Saturday 27 April 2024

adrift (11. 519)

Having previously learned of the modern mudlarking off the coast of Cornwall through the Lego Lost at Sea project, a collecting and clean-up initiative that’s been very eye-opening about the amount of micro- and macroplastic in the oceans, we were delighted to get an update in the form of this rare discovery a of piece (numbered as it were like Pokรฉmon cards since there’s a precise accounting of the shipwrecked manifest) in this octopus figure that went down with a cargo ship at Land’s End in 1997 recently by a local teenager. Some five million bricks in total went overboard when the vessel, the Tokio Express, was hit by a rogue wave in a storm, with the same teenager collecting nearly eight hundred parts—plus some nice fossils and shells—over the past two years.

Saturday 16 March 2024

featherstonehaugh (11. 427)

Thanks to raft of gossip and speculation from 2019 revived in part due the obsession over the whereabouts of the Princess of Wales, we’ve been educated that the Marchioness of Cholmondeley of interest holds the peerage style of the Most Honourable Lady CHUM-lee, and so we appreciated these further lessons in pronunciation of historic British and Irish titles and surnames (respecting the fact that one’s name is pronounced how they tell you to pronounce it and subject to variation). There are some really non-intuitive examples like the title—usually said like Fernshaw—and while we would have liked more detailed explanations like with family name Menzies with its archaic letter ศ (yogh), it was nonetheless interesting to contemplate how those estranging shifts might have occurred, like with Geoghegan (GAY-gษ™n) or Wriothesley as RIZZ-lee.

Monday 12 February 2024

itinerarium angliรฆ (11. 346)

Reminiscent of this strip map showing all the cursus publicus of the Roman Empire, Futility Closet directs our attention to this seventeenth century road atlas project presented to Charles II mapping the main routes of England and Wales from cartographer John Ogilby. A choreographer and dance master before suffering a debilitating accident, turning to translation, producing authoritative versions of Aesops Fables as well as Virgil and Homer (derided by some academic contemporaries but since rehabilitated for their scholarship), re-establishing the tradition of the theatre following the Restoration, in which he played a major role as master of ceremonies and speech writer, before turning to publishing, Ogilby the impresario was adept at reinvention. Spanning the three nations in one hundred illustrated plates, a two-volume pocket version of Britannia was printed in 1757 after several editions for the library shelf. Though considered the imprint for uniformity of scale and the standard adopted by later mapmakers and surveyors, it notably omitted the way to Liverpool. Taken up by later printing concerns, Britannia Depicta; or Ogilby improv’d was produced well into the the Victoria Era.


one year ago: assorted links to revisit, the involuted generation plus every TARDIS interior

two years ago: Germany’s Institute for Population Research, The Dance of Death (1912), calibrating the JWST, more links to enjoy plus Amen Corner

three years ago: bad bird namesRhapsody in Blue (1924) plus prints of today’s catch

four years ago: disinformation wars, photos of Soviet Moldova plus the people’s choice award for Wildlife Photography

five years ago: dying news outlets plus SVG street maps

Friday 2 February 2024

the ลฟecond part, to the ลฟame tune (11. 314)

Having felt a bit cheated by a news article about chart-rankings for seventeenth century English ballads over missing ourselves a link to the project, we appreciated the extra digging from Web Curios and the chance to take a second look and visit the collection of top pop broadsides, complete with sheet-music and actual recordings and historical context as well as insights into the industry and artists. With a wide range of themes ranging from knaves and knights, to kings and kidnapping, vis-a-vis the preceding post, one is sure to find something resonant and engaging. Sorted by popularity, the number one hit from the era is a much covered retelling of The Aeneid, the “Wandring Prince of Troy.” Much more at the links above.


one year ago: Groundhog Day, never a poem as lovely as a tree plus a Nutcracker tradition

two years ago: Candlemas plus problematic portrait artist Charles Frederik Goldie

three years ago: assorted links to revisit, the Great Comet plus free market capitalism

four years ago: the Lake District in Limburg, outsider artist Madge Ethel plus Cynthia the Mannequin

five years ago: suggestion boxesZuckerberg in Congress plus more on Candlemas

Saturday 27 January 2024

piggy bank (11. 296)

