Sunday 14 July 2024

8x8 (11. 693)

priscila, queen of the rideshare mafia: the tale of a gig-economy pyramid scheme  

fรชte nationale: a comprehensive list of what Americans and the French know about each other 

80s lifestyle icons: health and fitness guru Richard Simmons and sex therapist Dr Ruth Westheimer pass away  

stillsuits: researchers develop Fremen inspired garments for astronauts that improve comfort, hydration and hygiene  

my israel home: US real estate companies profiting off expanded, illegal settlements in the West Bank—see also 

paranormal phenomenon: Japanese terms for dรฉjร  vu, telepathy and incredulous serendipity 

๐Ÿ›’: the trend of grocery store tourism really resonates with us and a cultural experience we always are sure to have—via Nag on the Lake 

kein brot und keine ehre: Georg Christoph Lichtenberg’s correspondent’s categories of human endeavour

Sunday 7 July 2024

kinesigraph (11. 669)

Public Domain Review contributor Irfan Shah revives the forgotten figure of Wordsworth Donisthorpe of Leeds—inventor, chess enthusiast, anarchist, linguist, social reformer and unrecognised pioneer of cinematography, only to fall behind the competition in Louis Le Prince and Thomas Edison. Though Donisthorpe’s career is punctuated with lamentable near successes and frustrating failures—which saw him turn to blackmail on more than one occasion but that did not produce a favourable outcome either—except as a posthumous postscript that connects Donisthrope, through his social outreach, to one of the early icons of the silver screen. Read more about the Kinesigraph patent, free love and his Latinate language reform attempts at the link up top.

Saturday 15 June 2024

8x8 (11. 632)

anabolics: the mainstreaming of casual steroid use  

cover model: the identity of the individual on the iconic Duran Duran album revealed four decades on—via Miss Cellania  

rank and file: a woodland-themed chessboard that rolls up into a log 

the imitation game: researchers claim that GPT-4 has passed the Turing Test—see previously 

london underground: spelunking through the strata of the ancient city  

non-playable character: determinism versus emergence and the question of free will  

ticino: a cache of five-thousand photographs spanning from 1900 to 1930 taken by a poor seed-peddler captures life in a remote, Italian-speaking Swiss canton  

food that makes you gay: stereotypes and gender in what we eat—via Web Curios

Tuesday 11 June 2024

solvitur ambulando (11. 620)

The paradoxes of ancient Greek philosopher Zeno, as recorded by Aristotle’s Physics, argues motion is illusionary with the dichotomy that a traveler must arrive at the half-way point before reaching the goal, and before getting to the mid-stage, must necessarily travel a quarter and before that an eighth, a sixteenth, a thirty-second, a sixty-fourth and so on. Not finding the sum that all these fractional steps forwards didn’t complete the journey wasn’t Zeno’s objection but rather how to finish an infinite—though infinitesimal—number of tasks. Fellow philosopher and noted Cynic Diogenes, simply got up and left the conversation to demonstrate the contrary after hearing this line of reasoning. Attributed later to Saint Augustine, the Latin phrase “it is solved by walking” from this account, has become a catch-all directing one to answer practical problems with practical rejoiners—to walk it off as the sovereign remedy for every travail.

hyperpleasures (11. 619)

Via tmn, we are introduced to the rising scaffolding in part underpinning the architecture of choice in off-the-scale experiences by default—and not just the dopamine of accelerated gratification—and how if a nice stroll spoilt by accompanying it with the yammer of a podcast, for example, it is not only the product of immersive and unrelenting technology as a vehicle to deliver constant entertainment and distraction and a means to avoid interaction with one’s immediate environment, but rather a decision informed by our minds and evolved reward-system, absent real dangers or discomforts that turn towards the cheaper easier and higher ranking pleasures. Whereas a quiet walk in nature might rate a reliable 10/10, it cannot hope to compete with a exponentially higher experience of listening to whatever one care to or doomscrolling, and it’s not an unexacting feat to claw oneself away from, coming down from giddy heights and back to the solid but small and ordinary, especially when a genuine social experience demands the responsibility and focus that might be marks against it. Cushioning ourselves from those attendant discomforts, moreover, helps us delude ourselves into thinking that our connected activities are a way of making and maintaining social connections when their real function is quite the opposite, it seems.

