Wednesday 3 July 2024

maccagno inferiore (11. 660)

We took a nice stroll through the village and explored the oldest part of the settlement with the Oratorium Madonna della Punta, a sanctuary with grottoes at the head of the old harbour. 

A path around the road tunnel at the beginning of the city crossed over the street and continued into the maze of alleyways and picturesque residences that formed around the core of the imperial tower and mint (Zecca). 

We got a little lost in the passageways but eventually found our way and returned via the promenade along the beach, the weather turning stormy again and the water roiling with waves.
one year ago: superlative drone photos (with synchronoptica), Ziggy Star-Dust retires, assorted links to revisit plus composer Ligeti
nine years ago: philosopher Avicenna, even more links worth revisiting plus the American Revolution framed as a mistake
ten years ago: shifting contractions

Tuesday 18 June 2024

kyffhรคuserdenkmal (11. 637)

Dedicated on this day in 1896 (on the anniversary of the coronation of the latter) after six years of construction under the direction of architect Bruno Schmitz, the colossal memorial also known as the Barbarossa Monument erected on the ruins of the medieval Kyffhauser Castle is the third commemorative ensemble in Germany (see above—we visited in April of 2010) and one of a number commissioned posthumously in honour of Emperor Wilhelm I of Prussia. 

The foundations of the imperial castle from the first millennium and associated with the reign of Frederick I Barbarossa are well preserved, such as the keep and a well that is the deepest from the Middle Ages. Heralded after his death, the Kaiser was seen as his political and culturally unifying descendant and inheritor of the Barbarossa legend, the trope of the sleeping king, king under the mountain (Bergentrรผcken—including lore about King David, Arthur and Charlemagne), that Frederick with a retinue of knights is not dead but half in slumber in a secluded cavern in the massif and will return again—occasionally dispatching a scout outside to check to see if ravens are still roosting, their absence being a sign that he is needed. 

During DDR times, Communist residents in the area wanted to blow up this bombastic reminder of the country’s past but its destruction was stopped by Soviet authorities, admonishing them it was time for Germans to live with their history and statues.

Friday 7 June 2024

9x9 (11. 613)

brainstorm: an AI researcher creates webpages from search queries—via Web Curios  

resurfacing the past: cataloguing all of the sunken ships of World War II  

like a feather on god’s breath: Hildegard von Bingen continues to fascinate and attract a diverse following—see previously 

leica lux: a new app from the veteran company is a concession that film is dead  

pineapple cheese: a nineteenth century fad in New England—via Strange Company  

unfortunate juxtaposition: an omnibus of headline crash blossoms—see previously  

mycological studies: Ann Wood’s paper mushrooms 

 amperima: deep-sea researchers discovery a hot-pink “Barbie Pig” and a unicumber unknown to science in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone 

ddg: DuckDuckGo offers anonymity for AI chat sessions


one year ago: assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: the Field of the Cloth of Gold (1520) plus the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494)

three years ago: more links to enjoy plus Brazilian phone booths

four years ago: an airport stretch-limousine, factorial pottery, a parting-shot from Cassini, more links to revisit, justice served plus besmirching a swan

five years ago: Iceland does not want your bottled water, even more links plus a Noah’s Ark theme park flooded

Saturday 13 April 2024

burg salzburg (11. 485)

Running some errands in town, we paused to take a stroll around the dry moat and Ringwall of the fortified castle complex Salzburg, with a commanding view of Bad Neustadt an der Saale from a plateau above—the historic city founded by Charlemagne when he created the palatinate of East Francia, legendarily as a token of love for his wife Fastrada of Ingelheim owing to the city walls when looking down are vaguely in the shape of heart, though the modern symbol is pretty anachronistic. Important already since the time of the Carolingians and predating the settlement, it was probably built chiefly by the ordained Henneberg son Bishop Gebhard in the tenth century to, among other strategic matters stop the expansion efforts of his fractious family (the Burgmรคnner—castellan—oppidanus or castrensus, the class of knights obligated to guard the castle recruited from various factions and had to work together), and secure the route between Mellrichstadt and Meiningen and Wรผrzburg. Partially occupied by the descents of the Guttenberg barony that came into ownership in the nineteenth century after the preceding lines died out without heirs and who oversaw its restoration and transformation into a tourist attraction, hoping to lure spa-goers to the nearby thermal baths—see previously—Burg Salzburg was a major bulwark of resistance during the Nazi regime. We’d walked here quite often before and visited the interior keep and ensemble of towers and chapels but realise that we should more fully limn the history of places we had sort taken for granted by dent of familiarity and proximity.

