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May 14, 2021
[books] Today I Learned: The 422 Words That Shakespeare Invented‘Compiling a definitive list of every word that Shakespeare ever invented is impossible. But creating a list of the words that Shakespeare almost certainly invented can be done. We generated list of words below by starting with the words that Shakespeare was the first to use in written language, and then applying research that has identified which words were probably in everyday use during Shakespeare’s time. The result are 422 bona fide words minted, coined, and invented by Shakespeare, from “academe” to “zany”…’
May 12, 2021
[life] A New Generation Of Scientists Takes On A 142-Year-Old Experiment … The story behind a long-running, baton-pass science experiment. ‘Weber says it was really cool to pull a bottle out of the ground, knowing that “the last person to touch it was professor Beal, 140 years ago, you know, this person who was writing letters to Darwin.” The researchers immediately took the bottle to a lab. They spread out almost all of the contents onto potting soil…’
May 11, 2021
May 7, 2021
[life] NEVER sit in a stained chair in the Poker room of a Casino … A disturbing, dark thread on Reddit about gambling addiction. ‘Anyone that works in a busy casino will have some fucked up stories. I remember an old couple that would sit and fill up their diapers playing slots. One day the wife died at the machine. Her husband wouldn’t get up from his machine to go with her after the EMT’s loaded her up and took her away.’
May 4, 2021
[books] ‘I’m bursting with fiction’: Alan Moore announces five-volume fantasy epic … Alan Moore comments on his new series of books. ‘Speaking about his book deal, Moore said that he was at a moment in his career when he was “bursting with fiction, bursting with prose”.’
April 29, 2021
[books] Illuminations, Long London 1: books are coming… More details revealed about Alan Moore’s new books to be published by Bloomsbury. ‘Illuminations is an astonishing, rich and broad collection of short stories, each featuring some kind of illumination or realization. From ghosts and otherworldly creatures to the four horsemen of the apocalypse to the Boltzmann brains fashioning the universe at the big bang, Alan Moore’s Illuminations is a series of beguiling and elegantly crafted tales that reveal the full power of imagination and magic.’
April 28, 2021
[books] Literary Critics Praise Unpublished Salinger Novels As Good, But Not ‘Go Out And Shoot A Celebrity’ Good‘Unfortunately, would-be assassins will likely find that the novel’s tendency towards the maudlin and a muddled narrative fail to evoke the passion required to take down a singer or presidential candidate.’
April 26, 2021
[tv] @xnemxia on Twitter:‘I wonder who killed her / What the fuck’

