linkmachinego.com
January 8, 2016
[fb] An Inside Look at a Facebook Data Center …. ‘Maybe this is why some of the moments where conversation switched from the technical operations to Facebook-speak felt so awkward, but unintentionally so, like when Facebook’s algorithm decides to fill your Year in Review with pictures of an ex-boyfriend. It’s a brand that becomes harder and harder to empathize with the more it insists on trying to be empathetic, maybe because it’s not clear if there’s a distinction between an empathy engine and a branding engine or maybe because I am generationally disinclined to trust anything that’s too big to fail.’
January 7, 2016
[truecrime] Serial thrillers: why true crime is popular culture’s most wanted … a look at the rise of True Crime … ‘Even now, true crime magazines tend to be displayed by newsagents closer to porn titles than the Economist. In publishing, a market leader is John Blake Books – a firm whose lists are unlikely to come under scrutiny by judges of the Man Booker prize. Currently touted Blake titles include Doctors Who Kill and The Yorkshire Ripper: The Secret Murders. But an almost universal fascination with the extremities of human behaviour means the loftier parts of the arts also push through the police tape at crime scenes. In the 1930s, the New Yorker, the most literarily pristine of American magazines, began to profile killers of the sort that obsessed pulpier rivals. Next month marks the 50th anniversary of Truman Capote’s book In Cold Blood, which investigated, in a manner that has clearly influenced Serial, a mass killing in Kansas.’
January 6, 2016
[mh370] MH370 Was Crippled by Sudden Electrical Failure … another theory on missing Flight MH370…

In a Daily Beast special report, I examined a scenario in which a fire in the forward cargo hold of the 777, originating in a consignment of lithium-ion batteries that were being shipped on the airplane, could have breached a wall and reached the Main Equipment Center, seriously degrading the airplane’s avionics and leading to the incapacitation of the crew and passengers.

However, the avionics for the Satellite Data Unit, sending the pings, was located not in the Main Equipment Center but well clear of it, in the roof of the cabin behind the wings, because that is where the antenna to access the satellite is best positioned.

The picture in the Australian report of an airplane stricken by a sudden and extensive loss of electrical power, while in no way definitive, is entirely consistent with this scenario.

Indeed, the report gives dramatic new clarity to the “zombie flight” version of events in which the airplane, by then fatally crippled, makes one final change of course and then flies into the vast emptiness of the southern Indian Ocean without any sign of human direction or control.

January 5, 2016
[books] William Gibson on the Individual: ‘We do tend to have this unexamined assumption that the individual is a huge fucking deal. Because it feels to use that we are. Because our neurological equipment seems to demonstrate to each of us that we are quite obviously the exact center of the universe. Just as we are all, subjectively, politically quite sensibly centrist. The key to racism is that racists literally don’t know they are. They think it’s a specious category invented to shame them for simply being sensible.’
January 4, 2016
[comics] Steve Bell’s top five cartoons of the year‘Show the Queen your Tonsils! Traitor!!’
January 1, 2016
December 31, 2015
[life] Why A Double Funeral On Your Birthday Is The Best Party You’ll Ever Have … powerful piece of writing from Hayley Campbell after the death of her grandparents five days apart …

This is how you derail a therapy session: In the middle of a carpeted room with calming pot plants stooped weakly in softly lit corners, you tell a 65-year-old qualified mental health practitioner, beneath her framed medical degrees and her various accomplishments, that she doesn’t understand the American film director Michael Mann, who is not Michael Bay.

There’s a thing that happens in Michael Mann movies where too much stuff gets on top of a person and that person just burns their life to the ground and moves on. It happened in Thief — James Caan drops his bulletproof vest on the street and walks off. It happened in Heat — de Niro leaves his girlfriend in the car and disappears in the crowd. They shed the material, the personal, the emotional, their car, their girl, and they walk away.

