Tuesday 21 May 2024

8x8 (11. 570)

nicht abgeholtes gepรคck: the main station in Freiburg has a mystery vending machine where one can buy unclaimed items left in delivery lockers—see previously 

the ahramat branch: a long ago dried up arm of the Nile may explain some of the mystery behind the building of the Pyramids of Giza 

takenoko: a public service announcement for when the bamboo shoots sprout, one of Japan’s traditional seventy-two microseasons—see previously 

endless shrimp: the American seafood chain was private-equitied into bankruptcy and not by dent of its generous promotions—more here

first draft: in a since deleted post, Trump advocates for a “united Reich” in a video featuring hypothetical newspaper headlines following his reelection  

on the town: the story behind the ten-year-old who in 1947 spent a week in San Francisco with twenty dollars 

we call it maize: an interesting hypothesis that ancient Incan stonework and other architectural elements may be an homage to corn kernels  

out-of-order: broken and unused vending machines from around Japan—via Cardhousesee also

synchronoptica

one year ago: Croatia Diplomacy Day, a classic from David Bowie, an evergreen piece on American gun-violence plus assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: Ok Computer, a rainbow fifty pence coin for Pride, more feathered friends plus Amelia Earhart crosses the Atlantic

three years ago: your daily demon: Beleth, Elton John in the Soviet Union plus trace a raindrop from river down to the sea

four years ago: vintage Las Vegas logos, an avant-garde art show (1951) plus The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

five years ago: the White Night Riots (1979), regional airline logos, OK Cola, African air-carriers, one hundred and twenty years of photography plus a camera on a sushi conveyor belt

Sunday 21 April 2024

cartoon all-stars to the rescue (11. 506)

Airing the Saturday following the observance of 420 during the height of America’s War on Drugs and not too many years removed from Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign and other relentless public service announcements—via learn via our faithful chronicler—that the McDonald’s charity arm financed the production of a crossover simulcast featuring the Muppet Babies, Alf, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Looney Tunes and DuckTales, the Smurfs, Garfield, Alvin and the Chipmunks and others was broadcast on this day in 1990—probably giving rise to Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Space Jam, despite unpopular reception. In the style of A Christmas Carol (this sort of nostalgia is a toxic impulse and this is what it gives you) the popular cartoon characters stage an intervention for an adolescent marijuana-user to forewarn him of the consequences of his actions if he does not amend his wayward ways (compare to this 1974 rather psychedelic remediation targeted to an earlier generation that grew up with a lot of this content and franchises). The special was also screened in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil.

Wednesday 3 April 2024

9x9 (11. 464)

avis de rรฉception: Gertrude Stein first draft of her manuscript for The Making of Americans returned by a publisher  

greener pastures: ranchers embrace the benefits of virtual fencing  

แผ€ฮบฯฮฑฯƒฮฏฮฑ: philosophers weigh in on why we do things against our better judgment—via Kottke  

classroom setting: The Function of Colour in Schools and Hospitals (1930)  

haute couture: McDonald’s fashion in France  

heliopause: a NASA-endorsed app designed to photograph the North American total eclipse 

rhapsody in green: warm earth music for plants… and the people who love them 

could’ve been a contender: for what would be his hundredth birthday, some screen highlights of Marlon Brando

peer review: the Journal of Universal Rejection

 synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit

two years ago: Planet of the Apes (1968)

three years ago: musical hypercards, more links to enjoy, missionary cats plus Blue Moon (1961)

four years ago: vintage railway memorabilia plus drawing elephants sight unseen

five years ago: the Marshall Plan (1948), more links worth revisiting plus conserving Soviet Almaty

Tuesday 27 February 2024

generally meant to be discarded (11. 385)

Via Colossal, we are introduced to the work of ceramicist Yoonmi Nam in her exhibit featuring pottery and architectural elements made on a substrate of single-use, disposable containers. Displayed on traditional soban (์†Œ๋ฐ˜, used as dining trays and general purpose tables) as pediments—Nam employs the green-grey hued glaze, which reminds us of Frankoma ware and also of the craft of kintsugi, both dating from the era of the Goryeo kingdom that once covered most of the peninsula. It is an interesting meditation on the nature of trash and consumption, encased forever as something beautiful and permanent.  Much more at the links above.

