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June 11, 2012
[books] What The Author Meant Vs. What Your English Teacher Meant‘The curtains were fucking blue.’

What The Author Meant vs. What Your English Teacher Meant

[funny] Leaving child in pub ‘right for Britain’ says Cameron‘DAVID Cameron has insisted that leaving his nine year-old daughter in a pub is the sort of tough decision that will rescue Britain from recession. The prime minister left Nancy in a pub near Chequers after the move was agreed during a conference call with chancellor George Osborne and Nick Clegg…’
June 12, 2012
[comics] Comics I Read In Series Form In The 1980s: American Flagg! … Tom Spurgeon On American Flagg … ‘That first 26-issue run felt like it spanned the entire decade. In actuality, issue #26 appeared a mere 25 months after the debut. Sometimes I wonder if the difficulty in repackaging American Flagg! for other formats comes down to something spiritual. The serial comic book edition was pretty close to perfect in its way: a regular visit to a giddy clash of satire, comedy, adventure-comic beats and general rudeness delivered with aplomb by an artist working at the far edge of his talent while being supported by able, compelling craftsmen. Reading American Flagg! as comics felt like getting a broadcast from someplace else and watching it on a broken, filthy, slapped-together computer screen.’
June 13, 2012
[tech] In Memoriam: Our Favorite Apps and Services That Have Gone Belly Up (and Their Replacements) … useful list from Lifehacker … ‘Delicious (Web): 2003-2011 – The history: Delicious is a web-based social bookmarking app that is technically still around, but it isn’t really the same site it used to be. Many users have jumped ship entirely to other similar services instead. What’s taken its place: We rounded up our favorite Delicious alternatives back when it was headed for death, and Pinboard is still our top choice.’
June 14, 2012
[funny] Existential Star Wars … C3PO: ‘All actions are equivalent and all are on principle doomed to failure.’
June 15, 2012
[web] Keep Calm Must Stop … a tumblr examing the worst of the “Keep Calm” meme … ‘Keep Calm It’s Our 2 For 1 Sale’
June 18, 2012
[comics] Behold! Alan Moore! Cliff Richard! Shakin’ Stevens! Alvin Stardust! A Black Dog! TOGETHER AT LAST! … quite possibly the weirdest photo of Alan Moore in existence.
June 19, 2012
Entire Facebook Staff Laughs As Man Tightens Privacy Settings“Look, he’s clicking ‘Friends Only’ for his e-mail address. Like that’s going to make a difference!” howled infrastructure manager Evan Hollingsworth, tears streaming down his face, to several of his doubled-over coworkers. “Oh, sure, by all means, Jason, ‘delete’ that photo. Man, this is so rich.”
June 20, 2012
[tv] William Shatner confirms Devon town actually prostitute free‘One knowledgeable Register source confirmed that Ilfracombe is indeed prostitute free, but full of “dodgy brummies and scousers who are too dodgy for Liverpool”. He added the “toilets up on Oxford Grove” had been shut down because of immoral activity.’
June 25, 2012
[life] Why Aren’t Cities Littered With Dead Pigeons? … On the numerous and brutal threats to pigeons existence in cities … Stray and domesticated cats: Your precious Chairman Meow is likely an avian serial murderer if you let it roam around outdoors. Researchers believe that cats kill hundreds of thousands of birds every year; the National Audubon Society has passed a “Resolution on Cats” that states that felines “may have been involved in the extinction of more bird species than any other cause, except habitat destruction.”
June 26, 2012
[comics] Comics I Read In Series Form In The 1980s: Miracleman … Tom Spurgeon On Marvelman / Miracleman … ‘I can sure recall any number of individual moments in these comics. There’s a birth. There’s the way the character initially puts together his “magic word.” There’s a scene where they’re reading comics for clues. There’s a man with scary teeth. There’s one where they talk about sex education as something that should involve having sex as part of that education. There’s a bunch of stuff with the creepy Kid Miracleman character, a wonderful bad guy. There’s the arch-villain that looks like the late Joe Paterno. And then there’s the single issue with all the killing, which I remember mostly in terms of its visual texture, one giant smear of pain. That was one of the actually rare comic books of its day, incidentally; I had two or three interns at TCJ that asked to read the office copy the day they arrived.’
Facebook Changed Everyone’s Email to @Facebook.com; Here’s How to Fix Yours … useful Facebook fix from Lifehacker.
June 27, 2012
[watergate] Did the Press Uncover Watergate? [Part 1 | Part 2] … fascinating look (from 1974) at the myth that it was investigative journalism that uncovered Watergate … ‘In keeping with the mythic view of journalism, however, the book [All the Presidents Men] never describes the “behind-the-scenes” investigations which actually “smashed the Watergate scandal wide open”-namely the investigations conducted by the FBI, the federal prosecutors, the grand jury, and the Congressional committees. The work of almost all those institutions, which unearthed and developed all the actual evidence and disclosures of Watergate, is systematically ignored or minimized by Bernstein and Woodward. Instead, they simply focus on those parts of the prosecutors’ case, the grand-jury investigation, and the FBI reports that were leaked to them’
June 29, 2012
[comics] Annotations to League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume III Chapter Three, a.k.a. Century: 2009 … Work-in-progress annotations from Jess Nevins‘Page 13. Panel 1. “QueeQueg’s” is a reference to the harpooner Queequeg, from Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick (1851). Pádraig Ó Méalóid and Greg Daly note that “Starbuck” is also from Moby-Dick, so that in the world of League there is no Starbuck’s, there is Queequeg’s.’
July 2, 2012
[life] What is the most astounding fact about the Universe? … answered by Astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson

‘So that when I look up at the night sky and I know that yes, we are part of this universe, we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the Universe is in us. When I reflect on that fact, I look up – many people feel small because they’re small and the Universe is big – but I feel big, because my atoms came from those stars. There’s a level of connectivity. That’s really what you want in life, you want to feel connected, you want to feel relevant you want to feel like a participant in the goings on of activities and events around you That’s precisely what we are, just by being alive…’
July 3, 2012
[comics] Glycon Contents List / Index …Pádraig Ó Méalóid’s Glycon Livejournal is a fantastic collection of Alan Moore out-of print comics and oddities – this index makes it easy to see what’s available and find what you’re looking for.
July 4, 2012
[comics] The secret hero of Spider-Man … The New York Post profiles Steve Ditko … ‘When The Post knocked on his door, Ditko — who turns out to be a owlish man with wisps of white hair and ink-stained hands, wearing large black glasses and an unbuttoned white shirt with a white tee beneath — pleasantly but firmly declines to answer any questions. Though he did say he reads The Post.’
July 5, 2012
[books] Will Your Children Inherit Your E-Books? … another of those article on the death of the book / E-books / and what happens to your books after you die … ‘…the question of what to do with books that outlive their owners has only been a common problem since the mid-19th century, when the steam-powered press and the advent of cheap paper caused a vast expansion of the book market. Before that, few families would have had the problem of a surfeit of books. Now, though, we may be reaching the end of the 150-year-old print boom, and with it a transformation in the way we have shared books, reader after reader and life after life.’
July 6, 2012
[comics] More Moore … London’s Gosh Comics provides us with an update to what Alan Moore is up to for the next year or so… ‘NEMO – HEART OF ICE: February 2013 — The next League book hoves into view: it’s Jules Verne meets H.P. Lovecraft in a 48-page one-shot set in Antarctica, in the 1920s.’
July 9, 2012
[movies] Real Hollywood Thriller: Who Stole Jaws? … the fascinating story behind the image on the book and film cover to Jaws … ‘It was [Roger] Kastel’s execution that made the image an instant icon. “I think Kastel’s poster, like much of the best poster art of its era, tells the movie’s story instantly while making you want to learn more,” says Tom Whalen, who has made numerous second-generation, or tribute, movie posters for an Austin, Texas, publisher called Mondo. Whalen also gives props to the unnamed graphic artists at Universal who placed Kastel’s image amid the typography required to promote a movie. “The cool blue water situated opposite the blood red title just seals the deal,” he says.’ [via Boing Boing]
[adverts] The Hard Sell: Wonga … the Guardian takes an amusing look at the Wonga.com adverts … ‘[The Wonga.com puppets] work on a simple but watertight assumption: that everybody trusts an old person. The over-70s usually offer us fluffy sweets, tell long stories, or send pound coins taped to the inside of birthday cards. They never, repeat never, push barely legal, morally questionable loans at 4,214% APR.’
July 10, 2012
[comics] Economically Healthy ‘Daily Planet’ Now Most Unrealistic Part Of Superman Universe‘The Daily Planet—which for some strange reason has not been acquired by multimillionaire Lex Luthor with a promise to give readers shorter articles with more sizzle—is so deeply woven into the Superman universe that they had no choice but to avoid the comic altogether. They said even the most exciting stories are routinely marred by absurd depictions of a publication that somehow flourishes in print and whose millions of loyal readers seem oblivious to the idea of getting news online faster and for free.’
July 11, 2012
[art] Disassembly … a fascinating pictures series of disassembled old machines with their parts laid out in a forensic fashion ..

