Saturday, 16 September 2023

iลฃkuรฎl (11. 004)

Via Futility Closet we learn about the experimental constructed language proposed by linguist John Quijada in 2004 not for common-parlance but rather as an auxiliary language and a systematic approach to reduce the ambiguities of everyday speech and present, convey a logical set of instructions, mark-up protocols for situations calling for precise and succinct statements—for instance, politics, science and philosophy. Highly inflected and suggesting mental processing at a gallop or at least forethought prior to speaking: the two-unit sentence “tram-mฤผรถi hhรขsmaล™pลฃuktรดx” means in English “On the contrary, I think it may turn out that this rugged mountain range trails off at some point.” The pictured script (boustrophedonic if the samples went on to the next line), illustrating in three word-units the possibility of semantic sense rather than organic development, warns to “Be careful, your fork is actually a fennec.” Since 2006, the inventor Quijada has released several progressive rock compositions in Ithkuil, though music seems to us the most forgiving means of expression and relying on entendre and allegory.

Saturday, 9 September 2023

7x7 (10. 991)

trochilinae: a look at the evolution of evolution of hummingbirds—see previously  

uranometria: a comparative study of constellations across cultures—via Web Curios  

portfolio: photographer James Mollison documents children’s rooms, collectors and their collections around the world plus other projects—via Things Magazine  

lightning 4-2: a record-setting speedrun of Super Mario Bros  

zero width non-joiner: let AI generate a custom emoji—note the cursed thumbs up/down icons—via Waxy

extended-stay: Plato’s Cave (previously) will be raising its rent—via JWZ  

halcyon days: a slow-motion look at the kingfisher’s dive 


one year ago: Stone Temple Pilots plus the proclamation of King Charles III

two years ago: more on DC statehood, the Battle of Teutoberg Forest (9 AD), rewilding begins at home plus assorted links to revisit

three years ago: the establishment of Washington, DC (1791), the disputed Hans Island, a lighthouse transformed plus AI supervillains

four years ago: more on the moons of Jupiter 

five years ago: Trump threatens to remove US troops from Germany plus an expansive pattern library


Tuesday, 5 September 2023

9x9 (10. 984)

built on sand: UN monitoring reveals the alarming scale of marine dredging 

but the meteor men beg to differ, judging by the hole in the satellite picture: revisiting a cringey faux academic essay on “All Star” to realise that Steve Harwell (RIP) had more to tell us  

j-mouse: a procession of dead-end peripherals—I would get the PC in an ottoman 

⡆⠄: LEGO’s braille bricks offered free-of-charge to parents and educators now available to the general public 

the secret-sharer: a confessional box from Simone Giertz (previously) where one’s messages are only present for a few seconds before self-destructing  

phil a. o’fish: a short-lived McDonaldland mascot and early beef alternatives—via Weird Universe  

mixed media: experiential scale-models of Tracey Snelling inspired by the architecture of Berlin—including the Mรคusebunker 

premeditatio malorum: fifty short rules for better living from the Stoics  

thermohaline circulation: scientist support using the oceans’ inclination for equilibrium to pull in excess atmospheric carbon-dioxide—see previously


one year agoTainted Love (1981) plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: a film from D W Griffith, armorial bearings plus the debut of the Muppet Show (1976)

three years ago: the opening of the Gotthard Tunnel (1980)

four years ago: the greenwashing of the recycling movement plus a legendary kingdom in Bretagne

five years ago: a Freddie Mercury birthday bash, a Queen arrangement in brass, outsider artist James Henry Pullen plus reconciling with the end of coal through art

Friday, 1 September 2023

8x8 (10. 977)

diyarbakฤฑr: archeologists discover a massive subterranean city under the Roman garrison at Zerzevan 

aaro: the Pentagon launches a website to explore declassified information on unidentified anomalous phenomena, via Slashdot—also watch this instead 

space for kitchen aerobics: the latest oversized monstrosity from McMansion Hell—previously

the parable of the pig: philosopher Pyrrho’s hog as a model of tranquillity in a ship on a stormy sea—from Futility Closet happily back after a hiatus  

queso de cabrales: a hunk of artisanal cheese from Asturias fetches a record-setting price—via Strange Company 

a directory of wonderful things: an expert curated selection of weird and delightful corners of the internet  

chatgop: a conservative media outlet may have interviewed an AI generated Donald Trump 

colossus of constantine: plans to restore the monumental statue of the Roman emperor built as a triumph for his victory in the Battle of the Milvian Bridge

