Monday 26 February 2024

7x7 (11. 383)

bacile calmette-guรฉrin: a century-old variolation against bovine tuberculosis technique might present a treatment route for dementia  

endangered language alliance: a survey of the rare forms of communication in communities in New York City  

marketable skill: Nvidia executive says kids shouldn’t learn to code 

icc: renewed calls to make ecocide the fifth international crime and within the scope of the UN’s court—via tmn  

kรผrschรกk’s tile: a visual proof a complex geometric tessellation  

project ceti: how, powered by AI, a first contact could play out between humans and whales—see previously, see also 

goldplate: research suggest that a treatment with nanoparticles of the element might be a cure for neurodegenerative diseases

Saturday 24 February 2024

cognitive offloading (11. 376)

Via Good Internet, whilst there have always been panics over new technological extensions of the human mind leading to decline and atrophy from platonic criticism of the written word to the “boob tube” to the toxicity and tribalism of the web, one researcher with the University of Monterrey fears that the capacity of artificial intelligence for mimicry goes beyond facilitating study and investigation with instant answers and unverifiable connections (possibly beneficial—yet to be seen and the verdict is still out—for navigating a native digital environment for things like programming and debugging and those onerous tasks, and jobs, that only exist because systems don’t talk to one another and integration is difficult) that might make us lazy and less critical but poses a real threat in supplanting our executive functions. Rather than stimulating and enhancing thought and examination, ready answers, verging towards dogmatism when it comes to nuanced and complex ideas, these shortcuts, short-circuits could make judgment and creativity an increasingly rare commodity.

Sunday 11 February 2024

8x8 (11. 343)

๐Ÿ˜ถ: a Good Internet cross-posting of Good Music, featuring a mix of tracks from Wilco, Kim Gordon, the Beths and many more  

nato backstab: in a Drudge Report style headline, the Huffington Post reports Trump at a campaign event that he might encourage Russia to attack ‘deadbeat’ allies 

internal monologue: philosophers explore new field of the inner voice at the intersection of psychiatry  

compliance moats: anti-anti-monopolists and data-brokers wrangle over regulation 

story-walk: using olfaction with narrative to simulate reflection and retention  

certificate of honourable discharge: explore the best-preserved Roman military diploma (constitutio) in a new 3D exhibit  

grand bargain: US Supreme Court seems poised to keep Trump on state ballots but deny him blanket immunity 

i’m only sleeping: a Grammy winning painted music video of the Revolver track from Em Cooper

sarah t—portrait of a teenage alcoholic (11. 341)

Also featuring the acting talents of Dallas’ Larry Hagman and Star Wars’ Mark Hamill, the made for television movie starring Linda Blair of The Exorcist (previously) in the title role was first aired on the NBC network on this day in 1975. Dealing with isolation and loneliness, a fifteen-year-old takes after her estranged father, drinking to cope with feelings of inadequacy and begins to surreptitiously raid her mother’s liquor cabinet, having associated inebriation with greater social stability. Having passed out whilst babysitting and numerous interventions, Sarah can’t admit she has a problem until a near-fatal horse-riding accident (mortally wounding the horse, who is euthanised) and joins Alcoholics Anonymous. 

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit plus Planet Money Valentines

two years ago: an AI reimagines sci-fi comics panels, the Internet Sacred Text Archive plus more links to enjoy

three years ago: more links worth the revisit, bar sounds plus a unique file naming convention

four years ago: political engagement, Merkel’s would be successor steps down, gravity wells plus European emergency numbers

five years ago: the American Petrol-State, anosmia, medals for the Tokyo games to be made out of recovered specie from electronic waste plus the art of Andy Dixon

Friday 9 February 2024

argumentum ad baculum (11. 337)

Via ibฤซdem, we appreciated these logic lessons (an educational project going for a decade now) that presents concepts of dialogue, rhetoric and debate as well as biases and fallacies, like the below Ad Hominem attack between Lieutenants Sulu Arex Na Eth, with Mister Spock moderating for the rest of the cast of Star Trek: The Animated Series as interlocutors (redubbed—see above—and using footage from the cartoons). The dozens of episodes include short tutorials on petitio principii (circular reasoning), the Straw Man Fallacy, Confirmation Bias and the Sunk Cost Fallacy, the Halo Effect and the benefit of hindsight, various appeals, Tu Quoque (whataboutism) and many more. See how Vulcan logic can put more in your philosophical quiver against sophistry and misinformation.

