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April 26, 2022
[space] The Hubble Space Telescope Hasn’t Burned Out Yet … How is Hubble doing after 32 years in space? ‘We are closer to the end of Hubble’s mission now than we are to its beginning. Someday, probably at the end of this decade, the space telescope will stop working. The people who manage Hubble’s time are already working with astronomers around the world to make sure they make the most of the years left, Jennifer Wiseman, a senior project scientist on the Hubble mission, told me. They’re asking: “What’s important to do with Hubble while we still have Hubble?”’
April 25, 2022
[tv] ‘You Don’t Understand What This Is Doing to Me’ … Remembering James Gandolfini and a deep-dive into the impact that playing Tony Soprano had on him. ‘To say that Gandolfini rose to the occasion would be putting it mildly. His complex, nuanced, and inspired performance demonstrated remarkable range, not just over the course of the series, or any one episode, but often within a scene, a confrontation, even a single moment, that seemed to transcend mere “acting.” No matter how despicable Tony’s behavior appeared on the surface, Gandolfini was so persuasive and affecting —whether conveying Tony’s rage, passion, or some fleeting flash of guilt — that the audience never turned its back on him. In a troubling age of anti-heroes, Tony Soprano was royalty. His eyes told a million tales, and his performance elevated him to the upper echelon of American actors. He adapted handily to the series’ widened scope, its growth from intimate portrait to rich, blood-splattered tapestry, and he was enormously instrumental in making The Sopranos an epochal cultural event — unofficially the start of what some would call television’s “second golden age.” Whether that’s true or not, it was a golden age of Gandolfini.’
April 20, 2022
[web] How I Experience Web Today … A really depressing demo of how mainstream websites behave today. ‘We’d like to send you notifications with the latest news and updates from our site.’
April 19, 2022
[movies] Nicolas Cage Losing His Shit … I will never tire of this Cage compilation.

April 15, 2022
[comics] We Apologize For Publishing Darkseid’s Anti-Life Equation … All is one in Darkseid! ‘Naturally, the staff and ownership of Hard Drive don’t encourage anyone to die for Darkseid; we encourage conversation. As the current and eternal ruler of the dread planet-fortress Apokalips, Darkseid is a public figure of note. While we pointedly disagree with cosmic genocide, we considered his perspective on the fabrege egg we call life newsworthy. Now it’s clear that no conversation can take place after cutting out your own tongue. We’ve removed Darkseid’s editorial, at great human cost. Our Opinion editor caught a glimpse of the equation as he deleted the page, snuffing the flame of his mortal soul and replacing it with loyalty to Darkseid.’
April 13, 2022
[movies] Hello, I’m Nicolas Cage and welcome to Ask Me Anything … Reddit AMA. ‘A: Who is your favorite character in all of literature and film? Q: That is so hard to answer. I will say that James Dean’s performance as Cal in East of Eden is largely the reason I became a film actor. His role in that is one of my favorite characters in cinema. But then we can go all the way to Rasputin or we can go to Dmitri Karamazov. Dmitri Karamazov is one my favorite characters in literature. I love him so much because he’s so happy and he has no money. He’s just living it up. He spent all his money trying to get the girl. I did the same thing once. I was very Dmitri Karamazov in high school. The most beautiful girl in high school who was a grade older than me invited me to the prom but I had no money. My grandmother gave each of us a little bond. My older brother bought a car. My second oldest brother bought some stereo equipment. And I splashed out on a chauffeur-driven limousine, a tuxedo and a four course meal at Le Dome on Sunset blvd. The car was $2000, the stereo was $2000, and my prom night was $2000 and man, that was money well spent. THAT’s Dmitri Karamazov.’
April 12, 2022
[comics] Incredible photos of S.F.’s legendary first comic book store have surfaced — 50 years after we lost them‘The photos show a tiny store where every square inch from floor to the high ceiling is covered with comic book racks and comics displayed in plastic wrap. Arlington stands like a bird on a perch, looking over his customers on the low rung of one of several ladders. A mix of sullen-looking men and wide-eyed children browse horror comics, Tales of the Green Beret and some of the earliest Marvel X-Men issues.’
April 11, 2022
[life] Fries on the Pier … from False Knees.

