Magnetism

You might imagine that a story that included the phrase…

“My partner took me to the hospital that she works in because she wanted all her colleagues to laugh at me.”

… would be mean or cruel, but as you follow Dr Daniel Reardon’s story it just gets funnier and funnier. Our hero takes what seem to be very reasonable decisions. It’s just …unfortunate… that each of those decisions leads him a step closer to that hospital bed.

I’m voting for Rowan Atkinson to play Dr Reardon in the inevitable film adaptation.

[Via James Nicoll]

Nevada nuclear test sites

I’m not going to try to reproduce the images here – fitting them into this layout would require losing much of the detail that makes them so striking – but you should definitely go and see some photographs of Nevada’s nuclear test sites in a New York Review of Books review of a collection of Emmet Gowin’s images:

In 1996 and 1997, the Department of Energy and the US Air Force allowed the photographer Emmet Gowin to take photographs of Nevada’s nuclear landscape from a helicopter. These have now been gathered in a new book, The Nevada Test Site, published by Princeton University Press. Gowin’s original prints aren’t large, about 10” x 10”. But even slightly reduced in size, they give a sense of extraordinary scale, thanks to the raking light and the stark immensity of the Nevada basin. The intimate clarity of Gowin’s lens makes it look as though every detail within its range is aspiring to be noticed. On the desert floor, cause and effect seem to have been reversed. The craters look as though they’re ancient geological formations, the roads added later by curious investigators exploring these strange formations.

Unfortunately the book is too costly for me to indulge myself by buying a copy, but it costs nothing to look at the review.

Don’t Panic

To mark the 42nd anniversary of the radio broadcast of the first instalment of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, BBC Radio 4 Extra are devoting a sizeable chunk of their evening schedule to programmes about the series, interspersed with the first six episodes of the story itself.

I can’t help but notice that there’s nary a mention of this on the front page on the BBC Sounds application or the web site. I was alerted to it by #hitchhikersguidetothegalaxy trending in Twitter.1 Still definitely worth a listen.


  1. In fairness, that might well just be the modern way of achieving the desired end and I’m just too stuck in my ways to have picked up on that. 

Tales from the Loop

The teaser trailer for Amazon’s forthcoming TV adaptation of artist Simon Stålenhag’s vision of a future where the presence of a large underground particle accelerator coincided with the arrival on the scene of an array of strange machines, Tales From the Loop, already had me hooked even before I recognised the presence of Jonathan Pryce and Rebecca Hall in the cast. Throw in Mark Romanek directing and it’s fair to say that I’m interested.

Assuming that early reviews don’t reveal that the striking imagery has been lavished on a supremely dumb story, this looks like one more strand in Amazon’s ongoing campaign to get me to sign up to Prime Video membership so I can give them a chance to claim a chunk of my streaming service budget.

[Via The Verge, via Sentiers #115]

The Neighbors’ Window

The Neighbors’ Window reminds folks who live in big cities and have a clear view of other peoples’ apartments of the importance of equipping your apartment windows with drapes. Not to mention, a reminder of how much is going on in the lives of others that you might not know about when you’re forming opinions on the comings and goings of strangers you only see from a certain vantage point. Oddly comforting, weirdly.

Is it just part of the price of living in a big city that you’re part of the show?1 Was the whole concept of ‘plate glass windows’ in residential premises just a really bad idea from the start, or was the real problem the moment when using drapes went out of fashion?

[Via kottke.org, via Storythings #7 ]


  1. Answer, courtesy of the increasing proportion of the human race who live that way: ‘From the very start we decided it was a price worth paying.’ I understand that argument, but I’m still not buying it. 

Purple Perfection

Why oh why were we denied the opportunity to witness a Prince guitar MasterClass?

[…]

I think the saddest thing about Prince’s death is that we never got to see the MasterClass he was supposed to teach. Looking at the leaked script for the YouTube commercial, we can only imagine what might have been. I don’t think it’s been widely shared, but I have a copy kicking around that I can transcribe.

Int. Paisley Park, PRINCE’s guitaratorium

PRINCE:
This guitar has a thousand strings.

Close-up on neck of guitar. It looks like there are no more than four hundred strings.

PRINCE: (v/o, softly)
Six hundred of them are only visible in the purple spectrum.

[…]

I mean, I’m fully aware that We Are Not Worthy, but still…

[Insert obligatory link to footage of Prince’s 2004 performance at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame tribute to George Harrison, complete with his guitar ascending to the heavens.]

[Via MeFi user carrienation‘s comment on a post about Prince’s Super Bowl half-time show at MetaFilter]

Hermits

So, it turns out that hermit crabs might have been responsible for the disappearance of Amelia Earhart:

Nikumaroro is home to a colony of coconut hermit crabs: the world’s largest land crab, so called because of its ability to crack open a coconut, manoeuvring a claw into one of the nut’s three eyeholes and prying it open. The oldest live to more than a hundred, and grow to be wider than three feet across: too large to fit in a bathtub, exactly the right size for a nightmare. In 2007, researchers decided to test the Earhart theory. The carcass of a small pig was offered to the crabs on the island, to see what they might have done to Earhart’s dead or dying body. Following their remarkable sense of smell, they found the pig and tore it apart, making off with its bones to their burrows under the roots of the trees. Their strength is monumental: their claw grip can produce up to 3300 newtons of force (the bite force of a tiger is 1500 newtons). Darwin called them ‘monstrous’: he meant it as a compliment.

I’m not sure that Amelia Earhart would have had kind thoughts about hermit crabs, but then hopefully she was past caring about such things when the moment came. From most angles they’re simply amazing, and surprisingly sociable creatures. A housing chain consisting of hermit crabs, each of them looking to move up the housing ladder as a vacancy arises, is quite a sight to see.

Inclusive Components

If my job involved web development, I’d be inclined to get hold of a copy of Heydon Pickering’s Inclusive Components: The Book.

Taking the entry on A Content Slider, we start with this…

Carousels (or ‘content sliders’) are like men. They are not literally all bad — some are even helpful and considerate. But I don’t trust anyone unwilling to acknowledge a glaring pattern of awfulness. Also like men, I appreciate that many of you would rather just avoid dealing with carousels, but often don’t have the choice. Hence this article.

Carousels don’t have to be bad, but we have a culture of making them bad. […]

… followed by a reasoned explanation of how to do this stuff better for everyone, including plenty of snippets of CSS illustrating step-by-step how it all works. From my point of view as an interested amateur, it look to be good work, communicated very effectively.

[Via Pinboard: philgyford]

Forking good

In the end, The Good Place ended on a very satisfying final note. (Lovely moment towards the end when now-human Michael ended up getting guitar lessons from his real-life wife Mary Steenburgen. Even better moment when wannabe architect Tahani Al-Jamil earned praise for her construction skills from Nick Offerman.)

They stuck the landing. Applause (between the tears as we said goodbye to everyone one last time) is due to all involved.