Sunday 25 February 2024

11x11 (11. 380)

sure, write stuff for free—but write it for yourself: maintaining one’s creativity in the bleak media sector brickwalling and the loss of journalistic records  

rage-baiting: viral Tik-Tok couple troll influencer culture with such precision most don’t realise it’s satire—via Super Punch  

the paint explainer: a primer on the twenty-seven amendments to the US Constitution—via Memo of the Air 

dark dimensions: there’s a new theory about where dark matter might be hiding  

the sony smartwig: a 2016 patent granted for a connected hairpiece one pairs with their phone for tactile feedback 

the navel on an orange is a mutation that created a conjoined twin: weird information to dispense on a first date—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links 

the riker manoeuvre: small towns with monuments to Star Trek characters—via Marginal Revolution  

selectric funeral: the Boston Typewriter Orchestra hopes to appear in NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert with this submission  

awful yet lawful: US Supreme Court to entertain grievances on social media moderation for deplatforming hateful and dangerous content  

multi-level marketing: a supercut of huckster Donald Trump’s merchandising scams 

you can out-buzzfeed buzzfeed after all: media group in takeover talks with UK’s The Independent—see previously

Saturday 24 February 2024

cognitive offloading (11. 376)

Via Good Internet, whilst there have always been panics over new technological extensions of the human mind leading to decline and atrophy from platonic criticism of the written word to the “boob tube” to the toxicity and tribalism of the web, one researcher with the University of Monterrey fears that the capacity of artificial intelligence for mimicry goes beyond facilitating study and investigation with instant answers and unverifiable connections (possibly beneficial—yet to be seen and the verdict is still out—for navigating a native digital environment for things like programming and debugging and those onerous tasks, and jobs, that only exist because systems don’t talk to one another and integration is difficult) that might make us lazy and less critical but poses a real threat in supplanting our executive functions. Rather than stimulating and enhancing thought and examination, ready answers, verging towards dogmatism when it comes to nuanced and complex ideas, these shortcuts, short-circuits could make judgment and creativity an increasingly rare commodity.

Friday 23 February 2024

welcome to my ted talk (11. 371)

Founded on this day in 1984, the first Technology, Entertainment, Design conference of the US-Canadian non-profit media organisation—freely distributing “ideas worth spreading—featured futurist Mickey Schulhof demonstrating the compact disc, invented some eighteen months prior, and the Apple Macintosh with presentations by mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, Nicholas Negroponte (with some rather prescient predictions, see also) and Whole Earth Catalogue’s Steward Brand. Broadening to scientific, cultural, humanitarian and academic topics, the main symposium has been held annually in Vancouver with other events interspersed throughout the year hosted globally and has been available universally under a Creative Commons license online since 2006.

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit, Civilisation plus number names

two years ago: more on the Royal Order of Adjectives plus London’s courting of oligarchs

three years ago: Quo Vadis (1951), the names of chess pieces plus Unworter of the Year

four years ago: more links to enjoy, ending NDAs, a superspreader event plus leap days

five years ago: a visit to the Neroberg

Wednesday 21 February 2024

vielecke u. vielflache (11. 368)

This 1900 study of polyhedra by geometer Johannes Max Brรผckner, who taught at a Gymnasium (a secondary, preparatory school) in Bautzen after earning a degree in mathematics and physics from the Universities of Leipzig and Heidelberg and earned his teaching credentials for constructing many models of stellated shapes, compounds of the Platonic solids projected outward until the result in a new uniform and congruent three dimensional figure (see also), is not only noted for its aesthetic and inspirational value (M C Escher’s work was largely informed by exposure to this publication) but is considered among the foundational proofs of the field, documenting all the then known possibilities. In 1930, Brรผckner’s collection of models were donated to the institution in Baden-Wรผrttemberg, which in turn awarded him with another honorary degree. More at Present /&/ Correct at the link up top.

