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

Saturday 13 July 2024

connoquenessing township (11. 689)

During a campaign rally held at a parade ground near Butler, Pennsylvania, a would-be assassin perched on a rooftop outside the heavily secured (the fifty thousand attendees were subject to a screening process for weapons and other prohibited items in a queue that lasted up to five hours prior to the event) venue shot at the dais and grazed candidate Trump’s right ear, killing one by-stander and critically injuring two others. Secret service agents killed the shooter. Trump, discharged from a nearby hospital, proceeded to his next rally in New Jersey and reiterated that the Republican National Convention will begin as scheduled next week, to formally nominate him for the GOP ballot.  Despite Trump’s openness and advocacy for extraordinary measures, the international community is condemning political violence.

Sunday 7 July 2024

7x7 (11. 668)

zungenbrecher: revisiting the topic of German tongue-twisters whose recitation challenges are also trending on the socials—via Language Hat  

nuts and bolts: hyperrealistic pencil-drawings of metallic objects by Kohei Ohmori  

heraclea sintica: a near-complete statue of Hermes discovered whilst excavating a Roman sewer in southwest Bulgaria 

murder by contract: Poseidon’s Underworld reviews the 1958, low-budget Vince Edwards vehicle  

ovocipede: a personal mobility vehicle conceived by Salvador Dalรญ  

game over: a stop-motion animation re-creates classic arcade game play with food and candy  

dawn chorus: explore morning birdsong from around the globe—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links (lots more to see there)


one year ago: the first summer study abroad programme (plus synchronoptica

seven years ago: Trump and the press, more on still-lives plus superlative drone photography

eight years ago: the Iraq Inquiry

nine years ago: the taxonomy of Jorge Luis Borge plus assorted links to revisit

ten years ago: advertising hoardings that serve as shelters plus ISIS’ wanton destruction of cultural treasure

Wednesday 19 June 2024

orthostat (11. 640)

A welcome distraction, apparently self-propagating like crop-circles, during the height of the pandemic in 2020 has returned, we learn via Damn Interesting, in a mirrored format in a mysterious monolith spotted in the desert of the state of Nevada in the American southwest. Authorities were similarly puzzled after encountering the original and we had forgotten how copies started cropping up shortly thereafter, with ones appearing on the Isle of Wight, Wales, Romania and California. Given the previous viral fascination, we wonder how much we’ve evolved from those apes at the beginning of 2001.

Monday 17 June 2024

white ford bronco suv (11. 635)

Their murdered bodies discovered shortly after midnight on the thirteenth, OJ Simpson was identified immediately as a person of interest in the stabbings of Simpson’s girlfriend Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman in the courtyards of Brown’s condominium complex in the Brentwood neighbourhood of Los Angeles, in the same community as Simpson’s mansion. Arranged through his attorneys, Simpson had agreed to turn himself into the authorities on this day in 1994 for questioning, but failing to appear as scheduled, Simpson was spotted in the passenger seat of a vehicle traveling the 405 intercity freeway, drove and belonging to a friend and former team-mate. A low-speed police chase ensued, pursuers cautious as reportedly Simpson was threatening to shoot himself, with the spectacle shown live on virtually every television station and tens of thousands of spectators gathering on the shoulders to watch the action. Simpson surrendered from his driveway.

Tuesday 28 May 2024

cain’s jawbone (11. 587)

Writing under the nom-de-plum Torquemada, poet, translator and advocate of cryptic crosswords Edward Powys Mathers’ 1934 premiered his epic murder mystery puzzle book (see also)—the title like his inquisitor pen-name a reference to the biblical story of the first fratricide—which consisted of a hundred pages (out of order) of narrative and to be solved must be rearranged as well as naming the murderers and victims, from a dense account of filled with contemporary references, poetic quotations and other word games. Republished in 2019, offering a cash prize as with the first edition (£25 originally shared among two readers and £1000 for five years ago, incidentally the equivalent of about £15 in 1934), the beguiling and vexing exercise in detective work probably would have remained unsolved had it not coincided with pandemic lockdown and sleuths of all stripes finding themselves with the luxury of time for such commitments. Much more from the Allusionist below.

