September 2, 2021
[people] Michael Gove is Raving … from Mitch Benn.
August 31, 2021
[retro] Behind the scenes at Atari … A look back at the wild, early days of Atari. ‘It was during the birthday celebration of a VP who shall remain nameless, but it might have been the one who used to keep a canister of nitrous oxide and another of pure oxygen in his office. The nitrous oxide was for getting high and laughing some time away, while the oxygen was used for rapid sobering up in the event a spontaneous meeting was called (which happened regularly at Atari). As the party raged on, a small crew of revellers migrated to the small but accommodating hot tub room…’
August 24, 2021
[movies] 31 Things We Learned from Michael Mann’s ‘Manhunter’ Commentary … ‘Paranoid schizophrenics often look for messages in between the lines of signals, so that’s why Dollarhyde’s TV has the vertical hold out of sync. “It may be a completely meaningless detail to discover.”’
August 23, 2021
[netflix] Self-Learning Netflix Algorithm Produces Jeffrey Dahmer Stand-Up Special … ‘“Our proprietary algorithm has always served our viewers the most engaging content possible, and we’re thrilled to announce its latest creation, Jeffrey Dahmer: Losing It!” said Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, who shared his hopes that the infamous serial killer’s “incisive and unapologetic takes on relationships, cannibalism, the working life, drinking, necrophilia, and human dissection” would have viewers “unable to turn away” from their screens. ‘
August 20, 2021
[food] Meat-rich diet of 14th-century monks caused digestive issues, research finds … Important historical research into medieval monks laxtative recipes. ‘There is a laxative recipe featuring various fruit extracts. Or a monk can perhaps feel better if they “take a pese of soepe, make hit smale and putt it yn youre fundamewnt and then rest upon your bed”. Carter said he had no intention of trying out the recipes, “but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were highly effective”.’
August 19, 2021
[movies] Nestflix … A pretend streaming website showing fake TV shows and movies shown within real TV shows and movies. So well done!
August 17, 2021
[lego] How Lego Perfected the Recycled Plastic Brick … A look at the progress Lego are making in creating recycled plastic bricks. ‘The key here is, out of the 3,500 or so different shapes Lego produces, the 2 x 4 brick is one of the most popular it. If the company can replace such a component with a recycled plastic version, it will have a significant impact of the environmental goal of Lego to be using fully sustainable materials in its products by 2030. “We have what we call ‘high runners,’” says Brooks. For example, we know that most sets will have a 2 x 4, certainly we know pretty much every set will have a 1 x 1 dot. That is by far the most common brick that we make.”‘
August 13, 2021
[movies] RoboCop (1987) Is an Almost Perfectly Symmetrical Film … A deep dive into the structure of the original Robocop movie. ‘I have no idea if the makers of RoboCop intended for it to be so symmetrical. The fact that they accomplished this feat while still making a fast-paced action film that never feels like it’s repeating itself is simply amazing.’
August 12, 2021
[windows] What are the cool tools to install for windows? … Reddit discuss Windows apps. Mine are: Notepad++, 7zip and Irfanview.
August 11, 2021
[tech] Why CAPTCHA Pictures Are So Unbearably Depressing … ‘Here’s the thing, ultimately, about Google’s CAPTCHA images: They weren’t taken by humans, and they weren’t taken for humans. They are by AI, for AI. They thus lack any sense of human composition or human audience. They are creations of utterly bloodless industrial logic. Google’s CAPTCHA images demand you to look at the world the way an AI does.’
August 10, 2021
[comics] Comics Laureate Recommended Reading List … Great list of recommended comics from Stephen L. Holland. ‘To reach new people accessibility is all, so this isn’t a guide to the cleverest comics ever created (although they are all exceptionally clever); it’s a selection of the very finest and most beguiling which have proved to be perfect introductions to those curious about comics during my 25+ years as curator of Page 45, so often kick-starting a lifetime’s newfound adoration and exploration of our beloved medium.’
