Saturday, 8 January 2022

baby bells

Though not coming into force until the first of the year in 1984, the consent decree mandating the breakup and divestiture of the Bell System’s monopoly, vertical integration of telephone services in the US and Canada was finalised on this day in 1982. American Telephone & Telegraph could still provide long-distance services but was subject to competition and could no longer require subscribers—locally use telephonic equipment produced by its subsidiaries. The regional companies were independent and control of the Yellow Pages—the telephone directory—and the research and development branch, Bell Labs, were decentralised and given to the successor holding companies.

Monday, 27 December 2021

machine of the year

The franchise quite the subject of speculation and a holiday dinner topic of discussion not reserved just for those in business of superlative journalism, annuals or even necessarily consumer electronics, TIME magazine—breaking with a tradition stretching back to 1927, for the first time on this day announced that to a computer would go the distinction on this day in 1982, ahead of the publication of its 5 January 1983 edition. Introducing the special issue’s theme, the publishers wrote that “several human candidates might have represented the year,” with reportedly Steve Jobs quite upset he didn’t receive the honour, but the panel decided that the hardware would be best viewed by history as limning the times and marking the beginning of an era and way of life once the exclusive domain of hobbyist into something more accessible (see also) and mainstream. Though perhaps not as pervasive nor fully articulated, the kernel of most things we do with computers—the Cloud called mainframes back then and algorithms less opaque. Articles for the magazine that uniquely covered the only human-made object to be awarded the honour were composed on typewriters and layout done by hand, though in that coming year, the departments would begin to use word-processors.

Saturday, 2 October 2021

how does it feel when you got no food?

Released mid-September as a single from their debut studio album, The Youth of Today, the song from the British-Jamaican reggae band topped the UK charts this week in 1982 with their bowdlerised cover of The Mighty Diamonds’ 1981 tune “Pass the Kutchie,” a slang term for a cannabis pipe from the patois for Dutch oven, which excised and substituted all drug references for poverty, launching the song’s popularity outside of the Caribbean community. The original line “How does it feel when you got no herb?” became the above but with dutchie itself becoming synonymous with a marijuana joint. Give me the music—make me jump and prance.

Sunday, 29 August 2021


First synthesised on this day in 1982 at the Darmstadt Institute for Heavy Ion Research (GIS, Gesellschaft fรผr Schwerionforschung) the synthetic meitnerium (Mt) was given the above provisional designation following Grigory Mendeleev’s nomenclature for undiscovered atomic elements—the convention becoming a placeholder shortly before its discovery with the controversy over the honours and naming-system being overhauled.
The research-team wanted to recognise the previously overlooked contributions of physicist Lise Meitner for her pioneering work in nuclear fission and her co-discovery of the element protactinium with Otto Hahn. Curium being named for both Pierre and Marie Curie, meitnerium is the only element named for a non-mythological woman. Because of its half-life of mere seconds even in the most stable isotope, few of its chemical properties are known though study continues, and its periodic neighbours, hassium and darmstadtium, are both named for the above laboratory.

Thursday, 1 July 2021

looks like a jungle sometimes, makes me wonder how i keep from going under

Released as a single on this day in 1982, we learn from our faithful chronicler, and later featuring on the group’s first namesake studio album in October, The Message by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five was among the first hip hop composition to deliver a message of social commentary and the stress of urban blight and poverty. Duke Bootee and Melle Mel were inspired to pen the song two years before during the New York City mass-transit strike.

Saturday, 31 October 2020

nos sumus una familia

Declaring its independence on this day in 1977, residents of a triangle of streets in Notting Dale, West London formed the Free Independent Republic of Frestonia, inspired by Freetown Christiania in Copenhagen and the comedy Passport to Pimlico—putting the matter to a referendum with an overwhelming majority in favour of secession and many of those further advocating joining the European Economic Community.
Learning that the city council had designs on redeveloping the neighbourhood, the community of artists and squatters originally tried as a whole adopting the same surname (we are all one family, like the motto above)—Bramley, one of the roads forming the border of the micronation (see previously), so the city would be compelled to re-house them collectively, though that ploy failed. Lasting until 1982, the fully-functional state dissolved once an acceptable deal was reached with the developers—though not to everyone’s satisfaction. Architecturally, the art gallery The People’s Hall is all that remains from the days of independence—which also served as recording, rehearsal studios for The Clash and Motรถrhead. More to explore from Weird Universe at the link above.

