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December 26, 2015
[comics] Raymond Briggs: ‘Don’t call me the king of Christmas. I don’t like children, I try to avoid them’ … cartoonist Raymond Briggs on Christmas… Indeed, Briggs argues, far from being an advocate for Christmas, he hates the event. “I don’t like the Christmas thing at all. It’s so full of anxiety – have I got enough stuff? Where am I going to go? What should I get for presents? I just give cheques these days because I can’t buy things for teenagers. It’s a bit impersonal but what can you do?” Briggs has watched the new Fungus on a friend’s laptop – “I’m too old and too tired to trek up to first nights [screening], much as I would have liked to go” – and says it “seemed perfectly OK; they always do these things very well”. This is high praise considering he still finds the adaptation of The Snowman “corny” despite conceding that “film-making is a very different form from books and you have to make something commercially viable so putting Father Christmas in as [producer] John Coates suggested was right, even though I hated it at the time.” There’s a rather gloomy pause before he adds Eeyorishly: “Of course, he’s dead now, like everybody else.”
December 25, 2015
[comics] “Never Kill A Santa Claus” By Nick Cardy [via Forbidden Planet’s Blog] …

Never Kill A Santa Claus

December 24, 2015
[xmas] All You Need To Know About Brussels Sprouts‘34% of family arguments start by someone being honest about their hatred of sprouts.’
December 23, 2015
[xmas] The Evolution of Christmas … Diamond Geezer on the way Christmas has changed in the UK …

mid 1990s Xmas: Demand to see the Double Issue Radio Times

mid 2000s Xmas: Demand to use your parents’ PC to check your email

mid 2010s Xmas: Demand your host’s wifi password the minute you enter their home

December 22, 2015
[religion] The Scientology Christmas Catalog Is Totally Insane … a look inside The Scientology Christmas Catalog. The Hubbard Professional Mark Ultra VIII™ E-Meter (Price: $5,000) – ‘Please note that the Mark Ultra VIII comes with free electrodes! “Our gift to you,” the copy says. Why, you’d practically be losing money if you didn’t buy the thing now. These electrodes look like anal-probing suppositories, but you actually hold them in your hand while the church’s local hired goon audits you. I assume the fancier e-meters come with free nipple clamps.’
December 21, 2015
[hell] £26 charge to pick up fallen pensioners ‘is proof mankind now living in hell’‘Tendring local council in Essex have decided to charge pensioners who are already paying for care an extra £26 if they fall over, and this is the clearest sign anyone could want that humans are now living a miserable cursed existence in the pits of hades. A spokesperson for Tendring council confirmed that this was indeed the case, saying: “We have a responsibility to balance funding for all non-essential projects, and exist only to serve our Lord Satan, the great evil master.” Most people were of the opinion that the Hell thing was no excuse for Tendring council’s behaviour.’
December 18, 2015
[books] Tell me about your favorite nonfiction ‘mysteries’! … Some of Ask Metafilter’s favourite non-fiction mystery books … ‘Nonfiction books I’ve read that scratch the “mystery” itch include The Cuckoo’s Egg (computer programmer tracking down a hacker), All the President’s Men (needs no introduction), and Black Mass (Boston reporters on the trail of Whitey Bulger). I’m looking for more like these — well-written, smartly paced accounts of intrepid investigators getting to the bottom of some convoluted problem…’
December 17, 2015
[headlines] Evening Standard Billboard Flashback: December 2005 …

Evening Standard Billboards: December 2005

December 16, 2015
[politics] Is Donald Trump Actually a Narcissist? Therapists Weigh In!‘For mental-health professionals, Donald Trump is at once easily diagnosed but slightly confounding. “Remarkably narcissistic,” said developmental psychologist Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education. “Textbook narcissistic personality disorder,” echoed clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis. “He’s so classic that I’m archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there’s no better example of his characteristics,” said clinical psychologist George Simon, who conducts lectures and seminars on manipulative behavior. “Otherwise, I would have had to hire actors and write vignettes. He’s like a dream come true.”’
December 15, 2015
[whatif] The Ethics of Killing Baby Hitler … the reasons why a time-traveller shouldn’t kill Baby Hitler …

These questions should inspire two feelings. The first is humility. We can never know what a universe without Hitler would have looked like. But the implicit argument that his removal would improve history must also consider that his removal could make it worse. Indeed, recent experience should make us doubt our abilities to bend the course of human events towards our will. The Bush administration naively claimed that toppling Saddam Hussein in 2003 would produce a vibrant liberal democracy in the largely illiberal Middle East. Instead it brought about regional instability, ethnic cleansing, civil war, and ISIS.

