Of Twits and Turns

Twitter is entering its end phase. Probably. It might make it through the early messy stages of the Elon Musk era and find some new stability, anything is possible, but it doesn’t seem likely. Life-integrated services like Twitter exist most importantly in the perceptions of users, as an idea we hold on to; that idea has curdled. I think it’s slowly making the journey to the elephant’s graveyard, like G Plus and Livejournal and MySpace and Bebo did before it. And it makes me sad.

Twitter is special. Yes, everyone regularly calls it a hellsite, and not in an affectionate way; it has damaged important things. But it also offers some wonders that can’t really be replicated anywhere else. I think they’ll be just gone. And yes, that’s okay, because nothing should last forever, but it makes me sad.

I joined twitter in March 2009 (and promptly blogged about it), when it was a couple years old and just leaning into its biggest growth curve. It took a while to become an essential part of my daily media diet: December 2009 it was “an ongoing conversation which I dip into from time to time” and a year later “I don’t tweet much, and when i do it’s mostly just to say I’ve blogged“. But I kept coming back, cultivating my feed, and increasing my engagement with it, until now when Twitter has become a fundamental tool I use to see the world.

The core of twitter is the feed, an endless scroll of snackable comments. It’s a bit like one of those cutaway drawings of a huge building or an enormous ship; as I scroll I see glimpses into dozens of ongoing conversations, lots of different moments happening all at once. I always love those cutaway drawings!

(An aside: throughout twitter’s history the feed has been a battleground. Twitter has tried various ways to make the feed serve their engagement metrics, which ends up with the service sticking random provocative stuff in front of you, showing stuff wildly out of order based on its guesses about what will be most exciting, and hiding content from people you indicated you want to follow because the algorithm reckons it’s boring. Only recently did Twitter finally concede and allow a simple chronological feed, which is by far my preference. But most people don’t jump through the hoop of figuring out the chronological feed; Twitter’s algorithm retains huge power over what gets seen and what doesn’t.

A frustrating example: Twitter has always downgraded or buried outbound links. It doesn’t want users leaving the site, so the algorithm hides them. It’s honestly an embarrassing and cowardly strategy, one shared by Facebook, which does exactly the same thing. The internet is made of links!)

The fundamental conflict in Twitter exists between the feed, friends and interesting accounts I have curated into an ongoing scroll of things I care about, and the swarming fools and villains who want to disrupt it and devour my attention. Call them locusts. They have been out of control since 2016. The dismal chaos of that year didn’t just depress everyone, it also marked a huge and continuing surge in locust behaviour, from Trump fans, Russian-operated false accounts, and ordinary everyday dickheads.

After 2016, it seemed like Twitter was always agitated. There was a lot of heat everywhere in the system, and things boiled over quickly. This continues to this day, as anti-democratic forces and those aforementioned dickheads eagerly increase friction and stoke rage wherever they can, using a playbook first honed in the horrible Gamergate mess, such as overloading replies and weaponising context collapse. This also makes non-locust users less tolerable, as tempers run hot, the attention economy contracts, and people chase engagement with self-aggrandizing performative rage that gives the algorithm exactly what it wants.

Even as Twitter became a constant warzone, with the feed eternally besieged by the locusts, and clout-chasers amassing large followings for truly annoying behaviour, I stayed. Twitter offered things I loved, even then. Its enormous reach and its pulsing concern with the moment remained undimmed. Its borderless interconnectivity brings the network effect to brilliant life, as ideas surge at incredible speeds across the frictionless flat plain of users. It is the channel of choice for information: journalists and scientists and pundits all make their home there. It was, and probably still is, the best way to take a sounding on what matters out there in the world. When there is a new development in climate science or politics, the climate people in my feed are busy with thoughts and responses; when domestic politics takes a surprising turn, my local political people are all over it; when major news unfolds anywhere, everyone takes note, and good resources quickly filter through the feed.