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

Saturday 17 February 2024

8x8 (11. 358)

compound interest: Trump’s accumulated lawsuits amount to over half a billion dollars  

vivi o preferibilmente morti: Poseidon’s Underworld reviews a 1969 Spaghetti Western  

epistolary doll: Kafka, a little girl and her beloved, lost toy—via the New Shelton wet/dry 

the wonderful night of hercules brown: a 1968 short film guiding a young boy through his dreams with the help of muppets and puppets 

millions of cats: Wanda Hazel Gรกg’s 1928 children’s book—the oldest American title still in print  

leaning toward more grasshopper, less ant: raising children on the eve of the AI revolution—via tmn  

hero’s journey: a video poking fun at the tropes and archetypes of found in every epic quest—see previously  

never surrender high-tops: Trump launches gold trainers line, goes public with his social network in order to earn cash to pay for his legal judgments—see previously

Sunday 4 February 2024

anniversary edition (11. 320)

Found in the archives of redditor ForeverMozart7, we enjoyed browsing this extensive gallery of screen-grabs from 1990s edutainment computer games. A lot of the titles are stand-alone adventures but quite a few from the late nineties had ties-ins with established PBS programmes and children’s literature. There’s some impressive graphics and renderings to appreciate, even if one is not familiar with the characters and premise—most of the ones I was exposed to were in the classroom computer lab and not commercial software for home use.

 
synchronoptica

one year ago: Karma Chameleon (1984), long walkies plus an archive of 1980s graphics

two years ago: text-placeholders plus the Latin motto drawn by fate

three years ago: your daily demon: Haures, quite a backdrop, the evolution of the day-bed, Facebook launched (2004), schools ban Simpsons t-shirts plus what withstood the explosion in Beirut’s harbour

four years ago: forced equivalence, the Yalta Conference (1945) plus the feast of Hrabanus Maurus

five years ago: the Cleveland museum of art shares its collection online, art on yachts, an official state cryptid, failed prophesies plus California lieutenant governor Mike Curb

Friday 26 January 2024

paula of rome (11. 295)

Born into one of the richest and most powerful senatorial families, gens Furii—claiming descent from legendary Mycenaean king Agamemnon—and as recorded by later companion St Jerome, lived a life of luxury and intellectual pursuits, but when widowed at the age of thirty-two, Paula turned her interest towards religion and pilgrimage. While touring the Holy Land, Paula visited monastic communities and eventually settled in Bethlehem and established a spiritual retreat of her own—hostel for travellers connected to a monastery for men and a convent for women. Regarded as the first nun, abbess and Desert Mother, and re-examined as not just a patron but also a co-contributor to Jerome’s scholarship and translations, Paula is venerated on this day on the occasion of her death in the year 404, fรชted as well by the Anglican Communion (along with her daughter Eustochium) on 28 September.

Tuesday 16 January 2024

artist sjรถรถ (11. 270)

Courtesy of a retrospective exhibition at Oxford entitled the Great Cosmic Mother, we were pleased to be acquainted with the paintings of radical anarcho-, eco-feminist and founding proponent of the Goddess Movement whose work coincided with the woman’s liberation push of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Monica Sjรถรถ was born in the Vรคsternorrland region on New Year’s Eve 1938 and left home aged sixteen to travel Europe working as an agricultural labourer and find work in modelling, eventually taking up residence in Bristol, where she remained for the rest of her life—very well known beyond all borders, she taught and corresponded with several influential authors, neopagans and artists, including Judy Chicago, Alice Walker, Starhawk and Shekhinah Mountainwater. The show’s name comes from a pamphlet later expanded into a book co-authored with Barbara Mor covering ancient history and the origin of religion and spirituality, positing that women were the first practitioners—a text still part of the syllabus for many courses on women’s studies, mythology and theology. Much more from Hyperallergic at the link up top.

synchronoptica

one year ago: another MST3K classic,  AI designs novelty socks, an Ayn Rand play plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: more links to enjoy, professional salutations plus haunted postcards

three years ago: your daily demon: Vapula, an anatomy lesson, contemporary irregular verb forms, special stamps for the Lunar New Year plus large Cyrillic numbers

four years ago: birb-watching, the League of Nations, the Wollemi pines plus the US congress transmits articles of impeachment for Trump

five years ago: the first orbital docking, a gilded picket fence for Mar-a-Lago, more on Prohibition in the US plus the White House serves fast-food

