Thursday 29 February 2024

6x6 (11. 388)

365,2422: an explanation of leap years and calendar alternatives 

ladies’ privilege: leap day customs—via Strange Company 

29 february: more on the necessity of quadrennial correction—see previously 

la bougie du sapeur est sans reproche: the satirical French newspaper published only on leap days, making it the most infrequent publications in print, with its next Sunday supplement not out until 2032  

intercalary days: holiday drift and other events that happen every four years  

366: a scheduled agenda and play-list list how one might celebrate the day from the last time we had one—be happy that tomorrow is not 30 February


four years ago: the sacrifice of the village of Elam in Plague Times

eight years ago: a vocabulary lesson, lodges of the Hakka region plus on trial for destruction of precious cultural property

twelve years ago: more quadrennial events

Wednesday 28 February 2024

paleofutures (11. 387)

Via Waxy, we come across a retrospective volume of predictions for the world of 2024 solicited from luminaries and futurists from half-a-century earlier collected by The Saturday Review for its own Golden Anniversary (established in 1924 as compendium of essays and reportage on a wide range of subjects, folding in 1986). A retrospective to better see the way forward, it features hopeful assessments by ecologist Renรฉ Dubos, who popularised the maxim to “think globally, act locally” in his capacity as advisor to the UN and foresaw sounder and smarter environmental policies, the honorific “Madame President” for the United States contrasted by a more sobering view of continued wage-inequality and glass-ceiling, Trans-Atlanticism versus nationalism, and Issac Asimov forecasting that while computer prognostications were not perfect, they would be a requirement for insurance liability purposes and decision-drivers in medical treatment. There are also quite a few boldly wrong and aspirational claims by human rights champion Andrei Sakharov like orbiting power-plants, large scale terraforming and quadruped electric cars that would prance over prairies with minimal impact and didn’t require roads, along with Neil Armstrong’s poignant reflections of decades of continued space exploration and exploitation. On the other hand, Werner von Braun accurately predicted the world wide web, email and teleworking plus their implications. Much more at the links above.


one year ago: assorted links to revisit

two years ago: the Horodecki House of Kyiv, Guernica vandalised (1972) plus the paper art of Charles Young

three years ago: more on the Mountain Dream tarot, the finale of M*A*S*H* (1983), artist Edward Hopper plus redesigning the hypodermic emoji

four years ago: ranking ringed-planet emojis plus hauntingly familiar images from the 1918 influenza pandemic

five years ago: anti-Catholic sentiment and the Lincoln assassination conspiracy, resurfacing a lost urban river plus more links to enjoy

Sunday 25 February 2024

brunswick, bailiwick (11. 381)

After a failed and humiliating attempt to naturalise the then-stateless Adolf Hitler by appointing him to a professorship of the fabricated discipline of “Politics and Organic Sociology” at the state college, rejected by academia for never having finished school and revealing the the subterfuge and subjecting them both to ridicule, the minister for the Interior and Education of Freistaat Braunschweig of the Weimar Republic—created from the former duchy of discontiguous holdings following the revolution of 1918—Nazi Party politician Dietrich Klagges was successful on this day in 1932 of procuring a government posting and citizenship for Hitler as a member of the state’s legation with the Reichsrat (upper house of parliament) in Berlin. This posting, in accordance with design, allowed Hitler to stand as a candidate for the office of president. Although the ascension was quickly and summarily rejected by the Reichskanzler and Klagges was punished subsequently for the public embarrassment with the abolishment of his polity (the only Nazi controlled state within the republic, an act recapitulated by the occupying powers of the Soviet Union and the British, dividing it into East and West Germany) and Klagges reduced to a provencal governor, Hitler nonetheless rose quickly in the ranks while the apologist and disgraced politician enabled him.

land der berge, land am strome (11. 379)

