Month: January 2018

Weekend Reading

  • Think defamation law is boring? You won’t if you find yourself in court
    So, now we can get on to why it all matters. If you use social media or blog online, you are now a publisher just the same as any journalist.
    Yikes *scours ALL blog posts*

  • Google Memory Loss
    I think Google has stopped in­dex­ing the old­er parts of the We­b. I think I can prove it. Google’s com­pe­ti­tion is do­ing bet­ter. Ev­i­dence · This isn’t just a proof, it’s a rock-n-roll proof.
    Duck Duck Go (a better search engine). Do it people!

  • The hidden beauty spots within driving distance of Glasgow you have to visit
    Now the snow is beginning to thaw we can go back to spending our weekends exploring the great outdoors. With Glasgow aptly named the Dear Green Place the city is not short of beautiful parks and view points offering stunning scenery.
    Mostly bookmarked for myself but a nice way to show how lucky I am to live in this wonderful area of the world.

  • Questions to Ask Yourself Before Giving Up
    Are you hydrated? When did you last glut your thirst with a handful of spring? languishing on your butter shelf? Are you dressed? If so, does your skirt strike matches alight as you walk by? Can you melt it a little around your waist and ribcage?
    Because sometimes just getting out of bed is the achievement.

  • Will There Ever Be an Anglerfish Emoji?
    Consider the anglerfish. It’s a type of bony fish that has been around since the early Cretaceous. It is best known for the fleshy protrusion on its head, which it uses to entice prey, and which sometimes is inhabited by glowing bacteria, for extra luring power.
    If you like this, listen to this episode from 99% Invisible.

  • A comparison of the visual similarities between Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049
    Blade Runner 2049 takes place in the same location 30 years after the events in the original Blade Runner film, so it’s natural that the two movies share a visual style.
    *moviegeekgasmtastic*

  • Sandi Toksvig and Humanists UK launch a free massive open online course on humanism aimed at UK’s non-religious majority
    Writer and broadcaster Sandi Toksvig is the face of a new introductory ‘massive open online course’ (MOOC) on humanism from Humanists UK, the national charity representing the non-religious in the UK.
    Because we didn’t love Sandi enough already?

  • Own Your Content
    “We are in the “Internet Two” phase as Steven Johnson called it. Internet One was an open network, open protocols, open systems. Internet Two is closed platforms that increasingly dominate the market and own and control our content and us.
    Welcome to blogging y’all, it’s great! I remember when it were nowt but fields round here….

  • A Fateful Hunt for a Buried Stash of the Greatest LSD Ever Made
    Two months ago I was standing in a pub in south London on a Saturday afternoon, having a conversation with a photographer. While desperately dredging my mind for a half-decent anecdote, I decided to re-tell a story I’d read on the internet the day before.
    It’s good to talk. Those pink elephants on parade… not so much…

  • Mary Lee Berners-Lee obituary
    The computer scientist Mary Lee Berners-Lee, who has died aged 93, was on the programming team for the computer that in 1951 became the first in the world to be sold commercially: the Ferranti Mark I.
    You would not be reading this without this amazing person.

  • Can Planet Earth Feed 10 Billion People?
    Humanity has 30 years to find out. All parents remember the moment when they first held their children—the tiny crumpled face, an entire new person, emerging from the hospital blanket. I extended my hands and took my daughter in my arms. I was so overwhelmed that I could hardly think.
    Yikes. STOCKPILE!! ohhh wait no, the opposite of that

  • When Your Eyes Move, So Do Your Eardrums
    Without moving your head, look to your left. Now look to your right. Keep flicking your eyes back and forth, left and right. Even if you managed to keep the rest of your body completely still, your eyeballs were not the only parts of your head that just moved. Your ears did, too.
    What the… like an article on fleas I’m pretty sure I’m now aware of this happening… *looks left* *looks right*

  • Learn How to Do Nothing With the Dutch Concept of Niksen
    Between hygge, the Danish concept of coziness, and Sweden’s lagom, which encourages living a balanced life, there are plenty of buzzy Nordic lifestyle methods that proponents claim will make you a better person.
    Finally a trend I can get with.

  • The NSA’s voice-recognition system raises hard questions for Echo and Google Home
    Suppose you’re looking for a single person, somewhere in the world. (We’ll call him Waldo.) You know who he is, nearly everything about him, but you don’t know where he’s hiding. How do you find him? The scale is just too great for anything but a computerized scan.
    Articles like this make the (expensive but secure) Apple HomePod more appealing.

  • “Eggcorns” Are Language Mistakes That Somehow Still …
    Not to get nitpicky and accusatory, but you’ve probably used a whole bunch of words incorrectly throughout your life.
    Ain’t the English language great.

  • Why Judge Rosemarie Aquilina is my style – and everything – icon
    Judge Rosemarie Aquilina of the 30th Circuit Court for Ingham County.
    Not had much coverage in the UK but throughout this brutal trial, this Judge has been inspirationally uncompromising.

  • Germany was once the witch-burning capital of the world. Here’s why
    In 1572, the killings began. That year, authorities in the tiny settlement of St Maximin, in present-day Germany, charged a woman named Eva with using witchcraft to murder a child. Eva confessed under torture; she, along with two women she implicated, were burned at the stake.
    Wow. Humanity really is a shit show.

