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September 14, 2022
[queen] Inside British newsrooms on the day Queen Elizabeth II died: secret codes, chaos and black ties

‘Thirteen minutes after the note came the tweet. “Following further evaluation this morning, the Queen’s doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision,” wrote Buckingham Palace. “The Queen remains comfortable and at Balmoral.”

“When the statement dropped about her health it was obvious, and suddenly no MPs would talk,” the Whitehall correspondent says. Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs stopped responding to messages.

Across at what was once known as Fleet Street, time stopped.’

August 16, 2022
[games] Jason Brassard Spent His Lifetime Collecting the Rarest Video Games. Until the Heist … A true-crime story about the robbery of a pristine collection of video games and the emotional cost of losing it. ‘Generations of games had been lost to attics, yard sales, and garbage bins, and enthusiasts like Brassard had become sentimental about finding and possessing them. A culture, and then a market, had bloomed around such wistful longings. It’s fair to assume most humans have played a video game—the emotional capital of playing and loving a game 30 years ago is one of the reasons games that old have become desirable. In the summer of 2021, a sealed copy of the first print of Super Mario Bros. for the NES sold for $2 million at auction. A copy of The Legend of Zelda went for nearly $900,000. A pristine, never-opened copy of Super Mario 64 sold for $1.56 million.’
August 15, 2022
[cancelled] I’m a low-income pensioner and I’m terrified of university cancel culture this winter‘Yes, those with conservative views have got the Daily Telegraph, the Mail, Spectator and the Sun if people want to advocate sending Windrush migrants to Rwanda in leaky boats, but if they’re denied the platform of the University of East Anglia you’re literally cutting their tongues out. I don’t know what I’m going to do…’
June 20, 2022
[life] Why City Life Has Gotten Way More Expensive … A look at why things like Uber are starting to cost more. ‘It was as if Silicon Valley had made a secret pact to subsidize the lifestyles of urban Millennials. As I pointed out three years ago, if you woke up on a Casper mattress, worked out with a Peloton, Ubered to a WeWork, ordered on DoorDash for lunch, took a Lyft home, and ordered dinner through Postmates only to realize your partner had already started on a Blue Apron meal, your household had, in one day, interacted with eight unprofitable companies that collectively lost about $15 billion in one year.’
June 1, 2022
[life] Your Personality, Explained by Your Annoying Household Habits‘Soaking Dishes in the Sink – Your ability to make life more difficult is unmatchable. If an easy solution is available—and I mean a mind-numbingly obvious one—you decide that maybe the fix can’t be so simple and that you’d better let things marinate for a few days, at which point, yes, they’ve now become the nasty thing that you imagined, seeped in a rancid cesspool of indecision and procrastination (and, literally, rotting food).’
May 6, 2022
[life] 103 Bits of Advice I Wish I Had Known … Some advice from Kevin Kelly. ‘Dont believe everything you think you believe.’
April 15, 2022
[comics] We Apologize For Publishing Darkseid’s Anti-Life Equation … All is one in Darkseid! ‘Naturally, the staff and ownership of Hard Drive don’t encourage anyone to die for Darkseid; we encourage conversation. As the current and eternal ruler of the dread planet-fortress Apokalips, Darkseid is a public figure of note. While we pointedly disagree with cosmic genocide, we considered his perspective on the fabrege egg we call life newsworthy. Now it’s clear that no conversation can take place after cutting out your own tongue. We’ve removed Darkseid’s editorial, at great human cost. Our Opinion editor caught a glimpse of the equation as he deleted the page, snuffing the flame of his mortal soul and replacing it with loyalty to Darkseid.’
April 11, 2022
[life] Fries on the Pier … from False Knees.

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 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 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 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 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.’
February 9, 2022
[experts] Why Is It So Hard to Predict the Future? … A look at why experts find predicting the future correctly difficult. ‘The integrators outperformed their colleagues in pretty much every way, but especially trounced them on long-term predictions. Eventually, Tetlock bestowed nicknames (borrowed from the philosopher Isaiah Berlin) on the experts he’d observed: The highly specialized hedgehogs knew “one big thing,” while the integrator foxes knew “many little things.” Hedgehogs are deeply and tightly focused. Some have spent their career studying one problem. Like Ehrlich and Simon, they fashion tidy theories of how the world works based on observations through the single lens of their specialty. Foxes, meanwhile, “draw from an eclectic array of traditions, and accept ambiguity and contradiction,” Tetlock wrote. Where hedgehogs represent narrowness, foxes embody breadth.’
January 28, 2022
[tech] A Computer can never be held accountable… (An IBM Slide from 1977.)

A Computer can never be held accountable...

