June 22, 2018
[art] How to spot a perfect fake: the world’s top art forgery detective … Fascinating look at using forensics to find forged art. ‘Like criminals of every stripe, modern forgers have kept easy pace with the techniques that attempt to trap them. The mismatch between the purported age of a painting and the true age of its ingredients is the workhorse of Martin’s technique. So forgers have grown more rigorous in their harvesting of materials, taking the trouble, for instance, to source wooden panels from furniture they know is dateable to the year of the fake they are creating. (The trick isn’t wholly new; Terenzio da Urbino, a 17th-century conman, scrabbled around for filthy old canvases and frames, cleaned them up, and turned them into “Raphaels”.) Forgers also test their own fakes to ensure they’ll pass. Wolfgang Beltracchi, a German artist who served three years in prison for forging paintings worth $45m, surveyed the chemical elements in his works by running them under X-ray fluorescence guns – the same handheld devices, resembling Star Trek phasers, that many art fairs now train upon their exhibits.’
June 21, 2018
[comics] Notes Toward a Future Understanding of Wally Wood … Some interesting views on Wally Wood. ‘The violence in Total War and T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents isn’t bloody, but it is blunt. You don’t empathize with the civilians, but you recognize that brutality has been done. It’s not the villains that are doing the destruction here, but the artist, and it’s directed inward. That his focus and his allegiance to his craft remains crystal clear as this battle is waged—-yes, here we come to part of what I think makes Wood so important and why I always want to read one of his stories. He is there, in every one of them, and often there with pain, though he never indulges it.’
June 20, 2018
[wiki] Galloway’s war of words with a mystery Wikipedia editor … A look at George Galloway’s feud with a supposedly bias pseudonymous Wikipedia editor… ‘He’s recently caught the attention of bloggers and has been the subject of stories in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz and Russian state-owned outlets Sputnik and RT. There have been allegations on social media – all unproven – that he’s a government agent, employed by rich and powerful media interests, or is a mainstream journalist with an obsessive hobby.’
June 19, 2018
[charts] Spurious Correlations … Amusing graphs proving that Correlation is not Causation.

June 18, 2018
[the sea] The Thieves Who Steal Sunken Warships, Right Down to the Bolts … Fascinating story which feels like the start of a Dirk Pitt adventure. ‘For the most part, this kind of theft tends to be a low-tech job. Salvagers pose as fishermen aboard ramshackle boats anchored at the site, and then dive the wrecks for particular parts. Sometimes, they’re audacious enough to arrive with a barge and crane and bring up heavier pieces. They make off with valuable parts first, like those made of brass and copper. But even as salvagers move on to less valuable things like aluminum shafts, they’ll leave plenty of debris in their wake—fasteners, broken metal plating, and of course, the hulls of the ships themselves. That’s a huge part of what is so mysterious about these Java sea wrecks: Not a single bolt remains. Highly unusual, even for skilled and ambitious salvagers.’
June 15, 2018
[phones] Why Doesn’t Anyone Answer the Phone Anymore? … Alexis Madrigal wonders about the death of analog phone culture. ‘If someone called you, if you were there, you would pick up, you would say hello. That was just how phones worked. The expectation of pickup was what made phones a synchronous medium. I attach no special value to it. There’s no need to return to the pure state of 1980s telephonic culture. It’s just something that happened, like lichen growing on rocks in the tundra, or bacteria breaking down a fallen peach. Life did its thing, on and in the inanimate substrate. But I want to dwell on the existence of this cultural layer, because it is disappearing…’
June 14, 2018
[thinking] 9 Mental Models to Solve Difficult Problems … Another look at mental models. ‘Hanlon’s Razor – Hard to trace in its origin, Hanlon’s Razor states that we should not attribute to malice that which is more easily explained by stupidity. In a complex world, using this model helps us avoid paranoia and ideology. By not generally assuming that bad results are the fault of a bad actor, we look for options instead of missing opportunities. This model reminds us that people do make mistakes. It demands that we ask if there is another reasonable explanation for the events that have occurred. The explanation most likely to be right is the one that contains the least amount of intent.’
June 13, 2018
June 12, 2018
June 11, 2018
[movies] The 25 Best Heist Movies Of All Time … Great list but can’t agree with Heat not being in the top five. ‘Dog Day Afternoon (1975): Director Sidney Lumet bathes the film in New York atmosphere, but it’s equally dazzling in its depiction of the troubles that can occur when ill-prepared men undertake a foolish, dangerous endeavor. But what makes Dog Day Afternoon resonate is Lumet and his cast’s ability to erase the line between these fools and us — Pacino’s one-terrible-day desperation humanizes his character’s neediness and growing panic, putting the audience in the bank with him as he tries to tap-dance his way out of disaster.’ [via MetaFilter]
June 8, 2018
[social] Meet the people who still use Myspace: ‘It’s given me so much joy’ … Reads slightly like an Onion article but I can relate… I am available for interviews on people who still blog. :) ‘The homepage automatically pulls in articles from other websites, giving the ghost town a veneer of vitality. However, a prominent invitation to “connect with” Avicii, the Swedish DJ who died in April, acts as a jarring reminder of the site’s zombie status. “It’s almost like I’ve taken over a dead site,” he said, noting that at least women did not block him or remove his comments any more. “I think it’s funny. I’ll leave comments and messages for girls who haven’t been on there for years.” Scalir achieved minor celebrity status in the 1990s and 2000s through several appearances on TV dating shows including Blind Date, Love Connection and Singled Out. Myspace offered an alternative way to meet women. “I always hoped I’d get a girlfriend out of it, but it never really happened,” he added.’
June 7, 2018
[tech] Y Combinator’s Xerox Alto: restoring the legendary 1970s GUI computer … Fascinating look into the complexities of restoring the first computer with a GUI and major inspiration for the Apple Macintosh. Here’s a page collecting information, blogposts and videos from YouTube on the project: Restoring a Xerox Alto II Extended.