Monday, 28 August 2023

ydinjรคtteen loppusijoitustila (10. 968)

Via fellow internet peripatetic Messy Nessy Chic, we are directed towards a quick but ruminative tour of an installation in Finland, which in two short years will see no human traffic for the next hundred thousand. The deep geological repository of Onkalo near the Eurajoki power plant on the western coast will be the first long-term disposal facility for spent fuel rods and other highly radioactive material currently warehoused in storage depots around the world, the site chosen for its geologic stability and informed by residents around the site’s location. The reflections of being among the last to tread these caverns is particularly poignant as one imagines the surface landscape taking on a new character in the intervening aeons and how might these seals remain unbroken for untold future generations.


one year ago: Culture Beat’ Mister Vain (1993) plus the short-lived BBC spy drama Quiller

two years ago: your daily demon: Asmodeus assorted links to revisit plus the art of Arthur Tress

three years ago: the death of Emmett Till (1955)

four years ago: the iconic artwork Marianne Saxl-Deutsch

five years ago: the Ramstein Air-Show Disaster, Late-Stage Capitalism, more links to enjoy plus more on the Great Span


Friday, 18 August 2023

reach out, touch faith (10. 950)

Via the ever-excellent Web Curios, we are directed towards an onslaught of AI applications and burgeoning projects including this “divine connection” in one’s pocket (see also) replete with testimonials and the disclaimer that “this app is a tool for reflection and learning, not a replacement for prayer or personal faith” offering a lifeline to the Great Come-Again Christ. This opportunity is coming as some are calling Jesus’ approach too woke and subversively suspect, and recalls an epilogue from a rather incongruous work seminar that I attended ages ago about “Living in the New Normal” which concluded that rather the inevitability of inventing God that maybe we as a society become worthy and create one, though probably not to be parsed as the canonical one. In addition to Jesus which certainly draws from rubric, premium subscribers can also choose other biblical personalities as interlocutors including members of the Holy Family like Mary or foster-father Joseph, who was admittedly kind of long-suffering save for the bit about siring the royal houses of Europe through Jesus’ half-siblings, and didn’t seem to have a lot of wisdom to dispense outside of carpentry, plus the Apostles including Judas and select figure from the Old Testament ๐Ÿ™


one year ago: St Helen,  a 1922 gliding competition plus a bubble-wrap instrument

two years ago: your daily demon: Forneus, disfluent fonts, culture wars at school board meetings, School House Rock! maths shorts, more phonetic spelling proposals plus Mid-Century Lithuanian illustrators

three years ago: Roman emperors reconstructed with AI, Michelle Obama at the DNC, Women’s Suffrage in the US (1920), a new American Gothic, constructed languages, aesthetic data visualisations plus Hamlet variations

four years ago: canons for spawning fish,  more odonymy, more McMansions, a visual vernacular in architectural element plus the Lost of Colony of Roanoke

five years ago: a mid-70s vision of future space stations, an Icelandic word for a break from the heat, Wikipedia’s gift shop, making frozen treats heat resilient plus an early AI image maker

Tuesday, 15 August 2023

mariรค himmelfahrt (10. 946)

Observed on this day as either the Feast of the Assumption in the Latin Rite or the Feast of the Dormition in Eastern Orthodox tradition, Christians celebrate the translation of the Virgin Mary, either wholly, bodily taken up or having gone to sleep without suffering a mortal death. While this elevation to eternal life has some singular aspects (Mary is said to enjoy the fullness and autonomy of the afterlife that the other saints will only experience after the Last Judgment), there are other instances of the phenomenal honour in Judaism and Christianity, with Jesus and Enoch, the patriarch and father of Methuselah “who walked with God: and was no more” and the prophet Elijah and Pharaoh’s Daughter (see also) who found Moses (himself taken up after his remains were fought over by Satan and the Archangel Michael) amongst the reeds with other instances of being raptured in other traditions. Many figures in Hinduism, kings and swami, are said to have merged with God, essentially dematerialising, Islam teaches that Muhammed was similarly taken up into Heaven and Hellenistic tradition recognises ascendant masters like the thaumaturgist and philosopher Apollonius, a wandering sage who travelled in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia and drew many latter day comparisons to the reincarnated Christ.

