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December 10, 2004
[photos] Found Photobooth Photos: Is this You?
November 22, 2004
[tube] Blood on the Tracks — article about suicides on the London Underground … ‘How the tube got its reputation as a good spot for suicides is a mystery. It is a completely stupid choice. A large number of jumpers don’t die immediately and plenty don’t die at all. Those that are successful often manage because they get themselves crushed between the far wall and the train, instead of on the rails. It is very far from clinical. At the first “one-under” I attended, the woman was still alive underneath the train, screaming and trying to get up. The image stayed with me for years.’
October 13, 2004
[science] People Are Human-Bacteria Hybrid‘Most of the cells in your body are not your own, nor are they even human. They are bacterial. From the invisible strands of fungi waiting to sprout between our toes, to the kilogram of bacterial matter in our guts, we are best viewed as walking “superorganisms,” highly complex conglomerations of human, fungal, bacterial and viral cells.’
September 30, 2004
[blogs] Random Acts of Reality: ‘The Potters Bar train crash was phoned into the Ambulance Service as a “Chest Pain”… ‘
September 26, 2004
[geek] The Geek Hierarchy — where X considers themselves less geeky than Y.
September 10, 2004
[blogs] Jon’s Jail Journal — the Blog of a Brit in a US Jail … ‘My first cellmate was a satanic priest called Lonely who had a pentagram tattooed on his forehead.’ [thanks Phil]
September 7, 2004
[blog] My Life As A Morrisons Employee — blog from worker in a British Supermarket … ‘It’s official… the first christmas stock went on sale today, at 3pm on Friday 3rd September.’ [via Call Centre Confidential]
September 1, 2004
[missing] Raising the Dead — interesting article about finding missing people using the internet, Google and many eyeballs … ‘Families post all over the Web, searching for missing loved ones. Local coroners and cops, nudged by the Doe Network, upload pictures and vital statistics of their Does. Groups like the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children do the same. Networkers comb through it all like they were playing the kids’ card game Concentration, digitized by Patricia Cornwell. Comparing death dates on coroner sites with last-seen-on dates on missing persons sites. Checking for scars, tattoos, anything that distinguishes the person from a crowd. Googling until the coffee runs out. It all sounds like amateur hour. It is amateur hour. There’s no order, no discipline to the investigations. These amateur sleuths slog along at their own pace, chasing their own bogeymen. “That’s why the Doe Network is invaluable – real people looking at real data,” says Emily Craig, forensic anthropologist for the state of Kentucky.’
August 13, 2004
[paper] Why I love… Shredding‘I refer here not to the squalling style of guitar playing typified by Eddie Van Halen but instead to the unbridled visceral pleasure of slicing unwanted scraps of paper into small mountains of confetti. Elton John has the right idea: one of his homes has a room just for shredding. He knows how satisfying it is seeing an old gas bill grated into a thousand tiny pieces.’
July 6, 2004
[blogs] Random Reality Bites — the Guardian interviews UK Ambulanceman blogger Tom Reynolds‘The Londoner’s blog, Random Acts of Reality, charts the ups and downs of his life as an emergency medical technician, or EMT, for the ambulance service. Since he started blogging a year ago, Reynolds has built up a dedicated audience who have been absorbed by his accounts of dealing with knife fights, spurious call-outs and little old ladies grabbing his testicles.’
July 5, 2004
[web] Group Hug continues to pull me back … Kissing the Stripper and Grandma: ‘…while I was with a stripper, I kissed her a few times. And after showering and brushing, of course, the next person I kissed on the lips was my grandmother, on mothers day.’
July 4, 2004
[web] Ghosts in the Machines — “What happens to your online self when you die?” – a question most bloggers have probably asked themselves occasionally … ‘The multitudes of LiveJournal communities and Web pages devoted to deceased young people are a testament to how real some of the relationships between online friends can be, and also how persistent online culture has become, even in the way we approach mortality. Pieces of people’s lives become nonphysical totems to their memory and exist indefinitely until the next hard drive wipe or crash.’ [via del.icio.us]
June 30, 2004
[politics] NO-ONE! EVER! TELLS ME! WHAT TO! FUCKING! DO!‘And then I’m sitting up last night, sucking cherry menthol throat drops and watching the coverage of the European Election, and gazing at the permatanned face of the vile Robert Kilroy Silk as the UKIP see their tally of votes mounting across the country. And I realise that his entire campaign is based on “No-one tells us what to do.” And I realise that it’s people like Billy for whom that message resonates very deeply.’ [via Mo Morgan]
June 15, 2004
[knowledge] The Two Things — apparently, for any subject there are only two things you need to know — the rest isn’t important or an application of the original two things … ‘World Conquest: 1. Divide and Conquer. 2. Never invade Russia in the winter.’ [via del.icio.us]
June 9, 2004
[venus] A piece of History Passes By and 350 years on the Sun Shines for Jeremiah the Genius — Simon Hoggart spent yesterday up a Hill in Lancashire with 92 astronomers as the Transit of Venus happened …