April 8, 2022
[books] He Was an Ex-FBI Serial Killer Profiler. Then His Lies Caught Up With Him. … Another story (Previously) of a fraudulent serial killer expert this time based in the UK. ‘The relationship between Harrison’s falsehoods and the apparent obliviousness of his audiences and publishers raised a number of still unanswered questions. Why had no one before Robin Perrie bothered to check the claims in such a colourful CV? And what does this web of strange deceit say about the nature of true crime fandom and the cottage industry surrounding it?’
April 7, 2022
[books] The novelist who wrote “How to Murder Your Husband” is now on trial for murdering her husband.‘A few years after Nancy Crampton Brophy—a self-published romance novelist—wrote an essay called “How to Murder Your Husband,” her husband was found shot to death in his classroom at the Oregon Culinary Institute in Portland. While that essay might have been a little bit of a red flag to investigators, the trial judge has deemed it inadmissible as evidence on the grounds it might prove prejudicial (you think?).’
April 5, 2022
April 4, 2022
[podcasts] Alan Moore and Brian Catling Discuss The Power of Imagination … A fascinating podcast hosted by Robin Ince.
April 1, 2022
[comics] Creating the Judge Dredd by Brian Bolland Apex Edition: A How-to Guide for the Rash and Enthusiastic … David Roach on the difficult search for Brian Bolland’s 2000AD work for an artist’s edition book. ‘At first the page count was uncertain, as we weren’t sure how many pages it would be possible to find, but ideally it was going to be 96, rising to 144 or higher if possible, though at times that felt like a far-off dream. But what that meant was that we were aiming to include as much as 1/3 of his entire British output, which was quite a sobering thought. One complication in tracking down Brian’s pages was the haphazard way in which these early pages were disseminated among collectors. IPC, 2000 AD’s first publisher, had a blanket policy of not returning artwork, something which only changed in the ‘80s in the face of mounting pressure from its artists. In the intervening years, however, numerous pages were stolen from offices and storage warehouses, often turning up for sale in London comic shops, much to the artist’s frustration. As 2000 AD’s most popular artist, Brian’s art was particularly prized and most persistently stolen, and, to this day, certain strips, including his first Judge Death serial, have never surfaced again.’
March 30, 2022
[crime] Charles Graeber’s top 10 true crime books‘Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders, by Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry — You can’t deny the all-time bestseller of the genre, or the detail-driven dive into the world of Charles Manson and his addled cult known as “the family”, written by a prosecutor of the Tate-LaBianca murders with access to all the grim details, partnered with a solid historical writer in Gentry.’
March 29, 2022
[elon] Please Like Me … A small request from Elon Musk. ‘I’m sure it seems like I have it all. And maybe I do. Although I’d like to make one simple request: Please like me. Please, for the love of all that is holy, consider me clever and interesting. Honestly, I don’t get why anyone wouldn’t like me. I do cool stuff. I make cars. People like cars, don’t they? I make stonks go to the moon. Isn’t that cool? Isn’t making stonks go to the moon something people like? Seriously, c’mon. Appreciate me. I was on Rick And Morty. Wubba lubba dub dub, right? People love that show!’
March 25, 2022
[life] 100 ways to slightly improve your life without really trying … I have a theory that you usually find one useful thing in these lists of ways to improve your life. ‘Don’t be weird about how to stack the dishwasher.’
March 24, 2022
[lol] Why We Use “lol” So Much … A deep-dive into LOL. ‘We use lol as a way of downplaying a statement; adding irony, levity, humility, empathy, or commiseration; expressing amusement; or just neutral acknowledgment. No longer simply an internet acronym that’s entered the mainstream, lol is an example of how language evolves over time, adheres to new grammatical rules, and creates community around the people that use it.’
March 23, 2022
[politics] Manufactured Culture War Outrage Calendar … created by @WebofEvil. ‘Easter Eggs, not Chocolate Eggs. But not Halal Easter Eggs.’

