April 9

Hawking Hawking: A new biography of Stephen Hawking
In Hawking Hawking, I explore how Stephen Hawking came to be thought of as humanity’s greatest genius. Hawking spent his career grappling with deep questions in physics, but his renown didn’t rest on his science. He was a master of self-promotion, hosting parties for time travelers, declaring victory over problems he had not solved, and wooing billionaires. In a wheelchair and physically dependent on a cadre of devotees, Hawking still managed to captivate the people around him—and use them for his own purposes. [more inside]


April 6

Imaginary Friends Reunited
I asked people about their childhood imaginary friends, then brought them back in their own social network that’s full of funny, poignant and creepy stories (you can add your own via the link at the bottom of the page). [more inside]


April 3

The Chaoyang Trap - A Newsletter about Everyday Life on the Chinese Internet
A group-chat-as-newsletter about online culture in China. CT is a regular (usually fortnightly) exploration of contemporary China, one important niche at a time. We’re interested in marginal subcultures, tiny obsessions, and unexpected connections. [more inside]


April 2

Essex, England, May 2003
"On May 3rd, 2003, I got a digital camera as a present from my parents. I was 24, living at home, and in the middle of doing my degree. We had two cats, and were soon to get a third. Like everyone else with their first digital camera, I immediately spent the next month taking pictures of all the incredibly mundane things you were never really allowed to take pictures of before. Bookshelves and bathrooms and carpets and curtains. Desktops, cupboards, TV screens. Cats. So many cats. Then I forgot all about ever taking them, and never looked at any of them again until now. So here are nearly a thousand pictures of Essex, England, in May 2003. Almost all of them are extremely boring. A significant proportion of them are either of myself or my cats. 99% of them are in 640*480 format. 23% of them are extremely blurry."


Covid Project: Grocery Bags
Before covid I wanted bags I could take into the grocery and then strap to my bike's rear rack to travel the five long blocks home. Covid made that need more pressing, and now as it winds down I've finally got the solution. It's been enormously satisfying to make something so entirely for myself and a great excuse to practice sewing, a new skill for me. [more inside]


Doing Standup Comedy in Pre-COVID New York City Taught Me How To Live
I wrote this first-person story about what it was like to do my last weekend of shows in New York City before my album recording just prior to the COVID shutdown. I'm trying to do for unrepped bar show standup what Anthony Bourdain did for line cooks while chronicling the last days of a fertile scene that may never return.


March 26

A make-believe band
For about a year I've sent a fake band around the world on a fake tour with fake songs. Each performance gets a score, which leads to some songs being more popular than others. Now I'm looking for help from people who love Taylor Swift, The Grateful Dead, or King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard so I can map my fake songs to their real ones. People like you, maybe! [more inside]


March 22

Painted pine linen press
A personal furniture project that kept my sanity during the COVID lockdowns. I'm in an apartment, with several sheets of thick rubber and isolation pads under my work bench. I only use hand tools, I avoid any sort of mallet work and limit my work hours to the noisier parts of my neighbourhood's day. I received no complaints but it made for slow progress - picture a man quietly tunnelling his way out of prison. [more inside]


March 18

Full featured, extensible enumerations for javascript.
It seems like my pandemic super-power is starting a project, getting side-tracked by some aspect of that project, turning that into its own project and then forgetting about the thing I was originally working on. In that spirit, I give you enumerated types (not just constants!) for javascript. [more inside]


March 16

Recent work at USGS Water
This is a link to a blog, which is itself a project that I have worked on, along with other teammates. It highlights work that I and my coworkers at U.S. Geological Survey Water Mission Area have been working on over the past few years. [more inside]


March 15

UnRoman Romans: texts on outgroups in ancient Rome
UnRoman Romans is a collection of texts with notes on various outgroups in ancient Rome (actors, athletes, dancers, sex workers, sexual non-conformists and others). [more inside]


Fogleworms: a series of modular linocut prints
I spent the last half of January fixated on a simple mathematical proposition about arranging short twisting lines on a square grid, which I nicknamed "Fogleworms"; the terminus (so far) of that particular obsession is this series of 96 modular linocut prints and their four derived "ghost" prints, each mathematically unique. [more inside]


March 10

Women and Other Monsters book
My essay collection about feminism and mythological monsters is out! It's a combination of personal writing and cultural analysis, looking at how myths about monstrous women still influence us and how we can reclaim those images. Of specific interest to Metafilter: it includes a chapter expanded from the essay linked in this FPP, and some discussion of the emotional labor thread including a few quotes from Mefites. (Also mentioned the emotional labor thread on this week's Longform Podcast.)


