Friday 9 February 2024

zoozve (11. 335)

This is an excellent constellation about how our Cosmos is appearing much harder to classify than at first glance, language and definitions and the predictability and reproducibility of familiar models—even in our own backyard—which Kottke invites us to contemplate in a podcast from Radiolab about a mystery on a child’s poster of the Solar System.  Better than a just-so story, it reminds us of the fictive hamlet of Agloe, New York, sort of a trap-street, that became a real settlement then vanished again. The companion satellite labelled for Mercury (a moonless planet as we learn in school) seemed to be sloppy work coming from NASA (the poster’s publishers)—or a bit whimsy—but meriting further investigation yielded some dead ends, googlewhacks or less, but eventually led to the discoverer of the quasi-moon, with the designation for the year of its finding 2002 VE68, the captured asteroid and the first found of its kind (see also) since renamed. Much more at the link up top.

Monday 29 January 2024

castaways (11. 303)

First airing on this day in 1942 on the BBC Forces station, conceived and originally hosted by presenter Roy Plomley (until his death in 1985) and still broadcast on a weekly basis—making it the longest running radio programme after the Grand Ole Opry which began in 1925—Desert Island Discs invites celebrities, politicians, scientists, journalists, authors and artists as guests to choose eight audio (originally gramophone) recordings, a book (castaways are automatically given a volume of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare and the Bible or other appropriate theological or philosophical text) and a single luxury item that they would wish to have should they find themselves marooned, talking about their lives, careers and reasons for the titles selected. Over the course of three thousand episodes, guests have included Eartha Kitt, Bing Crosby, David Attenborough, Dave Bruebeck, Alfred Hitchcock, Liberace, Alec Guinness, Julie Andrews, Sophie Tucker, Cilla Black, Marlene Dietrich, Harold Pinter, Anthony Burgess, Magnus Pyke, Lauren Bacall, Elia Kazan, Burl Ives (who selected the I Ching), Norman Mailer, Bob Geldof, Stephen Hawking, Brian Blessed, Stephen Sondheim, Stephen Fry, Debbie Harry and Zadie Smith. Over the decades, the most requested piece of music has been “Ode to Joy,” the last movement from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Conceived with the sounds of crashing waves and the cries of seabirds as the introduction and conclusion, producers however insisted on “By the Sleepy Lagoon,” an instrumental by Eric Coates, composer of light music—see also.


one year ago: School House Rock! at 50, Dr Strangelove plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: more banned books, a Mozart opera, Axis of Evil, an AI creates bespoke colours plus more conspiratorial thinking

three years ago: an opera by Peter Josef von Lindpainter, more links to enjoy plus a digital demesne

four years ago: Mantra Rock Dance (1967), the Rubik’s Cube (1980) plus the Space Cat gets a monument

five years ago: the event that inspired Boomtown Rats, an excellent Rube Goldberg machineSleeping Beauty (1959), a Trump attorney’s political thriller plus artist Javier Riera

Friday 26 January 2024

12x12 (11. 294)

brownstone: Gotham Gothic rowhouses as playing cards  

wall of eyes: Radiohead spinoff artist Jonny Greenwood’s latest album 

scrabblegram: a form of constrained writing using all one hundred tiles of the game  

blackula: a look at the brave inversion of exploitation cinema  

research purposes: profiles in the pornographers of Wikimedia who image and caption—see also—human sexuality, via Web Curios  

parks & rec: a map of sites in the US funded by FDR’s New Deal programme—via Waxy 

best laptop 2024: readership, AI and the collapse of media outlets  

nullification: Texas governor, alleging the US federal government has failed to protect the country from an immigrant invasion, hints at secession  

the compaynys of beestys & fowlys: revisiting how animal groupings (see previously on the subject of venery) received such colourful names—via the morning news  

schluckbildchen: sixteenth century edible devotionals  

mixtape: Kim Gordon, formerly of Sonic Youth, raps her grocery list in new song Bye Bye 

ephemerama: a growing archive of modern illustrations from circa 1950 to 1975—via Things Magazine


one year ago: more trompe l’oeil paintings, assorted links to revisit plus pie-chart studies

two years ago: morphing logos plus more links to enjoy

three years ago: zorbing, the Council of Trent (1545), Australia Day, more links worth the revisit plus Tubman on the twenty

four years ago: modular, prefab kiosks plus the first television demonstration (1926)

five years ago: the longest government shutdown in US history, architect Sir John Soane plus all the world’s writing systems