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit plus the US supreme court on self-incrimination

two years ago: ET (1982), more on Magnus Hirschfeld plus Nordhein vor dem Rhรถn

three years ago: your daily demon: Botis, more links to enjoy, a Surrealist exhibition plus the Geometry of Circles

four years ago: a papal decree, slow adoption of US constitutional amendments, more links worth the revisit, Nordic flags, Juneteenth, the Los Angeles Free Press plus more Bardcore

five years ago: even more links to enjoy plus beyond the pale

Wednesday 22 May 2024

permalink (11. 573)

Cory Doctorow presents a winsome and circumspect consideration of the recent survey of the internet’s perishable nature and how a figure approaching forty percent of websites, news articles and government websites have no legacy and succumb to linkrot—with reference sites particularly left untethered from their original source material—not withstanding preservation efforts through his personal and persistent practise of keeping a daily journal—an indexed memory of associated thoughts and connections that harkens back to earliest theories of informatics—and making the process public. One’s own record is of course an aid and antidote to the peekaboo when neglect and decay follow creative collaboration and the context, steps and milieu all slip away and a heuristic to gauge the sad truth that institutions and archives are brittle, gearing more towards discovery and derivation rather than rediscovery and reflection. More from Pluralistic at the link up top.

Thursday 16 May 2024

10x10 (11. 562)

crimes of atrocity: a long, dense episode of -ologies with Alie Ward on the hugely fraught and difficult subject of genocide with a powerful and circumspect post-script 

airoboros: artificial intelligence trained on AI made content is becoming highly problematic and only compounded—see previously  

the city on the edge of forever: public portal linking Dublin and New York City suspended after inappropriate behaviour  

palmerston’s follies: two maritime forts off Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight that have been converted into boutique accommodations go up for auction  

the deuce: the Greek grandmother who built an adult entertainment empire in Times Square before its Disneyfication 

foot on the gas: the inevitability of the climate collapse and humanity’s capacity for adjustment  

⌘ |: the lost history of pre-internet emoji and rendering software—via Waxysee previously 

flashing headlights: the giant Dana squid’s photophores in attack-mode  

eternal return: cosmic cycles and time’s resurgence  

first-day agenda: how Trump is framing his vision for a second-term

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit plus a visit to Arnstadt

two years ago: St Brendan, more links to enjoy plus the Electrotechnical Exhibition of 1891

three years ago: a classic from Kim Carnes, a language quiz, more links worth the revisit plus an ancient action figure

four years ago: more Trump’s Space Force, birdhouses, the stress of social media moderation, a medieval manuscript game plus a musical typing tutor

five years ago: GenX, consular services at McDonalds, soliciting grievances, Japanese mascots plus office equipment

Thursday 2 May 2024

national day of reason (11. 530)

In response to the statutory observance of the National Day of Prayer—codified into law at the urging of conservative evangelical preacher Billy Graham in 1952 during the Korean War with US president Harry S Truman signing a bill proclaiming that each subsequent administration was to declare this annual holiday on the date of his choosing—this secular counter-convocation has been held on the first Thursday since 2003 by humanists and freethinkers to assert freedom from religion after unsuccessfully petitioning the federal government from endorsing the former, supported by public monies and time for Christian-dominated religious ceremonies. The latter having gained in popularity in recent years as a demonstration that nonbelievers can contribute to their communities in positive and life-affirming ways and be good without god, activities include organised food drives, blood donations and giving to other charities.

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.

Wednesday 17 April 2024

metaphysics of quality (11. 495)

Finally published after receiving one hundred twenty-one letters of rejection for the manscript, the fictionalised autobiography of author and philosopher Robert M Pirsig recounts the seventeen day cross-continent odyssey with his his son as a vehicle to reconcile and reconnect with his past self, driven insane by speculation on the nature of the Good and subjected to electro-convulsive therapy which irretrievably changed his personality. Pilgrims who trace his journey from Montana to California can pay homage to the motorcycle subject to repair, newly acquired by and on display at the Smithsonian. Along the way, the unnamed narrator encounters a foil in a friend who chose not to learn how to care for his expensive bike, hoping for the best but relying on professional mechanics when things do go wrong, and in contrast is able to trouble-shoot his ride, a comparative jalopy—framing the trip with many dense and introspective discussions on knowledge, belief and value—and argues persuasively that one can accept, embrace the dichotomy of the rational and romantic (like Nietzche’s Apollonian/Dionysian division) to avoid falling into gumption traps, the motivation that drains enthusiasm, reinforcing reluctance to change and adjudge situations as they come with less pragmatism. The discursive diary of ideas was for a generation a way to bookend the counterculture movement and temper some of the exuberance and idealism, like the schism in the narrator’s own mind, and function and flourish in a world beset with rules, norms and progress. Pirsig offers the disclaimer that, despite the title, his work should “in no way be associated with that great body of factual information relating to orthodox Zen Buddhist practise. It’s not very factual on motorcycles either.”

