They're Terrorists. They're Organized. They're Americans. →

Long one, but completely worth your time. The point SecretGamerGrrl makes about the shared language of hate groups nails what I found so troubling about the recent anti-feminist posts by Scott Adams and Eric S. Raymond. It's easy to dismiss them and say that we should just expect these kinds of posts from white, cis, middle-age men, but it shows that they're just a hop, skip and a jump away from something really dangerous.

'Homeland Is Racist' →

The producers of Homeland hired a bunch of street artists to graffiti the sets, to make it seem 'authentic'. The artists used the opportunity to write a load of anti-Homeland slogans in Arabic and no-one noticed. Just wonderful.

Oysterbooks Is Shutting Down →

As we continue on, we couldn’t be more excited about the future of ebooks and mobile reading.

With that, we will be taking steps to sunset the existing Oyster service over the next several months.

This is a real shame. Their product (Netflix for ebooks) was pretty good, but their Oyster Review was one of the best-curated sources of book recommendations on the internet. For proof of this, check out their list of the 100 best books of the decade so far. Can anyone suggest a replacement?

Camera Restricta →

Camera Restricta is a speculative design of a new kind of camera. It locates itself via GPS and searches online for photos that have been geotagged nearby. If the camera decides that too many photos have been taken at your location, it retracts the shutter and blocks the viewfinder. You can't take any more pictures here.

When I go to a concert (lol, like that's a thing I still do) and I see hundreds of cameraphones shooting up to take a photo of the lead singer, I wonder: what's the point of that? There's nothing tying you to that photo. Anyone could have taken it, so why not just go into Twitter or something and grab someone else's photo? Maybe even someone shooting with better equipment than you?

I don't think the Camera Restricta will catch on. People care too much about their fitness selfies. But I still love the idea of it.

An Introduction to Cult Movies →

Some kind soul on Metafilter has collected together all of Alex Cox and Mark Cousins' introductions to Moviedrome. You could do a lot worse with your day than to spend a few hours watching these. They're like a complete film education in short, 10-minute burts. Warning: watching these will make you despair about the fact we don't have a show like this today.

The Importance of Donuts →

... I decided to be deliberate about marking achievements by eating one donut. Well, sometimes more than one, if it’s a really big deal. The act of donut-eating has actually helped me feel like I’m accomplishing my career goals.

This lady has the right idea.

The New Devils' Dictionary →

Google (n.): The kind of fun, colorful name you stick with to conceal the fact that your mega-corporation has become objectively terrifying.


How to Get Rid of Clutter and Live Abundantly →

Have you ever owned anything? This is why you cannot forgive any of your former lovers. Things like “having chairs” is preventing you from living your best life, and also you should throw away any item of clothing you’re not currently wearing. If it’s not on your skin, you don’t really love it, do you?

Guardian profiles Amy Poehler →

“I see life as like being attacked by a bear,” she says. “You can run, you can pretend to be dead or you can make yourself bigger. So, if you’re my stature, you stand on a chair and bang a pan and scream and shout as if you’re going to attack the bear. This is my go-to strategy. I really liked being pregnant, for example, because I got to take up more space.”

Slate's review of Armada →

I hated Ernest Cline's previous book, Ready Player One. I genuinely hated it with a burning passion. It was one of the worst books I read last year. And the fact that everyone else (even the New York Times!) loved it made me wonder if it was just something broken in me. Which is why Laura Hudson's review of his new book, Armada (and by extension, her critique of RPO), has cheered me up no end.

Armada often feels like it's being narrated by that one guy in your group of friends who never stops quoting the Simpsons, a tic that feels increasingly tiresome and off-putting in the face of the novel’s supposedly apocalyptic stakes. On more than one occasion, soldiers salute each other en route to world-ending battles by solemnly swearing that “the Force” will be with them, and one character flies to his supposedly tragic and moving death while screaming quotes from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. This is a book that ends with someone unironically quoting Yoda.

See also I don't even own a television's review of Ready Player One.

Paul Ford's What is Code? →

I've said before that Paul Ford is one of my internet heroes. If you didn't understand or remained unconvinced as to why I said this, you need to read his latest piece for Bloomberg Businessweek - a spectacular 38.000-word article about programming and computers. Which in the hands of most technology writers would be dry and boring, but this is why I love Paul Ford so much. He's incredibly smart and intelligent, but he approaches everything from an extremely human point of view, so it's a wonderful read.

The Greatest Kanye West Song of All Time →

Casey Johnston goes deep to find the best Kanye song, pitting them against each other. Even if you don't like Kanye or you think brackets are a bad methodology to finding the best anything, the writing here is just great.

79 Theses on Technology. For Disuptation →

Alan Jacobs wrote seventy-nine theses on technology and how it affects and informs our world.

