Thursday 13 June 2024

via fittizia (11. 627)

While we’ve encountered before other outreach efforts to provide the unhoused with proper, proxy addresses for purposes of applying for jobs, assistance and bank accounts, we did not know about the Italian civil registry, first developed following the Risorgimento (see previously), to tie people to their newly unified territories for purposes of tax-collection and funding and parliamentary representation based on per capita. During the post-war period, the fictitious streets remained as a way for refugees and people who travelled and with no fixed address to sign up for municipal services and currently is mostly used by the homeless as their official, though virtual domicile. All large Italian cities have such invisible streets to make those in precarious situations once again seen, many being named in honour of their most famous residents, but some communities, already under financial strain, are avoiding building (the opposite of a trap-street and not on any map) vie fittizie for fear of attracting individuals needing social assistance. More from Atlas Obscura at the link above.

Wednesday 24 April 2024

graphical symbols for use on equipment (11. 512)

Via Present /&/ Correct, we are directed to the International Organisation for Standardisation’s (ISO, see also) Online Browsing Platform (OBP) that publishes an annual catalogue of pictograms and other deliverables (coordinates, vocabulary, terminology, industry norms) for manufacturers and municipalities to license (most, however, have been made freely available to the public) commercially for a nominal fee. The annex of ISO 7000 is a registry of systematised and universal icons appearing on machine parts, cables and consoles with different subcategories covering building construction, surgical instruments and implants, woodworking, fishmeal and identification documents.

Friday 16 June 2023

omrlp (10. 810)

Founded on this day in 1982 as an alternative, satirisation of British politics and the party system to offer an outlet for protest voters, the recognised and sanctioned candidacy founded by horror-rock performer David Sutch—known better as Screaming Lord Sutch—the Official Monster Raving Loony grew out of a trialled political movement (also established by Sutch two decades earlier) called the National Teenage Party, at a time when the age of majority was twenty-one and younger adults were denied the franchise against a backdrop of scandal that questioned the maturity level and seriously strained the credulity of leaders, having decided to return to the UK after living in the States, being held-up at gunpoint and shot during a mugging and inspired to re-enter domestic politics, standing in the following by-election in the constituency of Bermondsey of South London. Fielded serially until 1999, the party leadership was shared between co-founder, publican and first candidate Howling Laud Hope and his feline companion Catmando and campaigned on platforms including abolishing income-tax as a holdover from the Napoleonic Wars, passports for pets (adopted), expanded opening hours for pubs (adopted), votes for sixteen-year-olds (adopted in Scotland and Wales for certain ballots), minting a ninety-nine pence coin, and a roving Parliament to bring it outside its bubble. Though having not yet passed the threshold of five-percent in a general election, the party has won in contests in Devon, becoming councillors and mayors, out performing others such as UKIP, taking an ostensibly neutral stand on Brexit and advising voters “to vote as they see fit.” Unaffiliated originally yet subsequently allied, Lord Buckethead famously ran against Margaret Thatcher in 1987, returning in 2017 to compete with Theresa May as MP for Maidenhead and in 2019’s General Election, against Boris Johnson as OMLRP’s candidate.

Wednesday 17 August 2022

6x6 (10. 068)

two trees of valinor: an assortment of keyboards in the languages of Middle Earth 

i have, may it please the court, a few words to say: the final address from abolitionist John Brown  

flexi disc: a profile on the mass-market vinyl alternative that bypassed sanctions (see also)  

wimps, pbh: primordial black holes may account for the missing mass of dark matter in the Cosmos 

tribal sovereignty: Irish customs accepts Native American, Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) passports—rejected elsewhere  

misty mountains: LOTR: The Rings of Power prequel to preview

Tuesday 5 July 2022


First issued on this day in 1922 under sanction of the League of Nations—and officially designated as passports for stateless persons but quickly became popularly known for their chief champion, polar explorer, polymath and statesman Fridtjof Nansen (previously)—these travel documents were a way of mitigating the turmoil in Europe after World War I which lead to a crisis of displaced persons, refugees resulting from the overthrow of governments, redrawn national boundaries, and advanced ultimately by the announcement by the newly constituted Soviet Union that it would be revoking the citizenship of Russians residing abroad—applying also to the nearly one-million individuals who fled during the civil war. Two years later, Nansen in his role at the League of Nations as High Commissioner for Refugees (earning him a Nobel Peace Prize), expanded the arrangement tto include former areas of the Ottoman Empire and help Armenian and Turkish migrants. While issuance halted in 1938, under the auspices of the United Nations certificates of identity and refugee travel documents continue to be a necessity. Notable bearers of Nansen passports include Igor Stravinsky, Elvis Presley’s agent Colonel Tom Parker, shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, Marc Chagall and Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Thursday 27 January 2022


i just think they’re neat: an orchestral ballad extolling the qualities of the tuber—via Pasa Bon! 