Twitter’s enormous scale also allowed rich subcultures and subcommunities to thrive, and the flat plain of connectivity allows that richness to surface into my feed regularly in countless unpredictable ways. Feminist Twitter, Black Twitter, Irish Twitter, Indigenous Twitter, Native American Twitter, Trans Twitter, African Twitter, and of course Māori Twitter and Pasifika Twitter are all thick networks full of human interaction, and I quickly understood when encountering them that the best thing to do was shut the hell up and pay attention. To say that my decade-plus on the bird site has been life-changing is to undersell it; I have been profoundly transformed by the privilege of witnessing up-close the conversations, concerns, arguments, jokes, celebrations and fury of communities of which I am not part. I’ve learned a huge amount, and I can honestly say I don’t know how else I could have learned so much.

Still, it’s undeniable that the public square of Twitter has become generally unpleasant. As a general trend for some time, users have been moving into “dark forest” spaces, away from public view, where “depressurized conversation is possible because of their non-indexed, non-optimized, and non-gamified environments“. Discords and Slacks are where many people spend their online energy these days, in an echo of the old internet forum days. (And some of the old big forums are still standing, hey big purple!) The current Musk crisis has led to crowds trying out Mastodon, which is similar to Twitter but instead of being an endless flat plain, it’s more like an enormous collection of community valleys separated by hills. The flow between and across them is slowed. This is intentional! For one thing, that open plain of Twitter suited the locusts beautifully, and Mastodon doesn’t want them. It is not a one-to-one replacement for Twitter, but a reimagined experience, intended as a more considerate, thoughtful, friendly, and local space. I am enjoying the energy among Kiwi Twitter migrants, and it seems there’s enough momentum for Mastodon to become an established community. Find me at @morgue@mastodon.nz

(I recall that I originally joined Mastodon in 2017, on an instance that is long gone, and whose domain name now redirects to, er, adult content. It didn’t have that critical mass of users then. It sure seems to now!)

In any case, I’m not walking out on Twitter yet. I have connections there that don’t exist in any other medium, and probably can’t. I value the good aspects of this enormous, vexing, variable service. I’ll be there as it copes with these new challenges, and I do expect it’s a death watch. Already it feels different; locusts everywhere, and the main topic of conversation how it’s all coming to an end.

I hope Musk loses interest soon, and I hope Twitter survives. If it doesn’t, I’ll miss it. At the very least I’ll post about it on Facebook.

(Also, there was that time pre-fame Brett Goldstein said to me, “hope you’re well”, so. Twitter was good sometimes.)

20 years at large

morgue & Leon carefully navigate the world

Twenty years ago today, I hopped on a plane with my best bud Leon and we flew from Wellington to London. It was exciting. I’d never been overseas before.

I came back several years later, after exploring Europe and the Middle East and North America, and living long enough in Edinburgh that I still think of it as my other home. 

I wanted to feel the size of the world. The more I travelled, the bigger it all felt, because every place I reached also revealed countless more places in between. But it also ended up feeling not quite so big as all that, because it turns out the world is made of people, and now I have friends scattered all over the globe, and the shape of my life was powerfully changed by these friendships.

The other important thing I learned is that the right place for me to be in that world is here, home again in Aotearoa New Zealand, on the banks of Te Awa Kairangi.

I hope to go see other places again, and visit all my friends out there. I am so glad I met all of you. You make the world feel just the right size.

For f**k’s sake please vote in the local elections

(Asterisks included above for the sake of content filters on work computers. Is that still a thing? It used to be a thing.)

The sun is out, the buds are on the trees, and every main road is suddenly lined with signs showing unfamiliar faces saying VOTE FOR ME! You know what that means: it’s local election time!

Soon an envelope will arrive and you will put it on the stack of things you will definitely get to, and then SMASH CUT to like two months later and you find the envelope again and you never even opened it, and you have a little chuckle at yourself because, hey! It’s only local government, right?

Well I have something to say: NOT THIS YEAR, BUDDY-O! Heck no! This year you’re gonna open that envelope and vote! Because this year your local government elections are the front line of a crucial fight!

Your local elections vote has never had as much riding on it!

You will of course have noticed that things have gone a bit… weird in the last few years. Like, David Bowie died in January 2016 and it all kind of went wrong from there? Of course things were quietly going wrong a long time before that, but in 2016 the wrongness got hold of a vuvuzela and now it’s Blaring Loud Wrongness, Keeping You Up At Night.

