✩ Want You To Know: Mid Month Miscellany

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A is for Acid, your brain on it.

B is for the Bot that composes villanelles.

C is for the importance of the Comma.

D is for the Duke whose wealth should be celebrated.

E is for Einstein's leather jacket.

F is for Fish Oreos.

G is for Gymnastics, and how Simone Biles broke it.

H is for a Honeypot for assholes.

I is for the Internet of (insecure) things.

J is for Just joking, in the Trump style.

K is for Susan Kare, an interview with.

L is for Life expectancy versus health expenditure.

M is for Maps of the fantasy kind.

N is for Niku.

O is obviously for Olympics, but in space.

P is for Pessimism, grumpiness and the benefits thereof.

Q is for wine Queen.

R is for Robot apocalypse.

S is for Sharks that live a long time.

T is for Tim who cleans loos to pay the mortgage and frets over Norwegian nipple clamps.

U is for United Airlines and their atrocious online security.

V is for Vets, the Schrödinger type.

W is for Web Design in 4 minutes.

X is for X-rays of portraits.

Y is for the best of If X Were Your Y.

Z is for Zika and the mutant mosquitoes

Yours etc., @loughlin


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✩ Want You To Know: Roger Casement Sex Dance

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The good people of Kerry were scandalised, SCANDALISED by a piece of art last weekend. The scandaliser in chief turned out to be the Project Arts Centre, already in trouble with people who like to complain about things over a mural that people were talking about. Those who complained about the mural didn't like the tone of the conversation it had started or indeed the fact that the conversation was happening at all. After the complaints the mural was removed and this led to international media interest in the story. Reproductions and remixes of the mural appeared all over the country. The mural even assumed doughnut form. It is unclear at this time whether those who complained vociferously about the mural were aware of the Streisand Effect.

In the United States the Democratic National Convention went off well, although some of the newspapers managed to not put a picture of the woman who had made history by becoming the first female presidential candidate for either of the major parties on their front pages. Anyway, now that all the formalities are out of the way it's on with the head to head competition between the Republican and Democratic candidates. Or, as John Scalzi swearily but accurately puts it, between "normal versus highly fucking abnormal."

Worth Pondering

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Eye Candy

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'Transparent Lollipops Containing Galaxies and Famous Paintings'

Totally Confused

A reptile dysfunction, Foamhenge, emojillate, purple orb crab fight and tasteful slang for yer naughty bits.

Yours etc., @loughlin


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✩ Want You To Know: Takes Of All Temperatures

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Newsy things normally slow down around this time of the year, as the important people who do newsworthy things go on holidays. Not so much this year as we're now midway through the spectacle that is convention season in the US presidential election – one down, one to go. Shootings in shopping malls in Europe, shootings of unarmed black men in America, they're still ongoing.

The Washington Post has taken the apparently unprecedented step of not endorsing Donald Trump in a stinging piece from its editorial board. Twitter banned Milo Yiannopolous. Laurie Penny wrote a piece about hanging out with Milo at the Republican Convention, just after the ban had been handed down. Lots of people liked Penny's piece, but Shanley Kane didn't. Someone in The Irish Times got wind that there was a disturbance in the force relating to freedom of expression on the internet. The resulting column was remarkably free of context and even facts.

Pokémon Go continues to provide not just news stories but also extensive opportunities for takes of all temperatures.

There were serious privacy concerns, which have already led to threats of legal action in Germany. The app featured an even more labyrinthine EULA than usual, with binding arbitration that a user has to opt out of. Marketing folks and local businesses blessed by the geolocation gods are enthusiastic. Reporters have been scolded in press briefings for playing it. Players in Bosnia were warned about the dangers of wandering into minefields while playing it. A chap in Brooklyn caught them all. Some youths made an illegal border crossing in Montana because of it.

Such was the volume of takes that Medium, now the undisputed unofficial home of hot takes added a Pokémon Go section to its navigation bar.

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The most interesting of the lot to me was this, on the history of letterboxing, or your great-grandad's Pokémon Go. 'What Each Pokemon Would Taste Like And How To Eat It' wasn't half bad either.

