Monday 10 June 2024

7x7 (11. 618)

bernhard modern: pre- and proscriptions in font choice in legal briefs  

mind the gap: a huge collection of historic London Underground maps and posters—see previously 

in search of…: the Dogon culture and ancient astronomy

homebrewed: following his felony conviction, Trump’s licenses to sell liquor under scrutiny 

pay wall: you’ve read your last fee article, such is the nature of mortality

and peace and justice for all: Tweet of the Day re-litigates and exonerates all of Trump’s misdeeds  

poster child: the auction expertise of Nicho Lowry  

show bible: a reprinting of the DC Comics Style Guide from 1982

Sunday 9 June 2024

stack overflow (11. 616)

Courtesy of Waxy, we are directed to the flashy showroom of Terminal Text Effects, a collection of customisable coding scripts to apply to one’s website to create looping pages to assemble, decrypt and crumble content. There are quite a few to choose from and can be configured to match one’s themes and schemes. We especially liked the Burn, Black Hole and Rain routines and will one day learn how incorporate such pre-installs ourself although right now a bit too intermediate for us.

Thursday 23 May 2024

a compilation of reliable recipes with a casual culinary chat (11. 576)

Originally self-published in 1931 as means of coping with the loss of her husband, the jacket design which captured the popular poster, cut-out style of the day was created by the author’s daughter Marion Rombauer Becker, who helped write subsequent editions. The Art Deco cover features Martha of Bethany, the patron saint of Home Economics, vanquishing the dragon of domestic drudgery—according to the Golden Legend, the Tarasque, a fearsome chimera that tormented the people of Gaul, that Martha tamed with her faith, though once obedient and docile was unfortunately beset by angry villagers with rocks and spears until it died. Rombauer Becker was the director of the Art Department of a school in Ohio and the typeface is inspired by a Cassandre specimen of the contemporaneous excess of the decorative font Bifur. In print continuously since with over twenty-million copies sold, it is considered the quintessential American cookbook, its popularity sustained by Julia Child, and is a snowclone for many topical overviews.

Wednesday 22 May 2024

v 16.0ฮฒ (11. 572)

The Unicode Consortium is proposing the inclusion of seven emoji for the standardised catalogues referenced by operating systems and will be under review through the beginning of July, when expected to be officially adopted. Though uniform and universal (with some exceptions), it will be some time before we can use a leafless tree to convey climate change and drought or the exhausted eyebag expression in general as platforms add their own vernacular in a process that can lag for several months. In addition to these pictograms, scripts from west Africa, India and Nepal are being added as well as new Japanese ideographs plus some four thousand Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and a historic Albanian set of characters and symbols from legacy computing.

Monday 20 May 2024

i am disappoint (11. 569)

The always interesting Language Log introduces us to a class of typos with two-subsets that we can find very relatable and gets the onus of the blame when conducting a bit of post-publication proofreading: completion errors, when typing or writing (there is both a motor-mechanical and muscle inertia in effect) starting out with one intention and an intrusive ending inserts itself, and capture errors, an action slip when a reflex behaviour creates an unwanted parallelism. What’s a sticky key you’re vexed by? Surely beyond spoonerisms such slippage happens in speech with frequency and I wonder how too such intrusions are compounded—or not—by auto-complete.

Thursday 16 May 2024

10x10 (11. 562)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

eternal return: cosmic cycles and time’s resurgence  

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


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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 15 May 2024

asemic writing (11. 560)

The above describing wordless or meaningless text intended to invite the reader to divine a message through the symbolisms rather than to convey a message—though these carefully recorded compositions that suggest mathematical and chemical formulae certainly encoded a meaning that was perhaps only known to the artist—and could be certainly applied to the verisimilitude (see also) of the collected works of outsider artist Melvin May, a bassist who returned to New York City to study informatics but his career path was sidelined by a schizophrenia diagnosis and subsequent drug use, landing him in a men’s shelter on Randall’s Island whilst seeking treatment. Way’s discipline was discovered through art workshops sponsored by the shelter, dense and intricate sketches with ballpoint pens committed to found scraps of paper, often carrying around works-in-progress on his person, protected with a layer of scotch tape. More on this retrospective—and sadly posthumous by only months—and Way’s life at Hyperallergic at the link above.