Saturday 17 February 2024

ลผuraw (11. 355)

Via Strange Company, not only do we learn that a medieval token of affection, a tin badge in the shape of a turtledove with the inscription “Amor vincit omnia” was found by the port crane of Gdรกnsk, we also find out that its discovery is owing to an extensive renovation project to preserve the thirteenth century technological and architectural marvel on the Motล‚awa. The crane, human-powered by crew running hamster wheel fashion on treadmills was capable of hoisting cargo and shipbuilding materials weighing several tonnes, has been closed to the public since 2020 but will soon reopen with new exhibits on the city’s mercantile history with holographic docents and period characters to act as guides. More from t he History Blog at the link above.


one year ago: conspiracy theories about walkable cities plus sending a terminator back in time to save the human internet

two years ago: Saint Mesrop Mashtots plus Chess ‘72

three years ago: first and final frames, ten rules of good design plus more bardcore

four years ago: custom facial coverings

five years ago: AI-generated faces plus new names for very large and very small numbers

Friday 2 February 2024

the ลฟecond part, to the ลฟame tune (11. 314)

Having felt a bit cheated by a news article about chart-rankings for seventeenth century English ballads over missing ourselves a link to the project, we appreciated the extra digging from Web Curios and the chance to take a second look and visit the collection of top pop broadsides, complete with sheet-music and actual recordings and historical context as well as insights into the industry and artists. With a wide range of themes ranging from knaves and knights, to kings and kidnapping, vis-a-vis the preceding post, one is sure to find something resonant and engaging. Sorted by popularity, the number one hit from the era is a much covered retelling of The Aeneid, the “Wandring Prince of Troy.” Much more at the links above.


one year ago: Groundhog Day, never a poem as lovely as a tree plus a Nutcracker tradition

two years ago: Candlemas plus problematic portrait artist Charles Frederik Goldie

three years ago: assorted links to revisit, the Great Comet plus free market capitalism

four years ago: the Lake District in Limburg, outsider artist Madge Ethel plus Cynthia the Mannequin

five years ago: suggestion boxesZuckerberg in Congress plus more on Candlemas

Thursday 1 February 2024

heptarchy (11. 313)

Whilst regularly reviewing what was posted three and four years ago, I can’t say that I haven’t given the bardcore trend any thoughts recently, but we were nonetheless pleased to have come across this medieval-style cover of the White Stripe’s anthem. Though as the songwriter Jack White retells, the title comes from a childhood memory of mishearing “Salvation Army,” the lyrics could indeed refer to the seven petty kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon era England, which were eventually subdued, consolidated and united, with some notable resistance, by the ninth century under Alfred the Great.

Monday 22 January 2024

biface (11. 288)

The left panel of the original diptych executed by French court painter Jean Fouquet in the mid-fourteen hundred for the collegiate church of Notre-Dame in Melun on the Parisian outskirts depicts patron of the arts and royal secretary ร‰tienne Chevalier with St Stephen, regarded as the first Christian protomartyr, robed and holding a book and a jagged rock as part of his iconography, having been stoned to death for blasphemy. On closer examination of this feature, however, archeologists believe that the rock might represent a prehistoric artefact—a handaxe (properly the above term) several hundreds of thousands of years in age from the Acheulean industry of manufactured tools used by Homo erectus and Homo heidelbergensis throughout Africa, the Middle East and Western Europe. Abundant finds as a source of mystery and fascination for centuries, and something not unfamiliar to the artist with the tool-making epoch named for a suburb of Amiens in Picardy, their folk-origin before the Enlightenment and acceptance of time-out-of-mind was sourced to “thunderstones” ejected from clouds, believing the well-wrought rocks appeared where lighting had struck and passed down as family heirlooms in the belief that they protected against subsequent strikes.

