linkmachinego.com

January 3, 2017
[tv] Love Boat Insanity … a fantasy wish list of guest stars for the TV series The Love Boat

January 4, 2017
[moon] The Dark Side of the Moon … go read this powerful profile of Buzz Aldrin …

You smile at him, your face opening the way every single face in the entire world opens when it encounters him. Because he is: Buzz Aldrin. And we are: mankind.

He takes note of your smile, and just as quickly looks past you. It’s the same way with everybody. It’s your pregnant anticipation: I can’t wait to hear the amazing synthesis of moon wisdom you are about to bestow upon me.

He has no idea what to do with that. None. He’s turning 85 this month. He went to the moon when he was 39. Mankind has been coming at him with your same smile ever since. What do you expect him to do with that?

January 5, 2017
[ai] Superintelligence: The Idea That Eats Smart People … some critical analysis by Maciej Cegłowski on the recent hype about the risks Artificial Inteilligence, the Singularity and Simulated Realities … ‘Every base reality can contain a vast number of nested simulations, and a simple counting argument tells us we’re much more likely to live in a simulated world than the real one. But if you believe this, you believe in magic. Because if we’re in a simulation, we know nothing about the rules in the level above. We don’t even know if math works the same way—maybe in the simulating world 2+2=5, or maybe 2+2=👹. A simulated world gives us no information about the world it’s running in. In a simulation, people could easily rise from the dead, if the sysadmin just kept the right backups. And if we can communicate with one of the admins, then we basically have a hotline to God. This is a powerful solvent for sanity. When you start getting deep into simulation world, you begin to go nuts.’
January 6, 2017
[docu] The 16 Best Documentaries of 2016‘Not many movies have been accused of throwing national elections, intentionally or otherwise. And while the sentiment that Weiner is somehow at fault for the presidential result is a bit ridiculous. It’s a testament to the incredibly strange year that directors Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg have had. In January it was an epilogue. In August it became a second act. By November, it had become a prop in a much grander narrative. Yet what is most impressive about Weiner is the way that its treatment of the nuts and bolts of politics only gets more compelling. From the constant thrum of media distraction to the choreographed avoidance of already-made mistakes, it is a film in constant motion. And the scene of Weiner yelling at the unseen head of Lawrence O’Donnell will go down as one of American political cinema’s most resonant images.’
January 9, 2017
[weird] The movie that doesn’t exist and the Redditors who think it does … Do you remember a movie from early Nineties called Shazaam? …

It wasn’t until last year that things took a dramatic turn.

On 11 August 2015, the popular gonzo news site VICE published a story about a conspiracy theory surrounding the children’s storybook characters the Berenstain Bears. The theory went like this: many people remember that the bears’ name was spelt “Berenstein” – with an “e” – but pictures and old copies proved it was always spelt with an “a”. The fact that so many people had the same false memory was seen as concrete proof of the supernatural.

“Berenstein” truthers believe in something called the “Mandela Effect”: a theory that a large group of people with the same false memory used to live in a parallel universe (the name comes from those who fervently believe that Nelson Mandela died while in prison). VICE’s article about the theory was shared widely, leading thousands of people to r/MandelaEffect, a subreddit for those with false memories to share their experiences.

January 10, 2017
[people] Was 2016 especially dangerous for celebrities? An empirical analysis.‘2016’s P200s were: Fidel Castro, Muhammad Ali, David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Johan Cruyff, Bhumibol Adulyadej, Leonard Cohen, Antonin Scalia, Elie Wiesel, Nancy Reagan, John Glenn, Carrie Fisher, Chyna, Harper Lee, Kimbo Slice, Ernst Nolte, Rob Ford, Pierre Boulez, Alan Rickman, Shimon Peres, Christina Grimmie, Terry Wogan, Abbas Kiarostami, and Merle Haggard.’
January 11, 2017
[magic] Occult Symbols of the English Countryside by Tom Gauld.

January 12, 2017
[politics] BBC’s Adam Curtis: How Propaganda Turned Russian Politics Into Theater … This, from Adam Curtis seems pertinent somehow …

So much of the news this year has been hopeless, depressing, and above all, confusing. To which the only response is to say, “oh dear.” What this film is going to suggest is that that defeatist response has become a central part of a new system of political control. And to understand how this is happening, you have to look to Russia, to a man called Vladislav Surkov, who is a hero of our time.

Surkov is one of President Putin’s advisers, and has helped him maintain his power for 15 years, but he has done it in a very new way.

He came originally from the avant-garde art world, and those who have studied his career, say that what Surkov has done, is to import ideas from conceptual art into the very heart of politics.

His aim is to undermine peoples’ perceptions of the world, so they never know what is really happening.

Surkov turned Russian politics into a bewildering, constantly changing piece of theater. He sponsored all kinds of groups, from neo-Nazi skinheads to liberal human rights groups. He even backed parties that were opposed to President Putin.

But the key thing was, that Surkov then let it be known that this was what he was doing, which meant that no one was sure what was real or fake. As one journalist put it: “It is a strategy of power that keeps any opposition constantly confused.”

January 13, 2017
[world] The place furthest from land is known as Point Nemo … A look at the most remotest place on earth – the “oceanic pole of inaccessibility” … ‘Despite writing 66 years before its discovery, science fiction author HP Lovecraft chose a site eerily close to the oceanic pole of inaccessibility for R’lyeh, the home of his legendary tentacle-faced creature Cthulhu.’
January 16, 2017
[shipwrecks] The Last Great Arctic Shipwreck … a look at the history behind the wrecks of HMS Erebus and Terror whose wrecks have recently been found in the Arctic … ‘When it was John Franklin’s turn to etch his name in this roster of arctic disaster he was no noob: a previous harrowing expedition in search of the Passage had earned him the oddly specific nickname “the man who ate his boots.” But the style of expedition Franklin came to represent—what modern British explorer Benedict Allen has described as “the siege, where you took your world with you and set about defeating the place”—was one of the last of its kind. Like the many doomed voyages that came before, Franklin’s ships quickly encountered what British explorer James Clark Ross described as the unforgiving solidity of ice, “not less solid than if it were a land of granite … meetings as mountains in motion would meet, with the noise of thunder.”’
January 17, 2017
[moore] Alan Moore’s Most Controversial Comic Book Stories … Unsurprisingly, this is a long list! … ‘“Saga of the Swamp Thing” was, like pretty much all of DC Comics’ output at the time, approved by the Comics Code Authority. However, that changed with “Saga of the Swamp Thing” #29 (by Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette and John Totleben). The issue included zombies, which were still a “no no” according to the Comics Code, but it also had Abby having sex with her husband, Matt Cable, who was possessed by her uncle Anton Arcane. It was likely way too disturbing for the Comics Code, so DC released the issue without Comics Code approval. Since they knew Moore was going to keep doing these types of stories, DC decided to stop submitting the book for Code approval and then with “Swamp Thing” #31 they began to label the book as “Sophisticated Suspense.”’
January 18, 2017
[murder] Solving the crime that changed my life: the murder of British backpacker Peter Falconio … some true-crime from the Outback of Australia… ‘Then a detective – the one Gwynne had chosen for her acute attention to detail and who had sifted through thousands of Murdoch’s belongings – discovered a small, round, Mary Jane hair tie. “It was the hair tie that was taken from Joanne Lees when she struggled to survive and keep her life. [Murdoch] had it wrapped around his shoulder holster, inside his belongings. I think it was a trophy but no one will ever know.” Months later, when the hair tie was presented as evidence in the trial, it clearly made an impression on Murdoch. “He recoiled and he wouldn’t touch it,” recalls Gwynne. “You could see that he knew that was it. That was the nail in his coffin.”’
January 19, 2017
[moore] “The interior of the human head is infinite”: A Conversation with Alan Moore … Extras from another interview with Alan Moore‘ Our leaders are like surfers who are on top of an enormous wave. They are hanging on with their toes as tightly as they can. They are in a state of complete terror and yet, to the people down on the beach, they might even look like they are controlling the wave. That they were guiding or leading the wave. No, I think that the state of our modern leaders is that, like all of us, they are caught in this current of history. They are trying to make it seem as if they are leading the way, but they are being borne along it like all of us are.’
January 20, 2017
[comics] The Unquotable Trump … Who could have guessed that Donald Trump works well as a comic book villian? …

January 23, 2017
[comics] How Batman Helps Me Survive My Mental Illness … How Batman can help with your mental health …

I’ve been ill for as long as I can remember, and probably always will be. I have plenty of good days, when life seems delicious and my tasks seem surmountable, but over and over again, I have the bad days, ones where the voices in my head — my own supervillains — tell me to give in to chaos. There’s the baddie who says I’m insignificant, the one who says I’m unable to love, the one who says I’m lazy, the one who says I’m defined by my failures, the one who says I’ll never be successful, and so on. They’re recurring characters. Sometimes, I’m fighting one; other times, a few of them team up. I push back as much as I can: I go to therapy, I meditate, I medicate. The antagonists go away for a while. But they never permanently disappear.