Flip Down Clock Disassembled

July 12, 2012
[twitter] Debit Card (@NeedADebitCard) … a twitter account retweeting people who post pictures of their Debit / Credit Cards to Twitter.
July 13, 2012
[comics] Comics Not Just For Kids Anymore, Reports 85,000th Mainstream News Story‘The incredibly perceptive and original article also specifically mentioned the work of writer Alan Moore, an obscure reference point that has only been used in every single article like this ever written.’
July 16, 2012
[comics] R. Crumb Interviewed … a huge Comics Journal-style interview … ‘I’m not antifeminist. I like strong, independent women, like the matriarchs of Genesis—they ordered the men around. The sex-fantasy thing was a whole other side of myself, and when that started coming out, I could no longer be America’s best-loved hippie cartoonist. Also the racial stuff: the racist images that I used. That also shut a lot of people off about my work. The feminists despised me. I had a couple of defenders among them whose defense of my work was: He’s just being totally honest about the male mentality. He’s revealing the thoughts that most men are walking around harboring about women all the time. I have to agree with that. I just revealed myself.’
July 17, 2012
[comics] Frank Miller’s Year One Screenplay … intriguing analysis of a screenplay Frank Miller wrote for an aborted revamp of Batman with Darren Aronofsky. ‘…the end result simply isn’t Batman. In some ways, it’s more like Marvel’s character Punisher. Batman may be seen as the quintessential super-hero without super-powers, but such a departure from his traditional background seems an injustice to the character. The screenplay’s vision of Batman is a compelling and a vital one, one arguably more logical than the normal Batman formulation – and a bolder depiction of a super-hero vigilante with a generalized war against crime. But it’s just not Batman, and fans would have been vocal in saying so. Batman fans would certainly not have tolerated such a high-profile project making such fundamental changes to the character – nor its reinvention of Alfred as Little Al. Most fans of the comic, for all their admiration for Frank Miller, would likely feel grateful to get Batman Begins instead of Miller’s Year One screenplay.’
July 18, 2012
[religion] Hearing the Voice of God … An anthropologist vists with and studies American evangelicals and attempts to understand their experience …

Stanford was the setting for a psychological experiment described in When God Talks Back. To better understand if and how spiritual practice impacts the mind, Luhrmann randomly divided volunteers who were Christian into groups: one listened on iPods for 30 minutes a day to lectures on the gospels. Another group participated in a more interactive, imagination-rich way, similar to the prayer style of Vineyard members. Their recordings invited them to see, hear and touch God in the mind’s eye, to carry on a dialogue with Jesus, to imagine a psalm in every detail.

“I found that after a month of prayer practice, people reported more vivid mental imagery than those who listened to the lectures,” she says. “They used mental imagery more readily and had somewhat better perceptual attention, and they reported more unusual sensory experience. In short, they attended to their inner experience more seriously, and that altered how real that experience became for them.”

[politics] Taxi for Mr Buckles: MPs savage G4S boss over Olympics chaos … Simon Hoggart describes the appearance of Nick Buckles before a group MP’s yesterday … ‘Disaster followed disaster. It turns out that too few G4S staff turned up at a cycling event in Surrey . When would Mr Buckles know how few people would show? At 9 o’clock, he said. That’s 9pm after the understaffed event. Mr Horseman-Sewell chipped in. There was a difference between people not showing up having been accepted, he said, and a shortfall. We were in the realm of the higher metaphysics…’
July 19, 2012
[comics] Barack Obama Names Alan Moore Official White House Biographer‘President Obama announced that he had appointed legendary comic book writer Alan Moore as the official biographer of his time in the White House. “As evidenced by his epic run on Swamp Thing #21–64, Moore’s deft hand with both sociopolitical commentary and metaphysical violence makes him an ideal choice to chronicle my time in office,” Obama said of the author of Watchmen and From Hell, whom he reportedly chose over others on a short list of potential biographers that included Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison, and Bob Woodward.’
[history] This Is the Oldest Record In History—Scanned and Recreated From a Photo … a remarkable story about how the worlds oldest recording was been recovered from a picture of the record … ‘[Patrick] Fester is an expert on resuscitating records from photographs. He scanned that image at a very high resolution. Then, using image processing software, he enhanced the resulting image. After obtaining the sound profile hidden in the shadows of the print, he used software to recreate the actual sound. What he heard left him speechless: it was the voice of the father of the gramophone, Emile Berliner…’
July 20, 2012
[comics] “The Life and Works Of Alan Moore” On Mastermind ..

[shining] 11 Things You Might Not Have Noticed In The Shining‘Have you noticed there is no toilet paper in Room 237?’
July 23, 2012
[blogs] This is a reblog of Brooke Magnanti’s terrific how-to guide on blogging anonymously. I gather that someone is trying to get this post removed from Blogspot. I have no doubt that Brooke has every right to publish it and that she wrote this based on her unique blogging experiences as Belle de Jour. I read recently about a British publisher that has started a legal action against Twitter to discover the individual behind an spoof account that parodied their CEO. In situations like this Brooke’s guide is useful, timely and deserves a wide audience. – Darren/LMG.

How To Blog Anonymously (and how not to)

by Brooke Magnanti

Further to yesterday’s post, this is a list of thoughts prompted by a request from Linkmachinego on the topic of being an anonymous writer and blogger. Maybe not exactly a how- to (since the outcome is not guaranteed) as a post on things I did, things I should have done, and things I learned.

It’s not up to me to decide if you “deserve” to be anonymous. My feeling is, if you’re starting out as a writer and do not yet feel comfortable writing under your own name, that is your business and not mine. I also think sex workers should consider starting from a position of anonymity and decide later if they want to be out, please don’t be naive. Statistics I made up right now show 99 out of 100 people who claim ‘if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear’ are talking out of their arses.

The items in the list fall into three general categories: internet- based, legal and real-world tips, and interpersonal. Many straddle more than one of these categories. All three are important.

This is written for a general audience because most people who blog now do not have extensive technical knowledge, they just want to write and be read. That’s a good thing by the way. If you already know all of this, then great, but many people won’t. Don’t be sneery about their lack of prior knowledge. Bringing everyone up to speed on the technology is not the goal: clear steps you can use to help protect your identity from being discovered are.

Disclaimer: I’m no longer anonymous so these steps are clearly not airtight. Also there are other sources of information on the Web, some of which are more comprehensive and more current than my advice. I accept no responsibility for any outcome of following this advice. Please don’t use it to do illegal or highly sensitive things. Also please don’t use pseudonyms to be a dick.

This is also a work in progress. As I remember things or particular details, I’ll amend this post. If you have suggestions of things that should be added, let me know.

1. Don’t use Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail et al. for your mail.

You will need an email address to do things like register for blog accounts, Facebook, Twitter, and more. This email will have to be something entirely separate from your “real” email addresses. There are a lot of free options out there, but be aware that sending an email from many of them also sends information in the headers that could help identify you.

When I started blogging, I set up an email address for the blog with Hotmail. Don’t do this. Someone quickly pointed out the headers revealed where I worked (a very large place with lots of people and even more computers, but still more information than I was comfortable with). They suggested I use Hushmail instead, which I still use. Hushmail has a free option (though the inbox allocation is modest), strips out headers, and worked for me.

A caveat with this: if you are, say, a sex worker working in a place where that is not legal and using Hushmail, you could be vulnerable to them handing over your details to a third party investigating crimes. If you’re handling information some governments might consider embarrassing or sensitive, same. Google some alternatives: you’re looking for something secu re and encrypted.

There are a few common-sense tips you can follow to make it even safer. If you have to bring people you know in real life in on the secret, don’t use this email address for communicating with them even if only about matters related to your secret (and don’t use your existing addresses for that either). Example: I have one address for press and general interactions, one for things related to my accountant and money, and one for communicating with my agent, publisher, and solicitor. I’ve also closed and opened new accounts over the years when it seems “too many” people are getting hold of a particular address. Use different passwords for each, don’t make these passwords related to your personal information, and so on.

I unwisely left the Hotmail address going, and while I did not use it to send mail, I continued to read things that arrived there. That led to this failed attempt by the Sunday Times to out me. It was an easily dodged attempt but something I would have preferred to avoid.

Over the years I have had about two email account changes every year and have changed my mobile number five times (eventually, I just stopped having one). If you change email addresses it’s a good idea to send people you need to stay in contact with a mail from the old and the new address so they know it’s not someone else trying to impersonate you. And to have a password so you know the response is from the right person – a password you did not exchange via an email conversation, of course. Example: you might send an email to your editor from old_address@somedomain.com and from new_address@somedomain.com at the same time, and the one from new_address contains Codeword1. They respond with Codeword2, indicating they acknowledge the change.

It sounds silly, but people can and do scam personal info all the time. Often they do so by pretending to be in on a secret so someone reveals something they did not mean to say. Play it safe. It can feel a stupidly cloak-and-dagger at first, but you soon get over it.

