Sunday 26 November 2023

7x7 (11. 143)

sonic deconstructions: 1950s radio broadcaster’s album of Foley art, “Strange to Your Ears”  

onfim’s homework: a Wikipedia rabbit hole inspires an individual to get a tattoo of an eleventh century Novgorod pupil’s writings and illustrations discovered preserved on birch bark—via Hyperallergic’s Required Reading  

year in review: Time magazine’s one hundred top images of 2023—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links (lots more to explore here) 

amaterasu: scientists detect an ultra-high energy cosmic ray—the most powerful in thirty years of observation 

<!--: a collection of historic HTML innovations—see also  

kenough: the story of Denny Fouts, hustler and literary muse for Truman Capote, Gore Vidal and Christopher Isherwood  

pie hole: a silly twenty-year-old vocal exercise that holds up

Friday 17 November 2023

the streisand effect (11. 124)

US teens and young adults are not stanning (the term itself taken rather ironically from an Eminem rap song as a portmanteau of stalker and fan about a fictional encounter with an obsessed, ardent admirer whose pleas to get the artist’s attention turn desperate and deadly and this complex and unsavoury form of adulation has been simplified into shorthand for something short of support and mild interest) terrorist and al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden. Rather this supposed trend of discovery on the escapingly recent past through bin Laden’s Letter to America is a moral panic triangulated with an unrelenting attack on the TikTok platform for its virality and tenuous connections to the Chinese government and the war in Palestine and generational division, and raises serious questions about how we can (selectively) gauge shares and views and how exposure (propelled in part through censorship and timorous outrage) is different from indoctrination.

Sunday 15 October 2023

the battle of the chinese farm (11. 060)

Occurring this day in 1973 after Egyptian forces had advanced beyond the Israeli line of defence during the previous engagement, the Battle of the Sinai, ultimately repulsed but with Israel sustaining significant losses, the titular battlefield that marked a turning point in the Yom Kippur War was given the misnomer for an Egyptian agricultural research station equipped with Japanese-made technology and over the next two days managed to push Egyptian forces back across the Suez Canal in one of the deadliest and brutal clashes of the conflict. Plans for crossing and securing a corridor for re-supply and relief were considered too ambitious and exacting with deviations from the established dead-lines resulting in losses for the Israeli Defence Force, but the Egyptians girded the exposed flank of their forward division (as the IDF had hoped, misinterpreting their objective) and were cut of from re-enforcements, causing Egypt’s withdrawal from the Sinai and abandon its attempts to re-establish control over the peninsula.

queen of jazz (11. 059)

Having recently learned about the career and contributions of the Jazz Age legend Adelaide Hall, we appreciated having her biography limned more fully by the British Newspaper Archive (via Strange Company), gaining an appreciation of how Hall achieved the status of true superstardom in her adoptive UK and was remarkably resilient in her touring and performance schedule, appearing everywhere and adored by audiences. Spanning more than seven decades, Hall was inscribed inscribed in the Guinness Book of World Records among the most enduring recording artists and collaborated with Cab Calloway, Rudy Vallee, Duke Ellington, Josephine Baker and Louis Armstrong among countless others. Here is Hall in 1948 performing one of her signature songs, “A World is Turning,” at the Nightingale Club. More at the links above.

Saturday 7 October 2023

the third intifada (11. 043)

Nearly coinciding with the 1973 Yom Kippur War when a coalition of Arab states fought to retake the Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights territories occupied by Israel, the militant governing authority of Palestine, Hamas, together with other nationalists groups launched a large-scale surprise offensive against Israel from the Gaza Strip, breaking through barrier and crossing the Green Line, in the first such incursion since 1948 with a barrage of thousands of rockets and hostages taken. Declaring a state of war, Israel has retaliated in what may escalate into a regional conflict. The near complete blockade of Gaza in force since 2007 (when Hamas was elected to political power) and denial of statehood to Palestine or any meaningful form of self-determination, though commanding officers cite tensions that occurred six months earlier at the Temple Mount / al-Aqsa Compound in Jerusalem and under Israeli jurisdiction when Passover, Eastertide and Ramadan occurred all at the same time and Muslim worshippers were forcibly removed after clashes with police.