The second is relief. We live in cynical times, which masks the fact that we live in extraordinary times. Atrocities still occur, but human rights are now a normative value throughout most of the world, even if their enforcement is imperfect. Conflicts are still fought, but the great powers have avoided another world war for seven decades. Racism and anti-Semitism still exist, but pre-war forms of colonialism and pogroms have largely disappeared. This is not the future for which Nazi Germany fought and fell. Removing Hitler from history would gamble with one irrefutable truth: He lost.

December 14, 2015
[space] American satellite started transmitting 46 years after being abandoned in 1967 … the remarkable story of a derelict satellite that’s starting operating again … ‘Phil Williams G3YPQ from near Bude noticed its peculiar signal drift caused by its tumbling end over end every 4 seconds as the solar panels become shadowed by the engine. ‘This gives the signal a particularly ghostly sound as the voltage from the solar panels fluctuates’ Phil says. It is likely that the on board batteries have now disintegrated and some other component failure has caused the transmitter on 237Mhz, to start up when its in sunlight.’
December 11, 2015
[xmas] Office staff terrified after dyslexic co-worker organises Secret Satan‘Workers have described how their festive decorations this year have included lights which flicker disconcertingly and a CD which is either Cliff Richard’s Greatest Christmas Hits or the tormented squealing of a thousand damned pigs, it’s difficult to be sure.’
December 10, 2015
[comics] How we made 2000 AD … Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill on creating 2000AD … Kevin O’Neill: ‘That anti-authoritarian streak is part of the British character: it ran through Dennis the Menace and all the Beano stuff. Judge Dredd was never meant to be serious: the idea of shooting jaywalkers is just very, very funny. I loved the story about the oxygen board on the moon cutting off people’s supply if they didn’t pay their bills. We had to tone things down quite heavily. On the day the first issue went to press, we were whiting out blood and tidying up severed limbs. It was an out-of-control section of the building. NME, who were often in trouble as well, were just a couple of floors above. Our neighbours Buster hated us because we were having fun and swearing. I didn’t think 2000 AD would last a year.’
December 9, 2015
[comics] Ian Rankin’s Favourite Comics‘Elektra Assassin – Miller again but this time with jaw-dropping art by Bill Sienkiwicz. Even when the story seemed to make no sense to me, I could just stare at those pages, bathing in their use of colour, the psychedelia of it all. Great comics stimulate the eye and engage the brain. That’s why I love them.’
December 8, 2015
[comics] Bob Hope and the Golden Rule … When Bob Hope teached religious ethics in the back of comics … ‘Get Wise, Son, and join the Human Race!’

Bob Hope and the Golden Rule

December 7, 2015
[xmas] Here Are All the Things You’re Going to Have to Do In December … Vice on the Festive Season… ‘Mulled wine that you make at home with a decent bottle of red and an orange studded with cloves and sugar and spices gently crumbled and tied in muslin bags and warmed gently on the stove for hours until the kitchen smells like Christmas and then you take a special mug (you bought special mugs) and decant a cup and lift it to your lips and: oh, it’s just hot wine. You’ve made hot wine. Two hours, that took. Hot wine.’
December 4, 2015
[law] One lawyer’s crusade to defend extreme pornography … fascinating profile of Myles Jackman‘Jackman fervently believes he has to lead a crusade against what he sees as the unjust obscenity laws and that he absolutely must succeed – or else fail himself, his allies and the wider cause of civilisation as he sees it. He maintains that pornography is a class issue, a gender issue, a philosophical issue, a freedom issue, an everything issue. (One of his many dicta: “Pornography is the canary in the coal mine of free speech.”) And his campaign is against both state and statutes alike. By day, beneath the dark lawyerly suits that strain to contain him, he likes to wear Batman socks; by night, he wears Batman T-shirts. In the last six years or so, he has transformed himself from being just another lawyer into the Batman of obscenity.’
December 3, 2015
[guardian] 22 Times We Reached Peak Guardian In 2015‘Do you have to be middle-class to like rocket? (I think it’s horrible)’ [link]
December 2, 2015
[london] Sexy Fish: not so much a restaurant as a museum of London’s rich … amusing review from Tanya Gold of a new fish restaurant for the super-rich in London … ‘It is huge — a former NatWest — and decorated with a glittering Frank Gehry crocodile, a Damien Hirst mermaid — how did Hirst ever pass for revolutionary? — and Iran. (Apologies. I misread the PR babble. The floor is from Iran.) The golden ceiling — which I read about in the London Evening Standard, because ceilings can be news, if they are ‘it’ ceilings — is apparently by the style-editor-at-large of Vanity Fair, which I thought was a made-up job but apparently is not. In the basement private room there is a fish tank, where the ‘sexy’ fish — brightly coloured, minute and somehow heartbreaking — swim like tiny fishy slaves. I have never seen a restaurant whose ethos is so clearly and comprehensively, so preeningly and unapologetically: ‘Fuck you, I’m rich and I want a golden cave and servants. I want a pony and all the hookers I can strangle. I want a pyramid of cocaine and an Audi -Quattro.’ It is like being punched in the face by Abu Dhabi.’
December 1, 2015
[religion] Religious Symbolism in E.T. … a look at the similarities between E.T. and Jesus … ‘Occasionally incongruous pieces of religious symbolism are sprinkled throughout the film. The children’s mother is called Mary, a fact emphasised by her children calling her by her first name throughout the movie. Elliot promises to believe in E.T. his whole life—implying, curiously, that the event would later become a matter of faith. The iconography is also Biblical — a rainbow in the sky, E.T.’s glowing heart, and the famous image of the boy’s and alien’s fingers touching—suspiciously reminiscent of Michaelangelo’s Creation of Adam.’
November 30, 2015
[headlines] Evening Standard Billboard Flashback: November 2005 …

