Nukes, flies, guns and nerds

While others stare in awe at Assange’s many otherworldly aspects — his hairstyle, his neatness, too-precise speech, his post-national life out of a laptop bag — I can recognize him as pure triple-A outsider geek. Man, I know a thousand modern weirdos like that, and every single one of them seems to be on my Twitter stream screaming support for Assange because they can recognize him as a brother and a class ally. They are in holy awe of him because, for the first time, their mostly-imaginary and lastingly resentful underclass has landed a serious blow in a public arena. Julian Assange has hacked a superpower.

→ Webstock, Bruce Sterling: The Blast Shack

July 18, 2010—California Highway Patrol officers arrest Byron Williams, 45, after a shootout on I-580 in which more than 60 rounds are fired. Officers had pulled Williams over in his pick-up for speeding and weaving in and out of traffic when he opened fire on them with a handgun and a long gun. Williams, a convicted felon, is shot several times, but survives because he is wearing body armor. Williams, a convicted felon, reveals that he was on his way to San Francisco to “start a revolution” by killing employees of the ACLU and Tides Foundation. Williams’ mother says her son was angry at “Left-wing politicians” and upset by “the way Congress was railroading through all these Left-wing agenda items.”

→ Coalition to stop gun violence: Insurrectionism Timeline

Though I never doubted that I would execute a launch order without question, other misgivings occasionally surfaced. We arrested a group of Catholic nuns staging a peaceful protest on one of our launch facilities a few years back. For a missileer who is a practicing Catholic, such a situation brings up questions: If women who have committed themselves to the Word of God feel so strongly about the immorality of nuclear weapons that they’re willing to be confined for their convictions, what kind of Christian am I to sit at the launch switch? How do you resolve a conflict between duty to your God and duty to your country? Who wins, faith or flag?

Danger Room, John Noonan: In nuclear silos, death wears a snuggie

Now Joe and I are good feminists, like our hero, and we believe in rapprochement between the sexes, and do everything we can to encourage it; we’re sweet-natured and respectful of women and big fun on dates (which is irrelevant, since neither of us will ever have another date after Dec. 8). We don’t actually believe that men are irredeemable, and we especially don’t like to contemplate the possibility that there is some sort of surly misogynistic brute deep down inside us, lurking behind all those layers of wit, charm, and sophistication. But that’s exactly what this little thought experiment required. In some weird gender-inverted way it was like being Andrea Dworkin for six weeks. Six long weeks.

→ The Sideshow, Avedon Carol: Interview with Sam Hamm about scripting The Screwfly Solution

On work and working

We don’t correlate our sense of responsibility with what we are actually producing. We correlate it with how hard we are being on ourselves. Thus anything that’s fun cannot possibly be work, and everything that’s unpleasant is.

→ Harvard Business Review, Dan Pallotta: Worry isn’t work [Via Eithface]

What I learned is that burning out isn’t just about work load, it’s about work load being greater than the motivation to do work. It was relatively easy to drag myself to classes when I thought I was working for my own betterment. It was hard to sit at a laptop and crank out slides when all I seemed to be accomplishing was the transfer of wealth from my client to my company.

→ The Tech, Keith Yost: The story BCG offered me $16,000 not to tell [Via Mefi]

Freelancing means walking from the West Village to the Upper East Side and back because you don’t have enough money for the subway. Freelancing means being so poor and so hungry for so long that you “eat” a bowl of soup that’s just hot water, crushed-up multivitamins and half your spice rack (mostly garlic salt).

→ The Awl, Richard Morgan: Seven years as a freelance writer

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The sounds for these videos is created by Tweet a Sound by Sound plus design. It’s an simple tone modulator with built in real time recorder, and it’s great fun to play with. If you listen through headphones you can try to melt your brain, which is an interesting experiment for a boring evening.

Editing the point of view.

A couple of months ago there was a outrage and general brouhaha over an how ACORN — an organisation which helps underclass folk in US with getting bank loans and such — supposedly was advising a pimp & hooker couple on how to start a child prostitution business. It turned into a giant shitstorm, and it’s only now that the dust has settled and the source material has been examined that a more true version of the story is emerging.

→ MSNBC: Rachel Maddow explains how Fox News bought and sold the ACORN story. [Via Media Matters]

“This place,” says Bahram, shouting somewhat, it’s amazing. You can’t imagine! The schools, the hospitals, the way they live! And nothing is done by hand, even the baking, even cleaning the street. They have these little carts, just press a button. The police, they smile at you and say “hej.”

→ From our own correspondents, Monica Whitlock: Adjusting to Swedish life after the Andjian massacre

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I do not want to prescribe a means of viewing images of Fabienne’s death. I am interested in informing the public about the photographers who witnessed and recorded the event.

Prison Photography, Pete Brook: Fabienne Cherisma [via A Photo Editor]

But what makes it all such good fun is the element of surprise. No matter how much you practise or prepare, many of your best mammal behaviour shots will be of moments you hardly remember – because they happened so fast. These are the ones that make all that effort worthwhile.

