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November 2, 2018
[trump] The Empty Core of the Trump Mystique … Donald Trump and Nihilism … ‘A nihilist is someone who dedicates himself to not giving a shit, who thinks all meanings are shit, and who yearns with all his heart for the “aesthetic pleasure” of seeing the shit hit the fan. Arguing with a nihilist is like intimidating a suicide bomber: The usual threats and enticement have no effect. I suspect that is part of the appeal for both: the facile transcendence of placing oneself beyond all powers of persuasion. A nihilist is above you and your persnickety arguments in the same way that Trump fancies himself above the law.’
October 30, 2018
[demons] Report: Students Who Take Latin Have Better Chance Of Summoning Demon Later In Life‘On the whole, young people who studied root languages like Latin had a much easier time communicating in tongues, and could sometimes even convince spirits to do their bidding. However, those who didn’t were more prone to lag far behind their peers and often died at the hands of a bloodthirsty, vengeful succubus.’
October 26, 2018
[life] 104-Year-Old Reveals Secret To Long Life Being Cursed By Witch To Wander Earth Eternally‘I do try to eat healthy, but most food turns to ash the instant it crosses my lips. I also walk a lot, but that’s mostly to escape the ever-present torment of seeing generations of loved ones pass on to the next life while I’m trapped here in perpetuity.’
October 19, 2018
[email] There is no non-wanky way to sign off an email, study finds‘Professor Henry Brubaker said: “Does anyone actually know what ‘kind regards’ means? Also it sounds a bit drippy and outdated, as if you’ve somehow received an email from a Victorian aunt. “An abrupt ‘thanks’ sounds sarcastic, or as we academics would describe it, ‘a bit pissy’.’
October 16, 2018
[mind] Your Inner Mind Is a Work of Imagination … A fascinating look at why the unconscious mind might be a myth. ‘The reality is that the things we’re conscious of—experiences, thoughts, fragments of conversation—are completely different in type from the things we’re unconscious of—all these mysterious brain processes, which lay down and retrieve memories, piece fragments of information together, and so on. The brain is doing lots of unconscious work—but it is not thought in any way we understand it. At the everyday level, thought is what flows through my mind—images, pains, fragments of language. But the unconscious brain activity that generates such thoughts is not more of the same. If we could understand the processes by which billions of neurons cooperate to help us recognize a face or interpret a fragment of speech, we would find these as unrelated to the stream of consciousness as the operation of the liver.’
August 10, 2018
[photos] From Errol Morris, a list of 10 things you should know about truth & photography‘6. Uncovering the relationship between a photograph and reality is no easy matter.’
August 9, 2018
[life] Cognitive Biases and the Human Brain … A look at the many ways our brain deceives itself and how we can improve our thinking. ‘When people hear the word bias, many if not most will think of either racial prejudice or news organizations that slant their coverage to favor one political position over another. Present bias, by contrast, is an example of cognitive bias—the collection of faulty ways of thinking that is apparently hardwired into the human brain. The collection is large. Wikipedia’s “List of cognitive biases” contains 185 entries, from actor-observer bias (“the tendency for explanations of other individuals’ behaviors to overemphasize the influence of their personality and underemphasize the influence of their situation … and for explanations of one’s own behaviors to do the opposite”) to the Zeigarnik effect (“uncompleted or interrupted tasks are remembered better than completed ones”).’
July 26, 2018
[life] The Secret Facebook Groups for Shocking DNA Tests … A look at how people cope when DNA Tests reveals huge surprises about parentage. ‘In conversations and correspondence with more than two dozen people for this story, I heard of DNA tests that unearthed affairs, secret pregnancies, quietly buried incidents of rape and incest, and fertility doctors using their own sperm to inseminate patients. These secrets otherwise would have—or even did—go the grave. “It’s getting harder and harder to keep secrets in our society,” says CeCe Moore, a prominent genetic genealogist who consults for the television show Finding Your Roots. “If people haven’t come to that realization, they probably should.” St Clair told me she sees it as a generational shift. The generation whose 50-year-old secrets are now being unearthed could not have imagined a world of $99 mail-in DNA kits. But times are changing, and the culture with it. “This generation right now and maybe the next 15 years or so, there’s going to be a lot of shocking results coming out. I’d say in 20 years’ time it’s going to dissipate,” she predicted. By then, our expectations of privacy will have caught up with the new reality created by the rise of consumer DNA tests.’
July 6, 2018
[life] Prick from school now describing himself as an ‘influencer’‘Tom Booker, a devious little shit you assumed was going to be an letting agent, is instead putting a lot of selfies on Instagram and referring to himself ‘a brand ambassador in waiting’.’
July 2, 2018
[people] Ask Reddit: What drama is currently going down in the world of your hobby that the rest of us probably haven’t heard about? … Large collection of amusing posts about some huge dramas in small worlds. ‘Cockygate – A lucrative erotica e-author tried to trademark the word “cocky” and was going after romance authors. Romance Writers of America hired a lawyer to contest that nonsense.’
June 19, 2018
[charts] Spurious Correlations … Amusing graphs proving that Correlation is not Causation.