On a very literal level, Batman has been facing the same fight for the 77 years since his creation. His challenges, too, are chronic: He throws his enemies in Arkham, but they’re never there for long. Wins don’t last. There will always be new stories in which an individual force of evil or a team of villains will concoct a plan to take him down. Other superheroes have their own lineups of baddies, but Batman’s is easily the deepest bench, filled with vivid — and archetypal — characters who come back again and again. What made that scene with Alfred in Dark Knight so compelling was the manifest exhaustion of Bruce Wayne that any Batman reader or viewer always assumed: How can he possibly withstand the demoralizing truth of knowing all of his victories are provisional?

January 25, 2017
[space] Martians Might Be Real. That Makes Mars Exploration Way More Complicated … A look at the job of the woman whose job at NASA is to make sure we don’t kill Martians before we find them … ‘If alien life exists, researchers will of course want to study how it originated and evolved—to glimpse what planetary scientist Chris McKay calls a “second Genesis.” And to prevent false leads, humans have to be careful not to muddy space with our own trail of bacteria. Another less official rationale for today’s planetary protection policy is ecological—you might even call it anticolonial. Essentially, Conley’s office serves to prevent NASA from doing to Martians what European explorers did to Native Americans with smallpox. Because Mars lacks Earth’s history of abundant life, it has that much more raw material for Earth’s bacterial stowaways to devour—should any of them, say, come into contact with water, find a niche they can survive in, and start to reproduce. “The whole planet is a dinner plate for these organisms,” she says. “They will eat Mars.” Conley wants to make sure we at least know whether Martian life exists before we introduce an invasive species that will wipe it out.’
January 27, 2017
[life] You are Most Likely to Die at 11am … Does death follows a pattern? … ‘Particularly when you’re older, you are 14 percent more likely to die on your birthday than on any other day of the year. Particularly when you live in certain geographical areas, you are 13 percent more likely to die after getting a paycheck. And particularly when you’re human, you are more likely to die in the late morning — around 11 a.m., specifically — than at any other time during the day. Yes. That last one comes from a new study, published in the Annals of Neurology, that identifies a common gene variant affecting circadian rhythms. And that variant, it seems, could also predict the time of day you will die. Even death, apparently, has a circadian rhythm.’
January 30, 2017
[comics] Steranko’s Outland … go and look at scans from Jim Steranko’s stunning comic adaptation of the 1981 Sci-fi movie Outland …

January 31, 2017
[life] Don’t floss, peel veg or wash your jeans: 40 things you can stop doing right now … a list of everyday things you shouldn’t bother with … ’23. Playing the lottery – You’re far more likely to be struck by lightning twice than to win the UK’s Lotto draw. Just give up and accept your miserable fate.’
February 1, 2017
[trump] Screaming About Trump Into a Well: A Text Adventure

>scream into the well about Trump moving forward with building a wall between Mexico

You scream. The well echoes back that Mexico will never reimburse the cost and wonders why Republicans are so willing to pay for an ineffectual wall but not a social safety net.

Yes, this is the best you’ve felt since election night! The well is your friend.

Unfortunately all this screaming is making your head flush and hot. If you want to continue screaming, you’ll have to find a way to cool off.

The air inside the well feels nice.

>lean further into the well

February 2, 2017
[politics] The man who could make Marine Le Pen president of France … a profile of Marine Le Pen’s right hand man… ‘The night Britain voted on whether to leave the European Union, before the polls had even closed, Philippot hosted a Front National Brexit celebration dinner at a Parisian bistro. Marine Le Pen was there, smiling and laughing, eating fish and chips and waving French and British flags. Philippot later said that there were two key moments in his life when he cried – when his mother died in 2009 and his tears of joy when Britain voted to leave the EU.’
February 3, 2017
[kubrick] The Shining: Who is the Man in the Bear Costume?

February 6, 2017
[ftangn!] Does An Octopus Have A Soul? This Author Thinks So… another look at the crafty, intelligent and playful minds of Octopuses … ‘Oh, boy, can they run! [Laughs] At the Middlebury Octopus Lab in Vermont they work with very small, pocket octopuses. The students often try to get them out of the tanks to run mazes or for experiments and these little guys will use the net like a trampoline, jump off the net on to the floor and run around like a cat! One student was chasing an octopus around, thinking, “This is insane, this can’t be happening!” But, it totally was happening. Octopuses are also really smart about getting out of their tanks. Aquariums work really hard to make octopus-proof lids. They’ve been known to free themselves, get in an adjacent tank and eat everybody in that tank. At the Seattle Aquarium they had octopuses in a tank with sharks. They were worried about whether the octopus would be safe around the sharks. Then the sharks started turning up dead—not eaten. Killed. Clearly, the octopus was worried about the sharks, too, and preemptively killed them!’
February 7, 2017
[movies] The Other Kane … the fascinating story of the other actor who (briefly) played Kane in Alien before John Hurt … ‘In the beginning, the actor portraying Kane was Shakespearean stage veteran, Jon Finch. The story of Finch’s departure is somewhat muddled. Most sources agree that Finch left the film due to a diabetic attack, which is denied by Finch himself. Some say that Finch’s illness revealed itself before the cameras, another says it took place in a plasterer’s chair. Some say he filmed for weeks, some say he filmed for days, and some say he filmed for merely one shot.’
February 8, 2017
[fascism] “Dude! Let me in!”

February 9, 2017
[movies] Gene Hackman: 10 essential films‘Less well known than The Conversation, but just as impressive, Night Moves is one of the great thrillers of the 1970s. It’s a detective story in which Hackman plays Harry Moseby, a football player turned private eye who gets caught in the middle of dubious activities in the Florida Keys. He’s on his very best form, the tough humour hiding a deep sensitivity about his decaying marriage and his own personal failures, and he relishes the literate, witty dialogue provided by Alan Sharp and the chance to play opposite the splendid Jennifer Warren, an actor with whom he has great chemistry.’
February 10, 2017
[tech] "Alexa…" — Stuart from Feeling Listless reviews the Amazon Echo/Dot. ‘Within a day of installation it had replaced the bell alarm clock which has woken me ever day since my 18th birthday with just a simple directive to play its space age sounding alarm at 6.45am each morning. I no longer get out of bed to tune to the Today programme on Radio Four. I’ll ask it for the news and it’ll play me the BBC radio headlines both from Radio 2 and the World Service. I’ll ask for NPR and I’ll receive the hourly bulletin from Washington. No need to check the BBC weather app either. Alexa knows how cold it is out there.’
February 13, 2017
[herzog] Werner Herzog Valentines‘The trees are in misery. The birds do not sing to you, my valentine, they just screech in pain.’
February 14, 2017
[valentines] Robocop Valentines

February 15, 2017
[books] Xenu’s Paradox: The Fiction of L. Ron Hubbard and the Making of Scientology … interesting overview of L. Ron Hubbard’s writing career and how it influenced Scientology …

The story itself, which has become more familiar than Hubbard or any of his disciples ever intended, revolves around the figure of Xenu, the tyrannical dictator of the Galactic Confederation. Millions of years ago, Xenu, faced with an overpopulation crisis, threw hordes of his own people into volcanoes on the planet Earth—then known as Teegeeack—and blew them up with atomic bombs. Their spirits, called thetans, survive to the present day, clinging to unsuspecting humans, and they can only be removed through dianetic auditing, a form of talk therapy that clears the subject of its unwanted passengers.