You can register internet domains while staying anonymous but I never did. Some people registered domains for me (people I didn’t know in person). This led to a couple of instances of them receiving harassment when the press suspected they were me. In particular Ian Shircore got a bit of unwanted attention this way.

Because all I was ever doing was a straight-up blog, not having a registered domain that I had control over was fine. Your needs may be different. I am not a good source for advice on how to do that. But just in case you might be thinking “who would bother looking there?” read about how faux escort Alexa DiCarlo was unmasked. This is what happens when you don’t cover your tracks.

2. Don’t use a home internet connection, work internet connection, etc.

Email won’t be the only way you might want to communicate with people. You may also want to leave comments on other blogs and so forth. Doing this and other ways of using the Web potentially exposes your IP address, which could be unique and be used to locate you.

Even if you don’t leave comments just visiting a site can leave traces behind. Tim Ireland recently used a simple method to confirm his suspicion of who the “Tabloid Troll” twitter account belonged to. By comparing the IP address of someone who clicked on to a link going to the Bloggerheads site with the IP address of an email Dennis Rice sent, a link was made. If you go to the trouble of not using your own connection, also make sure you’re not using the same connection for different identities just minutes apart. Don’t mix the streams.

The timing of everything as it happened was key to why the papers did not immediately find out who I was. The old blog started in 2003, when most press still had to explain to their audience what a blog actually was. It took a while for people to notice the writing, so the mistakes I made early on (blogging from home and work, using Hotmail) had long been corrected by the time the press became interested.

Today, no writer who aims to stay anonymous should ever assume a grace period like that. It also helped that once the press did become interested, they were so convinced not only that Belle was not really a hooker but also that she was one of their own – a previously published author or even journalist – that they never looked in the right place. If they’d just gone to a London blogmeet and asked a few questions about who had pissed off a lot of people and was fairly promiscuous, they’d have had a plausible shortlist in minutes.

After I moved from Kilburn to Putney, I was no longer using a home internet connection – something I should have done right from the beginning. I started to use internet cafes for posting and other activities as Belle. This offers some security… but be wary of using these places too often if there is a reason to think someone is actively looking for you. It’s not perfect.

Also be wary if you are using a laptop or other machine provided by your workplace, or use your own laptop to log in to work servers (“work remotely”). I’ve not been in that situation and am not in any way an expert on VPNs , but you may want to start reading about it here and do some googling for starters. As a general principle, it’s probably wise not to do anything on a work laptop that could get you fired, and don’t do anything that could get you fired while also connected to work remotely on your own machine.

3. There is software available that can mask your IP address. There are helpful add-ons that can block tracking software.

I didn’t use this when I was anonymous, but if I was starting as an anonymous blogger now, I would download Tor and browse the Web and check email through their tools.

If you do use Tor or other software to mask your IP address, don’t then go on tweeting about where your IP address is coming from today! I’ve seen people do this. Discretion fail.

I also use Ghostery now to block certain tracking scripts from web pages. You will want to look into something similar. Also useful are Adblocker, pop-up blockers, things like that. They are simple to download and use and you might like to use them anyway even if you’re not an anonymous blogger. A lot of sites track your movements and you clearly don’t want that.

4. Take the usual at-home precautions.

Is your computer password-protected with a password only you know? Do you clear your browser history regularly? Use different passwords for different accounts? Threats to anonymity can come from people close to you. Log out of your blog and email accounts when you’re finished using them, every time. Have a secure and remote backup of your writing. Buy a shredder and use it. Standard stuff.

Sometimes the files you send can reveal things about yourself, your computer, and so on. When sending manuscripts to my agent and editor, they were usually sent chapter by chapter as flat text files – not Word documents – with identifying data stripped. The usual method I used to get things to them was to upload to a free service that didn’t require a login, such as Sendspace. When writing articles for magaznes and papers, the text was typically appended straight into the body of the email, again avoiding attachments with potentially identifying information. This can be a little irritating… having to archive your writing separately, not altogether convenient to work on. But for the way I worked, usually not sharing content with editors until it was close to the final draft, it was fine.

When exchanging emails with my agent and editor, we never talked about actual meeting times and locations and threw a few decoy statements in, just in case. Since it has been recently revealed that Times journalists were trying to hack bloggers’ email addresses after all, in retrospect, this seems to have been a good thing.

Another thing I would do is install a keystroke logger on your own machine. By doing this I found out in 2004 that someone close to me was spying on me when they were left alone with my computer. In retrospect what I did about it was not the right approach. See also item 7.

5. Be careful what you post.

Are you posting photos? Exif data can tell people, among other things, where and when a picture was taken, what it was taken with, and more. I never had call to use it because I never posted photos or sound, but am told there are loads of tools that can wipe this Exif data from your pictures (here’s one).

The content of what you post can be a giveaway as well. Are you linking to people you know in real life? Are you making in-jokes or references to things only a small group of people will know about? Don’t do that.

If possible, cover your tracks. Do you have a previous blog under a known name? Are you a contributor to forums where your preferred content and writing style are well-known? Can you edit or delete these things? Good, do that.

Personally, I did not delete everything. Partly this was because the world of British weblogging was so small at the time – a few hundred popular users, maybe a couple thousand people blogging tops? – that I thought the sudden disappearance of my old blog coinciding with the appearance of an unrelated new one might be too much of a coincidence. But I did let the old site go quiet for a bit before deleting it, and edited archived entries.

Keep in mind however that The Wayback Machine means everything you have written on the web that has been indexed still exists. And it’s searchable. Someone who already has half an idea where to start looking for you won’t have too much trouble finding your writing history. (UPDATE: someone alerted me that it’s possible to get your own sites off Wayback by altering the robots.txt file – and even prevent them appearing there in the first place – and to make a formal request for removal using reasons listed here. This does not seem to apply to sites you personally have no control over unless copyright issues are involved.) If you can put one more step between them and you… do it.

6. Resist temptation to let too many people in.

If your writing goes well, people may want to meet you. They could want to buy you drinks, give you free tickets to an opening. Don’t say yes. While most people are honest in their intentions, some are not. And even the ones who are may not have taken the security you have to keep your details safe. Remember, no one is as interested in protecting your anonymity as you will be.

Friends and family were almost all unaware of my secret – both the sex work and the writing. Even my best friend (A4 from the books) didn’t know. ;

I met very few people “as” Belle. There were some who had to meet me: agent, accountant, editor. I never went to the Orion offices until after my identity became known. I met Billie Piper, Lucy Prebble, and a couple of writers during the pre-production of Secret Diary at someone’s house, but met almost no one else involved with the show. Paul Duane and Avril MacRory met me and were absolutely discreet. I went to the agent’s office a few times but never made an appointment as Belle or in my real name. Most of the staff there had no idea who I was. Of these people who did meet me almost none knew my real name, where I lived, where I was from, my occupation. Only one (the accountant) knew all of that – explained below under point 9. And if I could have gotten away with him never seeing a copy of my passport, I damn well would have done.

The idea was that if people don’t know anything they can’t inadvertently give it away. I know that all of the people listed above were absolutely trustworthy. I still didn’t tell them anything a journalist would have considered useful.

When I started blogging someone once commented that my blog was a “missed opportunity” because it didn’t link to an agency website or any way of booking my services. Well, duh. I didn’t want clients to meet me through the blog! If you are a sex worker who wants to preserve a level of pseudonymity and link your public profile to your work, Amanda Brooks has the advice you need. Not me.

Other sources like JJ Luna write about how to do things like get and use credit cards not tied to your name and address. I’ve heard Entropay offer ‘virtual’ credit cards that are not tied to your credit history, although they can’t be used with any system that requires address verification. This could be useful even for people who are not involved in sex work.

Resisting temptation sometimes means turning down something you’d really like to do. The short-term gain of giving up details for a writing prize or some immediate work may not be worth the long-term loss of privacy. I heard about one formerly anonymous blogger who was outed after giving their full name and address to a journalist who asked for it when they entered a competition. File under: how not to stay anonymous.

7. Trust your intuition.

I have to be careful what I say here. In short, my identity became known to a tabloid paper and someone whom I had good reason not to trust (see item 4) gave them a lot of information about me.

When your intuition tells you not to trust someone, LISTEN TO IT. The best security in the world fails if someone props open a door, leaves a letter on the table, or mentally overrides the concern that someone who betrayed you before could do so again. People you don’t trust should be ejected from your life firmly and without compromise. A “let them down easy” approach only prolongs any revenge they might carry out and probably makes it worse. The irony is that as a call girl I relied on intuition and having strong personal boundaries all the time… but failed to carry that ability over into my private life. If there is one thing in my life I regret, the failure to act on my intuition is it.

As an aside if you have not read The Gift of Fear already, get it and read it.

See also point 9: if and when you need people to help you keep the secret don’t make it people already involved in your private life. Relationships can cloud good judgement in business decisions.

There is a very droll saying “Two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead.” It’s not wrong. I know, I know. Paranoid. Hard not to be when journos a few years later are digging through the rubbish of folks who met you exactly once when you were sixteen. Them’s the breaks.

