links 17dec10

December 17th, 2010 | Links

Yeah, so Yahoo changed their story and claim they weren’t shutting down or “sunsetting” and are putting it up for sale instead. Because, you know, firing the team and having the news slip out and then issuing a statement 24 hours later doesn’t at all sound like you’re changing the story after half the internet called you a shitbird.

So, until I get an alternative service set up (that Reeder for iPhone can talk to, ideally), I’m doing links like this:

* “Analyzing the isotope ratios of ancient raindrops preserved in soils and lake sediments, Stanford researchers have shown that a wave of mountain building began in British Columbia, Canada about 49 million years ago and rolled south to Mexico. The finding helps put to rest the idea that there was once a Tibet-like plateau across the western US that collapsed and eroded into the mountains we see today.” While I wasn’t aware that people were running around screaming There Was Totally A Tibet Thing On America One Time, what I’m taking from this is — analysing ancient raindrops. I didn’t know we could do that. That is actually a bit cool.

* “The costly launch failure that caused Russia to delay the deployment of its own satellite system was the result of a fuel miscalculation, a commission charged with probing the accident said Friday.” Yeah, this is why Russian space travel has always worried me a bit. I fucking love the Soyuz, but, at the risk of promoting national stereotypes, it’s generally still all a bit “we hit the tractor with the spanner until it ploughs a straight furrow.”

Raikunov said the fault lay with the Energia Rocket And Space Corporation, which designed the carrier. He said that the company failed to account for the fact that the updated version of the rocket had bigger fuel tanks, which weighed more when filled to the top. “This increased the payload weight and the rocket did not have the energy to deliver the satellites to orbit,” the space official said.

Let that sink in.

* Jim Jupp of Belbury Poly creates “the first in an occasional series of radio shows in which I’ll be playing a few of my favourite tunes, giving you a sneak preview of forthcoming Ghost Box material and leading you all in devotional song.” Or you can click through and stream it through a Mixcloud widget. So that’s tonight’s listening sorted.

* Music writer Simon Reynolds signs off for the year with a list of his favourite records of 2010. Which I haven’t done myself, yet. I suppose I should try.


December 17th, 2010 | Work

Finally, one of my sekrit projects has poked its head into the light of day.  That which was Project Blacklight has been announced by BERG: it’s called SVK.

This is the announcement post on the BERGblog.

SVK is a short graphic novella I’m writing, to be illustrated by my old mate Matt Brooker, the artist generally known as D’Israeli.  This’ll be the first substantial work we’ve done together in… christ, nigh on 20 years, since LAZARUS CHURCHYARD.

And it’s to be published by BERG, the London design consultancy group.

Regular readers of this site will know BERG well.  For the rest of you, check out their work — you might well find you realise you already knew them.

SVK is about… well, SVK stands for a few things, including “Surveillance, Very Kafka.”  In one meeting I also described the book as “Franz Kafka’s Bourne Identity,” which seems to have stuck.

The story, concerning a recovery agent and a thing lost that should probably never have been made, is set in London.  So it has to be about surveillance at some level, as London is probably the most surveilled city in the world, one estimate pegging the level at one CCTV camera to every eight people.  At any one time, in fact, a fifth of the world’s  CCTV cameras are live in the UK.

There is an interesting and possibly unique physical aspect to the book that we’re not discussing right now.  But BERG are very good at making things that are about perception, like the (pre-INCEPTION!) Here And There map.  When Jack Schulze at BERG came to me with the core idea that SVK’s built on, I knew I had to at least try this, just to see if it’d work…!  It’s going to be a surprise, I think, and this sort of envelope-tampering is only going to happen somewhere like BERG.  Strange Vector of a Komik.

Also, there are going to be strange and lovely opportunities for a few advertisers therein.  Not quite product placement.  Details at the BERG link.

SVK will be with you next spring.

The End Of

December 17th, 2010 | brainjuice

Well, apparently Yahoo! is closing down  I just exported my bookmarks out of there (probably with all the fucking tags missing) and am deciding where to move my bookmarking to.  Probably Google Bookmarks, if there’s a decent extension.  Reeder doesn’t support Google Bookmarks tagging, so I’ll have to email my bookmarks to myself and then load them in later.   I still find Evernote a bit jerky and slow, and the Evernote extension for Chrome has a mind of its fucking own. was smooth and fast and simple, and I will miss it terribly.

Hey, Yahoo?  Running cost you pennies, and bought you so much goodwill.  Now you’re just another of those scumfucks who acquires great services just to bury them.  But then, firing all those people before Xmas really showed what kind of people you are anyway, didn’t it?  ”Oh, we didn’t want people to spend too much money at Xmas and then fire them in January with that extra debt on their shoulders.”  Right.

Everyone I know is currently working out how to back all their photos off Flickr, in case that’s next.  The thinking being, if Yahoo didn’t know what they had with, they’re not going to know what they have with Flickr.  Which is a fair point.

To Joshua Schachter, and everyone else who worked on — thank you so much.  It made my working life so much easier, you can’t imagine.

Black And White

December 16th, 2010 | photography

My friends are always so quick to throw me under the bus. Katie West’s new book of photography is available for sale, and apparently it’s all my fault:

A long time ago Warren Ellis suggested I make a black and white photobook; something that didn’t cost an arm and a leg to get printed, something that anyone could pick up by way of print-on-demand, something that people from the internet could afford to buy five of – if they felt so inclined. It was, of course, a great idea, and I wanted to do it, but I got distracted by a few things. Or maybe just one thing: life.

But that’s the entire point of this: here is my life of the past year and a bit laid out in a collection of 76 black and white photographs. Some of them are terrifically sad, as I suffered many losses and a bout of self-inflicted heartbreak during this time; some are ridiculously happy, as I learned to be better at recognizing happiness; many are concerned with my body and sexuality, as those are issues I’ve always been interested in and during the past couple years I’ve been confronted with a lot of criticism and revelations about the representation of my body in my photography. You don’t see anyone else from my life, or actual things I might do day-to-day, but you do see how I feel about the moments and events that end up changing me.