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 2 June 2024

40 eridani a ฮฒ (11. 600)

From an astrological point of view, the downgrading of Pluto (see previously here and here) was traumatic to many but the Vulcan home world, canonically placed in the above triple star-system of the constellation Eridanus of the southern skies, has now twice suffered the indignity of possibly not existing. Astronomers believed that they had detected the signature of an exoplanet back in 2018, informally designated as Vulcan but subsequent observations revealed that the superearth, originally found by a gravitational wobble, is probably a calibration mirage—or perhaps the cloaking is intentional. More at the links above.

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links worth the revisit plus discovering local, cinematic connections

two years ago: a 1978 conspiracy thriller, Elizabeth II, the manicule plus more links to enjoy

three years ago: St Elmo, more shadowcasting plus pedantry and pronuncication

four years ago: 1988 in pop songs

five years ago: Steve Bannon’s planned gladiator school falls through plus googie architecture 

Friday 26 April 2024

memory alpha (11. 515)

Courtesy of fellow internet-caretaker Everlasting Blรถrt (a site that sadly we don’t get to frequent nearly often enough these days but always serendipitous and worth the visit), we are referred to a massive Pinterest-type gallery of Star Trek images, character profiles, peeks behind the scenes, ship schematics, chronologies, ephemera, merchandise and other appearances and publications and cast photos from every series and films of the franchise—see previously. It was a lot of fun to browse through and like the drop-down effects as one scrolls about. The title is taken from TOS S3:18, The Lights of Zetar, where a storm-like phenomenon is approaching at warp speed to the planetoid in the Teneebia sector that hosts the Federation’s central archives and inspired the eponymous, definitive database of lore and fandom.

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

synchronoptica

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

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

Sunday 3 March 2024

a roll of the dice (11. 399)

Via Clive Thompson’s latest Linkfest (lots more to check out there), we not only learn of the crazy in the 1920s for mechanical dice cards that generated pseudorandom numbers for you—dominoes and playing cards developed from casting lots in ancient times in China and Japan—there is a project in the works to revive these steampunk clicker gadgets. More at the link above—be sure to read about Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures cover, contranyms and revisit our friend, the Michelin Man.
Whilst researching, we came across another variant of Roman die in the form of a spinning top called a teetotum—still used in gambling in Latin America and later adapted into a dreidel (to distance itself from the wages or wagers). In varying accounts, a four- or six-sided playing piece determined the player’s fate: T for totum when winning the whole pool, A for aufer to draw, D for depone signifying a discard or N for Nihil Dabis when nothing happens. Compare to the Ferengi roulette and certainly rigged game of skill and chance of Dabo and the card-sharks associated with it from Deep Space Nine.

Tuesday 27 February 2024

infinite improbability drive (11.386)

Via Kottke, we are directed to an interesting observation, theory by Lisa Riemers (an example of l'esprit de l’escalier—a stair-step realisation, the perfect reply that came too late—shared after a podcast recording) that technology has graduated beyond Star Trek-inspired hardware with tricorders, comms-badges, tablet computers—though we are still lacking the transporters, replicators, warp-travel and post-scarcity society—and is entering the Douglas Adams’ phase, when absurd tech calls for correspondingly absurd inventions. The super computer Deep Thought, in The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy, which devised the Ultimate Answer, forty-two, but made no sense as the Ultimate Question was outside the scope of its programming, Electric Monks that did the believing for you to alleviate some of the tedium of it, the exceeding wealthy building custom planets, depressed robots and lab rats (hyper-intelligences in disguise) subjected to experimentation conducting research on the scientists all seem to have their corollaries in chatbot and AI trials, virtual boyfriends, unhinged and hallucinating large language models, rogue driverless cars and luxury doomsday bunkers. Maybe we have attained the Babel Fish / Universal Translator, however, but the verdict is still out. More at the links above.

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 9 February 2024

argumentum ad baculum (11. 337)

Via ibฤซdem, we appreciated these logic lessons (an educational project going for a decade now) that presents concepts of dialogue, rhetoric and debate as well as biases and fallacies, like the below Ad Hominem attack between Lieutenants Sulu Arex Na Eth, with Mister Spock moderating for the rest of the cast of Star Trek: The Animated Series as interlocutors (redubbed—see above—and using footage from the cartoons). The dozens of episodes include short tutorials on petitio principii (circular reasoning), the Straw Man Fallacy, Confirmation Bias and the Sunk Cost Fallacy, the Halo Effect and the benefit of hindsight, various appeals, Tu Quoque (whataboutism) and many more. See how Vulcan logic can put more in your philosophical quiver against sophistry and misinformation.

