Thursday 13 June 2024

7x7 (11. 626)

senza vergogna: some notes for Martha-Ann Alito on her anti-Pride flag (see previously)  

factory floor: inside Andy Warhol’s studio—via Messy Nessy Chic  

prospecting: Norwegian mining firms discovers Europe’s largest cache of rare-earth metals  

adaptive force controlled shaving demonstration: a robot barber in Shanghai  

daily bread: an overview of the staple foodstuff’s contribution to civilisation  

hydrant directory: colour palettes of New York’s suppression points—via Pasa Bon!  

gruppo dei sette: following EU elections, the G7 forum begins in Puglia


one year ago: a top album by Alanis Morissette plus an early world-traveller

two years ago: a chronic case of the hiccups, a hit by Paul McCartney plus international crisps flavours

three years ago: the G7, Shangri La the musical, St Anthony plus two very prolific travelogues

four years ago: illustrator Wilbur Husley, assorted links to revisit, the Pentagon Papers (1971) plus a banger from Mungo Jerry

five years ago: the elusive American Middle-Class plus x before x-rays

Wednesday 12 June 2024

11x11 (11. 625)

indemnity clause: a look at the exactingly detailed Sanborn maps created for US insurance firms in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries 

unseen persia: thousands of historic photographs of Iran during the Qajar dynasty leaked on-line from the archive of the Golestan Palace  

sweet thing: Chaka Khan’s debut Tiny Desk performance  

bahรญa de cochinos: Russian warships on drill visit Cuba  

doubly-disambiguated bishop non-capture statemale: a vlogger tries to categorise the rarest chess moves  

transponder: wood proves surprisingly durable material in space as agencies plan to launch experimental satellites, like ships on the high seas—via the Linkfest  

1337: a pretty exhaustive list of English words that can be spelled on a calculator turned upside down  

hollywood canteen: a fond farewell to Janis Page, recently departed at 101  

the brannock device: a better shoe-sizer based on the barley corn  

gallus gallus domesticus: photographer recreates exacting portraits of Edo-era Ito Jakuchu’s studies of chickens—via Nag on the Lake  

geochron: the incredible restoration of 1960s analog, electromechanical world clock and map

come retribution (11. 624)

Tonally quite different from his campaign announcement and really removed from his past platforms, the latest episode of This American Life takes its title from a litany of promises made during Donald Trump’s inaugural 2024 rally, the venue Waco, Texas, darkly proclaiming vengeance for those who crossed him: “In 2016, I declared, I am your voice. Today I add, ‘I am your warrior. I am your justice.’ And for those who have been wronged and betrayed, ‘I am your retribution—’” former advisor Steve Bannon further embellishing the speech by couching it in a supposed US civil war plot to kidnap and ransom Lincoln in order to pressure the Union to concede to to the Confederacy—foiled, again supposedly, by weak encryption that the North was able to easily decipher. Contributors go on during the broadcast to interview those who are definitely on Trump’s hit-list, including former staffer and White House (who infamously never gave a press conference) Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham who left during the storming of the US capitol and wrong a tell-all book about her time in the administration and LTC (ret.) Alexander Vindman, director for European affairs of the National Security Council whose testimony on Trump’s “perfect call” led to the first impeachment to try to understand what forms that revenge might take, their contingency plans and what it means for those yet to be targeted.

Monday 10 June 2024

europawahl (11. 617)

Spanning twenty-seven countries and as many languages, the newly elected cadre of European parliamentarians in one of the world’s largest exercises in democracy will set the political tone for the next five year term, with veto-power over legislation but not the ability to introduce laws, determining budget and approving funding allocation and senior leadership of the European Commission, election results are seen as a proxy for national sentiment and policy mandates. Centrist coalitions retain influence but far-right parties are seeing significant gains, placing pressure on Germany and France, the latter which dissolved its government in response by Emmanuel Macron and his Renaissance party and called for snap elections, owing that one cannot pretend that these results mean nothing. Austria and Italy also saw solidification towards a more conservative stance. This reconfiguration comes at the expense of progressive and environmental champions whose direction proved unpopular with some and perceived as over-reach (with the help of propaganda and contrary platforms), particularly in the agricultural and building sectors. Consequential nonetheless for the EU, only about half of the eligible (expanded to sixteen-year-olds for the first time) cast ballots.


