Friday 21 June 2024

dmz (11. 643)

Unnerved by just concluded two-state visit by the Russian president to strengthen alliances with North Korea and Vietnam and fears that the pact may see flows of munitions not only for Russia to continue to prosecute its invasion and occupation of Ukraine but also concerns that Seoul’s neighbour would be receiving technical assistance in developing its nuclear and aerospace programmes and emboldened border incursions, South Korea is considering augmenting its support to the beleaguered nation with lethal weapons, which it has so far not provided. As counter-programming to the recently held gathering in Switzerland of eighty nations reaffirming their commitment for Ukraine support and condemnation of Putin’s war, the Russian leader re-emphasised that materiel aid for Ukraine makes other countries direct belligerents and reserves the right to do the same against the West and its allies.


one year ago: the US supreme court sets benchmarks for obscenity (with synchronoptica) plus assorted links worth revisiting

six years ago: regional linguistic delicacies plus RIP Koko the Gorilla

seven years ago: soylent, structural fungi plus procrastination and motivation

eight years ago: Sigur Rรณs, neighbourhood archaeology, Wedgwood heels plus more on gun violence in America

nine years ago: Max Richter’s Sleep

Sunday 18 February 2024

ั€ะตะฒะพะปัŽั†ั–ั ะณั–ะดะฝะพัั‚ั– (11. 359)

At the end of the Euromaidan protests, a series of demonstrations and civil unrest beginning the previous November in response to the president’s sudden reversal on signing the European Union-Ukraine Association Agreement—instead against the Verkhova Rada choosing to forge closer ties with Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union—and against government corruption and abuse of power, the Revolution of Dignity began on this day in Kyiv in 2014 with violent clashes between authorities and the opposition. Five days of rallying resulted in the ousting of Viktor Yanukovich and the restoration of the amendments to the constitution put in place a decade earlier (won during the Orange Revolution, installing a parliamentary system that put checks on the office of the presidency). Having fled the city for Kharkiv, a majority of the rada voted to remove Yanukovych from office on 22 February and free political prisoners, and in absentia, Yanukovych appealed to Russia for help in this “coup” and reinstall him. Within a few days, Russia deployed peacekeeping troops to Crimea, occupying the peninsula and eventually annexing it and stoking secession in regions in the south and east of the country.


one year ago: the King Biscuit Flour Hour (1973), assorted links to revisit using the seas to pull carbon from the air

two years ago: more links to enjoy, a collection of dynamic historical maps plus more time-slice photography

three years ago: a tour of North Korea, ditches and retaining walls plus therblig units

four years ago: corporate Christian America, the art collective Inges Idee plus RIP Andrew Weatherall

five years ago: a stellar eclipse, more official state crap, Minnie Pearl, Petri dish lamps plus the Know-Nothing’s first political convention

Friday 16 February 2024

forgive me if this sounds pompous, but it’s better to die standing up than live on your knees (11. 354)

Against the backdrop of the Munich Security Conference during which his widow was scheduled to speak, the Russian presidential election less than a month away, Trump’s rubbishing of the NATO alliance, the US withholding foreign aid for Ukraine and the prospect of another term locked, vocal critic of Vladimir Putin and official corruption Alexei Navalny has been found dead in the remote arctic penal colony where he has been transferred recently, detained for the past three years, foregoing exile in Germany. Recuperating from a case of poisoning in 2021 that was blamed on the Kremlin, Navalny choose to return to Russia and register to run for the presidency (having finished in a close second against the incumbent mayor of Moscow in 2013 despite the backing of Putin’s political machine) and accept almost certain arrest in order to continue his oppositional stance. Navalny was serving a nineteen year sentence, charged with the crime of extremism.

Tuesday 13 February 2024

9x9 (11.348)

unwanted legacy: Russia puts Estonian prime minister on wanted list for dismantling monuments to Soviet soldiers 

banned book rainbow: LeVar Burton hosts a very special episode on books banned by adults who don’t want kids to learn, grow or change—via Kottke  

clothesline, skyline: a look at Shanghai’s ubiquitous outdoors drying racks  

blinkerwall: ten-thousand year old megastructure in the Baltic could be Europe’s oldest  

everynoise: layoffs and downsizing at Spotify spell the end of the serendipitous musical encyclopaedia—see previously  

essentially cenobitical: one year in the life of a part time hermit—via the new Shelton wet/dry 

running amoc: the trajectory of the climate catastrophe blows past a calamitous tipping-point  

clearing the docket: upcoming inflection points in the criminal cases against Trump  

portal kombat: French authorities uncover a vast Russian disinformation network designed to overwhelm fact checkers

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

Saturday 4 November 2023

wait a second (11. 096)

