Thursday 22 February 2024

totally and utterly carparked (11. 370)

We enjoyed this essay on the supposition that most any English (or foreign for that matter) word can be turned into a posh, polite euphemism or intensifying drunkonym, which piqued the interest of linguists in Chemnitz and Erlangen to assay the subject and prove the adage, compiling an impressive five hundred synonym list in common parlance, following a long tradition of glossing terms, which includes contributions by Benjamin Franklin among others. There are the standards like blotto, totalled and gazebo’d, tosspots and more colourful, improvised for the nonce examples like tangled-legged, zozzled and slug-nutty. More from Jennifer Ouellette at the link above and let us know your favourites.

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit plus the Florida Purchase (1819)

two years ago: more links to enjoy plus National Cat Days

three years ago: more links worth the revisit, the throne of St Peter, delightful idioms plus Navajo Star Wars

four years ago: Pope Sanbinian, a virtual news anchor, division bells plus a daytrip to the Milseberg

five years ago: Mister X and the Long Telegram, Rihanna’s fashions as a guiding compass plus racing ranks of Big Tech

Sunday 11 February 2024

sarah t—portrait of a teenage alcoholic (11. 341)

Also featuring the acting talents of Dallas’ Larry Hagman and Star Wars’ Mark Hamill, the made for television movie starring Linda Blair of The Exorcist (previously) in the title role was first aired on the NBC network on this day in 1975. Dealing with isolation and loneliness, a fifteen-year-old takes after her estranged father, drinking to cope with feelings of inadequacy and begins to surreptitiously raid her mother’s liquor cabinet, having associated inebriation with greater social stability. Having passed out whilst babysitting and numerous interventions, Sarah can’t admit she has a problem until a near-fatal horse-riding accident (mortally wounding the horse, who is euthanised) and joins Alcoholics Anonymous. 

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit plus Planet Money Valentines

two years ago: an AI reimagines sci-fi comics panels, the Internet Sacred Text Archive plus more links to enjoy

three years ago: more links worth the revisit, bar sounds plus a unique file naming convention

four years ago: political engagement, Merkel’s would be successor steps down, gravity wells plus European emergency numbers

five years ago: the American Petrol-State, anosmia, medals for the Tokyo games to be made out of recovered specie from electronic waste plus the art of Andy Dixon

Friday 2 February 2024

stag & nag (11. 316)

The apparatus of a seagoing vessel’s box compass was suspended in alcohol in order to prevent freezing and the magnet from seizing up, and through this rather incredible punitive process imposed on a serial offender with a particular craving for tapping the navigation of ships, we encounter an impressive clipping’s introductory copy—cited without the aid of a ready resource like a Wikipedia stub—on an etymology which with we weren’t familiar. Whilst acquainted with the likely disappointingly spurious folk roots of the Elephant & Castle, more authentic instances of canting as branding like ‘spread-eagle’ (in reference to the imperial arms of the Reichsadler) to indicate an establishment where German wine and beer was sold, the public backlash against publicans’ paired namings as early as the start of the eighteenth century with often incongruous results, as opposed to patronage or services provided, like the cheese inn of Stilton. The not uncommon pub name “Goats and Compasses,” (see above) may come from, like “Pig and Whistle” the corruption of a benediction, piggin wassail in Anglo-Saxon and might be derived from a mishearing of ‘God encompasses [us]’—either that, of the canting arms of two guilds, the Worshipful Companies of Cordwainers and Carpenters, each with three of the domesticated livestock and three compasses, the drafting instruments rather than the navigation aid. More on the recidivist James Wishart Lyon and his unusual compulsion at Weird Universe at the link up top.

Sunday 24 December 2023

the shot (11. 212)

With echoes of this other accidental Renaissance painting of New Year’s revelry captured by Joel Goodman on the streets of Manchester in 2015, this scene captured by Dimitris Legakis in Swansea on the Friday before Christmas recalls to some students of art history the lifeboat ensemble from The Raft of the Medusa, the visceral depiction of the writhing survivors of the tragic and scandalous wrecking of a frigate off the coast of Mauritania in 1816—which by foreshortening the tumult of figures on this massive canvas by Thรฉodore Gรฉricault appear more than life-sized.

