Thursday 29 April 2021


Via Things Magazine, we learn that phantom islands and trap streets may be making a resurgence in an awful and insurmountable way with deepfake satellite imagery, with making a Potemkin neighbourhood be it for misrouting traffic, boosting property value, lowering tax liability or for disguising a nuclear refinement plant or concentration camp an easier task that creating a passably convincing human—not to mention undermining useful demographics and economic trends that can be gleaned by such monitoring as well as engendering distrust in what previously was accepted as irrefutable evidence. Artificial intelligence and generative adversarial networks are able to create virtual empires and dystopias to dupe us all.

Tuesday 16 March 2021

typhoon class

Though the working-outcome of the navy going into receivership with Pepsi was more improbable than the suggestion to retrofit a fleet of Soviet nuclear submarines as tanker ships to transport oil and natural gas was probably the less technical tenable, advisable alternative to generate capital after the nation’s dissolution. Back in 1995, at the suggestion of the governor of Arkhangelsk oblast, the location of the Russian submarine yards, one experiment was with underwater cargo shipping was undertaken—albeit with a non-strategic vessel and a manifest of foodstuffs—but not explored further due to cost-overruns and lack of funding. The logistics pitch, however, to fill-up directly from off-shore rigs and to travel the globe swiftly and virtually unimpeded (also without burning said fuel) was worth considering. Learn more at Weird Universe at the link above.

Friday 11 December 2020


repetition: an exploration of built-environments as an audio-visual landscape of infinite regression  

a pigment of our imagination: the illusory nature of colour  

nationally determined contributions: European Union agrees to more than halve its carbon emissions by 2030—via Slashdot 

awesome sauce: a safari-pak of canned-meats from 1967 

road gritters: track Scotland’s fleet of snow-plows in real time by name  

training a generation of future karens: this scholastic kids books series are clearly coding adults as happy and confident with their life choices as monsters and misfits—via Super Punch 

a universe of imagination: revisiting a classic and inspiring documentary (previously) on cosmology on its sixtieth anniversary

Friday 25 September 2020


Prolific inventor and Esperanto advocate Leonardo Torres y Quevedo (*1852 – †1936), probably best remembered for his Aerocar that is still in use for ferrying passengers above Niagara Falls, was responsible for a whole string of innovations across several disciplines including an analytic machine in the style of Babbage’s difference engine though utilising electromagnetic components rather than mechanical ones, improved designed for dirigibles, a chess-playing automaton (El Ajedrecista) and perhaps most significantly was a pioneer in the field of remote control. On this day in 1906 in the port of Bilbao in front of a royal audience and many other spectators, Torres-Quevedo made a public demonstration of his experimental radio-controlled robot—called Telekino—in the form of a boat that he guided from shore. King Alphonso XIII also was given a turn guiding the boat with passengers at distance.

Monday 14 September 2020

leave the driving to us

While not exactly pleased with the idea of after having finished the fraught task of packing house and home to be presented with a record album to bear away and figure out how to transport, we do rather like this novelty arrangement presented to families in the 1960s whom chose Allied Van lines to handle the logistics of their change of address. These orchestral variations on the company’s jingle, a network of independent contractors formed in the 1930s to reduce dead-heading—that is, the movement of empty trucks—in the shipping business, embraces the range of genres popular at the time.

Monday 31 August 2020


the trouble shooter: a truly bizarre and blessed vintage cartoon

single-camera setup: more lockdown sitcom episodes from Poseidon’s Underworld

far from the madding crowd: a backyard shed that’s the ultimate weekend, quarantine project—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links

sidebar: the hobby and craft chain Michael’s has a community chatroom that’s become an affirming if not wild forum—via Waxy

kingston’s good ghosts: an Art Deco inspired (see also) custom roadster

rave cave: party-goers in an Olso bunker hospitalised for carbon monoxide poisoning

obscure media: Miss Cellania’s Video of the Day “Robot Love” from a decade ago

Sunday 7 June 2020


hello, little friends: Ryoji Akiyama transversed China in 1981 and 1982 capturing images of young people in a rapidly changing country

a class divided: a powerful, pivotal lesson in discrimination revisited

the plot to overthrow america: a round-up of fear-mongering ploys baited by Trump’s declaring an acronym a terrorist group, plus a case of deicide

simrefinery: Chevron commissioned the makers of SimCity to make a training programme for workers at their petroleum plants back in 1992

little green men: investigating the anonymous, unaccountable army policing Washington, DC—via Pluralistic

subjective cityscapes: Natalie Christensen focuses her lens on the intersection of architecture and automobiles in the US Southwest—via Plain Magazine

heavenly palace: more details surface regarding China’s space station, with construction beginning next year

