Hotter Than July

The world’s fastest shoelace knot.

Earth’s land mammals by weight.

“We are building skyscraper favelas in code —in earthquake zones.”

It’s not climate change — it’s everything change.

The art of the car chase.

What’s the deal with translating Seinfeld?

The source of bad writing.

The web we have to save.

The end of capitalism has begun.

1 August 2015 · · Weblog

Summer Holiday

Hartz Mountains National Park

We got back earlier this week from a month in Australia, our first visit in over five years. It was a pretty intense trip, not only because we saw lots of family and friends, some of whom we hadn’t seen in that long or even longer, but because our kids were now old enough to be taking it all in much more than when they were little.

I had thought that going in winter—because that’s when northern summer holidays happen—might lead to a lot of wet and grey days indoors, but we were lucky with the weather, which was sunny in Sydney and Canberra, and mostly sunny in Tassie, and only really wet and grey on one weekend in Melbourne. Then there was our trip to the Hartz Mountains National Park, when the temperature dropped as we climbed the mountain, until it hit zero and the early morning drizzle turned... to snow. In all my past years of visiting the place, I’d never seen it looking like this. More photos and reflections to come, once I get organized.

Meanwhile, Cecil has been blogging in my absence (because I queued up a month’s worth of entries beforehand in WordPress), and has now finished his adventures in Peru. But that project isn’t quite finished yet, either, so stay tuned for further developments.

31 July 2015 · · Journal

Changing Colours

I followed my stolen iPhone across the world.

Comic artists’ obsession with Mad Max: Fury Road.

The dead of World War II, visualised.

Maasai women lead a solar revolution.

Madagascar’s Panther Chameleon is actually eleven different species.

Missing link found between the brain and the immune system (Nature article, via Mefi). Louveau had better clear a space on his shelf for a Nobel.

How well can you hear audio quality? (Three out of six for me. Eyes boxes of CDs warily...)

Australian maths academics “could be jailed for delivering online course material to foreign students”.

The undoing of Ed Miliband.

How a fake news story wrecked three people’s lives.

12 June 2015 · · Weblog

Shiny and Chrome

The man who cut out his own appendix. There’s a potential joke to be made here about socialised medicine, but I’m too in awe. (The jokes could go either way, I suppose... mine would be on the “Bow Down to the Awesome Resolve of its Surgeons!” side.)

If you don’t speak French, how can you judge if Charlie Hebdo is racist?

Inspirational Tasmanian MHA and Senator Christine Milne’s journey.

Windows is Shutting Down.

Why the New York of the movies doesn’t exist any more.

Abandon all hope, ye who enter Twenty.

Self-driving trucks are going to crash into the US economy.

Time-lapse mining from internet photos. The coolest image-manipulation I’ve seen since seam carving.

“Why should you thank someone for not killing you?”

Octoploid, Bartholomew the Rhinoceros, and more sculpture by Jud Turner.

On the road again with George Miller. Fourteen-year-old me from 1982 grabbed me by the throat and dragged me to the nearest cinema to watch Mad Max: Fury Road on the big screen. It was stunning: every bit as good as the hype has it. Rewatching the originals over the weekend was worthwhile, too; even Thunderdome came off better than I’d remembered.

22 May 2015 · · Weblog

Y’all Doomed

There’s no point posting most of the post-mortem links I gathered after the election, but here’s a few that stuck.

Paul Mason: Labour haven’t just failed to win—it’s worse than that.

John Prescott: Labour lost the election 5 years ago.

Inside the Milibunker: the last days of Ed.

The reinvention of the SNP.

Six reasons you don’t want to be George Osborne right now.

The arguments against the Human Rights Act are coming. They will be false.

Which human right would you give away?

22 May 2015 · · Politics

It Had to Be Done

For too long, man has yearned to destroy the sun.

14 May 2015 · · Politics

It was a record year for turnover at the top of the UK single charts, but I haven’t had much to say about many of 2000’s number ones. Here are some more of the honourable exceptions.

Read More · 5 May 2015 · Music

Popular has spent 2015 exploring the number ones of 2000, which is starting to tread on musical ground first covered at this very site; but a lot can change in fifteen years. Here are some of my initial comments on the year’s UK number ones, edited and adapted.

Read More · 5 May 2015 · Music

Fixed Terms

With only a few days to go, some legal and economic views on the General Election. Minority governments under the Westminster system. The Fixed-term Parliaments Act. The myth of British Euroskepticism. Paul Krugman on austerity.

Australia, Renovation Nation. Episode 2. Episode 3.

Have these solar-powered blood banks saved lives in Nepal? You can only hope.

Gone.

India searches for the perfect cookstove. (We got a rocket stove to take camping last year. It’s so efficient we’ve ditched our portable barbecue and bags of charcoal; a few handfuls of dry sticks can cook a meal.)

Why can’t we read anymore?

Class privilege and “doing what you love”.

Many undergraduates don’t see plagiarism as a big deal. Looks like they should.

4 May 2015 · · Weblog

I’ve spent the past week and a half preoccupied with Blur’s new album The Magic Whip, which is better than anyone had any right to expect. It’s fast become my favourite Blur album since The Great Escape, possibly even since Parklife, which for an unexpected comeback is some sort of miracle; it’s as if they never went away.

A few blurry links: interviews and analyses at DIY and The Sunday Times; reviews at Drowned In Sound and The Guardian; Graham Coxon and Stephen Street talk about it.

4 May 2015 · · Music

Nutraloaf

What prisoners eat. What astronauts eat.

A school orchestra with a difference.

Taking notes by hand, vindicated.

Lost in emoji translation.

Punk’s Sistine Chapel.

Father Ted’s legacy.

Renewable energy at an industrial scale. Is it too late?

25 April 2015 · · Weblog

Umami

How to talk Comedy Writer.

Let’s Speak English.

Why doesn’t everyone in Asia have a headache?

Paraguay’s awful history.

The man who missed killing Hitler by 13 minutes.

Read More · 19 April 2015 · · Weblog

April 2015