I explained that Michael Mann film colours are a whole palette on their own, that they’re blue and orange and saturated but washed out at the same time, and that it’s weird how the colours are so strong because Michael Mann films are about men who feel nothing. The men in Michael Mann movies are obsessive and dead inside; saturated and washed-out at the same time. They don’t even feel the emotion of vomit. As a mode of dealing with a white noise of emotion in your own personal world, a Michael Mann movie is like taking an emotional sleeping pill.

December 30, 2015
[life] 33 Horrific Middle-Class Problems From 2015‘Dropped my phone in a bowl of quinoa and it’s all stuck in the charging hole, day off 2 a good start’
December 29, 2015
[blogs] The Comment Value Hierarchy … the hieracrchy of web comment posts – from on-topic to offensive. ‘Unwelcome – Snarky comment taking a dig at the blogger rather than the post’
December 28, 2015
[people] Donald Trump Really Doesn’t Want Me to Tell You This, but… Mark Bowden remembers a weekend with Donald Trump …

He was like one of those characters in an 18th-century comedy meant to embody a particular flavor of human folly. Trump struck me as adolescent, hilariously ostentatious, arbitrary, unkind, profane, dishonest, loudly opinionated, and consistently wrong. He remains the most vain man I have ever met. And he was trying to make a good impression. Who could have predicted that those very traits, now on prominent daily display, would turn him into the leading G.O.P. candidate for president of the United States?

His latest outrageous edict on banning all Muslims from entering the country comes as no surprise to me based on the man I met nearly 20 years ago. He has no coherent political philosophy, so comparisons with Fascist leaders miss the mark. He just reacts. Trump lives in a fantasy of perfection, with himself as its animating force.

December 27, 2015
[uk] 14 Weird British Laws, Factchecked‘It is illegal to handle salmon in suspicious circumstances. True. This is illegal under the Salmon Act of 1986, apparently. Alas, the Law Commission did not elaborate on what counts as a suspicious way to handle salmon.’
December 26, 2015
[comics] Raymond Briggs: ‘Don’t call me the king of Christmas. I don’t like children, I try to avoid them’ … cartoonist Raymond Briggs on Christmas… Indeed, Briggs argues, far from being an advocate for Christmas, he hates the event. “I don’t like the Christmas thing at all. It’s so full of anxiety – have I got enough stuff? Where am I going to go? What should I get for presents? I just give cheques these days because I can’t buy things for teenagers. It’s a bit impersonal but what can you do?” Briggs has watched the new Fungus on a friend’s laptop – “I’m too old and too tired to trek up to first nights [screening], much as I would have liked to go” – and says it “seemed perfectly OK; they always do these things very well”. This is high praise considering he still finds the adaptation of The Snowman “corny” despite conceding that “film-making is a very different form from books and you have to make something commercially viable so putting Father Christmas in as [producer] John Coates suggested was right, even though I hated it at the time.” There’s a rather gloomy pause before he adds Eeyorishly: “Of course, he’s dead now, like everybody else.”
December 25, 2015
[comics] “Never Kill A Santa Claus” By Nick Cardy [via Forbidden Planet’s Blog] …

Never Kill A Santa Claus

December 24, 2015
[xmas] All You Need To Know About Brussels Sprouts‘34% of family arguments start by someone being honest about their hatred of sprouts.’
December 23, 2015
[xmas] The Evolution of Christmas … Diamond Geezer on the way Christmas has changed in the UK …

