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

Sunday 23 July 2023

9x9 (10. 901)

effective altruism: FTX lobbyist tried to purchase the island nation of Nauru as a doomsday bunker and create a genetically enhanced human species  

getting drunk at a disco: 1977 found footage of an evening not necessarily going downhill 

this is not a love poem: a round-up of favourites that are not all lovey-dovey—via tmn  

rambler: a collection of illustrated exteriors of California ranch homes—see also

1975: Kuala Lumpur authorities shut down the Good Vibes festival after headliner Matty Healy criticised Malaysia’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws  

point of no return: time is running out on the Climate Clock  

stooping: trend adopted by Chinese young people involves decorating with cast-off furniture left by the curb 

smokey, this is not ‘nam—this is bowling, there are rules: Big Lebowski (previously) inspired bowling alley via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links (lots more to explore there) 

typoglycemia: bypassing chatbot’s ethical subroutines using word scrambling and transposed letters

Saturday 11 February 2023

((DV)) (10.542)

In an annual tradition tradition, the team at NPR’s Planet Money takes a moment to consider the things they love and dispatch valentines accordingly. While we really enjoyed the opening segment and the affection for venturing down a logistics and supply-chain rabbit hole with ImportYeti, a website that aggregates bills of ladening and customs sea shipment records and yields exacting insights on where component parts and completed goods come from (give it a try with any product marked made in China and drill down on the details), we would be compelled to send our overtures as well to Audio Description (see also)—something we’ve tried and will continue—for film and television programmes—a feature mandated by regulation and very prevalent but that affords all audiences the chance to attend in all circumstances, as if watching in company, closely and turns every episode into a podcast experience and narrated play-by-play.

Wednesday 8 February 2023

roses are red (10. 535)

In an ongoing and evolving experiment, our AI Wrangler Janelle Shane (previously) has again essayed and assigned generative chat bots to create increasingly sophisticated greetings and indulged their versical graps by taking suggested illustrations, verso and recto—including on the back ‘Excleeze Me” below a red heart. It’ funny how the algorithm focuses on pagination equally with presentation and notably addressing recipient Jack as a carnivorous plant. In its dreadful excellence our old romantic ChapGPT rendered “Roses are red / Violets are blue / This card may be old / But my love for you is brand new,” optimised for fluency and familiarity above all other sentiments.

Tuesday 3 January 2023

6x6 (10. 383)

shift happens: a comprehensive history of keyboards by Marcin Wichary—via Waxy  

luni-solar: the people who are living in multiple timelines—see previously  

poly canon: a showcase of strange, experimental architectural students senior projects at scale  

hydraulic press interpretive dance: the impressive choreography of Sarah “Smac” McCreanor—see previously  

nangajo: prominent figures of the Japanese design community present their greeting cards for 2023 (see previously), the Year of the Rabbit 

franklin ace 100: the Apple clone (see previously) with a bizarre users’ guide—via Waxy

Monday 26 December 2022

may all jollity lighten your christmas hours (10. 363)

For Second Christmas, our AI wrangler Janelle Shane (see previously) hit upon another ingenious application for generative networks, remedying in one fell prompt the inscrutability of Victorian greeting cards and the relatively anodyne nature of contemporary cards, to enliven the iconography and sentiment for the industry. Yearly good tidings and descriptions were issued by machines fed on the corpus of inaccessibly weird cards, and where possible, illustrated by our programmer. The unrenderable caption that goes with the above 1889 motto calls for “a jester puppet with magic hat holding a leaping, toothed bird which brandishes a cane as it leaps.” Another favourite was for 1890—May You Feel Sturdy and Gay—picturing an elegant naiad lifting a pianoforte and wearing a striped bathing suit. Much more to explore at the links above. 

Sunday 18 December 2022

modernmas (10. 343)

Courtesy of the Everlasting Blรถrt, we really enjoyed this re-introduction to the portfolio and biography of graphic designer, architect and Modernist Master Paul Rand through this collection of hand-painted original Christmas cards. Rand was one of the first American commercial artists to adopt and champion the International Typographic Style (otherwise known as the Swiss Style), whose hallmarks were asymmetrical layouts and legibility.  Much more at the links above.

