[moore] Alan Moore’s alternative Thought for the Day … Broadcast yesterday on Radio 4′s Today Programme … ‘The big advantage of worshipping an actual glove puppet of course is that if things start to get unruly or out of hand you can always put them gak in the gox. And you know, it doesn’t matter if they don’t want to go gak in the gox, they have to go gak in the gox.’
[best_of_metafilter] A few things we learned on the way to the Moon … nice collection of links on the Apollo program …‘What about the 800 plus pounds of rocks and dust brought back from the Moon? Surprisingly, they’re similar to Earth rocks, giving weight to the Giant Impact Theory. But the most amazing fact is that with no true atmosphere, there’s no erosion. The Moon rocks, laying on the surface for billions of years, contain information about the universe from early era of the universe, which also reveals the conditions of Earth shortly after it was formed.’
[science] Stephen Hawking Seeks Geek To Maintain His Unique Wheelchair‘…the ideal candidate must be able to work under pressure, maintain “black box” systems with no instruction manual or technical support, be a whiz with computers and electronics, be able to speak to large audiences and show others how to use complex systems. Not a big ask, then. The salary is roughly £25k…’
[tv] Scooby-Doo and Secular Humanism … ‘The very first rule of Scooby-Doo, the single premise that sits at the heart of their adventures, is that the world is full of grown-ups who lie to kids, and that it’s up to those kids to figure out what those lies are and call them on it, even if there are other adults who believe those lies with every fiber of their being. And the way that you win isn’t through supernatural powers, or even through fighting. The way that you win is by doing the most dangerous thing that any person being lied to by someone in power can do: You think.’
Allusion to Alan Moore’s prickly relationship with the company— Moore is “unavailable” for comment at time of press and/or declines to comment. Maybe, maybe he says something pithy like “All of those characters are already dead to me. I’m busy writing a 10,000 page poem about a molehill’s evolution over 20,000 years. But why doesn’t anyone working in comics have their own ideas, I wonder?” (Jason Aaron tells him to fuck himself again 4 months later, then goes back to architect-ing X-Men vs. The Hulk crossovers).
[comics] Ronald Searle was our greatest cartoonist – and he sent me his pens … Martin Rowson remembers Ronald Searle … ‘It is interesting to note how men of Searle’s generation – Spike Milligan being another notable example – translated the unimaginable trauma of the war into stuff like St Trinian’s or The Goon Show. And how distinctly unsettling it is to when you look at the drawings he produced in secret on the Burma Railway, and then see direct visual quotations of torture and beheadings in his later St Trinian’s cartoons. Even if most Britons will remember him as ‘the St Trinian’s cartoonist’, Searle was much more than that. Without him, it’s almost impossible to imagine cartoonists like Scarfe or Steadman or the subsequent generations inspired by them.’
[flight] Software bug fingered as cause of Aussie A330 plunge … ‘The problem was fixed by turning the unit off and then on again. It’s not clear what caused the ADIRU to shift into failure mode, as this is only the third time that it has happened in over 128 million hours of operation – although one of those other incidents was down to the same ADIRU in that aircraft. The investigators checked all the usual suspects, including the use of electronic equipment by passengers, but were unable to find a fault and suggested it may be down to a high-energy atmospheric particle striking one of the integrated circuits within the unit.’
[comics] Were Rorschach’s Speech Patterns Based On Herbie, the Fat Fury? … ‘When discussing Rorschach, [Alan Moore] shared that the tone of his diary was inspired by the letters Son Of Sam David Berkowitz sent to the news papers, and (confirming my own theory) that his speech patterns were based on Herbie the Fat Fury.’
[tech] Computers in space … a look at the supposedly antique technology used in space missions … ‘The ISS is packed with processors to keep its crew happy, or at least alive, but at the core of its operational hardware are the Command and Control Computers. They’re 80386SX-20s. But they’ve got 80387 co-processors! A couple even have hard drives!’
[press] An Express Year .. a fascinating look at the varieties of Daily Express headlines for a year … ‘Speaking of princesses, Diana remained dead: DIANA INQUEST SAMPLES SWITCHED (May 10), DIANA DEATH FILM COVER-UP (Jul 2), DIANA POLICE FACE ARREST (Jul 22), DIANA’S SECRET ENGAGEMENT (Aug 17), PRINCES BACK IN DIANA’S FLAT (Dec 18)’
[watchmen] Doomsday Clock moves one minute closer to midnight … ‘The Doomsday Clock, a symbolic gauge of nuclear danger, has moved one minute closer to midnight because of “inadequate progress” on nuclear and climate issues. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) announced the move – to five minutes before midnight – on Tuesday.’
[food] On the impracticality of a cheeseburger … ‘A cheeseburger cannot exist outside of a highly developed, post-agrarian society. It requires a complex interaction between a handful of vendors—in all likelihood, a couple of dozen—and the ability to ship ingredients vast distances while keeping them fresh. The cheeseburger couldn’t have existed until nearly a century ago as, indeed, it did not.’