  • A Review of the Delirious New Diet Coke Flavors
    Caity Weaver taste tests the newest flavors in the pantheon of diet cola.
    Not yet coming to the UK but…

  • Watch Animated Scores to Music by Radiohead, Talking Heads, LCD Soundsystem, Photek & Other Electronic/Post-Punk/Avant-Garde Musicians
    A few weeks ago, we told you about Stephen Malinowski and the Music Animation Machine, a popular and pretty expansive YouTube channel that features scrolling, color-coordinated animated “scores” for classical works from Debussy to Bach and Stravinsky.
    No comment needed.

  • All Good Magazines Go to Heaven
    When James Hyman was a scriptwriter at MTV Europe, in the 1990s, before the rise of the internet, there was a practical — as well as compulsive — reason he amassed an enormous collection of magazines.
    Read for the first paragraph mention of Bowie, stay for the fascinating geekdom on display.

  • Robert Burns: was the beloved poet a ‘Weinsteinian sex pest’?
    Ahead of this year’s Burns Night, the 18th-century bard has come under harsh scrutiny from Liz Lochhead over his treatment of women.
    Ugh. I knew some of this yet still ‘celebrated’ (I posted an Instagram pic, that was about it) our ‘beloved Bard’. Such a part of Scottish culture but a lot of this is true. Ugh. MEN!

  • The female price of male pleasure
    The world is disturbingly comfortable with the fact that women sometimes leave a sexual encounter in tears.
    (Unfortunately) Eye opening article.

  • Why Did Two-Thirds of These Weird Antelope Suddenly Drop Dead?
    The mass death of 200,000 saiga provides a dark omen for what might happen to wildlife in a changing world. It took just three weeks for two-thirds of all the world’s saiga to die. It took much longer to work out why.
    FAKE NEWS! Climate Change isn’t real! They all actually had a pact and… nope I can’t do this conspiracy stuff.. this is terrible.

  • Jennifer Tilly: The gay interview
    Queer-film icon dishes on Chucky’s LGBT identity, the franchise’s groundbreaking trans doll and her legendary lesbian neo-noir ‘Bound’ Chucky, with his fiery red hair and frighteningly loyal pledge to be “your friend till the end,” was never gay by design.
    Because who doesn’t love Jennifer Tilly, right?

Adam Buxton podcast

Podcast: The Adam Buxton Pod Cast

A man that has been on the periphery of my media consumption for 20 years or so, and I admit I didn’t really ‘get’ the Adam & Joe thing at first and as none of my friends were bothered I missed that boat, but after catching some of their show on 6Music a while ago, it’s been nice to revisit Mr. Buxton (on the recommendation of a friend who is a big fan*).

Not only is he both affable and quirkly entertaining, his range of guests constantly surprises. I downloaded a few older episodes and have enjoyed every minute of them; Josh Homme and Matt Berry a favourite so far, purely because I just couldn’t place them as being mates (which they are!).

Similarly to Beautiful Anonymous, the format and content varies, but Adam is both sympathetic, positive, engaging and funny when needed.

A couple of recent highlights for you.

You can subscribe to future episodes using this RSS Link (link corrected!)

* also recommended was BUG, his live show where Adam takes you through some of the comments found under music videos posted on YouTube, utterly hilarious. More about BUG.

Beautiful Anonymous podcast cover

Podcast: Beautiful Anonymous

Human beings are fascinating and the Beautiful Anonymous podcast is a fascinating sight into the life of that weeks caller. Some people come on and talk about how they can’t visual memories, one told of her escape from a violent abusive relationship, and a recent favourite was a German caller who was picking cherries in Australia and handed the phone to a ‘bushman’.

1 phone call. 1 hour. No names. No holds barred. That’s the premise behind Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People, hosted by comedian Chris Gethard. Every week, Chris opens the phone line to one anonymous caller, and he can’t hang up first, no matter what. From shocking confessions and family secrets to philosophical discussions and shameless self-promotion, anything can and will happen!

I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve finished listening feeling angry, and I’ve finished listening and felt uplifted and determined! But most of all I’ve enjoyed being invited into the life of an anonymous stranger for an hour or so. Chris is a naturally friendly outgoing guy but knows when to shut up. Not always an easy listen, and there is a voyeuristic aspect to it at times which feels a little odd but it’s never NOT engaging in some form or another.

A couple of recent highlights:

You can subscribe to future episodes using this RSS Link.

Weekend Reading

  • Fluid Dynamics: How a Wall of Lava Lamps Helps Encrypt 10% of the Internet
    Computers have a real problem when it comes generating truly random numbers, which has led one web-critical cybersecurity firm to reference an array of lava lamps to create unique and unpredictable code.
    Clever and pretty. Nothing like me then!

  • Attitude of Optimism
    “In 2018, how about cultivating an attitude of optimism? Not as a judgement, or a reaction to the world around you, but as a choice, by which you navigate and affect the world around you.”
    Much needed in the wake of 2017.

  • Inside One of America’s Last Pencil Factories
    A pencil is a little wonder-wand: a stick of wood that traces the tiniest motions of your hand as it moves across a surface. I am using one now, making weird little loops and slashes to write these words. As a tool, it is admirably sensitive.
    It’s almost enough to make me go back to using a pencil… almost.

