Saturday, 16 October 2021

st. gall

Traditionally counted among the twelve companions of Saint Columbanus on his mission from Ireland to win converts in the lands of the Franks—having been ejected from Gaul where they first landed by local chieftains who wanted nothing to do with Christianity—Gallus (*550 - †646) is venerated on this day. Patron of geese, poultry and birds in general (for no particular reason) and St. Gallen, the saint’s rather complicated iconography relates the legendary encounter he had with a fierce bear, who was said to be terrorising the local settlement as well, in the woods. The holy man rebuked the bear for its behaviour and compelled it thereafter to gather firewood and became Gall’s trusted sidekick.

Saturday, 11 September 2021


Whilst everything has taken on a sense of urgency and imbalance, admittedly our avian neighbours usually seem to escape these awful Earthly bonds and bother even though our actions and omissions are pulling them in peril too. The overall winner for this year’s Bird Photography of the Year, “Blocked,” by Alejandro Prieto and featuring a Roadrunner (Correcaminos, Geococcyx californianus) and the US-Mรฉxico border indeed highlighted how the subject can limn the greater environmental and humanitarian crises we are failing to address. More outstanding feathered friends at the links above.

Thursday, 1 July 2021


banning: a 1967 forgotten film about a sordid tryst at a country club 

remains of the day: six relics of once ubiquitous fast-food empires  

plain chachalaca: more badly named bird friends—see previously here and here, via Super Punch

awestruck: short, initial pieces optimised for joy and wonder from NPR 

gallery 88: an electronics line for kids from Sony—see also  

dhead xlvi: a David Bowie painting (see previously) saved from a landfill fetches over one hundred thousand CA$  

grand opening: a brief history of the ribbon-cutting ceremony  

britbox: an interactive fiction project for a cult 70s television programme that dabbled in paganism and the paranormal—see also—which never existed

Sunday, 9 May 2021


Via Cynical-C, we learn of a new (to us) sporting activity that combines gliding with falconry (previously), developed in 2001 with a round-the-world trip starting in Nepal to soar with birds of prey who graciously share the airspace with human interlopers and guide them to thermals and updrafts that keep their flightless companions aloft.

Sunday, 27 December 2020

Though we told that the astrological sign for the planet Jupiter is supposed to symbolise his thunderbolt or eagle, I’ve always thought it was a stylised number four for the fourth heavenly body in the firmament and just today learned that—unconnectedly—that in the subtractive notation for Roman numerals IV (four) is also an abbreviation for IVPITTER. To avoid blasphemy in inscriptions, it is postulated that the convention of additive notation (IIII) is used instead and preserved on most modern clock and watch faces and dedication, though by no means is this universal. The value 499, for instance, occurs as either ID, XDIX, VDIV, LDVLIV or CDXCIX and sometimes the Latin numerological terms—99 as undecentum—that is, one from a hundred or IC, set the standard.

Monday, 13 April 2020

a financially unstable mess but at the liquor store they call me ma’am

Matt “the Mincing Mockingbird” Adrian paints an expressive range of avian friends with a certain deftness juxtaposed with humorous titles and captions that contrasts the beauty of Nature with the humdrum complaints of human existence. Visit the artist’s website and have look through his expansive portfolio and see if you can tag yourself.

Thursday, 25 July 2019

seal of approval or there—i fixed it for you

While describing the incident as an unfortunate A/V error reminds me of the furore over a Saudi Arabian textbook that showed Yoda with King Faisal, some one really upstaged Donald Trump whilst he held another one of his tedious Nรผrnberger Rallies with a doctored presidential seal as a backdrop. 
To the keen observer, one notices that instead of a bundle of arrows, the bald eagle is clutching golf clubs and is conspicuously double-headed, like the coat of arms of the Russian Federation.  It’s a popular misconception that unlike this circumspect symbol that looks to the past and future, the bald eagle does not turn its gaze from peacetimewhen on a war footing. The myth is rooted in an anecdote involving Harry Truman and Winston Churchill (often quoted for things he did not say), when the US president asked the UK prime minister what he thought of the new seal’s recent redesign and Churchill recommended that the head ought to be on a swivel, ready for anything as occasion might demand. The story was repeated and spread by film and television. 

Friday, 24 May 2019

a white flag with an insignia that looks like an eagle vomiting two strips of bacon

Via Coudal Partners’ Fresh Signals, the American state of Illinois may have been saddled with a pretty awful banner, but it is heartening to know it is far from alone in that category with quite a few others having some quite poorly designed flags. None, I think could top the city flag of Tampa, Florida for the sheer volume and density of vexillological violations.  More to explore at the links above.

