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02 Oct 15:05

12 Before-And-After Photos Of Autumn’s Beautiful Transformations

by Lina D.

Without stopping to take a look around, we can sometimes miss the transition of our surroundings from summer to autumn. But just in case you’ve been watching the trees change colors, here’s a list of photos that compare various locations before and after they change into their autumn colors.

Besides the nip in the air, the scarves, and the delicious autumn fruits and vegetables, the changing leaves are probably the greatest sign of autumn that there is. Chlorophyll, which is the green pigment in leaves that produces energy for trees, gradually breaks down in the fall, revealing the many other colors that also exist in leaves. That’s where we get the rich browns, oranges, yellows and reds that we associate with the season.

Tu Hwnt I’r Bont Tearoom in Llanrwst, North Wales


Image credits: unicorn81


Image credits: g7preston

Gapstow Bridge, New York, USA


Image credits:  Jessica Jenney


Image credits: BooRad0859

Japanese Maple


Image credits: Kadek Susanto


Image credits: Pete Wongkongkathep

Apartment Building Facade


Image credits:

Forest Lake In Poland


Image credits:  Kacper Kowalski


Image credits:  Kacper Kowalski

Poet’s Walk, Central Park, New York, USA


Image credits: Eddie Crimmins


Image credits: Vivienne Gucwa

Hitachi Seaside Park, Japan


Image credits: 影 武者


Image credits: nipomen2

Glenfinnan Viaduct, Scotland


Image credits: Martin Molcan


Image credits: Andrew Shaland

Lake Island, Poland


Image credits: Kacper Kowalski


Image credits: Kacper Kowalski

Capitol Creek Valley


Image credits: Wayne Boland


Image credits: Alex Burke

Kilchurn Castle, Scotland


Image credits: Mathieu Noel


Image credits: fen_snapz

Grand Island East Channel Light House, Michigan, USA


Image credits: Jim Liestman


Image credits: Ajay Thakur

10 Oct 19:00

Interpreting the Animal Choices on the World’s Most Popular Programming Books

by Amanda Pickering
by Amanda Pickering

If you are a software engineer, or work in an office with software engineers, or have ever been near more than one software engineer, you’ve seen the O’Reilly programming books with the animals. A bit of digging on the company website reveals that each book’s cover animal is selected not by the author but by O’Reilly’s creative director, Edie Freedman, who goes on to state: “I never reveal the reasons behind my choices, but I can assure all interested parties that there is always a reason.” So in the end, it’s up to you to figure out how a Mexican agouti, tarsier, or axolotl will guide you on your programming journey. For now, I did my best to decipher a few myself.

Learning Python
Cover Animal: Wood Rat
Meaning: Python, the programming language, was named in reference to Monty Python, not the snake. But this isn’t a snake. Not even a baby snake, still learning how to snake. It’s an animal that a python would probably eat, which is a huge bummer.
DOES THIS MAKE ANY SENSE: OK so maybe the wood rat has to learn about pythons to avoid death? Still sad.
SHOULD YOU BUY THIS: No, but you should probably learn python, it’s fun!

Programming Python
Cover Animal: Actual Python
Meaning: While you're learning Python you're just a rat about to be eaten by what you're trying to learn, but once you know what you're doing you go on to eating those who are still learning.
DOES THIS MAKE ANY SENSE: A lot, actually, though it’s kind of evil.
SHOULD YOU BUY THIS: This is the only O’Reilly book that chooses such an obvious cover, so they’re probably trying to trick you. Pass.

cat (2)Python for Data Analysis
Cover Animal: Golden-Tailed Tree Shrew
Meaning: The golden-tailed tree shrew is known for how much alcohol it consumes by drinking fermented palm nectar without ever getting drunk, since its body is designed to process ethanol super efficiently. Maybe you can analyze as much data as the golden-tailed tree shrew can drink alcohol, but you will possibly never get anything out of it?
SHOULD YOU BUY THIS: Yes. It's cute. Would learn again.

Learning PHP, MySQL, JavaScript, CSS & HTML5
Cover Animal: Sugar Gliders
Meaning: Look at those huge, adorable eyes. Don’t you want to learn all the web things? Oh but wait, according to the book's colophon about the cover choice, "One male will assert his dominance by marking the group’s territory with his saliva and then by marking all group members with a distinctive scent produced from his forehead and chest glands." Men being obnoxious and overbearing? Highly relevant, A+ choice. Sugar gliders, who knew.

Clojure Cookbook
Cover Animal: Aardwolf
Meaning: A fucking AARDWOLF this is AWESOME I'm going to go learn Clojure right now since without it I wouldn't know that Aardwolves are real.
DOES THIS MAKE SENSE: I have no idea.

Mastering Regular Expressions
Cover Animal: Some owls
Meaning: Owls. Known in folklore for being wise, but also silent killing machines of small, cute woodland animals. Kind of like computer programmers?
DOES THIS MAKE ANY SENSE: Maybe? A bit ruthless but so is the tech world.

Becoming Functional
Cover Animal: Sheldrake Duck
Meaning: Ducks are pretty functional–their feet are webbed for swimming, but they can also waddle around on land, and they can fly! So functional. Definitely want to become this duck.
DOES THIS MAKE SENSE: A lot, actually.
SHOULD YOU BUY THIS: Yes, unless you don’t like being functional, but maybe you’re into that and that’s cool, the duck isn’t judging you nearly as hard as Regular Expressions Owls.

cat (6)Understanding Computation
Cover Animal: ???
Meaning: At first I thought this was a rock, which isn’t an animal, what is going on O’Reilly? Or was it maybe coral, which is technically alive. The wavy bits could be some sort of seaweed, which is also alive, but none of these books have plants on the cover. The ocean is huge, dark, scary, and full of all kinds of mysterious animals like that fish with the light on its head and sea cucumbers. This animal must be mysterious and complicated, much like computation. But actually it’s just a bear paw clam. (Not to harsh on clams.)
DOES THIS MAKE SENSE: The book is supposed to teach programmers without a formal computer science background more complicated computing stuff, kind of like figuring out what that clam even is, so yeah.
SHOULD YOU BUY THIS: Sorry but clams are still really boring, some of these books have Aardwolves on the cover. No.

JavaScript: The Good Parts
Cover Animal: Monarch Butterfly
Meaning: O’Reilly’s definitive guide to all of Javascript is 600+ pages long and has a appropriately giant rhino on the cover. No one is going to actually read it all the way through when they can just read the 100-page “good parts” of the language with a beautiful, graceful Monarch butterfly on the cover.
DOES THIS MAKE SENSE: So butterflies are a lot smaller than rhinos, but who says they are better, hmm? Monarch larvae is also poisonous to birds, and so many of these books have birds on the cover.
SHOULD YOU BUY THIS: I don’t trust this butterfly. No.

Learning Java
Cover Animal: Tigers
Meaning: Did you know that in the next ten years, 1.4 million programming jobs will be created in the forest, but only 400,000 tiger cubs will study computer science at tiger school?

Amanda Pickering Learns to Code in Brooklyn.


The post Interpreting the Animal Choices on the World’s Most Popular Programming Books appeared first on The Awl.

06 Oct 15:15

Woman can sing multiple notes at the same time

by Alex Moore
Woman can sing multiple notes at the same time

Singer Anna-Maria Hefele as honed the art of what’s called polyphonic overtone signing—a skill that allows her to sing two notes at the same time. And these aren’t just two notes that move in parallel, like when you try to whistle and hum at the same time—Hefele can move the notes completely independent of each other.

It’s easiest heard listening on headphones as computer speakers can drop the high-range of some of her overtones, but if you’re listening on a laptop jump to 3:25 for a jaw-droppingly impressive run that comes through loud and clear.

h/t: iO9

25 Sep 00:18 Just Called Australia “The Dirtiest Country In The Developed World”

by Steph Harmon

Another day, another global humiliation.

Overnight, Slate’s emerging technology blog, Future Tense, published an article whose title will make your stomach clench up in a tiny little knot. ‘The Saudi Arabia of the South Pacific; How Australia became the dirtiest polluter in the developed world‘.

Written by Ariel Bogle and Will Oremus, the 1700-word piece reads like a comprehensive listing of everything that’s wrong with our climate policy, led by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and “a prime minister who once declared that ‘the climate argument is absolute crap.'”

The country’s landmark carbon tax has been repealed. The position of science minister has been eliminated. A man who warns of “global cooling” is now the country’s top business adviser. In November, Australia will host the G-20 economic summit; it plans to use its power as host to keep climate change off the official agenda.

And from there, it gets worse.

Two months after it struck down the carbon tax, the government forged a deal with a fringe party led by a mining tycoon to repeal a tax on mining profits. It appointed a noted climate-change skeptic—yes, another one—to review its renewable energy targets. Surprise: He’s expected to slash them. Independent modeling in a study commissioned by the Climate Institute, Australian Conservation Foundation, and WWF-Australia finds that the cuts to renewable energy won’t reduce Australians’ energy bills. They will, however, gift the country’s coal and gas industry another $8.8 billion U.S.