As part of an inventory from the British Museum that concludes—along with the need for better definitions and legal protections to ensure that important antiquities are not sold on the open market—recent years have yielded the highest number of treasures found since records have been kept, we are introduced to non-singular practise of Iron Age Britons of storing their coins in naturally occurring hollow flint nodules found in the chalk and limestone strata of the region. The contents of the ball date from the last decades BC and were minted in the East Wiltshire area and are classed as “Savernake Wreath” staters, after the Ancient Greek standard, ฯƒฯ„ฮฑฯ„ฮฎฯ (weight), circulating first as ingots then as coins, brought by the Celts to Western and Central Europe. Learn more at the History Blog at the link above.


one year ago: the Paris Peace Accords (1973), corecore, Ballroom Blitz plus Cistercian cyphers

two years ago: RIP Peter Robbins, the voice actor for the character Charlie Brown, more on esoteric programming languages plus assorted links to revisit

three years ago: The Singing, Ringing Tree, inspired watch-faces, computing in Poland plus an alternate spelling alphabet

four years ago: policy via magical thinking plus emoji on license plates

five years ago: more on generative adversarial networks

Thursday 28 September 2023

sycamore gap (11. 029)

Made famous internationally by a cameo appearance in 1991’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves but a regional landmark for generations, the picturesque lone tree (see previously) growing in a dramatic dip in the Northumbrian landscape near Hadrian’s Wall was chopped down by a vandal for a chance to achieve some dread and senseless Herostratic fame (more here).  The community near the craggy terrain are of course very saddened to loose a natural monument in this fashion, especially when so much more is threatened with accelerated climate change, and there are already plans in place to coax it into regrowing but it won’t have the same character.


one year ago: assorted links to revisit plus St Leoba

two years ago:  your daily demon: Halphas plus more links to enjoy

three years ago: Pope John Paul I plus Trump’s taxes

four years ago: hitchhiking returns to Brussels 

five years ago: William the Conqueror crosses the Channel (1066) plus the #MeToo movement

Wednesday 19 July 2023

walkflatter, wheel glutter, whim driver (10. 894)

Far removed from butcher, baker, candlestick-maker and seeming like a list that could have generated by an AI, we enjoyed perusing this register of job titles declared in the Census of 1881, the a snapshot of every household in the United Kingdom on the night of Sunday, 3 April of that year, the fifth decennial but the first to include details (mostly without context) on members of homes, compiled a few years later in The Companion to the Almanac; or Year-Book of General Information for 1885, sub-chapter The Occupations of the English People. Some of the more unusual professional entries are Sad-iron maker, Butt Woman, Peas Maker, Off-Beater, Dirt Refiner, Blabber and All-Rounder. Respondents of note include Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, Winston Churchill and one William Neal without portfolio as he was considered “too idle.”

Thursday 15 June 2023

runnymede (10. 807)

On this day, the anniversary of King John putting his seal to the Magna Carta in 1215, BBC Reel invites us to explore another feature among the ensemble of monuments in the watery meadow in Surrey which represents the only territory of the US in the UK—the British memorial for American president John F Kennedy, dedicated in 1965, two years after the tragic assassination, by Queen Elizabeth II and Jacqueline Kennedy. Sensing the affinity between this spot and the ideal of democracy set forth in the US Constitution, the tablet and landscaped park with a mediative ascent of fifty steps representing the states was designed by architect Geoffrey Jellicoe. Learn more at the links above. 


one year ago: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust (1972), the monkey puzzle tree plus Happy Bloomsday

two years ago: Durgan script, the mysterious notebook of Jean Fick, a visual chronology of the New York Times, the Rashomon Effect plus another MST3K classic, Pod People

three years ago: trends in house numbers, the first woman in space (1963), renaming US military bases plus Happy Captain Picard Day


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.

Friday 19 May 2023

a city of badgers (10. 753)

Having previously looked at the subject of medieval collective nouns and their origins, legacy in the hierarchy and protocols of the hunt, we quite enjoyed this omnibus posting accounting for the creative jargon as primarily a class identifier—arbitrary etiquette like not wearing white after Labor Day—this specialist language perhaps not the most rigorous of gauges of social standing but selective and enforceable ones as one tool, rule to maintain class structure, all encompassing to reckon not only groups of quarry (see also) but also professions and rank. A Promise of Bartenders (A Promeลฟลฟe of Tapลฟters), a Tabernacle of Bakers, an Unbrewing of Carvers, a Malapertness of Peddlers and a Disworship of Fools are especially good. Learn more and tag yourself at the links above.

