June 3, 2013
[london] Highgate Vampire
… fascinating story of the creation of a urban-legend in 1970s … ‘The Hampstead and Highgate Express reported [Seán Manchester] on 27 February 1970 as saying that he believed that ‘a King Vampire of the Undead’, a medieval nobleman who had practised black magic in medieval Wallachia (Romania), had been brought to England in a coffin in the early eighteenth century, by followers who bought a house for him in the West End. He was buried on the site that later became Highgate Cemetery, and Manchester claimed that modern Satanists had roused him. He said the right thing to do would be to stake the vampire’s body, and then behead and burn it, but this would nowadays be illegal. The paper headlined this: ‘Does a Vampyr walk in Highgate?’ Manchester later claimed, however, that the reference to ‘a King Vampire from Wallachia’ was a journalistic embellishment. Nevertheless, the 1985 edition of his book also speaks of an unnamed nobleman’s body brought to Highgate in a coffin from somewhere in Europe. In his interview of 27 February, Manchester offered no evidence in support of his theory.’
June 4, 2013
[comics] Silver Age Superman – An Early Pick-up Artist?
… Is Superman using his powers to neg Lois?
June 6, 2013
[conspiracy] Bilderberg 2013: welcome to 1984
… fascinating look at Watford’s reaction to the Bilderberg conference
turning up in their borough …
The auditorium grew hushed as a senior Watford borough councillor took to his feet. The police liaison team looked nervous. They had made their presentation and laid out their plans for this “unique event”: the anti-terrorism zones, the identity checks, the restriction on vehicles stopping in the vicinity of this “important international conference”. But now it was the turn of the people of Watford to speak.
What would they make of this international three-day policy summit, with its heavyweight delegate list bulging with billionaire financiers, party leaders and media moguls, protected by the biggest security operation Watford has ever seen?
“What this whole thing boils down to,” boomed the councillor, “is this: are you, or are you not, setting a precedent for vehicles parking on the verge of the Old Hempstead Road?”
June 7, 2013
[comics] Has DC Comics done something stupid today?
… ‘Are you tired of having to comb through dozens of articles trying to figure out if DC Comics has done something cringeworthy today? Would you like to be the first person to know how long it’s been since DC’s alienated fans, minorities or people with discerning taste? Do you like regularly experiencing schaudenfreude at the expense of a major corporate entity?’
[comics] The Believer – Interview with Alan Moore
… ‘Retroactively I can see that a lot of my earlier work was starting to center around themes that would become a lot more lucid when I did understand them in a magical context. The sense of timelessness or the fact that time may have a very different nature than that which we perceive has been there since my earliest 2000 AD short stories. It was there in Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen, it was there with William Gull in From Hell, and it’s there at the moment at the forefront of Jerusalem. So a lot of these things, even if they weren’t specifically magical, you start to see that, unintentionally, they were approaching a similar territory.’
June 10, 2013
[funny] Man On Cusp Of Having Fun Suddenly Remembers Every Single One Of His Responsibilities
… more from the Onion
Platt, who reportedly sunk into a distracted haze after coming to the razor’s edge of experiencing genuine joy, fully intended to go through the motions of talking with friends and appearing to have a good time, all while he mentally shopped for a birthday present for his mother, wracked his brain to remember if he had turned in the itemized reimbursement form from his New York trip to HR on time, and made a silent note to call his bank about a mysterious recurring $19 monthly fee that he had recently discovered on his credit card statement.
“Everything’s fine,” said the tense, mentally absent man whose girlfriend asked him what was wrong after his near-giddy buzz vanished and he remembered that he hadn’t called his aunt yet to check up on her after her surgery. “I’m having fun.”
June 11, 2013
[people] Rich Kids Of Instagram
… Let me tell you about the very rich. They have more luggage than you and me.
June 13, 2013
[politics] Whistleblowers Are Weird
… The Daily Beast on Edward Snowden … ‘[Whistleblowers] are weird in their own way, because they have to be in order to be willing to violate the trust of their group in order to protect a principle. In Eyal Press’ book on dissenters, Beautiful Souls, they come off as rigid, idealistic, a bit self-righteous, and more than a little naive. Those are not characteristics that make you fit in.’
June 14, 2013
[fun] Ed Balls Teaches Typing
… old-school web fun with Ed Balls
[comics] Man Of Steel: Why Hollywood Needs A Break From Superhero Movies
… Joe Queenan on superhero movies … ‘The most interesting thing about the popularity of superhero movies is that they are insanely expensive to make, yet they spring from a plebian, populist artform. Comic books, at least until recently, were cheap. They were beautifully drawn and exciting, but they were still basically cheap. That was the point. Movies are not cheap, especially not in 3D. Comic book heroes, like football players, have lost all contact with their proletarian roots.’