ART is for weeds and sissies whose mater hav said Take care of my dear little Cedric, he is delicate you kno and cannot stand a foopball to the head. Whenever anebode mention Art they all sa gosh mikelangelo leenardo wot magnificent simetry of line. Shurely the very pinnackle of western civilisation etc.etc. Pass me my oils Molesworth that I may paint my masterpeece. The headmaster sa gosh cor is that the medeechi venus hem-hem a grate work so true to life reminds me of young mrs filips enuff said.
Molesworth sa on the contry the most beatiful form in art is a Ronald Searle GURL from St Trinian’s in a tunick with black suspenders and armed with a hockey stick to beat the daylites out of another gurl or maybe just a teacher chortle chortle.
[comics] Joe Colquhoun Interview From 1982 … fascinating interview with the artist of Charley’s War and apparently the only one he ever did. Spotted on the well-done Charley’s War website … ‘I’ve tried very hard to bring out the realism in the trenches and most of the sequences in the story are based on factual incidents. That might lead to a certain amount of authenticity which is possibly lacking in the more blood and thunder, action-packed World War 2 stories. Finally, and this is only my own opinion, it illustrates a period that was already dying then. When words like Honour, Duty, Patriotism meant something, I think most decent kids reading this epoch, will have a sneaking, almost atavistic feeling that in this present sick and rather selfish world, with violence and amorality seeming to pay dividends, they may think they’re missing out on something.’
I mean, do I believe all of the things that I tell people? In my heart, I can’t say that I do. But then, what about priests? You can’t tell me that all of them believe every last word of what they preach, but do they get called ‘ghouls in cardigans’ or ‘Vincent Price, but camp’? No. No, they don’t. That’s because people recognise all of the reassurance and the comfort that religion brings to people, and it doesn’t really matter if it’s true or not. Or doctors, it’s like doctors when they say that a placebo, that’s like, what, a sugar pill? That a placebo can work wonders without any side effects, but that they can’t prescribe them ’cause of all the medical red tape and ethics, health and safety, all that business. That’s me. I’m a spiritual sugar pill, but I do people good. I’m sorry, but I touch their lives.
[blogs] LUV & HAT On Tumblr:‘…it’s a blogging platform. But it’s not like BORING blogging platforms like WordPress (for squares) or Blogger (all right GRANDDAD). Tumblr gets us. It knows we’re social – that’s why it lets us follow people. And it knows we’re busy. We have eyeliner to apply. We have fingernails to paint individual colours. We have motherfucking badges to pin to our hoodies and skate shoes to painstakingly scuff and unlace. We don’t have time to sit down, log in, then use words to describe how alienated we feel or how niche we are. I mean seriously. Words. What is this, Vietnam?’
[funny] In Which I Fix My Girlfriend’s Grandparents’ WiFi and Am Hailed as a Conquering Hero … ‘The people did beseech the warrior to aid them. They were a simple people, capable only of rewarding him with gratitude and a larger-than-normal serving of Jell-O salad. The warrior considered the possible battles before him. While others may have shirked the duties, forcing the good people of Ferndale Street to prostrate themselves before the tyrants of Comcast, Linksys, and Geek Squad, the warrior could not chill his heart to these depths. He accepted the quest and strode bravely across the beige shag carpet of the living room…’
[comics] Chaykin’s Shadow is back…‘The Howard Chaykin issues were great, the Andy Helfer, Bill Sienkiewicz and Kyle Baker issues were magnificent. And to be honest, I’d rather given up hope of ever seeing them again.But maybe not – because after securing the rights to The Shadow in 2011, Dynamite Entertainment has finally announced they’ll be reprinting the Howard Chaykin 4 issue Shadow: Blood & Judgment series from 1986…’
[shining] The Top 5 Wacky Theories About ‘The Shining’ in New Frontiers Doc ‘Room 237′ … some perfectly reasonable theories about The Shining from a new documentary about Kubrick’s movie … ‘One of the more spectacular theories in the movie: That Kubrick was hired by the American government to fake the Apollo moon landing, and “The Shining” is his way of explaining himself. An interviewee says that owning “The Shining” on Blu-ray allows one to see enough detail to reach this conclusion. Jack Torrance’s constant bickering with his wife about his job responsibilities voice Kubrick’s own justification for why he had to comply with government orders.’
[blogs] Let’s Make A Sandwich … On Blogs as sandwiches … ‘Think about blogging — the way I do it — like I think about sandwiches. There’s a basic form, and a nearly inifinite number of expressions of that form. This particular blog is a mishmash of things that are interesting to me — and because it’s my sandwich, I avoid ingredients that I’m not fond of. Like pickles. There are no pickles on this blog.’