Adopted as the national anthem a few months prior, the official lyrics were announced on this day in 1947, the verses penned by poet Paula von Preradoviฤ‡. With the end of World War II, the country wanted to replace the state anthem, the so called Kernstock-Hymn which substituted the words to Hayden’s “God Save the Kaiser” set to the tune of the “Deutschlandlied” (supplanting the imperial substitute following the Anschluss), performances of both outlawed since the defeat of the Third Reich—soliciting for ideas. Upon hearing of the selection of their mother’s ode to the natural wonders of Austria, Preradoviฤ‡’s son, Otto and Fritz, immediately composed a parody (see above) of “Land of Mountains, oh, Land of Rivers,” to the same rhyme as Land der Erbsen, Land der Bohnen, Land der vier Besatzungzonen… satirising the post-war rationing and austerity and the occupation by the Allied Powers and became a popular version recited in schools.


one year agoArmenia’s radio-telescope plus the transcendental claymation of Art Clokey

two years ago: NFT graffiti

three years ago: a walk through the woods and fields 

four years ago: Rubber Duckie (1970), the dissolution of Prussia (1947), Khrushchev’s secret speech (1956) plus the Fight Between Carnival and Lent

five years ago: assorted links to revisit, a useful Dutch term, 1969 in pictures plus mysterious stream-of-conscience fiction


Monday 19 February 2024

8x8 (11. 364)

moses j robinette: for US Presidents’ Day, researchers find that Lincoln pardoned Biden’s great-great grandfather  

we are a nation in decline, a failing nation: with an incredible lack of empathy or courage, Trump compares the murder of Alexei Navalny to his own legal and political woes—see more  

you never forget your first: the evolution of the holiday that started as a celebration of the birthday of George Washington—see up top

first wives’ club: searching for the likeness of Martha Washington and AI creative chaos

ask not what the drama can do for you, but what you can do for the drama: Real Housewives catchphrases for the American presidents 

stats: scholars access American administrations—Lincoln still number one, with FDR displacing Washington—and Biden ranked in the top fifteen, via Miss Cellania 

non-interventionism: America’s isolationist’s policy on the up-wing—see previviously 

i cannot tell a lie: George Washington’s parents are rather upset he chopped down that cherry tree

aaron burr, sir (11. 363)

Though not exactly a fugitive from justice having been acquitted four times owing to vagaries in constitutional interpretation and the definition of allegiance and insurrection but fleeing from a warrant issued by Thomas Jefferson, the former vice-president of the United States was arrested on this day in 1807 in the now abandoned settlement of Wakefield, Alabama on the bend of the Tombigbee River, spotted by a federal land surveyor, on charges of high-treason. Remanded to nearby Fort Stoddert, Burr was already infamous for his deportment during his final year in office for engaging in a duel with his political rival, former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, fatally wounding the latter but never charged with a crime, despite the illegality of the act, and was en route to Spanish West Florida, seeking new political and entrepreneurial opportunities. Though the extent of his support, domestic and international including ties to Britain, was never firmly established and his designs unclear, Burr (maintaining his innocence throughout) was accused of using his connections to form a breakaway republic in the territory of Texas, some claiming his ambitions extended to Mexico, the entirety of the Louisiana Purchase or the continent, with his backers numbering from fewer than forty individuals to upwards of seven-thousand plantation owners and army officers. The indictment ultimately failed on questions of the definition of an overt act of treason, executive privilege and dependence from the judiciary as well as fabricated, doctored testimony, and Burr went into self-imposed exile to Europe, first with British supporters until expelled for trying to foment revolution in Mexico and then to Napoleon's France where he was similarly rebuffed, before destitute and heavily in debt the disgraced politician returned to New York to practise law, marrying a wealthy socialite widow (divorced four month later for bad business dealings) under an assumed name in order to avoid creditors. The former unincorporated settlement where Burr was apprehended, with no affinity with the novel, other than dint of popularity, was named after the eighteenth century book by Oliver Goldsmith, The Vicar of Wakefield: A Tale, Supposed to be written by Himself—a fictitious memoir.


one year ago: Discordianism, the anticipatory capacity of chatbots plus assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: a memorable All in the Family episode, an AI museum docent, Roxette in China (1995) plus more links to enjoy

three years ago: your daily demon: Amduscias, more links worth the revisit, Winnipeg’s simulated Nazi occupation (1942) plus an update on a nightmare flag

four years ago: naming planets 

five years ago: emoji as admissible evidence, a baroque version of Bad Romance, Brexit illustrations plus IKEA pledges to clean up its act

