Thursday 21 December 2023

reply-all (11. 202)

On this day in 1989, US vice-president James Danforth Quayle dispatched some thirty-thousand auto-pen (a machines usually reserved for authorising signatures or autographs and not without controversy) Christmas missives to family, friends and backers with the word “beacon” misspelt as “beakon.” Quite notably, Quayle’s team did not apparently use this as a learning opportunity to prevent later grammatical gaffes.

Wednesday 11 October 2023

9x9 (11. 052)

bennu: scientist reveal recovered sample of primordial dust from an asteroid (see previously) may help us better understand the formation of the Solar System 

mansions, pensions: revisiting the dwellings of Leonora Carrington (previously) and how they informed her art  

upscale: Adobe to introduce an AI-powered extension to improve the quality, loopiness of legacy, low-resolution GIFs 

pimeyes: the reverse image search technology that can retrace one’s digital detritus  

decide which elvis is king: the consequential public debate over a commemorative US postage stamp  

the golden horseshoe: UK’s Natural History Museum unveils the winners of Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition—via Nag on the Lake 

beasts: Nigel Kneale’s 1976 horror anthology has a book companion to the series  

tower to cockpit: listen live to airport radio transmissions around the world—via the new shelton wet/dry  

panspermia: a thought-provoking conjecture about alien life emerging with the Big Bang

Sunday 19 March 2023

vereinte dienstleistungswerkschaft (10. 623)

Established on this day in 2001 as a merger of the congresses of five individual trade unions—with a membership of around two million workers, including postal, banking, insurance, health, education, public service, media and transportation sector employees, Verdi represents the professional interests of its members and successfully lobbies—through political clout, collective bargaining and strike actions—for better compensation and improved working conditions.

Tuesday 28 February 2023

7x7 (10. 578)

for love of the glove: a revival of the unauthorised musical biography about the King of Pop  

frogmorton house: a tiny home built for a resident amphibian  

davy and goliath: smaller AIs recom-mendations on how to hack a more dominant one—see previously from AI Weirdness  

girl with the pearl earring: whilst the original is on loan as part of a comprehensive Vermeer exhibition, the Mauitshuis is displaying a set of reinterpretations—see previously  

steak & ale: the Midcentury Medieval aesthetic—via Messy Nessy Chic 

diamonds are forever: tiny spherical chambers could help harness the power of the sun—see also  

zone improvement plan: more on the Swinging Six and Mister Zip—via Weird Universe

Saturday 18 February 2023

8x8 (10. 555)

konekon no rakugaki: an imaginative 1957 cartoon from the studios that would become Toei Animation  

the riddle of today: Nelson Riddle’s “Sunshine Superman” and other tracks 

the six-triple-eight: the WWII all Black, all female postal battalion—via Strange Company  

the remorse of professor panebianco: a selection of short fiction one can read from its annals for the centenary (today) of Weird Tales—see previously  

ai mirror test: misattributing software for sentience to review before exploring this two-hour conversation with a robot interlocutor—via Waxy  

80s cold war techno thriller: the trailer for a Tetris movie—see previously, see also  

secondhand songs: an exploration of original versions upstaged by later covers—via the Awesomer  

my green crocodile: a 1966 stop-motion Soyuzmultfilm

Tuesday 6 December 2022

itsenรคisyyspรคivรค (10. 364)

Celebrated as a national holiday, on this day in 1917 the Finnish Declaration of Independence was adopted by the country’s parliament (eduskunta), simultaneously severing its autonomy within Imperial Russia as a Grand Principality and forming a independent republic, prompted the Bolshevik Revolution, in turn caused by hardships experienced during World War I, and the subsequent abdication of Czar Nicholas II, who held the title of Grand Prince, which nullified the personal union between the two territories. Russian revolutionaries acknowledging a general right to self-determination—including the right of secession ”for the peoples of Russia”—the People’s Commissars, members including Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin, approved of Finland’s decision and recognised its status by late December and establishing diplomatic relations by January 1918.

saorstรกt รฉireann (10. 363)

Established on this day in 1922 as a dominion of the British Empire (equivalent to the status of Canada) one year to the day after the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty that ended the war for independence, the Irish Free State comprised twenty-six counties, with the remaining six choosing to opt out of the framework—forming the constituency of Northern Ireland. Described by statesman and revolutionary Michael Collins as affording the “freedom to achieve freedom” with the possibility of an wholly independent republic not entertained within the terms of settlement, Ireland was still accorded more liberties and self-determination in legislation than it had had for the past four centuries. The Free State came to an end in 1937 with a constitutional referendum that drafted a wholly new fundamental law that informs and asserts its present sovereignty as Ireland (ร‰ire) and since 1949 officially as the Republic of Ireland.