January 10, 2022
[web] Meet the man who accidentally started an assassin hiring website … Buying a internet domain name can have unexpected consequences. ‘Innes had received a message from a woman named Helen. She was stranded in Canada, had lost her passport, and wanted three family members in the UK murdered for screwing her out of her father’s inheritance. He didn’t respond. But she persisted: sending a second email, which included names, addresses and other corroborating information. Innes felt compelled to act…’
January 7, 2022
[drink] The Heaviest Drinker in the Animal Kingdom … Today I learned it is very hard to get hamsters drunk. ‘Alcohol goes straight from the gut to the liver, which starts breaking down the mind-altering toxin that is ethanol. Hamster livers are “so efficient” at processing ethanol that very little ends up in their blood, says Tom Lawton, a critical-care doctor in Bradford, England. But when the hamsters got injected with ethanol, the substance could bypass the liver and go into their bloodstream and then their brain—hence much wobbling and falling over. Hamsters’ alcohol tolerance is likely an adaptation to their hoarding lifestyle.’
November 24, 2021
[life] The Misconception About Baby Boomers and the Sixties‘The boomers get tied to the sixties because they are assumed to have created a culture of liberal permissiveness, and because they were utopians—political idealists, social activists, counterculturalists. In fact, it is almost impossible to name a single person born after 1945 who played any kind of role in the civil-rights movement, Students for a Democratic Society, the New Left, the antiwar movement, or the Black Panthers during the nineteen-sixties. Those movements were all started by older, usually much older, people. The baby boomers obviously played no substantive role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act or the Voting Rights Act, or in the decisions of the Warren Court, which are the most important political accomplishments of the decade. Nor were they responsible for the women’s movement or gay liberation.’ [Thanks Feeling Listless]
August 9, 2021
[life] Fake iceberg injures guests at Titanic museum‘In the most compelling evidence to date that the universe is controlled by a malevolent overlord who takes sick joy in our species’ misfortunes, visitors at a Titanic museum in Tennessee have been injured after a fake iceberg fell on them…’
June 24, 2021
[fun] Vincent Price rides some rolly-coasters … Go watch some small clips of Vincent Price having fun riding Roller Coasters. They are taken from a documentary called America Screams about the history of amusement parks and roller coasters in the US.
June 21, 2021
[people] Be Glad You’re Neurotic Contents … Amusing book contents spotted via Twitter. ‘Your Compulsions Are Calls For Help’

June 10, 2021
[family] My [40F] daughter’s [15F] cryptocurrency club is creating problems at our church … Cryptocurrency Club = Ponzi Scheme. ‘I want to guide my daughter towards phasing out the group, but she doesn’t have enough money to pay everyone back. She’s been doing so well with the club that cash has never been a problem, but if she shut down immediately, she’d owe thousands of dollars that she can’t repay.’
June 1, 2021
[life] The Tapeworm That Helps Ants Live Absurdly Long Lives … Oh, dear god, Tapeworms. ‘Down to the molecular level, the parasite is pulling the strings. Sara Beros, Foitzik’s former doctoral student and the paper’s first author, told me she has split open Temnothorax abdomens and counted up to 70 tapeworms inside. From there, the worms can unleash a slurry of proteins and chemicals that futz with the ant’s core physiology, likely impacting their host’s hormones, immune system, and genes. What they achieve appears to be a rough pantomime of how ant queens attain their mind-boggling life span, a feat humans still don’t understand. (The tapeworms’ grasp of ant aging is far more advanced than ours.) The parasites are effectively flash-freezing their host into a preserved state—one that will up their own chances of survival, and help guarantee that their species lives on.’
May 21, 2021
[life] Where Do Butts Come From? … A look at the the evolutionary history of the anus. ‘The sea cucumber’s posterior is so much more than an exit hole for digestive waste. It is also a makeshift mouth that gobbles up bits of algae; a faux lung, latticed with tubes that exchange gas with the surrounding water; and a weapon that, in the presence of danger, can launch a sticky, stringy web of internal organs to entangle predators. It can even, on occasion, be a home for shimmering pearlfish, which wriggle inside the bum when it billows open to breathe. It would not be inaccurate to describe a sea cucumber as an extraordinary anus that just so happens to have a body around it.’
May 12, 2021
[life] A New Generation Of Scientists Takes On A 142-Year-Old Experiment … The story behind a long-running, baton-pass science experiment. ‘Weber says it was really cool to pull a bottle out of the ground, knowing that “the last person to touch it was professor Beal, 140 years ago, you know, this person who was writing letters to Darwin.” The researchers immediately took the bottle to a lab. They spread out almost all of the contents onto potting soil…’
May 11, 2021
[life] Who among us hasn’t wanted to smell like a Mr Kipling Cherry Bakewell Tart?

