[comics] Bill Sienkiewicz speaks about Big Numbers #3 … ‘But with Big Numbers one of the demands – prerequisites – I’d placed upon myself was to work almost exclusively from the model as possible. I was going for as great a degree of illustrative photographic verisimilitude as I could muster. Dammit, I was going to adhere to the accurate reference no matter what. It was, in retrospect, a vain attempt to control everything – everything – completely, as things swirled and collided in midair all around. This was my Stanley Kubrick period. Of course, the more I tried to control everything, the more Real Life kicked my ass. Up and down the Route 95 corridor.’ [thanks @slovobooks]
[politics] Steve Bell’s Political Cartoons of the Year … On David Cameron: ‘By way of a bonus, Cameron does not favour the depiction. He came up to me at a Spectator party at the Tory conference in October, and asked me how long I was going to carrry on with it, before advising me: “You can only push a condom so far”.’
[blogs] The Blog in 2011: More Pictures, More Words … the state of the blogging art at the beginning of 2011 … ‘Remember the early criticism of Twiter: “No one cares what you had for breakfast!” Who is tweeting about breakfast anymore? They are linking to an Instagram photo of breakfast or an article explaining how few people eat breakfast and why this is so horrible for the world. I’m still not a huge fan of links on Twitter. Most of the time I’m checking it on my phone when I don’t have time to read something more than 140 characters. So I favorite-star the tweet and go back to read it later. But then when I go to check that “awesome must read link” it turns out to be…oh, right, Julian Assange in a santa costume. Thanks! But that’s just me. The rest of the web likes using Twitter as a mass-aggregated link stream or it wouldn’t be operating that way.’
[phones] Simplest Phones Open to ‘SMS of Death’ … ‘In the worst cases, including the Nokia and Sony Ericsson, the message would disconnect the phone and force it to reboot, without registering the fact of the message’s receipt — in most cases forcing the operator’s network to continue sending the message and triggering the shutdown cycle again. Fixing the problem required putting the SIM card into a new, unsusceptible phone.’
The recent tragedy where two hot air balloonists were killed was quite rightly headline news.” revealed one British reporter.
“But if it had been two prostitutes flying that balloon it wouldn’t have got anywhere near the same coverage, though it might have made page 5 of The Sun, with a headline something like Slag, Bang, Wallop!”
“It would take about twelve prostitutes to die in a balloon crash to make headline news. I’m not sure why twelve prostitutes would be flying a balloon, but I guess if you had enough money and a fetish for that sort of thing then anything is possible.
What a shame, I remark, that he never got to work with Stanley Kubrick, the king of the neverending takes. And with that, Reeves is off and running.
“I would’ve been his wet dream!” he enthuses. “After take 400, Kubrick would’ve been, [adopts grizzled Brooklyn accent] ‘All right, cut!’ and I’d be, like, ‘Stanley, can I do one more?’ ‘Whaaat?’ ‘Look, I know I’m just drinking this glass of water, but I think I can find another side to this. Let’s just do one more, OK?’ ‘Arrrgh, OK, Reeves.’ You know what? I would’ve broken Kubrick. ‘Please, sir, can I have some more?’ ‘Take 600. All you gotta do is walk across the road.’ ‘Come on, Stanley, one more!'”
[comics] Dan Clowes interviewed by Tom Spurgeon … ‘I can’t say that I would never do another comic and call it Eightball. I say there’s actually a very high probability that I would do that some day. Kind of for old time’s sake, or something. Or just to kind of rethink what a comic book means at some point. But right now it sure doesn’t feel like the thing to do. After David Boring I really should have stopped doing comic books. It made no sense to do Ice Haven and The Death-Ray as comic books. I was just so married to that format for so long, that I couldn’t have the first iterations of those work in anything but a comic book. In retrospect that seems crazy. To this day I can’t explain to people who aren’t enmeshed in the world of comics what The Death-Ray is.’
There are many different ways to cook eggs but most of them are purely of interest to invalids, children and the feeble-minded. The correct or ‘proper English egg’ is fried with lightly browned edges in the fat left over from the bacon. At the last minute, oil is flicked over the top of the yolk to seal it. This dangerous procedure causes the yolk to form a perfect, golden, viscid capsule, the violation of which with a rough shard of toast, is the nearest that an Englishman will permit himself to unbridled sexual ecstasy.
