linkmachinego.com
December 18, 2018
[music] Of Course You Hear What I Hear — Christmas Music Season Is Totally Data-Driven … How music-streaming services and Radio work out what songs to play at Christmas and when to start. ‘Any half-decent band will cut a quick holiday track every now and again. It was McDonald’s job to develop an algorithm to find that song and make sure nobody hears it on Spotify radio for most of the year. “We actually have a fairly intricate mechanism to try to identify Christmas music,” McDonald said. First, he builds a list of obvious holiday songs. He then identifies the albums those songs appear on. Then his algorithm looks at all the other songs on those albums to see how often they appear elsewhere, and will try to decide if they’re Christmas songs by iterating the process to figure out which songs only appear on other Christmas albums. The process isn’t infallible, but after enough repetitions, McDonald said, “we have a pretty good idea of a fairly complete universe of Christmas songs.”’
December 17, 2018
[xmas] Christmas Links 2018 … Worth a click – Stuart over at Feeling Listless is collecting seasonal links as he did in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
December 14, 2018
[comics] Spider-Ham Origin: Who Is Spider-Verse’s Peter Porker … The amusing story of how Marvel came to publish a funny animal version of Spider-man in the 1980s.

“After December 14, we will live in a world where everyone knows Peter Porker,” says comics writer Dan Slott. “Laymen on the street. Kids with their lunch boxes and onesies. Everyone is gonna know who Spider-Ham is.” He pauses. He laughs at the ridiculousness of it all. “What a world.”

December 13, 2018
[tv] The Assassination of Gianni Versace review – a grim portrait of gay life‘In following Cunanan’s deadly joyride, the show also takes us from Miami to Minneapolis to Chicago to La Jolla. One moment, we’re at the Versace mansion, as chiseled butlers serve orange juice on silver trays, and the next we’re in seedy motels and lakeside cottages as characters snort heroin and hunt quail. The contrast says as much about class as it does the geographical scope of the murders; Cunanan is both killer and liar, but more than anything he’s a striver, with Versace advertisements thumb-tacked to his wall and an expensive wardrobe mostly gifted to him by the older, rich men whom he dates and, in some cases, slays.’
December 12, 2018
[goop] How Goop’s Haters Made Gwyneth Paltrow’s Company Worth $250 Million …A deep, amusing dive into Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop. ‘Goop began publishing extended Q. and A.s with doctors and healers like Alejandro Junger, a cardiologist who created an anti-inflammatory regimen and recently talked on Goop’s podcast about frog venom as a psychedelic for healing, which, O.K.! Steven Gundry, a cardiac surgeon, believes that lectins, a protein in some foods, are dangerous for people with autoimmune diseases. (There are a great many people who do not believe this.) Anyone from an acupuncturist to a psychic to an endocrinologist to a psychologist addressed questions that the modern woman couldn’t seem to find answers to: Why am I so unhappy? Why am I so tired? Why am I so fat? Why don’t I want to have sex anymore? There were stories that talked about bee-sting therapy (don’t try it; someone died from it this year) and ashwagandha and adaptogens and autoimmune diseases — an autoimmune disease at every corner, be it thyroid disease, arthritis or celiac disease; trust them, you have one.’
December 11, 2018
December 10, 2018
[curtis] The antidote to civilisational collapse … Another long, interesting interview with Adam Curtis. ‘The problem I have with a lot of investigative journalism, is that they always say: “There should be more investigative journalism” and I think, “When you tell me that a lot of rich people aren’t paying tax, I’m shocked but I’m not surprised because I know that. I don’t want to read another article that tells me that”. What I want is an article that tells me why, when I’m told that, nothing happens and nothing changes. And no one has ever explained that to me. I think it has something to do with this technocratic world because it doesn’t have the capacity to respond to that kind of thing. It has the capacity to manage us very well. It’s benign but it doesn’t have the capacity to challenge the rich and the powerful within that system, who use it badly for their own purposes. That’s the downside and we’re beginning to get fed up with it. And that’s allowed those on the margins of society to come in and start kicking, and we have no idea what to do about them.’
December 7, 2018
[comics] Drunken Baker: Barney Farmer … The writer of the Drunken Bakers in Viz interviewed. ‘Since 2002, Drunken Bakers has been a stalwart of Viz: it has chronicled the demise of traditional services and society as authentically as any economic study of the state of the nation. For Farmer, bakeries were a barometer of British society: “There would be a town full of terraced houses, and at the end of every street there would be a baker. So a town of 50,000 people, it probably had a bakery for every hundred people. “Family-run bakers in Preston have been there for generations. All you need is one poor town, and it gets two Greggs (a national chain), and then that’s four or five bakeries nailed… Supermarket bread on top of that. They’ve come under attack from multiple angles. It was one of the things that dawned on me, that bread was a metaphor.’
December 6, 2018
[funnty] Nihilist Dad Jokes‘How does a penguin build a house? Igloos it together. Like all animals, it is an automaton, driven by blind genetic imperative, marching slowly to oblivion.’
December 5, 2018
[comics] Weird Window #1 and Weird Window #2 … Two issues of fanzine containing Alan Moore’s earliest published work – includes a poem, stories and illustrations from AM amongst others.

