Monday 3 June 2024

7x7 (11. 603)

green mountain state: Vermont’s Climate Superfund Act, a first, makes oil companies fiscally responsible for the damage caused by emissions 

far side of the moon: Chang'e-6 lands on the lunar surface  

post-script: engineering for slow internet connection in Antarctica—see previously  

i’ve been saying yes to more things lately, just to get myself out there again—but wherever i show up, it’s always—oh sorry, we thought you were the other guy: overheards from the lesser-known dinosaurs’ support group  

may the thirty-fourth: a decade’s worth of memories from China’s early internet vanishes—via tmn  

gmail will break your heart: as the service turns twenty years old, spelunking for long, forgotten cherished missives—via Waxy  

gardi sugdub: Panama is evacuating inhabitants from densely populated islands threatened to be subsumed by rising seas


one year ago: the goddess Bellona plus book bans (1923)

two years ago: Bergpark Willemshรถhe, Beer-Barrel Polka plus AI reimagines corporate logos

three years ago: assorted links to revisit, more early NFTs plus more unit coins

four years ago: Zoot Suit Riots (1943), Trump disperses peaceful protesters, a dystopian television series takes a hiatus because reality plus another sleepy, dusty delta day

five years ago: the myth of ten-thousand steps, more links to enjoy plus a study of restroom graffiti

Tuesday 30 January 2024

8x8 (11. 307)

1,44mb: some Japanese ministries are phasing out the requirement of submitting official documents on physical media 

forensic linguistics: language experts and crime-solving 

jurassic lark: Poseidon’s Underworld recaps the 1960 cinematic experience Dinosaurs!  

painting with plasticine: Olive Harbutt, daughter of the medium’s inventor, creates art in this 1958 short  

: Letraset fill patterns—see previously 

throwing eggs: popular Chinese card game Guandan may receive sanction for the classroom  

esperantido: linguist Manuel Halvelik created an auxiliary diglossia to make translations sound more archaic 

omnichord: Suzuki brings back the portable music-maker from 1981

Thursday 9 November 2023

zaglossus attenboroughi (11. 105)

Rediscovered during a lengthy expedition in Indonesia’s Cyclops mountains six decades after its last reported sighting, the long-beaked echidna—named after the famed naturalist, feared extinct (taxidermied specimen pictured), the nocturnal, burrowing creature, a monotreme that lays eggs like the equally unusual duck-billed platypus, is a living fossil (see also) that coexisted with the dinosaurs, branching off from the mainstream emergent mammals over two hundred million years ago. Named for the mythological แผœฯ‡ฮนฮดฮฝฮฑ—She Viper and mother of all monsters—due to their shared reclusive and chimeric nature, the mammal is embedded in local Papuan culture as a conflict resolution mediator, one side of the disputing parties dispatched on an errant quest to the remote and wild mountains to find an echidna and the other to the sea to find a marlin, a task that could take years and removes the conflict from the community and gives an enduring reprieve from fighting.

Saturday 11 February 2023

7x7 (10. 541)

sky survey: a massive, high resolution picture of the Milky Way with three billion distinct objects  

pachyderm prototype: presenting the Platybelodon—see also

braggoscope: using machine learning to create affiliative indices of the extensive archives of BBC4’s In Our Time with Melvin Bragg—via Web Curios 

hobohemian: a primer for Tramp Art  

book renewal: the New York Public Library has found that the majority of literature published prior to 1964 may already be in the public domain—via Kottke 

opuntia: invasive cacti are spreading in the Swiss Alps  

stardust to dust: researchers propose kicking up lunar debris to create a sunshade and cool the Earth—see also

Wednesday 1 February 2023

9x9 (10. 515)

wickies: Fisheries and Oceans Canada is hiring assistant lighthouse keepers 

the montessori method: a look at the world’s most influential school system  

little moving splat: Ze Frank (previously) covers the strange and wonderfully intelligent behaviour of plasmodial slime moulds  

unitar: a selection of one-string music—via Pasa Bon! 

