[space] What Does Space Sound Like?
… It turns out that Space is very noisy … ‘I met NASA astronaut Ron Garan in early 2012, when he had just returned from a six-month mission on board the International Space Station. He explained to me that the sonic environment in a real spacecraft is a long way from being serene. Even outside on a spacewalk (his previous mission had included a walk that lasted six and a half hours), there is no silence. Indeed, it would have been worrying if there had been, because it would have meant that the pumps circulating air for him to breathe had stopped working. Spacecraft are full of noisy mechanical devices, such as refrigerators, air-conditioning units, and fans. Theoretically, the noise could be reduced, but quieter, heavier machines would be expensive to lift into orbit.’
[funny] 5 People on Etsy Who Are Clearly Serial Killers Part 1 | Part 2 …
‘Hey, remember that nightmare you had once where you wandered into that rural cult compound and everyone celebrated the arrival of an outsider by tying you to a banquet table, putting on their ceremonial animal masks, and drinking your blood from a chalice? Well, even if you don’t, this nice woman sure does, and she was really hoping you’d like to be reminded for only $30. She’s a Canadian photographer and expert in subtle terror. Objectively, there’s nothing scary about a kid wearing a plastic animal mask, and yet her pictures are so ominous, they look like something you’d find in the attic of a house no one will buy.’
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February 4, 2015
[movies] Typeset In Space: Alien … a wonderfully done blog post on the design and typography in Alien … ‘Back to the action. Ripley is safely on board the shuttle, with no sign of the alien. But wait – just when we think all is rosy, it turns out that the damned thing has also stowed away on the shuttle. Gah! Thankfully, this shuttle comes equipped with a system that pipes highly toxic and flammable SPECIAL GASES into the main cockpit at the press of a button: It’s not immediately clear why this is a particularly useful or safe feature to have in a shuttle. Nonetheless, it certainly comes in handy when there’s an alien hiding in the wall.’
[facebook] The Creepiest Things You Can Do on Facebook … ‘Facebook has essentially just dropped this one right in your lap. If you go to someone’s profile, look to the left. If they have chosen to keep their relationship status hidden, you’ll see a small line prompting you to prod them for that very same sensitive information they’ve actively chosen to keep private. The future!’
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February 6, 2015
[comics] The Quotable Alan Moore … a collection of Alan Moore quotes … ‘Eventually you’ll use everything. You usually put them in some kind of code unless you’re doing a straightforward biography. There’s things I did like ‘A Small Killing’. The central event in that was a boy burying some bugs in a bottle. I did that when I was 8 or 9 and it haunted me. In ‘Big Numbers’ the writer was me, not exactly, but there was enough experience. I borrowed voraciously from my friends lives, sometimes that can feel a bit dodgy. These people, they’re your friends and they’ll pour out details of their lives and part of your brain is this cold vampiric thing writing it all down to use later. I can’t help it I’m a writer.’
[life] Health Experts Recommend Standing Up At Desk, Leaving Office, Never Coming Back … some working life advice from The Onion … ‘We encourage Americans to experiment with stretching their legs by strolling across their office and leaving all their responsibilities behind forever just one time to see how much better they feel. People tend to become more productive, motivated, and happy almost immediately. We found that you can also really get the blood flowing by pairing this activity with hurling your staff ID across the parking lot.’
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February 8, 2015
[politics] Tories Bring US-Style Political Attack Adverts To The UK In Time For The Election … the Tory party are exploiting a gap in the law and using YouTube to target voters … ‘The new campaign tactic, a first in UK politics, enables the Tories to completely bypass Britain’s strict ban on paid-for political TV adverts and allows the party substantially more freedom to target video adverts at individuals in marginal constituencies. What’s more, unlike expensively produced political party broadcasts which are shown in carefully allocated slots on national TV channels, this form of YouTube advertising could enable the Conservatives to produce fast-turnaround negative attack adverts within hours based on recent events.’
