1 January 2019
2 January 2019
[retro] Building a Spotify player for my Mac SE/30 … a pretty astounding use for an old Mac!
3 January 2019
[blogs] Go click: jwz’s 50 most popular blog posts from 2018
4 January 2019
[books] Who Are the Forgotten Greats of Science Fiction? … interesting list of overlooked science fiction authors and their books of note. ‘Leigh Brackett (December 7, 1915–March 18, 1978) was lauded for her planetary adventures (she moved her Eric John Stark adventures to the extra-solar world Skaith when space probes rendered her pulp-era Solar System implausible) but that was only one aspect of her work. In addition to writing SF and mysteries, she was a successful script writer. Her credits include The Big Sleep, Rio Bravo, The Long Goodbye, and an obscure little film called The Empire Strikes Back. Her planetary adventures tended to be long on action and short on clear moral boundaries. I am particularly fond of her post-apocalyptic The Long Tomorrow.’
7 January 2019
[moore] Alan Moore Interview from June 1988 … A scan of an interview from the British fanzine FA. Moore is interviewed by Martin Skidmore. It’s contains some interesting comments on how he feels about Killing Joke just after it’s release and also why he stopped doing conventions and his dsyfunctional relationship with fandom at the time. ‘It’s a forty-page Batman story, a forty-page Joker story, that I wrote two or three years ago, around the time I was writing the first couple of issues of Watchmen. Sometimes stories work, sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re not so good. You can put a lot of effort into a thing and it just doesn’t work sometimes. You can’t write perfect stories every time. With that particular one, I worked at it as hard as I could, there was something at the end of it that seemed a bit heavy, a bit depressing, but at the same time there were some bits of it I really did like. In terms of Batman stories it wasn’t as good as the story I wrote about Clayface. It wasn’t as good as the story I did with Batman in Swamp Thing. My feeling on it is that if you came across that in a normal, floppy, forty-page DC Batman Annual, I’m sure it’d seem okay.’
8 January 2019
[games] Bandersnatch: the game that killed a company and inspired a Black Mirror episode … The true story of the never-released ZX Spectrum game Bandersnatch. ‘In fact, according to programmer John Gibson in a 2001 interview, it was looking likely that even with 176K, “[Bandersnatch] was around half finished and we’d already used up all the ROM so a major design rethink would have been necessary to get it finished.” As such, the final package was more likely to cost around £60 – ten times what a normal game would cost. Would you drop £450 on a Switch game? With every passing week, Bandersnatch was growing more arms and legs and was turning into something much bigger than anyone could have anticipated. This was no longer a simple game release: it was suddenly part game, part hardware launch, part box full of merchandise and other tat.’
9 January 2019
[comics] Tintin in Neo-Tokyo … Tintin and Akira Mashed Up.
10 January 2019
[books] Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Stories … Written in 1928 by S.S. Van Dine. ‘A professional criminal must never be shouldered with the guilt of a crime in a detective story. Crimes by house-breakers and bandits are the province of the police department–not of authors and brilliant amateur detectives. Such crimes belong to the routine work of the Homicide Bureaus. A really fascinating crime is one committed by a pillar of a church, or a spinster noted for her charities.’
11 January 2019
[life] How Not to Be Stupid … A look at avoiding situational stupidity. ‘When it comes to overloading our cognitive brains, the seven factors are: being outside of your circle of competence, stress, rushing or urgency, fixation on an outcome, information overload, being in a group where social cohesion comes into play, and being in the presence of an “authority.” Acting alone any of these are powerful enough, but together they dramatically increase the odds you are unaware that you’ve been cognitively compromised.’
14 January 2019
[crime] What’s the single, best piece of true crime writing you’ve read? … Great list of must-read True Crime stories from Reddit.
15 January 2019
16 January 2019
17 January 2019
[comics] Interview with Katsuhiro Otomo … The creator of Akira interviewed. ‘I wanted to draw this story set in a Japan similar to how it was after the end of World War II—rebelling governmental factions; a rebuilding world; foreign political influence, an uncertain future; a bored and reckless younger generation racing each other on bikes. Akira is the story of my own teenage years, rewritten to take place in the future. I never thought too deeply about the two main characters as I made them; I just projected how I was like when I was younger. The ideas naturally flowed out from my own memories.’
18 January 2019
[internet] The secret rules of the internet … Fascinating look at the moderation of content on social networks. ‘Joi Podgorny is former vice president at ModSquad, which provides content moderation to a range of marquee clients, from the State Department to the NFL. Now a digital media consultant, she says founders and developers not only resist seeing the toxic content, they resist even understanding the practice of moderation. Typically cast off as “customer-service,” moderation and related work remains a relatively low-wage, low-status sector, often managed and staffed by women, which stands apart from the higher-status, higher-paid, more powerful sectors of engineering and finance, which are overwhelmingly male. “I need you to look at what my people are looking at on a regular basis,” she said. “I want you to go through my training and see this stuff [and] you’re not going to think it’s free speech. You’re going to think it’s damaging to culture, not only for our brand, but in general.” Brian Pontarelli, CEO of the moderation software company Inversoft, echoes the observation. Many companies, he told us, will not engage in robust moderation until it will cost them not to.’
21 January 2019
[media] Vice Media Was Built on a Bluff … A profile of Vice Media. ‘All this left Smith heading into 2017 in a position he hadn’t planned to be in: still owning his company, which was now populated by employees 20-plus years his junior who didn’t care that he’d once been in a punk band called Leatherassbuttfuk.’
22 January 2019
23 January 2019
[movies] 20 Creepiest Movie Nuns … ‘Killer Nun (1978) – Say what you will about “Killer Nun,” it certainly lives up to its title. Following the removal of a pesky brain tumor, Sister Gertrude begins exhibiting signs of odd behavior, including anonymous sex with strangers, fits of psychotic rage, and an obsession with the torture of martyred saints. Things take a turn for the worse when she’s accused of throwing a geriatric patient off the roof of a hospital. Swedish bombshell Anita Ekberg gives the deranged title character her all, particularly in the scene where she crushes an old woman’s dentures under her foot while yelling “Disgusting!” over and over again.’
24 January 2019
[politics] Christopher Steele, the Man Behind the Trump Dossier … Profiling Christopher Steele and the Trump Dossier. ‘Steele, on that January night, was stunned to learn that U.S. politicians were calling him a criminal. He told Christopher Burrows, with whom he co-founded Orbis, that the sensation was “a feeling like vertigo.” Burrows, in his first public interview on the dossier controversy, recalled Steele telling him, “You have this thudding headache—you can’t think straight, you have no appetite, you feel ill.” Steele compared it to the disorientation that he had felt in 2009, when his first wife, Laura, had died, after a long illness, leaving him to care for their three young children.’
