Weekend Reading

  • The women of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch brothel answer your questions about working as legal prostitutes
    In August, two Quartz reporters, Allison Schrager, who’s also an economist, and Siyi Chen, a video journalist traveled to Carson City, Nevada to visit the famed Moonlite Bunny Ranch Brothel.
    How do you break the stigma around sex workers? By talking to them.
  • I Used to Be a Human Being
    I was sitting in a large meditation hall in a converted novitiate in central Massachusetts when I reached into my pocket for my iPhone. A woman in the front of the room gamely held a basket in front of her, beaming beneficently, like a priest with a collection plate.
    Turn off your smart phone for a weekend. Lock it away. Give the key to a friend. Or… find the middle ground (ain’t it always the way!)
  • The Road Ahead
    I am in my 100th year. When I was born in 1916 in Amsterdam, New York, Woodrow Wilson was our president. My parents, who could not speak or write English, were emigrants from Russia.
    Kirk Douglas (yes, yes, he is Spartacus) writes. I hope those voting in the US read and absorb.
  • Middle-aged man threatened by successful young woman
    For most people, managing to be so derogatory and so misogynistic in just 126 words would be quite a feat. But not for The Sun columnist Rod Liddle, or, as I refer to him, Little Rod (no explanation needed).
    An exquisitely crafted takedown of a luddite. Read, share, amplify.
  • Dancing Naked in Public
    If the contemporary art world seems like a place of pretension, status-seeking, and giant checks being paid through Larry Gagosian and David Zwirner, then it’s the critic Jerry Saltz who may be the last hope of bringing us all back down to earth.
    “Modern Art is Rubbish” is a statement in and of itself (also a pretty decent album) but should all art challenge? What is the role of art anyway?
  • Avert Your Eyes
    This year marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of Soviet Russia, the largest military confrontation in the history of our species.
    De-sensitised? Over-stimulated? Weary of the world? Who is drawing the line these days (and if it’s down to us, how the hell do we manage to do that).
  • It costs Apple about a third as much to make an iPhone 7 as it charges you
    The cheapest iPhone 7 retails for $649, but new research suggests it costs Apple roughly $225 to build one. Market research firm IHS Markit recently took apart the iPhone 7 to price out all of the individual parts that go into building the phone.
    Only linking this one so I can write the following comment. Ehhhh capitalism much? Thank you.
  • Stupefied
    Each summer, thousands of the best and brightest graduates join the workforce. Their well-above-average raw intelligence will have been carefully crafted through years at the world’s best universities.
    Think you are smart? Don’t worry, the company you work for will dumb you down soon enough (if I’m a reflection of recent working experiences… wow I’m thicker than 3 short planks!)
  • High Hitler: how Nazi drug abuse steered the course of history
    German writer Norman Ohler’s astonishing account of methamphetamine addiction in the Third Reich changes what we know about the second world war.
    No comment needed really.
  • LGBTQ and Other “Diverse” Books Lead Banned Books List
    “Diversity” may be a buzzword in enlightened literary circles (so much so that certain writers feel oppressed by the very idea) but diverse books — especially those with LGBT, with emphasis on the T, content — are among the most frequently challenged books, according to the American Library
    Spoiler: That damn 50 shades book is there but NOT because it’s BLOODY AWFUL!
  • ‘Galactic Tick Day’ Celebrates Sun’s Trip Around the Galaxy
    Every time the Earth makes one complete loop around the sun, humans celebrate the journey with some kind of New Year’s holiday. So why won’t we celebrate every time our solar system completes one loop around the center of the galaxy?
    Another link posted just so I can write the following; A galactic tick sounds like something we need a gigantic can of bug spray for!
  • Facebook and Google: most powerful and secretive empires we’ve ever known
    We need better language to describe the technology companies that control the digital worlds in which we speak, play and live Google and Facebook have conveyed nearly all of us to this page, and just about every other idea or expression we’ll encounter today.
    First person to mention Apple wins a prize!
  • How Pop Culture Tells Women to Shut Up
    Sady Doyle’s new book, Trainwreck, explores the many ways the U.S. (and its media, and its paparazzi, and its Donald Trump) continue to demean the ladyfolk.
    Read, absorb, amplify. To all the women I know, please never ever shut up (you are all way more smarterer than I is!)
  • This Old-Ass Commodore 64 Is Still Being Used to Run an Auto Shop in Poland
    Hell yeah. We need to learn a lesson about needless consumerism from this auto repair shop in Gdansk, Poland. Because it still uses a Commodore 64 to run its operations. Yes, the same Commodore 64 released 34 years ago that clocked in at 1 MHz and had 64 kilobytes of RAM.
  • ReflexLOLogy: Inside the Groan-Inducing World of Pun Competitions
    From the moment he spoke, I knew I was screwed. On the surface, the guy wasn’t particularly fearsome—pudgy, late thirties, polo shirt, plaid shorts, baseball cap, dad sneakers—but he looked completely at ease.
    Puns, the lowest and best form of wit.
  • On How to Disagree
    We live in a world saturated with disagreement.
    One of those, common sense advice things that needs to be repeated. Often.