Friday 29 September 2023

lapse in appropriations (11. 030)

With the deadline looming and only hours left before a government shut-down (previously) looks more and more inevitable, continued in-fighting amongst Republican members in Congress sabotaged a bill sponsored by the Senate that would have have been a stop-gap measure, a continuing resolution, to keep the funded government and operational through mid-November. The Speakership in hock and the House of Representatives held ransom by a radical element willing to let the government run out of money, insistent on a thirty-percent across the board cut in budgets and halting aid to Ukraine. Despite a precariously narrow majority in Congress that cannot enforce its will (captivity to an arch-conservative, pandering wing notwithstanding) without compromise and concession, particularly in mixed jurisdiction (and again, gerrymandering that protects their seats notwithstanding), the GOP is refusing to negotiate and willing to force a crisis costly in terms of economics and repute that may prove difficult to resolve.


one year ago: the Mayak disaster (1957) 

two years ago: assorted links to revisit

three years ago: Star Trek tarot,  the Feast of the Archangels, the cartoons of R Cobb plus more links to revisit

four years ago: more Theremin maestros plus more Middle English vulgarities

five years ago: the Munich Agreement (1938) plus the Suprematism movement

Sunday 24 September 2023

10x10 (11. 020)

osiris-rex: fulfilling a seven-year mission (previously) a space probe to collect samples from an asteroid—with further adventures planned 

succession: Rupert Murdoch’s departure from News Corp is a cold-comfort for the millions brainwashed by Fox and Friends 

be the first to like this post: more on the meaning and origins of the chain of riders and horses dispatched to send missives—see previously  

project cybersyn: more on Salvadore Allende’s plans to build a socialist internet 

fanfare: the history and physics of the trumpet  

shear madness: 1980 reportage on a cutting-edge hair salon in Kensington  

the joke and dagger department: an appreciation of the genius of Spy vs Spy, a political cartoon that wasn’t a political cartoon 

3r’s: the Swedish educational system has a renewed emphasis on handwriting, quiet reading time  

omni consumer products: New York City police lease a robocop to patrol Times Square subway station as a trial run  

all these worlds are yours—except europa, attempt no landing there: the JWST detects carbon on the surface of the Jovian moon

Thursday 14 September 2023

motion to vacate (11. 001)

In the face of another US government shutdown over perceived cultural agendas, vacant military leadership roles by a single senator opposed to the armed forces providing reproductive care to service members and diminished deadlines over internecine posturing with bald majority of only a few party members, the beleaguered Speaker of the House whose appointment was conditional and easily unseated is making further concessions and pandering to the malcontents by pursuing an impeachment inquiry into the Biden administration, couching his justification in the belief that the president mislead the public about his family’s foreign business relations, with tinny and circumstantial echoes of the self-dealing of the Trump crime family syndicate. 

Conservative elements in the Republican Party want to oust McCarthy as leader for negotiating with Biden over the debt ceiling standoff and now the same group a threatening to force a government shutdown, unless a formal impeachment inquiry is launched—the GOP having wanted to eject Biden on any pretext since the election with the attack on the Capitol and the false narrative accompanying the vote, spurious lawsuits, the withdrawal from Afghanistan—which his predecessor also instigated, Biden’s handling of the immigration crisis but are now turning to old developments over unsubstantiated allegations that the president’s son used his father’s influence and position to secure wealth for himself (Trump was impeached the first time for badgering the Ukrainian president for dirt on Biden and his son, threatening to withhold military aid if Zelenskyy could not produce) to build a case, brought unilaterally by the Speaker himself since there are not the votes in support to bring the motion to the chamber.

storm daniel (11. 000)

First affecting Greece and Turkey with massive floods before reorganising itself as a low front over the Mediterranean and overwhelming dams and causing a catastrophic breach in the Lebanese port city of Derna, the cyclone forming in the Ionian sea has proved the deadliest and most expensive event of the year, only just now dissipating with tens of thousands of casualties and exponentially more displaced. A quarter of the the ancient city was washed away with entire neighbourhoods unaccounted for, seeming carried to the sea. The unconscionable scale of the disaster is attributed in part of years of neglected infrastructure maintenance under the regime of of Muammar Gaddafi followed by civil war but the extreme weather is also on account of the effects of runaway climate change.