Monday 11 May 2020


great railway journeys: POV footage of Swiss trains racing through the countryside accompanied by techno music

day-o: a family in lockdown recreates dinner party scene from Beetlejuice

starfish and coffee: Prince is the opening act for the latest Link Pack from Swiss Miss

down to gorky park: an in depth investigation into whether the 1990 Scorpions’ power ballad was a US was soft power ploy by the intelligence services

oslo maps the world: visit dozens of global festival venues virtually, via Maps Mania

novas: a mirror universe mixtape of 1982—one of the 1982s, via Kicks Condor

sun dance: a mesmerising percussion set paired with high resolution footage from the Solar Dynamics Observatory

Monday 23 March 2020

organisation commune africane et malgache

Founded in 1961 to promote economic and political cooperation among the decolonised and newly independent francophone nations of the continent and its largest island, the African and Malagasy Union was formaly dissolved on this day in 1985 by mutual consent of its member states.
Once former Belgian-controlled territories were allowed in the group, the governing body gradually realised it was at cross-purposes to more inclusive, pan-continental institutions that were developing in parallel. One lasting legacy of the former organisation’s work, after abandoning defence pacts and a common army that caused the most strife throughout the decades, was the multinational civilian airline Air Afrique and its spinoffs.

Saturday 14 March 2020

el tratado herrรกn-hay

Negotiated earlier in January of the same year between US Secretary of State John M Hay and Colombian chargรฉ d’affaires Tomรกs Herrรกn y Mosquera, the eponymous treaty was ratified by the US Senate on this day in 1903.
Had the terms also been acceptable to the Colombian government—historians felt that Herrรกn’s deal undervalued the potential economic boon for the country and that they had a commanding bargaining position since he had acted without legislative or business oversight, the US would have been allotted a hundred-year renewable lease of a strip of land crossing the isthmus of Panama with permission to excavate a canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The Colombians rejected the ten million dollar down payment plus a quarter million in annual rents, payable in gold bullion, especially considering that the US had already intimated their willingness to invest quadruple that amount in the project, which had been started back in 1881 by the French engineers that had built the Suez Canal to the Red Sea but later abandoned as unworkable. The US refused to renegotiate the treaty and instead provoked civil unrest in the region and lent military support for eventual Panamanian independence, acquiring the rights to proceed with construction under similar terms what was originally agreed upon. The American crews experienced the same hardships and toil as the French had encountered and the canal’s building—finished more than a decade later—was the origin of the phrase “another day, another dollar” for the low wage that workers were paid for this gruelling labour.

Friday 21 February 2020

boฤŸaziรงi kรถprรผsรผ

Construction finished some three and a half years later and coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the modern Republic of Turkey, work began on spanning the strait separating Europe from Asia, Anatolia from Thrace on this day in 1970. The suspension bridge was the first to cross the Bosporus in some twenty-five hundred years when Persian emperor Darius and later his son Xerxes separately commissioned pontoon bridges to connect the continents.

Saturday 18 January 2020

railbanked or atchison, topeka and santa fe

At its height, the rail network of the United States was somewhere approaching half a million kilometres, with now over half that infrastructure abandoned, superannuated. Maps Mania takes us on a whistle-stop tour on the extensive out-of-service (that is—railbanked, see also) routes. There are a lot of resources to explore here in addition to the interactive maps that give the history of the lines, accompanying blog with lots of images and other depots for departing on virtual journeys.

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.

Thursday 2 January 2020


Via Pasa Bon’s inaugural curated links of the decade, we enjoyed this visual registry of airport codes assigned by the International Air Transport Association, with an explanation of the three letter geo-locater especially helpful for when the decoding the directory designation isn’t always so straightforward.
The –X appended at the end of many aerodromes and a few feeder train stations is a marker for older stations that retained their original US National Weather Service name for consistency with the new naming conventions and many cities have retained their historic call-signs as a flag-of-convenience: SGN for Ho Chi Mihn City (formerly Saigon), TSE for Astana (formerly Tselinograd now named Nur-Sultan) or LED for Saint Petersburg (formerly Leningrad) for example. The Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg airport serves three Switzerland, France and Germany and has the codes BSL, MLH and EAP.

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.