Recently Observed

Organised, Not Organised
Having a digital calendar that I can access on my phone is wonderful. Except when I forget to put things in it. In totally related news, I have a ticket for the next Honeyblood gig (8th Dec) at St.Lukes in Glasgow going spare if anyone wants it… me? I’ll be at the Red Hot Chili Peppers gig that same night.

Apple Music still not great
As a heavy user of playlists, that’s where my focus is when it comes to choosing between streaming services. In that respect, Spotify is by far the better option. I can put together a new playlist and add tracks to it in a few clicks. Apple Music takes about the same number of clicks but OHMYGOD the search is slow, and the ‘back and forth’ between search and song result is clunky and doesn’t always work.

Bluetooth Headphones
I have a couple of pairs of bluetooth headphones (both recommended by The Wirecutter). They both sound good enough to my ear. Both suffer from the same issue when connected to my phone. This has held through iPhone 6 to my new iPhone 7 so it’s not phone related.

Depending on the proximity of my phone the audio playback stutters. Badly at times. It’s massively annoying (in a very first world problem kinda way) with tracks dropping in and out. I can solve the problem by removing my phone from my pocket but who wants to walk around with their phone in their hand all the time? Boooooo!!

I almost shaved my beard off this past weekend. I didn’t, and if I did I would only be going back to the goatee I had before (which I had for… 20 years? shit). A close trim of the beard sufficed though, for now.

And those are the random observations of my nothing life this past week or so. I know, I know, edge of the seat stuff around here.

Weekend Reading

  • The Drug of Choice for the Age of Kale
    The day after Apollo 14 landed on the moon, Dennis and Terence McKenna began a trek through the Amazon with four friends who considered themselves, as Terence wrote in his book “True Hallucinations,” “refugees from a society that we thought was poisoned by its own self-hatred”.
    Proof the human beings will always want to try new things, and we are suckers for being ‘in the know’ about ‘the next big thing’.
  • What Makes Stephen King’s It a Horror Story for the Ages
    I wasn’t much older than the adolescent heroes of the Loser’s Club the first time I picked up Stephen King’s It.
    I’m a big fan of Mr. King but will confess that I started It but didn’t finish it. Might be time to pick it up again (prior to the movie coming out).
  • ‘I’m a non-binary 10-year-old’
    Leo is 10 years old. For most of his life he’s lived as a girl, but this summer he began to speak openly about his sense that this didn’t feel quite right.
    This kind of thing needs to stop being a story, alas I think we are quite far from that being the case. More power to Leo.
  • A Shocking Amount of E-Waste Recycling Is a Complete Sham
    Until recently, I had never really thought about what happens to my old electronics. I took them to a community e-waste recycling drive, or dropped my old phone in a box somewhere, and I assumed my stuff was recycled.
    I shudder to think how much of my e-waste falls into this, most of it I’d imagine. Humans are the worst.
  • The Secret Lab Where Nike Invented the Power-Lacing Shoe of Our Dreams
    The Sneaker should come alive.
    You only really need the headline for this one. And yes, it is exactly the Back to the Future sneakers! WANT WANT WANT (Humans really are the worst, I do not need this shit!)
  • The average person is better off without a fitness wearable, weight loss study finds
    This year alone, 19 million people are scheduled to buy fitness wearables with a simple mission in mind: Get fit. But these purchases may have zero effect when it comes to weight loss, based on new research from the University of Pittsburgh.
    But does ‘get fit’ = ‘weight loss’? I’m having pizza tonight as part of this experiment.
  • Does quitting social media make you happier? Yes, say young people doing it
    Teenagers and young adults switching off from Facebook and other social apps reveal how the change has affected their lives Our love of social media seems to have grown and grown in the past decade, but recent studies show the tide may be turning for some platforms.
    Note: Blogs are not considered part of social media (subtext: please keep reading!).
  • Can Carrots Improve Your Eyesight? Let’s Dissect This Food Myth
    You probably grew up hearing that eating carrots could help your eyesight—even make you see in the dark. That would be nice, except it’s not entirely true (unless you have one helluva vitamin deficiency).
    Nation removes carrots from diet. Next week, a study suggests eating carrots can help with your hearing.
  • Leo the Silent Raver tells Glasgow Live why he’ll never stop dancing
    He’s a familiar face to many who live, work or simply shop in Glasgow. Always dressed in bright clothing and with a smile on his face, Leo Mushet is the Silent Raver and can be spotted showing off his dance moves in the city centre.
    Never judge a book by its neon day-glo cover or dodgy dance moves.

New Apple Hardware and Software

Given the upgrade cycle I choose to follow with my phone, this past week saw me get a new iPhone (7), which has a new version of iOS (10), as well as a new Apple Watch (Series II) which itself has a new version of watchOS (3).

That’s a lot of new and whilst a lot of the improvements across all of these devices and operating systems are evolutionary in nature, the increments are telling enough for me to notice and adapt my usage accordingly. Thankfully none of the changes are negative and are probably best categorised as ‘positive disruption’.

iPhone 7 and iOS 10

I’d been running iOS 10 betas on my iPhone 6 which wasn’t kind to the battery at all but got me a sense of how I’d be using the new iPhone 7. It’s important to note that the iPhone 6 does not have 3D Touch so, for people like me, the iPhone 7 brings that into play as well.

