Out With the Old

What music lessons do to children.

Why time management is ruining our lives.

Warm ocean water is melting the biggest glacier in East Antarctica.

The holes left in cities by income inequality.

Finding Bana.

Truth is a lost game in Turkey.

The murder that killed free media in Russia.

The year Facebook became the bad guy. Stop blaming Facebook for Trump.

Trump’s threat to the Constitution.

When tyranny takes hold.

The birth pangs of a Third Reconstruction.

My very own pinecone.

31 December 2016

Tail Feathers

Rudolf the Shrinking Reindeer.

Sand’s end.

Turtle rescue.

The world’s cheapest electricity.

The All-State Automated System for the Gathering and Processing of Information for the Accounting, Planning and Governance of the National Economy.

The scientists who make apps addictive.

Alan Moore’s Star Wars.

The hygge conspiracy.

The Periodic Table of Gender.

A feathered dinosaur tail trapped in amber. We can’t prove they weren’t huge fatbirds.

18 December 2016

Choose Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

The T2 Trainspotting trailer (which looks great) introduced me to Wolf Alice, whose debut album I now can’t stop listening to. The perfect soundtrack for some miscellaneous links...

Read More · 6 November 2016

The Cheezel Mussolini

Americans have Cheetos, but the Australian brand-name of Cheezels is so much more assonant for describing the aspirational Commandant-in-Chief. Thankfully it looks as if the debates will be his undoing, but it’s horrifying that it’s got this close.

Read More · 29 September 2016

That Was the Month That Wasn’t

August and September have been far too busy to pay proper attention to this blogging-for-nobody lark, but I want to give this second sidebar photo from a week’s holiday in Denmark an outing, so here are some links. (Denmark was good fun. I plan to put some more photos together eventually, but I remember saying that a few too many times over recent years after trips away. Whither Detail...)

Read More · 29 September 2016

Under the Milky Way

Network TV in 1967 imagines the 21st century.

The king of Soviet TV commercials.

Hillary Clinton’s inner circle.

Washing machines improve school attendance.

“From a human rights perspective ... there has never been a successful Olympics.”

The late Gawker.com’s 2007 style guide.

What are the worst airports in the world?

Nicholas Carr: “The idea of the computer network as an engine of liberation is an innocent fraud.”

Laser cleaning.

Why we need darkness.

31 August 2016

And So to Bed

Bare life in a state of emergency.

May plans to make life harder for international students.

Battery status can be used to track you.

“Police surveillance destroyed my life.”

The NSA target a pro-democracy campaigner from Fiji.

The terrifying airport shooting that wasn’t.

Capital letters out, swearwords in.

Cycles of violence.

Himmler’s diaries.

Fears of a yellow fever epidemic.

Melting ice could expose hazardous Cold War waste.

How millions of trees brought a Midlands landscape back to life.

17 August 2016

Burning Down the House

Trump’s ghostwriter tells all. Trump exposes Trump. Too good to check.

Trump and Putin, in a tree. “Putin could not have been nicer.” Putin’s trolls are posing as Trump supporters.

Why Trump’s supporters think he’ll win. Republican Party burns down one last institution: itself. How American politics became so ineffective.

The real reason that so many Americans hate Hillary. A plea for reason. How a Hillary Clinton presidency could transform America.

Melania Trump stumbles upon dozens of her husband’s haunting, macabre self-portraits.

Our kids are watching, Donald.

17 August 2016

Motivational Mumbo-Jumbo

Brexit blues. “The cod-psychology of self-help and motivational mumbo-jumbo has seeped into the Brexit debate.” Brexiteers are becoming ever more incoherent—could it be they don’t know their own minds? “If this money doesn’t go to the NHS, I will go mad.”

Like it or not, Europe has a say on how Brexit will happen. The EU should offer Britain a binary choice. Liam Fox’s department entertains leaving the single market for the WTO wilderness. Losing single market membership would cost the UK £75 billion. Brexit could see the whole of Whitehall grinding to a halt under its own weight.

Upset by Brexit, some British Jews look to Germany. Delighted by Brexit, Nigel Farage looks to Germany.

