[politics] Ukip Duo Resign Claiming ‘Occultists’ Have Infiltrated The Party … HAIL HYDRA! Is UKIP being targeted by Angelic Reiki Masters?… ‘A Ukip parliamentary candidate and his branch chairman have resigned after claiming the local party is being infiltrated by what they see as “occultists”. Jake Baynes, who was to run in the Somerset city of Wells at next year’s general election, said he felt he was being driven out by local members, including a couple based in nearby Glastonbury who practise alternative healing, which they claim is inspired and guided by angels.’
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Reactions ranged from incredulity to claims of “Without a doubt, this is the most significant discovery of the age.” and “A truly earth shattering discovery!” Naysayers left comments such as “Hmmm…no dimple on the chin. I call FALSE BOB! CAST HM OUT!”, “That is not ‘Bob’ — it’s a False Bob. Do not be fooled by cheap imitations”, “The shadows are ALL WRONG. The shadows from his nose and cheeks point downwards at a 45 degree angle to the left (DOWN AND TO THE LEFT, DOWN AND TO THE LEFT), but the shadow of his PIPE go down at a 45 degree angle to the RIGHT. It’s LEE HARVEY OSWALD all over again”, and “Note the strange roundness of the pipe.”
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August 4, 2014
[comics] Dear Hollywood: Stop Using Frank Miller’s Batman Stories As Source Material … ‘Experimentation is what has kept superhero comics alive from Batman’s first appearance until this year’s Batman Day. Indeed, The Dark Knight Returns and Year One were huge risks when they hit the stands. But on the big screen, DC is beating Frank Miller’s ideas into the ground. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Miller’s twin Batman epics. But there is something creatively bankrupt about studios focusing on them so monomaniacally. As Miller himself once said, “There are 50 different ways to do Batman and they all work.” Our fate is sealed for Batman v. Superman, but we have to imagine a better future. If an ambitious filmmaker wants to make a truly innovative Batman movie, he or she needs to put Frank’s hard-boiled sagas back on the shelf…’
I am not afraid of clowns. But there’s something that happens when you walk into the forgettable bathroom of a hotel lobby and meet a fully made-up clown standing by the sink, reflection staring back at you with the Kubrickian blankness of a greasepaint grimace.
I almost wet my pants.
Media seminar fresh in my head, I choke the gasp in my throat and try to smile. While I am going for “warm and effusive,” I’m sure my face is more a pained amalgamation of terror. I can only hope that she thinks I’m trying to be polite. I’m sure she gets it all the time.
But. There are reasons people can find clowns to be so unsettling. That makeup: white face; huge, red mouth; drawn-on smile; eyebrows that kiss the hairline. “When it’s up close, it’s the visual equivalent of being screamed at,” explains Jaron Aviv Hollander, the co-founder and artistic director of the Kinetic Arts Center in Oakland. And it’s all the big top’s fault: When a clown is standing in one of three or more rings and playing to a huge crowd, the audience needs to be able to read familiar facial landmarks in order to get the bit.
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August 8, 2014
[blogs] A Brief History of Bloggering … Giles Turnbull reports on the early days of blogs … ‘In the UK, the blogging scene began in London. Greg Fisher remembers it well. “I was blogging about the break-up of my first, second, and third relationships,” he says. Greg’s blog was a huge hit. He had over five regular readers, two of them via RSS. This was a huge success by British standards at the time. By any standards, actually. He couldn’t believe his good fortune.’
[comics] The Complete 14 Batman Window Cameos … ‘A compilation of all 14 window cameos from the 1960s ABC TV series Batman. Almost fifty years later, some of these folks are still remembered today–Others, not so much.’
[tv] The 1979 “Rockford Files” Episode that Inspired “The Sopranos” … David Chase was trying out characters and situations used in the Sopranos twenty years prior to the start of the series … ‘In Just a Coupla Guys, Tony the mob boss (Antony Ponzini) is a doting father who also happens to be a killer. Anthony Jr. (Doug Tobey) is a good kid acting up to get his dad’s attention. Jean (Jennifer Rhodes) is the long-suffering mob wife, trapped in a suburban mansion. And Mr. Lombard (Gilbert Green), is an aging former boss who may or may not have lost his marbles. There’s even a Catholic priest (Arch Johnson), although he’s nowhere near as attractive as Father Phil, the clergyman who caught Carmela Soprano’s eye.’
