Planet Radio

All 218 U2 songs, ranked from worst to best, not including the new album (which is okay, but has nothing to match “California”, which should be a lot higher than number 121 on this list. Good list, though).

Radio Garden took me right back to listening to longwave radio in Nuku‘alofa in 1993.

The incredible sound of the Taonga Pūoro (via Mefi).

An interview with Ursula K. Le Guin. After a childhood and young adulthood reading mostly science fiction, I ended up feeling that Le Guin and Philip K. Dick were the apotheosis of the genre, and that’s pretty much where I’ve been ever since.

How Hong Kong failed Madagascar’s domestic helpers.

If you tax the rich, they won’t leave. The author was featured recently on Ed Miliband’s and Geoff Lloyd’s new podcast, Reasons to be Cheerful (which is my podcast discovery of the month—surprisingly compelling and entertaining stuff from Labour’s ex-leader).

The real price of Brexit begins to emerge. Exodus of foreign workers leaves British employers in the lurch. You can’t always get what you want.

19 December 2017

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

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

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

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

Noodly Appendages

How did I miss the Ramen Burger? Here’s how to make your own, plus a selection of miscellaneous links (Trump/Brexit excluded, for the moment).

Read More · 28 October 2017

Hurricane Season

Another batch of links on politics and other miscellany.

Read More · 2 October 2017

The Wiley, Windy Moors

It’s a big ol’ links round-up. Exasperating political stuff below the fold.

Idyllic old postcards of the Catskills are now scenes of abandonment.

How our pictures can help reclaim lost history.

Dutch masterpieces with mechanics.

The Netherlands feeds the world.

A collection of deliberately inconvenient objects.

The notorious “free watch”.

Shoegaze isn’t dead, it just moved east.

Aussie bloke sings “Wuthering Heights” in its original key. A Brazilian equivalent.

Morris the reversible fish.

These videos about EnChroma glasses are a study in bottled-up male emotion. It’s like watching Field of Dreams.

Read More · 19 September 2017

Hot August Sites

The 100 greatest comedy movies, according to a BBC poll of international critics. I’ve only seen 62 of them, better get cracking. [Edit, 2/10/17:] Time Out made a similar list in January. Members of Metafilter suggested more.

The first album composed and produced by an AI.

Twelve ways to spot a bot.

The Home Office isn’t fit for purpose. It shouldn’t matter that the government has got the number of migrants wrong. People with two nationalities should be feted, not mistrusted.

Can we fix it? No, someone else can. Thread.

Just how evil is Sheriff Joe Arpaio?

The end of the line for queueing.

My iPhone turned me into a squirrel-chasing dog.

31 August 2017

The State of Things

I’d better get a post up if this blog isn’t to go a whole second month without any. The summer holidays took over: first I was out in Australia for a few weeks with the kids visiting family, and when we got back I began decluttering, culling five hundred old books and listing a bunch on Amazon, carting stuff to charity shops, auctioning on eBay, and tidying up things that had accumulated over the years. All still ongoing. We’ve also had trips to Glasgow, to Glentress for mountain-biking, a few Fringe shows, friends visiting, and the kids going back to school; and a disaster or two, such as our son’s new bike getting pinched last week.

So there hasn’t been much time for stopping here to comment on the state of the world, sorry as it is. Not that much has changed since the last times I did: Brexit is still a shambles, Trump has dropped all pretense of being anything other than fascist, and the climate is still inexorably changing.

But I do have a ridiculous backlog of links to post, so here’s a selection.

Read More · 28 August 2017

The End of Coffee


A vaccine could reverse Type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune disorders.

Britain: the end of a fantasy.

Anatomy of a doomed campaign.

The Republican defense of Trump is built on a massive lie.


What’s wrong with bribing millennials?

No time like the present.

Where Brexit will hurt the most.

Give nothing to racism.

Going with the cheaper, flammable cladding saved five grand. Unbearable.

The end of coffee.

20 June 2017


Time for an update on U.S. politics. Events are moving faster than any occasional-links-posting blog, so I’ve skipped the more ephemeral links and focussed here on some more lasting ones.