Wednesday 24 April 2024

graphical symbols for use on equipment (11. 512)

Via Present /&/ Correct, we are directed to the International Organisation for Standardisation’s (ISO, see also) Online Browsing Platform (OBP) that publishes an annual catalogue of pictograms and other deliverables (coordinates, vocabulary, terminology, industry norms) for manufacturers and municipalities to license (most, however, have been made freely available to the public) commercially for a nominal fee. The annex of ISO 7000 is a registry of systematised and universal icons appearing on machine parts, cables and consoles with different subcategories covering building construction, surgical instruments and implants, woodworking, fishmeal and identification documents.

Saturday 20 April 2024

๐Ÿ†– (11. 502)

Having previously looked at the linguistic phenomenon of boomerang terms, we were intrigued by this post on Japanese borrowings and re-borrowings inspired by the recent addition of a couple dozen loanwords by the OED, whose lexicographer nominated them partially due to their propensity for being reincorporated with nuance. We found it especially fascinating that “no good” is in usage on par with OK in Japan—even appearing adjacent in emoji sorting, collation (see also) as its antonym—despite not being in common parlance or even recognisable in its source language. Many of the new inclusions are cuisine- and cultural-related, like kintsugi and omotenashi, the fusion of hospitality and circumspection that become more widely known by the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo. The whole list and more discussion from Language Log at the link above. How many are you acquainted with, hontลni?

Thursday 18 April 2024

10x10 (11. 496)

the cloud under the seas: the fleet of secret submarine cable repair ships 

sarbox: US Supreme Court appears skeptical about charging January Sixth rioters with obstruction of justice as defined by a law made in the aftermath of the Enron accounting scandal  

mix-and-match orthography: how Japanese writers navigate a choice between four writing systems (see also)—via Cardhouse  

walled gardens have deep roots: the imperative of rewilding (previously) the internet lest the duopolies take over—via Waxy 

bongo bash: Wild Stereo Drums (1961)  

embroidered surveillance: cross-stitch works of closed-circuit security camera footage  

the questor tapes: a 1974 television sci-fi drama about an android with incomplete programming by Star Trek alumni Gene L Coon, D C Fontana and Gene Roddenberry—via r/Obscure Media  

tegelwippen: Dutch towns compete to remove garden paving and embrace weeds—via Miss Cellania  

voir dire: jury selection continues for the criminal trial of Donald J Trump—with some potential jurors being unintentionally doxed by the media 

 atlas 2.0: Boston Dynamics’ new humanoid robot


one year ago: Atelier Elvira, an unwoke chatbot plus assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: more gachapons plus an introduction to risography

three years ago: the launch of the Disney Channel (1983), an experimental light house plus Wham in China (1985)

four years ago: more links to enjoy, the International Amateur Radio Union plus The Spirits Book (1897)

five years ago: concrete monoliths moved by hand plus Mueller Report redactions

Sunday 24 March 2024

11x11 (11. 448)

inauspicious beginnings: a rift opens up in a group of official astrologers employed by the Sri Lankan government to pick ideal dates for new years rituals  

disco arabesquo: record label Habibi Funk aims to introduce Middle Eastern vintage music to wider audiences 

typecraft: a transformative font foundry in India 

the allegory of the cave: on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the film’s premiere, we may be still trapped in the Matrix 

banjaxed and bockety: two curious Irish terms 

der buch der hasengeschichten: Tom Seidmann-Freud’s 1924 collection of hare fables 

working for tips: bizarrely robot baristas will accept gratuities, in a service sector landscape already fraught with insecurity and precarity—via tmn  

the juice is on the loose: a sequel thirty-six years in the making, reuniting the original cast—via Miss Cellania  

international system of typographic picture education: an archive of the pictograms of Gerd Arntz—see previously  

pocket full of kryptonite: the preponderance of alternative rock songs about Superman in the 1990s, 2000s 

prosopometamorphopsia: a new study on generalised social anxiety disorder tries to see from the perspective of those with a rare condition that causes faces to appear distorted, demonic—via the New Shelton wet/dry