synchronoptica

one year ago: Campbell’s cocktails plus the Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den

two years ago: assorted links to revisit plus the Peace of Stolbovo (1617)

three years ago: The Lady’s Mercury (1619), artist Carel Fabritius, most quoted and remixed works in the Anglophone literary canon, Walter Cronkite’s Report from Vietnam (1968), reanimating old photos plus the Conservative Political Action Conference

four years ago: more links to enjoy plus birthright citizenship in the US in jeopardy

five years ago: the Reichstag Fire (1933), the art of Alex Moy plus synthetic DNA

Tuesday 20 February 2024

10x10 (11. 365)

royal mews: King Charles’ one of a kind electric Jaguar up for auction—via Miss Cellania  

ppe: the portable nuclear bomb shield, patented by Harold Tiff  

got clearance clarence: after embarrassing blunder over bad travel advice, Air Canada advocates personhood (and limited liability) for its chatbot customer representative 

1776 days: Julian Assange’s long detention and fight against rendition to the US for Wikileaks

that which you call hardee’s, we call carl’s junior: food deserts, prevalence and distribution of casual dining chains in the US 

tigers blood: new singles from Waxahatchee 

daddy daughter day: breakdancing, bitcoin father revealed as a veteran of member of the Christian Coalition and conservative speech writer 

the second in line: Swedish illustrator Mattias Adolfsson—via Messy Nessy Chic  

body armour: Casimir Zeglen, the priest who invented the bulletproof vest  

motorcade: Joe Biden’s Cadillac sedan for sale—via tmn

synchronoptica

one year ago: artist creates a prosthetic extra digit plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: more links to enjoy, the subterrene (1972) plus The Shape of Things to Come (1936)

three years ago: introducing the Jeep (1941), a Nyan Cat NFT plus a suite of Japanese pictograms

four years ago: more mass-transit upholstery, RIP Larry Gordon Tesler who invested copy-and-paste, superannuated map styles, the possible extradition of Julian Assange plus the new US ambassador to Germany

five years ago: all the presidents’ meals, a secret meeting between industrialists and the Nazi government (1933), more links worth the revisit, the US emergency broadcast system (1971), vintages mazes plus the bokeh technique

Wednesday 10 January 2024

nothingburger (11. 256)

First airing on this day in 1984, featuring manicurist recently discovered for her irascible mannerisms and unique voice (owing to advanced emphysema which prevented her from delivering the slogan as scripted, “Where is all the beef?”) Clara Peller, already in her eighties, the Wendy’s advertising campaign against its bigger competitors was a resonant indictment against the “Home of the Big Bun” with the catchphrase propagated seemingly everywhere. Later that same year Peller and popular Nashville-area radio host DJ Coyote McCloud had a hit-song based on the television commercial and was referenced again during the presidential primaries of the spring in the debates for the Democratic party nomination between Walter Mondale and rival Gary Hart, calling out the poverty and lack of substance of the latter’s “new ideas.” Despite the seemingly contemporary origin of the title phrase was popularised by a Hollywood gossip columnist in the early 1950s that saw a spotty ascent to political commentary.

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit plus the language of plagues

two years ago: more links to enjoy 

three years ago: Moon radar, Metropolis (1927), striking oil (1901) plus illustrator Walter Molino

four years ago: Julius Caesar crosses the Rubicon 

five years ago: the centenary of Bauhaus, a meditation from space, more useful German words, wireless charging for drones plus grifter nostalgia cannibalising the old internet

Tuesday 9 January 2024

10x10 (11. 254)

job security: the US only created seven-hundred new IT positions last year—compared to two-hundred seventy thousand in 2022—via the New Shelton wet/dry  

tidy mouse: an industrious rodent sorts out a human’s workspace 

a theft from those who hunger: Dwight Eisenhower’s Chance for Peace Speech of 1953   

seo: how Google’s search algorithm has shaped the web  

past is precedent: Austin Kleon shares one-hundred things that made his year—a very good list 

the big mac index: the rising costs of fast food and its political implications 

high school high: graphic designer Veronica Kraus curates gems from old yearbooks—see also—via Messy Nessy Chic  

armed conflict survey: mapping wars around the world  

double fantasy: celebrated photographer Kishin Shinoyama, who captured the intimate moments of John Lennon and Yoko Ono for their album art (see below) passes away, aged 83 

 year-on-year: the word from Davos forecasts anaemic economic growth

synchronoptica

one year ago: Nobody Told Me plus canal workers’ jargon

two years ago: Mambo Italiano, RMS Queen Elizabeth plus the premier of the iPhone (2007)

three years ago: classic rebrands, assorted links to revisit, a snowy day, more on Cats plus a diet inducing doorway

four years ago: attempts for a peaceful resolution to the Iraq War (1991), the yacht whisperer plus plans for a Woven City

five years ago: the diplomatic status of the EU downgraded, more Hampsterdance, repairing the Azure Window plus more links to enjoy

