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June 25, 2018
[movies] David Lynch: ‘You gotta be selfish. It’s a terrible thing’ … A Profile of David Lynch. ‘There is another striking scene from childhood. One night, Lynch writes, he encountered a beautiful naked woman walking down the street, bruised and traumatised. “It was so incredible. It seemed to me that her skin was the colour of milk, and she had a bloodied mouth.” He was too young or too transfixed to find out who she was before she vanished. After art school, Lynch hustled for years to make Eraserhead, widely believed to be a response to the birth of his first child, Jennifer, who had club feet. Cineasts still debate what the onscreen infant was made of: skinned rabbit, lamb foetus? But when I ask Lynch he bats it away. “I don’t talk about the baby.”’
June 26, 2018
[rorschach] The Eye of the Beholder … A look at the history, art and theories behind Rorschach’s inkblots. ‘The science of the Rorschach, to the extent that one can refer to it as a science, is a science of artistic response as the key to personality.’
June 27, 2018
[tech] Confessions of a Disk Cracker: the secrets of 4am. … Interview with 4am – a modern software cracker cracking old programs. ‘Nobody got kudos for cracking “Irregular Spanish Verbs in the Future Tense,” no BBS would waste the hard drive space to host it, and no user would sacrifice their phone line to download it. So it never got preserved in any form. And even the things that did get cracked weren’t fully preserved. Those same technical constraints led to a culture where the smallest version of a game always won. That meant stripping out the animated boot sequence, the title screen, the multi-page introduction, the cut scenes, anything deemed “non-essential” to the pirates. The holy grail was cutting away so much that you could distribute the game (or what was left of it) as a single file that could be combined with other unrelated games on a single floppy disk.’
June 28, 2018
[comics] When Alan Moore wrote football comics… Scans of a comic Alan Moore wrote for a 1982 World Cup souvenir from Marvel UK.

June 29, 2018
[people] Inside Trials of Johnny Depp: Lawsuits, Drinking, Marriage Gone Wrong … Unputdownable profile of Johnny Depp. ‘We move to the dining room for a three-course meal of pad thai, duck and gingerbread with berries. Depp sits at the head of the table and motions toward some rolling papers and two equal piles of tobacco and hash, and asks if I mind. I don’t. He pauses for a second. “Well, let’s drink some wine first.” This goes on for 72 hours.’
July 2, 2018
[people] Ask Reddit: What drama is currently going down in the world of your hobby that the rest of us probably haven’t heard about? … Large collection of amusing posts about some huge dramas in small worlds. ‘Cockygate – A lucrative erotica e-author tried to trademark the word “cocky” and was going after romance authors. Romance Writers of America hired a lawyer to contest that nonsense.’
July 3, 2018
[comics] The ‘Lost’ Alan Moore interview … a little-known pre-Watchmen interview from 1985. ‘My basic theory is that I’ve got a single world that I’m writing about in three dimensions. I want to get that over to the artist, but I don’t want to imprison the artist. Especially since it’s quite likely that he’s got a better visual imagination than I have. I try to give them as much detail as they possibly need, but also explain in the script that if there’s a panel that they want to change or if they think they have a better idea, they should follow it up. The script’s not, engraved in stone. I want to give them maximum freedom and, with the amount of detail, maximum support as well. WATCHMEN, in particular, has been really, really thick, like I’ve said. I’m capable of spending two or three typed pages just on one panel, especially if I’m talking about the lighting, and the camera angles, and the positioning of the figures, the atmosphere, the expressions on their faces… when you try to describe reality, there’s quite a lot to talk about.’
July 4, 2018
[comics] Creator of Milk & Cheese Talks About a Weird, Brilliant Career … Evan Dorkin Interviewed. ‘In general, these stories that go too far, after a while, it’s just diminishing returns. In wrestling, with pornography, in horror movies, in horror comics, you always end up reaching this point of no return. So you have to do three women getting their heads cut off, or five guys stitched together into a centipede, or whatever the fuck. And when you save the Earth and everybody dies every three months in Marvel and DC Comics, where do you go from there? You can’t have bank robberies anymore. Everybody goes bigger all the time, and nobody cares about what’s going on with anybody other than the top five wrestlers…’
July 5, 2018
[funny] Mattel Master of the Universe Spoof Advert‘NICE GUY – Why Won’t You Ladies Just Give Him a Chance?’

July 6, 2018
[life] Prick from school now describing himself as an ‘influencer’‘Tom Booker, a devious little shit you assumed was going to be an letting agent, is instead putting a lot of selfies on Instagram and referring to himself ‘a brand ambassador in waiting’.’
July 9, 2018
[true crime] The Queasy Verdict of ‘The Staircase’ … A spoiler filled examination of the true-crime documentary “The Staircase”. ‘It’s tempting to call the story of Michael Peterson a tragedy. Not just because his protestations of innocence and grief are pitiable (although they are), or because he summarizes his life with a quote from Romeo and Juliet, “All are punished” (although he does). It’s tempting because, in The Staircase, it’s Peterson—as opposed to his dead wife—who’s unfailingly presented as the victim. After a short news brief detailing how Kathleen Peterson’s body has been found in the couple’s mansion in Durham, North Carolina, the series begins in earnest with Peterson walking the camera crew around the home, describing the events on the evening of Kathleen’s death. He’s calm and detailed in his account of how the couple watched a movie, talked about their kids, and drank a first bottle of wine, followed by a second. Then, he explains, the couple went down to the pool on their property. In Peterson’s telling, Kathleen went upstairs to bed while he stayed by the pool with his wine. It was the last time he saw her alive. What happened next was so bizarre, so unpredictable, that it made the Peterson murder investigation a national story…’
July 10, 2018
[movies] Doctors Diagnose The Injuries In Home Alone … Doctors give their opinions on the injuries the criminals in Home Alone would have received if the movie was set in the real world.

July 11, 2018
[politics] What If Trump Has Been a Russian Asset Since 1987? … Long, plausible scenario about Trump’s collusion with Russia. ‘Then there is Trump himself. While the president’s character has never been exactly deemed above reproach, some doubts have lingered about whether he would really hire prostitutes to defile a bed merely because Obama had slept there and whether a tape of such a thing would truly shame him. These questions have been answered in the affirmative. Trump’s payment of hush money to Stormy Daniels and other women proves that he holds his sexual privacy dear. And the obsessive hatred of Obama that grew out of Trump’s humiliation at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner has blossomed into a perverse and often self-destructive mania. People both inside and outside the administration report that Trump will ultimately pick whatever option he believes is the negation of Obama’s legacy.’
July 12, 2018
[movies] My Incredible, Agonising Quest to Find the Worst Movie on Netflix‘But my quest hit a snag. Though there were many truly awful sounding movies listed, every single thing I looked up seemed to have been removed from Netflix. InAPPropriate Comedy, a sketch comedy show directed by the Shamwow Guy that was widely accused of being racist? Gone. Avalanche Sharks, a horror film about, well, what it sounds like it’s about? Also gone. I was beginning to worry that, due to the constant reduction in the number of movies on Netflix, all the real garbage had been purged.’
July 13, 2018
[movies] The meaning of the ending of 2001 according to Stanley Kubrick … Two Kubrick interviews where he explains 2001: A Space Odyssey collected together.