[internet] Five Emotions Invented By The Internet … ‘The state of being ‘installed’ at a computer or laptop for an extended period of time without purpose, characterized by a blurry, formless anxiety undercut with something hard like desperation.’
[books] How Novels Came To Terms With The Internet … ‘It is what the internet lures out of us – hubris, daydreams, avarice, obsessions – that makes it so potent and so volatile. TV’s power is serenely impervious; it does all the talking, and we can only listen or turn it off. But the internet is at least partly us; we write it as well as read it, perform for it as well as watch it, create it as well as consume it. Watching TV is a solitary activity that feels like a communal one, while the internet is a communal experience masquerading as solitude.’
[tags: Life][permalink][Comments Off on Do Nothing For 2 Minutes]
January 31, 2011
[comics] Is Palookaville #20 The Last Comic Book? … ‘I bought Palookaville #20, mainly because I wanted to see the pictures of Seth’s cardboard city (which he says he fantasizes about as he drifts off to sleep each night), not because of the comics.’
[guardian] Their Questions Answered … a blog that attempts to answer the rhetorical questions posed on the letters page of the Guardian Weekend magazine every week … ‘No rhetorical questions were posed in the Letters page of the Guardian Weekend magazine, Saturday 15 January 2011. As a result we are going to spend the next week reassessing our lives and purposes.’
[movies] Why The King’s Speech Is A Gross Falsification … Christopher Hitchens On Winston Churchill, Edward VII, and The King’s Speech … ‘[Edward VII] remained what is only lightly hinted in the film: a firm admirer of the Third Reich who took his honeymoon there with Wallis Simpson, the woman for whom he forfeited the throne, and was photographed both receiving and giving the Hitler salute. Of his few friends and cronies, the majority were Blackshirt activists such as the odious “Fruity” Metcalfe. (Royal biographer Philip Ziegler tried his best to clean up this squalid story a few years ago but eventually gave up.) During his sojourns on the European mainland after his abdication, Edward, then the Duke of Windsor, never ceased to maintain highly irresponsible contacts with Hitler and his puppets and seemed to be advertising his readiness to become a puppet or “regent” if the tide went the other way. This is why Churchill eventually had him removed from Europe and given the sinecure of a colonial governorship in the Bahamas, where he could be well-supervised.’
[crime] The Case Of The Vanishing Blonde … engrossing true-life story about the brutal rape of a woman in Miami and the private detective who followed the leads hunting down a serial rapist … ‘It was about weighing the detective’s fee against a chance to limit their exposure. Brennan didn’t care what their reasons were; he just wanted to keep going. Old instincts had been aroused. He had never even met the victim, but with her attacker in his sights, he wanted him badly. Here was a guy who was walking around almost a year later, certain he had gotten away with his crime. Brennan wanted what all detectives want: the gotcha! He wanted to see the look on the guy’s face.’
[wikileaks] The Blast Shack … Bruce Sterling on Julian Assange, Wikileaks, Bradley Manning and more…
Bradley Manning believes the sci-fi legendry of the underground. He thinks that he can leak a quarter of a million secret cables, protect himself with neat-o cryptography, and, magically, never be found out. So Manning does this, and at first he gets away with it, but, still possessed by the malaise that haunts his soul, he has to brag about his misdeed, and confess himself to a hacker confidante who immediately ships him to the authorities.
No hacker story is more common than this. The ingenuity poured into the machinery is meaningless. The personal connections are treacherous. Welcome to the real world.
So Private Manning, cypherpunk, is immediately toast.
[comics] Respect Due: former 2000AD editor Steve MacManus … ‘Writers like Wagner, Mills, Grant and Alan Moore blossomed. New scribes such as Grant Morrison and Peter Milligan emerged. Great artists like Gibbons, Gibson, Bolland and McMahon did some of their finest work in this period on 2000AD. Amazing new talents like Simon Bisley, Glenn Fabry and Steve Dillon were nurtured in the comic.’
Is Facebook Making Us Sad? … ‘Facebook is, after all, characterized by the very public curation of one’s assets in the form of friends, photos, biographical data, accomplishments, pithy observations, even the books we say we like. Look, we have baked beautiful cookies. We are playing with a new puppy. We are smiling in pictures (or, if we are moody, we are artfully moody.) Blandness will not do, and with some exceptions, sad stuff doesn’t make the cut, either. The site’s very design—the presence of a “Like” button, without a corresponding “Hate” button—reinforces a kind of upbeat spin doctoring.’