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one year ago: assorted links worth revisiting, the Group of Seven (1983), John Hubley’s Moonbird plus predicting solar eclipses

two years ago: more links to enjoy plus seemingly anachronistic names

three years ago: even more links to revisit, the Chronicle of Georgia plus a primer in conchology

four years ago: a possible viral force-field, Blessed Margaret Pole, Studio Ghibli plus the original Monolith for 2001

five years ago: a visit to Burg Stolpen

Monday 20 May 2024

i’m feeling lucky (11. 568)

Well before the default search engine began adding AI overviews to its results, users expressed their frustration and rebellion by adding a /r to their query to solicit some community juried results from Redditors less biased towards optimisation and more geared towards what people drove through discussion. Whilst rankings on any platform have never been free from a certain tilt that may create unwanted obstacles—or produce the desired outcome—this sort of copilot mode be default risks the user blaming, shooting the messenger (see previously) for what’s served up through the enhanced algorithm. Although Google chose to showcase its latest AI-focused upgrade on its biggest forum, the alternative filter, emulator of familiar web-caches reaching back a decade before SEO and general bot buttinskis was announced quietly by a liaison on a competing site. Sans ads, knowledge panels and scraping metadata from websites—but with tradeoffs—the parameter and suffix udm=14 brings one back to the unadulterated web to an extent that’s probably more geared to utility rather than simply nostalgia. More from Tedium at the link above and here is a website that automates it for your browser of choice.

Tuesday 7 May 2024

rabbithole (11. 545)

Via Mx Tynehorne’s Cabinet of Curiosities (previously), we found ourselves drawn into a web of unsolved, enduring mysteries, fringe and pseudoscience theories, cryptozoology, and urban, internet legends with this extensive and growing list of obscure phenomena from Iceberg Charts. Of course the trajectory from hesitancy, to skepticism to contrarian and conspiratorial thinking can be a slippery slope and most of the cited examples are tempered with a dose of rebuttal and academic remediation and many catalogued are harmless fun. Among the newer links, we found an enticing selection of alternative histories (see previously) plus a new one in the form of the Roman Senate’s capital condemnation of a poet, grammarian and plebeian tribune of the Late Republic called Quintus Valerius Soranus. A contemporary and correspondent of Cicero and credited with the intention of the reading aid in the form of a table of contents, Soranus was put to death by crucifixion under the dictatorship of Sulla for ostensibly, publicly revealing the arcane and sacred name of Rome. Though unclear the manner of the publication, perhaps in a poem’s acrostic—or whether this was a political pretext to rid themselves of a troublesome colleague—such evocatio was considered a grave taboo and never mentioned outside of exclusive, secret ceremonies as divulging the name was calling forth the civic, tutelary deity, which if known by Rome’s enemies could cause the protector god to abandon and defect. No one knows if the city truly had such a classified name or what it was—possibly after the elder goddess called Angeron—and the popular but possibly creatively incorrect that it was what Rome spelt backwards spelt was inspired by a dual temple built by Hadrian to the city and Venus with altars back to back and hence the ROMA-AMOR inversion.

Wednesday 27 March 2024

the usual suspects (11. 452)

After years of obscuring police line-ups in creative and comical (to some) fashions, one department will comply with a request from a toy company to respectfully stop using its image to hide the faces of potential law-breakers in its social media posts. Certain authorities had been in the habit of protecting the identity of suspects for non-violent crimes in case they were exonerated and not to expose them to public shaming—the stocks—but all began to comply once legislation was passed to protect the identities of all until proven guilty. We’re not sure why such a blotter needed to be circulated in the first place, unless looking for more witnesses or issuing an all points bulletin. Mugshots are also removed after a fortnight. In any case, no more minifigs.


one year ago: The Leopard (1963) plus Everything is a Remix

two years ago: Starlight Express plus Let America Be America Again

three years ago: a cargo freighter blocks the Suez Canal, Moby Dick by Matt Kish, statehood for Washington, DC plus the Tenerife Airport Disaster (1977)

four years ago: the etymology of a snack cracker, Typhoid Mary, vintage bathrooms, an Oscar boycott (1973) plus job losses soar due to the pandemic

five years ago: Japan becomes less vegetarian (1872), driving home through the Rhรถn plus The Disorder of Things

Tuesday 30 January 2024

8x8 (11. 307)

1,44mb: some Japanese ministries are phasing out the requirement of submitting official documents on physical media 

forensic linguistics: language experts and crime-solving 

jurassic lark: Poseidon’s Underworld recaps the 1960 cinematic experience Dinosaurs!  

painting with plasticine: Olive Harbutt, daughter of the medium’s inventor, creates art in this 1958 short  

: Letraset fill patterns—see previously 

throwing eggs: popular Chinese card game Guandan may receive sanction for the classroom  

esperantido: linguist Manuel Halvelik created an auxiliary diglossia to make translations sound more archaic 

omnichord: Suzuki brings back the portable music-maker from 1981

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.

Monday 25 December 2023

sit down and shut-up, will ya? try not to live up to all of my expectations (11. 215)

Garnering multiple awards and accolades and considered among the best screenplays ever written, the George Roy Hill directed caper—having earlier used the same principals in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, premiered on Christmas day in 1973, the Robert Redford and Paul Newman vehicle centres around a complicated plan by two grifters (inspired by a duo actual confidence tricksters, Charlie and Fred Gondorff), nearly foiled by the FBI, to con an organised crime boss out of a half-a-million dollars. Set in the mid-1930s, it features old-fashioned interstitial title cards and the music of Scott Joplin, causing a resurgence in the interest in ragtime.