Saturday, 7 July 2018


epa epa eeeeepaaaaaahhhhhh: Scott Pruitt falls on his sword finally but the US Environmental Protection Agency Chief in-waiting is an even bigger corporate shill

there are nicer ways to do it but the nice always fail: the power of protest music

a broken chain lies at her feet as she walks forward: Therese Patricia Okoumou scales the Statue of Liberty in the name of her fellow immigrants

angry baby: London’s mayor approves the display of a blimp over the Houses of Parliament during Trump’s visit to the capital

phantom islands: an atlas of maritime artefacts, via Things Magazine

mud larking: a massive curation of seven hundred thousand articles recovered from a single canal in Amsterdam, via Waxy 

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

soldier of fortune

In order to fight the firmly entrenched agents of the “deep state,” conventional, bureaucratic government and further undermine the intelligence services of the US, apparently the Trump regime has approached the founder of a controversial mercenary outfit to explore subverting established protocols and procedures with a private spy network.
Those deemed not sufficiently loyal to the administration would be summarily outed and deposed. Though CIA spokespeople (under the leadership of another antithetical figure) vehemently deny the veracity of the claim, the company’s founder is already under investigation (after a fashion) for his willingness to be the architect behind a back-channel line of communication between the White House and Moscow and has been a go-between for foreign business deals. Familial connections to the regime, being the brother of the Secretary of Education and Ponzi-Scheme Heiress Betsy DeVos, probably also has its benefits—and liabilities.

Thursday, 1 June 2017


Via the ever intriguing Nag on the Lake, we are finding ourselves rather blown away to learn that the English language—especially idiomatically, was informed by a sixteenth century amateur falconer and sometimes playwright by the name of William Shakespeare, who peppered and punctuated his poetry and prose with phrases known intimately to hawk-fanciers. Under one’s thumb, wrapped around one’s (little) finger, Macbeth’s “scarfing the eye” as reference to hoodwinking—keeping the bird of prey with its eyes and head covered until ready to engage and prevent distraction, broadening the meaning of the term to rouse to mean to awaken, fed up to mean something more than surfeited and haggard to mean incorrigible all came into common parlance by way of the Bard’s pastime.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

guerra mundial

Via the always interesting Everlasting Blรถrt comes the forgotten World War II artwork of Mexican anti-Axis Propaganda.
Though Mexicoสผs involvement in the war was a relatively brief one prompted in 1942 after a Nazi submarine attacked one of Mexicoสผs oil platforms and later dispatched fighter-jet pilots to the Philippines (I was pretty impressed to learn about the Aztec Eagles) the feelings portrayed in the poster were genuine due to having been betrayed and made the object of revile and suspicion beforehand by Germany. The so-called Zimmermann Telegraph was a leaked communique between the German consul and the government of Mexico that proposed an alliance between the two countries should the US decide to intervene in World War I, with the promise to help Mexico to reclaim territory in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico that the US annexed. America launched a punishing raid on Mexico in retaliation and harboured suspicions afterwards, even though it was unclear what Mexico thought of this arrangement.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

huginn and munnin

Though it is probably more likely that the later Czech sociologist Karl Deutsch expressed the sentiment to the effect that, “the essential part about nationhood is getting one’s past all wrong,” rather than the earlier French historian and orientalist Joseph Ernest Renan (whom it’s been attributed to), Renan did certainly write that the coalescing of a state requires that people have a lot in common as well as a collective amnesia—remarking that no respecting member of the New Republic dare own up to the frenzied, shameful massacre of the Albigensian Crusade.
This theologian who had a crisis of faith while looking deeper into the historical personage of Jesus and was unable to reconcile Church doctrine with the time-line was writing during a period of transition, the late nineteenth century, generations from the French Revolution, the terrors and resurgence with the Napoleonic Wars and during a time sadly insatiate for what was called progress. Posthumously, and despite Renan’s own critique of tribalism, certain elements of his readership championed his works as justification for colonialism, empire-building, and later eagerly advocating fascism and the politics of race. It nonetheless rings true, I think, that it’s an essential part of a founding, abiding myth—from Rome, England and to America—that a people joined or lumped together be mistaken about certain contexts and have heroes to worship. The later Deutsch, inheritor to all this misguided zeal, in contrast, helped people realise their folly and installed counter-measures.  Huginn (Thought) and Muninn (Remembrance) are the pair of cosmic ravens that surveyed the Earth and roosted with and reported to the Norse god Odin—sort of like the private counsel of a conscience or complimentary set of shoulder-angels.

Friday, 26 June 2015


colour-coding: three young people in the UK invent a condom that changes colours when it detects STDs, sort of like that Elfin dagger that glows in the presence of Orcs

zero, my hero: typoman, a gaming platform where the adventure hinges on switching single letters

snowden effect: majority of Germans no longer believe that USA respects personal freedoms

all gussied-up: interesting and in depth look at the history of cosmetics and glamour maven Helena Rubinstein

way-back: via the inestimable Kottke, an appreciation of the TimeMachine archives from a marketing and design angle