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February 14, 2016
[comics] Watchmen Photomanips for Valentines Day‘I thought maybe we could… Um, try some wife-swapping after dinner.

Watchmen Wife Swapping Valentines

February 12, 2016
[books] Promised You a Miracle: UK 80-82 by Andy Beckett review – how today’s Britain was born in the early 80s … some interesting thoughts on how lucky Margaret Thatcher was in the early 1980s … ‘The readying and departure of the taskforce became in Beckett’s words “an epic, brilliantly manipulative piece of public theatre … that would run, to credulous rave reviews in most of the British media, for the rest of the Falklands conflict, and indeed [for more than a year] right up to the next general election”. Those scenes and the victory that followed did wonders for a prime minister who only a few months before had registered lower approval ratings than any of her predecessors; who, according to John Hoskyns, the head of her policy unit, could be found in the summer of 1981 sitting on a seat at the end of her garden thinking: “It’s all gone wrong. I don’t think it will ever come right. I’m the most unpopular prime minister ever. I will go down as a total disaster.” A year later, even as the taskforce was still heaving and wallowing its way homeward, the Tories were suddenly leading Labour by 20% in the polls and Thatcher was chastising “the waverers and the faint hearts … who thought we could no longer do the great things which we once did”, and announcing that Britain had “found herself again in the South Atlantic and will not look back”. In the election the following year, the Tories won their biggest victory since Harold Macmillan’s in 1959.’
February 11, 2016
[codes] They Cracked This 250-Year-Old Code, and Found a Secret Society Inside … fascinating story of how the code of a long-forgotten secret society was cracked … ‘There were at least 10 identifiable character clusters that repeated throughout the document. The only way groups of letters would look and act largely the same was if this was a genuine cipher—one he could break. “This is not a hoax; this is not random. I can solve this one,” he told himself. A particular cluster caught his eye: the cipher’s unaccented Roman letters used by English, Spanish, and other European languages. Knight did a separate frequency analysis to see which of those letters appeared most often. The results were typical for a Western language. It suggested that this document might be the most basic of ciphers, in which one letter is swapped for another—a kid’s decoder ring, basically. Maybe, Knight thought, the real code was in the Roman alphabet, and all the funny astronomical signs and accented letters were there just to throw the reader off the scent. Of course, a substitution cipher was only simple if you knew what language it was in.’
February 10, 2016
[comics] The Making of Daniel Clowes … a long, nicely-done profile of Dan Clowes … ‘Clowes quickly gained a reputation as the industry’s angry young man. Friends still talk about “the chip” — that weight on his shoulder from having worked so hard at a medium long associated with kids and misfits. “Oh, you mean the chip?” they’ll ask when questioned about how much he’s changed since those early days. Read enough of his works and you’ll see character after character with some version of the chip, from Enid Coleslaw to Wilson to the time traveler in Patience. “We often talked about Charles Schulz,” Clowes’s friend and fellow artist Richard Sala says. “When he was alive, he was the most famous and successful cartoonist ever, but he was still depressed. He still remembered every slight and every mean thing that anybody had ever said to him. And I think Dan related.”’
