Angry Robot

The real Lord of the Flies: what happened when six boys were shipwrecked for 15 months

Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.

The Toronto Circus Riot of 1855 — the day the clowns picked the wrong Toronto brothel

If that isn’t the headline of the decade, then perhaps the first sentence deserves some kind of award (if not the story itself): “These weren’t the kind of clowns you want to mess with.”

John Graves Simcoe’s Weird Relationship with Slavery

Toronto’s founder was an abolitionist who was assigned to suppress a slave rebellion in Haiti.

The Tangled History of the Joubert Singers’ “Stand On The Word”

This echoes the previous article. It’s an interesting mess, and these sorts of issues remind me of similar problems with folk music: there are a million versions, no one knows which one came first, and perhaps, from some angles… it doesn’t matter? It is frustrating when someone other than the creator is making money, though.

The Original Renegade

A 14-year-old in Atlanta created one of the biggest dances on the internet. But nobody really knows that.

Documents Reveal US Army Propaganda Campaign For ‘Independence Day’ Sequel

The high-tech secret behind the stunning cinematography of ‘Uncut Gems’

An Unsettling New Theory: There Is No Swing Voter

It’s not really that unsettling, it’s the argument that turnout is paramount, and it’s very positive for the dems.

A Conversation With Rudy Giuliani Over Bloody Marys at the Mark Hotel

“Over a sweater, he wore a navy-blue suit, the fly of the pants unzipped.”

Hand-Painted Movie Posters from Ghana in the 80s & 90s

A decade of New Year’s Eve glasses, ranked by how dumb they looked

This Is a Real Movie

The questions pile up. Is it a joke? Is that the most outlandish plot ever? Is “unwittingly” the word that is carrying the most water in what is unmistakably a champion of a sentence? He trained a dolphin to assassinate the president, ok it’s weird but I get it. But he did it by accident?! Tell me more! I would ask exactly how this dolphin was going to kill the president, but unfortunately the artwork is a pretty huge spoiler by today’s standards… unless it’s speculative? I mean, does the dolphin assassin succeed? Is the president now dead?!

Was there a mid-70s wave of dolphin assassin films? Am I wading into heretofore uncharted waters (sorry) of cinematic excitement? There certainly was a rash of “Day of” + animal movies. Day of the Jackal, Three Days of the Condor. But these aren’t about actual jackals and condors. Did this production team, rushing to cash in on the day-of-the-animal craze, take things too literally?

Speaking of production teams. Day of the Dolphin, produced by Asylum Films. I get it. Produced by Roger Corman, totally can see that. But Day of the Dolphin a 70s mainstream auteur cinema project directed by Mike Nichols and written by Buck Henry?!

Is this a real movie?

The wonderful world of Chinese hi-fi

We Shouldn’t Bother the Feral Scooters of Central Park

Fans Were Surprised to Get More Gang Starr. They Almost Didn’t.

New Gang Starr album coming Friday despite Guru dying in 2010. It’s a long story.

Smart Speakers Kill Brain Cells

Some time ago I got Echoes and Sonos speakers for our house, thinking one of the good things about having smart speakers would be: they let our kids choose music to play. This is true, although there’s a huge downside: they let our kids choose music to play. And kids have terrible taste in music, they only know six songs, and they like to play them all the time. The one my kids always choose? I Like to Move It Move It.

Right now you’re thinking, yeah wow I bet it would be terrible to hear that song – perhaps the most repetitive song ever “written” – multiple times in one day, and you’d be right! But what’s worse is, Alexa doesn’t even choose that version from its search results. It chooses the will.i.am cover version from Madagascar 2:

You probably shouldn’t play that. It is staggeringly, soul-crushingly bad. It’s what happens when perhaps the worst rapper alive decides to cover the worst song in the world and BARELY EVEN DIALS IT IN. Lyric sample:

Shake up the ground, shake up the ground
Shake like a earthquake, quake up the ground
Play to make a sound, play to make a sound
Play to make a, play to make a, play to make a sound
So I can do my little dance, do my little dance
Do my little, do my little, do my little dance
Ants in my pants, got ants in my pants
Ants in my, ants in my, ants in my pants

I’m guessing it took Mr. i.am less time to write the song than its total running time, yet I have to listen to the consequences of his decisions multiple times per day, and even one listen of that song kills brain cells. This song is an atrocity. What’s even EVEN WORSE is that of course a song that murderously repetitive is a total earworm – like when you catch yourself singing “BY MENNEN” in the shower. So if the multiple plays this song gets in my household weren’t bad enough – each one, I’m sorry to say, fractionally enriching Mr. i.am – they are rendered insignificant next to the multiple times more replays performed upon me daily BY MY OWN TRAITOR BRAIN.

My only succor is the thought that I do not have to pay him royalties.

Perhaps that will come in a future software update.