  • Apple and the Alexa Ecosystem
    I recently read two interesting takes on the ever-growing Alexa ecosystem as it relates to Apple that made me think about the future of Siri and HomeKit.
    The future is not connected. It never will be.

  • Uber’s Secret Tool for Keeping the Cops in the Dark
    In May 2015 about 10 investigators for the Quebec tax authority burst into Uber Technologies Inc.’s office in Montreal. The authorities believed Uber had violated tax laws and had a warrant to collect evidence. Managers on-site knew what to do, say people with knowledge of the event.
    ANOTHER reason not to use Uber.

  • Salar de Uyuni is the World’s Largest Natural Mirror
    When you think about the most beautiful places in the world, you probably think of mountains or forests.
    Gorgeous (nothing like m… etc etc)

  • An Open Letter to the Box of Loose Cables in My Closet
    I know you’re hurting. The distance is killing me too. Last night, I woke up in a cold sweat to the thought of not having immediate access to you.
    Funny cos true.

  • ‘Why Am I So Lazy?’
    Why am I so lazy? As long as I can remember, I’ve always done as little as possible to still get the job done, to still get the A, to get the extra credit and be the teacher’s pet.
    This is the view I have of myself. It’s not the reality but persists. I am lazy.

  • The mystery of Jesus, the naked hippie dancer
    For decades, William Jellett danced at gigs and festivals, and told people he was the Son of God. Then, it seemed, he disappeared. It was a Saturday evening, St Valentine’s Day 1970, when William Jellett first thought he might be Jesus.
    Fascinating, if long, story of a legend I knew nothing about.

  • British tourist missing in Israel may have Jerusalem syndrome
    Israeli authorities are searching for a British man who is missing in the Negev desert amid fears that he could be suffering from Jerusalem syndrome, a psychiatric condition whose sufferers believe they are prophets or other biblical figures.
    See previous link. Baader Meinhof at play?

  • John Humphrys’ attitude to equal pay highlights the BBC’s impartiality problem
    Of the many things I have learned life is too short for – making your own puff pastry, monogamy, trying to have a proper drink in the interval at the theatre – top of my list is getting in a mobile-broadcast van outside my house in my nightie to be hooked up to the Today programme studio.
    So much wrong with this. First things first though, why is that twat still employed by the BBC?

  • Kaveh Akbar Is Poetry’s Biggest Cheerleader
    Ever eavesdropped on two poets having a conversation at a coffee shop? Iranian-American poet Kaveh Akbar has created an online space that lets you do that without leaving your bed. How?
    Not sure about the name, but this is pretty great.

  • Bad design in action: the false Hawaiian ballistic missile alert
    The Honolulu Civil Beat has tweeted a screenshot of the interface that was used to send an real alert for a nonexistent incoming ballistic missile on Saturday morning.
    Good. Grief.

  • Beyond the Bitcoin Bubble
    The sequence of words is meaningless: a random array strung together by an algorithm let loose in an English dictionary. What makes them valuable is that they’ve been generated exclusively for me, by a software tool called MetaMask. In the lingo of cryptography, they’re known as my seed phrase.
    Finally a bitcoin article that helps me understand (some of) what it is all about.

  • David Byrne Launches the “Reasons to Be Cheerful” Web Site: A Compendium of News Meant to Remind Us That the World Isn’t Actually Falling Apart
    Whatever your ideological persuasion, our time has no doubt given you more than a few reasons to fear for the future of civilization, not least because bad news sells.
    Hurrah!

  • The Psychological & Neurological Disorders Experienced by Characters in Alice in Wonderland: A Neuroscience Reading of Lewis Carroll’s Classic Tale
    Most reputable doctors tend to refrain from diagnosing people they’ve never met or examined. Unfortunately, this circumspection doesn’t obtain as often among lay folk. When we lob uninformed diagnoses at other people, we may do those with genuine mental health issues a serious disservice.
    Might re-read the book now, will put a different spin on things.

  • The men and women who brought curry to Birmingham
    Curry has become as much a staple of British cuisine as fish and chips or the roast dinner. An exhibition is celebrating some of the earliest curry houses in Birmingham, a city synonymous with the cuisine.
    Who doesn’t love a curry?

Ballet Swan lake

En Pointe

It’s always good to try something new and so I kicked off this year with a first; my first ever live ballet performance (watching, not performing) of Swan Lake.

Having spotted it on Facebook late last year, I posted to see if anyone else was interested and one of my awesome gym buddies Martha said yes, and so it was that Martha and I found ourselves taking our seats, both a little unsure of quite what to expect but excited nonetheless.

I’d figured that Swan Lake was a reasonably safe bet for a ballet virgin (no doubt those in the know will correct this assumption) if for no other reason than I know the music. I’ve not been to many dance performances; a flamenco show in Spain many many years ago still reverberates for despite having seen flamenco on TV, seeing it live in the flesh was an entirely different experience that was as sensuous as it was slick. As I had seen ballet on TV before, I wondered if a live performance would translate the same way.

My only preconception was that ballet was loud due to the blocks in the shoes, so as the lights dimmed and the orchestra breathed into life I could feel my pulse quicken.

The story of Swan Lake is a bit on the dark side, all sorcery and death but isn’t all that complex, or long, and of course the story is just the vehicle to bring the performances to life. One thing that was quickly apparent was that there is a lot of applause during a ballet.