Friday 19 January 2024

kฤla (11. 280)

Via ibฤซdem, we enjoyed contemplating this display that shows the passage of different units of time side-by-side advancing relative to the observer. Named for the Jain concept of that which brings forth change (also meaning death), the second is the smallest practical measurement, made up of countless and indivisible samaya—like Planck time though the zeptosecond or one sextillionth of a second is the smallest fragment of time that can be reliably calibrated—and itself representing about forty-eight seconds and the kลŸaแน‡a about forty-eight minutes. Aside from the more familiar units and the Hindu-Sanskrit tradition of describing the cosmological cycle, from microseconds to trillions of years, there’s also the milliday, invented by the Swatch company as one-thousandth part of a day or a .beat, the lustrum to mark the five-year interval between Roman censuses, the indiction for the fifteen-year requirement for tax assessments in the Empire, a ghurry, the time it took a water-clock to empty, gauged to divide the day into sixty intervals or rather twenty-four minutes and the chelek (ื—ืœืง) one eighteenth of minute from the Babylonian for one degree of celestial rotation and a momentum, a medieval reckoning of the hours by the sun-dial, about forty moments for each twelve-hour solar day—as well as more informal but countable units.

Friday 12 January 2024

erfundene mittelalter (11. 262)

Via Strange Company, we find ourselves directed to a real rabbit-hole of a conspiracy theory wrapped in the guise—possibly earnest and wholly without cause (like the counterfeit Donation of Constantine)—of scholarship articulated by academician Heribert Illig in 1991 known as the Phantom Time Theory, positing that events occurring in a three-century span from 614 to 911 were fabricated, advancing the Anno Domino dating system ahead in order to place the rule of either Pope Sylvester II, Holy Roman Emperor Otto III (plus legitimising his claim to the throne) or Byzantine emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus in power during the millennial of the death of Christ and ruling at the moment of the return of Jesus. Otto and the Pope made it but not Eastern emperor.  The fact that many manuscripts from the time are acknowledged copies of lost originals and including forgeries (see also), the preponderance of Romanesque architecture present after the influence should have abated and the introduction of the Gregorian calendar, adopted in phases, did not mathematically correct its predecessor (the reform was never intent on correcting and revising the the length of the year back all the way to its inception in 45 BC but rather to its state during the Council of Nicaea—covering this supposed three century discrepancy—when tying the date of Easter to the vernal equinox) and a fact that an alliance between the above three rulers, each preserving his magesteria, was likely, led Illig to conclude that personages and events like Charlemagne and his dynasty (for whom Otto had specious claim as no Caroligian, Frankish heir) led Illig to conclude that this period of history was an elaborate fraud, with retrograde, retroactive chronicles created and a populace willing as well to spring forward in time to be present for the Second Coming, though later the loss of a couple of weeks (or an hour) was seen to draw popular ire.  The alliance amongst these three potentates was strong enough, the theory suggests, to collaborate to create a revised timeline, though the idea is refuted as pseudoscience by medievalists, archaeological evidence, dendrochronology and of course recorded histories outside of western Europe.

Saturday 23 December 2023

11x11 (11. 208)

mmxxiii: the year in anniversaries, including the debuts of Question Hound, Casablanca, the World Wide Web, The Exorcist and the Yom Kippur War 

seasons greetings: decades of off-kilter Christmas cards from John Waters 

explainer: five video essays worth your holiday downtime 

tl;dr: public nominates longreads worth revisiting  

enigmatic chemical reactions: runaway chaotic catalysts are heating up two massive landfills near Los Angeles  

cash-on-deposit: leaving money in your bank-account also contributes to one’s carbon-footprint  

lithub: the biggest literary stories of the year 

a year in illustration: the collages accompanying Pluralistic posts  

re:view: Dezeen’s annual top tens 

et exaltavit humiles: a medieval token likely dispensed by a Boy Bishop, who held authority from the feast of Saint Nicholas through the Day of Holy Innocents, was discovered in Norfolk  