Worth Pondering

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Eye Candy

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Passport Index

Totally Confused

Napoleonic battlefield scavenging, crow funerals, cathedral by hand, accidental movie star and the woman who put men on the moon.

Yours etc., @loughlin


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✩ Want You To Know: Point / Counterpoint

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Apologies for the longer-than-expected absence, but 2016 just won't slow down, will it? The big news out of the first day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland is that The Donald's wife Melania appears to have plagiarised big chunks of Michelle Obama's speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. This will provide a convenient issue for the media to get their teeth into, while ignoring the disturbing white supremacism and bigotry on show throughout the day. For example, Steve King, a proud Iowan who keeps a Confederate flag on his desk informed us that no other group of people has contributed as much to civilisation as white people. So that event can only build from here.

"I spliced Michelle and Melania together. Judge for yourself."

This War Will Destabilize The Entire Mideast Region And Set Off A Global Shockwave Of Anti-Americanism vs. No It Won’t

How My Dream Gap Year In Africa Turned Into A Nightmare /
How My Dream Gap Year In Europe Turned Into A Nightmare

Back in the land of Brexit, a Japanese company just expressed an interest in purchasing the good half of the British technology industry. The establishment gritted their teeth and opined that his was in fact a Very Good Thing™, even a vote of confidence in Britain, Brexited but not broken.

The sorry saga of Yahoo! and the things it has bought continues. It's now written off half of the $1 billion it paid for Tumblr. Now we wait to see if anyone is interested in buying Yahoo!.

Worth Pondering

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Eye Candy

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'Anatomical Venuses'

Totally Confused

Band name linguistics, swipe that MetroCard, Tattoos 4 U, 'she managed to masticate and lucubrate far into the night' and trolling the FBI.

Yours etc., @loughlin


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✩ Want You To Know: The Very Opposite Of A Guardian Angel

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Police in the US have shot and killed another black man, Alton Sterling. Over at Facebook, the bastion of anti-transparency, Mike Monteiro has had his account suspended for reporting gun sales which breach Facebook's own terms and conditions.

This long New Yorker piece by George Saunders follows Trump's campaign from rally to rally across the country, trying to ascertain what it is his supporters see in him. It reaches this unhappy conclusion

Although, to me, Trump seems the very opposite of a guardian angel, I thank him for this: I’ve never before imagined America as fragile, as an experiment that could, within my very lifetime, fail.

From an ostensible man of action like Trump we move on to the inactive men and women of the Irish parliament. It's thirty three years since the Eighth Amendment was introduced, when the government of the day ignored the advice of the Attorney General that very bad situations could arise as a result of the amendment. It's twenty four years since what that Attorney General had forecast came to pass in the form of the X case and the current government is now using the advice of the Attorney General to justify continued inactivity. Palpable foot-dragging, as Kathy Sheridan puts it in the Irish Times.

Meanwhile, in the face of that profound human suffering, we seem to have all the time in the world to meditate on how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

But that's Ireland for you. The Best Small Country In The World Not To Be A Pregnant Woman In.

In continuing disturbing news from the world of robotics, boffins have now taught a robot to hunt prey.

Related: The Katmai BearCam is back.

Worth Pondering

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Eye Candy

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'I Spent 15 Years Photographing Cities In Water Drops'

Totally Confused

Wee on court, Snapchat filter theft, England: A Beginner's Guide, Patrick Stewart sings and the opposite of Brexit.

Yours etc., @loughlin


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✩ Want You To Know: “Sometimes we must interfere.”

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The quote in the subject line is from Elie Wiesel's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 1986. Full quote below, via Kottke.

And then I explained to him how naive we were, that the world did know and remain silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must — at that moment — become the center of the universe.

Enough of the grimdark current affairs and on to the ephemera. From the surprising 'wearables I was all ready to sneer at but which might actually be pretty cool' department comes the Basslet, a subwoofer for your wrist. Wub wub wub will never be the same again.