Friday 10 November 2023

9x9 (11. 110)

tragedy of the commons: Tokelau’s country-code top level domain (see also) turned the tiny Pacific island into a virtual den of thievery—via Web Curios  

hanna-barbera educational division: a bizarre 1979 film-strip about getting home safe for latch-key kids featuring some ranger danger 

itinerant filmmaker: travelling from town to town, The Kidnappers Foil was a four-decade vanity project for local talent, produced hundreds of times over  

suspense accents: add the sound of drama to your day—via Things Magazine  

mixtape 2023: Cardhouse’s annual audio/visual revue

bjรถrn of the dead: Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson to play a starring role in an apocalyptic ABBA-tribute band horror movie—via Good Internet  

so red the nose, or, breath in the afternoon: an Oakland, California speakeasy bringing back drinks from 1930s—including Ernest Hemingway’s favoured Champagne cocktail  

merrie melodies: a snippet of the score for the cancelled Coyote v Acme—see more about the shelved project 

legal autopilot: a neural network negotiated and finalised a contract—an NDA—without human intervention

Sunday 17 September 2023

7x7 (11. 007)

spiral town: AI artistry with geometric patterned medieval villages captivate the internet—via Waxy 

the fabric of civilisation: the fascinating history of sericulture—see previously here and here  

๐Ÿซ : an informal survey reveals men think about Ancient Rome daily, sometimes to the surprise of their partners 

magic screen: a look at the creative crew behind Pee-wee’s Playhouse 

lennon 2499: hunting down the artist’s famous wristwatch—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links (lots more to check out there)  

hal mooney and his orchestra: ballet standards as lounge music  

everyday yลkai: AI generated Japanese folklore figures hiding in plain sight—see previously

Monday 11 September 2023

galvanic response (10. 997)

Via the New Shelton wet/dry, we learn that from 1950 to 1973 the Canadian civil service, to include the Mounties and the armed forces, amid the general moral panic applied to different lifestyles and the notion (reenforced by social pressures to hide one’s identity) that gay men were susceptible to honey-pot operations and recruitment by Marxist espionage utilised a device called the “fruit machine”—a pejorative yet re-appropriated term—to screen out homosexual candidates and eliminate government workers (see also). Test subjects were sat in a dentist’s chair and made to view a series of pictures, ostensibly to rate stressors, but from the pedestrian to the pornographic gauged pupillary (eye dilation) to other involuntary responses as a proxy for erotic thoughts with a deeply flawed set of assumptions that potentially (funding was withdrawn in the late 1960s but the technique was still employed) cost up to nine-thousand individuals their careers.

Thursday 7 September 2023

notices and diffusions (10. 988)

Founded on this day in 1923 after several earlier attempts that failed to gain international support in response to harmonise global police response in the face of increased travel and trade that was accompanied by attendant transnational criminal enterprises at the conclusion of a five-day congress in Vienna, Interpol under the presidency of the summit’s organiser, jurist, law enforcement official and former Austrian chancellor Johannes Schober was chartered with a mandate to investigate trafficking, political corruption and counterfeiting—into include copyright infringements and not as an supernational police force, despite popular conception, only liaising between jurisdictions. Interpol is, by its constitution, expressly forbidden to intervene in matters of politics or military, religious or racial matters and maintain neutrality—a stance that has garnered the organisation criticism over the years, leading to arrests of dissident refugees at their behest and their avoidance of pursuing war crimes.


one year ago: St Elmo’s Fire (1985),  a powerful political ad (1964) plus the end of the 9€ ticket scheme

two years ago: more on the development of kitchen design, Wikipedia Commons (2004), a Muppets conspiracy theory, Dancing Queen (1976) plus more false Dmitris

three years ago: the Abbots Bromley horn dance, circumnavigating the globe by car (1929) plus a pretty keen sports mascot 

four years ago: the abbey of LandรฉvennecMidcentury Modern emoji, more on the Periodic Table, The Book of Kells plus Astro Boy (1963)

five years ago: lemons and the mafia, toxic-loving plants plus getting rid of plastic ring beer binders

Saturday 5 August 2023

akte x (10. 926)