8. Consider the consequences of success.

If you find yourself being offered book deals or similar, think it through. Simply by publishing anonymously you will become a target. Some people assume all anonymous writers “want” to be found, and the media in particular will jump through some very interesting hurdles to “prove” anything they write about you is in the public interest.

In particular, if you are a sex worker, and especially if you are a sex worker who is visible/bookable through your site, please give careful consideration to moving out of that sphere. Even where sex for money is legal it is still a very stigmatised activity. There are a number of people who do not seem to have realised this, and the loss of a career when they left the “sex-pos” bubble was probably something of a shock. I’m not saying don’t do it – but please think long and hard about the potential this has to change your life and whether you are fully prepared to be identified this way forever. For every Diablo Cody there are probably dozens of Melissa Petros. For every Melissa Petro there are probably hundreds more people with a sex industry past who get quietly fired and we don’t ever hear from them.

If I knew going in to the first book deal what would happen, I probably would have said no. I’m glad I didn’t by the way – but realistically, my life was stressful enough at that point and I did not fully understand what publishing would add to that. Not many bloggers had mainstream books at that point (arguably none in the UK) so I didn’t have anyone else’s experience to rely on. I really had no idea about what was going to happen. The things people wrote about me then were mainly untrue and usually horrendous. Not a lot has changed even now. I’d be lying if I said that didn’t have an emotional effect.

Writing anonymously and being outed has happened often enough that people going into it should consider the consequences. I’m not saying don’t do it if you risk something, but be honest with yourself about the worst possible outcome and whether you would be okay with that.

9. ; Enlist professional help to get paid and sign contracts.

Having decided to write a book, I needed an agent. The irony of being anonymous was that while I let as few people in on it as possible, at some point I was going to have to take a leap of faith and let in more. Mil Millington emailed me to recommend Patrick Walsh, saying he was one of the few people in London who can be trusted. Mil was right.

Patrick put me on to my accountant (who had experience of clients with, shall we say, unusual sources of income). From there we cooked up a plan so that contracts could be signed without my name ever gracing a piece of paper. Asking someone to keep a secret when there’s a paper trail sounds like it should be possible but rarely is. Don’t kid yourself, there is no such thing as a unbreakable confidentiality agreement. Asking journalists and reviewers to sign one about your book is like waving a red rag to a bull. What we needed was a few buffers between me and the press.

With Patrick and Michael acting as directors, a company was set up – Bizrealm. I was not on the paperwork as a director so my name never went on file with Companies House. Rather, with the others acting as directors, signing necessary paperwork, etc., Patrick held a share in trust for me off of which dividends were drawn and this is how I got paid. I may have got some of these details wrong, by the way – keep in mind, I don’t deal with Bizrealm’s day-to-day at all.

There are drawbacks to doing things this way: you pay for someone’s time, in this case the accountant, to create and administer the company. You can not avoid tax and lots of it. (Granted, drawing dividends is more tax-efficient, but still.) You have to trust a couple of people ABSOLUTELY. I’d underline this a thousand times if I could. Michael for instance is the one person who always knew, and continues to know, everything about my financial and personal affairs. Even Patrick doesn’t know everything.

There are benefits though, as well. Because the money stays mainly in the company and is not paid to me, it gets eked out over time, making tax bills manageable, investment more constant, and keeping me from the temptation to go mad and spend it.

I can’t stress enough that you might trust your friends and family to the ends of the earth, but they should not be the people who do this for you. Firstly, because they can be traced to you (they know you in a non-professional way). Secondly, because this is a very stressful setup and you need the people handling it to be on the ball. As great as friends and family are that is probably not the kind of stress you want to add to your relationship. I have heard far too many stories of sex workers and others being betrayed by ex- partners who knew the details of their business dealings to ever think that’s a good idea.

So how do you know you can trust these people? We’ve all heard stories of musicians and other artists getting ripped off by management, right? All I can say is instinct. It would not have been in Patrick’s interest to grass me, since as my agent he took a portion of my earnings anyway, and therefore had financial as well as personal interest in protecting that. If he betrayed me he would also have suffered a loss of reputation that potentially outweighed any gain. Also, as most people who know him will agree, he’s a really nice and sane human being. Same with Michael.

If this setup sounds weirdly paranoid, let me assure you that journalists absolutely did go to Michael’s office and ask to see the Bizrealm paperwork, and Patrick absolutely did have people going through his bins, trying to infiltrate his office as interns, and so on. Without the protection of being a silent partner in the company those attempts to uncover me might have worked.

I communicate with some writers and would-be writers who do not seem to have agents. If you are serious about writing, and if you are serious about staying anonymous, get an agent. Shop around, follow your instinct, and make sure it’s someone you can trust. Don’t be afraid to dump an agent, lawyer, or anyone else if you don’t trust them utterly. They’re professionals and shouldn’t take it personally.

10. Don’t break the (tax) law.

Journalists being interested in your identity is one thing. What you really don’t want is the police or worse, the tax man, after you. Pay your taxes and try not to break the law if it can be helped. If you’re a sex worker blogging about it, get an accountant who has worked with sex workers before – this is applicable even if you live somewhere sex work is not strictly legal. Remember, Al Capone went down for tax evasion. Don’t be like Al. If you are a non-sex-work blogger who is earning money from clickthroughs and affiliates on your site, declare this income.

In summer 2010 the HMRC started a serious fraud investigation of me. It has been almost two years and is only just wrapping up, with the Revenue finally satisfied that not only did I declare (and possibly overdeclare) my income as a call girl, but that there were no other sources of income hidden from them. They have turned my life and financial history upside down to discover next to nothing new about me. This has been an expensive and tedious process. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like had I not filed the relevant forms, paid the appropriate taxes, and most of all had an accountant to deal with them!

Bottom line, you may be smart – I’m pretty good with numbers myself – – but people whose job it is to know about tax law, negotiating contracts, and so on will be better at that than you are. Let them do it. They are worth every penny.

11. Do interviews with care.

Early interviews were all conducted one of two ways: over email (encrypted) or over an IRC chatroom from an anonymising server (I used xs4all). This was not ideal from their point of view, and I had to coach a lot of people in IRC which most of them had never heard of. But again, it’s worth it, since no one in the press will be as interested in protecting your identity as you are. I hope it goes without saying, don’t give out your phone number.

12. Know when les jeux sont faits.

In November 2009 – 6 years after I first started blogging anonymously – my identity was revealed.

As has been documented elsewhere, I had a few heads-ups that something was coming, that it was not going to be nice, and that it was not going to go away. We did what we could to put off the inevitable but it became clear I only had one of two choices: let the Mail on Sunday have first crack at running their sordid little tales, or pre-empt them.

While going to the Sunday Times – the same paper that had forcibly outed Zoe Margolis a few years earlier, tried to get my details through that old Hotmail address, and incorrectly fingered Sarah Champion as me – was perhaps not the most sensitive choice, it was for me the right move. Patrick recommended that we contact an interviewer who had not been a Belle-believer: if things were going to be hard, best get that out of the way up front.



So that is that. It’s a bit odd how quickly things have changed. When I started blogging I little imagined I would be writing books, much less something like this. Being a kind of elder statesman of blogging (or cantankerous old grump if you prefer) is not an entirely comfortable position and one that is still new to me. But it is also interesting to note how little has changed: things that worked in the early 2000s have value today. The field expanded rapidly but the technology has not yet changed all that much.

As before, these ideas do not constitute a foolproof way to protect your identity. All writers – whether writing under their own names or not – should be aware of the risks they may incur by hitting ‘publish’. I hope this post at least goes some way to making people think about how they might be identified, and starts them on a path of taking necessary (and in many cases straightforward) precautions, should they choose to be anonymous.
August 6, 2012
[sex] Fifty Shades Generator … an incredibly NSFW Lorem Ipsum generator producing text in the style of 50 Shades of Grey … ‘ I awoke the next morning with my bearded haddock pasty still flowing. I thought it was over but his washington monument had other ideas.’
August 7, 2012
[comics] 40 MORE Of The Worst Rob Liefeld Drawings … more selections of the most awful comic art from Rob Liefeld… ‘Do you know how many drawings a comic book artist pumps out over the course of 20 years? SO MANY DRAWINGS. So the truth of the matter is that there can never truly be a 40 “Worst” Rob Liefeld drawings until the dude is dead and gone and his remains have been blasted into the sun in a gold-plated space shuttle with diamond-encrusted control panel. Maybe not even then. There are so many awful Liefeld drawings that B and I could probably do a list of 40 every other month, forever.’
[security] How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking … a sobering look at how one man’s digital life – Google Account, Apple Account – was compromised and his iPhone and Mac were remotely wiped … ‘I asked him why. Was I targeted specifically? Was this just to get to Gizmodo’s Twitter account? No, Phobia said they hadn’t even been aware that my account was linked to Gizmodo’s, that the Gizmodo linkage was just gravy. He said the hack was simply a grab for my three-character Twitter handle. That’s all they wanted. They just wanted to take it, and fuck shit up, and watch it burn. It wasn’t personal.’
August 8, 2012
[politics] So, bumbling Boris Johnson is lovable and funny? Well, have I got news for you … What is Boris Johnson really like? … ‘[Max] Hastings, who has known him for nearly 30 years, still has affection for his former protege but has also sounded warnings about his unsuitability to become PM, not least because of his “startling flashes of instability”. To those who have worked closely with Johnson, his outbursts of temper are notorious; even his sister, Rachel, describes his approach to those who dare to criticise him as “Sicilian”. Female members of the London Assembly have lodged a formal complaint about his offensive conduct.’
August 9, 2012
[comics] Alan Moore: one of the finest exponents of the comic book art form to have ever lived. … another Alan Moore interview – this time from Nottingham’s Leftlion website …

Q: You’ve always refused to put your name to film adaptions of your work. I know this is going to be hard to put a figure on, but how much money do you think you’ve turned down, for taking a moral standpoint on this?

