March 1, 2022
March 2, 2022
[comics] “True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee” Author Interview by Tegan O’Neil … Abraham Riesman discusses his new biography of Stan Lee.
You can try to glean life lessons from Stan’s arc, but I feel like they’re all relatively obvious: thou shalt not lie, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not covet, and so on. The harder thing to process is the twofold ambiguity of his life.
There’s the factual ambiguity of who created the Marvel pantheon, which is a dilemma that will probably never be resolved. And then there’s the moral ambiguity of asking whether he was a “good” man or not, which is a similarly unanswerable question, albeit for different reasons. The human mind wants to reject ambiguity; we want to say some things are incontrovertible facts and that the people we like or hate are objectively good or bad. But the reality of existence is uncertainty: constant, chaotic, and infuriating. You can either lie to yourself for certainty—and, to be sure, we all have to do that for certain aspects of life—or you can be honest and confront the answerlessness of the world.
March 4, 2022
[watergate] How G. Gordon Liddy Bungled Watergate With an Office-Supply Request … An enjoyable profile of G. Gordon Liddy’s involvement in Watergate. ‘Liddy’s antics worried some in the White House, but rather than shut him down or block his wildest schemes, he was instead foisted on the president’s reelection campaign as 1971 ended, to head up intelligence gathering efforts. There wasn’t a great deal of mystery to Liddy’s new secret mission on the campaign. A few days after he started on the reelection effort, Liddy stopped back at the White House to complain to White House counsel John Dean: The deputy campaign director, Jeb Stuart Magruder, was going around introducing Liddy as the “our man in charge of dirty tricks.” As Liddy said, “Magruder’s an asshole, John, and he’s going to blow my cover.” As Dean later recalled, he, annoyed, called Magruder: If you’ve hired someone to carry out your dirty tricks, it’s best if you don’t advertise that fact.’
March 7, 2022
[life] A must-read book? Go on, make me … Why is it when a friend or review recommends something as must read or must watch we often get annoyed and reject the advice. ‘When it comes to, say, TV shows about competitive baking, I resist the pull of the crowd because I’m confident I’m not missing much. In the case of Hamilton or Boyhood, I’m sure my perversity is costing me real enjoyment. So what’s going on? One explanation is what psychologists call “optimal distinctiveness theory” – the way we’re constantly jockeying to feel exactly the right degree of similarity to and difference from those around us. Nobody wants to be exiled from the in-group to the fringes of society; but nobody wants to be swallowed up by it, either. In toddlerhood and teenagerhood, this manifests as a bloody-minded refusal to do what we’re told, precisely to show we can disobey our parents. Perhaps it never entirely goes away.’
March 8, 2022
[weird] This Mysterious Computer Could Prove Time Travel Exists … The Dodleston Messages – a crazy story from the 1980s about a haunted, time-travelling BBC Micro!
March 9, 2022
[tv] Charlie Brooker: ‘Mr Dystopia? That makes me sound like a wrestler’ … A catch up with Charlie Brooker.
Before he was Mr Interactive, Charlie Brooker was Mr Dystopia, creating disturbing, prescient vistas of the very near future. What if the prime minister had to have sex with a pig, live on air? What if anxious modern parenting turned into 24-hour hyper-surveillance? Even Nathan Barley, his 2005 comedy co-written with Chris Morris, came eerily to pass. That eponymous, portfolio-careered hipster could have been written yesterday. “That makes me sound like a wrestler,” Brooker says, not without satisfaction. “A really mean, horrible wrestler. Here he comes, in the blue corner: Mr Dystopia.”
It’s not so much that he predicted things, and then they happened, he says. Rather, Black Mirror plots were “extrapolations of whatever was already happening”. The pig plot was inspired by Gordon Brown’s Gillian Duffy moment, when he called a Labour voter a bigoted woman and “had to go and apologise, and it became this bizarre circus of calamity. I was just watching it thinking, ‘No one’s in charge here.’”
March 10, 2022
[comics] The Lawsuit that Reshaped Sonic the Hedgehog Comics … I’ve always known that Archie’s Sonic the Hedgehog comics were long-running and complex, but I’ve never heard about the legal case that led to a complete reset of the series. ‘Things started looking grim in late 2012, when Archie suddenly fired its entire legal team. The company had been unable to produce Penders’ work-for-hire contract, which would have given control of his creations to Sega. Penders claimed the contract had never existed. A heavily circulated Tumblr post outlining the case (which has been corroborated as a reliable source by Penders) explains that while Archie did provide a photocopy of a contract allegedly signed by Penders in 1996, Penders claimed that the document was a forgery. That it was neither an original copy nor a contract from the beginning of the writer’s tenure at Archie meant that its validity was questionable. Making things worse, Archie couldn’t produce an original copy of any previous contributor’s contract, meaning that any writer or artist who had worked on the Archie Sonic line could potentially follow in Penders’s footsteps and reclaim their work.’
