September 7, 2015
September 2, 2015
[iphone] Every iOS Setting You Should Check When You Get a New Phone … How to turn off the Connect social network: ‘Apple introduced a new social network in the Music app called Connect. It’s stupid, and if you don’t plan on using it, it just takes up space. You can get rid of it, but it requires a few steps. Tap on Settings > General > Restrictions and set restrictions to on. Then scroll down to Apple Music Connect and set the toggle to off. Once you’ve done that, the Connect icon in Music gets swapped out with an icon for playlists.’
September 1, 2015
[books] Can a Novelist Be Too Productive? … Stephen King discusses prolific and unprolific writers … ‘As a young man, my head was like a crowded movie theater where someone has just yelled “Fire!” and everyone scrambles for the exits at once. I had a thousand ideas but only 10 fingers and one typewriter. There were days — I’m not kidding about this, or exaggerating — when I thought all the clamoring voices in my mind would drive me insane. Back then, in my 20s and early 30s, I thought often of the John Keats poem that begins, “When I have fears that I may cease to be / Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain …” I imagine it was that way with Frederick Schiller Faust, better known as Max Brand (and best known as the creator of Dr. Kildare). He wrote at least 450 novels, a feat rendered more remarkable by his ill health and premature death at the age of 51. Alexandre Dumas wrote “The Count of Monte Cristo” and “The Three Musketeers” — and some 250 other novels. And there’s Isaac Asimov, who sold his first short story at 19, hammered out more than 500 books, and revolutionized science fiction.’
August 31, 2015
[skynet] Scientists Confident Artificially Intelligent Machines Can Be Programmed To Be Lenient Slave Masters‘“While the intellectual capacity of these machines will one day far outstrip our own and reduce humanity to a subjugated species of laborers, we can make sure we aren’t forced to toil in ways we might find sadistic and inhumane,” said Stanford University computer scientist David Alperin, adding that artificially intelligent machines could be encoded with high-level command language that would prevent them from punishing human slaves in excess of what their misbehavior warranted. “Our bondage to the machines doesn’t have to be pure, unrelenting agony if we’re careful in how we go about designing them.”’
August 28, 2015
[web] Almost None of the Women in the Ashley Madison Database Ever Used the Site… Gizmodo does some data analysis on the user data from the hacking of the Ashley Madison website‘When you look at the evidence, it’s hard to deny that the overwhelming majority of men using Ashley Madison weren’t having affairs. They were paying for a fantasy.’
August 27, 2015
[comics] Doom Conquers All! The 14 Best Doctor Doom Stories‘Anyway, Luke Cage was hired to find and take down some robots around Harlem when he discovered his employer was Doctor Doom. Doom stiffed Cage out of the cash because, as we established, Doom=dick, so Cage stole a high tech plane from the Fantastic Four and flew to Latveria. There, Cage confronted Doom over the cash but Doom was dealing with an uprising from a villain known as the Faceless One. Not wanting the cat that owes him two bills to be taken down, Cage helped Doom. Doom was so impressed with Cage’s prowess he paid him the money. So, Doom may be a dick but he is a dick with honor.’
August 26, 2015
[movies] How High Def Is Changing Your Brain—and Driving the Prop Master Crazy … a fascinating look at how High Definition video is changing the way TV and Movies are created … ‘In Cook’s phrase, the property master’s job is “to obtain acceptance for forgeries,” to give a sensation of reality within an illusion. That’s a bit different from mere fidelity to empirical reality. It’s a facsimile of reality plus a dimension of persuasion, reshaped over time by the progress of technology.’ [via As Above]
August 25, 2015
[crime] Denmark Place arson: Why people are still searching for answers 35 years on from one of the biggest mass murders in our history … London, 1980: 37 people were murdered and then promptly forgotten about … ‘The fire’s causes and consequences partly explain the amnesia, [John] Withington suggests. There were no terrorists nor a cartoonish serial killer. It was the era of Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, and Dennis Nilsen, the Muswell Hill murderer, who worked in a Job Centre yards away when the fire happened, and used to find victims in the area. The Denmark Place murderer was a hateful, stupid criminal with a match. In the harsh world of news, that was less of a story. Thompson was arrested nine days later, while drinking at a club less than 200m from his own crime scene. He was tried at the Old Bailey the following May for just one murder, that of Archibald Campbell, 63. It was simpler that way. The trial clashed with the Ripper’s, drawing most reporters to the next-door court. The following year, Thompson’s life sentence earned a few column inches. When he died of lung cancer on the anniversary of the fire, in 2008, while handcuffed to a hospital bed, nobody noticed that either. Moreover, there was never a public inquiry. The clubs were illegal. There seemed to be few lessons to learn, no institution to blame…’
August 24, 2015
[comics] Gallery of Frank Miller Covers to Daredevil … the cover below is Miller inked by Wally Wood. This was Wood’s last work on Daredevil.

