1 November 2009
[war] Inside the Apocalyptic Soviet Doomsday Machine … fascinating look at the dead-man’s switch the Soviet’s have deployed as part of their strategy of nuclear deterrence … ‘Perimeter was never meant as a traditional doomsday machine. The Soviets had taken game theory one step further than Kubrick, Szilard, and everyone else: They built a system to deter themselves. By guaranteeing that Moscow could hit back, Perimeter was actually designed to keep an overeager Soviet military or civilian leader from launching prematurely during a crisis.’
[life] I Don’t Know What I Did Before The Internet… (more…)
2 November 2009
[movies] Rediscovered: A Wonderful Pic Of Stanley Kubrick on set of 2001(more…)
[tv] Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome‘Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome (also SORAS or rapid aging) is the term used to describe the aging of a television character (usually an infant or child, but also sometimes a teenager) that is faster than they should be aging, given the timeline of the show. The process is usually done to allow for more rapid character development, and to allow the writers to develop new storylines for the character.’
3 November 2009
[funny] Go Look: Gonzo Journalism

Gonzo Journalism...

[funny] Worst-Case Scenario Fork Lift Truck Accident(more…)
4 November 2009
[space] The Average Color of the Universe‘The answer, depicted above, is a conditionally perceived shade of beige.’
[funny] The Homeopathic Webcomic‘Diluted With Blank Pixels 1,000,000 Times…’
5 November 2009
[comics] A List Of Favorite Comic Book Cliches‘We’ll always have a soft spot for Julie Newmar as Catwoman in the 1966 “Batman” TV show, if only for the matter-of-fact way that she told Batman that they could both be happy if he’d just let her kill Robin.’
[funny] Glanced At: This Is Going To End Badly / l337 Eye Chart.
6 November 2009
[music] The Music Of Grant Morrison: Torturted Soul / October … Grant Morrison on vocals with The Fauves‘There was talk of some sort of CD of GM related stuff being collected a few years back but I don’t think anything ever came of it. A pity. Anyway, I have no record sleeve scan, so here’s a picture of singer and cat. Meow.’
[comics] Rediscovered: Joe Matt’s How To Be Cheap (more…)
8 November 2009
[twitter] Nigel Molesworth is on Twitter: ‘sunda wot a dredful da it lede to kontemplasion of ones MORTALITE o how werey stale flatt & unproffitabel seem to me all the uses ect ect’ [link]
9 November 2009
[funny] Vague Scientist‘Apparently reality is sort of a Jammie Dodger but with bad matter where the jam would be.’
[comics] 70 Facts You Didn’t Know About Marvel Comics‘Artist John Romita Jr based the Daredevil villain Typhoid Mary on his ex-wife.’
10 November 2009
[internet] Richard Nixon’s Outrageous Plan That Didn’t Happen — The Internet … (spotted in The Book Of Lists #2 from 1980) …

the wired nation

11 November 2009
[movies] In Praise Of The Sci-Fi Corridor … On the corridors in Alien: ‘Ridley Scott knows that corridors matter in a horror (or ‘haunted house’) movie, but these marvellous sets are also being showcased to sell the gritty and grimy, commercial and industrial reality of the Nostromo as well. The upper sections related to the command deck were dirtied down with gold and black paint after a reshuffle of sections in order to convey the grittier world inhabited and Parker and Brett on the engineering level.’ [via Metafilter]
12 November 2009
[funny] Lamebook … a real guilty pleasure website … (more…)
13 November 2009
Facebook Status Bolsters Alibi In Armed Robbery Case‘His defence lawyer, Robert Reuland, admitted that it might be possible for anyone who knew Bradford Junior’s username and password to have made the update, while dismissing the scenario as highly unlikely. “This implies a level of criminal genius that you would not expect from a young boy like this. He is not Dr. Evil,” Reuland told The New York Times…’
14 November 2009
[fun] Go play: Drench … a fun, simple flash game.
16 November 2009
[bdj] Now that I’m Not Anonymous — Belle de Jour outed herself yesterday in the Sunday Times. Old time UK bloggers may remember her other blog Methylsalicylate from 2000/2001. The Times described it as a “science blog” but as I remember it was a link blog in the style inspired by Jorn Barger. That’s right… I’ll say it again: Belle de Jour was a LINK BLOGGER.

