Friday 10 May 2024

tea party (11. 551)

Passed on this day in 1773 by the parliament of Great Britain, the Tea Act was principally designed to help the British East India Company remain profitable and offload some of its surplus by undercutting the price for illegal imports, mostly smuggled into the American colonies through Dutch suppliers, by enabling direct and duty-free exports. The supplemental tariff under the Townsend Acts meant to generate revenue for colonial administration and the paid the salaries of governors (to ensure allegiance) as well as leverage to obtain better terms of trade with transportation companies. Although the quality of the black market tea was inferior to the British, it was considered patriotic to drink the smuggled tea by some groups as a political protest to the taxes levied. Despite the elimination of elimination of duties with the license for direct sales that bypassed the need for middlemen (these merchants also angered because they were rendered superfluous as were the marketeers) resulting in lower prices for higher quality tea, colonists were still upset on principal of the retention of the nominal tax used to pay the salaries of crown officials. Harbour masters in New York and Philadelphia were refusing delivery of tea shipments and reached a crisis point in December that year when the Sons of Liberty (cosplaying Native Americans, the tax was set to expire if not renewed by Parliament) raided ships docked in Boston and dumped the cargo overboard—an event known later as the Boston Tea Party, mythologised, which resulted in the embargo and closure of the port until the destroyed shipments were paid for.

† (11. 550)

Via Web Curios, we are referred to a collection of abandoned blogs, personal projects a decade or more moribund and neglected for various and unknown
reasons, like succumbing to the ease and convenience of social media, loosing focus, growing beyond and dying in some cases surely but all present as an abrupt mystery them that were once obsessively curated and betray a lot of earnestness and energy on all sorts of interests from fashion, to cooking, to travel and more niche pursuits. In part due to the privilege of having such a perfectly (mostly) preserved perspective on these relics that don’t age or crumble, pursuing these posts (yes, with some old school mommy blogs and sites built on Blogspot, click next for serendipity) is indeed not like a wistful walk amongst the tombstones exactly though one appreciates the unfinished business once so carefully tended and the placeholder did strike me as a bit plaintive: “if i hadn’t deleted my old blogs, then they would go here too…” More at the links above.


one year ago: a classic from Duran Duran plus assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: Walter Defends Sarajevo (1972), the first US female presidential candidate plus a classic from Falco

three years ago: your daily demon: Gusion, introducing the Incredible Hulk, nuclear engineering wall charts, Aristotle and Phyllis plus grunge slang

four years ago: the UK invades Iceland, tomatoes legally defined, an AI makes music, Trump and the pandemic plus superblooms

five years ago: a Chinese space camp, chumbox advertisements, Nazi book-burnings (1933) plus the Frankfurt kitchen

Thursday 9 May 2024

nailed it! (11. 549)

Via Super Punch we learn—and on par with the Finnish practise of awarding a hat and a sword—that Sweden carries on with the unique and obligatory tradition, described as “Lutherishly,” for PhD candidates to nail one’s thesis, disseration to a wall or plank a few weeks prior to one’s defence. Referred to a spikning, students will post their paper (nicely bound by the university’s library press, and with the written approval of their advisor, signed off as Mรฅ spikas, “May be nailed”) in the halls of their respective departments for others to pursue and dispute. The comparison to the sixteenth century revolutionary protest against the selling of plenary indulgences seems apt but Martin Luther took the idea from academia and not the other way around.

the (other) line (11. 548)

As much as the projected NEOM (previously) professed to be a technological utopia with minimal—or negating impact—on the environment, promises which are looking less and less deliverable, this AI-generated cityscape extending out in all directions but centred on a main traffic artery isn’t quite so much antithetical (at least behind the veneer) as regressive and a reminder that the technocrati over-promise and cannot offer a real escape from the crowded, dirty, decaying and hierarchical framework of capitalism that created and enabled them. The oasis in the desert is a mirage. More from AI-DA at the link above.


one year ago: a political cartoon attributed to Benjamin Franklin plus assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: Dianetics Day, all the .horse websites plus the musical origins of the seven-day week

three years ago: another MST3K classic, parahawking, Europe Week, television and the public interest, recycled sets, the skyscrapers of NYC, more text-based computer games plus early generative artwork

four years ago: a Roman festival to appease the restive dead, BBC backdrops, a planned alternative UN headquarters plus the Treaty of Winsor (1373)

five years ago: form+zweck, a US plan to bomb the Moon (1958), Watergate hearings commence (1974) plus a fire-chasing beetle

Wednesday 8 May 2024

pacific 231 (11. 547)

The most often performed of his orchestral arrangements and originally given the working title Mouvement Symphonique for the compositional exercise in building momentum whilst slowing tempo, the tone poem by Arthur Honegger, a member of Les Six—a group of composers working in Montparnasse who collaborated on projects and produced albums during the interbellum and WWII when audiences could not attend live performances—had its premiere on this day in 1924. A tribute to steam locomotives and named for a class of engines with two axles for pilot wheels, three for the driving wheels and two for the trailing, Honegger was a noted train enthusiast, declaiming that “I have always loved locomotives passionately. For me they are living creatures, and I love them as others love women or horses.” The below 1949 award-winning short by director Jean Mitry of the same name scores railyard operations to Honegger’s music.

hardhat riot (11. 546)

As our faithful chronicler reminds, on this day in 1970, around noon a group of more than four-hundred construction workers—many working on the World Trade Center—converged on a group of anti-war protesters, mostly college students picketing the New York Stock Exchange and rallying on the steps of Federal Hall, originally a Customs House on Wall Street, setting up a memorial for those killed at Kent State four days prior and calling for an end to the fighting in Vietnam and Cambodia, release of political prisoners and an end to military-related research on university campuses. By lunch time the clashes turned violent with some eight hundred office workers joining the ranks of the agitating construction workers, breaking through a thin line of police separating the two sides and pursuing students and onlookers and beating them safety equipment and tools. Law enforcement, sympathetic to the counter protesters, did little to intervene or stop the melee. Two weeks of protests followed before the demonstrations, pitting labour union leaders against pacifists, subsided and towards the end of the month, the organiser of the initial riot and a delegation of representing some three-hundred thousand unionised trade workers, were invited to the White House to meet with president Richard Nixon, who said he sought to honour those labour leaders “and people from Middle America who still have character and guts and a bit of patriotism,” accepting hard hats as a gift. For his loyalty and role in starting a culture war, a values war that divided traditionally shared sentiments among Democratic voters, that leader Peter J Brennan was appointed secretary of labour and the cabinet official outlasted the Nixon administration and served under Ford as well.


one year ago: an early fifth century bog man

two years ago: the Nebra Skydisc

three years ago: a classic Eurodance number, assorted links worth revisiting plus more photographs from Pete Souza

four years ago: the death of Tito (1980), more links to enjoy plus Russian borderlands

five years ago: more links worth the revisit plus Heath Robinson contraptions

Tuesday 7 May 2024

rabbithole (11. 545)

Via Mx Tynehorne’s Cabinet of Curiosities (previously), we found ourselves drawn into a web of unsolved, enduring mysteries, fringe and pseudoscience theories, cryptozoology, and urban, internet legends with this extensive and growing list of obscure phenomena from Iceberg Charts. Of course the trajectory from hesitancy, to skepticism to contrarian and conspiratorial thinking can be a slippery slope and most of the cited examples are tempered with a dose of rebuttal and academic remediation and many catalogued are harmless fun. Among the newer links, we found an enticing selection of alternative histories (see previously) plus a new one in the form of the Roman Senate’s capital condemnation of a poet, grammarian and plebeian tribune of the Late Republic called Quintus Valerius Soranus. A contemporary and correspondent of Cicero and credited with the intention of the reading aid in the form of a table of contents, Soranus was put to death by crucifixion under the dictatorship of Sulla for ostensibly, publicly revealing the arcane and sacred name of Rome. Though unclear the manner of the publication, perhaps in a poem’s acrostic—or whether this was a political pretext to rid themselves of a troublesome colleague—such evocatio was considered a grave taboo and never mentioned outside of exclusive, secret ceremonies as divulging the name was calling forth the civic, tutelary deity, which if known by Rome’s enemies could cause the protector god to abandon and defect. No one knows if the city truly had such a classified name or what it was—possibly after the elder goddess called Angeron—and the popular but possibly creatively incorrect that it was what Rome spelt backwards spelt was inspired by a dual temple built by Hadrian to the city and Venus with altars back to back and hence the ROMA-AMOR inversion.

7x7 (11. 544)

group tape №1: a 1981 compilation from the International Electronic Music Association collective  

the light eaters: plant cognition and agency—see previously  

hardfork: the duality of Vernor Vinge’s Singularity 

to share something is to risk losing it: an update on the beloved Broccoli Tree (not pictured), which was loved to death—see also  

mai-1: Microsofts new AI model could potentially over take rivals 

pod squad: Project CETI gains more insights into whale communication  

haus 33: a ride on the Techno Train that loops from Nรผrnberg to Wรผrzburg


one year ago: the Devil’s Bible

two years ago: a classic from Spandau Ballet

three years ago: cheugy plus Kraft Television Theatre

four years ago: cereal and straw craft, Kraftwerk plus Shelter-in-Place

five years ago: the long-delayed passage of a US constitutional amendment, designer Georg Elliot Olden, the unending attraction of nature plus haunted dolls