Whilst the leap second (previously), by dint of their frequent insertion, can cause havoc for computer systems, meant to compensate for the drift between the drift between official Earth time and variations in the planet’s orbit around the Sun, the suggestion for their replacement with a higher order of magnitude every half-century by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) by a Leap Minute has been met with opposition. The Russian delegation, according to the Bureau international des poids et mesures, is opposed as its satellite global positioning system, GLONASS, competing with the US-standard GPS won’t be fully synchronised until 2040 as well as the Vatican, which has concerned itself with accuracy in time-keeping since its inception and the advent of the Gregorian Calendar, as well as the technology community, citing the annoyance of these drills (the difference between Atomic Time and Universal Coordinated Time), a longer gap in resetting the clocks could result could result in a lapsed skill set and the subsequent experiential debt could lead to short-sighted problems that contributed to the y2k problem.

Wednesday 13 September 2023

sacred stuggle (10. 999)

Arriving his private armoured train over the sliver of a shared border between Russian and North Korea, Kim Jong Un (whom rarely leaves the country) with Vladimir Putin at the Vostochy cosmodrome to tour the facilities and discuss a weapons deal, occasioned by Russia running a deficit on munition shells due to the protracted invasion of Ukraine and turning to the heavily stockpiled peninsula dating from the Cold War, reportedly offering in exchange to the isolated and destitute nation food aid and expertise in developing reconnaissance satellites in furtherance of the developing atomic weapons programme. Though once opposed to allowing unstable neighbours going nuclear and participating in sanctions against North Korea for its pursuit, Russia now seems willing—as with its cache of drones from Iran, to take these risks including the possibility of selling on technologies to arms-dealers even less allied and a bipolar geopolitical landscape with the West on one side and Russia’s sphere of tenuous influence. Kim reaffirmed his support for “to defend its state sovereignty and protect its security” echoing rhetoric used to justify invading Ukraine and Putin graciously accepted his counterpart’s invitation for a state visit.


one year ago: the Poet Laureate’s tribute to the Queen, the Beatles’ Apple Electronics venture plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: your daily demon: Marchosias, more links to enjoy, the first teenage all music and dance show plus the release of Super Mario Brothers (1985)

three years ago: dissecting the original COVID hotspot, more on radio alphabets, The Stand, the stately manor that inspired Wuthering Heights plus St Venerius

four years ago: more links to enjoy

five years ago: willpower and endurance, more on the monomyth plus an ad-filled rocking chair

Wednesday 23 August 2023

rosaviatsiya (10. 960)

Unsurprisingly given the series of defenestrations and accidents involving those critical of the Russian government and how the mercenary chief signed his own death warrant and was living on bored time with an aborted coup—angry with the direction that the invasion of Ukraine had taken and his march on Moscow halted, charges of treason in exchange for disbanding the Wagner Group and exile to Belarus, the crash of a private jet travelling from the capital to St Petersburg was still a chilling reminder of Putin’s vengeance and a stark warning to the opposition. The civil aviation authority immediately reported that Yevgeny Prigozhin was on the manifest of the flight and that he and nine others (among those other senior leadership from the private army) on board were dead—though it is still unclear what exactly has transpired. Putin, in South Africa attending a BRICS conference, has not yet responded to the news. Mr Prigozhin, related to the summit of emerging world economies, recently produced a recruitment video for soldiers of fortune on the continent.

Monday 17 July 2023

tรชte de pont (10. 891)

Within hours of the announcement that a deal brokered by Tรผrkiye that would allow vital Ukrainian grain shipments would be allowed to resume from Black Sea ports, forces attacked (sabotaged for the second time) the bridge linking the Russian mainland to the peninsula illegally annexed by Russian in 2014, prompting the Kremlin to call off the deal and continue its naval blockade. The overland corridor across the Kerch straits which allows would-be vacation-goers to bypass most of the war zone is also, according to Ukrainian military intelligence, a logistics hub for moving men and materiel deeper into Ukrainian territory and the multi-billion dollar, nineteen kilometres long bridge was considered a prestige project. The EU and UN accuse Russia of weaponising food staples as the embargo will only exacerbate shortage and inflation in developing nations dependent on these exports.