pulsar: a mysterious, suspected white dwarf star called GLEAML-X is far more energetic than physically possible  

eurhythmics: the greatest music teacher of the twentieth century, Nadia Boulanger whose pupils included Igor Stravinsky and Quincy Jones  

nu descendant un escalier № 2: the Marcel Duchamp research portal  

great green wall: an ongoing project to grow a corridor of trees across Africa 

meta-maps: gazetteers that interpret atlases from the collection of David Rumsey 

 bande dessinรฉe: Belgium’s new passport design pays homage to the country’s comic artists  

fire sale: a curious inventory of lots for sale with the closure of the Drury Lane theatre  

his father’s eyes: a giant New Zealand potato, Dug, is subjected to genetic-testing for proof that it is a tuber

Saturday 31 October 2020

nos sumus una familia

Declaring its independence on this day in 1977, residents of a triangle of streets in Notting Dale, West London formed the Free Independent Republic of Frestonia, inspired by Freetown Christiania in Copenhagen and the comedy Passport to Pimlico—putting the matter to a referendum with an overwhelming majority in favour of secession and many of those further advocating joining the European Economic Community.
Learning that the city council had designs on redeveloping the neighbourhood, the community of artists and squatters originally tried as a whole adopting the same surname (we are all one family, like the motto above)—Bramley, one of the roads forming the border of the micronation (see previously), so the city would be compelled to re-house them collectively, though that ploy failed. Lasting until 1982, the fully-functional state dissolved once an acceptable deal was reached with the developers—though not to everyone’s satisfaction. Architecturally, the art gallery The People’s Hall is all that remains from the days of independence—which also served as recording, rehearsal studios for The Clash and Motรถrhead. More to explore from Weird Universe at the link above.

Saturday 21 March 2020


Amid all the other tragedy and chaos happening around the world, it’s not unsurprising that the headline was buried that yesterday the US government not only curtailed the service commitments of its over seven thousand volunteers abroad in some of the most desperately poor places around the world—along with academics studying overseas as Fulbright scholars—and is repatriating them with little to none transit or logistical support, the Peace Corps (founded 1 March 1961 by the Kennedy administration to help the developing world and fight against Ugly American and neo-imperialism stereotypes) is making those displaced and uprooted (and potentially contagious) helpers redundant, dismissed without benefits and ineligible in most cases as their relationship with the agency does not rise to the level of employee and employer to apply for assistance and compensation. Not only are they being force to leave their adopted homes at a time of peril when the host communities that they serve needs them, they find themselves forcibly returned (those choosing to stay would face a field termination and have their official passport stripped from them) ahead of schedule to a country in dire crisis without a job or purpose when the prospects of securing either seems untenable.

Thursday 16 May 2019

vienna convention

In a move that seems particularly American and symptomatic of its McWorld mentality, US citizens travelling in Austria who’ve lost their passport or are otherwise distressed may seek out consular services and relief at any one of the country’s nearly two hundred McDonald’s franchises.
Fast food staff, thanks to a deal reached between the company and the US State Department, will have a special hotline to reach the Embassy to relay emergencies and seek resolution. A spokesperson for the US Mission says that this partnership is not in lieu of a fully staffed and trained diplomatic corps and is in fact increasing access to the embassy by distributing services throughout the country, choosing McDonald’s for this pilot programme because of its geographic spread, after-hours staffing and familiarity to Americans.

Monday 28 January 2019


marenostrum: deconsecrated church in Barcelona houses Catalonia Polytech’s super computer

el helicoide: the dreadful-excellence of Caracas’ space age intelligence services headquarters turned into a sprawling prison complex

ectoplasm: nothing is prepared for the overwhelming slime of the hagfish

love you: we face our first Valentine’s Day bereft of classic Sweethearts candy, the company having folded back in July

accumulus nimbus: a gallery of skies and cloudscapes from arcade games, via Present /&/ Correct

visa-free score: limits of roaming without a passport and other quirks of international travel 

Thursday 24 January 2019

e mare libertas

We’ve had a passing acquaintance with the Principality of Sealand, one of the constellation of micronations whose territory consists of a disused anti-aircraft platform off of the coast of Suffolk, for a few years and even knew of the coup d’รฉtat and the power struggles, but we sorely failed to appreciate the outsized intrigues (recommended by Digg) that this rather long-lived, tiny princely state has experienced—with the overthrow and leadership in exile being a far more dramatic and stranger story than we had supposed.
In addition to this singular offensive, the micronation’s uncertain legal status and sovereignty has been co-opted by a rash of pretenders, including an operation to issue ten of thousands of passports in the name of Sealand, unofficial, unsanctioned internet presences, shell companies and claims of diplomatic immunity by dint of above fabricated associations.
For this dynastic enterprise that began as a pirate radio station to escape the hegemony of the BBC, subsequently proclaiming independence and creating all the trappings of statehood, it’s disheartening that it is yet attended by this persistent and darker, parallel version of itself and we hope that going forward, in keeping with the spirit of staking one’s independence, that the Principality is allowed to tell its own story.

