Tuesday 7 May 2024

rabbithole (11. 545)

Via Mx Tynehorne’s Cabinet of Curiosities (previously), we found ourselves drawn into a web of unsolved, enduring mysteries, fringe and pseudoscience theories, cryptozoology, and urban, internet legends with this extensive and growing list of obscure phenomena from Iceberg Charts. Of course the trajectory from hesitancy, to skepticism to contrarian and conspiratorial thinking can be a slippery slope and most of the cited examples are tempered with a dose of rebuttal and academic remediation and many catalogued are harmless fun. Among the newer links, we found an enticing selection of alternative histories (see previously) plus a new one in the form of the Roman Senate’s capital condemnation of a poet, grammarian and plebeian tribune of the Late Republic called Quintus Valerius Soranus. A contemporary and correspondent of Cicero and credited with the intention of the reading aid in the form of a table of contents, Soranus was put to death by crucifixion under the dictatorship of Sulla for ostensibly, publicly revealing the arcane and sacred name of Rome. Though unclear the manner of the publication, perhaps in a poem’s acrostic—or whether this was a political pretext to rid themselves of a troublesome colleague—such evocatio was considered a grave taboo and never mentioned outside of exclusive, secret ceremonies as divulging the name was calling forth the civic, tutelary deity, which if known by Rome’s enemies could cause the protector god to abandon and defect. No one knows if the city truly had such a classified name or what it was—possibly after the elder goddess called Angeron—and the popular but possibly creatively incorrect that it was what Rome spelt backwards spelt was inspired by a dual temple built by Hadrian to the city and Venus with altars back to back and hence the ROMA-AMOR inversion.

Friday 26 April 2024

villa of the papyri (11. 516)

Using a dual process of optical coherence tomography and infrared hyperspectral imaging to eke out characters from carbonised scrolls housed in Herculaneum and preserved after the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD but inaccessible until recently with the aid of artificial intelligence, researchers have been able to more accurately locate the burial place of Plato, student of Socrates and teacher of Aristotle, in the Academy, destroyed by Roman general Sulla in 86 BC, as well as a previously unknown account of the philosopher’s last days that relates how he found the night’s entertainment, a Thracian musician’s performance, rather grating. We wonder what else might be digitally unwrapped from this trove kept in what’s regarded as one, the site originally designated Villa Suburbana either residence of Lucious Calpurnius Piso Caesonius—the father-in-law of Julius Caesar or the purported author himself, Epicurean Philodemus of Gadara, of the most luxurious and with a well-apportioned library in the Roman world.

Sunday 14 April 2024

6x6 (11. 488)

dolia: new research reveals Roman wines to be of premium quality, contrary to conventional wisdom, and comparable to modern European standards 

second amendment rights: factors informing the arming of America 

ready player two: the ghost of a departed loved one preserved in an untouched video game console 

a supposedly fun thing that i’ll never do again: the story of Zenith, David Foster Wallace’s (previously) cruise experience—via Nag on the Lake  

on brand: a look at the author of reinstated 1864 legislation in Arizona—see more 

last of the summer wine: the untimely demise of the once trendy, effervescent piquette

Friday 29 March 2024

give us barabbas (11. 457)

Via Miss Cellania, we are directed to the rather compelling 1961 biblical epic (overshadowed by others in the genre) directed by Richard Fleischer for Dino De Laurentiis’ studio, originally cast for Yul Brynner in the title role, portrayal of the thief chosen by the crowd over Jesus to the be pardoned and released by provincial governor Pontius Pilate, as a Passover custom, went to Anthony Quinn with supporting roles by Arthur Kennedy, Ernest Borgnine and Jack Palance and expands on the life of the reformed recidivist after the Crucifixion (filming timed to take advantage of an actual solar eclipse that took place on 15 February in the year of the debut) who is only mentioned in passing in the gospels. Upon release and returning to his compatriots, still a sceptic, Barabbas is disappointed and frustrated to discover that his girlfriend has become a convert—stoned to death later in Jerusalem for evangelising. Feckless and devastated by the loss following his reprieve, Barabbas returns to his life of crime and when a botched attempt on a caravan goes awry, Barabbas throws himself at the mercy of the authorities and is condemned to toil in the hellish sulphur mines of Sicily for the rest of his existence. Chained to a Christian slave that at first resents Barabbas was spared over Christ but over the years of their sentence—eventually curtailed by an earthquake that causes the tunnels to collapse killing all the slaves except the two companions—became friends and return to Rome, via the gladiatorial route to freedom. With suspected sympathies and guilt by association, Barabbas is imprisoned with other Christians, including Peter the Apostle, rounded-up and incarcerated en masse, accused of having set fire to the city under the rule of Nero and charged with arson, were summarily executed by crucifixion.


