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

Saturday 29 April 2023

number one, the bridge is yours (10. 704)

Via the Verge, we are directed to a feature on the Roddenberry Archive that allows one to virtually explore nearly every conceivable, canonical iteration and model of the Enterprise, and tour not only the helm, but the captain’s ready-room, turbolifts, various decks and labs and interact with various controls and dials. This holodeck does not just cover the ship of James Kirk or Jean-Luc Picard but also the Enterprise of the Mirror Universe and different timelines. More at the links above.

Thursday 13 April 2023

9x9 (10. 671)

mod squad: celebrating the long life and career of Dame Mary Quant, Swinging Sixties fashion icon  

the cure at troy: a poetic reflection on the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement  

31 at jennie richee: outsider artist Henry Darger 

thug shaker central: self-promoting US Air National Guardsman identified as suspected source of Pentagon leaks 

liberica: the studier coffee bean that could save the industry 

ncc-1701: a meticulous ranging of all the Enterprises 

news at 11: an epic 19 80s bumper

rupublicans: images of GOP politicians in drag—see also  

hyperbole: more on the Googie style with this iconic Southern California motel

Monday 13 February 2023

supporting role (10. 546)

An internal memo at Paramount studios from 1987, just months before the second instalment of the franchise premiered, has recently been making the rounds on the rounds on the internet regarding casting for Star Trek: The Next Generation, which Bob Canada explores in detail. A few of these alternatives and understudies we had heard about—like Yaphet Kotto for Captain Picard or Bunty Bailey for Tasha Yar, but the majority were surprising to us and would have made for a very different reboot and could have possibly been the end of the continuing voyages.

Friday 30 December 2022

mmxxii (10. 369)

As this calendar year draws to a close and we look forward with anticipation to 2023, we again take time to reflect on a selection of some of the events that took place in 2022. Thanks as always for visiting. We’ve made it through another wild year together, and we’ll see this next one through together as well.

january: Violent protests erupt in Almaty in response to the Kazakh government ending fuel subsidies and lift price caps on petrol and heating oil, prompting a coalition of former-Soviet military forces to intervene. The US reflects on the one year anniversary of the Capitol insurrection and the fragile state of democracy.

Legendary actor Sidney Portier passed away, aged 94, as did singer Ronnie Spector (*1943). Tragically, seventeen individuals are killed in an apartment fire in the Bronx. Disturbingly the US Supreme Court blocks vaccination mandates for private companies-upholding the requirement for public sector workers. Two Democratic senators-who derailed president Biden’s Build Back Better plan-are also opposed to changing legislative rules to overturn the filibuster, allowing Republicans to block the enactment of a voter-rights protection bill. There are widespread calls for the resignation of Boris Johnson over revelations of work-dos during strict lockdown. The Queen strips Prince Andrew of his titles and military leadership roles over his association with sex pest Jeffrey Epstein and allegations of sexual assault. Russia seems poised to re-invade Ukraine, first undermining their cyber capabilities.  The Pacific island group volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haสปapai erupted violently, triggering tsunami waves halfway across the world in California and Nova Scotia. Performer Meatloaf has passed away, aged seventy-four as did comedian and actor Louie Anderson at sixty-eight.  Zen Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh who protested the Vietnam War and introduced mindfulness to the West dies aged ninety-five.

february: The leader of a defeated though resurgent ISIS, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quarshi, is killed in a US airstrike in Syria.

Tensions continue to mount in Ukraine over the spectre of an Russian invasion, with the US suggesting that Russia will stage a false-flag operation as a pretext to advance.   Truckers in Canada protesting COVID restrictions, mandatory passports blockade Ottawa; separately Justin Treudeu, Jacinda Arden and Keir Starmer need police intervention to be rescued from rioters.  The Queen celebrates her Platinum Jubilee with seventy years on the throne.  So called Canadian Freedom Convoys of big rig truckers shut down three key border crossings into the US, causing knock-on effects including factory shut-downs.  Provocatively, Russia begins military exercises in Belarus and on the Black Sea. 
Two powerful, successive windstorms, Ylenia and Zeynep, cause damage through a corridor in German after wreaking havoc in England and Wales (as Dudley and Eunice).  The Candy Bomber, Gail Halvorsen (previously) passes away, aged 101.  As the UK announces the relaxation of legal measures to combat the spread of the COVID virus, the palace announced that the Queen has contracted a mild case of it.  Putin recognises the sovereignty of break-away Ukrainian territories Donetsk and Luhansk and deploys peace-keepers to the regions nearly eight years to the day after applying a similar tactics to Crimea. 