Alan: Well, they asked me if they could give me a huge amount of money to bring out these Watchmen prequel comics – which they were going to do anyway – and that was probably a couple of million dollars. I should imagine with all of the films it would be another few million? In a way it’s really empowering to do that.

You can’t buy that kind of empowerment. To just know that as far as you are aware, you have not got a price; that there is not an amount of money large enough to make you compromise even a tiny bit of principle that, as it turned out, would make no practical difference anyway. I’d advise everyone to do it, otherwise you’re going to end up mastered by money and that’s not a thing you want ruling your life. Money’s fine if it enables you to enjoy your life and to be useful to other people. But as something that is a means to an end, no, it’s useless.

August 10, 2012
[comics] Against Pussiness: An Interview with Howard Chaykin … A fascinating (and indiscreet) interview with Howard Chaykin … ‘I have a very strange reputation, because in the fans, I’m regarded as an obnoxious asshole, and yet – [raised eyebrows] oh no, they say it, trust me. Believe me, I have no illusions or confusions about who I am – while, in the context of the profession, I’m regarded as a go-to guy that can be depended on all the time, and it’s a very different relationship. And I’m more interested in being well-received by my colleagues and my employers – my clients – than I am that I give a shit about the fans. I mean, I was a fan. I have a picture of myself at 17. I weighed 265 pounds, and I was that kid. I was those guys. But I’ve learned a certain distance. I said once that for comic-book readers, it’s every Wednesday at the book store, for me it’s every morning on my desk. And that makes a difference in the relationship. But I love the process, enormously. I’m very… I am so grateful.’
August 14, 2012
[history] Alcatraz Escapees’ Tale Still Captivates, 50 Years Later … Did the only three men to ever escape from Alcatraz make it?… ‘At Alcatraz — onetime home to notorious inmates like gangster Al Capone and Robert Stroud, who came to be known as the Birdman of Alcatraz — Morris and the Anglins spent 18 months preparing for the breakout. They stitched together 50 prison-issued WWII-era raincoats, cotton with rubber backing, into a raft and life vests. They chiseled through the walls with spoons and other kitchen utensils. A hollow space above the cellblock served as a storage area for tools and the decoy heads, which they crafted from barbershop hair, plaster and paint. On the night of June 11, 1962, each man wriggled through his own chiseled shaft into a utility corridor and then onto the prison roof. They shimmied down a pipe, climbed two barbed wire fences and launched the boat into the dark waters…’
August 15, 2012
[life] The ‘Busy’ Trap … Why being busy all the time is bad for us … ‘Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done. “Idle dreaming is often of the essence of what we do,” wrote Thomas Pynchon in his essay on sloth. Archimedes’ “Eureka” in the bath, Newton’s apple, Jekyll & Hyde and the benzene ring: history is full of stories of inspirations that come in idle moments and dreams. It almost makes you wonder whether loafers, goldbricks and no-accounts aren’t responsible for more of the world’s great ideas, inventions and masterpieces than the hardworking.’
[war] War Sand … an interesting look at the microscopic remanants of WWII left on the beaches of Normandy …

Archaeology magazine highlights the presence of spherical magnetic shards—remnants of the D-Day operations of World War II—found hidden amongst natural sand grains on the beaches of Normandy. “Up to 4 percent of the sand is made up of this shrapnel,” the article states; however, “waves, storms, and rust will probably wipe this microscopic archaeology from the coast in another hundred years.”

August 16, 2012
[books] Fifteen Shades of Grey :: A Digested Read … Fifty Shades of Grey in 15 sentences … ‘I’ll agree to the fisting…’
August 17, 2012
[space] Alone in the Void … On the meaning of Voyager 1

Even if we could find a way to increase the speed of our spacecraft a hundredfold — about the same ratio of speeds between a horse-drawn cart and a 747 jet plane — they would still take almost a thousand years to reach nearby stars, and as long to return. And while exciting theoretical research is under way into pilotless probes to the stars, the real possibility of large-scale human interstellar culture is considerably less thrilling.

Think about it. No salvation from population pressure on the shores of alien worlds. No release from the threats of biosphere degradation in the promise of new biospheres. No escape from our own destructive tendencies by spreading out among the stars like seedpods in the wind. For as many epochs in the future as there are epochs of human history in the past, we may simply have to make do, get by with what we have and, in the end, learn to get along.

August 20, 2012
[comics] ‘Jesus, What Is It Now?’ Says Man Putting Down Swamp Thing Comic To Answer Phone Call From Wife

Throughout the brief phone call, Bogen repeatedly said “uh-huh” as he scanned the story that showed Swamp Thing ripping gigantic, finger-like roots from the earth and causing the lake to empty out and wash away the vampires in a rush of water.

“Yes, I am listening,” added Bogen, focusing entirely on Alan Moore’s prose, which switched the point of view to the pained thoughts of the vampires as the surging water peeled the rotted flesh from their skeletons. “Of course I want to hear about it.”

“Tell me when you get home,” Bogen added.

August 21, 2012
[space] Voyager at 35: Break on Through to the Other Side‘Voyager 2 became the longest-operating spacecraft on Aug. 13, 2012, surpassing Pioneer 6, which launched on Dec. 16, 1965, and sent its last signal back to NASA’s Deep Space Network on Dec. 8, 2000. (It operated for 12,758 days.)’
August 22, 2012
[funny] Jacob Von Hogflume Blue Plaque‘Inventor Of Time Travel’

Jacob Von Hogflume Blue Plaque

August 23, 2012
[murder] The Unsolved Murder Of Julia Wallace … Fascinating story of an unresolved very English murder from the 1930s … ‘‘The Wallace case of 1931 is regarded as the classic English whodunnit, a labyrinth of clues and false trails leading everywhere except, it seems, to the identity of the murderer… The setting is wintrily provincial, the milieu lower middle-class, the style threadbare domestic. J.B. Priestley’s fog-filled Liverpool remembrance of “trams going whining down long sad roads” is the quintessence of it. Events turn tantalisingly on finical questions of time and distance; knuckle-headed police jostle with whistling street urchins for star billing, while at the centre of the drama stands the scrawny, inscrutable figure of the accused man, William Herbert Wallace, the Man from The Pru…’ (Roger Wilkes, editor, The Mammoth Book of Unsolved Crimes, 2005)’
August 24, 2012
[life] Why Only Yuppies Feel Busy: An Economic Theory‘We all live on two things: time and money. And people who have extra income don’t get much, if any, extra time to spend it. As a result, Hamermesh argues, each of their hours seems more valuable, and they feel the clock ticking away more acutely. Much the way it’s more stressful to order dinner from a menu with 100 items than 10, choosing between a night at the symphony, seats at the hot new play, or tickets to Woody Allen’s latest flick is in some senses more stressful than knowing you’ll have to save money by staying in for the evening.’
[politics] Britannia Unchained: the rise of the new Tory right … The Guardian profiles a group of right-wing Tories and wonders if history ever repeats itself … ‘In radical right circles, it is strikingly common to hear comparisons between Cameron’s government and that of his Tory predecessor Edward Heath: narrowly elected in 1970, briefly tough before a chaos of U-turns, replaced in 1974 by an often equally beleaguered Labour administration – before the right’s big moment finally arrived in 1979, with Thatcher’s election. If history repeats, which it rarely does exactly, we should expect the Unchaining of Britannia to commence in 2019.’
August 25, 2012
[comics] I wonder if they’ll call it “Heckblazer.” … Mike Sterling on what might happen to Hellblazer after issue 300 … ‘I suspect this series, now DC’s highest numbered series being published, is getting a little long in the tooth in this era of digital sales and reboots and people wanting to be able to get the “whole” story right away rather than just jumping in and hanging on. The recent retooling of the Hellblazer trade paperback line, reprinting all the issues in consecutive order in books with actual volume numbers on the spine, is a start in rebuilding some readership, I suppose, but I think a restart after 300 is within the realm of possibility.’
August 26, 2012
[movies] The legacy of British director and minor Hollywood legend Tony Scott … Alex Pappademas sums up Tony Scott … ‘2005’s spastic, pummeling Domino is probably the best example of how the New Jitteriness freed up Scott to make his movies that much more Tony Scott–like, and it’s thrilling, at least until it wears out your last neurotransmitter. 2004’s Man on Fire is even better, a biblical revenge flick in which Scott uses every image-destabilizing technique in his utility belt to put you right in damaged mercenary Denzel’s increasingly unhinged head space. The colors are gorgeous, too — it’s easily the most ravishingly beautiful movie ever made in which the hero kills another character by sticking an explosive device up that character’s ass.’
August 28, 2012
[space] Was Neil Armstrong a real hero?‘The weekend’s retelling of the 1969 moon landing reminded us just how risky it was and how Armstrong’s quick wits and calmness saved the day. The Eagle landing craft contained no more computer power than a modern washing machine, and was heading slightly off course for the rocks when Armstrong took over the controls manually. He landed with 20 seconds’ worth of fuel, and got the Eagle back up again to rendezvous with Apollo 11. There was no backup plan, no way of rescuing the crew. Sitting in the co-pilot’s seat with his spear (well, you never know, do you?), even Achilles might have been grudgingly impressed, though Armstrong’s lack of melodrama would have annoyed him. And therein perhaps lies the clincher for Armstrong’s heroic status. No boasting, no bullying, just a soft-spoken man who insisted he was only doing his job.’
August 29, 2012
[comics] The Adventures Of Sexy Batman

