The Community Weblog. In byte-sized chunks.

Do you think I should confess? To what? Committing masterpieces?

Ladies and gentleman, by way of introduction, this is a film about trickery, fraud, about lies. Tell it by the fireside or in a marketplace or in a movie, almost any story is almost certainly some kind of lie. But not this time. This is a promise. For the next hour, everything you hear from us is really true and based on solid fact.
Orson Welles' cinematic confidence scam, F for Fake, gets a new two disc Blu-Ray Criterion Collection release this year. Ben Sampson offers a visual analysis in two parts, breaking down the film's layers of paradoxes.

As for the film itself... Welles begins by picking up the pieces of a project by Francois Reichenbach, examining the infamous art forger Elmyr de Hory, only to find Clifford Irving in his entourage. Irving, of course, was already planning his own titanic fraud, a fake biography of Howard Hughes. This sends Welles on a seventy-seven minute odyssey into the nature of fakes and of trickery, even revisiting Welles' own "War of the Worlds" hoax. It's an elaborate fun house mirror of a film, ruminating on art and fakery.

Check out the restoration of Welles' own never-used original trailer.

The re-release is also available streaming on Hulu Plus or in an older release (with Spanish subtitles) on YouTube.


Smells like....cold fusion?

A man who was completely paralysed from the waist down can walk again after a British-funded surgical breakthrough which offers hope to millions of people who are disabled by spinal cord injuries. Polish surgeons used nerve-supporting cells from the nose of Darek Fidyka, a Bulgarian man who was injured four years ago, to provide pathways along which the broken tissue was able to grow (Guardian report).

The BBC will air a Panorama episode tonight reporting the claim. They also have an article highlighting some of the people involved.

NHS Behind the Headlines has a slightly less breathless take.

The news was widely reported by both the UK and international media. Coverage was accurate, if uncritical. The lead author's claim that this research was "more impressive than man walking on the moon" seems to have been accepted without question by the media.
However, other experts are less impressed. For example, Dr Simone Di Giovanni, Chair in Restorative Neuroscience at Imperial College London, is reported by the Science Media Centre as saying, "One case of a patient improving neurological impairment after spinal cord knife injury following nerve and olfactory cell transplantation is simply anecdotal. "Extreme caution should be used when communicating these findings to the public, in order not to elicit false expectations...'

The research paper in question is open access, for those who wish to make up their own mind.

Artists Report Back

What is a work of art in the age of $120,000 art degrees? A new report (PDF) by activist collective BFAMFAPhD laments the shrinking job prospects and growing debt burden for art school graduates.

Among their findings:

A breakdown of the results at Hyperallergic: Indicting Higher Education in the Arts and Beyond

Bill Cosby/Hannibal Buress

Hannibal Buress called out Bill Cosby for the sexual abuse charges against him onstage in Philly recently: "Thirteen? And it's even worse because Bill Cosby has the fucking smuggest old black man public persona that I hate. Pull your pants up, black people. I was on TV in the '80s. I can talk down to you because I had a successful sitcom. Yeah, but you raped women, Bill Cosby. So, brings you down a couple notches. I don't curse on stage. Well, yeah, you're a rapist, so, I'll take you sayin' lots of motherfuckers on Bill Cosby: Himself if you weren't a rapist. ...I want to just at least make it weird for you to watch Cosby Show reruns. ...I've done this bit on stage, and people don't believe. People think I'm making it up. ...That shit is upsetting. If you didn't know about it, trust me. You leave here and Google 'Bill Cosby rape.' It's not funny. That shit has more results than Hannibal Buress." Timeline of Abuse Charges. (TW: Sexual Abuse)

Nothing has ever been this Internet before.

Bijin&Co. are a modeling agency with a unique solution to the two-pronged need of attracting new models and figuring out which ones are the most popular with the public: put a pretty lady clock on the Internet.

The bijin-tokei, or "Beauty Clock", consists of about a dozen pictures of casually dressed female models in public spaces, holding slates which display the time. Every minute both the models and the time update. With no ads (and nearly all text in Japanese) it's an oddly straightforward, even slightly meditative, experience.

