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April 12, 2018
April 11, 2018
[sos] “The Clock Is Ticking”: Inside the Worst U.S. Maritime Disaster in Decades … William Langewiesche on the sinking of the cargo ship SS El Faro. ‘As is usually the case, the catastrophe was unfolding because of a combination of factors that had aligned, which included: Davidson’s caution with the home office; his decision to take a straight-line course; the subtle pressures to stick to the schedule; the systematic failure of the forecasts; the persuasiveness of the B.V.S. graphics; the lack of a functioning anemometer; the failure by some to challenge Davidson’s thinking more vigorously; the initial attribution of the ship’s list entirely to the winds; and finally a certain mental inertia that had overcome all of them. This is the stuff of tragedy that can never be completely explained.’
April 10, 2018
[watchmen] Ten Things A Diehard Alan Moore Fan Learned From the New Annotated Watchmen‘Kevin O’Neill Art Inspired the Alien Design: This one was pointed out to me my fellow Moore fan, Flavio Pessanha. In the annotations for 8.11.3, Klinger quotes Moore’s script stating that the alien should resemble the progeny of a squid and “a Kevin O’Neill” drawing. Presumably, this might be from O’Neill’s demonic aliens in Nemesis the Warlock, which first appeared in 1980.’
April 9, 2018
[space] Exploring the Secrets of Soothing Spaceship Sound … a look at the soothing white noise of fictional spaceships … ‘In the intervening years, Snell has taken it upon himself to sample and loop the ambient hums of dozens of science fiction ships, building an unlikely but sizeable YouTube presence of over nine million views and over a hundred videos. Whether it’s the calming tone created by the USS Enterprise in Star Trek: The Next Generation, or the throbbing pulse of Dr. Who’s Tardis, Snell aims to shine a light on an important element of science fiction that most people don’t often think about—what the spaceships sound like.’ [via MetaFilter]
April 5, 2018
[2001] 2001: The aliens that almost were … A look at the work Kubrick and his team put into creating alien special effects for 2001 that were eventually never used. ‘From the very outset of work on the film we all discussed means of photographically depicting extraterrestrial creatures in a manner that would be as mind-boggling as the being itself. And it soon became apparent that you can not imagine the unimaginable. All you can do is try to represent it in an artistic manner that will convey something of its quality. That’s why we settled on the black monolith – which is, of course, in itself something of a Jungian archetype, and also a pretty fair example of “minimal art.”‘
April 4, 2018
April 3, 2018
[health] What do doctors say to ‘alternative therapists’ when a patient dies? Nothing. We never talk. … Fascinating article from a Doctor regarding alternative cancer treatments … ‘I have little expectation that someone who would sell false hope to a vulnerable patient would talk me through their reasons why. I once ran into a licensed doctor who oversaw $500 vitamin infusions for cancer patients. The moment when we discovered what the other did was awkward to say the least. My expression asked, “Why?” I saw him struggle with the answer before he said, “Because patients want it.” There was no common ground for a conversation and we slid away into the crowd.’
March 29, 2018
[religion] Easter egg truthers: the annual religious row over chocolate … an overview of the War on Easter from Martin Belam … ‘Chocolate is halal by default because it does not contain meat products or anything haram. Cadbury’s social media team is kept busy at Easter repeatedly explaining that: “In UK our chocolate is suitable for vegetarians & those following a Muslim diet, however they’re not Halal certified. The only animal related products we use in UK are milk & eggs.” This year, Sainsbury’s bore the brunt of the annual backlash. The retailer’s social media team has been forced to repeatedly correct a tweet that claimed all their Easter eggs were specifically “halal-certified”, rather than simply suitable for a halal diet.’
March 28, 2018
[art] 70s Sci-Fi Art: Spacewrecks … Gallery of Sci-Fi Spaceship art from Stewart Cowley’s ‘Terran Trade Authority’ books – the one below is drawn by Angus Mckie.

March 27, 2018
[fun] Play Speak and Spell Online … the education toy emulated at the Internet Archive with many other handheld game consoles.
March 26, 2018
[weird] 16 Weird Things You Won’t Believe People Used To Believe, Believe Me‘Preformationism was another of Aristotle’s theories. He claimed that inside each human sperm was a tiny person, and inside that tiny person was more people-sperm (i.e, sperm = Russian dolls). What’s more, he believed this embryonic sperm was all that was needed to generate life: the woman was just the oven, and the resulting baby took 100% of its characteristics from the man. Cheers, Aristotle.’
March 23, 2018
[web] What Your Favorite Website Says About You‘MySpace.com: You died in 2005, at age twenty.’
March 22, 2018
[comics] Talking Booze and Banter with the Writer of Viz’s Drunken Bakers … Barney Farmer interviewed about heavy drinking, crap jobs, Viz and The Male Online. ‘Oh god yeah, the main comic I read was Viz. In my teenage years, somebody had a copy of Viz when we were in some dismal car park of some kind and said, ‘Have you seen this?’ It was probably the 16th or 17th copy of Viz, passed it backed to us, and it absolutely killed us. I’d never seen anything as funny in comic form, and I genuinely think it’s been hugely influential on British comedy. If you look at alternative comedy in the 80s it was terrible. Viz is about working class people. Although it’s educated and intelligent, its base and low at the same time, it’s witty and foul, like Frank Carson with Chris Morris’ brain.’
March 21, 2018
[chaos] xkcd on Chaos