Sunday 31 December 2023

don’t crash the pips (11. 232)

Courtesy of our faithful chronicler, on this day in 1923 BBC sound engineering AG Dryland, not allowed access to the clock tower of the Palace of Westminster, climbed onto a rooftop opposite the Houses of Parliament to with a microphone and transmitted the bongs of Big Ben at the stroke of midnight live, in a tradition that’s occurred with few but notable interruptions since. A few weeks later, the Greenwich time signal began accompanying the chimes on broadcasts at the top of the hour.

9x9 (11. 230)

unwound: a cartoon that speaks to the time-dilation of the Winterval—and the year in general 

politics or otherwise: year’s end Can’t Let Goes from NPR’s podcast contributors 

fast-forward: a century of New Year’s men’s party fashions

aitana lopez: the virtual, machine-generated influencers stealing jobs from humans  

cap d’agde: the restoration of the Art Nouveau Chateau Laurens—a palace also known for its connections with Catharism  

like a fridge in reverse: a visualisation of the science of heat-pumps—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links

fondue chinoise: a variation on the Swiss holiday tradition inspired by the Asian hot pot 

favourite global tech stories from publications not named rest of the world: like Bloomberg’s Jealousy List, staff compiles articles they wish they’d written—via Waxy  

cartoon cryptozoology: explore a chaotic archive of the earliest animations

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.


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


Friday 15 December 2023

radio silence (11. 189)

Weird Universe points us to an event that took place in mid-August 1924 in the US that reminds us this other potential coordinated effort to make astronomical observations more successful and reminds how from the earliest days of the communication medium, forerunners like Guglielmo Marconi, Lord Kelvin and Nikola Tesla believed that radio transmissions could be exchanged with extraterrestrial civilisations, the existence of intelligent life on Mars being widely accepted. With the Red Planet approaching its closest point to the Earth for nearly eight decades, scientists at the Naval Observatory used a blimp to lift a “radio-camera” to an altitude of three kilometres and arranging with broadcasters along the eastern seaboard to observe an hourly five-minutes’ cessation of transmissions in order to eliminate interference from terrestrial sources and increase the chance of intercepting a message from Martians. Military cryptologists were on stand-by to decipher any alien signals.


one year ago:  assorted links to revisit plus Last Christmas

two years ago: Gingerbread Dreamhouses, artist Brad Holland plus more links to enjoy

three years ago: more links worth the revisit, Esperanto Day plus Trivial Pursuit

four years ago: more links, the Nobel banquet plus Lisztomania (1975)

five years ago: even more links, the mythos of Zermatism, Wort des Jahres plus early Home Office

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 27 October 2023 (11. 080)

This is a really premium idea—via ibฤซdem—we have this highly granular mapping application of over a million podcast episodes from a host of contributors that allows one to listen-by-location and discover more about site-specific history, community news, tourism, foodways and local culture. Of course concentration and coverage is uneven and there are plenty of neglected corners of the world (perhaps you can fill in the gaps and perhaps find your podcasting niche), but given the general problem with the uptake and discoverability for the medium (as obscure and middle-of-nowhere on the dial as some of the places visited), this a perfect tool for taking a deep-dive in some local colour.

Sunday 24 September 2023

10x10 (11. 020)

osiris-rex: fulfilling a seven-year mission (previously) a space probe to collect samples from an asteroid—with further adventures planned 

succession: Rupert Murdoch’s departure from News Corp is a cold-comfort for the millions brainwashed by Fox and Friends 

be the first to like this post: more on the meaning and origins of the chain of riders and horses dispatched to send missives—see previously  

project cybersyn: more on Salvadore Allende’s plans to build a socialist internet 

fanfare: the history and physics of the trumpet  

shear madness: 1980 reportage on a cutting-edge hair salon in Kensington  

the joke and dagger department: an appreciation of the genius of Spy vs Spy, a political cartoon that wasn’t a political cartoon 