At a time when solar power is booming worldwide, sunny Australia is rolling back its state-level subsidies (despite domestic success) and canceling major solar projects. Meanwhile, the government has given the go-ahead to build the nation’s largest coal mine, with an eye toward boosting coal exports to India.

Did we mention that Australians’ per-capita carbon emissions are the highest of any major developed country in the world? Welcome to the Saudi Arabia of the South Pacific.

The authors go on to list the Great Barrier Reef dredge-‘n-dump, the government’s pledge to open the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area to commercial logging, and the destruction of the outback by the mining, nuclear and military industries. “‘Let’s see,’ Australian leaders must wake up wondering every morning: ‘What natural wonder could we trash today?'”

They pull out reams of quotes to highlight the Government and News Corp’s persistent campaign to “turn the public against environmental regulations with threats of economic doom”, and to “shake the public’s trust in climate science … by comparing environmentalists to religious kooks”. (For examples, see John Howard’s description of climate change action as “a substitute religion“, and this quote from Tony Abbott in 2010: “I am not as evangelical about this as Prime Minister Rudd is. I am not theological about this the way Prime Minister Rudd is.”)

Surprising nobody, it doesn’t end on a hopeful note. “If the Australian people cannot recover some of their earlier regard for their environment, they may find in time that their great land is no longer merely apathetic toward their residence there, but openly hostile.”

So yeah. Take that.

To read the full piece on Slate, head here.

To watch The Roast skewer Abbott’s climate policy and absence from the UN Climate Summit, press play:

Feature image of Sunday’s climate rally in Melbourne by Takver, under a Creative Commons license. This image was resized from the original.

23 Sep 14:39

21 Photos Of Nature Winning The Battle Against Civilization

by Lina D.

As solid and unshakable as we think our civilization is, its grip on nature is tenuous at best. If any cracks appear in the faces of our buildings or our machines, nature is quick to move in and take over. With this in mind, here are 21 photos of places and things that nature is in the process of reclaiming.

Quite a bit of thought has been given to the idea of what Earth might look like once we’re gone. Indeed, many books and TV shows on the topic have found that nature would take our places fairly quickly. Many cities would be re-colonized within a year or two, and many of our buildings would begin crumbling soon after without human maintenance or energy sources. The Life After People series on the History Channel has a comprehensive timeline of collapses detailing when various famous landmarks of human civilization throughout the world might give way to nature.

The Old Piano Tree, California


Image credits: Crackoala

Trees Winning Against Concrete In Hong Kong


Image credits: Romain JL

Abandoned Inner City Railway In Paris


Image credits:

Bicycle Eaten by A Tree On Vashon Island, Washington


Image credits: Ethan Welty

Abandoned Shopping Mall Taken Over By Fish In Bangkok


Image credits: Jesse Rockwell

Old Abandoned Mill In Sorrento, Italy


Image credits: Jason Wallace

Abandoned Ferris Wheel


Image credits: Kyle Telechan

Vintage Automobile Graveyard, Belgium


Image credits: Rosanne de Lange

Abandoned Mining Town, Namibia


Image credits: Marsel Van Oosten

Abandoned 160-Year-Old Railway In Paris


Image credits: Pierre Folk

102-Year-Old Abandoned Ship In Sydney, Australia


Image credits: AndyBrii

Tree Roots Overcoming Brick Sidewalk


Image credits: worldbeyondyourown


Image credits: Wei-Feng Xue

Abandoned Mansion Near Kilgarvan, Ireland


Image credits: Sam Abell

Abandoned Train Station In Abkhazia, Georgia


Image credits: Ilya Varlamov

I.M. Cooling Tower, Belgium


Image credits: brokenview

Abandoned Fishermen’s Town In Kamchatka, Russia


Image credits:

Angkor, Cambodia


Image credits: Pietro Bevilacqua


Image credits: Brad Grove

Abandoned Hotel Room


Image credits: Matthias Haker

The Radioactive Ghost City Of Pripyat, Ukraine


Image credits:

19 Sep 09:58

The Reykjavik Police Have An Instagram Full Of Puppies, Kittens And Ice Cream

by Dovas

Most police departments have a strenuous relationship with the people that they are charged to protect, but it doesn’t seem like that’s the case in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, judging by the good-looking officers and good times on their Instagram.

Obviously, their Instagram probably isn’t the best way to honestly gauge the Icelandic police force’s relationship with regular citizens, but they’ve still got one record to be proud of – their first-ever shooting death occurred in 2013, when they shot an armed man who had opened fire on two officers.

More info: Instagram | Facebook | (h/t: InsideLight)

























18 Sep 23:01

Here’s The Perfect Indie Soundtrack To The Scottish Referendum

by Alex McKinnon

Polling has closed in the Scottish independence referendum, and all throughout the day (our time) the would-be country’s 32 counties will be reporting results as they’re counted to see whether Scotland becomes the world’s newest nation and splits from the United Kingdom. As is mandatory in all democratic elections, ABC election analyst Antony Green has been awakened from his eternal slumber to provide thoughtful background analysis, live updates and a series of aesthetically-pleasing maps and graphs, although a plan to fly him over to Glasgow, get him drunk and unleash him on a touchscreen the size of a pool table sadly fell through.

The Scots are clearly giving 110% to become independent. #ScotlandDecides

— Prince Charles (@Charles_HRH) September 18, 2014

For more visually stimulating if less scientifically accurate info-porn, this Twitter Trendsmap showing the prevalance of ‘Yes’ and ‘No‘ tweets is a must. Besides clearly showing that Scottish people on Twitter are *way* more pro-independence than people who aren’t, a happy bug in the map lets you zoom out and see what people all over the world think of the referendum. Catalonia in Spain, a region with separation anxiety of its own, is particularly vocal in its support for the ‘Yes’ vote, while the east coast of the US is a bit more divided.

But while you’re gorging on all that sweet, sweet data, you’re going to need some good tunes that fit the theme, and thankfully Scotland has good music in spades. Music’s played a huge part in the referendum campaign; a bunch of big-name Scottish bands like Franz Ferdinand and Frightened Rabbit headlined a pro-Yes music festival earlier this week to get the youth vote out, and Scotland has patriotic songs bursting out of its ears even without a national election. While Scotland decides its future, here’s a playlist to keep you in the mood.

CHVRCHES — ‘The Mother We Share’/’Recover’

The Glasgow trio keeping their opinions on independence to themselves, but their Emotions-based brand of electro is perfect for rocky relationships and break-ups, which could come in handy later depending on which way you swing. ‘The Mother We Share’ is an important reminder of England and Scotland’s mutual heritage, while ‘Recover’ is going to be very relevant to everyone in the morning as they work off their post-election hangovers.

We Were Promised Jetpacks — ‘Quiet Little Voices’/’I Keep It Composed’

Scottish bands, no matter what genre, are extremely good at having Feelings, and no one has Feelings like Edinburgh rockers We Were Promised Jetpacks. Angst sounds especially authentic when it’s in a squeaky Scottish brogue and has some heavy guitars thrashing along in the background, so a WWPJ soundtrack will be crucial to whichever side ends up losing. As a bonus, they’ve just released a new single, ‘I Keep It Composed’, and have a new album in the works, so there’s plenty of loud insecurity to go around.

Frightened Rabbit — ‘The Loneliness & The Scream’/’Swim Until You Can’t See Land’

This is some Scottish-as-hell shit right here. Frightened Rabbit are probably the biggest practitioners of Scottish miserableism in existence, and definitely the best at turning mid-twenties disillusionment and anxiety into bangin’ tunes. They’ve been hugely supportive of the ‘Yes’ campaign and their songs are chock-full of references to things the Firth of Forth and the North Sea. ‘Swim Until You Can’t See Land’ might’ve been written for the hopes and fears swirling around the referendum, and is a massive hit besides.

Mogwai — ‘Take Me Somewhere Nice’/’I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead’

I wasn’t kidding about the Scottish-bands-have-Feelings thing. Mogwai is the soundtrack to staring glumly out a window, staring glumly at your cereal, staring glumly in the supermarket, or staring glumly at a snowy television while drinking something brown.

Franz Ferdinand — ‘Take Me Out’/’Do You Want To?’

Get it? ‘Take Me Out’ of this obsolete 307-year-old geopolitical union that no longer represents my country’s interests? Also, ‘Do You Want To’ stay in the union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland, or try and make our way in the world as a free and sovereign nation? That’s…that’s probably what these songs are about.

The Proclaimers — ‘500 Miles’/’I’m On My Way’

Besides being the most Scottish song to ever Scotch, this is kind of reminiscent of the “please baby don’t go I can change” pleas UK Prime Minister David Cameron and other English pro-unionists have begun resorting to in recent days. Hopefully, like the Proclaimers’ other big hit, Scotland is on its way from misery to happiness today, uh huh uh huh uh huh uh huh.