Wednesday 7 February 2024

dark arts (11. 331)

Whilst most town councils either rescinded the ordinance or made the application process for an exception to policy a routine and perfunctory one, the legislation of the Hypnotism Act of 1952 is still on the books in some jurisdictions and subject to a blanket ban, prohibiting public performance of mesmerism or inducing a trance-state due to perceived dangers of making an audience, singly or en masse susceptible to suggestion. Proving ruinous to a scheduled comedy routine, an entertainer (without apparently having to resort to putting local authorities under) successfully appealed for the municipality to rescind the law and grant a license (the exemption not needed under the statue to practise hypnosis for clinical and therapeutic purposes) to go ahead. Though public attitudes have changed significantly for the latter with the method widely accepted in medical settings, the former stage acts is notably low and venues risk-adverse and putting responsibility on the performer.

Thursday 1 February 2024

emotional support muppet (11. 312)

The dear child furry red muppet from Sesame Street Elmo did a social media check-in with his substantial number of followers with a seemingly innocent and innocuous question: How is everybody doing today? The responses immediately went viral with over ten thousand comments and a hundred million views, underscoring a deep sense of widespread despair and anxiety and enlisting Elmo as a therapist ready to take it all in, though the trauma dumping was a lot to lay on any single individual. A lot of us are going through a lot, and by Tuesday as replies were still coming in with Elmo and friends giving supportive answers, having read through the overwhelming amount of messages, shared, “Wow! Elmo is glad he asked! Elmo learned that it is important to ask a friend how they are doing. Elmo will check in again soon, friends! Elmo loves you ❤️”

Wednesday 31 January 2024

8x8 (11. 309)

that spells primbci: Neuralink begins trials on human volunteers—see previously  

infinite craft: drag and drop fundamental elements to make new materials, from Neal Agarwal—previously  

gboard caps: search engine Japan team designs a hat (ๅธฝใƒใƒผใ‚ธใƒงใƒณ) that types  

double feature: more command-line movies from ASCII Theatre—see previously  

once you pop, you can’t stop: the weird and secretive world of crisp flavours—via Present/&/Correct  

vier-tage woche: German companies experimenting with a four-day workweek to ameliorate labour shortages  

zetetic astronomy: a mid-nineteenth century experiment that spanned the Flat Earth movement  

beta-testing: a few well-reasoned counterpoints for the mechanical Turk hucksters and AI-evangelists

Tuesday 30 January 2024

that’s eliza with a z (11. 305)

We had seen this demonstration of the nearly six-decade old chatbot, a study of natural language interaction between a computer and humans, researched and published by pioneering informatics scientist Joseph Weizenbaum knocking about for about a week now and were intrigued by the therapeutic suspension of belief that came from these trials—and were appreciative of Messy Nessy Chic’s invitation to indulge it again—that’s how blogging works sometimes. Used as a heuristic tool from the late sixties, revived in the 1980s and recently pitted against large-language models, proving surprisingly robust in keeping up with the cutting-edge competitors, its handlers were just as shocked as they were when originally witnessing test-subjects convinced of empathy in their dialogue partner. Though the counselling approach was always emphasised—people want to impart and attribute feelings particularly if they feel heard, the ELIZA effect for the tendency to project human traits—but the programme and schema of pattern matching and substitution also played a role in the development of gaming interface and text-based commands. Much more at the links above, including video testimonials.

synchronoptica
 
one year ago: assorted links to revisit plus the visual identity of the Duneiverse
 
two years ago: Bloody Sunday (1972), the first computer virus (1982), Steamed Hams as a text adventure, early airpods, root systems visualised plus Lady Gaga as mushrooms
 
three years ago: your daily demon: Andras,  another MST3K classic, cheese and magic, a classic from Journey, a Midcentury Modern vacation village plus Pigs is Pigs (1937)

four years ago: the latest batch of emoji, more links to enjoy plus a cryptic monument
 
five years ago: the Beatles’ rooftop concert (1969), more links worth the revisit, Dia de Saudade plus a composer’s gravestone