Manufactured Culture War Outrage Calendar

March 22, 2022
[war] “Z” Is the Symbol of the New Russian Politics of Aggression‘Graphically, the “Z” is clearly closer to the swastika than to any prominent Soviet symbol, such as the five-pointed star, the hammer and sickle, or the red flag. Its use seems to require a double inversion: first, the people of Ukraine—a nation that suffered some of the greatest losses at the hands of Nazi Germany and one that is currently led by a Jewish President—are rendered as Nazis; then, the Russians, who claim to be fighting for peace and “de-Nazification,” adopt a visual symbol that appears to reference the swastika.’
March 21, 2022
[comics] Zorro in Arkham: Reflecting on a Legendary Batman Saga With Writer Grant Morrison, Part 1‘Dan asked me to write Batman…. He likely saw more potential in Damian than I did, and he was right. I’d figured out that Batman as a concept was impervious to pretty much any assault. Camp Batman worked, serious Batman worked, Lego Batman worked. Dad Batman? That would work too. There had been a few ‘son of’ stories over the decades, some written by Alfred the butler as literary amuse bouches, imaginary tales of the next generation. I had the title Batman & Son in my head, like a family business, like Steptoe & Son or, for US readers, Sanford & Son. I gambled that having a deadly aristocratic ninja brat for a kid would only make Batman cooler and add some extra complexity to his mythos…’
March 18, 2022
[tech] His software sang the words of God. Then it went silent. … A really sad, powerful story about how software can die with it’s creator, teaching Torah, loss and about a million other things. ‘I first heard it played to me over the phone from a copy that hadn’t yet ceased to function. It was a voice unlike any I’d ever heard: not human but made by humans, generated by a piece of computer code dating to the 1980s, singing words of a text from the Bronze Age in a cadence handed down, from one singer to another, over thousands of years. TropeTrainer was software that had been taught to sing the words of God. Then it went silent…’
March 16, 2022
[tv] How tainted is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 25 years on?‘And then there were the show’s gender politics: for while it foregrounded many empowered women, it also featured a problematic male lead in the shape of Xander. There were other examples of toxic and fragile masculinity on the show, like the reprisal of teenage boy villains into The Trio in series six, but the difference was that Xander was positioned as a nice guy – and rewatching the series now, that’s something which leaves a particularly bad taste. A pretty girl couldn’t walk by without Xander oggling or pestering them, and it mostly goes unquestioned, especially where Buffy is concerned. His entitled attitude towards her and animosity towards every guy she dates is nauseating to watch.’
March 15, 2022
[tv] Artie Bucco Would Like You To Try Some Food … Mastercut of Artie Bucco from The Sopranos offering people food to try.

March 14, 2022
[life] UK Lottery Simulator – Playing The Lottery 1,000 Times Per Second … An animation on Reddit showing how little chance you have of winning the UK lottery.
March 10, 2022
[comics] The Lawsuit that Reshaped Sonic the Hedgehog Comics … I’ve always known that Archie’s Sonic the Hedgehog comics were long-running and complex, but I’ve never heard about the legal case that led to a complete reset of the series. ‘Things started looking grim in late 2012, when Archie suddenly fired its entire legal team. The company had been unable to produce Penders’ work-for-hire contract, which would have given control of his creations to Sega. Penders claimed the contract had never existed. A heavily circulated Tumblr post outlining the case (which has been corroborated as a reliable source by Penders) explains that while Archie did provide a photocopy of a contract allegedly signed by Penders in 1996, Penders claimed that the document was a forgery. That it was neither an original copy nor a contract from the beginning of the writer’s tenure at Archie meant that its validity was questionable. Making things worse, Archie couldn’t produce an original copy of any previous contributor’s contract, meaning that any writer or artist who had worked on the Archie Sonic line could potentially follow in Penders’s footsteps and reclaim their work.’
March 9, 2022
[tv] Charlie Brooker: ‘Mr Dystopia? That makes me sound like a wrestler’ … A catch up with Charlie Brooker.

