Monday, 23 August 2021


Held annually to propitiate the deity with bonfires and sacrifice at a time when crops and granaries were most prone to burning, the Roman fastus to Vulcan falls on this day in what was originally Sextilis and was part of a larger cycle of agrarian holidays of the summer and the beginning of the harvest season, a human commission as opposed to placating untamed Nature observed in July. Games were held with the additional rituals of hanging clothes on a line out-of-doors and beginning to work after sundown by candle-light darkness already coming noticeably sooner and harnessing the potentially destructive nature of fire for something productive. The tubilustria ceremonies were also held at this time—the ritual purification of trumpets and similar instruments which were considered sacred to Vulcan.

Wednesday, 11 August 2021


united states of wildfire: as the climate emergency escalates, more North American residents are moving into the path of destruction unwittingly 

fitting in: Ze Frank (previously) reveals that even the coolest, calmest and most collected of us are all trying, coping  

d’oyly carte: an islet in the Thames with a derelict mansion built for an opera impresario will be restored to its former glory—via Things Magazine 

caped crusaders: Batman’s sidekick Robin finally comes out 

constrained systems: a tool-kit of alternative image editing effects—via Waxy  

matchi bล:a mesmerising stop-motion study of a magic match stick from Tomohiro Okazaki—via ibฤซdem

 bubblegum pop: the Osmonds 1968 song “Groove with what You Got”  

ฮฑฯ€ฮฟฮบฮฌฮปฯ…ฯˆฮท: Greek capital, archipelago beset by flames

Thursday, 10 September 2020

morgenrot schlecht wetter droht

Kottke curates a growing selection of arresting photographs of American western skies tinged an unreal red by uncontrolled wildfires fuelled and made more intense by climate change and global warming that is a direct consequence of human activity and mismanagement. These images were captured during the day, not at dawn or dusk though the smoke blocking out the sun might suggest otherwise. Abendrot, schlecht Wetterbot.

Sunday, 16 August 2020

flora, fauna, fire

Via Maps Mania, we are directed to an engaging and impactful look at the devastation that Australia’s wildfires brought at the beginning of 2020 in the form of this interactive scrollytelling presentation that shares stories of recovery, prevention and links to the toll it has taken on 119 representative plants and animal species, whom may face extinction without human intervention. Though 119 is the number for firefighters and emergency services in many other jurisdictions, it’s triple zero you want to dial on the continent.

Thursday, 9 May 2019


Whilst most denizens of the forest would run the other direction at the hint of an encroaching conflagration, Slashdot introduces us to a tiny beetle called Melanophila acuminata—commonly known as the black fire chaser, found in large swaths of Eurasia and Northern and Central America.
While the beetle brigade will charge headlong into danger, the insect able to detect the heat of a distant fire upwards of a hundred kilometers away through “eyes” highly sensitive to stochastic resonance—differentiating the gradient and threshold of ambient thermal noise, their heroism is for the preservation of their species, the larvรฆ eating only burnt wood. Not only have the fire chasers been known to swarm and bite human firefighters (one wonders if this super power could be harnessed as an early alarm), there are many documented cases of the beetles being attracted to other heat decoys. Poignantly, given the outbreak of wildfires in this environment, this species will probably thrive whilst others in its cadre go extinct.

Saturday, 10 November 2018


Sadly, as Paleofuture reports, the Paramount Ranch, the location of a number of large scale-sets that was a major actor in a number of film and television productions since its 1927 acquisition as a film ranch—falling within the traditional bounds of the studio zone, a thirty-mile zone (TMZ) that radiates out from West Beverly in Los Angeles and an easy drive from Hollywood—has been engulfed by the Woolsey wildfire, sustaining significant damage. The allure of this spot, backdrop for 1981’s Reds and 1968’s Herbie the Love Bug plus many others and numerous television shows like Westworld, The Bachelor and Doctor Quinn: Medicine Woman was that it was also open for public inspection, provided that nothing was filming at the time. Wildfires devastating the region are burning California from both ends, with at least twenty-five fatalities and thousands of homes and businesses burned.

