Weekend Reading

  • Google Home vs Alexa
    A year ago, my boyfriend got an Amazon Echo. I remember first using the product, dazzled at its ability to process requests from across the room. Alexa, play us some music. As the year progressed, the wow factor faded quickly.
    Going to be an interesting space to watch… er… listen to.
  • How to #StayOutraged Without Losing Your Mind
    Since the election, a lot of people not previously involved in activism have jumped in with both feet. The ACLU and Planned Parenthood have been inundated with donations, mostly from first-time givers.
    US focused but still valid in the current climate
  • Hackers downloaded US government climate data and stored it on European servers as Trump was being inaugurated
    As Donald Trump was sworn into office as the new president of the US on Jan. 20, a group of around 60 programmers and scientists were gathered in the Department of Information Studies building at the University of California-Los Angeles, harvesting government data.
  • The scam that fooled Sherlock’s creator
    Why did Arthur Conan Doyle fall for two schoolgirls’ outrageous hoax? Although Frances claimed she had once seen a fairy.
    Somewhere in the back of my brain I knew some of this but didn’t know the Conan Doyle connection
  • In the Face of Constant Censorship, Bulgakov Kept Writing
    Before his death at a Siberian transit camp in 1938, Osip Mandelstam famously uttered, “Only in Russia is poetry respected—it gets people killed.” Today, Mikhail Bulgakov is one of the most iconic Russian authors.
    To all artists, never ever stop.
  • One Man’s Daring Escape from Mao’s Darkest Prison
    In 1958, as part of China’s Anti-Rightist Campaign, 550,000 Chinese citizens were convicted of crimes against the state. One of them was Xu Hongci, a medical student arrested for speaking out against the Soviet Union, who was sentenced to a camp called White Grass Ridge.
    I challenge you to NOT read this in one go.
  • Ian Rankin: There’s Nothing Crime Fiction Can’t Do
    Ian Rankin does crime novels exceptionally well. His fictional Detective Inspector John Rebus has as high a profile across the UK as Rankin does, thanks to 21 novels, numerous short stories, and a television adaptation.
    To date, they have never cast the right actor to play Rebus. Sorry John Hannah but no!
  • Why Trump’s Staff Is Lying
    One of the most striking features of the early Trump administration has been its political uses of lying. The big weekend story was the obviously false claim of Donald Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, that Trump pulled in the largest inauguration crowds in American history.
    I’m running out of words for this administration already, and this look at their behaviours is even more troubling.
  • Watch: David Thomson on ‘Psycho’ and the Playful Cruelty of Hitchcock
    There have been two consistent complaints lodged against the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. One is their mostly-white, mostly-old, and mostly-male voting bloc, which they took strides to diversify in 2016.
    Hitchcock is one of my favourite directors, no doubt he was a flawed person though.
  • Space junk could take out a European satellite this week
    A European Space Agency satellite risks colliding with a piece of space debris about 15 centimeters (a half-foot) long this week, forcing ESA’s flight control to plan a rare evasive maneuver.
    If you’ve read Seveneves this story will have a familiar ring to it (and if you haven’t, give it a look, lemme know how it finishes though!)
  • Meet the leader of a billionaires’ club determined to stop Trump from destroying the world
    The glassy waters barely disturbed the Sanssouci Star, a 174-foot yacht on which William Doll was hanging out one evening last August, anchored at a distance from the voluble quayside bars and restaurants of Stavanger.
    Is this group any better or worse? I’m getting really confused.
  • Now heading for Oscar glory, “La La Land” was almost never made
    La La Land, a musical love story about an aspiring young actress and a jazz musician trying to make it in Hollywood, is this year’s critical darling. The film just tied a record for the most Oscar nominations at the 2017 Academy Awards.
    Part of me is glad Whiplash was made first, a nice ‘step’ towards this movie for sure.
  • Get Up and Move. It May Make You Happier.
    When people get up and move, even a little, they tend to be happier than when they are still, according to an interesting new study that used cellphone data to track activities and moods. In general, the researchers found, people who move are more content than people who sit.
    File under: Well Duh. Also file under: Wait until you’ve finished here before ya get up though!
  • Oscar Nominations: 12 Biggest Snubs and Surprises
    The biggest curveball from Tuesday morning’s Oscars announcement arguably wasn’t the nominees — it was how the Academy decided to unveil them.
    Yup it’s Academy Award of Merit time again!
  • The Hollywood List Everyone Wants to Be On
    Franklin Leonard’s anonymous survey has launched careers, recognized four of the past eight Best Picture winners, and pushed movie studios to think beyond sequels and action flicks.
    Yup it’s Academy Award of Merit time again (again)
  • New Zealand rodeo turns to men dressed as sheep
    Kakahi Rodeo, which takes place on New Zealand’s North Island, abandoned its children’s sheep-chasing event in 2016 after it fell foul of animal welfare rules set by the country’s Ministry of Primary Industries, the Waikato Times reports.
    I am making no comment about people from Aberdeen. Nope. Not a word.