January 3, 2020
[politics] Who said it: Dominic Cummings or Nathan Barley? … ‘We need some true wild cards, artists … weirdos from William Gibson novels like that girl hired by Bigend as a brand ‘diviner’ who feels sick at the sight of Tommy Hilfiger or that Chinese-Cuban free runner from a crime family hired by the KGB.’
[blog] Go click: Jamie Zawinsky’s 50 most popular blog posts from 2019 … Zawinsky’s blog is reliably funny, offbeat and relevant to my interests.
January 2, 2020
[web] href.cool: Links of the 2010s … a roundup of the offbeat web sites from the 2010s.
December 31, 2019
[til] 52 things I learned in 2019 … Fifty-two TIL from Tom Whitwell. ‘Polling by phone has become very expensive, as the number of Americans willing to respond to unexpected or unknown callers has dropped. In the mid-to-late-20th century response rates were as high as 70%… [falling to] a mere 6% of the people it tried to survey in 2018.’
December 25, 2019
December 24, 2019
[memes] 100 Best Memes Of The Decade … Another roundup of the decade list. ‘ “This Is Fine” Dog: The meme has been used a lot to describe various political situations: The official @GOP Twitter used it once, and a senator even described the comic during a Senate Intelligence Committee while describing how Russian election interference was not fine. But the staying power of the dog is about how we all grin and bear it through everything that’s happened over this decade that feels like the house is on fire — the climate crisis, elections, the disappointing last season of Game of Thrones. There is nothing that captures the 2010s more than “this is fine” dog.’
December 23, 2019
[mindblown] Reddit’s Best Mindblowing Facts of All Time … ‘There are more permutations of a standard deck of 52 cards than there are seconds since the Big Bang.’
December 20, 2019
[tweets] 100 Of The Funniest British Tweets Of The Decade … Amusing collection of tweets.
December 19, 2019
[marvel] A Very Marvel Christmas… Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 … Pictures from Marvel’s 1979 Office Christmas Party. ‘To the left is Larry Hama, who at that point in time – and taking over Crazy Magazine — was still new to the offices. We were getting used to this scary, extra handsome long-haired man-with-no-eyes look and he was getting used to us. Lynne can be seen in the background, apparently getting proposed to by Larry from the mailroom. The three coma victims on the couch are Ralph Macchio, Mark Gruenwald and Creator Writer Steven Grant.’
December 18, 2019
[movies] My Painful Quest to Find the Worst Christmas Movie Ever Made … A Gonzoesque search of terrible Christmas movies. ‘I figured this attitude would inform the rest of the movie: It would examine the materialism that’s taken over Christmas, and tell the viewer they should instead focus on doing good in the world, as God would want. But no. The rest of the movie is actually a series of monologues in which Cameron justifies the excesses of the festive season by explaining to the brother-in-law that every single aspect of Christmas is super godly, actually. This includes a theory that Christmas trees have a biblical basis because there were trees in the Garden of Eden, and the cross Jesus was crucified on was also made from a tree.’ (on viewing Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas)
December 17, 2019
[tv] A brief history of the BBC Christmas Tapes … A history of the amusing, unofficial videotapes created by backroom staff at British TV stations and distributed to colleagues at Christmas. ‘The sketches and songs performed by the VT staff themselves are another matter, however. Aside from the industry-standard naked women which pop up every five minutes (always a puzzle – presumably VT engineers had perfectly good wives at home, not to mention access to proper pornography?), the homegrown humour usually amounts to little more than a frustrated engineer singing about obscure editing procedures to the tune of Da Do Ron Ron. Sometimes they try hard, and it looks amiable enough (one bloke at Central did a sub-Neil Innes effort called ‘I’m Just A VTR Dropout’ which was really smashing), while others mine new depths in desperation – on one occasion, Legs & Co being asked to lip-sync an effort called Nice Legs Shame About The Chromophase, for fuck’s sake.’
December 16, 2019
[xmas] Christmas Links 2019 … Stuart over at Feeling Listless is collecting seasonal links as he did in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
December 13, 2019
[life] Simply 17 ‘shower thoughts’ that will make you stop and think, if only for a moment … ‘There is no physical evidence to say that today is Wednesday, we all just have to trust that someone has kept count since the first one ever.’
December 12, 2019
[books] How William Gibson Keeps His Science Fiction Real … William Gibson profile. ‘Futurists he knew had begun talking about “the Singularity”—the moment when humanity is transformed completely by technology. Gibson didn’t buy it; he aimed to represent a “half-assed Singularity”—a world transforming dramatically but haphazardly. “It doesn’t feel to me that it’s in our nature to do anything perfectly,” he said’
December 11, 2019
[tv] ‘The baddies are going to win again’: a brutally honest guide to election night TV … Stuart Heritage on Election Night TV. ‘1am: Despair – Results are coming in thick and fast, and it’s starting to look as if the exit polls were right after all. This is going to be a drubbing. The baddies are going to win again, and there’s nothing you can do about it.’
December 10, 2019
[politics] Politics in the time of Web 1.0 … Looking back at early British political party websites from the mid-nineties. ‘Piss taking aside, there’s something endearing about these sites. Most of them look like they were done on Microsoft Word, but they remind us of when the internet was viewed primarily as an information resource and not a weapon.’
December 9, 2019
[xmas] Mince pies tasted by baker Alice Fevronia: ‘It screams Christmas’ … Mince Pie Reviews … ‘Very quickly our dynamic reveals itself. Alice loves minces pies – “They’re a pretty integral part of my Christmas,” she admits – whereas I tend to see them as dry and boring and far too much work. She nibbles carefully at the pies, savouring each morsel; my technique is basically to stuff the whole thing in my mouth and then feel sick.’