February 9, 2016
[comics] ‘Has The Human Centipede Taught Us Nothing?’ Alan Moore Answers Questions About Cinema Purgatorio For Bleeding Cool … a Q&A regarding the new black and white anthology comic Moore is launching on Kickstarter … ‘ I’m aware that a large majority of the current comic book audience are pathologically averse to anthologies, and you can certainly see their point. After all, when has anything memorable in the comic book medium ever emerged from an anthology? Except, obviously, Action Comics. Oh, and Detective Comics. And Sensation Comics and All Star and Adventure Comics. And Will Eisner’s work. And Jack Cole’s. And Mad and the entire E.C. line. And Amazing Adult Fantasy. And Tales of Suspense. And Strange Tales. And Journey into Mystery. And Creepy, and Eerie. And Zap. And the rest of the Undergrounds. And Comics Arcade. And 2000AD. And Warrior. And Viz. And almost all English and European comics. And almost all American comics, even single-character titles, until the 1960s. But other than that, what has the comic book anthology, or the Roman Empire for that matter, ever done for us?’
February 8, 2016
February 5, 2016
[sonic] The Michael Jackson Video Game Conspiracy … Did Michael Jackson write soundtrack music For Sonic 3?… ‘As the 1990s wore on, Sega lost a crucial round of the console wars to a resurgent Nintendo and upstart Sony. Ben Mallison remained a Jackson and Sonic fan. But as he entered his teen years, something about Sonic 3 started to tug at him. There was something weird about that Sonic 3 music, and he couldn’t figure it out. Then one day, it came to him. “Huh,” Ben thought. “That Sonic music sure sounds like Michael Jackson.” “I’ve always been musically inclined and have a knack for noticing stuff like samples or ripoffs in songs,” he says. But he didn’t have any way to share his theory with the world. For that, Ben had to wait for the Internet…’
February 4, 2016
[true_crime] “Not Guilty” Pleasure: Why We Love but Distrust True Crime … Rex Sorgatz on the powerful appeal of True Crime … ‘In the first season of Serial, the foundational story to disassemble is that Adnan Syed murdered his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. That’s the authoritative version, reported by newspapers. What Serial does, through a dozen spellbinding episodes, is slowly dismantle the official story, until eventually you have no idea what happened. At that exact moment — when you say I don’t know! — crime transmutes into true crime. (You can tell the difference between highbrow and lowbrow true crime by the degree to which a narrator professes I don’t know! The greater the narrative self-doubt, the higher the brow.)’ 
February 3, 2016
[work] Boss Wants Friendly, Relaxed Company Culture In Place By Friday‘He wants a relaxed, friendly company culture implemented by the end of the week, sources within the organization confirmed. “I don’t care how you make this a laid-back, fun place to work, just get it done, and get it done fast,” Abelson said during a meeting of the company’s various department heads, which is said to have begun with Abelson harshly reprimanding a client service manager for arriving five minutes late.’
February 2, 2016
[war] How Rogue Techies Armed the Predator, Almost Stopped 9/11, and Accidentally Invented Remote War … a look at how the the Predator Drone was created …

