Frisbees of Death

A battery-free phone that harvests ambient power. Battery-free devices that communicate via Wi-Fi.

Frisbees of death.

The Puerto Rico death toll may be sixteen times the official one.

A Twitter thread on the battles ahead for the Brexit deal-makers by Kirsty Hughes, Director of the Scottish Centre on European Relations.

The Irish border and the revenge of game theory.

British bureaucrats in limbo in Brussels.

Harrassment of EU citizens in the UK rises.

How the populist right is redrawing the map of Europe. Fascism runs in my American family.

14 December 2017 · Comment · Weblog

Up the Chimney

The chimney map. Unravelling the chimney map. Finding the chimney map. (As posted to Metafilter.)

The rewiring of our relationship to music.

Venezuela and Russia teamed up to push pro-Catalan fake news.

Trump knows exactly what he’s doing.

We’re all to blame for the nightmare of online debate.

Don’t trust your eyes.

Why are we doing this.

9 December 2017 · Comment · Weblog

Non-Stop Brexit Cabaret

Some Brexit-related links I haven’t already bundled into recent posts.

Read More · 9 December 2017 · Comment · Politics

Fazed One

The UK media are reporting the news of yesterday’s Brexit “breakthrough” as if progress is being made, when the story of this week should be that we couldn’t trust May and her government to organise a piss-up in a Members’ Lounge, let alone negotiate all of our futures. They’ve just papered over the inherent contradictions of the border issue so that progress can be seen to be made, not actually made. You can’t have no checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic and no checks between Northern Ireland and mainland UK while maintaining that a hard border exists between the UK and the EU. This accepts freedom of movement by default; in which case, what on earth is the point of maintaining that the UK needs to leave the single market and customs union?

Unless... the plan is to restrict freedom of movement by requiring identity checks within the UK of anyone “foreign” whenever suspicion arises that they aren’t in the UK legitimately. That would certainly be in keeping with May’s track record as Home Secretary and PM. So, if you look or sound “different”: papers, please. So much for EU27 citizens (or any other immigrants, or children of immigrants) now being able to feel secure here. Whether or not companies feel that this “breakthrough” gives them enough reason to pause their Brexit contingency plans, I doubt it will cause most affected individuals to do so.

Read More · 9 December 2017 · Comment · Politics

Have You, in Fact, Got Any Cheese Here at All?

In an extraordinary moment in a week full of them, it became clear yesterday that Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis has been bluffing on Brexit, and that the 58 (or 57, or 50–60) impact assessments he has alluded to for months, and which were requested by Parliament six weeks ago, do not, in fact, exist.

Read More · 7 December 2017 · 1 Comment · Politics

Turner Reprise

Given how willing Britain’s MPs seem to be to burn down their country through their own indecisiveness and blinkered attachment to the past, it’s no surprise that they’re willing to risk the same fate for their workplace.

Read More · 1 December 2017 · Comment · UK Culture

A Mandate for Damn All

Let’s leave aside, for one moment, the questions around the legitimacy of the Leave referendum victory, the phony promise of £350m a week for the NHS, interference from dodgy foreign billionaires and Russia, and the fact that the referendum as enacted by Parliament was explicitly advisory and that it was only the Cameron government who said that a leave result would be implemented. Focus instead on the fact that a 48% vote for the status quo plus a tiny share of the Leave vote would deliver a mandate for maintaining the status quo on almost any Brexit-related issue.

Read More · 27 November 2017 · Comment · Politics

Someone Left the Cake Out in the Rain

Almost everything that Brexiters say now, in the circumstance of having chosen to leave, makes much more sense as a response to being forced to leave. ... Instead of the generosity, confidence, patience and optimism that might be expected to accompany victory what we see amongst Brexiters is an oscillation between sour, crabby, resentful anger and bellicose, belligerent, defiant anger. That anger seems, if anything, to grow with each passing week.

Read More · 24 November 2017 · Comment · Politics


The past bleak few weeks have been improved by the return of Mackenzie Crook’s Detectorists, possibly the most perfect piece of television of the last decade. This charming, witty, beautifully shot series about hobbyists, archaeology and village life is also one of the most profound portraits of friendships and relationships, of many kinds, that I’ve ever seen on TV, all captured in a string of half hours that glitter like gold coins on a field.

Having watched it from the start, I was looking forward to a third series, although with some apprehension about whether the high standard could be maintained. Three episodes in, it’s already clear that series three will take the show out on a high note, as Crook spins his small-scale dramas into a story that connects to so much more about England and its place in the world.

That, sad to say, is one of the bittersweet aspects of watching Detectorists series three. The rapturous trance has been shaken, if not broken, by events since its 2015 Christmas special. Watching it now, you can’t help wondering which of the resolutely English residents of Danebury voted Leave. Terry, almost certainly. Sheila, probably. Lance?

I’d rather remember them, and rural England, as unsullied by 2016 and 2017. But there’s no escaping the times we find ourselves in, and in the face of Brexit, Detectorists remains some of the best escapism going. For one and a half more hours.

Series 3 will be the last. Mackenzie Crook interviewed. Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones interviewed. “When people find it and realise what is, they hold it close to them.”

23 November 2017 · 1 Comment · Television

Technological Marvels

Scientists call for a ban on slaughterbots (but could a ban even work?).

Something is wrong on the internet. How keywords trick kids into watching violent YouTube videos.

How foreshortening tricks Amazon customers into buying the wrong long bear.

One hour of access every Sunday night.

The power of boredom.


23 November 2017 · Comment · Net Culture

No Quarter

I’ve never thought of myself as being any sort of empath, but maybe there’s hope, because I never got past the first episode on the first DVD of series one of Louie that we got given one Christmas, and now it feels as if the vibe I got from it was guiding true. I’ve locked in that piece of critical armour for good.

This Twitter thread inspired by CK’s behaviour is what’s shaken me most. Most men, surely, would find it shocking that there are enough shitty men acting out their basest fantasies to scar so many women and children. We have the unearned privilege of being shocked because such creeps don’t try it in front of other men. All the more reason to publicise it, and to fight the patriarchal culture that gives rise to it.

Read More · 23 November 2017 · Comment · Events

Towering Cliffs

All that glitters is not good as gold.

Après nous, le déluge.

Cities that will be drowned by global warming.

A smog vacuum cleaner, and other magical city designs.

“For nearly 100 years, we have been stuck in the Age of Blorp.” (I don’t agree with it all, but it’s worth a read.)

Rejecting the modern world is a privileged fantasy.

100% renewable electricity worldwide is feasible, and cheaper than business-as-usual.

23 November 2017 · Comment · Weblog

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