Saturday, 29 July 2023

you will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me (10. 913)

Fรชted on this day along with her siblings Lazarus and and Mary (often conflated with Mary Magdalene), Martha of Bethany, patron saint of hospitality workers, domestics and try-hards, is characterised in the Book of Luke as being conscientiously preoccupied with the task of hosting Jesus when he came for a visit.

Both sisters lamenting that had Jesus arrived earlier he might have healed their brother and prevented his death, Martha came out of mourning to receive their guest, while Mary waited and wept for her departed brother. Jesus wept. Moved by Mary’s emotions (whose patronage includes Spiritual Studies), Jesus resurrected Lazarus, restoring him to life after four days dead in a tomb. Later, the siblings hosted Jesus again for a in celebration and gratitude of Lazarus’ return with Mary in the course of the feast anointing the feet of Jesus with an entire vial of expensive perfume and wiped his feet with her hair. Many of the other other disciples were upset by this ostentatious display, especially Judas who argued that this costly albastron represented a year’s wages and could have been sold to benefit the poor—to which Jesus rebutted the above (somewhat confusingly as parables are not always the best didactic tools in one’s quiver) that Mary was saving the perfume for his burial, suggesting that she somehow sensed his imminent capture, trial and execution.  


one year ago: departing Scotland
two years ago: St Olaf,  fighting runaway inflation with video game money, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil plus some philosophical captchas
three years ago: a collection of conchs, more Universal Everything, the wedding of Charles and Diana (1981) plus Trump’s medical advisors
four years ago: more consequences for America leaving the Universal Postal Union plus a feline fragrance
five years ago: the birth of NASA (1958) plus the portfolio of photographer Joshua Blackburn

Sunday, 16 July 2023

batter my heart, three-person’d god (10. 889)

The first demonstration resulting from the Manhattan Project, a race to harness the destructive power of a nuclear weapon—the allied US and Great Britain urged to master the technology before fascist powers, Trinity, occurred on this day in 1945, the test carried out in the Jornada del Muerto desert in New Mexico, using the only pre-existing structures in the area as a laboratory to study the effects of “the Gadget,” the McDonald family ranch requisitioned by the American government and also where bomb components were assembled. J Robert Oppenheimer recalls that the project’s code name was inspired by the poetry of John Donne and of witnessing the dread blast with a retinue of some four-hundred fifty scientists and military observers that a parallel verse from the Bhagavad Gita also came to mind, knowing the world would not be the same and narrating the feelings of the awe-struck, the hysterical and inconsolable, thought of Vishnu’s attempt to persuade Prince Arjuna to perform his duty and overcome his moral dilemmas in a state of war and appeared before him in the aspect of his universal form, announcing, “Now I am become Death, destroyer of worlds.” A near copy of the bomb was detonated in August over Nagasaki.

Monday, 5 June 2023

on the air—unaware (10. 788)

An modern retelling of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, a clinical delusion, and perhaps contributing to audience acceptance of the pivot towards reality television that came about due to the last Hollywood Writers’ strike, as our faithful chronicler informs, the collaboration between Peter Weir and Andrew Niccol, The Truman Show, went into general release on this day in 1998. Starring Jim Carrey as a man who leads a seemingly normal life, Truman Burbank is unaware that his whole life has been the subject of a long-running tv programme with a cast of supporting actors, who further the plot and product-placement. Once the protagonist’s love interest run counter to the arc-of-narrative, a “Free Truman” campaign is started by activists in the real world and in parallel Truman begins to suspect the nature of this simulation and panopticon. The film’s community of Seahaven was shot in the planned-community of Seaside, Florida with the family residence depicted in the movie the home of state senator Don Gaetz, congressional representative Matt Gaetz, and his step-brother, Palmer Freeman Luckey, entrepreneur and inventor of the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset offered at a price-point for everyone.

