Thursday, 1 July 2021


banning: a 1967 forgotten film about a sordid tryst at a country club 

remains of the day: six relics of once ubiquitous fast-food empires  

plain chachalaca: more badly named bird friends—see previously here and here, via Super Punch

awestruck: short, initial pieces optimised for joy and wonder from NPR 

gallery 88: an electronics line for kids from Sony—see also  

dhead xlvi: a David Bowie painting (see previously) saved from a landfill fetches over one hundred thousand CA$  

grand opening: a brief history of the ribbon-cutting ceremony  

britbox: an interactive fiction project for a cult 70s television programme that dabbled in paganism and the paranormal—see also—which never existed

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

le pont de trinquetaille

Seeing that on this day in 1987, a Van Gogh (previously here and here) of a bridge scene in Arles fetched a then record twenty million dollars at auction made me reflect on a recent podcast episode about the individual responsible for the artist’s posthumous and compelling fame promoted out of necessity and circumstance, Johanna van Gogh-Bonger (*1862 - †1925), widow of theretofore Van Gogh’s greatest champion, his brother Theo, and sister-in-law who had acquired a great deal of the then worthless works and against the advice of friends and family brought them back to their native Holland from Paris after losing her husband. In order to provide for herself and her child, Van Gogh-Bonger collected and edited an epistolary exchange and between the brothers and family biography, helping to establish her brother-in-law’s fame and reputation, as well as arranging exhibitions, helping to define not only Vincent as a celebrity but the attendant marketplace of the art world as well.

Friday, 25 June 2021


Commissioned originally by a paint company for voice-over artist Ken Nordine to write and perform radio spots in the style of signature his “word jazz” albums (also long-time WBEZ Chicago public radio host of the programme of the same name), the work expanded by 1967 into a full recording of some thirty tracks, personifying a different colour each, kind of like Eighty-Eight Lines about Forty-Four Women. Covered hues include Puce, Chartreuse, Ecru and Mauve. The reverse of the sleeve and liner-notes included byzantine instructions for a board game and make a finger-painting based on the order prescribed and scoring was self-apparent.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021


Often times blogging makes me a little ambivalent about reposting something lest I steal someone else’s thunder for research and study. I think I flatter myself here with that worry. I share especially with urgency and eagerness that which has particularly waylaid me recently and though I think a lot of what we post falls into that category, this latest Merriam-Webster panel discussion was recently emblematic of what we are about, not discounting pedantic hyper-correction. Of course—coming from someone who thought quinoa, spelt and spoken, were two different grains—there’s no shame in mispronunciation unless you can’t be bothered to try with someone’s name, it was really disabusing, unsettling to learn that victuals is meant to be said vittles—plus the preponderance of a “victualler license” for restaurants and inns. Listen to the whole podcast below for more surprises and gentle corrections.

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

on the clock

Through the lens of some of the artefacts of the transitional era when the railways began not only to collapse space but time as well and the attendant need for standardisation and synchronisation 99% Invisible (which one can read or listen to as a podcast) takes us on a tour of some of the remnants and malingerers of that period when the world suddenly grew a lot smaller and more interconnected. Especially notable is the introductory clock of the Corn Exchange in Bristol that made an early concession to locomotion by adding a second minute hand to its face to mark London time, with local time, lagging (see also here and here) by around ten minutes according to the reckoning of high noon. Much more to explore at the links above.

Monday, 17 May 2021

▄ ▄ ▄ ▄▄▄ ▄▄▄ ▄▄▄ ▄ ▄ ▄

In yet another brilliantly delivered, disabusing lesson from Helen Zaltzman we learned that despite the popular, vernacular etymologies and assigned backronyms the universal maritime distress signal S̄ลŒS̄, the prosign or procedural signal formally written with the overscore to distinguish it from letters though its other advantages include being an ambigram and legible from all angles, is an abbreviation for nothing and eventually—taking the Titanic disaster to bring the UK on board—customary way to dispatch an unequivocally (see also) urgent message of imminent peril. The need for an international standard first suggested by Captain Quintino Bonomo at the Berlin Preliminary Conference on Wireless Telegraphy in 1903, radio developed in the late 1890s with the proposed signal being SSS DDD, a bit more of a mouthful to dit and dot to request aid from ships at sea but no authoritative convention was set forth with many but not all seafaring nations (and not consistently either) using CQD at the recommendation of the Marconi International Marine Communication Company, which is derived from an abbreviation—CQ from sรฉcu, the French shortened form of security, and D for Distress (Dรฉtresse—not Come Quick, Drowning), the first part having been already adopted as “general call,” all hands on deck. Germany first adopted S.O.S. in 1905, the nine syllable sequence being a unique call-sign, out of fear that CQD would be received as a general notification

Sunday, 9 May 2021

television and the public interest

The titular speech given on this day in 1961 by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chair Newton N. Minow (previously) to a convention of the trade and lobby group the National Association of Broadcasters, compared to the Golden Age of TV in the 1950s, contemporary programming of violence, cartoons, Westerns, commercials and game shows was assuredly a “vast wasteland.” Acknowledging that when television is good, nothing—not theatre nor any other forms of media—is can surpass it in terms of quality and potential to engage, Minow went on to advise his audience that “television and all who participate in it are jointly accountable to the American public for respect for the special needs of children, for community responsibility, for the advancement of education and culture, for the acceptability of the programme materials chosen, for decency and decorum in production—and for propriety in advertising. This responsibility cannot be discharged by any given group of programmes, but rather only through the highest standards of respect for the American home and applied to every moment of every programme presented. Programme materials should enlarge the horizons of the viewer, provide him with wholesome entertainment, afford helpful stimulation and remind him of the responsibilities which the citizen has towards his society.” Reforms brought about in reaction to the address led to the creation of US Public Television and National Public Radio.

Monday, 3 May 2021

information as a public good

The annual observance focused on the above theme, World Press Freedom Day was enshrined by the United Nations in 1998 as a time for reflection and remediation for governments to uphold their commitment to freedom of expression and an adversarial press and encourage journalists and media professionals to recount their struggles and pledge to truth and ethics in pursuit of reporting. The day falls on the anniversary of the forerunning Windhoek Declaration of 1991 when a consortium of newspaper reporters from all across Africa met in the Namibian capital resolved to promote an independent and pluralistic press for the continent. The Press Freedom Index is also updated at this time, ranking the ability for journalists to cover candidly government and corporate behaviour.