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February 9, 2015
[murder] The Chelsea Girl, the Playboy,
the Honest Cop and the Proven Lawyer … a fascinating true crime story from 1967 about the murder of a young French woman in Swinging London … ‘Her body was discovered on the Tuesday by a Mark Shaw Lawrence, the landlord. She had lived in a bedsitter at 17 Walpole Street since July. She was face down on a divan, naked except for a bra and a pyjama top. Dr Donald Teare, the pathologist, after a post-mortem on Wednesday said that death was due to “suffocation following cerebral haemorrhage as a result of blows to the head”. Claudie Danielle, as she was known, a French girl, was said by a neighbour who didn’t want to be named to have “masses of boy friends”. And “her clothes were so extraordinary. She wore long vests like skirts and sombreros”. The police were visiting clubs and discothèques (then a word just coming into English usage) in Chelsea with photographs of Claudie. A ‘vital clue’ taken away by the police from the bedsit was a bundle of some 200 letters and cards, many from boyfriends. No murder weapon had yet been discovered at the crime scene. A description of a man in ‘a red military tunic’ and ‘mod gear’ and with long blond hair had been given to the police. He had been seen waiting outside Claudie’s room at 3am some two weeks earlier. A description that must have fitted half a million guys in the London autumn of 1967.’ [thanks Phil]
[curtis] Infinite Adam Curtis … go watch a perfectly done, never-ending Adam Curtis documentary … ‘Four hundred times a second, on the Moon, Condoleezza Rice tried to undermine Marilyn Monroe. A tipping point which would later be disastrous for those who study their careers…’
“When he started out, Nathan wasn’t what we’d now call a Shoreditch hipster,” Brooker says. “I’d never even been to Shoreditch. It was more about moneyed young guys who claimed to be working in television when really they were living off their parents. He was more of a Made In Chelsea figure, and he kind of morphed into a Hoxton idiot for the TV show.”
Chris Morris, the creator of The Day Today and Brasseye, had written listings in secret for TVGoHome. Around 2000 he suggested that they try to develop a show around the Nathan character and east London’s increasingly absurd club/art scene. “We talked about the show for years before we made it,” says Brooker. “Chris was adamant very early on that there should be a tiny acorn of likability to Nathan, something irrepressible. He does terrible things but he has an endearing sort of rabbity enthusiasm to him. In the fake listings he really was a cunt, whereas in the TV show he’s a twat – and there is a difference.”
[comics] When did the comic-book universe become so banal? … Jonanthan Jones on comics … ‘American cartoonist Chris Ware is considered a brave, modern artist. But how, exactly? With his puppet-like people, isolated in minimalist Edward Hopper-style scenes, his comics are easy to decode once you ‘get’ his style. The studied melancholia of his drawings is unconvincing as visual art, because it all looks so contrived and rigid. His art is basically a set of tics and mannerisms. Yet Ware is the best graphic novelist of the moment – so if he is a cut-price Paul Klee, we should be concerned about the genre. The work of many graphic novelists looks as if they took the same college drawing course; all have learned that good graphic art communicates information. In a comic, this advances the story, but such a functional approach undermines true art…’
Our ignorance of the Islamic State is in some ways understandable: It is a hermit kingdom; few have gone there and returned. Baghdadi has spoken on camera only once. But his address, and the Islamic State’s countless other propaganda videos and encyclicals, are online, and the caliphate’s supporters have toiled mightily to make their project knowable. We can gather that their state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change, even if that change might ensure its survival; and that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world.
The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy, and can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior. Its rise to power is less like the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (a group whose leaders the Islamic State considers apostates) than like the realization of a dystopian alternate reality in which David Koresh or Jim Jones survived to wield absolute power over not just a few hundred people, but some 8 million.
[comics] Nick Abadzis remembers Brett Ewins who sadly died this week … ‘Brett Ewins and Steve Dillon gave me my start in comics as a creator. I’d worked for Marvel UK and Fleetway before I worked for Deadline, but it was Brett and Steve who looked at my portfolio and saw some potential there and gave me a chance as a cartoonist. Brett found a loose, lanky stick man I’d hidden at the back of all the other drawings and asked if the character had a name. He didn’t, but the two of them read the two-page strip and laughed. I can still hear Brett saying, “Yeah, we’ll have this. Can you give us two or three pages of this every month?” They paid fifty quid a page. Later, the name Hugo Tate attached itself to the character, and Brett and Steve gave me more pages as the strip became more popular.’
