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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”.’
December 31, 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.’
December 13, 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.’
December 6, 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.’
December 4, 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.’
December 2, 2019
[life]Try Beautiful News … Need a lift? Try this site.

November 21, 2019
[work] Pointless work meetings ‘really a form of therapy’ … This article is from BBC News, not the Onion. ‘Many regular, internal meetings might seem entirely “pointless” to those taking part, says Prof Hall. But he says the real purpose of such meetings might be to assert the authority of an organisation, so that employees are reminded that they are part of it. Such meetings are not really about making any decisions, he says.’
November 20, 2019
[comics] The Death of the Age of Stuff … Interesting 2013 comic from Peter Bagge on being a cartoonist in the internet age.
November 13, 2019
[scams] I was an astrologer – here’s how it really works, and why I had to stop … An insiders story about Astrology. ‘I also learned that intelligence and education do not protect against superstition. Many customers were stockbrokers, advertising executives or politicians, dealing with issues whose outcomes couldn’t be controlled. It’s uncertainty that drives people into woo, not stupidity, so I’m not surprised millennials are into astrology. They grew up with Harry Potter and graduated into a precarious economy, making them the ideal customers.’
October 17, 2019
[life] Escape rooms are very big business … A fascinating look at the world of Escape Rooms. ‘…Escape rooms are fundamentally odd. It is weird to gather in a themed room for an hour to unlock combination locks in a high-stakes situation that matters not at all. We didn’t use to trap ourselves in $30 rooms and now we do, and it doesn’t feel like an accident that the rise of escape rooms in the first half of this decade corresponds almost exactly with a seismic shift in how we relate to technology (intimately, all the time). Escape rooms are an antidote: They require you to exist, in real life, with other real-life people, in the same place, at the same time, manipulating tangible objects. But you only have to do it for an hour! High intensity, low commitment. You get the thrill of deep connection, but you don’t have to, like, talk about your feelings. Maybe we talk about feelings too much anyway. Maybe we should just do stuff. But who has time to do stuff?’
October 3, 2019
[life] List: Famous Philosophers’ Pick-Up Lines … from McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. ‘Arthur Schopenhauer: “Life is nothing but a meaningless fluctuation between pain and boredom. And we are but worms. And our only chance of freedom is to embrace the dark nothingness that surrounds us. And to cast off the burdensome yoke of individualism. And to embrace the void. And to become one with the unyielding Will of the universe. Anyhoo… wanna smush?”’
September 24, 2019
[people] My (33F) husband’s (35M) career in academic philosophy is ruining our marriage… Epic Reddit r/relationships posting. ‘His obsession with Hegel himself has reached the point of creepiness. At one point he literally told me that all other work either agrees with Hegel so is redundant, or disagrees with Hegel and is wrong. He keeps a framed picture of Hegel on the nightstand in our bedroom. In fact, he even changed his phone’s background from a picture of me to this same picture of Hegel. I feel like I am competing with a 200 year old philosopher for my husband’s attention.’
September 19, 2019
[emoji] 📙 Emojipedia — 😃 … for all your Emoji needs. ‘😱 Face Screaming in Fear 😱’
September 18, 2019
[fandom] Superfans: A Love Story … A profile of fandom from the New Yorker.

Annie Wilkes, [Stephen] King told me recently, was inspired in part by Mark David Chapman, who assassinated John Lennon hours after getting his autograph. As an author, King is familiar with fan enthusiasm gone awry. “There was a lot of backlash about the way that the ‘Dark Tower’ books ended,” he told me, referring to his multipart fantasy series. “Those fans were absolutely rabid about those books.” Not long after “Misery” came out, King and his son were at a baseball game when a man broke into his house with what he said was a bomb, claiming that Annie Wilkes had secretly been based on his aunt. “My wife ran out in her bare feet and called the cops,” King recalled, “and the guy was cowering in the turret of the third floor of our Victorian home.” The bomb turned out to be a bunch of pencils in a rubber band. Still, it unnerved King: his novel about a stalker fan had summoned a stalker fan. “People have gotten invested in culture and make-believe in a way that I think is a little bit unhealthy,” King said. “I mean, it’s supposed to be fun, right?”

