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January 17, 2018
[comics] Jim Baikie: An Appreciation by Alan Moore … AM remembers the Scottish comic artist Jim Baikie who died last month. ‘It would have been three or four years after that, while attending the second British Comics Convention as a fifteen-year-old in 1969, that I received a proper introduction to Jim’s art – he’d provided the cover for the convention booklet, a Tolkien-esque fantasy image that mid-period Wally Wood would have been proud of – and, thanks to the agency of his fellow young comics professional Steve Moore, a proper introduction to Jim himself: he was much younger than I’d expected from the accomplishment of his artwork, a good-looking and irrepressible man in his twenties who was bursting with good humour and who, at that age, was already cool enough to have played with the Savoy Brown Blues Band (ask your Dad), but was still happy to chat to an infatuated teenager with a bad pudding-basin haircut and an off-putting regional accent.’
January 16, 2018
[comics] Starlord Cover Gallery … a cover gallery for Starlord – a short-lived science-fiction comic from 1978 with some great art from Kevin O’Neill and Carlos Ezquerra …

January 15, 2018
[life] An Open Letter to the Box of Loose Cables in My Closet … a touching letter between a man and his spare cable box. ‘She looks at you and only sees a knot of ethernet cords gripping the backs of forgotten TiVo remotes, but I see much more. I see USB’s and Firewires commingling with DVI’s and IDE’s. Wax-coated earbuds waiting patiently to be called back into service. Half-drained AAA batteries begging to come out of early retirement and give my beard trimmers that last gasp of life. I see possibility. I see potential. I see my own live-in box of technological understudies with solutions at the ready. What would I do without you?’
January 12, 2018
[weird] The human feet that routinely wash ashore in the Pacific Northwest, explained‘Why feet? It turns out that in water, human bodies naturally disarticulate, or come apart at the joints, so hands and feet often disconnect from corpses after soaking in the ocean for a while. “Feet easily disarticulate and when they are attached to a flotation device such as a running shoe, they are easily washed ashore,” wrote Gail Anderson, co-director of the Center for Forensic Research at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, in an email.’
January 11, 2018
[politics] What Putin Really Wants … Some interesting analysis of Vladimir Putin’s motivations and objectives.

A forgery, a couple of groups of hackers, and a drip of well-timed leaks were all it took to throw American politics into chaos. Whether and to what extent the Trump campaign was complicit in the Russian efforts is the subject of active inquiries today. Regardless, Putin pulled off a spectacular geopolitical heist on a shoestring budget—about $200 million, according to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. This point is lost on many Americans: The subversion of the election was as much a product of improvisation and entropy as it was of long-range vision. What makes Putin effective, what makes him dangerous, is not strategic brilliance but a tactical flexibility and adaptability—a willingness to experiment, to disrupt, and to take big risks.

“They do plan,” said a senior Obama-administration official. “They’re not stupid at all. But the idea that they have this all perfectly planned and that Putin is an amazing chess player—that’s not quite it. He knows where he wants to end up, he plans the first few moves, and then he figures out the rest later. People ask if he plays chess or checkers. It’s neither: He plays blackjack. He has a higher acceptance of risk. Think about it. The election interference—that was pretty risky, what he did. If Hillary Clinton had won, there would’ve been hell to pay.”

January 10, 2018
[tech] Wikipedia articles invented by a neural network‘Friends and existence. How to draw a coconut. Tree donkey. Category:People who can’t speed.’ [via jwz]
January 9, 2018
[comics] Being Chris Ware … Profile of Chris Ware. ‘Ware has a deadpan self-abnegation that is, by all accounts, genuine. But in such an enormous book as this, which is fairly bursting with photographs of his accomplishments and friends, and all the amazing drawings documenting his rise from lonely, fatherless child to fifty-year-old genius, it does seems a terrific struggle to keep the humble pie hot through 275 pages…’
January 8, 2018
[religion] Man On Verge Of Self-Realization Instead Turns To God‘For a second there it seemed like he was going to seriously consider the cause-and-effect relationship of his own actions and elevate himself to a new level of compassion and understanding, but then he suddenly changed course and asked God to swoop in and fix everything.’
January 4, 2018
[religion] Jesus is… [via Archillect]

January 3, 2018
[morris] The Truth Is Out There: Errol Morris’ ‘Wormwood’ … Errol Morris discussing his Netflix documentary …

“In its essence, Wormwood is a story about a very, very smart young boy, now a man in his 70s, who has been involved in an epistemological journey into the nature of his father’s death. And I like to think that the movie, in its attempt to examine these questions, matches his own sophistication about these questions. How do we know what we know? How do we know that my father was murdered? What does that murder mean? He asks this question again and again and again, particularly near the end of the film. It’s one of my favorite sections of Wormwood, when he asks, ‘What does it mean?’

“It’s the same question that I’m always asking: What does it mean? And this irony, which I learned from Eric, is not something I imposed on the material—the irony of, How much are we willing to sacrifice in order to know something? Knowledge comes with a cost. And to what extent is knowing something worth the price that we have to pay to know it? The other option is to live in a fantasy, but if you ask me if there’s anything that makes us great, it’s the pursuit of truth. It’s the fact that we attempt to reach outside of ourselves and to know something about the world around us, and ourselves.

