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September 21, 2012
[movies] Six degrees of Kevin Bacon: scientists expose the seedy underbelly … some of the science behind the Six Degrees of separation theory … ‘Reynolds categorized the few people who surpass the Bacon four degree threshold in his data set as “old, foreign and obscure”. People like William Rufus Shafter, an army officer from the American civil war, who appeared as himself in two short silent films from 1898, and is one of 27 people who are a rule-breaking eight degrees from Bacon.’
September 19, 2012
[apple] Who queues for an iPhone 5? Protesters, hipsters and the jobless … The Register investigates who’s queuing for an iPhone 5 outside London’s Apple Store… ‘The fact that four of the first seven queuers were making films about why people queue for iPhones speaks volumes about pre-launch iPhone hype. Given the media circus surrounding those who shun more practical methods of shopping and instead queue in the British September air, it’s not surprising that all of the first six were representing interest groups on the lookout for publicity.’
[blogging] Pinterest, Tumblr and the Trouble With ‘Curation’ … some thoughts on what you do when you blog with a Pinterest or Tumblr …

Silbermann suggests that collecting online is a form of self-expression for people who don’t create. “If you walk around Brooklyn and ask people how they express themselves,” he said in a speech at New York University, “everyone’s a musician or an artist or a filmmaker. But most of us aren’t that interesting. Most of us are just consumers of that. And when we collect things and when we share those collections with people, that’s how we show who we are in the world.”

Not everyone buys into this, of course. Here’s The Awl’s co-editor, Choire Sicha, for instance, on the subject of rebloggers who fancy themselves curators: “As a former actual curator, of like, actual art and whatnot, I think I’m fairly well positioned to say that you folks with your blog and your Tumblr and your whatever are not actually engaged in a practice of curation. Call it what you like: aggregating? Blogging? Choosing? Copyright infringing sometimes? But it’s not actually curation, or anything like it. . . .” To which a commenter added: “My Tumblr isn’t so much curated space as it is a symptom of deeper pathologies made manifest.”

September 17, 2012
[movies] 20 Of The Best Movies Never Made … a list of the greatest movies that never made it to the big screen … ‘Napoleon by Stanley Kubrick – A biopic on Napoleon set to be made just after the successes of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kubrick was so enthusiastic to make the project that he confessed to identifying with Bonaparte even down to the way he ate his food. Jack Nicholson was slated to play the title character, but when corporate changes hit MGM, Kubrick lost the approval.’ [via YMFY]
September 14, 2012
[comics] Top 10 best Judge Dredd comic-book stories … Discussing the ‘America’ storyline: ‘Judge Dredd’s own Dark Knight Returns, All-Star Superman and Kingdom Come, all wrapped up tight in a blood-splattered Star Spangled Banner.’
September 13, 2012
[comics] Director’s Commentary: Glyn Dillon … some notes on the process of creating the graphic novel The Nao Of Brown from Glyn Dillon … ‘I really love drawing with a pencil and paper, I’m pretty sure I’ll never go completely ‘digital’, with a Cintiq or whatever, but at the same time ‘digital’ has changed the way I make comics. And I can definitely say I’m much happier for it.’
September 12, 2012
[comics] With Great Power Comes Great… ‘WEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!’
September 11, 2012
[comics] Glyn Dillon: The Nao of Brown … a preview of Glyn Dillon’s new comic The Nao Of Brown (with interview) … ‘A dazzling, daring graphic novel of over 200 pages, The Nao of Brown marks the return to comics of Glyn Dillon after 15 years of mainly storyboarding and concept design, and struggling to get personal film and TV proposals to the screen. This is also his first work in the medium as a writer. What started in 2008 as an idea for a spare-time project mushroomed into a year’s obsession, filling almost every waking hour, requiring such intensive work that Dillon wound up in hospital two weeks after completing it.’
September 10, 2012
[phones] Auto Crrect Ths! … James Gleick on auto correct on phones / computers … ‘ In the past, we were responsible for our own typographical errors. Now Autocorrect has taken charge. This is no small matter. It is a step in our evolution — the grafting of silicon into our formerly carbon-based species, in the name of collective intelligence. Or unintelligence as the case may be. Earlier this year, the police in Hall County, Ga., locked down the West Hall schools for two hours after someone received a text message saying, “gunman be at west hall today.” The texter had typed “gunna,” but Autocorrect had a better idea.’ [via YMFY]
September 7, 2012
[comics] The Supreme Writer … Alan Moore Interview (from 1999) On Jack Kirby … ‘So I met Jack very briefly before or after that panel, but all I remember was that aura he had around him. This sort of walnut colored little guy with a shackle of white hair and these craggy Kirby drawn features. This sort of stockiness. I just remember him chatting with me and Frank Miller and he was saying in this kind of raspy voice, “You kids, I think you’re great. You kids, what you’ve done is terrific. I really want to thank you.” It was almost embarrassing to have Jack Kirby thanking me. I just assured him that it was me who should be thanking him, sort of because he had done so much to contribute to my career. He had a glow around him, Jack Kirby. He was somebody very, very special.’
September 6, 2012
[comics] The Daily Mash: Men torn between Anna Karenina and Dredd 3D‘Sure Dredd 3D will have heads exploding in slow motion, customised motorbikes and flamethrowers, but Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina is a classic portrayal of forbidden love with a timeless social message.’
September 5, 2012
September 4, 2012
[space] Gizmodo: All the American Flags On the Moon Are Now White

