Swit, Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers, Gary Burghoff and Jamie Farr and the show became less political and more character-driven after 1975 and the withdrawal of US troops—also removing the controversial laugh-track of earlier seasons.

Monday 22 August 2022

7x7 (10. 078)

ultima generazione: climate activist glue themselves to the Vatican’s Laocoรถn  

little gold statue special: MST3K’s take on the 1995 Oscars 

larder and pantry: photographer Richard Johnson’s compelling series on root cellars–via Everlasting Blรถrt 

a garbler of spices: an eighteenth century specialised position 

canting arms: heraldic rebuses to puzzle 

biblioclasm: to combat book bans and censorship, the Brooklyn Public Library is issuing free cards to all US adolescents  

yangtze: drought in China reveals ancient statues of the Buddha normally submerged–see also here and here–and is also causing shortages in hydroelectric production