January 2, 2018
December 29, 2017
[comics] H.P. Moorecraft: On the Ending of Providence … Deep, spolier-filled dive into the conclusion of Moore and Jacen Burrows’s Providence and it’s relevance to the end of Moore’s career as a comic-book writer … ‘This celebration of artistic adaptation turns Providence into a commentary on Moore’s career. Moore is Providence’s version of Lovecraft, an author whose gifts and importance lies—at least partially—in the elaboration of previously established fictional worlds. Perhaps the connections between Moore and Prospero that opened this essay make the same point; after all, Shakespeare was himself a super-adaptoid, plundering plots, ideas, and language from Boccaccio and Plutarch, from both dead writers and his contemporaries. And throughout his career, Moore’s ability to borrow from—and, further, to channel—the voices of his literary inspirations have been uncanny. Near the beginning of his career is his remarkable version of Walt Kelly’s Pogo “swamp-speak” in the Swamp Thing story “Pog”; more recent is Moore’s Finnegans Wake-inspired portrait of Lucia Joyce in Jerusalem. And in between, Moore has written himself into literary history through allusion, pastiche, postmodern appropriation, parody, and his willingness to play, innovatively, in other authors’ sandboxes.’
December 28, 2017
[comics] Comics Legend Jack Kirby Worried That Our Attempts to Contact Aliens Might Attract a ‘Tiger’ … Unsurprisingly, the creator of Galactus was concerned about SETI. ‘I would have included no further information than a rough image of the Earth and its one moon. I see no wisdom in the eagerness to be found and approached by any intelligence with the ability to accomplish it from any sector of space. In the meetings between ‘discoverers’ and ‘discoverees,’ history has always given the advantage to the finders. In the case of the Jupiter (Pioneer) plaque, I feel that a tremendous issue was thoughtlessly taken out of the world forum by a few individuals who have marked a clear trail to our door. My point is, who will come a-knocking – the trader or the tiger?’
December 27, 2017
[gaming] Robot Odyssey: The hardest computer game of all time … a fun look back at a absurdly hard computer game for the Apple II … ‘By my teenage years I’d completed the first three levels, but my siblings and I hit a brick wall with the fourth level, which is to earlier levels like algebra is to arithmetic. (As Thomas Foote said, “I was stuck on this level for most of my college years.”) The fifth level was nothing more than a fabled dream…’
December 25, 2017
December 24, 2017
[tv] The 1978 Radio Times: Christmas TV, before Thatcherism ruined it … a look back at Christmas TV in the late Seventies … ‘In 1978 we had “special guests”, “stars” and “presenters” but I could find only one mention of the word “celebrity” in the listings, used in relation to David Soul, in a programme on 29 December. “David Soul epitomises the star of today. He is the new-style Hollywood celebrity,” we were informed. We quickly got back down to earth, though: the programme was followed by Citizen Smith, the sitcom starring Robert Lindsay as Wolfie Smith, leader of the revolutionary Tooting Popular Front.’
December 22, 2017
[xmas] The Rees-Mogg Christmas Special … Jacob Rees-Mogg on Christmas. ‘One thinks often of that little child – born so very long ago in a simple manger in Bethlehem and his loving parents. Not for them the hideous EU enslavements of ‘compulsory inoculations’ or ‘maternity leave.’ Certainly they had to contend with the ‘massacre of the innocents’ but that was as nothing when compared to the enforced ‘EU legislation’ that has brought despotic workers’ rights or ‘the freedom to travel’ to millions of enslaved Britons. As we look back on that first Christmas Day – let us remember the true Conservative legacy of Christ’s Life – that if one is born in a stable, one might still climb to the very top – but only if one is of the ‘right stock.’ Jesus was the ‘son of God’ and not just any old riff-raff.’
December 21, 2017
December 20, 2017
[xmas] Coca-Cola didn’t invent Santa … the 10 biggest Christmas myths debunked‘Advent begins on 1 December — Advent begins on the nearest Sunday to St Andrew’s Day on the 30 November. So, this year, Advent began on 27 November. The idea that it starts on the same day every year was put about by the manufacturers of Advent calendars, so that they could use the same design each year and sell off old stock.’
December 19, 2017
[xmas] 32 Things Guaranteed To Happen In The Office During Christmas‘At the Secret Santa draw you will absolutely get the one person you didn’t want to get, the person who you barely know, like Darren who works in IT or something.’ [via Feeling Listless]
December 18, 2017
December 15, 2017
[tracking] Even This Data Guru Is Creeped Out By What Anonymous Location Data Reveals … a fascinating look at how much anonymous location data from smartphones can reveal about owners … ‘“It was very easy to figure out the home address,” he says, of a location in Erie, Colorado, just outside of Boulder. “The granularity of the geo-hash was a little challenging because the house is residential, but it’s very clear what that address is.” “There is a very clear handoff between the work line, which is the purple line, and home, which is the yellow-orange. Work was a little harder, because there was a number of different offices there, but because there is height [data] it makes it pretty easy to figure out that he is likely in this law firm, JB&P.” He also determined that the person often visited the court or police department in a way that fit the profile of an attorney.’
December 14, 2017
[tv] The 50 best TV shows of 2017: No 6 Mindhunter … This new Netflix series is definately bingeworthy. ‘Mindhunter may be sold as a drama about serial killers. But it’s as much about Holden Ford’s relationships. With those rapists and murderers, sure, but also with Tench, with his cynical FBI colleagues and with his girlfriend, Debbie (Hannah Gross). But the central pairing, and certainly the creepiest, may be the bromance (of sorts) between Ford and Ed Kemper. Kemper, as serial killer enthusiasts may already know, is the intelligent, 6ft 9 Californian necrophiliac who murdered his grandparents, mother, mother’s friend and six female students before engaging in acts more despicable than even the darkest mind could conjure. He confessed before the police could catch him.’
December 13, 2017
[comics] The Most Important Non-Superhero Comic You’ve Never Heard Of… looking back at the good and bad of Cerebus at 40. ‘Even its misfires serve to make Cerebus more distinct as a work. It’s a massive, brutally complicated, hideously problematic epic. It’s equally revolutionary and regressive, an artistic triumph and storytelling failure. It is one of the rare pieces of entertainment that can legitimately be called unique…’
December 12, 2017
[tv] Steve Coogan wrestled with including Brexit in Alan Partridge’s return … Today in Alan Partridge news… ‘It was only after some soul-searching that the comedian opted to include the decision to leave the EU in his alter ego’s return to the BBC. “The world has coalesced into a situation that is sympathetic to Alan, which for me is quite depressing,” Coogan told the Radio Times.’
December 11, 2017
[comics] Classic Silver Age Teen Titans … a gallery of classic Teen Titans covers from Nick Cardy.