Our gratitude to the always interesting Maps Mania for referring us to the Anomaly Observatory has been documenting paranormal activity focused mainly on Berlin and environs since 2008 but monitoring the unexplained—from the mundane to the phenomenal—which deviates dangerously from the norm. Like with this instance with the map centred on this location on the Museuminsel recounting how one night last December a torrent of water washing away hundreds of exotic fish causing huge and disruptive flood appeared, nearly eliding over the fact that the source was the sudden and catastrophic explosion of a hotel aquarium, it is difficult to tell if it’s an earnest investigation or a facetious commentary on such endeavours but regardless wonderful weird and dedicated to urban mythos. More to explore at the links above.


one year ago: Que Sera, SeraThe Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967), assembling the globe by various demographic factors plus more city map generators

two years ago: assorted links to revisit,  identifying the location of a sketch by Leonardo plus a Beatles single with an equally good b-side (1966)

three years ago: America tries to ban TikTok, the invention of telegraphy was first dismissed as a gimmick, more links to enjoy, an alternate ending to The Giving Tree plus the Portsmouth Sinfonia

four years ago: air traffic controls in the US strike (1981), the craze of purikura plus a look at the hodiernal verb tense

five years ago: a preview of Star Trek: Picard, a planned remake of 9-to-5 plus more links worth revisiting

Friday 4 August 2023

line of succession (10. 925)

Finishing his tour of North America on this day in 1923, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, celebrated author and purveyor of woo (previously), boarding the RMS Adriatic bound from New York back to the United Kingdom said on the recent death of the American president, as reported by the Chicago Tribune, “It will take three days for Mr Harding’s spirit to become acclimated to conditions in the new world… Mr Coolidge [his vice president and successor] should have no difficult in communicating with his predecessor’s spirit. Both men have led clean and Christian lives.” If council was sought through mediumship, the nation’s new chief executive would have no problem transitioning to his role. Though “Silent Cal” probably did not seek out Harding’s advice, his reputation fraught with scandal including damaging cronyism and the Teapot Dome bribery that only emerged posthumously plus jailing (at least refusing to entertain overtures for a pardon) his opponent from the 1920 election, Eugene Debs, his own hands-off approach to economic policy informed and enabled the “Roaring Twenties” and following his decision not to run for a second full term in 1929, was very reluctant to endorse his party’s nominee, Herbert Hoover, whom Coolidge dismissed as universally bad.

Thursday 22 June 2023

sparizione di emaneula orlandi (10. 827)

Disappearing seemingly without a trace, the Vatican teen (her father was a lay employee of the papal household and the family had free run of the grounds) who mysteriously vanished on this day in 1983 whilst returning home from music lessons, a choral member and flutist of the Pontificium Institutum musicae sacrae, is currently under investigation by the Holy See, which after nearly four-decades of near silence on the matter has directed a re-examination of testimony and reports into the case of Emaneula Orlandi—thanks to relentless petitioning by her older sibling Pietro to find out the truth, at the behest of Pope Francis. Rumours arose, mostly sourced from unverifiable accounts, that Orlandi was a runaway, lured into a trafficking racket with exorbitant commissions for selling Avon products and adopting the persona of Barbarella, transmuting into conspiracy theories including that she was being held in ransom as leverage for the release of would-be assassin of John Paul II, as an East German Stasi operation under orders of the KBG, kidnapped in the wake of the Vatican Bank collapse and money laundering scandal in order to force the payments of restitutions, and is hidden in London mental hospital, kept as collateral for nearly forty years. The probe is currently under investigation by the public prosecutor’s office in Rome and has been the subject of a recent Nexflix documentary.

Tuesday 13 June 2023

you have the right to remain silent (10. 805)

Emerging from movement for legal aid for defendants supported by LBJ’s Great Society programmes which provided for counsel during the interrogation process after booking as a safeguard for practises that many viewed as brutal and coercive, the US Supreme Court issued its decision in Miranda v Arizona on this day in 1966 that renders inadmissible self-incriminating statements obtained without the informed consent of the apprehended of their rights to legal representation. Whereas the protections of the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution was customarily understood as a protection against compelled admittance of guilt under duress and contempt in a courtroom setting (I plead the 5th), the ruling signalled a shift in law enforcement practises—with a protocol issued by the Court, and precincts adopting a standard of “reading rights” or “Mirandizing,” which some regarded as soft on crime and an undue administrative burden. The original case from 1963 involved a suspect linked circumstantially to a particularly heinous kidnapping and rape, Ernesto Miranda signing a typewritten confession that he did “hereby swear that I make this statement voluntarily and of my own free will, without threats, coercion or the promise of immunity and with knowledge of my legal rights—understanding any statement I make may be used against me”—expect that at no time was the suspect told of his right to legal counsel nor to remain refuse to speak with police, making his confession involuntary. The conviction overturned, Miranda was sentenced during a retrial and eventually paroled in 1972 and made a modest living as a celebrity, autographing Miranda cards, the script given to arresting officers.