June 14, 2018
[thinking] 9 Mental Models to Solve Difficult Problems … Another look at mental models. ‘Hanlon’s Razor – Hard to trace in its origin, Hanlon’s Razor states that we should not attribute to malice that which is more easily explained by stupidity. In a complex world, using this model helps us avoid paranoia and ideology. By not generally assuming that bad results are the fault of a bad actor, we look for options instead of missing opportunities. This model reminds us that people do make mistakes. It demands that we ask if there is another reasonable explanation for the events that have occurred. The explanation most likely to be right is the one that contains the least amount of intent.’
June 8, 2018
[social] Meet the people who still use Myspace: ‘It’s given me so much joy’ … Reads slightly like an Onion article but I can relate… I am available for interviews on people who still blog. :) ‘The homepage automatically pulls in articles from other websites, giving the ghost town a veneer of vitality. However, a prominent invitation to “connect with” Avicii, the Swedish DJ who died in April, acts as a jarring reminder of the site’s zombie status. “It’s almost like I’ve taken over a dead site,” he said, noting that at least women did not block him or remove his comments any more. “I think it’s funny. I’ll leave comments and messages for girls who haven’t been on there for years.” Scalir achieved minor celebrity status in the 1990s and 2000s through several appearances on TV dating shows including Blind Date, Love Connection and Singled Out. Myspace offered an alternative way to meet women. “I always hoped I’d get a girlfriend out of it, but it never really happened,” he added.’
June 6, 2018
[life] I Am A Recently Divorced And Laid-Off Middle-Aged Man With A Lot Of Health Problems, And Everything I Say Is Incredibly Depressing. Ask Questions At Me.‘It’s important to remember that though you might think you’re going through one enormous loss, there are actually hundreds of other, tinier losses you’ll experience along the way. For example, one thing you don’t realize until you get divorced is that only one of you gets to keep all the baby photos of your kids. I try to use my faith as a way to cope with all the pain of losing my job and my family. It hasn’t worked for me so far. One time I flipped to a random page in the Bible and put my finger down, hoping to land on something encouraging, but instead I landed on a verse about God ruining a man’s life as an example to others.’
June 5, 2018
[conspiracy] Looking for Life on a Flat Earth … A profile of the Flat Earth movement.

Flat-Earth logic is by turns mesmerizing and maddening. There is no gravity, nothing to restrain it, but as a theory it explains fewer phenomena than the theory it seeks to supplant. In the corridor, I met a documentary filmmaker—there were several milling around at the conference—who had been following the flat-Earth community for months. His face bore a look of despair. “If you’re going to dismiss everything as a hoax, you’d better have something clear to replace it,” he said, his voice rising toward apoplexy. “If you tell me your car isn’t blue and I ask you, ‘Well, what color is your car?,’ don’t fucking tell me, ‘I don’t know, but it’s not blue.’ What color is your fucking car?!”

