March 16, 2018
[books] Why the Culture Wins: An Appreciation of Iain M. Banks… A long-read on Iain M. Banks Culture Series of books. ‘One can see then why Horza might dislike the Culture. On the surface, his complaint is that they surrendered their humanity to machines. But what he really wants is a culture that can serve as a source of deeper meaning, which is the one thing that the Culture conspicuously fails to provide – on the contrary, it turns everything into a joke. The Culture may be irresistible, but for essentially stupid reasons. (“Horza tried not to appear as scornful as he felt. Here we go again, he thought. He tried to count the number of times he’d had to listen to people – usually from third- or low fourth-level societies, usually fairly human-basic, and more often than not male – talking in hushed, enviously admiring tones about how It’s More Fun in the Culture… I suppose we’ll hear about those wonderful drug glands next, Horza thought.”) It is precisely because of this decadence, as well as lack of seriousness, that the Idirans themselves assumed that their victory over the Culture was a foregone conclusion. When one compares the soft decadence of the Culture to the harsh militarism of the Idirans, it just seemed obvious that the Culture would not fight, but would quickly fold. This was, however, a miscalculation. In fact, the Culture would never give up.’
March 15, 2018
[movies] Dr. Strangelove in Color‘Do I look all rancid and clotted? You look at me, Jack. Eh? Look, eh? And I drink a lot of water, you know. I’m what you might call a water man, Jack – that’s what I am. And I can swear to you, my boy, swear to you, that there’s nothing wrong with my bodily fluids. Not a thing, Jackie.’

March 14, 2018
[science] The Brighter Side of Rabies … A brief look at how scientists are using the rabies virus for research into the brain. ‘Ian Wickersham, a research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who helped Callaway engineer the modified rabies virus eight years ago, is now at work on another version. The original, Wickersham told me, “kills infected cells quite quickly: by about two weeks after infection, they’re all either dead or in dire shape.” This meant that the scientists had a limited time to observe the virus’s movement in the brain. His goal, he said, is to make the rabies virus “innocuous, so infected neurons are completely healthy,” which might enable scientists not only to see how individual neurons are connected but also to watch the connections form. In other labs, different modified viruses are being used to target cancer, enhance food safety, and cure certain forms of color blindness. A modified strain of H.I.V., Callaway noted, is often used in labs to transfer genes between organisms.’
March 13, 2018
[movies] How we made 2001: A Space Odyssey … Keir Dullea and Douglas Trumbull discuss the making of 2001 … ‘Some of the crew wanted the miniatures and sets to be part of a travelling show, but Kubrick didn’t want the mystery of how it was produced revealed. A schoolteacher was tutoring his daughter and he gave him the Aries 1B spacecraft as payment. The guy’s family recently discovered it and sold it to the Academy. The orbiting space station ended up in a dump in Stevenage. I have no idea why.’
March 12, 2018
[brexit] What are they after?: How Could the Tories? … What do the Brexiteer Tories Want From Brexit?… ‘For all his idiosyncrasies, Johnson typifies something about contemporary conservatism, which might best be understood biographically. The cultural forces shaping the new conservatism resolve in a particular stereotype: men born between the mid-1960s and the early 1970s, with some constellation of expat backgrounds, famous fathers and first careers in the media. All four things apply to Johnson, but a Venn diagram of these various characteristics would also include Michael Gove, Douglas Carswell, Daniel Hannan and Jacob Rees-Mogg. The result of these disparate characteristics is a comfortable familiarity with the myths and rituals of the British state, but a blasé indifference to the impact of policy.’
March 9, 2018
[movies] Watching a film with mum on Mother’s Day? Don’t see these‘Remember when you were 14, and you were watching TV with your mum, and a sex scene unexpectedly came on, and the shame and embarrassment you both felt ended up causing all manner of long-lasting psychological scars? This film is pretty much one long sex scene, and it’s about a mother and her son, and watching it with your own mother absolutely isn’t worth the decades of therapy bills. Again, this one was actually released to coincide with Mother’s Day in the UK.’
March 8, 2018
[mario] Mario on shrooms … Running a Conway’s Game of Life simulation on Mario.