Saturday 23 December 2023

from the depths of wikipedia (11. 207)

Via Super Punch, not only do we learn that Colonel Sanders guest starred on the soap opera General Hospital (on National Fried Chicken Day in 2018, which also exists), there is also a chaotic, esoteric—but serviceable programming language called Malbolge (see also), named after the eighth circle of Hell in Dante’s Divine Comedy, Malebolge, for fraudsters. The level of the inferno itself is divided into ten concentric trenches, bolgias, to segregate the panderers, mediums, grafters, grifters from the thieves and hypocrites and is guarded by a horde of torturing demons called the Malebranche. Someone is trying to kill Sanders to obtain the secret recipe of eleven herbs and spices and has placed a detonation device in the hospital. Because the Colonel knows Malbolge, he is able to disarm the bomb and stop the destruct sequence. Though not such a deep rabbit-hole, earlier in the week we also learned that aptly none of the original text from a 2003 entry on the philosophical quandary “The Ship of Theseus” remains.

synchronoptica

one year ago: Chinese internet slang, how to draw Christmas plus more data-visualisations from Daniel Huffman

two years ago: Latinisation of Chinese, Tibb’s Eve, coal-mining operations in Essen cease (1986), the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493), graphic designs of Uruguay plus the coat of arms of Paul McCartney

three years ago: assorted links worth revisiting 

four years ago: hortatory Antiphons

five years ago: St Thorlak, investigating glitter plus the Extinction Rebellion

Wednesday 20 December 2023

telharmonic hall (11. 197)

To round out the podcasting year, 99% Invisible presents a selection of choice minisodes on a variety of topics ranging from practising architecture without a license, decimalising the clock, ghost kitchens and fascinatingly the primordial streaming service, dial-a-song, subscription-based amenity patented by Thaddeus Cahill in 1897. For a monthly fee, people could listen to an entire electric orchestra over the telephone lines. The massive analogue instrument that synthesised the immersive experience was called the telharmonium—also a product of Cahill’s genius—and was the precursor to the Hammond organ and other electronic keyboards. As popular as the novelty was—including live concerts—by 1907, streaming subscribers turned toward the medium of radio. Much more at the links above.

synchronoptica

one year ago: snapshots of war, Harold and Maude plus more shibboleths

two years ago: assorted links to revisit 

three years ago: more links to enjoy, It’s a Wonderful Life, Missus Martin Luther, new plant species discovered, 2020 in review plus human hiberation

four years ago: the Battle of the Bastonge (1944) plus Brexit passes

five years ago: a new edition of Euclid’s Elements, typewriter art plus a reminder that when the service is free, you are the product

 

Wednesday 1 November 2023

mcjudgment (11. 088)

Via Superpunch, we quite enjoyed scrolling through this comic, “Hamburglar Goes to Hell,” by Michael Groversee previously, which manages to pack in not only quite a lot of McDonaldland lore and obscure references but also Christian cosmogony and eschatology with our hero escaping then and descending back through the Circles of the Inferno with an ultimate message of sacrifice and redemption. The Biblically accurate multi-winged, multi-eyed angel was a nice touch as were the demonic Fry-Guys and premordial Grimace. Robble, robble!

