Saturday, 14 May 2022

matthias the apostle

Formerly venerated on the sixth day before the Calends of March but with the calendar revisions of 1969, the commemoration of the Apostle Matthias, nominated by an assembly of disciples rather than chosen by Jesus himself to replace Judas Iscariot, was translated to this day as to take the celebration out of Lent and closer to the historical date (and as patron-protector against smallpox, coincides with the first inoculation administered by Edward Jenner in 1796 on eight-year-old James Phipps, the son of the family gardener). Though there are scant canonical details regarding his life, tradition places Matthias on the Caspian coast and evangelising to the people of the region that is modern day Georgia. Matthias’ patronage also includes tailors, carpenters, Billings Montana, Gary Indiana, Trier and alcoholics.

mise of lewes

Reviewing the chronicle of historic events that happened on this day, I was reminded of something spotted on our 2016 trip across England and this marker in the town of Lewes that commemorated the settlement (a rare English term from legal French, the past participle of mettre—to put) struck on this day during the
Second Barons’ War in 1264 between embattled Henry III and the rebellious gentry under the leadership of Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester. On the brink of civil war, displeased with high taxation and tribute and foreign influence in the royal court, landholders and king negotiated a series of reforms that placed policy decisions in a council of magnates but was soon diluted and returned to status quo ante bellum, particularly after arbitration by Louis IX, a champion of royal prerogative and who certainly didn’t want a revolt on his hands, fighting broke out again at the fields of Lewes. Though with his victory,
Simon de Montfort was effectively made ruler of England, he was not able to hold power or maintain a stable government was was himself killed one year later during the Battle of Evesham. The monument to the battle and peace treaty was erected in 1964, the seven hundredth anniversary.  It was a nice occasion also to revisit some impressions (which I think we’ve not shared before) of this ancient town in Sussex with castle ruins and venerable brewery.

a show with everything but yul brenner

After previews and the critically-acclaimed release of a concept album, the musical collaboration by ABBA members Benny Andersson and Bjรถrn Ulvaeus and Tim Rice had its premiere in London’s West End on this day in 1986, depicting geopolitical tensions of the Cold War through the lens of a tournament between two grandmasters of the game, loosely based on the game careers of Bobby Fischer (Murray Head) and Anatoly Karpov (Tommy Kรถrberg) whose stakes were reflective of the sentiment of the era and the Reagan, Thatcher Doctrine of the mid-80s. Songs include of course “One Night in Bangkok.” Full-length bootleg recording of the original cast below.

Friday, 13 May 2022

unvollstรคndigkeitssatz

Futility Closet relates an anecdote from the live of mathematician Kurt Gรถdel in residence at Princeton University Institute for Advanced Studies and his friendship with fellow resident scholars physicists Albert Einstein (previously) John von Neumann and economist Oskar Morgenstern, whom felt obliged to make sure their younger charge’s tendency for over-thinking remained an asset and not his undoing and monitored Gรถdel’s preparation for the US citizenship exam in 1947, Einstein himself naturalised seven years earlier. The prodigal and influential logistician widely settled the impossibility of formulating a self-consistent and complete set of rules governing all of mathematics at the tender age of twenty-five, Gรถdel assayed the project of his examination with signature tenacity and revealed to his wardens that in his research, he had uncovered a fatal-flaw in the American constitution that could led to dictatorship, the corruption and consequence of totalitarian democracy. Einstein and company implored him not to share this discovery and the test was actually a much simpler affair, though basic civics and recent history might have suggested otherwise. The proctor for the citizenship test inquired of Gรถdel his state of origin and its form of government—to which Gรถdel replied Austria and a republic, but owed that “the constitution was such that it soon become a dictatorship.” Despite the examiner’s insistence that the same could not happen in the USA and Gรถdel’s refutation with the offer of proof, the panel stuck to the business at hand and conducted the test. No mention was made in their collective memoirs what that finding might have been and we suppose won’t know it until it’s happened.

6x6

sagittarius a*: the Event Horizon Telescope captures images of the Milky Way’s Black Hole—previously  

sluggo: “Music from Nancy”—via Waxy  

click-wheel: with the announcement that the last iteration of the iPod is being discontinued after two decades (see also), enjoy this first commercial advertisement  

anamorphic camouflage illusion: the Phantom Queen optical effect  

รผbersetzer: Google Translate adds languages using Zero-Shot Machine Translation, now facilitating communication among one hundred and thirty-three different languages  

white dwarf: astronomers witness a nova in real time

nossa senhora de fรกtima

The series of Marian apparitions that reportedly presented themselves to a trio of three shepherd children appeared for the first time on this day in 1917. Declared events worthy of believe after years of careful study and deliberation by the local bishop, this set off a chain of investigations of the visions of Lรบcia dos Santos and her cousins Jacinta Mart and Francisco that led to the coronation and veneration of the site by the mid-1950s. Appearing to the children for the first of six times, the Virgin Mary delivered the prophecy that prayer would end the Great War, promising to return soon in a more public fashion so that all would believe, a miraculous solar aberration observed by many assembled in a field on 13 October of the same year. The call to pilgrimage and the general incredulity of the witnesses was regarded with suspicion with many accusing the movement to be subversive and to overthrow the newly established republic that had first thrown off the yoke of monarchy and then dictatorship in 1910 and 1915. Sister Lรบcia—who had since taken become a nun, publishing her memoirs—detailed in 1941 that she and her companions had been entrusted with three secrets: first a vision of Hell and that whilst the Great War (WW1) had ended, more dreadful future conflicts were to come if the people were not repentant; second the need to evangelise to Russia and the restoration of the pious monarchy (an assessment enforced by the thwarted assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II on this day in 1981); and thirdly—not revealed until 2000—that of the downfall of the Catholic Church, which especially hinged on whether the above attack had been carried off successfully.

Thursday, 12 May 2022

whistle-stop tour

Also available in audio form, 99% Invisible presents a thorough-going appreciation of locomotives, ranging from how the dining car gave us the curious dimensions of the diner and a Scott Joplin rag-time composition on the intentional ramming together of two engines and the temporary city that sprung up to watch this train-wreck to theory and praxis of Japanese railways.

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

eine stadt sucht einen mรถrder

Debuting on this day in the UFA Palast am Zoo in Berlin in 1931, the film M by Fritz Lang (previously here and here) and co-written by Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou was the director’s first sound motion picture and includes innovations like tracking shots and a leitmotif in the form of eerie whistling of Edvard Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King—” done by Lang as Peter Lorre could not carry a tune. The plot, criticised initially for being too long at one-hundred fourteen minutes, is the prototypically noir police procedural and “courtroom” drama (apprehended and tried by his peers) about the capture and trial of a serial killer of children and is counted among the greatest cinematic works of all time. Lang himself considered it to be his magnum opus with pointed social commentary for his adopted homeland of Germany, which he reviled for allowing Nazism to take root. Auf die Kinder muss man besser aufpassen… Sie alle!