Twin Peaks - Who Killed her / WTF

April 22, 2021
[politics] Diamond Geezer’s London Mayoral Hustings … DG analyses Sadiq Khan’s opponents for London Mayor. ‘The classic eccentric – Count Binface: Hurrah for intergalactic space warrior Count Binface.’
April 20, 2021
[tools] Open source, experimental, and tiny tools roundup … Great list of tech tools. ‘This is a list of small, free, or experimental tools that might be useful in building your game / website / interactive project. Although I’ve included ‘standards’, this list has a focus on artful tools and toys that are as fun to use as they are functional.’
April 19, 2021
[bbc] Photo essay: Life at BBC Broadcasting House during the coronavirus pandemic … Haunting photos of life at the BBC during Covid.
April 16, 2021
[royalty] What will ACTUALLY happen when the Queen dies … A look at what might really happen when London Bridge is down. ‘Nigel Farage won’t be invited to any of the official pageantry, but will post a photo of himself saluting his television.’
April 15, 2021
[tv] How Columbo Became an Unlikely Quarantine Hit‘Columbo isn’t quite hardboiled like detectives out of Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler; he’s also not flashy or well-dressed like Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot. The show isn’t gritty like many American crime shows, and it isn’t whimsical like some of the British detective shows you’ll find on Masterpiece. There isn’t a lot of violence; instead, Falk brings a comic tone to his character. Columbo, basically, is the most soft-boiled detective show I’ve ever seen. And soft is all I’m looking for these days.’
April 13, 2021
[conpiracy] Making sense of conspiracy theorists as the world gets more bizarre … Jon Ronson looks back over twenty years of conspiracy theories. ‘You get renaissances of conspiracy theories when the powerful behave in conspiratorial ways. The mystery is why the theorists are never happy with the actual evidence, and instead behave like amateur sleuths inside some magical parallel world where metaphors are facts. In that world, the deaths at David Koresh’s church in Waco were caused not by government overreach but by the Illuminati’s Satanic desire for blood sacrifice. Why they invariably slap a layer of fiction on top of an already fascinating truth had long been a puzzle to me…’
April 12, 2021
April 8, 2021
[science] Why Physicists Tried to Put a Ferret in a Particle Accelerator … You’ll be glad to hear that Felicia the Ferret’s Intrinsic Field was not removed. ‘Faced with a recalcitrant ferret, the scientists reassigned her to a section of 12-inch-wide tubes in the Meson Lab, a testing facility that was still under construction. “She was taught to scamper through progressively longer tunnels until she was ready to try one of the 300-foot sections that will be joined together to make the Meson Lab’s tubes,” Time noted. After her first run, she emerged “looking a little tired and bemused but otherwise quite healthy,” according to Beck. She’d pulled the string all the way through. As planned, workmen pulled the swab through the tubes. It came out covered with specks of dust and steel.’
April 7, 2021
[tech] Booting an IBM PC from a Vinyl Record … Watch and listen to the PC boot here. ‘There is a small ROM boot loader that operates the built-in “cassette interface” of the PC (that was hardly ever used), invoked by the BIOS if all the other boot options fail, i.e. floppy disk and the hard drive. The turntable spins an analog recording of a small bootable read-only RAM drive, which is 64K in size. This contains a FreeDOS kernel, modified by me to cram it into the memory constraint, a micro variant of COMMAND.COM and a patched version of INTERLNK, that allows file transfer through a printer cable, modified to be runnable on FreeDOS. The bootloader reads the disk image from the audio recording through the cassette modem, loads it to memory and boots the system on it. Simple huh?’
April 6, 2021
[tech] Why Computers Won’t Make Themselves Smarter … A look at why the singularity is unlikely. ‘This ability of humans to build on one another’s work is precisely why I don’t believe that running a human-equivalent A.I. program for a hundred years in isolation is a good way to produce major breakthroughs. An individual working in complete isolation can come up with a breakthrough but is unlikely to do so repeatedly; you’re better off having a lot of people drawing inspiration from one another. They don’t have to be directly collaborating; any field of research will simply do better when it has many people working in it.’
March 31, 2021
[headlines] 49 brilliantly underwhelming local news headlines from across the UK ‘Angry Seagulls Strike Back’

Angry Seagulls Strike Back

March 29, 2021
[clowes] Ghost World at 20: ‘In an era of teen comedies and American Pie, this was an antidote’ … Looking back at Terry Zwigoff’s movie of the comic. ‘Those contrasting viewpoints underline Ghost World’s complexity; everyone takes something different from it. For Douglas, it is principally about nonconformity. “In the end, even Seymour conforms,” she says. “When Enid goes in and he’s wearing the blue jeans that his new girlfriend purchased for him, it is this abandoning of everything they’ve made fun of.” Others see it as a film about boredom, or about being unwilling or unable to grow up, while some respond to the characters’ nostalgia for a time they haven’t lived through. Zwigoff had intended partly to critique consumerism: “I wanted to set the story against a background of the sweeping, bland, contrived monoculture of which mindless consumerism is, of course, a part.”’
March 26, 2021
[suez] Is the ship still stuck?‘Yes. It’s been like this for 2 days, 22 hours and 52 minutes.’
March 23, 2021
[moore] 32 Short Lucubrations … John Coulthart shares some memories and thoughts about Alan Moore.