Sexy Batman and Catwoman

August 30, 2012
[comics] Some Thoughts on David Mazzucchelli’s Daredevil: Born Again Artist’s Edition‘This is a book made more for looking than for reading, I couldn’t stop reading it. It’s Miller’s finest application of his hard boiled noir obsession to comic book heroes. There’s an emotional intelligence here that immerses us in the particular world being depicted, so that the characters around Daredevil, particularly the writer Ben Urich, assume primary importance. Urich is intimidated, his wife is nearly killed, and finally he himself kills, all in harrowing detail, and all because of the ripples from his subject’s actions. Yes, the Catholic redemption of Daredevil is important, but nothing is more (to use Mazzucchelli’s phrase in his introduction) gut-wrenching than watching the smashed up lives of the minor characters.’
August 31, 2012
[comics] Thirteen Comics Purchases You Can Make For The Same Price As Buying Before Watchmen As Serial Comics … some interesting ideas for new comics to explore from Tom Spurgeon‘I’m hoping to engage a broader point about what comics cost and what is presented to us as something to buy. $145 at the comics shop is what one of the major players in the market is telling me is a worthwhile way to spend my money. Here are 13 other pretty casually gathered-together options for that same outlay.’
September 1, 2012
[apple] Leaked Genius Bar manual shows Apple’s smooth seductions … The Register provides some fascinating details from training materials for Apple Store staff … ‘There is also a list of key phrases not to be used by Genius Bar staff. Apple hardware does not “bomb,” “crash,” “bang,” or even “freeze.” Instead it “unexpectedly quits,” “does not respond,” or “stops responding.” Similarly there’s no such thing as a “bug” or “problem,” just a “condition” or “situation.” Such vocabulary rules are not uncommon in the industry (this hack was once told never to write something is “cheaper” in product documentation, only that it is “less expensive”) but parts of the manual do read rather like a manual on seduction.’
September 3, 2012
[spam] All the Spammers in the World May Only Make $200 Million a Year‘It is just so cheap to send spam and even if you only ensnare a tiny number of people, that’s enough to make it worthwhile. Rao and Reiley estimate that only 1 in 25,000 people need somehow buy something through spam advertising to make it worthwhile.’
September 4, 2012
[space] Gizmodo: All the American Flags On the Moon Are Now White

According to lunar scientist Paul Spudis: For forty-odd years, the flags have been exposed to the full fury of the Moon’s environment – alternating 14 days of searing sunlight and 100° C heat with 14 days of numbing-cold -150° C darkness. But even more damaging is the intense ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the pure unfiltered sunlight on the cloth (modal) from which the Apollo flags were made. Even on Earth, the colors of a cloth flag flown in bright sunlight for many years will eventually fade and need to be replaced. So it is likely that these symbols of American achievement have been rendered blank, bleached white by the UV radiation of unfiltered sunlight on the lunar surface. Some of them may even have begun to physically disintegrate under the intense flux.

September 5, 2012
[comics] Diesel Sweeties On 2001: A Space Odyssey

Diesel Sweeties On 2001

September 6, 2012
[comics] The Daily Mash: Men torn between Anna Karenina and Dredd 3D‘Sure Dredd 3D will have heads exploding in slow motion, customised motorbikes and flamethrowers, but Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina is a classic portrayal of forbidden love with a timeless social message.’
September 7, 2012
[comics] The Supreme Writer … Alan Moore Interview (from 1999) On Jack Kirby … ‘So I met Jack very briefly before or after that panel, but all I remember was that aura he had around him. This sort of walnut colored little guy with a shackle of white hair and these craggy Kirby drawn features. This sort of stockiness. I just remember him chatting with me and Frank Miller and he was saying in this kind of raspy voice, “You kids, I think you’re great. You kids, what you’ve done is terrific. I really want to thank you.” It was almost embarrassing to have Jack Kirby thanking me. I just assured him that it was me who should be thanking him, sort of because he had done so much to contribute to my career. He had a glow around him, Jack Kirby. He was somebody very, very special.’
September 10, 2012
[phones] Auto Crrect Ths! … James Gleick on auto correct on phones / computers … ‘ In the past, we were responsible for our own typographical errors. Now Autocorrect has taken charge. This is no small matter. It is a step in our evolution — the grafting of silicon into our formerly carbon-based species, in the name of collective intelligence. Or unintelligence as the case may be. Earlier this year, the police in Hall County, Ga., locked down the West Hall schools for two hours after someone received a text message saying, “gunman be at west hall today.” The texter had typed “gunna,” but Autocorrect had a better idea.’ [via YMFY]
September 11, 2012
[comics] Glyn Dillon: The Nao of Brown … a preview of Glyn Dillon’s new comic The Nao Of Brown (with interview) … ‘A dazzling, daring graphic novel of over 200 pages, The Nao of Brown marks the return to comics of Glyn Dillon after 15 years of mainly storyboarding and concept design, and struggling to get personal film and TV proposals to the screen. This is also his first work in the medium as a writer. What started in 2008 as an idea for a spare-time project mushroomed into a year’s obsession, filling almost every waking hour, requiring such intensive work that Dillon wound up in hospital two weeks after completing it.’
September 12, 2012
[comics] With Great Power Comes Great… ‘WEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!’
September 13, 2012
[comics] Director’s Commentary: Glyn Dillon … some notes on the process of creating the graphic novel The Nao Of Brown from Glyn Dillon … ‘I really love drawing with a pencil and paper, I’m pretty sure I’ll never go completely ‘digital’, with a Cintiq or whatever, but at the same time ‘digital’ has changed the way I make comics. And I can definitely say I’m much happier for it.’
September 14, 2012
[comics] Top 10 best Judge Dredd comic-book stories … Discussing the ‘America’ storyline: ‘Judge Dredd’s own Dark Knight Returns, All-Star Superman and Kingdom Come, all wrapped up tight in a blood-splattered Star Spangled Banner.’
September 17, 2012
[movies] 20 Of The Best Movies Never Made … a list of the greatest movies that never made it to the big screen … ‘Napoleon by Stanley Kubrick – A biopic on Napoleon set to be made just after the successes of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kubrick was so enthusiastic to make the project that he confessed to identifying with Bonaparte even down to the way he ate his food. Jack Nicholson was slated to play the title character, but when corporate changes hit MGM, Kubrick lost the approval.’ [via YMFY]
September 19, 2012
[blogging] Pinterest, Tumblr and the Trouble With ‘Curation’ … some thoughts on what you do when you blog with a Pinterest or Tumblr …

Silbermann suggests that collecting online is a form of self-expression for people who don’t create. “If you walk around Brooklyn and ask people how they express themselves,” he said in a speech at New York University, “everyone’s a musician or an artist or a filmmaker. But most of us aren’t that interesting. Most of us are just consumers of that. And when we collect things and when we share those collections with people, that’s how we show who we are in the world.”

Not everyone buys into this, of course. Here’s The Awl’s co-editor, Choire Sicha, for instance, on the subject of rebloggers who fancy themselves curators: “As a former actual curator, of like, actual art and whatnot, I think I’m fairly well positioned to say that you folks with your blog and your Tumblr and your whatever are not actually engaged in a practice of curation. Call it what you like: aggregating? Blogging? Choosing? Copyright infringing sometimes? But it’s not actually curation, or anything like it. . . .” To which a commenter added: “My Tumblr isn’t so much curated space as it is a symptom of deeper pathologies made manifest.”