→ BBC Wildlife Magazine, Mark Carwardine: Mammal Behaviour [scroll down for individual PDF]

Rethinking journalism, art history and lactic acid.

I think it’s time that we can all agree that the news industry is failing. Hundreds of newspapers have declared bankruptcy and gone under in the past couple years — and thousands of Journalists are out of work. But I’m curious: what are all these journalists doing? Laying down and giving up? I’m wondering why I don’t see a flurry of journalistic startups.

→ Warpspire, Kyle Neath: Why aren’t there any journalistic startups?

The Dadaists were very cross. They blamed the horrors of the First World War on the Establishment’s reliance on rational and reasoned thought. They radically opposed rational thought and became nihilistic — the punk rock of modern art movements. Dada plus Sigmund Freud equals Surrealism. The Surrealists were fascinated by the unconscious mind, as that’s where they thought truth resided.

→ Times Online, Will Gompertz: It’s double art history with Mr Tate [Via Sippey]

The notion that lactic acid was bad took hold more than a century ago, said George A. Brooks, a professor in the department of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley. It stuck because it seemed to make so much sense. “It’s one of the classic mistakes in the history of science,” Dr. Brooks said.

→ New York Times, Gina Kolata: Lactic Acid Is Not Muscles’ Foe, It’s Fuel

Another word for euphemism.

Spritz cologne immediately above where the grilled cheese is made. This gives the cook a more aromatic and pleasant cooking experience.

→ From the Love Letters section of the Boston Globe: Allergic to “grilled cheese”

If you’re dead-set on deep-throating this guy, and he’s dead-set on being deep-throated, then the first step is for him to be a gentleman and cut it out with the facefucking.

→ Ask.Metafilter is as usual less prudish: His cock barely fits in my mouth; how can I give better head?

The tangy metallic is iron from the blood. Then there is the almond nutty context probably based on mucus. And the lightly salted melon. And the durian flavor from dead cells. Any of which can come to the fore based on diet and hormone progression.

→ Ask.Metafilter: Connoisseurs of Cunnilingus: What does it taste like to you?

Charlie crept into Terry and Penny’s first-floor bedroom and fired at them until his gun jammed. He handed the gun to Waid, who fixed the .22 and fired two more shots. They left the room, and then Charlie came back and cut Penny’s throat to make sure she was dead.

→ Pamela Colloff, Texas Monthly: Why did a small-town girl have her family brutally murdered?

Sengamalam, one of the boys, told me that more than 2,000 soldiers had been involved in the round-up of our 22-strong unit, and had dumped the bodies of those who died in the open air. My mind swum with images of Ajanthi and Muralie, their bodies being scavenged by dogs.

→ The Telegraph: Life as a female Tamil Tiger guerilla relived by one of first female soldiers.

Today, my mom’s will was read to the rest of the family. I helped my mom write it a couple years ago, and I was to get funds to pay off school loans. She revised it and put in a note saying I was to get nothing because I was gay. The executor read it out loud. My mom was the only one who knew.

→ Fuck my life: user 2796619

New new journalism and its discontents

My brother and I have been pitching a project to a couple to newspapers. it’s about interactivity and making the value of journalism transparent – a meta project where the end result is still valuable because it’s hard work and doesn’t rely on shouting first but rather articulating a subject well. In the age of borked analogies, good journalism is like a well knit sweater – You might know how it was made and even have the pattern for doing it yourself, but you’d much rather just wear it than bother with the production. (I’m not paid for writing good analogies.)

Above all, good journalism shouldn’t be about springing surprises on the readership. The belief that exclusivity and having a scoop is what makes newspapers relevant is one reason of why the news industry is frantically grasping for straws (We’re on Twitter now!) in hopes of looking hip, while at the same time not allowing the new technology to affect how they fundamentally view their role in society and the function that they fulfill for their readership. (And advertisers)

Clay Shirky has a brilliant quote in one of his posts on the subject:
One of the people I was hanging around with online back then was Gordy Thompson, who managed internet services at the New York Times. I remember Thompson saying something to the effect of “When a 14 year old kid can blow up your business in his spare time, not because he hates you but because he loves you, then you got a problem.” I think about that conversation a lot these days.

→ Clay Shirky, newspapers and thinking the unthinkable.

Maybe we’ve gotten it ass backwards; Maybe we ought to be going at this as independents and establish our own platform instead of joining an existing one, but there’s so much knowledge amassed in the old journalistic institutions that it would seem a waste to disregard it. Just because the owners and directors can’t make money off of their papers doesn’t make the journalists themselves any less useful or interesting, so it’s disheartening to see where reporting seems to be heading and what lack of confidence journalists have in their own craft.

Articles, stories and other lies.

The doctor in charge, who is now on trial, reportedly lured teenagers with unwanted pregnancies by offering to help with abortion. They would be locked up there until they gave birth, whereupon they would be forced to give up their babies for a token fee of around 20,000 naira (170 dollars, 135 euros).