15 Sep 14:30

Confused about the Scotland vote? Let John Oliver explain

by Alex Moore
Confused about the Scotland vote? Let John Oliver explain

Scotland’s independence vote is coming up on Thursday, in which Scotland will decide whether to break away from Great Britain as an independent nation for the first time since 1707. We Americans are pretty confused about this since as John Oliver points out our primary Scottish association is “Braveheart,” and “nothing screams Scottish independence like a millionaire Australian anti-Semite on horseback.” So Oliver kindly gave explainer on “Last Week Tonight.”

Perhaps more interesting than the basic facts—Scotland wants independence because England is mean to them, England wants them to stay to hang on to some semblance of the British Empire—is the story around the dueling campaigns.

Funding the “No” vote is JK Rowling, with a campaign targeted at women who it suggests are too dumb to really grasp the importance of the vote and should therefore vote to keep things as they are. Funding the “Yes” vote are a pair of Scottish lottery winners who look like such rags-to-riches underdogs as to make JK Rowling look like the Evil Empire, pushing a platform of dignity and self-respect.

It’s not looking good for England, and even Oliver knows it. “In 1746 we banned the Kilt, just because we knew they liked it,” he says. Plus, the Scots sound kind of awesome: “When it came time to pick a national animal, they chose the unicorn.”

Bottom line, it sounds like the biggest practical challenge of independence will be that Scotland will have to transition from the pound to the euro, and that their key natural resource (oil) may dwindle to half over the next 25 years. Oliver makes it sound like independence is all but inevitable.

11 Sep 21:45

Artist fakes entire trip to Southeast Asia on Facebook

by Joe Veix
Artist fakes entire trip to Southeast Asia on Facebook

Zilla van den Born, an artist in Amsterdam, took a five-week trip through Southeast Asia. Like anyone else traveling, she kept her friends updated via Facebook, with the kind of cliche travel posts and photos you usually see on the site. The thing is, she never even went.

The artist faked the whole thing as a school project, staying home, and uploading Photoshopped images to the service. The work is part social media performance art, part travel by approximation.

artist fakes trip 585x351 Artist fakes entire trip to Southeast Asia on Facebook

According to van den Born, “I did this to show people that we filter and manipulate what we show on social media, and that we create an online world which reality can no longer meet.”

None of her friends caught on. This is in part because of her keen Photoshop skills, but it’s also partly because she didn’t deviate from anyone’s expectations. More than a few of her pictures weren’t even Photoshopped—like the Buddhist temple she visited above, and the sushi restaurant below. Both were in Amsterdam. She just uploaded them and let context do the rest.

artist fakes trip 2 Artist fakes entire trip to Southeast Asia on Facebook

Traveling in the age of social media means following a socially internalized set script: You post about buying tickets a month ahead of time; you take photos of the airport, your hotel and its view, yourself smiling at a few tourist hotspots, exotic food, small foreign children, and a sea at sunset. You discuss a local you met while waiting for the bus, who provided a cliche platitude that sounded wise because it was delivered in an unusual accent. You take one last snapshot of a plane wing at sunset. In a sense, largely due to social media, traveling has become an empty commodity, something merely to be posted and consumed.

“My goal was to prove how common and easy it is to distort reality,” van der Born elaborates. “Everybody knows that pictures of models are manipulated. But we often overlook the fact that we manipulate reality also in our own lives.”

Plus, faking a trip is cheaper than getting plane tickets.

11 Sep 23:57

You Need To Watch Maggie Gyllenhaal In ‘The Honourable Woman’

by Nic Holas

“Who do you trust?”

They’re the first four words of every episode of The Honourable Woman. You spend all eight episodes unable to answer the question.

Part family drama, part political thriller, and part spy game, this mini-series — which comes Foxtel’s BBC First on Monday night — might just be the pinnacle of short-form TV drama.

Played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, Baroness Nessa Stein is the lead character: a British-Israeli businesswoman who has just ascended to the House of Lords. When she’s not stomping the hallways of Parliament in her red cape, she’s the smooth-talking head of the Stein Group. The family business made its fortune arming Israel during the formation of the Jewish state. But Nessa’s in charge now, along with her brother Ephra (Andrew Buchan), and has peace in the Middle East in her sights.

Art Mirrors Life

The Honourable Woman aired in the UK in the midst of the recent flare-up between Israel and Palestine, with such good timing that you could be forgiven for casting a suspicious eye at BBC Two and Sundance Channel, who co-produced the series. While an understanding of the ongoing conflict is useful, it is by no means essential; like any truly riveting drama, the conflict here isn’t purely political. The series illuminates some factors of life in Israel and Palestine that no news cycle can humanise (soz, Fox News), and the personal dramas of the Stein family, despite their wealth and prestige, are universal: grief, filial responsibility, loyalty. tension and fidelity.

Gyllenhaal is perfect as Nessa Stein. Publicly composed, charming as hell behind a lectern, and completely unimpressed by male corporate bullies, she is the stuff protagonists are made of. In private though, when Nessa cries, you feel the pain of every contorted muscle in her face.

A refreshing contrast to Homeland‘s Carrie, Stein is a formidable, savvy leader, consciously using everything at her disposal to make good on the fact that her family’s fortune came at the expense of others’ lives.

Expertly crafted by writer/director Hugo Blick, female characters fiercely drive the drama of THW.  Running Thelma to Nessa’s Louise is Atika Halabi, the Stein family staffer of Palestinian origins. Played brilliantly by Lubna Azabal, Atika maintains a secretive connection between the Israeli businesswoman and the Palestinian nanny, which make the personal political, and vice versa.

But to reduce the political conflict to a tale of two women doesn’t do it justice. Early on, we learn that Nessa’s mantra is “We cannot be compromised”, and it is repeated to such a degree that you wonder just how compromised she will become to achieve her goal. As Blick points out, “You can’t observe something unobserved. You can’t do something without an effect.”

Observation is a recurring theme throughout THW. Circling (and at times intersecting) the Stein family drama is intelligence agency MI5, charged with keeping Nessa and her interests safe (or are they?). Stephen Rae gives one of the performances of his career as quintessentially British spy Hugh Hayden-Hoyle, slowly and methodically unpacking the numerous intrigues that surround the Steins. Meanwhile, his superior Dame Julia Walsh (Janet McTeer) has some of the best lines of the series and, along with upwardly mobile spy Monica Chatwin (Eve Best), continues THW praise-worthy depiction of women in power.

Monica Chatwin (Eve Best) and Julia Walsh (Janet McTeer)

Monica Chatwin (Eve Best) and Julia Walsh (Janet McTeer)

Part of what makes THW so wonderfully nail-biting is the knowledge that these eight episodes are all we get. There will be no “six seasons and a movie”; it’s a return to the classic BBC mini-series, married with the big budget and star power of HBO-style marquee TV.

With Blick, Gyllenhaal and the rest of the cast, you are in the hands of expert storytellers, with no time for THW to become stale or drawn out. Each episode is so thick with tension that the now-“old school” weekly serialisation is almost essential; anyone planning to binge-watch THW should ensure nearby heart medication and a support group. If the show were a movie, it couldn’t achieve this depth; and if it were a classic US 22 episode per season series, it would quickly lose its way. It’s a terrific example of dramatic economy, and restraint.

One day, when we look back at the moment that television stole the best writers and actors and left cinema for the likes of Michael Bay and some sass-mouthed pixels, I’d wager that The Honourable Woman would be a series we use as an example of why. It’s hard work, but rewarding; compelling and intriguing; and portrays (demands, even) an overdue respect for female characterisation. This writer hates you all for getting to watch it with fresh eyes.


The Honourable Woman premieres on Foxtel’s BBC First at 8.30pm, on Monday September 15.


Nic Holas has written for Hello Mr Magazine, Star Observer, The Needle Prick Project, and Cosmopolitan. You can find him on Twitter @nicheholas, or in his role as co-founder of HIV social umbrella The Institute of Many.

10 Sep 14:36

The Replacements make first TV appearance in 25 years on ‘The Tonight Show’

by Alex Moore
The Replacements make first TV appearance in 25 years on ‘The Tonight Show’

The Replacements were banned from NBC after a drunken “Saturday Night Live” performance in 1989. Like Elvis Costello, who was also banned for playing “Radio Radio” on “SNL” despite explicit orders not to, The Replacements seemed fine with it. They were already icons, and to the extent anyone noticed getting banned from NBC’s late-ngiht circuit only added to their credibility.

But like Elvis Costello they finally broke the NBC curse decades later with a “Tonight Show” appearance. The band showed up to play “Alex Chilton” on Tuesday. And they sounded great. Tighter than you remember them—the signature sloppiness is more refined these days. And Paul Westerberg hits every note just like it’s 1989 all over again. Watch below.

h/t: Stereogum

22 Jul 19:00

The Judgement of Paris

by Mallory Ortberg

The Judgement of Paris, as I assume you are aware, is one of the most popular and also the best themes in classical European painting, because it’s based on a legend where three supremely powerful goddesses asked a worthless male mortal to rank them in order of attractiveness in order to win a sculpture of a fruit. Which says so much in such a short amount of time about ancient Greek sexual politics, I think; Yes definitely the Queen of Heaven wants to know if some Trojan shepherd thinks she’s still hot.