Wednesday 3 January 2024

8x8 (11. 239)

the year of the dragon: Japanese designer New Year’s cards for 2024—see previously  

virdiphyta: an exploration of the interrelatedness of the Plant Kingdom  

in memoriam: more celebrity obituaries you might have missed  

paku paku: one-dimensional PacMan—see also—via Waxy  

๐ŸŒ: the Moon-Making-Side-Eyes emoji has entered the stock market and had its day in court—see previously—via Slashdot 

shoegazing: TikTok revitalises the indie subgenre—via tmn  

on to other adventures: Tom Scott bids his viewers farewell after a decade of educational videos—with a long explanatory walk-and-talk   

trace loops: hypnotic animation from layered paper

synchronoptica 

one year ago: a comprehensive listing of North American supermarket chain, past and present

two years ago: Saint Daniel plus Monty Python in German

three years ago: the Seditious Dozen, the Fraktur-Antiqua Dispute, Oregon Trail plus Martin Luther excommunicated

four years ago: (You’ve got) the Power, banana republics, more dead malls, Trump’s Middle East policy plus Japanese New Years cards

five years ago: China’s lunar mission plus the introduction bitcoin (2009)

Friday 22 December 2023

copycat (11. 205)

Born on this day in 2001, the product of a collaboration between researchers at Texas A&M (Agricultural and Mechanical College) University and Genetic Savings & Clone, Inc, a brown tabby kitten called CC was the world’s first clone pet. A demonstration project to see if it was commercially viable and safe, CC—pictured with her genetic donor, Rainbow (bottom centre), displays an interesting discrepancy in the calico pattern due to random differences in tortoiseshell phenotypes from epigenetic re-programming on implantation (having dispensed with the usual determinants of fertilisation), lived a healthy and happy life, a perfectly normal feline giving birth to her own litter of kittens in 2006, dying aged eighteen years in March of 2020, still residing in the laboratory in College Station with her human caretakers.

Tuesday 19 December 2023

in the stacks (11. 195)

Whilst the institution remains open to the public and its collection of manuscripts and rare books remain securely archived and conserved, the total collapse of the British Library’s digital infrastructure that made its entire catalogue freely accessible to all worldwide following a malicious cyberattack on Halloween is almost as grave as loosing the originals. A ransomware gang, auctioning off personal data of patrons and staff alike, has rendered its services largely unavailable even for those readers and scholars geographically close enough to visit in person and makes potential and present patrons reflect on nature of this sort of institution and how theft of connection is as bad as theft or destruction of knowledge itself. 

synchronoptica

one year ago: A Christmas Carol plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: celebrating two decades of The Lord of the Rings, a literary clock plus more links to enjoy

three years ago: Dalรญ holiday cards, more links worth revisiting plus an angel on Mars

four years ago: Trump impeached, Clinton impeached (1998) plus map haikus

five years ago: even more links, French carols, sonic shades plus Trump withdraws from Syria

Monday 18 December 2023

proprioception (11. 193)

Having previously pondered the question of embodiment and whether intelligence needed to inhabit an physical form, this study undertaken by the Technical University of Mรผnchen that encourages a robot to explore their own morphology and limits seems intriguing. Rather than coding a model of its design or inferring their structure and strength from external sensors or input from their handlers, this experiment supplements a machine’s image of itself using inertial detectors for a sense of equilibrium and orientation through a series of exercises to plan and refine movements, not only for greater flexibility but also to ingrain safety parameters for itself and those around it.

Friday 8 December 2023

krisenmodus (11. 172)

Echoing last year’s selection from Collins Dictionary of permacrisis, the Gesellschaft fรผr deutsche Sprache (previously) has chosen crisis-mode for the Worte des Jahres for 2023 as a reflection of the ongoing exceptional states of emergency that polarise a seemingly powerless, frightened and overwhelmed public between the extremes of apathy and alarmism. Runners’ up included Lesefรคhigkeit (reading comprehension) due to a sharp fall in functional literacy perceived to have been made worse by school closures during COVID, KI Boom (Kรผnstlichen Intelligenz, AI), a term for infighting among the ruling government coalition and Teilzeitgesellschaft—part-time society for more of a work-life balance.

Saturday 2 December 2023

duck or rabbit (11. 157)

Though this gallery of visual anagrams enhanced by AI and part of a school thesis—via the always engaging Web Curios—relies on many of the familiar tropes of optical illusions, like Einstein-Monroe transformations, reversals, skewed perspective and textual ambigrams, the collection of dynamic paintings and sketches built with diffusion models that one can tweak and re-code to create works of one’s own is pretty spectacular. We agree, moreover with the editorial that one should spend a moment pouring over these examples—as considering the pace of change, the magic is only guaranteed for a limited amount of time.