Sunday, 28 May 2023

path of totality (10. 774)

Hailed by Isaac Asimov and others as the singular advent of science though some doubts persist to the accuracy of the claims of having forecasted the event in advance and what method was used, the 585 BC solar eclipse over Anatolia predicted by Thales of Miletus (the first philosopher to have broke with the tradition of mythology as a explanation for the state of the Cosmos, used deductive reasoning, proposed navigating by the stars and credited with the maxim “Know Thyself” as well as being a shrewd entrepreneur, having bought up all the olive presses in his archontes ahead of what was a very good harvest) that occurred on this day is a cardinal date used for triangulating other historical events, and, if true, is the earliest instance known of such an advanced vaticination. The announced event happened during a skirmish in the protracted war between the Medes and the Lydians, under the leadership of Cyaxares and Alyattes respectively, at Halys—the river bordering the two kingdoms, with the belligerents taking it as an omen to call a truce, though Miletus had no dog in this fight. Though astronomical knowledge at this point in history was not sufficiently advanced to know that the shadow of the Moon caused eclipses (not an avowed flat-earther, he provisionally believed that the continents floated on an infinite ocean under the dome of the firmament until a better idea came along)—that would come a century later—it is speculated that Miletus had noticed patterns in the periodicity, known to the Babylonians and programmed into the Antikythera Mechanism.

Saturday, 27 May 2023

platonic solids (10. 769)

Via tmn, we are directed to a 1974 installation by collector, curator and conceptual artist Sol LeWitt’s serial exploration of negative and positive space, both flat and realised in three-dimensions, in his one hundred-twenty-two permutations of how a cube could be not closed space. This matrix of deconstruction invites one to reexamine the fundamentals of geometry and perspective that we otherwise might take for granted. More at the links above including a tour of the gallery space hosting these open cubes.

Sunday, 14 May 2023

hey erete (10. 741)

Via thm, we enjoyed exploring this list—some familiar, some forgotten and others new to us—of Ancient Greek terms that should be reintroduced into common-parlance and we’d all experience ฮตแฝฮดฮฑฮนฮผฮฟฮฝฮฏฮฑ (eudaimonia—that is, human flourishing and the highest common good) for re-incorporating these virtues in social-circles. Phronesis (ฯ†ฯฯŒฮฝฮทฯƒแฟฯ‚) as prudence, the practical application of sound judgment and experience and aidos (ฮ‘แผฐฮดฯŽฯ‚)—the antidote to the more commonplace hubris in this goddess of shame, modesty and humility, this personification of a trait, a daughter of the titan Prometheus and was the last to depart Earth at the end of the Golden Age and the middle way to avoid the extremes of pride and timidity. Case in point, the article also includes the etymology and pathology of particularly vexing ailment called homesickness, diagnosed and coined in the seventeenth century by a Swiss medical student to describe the separation anxieties that mercenary countrymen were experiencing (it becoming so grave that a temporary stay was put on cowbells and other sounds that would remind conscripts in foreign lands of home, triggering the condition) from the Homeric trope for nautical homecoming fraught with challenge and temptation, nostos—ฮฝฯŒฯƒฯ„ฮฟฯ‚, from the Odyssey, and giving us the condition of nostalgia. Much more at the links above.

Friday, 12 May 2023

here are the things we percieve (10. 735)

Via Web Curios, we are finding ourselves rather engrossed with this site that glosses classic philosophical arguments in bro language created by Tommy Maranges—author of a like adaptation of Descartes’ Mediations—and quite enjoyed, though one’s tolerance for the tone and didacticness may well vary and hinge on one’s familiarity with the source material, revisiting some of these ponderings presented and broken down (see also) through the accessible and humorous lens of stoner revelation—particularly the mailbag edition on paradoxes and Plato’s annotated Myth of Er and Gottfried Leibniz’ condensed Monadology are worth a read, though not necessarily fit to reprint here. Turtles all the way down, dude.