March 5

L10: Bootcamp
I wrote about becoming a coder after a decade of scraping by off the proceeds of writing, even after essays gone viral, publishing a book, landing a creative writing "Professor" gig, & well-compensated and prestigious grants. Ironically, this letter, the 10th in my memoir-y newsletter, has been unusually well-received. I got a lot of "this struck a chord" from other artists and writers who've been trying to make it work. Maybe it will resonate if you're an artist/writer, or for non-artists, it might be of interest to see how the sausage is made--I discuss exact $ amounts of what my books, grants, jobs, contracts paid me. [more inside]


March 4

The Kilobyte’s Gambit 1k chess game  
I adapted an impressive 1.25KB chess engine to remove display code and get it down to 1024 bytes, then created a separate interface using pixel art of The Queen’s Gambit. It won’t win any tournaments, but if you’re a chess novice brace yourself for a challenge. [more inside]


March 3

A video for our quarantine style song recording
Hi! This is a cover my over-60 amateur musician buddies and I (The Busted Bones) created using a small Zoom recorder... sent between us - quarantine style! [more inside]


Needledrop
Needledrop is a skeuomorphic vinyl turntable interface for listening to music on YouTube. Use it with your favorite albums and share with friends. Try it out for good vibes.


The Lifecycle Of A Singular Organism (and other short animations)  
I've recently been trying to make a short piece of animation a day. Most are under a minute, but a few are a little longer. The Lifecycle Of A Singular Organism (stopmotion, 3m3s); Who Of Ourselves Should Be Ashamed (stopmotion, 58 seconds); Risk Reward (stopmotion, 1m8s); A Circle And A Square (text animation, 30 seconds); The Collusion Of Artifice (stopmotion, 41 seconds); Manipulations of Perspective (stopmotion, 1m13s). There's also (many more) inside: [more inside]


February 26

The Juris Lab
The Juris Lab is a collaborative empirical legal research blog covering a wide range of subjects, including judicial behavior, regulatory activity, computational linguistics, and litigation analytics. New posts most weekdays.



February 21

PLEDGE: The Musical
A tiny public radio station is run by a conservative college in Eastern Arkansas. The show follows the station over a nine day period as it goes through the daily trials and tribulations of broadcasting the news, managing employees, navigating politics, wrestling with diversity, dealing with technical problems, and interacting with donors, all while trying to have a successful pledge drive it needs to meet its goal and stay on the air. All of this craziness is just out earshot of the audience and just below the surface of the staid and controlled exterior of public radio. The situations are based things that have individually or collectively happened, are happening or most assuredly will happen in the public radio. [more inside]


Quarantine Collage Series
These original collages, were made during winter 2020-2021 in response to feelings of hibernation, isolation, and loneliness of quarantine during the COVID19 pandemic. They are made of book pages stained with India ink.


February 17

bad screen: a Firefox extension to block distracting websites
Constantly refreshing twitter has been very bad for my mental health, so I made an extension to set a period of time when I'm allowed to look at distracting websites, and block them at all other times. [more inside]


Scenes from the Quarantrain
When COVID lockdown began in March of 2020 I knew I’d be spending a lot of time at home. I had begun and abandoned an HO scale train layout a few years previously and figured the time was right to re-start it. The result is The Quarantrain. Childhood memories, pop culture references, fantasy scenes, images from my warped imagination. A work in progress. [more inside]


The Bomb dot LOL  
Feeling low? Need a quick pick-me-up? Get a shot of validation and visit thebomb.lol! A randomly generated text and image lets you know you're the Bomb (dot lol). Remember: "You're the finest individual!!" [more inside]


February 16

PicPack - Easy photo and video sharing for groups
I needed a way to share photos and videos for my son's Lacrosse tournaments with other parents. Most solutions require an app download or make it harder than it needs to be. I built PicPack to make the process of collecting and viewing photos and videos super easy. [more inside]


February 13

Ticklish - Declarative style GUI programming in Python
I was fiddling with a little personal project and needed to start writing some GUI code. GUI code is a pain in the butt to write and I really just wanted to get on with my project. So, obviously, I spent over a week writing a whole package to wrap Python's default GUI package, tkinter. As you do. [more inside]


Helix Mirabilix: Ball-lifter for marble machines
A new ball-lifting mechanism for rolling-ball sculptures (AKA marble machines, marble runs, or whatever you like to call them) in which the ball magically ascends a helical track in apparent defiance of gravity. Link goes to 3 min. YouTube video.


February 9

Animal Bastards: An Inquiry Into Anthropomorphism  
In this game, you will be shown some animals and asked to judge them: bastard or not a bastard.