one year ago: Archives of Castaways plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: a duet from Grease, more links to enjoy plus McDonald’s leaves Russia

three years ago: an all puppy cable channel, more from the Kiffness, World Art Nouveau Day plus Tristan und Isolde

four years ago: sloganising Dr Seuss

five years ago: a re-enactment of the Berlin Airlift 

Sunday 9 June 2024

trust pilot (11. 615)

Via tmn, we learn that the dominant AI chatbots, OpenAI through Microsoft’s Copilot and Google’s Gemini, refuse to answer the straightforward and settled question of who won the US 2020 presidential election. Deferring to old grievances and on going re-litigation of some stalwarts and Trump loyalists, the large language models are tacit on the subject and direct inquirers to search the web instead for consultation, however informed those results might be. Whilst some of the secondary players in this enhanced market will return factual results from historic votes and wrong polling dates, the main parties are universally ignorant of election-related queries, ostensibly to combat disinformation—to rehabilitate past responses that quoted conspiracy theories, dated and convincingly wrong information—just six months ahead of the consequential American race but also during a year that many polities are choosing their leaderbut only serve to further undermine faith (rubbishing the rest of the world) in the democratic process and its gatekeepers.


one year ago: a hit from The Emotions, the United States of America v Trump plus Boris Johnson steps down

two years ago: the egg of Columbus plus assorted links to revisit

three years ago: disposable archaeology, a harrowing pedestrian suspension bridge plus the archives of the J. R. R. Tolkien Society

four years ago: a trove of unproduced movies, US troops in Germany, Dimensions of Dialogue plus Mister Rogers’ neighbours

five years ago: more peonies, an Eames airport plus backyard pollinators

Friday 31 May 2024

uvb-76 (11. 597)

Courtesy of ibฤซdem, we are directed to an omnibus post on numbers stations (see previously) featuring the enigmatic beacon designated also with the callsign MDZhB (ะœะ”ะ–ะ‘, referred to as the Buzzer) broadcasting on short-wave radio. Mostly monotonous, there are sporadic interruptions with voice transmission, usually in Russian but sometimes audio-drops of Yosemite Sam and other memes but otherwise in strict messaging formats. This ostensible activation code was replaced with the ominous filler of Swan Lake during a brief period in November of 2010, a well-established preemption when all Hell is breaking loose to the consternation of monitors but regular programming soon resumed. While patently considered as a communications encoded directive for Soviet and Russian field agents, the transmitter does not possess the earmarks of a true numbers station, missives being too random, and is seen as sort of frequency- , domain -holding mechanism to dissuade others for future contingencies, including as some have suggested an automated “dead hand” signal which if broken would trigger a retaliatory response, assuming that command and control had been taken out by a first strike.

Thursday 30 May 2024

operation landcrab (11. 593)

Concluding on this day in 1943 with US troops retaking the remote Aleutian island, the Battle of Attu, American and Imperial Japanese soldiers encountering one another in snowy conditions, was engaged nearly a year after the unopposed landing of a battalion of the Northern Army infantry, who wanted to establish forward airbases on this strategic location and create a barrier between the US and Russia, should the Soviets decide to join the fight against Japan. Only one of two sites on American soil invaded during the war and the only land confrontation, authorities were too late with orders to evacuate this most westerly part of the island chain and the forty-eight residents, mostly Aleut natives, who survived the annexation were imprisoned in a camp on Hokkaidล, where nearly half died. The fighting, beginning two weeks prior, was brutal and both sides sustained heavy casualties, with the Japanese forces suddenly attacking the Americans in a last ditch push with a large banzai charge (taken from the battle cry’s invocation of “long life” for his Majesty the Emperor and considered one method of gyokusai—shattered jewel, an honourable suicide) at Massacre Bay with nearly all of the troops killed. After the prisons were liberated, none despite a desire to return home, were repatriated and Attu became host to a series of navigation and ranging stations, eventually decommission in 2010, making the island the largest uninhabited area of the United States.