one year ago: the flags of Antarctica plus a special air raid all clear message

two years ago: a NATO expansion (2004) plus omissions in the presidential daily diary

three years ago: assorted links to revisit, Casa Sperimentale plus California cults

four years ago: a record high for the Dow Jones index (1999), Bulgarian postal cancellation stamps,  a GI*Joe reboot plus fashion-enforced social distancing

five years ago: more links to enjoy, satirical job titles that are probably real ones now plus Brexit is going swimmingly

Thursday 7 March 2024

dies solis (11. 407)

Though not the first sabbath observed as a day of rest, reflection and worship, on this day in 321 CE, Constantine the Great ordained that the Sun’s Day, styling himself as Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Sun, as the non-work day for urbanites of the Empire, with workshops closed and magistrates taking this venerable day off—though allowances were made for those in the agricultural sector, whose harvest and husbandry usually couldn’t stand on ceremony. Having declared tolerance for Christians a decade earlier with the Edict of Milan and later convoking the Council of Nicaea, Christianity adopted this Roman week-structure.

Sunday 3 March 2024

a roll of the dice (11. 399)

Via Clive Thompson’s latest Linkfest (lots more to check out there), we not only learn of the crazy in the 1920s for mechanical dice cards that generated pseudorandom numbers for you—dominoes and playing cards developed from casting lots in ancient times in China and Japan—there is a project in the works to revive these steampunk clicker gadgets. More at the link above—be sure to read about Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures cover, contranyms and revisit our friend, the Michelin Man.
Whilst researching, we came across another variant of Roman die in the form of a spinning top called a teetotum—still used in gambling in Latin America and later adapted into a dreidel (to distance itself from the wages or wagers). In varying accounts, a four- or six-sided playing piece determined the player’s fate: T for totum when winning the whole pool, A for aufer to draw, D for depone signifying a discard or N for Nihil Dabis when nothing happens. Compare to the Ferengi roulette and certainly rigged game of skill and chance of Dabo and the card-sharks associated with it from Deep Space Nine.

Thursday 29 February 2024

6x6 (11. 388)

365,2422: an explanation of leap years and calendar alternatives 

ladies’ privilege: leap day customs—via Strange Company 

29 february: more on the necessity of quadrennial correction—see previously 

la bougie du sapeur est sans reproche: the satirical French newspaper published only on leap days, making it the most infrequent publications in print, with its next Sunday supplement not out until 2032  

intercalary days: holiday drift and other events that happen every four years  

366: a scheduled agenda and play-list list how one might celebrate the day from the last time we had one—be happy that tomorrow is not 30 February


four years ago: the sacrifice of the village of Elam in Plague Times

eight years ago: a vocabulary lesson, lodges of the Hakka region plus on trial for destruction of precious cultural property

twelve years ago: more quadrennial events

Tuesday 13 February 2024

comet and cupid (11. 347)

Via fellow internet peripatetic Messy Nessy (much more to dsicover there), we are introduced to the eighteenth century artist Michelangelo Maestri and his school through his series of water-colours of putti, cherubs driving chariots pulled by various creatures as an allegory to depict different types and stages of love—agape, eros, xenia, philia. Inspired by the frescos of Ancient Rome, especially the then recent excavation of well-preserved examples in Herculaneum and Pompeii, his studio’s works were extremely popular and produced en masse and were often purchased as souvenirs by those on their Grand Tour.


one year ago: spec scripts for Star Trek: TNG plus a webring to check out

two years ago: more Excel art, West African musical artists plus separated by a common language

three years ago: assorted links to revisit, a dinosaur park plus animation techniques

four years ago: more links to enjoy

five years ago: out-of-place archaeology, Sony World Photography winners, Mandombe script plus more links worth revisiting

Sunday 11 February 2024

8x8 (11. 343)

๐Ÿ˜ถ: a Good Internet cross-posting of Good Music, featuring a mix of tracks from Wilco, Kim Gordon, the Beths and many more  

nato backstab: in a Drudge Report style headline, the Huffington Post reports Trump at a campaign event that he might encourage Russia to attack ‘deadbeat’ allies 

internal monologue: philosophers explore new field of the inner voice at the intersection of psychiatry  

compliance moats: anti-anti-monopolists and data-brokers wrangle over regulation 

story-walk: using olfaction with narrative to simulate reflection and retention  

certificate of honourable discharge: explore the best-preserved Roman military diploma (constitutio) in a new 3D exhibit  

grand bargain: US Supreme Court seems poised to keep Trump on state ballots but deny him blanket immunity 

i’m only sleeping: a Grammy winning painted music video of the Revolver track from Em Cooper

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.

