Sunday 23 February 2020


ร  la russe: a guide to Russian Paris

turntabling: musical pairings of diverse songs that sound the same

grow apple trees and honey bees and snow white turtle doves: soft drink giant ravages communities already water-insecure to produce more of its product and raise the next generation of loyal customers—see also

#beardedbuttigieg: many people are advocating for US presidential candidate Mayor Pete to grow facial hair and helpfully previewing his new look

two-up two-down: a home in Osaka with sixteen levels  the beauty of real food is that it gets ugly: to promote its cutting of artificial preservative, one fast food giant features a mouldy hamburger, as compared to this exhibit

shortlisted: a gallery of some of the images to advance to the next round of judging in the Sony World Photography Awards

Saturday 15 February 2020


Researchers from the City University of Hong Kong are developing a new technique to harness the power of falling rainwater and convert it into electricity for passive applications and battery recharging.
One water drop alone under this novel way of converting and redistributing its kinetic energy can generate enough of a spark to light up a matrix of one LED bulbs. While the rain may not be appropriate for energy-intensive scenarios, the project leader believes that the field effect transistor method could be overlaid with other energy harvesters to multiply their efficacy—on rooftop solar panels, for instance, to ensure a steadier power-supply even when the conditions aren’t so sunny, or even one’s own umbrella whose cane would become a power-wand. Learn more at the link above.

Friday 14 February 2020

rayleigh scattering

Thirty years ago on this day, having achieved its primary mission of rendezvous with the outer planet, Voyager I—before going into partial hibernation to preserve power and memory for the long, long journey ahead turned its aperture back towards the Sun to take a family portrait of the inner, rocky worlds, with the Earth, recipient of this love letter—some six billion kilometres distant appeared as only a tiny fleck, a tenth of a pixel, “a pale blue dot,” as programme architect Carl Sagan described it. Our home, and where everyone and everything that we’ve ever known, is that bluish-white speck in the centre of the rightmost brown band.

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.

Wednesday 15 January 2020


scorched earth: ornithologists in Australia have observed opportunistic birds that use the bush fires to flush out prey—via Kottke

midden mound: one beachcomber is sharing her found treasures

robertson head driver: an interesting look at the history of screws and other tools

the rich get richer and the poor get children: proletaneous defines one aspect of economic disparity

bucket-brigade: Sydney Opera House thanks the firefighters

Tuesday 14 January 2020


The Unword of the Year (Unwort des Jahres, see previously)—selected by a jury independent since 2011 Gesellschaft fรผr deutsche Sprache—is the above term for climate-hysteria, a rhetorical ploy invoked by some businesses, news outlets and politicians to discredit and defame those who forward the discussion and urgency of the environmental emergency of our own making as having some sort of collective psychosis. The runner-up was “Umvolkung,” a Nazi-era term used to describe assimilation as a way for the Volk to shed their national identities and join the Reich, which is sadly being reinserted into common-parlance.

Sunday 12 January 2020

el bosque

We are presented with the verdant, vertical urban forest concept of the architectural firm of Stefano Boeri to be built in the near future on a tract of land just outside of Cancรบn that was formerly zoned for development as a sprawling shopping centre.
Happily the area will instead be home to new model city (see previously), one hundred and thirty thousand human residents cohabitating with some seven million carbon-sequestering plants. Project leaders plan for the settlement, campus to become a showcase hub of research and education with facilities focused on redressing coral reef degradation, lessening the impact of agriculture as well as demonstrating the integration of mobility, robotics and renewables into civil engineering and urban planning, backwards planning to bring these reforms and innovations to communities and infrastructure already extant. Much more to explore at the link up top.

Saturday 11 January 2020


From the Hopi term for world out of balance, Koyaanisquatsi (part of a trilogy of experimental documentaries) scored by Philip Glass with cinemato-graphy by Ron Frick has a striking trailer, which as Nag on the Lake reminds (previously—I thought this seemed vaguely familiar but certainly worth revisiting plus we think there’s been an improvement on the filter since) remarkably pliable and the right tonal framework for any number of random GIFs. Run it through a few iterations to convince yourself of the true ridiculously random nature of it and for comparison, check out the original theatrical preview at the link above.

