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Miss a Meal Linky

It’s May! That means it’s time to Miss a Meal for Kaibosh, the excellent charity that smartly sews up the systemic gaps to take leftover retail food to the hungry people who need it. Skip a takeaway night and send the $$ to Kaibosh, do eeet… (Those outside NZ might look for a local equivalent charity, there are others around on the same model)

I think I’ve linked before to the great, five-minute text game Sacrilege about a young woman in a nightclub looking at her options for taking a guy home. The creator has now written a post-mortem a year on from its release. Play it, then read about it.

RIP Hans Rudi Giger. Freaky dude. The excellent Alien filmmaking nerdery blog Strange Shapes has a brief but insightful obit.

Did you know the age of Miss America correlates with the number of people scalded to death by steam in that year? Just an example from a daily blog of surprising relationships between two things! (Making the point that correlation is not causation, of course.)

I’ve linked before to these images of Disney characters as university students, but it has been massively updated, heaps of new characters.

If the moon were only 1 pixel in size: a tediously accurate map of the solar system

Why does every novel set in Africa have the same cover?

“You can get all the equipment you need to properly sharpen a pencil for less than a thousand dollars” – pencil sharpening done right, a ten-minute movie (via Svend and various other sources)

Perfect: [ALTHOUGH the GRRM account is a fake, curses, thanks Johnnie for setting me straight]

Even more perfect: perhaps the greatest use of Twitter ever. (Check the dates.)

Some amazing photos of cool stuff at the Chicago Field Museum over the last hundred years. (via AndyMac) Just all sorts of interesting bits and pieces!

Screenwriter types: this article about how one writer stepped up his game when he went to work with Dan Harmon on Community is smart, packed with in-jokes, motivational, and (crucially) has a pre- and post-rewrite version of a celebrated Community script for the compare and contrast. Awesome.

In December, I linkied this great Rolling Stone piece by Matt Taibbi about the New Jersey city of Camden coping with Chris Christie’s decision to pull out the police force. (Christie has since had a very dramatic few months…) Anyway, here’s a great companion piece about Camden: Kathy Dobie writing in GQ about the little league that has been created, and is thriving, in America’s most dangerous city.

And while we’re talking Chris Christie and New Jersey, the New Yorker has an intriguing piece about Mark Zuckerberg committing a hundred million dollars to education reform in Newark… Spoiler: it doesn’t go well.

And finally: all 178 episodes with Tom Baker as Doctor Who, simultaneously


Vocabulary Linky

Who displays the biggest vocabulary in hiphop, and how does it compare to Shakespeare? (via Tom Crosby; some of this unsurprising – Kool Keith! – some of it quite surprising indeed…)

Huh, since I added that to the file it kinda went big, maybe bigger than it deserved – the analysis is pretty shallow! But anyway.

Also going viral in a big way, Buffy as Monkey-Island style point-and-click adventure

Live HD video of Earth, from space.

All you need to know about NZ’s boy in the NBA, currently in playoff mode, you can glean from these headlines:
The complete list of people ejected for hitting Steven Adams and Power rankings: Who will punch Steven Adams in the face?

Moulin Rouge did a kids matinee in the 50s… (via Calum)

Nice piece on what John Hughes’s Sixteen Candles did right. (While not forgetting all the stuff it did… less right.)

Visual guide to petting animals properly

What’s really going on when people get grumpy about children getting prizes for trying, not for winning

The five great works of software

Star Wars is actually bees. (via Jamie N)

Quoting Svend, who sent this link: Nothing says “different worldview” like “humorous” newsreel segments

Sounds like NYC has finally caught up to little old Wellington in the coffee stakes

Semi-finally, Creepy Full House

And finally, via Julian von Sligo, the Rite of Spring set to Travolta/Curtis aerobics. Provocative stuff.


May Day Linky

Insight into the lovely True Detective title sequence

Disney princesses as drawn as Game of Thrones characters, and via Stephanie, genderswapped Disney characters (beautifully painted, those!)

Basically all my friends in coding shared this article in the last couple days: Programming Sucks. It’s hilarious and cutting and should be read by non-coding people wondering why the whole wired world is the way it is now.

