Thursday, 16 June 2022

monkey puzzle tree

Native to Chile and Argentina and described as a living fossil like the Wollemi pines, the Araucaria araucana, which goes by the above common name (as in it would puzzle a monkey to climb these reptilian and rangy branches) and also known as the piรฑonero is endangered in its wild habitat but a popular decorative tree with a reputation of being hardy and adaptable to a wide array of climes. The scaly leaves individually have a longevity of about twenty-four years and after maturity at forty years, the trees begin producing seed that are edible like pine nuts. Its Australian relatives, also to include the bunya pines which produce cones as big as soccer balls, share a common ancestry when that continent, Antarctica and South America were joined as Gondwanaland.

Wednesday, 8 June 2022

7x7

tidal power: Japan trials subsea turbines as a stable source of limitless green energy  

rethink the week: Stephen Fry and a host of animators believe that the time has come for a four-day work week—previously  

bosco verticale: Milan’s forested apartment block recreated in LEGO  

young macgyver: an unaired pilot spin-off of the original—remember when it was a huge reveal to disclose our hero’s first name?  

baad mambia: voicing AI output from Janelle Shane (previously) of Strong Bad from the flash animated series Homestar Runner—via Waxy  

mapped sonification: mouse around noisy cities and imagine how things will be different when our built environment isn’t designed to accommodate the internal combustion engine  

blue planet: World Oceans Day 2022 focuses on revitalisation—previously

Friday, 3 June 2022

bergpark wilhelmshรถhe

H and I had visited the sprawling landscaped park outside of Kassel some time ago but neglected to blog about it here, so we were happy to have the occasion to revisit and share impressions of the Baroque giardino all’italiana built for Landgraf Karl I von Hessen beginning in 1696 on the anniversary of the presentation of the water elements (Wasserspiele) by Giovanni Francisco Guerniero in 1714, switching on the cascades and waterfalls for the first time. The landgrave had met the architect in Rome whilst on a Grand Tour and engaged him to realise his grand plans for the largest garden on the continent, and though making a solid first impression which delighted his patron, Guerniero fled back to Italy once it became clear that planning errors and cost-overruns meant that the project could not be finished. Atop a pyramid, atop on octagon, is a copper statue of Hercules, surveying the watercourse. Successive occupants of the palace expanded and contributed to the character of the park over the years, adopting new styles and eventually veering away from the French formal style to more of an English garden and it was finally completed after a century and a half of construction. Open to the public, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013.

Sunday, 29 May 2022

wasserfall eisgraben

Taking advantage of the fine weather and long weekend, H and I headed just south of the Schwarzes Moor and took a long hike through the Hochrhรถn to the cascading valley of pools that is the main drainage outlet of the marshy region, flowing into the Fulda river. Named for the cold winds that flow through the rift—and it was quite brisk for the end of May—this watershed courses over basalt boulders and goes deep underground after emerging from the forest. This area below the boglands is part of a larger nature preserve and criss-crossed with wooded paths and is a protected biome. Introduced spruces harvested for timber in the nineteenth century displaced much of the original forest but logging was stopped in most areas in 1971 and native sycamores and elms are returning. Discovering the waterfall at the end of the Wanderweg was especially rewarding and are eager for more exploration soon.


 

Friday, 20 May 2022

6x6

from juno to jupiter: famed composer who championed the synthesizer Vangelis passed away, aged 79  

of angel and puppet: an exploration of innocence through the finger puppets of Paul Klee—see previously

the pรบca of ennistymon: a sculpture of a mythological chimera almost gets cancelled  

fern gully: spelunkers in China discover a massive ancient forest in a sinkhole  

capable of completing the kessel run in less than twelve parsecs: the Millennium Falcon was the last ship build at the Royal Pembroke Dockyard  

v’ger: Voyager 1 beaming back usual telemetry to mission control—via Boing Boing

Friday, 6 May 2022

7x7

⚠️: a pictogramatical survey of caution wet floor signs—via Pasa Bon!  

load-bearing bifurcation: engineers incorporate sturdy, often-discarded tree forks in construction  

thameside tv: clips from London’s first pirate station—see also  

no tofu: the Noto typeface (previously) a suite of emoji  

unit patch: the more inscrutable badges of the US Space Force—see previously  

pocket mac: the process of designing a fake vintage product 

: Unicode Consortium’s growing list of astronomical glyphs, magical charms

Friday, 22 April 2022

earth day

Organisers Denis Hayes and Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson who championed the establishment of the annual observance in support of environmental protection and better stewardship of the planet in congress—plus drumming up the earnest support of the United Auto Workers union which without the backing of the labour movement probably would have had no staying power—chose the date strategically as to time the holiday outside of college exams and Spring Break, student activism being among the important targets to carry the cause forward, and with the happy coincidence that the date range included the anniversary of the 1838 birth of John Muir—an American of Scottish extract regarded as the Father of the National Parks, avid naturalist, ecologist and conservationist who co-founded the Sierra Club and pushed the government to establish a nature reserve in the Yosemite region of California. 

