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July 31, 2014
[life] Love in the Key of Partridge … trying to find love – using only the words of Alan Partridge.

Love in the Key of Partridge

July 30, 2014
[books] The Bible vs. Mao: A “Best Guess” of the Top 25 Bestselling Books of All Time’10. (tie) The Truth that Leads to Eternal Life, Jehovah’s Witnesses/Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York. Published in English in 1968, 107 million copies. 10. (tie) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rowling. The first novel of J.K. Rowling’s famous “Harry Potter” series sold over 107 million copies since its 1997 publication.’
July 29, 2014
[religion] More Engaging Copy for the Ten Commandments.’37 Things in Your Bedroom That You Need to Get Rid of Right Now, Like Adulteresses.’
July 28, 2014
[politics] ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ – the two faces of Michael Gove … intriguing profile of the recently demoted Tory minister … ‘As brokering replaced bombing in Northern Ireland, most people in Britain were relieved, but Gove pamphleteered for an alternative strategy of “resolute security action”. He retained an anachronistic feeling for “Greater Britain”. After 9/11 he sometimes wrapped up fervent support for Blair-Bush crusades in the modern parlance of liberal interventionism, and sometimes lapsed into an older discourse. In one sweeping column, he hailed the 1704 capture of Gibraltar “as an opening chapter in democracy’s vindication”, noted “profound echoes” with today’s struggles against autocrats in the Muslim world, and even suggested that “far-sighted” Spaniards might learn to see Britain’s Iberian outpost as the rock on which western success was built. Columnists are employed to grab interest rather than decide things, but Gove’s stridency on world affairs survived his 2005 move into parliament…’
July 27, 2014
[space] Spacecraft Rosetta Shows Comet has Two Components … remarkable animated image of a rubber duck shaped comet taken from the Rosetta Spacecraft chasing it through space … ‘The comet’s unusual 5-km sized comet nucleus is seen rotating over the course of a few hours, with each frame taken 20-minutes apart. Better images — and hopefully more refined theories — are expected as Rosetta is on track to enter orbit around Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko’s nucleus early next month, and by the end of the year, if possible, land a probe on it.’
July 26, 2014
[space] The Audacious Rescue Plan That Might Have Saved Space Shuttle Columbia … The untold story of the rescue mission that might have saved the astronauts on board Columbia in 2003‘The mission to rescue Columbia, though, represents the kind of task that NASA, since its beginnings, has demonstrated an unswerving ability to execute. There would have been a clear goal, there would have been hard timing requirements, and the agency’s massive pool of engineering talent would be empowered to accomplish the goal at any cost and without restriction. The will to win would not be lacking, but technical challenges are ignorant of will and drive—look, for example, at the liquid oxygen tank explosion that crippled the Apollo 13 command and service module in 1970. That explosion was the result of a combination of events that occurred prior to launch, with potential blame stretching from the tank’s manufacturer all the way to the crew itself. The error-free rescue of Columbia would have depended not just on the flawless execution of teams at all of the NASA centers but also on an unknown number of events that happened days, weeks, months, or even years in the past leading up to the mission.’
July 25, 2014
[apollo] Twenty Awesome Covers From The US Space Program‘Manuals, guidebooks, press kits, reports, brochures – all with cool artworks and typography. Enjoy!’

Apollo Mission Book Covers

July 24, 2014
[space] Riding the Space Shuttle Booster into Orbit (and Back Again)‘A movie from the point of view of the Solid Rocket Booster with sound mixing and enhancement done by the folks at Skywalker Sound. The sound is all from the camera microphones…’ [more...]
July 23, 2014
[space] The Broken Beyond: How Space Turned Into an Office Park – Technology – The Atlantic… depressing article wondering why all our dreams of exploring space have died …

Space, once a place for governments and dreamers who would really just be civil servants, has become a playground for the hyper-affluent. [...] We don’t have flying cars, but we have a billionaire who sells electric cars to millionaires. We don’t have space vacations, but we have another billionaire who will take you on a magic carpet ride for two-hundred large. Today, a kid who says “I want to be an astronaut” is really just saying “I want to be rich.” Isn’t that what everyone wants? All of today’s dreams are dreams of wealth.

The official mission of the final Space Shuttle, STS-135, reads more like a joke from The Office than a science fictional fantasy: “Space Shuttle Atlantis is carrying the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module to deliver supplies, logistics and spare parts to the International Space Station.” Among its tasks: the delivery of a new tank for a urine recycling system, and the removal of a malfunctioning space sewage pump. If only I’d known in 1982 that astronaut and garbage collector would turn out to be such similar jobs.

