April 15, 2019
[brexit] TV fans delighted as Brexit renewed for another season … ‘Television critics have never been keen on Brexit and many cite it as the only show which managed to jump the shark before it even began. “Good writing in any genre is founded on truth,” said critic Victoria Dean. “There was just so much unbelievable guff in Brexit’s trailer that it was obviously going to be a shit show. “I mean, all that stuff written on the bus! The ‘breaking point’ poster. The cartoon villains with no shred of humanity.”’
April 12, 2019
[web] The People Who Hated the Web Even Before Facebook … Interesting look at early skeptical views of the Web in the 1990s. ‘Ellen Ullman, who has continued to critique the tech world from the inside, might have made the most perfect critique of how the human desire for convenience would rule how technology was seen. “The computer is about to enter our lives like blood in the capillaries,” she wrote. “Soon, everywhere we look, we will see pretty, idiot-proof interfaces designed to make us say, ‘OK.’” The on-demand economy would rule. “We don’t need to involve anyone else in the satisfaction of our needs,” she wrote.’
April 11, 2019
[people] Ghosting … seems like a good time to repost this – long read from Andrew O’Hagan on what it’s like ghostwriting for Julian Assange. ‘I am sure this is what happens in many of his scrapes: he runs on a high-octane belief in his own rectitude and wisdom, only to find later that other people had their own views – of what is sound journalism or agreeable sex – and the idea that he might be complicit in his own mess baffles him. Fact is, he was not in control of himself and most of what his former colleagues said about him just might be true. He is thin-skinned, conspiratorial, untruthful, narcissistic, and he thinks he owns the material he conduits. It may turn out that Julian is not Daniel Ellsberg or John Wilkes, but Charles Foster Kane, abusive and monstrous in his pursuit of the truth that interests him, and a man who, it turns out, was motivated all the while not by high principles but by a deep sentimental wound. Perhaps we won’t know until the final frames of the movie.’
April 10, 2019
[brexit] EU Files Adoption Papers For Scotland, Northern Ireland … ‘Whereas Wales and England, the older siblings of Scotland And Northern Ireland, both voted to leave the EU and are perfectly happy to do so, the EU is making moves to rescue the ‘poor weans’ in the UK who voted to remain…’
April 9, 2019
[life] Mickey Rooney’s Wacko Businesses from Mickey’s Weenie World to Mickey’s Tip-offs Disposable … It turns out that Mickey Rooney had many wacky businesses! ‘To Mr. Rooney, every phrase suggests a book title, every person a character for a show, every mouthful a fast-food empire. ”He’s so creative it verges on insanity,” said his dresser Tony Buonauro. Mr. Rooney had written six unpublished novels and and had “Eight or 10 filmscripts ready for production. Scripts for all genres: a horror film for Bette Davis, a thriller for Glen Ford, and television pilots that range from ”Roughshod,” a Western, to ”The Discoverers,” which Mr. Rooney describes as ”the episodic adventures of Balboa, Cortez and Ponce De Leon.” One favorite was ”The Picture Nobody Should See.” ”It’s about Charlie and Hazel Crow,” says Mr. Rooney, ”a milkman and his wife who set out to make a porno film. That’s the picture nobody should see.” He claps his hands. ”It’s a picture within a picture!”’ [thanks @ModernDayNTK]
April 8, 2019
[potatos] Mickey Rooney’s Potato Fantasy … ‘Potatos Every Way Mickey Likes ‘Em!’
April 4, 2019
[space] Apollo astronauts left their poop on the moon. NASA ought to go back for that shit. … Is there life on the Moon feft behind in astronaut’s excrement that was jettisoned from Moon Landers? … ‘After Neil Armstrong descended from the Eagle lander, becoming the first human to set foot on the moon, the very first picture he took on the surface shows, yes, the moon’s cratered surface, but also a white jettisoned trash bag (or jett bag). I can’t confirm there are feces in this particular bag (Buzz Aldrin declined to comment for this story), but there’s definitely one like it on the moon that contained or still contains human waste, according to the NASA History Office.’