August 9, 2021
[life] Fake iceberg injures guests at Titanic museum … ‘In the most compelling evidence to date that the universe is controlled by a malevolent overlord who takes sick joy in our species’ misfortunes, visitors at a Titanic museum in Tennessee have been injured after a fake iceberg fell on them…’
August 5, 2021
[movies] The Story Behind That Richard Nixon-RoboCop Photo … ‘Hopefully for Nixon, his appearance fee for the December event made up for the fact that he didn’t even get to meet the real RoboCop. When asked in a recent email if he ever shook (held?) hands with the president, actor Peter Weller confirmed that he “never met him.”’
August 4, 2021
[music] New Order’s 30 greatest tracks – ranked! … ‘Fine Time (1989) – A baffling choice for a first single from Technique – largely instrumental, not much of a melody – Fine Time is still impossibly exciting: an urgent, clattering rhythm track, acid house squelches, sampled voices. Steve “Silk” Hurley’s remix turned it into streamlined, straightforward house music, but the idiosyncrasies of New Order’s approach to the genre are part of the appeal.’
August 2, 2021
[apollo] Here’s an unprecedented look at Apollo 13’s damaged service module / Apollo 13: Enhanced images reveal life on stricken spacecraft … Ars Technica and BBC News takes a look at a collection of digitally remastered photos from the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission. ‘While working on Apollo 13 images, Saunders said he was struck by how calm Lovell and the other two crew members, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert, appear. Much of the film he worked on was shot in the lunar module, after the oxygen tank exploded. The crew was exhausted, it was cold, and the astronauts found themselves in the gravest of situations. And yet they appeared to be in good spirits.’
July 30, 2021
[tv] Columbo: an origin story … A look at the early origins of the TV detective series and the three versions of Columbo. ‘It became a case of third time lucky for Levinson and Link (and the Lieutenant) when they heard Universal were on the lookout for good mystery scripts in 1967. The Prescription: Murder teleplay was duly picked up by the studio, but who to cast as Columbo – a character more pivotal to the story than originally intended? Lee J. Cobb, then in his 50s, is said to have been the first choice, but his schedule was too full to allow it. Bing Crosby was famously offered the role but turned it down as he was enjoying retirement (and the lure of the golf links) too much. Instead, and despite reservations about him being ‘too young’, Levinson and Link turned to Peter Falk, who had just turned 40. Filming wrapped up in late 1967. The rest, as they say, is history.’
July 29, 2021
[metafilter] What are some impeccably designed, everyday, simple objects? … I always find something interesting in these lists – and TIL that the British plug is a design classic.
July 28, 2021
[curtis] Adam Curtis Knows Exactly What’s Wrong With Right Now … The documenatary filmaker is interviewed about his latest series Can’t Get You Out of My Head.
In his new epic series, Curtis pulls together such disparate threads as Chairman Mao’s wife, Jiang Qing, the stoner duo who created the Illuminati conspiracy theory, Tupac Shakur, and Dominic Cummings. Through these personal histories – and many, many, more – the six-part film picks apart the rise of individualism, the fall of democracy, failed revolutions and corrupt systems of power, the addictive nature of social media and the combined psychological impact all of that has had on us.
July 27, 2021
[music] How we made Beat Dis by Bomb the Bass … Tim Simenon: ‘I grabbed a smiley face image from Alan Moore’s Watchmen for the sleeve and it transformed into this symbol for acid house which threw me off as it was never my intention. I would always struggle when people said: “You’re acid house.” Bomb the Bass was a lot of different things thrown together at once – there didn’t seem to be a name for that.’
July 26, 2021
[funny] Effin’ Birds … Twitter’s rudest birds.
July 11, 2021
July 21, 2021
[apollo] Alan Shepard smacked golf balls on the Moon — and now we know where they landed … It turns out that golf on the Moon is harder than you’d imagine. ‘Image specialist Andy Saunders recently analyzed archival stills taken by the astronauts with their Hasselblad cameras, as well as video from the lunar ascent module as it lifted off from the surface. Saunders managed to identify not only Shepard’s golf balls, but also his footprints from his stance and his divots. By comparing these to more recent satellite images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, Saunders was able to measure the distance on Shepard’s second shot. The result? A rather tame 40 yards (120 feet).’