March 14, 2022
[life] UK Lottery Simulator – Playing The Lottery 1,000 Times Per Second … An animation on Reddit showing how little chance you have of winning the UK lottery.
March 15, 2022
March 16, 2022
[tv] How tainted is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 25 years on? … ‘And then there were the show’s gender politics: for while it foregrounded many empowered women, it also featured a problematic male lead in the shape of Xander. There were other examples of toxic and fragile masculinity on the show, like the reprisal of teenage boy villains into The Trio in series six, but the difference was that Xander was positioned as a nice guy – and rewatching the series now, that’s something which leaves a particularly bad taste. A pretty girl couldn’t walk by without Xander oggling or pestering them, and it mostly goes unquestioned, especially where Buffy is concerned. His entitled attitude towards her and animosity towards every guy she dates is nauseating to watch.’
March 18, 2022
[tech] His software sang the words of God. Then it went silent. … A really sad, powerful story about how software can die with it’s creator, teaching Torah, loss and about a million other things. ‘I first heard it played to me over the phone from a copy that hadn’t yet ceased to function. It was a voice unlike any I’d ever heard: not human but made by humans, generated by a piece of computer code dating to the 1980s, singing words of a text from the Bronze Age in a cadence handed down, from one singer to another, over thousands of years. TropeTrainer was software that had been taught to sing the words of God. Then it went silent…’
March 21, 2022
[comics] Zorro in Arkham: Reflecting on a Legendary Batman Saga With Writer Grant Morrison, Part 1 … ‘Dan asked me to write Batman…. He likely saw more potential in Damian than I did, and he was right. I’d figured out that Batman as a concept was impervious to pretty much any assault. Camp Batman worked, serious Batman worked, Lego Batman worked. Dad Batman? That would work too. There had been a few ‘son of’ stories over the decades, some written by Alfred the butler as literary amuse bouches, imaginary tales of the next generation. I had the title Batman & Son in my head, like a family business, like Steptoe & Son or, for US readers, Sanford & Son. I gambled that having a deadly aristocratic ninja brat for a kid would only make Batman cooler and add some extra complexity to his mythos…’
March 22, 2022
[war] “Z” Is the Symbol of the New Russian Politics of Aggression … ‘Graphically, the “Z” is clearly closer to the swastika than to any prominent Soviet symbol, such as the five-pointed star, the hammer and sickle, or the red flag. Its use seems to require a double inversion: first, the people of Ukraine—a nation that suffered some of the greatest losses at the hands of Nazi Germany and one that is currently led by a Jewish President—are rendered as Nazis; then, the Russians, who claim to be fighting for peace and “de-Nazification,” adopt a visual symbol that appears to reference the swastika.’
March 23, 2022
[politics] Manufactured Culture War Outrage Calendar … created by @WebofEvil. ‘Easter Eggs, not Chocolate Eggs. But not Halal Easter Eggs.’
March 24, 2022
[lol] Why We Use “lol” So Much … A deep-dive into LOL. ‘We use lol as a way of downplaying a statement; adding irony, levity, humility, empathy, or commiseration; expressing amusement; or just neutral acknowledgment. No longer simply an internet acronym that’s entered the mainstream, lol is an example of how language evolves over time, adheres to new grammatical rules, and creates community around the people that use it.’
March 25, 2022
[life] 100 ways to slightly improve your life without really trying … I have a theory that you usually find one useful thing in these lists of ways to improve your life. ‘Don’t be weird about how to stack the dishwasher.’
March 29, 2022
[elon] Please Like Me … A small request from Elon Musk. ‘I’m sure it seems like I have it all. And maybe I do. Although I’d like to make one simple request: Please like me. Please, for the love of all that is holy, consider me clever and interesting. Honestly, I don’t get why anyone wouldn’t like me. I do cool stuff. I make cars. People like cars, don’t they? I make stonks go to the moon. Isn’t that cool? Isn’t making stonks go to the moon something people like? Seriously, c’mon. Appreciate me. I was on Rick And Morty. Wubba lubba dub dub, right? People love that show!’
March 30, 2022
[crime] Charles Graeber’s top 10 true crime books … ‘Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders, by Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry — You can’t deny the all-time bestseller of the genre, or the detail-driven dive into the world of Charles Manson and his addled cult known as “the family”, written by a prosecutor of the Tate-LaBianca murders with access to all the grim details, partnered with a solid historical writer in Gentry.’