April 3, 2019
[movies] The ultimate guide to analog control panels in sci-fi movies … A look at of the retro-tech in classic science-fiction movies. ‘Of all our control panel selections, Alien might have the most functional looking one. That’s because the production designer, Ron Cobb, constantly worked from the idea that everything should have a legitimate purpose. Cobb went as far as making legitimate real world safety signs for fixtures and airlocks.’
April 2, 2019
[brxit] How the UK lost the Brexit battle … A longread on why Brexit is failing. ‘For many around May, that a crash would come had been obvious for months. As far back as July 2018, senior figures inside No. 10 Downing Street had warned that her deal, as it was shaping up, was unsustainable. There was just no way a majority in parliament could be assembled for the Brexit the EU was offering. In truth, the trains had been set in motion far earlier — the collision was the culmination of decisions taken by both sides within the hours, weeks and months that followed the referendum. The EU’s determination not to cut London a special deal; Cameron’s decision to walk away; May’s sweeping promise not to raise a border in Ireland, while at the same time drawing incompatible red lines — something had to give, and it would not be Brussels.’
April 1, 2019
[privacy] A Few Simple Steps to Vastly Increase Your Privacy Online … straight-forward list of ways to inprove your privacy on the internet in 2019. ‘Switch to Firefox as your browser on all devices. I’m not a Chrome or Edge hater, I’m just lazy. I don’t want to parse whether each new update contains a privacy regression or new settings I need to worry about. I just want a browser that has more of my best interests in mind. Firefox is developed by a non-profit company, Mozilla, explicitly dedicated to users’ needs…’
March 29, 2019
[brexit] Happy #BrexitDay …
March 28, 2019
[books] A Definitive Ranking of Iain M. Banks’s Culture Novels … ‘Use of Weapons – It’s a dark, complex, unnerving, and deconstructive portrait of a character who, in any other writer’s hands, might have been sketched out as a straight-forward “galactic hero” archetype, winning the day with wits and a gun. While it’s often considered to be the high point of the series (and works hard to earn that title), the finicky nature of the narrative structure and some of the extreme sociopathy shown by heroes and villains alike make it much more than escapist reading. An amazing book, but an uncomfortable one.’
March 27, 2019
[tv] Is This Time Alan Partridge’s last Aha!? … Reviewing Alan Partridge’s latest TV series. ‘Thing is, as the Gibbons brothers have noted, by 21st-century standards of discourse, he is frighteningly plausible. When he mutters aloud about his wife being an “awful woman” on air, it reminds of Donald Trump’s “nasty woman” remark during the Presidential debates – there is too much about Trump that is Partridgean, or vice-versa. Similarly, that Piers Morgan now co-hosts a breakfast show has raised the suggestion that Partridge is redundant. Which is unfair on Alan – he is a psychologically complex, not entirely unlikable character whereas Morgan is a flat-out, flat-track tedious boor lacking Alan’s residual moral fibre.’
March 26, 2019
[disaster] Normalization of Deviance … a fascinating look at why disasters happen.
Because here’s the thing: most of the time when there’s a Serious Problem™, it’s not just one event. Disasters aren’t caused by one small event: it’s an avalanche of problems that we survived up until now until they all happen at once.
March 25, 2019
[web] Killed by Google – The Google Graveyard & Cemetery … A list of products shutdown by Google. ‘Google Reader – 2005 – 2013. Killed over 5 years ago, Google Reader was a RSS/Atom feed aggregator. It was over 7 years old.’
March 22, 2019
March 21, 2019
[morris] Was Thomas Kuhn Evil? … Nice overview of Errol Morris’ big problems with Thomas Kuhn. ‘Morris, who calls his philosophy “investigative realism,” writes, “I feel very strongly that, even though the world is unutterably insane, there is this idea—perhaps a hope—that we can reach outside of the insanity and find truth, find the world, find ourselves.” Kuhn, for all his faults, goaded Morris into writing a brilliant work of investigative realism.’
March 20, 2019
[iphone] The first iPhone prototype: an exclusive look at Apple’s red M68 … A rare look at a prototype of the original iPhone … ‘On this particular development board, there’s even a screen, but the iPhone’s home button (known here as the menu button) is mounted on the board to the left of the display, and the power and volume buttons are on the left-hand side of the board. We got a chance to boot this prototype, and it simply powers up to the Apple logo. Engineers using this particular board would have booted into something similar to a command prompt to test kernel changes.’