It’s quite an experience, not just the fact you have a small orchestra playing mere feet from you – we were three rows back from the front – but the physical prowess of some of the dancers was startling. It took me a while to fully get to grips with what I was watching because the dancers all made it look almost effortless, whether one of the main troupe or one of the leads. At one point, the prima ballerina spends a few minutes spinning en pointe, on one foot, it was utterly mesmerising to watch the control, poise, and elegance on display.

A few little surprises though, not only how much the dancers talk to each other on stage (you can’t hear them of course, so I was wondering if it was on-stage direction or asking what was for dinner that evening), and with many of the ensemble dancers on stage during performances, there was a lot of regal hand waving as one of the leads had the rest of the stage to themselves, but maybe that’s just a Swan Lake thing?

I did enjoy it on the whole. The opening two Acts were a little slow, but throughout the performance I found myself in that wonderfully ‘lost’ place, utterly focussed on the stage and unaware of my surroundings. Whilst I wouldn’t say I was a convert, I’m glad I went and maybe I’ll look to a few more dance acts at this years Fringe Festival… maybe…

Happy 2nd Birthday

Dear Lucy,

You are two. TWO!

How this has happened so quickly is beyond me (heaven knows what your parents must think!), but there you have it. You are now two years old and as your character and personality has started to show, I think, if possible, I’ve become even more smitten with my gorgeous little niece than ever.

So, what’s new now that you are two. Well you are now a proper little person, with your own sense of humour, your own quiet inquisitive nature, and you are turning into such a beautiful little person. And no this isn’t biased Uncle G talking, all you need to do is look at the comments on social media, and listen to my colleagues on whom I regularly foist your latest antics (blame your Mum for sending me the videos!), EVERYONE thinks you are utterly adorable, and they aren’t wrong.

It’s been a fun year for sure. You’ve done some properly amazing things, things you will take for granted but which are absolutely incredible!! First up the small matter of walking, which soon turned into a bobbling uncoordinated run and then all of a sudden we are chasing you up and down hallways whilst you scream in delight.

And then you only went and started talking and learning how to communicate, stringing words together in what turns out to be mostly commands to get what you want. I will admit though, I was a little disappointed that your first word wasn’t aardvark but hey, it was a long shot…

Now that you are walking and talking you’ve fast become my favourite little drunk dictator; stoating about on slightly wobbly legs, yelling HIYA at anyone who passes, or TA TA as you run off somewhere else, or MUM UP, or MUM JOUSS, and so on.

You also developed a cheeky smile. A wonderful toothy grin that transforms you from big eyed angelic beauty to mischievous troublemaker in a split second. The latter is usually accompanied by the throwing or touching of something you kinda-maybe-sorta knew you shouldn’t do but suggests that you are gonna do it anyway just to find out what happens.

Alas with mischievousness comes consequence and you are also learning that sometimes grown ups will say no and stop you doing something. The thing in question doesn’t seem to matter, and the first moments of quiet rage can spring from anywhere. I won’t lie, I am sincerely hoping to get a good temper tantrum captured on video for future embarrassment opportunities (don’t say I didn’t warn you!).

Naturally, I have in no way encouraged you to explore the boundaries of your naughtiness and any claims by your mother that I did are complete fabrications (just as I will continue to deny any future allegations of encouraging your naughty behaviour… it’s my Uncle G perogative).

What’s even more fun is the most recent development; you are now copying words that people say, yes even the naughty ones. However it’s fair to say that between them, your Mum and Dad are more than capable of teaching you all the really bad ones, so I will settle for getting you to shout words like JOBBIE (which is important as it’s your Grandma McLean’s most favourite word ever!!).

Yet despite all these new found skills you are still prone to stopping and quietly observing your surroundings. One minute you are hauling me around a playpark – and I do mean hauling, you are suprisingly strong for a two year old – the next you are stock still and wide-eyed as you watch another kid tackle the slide.

One of my favourite photos I took of you last year was of you just sitting staring out the window at the world. I’d love to have know what you were thinking, and I so dearly hope that that sense of curiosity remains with you as you grow. The world is wonderful if you look at it the right way and I’ll do my very best to remind of you that whenever I can.

My gorgeous niece, you continue to amaze and delight; every moment with you, every photo I see of you, fills my heart with joy and love. Every moment I spend with you I see a wonderful little person emerging who is curious to learn more about the world around her, who watches peoples faces to see how they react, who can be shy at times, boisterous at others, and is so very deeply loved by her parents, her grandparents and her ‘Unc Gee’ (which, for the record, was THE best Christmas present I got last year when you uttered that on Christmas Day!).

I cannot wait to see what this year has in store for you, although if I’m being honest I’m mostly interested in seeing just how far you can push your Mum and Dad before they crack… the terrible twos beckon!

Happy Birthday Lucypops!

Uncle G

P.S. For the tantrum video I want a full on, throw yourself to the floor, flailing limbs, screaming performance. None of this sulking off in the huff (save that for when you are an angsty teenager).

Weekend Reading

STOP! If you haven’t seen Oprah Winfrey’s acceptance speech at the Golden Globes, go and watch it right now, don’t worry. I’ll wait.