If that doesn't do it for you, don't fret, becuase Bijin&Co. didn't stop there. There's also a "Handsome Man Clock" available to meet your "hey handsome guy do you know what time it is?" needs (though be prepared for far fewer models).


Get paid for busy work, get the real work done while fooling around

"Probably more inhibiting than anything else is a feeling of responsibility. The great ideas of the ages have come from people who weren't paid to have great ideas, but were paid to be teachers or patent clerks or petty officials, or were not paid at all. The great ideas came as side issues." Isaac Asimov Mulls "How Do People Get New Ideas?"

A recently-published essay on creativity by Asimov commissioned by ARPA, the precursor to today's infamous DARPA. Gizmodo also has a small reflection on the piece.

"Can I do anything to help?" - "Trade kids with me."

By Noon They'd Both Be In Heaven By Hanna Rosin
KELLI STAPLETON, whose teenage daughter was autistic and prone to violent rages, had come to fear for her life. So she made a decision that perhaps only she could justify.

O, that has such gTLDs in't!

gTLDs previously.

Do you fold it or wad it?

Buzzfeed conducted a(n unscientific) poll of over 300,000 readers on their bathroom habits. Some startling findings: most people pee in the shower, some people take their pants and/or their shirt off to poop, and 21% of respondents have their toilet paper facing the wrong way. The gulf between sitters and standers is widening, and the sitters contingent is winning. (Previously on sitters vs. standers.)

If you use the men's room, it's a good idea to know the etiquette (hint: no talking!). You should also know the best way to pee into a urinal to prevent splashback. Do men use the fly in their underwear, or do they pull the waistband down to pee? An intrepid metafilter user asked this question in 2006 and received 165 answers.

Should you pee in the shower? Many people are okay with this because they believe that urine is sterile, but they're wrong. Nevertheless, The University of East Anglia has started a campaign to encourage students to do so to save water.

Do you use your phone in the toilet? The Buzzfeed survey indicates that this behavior is on the rise; there's a 9 percentage point increase in texting over this 2012 study. This may be why your cell phone has more germs than a toilet seat. Germs are primarily spread through improper handwashing; only 5% wash hands properly according to a study at Michigan State University. In case you don't know how, here are the CDC guidelines.

Should you hover over the toilet or cover the seat? (Answer: sit the fuck down, princess.)

Afraid to poop in public? Jezebel addresses some methods for doing it steathily.

How do toilets work, anyway? How do you use the toilets in Europe? (Why do Germans like to look at their poop?) How do you use the toilets in India, or other places that use pit/squat toilets? Have a look at some other toilets around the world. The Numi by Kohler, at $6400, is the most expensive toilet available to the consumer (previously), while Toto washlets are a mefi favorite. Bidets are better than toilet paper for the environment, while wet wipes are terrible for the sewer system.

Happy pooping!

'write it on a piece of paper and stick it through a letterbox'

Central to this inheritance for the Liberal Democrats was the role of leaflets. If one image can sum up the approach to campaigning taken by the Liberal Democrats across twenty-five years, it would be a piece of paper on a doormat emblazoned with a bar chart and a headline screaming that 'Only the local Liberal Democrat can beat Party X round here'.
Mark Pack takes a long, indepth look at Liberal Democrat electoral campaigning and its history. Surprisingly interesting even for non-wonks.

Unique taste — and the capacity to avoid the basic — is a privilege.