May 21, 2018
[web] I Don’t Know How to Waste Time on the Internet Anymore … A look at why the Web isn’t fun anymore. ‘And then, one day, I think in 2013, Twitter and Facebook were not really very fun anymore. And worse, the fun things they had supplanted were never coming back. Forums were depopulated; blogs were shut down. Twitter, one agent of their death, became completely worthless: a water-drop-torture feed of performative outrage, self-promotion, and discussion of Twitter itself. Facebook had become, well … you’ve been on Facebook. In the decade since I took that computer class, the web browser has taken over the entire computing experience. There is nothing to “learn” about computers, really, except how to use a browser; everything you might want to do is done from that stupid empty address bar. Today, through that web browser, there are movies and TV shows and every song ever recorded; it’s where I do my writing and chatting and messaging; it’s where my notes and calendars and social networks live. It’s everything except fun.’
May 18, 2018
[drink] How I let drinking take over my life … powerful long-read from William Leith analysing his heavy drinking. ‘Some people drink, and then they drink more, and at a certain point, they become obsessed with drink. I always used to notice bottles, the shapes of bottles, the labels and coloured glass. Just looking at the bottles would make me feel a rush of desire. I would know which pubs stocked the strongest beers and ciders, just in case. I loved walking around off-licences, and picking up bottles, and holding them. Sometimes, in the middle of the day, I’d go into an off-licence for a few minutes and talk about wine or whisky with the person behind the counter. For a year, I took a wine course, because wine seemed civilised. I sat in a classroom, one evening a week, talking about wine, and drinking wine, and taking notes. Afterwards, I’d go off with another member of the class, or perhaps two, for a couple more bottles of wine. There were always bottles in my life, bottles everywhere, more bottles than I could believe.’
May 17, 2018
[life] Mental Models I Find Repeatedly Useful … long list of concepts for explaining things. ‘Unknown Unknowns — “Known unknowns refers to ‘risks you are aware of, such as cancelled flights….’ Unknown unknowns are risks that ‘come from situations that are so out of this world that they never occur to you.’ (related: Cynefin framework)’
May 8, 2018
[life] Report: Putting Head In Hands And Moaning Quietly Still Best Way To Get Through Next Several Seconds‘We also discovered that if you follow up this process by leaning forward such that your elbows are positioned on a flat surface, and then push back your hair with both hands while massaging your temples with your thumbs, the next several seconds will all be over soon enough.’
April 16, 2018
[timemachinego] The Rise in Self-Proclaimed Time Travelers … fascinating overview of the epidemic of Time Travellers online. ‘With time travel, you can step outside the eternal stream of time. You can conquer physics. You can deal with loss and overcome death. In this way, these clickbait time-travel stories are a very American form of existentialism: We like to believe we can shape the future, and we need to know that everything will be okay.’
March 19, 2018
[crime] Worst Roommate Ever … quickly escalating worst-case housesharing story – worth reading for the twist at the end.

In 2012, Bachman had shown up at the home of a woman across town named Melissa Frost, claiming to be a New Yorker whose home had been destroyed in Hurricane Sandy. Overcome with pity, Frost let him in — and nearly lost her house. In an expensive and frightening ordeal that dragged on for months, Bachman slowly laid claim to the space, using his intricate knowledge of tenancy laws to stay one step ahead of her. He scuffed up the floors, kicked down the doors, and clogged the toilets with cat litter. “He went from being this cordial, polite person who understood he was a guest in my house,” Frost said in one of the articles, “to someone who was approaching me aggressively and flat-out saying, ‘This is my house now.’ ”

March 5, 2018
[ODG!] This Mutant Crayfish Clones Itself, and It’s Taking Over Europe … Life will find a way. ‘The earliest report of the creature comes from a hobbyist who told Dr. Lyko he bought what were described to him as “Texas crayfish” in 1995. The hobbyist — whom Dr. Lyko declined to identify — was struck by the large size of the crayfish and its enormous batches of eggs. A single marbled crayfish can produce hundreds of eggs at a time. Soon the hobbyist was giving away the crayfish to his friends. And not long afterward, so-called marmorkrebs were showing up in pet stores in Germany and beyond. As marmorkrebs became more popular, owners grew increasingly puzzled. The crayfish seemed to be laying eggs without mating. The progeny were all female, and each one grew up ready to reproduce. In 2003, scientists confirmed that the marbled crayfish were indeed making clones of themselves.’
March 1, 2018
[cartoons] Chuck Jones’ Rules for Road Runner Cartoons‘Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote’s greatest enemy.’