‘I went to the Illness drawer and scanned the divider labels: Asthma, Bowels. Cold virus, Colic, Consumption, Convulsions / Fits, Distemper, Dropsy, Faintings, Food Poisoning, Homesickness, Depressed, Kidney, Lips, Measles, Pleurisy, Pox, Prickly Heat, Scurvy, Seasick, Smallpox, Typhoid, Venereal.
Venereal was the thickest category. Eighty-seven notecards referencing 87 mentions in close to 87 logbooks – that’s one-third more than the Scurvy category and a magnitude thicker than the Homesickness category. I thumbed through Venereal and found, slid between endless Syphilis cards, an archaic Lady’s Fever, the whimsical Blue boar in groin, and the enigmatic doby itch. Of all the Illnesses, it appeared the stops on shore hit the whalemen the most, the damage done in the arms of a woman. One 19th-century writer calculated that during whaling season in the port of Lahaini, Hawaii, there were ”upwards of 400 instances of intercourse daily.”
Crammed between Depressed and Kidney, at only 10 notecards thick, was the file I was looking for: Injury by Whale.’
[books] Flick Books – Can you tell the movie from the book Cover? … a fun little quiz … ‘A movie adaptation is rarely the first time someone gets to give a visual representation of a book. It is usually the cover illustrator who gets the job to draw how he thinks the story should look. However, as soon as a book is turned into a movie, the illustrator’s work is usually thrown in the bin only to be quickly replaced by a “you’ve seen the movie… now read the book” approximation of the movie poster as a cover.’
[london] How Far Can You Walk From Trafalgar Square Without Crossing A Road? … Vic Keegan does some extreme walking … ‘A couple of years ago, as a test of the walkability of London, I set out from Trafalgar Square — the official centre of the town — one Sunday morning to see how far I could get without crossing a road or going over the same place twice. It was almost 17 miles before I ended up going round in a circle. I know of no other capital city where it is possible to do this…’
[comics] Dave Sim On Oscar Wilde:‘Why be prolific when one could be charming? Why produce when there’s so much to consume? I have to credit all the research that I did on Oscar Wilde for convincing me that I don’t want to be like that. If I can end my life with a large body of completed works and a reputation as a cantankerous old hermit I’ll consider my time well spent.’
“Shortly after I picked up the Watchmen assignment I called Alan in Northampton,” says Winninger. “He was unbelievably nice and excited about the project. During that first call he spent almost two hours telling me exactly what was about to happen in the next nine issues of the comic, down to the level of individual panels and page layouts.” Winninger adds, “I still remember him saying ‘Right, issue 12. We open with six pages of corpses.’ I spoke with him several times thereafter to bounce my ideas for the adventure off of him, to clarify details to get his approval on the manuscripts and such.” And, as Winninger points out, Dave Gibbons provided original cover art for the Mayfair “Watchmen” books and added new interior art as well.
[hackgate] Inside Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspaper clean-up operation … ‘On a typical day, say people who are familiar with the operations of the Management and Standards Committee (MSC), up to 100 personnel from several of London’s top law firms as well as forensic advisers and computer experts file into the MSC’s office through special security to search through more than 300 million emails, expense claims, phone records and other documents that amount to several terabytes of data. Their work is expected to take at least another 18 months. Reams of paperwork that cannot fit in the offices are stored in warehouses at another, secret location. In an unusual arrangement, 15 or 20 police are embedded with the team.’
Ten days or so past the official announcement, I’m thinking More Watchmen may be best understood as a blow to comics’ dignity. It’s product, not art. It’s a limited, small series of ideas derived from a bigger, grander one. It’s sad. One thing that Watchmen did a quarter century ago was to underline certain values of craft and intent and creative freedom that have helped to yield enough equivalent expressions — to my mind even grander expressions — that we may now see this follow-up project for what it is: nothing special.
[crime] Teddy Boys, Christmas Humphreys and the murder of John Beckley on Clapham Common in 1953 … fascinating true-crime story from London in the 1950′s … ‘It was during the reporting of this trial when the press, for the first time, started to make a connection between the odd-looking clothes of the South Londoners and casual violence. The Evening Standard called Ronald Coleman ‘the leader of the Edwardians… a teenage gang of hooligans’ who wore ‘eccentric suits’. In fact Coleman in his statement to the police proudly described how he was dressed on the night of the murder. Stating that he wore ‘a very dark grey suit, single breasted with three buttons… after the style of what is called Edwardian.’ A Daily Mirror headline during the trial simply said ‘Flick Knives, Dance Music and Edwardian Suits’. It was the Daily Express on September 23rd 1953 who took the word ‘Edwardian’ and shortened it to Teddy and so the Teddy Boy was born.’
It’s hard to cheer when a newspaper closes. Even one you’re slightly scared of, like the Daily Mail. Even though the Mail isn’t technically a newspaper, more a serialised Necronomicon. In fact it’s not even printed, but scorched on to parchment by a whispering cacodemon. The Mail can never close. It can only choose to vacate our realm and return to the dominion in which it was forged; a place somewhere between shadow and dusk, beyond time and space, at the dark, howling apex of infinity. London W8 5TT.