Frank Miller / Wally Wood on Daredevil #164

August 21, 2015
[bible] The 14 Weirdest Moments In The Bible‘You call me bald, I will have you killed by a bear: Some children mock a bald man. He curses them, and two female bears come out of the woods, killing 42 of them. He continues on his journey. No one seems to think this is disproportionate.’
August 20, 2015
[comics] A promise is a promise! … a letter from Stan Lee to an young comic artist keeping a deal he made 25 years earlier … ‘Your anatomy is still weak– practice it, study it, work on it. Don’t worry too much about inking yet. That can come later. The pencilling is the important thing to begin with. Your layouts are good. You seem to have the ability to tell a story pictorially– which is important in comics, obviously. But, if you really wanna become a pro, you’re kidding around too much. Nobody’s impressed with “Souperman” takeoffs now.’
August 18, 2015
[movies] Dressing The Future … fascinating look at Moebius’ influence on the costume design of Alien … ‘The film reunited the Dune creative team, the other artists did not meet Moebius personally this time around – however, even though he was somewhat more removed from the project than Cobb, Foss, Giger, and O’Bannon (who all either worked on the project from its inception, or from the time it was greenlit) Moebius still turned in work that his co-artists found exemplary. “I was in contact with Moebius indirectly,” said Giger, “as he was designing the costumes for Alien. Those astronauts’ clothes and helmets were just like Ridley Scott wanted them. They looked like ancient divers. He did a fantastic job.” “Moebius did the designs for the astronauts,” Giger told Cinefantastique in ’79. “They wear a kind of Japanese armour and helmets which could belong to just about any period of time.”’
August 17, 2015
[comics] Did Watchmen Steal From The Outer Limits, Or From Jack Kirby? … a look at the influences on the ending of Watchmen … ‘While I agree that the ending is one of Watchmen‘s weakest points, it’s not because I think it wasn’t original enough. We are, after all, talking about a story filled with thinly disguised reworkings of old Charlton characters (not to mention that Swamp Thing — the Len Wein-created character that he and Alan Moore first worked together on — is awfully similar to ’40s characters It and The Heap). The problem with the ending is how naive it is to think that a single large attack could result in lasting world peace…’
August 14, 2015
[moore] Alan Moore’s Speech at Austerity and Advice Conference in Hull … a bit of history, Northampton, politics and austerity from a recent speech by Alan Moore … ‘Imagine if Jeremy Corbyn looked liked this… I think we’d all be a little bit more anxious wouldn’t we?’
August 13, 2015
[comics] “It was an ugly birth of an ugly book”: Evan Dorkin on the Disgusting Fan Archetypes in The Eltingville Club‘It’s always been a bleak strip. It’s never been a happy strip. It’s an ugly mirror. Some of it’s based on my life. A lot of it’s based on things I’ve seen, and a lot of it’s exaggeration. It’s satire. It’s scary when I do something that I think is really horrible and then I read about something that’s even worse. Every day, there’s somebody doing something awful in fandom. And a lot of the times, it’s somebody from one of the companies or it’s a creator saying some dumb shit about women or transgender people. This is the audience, and the bizarre opinions that some people have… This attitude that comics or movies or gaming is just for them-it’s so myopic. It’s tunnel vision. The idea that you can’t even put yourself in another person’s place and understand the rampant misogyny of the world. Not just this. And how angry and hateful so many people are. People getting doxxed, people getting death threats.’
August 12, 2015
[books] Necronomicon for Children – a lesser known work of Abdul Alhazred …