  • Watch Prince Play Jazz Piano & Coach His Band Through George Gershwin’s “Summertime”
    A rock enigma wrapped around an R&B quandary, wearing platform shoes and purple velour. The cheekbones of an angel, dances moves and lyrics from an infernally sexy place, and more musical talent than it seems possible for a single person to possess in one lifetime….
    Two things from this: 1. Good GOD the man was talented. 2. I really wanna buy a piano.

  • David Letterman’s Netflix Talk Show Sets Obama as First Guest
    David Letterman has amassed an all-star roster of guests for his Netflix talk show series, titled My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman.
    Starts this evening, and as far as first guests go it seems like it might be ‘quite good’?

  • People have spent centuries trying to prove caffeine is dangerous, but the science suggests otherwise
    When Davis Cripe died in his South Carolina classroom last May, it was a shock to everyone who knew him. He just 16, and healthy. His death made no sense, especially when the coroner said that he’d been killed by a substance most of us consume daily: caffeine.
    SCREW YOU CAFFEINE DENIERS!! (Denyers? Denyerists??)

  • This British Gardener Doesn’t Build Furniture
    Remember the end of “The Giving Tree,” when the tree has nothing left to give her favorite boy except her stump to sit on? Some people think that’s a heartwarming end to a story of selfless love, while others read it and think, “I could make a tree into a way better seat than that.”
    Well this is rather lovely (in an endearingly British kinda way)

  • The Need To Be Alone
    “By retreating into ourselves, it looks as if we are the enemies of others, but our solitary moments are in reality a homage to the richness of social existence. Unless we’ve had time alone, we can’t be who we would like to be around our fellow humans. We won’t have original opinions.
    I’m reading more articles this and they all ring true. They also seem to go hand in hand with more articles railing against socila media/always on lifestyles. Not a coincidence I don’t think.

  • How to Take a Picture of a Stealth Bomber Over the Rose Bowl
    An aerial photographer explains precisely how he took this amazing photograph. The first thought that comes to mind staring at the photograph above is: This has got to be fake. The B-2 stealth bomber looks practically pasted onto the field. The flag is unfurled just so.
    Impressive. Definitely couldn’t have done that with an iPhone (or could you??)

  • You’re Most Likely to Do Something Extreme Right Before You Turn 30
    Each year, cities, regions, and other organizers around the world host around 3,000 marathons. In large races like the Los Angeles Marathon and the London Marathon, more than half the participants are running a marathon for the very first time.
    Ahhhh our fragile egos, the realisation we won’t live forever, do all the things. How programmed we are!

  • Are Gummy Bear Flavors Just Fooling Our Brains?
    Fun fact about the newsroom at WFPL, the NPR member station in Louisville, Ky., where I work: It is fully stocked with lots of candy. Mini-chocolate bars, peanut butter cups, Jolly Ranchers — the list goes on and the candy bowl is constantly being refilled.
    This is why I don’t like those purple carrots.

  • Why Does Exercise Start Hurting Two Days After a Workout?
    If you’ve decided, this year, to start working out, you might have noticed a strange phenomenon: You’ll leave the gym feeling fine, and then two days later wake up sore.
    I write this comment after doing some ‘core’ exercises two days ago, sneezing, and then cursing my aching abs. The DOMS are real people!

  • Japanese Waiter Exhibits 8,000 Chopstick Sleeves Left as Restaurant “Tips”
    In a culture without tipping, one Japanese waiter began to realize that customers were expressing their gratitude in a subtle (and in some cases even unintentional way) by folding the sleeves in which their chopsticks came wrapped.
    A few moments of thoughtfulness is all it takes.

  • Scientists developed an electronic pill to analyze the gas in your gut
    Digestion is something of a black box. We know food gets put through a physical and chemical pulverization to make it easier to extract nutrients before we get rid of the waste. But there are all sorts of variances in each of our own unique digestive tracts.
    Dear Scientists, just pop to my place first thing in the morning, I got ALL THE FARTS YOU NEED!!

  • Tua Tagovailoa’s Rise Seemed Unlikely, but It Was Part of Nick Saban’s Championship Plan
    Like everything else for Alabama, the schedule scrawled on the Crimson Tide’s locker-room wall in Mercedes-Benz Stadium showed signs of precise, meticulous planning. 6:59 p.m., kickers. 7:09, specialists. 7:19, team. 8:17, Kick UGA ASS. But things don’t always go according to plan.
    I love this kind of thing. Go against the grain, do the unpredictable, triumph.

  • I Started the Media Men List
    In October, I created a Google spreadsheet called “Shitty Media Men” that collected a range of rumors and allegations of sexual misconduct, much of it violent, by men in magazines and publishing.
    I remember reading about this spreadsheet last year, the impact is has had (and is having) still reverberates.

  • Inside the Amish town that builds U2, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift’s live shows
    In December 2016, designer Ric Lipson was in New York on a conference call with Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr.
    Who knew!

  • The Encylopedia of the Missing
    From the outside, it’s just another mobile home in a neighborhood of mobile homes on the northwest side of Fort Wayne, Indiana. There’s the same carport, the same wedge of grass out front, the same dreamy suburban soundtrack of wind chimes and air conditioners.
    Nowt stranger than folk. Although these days Nowt stranger than folk on the internet, is way more accurate.