There are a lot of software changes in iOS10, I like the new Notifications/Control Centre changes, there are parts of the new Messages features that will be useful (and others which will be distracting), and the extension of Siri is already showing up with apps like Airmail (my email client of choice) hooking in to the API.

The screen itself is noticeably better as is the new camera, a welcome boost of hardware and software capabilities in one go.

Evolution aside, the biggest two changes for me are the aforementioned 3D Touch, which I’m still adapting my muscle memory too, and the new ‘non-clicky’ Home button.

The latter, plus the change to the unlocking process, is the biggest change I’ve noticed. With the button movement replaced by ‘haptic’ taps it’s a little odd at first if you aren’t used to it, but as I’ve had similar tapping on my wrist via the Apple Watch it wasn’t that big an adjustment, and I’d warrant users of the new MacBook which uses this mechanism in the touchpad won’t take long to adjust either.

Add in the new Raise to Wake feature – lift your iPhone to see the screen (yes I know Android has done this since forever) – and you end up with a subtle new way of using your iPhone without unlocking it, meaning I can check notifications or switch tracks from the lock screen.

Top tip: don’t register all of your fingerprints for TouchID and you can use a non-registered finger to tap the home button, turning on the screen without unlocking the phone.

I was also glad to see Apple bringing their Upgrade Programme to the UK (despite some day one teething troubles getting signed up), it’ll be interesting to see if I take advantage and upgrade to the iPhone 7s (?) next year.

Apple Watch

OK, this was a bit of an indulgence, but given the age of my old Apple Watch, and the improved water proofing, battery life, and processor speed, it felt like an easy to justify one. I wear my Apple Watch every day and probably interact with it more than my iPhone these days.

Add in the new watchOS 3 – which is a VAST improvement in many areas – and I feel more than justified. Bye bye Glances (and scribbles, and favourite contacts), hello ‘dock’ which is everything that should’ve been in the original OS but wasn’t. I couldn’t agree more with the articles I’ve read that state that what Apple did with the watch was the right thing. Release it, react to how people actually use it, and build from there (to those people complaining that you still need a phone to take calls on your Watch, how often do you actually do that? I’m not so sure that feature will ever be added to the Watch, I think Series III will be thinner before it adds in more features like that).

All in all, the Apple Watch now feels like part of the same ecosystem as my iPhone rather than the ugly sibling in the corner. It’s fast, responsive, and I’ve already started pushing more things to it (rather than limiting it as much as I could in the past because it was cumbersome and slow).

iPad Only

I’ve also upgraded my iPad Pro to iOS 10 so all of my Apple devices are bang up to date (well my MacBook Air (now safely gathering dust) remains on the last beta of macOS but I hardly use it these days).

In summary, I’m still a happy Apple fan boy. Yes, they aren’t as customisable, yes there are things I wish I could adjust but by and large there is nothing that gets in my way, and everything that is on my wishlist is very much down to my own personal taste. Equally, I like that every iOS update brings changes to my working/usage habits, I like that I’m challenged to tweak things, learn new things and adjust my usage a little.

Oh yeah, and no headphone jack on iPhone 7? So what? I’ve been using Bluetooth headphones for the past year anyway smug grin.

Single woman walking

Walking home from a gig, late on a balmy evening in the West End of Glasgow, light rain was falling as I and others plodded our way along Great Western Road, disappearing and emerging from lamp light to lamp light. Most people were heading in the opposite direction to me.

It’s a nice part of the world, a mix of affluence and well to do university students, all branching off into different areas along Great Western Road, a long straight busy street. It feels, to me, safe. But as I walked I noticed something.

Every single woman I walked past did the same thing, I didn’t notice if they did it a few steps away from me or just walked this way all the time but, of the 10 or so who I passed, all of them were walking with their head slightly bowed and their body slightly turned away from me.

Some were on mobile phones, and one was accompanied by a large Alsatian walking happily beside her, the lead slack (which suggests a very well trained dog, and well trained dogs are loyal and protective) yet she too felt the need to turn away, to hide and cower as she walked past, to make herself as small as possible. Trying to be invisible.

I’m a big guy, I’m aware of my size and I did everything I could to not be intimidating. I mimicked their behaviour and turned away, I deliberately looked away to the other side of the road so they could see I wasn’t looking at them. I tried to figure out if it was better for me to walk on the inside of the pavement, away from the road, or nearer the edge. I stuck with the former thinking that the open road would be an ‘escape’ where as the hedges and fences away from the road would be a trap?

And then I realised just how fucking horrible it is that I have to think this way. That this is what men have done to women.

Perhaps it was the recent ‘how to talk to a woman when she’s on the phone’ thing that was doing the rounds, but the body language of all the women I passed was striking in their similarity.

It’s saddening and horrifying. How many of these women were conscious of what they were doing? How many were doing it because they saw me approaching? How many were doing it because that’s ‘just what women have to do’? How many were doing it because they have been shamed into thinking that, if something were to happen, it would somehow be their fault?