25 January 2019
[blogging] “The Linux of social media” — How LiveJournal pioneered (then lost) blogging … A brief history of LiveJournal. ‘When friends started complaining about the unsheared “walls of text” that some of their peers would post, Fitzpatrick added a “post” button so they could space out their paragraphs. There was no way to respond to other people’s output initially, no matter how insipid—until, of course, Fitzpatrick decided that he wanted to make fun of one of his friend’s posts. He next added in the comment functionality just to post “a snarky-ass comment.” “Everything was like that,” Fitzpatrick says. “Current mood, current music, profile pics—it was all screwing around and trying to add whatever new things we could do or what the Web supported at the time.” At a certain point in his college career, around the year 2000, Fitzpatrick realized that LiveJournal had turned from a fun way to mess around with CGI scripts into something approaching an actual business…’
28 January 2019
[truecrime] Netflix’s Ted Bundy documentary and the problem with peak true crime … Some criticisms of True Crime documentaries. ‘The portrait painted is of the David Brent serial killers – obviously evil and deranged but also obsessed with the limelight and entirely unaware of the ludicrous figure he cuts as he insists on defending himself at trial. Yet it’s unclear whether Berlinger understands how much of a black hole his protagonist is. The makers of Conversations with a Killer seem almost hypnotised by Bundy. That’s another flaw with “Peak True Crime”: the insistence that we, too, are bedazzled by their subjects (see also Michael Peterson in The Staircase, Marjorie Diehl in Evil Genius etc).’
29 January 2019
30 January 2019
[tv] Smart TVs Are Dumb … Alex looks at the business model around Smart TVs. ‘Earlier this month, Vizio’s chief technology officer, Bill Baxter, told The Verge that the reason his company can sell TVs so cheaply now is that it makes up the money by selling bits of data and access to your TV after you purchase it. Baxter called this “post-purchase monetization.” “This is a cutthroat industry,” he said. “It’s a 6-percent-margin industry, right? … The greater strategy is I really don’t need to make money off of the TV.” This is why your TV was so cheap.’
31 January 2019
[true crime] The Haunting of 657 Boulevard in Westfield, New Jersey … This creepy, true-crime story will put you off ever buying a house.
‘Two weeks after the letter arrived, Maria stopped by the house to look at some paint samples and check the mail. She recognized the thick black lettering on a card-shaped envelope and called the police. “Welcome again to your new home at 657 Boulevard,” The Watcher wrote. “The workers have been busy and I have been watching you unload carfuls of your personal belongings. The dumpster is a nice touch. Have they found what is in the walls yet? In time they will.”
This time, The Watcher had addressed Derek and Maria directly, misspelling their names as “Mr. and Mrs. Braddus.” Had The Watcher been close enough to hear one of the Broadduses’ contractors addressing them? The Watcher boasted of having learned a lot about the family in the preceding weeks, especially about their children. The letter identified the Broadduses’ three kids by birth order and by their nicknames — the ones Maria had been yelling. “I am pleased to know your names now and the name of the young blood you have brought to me,” it said.
1 February 2019
[funny] Nihilist Dad Jokes, Part 2 … ‘I bought a cheap elephant ride yesterday… I got it for peanuts! I sat on the beast hoping to excavate some boyish excitement. Yet I felt nothing. When I was young I dreamed of changing the world with my ideas. But people care not for ideas — they value conformity, popularity, and the fantasy of having sex with someone who has never thought about them. So I gave up on philosophy. Now I spew jokes like a trained circus animal.’
4 February 2019
[life] Why People Wait 10 Days to Do Something That Takes 10 Minutes … The Atlantic on procrastination. ‘Being conscious of your habits does seem to have an impact on procrastination, but in ways more complicated than I had first assumed. In 2011, the Stanford University researcher Carol Dweck published findings that suggest decision fatigue more negatively affects people who already expect their willpower to be low. People who expect themselves to fail toward the end of the day, in other words, often do. Maybe task delayers could all be better around the house if we simply stopped granting the premise that “bad” is the default with which we are stricken. Procrastination researchers, it should be mentioned, all seem to answer their emails in a timely manner.’
5 February 2019
[movies] Mann – Magic Act … a tribute compilation to the movies of Michael Mann.
6 February 2019
[tech] The curious case of the Raspberry Pi in the network closet … ‘The data directory didn’t have any data stored (as in: collected data) but there was a nodejs app which was heavily obfuscated and to this day I can’t tell exactly what it was doing. It seems to talk via a serial connection to the dongle but I can’t extract what data is actually collected. I can only assume that it collected movement profiles of bluetooth and wifi devices in the area (around the Managers office) and maybe raw wifi packets.’
7 February 2019
[life] Did you consent to being born? Why one man is suing his parents for giving birth to him … A look at Antinatalism from Pass Notes. ‘Antinatalism is a system of belief that holds that it is morally wrong for people to procreate, and a vast amount of human misery could be avoided by people simply not existing in the first place.’
8 February 2019
[drinking] ‘Hangxiety’: why alcohol gives you a hangover and anxiety … ‘Another key cause of hangxiety is being unable to remember the mortifying things you are sure you must have said or done while inebriated – another result of your compromised glutamate levels. “You need glutamate to lay down memories,” says Nutt, “and once you’re on the sixth or seventh drink, the glutamate system is blocked, which is why you can’t remember things.”’
11 February 2019
[health] The unbearable wrongness of Gwyneth Paltrow … another satisfying take down of Gwyneth Paltrow and her health and wellness business. ‘It’s strange. One week, Paltrow is claiming she’s found the perfect diet. The next week, she says she needs to detox to undo damage from whatever she’s been throwing into her body. For a brief moment, while reading through every ridiculous diet Paltrow has put her body through (or put through her body), I felt bad for her. Nevertheless, Paltrow’s dieting advice now borders on the pathological. Her quest for health began when she sought out the advice of Dr. Alejandro Junger, a Dr. Oz acolyte who says you can cleanse the toxins from your body by avoiding gluten, nightshades, soy, peanuts, dairy, sugar, and alcohol — you know, basically all food. Junger’s battery of bullshit tests told Paltrow that it was in her best interest to eat this way (and, likely, purchase the doctor’s $475, 21-day diet program) to restore her health.’
12 February 2019
[sleep] The best thing you can do for your health: sleep well … ‘Strikingly, all it takes is one hour of lost sleep, as demonstrated by a global experiment performed on 1.6 billion people across more than 60 countries twice a year, otherwise known as daylight saving times. In the spring, when we lose one hour of sleep, there is a 24% increase in heart attacks the following day. In the autumn, we gain an hour of sleep opportunity, and there is a 21% reduction in heart attacks. Most of us think little of losing an hour of sleep, yet it is anything but trivial. Sleep disruption has further been associated with all major psychiatric conditions, including depression, anxiety and suicidality. Indeed, in my research over the past 20 years, we have not been able to find a single major psychiatric condition in which sleep is normal.’