Evening Standard Headlines - November 2005

November 29, 2015
[war] Behind the Design of the Doomsday Clock … the story behind one of the most memorable information designs of the last century … ‘Langsdorf and his fellow scientists began circulating a mimeographed newsletter called the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. In June 1947, the newsletter became a magazine. Langsdorf’s wife, Martyl, was an artist whose landscapes were exhibited in Chicago galleries. She volunteered to create the first cover. There wasn’t much room for an illustration, and the budget permitted only two colors. But she found a solution. The Doomsday Clock was born.’
November 28, 2015
[isis] 7 Things I Learned Reading Every Issue Of ISIS’s Magazine‘Dabiq is an area in Northern Syria where, according to prophecy, Allah will do the whole “pillar of salt” thing on the armies of the West. For that to happen, we need to actually put our armies in Dabiq first. One thing reading 11 issues of Dabiq makes very clear is that ISIS considers a future U.S.-led invasion to be inevitable. They view the regional powers around them as destined to fall and, when that happens, in rides Uncle Sam and out pops the apocalypse.’
November 27, 2015
[black friday] “It’s Bla…”

Batman Slapping Robin - "It's Black Fri..."

November 25, 2015
[tv] Too Weird for Prime Time … Salon looks at what killed Twin Peaks … ‘The dominant media narrative—even in the above SNL skit, in which Kyle MacLachlan, in character as Cooper, bullheadedly ignores plain-as-day evidence about the killer—was that Twin Peaks was toying with viewers. For the network and a sizable portion of the TV audience, at a time when most shows tied up loose ends and reverted to the status quo in time for the late news, the idea that the creators of Twin Peaks might be making it up as they went along was cause for alarm. “It had better be able to satisfy the whodunit desires of viewers weaned on Columbo and Perry Mason,” the Chicago Tribune cautioned before the Twin Peaks pilot had even aired.’
November 24, 2015
[life] Our Dust, Ourselves … The story your house dust tells about you … ‘The sex of a home’s human occupants also played a role in shaping the indoor ecosystem. Lactobacillus bacteria, which are a major component of the vaginal microbiome, were most abundant in homes in which women outnumbered men. When men were in the majority, however, different bacteria thrived: Roseburia, which normally lives in the gut, and Corynebacterium and Dermabacter, which both inhabit the skin. Corynebacterium is known to occupy the armpit and contribute to body odor. “Maybe it means that men’s houses smell more like armpits,” Dunn suggested. “That’s probably—microbially, that’s a fair assessment.” The findings may be due to sex differences in skin biology; men tend to have more Corynebacterium on their skin—and to shed more skin microbes into the environment—than women do. (In the paper, the researchers also acknowledge the possibility that a bachelor pad’s bacterial signature could be the result of “hygiene practices.”)’
November 23, 2015
[moore] Alan Moore wrote his first Tweet… ‘This is Life Eternal, right here. Be fulfilled, be happy, be kind, be in love, and never do anything that you can’t live with forever.’

Alan Moore's First Tweet...

November 20, 2015
[london] How Deep Does London Go? … A look at how far down the tunnels are under London … ‘The tube varies greatly in depth, but is typically 24m. The deepest point is below Hampstead Heath at Bull and Bush (where a station was part-built, but never completed), which reaches 67m. The deepest space in London is the recently completed Lee Tunnel, a relief sewer that slopes down to 80m beneath Beckton.’
November 19, 2015
[dailyfail] Panic spreads as hundreds die after reading Daily Mail … Terrible news that reading the Daily Mail seems to kill people every day … ‘Critics have long warned of the dangers inherent in reading the Mail. Jacky Felcher, spokesperson for the anti-news campaign group GABS, announced that her organisation had been receiving reports of problems for some time. “One woman actually watched helplessly as her husband choked on his croissant while reading the Melanie Phillips column at breakfast. It was horrific.” Despite medical reports showing that not one of the deaths are directly due to actually reading the Daily Mail, the headlines are still appearing as if the facts are some how irrelevant, ensuring a significant public backlash.’
November 18, 2015

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