Yet despite being a malevolent ink-and-paper succubus that will devour your firstborn – seriously, chuck a baby at a copy of the Mail, and watch as the paper roll its eyes back and swallows it whole – the Mail deserves its voice. At the Leveson inquiry, when seething Daily Mail orchestrator Paul Dacre was quizzed about Jan Moir’s notorious column on the death of Stephen Gateley, he acknowledged that she’d possibly gone too far, but added that he “would die in a ditch” to defend a columnist’s freedom of speech. Whatever you think of Dacre, that’s a brave and noble thing to say, although disappointingly he failed to indicate precisely when he was planning on doing it.
[curtis] Interview With Adam Curtis (Part 1):‘…my working theory is that we live in a managerial age, which doesn’t want to look to the future. It just wants to manage the present. A lot of art has become a way of looking back at the last sixty years of the modernist project, which we feel has failed. It’s almost like a lost world, and we are cataloging it, quoting it, reconfiguring it, filing it away into sliding drawers as though we were bureaucrats with no idea what any of it means. They’ve got nothing to say about it except that they know it didn’t work. It’s not moving onwards—we’re just like academic archaeologists. It’s terribly, terribly conservative and static, but maybe that’s not a bad thing. Maybe in a reactionary, conservative age, that’s what art finds itself doing. The problem is that it pretends to be experimental and forward-looking. But to be honest, in some ways I’m just as guilty. What I do is not so different—using all sorts of fragments from the past to examine the present. Maybe this is simply the iron cage of our time—we’re like archaeologists going back into the recent past, continually refiguring it, surrounding it with quotations. It’s a terrible, terrible prison, but we don’t know how to break out of it.’
James’s fondness for cheese is believed to be a matter of which no one in this earthly sphere is unaware. For a time, it was assumed that there were some remote peoples still untouched by his rennet-based droning, but in that recent aerial footage of the uncontacted Amazon society, the tribe was seen to have arranged a collection of bones and earthenware shards into the words: “PLEASE STOP ALEX JAMES GOING ON ABOUT BLOODY CHEESE.”
[war] Never Surrender: The Lonely War Of Hiroo Onoda … the story of the last WW2 Japanese soldier to surrender… in 1974! ‘Onoda was officially relived from military duties and told to hand over his rifle, ammunition and hand grenades. He was both stunned and horrified.
‘We really lost the war!’ were his first words. ‘How could they [the Japanese army] have been so sloppy?” [via YMFY]
[dailyfail] The Insider: The Secrets Behind The Mail Online’s Soaraway Success … how the Daily Mail does SEO to drive traffic … ‘The SEO team receive stories from journalists and then change the headlines and add some key words before launching them on the site. It’s like a sub-editing job using SEO, a machine churning through the content. The journalists and sub-editors continue to do the job they would be doing while the SEO team’s brief is to drive traffic. Bosses at the Mail look at the traffic that is coming in on almost an hourly basis. One of the reasons why [a former SEO figure at the Mail] left was because he couldn’t handle it. If the Mail Online was having a bad day for traffic, he’d be pulled into the office and would be torn a new one.’
[comics] Here’s One Way To Spend Drug Money: 18,753 Comic Books … ‘An associate told detectives that Castro’s comic collecting also seemed to have turned into a kind of mania, and he “began to struggle with money because he would spend his drug money on comic books,” court papers said. Castro pleaded guilty last year to multiple felony charges and was sentenced to 45 years in prison, the Post reported. As for all those comics? Federal authorities seized them, along with Castro’s Audi A8, Mercedes S500 and Lexus GS300.’
[tv] Pass notes No 3,135: Titanoraks … Passnotes on Julian Fellows’ Downton-on-Sea Titanic … ‘Do say: “Familiarise yourself with the safety procedures whenever you board a metaphor and use your butler as a lifeboat in the event of an emergency.”‘
[comics] Alan Moore: The Biography … full length biography of Moore from Lance Parkin is due late next year … ‘This is going to be, I hope, the definitive literary biography that explores the life and career of Alan Moore and goes a little wider than either my previous book or Storyteller, placing Moore in the context of the British and American comics industry, as well as the underground, occult and countercultural scenes.’
[funny] Buying This Thing Will Make Me Happy … ‘It’s really cool. They just started making it and not many people have one yet. It does all sorts of stuff and can fit in my pocket, but it can also get bigger than that if I want it to. Plus it’s made by a company I trust to put out things that will make me happy.’