The team found what they were looking for during one of the Predator’s very first split operations missions in early September 2000. Swanson was circling over Tarnak Farms, a walled compound near the Kandahar airport where bin Laden—or UBL as the team called him, referring to the alternative spelling, Usama—was thought to be living. Jeff Guay, an Air Force master sergeant on the team, was controlling the drone’s camera. Sure enough, a man in white, surrounded by an entourage, soon emerged on their screens.

“When UBL walked out of that one building,” Swanson says, “the way he appeared much taller than everybody, the people were deferential around him, the way he was dressed, Jeff and I just looked at each other and it’s like, ‘Yeah, that’s got to be him.’” Swanson assumed a cruise missile would be dispatched in the direction of bin Laden while the Predator loitered overhead to make sure he stayed put. The team had been instructed to continue circling for as long as necessary, even if that meant running out of fuel and crashing.

But for reasons obscure to the team, no strike was ordered. With Swanson gripping his joystick, unable to do anything but stare, America’s final chance to kill Bin Laden before September 11 slipped away.

February 1, 2016
[conspiracy] What Kind of Person Calls a Mass Shooting a Hoax? … an appalling story about how parents of children murdered in a mass shootings get harassed by mass-shooting conspiracy truthers … ‘The conspiracy movement’s personal attacks show no sign of abating. Early this November, a 32-year-old man was arrested for accosting the sisters of Vicki Soto, a slain teacher, at a Newtown charity event; he wanted to ask them whether a family photo of theirs had been photoshopped. For the hoaxers, no private moment has been sacred. At one point, they vigorously picked over the details of Noah’s funeral. Prior to the ceremony, the family opened Noah’s casket for a private viewing, which was reported in the news. It’s not an unusual custom for Jewish families, but hoaxers alleged it was against the laws of the religion, which somehow helped substantiate their claim that Noah wasn’t real.’
January 29, 2016
[toys] Stormtroopers – the world’s biggest army? … a BBC reporter attempts to find out how many Star Wars Action Figures have been sold since 1977 … ‘My first significant breakthrough came from an unlikely source – the Leicestershire County Council Museum Service. The original Star Wars toys were produced under license in the UK by a company called Palitoy. They had a factory in Coalville in Leicestershire, and the museum inherited some of its paper. An internal company newsletter from 1985 revealed it had sold 25 million action figures in the UK alone – more than one toy for every child in the country at the time.’
January 28, 2016
[conspiracy] Secret success: equations give calculations for keeping conspiracies quiet … The mathematics of conspiracies … ‘Through his equations, Grimes calculated that hoax moon landings (410,000 people) would have been revealed in three years eight months, climate change fraud (405,000 people) in three years and nine months, a coverup of unsafe vaccinations (22,000) in three years and two months and a suppressed cancer cure (714,000 people) in three years and three months. “My results suggest that any conspiracy with over a few hundred people rapidly collapses, and big science conspiracies would not be sustainable,” he said. Grimes also looked at the maximum number of people who could take part in a conspiracy in order to maintain it. For a plot to last five years, the maximum was 2,521. For a scheme to remain under wraps for more than a decade, fewer than 1,000 people can be involved.’
January 27, 2016
[howto] YouTube Loop … useful guide to looping YouTube videos.
January 26, 2016
[funny] Literally Just 21 Mr Burns Quotes On Pictures Of Donald Trump‘Family, religion, friendship. These are the three demons you must slay if you wish to succeed in business.’

mr-burns-donald-trump-mashedup

January 25, 2016
[fb] Why Facebook Won, and Other Hard Truths … some interesting thoughts on Facebook’s success against the Open Web … ‘People read the web now at the level they read email — they look at a lot of stuff. And what they want (and what many people continue to shame them for) is a standard interface that allows them to do that without feeling stressed. You want to win against Facebook? Let go of the idea of people reading your stuff on your site, and develop or support interfaces that put your readers in control of how they view the web instead of giving the control to the people with the servers. Support people looking into federated recommendation systems. Make friends with the idea of full copies of your stuff flowing across the web instead of links.’
January 22, 2016
[sweets] Sugarless Gummy Bears Are Not Safe for Humans … how to disrupt your bowels with a few mouthfuls of Gummy Bears … ‘The beginning of the end. The bears opened my lower pod bay door and a gummy hell sprang forth. I made it to the toilet, just barely. My watery shit looked like a blend of bile and egg flower soup.’
January 21, 2016
[life] Don’t freak out, but scientists think octopuses ‘might be aliens’ after DNA study … LOVECRAFT WAS RIGHT!! … ‘Octopus DNA is highly rearranged – like cards shuffled and reshuffled in a pack – containing numerous so-called “jumping genes” that can leap around the genome. “The octopus appears to be utterly different from all other animals, even other molluscs, with its eight prehensile arms, its large brain and its clever problem-solving abilities,” said US researcher Dr Clifton Ragsdale, from the University of Chicago. ‘
January 20, 2016
[fb] How to block the companies tracking you on Facebook … useful step-by-step guide to improving your privacy with Facebook
January 19, 2016
[headlines] Evening Standard Billboard Flashback: January 2006 …