'She (and it is always a she) cherishes uninspired brands — a mix of Target products, Ugg boots over leggings, and Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes (the ultimate signifier of basicness) — and lives a banal existence, obsessed with Instagramming photos of things that themselves betray their basicness (other basic friends, pumpkin patches, falling leaves), tagging them #blessed and #thankful, and then reposting them to the basic breeding grounds of Facebook and Pinterest.' Anne Helen Petersen on why 'basic' is just another word for class anxiety. [Single link Buzzfeed]

Anne Helen Petersen previously on Metafilter.

life is short. fly to mars

i build rocket in my back garden for 10 year
i build rocket from spare car part and old nuclear facility
in month of march i buy 10,000 of my favourite protein bar
in month of april i launch rocket with me in it towards planet mars
now i am on mars

Evghenia is on Mars. She has enough water to survive for another two hundred and eighty days. In the meantime, she reminisces about her favorite and least favorite things on earth, comments on the space-speculation of poets Bowie and Elton, writes about her heroes, and criticizes Elon Musk and NASA and all the many people who have failed to be on Mars first. (She is understandably proud of her significant accomplishment.) She also writes about goatbot, who she built herself and who is her only friend, and occasionally tells jokes and sings songs and reminisces about her past and present. Definitely a Twitter account worth following.

The sound of space

like sitting on a back porch in Tennesse in mid-July Space is a vacuum, but there is still "sound" in the form of electromagnetic waves. These recordings, taken from various sources, capture the electromagnetic sounds from 20-20,000 HZ--the range of human hearing

The Phantasmagoric Work of Mr. Gober

Robert Gober's 40-year survey "The Heart is Not a Metaphor" is now on view at the MoMA, and it's a fantastic freakin' spectacle to the eye.


On Gottland

Gottland is not a novel, but that proves difficult to remember. The book, playfully subtitled Mostly True Stories from Half of Czechoslovakia, is technically a work of reportage, and its author, Mariusz Szczygieł, one of Poland's best-known journalists. Most of Gottland's tales, however, seem better suited to Soviet science fiction—or even Russian absurdism—than to actual European history. Szczygieł, aware of his essays' incredibility, alludes to it not only in Gottland's subtitle but also in a more blatant disclaimer to his readers: "From here on, most of what we know . . . should be labeled with the first sentence from Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five, which goes: 'All this happened, more or less.'"

When you meet a stranger, look at his shoes.

The Rise Of Men's British-Made Shoes

The most famous Northampton technique is the 'Goodyear welted' shoe. Invented in 1869 by Charles Goodyear, Jr., the Goodyear welted process is the footwear equivalent of the off-side rule: until somebody sits you down and talks you through it, it's quite hard to understand.

The process involves approximately 75 components and 200 separate operations. On average, the whole process, from start to finish, takes eight weeks to complete. The main benefit of footwear that is made using Goodyear welted construction is that it can be resoled repeatedly, giving the shoe a longer lifespan.


ARES is a new tabletop wargame technology by the US Army. STTC briefing. Article. A modern take on one of the oldest forms of simulation: drawing stuff in the ground with a stick. Gary Gygax had a sandtable in his basement when creating D&D in the 70s, here's some recent pics of it.

Rick Was Here, a short film on the NYU dorm room where Def Jam started

30 years ago, Rick Rubin was a college student, living in NYU's Weinstein Residence Hall, room #712. It was there that Def Jam Records was formed, shifting the focus of hip-hop from the MCs to promote the DJs, too. Rubin and his label quickly outgrew the dorm, and he hasn't been back since. Recently he returned, and the adventure was captured and put into context by Rolling Stone Film's mini-documentary, Rick Was Here. New footage rolls alongside old, with some animations to bring a few audio-only stories to life.

On the earliest of early Def Jam Records, you can see the mailing address "5 University Pl. #712," capturing some notion of how small Def Jam really was in the beginning. If you'd like more, Salon points out two much more in-depth books on the history of Def Jam: Def Jam Recordings: The First 25 Years of the Last Great Record Label (Amazon; Google books preview), and Life and Def: Sex, Drugs, Money, + God (Amazon; Google books preview).

It's time...

Gough Whitlam, the progressive Labor prime minister of Australia from 1972 to 1975, has died aged 98.