Reportedly unbeknownst to Nelson and Hayes, the first 1970 celebration fell on the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Soviet revolutionary Vladimir Lenin (New Style, 1870), causing some media outlets to speculate at the time that it was not an unfortunately coincidence but rather signaled that the environmental movement was a “Communist trick” to subvert and indoctrinate the youth—apparently into caring for Nature and the world around them and engendered guilt over polluting and over-consumption. The themes for this year include Sustainable Fashion, the Great Global Clean-up, the Canopy Project (reforestation) and Climate and Environmental Literacy.

Friday, 15 April 2022

paas

Though the pictured eggs are on our Ostereierbaum and are not generated by an artificial intelligence, we thought that they did have some of the same swirly effects as these iterations of Easter eggs created by Janelle Shane (see previously) and her neural networks, including Artstation and Midjourney (previously). The output “seasoned” with the Ukrainian traditional pysanky and krashanky patterns are inspired, as are the giant looming eggs in the style of a matte painting. Incidentally, scholars believe that the abundance of eggs for this time of the year is owing to the prohibition of eating them during Lent coupled with the fact that chickens couldn’t be persuaded to stop laying them, so they needed to be consumed quickly as soon as possible once the restrictions lifted. The name of the titular, ubiquitous and arguably less artful colouring dye comes from the Dutch Pasen for Eastertide.

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

8x8

many years later, as he faced the firing squad, colonel aureliano buendia was to remember that weird folgers commercial where it implied the brother and sister were hooking up: first drafts of the greatest first lines in literature 

stories and studies of strange things: the life and legacy of Lafcadio Hearn (ฮ ฮฑฯ„ฯฮฏฮบฮนฮฟฯ‚ ฮ›ฮตฯ…ฮบฮฌฮดฮนฮฟฯ‚ ฮงฮตฯฮฝ / ๅฐๆณ‰ ๅ…ซ้›ฒ) itinerant author and journalist who introduced the Western world to Japan 

censored: people in Russia are frantically downloading Wikipedia in the wake of the threat of Roskomnadzor to ban it 

haunted art: an exhibition of the lingering possession in US museum collections 

the rites of spring: an arboreal celebration  

frozen chosen: unusual Antarctic ergot 

uncanny valley: AI rendered stories read by humans  

no set back: great authors on rejection

Friday, 18 February 2022

7x7

pigeon fancy: Emil Schachtzabel illustrates unnatural selection in prize breeds  

act local, think global: a twenty-question quiz about one’s bioregion, immediate surroundings and a challenge for low-scorers 

onomastic terminology: petrichor, overmorrow, interrobangs and other proper orthonyms  

wysiwyg: Jane Austen used straight pins to edit the rough drafts of her manuscripts before word processors and correction-liquid  

device orchestra: various peripherals, gadgets and appliances perform “Seven Nation Army”  

pandemic cartograms: our unvaccinated world  

hodowla goล‚ฤ™bi: profiling Poland’s pigeon keepers, moving up in the pecking-order

Sunday, 30 January 2022

root directory

A happily reactivated Present /&/ Correct shop blog (do check out their sundries) brings us this interesting series of studies curated by Wageningen University of hand renderings of root systems (see also here and here) of trees and plants whose subterranean presences and connections can be far more substantial and wide-reaching than we surface-dealers can fathom.

Thursday, 27 January 2022

8x8

i just think they’re neat: an orchestral ballad extolling the qualities of the tuber—via Pasa Bon! 

pulsar: a mysterious, suspected white dwarf star called GLEAML-X is far more energetic than physically possible  

eurhythmics: the greatest music teacher of the twentieth century, Nadia Boulanger whose pupils included Igor Stravinsky and Quincy Jones  

nu descendant un escalier № 2: the Marcel Duchamp research portal  

great green wall: an ongoing project to grow a corridor of trees across Africa 

meta-maps: gazetteers that interpret atlases from the collection of David Rumsey 

 bande dessinรฉe: Belgium’s new passport design pays homage to the country’s comic artists  

fire sale: a curious inventory of lots for sale with the closure of the Drury Lane theatre  

his father’s eyes: a giant New Zealand potato, Dug, is subjected to genetic-testing for proof that it is a tuber

Friday, 21 January 2022

6x6

wheelie bins: a collection of municipal-issue recycling bins from across the UK—via Pasa Bon! 

filmovรฝ plakรกt: a gallery of vintage Czech movie posters  

1 000 trees: drone footage showcases Heatherwick studios’ Shanghai shopping centre  

northwoods baseball sleep radio: a fake game with no jarring sounds designed for podcast slumber  

holkham bible picture book: a 1330 curiosity that illustrates select passages from the Old and New Testaments  

the great british spring clean: projects and programmes (see also) sponsored by Keep Britain Tidy

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

dyer’s polypore

Having seen the process of extracting dyes from our fungal friends before, via Things Magazine, we not only quite enjoyed perusing through this swath collection of colours derived from mushrooms in its own right but also appreciated the site as an important point of departure for cultivating a deeper appreciation for the mycorrhizal network that connects us all.