Tuesday 28 November 2023

9x9 (11. 146)

the big easy: Bonapartist diaspora had designs for Napoleon to retire in New Orleans—via Messy Nessy Chicsee also courtesy of Super Punch  

holiday emporium: Kottke’s annual gift guide returns after a hiatus  

triple word score: players and lexicographers are a bit mortified with Scrabble’s new tournament rules  

colophon: the rise and fall of Borders Books 

moonlight towers: during the infancy of electric lighting, there was a predecessor to serial lamps  

pump and dump: insurance companies are exacerbating the climate crisis 

fiat: during the bank strikes of Ireland in the 1970s, pubs stepped in to fill their function—via the new shelton wet/dry  

ai garage sale: haggle with robots for real items—via Waxy  

pas de goulots d’รฉtranglement dans la production: a strange 1940 diagram from linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf presenting French as a factory assembly line

Friday 15 September 2023

9x9 (11. 002)

you deserve to sit: a comedian’s silly song about their favourite inactivity  

๐Ÿ˜ธ: visit a random feline friend featured on Wikipedia—via Pasa Bon!  

& let it stonde .1. nyght or .2.: a medieval recipe for mead  

montage: the animated collages of Alice Issac  

shrinkflation: a French supermarket chain displaying advisory labels to alert consumers 

word alienation and semantic satiation: one of the laureates of the thirty-third Ig Noble Awards—see also here and here  

consult our extensive archives: veteran broadcaster—and BBC’s first podcaster, Melvyn Bragg celebrates one thousand episodes  

pagliacci: a pizza chef turns melodramatic over a cursed request

synchronoptica 

one year ago: Our Lady of Sorrows plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: forest mascots (1971) plus a Star Trek: TAS classic

three years ago: more Trek with “Amok Time,” illustrations from the children of Charles Darwin, rousing public sentiment following the Gunpowder Plot, life signs on Venus plus a COVID movie-night

four years ago: more on Jupiter’s moons, a hot Colonel Sanders, public crucifixes, Lovecraft in the style of Dr Seuss plus Graphis Press

five years ago: an AI names apples, the Ig Noble Awards, the Great Recession’s Lost Decade plus legalising marijuana confounded by travel regulations

Sunday 27 August 2023

best in show (10. 967)

During a grouse hunting party four years earlier, the managing director of the brewery Sir Hugh Beaver became involved with a shooting companion over the identity of the fastest game bird in the region—owing to his having missed his quarry ostensibly—and realising that there was no easy way of settling this debate without recourse to experts saw an immediate niche in the reference book market. Beaver employed a London fact-finding agency run by brothers Norris and Ross McWhirter (both boasting encyclopaedic memories) compiled The Guinness Book of Superlatives and gave away a thousand copies to associates and to bars licensed to serve the beer. Due to its surprise popularity, a two-hundred page edition was bound the following year, released on this day in 1955 and became best-seller in the UK immediately, prompting a second edition before Christmas and entered the international market. Beginning in the early 1970s, the annual began to include record feats of strength and stamina by human individuals as well as facts about the natural world and is considered one of the best-selling books of all time.

synchronoptica

one year ago: happy birthday George Jetson, St Monica of Hippo, experiments with OpenAI plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: the eruption of Kraktoa (1883), a clever, interactive CV and help wanted ad plus the origin of the word antidote

three years ago: the Zugspitze surveyed and summitted (1820), home shopping with Harrod’s, an abundance of caution, the Hatch Act (1939) plus a seventeenth century friends book

five years ago: pulp covers reimagined by Todd Alcott plus the Kellogg-Briand Pact against future wars (1928) 

six years ago: a pocket Wikipedia

Sunday 13 August 2023

sunday drive: talsperre lรผtsche (10. 941)

On the way back from some window-shopping, we took a detour through the Geratal to Frankenhain for a stroll around the second biggest artificial lake in the region (previously). Dammed in 1935 by the Deutschen Reichsbahn in order to provide a source of water for stations in Erfurt and Arnstadt, by the time the reservoir (Stausee) was completed steam-powered locomotion was being superseded and it was converted to hydropower—and today the same supply-system to cool data centres in Neudietendorf and for brewery operations connected to the train stations that have repurposed the cisterns. The tributary rivers have their source near the winter sports destination Oberhof, whose ancient volcanic composition of quartz porphyry were also the quarry for the retaining walls. Used primarily for recreational activities currently, it was certainly a nice walk down to the beach and good to visit the area again.

Wednesday 5 July 2023

church key (10. 862)

From the shifting onus of mass-delivered single-use that incentivised disposing of one’s beverage container properly to the technological innovations that allowed beer from a can to be palatable and not compromised in the filling and distribution process while being easily and readily accessible, to follow-on safety concerns about the opening mechanism and wide-spread pull-tabs, which led to engineering that we are familiar with today, we are directed towards the design history of the aluminium can. Learn more from Tedium at the link above—with plenty of top-popping detail.