As I’ve said before, these are the thoughts of a cisgender, upper middle-class white male. I am afforded all of the privileges that society has to offer. It’s up to me, to all men like me, to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with allies and help change this.

It starts with the smallest consideration of the words you use everyday, even things you may think are trivial – “Hey guys” when the people you are addressing includes women (or perhaps people who are trans or non-binary gendered) – it starts by challenging your friends when they are using their privilege to the detriment of others, it starts by calling out behaviours that you know aren’t acceptable regardless of who is using them.

It’s not easy. I will try my very best, and the memory of my walk home will stay with me for a long time.

Men, we’ve had it too easy for too long, we have to be the ones that change.

Weekend Reading

  • Not all men commit abuse against women. But all must condemn it
    Male violence against women is rife – and it’s getting worse. We need a new, inclusive form of masculinity to eliminate it. The failure of men to speak out about male violence against women and girls renders us all complicit.
    A (now) long standing argument that I will keep repeating and reading.
  • The Falling Man
    Do you remember this photograph? In the United States, people have taken pains to banish it from the record of September 11, 2001. The story behind it, though, and the search for the man pictured in it, are our most intimate connection to the horror of that day.
    I’m amazed how vivid my memories are of 9/11, but then it (and the fall of the Berlin Wall?) are the main two global events in my lifetime. Horrific.
  • ‘We’re the Only Plane in the Sky’
    Nearly every American above a certain age remembers precisely where they were on September 11, 2001. But for a tiny handful of people, those memories touch American presidential history.
    A different look at that day, and at that President. Some details I had forgotten (early reports had a small propped plane involved).
  • Psychology behind the unfunny consequences of jokes that denigrate
    Q: Why did the woman cross the road? A: Who cares! What the hell is she doing out of the kitchen?
    Definitely guilty of this.
  • Why the Purple Skittle Tastes Different Outside America
    Pop quiz: What flavor is the purple Skittle? If you grew up tasting the rainbow in the U.S. of A, the answer is clearly grape. But in other countries, including the U.K. and Australia, purple Skittles taste like another fruit altogether: blackcurrant.
    I never noticed this. But then my ‘cram as many in your gob at a time’ approach to eating Skittles probably distracts from the subtle nuanced flavours…
  • Ikea Forever
    Not long ago, during an interview with the BBC, Kanye West announced, in his trademark third-person idiom, that he hoped to design for Ikea: “Yo, Ikea, allow Kanye to create, allow him to make this thing because you know what? I want a bed that he makes, I want a chair that he makes.”
    I know a lot of people who rail against IKEA, putting their feet up on their KLATFUR table as they do so.
  • New words notes September 2016
    It’s time for another quarterly update to the OED, and we have more than 1,000 revised and updated entries including 1,200 new senses for you to explore, as well as an anniversary to celebrate.
    I love words. I love silly words. I love silly words that a certain Mr.Dahl invented.
  • A philosopher’s 350-year-old trick to get people to change their minds is now backed up by psychologists
    The 17th century philosopher Blaise Pascal is perhaps best known for Pascal’s Wager which, in the first formal use of decision theory, argued that believing in God is the most pragmatic decision. But it seems the French thinker also had a knack for psychology.
    If I was smart enough I’d have used this to make you pay for reading this, or have me pay you to read this… dammit, I always lose these arguments!
  • iOS 10: The MacStories Review
    Sometimes, change is unexpected. More often than not, change sneaks in until it feels grand and inevitable. Gradually, and then suddenly. iOS users have lived through numerous tides of such changes over the past three years.
    Geek heaven, an extensive (50,000 word!) review of iOS 10 (I’ve not even finished reading it yet!)
  • Secret Room
    These books shelves hide a secret room.
    Adding to my ‘when I win the lottery’ list.
  • Who will win in the age of open banking?
    For Europe’s financial and banking industry, December 2017 will represent something of a reckoning: it’s the deadline by which countries in the European Union will be required to enact the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2).
    Go on, admit it, you had no idea this was a thing. Nope, neither did I but it will explain some of the changes you’ll see in the coming year or so.
  • Who owns your tattoo? Maybe not you
    More than 20 percent of all Americans have at least one tattoo, and for millennials that number jumps to almost 40 percent. What could be more intimately a part of you than a work of body art permanently inked into your skin? You probably assume that the tattoo on your body belongs to you.
    This is why my tattoos are custom designed (bar the first one I got, but the guy who did it is dead now so I think I’m safe…).
  • This new machine can read book pages without cracking the cover
    People can now read books without opening them, thanks to a new device created by scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Georgia Institute of Technology. The machine uses beams of radiation to creep in between pages and scan individual letters.
    One for all the ‘never crack the spine’ weirdos out there..
  • Scientists Just Tested the ‘5-Second Rule’
    You’ve probably heard of the five-second rule: If you drop some tasty item of food, but can scoop it off the floor within five seconds, there isn’t enough time for bacteria to get on it and it’s a-okay to eat.
    I’m still waiting for the results of the ‘found a malteser under the sofa a week later’ rule (but it’s ok, I’ve got a malteser to eat whilst I wait).

