Sunday 14 April 2024

liduina of schiedam (11. 487)

Venerated on this day on the occasion her death in 1433, aged 52 after a life of suffering progressively worsening ailments due to an accident as an adolescent, the sainted Dutch mystic (see below) is celebrated as the patron protector of those stricken with chronic pain and disability, her hometown near Rotterdam and of ice-skaters and roller-skaters, which seems a bit of a painful reminder. Cultivating a reputation as a healer, and judging from the symptoms recorded in her hagiographies perhaps the first documented case of multiple sclerosis—though such diagnoses are problematic, she is said to have fasted and foregone sleep throughout the decades and her cultus grew popular following her death thanks to the writings of Thomas ร  Kempis who epitomised her piety from Keulen.


one year ago: an AI writes fortune cookies plus assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: solar new year

three years ago: sequencing the human genome, more links to enjoy plus an outstanding landing page, business 

four years ago: a medieval UFO encounter, an unhinged press briefing, a cosmopolitan coffee break, a museum at the Volkswagen factory, safe social distancing plus more accidental art

five years ago: an AI authored country and western song, the N'ko script, designer Verner Panton plus Easter fountains

Friday 14 April 2023

9x9 (10. 673)

photo booth: a self-meme generator that uses AI—via Web Curios  

1up: the Super Mario Brothers’ theme inscribed in the US National Recording Registry—via Miss Cellania 

martin chuzzlewit: Dickens’ illustrators  

acta et vita: today is the feast of Lidwina, patron saint of chronic illness and ice- and roller-skaters 

spring break: a look at the highdays and holidays of Old London—via Strange Company 

jubilee: US Supreme Court ruled against blocking cancellation of student loan debt—see previously  

the real macguffin: the Holy Grail of grail stories—with plenty of references to pop-culture  

double-feature: raw footage from a video rental store on a Friday night in 1987—what titles would you have picked?  

robo boys: an untethered large language model builds on a college years group chat with insights on the process of AI fine-tuning—via Waxy

Friday 17 March 2023

at first i was afraid, i was petrified (10. 615)

Beginning a four-week run at the top of the UK singles charts on this day in 1979 (also a hit internationally and inscribed on the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress for its cultural and artistic significance) the disco anthem about discovering personal strength in the face of breakup owes its origins to the dismissal of principal lyricist Dino Fekaris, partnering with Freddie Perren—also a former co-worker out of a job—and the resolution to bounce back, as a song-writer no less. With the working-title “Substitute,” performer Gloria Gaynor immediately recognised it as a hit. Played first by DJs in Studio 54 before the record was released, the accompanying promotional video, filmed in competing night club Xenon Discotheque and features a troupe of dance skaters.

Tuesday 12 July 2022


smacs 0723: astronomers unveil the first colour pictures from the James Webb Space Telescope—see more, see previously  

power plant: an interactive map of energy and industry from the European Commission  

ecovado: a sustainable, locally-sourced alternative to the imported avocado  

empire rollerdome: New York street photographer Patrick D Pagnano captures 1980s roller disco—via Messy Nessy Chic 

 €/$: euro, US dollar at parity  

maps mastery: a profile of expert-level GeoGuessr players—via Waxy  

zero-g: researchers at Kyoto University design artificial gravity architecture

Sunday 3 July 2022


el vehรญculo compartido: personal aerial shots by photographer Alex Cartagena in pickup truck beds reveal the hidden lives of day labourers off-duty  

skate expectations: concrete sculptural parks by Amir Zaki—via Present /&/ Correct 

rosรฉwave: a playlist from NPR to invoke relaxed summer afternoon vibes

press key when ready: the 1985 British children’s sci-fi series The Whizz 

i am your atypical neighbour: in an exhibit, Her Window, artist Dayu Ouyang broadcasts bold statements from her bedroom’s view  

hot slot: the escapingly small feasibility that Jeff Goldblum could have uploaded a computer virus to alien technology and win Independence Day plus other dei ex machinis  

friend-shoring: reprioritising globalisation and a metallic NATO to ensure critical rare-earths supply chains are kept viable  

a rising tide lifts all boats: laid out in a grid meant to resemble brain coral from above and protected by the sinking atoll, the Maldives is building an ingenious floating city that will rise with the oceans as perhaps a model for other threatened communities

Sunday 27 March 2022

rolling stock

Retelling the story of the “Little Engine that Could” with love-interest and with due inspirational credit given to Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends, the Andrew Lloyd Weber and Richard Stilgoe musical spectacle with all principals and dancers portraying locomotives on roller skates had its debut on the West End in the Apollo Victoria Theatre. Following a year-long run on Broadway, the show came to the industrial city of Bochum in 1988, and hosted in a custom-built theatre (designed like a skating rink) has become the most attended musical in Germany, still running and seen by over seventeen million. Much more, including the original cast recording of the musical numbers and various performance highlights at the link above.