Before he was Mr Interactive, Charlie Brooker was Mr Dystopia, creating disturbing, prescient vistas of the very near future. What if the prime minister had to have sex with a pig, live on air? What if anxious modern parenting turned into 24-hour hyper-surveillance? Even Nathan Barley, his 2005 comedy co-written with Chris Morris, came eerily to pass. That eponymous, portfolio-careered hipster could have been written yesterday. “That makes me sound like a wrestler,” Brooker says, not without satisfaction. “A really mean, horrible wrestler. Here he comes, in the blue corner: Mr Dystopia.”

It’s not so much that he predicted things, and then they happened, he says. Rather, Black Mirror plots were “extrapolations of whatever was already happening”. The pig plot was inspired by Gordon Brown’s Gillian Duffy moment, when he called a Labour voter a bigoted woman and “had to go and apologise, and it became this bizarre circus of calamity. I was just watching it thinking, ‘No one’s in charge here.’”

March 8, 2022
[weird] This Mysterious Computer Could Prove Time Travel Exists … The Dodleston Messages – a crazy story from the 1980s about a haunted, time-travelling BBC Micro!

March 7, 2022
[life] A must-read book? Go on, make me … Why is it when a friend or review recommends something as must read or must watch we often get annoyed and reject the advice. ‘When it comes to, say, TV shows about competitive baking, I resist the pull of the crowd because I’m confident I’m not missing much. In the case of Hamilton or Boyhood, I’m sure my perversity is costing me real enjoyment. So what’s going on? One explanation is what psychologists call “optimal distinctiveness theory” – the way we’re constantly jockeying to feel exactly the right degree of similarity to and difference from those around us. Nobody wants to be exiled from the in-group to the fringes of society; but nobody wants to be swallowed up by it, either. In toddlerhood and teenagerhood, this manifests as a bloody-minded refusal to do what we’re told, precisely to show we can disobey our parents. Perhaps it never entirely goes away.’
March 4, 2022
[watergate] How G. Gordon Liddy Bungled Watergate With an Office-Supply Request … An enjoyable profile of G. Gordon Liddy’s involvement in Watergate. ‘Liddy’s antics worried some in the White House, but rather than shut him down or block his wildest schemes, he was instead foisted on the president’s reelection campaign as 1971 ended, to head up intelligence gathering efforts. There wasn’t a great deal of mystery to Liddy’s new secret mission on the campaign. A few days after he started on the reelection effort, Liddy stopped back at the White House to complain to White House counsel John Dean: The deputy campaign director, Jeb Stuart Magruder, was going around introducing Liddy as the “our man in charge of dirty tricks.” As Liddy said, “Magruder’s an asshole, John, and he’s going to blow my cover.” As Dean later recalled, he, annoyed, called Magruder: If you’ve hired someone to carry out your dirty tricks, it’s best if you don’t advertise that fact.’
March 2, 2022
[comics] “True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee” Author Interview by Tegan O’Neil … Abraham Riesman discusses his new biography of Stan Lee.

You can try to glean life lessons from Stan’s arc, but I feel like they’re all relatively obvious: thou shalt not lie, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not covet, and so on. The harder thing to process is the twofold ambiguity of his life.

There’s the factual ambiguity of who created the Marvel pantheon, which is a dilemma that will probably never be resolved. And then there’s the moral ambiguity of asking whether he was a “good” man or not, which is a similarly unanswerable question, albeit for different reasons. The human mind wants to reject ambiguity; we want to say some things are incontrovertible facts and that the people we like or hate are objectively good or bad. But the reality of existence is uncertainty: constant, chaotic, and infuriating. You can either lie to yourself for certainty—and, to be sure, we all have to do that for certain aspects of life—or you can be honest and confront the answerlessness of the world.