Sunday 25 June 2023

ะฒะพััั‚ะฐะฝะธะต (10. 832)

More than half-way to the capital under lockdown and preparing for a siege with the whereabouts of Putin unknown, a negotiated truce brokered by Alexander Lukashenko at the behest of the Russian president saw Wagner group boss call off the march to Moscow with blanket amnesty for the mercenaries who participated in the insurrection (with the option of enlisting in the regular army) and the boss Yevgeny Prigozhin’s exile to Belarus, facing no criminal charges. Praised for his efforts in preserving peace within the federation, Lukashenko can possibly use the de-escalation as a bargaining chip to forestall the its planned annexation by Russia and prevent deployment of Belarusian armed forces in the Ukrainian occupation and the abrupt turn of events leaves more unresolved, particularly the standing of Russian leadership, brought to the brink by the tantalising promise of rebellion.


one year ago: assorted links to revisit 

two years ago: jimoto—local favour, weird vintage McDonald’s commercials plus word jazz on colours 

three years ago: more on exonyms and demonyms, Rhode Island’s name gets less racist, Blade Runner (1982), butterfly spotting plus returning the Lamentation of Christ 

four years ago: the first Rainbow Flag flown (1978) plus Dutch bicycle culture 

five years ago: cutting off Qatar, a trip to Urspringen plus the adventuresome Piccard brothers

Saturday 24 June 2023

ะผัั‚ะตะถ (10. 830)

Mercenary forces of the Wagner group have mutinied following escalating tensions between the organisation’s leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, and the Russian Ministry of Defence, with allegations that corruption and incompetency has squandered initial successes in the invasion of Ukraine and talk of the MoD nationalising these soldiers-of-fortune after rather unrestrained criticism which dismissed Russian pretexts for occupation as only benefiting the parasitical elites who depend on the grace and favour of Putin to retain their standing. Wagner troops captured Rostov-on-Don, the command and control centre in the occupied Donbas region and have crossed over into Russian-proper territory, reportedly marching onward to Moscow. Characterising the oligarchs and the extreme inequality between the comfortably oblivious and those families sending their sons to fight and die for an illegal and pointless war as a prelude to the social unrest that sparked the 1917 revolution against the aristocracy, Prigozhin apparently brought the wrath of the Russian army on one unit, firing missiles at a camp of Wagner troops—though this open provocation quickly transformed into a rallying point with a column advancing first to the southern city of Voronezh. In response, Chechnya has mobilised its military against the attempted coup in order to “preserve Russian unity” and the Kremlin has increased security. Events are unfolding at an unprecedented speed and some voices are pronouncing the beginnings of if not a civil war then surely a severe blow to Putin’s hold on power.

Wednesday 10 May 2023

8x8 (10. 730)

grift for the mill: New York congressional representative George Santos (previously) surrenders to federal authorities for arraignment on thirteen counts of criminal deceit and defrauding donors 

choose or loose: following the shuttering of Buzzfeed and the uncertain future of Vice, Paramount shuts down MTV News, cutting a quarter of its global workforce—see more, see also

in-go-nom-pa-shi: a Plains Indian Sign Talk primer—via Nag on the Lake 

i want to believe: UFO-hunters’ grassroots surveillance network project to scan the skies 

past-exonerative tense: copaganda and other choice of tone that normalise police violence—see also  

krรณlewiec: Poland renames the Russian exclave with a native endonym, in what is deemed a hostile act by Moscow  

content farms: AI chatbots being used to generate dozens of breaking news sites to draw advertisers—via the new shelton wet/dry  

townhall: CNN takes a big risk in giving Trump a platform with a live studio audience—see previously

Wednesday 3 May 2023

no-fly zone (10. 716)

Responding to accusations from the Kremlin that Ukraine carried out alleged drone strikes overnight to assassinate the leader of the Russian Federation with “We don’t attack Putin or Moscow. We fight on our territory,” Volodymyr Zelensky frames the attack as a false-flag operation and a pretence for retaliation. Unverified footage being circulated appears to the aftermath of a thwarted operation, with no casualties and Putin being absent from the capitol compound at the time, both straining credulity and calling into question the degree of protection that Mr Putin really is afforded and whether the security theatre is commensurate with the apparent paranoia. The culmination of a recent series of sabotage blamed on Ukraine, the Russian government is labelling the “Kyiv regime” as terrorists to be eliminated.

Tuesday 4 April 2023

liittyminen (10. 654)

In a ceremony that saw the raising of the national banner joining thirty others at the international defence pact headquarter’s and coinciding with the aniversary of the founding of the organisation in 1949, Finland’s accession to NATO, approved by all members in under a year and prompted by Russian aggression in the region more than doubles its the size of the border abutting the Western alliance and Russia. In a process that saw its formal beginning in last May, along with neighbouring Sweden, Finland abandoned decades of military nonalignment for increased security and mutual, multilateral response.