The idea was supposed to be that he is taken in by god-like entities, creatures of pure energy and intelligence with no shape or form. They put him in what I suppose you could describe as a human zoo to study him, and his whole life passes from that point on in that room. And he has no sense of time. It just seems to happen as it does in the film.

They choose this room, which is a very inaccurate replica of French architecture (deliberately so, inaccurate) because one was suggesting that they had some idea of something that he might think was pretty, but wasn’t quite sure. Just as we’re not quite sure what do in zoos with animals to try to give them what we think is their natural environment.

Anyway, when they get finished with him, as happens in so many myths of all cultures in the world, he is transformed into some kind of super being and sent back to Earth, transformed and made into some sort of superman.

July 16, 2018
[space] Cinema Space Tribute

July 17, 2018
[books] 55 Essential Space Operas from the Last 70 Years … Great list of Sci-fi books… ‘Use of Weapons, by Iain M. Banks – Though it technically kicked off in the late ’80s, Iain M. Banks Culture novels could be said to be the genesis of what came to be known as the New British Space Opera in the ’90s and 2000s. An twist on utopian space operas, The Culture presents a future where benevolent AIs govern everything, genetic engineering has resulted in immortality and perfected human design, and the most powerful faction in the universe (next to the energy beings) is the Culture, a group of cheerful collectivists with massive, heavily armed sentient starships. Banks’ imaginative world design and massive scope is paired with an iconoclastic and anarchic sense of humor for a modern classic.’
July 18, 2018
[aliens] Fermi paradox: why haven’t we found aliens yet?… An attempt to answer a (currently) unanswerable question.

…the idea that intelligent life is extremely rare in the universe feels completely counterintuitive. We exist, along with other intelligent life like dolphins and octopi, so we assume what we see must be extrapolatable beyond Earth.

But this alone is not proof that intelligent civilizations are therefore ubiquitous. Whether the true likelihood is as high as one in two, or as inconceivable as one in a trillion trillion trillion, the mere ability to consciously ask ourselves that question depends on the fact that life has already successfully originated.

This phenomenon is known as an observer selection effect — a bias that can occur when thinking about the likelihood of an event because an observer has to be there to observe the event in the first place. As we only have one data point (us), we have no reliable way to predict the true likelihood of intelligent life. The only conclusion we can confidently draw is that it can exist.

July 19, 2018
[space] For all we know, aliens could be as careless with space junk as us … Interesting approach to discovering aliens by looking for evidence their garbage in space. ‘However, while it is looking like humankind may soon be able to spot the biomarkers of exolife, spotting a technologically advanced civilisation continues to present a challenge. Astroboffin Hector Socas-Navarro proposes that rather than looking at the exoplanet itself, researchers turn their attention to the “Clarke Exobelt” (CEB). This is an area around the planet touchingly named after Arthur C Clarke, who proposed using a geostationary orbit around the Earth for satellite communications in a 1945 paper.’
July 20, 2018
[spaceships] On the Taxonomy of Spaceships … An attempt to classify types of fictional spacecraft. ‘There are lots of different ship classes in science fiction, and I’m not talking about the designated name for a particular frame (like Victory-class or Firefly-class). I’m talking about classification of ship roles; or ship types. You have your cruisers, your destroyers, your frigates and corvettes, your dreadnoughts, and all sorts of other roles. But something that always confused me is exactly what the differences are between them. If you had shown me two ships and claimed one was a destroyer and one was a cruiser I wouldn’t have really understood what that actually means and what roles they employ in a battle. How is a battleship different from a battlecruiser? Is there any difference between a star cruiser and an assault cruiser, and if so what is it?’
July 21, 2018
[space] NASA astronaut Ellison Onizuka’s soccer ball that survived the Challenger explosion … the moving story of a long forgotten football from the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster and the family that sent it back into space.

Clear Lake High School principal, Karen Engle, got an email from a parent. He was leaving a booster club meeting and stopped to look at the ball, remembering it from so long ago. He figured it should have its own display case, and he offered to build it.

Karen didn’t believe him at first. She’d seen the Challenger explode. There was no way a soccer ball survived that — and if it had, there was no way it had been sitting in a display case just outside her office. She walked out into the hallway and looked at it closely through the glass. There was no plaque or dedication, nothing explaining what it was or all that it had survived. Just a bunch of faded signatures. Maybe the parent was mistaken; maybe it was just an old championship ball.

But as she looked closer, there in faded ink were the words that made her realize what she’d unknowingly walked by since her first day as principal: “Good Luck, Shuttle Crew!”

July 22, 2018
[space] First contact: what if we find not organic life but ET’s AI? … More interesing hypotheticals on alien hunting. ‘The most challenging task for a nursery-room AI would be how to expose its collective of savants to the complexity of the real-world environment. Nature isn’t just about meeting fixed goals; it’s full of noise, randomness and trillions upon trillions of interacting pieces. For example, from the very instant an embryo forms, it is exposed to constant variation. First just a few cells, it senses the world purely from a molecular point of view. As the embryo develops organs to register light, sound, touch and smell, the portals to experience – and their complexity – expand. In short, the way for a species to make a better AI is to let that AI and its components explore the messy Universe. As complex and nourishing as a single planet can be, a cosmos filled with worlds offers millions, billions, even trillions of natural test tubes, each with its own tale of natural selection and chance. Spreading savant AI pieces across the stars offers a way to exploit these endless natural experiments and sensory inputs.’
July 23, 2018
[moon] How the Earliest Images of the Moon Were so Much Better than we Realised … The story of how images taken by a Moon Orbiter in 1966 were saved from obsolete analog media. ‘Since 2007 the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project has brought back 2000 images from 1500 analog tapes. The first ever picture of an earthrise. As Keith Cowing said “an image taken a quarter of a fucking million miles away in 1966. The Beatles were warming up to play Shea Stadium at the moment it was being taken.”’
July 24, 2018
[space] Go look: PasComSat Grid Sphere Satellite … Odd-ball Satellite from 1966.

July 25, 2018
[religion] Why Is Google Translate Spitting Out Sinister Religious Prophecies? … Is Google Translate’s AI a Prophet? ‘In Somali, for instance, strings of the word “ag” translate into missives about the “sons of Gershon,” the “name of the LORD,” and references to Biblical terminology like “cubits” and Deuteronomy.’ [via jwz]
July 26, 2018
[life] The Secret Facebook Groups for Shocking DNA Tests … A look at how people cope when DNA Tests reveals huge surprises about parentage. ‘In conversations and correspondence with more than two dozen people for this story, I heard of DNA tests that unearthed affairs, secret pregnancies, quietly buried incidents of rape and incest, and fertility doctors using their own sperm to inseminate patients. These secrets otherwise would have—or even did—go the grave. “It’s getting harder and harder to keep secrets in our society,” says CeCe Moore, a prominent genetic genealogist who consults for the television show Finding Your Roots. “If people haven’t come to that realization, they probably should.” St Clair told me she sees it as a generational shift. The generation whose 50-year-old secrets are now being unearthed could not have imagined a world of $99 mail-in DNA kits. But times are changing, and the culture with it. “This generation right now and maybe the next 15 years or so, there’s going to be a lot of shocking results coming out. I’d say in 20 years’ time it’s going to dissipate,” she predicted. By then, our expectations of privacy will have caught up with the new reality created by the rise of consumer DNA tests.’
July 27, 2018
[brexit] From anxiety to Zuckerberg: an A-Z of Brexit‘Hard Brexit – As the Pet Shop Boys presciently asked: which do you choose, the hard or soft option? The metaphor of a “hard Brexit” appealed to soft-fleshed types who dream of being manly and thrusting, while a “soft Brexit” still sounds altogether too submissive. Having newly discovered a concern for hygiene, Tory rebels now say they want a “clean Brexit”, not the filthy, presumably French kind.’
July 30, 2018
[brexit] That sinking feeling … Charlie Stross on Brexit. ‘A Hard Brexit, on its own, would be a very dubious but probably long-term survivable scenario, with the UK economy taking a hit not much worse than the 10% downsizing Margaret Thatcher inflicted on it in 1979-80. But a hard Brexit, coinciding with the worst harvest failures in decades, ongoing climate destabilization, a fisheries collapse, and a global trade war being started by the Tangerine Shitgibbon in the White House is … well, I’m not optimistic.’
July 31, 2018
[comics] Go Look: Stanley Kubrick by Katsuhiro Otomo.