17 August 2016

Mechanical Mirrors

Little fluffy clouds. Greenland just lost a trillion tons of ice. Sections of the Great Barrier Reef are suffering “complete ecosystem collapse”. Planned obsolescence is coming to LED bulbs. For the cost of an iPhone, you can now buy a wind turbine that can power an entire house for lifetime.

The rise of Theresa May and the decline of British politics. Brexit minister David Davis seems to think the Republic of Ireland is part of the UK. UK scientists speak about Brexit pain. The UK economy is shrinking at its fastest rate since 2009. If only everyone in Britain had watched this before the referendum.

The haters and losers who drove Donald Trump to the nomination. Hillary Clinton is running against Vladimir Putin. Trump’s convention speech rings terrifying historical alarm bells.

The nationalism that’s been unleashed in Turkey. 15,000 education workers purged. We cannot ignore the purge that is now under way.

The man who killed TTIP.

Daniel Rozin’s mechanical mirrors.

24 July 2016

The Unspeakable Underwaist

One of the best pieces on Hillary Clinton I’ve read in 24 years of reading about her.

Researching video games puts academics at risk.

How studying Shakespeare helped shape Germaine Greer’s masterpiece.

The unexpected effects of masking gender in technical interviews.

An impressive Somme tribute.

All mangroves must die.

Famous landmarks photographed from the wrong direction.

Lost animations.

ClickHole nails US regional dialects with one simple question.

12 July 2016

Other Links Are Available

Why don’t we stand with Turkey, like we did with Paris and Orlando?

Trauma expert lifts the lid on Australia’s detention regime.

African migrants are returning from China and telling their compatriots not to go.

How turn-taking and short gaps in conversation are universal.

Artificial sound effects have entered the Uncanny Valley.

Of Oz the Wizard.

1 July 2016

Eight Days a Week

I walked from Liverpool to London. Brexit was no surprise. This man voted Leave to spread the pain. Brexit was a con. The great betrayal. Brexit is only the latest proof of the insularity and failure of Western establishment institutions. A disaster decades in the making.

Referendums are supposed to make people happy. Why are even Leave voters upset? Research suggests 2.3 million Leave voters regret their choice.

Brexit will not mean greater catches. Of course the Brexiters didn’t plan. Arsonists never carry water. Brexit is a revolution, and like all revolutions, it will eat its own.

Police log fivefold rise in race-hate complaints since the Brexit result. No rise in Scotland.

Scottish MEP’s pro-EU speech was made up on the spot. Nigel Farage made me facepalm. I couldn’t hide my despair.

1 July 2016

A Nightmare Before Brexit

Say Brexit breaks it.
Boris’ll fix it?
Will he, bollox.

Read More · 22 June 2016

Seven Days

Owen Jones: On Sky News last night, I realised how far some will go to ignore homophobia.

A time capsule of the unpresidential things Trump says. Republican leaders cower as Trump burns down their party.

Our refugee system is failing. Here’s how we can fix it.

Brexit voters are almost twice as likely to disbelieve in manmade climate change.

The pitfalls of Brexit negotiations with the EU.

If you inject enough poison into the political bloodstream, somebody will get sick.

Calls not to “politicise” the assassination of an MP are weasel words by the architects of hate.

17 June 2016

Overdoing the Fake Tan

Family chooses different dog than reincarnated grandfather.

Trump’s conflict-of-interest problem. Who he?

Bionic leaf surpasses efficiency of photosynthesis.

How Silicon Valley nails Silicon Valley. Its real-life models.

The Great Barrier Reef: a catastrophe laid bare.

Seagull turns orange after falling into vat of tikka masala.

Paris floods, 1910 and 2016.

Frontiers of peace.

Britons demand to live in medieval village surrounded by a wall.

12 June 2016

Ghost Towns

Brazil’s coup.

The dangerous acceptance of Donald Trump. Ten things every politician who endorses Trump should be forced to defend. Trump on climate: even worse than you thought. Trump’s Twitter stormtroopers. Just what were Trump’s ties to the Mob?

Aw, jeez.

Mongolia’s new national addressing system.

Floating solar farms.

Neanderthal cave structures from 175,000 years ago.

Australia scrubbed from UN climate change report after government intervention.

Every schoolkid in Britain should hear this. Not to mention every undergrad engineer.

Ashgabat: the city of the living and the city of the dead.