3r’s: the Swedish educational system has a renewed emphasis on handwriting, quiet reading time  

omni consumer products: New York City police lease a robocop to patrol Times Square subway station as a trial run  

all these worlds are yours—except europa, attempt no landing there: the JWST detects carbon on the surface of the Jovian moon

Friday 22 September 2023

6x6 (11. 013)

schedule f: Trump and the Heritage Foundation’s plan to dismantle the administrative state, replacing federal workers with sycophants—via Miss Cellania  

chinoiserie: a grand tour of Rococo era architectural follies as homage and aspiration to Eastern aesthetics—see also  

disco demolition night: more on the publicity stunt that incited a riot and brought down a whole genre of music 

agrostology: of grasses and lawns  

we’re safety now, haven’t we: US federal consumer safety commission drops an album that includes some bangers—but hardly for the first 

time swing time for hitler: new audio book by Scott Simon explores how Nazis banned jazz as degenerate art and repurposed it to dispirit the Allies—with more on Lord Haw-Haw and other propagandists


one year ago: MERS-CoV (2012),  the premier of West Wing (1999), Putin addresses the public and announces a draft plus an early Hobbit computer game

two years ago: assorted links to revisit plus Fiddler on the Roof (1964)

three years ago: Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in state, the last day of summer, more links to enjoy plus dazzling skylines made of dot-stickers

four years ago: exploring the Messel Pit plus a highly idiosyncratic language

five years ago: rehabilitating coral ecosystems with electricity, an AI makes college course catalogues, typhoon naming conventions plus an M-class exoplanet

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


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

Thursday 10 August 2023

gallon of scallops (10. 933)

We thoroughly enjoy one of the latest instalments of the podcast Judge John Hodgman that entertained cases submitted on codified language usage, idiolects and otherwise rampant pedantry with guest Merriam-Webster lexicographer Emily Brewster for its discussion on words but especially liked the tangential exchange on marriage customs with the new modern wedding anniversary gifts that diverge after the first five of paper, cotton, leather, linen and wood that hit all the show’s running gags: “And then the sixth anniversary, hotdog. Seventh anniversary, sandwich—because they’re not the same thing [some sources including Merriam-Webster infamously equate the two]…The eighth is Kung Pao chicken.” And so on, all needing citations for the unacquainted. The twentieth is separate bedrooms.


one year ago: the Treaty of Verdun (843) plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: the opening of the Louvre (1793), the animation of Raoul Servais plus historic medically restricted diets

three years ago: a public bath in Stockholm, the first Blues hit (1920) plus on being a joyful rule breaker

four years ago: You are Here plus more on the former border between East and West Germany

five years ago: strained relations between Canada and Saudi Arabia, the very model of a modern age millennial, the disappointment that comes with the realisation that one’s travel experience is far from unique

Friday 4 August 2023

10x10 (10. 924)

manufactured crises: distractions and moral panics fabricated by the US GOP and associates  

sachal jazz: Pakistani musicians perform a rendition of David Brubeck’s “Take Five” on tabla and sitar with orchestral accompaniment 

illuminated text: an unfinished medieval manuscript reveals a step-by-step manual for its making  

finishing the hat: Stephen Sondheim’s (previously) Turtle Bay townhouse is on the market 

smiley head: custom screws requiring a special driver—via Pasa Bon!  

f-91w: fully-function ring watches from Casio  

blogoversary: JWZ turns twenty-five 

the partridge family 2200 a.d.: a round up of animated spin-offs  

super fun pak: the novelty cards of Pee-wee’s Playhouse  

now you’re cooking with gas: the culture wars come to the stove 


one year ago: the invention of champagne (1693), the Zone of Galactic Obscuration plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: an infamous bugging device discovered (1945), the Lady of Elx, pipe architecture, working against one’s own self-interest plus assorted links worth revisiting

three years ago: more miniatures from Tatsuya Tanaka, St Sithney, the patron saint of dogs plus the birthday of Helen Thomas, Barack Obama

four years ago: sounds lost to lossy compression plus bouba or kiki

five years ago: interviews with author Philip K Dick

Sunday 30 July 2023

chick tracts (10. 914)