Monday 21 November 2022

turnverein (10. 323)

As a socio-political movement meant to promote German culture, liberal politics as well as physical fitness, the gymnastic club movement, the Turners, was founded in the early nineteenth century by Turnvater Friedrich Ludwig Jahn (see also) as a way to also introduce conversation and action for statehood at a time when the constituent states were under occupation by Napoleon and ultimately suppressed and exported with immigration to the United States in the aftermath of the failed European revolutions of 1848. One of the largest associations, the Cincinnati Turnverein, was founded on this day in the same year—a centenary stamp was issued by the US Postal Service, the members of the Bund fighting for the North (Union) during the American Civil War and acted as bodyguards for Abraham Lincoln and through the turn of the century an important and influential civic organisation. Despite being a wholly domestic institution having little to do with German roots or contemporary geopolitics, Turners’ clubs were regarded with suspicion during the World Wars and active groups dwindled from the thousands to just a few dozen which still host events today.

Tuesday 1 November 2022

schwarze einser (10. 260)

Nine years after the introduction of the Penny Black in England, the first postage stamp (Briefmarke) was issued by the Kingdom of Bavaria on this day in 1849, commonly referred to as the “Black One.” This lowest denomination stamp, complete with security features to protect against counterfeiting (the name of the designer engraver Johann Peter Haseney as well as the printshop of Seitz and Weiss of the University of Mรผnchen hidden in the background flourishes but was forged not some much during circulation but afterwards in philately circles), was withdrawn from sales counters two years later as it was difficult with black on black ink to determine if it had been cancelled but was still valid for franking purposes through 1864. A kreuzer (Xr.) was worth four pfennigs (₰) before the introduction of the standard Goldmark.

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 27 September 2022

8x8 (10. 174)

on pointe: an Australian ballet company recites an alphabet of foot poses  

detour: experts urge adding a Venus-flyby to first crewed mission to Mars  

suaviter in modo, fortiter in re: the Royal Mail’s Investigative Branch is the oldest recognized crime fighting organisation in the world—via Messy Nessy Chic  

puffling: with blรกsa Icelanders help to reset sea bird chicks internal compass  

bisexual lighting: the story of a strange picture and other Wikipedia articles in need of an illustration—via Super Punch  

only you could be so bold: whilst Putin invades Ukraine, a studio in Kyiv is creating the voice of Darth Vader

asteroid! coming in from the void: ripped from the headlines 

tiptoe: performer dazzles with their bottle-walking routine

Monday 12 September 2022

ccc (10. 126)

Founded on this day in the offices of the West Berlin newspaper Die Tageszeigtung (TAZ) by journalist and information security advocate Wau Holland in 1981, Chaos Computer Club is Europe’s largest association of white-hat hackers was established with the mandate to champion freedom of information worldwide, transparency in government and business practices and universal access to digital information. Through its hacktivism and penetration-testing, it has exposed several weaknesses and structural shortcomings that undermine privacy and user rights and it often deferred to as an expert witness for German and EU legislation and court filings, informing policy and openly criticizing decisions that fail to redress concerns for public-welfare. Their activities rose to prominence first in 1984 when exposing the security flaws of teletext (Bildschirmtext, see also here and here), arranging a large transfer of funds from a bank to the club’s account. More recently, they demonstrated that inherent insecurity of biometrics by obtaining and publishing the fingerprints of the Interior Minister (lifted off of a water glass) in 2008. The group hosts the annual Chaos Communication Congress, originally hosted in Hamburg but since 2017 at the Leipzig Trade Fair Grounds (Leipzigermesse) in addition to retreats, camps and workshops to supplement its media outreach. The pictured flag (Pesthรถrnchen, Datenpirat—a variant on the federal postal service logo, indicting their careless custody of customer data) is from a local chapter.