March 20, 2018
[movies] 47 Things We Learned from Nicolas Cage’s Vampire’s Kiss Commentary … Nic Cage looks back at Vampire’s Kiss. ‘The scene where Cage runs down the street after assaulting Alva in the basement had to be re-shot because he was running too fast for Bierman’s camera. Cage told the director “Well if you want me to run slow I’m going to run like this!” and that’s the run that made the cut. He caught a lot of criticism from people saying it was over the top, but Cage gives that no weight. “’Over the top’ is one of those things that doesn’t work with me because I don’t believe in such a thing. It’s just stylistic choices.” He says that Bierman caught him during his more experimental phase, something he hasn’t really explored since.’
March 19, 2018
[crime] Worst Roommate Ever … quickly escalating worst-case housesharing story – worth reading for the twist at the end.

In 2012, Bachman had shown up at the home of a woman across town named Melissa Frost, claiming to be a New Yorker whose home had been destroyed in Hurricane Sandy. Overcome with pity, Frost let him in — and nearly lost her house. In an expensive and frightening ordeal that dragged on for months, Bachman slowly laid claim to the space, using his intricate knowledge of tenancy laws to stay one step ahead of her. He scuffed up the floors, kicked down the doors, and clogged the toilets with cat litter. “He went from being this cordial, polite person who understood he was a guest in my house,” Frost said in one of the articles, “to someone who was approaching me aggressively and flat-out saying, ‘This is my house now.’ ”

March 16, 2018
[books] Why the Culture Wins: An Appreciation of Iain M. Banks… A long-read on Iain M. Banks Culture Series of books. ‘One can see then why Horza might dislike the Culture. On the surface, his complaint is that they surrendered their humanity to machines. But what he really wants is a culture that can serve as a source of deeper meaning, which is the one thing that the Culture conspicuously fails to provide – on the contrary, it turns everything into a joke. The Culture may be irresistible, but for essentially stupid reasons. (“Horza tried not to appear as scornful as he felt. Here we go again, he thought. He tried to count the number of times he’d had to listen to people – usually from third- or low fourth-level societies, usually fairly human-basic, and more often than not male – talking in hushed, enviously admiring tones about how It’s More Fun in the Culture… I suppose we’ll hear about those wonderful drug glands next, Horza thought.”) It is precisely because of this decadence, as well as lack of seriousness, that the Idirans themselves assumed that their victory over the Culture was a foregone conclusion. When one compares the soft decadence of the Culture to the harsh militarism of the Idirans, it just seemed obvious that the Culture would not fight, but would quickly fold. This was, however, a miscalculation. In fact, the Culture would never give up.’
March 15, 2018
[movies] Dr. Strangelove in Color‘Do I look all rancid and clotted? You look at me, Jack. Eh? Look, eh? And I drink a lot of water, you know. I’m what you might call a water man, Jack – that’s what I am. And I can swear to you, my boy, swear to you, that there’s nothing wrong with my bodily fluids. Not a thing, Jackie.’