march: Numerous Western companies suspend operations in Russia as sanctions intensify.  Shelling of civilian targets across Ukraine shows no signs of abating though the invasion has not been the easy and instant take-over that was apparently expected. 

Inflation surges as the price for everything spikes with the price of oil.  Many news outlets suspend reporting from Russia following passage of legislation that threatened individuals with fifteen-year sentences for spreading “fake news.” Sustaining a minor infection, US supreme court justice Clarence Thomas was discharged from hospital, a week after he was admitted. The news comes as the congressional panel investigating the 6 January attack on the US Capitol sought testimony from his wife and conservative activist, Virginia Thomas, after the revelation of a text message exchange between her and the White House chief of staff, urging him to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.  People Power Party candidate is narrowly elected president of South Korea.

april:  The US Senate, after much acrimony, confirms Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. Though vice president Harris would have been the tie-breaker in the case of a fifty-fifty split, no Black woman in this forum had the chance to vote.  Viktor Orbรกn with fourth consecutive term as leader of Hungary. 

North Korea appears to be on the verge of resuming nuclear tests after a pause of five years, escalating regional tensions, after demolishing a symbolic hotel that held out the possibility of reconciliation. Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan was ejected by a vote of no confidence.  Hundreds die from mudslides in the Philippines and flash floods in South Africa.  Russia retaliates to the destruction of its flagship of the Black Sea fleet with renewed shelling in Kyiv and Lviv, having shifted focused to the southeastern part of Ukraine to create a corridor through rebel-held areas to Crimea and the sea.  Emmanuel Macron holds his presidency against Marine Le Pen.  Twitter agrees to sell itself to Elon Musk.  Moscow confirms Russia assault on Kyiv during visit by UN secretary-general Antรณnio Guterres, meeting with the Ukrainian leader just after a summit with Putin.

may: A leaked draft opinion from US Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito suggests that the court is poised to over-turn the 1973 precedent that affords women access to abortion. 

The remaining contingent of soldiers holding Mariupol’s bulwark of resistance in the Azov steel plant have surrendered to Russian forces.   Australia’s conservative coalition government is defeated for the first time in a decade and the Labour party takes control.  A gunman espousing the Great Replacement Theory, tying into all the regressive, racist social movements in the United States, murdered ten individuals in Buffalo, New York.  A shooting at an elementary school in Texas takes twenty-one lives.  A dire shortage of baby formula in the US is on-going.  Monkeypox is spreading rampantly.  

june: the UK and the Commonwealth celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. 

Prompted by the publication of the Partygate investigation, Boris Johnson weathers a confidence vote by fellow party members but with more negative ballots than the votes that ended the ministries of Thatcher or more recently May. Portions of the January 6 select committee hearings are being televised.  The US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood v Casey, prohibiting access to abortion in more than half of America and putting at risk same-sex marriage, gay rights and access to contraceptives. 

july: Russia takes control of the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine.  Yet another mass shooting occurs in the US, this time at an Independence Day parade in a Chicago suburb. 