And all that wrongness is going to smash right into your local government. Unless you stop it.

Here are two urgent, crucial problems that show why voting matters extra bigly this time.

Problem 1: The allies of fascism are infiltrating government

That description reads like hyperbole, the kind of overheated claims you’d find in the weird corners of Indymedia in 2001. It is honestly a bit hard to accept that this is where we are now.

But we are. If you haven’t already, take the time to review the Stuff Circuit investigation by Paula Penfold & colleagues, Fire and Fury: Disinformation in New Zealand. The hourlong documentary is an intense and sobering watch.

Image from Fire & Fury (Stuff)

A very active set of agitators are busy every day spreading disinformation, fomenting hatred, putting violence on the table. They are chewing on the table legs of our society.

Standing for local election was an idea that circulated widely through these networks, with the explicit aim of making the country ungovernable. As a result, many candidates aligned with conspiratorial views, or worse, have entered local election races. Most of these have kept their affiliations secret.

If elected, they will haul water for this country’s rising ring of fascist agitators. They will disrupt government and provide a platform for fascist recruitment and organising.

We have to vote to keep them out.

(Again, I can hardly believe that I am typing this as a fair description of what is taking place in this country, but that’s where we are. The long 2016 is a deeply weird time to be alive.)

Problem 2: Climate change is local now

Climate change has been a challenge for a long time (I’ve been writing about it on this blog since it was an email newsletter, way back when email newsletters were a thing, oh hey they are a thing again) but we are in a new phase now. Unprecedented weather disasters are finally dragging top-level political actors to the table – heck, even the USA has successfully passed a major climate action bill!

The new urgency is this: dealing with climate change at street level. All those slips around the Hutt and Wellington are a portent of things to come, unexpected trouble all over. We need to build resilience! Our councils need people who are prepared to be prepared.

Image from this Stuff article, Why are there so many slips in Wellington?

But that’s just a side issue compared to the real challenge ahead: massive community transformation!

We need to redesign our towns and cities into new forms. For example, we need a completely new approach to transport. Public transport and active transport have to become the easiest and best ways to get around our communities!

Local and regional government will be forced to make some very big calls, soon. (In fact they are already doing this!) Over the next five years, decisions made by your local body will decide the future shape of your community.

These will be some of the most consequential and far-reaching decisions ever made by local government! Your council needs people who are prepared to be brave.

We have to vote for them.

Heck yeah I’m gonna do the thing, except how??

You’re gonna do the thing! You’re going to vote! So… what now?

  • START A TEAM-UP! You probably have a few trusted friends who live in the same electoral area as you? Ask if they want to team up on figuring out who to vote for. Many hands make light the work, and more fun the work too. Small group action: this is the way.
  • IDENTIFY THE ROCKING GOOD CANDIDATES! You can’t downvote the infiltrators, so you have to help the super-sweet candidates to out-compete them! This election guide covering all candidates is essential: plug in your address and it tells you who is standing for what in your area.
  • TELL YOUR NETWORKS! Personal recommendations are THE most powerful thing in local body elections. People will generally pay attention to what they hear from friends and neighbours, much more than from any other source. So don’t do the hard work of figuring out who to vote for, only to keep it all to yourself! Instead, get the word out!


Karen ‘Kaz’ Yung – photo from the election guide website

Here’s who I am backing in the Hutt City Council elections: Karen Yung, a.k.a. Kaz.

Kaz is standing for council in the city-wide field, not tied to any specific ward. So she’s going to be on the ballot paper for everyone here, all across Hutt City.

I’m going to give her a tick because I am impressed by her commitment to ground-level community engagement, and because I like her focus on addressing the challenges of climate change.

I voted for her last elections too. She almost got into council then and I am confident her reputation has only increased since. I have followed her on Facebook over the last few years, while she has continued to be very active in the community and has served on the Petone Community Board. She’s just a really good candidate and will be an exciting new voice on council.

Check out Kaz’s entry in the election guide mentioned above.

And you can see what she’s up to and where to meet her on her Facebook campaign page.

If you’re in the Hutt, make sure you consider Karen Yung at voting time!

