Friday 31 May 2024

dalรญ atomicus (11. 596)

Via Strange Company, we enjoyed seeing the outtakes and creative process behind the 1948 surreal photograph taken after at least twenty-six attempts by Philippe Halsman and later published in Life magazine (see previously). The collaboration, one of many over decades of working together and complementing one another’s media, was instigated over his four year project of the Leda Atomica, the painting seen in the background, which dealt with ideas of suspension, repulsion and cohesion and reflected the Zeitgeist of the Nuclear Age. There was a countdown to coordinate the composition—on three, assistants threw the cats and buckets of water and on four, Dalรญ was to jump. After each take until both were satisfied, Halsman entered the darkroom to develop the film while the cats were collected and dried off.

 synchronoptica

one year ago: a spy whale

two years ago: an optical illusion plus assorted links to revisit

three years ago: visualising marine traffic, Funky Town (1980), St Elizabeth plus the US Armed Forces Network Europe

four years ago: a US national protest map plus The Mythological Astronomy in Three Parts

five years ago: more punitive tariffs from Trump

Monday 27 May 2024

9x9 (11. 585)

super easy, barely an inconvenience: if cats had podcasts  

minor arcana: a metaphysically intelligent™️ tarot reading—via Web Curios  

fleeting moments: a concept camera that only delivers ephemeral poetry based on the subject in the view-finder—via Clive Thompson’s Linkfest  

the ghana must go: as ubiquitous as the IKEA bag but more practical, this tartan sack from Japan by way of Hong Kong contains multitudes  

god’s influencer: following a second miracle attributed to his intercession, the first Millennial saint is canonised  

atlas shrugged: AI-apocalypse Jennifer Lopez vehicle from James Cameron garners negative reviews but we found it enjoyable—going in blindly and wondering if it wasn’t part of the Duneiverse and setting up the Butlerian Jihad 

long averages: advances in the understanding of probability fuelling casino gambling—via Damn Interesting  

planchettes and re-enchantment: LLMs are haunted things toc-cat-a in b-major: Noam Oxman personalised musical pet portraits—via Waxy

 synchronoptica

one year ago:  a portrait of a dog, Berlin’s Mouse Bunker, a study of incomplete cubes plus men and women duelling in the Middle Ages

two years ago: a pact between NATO and Russia (1997), a dragon in Essex plus assorted links worth revisiting

three years ago: mojibake, font sizes, the Golden Gate Bridge (1937), relocating geese plus Dune manga

four years ago: more links to enjoy, a rock-climbing inspection, weasel iconography plus Trump 2.0 would be far more fraught

five years ago: getting around in Swiss Saxony

Saturday 13 April 2024

national treasures (11. 486)

The government of president Andrรฉs Manuel Lรณpez Obrador has declared a clowder of nineteen feral cats that have free range of the palatial executive complex grounds to be “living fixed assets”—part of the furniture like the official mouser of 10 Downing Street—but the first animals to be bestowed with the investment term that obligates the country’s treasury to feed and care for them for the rest of their lives. With no area off limits to the gatos palicios and the felines often making cameos during press conferences and escorting staff and visitors, they have become a symbol associated with the presidency and beloved by tourists—but one suspects that the population, especially after this development, won’t stay at this level for long.

Monday 18 March 2024

7x7 (11. 435)

deadwooding: Banksy acknowledges authorship of a new mural bringing back some greenery to an aggressive prune tree in Finsbury Park  

subspace: an ultra high-definition video of a cat chasing a laser-pointer was beamed over thirty million kilometres to improve future video calls to the Moon and Mars 

running-stitch: beautiful embroidered portraits from Karola Pezarro  

deadspin: more on the internet’s undead, reanimated by private equity and name recognition—see previously, see more  

bunga bunga: Italy’s Foreign Press Association to move into former home of Silvio Berlusconi, who famously disparaged reporters as Communists  

honeytrap: Aphra Behn’s intersecting careers as a professional writer and spy  

sequoiadendron giganteum: imported by the Victorians as status symbols, Giant Redwoods (see also) are thriving in the UK at more than half-a-million and growing

Saturday 17 February 2024

8x8 (11. 358)

compound interest: Trump’s accumulated lawsuits amount to over half a billion dollars  

vivi o preferibilmente morti: Poseidon’s Underworld reviews a 1969 Spaghetti Western  

epistolary doll: Kafka, a little girl and her beloved, lost toy—via the New Shelton wet/dry 

the wonderful night of hercules brown: a 1968 short film guiding a young boy through his dreams with the help of muppets and puppets 

millions of cats: Wanda Hazel Gรกg’s 1928 children’s book—the oldest American title still in print  

leaning toward more grasshopper, less ant: raising children on the eve of the AI revolution—via tmn  

hero’s journey: a video poking fun at the tropes and archetypes of found in every epic quest—see previously  

never surrender high-tops: Trump launches gold trainers line, goes public with his social network in order to earn cash to pay for his legal judgments—see previously