September 5, 2019
[sealand] A Visit to Sealand, the World’s Tiniest Nation … The bizarre creation story of the micronation of Sealand along with more recent history. ‘As we finished one last cup of tea in the kitchen, Michael grinned. He seemed as proud of the convoluted story behind his family’s bizarre creation as he was of Sealand’s resilience. Taking advantage of a gap in international law, Sealand had grown old while other attempts at seasteads never made it far beyond what-if imaginings. The Bates family was certainly daring, but the secret to Sealand’s survival was its limited aspirations. It had no territorial ambitions; it wasn’t seeking to create a grand caliphate. In the view of its powerful neighbors, Sealand was merely a rusty kingdom, easier to ignore than to eradicate.’
August 15, 2019
[ideas] Accelerationism: how a fringe philosophy predicted the future we live in … A long-read on Accelerationism. ‘In 1998, Land resigned from Warwick too. He and half a dozen CCRU members withdrew to the room above the Leamington Spa Body Shop. There they drifted from accelerationism into a vortex of more old-fashioned esoteric ideas, drawn from the occult, numerology, the fathomless novels of the American horror writer HP Lovecraft, and the life of the English mystic Aleister Crowley, who had been born in Leamington, in a cavernous terraced house which several CCRU members moved into. “The CCRU became quasi-cultish, quasi-religious,” says Mackay.’
August 13, 2019
[life] Having the best mattress, suitcase, and vitamins nearly broke me … A journalist uses all the best products for a week. ‘For one week, I lived the kind of life that’s scientifically concocted by marketing professionals, the kind of life that Bill O’Reilly probably thinks of when he gets riled up about annoying young people. I tried to be a different version of me; I tried to be less gross. I will not lie and say that I had fewer than two existential crises…’
August 8, 2019
[life] A revolution in our sense of self … A fascinating look at how human consciousness may have little depth and might actually be really shallow. ‘Each of us is a unique history, together with a wonderfully creative machine for redeploying that history to create new perceptions, thoughts, emotions and stories. The layering of that history makes some patterns of thought natural for us, others awkward or uncomfortable. While drawing on our past, we are continually reinventing ourselves, and by directing that reinvention, we can shape who we are and who we will become. So we are not driven by hidden, inexorable forces from a dark and subterranean mental world. Instead, our thoughts and actions are transformations of past thoughts and actions and we often have considerable latitude, a certain judicial discretion, regarding which precedents we consider, which transformations we allow. As today’s thought or action are tomorrow’s precedents, we are reshaping ourselves, moment by moment.’
August 5, 2019
[space] Greetings, E.T. (Please Don’t Murder Us) … Steven Johnson on the Pros and Cons of attempting to contact Extraterrestrial Civilizations. ‘Drake leaned forward, nodding. “It raises a very interesting, nonscientific question, which is: Are extraterrestrial civilizations altruistic? Do they recognize this problem and establish a beacon for the benefit of the other folks out there? My answer is: I think it’s actually Darwinian; I think evolution favors altruistic societies. So my guess is yes. And that means there might be one powerful signal for each civilization.” Given the transit time across the universe, that signal might well outlast us as a species, in which case it might ultimately serve as a memorial as much as a message, like an interstellar version of the Great Pyramids: proof that a technologically advanced organism evolved on this planet, whatever that organism’s ultimate fate.’
July 4, 2019
[life] Why Are Octopuses So Smart?‘Losing their shells also made the cephalopods exquisitely vulnerable. One scientist described their soft, unprotected bodies as the equivalent of “rump steak, swimming around.” The rest of the ocean seemingly agrees: Almost every major group of predators eats cephalopods, including dolphins, seals, fish, seabirds, and even other cephalopods. This gauntlet of threats might have fueled the evolution of the cephalopods’ amazing color-changing skin, their short lifespans, and their large brains.’