Wednesday 25 December 2019

unwort des jahres

Whilst the jury is still out on the national Unwort of the Year for 2019 (previously), the Landeshauptstadt of Hesse, Wiesbaden the arbiter of the actual Word of the Year—has made a few selections of its own, reflective of state and local culture and politics.
While we’ve encountered all three of the finalists and agree that the signage proclaiming the shopping corridors of the pedestrian mall downtown to be a weapons-free zone irksome and depressing and the winner in the form of an unending major construction project that has had Autobahn traffic in a snarl for years on end a frustrating if not befitting champion, we most enjoyed reconnecting, re-engaging with those awful E-Roller, electro-scooters abandoned, crowding the sidewalks. Do you have a nominee for Unwort of the Year for your area?

Saturday 14 December 2019


Excuse my dotage if this is a repeat observation as it’s one of those coincidences that I would have thought I would have written about before but can find no evidence to demonstrate that I did, despite a strong feeling of presque vu, but strikes me as an interesting quirk of history that the first reliably documented achievement of human flight took place on this day in 1782 in an experiment conducted Joseph-Michel and Jacques-ร‰tienne Montgolfier, with an albeit unmanned hot air balloon rising aloft and traveling a distance of two kilometres before landing.
Less than a year later, they demonstrated their accomplishment—this time with a manifest of a sheep, a rooster and a duck that returned safely to the ground (going against the king’s suggestion of sending up convicted prisoners), to the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, with two humans taking a test flight on 21 November 1783. The distinction of being the first human passengers did not go to the Brothers Montgolfier themselves but rather to the chemistry teacher Jean-Franรงois Pilรขtre de Rozier and army officer Franรงois Laurent d’Arlandes. Leap forward to the winter of 1903 when on the same day (maybe there is something about that time-frame) the Wright Brothers (see previously) made their first trail with their Wright Flyer at the Kill Devil Hills outside of the town of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The first flight of a heavier-than-air, powered craft came five days later.

Sunday 20 October 2019


From 1942 to 1990, Arnold Odermatt was employed as a forensics photographer for the Swiss canton of Nidwalden whose extensive portfolio documents encroaching modernity into this once isolated area, especially in traffic accidents, taking a second photograph for his own personal collection once the injured had been taken away.
Though his fascination is morbid and inscrutable as his motivation was never stated and the existence of the images were only disclosed by accident (his filmmaker son discovering the trove in a box in the attic one day and published them in a book that garnered attention in the late 1990s at the Frankfurter Buchmesse), there is, one might conjecture, a restorative property in seeing these husks of vehicles in an austere light, unmoving without drivers and passengers. Much more to explore at the link above including several galleries of Odermatt’s compositions, which includes many candid, happy scenes artfully captured as well.

Thursday 3 October 2019

potut pottuina

Overshadowed by his magnificently telling tantrum, the Trump’s White House did manage to open up a second front in his ongoing trade wars with the US Trade Representative, a Trump appointee, announcing that the World Trade Organisation will grant the US the right to levy tariffs on around seven billion euro (one percent of US-EU trade) on European exports—wine and cheese, in retaliation for the EU’s privileging its domestic Airbus over international competition.
We can’t say that the US has been subsidising its native industries in the same way for the past decade and a half of this squabble or whether it’s quite a fair ruling—though it highlights the asymmetry of government support and interventions and how diverting subsidies from staid business models in transport and agriculture would help drive greener and cleaner innovations. Further implication might be the UK becoming even more willing to crash out of the Union with no deal and into an unequal partnership with the States.  The EU is expected to respond in kind—though direct countermeasures are not allowed, WTO rules have no jurisdiction on boycotts.

Saturday 28 September 2019


In order to curb congestion along the capital’s crowded corridors, Brussels’ municipal authorities are encouraging the return of hitchhiking, albeit with the help of a digital intermediary, to match up drivers with spare seats—most ridership as in most of the developed world is a one occupant per vehicle).
At first it struck me as a gimmicky partnership, but the point of putting the scheme behind a mobile application is not to try to rival other ride-hailing and rider-sharing services but to instil a sense of trust, insofar as the person that one’s who is accepting the ride may be a stranger but is not unknown to the network, registration and vetting required and a digital fingerprint is left in case something untoward were to happen. There’s no payment involved for using the service, leaving any exchange up to the driver and passenger, if any, and the chief motivation is to reduce traffic. The app could also, I suppose, become a gauge of reputation for problem riders or problem drivers. What do you think? Would you sign on? Old, traditional solutions are often not the most sexy or exciting but still the most reliable.