2023-02-17So Popbitch (a very catty UK media gossip newsletter) reports that Fred Again’s people have been trying to keep the fact that he is minor gentry out of his Wikipedia article. Fair enough. I understood his story to go as follows: young South London guy makes poppy dance songs during the pandemic, goes viral, becomes instant stadium-packing act once the restrictions lift, and boy he just can’t believe his luck. Shucks!
2023-02-15Well, we moved to Germany (we know!), so I’ve been correcting some of my gaps in recent German history by reading the lengthy Wikipedia page on German reunification. In terms of online life, that’s the only real giveaway that I’ve moved in the real world. The rest of the anglophone media roar rolls along as before with two notable edits. I’ve completely cut out the very high volume Westminster insider newsletter I used to read first thing every morning (why?
2022-11-07First off, here’s a DJ set I liked. Right now a lot of people are talking about leaving Twitter (here’s mine). Many of those that go ahead with it and turning up in Mastodon (here’s mine) and talking a big game about how the collapse of Twitter will beget a golden age for the decentralised internet. That’s nice. I don’t believe it’s really going to be that simple, though. On the topic of decentralised internet things: the FBI seized the Z-lib ebook archive!
2022-10-07First I have a whole collection of maps. There’s a map to show where in the world Wikipedia edits are coming from. There’s a map that shows all the different kinds of planning boundaries that overlap the in Britain. There’s an incredibly detailed weather map. Finally, here’s a whole series of maps that examine how much various governments fudged their COVID-19 infection, hospitalisation, and mortality rates. There are a couple of websites about making websites to share.
2022-08-24First I have this amazing oral history of the production of certain aspects of the video game Red Alert 3. Specifically the story is about how this incredible cut scene, starring Tim Curry as a high camp Soviet general blasting off into space, came to be. It’s astonishingly detailed and manages to go far beyond “pretty funny clip”. It talks about how casting and producing these little fragments of video for video games works.
James IV arrived in Edinburgh, and came to Holyrood Palace by 18 November, where on 22 November he rewarded a man who had brought animals with 20 gold crowns, these animals had been with the African women, the “More lasses”, at Inverkeithing. They included a Portuguese horse with a red tail, and a civet or “must cat”. On 26 November he gave the woman who brought the “More lasses” from Fife 4 shillings. On 27 November James IV ordered that two suspected plague victims, who had been excluded from Dunfermline town, should have 14 shillings.
— Ellen More, Wikipedia
2020-11-22In East Dulwich there is a Pellatt Road. I still don’t know how to pronounce it; a simple “pellet” seems most statesmanly. I’ve wondered where that name came from. It struck me as a person’s name, probably. I started looking, and found an MP for Southwark who died a little before a plot called Friern Farm near the village of Dulwich in Surrey was bought up and replaced with a tidy horseshoe of early Victorian streets, one of which was named Pellatt Road.
The New York Public Library archives
But the real gem of the library, in Lannon’s view, is the stuff that you can find only in boxes like the ones now strewn across the table. “You can get a book anywhere,” he said. “An archive exists in one location.” The room we’re standing in is the only place that you can read, say, the week’s worth of journal entries in which New York Times editor Abe Rosenthal contemplates publishing the Pentagon Papers. It’s the only place where you can read the collected papers of Robert Moses, or a letter T.S. Eliot wrote about Ulysses to James Joyce’s Paris publisher, Sylvia Beach.
These collections aren’t digitized. The only way to find out what’s inside them is to ask for a particular box — often with just a vague notion of what will be in it — and to hold the old papers in your hands. “I don’t know how one could be interested in libraries and not archives,” Lannon told me. They tell you “the stories behind things,” he said, “the unpublished, the hard to find, the true story.” This, I began to see, is why someone might have been inclined to call Lannon the most interesting man in the world: it’s because he knows so many of these stories himself, including stories that no one else knows, because they are only told here.
That is the paradox of being an archivist. The reason an archivist should know something, Lannon said, is to help others to know it. But it’s not really the archivist’s place to impose his knowledge on anyone else. Indeed, if the field could be said to have a creed, it’s that archivists aren’t there to tell you what’s important. Historically momentous documents are to be left in folders next to the trivial and the mundane — because who’s to say what’s actually mundane or not?
— Keepers of the Secrets, James Somers in The Village Voice
Why is there a cluster of tall buildings in the City of London?
At present more than 60 City buildings exceed 75m in height and nine exceed 150m. Several more are on the drawing board. Most of the new batch are located inside an approximate triangle bounded by Liverpool Street station, Fenchurch Street station and Leadenhall Market. None are targeted for the western half of the City, nor anywhere near the river.
— Why is there a cluster of tall buildings in the City of London?, in Diamond Geezer
2020-10-12I read The History of the Bible this weekend and enjoyed it a lot. I have a little collection of books about theology now, not because of any interest in faith but because I think it’s an interesting vein of history and culture. The bible is so often quoted, wittingly or unwittingly, in popular culture and everyday speech. Here are some good excerpts from the book. The first I’ve included because I like the readings of the Old Testament that give God a personality.