(An aside: the correct thing to do when three murder-eyed, placid-lipped, notoriously temperamental immortals show up on your doorstep in the nude and ask you to rank them in order of beauty is to BEG OFF. “You’re all so lovely! I couldn’t possibly decide! Who am I, a mere mortal, to declare all three of you anything less than perfect? You’ll notice I sacrificed three flawless bulls to all of you this morning, please do not decimate my flocks or level my city, goodbye, worship you tomorrow.” NOT: “Sure, okay. Turn around, let me get the full picture.”)

Anyhow, it’s a great story, and pretty much every dude born between the years 1100 and 1850 with an ounce of sprezzatura and a brush tried his hand at painting it at least once. Recurring motifs include: Aphrodite’s son Eros hanging about her feet, sometimes shooting arrows; Hera’s companion the peacock; Athena’s war helmet; a smirking Hermes; ostentatious hats. Expect to see Hera turning away from the viewer and starting to put her robe back on in about a third of them, because Hera tires of losing quickly. Aphrodite will be naked 1000% of the time — occasionally she will have a useless gossamer string around her hips — and about a 50/50 chance of Hera and Athena being naked too.


hi hi hi
hi we noticed you had an apple there
why don’t you just give it to whichever one of us you think is the prettiest
no consequences or anything
just pick one


you wont get mad or anything
haha oh my god
mad about what?
like if i choose one of you
which you have to!!
yeah you have to do that
the other two wont get mad at me
no not at all
its totally objective
no repercussions at all
of any kind


so theres no catch
you keep asking us
so many questions
like about your personal safety
instead of just telling us which one of us is the prettiest once and for all


oh wow interesting choice
her hat has only one feather on it while other peoples hats have like five or six feathers
some people might say thats a little hasty, that maybe you didnt really get a good look at all the hats
but not me


i kind of cant move
well you dont need to move
you just need to pick
well let you get up after you pick


Okay, I don’t want to pass value judgments on other cultures, and also all beauty standards are oppressive, probably, but this particular beauty ideal is MESSED UP. “What makes a woman beautiful? A hat, a necklace, a horrifying smirk, and a neck that can bend 140 degrees.”


just let me hold it ok
ill give it right back

paris17oh look at that
your picking
youre making your pick
what a good idea!!!
you still have a minute to change your mind though
yeah if you want to change your mind you could still do that


oh wow look at that
im holding the golden apple of beauty
which i guess technically
and also officially
and also in every other sense
makes me the most beautiful


not so fast


oh fuck this im getting dressed 


oh sorry are we starting
did you pick someone already
hang on im fixing my shoe
i dont even notice how beautiful i am
which i guess is sort of attractive in its own awy, how much i dont even notice, im just carelessly but beautifully (i guess, i wouldnt know) fixing my shoe


are you mad
you look mad
why would i look mad
i dont know your face just looks mad
this isnt what my mad face looks like
ok good
youll know my mad face when you see it 


ahhh sorry ahaha this is so unexpected
i cant even believe it
my whole dress fell off is how surprising this is


you said no consequences right
you said i could just pick and then youd go home and it would be over
sorry i cant hear you with this helmet on
with this war helmet on

Read more The Judgement of Paris at The Toast.

05 Sep 22:00

Jemaine Clement's Vampire Mocumentary Is Coming to a Theater Near You

by Madeleine Davies

If you're still recovering from the emotional whiplash of thinking Flight of the Conchords was coming back, then being informed that no, it definitely isn't, look upon the trailer for Jemaine Clement's vampire mocumentary What We Do In the Shadows and be healed!


04 Sep 17:10

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds release feel-good song of the summer, ‘Give Us A Kiss’

by Alex Moore
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds release feel-good song of the summer, ‘Give Us A Kiss’

As summer officially ends and we begin yet another inexorable slide into the black, frozen heart of winter, it’s as good a time as any for a new song from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

Called “Give Us A Kiss,” the new tune is a previously unreleased song from the new documentary on the band, “20,000 Days On Earth.” While Cave does sound enthusiastic about the new film he sounds somewhat less effusive when it comes to its subject matter. Bashing Morrissey to Shortlist, he also managed to bash himself:

“He’s a great lyricist, but there’s a tone in his voice I find unlistenable. That kind of lugubrious tone. There’s the same tone in my voice actually and I find it equally unlistenable.”

If you’re a fan take a listen to “Give Us A Kiss” and see if you find it any more listenable than Cave. It’s actually quite beautiful and cinematic, if on the noirish side.

h/t: NME

21 Jul 17:00

I Told You The Purge II: Anarchy Was Going To Be Better Than The Purge And History Has Vindicated Me

by Mallory Ortberg

purgePreviously in Mallory Reviews Movies: Things That Actually Happened In The Movie Vampire Academy, A Movie That Is About An Academy For Vampires and Class Is 1000% Percent Better Than The Graduate And You Should Watch It Instead.

Of course The Purge II: Anarchy was going to be better than The Purge. “Fairly straightforward home invasion movie with psychopaths” doesn’t hold a purging CANDLE to “Escape From L.A. with machetes and roving machine gun trucks.” It took them a single calendar year to write, shoot, edit and release The Purge II: Anarchy, which is incredible, and I can only hope is the beginning of an annual summer tradition. I want to see The Purge: Revolution, followed by The Purge: The Hallowing, followed by The Purge: Purgatory: Hell On Earth. It is a perfect concept: one night a year, everyone in the world becomes a horrible murderer.

“But how is the Purge legally enforceable–”

“Wouldn’t the vast, vast majority of people just stay inside and not commit any crimes at all–”

“Why aren’t more people stealing cars and credit cards and whatnot, why is everyone bludgeoning strangers to death with tire chains–”

No. Stop it. Every year for one night everyone in the world becomes a horrible murderer. You can’t see The Purge with an attitude like that, man. And I don’t want you to tell me how The Purge is a perfect horror movie for our anxious, post-9/11 society, or gun culture, or Palestine, or that Santa Barbara guy, or anything else. The Purge II: Anarchy is a perfect movie for people who want to see a bunch of people try to murder each other for no good reason. Get busy purgin’ or get busy dying.

Some Stray Purging Thoughts

9. No, I haven’t seen Snowpiercer yet. I’m going to. It sounds really good. Or Boyhood. Look, I want people to think I’m smart just as much as the next blogger plagued with imposter syndrome, but I’m a simple woman, and what I really want most of the time to see a lot of people running around LA wearing Day of the Dead masks and brandishing giant, giant knives on skateboards.

8. Honestly, not enough people died in this movie. I don’t even mean the main characters, although I can think of two I would have really, really liked to have seen bite it at some point. I mean there weren’t enough ESTABLISHING THE TONE murders, where the main characters see someone brave or strong or armed to the teeth get really savagely taken out so they realize this year is even more serious than years past.



I mean, you see a guy like this roaming around in the back of a semi, you expect to see him murder a lot of people, right? Well, he only murdered some. It sucked.

7. Speaking of which — most of the Purgers are driving armored vehicles with mounted assault rifles (and in one very memorable instance, a dune buggy with a flamethrower attached to it), or at the VERY LEAST carrying machine guns and wearing bulletproof vests, except for ONE GUY whose only protection is a shoddily put-together doll’s mask, a skateboard, and a machete. THAT’S IT. He skateboards lazily throughout the entire movie, and no one shoots him even once, even though he is almost entirely defenseless against anything that’s not a dense hedgemaze. He’s just the slowly-rolling knife guy, and I love him. In my mind, his name is Timothy, and he’s getting his associate’s degree at Loyola Marymount.


6. The grandfather of one of the main characters slips away before the Purge starts, because he’s sold himself as a human target to a wealthy family in order to ensure his children’s well-being, so you know this movie has some pretty salient points to make about class warfare (the classes are at literal war with each other). Is there anything better than movie Rich People? They’re always wearing their school blazers and prep-school pins, even if they’re thirty years old, and the women are always dressed like Emily Gilmore. In my opinion, that is a great choice, but I really like to have things spelled out for me. Your mileage may etc.


This might be giving the Purgemakers a lot of credit they don’t deserve, but the marketing made it seem like most of the danger, Purge-wise, was going to be coming from roving bands of urban youths when it turns out that THE GOVERNMENT is behind most of the Purging (“You people just weren’t killing each other enough!”) and also rich people host Taken-style auctions on various lots of captured poor people, then hunt them for sport in a sculpture garden. Oh my God, and they keep fist-bumping each other, and the women are all in gowns and furs and the men are all in Downton Abbey-era hunting tweeds, because they’re hunting The Most Dangerous Game.

5. Matt Saracen from Friday Night Lights and, apparently, his wife in real life, play the sort of bougie white people one hopes either never to encounter or never to become, depending on one’s own ethnic situation. He wears a puffy vest and is strategically useless; she has very fussy bangs and does nothing but snipe at him at the worst possible time.


4. I wish there had been just one scene of some guy alone in his super-armored basement, gleefully committing securities fraud with impunity for twelve hours, but I guess you can’t have everything.