The Alto was introduced in 1973. To understand this time in computer hardware, the primitive 4004 microprocessor had been introduced a couple years earlier. Practical microprocessors such as the 6502 and Z-80 were still a couple years in the future and the Apple II wouldn’t be released until 1977. At the time, minicomputers such as the Data General Nova and PDP-11 built processors out of hundreds of simple but fast TTL integrated circuits, rather than using slow, unreliable MOS chips. The Alto was built similarly, and is a minicomputer, not a microcomputer. The Alto has 13 circuit boards, crammed full of chips. Each board is a bit smaller than a page of paper, about 7-5/16″ by 10″, and holds roughly 100 chips (depending on the board).

June 6, 2018
[life] I Am A Recently Divorced And Laid-Off Middle-Aged Man With A Lot Of Health Problems, And Everything I Say Is Incredibly Depressing. Ask Questions At Me.‘It’s important to remember that though you might think you’re going through one enormous loss, there are actually hundreds of other, tinier losses you’ll experience along the way. For example, one thing you don’t realize until you get divorced is that only one of you gets to keep all the baby photos of your kids. I try to use my faith as a way to cope with all the pain of losing my job and my family. It hasn’t worked for me so far. One time I flipped to a random page in the Bible and put my finger down, hoping to land on something encouraging, but instead I landed on a verse about God ruining a man’s life as an example to others.’
June 5, 2018
[conspiracy] Looking for Life on a Flat Earth … A profile of the Flat Earth movement.

Flat-Earth logic is by turns mesmerizing and maddening. There is no gravity, nothing to restrain it, but as a theory it explains fewer phenomena than the theory it seeks to supplant. In the corridor, I met a documentary filmmaker—there were several milling around at the conference—who had been following the flat-Earth community for months. His face bore a look of despair. “If you’re going to dismiss everything as a hoax, you’d better have something clear to replace it,” he said, his voice rising toward apoplexy. “If you tell me your car isn’t blue and I ask you, ‘Well, what color is your car?,’ don’t fucking tell me, ‘I don’t know, but it’s not blue.’ What color is your fucking car?!”

June 4, 2018
[amazon] Jeff Bezos Announces Customers Can Delete All Of Alexa’s Stored Audio By Rappelling Into Amazon HQ, Navigating Laser Field, Uploading Nanovirus To Servers … Amazon’s new Privacy Policy seems reasonable. We take privacy concerns seriously, and I want our valued customers to know they can erase all the information their Amazon Echo has gathered just by being dropped from a helicopter over one of our towers, using a diamond-tipped glass cutter to carve out a hole in a 32nd-story window, and then employing advanced cyberwarfare techniques to compromise our data centers…’
June 1, 2018
[comics] From Hell: Eddie Campbell explains why he’s coloring graphic novel … Includes some examples of coloured pages and talk about the possibility of a new appendix from Alan Moore. ‘The thing with the color is, it gives me another layer of expression to lay over everything. Of all the layers of expression that are already in From Hell, it gives me another layer of suggestion. I can make things more suggestive than you can in black and white. In black and white I do it with the cross-hatching. The cross-hatching is still there, but now I can take it and make it gray, put a dark gray over a light gray, or vice versa. There are all these subtleties and differences, there’s a million choices for everything I’m looking at. For somebody who’s already familiar with it, it’ll be like for seeing it for the first time.’
May 31, 2018
[movies] Toy Shining… A Mashup between Toy Story and The Shining by Kyle Lambert.

