April 24th, 2014
NextWave Agents of HA.T.E. Comic Dub Part 1 has a few minor technical issues, but for a fannish effort it does a pretty impressive job of communicating the joy of Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen's batty, brilliant 12-issue series:
Roll on the double page spread of Elvis M.O.D.O.K.s
[Via Wis[s]e Words]
April 21st, 2014
The Easter Rocket War of Vrontados:
Every Easter, in the Greek village of Vrontados, members of rival churches sitting across a small valley stage a "rocket war" by firing thousands of homemade rockets towards each other while services are held. The objective for each side is to strike the bell of the opposing church. The festival, called Rouketopolemos, has been celebrated by the churches of Agios Markos and Panagia Erithiani for at least 125 years, its exact origins a mystery. Gathered here are images of this rocket war from the past few years.
My favourite is the least spectacular of the images, the last one. The one that shows how the village looks the morning after. Let's just say that I hope the village's street cleaners are on triple time over the next few days.
April 21st, 2014
Back in 2012 I posted about an Indiegogo project I'd backed to film an adaptation of a Ken MacLeod short story. I'd forgotten all about it, until earlier this evening when I found myself watching Scattered and realised that there was a reason this story seemed so familiar.
MacLeod's short story works rather nicely as a short film, I think. It'd be good to see someone try The Execution Channel or Descent one day. Not as shorts, obviously. But they'd be easier to film cheaply than the MacLeod adaptation I'd really like to see, of the Fall Revolution series.
[Via Pop Loser]
April 20th, 2014
We can be free, we can learn how to fly!
A seagull, following the ferry boat from Thassos to Keramoti, demonstrates the elegance of natural flying.
April 20th, 2014
This description of how Duplo, Flipboard's new page layout engine, works is fascinating. It's ludicrous to think of just how much work your computer can get done in a few fractions of a second just in order to optimise the display of a bunch of text and images for maximum readability:
Duplo is a new layout engine that starts with the ideas in [Flipboard's old layout engine] Pages but uses a modular block and grid system to quickly fit content into thousands of page layouts in all sizes.
Duplo starts in a similar way as Pages: A designer creates a set of layouts. From this set, Pages selects the layout that best fits the desired content.
However, while Pages looks at about 20 candidate layouts, Duplo looks at anywhere between 2000 to 6000 candidates, searching for the best layout to fit the content. [...]
Me, I tried Flipboard a while ago but on balance I tend to prefer the Instapaper approach. But it's good that clever people are putting so much work into trying to find better ways to make content readable in so many form factors.
[Via Daring Fireball]
April 19th, 2014
Spreadsheets, the app:
Spreadsheets \'spred-,-shets\ , verb,:=
- Using technology to track sexual performance?
- The act of sexual intercourse?
"Spreadsheets and golf are the two things you can enjoy even if you're not good at them." – Kevin Costner (revised)
"Love is the answer, but while you are waiting for the answer Spreadsheets raises some pretty good questions" – Woody Allen (revised)
What is Spreadsheets?
Spreadsheets is a mobile app that monitors your performance in bed to provide statistical and historical feedback. Find out how many thrusts per minute you’re averaging, how long you go for, and exactly how loud it gets. Keep a record of your encounters, date, time, and performance.
How does it work?
Spreadsheets monitors data from user’s movement and audio levels through the accelerometer and microphone to provide statistical and visual analysis of their performance in bed.
Spreadsheets does not record or playback audio or video. That would be creepy. […]
Right. That's where you draw the 'creepy' line.
[Via Extenuating Circumstances]
April 16th, 2014
Talking to The Verge in the wake of the publication of her book It's Complicated, danah boyd talks a lot of sense about how people interact online:
People seem very afraid of their kids creating different identities on different social networks. Why are teens doing this, and should their parents be concerned?
No, in fact, this is one of the weird oddities about Facebook. Let's go back to Usenet. People had multiple nicks, they had a field day with this. They would use these multiple "identities" to put forward different facets of who they were. It wasn't to say that they were trying to be separate individuals. Who you are sitting with me today in this professional role with a shared understanding of social media is different than how you talk to your mom. She may not understand the same things you and I are talking about. At the same time, if you were talking about your past, I'd have none of it and your mother would have a lot of it. This is this moment where you think about how you present yourself differently in these different contexts, not because you're hiding, but because you're putting forward what's relevant there.
The idea of real names being the thing that leads you – that's not actually what leads us in the physical space. We lead with our bodies. We adjust how we present our bodies by situation. We dress differently, we sit differently, we emote differently. [...]
Call me nostalgic, but I'm always pleased to see references to Usenet. We might not have called it 'social media', but there's a lot to be learned from the experience of all those people back before the web was even a thing, having thousands of shared social spaces to navigate. Of course Usenet also blessed us with Canter and Siegel, but that was part of the learning curve too.
April 15th, 2014
TL;DR Wikipedia Is both concise and accurate:
April 11th, 2014
Tasha Robinson makes a strong argument that Joe Kelly and J.M. Ken Niimura's 2008 graphic novel I Kill Giants would work well as an animated film:
[...] I Kill Giants starts in a familiar environment, in this case a fifth-grade classroom on Career Day, where a parade of parents is explaining their jobs to the students. But one kid is reading a book instead of paying attention. When challenged, she says she doesn't need to think about her future career, because she already has one: "I find giants. I hunt giants. I kill giants."