July 22, 2014
[apollo] Moondoggle: The Forgotten Opposition to the Apollo Program … turns out a majority of Americans did not think going to the Moon was worth it in the 1960s … ‘The race to the moon may not have been wildly popular among scientists, random Americans, or black political activists, but it was hard to deny the power of the imagery returning from space. Our attention kept getting directed to the heavens — and our technology’s ability to propel humans there. It was pure there, and sublime, even if our rational selves could see we might be better off spending the money on urban infrastructure or cancer research or vocational training.’
July 21, 2014
[comics] Explorers on the Moon 1969 … Tintin and Gang greets Neil Armstrong on the Moon …

Tintin and Gang greet Neil Armstrong on the Moon

July 20, 2014
[apollo] The First Men on the Moon: The Apollo 11 Lunar Landing … remarkable webapp allowing you to experience the Apollo 11 moon landing minute-by-minute as it happened… ‘Eagle, Houston. If you read, you’re GO for powered descent. Over.’
July 19, 2014
[sapce] Cassini Mission on Vimeo … wonderful footage set to music of Nasa’s Cassini mission to Saturn.
July 18, 2014
[space] Prometheus Rising Through Saturns F Ring … go look at this picture of a moon of Saturn moving through one of the gas giant’s rings.
July 17, 2014
[moon] A Stowaway to the Thanatosphere: My Voyage Beyond Apollo with Norman Mailer, Rex Weiner… Gonzo-esque tale of two stowaways on a cruise ship voyage to watch the last Apollo Moon launch in 1972 …

Nixon was president, Watergate was still a third-rate burglary, and Tom and I were left feeling anxious, paranoid, and bored. We were both admirers of Mailer—the tough little reefer smoker, contrarian wordsmith, libertarian politico, and no-nonsense ladies’ man—so the story about the Voyage Beyond Apollo stirred our interest.

“They’ve cleverly organized this thing on a ship, you dig, that way no one can crash it,” mused Forcade. He theorized that the cruise was just a cover for an elite conclave conspiring to jettison Earth once they’d totally ravaged it, and establish an exclusive colony for the rich and powerful in space. Everyone else would be left to fight over dwindling resources and perish in the terrestrial ruins. “Mailer is either in on the scam or they’ve suckered him into it. We have got to get on board that ship,” Tom said, “find out what these motherfuckers are up to, blow their cover, and rescue Mailer before it’s too late.”

Under the influence of a fresh shipment of Tom’s Columbian import, I thought it seemed like an entirely reasonable plan…

July 16, 2014
[space] The Extent of Human Radio Broadcasts … An image showing how far human radio broadcasts have travelled in the Milky Way.
July 15, 2014
July 14, 2014
[war] Burlington Bunker, under RAF Corsham, Wiltshire … a look at a cold war secret hidden underneath RAF Corsham in Wiltshire … ‘ Assembled as an emergency relocation site for the British government if the threat of nuclear war ever became reality. The bunker boasts some impressive ‘sections’ from a BBC broadcasting suite to a Hospital all accessible via 10 miles of ‘road’. Adjacent to Burlington is over 30km of tunnels and passageways belonging to Box Freestone Quarry, part of which taken over by the MOD and turned in to an air inlet. For years, explorers like myself would marvel at the MOD area of Box Mine and the mysterious ‘red door’ that sits at the end of the passage…’
July 13, 2014
[movies] A Whole Bunch Of People On Facebook Thought Steven Spielberg Killed A Real Dinosaur‘Internet humourist Jay Branscomb posted it on Facebook with the caption: “Disgraceful photo of recreational hunter happily posing next to a triceratops he just slaughtered. Please share so the world can name and shame this despicable man.” A lot of people didn’t get the joke, and thought Spielberg really had shot a dinosaur. This person called him an “inhumane prick”…’
July 12, 2014
[books] 30 Writers Other Writers Loved To Hate‘Saint David Foster Wallace: a generation trying to read him feels smart about themselves which is part of the whole bullshit package.’ — Bret Easton Ellis on David Foster Wallace.
July 11, 2014
[disa] Nature’s Most Perfect Killing Machine… a profile of the Ebola virus… ‘I first read Richard Preston’s The Hot Zone when I was 11 years old or so, and have since been in the habit of weighing every potential catastrophe against “death by Ebola virus disease.” The book is lurid and dramatic; the iconography of a dying patient crying blood and shitting out their intestines is, I admit, compelling. Terror-inducing as it may be, though, it’s perhaps not the most accurate portrait of the threat this particular monster poses…’
July 10, 2014
[savile] David Hare on Jimmy Savile: biography of the man who ‘groomed a nation’‘In his own words: “I am a man what knows everything but says nothing.” As he moved to consolidate his position and to work for the knighthood that he believed would make him untouchable, he took to raising vast sums of money for charity, most especially for a spinal injuries unit at Stoke Mandeville. His first question on arriving in any town was to ask where the hospital was. This was not just because a hospital offered sexual pickings and a captive audience for his ceaseless self-glorying monologues. Nor was it wholly because he needed the immunity that came from apparent respectability. Most important of all, he believed that the day would come when he would have to offer his good works as some mitigation against a final reckoning.’
July 9, 2014
[batman] The Real Dynamic Duo: Kane and Finger … Mark Evanier on Bob Kane, Bill Finger and Batman … ‘For those who don’t know: Bill Finger wrote the first Batman story and most of the early ones that established key things about the character and his world. He was a friend of Kane’s and a very good writer, and while Kane argued with some accounts of exactly what Finger had invented, even Bob had to admit that Bill made a vital contribution to the property.’
July 8, 2014
[people] How’s H.P. Lovecraft’s lovelife?‘Her arms and legs bend in both directions so you can’t see if she’s facing you.’