The Kiwi Sense of Humour

The Kiwi sense of humour is like, you move to NZ and get a job and the boss sends you to the store to buy some striped paint, and you get there and the shop person nods and says “here you go” and the paint doesn’t say striped on it but you guess it must be right,

so you take it back and the boss says “now paint that house” and you do and it doesn’t come out striped so you ask the boss about it and he says “ah the stripes come out after a bit of sun”, then like a month of sun later you’re walking past the house and there are no stripes,

and you mention it to the boss and they say “I can’t believe someone painted over those beautiful stripes” and you go back and you knock on the door of the house and you ask the owner if she painted over the striped paint,

and she gives you a nod and says “yeah, when the stripes came out in the sun they looked different to how i imagined, tell your boss it wasn’t their fault” so you go back and tell the boss and they just raise their eyebrows,

and then you fall in love with a Kiwi and move back to London and have a kid and get married and get older and then one night you pause netflix and you tell them this story and you say “but there’s no such thing as striped paint, is there?”,

and they laugh and say “oh honey” and you think, at last, I’m not crazy, finally the truth, and then they say “oh honey, you painted the stripes vertical instead of horizontal and everyone was too polite to tell you”

That’s what the Kiwi sense of humour is like.

(Originally written on twitter; i’ve kept the tweet breaks in there because otherwise it would be an impenetrable wall of text.)

A few things I learned from getting COVID-tested.

Overnight Friday to Saturday my sleep was troubled by sore throat and post-nasal drip. Oh no! I only just got over a bad cold a few weeks ago! Again?? Again.

I admit I hesitated before calling it in. (Am I really sick?) Because once you engage in it, everything else has to stop. Our family’s plans for the weekend were instantly stalled. Just ordinary life stuff, but it has momentum, and you feel it as you pull the cord.

So that’s the first thing I want to highlight. That friction where we delay and sigh about it and try and rationalise to ourselves. We all do it! It’s how our brains work! And as a behaviour guy, masters degree in social psychology, I watched myself doing the same stuff.

Here’s the workaround. Two of them, in fact. First, make a plan, now. The plan isn’t complicated: if I get sick, I’ll call the healthline. Visualise it, even! I’ll look up the phone number, I’ll sit on my bed, I’ll get a pen and paper… The more details the better. That gives your brain a script to follow. Our brains love scripts, especially in the face of stressful situations. And being faced with taking an action that will upend the momentum of ordinary life? That is stressful! (Let alone the possibility you might have COVID!)

Second, make the plan with the people in your life. The people who will be affected when you pull that cord. Unless they are dicks, they will be all for taking action! Say it to each other – if one of us gets sick, we do the thing, even though it will be a nuisance.

So that’s the workaround for the hesitation, and the bad feeling and unease around slamming on the brakes over a wee sniffle (as your brain will rationalise it for you). Plan now, it helps then.

I called Healthline instead of the local Dr because it was weekend. They were great, very helpful and clear. MAD respect for all the people working those phones, I feel like they are nailing it, obviously working off a good combo of clear scripts and freedom to ask questions. They gave me the contact details for the local testing station, so i called them up and made an appointment. Smooth! They asked what kind of car I’d be driving up in, and my mind completely blanked, all i could say was “blue”. I had to go and check to remind myself!

While waiting for the test, i began self-isolating, as advised by healthline. there are some logistics involved, obviously! We can cancelled all the stuff we were lined up to do on the weekend, and my lovely partner began to figure out the details.

(Worth mentioning that i was sick, my brain was fuzzy, and the aforementioned stressful context hurts thinking – so having someone else do this kind of problem-solving is incredibly handy.)

Hopped in the car, went to get the test. it was quick and easy and the staff were so kind and clear. It didn’t hurt at all, but it did hit my gag reflex, definitely a bit unpleasant but over very quickly. Definitely not bad enough to be afraid of having one!

Then back home with some extra info about self-isolation. And so the next two days were spent with me sectioned off from my family! Daughter was horrified that she couldn’t hug me but pleased to have her mum doing a sleepover in her room.

Because we only have one bathroom, complete isolation was impossible. Solution was a pack of antibacterial wipes + masking. I wore a mask most of the time, to stop breathing particles on to surfaces, and when i went to the toilet I’d take a wipe to sanitise handles etc.