13 February 2019
[blogs] What is Diamond Geezer’s Blog about? … ‘Overall, if there’s one thing I suspect truly defines this blog, it’s that I actually visit the places that I write about. A lot of the media publish stories based on press releases they’ve been sent, using the attached images or nabbing them off Google, whereas I invariably get off my backside and go there myself. Partly that’s because I want my own photos, but mainly it’s because I can collect background detail and additional observations I’d never get unless I went in person. Also, I have the time. I’m not up against a deadline, or trapped in an office, so if it takes an hour and a half to get somewhere and another three hours to wander around, so be it.’
14 February 2019
[watchmen] Will Smith as
Genie Dr. Manhattan … ‘I am tired of Earth…’
15 February 2019
[sleep] How to Sleep. .. A doctor advises on how to sleep well. ‘ Could soldiers be trained to function in sustained warfare with very little sleep? The original studies seemed to say yes. But when the military put soldiers in a lab to make certain they stayed awake, performance suffered. Cumulative deficits accrued with each night of suboptimal sleep. The less sleep the soldiers got, the more deficits they suffered the next day. But as with my own residency experience, they couldn’t tell that they had a deficit. “They would insist that they were fine,” said Dinges, “but weren’t performing well at all, and the discrepancy was extreme.” This finding has been replicated many times over the intervening decades, even as many professions continue to encourage and applaud sleep deprivation.’
18 February 2019
[socialmedia] The Lonely Life of a Yacht Influencer … Profiling the life of a Instagram influencer. ‘Jimenez leveled with me — once upon a time, he had been excited by the idea of partying on a yacht. After all, who wouldn’t be? But now he was basically just a working stiff. He too had a home and a family, with kids he didn’t see as much as he could because his “feet were never on dry land.” He had considerable yacht expertise and knew all the major players in the yacht world, buyers and sellers and their glorious boats. He had been on the 100-foot yachts and the 500-foot yachts, and seen yacht-related activities he assured me exceeded any fantasies, dark or light, that I could ever imagine. Yet all that meant he was now just another yacht worker, someone who punched the clock — or the pearl-faced wristwatch, in his case — the same as the kitchen staff, the bartenders and the yacht’s crew.’
19 February 2019
[life] Do Animals Have Feelings? … A powerful examination of the consciousness of animals. ‘If one of the wasp’s aquatic ancestors experienced Earth’s first embryonic consciousness, it would have been nothing like our own consciousness. It may have been colorless and barren of sharply defined objects. It may have been episodic, flickering on in some situations and off in others. It may have been a murkily sensed perimeter of binary feelings, a bubble of good and bad experienced by something central and unitary. To those of us who have seen stars shining on the far side of the cosmos, this existence would be claustrophobic to a degree that is scarcely imaginable. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t conscious.’
20 February 2019
[movies] Office Space at 20: how the comedy spoke to an anxious workplace … Looking back at Mike Judge’s office comedy. ‘The aggressive regular-guy-ness of Livingston empowers anyone sharing his middle-income lot – not well-off enough to enjoy being rich; not poor enough to have the hardship to account for his misery – to access him as a surrogate, making his strike against the coffee-slurping overlords into a slacker wish-fulfillment fantasy. His version of getting unplugged from the matrix comes when a hypnotherapist drops dead in the middle of their session, which leaves Peter in a state of new enlightenment. It means all he must do to change direction is simply decide to do so. He starts coming to work in flannel shirts and jeans, ignoring the memos telling him things he already knows, and eventually skipping out entirely to embrace absenteeism as a philosophy.’
21 February 2019
[comics] The UKCAC ’86 Portfolio [Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 | Page 5 | Page 6 | Page 7 | Page 8 | Page 9 | Page 10 | Page 11 | Page 12] … A great collection of sketches produced at a UK Comic Convention in 1986. Sketches from Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, Frank Miller, Bill Sienkiewicz, Kevin O’Neill and many more…
22 February 2019
[tv] ‘We’ve had a love-hate relationship’: Steve Coogan on bringing Alan Partridge back to the BBC … ‘But timing is everything, and the alchemy that sees Partridge back at the BBC on the cusp of such huge national change couldn’t be more perfect. Like King Arthur in Avalon, he waited for his time to come. And come it has. Although the show doesn’t directly reference Brexit, because it’s a train that is moving too fast, and they’re not in the business of political satire, it hints at the current divisions over everything from gender politics to the #MeToo movement and lets Partridge grapple with them. Coogan says Partridge’s lack of a mental gatekeeper is the gift that keeps on giving…’
25 February 2019
[comics] Divorced because of comic books … scan of a story from a newspaper in 1949. ‘SALT LAKE CITY — Mrs. Ida Thompson Thursday sued Henry G. Thompson for divorce because he “frequently bought comic books by the dozens and sat around and read them while refusing to help care for our baby.”‘
26 February 2019
[movies] An Oral History of ‘Office Space’ … Amusing look at the making of Mike Judge’s classic office comedy.
Gilbert: I went out and found 20 printers that were all the same, because we’re smashing it, right? I took them all apart myself to make them all weaker, so when they hit them with baseball bats, it would come apart. Every take where we broke one and we got more parts, we kept throwing those broken parts onto the inside of the printer.
Livingston: I just walk around in the background with a baseball bat. I wanted it to be the idea that I was blooding these guys a little bit—this was their initiation into this kind of thing. The two of them, all the stuff they did was hilarious.
Naidu: The idea that it takes on the element of a full-on gangster beatdown was very clear to me. I used what little tae kwon do training I had left over and everything I remember from every gangster movie I had. I’d give it a massive hammer kick. That comes from Master Kim when I was 12. Make sure the leg comes above the head.
27 February 2019
[moderation] The secret lives of Facebook moderators in America … this long article about the working lives of Facebook moderators is very dark and worth your time. ‘When I ask about the risks of contractors developing PTSD, a counselor I’ll call Logan tells me about a different psychological phenomenon: “post-traumatic growth,” an effect whereby some trauma victims emerge from the experience feeling stronger than before. The example he gives me is that of Malala Yousafzai, the women’s education activist, who was shot in the head as a teenager by the Taliban. “That’s an extremely traumatic event that she experienced in her life,” Logan says. “It seems like she came back extremely resilient and strong. She won a Nobel Peace Prize… So there are many examples of people that experience difficult times and come back stronger than before.”’
28 February 2019
[comics] Star Wars in 2000AD [Part 1 | Part 2] … Nostalgic look back at the influence of Star Wars on 2000AD. ‘The first mention of the movie appears in the letters page in prog 8 (16 Apr 1977). This would have been my first exposure to the title “Star Wars” — but I don’t remember it. Fun fact: prog 8 was the first issue to print readers’ letters.’