December 4, 2018
[comics] The year Britain got the Horrors over Horror Comics… Lew Stringer on anti-comics hysteria in the UK during the 1950s. Includes some scans of newspaper articles of the time. ‘On 23rd September 1954 two Glasgow policemen were called out to witness an alarming sight: hundreds of children, some armed with knives and sharpened sticks, were patrolling a graveyard hunting a vampire. Thus began the legend of the “Gorbals Vampire” and although, naturally, no vampire was found, a scapegoat for the children’s behaviour was: imported American comic books. After this, the floodgates of paranoia opened and the church and media began attacking comics relentlessly.’
December 3, 2018
[books] The Terrible Occult Detectives of the Victorian Era … Amusing look at fictional Occult Detectives. ‘Plagued by a haunted bladder, a phantom taste, or family suicide? Flaxman Low is there to instantly pin the blame on a bunch of Dianists, dead relatives who meddled with Eastern mysticism, or an African man hiding inside a cabinet and using glowing poisonous mushrooms to kill off the family. Then he explodes your house.’
November 30, 2018
[comics] The Strange Case of Stan Lee … a nicely done look at the problem with Stan Lee. ‘When Lee passed away last week, non-comics world friends reached out to me to express condolences. They knew I loved comics and that I’m interested in the history of the medium… Clearly, this was a loss, right? A melancholy day? When I responded by trying to explain what a strange and confounding figure Lee was, and that he didn’t exactly create the characters the media was saying he did, I found myself at a loss to explain why. Lee wasn’t standard, he didn’t just take credit for something that he had nothing to do with, so it couldn’t be explained in a black and white way. He did have a large role in what Marvel was (and is), much of it positive. Why was he not what he claimed to be? It wasn’t easy to summarize and it felt exhausting, even ridiculous, to try.’
November 29, 2018
[crime] How a Salvador Dalí Painting Was Stolen From Rikers Island Prison … A remarkable true crime story involving a stolen painting and a gang of corrupt prison guards on Rikers Island. ‘At 1 a.m. on March 1, 2003, the squawk of a radio announced a fire drill inside the Eric M. Taylor Center. Two thousand inmates were immediately locked down. Guards rushed from their posts and convened in a remote wing, as they had been trained to do during a drill. After the drill began and the jail’s lobby was deserted, the thieves got to work. One stood watch. Another slipped off the painting case’s locks. The third kept tabs on the fire drill’s progress. Within a few minutes, a replica of the Dalí hung in its place. The substitute was far from a perfect match, and the thief standing guard wasn’t convinced. “That looks ridiculous,” he said.’
November 28, 2018
[books] Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life Digested … a digested read from John Grace. ‘9. Assume the person you are listening to knows something you don’t – Just shut up, quit moaning and listen to me. I know things you don’t. So don’t expect me to listen to you. That’s not the way things work. I’m here to make you feel Better about Yourself by telling you things you already know in a way that makes you feel clever.’
November 27, 2018
[comics] The Evil Scientist’s Notes for the Press Conference‘Say GENERAL PUBLIC not HELPLESS Victims’