Sunday 18 February 2024

ั€ะตะฒะพะปัŽั†ั–ั ะณั–ะดะฝะพัั‚ั– (11. 359)

At the end of the Euromaidan protests, a series of demonstrations and civil unrest beginning the previous November in response to the president’s sudden reversal on signing the European Union-Ukraine Association Agreement—instead against the Verkhova Rada choosing to forge closer ties with Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union—and against government corruption and abuse of power, the Revolution of Dignity began on this day in Kyiv in 2014 with violent clashes between authorities and the opposition. Five days of rallying resulted in the ousting of Viktor Yanukovich and the restoration of the amendments to the constitution put in place a decade earlier (won during the Orange Revolution, installing a parliamentary system that put checks on the office of the presidency). Having fled the city for Kharkiv, a majority of the rada voted to remove Yanukovych from office on 22 February and free political prisoners, and in absentia, Yanukovych appealed to Russia for help in this “coup” and reinstall him. Within a few days, Russia deployed peacekeeping troops to Crimea, occupying the peninsula and eventually annexing it and stoking secession in regions in the south and east of the country.


one year ago: the King Biscuit Flour Hour (1973), assorted links to revisit using the seas to pull carbon from the air

two years ago: more links to enjoy, a collection of dynamic historical maps plus more time-slice photography

three years ago: a tour of North Korea, ditches and retaining walls plus therblig units

four years ago: corporate Christian America, the art collective Inges Idee plus RIP Andrew Weatherall

five years ago: a stellar eclipse, more official state crap, Minnie Pearl, Petri dish lamps plus the Know-Nothing’s first political convention

Thursday 15 February 2024

opus 314 (11. 352)

Premiering on this day in 1867 with a performance of the Vienna Men’s Choral Association, the waltz by Johann Stauss II was originally met with a rather tepid response from the audience but has since become one of the most enduring compositions in the classical repertoire and an unofficial anthem for Austria—the national hymn “Land der Berge, Land am Strome” a tune by Mozart. The lyrics were added after the orchestral part was finished about a year earlier by the Mรคnnergesang-Verein’s resident poet Joseph Weyl as a carnival song, with eleven satirical verses lightly lampooning the country’s loss in the recent Austro-Prussian War:

Weit vom Schwarzwald her
eilst du hin zum Meer,
spendest Segen
ostwรคrts geht dein Lauf,
nimmst viel Brรผder auf:
Bild der Einigkeit
fรผr alle Zeit!
Alte Burgen seh’n
nieder von den Hรถh’n,
grรผssen gerne
dich von ferne
und der Berge Kranz,
hell vom Morgenglanz,
spiegelt sich in deiner Wellen Tanz

Prevalent in popular culture, in Austria, it is played at midnight on New Year’s as well as being the traditional sign-off tune for the end of the broadcasting day, a coda sung to Mexican birthday gatherings as “Queremos pastel, pastel, pastel” to serve the cake and played during the 1970s and 1980s over the PA systems of Chinese domestic flights as reassurance to passengers on landing. Die Donau so blau, so blau.


one year ago: Amerika, a 1987 mini-series 

two years ago: assorted links to revisit plus the fist demonstration of closed-captioning (1972)

three years ago: Decimalisation Day (1971) plus another Roman holiday

four years ago: harnessing the power of falling rain, Japanese business jargon plus a trip to castle ruin Henneberg

five years ago: Trump sends troops to the Mexican border plus introducing OpenAI

Saturday 10 February 2024

loong (11. 339)

This day marks the transition from the Year of the Water Rabbit to the Wood Dragon, a sixty year cycle of attributes within the twelve year shengxiao, “born resembling,” astrological procession. Also a Poseidon-like deity with each self-respecting body of water ruled by a Dragon King, the one zodiacal sign (reckoned by following the orbit of Jupiter, ๆญฒๆ˜Ÿ, the Year Star, through the sections, houses of the heavens) without a real-world counterpart (temporarily replaced in China by the Giant Panda during the Cultural Revolution but returned shortly due to popular demand) considered an especially auspicious one and has an analogue in the Western sign Scorpio. Though considered lucky for those born during these years, from a prognostic perspective, it is difficult to read except as progress with a price, a time of energy and upheaval tempered to an extent by wood (ๆœจ, wuxing) having the characteristics of endurance and flexibility.