Thursday 27 May 2021


Among many other anniversaries of the great and good, on this day, as our faithful chronicler informs, in 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge linking the San Francisco Bay with the Pacific Ocean, was opened to pedestrian traffic—the longest and tallest suspension bridge in the world at the time.

First conceived in 1916, ambitious engineer and pontifex Joseph Baermann Strauss (1870 – 1938) answered the call having proposed a similar railroad bridge to cross the Bering Strait and connect Alaska with Russia and oversaw the construction of some four hundred draw bridges in a major infrastructure overhaul, and in collaboration (which ended unfortunately acrimoniously) with Charles Alton Ellis, completed it in four years (see also). During the week-long opening ceremony, more than two hundred thousand visitors crossed the mile-long span or foot or on roller skates. The particular shade of vermilion is called international orange, chosen to compliment the bridge’s natural surroundings and improve its visibility in fog, and is a unique hue differing from aerospace or safety orange.

Thursday 5 April 2018

candles in the rain

Having performed at Woodstock, Strawberry Fields, the Isle of Wight festival and the original Glastonbury Fayre, singer/song-writer Melanie Anne Safka-Schekeryk’s 1970 breakthrough hit “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)” was inspired—reportedly—by audiences lighting candles during the various acts, though most of the flames were actually lighters. Melanie, as the artist goes by, is probably most recognised for her 1976 single “Brand New Key”—otherwise referred to as the Roller Skate song.

Sunday 7 January 2018


In order to make visiting a charging station less of a chore and more of a treat (though I imagine that such a congregating place might be short-lived with exponential improvements to battery life and duration of recharging times), the entrepreneur behind Tesla electric vehicles and several other enterprises besides will transform one of his service points in the Los Angeles area into a classic bit of Americana, making it into a drive-in restaurant, complete with a (robotic?) waitstaff/pit-crew on roller skates. That’s a pretty clever idea—we think, the set-up is already familiar and seems conducive to powering-up one’s car and we wonder if a resurgence of drive-in theatres might not be in the offering soon.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

matchbox or go-go-gadget brella

Though it's not at all tempting, given the unpleasant and cramped interior and strange odours, to violate these rules and host a roller derby, there is an unloving notice on the outside wall of the lobby of our post-office stating that food and drink and roller blades are prohibited in that facility. I wonder if people still go skating--sometimes one sees older people with Nordic walking sticks (ski poles) zipping, slaloming along the trails but not so often, and one hardly ever encounters young people biking or skating outside the compulsion of a family outing. It's a little sad--the sign might as well say no hula-hooping and no pogo-balls as well--I think we've not only been kept too safe, with the occasional foray into extreme double-dutch or see-saw record-breaking attempt, coordinated via flash-mobs, but also gotten use to having nothing out of arm's reach and fully-integrated.  I ought to organize an impromptu kazoo evening of chamber music in the mailroom lobby and pogo-stick ballet.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

das telefon sagt du

Germany is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the telephone, which predates Alexander Graham Bell's famous transmission, "Mister Watson, come here--I want to see you," by a full fifteen years with Johann Phillip Reis' cryptic and surreal message via switching, galvanic wire, "The horse does not eat cucumber salad," (Das Pferd frisst keinen Gurkensalat). Reis made up this phrase on the spot during his demonstration in Friedrichsdorf by Frankfurt am Main in 1861 to prove that his first call was real and not rehearsed. Reis' experiment of course was built on the work of others that came before and in turn, the idea was improved and realized as a two-way communication device by Bell. Reis' other pioneering work included an early prototype of what would become inline roller-skates and theoretical inquiries into the possibility photovoltaic cells.

Sunday 30 August 2009

i've got a brand new pair of roller-skates

A few days ago, I purchased a new mini-notebook to replace the trusty but unwieldy computer than I had been lugging around long since it's expected and planned-obsolescence. I think there's a communal sort of shame that pressures one into buying a new computer, as if one is forcing one's old model to perform too long into old age and past when it should be allowed to retire with dignity--like forcing one's own grandmother to earn her keep and subsist off of cat food. Transfering my photograph albums from the old beast to the sleek new one, however, I rediscovered a few things I had forgotten about. One was a short film--actually numbingly and crazy-making long, that was captured six or seven years ago to demonstrate my successful installation and set-up of a micro-spy-camera. The piece is only footage of my ashtray on the windowsill under varying color filters with the snowy night sky in the background--maybe eight minutes in duration. I am sure that this video would become viral and absolutely turn anyone who watches it stark-raving mad, like in that movie, The Ring. So, it's probably best to keep it from the public. Another thing I found was a collection of manhole covers. For some time, whenever I travel somewhere new, I have been taking pictures of unique manhole covers, like this fancy one from Weimar--it does not strike me as a particularly original thing to do but I have enjoyed doing so and getting stares. I just had forgotten that I had bothered to attempt to gather them all in one place before. One should take time to ply through the archives, once and a while.