March 7, 2018
[pizza] How mozzarella became the perfect pizza cheese … A look at the science behind pizza toppings. ‘To investigate, the team sprinkled grated mozzarella, cheddar, colby, edam, emmental, gruyere, and provolone on pizza crusts and baked them in an oven for a set time. Then the pizzas were shunted under a camera to be photographed for computer analysis. The software quantified the colour uniformity of the cheeses, with high uniformity meaning that there were no browned spots. Each cheese was also put through its paces in a standard panel of cheese tests, assessing its stretchiness, moisture content, how much oil it releases as it melts, and at what temperature it melts.’
March 6, 2018
[web] The Onion: We Don’t Make Any Money If You Don’t Click The Fucking Link‘If you enjoy any of this content, any of it at all, it is highly recommended that you take one measly second out of your life to actually navigate to any of our many, many articles that grace your social media feed for free. Or, hell, you could even look at our homepage once in a while. Because unless you actually visit the website, there eventually won’t be one, you ungrateful pricks.’
March 5, 2018
[ODG!] This Mutant Crayfish Clones Itself, and It’s Taking Over Europe … Life will find a way. ‘The earliest report of the creature comes from a hobbyist who told Dr. Lyko he bought what were described to him as “Texas crayfish” in 1995. The hobbyist — whom Dr. Lyko declined to identify — was struck by the large size of the crayfish and its enormous batches of eggs. A single marbled crayfish can produce hundreds of eggs at a time. Soon the hobbyist was giving away the crayfish to his friends. And not long afterward, so-called marmorkrebs were showing up in pet stores in Germany and beyond. As marmorkrebs became more popular, owners grew increasingly puzzled. The crayfish seemed to be laying eggs without mating. The progeny were all female, and each one grew up ready to reproduce. In 2003, scientists confirmed that the marbled crayfish were indeed making clones of themselves.’
March 1, 2018
[cartoons] Chuck Jones’ Rules for Road Runner Cartoons‘Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote’s greatest enemy.’

February 28, 2018
[books] Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read … and what we watch and listen to. ‘The lesson from his binge-watching study is that if you want to remember the things you watch and read, space them out. I used to get irritated in school when an English-class syllabus would have us read only three chapters a week, but there was a good reason for that. Memories get reinforced the more you recall them, [Jared] Horvath says. If you read a book all in one stretch—on an airplane, say—you’re just holding the story in your working memory that whole time. “You’re never actually reaccessing it,” he says.’
February 27, 2018
[politics] Paul Manafort couldn’t convert PDFs to Word documents … Rule of thumb: Sucessfully executing a criminal conspiracy requires robust IT skills. ‘So here’s the essence of what went wrong for Manafort and Gates, according to Mueller’s investigation: Manafort allegedly wanted to falsify his company’s income, but he couldn’t figure out how to edit the PDF. He therefore had Gates turn it into a Microsoft Word document for him, which led the two to bounce the documents back-and-forth over email. As attorney and blogger Susan Simpson notes on Twitter, Manafort’s inability to complete a basic task on his own seems to have effectively “created an incriminating paper trail.”’
February 26, 2018
[tech] What free software is so good you can’t believe it’s available for free?‘#1 – Google maps on a cell phone. Navigation systems used to cost hundreds of dollars not too long ago.’
February 23, 2018
[food] How the sushi boom is fuelling tapeworm infections … Oh, Dear God, Tapeworms! ‘The patient had complained of abdominal pain. During a bout of bloody diarrhoea, reports Bahn, “he says: ‘I look down and I look like there’s a piece of intestine hanging out of me.’ What’s racing through his mind is he thinks he’s dying … He grabs it and he pulls on it and it keeps coming out. ‘What is this long piece of entrail?’ And he picks it up and looks at it and what does it do?” There is a dramatic pause to enhance the horror. “It starts moving.” Bahn said that the tapeworm had probably come from the patient’s daily intake of salmon sashimi. “He told me he was freaked out, but I guess when you think you’re dying because your entrails are shooting out your bottom and you find out it’s not you, but something else, that’s probably a good thing.” The story has attracted attention all over the world, as these things tend to do…’
February 22, 2018
[tech] Go look at some Anime Floppy Disks

February 21, 2018
[twitter] Meanwhile, on Twitter… ‘Remember that you are Butt Dust…’
February 20, 2018
[cthulu] Lovecraftian School Board Member Wants Madness Added To Curriculum … Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn!

“Fools!” said West, his clenched fist striking the lectern before him. “We must prepare today’s youth for a world whose terrors are etched upon ancient clay tablets recounting the fever-dreams of the other gods—not fill their heads with such trivia as math and English. Our graduates need to know about those who lie beneath the earth, waiting until the stars align so they can return to their rightful place as our masters and wage war against the Elder Things and the shoggoths!”