Saturday, 24 October 2020

when the wind blows

Premiering on this day in 1986, the animated adaptation of the eponymous Raymond Briggs’ comic book—previously introduced to the public as a BBC radio play—marked the artist’s follow-on collaboration with the studio and directorship of Jimmy Murakami and musical stylings of David Bowie (Roger Waters of The Who thanks Dad Pink Floyd, Genesis, Squeeze and Paul Hardcastle also contributed to the soundtrack) after their 1982 success with The Snowman—another tune I regularly hum to myself. Based on Briggs’ own parents, the narrative accounts the efforts of a rural couple to maintain normalcy and survive in a nearby nuclear bomb blast. The attack portrayed was meant to be collateral from the escalating conflict of the Soviets in Afghanistan, and despite the bleak subject, the presentation encouraged viewers to stick with it until the end. Here is the trailer below and full version of the graphic novel read through here and the full score at the link


Thursday, 25 June 2020

commerce is our goal here at tyrrel—more human than human is our motto

On this day, as our faithful chronicler reports, among many other events of great pith and moment, and sharing the box office with John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing, Ridley Scott’s film opened in 1982.
Starring Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer with music by Vangelis, the initially polarising and underperforming film defined the genre of neo-noir and is loosely based on the Philip K. Dick novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?—the name for the bounty-hunters coming from a William S. Burrough’s story about a dystopian future (set in 2009) reliant on an underground network of healthcare.

Sunday, 21 June 2020

satellite news channel

Launching on this day in 1982 and several months prematurely due to its inspiration’s and competition’s debut of its spin-off channel Headline News (originally called CNN2) with a similar format to their planned approach to programming, the short-lived collaboration between the American Broadcasting Company and Group Westinghouse Satellite Communications, SNC, has a logo that looks like an generic, expository news channel from a movie if not completely out of a different timeline altogether.
It packaged world and national news reports in eighteen minute blocks allotting the rest of the newscast, repeating on the half-hour with alternating segments dedicated to weather, sports, business and entertainment, to regional and local reporting. Despite the network’s willingness to pay cable companies a fee to carry SNC—contrary to business practises at the time when cable companies passed the costs per channel onto prescribers—it failed to breakthough in US television markets—eventually conceding their transponder space to HLN as their intellectual, having adopted more of their programming rotation into their broadcast day, if not business heirs, and the venture folded after eighteen months of operation. Their theme music was briefly used by the Entertainment and Sport Programming Network, ESPN.

Monday, 16 September 2019


In the early hours of this morning in 1979, eight members of two families, realising the fruition of a plot hatched over a year and a half beforehand with careful planning and patience so as not to arouse suspicion, one attempt that ended in resounding failure that almost led to their capture and detention and brought heavier surveillance plus three hand-stitched balloon membranes, crossed from PรถรŸneck in East Germany to Naila just over the border in Bavaria in a hand-engineered hot air balloon with navigation improvised. Read (or listen to) the full story about the harrowing heroics of the families Strelzyk and Wetzel and their determination to secure a future in the West at the link above.

Thursday, 25 July 2019

tears in the rain

Veteran Dutch actor Rutger Hauer passed away at the age of seventy-five. Among numerous credits to his name over a career that spanned decades, his portrayal of rogue Replicant Roy Batty in 1982’s Blade Runner is probably his most iconic and memorable—especially so for the self-scripted soliloquy his character, cornered, delivered from a wet rooftop before powering down, the android (see also) aware of his imminent mortality built into his programming: “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I’ve watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhรคuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in the rain. Time... to die.” Batty expires (the film itself set in the year 2019) having just rescued the Special Agent Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) from a fall, hunting Batty down so he can “retire” him.