Tuesday 16 May 2023

9x9 (10. 745)

speak-easy: the Chicago Sun-Times bought a bar in 1977, staffed with undercover reporters to investigate city government corruption—via Messy Nessy Chic  

mapbacks: Dell pulp mysteries back covers featuring crime scene schematics—via Things Magazine 

team delft: a hydrogen-powered bubble car is setting records  

lรถwenzahn: the linkages between dandelions and human history—see previously 

global town square: for Silicon Valley capitalists “bringing people together” is value-neutral 

no static at all: automakers removing AM radio, in part because electric engines can interfere with the reception—see more, see previously

a free-speech absolutist: Twitter acquiesced to a selective purdah just prior to the ballot in Tรผrkiye—more here  

hey maga: Randy Rainbow savages Florida governor and presidential hopeful with “Welcome to DeSantis”—a parody of “Welcome to the Sixties” from Hairspray  

upworthy: the downfall of American reporting through clickbait and catchpenny tactics

Friday 28 April 2023

8x8 (10. 703)

iter vestrum: a journey to the ends of the Roman Empire with contemporary routing guides—see previously 

the bartender’s travelling book: the secret history of the drinks recipe anthology that has crossed the globe 

eigengrau: a colour palette of what people report to see with their eyes closed—see previously—via Web Curios 

chirper: a social media network only for AI—via ibฤซdem  

casas del turuรฑuelo: first figural representations of the Bronze Age Tartessian culture found, an Iberian people spuriously linked to the myth of Atlantissee also 

aurabesh: a very thorough Star Wars inspired typeface—see also—via Kottke 

toby mug: an assortment of East End brewery labels  

bradshaw’s guide: a travelogue of modern Europe with a Victorian era itinerar—check out Messy Nessy’s new look

Saturday 22 April 2023

10x10 (10. 690)

shave and a hair-cut: a collection of personalised nineteenth century barber shop occupation mugs

culture wars, cola wars: of course that anti-woke beer is just a huge pandering grift  

architecture in music: the photography of Charles Brooks makes the interiors of instruments appear like megastructures  

million dollar homepage: tout your website for one second of the day—via Web Curios  

knit grotesk: a sewable font

yes, virginia, there is a santa claus: the adaptation of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret does not disappoint  

intuitive daily stitching: Karen Turner’s knitted visual diary infographics: compelling visualisations that changed public opinion and scientific consensus 

high life: directed by the Comitรฉ, Belgian customs officials crushes a shipment of two-thousand cans of Miller over its “Champagne of Beers” motto 

hairdressers: a BBC videography library on different aspects of the industry

Tuesday 11 April 2023

9x9 (10. 667)

pass****123: a visualisation of pilfered passwords aggregated from various leaks and breaches

event horizon: a streak of young stars may be the wake of a supermassive black hole ejected from its host galaxy  

pop: speeding locomotives in an animated short by Yoji Kuri—see previously  

you sank my battleship: leaked NATO plans for bolstering Ukraine’s military were first circulating on a Minecraft gaming forum—more here  

what, me worry: a celebration of the long life and career of cartoonist Al Jaffee 

bierpulver: the Neuzeller Klosterbrรคu, known for other innovative libations, introduces a dehydrated beer that one needs only add water to   

example handshake: a look at the squelch of the dial-up modem  

trapezoidal flux deviation: an alternative proposal for the non-existence of exoplanets—via the New Shelton wet/dry  

a generator and a discriminator: AI can crack most users’ passwords in under two minutes—via Dam Interresting’s Curated Links

Tuesday 13 December 2022

9x9 (10. 381)

deep field: JWST scans the skies  

mar1d: in-game action as our protagonist would experience the Mushroom Kingdom—like Flatland—via Kottke  

ny๐ŸŒณ: the City’s popular tree map updated to include a hundred thousand park residents—via Map Room  

even a cat can look at the queen: an exhibition of fine feline art 

tumbleword: a daily challenge from Jer Thorp—via Waxy  

math and the mechanics: the surprising origin story of the Cura Calculator 

cervoise: brewer informed by ancient herbal and unhopped beer predecessor  

world in motion: New Order’s 1990 World Cup anthem—via Digg  

splash down: Artemis’ Orion capsule (previously) returns after a perfectly executed trial run