1 March 2019
[life] Man destroys kitchen trying to spread cold butter on toast … ‘The first spread just kind of broke the butter and tore the toast a bit, then the second went straight through the kitchen counter and fucked the dishwasher. After the third I couldn’t see because of all the dust and masonry. I didn’t give up, because I really fancied some toast…’
4 March 2019
[mind] Why can’t the world’s greatest minds solve the mystery of consciousness … A look at the mystery of consciousness from Oliver Burkeman. ‘Common sense may tell us there’s a subjective world of inner experience – but then common sense told us that the sun orbits the Earth, and that the world was flat. Consciousness, according to Dennett’s theory, is like a conjuring trick: the normal functioning of the brain just makes it look as if there is something non-physical going on. To look for a real, substantive thing called consciousness, Dennett argues, is as silly as insisting that characters in novels, such as Sherlock Holmes or Harry Potter, must be made up of a peculiar substance named “fictoplasm”; the idea is absurd and unnecessary, since the characters do not exist to begin with. This is the point at which the debate tends to collapse into incredulous laughter and head-shaking: neither camp can quite believe what the other is saying. To Dennett’s opponents, he is simply denying the existence of something everyone knows for certain: their inner experience of sights, smells, emotions and the rest. (Chalmers has speculated, largely in jest, that Dennett himself might be a zombie.) It’s like asserting that cancer doesn’t exist, then claiming you’ve cured cancer; more than one critic of Dennett’s most famous book, Consciousness Explained, has joked that its title ought to be Consciousness Explained Away.’
5 March 2019
6 March 2019
[winning] ‘I’d get 400 toilet rolls at a time’: how it feels to win a lifetime supply … amusing look at what it’s like to win a life-time supply competition. ‘The toilet rolls started arriving three months later. I was at design school in Orange County and living in a rented room, so my housemates were pretty excited when I got a phone call from UPS saying there was a big order for me to pick up. I pulled up at the depot in my Mini Cooper expecting a large package, and was met by two pallets, piled high with about 20 boxes, containing hundreds of rolls. I couldn’t get it all in the car. I folded the seats down, opened up boxes and shoved packets in every footwell. I was sweating. It was like something out of a movie. This would happen every two or three months; I would receive up to 400 rolls at a time. I’d go to the warehouse, or a haulage truck would pull up outside my house…’
7 March 2019
[life] Mob deep: Russian mafia gravestones … Collection of oddly compelling photo-realistic gravestones of Russian gangsters and family.
8 March 2019
11 March 2019
[comics] A Tank Knows No Mercy-Jack Kirby/Steve Ditko-1960 … A war story with pencils from Jack Kirby and inks by Steve Ditko.
12 March 2019
[movies] Why is pop culture obsessed with battles between good and evil? … An interesting look at why modern stories tend to be narratives about Good Guys vs. Bad Guys. ‘It’s no coincidence that good guy/bad guy movies, comic books and games have large, impassioned and volatile fandoms – even the word ‘fandom’ suggests the idea of a nation, or kingdom. What’s more, the moral physics of these stories about superheroes fighting the good fight, or battling to save the world, does not commend genuine empowerment. The one thing the good guys teach us is that people on the other team aren’t like us. In fact, they’re so bad, and the stakes are so high, that we have to forgive every transgression by our own team in order to win.’
13 March 2019
[comics] The Really, Really Missing Alan Moore … Lance Parkin’s listing of Alan Moore’s unstarted and unfinished projects. ‘There are two missing novels. The first is Yuggoth Cultures, a Lovecraft-inspired piece. The second is A Grammar, a psychogeographical work about a path between Northampton and the Welsh border, or a train track between the East Coast and Cardiff, depending which interview you read.’
14 March 2019
[brexit] Theresa May planned to defeat herself, then decided not to defeat herself by defeating herself, then lost. To herself … Tom Peck’s Political Sketch of what happened last night in Parliment.
Theresa May has spent the last three years saying “no deal is better than a bad deal”. She’s allocated £4bn of public money to preparing for no deal. And then, on Wednesday evening, she was expected to walk through the division lobbies and vote to rule out no deal.
Mad, obviously. Stark raving mad. But it’s at least within the realm of madness that we’re used to. But what happened was a madness to echo down the ages. Not so much another order of magnitude as another dimension.
The House of Commons was a Benny Hill chase on acid, running through a Salvador Dali painting in a spaceship on its way to infinity.
It was a kind of death-defying, window-shattering, epoch-shaping, never-to-be-surpassed lunacy.
The details are extravagantly complex, and if you can’t face them all, the key bit to remember is that Theresa May planned to defeat herself, then decided not to defeat herself by defeating herself, then lost. To herself.
[comics] 50 Things Mike Sterling has learned from, or discovered about, comic book retail over the last thirty or so years … ‘All those foil/die-cut/hologram covers from the ’90s nearly did the industry in, but customers today who weren’t around then for all that nonsense think those fancy covers are great now! I can even sell Turok #1s!’
15 March 2019
18 March 2019
[brexit] The simple guide to Brexit … Diamond Geezer’s Brexit outlines. ‘Nationwide chaos’
19 March 2019
[alien] Ridley Scott’s Masterpiece ‘Alien’: Nothing Is as Terrifying as the Fear of the Unknown … Interesting collection of digital artefacts from the horror movie Alien including the screenplay. ‘The visuals are fascinating, but they alone would not have resulted in a brilliant horror flick had the pacing been any different. Scott deliberately let the story unfold slowly, gradually, respecting Hitchcock’s regard for the crucial importance of suspense. It is the waiting that’s killing us, it’s the feeling of being isolated and helpless that overwhelms us, it’s the silence and uneventfulness that bring about the feeling of upcoming horror, it’s this patience and restraint that makes the elements of pure terror so damn effective.’
20 March 2019
[iphone] The first iPhone prototype: an exclusive look at Apple’s red M68 … A rare look at a prototype of the original iPhone … ‘On this particular development board, there’s even a screen, but the iPhone’s home button (known here as the menu button) is mounted on the board to the left of the display, and the power and volume buttons are on the left-hand side of the board. We got a chance to boot this prototype, and it simply powers up to the Apple logo. Engineers using this particular board would have booted into something similar to a command prompt to test kernel changes.’
21 March 2019
[morris] Was Thomas Kuhn Evil? … Nice overview of Errol Morris’ big problems with Thomas Kuhn. ‘Morris, who calls his philosophy “investigative realism,” writes, “I feel very strongly that, even though the world is unutterably insane, there is this idea—perhaps a hope—that we can reach outside of the insanity and find truth, find the world, find ourselves.” Kuhn, for all his faults, goaded Morris into writing a brilliant work of investigative realism.’
25 March 2019
[web] Killed by Google – The Google Graveyard & Cemetery … A list of products shutdown by Google. ‘Google Reader – 2005 – 2013. Killed over 5 years ago, Google Reader was a RSS/Atom feed aggregator. It was over 7 years old.’
26 March 2019
[disaster] Normalization of Deviance … a fascinating look at why disasters happen.
Because here’s the thing: most of the time when there’s a Serious Problem™, it’s not just one event. Disasters aren’t caused by one small event: it’s an avalanche of problems that we survived up until now until they all happen at once.
Like, the Titanic disaster didn’t kill 1,500 people because they had a one-in-a-million chance of hitting an iceberg. Yeah, the iceberg was the linchpin in that disaster, but it’s just the final piece in that jigsaw.