Babies for sale in Nigeria [via Warren Ellis]

As the hornet enters the nest, a large mob of about five hundred honey bees surrounds it, completely covering it and preventing it from moving, and begin quickly vibrating their flight muscles. This has the effect of raising the temperature of the honey bee mass to 47 °C. The honey bees can just about tolerate this temperature, but the hornet cannot survive more than 46 °C, so it dies. Often several bees perish along with the intruder, but the death of the hornet scout prevents it from summoning reinforcements which would wipe out the colony.

Wikipedia on the giant Asian hornet


Rose-Marie Gascoigne of New Orleans was the first to answer. She had sat with her lightboard for hours each evening, accompanied by two disinterested tabbies. She said later that her heart had “just plain stopped” when the lights began to flicker on and off. “The whole world just held its breath. I could hear the blood rushing in my head. I knew what to do–what the hell else was that damn button for? It just took me a couple of days to work myself up to it. It was like sending a message to God.”

The loneliness engine [Via MetaFilter]

An artificial appropriation of different styles from different eras, the hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture lost in the superficiality of its past and unable to create any new meaning. Not only is it unsustainable, it is suicidal. While previous youth movements have challenged the dysfunction and decadence of their elders, today we have the “hipster” – a youth subculture that mirrors the doomed shallowness of mainstream society.

Hipster: The dead end of western civilization

And worst of all. Dumbest, deafest, shittest of all, you have removed the unstressed ‘a’ so that the stress that should have fallen on “nosh” is lost, and my piece ends on an unstressed syllable. When you’re winding up a piece of prose, metre is crucial. Can’t you hear? Can’t you hear that it is wrong? It’s not fucking rocket science. It’s fucking pre-GCSE scansion. I have written 350 restaurant reviews for The Times and i have never ended on an unstressed syllable. Fuck. fuck, fuck, fuck.

Giles Coren: Indefinite article, definitive anger

John Schula, 30, a Latino male from Montebello, and a 17-year-old boy were fatally wounded in what sheriff’s deputies described as a gang-related shooting in the 3900 block of Aleman Avenue at 10:45 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18. The double homicide ended a year of relative calm in Pico Rivera. It took place near where 57-year-old grandmother Maria Hicks was gunned down in August 2007 after trying to intervene when taggers were spray-painting graffiti on a wall in her neighborhood.

Los Angeles Times: The homicide report

Suicide. Synonyms.

On the bridge, Baldwin counted to ten and stayed frozen. He counted to ten again, then vaulted over. “I still see my hands coming off the railing,” he said. As he crossed the chord in flight, Baldwin recalls, “I instantly realized that everything in my life that I’d thought was unfixable was totally fixable—except for having just jumped.”

→ Golden Gate bridge and suicide, written in 2003 by Tad Friend:

The man was grabbed on the eastern promenade of the bridge after passers-by noticed him pacing and growing increasingly despondent. The reason? He had picked out a spot on the western promenade that he wanted to jump from, but separated by six lanes of traffic, he was afraid of getting hit by a car on his way there.

→ The mechanisms and prevention of suicide, by Scott Anderson, 2008:

Checking for squirrels. Wagging the unemployed. Shifting to fifth gear with the purple-veined kidney stabber. Spanking the shit out of your incapacitated midget. Attacking Mr. Happy. Soaking the whisker biscuit.

→ 1700 masturbation synonyms:


One morning, after she was awakened by her bedside alarm, she sat up and, she recalled, “this fluid came down my face, this greenish liquid.” She pressed a square of gauze to her head and went to see her doctor again.

Woman has a bad itch. Really bad.

If you don’t want to do it, don’t do it. If you want to do it, do it because you love it. Find meaning in it. Otherwise, you’re tricking yourself. You’re tricking everybody.

Interview with Dalai Lamahs youngest brother.

I know that it’s easy to poke at the mote in Americans’ eyes rather than doing something about our own much more fashionable beams, but c’mon.

Prayer circles at gas stations to lower gas prices.

Iraq troopers

I recently finished reading Starship Troopers, a rather boring book full of military and pseudo-psychological jingoism, and then I stumbled upon the article below.

The things that carried him
The Air Force honor guard moved only one case at a time and, as is their protocol, whenever a case was moved, no matter the distance, it was given a three-second salute, present arms. The airmen carried each case onto the Red Carpet, placing them carefully in neat rows of three. When the last case was in place in front of the cargo door, the general-officer party stood at attention before it, and Sparks said a prayer.

Besides being a gripping article, well written and researched, it’s also an exceptional tale of transformation. The body of a dead soldier takes on so much meaning; It is saluted, posthumously promoted, polished, presented, wept over by strangers. The death of the soldier is portrayed exactly as the harrowing loss for the family as it is, but it is the metamorphosis of a living soldier into someone whom we respect for dying, for having eschewed his life and risen out of the body bag a martyr, that makes the text a particularly interesting read.

It’s worth your time just for the description of the ritual.