Sunday 13 November 2022

9x9 (10. 299)

enแธซeduana: the fourth incarnation of the four-thousand year old Mesopotamian priestess who is the world’s first named author 

rip: founding member of the Clash and Public Image Ltd Keith Levene passes away, aged 65—via Nag on the Lake  

this is jim rockford. at the tone, leave your name and message. i’ll get back to you. [beep]: the mid-1970s detective drama intro faithfully recreated in LEGO  

spitalfields life: Peta Bridle illustrates her tour of London with her daughter 

tic-toc—let’s talk: Watch Dog and a nightmare clown teach children to read an analogue clock  

hush city: interactive mapping applications to chart out one’s urban soundscape and mark out those quiet spots  

51/49: Democrats retain control of the US Senate with a win in Nevada and the run-off election in Georgia ahead  

hawkwind: space music pioneer Nik Turner has died, aged 82  

the civilisation of llhuros: an artist exhibited, convincingly, a mock Iron Age culture with fantasy folkways and artefacts—via the New Shelton Wet / Dry

Tuesday 8 November 2022

7x7 (10. 284)

big bounce: some astrophysicists suspect that things were happening in the Cosmos prior to the Big Bang—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links  

nogoodnik: Russia reactivates its bot and troll army to muddy the US mid-term elections  

fivethirtyeight: mapping out when individual voting jurisdictions announce results  

jazz harp: the musical stylings of Turiyasangitananda—a.k.a. Ms Alice Coltrane—via Messy Nessy Chic

false prophets: a denunciation of America’s Christian nationalism—via Miss Cellania  

battleground states: artists reflect on the consequential American election 

hero’s journey: avoiding the perils of the monomyth in storytelling

Sunday 9 October 2022

world postal day (10.207)

The Universal Postal Union (see previously here and here) has designated this day for the annualcelebration on the anniversary of the establishment of the UPU in 1874 in Bern—the first commemorative congress called in 1969 in Tokyo. Since then, themed campaigns have been held under the auspices of this UN agency to underscore the civic importance of a reliable and accessible mail system and recognises the best postal services in a global competition.

Tuesday 20 September 2022

6x6 (10. 151)

teenage rampage: 70s sing-a-long pop was edgier than one thought   

on tyranny: twenty lesson on unfreedom and defending democracy

heptominos: geometric magic squares from Lee Sallows—see also

cross-hatched: dozens of security envelope patterns  

quiet quitting: these scenes of office drudgery are a form of protest

rainbow quest: Pete Seeger’s 1960s folk music television show

Monday 14 February 2022


Via Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day, we are introduced to the French for literally a “sweet note” that has been adopted in the common-parlance since the seventeenth century as an alternative for a romantic missive.  Pronounced Billy-DOO, the plural form is billets-doux. 

Saturday 12 February 2022


forum gallorum: step into this unassuming salon to inspect a piece of Roman London, reminiscent of discovering this shopping mall in Mainz—via Nag on the Lake  

burds: just a fun little cleanse—cartoony birds hopping about—via Waxy  

shred, white and blue: the totally normal and perfectly legal ways the White House handled official records 

neft daลŸlarฤฑ: a decaying offshore oil platform in the middle of the Caspian Sea  

the thoughtful spot: the Phrontistery (ฯ†ฯฮฟฮฝฯ„ฮนฯƒฯ„ฮฎฯฮนฮฟฮฝ, Greek for the thinking place) catalogues a treasury of rare and obscure words—via Kottke  

gumshoe: the bygone era of the hotel detective—via Strange Company’s Weekend Link Dump  

be mine: the Lupercalia and the origins of Saint Valentine

Saturday 5 February 2022

i choo-choo-choose you

Graduating beyond their last Valentine-themed experiment with those sentimental chalky hearts (tag yourself), our resident Artificial Intelligencer Janelle Shane (previously) returns with an awkward greeting card exchange, reminiscent indeed of those compulsory ones from element school with the same slightly antiquated, non sequitur, generic energy. There were just too many weird ones to pick from but especially liked the terms of endearment: You’re the snail’s poise! or Hugs for your Valentine, from the inside! and Boop-rah, sexy fried heart! See more plus illustrations at AI Weirdness at the link above.

Monday 15 February 2021

hungry like the wolf

The three-day pastoral festival traditionally ending on the ides of February (the instruments of purification, februum, bunches of branches used like a broom and in the extended sanctified sense below, is the name gives the month its name and is the source of the modern inheritance called Spring Cleaning) called Lupercalia is a syncretism and has been assimilated into Christian traditions of Saint Valentine’s Day, but originally focused on mysterious annual rites and sacrifices that a special priesthood performed in the cave below the Forum where the She-Wolf nursed Romulus and Remus and the site where Rome was founded. Young men of the city’s patrician families formed a collegia (association) called the Luperci (Brothers of the Wolf), performing various cleansing rituals and ablutions—sacrificing a herd of goats plus a dog at the altar. Following the feast, the men fashioned girdles out of goatskin (also called februa) and paraded wearing only these thongs along Rome’s original boundaries and circled the Palatine Hill in an anti-clockwise procession, lashing marriageable women with surplus stripes of flayed skin for fertility.

