‘His testimony offers a compelling argument against conspiracy theories. He spent between five and seven years roaming the corridors of power like the Invisible Man, wandering into Pentagon offices, rifling through files, and he found no particular smoking gun about anything. He unearthed nothing to suggest a US involvement in 9/11, nothing to suggest a UFO cover-up. Nothing, he told me, except two things…’
[moon] To the Moon – with extreme engineering … a look at the story behind The Lunar Orbiter programme – a series of missions which mapped the moon’s surface before the Apollo landings … ‘The Lunar Orbiter astonishes even today. It had to take pictures, scan and develop the film on board, and broadcast it successfully back to earth. Naturally, the orbiter had to provide its own power, orient itself without intervention from ground control, and maintain precise temperature conditions and air pressure for the film processing, and protect itself from solar radiation and cosmic rays – all within severe size and weight constraints. This was far beyond the capabilities of the newest spy satellites, which back then returned the film to earth in a canister, retrieved by a specially kitted-out plane. The Orbiter challenge was the Apollo challenge in miniature.’
[future] How Is America Going To End? The world’s leading futurologists have four theories … ‘For nearly three hours, we run through America-killers that range from the believable to the science fiction-y: rising sea levels, a collapse of entitlement programs, an attack by a foreign power on American soil, a pandemic 10 times worse than the 1918 flu, global domination by a space-faring nation that uses geo-engineering to “turn off” climate change, and the emergence of a transnational class of biologically enhanced supermen and women (“They’re all about 6-2—and that’s the girls,” Schwartz says) who identify more with one another than with any particular nation…’
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August 6, 2009
[comics] Thoughts on the Forthcoming Howard Chaykin Blackhawk Collection … a look at one of Chaykin’s less well known comics from the 1980s … ‘This is a quintessentially Chaykin image. Why? Well, just gaze into Blackhawk’s eyes, and you’ll see the horrible truth: that Blackhawk totally seduced and bedded that swastika before shooting it to death and setting it on fire.’
[drugs] Risks Of Drug That May Have Killed Michael Jackson, Propofol, Or Diprivan, Emerge … ‘Wischmeyer began making informal inquiries, and was shocked by what he learned. “People would reach into the needle discord boxes full of used syringes and pull out old vials of Propofol, not knowing what patient it had been used on or whether it was spoiled. That’s pretty extreme,” he said. In another case, an addict fell asleep at his desk so frequently that his lolling forehead bore a perpetual bruise.’
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[tv] Meth in the madness … Louis Theroux on Crystal Meth … ‘Meth is “ghetto Prozac” – a primitive and dangerous pain-reliever, which goes on to aggravate the very pain and chaos which people take it to avoid.’
CLOWES: There’s a book that came out more than ten years ago − a 50th-anniversary index of the members of the National Cartoonists Society. It’s a book of photos and short bios of hundreds of old-time American cartoonists, and for some reason a few “younger” − I was thirty-seven at the time − non-members, such as myself, were included.
There are dozens of photos of these old codgers smiling with these stupid grins on their faces. But you can see the sadness underneath. It’s such a grim document. My friend [and fellow cartoonist] Chris Ware told me he had to actually hide his copy of the book, because he can’t bear to look at it.
QUESTION: What did you both find grim about it?
CLOWES: All these lives spent behind the drawing board; decades on a daily strip that no one remembers.
[comics] Watchmen’s Dave Gibbons on graphic art, computers and the dreaded Comic Sans … ‘There are people who specialise in lettering, and I’ve had my hand lettering made into a digital font. I picked up a copy of the Dandy the other week, and I was amazed to see that it was completely lettered in my hand-lettering font. It was quite a thrill, really, having been a Dandy reader years and years ago.’
[comics] Recommended: Harker by Roger Gibson and Vince Danks … really nicely done British small-press crime comic. Harker – the classiest occult detective TV show you’ll never see (a review from Richard Bruton): ‘The genre trappings are all there. The police procedural investigation, the crime scene investigation, the autopsy, the legwork, the finding of the clues; it’s all there, exactly where it should be. Add to that the mysterious supernatural goings on to get one really great comic book series. But on top of a really lovely idea, really well executed the thing reads incredibly well…’
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August 20, 2009
[war] The Wandering Soul Psyop Tape Of Vietnam … ‘Listen to the eerie sounds of “The Wandering Soul” – also known as “Ghost Tape Number 10” – that was broadcast by loudspeakers installed on Swifts and other units during “Chieu Hoi” and Psychological Warfare missions to “taunt” the enemy.’
[books] Dan Brown Oxfam’s ‘Most Donated’ — BBC News … ‘Dan Brown’s works are being offloaded to second-hand shops faster than anyone’s. Oxfam named him the “most donated” author at its chain of charity shops. John Grisham, Ian Rankin, Danielle Steel and Helen Fielding were the other high-profile authors to achieve the dubious honour of making the top five.’
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August 24, 2009
[comics] Comica Festival 2009 … the website for the London’s comic festival – guests this year include Joe Sacco, Eddie Campbell and Bryan Talbot … ‘Preparations are well under way for the sixth Comica Festival scheduled for November 6 to 26, 2009, to be held at the ICA and other London venues.’
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[tech] Xkcd’s Tech Support Cheatsheet … follow this flowchart and remember the other other golden rule: “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” and you will have a lucrative and rewarding career in IT Support.
[watergate] Deep Throat: An Institutional Analysis … a smart investigative essay from 1992 which correctly guesses the identity of Watergate’s Deep Throat … ‘There has been considerable speculation that Deep Throat never existed, that he must have been either a complete fiction or a composite of several people. My memory of those early months of Watergate is otherwise: that there was a specific individual, from the FBI, and Woodward had special access to him. What seems important, with two decades of hindsight, is that in our national preoccupation with personality and celebrity in the nation’s capital, we have concentrated too much on Deep Throat as an individual and not enough on the underlying bureaucratic forces.’
[twitter] Yet another Twitter worth taking a look at: Shit My Dad Says … ‘You need to flush the toilet more than once…No, YOU, YOU specifically need to. You know what, use a different toilet. This is my toilet.’