blue harvest: a history of the spoiler alert—see also  

what is a map: an awful educational short from 1949 given the MST3K treatment 

dead as a dodo: a de-extinction company gets a one-hundred fifty million dollar investment  

the free-market tree: non-felonious children’s literature editions for the state of Florida  

coast guard: a collection of lighthouses of North America

Wednesday 14 December 2022

6x6 (10. 384)

strife wins out: ๆˆฆ (ikusa, tatakau meaning war) is voted kanji of 2022—previously, see also—via Language Log  

dunston checks in: Poseidon’s Underworld reviews the 1996 comedic film starring Jason Alexander, Paul Reubens, Rupert Everett and Faye Dunaway  

hearth and home: more animated Yule Log loops—see previously—via Waxy 

twitterpated: a survey of possible dinosaur vocalisations  

mission highlights: arresting imagery from Artemis I—see also 

diwhy and regretsy: a collection of jargon and slang terms from the crafting community

Tuesday 15 November 2022

6x6 (10. 306)

honkbal hoofdklasse: Dutch for ‘Major League Baseball’  

fragrant, acid, burnt and caprylic: the Crocker-Henderson odour classification system 

dinosaur.pocket: AI generated Mastodon instances by Janelle Shane (previously

the floor is lava: a fun looking arcade experience though the best part was climbing over the furniture and leaping from place to place  

pontifex: the cathedral-like under-girding of the bridges of Seoul 

phryge-fest: Paris unveils its Olympic and Paralympics mascots—anthropomorphic hats

Friday 29 April 2022


Via Hyperallergic, we are referred to a nifty tool that lets one explore the geography and lifeforms that would have informed one’s hometown over the รฆons. Developed by engineer and palaeontologist Ian Webster, Ancient Earth ploughs through millions of years of tectonic shifts and rising and receding oceans with insights about fossils found nearby at the time and events defined the particular age and epoch. Despite the until recently relative inhospitability above the waves, one is always hoping that one’s home stays above water—especially in our current Anthropocene. Much more at the link above.

Sunday 27 February 2022


glass menagerie: more microbiological models from Luke Jerram—see previously 

instant city: a 1971, tented utopian experiment on the northern coast of Ibiza  

dearc sgiathanach: superlative winged pterosaur found on the Island of Skye 

kye marn: incredible papier mรขchรฉ Carnival masks from Jacmel, Haiti 

the wags, jubilee plus christmas gambols: nautical song composer Charles Dibdin, forgotten eighteenth century superstar—via Strange Company 

a strange game—the only winning move is not to play: the rise of gamification in all systems and how to avoid getting caught up in it unawares  

ัะฝะต, ะฑะตะฝะต, ั€ะตั: a Russian counting rhyme, like yan, tan, tethera  

angiogenic properties: materials scientists development bioactive glass (also used to repair broken bones) that repels virtually all germs

Saturday 13 February 2021

here we come on the run with a burger in a bun

We enjoyed very much this appreciation of the Cabazon dinosaur ensemble, a novelty roadside attraction two decades in the making created by theme park artist and sculptor Claude Bell (of Knox Berry Farm fame) off the freeway near Palm Springs to draw diners to his nearby restaurant, the Wheel Inn (1958 - 2013). The Brontosaurus, Dinny the Dinosaur, and Mister Rex are made of out of salvaged, reclaimed road construction materials and since the restaurant’s closure, have been host, in a surprising turn, to a gift shop and a museum devoted to doctrine of creationism (inside of Dinny—the Tyrannosaur formerly had a slide in his tail but has been since filled with concrete due to safety concerns)—selling dinosaur related souvenirs with the rather shrill caveat that the “fossil record does not support evolution” (see also) and espousing young Earth beliefs, that place Adam and Eve among the dinosaurs about six millennia ago. Exhibits run counter to a frieze that Bell painted along the internal passage way that portray a scientific point of view and timeline that includes Cro-Magnon, Java Man and Neanderthals. More from Pasa Bon! at the link up top.

Saturday 12 December 2020

umleitung: bedheim

We made a brief stop in the village outside of the town of Rรถmhild in the county of Hildburghausen to take in the architectural ensemble, typifying a Baroque manor, of the three-wing castle and fortified church. First constructed in the thirteenth century and coming into ownership of the aristocratic family Rรผhle von Lilenstern once ennobled by Hapsburg Emperor Charles VII after 1743, chiefly then as a summer residence for Prince Joseph Friedrich von Sachsen-Hildburghausen, it is still the ancestral home of the heirs and an interesting architectural footnote on its own. 