The Positive Limitations of iPad

I’ve recently made the jump from laptop to tablet as my main ‘home computer’. It sounds dramatic but, for my usage, all this really boils down to is changing my modus operandi from a multi-window to single/duel window way of working.

The transition has been pretty straightforward, largely thanks to my slightly over-obsessive desire to only use apps that feature on my phone, tablet and laptop, but also because I’ve moved most of my working files to the cloud.

The main driver behind this switch was screen resolution. My MacBook Air has a low (by Apple standards) resolution 13″ screen and whilst hooking it up to a secondary monitor was ok, I found it constantly jarring to have my main workstation NOT have a Retina capable screen. Sure I could’ve got a MacBook (Pro?) but I don’t need another laptop and, having tried one for a while, the split screen capabilities of iOS brought the iPad Pro into play (plus it’s a big enough screen to watch movies on without feeling like you are compromising too much).

Of course I am writing this from an Apple viewpoint, which just so happens to match the latest adverts for the iPad Pro (What’s a computer?). I’m not sure if such a move would be possible in other ecosystems, Windows, Linux, Android, Chrome OS?? No idea.

One thing which has struck me is how little time I spend on the iPad once I’ve done whatever I need to do. I think this is more psychological than anything, as the tasks I’m doing don’t vary between devices. If I normally use a web browser rather than an app, for example, then it doesn’t matter if I’m on my laptop or my iPad given that I have pretty much the same apps installed in both platforms.

But the fact I have to switch apps completely seems to have altered the way I work. I know I could’ve achieved the same effect by using full-screen apps on my laptop but they never felt right to me. Why would I limit myself to one app at a time when I can have multiple apps running, even if I can only see partial windows of some of them, hidden behind other windows?

Well whatever my brain is up to it seems to be working. I’m gaining speed on the iPad – most of my slowness is fighting muscle memory – but on the whole I’m getting the same stuff done with what feels like fewer distractions.

If you are considering making a similar switch be aware that I did a lot of research and even adjusted some of my working practices before making up my mind. A lot of the changes I adopted also brought benefits to my iPhone usage as well. Yes, I’m further locked in to the Apple ecosystem which is both a good and bad thing, but as I see it there are only a few viable options and most of them boil down to the same decision; trust ‘someone else’ with your files and data (be that Apple, Google, Microsoft or a 3rd party like Dropbox), or manage them all yourself (which means setting up and maintaining a web server and handling the security issues, connection issues, and whatever else crops up).

A couple of tips; I’m much stricter about notifications on my iPad (I have an Apple Watch and iPhone to buzz at me if I need them to), and I use Do Not Disturb a lot more than I have in the past, toggling it on and off when I need to get something done. Without either of these I think the distractions would be too intrusive on the iPad (again not sure why it’s massively different from MacBook usage but it just feels like it is).

Overall I’m happy with the switch, and I’m finding a few additional benefits (as mentioned, the larger retina screen is handy as a second screen on those ‘two sportsball events happening at the same time’ moments. I’m using the Apple Smart Keyboard which on the whole I’d recommend as I don’t mind the way the keys feel, but I do miss having a backlit keyboard so that’s next on the list of ‘upgrades’.

Now I just need to figure out how to back up a website over FTP using the iPad and I can consign the MacBook to the back of the cupboard.