Compelled by the resignation of over fifty chief ministers and secretaries (including those appointed a day and a half earlier) ultimately, cumulatively over the Chris Pincher scandal, Boris Johnson announces he will step down as leader of the Conservative Party but plans to hold on to his prime ministership until the party conference in the autumn.  Former Japanese prime minister Shinzล Abe is fatally wounded in an assassination attempt.  Actor James Caan passes away, aged 82. After massive unrest and protesters storming the presidential palace, Sri Lankan leader Gotabaya Rajapaska steps down.  After reaching a deal brokered by Turkey, the first Ukranian grain transport vessel sails into the Bosporus, bound for Lebanon.  Pioneering actor Nichelle Nichols passed away, aged eighty-nine.

august: In the backdrop of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and intensifying incursions from mainland China, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi visits Taiwan.  Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is killed by a blade-wielding drone in Afghanistan.  The conservative state of Kansas rejects a referendum to outlaw all abortions.  The FBI conducts a search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate for mishandled government documents.  The US congress passes Joe Biden’s Build Back Better act. 

Taking a cue from Belarus, the governors of Texas and Florida are bussing migrants to New York and California.  Olivia Newton-John passes away after a long battle with cancer.  Fashion designer Issey Miyake (ไธ‰ๅฎ… ไธ€็”Ÿ) has also died, aged eighty-four.  Actor Anne Heche died after sustaining serious injuries in a car accident.  Salman Rushdie was stabbed by an assailant whilst delivering a lecture in Chautauqua, New York.  Joe Biden announces a jubilee on student debt that will positively impact millions of borrowers.  A redacted affidavit shows that over one hundred eighty classified documents were being sought at Mar-A-Lago, which Trump illegally removed when he left office.  Pakistan is devastated by heavy monsoons.  Ukraine begins a counter-insurgency to retake Kherson.  Mikhail Gorbachev passes away, aged 91.  

september: Liz Truss is chosen as new Prime Minister to replace Boris Johnson.  Queen Elizabeth II passes away, aged 96, with London Bridge protocols enacted.  Ukraine is seen to make major incursions into Russian held territories as municipal officials in Moscow and St Petersburg call for Vladimir Putin’s resignation. 

Charles III is proclaimed as new monarch as UK and Commonwealth enter a period of remembrance and mourning.  A Florida federal judge appoints a Special Master to review documents seized from Mar-a-Lago.  The UK economy tanks after Truss chancellor Kwarteng borrow more to reduce tax on business, garnering rebukes from Germany, the US and the IMF as the Pound Stirling approaches parity with the US dollar.  Iranians rage against their government after a young girl dies in custody of the morality police.  Russia appears to have sabotaged the Nordstream pipelines, rendering them unusable even if the gas is turned back on.

october: A hurricane batters Puerto Rico and Cuba, Florida and South Carolina.  Putin annexes four more regions in Ukraine though the hold is tenuous.  Coolio and Loretta Lynn pass away.  A mass shooting, knife attack takes place at a nursery in Thailand with two dozen children killed.  Joseph Biden pardons all of some six-thousand individuals charged with marijuana possession on the federal level.  Rhetoric over the use of tactical nuclear weapons by Russia is increasing. 

Ukraine damages the twenty kilometre bridge linking the annexed Crimea to the Russian mainland, a key supply route, across the Kerch strait.  In retribution, Russian attacks on civilian targets and infrastructure increase markedly.  Kwasi Kwarteng is dismissed, giving the UK four chancellors in as many months amid wide-spread calls for Liz Truss to resign.  Accomplished actor Robbie Coltrane passes away, aged 72, as does Angela Lansbury, aged 96.  Rishi Sunak becomes prime minister of the UK after being voted leader of the Tory Party. The husband of senior congressional member Nancy Pelosi is attacked by a man with a past of espousing fringe right wing theories with a hammer, the target intended to be the Speaker of the House.  Twitter is delisted from the stock exchange as Elon Musk takes over the platform.  Over one hundred and fifty individuals in Seoul are crushed in a stampede during a Halloween party in a narrow alleyway.  Citing continued Ukrainian drone attacks on its Black Sea fleet, Russia pulls out of a UN brokered arrangement to facilitate grain-shipment.

november: World leaders gather in Sharm el-Sheikh for COP27.   Ukrainian cities contend with power blackouts after Russia targets the country’s infrastructure.  Founding father of election science Sir David Butler passes away, aged 98. The anticipated repudiation of the US Democratic party failed to materialize, counter to polling and pundits’ expectations with those Republican candidates aligned with Donald Trump underperforming and falling short in the broad sense, holding the GOP bastions of Florida and Texas.  The UN announces the world population is at eight billion. 