[apple] Who queues for an iPhone 5? Protesters, hipsters and the jobless … The Register investigates who’s queuing for an iPhone 5 outside London’s Apple Store… ‘The fact that four of the first seven queuers were making films about why people queue for iPhones speaks volumes about pre-launch iPhone hype. Given the media circus surrounding those who shun more practical methods of shopping and instead queue in the British September air, it’s not surprising that all of the first six were representing interest groups on the lookout for publicity.’
September 21, 2012
[movies] Six degrees of Kevin Bacon: scientists expose the seedy underbelly … some of the science behind the Six Degrees of separation theory … ‘Reynolds categorized the few people who surpass the Bacon four degree threshold in his data set as “old, foreign and obscure”. People like William Rufus Shafter, an army officer from the American civil war, who appeared as himself in two short silent films from 1898, and is one of 27 people who are a rule-breaking eight degrees from Bacon.’
September 22, 2012
[funny] Newborn Loses Faith In Humanity After Record 6 Days‘Though he has not yet developed the capacity for speech, extensive cognitive testing has definitively shown that the shockingly perceptive 6-day-old fully understands and accepts that human beings cannot be trusted, that they remain far too ignorant for their opinions to be reliable, that a lack of self-awareness about their own destructive tendencies pervades the species as a whole, and that most are too ineffectual to successfully pursue even the shallow self-interested agendas that rule their lives.’
September 24, 2012
[funny] The 13 most enjoyably passive-aggressive WiFi networks in the short history of WiFi

Amusing WiFi Network Names

September 25, 2012
[docu] A List Of Twelve Terrific Documentaries From Louis Theroux‘A Letter to Zachary – A posthumous love letter from the filmmaker to his murdered friend, it has one of the most explosive and upsetting twists two thirds of the way through. I recently saw this was on the IMDB as one of the most popular documentaries of all time, it’s number two right after Night and Fog. So it’s not exactly obscure but it is totally riveting.’
[funny] A Speculative List Of Jay-Z’s 99 Problems‘#73: Disparity b/t morning coffee preferences in combination with Beyonce insisting that they have breakfast and coffee together every morning leading to being ‘forced’ to drink watered down, half-caff coffee maker coffee, rather than the preferred full-strength french press coffee.’
September 27, 2012
[ios] iOS 6 ad-tracking opt-out … useful how-to on the options for stopping ad-tracking on the latest version of iOS for the iPad and iPhone.
September 29, 2012
[funny] Haters Gonna Hate

Haters Gonna Hate

September 30, 2012
[movies] Ridley Scott’s Storyboards … a look at the sketches Scott uses as storyboards for his movies. It’s interesting to see the Moebius-influenced Alien sketches – Moebius did concept-art for Alien and seems to have inspired Scott.
October 3, 2012
[comics] Alan Moore On the first twenty years of Cerebus … an article from 1997 …

“Did you see the look on her face when I suggested that the whole Cirinist/Kevillist agenda is to smother the light of reason in the dark of emotion? She had absolutely no answer!”

“Dave, that’s the last time I introduce you to my mother.”

October 4, 2012
[comics] Banned and Challenged Comics REVEALED! … a list of frequently banned and challenged comics in American libraries and schools … ‘Two employees of the Jessamine County Public Library in Kentucky were fired after they took it upon themselves to withhold the library’s copy of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier from circulation because they felt it was pornographic.’
October 5, 2012
[tv] Jimmy Savile: The birth of a paedophile hoax on “Have I Got News For You” … the origins of a hoax transcript supposedly from HIGNFY outtakes in which Paul Merton has a mini-breakdown on air and repeatedly insults Jimmy Savile and all but accuses him of being a paedophile …

Co-hoaxer Mike Scott says: “I was annoyed when the script leaked because it was a rough draft in dire need of roughening up. I thought it’d never fool anyone unless it was toned down a bit. I heard that Paul Merton was infuriated by it, which disappointed me at the time.”

“Amusingly,” says Joseph Champniss, “the publication resulted in something similar to what we’d planned, albeit via a more scenic route. It certainly wasn’t a planned forum-leak. Had we realised beforehand what was going to happen, we would have removed the credit from the base of the page! We probably should have put a stop to it sooner, but all three of us were fascinated – and not a little excited – about how far it could conceivably go.

“We found out for sure a bit later when solicitors, apparently acting on behalf of Sir James Savile OBE, managed to close down the site pending an enquiry re libel, defamation of character etc etc. As webmaster, Rob was required to write a legally-binding letter in hardcopy pointing out that the script in question had never actually been ‘officially’ published on the site (and that we had no plans to publish it in the future) before the ban could be lifted.”

One reason why I thought the fake transcript was so convincing was because, I assumed, the people who wrote it were TV insiders. But I was wrong. Appearances can be deceptive.

October 8, 2012
[comics] Wisdom Of The Ancients‘Who were you, DenverCoder9? – WHAT DID YOU SEE?!’

XKCD Cartoon

October 9, 2012
[comics] Alan Moore’s Lost Stan Lee Essay … Originally published in 1983 … ‘Like most readers of that period I had become totally brainwashed by the sheer bellowing overkill of the Marvel publicity machine. If a cover-blurb in formed me that Millie the Model meets The Rawhide Kid was “The Greatest Action Epic of All Time” then by God, so it was and never mind about War and Peace, The Bible, King Solomon’s Mines and Moby Dick. As far as I was concerned, if it wasn’t written by Stan Lee it wasn’t in the running.’
October 10, 2012
[london] London’s top ten rude roads‘Bellenden Road, Peckham, SE15.’
October 11, 2012
[comics] Lost Comics: Garry Leach’s Warpsmith … Forbidden Planet on some unreprinted (until recently) Alan Moore comics from the early part of his career … ‘The Warpsmiths themselves were created by a very young Alan Moore, and subsequently worked up into fully formed characters by Moore and Garry Leach for Warrior magazine, where they appeared in Marvelman and their own Warpsmith strips. According to reports, Leach was gifted ownership complete by Moore, and subsequently allowed their use in Miracleman, where they become an important part of the final Olympus storyline. When Garry Leach started the A1 anthology in ’89, he and Moore brought the Warpsmiths back. And that’s about it. A short but important history. Lost to time now. Except…’
October 12, 2012
[maps] The Phantom Island of Brazil … the fascinating story of a imaginary island … ‘Map-readers knew about Brazil long before America was discovered; but they didn’t think of it as a giant country on a distant continent. Brazil, also known by the name Hy-Brasil, was a small, mist-shrouded island in the North Atlantic, not too far off Ireland’s west coast. Only, Hy-Brasil never existed…’
October 14, 2012
[comics] Q&A with Chris Ware‘Q: If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose? A: My grandmother.’
October 15, 2012
[comics] The Credible Hulk

October 16, 2012
[webstalking] Find that fireball! When journalist turns stalker … fascinating demonstration of efficient webstalking … ‘Back to the video for more clues. As the camera panned across the garden, we saw palm trees come into view – not so common in New York, perhaps, but pretty ubiquitous in Florida. We honed in on Naples, Florida. The knowledge database Wolfram Alpha returned the weather report below for Naples, Florida on the date the video was uploaded (October 5), and the word thunderstorm leaped out.’
October 17, 2012
[comics] The Avengers vs. Batman‘And you, Mr Wayne… take away your Batsuit and what are you?’
October 18, 2012
[comics] Dan Clowes inks Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko‘Every once and a while, here at danielclowes.com HQ, we’ll pull out unusual artifacts that were uncovered while rummaging through the artist’s archives (often to the discomfort of Mr. Clowes) to share with all.’
October 19, 2012
[web] The Gospel According to Pinterest … The New York Times on Pinterest – notably that an estimated 10% of Pinterest web traffic comes from inspirational quotes

“It’s one thing for a family member to tell you to get yourself together,” Ms. Martinez said. “It’s quite another when a person you follow on Pinterest presents some sound advice with a great typeface on a pretty background.”

October 22, 2012
[conspiracy] Jimmy Savile and David Icke – All the Pieces Matter … a summary of all the comspiracy theories posted to David Icke’s internet forum regarding Jimmy Savile … ‘Is it possible he has shaved his head or dyed his hair, smokes cigarettes and wears old man’s clothes and NHS glasses? Who would recognise an old man living in a semi-reclusive life that looked like that? I’m sure if he had the influence people here are suggesting, a fake death could have been arranged.’
October 23, 2012
[movies] Behind the Scenes of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” … fascinating collection of movie production photographs from Retronaut.
October 24, 2012
[comics] The Thrills and Chills of Jack Kirby’s Next Issue Teasers in ‘Captain America’ … a look back at some of the back-issue blurbs from Kirby’s run on Captain America in the 70’s from Chris Sims‘I’m particularly excited about #209’s promise of “Yesterday’s fantasy! Today’s truth! Tomorrow’s terror?!”, which of course turned out to be a dude with a video camera for a head and a giant TV with his face on it where his stomach should’ve been. And the fact that Kirby considered that to be “yesterday’s fantasy” and “tomorrow’s truth” is a pretty good summary of everything great about his work.’
October 28, 2012
[bbc] BREAKING NEWS: BBC 2 declares War on BBC 1‘Fierce hand to hand fighting at BBC Television Centre escalated into a mortar battle in the early hours, as BBC 1 responded with heavy rounds of rocket fire, killing four Newsnight producers and prompting an application for voluntary redundancy from a fifth. Blue helmeted health and safety officials tried to separate the fighters, but were unable to produce the correct paperwork, and were asked to leave at gunpoint by privatised security staff.’
October 29, 2012
[movies] Behind the Scenes of Alien … some more movie production photographs from Retronaut [via Ian Bettridge].
October 30, 2012
[blogs] Jean-Paul Sartre’s Blog

This morning over breakfast S. asked me why I looked so glum.