December 6, 2019
[politics] Uncovered: reality of how smartphones turned election news into chaos … Interesting attempt to study how Social Media influences election news. ‘Several participants were observed sharing articles on Facebook without clicking the links, and excitedly diving into comment sections for an argument before looking at the articles. Most showed a tendency to read news that confirmed their existing views. Some behaviours were more surprising, hinting we may be becoming a nation of trolls. One 22-year-old Conservative-voting woman was observed going out of her way to read reputable mainstream news sources so she had a balanced understanding of Labour policies. But she would then seek out provocative far-right blog posts to share on Facebook because their headlines would anger her leftwing friends and create online drama.’
December 5, 2019
[comics] Best comics and graphic novels of 2019 … With mentions of Ware, Moore & O’Neill and Seth among others. ‘At the heart of the epically inventive Rusty Brown (Jonathan Cape) is a single day at a Nebraska school in the mid-1970s, from which Ware spins the life stories of a shy nerd, his frustrated father, the privileged class jerk and a thoughtful, banjo-playing teacher. A doll is lost, a space mission charted, a car crashed and cupcakes baked, while snow tumbles, pages turn red with trauma and panels shrink to postage-stamp proportions – this is beauty you have to squint at.’
December 4, 2019
[time] The 2010s Have Broken Our Sense Of Time … How mobiles phones and social media changed our perception of time. ‘Using a phone is tied up with the relentless, perpendicular feeling of living through the Trump presidency: the algorithms that are never quite with you in the moment, the imperishable supply of new Instagram stories, the scrolling through what you said six hours ago, the four new texts, the absence of texts, that text from three days ago that has warmed up your entire life, the four versions of the same news alert. You can find yourself wondering why you’re seeing this now — or knowing too well why it is so.’
December 3, 2019
[history] Why 536 was ‘the worst year to be alive’ … ‘A mysterious fog plunged Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia into darkness, day and night—for 18 months. “For the sun gave forth its light without brightness, like the moon, during the whole year,” wrote Byzantine historian Procopius. Temperatures in the summer of 536 fell 1.5°C to 2.5°C, initiating the coldest decade in the past 2300 years. Snow fell that summer in China; crops failed; people starved. The Irish chronicles record “a failure of bread from the years 536–539.” Then, in 541, bubonic plague struck the Roman port of Pelusium, in Egypt. What came to be called the Plague of Justinian spread rapidly, wiping out one-third to one-half of the population of the eastern Roman Empire and hastening its collapse, McCormick says.’
December 2, 2019
November 28, 2019
[trolls] That Uplifting Tweet You Just Shared? A Russian Troll Sent It … How Russian disinformation/trolling campaigns look in 2019. ‘We have experienced a range of emotions studying what the IRA has produced, from disgust at their overt racism to amusement at their sometimes self-reflective humor. Mostly, however, we’ve been impressed. Professional trolls are good at their job. They have studied us. They understand how to harness our biases (and hashtags) for their own purposes. They know what pressure points to push and how best to drive us to distrust our neighbors. The professionals know you catch more flies with honey. They don’t go to social media looking for a fight; they go looking for new best friends. And they have found them.’
November 27, 2019
[books] The 50 best nonfiction books of the past 25 years … Slate’s list of the best nonfiction. David Carr’s Night of the Gun: ‘For The Night of the Gun, Carr applied his reporter’s eye to his own story, digging into those lost years and uncovering painful and frightening truths about the man he was while in the throes of addiction. Released into a post–James Frey, post–JT LeRoy era when skeptics found memoir increasingly unreliable, Carr’s live-wire combination of autobiography and journalism explores not only the secrets of his own life but also the ways in which the stories we all tell ourselves evolve into the versions we can live with. The Night of the Gun makes plain how hard, and how necessary, it is to face the past with diligence and humility.’
November 26, 2019
[lists] Lists: Best of the 2010s Decade … Rex Sorgatz is aggregating Best-of Lists related to the 2010s.
November 25, 2019
[movies] Every Joke from ‘Airplane!’ Ranked … ‘McCroskey, on phone to wife: “I want the kids in bed by nine, the dog fed, the yard watered, and the gate locked. And get a note to the milkman… no more cheese!”’
November 22, 2019
[funny] Ballad of a WiFi Hero… Animated adaption of the Mike Lacher’s McSweeney’s article. ‘And at last the warrior arrived at the Router. It was a dusty black box with an array of shimmering green lights, blinking on and off, as if to taunt him to come any further. The warrior swiftly maneuvered to the rear of the router and verified what he had feared, what he had heard whispered in his ear from spirits beyond: all the cords were securely in place. The warrior closed his eyes, summoning the power of his ancestors, long departed but watchful still. And then with the echoing beep of his digital watch, he moved with deadly speed, wrapping his battle-hardened hands around the power cord at the back of the Router.’
November 21, 2019
[work] Pointless work meetings ‘really a form of therapy’ … This article is from BBC News, not the Onion. ‘Many regular, internal meetings might seem entirely “pointless” to those taking part, says Prof Hall. But he says the real purpose of such meetings might be to assert the authority of an organisation, so that employees are reminded that they are part of it. Such meetings are not really about making any decisions, he says.’
November 20, 2019
[comics] The Death of the Age of Stuff … Interesting 2013 comic from Peter Bagge on being a cartoonist in the internet age.
November 19, 2019
[memes] Greg Rutter’s Definitive List of The 99 Things You Should Have Already Experienced On The Internet Unless You’re a Loser or Old or Something … Go Look at the most amusing, time-wasting list imaginable.