Me and Belle de Jour – “Could it be Brooke?”

Let’s break out of this self-imposed link blogging format for just one post… it’s not every day the biggest secret you’ve ever kept gets revealed on the front pages of the national press.

I have an admission to make about Belle de Jour.

It’s time for me to admit that I solved the puzzle of her identity almost at the very start after she (as Belle) sent me the link to her new blog to add to the list of Updated UK Blogs. Sending the link to me implied somebody who knew quite a lot about how UK blogging worked at the time and I found it hard to believe that an escort that had starting blogging would use me to announce the blog to the world. Then, after BdJ proceeded to knock the ball out of the park in the blog writing department, I started to seriously consider if it was somebody I knew.

In late 2003 I was well placed to guess Belle’s identity. I’d been blogging myself for three years at that point, I had met many London bloggers and briefly read most of the UK-written blogs during 2000 and 2001. UK blogging was (and still is) full of young, smart people and anyone of them might have written Belle’s blog. I never believed that a professional writer could be BdJ – apparently effortless blog writing takes practice, and required an understanding of a new medium which not many people had at the time. So I asked myself: which blogger is it?

A couple of months went past, and after Belle de Jour won the award for Best Written Blog from the Guardian and the whole BdJ phenomenon kicked off, I had my eureka moment – I was sitting on the tube one morning and suddenly thought: ’Could it be Brooke?’

Brooke at the time ran a couple of blogs – A link blog called Methylsalicylate and another science blog called Cosmas. She also had done a few short, smart pieces of writing online – The Autopsy, What The Dead Remember and one called Malted. Malted was about whiskey and was the bit of writing that gave it all away. I remembered reading Malted a few months previously and realised the style and content was reminiscent of Belle’s and was suddenly convinced I had the answer.

I then spent the first three months of 2004 “internet stalking” Brooke Magnanti, collecting together a whole bunch of circumstantial evidence that Brooke was indeed Belle. I also slowly became aware of the heightened stakes, as Belle became increasingly famous and obviously wanted to maintain her pseudonymity.

For a while I believed that Brooke would get outed immediately – but it turns out the British press could not investigate anything not handed to them on a plate, and were never looking in the right place – the small clique of people who starting blogging in the UK in 2000/2001. Belle de Jour remained pseudonymous and the mystery remained intact even after two TV series based on her books.

During this time I published a googlewack hidden in my blog – the words “Belle de Jour”, “Brooke Magnanti” and “Methylsalicylate” were published and available in Google’s index on a single page on the internet – my weblog. This “coincidental” collection of links could in no way reveal Belle’s identity. But I wondered if anybody else knew the secret and felt that analysing my web traffic might confirm my strongly-held belief. If someone googled “Belle de Jour” “Brooke Magnanti”, I would see it in the search referrers for LinkMachineGo.

I waited five years for somebody to hit that page (I’m patient). Two weeks ago I started getting a couple of search requests a day from an IP address at Associated Newspapers (who publish the Daily Mail) searching for “brooke magnanti” and realised that Belle’s pseudonymity might be coming to an end. I contacted Belle via Twitter and let her know what was happening. I didn’t expect to hear anything back.

And then early last weekend I received an email signed by Brooke that confirmed that she was outing herself in the Sunday Times because the Daily Mail had discovered her identity.

It was finally over, the secret was out. I no longer have to worry about inadvertently revealing her identity. If I’m honest, solving the puzzle of the biggest literary and blogging mystery of the last six years has been fun and exciting. I’m just really disappointed I don’t get to dig up a gold hare as a prize!

One last thing: Good Luck Brooke, I’m very glad you’ve managed to maintain some control over how and when your real identity was revealed to the public. I think I probably owe you a bottle of your favourite whiskey. Let me know what you like and I’ll see what I can do. – Darren/LMG.

Update #1: Belle has confirmed the story in the comments to this post.

Update #2: Googlewack Screengrab Published

Update #3: How Belle de Jour’s Secret Ally Googlewacked The Press – the Guardian cover the story.