3. Frank Grillo plays basically The Punisher/Snake Plissken, which is incredible, and if Matt Saracen &co. represent white folks at our worst, Frank represents us at our imaginary best: he looks amazing in a trench coat, somehow his pompadour gets better with each fresh coating of blood, and he doesn’t have any feelings except for Revenge and Being In Charge Of The Situation and Get Down, You’re Going To Get Us All Killed.


2. This movie made me a sexist, because I am highly suggestible and also because I am a sucker for a Loner Who Walks Alone Gets Suckered Into Helping People narrative. I don’t care how overused it is, the second I see someone onscreen with a grizzled jaw and pain behind their silent eyes, I’m ready to offer them my sword and sit at their feet in quiet awe. So every time one of the NOISY, NO-SELF-PRESERVATION-INSTINCT-HAVING women questioned Frank Grillo’s plan, or whispered loudly “WHAT ARE YOU DOING” as he tried to sneak them past a flotilla of eye-stabbers, I was ready for him to cut them loose and leave them to die. But he didn’t, which was pretty nice of him.

1. When Matt Saracen gets shot — this is a movie about a world where crime is legal for one night, people get shot in this movie and I refuse to apologize for talking about it  — I said loudly to my companion, “Looks like it’s Friday Night Lights out for him,” and I have said it to myself several times thereafter, and I still think it is the funniest off-the-cuff remark I have ever made.

Read more I Told You The Purge II: Anarchy Was Going To Be Better Than The Purge And History Has Vindicated Me at The Toast.

03 Sep 15:37

TV on the Radio share new single, ‘Happy Idiot’

by Alex Moore
TV on the Radio share new single, ‘Happy Idiot’

TV on the Radio have shared comeback single “Happy Idiot” from their forthcoming record “Seeds,” their first in three years. Their last album “Nine Types of Light” was released just weeks before bassist Gerard Smith died of lung cancer at 36, dealing the band a devastating blow.

Who knows whether it’s because of that tragedy, but while most of “Nine Types of Light” sounded exalted and cheery, “Happy Idiot” is decidedly darker. The first lyrics are about being “stuck in the shade where there’s no sunshine.” “Seeds” is out November 10. It should be a good soundtrack for your cabin fever this winter.


04 Sep 04:00

News: Victoria Has Finally Implemented the Agent of Change Principle

by Mess+Noise

Victoria Has Finally Implemented the Agent of Change Principle

It took a 20,000-strong rally and 11 years of intense lobbying, but it looks like the “agent of change” principle has finally been implemented in Victoria.

The news was announced today by industry lobby group SLAM, who, along with Fair Go 4 Live Music, researcher Dr Kate Shaw and Music Victoria, have been instrumental in forcing this policy through. It effectively puts the onus for soundproofing on developers or residents that move within the vicinity of an established venue. In the past, inner-city venues were having to soundproof venues at their own considerable expense, following complaints from new residents. Read more about the agent of change principle here.

“Today is a very important day for live music in Victoria,” posted SLAM on Facebook. “Today the Agent of Change principle will be implemented. Once gazetted into Planning Policy, our loved venues and performance spaces will be protected from encroaching residential development.”

The agent of change principle has been implemented as part of a package of regulatory reforms designed by Planning Minister Matthew Guy in consultation with the music industry. It aims to provide increased protection to live music venues across planning, building, environment and liquor licensing portfolios. According to the new Department of Planning guidelines: “These regulatory reforms will address key challenges faced by the industry such as noise management, building standards, over-regulation and compliance which threaten the viability and growth of live music venues and the industry as a whole.”

The agent of change principle was floated way back in 2003, when a Live Music Taskforce was set up by former Labor minister Mary Delahunty to examine the relationship between established live music venues and nearby property owners and residents.

(From FasterLouder)

22 Jul 04:00

Tasty Tuesday · Nonna Corso’s Orecchiette with Broccolini, Parsley and Lemon

by Lisa


Lisa Marie Corso spent 20 odd years avoiding her Nonna’s ‘pasta broccoli’, but in her adult years, the subtle flavours of this traditional vegetarian pasta dish finally won her over!  Today Lisa shares her own modern take on this simple dish - Orecchiette with Broccolini, Parsley, Lemon and Parmigiano-Reggiano. – Lucy


Nonna Corso’s Orecchiette with broccolini, parsley and lemon. Recipe – Concetta Corso with Lisa Marie Corso. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Lucy Feagins, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull.

As an adult, I appreciate the benefits of my Italian heritage, and these benefits are 99% food related. However, as a child there was one traditional dish that was my kryptonite, and that dish was pasta broccoli. My former younger self firmly believed that pasta should only be served drenched in red sauce. Pasta with NO sauce seemed totally pointless.

Everyone in my family loves pasta broccoli, and as a child, I still remember vividly sitting at the dinner table, and thinking I had had some kind of culinary lobotomy. Why was everyone so enamoured with this simple dish of pasta and greens? Why had the hybrid English-Italian chit chat been put on pause while everyone shoveled this abomination down their throats in silence? And most importantly, would the diluted Cottee’s cordial my Nonna made me be strong enough to wash down every resistant mouthful I took?

I petitioned against pasta broccoli for years, then one day out of nowhere, as if my taste buds had been realigned, I felt a different emotion towards this dish. I was converted.

These days I love the understated flavours of pasta broccoli, it’s nowhere near as ‘stage mommy’ as its red sauce counterpart, and it’s much lighter on the tummy.  I also love that this was a traditional dish my Nonna used to eat on her farm in Calabria in the early 1940′s, and is now sharing with us.

Ingredients · SERVES 4

500g Orecchiette pasta
3 bunches broccolini (Or, 2 bunches broccolini, 1 bunch rapini)
1 bunch of parsley
1 clove garlic
1 fresh chilli Juice
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Salt and pepper
Olive oil


Nonna Corso’s Orecchiette with broccolini, parsley and lemon zest ingredients. Recipe – Concetta Corso with Lisa Marie Corso. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Lucy Feagins, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull.


This pasta dish is actually so easy to make it is a joke. Fill a big pot with water, and bring to the boil. Add a dollop of two of olive oil to the water and heaps of salt. Once water is rapidly boiling, add 500g Orecchiette pasta. Cook per instructions on the packet, remembering that you want it al dente, not mushy.

Fun bi-lingual fact: Orecchiette is called orecchiette because it looks like an ‘ear’. The Italian word for ear is orrechio. So if you’ve had a hard day at work, know that this pasta is a really good listener, it’s basically boyfriend material.

While the pasta is boiling, we get to the mean greens component of this dish. Firstly prep your ingredients, as this part is so super quick to cook, if you are cutting and cooking at the same time it will turn into a hot mess. Zest and juice one lemon, tear approx three handfuls of parsley, cut paper thin slices of garlic (use this as your reference for how paper thin), finely chop fresh chilli, and grate a 1/4 cup of fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano. Snap the ends of your broccolini bunch and cut the remaining stem in half.

We are now good to go, I suggest listening to this before you begin the next step for ultimate Italian kitchen vibes.

TDF TT nonnas_0339

‘Family photos of my Nonna’s father in unifrom the early 1920′s, my Nonna’s in-laws, wedding photos of her three children, school photos of us grand kids – only the good ones made it to the top of this cabinet!’ Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Lucy Feagins, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull.

Now, cover the base of a mid-sized fry pan with good quality olive oil and allow it to heat up. Once hot, add your garlic, fresh chilli, salt and cracked pepper to the oil and fry on a mid-heat. We are now flavouring the oil, the most important step as it informs the entire dish. The garlic slices should look slightly transparent, when they do add in the broccolini and fry all together.

As the broccolini starts turning into a more vibrant green, add in the lemon zest, remembering to season with salt and pepper as you go. While this is happening your pasta should have boiled. Strain the pasta and toss it into the fry pan with the broccolini. Fry together and add the juice of one lemon, and parsley, and cook until the broccolini is semi soft but not too soft. Take pasta off the heat and mix in the parmesan.

Assembling the dish, Nonna style

This is an old country style dish. Plating up has no fanfare. Just serve the pasta as is with some crunchy bread and antipasti on the side. My only kryptonite now is the garlic breath that ensues after eating this pasta broccoli.


No leftovers with this dish! Recipe – Concetta Corso with Lisa Marie Corso. Photo – Eve Wilson. Styling – Lucy Feagins, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull.
29 Aug 01:49

The Trailer For Jon Stewart’s Directorial Debut, ‘Rosewater’, Just Dropped

by Katie Booth

It was five years ago that Maziar Bahari was arrested and held in an Iranian prison for 118 days. During this time, the Iranian-Canadian journalist’s captors used a segment from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart — in which Bahari had appeared only a few days before his capture — as proof of his alleged “media espionage”.

This morning the first trailer for Stewart’s directorial debut, Rosewater, was released – it tells the story of Bahari’s interrogation and imprisonment while he was on assignment covering the 2009 Iranian elections.