This is another piece of advice: get a pack of wipes NOW so you don’t need to think about it if and when you end up in household isolation.

The other tricky thing, oddly enough, is washing dishes. You can be delivered your meals by your loving family/flat mates/whoever, but then those plates and cutlery need attention after. We left the dishwasher open for me to load my dishes in directly, and also just let some dishes pile up in the corner of the bedroom in expectation of me getting the all-clear today.

…and i did! Text came through 46 hours after the test, and now i am free to breathe on whatever i like and hug my daughter again. Lovely.

So to recap my advice: mentally rehearse what you’ll do if you get symptoms. Do it with your family/flat mates/whoever, to create a bit of confidence and shared accountability. Get some disinfectant wipes now and put them aside.

We all need to be diligent about testing! There are still common colds and so on circulating, so there’s a good chance someone in your household will end up needing to do this, especially as level 2 is sticking around. A bit of mental prep now will make it much easier to give in to the process if and when that day comes.

I’m grateful to be part of the big NZ team. Be excellent to each other!

Level Two Linky

Lockdown is over but I thought I’d do one last Friday Linky. It’s been fun bringing it back! I hope your Fridays have been suitably enriched, including this one, thanks to this collection of treats:

1. Naomi Klein on big tech companies using shock doctrine tactics, using the pandemic as an excuse to push through huge changes https://www.theguardian.com/news/2020/may/13/naomi-klein-how-big-tech-plans-to-profit-from-coronavirus-pandemic

2. My wonderful friend Helen won an award for her new poetry collection at the NZ Book Awards, and I am so stoked. Here is an absolutely breathtaking poem from that collection, Notes on the Unsilent Woman http://turbinekapohau.org.nz/archive-issues/2018-contents/poetry-helen-rickerby/

3. This person has collected in one place every Peel Session recording he could find. They are listed in alphabetical order by band name. So many! Just phenomenal: https://davestrickson.blogspot.com/2020/05/john-peel-sessions.html

4. Duncan Greive at the Spinoff does a very insightful deep dive into one of the biggest stories of the pandemic in NZ: the comms https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/11-05-2020/a-masterclass-in-mass-communication-and-control/

5. Crowded House lockdown performance: Something So Strong https://youtu.be/mwljB3S3LvI

6. These TV industry people paid a farm to zoom with a sheep, then pitched it a TV show https://twitter.com/jennyjaffe/status/1258805382446645248?s=21

7. Paul Scheer talks with Gillian Jacobs about Power Pack and Ms. Marvel and this is a Venn diagram I am into https://youtu.be/hK-4llPrBnY

8. Variety finally gets the true story of the much-rumoured Famous Person D&D Group. (It is exactly like every other D&D group, except more miniature figurines.) https://variety.com/2020/biz/features/joe-manganiello-dungeons-and-dragons-campaign-1234585006/

9. Speaking of: how about Sue Perkins from Bake-Off playing D&D with Ed Gamble, Sara Pascoe and Nish Kumar? https://www.twitch.tv/videos/614992541

10. Goofy and pleasant interview with the men who have portrayed 80s horror icon Jason Voorhees. https://www.theringer.com/movies/2020/5/7/21249688/friday-the-13th-jason-voorhees-actors-stunt-stories

11. Steve Albinis pitch letter about how he wanted to work with Nirvana is a great read. https://faroutmagazine.co.uk/steve-albini-letter-to-nirvana/amp/

12. Legendary Canadian sketch show Kids in the Hall is free to watch in NZ via TVNZ online! Never seen it available in NZ before. Can’t work out how to link to it directly, so here’s the tweet from Sam Brooks that tipped me off: https://twitter.com/sbrookbrooks/status/1260796234459037701?s=21

13. The (free!) Essential Services zine contains new writing from some great people cut loose during the great media purges of the pandemic era. https://essentialserviceszine.com

14. The NYT does an oral history of Mad Max Fury Road to mark its 5th anniversary: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/12/movies/mad-max-fury-road-oral-history.html

15. The Atlantic continues its excellent pandemic coverage with a discussion of how calls to reopen the US embody a slaveholder mentality, cutting to the heart of what freedom means: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/05/what-freedom-means-trump/611083/

16. Little Yellow Digger meets Bigger Digger https://twitter.com/dan_mckenney/status/1260675430614532103?s=21

17. And finally… Robert Pattinson’s GQ profile went viral for a Kaufmanesque pasta gag. It’s all very weird. Pattinson is a delight, never stop fucking with us Robert. https://www.gq.com/story/robert-pattinson-on-batman-tenet-isolation-june-cover

That’s it for the linky for now and maybe forever! Stay safe everyone!

