Saturday 23 September 2023

like the dolphins, like dolphins can swim (11. 015)

Released on this day in 1977 as the lead single from the twelfth studio album of the same name, this future signature ballad in the artist’s repertoire was co-written by Brian Eno, and recorded in Hansa Tonstudio 2 in the Kreuzberg district of West Berlin sings the narrative of two star-crossed lovers in the divided city, who live in constant fear of being caught but are free in their dreams. Inspired by witnessing his then-married record producer Tony Visconti kissing a singer “by the Wall,” David Bowie put the song’s title in quotation marks to invoke a light sense of irony to the triumphant and defiant tone. Bowie also put out German (Helden) and French (Hรฉros) versions of the song. The album cover art is an homage to Expressionist painter Erich Heckel’s 1917 self-portrait Roquairol, like (though with the pose a bit closer) Iggy Pop’s nearly contemporary album, The Idiot.


one year ago: Trump family facing legal peril over exaggerating the value of their crime syndicate plus an infinite scroll of the updating internet

two years ago: the unification of Saudi Arabia (1932) plus your daily demon: Phenex

three years ago: the US Subversives Control Act (1950), the Halo Effect and hindsight bias plus an anthology of Korean folktales

four years ago: the Fatberg commemorated plus variations on the Dr Who theme

five years ago: the first day of Autumn, numbers stations, a family’s political rebuttal plus a space probe arrives at its target asteroid

Wednesday 26 May 2021


moulted: people are crafting miniature monsters out of discarded cicada shells  

fantastica: music from outer space by Hollywood composer Russell Garcia (*1916 - †2011)  

project daedalus: the venerable British Interplanetary Society, founded in 1933—once chaired by Sir Arthur C. Clark (previously

 cais das artes: a retrospective look at some of the landmark projects of recently departed architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha (*1928)  

greenwood: a look back at the Tulsa massacre (previously) and race riots as we approach its centenary at the end of the month  

five-octave vocal range: dolphin responds with glee to Mariah Carey’s high note

stack overflow

Released on this this day in cinemas in 1995, the Keanu Reeves and Dolph Lundgren dystopian science-fiction adaptation of the eponymous William Ford Gibson cyberpunk novel, the film takes place in 2021 with global population deeply and irretrievably engaged with an augmented reality internet which has a debilitating long-term effect called “nervous attenuation syndrome” (NAS) and transfer and transmission of data is closely controlled by mega-corporations who enforce their hegemony through the mafia.
Reeves’ character is a mnemonic courier discreetly transports data, avoiding traffic on the worldwide web, with an implant in his brain, and is entrusted with the safekeeping and eventually uploading into the public domain documents that reveal the corporations’ connections with organised crime and the computer virus that will return power and autonomy to the people, teaming up with the Lo-Teks under the leadership of J-Bone, played by Ice-T, a mysterious female projection of an omnipresent digital assistant and a genetically enhanced dolphin with abilities to break any encryption.

Tuesday 16 February 2021


penn station’s half century: vignettes of the original New York Beaux Arts transportation hub painstaking brought to life to experience the station prior to its 1957 demolition and renovation 

delightful creatures: drone captures manatees and dolphins frolicking in Florida Everglades 

raven story: Alaska Tlingit artist features on new US postage stamp with a depiction of the trickster spirit

poisonous green: the paint that might have been the death of Napoleon and other toxic tinctures—see previously  

de-programming: interviews with children of parents radicalised by QAnon trying to get their moms and dads back 

morph and mindbuffer: a mesmerising hypersurface of a globe composed of expanding isohedrons 

preservation watch: conservationists fear that the iconic, Art Deco lobby of the McGraw-Hill Building might be under threat

Sunday 3 May 2020

pilot whale

Conceptualised and referenced in passing but never appearing in the series due to budget constraints—the same sort of limitations that inspired the transporter room in order to forgo filming landing and launch scenes, we are reminded how the Enterprise of Star Trek: The Next Generation had a deck dedicated to Cetacean Ops that hosted a collaboration between humanoid and marine mammal crew to help with the ship’s guidance and navigation research.  I guess that drawing too much attention to this place would mean that one had to show it.
According to canonical technical manuals, it was staffed by a dozen bottle-nosed dolphins under the supervision of two orcas, and like having Vulcan minders on Star Fleet vessels, the custom comes from Star Trek IV when whales were able to intervene to save the Earth. Much more to be found, including some in-show mentions,  at the discussion thread linked above.

Wednesday 6 February 2019

the valley and bailiwick

Having declared independence once before only to have it reigned back in, the Caribbean island of Anguilla held a second referendum whose votes nearly unanimously favoured disassociating itself from the colonial governor of Saint Kitts and proclaimed itself a republic on this day in 1969.
The chairman of the freshly constituted Island Council expelled the British envoy and for about forty days basked in its freedom. On 18 March, a contingent of paratroopers and London constables peacefully occupied the island and restored order. Disappointed by this denial for self-determination, negotiations ensued and Anguilla was granted the right to “secede” from Saint Kitts, which ironically gained full independence as the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis in 1983 while Anguilla remains an overseas territory. The triskelion of dolphins on the flag and coat of arms reminds one of the Manx flag, itself a crown dependency and neither part of the United Kingdom nor a part of the former empire.

Friday 16 June 2017

what's that, flipper? timmy fell down a k-hole?

Controversially and perhaps dubiously, via Dave Log v 3.0, we discover that a group of marine biologists in the mid- to late-1960s (interestingly corresponding with the run of the television series referenced in the title) studying the cognitive abilities of dolphins were inspired to give the dolphins small doses of LSD to determine if that mind-expanding experience might be enough to break the language barrier, as it were, and facilitate communication between humans and the clever cetaceans.
Led by trained psychoanalyst Jon C Lilly, who in addition to being a close confident of Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary was already known for having developed the sensory deprivation tank and as a founding member of SETI (provisionally called the Order of the Dolphins for his battery of experiments), the aquatic mammals were carefully administered the psychoactive drugs as an alternative to invasive and potentially harmful brain probes. Unfortunately, these trials did not result in an immediate and comprehensive cultural exchange between the species (although there is word of a romantic tryst) and funding was eventually pulled, but no harm came of it and dropping acid did make the dolphin-participants much more vocal and chatty and even helped one member of the pod overcome his fear of human interaction and informs our notion of consciousness and being self-aware as well as respect for animal kind.