Thursday 25 January 2024

11x11 (11. 292)

liar’s dividend: digital propaganda and implausible deniability—via the New Shelton wet/dry 

working cows dairy: a collection of superlative cheeses—via Kottke 

the blazing world: a 1666 novel considered the first world of science fiction by a woman author 

everglades jetport: uncovering the ruins of a failed supersonic runway floundering in the in the Florida wetlands—see previously  

the furby panic: US National Security Agency compelled to release a trove of documents outlining their ban of the toy as a potential instrument of espionage—via Waxy  

press-gang: while most news outlets block AI crawlers used to scrape training data, right-wing media welcomes them—see previously 

mac@40: a website showing every model of the Apple computer as it enters its fifth decade  

winter in aizu: a woodblock series from Sosaku Hanga artist Kiyoshi Saito 

you are both so much more than kenough: Hillary Clinton weighs in the Oscar nominations for Barbie—via Super Punch  

time in a bottle: one bar’s water-clock has drained—though we’d not be adverse to a Harvey Wallbanger  

white stork: the Ukraine war-sandbox and the rise of the AI-Military Complex—see previously

synchronoptica

one year ago: data-scrapping and copyright

two years ago: MediaWiki Day, more custom cars, Roman milestones plus an inexplicable fast food mascot

three years ago: your daily demon: Valac, assorted links to revisit plus the Torlonia Marbles

four years ago: vintage virtual dressing rooms, happy birthday Volodymyr Zelenskyy, more on the US Space Force plus Mendelssohn’s Wedding March

five year ago:  photojournalist Jessie Tarbox Beals, a Droste homage, more links to enjoy, a Trump associate arrested plus cardinal notions

Monday 22 January 2024

goody goodwife (11. 286)

Written as an allegory for McCarthyism, the Red Scare during which left-leaning views were repressed and politicians and private individuals were systematically repressed over fear of Soviet infiltration and Communist influence with most accusations ultimately found to be exaggerated if not outright false, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible had its premier performance on this day in 1953 at the Broadway Martin Beck Theatre. Speculating with the opening narrative (following on with each act) that the theocratic society of the Puritans, isolation and unstable conditions contributed to the paranoia and hostility, the play is set in colonial Massachusetts during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Though some liberties were taken to fully limn out the litigants and the sentenced, most of the names and events are dramatised from court records.

synchronoptica

one year ago: US Supreme Court rules on Roe v Wade (1973) plus artist Sophie Hollington, AI on fantasy glam rock plus the door gods of the Lunar New Year

two years ago: the new normal (2003), Our Town (1938), AI suggests breakfast cereal plus a 1972 interview with David Bowie

three years ago: the death of Queen Victoria, another MST3K classic plus unnamed implements

four years ago: assorted links to revisit,  the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb corrected, Trump and the tabloids plus an upcoming auspicious date

five years ago: artist Max Guther, a celebration of blank video cassettes plus Apple’s 1984 commercial

Thursday 18 January 2024

ascendant masters (11. 277)

The always excellent Linkfest from Clive Thompson directs us to revisit a 1905 theosophical volume co-authored by Annie Besant, orator, activist for Indian independence and atheist and later adherent of founder Madame Blavatsy, and CW Leadbeater, writer occultist and co-founder of the Liberal Catholic Church, called Thought-Forms, a study of how the human mind “extrudes” these visualisations of experiences, emotions and music into the external world, formed as subtle bodies observed by clairvoyants. Tinted by colour, sympathetic vibrations and the aether as expressions of quality, nature (like the pictured happy thoughts) and directedness, these manifestations are created either by feelings, experience, mediations or in their highest form, music, as in this vision formed from the operas of Charles-Franรงois Gounod. Whilst written for a specific, receptive audience, the astral diagrams have broader appeal and were influential to the world of modern, abstract art, particularly Wassily Kandinski, Piet Mondrian, and Hilma af Klint, and inform to an extent the concept of synaesthesia.

synchronoptica 

one year ago:the High Committee of the French Language plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: the musical stylings of Manuel Gรถttsching plus time flies

three years ago: Stevie Wonder’s Happy Birthday and Martin Luther King Jr 

four years ago: railbanked railroads, separating entertainment and news plus more links to enjoy

five years ago: more links worth the revisit plus performance of the Diva Dance from Fifth Element

Wednesday 17 January 2024

10x10 (11. 276)

durianrider and banana girl: a personal account of joining a fringe diet community and subsequent de-programming  

curricula: an archive of Japanese school books from 1898 

i’m feeling lucky: a mostly facetious collection of laws about discourse from Osmo Antero Wiio that posits that communication usually fail except by accident 

it’s not your imagination: research shows that Google search, overrun by competition for rankings, has gotten worse—along with other indexing engines  

flickr commons: sixteen stories for the image platform’s sixteenth birthday—via Waxy  

pps: Chuck Wendig warns against using AI to enhance one’s creative outlets

chevron v natural defence council: US Supreme Court posed to overturn a forty-year precedence on regulators and agency enforcement—more here   

rewatch: Netflix is airing a bevy of classic films, celebrating their milestone anniversaries 

reference desk: as part of an “inappropriate content review,” a US school district is banning dictionaries and encyclopaedias 

the ouroboros of the passive-income scam: an escape from a get rich quick cult

Sunday 7 January 2024

ensh*ttification (11. 250)