One of the church members who read this account was screenwriter and director Paul Haggis, who was a devoted Scientologist for over three decades before resigning in an ugly public split. Haggis told Lawrence Wright, the author of the seminal New Yorker piece that became the exposé Going Clear, that after finishing the story, he got the wild idea that it was some sort of insanity test—if you believed it, you were kicked out. When he asked his supervisor for clarification, he was informed: “It is what it is.” Haggis read it again, but the same thought continued to resound in his brain: “This is madness.”

Hubbard himself had another term for it. In an insertion to the original manuscript, squeezed between two lines, the author left his own description of what he had written: “Very space opera.”

February 16, 2017
[Politics] Is Theresa May up to the job of prime minister? Here’s how to tell‘There is a Shakespearean dimension to the way British prime ministers meet their tragic destinies. The seeds of their downfall are sown as they rise to the top. Thatcher glittered in the October 1974 election when as shadow environment secretary she pledged to abolish rates, the unpopular property tax. A few months later she was leader. Yet when she finally abolished the rates as prime minister, replacing them with the poll tax, the policy destroyed her. Cameron appeased Eurosceptics in his leadership contest by pledging that Conservatives would leave the centre-right grouping in the European parliament. He won, and then appeased them again as leader by holding the referendum that killed off his political career. Blair was propelled to power by his belief in third way politics, an attachment that led him to the hell of Iraq as he sought to back the US and yet persuade it to work with the UN – his fatal third way.’
February 20, 2017
[politics] Dear President Bannon: Congratulations On Your Upgrade to Malebolge, the Eighth Circle of the Abyss!‘We thank you for your use of our offerings, including Graft, Pandering, Deceit, and the Promotion of Discord. You earned your Fraud points through a surprising variety of purchases, ranging from tax evasion to promoting white supremacy. The bulk of your Fraud points were earned, of course, through your war against Islam, a religion you slandered in Breitbart News and in your “documentaries.” Once you became a Presidential advisor, you started earning triple points with your Muslim-targeted immigration ban. (We apologize that the product broke immediately upon delivery.)’
February 21, 2017
[politics] Paul Nuttall’s autobiography to be a Choose Your Own Adventure book‘If you want to be leader of UKIP, turn to page 23, if you want to battle a goblin for ten gold coins, turn to page 144. UKIP leader Paul Nuttall is to tell of his many adventures in a new autobiography called The Kipper of Firetop Mountain, he has revealed this morning….’
February 22, 2017
[books] Fictional characters make ‘experiential crossings’ into real life, study finds … a look at the power of fiction on readers’s inner lives … ‘The term covers a wide range of experiences, from hearing a character’s voice to feeling one’s own thoughts shaped by a character’s ideas, sensibility or presence, he continued. “One respondent, for example, described ‘feeling enveloped’ by [Virginia Woolf’s] character Clarissa Dalloway – hearing her voice and imagining her response to particular situations, such as walking into a Starbucks. Sometimes the experience seemed to be triggered by entering a real-world setting similar to one in the novel; in other situations, it felt like seeing the world through a particular character’s eyes, and judging events as the character would.”’
February 23, 2017
[ukip] An absolutely authentic quote from Paul Nuttall…

February 24, 2017
[comics] The 20 comics to watch out for in 2017‘Dissolving Classroom by Junji Ito (Vertical, January) After an eight-year break from the medium, 2015 provided two Ito books that left many questioning whether the horror master was losing his touch. But he remains one of the few Japanese cartoonists who is able to connect with a wide global audience, so all eyes will be on this new collection detailing the depths a teenager will go to to get revenge on the world.’
February 27, 2017
[comics] 40 years of 2000AD: looking back on the future of comic books … 2000AD celebrated it’s 40th birthday yesterday…

Back when IPC execs were tossing around ideas for the title of the new comic, Pat Mills vividly remembers the then publisher John Sanders coming up with the futuristic name. “I said to John: ‘What happens when we reach the year 2000? What will we call it then?’” Mills laughs. “He said to me, ‘Don’t worry, Pat. If it lasts three or four years we’ll count ourselves lucky.’”

February 28, 2017
[crime] Serial Killers Should Fear This Algorithm … hunting serial killers with statistics … ‘He spent months trying to develop an algorithm that would identify unsolved cases with enough commonalities to suggest the same murderer. Eventually, he decided to reverse-engineer the algorithm by testing his ideas against one well-known case, that of Gary Ridgway, the so-called Green River Killer, who confessed to killing 48 women over two decades in the Seattle area. Hargrove thought that if he could devise an algorithm that turned up the Green River Killer’s victims, he’d know he was on the right track. “We found a hundred things that didn’t work,” he recalls. Finally, he settled on four characteristics for what’s called a cluster analysis: geography, sex, age group, and method of killing. For gender, he stuck with women, since they make up the vast majority of multiple-murder victims who aren’t connected to gang-related activity. When he used women between the ages of 20 and 50—the cohort most commonly targeted by serial killers—the algorithm lit up like a slot machine’
March 1, 2017
[comics] Bill Sienkiewicz sketches Steve Bannon‘Monday Morning Cirrhosis. I felt like was drawing a tumor.’

March 2, 2017
[language] The rise of the shitgibbon … A look at the origin of the swear word Shitgibbon‘Shitgibbon has a lot going for it, with the same punchy meter as other Trumpian epithets popularized last summer like cockwomble, fucknugget, and jizztrumpet. (Metrically speaking, these words are compounds consisting of one element with a single stressed syllable and a second disyllabic element with a trochaic pattern, i.e., stressed-unstressed. As a metrical foot in poetry, the whole stressed-stressed-unstressed pattern is known as antibacchius.)’
March 3, 2017
[politics] Big Brother adds fourth line to manifesto‘In a series of tweets this morning, the beloved leader reiterated that War is Peace, Ignorance is Strength, and Freedom is Slavery, but added that News is Fake – an admonishment immediately seized on by the faithful as always having been true. The expansion to the party message is designed to help loyal citizens better bellyfeel Party messages without bothering themselves with difficult and worrying contradictory reports. “Failing news media is enemy of the people! Doubleplus Sad!”, he announced at 2:37am this morning.’
March 6, 2017
[bullshit] Why bullshit is no laughing matter … some analysis of bullshit … ‘In his book, On Bullshit (2005), Frankfurt noted that ‘most people are rather confident of their ability to recognise bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it’. However, more than 98 per cent of our participants rated at least one item in our bullshit receptivity scales to be at least somewhat profound. We are not nearly as good at detecting bullshit as we think.’
March 7, 2017
[books] Three days with The Dice Man: ‘I never wrote for money or fame’ … Tanya Gold interviews Luke Rhinehart (aka George Cockcroft) author of The Dice Man … ‘He says he has no idea why he began writing. He read outsiders, and men who railed against belonging: Tolstoy, Kafka, Hemingway. His first attempt at fiction was about a young boy who is locked up in a psychiatric institution because he thinks he is Jesus Christ. He abandoned it after 80 pages, but one chapter featured a psychiatrist called Dr Luke Rhinehart. “He was a minor character,” Cockcroft says, “but there he was.”’
March 8, 2017
[space] Heat and Ashes: The Untold Story of the Apollo 1 Fire … Remembering Apollo 1 – 50 years later … ‘The legacy of the Apollo fire of 1967 is preserved in history books and lengthy documentaries. But the sheer horror and emotional intensity of having three colleagues—for many in the program, three close friends—suffocate in a burning capsule while scrambling to save them, hasn’t been as well preserved. The severity of that moment has become a footnote in the public consciousness, faded by the decades that have passed and overshadowed by the incredible achievements of the Apollo program that followed. But for those like Henry Rogers who experienced the tragedy firsthand, the trauma of January 27, 1967 left scars, and a deep sense of regret that’s difficult to capture all these years later…’
March 9, 2017
[space] Io over Jupiter from Voyager 1 … Looking at this stunning picture of Io over Jupiter is about as close as I get to religious awe …

March 10, 2017
[comics] How the 20,699-word iTunes T&Cs became this year’s hottest graphic novel‘Sikoryak has been praised by some for making T&Cs more accessible, which he finds baffling. He just enjoys the challenge of making something dismissed as unreadable readable. In his eyes, convincing someone to read terms and conditions is just like getting someone to read “worthy” classics they feel guilty about skipping, from Camus to Beckett and beyond. “I like using texts that are perceived as important,” he says, “and that includes iTunes T&Cs. All my work is an attempt to bridge the gap between what we call high art and low art, what we think is important or serious, and what we see as frivolous and meaningless. Often, that boundary doesn’t exist.”’
March 13, 2017
[books] A Glorious Mythology of Loss: Alan Moore’s “Jerusalem” … The L.A. Review of Books on Moore’s recent novel … ‘In the novel’s final pages, Moore reveals the magnitude of what he has set out to accomplish — his novel is a metatextual ritual that aspires to overturn the fundamental economic mythology built into the social fabric of late capitalism — yet the author displays a wistful humility concerning his project’s ultimate efficacy.’
March 14, 2017
[politics] I am The Crap Thatcher, confirms Theresa May‘Thatcher could push through a radical agenda because she won overwhelming majorities in three general elections. I only even became leader because everyone else quit. “I am a pale imitation of the Iron Lady, an authoritarian despot who isn’t even any good at it, which ironically means I’ll end up doing much more damage.”‘
March 15, 2017
[twitter] Detective Fin … my current favourite Twitter … ‘Coroner says he was high on somethin’ called Barnyard Paste. It’s a fertility drug for cocker spaniels.’