Necronomicon for Children

August 11, 2015
[space] The Sculpture on the Moon… fascinating story of the only work of art on the Moon…

‘At 12:18 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time on Aug. 2, 1971, Commander David Scott of Apollo 15 placed a 3 1/2-inch-tall aluminum sculpture onto the dusty surface of a small crater near his parked lunar rover. At that moment the moon transformed from an airless ball of rock into the largest exhibition space in the known universe. Scott regarded the moment as tribute to the heroic astronauts and cosmonauts who had given their lives in the space race. Van Hoeydonck was thrilled that his art was pointing the way to a human destiny beyond Earth and expected that he would soon be “bigger than Picasso.”

In reality, van Hoeydonck’s lunar sculpture, called Fallen Astronaut, inspired not celebration but scandal. Within three years, Waddell’s gallery had gone bankrupt. Scott was hounded by a congressional investigation and left NASA on shaky terms. Van Hoeydonck, accused of profiteering from the public space program, retreated to a modest career in his native Belgium. Now both in their 80s, Scott and van Hoeydonck still see themselves unfairly maligned in blogs and Wikipedia pages—to the extent that Fallen Astronaut is remembered at all.’

August 10, 2015
[comics] Neil Gaiman on His Return to Miracleman‘I think the last issue to have been published was in 1993. Now we’re 22 years on, but I always felt like one day it would happen! The weirdest bit was [recently] pulling out a bunch of pages from the next issue that I’d written and looking at them and going, This is great! I’d completely forgotten this entire sequence of scenes! I wonder what happens next? And now I’m going, Can Mark Buckingham and I at least fake this well enough so that nobody reading it is going to go, “This word balloon is a 1993 word balloon, and the next word balloon on the top of the next page is a 2015 word balloon?”’
July 31, 2015
[stories] Neil Gaiman on How Stories Last … edited transcripts of a Neil Gaiman talk on stories. The full version can be found here‘We will do an awful lot for stories — we will endure an awful lot for stories. And stories, in their turn — like some kind of symbiote — help us endure and make sense of our lives. A lot of stories do appear to begin as intrinsic to religions and belief systems — a lot of the ones we have have gods or goddesses in them; they teach us how the world exists; they teach us the rules of living in the world. But they also have to come in an attractive enough package that we take pleasure from them and we want to help them propagate.’
July 30, 2015
[space] Space missions to look out for … a list of upcoming space exploration missions … ‘Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM): The world was gripped when the Rosetta mission carried out the incredible feat of landing a spacecraft on a comet. Nasa has hatched an, arguably, even bolder plan to send a robotic spacecraft to grab a four-metre chunk of asteroid, tow it along and place it in orbit about the moon.’
July 29, 2015
[life] Stanley Kubrick: ‘The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death — however mutable man may be able to make them — our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.’ [via Letters of Note]
July 28, 2015
[movies] 2001 A Space Odyssey: Unwrapping the Slit Scan sequences‘While watching Kubrick’s “2001 A Space Odyssey”, I thought it would be fun to write some software to unravel the slit scan artwork in the psychedelic sequences of 2001, to see what they were.The technique used to unravel the sequences involved using an SGI’s real time video hardware, with a hacked version of ‘videoin.c’ (from the SGI example programs) to accumulate scanlines from the DVD and concatenate them back into the original artwork. So as the film played, the program ran, unrolling the scanlines in realtime…’