As shared by Waxy, the venerable American Dialect Society, founded in 1889, selected as its Word of the Year (technically referred to in the broader sense as a “vocabulary item”) the coinage from Cory Doctorow used to describe, and perfectly encapsulate, how digital platforms degrade and become decrepit, following a tragic bait and switch trajectory of first being good and usefully, then abusing users by commoditising them for the sake of advertisers to finally abuse those sponsors and shunt value for themselves as a brand—to die the death. Among other contenders short-listed were ceasefire for those calling to stop the hostilities in Palestine, context for its invocations from university presidents on free-speech, Kenaissance for the depiction of the heroine’s companion in the Barbie movie, “let someone cook” as an urging to allow an individual to do something they are good at without interference and stochastic parrot for the tendency of language models to generate plausible text without any understanding. The jury also announced categories of most useful, mostly likely to succeed, such as a gendered-x, girl math, boy math and era defined as a personal period of defining style or behaviour. Their euphemism of the year nominees included effective altruism as a movement to benefit all of humanity but as an excuse to spend the money of others, and in the politics category, ๐Ÿ‰ (employed for the similar colours to the flag) was picked as a symbol of solidarity with the people of Gaza with hot labour summer in second place. More at the links above.

synchronoptica

one year ago: close-up photos of the year, the US House of Congress elects a Speaker, a tiny generative remixer, Emperor Norton I plus assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: the Slovak gaming community, the Tokyo metro in real-time, Powers of Ten, St Distaff’s Day, more links to enjoy, Web 3.0 plus Macron’s vulgarities

three years ago: words that are their own opposites plus the introduction of DALL·E

four years ago: here come the seventies, an animated medieval songbook, the tattoos of a Danish king, fancy apple varieties plus covering GITMO

five years ago: more Japanese New Year cards plus more on the Year of the Periodic Table

Monday 1 January 2024

spoiler alert (11. 235)

Turning our attention to past movies set in the then future of our present (hopefully not prophetic), the first round goes to the 1975 darkly, problematically comedic post-apocalyptic adaptation of the Harlan Ellison novella of the same name. A teenager portrayed by Don Johnson (Miami Vice) scavenges through the wastelands of the US southwest following a nuclear war accompanied by his telepathic dog (voiced by Tim McIntire). Orphaned at an early age with no formal education or socialisation, the adolescent is focused on survival, interested solely in food and sex—conquests secured with the aid of his canine companion in exchange for meals as the genetic modifications that bestowed super-intelligence leaves him incapable of tasks like hunting. After numerous run-ins with bandits, mutants and rogue androids, the teenager is eventually recruited by an aristocratic scout of a subterranean colony as a stud to help with low viable breeding population. A preview and links to the whole movie available at Weird Universe above.  Most other selections seemed to be based in 2024 for purely arbitrary reasons and only two to three years behind when they were produced—with the exception of the 1999 Josef Rusnak and Roland Emmerich vehicle that was overshadowed by the similarly themed Matrix and was a victim to the strange echo-phenomena of “twin films”that sometimes happens in Hollywood (due to screenplay shopping and submission to multiple studios, industrial secrecy and espionage), like the asteroid flicks Armageddon and Deep Impact, Dante’s Peak and Volcano, 1981’s The Howling, Wolfen and An American Werewolf in London, Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down, or on stage Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar. A multibillion dollar computer company in then present-day Los Angeles is experimenting with a virtual reality simulation of the city in 1937 populated by individuals unaware that they are part of a program. Entering the simulation in order to solve the mysterious death of the company CEO, the protagonist and heir to the enterprise (and a prime suspect) finds clues that lead to the revelation that thousands of parallel virtual worlds exist but there is only one reality whose inhabitants have developed a virtual world of their own, but having a pocket metaverse within another does not necessarily result in privilege or insight. The protagonist disconnects and emerges into reality advanced a quarter of a century.