March 19, 2019
[alien] Ridley Scott’s Masterpiece ‘Alien’: Nothing Is as Terrifying as the Fear of the Unknown … Interesting collection of digital artefacts from the horror movie Alien including the screenplay. ‘The visuals are fascinating, but they alone would not have resulted in a brilliant horror flick had the pacing been any different. Scott deliberately let the story unfold slowly, gradually, respecting Hitchcock’s regard for the crucial importance of suspense. It is the waiting that’s killing us, it’s the feeling of being isolated and helpless that overwhelms us, it’s the silence and uneventfulness that bring about the feeling of upcoming horror, it’s this patience and restraint that makes the elements of pure terror so damn effective.’
March 18, 2019
[brexit] The simple guide to Brexit … Diamond Geezer’s Brexit outlines. ‘Nationwide chaos’
March 15, 2019
March 14, 2019
[comics] 50 Things Mike Sterling has learned from, or discovered about, comic book retail over the last thirty or so years … ‘All those foil/die-cut/hologram covers from the ’90s nearly did the industry in, but customers today who weren’t around then for all that nonsense think those fancy covers are great now! I can even sell Turok #1s!’
[brexit] Theresa May planned to defeat herself, then decided not to defeat herself by defeating herself, then lost. To herself … Tom Peck’s Political Sketch of what happened last night in Parliment.
Theresa May has spent the last three years saying “no deal is better than a bad deal”. She’s allocated £4bn of public money to preparing for no deal. And then, on Wednesday evening, she was expected to walk through the division lobbies and vote to rule out no deal.
March 13, 2019
[comics] The Really, Really Missing Alan Moore … Lance Parkin’s listing of Alan Moore’s unstarted and unfinished projects. ‘There are two missing novels. The first is Yuggoth Cultures, a Lovecraft-inspired piece. The second is A Grammar, a psychogeographical work about a path between Northampton and the Welsh border, or a train track between the East Coast and Cardiff, depending which interview you read.’
March 12, 2019
[movies] Why is pop culture obsessed with battles between good and evil? … An interesting look at why modern stories tend to be narratives about Good Guys vs. Bad Guys. ‘It’s no coincidence that good guy/bad guy movies, comic books and games have large, impassioned and volatile fandoms – even the word ‘fandom’ suggests the idea of a nation, or kingdom. What’s more, the moral physics of these stories about superheroes fighting the good fight, or battling to save the world, does not commend genuine empowerment. The one thing the good guys teach us is that people on the other team aren’t like us. In fact, they’re so bad, and the stakes are so high, that we have to forgive every transgression by our own team in order to win.’
March 11, 2019
[comics] A Tank Knows No Mercy-Jack Kirby/Steve Ditko-1960 … A war story with pencils from Jack Kirby and inks by Steve Ditko.
March 8, 2019
[lists] The Best Unusual Articles on Wikipedia … List of amusing time-wasting articles on Wikipedia. Check out Jesus H. Christ, Calculator Spelling and the Cadaver Synod.
March 7, 2019
[life] Mob deep: Russian mafia gravestones … Collection of oddly compelling photo-realistic gravestones of Russian gangsters and family.
March 6, 2019
[winning] ‘I’d get 400 toilet rolls at a time’: how it feels to win a lifetime supply … amusing look at what it’s like to win a life-time supply competition. ‘The toilet rolls started arriving three months later. I was at design school in Orange County and living in a rented room, so my housemates were pretty excited when I got a phone call from UPS saying there was a big order for me to pick up. I pulled up at the depot in my Mini Cooper expecting a large package, and was met by two pallets, piled high with about 20 boxes, containing hundreds of rolls. I couldn’t get it all in the car. I folded the seats down, opened up boxes and shoved packets in every footwell. I was sweating. It was like something out of a movie. This would happen every two or three months; I would receive up to 400 rolls at a time. I’d go to the warehouse, or a haulage truck would pull up outside my house…’
March 5, 2019