At a ceremony at Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump announces his third candidacy for the presidency, much to the dismay of a Republican party whom cannot challenge his bid.  Artemis I launches on its way to the Moon.  Speaker Pelosi steps down as party leader in the House of Representatives.  In response to Trump announcing his intent to run for president, a move in part calculated to frustrate legal action against him, Attorney General Merrick Garland appoints a special counsel to investigate the insurrection that Trump instigated and the US Supreme Court rules that Trump must turn over years of tax returns to Congress.   Mired in controversy, the World Cup hosted by Qatar commences.  Continued Russian airstrikes on Ukrainian infrastructure and utilities have caused a near total blackout in neighbouring Moldova.  Earthquakes cause mass destruction in West Java and Turkey.   The UK Supreme Court blocks a second referendum for Scottish independence.  Fame and Flash Dance singer Irene Cara passes away, aged 63.  Demonstrations against the government and the ruling party not seen in China since Tienanmen Square erupt in China over COVID lockdown protocols and after the emergency response to an apartment fire is apparently delayed due to restrictions and added barriers to restrict movement. Fleetwood Mac singer Christine McVie dies, aged 79. 

december: Chinese authorities begin relaxing COVID prevention measures in response to protests.  The G7 nations and the European Union try to enforce further sanctions against Russia by banning oil shipments by sea and placing an upwards price cap per barrel. In response to massive protests, Iran disbands its morality police.

Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Labs announce a breakthrough in harnessing the power of nuclear fusion for energy production.  During its final session before dissolving, the January Sixth Committee recommends to the Justice Department to bring four criminal charges, including inciting insurrection, against Trump.  The Specials lead singer Terry Hall passes away, aged 63.  In his first trip abroad since the Russian invasion, Zelenskiy speaks before a joint-session of Congress in Washington, DC––appealing for continued aid from the United States.  Much of the US is pummelled by a bomb-cyclone, a monstrous winter storm that forces the cancellation of holiday travel. Bolivian police detain opposition leader Luis Fernando Camacho for his role in the 2019 protests that prompted then-president Evo Morales to resign. Putin issues a decree prohibiting the export of Russian oil to countries and organizations that adhere to the US$60-per-barrel price cap that Australia, the European Union, and the G7 member states agreed upon earlier this month. The decree will be in effect from February through the summer.  Legendary footballer who made soccer the beautiful game, Pelรฉ, passes away, aged 82, as well as fashion icon Vivienne Westwood.


Saturday 8 October 2022

the power generation (10. 204)

In the face of more energy austerity and with the prospects of a long, cold winter for many and the prospect of rolling blackouts, we were quite elated to be directed towards arguably one of the greatest cross-overs of all time, this circa 1990 advert where National Power and Powergen use a high production value Star Trek (a famously post-scarcity society) short to flog shares in symphony with the move to privatise the UK electricity market. More at Dirty Feed at the link above.

Thursday 8 September 2022

sternstaub (10. 116)

Having sold over two billion novellas (Heftroman) worldwide since the publication of its first edition (under the title Unternehmen Stardust) on this day in 1961 and issued weekly with new chapters ever since, the Perry Rhodan franchise is patently the most successful one in the arena of science fiction, originally conceived by authors K H Scheer and Walter Ernsting, expanded into radio dramas, video games and comic books—plus a failed cinematic adaptation considered so poorly done that fandom disavows it. Set a decade in the future (1971) during the first lunar mission, US Space Force Major Rhodan and his crew discover an abandoned extraterrestrial vessel and appropriating alien technology, artificial intelligence (positronic brains) and hyper drives, swiftly are able to unite the people of Earth and make humans a galactic presence. With increasingly complex arcs of narrative undertaken by a team of writers, action takes place in a multiverse of exotic aliens, cosmocrats and god-like beings. By coincidence, another beloved science-fiction franchise had its US premiere on the same day in 1966.