August 1, 2018
[history] On the Hunt for the Lost Wonders of Medieval Britain … A modern search for the location of some lost wonders of Ancient Britain. ‘Standing on the 2,000-year-old stones of the Roman baths, however, and dipping a finger into the warm mineral water did transmit a touch of awe. But the experience of standing in Caerwent, looking out from the port wall to see the one-time path of the River Severn and finding the dips of the dried-up Whirlyholes, while not spectacular, had its own power. The wonders list can act as a decoder for the landscape, revealing secrets in a nondescript underpass, a featureless field, an ordinary intersection. These places might seem like they have no history, but once they were remarkable.’ [via As Above]
August 2, 2018
[comics] The Beano at 80: How a British institution is keeping the kids chuckling … it was The Beano’s 80th Birthday earlier in the week. ‘What made The Beano stand out at the beginning as the most exciting entertainment product available to children, says Stirling, is what has kept it alive even after its stablemate the Dandy – launched in 1937 – has gone (although the hardback Dandy annual is still a bestseller). “The Beano was the first comic to have all kids as their main core of characters, and this core has lasted until today,” he says.’
August 3, 2018
[comics] The 10 Best Alan Moore Comics of All Time … A good attempt at picking a list of Alan Moore’s best work. ‘There’s a contingent of Moore fans who prefer to view him as a purveyor of dour, gothy culture. But that’s a limited perspective. For starters, Moore made his bread in a daily comic about a magic cat. That was his go-to; that’s how he began the business. Honestly, once you start reading all of Moore, it’s amazing how often the goofy and absurd shows up in his work. Outside of the serious books, Moore is surprisingly funny. Put simply, D.R. & Quinch is his guilty pleasure, and The Bojeffries Saga is his account of childhood.’
August 6, 2018
[tv] Harvey Pekar Collection on Late Night, Late Show, 1986-1994 … Interesting compliation of Harvey Pekar’s appearances on Letterman especially if you’ve read his comics but never seen the shows.

August 7, 2018
[comics] Weimar America … Howard Chaykin on the 35th Anniversary of American Flagg! among other things. ‘What little talk about the book in this anniversary year often refers to how much I “got right…” in regard to the dystopic future portrayed in the series. Computer generated imagery, ecological devastation, reality television, the decline of the United States, the (imminent) desertion of the country by the people responsible for the decline…there’s likely more, but you get the picture. For the record, I got plenty wrong, too—but to my mind, neither is relevant. The motivation behind FLAGG! was my young man’s outrage at the triumph of Reagan’s administration, which for me was the exhumation of Herbert Hoover and his plutocratic shmuckery, here to dismantle and demolish everything Franklin Roosevelt did to create a truly modern America.’
August 9, 2018
[life] Cognitive Biases and the Human Brain … A look at the many ways our brain deceives itself and how we can improve our thinking. ‘When people hear the word bias, many if not most will think of either racial prejudice or news organizations that slant their coverage to favor one political position over another. Present bias, by contrast, is an example of cognitive bias—the collection of faulty ways of thinking that is apparently hardwired into the human brain. The collection is large. Wikipedia’s “List of cognitive biases” contains 185 entries, from actor-observer bias (“the tendency for explanations of other individuals’ behaviors to overemphasize the influence of their personality and underemphasize the influence of their situation … and for explanations of one’s own behaviors to do the opposite”) to the Zeigarnik effect (“uncompleted or interrupted tasks are remembered better than completed ones”).’
August 10, 2018
[photos] From Errol Morris, a list of 10 things you should know about truth & photography‘6. Uncovering the relationship between a photograph and reality is no easy matter.’
August 13, 2018
[movies] Stephen King’s Son Believes He Solved a 44-Year-Old Murder Mystery By Watching Jaws … Joe Hill on Jaw’s connections with a murder from 1974. ’54 minutes in, he leapt out of his seat, his arms prickled with goosebumps and his heart pounding, at a scene that startled him for the first time despite the many times he had watched the movie. It wasn’t your typical jump-scare, no image of a hungry Great White Shark attacking a beachgoer. Instead, it was a scene in which a crowd boards a ferry on the Fourth of July, a seemingly innocuous moment in Steven Spielberg’s iconic masterpiece. In the shot, a female extra wearing a blue bandana over her auburn hair caught Hill’s attention. She was “almost a twin of the figure” in a forensic recreation image he recently saw of the Lady of the Dunes, the still-unidentified murder victim discovered in Provincetown in 1974—the very same year Jaws was filmed on nearby Martha’s Vineyard.’
August 14, 2018
[movies] I watched Nicolas Cage movies for 14 hours straight, and I’m sold … Some thoughts on Nic Cage from a journalist who attends a 7 movie Cage marathon. ‘It is during the fourth feature – the 1989 black comedy Vampire’s Kiss – that all hell breaks loose. Vampire’s Kiss is the movie you recommend if Cage’s greatness is ever called into question. His performance as a maniacal literary agent perfectly encapsulates why David Lynch described him as “the jazz musician of American acting”. Or, less charitably, why Sean Penn once famously called Cage “no longer an actor” and “more like a performer”. You could deride Cage for over-acting, as many have, or you could say his performance in Vampire’s Kiss is so exquisitely eccentric – so wild and restless and imaginative – it virtually defies description. I’ll have a crack anyway: it’s German expressionism meets Monty Python absurdism meets contemporary dance. The legendary alphabet scene generates a response so loud and enthusiastic I can feel my seat shaking.’
August 15, 2018
[tv] Alan Moore on Patrick McGoohan’s “The Prisoner” Part 1 | Part 2 … Moore also discusses Twin Peaks in this focussed interview. ‘In my opinion, and possibly in Patrick McGoohan’s, the trick is to recall that your prison and its bars — at least the mental ones — are entirely of your own manufacture. Free the mind and, as they say, the body may well follow. Seen in this light, The Prisoner becomes a big and mouth-watering cake of a production, with succulent sultanas of plot and speculation, a frosting of cryptic mystery, and an enormous rasp-file at the centre of it.’
August 16, 2018
[coke] BREAKING: Man Who Drinks 5 Diet Cokes Per Day Hoping Doctors Working On Cure For Whatever He’s Getting‘It makes sense because medicine is already so advanced that in 15 to 20 years, when I finally experience the full onset of whatever the hell freaky illness is slowly gestating inside of me with each sugar-free can of this shit, there’s bound to be at least one cure. And I hope they start working on it soon, too, because I’m not feeling so great.’
September 3, 2018
[blogs] ‘I Let Everyone Down’: A Blogger Apologizes For Not Posting In A While‘Tafferty had this to say: “I’ve just been really busy with work and family stuff,” he wrote. “That’s not an excuse. It’s just a reason. The truth is, I’m only human. I make mistakes. All I can do now is ask that you try to forgive me for failing to blog about what the family is getting up to these days for as long as I did, and I too will try to forgive myself.” Tafferty emphasized that in light of these recent events, he will be seeking help to deal with his problems, including having his brother Greg post every now and then when work piles up, as well as sharing more of his favorite Penny Arcade comics.’
September 4, 2018
[comics] Ditkoesque – Dan Clowes on Steve Ditko … an unpublished strip from the New Yorker.

