Monday, 4 April 2022

breadbasket

Via Miss Cellania, we quite enjoyed this appreciation of the Ukrainian roots of wheat world-wide—see also—and how grain-cultivation and baking traditions owe a heavy debt to the Crimean peninsula and successive exoduses and displacement—and what those fleeing carried with them. National banner modelled on the blue sky over the waves of grain, times like these reveal the depth of our connections and dependence.



Saturday, 2 April 2022

6x6

un robot quadrupede al servizio dell’archeologia: SPOT to patrol ruins of Pompeii and protect the site from looters—also raising a quandary for future archaeologists 

satanic panic: the full 1993 (!) cult awareness pamphlet (see previously)—via Weird Universe  

dans l’ombre du star wars kid: the National Film Board of Canada’s documentary on the internet phenomenon  

entrรฉe: a family-run Tbilisi-based artisanal bakery expands into East London 

the atlantean: after Dallas (debuting on this day in 1978), Patrick Duffy appeared as a merfolk-hybrid hero

intonarumori: Luigi Russolo’s experimental sound machines

Friday, 18 March 2022

prank calls

Both the UK defence minister and and home secretary took video calls earlier this week from imposters claiming to be the Ukrainian prime minister and were posed leading questions in an attempt to solicit inappropriate and provocative responses but quickly saw through the hoax. Though unclear what party was behind it, officials are blaming Russian disinformation campaigns and the fact that fraudsters could gain access to top ministers is worrying regardless of motive—the report ending with a linguistic coda touching on the topic of shibboleths and that future callers should be credentialed or outed by how they pronounce palianytsia, a traditional kind of roll, that Russian speakers pronounce with a soft <ฤญ> instead of <ะธ>.

Sunday, 13 March 2022

sant’ansovino

Fรชted on this day, the sainted bishop of Camerino-San Severino Marche in the Apennines refused the high office until could secure personal guarantees from Holy Roman Emperor, Louis II—for who Ansovinus was former confessor—that his congregation would be exempt from military conscription, one of the chief jobs of bishops during that time was as recruiter for the imperial army. Reportedly having the gift of inexhaustibly multiplying stores of wheat in the regional granary in Castel Raimondo and for producing a copious amount of crops from his own meagre plot of land, never refusing to share, this ninth century figure is named the patron of agriculture and the protector of small farmers.

Saturday, 19 February 2022

7x7

a fistful of manicules: Shady Characters explores several font specimens of the typographers’ mark—see previously  

la conquรชte du pain: an anarcho-communist bakery going strong in Montreuil  

peeping tom: Facebook’s demise following that of mySpace  

storyliving: Disneyland pre-retirement communities—via Web Curios 

erste jahrzehnten: German Design Awards marks its first decade with a special exhibit  

sold for sol 1800: it appears that Melania Trump purchased her own NTF—via New Shelton wet/dry 

i shot the serif: foundry Neubau Berlin pays homage to Mid-Century international fonts

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

7x7

desert fox: play-through for a complex, WWII-themed board game, The Campaign for North Africa, that requires over fifteen hundred hours to complete  

hill house: a giant drying-box that preserves an Art Deco marvel by Charles Rennie Mackintosh—via Things Magazine 

the greatest thing since sliced bread: a satisfying video showing the steps in production in an industrial bakery in South Korea  

lightsaber flavour: alternative designations from young people that far surpass their proper names—via Miss Cellania’s Links 

rip: a celebration of the life and vision of Douglas Trumbull, special effects artist behind Silent Running, Close Encounters, 2001 and many others

multiple arcade machine emulator: after a quarter of a century, the MAME project is still releasing monthly new additions for home play—via Waxy  

ltee: the E. coli long-term evolution experiment has been running since 1988 and monitoring the mutations in twelve original strains over tens of thousands of generations

Saturday, 5 February 2022

8x8

eye-in-the-sky: a collection of superlative drone photography 

gravitational lensing: tentatively, astronomers find evidence of the first rogue, marauding black hole over a backdrop of nebular clouds 

wheel of fortune: Wordle but with common quotations and idioms—via Memo of the Air

para||el: a short film about divergent realities by Mรฉnilmonde  

building & loan: more on the economics of gift-cards—see also  

staying toasty: bread hats and loafers, see also  

three little words: what3words (see previously) solves some problems for vehicle guidance and navigation, causes others—via Duck Soup  

to open every kind of lock: burglars’ spells and incantations 

scotus: a former law clerk writes the Wikipedia articles on Biden’s prospective nominees to the US Supreme Court in order to insert doubt and skepticism, via Super Punch  

bird’s eye view: a parrot in New Zealand pilfers a family’s Go-Pro and films some nice scenery