Worth Pondering

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Eye Candy

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Subterranean Singapore

Totally Confused

Tetris trilogy, the most metal words, beautiful cheese board, I photo the firework and What is a Witch.

Yours etc., @loughlin


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✩ Want You To Know: “Our promises were a series of possibilities”

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The Brexit is getting Brexitier. I suppose I could just leave it there and sign off for another few days. But as is the way of events, other things continue to happen, some of them even positive things.

The US Supreme Court overturned Texas' abortion restrictions.

"We add that, when directly asked at oral argument whether Texas knew of a single instance in which the new requirement would have helped even one woman obtain better treatment, Texas admitted that there was no evidence in the record of such a case."

CafePress removed a t-shirt describing presidential hopeful Donald Trump as a 'cheeto-faced shitgibbon' from its store for spurious trademark reasons.

Maciej Ceglowski has some thoughts on surveillance and the way the technology industry functions right now which are almost precisely the same as mine. Except he makes his points far more concisely and coherently than I usually do.

While we're on the subject of surveillance capitalism, Facebook said on Friday it was doing some very dodgy things to recommend new friends to you. After a bit of solemn reflection and some very negative reaction to Facebook being, as is now traditional, skeevy as anything, Facebook decided it wasn't doing those things after all. So that's OK, I guess?

Worth Pondering

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Eye Candy

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'The Surprising History of the Infographic'

Totally Confused

Steve McLaren supreme, sad boner confessionals, spherical Droste effect, digital doppelgängers and anti-fascist anthems.

Yours etc., @loughlin


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✩ Want You To Know: Obligatory Grim Brexit Edition

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ICYMI, Brexit has happened. Nobody has much of a notion what happens next.

Here are some highlights from my 'as it happened' notes.

The Irish government publishes its contingency plan. As this contingency plan is a badly formatted table that sprawls over eight pages and is titled 'Appendix', I'm not entirely filled with confidence for the future.

For some reason the ever-cautious Michael Martin decides it is now safe to give David Cameron a few kicks.

A woman loudly calls Boris Johnson a twat as he gets into a car outside his London home. Sky News is there to capture the moment. Continuing this theme, I feel the only word to describe the framing on display here is 'masterful'.

The Irish Times publishes a witty letter that reads simply 'Perfidious Albion, eh?', which I've no doubt the author is inordinately proud of.

Ian Paisley Jr. advises his constituents to get their hands on Irish passports if they are eligible to do so. These waters are indeed uncharted.

Some other Brexit reading below. I've no idea when normal service will be resumed.

When all you have is a hammer, every problem starts to look like David Cameron’s face.

'I want my country back', Laurie Penny

Combined with that, there is the folly of allowing a billionaire from Australia to corrupt our press. A good deal of it was already corrupt (the Zinoviev Letter, for instance, a forgery published by the Daily Mail to ensure a Conservative victory in 1924), but the depth to which the bulk of our newspapers have sunk, the extent to which they are nothing more than mouthpieces for spittle-flecked xenophobia (“Up Yours Delors”, from the Sun, 1990), is a wonder of the civilised world.

'Philip Pullman on the 1,000 causes of Brexit', Philip Pullman

In place of facts, we now live in a world of data. Instead of trusted measures and methodologies being used to produce numbers, a dizzying array of numbers is produced by default, to be mined, visualised, analysed and interpreted however we wish. If risk modelling (using notions of statistical normality) was the defining research technique of the 19th and 20th centuries, sentiment analysis is the defining one of the emerging digital era.

'Thoughts on the sociology of Brexit', Will Davies

The real division in Britain is not between London and the north, Scotland and Wales or the old and young, but between Johnson, Gove and Farage and the voters they defrauded. What tale will serve them now?

'There are liars and then there’s Boris Johnson and Michael Gove', Nick Cohen

A different, more durable and threatening kind of inequality is also at stake here. A majority of people around the United Kingdom are feeling like non-people, un-citizens, their lives jerked about like marionettes by wire-pullers far away. In those circumstances, very bad things indeed can be expected.