Read More · 13 June 2017

Ancient and Modern

A jade bracelet made millennia before the Stone Age, and not by modern humans.

Humans were in California 130,000 years ago.

Submerged landscapes of the North Sea.

Shoreline erosion in Tasmania.

38 million pieces of plastic on an uninhabited South Pacific island.

Where oil rigs go to die.

Where have all the insects gone?

Europe’s last primeval forest is on the brink of collapse.

American climate change refugees. U.S. conservatives’ incoherence over climate change.

Australia’s first wooden office building.

11 June 2017

Scallop Gallops

An air-powered car—made of Lego.

The Lego Apollo Saturn V has exactly 1969 pieces.

How online shopping makes suckers of us all.

Torching the modern-day library of Alexandria. How eBooks lost their shine. UK readers return to print. The fall and rise of physical book sales worldwide.

The demographic inversion.

The best way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sgt Pepper and the 40th of Star Wars.

The 200-word RPG challenge.

Roger Moore, in memoriam (a two-parter—make sure you click through to the epilogue).


Fun with Atoms: The Radium Girls. Starfish Prime.

How do you count without numbers?

Here comes the galloping scallop.

11 June 2017

Hopes and Fears

I couldn’t vote this morning as I usually try to, and have had a vague dread all day of being hit by a bus before I can get to the polling station this evening.

Despite my bitterness over the line Jeremy Corbyn has taken over Brexit, and being convinced in the early weeks that we’re doomed, I’ve found myself caught up in hope borne out of recent opinion polls and my Twitter bubble that he, and the decent Labour policies he brings with him, might get over the line, or over enough of a line to form a minority government, or something, anything. Anything other than the bumbling, evasive, heartless, smug authoritarianism of Theresa May and her party, which promises to ramp the past seven years up into an exponential curve of awful.

But we’re probably doomed.

Here are some links I’ve been neglecting to post here in the interim.

Read More · 8 June 2017

The State of It

Mining has destroyed a renowned fossil site in China.

Anatomy of a Brexit power-grab. Can the Brexit clock be stopped? That’s even less likely now.

Facebook use is a predictor of depression.

Kaz Cooke remembers John Clarke. His death was terrible news—a great comedian, a great Australasian, and not a bad photographer of birds.

Bidding on the soul of Detroit.

West African migrants are being sold in Libyan slave markets.

Where are you really from?

The utter uselessness of job interviews.

Aim for a hundred rejections a year.

AI programs are mirroring our racial and gender biases.

A Canadian river just vanished in four days.

19 April 2017

Driftwood Maps

Inuit cartography.


Freeze a jolly good icefloe.

The next pandemic. Vive la resistance.

How inner-city developments have killed Aussie rock.

Stephen Collins on vlogs.

What writers really do when they write.

Five ways to steal time to write.

The 50 best Britpop albums. I own at least two-thirds of ’em.

Why bargain travel sites may no longer be bargains.

How not to create traffic jams, pollution and urban sprawl.

A world without retirement.

Years you have left to live, probably.

10 April 2017


A Trump- and Brexit-free assemblage of links.

Read More · 15 March 2017


How the gains we make in AI could ultimately destroy us.

Limmy’s techno version of an old Fry’s Turkish Delight ad.

The archaeology of Rogue One.

The linguistic evolution of “like”.

Roadie wrap.

Redaction art.

The parts of a good apology and a bad one.

Scots have more words for rain than the Inuit have for snow.

The Gulf Stream is unstable.

Why are Dutch children the happiest in the world? We’re really good at judging parents.

Minesweeper tumbleweed.

Thanks to my blogless mate Paul for some of the above.

19 January 2017

In With the New

And so we collapse into 2017, waiting to see just how dire the Trump administration will be, whether Brexit really will mean Brexit, and who next among the West’s democracies will follow Britain and the US down the road to nowhere. It’s enough to take the wind out of any little-read blog’s sails. I do have a few ideas about more substantial projects for coming months, but for the moment only a few links.

Read More · 10 January 2017

←Weblog in 2016