2023: the year in review from the Financial Times

Tuesday 14 November 2023

9x9 (11. 120)

temporal excursions: advice for the modern time-travellers thinking about visiting medieval Europe  

once and future: ex-PM David Cameron returns as Sunak’s foreign minister after a cabinet shake-up following the Home Secretary’s incendiary remarks  

ototw: there are over six-thousand ‘on top of the world’ mountains—a peak so high no others in the range can be seen from its summit—we’ve only been to Brocken, I think out of them all  

an aaron spelling production: an appreciation of Arthur Hailey’s Hotel (1983 - 1988) and its parade of guest stars  

the house of tomorrow: Tex Avery’s vision of the smart home seems more user-friendly  

return-to-office: automatic responses from those on a hybrid work-schedule  

carbon-casting: a LEGO-like approach to CO₂ offset and removal at target costs  

brideshead revisited: a new film on the eccentricities of the landed gentry—via Messy Nessy Chic

florantine codex: a sixteenth century ethnography on Mesoamerica and the Aztec culture has been digitalised and made accessible to the public


one year ago: The New Musical Express (1952), more Scopitone fun, more on English adjectival order plus assorted links to enjoy

two years ago: the Oort cloud, the Landshut Wedding (1475), more McMansion Hell plus a tale of guided chess

three years ago: the centenary of the BBC, the 2008 G20, paleomixology plus another MST3K classic

four years ago: assorted links to revisit

five years ago: Yale admits women (1968), Nellie Bly’s trip around the world, more on land-use plus social media platforms reimagined on outdated technology

Monday 13 November 2023

monad-gpt (11. 116)

Via Clive Thompson’s latest Linkfest, we are directed towards a narrowly trained language model from Hugging Face contributor Pierre-Carl Langlais versed in texts from the Early to Late Medieval Period, which is essentially akin to having a scholarly monk as one’s interlocutor, delightfully limited to the corpora of scientific, historical and cultural of the tenth through seventeenth centuries. Not to contribute to the misconception that the Dark Ages were backwards and lacking in introspection, the conversations elicited (see also) seem pretty fun and harmless vis-ร -vis the rather worrisome tendency of of generalised chatbots to confidently lead one astray and is suitable for staying in character at the Renaissance Fair and for continuing to tease out facts from a specific manuscript. Questions and answers can also be generated in French and Latin.


one year ago: assorted links to revisit,  remembering the 13. November Terrorist Attacks in France plus more bad paperback covers

two years ago: more links to enjoy plus Hollywood Horror House (1970)

three years ago: your daily demon: Vual, venues entrusted with medical information, animal magnetism, composer Johann Zach plus the vice-president elect

four years ago: the Feast of St Brice, a customisable racing bar chart plus conditioning feline instincts

five years ago: linear settlements, customisable emoji plus AI’s tendency to cheat and cut-corners

Sunday 1 October 2023

hre (11. 034)

Having committed quite some thoughts on the subject and even echoed the quip from Voltaire myself without realising the provenance or shallowness of the observation—that it was “neither Holy nor Roman nor an Empire”—we appreciated coming across this encapsulation of an introduction by Eleanor Janega on the anniversary of the beginning of the Congress of Vienna in 1814 when representatives and stakeholders of the former political union met to reconstitute European order and long-term peace after the downfall of Napoleon Bonaparte, whose campaigns spelled its dissolution after eight centuries of existence. There is vast a amount of history to cover, from Charlemagne and Henry Fowler to extension under the Hohenstaufen and the Hapsburgs but Dr Janega does a yeoman’s job in summarising the polity, which like under the Roman Empire enjoyed a good share of autonomy and retained local customs and culture.

Thursday 7 September 2023

tyromancers (10. 989)

Via Nag on the Lake and Weird Universe, we discover a divination practise perfectly suited to our gang of turophiles in the form of telling one’s fortune by watching cheese congeal and coalesce and noting its characteristics—dating back to the Middle Ages, a time when people frequently consulted objects at hand for guidance. One technique described was for eligible individuals to inscribe the names of potential partners on a cheese and the first to moulder would indicate the best match. More at the links above.