Juggle Linky

With lockdown up for review on Monday, might this be the final Friday linky? Possibly! But you know what happened after the last Final Friday: Jason went to space. So we can’t be confident about anything.

1. The Atlantic covers the Insane Clown Posse’s pandemic leadership (v. good) and looks across the whole juggalo phenom, including the way dozens of journos embedded themselves at The Gathering… https://www.theatlantic.com/culture/archive/2020/04/insane-clown-posse-models-pandemic-era-leadership/610651/

2. This discussion of how coronavirus is affecting our imaginative limits, by SF legend Kim Stanley Robinson, is just as good as everyone else who shared it said it was. Essential reading. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/annals-of-inquiry/the-coronavirus-and-our-future

3. Highly-regarded essay series on the myth of the “warrior race”, with a specific focus on Spartans in the real world and Dune’s Fremen in fiction. I’m linking a blog post that summarises, because it is looong. https://zompist.wordpress.com/2020/05/03/the-fremen-mirage/

4. Lovely story about a kid who loved writing letters, and the US postal service. https://twitter.com/hughweber/status/1256731692611571712?s=21

5. The Guggenheim has hundreds of exhibition catalogs available for free download, going back to 1936! https://www.timeout.com/newyork/news/you-can-now-download-over-200-art-books-from-the-guggenheim-for-free-042920

6. Globetrotting investigator of oddities David Farrier (Tickled, Dark Tourist) has an email newsletter! It is great! Sign up! https://webworm.substack.com/about

7. Another collection of people recreating famous artwork in their homes. These are genius and i hope humanity never stops doing this now we have started. https://www.boredpanda.com/art-painting-recreations-quearteencasa/

8. My amazing friend Helen reads a very relevant poem from her Ockham-nominated collection: https://youtu.be/Sii5dokSagE

9. Some lovely behind-the-scenes from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, with Matthew Broderick interviewing his cast mates. https://youtu.be/tNzRSVmz0To

10. Tim & Guy lived in a NYC sewer for a week and watched the Michael Bay Ninja Turtles film three times a day and somehow this didn’t become a YouTube Red TV show but you can watch it: https://youtu.be/ebs0C1Wk0gE

11. In case you missed it – Daniel Radcliffe leads off a series of celebs reading Harry Potter book 1 to you, chapter by chapter: https://nerdist.com/article/daniel-radcliffe-reads-harry-potter-recording/

12. The books of Anno Mitsumasa were mainstays of my childhood. Japan House in London has just launched a virtual exhibition of his works. https://www.japanhouselondon.uk/

13. And finally, via Katherine H (who also provided the Free Masks image from a few weeks back!) – the Twin Peaks theme delivered by cats https://youtu.be/8MnOtMP41k4

Biscuits Linky

The first Friday linky of level 3! Let’s go…

1. This NYT essay by a restaurant owner who closes her restaurant in lockdown is gripping. Beautifully written and intensely personal. Worth creating a free NYT account to read. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/23/magazine/closing-prune-restaurant-covid.html

2. Mad Chapman’s listicles of NZ food items are hilarious and controversial classics of the genre, and this one is no different. https://thespinoff.co.nz/food/26-04-2020/all-142-biscuit-flavours-in-new-zealand-ranked-from-worst-to-best/

3. Brett Goldstein (the lovely Films to be Buried With podcast) is making a lockdown webseries like Love Island, only the love interest is a pot plant? Brilliant. https://youtu.be/nP793bQSHPY

4. More lockdown fun with this beautifully-produced interactive murder mystery on twitter: https://twitter.com/misterabk/status/1253625098256465920?s=21

5. Film costume nerds judge historical films by the standard of one that really got it right. They speak, of course, of Bill & Ted https://slate.com/culture/2020/04/regency-movie-costumes-bill-and-ted-test.html

6. This supercalifragilistic parody will bring you joy https://youtu.be/ykieEE1j9eA

7. Everyone knows the quickest way to sort problems with your broadband is to call out the company in public, on twitter. But this call goes weird places. https://twitter.com/adrianrmg/status/1254742269686624257?s=21

8. “I personally don’t believe solutions are the answer to our problems” https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/i-personally-dont-believe-solutions-are-the-answer-to-our-problems – probably the best thing McSweeneys has ever published.