February 19, 2018
[politics] Jacob Rees-Mogg shows just how much the British love a caricature … The New Statesman attempts to understand Jacob Rees-Mogg. ‘There is a strange internal logic about the rise of Rees-Mogg, connected to both Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn’s survival and ideological confidence, mad as it sounds, brings new vitality to the Conservative extreme: Labour are doing it, perhaps we should, too. No wonder Rees-Mogg has carefully praised Corbyn’s “integrity”. As Stephen Bush recently explored in these pages, Rees-Mogg is being positioned as the appropriate and symmetrical cure to the Corbyn problem.’
February 16, 2018
[life] Find The Thing You’re Most Passionate About, Then Do It On Nights And Weekends For The Rest Of Your Life‘It could be anything—music, writing, drawing, acting, teaching—it really doesn’t matter. All that matters is that once you know what you want to do, you dive in a full 10 percent and spend the other 90 torturing yourself because you know damn well that it’s far too late to make a drastic career change, and that you’re stuck on this mind-numbing path for the rest of your life. Is there any other way to live?’
February 15, 2018
[london] Diamond Geezer on London’s best secret daffodils. ‘You need to see these daffodils.’
February 14, 2018
[life] A Catfishing With a Happy Ending … A Catfishing story for Valentines Day … ‘When four red heart emojis appeared on her screen, Emma was thrilled. Unlike her ex-boyfriend, Ronnie seemed mature and attentive. Ronnie was easy on the eyes, funny, and caring, but there was one problem: He did not exist. Ronaldo Scicluna was a fictional character created by Alan Stanley, a short, balding, 53-year-old shop fitter—a decorator of retail stores. Alan lived alone in Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Like one of the Bard’s shapeshifting characters, Alan used a disguise to fool women into romance, and to prevent himself getting hurt.’
February 13, 2018
[valentines] David Cronenberg Valentines … Perfectly romantic cards for Valentines.

February 12, 2018
[tech] What I Learned from Watching My iPad’s Slow Death … On the obsolescence of an 2012 iPad Mini. ‘If my old iPad could talk, it might ask me what has changed. If it could feel indignant, it might suggest that it isn’t the problem, and that everyone and everything else is. While it would be wrong according to the logic of its creation, it wouldn’t be incorrect. It is a piece of consumer technology, so you would expect that everything around it — its own software, Apple’s new products, the internet on which it depends — would have improved in the last five years, and that it would suffer in comparison. What seems unfair is that my old iPad, because it does nothing but provide access to these ever-evolving services, necessarily has to get worse and that it may, before long, have nowhere to go. Above all, my old iPad has revealed itself as a cursed object of a modern sort. It wears out without wearing. It breaks down without breaking. And it will be left for dead before it dies.’
February 9, 2018
[tech] Today I Learned: Why does misdetected Unicode text tend to show up as Chinese characters? … I also learned what Mojibake means. ‘If you look at a graphic representation of what languages occupy what parts of the BMP, you’ll see that it’s a sea of pink (CJK) and red (East Asian), occasionally punctuated by other scripts. It just so happens that the placement of the CJK ideographs in the BMP effectively guarantees it.’
February 8, 2018
[moore] Fossil Angels – Part 1 | Part 2 … Alan Moore on Magic … ‘Something inchoate and ethereal once alighted briefly, skipping like a stone across the surface of our culture, leaving its faint, tenuous impression in the human clay, a footprint that we cast in concrete and apparently remain content to genuflect before for decades, centuries, millennia. Recite the soothing and familiar lullabies or incantations word for word, then carefully restage the old, beloved dramas, and perhaps something will happen, like it did before.’
February 7, 2018
[tv] Paradise found: how The Good Place divinely remixed the sitcom … Stuart Heritage on The Good Place‘Decency is baked hard into the DNA of The Good Place. It’s the show’s entire reason to be. Its characters are trapped in a terrible scenario, and they can’t escape unless they improve as people. They are in a hopeless situation, but hope is their only way out. Forget all the formal bells and whistles. Forget that they are learning to be better because they are studying the works of pre-eminent ethicists and philosophers – even if it has caused some bookshops to set out “Chidi’s Choice” tables laden with all his go-to literature – just the fact that basic positivity is the engine room of a sitcom in 2018 is refreshing.’
February 6, 2018
February 5, 2018
[history] Archaeologists may have found architects’ camp for Stonehenge … and future site of Larkhill Resettlement Camp from V for Vendetta … ‘The team have been investigating a causewayed enclosure – these are thought to be ancient meeting places or centres of trade – on army land at Larkhill close to Stonehenge.They found an alignment of posts that matches the orientation of the circle at Stonehenge, leading to the theory that Larkhill could have been some sort of blueprint for the temple.’
February 2, 2018
[comics] Man Prefers Comic Books That Don’t Insert Politics Into Stories About Government-Engineered Agents Of War‘At press time, Land was posting on a subreddit that he wished comics didn’t force him to identify with gay or black superheroes when all he wanted was stories about oppressive governments rounding up mutants whose only crime was to be born different.’

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