If they hadn’t been going so fast, if the radio operator hadn’t been preoccupied, if the lookout’s binoculars hadn’t been missing, if it hadn’t been a moonless night, if they’d not had rivet problems, if the bulkheads went all the way up, if they had enough lifeboats … It might have been a minor enough incident that you wouldn’t have even heard of it.
Like, in 1907 the SS Kronprinz Wilhelm rammed an iceberg. It was a passenger liner (later a troop transport) and fully loaded would have over a thousand passengers and crew aboard. It survived. It completed its voyage and stayed in service for another 16 years.
You probably haven’t heard of this incident. It’s a single line mention in a wikipedia page. Because they didn’t hit all the failures at once. They rolled the same dice and didn’t come up all 1s.
27 March 2019
[tv] Is This Time Alan Partridge’s last Aha!? … Reviewing Alan Partridge’s latest TV series. ‘Thing is, as the Gibbons brothers have noted, by 21st-century standards of discourse, he is frighteningly plausible. When he mutters aloud about his wife being an “awful woman” on air, it reminds of Donald Trump’s “nasty woman” remark during the Presidential debates – there is too much about Trump that is Partridgean, or vice-versa. Similarly, that Piers Morgan now co-hosts a breakfast show has raised the suggestion that Partridge is redundant. Which is unfair on Alan – he is a psychologically complex, not entirely unlikable character whereas Morgan is a flat-out, flat-track tedious boor lacking Alan’s residual moral fibre.’
28 March 2019
[books] A Definitive Ranking of Iain M. Banks’s Culture Novels … ‘Use of Weapons – It’s a dark, complex, unnerving, and deconstructive portrait of a character who, in any other writer’s hands, might have been sketched out as a straight-forward “galactic hero” archetype, winning the day with wits and a gun. While it’s often considered to be the high point of the series (and works hard to earn that title), the finicky nature of the narrative structure and some of the extreme sociopathy shown by heroes and villains alike make it much more than escapist reading. An amazing book, but an uncomfortable one.’
29 March 2019
[brexit] Happy #BrexitDay …
1 April 2019
[privacy] A Few Simple Steps to Vastly Increase Your Privacy Online … straight-forward list of ways to inprove your privacy on the internet in 2019. ‘Switch to Firefox as your browser on all devices. I’m not a Chrome or Edge hater, I’m just lazy. I don’t want to parse whether each new update contains a privacy regression or new settings I need to worry about. I just want a browser that has more of my best interests in mind. Firefox is developed by a non-profit company, Mozilla, explicitly dedicated to users’ needs…’
2 April 2019
[brxit] How the UK lost the Brexit battle … A longread on why Brexit is failing. ‘For many around May, that a crash would come had been obvious for months. As far back as July 2018, senior figures inside No. 10 Downing Street had warned that her deal, as it was shaping up, was unsustainable. There was just no way a majority in parliament could be assembled for the Brexit the EU was offering. In truth, the trains had been set in motion far earlier — the collision was the culmination of decisions taken by both sides within the hours, weeks and months that followed the referendum. The EU’s determination not to cut London a special deal; Cameron’s decision to walk away; May’s sweeping promise not to raise a border in Ireland, while at the same time drawing incompatible red lines — something had to give, and it would not be Brussels.’
3 April 2019
[movies] The ultimate guide to analog control panels in sci-fi movies … A look at of the retro-tech in classic science-fiction movies. ‘Of all our control panel selections, Alien might have the most functional looking one. That’s because the production designer, Ron Cobb, constantly worked from the idea that everything should have a legitimate purpose. Cobb went as far as making legitimate real world safety signs for fixtures and airlocks.’
4 April 2019
[space] Apollo astronauts left their poop on the moon. NASA ought to go back for that shit. … Is there life on the Moon feft behind in astronaut’s excrement that was jettisoned from Moon Landers? … ‘After Neil Armstrong descended from the Eagle lander, becoming the first human to set foot on the moon, the very first picture he took on the surface shows, yes, the moon’s cratered surface, but also a white jettisoned trash bag (or jett bag). I can’t confirm there are feces in this particular bag (Buzz Aldrin declined to comment for this story), but there’s definitely one like it on the moon that contained or still contains human waste, according to the NASA History Office.’
8 April 2019
[potatos] Mickey Rooney’s Potato Fantasy … ‘Potatos Every Way Mickey Likes ‘Em!’
9 April 2019
[life] Mickey Rooney’s Wacko Businesses from Mickey’s Weenie World to Mickey’s Tip-offs Disposable … It turns out that Mickey Rooney had many wacky businesses! ‘To Mr. Rooney, every phrase suggests a book title, every person a character for a show, every mouthful a fast-food empire. ”He’s so creative it verges on insanity,” said his dresser Tony Buonauro. Mr. Rooney had written six unpublished novels and and had “Eight or 10 filmscripts ready for production. Scripts for all genres: a horror film for Bette Davis, a thriller for Glen Ford, and television pilots that range from ”Roughshod,” a Western, to ”The Discoverers,” which Mr. Rooney describes as ”the episodic adventures of Balboa, Cortez and Ponce De Leon.” One favorite was ”The Picture Nobody Should See.” ”It’s about Charlie and Hazel Crow,” says Mr. Rooney, ”a milkman and his wife who set out to make a porno film. That’s the picture nobody should see.” He claps his hands. ”It’s a picture within a picture!”’ [thanks @ModernDayNTK]
10 April 2019
[brexit] EU Files Adoption Papers For Scotland, Northern Ireland … ‘Whereas Wales and England, the older siblings of Scotland And Northern Ireland, both voted to leave the EU and are perfectly happy to do so, the EU is making moves to rescue the ‘poor weans’ in the UK who voted to remain…’
11 April 2019
[people] Ghosting … seems like a good time to repost this – long read from Andrew O’Hagan on what it’s like ghostwriting for Julian Assange. ‘I am sure this is what happens in many of his scrapes: he runs on a high-octane belief in his own rectitude and wisdom, only to find later that other people had their own views – of what is sound journalism or agreeable sex – and the idea that he might be complicit in his own mess baffles him. Fact is, he was not in control of himself and most of what his former colleagues said about him just might be true. He is thin-skinned, conspiratorial, untruthful, narcissistic, and he thinks he owns the material he conduits. It may turn out that Julian is not Daniel Ellsberg or John Wilkes, but Charles Foster Kane, abusive and monstrous in his pursuit of the truth that interests him, and a man who, it turns out, was motivated all the while not by high principles but by a deep sentimental wound. Perhaps we won’t know until the final frames of the movie.’
12 April 2019
[web] The People Who Hated the Web Even Before Facebook … Interesting look at early skeptical views of the Web in the 1990s. ‘Ellen Ullman, who has continued to critique the tech world from the inside, might have made the most perfect critique of how the human desire for convenience would rule how technology was seen. “The computer is about to enter our lives like blood in the capillaries,” she wrote. “Soon, everywhere we look, we will see pretty, idiot-proof interfaces designed to make us say, ‘OK.’” The on-demand economy would rule. “We don’t need to involve anyone else in the satisfaction of our needs,” she wrote.’