[comics] Bane … noted Batmanologist Chris Sims discusses the orgins and history of one of the Batman villains in the next Chris Nolan film … ‘Bane is essentially the most successful attempt at creating The Evil Version of Batman.’
[history] The London Pedestrian Crossing of Doom … the place where one man’s thoughts later caused the deaths of a quarter of a million Japanese citizens …‘We’re on the corner of Southampton Row and Russell Square in leafy Bloomsbury. There’s no plaque to mark the event but this is the unlikely spot where the nuclear chain reaction was first conceived.’
Lustig pointed me to a recent corporate study that identified “chief memory officer” as a kind of unofficial role taken on by someone (often mom) in many families — the person who is paying attention to the idea that there may be no physical scrapbook or set of journals to hand down to future generations and that bits-and-bytes memory objects need to be preserved somehow.
[space] Space Stasis … Neal Stephenson takes a fascinating look at path dependence and lock-in within the business, idea and design of rockets… ‘To employ a commonly used metaphor, our current proficiency in rocket-building is the result of a hill-climbing approach; we started at one place on the technological landscape – which must be considered a random pick, given that it was chosen for dubious reasons by a maniac – and climbed the hill from there, looking for small steps that could be taken to increase the size and efficiency of the device. Sixty years and a couple of trillion dollars later, we have reached a place that is infinitesimally close to the top of that hill. Rockets are as close to perfect as they’re ever going to get. For a few more billion dollars we might be able to achieve a microscopic improvement in efficiency or reliability, but to make any game-changing improvements is not merely expensive; it’s a physical impossibility.’
[space] James Burke On Thermos Flasks … ‘You see, all three men had understood that certain gases ignite and that the thermos flask permits you to store vast quantities of those gases safely in the frozen liquid form until you want to ignite them; at which point, you take the top off the flask, the gases evaporate, you apply a light, and boom! Now, two gases do that better than any other. It was Oberth’s assistant, who put them together most efficiently. His name was Wernher von Braun…’
[anime] Neon Genesis Evangelion: (Hideaki Anno) Reborn Again (and Again) … huge Metafilter post on Neon Genesis Evangelion … ‘What makes Eva so good is that as the series goes on, the deeper frameworks behind it become more and more apparent. It goes from a fairly standard ‘plucky teens in mechas vs giant monsters’; to a drama with explorations of growing up, shyness, cowardice, love, heroism etc; through a conspiracy reveal with betrayal and intrigue; to an all-out, reason-defying, biblically-proportioned eschaton.’
‘After the Internet collapsed, Mr. ElShabrawy, 35, whose company provides Internet service to 2,000 subscribers and develops software for foreign and domestic customers, made urgent inquiries with the Ministry of Communications, to no avail. So he scrambled to re-establish his own communications.
When he, too, noticed that domestic fiber-optic cables were open, he had a moment of exhilaration, remembering that he could link up servers directly and establish messaging using an older system called Internet Relay Chat. But then it dawned on him that he had always assumed he could download the necessary software via the Internet and had saved no copy.
“You don’t have your tools — you don’t have anything,” Mr. ElShabrawy said he realized as he stared at the dead lines at his main office in Mansoura, about 60 miles outside Cairo.
[tags: Internet][permalink][Comments Off on Patchy Details On How Egypt Pulled The Plug On the Internet]
[tags: Life][permalink][Comments Off on Forces Are Aligning Quietly]
February 22, 2011
[movies] The Decade’s Best In Film Villiany … a list of great movie villains from the Noughties … ‘The Joker reminds Batman exactly how close he is to madness, but he also reminds him why he does what he does. The two need each other. They are what happens when “an unstoppable force meets an immovable object”, and they are “destined to do this forever,” if we’re lucky.’a
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February 23, 2011
[food] Consider Baked Beans … ‘All your life, you’ve been lied to. Turns out they’re not bloody baked beans, they’re stewed beans.’
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[books] The Bobby Fischer Defense … Garry Kasparov On Bobby Fischer … ‘[Fischer’s] paranoia was far beyond the more calculated, even principled, “madness” of his playing years, well described by Voltaire in his Philosophical Dictionary: “Have in your madness reason enough to guide your extravagancies; and, forget not to be excessively opinionated and obstinate.” That is, purposeful and successful madness can hardly be called mad. After Fischer left chess the dark forces inside him no longer had purpose.’