Thursday 14 March 2024

7x7 (11. 421)

triple word score: the undisputed champion of competitive Scrabble  

boyard cigarettes: unused geisha footage for an Offworld advertising campaign

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

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

penmanship: the resurgence of cursive—see previously  

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

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

Saturday 9 March 2024

8x8 (11. 411)

๐Ÿšซ: the origins of the circle-and-slash prohibition symbol, its adoption as an ISO standard coinciding with 1984’s Ghost Busters  

return to sender: as part of the Prize Papers Project, a pristine Faroese hand-knitted sweater was discovered in an impounded parcel from 1807 

electronic labyrinth: the 1967 student film from George Lucas that would be later reworked into the feature  

snowdrops: Robert Marsham’s Indications of Spring (1789)  

clairaudient: more on Rosemary Brown with other classical compositions from beyond the grave  

if it doesn’t exist on the internet, it doesn’t exist: as of the beginning of the year, the venerable repository, the Ubuweb whose founder Kenneth Goldsmith is famous for the axiom, of the avant-garde has gone into archive-mode—via Web Curios 

sella rotalis: Paul de Livron crafts beautiful wooden wheelchairs, including one for the Pope

belinda new: exploring the typography of Oscar nominated films

Sunday 25 February 2024

11x11 (11. 380)

sure, write stuff for free—but write it for yourself: maintaining one’s creativity in the bleak media sector brickwalling and the loss of journalistic records  

rage-baiting: viral Tik-Tok couple troll influencer culture with such precision most don’t realise it’s satire—via Super Punch  

the paint explainer: a primer on the twenty-seven amendments to the US Constitution—via Memo of the Air 

dark dimensions: there’s a new theory about where dark matter might be hiding  

the sony smartwig: a 2016 patent granted for a connected hairpiece one pairs with their phone for tactile feedback 

the navel on an orange is a mutation that created a conjoined twin: weird information to dispense on a first date—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links 

the riker manoeuvre: small towns with monuments to Star Trek characters—via Marginal Revolution  

selectric funeral: the Boston Typewriter Orchestra hopes to appear in NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert with this submission  

awful yet lawful: US Supreme Court to entertain grievances on social media moderation for deplatforming hateful and dangerous content  

multi-level marketing: a supercut of huckster Donald Trump’s merchandising scams 

you can out-buzzfeed buzzfeed after all: media group in takeover talks with UK’s The Independent—see previously

Friday 23 February 2024

10x10 (11. 374)

walden 7: photographer Sebastian Weiss captures the epic nature of an outstanding apartment block in Barcelona 

shootball: January Sixth themed pinball machines and other Republican swag at the Conservative Political Action Conference—see previously 

swimming with sharks: an overview of the hidden terror that’s haunted, informed humanity for millennia  

google blobs: the animated emoji character set that ought to be brought back—via Web Curios 