Who among us hasn’t wanted to smell like a Mr Kipling Cherry Bakewell Tart?

May 7, 2021
[life] NEVER sit in a stained chair in the Poker room of a Casino … A disturbing, dark thread on Reddit about gambling addiction. ‘Anyone that works in a busy casino will have some fucked up stories. I remember an old couple that would sit and fill up their diapers playing slots. One day the wife died at the machine. Her husband wouldn’t get up from his machine to go with her after the EMT’s loaded her up and took her away.’
March 31, 2021
[headlines] 49 brilliantly underwhelming local news headlines from across the UK ‘Angry Seagulls Strike Back’

Angry Seagulls Strike Back

March 11, 2021
[life] What the Pandemic Is Doing to Our Brains … How’s your pandemic brain coping? ‘Prolonged boredom is, somewhat paradoxically, hugely stressful, Franklin said. Our brains hate it. “What’s very clear in the literature is that environmental enrichment—being outside of your home, bumping into people, commuting, all of these changes that we are collectively being deprived of—is very associated with synaptic plasticity,” the brain’s inherent ability to generate new connections and learn new things, she said.’
February 25, 2021
[fine] Work Reply Soundboard 👤💬 … A nicely done soundboard demonstrating a variety of moods at work. ‘Fine.’
February 24, 2021
[grief] British grief centres mainly around the making of sandwiches … Grace Dent on grief and sandwiches. ‘Dealing with death in a time of Covid, with wakes permitted for up to six people and no hotels, pubs or restaurants open, is a strange, awry sensation. My grief has been oddly nomadic. Death is here, I can feel it – I even have the paperwork to prove it – but, as a good daughter, there is no known fixed point to stumble towards, featuring people and faces and hugs and stories and scones on three-tier cake stands.’
February 15, 2021
[curtis] Adam Curtis’s Seaside Dream … Curtis visits Walton-on-the-Naze in 1983. ‘[Curtis] aimed to show that ordinary people could find fulfilment away from the ever-growing influence of global capitalism. His film was broadcast by the BBC on Tuesday 19th April 1983, only one day after 33 people were killed when terrorists bombed the US Embassy in Beirut. This documentary was “Just Another Day: The Seaside” and it depicted the small coastal town of Walton-on-the-Naze, where innocent holiday-makers found pleasure in a technology-free utopia…’
December 18, 2020
[xmas] How Retail Workers Deal With Nonstop Christmas Music Without Going Nuts … Or, how to cope with having to listen to the same music over-and-over again. ‘Sean worked at Younkers — a Midwest version of Macy’s — where corporate controlled the playlist. “All they played was maudlin Christmas music from the World War II era,” he says. But just because his new store simulcasts the radio, he’s not saved from hearing the same songs over and over again. “The radio station we’re forced to listen to goes from adult contemporary to nothing but Christmas music with the flip of a switch,” he explains. “During my normal shifts, I can hear the same song at least six times. Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ is a big culprit, along with ‘We Need a Little Christmas.’” “I know the first milliseconds of them because of the sheer number of times I’ve heard them all,” he continues.’ [via Feeling Listless]
October 30, 2020
[rats] ‘He couldn’t move’: New York City man falls into sinkhole full of rats‘He couldn’t move, and the rats were crawling all over him. He didn’t scream, because he didn’t want the rats going into his mouth.’
October 9, 2020
[life] Life advice from Nicholas Ray‘Open any book and read what’s there: you’ll find your problems. Hold a problem in your mind. Open a book.’
September 10, 2020
[occult] Christopher Lee on the Occult … Fascinating look at Lee’s views on the occult with video of an interview from 1975. ‘In 1975, during the filming of Dennis Wheatley’s classic occult novel To the Devil a Daughter, Lee gave an interview on his thoughts about Satanism (hey kids, it’s real!), Black Magic (yep, people do practice it every day, esp. in Hollywood), and why occult beliefs were so prevalent in the 1970s (boredom and bad fashion probably….). Lee is a fine man to spend some time with.’