March 16, 2017
[books] The Complicated Friendship of H. P. Lovecraft and Robert Barlow, One of His Biggest Fans‘Barlow didn’t invent Cthulhu. He lived in Lovecraft’s great dream, but he never became a great dreamer himself. Until he got to Mexico, he was a serial abandoner of projects, who set out to do everything but left most of it unfinished. He was also too interested in reality: where Lovecraft had sublimated his fears and desires, Barlow had sex and saw the world. Rather than imagining dreadful Others, he took note of what other people were actually like.’
March 17, 2017
[royalty] Operation London Bridge: the secret plan for the days after the Queen’s death … a must-read look at what happens when the Queen dies – the big picture and the odd details …

The next great rupture in Britain’s national life has, in fact, been planned to the minute. It involves matters of major public importance, will be paid for by us, and is definitely going to happen. According to the Office of National Statistics, a British woman who reaches the age of 91 – as the Queen will in April – has an average life expectancy of four years and three months. The Queen is approaching the end of her reign at a time of maximum disquiet about Britain’s place in the world, at a moment when internal political tensions are close to breaking her kingdom apart. Her death will also release its own destabilising forces: in the accession of Queen Camilla; in the optics of a new king who is already an old man; and in the future of the Commonwealth, an invention largely of her making. (The Queen’s title of “Head of the Commonwealth” is not hereditary.) Australia’s prime minister and leader of the opposition both want the country to become a republic.

Coping with the way these events fall is the next great challenge of the House of Windsor, the last European royal family to practise coronations and to persist – with the complicity of a willing public – in the magic of the whole enterprise. That is why the planning for the Queen’s death and its ceremonial aftermath is so extensive. Succession is part of the job. It is an opportunity for order to be affirmed. Queen Victoria had written down the contents of her coffin by 1875. The Queen Mother’s funeral was rehearsed for 22 years. Louis Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India, prepared a winter and a summer menu for his funeral lunch. London Bridge is the Queen’s exit plan. “It’s history,” as one of her courtiers said. It will be 10 days of sorrow and spectacle in which, rather like the dazzling mirror of the monarchy itself, we will revel in who we were and avoid the question of what we have become.

March 20, 2017
[life] Up and Then Down … A look into the complicated world of lifts … ‘Fortune carries a “probable stop” table, which applies probability to the vexation that boils up when each passenger presses a button for a different floor. If there are ten people in an elevator that serves ten floors, it will likely make 6.5 stops. Ten people, thirty floors: 9.5 stops. (The table does not account for the exasperating phantom stop, when no one gets on or off.) Other factors are door open and close time, loading and unloading time, acceleration rate, and deceleration rate, which must be swift but gentle. You hear that interfloor traffic kills—something to mutter, perhaps, when a co-worker boards the elevator to travel one flight, especially if that co-worker is planning, at day’s end, to spend half an hour on a StairMaster. It’s also disastrous to have a cafeteria on anything but the ground floor, or one floor above or below it, accessible via escalator.’
March 21, 2017
[crime] Steve Bannon’s Sad, Desperate Crusade … a nicely written analysis of Steve Bannon … ‘Even pieces of ostensible criticism reach, almost unfailingly, a passage of barely hidden astonishment, writers gazing at his references to the ancient Roman working class or Thomas Cromwell like they just peeked inside the Matrix. He is, in a way, a journalist’s dream prompt: His mysterious biography invites investigation; his mongrel-like appearance a paradise for vivid similes; his appetite for literature just like theirs. So what should be an attack on an irredeemable charlatan instead becomes something closer to fascination. Writing about Bannon tends to be studiously impartial, analytical, even as his worldview is dismissed as an absurdity. This is wrong. Bannon can be a disheveled maniac and only that—there doesn’t need to be a revelation or nuance or anything beyond a bloodshot sack of demented ambition, no matter how high he ascends. He is not a Svengali, he’s a shipwrecked banker who washed ashore and wound up the president’s ventriloquist. Hate is still just hate, no matter how intricately ornamented it is with Ronald Reagan idolatry.’
March 22, 2017
[movies] The Purity of John Wick … a look at what make John Wick so good … ‘John Wick is the purest and most joyful action movie I’ve ever seen. And given its full embrace of the genre, it may very well be one of the purest movies, full stop.’
March 23, 2017
[brexit] EU chiefs mock May’s Brexit plan with Tintin cartoon‘While we’re on metaphors for Brexit, we can think of a few more fitting Tintin comic titles: The(resa May’s) Broken Ear, Prisoners of the Sun, and Black Island. As Captain Haddock would say, it’s Blistering Brexit Balderdash!’

March 27, 2017
[comics] Daniel Clowes: Trump’s America is like the cynical comics I drew back in the 90s … Daniel Clowes is not fond of Trump. ‘With a normal fiasco like George W Bush, I would just let it seep in and see what comes out. But this feels so different. It feels like an opportunity to do something at least personally cathartic, if not, you know, meaningful or that has some kind of density to it based on the craziness of what’s going on. I almost feel like I created the world we live in, back in my early comics. It really feels like the dopiest, most cynical comics I drew back in 1991 have just come to fruition. I don’t know where that leaves me.’
March 28, 2017
[lovecraft] Countdown apologises after letters round accidentally summons Cthulhu‘Broadcaster Channel Four defended itself from criticism and said that the letters drawn were ‘purest chance’. Concerns were first raised by viewers after contestants were challenged to twist the numbers 2, 2, 5, 6, 9, 25 and 75 through unholy geometries and cause the stars to be right. This was followed by a contestant winning a letters round with the ten-letter word “Yog-Sothoth” which regular dictionary corner guest Gyles Brandreth accepted was key and the gate and the opener of the way, and praised the contestant for managing to make a ten letter word out of only nine letters.’
March 29, 2017
[comics] How Dilbert’s Scott Adams Got Hypnotized by Trump … a glimpse into Scott Adams’ world and odd ideas … ‘Getting a comic strip, even one as occasionally edgy as Dilbert, into family newspapers requires observing a certain set of norms. Adams’s viral analyses of Trump introduced many people, including me, to his more unusual fixations. Between political ponderings, he blogged about fitness and seduction, posting photos of his abs and writing a series of essays on how to deploy hypnosis and persuasion for better orgasms. “My language skills activate your sex drive, and you know it,” he wrote at one point. So-called men’s rights activists became vocal fans. I was just baffled. As Trump and Clinton entered the home stretch of the campaign, I wondered if Dilbert’s success had made Scott Adams eccentric—or if this had always been the mind behind the strip.’
March 30, 2017
[life] My Fully Optimized Life Allows Me Ample Time to Optimize Yours… a very funny “Day in the Life” column … ‘For breakfast, I always enjoy a half liter of organic, fair-trade, bulletproof coffee (I use a ghee, coconut oil, and yak butter blend instead of MCT oil), which keeps me in ketosis until I break my intermittent fast. By the way, if you haven’t tried it, nothing does the trick like intermittent fasting for maintaining less than 17% body fat. (For my full fasting protocol, see my e-book.) Before I leave for work, I make sure to pack my award-winning green smoothie. This recipe is designed to heal the thyroid, calm the spleen, support liver detoxification, reverse and prevent tumor growth, whiten teeth, boost fertility, balance chakras, stabilize circadian rhythms, ease constipation, regulate the menstrual cycle, prevent rabies, and make your skin glow!’
March 31, 2017
[web] This Is Almost Certainly James Comey’s Twitter Account … Impressive web-Stalking – finding the the Director of the FBI’s Twitter and Instagram accounts … ‘Of course, none of this is definitive proof @projectexile7 is FBI Director James Comey, but it would take a nearly impossible confluence of coincidences for it to be anyone else. Take what you will from the fact that the director of the FBI appears to have liked a tweet from the New York Times about Mike Flynn and Jared Kushner meeting a Russian envoy in December.’
April 1, 2017
[tv] BBC Grandstand Fight … on this day in 1989 – a live fight broadcast on BBC Grandstand.