Friday 12 August 2022

7x7 (10. 055)

zone improvement plan: the Swinging Six ensemble sing the praises of the ZIP code (1967)—see also  

unsealed warrant: FBI recovered multiple boxes of top secret and classified documents from the Trump residence during Monday’s search  

coo-coo for cookie crisp: recreating vintage breakfast cereal with machine learning—see previously  

mulder & scully: full script of an unmade episode of the X-Files—via Super Punch  

that old black magic that you weave so well: Clavis Inferni (The Key of Hell), an illustrated spell book from 1775 

retrofit: more on the noir aesthetic (more here and here) of vintage automobiles converted in electric vehicles 

 like & subscribe: the long and short history of the newsletter—both print and digital

Thursday 2 June 2022

7x7

phillumeny: venerable Japanese matchbox manufacturer shuttering after almost a century 

fpoty: Pink Lady’s finalist gallery of superlative food photographs in its annual competition—via Everlasting Blรถrt  

posidonia australis: researchers determine that a giant patch of ribbon weed in Shark Bay Australia a

singular, ancient and expansive plant 

shadow gradient: expanding hole optical illusion is a touch trypophobic—via Boing Boing  

metamorphosis: late fifteenth century ecologist and artist Maria Sibylla Merian who was among the first naturalist to closely observe insects and understand their life cycles 

 casein chipping: more on cheese heists and ways to stop them 

 philately: a travelogue of postage stamps of imaginary places—see also

Thursday 28 April 2022

7x7

elizabeth tower: a tour inside of Big Ben—see previously  

the nine octave harp of the universe: outside scientist Walter Russell—for whom Nikola Telsa said the world was unprepared  

weblog: a nodal map of some of the blogosphere—via Things Magazine  

quilting bee: everyday signage as fabric mosaics by Jeffrey Sincich  

the panic office: fantasy arcade game casings

๐Ÿฃ: a gallery of of beautiful 1920s Japanese postcards   

dangerous intersection: decades of traffic collisions and other corner happenings captured by a young photographer (see also)

Tuesday 26 April 2022

ั„ั–ะปะฐั‚ะตะปั–́ั

A couple weeks after members of the public queued to purchase postage stamps commemorating the defenders of Snake Island and Roman Hrybov defiantly telling off “Russian Warship,” the Mockva (originally built in 1979 in a Ukrainian shipyard for the Soviet navy as the Slava—Glory), the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet now sunk, Ukrposhta announces it will be issuing a new stamp, from eleven year-old illustrator Sophia Kravchuk, dedicated to the memory of the largest airplane in the world, the Mriya, destroyed by the Russians during the opening salvos of the invasion.

Friday 1 April 2022

w1a

We quite enjoyed learning about the somewhat inscrutable (to an outsider) rationale and reason behind the postcodes of London in this special exhibition on the Victorian origins of the assignments, how a WWII-era code-breaking computer facilitated sorting technology and what one’s address means in terms of signifiers internally and externally. To promote the adoption and accurate use of postcodes from the late 1950s onwards, the Royal Mail had a mascot, like Mister Zip across the Pond.

Thursday 3 February 2022

7x7

1:12: a 1983 architectural magazine’s call for dollhouses  

way-finder: a friendly reminder about the most important app ever made 

i can’t hear you—i’m wearing a towel: dated New Yorker cartoons whose punchline has become a depiction of the everyday—via Waxy  

fisheye lens: a floating exhibit platform showcases Norwegian aquaculture practises 

philately: a brilliant abecedarium (see previously) of vintage postage stamps from around the world  

tensor strength: researchers engineer new material that can absorb and release enormous amounts of energy—like super-charged rubber band, via Slashdot  

the vault of contemporary art: a collection of architectural sketches and schematics from a Things Magazine omnibus post on the subject

Sunday 16 January 2022

on-looker

Via Web Curios, we quite enjoyed this scenic if not a bit haunting selection of vintage postcards collected by Flickr artist Swellmap in an album of people staring off into the distance. The subject always has their backs to the camera and usual wear red, like some unfortunate Star Trek ensign about to meet their fate and forward the plot.

Saturday 25 December 2021

a ‘savage stenographic mystery’

Reminiscent of another challenge recently recalled involving shorthand and its devotees, we learn courtesy of Strange Company that not only did author Charles Dickens make an early living as a court-recorder using the brachygraphic system of Thomas Gurney (trained as a clockmaker and developed his shorthand out of a fascination with astrological symbols, realised that there was little financially to be gained from scribbling and sensibly returned to the horological industry) and continued to use it for personal correspondents and manuscript (supplementing the character-set with glyphs of his own invention), there are moreover writings of the studied and celebrated novelist yet to be deciphered. There’s an appeal with an honorarium attached for decoding a passage in a text known as the Tavistock Letter and call for help in general in completing the canon.