A doco about the LGBT gaming scene (pay what you want) (via Scott Common) – trailer:

Ha ha, some HBO ads lovingly dramatise watching awkward moments on TV with your parents in the room. (via Andrew Salmond)

The definitive ranking of Babysitters Club cover outfits. (via Pearce, of course, who else)

I know there will be some readers who won’t be able to resist this: Duck Tales the theme song as a groovy slow jam

This clip tipped me over into going to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier. (It isn’t a clip from the movie.) Irresistible.

If you only ever watch one of Jimmy Fallon’s lip sync battles, make it this one, because emma stone Emma Stone EMMA STOOOOONE

Inequality is the big issue of the moment, and in that world, everybody’s talking Piketty. Here’s Max Rashbrooke with an NZ perspective on this gamechanger. (The Spectator has a bluffer’s guide, too.)

TNC writes about that racist NBA owner getting banned. His take is, as always, smart and sharp. It’s also a bit less celebratory than you’d expect.

And finally, a song that could justify the entire subgenre of “Christian rap music”:


Captain America: The Winter Soldier (USA, 2014)

This was a great action film in the mold of post-2000 action films – i.e. ludicrous stakes, lots of CGI, frenetic pace. I liked it a bunch. So some random notes:

* The film has Captain America’s name on it, but it’s a team film. Two black men, two women, and one traditional whitebread action guy. Sure, it’s that guy who’s on the poster, but this is definitely a good step forward. In related news, for heaven’s sake give Scarlett Johansen her own Black Widow film (if she wants it), she basically steals this one without even trying.

* Speaking of Black Widow – there’s a bit at the 3/4 mark when the big scary bad guy has Cap and Widow in his sights, and he says, “you get the man, I’ll get the woman”. And as soon as that happened and he went stomping after the brave resourceful woman, I sat a bit forward in my seat, because it’s the setup for one of the most cliche moves in action narrative.

To explain – as you move into your final sequence you need to set up the big confrontation – raise the stakes while you show your bad guy is scary as hell. The cliche way to do it? Aim your villain at the hero’s main ally. Put them in hospital, or in a coffin. Then the hero gets to be isolated and enraged and desperate all at once, ready for climax! (Or you aim your villain at the hero’s ladyfriend, and have them get killed or captured. “Fridged” you might say. Same deal.)

So in a movie called “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, the Winter Soldier (2nd part of title) could have a fight with Captain America (1st part of title) but he goes after another character instead? That character is toast, right? Is our super-resourceful Black Widow about to be stomped to put the villain over and set up a tearful Cap vs Winter finale?

SPOILER ALERT nope. Not even a little bit. It’s a small subversion, but it’s a pleasant one. This is a team movie, and the team get to work together the whole way through.

* Seeing comics writer/Winter Soldier creator Ed Brubaker in a scene was very distracting. He had good facial expressions.

* Marvel movies always have a little stinger scene at the end of the credits. They have one in the middle of the credits too. Well, this was the least rewarding end of credits scene yet. It was a loooong wait for something completely redundant. Don’t bother waiting for it.

* Anthony Mackie as the Falcon: yes, more of this sort of thing.

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Debate Linky

[Friday linky again on a Thursday this week - tomorrow is an NZ public holiday]

So for the last decade-and-a-half I’ve had this one-act play sitting around in draft. A student screenwriter outlines some dumb movie ideas, among them: a fish-out-of-water dramedy about an angry black youth who ends up on the school’s debate team, entering the most whitebread field of conflict imaginable, and of course he triumphs through upending the rules and embracing hip hop and…
…well it turns out, as usual, the real world is way ahead of any fiction I could dream up. Debate in the US is apparently in huge upheaval right now, and POC debaters are right at the core of it. The article is suggestive more than enlightening – don’t read the comments unless you want some headdesk – but the suggestions are compelling indeed.

I’m in a phase where I can’t think about climate change too hard or I get despondent. Hot Topic has a punchy state of play about the NZ political situation:

For Tim Groser, climate change is an international relations problem, to be solved by tough negotiation where New Zealand’s interests — as defined by Key & Co — are paramount. For John Key, climate change is a political problem. If the other side thinks it’s important, then by definition his party has to say it’s less important. Such is the nature of parliamentary party politics, as played by shallow people who don’t understand the breadth of the problem they are supposed to confront.