People have often asked me if the Monster of Florence will ever be found. I once believed that Spezi and I could find the truth; now I am not so certain. Any crime novel, to be successful, must contain certain basic elements: there must be a motive; evidence; a trail of clues; and a process of discovery that leads, one way or another, to a conclusion. All novels, even Crime and Punishment, must come to an end.
But life, I have learned, is not so tidy. Here were murders without motive and a trail of clues apparently without end. The process of discovery has led investigators so deeply into a wilderness of falsehood that I doubt they will ever find their way out.
[tech] Self-Erasing Flash Drives Destroy Court Evidence … ‘For decades, investigators have worked with tape, floppy drives and hard drives that continue to store huge amounts of information even when the files they’re contained in are marked for deletion. Even wiping the disks isn’t always enough to permanently erase the contents. SSDs, by contrast, store data in blocks or pages of NAND-based transistor chips that must be electronically erased before they can be reused. As a result, most SSDs have firmware that automatically carries out “self healing” or “garbage collection” procedures that can permanently erase or alter files that have been marked for deletion.’
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March 4, 2011
[comics] Fantastic Four #74 Splash … a close-up look at the original art for a Jack Kirby splash page … ‘It’s funny to look at original production artwork and see where before computers came into use, the production personnel would cut out the month and date, then tape it to the publication information at the bottom of the page.’
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At the time it was published Morrison was accused of being a Nazi propagandist by people who hadn’t read the series, which lampoons Hitler constantly and mercilessly. He’s depicted as a buffoon and a lunatic, hallucinating entire conversations over cups of tea and convinced that he’s being remorselessly pursued by a trolleybus full of people with chairs for shoes. He’s as mad as a fish. At the same time he’s portrayed as a limited kind of visionary, finding the seeds of National Socialism in the rich, dark soil of the British Empire while hearing Morrissey and John Lennon singing songs from the future in his wardrobe (Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now and Working Class Hero, respectively). Morrison knew the kind of controversy he was courting, even titling the first chapter ‘What Do You Mean, Ideologically Unsound?’
[tags: Comics][permalink][Comments Off on 100 Comics To Read Before You Die]
March 9, 2011
[people] The Quaid Conspiracy … the story of how actor Randy Quaid and his wife ended up as fugatives living out of their car … ‘It was hard to wrap my mind around the web of intrigue she was spinning, with her nonstop rapid-fire delivery, a tale out of Thomas Pynchon, or perhaps just Law & Order: Los Angeles, that somehow involved the death of Michael Jackson and the “framing” of Mel Gibson. “I’ve spent three years figuring this out,” Evi said, detailing how her investigation had taken her to courthouses, record bureaus, and morgues, how she’d been knocking on strangers’ doors, looking for information. Randy listened intently, driving. I thought about how on Good Morning America he’d said how “very alive” he felt because of all this.’
[kubrick] Stanley Kubrick Interviewed In Rolling Stone … On dressing the set of Full Metal Jacket: ‘To make that kind of three-dimensional rubble, you’d have to have everything done by plasterers, modeled, and you couldn’t build that if you spent $80 million and had five years to do it. You couldn’t duplicate, oh, all those twisted bits of reinforcement. And to make rubble, you’d have to go find some real rubble and copy it. It’s the only way. If you’re going to make a tree, for instance, you have to copy a real tree. No one can “make up” a tree, because every tree has an inherent logic in the way it branches. And I’ve discovered that no one can make up a rock. I found that out in Paths of Glory. We had to copy rocks, but every rock also has an inherent logic you’re not aware of until you see a fake rock. Every detail looks right, but something’s wrong. So we had real rubble. We brought in palm trees from Spain and a hundred thousand plastic tropical plants from Hong Kong. We did little things, details people don’t notice right away, that add to the illusion. All in all, a tremendous set dressing and rubble job.’ [via Daring Fireball]
[tags: TV][permalink][Comments Off on What Is The Win/Loss Record Of The Prosecution In Law And Order?]
March 14, 2011
[life] Average Brit Has Three Mysterious Keys … ‘British people carry an average of nine keys around with them, but can identify only six of those, with no idea what the other three came from, or what they unlock…’
[science] Peak Science … ‘Lehrer borrows a metaphor from Tyler Cowen’s The Great Stagnation to argue that we’ve basically picked all the low-hanging fruit of scientific discovery – all Galileo had to do was be the first person to look at Jupiter through a telescope and he discovered four moons…’
[comics] Boy From The Boroughs … Alan Moore interviewed by Pádraig Ó Méalóid … ‘I would have been basically going through all the decades of her life, with her getting older in each one, because I liked the idea, at the time, of having a strip in 2000AD with a seventy or eighty year old woman as the title character.’ (Moore on the uncompleted books of Halo Jones)
[books] A Book Everyone Should Read? … another great book list from Ask Metafilter … ‘Another vote for “Catch 22”. It captures the essence of the twentieth century: ideology, war and the folly of bureaucracy.’