September 5, 2018
[lovecraft] H.P. Lovecraft stories: an intro to Cthulhu, Necronomicon, Dagon & more … good overview of Lovecraft’s world … ‘My personal favorite Lovecraft story, “The Whisperer in Darkness” (read here) features evil crab-aliens, mind control, and disembodied brains in a tale so gross and weird I’m surprised it hasn’t been made into a hundred movies already.’
September 6, 2018
[cthulhu] I Am Part of the Resistance Inside Nyarlathotep’s Death Cult … An Op-Ed from the “trembling corridors of the West Wing”. ‘The root of this problem, we believe, is in Nyarlathotep’s very essence. It is a being incapable of viewing Its servants as anything other than playground toys or troublesome fleas. Many may argue that we should have known this to be the case for the Stalker Among the Stars. And that might well prove true, to a point. We summoned the God of a Thousand Forms assuming the weight of responsibility would rein It in slightly, remind It to adhere to the Necronomicon’s nightmare prophesies first and foremost. If it was foolish to assume the Outer God would care so little about this dimension that it wouldn’t even acknowledge the Tome’s existence, well, call us fools. We still believe utter ruin can be brought to the land through the proper rituals and unhallowed traditions, not by this fly-by-the-seat-of-your-tentacles kind of governing.’
September 7, 2018
[politics] BREAKING: Trump Is Under Spiritual Attack From Luciferian ‘Advanced Beings’ Who Control The World

“These unprecedented attacks on Donald Trump are part of the greatest spiritual battle in the history of mankind.”

“The physical battles that we see in our world and nation right now are a direct manifestation of the spiritual battles going on in the invisible realm,” McGuire added. “There are people very high up in what is called the globalist occult or globalist Luciferian rulership system, and this rulership system consists of what used to be called the Pharaoh-God Kings, it’s what Aldous Huxley called ‘The Scientific Dictatorship,’ and these are advanced beings who know how to tap into supernatural multidimensional power and integrate it with science, technology, and economics.”

September 12, 2018
[tv] One Second From Every Scene in Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace

September 13, 2018
[work] conferencecall.biz Amusing conference call ennui generator. ‘Sorry – I was on mute.’
September 14, 2018
[magic] The Limits of Reason … Philip Pullman on magic. ‘My attitude to magical things is very much like that attributed to the great physicist Niels Bohr. Asked about the horseshoe that used to hang over the door to his laboratory, he’s claimed to have said that he didn’t believe it worked but he’d been told that it worked whether he believed in it or not.’
September 18, 2018
[podcasts] 52 of the Best True-Crime Podcasts … exhaustive looking list focusing on American true-crime. Accused: ‘Reporter Amber Hunt digs into the murder of 23-year-old Elizabeth Andes, who was found dead in her Ohio apartment in December 1978. Incredibly well produced and researched, it’s Cincinnati’s Serial.’
September 20, 2018
[books] The ‘Must Read’ Pile of Books You Haven’t Actually Read … collected from Book Shambles listeners. ‘Dune by Frank Herbert (I’ll be honest, couldn’t get into it myself).’
September 21, 2018
[comics] From Bond to ITV’s Strangers: why is everyone ‘fridging’? … A Look at why the “Women in Refrigerators” trope went mainstream. ‘WiR has been prevalent in superhero narratives since The Amazing Spider-Man comic shockingly killed off Gwen Stacy in 1973, inaugurating an era of darker stories in which actions had serious consequences (although these consequences were disproportionately suffered by women). Since comics writer Gail Simone gave the trend its name in 1999, publishing a list of “superheroines who have been either depowered, raped, or cut up and stuck in the refrigerator”, the term “fridging” has been used mostly about superhero storytelling. But it has seeped into mainstream pop culture too, particularly in the past decade as comic-book adaptations have dominated blockbuster cinema.’
September 23, 2018
[money] Trillions – What is a trillion dollars? … from Information is Beautiful.

September 26, 2018
[comics] Tintin and the vanishing murals: Brussels races to save art … BBC News on saving murals painted by Hergé as a teenager. ‘In the early 1920s Hergé, then a 15-year-old Georges Remi, was a scout and student at Institut St Boniface, in the Ixelles area of Brussels. He adorned the walls of the old scout HQ with lovingly rendered art showing scouts and Native American Indians, as well as a map of Belgium. But now the small garage is in disuse, the walls are in a poor state and many of his drawings have crumbled away.’
September 27, 2018
[hacking] The Untold Story of NotPetya, the Most Devastating Cyberattack in History … Sobering, insider accounts on the worldwide impacts of the largest cyberattack so far.

Early in the operation, the IT staffers rebuilding Maersk’s network came to a sickening realization. They had located backups of almost all of Maersk’s individual servers, dating from between three and seven days prior to NotPetya’s onset. But no one could find a backup for one crucial layer of the company’s network: its domain controllers, the servers that function as a detailed map of Maersk’s network and set the basic rules that determine which users are allowed access to which systems.

Maersk’s 150 or so domain controllers were programmed to sync their data with one another, so that, in theory, any of them could function as a backup for all the others. But that decentralized backup strategy hadn’t accounted for one scenario: where every domain controller is wiped simultaneously. “If we can’t recover our domain controllers,” a Maersk IT staffer remembers thinking, “we can’t recover anything.”

September 28, 2018
[time] Your calendrical fallacy is… Everything you know about Calendars, Dates and Times is Wrong. ‘Days are 24 hours long – False. Many places around the world observe Daylight Saving Time, which means that people living in these locations will sometimes experience 23 hour days (when they “leap forward”) and 25 hour days (when they “leap back”).’
October 1, 2018
[alien] Doctors of Reddit, how would you have removed the face-hugger from Kane’s face?‘Since the host seems to need to be alive, I would “kill” the host pharmacologically – stop the heart (and maybe paralyze the lungs) with meds. The hope would be that the facehugger would detach itself or at least loosen its grip.’
October 2, 2018
[moore] The Cardinal and the Corpse … Go watch this little-seen 1992 docudrama by Iain Sinclair & Chris Petit. Alan Moore appears as himself along with Derek Raymond, Michael Moorcock, Tony Lambrianou amongst others.