30 May 2016


More links filched from MetaFilter and Twitter.

Read More · 22 May 2016

A Low-Flying Panic Attack

Just my luck that Radiohead release a glorious new album right in the middle of marking season. Makes a change from posthumous discography binges, at least. I’m past first reactions now and up to about ninth, but it still feels a little premature to post a review. In the meantime, some earth-shaped links.

148 lost notebooks.

The other budget. The Arctic death spiral. Humans have caused all warming since 1950. Fort McMurray’s fire. Cambodia’s drought. How climate scientists feel about climate change.

Mass surveillance breeds meekness, fear and self-censorship. The fog near a cliff. Whistleblowing is an act of political resistance.

Working-class actors are disappearing in Britain.

Concrete madeleines for former ACT residents.

9 May 2016

Sometimes it Snows in April

Not just a Prince reference; it actually did snow on the hills around Edinburgh yesterday, although in our part of the city it was merely wet and freezing.

Speaking of El Symbol: Prince memories. The oral history of Purple Rain. Prince’s low-profile generosity to green causes.


The sugar conspiracy.

Five insane things we believe about money, thanks to movies and TV.

What would happen if we just gave people money? The long history of basic income proposals is enlightening; nobody ever talked about it in the late 1980s, when I first thought it seemed a good way to go.

George Monbiot on neoliberalism.

Only 15–20 years before widespread loss of ocean oxygen.

And I know I said I don’t normally link technical how-tos, but I’m going to again. If you accidentally crack the screen of your Kindle 3, these replacement instructions (as simplified in the comment from Dave, dated 06/15/2015) are the business. A new screen, battery and keyboard cost me around twenty quid on eBay, and following the steps wasn’t hard.

30 April 2016

Heaven and Hell

Oliver Burkeman: Scheduling is the best way to get creative work done.

The largest ever analysis of film dialogue by gender.

Beware the grinning emoji, my son! The teeth that bite, the renderings that mismatch!

I don’t normally link technical how-tos, but this was a godsend when attempting to install Slack on my iPhone 4: How to download and install apps on older versions of iOS (entirely legitimately).

How Internet mapping turned a remote farm into a digital hell. How the Internet turned a remote town into a digital heaven.

How humanity first killed the dodo, then lost it.

Marine heatwave in Tasmania puts species at risk.

Dolphins have a language. Surely we knew that thirty years ago?

Clive James: “I’ve got a lot done since my death”, but “still being alive is embarrassing”. He’s writing for The Observer again and just reviewed Game of Thrones in The New Yorker, which might even prompt me to start watching it. Plus he has a new verse book about Proust out this week.

The world’s first Pastafarian wedding.

Here are the times I am typically free to meet.

24 April 2016

Serious Business

Benin City, the medieval capital now lost without trace. 100 African cities destroyed by Europeans.

In the capital of Europe. Written before the bombings of last week, which once again reminded me in the worst possible fashion that I’ve visited too many sites of subsequent terrorism. New York, Paris, London... Brussels.

Three-quarters of UK children spend less time outdoors than prison inmates.

Nothing to apologize for.

Teachers sent packing because they earn too little.

Netflix generates more traffic than the entire Internet.

The Bribe Factory.

Global warming’s terrifying new chemistry. Current temperatures are shocking even to climate scientists. Longest coral bleaching event on record. West Antarctic ice sheet could melt rapidly. Carbon emissions haven’t been this high since the dinosaurs.

31 March 2016

Shabba Me Whiskers

Many of the world’s lakes are vanishing. Greenland’s feedback loop. February breaks global temperature records by even more than January did.

A route to carbon-negative cars.

“These people are you and me”: Richard Flanagan meets Syrian refugees.

The most radioactive towel in history.

Frequency delinquency. !?,;:--.

Andy Stanton’s cult humour for kids. His Mr Gum books are some of the funniest I’ve read, to my son or otherwise. Andy Stanton at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Brian Six.

The funniest hacker stock photos and (better) the funniest hacker stock photos 2.0.

A musical instrument made from a badger badger badger badger thereminnn thereminnnnnn.

Grenade in microwave! [Link already dead, sadly.]

17 March 2016

Danger is Everywhere

The favourite temperature dataset of climate deniers just confirmed global warming.

