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.

Monday 8 April 2024

penumbra (11. 477)

Visible for totality in a narrow corridor of the Pacific Ocean, as North America is watching the skies, when the shadow of the Moon’s ascending node (where the orbit of the satellite intersects the plane of the solar ecliptic from our perspective) obscured the Sun, crossing the international dateline and beginning on the ninth and ending on this day in 1995, this relatively rare hybrid eclipse with phases of the complete and the annular (when the lunar disc does not quite obscure the sun) as it progressed across the globe. Observers in extreme northwestern South American, Central America and the Caribbean were afforded near totality.

Sunday 31 March 2024

boac (11. 459)

The flag carrier of the United Kingdom, Imperial Airways, was founded on this day in 1924 through the nationalisation and merger of four existing operators, Instone, Daimler, Mandley Page Transport and the British Marine Air Navigation Company, Ltd—forming a fleet of thirteen planes for international flights to and from the London hub in Heathrow. Fifty years later and reflagged as British Airways, the national airline was created from the addition of regional carriers before moving back towards privatisation. 


one year ago: the musical stylings of Pascal Nuzzo plus ASCII art by AI

two years ago: Cรฉsar Chรกvez Day, Maltese Freedom Day, mass resignations at Hong Kong’s high court plus South Ossetia votes in favour of annexation

three years ago: satanic sneakers, The Matrix (1999), retronyms plus assorted links to revisit

four years ago: museum cosplay, graphic designer Fortunato Depero plus presidential advisor myPillow Guy

five years ago: Urbano Monte’s planosphere,  Sony World Photo awardees plus graphic designer Herman Bayer

Friday 1 March 2024

castle bravo (11. 393)

Already subjected to a series of nuclear weapons tests as host to Operation Crossroads (see previously, see also), on this day in 1954 the United States conducted the first in the battery of design experiments with Operation Castle, detonating the a high yield thermonuclear, fusion bomb on an artificial island platform in the lagoon of Namu in the Bikini Atoll of the Marshall Islands. The strongest tactile explosion in history, the bomb was more than one-thousand times stronger than those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, exceeding expectations of developers and spreading fallout (the heaviest in the form of pulverised and irradiated coral) across the region and far beyond. Residents were not evacuated and the decision was made not to abort the test despite wind shear that imperilled the islanders as well as personnel involved in the research. Trace amounts of radioactive material detected as far away as Australia, Europe and North America turned Castle Bravo into an international incident, prompting worldwide monitoring of fallout levels and a ban on further atmospheric tests.

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.


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.  


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.