Update #4: The End

17 November 2009
[bdj] Add a blog to the updated list? … The original email Belle de Jour sent asking to be added to the Updated UK Blogs List.
18 November 2009
[bdj] Reg hack beats ‘Belle de Jour’ sex rap‘The stigma of suspected blogging followed [Andrew] Orlowski until yesterday, when Dr Brooke Magnanti, a Bristol research scientist, outed herself in The Sunday Times. Today our man, who is rarely mistaken for Billie Piper, declined to comment from his North London brothel.’
[bdj] The Belle de Jour Googlewack … this screengrab was taken in 2005.
19 November 2009
[bdj] How Belle de Jour’s Secret Ally Googlewhacked The Press … First personal post I ever do makes the front page of the Guardian. Never again … ‘The sympathetic online diarist, who gives his name only as Darren…’
20 November 2009
[bdj] For Whom The Belle Tells … another old-time UK blogger breaks cover and admits he guessed who Belle de Jour was … ‘The first blog to link to BDJ was in fact this humble blog, Parallax View. And the lead? An email from a fellow blogger casually asking whether I’d noticed on the UK Blogs aggregator a blog by a prostitute. The blogger? Oh, you’re ahead of me… Dr Brooke Magnanti.’
21 November 2009
[bdj] Circumstantial Evidence – Belle de Jour “Signed” Her First Post … as also noted by Troubled Diva

Circumstantial Evidence - Belle Signed Her First Post As Brooke

22 November 2009
[quote] ‘I worry. I mean, little things bother me. I’m a worrier. I mean, little insignificant details – I lose my appetite. I can’t eat. My wife, she says to me, “you know, you can really be a pain.” ’ — Columbo.
23 November 2009
[goog] Mystery Google … the results are what the person before you searched for. I got MLIA.
[bbc] Melvyn Bragg history show In Our Time to go online in BBC Archive‘The show, which chronicles the history of ideas, is among the first BBC programmes to have its complete archive made accessible online…’
24 November 2009
[funny] Internet Vices‘YouTube is shots of tequila. “Just ONE” to humor your friend quickly turns into 4 or 5…’
25 November 2009
[simpsons] The 14 Most Awesome Fake Products From The Simpsons‘Krusty’s low standards for product endorsement have resulted in a slew of hilarious products. One of the best is the Krusty Home Pregnancy Test (warning: may cause birth defects).’
[books] Is James Ellroy The Best Judge Of His Own Novels? … James Ellroy on The Cold Six Thousand‘Ellroy was already there, sitting on a dais, dressed casually – khaki jumper with suede elbow pads, chinos and surprisingly fashionable shoes – more geography teacher on a field trip than “the demon dog, the foul owl with the death growl”. But there was nothing ordinary about Ellroy’s voice. Deep, rhythmic and gruff, his voice imbued the opening passage from American Tabloid with such ferocity and menace it was pure visceral theatre.’
26 November 2009
[comics] Go Look: Jack Kirby’s Inglourious Basterds Comic Book Adaptation!
27 November 2009
[comics] Skin … The Forbidden Planet blog remembers Skin the long out-of-print comic from Peter Milligan and Brendan McCarthy‘McCarthy’s art is astonishing, from the brutal leer on Martin’s face in one scene to the psychedelic, drug-fuelled sex scene with the young skinhead and some hippies (aided in no small part by Carol Swain’s brilliant colouring) which is a great example of how bloody amazing McCarthy’s art often is. Both art and story combine perfectly to tell a powerful tale of a disturbing subject and do so while denying the reader the normal emotional crutch of having a loveable but put-down hero to root for…’
29 November 2009
[books] In Cold Blood, Half A Century On … revisiting the senseless murder of four people, Kansas and Truman Capote …

For Truman Capote the outcome of his sojourn in west Kansas was decidedly mixed. In Cold Blood, which he immodestly heralded as a new form of non-fiction novel, was received with delirious approval; Norman Mailer dubbed Perry as one of the great characters in American literature. The book earned its author more than $2m, which he used to buy homes in Manhattan, the Hamptons, Palm Springs and Switzerland. But by all accounts such heavenly success also went to his head, and contributed to his downward spiral in a haze of lavish parties, drink and drugs. He failed to write another substantial work, and died in 1984.

30 November 2009
[comics] Go Look: Bill Sienkiewicz art for the 1980’s Dungeons and Dragons cartoon(more…)