August 27, 2020
[comics] That time I looked up at Penrhyn Castle in Wales and saw Swamp Thing staring down at me…

Swamp Thing Roof at Penrhyn Castle

August 25, 2020
[life] A Calendar for 2020‘Today is March 178th, 2020.’ [via jwz]
May 5, 2020
[advice] 68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice … Some condensed wisdom from Kevin Kelly. ‘I’m positive that in 100 years much of what I take to be true today will be proved to be wrong, maybe even embarrassingly wrong, and I try really hard to identify what it is that I am wrong about today.’
April 22, 2020
[lockdown] Crazed, Quarantined Mental Health Experts Recommend Scrawling ‘Everything Will Be Okay’ In Feces On Wall‘While it might not be for everyone, many of my patients find it extremely helpful to walk around their homes and see several giant hearts and cute smiley faces drawn on the wall with nothing but their own vomit. For me, personally, I like to wake up each morning with all 32 of my teeth hammered into the ceiling, arranged to spell ‘you are enough’—it really keeps me grounded.’
April 16, 2020
[lockdown] Andrew O’Neill’s Lockdown Achievements

March 30, 2020
[life] Humblebrags: Self-Isolation Edition‘UPDATE: We are now on lockdown here in the Marquesas Islands, a remote archipelago in the southern Pacific Ocean described as “heaven on Earth” by the New York Times. So hard to be hundreds of miles from family.’
March 24, 2020
[herzog] Werner Herzog Has Never Thought a Dog Was Cute … Wide-ranging, recent Werner Herzog interview… ‘Q: How do you derive meaning from life if life is indifferent? Herzog: Life is not indifferent. The universe is indifferent. But just trying, itself, is something I should do.’
February 17, 2020
[books] Literary Alternatives to “Ghosting” at Parties‘EDGAR ALLAN POE-ING – Die in a gutter before the party starts, probably from consumption (with a hint of alcohol poisoning).’
February 13, 2020
[life] Was Jeanne Calment the Oldest Person Who Ever Lived—or a Fraud? … A deep dive into the world of Gerontology and the mystery of Jeanne Calment. ‘The passage of time often quells controversy, but, in the Calment case, it only unsettled the dust. As the world’s population continued to grow, the cohort of people living to the age of a hundred and twenty-two did not. More than two decades after Calment’s death, her record still stood, making her a more conspicuous outlier with every year that went by. Either she had lived longer than any human being ever or she had executed an audacious fraud. As one observer wrote, “Both are highly unlikely life stories but one is true.”’
February 11, 2020
[life] The Octopus: An Alien Among Us … Are Octopuses Conscious? ‘The octopus has a central brain and also an independent, smaller processor in each arm, giving it a unique mixture of centralized and distributed command. The octopus also probably has self models—rich, constantly updated bundles of information to monitor its body and behavior. From an engineering perspective, it would need self models to function effectively. For example, it might have some form of a body schema that keeps track of the shape and structure of its body in order to coordinate movement. (Perhaps each arm has its own arm schema.) In that sense, you could say that an octopus knows about itself. It possesses information about itself and about the outside world, and that information results in complex behavior. But all of these truly wonderful traits do not mean that an octopus is conscious…’
February 5, 2020
[life] Today I Learned That Not Everyone Has An Internal Monologue And It Has Ruined My Day‘All my life, I could hear my voice in my head and speak in full sentences as if I was talking out loud. I thought everyone experienced this, so I did not believe that it could be true at that time. Literally the first person I asked was a classmate of mine who said that she can not “hear” her voice in her mind. I asked her if she could have a conversation with herself in her head and she looked at me funny like I was the weird one in this situation…’
January 29, 2020
[socialmedia] The strange case of Paul Zimmer, the influencer who came back as a different person… Always love a story about influencers behaving badly. ‘On 14 October 2019, Paul Zimmer posted a side-by-side image of himself (sporting a barely-grown-out beard) next to another image of what appeared to be himself, albeit clean-shaven. “This actor @TroyBeckerIG kid literally looks like a younger sexier version of me,” Zimmer wrote. “I don’t even use social media anymore but had to post this hahah…” Clicking on Troy Becker’s Instagram led to an almost unpopulated account, with only 11 posts uploaded before Zimmer’s side-by-side post. For a Gen-Z actor, this would amount to an unusually sparse social media presence.It’s hard to track the fan response to this post because comments on Zimmer’s Instagram are disabled. But almost two months later, on December 10, another “Troy Becker” post was made, addressing those who had responded that Becker was in fact Zimmer by saying: “IM TELLING YOU HE IS MY YOUNGER BRO [crying laughing emoji]”).’
January 24, 2020
[life] How DISGUSTING Are You ? 🤢 quiz… So, it turns out I am more dusgusting than I thought.
January 21, 2020
[life] My (36F) husband (41M) has some disturbing requests for after he’s passed away.‘My husband wants me to have his skull taken from his body and cleaned. Then he wants that skull put on the mantelpiece in the living room. The rest of his body he wants sent to one of those places that makes the gems out of bodies and made into two blue diamonds. He then wants those gems to be put in the eye socket of the skull to look like eyes. Then he can “watch the family home” and “be passed down through the generations”.’