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.
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…’
December 4, 2017
[tweets] Meanwhile, on Twitter: “Minus four degrees looks like someone having a poo”
[books] H.P. Lovecraft Gives Five Tips for Writing a Horror Story, or Any Piece of “Weird Fiction” … ‘The true weird tale has something more than secret murder, bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains according to rule. A certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces must be present; and there must be a hint, expressed with a seriousness and portentousness becoming its subject, of that most terrible conception of the human brain–a malign and particular suspension or defeat of those fixed laws of Nature which are our only safeguard against the assaults of chaos and the daemons of unplumbed space.’
December 1, 2017
[funny] Top Baby Names 2017… …
November 30, 2017
[maps] 12 Incredibly Useful Things You Didn’t Know Google Maps Could Do … including Time Travel! ‘Fire up the flux capacitor, Doc, ’cause we’re about to do some serious time traveling. Google Maps has a little-known feature that lets you look at the Street View for any area as it existed at various points in the past. This one only works from the desktop site, so open up Maps on your computer and pick a place. See that little yellow guy in the lower-right corner—known to his friends as Pegman? Drag him up with your mouse and drop him wherever you want to go. Then look for the clock icon in the gray box at the top-left of the screen. Tap that, and you’ll be able to drag a slider back through time to see 360-degree views from previous years.’
November 28, 2017
[slack] The Church of the SubGenius Finally Plays It Straight … a look behind the curtains at the Church of the SubGenius.
In 1980, two smart, goofy nerds in Dallas decided to start their own religion. Their names were Doug and Steve, but in the grand tradition of charlatans everywhere, they invented new names for themselves as apostles of the deity of their made-up belief system: Reverend Ivan Stang (born Douglass St. Clair Smith) and Dr. Philo Drummond (Steve Wilcox), ready to educate the masses through the Church of the SubGenius about the great J.R. “Bob” Dobbs and to spread his gospel of “Slack.”
November 27, 2017
November 24, 2017
[movies] John Wick solidified Keanu Reeves as one of the greatest action stars of all time … Hard to argue with any of this article from the A.V. Club on John Wick.
My favorite scene in the movie isn’t a fight. It’s the part where Viggo, the movie’s lead Russian gangster, has to tell his son just how badly he’d fucked up. Viggo’s boy, Iosef, has broken into the home of a “fucking nobody.” He’s killed the man’s dog, stolen his car, and left him unconscious. Viggo, played by the late Swedish actor Michael Nyqvist, doesn’t mind any of this. He just minds that Iosef did all this to the wrong guy.
November 23, 2017
[movies] Coppola’s ‘Conversation’ – prophetic snapshot of ’70s S.F. … a look back at the movie The Conversation. ‘For all the other actors’ abundant talent, the movie lived or died on Hackman’s performance. Hackman, a sharp dresser and an extrovert, did not easily sink into the role of Harry. “It was a hard part for Gene to play because it demanded such containment,” Murch recalled. “The character is such a tightly wound person, and that is not at all who Gene is. He was operating outside his comfort zone. But now he says it is one of his favorite performances.” Coppola was immediately impressed by [Harrison] Ford, whose role as a henchman for Duvall was initially quite small. “It was clear Harrison was super bright and able to make much more of the character than was there. He knew how to use clothing and props. He was always thinking,” Coppola says in his DVD commentary.’
November 22, 2017
[comics] Why I won’t be buying Doomsday Clock … Why Lew Stringer Won’t Buy Doomsday Clock.‘Thing is, Watchmen was created as a complete story and achieved that superbly. It’s an intelligent, well structured graphic novel (or fat comic if you prefer) set on an alternate Earth where a godlike being named Dr.Manhattan changed the course of history. (Perhaps you’ve seen the film.The comic is far superior.) In three decades it has never needed a sequel. It certainly was never intended to tie in with the DC Universe and have guest appearances from Superman, Batman, and other members of the Justice League. Yet that’s exactly what DC are doing. It’s like some movie company suddenly deciding that Citizen Kane would be improved with a sequel featuring Ant and Dec.’
November 21, 2017
[comics] Matt Fraction Rereads His Early Comics … I really enjoyed these notes from Fraction on his early work for Marvel. Below are links to all the articles:
‘The “Mastercard” line is a reference to the very first issue of the ongoing series THE PUNISHER, back in the day, by Mike Baron and Klaus Janson (I think). The line always stuck in my head: “Mastercard, I’m bored. The friendly natives will entertain me.” I didn’t know what it meant then, I don’t know what it means now, but it’s wedged in my head. I can’t remember the names of the parents of my kids’ classmates and I cannot do math to save my life but I remember that one line from one Mike Baron comic from 1987.’
November 20, 2017
[politics] Nixon, Trump, and How a Presidency Ends … An interesting analysis of why Richard Nixon’s Presidency collapsed and comparisons with Trump. ‘Nixon was genuinely tough, a self-made man who’d climbed out of what may have been the most Dickensian childhood of any American president. He’d served as a Navy officer in the Pacific theater during World War II. He entered the White House at a younger age than Trump — 56, not 70 — hardened by decades of political combat as a savage knife-fighter during the McCarthy witch hunts and the explosive American divisions of the 1960s. Nixon actually knew American history, read books, and, unencumbered by ADD, played the long game in life (his courtship of his wife, Pat) as well as in politics. He was a lawyer who repeatedly (and presciently) advised his staff that the cover-up, not the crime, posed the greater legal threat, a lesson he had learned during his star-making turn on the House Un-American Activities Committee; his prey, the State Department official Alger Hiss, was convicted of perjury, not for being a Soviet spy. Nixon was also a far more strategic liar than Trump, crafting sanctimonious and legalistic falsehoods to paper over wrongdoing rather than spewing self-incriminating lies indiscriminately about everything.’
November 17, 2017
November 16, 2017
[web] What every Browser knows about you … a webpage which shows all the information a web browser leaks about you.
November 15, 2017
[tv] Remembering Magnum P.I.’s John Hillerman, the World’s Best Phony Englishman … very sad to hear about the death of John Hillerman. RIP.
Higgins was set up to be Magnum’s stooge—the short, supercilious prig who Magnum repeatedly outsmarted, and in whose reflection our hero could shine still brighter. But as played by John Hillerman with a genuine sense of dignity and steely righteousness, Higgins was no joke; you loved him because he truly believed in a classical world of order and rules-following, and he wasn’t about to cede all of that tradition to a handsome young firecracker in a Hawaiian shirt. And every so often, Higgins would a deliver a barb that succeeded in cutting Magnum down to size. The smirk from Hillerman that would invariably follow was a thing of beauty and triumph—and a gentle exhortation to those of us suffering through grade school that the golden boys weren’t always going to be the ones who glowed.
November 14, 2017
[netflix] How Netflix works: the (hugely simplified) complex stuff that happens every time you hit Play … ‘Netflix works on thousands of devices, and each of them play a different format of video and sound files. Another set of AWS servers take this original film file, and convert it into hundreds of files, each meant to play the entire show or film on a particular type of device and a particular screen size or video quality. One file will work exclusively on the iPad, one on a full HD Android phone, one on a Sony TV that can play 4K video and Dolby sound, one on a Windows computer, and so on. Even more of these files can be made with varying video qualities so that they are easier to load on a poor network connection. This is a process known as transcoding. A special piece of code is also added to these files to lock them with what is called digital rights management or DRM — a technological measure which prevents piracy of films.’