Tuesday 26 December 2023

resume your seat, little sister—i want you to stay fresh and pretty—for gentlemen callers (11. 217)

Premiering in Chicago on this day in 1944, Tennessee Williams’ (previously) first critically successful work propelled the playwright to stardom from relative obscurity. The memory play which includes strong autobiographical elements—excusing the unreliable narrator—recalls the trials of the Wingfield family, an absent and abusive father, a faded southern belle of a mother, a long-suffering son that supports them in his St Louis apartment with a dull job at a shoe warehouse and his older sister, a painfully shy individual with a slight disfigurement from a childhood illness and retreats into her own world of fragile figurines. With Tennessee Williams popping up frequently, I am realising that a lot of what I used to think about mental health and its aberrations was informed by such histrionics and wonder if anyone else was similarly influenced.  Despite its long runs and revival and many radio and television adaptations, it was only made into a film twice—once in 1950, with Jane Wyman and Kirk Douglas, and then again in 1987, directed by Paul Newman and starring Karen Allen, Joanne Woodward, James Naughton and John Malkovich.

Tuesday 12 December 2023

10x10 (11. 184)

arrows of time: a timeline tracing the evolution of human understanding through various magisteria—via the new shelton wet/dry  

horary quandrant: oldest dated English time-keeping instrument goes under the hammer—see previously  

guten morgen: the newly launched Nightjet service between Berlin and Paris marks a return of sleeper trains—see previously 

the beef and dairy network: industry delegates and lobbyists triple at COP28 

theory of mind: researchers reveal a deep chasm in how perception varies from individual to individual  

animation v physics: Alan Becker’s follow on video to Animation v Maths—via Waxy  

oed: the joys of exploring the authoritative dictionary—see previously  

rewind: carbon removal technology is also a time-machine—though presently only able to move the needle a little—via Good Internet 

 the year in search: Google presents its annual review  

the great scrollback: the Verge’s features the best archived tweets

Friday 8 December 2023

7x7 (11. 170)

recueil de la diversitรฉ des habits: a 1562 volume of national dress from around the world—including the costumes of mermonks 

psychedelic cryptography: a contest to make hidden messages that only can be deciphered in a state of altered consciousness—Waxy  

schallloch: the acoustic development of violin f-holes

thus the unfacts, did we possess them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude: a dedicated, careful reading of James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake 

hiveopolis: a project to create hybrid, smart bee colonies with robots tasked to defend the queen  

fluid dynamics: winner of the American Physical Society’s visualising science goes to the process of making marbled paper—see previously  

smock-frock: the hidden history of the outer garment traditionally worn by shepherds and waggoners

synchronoptica

one year ago: Hotel California (1976) plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: the depths of Wikipedia plus a hackers’ collective

three years ago: your daily demon: Alloces, Mobil Armoured Strike Kommand, more links to revisit, the death of John Lennon (1980) plus the third emblem of the Red Cross

four years ago: more links worth visiting

Saturday 2 December 2023

duck or rabbit (11. 157)

Though this gallery of visual anagrams enhanced by AI and part of a school thesis—via the always engaging Web Curios—relies on many of the familiar tropes of optical illusions, like Einstein-Monroe transformations, reversals, skewed perspective and textual ambigrams, the collection of dynamic paintings and sketches built with diffusion models that one can tweak and re-code to create works of one’s own is pretty spectacular. We agree, moreover with the editorial that one should spend a moment pouring over these examples—as considering the pace of change, the magic is only guaranteed for a limited amount of time.

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit, an unsuccessful space opera, the US Taiwan-Relations Act, celebrity anagrams plus Planet Pizza

two years ago: Angela Merkel steps down 

three years ago: Wonder Woman first appears in animated form, Emil and the Detectives (1931), CBC’s Larry Logo plus Trump’s daughter ostracised 

four years ago: the University of Leipzig (1409) plus outrage and polling

five years ago: more links to enjoy,  Bohemian Hanukkah plus UPA animation studios

Friday 1 December 2023

9x9 (11. 156)

the saw lady: the virtuosity of Natalia Paruz  

tribalism: the worsening internet is an uncomfortable fun-house reflection of our inchoate proclivities  

holiday train show: a miniature NYC constructed from twigs and leaves at the city’s Botanical Garden  

bouzingos: the overlooked precursor to the Bohemian subculture  

microsleep: penguins take ten thousand seconds’ long naps per day to be rested but alert in noisy, hunted colonies

state-sanctioned socialist realism: the artistic duo of Komar and Melamid who turned subversive 

fairytale of new york: celebrating the life and talent of legendary Pogues’ singer Shane MacGowan—see previously, see also  

all about winning: Japan’s buzzword of the year continues a baseball-related streak 

busking: mapping live music public venues