November 26, 2018
[games] Pokémon: The 20-year fad … A look at why Pokémon has been so popular for so long. ‘Make no mistake: The concept of trading and collecting is baked into Pokémon at its primal level. The game’s motto, “Gotta catch ’em all,” turns one of the central conceptual pillars of video game design into an explicit marketing tagline. Like socialization, acquisition has always been woven into the fabric of gaming. Eating bonus fruit for more points; gathering 100 coins for a 1-up; earning fancy hats to wear into your next team deathmatch: Pokémon applies that element to a real-world analog — bug collecting — but adds a fantasy element in which those virtual combat beetles appear as cute, memorable creatures of all stripes.’
November 22, 2018
[watchmen] The Watchmen movie proves you can be faithful to a comic and still miss its whole damn point … The Onion AV Club on the Watchmen movie. ‘From another perspective, the Watchmen movie is also a total debacle, one that fundamentally misunderstands the entire point of the book. To Moore, heroes are either ineffectual and useless, or they’re fearsome fanatics out to destroy lives. The impulses that produces these heroes are bad impulses. They’re about domination. There’s nothing cool about them. And yet Snyder can’t help but make everything look as cool as it possibly can.’
November 21, 2018
[conspiracy] Inside the Flat Earth Conference, Where the World’s Oldest Conspiracy Theory Is Hot Again‘Hughes and his Ozman are members of a Flat Earth group that describes itself as “anti-media” “autohoaxers.” “We are the ONLY opposition to the controlled opposition,” the paper says of the group. “Controlled opposition” is a truther term for efforts to undermine conspiracy groups. “Autohoaxers” are a movement that reflexively declares every significant event a hoax, sometimes just for argument’s sake. The group’s manifesto, then, is an appeal to seed confusion and dismantle established facts, in order to let conspiracy run rampant.Days before the conference, I try entering the group’s chat channel on Discord, a messaging app. Before I’m banned (almost immediately, by users who announce “spy!” when I join) I notice most people have adopted near-identical usernames bashing one of the Flat Earth community’s Tim Ozmans. They’ve taken up Fepe, a Flat Earth-specific variant on the alt-right meme Pepe. Flat Earth is weird, but this is weird-weird. This is shitposting into oblivion. This is the information equivalent of clear-cutting a forest.’
November 20, 2018
[mystery] The Mystery of the Havana Syndrome … a deep dive into the mysterious ailments effecting US Embassy staff in Cuba.

Before the victims arrived, in August, Smith convened a meeting of specialists at the university. Some of them were skeptical and wondered if the symptoms were psychosomatic. But their skepticism vanished when they saw the patients. “There was not one individual on the team who was not convinced that this was a real thing,” Smith said.

On August 20, 2017, Lee was flown to Philadelphia. For three days, she was subjected to a battery of tests, including MRI scans and exercises in which she stood on a moving platform and tried to keep her balance as it tilted. She fell nearly every time.

Lee and her doctors didn’t know what to call the mystery condition, so some of them referred to it as the Thing. (Smith said other names came later, including Immaculate Concussion and Havana Syndrome.) At the end of the testing, Lee told one of the specialists that she didn’t think she had the Thing. The specialist replied, “Oh, it’s definitely the Thing.”

November 19, 2018
[batman] Professional Artists Draw Batman… With Their Eyes Closed … the one below is by Jock.