According to lunar scientist Paul Spudis: For forty-odd years, the flags have been exposed to the full fury of the Moon’s environment – alternating 14 days of searing sunlight and 100° C heat with 14 days of numbing-cold -150° C darkness. But even more damaging is the intense ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the pure unfiltered sunlight on the cloth (modal) from which the Apollo flags were made. Even on Earth, the colors of a cloth flag flown in bright sunlight for many years will eventually fade and need to be replaced. So it is likely that these symbols of American achievement have been rendered blank, bleached white by the UV radiation of unfiltered sunlight on the lunar surface. Some of them may even have begun to physically disintegrate under the intense flux.

September 3, 2012
[spam] All the Spammers in the World May Only Make $200 Million a Year‘It is just so cheap to send spam and even if you only ensnare a tiny number of people, that’s enough to make it worthwhile. Rao and Reiley estimate that only 1 in 25,000 people need somehow buy something through spam advertising to make it worthwhile.’
September 1, 2012
[apple] Leaked Genius Bar manual shows Apple’s smooth seductions … The Register provides some fascinating details from training materials for Apple Store staff … ‘There is also a list of key phrases not to be used by Genius Bar staff. Apple hardware does not “bomb,” “crash,” “bang,” or even “freeze.” Instead it “unexpectedly quits,” “does not respond,” or “stops responding.” Similarly there’s no such thing as a “bug” or “problem,” just a “condition” or “situation.” Such vocabulary rules are not uncommon in the industry (this hack was once told never to write something is “cheaper” in product documentation, only that it is “less expensive”) but parts of the manual do read rather like a manual on seduction.’
August 31, 2012
[comics] Thirteen Comics Purchases You Can Make For The Same Price As Buying Before Watchmen As Serial Comics … some interesting ideas for new comics to explore from Tom Spurgeon‘I’m hoping to engage a broader point about what comics cost and what is presented to us as something to buy. $145 at the comics shop is what one of the major players in the market is telling me is a worthwhile way to spend my money. Here are 13 other pretty casually gathered-together options for that same outlay.’
August 30, 2012
[comics] Some Thoughts on David Mazzucchelli’s Daredevil: Born Again Artist’s Edition‘This is a book made more for looking than for reading, I couldn’t stop reading it. It’s Miller’s finest application of his hard boiled noir obsession to comic book heroes. There’s an emotional intelligence here that immerses us in the particular world being depicted, so that the characters around Daredevil, particularly the writer Ben Urich, assume primary importance. Urich is intimidated, his wife is nearly killed, and finally he himself kills, all in harrowing detail, and all because of the ripples from his subject’s actions. Yes, the Catholic redemption of Daredevil is important, but nothing is more (to use Mazzucchelli’s phrase in his introduction) gut-wrenching than watching the smashed up lives of the minor characters.’
August 29, 2012
August 28, 2012
[space] Was Neil Armstrong a real hero?‘The weekend’s retelling of the 1969 moon landing reminded us just how risky it was and how Armstrong’s quick wits and calmness saved the day. The Eagle landing craft contained no more computer power than a modern washing machine, and was heading slightly off course for the rocks when Armstrong took over the controls manually. He landed with 20 seconds’ worth of fuel, and got the Eagle back up again to rendezvous with Apollo 11. There was no backup plan, no way of rescuing the crew. Sitting in the co-pilot’s seat with his spear (well, you never know, do you?), even Achilles might have been grudgingly impressed, though Armstrong’s lack of melodrama would have annoyed him. And therein perhaps lies the clincher for Armstrong’s heroic status. No boasting, no bullying, just a soft-spoken man who insisted he was only doing his job.’
August 26, 2012
[movies] The legacy of British director and minor Hollywood legend Tony Scott … Alex Pappademas sums up Tony Scott … ‘2005’s spastic, pummeling Domino is probably the best example of how the New Jitteriness freed up Scott to make his movies that much more Tony Scott–like, and it’s thrilling, at least until it wears out your last neurotransmitter. 2004’s Man on Fire is even better, a biblical revenge flick in which Scott uses every image-destabilizing technique in his utility belt to put you right in damaged mercenary Denzel’s increasingly unhinged head space. The colors are gorgeous, too — it’s easily the most ravishingly beautiful movie ever made in which the hero kills another character by sticking an explosive device up that character’s ass.’
August 25, 2012
[comics] I wonder if they’ll call it “Heckblazer.” … Mike Sterling on what might happen to Hellblazer after issue 300 … ‘I suspect this series, now DC’s highest numbered series being published, is getting a little long in the tooth in this era of digital sales and reboots and people wanting to be able to get the “whole” story right away rather than just jumping in and hanging on. The recent retooling of the Hellblazer trade paperback line, reprinting all the issues in consecutive order in books with actual volume numbers on the spine, is a start in rebuilding some readership, I suppose, but I think a restart after 300 is within the realm of possibility.’
August 24, 2012
[politics] Britannia Unchained: the rise of the new Tory right … The Guardian profiles a group of right-wing Tories and wonders if history ever repeats itself … ‘In radical right circles, it is strikingly common to hear comparisons between Cameron’s government and that of his Tory predecessor Edward Heath: narrowly elected in 1970, briefly tough before a chaos of U-turns, replaced in 1974 by an often equally beleaguered Labour administration – before the right’s big moment finally arrived in 1979, with Thatcher’s election. If history repeats, which it rarely does exactly, we should expect the Unchaining of Britannia to commence in 2019.’
[life] Why Only Yuppies Feel Busy: An Economic Theory‘We all live on two things: time and money. And people who have extra income don’t get much, if any, extra time to spend it. As a result, Hamermesh argues, each of their hours seems more valuable, and they feel the clock ticking away more acutely. Much the way it’s more stressful to order dinner from a menu with 100 items than 10, choosing between a night at the symphony, seats at the hot new play, or tickets to Woody Allen’s latest flick is in some senses more stressful than knowing you’ll have to save money by staying in for the evening.’
August 23, 2012
[murder] The Unsolved Murder Of Julia Wallace … Fascinating story of an unresolved very English murder from the 1930s … ‘‘The Wallace case of 1931 is regarded as the classic English whodunnit, a labyrinth of clues and false trails leading everywhere except, it seems, to the identity of the murderer… The setting is wintrily provincial, the milieu lower middle-class, the style threadbare domestic. J.B. Priestley’s fog-filled Liverpool remembrance of “trams going whining down long sad roads” is the quintessence of it. Events turn tantalisingly on finical questions of time and distance; knuckle-headed police jostle with whistling street urchins for star billing, while at the centre of the drama stands the scrawny, inscrutable figure of the accused man, William Herbert Wallace, the Man from The Pru…’ (Roger Wilkes, editor, The Mammoth Book of Unsolved Crimes, 2005)’
August 22, 2012
[funny] Jacob Von Hogflume Blue Plaque‘Inventor Of Time Travel’