Wednesday 8 March 2023

let us pray for the salvation of all of those who live in totalitarian darkness (10. 598)

Once again as our faithful chronicler informs, on this day in 1983 Ronald Reagan in a speech during the height of the Cold War and the Soviet-Afghan conflict delivered before the conference of the National Association of Evangelicals in Orlando, Florida characterised the Soviet Union (see previously) as an “evil empire” and “focus of evil in the modern world,” roundly rejecting prevailing geopolitical opinion that both the West and the East were responsible for the escalating clash of ideologies and reframing the arms-race as a battle between the forces of righteousness and malevolence. Referencing ongoing talks of anti-nuclear proliferation treaties, Reagan urged the audience to “beware the temptation of pride—the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault”—that to call the escalating push for tactical readiness a misunderstanding that can be resolved through negotiations was to remove oneself “from the struggle between right and wrong, good and evil.” Five years later during a visit with General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, Reagan recanted his words to a reporter, saying it was from “another time, another era” as a disarmament detente was building.

Sunday 26 February 2023

8x8 (10. 575)

of bunkers and bridges: the government fall-out shelter behind Reykjavรญk’s Bรบstaรฐakirkja 

the outfit says soundgarden, and the zine says bikini kill but the bedroom set definite says chemical brothers: the new historical American Girl Doll is from the 90s  

hobbyist for hire: a tribute to the amateurs that inform so much of our professional base knowledge 

tiger by the tail: exploring the forgotten history of the big cat on the edges of Hong Kong  

a project for a metropole: the impossible, monumental architecture proposed eighteenth century influencer ร‰tienne-Louis Boullรฉe—see also 

ahh ridiculous: the 1960 space exploration film 12 to the Moon, with an international crew, which also received the MST3K send-up 

internyet: a look inside the obscure Russian agency charged with censoring the web

Wednesday 15 February 2023

tonight on amerika (10. 549)

As our faithful chronicler informs, the miniseries starring Mariel Hemingway, Sam Neill and Kris Kristofferson about the US after a bloodless coup engineered by the Soviet Union (set a decade on) was first broadcast on this day in 1987 over the course of a week—see also here and here. Implicated that America and other client states succumbed to Soviet control following an electromagnetic pulse weapon that destroyed the power grid and economic independence by targeting emerging reliance on computers, the show that inspired an even more patriotic novelisation was characterised both as hawkish hysteria and alternately as an indictment of the UN as an instrument of a one world government and damaging to relations recently improved under Glasnost. Highly divisive, Moscow threatened to close network ABC’s Russia news bureau over its airing and in response (and I remember watching this) The Discovery Channel ran sixty-six hours of counter-programming of Soviet television, including live shows.

Sunday 5 February 2023

9x9 (10. 527)

famous one hundred twenty-three metre spire of salisbury cathedral: Polish coast guard rescues divers near critical infrastructure who were searching for amber 

macroagression: some GOP members in the US congress have switched their American flag lapels for tiny assault rifles—see also  

backbox: watch composer and sound designer Suzanne Ciani, Diva of the Diode, create a soundscape for a pinball game  

donks: a new animated short from Felix Colgrave explores lost cargo, avatars and adaptive bottom feeders  

mastodon flock: find your following—via Waxy  

cel-ray: a peppery, celery soda that one can still find for sale  

rosetta stone: two trilingual ancient clay tablets rediscovered help scholars decipher a lost Canaanite script  

brought down by the left-wing economic establishment: Liz Truss attempts to revive her political career with a long screed in the Sunday Telegraph  

sรฆstrengur: Iceland developing contingency plans in case the undersea cables connecting it to the rest of the world are severed

Tuesday 31 January 2023

the golden arches theory (10. 512)

On the anniversary of the opening of the first McDonald’s establishment in Pushkin Square in 1990—an earlier earnest effort was undertaken by the Canadian master franchise for the 1980 Summer Olympic Games, famously boycotted by America, realising the host city offered no fast food options, arranged to open two pop-up restaurants by the main stadium but the plan was vetoed at the last minute by Moscow’s mayor, it’s a good occasion to visit the above adage of globalisation from Thomas Friedman that no belligerents both host McDonald’s. This conflict prevention measure is flawed, however, with the US invasion of Panama, the bombing of Serbia, Lebanon, the annexation of Crimea which shut down Russian outlets temporarily and the divesture of the company following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Nearly forty-thousand guests were served that day, queuing in the cold for hours.

Sunday 29 January 2023

gentlemen—there’s no fighting in the war room (10. 508)

Starring George C Scott, Sterling Hayden, Slim Pickens and Peter Sellers in multiple roles, Stanley Kubrick’s Cold War bleak satire—previouslyStrangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. An air command’s executive officer tries to countermand a first strike being ordered by General Ripper on the pretext that Soviets have been fluoridating US water supplies in order to dilute the “precious bodily fluids” of Americans but fails, setting off a course of events that led to the USSR deploying its heretofore undisclosed doomsday machine, which as the president’s science advisor, ex-German Nazi Dr Strangelove would only be an effective deterrent if everyone knew about it.