Monday 13 May 2024

proclamation of neutrality (11. 556)

Though granting legal recognition to the Confederate States of America as belligerents, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland under Queen Victoria, announcing the stance on this day in 1861, never accorded the breakaway southern states with the status of a nation, negotiated treaties or exchanged ambassador and trade came to a halt. Despite massive losses in the textile sector, particularly in Manchester, due to loss of imported cotton, most Britons, maintained their fidelity to the Union and Abraham Lincoln, and CSA president Jefferson Davis’ wager that dependence on “King Cotton” would lead to diplomatic recognition, mediation or intervention militarily, fell far short of hopes. After the costly war in the Crimea, European powers wanted no more entanglements. Some smuggling of cotton occurred (see previously) with privateers running bundles across the Atlantic in exchange for munitions and luxury goods, but most mills—even threatened with bankruptcy and famine for the workers—refused to process the Confederate contraband.

Wednesday 8 May 2024

hardhat riot (11. 546)

As our faithful chronicler reminds, on this day in 1970, around noon a group of more than four-hundred construction workers—many working on the World Trade Center—converged on a group of anti-war protesters, mostly college students picketing the New York Stock Exchange and rallying on the steps of Federal Hall, originally a Customs House on Wall Street, setting up a memorial for those killed at Kent State four days prior and calling for an end to the fighting in Vietnam and Cambodia, release of political prisoners and an end to military-related research on university campuses. By lunch time the clashes turned violent with some eight hundred office workers joining the ranks of the agitating construction workers, breaking through a thin line of police separating the two sides and pursuing students and onlookers and beating them safety equipment and tools. Law enforcement, sympathetic to the counter protesters, did little to intervene or stop the melee. Two weeks of protests followed before the demonstrations, pitting labour union leaders against pacifists, subsided and towards the end of the month, the organiser of the initial riot and a delegation of representing some three-hundred thousand unionised trade workers, were invited to the White House to meet with president Richard Nixon, who said he sought to honour those labour leaders “and people from Middle America who still have character and guts and a bit of patriotism,” accepting hard hats as a gift. For his loyalty and role in starting a culture war, a values war that divided traditionally shared sentiments among Democratic voters, that leader Peter J Brennan was appointed secretary of labour and the cabinet official outlasted the Nixon administration and served under Ford as well.


one year ago: an early fifth century bog man

two years ago: the Nebra Skydisc

three years ago: a classic Eurodance number, assorted links worth revisiting plus more photographs from Pete Souza

four years ago: the death of Tito (1980), more links to enjoy plus Russian borderlands

five years ago: more links worth the revisit plus Heath Robinson contraptions

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.

Friday 19 April 2024

9x9 (11. 499)

pumping iron: Technogym invites forty artists to reinterpret its exercise bench for Milan Design Week  

wikipedia rectangles: a collage of images sourced from the Commons subdivides one’s screen in increasing smaller sections of disparate pictures—via Web Curios  

the microcosm of london: an illustrated three-volume set by Rudolph Ackermann showcasing the public spaces of the capital 

๐Ÿ‰: the massive Quilt for Palestine unveiled at the Met 

rundown royale: a look at the family tree of Charlemagne, the Father of Europe—via Miss Cellania 

ulnar nerve: the etymology of the expression funny bone and variants—including the Swedish terms enkelstรถt/รคnkestรถt  

dua lipa stuns as congressional gerrymander: that and other headlines from Super Punch  

from our correspondents: World Press Photo contest captures destruction and devastation 

the revolution will not be biennalised: the withdrawal of the Israeli pavilion in Venice was performative and opportunistic

Tuesday 16 April 2024

hearts and minds (11. 494)

An 1959 early spring testimony before an American senate subcommittee on the effects of “Red China Communes on the United States” by an Asian correspondent for the Miami News intent on self-promotion and advancing a misinformed pet theory firmly solidified the neologism of brainwashing (with derivative terms) as common political parlance. The deposition by the reporter turned propagandist (alleged a covert CIA agent) against the spread of Communism convinced the public and policy-makers that the Chinese (and others) had devised a scientific method for turning people’s love and allegiances, allegedly uncovering the method of “mind-attack” and their word for, “brain-washing.” The original term xวnวŽo (ๆด—่…ฆ, “wash brain”) was employed to describe the coercive persuasion used by the Maoist to integrate more reactionary members of society and was a popular pun, not an official policy or approach, on the Taoist custom of xวxฤซn (ๆด—ๅฟƒ , “cleaning the heart and mind”) with both understood to be something more akin to enlightenment, disabusing and not the reprogramming or deprogramming that captured the American public, with the help of the journalist’s tract, other reporting and films and television as well as the Zeitgeist of the Red Scare and sinophobia, fears that loyalties were susceptible to nefarious and scientifically compelling influences that caused collaboration and defection. For all the pseudoscience and propagandising, brainwashing did fill a linguist and psychological lacuna, a gap that was packed with the attendant moral panic and supposed countermeasures with psychological warfare and the rise of home-grown, domestic cults that subsumed what they purported to prevent. More from MIT Technology Review at the link up top. Why don’t you pass the time by playing a little solitaire?