  1. Everything begins with attention.
  2. It is vital to ask, “What must I pay attention to?”
  3. It is vital to ask, “What may I pay attention to?”
  4. It is vital to ask, “What must I refuse attention to?”
  5. To “pay” attention is not a metaphor: Attending to something is an economic exercise, an exchange with uncertain returns.

The whole thing is wonderful. But just as wonderful are some of the responses they have invited. And the responses to the responses. Oh listen, just go read the whole thing, will you?

Photos from the Blade Runner Model Shop →

It may not be a great film, but these photos at least give you some idea of why it's such an amazing achievement. The amount of care and craft that went into something that would appear on screen for a second or two. So impressive.

Everyday Carry interviews Jason Rohrer →

This is so good. I could use any one of his answers as a pull-quote here, but this answer hit one of my weak spots:

Why do you EDC?

I like the idea of finding the very best version of some otherwise mundane object, settling on it, having that problem solved well, and then using that object for the rest of my life. This is my watch. This is my pen. This is my wallet.

Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer →

Based on his terrific books his occasional appearances on Radiolab, Oliver Sacks seems like a really great guy: smart, funny, and curious. So it's pretty sad to hear that he's been dealt one last shitty hand. But at the same time, it sounds like he's totally at peace with it:

It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me. I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can.

He'll be missed.

Totally Fucking Mexico - How the Nathan Barley nightmare came true →

Nathan Barley is ten years old today and this is a great retrospective from The Guardian on how the show came about and why it's still so prescient. If you haven't actually seen the show yet, you owe it to yourself to check it out. And if you've already seen it, you owe it to yourself to watch it again.

Cards Against Humanity's Private Island →

The amount of planning and effort that these guys put into their little jokes is impressive. Although I kind of wish they'd gone with their previous idea of naming the island "Fuck Mountain".

Monkey Island 2 Background Art →

Monkey Island 2 had some of the best art of its time. The colours, the character. And nearly all done in marker? So impressive.

The matte paintings of the original Star Wars trilogy and their creators →

When I was about ten years old, I saved up all my pocket money for months and bought myself a hardback copy of Industrial Light and Magic: The Art of Special Effects. And the thing I loved most about this book was all the matte paintings. Such a simple idea, but so powerful and so evocative. I'd get lost in them for hours. And here we are, over twenty years later and they still draw me in, every time.

Broad City Meets Sleater-Kinney →

I don't know who in NPR thought it would be a good idea to invite the stars of Broad City (one of the best shows on tv right now, btw) to interview Sleater-Kinney, but that person should be given a massive promotion.

How PAPER Magazine’s web engineers scaled their back-end for Kim Kardashian →

One of the things nerds love to do is look at other people’s stacks and say, “what a house of cards!” In fact I fully expect people to link to this article and write things like, “sounds okay, but they should have used Jizzawatt with the Hamstring extensions and Graunt.ns for all their smexing.”

I rarely link to articles that relate to the kinds of things I do at my day job because they're usually so dry and boring. But remember when I said Paul Ford was one of my internet heroes? Well, this shows why. So terrifically written.

How to Season a Cast Iron Skillet →

Owning a cast iron skillet requires stability. It requires an ability to think in the long term. Can you live up to it? As you will see, this is not the kind of pan you can expect to cook with for a couple years and throw away once it starts to show signs of use. It’s not goddamn Teflon. Your cast iron skillet will outlive you, and your care is important, even crucial. More than anything, you should only have cast iron in your life if you love it. Now ask yourself, are you ready?

I bought a cast iron skillet a couple of years ago and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. We live in a disposable world of planned obsolescence and to have something that you know will outlast you -- well, that's a special feeling. Plus, it's an amazing tool to cook with. But this article is totally right: taking care of the skillet is something you have to take very seriously.

Whittier, Alaska →

Whittier, Alaska is a town of just under 200 people, nearly all of whom live in one fourteen-story high-rise, a former military barracks built by the US Army in the 1950s … The fourteen-story high-rise—called Begich Towers, or BTI—contains a post office, a police station, a grocery store, a Laundromat, a health clinic, and a church. (There once was a combination video rental store and tanning salon, but it’s been closed for a while now.)

Maybe it's because I just finished reading Station Eleven (highly recommended, btw!), but this sounds like the perfect setting for a dystopian novel.

El-P and Killer Mike discuss Steven Seagal →

El-P: Steven Seagal’s the kind of guy whose idea of morality is very clear. Like, when in Out For Justice, Steven Seagal is just this brutal guy who goes around smashing people’s teeth and breaking people’s arms and just shooting people, and then he’s driving and someone throws a puppy out of a car in a bag, and he stops and gets out of the car and gets the puppy, and that’s the moment where it’s like, Seagal is a good guy, because he gets the puppy, and he brings it with him. And then at the end of the movie he finds the guy who threw out the puppy and beats the shit out of him. This is the Seagal perspective on morality. “I’m a good guy, because I found a puppy, and it doesn’t matter that I literally just destroyed someone’s trachea with a pencil. The puppy is more important.” And, you know, I respect him and his delusions.