Thursday 9 January 2020

warp and weave

Tantalisingly, Kottke gives us a tour of the prototype settlement, Woven City, that Toyota will be building at the base of Mount Fuji beginning in early 2021—which is interlaced with a network of three types of lanes, one for faster vehicles, a mixed-used land and meandering garden paths for pedestrians to enjoy. The fabric of this zero-impact, sustainable experiment includes hydroponic agricultural as well as photo-voltaic cells integrated throughout, with machine and anticipatory-intelligences a fully developed and articulate infrastructure to enhance the lives of residents and their relationship with their broader home. More to explore and brainstorm at the links above.

Wednesday 8 January 2020


franking privileges: Royal Mail (see previously) will issue postage stamp sets based on classic arcade games—via Boing Boing

cajun court: a resplendent Louis XV tower sequestered in the heart of Louisiana—via Messy Nessy Chic

cosmodrome: the busiest space ports in the world charted out—via Maps Mania

conurbation: the world’s largest megalopoli tracked on a bar-chart race

yugo.logo: a growing visual archive of brand enblems from Yugoslavia

team rodent: an intricate link diagram illustrating the connections between Disney properties and merchandising from 1967

tomorrow’s on fire: Australia needs our help and needs us to heed this stark warning—via Waxy

the ballad of rocket robin hood: a Canadian animated children’s show that aired from 1966 to 1969 featuring a team of Merry Men living in the “astonishing year 3000” and committed to protecting the poor and innocent from exploitation by Prince John and the Sheriff of NOTT (National Outer-Space Terrestrial Territories)

Saturday 4 January 2020

nach uns die sintflut

Taking a cue from ancient living coastal-hugging stalamites, colonial creatures called stromatolites (formerly wide-spread but now only found in Australia and Bermuda) that consist of layer-upon-layer of stratified microbial systems that play differing, symbiotic functions depending on where the high mater-mark has settled, researcher Jonathon Keats with Stuttgart’s Frauenhofer Institute for Building Physics suggests that we don’t try to address rising sea-levels by retreating further inland, a near impossibility since most of our conurbations—home to billions and our economic anchors are settled near the oceans, but rather by staying put.
Not only would the flood plain help mitigate extreme temperatures and the prospect that large cities may become unlivable heat-traps and avoid exacerbating the problem by making more land unavailable to uninterrupted forests in the process, levels of hi-rises being subsumed by the encroaching harbours adapting their function and growing upwards (timber buildings growing material for their next storey on the roof). It’s not a perfect nor an ideal form of redress but a realistic contingency and a more just one that may help us cope with the coming deluge without leaving vast swaths of humanity behind.


Via Kottke, we are acquainted with the entomological handiwork of Bernat Cuni of CuniCode whose used an 1890 volume of illustrated beetle exemplars from South America to train a neural network to general (see previously) swarms of convincing though wholly synthetic bugs, possibly a vexing development for the field of coleopterology in the future as habitat loss is fast out-pacing our ability to study and classify much less appreciate the diversity of Nature. I wonder if this algorithm can dream up yet undiscovered species as well and what that would mean in terms of predictive powers, what constitutes beetliness, at least superficially, and convergent evolution. Be sure to visit the links up top for more on the coding and methodology and to see s video presentation on the experiment.

Monday 30 December 2019


We completely understand and empathise with the fact it’s hard to settle on a favourite—especially when one is spoilt for choice, so we are enjoying pouring over this list of notable neologisms that Sweden’s top linguists at the Institutet fรถr sprรฅk och folkminnen have identified that helped define the past year.  The gretaeffekten of course looms large having rightly been recognised for their overwhelming importance to the age by no less than two august language authorities and with the derivative title word—flying on the sly, not disclosing one’s travel itinerary because one failed to plan ahead so one could train-brag so as to avoid flight-shaming—plus other well-deserved honours besides, shared amongst all allies. We further enjoyed how the registry included internet terms like deplatformering and ASMR, clarified to readers as a hjรคrnorgasm and not some further Marvel Cinematic Universe appropriation of Norse mythology.