Thursday 7 March 2024

9x9 (11. 406)

harmonisation: Albanian government using AI to try to speed accession to European Union by rewriting local legislation to fit the block’s regulatory framework—via Marginal Revolution  

the once and future sex: enduring medieval views on female anatomy 

gรฉodรฉsie: more on the Paris Meridian and how Greenwich ultimately won out 

walk without rhythm and you won’t attract the worm: Christopher Walken, portraying Padishah Emperor Shaddam Corrino IV, unaware of his epic choreography in “Weapon of Choice” references Dune  

mcmxxiv: a curation of photos from Alan Taylor—via Kottke  

here there be tygers: animated adaptations of Ray Bradbury’s science fiction by Sergei Bondarchuk  

the world is a cat—i can’t unsee that now: a geopolitical map drawing challenge  

the school of venus; or the ladies delight: self-pleasure in the seventh century  

circling the wagons: Sweden accedes to NATO as its thirty-second member state after a wait of two years—while holdout Hungary visits Trump

Saturday 2 March 2024

grenzรผbergang (11. 394)

With motives never clearly articulated and sparking an international crisis, a US soldier, Specialist William A. Thomson, Jr of Columbus, Georgia, stationed in West Berlin’s Turner Barracks broke into the heavy armour motor pool and commandeered a fifty-tonne M60 tank. Proceeding to destroy the main gate of the post, Turner crashed through Checkpoint Charlie entering East Berlin. For some seventy very tense minutes, chaos ensured as Thompson swivelled the turret and took aim at East German and Soviet troops—no shots were fired—and then drove to the crossing at Drewitz. Diplomats and officers from the barracks were getting involved and eventually Thompson’s superiors were allowed into the Soviet sector and persuaded him to surrender and remand him to custody. The Americans were later permitted to retrieve the tank.  During his court-martial, Thomas was characterised as a quiet individual with no history of wrong-doing or insubordination.


one year ago: An Imaginary Report on an American Rock Festival (1973) plus another MST3K classic

two years ago: the Moldo-Russian War (1992) plus The Starlost

three years ago: a satanic variety show, Pioneer 10 (1972), a line-of-sight telegraph (1792) plus telegraph abbreviations and shorthand

four years ago: comics cartography, a more environmentally friendly brick plus Plato’s Allegory of the Cave

five years ago: Bauhaus style logos for modern companies, a study of the Mosaic Virus by AI, the Overton Window, cleaner-burning trains plus the Communist International (1919)

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.

Sunday 25 February 2024

brunswick, bailiwick (11. 381)

After a failed and humiliating attempt to naturalise the then-stateless Adolf Hitler by appointing him to a professorship of the fabricated discipline of “Politics and Organic Sociology” at the state college, rejected by academia for never having finished school and revealing the the subterfuge and subjecting them both to ridicule, the minister for the Interior and Education of Freistaat Braunschweig of the Weimar Republic—created from the former duchy of discontiguous holdings following the revolution of 1918—Nazi Party politician Dietrich Klagges was successful on this day in 1932 of procuring a government posting and citizenship for Hitler as a member of the state’s legation with the Reichsrat (upper house of parliament) in Berlin. This posting, in accordance with design, allowed Hitler to stand as a candidate for the office of president. Although the ascension was quickly and summarily rejected by the Reichskanzler and Klagges was punished subsequently for the public embarrassment with the abolishment of his polity (the only Nazi controlled state within the republic, an act recapitulated by the occupying powers of the Soviet Union and the British, dividing it into East and West Germany) and Klagges reduced to a provencal governor, Hitler nonetheless rose quickly in the ranks while the apologist and disgraced politician enabled him.