Saturday 27 January 2024

you take the high road and i’ll take the low road (11. 298)

Airing on this day for the first time in 1990, episode twelve of season three of Star Trek: The Next Generation, “The High Ground,” was banned in some markets due to political sensitivities and only released later as an edited version to remove the reference from 2366. Dispatched on a humanitarian mission to deliver medical supplies to a non-aligned planet called Rutia IV, a valued trade-partner with the Federation, the Enterprise becomes entangled in a protracted internal conflict when Dr Crusher is taken hostage by separatist rebels while trying to render aid following a terrorist attack. Wanting to avoid further involvement but unable to extricate themselves from the escalating situations and demands from both the central government and the resistance for help, Captain Picard asks Lieutenant Commander Data for historical instances where terrorism prevailed over negotiated settlement to resolve conflicts, to which he cited the independence of Mรฉxico from Spain and the uniting of Ireland in 2024. In the 1990s the partitioned island was still very much in the midst of the violence of the Troubles and both syndicators the BBC and RTร‰ until 2007 (conceding to the demands of series completists), some fifteen years after its first run and eight years after the Good Friday Agreement, which mostly delivered peaceful resolution to the longstanding ethno-nationalist conflict.  No censorship as far as I can tell was ever imposed on the infamously stereotyped second season episode with the “Space Irish,” “Up the Long Ladder,” about encountering a group of cloned individuals aboard a freighter thought lost for hundreds of years, despite the show’s title being a reference to an anti-Protestant rhyme “...Down the short rope.  To Hell with King Billy and three cheers for the Pope.”

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.

synchronoptica

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 5 January 2024

zoo hypothesis (11. 246)

Via tmn, the supposition of renowned astrophysicist Enrico Fermi (see previously, one of several observations, later expanded and championed by others, why we might appear to be alone in the Universe) that advanced extraterrestrial civilisations are keeping terrestrials in the dark about their existence and holding humans under a technological veil is gaining traction—especially in the light of seven decades on, how many exoplanents we have found that could harbour life. Perhaps, like Star Trek’s Prime Directive, there is a general consensus towards stewardship and insulating primitive cultures so not to influence their beliefs and outlook but it hardly seems like something that would be universally adhered to across the vast distances and time of space—though I guess it would only take one to throw a veil over us and any civilisation capable of exploring the Cosmos could surely do so under cloak, at least to us—but I suppose there could be glimpses and difference factions of aliens that think humans and their ilk would benefit and should be afforded a more inspiring and aspirational view (why let us see the stars at all and keep us happily content with our geocentric point of view). What do you think? I suspect the Great Silence is a combination of factors (see above) with intelligence out there being too alien for our comprehension, maybe that we are kept creatures and possibly too uninteresting to be bothered with.

Wednesday 8 November 2023

but things are not what they teach us—for the world is hollow, and i have touched the sky (11. 103)

First airing on this day in 1968, season three, episode eight of Star Trek: TOS, the Enterprise intercepts an asteroid on a collision course with the planet Daran V, only to discover it is a generation ship (see also) populated by descendants of the original crew unaware that their former homeworld of Yanda is no more, engulfed by a supernova ten thousand years ago, and within the confines of malfunctioning space craft, reliant on automation whose technology they no longer grasp and refer to as the Oracle. The principle officers on their away-mission are subdued by this life-support system, and as they recover from this introduction, they encounter an old man who confesses that he has climbed the mountains (see previously) of this world and things are not what they seem. Immediately his temples glow red and is terminated for his heretical thoughts, revealing that the Oracle dictates obedience devices be implanted in all members of the ship’s manifest to maintain the illusion. Ostensibly skirting the Prime Directive, Spock and Kirk (with a B-story of an ailing McCoy cured by the civilisation’s ancient records and an infatuation with the High Priestess) steer the vessel back on court to a rendezvous with its destination for a new home.


Sunday 17 September 2023

begleiten wir die orion und ihre besatzung bei ihrem patouillendienst am rande der unendlichkeit (11. 006)

Debuting on this day in 1966 on the West German public-service broadcaster ARD, nearly parallel to Gene Roddenbury’s Star Trek, Die phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffes Orion was the country’s first televised science fiction series set in not too distance future of a united, space-faring Earth following the voyages of a starship commander and crew who patrol the galaxy monitoring for threats. >Pointedly notorious for their defiance of superiors, the complement includes a officer of the GSD (Galakistcher Sicherheits-dienst) military intelligence service assigned to keep the Orion under check—and while the crew do not trust Lt Tamara Jagellovsk, over the arc of the seven episodes of the first and only season of the show, they ultimately develop feelings of respect for her—which is reciprocated by her omitting certain liberties taken in her mission reports to higher headquarters. Cyborgs (Roboter) are also prominently featured as guards and domestics but their use is shown to be problematic and prone to malfunction. Other fictional technologies include the Astroscheibe, which serves the same function as the view screen on the bridge of the Enterprise, Lichtweferbatterie—-photon-torpedos, รœberlichtantrieb—Warp Drive, and while no transporter capabilities exist (famously improvised as a way to cut out the expense of depicting launch and landing scenes), the Orion often docks at deep-sea bases, modern and beautiful cities built underwater. The main antagonists were an extraterrestrial species referred to as Frogs. Despite the series’ short run, it quickly achieved cult-status with re-runs and novelisations continuing the story and limning out the characters. The entire run is available online with subtitles.