The village became more intriguing, however, seeing that its crest features a pipe organ and a dinosaur. I don’t think we’d ever encountered this sort of charge before on a coat-of-arms and the raptor is definitely not a mythological griffin.  It turns out that one of the notable descendants, Hugo, was an avid paleotologist and had made many finds in the surrounding area, discovering among others an example originally referred to as the leaping lizard (Halticosaurus, springende Echse) and later renamed Liliensternus

I recall my grade three teacher, Miss Friday, one day bringing in a cast of a fossilised dinosaur foot discovered on their property with the taxonomical classification of Arkansaurus fridayius, which I thought was an odd instance of show-and-tell to end all show-and-tell sessions. A museum was established in the castle to display skeletal remains, but once the family could reestablish residence after the war in 1969, the collection was transferred to the Museum of Natural History in Berlin. The organ of the coat-of-arms is in deference to the pair of instruments installed in the church, a greater and a lesser installed in the early eithteenth century a decade apart (and can be played in tandem) by prominent local master builders and is adjacent to the entombment place of many members of the family Rรผhle von Lilienstern. We weren’t able to glean much about the war years and there was a sombre and intriguing memorial plaque to all those who underwent forced sterilisation during Nazi times and research yielded little. In better times, we’ll return to learn more, go to the Schloss cafรฉ and maybe take in an organ concert.

Sunday 12 April 2020


His massively popular and curatorially acclaimed colossal sculptures having already attracted quite a following as they were paraded, fully assembled in cross-country processions and on display in-situ became the backdrop of the 1986 sci-fi comedy Howard the Duck, Jim Gary (*1939 – †2006) was the only artist invited to present a solo exhibition at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History, opening on this day in 1990, and featuring dozens of Twentieth Century Dinosaurs, stegosaurs, triceratops, tyrannosaurs, pterodactyls fashioned out of salvaged automobile parts and brightly lacquered in car paint.
When not touring, the dinosaurs resided in Gary’s garden or were on loan to his favourite cafes and restaurants (hence the appellation for one installation, the dinersaur), sort of like those art cow statues (called CowParade and conceived by Swiss artist Pascal Knapp) of its day. The term above was an encomium to Gary in an obituary by biographer and reporter for The Guardian Andrew Roth, coining the neologism to describe his creations.

Thursday 16 January 2020

wollemia nobilis

Via Super Punch, we learn about the clandestine, successful mission pulled off by botanists, park rangers, conservators and New South Wales’ brave firefighters to save the only known wild population of Wollemi pines.
The trees, which may be up to one hundred thousand years in age, number about two hundred individuals and prior to their discovery in 1994 (akin to finding a living dinosaur), were believed to be extinct and only known through the fossil record. The operation was kept secret so as to not disclose the grove’s location as caretakers fear that visitors could bring contamination that could harm the critically endangered species. Clones have been propagated worldwide and have distinct broad needles and knobbly bark.