[books] Counting H.P. Lovecraft’s Favorite Words … ‘One of the things any fan of Lovecraft discovers early on is that Lovecraft was very attached to certain words. We either laugh or groan every time we hear something described as “indescribable” or called “unnamable” or “antiquarian” or “cyclopean.” And sometimes we wonder how many times he actually used the words…’ [via As Above]
The space vehicle is shoddily constructed, running dangerously low on fuel; its parachutes — though no one knows this — won’t work and the cosmonaut, Vladimir Komarov, is about to, literally, crash full speed into Earth, his body turning molten on impact. As he heads to his doom, U.S. listening posts in Turkey hear him crying in rage, “cursing the people who had put him inside a botched spaceship.
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March 26, 2011
[tech] Microsoft Spends $7.5m On IP Addresses … ‘This kind of “black market” – or “gray market” – for IP addresses has been anticipated for some time. IPv4 is now scarce, there are costs and risks associated with upgrading to IPv6, and the two protocols are expected to co-exist for years or decades to come.’
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March 28, 2011
[food] The Greggs Adventure … one man’s epic odyssey to eat and review everything in Gregg’s the Bakers … ‘I actually ate around the bubble of lemon goo, and eventually chowed down the whole lot in one go. Yeah, that’s right. Right now, as I’m typing this, I am tripping balls. I think the comedown in about an hour’s time is going to be one for the books.’
[comics] Ten Great Moments In Cerebus … ‘I’m missing some of my favourites out here, like the whole prayer sequence (“Cerebus is a bad flyspeck!”) because the pacing of the series tends to mean a ‘moment’ can be ten or fifteen pages.’
[web] Fifteen Sites That Forbid You To Link To Them … ‘Here, in 2011, are 15 sites I’ve not featured before, all of which try to prevent you linking to them (usually restricting the “right” to link to just the homepage or else requiring written consent). YOU’RE ALL IDIOTS. I have, of course, linked to them…’ [via David McCandless]
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April 1, 2011
[books] Why People Love Stieg Larsson’s Novels … ‘Another consideration that would seem to deflect charges of misogyny is simply the character of Lisbeth. She is a complicated person, alienating and poignant at the same time. Many critics have stressed her apparent coldness. In the scene of her revenge against Bjurman, her face never betrays hatred or fear. When the rape is over, she sits in a chair, smokes a cigarette, and stubs it out on his rug. (He is tied up.) Accordingly, some writers have called her a sociopath. Larsson, too, said that once, but elsewhere he described her as a grownup version of Pippi Longstocking, the badly behaved and happy nine-year-old heroine of a series of books, by Astrid Lindgren, beloved of Swedish children.’
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Trudeau has always been able to take a situation and develop its possibilities over a long arc. Sometimes this has led to slapstick, as in the antics of Uncle Duke, whose drug seizures make the top of his head flip open to let bats fly out or release Mini-D, who is his Id. Sometimes it has led to gentle mocking of do-gooders, as in some of Lacey Davenport’s polite crusades. But he has never developed a situation more movingly or powerfully than in recent years with his treatment of wounded veterans.
[bdj] Sexonomics … Brooke Magnanti (aka Belle de Jour) has a new blog … ‘This is where I write about social & political stuff, mostly relating to sex. Yes, there’s going to be a book. As an ex-sex worker, you can imagine what my bias is. Nevertheless, I am also a scientist, so will do my best to present the evidence base for each post.’
[comics] A Comic Book Lover’s Guide to Going Digital … some interesting pointers for managing digital comics … ‘For the record, I don’t mean by any of this that you should ditch paper comics altogether. I understand that for many fans, nothing beats the feel of paper, the accumulation of a big collection, and the pride of having gotten that issue “way back when it first came out”. I think both paper and digital comics are great, and have their time and place—and while I have pretty much switched to digital entirely, I in no way think everyone else “should”. I do think maintaining a digital collection, whether replacing or on top of your existing collection, is a great idea.’
