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

Monday, 28 January 2019


marenostrum: deconsecrated church in Barcelona houses Catalonia Polytech’s super computer

el helicoide: the dreadful-excellence of Caracas’ space age intelligence services headquarters turned into a sprawling prison complex

ectoplasm: nothing is prepared for the overwhelming slime of the hagfish

love you: we face our first Valentine’s Day bereft of classic Sweethearts candy, the company having folded back in July

accumulus nimbus: a gallery of skies and cloudscapes from arcade games, via Present /&/ Correct

visa-free score: limits of roaming without a passport and other quirks of international travel 

Tuesday, 13 February 2018


shuffleboard: some interesting facts about the sport of curling

wait, wait—don’t tell me: a public television programme or something Liam Neeson would say to a burrito right before eating it

official portraits: artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald commissioned by the Smithsonian to create paintings of the Obamas

nocturlabe: an instrument to determine local time at night based on the relative position of the stars

suffragetto: a century’s old board game that pits equal-rights activists against the police

hermetically open: Amsterdam’s private Ritman Library brings over sixteen hundred occult manuscripts on-line with the help of Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown

how u hot: a neural network generates phrases for chalky candy hearts

Tuesday, 14 February 2017


apex and apogee: the spacecraft graveyard at Point Nemo

thar she blows: conservation efforts to restore the longest painting in America, a scrolling panorama of whaling on the high seas around the world, via Nag on the Lake

pepijn en merjn: a Dutch suburb that’s styled itself after characters of Middle Earth

swaddling: cocooning technique from Japan purporting to alleviate pain and stiffness   

รคitiyspakkaus: Finnish style cardboard bassinets are being issued to new parents in New Jersey, via Super Punch

curiouser and curiouser: anamorphic, mirrored pieces sculpted to commemorate the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

homersexual: how John Waters’ cameo on The Simpsons (twenty years ago) kicked off an inclusive revolution on television, via Kottke

Saturday, 13 February 2016

eros and agape

Valentine’s Day in its received format has a pretty interesting history of conflation, segregation and outright confusion. As the Roman Empire was filling its calendar with holidays, the day preceding the Ides of February became sacred to Juno (Hera), the long-suffering spouse of Jupiter (Zeus), who was among many other attributes and kennings, the patroness of marriage and newly-weds. Accordingly, this date began a favoured time for nuptials and young boys and girls, whom were normally strictly separated throughout the rest of the year, in anticipation for the coming feast distributed ballots, lots with their names on them and later—during the following feast of Lupercalia, pairs were drawn and the two youths would be “married” for the duration of the festivities before being parted again, to be later married off under more customary, strategic conditions arranged by their parents.
I do not know if any of these sweethearts pined afterwards but graver unimpassioned measures were to be introduced during the first decades of the three hundreds when, according to legend, there was a backlash against the recalcitrant Christian community, under the reign of Aurelian (and later repeated by Diocletian) who was distrusting of their anti-social behaviours in not observing the rites of the Empire and aside from tossing them to the lions forbade marriage (but this may have also been a more general-order, irrespective of affiliation) since matrimony was not conducive to going off to war. A hero was produced, as is often the case (and another during the Diocletian persecution with the same cognomen and guilty of the same crimes against the state), in the person of Valentino, who performed in cognito wedding services in accordance with Church customs. This underground community was infiltrated and an unrepentant Valentine (and his later incarnation) were thrown in prison. One of the Valentines had an audience with the Emperor (Claudius Gothicus, according to some) who was sympathetic to his cause at first, but the Valentine got a little too preachy and the Emperor had him executed anyway. Both martyrdoms took place at the head of Lupercalia and as a symbol for fidelity and family—though I suppose there could only be one Valentine with that sort of patronage. Though Valentine greetings were sent first in the late Middle Ages, it was not until Victorian times that the spirit of the holiday recaptured that original sense of the lottery and flirtation—and continued admiration. Happy Valentines’ Day everybody!