Toy Shining Mashup

May 30, 2018
[fiction] Why is pop culture obsessed with battles between good and evil? … A look at why the structure of stories has changed over time and the connection to Nationalism. ‘As part of this new nationalist consciousness, other authors started changing the old stories to make a moral distinction between, for example, Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham. Before Joseph Ritson’s 1795 retelling of these legends, earlier written stories about the outlaw mostly showed him carousing in the forest with his merry men. He didn’t rob from the rich to give to the poor until Ritson’s version – written to inspire a British populist uprising after the French Revolution. Ritson’s rendering was so popular that modern retellings of Robin Hood, such as Disney’s 1973 cartoon or the film Prince of Thieves (1991) are more centrally about outlaw moral obligations than outlaw hijinks. The Sheriff of Nottingham was transformed from a simple antagonist to someone who symbolised the abuses of power against the powerless. Even within a single nation (Robin Hood), or a single household (Cinderella), every scale of conflict was restaged as a conflict of values.’
May 29, 2018
[books] 25 Best True Crime Books of All Time … Strong list of True Crime books. ‘Skip Fatal Vision, the true crime book written by a journalist who was embedded with a man who was ultimately convicted for killing his pregnant wife and their two other children. Instead, get more meta and read ace cultural critic Janet Malcolm’s study of the relationship between the two men in The Journalist and the Murderer. It’s more thrilling than any book about ethics in crime journalism has any right to be.’
May 28, 2018
[cthulu] Sorry, But I Don’t See How Nyarlathotep’s Death Cult Is Negatively Affecting American Discourse … 🐙 Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn! 🦐 … ‘I don’t see any problem with the death cult’s High Priest getting a recurring op-ed in the New York Times. He worked hard to get where he is, and last I checked, this is still the country where, if you put in enough hard work, time, energy — and self-castration to please the abhorrent Anti-God, apparently — you can make it. The cult is a small but troubling percentage of our population, but we can’t just silence them because they call in eerie unison for a “Great Offering.” Yeah, if I was on the editorial board I might see about diversifying with another woman, or perhaps a person of color, or hell, even someone slightly left-of-center, but I imagine it’s pretty hard to quickly turn a ship as large as the USS Gray Lady. These institutions don’t change overnight. Unless Nyarlathotep wills it, I suppose.’
May 25, 2018
[comics] Inside the biggest comic book collection in the world … Interview with a man who has the biggest collection of comics in the world. ‘Bretall displays his most valuable and treasured comics and collectibles in a large showcase room in his California home, with the rest in a three-car garage filled with long boxes — 391 at the moment, along with some 50 short boxes, 30 magazine boxes, 45 diamond boxes, 10 bookshelves and two spinner racks.All told, he’s got about 105,000 comics at the moment — over 3,000 more than when his record was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2014. Remarkably, he’s assembled the collection largely by purchasing single issues. That said, he has been at it awhile, as the shopping stretches back to 1970, with The Amazing Spider-Man #88.’
May 24, 2018
May 23, 2018
[docu] From ‘Making a Murderer to ‘Evil Genius’: Netflix’s Golden Age of True-Crime … Examining Netflix’s successful approach to True-Crime documentaries. ‘They invite speculation and discussion by pulling at the threads of a mystery rather than defining and/or vilifying its subjects. They benefit from the Netflix model, which has allowed viewers to chart a case in either parceled-out chapters or, thanks to the service’s tendency to dump full seasons in a single bound, to inhale it as one continuous stem-to-stern investigation. They have a tendency to treat the sensationalistic material with a narrative seriousness that’s often missing from the tabloid-style shows. “There’s a lot of true crime content out there, right?” Nishimura told Business Insider. “What made [Making a Murderer] compelling and interesting and for me … was that commitment to the level of storytelling.” And they allow for viewers to get to know the players in these complex stories, and gives them the chance to understand their motivations rather than simply condemn their actions.’
May 22, 2018
[comics] Go Look at Alan Moore’s Only Judge Dredd Script … Turned down by Alan Grant but later published in The Extraordinary Works of Alan Moore.