“Because,” I said, “everything that exists is born for no reason, carries on living through weakness, and dies by accident.”

“Jesus,” S. said. “Aren’t you ever off the clock?”

October 31, 2012
[halloween] Concrete Zombie Garden Gnome … available to buy on Etsy. Happy Halloween! …

Zombie Garden Gnome

November 1, 2012
[comics] Bizarro Back Issues: Dracula Fights The Silver Surfer Because of Reasons (1976) … Chris Sims analyses a weirder than usual issue of The Tomb of Dracula‘I will take issue with the Surfer’s dialogue on the cover about Dracula being “the most deadly horror the Earth has ever known.” Believe me, I will be the first one to agree that Dracula is a pretty bad dude, but the Silver Surfer used to hang out with a guy who literally ate planets to survive. Dracula eats people, yes, but on his best day, I really don’t think he could eat six billion of ’em at once. Not that he wouldn’t try.Case in point, our story opens with Dracula doing what Dracula does, which is attempting to eat a young lady, calling everyone around him fools and dolts, and then flying off in a huff…’ [via Sore Eyes]
[life] 30ft effigy of Lance Armstrong wearing a Jim’ll Fix it badge to be burnedBonfire Society members said it was not easy to choose Armstrong, who had all his results from August 1998 removed on the recommendation of the United States Anti-Doping Agency and banned from cycling for life. Society co-ordinator Charles Laver said Savile and hook-handed cleric Abu Hamza were ruled out, as was Chancellor George Osborne for being “a bit boring”.
November 2, 2012
[funny] Back From Yet Another Globetrotting Adventure, Indiana Jones Checks His Mail And Discovers That His Bid For Tenure Has Been Denied‘Dr. Jones’s behavior on campus has led not only to disciplinary action but also to concerns as to the state of his mental health. In addition to multiple instances of public drunkenness, Dr. Jones, on three separate occasions, has attempted to set fire to the herpetology wing of the biology department. Perhaps most disturbing, however, are the statements that come directly from Dr. Jones’s mouth. Several faculty members maintain that Dr. Jones informed them on multiple occasions of having discovered the Ark of the Covenant, magic diamond rocks, and the Holy Grail!’
November 5, 2012
Gangnam Style Is Now the Third Most Popular YouTube Video Ever. Here Are Numbers 1 and 2 … Alexis Madrigal on the most popular YouTube videos… ‘If you’re old, you may not understand why these music videos have such obscenely high view counts. But the kids these days — by which I mean everyone in their 20s and below — seem to use YouTube like a jukebox. A jukebox that’s free and shows motion pictures! (Even if it is low-fidelity and seemingly the worst possible way of listening to music on a computer.)’
November 6, 2012
[crime] Light Entertainment: Our Paedophile Culture … Compelling, long-read from Andrew O’Hagan on Jimmy Savile, the BBC and British Culture …

Savile went to work in light entertainment and thrived there: of course he did, because those places were custom-built for men who wanted to dandle dreaming kids on their knees. If you grew up during ‘the golden era of British television’, the 1970s, when light entertainment was tapping deep into the national unconscious, particularly the more perverted parts, you got used to grown-up men like Rod Hull clowning around on stage with a girl like Lena Zavaroni. You got used to Hughie Green holding the little girl’s hand and asking her if she wanted an ice-cream. Far from wanting an ice-cream, the little girl was starving herself to death while helpfully glazing over for the camera and throwing out her hands and singing ‘Mama, He’s Making Eyes at Me’. She was 13.

There’s something creepy about British light entertainment and there always has been. Joe Orton meets the Marquis de Sade at the end of the pier, with a few Union Jacks fluttering in the stink and a mother-in-law tied in bunting to a ducking-stool. Those of us who grew up on it liked its oddness without quite understanding how creepy it was. I mean, Benny Hill? And then we wake up one day, in 2012, and wonder why so many of them turned out to be deviants and weirdos. Our papers explode in outrage and we put on our Crucible expressions before setting off to the graveyard to take down the celebrity graves and break them up for landfill. Of course. Graffiti the plaques and take down the statues, because the joy of execration must match the original sin, when we made heroes out of these damaged and damaging ‘entertainers’. We suddenly wish them to have been normal, when all we ever ask of our celebrities is that they be much more fucked up than we are. And what do we do now? Do we burn the commemorative programmes, scratch their names from the national memory?

November 7, 2012
[movies] Go Look: The original, unaltered period photo into which actor Jack Nicholson was composited to create the iconic photograph seen in the final shots of The Shining.
November 8, 2012
[sorkin] Sorkinisms – A Supercut … a fascinating edit of Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue recycling on TV and movies over the years ….

November 9, 2012
[comics] Tom Spurgeon On 27 years Of John Constantine: ‘Here’s something I noticed when I got that 27-year-old number. That means that more time has passed between John Constantine being created and now than between the creations of Hal Jordan and John Constantine. That is… I don’t know if that’s depressing or astonishing or what. These characters aren’t young. An era of comics that many of us think of as still ongoing is really receding in the rear view mirror.’
November 12, 2012
[london] 150 great things about the Underground … a blog celebrating 150 years of the London Underground … ‘On 10 January 2013, the London Underground will be 150 years old. This blog is a personal catalogue, in no particular order, of some of the network’s finest features, sensations and oddities. Think of it as a well-meaning doff of a roundel-sized hat…’
November 13, 2012
[war] Pakistani Boy, U.S. Drone Form Unlikely Friendship: ‘An unlikely friendship has developed between a 9-year-old Pakistani boy and a U.S. MQ-1 Predator drone in North Waziristan. “You’d think they would have nothing in common, and yet you see them together all the time, wandering around the countryside hand in wing,” area merchant Siraj Rahmad told reporters…’
November 14, 2012
[space] Happy Little Crater on Mercury … Another smiley face crater for Dr Manhattan to visit in our Solar System.
November 15, 2012
[web] The Hacking Of A General’s Mistress … a look at how long it takes to hack a password used by General Petraeus’ girlfriend … ‘Using oclHashtcat, it’ll take 17 hours to crack her password using a GPU accelerator trying 3.5-billion password attempts per second, trying all combinations of upper/lower case and digits. After doing this, you’ll discover the original password is “vsKLVg8L”. This is a fairly strong password, consisting of random upper/lower case letters and numbers, which is why it takes 17 hours to crack.’
November 16, 2012
[movies] Shooting 2001 … some amazing behind-the-scenes photos of the shooting of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
November 19, 2012
[words] First Known Use Of OMG – – in a 1917 letter to Winston Churchill …

First Known Use Of OMG

November 20, 2012
[crime] Don Jimmy Gambino OBE … a look at a another side of Jimmy Savile – was he a gangster? … ‘We may never find out who Jimmy Savile really was: whether the entertainer, the philanthropist, the discotheque pioneer, the loner, the Bevin Boy, the loyal company man, the daft-coiffed eccentric, the secure-mental-hospital administrator, the all-in wrestler, the sociopath, the counsellor to royalty, the morgue attendant, the marathon runner or the serial sex fiend. At various times he was all those things.’
November 23, 2012
[comics] Dave Sim’s 1986 Marvel Portfolio

Shang-Chi Master Of Kung Fu

November 26, 2012
[winning] Is it possible to improve your chances of winning big in the National Lottery? … interesting look at how to improve your chances of not sharing your winnings if your UK Lottery numbers are selected … ‘There is also a clear popularity trend for lower numbers ending with a 7, namely 7, 17 and 27.’
December 5, 2012
[comics] Brendan McCarthy: ‘Best Of Milligan & McCarthy Due 2013’‘Expect a big announcement on that from a major comics company soon. It will include pretty much all the classic ’80s material from Peter Milligan and myself: Paradax!, Rogan Gosh, Skin, Freakwave, etc., plus some early, archival snippets from The Electrick Hoax and Summer of Love.’
December 6, 2012
[tv] New Season Of ‘Downton Abbey’ Jumps Forward To Year 2121

“Downton fans around the world will be thrilled with what we have in store for the Crawley offspring and their service drones as they navigate life in the 22nd century,” Fellowes said of the new season, which features eight new episodes and a film-length Christmas special set on a distant vacation crater. “Robert, Earl of Grantham, once saved Downton by marrying the American heiress Cora. Now, new and old worlds collide again as their progeny vie for territory against a proud lineage of space clones who have forcibly invaded the family’s colony.”

December 7, 2012
[life] Dying rock stars’ famous last words‘Barry White (to his nurse): Leave me alone, I’m fine.’