Friday, 27 July 2018

heat map

The European Commission in partnership with the European Space Agency maintains its Copernicus Emergency Management Service to track and model disasters world wide—both natural and manmade to include global flood awareness systems, displaced populations, a drought observatory and a global wildfire information system which monitors for threats in near-real time and provides an on-demand charting provision to aid in risk assessment, response and recovery operations. Above is a snapshot of the present situation, mapping fire risk. With conditions exacerbated by climate change and parts of the world becoming increasingly uninhabitable for life of all sorts, we are all stakeholders.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

sopwith camel

The municipal airport serving Sonoma county was renamed in 2000 in honour of cartoonist and long-time Santa Rosa resident Charles M Schultz (Sebastopol to be specific whom Schultz created a contemporary of Charlie Brown and Linus van Pelt called Five for short but whose full name was 555 plus the postal code of the town, 95472, which is one of the few restrictions, numbers, on naming children in American) we discover thanks to Just a Car Guy, adorned with the logo of Snoopy outfitted in flying ace attire and piloting his dog house.
The former army airfield is not only a tribute to the creator of Peanuts and his cast of characters but also the chief staging area for California’s forestry protection against and where the firefighting aircraft battling the wildfires ravaging the state deploy from.  Sadly, we learn the Schultz’ homestead was also consumed by the fires along with untold thousands of others.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

pudding lane

Rather incongruously, Londoners commemorated the anniversary of the Great Fire of 1666 (the three hundred-fiftieth anniversary of this fire that engulfed eighty percent of the city fell over the weekend) by setting alight a wooden model of the seventeenth century skyline—designed by one of the merry arsonists of Burning Man fame.
After the devastation, the mostly timber urban core was rebuilt with the signature grey Portland limestone, but the social and economic disruption must have endured for generations and surely many who lost family and fortune never recovered. The event included a street fair with food and burn treatments from the time.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013


The spreading discoveries of horse and donkey meat in samples of processed foods in discount supermarkets does not only represent a revolting betrayal and a call for consumers who either seek out the greatest apparent bargains out of thrift or out of necessity to re-evaluate trust and priorities. Shoppers who are not patronizing their local butchers and farmers’ markets, though left with some reliable alternatives at grocery stores, have to wonder what sort of institutionalization in Europe make cheap food no good deals.

It turns out uncovering some substitute, some mystery meat is not very surprising, but represents a definite departure and a dissonance for Europe’s regular reputation for food integrity and insisting on provenance and chain-of-custody. All produce, fruits and vegetables, are clearly marked with their country and farm of origin; eggs are individually numbered and sometimes bear a bar-code; regional specialties are according special rights and no counterfeit could claim the same designation, despite allowable gimmicks and self-promotion. Once food is processed, however, all such labeling becomes voluntary. If not fresh or raw, frozen “beef” or a pre-washed mixed salad in a bag, there was formerly no requirement to disclose the origin of the ingredients, though misrepresentation was something not tolerated, as well. It seems a little bit inconceivable, considering the prominent labeling that one can choice from on cartons of store-bought pizza and other Fertiggeriche, which usually come at a premium, and sometimes one cannot avoid taking a certain risk, when dining out or at a cafeteria (Mensa), but legislation is underway to close this disturbing loop-hole.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

confabulation, conflagration

The unprecedented scope of the wild-fires ravaging central Texas is a frightening thing, already in superlative year for natural and man-assisted disasters, though recent record-holders are quickly outdone and not allowed to bask in their glory or infamy for very long. The latest in the series of governors from that state have invited scorn and courted wrath and maybe there is a parallel, close relationship--the ability to peer into his soul, between the current sitting governor and presidential aspirant and the Russian leadership.

About a year ago, unquenchable wildfires were also threatening the Russian countryside, and the administration was criticized for its crisis-management and possibly handicapping the whole process of response and prevention by cutting back on support for firefighters. To what degree that criticism was warranted remains unclear, though the Russians who suffered lost because of the fires were cared for and the fire crews are fully-funded. It is however less of a question and more substantiated fact that the Texan leadership has shut down firehouses and curtailed support for voluntary (Freiwillig) firefighters, and so many Americans resist evacuation in the States because they have very little faith that their losses will be restored. It is a bit ironic that the aspirations of the Texas governor are built on the shaky principles that federalism is the cause of all woes and is loath to ask for its aid during the crisis. To some extent, this purging by fire sweeping through the forests and grasslands is a natural cycle, unavoidable and necessary, but poor stewardship and response fuels its destructive power. I hope that those affected survive this disaster and re-emerge with refreshed strength to guide policy and priorities in a sensible and not superficial direction.