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

7x7

tomm¥ €a$h: rapper presents a sofa in the shape of bread  

banana republic: an exhibit that takes a critical look at the fruit trade—see also  

field manual: the predecessor agency to the US CIA issued a guide to simple sabotage which speaks to America’s present state 

bio-rovers: Marimo moss balls (previously) could become ambulatory—see also here and here  

spinthatiscope: an actual 1940s toy harnessing radioactive decay fragments of life: a suite of animated emoji from Andreas Samuelsson 

 middle c: a space-saving piano designed to fit in a corner—see also

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

toast malone

Via Kottke’s Quick Links, we learn of the supremely economical recipe included in the invalid cookery (medically restricted diets, see also) section of an 1861 volume on household management by one Isabella “Mrs” Beeton (still in print, a best-selling though highly plagiarised compendium formative for the middle-class image of the Victorian Era) for a toast sandwich, whose filling is unsurprisingly a thin slice of toasted bread, buttered with salt and pepper to taste.


Friday, 30 July 2021

after dark

Via Boing Boing, we are directed to a suite of classic screen-saver recreations in Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) mark-up language in homage to Berkeley Systems’ Flying Toasters, Randomiser and other visualisations. For some time, my default snooze or sleep mode has been a gallery of our pictures but it’s fun to cultivate and reconfigure settings periodically, like swapping out ringtones and other sound-effects.  Find more projects from Brian Braun at his website.

Monday, 9 November 2020

boy those germans have a word for everything

Having grown accustomed to the point of reliance on the term Schadenfreude, it was refreshing to learn that there is a perfectly cromulent English synonym, epicaricacy, that conveys the same sense of deriving pleasure from the misfortune of others. From the Greek From Ancient Greek แผฯ€ฮนฯ‡ฮฑฮนฯฮตฮบฮฑฮบฮฏฮฑ for “joy upon evil” (see previously), it is rarely found in print (other than in mentions of words to be adopted and rehabilitated) with one of the more recent citations being in C.S. Lewis’ 1933 Pilgrim’s Regress as a personified character, an eponymous gloating and sadistic woman.

Thursday, 1 October 2020

8x8

cheese tetrahedrons and synergetic stew: a celebrity cookbook presented to author and futurist Buckminster Fuller (previously) reissued for the one hundred twenty-fifth anniversary of his birth  

lรผften: tried and true ventilation and fresh air may be the most effective way to stave off more infections  

heart of sharkness: winning images and honourable mentions from a drone photography contest  

fรถrรคldrapenning: a South Korean man living in Sweden documents his daily routine 

adobe flash: an appreciation of the platform that shaped the internet and the implications of suspending support for the multimedia plug-in and player—via Kottke  

disaster constitutionalism: EU taking the UK to court, despite only breaking international law in a “specific and limited way”  

can our government be competent: celebrating Jimmy Carter’s ninety-sixth birthday (previously) in campaign buttons

eat fresh: with tax implications for the franchise, Irish high court rules that one fast food chain’s bread cannot be called bread or a dietary staple due to its high sugar content—via Boing Boing

Saturday, 1 August 2020

hlaf-masse

From the Anglo-Saxon for “loaf mass,” Lammas Day is celebrated in some parts of the northern hemisphere on the first of August, Lammastide falling halfway between the summer solstice and the autumn equinox, by bringing bread to the church made of the first fruits of the season to be used for communion. Traditionally, members of the clergy reciprocally made a procession to local bakeries to bless them as a profession (it is a good reason to bring out ye old breadmaker) and is a syncretism, substitution for the Gaelic festival to herald the beginning of harvest time called Lughnasadh (Lรบnasa, Lรนnastal, Luanistyn) readopted by practitioners of Celtic neopaganism.

Thursday, 7 May 2020

corn dollies

At the crafty crossroads where creativity meets cult, Messy Nessy Chic presents a thoroughgoing history and how-to on cereal and straw art—referencing the ancient customs of the harvest (which continue into modern times) that saved the first (see also) and last sheaves of grain to fashion them into corn maidens or matrons that would winter with the family, exchanged as gifts during Yule to be ploughed into the furrows of the next season’s planting to ensure the continuity of abundance. Straw is worked, plaited, woven, spun according to centuries old tradition into some rather fantastic monuments, costumes and handicrafts—certainly worth admiring and wondering about their meaning and power, if not trying to create charms of our own.