NPR's Best Books of 2014 →

I guess we're heading into that time of the year when every site publishes their "best of the year" list. NPR's list of books looks really tight though. My backlog of stuff to read is pretty terrifying now.

The Shape of Rome →

One of the things I loved about living in Rome was that it's a living history. If you wanted, you could stand on any street corner and unpack the layers of history and yell "STOP EVERYTHING - THIS BELONGS IN A MUSEUM". But people don't because they've got lives to live. And their lives will add another layer.

Lazy Person’s Guide to Current Affairs →

I don't know about you, but I find it really hard to keep up with what's happening in the news (as Charlie Brooker describes it, it's like 'wandering into episode 389 of the world's longest running and most complex soap opera'). This isn't helped by the fact I'm more likely to spend an entire day reading the biographies of minor Star Wars characters than actually opening a newspaper. Helpfully, my wife has put together a sort of a bluffer's guide of podcasts and blogs to keep people like me in the loop without having to try too hard. Thanks, wife!

Pomplamoose 2014 Tour Profits →

We have not “made it.” We’re making it.

A great insight into the economics of taking an internet-famous band on the road.

Marilyn →

This is probably one of my favourite pictures ever. It's Bruce Davidson's photo of (l-r) Simone Signoret, Yves Montand, Marilyn Monroe and her husband at the time, Arthur Miller, at a dinner party in Montand’s apartment. The whole thing is like a Mexican standoff in glances.

Guardians of the Galaxy Concept Art →

I loved Guardians of the Galaxy. I loved the design of it. And that design doesn't come from nowhere - it comes from amazing concept work like this. I can't wait for the Blu-Ray so I can pore over every frame.

Elegy for a Dead World →

I try not to post about the kickstarter campaigns I support (because there’s not enough disk space in the world for that - sorry wife!), but I’m willing to make a huge exception for this. It’s such a great idea: a game where you write the story of what you’re seeing. And then you get to share your story with other people. And you can read other people’s stories! This sounds amazing. Insta-back.

Dirtbag Zeus →

ZEUS: what is this
i dont like this

HERA: it’s our son
that’s our son, i’ve just given birth to him
i’ve named him Hephaestus–

[Zeus flings the newborn off Olympus]

ZEUS: what son
i dont see any son

I think Mallory Ortberg might be my favourite person on the internet.

Watergun assassin: The grand game story of Street Wars →

As I write this, I’m starving, but I dare not go out for food. My assassin could be anywhere. Eventually I break down and prepare the meal of the desperate: Two frankfurters scavenged from the back of the fridge, boiled limp and naked. Spoonful of mustard. I am in genuine fear of being shot.

23 and me: The complete James Bond →

Liza Daly watched all 23 James Bond films (and apparently read the novels, too). On Quantum of Solace

This is the only movie in which Bond does not get laid. It’s also the only one in which he is not captured. Draw your own conclusions.

Worth reading. Although she says she's never met anyone who will defend Moonraker. I'll go to the mat for that film.

The Worst Day Of My Life Is Now New York's Hottest Tourist Attraction →

The brother of someone killed in 9/11 visits the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

I think now of every war memorial I ever yawned through on a class trip, how someone else’s past horror was my vacant diversion and maybe I learned something but I didn’t feel anything. Everyone should have a museum dedicated to the worst day of their life and be forced to attend it with a bunch of tourists from Denmark. Annotated divorce papers blown up and mounted, interactive exhibits detailing how your mom’s last round of chemo didn’t take, souvenir T-shirts emblazoned with your best friend’s last words before the car crash. And you should have to see for yourself how little your pain matters to a family of five who need to get some food before the kids melt down. Or maybe worse, watch it be co-opted by people who want, for whatever reason, to feel that connection so acutely.

The Guilt of the Video-Game Millionaires →

Great article about how indie game devs are handling sudden financial success. Favourite line is this, about Davey Wreden, the creator of the Stanley Parable, on how he'd ground himself:

Wreden returned home having decided how, if his game sold well, he would spend the money. “He said that he would go to the store and buy the cheapest and most expensive salmon,” Ismail recalled. Wreden would then cook the two fish side by side and conduct a taste test to see whether the cost difference was justified.

The Secret of Immersive Game Worlds →

The makers of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter on how games today are created with an artificial 'lure' to pull the players through the level (like the yellow landmarks in The Last of Us) and how this makes the game world feel synthetic and unnatural.

The Setup / John McAfee →

This is amazing. Without spoiling much: his favourite piece of software is the remote control software for the M153 50 caliber machine gun. His second favourite is the Smart Voice Recorder for Android.