38°n: a news source on North Korea rex melly: the riches of Mansa Musa of the Mail Empire—adjusting for inflation and other factors, possibly the wealthiest person in history 

shift to socials: Vice Media is folding, laying off hundreds of journalists—via Waxysee more  

pale usher: introducing a blog mini-series on Moby Dick with a curious etymology  

every sperm is sacred: following the ruling in Alabama that grants personhood to frozen embryos—and the subsequent suspension of IVF treatment for fear of legal implications—conservative think tank forming Trump’s policy wants to end recreational sex 

batpole: homes with alternate stairwells—see previously

Saturday 10 February 2024

7x7 (11. 338)

caught between the moon and new york city: taking a harrowing subway ride in 1981  

homing: Nikola Tesla’s love for pigeons and telepathy—via Strange Company 

 : more on the interrobang—see previously  

stringe-watching: the opposite of binging a series to indulge in the experience  

hash mark: the works of artist Ding Yi coinage: TikTok has seen an (irritating) explosion in linguistic novelties to promote niche microtrends—via Miss Cellania  

in the aeroplane over the seas: Neutral Milk Hotel covers for the album’s anniversary 

castro street: Bruce Baillie films Riverside, California in 1966


one year ago: assorted links to revisit, Tapestry (1971) plus a pioneering hypertext novel

two years ago: the Dread Pirate Roberts plus a geographical challenge

three years ago: the Simpsons’ intro, the feast of St Scholastica, vernacular ceramics, no fly free zones plus profiting from conspiracy

four years ago: more Orange Menace

five years ago: more links to enjoy

Thursday 1 February 2024

we don’t service your type here (11. 311)

Incredibly just introduced in 1994 (we thought that font snobbery and people, ourselves included, being so vested in these details had been going on for much longer), we enjoyed this excerpt from a new book outlining the history of the much-maligned Comic Sans, designed by Microsoft employee Vincent Connare (also creating the typeface Trebuchet and the rather cryptic levitating businessman emoji) in order to give a friendlier look for a new user interface the company was developing, more legible and scalable than the default Times New Roman, inspired by comic book captions and speech bubbles. Despite its reputation as ugly, ubiquitous and misuse, studies have shown that its superior legibility can help with retention and comprehension, particularly for those with dyslexia and Connare takes no offence to the endless barrage of insults. More on Thomas Steeles’ book at It’s Nice That at the link above.


one year ago: The Bird Cage (1973) plus assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: Bush meets Yeltsin (1992), more links to enjoy, Late Night with David Letterman (1982) plus a classic Neil Young album (1972)

three years ago: Kepler’s Cosmic Bowl, Anglicisms in Greek, Imbolc, more links, a historical sci-fi glossary plus a huge graphic design archive

four years ago: Trump on trial by a jury of his peers, the overcrowded mail-order mattress field, AI facial morphs plus an immersive art experience

five years ago: Iceland’s prime minister, disembodied intelligence, more mass-transit upholstery plus women’s suffrage in Switzerland

Wednesday 31 January 2024

8x8 (11. 309)

that spells primbci: Neuralink begins trials on human volunteers—see previously  

infinite craft: drag and drop fundamental elements to make new materials, from Neal Agarwal—previously  

gboard caps: search engine Japan team designs a hat (ๅธฝใƒใƒผใ‚ธใƒงใƒณ) that types  

double feature: more command-line movies from ASCII Theatre—see previously  

once you pop, you can’t stop: the weird and secretive world of crisp flavours—via Present/&/Correct  

vier-tage woche: German companies experimenting with a four-day workweek to ameliorate labour shortages  

zetetic astronomy: a mid-nineteenth century experiment that spanned the Flat Earth movement  

beta-testing: a few well-reasoned counterpoints for the mechanical Turk hucksters and AI-evangelists

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

Saturday 20 January 2024

dropcat (11. 282)

hough easily accomplished with publishing and word processing software—adding epigraphic letters or initials (from the Latin intialis, meaning that which goes first), the dropcap poses particular challenges for web typesetters, we learn via Good Internet, between scaling and kerning. And while not completely typographically satisfying (but it’s our feline friends so willing to overlook a few gaps in formatting in this exacting science), this experiment to generate figurated majuscule headers with AI illustrates how challenging it can be to get a font, wrapping and layout right—and although automated and tailorable, printers and sorters are not obsolete. Much more about about the methodology and the chance to create one’s own typeface Gwern at the link above.