June 17, 2013
[dailyfail] What do Daily Mail commenters think about young criminals?
… a look into the mind of a commenter on the Daily Mail’s website… ‘The Daily Mail is a newspaper generally catering to a right-leaning audience that mourns the death of England proper. Its website’s commenters fit that mould and there is plenty that they would like government to resurrect. Typing in “bring back” shows some of the things that they are after. Corporal or capital punishment is at the top of their list with some comments stating adamantly that the birch should make a return.’
June 18, 2013
[crime] Russian Mafia Tombstones
… Live Fast and leave a gravestone to be puzzled over by archaeologists in a 1000 years time … ‘These photos were taken in the cemetery of Dnepropetrovsk, in the Ukraine, a place much like the mafia-infested Yekaterinburg, in Mother Russia. Although the two cities are 2,000 km apart, mafia fashion is very much the same. During the Russian Mafia Wars of the ’90s bosses started commissioning these lavish tombstones for them and their loyal subjects.’
June 20, 2013
[tech] Internet Anonymity Is The Height Of Chic
… A look at the plausibility of remaining anonymous from Google and the Internet … ‘In the 1930s, HG Wells wrote of a “world brain” through which “the whole human memory can be … made accessible to every individual”. Today, perhaps we have that world brain, and it is called Google. Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, professor of internet governance and regulation at the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute, sounds an Orwellian note about this: “Quite literally, Google knows more about us than we can remember ourselves.” No wonder some dream of slipping under Google’s radar.’
June 21, 2013
[people] James Gandolfini, 1961-2013
… David Remnick remembers James Gandolfini …
Gandolfini was the focal point of “The Sopranos,” the incendiary, sybaritic neurotic who must play the Godfather at home and at the Bada Bing but knows that everything—his family, his racket, his way of life—is collapsing all around him.
As the seasons passed, Gandolfini gained weight at an alarming pace. His death, at the age of fifty-one, in Italy, does not come entirely as a shock. But that makes it no less a loss. Gandolfini was not a fantastically varied actor. He played within a certain range. Like Jackie Gleason, he’ll be remembered for a particular role, and a particular kind of role, but there is no underestimating his devotion to the part of a lifetime that was given to him. In the dozens of hours he had on the screen, he made Tony Soprano—lovable, repulsive, cunning, ignorant, brutal—more ruthlessly alive than any character we’ve ever encountered in television.
June 24, 2013
[tv] Clive James on The Sopranos
… ‘The abiding complexity of Tony’s character lies in the way he must bring into balance two different considerations. Outside the house, his powers are unlimited. Inside it, he can affect the behaviour of others only to a certain extent, because they know he won’t kill them. Vivid as it is, this is a real conflict, genuinely subtle and complicated, continually surprising. Tony’s wife, Carmela, and his children A. J. and Meadow, are for ever cutting down to size the very man who would take a long knife to them if they were not his property.’
June 25, 2013
[security] Anatomy of a Hack: How Crackers Ransack Passwords Like “qeadzcwrsfxv1331”
… A fascinating look at how easy it is to crack passwords … ‘Even the least successful cracker of our trio—who used the least amount of hardware, devoted only one hour, used a tiny word list, and conducted an interview throughout the process—was able to decipher 62 percent of the passwords. Our top cracker snagged 90 percent of them.’
June 26, 2013
[people] Tony Blackburn’s Autobiography Compressed
… amusing collection of Smashie and Nicey-style quotes from Blackburn’s autobiography …
June 27, 2013
[comics] 60 Comics Everyone Should Read
… great list of comics from Buzzfeed highlighting why it’s a great time to be reading comics at the moment … On Jimmy Corrigan – The Smartest Kid on Earth: ‘The story is so densely rich, packed with graphic delights and somber realizations, but mostly it’s heartbreaking — so heartbreaking that you’ll occasionally have to put it down, collect yourself, and start reading again as your heart sinks further and further into your gut. A masterpiece, indeed.’
June 28, 2013
[numbers] Pi Versus Information Theory
… searching for meaning in Pi… ‘Is all of life written in pi? No. There is nothing there. For every fact you might find, you would also find the exact opposite. For every name of someone you might love, there would be countless other names. Claude Shannon would tell us that a sequence of random numbers contains no information, which he describes as “the removal of uncertainty.” No uncertainty is removed through perusal of the digits of pi.’