*sigh of rage*

Naomi Klein on climate change “Climate change is the fight of our lives – yet we can hardly bear to look at it” (via Grant Buist)

Watch Chuck D learn about the internet in 1994 in this 3 minute clip from MTV. Of course it uses the word “cyberspace”. That same year Chuck put an answerphone message about the possibilities of digital music distribution on new PE album “Muse Sick’n’Hour Mess Age”, and only a few years later PE was attempting to put a remix album online and, after being blocked by their studio, they quit and went independent. Chuck in ’94 is a hunt’n’peck typist – you can bet that changed…

Muppet Twin Peaks! (But, as discussed with Gem Wilder, there ain’t enough female Muppets to extend the gag. More female Muppets needed, it’s 2014 for pete’s sake!)

Epic essay/interview on the wonders of Adventure Time, which I really must watch one of these days.

Definitive stereotype map of Great Britain & Ireland

A very cool interactive map of the Game of Thrones world. Best feature: the “spoiler slider” so it only shows you things you’ve already read/seen!

Mash is doing a great run of posts on Neuromancer. Part 3 is a doozy – sure, Neuromancer is a caper story, but what do you see if you look it at as a knightly quest?

Drowning simulator

And finally, the brilliant interactive Cyberpunk Sauna Saga


Thursday Linky

Linky going out on Thursday this week on account of Easter.

Cavalorn has uncovered a genuine oddity from 70s Britain: a kid’s how-to guide for the occult. It’s like something out of Scarfolk, but real.

In Buzzfeed-does-journalism shock, here’s a quite nice piece on Tom Lehrer, and the quiet, comprehensive way he is ignoring his incredible legacy.

American football in China – this is a great tale. (via Nextdraft)

TL;DR wikipedia (via Dangerous Minds)

Kristen Schaal as Darth Vader

Malc tells a weirdly fascinating tale from his deep research into nuclear history: how did a 1980 tv movie feature in efforts to keep Pakistan from attaining nuclear power?

A conversation on Facebook led to a google search which unexpectedly turned this up: Herry Monster reunites with cute Sesame Street kid, 20 years later

The marvellous Mrs Meows gives a very smart, and usefully linked, account of how she grew out of Michael Jackson.

Hogwarts MOOC, lol

Unexpectedly, the AVClub manages to make a compelling inventory list on the subject of sinister rabbits in pop culture

True Detective meets Family Circus (I think I’ve seen more parodies of Family Circus than I have the real thing)

How to lie with graphs and charts! The real-world examples are jaw-dropping. (via Matt Cowens)

13-year-old eagle huntress (via Craig Oxbrow & Tim Denee)

And finally, don’t ever tease any other kids you guys


ZunZuneo Linky

Big story from the AP about US intelligence setting up ZunZuneo, a social media system in Cuba, with the intention of using it to encourage political resistance. Kermit Roosevelt, Jr would be proud.

Shakespeare plays, told as three-panel comic strips. (Titus Andronicus though.)

Infographic showing the depth of the ocean where the missing plane might be. Lots of people have been sharing this because infographics showing the depth of the ocean are always awesome.

Keith Ng destroys in this post about staring disaster in the face and assuming it’ll all be fine.

Great short Delia Derbyshire doco

The Atlantic has a good overview of this Heartbleed thing that’s making computer nerds everywhere change all their passwords.

Remember Tamiflu? Ben Goldacre writes about how a big pharma company tricked govts around the world into spending billions to buy its ineffective medicine, and how they didn’t break any laws to do it. Rage-inducing. (via Nate Cull)

Traffic sign tells you to do a silly walk when you cross the road.

The germ theory of culture: this popped up all at once on several social media channels. So I’m sharing it, even though I think it’s a pretty classic case of taking an interesting small idea and chasing it far beyond the point of viability. (The article itself levies this charge about 3/4 of the way through.)

Album covers, from the reverse

Geologists work out the geology of Game of Thrones

Smooth jazz version of Game of Thrones theme, feat. sax guy Dave Koz

And Goat version of the same


No Worries Linky

“No worries” is slowly infecting the USA – patient zero was Crocodile Dundee.