March 22, 2021
[comics] Ed Brubaker has “mixed feelings” about The Falcon and the Winter Soldier‘For the most part all Steve Epting and I have gotten for creating the Winter Soldier and his storyline is a “thanks” here or there, and over the years that’s become harder and harder to live with. I’ve even seen higher-ups on the publishing side try to take credit for my work a few times, which was pretty galling…’
March 19, 2021
[covid-19] How the Europe and the United States Lost COVID-19 … A long, depressing read on Europe and America’s failure over Covid-19. ‘As the pandemic progressed, both exhausted countries flipped from denial to capitulation, choosing to treat almost any caseload plateau as an opportunity to relax, no matter how high a level of ongoing spread it represented. “It was like, ‘We’re gonna have a great summer and holidays,’” she says, laughing ruefully. “Can you believe it? Last summer, I was up on panels with Tory politicians where they’re saying, ‘You’re safer flying to Greece or to Spain than being in the U.K. because they have lower rates than us.’ And they are 100 percent serious! It’s like it’s a basic human right, to have a holiday and go abroad, and we can’t possibly take it away. Everyone was saying elimination was impossible. You still hear it, right? ‘Impossible, it’s impossible.’ Which is kind of the choice that we’ve made here. Elimination is just too difficult.”’
March 18, 2021
[politics] Dominic Cummings plays all his favourite songs at reunion gig … John Crace sketches out the return of Dominic Cummings. ‘Cummings began by explaining the concept of Aria with the help of a Venn diagram he had brought with him. That small pink area? That’s where scientific research was currently concentrated. That vast blue area? That’s where he thought the scientists should be focused. Not so much thinking outside the box as thinking outside the circle. And if the diagram wasn’t sufficiently clear, MPs would be able to find a version in the 100,000-word blog he had altered on his return from Barnard Castle in the spring of last year.’
March 12, 2021
March 11, 2021
[life] What the Pandemic Is Doing to Our Brains … How’s your pandemic brain coping? ‘Prolonged boredom is, somewhat paradoxically, hugely stressful, Franklin said. Our brains hate it. “What’s very clear in the literature is that environmental enrichment—being outside of your home, bumping into people, commuting, all of these changes that we are collectively being deprived of—is very associated with synaptic plasticity,” the brain’s inherent ability to generate new connections and learn new things, she said.’
March 9, 2021
[moore] The Bookseller teases Illuminations and Long London – new books from Alan Moore‘Wills recently signed the bearded comics legend Alan Moore, writer of Watchmen, V for Vendetta and From Hell, among other landmark works. Moore has never had an agent, and given his famous public disagreements with filmmakers on how they have adapted his stories, perhaps he should have. At any rate, Moore has written some prose works—a collection of short stories and Long London, a series of speculative novels—which at this writing Wills is auctioning in the UK.’
March 8, 2021
[tv] Aha! – The Oral History of Alan Partridge … The real-life origins of Alan Partridge. ‘I was able to see quite quickly that this character could have more scale than just doing sports, and it seemed to me that the chat show was a perfect vehicle. I had a very strong image for Alan, and whether it actually happened or not, I’m not sure, but I think I remember a sports reporter on TV interviewing some footballers who then threw him into the swimming pool. He had to put on a brave face while sopping wet. That, to me, was everything about Alan – having to be brave in the face of his own humiliation. The principle with Alan was: how can we torture him the most? (Patrick Marber)’
March 5, 2021
[web] A Grizzled, Months-Old Chrome Tab Welcomes a Fresh-Faced New Tab to My Browser Window – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency‘I’d say I thank god that I’ve stuck around as long as I have, but when you stick around as long as I have, you realize there is no god. Just an unfeeling, capricious universe, playing with us as a child with marbles. You’ll learn. Over time you’ll move further and further to the left, pixel by pixel, as each new recruit pops in. All you can do is load pages as fast as you can, keep your ad blocker ready to fire at a moment’s notice, and try to tune out the constant thrum of lo-fi hip-hop beats to relax/study to. Me, I’ve been holding this same Atlantic article so long I’ve atrophied. It’s too long to ever finish reading, but just vaguely interesting enough to not get closed. ‘