‘…it is the unity between our own past and the immensity of the universe which is skin-tingling. Just after the last transit, in 1882, Robert Ball wrote: “The next time people will see it is when the flowers are in bloom, in June 2004.” It was good to be there with the flowers.’

June 8, 2004
[web] Cracking the Code to Romance — brief profiles of hackers using the web for dating… the googler, the blogger, the sniffer and the stalker …

‘Moore has written several Unix shell scripts that run on-the-fly background checks on people who use wireless networks in his neighborhood. With the help of the popular network-traffic analysis utility Netcat, his script “sniffs all the traffic on the Wi-Fi network, greps for email addresses, and looks them up on Friendster.” Then the script sends Moore an email that includes a link to the users’ Friendster profiles, along with their pictures and login IDs. At a time when it seems that nearly everyone has a Friendster account, Moore says, “You can do really creepy stuff. You can get the profiles on everyone in your local café, then see who their friends are, and just walk up to them and ask, ‘Aren’t you Tom’s friend?'” More disturbing, Moore’s toolkit allows him to get zip codes and last names, making it easier to track down the real-world addresses of his targets, thus opening up a whole new universe of creepiness. “You could do all sorts of mean things,” he says.’

June 7, 2004
[war] Sixty years on, D-day veterans pass torch into hands of history — Jonathan Freedland on the 60th Aniversary of D-Day … ‘The end of the cold war allowed another new guest. For decades Russia was the forgotten ally but, now free of communism, it was allowed back in yesterday. Vladimir Putin rode in on the world leaders’ charabanc along with the rest of them (only the Queen and Bush were too grand to use the coach, preferring their own cars). When the Polish armed forces’ band formed part of the warm-up entertainment – doing a medley of Abba tunes, including a goose-stepping version of Dancing Queen that seemed to be a straight lift from Mel Brooks’ Springtime for Hitler – the picture of a united Europe was complete.’
June 5, 2004
[chris morris] Second Class Male and Time To Go — Hoax columns by Chris Morris (published in The Observer in 1999) … ‘Not for publication: You have made me too depressed to write. Unlike the great melancholics – Baudelaire, Beethoven – I have no genius from which to draw consolation. I am at best a Brian Wilson, but a Brian Wilson who went to bed before making Pet Sounds. Fuck you all.’
May 26, 2004
[mobiles] Monthly Spend on Mobiles Rises‘People are spending more on their mobiles than they are on their gas and electricity bills. Customers are paying up to £45 a month for voice, text and other phone services…’
[wifi] Nearly Two-thirds of Wi-Fi Users Confess to Browsing the Internet in Their Unmentionables‘In an online poll of 478 consumers in April 2004, 64% of the respondents admitted to connecting to the Internet when just wearing their undergarments, showing the growing popularity of the wireless lifestyle.’ [via Wi-Fi Networking News]
May 20, 2004
[life] 714 Things to Be Cynical About — only 714? [via Green Fairy] …

» Frank Sinatra after 1970.
» pop music after 1970.
» life after 1970.