mid 1990s Xmas: Demand to see the Double Issue Radio Times

mid 2000s Xmas: Demand to use your parents’ PC to check your email

mid 2010s Xmas: Demand your host’s wifi password the minute you enter their home

December 22, 2015
[religion] The Scientology Christmas Catalog Is Totally Insane … a look inside The Scientology Christmas Catalog. The Hubbard Professional Mark Ultra VIII™ E-Meter (Price: $5,000) – ‘Please note that the Mark Ultra VIII comes with free electrodes! “Our gift to you,” the copy says. Why, you’d practically be losing money if you didn’t buy the thing now. These electrodes look like anal-probing suppositories, but you actually hold them in your hand while the church’s local hired goon audits you. I assume the fancier e-meters come with free nipple clamps.’
December 21, 2015
[hell] £26 charge to pick up fallen pensioners ‘is proof mankind now living in hell’‘Tendring local council in Essex have decided to charge pensioners who are already paying for care an extra £26 if they fall over, and this is the clearest sign anyone could want that humans are now living a miserable cursed existence in the pits of hades. A spokesperson for Tendring council confirmed that this was indeed the case, saying: “We have a responsibility to balance funding for all non-essential projects, and exist only to serve our Lord Satan, the great evil master.” Most people were of the opinion that the Hell thing was no excuse for Tendring council’s behaviour.’
December 18, 2015
[books] Tell me about your favorite nonfiction ‘mysteries’! … Some of Ask Metafilter’s favourite non-fiction mystery books … ‘Nonfiction books I’ve read that scratch the “mystery” itch include The Cuckoo’s Egg (computer programmer tracking down a hacker), All the President’s Men (needs no introduction), and Black Mass (Boston reporters on the trail of Whitey Bulger). I’m looking for more like these — well-written, smartly paced accounts of intrepid investigators getting to the bottom of some convoluted problem…’
December 17, 2015
[headlines] Evening Standard Billboard Flashback: December 2005 …

Evening Standard Billboards: December 2005

December 16, 2015
[politics] Is Donald Trump Actually a Narcissist? Therapists Weigh In!‘For mental-health professionals, Donald Trump is at once easily diagnosed but slightly confounding. “Remarkably narcissistic,” said developmental psychologist Howard Gardner, a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education. “Textbook narcissistic personality disorder,” echoed clinical psychologist Ben Michaelis. “He’s so classic that I’m archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there’s no better example of his characteristics,” said clinical psychologist George Simon, who conducts lectures and seminars on manipulative behavior. “Otherwise, I would have had to hire actors and write vignettes. He’s like a dream come true.”’
December 15, 2015
[whatif] The Ethics of Killing Baby Hitler … the reasons why a time-traveller shouldn’t kill Baby Hitler …

These questions should inspire two feelings. The first is humility. We can never know what a universe without Hitler would have looked like. But the implicit argument that his removal would improve history must also consider that his removal could make it worse. Indeed, recent experience should make us doubt our abilities to bend the course of human events towards our will. The Bush administration naively claimed that toppling Saddam Hussein in 2003 would produce a vibrant liberal democracy in the largely illiberal Middle East. Instead it brought about regional instability, ethnic cleansing, civil war, and ISIS.

The second is relief. We live in cynical times, which masks the fact that we live in extraordinary times. Atrocities still occur, but human rights are now a normative value throughout most of the world, even if their enforcement is imperfect. Conflicts are still fought, but the great powers have avoided another world war for seven decades. Racism and anti-Semitism still exist, but pre-war forms of colonialism and pogroms have largely disappeared. This is not the future for which Nazi Germany fought and fell. Removing Hitler from history would gamble with one irrefutable truth: He lost.