[terrorism] The Dubai Job … a fascinating look at a semi-botched assassination of a high-ranking Hamas leader by Mossad…
‘The rest of the investigation that Tamim conducted, however, was meticulous and efficient in a way that no one, least of all the Mossad, had expected. A source close to the investigation said that the moment Tamim concluded that Al-Mabhouh had not died of natural causes, he ordered his people to search Dubai’s extensive databases and identify everyone who had arrived in the emirate shortly before the killing and left soon after. This list was then cross-referenced against the names of visitors who had been in Dubai back in February, March, June, and November of 2009, all the times of Al-Mabhouh’s previous visits. The short list that emerged was then checked against hotel registers, and footage from hotel security cameras at the times these individuals checked in made it possible to put a face to each name. Tamim then compared these visual identifications to the footage from the Al Bustan Hotel at the time of Al-Mabhouh’s death, which gave him the names of the assassins. And searching databases of financial transactions gave him the identities of the rest of the team, all of which Dubai authorities posted online for the world to see.’
[tv] Why TV Is Broken … interesting anecdote about how children who use on-demand media perceive broadcast television … ‘When the commercials are over, it is some live action teen show. She is not impressed. “Can I choose?”, Beatrix asks. She’s still confused. She thinks this is like home where one can choose from a selection of things to watch. A well organized list of suggestions and options with clear box cover shots of all of her favorites. I have to explain again that it does not work that way on television. That we have to watch whatever is on and, if there is nothing you want to watch that is on then you just have to turn it off. Which we do.’
[comics] Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlane: The Story So Far (March 1993 – March 2012) … Pádraig Ó Méalóid tells the story of the long and convoluted legal battle between Gaiman and McFarlane over Spawn and Marvelman … ‘Although Gaiman and McFarlane’s first meeting in court was on the 1st of October, 2002, nearly ten years ago now, the cause of their dispute goes back nearly ten years before that, with roots set in place some years before that, again. So, in an attempt to put it all into some sort of context, I’m listing what I see as the main points of their dispute, in chronological order, as exactly as I can, along with some earlier events, to put it all into context.’
[life] Kevin Kelly – We Are Stardust:‘Where did we come from? I find the explanation that we were made in stars to be deep, elegant, and beautiful. This explanation says that every atom in each of our bodies was built up out of smaller particles produced in the furnaces of long-gone stars. We are the byproducts of nuclear fusion. The intense pressures and temperatures of these giant stoves thickened collapsing clouds of tiny elemental bits into heavier bits, which once fused, were blown out into space as the furnace died. The heaviest atoms in our bones may have required more than one cycle in the star furnaces to fatten up. Uncountable numbers of built-up atoms congealed into a planet, and a strange disequilibrium called life swept up a subset of those atoms into our mortal shells. We are all collected stardust. And by a most elegant and remarkable transformation, our starstuff is capable of looking into the night sky to perceive other stars shining. They seem remote and distant, but we are really very close to them no matter how many lightyears away. All that we see of each other was born in a star. How beautiful is that?’
[facebook] Resume, references, password: Job seekers get asked in interviews to provide Facebook logins … ‘[Justin] Bassett, a New York City statistician, had just finished answering a few character questions when the interviewer turned to her computer to search for his Facebook page. But she couldn’t see his private profile. She turned back and asked him to hand over his login information. Bassett refused and withdrew his application, saying he didn’t want to work for a company that would seek such personal information. But as the job market steadily improves, other job candidates are confronting the same question from prospective employers, and some of them cannot afford to say no.’
[press] Dail Mail Ethics Memorandum circa 1966 … A different time, a different Daily Mail … ‘No member of the staff intrudes or is called to intrude into private lives where no public interest is involved.’
[books] H. P. Lovecraft: The man who haunted horror fans … BBC News On H. P. Lovecraft … ‘The Call of Cthulhu is the most famous tale of his invented mythos, which is itself a stage in Lovecraft’s attempts to create a perfect form for his preoccupations and for the weird tale. The mythos was also meant to counteract the over-explanation and lack of imaginative suggestiveness he found in conventional occult fiction. The following year Lovecraft wrote The Colour out of Space, which he later regarded as his best work. It tells the story of a strange meteorite that blights a farming community. “It was just a colour out of space”, but it is Lovecraft’s purest symbol, the strongest expression of his sense that the universe, and anything living out there in the dark of space or time, is indifferent to man.’