April 30, 2004
[film] Forgetfulness Of Things Past — Steven Rose on the possibility of erasing memories. ‘…an animal was taught a particular task, and then days later was reminded of it by being put in the same context, the memory became labile once more – that means it could be disrupted by protein synthesis inhibitors. It was as if the reminder not only reactivated the old memory, but resulted in an entirely new memory being formed on top of it. Of course, we can intuitively recognise this; when we recall a past event, we are not recalling the event per se, but our memory of it from the last time we recalled it. This is why our autobiographical memories are being reshaped as we go through life.’ [Related: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind]
April 14, 2004
[happy] On The Happy Trail — The Observer looks at the study of Happiness … ‘The important point to grasp, says Diener, is that although happiness has a large genetic component, none of us are prisoners of evolution. By identifying the sources of happiness in our lives and making a conscious effort to optimise them, most of us should be able to raise our average satisfaction levels. Or as Norman Vincent Peale succinctly puts it: “Who decides whether you shall be happy or unhappy? The answer – you do.”‘
April 6, 2004
[ipod] The Incredible Future Boy Versus Malevolent Gutter Punk — blogger foils mugging attempt with iPod mini‘I was carrying my iPod Mini. Just in case you haven’t seen one, the mini is not your mother’s iPod. The rounded edges and soft plastic chassis that characterized the older generations have given way to one sharp little fucker of a digital lifestyle appliance.’
February 8, 2004
[mumbo-jumbo] Francis Wheen’s top 10 modern delusions

1. “God is on our side”
2. The market is rational
3. There is no such thing as reality
4. We mustn’t be “judgmental”
5. Laissez-faire capitalism is the prerequisite for trade and prosperity
6. Astrology and similar delusions are “harmless fun”
7. Thin air is solid
8. Sentimental hysteria is a sign of emotional maturity
9. America’s economic success is entirely due to private enterprise
10. “It could be you…”

January 22, 2004
[web] Attention, Please — article about how technology is constantly distracting us … ‘”Surfer’s Voice [is the] habit of half-heartedly talking to someone on the telephone while simultaneously surfing the Web, reading e-mails or trading instant messages. On one end of the phone is an annoyed colleague or family member discussing an important topic. On the other end, a party puts on a meager soundtrack of knowing participation: “OK… uh-hum… right… OK.” It is punctuated with surreptitious tapping of a keyboard. The brainy people who study these things call this phenomenon “absent presence.”‘
December 2, 2003
[tax] Amusing Fake Tax Demand Letter: ‘…I ought to point out that even if you did choose to “give the whole foul jamboree up and go and live in India” you would still owe us the money.’ [via Metafilter]
October 27, 2003
[confession] Grouphug.us — I feel guilty about continually reloading this site …

I like my girlfriend, but I’m dying to go date other girls. I know I could do a lot better than her.

I have three testicles.

i pissed on my neighbors cat… i feel really bad about it

June 12, 2003
[books] A Beautiful Mind — profile / interview of science writer Paul Broks (“the new Oliver Sacks”) …

‘What would he tell a stranger the book is about? “Without putting them off?” he asks with an uncertain smile. “That’s the difficult thing. Well it’s about how personal identity is fragile, and how at one level we’re basically meat and at another level we’re basically fiction – human beings are storytelling machines, and the self is a story, and we tell a story about ourselves, and we just pick up on the story.” He stops, defeated…’

June 5, 2003
I’ve been thinking about underpants lately … How many pairs of Underpants should a man own? Is 14 too many or too few? How many pairs of Underpants do you have? Tell Me.
May 17, 2003
[weblogs] Dating a Blogger, Reading All About It — the New York Times on the perils of knowing a blogger … ‘The proliferation of personal bloggers has led to a new social anxiety: the fear of getting blogged.’ [via Anil’s Daily Links]
April 27, 2003
[health] Confessions of a Ten-a-Day Man — William Leith looks at the painkilling industry in the UK … ‘Imagine this as a business proposition. You buy a cardboard tub of fluffy white powder for around £100. Then you turn the powder into a quarter of a million pills, which you sell at 10p per pill. Every cardboard tub you buy makes you a profit of £24,900. The powder is pure ibuprofen. The pills are painkillers. The company is Boots, which owns a subsidiary called Crookes Healthcare, which manufactures Nurofen. Sounds good, doesn’t it?’
April 17, 2003
[web] Inside the Soul of the Web — a Wired Reporter watches 24hrs of Google Searches …

‘Darkness crawls across the Atlantic and makes landfall in the Western Hemisphere. On the screen, the West Coast of the United States is ablaze with dots, while only insomniacs and night owls are still typing away in Europe. The noonday sun is now over Indonesia. This may be the strangest time of all. The predawn monsters of European imagination meet the late-night desires of North America – then all are nearly buried by a deluge of business questions, most in kanji, pouring out of Asia. Amid this flood there are also anxious queries, perhaps from emergency room doctors short of reference books and journals.’