February 28, 2018
[books] Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read … and what we watch and listen to. ‘The lesson from his binge-watching study is that if you want to remember the things you watch and read, space them out. I used to get irritated in school when an English-class syllabus would have us read only three chapters a week, but there was a good reason for that. Memories get reinforced the more you recall them, [Jared] Horvath says. If you read a book all in one stretch—on an airplane, say—you’re just holding the story in your working memory that whole time. “You’re never actually reaccessing it,” he says.’
February 16, 2018
[life] Find The Thing You’re Most Passionate About, Then Do It On Nights And Weekends For The Rest Of Your Life‘It could be anything—music, writing, drawing, acting, teaching—it really doesn’t matter. All that matters is that once you know what you want to do, you dive in a full 10 percent and spend the other 90 torturing yourself because you know damn well that it’s far too late to make a drastic career change, and that you’re stuck on this mind-numbing path for the rest of your life. Is there any other way to live?’
February 14, 2018
[life] A Catfishing With a Happy Ending … A Catfishing story for Valentines Day … ‘When four red heart emojis appeared on her screen, Emma was thrilled. Unlike her ex-boyfriend, Ronnie seemed mature and attentive. Ronnie was easy on the eyes, funny, and caring, but there was one problem: He did not exist. Ronaldo Scicluna was a fictional character created by Alan Stanley, a short, balding, 53-year-old shop fitter—a decorator of retail stores. Alan lived alone in Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Like one of the Bard’s shapeshifting characters, Alan used a disguise to fool women into romance, and to prevent himself getting hurt.’
February 6, 2018
[coma] If you’re reading this you’ve been in a coma for almost 20 years…

January 24, 2018
[onion] Report: Friend Doing Sober January Must Have Really Fucked Shit Up Over Holidays‘I don’t know if it was an out-of-control Christmas party or what, but it obviously rattled the hell out of him. When you ask him about it, he just gets quiet and says something vague about ‘just cooling off for a few weeks,’ which you know means it was something pretty fucking scary.’
January 23, 2018
[lsd] A Fateful Hunt for a Buried Stash of the Greatest LSD Ever Made … a wonderful gonzo tale about the history behind a legendary lost stash of LSD – a gentle Breaking Bad set in Wales in the 1970s. ‘Over the years, Smiles hasn’t featured in any of the books or TV documentaries about Operation Julie, so I assumed he didn’t want to speak about those years any more. But I knew he was still around: I’d heard from a good source that he’d recently appeared at the funeral of one of the other men convicted in the 70s, and that he’d got everyone stoned in the smoking area of the wake. If anyone knew whether there was still some mythical LSD buried in the ground, it would be Smiles. In the end, finding him wasn’t too hard at all, and after a day of correspondence he invited us round for tea.’
January 15, 2018
[life] An Open Letter to the Box of Loose Cables in My Closet … a touching letter between a man and his spare cable box. ‘She looks at you and only sees a knot of ethernet cords gripping the backs of forgotten TiVo remotes, but I see much more. I see USB’s and Firewires commingling with DVI’s and IDE’s. Wax-coated earbuds waiting patiently to be called back into service. Half-drained AAA batteries begging to come out of early retirement and give my beard trimmers that last gasp of life. I see possibility. I see potential. I see my own live-in box of technological understudies with solutions at the ready. What would I do without you?’
January 2, 2018
[life] Ask Metafilter: What is a life-changing realization you wish you had sooner?‘Worrying does not help.’
November 27, 2017
[life] BREAKING NEWS – Cockatiel is confident today is going to be Great

November 7, 2017
[prison] Insane Prisoner Inventions: 24 DIY Prison Tools & Weapons … a fascinating look at what prisoners build inside prison. Below is picture of a knuckleduster…