April 3, 2017
[politics] Stephen King on Donald Trump: ‘How do such men rise? First as a joke’ … King analyses Trump with fictional characters …

These stories were written years ago, but Stillson and Rennie bear enough of a resemblance to the current resident of the White House for me to flatter myself I have a country-fair understanding of how such men rise: first as a joke, then as a viable alternative to the status quo, and finally as elected officials who are headstrong, self-centered and inexperienced. Such men do not succeed to high office often, but when they do, the times are always troubled, the candidates in question charismatic, their proposed solutions to complex problems simple, straightforward and impractical. The baggage that should weigh these hucksters down becomes magically light, lifting them over the competition like Carl Fredricksen in the Pixar film Up. Trump’s negatives didn’t drag him down; on the contrary, they helped get him elected.

April 4, 2017
[tv] A dying habit: why the average BBC1 viewer is 61 … the slow death of Broadcast TV … ‘According to recent research by Enders Analysis, ITV’s average viewer is now 60; Channel 5’s is 58 and Channel 4’s is 55. Even at E4, birthplace of such yoof-targeting shows as Made in Chelsea and Hollyoaks, the average age is 42. The reason, of course, is simple: the internet…’
April 5, 2017
[comics] Brian K. Vaughan Recommends 10 Comics You Need to Read—Because They're Awesomely Unadaptable‘I like adaptations just fine, but my favorite comics are those that feel like they’re not desperate to become a movie or television series or whatever. So here are ten of my favorite recent graphic novels that take advantage of comics’ unique ability to explore the world and ourselves in ways that no other visual medium can.’
April 6, 2017
[moore] Howard Philip Lovecraft – Utopia/Valhalla #1, April 1970 … As Providence #12 arrives – here’s Alan Moore on H.P. Lovecraft from 47 years ago … ‘Then apparently, another race drifted in from space. The star-headed CTHULHU, who came to Earth and waged war for a time on the Old Ones. But peace was made, and the children of Cthulhu were allowed to live in their frozen city at antarctica with their servants, the proto-plasmic Shoggoths. Eventually, they were defeated, and either imprisoned or banished by the elder-gods,. The basic theme for the Cthulhu mythology, is that it occurs when a mortal breaks the restraints placed upon him, upon which, the Old ones can operate both freely and terribly.’
April 7, 2017
[twitter] Chuck Wood Twitter feed‘How many johns could John Peel peel if John Peel could peel johns?’
April 20, 2017
[comics] If Frank Miller drew Bananaman

Frank Miller Bananaman

April 24, 2017
[trump] Fairytale Prisoner by Choice: The Photographic Eye of Melania Trump … What Melania Trump’s stream of Twitter photos tells us about her life … ‘Melania posted her last photo to Twitter on Thursday, June 11, 2015, five days before her husband announced his candidacy for president. It is an old photograph, of a then six-year-old Barron, taken on the beach. He is looking down at the ground ahead and waving goodbye to a professionally built sandcastle in the background. That day Melania knew, of course, that the campaign was coming. In retrospect her choice of a Throwback Thursday post reads as prophecy: a goodbye to her golden towers, to the home destined to crumble. To this day she’s still up there, in the golden Tower, holding onto it for as long as she can.’
April 26, 2017
[comics] Required Reading: 50 of the Best Kids Comics‘Jeff Smith’s Bone is the true definition of an “all-ages” comic, of the sort that is equally likely to resonate with kids and adults. Younger readers will be drawn immediately to the vibrant, but contrasting, art styles, as the Bone Brothers’ own depiction, seemingly inspired by silent-era cartoons and animation, is symbolically opposed by the high-fantasy monsters of the realm they find themselves thrown into. It’s a story with the set dressings and complicated political ties typified by the likes of The Lord of the Rings, but the series is funnier than nearly any child-friendly peer you could possibly name. Perhaps the only true comparison would be the likes of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, with its deft blend of fantasy and comedy, but Bone tells its tale with significantly more earnestness. With an enthralling story that starts off quick and only gets faster from there, Bone hooks an imaginative mind and then keeps readers on their toes by veering from comedy to dire adventure, and even occasionally horror, at the drop of a hat. In many series, wearing so many different inspirations on one’s sleeve would muddy the proceedings, but Bone is enriched by every one of Smith’s unique idiosyncrasies.’ [via Brad]
April 27, 2017
[war] U.S. Funneling Arms To Dissident Angel Group In Effort To Topple God‘According to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter, a CIA-orchestrated operation has provided firearms, ammunition, and financial support to the insurgent angels of the New Dawn Front, with the goal of deposing the longtime Heavenly Father and replacing Him with someone who will advance American interests in the region.’
April 28, 2017
[social] Climbing Out Of Facebook's Reality Hole … Buzzfeed on Facebook’s virtual reality projects … ‘The Facebook CEO took the stage at the company’s annual F8 developers conference a little more than an hour after news broke that the so-called Facebook Killer had killed himself. But if you were expecting a somber mood, it wasn’t happening. Instead, he kicked off his keynote with a series of jokes. It was a stark disconnect with the reality outside, where the story of the hour concerned a man who had used Facebook to publicize a murder, and threaten many more. People used to talk about Steve Jobs and Apple’s reality distortion field. But Facebook, it sometimes feels, exists in a reality hole. The company doesn’t distort reality — but it often seems to lack the ability to recognize it. The problem with connecting everyone on the planet is that a lot of people are assholes.’
May 2, 2017
[kubrick] Forever and Ever and Ever: Uncanny Doubles in ‘The Shining’ … A look at how Kubrick heightened a sense of the Uncanny in the Shining … ‘Robert Kolker writes that the film also features many instances of symmetrical framing. He notes that each side of the frame is doubled and perfectly composed, and therefore any horrific event happening within the frame seems even more out of place and strange. The symmetrical shots are almost too perfect, which can be uncanny and off-putting in itself. Kolker cites the red bathroom as an example of a symmetrically framed scene, with its rows of white urinals and sinks lining either side of the wall and the long mirrors running along the wall. The bathroom is symmetrical, yet Jack and Grady discuss violent, murderous plans in the middle of the room, throwing the symmetry off balance and into uncanny space.’
May 3, 2017
[comics] Leo Baxendale obituary … Steve Bell’s remembers the creator of Minnie the Minx, Little Plum and the Bash Street Kids … ‘Ideas for the strips were literally kicked around the Beano office during games of keepie-uppie, while the chief subeditor took notes. Leo’s task was to synthesise the whole into a design and then pour in even more madcap detail all over the page: words, jokes, battles of wits between “Red Indians” and bears, frogs, machines, explosions and terrible scenes of violent conflict, not to mention wholly unnecessary captions, such as Leo’s favourite “Sudden Gust of Wind”. “You could tell by their facial expression how they were feeling,” he said, “but it was funnier if you put an arrow pointing at someone’s bum saying ‘Throbbing Pain’”. In some ways the name Bash Street Kids was a misnomer, though violence was everywhere: “Teachers, janitors, the world might be trampled underfoot by stampeding bison … the school was shelled, classrooms exploded, battleships were sunk; but there was no bullying. It was another world.”’
May 4, 2017
[books] OrderOfBooks.com – Complete List of all Book Series in Order … useful site to bookmark if you’re looking for the order of a particular series of books or an author.
May 5, 2017
[politics] Why the Phrase ‘Late Capitalism’ Is Suddenly Everywhere‘Finally, “late capitalism” gestures to the potential for revolution, whether because the robots end up taking all the jobs or because the proletariat finally rejects all this nonsense. A “late” period always comes at the end of something, after all. “It has the constant referent to revolution,” Roberts said. “‘Late capitalism’ necessarily says, ‘This is a stage we’re going to come out of at some point, whereas ‘neoliberalism’ doesn’t say that, ‘Shit is fucked up and bullshit’ doesn’t say that. It hints at a sort of optimism amongst a post-Bernie left, the young left online. Something of the revolutionary horizon of classical Marxism.” It does all this with a certain concision, erudition, even beauty. It’s ominous and knowing, brainy and pissed-off. “Now is a crazy political time,” Yeselson said…’
May 8, 2017
[weird] The weird poetry Google Translate writes when fed the same characters over and over … Don’t introduce A.I’s to the work of H.P. Lovecraft. It will end badly.