Friday 27 December 2019


As this calendar draws to a close and we look forward to 2020, we again take time to reflect on a selection of some of the things and events that took place in 2019. Thanks as always for visiting. We've made it through another wild year together.

january: China lands a probe on the far side of the Moon.  In the US, works from 1923 enter into public domain, the first tranche to do so since 1998. After a contested election, the incumbent government of Venezuela is declared illegitimate.  We had to say a sad goodbye to Zuzu, a long time companion for my mother and a devilish dog.

february: The Trump administration announces its decision to withdrawal from the 1987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, prompting Russia to follow suit.  Pope Francis becomes the first pontiff to visit the Arab peninsula.  A second summit between the US and North Korea collapses in failure.  We bid farewell to fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld, musician Peter Tork, and actor Bruno Ganz.

march: A terrorist’s rampage kills fifty people during services in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, prompting the government to immediately ban the sales and ownership of assault weapons.  Special Counsel Robert Mueller concludes his report on Russian interference in the US 2016 presidential election and summits it to the Attorney General.  Copyright reforms pass in the EU Parliament.  After successive failures to pass a divorce deal, Brexit is delayed.    We had to say goodbye to musicians Dick Dale and Keith Flint, actor Luke Perry, as well as filmmaker Agnรจs Varda.

april: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange loses his political sanctuary after seven years residing in the Colombian mission to the UK and is apprehended at the behest of the US, to be extradited to stand trial for releasing classified materials.  We sadly had to say goodbye to another canine companion, Chauncy. Astronomers capture the image of a black hole.  Brexit is postponed again. During Holy Week, a conflagration engulfed Notre-Dame de Paris.  Over three hundred individuals in Sri Lanka were massacred on Easter Sunday.

may:  Austria’s far-right coalition government collapses after an incriminating video surfaces of a senior official emerges of him promising infrastructure contracts in exchange for campaign support to the posturing relative of a Russian oligarch during a meeting in Ibiza.  Sebastian Kurz resigns as Austrian chancellor and Brigette Bierlein leads a caretaker government until new elections can be held.  We bid farewell to master architect I.M. Pei, Tim Conway, Peter Mayhew, Leon Redbone and Doris DayGrumpy Cat also passed away too soon.

june: The Trump family take a summer vacation, going off to London to see the Queen, fรชted by outgoing Prime Minister, Theresa May, discharging one of her last, onerous official duties before stepping down. The US administration reinstates most sanctions and travel restrictions against Cuba.  Trump ordered strikes against Iran for the destruction of a US spy drone, belaying the order once jets were already in the air and instead authorised a cyber-attack against the government.  Over the course of two evenings, the large pool of Democratic nominee hopefuls held debates.  We had to say farewell to iconic New Orleans singer, song-writer and producer Mac Rebennack, otherwise known as Dr John, as well as epic, old Hollywood filmmaker Franco Zeffirelli and Gloria Vanderbilt.

july: Violent protests continue in Hong Kong.
An arsonist attacked an animation studio in Kyoto, killing dozens.  Donald Trump channels his racism to strengthen his bid for re-election, having never stopped campaign, blowing a dog whistle that is clearly audible to all.  Boris Johnston succeeds Teresa May as prime minister and head of the UK Tory party.  We had to say goodbye to Brazilian musician Joรฃo Gilberto who introduced the world to bossa nova as well as business magnate and philanthropist turned independent politician Ross Perot (*1930), US Supreme Court associate justice John Paul Stevens, Argentine architect Cรฉsar Pelli and actors Rutger Hauer and Russi Taylor.

august: Protests continue in Hong Kong.  India revokes the special status accorded to the disputed territory of Kashmir, escalating tensions with neighbouring Pakistan and China.  More gun violence visits the US.  Puerto Rico goes through three governors in five days.  Sex-trafficker and socialite Jeffrey Epstein was found dead of apparent suicide in his jail cell awaiting trial.  In the midst of a mass-extinction event, Trump repeals the Endangered Species Act and the Amazon burns.  Poet and author Toni Morrison (*1931), Irish singer Danny Doyle and lyricist David Berman died as did actor Peter Fonda and animator Richard Williams.