Jacob Von Hogflume Blue Plaque

August 21, 2012
[space] Voyager at 35: Break on Through to the Other Side‘Voyager 2 became the longest-operating spacecraft on Aug. 13, 2012, surpassing Pioneer 6, which launched on Dec. 16, 1965, and sent its last signal back to NASA’s Deep Space Network on Dec. 8, 2000. (It operated for 12,758 days.)’
August 20, 2012
[comics] ‘Jesus, What Is It Now?’ Says Man Putting Down Swamp Thing Comic To Answer Phone Call From Wife

Throughout the brief phone call, Bogen repeatedly said “uh-huh” as he scanned the story that showed Swamp Thing ripping gigantic, finger-like roots from the earth and causing the lake to empty out and wash away the vampires in a rush of water.

“Yes, I am listening,” added Bogen, focusing entirely on Alan Moore’s prose, which switched the point of view to the pained thoughts of the vampires as the surging water peeled the rotted flesh from their skeletons. “Of course I want to hear about it.”

“Tell me when you get home,” Bogen added.

August 17, 2012
[space] Alone in the Void … On the meaning of Voyager 1

Even if we could find a way to increase the speed of our spacecraft a hundredfold — about the same ratio of speeds between a horse-drawn cart and a 747 jet plane — they would still take almost a thousand years to reach nearby stars, and as long to return. And while exciting theoretical research is under way into pilotless probes to the stars, the real possibility of large-scale human interstellar culture is considerably less thrilling.

Think about it. No salvation from population pressure on the shores of alien worlds. No release from the threats of biosphere degradation in the promise of new biospheres. No escape from our own destructive tendencies by spreading out among the stars like seedpods in the wind. For as many epochs in the future as there are epochs of human history in the past, we may simply have to make do, get by with what we have and, in the end, learn to get along.

August 16, 2012
[books] Fifteen Shades of Grey :: A Digested Read … Fifty Shades of Grey in 15 sentences … ‘I’ll agree to the fisting…’
August 15, 2012
[war] War Sand … an interesting look at the microscopic remanants of WWII left on the beaches of Normandy …

Archaeology magazine highlights the presence of spherical magnetic shards—remnants of the D-Day operations of World War II—found hidden amongst natural sand grains on the beaches of Normandy. “Up to 4 percent of the sand is made up of this shrapnel,” the article states; however, “waves, storms, and rust will probably wipe this microscopic archaeology from the coast in another hundred years.”