synchronoptica

one year ago: Bavaria wants to bring its nuclear power plants back online

two years ago: more on interstellar interlopers, Dolly Parton wardrobed like Easter eggs plus assorted links worth revisiting

three years ago: more links to enjoy, Zalgo text plus a UFO sighting in Aurora, Texas (1897)

four years ago: more links worth revisiting, an observation confirming the Two Body Problem, some sporting music plus the invention of hiking as a pastime

five years ago: even more links to enjoy plus the World Chess Association logo

Wednesday 3 April 2024

9x9 (11. 464)

avis de rรฉception: Gertrude Stein first draft of her manuscript for The Making of Americans returned by a publisher  

greener pastures: ranchers embrace the benefits of virtual fencing  

แผ€ฮบฯฮฑฯƒฮฏฮฑ: philosophers weigh in on why we do things against our better judgment—via Kottke  

classroom setting: The Function of Colour in Schools and Hospitals (1930)  

haute couture: McDonald’s fashion in France  

heliopause: a NASA-endorsed app designed to photograph the North American total eclipse 

rhapsody in green: warm earth music for plants… and the people who love them 

could’ve been a contender: for what would be his hundredth birthday, some screen highlights of Marlon Brando

peer review: the Journal of Universal Rejection

 synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit

two years ago: Planet of the Apes (1968)

three years ago: musical hypercards, more links to enjoy, missionary cats plus Blue Moon (1961)

four years ago: vintage railway memorabilia plus drawing elephants sight unseen

five years ago: the Marshall Plan (1948), more links worth revisiting plus conserving Soviet Almaty

Friday 22 March 2024

intersection of prose and code (11. 442)

Via Web Curios, we are directed to the third annual anthology of an experimental webzine described as a “journal of literature made to exist on the on the internet” called The HTML Review. A selection of works radiating outwards as spokes from the issue are collected that incorporate both an essay or fable with an element of the interactive. We too especially enjoyed the “Game of Hope,” which combines John Horton Conway’s cellular automata with Pandora’s Box, and the tangential “Measure a Machine’s Heart” whose passion either ramps up or burns out according to a certain protocol.

Thursday 14 March 2024

7x7 (11. 421)

triple word score: the undisputed champion of competitive Scrabble  

boyard cigarettes: unused geisha footage for an Offworld advertising campaign

statutory interpretation: a forthcoming book on the ideology of originalism and its malleability 

the apprehension engine: custom suspenseful sounds for horror movie incidental music—via Things Magazine  

penmanship: the resurgence of cursive—see previously  

raktajino: a supercut of Klingon coffee in Star Trek: DS-9  

game theory: selfishness and enlightened self-interest through the lens of novelist and philosopher Iris Murdoch

Friday 8 March 2024

promissory estoppal (11. 409)

Whilst the lawsuit Elon Musk recently filed against OpenAI might seem frivolous and the domain of tech-billionaires with hard feelings—Musk being an original backer of the artificial intelligence venture, the allegation that co-founder Sam Altman (previously) for breach of contract—essentially harm caused by the broken-promise above—for abandoning its initial vision and mission of forwarding the field for the benefit of all by licensing its interim innovations before the Singularity to Microsoft as a commercial branch of the non-profit. Arguably an incremental improvement (weighing the publicised concerns from people involved with the newest iteration), the plaintiff claims that the release of GPT-4 without transparency and available for a price amounts to a sentient Clippy. Although we don’t believe that this version is thinking and the sought after Artificial General Intelligence, yet—at least, and such altruistic slogans like “Don’t be evil” or “Move fast and break things” tend to backfire—the lawsuit does raise an interesting question for the new Turing Test that I never thought might be an impediment to progress: if OpenAI is motivated to say that the next version for commercial release is only an improvement on the last and not the end goal, then we may never reach it, at least by one estimation and subject to litigation.