“All we can do is hold our hearts”: my Mefi post on the breathtaking threat of the Mosul dam.

The man who made “the worst video game in history”.

An accurate predictor of whether someone supports Donald Trump.

Tip off.

The Snoopers’ Charter promises a surveillance state comparable only to China and Russia.

Why Facebook is depressing.


The Most Dangerous Writing App (via Mefi).

Read More · 3 March 2016

Carry On Keeping On

Back from Oz (last week), where I abandoned all pretence of keeping up a daily posting schedule. But still collected a few links.

A history of Japan.

An oral history of Deliverance.

Google can tell where a photo was taken using just pixels.

A village built for Fiji’s poor survived Cyclone Winston unscathed.

How America made Donald Trump unstoppable.

The boomer supremacy.


Austerity nostalgia.

An enormous musical marble machine.

“Wrong type of trees” in Europe increased global warming. Fossil fuel use must fall twice as fast as thought. Antarctica could be much more vulnerable to melting than we thought. Sea-level rise “could last twice as long as human history”.

Australia has a new climate.

2 March 2016

A Ton of Feathers

Why Britain is mourning Terry Wogan.

Why the Republican establishment mistakenly thinks it can control Donald Trump.

The current Tory stance on human rights: “a much better absurdity than the alternative”.

And in other human rights news...

The Sinister History of the Belle and Sebastian Email List. Reminds me of something.

Tom Ewing on MP3s in 1999. “All a URL and thirty minutes wait away.”

2 February 2016

YouTube Stars

My Nottingham friends and I spent Saturday night showing each other amusing YouTube videos. All of my links were ones I’ve posted here before—Matt Mulholland, the “Dancing in the Streets” musicless video, Adam Buxton’s Bowie clips, the Jurassic Park theme on melodica—but some of theirs were new to me, and we uncovered some more good ones:

The Brett Domino Trio had somehow completely passed me by. Their cover of Sexy and I Know It gives a good idea of their stuff. Buck Rogers (by Feeder). Jurassic Park Theme (with Lyrics). Hey Ya! on a Skoog. What Would You Do (If a Shark Started Eating You). How to Make a Hit Pop Song, Pt. 1 and Pt. 2.

The wonderful world of shreds and musicless videos: The Beach Boys’ I Get Around; Queen’s We Will Rock You; Britney Spears’ Oops! I Did It Again.

And I don’t think I’ve ever linked this one here: Adam Buxton’s I Am James Bond.

1 February 2016

Here’s a Good World the While

Concept portable TV from 1967.

Who is so gross that cannot see this palpable device?

Bill McKibben on the Zika virus.

Werner Herzog has taken on the Internet.

Africa 2081 A.D.

28 January 2016

1/2 Cup Baking Soda 2 More Cups Flower

How to make an incredibly realistic watermelon cake.

24 January 2016

Speling Mistakes

Carbon sink.

Bill McKibben on the real zombie apocalypse.

The citizen scientist who solved her own medical mystery.

A rejoinder to arguments that online life isn’t “real”.

Lancashire police interviewed a 10-year-old because of a spelling mistake. [Edit, 23 January: They now say there was more to it.]

21 January 2016

Haydn Seeker

The beautiful moment a kangaroo cradled his dying companion... or... not. Erm.

104 symphonies—who knows what treasures are Haydn in there? This guy does.

Russian builds homemade off-roader from mothballed Lada.

BBC controllers are scared we’ll laugh at them.

More links of a Bowie nature in the comments on last Wednesday’s post.

18 January 2016

Alan Turing Adventure

The ultimate masquerade.

A walk in the woods.

Games to play with your child in which you barely have to move or talk.

Why The Force Awakens isn’t just a carbon copy. It’s a classical epic.

12 January 2016


The Website Obesity Crisis (via Mefi): “Overcomplicating the web means lifting up the ladder that used to make it possible for people to teach themselves and surprise everyone with unexpected new ideas.” A brilliant talk about more than page bloat.

5 January 2016

Bronze Division

Fractal cityscapes.

Late-anaphase budding yeast, in bronze.

Democracy and the policy preferences of wealthy Americans (pdf). No surprises, but useful to see some firm data.

The comment value hierarchy (via LMG).

4 January 2016

←Weblog in 2015