Weekend Reading

  • How Japan went crazy for KitKats
    Photos: How Japan went crazy for KitKats
    Having recently tried some of these, the Wasabi one was delicious (seriously!)
  • Life
    I am in Waterstones, pushing my son in his pram. We are on the hunt for an indestructible book, because my son has destroyed all his books so completely he might be a book-Terminator sent back from some anti-book future. Suddenly, a woman comes up and asks how much I charge.
    Prejudice everywhere. I think what stuns me most is how little ‘these people’ think, such are their fixed ideas of their world. Sad. Angry-making.
  • A year after Aylan Kurdi’s tragic death, the world is still numb to the Syrian refugee crisis
    One year ago today, the world was devastated by images of a small Syrian child who had drowned while attempting to reach safety in Greece.
    When you start looking at the numbers involved it is overwhelming.
  • How Fox News Women Took Down Roger Ailes
    It took 15 days to end the mighty 20-year reign of Roger Ailes at Fox News, one of the most storied runs in media and political history.
    Another small step forward, we need a LOT more of this though.
  • Finally, a politician is talking about one of the biggest taboos of being a woman
    Not having children is a choice that some people make. When the person in question is a woman in politics, however, not giving birth is often treated as a statement, or a sign—even, sometimes, as a reason for distrust.
    As mentioned previously, if Clinton wins the US elections, the majority of the most powerful people in the world will be women. THEN will we treat them equally? (Yeah, I know, of course we won’t).
  • Your avocado toast may be killing the Monarch butterfly
    Two things Americans really love are coming into conflict. Avocados have become an increasingly popular food in the US in recent years, as they’ve been both linked with health benefits and also aggressively marketed.
    I love avocado. I love butterflies, THIS IS SUCH A DILEMMA!!
  • The world wide cage
    It was a scene out of an Ambien nightmare: a jackal with the face of Mark Zuckerberg stood over a freshly killed zebra, gnawing at the animal’s innards. But I was not asleep.
    I do love these type of articles, no spoilers but it’s not quite what you think.
  • To lure people put off by the freakiness of lab-made meat, this is what the industry wants to call it
    There’s an effort afoot to change the the way people perceive high-tech versions of old-fashioned food—and it’s happening far outside the laboratory.
    Ten people took the ‘freak meat’ challenge and 7 of them preferred the meat that isn’t really meat!
  • Lenny Pozner Used to Believe in Conspiracy Theories. Until His Son’s Death Became One.
    On December 14, 2012, Lenny Pozner dropped off his three children, Sophia, Arielle, and Noah, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Noah had recently turned 6, and on the drive over they listened to his favorite song, “Gangnam Style,” for what turned out to be the last time.
    A much needed reality check. Conspiracy theories have an innocent enough name but a real life impact.
  • Researchers Confront an Epidemic of Loneliness
    BLACKPOOL, England — The woman on the other end of the phone spoke lightheartedly of spring and of her 81st birthday the previous week. And with that, Beryl’s cheer turned to despair.
    Note to self: next time that ‘old biddy’ is chatting to the bus driver, chill out a bit, might be the only interaction she has today and it doesn’t matter if getting home takes a few more minutes.
  • What science can tell us about trigger warnings.
    As educators and students suited up for the fall semester last month, University of Chicago dean of students John Ellison sent a provocative letter to incoming freshmen about all the cushioning policies they should not expect at their new school.
    Et tu, common sense?
  • Your smartphone performs better in one hand than the other
    If you’ve got an iPhone, you’re likely to get better reception if you hold it in your right hand (and right ear) during a call.
    One for all the weirdos… err… lefties out there. It’s true, it’s all a big conspiracy!! (but that’s just a theory…).
  • What Makes Vertigo the Best Film of All Time? Four Video Essays (and Martin Scorsese) Explain
    Vertigo is the greatest motion picture of all time.
    To be honest, you don’t need to click through to this one. Just accept the above sentence as fact, except do click through and watch the video essays, fascintating stuff (and I know what movie I’ll be watching later).
  • Glamour Exclusive: President Barack Obama Says, “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like”
    There are a lot of tough aspects to being President. But there are some perks too. Meeting extraordinary people across the country. Holding an office where you get to make a difference in the life of our nation. Air Force One.
    I will be sad to see Obama go, whether you like his policies or not, he at least seems to have a grasp on being an adult in the modern world.
  • How to Pick the Fastest Line at the Supermarket
    You dash into the supermarket for a few necessities. You figure it will be 10 minutes — tops — before you are done and on your way home. Then you get to the checkout lanes and they are brimming with shoppers. Your plan for a quick exit begins to evaporate.
    I learned this about 10 years ago, basic principle is the number of people in the queue, regardless of what they have as it’s the ‘paying’ part of the process that takes longest. Works for me about 8/10!