[comics] Crumb On Others Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 … Robert Crumb On “Famous And Infamous” people. Crumb Meets Jim Morrison: ‘I forget what the exact circumstances were, but he brought Jim Morrison over to my house one day. I think I was still living with Dana at the time, but I don’t remember if she was there. S. Clay Wilson was there. But Morrison, he seemed really over the hill by then. It wasn’t too long before he died. He just seemed like a kind of puffy-looking, overweight guy who was burned-out from too many drugs. He just sat in the corner kind of mumbling. [laughs] He was wearing this greasy, suede jacket with that fringe hanging off the sleeves. He had greasy, long hair. He did not look like the adonis that you saw in the photos a couple years before. But you know, that kind of worship that he received, when you’re young, it’s really hard to survive intact. He probably took too many drugs, but I don’t know. I don’t know what his problem was. He didn’t seem brilliant or anything to me. He didn’t have any insight or anything interesting to say. He just seemed like the typical hippie you would see on Haight Street at that time, mumbling about the drugs and shit…’
[comics] Ware’s World: Inside The Home Of Cartoonist Chris Ware … pictures of the delightful home of one of the world’s most talented cartoonists! ‘As an unabashed admirer of Mr. Ware’s work, I’ve read many an interview with him, and I’ve seen photos of his historic home previous, but I wasn’t prepared by how amazing it would be. Ware’s collection lives throughout the warm and tastefully decorated home. Atop mantlepieces sit his handmade mechanical wonders like his Acme Book Dispenser, his Quimbies The Mouse and Sparky The Singing Cat sculptures. Behind glass doors live Gasoline Alley and Peanuts merchandise, Krazy Kat dolls, Buck Rogers rockets, and many other items of amazement from bygone eras.’
[dailyfail] How the Daily Mail Conquered England … The New Yorker Profiles The Daily Mail … ‘The Mail has an oral quality, prompting the exclamations of wonder or disgust that attend what the media critic Roy Greenslade has called “Hey, Doris!” stories. Its quirks include a love of aviation, and the annoying habit of inserting real-estate prices into stories that have nothing to do with them, such as the death in a ski-resort accident of a boy whose parents “live in a £1 million house.” Its columnists range from sensible to unhinged. (One, Liz Jones, recently wrote about stealing her husband’s sperm in an attempt to have a child without his permission, earning her the nickname Jizz Loans.)’
[food] The 10 Most Disgusting Foods in the World … some of these have to be seen to be believed… Enjoy! … ‘Balut is a fairly common and unassuming street food available in both the Philipines and Vietnam. It has also earned a widespread reputation as one of the all-time grossest ethnic delicacies. Most of the eggs with which Americans are familiar are unfertilized eggs. The balut, though are fertilized duck eggs, incubated or allowed to grow invitro for a certain length of time, usually a few weeks. Peel back the shell and along with a typical soft-boiled eggy interior is also the small inert body of a fetal duck—small bones, feathers, beak and all, some more developed than others. Most accounts suggest slurping it right from the shell with a pinch of salt.’
[gambling] The Man Who Broke Atlantic City … a great longread for the weekend – the true story of a man who took on the casinos and won by playing their games/systems better than they do …
Largely as a result of Johnson’s streak, the Trop’s table-game revenues for April 2011 were the second-lowest among the 11 casinos in Atlantic City. Mark Giannantonio, the president and CEO of the Trop, who had authorized the $100,000-a-hand limit for Johnson, was given the boot weeks later. Johnson’s winnings had administered a similar jolt to the Borgata and to Caesars. All of these gambling houses were already hurting, what with the spread of legalized gambling in surrounding states. By April, combined monthly gaming revenue had been declining on a year-over-year basis for 32 months.
For most people, though, the newspaper headline told a happy story. An ordinary guy in a red cap and black hoodie had struck it rich, had beaten the casinos black-and-blue. It seemed a fantasy come true, the very dream that draws suckers to the gaming tables.
[ipad] What’s On Warren Ellis’ iPad? … ‘Managing information is a big part of my job. So the topslice is: Twitterific, for Twitter. Flipboard. Reeder, for reading Google Reader (which is wired into Pinboard for saving links and Instapaper for reserving long articles for later). BBC news app. Guardian for iPad in Newsstand. Foreign Policy for iPad. The Economist in Newsstand. These are all daily, sometimes hourly checkpoints for me. Can’t do without them.’
[london] Shit London … ‘These are photographs of the unintentional human comedy that surround us in the city. It’s the flotsam and jetsam of city life , the overlooked minutiae , the tragic , the grotesque and the basest of base. It’s the adapted posters , the dirty joke on the back of a van , the mispelt signs , the glory hole in the public loo , that weird shop down the end of your road and the knob graffiti strategically placed for maximum effect.’
[simpsons] Matt Groening Reveals The Location Of Springfield … ‘Springfield was named after Springfield, Oregon. The only reason is that when I was a kid, the TV show “Father Knows Best” took place in the town of Springfield, and I was thrilled because I imagined that it was the town next to Portland, my hometown. When I grew up, I realized it was just a fictitious name. I also figured out that Springfield was one of the most common names for a city in the U.S. In anticipation of the success of the show, I thought, “This will be cool; everyone will think it’s their Springfield.” And they do.’
Despite his success, he says he retains a pessimistic outlook. “Whenever something good happens to me, it’s usually followed by something terrible,” he told the Writers Guild of America recently, when accepting its Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for “outstanding contributions to the profession of the television writer”. “This [award] has got disaster and doom written all over it. I mean, it’s a great honour but it’s not worth getting hit by a bus.”