  • Emma Watson’s willingness to face the truth about race is refreshing
    I hope that the actor’s acknowledgment that she has benefited from being white will lead others to ask themselves hard questions too Feminism, to quote bell hooks, is for everybody. It’s a simple enough statement.
    With every voice speaking out, a few more minds change. The fact that Emma has a large platform makes this all the more powerful.

  • Improving Ourselves to Death
    Happy New Year, you! Now that the champagne has gone flat and the Christmas tree is off to be mulched, it’s time to turn your thoughts to the months ahead.
    So true. I refer you to my complete lack of resolutions. Live life as best you can and be happy people! (note: I am about a year or so OUT of this kind of mindset… goals, measures etc. and I’m much happier for it).

  • The world’s first major city to run out of water may have just over three months left
    It’s the height of summer in Cape Town, and the southwesternmost region of South Africa is gripped by a catastrophic water shortage.
    Good grief, this is awful.

Six by Nico: Best of 2017

The eighth incarnation of Six by Nico and as we move into a new calendar year, they’ve decided to go back to some of the best dishes from 2017, but there was a twist!

The menu was announced on the 5th January, and in the days prior to the announcement it was up to the public to choose what dishes would make the cut. For each of the six courses we were given a choice.

  1. Chips & Cheese (The Chippie) vs Ratatouille (Disney)
  2. Pancake (Route 66) vs Steak Pie (The Chippie)
  3. Mac & Cheese (Childhood) vs Wild Mushroom (Forest)
  4. Sea Bream Taco (Route 66) vs Fish & Chips (The Chippie)
  5. Duck (Illusion) vs Burger (Childhood)
  6. Egg (Illusion) vs Lemon Tart (Route 66)

Talk about Hobson’s Choice! Some of my favourite dishes weren’t even an option, no Picnic Blanket (Picnic), no Lady & the Tramp (Disney), no Sandwich Platter (Picnic)! That said, as they evolve each dish throughout the six week run of the menu, regardless of what the final menu looked like, I knew it would be a little bit different to when we first ate them.

And so, with all the voting in, the menu for our eighth visit (from the website) looks like this:

  1. THE CHIPPIE – CHIPS and CHEESE – Parmesan Espuma / Confit Potato / Curry Oil
  2. THE CHIPPIE – STEAK PIE – Speyside Beef Shin / Onion Sauerkraut / Brioche
  3. CHILDHOOD – MAC and CHEESE – Glazed Chicken Wing / Charred Cauliflower / Truffle
  4. ROUTE 66 – SEA BREAM TACO – Guacamole / Pickled Chilli / Preserved Lime and Red Onion Salsa
  5. ILLUSION – DUCK – Blueberries / Hazelnut / Wild Mushroom / Cocoa
  6. ILLUSION – WHITE CHOCOLATE – Passionfruit / Lime Curd / Coconut

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Six by Nico: Best of 2017 #sixbynico

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But first, as always, Snacks!

Definitely some favourites here (even though the snacks weren’t part of the voting), so we had Smoked Haddock Bon Bon, Truffle and Parmesan popcorn, and Peanut Butter Milkshake. The Bon Bons were rich and packed with full of flavour, the Truffle popcorn was lost on me (popcorn is weird), but hey who doesn’t like a light creamy Peanut Butter milkshake. Some great snacks but we were eager for the first course.

I was so pleased The Chippie faired well in the public voting as it was my favourite of all the menus and I had forgotten how wonderfully light the Chips and Cheese starter course was. A little cup of the rich and light espuma, with a nice mix of confit potato pieces, some soft, some ‘edges’ and the curry oil adds a very subtle aspect to the dish without overpowering it. I love to think I’d be able to eat a much bigger serving of this but it’s so rich, I think the portion size is about right.

My rants on what constitutes a proper pie are well enough know by my friends (who I was eating with) yet we didn’t really care when this delicious deconstructed plate of tasty offerings was put in front of us. The beef shin is the star, melting in the mouth, falling apart under the gentlest of prods with the fork, I definitely COULD eat a larger portion of this. The onion sauerkraut and brioche help bring it together and it was universally praised and quickly scoffed.

The Mac and Cheese dish I remember as being good but nothing to shout about. It hasn’t really changed in content or presentation but was an absolute delight. A ‘slice’ of thick and very cheesy macaroni, with succulent chicken wing in a light barbeque sauce, all helped by the nutty charred cauliflower, definitely seemed better than the first time round!

Next up, the Sea Bream Taco – and putting aside the fact that I didn’t vote for this – which was pretty tasty although the lime salsa doesn’t sit well on my plate. The fish is clearly the star here, perfectly cooked with a nice crisp skin, sitting on top of a slightly too oily taco, all of which sits on top of a delicious guacamole. A nice idea but one of those dishes you have to move around to eat (you try cutting a taco sitting on a pile of guacamole!). As always, all well presented, and tasty enough just some aspects aren’t for me.

The final savoury dish was one of my least favourites when I first tried it, but having seen it plated up at other tables, I thought I’d stick with it (I had contemplated swapping this course out for the vegetarian option which was the same dish but with beetroot instead of duck). Alas it fell short. The duck was better than the last time, but there just isn’t enough variety of flavour for me which was surprising given it was on the Illusion menu which managed to mess with visuals and flavours pretty well. One sad little pickled mushroom was all I had to give the dish some pop. A shame (especially when the other vote option was, notably, a lot better).

