January 1, 2016
January 4, 2016
[comics] Steve Bell’s top five cartoons of the year … ‘Show the Queen your Tonsils! Traitor!!’
January 5, 2016
[books] William Gibson on the Individual: ‘We do tend to have this unexamined assumption that the individual is a huge fucking deal. Because it feels to use that we are. Because our neurological equipment seems to demonstrate to each of us that we are quite obviously the exact center of the universe. Just as we are all, subjectively, politically quite sensibly centrist. The key to racism is that racists literally don’t know they are. They think it’s a specious category invented to shame them for simply being sensible.’
January 6, 2016
[mh370] MH370 Was Crippled by Sudden Electrical Failure … another theory on missing Flight MH370…
In a Daily Beast special report, I examined a scenario in which a fire in the forward cargo hold of the 777, originating in a consignment of lithium-ion batteries that were being shipped on the airplane, could have breached a wall and reached the Main Equipment Center, seriously degrading the airplane’s avionics and leading to the incapacitation of the crew and passengers.
However, the avionics for the Satellite Data Unit, sending the pings, was located not in the Main Equipment Center but well clear of it, in the roof of the cabin behind the wings, because that is where the antenna to access the satellite is best positioned.
The picture in the Australian report of an airplane stricken by a sudden and extensive loss of electrical power, while in no way definitive, is entirely consistent with this scenario.
Indeed, the report gives dramatic new clarity to the “zombie flight” version of events in which the airplane, by then fatally crippled, makes one final change of course and then flies into the vast emptiness of the southern Indian Ocean without any sign of human direction or control.
January 7, 2016
[truecrime] Serial thrillers: why true crime is popular culture’s most wanted … a look at the rise of True Crime … ‘Even now, true crime magazines tend to be displayed by newsagents closer to porn titles than the Economist. In publishing, a market leader is John Blake Books – a firm whose lists are unlikely to come under scrutiny by judges of the Man Booker prize. Currently touted Blake titles include Doctors Who Kill and The Yorkshire Ripper: The Secret Murders. But an almost universal fascination with the extremities of human behaviour means the loftier parts of the arts also push through the police tape at crime scenes. In the 1930s, the New Yorker, the most literarily pristine of American magazines, began to profile killers of the sort that obsessed pulpier rivals. Next month marks the 50th anniversary of Truman Capote’s book In Cold Blood, which investigated, in a manner that has clearly influenced Serial, a mass killing in Kansas.’
January 8, 2016
[fb] An Inside Look at a Facebook Data Center …. ‘Maybe this is why some of the moments where conversation switched from the technical operations to Facebook-speak felt so awkward, but unintentionally so, like when Facebook’s algorithm decides to fill your Year in Review with pictures of an ex-boyfriend. It’s a brand that becomes harder and harder to empathize with the more it insists on trying to be empathetic, maybe because it’s not clear if there’s a distinction between an empathy engine and a branding engine or maybe because I am generationally disinclined to trust anything that’s too big to fail.’
January 11, 2016
[hertzog] Lo And Behold, Reveries Of The Connected World Trailer … a new documenatary about the Internet from Werner Hertzog …
January 12, 2016
[facts] The Best Facts I Learned from Books in 2015 … ‘Speaking of preachers, the word “poltergeist” was coined by Martin Luther. (From Philip Ball’s “Invisible: The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen.”) Thirteen years after he posted his famous ninety-five theses on the doors of a church in Wittenberg, Martin Luther wrote a pamphlet listing a hundred and fourteen grievances against the Catholic Church. The fifth item—following close on the heels of indulgences—was just one word long: “poltergeists.” (He objected to the way the Church used ghost stories to frighten congregants into holding multiple masses for the dead, supposedly to quiet their souls.)’
January 13, 2016
[tech] Why Activists Wanted to Destroy Early GPS Satellites … fascinating story about an axe attack on an unlaunched GPS satellite in the 1990s and the motivations behind it … ‘GPS’ major media debut took place on the battlefield during the 1991 Gulf War, where GPS-guided cruise missiles took out Iraqi infrastructure and soldiers carried commercial GPS receivers (the system was still incomplete in 1991, and as a result all GPS operations during the Gulf War had to be coordinated within specific time windows to be sure there were enough satellites overhead). When explaining the Gulf War’s influence on the Brigade, Lumsdaine noted that “most of the civilian casualties of Operation Desert Storm came after the war because the infrastructure was targeted; the water, the electric lines, the generating stations. GPS was critical for taking out the electric grid of Iraq… with the electricity came repercussions with water filtration plans and so forth.” Crippling infrastructure is a long-term attack strategy, and GPS let the military enact it with ruthless precision.’