15 April 2019
[brexit] TV fans delighted as Brexit renewed for another season … ‘Television critics have never been keen on Brexit and many cite it as the only show which managed to jump the shark before it even began. “Good writing in any genre is founded on truth,” said critic Victoria Dean. “There was just so much unbelievable guff in Brexit’s trailer that it was obviously going to be a shit show. “I mean, all that stuff written on the bus! The ‘breaking point’ poster. The cartoon villains with no shred of humanity.”’
16 April 2019
[comics] Lenny Henry’s guide to Graphic Novels and Comics … ‘Halo Jones – Alan Moore. Designed to be the antithesis of the super-tough women of superhero comics, Halo Jones was a driven everywoman character who lives in the 51st Century. Moore wanted specifically to add a female character to 2000AD comic. The first story arc centred entirely around Halo and her friend going shopping. However, when you live in a crime-riddled floating city, where regular, potentially fatal riots take place, such a simple task requires military planning and precision…’
17 April 2019
[games] iOS Games Worth Playing … fun list of iPhone / iPad games to download and play.
18 April 2019
[life] Paris Vows To Rebuild Notre Dame Despite Cosmic Absurdity Of Seeking Inherent Meaning In Fleeting Creations Of Man … ‘“We will come together as a nation to reconstruct Notre Dame, no matter the fundamental irrationality of imbuing mere man-made structures of stone and wood with any sort of deeper meaning in an existence where entropy is the only universal truth,” said French president Emmanuel Macron in a press conference, adding that the government had already received more than $700 million in pledged funding for a restoration project that will “serve as but a momentary impediment to the corrosive sands of time.”’
21 April 2019
[herzog] Tom Gauld on Werner Herzog’s Easter egg hunt …
23 April 2019
[conspiracy] Why conspiracy theories are getting more absurd … ‘It’s incredibly empowering to believe you have the true picture of reality and that everyone else is delusional. And if you look at conspiracists today, even the wackiest, like those writing about QAnon, they see themselves as the cognoscenti. They understand how the world really works, and they understand that the rest of us are brainwashed.’
24 April 2019
[comics] ‘What Gets Us Through is Just Getting Through’: Tom King Looks Back on Mister Miracle … ‘When I read the Fourth World stuff, to me it reads like an incredibly personal work. It reads to me as a guy who’d been through war and come back from it; it reads to me as a guy who’d achieved his greatest dream in life, which was to become this sort of comic creator for his family and then lost it, and was trying to recover it when he moved from Marvel to DC. It’s known that he originally developed the Fourth World for Marvel as this kind of Asgardian world, then he brought it over to DC when he felt disrespected how Marvel treated him. To me, when I read it, I see all of that mixed up – all that anger at Stan Lee, Marvel, all of that combined with a guy who grew up in the Jewish ghettos of the Lower East Side and had to scrap for everything he ever had, and fought his way through World War II – to me, it reads as an entirely personal work’
25 April 2019
26 April 2019
29 April 2019
[comics] Why are comics shops closing as superheroes make a mint? … ‘While superheroes have never had a higher profile, the gap between cinema and comics has never been wider. The days when you could pick the latest issue of Spider-Man or Batman from the newsagent’s shelves are long gone. Last week, comic writer Ron Marz tweeted that, during a presentation to a school class, one girl raised her hand and asked him where she could actually buy comics…’
30 April 2019
[tech] Death by PowerPoint: the slide that killed seven people … How Microsoft PowerPoint contributed to the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. ‘Typing text on a screen and reading it out loud does not count as teaching. An audience reading text off the screen does not count as learning. Imagine if the engineers had put up a slide with just: “foam strike more than 600 times bigger than test data.” Maybe NASA would have listened. Maybe they wouldn’t have attempted re-entry. ‘
1 May 2019
[canals] Does Birmingham Have More Canals Than Venice? … Jez Higgins compares the two cities. ‘In fact, the difference between the two is rather less than you might think – Birmingham has around 58km of canal, while Venice has 42km. Given a population about around a million against Venice’s 62,000, that actually means that Birmingham is vastly under-canaled. It has a trifling 5⅘cm of canal per head of population against Venice’s magisterial 67¾cm. For Birmingham to reach Venice-equality we would need to build another 620km of canal.’
2 May 2019
[newsletter] BLAST! … I’ve really been enjoying Mo Morgan’s new newsletter – a nicely designed and well focused collection of links and thoughts. Recommended.
3 May 2019
[comics] Grown Man Who Owns Bane Action Figure Has Love To Give … ‘Saying that he is here, that he is caring, and that he is available, local man Philip Gorney, who owns a 6-inch Mattel action figure of the comic book villain Bane, confirmed Thursday that he has love to give. “I could make somebody happy, I am loving, and I deserve to be happy, too,” said the 31-year-old man who has drawn several full-color illustrations of the superhero Swamp Thing…’
7 May 2019
[alien] Alien 40th Anniversary Short Films … Six official short films celebrating Alien’s 40th anniversary.
8 May 2019
[work] Moderately Motivated Gen-Xer for Hire … ‘Candidate understands that individual contributions often have limited value in the wider context, and is content to follow orders with no grasp of said orders’ ultimate purpose or importance. Gratification on a severely delayed timetable is perfectly acceptable. Candidate is accustomed to a reporting structure that includes multiple redundant levels of management.’
9 May 2019
[life] Mariko Aoki phenomenon … Do you have a urge to defecate after entering a bookshop? You are not alone! ‘Persons with a history of experiencing the Mariko Aoki phenomenon were described as having a “book bowel” tendency (Japanese: 書便派 sho’ben-ha) in Vol. 41 of Book Magazine.’
10 May 2019
[comics] No, I’m not counting that appearance in Super Friends … Mike Sterling looks back at the shock of the JLA’s appearance in Swamp Thing #24. ‘Alan Moore had already been reexamining (or “deconstructing,” if you will) the superhero genre over in England with his reintroduction of original Captain Marvel 1950s knock-off Marvelman. What was once bright and cheery with that character is now menacing and mired in modern day government conspiracies and violence. But the JLA’s appearance in Swamp Thing set the tone for nearly all future appearances of superheroes in this series. They’re never just “as-is,” it’s always in the context of “what’s wrong with this,” or “here’s what’s really odd about them,” or “did you ever realize this?” They’re all recontextualized in the comic’s tone, designed to make you see them differently, to reconsider them, to be kept off-balance by them.’
13 May 2019
[life] John Horton Conway: the world’s most charismatic mathematician … enjoyable profile of John Horton Conway – the creator of the cellular automaton called Game of Life.