Monday, 8 November 2021

l'arbe du tรฉnรฉrรฉ

Sadly destroyed by a careless truck driver hitting the only landmark in a hundred mile radius sometime earlier in the year, the remains of the solitary acacia, considered among the most isolated in the world, the Tree of Tรฉnรฉrรฉ, a guide for decades for caravans embarking on or returning from crossing the Sahara, were collected a put on display in the National Museum of Niger in Niamey on this day in 1973. Incredibly, the tree was included on maps of the desert, even at scales of millions-to-one. Memorialised in popular culture (see also), the tree’s story and metal sculpture that now stands in its place were featured prominently in the 2006 film La Gran Final on the 2002 FIFA World Cup final between Germany and Brazil and the challenges for a group of nomadic Tuareg to find the power and reception (using the monument as an antenna) to watch the match.

Friday, 1 October 2021

7x7

cultured: beautiful Petri dish art (see also) from Dasha Plesen  

tax centinels: protesting college students conspired to create “penny famines” across the US in the late 1930s 

rediffusion: the Thames Television archives—via Things magazine  

fat bear bracket: follow the celebration of survival and success with Katmai’s nature preserve ursine residents—via Hyperalleric’s Required Reading 

the thing on the fourble board: a 1948 episode of the radio programme Quiet, Please! is considered to be one of the scariest broadcasts ever 

bisection: the spiralling figural sculpture of Isabel Miramontes  

frustule: the rich diversity of diatoms illustrated in an 1890 volume

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

give a hoot—don’t pollute!

The United States forest service, following the success of mascot Smokey Bear in promoting awareness of forest fires, on this day in 1971 debuted the character Woodsy Owl (both from marketer Harold Bell) for anti-pollution public service messaging, introduced by the American Secretary of Agriculture Clifford Hardin as an environmental ambassador (the EPA having been just created) with the above slogan. Realising the reductive nature of the saying was squarely laying the blame on the public and deflecting responsibility from business and government policies, Woodsy has adapted his outreach over the years to reflect the climate crisis (“Help Woodsy Spread the Word,” since 2009) and taking meaningful action and currently uses the slogan, “Lend a Hand—Care for the Land!”

Thursday, 9 September 2021

rewilding

Via Super Punch, we learn that not only has the Swiss ambassador to the US made the expansive embassy grounds in Washington, DC, a former farm in the Woodley Park neighbourhood, a biodiverse oasis, replacing the manicured lawn with native shrubs and trees to attract and sustain birds and other wildlife, the ambassor’s actions have set a positive example, leading other diplomatic missions to adopt ecologically sounder landscaping practices including vegetable gardens and beehives. More from the Audubon Society at the links above.

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

7x7

the dance of the proletariat: a cultural revolutionary ballet 

reefer madness: an excerpt from “Cocaine, the Princess of Perdition” (1939)  

beef and dairy network: a 1986 board game called “Grade Up to Elite Cow” 

music to moog by: Melbourne’s Electronic instrument museum  

old growth: an anthology of the most memorable trees in the literary canon  

ambiguate: a notable lacuna, lexical gap for a word that ought to have been formed 

rhythm is a dancer: a comprehensive dance music archive covering the recent past—via Things Magazine

Wednesday, 11 August 2021

8x8

united states of wildfire: as the climate emergency escalates, more North American residents are moving into the path of destruction unwittingly 

fitting in: Ze Frank (previously) reveals that even the coolest, calmest and most collected of us are all trying, coping  

d’oyly carte: an islet in the Thames with a derelict mansion built for an opera impresario will be restored to its former glory—via Things Magazine 

caped crusaders: Batman’s sidekick Robin finally comes out 

constrained systems: a tool-kit of alternative image editing effects—via Waxy  

matchi bล:a mesmerising stop-motion study of a magic match stick from Tomohiro Okazaki—via ibฤซdem

 bubblegum pop: the Osmonds 1968 song “Groove with what You Got”  

ฮฑฯ€ฮฟฮบฮฌฮปฯ…ฯˆฮท: Greek capital, archipelago beset by flames