December 8, 2017
[people] The unlikely life of Norris McWhirter, kids’ TV star and the original Brexiter … a look at the fascinating life of the co-creator of the Guinness Book of Records and extreme-right winger …

If you wanted to be unstoppably hectored by someone in tie and blazer about how the Edward Heath government had committed treason by taking us into the Common Market in 1972 and then find out the the name of the acrobat who performed a quadruple back-somersault on to a chair at the New York Hippodrome in 1915, and the artiste who caught him, Norris McWhirter was your man.

And you can add to that the fact that Norris, along with his twin brother Ross, created the Guinness Book of Records, which had sold more than 75m copies in 37 languages by the time his involvement ended in 1996.

We will never see his like again, not because the world doesn’t teem with libertarian ideologues, nor with grown men who know too much about the minutiae of stuff; but because combining these two disciplines successfully in public seems beyond our wit in 2017.

December 7, 2017
[politics] No more ‘my dog ate it’ excuses. Where are the Brexit impact reports? … a political sketch of David Davies from John Crace. ‘David Davis knew he had a choice to make. Either to be in contempt of parliament for deliberately failing to provide full disclosure on his department’s Brexit impact assessments. Or to own up to incompetence and laziness. No contest. Incompetence and laziness won hands down. For one thing, they had the virtue of truth. For another, he was just too lazy and incompetent to do anything else.’
December 6, 2017
[comics] Comics USA: Alan Moore Visits New York in 1984 … Scans from Escape Magazine of an article written by Moore after a visit to America in 1984. (Repost – Scans back online.)

’24th August, Thursday – My Taxi to Heathrow arrives driven by comics’s answer to Robert de Niro, Jamie Delano, who combines scripting ‘Nightraven’ and ‘Captain Britain’ with taxi work. Phyllis and the children Amber and Leah make a brave attempt at concealing the turbulent emotions aroused in them by my departure, but I can tell they are secretly heartbroken. My flight is a seven hour sneak preview of purgatory. I read Alexei Sayle’s ‘Train to Hell’ from cover to cover. I’m sitting in the central aisle and I can’t see out of the window. What’s the point of flying if you can’t see how many thousands of feet you’ve got to fall shrieking to your death?’

December 5, 2017
[truecrime] The Bloody History of the True Crime Genre … Examining the origins of True Crime … ‘Reputable authors became increasingly interested in crime as a site of social, aesthetic, and scientific inquiry. Reform-minded writers like Charles Dickens (“A Visit to Newgate,” 1836) and William Thackeray (“Going to See a Man Hanged,” 1840) decried the institutional punishments of the era. Perhaps the most notorious essay was the satirically titled “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts,” first published in Blackwood’s Magazine in 1827 by the self-confessed opium-eater Thomas De Quincey. The essay was so well received it inspired a “Second Paper” in 1839 and a collected edition including a “Postscript” in 1854. Adopting the absurd persona of a member of the “Society of Connoisseurs in Murder,” De Quincey articulates his aesthetics of murder. He does not condone violence or make moral claims, but instead compares the effect of murder to Kant’s theory of the sublime…’