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

moment of zen

Via the always excellent Nag on the Lake, we are directed to designer Manami Sasaki who has transformed her breakfast toast into creative canvases and are seconding the nomination for favourite subject: we are really enjoying this depiction of a traditional Japanese Rock Garden (ๆžฏๅฑฑๆฐด—literally a dry landscape and meant as a heuristic tool to help the gardener contemplate the meaning of existence by representing the essence of Nature and not its physical manifestation), with cream cheese spread carefully raked with nuts and condiments artfully arranged as stones and other elements. We also admired the care and repair dedicated to another slice of torn bread.

Friday, 6 September 2019

brauรฐklefinn

Sensitive to the huge problem of food waste, an enterprising bakery in Iceland has installed a superannuated telephone booth on its premises in which to deposit the leftovers from the end of the day and offer them for sale to late-comers on a trust system at a deeply discounted price. Local patrons are delighted with the idea of being able to get fresh breads afterhours and help reduce what would otherwise end up in landfills. I hope more small businesses might take a cue from this bakery and invest in the honour and integrity of shoppers and right-sizing production.

Friday, 5 July 2019

essential amino acids

Developed in partnership with a state research centre and a prestigious Finnish university, the protein powder provisionally called solein, brewed by microbes fermenting the gaseous by-products of the simple electrolytic reduction of water—pliable into any form and with magnitudes less of an environmental impact than traditional agricultural, needing no extra irrigation or arable land, certainly sounds intriguing.
What do you think about that?  Considering how much territory is given over to livestock grazing and the ecological pressures that creates, it is time to re-evaluate our priorities. Fortified and chemically flavoured, the start up behind it which aims to scale-up to produce two billion meals per year after its initial debut says that the powder base can be adjusted and improvised to fit any palette.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

kenyรฉr varรกzslat

Our thanks to always bewitching Art of Darkness for revealing to us a common trope through Hungarian folklore in the apotropaic magic of bread. To ward off impending evil, tradition dictates that one simply place a loaf of bread in a windowsill and allow the bread to speak for itself:

First they buried me under the ground, and I survived. When I sprouted and thrived they cruelly cut me down with by sickle, yet I survived. They threshed me with the flails and I survived. They ground me to flower with their millstone yet I survived. They kneaded me in a bowl, and then they put me in a hot over to bake me and I have survived. Have you done all these things? Until you live through all these things, you have no power here.

Though this stems from the same superstitions that cause one to fret over vampire pumpkins (which would seem to kind of cancel things out), I do like imagining some twee croissant standing up to maleficent forces demanding admission into one’s house and being roundly rebuffed.

Friday, 17 August 2018

bran and chaff

The fact that the genetic code of rice and maize were mapped in 2002 and 2009 respectively and the wheat genome is just now being puzzled out is not a comment on the staple crop’s importance—both culturally and agriculturally, but rather testament to advances in computational power pitted against an incredibly complex blue-print that is magnitudes larger than human DNA (three billion base pairs as opposed to sixteen billion in a cell of wheat) and is composed of six copies of each chromosome (hexaploid) compared to diploid humans (XY, XX).
One wonders how much fourteen-thousand years of farming contributed to that complicated pedigree and how much was driven by natural forces.  Equipped with this more complete picture and an understanding behind the mechanism and orientation of how certain traits are expressed, after careful research and deliberation (the worst trade-offs are the ones we don’t see coming) scientists hope to be able to select for adaptable cultivars that can withstand a hotter, drier climate or varieties that don’t require pesticides or fertiliser, like this indigenous Mexican corn that can fix its own nitrogen from the air. Other applications could yield wheat-based products that are more nutritious and palatable for people with intolerance to it.

Friday, 2 March 2018

it's toasted

The eponymous reaction was named for French chemist and pharmacist Louis Camille Maillard with the later collaboration of US Department of Agriculture fellow John Edward Hodge who described and established the chemical mechanism for it is the most common spell of kitchen-witchery, which we were heretofore quite in the dark about until being intrigued by TYWKIWDBI.

It endows baked, seared and roasted foods with their distinctive aromas and flavours. The process that leads to the production of hundreds of different and nuanced flavour compounds is the interaction of amino acids and sugars catalysed by reaching a target temperature—typically 140 to 180 degrees Celsius—flirting with the threshold of burning. French fries, stir-fry, malted beverages, Lucky Strikes, bagels, toast, roasted coffee and chocolate are some of the foods and drinks that owe their savour to the Maillard reaction.