Interesting and inspiring from week beginning 10 September, 2016


This article from National Geographic digs into something a lot of us already suspect: nature does great stuff to the brain.

nature works primarily by lowering stress. Compared with people who have lousy window views, those who can see trees and grass have been shown to recover faster in hospitals, perform better in school, and even display less violent behavior in neighborhoods where it’s common. Such results jibe with experimental studies of the central nervous system. Measurements of stress hormones, respiration, heart rate, and sweating suggest that short doses of nature—or even pictures of the natural world—can calm people down and sharpen their performance.

Of all the U.S. political articles I’ve read recently, this is the one that’s stuck in my head, and not just for the cameo from Anthony Bourdain.

And this one comes a close second: and explanation of how one 19-Year-Old Illinois man is distorting national polling averages (and a good reminder of how little you can trust statistics).

Adam Curtis is back. His new documentary Hypernormalisation premieres on iPlayer this weekend.

2016 in Screencaps: Sitting Target (1972)

2016 in Screencaps is me capturing the most striking images from the films I watch this year. Mostly older movies watched on a small(ish) screen.

The last of my picks from Ben Wheatley’s ‘Best of British’ list, this is Oliver Reed and (a very young) Ian McShane playing escaped convicts on the hunt for the wife of Reed’s character who has cheated on him.

Possibly one of the ugliest, most misogynistic films I’ve watched but not without its charms nevertheless. The prison break is really nicely done, Clapham Junction pops up quite a bit, Battersea Power Station (complete with smoking chimneys) has a nice role, and there’s a real delicate touch to Douglas Hickox’ direction (Hickox also directed Theatre of Blood, Zulu Dawn, and Brannigan).

McShane’s performance is remarkably creepy. Turns out Lovejoy does good sociopath, almost too good. And there’s even a walk on part for June’ Dot from Eastenders’ Brown.
















I lapsed

My first real blog lapse since I started to publish every day: about two weeks of silence.

What happened? Mainly work. Work happened. I hit a busy period which meant a few late nights and even a weekend in the office, and everything else had to go on hold.

At least it wasn’t apathy or forgetfulness.

So picking it up again now with a couple of regular posts… Stay tuned.

The web of beige

I wrote a work thing for Venture Beat. It’s about our efforts to personalise digital experiences and how that might be having the opposite effect. 

“In our attempt to engage everyone individually we are unwittingly creating a beige web, a homogenous echo chamber that is aesthetically and tonally normalized. And so we have to ask ourselves the question: when did personalization become so important? Who asked us for an individual experience? When did this become our mission?”

Interesting and inspiring from week beginning 19 September, 2016

I love a juicy bit of fashion world insight (Dior & I is one of my favourite docs of the past few years, and the recent TV two-parter on British Vogue was good too), so this long read on how fashion forecasting works is like catnip to me.

Great news: It’s been confirmed that there are still plans to make a companion TV series to the upcoming Dark Tower TV film, that will fill in some blanks from the movie.

This article over on Medium compares what it’s like to ride a bike in Tokyo, San Francisco, London, New Delhi, Shanghai and Kabul.

Has Donald Trump made the NY Times abandon years of balanced ‘he said, she said’ journalism?

Someone has uploaded the entire broadcast of the July 12, 1979, baseball double-header between the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers, better known to as ‘Disco Demolition Night’. You can skip past the first hour or so, but the rest is an incredible (and weirdly Trump-ian) historical document.

You know what kind of beer I like? I like cold beer

I will watch, read or listen to anything Anthony Bourdain does. He’s seemingly one of those rare, utterly genuine people that becomes ‘famous’ (or a ‘personality’) every now and again, as his recent Reddit AMA demonstrates…

What food trend do you want to see die quickly?

“I would like to see the pumpkin spice craze drowned in its own blood. Quickly. Juice – I don’t understand the juice cleanse. I mean, if you’ve ever had a colonoscopy, the doctor gives you something that will cleanse you right quick, so I don’t really understand juice cleanses. I believe celiac disease is a very serious ailment, and if you’re diagnosed with it, I’m pleased that there are now gluten-free options, but these people who are treating gluten as, you know, an equivalent of Al Qaeda are worrying to me. So, I’m uneasy about that.

Also, overuse of the word “artisanal”. You know, an artisanal potato chip? What does that mean other than it’s an expensive potato chip? Oh, I’m also no big fan of the judgmental barista and beer nerds. I mean, I like a good craft, but don’t make me feel bad about my beer choices. You know what kind of beer I like? I like cold beer.”

Interesting and inspiring from week beginning 12 September, 2016

in these times – the Kardashian age of the Relentless Selfie – the choice to document this process still appeared to be an utterly selfless act.

Phew, this article by Amanda Palmer about her admiration for Nick Cave, his way of creating art and dealing with grief is just superb, and taps into all the stuff I’ve been thinking about recently about modes of expression in what Palmer calls “the age of perfect-image-posturing”.

Another favourite quote:

“…but then again, look at Nick. He ignores all that and simply puts it out there, too preoccupied with being authentically in the moment of expression to give a single fuck.”

Elsewhere, It’s Nice That interviews Nina Manandhar about the What Soho Wore exhibition she has curated for The Photographers Gallery. Some amazing images in here.

The New York Times kicks back at the Oppressive Gospel of Minimalism: “Whiteness, in a literal sense, is good. Mess, heterogeneity, is bad.” Incidentally, one of the reasons I like watching Casey Neistat’s stuff is his lack of respect for the minimalist, ‘box fresh’ aesthetic.

And, finally, I don’t tend to watch a lot of TED talks, but this one on block chain is very good. It explains the technology and its potential applications in the clearest way I’ve seen so far.

Another occassional musical interlude

Time to recap a few recent audio highlights.

It is the twentieth anniversary of DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing this year. That record means an awful lot to me, and I’d probably put it in my top three records of all time list, so I’m pretty excited about Endtrospective a six LP (six!) reissue that includes a whole host of guest remixes, including this fantastic version of Stem by Clams Casino:

Friends have been telling me to listen to Pye Corner Audio for years now, but Martin Jenkins’ work hasn’t really clicked with me until this new album, Stasis, which is very cinematic and synthy but just the right side of nostalgic. Great commute/headphone listening:

The front cover of Tycho’s last album has been my desktop wallpaper for a couple of years now, and that album (Awake) was one of my favourites of 2014. Now he’s back with a new single which makes me equally excited for the new album due out later his year:

Finally this week, a bit of Robyn, because who doesn’t love a bit of Robyn: