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No way logo

It seems that large numbers of youths raided shops for branded sportswear (Adidas, Nike) and electrical goods in the disturbances of 7-9 August in England (Reuters, Telegraph). If any of them missed the lesson that crime really doesn’t pay, the kids at least discovered that certain crimes don’t scale up. Antisocial behaviour and gang riots … Continue reading

Tags and codes

Graffiti tags are like the scents left by animals to mark territory. The territorial call signs of birds presumably fill a similar function. Territories are defined as much by secret conventions as they are by walls and boundaries. As explored in my previous post, one of the technical terms for such sign conventions is “deictic” … Continue reading

Rogue fan fiction: the peculiar case of QAnon

QAnon is the alias of an entity (i.e an individual or a group) that claims to be an operative within the US Intelligence Service. The entity works undercover and discloses tantalising facts about how the US military brought Trump into power to overcome the Deep State. The Deep State is that clandestine and pernicious organisation … Continue reading

Invisible icons

An icon is a likeness; something that resembles the thing it refers to — its referent. Iconography is a branch of study that deals with such resemblances, i.e. drawings or other pictorial representations of things. That’s the OED definitions, but in spite of such generality, we mostly reserve the word icon for use in particular … Continue reading

Dark web anonymity

I downloaded a bitcoin wallet to my smartphone on 3 July 2017, and filled it with £100 of bitcoin procured via my debit card. The transaction cost £3. A bank transfer would have been free, but I was in a hurry. (With currency fluctuations, and 3 weeks later, my wallet today contains £110.19. So I … Continue reading

What’s wrong with accelerationism

“You can’t always get what you want” is the puzzling refrain that echoed out over the PA at the end of Trump rallies, and was repeated at his subsequent post-victory reprieve rallies. The less audible punchline of the song is, “You just might find you get what you need.” Getting what you need is more important than … Continue reading

Slime and goo

Nature and health are closely aligned, but not always positively in the case of buildings. Left unchecked, nature delivers invasive plant life with root systems that unseat brickwork, and break through water barriers. Fungus, mould, lichen and other spore-producing organisms (cryptogams) invade architectural cracks, pores and surfaces. Invasive nature invokes a kind of “disgust” according … Continue reading

Reading the book of nature

“Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight. Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning.” How do you read nature? Nature is a system of signs after all. The theory of signs (semiotics) is interesting not least as it repositions the discussion of nature away from the reductive notion of data towards the totality of experience (see post One … Continue reading

Cute and cuddly

Who could miss the palpable cuteness of puppies and kittens on YouTube, and their mass produced surrogates in cartoons, video games, on logos, as branded accessories and as soft toys. The word “cute” is an abbreviation of “acute,” meaning clever, keen-witted, sharp, and shrewd, according to the OED. In her extensive exploration of cute as a viable contemporary aesthetic category, … Continue reading

Flipped classroom 101

What is a lecture? In the 1980s with Jacques Derrida’s radical hermeneutics in full flow, we read about and practiced the lec(ri)ture, an inversion of the lecturing format — the insertion of laughter (ri) into the standard, conventional idea that knowledge could be delivered by talking to a group of people sitting in front of you. Scholar of English literature Gregory Ulmer asserted … Continue reading

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