Tuesday 5 March 2024

7x7 (11. 402)

beyond the edge: the paradox of an infinite Cosmos  

why don’t you come up some time, see me: vocal fry and the valence of husky voices  

the complete commercial artist: the graphic design that informed modern Japan  

urschleim: primordial ooze as animated putty from 1911 

l’urythmics: an anaerobic exercise routine led by jazz dance pioneer Eugene “Luigi 5-6-7-8” Faccuito  

auteur: an omnibus collection of the most beautiful shots in cinematic history from the Solomon Society—including Barry Lyndon—sure to elicit lots of movie memories 

biosigns: an array of telescopes trained on potentially habitable exoplanets confirm a sample size one in a demonstration of its capability

Saturday 17 February 2024

♐︎ (11. 357)

Via Boing Boing, we are directed towards a project by Matt Webb that resulted in this handy app that always points to the galactic centre of the Milky Way, the rotational point coincident with the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* surrounded by about ten million older red giant stars in close proximity. When I got my first model of iPhone, I got made fun of for first playing with the compass before anything else, and I’m not ashamed to say, especially for someone with a poor sense of direction, I still find it engaging even with no particular place to go. With little avowed programming skills and no experience in making apps, the details of realising this undertaking in collaboration with AI are really interesting and illustrative of the cooperative effort—it’s not just summoned into existence but was enabled and was a great leveller, but even more internet was the preamble about Webb cultivating a superpower to orientate himself to intuitively know where this dense, far away region was an imagine the waltz of the cosmos relative to this pivot-point and relative to himself—reminiscent of some insular and aboriginal languages using geographical features, landmarks or cardinal directions rather than the egocentric right and left. Webb’s navigational instinct has since sadly waned but can be supplemented by this little creation, grounding  to know even when it’s below one’s feet.

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 9 February 2024

argumentum ad baculum (11. 337)

Via ibฤซdem, we appreciated these logic lessons (an educational project going for a decade now) that presents concepts of dialogue, rhetoric and debate as well as biases and fallacies, like the below Ad Hominem attack between Lieutenants Sulu Arex Na Eth, with Mister Spock moderating for the rest of the cast of Star Trek: The Animated Series as interlocutors (redubbed—see above—and using footage from the cartoons). The dozens of episodes include short tutorials on petitio principii (circular reasoning), the Straw Man Fallacy, Confirmation Bias and the Sunk Cost Fallacy, the Halo Effect and the benefit of hindsight, various appeals, Tu Quoque (whataboutism) and many more. See how Vulcan logic can put more in your philosophical quiver against sophistry and misinformation.

Monday 29 January 2024

interlocutors (11. 304)

We enjoyed this cross-posting from Aeon and Epochรฉ Magazine in this short essay, enhanced by a cacophonous accompaniment and archival footage by John C Brady on the Socratic dialogue Gorgias, caputured by Plato in 380 BCE (prejudiced against the title figure for promoting pro-democratic, populist sentiment as not a serious thinker, despite the itinerant guru’s acknowledged influence and innovation and outliving everyone at the dinner party, dying aged one-hundred and eight), depicting a symposium by a small group of invited sophists with the debate attempting to uncover the definition of rhetoric and lay bare the flaws in oration and persuasion, positing that rhetoric is not a skill but rather a knack for gratification, re-enforcement and flattery, advancing belief without underlying knowledge.

Tuesday 23 January 2024

and there are twice as many stars as usual (11. 290)

Adapted and recirculated in 2019 on the occasion of another prodigious birth, the 1976 Walt Whitman award-winning verse by poet and nurse Laura Gilpin, from her collection The Hocus Pocus of the Universe, “The Two-Headed Calf” has become a thoughtful refrain for videos, viral and with millions of followers and fans, documenting this polycephalous twin recently born, with many concerned for their wellbeing and quality of life—precious, no matter how short it may be. 

Tomorrow when the farm boys find this
freak of nature, they will wrap his body
in newspaper and carry him to the museum. 

But tonight he is alive and in the north
field with his mother. It is a perfect
summer evening: the moon rising over
the orchard, the wind in the grass. And
as he stares into the sky, there are
twice as many stars as usual.

Not to disparage farm boys, though they’re always ready to take us, but at least for this night, we are perfect and primed for tomorrow unawares and nonetheless loved.