[go look] Weapon of Mass Instruction, An Art Car Tank That Gives Out Books … ‘Argentina-based Raul Lemesoff created the Arma De Instruccion Masiva (Weapon of Mass Instruction), a converted 1979 Ford Falcon formerly belonging to the Argentine armed forces, to distribute free books to people on the streets of Buenos Aires.’
Roy Hobbs, an engineer with Shell, said: “By my calculations the Shadow Lord Cthulhu currently rests nine leagues deeper than the shale gas so I’m sure it’ll be fine.
“Nevertheless, we have some of the best hooded, eyeless priests in the industry who will be on call 24 hours a day to maintain the sanctity of the work site through a series of incantations and holy artefacts, as well as checking for hard hats and security passes.”
[funny] The Only Thing That Can Stop This Asteroid is Your Liberal Arts Degree … ‘Anyone can learn how to land a spacecraft on a rocky asteroid flying through space at twelve miles per second. I don’t need some pencilneck with four Ph.D’s, one-thousand hours of simulator time, and the ability to operate a robot crane in low-Earth orbit. I need someone with four years of broad-but-humanities-focused studies, three subsequent years in temp jobs, and the ability to reason across multiple areas of study. I need someone who can read The Bell Jar and make strong observations about its representations of mental health and the repression of women. Sure, you’ve never even flown a plane before, but with only ten days until the asteroid hits, there’s no one better to nuke an asteroid.’
[history] Supercalicontentious … fascinating look at the history of the nonsense word Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious … ‘When New York District Court judge Wilfred Feinberg issued his ruling, he threw up his hands at the thicket of spelling variations: “All variants of this tongue twister will hereinafter be referred to collectively as ‘the word,’ he wrote. “The word” had been used since the 1930s, according to sworn affidavits from two people who had grown up in New York. That, along with musical differences between the two songs, was enough for the case to be thrown out Shortly after Feinberg made his ruling, a Disney librarian uncovered a smoking gun: a use of the word, spelled “supercaliflawjalisticexpialadoshus,” in the March 10, 1931 issue of the Daily Orange…’
[movies] Alien: A Film Franchise Based Entirely on Rape … some horror movie analysis from Cracked.com … ‘Admittedly the guys in the audience get off a little easy — gestation of a normal human takes 9 months and involves a lot of bloating, puking, and hormonal surges that generally make women miserable. But Kane’s man pregnancy results in a sore throat and the need to eat spaghetti. Note the “sore throat” comes as a result of an alien wang having been forced down his throat, which he fortunately does not remember. The birth, on the other hand, is another story…’
[life] A Timeline of the far future … 7.9 billion years from now: ‘The Sun reaches the tip of the red giant branch, achieving its maximum radius of 256 times the present day value. In the process, Mercury, Venus and possibly Earth are destroyed. During these times, it is possible that Saturn’s moon Titan could achieve surface temperatures necessary to support life.’
[japan] Tetrapod beaches of Japan … I’d never heard of Tetrapods – and this article includes some evocative photos of them on the Japanese shore … ‘Hit the beach anywhere in Japan, and you are likely to see endless piles of tetrapods — enormous four-legged concrete structures intended to prevent coastal erosion. By some estimates, more than 50% of Japan’s 35,000-kilometer (22,000-mi) coastline has been altered with tetrapods and other forms of concrete.’ [via As Above]
[comics] Before Watchmen, Nineteen Eighties Style … Bleeding Cool covers DC Comics first (failed) attempt at Watchmen II … ‘[A well placed DC source] confirms another anonymous ex-DC source that it was planned for Andy Helfer to write The Comedian and Michael Fleisher would be offered Rorschach.’
[life] Alfred Hitchcock On Happiness … ‘A clear horizon — nothing to worry about on your plate, only things that are creative and not destructive… I can’t bear quarreling, I can’t bear feelings between people — I think hatred is wasted energy, and it’s all non-productive. I’m very sensitive — a sharp word, said by a person, say, who has a temper, if they’re close for me, haunts me for days. I know we’re only human, we do go in for these various emotions, call them negative emotions, but when all these are removed and you can look forward and the road is clear ahead, and now you’re going to create something — I think that’s as happy as I’ll ever want to be.’
The timing of everything as it happened was key to why the papers did not immediately find out who I was. The old blog started in 2003, when most press still had to explain to their audience what a blog actually was. It took a while for people to notice the writing, so the mistakes I made early on (blogging from home and work, using Hotmail) had long been corrected by the time the press became interested.
Today, no writer who aims to stay anonymous should ever assume a grace period like that. It also helped that once the press did become interested, they were so convinced not only that Belle was not really a hooker but also that she was one of their own – a previously published author or even journalist – that they never looked in the right place. If they’d just gone to a London blogmeet and asked a few questions about who had pissed off a lot of people and was fairly promiscuous, they’d have had a plausible shortlist in minutes.