Conway made what he called “The Vow”, promising himself: “Thou shalt stop worrying and feeling guilty; thou shalt do whatever thou pleasest.” He no longer worried that he was eroding his mathematical soul when he indulged his curiosity and followed wherever it went, whether towards recreation or research, or somewhere altogether nonmathematical, such as his longing to learn the etymology of words. Conway’s fate now was to do all the stuff that he had formerly feared his fellow mathematicians might floccinaucinihilipilificate. “Floccinaucinihilipilification” is his favourite word. He reckons it’s the longest word in the Oxford English Dictionary (it is certainly in the top three), and without prompting he gives an account of its etymology: it is a Latin-based word, invented circa 1730 at Eton as a schoolboy’s joke. And, Conway recites nearly verbatim the OED’s definition: “the action or habit of estimating as worthless.”
14 May 2019
[comics] Katsuhiro Otomo’s Sleeping Beauty … the creator of Akira’s version of the fairy tale.
15 May 2019
[books] A supposedly great article I’ll never read the same way again … A look at inaccuracies in the journalism of David Foster Wallace. ‘One accusation was made in 2011 by Wallace’s good friend Jonathan Franzen, who offhandedly accused Wallace of making up dialogue in his famous “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again” piece. “Those things didn’t actually happen,” he told New Yorker editor David Remnick. “You notice he never published any nonfiction in your magazine.” Franzen seemed salty about it at the time, leading plenty of people to accuse him of levying a cheap shot, but probably not as salty as he should’ve been, knowing how famous his (admittedly dead) friend had gotten as a dogged truthteller by sort of making some of it up.’
16 May 2019
[truecrime] The real story behind Harper Lee’s lost true crime book … An interesting look at one of Harper Lee’s unfinished books. ‘“He might not have believed in what he preached, he might not have believed in voodoo,” she once wrote, “but he had a profound and abiding belief in insurance.” In the course of her reporting, she turned up dozens upon dozens of insurance policies, all taken out by Maxwell, seemingly without the knowledge of the insured, with his home address as the correspondence address and naming himself as the beneficiary. The more she learned about the earlier deaths, the more convinced she became that at least five of them were murders, even though he had never been convicted of any of them.’
17 May 2019
[comics] 5 Modern Day Treasures That Got Saved In The Craziest Ways … Amongst other things this article looks at how Moore and Sienkiewicz’s unpublished Big Numbers #3 found it’s way to the Internet. ‘Padraig O Mealoid saw an item on eBay that claimed to include not just Big Numbers #1 and #2, but also a “rare unpublished xerox” of #3 for the low, low price of $49.99. As it turned out, a friend of the seller had worked with Moore on the series, and had been smart enough to hang onto his preview copy of the third chapter. And since there was no legal way for anyone to own a copy anymore, they did the ’90s equivalent of putting it on a torrenting site — they xeroxed a bunch of copies and passed them out to diehard fans, one of whom eventually put his copy up on eBay.’
20 May 2019
[newsletter] Recs … Another newsletter I’ve been enjoying – lots of media recommendations from Rex Sorgatz. ‘…Media, tv, podcasts, film, games, apps, music, books, tech, art, and design; also, a super dumb pun on my name’
21 May 2019
[truecrime] Who killed the prime minister? The unsolved murder that still haunts Sweden … Fascinating long-read about the murder of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme in 1986 and the botched investigation and conspiracy theories that followed. ‘By the start of the 1990s, so much time and money had been spent fruitlessly pursuing Pettersson and the PKK that basic questions about the night of the murder remained unanswered. Where was the murder weapon, which was believed to be a Smith & Wesson .357 magnum revolver? Why were witness reports of men with walkie talkies near the site of the killing not taken seriously? Was the police incompetence too extreme to be accidental?’
22 May 2019
[people] It’s Still Roy Cohn’s World, And You’re Living in It … A great comic profile from Levi Hastings and Josh Trujillo.
23 May 2019
[movies] Burning desire: John Wick and the undying appeal of the revenge thriller … ‘Though John Wick primarily attracts audiences for its simplicity of gun-fu action ecstasy, the film-makers clearly have more universal existential ideas on their mind. Sure, John Wick as played by Keanu Reeves is an ex-assassin left broken by his wife’s death and only capable of exorcising his pain through mass murder and vengeance. But he’s also an individual trapped in the system that created him, desperate to live freely and “retired” on his own terms, without the need to kill again.’
24 May 2019
[internet] Why People Fake Cancer Online … A look at why people fake illness on the Internet. ‘This condition of faking illness online has a name: “Munchausen by internet,” or MBI. It’s a form of factitious disorder, the mental disorder formerly known as Munchausen syndrome, in which people feign illness or actually make themselves sick for sympathy and attention. According to Marc Feldman, the psychiatrist at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa who coined the term MBI back in 2000, people with the condition are often motivated to lie by a need to control the reactions of others, particularly if they feel out of control in their own lives. He believes that the veil of the internet makes MBI much more common among Americans than the 1 percent in hospitals who are estimated to have factitious disorder.’
28 May 2019
[last] Experience: I manage the last Blockbuster in the world… A poignent check-in with the last Blockbuster video rental store in the world. ‘The final store closures happened so fast. At the end of 2017, there were seven Blockbusters left in the US, but by early 2019 it was just us and one other store in Perth, Australia, in the world. When they closed in March it was bittersweet. We were happy to be the last store, but sad that we were one step closer to Blockbuster ceasing to exist. They called us from Australia on their last night and wished us all the best. That was very sweet. Since then, things have been crazy. The local community has been incredibly supportive, and people have come from all over the world to rent movies: we’ve set up close to 5,000 new memberships…’
29 May 2019
[comics] Universe B – The Unpublished Grant Morrison … a comprehensive list of Grant Morrison’s unstarted and unfinished projects. ‘SICK BUILDINGS (1989) – A forthcoming graphic novel mentioned in the author bio in Arkham Asylum, Sick Buldings was a Situationist prank, a story that not only was never published but never existed, and was never intended to exist, in the first place.’
30 May 2019
[tech] What I Learned Trying To Secure Congressional Campaigns … Maciej Cegłowski looks at how to improve tech security on high-risk political campaigns. ‘We told people to use Signal, iPhones/iPads, Google docs, and to buy the blue Yubikey. If any of that posed a problem, we found other products to recommend. The goal was not to score those sweet affilliate sales, but to remove decision points and cognitive overhead by standardizing on a known good set of products.’
31 May 2019
[pizza] I Staked Out My Local Domino’s to See Just How Accurate Its Pizza Tracker Is … Some quality journalism on an important issue. ‘7:08 p.m. — “PERFECTION CHECK COMPLETE” No, there’s no perfection check. You just put it in the oven ONE MINUTE AGO!!! 7:12 p.m. — The Domino’s Employees Grow Suspicious of Me…’
3 June 2019
[books] James Ellroy says film adaptation of LA Confidential was ‘as deep as a tortilla’ … “Whether you like it or not, I live in the past,” he said. As far as he was concerned, history ended – as did his 2009 book Blood’s a Rover – in May 1972. He was only interested in what came before. “That is the period of my emotional and intellectual curiosity. Nothing after May of 72 vibrates my vindaloo.” He said he had always been the same. “In 1956, when I was eight years old, I alerted my mother to the fact that I believed that world war two was still going on.” It ended before he was born, she replied. “I didn’t believe her then, I don’t believe her now.”