Sunday 23 April 2023

carolvs secvndvs (10. 694)

With his regnal namesake successor’s coronation coming up in a couple of weeks, we look back at the enthronement ceremony of 1661 of Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland that took place on this day, St George’s Day, in Westminster Abbey. Fighting alongside his father against the forces of Oliver Cromwell throughout the English Civil War, escaping to Scotland via the Hague and France after Charles I was beheaded, and was there proclaimed King of the Scots at Scone the decade prior. Cromwell’s own death in 1658 (his heir having little interest in maintaining the role of Lord Protector) opened a path to the restoration of the monarchy, entering London with popular acclaim in May 1660, having to wait nearly a year before the ceremony could take place as the royal regalia needed to be replaced, melted for bullion and precious jewels sold during the Commonwealth period, and lengthy preparations by officers of the court and Church. The coronation service and procession from the Tower of London (occurring the day before and attended by various members of the royal household and dukes and viscounts), a very public and patriotic spectacle, was well documented by diarist Samuel Pepys, who remarks about getting up at four in the morning, queuing up until eleven, poor acoustics, not getting his hands on one of the commemorative medals and sovereigns flung to the crowd by the Lord Chancellor and not being able to see the king crowned despite being at the abbey.

Saturday 15 April 2023

lexicographer: a writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge that busies himself in tracing the original and detailing the signification of words (10. 674)

Whilst not the first and consigned to full a gaping gap in the book market as the public readership and booksellers were dissatisfied with available grammars and lexicons, the rather heroic and singular academic undertaking by Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language—first published on this day in 1755, was highly influential and considered the authoritative reference source until the introduction of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Compiled over seven years, Johnson produced more than just a glossary of jargon or foreign concordance but rather a comprehensive, well-organised accounting of the English language—with over forty-two thousand entries, he proclaimed he was Vasta mole superbus (“Proud of its great volume”)—the word list was annotated with parts of speech and accentuated with literary citations, mostly drawn from the works of William Shakespeare, John Milton and the poetry of John Dryden, which were illustrative and often humorous, as in the titular definition of his vocation, and versified for effect, courtesy of Jonathan Swift, et al.: 

Opulence—wealth; riches; affluence
“There in full opulence a banker dwelt,
Who all the joys and pangs of riches felt;
His sideboard glitter’d with imagin’d plate,
And his proud fancy held a vast estate.” 

Johnson’s work established the paradigm for standard dictionary entries with etymological speculation, usage and a guide to pronunciation and when the OED became its definitive successor some one hundred seventy years later, reproducing many of the former’s definitions, marking them with a J., judging his scholarship expedient and judicious to copy.

Sunday 5 March 2023

8x8 (10. 594)

parasols: brief animations on Marie Paccou’s sun-shades when spun  

the misalignment museum: an art installation dedicated to the future AI apocalypse serves as a warning to the present  

the pez outlaw: one individual’s disruption of the collectors’ market  

banana for scale: a handy converter—via Pasa Bon!  

curious crumbs of history: rating Nation Trust sites by their scones 

future archeologists: Funko Pop! is disposing of hundreds of thousands chibi pop-culture icons  

eliza doolittle: a 1966 chatbot had the same warnings as out modern experiments  

grand canons: stop-motion of everyday objects by Alain Biet

Thursday 19 January 2023

living in love and faith (10. 480)

Concluding an extended period of consultation following the 2013 legal recognition of same-sex marriages in England and Wales, a council of Anglican bishops have announced their intent that the Church of England’s stance on sexuality should not be subject to change. The matter to be debated at a General Synod in February, the Church—which was established expressly to question authority on the sanctity of matrimony when the Pope refused to grant Henry XIII an annulment—is stopping short of performing itself gay marriages though significantly drops a 1991 rule that clergy members in same-sex relationships must remain celibate, issued a blanket apology for its behaviour towards the LGBTQ+ community and retains blessing for civil marriages of gay couples. Though not yet amenable to the ceremony, it does represent progress.