Tuesday 6 February 2024

8x8 (11. 328)

the scholar & his cat: a resonant ninth century reflection by Pangur Bรกn 

bring your own beach owl: mimicry and semi-automated genre fiction—via Kottke  

riverwalk: a one kilometre-long museum that undulates with the reservoir it crosses in Shandong province

steelmaster: a 1966 office furniture catalogue  

television stone: the unique optical properties of the mineral ulexite 

๐Ÿ›‹️: the Eames Archive open to the public—see previously 

vesuvius challenge: a trio of researchers share the honorarium for deciphering charred scrolls from Herculaneum with the help of AI  

ombre: Alexander Pope’s card game

synchronoptica

one year ago: Facebook’s social engineering experiments plus a ska version of the Tetris theme

two years ago: multiple zoom maps, Computerwelt, Sesame Street light jazz plus assorted links to revisit

three years ago: quotation marks, Zardoz (1974), more links to enjoy, the founding of Liberia, I Ching in melting snow plus barbarian tongues

four years ago: Deciminisation Days, Trump acquitted, classical architecture plus photographer Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore

five years ago: Anguilla independence, the Irish border, dress uniforms plus Orson Welles on creeping intolerance

Saturday 20 January 2024

dropcat (11. 282)

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

Friday 22 December 2023

copycat (11. 205)

Born on this day in 2001, the product of a collaboration between researchers at Texas A&M (Agricultural and Mechanical College) University and Genetic Savings & Clone, Inc, a brown tabby kitten called CC was the world’s first clone pet. A demonstration project to see if it was commercially viable and safe, CC—pictured with her genetic donor, Rainbow (bottom centre), displays an interesting discrepancy in the calico pattern due to random differences in tortoiseshell phenotypes from epigenetic re-programming on implantation (having dispensed with the usual determinants of fertilisation), lived a healthy and happy life, a perfectly normal feline giving birth to her own litter of kittens in 2006, dying aged eighteen years in March of 2020, still residing in the laboratory in College Station with her human caretakers.

Friday 15 September 2023

9x9 (11. 002)

you deserve to sit: a comedian’s silly song about their favourite inactivity  

๐Ÿ˜ธ: visit a random feline friend featured on Wikipedia—via Pasa Bon!  

& let it stonde .1. nyght or .2.: a medieval recipe for mead  

montage: the animated collages of Alice Issac  

shrinkflation: a French supermarket chain displaying advisory labels to alert consumers 

word alienation and semantic satiation: one of the laureates of the thirty-third Ig Noble Awards—see also here and here  

consult our extensive archives: veteran broadcaster—and BBC’s first podcaster, Melvyn Bragg celebrates one thousand episodes  

pagliacci: a pizza chef turns melodramatic over a cursed request

synchronoptica 

one year ago: Our Lady of Sorrows plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: forest mascots (1971) plus a Star Trek: TAS classic

three years ago: more Trek with “Amok Time,” illustrations from the children of Charles Darwin, rousing public sentiment following the Gunpowder Plot, life signs on Venus plus a COVID movie-night

four years ago: more on Jupiter’s moons, a hot Colonel Sanders, public crucifixes, Lovecraft in the style of Dr Seuss plus Graphis Press

five years ago: an AI names apples, the Ig Noble Awards, the Great Recession’s Lost Decade plus legalising marijuana confounded by travel regulations

Saturday 19 August 2023

8x8 (10. 951)

egress: the oldest door in Britain, a side-entrance to Westminister Abbey—via Strange Company  

hold on to my fur: another collaboration with the Kiffness—this time with a talkative orange cat from China  

isokon estate: Lawn Road Flats housed those displaced by WWII and its share of espionage  

i want to believe: vintage UFO photos taken by Eduard Albert “Billy” Meier in Switzerland in the mid-70s made iconic when featured on the X-Files up for auction—via Things Magazine 

meow-practise: a limited-run series in the tradition of American day-time soap opera classics like General Hospital and All My Children but with a feline twist   

countdown: both Russia and India have Moon missions next week with the goal of being the first to reach the lunar south pole—via Super Punch  

no dark sarcasm in the classroom: impressively, researchers recreate Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” by analysing listeners’ brain scans but we wonder—like in the above duet—there isn’t an element of backmasking and suggestion—via Kottke  

ingress: the oldest known cat door at Exeter Cathedra

synchroptica

one year ago: the daguerrotype process is gifted to the world (1839) 

two years ago: the Ninety-Five Theses as an email, the Treaty of Rawalpindi (1919) plus the Lithuanian sun goddess

three years ago: the launch of Sputnik 2 (1960) plus the album cover art of Milton Glaser

four years ago: more Brexit omnishambles plus the Pan-European Picnic of 1989

five years ago: assorted links to revisit

Sunday 6 August 2023

i don’t listen hard—i don’t pay attention to the distance that you’re running (10. 928)