Saturday 27 January 2024

deo devota (11. 297)

Likely named Julia rather than the epithet “devoted to God” and occasionally conflated with the similar hagiographies of Saint Reparata and Torpes of Pisa, the patron saint of Monaco and Corsica is venerated on this day on the occasion of her martyrdom during the Diocletian persecutions. The visiting prefect demanded Devota submit to the imperial cult and upon her refusal, steadfast in her faith, was tortured and stoned to death. The Christian community saved her body and put it on a boat bound for Africa—certain to receive a proper burial there—the vessel, beset by a storm at sea, landed on the beach of Les Gaumates, Port-Hercule in present day Monte Carlo. According to tradition, flowers are said to bloom before their season on this day and the Monegasque royal family continue to participate in a special mass and pray to her relics for safety and intercession.

Friday 26 January 2024

paula of rome (11. 295)

Born into one of the richest and most powerful senatorial families, gens Furii—claiming descent from legendary Mycenaean king Agamemnon—and as recorded by later companion St Jerome, lived a life of luxury and intellectual pursuits, but when widowed at the age of thirty-two, Paula turned her interest towards religion and pilgrimage. While touring the Holy Land, Paula visited monastic communities and eventually settled in Bethlehem and established a spiritual retreat of her own—hostel for travellers connected to a monastery for men and a convent for women. Regarded as the first nun, abbess and Desert Mother, and re-examined as not just a patron but also a co-contributor to Jerome’s scholarship and translations, Paula is venerated on this day on the occasion of her death in the year 404, fรชted as well by the Anglican Communion (along with her daughter Eustochium) on 28 September.

Tuesday 23 January 2024

challenger deep (11. 289)

Damn Interesting’s Allan Bellows invites us to accompany the on-going adventures of the Swiss-Family Piccard (see previously also here), who on this day in 1960 reached the ocean floor in the deepest part of the Mariana Trench aboard the bathyscaphe Trieste, designed by father Auguste and co-piloted by son Jacques—marking the first time a vessel, crewed or uncrewed, dove to such extremes, garnering insights in this never before seen environment. Much more at the links above.


one year ago: Stationtostation (1976) plus assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: an Underground inspired uniform, Charles Lindbergh testifies before the US Congress (1941), artist Ger van Elk plus more on Wordle

three years ago: Earthrise, Bounty Day on Pitcairn, Duke Ellington at Carnegie Hall, the abominable mystery of flowers plus more links to enjoy

four years ago: hell for pendants

five year ago: the Ten Year Challenge for the environment, train-delays knitted, TRON minus the special effects plus artist Annie Wang

Friday 19 January 2024

kฤla (11. 280)

Via ibฤซdem, we enjoyed contemplating this display that shows the passage of different units of time side-by-side advancing relative to the observer. Named for the Jain concept of that which brings forth change (also meaning death), the second is the smallest practical measurement, made up of countless and indivisible samaya—like Planck time though the zeptosecond or one sextillionth of a second is the smallest fragment of time that can be reliably calibrated—and itself representing about forty-eight seconds and the kลŸaแน‡a about forty-eight minutes. Aside from the more familiar units and the Hindu-Sanskrit tradition of describing the cosmological cycle, from microseconds to trillions of years, there’s also the milliday, invented by the Swatch company as one-thousandth part of a day or a .beat, the lustrum to mark the five-year interval between Roman censuses, the indiction for the fifteen-year requirement for tax assessments in the Empire, a ghurry, the time it took a water-clock to empty, gauged to divide the day into sixty intervals or rather twenty-four minutes and the chelek (ื—ืœืง) one eighteenth of minute from the Babylonian for one degree of celestial rotation and a momentum, a medieval reckoning of the hours by the sun-dial, about forty moments for each twelve-hour solar day—as well as more informal but countable units.