November 16, 2018
[comics] Blinded By The Hype: An Affectionate Character Assassination [Part 1 | Part 2] … Alan Moore on Stan Lee in 1983- Alan’s postion on Lee has hardened over the years but this is still a fascinating read. ‘I’ve often noticed that the most sparkling examples of the industry at the peak of it’s form seem to have an ultimately deleterious effect upon the medium as a whole. As a for instance, the original E.C. Mad comic, undeniably brilliant in it’s own right, has doomed us to a situation where any new humour magazine that appears is almost forced by law to have a title associated with mental illness (Cracked, Sick, Crazy, Frantic, panic, Madhouse, etc. etc.) and features a pale imitation of Mad’s stock in trade genre parodies without reflecting any of the wonderful drive and imagination of the original. The same is true for Stan Lee.’
November 15, 2018
[comics] Remembering when T. Rex frontman Marc Bolan interviewed Stan Lee, 1975 … Bolan discussed interviewing Lee whilst being interviewed by Marvel UK’s Neil Tennant! ‘A time when the T. Rex singer would host a BBC radio show and interviewed his heroes. One of those heroes, it would seem, was the former editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee. “It was nice meeting Stan last year, he was lovely to interview,” Bolan told Tennant. “Really he’s a hustler, a solid gold easy hustler! That’s just the way Comic guys should be, he’s got such a lot of energy. We talked about the possibility of me creating a superhero for him. Something along the lines of Electric Warrior, a twenty-first century Conan. In fact, I don’t like Conan as a character—I think he should be something less of a barbarian, more like one of Michael Moorcock’s characters,” Bolan added.’
November 14, 2018
November 12, 2018
[politics] How to explain Jacob Rees-Mogg? … An attempt at understanding Jacob Rees-Mogg – reminds me a little of Adam Curtis. ‘Rees-Mogg’s journey also helps explain his increasingly powerful but still quite opaque son, Jacob: not just as a supporter of Brexit, but as an unsentimental and nimble “sovereign individual” of exactly the type his father envisaged. Simultaneously, Rees-Mogg Jr has managed to become a successful player in the modern, borderless financial industries, and a nationalist politician with an instantly recognisable retro image. He has seduced some Labour MPs with his old-fashioned manners; and he has met privately in a Mayfair hotel with the would-be guru of the international far right, Steve Bannon. This lack of squeamishness about how the conservative establishment holds on to political and economic power has been passed down the Rees-Mogg generations.’
November 8, 2018
[truecrime] Is Our Love of True Crime Shows Really About Social Justice? … more analysis of the True Crime documentary genre. ‘While audiences were divided over Steven Avery’s guilt following the first season of Making a Murderer, most agreed that the evidence presented in the documentary and at his trial—at least what they saw—made a strong argument for it to be reexamined. Making is less about a case being closed and more about how Avery was prosecuted, which is why series co-directors Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos prefer to call it a “social justice” series, rather than a true crime one. “I think what scares me about [the true crime label] is often people think it’s fetishizing death or somehow exploiting someone’s tragedy, and that’s certainly not at all what we were about,” Ricciardi told Deadline.’
November 7, 2018
[comics] A Crowded Life in Comics – Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson … Some amusing memories from John Adcock of meeting Bob Kane. ‘The second interesting occurrence was related to a sketch of Batman and Robin. I think it was during my first visit. He asked if I would like a drawing of Batman. Sure; thank you! He brought out a huge sheet of Ross Board (a drawing paper with a patterned grain), and with a Flair pen, in one corner started drawing the famous outline of Batman’s head, bat-ears (or whatever they are) and all… until the right “ear” was drawn shorter than the one on the left. A curse under his breath, and Bob spun the paper and started drawing in another corner. A similar discrepancy. To myself, I thought, “Why not do a pencil preliminary?” and “Hasn’t he drawn Batman a million times?” The fourth time was a charm…’
November 6, 2018
[comics] Early Work from Brian Bolland, Dave Gibbons and Carlos Ezquerra … from the Wizard comic in 1976. (Spotted on Lew Stringer’s Blog.)

November 5, 2018
[comics] JAKA’S STORY: What It Was in 1988, and What Cerebus Used to Mean … Some Thoughts on Dave Sim and Cerebus. ‘MELMOTH was spent talking about the illness and slow death of Oscar Wilde, at a time people were still dying regularly from AIDS and little was even being tried to stop it. It was deeply sensitive and empathetic. And I still see nothing insincere in Dave’s empathy and affinity to Oscar Wilde, both in the more fictionalized version of Oscar here, who is never not entertaining, but also MELMOTH where it’s virtually the real man himself. That’s what makes later on so baffling. Immediately after he acted like he was purging every bit of that…’
November 2, 2018
[trump] The Empty Core of the Trump Mystique … Donald Trump and Nihilism … ‘A nihilist is someone who dedicates himself to not giving a shit, who thinks all meanings are shit, and who yearns with all his heart for the “aesthetic pleasure” of seeing the shit hit the fan. Arguing with a nihilist is like intimidating a suicide bomber: The usual threats and enticement have no effect. I suspect that is part of the appeal for both: the facile transcendence of placing oneself beyond all powers of persuasion. A nihilist is above you and your persnickety arguments in the same way that Trump fancies himself above the law.’