This is Barbara Thorson, a defiant, self-possessed kid with a huge but melancholy personal agenda, and one of the best, most unheralded comics characters of the 2000s. Barbara comes across as weird and immature in some ways, like in her habit of wearing cutesy animal ears to school, and the way her inability to rein in her resentment makes her problems into everyone else's problems. She's a problem kid, but she still comes across as a bit of a wish-fulfillment character in her sureness and her oddball version of nobility. In an era defined by insecure, self-questioning, or clumsy teen-girl heroes, Barbara stands out for her utter fearlessness in the face of generic threats. The problems that define so many school stories – mean teachers, clueless administrators, bullies, trivial concerns like grades or popularity – don't mean anything to Barbara. She's a self-proclaimed giant-slayer. Just incidentally, she's a self-proclaimed giant-slayer in a world where there don't appear to be any giants.
I Kill Giants was one of the last series I finished before I took a break from comics a few years ago and I hadn't thought about it in quite a while, but I've got to say that a good animated version of I Kill Giants would be quite something. Or, failing that, I guess I'll just have to read it again.
April 9th, 2014
Charlie Stross has yet another bad idea:
Now, it occurs to me that the Republican Party over in the USA have a bit of a problem coming up in 2016, namely who to run against Barack Obama's successor. Whoever they are. (Hilary is looking a little old and Al's cardboard has mildew.) But the RNC isn't in good shape. They don't have anybody out front with the charisma of the Gipper (dead or alive), or the good ole' boy appeal of George W. Bush: just a bunch of old white guys in dark suits who're obsessed with the size of their wallets and the contents of every woman's uterus, or vice versa. Guys who make Karl Rove look like Johnny Depp.
And so it occurred to me (after my fifth pint of IPA) to spin my speculative political satire around the fact that there is only one man on the global political scene today who has what it takes to be a plausible Republican candidate for President Of The United States at the next presidential election. […]
The name he's come up with isn't remotely feasible as an actual candidate for president, but then that's not exactly the point, is it?
April 8th, 2014
Celebrities that Look Like Matresses.
Some of these are just mean…
Hilarious, still, but mean.
April 7th, 2014
What if the Moon was a Disco Ball?
That looks so downright bizarre that we just have to make it happen some day. Think of the advertising potential.
April 6th, 2014
A GIRL NAMED ELASTIKA is a lovely, exuberant little animation:
Be sure to stay until the very end to meet the real heroine of the piece.
April 6th, 2014
Perusing a recent Guardian article listing 10 of the best tracks by Björk, I came across a mention in comments of her performing a David Arnold arrangement of You Only Live Twice. I'd never heard this before (for some reason it didn't show up on David Arnold's Shaken and Stirred album of Bond theme cover versions) and it's fantastic:
That said, I'm not sure that this would make it into my personal Top 10 Björk tracks; not a slight on this performance, more a consequence of Björk having spent twenty-odd years making distinctive and frequently surprising music so that there's a lot of competition for the honour.
April 4th, 2014
義足のMoses is pretty much the cutest thing I've seen all week:
April 3rd, 2014
Just some kitties…
Follow the link for several more pictures of a pack of happy, if slightly peckish, tigers frolicking in the snow in China.
[Via More Words, Deeper Hole]
April 2nd, 2014
It's entirely possible that Luc Besson's Lucy, a story of an unwilling drug mule who inadvertently gets dosed with the contents of her package and finds herself gaining what amount to superpowers – will be completely terrible. Goodness knows, the man is a phenomenally uneven director. But then consider how much stylish, pulpy fun his best work has given the world…
.. and contemplate this trailer, and the cast involved …
… and tell me that doesn't look like a pretty fun way to spend a couple of hours of your time.
I know, Besson's best work is mostly back in the 1990s (though I really enjoyed The Extraordinary Adventures… when I finally caught up with it last year) and Morgan Freeman's presence in a film isn't exactly an infallible sign of a quality product, but still. This may not be good, but it sure looks like good fun.
[Via The Dissolve (again!)]
April 2nd, 2014
Good news from Hollywood: Amy Adams In Talks To Star In Alien Movie 'Story Of Your Life'…
[...] Amy Adams is in early talks to team with Prisoners helmer Denis Villeneuve on Story Of Your Life, the sci-fi thriller based on a short story by Ted Chiang, a top contemporary author in the genre. Scripted by Eric Heisserer, the thriller takes place after alien crafts land around the world. An expert linguist is recruited by the military to determine whether they come in peace or are a threat. As she learns to communicate with the aliens, she begins experiencing vivid flashbacks that become the key to unlocking the greater mystery about the true purpose of their visit.
Two important points to keep in mind. First, Ted Chiang's story is a lot more interesting and unconventional than that summary makes it sound. Second, the role Adams is up for would suit her down to the ground. If the screenwriter and director can translate Chiang's story into something that works on screen, Amy Adams could absolutely find herself finally picking up that elusive Best Actress Oscar.
Or, alternatively, this one goes back into development hell six months from now, Amy Adams gets her reward for another performance, and Ted Chiang never gets to become a household name.
[Via The Dissolve]