Friday 8 September 2023

tos, tas (10. 990)

Four years after the original series was cancelled and on the anniversary of its 1966 debut, Star Trek (previously) returned with animated continuing voyages, voiced by most of the principal cast, airing as a Saturday morning cartoon on this day in 1973. Despite winning an Emmy, the revival was cancelled after two seasons although it helped sustain interest in the franchise and provided impetus to reunite the characters again for a feature film by 1979.  Referred to as the “Rec Room” and only appearing in one episode but considered canonical, the animated series introduced the concept of the holodeck. 

synchronoptica 
 
one year ago: Perry Rhodan, assorted links to revisit plus the death of Queen Elizabeth II
 
two years ago: the debut of Star Trek (1966), Ford pardons Nixon (1974), Just So Stories and printing conventions, a teaser for the upcoming Matrix sequel plus more on the evolution of language
 
three years ago: Hopi kachina, a Maltese rebellion (1775), a six-wheeled sedan, more links to enjoy plus photographer Manfred Thierry Mugler
 
four years ago: a very venerable blog, a member of the US armed services comes out (1975) plus the Day of Open Monuments
 
five years ago: the South East Asia Treaty Organisation (1954-1977) plus outsider artist Howard Finster

Sunday 6 August 2023

a desilu production or the first frontier (10. 929)

Born this day in 1911, comic, actor and accomplished producer was assuredly iconic for sense of timing, tolerance and advocacy as well as a real American hero for having detected and reported underground enemy radio transmissions intercepted through the lead fillings in her dentures, Lucille Ball should be remembered for hatching her star to a little project she called a “Wagon Train” to space, helping Gene Roddenbury develop the script and pitch the pilot to the networks.  Read more about the unmatched Ball at the link above.

Saturday 5 August 2023

7x7 (10. 926)

strange new worlds: Star Trek’s upcoming musical episode  

peaceful transition of power: US Department of Justice requested to issue protective orders following Trump’s threats to go after prosecutors during a fund-raising event in Alabama 

nuclear noir: a selection of psychological thrillers at the cusp of the Cold War and the malleability of McGuffins  

carbon black: Massachusetts Institute of Technology develops supercapacitors that store energy in cement

family-friendly: the Kids On-Line Safety Act is posed to severely curtail speech on the internet and anonymous browsing—see also—via Waxy  

and until this battle station is fully operational, we are vulnerable—the rebel alliance is too well equipped: the US Space Force headquarters to remain in Colorado Springs  

english, do you speak it: a foretaste of Pulp Fiction—the musical

Monday 19 June 2023

8x8 (10. 820)

north american aerospace defence command: cache of Cold War era briefings and slide show presentations scanned and shared on the Internet Archive—via Super Punch  

yellowhammer: Alabama enshrines an official state cookie  

clipart: AI generated images disrupting the portfolio of stock photos that helped create it 

playlist: fish music may help revitalise coral reefs  

lui, sait juste ken: a clever double-entendre in French ad-copy for the Barbie movie 

the killer rabbit caerbannog: more on the trope of deadly bunnies in medieval manuscripts—see previously  

apple core: computer giant taking on venerable Swiss Fruit Union, other in a trademark dispute—via Slashdot  

sci-fi edition: Poseidon’s Underworld reviews a 1979 issue of Starlog

Sunday 4 June 2023

soulmate au (10. 787)

The modern form of fan fiction, with us since the days of Shakespeare and Cervantes as a fix-it fic in today’s parlance (with other examples including the continuing adventures of Jane Austen’s characters, Alice in Wonderland, Sherlock Holmes and the figure of Dracula), emerged with Star Trek and a zine, independently published and distributed in 1967 called Spockanalia once it became clear that the Enterprise would not be fulfilling its five year mission—at least on the small screen—in order to limn out details and better understand the relationship dynamics between the captain and his science officer. By 1973, up to ninety percent of contributions were from female authors, augmenting and completing canon and fanon.

Friday 5 May 2023

8x8 (10. 720)

the comisar collection: an incredible auction of television memorabilia, sets and props from Star Trek, Jeopardy!, Cheers and late night talk shows—via Waxy  

craptions: bad quality closed-captioning are a disservice to those who rely on them—see also  

sonic wonderland: composer and acoustic ecologist R Murray Schafer’s 1967 guide to cleansing one’s auditory palette to better appreciate music  

flintknapping and wheelwrighting: take up an endangered craft as your new hobby—via Web Curios

wikiscroll: an educational and edifying (and endless) alternative to anti-social media—via B3ta  

far from me: a 2018 tribute to Gordon Lightfoot from John Prine—see also 

henry’s law: plans to remove CO₂ from the oceans for the oceans to suck it from the atmosphere to maintain equilibrium are yet to be proven safe or effective—see also  

returning champion: the lost tapes have been recovered but the mystery endures over a 1986 game show winning streak—via Strange Company