Friday 19 January 2024

kฤla (11. 280)

Via ibฤซdem, we enjoyed contemplating this display that shows the passage of different units of time side-by-side advancing relative to the observer. Named for the Jain concept of that which brings forth change (also meaning death), the second is the smallest practical measurement, made up of countless and indivisible samaya—like Planck time though the zeptosecond or one sextillionth of a second is the smallest fragment of time that can be reliably calibrated—and itself representing about forty-eight seconds and the kลŸaแน‡a about forty-eight minutes. Aside from the more familiar units and the Hindu-Sanskrit tradition of describing the cosmological cycle, from microseconds to trillions of years, there’s also the milliday, invented by the Swatch company as one-thousandth part of a day or a .beat, the lustrum to mark the five-year interval between Roman censuses, the indiction for the fifteen-year requirement for tax assessments in the Empire, a ghurry, the time it took a water-clock to empty, gauged to divide the day into sixty intervals or rather twenty-four minutes and the chelek (ื—ืœืง) one eighteenth of minute from the Babylonian for one degree of celestial rotation and a momentum, a medieval reckoning of the hours by the sun-dial, about forty moments for each twelve-hour solar day—as well as more informal but countable units.

Thursday 18 January 2024

7x7 (11. 278)

you are not a product: the demise of the social network Ello’s ambitions  

right: US to UK export Word of the Year—see previously  

mystic pizza: a new popular regional style from the US state of Connecticut  

arbustum: ancient Roman wine-growing techniques and forest agriculture may help battle modern climate change  

sora-q: Japanese space agency is poised to land a transforming robot on the Moon  

gloogo: a lexicon of words that don’t exist yet but should (see also) from Burgess Unabridged—the source of the term blurb  

๐„: time spent pausing is a worthwhile pursuit—see also on the fermata

Monday 9 October 2023

the tomb of cerberus (11. 048)

Public works crews updating the water supply for a suburb of Naples have uncovered with the help of a team of archaeologists an untouched funerary chamber of the later Imperial period complete with burial goods and pristine frescos of mythological scenes, including a pair of ichthyocentaurs and a rear wall depicting the last and most dangerous of the twelve labours of Hercules, the capture and submission of the three-headed hound of Hades. Considered a fool’s errand and a way to finally get rid of the try-hard hero, king Eurystheus of Argos dispatched Hercules on this mission to eliminate the remaining primordial beasts of the elder gods and bring about the reign of the Olympians, Zeus against the will of his wife Hera championed Heracles (“Hera’s fame”), the latter supporting the cause of the monsters. With the help of Hermes (also pictured), Hercules also managed to rescue Theseus and Pirithous, two companions confined to Hades for their brazen attempt to free Persephone.

Sunday 17 September 2023

7x7 (11. 007)

spiral town: AI artistry with geometric patterned medieval villages captivate the internet—via Waxy 

the fabric of civilisation: the fascinating history of sericulture—see previously here and here  

๐Ÿซ : an informal survey reveals men think about Ancient Rome daily, sometimes to the surprise of their partners 

magic screen: a look at the creative crew behind Pee-wee’s Playhouse 

lennon 2499: hunting down the artist’s famous wristwatch—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links (lots more to check out there)  

hal mooney and his orchestra: ballet standards as lounge music  

everyday yลkai: AI generated Japanese folklore figures hiding in plain sight—see previously

Friday 1 September 2023

8x8 (10. 977)

diyarbakฤฑr: archeologists discover a massive subterranean city under the Roman garrison at Zerzevan 

aaro: the Pentagon launches a website to explore declassified information on unidentified anomalous phenomena, via Slashdot—also watch this instead 

space for kitchen aerobics: the latest oversized monstrosity from McMansion Hell—previously

the parable of the pig: philosopher Pyrrho’s hog as a model of tranquillity in a ship on a stormy sea—from Futility Closet happily back after a hiatus  

queso de cabrales: a hunk of artisanal cheese from Asturias fetches a record-setting price—via Strange Company 

a directory of wonderful things: an expert curated selection of weird and delightful corners of the internet  

chatgop: a conservative media outlet may have interviewed an AI generated Donald Trump 

colossus of constantine: plans to restore the monumental statue of the Roman emperor built as a triumph for his victory in the Battle of the Milvian Bridge

Thursday 31 August 2023

8x8 (10. 973)

energy makes time: a resonant essay about how doing those essential things enables everything else—via Kottke 

kopienkritik: Ancient Roman souvenirs and mementos limn their culture and makes their lived experience more accessible—see previously    