Thankfully along came dessert to rescue the day! Whilst I had voted for the Lemon Tart, I was just as happy to see the Egg dish arrive. Presented as half of a frozen coconut panacotta egg, with passionfruit yolk, it was packed full of vibrant flavours, and as it melted that panacotta adds to the sumptuous of the entire plate. Wonderful stuff.

We had managed to get a table right at the start of this ‘new’ menu, and as ever I know they will tweak the dishes as they work through the 6 week run, what’ll be really interesting this time is to see where they finally end up, having had 12 weeks to fuss and cajole these wonderful plates of food into something better and better with each presentation.

Overall, as always, a good evening of tasty food. Going in, part of me thought the idea of a ‘Best of’ would diminish each dish a little as I’ve tried them all before, but instead I found myself twice as delighted to be able to revisit some of my very favourite plates of food from last year again.

Have I mentioned that the set menu is £25 for six courses (and you can swap courses between the main and vegetarian options). Add in £5 for the ‘Snacks’, and £5 for an apertif, chuck a bottle of wine in and for £45-50 a head you are being treated to high end cuisine in a laid back environment. The food quality remains high, as does the execution of each plate. It really is a fine dining experience on a budget.

Podcast: Hidden Brain

I discovered the Hidden Brain podcast late last year and it’s quickly become a favourite.

The Hidden Brain helps curious people understand the world – and themselves. Using science and storytelling, Hidden Brain’s host Shankar Vedantam reveals the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, the biases that shape our choices, and the triggers that direct the course of our relationships.

It’s a mishmash of topics, all delivered by a curious, engaged host who has enough background knowledge to ask good questions and never fails to get me thinking about how I act, how I engage with the world, and how I am affected by the world around me.

The most recent episode is one that touches on the world we live in today, tracing back through from the roots of advertising to the simple notion that is pretty evident to everyone I know, “our mental space is under attack by attention hijackers”. It also touches on how Trump became President, the first popular usage of fake news, and just how much advertisers will lie to us.

The big takeaway for me from this episode was to find a way to be more mindful with my everyday attention. It’s too easy to ‘just spend 10 minutes’ on Buzzfeed (also mentioned in the podcast) and lose most of a day without really paying attention to it; those times where a quick google at 10pm suddenly finds you watching YouTube videos at 1am are all down to manufactured content deliberately created to draw us in and keep our attention.

How often do you decide what holds your attention?

Listen to the full episode here:

And you can subscribe to future episodes using this RSS Link.

Got any podcast recommendations? I’d love to hear them.

Coffee in a blue cup

Weekend Reading

Thanks to the people who threw a couple of these my way, if you do spot anything and think ‘that weirdo will probably find this interesting’ then send it on (Twitter usually best way). And yes, it takes a weirdo to know a weirdo…

  • Commencement 1999
    Rocker David Bowie and jazz innovator Wayne Shorter accepted honorary doctorates while 580 graduates received their diplomas at the 1999 Berklee Commencement last Saturday.
    No idea why this bubbled into my timeline but it did, and it’s Bowie, and it’s wonderful. What better way to start 2018!

  • Every Last Jedi
    This is a spoiler-filled first set of reactions to Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
    Yes I’ve seen it. Yes I’m in the ‘well that could’ve been better’ camp. Not bad, just not as good as we’d all hoped (at least it’s not another Jar Jar).

  • A People’s History of Tattooine (with tweets)
    @tcarmody I’m just saying you can’t trust a man what plays in a cantina band. Not you, Figrin D’ith.
    Is this fanfic? I think this is fanfic (regardless of the medium). One for Star Wars geeks.

  • From C-3PO’s perspective, ‘Star Wars’ is a prolonged nightmare
    Which means that soon our giddy anticipation will give way to hard, cold reality like the planet Hoth — or soft, warm reality, like a Wookiee’s hug, as the case may be. We know that C-3PO, everyone’s favorite useless golden robot butler, is going to be in the new movie.
    Is this fanfic? I think this is fanfic (regardless of the medium). One for Star Wars geeks.

  • The Improbable Time When Orson Welles Interviewed Andy Kaufman (1982)
    “Sitcoms are the lowest form of entertainment,” declares Andy Kaufman as portrayed by Jim Carrey in Milos Forman’s biopic Man on the Moon. “I mean, it’s just stupid jokes and canned laughter.”
    The reverbations of my watching of Jim & Andy continue. I fear I may be entering a Kaufman-esque hole in the internet soon (or I have already?)

  • The Next Bechdel Test
    The Bechdel-Wallace Test — more commonly abbreviated to the Bechdel Test — asks two simple questions of a movie: Does it have at least two named female characters? And do those characters have at least one conversation that is not about a man? A surprising number of films fail the test.
    Further, much needed, reverbations from #metoo

  • An Argument Against Luxury Seating at the Movies
    The increasingly popular luxury reclining chair is a scourge on the moviegoing experience. Featuring heated seats, padded footrests and leather upholstery, these reservable, oversized, electric-powered armchairs have been installed incrementally at the country’s major movie theater chains.
    I’ve yet to try one of these, and let’s be honest, the problem with cinemas is not the seats (hint: if you talk during a movie YOU ARE THE PROBLEM)

  • 30 years after Prozac arrived, we still buy the lie that chemical imbalances cause depression
    Some 2,000 years ago, the Ancient Greek scholar Hippocrates argued that all ailments, including mental illnesses such as melancholia, could be explained by imbalances in the four bodily fluids, or “humors.”
    This is STILL the line, I’ve heard it from my own doctor. Shocking.