Hong Kong student living in Toronto strikes a nerve on Twitter with eerie observations about Canadian life

The winter is dark and harsh with stinging cold. They spread salt over the roads. It poisons water and eats metal, and they tell you now it is safe.

“There Is Definite Hanky-Panky Going On”: The Fantastically Profitable Mystery of the Trump Chaos Trades

The Furtive Writer

What’s poppin, he wrote furtively to himself at work. Of all the secret habits to have, writing was the worst.

It was hard to hide in most situations. Ever try dipping your quill in ink on the subway? Using your Fumeboy-6 coal-fired typewriter at the playground? But at work, oddly, it was open season. Apparently he wasn’t allowed to drink openly here, or even operate a still, as the training videos and HR department made abundantly clear eventually. And knitting was frowned upon, as was operating his forge. But writing was just a part of the job. It looked like everything. He could be writing an email! He could be writing a powerpoint sled! He could be writing a boring meeting!

As the thrill of flaunting office norms faded, he gradually realized that he had nothing to write about. He could review the video game he had been playing obsessively! But such write-ups of passing obsessions always made him feel foolish weeks later when he was no longer in the clutches of said obsession, like that gluten-only cookbook he self-published, or his encyclopedic survey of the market’s leading chicken costumes. If only he had withheld the photos. No, all his passions fired in the wrong directions. Niche, temporary directions.

He was wrong, as usual. There were many things to write about, that would stand the test of time, that would speak to many. The travails of the heart. The challenges of child-rearing. Managing stress. Hard-gained wisdom, hard-lost youth.

Or that hobo he had set on fire last night.

Transit Map of Imperial Rome

The Roman Empire’s Roads In Transit Map Form

The First of Possibly Many Last Posts

Wondering if I should write something here?

Funny first line to write as I’m already writing something, and it’s always here where I am.

I guess what I’m debating ultimately is do I keep writing on this website. Now, “keep” is perhaps too strong a word, as I haven’t really done anything on it for over a year.

So the question, if I can gradually clarify through writing, is: is there something worth writing here?

To be clear, “clarity through writing” is the whole point of writing here, originally, for me. It was essentially therapeutic, a way of clearing an oft-muddled or indecisive mind by testing its mettle in the forge of… words and stuff.

That it was shared online, and people liked it, and commented, and linked to me, and I to them – that was a bonus.

Now, thousands of years later, I’ve made weekly writing part of my self care routine – I just don’t post it publicly. All the eyeballs are long gone, slurped into Facebook’s glass house. Writing here is a monologue to a house of skulls and dust. Ok and, TBH, a handful of my close friends. Hey fellas!

And, I write much more of the time for work, which is much busier than it was back at The Dawn of the Blog Age. And, in my great and unmatched wisdom that I have Earned The Hard Way (through age and hard living), I do sense that I perhaps have a clearer mind to begin with?

(You’d be right to point out, if that were the case, I’d already know the answer to the question I am floundering around presently. And. It’s not a good sign that I’ve avoided writing here for some reason for the longest time since the Fourth Bloggerozoic Era, Since the Rule of Bloggosaurus the Pretty Ok, since Bloggicus Brought Hot Takes to the Bloggicists, since…)

I’m pretty sure I have a point in mind, though, at least somewhere in here. It is this: the bonus of blogosphere community is long gone. That’s fine, I have other communities, more often now in real life, so that’s nice. And even the main point, of clarity through writing, is much less valued now for me, as I have other techniques for finding, or maybe maintaining, clarity.

And, a much more prosaic reason: time. There is no time for this. I have many times written posts that, for clarity, need to be rewritten, and rewritten, and re-re-written, and then abandoned. They know what they did! The only thing I could successfully publish were link posts with like no original thought at all.

But fucking hell, god damn if I don’t miss it.

So here’s my Promise of Excellence* to you. (*Note: promise will not be honoured.)

I hereby promise to post at least one soul-searching, “haven’t posted in a while”, “wondering whether to stop this nonsense”, flirting-with-final-post post per decade, or year, whichever is sooner.

(Ed. Note: I’ve just reread this trainwreck of a post and it goes exactly nowhere, and fails to answer the question it eventually figures out to pose, which is: is there something worth writing here?

The answer is: yes, but is it anything more than tortured, perpetual last posts? Like Sisyphus pushing the Publish Boulder up the WordPress Hell Hill?

I beleive it is, but I’m ever the optimist.)

This Is a Constitutional Crisis. What Happens Next?

Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg on what’s next for Tumblr

WordPress maker Automattic bought Tumblr from Verizon for pocket change and I don’t usually get excited about corporate deals because they are usually either boring or depressing but this one I am very happy about. I don’t know if Tumblr will ever be an alternative to Facebook et al but Automattic is the best possible company to give it a shot.

Fintan O’Toole: Ireland can stop a no-deal Brexit. Here’s how