Things to read
“‘I was expecting a bunch of shitheads and, like, four trolls,’ Diepenbroek said. ‘I’m honestly blown away.’ There were no fedoras in sight, but plenty of stereotypical netizens showed up: dudes proudly sporting actual vapers, bronies, a Wiccan priestess, That Guy With the Walking Stick. But mostly, the campers were what normative society would call bright, sociable and beyond well-adjusted, with a fairly even gender split, given Imgur's male-dominated traffic.”
“I’ve heard that in moments of crisis people say time stands still. But in my experience, it doesn’t happen when you fall – if anything, time speeds up. Still, what if a climber (or secret agent) had the presence of mind and opportunity to grab something on the way down? Is it even possible?”
“HTML showed up to support the community of physicists at Tim Berners-Lee’s workplace, but it showed up in a world of Word, and PowerPoint, and Excel. And QuarkXPress and Pagemaker. There’s no proof the web was intended as a reaction to those specific programs, but it functioned as one, for me. It came along at a time when computers were everywhere but still suspicious. People feared them, they feared being alienated and exhausted by having to learn so many new things. Simply not being afraid of computers was, back then, almost a career.”
—Being not afraid of computers is pretty much my career plan too, Paul Ford. Email to Pocket.
+Related: I also enjoyed this episode of the Reply All podcast that featured Paul talking about his terrible habit of registering websites in the hope they will solve actual problems in his life.
“ There is no sound on earth like that of a quiet man, a dignified man, exploding in primal grief. Nothing compares to it – not fingernails scraping on a blackboard, not the whir of a dental drill through enamel. Nothing. It is the howl of absolute horror, a keening black hole of noise that sucks in everything else. It pulls you into the abyss – extraordinary, out of character, it brooks no dissent. This, the sound announces, is about forever.”
“The bigger problem is we’re sometimes wrong. Our distaste for the trappings of publication puts us off from something great. We can tut-tut the marketing departments for this, but we have to shoulder some of the blame ourselves, especially when we allow our attitudes to harden into beliefs. After years of suspecting that I hated Michel Houellebecq, I began to assert as fact that I hated Michel Houellebecq; more recently, I discovered that I deeply enjoy Michel Houellebecq. It took impassioned pleas by not one but several friends to get me to read him – an almost literal conversion effort. People have become Catholic for less.”
—An excellent riposte to the non-Pratchett reading snobs everywhere. Email to Pocket
+Related: My colleague Helen Lewis has written a great column this week about why saying goodbye to Terry Pratchett is also like saying goodbye to a less cynical version of yourself.
“They were all love stories, with strong, feministy women and broodingly romantic men, beautifully told, with tragic twists and dramatic turns, and comedic elements. Engrossing, delightful, blithely misandrist (a recurring theme is ‘men are the worst’) and completely addictive. They were basically rom-coms. Sixteen- to twenty-hour rom-coms. By the way, if you love rom-coms and are wondering where all the good rom-coms are, they’re in Korea.”
I liked the idea of Buzzfeed’s Rerun podcast before I listened to a single episode – now I do a pop culture podcast myself, I was even a bit annoyed that I hadn’t come up with the concept of rewatching old TV shows for “work” purposes. Because that’s what it is: a rewatch of an old favourite, with smart commentary and clips. Sadly, I’m not sure about it as a podcast series, since my enjoyment of the three they’ve done so far varied wildly according to how much I like the show under discussion (Daria, yes; America’s Next Top Model, yes; Freaks and Geeks, no). I can’t subscribe to something I’m not going to understand every week. More and more, I realise my choice of regular podcasts has nothing to do with subject and everything to do with personnel – if I want to spend time with the host, I’ll happily listen to them talk about anything.
Things to listen to
Things to watchThe best Bach mass.
The stop motion apocalypse.