23 retro games you can play in your browser

Star Wars theme played on a huge pipe organ. Kinda wow. (via keith M)

The Chooseatron! I remember this Kickstarter, seems like it’s coming close to reality. Its a receipt printer that prints out choose-your-own-adventure stories as you make your decisions. (via Calum)

Why every film critic has Scarjo’s Black Widow wrong – I’m about 90% on board with this, my 10% reservation being that the critics and moviegoing public are being conditioned to see only the sexay sexay catsuit by the way the films have been marketed and structured (via Amanda Fitzwater)

Twin Peaks continuation fanfic told via Twitter (I have never been interested in a fanfic continuation of Twin Peaks but the use of Twitter makes this interesting to me)

The Game of Thrones RPG has released (free!) Hodor’s Guide to Hodoring, which is exactly the joke you expect, but still great.

My Girl, the video game. (Yes, *that* My Girl.)

Public domain sheet music repository (via BK Drinkwater)

Bake scientifically accurate cake planets (via Bruce)

Daily Mail headlines replaced with user comments (via David R)

This 2012 New Yorker piece about an invented language goes to a few interesting and unexpected places (also via BK)

Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segel do a Les Mis confrontation (via Jenni)
while Hugh Jackman does Wolverine The Musical

Zola has released some free, beautifully formatted ebooks for some literary classics. If you’ve looked into ebooks, you’ll know it’s really easy to find free copies of these, but it can be a real pain to find copies that are actually pleasant to read.

Pearce shared with me the Czech poster for Alien, which I’d never seen before, and when I googled to find out more about it, I found a Czech board game of Alien (translated page) that I’d never heard of. It looks great!
(Also found: the Hungarian poster for Alien, the Polish poster for Alien, and the truly special Polish poster for Aliens)

And finally, there is no high culture. There is no low culture. There is only… cat videos.


Habit Linky

How to change a habit (flowchart image – the bits of research I know square with this)

Graph the audience grades of your favourite TV show (uses IMDB episode-by-episode ratings out of 10)

Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir does some for-real critical thinking about the Hunger Games and Divergent (et al.) – ” They are propaganda for the ethos of individualism, the central ideology of consumer capitalism, which also undergirds both major political parties and almost all American public discourse.” – love to see someone other than Mash thinking this hard about stuff.

Rodger spies some significant, and troubling, gaps in the kinds of books out there for children.

Interview with Antiques Roadshow US expert about how they make the show – surprisingly to me, really interesting!

A brief history of evil finger-tenting.

The Hardy Boys meet True Detective

Lotta discussion of the Atlantic’s feature on whether we’re overprotecting our kids. I haven’t read it yet, but Svend notes: “I wonder how different the world would be if the United States had managed to get universal health care back in the 30s with the New Deal. If you couldn’t sue cities for injuries, would the homogenization of playgrounds have been as severe?” (sorry to quote your email without permission Svend but this is a smart question so I’m doin’ it)

via d3vo, the best nerd rage you will find on Facebook’s Oculus Rift buyout

Four steps to fixing inequality (via James Shaw)

Typecast, a cover of Royals

And finally – sad to hear of the death of Dave Brockie aka Oderus Ungus. (Not that I ever listened to GWAR but.) Here’s the man himself reading Goodnight Moon:


12 Years A Slave (USA/UK, 2013)

I am part of the film’s third audience, neither American White nor American Black, privileged to watch from outside, safely, to look upon the horrors and the injustice and whisper thanks that my people never devoured themselves with such madness, to observe with smug fascination at the broken ways of some other kind of people so different from my own. But the film doesn’t let me take this escape, for the unspeakable encompassing specificity of the American slave trade is an expression of something within, and Ejiofor and Nyong’o and Woodard and the rest don’t let me hide from the truth that I am complicit too, my veins are thickened with power, my people have embraced their strength and murmured that it could not be helped, and I sit white and healthy in what I call my property on a land my people once desired, a system of normalised exploitation replicating soundlessly around me, and just because my ancestors did not take a whip I cannot be at rest, it is in all of us, and it is in me and mine at strength, the sins are mine, and if I tell myself I am safe from this film I am lying, because it rebukes me too, it must rebuke me, it must teach me to hate a part of myself, but not just that, but also to love some part, some small part, that knows how justice might be found at any cost, that might be coaxed to hold on to justice, that might be tricked to fight for justice, for that is in my lineage too. This film is not safe, is not an instructive lesson in good morals for middle-class white people, it is not interested in me, but it comes for me anyway, and it looks at me, and it looks at me, and it looks.

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