October 3, 2018
[comics] Fascist Spain meets British punk: the subversive genius of Judge Dredd … Remembering Carlos Ezquerra – who sadly died earlier this week. ‘Dredd looks like no other comic character before or since. His design makes no practical sense. It has no symmetry or logic to it. No one at the time thought it would work. “Fucking hell,” his co-creator John Wagner said when he first saw the designs. “He looks like a Spanish pirate.” But somehow, for reasons no one can quite articulate, it is perfect. Ezquerra’s art exploded off the page. It was dynamic and gritty, and yet always unfussy, practical and full of economic storytelling. His thick slabs of ridged inks and expressive characters are embedded in the brains of countless readers.’
October 4, 2018
[movies] Introducing the Horror Oscars: The 40 Best Scary Movies Since ‘Halloween’ … Great list of the horror movies since 1979 onwards. ‘1980 – The Shining: Slowly but surely in the 1980s, consensus started to shift—the box office grew steadily, the critical reputation was bolstered, and within a decade, The Shining was an American classic. Why? Like Alien, it is technically magnificent and eerily tense, like waiting for an ocean of blood to pour from an elevator shaft. The Krzysztof Penderecki score is deeply unnerving. Shelley Duvall, with her long face, eight-ball eyes, and pallid complexion, is the most vulnerable subject of spousal torture ever put on screen. There are moments of shock, psychological torture, and bloodcurdling terror. (RIP, Scatman Crothers.) It’s so mystifying and intoxicating, that it has become the subject of wildly imaginative conspiracy theorizing.’
October 5, 2018
[comics] Classic British Comics: Who Owns What? … A list of what publishers own which characters in British comics. ‘Over the years, a number of companies have purchased rights to various comic brands and characters, often prompting questions about whether that company will start publishing collections of characters they don’t own on social media. This list, based where possible on information supplied by the companies listed, attempts to identify the comics key companies own, and is largely focused on “classic” brands rather than ongoing titles such as 2000AD, Beano, Commando and The Phoenix.’
October 9, 2018
[comics] Jack Kirby by Gilbert Hernandez

October 10, 2018
[comics] How to Read Alan Moore’s Providence… a useful trail of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories onto Moore & Burrows Providence.
October 11, 2018
[tech] Reboot Your Dreamliner Every 248 Days To Avoid Integer Overflow … Why Boeing 787s need to be rebooted regularly to avoid integer overflows. ‘Basically it says that all Boeing 787 Dreamliners have to be switched off every 248 days. If they are not reset then the generator control units GCUs will go into failsafe mode and the plane will lose all electrical power. Why exactly? To quote the FAA directive: This condition is caused by a software counter internal to the GCUs that will overflow after 248 days of continuous power. We are issuing this AD to prevent loss of all AC electrical power, which could result in loss of control of the airplane.’
October 12, 2018
[books] 100 Best Thrillers of All Time … long, varied book list with something for everyone. ‘Jaws by Peter Benchley – No one on this book’s editorial team, not even Benchley himself, thought a novel about a killer shark would resonate with readers. Benchley was criticized for the lack of characterization when it came to the human characters, but readers praised the intense scenes featuring Jaws himself. The novel’s inclusion in the Book of the Month Club captured the attention of Steven Spielberg, who turned it into the seventh-highest-grossing film of all time. Years later, Benchley expressed guilt over giving sharks a bad name, insisted Jaws was fiction, and became a passionate marine life conservationist.’
October 15, 2018
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October 16, 2018
[mind] Your Inner Mind Is a Work of Imagination … A fascinating look at why the unconscious mind might be a myth. ‘The reality is that the things we’re conscious of—experiences, thoughts, fragments of conversation—are completely different in type from the things we’re unconscious of—all these mysterious brain processes, which lay down and retrieve memories, piece fragments of information together, and so on. The brain is doing lots of unconscious work—but it is not thought in any way we understand it. At the everyday level, thought is what flows through my mind—images, pains, fragments of language. But the unconscious brain activity that generates such thoughts is not more of the same. If we could understand the processes by which billions of neurons cooperate to help us recognize a face or interpret a fragment of speech, we would find these as unrelated to the stream of consciousness as the operation of the liver.’
October 17, 2018
[brexit] Diamond Geezer’s 100 Brexits‘8) The one with a permanent customs union but called something different.’
October 18, 2018
[trump] The Original Donald Trump … Profile of Roy Cohn and his influence on Donald Trump. ‘Trump practiced bigotry on a grand scale, was a world-class liar, and ripped off customers, investors, and the city itself. Yet for many among New York’s upper register, there was no horror he could commit that would merit his excommunication. As with Cohn before him, the more outrageously and reprehensibly Trump behaved, the more the top rungs of society were titillated by him. They could cop out of any moral judgments or actions by rationalizing him as an entertaining con man: a cheesy, cynical, dumbed-down Gatsby who fit the city’s tacky 1980s Gilded Age much as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s more romantic prototype had the soigné Jazz Age of the 1920s. And so most of those who might have stopped Trump gawked like the rest of us as he scrambled up the city’s ladder, grabbing anything that wasn’t nailed down.’
October 19, 2018
[email] There is no non-wanky way to sign off an email, study finds‘Professor Henry Brubaker said: “Does anyone actually know what ‘kind regards’ means? Also it sounds a bit drippy and outdated, as if you’ve somehow received an email from a Victorian aunt. “An abrupt ‘thanks’ sounds sarcastic, or as we academics would describe it, ‘a bit pissy’.’
October 22, 2018
[tech] It’s Impossible to Prove Your Laptop Hasn’t Been Hacked. I Spent Two Years Finding Out … a deep technical dive into the difficulties around proving if a computer has tampered been with. ‘There is a sneaky class of attack, called “evil maid” attacks, that disk encryption alone cannot protect against. Evil maid attacks work like this: An attacker (such as a malicious hotel housekeeper, for example) gains temporary access to your encrypted laptop. Although they can’t decrypt your data, they can spend a few minutes tampering with your laptop and then leave it exactly where they found it. When you come back and type in your credentials, now you have been hacked. Exactly how an evil maid attack would work against your laptop depends on many factors: the type of computer you use, what operating system you use, which disk encryption software you use, and the configuration of firmware used to boot your computer, firmware which I’ll call “BIOS,” although it can also go by acronyms like EFI and UEFI. Some computers have considerably better technology to prevent evil maid attacks than others – for example, attackers have to do more advanced tampering to hack a Windows laptop encrypted with BitLocker than they do to hack a Mac laptop encrypted with FileVault (as of now, anyway) or a Linux laptop encrypted with LUKS.’
October 23, 2018
[akira] Alan Partridge / Akira … an epic mashup by Gavin Mitchell.

October 24, 2018
[docu] Adam Curtis: “Social media is a scam” … Brief Interview with Adam Curtis. ‘I’ve always thought John Le Carré did spies a great service because he made it seem as if there were endless depths of mystery and darkness when in fact, if you’ve ever researched the spies, they are a) boring and b) useless. I mean really, really useless. I researched MI5 once and they hardly ever manage to capture any traitors … it’s usually someone else who points them in the right direction.’
October 25, 2018
[iphone] iPhones are hard to use … some nicely-done criticism of Apple’s iPhone interface. ‘You have to shake your iPhone (or giant iPad Pro) to undo an action. You discover this by accident as you get up from a restaurant table with your phone in your hand, only to be greeted with an Undo Typing dialogue box. Unless you are an expert, you have no idea what just happened.’
October 26, 2018
[life] 104-Year-Old Reveals Secret To Long Life Being Cursed By Witch To Wander Earth Eternally‘I do try to eat healthy, but most food turns to ash the instant it crosses my lips. I also walk a lot, but that’s mostly to escape the ever-present torment of seeing generations of loved ones pass on to the next life while I’m trapped here in perpetuity.’
October 29, 2018
[arcade] Atari Asteroids: Creating a Vector Arcade Classic … the inside story behind Atari Asteroids. ‘Production started in late 1979. In an interview back in 1981, Mary Takatsuno, a marketing analyst at Atari, gave an interesting insight to the reaction to the game within the company: “Asteroids is the only game that ever stopped production lines in our plant. At break time, the entire assembly line would run over to play the machines that were ready to be shipped out. With other games, the guys would just assemble them and box them up, and that was that. But with Asteroids, nobody wanted to work.”‘
October 30, 2018
[demons] Report: Students Who Take Latin Have Better Chance Of Summoning Demon Later In Life‘On the whole, young people who studied root languages like Latin had a much easier time communicating in tongues, and could sometimes even convince spirits to do their bidding. However, those who didn’t were more prone to lag far behind their peers and often died at the hands of a bloodthirsty, vengeful succubus.’
October 31, 2018
[true crime] Out Came the Girls… a creepy, true crime story – Adolescent girl BFF murderers obsessed with Slender Man.