[shining] This is Uncanny: Number-play in Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’ … ‘If one needs further proof of Kubrick’s fascination with number play, the title page of his copy of Stephen King’s novel of The Shining is filled with Kubrick’s own handwriting as he works out creative ways to use the number 217. Room 217 was the number of the dead woman’s room in the novel, which Kubrick changed at the request of the Timberline Hotel management. His selection of 237 was not without forethought.’
[history] Easter island heads have bodies!?? … I never realised the heads on Easter Island had bodies – this blog has some great photos … ‘ It’s generally accepted that the statues were made sometime between 1250 and 1500 AD. There is controversy surrounding why the bodies are buried. Was it time and erosion, or were they buried on purpose? Aliens? The soil surrounding the bodies for so long has preserved interesting carvings…’
[comics] Nick Abadzis Interviewed by Tom Spurgeon … long, readable interview with Nick Abadzis the writer/artist of Hugo Tate and Laika … ‘There’s too much crappy work out there to bother wasting time with, and a lot of good stuff that I do want to read, so it becomes a sort of exercise of the instincts, sniffing out the superior work or the stuff with a higher likelihood to engage. There is a lot of incredible talent working today and I do believe we are in a golden age of comics in some ways. It’s such a pleasure to come across the work of a cartoonist I haven’t encountered before and see with new eyes, their eyes. I get excited about that.’
[life] The Overthinking Person’s Drinking Game … ‘If you spend a long time mulling the nature of ‘deserving’ and what it actually means, and if you can’t really resolve the question of whether anyone specifically ‘deserves’ anything and come to an impasse about chaos and the innate unfairness of life, drink.’ [via Metafilter]
[movies] The Fake Magazines Used in Blade Runner Are Still Futuristic, Awesome … the story behind the fictional magazine covers used in the background of Blade Runner which have been discovered recently by the Internet … ‘These covers are bouncing around the Internet right now (at Gawker’s io9, etc) and now it may be that they are fakes, but not in a bad way. The idea that some guy out there saw the movie and painstakingly recreated them with the vintage clipart that the original designer used is mindblowing!’
[space] Methone, an egg in Saturn orbit? … fascinating blog entry with pictures about a recently discovered moon of Saturn … ‘Methone is really shockingly round. Some of the other small moons that orbit near the rings have a smoothed appearance, but they all still have some craters or some topography. The smoothness probably results from these things collecting dust, a substance that there is a lot of in this part of the Saturn system, but it’s kind of hard to understand what could make the dust slide around to fill every topographic low on this little world, covering it with what’s essentially a global ocean of very puffy dust. I think the roundness tells us that whatever Methone is made of, that material behaves like a liquid — it has no strength to hold any shape whatsoever.’
[politics] Oh Happy Days: A Personal Recollection Of Working For Jeremy Hunt … ‘I distinctly recall one presentation after a period of company expansion. All of us, old stagers and new recruits, were gathered together in front of a Powerpoint screen. On it were projected smiling photographs of various members of staff, the heads of sales, IT and so on. The company had recently outsourced much of the data entry work to a centre in India. Jeremy Hunt, smiling away in that peculiarly insincere, head-bobbing way that you’ve all seen on the news, was leading. We gasped in horror as our “new colleagues in India” were introduced: there glowed a slide that featured row after row of the same cartoon clip art Generic Brown Person, sat behind a computer.’
[space] All the Water on Europa vs. All the Water On Earth … ‘The subsurface ocean plus ice layer could range from 80 to 170 kilometers in average depth. Adopting an estimate of 100 kilometers depth, if all the water on Europa were gathered into a ball it would have a radius of 877 kilometers.’
[comics] Posy Simmonds Profile … by Paul Gravett … ‘Posy is simply one the world’s most sophisticated contemporary authors expanding the scope and subtlety of the graphic novel. Based in London, Posy has become renowned since the early Seventies, not only as a brilliant strip cartoonist for the national press, but also as a much-loved author and illustrator of children’s books.’
[comics] A Portal to Another Dimension: Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, and Neil Gaiman … the Watchmen Panel at UKCAC ’86 – moderated by Neil Gaiman … ‘I think that because there’ve been a lot of fascist overtones in Marvelman [Miracleman] people assumed that the superheroes had taken over. There aren’t really any fascist superheroes in Watchmen. Rorschach’s not a fascist; he’s a nutcase. The Comedian’s not a fascist’ he’s a psychopath. Dr. Manhattan’s not a fascist; he’s a space cadet. They’re not fascists. They’re not in control of their world. Dr. Manhattan’s not even in control of the world — he doesn’t care about the world.’
[blogs] Jim Davidson’s Official Blog … ‘I have put on some replies to my blog on the Jubilee. It would seem that I am once again a racist. I am not. Why do people get so upset? was it because I didn’t like Grace Jones or because I described her as a black woman dressed as bat girl. Well I’am sorry if that caused offence. I really am, but come on, get a life.’