Cold grey day? Sod reality, stay online and read this lot instead
- The graffiti kids who sparked the Syrian war - "It started as simple teenage rebellion but ended up tearing Syria apart, setting in motion events that continue to rock the Middle East — and the world. The boys behind the graffiti would become unlikely revolutionaries and reluctant refugees. Not all of them would survive the upheaval they helped unleash. This is their story.” Mark MacKinnon tracks down those he can find of the group of boys whose graffiti on a school wall sparked the conflict that threatens the world.
- The chilling stories behind Japan’s ‘evaporating people’ - "Since the mid-1990s, it’s estimated that at least 100,000 Japanese men and women vanish annually. They are the architects of their own disappearances, banishing themselves over indignities large and small: divorce, debt, job loss, failing an exam." In a society regulated by strict social norms, those who believe they have failed will quietly slip away to join an unacknowledged underclass.
- The Architecture of Evil: Dystopian Megacorps in Speculative Fiction Films - Kate Wagner, who created the “McMansion Hell” blog that appeared here a few weeks ago, looks at the architecture of the powerful organisations in films such as Blade Runner and Robocop, and the historical context of the real buildings used to represent them: ”What’s fascinating about the evil megacorporation is that its architectural aesthetic has remained virtually unchanged throughout its history: brooding Late Modernist (AKA High-tech or Structural Expressionist) buildings have become a well-worn trope, reaching a peak during the sci-fi smorgasbord of the 80s.”
- How Steve Jobs Became a Billionaire - "Steve Jobs’ name is forever tied to Apple: the company he founded, was fired from, and later returned to and made the most valuable in the world. It’s easy to forget that it was another company—Pixar—that made him his first billion. Central to that story is Lawrence Levy, the man who Jobs reached out to, unknown, in November of 1994 and hired as CFO. His mission? To take the scrappy company public."
- Contrailz - Cool visualisations of Planefinder data by Alexey Papulovskiy: ”I’ve been collecting plane tracking data from Planefinder.net during the whole month of October in 2012. The results of such monitoring amounted for about 1 billion “dots” which I tried to put on a map… Turns out, besides Flight Levels (FL) (which are indicated on my map by dots’ color: red ones stand for lower altitudes and blue — for higher) planes have pretty specific “roads” and “highways” as well as “intersections” and “junctions”.”
- The Best Time I Pretended I Hadn’t Heard of Slavoj Žižek - Rosa Lyster presents a fun game to play with the right kind of person: ”The other night, I pretended I didn’t know who Slavoj Žižek, the Slovenian Hegelian Marxist and cultural critic, was. I’ve done this before, but never to such triumphant effect… He moved through the stages that everyone moves through when they have fallen prey to the Žižek Maneuver: disbelief, defiance, and finally, dizzy irritation. Maybe even a bit of actual anger. I could see that he thought I might be messing with him, but he could not prove it. He gave up on me shortly afterwards, and ignored me for the rest of the night.”
- “I just want to know how my sons died” – bringing home Bosnia’s dead - ”Thousands of families are still waiting for news of missing loved ones, 25 years after the bloody Balkans war. Ed Vulliamy meets the scientists piecing together the evidence from mass graves, and the relatives hoping for justice – and a body to bury.”
- If Waffle House Is Closed, It’s Time To Panic - The American food chain boasts of remaining open 24/7/365, so when they do decide to close a restaurant in the face of looming natural disaster, even the US Government’s Federal Emergency Management Agency takes note: ”[W. Craig] Fugate was director of emergency management for Florida when Charley slammed the state with unexpected force: Its winds strengthened abruptly and it went from a Category 2 to a Category 4… the group was inspired first to rank Waffle Houses in the same way: green for fully operational, yellow for a limited menu and red for closed. ‘Which is pretty bad, because Waffle House is always open,’ Lopez added. And, second, to use those observations as a proxy for how much a disaster disrupts a community. Fugate has since been quoted as saying: ‘If you get there and the Waffle House is closed? That’s really bad. That’s where you go to work.’”
- The Many Lives of the Medieval Wound Man - "Sliced, stabbed, punctured, bleeding, harassed on all sides by various weaponry, the curious image of Wound Man is a rare yet intriguing presence in the world of medieval and early modern medical manuscripts. Jack Hartnell explores this enigmatic figure’s journey through the centuries."
- Fantasy Vehicles - Deviant Art member Clave draws vehicles out of sci-fi in the colours of real organisations, such as a SHADO Moonbase interceptor in the livery of the Jordanian Air Force, or real vehicles as ones out of sci-fi, such as a Harrier belonging to the Narn from Babylon 5. As it's National Postal Workers Day, here’s a Gunstar from The Last Starfighter operated by the Royal Mail:
Seasonal bonus link from norrahe’s blog: Mulled wine, hot cider and rum punch and hot toddy