After their arrests, over the course of nearly nine combined hours of interviews, they claim that they were compelled to kill her by a monster they had encountered online. When discovered, the girls were making their way to him, heading to Wisconsin’s Nicolet National Forest on foot, nearly 200 miles north. They were convinced that, once there, if they pushed farther and farther into the nearly 700,000-acre forest, they would find the mansion in which their monster dwells and he would welcome them.

Morgan and Anissa packed for the trip—granola bars, water bottles, photos by which to remember their families. (As Anissa tells a detective, “We were probably going to be spending the rest of our lives there.”) Though they were both a very young, Midwestern twelve, they had been chosen for a dark and unique destiny which none of their junior-high classmates could possibly understand, drawn into the forest in the service of a force much greater and more mysterious than anything in their suburban-American lives. What drew them out there has a name: Slender Man, faceless and pale and impossibly tall. His symbol is the letter X.

November 2, 2018
[trump] The Empty Core of the Trump Mystique … Donald Trump and Nihilism … ‘A nihilist is someone who dedicates himself to not giving a shit, who thinks all meanings are shit, and who yearns with all his heart for the “aesthetic pleasure” of seeing the shit hit the fan. Arguing with a nihilist is like intimidating a suicide bomber: The usual threats and enticement have no effect. I suspect that is part of the appeal for both: the facile transcendence of placing oneself beyond all powers of persuasion. A nihilist is above you and your persnickety arguments in the same way that Trump fancies himself above the law.’
November 5, 2018
[comics] JAKA’S STORY: What It Was in 1988, and What Cerebus Used to Mean … Some Thoughts on Dave Sim and Cerebus. ‘MELMOTH was spent talking about the illness and slow death of Oscar Wilde, at a time people were still dying regularly from AIDS and little was even being tried to stop it. It was deeply sensitive and empathetic. And I still see nothing insincere in Dave’s empathy and affinity to Oscar Wilde, both in the more fictionalized version of Oscar here, who is never not entertaining, but also MELMOTH where it’s virtually the real man himself. That’s what makes later on so baffling. Immediately after he acted like he was purging every bit of that…’
November 6, 2018
[comics] Early Work from Brian Bolland, Dave Gibbons and Carlos Ezquerra … from the Wizard comic in 1976. (Spotted on Lew Stringer’s Blog.)

November 7, 2018
[comics] A Crowded Life in Comics – Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson … Some amusing memories from John Adcock of meeting Bob Kane. ‘The second interesting occurrence was related to a sketch of Batman and Robin. I think it was during my first visit. He asked if I would like a drawing of Batman. Sure; thank you! He brought out a huge sheet of Ross Board (a drawing paper with a patterned grain), and with a Flair pen, in one corner started drawing the famous outline of Batman’s head, bat-ears (or whatever they are) and all… until the right “ear” was drawn shorter than the one on the left. A curse under his breath, and Bob spun the paper and started drawing in another corner. A similar discrepancy. To myself, I thought, “Why not do a pencil preliminary?” and “Hasn’t he drawn Batman a million times?” The fourth time was a charm…’
November 8, 2018
[truecrime] Is Our Love of True Crime Shows Really About Social Justice? … more analysis of the True Crime documentary genre. ‘While audiences were divided over Steven Avery’s guilt following the first season of Making a Murderer, most agreed that the evidence presented in the documentary and at his trial—at least what they saw—made a strong argument for it to be reexamined. Making is less about a case being closed and more about how Avery was prosecuted, which is why series co-directors Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos prefer to call it a “social justice” series, rather than a true crime one. “I think what scares me about [the true crime label] is often people think it’s fetishizing death or somehow exploiting someone’s tragedy, and that’s certainly not at all what we were about,” Ricciardi told Deadline.’
November 12, 2018
[politics] How to explain Jacob Rees-Mogg? … An attempt at understanding Jacob Rees-Mogg – reminds me a little of Adam Curtis. ‘Rees-Mogg’s journey also helps explain his increasingly powerful but still quite opaque son, Jacob: not just as a supporter of Brexit, but as an unsentimental and nimble “sovereign individual” of exactly the type his father envisaged. Simultaneously, Rees-Mogg Jr has managed to become a successful player in the modern, borderless financial industries, and a nationalist politician with an instantly recognisable retro image. He has seduced some Labour MPs with his old-fashioned manners; and he has met privately in a Mayfair hotel with the would-be guru of the international far right, Steve Bannon. This lack of squeamishness about how the conservative establishment holds on to political and economic power has been passed down the Rees-Mogg generations.’
November 14, 2018
[comics] Brian Bolland – a self-portrait from 1978

November 15, 2018
[comics] Remembering when T. Rex frontman Marc Bolan interviewed Stan Lee, 1975 … Bolan discussed interviewing Lee whilst being interviewed by Marvel UK’s Neil Tennant! ‘A time when the T. Rex singer would host a BBC radio show and interviewed his heroes. One of those heroes, it would seem, was the former editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee. “It was nice meeting Stan last year, he was lovely to interview,” Bolan told Tennant. “Really he’s a hustler, a solid gold easy hustler! That’s just the way Comic guys should be, he’s got such a lot of energy. We talked about the possibility of me creating a superhero for him. Something along the lines of Electric Warrior, a twenty-first century Conan. In fact, I don’t like Conan as a character—I think he should be something less of a barbarian, more like one of Michael Moorcock’s characters,” Bolan added.’
November 16, 2018
[comics] Blinded By The Hype: An Affectionate Character Assassination [Part 1 | Part 2] … Alan Moore on Stan Lee in 1983- Alan’s postion on Lee has hardened over the years but this is still a fascinating read. ‘I’ve often noticed that the most sparkling examples of the industry at the peak of it’s form seem to have an ultimately deleterious effect upon the medium as a whole. As a for instance, the original E.C. Mad comic, undeniably brilliant in it’s own right, has doomed us to a situation where any new humour magazine that appears is almost forced by law to have a title associated with mental illness (Cracked, Sick, Crazy, Frantic, panic, Madhouse, etc. etc.) and features a pale imitation of Mad’s stock in trade genre parodies without reflecting any of the wonderful drive and imagination of the original. The same is true for Stan Lee.’
November 19, 2018
[batman] Professional Artists Draw Batman… With Their Eyes Closed … the one below is by Jock.