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February 21, 2015
[tech] How “omnipotent” hackers tied to NSA hid for 14 years—and were found at last … a fascinating look at the NSA’s collection of malware … ‘Beyond the technical similarities to the Stuxnet and Flame developers, Equation Group boasted the type of extraordinary engineering skill people have come to expect from a spy organization sponsored by the world’s wealthiest nation. One of the Equation Group’s malware platforms, for instance, rewrote the hard-drive firmware of infected computers—a never-before-seen engineering marvel that worked on 12 drive categories from manufacturers including Western Digital, Maxtor, Samsung, IBM, Micron, Toshiba, and Seagate. The malicious firmware created a secret storage vault that survived military-grade disk wiping and reformatting, making sensitive data stolen from victims available even after reformatting the drive and reinstalling the operating system. The firmware also provided programming interfaces that other code in Equation Group’s sprawling malware library could access. Once a hard drive was compromised, the infection was impossible to detect or remove.’
[politics] The Daily Telegraph’s promise to its readers, sponsored by Canesten the Daily Mash reprints an announcement from the Telegraph … ‘Once only a newspaper, the Daily Telegraph is now a groundbreaking multi-platform operation comparable to Canesten Combi which is both a cream and a pessary to deal with both the symptoms and the root cause. For the avoidance of any doubt, we have no regard for the burning sensation that Ed Miliband arouses in rival media organisations, believing that he is a parasitical infection on our body politic that can only be alleviated using the market-leading techniques that have made Britain, and by association Canesten, great.’
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[moore] Huge Alan Moore interview from Mustard comedy magazine … Alan shares another theory on who Jack the Ripper might be: ‘In our local paper there was a report about a man called Mallard who believed that Jack the Ripper was a member of his family from the Doddridge Church area of Northampton. His somewhat slender grounds for this theory were that a father in the family had committed suicide and one of the sons then moved down to London and was working in a slaughterhouse in the Whitechapel area during the time of the murders. Not the most convincing theory, but I was quite taken with this story because my mother’s maiden name was Mallard and her family lived around the Doddridge Church area. So in answer to Matt’s question, I’d say that after all of my researches, it turns out that Jack the Ripper was probably my granddad. It’s funny how these things work out, but what can you do?’
[life] The truth about evil … a long-read from John Gray on the nature of evil and how politicians deal with it … ‘Here Blair is at one with most western leaders. It’s not that they are obsessed with evil. Rather, they don’t really believe in evil as an enduring reality in human life. If their feverish rhetoric means anything, it is that evil can be vanquished. In believing this, those who govern us at the present time reject a central insight of western religion, which is found also in Greek tragic drama and the work of the Roman historians: destructive human conflict is rooted in flaws within human beings themselves. In this old-fashioned understanding, evil is a propensity to destructive and self-destructive behaviour that is humanly universal. The restraints of morality exist to curb this innate human frailty; but morality is a fragile artifice that regularly breaks down. Dealing with evil requires an acceptance that it never goes away.’
“The polls are also looking good,” Nuttall continued. This provoked several sharp intakes of breath, before everyone realised he hadn’t been talking about the Poles. To make up for this momentary lapse, they gave Ukip supporter Harjit Singh a standing ovation for being a Sikh.
Elsewhere there was nothing but trouble. Our fish were being stolen, our nuns were being sneered at, our vacuum cleaners were being abused and our foreign aid budget was being spent on teaching Africans to dance. MEP Nathan Gill proudly introduced his new publication, 8 Reasons for Cutting Foreign Aid that featured a photo of a starving African child on the front. “Charity begins at home,” he said. Even our dogs were going to the dogs. All those fancy new cockapoos and labradooodle what nots.
Into this hellish pit of despair, stepped a heavily made-up Nigel Farage…