Sunday 14 February 2021


a note to asterius’ daughter signed ‘from your valentine’: the reliquary and relics of the third century martyr 

lost in my dms: a brief history of Dungeons & Dragons the animated series—see previously  

barlow & bear: talented duo bringing Bridgerton the musical to TikTok  

but patty’s only seen the sights a girl can see from brooklyn heights: a century of the identical twin trope of Hollywood and one actor playing multiple roles, juxtaposed with actual twin child actors sharing a single role 

universal language: two examples of diplomats breaking out in song—here and here 

anteros: Cupid in the arts through the millennia

Friday 14 February 2020

mouthy hamster

Our programmer friend, author and AI-minder Janelle Shane (see previously) took a different approach to the holiday medium that arguably machine-learning could most easily access and influence—the sadly unavailable chalky candy-heart—explicitly not attempting to have her neural network try to caption them but instead only seeding the task with a list of the original (and impressively varied) three-hundred and sixty-six messages to one’s sweetheart and no other context. Here are just some of the results but be sure to visit the links above to see more and learn about the methodologies behind machine learning.

Sunday 24 February 2019


The date of observance and tone having shifted significantly since the Icelandic calendar was first codified and presently equivalent to Valentine’s Day, Woman’s Day has settled on this day—having beforehand been held on the first day of the month of Gรณa—which could fall anywhere between the eighteenth and the twenty-fifth of February, due to the strictly solar character of the traditional way of keeping track of the passage of time which employed interstitial weeks rather than leap days every few years to correct for seasonal creep. The extra week called sumarauki was always inserted into the summer and the rather ingenious and tidy system developed in the 900s had twelve months of thirty days each (three hundred and sixty plus four epagomenal ones) and the months always began on the same day of the week. The old Icelandic year was divided between “short days” (see also here and here)—Skammdegi—that described the length of daylight during the winter and its corollary “nightless days”—Nรกttleysi. The dark and harsh first half of the year consisted of:

  • mid October – mid November: Gormรกnuรฐur, Gรณr’s month which marked the time to harvest and slaughter livestock for the winter
  • mid November – mid December: รlir, Yuletide 
  • mid December – mid January: Mรถrsugur, feasting time 
  • mid January – mid February: รžorri, dead of Winter 
  • mid February to mid March: Gรณa 
  • mid March to mid April: Einmรกnuรฐur, the month of transition
Summer is welcomed with Sumardagurinn fyrsti and the six months of unending days, many named after now forgotten goddesses—making an even stronger argument to honour the women in your lives all year around, follow with:
  • mid April – mid May: Harpa, the beginning of Summer 
  • mid May – mid June: Skerpia 
  • mid June – mid July: Sรณlmรกnuรฐur, the sunny month 
  • mid July – mid August: Heyannir, time to dry the hay for the livestock 
  • mid August – mid September: Tvรญmรกnuรฐur, for some reason, the second month 
  • mid September – mid October: Haustmรกnuรฐur, autumn sets in

Thursday 14 February 2019

sua sponte

Never to be accused of being an old romantic at heart, Pope Paul VI issued on this day in 1969 the Mysterii Pascchalis, reforming the liturgical year and revising the calendar of the saints.
This motu proprio (from the Latin, at one’s own accord) represents an official decree not prompted by another or in response to current developments or findings yet still has the force of law regardless of motivation, among other things struck many figures from the Calendarium Romanum, the cycle of celebrations called the Proper of Saints—to include Saint Valentine, whose feast day coincided with the decree. Only wanting to preserve the rites that were truly of universal importance to the faith, the Pope deleted or transposed nearly fifty solemnities for all our favourites, mostly due to redundancy or their problematic histories, including the saintly family of Maris, Martha, Abachum and Audifax, Canute of Denmark, Dorothy of Caesarea, Faustinus and Jovita, Ursula and her companions, Simeon, the Seven Sleepers and Saint Barbara.

Wednesday 13 February 2019


art brut: the incredible portfolio of outsider artist (previously here, here and here) Adolf Wรถlfi

gamalost: Norway’s campaign to re-popularise a crumbly and aromatic cheese with reputed libidinous qualities—via Nag on the Lake

call sign: radio station logos of the Soviet Union—via Coudal Partner’s Fresh Signals

hey! wait! I’ve got a new complaint: a brief history of the heart-shaped box and how it became a Valentine’s staple

mirror, mirror: the label on this sun-screen bottle are printed backwards to be more photogenic

word vectors: advanced translators are an endorsement Ludwig Wittgenstein’s theories on language