December 14, 2015
[space] American satellite started transmitting 46 years after being abandoned in 1967 … the remarkable story of a derelict satellite that’s starting operating again … ‘Phil Williams G3YPQ from near Bude noticed its peculiar signal drift caused by its tumbling end over end every 4 seconds as the solar panels become shadowed by the engine. ‘This gives the signal a particularly ghostly sound as the voltage from the solar panels fluctuates’ Phil says. It is likely that the on board batteries have now disintegrated and some other component failure has caused the transmitter on 237Mhz, to start up when its in sunlight.’
December 11, 2015
[xmas] Office staff terrified after dyslexic co-worker organises Secret Satan‘Workers have described how their festive decorations this year have included lights which flicker disconcertingly and a CD which is either Cliff Richard’s Greatest Christmas Hits or the tormented squealing of a thousand damned pigs, it’s difficult to be sure.’
December 10, 2015
[comics] How we made 2000 AD … Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill on creating 2000AD … Kevin O’Neill: ‘That anti-authoritarian streak is part of the British character: it ran through Dennis the Menace and all the Beano stuff. Judge Dredd was never meant to be serious: the idea of shooting jaywalkers is just very, very funny. I loved the story about the oxygen board on the moon cutting off people’s supply if they didn’t pay their bills. We had to tone things down quite heavily. On the day the first issue went to press, we were whiting out blood and tidying up severed limbs. It was an out-of-control section of the building. NME, who were often in trouble as well, were just a couple of floors above. Our neighbours Buster hated us because we were having fun and swearing. I didn’t think 2000 AD would last a year.’
December 9, 2015
[comics] Ian Rankin’s Favourite Comics‘Elektra Assassin – Miller again but this time with jaw-dropping art by Bill Sienkiwicz. Even when the story seemed to make no sense to me, I could just stare at those pages, bathing in their use of colour, the psychedelia of it all. Great comics stimulate the eye and engage the brain. That’s why I love them.’
December 8, 2015
[comics] Bob Hope and the Golden Rule … When Bob Hope teached religious ethics in the back of comics … ‘Get Wise, Son, and join the Human Race!’

Bob Hope and the Golden Rule

December 7, 2015
[xmas] Here Are All the Things You’re Going to Have to Do In December … Vice on the Festive Season… ‘Mulled wine that you make at home with a decent bottle of red and an orange studded with cloves and sugar and spices gently crumbled and tied in muslin bags and warmed gently on the stove for hours until the kitchen smells like Christmas and then you take a special mug (you bought special mugs) and decant a cup and lift it to your lips and: oh, it’s just hot wine. You’ve made hot wine. Two hours, that took. Hot wine.’
December 4, 2015
[law] One lawyer’s crusade to defend extreme pornography … fascinating profile of Myles Jackman‘Jackman fervently believes he has to lead a crusade against what he sees as the unjust obscenity laws and that he absolutely must succeed – or else fail himself, his allies and the wider cause of civilisation as he sees it. He maintains that pornography is a class issue, a gender issue, a philosophical issue, a freedom issue, an everything issue. (One of his many dicta: “Pornography is the canary in the coal mine of free speech.”) And his campaign is against both state and statutes alike. By day, beneath the dark lawyerly suits that strain to contain him, he likes to wear Batman socks; by night, he wears Batman T-shirts. In the last six years or so, he has transformed himself from being just another lawyer into the Batman of obscenity.’
December 3, 2015
[guardian] 22 Times We Reached Peak Guardian In 2015‘Do you have to be middle-class to like rocket? (I think it’s horrible)’ [link]
December 2, 2015
[london] Sexy Fish: not so much a restaurant as a museum of London’s rich … amusing review from Tanya Gold of a new fish restaurant for the super-rich in London … ‘It is huge — a former NatWest — and decorated with a glittering Frank Gehry crocodile, a Damien Hirst mermaid — how did Hirst ever pass for revolutionary? — and Iran. (Apologies. I misread the PR babble. The floor is from Iran.) The golden ceiling — which I read about in the London Evening Standard, because ceilings can be news, if they are ‘it’ ceilings — is apparently by the style-editor-at-large of Vanity Fair, which I thought was a made-up job but apparently is not. In the basement private room there is a fish tank, where the ‘sexy’ fish — brightly coloured, minute and somehow heartbreaking — swim like tiny fishy slaves. I have never seen a restaurant whose ethos is so clearly and comprehensively, so preeningly and unapologetically: ‘Fuck you, I’m rich and I want a golden cave and servants. I want a pony and all the hookers I can strangle. I want a pyramid of cocaine and an Audi -Quattro.’ It is like being punched in the face by Abu Dhabi.’

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