: a clock correlated to YouTube videos that mention the current time—see previously—from Russell Samora—via Waxy

motes: what the tiniest specks of dust reveal about the world—via Damn Interestingsee also

honky chรขteau: more on the Abbey Road of the Val d’Oise—see previously  

coenties slip: the East River waterfront street that was witness to New York City’s cultural evolution—via tmn  

e-meter: the Church of Scientology urge the US government to walk-back right-to-repair legislation—via Slashdot 

a spell against indifference: Maria Popova laments her discounting of the power of poems—via Swiss Miss


one year ago: RIP Mikhail Gorbachev, Rolling Stones’ Street Fighting Man (1968) plus more Gorbymania

two years ago: assorted links to revisit, numeracy and conspicuous calculation plus the animation studio of John Hubley

three years ago: Dungeon Master for Halloween, the Gdaล„sk Social Accords (1980), more links to revisit, Lincoln Logs (1920) plus Tom Hiddleston as macaroons

five years ago: a LEGO Bugatti, a corporate logo font, an intimate rave at Stonehenge plus the art and maps of Jo Mora

six years ago: unexploded munitions from WWII prompts an evacuation in Frankfurt plus more links to enjoy

Tuesday 1 August 2023

7x7 (10. 919)

istj: while gladly gone the way of Harry Potter House in many circles, Chinese placement agencies are obsessing with Myers-Briggs personality types  

hapsburg ai: generative chat programmes trained on derivative synthetic output becomes recursive and untenable—via Kottke  

pittura infamante: the Florentine legal tradition of the rogues’ gallery—via Miss Cellania 

 ๐•: flashing sign with new logo dismantled in San Francisco’s Twitter headquarters after neighbours complain 

:a font family inspired by an Ancient Roman typeface continues a centuries’ long dialogue of the printed word  

watermark: to distinguish generative writing from human, we could possible assign it its own Unicode alphabets—via Language Log  

the belt and road initiative: Italy is vocal with its regrets over signing on to China’s foreign policy push and infrastructure development programme

Monday 31 July 2023

5x5 (10. 917)

scream real loud: Paul Reubens, actor who portrayed Pee-wee Herman has died after a private struggle with cancer

nudge theory: top behavioural science researchers fabricated data about engineering honest responses  

platonic solid: the enduring mystery of Gallo-Roman dodecahedra 

maxwell’s demons: plans to use AI to detoxify speech only dial up the rhetoric

live at the roxy: the 1981 HBO special that introduced the character Pee-wee


one year ago: a classic from The Eurhythmics, assorted links to revisit plus an antique celebrity abecedarium

two years ago: a potentially perpetual time crystal, the photography of Lora Webb Nichols, a new Olympic motto includes togetherness, assorted links worth revisiting, vintage internet radio plus David Bowie Halloween costumes

three years ago: more links to check out, China’s moon mission plus a new, smaller batch of emoji

four years ago: more Brexit omnishambles plus reforesting efforts in Ethiopia

five years ago: Franklin Armstrong (1968), more links, an exoplanet survey plus bands as football clubs

Wednesday 5 July 2023

7x7 (10. 859)

armada model zero: prototype flying, electric car cleared for takeoff 

๊ตญ๋ณด: ancient Corinthian helmet found in Olympia and awarded as a trophy in 1936 among South Korea’s National Treasures  

el niรฑo southern oscillation: combination of global warming and cyclical weather patterns have yielded the hottest day since record-keeping began  

๐Ÿงต: Meta to launch Twitter alternative in twenty-four hours  

cop27: UK to walk-back its climate pledge 

luteciam parisiorum: a virtual tour of Roman Paris  

astral projection: the brain’s precuneus seems to be responsible for grounding and for the sensation of out-of-body experiences

Saturday 24 June 2023

nepobabies (10. 831)

Though history may consider his successive claimant the last Roman emperor by dint of the poetic symmetry of his praenomen and cognomen, Romulus Augustus—invoking the mythological founder and first to claim that title, proclaimed by his father the magister militum Orestes once he ultimately mutinied a year into his rule, Julius Nepos was crowned on this day on 474 after disposing the unrecognised Glycerius installed some four months earlier with the help of Burgundian mercenaries and marching on to the new capital at Ravenna, with the sanction of Zeno, the Eastern emperor. Unable to control Italy after Orestes’ revolt and march on the imperial palace in late August of 475, dissatisfied by his leaders inability to repulse incursions by the Visigoths, Nepos retreated to Dalmatia, with the general installing his son some two months later. Constantinople, however, continued to recognise this government-in-exile as legitimate, with Nepos minting coins and issuing orders from the palace of Diocletian, the actions of this nominal ruler mostly dismissed. Neopos was assassinated by two of his disaffected military commanders in 480 but Romulus Augustus, still a child, was deposed decades earlier after a only a brief reign by Odoacer, barbarian general and first king of Italy.