  • Achieve That New Year’s Goal By Not Telling A Soul
    If you don’t think this applies to you, you’re in good company—this topic has caused some controversy in the Curiosity office. Many of us think that a declaration of your goals is just a way to stay accountable to them, not a way to feel like you’ve already achieved them.
    I’ve already mentioned that I don’t do resolutions but here’s the thing, I do them every year. Accountability vs fear of failure is a tough balance though.

  • The David Bowie Book Club Gets Launched by His Son: Read One of Bowie’s 100 Favorite Books Every Month
    Cast as the star of 1976’s The Man Who Fell to Earth, David Bowie traveled to New Mexico for the shoot, meeting with director Nicolas Roeg soon upon arrival. “I took with me hundreds and hundreds of books,” Bowie said to The Face magazine a few years later.
    Wanna start a book club, or just get some ideas? Here ya go.

  • Iceland has a simple solution for closing gender pay gap: Make it illegal
    … (yup, I got nothing. Simple solution indeed).

  • The year we wanted the internet to be smaller
    Americans got tired of big social media in 2017. Or at least, we stopped wanting to look at it, and we stopped pretending to like it.
    *yawn* must be the new year, didn’t we say a lot of this last year (about stepping away from social media)? I know I did…

  • Why You Should Always Add Water To Your “Neat” Whiskey
    But not all whiskeys are smokey, especially as you get farther from Scotland. Still, it’s quite likely that the phenomenon remains in effect.
    First things first, Scottish whisky HAS NO ‘E’ in the spelling!! Other than that, whisky is rank, go nuts.

  • Interview: Architect Marc Kushner
    Manipulating space in order to create new ways for us to live and work, architects have always experimented with their craft.
    The one profession I’d love to have gotten into, I find design (particularly when focused on how humans interact with it) to be endlessly fascinating.

  • The 99 best things that happened in 2017
    If you’re feeling despair about the fate of humanity in the 21st century, you might want to reconsider. In 2017, it felt like the global media picked up all of the problems, and none of the solutions. To fix that, here are 99 of the best stories from this year that you probably missed.
    See, the world is not a bad place! Screw the media, believe in love and compassion!

  • Scientists have created a drug that replicates the health benefits of exercise
    Researchers have made the breakthrough of couch potatoes’ dreams with a new drug that mimics some of the most important effects of exercise.
    FINALLY!

  • Fiber Is Good for You. Now Scientists May Know Why.
    A diet of fiber-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, reduces the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. Indeed, the evidence for fiber’s benefits extends beyond any particular ailment: Eating more fiber seems to lower people’s mortality rate, whatever the cause.
    And here was me eating Fruit & Fibre for how good it tastes…

  • There’s a reason using a period in a text message makes you sound angry
    When it comes to texting, the period gets a lot of attention. What they’re actually noticing is written language becoming more flexible, with texting possessing its own set of stylistic norms (sometimes informally called “textspeak” or “textese”).
    Language evolves. I’m trying not to get angry at this nonsense though. Can. You. TELL?

  • Easter hunt is on: Cadbury makes batch of white Creme eggs
    British confectioner Cadbury is making a white chocolate version of its popular Easter Creme egg — and offering a cash prize for those who find them as it tries to bolster the product’s appeal.
    It’s actually offering the prize to stop any idiot trying to eat what will be the most sickly sweet thing ever invented (after tablet, obvs).

  • The Top Albums of 2017
    Here is my soundtrack from the past 365 days, a very long, very weird year. All in all, there were 74 albums I went back to over and over in 2017. And here’s a Spotify playlist of the entire pile.
    Maybe I’ll just keep up with music one year behind, seems to be easier that way, let everyone else figure out the good stuff first.

  • What is your album of the year and why? (Song of the year ok also.)
    So: If you had to pick one album that was your big discovery in 2017 – or just one song, if you can’t pick an album – what would it be? Why is it so great? Then they talked about watching the film when they were nine and I wanted to die, but I still love the record…
    Both a reminder that AskMeFi is still going strong, and that there is always new music you had no idea existed. Bjorn from Abba’s Piano album is bloody lovely!

  • How to protect your PC against the major ‘Meltdown’ CPU security flaw
    Details have emerged on two major processor security flaws this week, and the industry is scrambling to issue fixes and secure machines for customers. Dubbed “Meltdown” and “Spectre,” the flaws affect nearly every device made in the past 20 years.
    Still ‘breaking’ but worth keeping an eye out for more on these issues.

  • Rock night at the museum: Gigs and shows will accompany Rip It Up exhibition at National Museum
    The NMS has held Fringe events before but not rock gigs to accompany exhibitions. The Herald was allowed a peak at some of the 300 exhibits which will form the exhibition, at the NMS’s huge store in Granton, north Edinburgh.
    Looks like a wee day out in Edinburgh this year.