Friday 12 January 2024

erfundene mittelalter (11. 262)

Via Strange Company, we find ourselves directed to a real rabbit-hole of a conspiracy theory wrapped in the guise—possibly earnest and wholly without cause (like the counterfeit Donation of Constantine)—of scholarship articulated by academician Heribert Illig in 1991 known as the Phantom Time Theory, positing that events occurring in a three-century span from 614 to 911 were fabricated, advancing the Anno Domino dating system ahead in order to place the rule of either Pope Sylvester II, Holy Roman Emperor Otto III (plus legitimising his claim to the throne) or Byzantine emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus in power during the millennial of the death of Christ and ruling at the moment of the return of Jesus. Otto and the Pope made it but not Eastern emperor.  The fact that many manuscripts from the time are acknowledged copies of lost originals and including forgeries (see also), the preponderance of Romanesque architecture present after the influence should have abated and the introduction of the Gregorian calendar, adopted in phases, did not mathematically correct its predecessor (the reform was never intent on correcting and revising the the length of the year back all the way to its inception in 45 BC but rather to its state during the Council of Nicaea—covering this supposed three century discrepancy—when tying the date of Easter to the vernal equinox) and a fact that an alliance between the above three rulers, each preserving his magesteria, was likely, led Illig to conclude that personages and events like Charlemagne and his dynasty (for whom Otto had specious claim as no Caroligian, Frankish heir) led Illig to conclude that this period of history was an elaborate fraud, with retrograde, retroactive chronicles created and a populace willing as well to spring forward in time to be present for the Second Coming, though later the loss of a couple of weeks (or an hour) was seen to draw popular ire.  The alliance amongst these three potentates was strong enough, the theory suggests, to collaborate to create a revised timeline, though the idea is refuted as pseudoscience by medievalists, archaeological evidence, dendrochronology and of course recorded histories outside of western Europe.

Sunday 7 January 2024

nine times nine to dispel the cold (11. 252)

In northern parts of China, where the winter months can seem particularly long and bleak, a folk-reckoning of the time until spring’s arrival emerged in ancient times called “Counting the Nine” (shujiu, ๆ•ธไน) and is still observed. Beginning on the solstice, the season is divided into nine intervals of nine days each, this form of almanac or Advent calendar (the number nine chosen as a seasonally accurate number and concept of renewal or reset as it the last digit before leaping to a new exponent) was not only important to farmers and herders for anticipating the planting season and return of growth, they also were a welcome distraction (eighty-one days is a long time) that taught numeracy and literacy—families devising activity posters, like with plum blossoms, mnemonics or other early indicators in the environment, to countdown the days.

Saturday 6 January 2024

8x8 (11. 249)

the gift of the magi: the 1952 classic adapted from the O Henry short story 

ed people: Belgian dancer travels the world asking others to teach him their favourite moves—via Waxy

diminishing returns: the Golden Age of solar eclipses is receding  

all i know about magnet is this, give me a glass of water, let me drop it on the magnets, that’s the end of magnets: Trump rally in Iowa  

amicus brief: US Supreme Court agrees to review a ruling by a lower court that disqualified Donald Trump for his participation in the insurrection, could have implications for Maine’s ban

kodachrome: artist Jessica Brill invokes nostalgia by painting found photographs  

my fellow peripatetics: research confirms the therapeutic value of walking 

 kinder der berge: Liechtenstein’s singular domestic feature film—via Strange Company

mitaarfik (11. 248)

Via Strange Company just in time for Three Kings Day (Kunngit Pingasut Ulluat), the apparitions usually first appearing on the Eve of Epiphany and continuing through the holiday marking the end of Christmastide, we are introduced to the terrifying figure of the Mitaartut a silent, masked mummer that sneaks up on people in the dark Greenlandic night. As with other syncretic traditions like that of Krampus and related rites, the coming of the Mitaarfik mixes indigenous customs and trappings like the harpoon and seal-skins with Christian ceremony and is adaptable to contemporary interpretation. Much more at Atlas Obscura at the link above.