one year ago: The Waltons (1972), spreading seeds plus an AI illustrated Bible

two years ago: assorted links to revisit plus rice harvest art

three years ago: one of the first laws enshrining freedom of the press (1770), explaining the year 2020 to someone from the past plus music to move by

four years ago: seeing the tarnish of the golden era plus RIP Eddie Money

five years ago: Trump downplays deaths in Hurricane Maria, a new Russian cathedral, Jimmy Carter Says Yes, more on calendar reforms plus Trump’s campaign manager in court

Friday 25 August 2023

the secret of the selenites (10. 964)

The first of a series of six articles published on this day in 1835 by the New York newspaper The Sun, blatantly plagiarised from a short story from Edgar Allen Poe began just a month prior in a literary journal though further instalments were pre-empted by the appearance of this series about a voyage to the lunar surface in a balloon, The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall (lifting some of the tropes in turn from The Adventures of Baron Munchausen), what became subsequently known as “The Great Moon Hoax,” rather libellously attributed to Sir Jon Herschel, one the great astronomers of the day, caused a not insignificant bump in circulation with its account on observations that revealed various selenographic features with terrestrial analogues and the existence of flora and fauna and lunarians—bat-winged humanoids described as “Vespertilio-homo.” Further studies were called off when the magnifying power of the telescope caught a glimpse of the sun’s rays and burned down the observatory. Herschel found the stories exciting and aspiration at first but became annoyed with the press coverage once people started to take it seriously.

Thursday 24 August 2023

elephant in the room (10. 961)

Beginning with counter-programming parallel to the actual televised Republican primary debate in the form of an interview with fired Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson and staging an encore the next day with his arrest and release on bail in Georgia that will surely negate the spectacle and grandstanding, Trump was conspicuously absent from this quorum of contenders, carefully vying for cabinet positions yet haunted the pundits and hopefuls who could focus their attacks on a surrogate, political outsider and Trump apologist in the form of businessman Vivek Ramaswamy—described by Fox hosts as a “skinny guy with a funny last name,” exactly the same words used for Barack Obama. While not a forgone conclusion, Trump calculated sitting out this debate would be to his advantage, leading the polls for the GOP nominee by a compelling majority, with his major rival, Florida governor and cultural-crusader DeSantis seeming much diminished in this forum. And while the split-screen seemed not garner the attention wanted or expected, all but one of the candidates pledged (albeit meekly) to support Trump for re-election should he be convicted on one or all of his four indictments and ninety-one criminal charges and no one on stage really addressed policy but rather personality and credentials.


one year ago:  assorted links to revisit plus the party’s response to the 1991 attempted coup in the Soviet Union

two years ago: more links to enjoy, ant architecture plus Bohemian Rhapsody (1975)

three years ago: cocktails for on-line courses, the International Garden PoTY plus vintage Soviet pop

four years ago: a sorceress’ trove found in Pompeii 

five years ago: Kalashnikov makes an electric vehicle,  a White House press briefing, drought in Europe reveals ominous Hunger Stones plus one community’s fight to keep a fast food giant at bay

Wednesday 23 August 2023

rosaviatsiya (10. 960)

Unsurprisingly given the series of defenestrations and accidents involving those critical of the Russian government and how the mercenary chief signed his own death warrant and was living on bored time with an aborted coup—angry with the direction that the invasion of Ukraine had taken and his march on Moscow halted, charges of treason in exchange for disbanding the Wagner Group and exile to Belarus, the crash of a private jet travelling from the capital to St Petersburg was still a chilling reminder of Putin’s vengeance and a stark warning to the opposition. The civil aviation authority immediately reported that Yevgeny Prigozhin was on the manifest of the flight and that he and nine others (among those other senior leadership from the private army) on board were dead—though it is still unclear what exactly has transpired. Putin, in South Africa attending a BRICS conference, has not yet responded to the news. Mr Prigozhin, related to the summit of emerging world economies, recently produced a recruitment video for soldiers of fortune on the continent.

