Death and/or Destruction

How bad movie remasters happen.

How Disney lost the technology to do much better than green screen.

A common plastic additive is especially toxic for kids with autism and ADHD.

One possible reason Neanderthals went extinct.

The Jewish doctors who secretly documented the effects of Nazi starvation policies.

The new science of death.

21 April 2024

Ship of Fools

Farewell Karl Wallinger, gone too soon at the age of 66. I left some thoughts on his albums in the comments about “She’s the One” at Popular. (Blimey, that was a decade ago… is it like today?)

The story of Air’s Moon Safari.

The story of Girls Aloud’s What Will the Neighbours Say?

Read more…

17 March 2024

Chasing Butterflies

America’s 1% have taken $50 trillion from the bottom 90%.

The unique rhetoric of Donald Trump. (Fortunately, this is a professor of rhetoric speaking about him—no need to listen to him.)

Hunter Biden has given House Republicans the rebuttal they didn’t want (archived).

The bottomless financial insanity of the Rwanda scheme.

The neglected history of the state of Israel.

Chinese influencers are paying huge fines to escape livestream contracts.

How Google is killing independent review sites (indirectly, as it’s more a case of big media publishers gaming Google to crowd out the sites that are bothering to test and evaluate stuff).

How scientists saved lives by predicting the Iceland eruption.

Building schools in Burkina Faso that stay cool in 40°C.

Ocean temperatures are off the charts.

The unauthorized comic adventures of Tom Bombadil in 26 one-page instalments.

3 March 2024


We document our whole lives online, but is it even worth it anymore? A 2024 article about Insta and TikTok referencing a 2012 article about Facebook talking about things bloggers were wondering about in 2001.

No one likes hacks and oh God, we do care. “We’ve spent the past decade with our knickers in a twist because we collectively find it hard to believe that we may just be part of the last generation of our kind.”

Hope for Russia has died with Navalny, Putin’s most formidable opponent (archived and archived). Someone I follow on social media linked to the speech that Navalny’s daughter Daria gave on his behalf when he was awarded the 2021 Sakharov Prize, two months before Putin invaded (the rest of) Ukraine. It’s worth reading.

18 February 2024

A House Full of Bees

Berthe Morisot comes into her own (via Mefi). I’ve seen a few of Morisot’s paintings in galleries, and they were always as good as the other Impressionist canvases around them; I guess I assumed that she hadn’t painted much, and that that was why there weren’t more on show. Learning that “an astounding proportion of [her] most important work” is still in private hands explains a lot, and sexism would explain the rest—what’s the bet that even some of her paintings in public collections are sitting in storage rather than being on display. It’s good to learn that her peers were so supportive of her work, and celebrated it after her death—the fault lies with posterity, but fortunately that can change.

Read more…

12 February 2024

Why Not Space

Why not Mars. Why not anywhere else. (Both via Mefi.)

Generative AI has a visual plagiarism problem. Artists have been saying this for eighteen months, but it’s striking to see it laid so bare.

The most mysterious cells in our bodies aren’t ours (archived).

Why “doing your own research” so often backfires (archived, via Mefi).

Lena”, from Valuable Humans in Transit and Other Stories.

The Asian world order. Actual European discoveries.

13 January 2024

There Can Be Only One

The mystery of the medieval fighting snails.

Modern humans emerged from several groups, not one.

A Highlander II: The Quickening RPG. The BBC actually broadcast it at Christmas the year it came out—I watched it while staying with relatives. Never again.

The villain who plans to demolish the toy shop in a Hallmark Christmas movie sets the record straight.

Switzerland’s forgotten curse (archived).

Honeypot ant honey is effective against golden staph.

Jack Horner, of “building a dinosaur from a chickenfame, asks: Where are the baby dinosaurs? I’ll have to recalibrate my triceratopsometer.

9 January 2024

Good News!*

The century-old book series that predicted a wild and wonderful future.

Good-news stories you didn’t hear about in 2023.

Solar-powered boats are traversing the Amazon.

Jakarta is sinking into the sea.

Read more…

25 December 2023

Purple Reign

Friends, Romans, countrymen, y’all.

Feet in the past weren’t so tiny.

Cassette Futurism.

The lost ancient pigment more valuable than gold.

Can Trump be stopped? (Archived.)

5 December 2023

Untitled Goose Post

How 500 days alone in a cave alters your sense of time. How 15 years researching time alters your sense of time.

The end of Gaza’s most beautiful neighbourhood.

The collapse of insects.

The Washington Post lays bare the impact of the AR-15.

Catching up recently on season five of What We Do in the Shadows (what a great show) led me to Mark Proksch’s earlier work as K-Strass the Yo-Yo Guy (and Proksch talking about it).

Thanks to a Metafilter thread about Anil Prasad’s Innerviews site, I caught up with his interview with Mike Oldfield only ten years after he’d conducted it, and it was every bit as in-depth as I’d hoped. (Anil and I used to hang out on the same mailing list in the 1990s.) Oldfield’s career seems to have come to an anticlimactic end with the release of his Tubular Bells 4 demo six months ago, but there’s still hope…

Teach your chirldren to get along with friends friendly with this super fun interactinve gift, random in three colors. I cant’t breathe!

20 November 2023