How is H.P. Lovecraft's Love Life?

July 7, 2014
[crime] Pablo Escobar’s hippos: A growing problem … a strange legacy of the the late Colombian drug lord … ‘[Carlos] Valderrama, whose job until recently included watching over the hippos in the Magdalena, has seen animals up to 250km (155 miles) away from Hacienda Napoles. Fishermen are terrified of the three-tonne herbivores, he says. At night, the animals roam the countryside, wandering into ranches, eating crops and occasionally crushing small cows.’
July 6, 2014
[web] Report mobile and Internet Service Providers blocking sites… what British ISP’s are blocking your website? Turns out I’m blocked by Talk Talk. ’20% of sites tested were blocked.’
July 5, 2014
[people] Rolf Harris, Savile and Clifford all pulled the wool over my eyes… Simon Hattenstone reflects on his interviews with three celebrity sex offenders…

I have never felt so strongly the presence of two contrasting characters as when I interviewed Harris. For much of the interview he performed, just as he did in court – he sang, he laughed in that exaggerated way, he whispered in that exaggerated way, he drew me a miniature flick cartoon book. Then, when he wasn’t performing, he was miserable as sin.

Whereas Clifford and Savile never appeared to question their essential goodness as men and altruists, Harris hated himself. He talked about what a useless father he’d been – selfish, paying more attention to strangers than to his wife and daughter, chasing his own dreams and desires, ignoring those of his family. He had recently written an autobiography and it had forced him to reassess his life. “You start writing it by thinking what a great guy I am. I’ve done this, that and the other. Then you suddenly think it’s all been inward focussing, only me, me, me, me, me, me, me, and people who are really close …” I never began to suspect why he was so tortured. At the time he came across as a man with humility, in touch with his flaws. But in retrospect, I think even here he was indulging himself – only this time, it was his guilt rather than his libido

July 4, 2014
[hackgate] “Do his phone.” – Andy Coulson. Boom! Journalism!

Andy Coulson: Do his phone.

July 3, 2014
[movies] Dressing The Future … a fascinating look at the costume design process on the movie Alien … ‘When Sigourney Weaver turned up for dress rehearsal, she found something other than grimy space-wear. “When they first dressed me up as Ripley it was in one of those pink and blue uniforms,” she said. “Ridley Scott came in and said, ‘You look like fucking Jackie O’NASA.’” Luckily, Scott decided to improvise…’
July 2, 2014
[dailyfail] The Daily Mail is a Drug … an interesting thought on why the Daily Mail is successful … ‘The reason for the Daily Mail’s continued growth is simple. For every story it runs it asks itself, “How can I present this story in manner that will generate a feeling of disgust in the reader?” The paper is, by now, phenomenally good at presenting news stories so that they always do generate that emotion of disgust. From that, all else follows…’

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