Whitlam came to power in 1972, as the Labor Party overturned 23 years of conservative government by a landslide in a campaign whose slogan was "It's Time". Over the next three years, Whitlam would preside over a tide of changes, from the withdrawal of Australian conscripts from the Vietnam War to the creation of a state-funded health insurance system and free university education and the enaction of environmental protection legislation, no-fault divorces and the Racial Discrimination Act. Whitlam won a decreased majority in 1974, but, after failing to pass the budget, was dismissed by the Governor-General and replaced by the conservative Malcolm Fraser in 1975.

Don't Let's Stop

Why is the world in love again?
Why are we marching hand in hand?
Why are the ocean levels rising up?
It's a brand new record
for nineteen-ninety,
They Might Be Giants' brand new album:
FLOOD (43m)
Or, if you'd rather meet James Ensor, there's John Henry (57m)! For something Fingertippy, there's Apollo 18 (43m)! More recent: Nanobots (45m) - Join Us (47m) - The Else (38m) (Official links from the band's YouTube channel! Oh, and they also have a podcast.)

Over on Metafilter Music, some ambitious Person Men are are working on covering every song on Flood. Done so far: cortex covers Istanbul Not Constantinople - uncleozzy covers Minimum Wage - the_bone covers Letterbox

Here's more! Most of these are official, but a handful aren't: 1985 Demo Tape - Fingertips, from Apollo 18. (Previously: Fingertips with Star Wars clips!)

Here's a hodge-podge of additional songs, this is by no means everything by the band on YouTube though....
Don't Let's Start - Put Your Hand Inside The Puppet Head - Number Three - Ana Ng - Pencil Rain - Mister Me - Cowtown - The Statue Got Me High - Doctor Worm - Purple Toupee - Tippecanoe and Tyler Too - Electric Car - Tesla

TMBG covers Tubthumping - NPR Tiny Desk Concert - What's in John Flansburg's Bag at Amoeba Records? - And the band at their silliest: Turtle Songs of North America

For kids:
Tiny Toons' video of Particle Man - Number 2 and E Eats Everything - ZYX - Can You Find Them? - LMNO - Alphabet of Nations (Expanded)

Oh no! There are so many awesome songs I think they freaked out the Heavy....

Tuck Me In

One minute horror film. By director Ignacio F. Rodó, based on this two sentence horror story from an AskReddit thread last year. Picohorror previously.

I have no idea how these people got their cats wedged into their boedgas

Last Week, Buzzfeed posted "110 Reasons Why You Should Never Leave New York City," which is somehow even more vapid than you'd expect it to be. Today, Brooklyn Magazine reviewed the list, and offered some feedback.

And the lunatics yelling at the moon!

In early March of this year, the New York City Philharmonic staged what initially seemed like a restrained concert of Stephen Sondheim's musical "Sweeney Todd." Per the New York Times review : "The director, Lonny Price, started the evening with a wink toward the formalities of classical concertizing, as the cast of principals lined up in front of music stands at the lip of the stage, clad in tuxedos and staid dresses, binders in hand, as if they were about to sing a little Schubert. Oh dear." But then . . .

Other clips from the performance, whose cast members included Emma Thompson, Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel, and for this one performance, Audra McDonald:
"The Worst Pies in London"
"God, That's Good.

The full concert is currently available on Youtube, as is an interview with the actors talking about unexpectedly performing in front of Sondheim himself.

The best chime

Here's the reason why a 10-round rifle magazine isn't big enough.

Wouldn't those thing ricochet right back at the shooter?

"Their mothers were distant cousins long estranged..."

Exquisite Corpse [New York Times]

Taking their cue from the Surrealist parlor game, 15 renowned authors take turns contributing to an original short story.
Joshua Ferris:

Their mothers were distant cousins long estranged. They gave birth within minutes of each other, same hospital, different rooms. (I was not there.) The boy grew up west of the interstate, on the outskirts of the university; the girl in a high rise with a balcony overlooking the water. He won scholarships; she dropped out. Both married, had children, worked hard, suffered losses. In the end they were alone. She had an early-morning flight, he took the overnight. The next day they found themselves, before the small explosion, across from each other in the cafe, in a foreign land in the grip of turmoil, strangers still.