Evening Standard Billboards: January 2006

January 18, 2016
[magic] Seems Legit: We Talked to a Witch Who Casts Viruses Out of Computers With Magic‘There’s all different kinds of energies, including entities that may or may not be noticeable to human beings. You might want to call them ghosts or angels or spirits or demons. Think of demons as entities—they eat, they absorb energy, and they want to be fed. Computers are a vast store of electromagnetic energy, as well as messages. Sometimes when a demon is in a computer system, it’s just like a roach in a kitchen. It just eats and stays out of the way. But some demons are working for someone’s who’s trying to hurt you, and those are the really hard ones.’
January 15, 2016
[fail] The 100 Most Important Fails Of All Time … go and look at this epic collection of Fails.
January 13, 2016
[tech] Why Activists Wanted to Destroy Early GPS Satellites … fascinating story about an axe attack on an unlaunched GPS satellite in the 1990s and the motivations behind it … ‘GPS’ major media debut took place on the battlefield during the 1991 Gulf War, where GPS-guided cruise missiles took out Iraqi infrastructure and soldiers carried commercial GPS receivers (the system was still incomplete in 1991, and as a result all GPS operations during the Gulf War had to be coordinated within specific time windows to be sure there were enough satellites overhead). When explaining the Gulf War’s influence on the Brigade, Lumsdaine noted that “most of the civilian casualties of Operation Desert Storm came after the war because the infrastructure was targeted; the water, the electric lines, the generating stations. GPS was critical for taking out the electric grid of Iraq… with the electricity came repercussions with water filtration plans and so forth.” Crippling infrastructure is a long-term attack strategy, and GPS let the military enact it with ruthless precision.’
January 12, 2016
[facts] The Best Facts I Learned from Books in 2015‘Speaking of preachers, the word “poltergeist” was coined by Martin Luther. (From Philip Ball’s “Invisible: The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen.”) Thirteen years after he posted his famous ninety-five theses on the doors of a church in Wittenberg, Martin Luther wrote a pamphlet listing a hundred and fourteen grievances against the Catholic Church. The fifth item—following close on the heels of indulgences—was just one word long: “poltergeists.” (He objected to the way the Church used ghost stories to frighten congregants into holding multiple masses for the dead, supposedly to quiet their souls.)’
January 11, 2016
[hertzog] Lo And Behold, Reveries Of The Connected World Trailer … a new documenatary about the Internet from Werner Hertzog …

January 8, 2016
[fb] An Inside Look at a Facebook Data Center …. ‘Maybe this is why some of the moments where conversation switched from the technical operations to Facebook-speak felt so awkward, but unintentionally so, like when Facebook’s algorithm decides to fill your Year in Review with pictures of an ex-boyfriend. It’s a brand that becomes harder and harder to empathize with the more it insists on trying to be empathetic, maybe because it’s not clear if there’s a distinction between an empathy engine and a branding engine or maybe because I am generationally disinclined to trust anything that’s too big to fail.’
January 7, 2016
[truecrime] Serial thrillers: why true crime is popular culture’s most wanted … a look at the rise of True Crime … ‘Even now, true crime magazines tend to be displayed by newsagents closer to porn titles than the Economist. In publishing, a market leader is John Blake Books – a firm whose lists are unlikely to come under scrutiny by judges of the Man Booker prize. Currently touted Blake titles include Doctors Who Kill and The Yorkshire Ripper: The Secret Murders. But an almost universal fascination with the extremities of human behaviour means the loftier parts of the arts also push through the police tape at crime scenes. In the 1930s, the New Yorker, the most literarily pristine of American magazines, began to profile killers of the sort that obsessed pulpier rivals. Next month marks the 50th anniversary of Truman Capote’s book In Cold Blood, which investigated, in a manner that has clearly influenced Serial, a mass killing in Kansas.’
January 6, 2016
[mh370] MH370 Was Crippled by Sudden Electrical Failure … another theory on missing Flight MH370…

In a Daily Beast special report, I examined a scenario in which a fire in the forward cargo hold of the 777, originating in a consignment of lithium-ion batteries that were being shipped on the airplane, could have breached a wall and reached the Main Equipment Center, seriously degrading the airplane’s avionics and leading to the incapacitation of the crew and passengers.

However, the avionics for the Satellite Data Unit, sending the pings, was located not in the Main Equipment Center but well clear of it, in the roof of the cabin behind the wings, because that is where the antenna to access the satellite is best positioned.

The picture in the Australian report of an airplane stricken by a sudden and extensive loss of electrical power, while in no way definitive, is entirely consistent with this scenario.

Indeed, the report gives dramatic new clarity to the “zombie flight” version of events in which the airplane, by then fatally crippled, makes one final change of course and then flies into the vast emptiness of the southern Indian Ocean without any sign of human direction or control.

January 5, 2016
[books] William Gibson on the Individual: ‘We do tend to have this unexamined assumption that the individual is a huge fucking deal. Because it feels to use that we are. Because our neurological equipment seems to demonstrate to each of us that we are quite obviously the exact center of the universe. Just as we are all, subjectively, politically quite sensibly centrist. The key to racism is that racists literally don’t know they are. They think it’s a specious category invented to shame them for simply being sensible.’
January 4, 2016
[comics] Steve Bell’s top five cartoons of the year‘Show the Queen your Tonsils! Traitor!!’

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