9. The White Man Behind A Desk has graduated to a well-produced RNZ series about New Zealand’s history and present. A local civics education, plus funny! https://youtu.be/m1VrqxohA-A

10. Fraggle Rock is back – as a series of shorts *filmed in the homes of the performers during lockdown*. Wow. https://news.avclub.com/apple-revives-fraggle-rock-for-a-series-of-short-weekly-1842982769

11. Generate your own neural-network-generated memes! Mysteriously addictive. https://imgflip.com/ai-meme

12. Shut Up and Sit Down reveal some amazing board games you can print on your own printer at home and play by yourself. Genuinely inspirational! These look really fun! https://youtu.be/sNghPlwbYe8

13. And finally, watch this guy rap Dr Seuss’ tongue-twister Fox in Socks to the beats of Dr Dre: https://youtu.be/hqIbEHNqbPs

Trash Linky

1. The most legendary episode of oddball late-nighter The Chris Gethard Show is free to view on YouTube and it is a WILD ride. Feat. Paul Scheer and Jason Mantzoukas, who are tasked with guessing what is in a dumpster. If you know, don’t spoil it! https://youtu.be/Nwi_kE0gy94

2. Museum curators dug through their cupboards for the creepiest things they could find. The Grauniad has an overview, or check #CreepiestObject on Twitter https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2020/apr/20/museums-hold-twitter-showdown-to-find-worlds-creepiest-object

3. Is the lockdown doing too much damage to the economy? It’s unpleasant to put a price on human life, but you have to answer this somehow. This fascinating piece talks about using acceptable risk instead. (Via Trond) http://timharford.com/2020/04/how-do-we-value-a-statistical-life/

4. A close reading of a British children’s book to explore all the WWII-era material culture in the illustrations. Lovely. (Via @knhannah) https://twitter.com/GabeMoshenska/status/1252241207377494018?s=20

5. The Michael Jordan documentary series on Netflix is amazing (I am just the right age for it too) but also FIBA, sensing a moment, has dropped an hourlong doc on the history of the Basketball World Cup https://youtu.be/I0hJ4QC5Fpc

6. There’s a lot of lockdown podcasts out there, but this one is special: Ken Jeong and Joel McHale talking Community, coronavirus, & moar! (Also on youtube!) https://linktr.ee/kenjeong

7. And if you’ve been binging Community, don’t forget the mini-episodes! The three eps that take place inside 90-second study breaks are absolutely masterful and very funny. Find ‘em all here: https://community-sitcom.fandom.com/wiki/Community_webisodes

8. Neil, Liam and Elroy Finn are playing together in lockdown. Here’s Better Be Home Soon. Sweet on the ear. https://youtu.be/0FS9vBf6i5g

9. If you miss gone-too-soon cruelly-taken more-than-just-a-sports-website Deadspin, you should definitely check out https://unnamedtemporarysportsblog.com featuring some very familiar writers. It’s funny.

10. Dylan Horrocks has been interviewing NZ cartoonists by video call, starting with Toby Morris, whose coronavirus guidance cartoons have gone global: https://youtu.be/vTlFHdtsK40 (Sarah Laing is next, so watch that too)

11. Learn wildly more than you ever needed to know about the origins of 420. https://www.theringer.com/2017/4/20/16039178/battle-over-420-san-rafael-waldos-bebes-4b755faa94a1

12. And finally, if you, like me, found Leah McFall’s columns were always a delicious treat, then you, like me, will be delighted to learn about her new saga imagining Harry & Meghan on lockdown in, er, Karori. https://karoriconfidential.com