May 9, 2017
[crime] What Bullets Do to Bodies … powerful profile of a trauma surgeon in North Philadelphia and what happens to the gunshot victims she treats …

It’s possible for a surgeon to get distracted by the wrong wound. The most dangerous wounds don’t always look the worst. People can get shot in the head and they’re leaking bits of brain from a hole in the skull and that’s not the fatal wound; the fatal wound is from another bullet that ripped through the chest. One patient a few years ago was shot in the face with a shotgun at close range over some money owed. He pulled his coat up over his mangled face and walked to the ER of one of Temple’s sister hospitals, approaching a nurse. She looked at him. He lowered the coat. The nurse thought to herself what you might expect a person to think in such a situation: “Daaaaaamn.” He was stabilized, then transferred to Temple. He lived. The price of survival is often lasting disability. Some patients, often young guys, wind up carrying around colostomy bags for the rest of their lives because they can’t poop normally anymore. They poop through a “stoma,” a hole in the abdomen. “They’re so angry,” Goldberg said. “They should be angry.” Some are paralyzed by bullets that sever the spinal column. Some lose limbs entirely…

May 10, 2017
[life] Britain’s ‘moral values’ based on Star Wars, Breakfast Club and The Godfather‘Tom Logan, from Hatfield, said: “Star Wars taught me about the importance of freedom, democracy and courage in the face of tyranny. And about the importance of using your miraculous gifts to benefit the entire galaxy.” Jane Thompson, from Stevenage, added: “Breakfast Club taught me that we are all insecure but that through dialogue we can find our common humanity. It also taught me that teachers are the worst people in the world.”’
May 11, 2017
[music] Return of the KLF: ‘They were agents of chaos. Now the world they anticipated is here’ … a look back at the KLF … ‘In a climactic act of public self-destruction, Drummond and Cauty decided to perform a KLF/ENT speed-metal version of 3am Eternal (one that Christmas Top of the Pops had turned down) at the 1992 Brit awards. The performance was brutal enough, with a kilted Drummond stalking the stage, supported by a crutch, barking the lyrics over ENT’s barrage of noise, and finally machine-gunning the audience with blanks. (“They cut our guitars right down,” says Jones, “but at least we made Noel Edmonds cry”.) In the aftermath, they dumped a dead sheep on the red carpet at the Royal Lancaster Gate hotel adorned with the message, “I died for you – bon appetit”. But what they originally planned was even worse. Vegetarians all, Extreme Noise Terror refused to slice up the sheep on stage…’
May 12, 2017
[comics] Edgy Comics Bingo… by Cathy Leamy

May 15, 2017
[comics] How do I become … a cartoonist … Nigel Parkinson describes the insane amount of persistence you require to become a professional cartoonist … ‘I spent 17 years asking the Beano editor for a job and eventually he relented.’
May 16, 2017
[press] Is the editor of the Daily Mail the most dangerous man in Britain?… The Guardian on on Paul Dacre and Brexit… ‘His own success at the Mail has bought him schooling for his two sons at Eton, membership of the Garrick, a chauffeur, a house in the country, flat in town and a shooting estate in Scotland (generously subsidised by the EU). He rarely rubs up against the people he believes he represents. “It always amused me that his shoe leather never wore out,” one reporter told Addison, “because every day he was on a carpet in the office; he strode out the door and was in a car which deposited him either at home or a restaurant. He would be horrified at what modern Britain had become – but he was never part of it.” Despite this insulation, Dacre has always presented himself as having a unique “feel for the emotions of ordinary people”. He still apparently locates this feeling in the 1950s London suburb of Arnos Grove in which he grew up, and which persists as the model of the Mail’s middle England.’
May 17, 2017
[movies] Crime in Counterpoint: Michael Mann on his Restored Masterpiece Heat‘I’ve got a theory, which probably holds no water whatsoever, about why there’s so much genre content in media — meaning police stories, crime stories, so much of that. It’s because of the nature of the medium. Detectives detecting do what writers and directors do in the inverse: We have an idea for a character, and our character has origins that we invent. Those origins become an engine that causes him to do certain activities and express himself and have different attitudes based on who the character is. And then those activities have consequences and leave behind certain effects. But a detective works all the way at the other end. He sees the remains of a crime — the leavings. He starts to work backwards to what happened. What was the activity? And if this was the activity, what could I discover about the motivations of the person whose identity I do not know? And how can those motivations allow me to predict his future activity, so that I can intercept him and find out who he is?’
May 18, 2017
[curtis] Adam Curtis on the Dangers of Self-Expression … Curtis discusses a variety of subjects … ‘I sometimes wonder whether conspiracy theories are an attempt to re-enchant the world in a distorted way. It’s like religion knocking on the door and trying to come back in a strange and distorted form. A sense of mystery beyond our own understanding of the world. If you ever talk to conspiracy theorists, that’s the sense you get from them. A sort of almost romantic sense of awe that there is this dark mysterious thing that a rational thing could never penetrate. That’s sort of religious. Maybe what’s trying to get back into our world is enchantment, and the only way it can come back in is in these strange distorted ways. The downfall of capitalism is that it’s become appropriated by rational technocratic disenchantment. It’s become an iron cage. It’s trapped us. Some new form of enchanted myth is going to have to come back in.’
May 19, 2017
[politics] Conservative election manifesto actually the Necronomicon … Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn! … ‘An eldritch tome of unholy secrets written by an insane medieval prophet has been launched to sweep the Conservatives into government this morning. The grimoire, attractively bound in a bright blue leather of unknown provenance, was launched at a press conference by the Prime Minister and several capering imps.’
May 21, 2017
[politics] Spot the Nuttall!

May 23, 2017
[tv] The Keepers review – a breathtakingly brave true-crime documentary … reviewing a new true-crime documentary from Netflix… ‘In November 1969, a young nun, Sister Cathy Cesnik, went missing from her Baltimore apartment. The following year she was discovered, lying on her back on a frozen hillside, far from home, her skull broken in. From that day to this, no one has been able to conclusively say what happened to her. In this meticulous, skilfully edited series, White sets about interviewing key witnesses, police, former pupils from the school where Cesnik worked, local journalists and conspicuously few members of the church, painstakingly unearthing the complex story like a palaeontologist with a fine paintbrush. And his way in is a group of dedicated sixtysomething former pupils of Sister Cathy, who band together to find out what happened, despite the passing of years and the repeated denial of any justice. It is their story, and rightly so.’
May 24, 2017
[moore] Alan Moore on Science, Imagination, Language and Spirits of Place‘If by coming to know more about the historical or mythological aspects of the places in which we live we make those places more meaningful, to us at least, then I suggest that this will lead to experiencing ourselves as more meaningful in our new, illuminated context. The big difference between ‘meaning’ and ‘a spirit’ is that where meaning is concerned, we have to do all the necessary hard work in order to invest that place or that person or that object with meaning, whereas spirits just sort of turn up, don’t they? I believe that our world is gloriously haunted with meaning; that it’s we ourselves that are doing the haunting; and that we should be doing more of it, or doing it more strenuously.’
May 25, 2017
[life] Andy Warhol on being shot by Valerie Solanas in 1968: “Before I was shot, I always thought that I was more half-there than all-there – I always suspected that I was watching TV instead of living life. People sometimes say that the way things happen in the movies is unreal, but actually it’s the way things happen to you in life that’s unreal. The movies make emotions look so strong and real, whereas when things really do happen to you, it’s like watching television – you don’t feel anything. Right when I was being shot and ever since, I knew that I was watching television. The channels switch, but it’s all television.”
May 26, 2017
[life] World Death Rate Holding Steady At 100 Percent‘Death, a metabolic affliction causing total shutdown of all life functions, has long been considered humanity’s number one health concern. Responsible for 100 percent of all recorded fatalities worldwide, the condition has no cure. “I was really hoping, what with all those new radiology treatments, rescue helicopters, aerobics TV shows and what have you, that we might at least make a dent in it this year,” WHO Director General Dr. Gernst Bladt said. “Unfortunately, it would appear that the death rate remains constant and total, as it has inviolably since the dawn of time.”‘
May 30, 2017
[politics] 60 things the Conservative Party manifesto (genuinely) promises … interesting summary from Diamond Geezer‘The government’s agenda will not be allowed to drift to the right.’
May 31, 2017
[comics] What Does Wonder Woman Actually Represent? … wonderful comic by Lucy Bellwood and Sarah Mirk on the origins and meaning of Wonder Woman …