November 20, 2018
[mystery] The Mystery of the Havana Syndrome … a deep dive into the mysterious ailments effecting US Embassy staff in Cuba.

Before the victims arrived, in August, Smith convened a meeting of specialists at the university. Some of them were skeptical and wondered if the symptoms were psychosomatic. But their skepticism vanished when they saw the patients. “There was not one individual on the team who was not convinced that this was a real thing,” Smith said.

On August 20, 2017, Lee was flown to Philadelphia. For three days, she was subjected to a battery of tests, including MRI scans and exercises in which she stood on a moving platform and tried to keep her balance as it tilted. She fell nearly every time.

Lee and her doctors didn’t know what to call the mystery condition, so some of them referred to it as the Thing. (Smith said other names came later, including Immaculate Concussion and Havana Syndrome.) At the end of the testing, Lee told one of the specialists that she didn’t think she had the Thing. The specialist replied, “Oh, it’s definitely the Thing.”

November 21, 2018
[conspiracy] Inside the Flat Earth Conference, Where the World’s Oldest Conspiracy Theory Is Hot Again‘Hughes and his Ozman are members of a Flat Earth group that describes itself as “anti-media” “autohoaxers.” “We are the ONLY opposition to the controlled opposition,” the paper says of the group. “Controlled opposition” is a truther term for efforts to undermine conspiracy groups. “Autohoaxers” are a movement that reflexively declares every significant event a hoax, sometimes just for argument’s sake. The group’s manifesto, then, is an appeal to seed confusion and dismantle established facts, in order to let conspiracy run rampant.Days before the conference, I try entering the group’s chat channel on Discord, a messaging app. Before I’m banned (almost immediately, by users who announce “spy!” when I join) I notice most people have adopted near-identical usernames bashing one of the Flat Earth community’s Tim Ozmans. They’ve taken up Fepe, a Flat Earth-specific variant on the alt-right meme Pepe. Flat Earth is weird, but this is weird-weird. This is shitposting into oblivion. This is the information equivalent of clear-cutting a forest.’
November 22, 2018
[watchmen] The Watchmen movie proves you can be faithful to a comic and still miss its whole damn point … The Onion AV Club on the Watchmen movie. ‘From another perspective, the Watchmen movie is also a total debacle, one that fundamentally misunderstands the entire point of the book. To Moore, heroes are either ineffectual and useless, or they’re fearsome fanatics out to destroy lives. The impulses that produces these heroes are bad impulses. They’re about domination. There’s nothing cool about them. And yet Snyder can’t help but make everything look as cool as it possibly can.’
November 26, 2018
[games] Pokémon: The 20-year fad … A look at why Pokémon has been so popular for so long. ‘Make no mistake: The concept of trading and collecting is baked into Pokémon at its primal level. The game’s motto, “Gotta catch ’em all,” turns one of the central conceptual pillars of video game design into an explicit marketing tagline. Like socialization, acquisition has always been woven into the fabric of gaming. Eating bonus fruit for more points; gathering 100 coins for a 1-up; earning fancy hats to wear into your next team deathmatch: Pokémon applies that element to a real-world analog — bug collecting — but adds a fantasy element in which those virtual combat beetles appear as cute, memorable creatures of all stripes.’
November 27, 2018
[comics] The Evil Scientist’s Notes for the Press Conference‘Say GENERAL PUBLIC not HELPLESS Victims’

November 28, 2018
[books] Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life Digested … a digested read from John Grace. ‘9. Assume the person you are listening to knows something you don’t – Just shut up, quit moaning and listen to me. I know things you don’t. So don’t expect me to listen to you. That’s not the way things work. I’m here to make you feel Better about Yourself by telling you things you already know in a way that makes you feel clever.’
November 29, 2018
[crime] How a Salvador Dalí Painting Was Stolen From Rikers Island Prison … A remarkable true crime story involving a stolen painting and a gang of corrupt prison guards on Rikers Island. ‘At 1 a.m. on March 1, 2003, the squawk of a radio announced a fire drill inside the Eric M. Taylor Center. Two thousand inmates were immediately locked down. Guards rushed from their posts and convened in a remote wing, as they had been trained to do during a drill. After the drill began and the jail’s lobby was deserted, the thieves got to work. One stood watch. Another slipped off the painting case’s locks. The third kept tabs on the fire drill’s progress. Within a few minutes, a replica of the Dalí hung in its place. The substitute was far from a perfect match, and the thief standing guard wasn’t convinced. “That looks ridiculous,” he said.’
November 30, 2018
[comics] The Strange Case of Stan Lee … a nicely done look at the problem with Stan Lee. ‘When Lee passed away last week, non-comics world friends reached out to me to express condolences. They knew I loved comics and that I’m interested in the history of the medium… Clearly, this was a loss, right? A melancholy day? When I responded by trying to explain what a strange and confounding figure Lee was, and that he didn’t exactly create the characters the media was saying he did, I found myself at a loss to explain why. Lee wasn’t standard, he didn’t just take credit for something that he had nothing to do with, so it couldn’t be explained in a black and white way. He did have a large role in what Marvel was (and is), much of it positive. Why was he not what he claimed to be? It wasn’t easy to summarize and it felt exhausting, even ridiculous, to try.’
December 3, 2018
[books] The Terrible Occult Detectives of the Victorian Era … Amusing look at fictional Occult Detectives. ‘Plagued by a haunted bladder, a phantom taste, or family suicide? Flaxman Low is there to instantly pin the blame on a bunch of Dianists, dead relatives who meddled with Eastern mysticism, or an African man hiding inside a cabinet and using glowing poisonous mushrooms to kill off the family. Then he explodes your house.’
December 4, 2018
[comics] The year Britain got the Horrors over Horror Comics… Lew Stringer on anti-comics hysteria in the UK during the 1950s. Includes some scans of newspaper articles of the time. ‘On 23rd September 1954 two Glasgow policemen were called out to witness an alarming sight: hundreds of children, some armed with knives and sharpened sticks, were patrolling a graveyard hunting a vampire. Thus began the legend of the “Gorbals Vampire” and although, naturally, no vampire was found, a scapegoat for the children’s behaviour was: imported American comic books. After this, the floodgates of paranoia opened and the church and media began attacking comics relentlessly.’
December 5, 2018
[comics] Weird Window #1 and Weird Window #2 … Two issues of fanzine containing Alan Moore’s earliest published work – includes a poem, stories and illustrations from AM amongst others.