[space] Modern Art From The Hubble Space Telescope … ‘This is a genuine frame that Hubble relayed back from an observing session. Hubble uses a Fine Guidance System (FGS) in order to maintain stability whilst performing observations. A set of gyroscopes measures the attitude of the telescope, which is then corrected by a set of reaction wheels. In order to compensate for gyroscopic drift, the FGS locks onto a fixed point in space, which is referred to as a guide star. It is suspected that in this case, Hubble had locked onto a bad guide star, potentially a double star or binary. This caused an error in the tracking system, resulting in this remarkable picture of brightly coloured stellar streaks. The prominent red streaks are from stars in the globular cluster NGC 288.’ [via Blech]
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August 14, 2014
[books] Against the Tide … Review of a book profiling the late Mary Whitehouse via her archive of letters … ‘Reading Mary Whitehouse’s letters is like digesting a scrambled Charlie Brooker. Dr Who is “teatime brutality for tots”. The World at War has too much genocide in it. Complaining of Chuck Berry’s performance of “My Ding-a-Ling” on Top of the Pops in 1972, she elicited the observation that the song began “with such a clear account of the contraption in question including bells”, that although the possibility of a double entendre was recognised, the BBC felt it was unlikely to “disturb or emotionally agitate its listeners”. But of course Whitehouse was permanently agitated. In editing this material from her archive, Ben Thompson not only works hard to salvage entertainment from some tedious cultural jeremiads, he also – and more interestingly – tries to make some sense of them…’
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August 15, 2014
[comics] Interviews: learning your A, B, Cs … Pat Mills discusses the A. B. C. Warriors … ‘ I think the ABCs is a rare story that endows machines with personality. This has always seemed an obvious thing to do. To treat them like superheroes but in a more rewarding way. They are a metaphor for working class heroes.’
[tech] Browsing speeds may slow as net hardware bug bites… BBC News on the 512K routing bug … ‘This may come as a surprise to non-specialists who view the internet as a high-tech affair comparable to the bridge of the USS Enterprise of Star Trek fame, in actuality, the internet is more akin to an 18th century Royal Navy frigate, with a lot of running about, climbing, shouting, and tugging on ropes required to maintain the desired course and speed.’
I Liked Everything I Saw on Facebook for Two Days. Here’s What It Did to Me … ‘My News Feed took on an entirely new character in a surprisingly short amount of time. After checking in and liking a bunch of stuff over the course of an hour, there were no human beings in my feed anymore. It became about brands and messaging, rather than humans with messages. Likewise, content mills rose to the top. Nearly my entire feed was given over to Upworthy and the Huffington Post. As I went to bed that first night and scrolled through my News Feed, the updates I saw were (in order): Huffington Post, Upworthy, Huffington Post, Upworthy, a Levi’s ad, Space.com, Huffington Post, Upworthy, The Verge, Huffington Post, Space.com, Upworthy, Space.com.’
Getting to News Feed Zero … What happens if you hide everything on Facebook? … ‘Then, after 500 hidden posts or so, something strange happened. Facebook needed to take a breather. There are no more posts to show right now, it said. I felt like Columbus setting out to find the edge of the Earth, and succeeding. As someone who used to explore the boundaries of video game maps—hoping to find a glitch in the system that would unlock some heretofore unexplored wonders in lieu of actually playing the game itself—this felt momentous. And then it felt lonely…’
[books] Things That Don’t Suck: Some Notes On The Stand … interesting look back and analysis of Steven King’s novel The Stand … ‘When I compared The Stand to The Lord Of The Rings, I wasn’t being idle. The book does very much feel like an American answer to Tolkien (In fairness King actually brings up Watership Down as his point of comparison, about half a dozen times to two Tolkien references. Either way it’s all British epic fantasy to me). King actually knowingly inverts Tolkien in some interesting ways. Making the protagonists all distinctly working class, when Tolkien’s Hobbits were pretty much landed gentry. Posing Flagg in some of his visions, on “a great high place” as Tolkien posed Sauron. And in my favorite tongue and cheek touch, putting his Mordor in the West rather than the East.’
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At the turn of the millennium, Miller and Varley were working on their long-awaited Dark Knight sequel. It was initially hatched as a romp, a reinjection of Day-Glo fun into what had become a relentlessly grim superhero landscape. They were about halfway through the series on September 11, 2001. By this time Miller had moved back to New York, and the assault on his home disturbed him deeply—which again quickly became apparent in his work. In the later issues, Batman decides to let an alien force destroy Metropolis and its citizens, Captain Marvel is killed, and Batman kills a genetically manipulated Robin by hurling him into a lava-filled chasm. “I think there was a PTSD effect,” Varley says of 9/11. “I think many people didn’t get over it, that it will continue to affect their lives forever. And I think Frank is one of those people.”
[comics] Dave Sim And Gerhard: Aardvarks Over The UK … Dave Sim interviewed during a tour of the UK in 1993 … ‘The original idea for Cerebus was simply to do a more interesting comic book. I wanted to do something that had adult values applied to it, as opposed to just doing something along typical comic-book lines. You know, “let’s do a superhero ‘cos they’re selling okay”. And the further along I’ve gone, the more I’ve tried to do something that makes me happy, something that is satisfying to me. I enjoyed superheroes the same as any twelve year old, when I was twelve, but I’m almost forty now, so I put things into Cerebus that I’m interested in now!’