Originally conceived in 1990 with the intent of selling it to Hall and Oates for an anthology album, “Stay” (I Missed You) by Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories (named after the J D Salinger collection of short fiction) as the lead single from the Reality Bites soundtrack—included in the scoring after neighbour and friend Ethan Hawke heard the song and recommended it to the film’s director Ben Stiller—began a three-week run at number one on the US charts on this day in 1994. The below accompanying music video, that completes the piece’s status as an artefact of a very specific time—running over the movie’s end credits—was shot in Loeb’s New York apartment and features Hawke’s cat, Mardot, who also directed the video.  So I turned the radio on—I turned the radio up.

synchronoptica

one year ago: the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire (1806) plus assorted links to enjoy

two years ago: Klaus Nomi, the banners of the Akan people, Olympic trivia plus unworthy subjects

three years ago: more street photographyanime Spongebob plus some poorly translated Latin

four years ago: a Martian meteorite, highly agglutinative languages plus more on endlings, the last of their kind

five years ago: more links worthy of a revisit, the US Voting Rights Act (1965), Japanese terms for rain plus more computer cameos

Wednesday 28 June 2023

10x10 (10. 840)

⚫️ ⚫️ ⚫️ ⚫️ ⚫️ ⚫️ ⚫️ ⚫️ ⚫️ ⚫️: Neal Fun’s (previously) infuriating password game  

ceiling cat: the European Souther Observatory in the Chilean mountains discovered a feline nebula

bad odds: wagering on climate change to bring the danger and risk to present and personal 

backstage: newsletters (from 1962 to 1980) published for Disneyland crew members, scanned in full—via Super Punch  

homage to magritte: a 1974 tribute in five vignettes to the Surrealist artist 

independent legislature theory: US Supreme Court strikes down suit that would cut checks and balances and judicial review of laws passed 

monkey bars: the first jungle gym (see previously) was built in hopes of teaching children about three-dimensional space and Cartesian coordinates 

magma: mining volcanoes could provide a more ecologically-friendly way to extract metals  

power of ten: NASA’s coding commandments focused on testability, readability and predictability that keeps critical systems safe and running in outer space  

goodnight phone: an interactive web comic for our shared present—via tmn

synchronoptica 

one year ago: assorted links to revisit plus a surprise session of the January Sixth hearings on the US Capitol Insurrections

two years ago: body language, the UN International Criminal Court (1993), Miss Continuous Towel and other spokesmodels plus Pitman shorthand

three years ago: a corporate typeface, a performative masculine simulator game, Martian meteors plus cataloguing one’s possessions

four years ago: the Stonewall Riots (1969), surveying Titan plus bringing back the chestnut tree

five years ago: Paul Simon on Sesame Street, silent cooking videos, assorted links to revisit plus combating fake product reviews

Wednesday 21 June 2023

8x8 (10. 825)

the restaurant of mistaken orders: a pop-up establishment in Japan serves a lesson in compassion along with its dishes  

specimens of fancy turning: these late nineteenth century lathe patterns look like spirographs 

dwarf fortress: an interview with the author of 50 Years of Text Gamessee previously 

mercurial: more on the found and lost planet Vulcan  

monk parakeets: over a decade living in Wiesbaden, these invasive birds went from rare, doubtful sightings to absolute flocks  

area sacra: assassination site of Caesar and since taken over by semi-feral cats opening to the public 

รฑ: the origins of the letter with a diacritical tilde  

evergreen appeal: once considered dire sustenance only, pine-based cuisine in Nordic countries is becoming fine-dining

Thursday 18 May 2023

6x6 (10. 749)

unartificial: city of Vienna is using AI feline-added artwork to promote its inspiration—via Miss Cellania  

paved paradise: the American obsession with car storage and its attendant ills  

world police: US military bases around the globe—see previously here and here 

sour grapes: the art of the sulk as a form of indirect communication and social-leveller  

bakerloo line: an incredible schematic of the Piccadilly Circus under- and overground by Renzo Picasso—see previously 

uhohlingo: a AI that generates language learning lessons—and tends to be notoriously wrong