Tuesday, 18 April 2023

7x7 (10. 682)

born to die: on the common fate of beloved social media platforms—they are heart-breakers

the past is a foreign country: they do things differently there: historian Paul Veyne shows that past is not necessarily precedent 

la fรฉe bruin: a tour of nineteenth century opium dens 

bbc100: John Hoare celebrates the broadcasting corporation’s centenary  

joan does dynasty: a stand-up therapist inserts herself into a soap-opera 

athena: Microsoft introduces an AI chip to step ahead of the field in machine-learning  

sixty-nine percent: CBC called by Twitter as government-funded and embraces the label—see previously

Tuesday, 21 February 2023

das manifest der kommunistischen partei (10. 562)

First published without attribution on this day in 1848 by the Workers’ Educational Association (Kommunistischer Arbeiterbildungsverein) in Bishopsgate Without in London, the twenty-three page pamphlet authored by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels under contract of the Communist League is a systematic summary of class struggle and the estrangement of labour. While envisioning the potential future forms of political economy was beyond the scope of the brief synopsis, the invocation in the ultimate paragraph calling for the “overthrow of all existing social conditions” would go on to spark revolutions across the globe. With the initial revolts in Europe of the spring suppressed, the work did not reemerge until the early 1870s, culminating in the October Revolution in 1917.

Wednesday, 8 February 2023

stochastic parrot (10. 533)

JWZ excerpts from a longer pair of complementary studies on ChatGPT and seeing through those statistical tolerances built into the overtures of a generally unremarkable plain of generative dialogue where with proper minding and limited exposure produce the glancing insight of an accomplished sophist but is otherwise the underlying coursing of conspiracy and misinformation that are the hallmarks of any ploy for attention, manufactured or otherwise. Especially arresting is the examination of the invitation to engage and use it as a partnership, many proponents and some educators and proctors, equating it to bringing calculators into the classroom, as it handily dismantles that comparison since calculators and other tools are made to be reliable and correct, not persuasive. What do you think? Are you a bit disappointed, deflated? There are woefully plenty of tasks where accuracy and objectivity don’t matter—filler, spam, splaining, search engine optimisation none of which seem to be very enlightening or ennobling applications, and money to be made from it but it only makes the internet built for people worse for it and we do ourselves a disservice pretending anyone is seriously reading that boilerplate.

Saturday, 26 November 2022

li’l folks (10. 338)

Born this day in 1922 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Charles Monroe “Sparky” Schultz, cartoonist and creator of the characters who would become the Peanuts comic strip (his uncle gave him the nickname after the horse Spark Plug in a daily comic called Take Barney Google F’rinstance) is regarded as a universal influence, informing and defining the modern medium as a legitimate means of psychological and sociological exploration and commentary.

Sunday, 6 November 2022

7x7 (10. 276)

aeiou—red, green, yellow, purple, blue: the virtuosity of polymath Francis Galton and his 1883 work on synaesthesia—see previously  

toots, blorts and kerflunks: alternate social media network Mastodon grows a pace—via Language Log

wwjd: struggling corporations should look to the Jesuits as models of stability and longevity  

tragedy of the commons: a look ahead to COP27—more here  

momentum i: a 1983 synth compilation for runners by Matt Sullivan—see also  

kant generator: programmer Giacomo Miceli’s Infinite Conversation between interlocutors Werner Herzog and Slavoj ลฝiลพek   

sensory world: crossed-wires result in great art

Friday, 8 July 2022

dual process theory

Via Waxy, we are directed to Neal Agarwal’s latest exercise (see previously) in a series of increasingly preposterous trolley problems and the ethical dilemmas that arise from these situations where intervention is possible. Illustrative of the problems we have with inscrutable algorithms and the opaque artificial intelligence that’s supposed to be able to evaluate such decisions, not only do you get to make the moral call, you can also see how your answers stack up to three-quarters of a million other respondents.