June 1, 2017
[truecrime] Isdal Woman: The mystery death haunting Norway for 46 years … a fascinating unsolved true crime story … ‘On the morning of 29 November 1970, a man and his two young daughters see a body in Isdalen Valley. The corpse is sprawled across some rocks – with its arms extended in a “boxer” position, typical of bodies that have been burnt. Isdalen is known to some locals as “Death Valley” – it was a site where people committed suicide in medieval times, and, in the 1960s, some hikers had fallen to their deaths while trekking in the fog. But the woman does not appear to be a normal hiker…’
June 2, 2017
[books] Drif Field, Raymond Carver, and the infamous Guide… a look at Drif’s Guide to All the Second-hand and Antiquarian Bookshops in Britain … ‘It all has the tone of a man about to bow out, and leave the blinkered inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah to their well-deserved ruin. And his prophesy has largely come to pass. The ranks of second-hand booksellers have thinned drastically. There are still some left in Sussex, but like antiques in general it’s a dying trade in which a very few discreet high-class niche dealers (without the overheads of a shop) might still do well, but most bookshop-owners won’t. The times are against them.’ [thanks Phil]
June 5, 2017
[comics] Comics Recommended by Alan Moore … great page of recommendations (sadly the orginal is a 404 but archived) … On Marshal Law: ‘If Watchmen did in any way kill off the superhero – which is a dubious proposition – then Marshal Law has taken it further with this wonderful act of necrophilia, where it has degraded the corpse in a really amusing way.’
June 6, 2017
[tech] The Lost Joys of the Screen Saver … a thoughtful, nostalgic look at Screen Savers … ‘To me, screen savers have always afforded some tenuous connection to the afterlife. The first one I can remember, on my family’s household desktop, featured a crimson psychedelia that overtook the screen’s blackness, a kaleidoscope of paisleys and helixes forever in a state of irresolution. Late at night, I’d prepare an unhealthy snack and sit patiently in front of the monitor to watch it, a child beseeching death. How fitting would it be, I thought then, if we all ended up trapped behind a pane of glass roiling with pixels? My instinct was only reaffirmed by a childhood friend’s widowed grandmother, who held onto the conviction that her husband was trying to communicate to her through her Dell’s wispy screen saver. She spent her evenings careful not to disturb the cursor, basking in her lover’s strange séance.’ [via jwz]
June 7, 2017
[truecrime] A Loaded Gun … a look at the violent past of a non-standard mass shooter … ‘For fifty minutes, Bishop said nothing. Then, just as the meeting was concluding, she stood up, pulled out the gun, a 9-mm. Ruger semiautomatic, and shot Podila in the head. The blast was deafening. She fired again, hitting a department assistant, Stephanie Monticciolo. Next, Bishop turned and shot Adriel Johnson, a cell biologist. People screamed and ducked for cover, but Bishop was blocking the only door. Moriarity did not fully register what was happening until she saw Bishop—her jaw set, her brow furrowed—train the gun on a fourth colleague, Maria Ragland Davis, and shoot her. Moriarity dived under the table. With gunshots ringing out above her, she flung her arms around Bishop’s legs, looked up, and screamed, “Amy, don’t do this! Think of my daughter! Think of my grandson!” Bishop looked down—then turned the gun on Moriarity. Click. Moriarity, in terror, stared at the gun. Click.’
June 9, 2017
[comics] The Alan Moore 2016 Christmas Interviews – Part 1 … from Pádraig Ó Méalóid and the TRVSAMSG on Facebook‘Advertising itself is the most blatant form of bad magic being practiced in the world today. Its practice progresses in leaps and bounds, even without the personally-targeted advertising which the internet allows, while our human neurology and our capacity to deal with these techniques progresses at a much more leisurely crawl. I was taking recently with the highly respected magician Lionel Snell, who was pointing out that rational statements, if anything, tend to lose power with repetition, simply because we become used to them and they seem commonplace or boring. Magical incantations, however, many of them in languages that the practitioner does not even understand, will actually gain power from repetition. Clearly, under the rubric of magical incantation we should include the slogan, be it for commercial advertising or for political purposes. The slogans ‘Brexit Means Brexit’ or ‘Let’s Make America Great Again’, while they mean precisely nothing, if repeated enough times with steadily increasing volume will come to seem like profound eternal truths.’
June 12, 2017
[conspiracy] The Other Shooter: The Saddest and Most Expensive 26 Seconds of Amateur Film Ever Made … another look at the Zapruder Film

All the newest technologies have been thrown at Zapruder. The limitation, ultimately, isn’t the resolution of the 8mm film stock, but the quality of the lens. A rash of theories about JFK continue to revolve around the film, which, despite being such a landmark testament to what happened, hasn’t brought questions about the assassination to rest. “It’s one of the great ironies that, despite the existence of the film, we don’t know what happened,” says Begley.

“We’re still in the dark. What we finally have are patches and shadows. It’s still a mystery. There’s still an element of dream-terror. And one of the terrible dreams is that our most photogenic president is murdered on film. But there’s something inevitable about the Zapruder film. It had to happen this way. The moment belongs to the twentieth century, which means it had to be captured on film.”

June 13, 2017
[brexit] Britain: The End of a Fantasy … some strong analysis on Brexit and the current mess the United Kingdon is in …

Theresa May is a classic phony Brexiter. She didn’t support it in last year’s referendum and there is no reason to think that, in private, she has ever changed her mind. But she saw that the path to power led toward the cliff edge, from which Britain will take its leap into an unknown future entirely outside the European Union. Her strategy was one of appeasement—of the nationalist zealots in her own party, of the voters who had backed the hard-right UK Independence Party (UKIP), and of the hysterically jingoistic Tory press, especially The Daily Mail.

The actual result of the referendum last year was narrow and ambiguous. Fifty-two percent of voters backed Brexit but we know that many of them did so because they were reassured by Boris Johnson’s promise that, when it came to Europe, Britain could “have its cake and eat it.” It could both leave the EU and continue to enjoy all the benefits of membership. Britons could still trade freely with the EU and would be free to live, work, and study in any EU country just as before. This is, of course, a childish fantasy, and it is unlikely that Johnson himself really believed a word of it. It was just part of the game, a smart line that might win a debate at the Oxford Union.

But what do you do when your crowd-pleasing applause lines have to become public policy? The twenty-seven remaining member states of the EU have to try to extract a rational outcome from an essentially irrational process. They have to ask the simple question: What do you Brits actually want?