Monday 19 February 2024

8x8 (11. 364)

moses j robinette: for US Presidents’ Day, researchers find that Lincoln pardoned Biden’s great-great grandfather  

we are a nation in decline, a failing nation: with an incredible lack of empathy or courage, Trump compares the murder of Alexei Navalny to his own legal and political woes—see more  

you never forget your first: the evolution of the holiday that started as a celebration of the birthday of George Washington—see up top

first wives’ club: searching for the likeness of Martha Washington and AI creative chaos

ask not what the drama can do for you, but what you can do for the drama: Real Housewives catchphrases for the American presidents 

stats: scholars access American administrations—Lincoln still number one, with FDR displacing Washington—and Biden ranked in the top fifteen, via Miss Cellania 

non-interventionism: America’s isolationist’s policy on the up-wing—see previviously 

i cannot tell a lie: George Washington’s parents are rather upset he chopped down that cherry tree

Sunday 18 February 2024

ั€ะตะฒะพะปัŽั†ั–ั ะณั–ะดะฝะพัั‚ั– (11. 359)

At the end of the Euromaidan protests, a series of demonstrations and civil unrest beginning the previous November in response to the president’s sudden reversal on signing the European Union-Ukraine Association Agreement—instead against the Verkhova Rada choosing to forge closer ties with Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union—and against government corruption and abuse of power, the Revolution of Dignity began on this day in Kyiv in 2014 with violent clashes between authorities and the opposition. Five days of rallying resulted in the ousting of Viktor Yanukovich and the restoration of the amendments to the constitution put in place a decade earlier (won during the Orange Revolution, installing a parliamentary system that put checks on the office of the presidency). Having fled the city for Kharkiv, a majority of the rada voted to remove Yanukovych from office on 22 February and free political prisoners, and in absentia, Yanukovych appealed to Russia for help in this “coup” and reinstall him. Within a few days, Russia deployed peacekeeping troops to Crimea, occupying the peninsula and eventually annexing it and stoking secession in regions in the south and east of the country.


one year ago: the King Biscuit Flour Hour (1973), assorted links to revisit using the seas to pull carbon from the air

two years ago: more links to enjoy, a collection of dynamic historical maps plus more time-slice photography

three years ago: a tour of North Korea, ditches and retaining walls plus therblig units

four years ago: corporate Christian America, the art collective Inges Idee plus RIP Andrew Weatherall

five years ago: a stellar eclipse, more official state crap, Minnie Pearl, Petri dish lamps plus the Know-Nothing’s first political convention

Friday 16 February 2024

forgive me if this sounds pompous, but it’s better to die standing up than live on your knees (11. 354)

Against the backdrop of the Munich Security Conference during which his widow was scheduled to speak, the Russian presidential election less than a month away, Trump’s rubbishing of the NATO alliance, the US withholding foreign aid for Ukraine and the prospect of another term locked, vocal critic of Vladimir Putin and official corruption Alexei Navalny has been found dead in the remote arctic penal colony where he has been transferred recently, detained for the past three years, foregoing exile in Germany. Recuperating from a case of poisoning in 2021 that was blamed on the Kremlin, Navalny choose to return to Russia and register to run for the presidency (having finished in a close second against the incumbent mayor of Moscow in 2013 despite the backing of Putin’s political machine) and accept almost certain arrest in order to continue his oppositional stance. Navalny was serving a nineteen year sentence, charged with the crime of extremism.

Wednesday 14 February 2024

news cycle (11. 350)

The US presidential campaign season has been underway for a long, long time already and with ten months to go, we are already feeling the fatigue and feeling a bit overwhelmed keeping up with it all, and it’s remarkable to notice how much is already packed into the events of one day. Whilst arguably from the present perspective of just a few days hence it does not quite rise to the constellation of reporting on the seventh of October 2016 that saw the release of the infamous Access Hollywood tape, Obama announcing Russian election meddling, a possible case of Kompromat for Trump and the leak of Clinton’s campaign manager’s emails, incredibly the backhanded and cruel exoneration of Joe Biden for retaining classified materials over his perceived failing memory and mental acuity, was overshadowed by Donald Trump, speaking at a campaign rally, nearly simultaneously, dragging out a tied and false accusation of the NATO alliance being full of freeloaders dependent on the US and taking advantage of its largess, not only said that he would not defend a fellow member under attack by Russia, he would moreover encourage the invasion. While some media outlets are refusing to turn their attention from Biden’s gaffes and lapses—pulled selectively and from testimony given during interviews conducted (also on 7 October) just as Hamas began incursions into Israel, and some still take a dismissive tone on Trump’s words, the rest of the world is understandably grim and anxious at the thought of another term.