linkmachinego.com

26 January 2007
[life] Ask Metafilter: What’s the term (if there is one) for a previously-unfamiliar concept that you suddenly encounter all over the place for no apparent reason?
23 January 2007
[brain] Free Will: Now You Have It, Now You Don’t — The New York Times on Free Will … [via Kottke]

‘In the 1970s, Benjamin Libet, a physiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, wired up the brains of volunteers to an electroencephalogram and told the volunteers to make random motions, like pressing a button or flicking a finger, while he noted the time on a clock. Dr. Libet found that brain signals associated with these actions occurred half a second before the subject was conscious of deciding to make them. The order of brain activities seemed to be perception of motion, and then decision, rather than the other way around. In short, the conscious brain was only playing catch-up to what the unconscious brain was already doing. The decision to act was an illusion, the monkey making up a story about what the tiger had already done.’

16 January 2007
[lifehacks] 5 Ideas for Stressful Living‘I’ve compiled a short list of ideas for those who wish to add a dash of stress into their lives – all fairly easy to implement, not to mention widely encouraged by society at large and often easily observed in the behavior of those around you…’ [via Lifehacker]
2 December 2006
[life] ‘Our two poos have combined…’ — Jon Ronson reporting from the toilets on a RyanAir Flight. ‘…here in the toilet, I have an epiphany. “If there’s someone waiting outside,” I think, “I’m going to hold the door open for them!” I nod to myself and open the door. There’s a man standing there. “Here you are!” I say cheerfully. Together, we glance at the space I’m welcoming him into – a tiny, brown, disgusting cubicle. He furrows his brow, slightly taken aback, and enters. I cram myself back in my seat. “That was a nice and well-balanced thing for me to do,” I think.’ [Related: Out Of The Ordinary: True Tales Of Everyday Craziness on Amazon]
5 July 2005
[tips] Londonist asks: Do We Need To Dry Clean?‘To maximise the length of time between launderings, air your clothes as much as possible, especially after being in a smoky pub. The posh cleaners Jeeves of Belgravia recommend hanging your clothes in the bathroom after you’ve taken a shower “to absorb the freshness.”‘
10 May 2005
[ukblog] Walking the Streets — a weblog by a Traffic Warden … ‘There’s no rotation scheme, and how the streets are managed is very much down to the feet on the street. A place might not get any visits for two weeks for one reason or another, but as soon as the problems start to build up, we’re there. It is random, it is erratic; and the methodology varies from Enforcement Officer to Enforcement Officer, which serves to keep the wrongdoers on their toes.’
9 May 2005
[life] That’s Enough Entertainment, Thanks — Armando Iannucci on “Choice Fatigue” … ‘I’ve suddenly sensed how much pressure we are under to view and hear everything. The constant thrum from the arts pages and review sections of the weekend papers, the non-stop shrill from monthly magazines and cultural round-ups on television and radio, insist that we simply have to see that film and order those CDs and set the video for the next 19 episodes of this unmissable drama. And yet, as those unread supplements pile up, as the VHS tapes filled with recordings of old but as-yet unwatched episodes of The Nazis: A Warning From History and Spaced form a mountain on the floor, what we are left with is an ever-expanding sense of failure to catch up with all the sensory experiences that have been made available to us.’
26 April 2005
[ads] London Review of Books Personal Ads‘The LRB’s own Son of Jor-El, stuck in the Phantom Zone of the personal ads for three years now. Reckon I could still lick anyone of you wusses. Man, 36. Alone. Tonight, and very possibly forever. Box no. 07/12’ [via Yoz]
3 March 2005
[ukblogs] Random Acts of Reality on Mobile Phones: ‘I’ve been trying to resuscitate dead patients when their mobile phone has rung – I look at the screen and see that the person trying to call them is “MUM”.’
7 February 2005
[coffee] Latte Nerve! — article on the gridlock caused by Starbucks offering wi-fi in their coffee shops … ‘Alex Jacobson, a 32-year-old Internet developer who spends 40 hours a week at the Union Square branch of the ubiquitous coffeehouse. “Working in my apartment became very isolating, so when Starbucks rolled out wireless, I started working here.” The advantages are manifold: For the price of two decafs a day, his new office space offers a short walk to work (he lives above the store), high-caliber eye candy (“lots of models come here in the afternoon for meetings”) and friendly co-workers (the informal network of fellow Starbucks surfers who also run their virtual empires from Javaville). The only real disadvantage: He has to take his computer with him to the bathroom.’ [via Feeling Listless]
13 January 2005
[death] Watery Grave — article about dead bodies found in the Thames and some of the stories behind them … ‘I must must have walked along, over and indeed under the River Thames hundreds of times. A bald and astounding police statistic comes back to me every time I look into its steely waters: along the 213-mile long Thames, a body is retrieved from the river on average every week. The majority (39 last year) are found in the London area.’
4 January 2005
[tech] Life Interrupted — interesting article about how multi-tasking is affecting our lives … ‘Two Harvard professors see evidence of what they call “pseudo-attention deficit disorder” — shorter attention spans influenced by technology and the constant waves of information washing over us. When the brain gets excited over some rapid data and is stimulated, it releases a “dopamine squirt,” they say.’
10 December 2004
[photos] Found Photobooth Photos: Is this You?
22 November 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.’
13 October 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.’
30 September 2004
[blogs] Random Acts of Reality: ‘The Potters Bar train crash was phoned into the Ambulance Service as a “Chest Pain”… ‘
26 September 2004
[geek] The Geek Hierarchy — where X considers themselves less geeky than Y.
10 September 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]
7 September 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]
1 September 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.’
13 August 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.’
6 July 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.’
5 July 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.’
4 July 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]
30 June 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]
15 June 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]
9 June 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.’

8 June 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.’

7 June 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.’
5 June 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.’
26 May 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]
20 May 2004
[life] 714 Things to Be Cynical About — only 714? [via Green Fairy] …

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

30 April 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]
14 April 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.”‘
6 April 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.’
8 February 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…”

22 January 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.”‘
2 December 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]
27 October 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

12 June 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…’

5 June 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.
17 May 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]
27 April 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?’
17 April 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.’

15 January 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.’
9 January 2003
[blogs] Nico asks: ‘If you kill your clone, is it suicide or murder or both?’
2 January 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.’
12 December 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…’
12 November 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.’