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2 December 2019
[life]Try Beautiful News … Need a lift? Try this site.

3 December 2019
[history] Why 536 was ‘the worst year to be alive’‘A mysterious fog plunged Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia into darkness, day and night—for 18 months. “For the sun gave forth its light without brightness, like the moon, during the whole year,” wrote Byzantine historian Procopius. Temperatures in the summer of 536 fell 1.5°C to 2.5°C, initiating the coldest decade in the past 2300 years. Snow fell that summer in China; crops failed; people starved. The Irish chronicles record “a failure of bread from the years 536–539.” Then, in 541, bubonic plague struck the Roman port of Pelusium, in Egypt. What came to be called the Plague of Justinian spread rapidly, wiping out one-third to one-half of the population of the eastern Roman Empire and hastening its collapse, McCormick says.’
4 December 2019
[time] The 2010s Have Broken Our Sense Of Time … How mobiles phones and social media changed our perception of time. ‘Using a phone is tied up with the relentless, perpendicular feeling of living through the Trump presidency: the algorithms that are never quite with you in the moment, the imperishable supply of new Instagram stories, the scrolling through what you said six hours ago, the four new texts, the absence of texts, that text from three days ago that has warmed up your entire life, the four versions of the same news alert. You can find yourself wondering why you’re seeing this now — or knowing too well why it is so.’
5 December 2019
[comics] Best comics and graphic novels of 2019 … With mentions of Ware, Moore & O’Neill and Seth among others. ‘At the heart of the epically inventive Rusty Brown (Jonathan Cape) is a single day at a Nebraska school in the mid-1970s, from which Ware spins the life stories of a shy nerd, his frustrated father, the privileged class jerk and a thoughtful, banjo-playing teacher. A doll is lost, a space mission charted, a car crashed and cupcakes baked, while snow tumbles, pages turn red with trauma and panels shrink to postage-stamp proportions – this is beauty you have to squint at.’
6 December 2019
[politics] Uncovered: reality of how smartphones turned election news into chaos … Interesting attempt to study how Social Media influences election news. ‘Several participants were observed sharing articles on Facebook without clicking the links, and excitedly diving into comment sections for an argument before looking at the articles. Most showed a tendency to read news that confirmed their existing views. Some behaviours were more surprising, hinting we may be becoming a nation of trolls. One 22-year-old Conservative-voting woman was observed going out of her way to read reputable mainstream news sources so she had a balanced understanding of Labour policies. But she would then seek out provocative far-right blog posts to share on Facebook because their headlines would anger her leftwing friends and create online drama.’
9 December 2019
[xmas] Mince pies tasted by baker Alice Fevronia: ‘It screams Christmas’ … Mince Pie Reviews … ‘Very quickly our dynamic reveals itself. Alice loves minces pies – “They’re a pretty integral part of my Christmas,” she admits – whereas I tend to see them as dry and boring and far too much work. She nibbles carefully at the pies, savouring each morsel; my technique is basically to stuff the whole thing in my mouth and then feel sick.’
10 December 2019
[politics] Politics in the time of Web 1.0 … Looking back at early British political party websites from the mid-nineties. ‘Piss taking aside, there’s something endearing about these sites. Most of them look like they were done on Microsoft Word, but they remind us of when the internet was viewed primarily as an information resource and not a weapon.’