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April 10, 2011
[history] The Bayeux Tapestry Archiving Model … interesting view of the Bayeux Tapestry as a medium for archiving data … ‘Our understanding is that the Tapestry features 45 to 48 threads per inch which gives us a resolution approximating 47dpi with a colour depth of 8, ignoring later repairs. Thus, in information terms, the tapestry contains 2.429MB of information, assuming 1-bit per colour, 47dpi, and a 51,678.72 square inch surface area.’
[comics] Chester Brown’s Paying For It Reviewed … the first review I’ve seen of what will likely be the most controversial comic of the year … ‘The social cues he seems unable to pick up on, the rituals he is congenitally incapable of performing, the years and decades of accrued guilt and sense of failure he built up from missing out on potential romantic or sexual relationships, the elaborate and to-him draining emotional quid pro quo of sex within the context of the few relationships he was able to enter into and maintain (that’s the context in which he really “paid for it”) …all of that disappeared the moment he told his first whore “Uh, I’d…like to have vaginal intercourse with you.” (“Yes, that’s what I really said,” he assures us helpfully in the “Notes” section.)’
[london] A Look at What’s Happening at Tottenham Court Road … a fascinating post describing the work along with many photos …‘A drastic reworking of the station’s sub-surface layout has long been needed and it is this that is now underway. By 2016 the station will have a completely new ticket hall, new access tunnels, lift shafts and escalators. It will also connect through to the new Crossrail Tottenham Court Road. It is a project this is proving a unique challenge.
[life] Born Digital … some anecdotes from Kevin Kelly on what it means to be born in a digital world …
Another acquaintance told me this story. He has a son about 8 years old. They were talking about the old days, and the fact that when my friend was growing up they did not have computers. This fact was perplexing news to his son. His son asks, “But how did you get onto the internet before computers?”
[comics] ‘Dark Knight Returns’ Page Up for Auction … ‘The original artwork for the splash page from issue No. 3, which features Batman leaping through the skyline along with his new Robin, Carrie Kelley, the first female to hold that role, is up for bidding at Heritage Auctions. The bid is currently at $100,000.’
[royals] Friday April 29, 2011: A time to clean the fridge … ‘It is a moment in history when a nation united by not being at work and a lack of normal television will stand up, chests inflated with pride, and say ‘I might as well have a go at the fridge. Does nan want a cup of tea while I’m up?’ Remember it well, that you might share with future generations the fond memory of its cleaning-based magic.’
[comics] CR Review: Paying For It … another review of Chester Brown’s latest autobiographical comic this time from Tom Spurgeon … ‘There’s a jittery undercurrent to Brown’s work that shimmies to the surface at odd and unexpected times, a queasy energy unlike anything else in comics. That noted, it’s always enormously fun to read Brown, and Paying For It proves no exception. There’s little I can write that will ever do justice to the enormous visceral pleasure that can come with spending time in Brown’s version of reality.’
[obl] Osama bin Laden: It Took Years To Find Him But Just Minutes To Kill Him … ‘The trail that led the CIA to Osama bin Laden began with his most trusted courier. It had taken the CIA years to discover first his name and then the home where he was hiding the al-Qaida leader. But it took only 40 minutes on Sunday for US special forces to kill both the courier and Bin Laden.’
[nyc] The Terminal: The Roughest Bar In New York City … a brief and fascinating look with video … ‘I used to poke my head into the Terminal back in the late 70s. Its notoriety drew artists and punks and the curious. But, it wasn’t welcoming to slumming hipsters or bush league Bukowskis. It was an enclosed society with it’s own brutal code, not easily cracked by the voyeuristic aesthete.’
[email] Legal Disclaimers: Spare Us The E-mail Yada-Yada … Legal disclaimers at the bottom of e-mail’s are useless … ‘They are assumed to be a wise precaution. But they are mostly, legally speaking, pointless. Lawyers and experts on internet policy say no court case has ever turned on the presence or absence of such an automatic e-mail footer in America, the most litigious of rich countries. Many disclaimers are, in effect, seeking to impose a contractual obligation unilaterally, and thus are probably unenforceable.’
The central idea [of All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace] leads Curtis on a journey, taking in the chilling über-individualist novelist Ayn Rand, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan, the “new economy”, hippy communes, Silicon Valley, ecology, Richard Dawkins, the wars in Congo, the lonely suicide in a London squat of the mathematical genius who invented the selfish gene theory, and the computer model of the eating habits of the pronghorn antelope.