Friday 4 August 2023

10x10 (10. 924)

manufactured crises: distractions and moral panics fabricated by the US GOP and associates  

sachal jazz: Pakistani musicians perform a rendition of David Brubeck’s “Take Five” on tabla and sitar with orchestral accompaniment 

illuminated text: an unfinished medieval manuscript reveals a step-by-step manual for its making  

finishing the hat: Stephen Sondheim’s (previously) Turtle Bay townhouse is on the market 

smiley head: custom screws requiring a special driver—via Pasa Bon!  

f-91w: fully-function ring watches from Casio  

blogoversary: JWZ turns twenty-five 

the partridge family 2200 a.d.: a round up of animated spin-offs  

super fun pak: the novelty cards of Pee-wee’s Playhouse  

now you’re cooking with gas: the culture wars come to the stove 


one year ago: the invention of champagne (1693), the Zone of Galactic Obscuration plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: an infamous bugging device discovered (1945), the Lady of Elx, pipe architecture, working against one’s own self-interest plus assorted links worth revisiting

three years ago: more miniatures from Tatsuya Tanaka, St Sithney, the patron saint of dogs plus the birthday of Helen Thomas, Barack Obama

four years ago: sounds lost to lossy compression plus bouba or kiki

five years ago: interviews with author Philip K Dick

Monday 26 June 2023

der rattenfรคnger von hameln (10. 837)

On this day, the Feast of SS John and Paul, in 1284—according to the Lรผneberg manuscript, the Pied Piper paid a visit to the town of Hamlet, commission to rid the place of rats, which he manages tidily luring them with his magic pipe to the shores of the river Weser where they all drowned. The mayor however reneged on his promised bounty of a thousand guilders, offering only a fraction of the princely sum, and returning avenged his slight attracting the town’s children whilst the parents were in church—into the hills and never to be seen again. According to the legend, three children remained as witness and pieced together what happened to their inconsolable parents, one lame, one blind and one deaf that couldn’t join the procession. Various theories and allegorical readings exist ranging from a deliverance from the Plague, a clash between Christianity and paganism still practised in parts of Lower Saxony at the time to an interesting conjecture regarding emigration and over-population that saw mass-resettlement out of the area to Moravia, Prussia and a de-populated Transylvania (Siebenbรผrgen). The street in the Altstadt where reportedly the children were last seen is called BungelosenstraรŸe (drum-less) and to this day, singing and dancing are prohibited there.

Tuesday 13 June 2023

a gift to those who contemplate the wonders of cities and the marvels of travelling (10. 804)

Departing his native Tangiers and embarking on a twenty-four year journey that would ultimately take him from Timbuktu to Beijing, exploring Africa and Eurasia, on this day in 1325 (725 Anno Hegira), scholar and adventurer Ibn Battลซta, a Berber from the Maghreb whose travels far surpassed those more famous members of his pre-modern cadre of explorers like Marco Polo (twenty-four thousand kilometres) and Zheng He (with about fifty thousand) with a total of one hundred seventeen thousand kilometres travelled over the course of three decades, embarked on an extended hajj to see the Muslim world. Returning home in 1354, the ruler of Morocco to write down his travelogue for posterity, with the short title of the Rihla (ุงู„ุฑุญู„ุฉ, The Travels).

Saturday 27 May 2023

irreconcilable differences (10. 770)

Having previously encountered this guide on the protocols of duelling in medieval times, we appreciated this deeper study of Hans Talhoffer’s rules of engagement—via Strange Company—pertaining to divorce—via Strange Company—with bouts highly refereed and handicapped to give the woman (usually) plaintiff a fighting-chance to see out the dissolution of her marriage-bonds. In the ring, typically, the husband was placed in a waist-deep hole with one hand tied behind his back and outfitted with clubs and pugilistic garb, as was the wife with an equal number of stones to sling. Though ultimate verdicts were unclear and combat to the death seemed unlikely with proxies and champions accorded to those couples of standing, such settlements were not unheard of.

Sunday 21 May 2023

dux croatorum & dux sclavorum (10. 757)

Granted recognition as an independent state by the Holy See when Duke Branimir (see previously) received blessings from Pope John VIII on this day in 879 (letter postmarked 7 June), overseeing reform and reorganisation of the former Roman province of Dalmatia and in return for this legitimising gesture, swore obedience to the ecclesiastical authority of the bishop of Rome rather than Patriach Methodus I and Constantinople, and maintaining its sovereignty whilst sandwiched between the expansive aspirations of the Carolingian Empire to the west and Byzantium to the east. The day is observed as Croatian Diplomacy Day with 30 May, from 1991 to 2001 and since 2020, being Independence Day, formerly the Day of the National Parliament.