Friday 11 August 2023

riverfront brawl (10. 936)

We are directed to a circumspect reflection on the ugly racism on display in Montgomery, Alabama and the social media response that demonstrates that Black Twitter is irrepressible no matter how it’s rebranded over a group of white people shamefully accosting a riverboat captain asking that the partygoers of a pontoon move their vessel so they could dock in its assigned space. One individual came to the rescue with a folding chair, invented by a Black man called Nathaniel Alexander patented in 1911 for use in auditoriums, churches and schools and other places where “considerable sitting is done.” Be sure to watch the outro for Good Times and other associated memes at the links above. Dynomite!

content pruning (10. 935)

Via Waxy, we learn that the venerable, global publisher of reviews and news on consumer electronics CNET is culling thousands of older articles in a possibly misguided attempt to improve its SEO rates and game Google search performance. Following developments that the media outlet—like many others—is cutting writing staff and turning increasingly to generative content, CNET believes that it is being penalised in the contemporary web ecosystem by hanging on to dated articles and would better appeal to search-engines by refreshing or deaccessioning “depreciated” stories. Once deemed irrelevant, older content will be no longer live on the site but rather archived and available on the Wayback Machine. Google itself—famously obscure about how the algorithm for optimisation works so one cannot game the results any more than they are by catch-penny operations—recommends against this practise and that of course older articles as a matter of public record have value and any attempts to game a platform that’s just as opaque and inscrutable to its own handlers is probably a losing proposition. Let’s hope that this sort of gamble doesn’t inspire the same from other organisation, putting more pressure on under-supported operations like the Internet Archive or worse yet just jettisoning old stories. We dredge up the old, outdated and cringe-worth on a daily basis and might not be the most relevant or flattering but it’s sometimes an interesting insight into a small part of the Zeitgeist. 


one year ago: C’est Chic plus the FBI searches the private residence of Donald Trump

two years ago: Ghostbusters! plus assorted links to revisit 

three years ago: more links to check out, scales of cosmological magnitude plus the start of the Mayan Long Count Calendar

four years ago: Clair the Obscure, the maps of Dan Mills plus lousy souvenirs from ancient times

five years ago: training birds to pick up litter, Vitis vinifera, the Marquess of Anglesey plus Robert G Ingersoll and the Free-Thinkers


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.

Tuesday 11 July 2023

operation sober popeye (10. 872)

Also known under the codenames Motorpool and Intermediary-Compatriot and repudiated as an unacceptable tactic in warfare after leaks in the Pentagon Papers and unwelcome press coverage with a US Senate resolution passed on this day in 1973, the military cloud-seeding program carried out from 1967 to 1972 attempted chemical modification of the weather with the aim of extending monsoon seasons and disrupting the North Vietnamese supply-chain along the Ho Chi Minh Trail by soften road surfaces and causing landslides. Operations in secret extended over Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. Despite its highly classified nature, the 54th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, the unit chiefly responsible for the tests, publicly and prominently used the slogan “make mud, not war.” The American people deciding that such measures had no place on the battlefield, weather disruption falls presently under the auspices of the Environmental Modification Convention.  


one year ago: the Hollywood Bowl (1922), Avogadro’s Number (1811) plus Fischer v Spassky (1972)

two years ago: Fleetwood Mac by Fleetwood Mac (1975) plus a megalithic stone ship in Sweden

three years ago: a visit to the Ehrenburg on the Ehrbach

four years ago: a delayed release of “Space Oddity” (1969), the uncontrolled deorbit of Skylab (1979) plus France approves a digital services tax scheme

five years ago: a collection of samurai clan banners, a disclaimer on social media that comes too late, America’s garbage politicians sit for a family photos plus Trump attends a NATO summit

Saturday 8 July 2023

content moderation (10. 868)