January 15, 2003
[web] With Friends Like These — Rod Liddle on Friends Reunited‘The long, intervening years since school are assumed to have overlaid a gloss of civility, nostalgia and affection but, really, they haven’t. Radgey: you can sod right off, you little thug. So can the snivelling, boring, fat boy who, in a physics class in 1976, we wired up to the mains using crocodile clips. Zzzzapp! They have photos at Friends Reunited and he is still fat. And snivelling and boring, too. He communicated with me, the fat boy, in the manner of a much-loved, long-lost friend. But really he was just curious to see whether I was in prison yet.’
January 9, 2003
[blogs] Nico asks: ‘If you kill your clone, is it suicide or murder or both?’
January 2, 2003
[world] Our Quality of Life Peaked in 1974. It’s All Downhill Now — George Monbiot on the illusion of never-ending growth and progress … ‘Our economic system depends upon never-ending growth, yet we live in a world with finite resources. Our expectation of progress is, as a result, a delusion. This is the great heresy of our times, the fundamental truth which cannot be spoken. It is dismissed as furiously by those who possess power today – governments, business, the media – as the discovery that the earth orbits the sun was denounced by the late medieval church. Speak this truth in public and you are dismissed as a crank, a prig, a lunatic.’
December 12, 2002
[blogs] Interconnected 2002.12.12 — Matt remembers his singularity … ‘If everything about me can be traced back to an ultimate cause, if I’m an expansion from first principles, a condensation of a reality expanded from a single point, a tissue-rhizome of beliefs and values unfolded like a chinese puzzle, then my singularity was when I was ten, fourteen years ago today…’
November 12, 2002
[mobiles] ‘Hi, I’m in G2’ — a look at how the mobile phone has changed the world …

‘A friend described how she had accidentally locked herself in the bedroom after her partner had gone to work. Without a mobile, she would have been trapped in there all day. Doors slam. Buildings collapse. Far worse things happen. You go to the office, as you do every day, Monday to Friday, and one morning, an airliner intersects with your life, and you realise immediately that you are very likely to die. If there were a God, he would have noticed by now that things have become quieter, no matter how bad it gets down there; given a choice between praying, and talking to the people we love, we are bound to choose the people every time.’

November 7, 2002
[life] The Cost of Reunion — True life story which combines Friends Reunited, internet romance, sex and death … ‘Married for 22 years with a 12-year-old son, Joanne registers with Friends Reunited in January; her former fiance Tim responds in March; they meet up again for the first time in April, have sex once, and in June move in together, having seen each other only about a dozen times. The whole extraordinary process of getting to know a person – even if it is for the second time – flirting with them, falling for them and wanting them forever is concertinaed into just a few dizzying weeks – thanks to emails and mobile phones. In one four-week period they exchanged over 30,000 words in emails.’ [Related: Spouses Disunited]
November 6, 2002
[russian proverb] ‘The situation is hopeless, but not yet desperate.’
November 2, 2002
[holiday] Happy Campers — Johnny Vegas on his childhood memories of Butlins

“…the real beauty of [Butlins] was parents being able to go, ‘Right, you’re not really mine. From a certain time in the morning to a certain time at night, I don’t really care. Unless it’s something really serious, and the matron calls us.’ Because, really, there’s nothing worse than going on a family holiday, and your parents are finding things to do in the day that they think’ll be fun for you; they’re miserable, because they’d much rather be in the pub. You’re miserable, because you’re not really that arsed about castles. It was the entertain-yourselves thing at Butlin’s, while your parents were off doing their Paxo-sponsored chicken dance.” Paxo-sponsored chicken dance? “It was like the conga meets the chicken dance.”