Tuesday 5 September 2023

9x9 (10. 984)

built on sand: UN monitoring reveals the alarming scale of marine dredging 

but the meteor men beg to differ, judging by the hole in the satellite picture: revisiting a cringey faux academic essay on “All Star” to realise that Steve Harwell (RIP) had more to tell us  

j-mouse: a procession of dead-end peripherals—I would get the PC in an ottoman 

⡆⠄: LEGO’s braille bricks offered free-of-charge to parents and educators now available to the general public 

the secret-sharer: a confessional box from Simone Giertz (previously) where one’s messages are only present for a few seconds before self-destructing  

phil a. o’fish: a short-lived McDonaldland mascot and early beef alternatives—via Weird Universe  

mixed media: experiential scale-models of Tracey Snelling inspired by the architecture of Berlin—including the Mรคusebunker 

premeditatio malorum: fifty short rules for better living from the Stoics  

thermohaline circulation: scientist support using the oceans’ inclination for equilibrium to pull in excess atmospheric carbon-dioxide—see previously

 synchronoptica

one year agoTainted Love (1981) plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: a film from D W Griffith, armorial bearings plus the debut of the Muppet Show (1976)

three years ago: the opening of the Gotthard Tunnel (1980)

four years ago: the greenwashing of the recycling movement plus a legendary kingdom in Bretagne

five years ago: a Freddie Mercury birthday bash, a Queen arrangement in brass, outsider artist James Henry Pullen plus reconciling with the end of coal through art

Monday 4 September 2023

hot labor summer (10. 983)

Amid ongoing strike actions by the Hollywood Writers’ Guild and pushes to unionise workers for increased leverage in bargaining with big manufacturers and retailers and the growing precarity of news outlets, this round-up and review on the US observance of Labor Day (see previously here and here) presents both hopeful and fraught factors for the movement’s reception and success. While a strong jobs market and with historically low unemployment has advantaged many workers in many industries and has momentum, changing paradigms, which companies can cite with varying levels of credulity, like generative content, cloning (the last time actors in 1960 joined the writers, a six-week stoppage awarded creators residuals from re-runs and syndication) as well as shifting to less labour-intensive manufacturing techniques—electric vehicles take few machinists to build and maintain, signalling major changes in productivity and the makeup of the workforce. While many in the US give vocal support to the ideal of unions, only ten percent of workers belong to one and the US Supreme Court has issued recent decisions that erode the right of workers to strike when negotiations, stalled and forced into a stalemate by business executives sold on technological utopias that have failed in many cases to materialise. The empires of off-license lodgings, gastronomy and taxi cabs haven’t translated to savings for consumers and are either petty kingdoms or indentured servitude for providers and streaming is just as expensive, exclusive, walled-off as cable or the studio-system. This changing posture of course has global implications and could further undermine workers’ rights.

Wednesday 12 July 2023

7x7 (10. 877)

stand and deliver: the internecine factions of the US Democratic Party and the legacy of political triangulation  

divide-and-conquer: Hollywood studios plan to drag out the Writers’ Strike until they’re destitute ground into submission—via Kottke 

rho ophiuchi: for its first year of observations, the JWST team releases an incredible image of the nearest stellar nursery—check out the comments section for an explanation about the telescope’s signature diffraction spikes  

ma’am, this is a wendy’s: chatbots—rather than outsourcing to call-centres—being trialled in fast food drive-thrus and are skilled in the upsell  

xai: Elon Musk launches artificial intelligence platform with aims to understand the true nature of the Universe 

pay-for-play: Albrecht Dรผrer inserted himself at the centre of a commissioned altarpiece in a dispute over his fee—via Damn Interesting  

by the dawn’s early light: plans to build a billion dollar, half-a-kilometre high flagpole in Western Maine—where the Sun’s first light hits the country—has its detractors

Tuesday 11 July 2023

7x7 (10. 874)

fit for a king: a selection of ersatz castles for sale in the US 

caliology: corvids using anti-bird spikes for nesting material
100ยบ in the shade
: mapping tree shadows 

free agent: labour force of the outsourced talk about the effects of the AI revolution—via Waxy  

ravensbourne: finding the lost rivers of London—see previously  

involuntary memory: the aetiology of earworms 

cheese royal: Burger King in Thailand introduces a menu item composed of twenty slices of American cheese