December 6, 2018
[funny] Nihilist Dad Jokes‘How does a penguin build a house? Igloos it together. Like all animals, it is an automaton, driven by blind genetic imperative, marching slowly to oblivion.’
December 7, 2018
[comics] Drunken Baker: Barney Farmer … The writer of the Drunken Bakers in Viz interviewed. ‘Since 2002, Drunken Bakers has been a stalwart of Viz: it has chronicled the demise of traditional services and society as authentically as any economic study of the state of the nation. For Farmer, bakeries were a barometer of British society: “There would be a town full of terraced houses, and at the end of every street there would be a baker. So a town of 50,000 people, it probably had a bakery for every hundred people. “Family-run bakers in Preston have been there for generations. All you need is one poor town, and it gets two Greggs (a national chain), and then that’s four or five bakeries nailed… Supermarket bread on top of that. They’ve come under attack from multiple angles. It was one of the things that dawned on me, that bread was a metaphor.’
December 10, 2018
[curtis] The antidote to civilisational collapse … Another long, interesting interview with Adam Curtis. ‘The problem I have with a lot of investigative journalism, is that they always say: “There should be more investigative journalism” and I think, “When you tell me that a lot of rich people aren’t paying tax, I’m shocked but I’m not surprised because I know that. I don’t want to read another article that tells me that”. What I want is an article that tells me why, when I’m told that, nothing happens and nothing changes. And no one has ever explained that to me. I think it has something to do with this technocratic world because it doesn’t have the capacity to respond to that kind of thing. It has the capacity to manage us very well. It’s benign but it doesn’t have the capacity to challenge the rich and the powerful within that system, who use it badly for their own purposes. That’s the downside and we’re beginning to get fed up with it. And that’s allowed those on the margins of society to come in and start kicking, and we have no idea what to do about them.’
December 11, 2018
[movies] Ridley Scott On His Favorite Scene from Blade Runner

December 12, 2018
[goop] How Goop’s Haters Made Gwyneth Paltrow’s Company Worth $250 Million …A deep, amusing dive into Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop. ‘Goop began publishing extended Q. and A.s with doctors and healers like Alejandro Junger, a cardiologist who created an anti-inflammatory regimen and recently talked on Goop’s podcast about frog venom as a psychedelic for healing, which, O.K.! Steven Gundry, a cardiac surgeon, believes that lectins, a protein in some foods, are dangerous for people with autoimmune diseases. (There are a great many people who do not believe this.) Anyone from an acupuncturist to a psychic to an endocrinologist to a psychologist addressed questions that the modern woman couldn’t seem to find answers to: Why am I so unhappy? Why am I so tired? Why am I so fat? Why don’t I want to have sex anymore? There were stories that talked about bee-sting therapy (don’t try it; someone died from it this year) and ashwagandha and adaptogens and autoimmune diseases — an autoimmune disease at every corner, be it thyroid disease, arthritis or celiac disease; trust them, you have one.’
December 13, 2018
[tv] The Assassination of Gianni Versace review – a grim portrait of gay life‘In following Cunanan’s deadly joyride, the show also takes us from Miami to Minneapolis to Chicago to La Jolla. One moment, we’re at the Versace mansion, as chiseled butlers serve orange juice on silver trays, and the next we’re in seedy motels and lakeside cottages as characters snort heroin and hunt quail. The contrast says as much about class as it does the geographical scope of the murders; Cunanan is both killer and liar, but more than anything he’s a striver, with Versace advertisements thumb-tacked to his wall and an expensive wardrobe mostly gifted to him by the older, rich men whom he dates and, in some cases, slays.’
December 14, 2018
[comics] Spider-Ham Origin: Who Is Spider-Verse’s Peter Porker … The amusing story of how Marvel came to publish a funny animal version of Spider-man in the 1980s.

“After December 14, we will live in a world where everyone knows Peter Porker,” says comics writer Dan Slott. “Laymen on the street. Kids with their lunch boxes and onesies. Everyone is gonna know who Spider-Ham is.” He pauses. He laughs at the ridiculousness of it all. “What a world.”

December 17, 2018
[xmas] Christmas Links 2018 … Worth a click – Stuart over at Feeling Listless is collecting seasonal links as he did in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
December 18, 2018
[music] Of Course You Hear What I Hear — Christmas Music Season Is Totally Data-Driven … How music-streaming services and Radio work out what songs to play at Christmas and when to start. ‘Any half-decent band will cut a quick holiday track every now and again. It was McDonald’s job to develop an algorithm to find that song and make sure nobody hears it on Spotify radio for most of the year. “We actually have a fairly intricate mechanism to try to identify Christmas music,” McDonald said. First, he builds a list of obvious holiday songs. He then identifies the albums those songs appear on. Then his algorithm looks at all the other songs on those albums to see how often they appear elsewhere, and will try to decide if they’re Christmas songs by iterating the process to figure out which songs only appear on other Christmas albums. The process isn’t infallible, but after enough repetitions, McDonald said, “we have a pretty good idea of a fairly complete universe of Christmas songs.”’
December 19, 2018
[xmas] Scarfolk Council’s Christmas Boy … It’s Christmas in Scarfolk. ‘Family members would often take turns standing in the front windows of their homes where they mimed laughter in the desperate hope that the Christmas Boy would pass them by. He rarely did…’

December 20, 2018
[movies] Batman Returns, The World’s Greatest Holiday Movie … Amusing list of thoughts on Batman Returns. ‘Oh, Penguin. How preposterous that this gross man with disgusting eating habits, tiny hands, awful hair, repugnant behavior, and no prior political experience could be considered a viable candidate! Oh, wait. Oh GOD.’
December 21, 2018
[xmas] How drunk can you get on Christmas food? I breathalysed myself to find out … Stuart Heritage eats himself drunk. ‘With a nice buzz going, I crack open a brandy-loaded Frosty Snowflake iced fruit cake. The report says two slices will get me over the limit – so I hack off a quarter and stuff it into my face as fast as I can. My breathalyser reads 1.2% BAC. Booyah! I am hammered, and it is only 9.47am. You know what? Let’s keep this party going.’ [via Feeling Listless]
December 24, 2018
[movies] 25 Horror Christmas Movies Ranked From Worst To Best According To Rotten Tomatoes‘Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984) – Tells the tale of Billy Chapmen, orphaned at 5 after witnessing the murder of his parents at the hands of a Santa suit-clad madman on Christmas Eve. Now 18 and out of the brutal grip of orphanage nuns, Billy is forced to confront his greatest fear, sending him on a rampage, leaving a crimson trail in the snow behind him.’ [via Feeling Listless]
December 25, 2018
[xmas] The Ambominable Snowman … by b3ta.com user (a)lexistwit.

December 26, 2018
[doom] Reflections on DOOM’s Development … John Romero on 25 years of Doom. ‘We couldn’t wait to see what players would do with our game, so we made sure it was open and available to modify all the data we had. We had hoped people would change textures, sounds, and make lots of new levels. We were enabling players to let us play their creations finally. It was a major move that would eventually end up with us releasing the source code. Open your game and your fans will own it, and keep it alive after you’re gone.’
December 27, 2018
[comics] Stan Lee’s True Legacy Is a Complicated Cosmic Mystery … Douglas Wolk takes another look at Stan Lee. ‘But of all the characters with whom Lee is associated, his greatest—and the only one he created entirely on his own—was “Stan Lee”: an egomaniac who thought it was funny to pretend he was an egomaniac, a carnival barker who actually does have something great behind the curtain. Artist John Romita, who worked with Lee on Daredevil and Spider-Man, put it nicely in a 1998 interview: “He’s a con man, but he did deliver.”’
December 30, 2018
[comics] Alan Moore film aims to ‘dispel Northampton’s anonymity’… BBC News on Alan Moore and Mitch Jenkins new film “The Show”. ‘I hope to rescue Northampton with a strenuous application of imaginations…’
December 31, 2018
[til] 52 things I learned in 2018 … Fifty-two TIL from Tom Whitwell. ‘Unicode, the international standard for letters, characters and emojis, has 137,439 entries. It includes a group of ‘ghost characters’ (妛挧暃椦槞蟐袮閠駲墸壥彁) which have no known meaning. It’s believed they are errors introduced by folds and wrinkles during a paper-based 1978 Japanese government project to standardise the alphabet, but are now locked into the standard forever.’