'Britain's EU Problem is a London Problem', Peter Mandler

Worth Pondering

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Eye Candy

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Lithographed Portugese seafood cans

Totally Confused

Mac n' Cheetos, fire walk with me, bloviating flesh bag, autocomplete Pi poetry and a grope for Brexit (and art).

Yours etc., @loughlin


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✩ Want You To Know: Potholes

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The Irish Data Protection Commissioner published her annual report for 2015 [direct PDF link]. Highlights include a novel spin on the old 'a dog ate my homework and then the dog burst into flames and then it fell off a tall cliff' excuse once beloved of schoolchildren everywhere, and the potentially detrimental effect of search engine results forever connecting one's name to a story about potholes. The Irish Times has more.

Records of an internal complaint made by a member of the Defence Forces were destroyed in a flood and a burglary at a military investigating officer’s private house.

The Defence Forces told the commissioner it prohibited the removal of records and that such action may constitute an offence under the Defence Act. But as the military investigation officer was no longer a serving member, he was not subject to military law.

What an extraordinarily unfortunate sequence of events. Let us hope that such a thing can never, ever happen again.

From the report itself –

Of the complaints that were upheld, one related to an interview given by an individual to a local newspaper 7 years previously regarding potholes on the local roads, which on a search of the individual’s name was the first listed result. With the repairs to the potholes completed, the issue was resolved but the individual was unhappy that a search
against their name still produced this story in the results. Arguing with Google on the complainant’s behalf, we successfully made the case that the story was out of date and therefore no longer relevant.

I'm now desperately curious to find out what results do show up in a search for this individual's name, and why they urgently needed to excise their pothole past. Have they come under pressure from the pothole lobby for being a visible anti-pothole voice? Are they looking to find a job in the pothole industry and are afraid their anti-pothole past will catch up with them?

For a pretty accurate assessment of where Donald Trump's presidential campaign is right now, read this thread. Despite any appearances to the contrary, the United States is still the land of opportunity, where any huckster with ambition can turn a campaign to hold the highest office in the land into a Ponzi scheme.

Twitter, still struggling to understand what Twitter is, has launched a thing that helps celebrities push their banalities and sponsored posts to a wider audience of people who don't particularly care. Meanwhile Facebook is paying considerable amounts of money to entice folks to come and play in their live video garden.

Worth Pondering

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Eye Candy

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'Unequal Scenes'

Totally Confused

Seinfeld in Doom, typography in Blade Runner, a world without Barnes & Noble, when Uber leaves and robot's rights.

Yours etc., @loughlin


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✩ Want You To Know: Broken Overton Windows Theory

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It's been a hellish week for news, and with the media still showing a reluctance to use the word homophobia in relation to the Orlando killings or to admit how complicit many outlets have been in fanning the flames of white nationalism in England which led to Jo Cox's murder, you're probably better off not watching any TV or reading any newspapers for a bit.

You could always give the latest episode of Note to Self a whirl instead. It's about one specific email newsletter and how we don't really consume the news any more, but perhaps an abstraction of the news. News is entirely a product now, we've all been segmented and soon we'll be aggressively targeted by the emoji we tweet. ::appropriate emoji::

Then you could marvel at the human ingenuity that's allowed us to sit at our keyboards like the I have no idea what I'm doing dog and watch video of a space capsule beginning its return to the Earth with the moon as a backdrop.

Back in Ireland, with the gurning approval of battery of government figures (Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister for Jobs), Google opened a warehouse in Dublin earlier this week. At the same time it announced it was throwing even more money at super exciting AI research and development. Except this high value engineering work will be done in Zurich. Although headquartered in Dublin for CERTAINLY NOT SOLELY TAX reasons, Zurich "is home to Google’s largest engineering office outside the U.S." Actually, another reason they're headquartered here might be easy access to sympathetic government ears.

Worth Pondering

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Eye Candy

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'Nature has Eyes'

Totally Confused

'Likes' like sex, giant spider crabs, dog eats glue, honest restaurant slogans and The Secret World of Foley

Yours etc., @loughlin


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