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit, an unsuccessful space opera, the US Taiwan-Relations Act, celebrity anagrams plus Planet Pizza

two years ago: Angela Merkel steps down 

three years ago: Wonder Woman first appears in animated form, Emil and the Detectives (1931), CBC’s Larry Logo plus Trump’s daughter ostracised 

four years ago: the University of Leipzig (1409) plus outrage and polling

five years ago: more links to enjoy,  Bohemian Hanukkah plus UPA animation studios

Friday 1 December 2023

⌘ (11. 155)

Via Things Magazine, we are only introduced to the enthralling blog of Gingerbearman but also can put a name to the early computer artwork and illustrations of Barbara Nessim as featured in Byte magazine and elsewhere. Not just pixelated renditions, these graphics, produced thanks to a residency with Time-Life in 1984 that gave her access to state-of-the-art technologies, were vector drawings formatted and encoded to display on televisions and terminals. See more of Nessim’s extension portfolio and learn about her contributions at the link up top.

fifty-two things (11. 154)

Continuing an annual tradition, Tom Whitwell shares some interesting and intriguing things, one per week, learned over the past year. Some of the more tantalising facts (most new to us) include how there was a hourly bank robbery in Los Angeles three decades ago, the apparent kidnapping of solar pioneer George Cove, forest cover in Scotland and England have returned to levels not seen in a thousand years, fake navel tattoos that create the illusion of height is hailed as one of the best inventions of the year plus the advent of psychedelic cryptography, concealed messages that can only be received by those on LSD. Much more at the link up top.

6502 (11. 153)

With news that it’s available as an emulator for almost any platform, we are reacquainted with the version of the Beginners’ All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code as the native programming language for the micro personal computer released in 1981 as part of a UK computer literacy initiative (see also) by the national broadcaster in 1981. Chiefly written by Sophie Mary Wilson, a transgender pioneer in design and informatics fields, the optimised dialect ran faster that than Microsoft versions and an inline feature for assembly language. BBC2 series launched the following year, The Computer Programme (see also), was an accompanying primer on its use and capabilities and stirs memories of experimenting with lines of code and tweaking until getting the desired outcome but wonder what the utility is with such a skill nowadays when debugging is automated.

synchronoptica

one year ago: a day without art, fifty-two lessons from fifty-two weeks plus TRON reimagined with the help of AI

two years ago: World AIDS Day, office parties plus assorted links to revisit

three years ago: Wรถrter des Jahres, Japan’s buzzword of the year plus St Elsewhere

four years ago: a duet from Leon Redbone and Dr John, the Moravian star, Germany’s Word of the Year plus Gorbachev’s Pizza Hut ad spot

Sunday 26 November 2023

7x7 (11. 143)

sonic deconstructions: 1950s radio broadcaster’s album of Foley art, “Strange to Your Ears”  

onfim’s homework: a Wikipedia rabbit hole inspires an individual to get a tattoo of an eleventh century Novgorod pupil’s writings and illustrations discovered preserved on birch bark—via Hyperallergic’s Required Reading  

year in review: Time magazine’s one hundred top images of 2023—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links (lots more to explore here) 

amaterasu: scientists detect an ultra-high energy cosmic ray—the most powerful in thirty years of observation 

<!--: a collection of historic HTML innovations—see also  

kenough: the story of Denny Fouts, hustler and literary muse for Truman Capote, Gore Vidal and Christopher Isherwood  

pie hole: a silly twenty-year-old vocal exercise that holds up

Friday 24 November 2023

al 288-1 (11. 135)

Found on this day in 1974 in the Awash Valley near Hardar, Ethiopia by a team of paleoanthropologists led by Donald Johnson, the collection of fossilised bones making up about forty percent of a female Australoptithecus is commonly known as Lucy—after the Beatles’ song played repeatedly during the excavation—or by her Amharic designation แ‹ตแŠ•แ‰… แŠแˆฝ (Dink’inesh, you are marvellous). Hers and early less complete finds suggested that hominid bipedalism preceded and informed the increase in cranial capacity and intelligence. Falling on the anniversary of the initial publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1859, the three-million year old specimen, diminutive by today’s standards, quickly became a celebrity, captivating public interest in evolution, missing-links with the account of her discovery and reconstruction.