Weekend Reading

  • The Most Exclusive Restaurant in America
    The first time Jeffrey Merrihue came across the name Damon Baehrel, he was amazed that he hadn’t heard of him. “I didn’t understand how the secret had been kept,” Merrihue said recently. “The people I go around with, it’s hard for us to find something that is genuinely unique and new.”
    I wonder what the Yelp reviews are like?
  • Can smiling make you happier? Maybe. Maybe not. We have no idea
    In the spring of 2013, a 63-year-old social psychologist in Wurzburg, Germany, made a bold suggestion in a private email chain.
    A wonderfully sprawling article that, ultimately, you can just ignore (but do read!).
  • In the rural Pacific Northwest, prepping for the day it hits the fan
    Don and Jonna Bradway recently cashed out of the stock market and invested in gold and silver.
    I’m definitely never going to be a Prepper, but then if the SHTF I figure we are all equally fucked anyway (read article above for that reference)
  • What Killed the Jingle?
    Marketing ditties once had a distinctive, hokey sound, but today’s advertisers have ditched them for standard pop songs. Most Americans can recite their share of jingles. Perhaps they can’t remember their partner’s cell phone number, but they know every digit required to reach Empire carpet.
    Ask your kids, or young relatives if they even KNOW what a jingle is and prepare to feel very old
  • Gene Wilder’s Genius Reason for Willy Wonka Walking With a Limp (Video)
    Gene Wilder starred in the original 1971 “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,” but he only did so under one condition. “When I make my first entrance, I’d like to come out of the door carrying a cane and then walk toward the crowd with a limp,” he said, according to Letters of Note.
    One of a kind actor, with a gentle humour and kindness about him. Sad times.
  • ‘Freaks on the peaks’: the lonely lives of the last remaining forest fire lookouts
    There were 10,000 lookouts, scanning the wilderness for signs of smoke. Now just a few hundred remain, and they pass the time hiking, writing and knitting. For Levi Brinegar, alone atop his mountain, a storm can feel like the end of the world.
    Not sure I could do this job, but somedays it’d be a nice option!
  • Psychology debunks the idea that we’d be happier if we lived somewhere else
    Virtually every time I travel to a new place, I find myself fantasizing about starting over there. Mostly the feeling sneaks up on me, as it did this summer while I walked on a coastal trail above the Pacific Ocean in Victoria, Canada.
    Scientists are doing a lot of debunking. Maybe THEY should move somewhere else to be happ… dammit.
  • The Audacious Plan to Save This Man’s Life by Transplanting His Head
    What would happen if it actually works? Like a little white Lazarus with red eyes, the paralyzed mouse was walking again.
    Bit gruesome this one, does talk about animal testing, but the applications are astounding (put it this way, that headline isn’t JUST clickbait)
  • Situations where it’s OK for men to talk to women they don’t know
    The tantrum crops up time and time again. This time it’s because there was backlash from women towards an article teaching men how to chat up women who are wearing headphones. When women say they’d rather be left alone, men tend to completely lose their shit.
    Clear instructions. Please read.
  • The Inside Story Of “The Crystal Maze”, The Most Epic Game Show Ever Made
    Before you read a single word of this piece, put your headphones in and start playing the video below. If you suddenly find yourself with a great big grin on your face, it’s safe to read on.
    I still write Mumsy on cards for my Mum.
  • Great Missenden Plays Itself
    Nestled in Buckinghamshire’s Chiltern Hills, a 45-minute train ride from London, Great Missenden (pop: 2,255) was originally built in the 12th century around a vast monastery. Many of its row houses are themselves upwards of four hundred years old.
    The life of one amazing man and the town he lived in. Roald Dahl.
  • GoPro’s New Strategic Focus: The Plan to Expand Into Original Content (EXCLUSIVE)
    “I was up jammin’ ’til 3 a.m. last night,” GoPro founder and CEO Nick Woodman says by way of apology, as he arrives half an hour late for a recent interview at the company’s headquarters in San Mateo, Calif.
    Interesting times if their plans take off, sorry, I’ll stop droning on.
  • The Real-Life Superhero Who Beats the Cops to Bike Thieves
    He rode his bike to work. After work, he rode his bike home again. In the evenings, in his basement, he wrenched on bikes that he fixed up and flipped. Monkeying with bikes helped him burn off stress.
    Hooray for everyday, ‘average’, human beings (who aren’t average at all).
  • How Do Mathematicians Cut Cake?
    What’s the best way to cut a cake? Unless you’re a professional wedding planner, you probably haven’t given the question much thought.
    OK, I’ll admit it. I didn’t read all of this one. But if you like Maths and cake, you’ll love this!
  • Book Reading 2016
    Americans today have an enormous variety of content available to them at any time of day, and this material is available in a number of formats and through a range of digitally connected devices.
    Must get back on my Goodreads challenge, and might make note of the format I read (digital or paper) just for kicks.
  • My Brother’s Pregnancy and the Making of a New American Family
    When the call came, my brother was at work in the open office in Cambridge, Mass., he shares with seven colleagues who, like him, help run clinical trials for a drug developer. The phone number came up blocked, so he knew it must be the doctor. He stood up, unsteady on his feet.
    Dear World, gender is fluid. Ends.
  • Glasgow’s Building Built in Lego
    Having lived in Glasgow nearly all my adult life, I have come to love this city’s varied and exciting built heritage. I recently started making Lego models of some of my favourite buildings. This blog tells you a little about how I came to do this.
    I am the proud owner of his version of the Wellington statue (including traffic cone!).