september: Setting a dangerous precedent, the US national weather agency revises its hurricane forecast to match the antics and bullheadedness of Donald Trump in the wake of the death and destruction brought on the Bahamas.
Prime minister Boris Johnson prorogues Parliament until only two weeks ahead of Brexit departure day.  Trump also announces the cancellation of secret talks he was to hold with a delegation of the Taliban that probably otherwise would have been a 9/11 anniversary photo-op.  Greta Thunberg leads a Fridays for the Future climate walkout in Washington, DC and addresses Congress and global strikes follow.  After thirty years as presenter for BBC Radio 4 flagship Today programme, John Humphrys retires.  House Democrats launch impeachment proceedings against Trump after it was revealed he sought to impugn his political opponents with the help of a foreign power, this time Ukraine.  Photojournalist Charlie Cole (*1955) who captured the iconic image of Tank Man and artists Eddie Money (*1949) and Cars headman Ric Osasek (*1944) and pioneering journalist Cokie Roberts (*1943) passed away.

october: Trump withdraws US troops from the Kurdish controlled border region of Syrian and Turkey promptly invades.

Protests continue in Hong Kong, marring China’s seventieth anniversary celebrations.  There is a terrorist attack on a synagogue in Halle.  Trump refuses to cooperate with House impeachment proceedings.  John Bannister Goodenough (previously) is recognised with a shared Nobel in Chemistry for his pioneering work with lithium batteries. An all-women team of astronauts successfully complete a space-walk.  Brexit is delayed again with the extension pushed back to 31 January 2020.  ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is killed in a raid by US military forces.  The Trump administration is highly recalcitrant and uncooperative during impeachment proceedings.  Long-time congress member representing Baltimore, Elijah Cummings (*1951), passed away.

november:  The Trump impeachment hearings go public.
Aide and political consultant Roger Stone found guilty on all counts for obstruction of justice, witness tampering and lying to Congress just as Trump intimidates former Ukrainian ambassador live during her testimony and career diplomat Marie Yovanovitch is afforded the chance to reply in real time.  A deadly knife-attack on London Bridge is halted by three by-standers, one with his bare hands and the others armed with a fire-extinguisher and a narwal tusk.  The historic Austrian village of Hallstadt is partially burned down.   Frank Avruch (also known as Bozo the Clown, *1930) passed away. We also said farewell to William Ruckelshaus (*1932), America’s first Environmental Protection Agency administrator and government official who defied Richard Nixon during the Saturday Night Massacre.

december:  The venue moved from Chile due to ongoing unrest, the environmental summit COP25 commences in Madrid.
Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin step down.   Greta Thunberg is named TIME’s Person of the Year.  In the UK General Election, a sizable Tory upset gives Boris Johnson a mandate for the UK quitting the EU.  Global trade wars with the US and the rest of the world as belligerents re-surges, this time over Nord Stream 2 (previously) and opting for an energy source at least marginally cleaner than American oil and natural gas obtained by fracking.  Wildfires continue to devastate Australia.  We had to bid farewell to pioneering Star Trek screenwriter DC Fontana (*1939), veteran stage and screen actor appearing in M*A*S*H*, Benson and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Renรฉ Murat Auberjonois (*1940), spiritual guru Ram Dass (*1931), accomplished actress Anna Karina (*1940) and Carroll Spinney (*1933), the puppeteer behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch (previously) for nearly fifty years.

Tuesday 17 December 2019

palm house and parterre or bulletin of miscellaneous information

Underpinning nearly all life on Earth and comprising a majority of the planet’s biomass, the kingdoms of plants and fungi are constantly yielding up new discoveries that we must cherish and preserve as best we can, for their own sake and to mediate on the strange and novel adaptations and chemical magic that Nature has developed, some habitats lost before we could fully appreciate or even identify what sorts of treasures we’ve destroyed. Curators at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew have selected ten superlative finds out of the some one hundred and nine newly, officially recognised species all across the globe to highlight this wonderful and surprising realm, including a berry that has the effect on the human palette of turning sour tastes to sweet (Synsepalum Chimanimani) and a tenacious shrub confined to a single waterfall that produces its own adhesive to stick to rocks and prevent it from being swept away.