You can see why Zoe Williams once wrote that, while watching one of Curtis’s programmes, “I kept thinking the dog was sitting on the remote.”
[comics] Howard Chaykin, Time and Time Again … Douglas Wolk On Howard Chaykin … ‘Chaykin’s ’80s comics are the work of an artist pushing himself savagely hard–especially Time2, an ambitious, densely packed 1986-1987 project that encompassed a one-shot comic book and a pair of slim graphic novels before vanishing.’
[tv] The Most Stupid Quiz Answer Ever? … ‘Andrew and Vanessa – the contestants in question – had been doing so well in the Channel 4 game show. But then came the fateful Bannister question. In 1954, did he go into space, run a sub-four minute mile or become the first man ever to put the toilet seat down? Andrew and Vanessa ummed. They ahhed. Then, out of nowhere, Andrew had a breakthrough. Eyes burning with pure knowledge, he shouted “I think I’ve seen ‘Bannister’ written on a toilet!” Vanessa was more cautious, wailing “Who KNOWS this?” before eventually agreeing on the toilet thing as well.’
[books] Balancing The Books … Ed Stourton’s Book Storage Crisis … ‘Our dilemma is a middle-aged one but I suspect, on the basis of conversations with like-minded friends, a common one. Our books are taking over our house and, it sometimes seems, our lives…’ [via Feeling Listless]
[weird] Plague of US preachers falsely claim to be Navy SEALs … ‘Other common professions who tend to falsely and publicly claim they were once SEALs are politicians and sheriffs, according to Shipley. Sheriffs are typically elected in the USA, and so need popular support. These and clergymen are the kind of people he tends to out, rather than the more common type of commando-impersonator who is simply trying to impress a girl in a bar. “The pastor never thought anyone outside of his small community would see [his false claims],” Shipley said. “He doesn’t understand how the Internet works.” In America is actually a crime to misrepresent or exaggerate one’s military service record.’
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May 16, 2011
[people] Five Reasons To Be Concerned Your Husband Is A Psychopath … from Jon Ronson … ‘In my book “The Psychopath Test,” I meet an enormously wealthy former Fortune 500-type CEO, Al Dunlap, to ask him which of the 20 Hare psychopathic traits he felt most applied to him. He instantly confessed to Grandiose Sense of Self Worth, which would have been a hard one for him to deny as he was at the time standing underneath a giant oil painting of himself.’
[tech] The Art of Endless Upgrades … Kevin Kelly on an issue I’ve noticed too – I spend far to much time maintaining a few simple websites … ‘Keeping a website or a software program afloat is like keep a yacht afloat. It is a black hole for attention. I can kind of understand why a mechanical device would break down after a while — moisture rusts metal, or the air oxidizes membranes, or lubricants evaporate — all of which require repair. But I wasn’t thinking that the intangible world of bits would also degrade. What’s to break? Apparently everything.’
[space] The Blue Marble Shot … a look back at the first complete photo of a whole round Earth taken from space which might be the most reproduced photo ever … ‘You can’t see the Earth as a globe unless you get at least twenty thousand miles away from it, and only 24 humans ever went that far into outer space. They were the three-man crews of the nine Apollo missions that traveled to the moon between 1968 and 1972, six of which landed there successfully (three men went twice). But only the last three saw a full Earth.’
[movies] The Monkees’ Head: ‘Our fans couldn’t even see it’ … The Monkees discuss their disastrous movie Head … ‘In retrospect, the marketing seems suicidal. Posters featured the balding head of the media theorist John Brockman and the slogan: “What is Head all about? Only John Brockman’s shrink knows for sure!” The so-called Monkees movie made no mention of the Monkees.’
FaceFacts … Jason Scott on Facebook … ‘[Facebook] is like an ever-burning fire of our memories, gleefully growing as we toss endless amounts of information and self and knowledge into it, only to have it added to columns of advertiser-related facts we do not see and do not control and do not understand.’
[tv] Grace Dent On Adam Curtis’ All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace … ‘And look at me, I’m so happy. Twitter alone has given me retinal migraine issues, RSI and cajoled me into believing I am a free-thinking revolutionary fanning flames of liberty in Iran, Libya and Syria, when in fact I’m just a woman in pyjamas, hugging an Intel Pentium processor, waiting for Ocado to fetch more olives. Up the revolution … oooh, have these got pimentos in them? Yum, yum, slurp.’