October 17, 2002
[science] You Ask The Questions — Robert Winston‘Q: Is it true that your new series, ‘Human Instinct’, is going to explain — scientifically — why men have the urge to cheat on their partners? A: Well, the accompanying book goes into more detail. It’s because a woman’s egg is much more precious — she only produces one so it’s a huge investment. While the man produces millions of sperm that he can spread around. In the programme, we go round a university quad with a male and a female wearing a hidden camera asking the students whether they’ll sleep with them that night. All the women shy off immediately. And all the men look at their watches and say, “Yes, I’m free at 8.30”! It’s quite an important scientific point.’
October 4, 2002
[books] Angry Bed Positions from Mil Millington‘Think of it as a ‘K’. One person is in the standard half-‘X’ shape (facing away) and the other is a rigid ‘I’; lying prone, eyes wide open, staring at the ceiling. Here you lose points for style if the ‘I’ person doesn’t let out frequent sighs and snorts in an attempt to get the Half-‘X’-er to ask ‘What is it?'” [via Anglepoised]
September 20, 2002
[web] The Online Life of Bigplaty47 — from upsideclown

‘call_me_katy: why weren’t you there???? say something!!!!!
call_me_katy: I’M CRYING i thought i knew you, i thought i might love you
call_me_katy: and you do this, you did this
call_me_katy: YOURE MAKING ME CRY
call_me_katy: you have no heart. no heart at all
bigplaty47 has signed off.’

August 16, 2002
[war] Mock Cyberwar fails to end Mock Civilization‘We’ve seen cities immobilized for days by natural events like blizzards, the severest of which are often accompanied by power and communications breakdowns, financial inconveniences and failures of emergency response teams to function, and yet life goes on. Human beings simply aren’t as fragile and narcotically-dependent on state authority as the government desperately desires them to be. We shift for ourselves rather well for moderate periods of time when the infrastructure of state paternalism lets us down and the life-giving commercial heartbeat flatlines. People are remarkably good at solving problems, both individually and in small ad-hoc groups. Thus we survive earthquakes, floods, blizzards, depressions, epidemics, hurricaines, foreign occupations, famines, plagues, slavery, volcanic eruptions, sustained V-1 and V-2 bombing campaigns, and the like. If we couldn’t, we wouldn’t be here now.’
August 8, 2002
[life] Why Me? — A psychologist tells why he is sick of self-pitying patients … ‘Everywhere we look, our culture is sending us the message that if we comply, we will be spared anguish. I have bad news. A brief study of history shows that we have put ourselves behind the cosmic eight ball. Mass extinctions, the growth and contractions of empires, sudden evolutionary leaps, even our children’s growth spurts, all show the same thing: If you live on this planet, you will experience periods of calm broken up by periods of intense crisis and radical change. No life is spared.’
July 28, 2002
[booze] The Puzzling Red Wine Headache [login as: linkmachinego/linkmachinego] — this link is for Vaughan‘It may be caused by “compounds found in the skins of grapes and they are either naturally occurring or produced through fermentation,” Dr. Freitag said. He would postulate no further. “It’s not as if there are hundreds of thousands of dollars for funding” studies to determine the cause, Dr. Freitag said. There is actually a stigma to studying the subject. “I’ve entertained the idea of looking for grants to study this and I’ve been told, `Don’t go there, it’s bad P.R.,’ ” Dr. Freitag said.’ [via Follow Me Here]
June 25, 2002
[relationships] Things my girlfriend and I argue aboutMil Millington on trousers … ‘This is how clothes work with me: I need a pair of trousers, I go out and buy a pair of trousers, I wear that pair of trousers for 15 years, or until a court order compels me to buy a new pair. Buying new trousers is very quick, because it’s simply a matter of walking into a shop and saying, “I’d like a pair of trousers. I’d like them to be precisely the same as the pair I have on now, except, you know, with knees in them.” Margret is different.’
June 24, 2002
[art] Every Picture Tells A Story — Jon Ronson on a family portrait …

‘A few years ago, John Birt came in for lunch. My father approached his table: “Are you John Birt?” he asked.

“Yes,” said John Birt.

“I wonder if you can help,” said my father. “The TV reception in this area can be all crackly and fuzzy. Can you do anything about this?” I think my father wanted John Birt to get on to the roof and fix the aerial.

“We spoke about all sorts,” my father told me on the phone afterwards. “The problems I’m having with my car – he couldn’t believe that it’s been in the garage six times.”

“Oh, and he hasn’t heard of you,” added my mother, on the extension line.’

June 17, 2002
[distractions] Limber Tongue Gallery — unusual things you can do with your tongue. What can you do with your tongue? :)