Stewart wrote the screenplay – which was adapted from Bahari’s 2011 memoir, ‘Then They Came For Me’ – and directed the film during a 12-week break from his hosting duties, as John Oliver took over (and made such an impression that he soon landed his very own show, Last Week Tonight). The New York Times questioned whether this will be Stewart’s move into “serious film director”, and the trailer gives us a small glimpse into what that might look like.

The title of the film refers to Bahari’s recollection of his interrogators, who smelled of rosewater. When he appeared on The Daily Show after being released from prison, he joked with Stewart, saying he was imprisoned “because of you”.

So far Rosewater has received mixed reviews from press screenings, with The Hollywood Reporter noting: “If this very same film had been made by an unknown director, it would pass in the night with only scant notice”.

There’s also the issue of casting Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal to play an Iranian. Stewart said: “The one thing that I was really having trouble finding was someone who was able to have that distance, who, within the horror of what was happening to them, maintained a certain light. And when Gael came in to read, it was kind of immediate.”


Rosewater will be screened at the Telluride Film Festival and Toronto Film Festival before opening in the U.S on November 7.


27 Aug 22:00

This fat prairie dog stuck in a hole is all of us

by Joe Veix
This fat prairie dog stuck in a hole is all of us

A Russian couple was driving and came upon a fat prairie dog (specifically, a suslik) in the middle of the road, stuck in its own hole. Rather than running the poor thing over, the couple stopped and, using a towel, helped it out of its hole.

Unfortunately, it’s as antisocial as it is fat. It doesn’t want to be rescued, let alone touched. It just wants to be left alone, to sit in the quiet, comfortable misery it’s created for itself, and slowly die. This suslik is all of us.

h/t The Dodo

27 Aug 15:45

J Mascis plays cult leader in ‘Every Morning’ video featuring Fred Armisen

by Dan Turkel
J Mascis plays cult leader in ‘Every Morning’ video featuring Fred Armisen

J Mascis found fame as frontman of the indie rock staple Dinosaur Jr., but he’s been a formidable solo musician in his own right since way back in ’96. Now he’s back with another solo album, “Tied to a Star,” which came out just yesterday.

Today we get the Funny or Die-backed video for the single “Every Morning” which features Mascis as leader to “The Space Children of the Forest,” a cult which mysteriously disappeared. All that remains of the group is a video tape, “Cannibal Holocaust” style. The Shins’ frontman James Mercer plays a devotee while “SNL” veteran and “Portlandia” star Fred Armisen appears as a threatening external force.

Armisen is no stranger to the world music-related comedy. He starred in a Queens of the Stone Age promotion video to advertise their flash-drive album release, plus the “Sexiest Elbows in Rock Music” documentary for Split Single. And Mascis was no unlikely candidate for a funny video. He released a ridiculous interview as a trailer for the album, and Dinosaur Jr. had a Funny or Die video of their own for “Watch The Corners” back in 2012, starring Tim Heidecker as a frustrated cuckold.

Watch the “Every Morning” video below where Mascis and friends drink Kool-Aid, dance, and generally look like that scene from “Seconds,” and go buy “Tied to a Star” from Mascis’ website.

J Mascis – “Every Morning”

24 Aug 08:54

Big Bears Teaching Their Teddies How To Bear

by Lina

Momma bears are a fairly devoted bunch, and because bears are so incredibly cute, the moments they enjoy in the spring when raising their young cubs can be truly precious. That’s why we collected this list of 20 photos of adorable bear parenting moments.

During their hibernation, momma bears of various species lose as much as half of their body weight while their nursing cubs grow rapidly off of their milk. Some momma bears go so far as to consume their cubs’ waste – to keep the den clean and to recycle their lost nutrients. Once the bears end their hibernations, it’s time for the cubs to learn by example. Their mothers show them how to survive and the cubs do their best to keep up. After all, in 2-3 years, their mother will begin chasing them off to begin their own independent lives.


Image credits: Marco Mattiusi


Image credits: Edwin Kats


Image credits: Tin Man


Image credits: Anton Belovodchenko


Image credits: Gary Pollock


Image credits: Marina Cano


Image credits: Anton Belovodchenko


Image credits: Peter Stahl


Image credits: Marina Cano


Image credits: Anton Belovodchenko


Image credits: Nikolai Zinoviev


Image credits: Danilo Ernesto Melzi


Image credits: Marina Cano


Image credits: Sergei Gladyshev


Image credits: Nikolai Zinoviev


Image credits: Nikolai Zinoviev


Image credits: unknown


Image credits: Graham Erik Mandre


Image credits: trolljenta


Image credits: Sergei Gladyshev

Big Bears Teaching Their Teddies How To Bear originally appeared on Bored Panda on August 24, 2014.

10 Jul 19:53

Neko Case Did a Cool Feminist Anthem… About How Geek Shit Is All For Boys - Stop right there.

by Rebecca Pahle

Neko Case knows there are female superheroes, right? And that women and girls are actually a huge part of the geek sphere, and have been for decades? Please, someone, show her the light. Because her music video with Kelly Hogan for “These Aren’t the Droids” would’ve been really cool—Ellie Kemper is saved by science! Feminist utopia! That rocking Leia/Spock outfit! And it’s for charity!—if not for the part where geekery is explicitly stated as being the realm of immature manboys.

Ms. Case, it’s time:


(via io9)

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09 Jul 17:30

The Little Engine That Could: Female, and "Literally the First to Lean In!"

by Jia Tolentino
by Jia Tolentino

me no daysAt NPR:

Children who read the story may not think much about whether the little blue engine is male or female. But adults do. If you remember the story, three trains — all male — refuse to help the broken-down engine over the mountain. They are too important, too busy, or too tired to pull an engine full of toys. ("I won't carry the likes of you!" they said to the disappointed dolls and stuffed animals).

The little blue engine who (after significant cajoling) agrees to help is female — and also self-deprecating. "They only use me for switching trains in the yard. I have never been on the other side of the mountain," she protests.

And then the little engine just leans right in and does it: she disrupts the sluggish train economy and flawlessly executes a deliverables hack to the benefit of a group of young consumers a full century before Y Combinator. Francesco Sedita, president of the Penguin division that publishes this beloved children's book, calls the engine "literally the first to lean in! She really is the poster engine of the can-do attitude." I think I can, I think I can, I think I can lean back and fall down the mountain instead with the lazy boys, because I haven't gotten lunch yet and I'm hangry. [NPR]

20 Aug 00:39

We Spoke To Rob Sitch About ‘Utopia’, Satire, And How The Government Wastes Your Money

by Koren Helbig

Last week, our very own Nation Building Authority handed over a metric buttpile of cash for a new logo — only to immediately revert to old branding, amid claims the design was plagiarised. In the very same week, Junkee has learned bureaucrats from the new government office physically swapped laptops to read emails sent to one-another during an intranet outage.

Okay, so none of that stuff is real. But maybe I had you going there for a second? That’s the genius behind new political satire Utopia: it’s frighteningly close to the lumbering antics of our actual government.

Written and produced by Australian comedy legends Rob Sitch, Santo Cilauro and Tom Gleisner, the show is being hailed as the third part in an unofficial series by Working Dog, a production house formed in 1993. The trilogy began with legendary 1990s satire Frontline, which skewered current affairs “journalism” for its exploitative and shallow practices, before 2008’s The Hollowmen, which focused on the inner workings of the prime ministerial office.

Utopia, which premiered on the ABC last Wednesday, follows perpetually harassed office manager Tony (Sitch), and his team of mostly ham-fisted public servants, who make up the fictional Nation Building Authority. They spend millions on planning new roads, rail lines, airports and high-rise urban developments, while achieving almost nothing, constantly distracted by political machinations, and continually derailed by government liaison guy Jim (Anthony “Lehmo” Lehmann) and public relations whizz Rhonda (Kitty Flanagan), who are fixated on slogans and public opinion.

Visionary long-term plans driven by knee-jerk reactions and an obsession with tomorrow’s front page… Sound familiar?

A Series Inspired By Gluten-free Muffins

Needless to say, the everyday workings of Australia’s real-life government organisations provided an inspirational goldmine. While researching the show, Sitch and his team chatted to a bunch of people involved in the political process, from public servants to property developers, and unearthed some astonishingly absurd stories.

Like the government office that for months specially ordered in gluten-free muffins, before realising the employee that needed them had left; management promptly called a meeting on the important topic of whether gluten could therefore be removed from the blacklist. Let’s hope a Celiac didn’t start work the next day, sending the place into some sort of gluten death spiral.

Utopia started life as an examination of modern absurdities,” Sitch says. “Prosperous societies manage to find new and fresh ways of converting good intentions into amusing and unintended screw-ups all the time.”

Building A Nation… Of White Elephants

Utopia’s writers noticed “nation building” had worked its way into modern political lexicon, as politicians of all ilk repeatedly announced unplanned and uncosted yet wildly grandiose infrastructure projects, seemingly planned on the back of envelopes still stained with the residue of last night’s whisky lobotomy. (Think recent criticism by former government finance head Mike Keating of Tony Abbott’s extra $58 billion for projects that haven’t been properly costed. Also, maybe, the entire NBN.) Thus, Utopia and its entertaining exploration of well-designed white elephants was born.