4 June 2019
[tech] Science less than a decade away from fully operational printer … ‘Professor Henry Brubaker, of the Institute for Studies, said: “If printer design continues to advance at the current rate, it’s likely we’ll see a machine that isn’t fundamentally incompatible with plain white A4 paper by the year 2029. “Then we’re just a few years away from something that isn’t a shit-sucking bastard fucker with the sheer brass balls to describe itself as a printer.”’
5 June 2019
[books] Since so many of you asked, I’m the guy who’s spent the last 6 years reading NOTHING but science fiction. Here’s my top 15 list … ‘The Forever War (Joe Haldeman) – I believe this was the first military sci-fi book I read. I didn’t know much about military sci-fi and was doubtful that I would like it, especially since it sounded like a parallel of the Vietnam War. Again, dead wrong. This book has a lot to say, and it says it extremely eloquently. Humanity is in an interstellar war against the Taurens, and the soldiers who visit home (because of time dilation) visit after huge periods of time, so it’s a good take on where humanity will be in 500, 1000, and 10000 years from now. Again, this one was hard to put down.’
6 June 2019
[tv] Toast star Matt Berry: ‘Nobody wants to hear about my psychic wound’ … Profiling Matt Berry and his new TV show Year of the Rabbit. ‘One lovely moment has Rabbit explaining his beat. “This city is a rat eating its own babies, babies made of shit, and once it eats its own shit babies, it shits them out again, and then it noshes them, and that goes on and on until the sun turns cold and the sea goes back into the sky.” Which is of course exactly the sort of briefing Met boss Cressida Dick wishes she could make. Year of the Rabbit could be the unexpected comedy delight of 2019. Equally welcome news is the fact that Berry is planning a fourth series of Toast of London…’
7 June 2019
[comics] Gaiman & Buckingham Have Worked On New Miracleman Stories … Neil Gaiman updates on progress with publishing the final books of his Miracleman stories. ‘CBR spoke with Gaiman as part of the writer’s press tour for his new Amazon TV series Good Omens, and when asked about the status of the groundbreaking superhero series he and Buckingham inherited from Alan Moore nearly 20 years ago, Gaiman cautiously explained that all hurdles seem to be clear. In fact, the pair have in fact begun creating new Miracleman stories.’
11 June 2019
[crime] The bizarre world of the true crime YouTube influencers … ‘It’s hard to explain the current trend towards lifestyle/true crime crossovers without acknowledging a disconcerting fact; that what seems at surface level to be a wild mismatch, has a perfectly sound internal logic lurking under the surface. Both rely on the marketing of a product in a wildly oversaturated marketplace. The required skills are readily interchangeable: a ‘relatable’ manner, the ability to spin a compelling yarn and an on-the-nose sincerity. And, most importantly, the savviness to seize an opportunity. And while the traditional avenues of online lifestyle revenue begin to shift and change, crime remains conventionally big traffic business. ‘
12 June 2019
13 June 2019
[truecrime] The Queasy Verdict of ‘The Staircase’ … A spoiler filled analysis of the true-crime series The Staircase. ‘The series is clear about how much of a problem the eccentric, bisexual, erudite Peterson is for the jurors. The Staircase isn’t interested in theorizing who actually killed Kathleen (and includes only one offhand reference to the actually quite credible theory that an owl did) because its focus isn’t solving a mystery. It’s illuminating how flawed and naïve the concept of blind justice is. The jurors in Peterson’s case can no more put away their own preconceptions than they can realistically isolate themselves from TV news and the firestorm surrounding the case.’
14 June 2019
[tech] What It’s Like to Work on a 30-Year-Old Macintosh … Ian Bogost on the joy of using old Tech. ‘On my modern MacBook Pro, a million things are happening at once. Mail retrieves email, sounding regular dings as it arrives. Dispatches fire off, too, in Messages, in Skype, in Slack. Attention-seeking ads flash in the background of web pages, while nagging reminders of Microsoft Office updates bounce in the dock. News notifications spurt out from the screen’s edge, along with every other manner of notices about what’s happening on and off the machine. Computing is a Times Square of urge and stimulus. By contrast, the Macintosh SE just can’t do much. It boots to a simple file manager, where I face but a few windows and menu options. I can manage files, configure the interface, or run programs. It feels quiet here, despite the whirring noise.’
17 June 2019
[lost] What Lost Treasure Would You Most Like to Find? … ‘The original high-resolution recordings of the Apollo 11 moonwalk. The footage of Neil Armstrong stepping onto the lunar surface is effectively a kinescope recording—made via a camera pointed at a video screen. NASA’s tapes of the original transmissions were likely erased and reused in the 1980s. Only a few people in July 1969 have ever seen the historic moonwalk in its full resolution.’
18 June 2019
19 June 2019
[twitter] Cold War Steve: satire is my antidote to a scary world… Profile of the Twitter artist and satirist. ‘Over the years, depression and alcoholism took a hold, and in 2016 he had a “complete breakdown” and attempted suicide. After a period in hospital, he began to make collages on his phone and sharing them on Twitter. “It was a coping mechanism. If I was creating things, I could focus my mind on that rather than crashing anxiety attacks.” Cold War Steve – a series of images of Phil Mitchell/Steve McFadden superimposed into cold war scenes – “definitely helped my recovery”. He has not touched alcohol for more than three years.’
20 June 2019
[aircrash] Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Where Is It? … William Langewiesche on the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. ‘By the time the airplane dropped from the view of secondary—transponder-enhanced—radar, it is likely, given the implausibility of two pilots acting in concert, that one of them was incapacitated or dead, or had been locked out of the cockpit. Primary-radar records—both military and civilian—later indicated that whoever was flying MH370 must have switched off the autopilot, because the turn the airplane then made to the southwest was so tight that it had to have been flown by hand. Circumstances suggest that whoever was at the controls deliberately depressurized the airplane. At about the same time, much if not all of the electrical system was deliberately shut down. The reasons for that shutdown are not known. But one of its effects was to temporarily sever the satellite link.’
21 June 2019
[distractions] How to reduce digital distractions: advice from medieval monks … ‘Sometimes they accused demons of making their minds wander. Sometimes they blamed the body’s base instincts. But the mind was the root problem: it is an inherently jumpy thing. John Cassian, whose thoughts about thinking influenced centuries of monks, knew this problem all too well. He complained that the mind ‘seems driven by random incursions’. It ‘wanders around like it were drunk’. It would think about something else while it prayed and sang. It would meander into its future plans or past regrets in the middle of its reading. It couldn’t even stay focused on its own entertainment – let alone the difficult ideas that called for serious concentration. That was in the late 420s…’