11 December 2019
[tv] ‘The baddies are going to win again’: a brutally honest guide to election night TV … Stuart Heritage on Election Night TV. ‘1am: Despair – Results are coming in thick and fast, and it’s starting to look as if the exit polls were right after all. This is going to be a drubbing. The baddies are going to win again, and there’s nothing you can do about it.’
12 December 2019
[books] How William Gibson Keeps His Science Fiction Real … William Gibson profile. ‘Futurists he knew had begun talking about “the Singularity”—the moment when humanity is transformed completely by technology. Gibson didn’t buy it; he aimed to represent a “half-assed Singularity”—a world transforming dramatically but haphazardly. “It doesn’t feel to me that it’s in our nature to do anything perfectly,” he said’
13 December 2019
[life] Simply 17 ‘shower thoughts’ that will make you stop and think, if only for a moment‘There is no physical evidence to say that today is Wednesday, we all just have to trust that someone has kept count since the first one ever.’
16 December 2019
[xmas] Christmas Links 2019 … Stuart over at Feeling Listless is collecting seasonal links as he did in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
17 December 2019
[tv] A brief history of the BBC Christmas Tapes … A history of the amusing, unofficial videotapes created by backroom staff at British TV stations and distributed to colleagues at Christmas. ‘The sketches and songs performed by the VT staff themselves are another matter, however. Aside from the industry-standard naked women which pop up every five minutes (always a puzzle – presumably VT engineers had perfectly good wives at home, not to mention access to proper pornography?), the homegrown humour usually amounts to little more than a frustrated engineer singing about obscure editing procedures to the tune of Da Do Ron Ron. Sometimes they try hard, and it looks amiable enough (one bloke at Central did a sub-Neil Innes effort called ‘I’m Just A VTR Dropout’ which was really smashing), while others mine new depths in desperation – on one occasion, Legs & Co being asked to lip-sync an effort called Nice Legs Shame About The Chromophase, for fuck’s sake.’

18 December 2019
[movies] My Painful Quest to Find the Worst Christmas Movie Ever Made … A Gonzoesque search of terrible Christmas movies. ‘I figured this attitude would inform the rest of the movie: It would examine the materialism that’s taken over Christmas, and tell the viewer they should instead focus on doing good in the world, as God would want. But no. The rest of the movie is actually a series of monologues in which Cameron justifies the excesses of the festive season by explaining to the brother-in-law that every single aspect of Christmas is super godly, actually. This includes a theory that Christmas trees have a biblical basis because there were trees in the Garden of Eden, and the cross Jesus was crucified on was also made from a tree.’ (on viewing Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas)
19 December 2019
[marvel] A Very Marvel Christmas… Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 … Pictures from Marvel’s 1979 Office Christmas Party. ‘To the left is Larry Hama, who at that point in time – and taking over Crazy Magazine — was still new to the offices. We were getting used to this scary, extra handsome long-haired man-with-no-eyes look and he was getting used to us. Lynne can be seen in the background, apparently getting proposed to by Larry from the mailroom. The three coma victims on the couch are Ralph Macchio, Mark Gruenwald and Creator Writer Steven Grant.’
20 December 2019
[tweets] 100 Of The Funniest British Tweets Of The Decade … Amusing collection of tweets.

Piss in the Frog's Mouth Like A Men!

23 December 2019
[mindblown] Reddit’s Best Mindblowing Facts of All Time‘There are more permutations of a standard deck of 52 cards than there are seconds since the Big Bang.’
24 December 2019
[memes] 100 Best Memes Of The Decade … Another roundup of the decade list. ‘ “This Is Fine” Dog: The meme has been used a lot to describe various political situations: The official @GOP Twitter used it once, and a senator even described the comic during a Senate Intelligence Committee while describing how Russian election interference was not fine. But the staying power of the dog is about how we all grin and bear it through everything that’s happened over this decade that feels like the house is on fire — the climate crisis, elections, the disappointing last season of Game of Thrones. There is nothing that captures the 2010s more than “this is fine” dog.’
25 December 2019
[tv] Good King Memorex … Happy Christmas… here’s another BBC Christmas Tape from 1979.

31 December 2019
[til] 52 things I learned in 2019 … Fifty-two TIL from Tom Whitwell. ‘Polling by phone has become very expensive, as the number of Americans willing to respond to unexpected or unknown callers has dropped. In the mid-to-late-20th century response rates were as high as 70%… [falling to] a mere 6% of the people it tried to survey in 2018.’