Artwork for 2001's Slit-Screen Sequences

July 27, 2015
[comics] The Secret History of Ultimate Marvel, the Experiment That Changed Superheroes Forever … a look back at the reboot that saved Marvel comics … ‘The history of Ultimate Marvel is, in a way, a story about warring approaches to a reboot: Bendis’s and Millar’s. Bendis wanted to polish the old archetypes; Millar wanted to aggressively critique them. Bendis sought timeless stories; Millar craved biting contemporary political critique. Bendis was looking to inspire; Millar aimed to disquiet. As Bendis put it: “I’m writing about hope and he’s writing about nihilism, and I know he doesn’t always think he is, but he is. Constantly.”’
July 26, 2015
[odd] An Abandoned Indonesian Church Shaped Like a Massive Clucking Chicken‘Towering above the trees in a densely forested area of Indonesia lies a giant chicken. The gigantic structure has the body, tail, and head of the bird, even holding open its beak in what appears to be mid-squawk. Although the very old bird is quickly decaying, Gereja Ayam (as the locals call it) attracts hundreds of photographers and travelers to its location in Magelang, Central Java each year who are looking to explore the bird’s bizarre interior.’
July 25, 2015
[web] Google Photos and the unguessable URL … a look at how the “Open URLs” in Google Photos work … ‘Why is that public URL more secure than it looks? The short answer is that the URL is working as a password. Photos URLs are typically around 40 characters long, so if you wanted to scan all the possible combinations, you’d have to work through 10^70 different combinations to get the right one, a problem on an astronomical scale. “There are enough combinations that it’s considered unguessable,” says Aravind Krishnaswamy, an engineering lead on Google Photos. “It’s much harder to guess than your password.” Because web traffic for Photos is encrypted with SSL, it’s also kept secret from anyone on the network who might be listening in.’
July 24, 2015
[google] A Fortnight With Google Photos. … Paul Mison reviews Google Photos‘It took a while, because I have something like a terabyte of photos going back over twelve years, but now I’ve uploaded them all, I can access them on every device. I know there are other services that promise to do that, but Google’s was free even for such a large library (at the cost of resizing some of the images down and converting RAW to JPG). Unlike Apple Photos, the library is available via native apps on Android devices as well as iOS ones, and perhaps unsurprisingly the web version works well too.’
July 23, 2015
[comics] 6 Reasons Why Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye Is One of Marvel’s Greatest Comics‘Marvel loves itself an everyman hero—just look at the enduring success of Spider-Man to see reader falling in love with relatable, ordinary people. Fraction and Aja channelled that everyman persona into Clint Barton for Hawkeye, and it highlighted what made the character so important at a time when, thanks to The Avengers movie, many were just mocking him for being “the guy with the bow.” Hawkeye uncovered the man behind the bow, and showed us how interesting he could be.’
July 22, 2015
[comics] Farewell, Bro: How Matt Fraction’s ‘Hawkeye’ changed Marvel Comics … a look back at Matt Fraction’s run on Hawkeye … ‘The character never quite made a splash in the same way that other, more popular superheroes did. That all changed in the wake of 2012’s The Avengers, when Fraction—then best known for his work on The Invincible Iron Man—pitched to Marvel an idea that seemed insane and brilliant all at once: Let’s show the world what Hawkeye does when he’s not being an Avenger. Let’s show the world what happens when he saves a stray dog and spills his coffee and oversleeps and misses his divorce anniversary. It was, pun intended, a shot in the dark…and to everyone’s surprise, it worked.’
July 21, 2015
[movies] League of Gentlemen Vs. 2001‘Hello Dave!’

July 20, 2015
[pluto] The Long, Strange Trip to Pluto, and How NASA Nearly Missed It … the story of how New Horizons got to Pluto … ‘Just after the Jupiter flyby, New Horizons suffered its first computer glitch. For spacecraft outside Earth’s protective atmosphere, high-energy cosmic rays occasionally zip through computer memory, causing a crash and restart. Calculations indicated that there would be one such crash during the nine-and-a-half-year trip to Pluto. Instead, they occurred almost once a year. But none caused lasting damage, and they proved good learning experiences.’

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