Wasting Time on the Internet

Burning NH4Cr2O7 with HgSCN opens a portal to Hell.

Burning hydrocarbons threatens to open a portal to Hell.

Frank Serpico (of Al Pacino movie fame) on today’s out-of-control cops.

Escape from Jonestown.

Why we should give free money to everyone.

Why I am teaching a course called “Wasting Time on the Internet”.

Musician plays an actual keyboard cat.

George Costanza in Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee”. Pretty slight, but I’ll take whatever reminders of Seinfeld I can get.

If cities were lit only by the stars (via Wired).

I vant to be alone.

24 November 2014 · Weblog

Racing around the world with Popular.

Read More · 20 November 2014 · Music

The Popular thread on Britney Spears’ first UK number one wandered into some depressing territory, thanks to the song’s controversial video. Here are some of my comments from it.

Read More · 20 November 2014 · Music

Creating and Doing

How to win the lottery (via Mefi).

Against productivity.

How to shut down Tolkien (Mefi).

Don’t assume that the last one is only for programmers; it’s almost entirely about writers, and has lessons for anyone seeking to create anything. It’s made me reflect on my own efforts to create stuff online, and how and why they’ve dwindled in recent years; it might even serve as a spur to do something about it.

On that note: Dan Ariely on managing your time (via, erm, Time).

11 November 2014 · Weblog

Ghost Country

World maps without New Zealand.

Text Messages From a Ghost and its sequel.

The Hot Zone and the mythos of Ebola.

A Nigerian virologist on Africa’s response to Ebola.

More late poems by the still-not-late Clive James: My Latest Fever and Rounded with a Sleep.

In memoriam: Noel Pearson remembers Gough Whitlam and Cate Blanchett thanks Whitlam for free education.

A five hundred year moment? (Via Mefi.)

The Internet’s First Family (or, What Is All This “Via Mefi” Stuff, Anyway).

11 November 2014 · Weblog

When Women Stopped Coding. I was a teenager when personal computers were first making their way into homes and schools and being monopolised by boys. Before then, everyone taking computer science at university was coming to it cold, so young men and women were starting on a level playing field. By the time I took first-year comp sci, you could already see the “computers are for boys” narrative bedding in.

In a related vein: The Dads of Tech.

The Sixth Stage of Grief is Retro-Computing.

11 November 2014 · Infotech

Pecked to Death by Ducks

I’ve spent far too much time in recent weeks following the depressing saga of Gamergate, a collective outburst that should really have lasted no more than a day but thanks to Twitter has dragged on for months, making life miserable for numerous female gamers, developers and critics. As someone who was a nerdy, shy teenaged male obsessed with computers and games, my sympathies are naturally with... the people who haven’t been waging a misogynistic hate campaign. I mean, Jesus.

Read More · 9 November 2014 · Net Culture

We Accidentally Replaced Your Heart With a Baked Potato

Reheating carbs makes them act more like fibre.

Engkey, the robot English teacher from South Korea.

A six-hour comedy sketch posing as an animated airline ad.

Isaac Asimov on creativity.

Beslan massacre families urge the UK not to leave the ECHR.

UKIP's own goal: support for the EU at its highest in 23 years.

The man with the golden blood.

Predicting the future of evolution.

27 October 2014 · Weblog

After mentioning in my last entry on the late Gough Whitlam that I once interviewed him for my student mag, I dug out the interview to remind myself how it went. Even though it’s about the fleeting events of the day, I thought I’d scan it and share it here.

Read More · 23 October 2014 · People


Gough Whitlam shaped my life more than any other politician. His government’s investment in higher education meant my father got a pay rise and our family could afford the house I grew up in from the age of five. The introduction of equal pay for women meant that Mum’s wages were on a par with Dad’s throughout my teenage years, which was tremendously important for our family finances and for the message it sent to her two sons. I was one of the last to benefit from a free higher education as an undergraduate, during the 15-year window of opportunity his government opened in 1974. Because of Whitlam, I was able to vote in my state election in 1986 and the federal election in 1987, three years earlier than I otherwise could have, and was able to vote for senators when I later lived in the ACT. I grew up singing “Advance Australia Fair” at school, not “God Save the Queen”.

Read More · 21 October 2014 · People

Okay, You Can Keep the Rock

Neill Cameron of The Phoenix on why reading comics matters. Makes me wish for some way back to cheap-paper black-and-white comics with four-colour covers. Also part two, the (new) golden age of children’s comics.

Anil Dash: 15 lessons from 15 years of blogging.

Ebola swamps a city in Sierra Leone.

The Thread.

Lego Tarkus.

How flash photography changed American politics.

E.T. is ready for his closeup.

A solar cell that stores its own power.

Trouble at the Koolaid Point [Wired mirror].

Unseen Moon footage.

11 October 2014 · Weblog

A tragicomic day in the life of a walrus.

We Are All Together

2 October 2014 · Events

September 2014