Monday 16 January 2023

9x9 (10. 424)

j.t. iv: the compilation “Cosmic Lightning” of a tragically forgotten outsider rock artist  

tees valley: a dialect map of England from the University of Leeds  

bundesministerin der verteidigung: German defence secretary steps down  

courtlife: Queen Victoria’s illustrated journals—see also—via Messy Nessy Chic  

mlk: Stevie Wonder’s campaign to make Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday a national holiday  

wef: global leaders gather in Davos 

buona sera: actor, photojournalist and sex symbol Gina Lollobrigida passes away, aged 95 

scare-fox: accidentally Art Brรปt predator-deterrent  

atomic rooster: a classic from the spin-off band of Crazy World of Arthur Brown

Wednesday 11 January 2023

a very rich lotterie generall, without any blankes (10. 405)

Officially chartered by Queen Elizabeth I three years prior as the earliest recognised state lottery notwithstanding earlier experiments with drawings and raffles to raise funds, as our faithful chronicler informs, the first drawing for the jackpot occurred on this day in 1569, designed to raise money for the “reparation of the haves and strength of the Realm, and towardes such other publique good workes.” At ten shillings a piece, the four-hundred thousand tickets issued—some three weeks wages for the ordinary subject and pricing most out of the competition—were essential an interest free loan for the government with the grand prize, a combination of fiat tender and valuable fineries such as silver and tapestries, assessed at around £5 000. The winner was also entitled to granted immunity from one arrest—a get out-of-jail free card, provided that the crime was not piracy, murder, felonious or treasonous. State lotteries in England ran through 1826, folding under pressure from parliamentary opposition and public ridicule for dignifying such speculative pursuits.

Monday 9 January 2023

word of the day: gongoozler (10. 401)

Ostensibly from canal workers’ jargon to describe an observer watching the narrowboats ply by—from the Lincolnshire dialectical terms for gaping and staring, and interesting as its etymology is completely removed from gondolier, it’s now used as a gently chiding, reflexive way to describe such practitioners (see also) and their pastime—and by extension, any sort of keen spectating without appreciable contribution.

Friday 25 November 2022

candida navis (10. 333)

Precipitating a succession crisis and a nearly two decades long civil war in England, a period known as the Anarchy, the White Ship (la Blanche-Nef) and its manifest of noble figures sank on this day in 1120 in the Channel after departing from Barfleur. Among the some three hundred drowned in the overloaded vessel were William Adelin, the sole, legitimate heir of Henry I, his half-siblings Matilda of Perche and Richard of Lincoln, the Earl of Chester, Royal Justice Geoffrey Ridel, with future, fated king Stephen of Blois disembarking due to the boisterous crowd. Taking off in the dark in an effort to overtake the King’s ship which had left earlier, the captain struck a submerged rock called Quillebษถuf and quickly capsized. The disaster left Henry with only one heir that he could pass the throne to, another daughter unoriginally also named Matilda, but her marriage to the Count of Anjou, a traditional enemy of Norman England and the fact she was a woman (none had yet ruled England in their own right) caused the Barons to rebel against these founders of the Plantagenet dynasty and reject Mathilda as queen regnant after Henry’s death in 1135. The only survivor was a butcher from Rouen called Berold, who likely was only on board in an effort to collect on the monies owed to him by the travellers.

Friday 18 November 2022

dictes & sayengis of the phylosophers (10. 313)

 The first printed book in England to bear its date of issue inside the colophon of early publisher William Caxton (see previously), the compendium of words of wisdom and collected quotations was introduced as an incunabulum on this day in 1477 as a Middle English translation by Anthony Woodville, bibliophile and brother-in-law of Edward IV, based off the original work of eleventh-century scholar Al-Mubashshir ibn Fatik—with some attributions and biographies, mostly on Greek and legendary thinkers but later revisions included biblical words of wisdom, slightly dubious but long since established as canonical.

Monday 7 November 2022

adapted for drawing-room performance (10. 281)

Via the always excellent Everlasting Blรถrt, we are directed to a gallery of the very worst Jane Austen book covers (see also). Famously in the public-domain and a mainstay for book-sellers, Emma as well as Sense & Sensibility of course as the does the aesthetic of the Regency Era feature heavily in this thread, which has delightfully elicited a lot of outside response. Much more to explore at the links above and do let us know your favourites.