January 15, 2016
[fail] The 100 Most Important Fails Of All Time … go and look at this epic collection of Fails.
January 18, 2016
[magic] Seems Legit: We Talked to a Witch Who Casts Viruses Out of Computers With Magic … ‘There’s all different kinds of energies, including entities that may or may not be noticeable to human beings. You might want to call them ghosts or angels or spirits or demons. Think of demons as entities—they eat, they absorb energy, and they want to be fed. Computers are a vast store of electromagnetic energy, as well as messages. Sometimes when a demon is in a computer system, it’s just like a roach in a kitchen. It just eats and stays out of the way. But some demons are working for someone’s who’s trying to hurt you, and those are the really hard ones.’
January 19, 2016
[headlines] Evening Standard Billboard Flashback: January 2006 …
January 20, 2016
[fb] How to block the companies tracking you on Facebook … useful step-by-step guide to improving your privacy with Facebook
January 21, 2016
[life] Don’t freak out, but scientists think octopuses ‘might be aliens’ after DNA study … LOVECRAFT WAS RIGHT!! … ‘Octopus DNA is highly rearranged – like cards shuffled and reshuffled in a pack – containing numerous so-called “jumping genes” that can leap around the genome. “The octopus appears to be utterly different from all other animals, even other molluscs, with its eight prehensile arms, its large brain and its clever problem-solving abilities,” said US researcher Dr Clifton Ragsdale, from the University of Chicago. ‘
January 22, 2016
[sweets] Sugarless Gummy Bears Are Not Safe for Humans … how to disrupt your bowels with a few mouthfuls of Gummy Bears … ‘The beginning of the end. The bears opened my lower pod bay door and a gummy hell sprang forth. I made it to the toilet, just barely. My watery shit looked like a blend of bile and egg flower soup.’
January 25, 2016
[fb] Why Facebook Won, and Other Hard Truths … some interesting thoughts on Facebook’s success against the Open Web … ‘People read the web now at the level they read email — they look at a lot of stuff. And what they want (and what many people continue to shame them for) is a standard interface that allows them to do that without feeling stressed. You want to win against Facebook? Let go of the idea of people reading your stuff on your site, and develop or support interfaces that put your readers in control of how they view the web instead of giving the control to the people with the servers. Support people looking into federated recommendation systems. Make friends with the idea of full copies of your stuff flowing across the web instead of links.’
January 26, 2016
[funny] Literally Just 21 Mr Burns Quotes On Pictures Of Donald Trump … ‘Family, religion, friendship. These are the three demons you must slay if you wish to succeed in business.’
January 27, 2016
[howto] YouTube Loop … useful guide to looping YouTube videos.
January 28, 2016
[conspiracy] Secret success: equations give calculations for keeping conspiracies quiet … The mathematics of conspiracies … ‘Through his equations, Grimes calculated that hoax moon landings (410,000 people) would have been revealed in three years eight months, climate change fraud (405,000 people) in three years and nine months, a coverup of unsafe vaccinations (22,000) in three years and two months and a suppressed cancer cure (714,000 people) in three years and three months. “My results suggest that any conspiracy with over a few hundred people rapidly collapses, and big science conspiracies would not be sustainable,” he said. Grimes also looked at the maximum number of people who could take part in a conspiracy in order to maintain it. For a plot to last five years, the maximum was 2,521. For a scheme to remain under wraps for more than a decade, fewer than 1,000 people can be involved.’
January 29, 2016
[toys] Stormtroopers – the world’s biggest army? … a BBC reporter attempts to find out how many Star Wars Action Figures have been sold since 1977 … ‘My first significant breakthrough came from an unlikely source – the Leicestershire County Council Museum Service. The original Star Wars toys were produced under license in the UK by a company called Palitoy. They had a factory in Coalville in Leicestershire, and the museum inherited some of its paper. An internal company newsletter from 1985 revealed it had sold 25 million action figures in the UK alone – more than one toy for every child in the country at the time.’