Friday 5 January 2024

9x9 (11. 243)

sine cure: many jobs in the tech sector are busy work and inducements to stymie the competition—via the New Shelton wet/dry  

smooth operator: one-hundred eighty songs and other cultural touchstones turning forty this year 

shake your hips, puppet legs: a David Byrne dance tutorial—via Nag on the Lake  

crackberry: a physical keyboard attachment for one’s smart phone  

the rise and fall of ziggy stardust: the chance encounter with Vince Taylor, the inspiration for the David Bowie persona 

 long live friendship: the Cantonese version of Auld Lang Syne (see previously) performed at the handover ceremony of Hong Kong in 1997  

the (disco) sound of music: a Meco-like dance rendition of the classic tracks (see previously) from Sarah Brightman  

pole position: the Vectrex, the 1982 revolutionary but mostly forgotten video game console, gets a second look 

mobile aloha: an off-the-shelf, DIY robot that can perform complex tasks and chores—via Waxy


one year ago: US mid-term elections

two years ago: two Star Wars adjacent films set in 2022Twelfth Night plus building the Golden Gate Bridge

three years ago: Waiting for Godot, Moonstone plus an unusual patent-filing

four years ago: puffy planets, the asteroid Eris, mobile car-chargers plus Nazi name mandates

five years ago: notes on Dante plus animal sounds in other languages

Wednesday 3 January 2024

8x8 (11. 239)

the year of the dragon: Japanese designer New Year’s cards for 2024—see previously  

virdiphyta: an exploration of the interrelatedness of the Plant Kingdom  

in memoriam: more celebrity obituaries you might have missed  

paku paku: one-dimensional PacMan—see also—via Waxy  

๐ŸŒ: the Moon-Making-Side-Eyes emoji has entered the stock market and had its day in court—see previously—via Slashdot 

shoegazing: TikTok revitalises the indie subgenre—via tmn  

on to other adventures: Tom Scott bids his viewers farewell after a decade of educational videos—with a long explanatory walk-and-talk   

trace loops: hypnotic animation from layered paper


one year ago: a comprehensive listing of North American supermarket chain, past and present

two years ago: Saint Daniel plus Monty Python in German

three years ago: the Seditious Dozen, the Fraktur-Antiqua Dispute, Oregon Trail plus Martin Luther excommunicated

four years ago: (You’ve got) the Power, banana republics, more dead malls, Trump’s Middle East policy plus Japanese New Years cards

five years ago: China’s lunar mission plus the introduction bitcoin (2009)

Monday 1 January 2024

spoiler alert (11. 235)

Turning our attention to past movies set in the then future of our present (hopefully not prophetic), the first round goes to the 1975 darkly, problematically comedic post-apocalyptic adaptation of the Harlan Ellison novella of the same name. A teenager portrayed by Don Johnson (Miami Vice) scavenges through the wastelands of the US southwest following a nuclear war accompanied by his telepathic dog (voiced by Tim McIntire). Orphaned at an early age with no formal education or socialisation, the adolescent is focused on survival, interested solely in food and sex—conquests secured with the aid of his canine companion in exchange for meals as the genetic modifications that bestowed super-intelligence leaves him incapable of tasks like hunting. After numerous run-ins with bandits, mutants and rogue androids, the teenager is eventually recruited by an aristocratic scout of a subterranean colony as a stud to help with low viable breeding population. A preview and links to the whole movie available at Weird Universe above.  Most other selections seemed to be based in 2024 for purely arbitrary reasons and only two to three years behind when they were produced—with the exception of the 1999 Josef Rusnak and Roland Emmerich vehicle that was overshadowed by the similarly themed Matrix and was a victim to the strange echo-phenomena of “twin films”that sometimes happens in Hollywood (due to screenplay shopping and submission to multiple studios, industrial secrecy and espionage), like the asteroid flicks Armageddon and Deep Impact, Dante’s Peak and Volcano, 1981’s The Howling, Wolfen and An American Werewolf in London, Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down, or on stage Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar. A multibillion dollar computer company in then present-day Los Angeles is experimenting with a virtual reality simulation of the city in 1937 populated by individuals unaware that they are part of a program. Entering the simulation in order to solve the mysterious death of the company CEO, the protagonist and heir to the enterprise (and a prime suspect) finds clues that lead to the revelation that thousands of parallel virtual worlds exist but there is only one reality whose inhabitants have developed a virtual world of their own, but having a pocket metaverse within another does not necessarily result in privilege or insight. The protagonist disconnects and emerges into reality advanced a quarter of a century.