March 14, 2018
[science] The Brighter Side of Rabies … A brief look at how scientists are using the rabies virus for research into the brain. ‘Ian Wickersham, a research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who helped Callaway engineer the modified rabies virus eight years ago, is now at work on another version. The original, Wickersham told me, “kills infected cells quite quickly: by about two weeks after infection, they’re all either dead or in dire shape.” This meant that the scientists had a limited time to observe the virus’s movement in the brain. His goal, he said, is to make the rabies virus “innocuous, so infected neurons are completely healthy,” which might enable scientists not only to see how individual neurons are connected but also to watch the connections form. In other labs, different modified viruses are being used to target cancer, enhance food safety, and cure certain forms of color blindness. A modified strain of H.I.V., Callaway noted, is often used in labs to transfer genes between organisms.’
March 13, 2018
[movies] How we made 2001: A Space Odyssey … Keir Dullea and Douglas Trumbull discuss the making of 2001 … ‘Some of the crew wanted the miniatures and sets to be part of a travelling show, but Kubrick didn’t want the mystery of how it was produced revealed. A schoolteacher was tutoring his daughter and he gave him the Aries 1B spacecraft as payment. The guy’s family recently discovered it and sold it to the Academy. The orbiting space station ended up in a dump in Stevenage. I have no idea why.’
March 12, 2018
[brexit] What are they after?: How Could the Tories? … What do the Brexiteer Tories Want From Brexit?… ‘For all his idiosyncrasies, Johnson typifies something about contemporary conservatism, which might best be understood biographically. The cultural forces shaping the new conservatism resolve in a particular stereotype: men born between the mid-1960s and the early 1970s, with some constellation of expat backgrounds, famous fathers and first careers in the media. All four things apply to Johnson, but a Venn diagram of these various characteristics would also include Michael Gove, Douglas Carswell, Daniel Hannan and Jacob Rees-Mogg. The result of these disparate characteristics is a comfortable familiarity with the myths and rituals of the British state, but a blasé indifference to the impact of policy.’
March 9, 2018
[movies] Watching a film with mum on Mother’s Day? Don’t see these‘Remember when you were 14, and you were watching TV with your mum, and a sex scene unexpectedly came on, and the shame and embarrassment you both felt ended up causing all manner of long-lasting psychological scars? This film is pretty much one long sex scene, and it’s about a mother and her son, and watching it with your own mother absolutely isn’t worth the decades of therapy bills. Again, this one was actually released to coincide with Mother’s Day in the UK.’
March 8, 2018
[mario] Mario on shrooms … Running a Conway’s Game of Life simulation on Mario.

March 7, 2018
[pizza] How mozzarella became the perfect pizza cheese … A look at the science behind pizza toppings. ‘To investigate, the team sprinkled grated mozzarella, cheddar, colby, edam, emmental, gruyere, and provolone on pizza crusts and baked them in an oven for a set time. Then the pizzas were shunted under a camera to be photographed for computer analysis. The software quantified the colour uniformity of the cheeses, with high uniformity meaning that there were no browned spots. Each cheese was also put through its paces in a standard panel of cheese tests, assessing its stretchiness, moisture content, how much oil it releases as it melts, and at what temperature it melts.’
March 6, 2018
[web] The Onion: We Don’t Make Any Money If You Don’t Click The Fucking Link‘If you enjoy any of this content, any of it at all, it is highly recommended that you take one measly second out of your life to actually navigate to any of our many, many articles that grace your social media feed for free. Or, hell, you could even look at our homepage once in a while. Because unless you actually visit the website, there eventually won’t be one, you ungrateful pricks.’
March 5, 2018
[ODG!] This Mutant Crayfish Clones Itself, and It’s Taking Over Europe … Life will find a way. ‘The earliest report of the creature comes from a hobbyist who told Dr. Lyko he bought what were described to him as “Texas crayfish” in 1995. The hobbyist — whom Dr. Lyko declined to identify — was struck by the large size of the crayfish and its enormous batches of eggs. A single marbled crayfish can produce hundreds of eggs at a time. Soon the hobbyist was giving away the crayfish to his friends. And not long afterward, so-called marmorkrebs were showing up in pet stores in Germany and beyond. As marmorkrebs became more popular, owners grew increasingly puzzled. The crayfish seemed to be laying eggs without mating. The progeny were all female, and each one grew up ready to reproduce. In 2003, scientists confirmed that the marbled crayfish were indeed making clones of themselves.’
March 1, 2018
[cartoons] Chuck Jones’ Rules for Road Runner Cartoons‘Whenever possible, make gravity the Coyote’s greatest enemy.’

February 28, 2018
[books] Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read … and what we watch and listen to. ‘The lesson from his binge-watching study is that if you want to remember the things you watch and read, space them out. I used to get irritated in school when an English-class syllabus would have us read only three chapters a week, but there was a good reason for that. Memories get reinforced the more you recall them, [Jared] Horvath says. If you read a book all in one stretch—on an airplane, say—you’re just holding the story in your working memory that whole time. “You’re never actually reaccessing it,” he says.’
February 27, 2018
[politics] Paul Manafort couldn’t convert PDFs to Word documents … Rule of thumb: Sucessfully executing a criminal conspiracy requires robust IT skills. ‘So here’s the essence of what went wrong for Manafort and Gates, according to Mueller’s investigation: Manafort allegedly wanted to falsify his company’s income, but he couldn’t figure out how to edit the PDF. He therefore had Gates turn it into a Microsoft Word document for him, which led the two to bounce the documents back-and-forth over email. As attorney and blogger Susan Simpson notes on Twitter, Manafort’s inability to complete a basic task on his own seems to have effectively “created an incriminating paper trail.”’
February 26, 2018
[tech] What free software is so good you can’t believe it’s available for free?‘#1 – Google maps on a cell phone. Navigation systems used to cost hundreds of dollars not too long ago.’

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