12. Smallish panel. Close-up of Judge Curtis’ boots. They are about eight inches above the ground and kicking wildly. Maybe we can see a hint of a tentacle, wrapped around his leg just below the knee…
(Possibly the “SNAPP” could be arranged to fit across the scream, cutting it off sharply.)

May 21, 2018
[web] I Don’t Know How to Waste Time on the Internet Anymore … A look at why the Web isn’t fun anymore. ‘And then, one day, I think in 2013, Twitter and Facebook were not really very fun anymore. And worse, the fun things they had supplanted were never coming back. Forums were depopulated; blogs were shut down. Twitter, one agent of their death, became completely worthless: a water-drop-torture feed of performative outrage, self-promotion, and discussion of Twitter itself. Facebook had become, well … you’ve been on Facebook. In the decade since I took that computer class, the web browser has taken over the entire computing experience. There is nothing to “learn” about computers, really, except how to use a browser; everything you might want to do is done from that stupid empty address bar. Today, through that web browser, there are movies and TV shows and every song ever recorded; it’s where I do my writing and chatting and messaging; it’s where my notes and calendars and social networks live. It’s everything except fun.’
May 18, 2018
[drink] How I let drinking take over my life … powerful long-read from William Leith analysing his heavy drinking. ‘Some people drink, and then they drink more, and at a certain point, they become obsessed with drink. I always used to notice bottles, the shapes of bottles, the labels and coloured glass. Just looking at the bottles would make me feel a rush of desire. I would know which pubs stocked the strongest beers and ciders, just in case. I loved walking around off-licences, and picking up bottles, and holding them. Sometimes, in the middle of the day, I’d go into an off-licence for a few minutes and talk about wine or whisky with the person behind the counter. For a year, I took a wine course, because wine seemed civilised. I sat in a classroom, one evening a week, talking about wine, and drinking wine, and taking notes. Afterwards, I’d go off with another member of the class, or perhaps two, for a couple more bottles of wine. There were always bottles in my life, bottles everywhere, more bottles than I could believe.’
May 17, 2018
[life] Mental Models I Find Repeatedly Useful … long list of concepts for explaining things. ‘Unknown Unknowns — “Known unknowns refers to ‘risks you are aware of, such as cancelled flights….’ Unknown unknowns are risks that ‘come from situations that are so out of this world that they never occur to you.’ (related: Cynefin framework)’
May 16, 2018
[cthulhu] Why We’re Here – A Cthulhu Tract … By Fred Van Lente and Steve Ellis. 🐙 ‘Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn!’ 🦐

May 15, 2018
[comic] Comixploitation! … Great explainer on the venality of Marvel and DC Comics by Robert Boyd. ‘The contract [Siegel and Shuster] signed with DC promised them “a percentage of the net profits accruing from the exploitation of Superman in channels other than magazines.” It’s vague, but it’s there—Siegel and Shuster should have been getting a cut of everything right from the start. If Siegel and Shuster had had a lawyer on their side, or a business advisor, they probably would have done better. Their youth and naiveté betrayed them, as did their working class background. When faced with slick businessmen like Donenfeld and Liebowitz, they lost every time…’
May 14, 2018
[weird] Meeting Their Makers: The Strange Phenomenon of Fictional Characters Turning Up in Real Life … with stories from Alan Moore, William Gibson, Dave McKean and Doug Moench. ‘Authors have reported seeing their fictional creations act in this independent manner not only in their minds, but also ‘in real life’ – especially in the worlds of science fiction and comic books. Alan Moore himself has mentioned in an interview that he once saw one of his creations, the mage John Constantine (from the Hellblazer series), in a sandwich bar in London. “All of a sudden, up the stairs came John Constantine,” Moore revealed. “He looked exactly like John Constantine. He looked at me, stared me straight in the eyes, smiled, nodded almost conspiratorially, and then just walked off around the corner to the other part of the snack bar.” Moore contemplated whether he should go around the corner and double-check if it really was his own character that had walked into the bar, or whether he should just finish his sandwich and leave…’

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