Sunday 16 October 2022

7x7 (10. 229)

symphony of the birds: CBS Radio director Jim Fassett’s 1960 experimental arrangement  

home row: Google Japan develops a long, horizontal keyboard for messy desks—reminded us of the iPhone Taller that doubles a guitar  

benevolent dictator: a profile of President Kevin Baugh and his micronation of Molossia—via the New Shelton wet/dry  

kunstradfahren: a graceful bicycle ballet by a skilled practitioner of this 130 year old sport  

barcalounger: ten homes whose decor is tied together with classic Eames chairs—see previously

unreliable narrator: microbrews and hipster beer names  

peer-reviewed: birdsong helps alleviate human anxiety and paranoia

Monday 19 September 2022

last post

Whereas the B♭ version might be more familiar, the E♭ variation is employed by the State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry and the particular flourish was acquired by British troops garrisoned in the Netherlands (see also), drawing on an older Dutch custom called taptoe—root of a military tattoo or send-off and the North American version of “taps”—signalling the end of the duty day, the solemnity of the taptoe itself adopted as an extension of last call, Doe den tap toe—a reminder to make sure that the beer spigots were closed before shutting down for the evening. More coverage of the historic state funeral, including this ceremony, from the BBC and the Guardian

Friday 3 June 2022

your hit parade

The cover of the standard ล koda lรกsky (Wasted Love) by Jaromir Vejvoda known in the German Sprachraum as Rosamunde and released for English-speaking audiences under the title “Beer Barrel Polka” by accordionist and bandleader Will Glahรฉ topped the charts in the United States on this day in 1939, selling over one-million copies by 1943. Glahรฉ, prohibited by the Chamber of Culture of the Third Reich from spelling his name with an accent from 1934 to 1945, had toured internationally and were particularly popular in America and achieved further successes with his “Liechtensteiner Polka” and “The Cuckoo Waltz” and performed with the Glenn Miller Orchestra and Fats Domino.

Thursday 19 May 2022

dunstanus

With a wildly popular cult following until eventually being overshadowed by the martyred Thomas Becket, Saint Dunstan, cleric, scribe, artist, blacksmith, brewer and advisor to many kings is feted on this day on the anniversary of his death in 988 (*909). Entering monastic life in the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey in the company of Irish monks who occupied the site, young Dunstan excelled at all forms of craftsmanship and scholarship and was soon appointed to the court of Athelstan. Palace intrigues ensued and other courtiers grew jealous of the noviciate’s influence and sought to disgrace Dunstan with accusations of witchcraft. Distaste for politics caused Dunstan to return to Glastonbury and build a small hermitage and during this interlude before eventually being recalled to London and then acclaimed archbishop of Canterbury as he got to know God, Dunstan reportedly developed a relationship with the Devil as well, rebuffing temptation several times, arranging for the late frosts of Franklin Nights (to fall around his future feast day) to spoil the cider harvest so his own beer might be more in demand and at the Devil’s request shod and unshod one of his hooves. The ill-advised experience turned out to be too painful for the Prince of Darkness and is apparently an enduring trauma as he cannot pass through a threshold under a horseshoe—the origin supposedly of the lucky symbol.

Saturday 14 May 2022

mise of lewes

Reviewing the chronicle of historic events that happened on this day, I was reminded of something spotted on our 2016 trip across England and this marker in the town of Lewes that commemorated the settlement (a rare English term from legal French, the past participle of mettre—to put) struck on this day during the

Second Barons’ War in 1264 between embattled Henry III and the rebellious gentry under the leadership of Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester. On the brink of civil war, displeased with high taxation and tribute and foreign influence in the royal court, landholders and king negotiated a series of reforms that placed policy decisions in a council of magnates but was soon diluted and returned to status quo ante bellum, particularly after arbitration by Louis IX, a champion of royal prerogative and who certainly didn’t want a revolt on his hands, fighting broke out again at the fields of Lewes. Though with his victory,
Simon de Montfort was effectively made ruler of England, he was not able to hold power or maintain a stable government was was himself killed one year later during the Battle of Evesham. The monument to the battle and peace treaty was erected in 1964, the seven hundredth anniversary.  It was a nice occasion also to revisit some impressions (which I think we’ve not shared before) of this ancient town in Sussex with castle ruins and venerable brewery.

Sunday 13 March 2022

6x6

choose your own adventure: the character-driven photography of Grzegorz Kurzejamski invites the viewer to create a narrative for them  

warp and werf: the Scottish Register of Tartans welcomes a new Ukrainian pattern  

(oh what a night): reaching number one on American charts on this day in 1976, the Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons hit was originally called “Fifth December 1933” and about the end of Prohibition 

cat naps: Hosei University researches what humans can glean from feline sleep patterns  

toad town: an exhaustive collection of level maps from many video game franchises—via Things Magazine  

photovoltaics: the photographic portfolio of Catherine Canac-Marquis