July 20, 2021
[lifehacks] The Simple Genius of Checklists, from B-17 to the Apollo Missions … ‘Checklists proliferated to every corner of habitable environment of Apollo 11 and became what astronaut Michael Collins called the spacecraft’s “fourth crew member” – and, for all intents and purposes, its real commander. Checklists even covered their spacesuits, for example, the left gloves of Armstrong and Aldrin.’
July 19, 2021
[space] The little-known Soviet mission to rescue a dead space station … The true story of how Salyut 7 was saved after a total systems failure in orbit whilst uncrewed.
They floated in with their flashlights and their winter coats, and found the station cold and dark, with frost along the walls. Savinikh tried to turn the lights on—nothing, not that he expected anything. They took off their gas masks—they were making it even more difficult to see around the darkened station, and there was no smell of fire. Savinikh dived to the floor and opened the shade covering a window. A ray of sunlight fell on the ceiling, illuminating the station a little bit. They found the crackers and salt tablets that were left on the table by the previous crew—part of a traditional Russian welcoming ceremony that is still performed on the ISS today—as well as all the onboard station documentation neatly packed and secured to its shelves. All of the ventilators and other systems that normally hummed noisily were off. Savinikh recalls in his flight journal “it felt like being in an old, abandoned home. There was a deafening silence pressing upon our ears.”
July 16, 2021
July 15, 2021
[retrogaming] The Making of Micro Machines … The story of how the NES/Mega Drive classic racing game was created. ‘Graham also included a single-player Challenge mode, where players competed against computer controlled drivers over a series of races. This meant developing some kind of AI system with the game already pushing at the limits of the cart capacity. However, Gavin Raeburn, the coder behind Spectrum and C64 driving game, Rallycross Simulator, had an economical solution. ‘Essentially you cover the entire map in an invisible layer of arrows which tell each car in which direction to drive whenever it’s in that part of the map,’ says Graham. ‘So there are arrows all along the track itself, and there are arrows off the track which point back to it. That’s about as far as the AI goes. What I’ve found over the years is that people read a lot more into it!’’
July 14, 2021
[horror] Eddie Munster and me: the secret lives of spooky, sinister screen children … A look at how children cope with playing horror roles on TV and film. ‘In another film Kord references in her book – 2008’s horror-thriller The Children – the actor Eva Birthistle remembers the barely contained glee of the obstreperous child actors assigned to murder her on set. “Their confidence just grew, like, in the first week, then they were sort of … delighted they were going to kill us all,” said Birthistle.’
July 13, 2021
[comics] The First Sketch of Wonder Woman … A remarkable look at the earliest design sketches of Wonder Woman from 1941 by H.G. Peter. ‘Dear Dr. Marston, I slapped these two out in a hurry…’ [via Kottke]
July 12, 2021
[lifehacks] What tiny purchases have disproportionately improved your life? | Ask MetaFilter … ‘Good rechargeable batteries and a good charger for them are a fantastic investment in removing obnoxiousness from one’s life, especially now that nobody wants to run to the store for just one thing. Eneloop is the battery brand I settled on, with a Panasonic BQ-CC55 charger because someone who sounded like they knew what they were talking about said it was their favorite.’
July 9, 2021
[movies] How They Shot the Wrong-Way Car Chase in To Live and Die in L.A. … How William Friedkin and team created shot an unforgettable car chase for the 1985 movie To Live and Die in L.A. ‘In the narrative of the film, Chance and Vukovich are driving against traffic. But, in reality, the opposite was true. Petersen and Pankow drove in the correct direction. Meanwhile, “traffic” actually flowed backward on the wrong side of the road. This is possible to spot in several brief cuts. According to an interview with Hooker on Shout Factory’s Blu-ray release, one of the reasons Friedkin wanted Petersen and Pankow to drive in that particular direction was “because there were these beautiful oil refineries with all the lights, and it was a dusk shot. [Friedkin] wanted to see that in the background with the cars going and the only way he could do that was to reverse the flow of the traffic.”’
July 8, 2021
[web] Photopea … Amazing online photo editor – a free alternative to Photoshop that works in the browser.