Often, Sitch says, finding inspiration was as easy as picking up a newspaper. “It’s rarely one incident. It has to be something systemic – and you can pick that up from the front pages of the papers. The key is to match what people say and what people do. That’s probably the best bullshit detector of all.”

Utopia highlights how an obsession with image rather than substance can knee-cap otherwise worthwhile projects.  “Public life is marinated in marketing terms,” says Sitch. “Media management and marketing techniques used to be called propaganda. That term has a very troubling history over recent centuries, but now it seems to be a force unto itself …. like HAL in 2001 A Space Odyssey. The machine needs to be fed. Edward Snowden revealed many secrets, but possibly the most troubling one was that the ‘marketing’ no longer matches the truth.”

The Power Of Satire

For their impressive body of work, Sitch and fellow Working Dog creatives Tom Gleisner, Jane Kennedy, Santo Cilauro and Michael Hirsh were last week named among Australian television’s 75 most powerful people. Which made me wonder: does caustic comedy that highlights and ridicules the absurdity of real life actually have power, beyond entertainment?

“I find trying to make something good is still really difficult; I emerge from the process feeling anything but powerful!” Sitch says. “Producing change is multi-factorial. No one likes being made fun of, especially if it’s accurate. Personally I admire investigative journalists. That’s something that definitely works.”


Utopia screens on Wednesdays at 8.30pm, on the ABC — and the entire Frontline series was released for free last month on YouTube. You’re welcome.


Koren Helbig is an Australian freelance writer living in Spain. She has written for New Internationalist, Frankie, Kill Your Darlings and The Lifted Brow, blogs at The Little Green House, and tweets @KorenHelbig.

13 Aug 08:31

Artist 3D-Prints City-Shaped Shells For Hermit Crabs

by Dovilas

Japanese artist Aki Inomata has partnered with, of all things, hermit crabs, to create a brilliant architectural art project. Using a 3D printer, Inomata created clear plastic shells with cities on them that were then promptly inhabited by their new hermit crab residents.

Hermit crabs usually inhabit vacated snail shells, but in their absence, they’ve been known to inhabit pieces of wood, stone or plastic, so their “partnership” with Inomata isn’t all that strange. Instead of their usual shells, Inomata provided them with tiny works of art to carry on their backs. The series is aptly titled “Why Not Hand Over a ‘Shelter’ to Hermit Crabs?”

Check out the videos below, where you get to see how the shells were made and how the hermit crabs moved in to their new homes.

More info: (h/t: spoon-tamago)

New York City


Windmill landscape




Santorini, Greece


Port City





Why Not Hand Over a “Shelter” to Hermit Crabs?


Artist 3D-Prints City-Shaped Shells For Hermit Crabs originally appeared on Bored Panda on August 13, 2014.

14 Aug 21:10

Downton Abbey Forgot Water Bottles Didn't Exist in 1924

by Hillary Crosley

Downton Abbey Forgot Water Bottles Didn't Exist in 1924

"Guys, what year is it? I can’t tell because of my water bottle. Oh, it’s the 1920s? Crap." These are the thoughts of whomever left their plastic bottle behind during a Downton Abbey promotional shot of the Earl of Grantham and Lady Edith Crawley, according to the Daily Mail. Thank you silent stranger who didn't throw away their drink while their co-workers prepped to do the Charleston. You have made this rough day better, especially since plastic bottles didn't gain steam in the U.K. until the 1960s. Time travelers unite!


14 Aug 16:34

The Afghan Whigs cover The Police

by David Pescovitz

My pals in The Afghan Whigs transform The Police's "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" into a burning dark ballad dripping with soul. Read the rest

28 Jul 20:15

Stream Spoon’s new album, ‘They Want My Soul’

by Dan Turkel
Stream Spoon’s new album, ‘They Want My Soul’

The latest album from Austin-based indie rock staple Spoon is now available for streaming in full via iTunes Radio. Click right here to hear it (you might have to enable iTunes Radio if you haven’t already).

The 10-track record is Spoon’s eighth since they formed 21 years ago and put out the generally “ok” debut “Telephono.” The six that followed have been generally incredible, including the punk “A Series of Sneaks” and masterfully clever “Gimme Fiction.” The most recent, 2010’s “Transference,” was well-received and had a number of strong tracks (“Is Love Forever?” “Trouble Comes Running,” etc.) and fantastic, inventive production, but was missing some of that patented Spoon energy or the most part and comes in low in my personal ranking.

But, from the sounds of it, “They Want My Soul” is going to be killer. Frontman Britt Daniel’s time in the kraut-rocky Divine Fits with Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner seems to have reinvigorated Daniel’s sense of invention as the tracks on TWMS are fresh, poppy, and full of the life that “Transference” was missing. On first listen, “Do You” is a standout with near-twee backup vocals behind a charmingly abrasive chorus “Do you? / Do you? / Do you?”

High quality production has always been a part of Spoon’s pedigree and TWMS, produced by Joe Chiccarelli (The Shins, My Morning Jacket, Minus the Bear) and Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, MGMT, Tame Impala), is no exception. The band have come a long way from their early days and the record shows off a band matured, sure of themselves and capable. Of course, they were always willing and able to try new things, but tracks like “I Just Don’t Understand” (part my-baby-don’t-love-me-blues, part piano jazz courtesy of new keyboardist Alex Fischel) and “Rainy Taxi” (a moody five-minute almost-blues with a Spoon-y twist) show the band leaving what you might call their “comfort zone,” but without actually losing any comfort. On the other hand, tracks like opener “Rent I Pay” remind us of exactly what endeared us to the band so much as they definitively found their sound years ago.

Daniel admits that a blues influence is present, citing The Rolling Stones as a big influence, going through “a phase” with them before recording the album. And AC/DC too, though I can’t say I quite hear that influence as well.

But don’t just read my words about it, go listen to “They Want My Soul” right now on iTunes Radio. The album’s out August 5th on Loma Vista, Spoon’s first record on the label, and it’s available for pre-order in all sorts of bundles here. Plus, check out the videos below for “Do You” and “Rent I Pay,” the latter of which is supposedly “unofficial,” but comes straight from the band.

[h/t: Consequence of Sound | Image: Constant Artists

11 Aug 02:58

What Even Is Australian English? An Interview With The Editor Of The Macquarie Dictionary

by Chad Parkhill

Before the first edition of The Macquarie Dictionary was published in 1981, few Australians considered that the English they spoke was any different to British English – we might have different accents, sure, and a few colourful colloquialisms, but it’s fundamentally the same thing as the mother country’s mother tongue, isn’t it?

The Macquarie Dictionary completely transformed this understanding by comprehensively listing all of the peculiarities of our common dialect, and thereby arguing that Australian English is just as valid as American English or British English. Now in its sixth edition, The Macquarie Dictionary remains the standard reference dictionary for Australian publishers, writers, linguists, and word-nerds alike.

Susan Butler, Macquarie’s editor since the first edition, has just released The Aitch Factor: Adventures in Australian English, a collection of short essays covering the breadth and richness of Australian English. The book mixes Butler’s fascinating insights into our language, gleaned over decades of research, with personal anecdotes about the often-fraught nature of defining words and how we use them. (One particularly interesting chapter delves into the brouhaha that accompanied former prime minister Julia Gillard’s use of the word ‘misogyny’, and the gender politics of those who tried to argue that she should have used ‘sexism’ instead.)

Did you know that the pejorative ‘dropkick’ actually refers to the c-word, via the rhyming slang ‘dropkick and punt’? Or that the distinction between ‘licence’ with a c (noun) and ‘license’ with an s (verb) was not always so clear-cut? Or that ‘Beijing’ is correctly pronounced with a hard j, and anyone who softens it (bei-zhing) is incorrectly applying the Universal French Accent (the assumption that all foreign languages must follow similar pronunciation rules to French)?

We called Butler to chat about The Aitch Factor, and her own experiences in the trenches of lexicography. We also asked her for fifteen of her favourite ever words.



Junkee: What was the impetus for deciding, back in 1981, that Australian English needed its own dictionary?

Susan Butler: From the outset, Macquarie was always meant to be as complete a record as we could possibly make of our variety of English – of Australian English … There are many Englishes in the world: there’s English English, or British English, there’s American English, South African English, Singaporean English, Philippine English, and so on. Among those Englishes there is Australian English, which didn’t really have any proper account, any proper record, of what its characteristics were.

In those circumstances, communities can find it a little bit difficult to have a sense of what their English is, and certainly to believe in it – to believe it’s a legitimate form of English. If you go to Singapore, for instance, they’re always nervously wondering whether they’re speaking ‘proper’ English or Singlish – trying to hitch up their socks and pretend, as we used to do, that they speak British English. It’s amazing how a dictionary makes the variety of English visible to the speakers of that variety. It really just took the Macquarie to come out in 1981 for everyone to say, ‘Oh yes! That’s it! That’s Australian English!’, and relax about the whole situation.