Weekend Reading

  • Is Donald Trump Actually Trying to Win?
    So it’s not surprising that Trump has undertaken a major shakeup of his campaign, hiring Bannon and promoting the pollster Kellyanne Conway. Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort has effectively been demoted.
    Not suggesting he should be taken lightly, but he makes so much noise so randomly, is his gameplan something else entirely?
  • This Is How To Get Healthy: 6 Research-Backed Secrets
    You want to know how to get healthy? Eat better, exercise and get more sleep… But you don’t need me to tell you that. You know that. So is health just a matter of biology? Nope. Research shows living well is more than marathons and what you put in your mouth.
    If only there was a sense of common held ideas that we could apply to these things. A common sense, they’d call it…
  • Joseph Stiglitz on Brexit, Europe’s long cycle of crisis, and why German economics is different
    Globalization seems to have a lot more discontents lately.
    The ‘long tail’ ramifications of the Brexit vote will be with us for generations, but it’s not anything all that new.
  • China’s new quantum satellite will try to teleport data outside the bounds of space and time
    This week, China launched the world’s first quantum satellite. So what exactly does this mean? Uncrackable keys? Bizarre features? Both true. This satellite is designed to literally teleport information, to distances 1,200 kilometers (746 miles) away.
    Boldly going etc etc
  • A Charming 1926 Case for Why the Bicycle Is the Ideal Vehicle for Writers
    “Don’t cultivate a ‘bicycle face,’” an 1895 list of don’ts for women cyclists admonished just before the bicycle became a major vehicle of women’s liberation.
    Mostly this is a reminder to me that I have a bicycle and should use it.
  • Giving up alcohol opened my eyes to the infuriating truth about why women drink
    I’m newly sober and dog-paddling through the booze all around me. It’s summer, and Whole Foods has planted rosé throughout the store. Rosé is great with fish! And strawberries! And vegan protein powder! (Okay, I made that last one up.)
    And no, not just ‘because they like it’ apparently.
  • Denmark has figured out how to teach kids empathy and make them happier adults
    Empathy, or the ability to read another person’s emotions, is a critical life skill. Many fear children are losing it—and that they’ll be less happy as adults as a result.
    A pebble in the ocean? Or an idea that really deserves to take off? Less hate, more love and all that!
  • In 1898, Nikola Tesla Predicted Drone Warfare
    Nikola Tesla was both of his time and ahead of it (he has a car company named after him, after all). Besides his contributions to altnerating current electrical systems, the inventor predicted smartphones, television, and apparently drones, which he thought could cause humanity’s destruction.
    I read an autobiography of this amazing (flawed) man, he continues to be remarkable in every sense of the word.
  • What does a dog want more — “good boy” or treats?
    Sometimes the best dog treats aren’t edible. Every night when I walk my 6-year-old Boxer, he knows exactly what to expect once he’s unleashed. His tail wags furiously, his body wiggles, and glistening drops of saliva drip to my kitchen floor.
    I am offended on behalf of all dogs, reducing their characters to praise or treats? What about sleep and playing fetch? What about… ehhh.. yeah, ok, as you were.
  • Prof. Brian Cox Has a Maddening Conversation with a Climate Science-Denying Politician
    According to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, July 2016 was the warmest month ever recorded. 2016 will likely be the warmest year on record. And the decades ahead will only get worse, much worse.
    Once again Prof. Brian Cox proves he is a better man than I by NOT punching this a-hole in the throat.
  • Tesla has maxed out what its current batteries can do
    Tesla says it has built the fastest production car in the world powered by one of its most potent electric batteries. Yet it won’t be enough to power a new generation of mass market electric vehicles.
    Market tip: Find the company that will take batteries to the next level, that will make the ‘leap’. Back them.
  • How an Algorithm Learned to Identify Depressed Individuals by Studying Their Instagram Photos
    One of the curious things about color is that we associate it with emotions. Intuitively, we tend to link darker, grayer colors with negative moods and brighter, lighter colors with positive ones. Indeed, researchers have found that people suffering from depression prefer darker colors.
    And you will all now be checking your Instagram photos. Yer welcome!
  • HUGE Domino Tower Fail!
    HUGE Domino Tower Fail! America’s largest domino tower collapses after 7 hours of non-stop building! 3,242 dominoes were stacked in 241 layers on a 19 feet tall FREE STANDING tower – 10 layers away from being the SECOND tallest tower in the world.
    OK, admit it, you thought this was a bit pizza…
  • Under attack? No, it’s just a Snorlax causing another Pokemon Go stampede
    The Taiwanese aren’t about to let a little traffic get in the way of a rare Pokemon. After all, the Snorlax, which is usually found sleeping in inconvenient locations throughout Kanto, is docile enough to let children bounce on its huge tummy.
    Still ‘phenom-ing’ then…
  • A Filipino fisherman kept a 75-pound pearl under his bed for 10 years
    The world’s largest natural pearl has been unveiled in the Philippines after a local fisherman says he kept it under his bed for ten years. It has yet to be formally appraised by gemologists, but some are speculating that it could be worth millions.
    Puts the Princess and the Pea in a cocked hat!
  • The Virtual Surgeons of Syria
    Earlier this year, a Syrian American orthopedic surgeon was shopping with his two toddlers at a Walmart in Grand Rapids, Michigan, when he heard the familiar ping of a notification from WhatsApp, the encrypted messaging service: A teenager had been shot in the leg.
    Harrowing, amazing, and a reminder both of the horrific conditions many people live in, and the power of the human spirit to persevere and do good things.
  • Why Is It That Most Zippers Have YKK Written On Them?
    It has all to do with the “circle of goodness”.
    I used to guess what the abbreviation meant, but none of those are fit for public consumption.
  • Philippines drugs war: The woman who kills dealers for a living
    The Philippines is in the midst of a brutal war on drugs sanctioned by the controversial President Rodrigo Duterte, which has seen almost 2,000 killings in a matter of weeks.
    Largely unreported in mainstream media. Horrible question: what number does it need to be to be considered genocide?
  • Like. Flirt. Ghost: A Journey Into the Social Media Lives of Teens
    Lara has just updated her Instagram with a picture. It’s of her and her twin sister, Sofia, in bathing suits, doing the backstroke in crystalline water. It’s shot from afar, from a height, and the girls look like synchronized swimmers or else mermaids.
    A timely reminder that I am old, very very uncool (almost wrote ‘unhip’!) and my social media is not your social media.
  • Why You Should Stop Eating Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
    Meals are good, and snacking is bad. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and if you eat dinner with your family, you will keep your girlish figure and your kids will be healthier. Taking a lunch break will make you succeed at your job. Okay, now forget all that.
    I think most people know all of this already, but it’s good to have proof from the internet when I order my second dinner (that’s how it works, right?)