With the recent onslaught of US supreme course cases leaving us a little overwhelmed, it was difficult to unpack this coda in the form of an injunction imposed by a district judge in Louisiana (another Trump appointee) against federal agencies from communicating with social media. Under appeal, the temporary ruling bars the government from working with Facebook and others to redress posts hosted that propagate false claims that could undermine public confidence in matters of health and election integrity and could seriously curtail the ability to fact-check and steer the narrative away from conspiracy theories and unfounded claims in the upcoming presidential election. Pitting fighting disinformation for public safety against “free speech” and the grievance of some conservative elements have for social media’s bias against them, the suit claims that the government overstepped its bounds by rallying to deplatform posts that questioned the risk or origin of COVID (emboldened by the concession it might have come from a Chinese laboratory), the efficacy of protective measures or whether the Biden administration is legitimate, competent departments including the press secretary, Justice, the FBI and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention are barred from reaching out directly to platforms or engaging with third-parties who research the effects of media on public perception. Though unclear how accustomed government agencies were with accessing social media in the past (and the ruling does at least promise to reveal the scope and regularity of contact), it does seem clear that a blanket restriction will limit the government’s ability to shape the narrative and combat disinformation and will bear heavily on the 2024 presidential race.

Monday 3 July 2023

9x9 (10. 853)

lost animals: a short story by Geoff Manaugh who exorcises haunted houses with mundane equipment  

clippit: discontinued Microsoft Office Assistant resurrected as a ChatGPT add-on—see previously  

space10: IKEA reimagines a line of flatware encouraging the use of abundant, locally sourced materials—see also 

all-domain anomaly resolution office: newspapers of record passed on the bombshell story of US government programme to reverse-engineer captured extraterrestrial technology—via Slashdot 

i do not want my name to be a thing: John Hancock explains his outsized signature on the Declaration of Independence—see also 

duty to bargain: Google joins Meta in pulling its headline aggregators from Canada over the so called “link tax” 

not to put too fine a point on it: the origins of a selection of hackneyed idioms 

the ganzfeld procedure: a cheap, easy and effective sensory-deprivation technique

short fiction: six-word sci-fi prompts

Saturday 1 July 2023

amtsblatt (10. 848)

Fresh off the announcement that National Geographic has let go its remaining staff writers after a storied history of one hundred thirty five years and is veering to a glossy legacy publication cobbled together from Wikipedia posts edited by freelancers, we learn also via Boing Boing, that after two republics, ten emperors and three hundred and twenty years of daily reportage, the Wiener Zeitung will end its print edition and severely reduce its operations to online, monthly reviews. Until yesterday the oldest still published newspaper in the world, was the official record of the government of Austria (founded in 1703 as the Wiennerisches Diarium and in 1857 nationalised by Franz Joseph I), a gazette publishing notices of the passage of laws and executive orders, but had editorial independence and featured stories of local and international interest and had a robust circulations in the tens of thousands. Meanwhile the Wiener Zeitung will establish a media hub for aggregating content and training journalist, prompting street protests in Vienna in response to the government’s decision to stop publication.


one year ago: one time collaborator turned critic priest Walter Niemรถller (author of “First They Came”) arrested by the Nazis (1937) plus the opening of the newly devolved Scottish Parliament (1999) 

two years ago: Tell Me You Love Me Junie Moon (1970), the bizarre sequel to 101 Dalmatians, assorted links to revisit, “The Message” by Grand Master Flash (1982) plus the holdings of the Vatican Library

three years ago: slavery abolished in the Dutch Antilles (1863), reforms to Hong Kong’s Basic Law, a new American Gothic, safeguarding statues plus license plates in Palau

four years ago: Denmark legalises pornography (1969), moving day in Quebec, assorted links to revisit, Lights at Sea plus the Coffer Illusion

Thursday 29 June 2023

captain planet, arab spring, la riots, rodney king (10. 844)

Quite a meaningful reflection at the time though the artist—vis-a-vis “57 Channels and Nothing’s Ondidn’t think much of its composition at the time other than a realisation of turning forty, Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” which covered a litany of events of note and circumstance from 1949 to 1989 has been remade to highlight anachronistically (to preserve the rhyme scheme) moments from 1989 on. What else do I have to say? While perhaps speaking to later generations who have also lived through a lot, this version from Fall Out Boy is a bit infuriating. What do you think? Oklahoma City bomb, Kurt Cobain, Pokรฉmon, Crimean Peninsula, Cambridge Anaylica, Kim Jong Un.