Sunday 9 July 2023

6x6 (10. 869)

kherson herbarium: botanists risked their lives in war-torn Ukraine to save a unique plant collection—see also  

public access: cute stuffed animals jam to vintage records at Otto’s Shrunken Head Tiki Bar & Lounge  

mctrains: a look at the fast food giant’s failed ventures 

fรถhnkrankheit: alpine downdrafts attributed to outbreaks of madness—via Strange Company  

msg sphere: a colossal orb covers an events venue in Las Vegas  

weedwork: a tour of the first cannabis coworking space in New York City

synchronoptica 

one year ago: Tron (1982), the first animated adaptation of The Hobbit, Chroegraphy for Copy Machine (1991), the Charles Bridge of Prague (1357) plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: past life regression for pets, the presidency of Millard Fillmore plus transiting through Denmark

three years ago: more adventures along the Moselle plus independence for the Republic of Palau (1981)

four years ago: electromagnetic pulse experiments (1961) plus the minimal republics of Rubรฉn Martรญn de Lucas

five years ago: spider ballooning, salterns from above, the Brexit Bulldog resigns plus artist Joshua Reynolds

 

Sunday 4 June 2023

9x9 (10. 786)

folkocracy: the latest from Rufus Wainwright  

old hollywood: one property management company dedicated to preserving Los Angeles’ vintage homes and apartments 

ladies’ ordinaries: a look at how gender got on the menu—see also 

cultivating a creative community: Tina Roth Eisenberg on “How I Built This”  

ologies: a comprehensive chart of the medical disciplines and how they fit together—also a good podcast  

purchasing power parity: mapping the cheapest Big Macs  

morbid passion for one of the opposite sex: the recent invention of heterosexuality  

controspazio: a photographic tribute to the recently departed post-modernist architect Paolo Portoghesi  

what a wicked thing to do—to let me dream of you: Tenacious D kicks off their next tour with a cover of the 1989 Chris Isaak hit

Thursday 4 May 2023

7x7 (10. 718)

eyecandy: a collection of dynamic, animated type—via Pasa Bon!  

grand promenade: a survey of old New York’s rooftop theatres  

expo 67: impressions of the central exhibition of Canada’s centennial celebrations—see previously  

may the fourth be with you: a retro, fan-made Star Wars film festival—see more under the tagged posts  

not lovin’ it: McDonald’s franchises in the United States fined for violations of child labour laws—see also 

playfair: data presentations by the eighteenth century creator of the the line, bar and pie charts 

fontself: the midpoint of the annual Thirty Six Days of Type celebration

Wednesday 5 April 2023

8x8 (10. 655)

lorem ipsum: the Bitcoin whitepaper is hidden in the Mac operating system 

duchenne smile: AI bias towards American standards skews cultural norms—see also  

soapbox: in a continuing attack against journalism, Twitter categories National Public Radio as state-affiliated media  

desancimonious: the problem with the governor of Florida eventually solves itself 

carhop: a classic post from Kottke on McDonald’s early years

grift: US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (previously) has been a flagrant recipient of rather lavish kickbacks and gratuities for decades—via Boing Boing  

talk of the town: Japan’s singular buttered toast critic 

illnumerate: George Box’ maxim and the problem with economic modelling

Wednesday 22 February 2023

8x8 (10. 564)

your heart fits me like a glove: Madonna dream diary 

clickword: a Scrabble-like single-player game—via Miss Cellania  

sideshow bob roberts: Simpsons show-runner Josh Weinstein shares a treasury of easter eggs and little known provenances  

arby’s+: more restaurant franchises are turning to subscription plans 

the dรผsseldorf patient: a fifth individual is cured of HIV after stem-cell therapy  

jpeg: an image only newsletter with click-through surprises—via Waxy  

aurora borealis—at this time of year, at this time of day, in this part of the country, localised entirely within your kitchen: an infinite Steamed Hams generated by AI—see previously, see also

air-brush: popular photographer admits his portraits are synthesised by an neural network

images from the collective unconscious: Olga Frรถbe-Kapteyn’s archive of dream archetypes

Tuesday 31 January 2023

the golden arches theory (10. 512)

On the anniversary of the opening of the first McDonald’s establishment in Pushkin Square in 1990—an earlier earnest effort was undertaken by the Canadian master franchise for the 1980 Summer Olympic Games, famously boycotted by America, realising the host city offered no fast food options, arranged to open two pop-up restaurants by the main stadium but the plan was vetoed at the last minute by Moscow’s mayor, it’s a good occasion to visit the above adage of globalisation from Thomas Friedman that no belligerents both host McDonald’s. This conflict prevention measure is flawed, however, with the US invasion of Panama, the bombing of Serbia, Lebanon, the annexation of Crimea which shut down Russian outlets temporarily and the divesture of the company following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Nearly forty-thousand guests were served that day, queuing in the cold for hours.