There’s a moral dimension implicit in that – the question of legitimacy. Do you think that without the Macquarie, we’d still feel something of a cultural cringe, that Australian English isn’t necessarily legitimate?

I do, because I struggled with that all the way through. I used to have to go up to Brisbane [for work], so I’d routinely get taxis to the airport, and routinely answer the question of what I did – ‘Well, I work on a dictionary of Australian English’ – and routinely have to fend off responses like, ‘What’s that? We’ve only got a bit of slang, that’s all we’ve got, otherwise we speak British English, don’t we?’ It was really like that until the dictionary was published, and after that I realised I didn’t have to have those conversations any more – people just understood what I was talking about.

I remember taking the dictionary to a party with me, the advance copy from the printer. We’d worked on this thing, typesetting was hell, finally it went to the printer, and when the copy came back I looked at it and thought: I feel absolutely numb, I have no idea how to respond to this at all. So I took it to this party and passed it around, and within minutes people were saying, ‘Well, if it’s Australian English this word ought to be in there. Is it in there? Yes, it is! Okay, what’s the next one?’ Trying it out.

After a few minutes of nervousness, I relaxed and thought: yes, everything does seem to be in there. And people thought it was fantastic, they really warmed to it.

One of the things I discovered from The Aitch Factor is that you often have people contacting you, seeking legitimacy for a particular usage rule they adhere to, or asking you to adjudicate a dispute. Why do people have so much of their sense of self tied up in being a speaker of ‘proper’ or ‘correct’ English?

We grow up making important decisions about ourselves, about our hair, and our style of clothes, and also about the words we’re going to use: the expressions we’ll adopt as our favourite colloquialisms, the spellings we’ll adopt, and so on. This all gets worked through very solidly, through our childhood and our teens, and we emerge from that as competent – very competent, we would think – speakers and writers of Australian English. And we’ve invested quite a lot of effort into arriving at that; we think we know all about it, and we have an interest in it.

Nine times out of ten, our conclusions about language will match the conclusions reached by the rest of the community. But then on the tenth time, for some reason – some accident of childhood, or education, or personal history – we’ve ended out on a limb, making a decision that’s quite different from the rest of the community, and we’re quite unaware of it. We’re also unaware that, for a number of those other decisions in the ten, that other people have arrived at a variant form, which is still perfectly legitimate – just not the one that we decided to use. So there’s more complexity in the situation than we all realise, and every once in a while we find ourselves out on a limb, which is a bit difficult.

This anxiety is not restricted to the English language, but other languages avoid it by having a central authority that can determine what is ‘proper’ for that language. The Académie française, for example, is able to look at a situation and make a ruling about it, and from that moment on their decision becomes part of proper French. There is no such body for English – do you think that this is a bug, or a feature of our language?

Well, first of all, in this anti-authoritarian world, I don’t know that even the Académie has the power it once wielded – they may well make a ruling, but the French citizens will keep on doing what they’ve decided, collectively, to do, without paying much attention to that ruling.

Dictionaries once held that place in the past: they were once held as the arbiters of what is correct. My mother would have regarded her dictionary as telling her what is best in the language. But early in the 1900s, for the last hundred years, adult dictionaries have all aimed to be descriptive dictionaries, not prescriptive dictionaries. So dictionaries have all shifted to this ground where they try to describe, as well as they can, what’s happening – and that includes the attitudes, so it includes usage notes like, ‘While many people use “infamous” to mean “famous”, there’s quite a group in the community who don’t think that’s the right thing to do and will resist it’.

I think we all now try to get a feeling of what is correct from sources available to us – from dictionaries, style guides, and so on – but ultimately we all have to make some hard decisions for ourselves without that sense of certainty we once had.

Your commitment to being a descriptivist comes up a lot in The Aitch Factor – you’re more interested in how language is actually used than in telling people about how they ought to use it. This has led you to some fascinating conclusions – including a recommendation that we should ditch apostrophes entirely.

That was a bit tongue-in-cheek – I knew I could say that, secure in the understanding that for anyone to get a whole language community to shift on a major decision like that is well-nigh impossible … But I despair of the apostrophe constantly turning up in plurals, and being left out of possessives! It’s a weird situation where we don’t use it where we should, and we do use it where we shouldn’t.

This reminds me of hypercorrections – where people think they’re doing the right thing, but are being so rigid about a rule that they actually get it wrong. I’m thinking in particular of people who cling to ‘so-and-so and I’ in all circumstances, rather than saying ‘so-and-so and me’ when it’s appropriate.

It’s unfortunate that education seems to instil sensitivity, without necessarily equipping people with the right choice to follow the sensitivity. They know there’s a problem, and they know they have to pause here and think about it, that it’s not what they’d think about intuitively – so they go for the wrong decision.

It leads to some perverse outcomes – like people who are so confused about whether to use ‘I’ or ‘me’ in that circumstance that they fall back on the reflexive pronoun ‘myself’, which is horrible.

I think there’s two corrections going on here, one happening after the other.

‘Between you and I’ – because there’s a problem of definition and what form of the pronoun should follow, they go for ‘I’ thinking, ‘That took effort, therefore it must be right; I was going to go for “me”, but that’s too easy, too informal.’

Then, having gone for ‘I’, the other rule kicks in that you must never use ‘I’ because it looks as though you’re being egotistical and imposing yourself on other people, so they soften it by turning it into ‘myself’. Very complicated. If they’d just stuck to ‘between you and me’ in the first place they’d have been alright!

And grammatically correct.

And grammatically correct, yes!


15 Of Susan Butler’s Favourite Ever Words

Skedaddle: A sound-echoing-sense word where you can almost see the swerve in the exit movement from the extra kick of speed.

Fossick: An old-fashioned word from British dialect. Many Australian words which are common, mainstream items for us have their origins in the British dialects of the convicts and settlers who came to the colony.  This one has the –ick ending which indicates a repetitive action, while the foss- is a variant of fuss.

Pellucid: A favourite poetic word from the Latin pellucidus which breaks up into the intensifying suffix per- (becoming pel-) and lucidus meaning ‘clear’.

Dining boom: A clever coinage. After the mining boom Australia will rely for exports on the dining boom, that is, the demand for quality foodstuffs for the burgeoning middle class in China.

Muffin top: A favourite in the first Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year held in 2006, being chosen both by the committee and the popular vote.  The image of the fat spilling out over the top of the tight jeans is so much like the muffin spilling over the cake holder.  Very amusing, and an Australianism which we gave to the world.

Googleganger: Everyone did it – although we might be more relaxed about it now. Everyone put their name into the search on Google to see what would turn up, and discovered that others with their name were living varied lives out there.

Brekkie: My favourite meal of the day and a delightful hypocorism – that is, a word shortened with the –ie ending so favoured by Australians.

Snottygobbles: A colonial word written up in all seriousness in the reference books, but sounding to me very much like a child’s word. Snottygobbles are the fruit of an acacia bush that grows in the outback. Very sticky seeds.

Groodle: My son has one. One of the poodle crossed that we first noticed with the labradoodle. This one is a golden retriever plus poodle. Very cute.

Lugubrious: I described a very dark chocolate mud cake as ‘lugubrious’ and realised that I was quite fond of the word. From the Latin lugubris meaning ‘mournful’, that is, to do with mourning rites, particularly mourning garments.

Grumpy: Ultimately it comes from a Scottish word for the sound that pig makes when it is annoyed. From there it is associated frequently with old men who make a similar grunting noise when irritated. For all of us it can mean to be generally out of sorts. It is something that people point out in others which, surprisingly, makes them even more irritated.

Boofhead: A word I like in its own right, coming as it does from bufflehead which means ‘having a head like a buffalo’.  Buffle is French for ‘buffalo’.  But a discussion on TV of boofhead, which seems to range in force from affectionately mild to mildly offensive, led me to remark that taboos changed, and that these days you would get into more trouble saying someone was fat than saying that they were a fuckwit. I think the alliteration appealed to me at the time. For more on this go here.

Perspicacious: It sounds so sharp, so discerning. You can see the pursed lips, the glint in the eye. I would like to be described as perspicacious, but sadly I don’t think it is the first adjective that would come to mind.

Misogyny: This proved to be such a learning experience for us all back in 2012, that words can shift in meaning. Of course there were those who didn’t want to acknowledge the shift, which is when linguistic pedantry teamed up with conservative politics.

Shibboleth: This is such a linguist’s word. In the book of Judges in the Old Testament, the judge Jephthah used shibboleth as a word to distinguish the Ephraimites (who were on the run from him) from his own men, the Gileadites.  The Gileadites could say the initial sh, the Ephraimites couldn’t. And so it becomes anything that sorts the sheep from the goats, the in group from the out group. The way you wear your hair, the way you say hello, whether you use a split infinitive or not, or, even worse, say ‘youse’ or not.


The Aitch Factor is out now through Pan Macmillan. Find out more about it here.


Chad Parkhill is a Melbourne-based cultural critic whose work has appeared in The AustralianThe Lifted BrowKillingsMeanjin, and The Quietus, amongst others. He tweets @ChadParkhill