Friday 29 September 2017

gyres and eddies

In order to draw attention to the daunting problem of oceanic pollution and the impending calamitous crisis of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a group of artists and activists are giving this whirling vortex of litter and plastic founded circa 1985 and the size of France all the trappings of statehood, with citizenship, passports, a flag, stamps and currency. On World Oceans Day observed a few months ago, the group applied on behalf of the Trash Isles to the United Nations for recognition and membership, in the hopes that with the primus inter pares effect, the world might start to take the problem with the severity it demands.

Sunday 26 February 2017

port authority

Atlas Obscura has an intriguing feature on passport collector and expert Tom Topol, whose research and curation run through the entire history of border controls from the seventeenth century up until modern times with US re-entry permits issued in response to one of Dear Leader’s executive orders. The bureaucratic cul-de-sac that the article uses to introduce Topol’s collection is a set of six passport (not pictured) from defunct countries that present an interesting narrative of these former regimes and the travel documents’ bearers.

Tuesday 13 December 2016

non-state actors

I am indebted to the Happy Mutants at Boing Boing for bringing to our attention a matter of Brexit negotiations first proposed two weeks hence (I suppose none of us can be too hard on ourselves for missing the sensical compromises that present themselves every so often in this shrill and demanding newscape), seeing that we had completely overlooked the notion of ‘associate-citizenship’ that might be extended to UK citizens residing in the EU, so that they might be allowed to stay and afforded the same freedom of movement as enjoyed before.
Coming just as the British government announced a firm date to invoke Article 50, to tender its divorce-papers, this offer shows a tremendous amount of goodwill has been held in trust and whilst corporate entities might not expect nor deserve such kindnesses, it was hopeful to see that individuals might still be able to choose their affiliation with sovereignty independent of their representative governments. It is possible that the current regime might reject the proposal for its potential to undermine the will of the people it’s championing at the moment and the only recourse is paradoxically petitioning one’s local council that was either committed to leave or bremain in the first place. It also has me hopefully, personally, as a long term US expatriate, wondering if I might too be granted such an option, especially considering what by force I might be repatriated to.

Thursday 28 January 2016

charta visa

Rob Beschizza of Boing Boing shares an informed and informative little project that is pretty visually stunning as well in the Passport Index. It’s interesting to take a broad survey of these travel and identity documents and then to be able to gain a purchase on the relative value citizenship—rather bearership, has in terms of access and accessibility. Examining the passports by rank under the protocols, some odd pairings—ties come up and reciprocity, diplomacy shows itself in strange ways. The convention of using or dispensing with visas for travel comes from the Latin phrase for “the paper which has been seen.”

Monday 28 September 2015

world citizen

Perhaps a global crisis can only be solved by becoming more cosmopolitan, as this interesting article from Quartz suggests.
Faced with a comparable refugee situation in the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution when all Russian expatriate were summarily stripped of their citizenship and made stateless—nearly a million diaspora and growing to include former residents of the Ottoman Empire, the League of Nations became the competent issuing authority for travel documents, realising that no one place could hope to absorb all the displaced. Bearers of the these passports, which were the laudable idea of Norwegian explorer Fritjof Nansen, included shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis, artist Marc Chagall, author Vladimir Nabokov and composers Igor Stravinski and Sergei Rakhmaninov as well as hundreds of thousands of other souls, which entitled them to travel internationally and settle as appropriately. Such an elegant solution may need to be reinstated, with the reluctance national authorities have demonstrated for legitimising an undocumented refugee and much preferring to keep them in transit and making migrants seek out the help of smugglers rather than official channels and discard whatever official identity papers that they might have and preclude their chances of having a homeland to return to one day. Mindful that there is no place like Utopia, what do you think? Could such a scheme work again?

Thursday 20 November 2014


Just a month after Norway debuted its selection for its redesigned paper currency, the Nordic nation unveiled a sleek, minimal look for its passport and identity cards. Though unconventional and laser-etched with security features that are really beautiful (take a look inside at The Local) rather than just dependably brutal, the format meets International Civil Aviation Organisation standards and the first documents with the new design are set to be issued in a couple of years.

Friday 7 November 2014

intershop oder deutsch-deutsche grenze

As the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall approaches, there’s an array of tributes and retrospectives worth checking out. I am reminded of one small artefact that I found a few years ago at a flea market. This cancelled East German passport is only marked with the endorsement that allows the bearer unrestricted transit into the so-called Neue Bundeslรคnder (it is still probably a little dig to keep the distinction of a West Berlin, which was a national peculiar). It is a little sad that someone’s grandmother never got the chance for further travel, as there are no other stamps, but maybe she threw out this one for a new passport of the united Germany.