June 14, 2017
[airbnb] Please Make Yourselves at Home in My Airbnb and Have Sex‘Just to be clear: I know that having sexual intercourse with your partner in a stranger’s home is an essential part of a romantic getaway in the sharing economy, and I want you to have a special weekend together in my house. I hope that by being upfront about that reality, I can make you feel as comfortable as possible about ravishing each other in my bed while I stay at my friend’s place a few blocks away.’
June 15, 2017
[tech] Google Can Now Tell You’re Not a Robot With Just One Click … a new, very simple Turing Test … ‘Instead of depending upon the traditional distorted word test, Google’s “reCaptcha” examines cues every user unwittingly provides: IP addresses and cookies provide evidence that the user is the same friendly human Google remembers from elsewhere on the Web. And Shet says even the tiny movements a user’s mouse makes as it hovers and approaches a checkbox can help reveal an automated bot. “All of this gives us a model of how a human behaves,” says Shet. “It’s a whole bag of cues that make this hard to spoof for a bot.” He adds that Google also will use other variables that it is keeping secret…’
June 16, 2017
[food] David Lynch cooks Quinoa‘Quinoa is something that I like to have for dinner every chance I get. Start with a pan. And this pan is unbelievable – it’s super heavy and lined with copper. It’s such a good pan. I’m going to go over now and fill this pan at the sink with some fresh water…’
June 19, 2017
[politics] The Trump Conspiracy, Explained

June 20, 2017
[comics] Kevin O’Neill on the early days of 2000AD‘My memory of 2000AD in those days is just white paint, paste-up, altering stuff, copying and enlarging stuff and getting as good a lettering job as we could get, because sometimes that covered deficiencies. It was totally like a Frankenstein operation at times. If we ran out of time, we’d get Jack Potter to letter it because he’d do a great lettering job, big display lettering and stuff. That elevated material a little bit. It was like trying to bodge a thing into submission, really. 2000 AD was still finding its feet, it was still sort of similar to Action minus something in some departments, but going off in other directions. It got up its own head of steam, eventually…’
June 21, 2017
[docu] Errol Morris on Interviewing Trump: ‘It’s Obvious: This Person Is Insane’… Errol Morris on his new film, true crime and Donald Trump … ‘I am utterly appalled by it all. I can’t even stand people trying to make sense out of it. There’s no point in trying. There’s a scene I’ve always loved in Dr. Strangelove, where General Turgidson (George C. Scott) is reading his letter from Brigadier General Ripper (Sterling Hayden) in the Pentagon war room, and Ripper is going on and on about precious bodily fluids. Peter Sellers’ president says “Give me that,” looks at the letter, and suddenly says, “It’s obvious: this person is insane!” Well, it’s obvious! It’s so obvious, it’s overt! I mean, every day you pick up the paper and it’s appalling.’
June 22, 2017
[web] Archillect (@archillect) – The Ocular Engine … go follow Archillect – a fascinating A.I. image curator on Twitter …

June 23, 2017
[web] The Most Interesting Curator on the Internet Knows Exactly What You Want to See … more on Archillect‘This ever-evolving process has taken both Archillect and Pak on some unexpected detours away from their original mission. As she’s evolved and adapted to her audience, her taste has diverged quite a lot from that of her creator. Early in the project, Pak steered her towards more high-brow visual art, but over the past few months has been allowing her more free rein. “It’s not reflecting my taste anymore,” Pak says. “I’d say 60 percent of the things [she posts] are not things that I would like and share, but it’s still fun to see that they are doing better than the things I would share.” There’s a tinge of annoyance to Pak’s voice when he says this last part, as if he knows that Archillect is better at running herself than he or any other human ever could be.’
June 26, 2017
[life] Power Causes Brain Damage … a look at why the powerful can lack empathy … ‘The historian Henry Adams was being metaphorical, not medical, when he described power as “a sort of tumor that ends by killing the victim’s sympathies.” But that’s not far from where Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at UC Berkeley, ended up after years of lab and field experiments. Subjects under the influence of power, he found in studies spanning two decades, acted as if they had suffered a traumatic brain injury—becoming more impulsive, less risk-aware, and, crucially, less adept at seeing things from other people’s point of view.’
June 27, 2017
[consiracy] The Normalisation of Conspiracy Culture … another look at the how conspiracy theories have seeped into the mainstream … ‘When the facts are disputed, of course, you do the best you can with the evidence you can find. Josiah Thompson, the author of Six Seconds in Dallas: A Micro-Study of the Kennedy Assassination, has spent years thinking about all this. When I bring up the enormity of unknown unknowns in people’s understanding of history, Thompson quotes the writer Geoffrey O’Brien: “‘History unfolds as always in the midst of distraction, misunderstanding, and partially obscured sight-lines,’” Thompson says, reading a line from O’Brien’s 2016 review of the novel Black Deutschland by Darryl Pinckney.’
June 28, 2017
[life] Breaking News from the Onion… Mop Used to Clean Minor Spill Now Permanent Addition to Living Room
June 29, 2017
[wisdom] InspiroBot … A.I. generated inspirational quotes … ‘I am an artificial intelligence dedicated to generating unlimited amounts of unique inspirational quotes for endless enrichment of pointless human existence.’

June 30, 2017
[books] Schulz: The 5 Best Punctuation Marks in Literature … funny list of some great moments in punctuation … ‘“Marley was dead: to begin with.” That is the opening line of A Christmas Carol, although it is less like an opening than like a train car immediately running into another train car. The sentence would be unremarkable if it read, “Marley was dead, to begin with.” The colon would be unremarkable if the sentence read “To begin with: Marley was dead.” But as written, this sentence is insane, or anyway destined to foment insanity in the grammatically prissy…’
July 3, 2017
[hell] Tenth Circle Added To Rapidly Growing Hell … Hell modernises – from The Onion …

Frigax The Vile, a leading demonic presence, is one of the most vocal supporters of the new circle.

“In the past, the underworld was ill-equipped to handle the new breed of sinners flooding our gates–downsizing CEOs, focus-group coordinators, telemarketing sales representatives, and vast hordes of pony-tailed entertainment-industry executives rollerblading and talking on miniaturized cell-phones at the same time. But now, we’ve finally got the sort of top-notch Pits of Doom necessary to give such repellent abominations the quality boilings they deserve.”

July 4, 2017
[tv] When good TV goes bad: the moment Columbo’s case went cold … When did Columbo Jump the Shark? … ‘If classic Columbo is good and late-era Columbo is bad, then the lieutenant must have jumped the shark with the 1989 return of the mac? In truth, you have to go further back – to 1976. In the fifth season finale, Last Salute to the Commodore, set among the yachting set, the victim is a crotchety, self-regarding millionaire who resents his drunken coterie and grasping family. When we witness son-in-law Robert Vaughn disposing of the commodore’s body at sea, it seems obvious he is the murderer. Then Vaughn turns up dead, and the format disintegrates. Everything seems off. The lieutenant has his head turned by transcendental meditation, attempting a lotus pose on a marina boardwalk…’
July 5, 2017
[alien] A Profane Abomination … a list of designs H.R. Giger was hired to produce for the movie Alien … ‘THE ALIEN, THIRD (MATURE) PHASE. Having left its victim, the Alien promptly grows to man-size, whereupon it is terrifically dangerous. It is very mobile, strong, and capable of tearing a man to pieces. It feeds on human flesh. This creature should be a profane abomination. Our producers have suggested that something resembling an over-sized, deformed baby might be sufficiently loathsome…’
July 6, 2017
[funny] Big Fucking TV can’t find the Fucking Shit Router

July 7, 2017
[web]Whatever happened to Jennicam? … the Reply All Podcast tracked down Jennifer Ringley – arguably the first person who lived their life online – and discovered what happened after she switched the camera off … ‘My husband’s last name is Johnson and Jennifer Johnson is practically better than Jane Doe. I never thought I would get married. I never thought I would get married. But when I did, I was super eager to take his last name. SUPER EAGER.’
July 10, 2017
[tv] What’s the deal with translating Seinfeld … a look at the difficulty of translating Seinfeld (or any sitcom) from one language to another … ‘Lip-synch dubbing, despite its ultimate benefits, can get very complicated. It’s not just that the lines may not translate directly — they also have to take just as long to say in both languages and approximate, to the best of their abilities, the lip movements of the original actors. That can pose an added challenge when translating from laconic languages like English into verbose languages like German. And Seinfeld was already a very wordy show, making accurate translation that much more critical. The script-writing process for foreign translation is so elaborate that it’s a wonder even one episode gets done. Sebastian had to produce 180…’
July 11, 2017
[life] A Speck in the Sea … the amazing survival story of a fisherman who fell overboard from his lobster boat at night in the North Atlantic … ‘The boots gave Aldridge a chance to think. He wasn’t going to sink — not right away, anyway. But he was still in a very bad situation. He tried to take stock: It was about 3:30 a.m. on July 24, a clear, starry night lit by a full moon. The wind was calm, but there was a five-foot swell, a remnant of a storm that blew through a couple of days earlier. The North Atlantic water was chilly — 72 degrees — but bearable, for now. Dawn was still two hours away. Aldridge set a goal, the first of many he would assign himself that day: Just stay afloat till sunrise.’

Page 1 of 212