99% Invisible turns our attention to a strange and virulent form of evangelising in the form of an oddly collectible and exhaustive series of Christian comics from erstwhile cartoonist and Born-Again Jack Thomas Chick. First published in the 1960s from its headquarters in Rancho Cucamonga, California and continuing through to today, this pocket-sized artefact of conservative mainstream Protestant theology that’s become a self-parody veered at times to hate-speech and attacked Catholics, Masons, queer-people, socialists, Communists, drug-users, trick-or-treaters (collect them all!) and denounced non-conformists and non-Christian faiths as devil-worshipping as well as stoking ugly conspiracy theories and paranoia. The back-panel of each tract includes a blank spaces for churches to stamp their name and contact information as well as a bespoke salvation prayer for sinners to recant their ways. More at the links above. 


one year ago: assorted links to revisit

two years ago: the Norse goddess Freyja plus recreating classic screen-savers

three years ago: the microcars of Robert Hannoyer, pioneering oceanographer Marie Tharp, special edition Canadian coins,  fashion designer Kansai Yamamoto (RIP), St Hatebrand plus the rich tradition of Japanese souvenirs

four years ago: algorithmically-directed decisions and the architecture of choice, disruptive jewellery plus non-overlapping magisteria

five years ago: Outsider Art from Austria, BBC’s sound archives plus building a Martian base in situ

Wednesday 26 July 2023

the salon (10. 907)

As part of their series of off-cycle, off-topic minisodes and in solidarity with the beleaguered entertainment community, we really enjoyed this latest instalment from the Flop House that rather brilliantly (especially well executed considering it’s an audio medium) pit a series of masterpieces of fine paintings up against one another in a variation of the game of Hug, Marry, Kill—Admire, Acquire or condemn to the Pyre.

Tuesday 25 July 2023

7x7 (10. 905)

home taping is killing record industry profits: the 1981 moral panic over mixtapes  

lisa lionheart: labour force participation through the many careers of Barbie  

swipe left: patrons of 1920s Berlin nightclubs could flirt via pneumatic tubes—via Messy Nessy Chic  

the rivers and harbours act: Texas Department of Justice sues governor for refusing to remove a stretch of buoys that violates federal and international law—see previously  

sickbay: the Pirate Surgeon’s Journals—via Strange Company  

comeuppance: it’s time for the annual census on the River Thames—see previously 

a lot of skill, hand-eye coordination—it’s cheap and legal: video arcade addiction was seen as a threat to prevailing social values in 1982


one year ago: Ullapool and environs plus Wester Ross

two years ago: a colour advertisement on black-and-white TV (1967), Einstein on the Beach (1976), Thomas ร  Kempis plus a mosaic along the Thames

three years ago: Trump’s mental fitness, proto-Wikipedia (2000), more on the US Space Force, St Cucuphas, Nixon in China vis-ร -vis today’s relations plus more on stock characters and archetypes

four years ago: RIP Rutger Hauer plus a doctored presidential seal

five years ago: a neo-classic Delphic festival (1927), a student project that may have unwittingly identified targets of value in the Gulf War, anti-social media, Mid-Century Modern minimalism plus the hunt for subsurface water on Mars

Thursday 8 June 2023

seรฑor wences (10. 793)

Never having occurred to us beforehand, we were delighted to learn (among other things) of the unusual etymology of the patently unusual—though at least for us, taken for granted—word ventriloquism, the first recorded use in the debunking volume by Reginald Scot The Discoverie of Witchcraft, published in 1584 from this latest episode of the podcast The History of English: The Spoken History of a Global Language (previously), as a Latinate version of the Greek term for a gastomancer (ฮตฮณฮณฮฑฯƒฯ„ฯฮนฮผฯ…ฮธฮฏฮฑ). Attempting to dispel the superstitious belief that stomach grumblings (see also) were the voices of the departed relaying messages to the living, interpreted by said ventriloquist (literally belly-speak)—the most famous example being the Pythia or Pythoness, the high priestesses of the Oracle at Delphi, Scot tried to persuade his readers with the more rational explanation of digestion, hunger or indigestion and not to heed these adepts who claimed the ability to interpret these noises, in line with trying to offer mundane reasons for other supernatural occurrences. It wasn’t until the eighteenth century, however, that the term for one sort of trickery began referring to entertainment and the ability to “throw one’s voice.” Much more at the links above. S’alright? S’right.

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

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