November 6, 2017
[life] The laws of stupidity according to economist Carlo M. Cipolla … The Five Laws of Human Stupidity seems very relevant to our times … ‘Law 3. A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses. Cipolla called this one the Golden Law of stupidity. A stupid person, according to the economist, is one who causes problems for others without any clear benefit to himself. The uncle unable to stop himself from posting fake news articles to Facebook? Stupid. The customer service representative who keeps you on the phone for an hour, hangs up on you twice, and somehow still manages to screw up your account? Stupid.’
October 31, 2017
[books] Philip Pullman’s swearwords are a useful lesson for children … Why swearing isn’t bad for children … ‘Children also learn, from a surprisingly early age, that swearing isn’t all negative. Research shows that swearing is linked with all kinds of emotional states, including joy, surprise and fear. By learning to swear, children learn to understand other people’s feelings in a more nuanced way. “Children learn that curse words intensify emotions in a manner that non-curse words cannot achieve,” says Professor Jay. But the biggest advantage, from my perspective as a parent, comes from studies dating back as far as the 1930s, which show that swearing quickly replaces biting, hitting, and screaming as children develop. To which I must say, thank fuck for that.’
October 30, 2017
[life] Man Gets Life In Order For 36 Minutes‘During this period, he did not once concern himself with his finances, his in-laws, or his dental coverage. And as his mind began to wander freely, he neither relived painful humiliations from his past, nor felt any anxiety about his personal shortcomings.’
October 20, 2017
[life] Somebody should have advised Niall Horan that naming his debut album Fucker Flicker was a mistake.

August 22, 2017
[death] In the future, your body won’t be buried… you’ll dissolve … Hayley Campbell looks at an alternative to cremating dead bodies … ‘The machine is mid-cycle. Fisher, grey-haired and tall in light green scrubs, explains what’s happening inside the high-pressure chamber: potassium hydroxide is being mixed with water heated to 150°C. A biochemical reaction is taking place and the flesh is melting off the bones. Over the course of up to four hours, the strong alkaline base causes everything but the skeleton to break down to the original components that built it: sugar, salt, peptides and amino acids; DNA unzips into its nucleobases, cytosine, guanine, adenine, thymine. The body becomes fertiliser and soap, a sterile watery liquid that looks like weak tea. The liquid shoots through a pipe into a holding tank in the opposite corner of the room where it will cool down, be brought down to an acceptable pH for the water treatment plant, and be released down the drain. Fisher says I can step outside if it all gets too much, but it’s not actually that terrible. The human body, liquefied, smells like steamed clams.’
August 14, 2017
[true-crime] How “Making a Murderer” Went Wrong… a sobering critique of True Crime Documentaries … ‘Yet the most obvious thing to say about true-crime documentaries is something that, surprisingly often, goes unsaid: they turn people’s private tragedies into public entertainment. If you have lost someone to violent crime, you know that, other than the loss itself, few things are as painful and galling as the daily media coverage, and the license it gives to strangers to weigh in on what happened. That experience is difficult enough when the coverage is local, and unimaginable when a major media production turns your story into a national pastime. “Sorry, I won’t be answering any questions because . . . TO ME ITS REAL LIFE,” the younger brother of Hae Min Lee, the murder victim in “Serial,” wrote on Reddit in 2014.’
July 24, 2017
[games] How Checkers Was Solved … the fascinating story of the greatest Checkers player in the world and how Checkers was beaten by computers …

Marion Tinsley—math professor, minister, and the best checkers player in the world—sat across a game board from a computer, dying.

Tinsley had been the world’s best for 40 years, a time during which he’d lost a handful of games to humans, but never a match. It’s possible no single person had ever dominated a competitive pursuit the way Tinsley dominated checkers. But this was a different sort of competition, the Man-Machine World Championship.

His opponent was Chinook, a checkers-playing program programmed by Jonathan Schaeffer, a round, frizzy-haired professor from the University of Alberta, who operated the machine. Through obsessive work, Chinook had become very good. It hadn’t lost a game in its last 125—and since they’d come close to defeating Tinsley in 1992, Schaeffer’s team had spent thousands of hours perfecting his machine.