Friday 17 March 2023

9x9 (10. 614)

telegeography: the current map of submarine cables connecting the world  

blogoversary: a belated birthday greeting to Fancy Notions 

rightish: Microsoft touts AI’s factual errors as “usefully wrong”  

goldenes buch: German communities’ official, historic guest logs are a chronicle of the times and Zeitzeugnisse  

media matters: if journalists cannot call out propaganda—what’s even the the point of coverage—via Kottke  

gว’utรณu mฤo nรญng—literally dog’s head, cat’s meow: cute Chinese animal transcriptions for English salutations  

seoul ring: the world’s largest spokeless ferris wheel being built in South Korea  

linkrot: more thoughts on three broken links and internet conservation  

mappa mundi: the thirteenth century chart of the mundane and exalted—see previously

Saturday 18 February 2023

8x8 (10. 555)

konekon no rakugaki: an imaginative 1957 cartoon from the studios that would become Toei Animation  

the riddle of today: Nelson Riddle’s “Sunshine Superman” and other tracks 

the six-triple-eight: the WWII all Black, all female postal battalion—via Strange Company  

the remorse of professor panebianco: a selection of short fiction one can read from its annals for the centenary (today) of Weird Tales—see previously  

ai mirror test: misattributing software for sentience to review before exploring this two-hour conversation with a robot interlocutor—via Waxy  

80s cold war techno thriller: the trailer for a Tetris movie—see previously, see also  

secondhand songs: an exploration of original versions upstaged by later covers—via the Awesomer  

my green crocodile: a 1966 stop-motion Soyuzmultfilm

Friday 3 February 2023

6x6 (10. 519)

good boy: a thirty year old dog in Portugal beats a century-old record for oldest in the world  

bb-8: a small security robot that rolls about the premises  

eternity’s pillar: late night variety show produced by Turiyasan-gitananda—see previously  

studio fong leng: a look at the Dutch fashion designer who dressed Kate Bush and socialite Mathilde Willink  

can’t do hands: an atrocious sign language guide imaged by an AI—see previously  

catgpt: a feline version of the scarily smart chat bot—via Waxy

Tuesday 24 January 2023

8x8 (10. 495)

super 8: Kodak background orchestral ensemble for home movies (1961) would make a good soundtrack for any clip  

memory hole: unearthing—with surprising difficulty—an iconic, defining moment of 90s US political pop culture  

the fourth plinth: what becomes of statuary exhibited temporarily in Trafalgar Square—via Things Magazine  

whw: an interview with the ousted Kunsthalle collective who wanted to showcase all sides of Vienna  

poissons de diverses couleurs et figures extraordinaires: exquisite disco fish (1719)  

geyser relays: a rather pie-in-the-sky proposal for irrigation using a series of water canons  

parade route: revisiting the would-be arrival and presentation of Ganda the Rhinoceros  

sympawny № 4: a short arrangement to pay tribute to a beloved cat

Tuesday 13 December 2022

9x9 (10. 381)

deep field: JWST scans the skies  

mar1d: in-game action as our protagonist would experience the Mushroom Kingdom—like Flatland—via Kottke  

ny๐ŸŒณ: the City’s popular tree map updated to include a hundred thousand park residents—via Map Room  

even a cat can look at the queen: an exhibition of fine feline art 

tumbleword: a daily challenge from Jer Thorp—via Waxy  

math and the mechanics: the surprising origin story of the Cura Calculator 

cervoise: brewer informed by ancient herbal and unhopped beer predecessor  

world in motion: New Order’s 1990 World Cup anthem—via Digg  

splash down: Artemis’ Orion capsule (previously) returns after a perfectly executed trial run

Tuesday 29 November 2022

quantum superimposition (10. 343)

Devised by Erwin Schrรถdinger with interlocutor Albert Einstein as a thought experiment and refined and published on this day in 1935 in the monthly journal Naturwissenschaften (The Science of Nature), a hypothetical feline is suspended between life and death—both simultaneously—its fate linked to a random and subatomic change that may or may not happen. Motivated to point out the counterintuitive and paradoxical nature of the prevailing theory, called the Copenhagen Interpretation that holds that a quantum system (an atom or a photon that can act both like a particle or like a wave) remains in a state of being added together until it interacts with or is observed by the external world. Although intended as a rebuke of the current understanding of quantum mechanics, others have extended this idea of alive-dead cat as a manifestation of the effects of vanishingly small changes on a macroscopic Cosmos and construe from it the Many-Worlds (alternate realities) interpretation application of the branch of physics. It is a matter of fundamental debate whether measurement or observation causes such a juncture to collapse into one state or another or both continue to exist but are decoherent from each other, splitting into separate universes. A “cat state” has been produced in the laboratory for short periods on collections of electrons and ions as well as in quantum computing.