Sunday 15 December 2019


it putteth away dumpishness & sadness, and bringeth mirth: a 1559 recipe for mulled wine

fox and liberty forever: the chaotic General Election of 1790, the polling and purdah lasting from 16 June to 28 July, via Strange Company

the power of youth: the photographer Evgenia Arbugaeva behind the iconic image of Greta Thunberg’s TIME cover—we personally found this honour to be pretty moving as well

link in bio: the insidious nature of Walled Gardens (see previously) and social media’s attempts to corral the free Internet

the land of the asuras: a Buddhist monk leads a solemn ceremony to eulogise untaken time off from work in Japan—hardly done despite legislation that all workers take a minimum of five paid vacation days per year

๐Ÿ™€: this feline face filter underscores how poorly we understand our cats’ cognition

flight and blight: a survey of some of the historic character lost in New York City over the past decade

your branches green delight us: a tour of London’s Christmas trees 

Sunday 8 December 2019


ideograrch: the iconic works of architecture abstracted in Kanji-like calligraphy by Federico Babina

quasi-modo: a Russian DJ that combines his skill with bell-ringing with techno music

head in the clouds: a look at cities in the sky

dreigroschenoper: a gallery of playbills and references that cover the works of Bertolt Brecht—via Strange Company

pelagic zone: a deep sea explorer from (previously), via Kottke

fine html products: a survey of superlative links of the 2010s

apotropaic charms: stunning enamel pins from Lydia Daum, via Swiss Miss

you have the right to hush-up: Slaw & Order, courtesy the Art of Darkness

ๅ†ฌ: Aoi Huber Kono’s 1972 picture haiku book Winter

Sunday 24 November 2019

low poly

In addition to the all-terrain mobile unit as an accessory to Elon Musk’s newly released prototype Cybertruck—which people joke looks like a computer rendering from a time when graphics processing with polygon mesh (see also) wasn’t nearly so advanced as it is presently—will have the optional package outfitting the cargo bed as a pop-up camper for exploring the actual outdoors and not CGI side-scrolling.
What do you think? Critics are bashing the design, forgetting about the experimental wedged wonders of the Italian automotive tradition that were all the rage not so long ago, but we’d seriously support getting such a car for our next vehicle—especially considering a range of nearly eight hundred kilometres to a charge and over-engineered performance that allows the truck to zip about faster than finest luxury cars, not to mention the target price that’s half of the suggested manufacturer’s asking-price.

Saturday 16 November 2019


Though we can know one event to happen ten years from now with some certainty, A Message from Earth was beamed by a high-powered radio signal towards exoplanet Gliese 581c in 2008 will be in reception range, it bears recalling the adage, via the always engaging Things Magazine, by scifi author William Ford Gibson that “The future is already here—it’s just not evenly distributed”—with nearly a year’s worth of 2019 headlines focusing and informing how 2029’s reporting might look if we continue on this same trajectory.  While perhaps not in the expected milieu and sacred settings of blockbuster movies no epic flooding yet of New York City or London but we are on the cusps of experiencing such cinematic disasters Delhi or Jakarta and instead of delivering us to a life of leisure and a forty-minute workweek, we are instead fretting over mass robotic-redundancy and unemployment, so Gibson’s quote resounds with perspective. What do you think about these predictions? The past is good council but the present may make us all come up short.

Saturday 26 October 2019


best in breed: national banks in Turkmenistan under presidential decree to fund efforts to enhance the pedigree of the country’s Alabay dog

call of the wild: scientist record the mating sounds of the Amazonian bellbird, which can exceed the noise-level of a chainsaw at very close-range

zodiac killer: a treasury of Persian demons

not the doral: Number One Daughter celebrates her tenth wedding anniversary at Camp David

yip yip: a couple’s admirably coordinated costumes

major arcana: Salvador Dalรญ’s tarot deck re-issued

augmented roman: a truly phonetic-spelling reform measure for the English language, bringing the alphabet up to forty-three distinct letters

roaming costs: researchers tracking migrating Russian eagles are hit with hefty data tariffs once the birds cross borders, via Slashdot