Sunday 22 September 2019

grube messel

On my way back to my workweek apartment, I finally took the opportunity to explore the Messel pit, a UNESCO World Heritage site though probably singular among that group for not yielding up its treasures and those that have been unearthed belong in collections spread across the globe. Though the outline of the caldera seems apparent now, the volcanic lake that gives to researchers on average a well preserved fossil specimen once every quarter hour would not exist as it does today, looking back and documenting in great detail a snap-shot of life circa forty-eight million years ago during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, if not for a series of accidents, beginning with quarry operations in 1859, when oil shale was discovered.
I happened to arrive just in time to take the last tour of the day, the only way to venture down into the pit. Miners back at the time were discovering fossils in this Lagerstรคtte but due the depositional characteristics of the formation (most remains discovered are not petrified or mummified but captured as fleetingly delicate impressions) but after a few hours’ dehydration, the fossils would disintegrate into a big fish tale. Demand and war drove digging which waxed and waned over the years, the quarry being used as a place to store the rubble of Darmstadt after its destruction during WWII, and during the early 1970s, the place was nearly turned into a permanent landfill (the war also created a make-work site to employ locals breaking bricks—and as amateur palรฆontologists while the economy recovered) until the decision was overturned by strong protests and the land was purchased by the state of Hesse. Hobby fossil-hunters developed a resin-transfer technique to preserve fossils once exposed outside of their containing matrix around this time and has been widely adopted as standard practise. Constant pumping keeps the ground water from welling up and universities continue slow and careful excavation.
We were able to inspect some recent discoveries, the slates kept from dehydrating in a water bath and were privileged to pass around a fish fossil (see also). Though the mascot of the Messel Pit is Ida, the singular Darwinius Masillรฆ—a transitional lemur-like creature that also had characteristics prefiguring the simians, primates being distinguished in the main by the wetness or dryness of their noses—the site was finally elevated in 1995 with UNESCO status not because of any individual find, including crocodiles, giant squirrels and nine pairs of copulating turtles caught in the act—far predating Pompeii, but rather because of the sheer volume and scientific rigour that it took to share what one uncovered, which underscores the problem of preservation.

Saturday 29 December 2018

dinosaurier des jahres

Since 1993, Germany’s Naturschutzbund (NABU, Nature Conservancy Corps) in Berlin has been awarding its annual dirisive distinction, its Dinosaur Award, to the group or individual who’s actions are most emblematic of regressive tendencies in environmental stewardship.
This year’s prize went to the chairman of an energy company who pledged to continue the expansion of its strip-mining operations and destroy the remaining sliver of the old growth Hambacher Forst despite massive protests and the gradual phasing out of coal. Earlier in the month, a ceremony was held in the nearby Ruhrgebiet to mark the closing of the country’s last black hard coal mine, also operated by the same energy giant fossil.  There are regrettably too many of such barons (sometimes ourselves included for our lifestyle choices) to contend with but who might you nominate for failure to adapt?

Tuesday 24 July 2018

non sequitur

Via Kottke’s Quick Links, we learn that the palaeontological community has formally accepted the name thagomizer for the anatomical arrangement of spikes on the tails of stegosauroid dinosaurs.
Coined in a 1982 comic by Gary Larson, the term was already in common-parlance, having been adopted and championed by several authoritative text books and museums and in the panel was named in honour of a departed caveman. We enjoyed seeing the Wikipedia stub on the naming waxing pedantic in pointing out, “The cartoon fate of Thag Simmons notwithstanding, stegosaurs and humans did not exist in the same era,” apparently not for the first time, as Larson suggested there be a sort of confessional whereby cartoonists can ask for absolution for such transgressions. A highly specialised parasitic louse that only plagues a species of owl in central Africa called Strigiphilus garylarsoni is named after the author.

Thursday 4 January 2018

dinosaur court

Via Messy Nessy Chic, we are introduced to the world’s first paleontological park of Crystal Palace in the borough of Bromley commissioned as an extension of the Great Exhibition of London in 1854. Though considered scientifically naรฏve by contemporary standards, the attraction predated Charles Darwin’s publication and contrary to Victorian affection for the supernatural these “antediluvian monsters” weren’t taken as patent evidence for dragons and weathered subsequent derision well enough to earn protected status and become a cultural touchstone. Learn more about the historic park and the mythos surrounding it at the link up top.

Friday 28 April 2017

one million b.c.

Like forensics experts working on a case that went cold hundreds of thousands of years ago, archรฆologists are discovering that equipped with the next generation of genetic sequencers that there able to find bits of ancient hominid DNA when sifting through the sediment of practically any old cave.
No fossil evidence nor artefacts, though surely that’s pretty exciting to uncover, is required to trace how our direct ancestors and Neanderthal cousins spread across the continents and perhaps interacted. Surely this can be expanded to the whole of the plant and animal kingdoms, as well.  I wasn’t expecting that our machines were so finely calibrated to detect biochemical markers as so faint a trace, but this is sure to be revolutionary as palรฆontologists have already managed to extrapolate and reconstruct whole monstrous dinosaurs and more modest primogenitors of our kind out of just a fragment of a tooth or a little toe bone.