The night before the match, Tinsley dreamt that God spoke to him and said, “I like Jonathan, too,” which had led him to believe that he might have lost exclusive divine backing…’

July 18, 2017
[comics] Inside the surprisingly dark world of Rube Goldberg machines… A look at why Rube Goldberg Machines remain relevant… … ‘Almost a century old, Rube Goldberg machines retain their appeal: “There’s something in our brains that likes to see cause and effect played out, to see it in a way that we can understand,” Joseph Herscher, the Brooklyn-based artist, told me. Herscher has judged at the past three college national competitions but was absent this year. “Most of the technology we live with is designed to be invisible,” he said. “A computer is the ultimate example: it’s so advanced, so sophisticated, and yet it’s not interesting to watch it run whatsoever.” When we watch the movements of a Rube Goldberg machine, “it’s our world that we’re seeing, and it makes us appreciate our world. You don’t see that nowadays.” Meanwhile, most of Goldberg’s comics seem dated: the jokes don’t make sense or are lame, and cultural references fall flat. But some feel as relevant ever, and maybe that’s because the technical absurdities that the cartoonist parodied are still very real…’
July 14, 2017
[life] Dying Lion Sure Doesn’t Feel As Though He’s Completing Some Great Cosmic Circle‘Observing his surroundings, the moribund lion reported that he has seen no brilliant gleaming light shining down from the heavens that makes him realize he’s part of a sacred tradition as old as life itself, nor has a hush seemed to fall over the land in a reverent acknowledgment of his passing. In addition, the large African mammal noted that succumbing to a gunshot wound hasn’t resulted in a spiritual awakening in which he suddenly feels at one with the universe, so much as it has made him feel terrified, alone, and utterly insignificant.’
July 11, 2017
[life] A Speck in the Sea … the amazing survival story of a fisherman who fell overboard from his lobster boat at night in the North Atlantic … ‘The boots gave Aldridge a chance to think. He wasn’t going to sink — not right away, anyway. But he was still in a very bad situation. He tried to take stock: It was about 3:30 a.m. on July 24, a clear, starry night lit by a full moon. The wind was calm, but there was a five-foot swell, a remnant of a storm that blew through a couple of days earlier. The North Atlantic water was chilly — 72 degrees — but bearable, for now. Dawn was still two hours away. Aldridge set a goal, the first of many he would assign himself that day: Just stay afloat till sunrise.’
July 7, 2017
[web]Whatever happened to Jennicam? … the Reply All Podcast tracked down Jennifer Ringley – arguably the first person who lived their life online – and discovered what happened after she switched the camera off … ‘My husband’s last name is Johnson and Jennifer Johnson is practically better than Jane Doe. I never thought I would get married. I never thought I would get married. But when I did, I was super eager to take his last name. SUPER EAGER.’
July 6, 2017
[funny] Big Fucking TV can’t find the Fucking Shit Router

July 3, 2017
[hell] Tenth Circle Added To Rapidly Growing Hell … Hell modernises – from The Onion …

Frigax The Vile, a leading demonic presence, is one of the most vocal supporters of the new circle.

“In the past, the underworld was ill-equipped to handle the new breed of sinners flooding our gates–downsizing CEOs, focus-group coordinators, telemarketing sales representatives, and vast hordes of pony-tailed entertainment-industry executives rollerblading and talking on miniaturized cell-phones at the same time. But now, we’ve finally got the sort of top-notch Pits of Doom necessary to give such repellent abominations the quality boilings they deserve.”

June 29, 2017
[wisdom] InspiroBot … A.I. generated inspirational quotes … ‘I am an artificial intelligence dedicated to generating unlimited amounts of unique inspirational quotes for endless enrichment of pointless human existence.’

June 28, 2017
[life] Breaking News from the Onion… Mop Used to Clean Minor Spill Now Permanent Addition to Living Room
June 14, 2017
[airbnb] Please Make Yourselves at Home in My Airbnb and Have Sex‘Just to be clear: I know that having sexual intercourse with your partner in a stranger’s home is an essential part of a romantic getaway in the sharing economy, and I want you to have a special weekend together in my house. I hope that by being upfront about that reality, I can make you feel as comfortable as possible about ravishing each other in my bed while I stay at my friend’s place a few blocks away.’
May 26, 2017
[life] World Death Rate Holding Steady At 100 Percent‘Death, a metabolic affliction causing total shutdown of all life functions, has long been considered humanity’s number one health concern. Responsible for 100 percent of all recorded fatalities worldwide, the condition has no cure. “I was really hoping, what with all those new radiology treatments, rescue helicopters, aerobics TV shows and what have you, that we might at least make a dent in it this year,” WHO Director General Dr. Gernst Bladt said. “Unfortunately, it would appear that the death rate remains constant and total, as it has inviolably since the dawn of time.”‘