February 2

"Axe Feather 2021" - recreating a 16-year-old ad [probably SFW, depending on your work]
In 2004, Axe/Lynx (the deodorant brand) released an interactive advertisement that used then-new video features of the Flash platform. This was a year before YouTube, and the Internet went crazy about their new found ability to virtually tickle a woman lying on a bed. It fell off the Internet in 2009 and with the death of Flash you can't even (easily) see it on archive.org any more... so I recreated it for the modern web. [more inside]


The Manual, by The KLF, cleaned up and proofread
There’s a cult band from the late 80s onward called the KLF (and other names); they made a step-by-step guide to achieving a number one single with no money or musical skills. Legitimate copies of the book are hard to find, or priced for collectors. Released in 1988, though copies are around on the internet; based on the same source version, there are many typos and OCR artifacts. I decided to clean it up and share. [more inside]


January 31

Explaining Gritty to the French (in Lang Belta)
During the existential crisis that was 2020 @NicoleConlan made a video explaining Gritty, the mascot of the Philadelphia Flyers, to an uncomprehending French populace who were seeing him in the American news in his role as anti-fascist icon. Herein is Nicole’s explanation translated into Lang Belta. Lang Belta is a creole conlang created by Nick Farmer for the TV Show “The Expanse”, based on the novels by James S.A. Corey.


The Man Who Left
The Man Who Left is a short fairy tale about a man sent to war, forced to fight incomprehensible battles in unknowable places for increasingly unclear reasons, who has become so weary and distraught by this life of constant toil and terror that it is only his dreams of returning to his wife and child that keep him sane. It's the 150th (and final) tale in my Thousand And One Tales project (previously on projects: 1, 2, 3, 4), which I originally planned to keep up for another 851 stories, but in the end failed spectacularly to do so. But still I tried... [more inside]


January 27

Finger.Farm: Advanced Finger Hosting  
Originally conceived as a way to get a status report on someone or something, the Finger Protocol aka RFC-742, has been around since the late 70s. Even today, the capability to finger lies dormant in every major OS. [more inside]


Christian Rightcast
A podcast series for people who'd like to know more about the history and composition of the amorphous "Christian Right," how it came to be, and the role it plays in America's current authoritarian inflection point. [more inside]


blob-opera-midi
I became somewhat obsessed with the Google Blob Opera (FPP) and, more specifically, making it sing arbitrary songs (MIDI control is supported but very limited, or at least difficult to program manually). What started out as quick and dirty hack to convert 4-part MIDI arrangements to Blob Opera format JSON ended up as a slightly less quick and dirty standalone npm module. [more inside]


Happy Birthday To You free stock music  
The famous song has been out of copyright since 2017, so I commissioned a musician to produce 20 different versions ranging from sensible to silly. You can download high-quality WAVs under a CC0/public domain license to freely use in absolutely anything.


January 22

2020 in Buffalo News Front Pages
Throughout 2020 I kept track of when and where the Buffalo Bills were mentioned on the front page of the Buffalo News (midway through I added in COVID-19 coverage).


January 20

A browser extension that chooses a random movie from your Kanopy.com watchlist
Available for Firefox and Chrome. Is your Kanopy.com movie queue way too long and giving you decision paralysis? Let this extension choose for you! [more inside]


January 19

A new type of musical instrument that's ridiculously easy to play
I've been creating a new kind of electronic musical instrument. It's expressive, it's melodic, it's compact, it's portable, and it's absurdly easy to play. [more inside]


MOSKVA
My short story, MOSKVA, is featured on Hobart Pulp today. Described by one reader as "gritty realism," the story chronicles the 2003 adventures of a gaggle of young American college students who have taken to the streets of Moscow after midnight.


January 18

Private Lives
A piano-forward set of cabaret songs, each from the point of view of a different character, evoking the atmosphere of a basement club where people wear too much makeup and share too many secrets.


January 15

Asterisk of Shame
A tiny Chrome extension to add an asterisk * following the names of each of the 147 congresspeople who voted to overturn the results of the 2020 election wherever they appear on the web. [more inside]


January 12

Murder Ballads art from the great Roger Langridge.
My Christmas present to myself this year was commissioning a brand-new piece of colour artwork from the Eisner-winning cartoonist Roger Langridge (Bill & Ted, The Muppets, Fred the Clown etc). You can find the brief I set him below the fold and the finished drawing he produced on this PlanetSlade page. I think it’s rather wonderful. [more inside]


January 11

Netflex: Work out while you watch Netflix
I hate working out. I love watching tv. So I joined up with some fellow lazy multitaskers to create Netflex, a free third Chrome extension that pops a guided bodyweight workout in the lower right corner of any Netflix program.


Cellphone Videos as Proof
More and more critical world events are documented by regular people with cell phones. I'm working to strengthen the verity of cell phone videos by augmenting them with corroborative data. [more inside]


January 1

The Solar System And Almost Everything In It
The Solar System And Almost Everything In It is a hand painted book showing the solar system and almost everything in it, all drawn to two slightly different scales, so that the planets are all scaled to the size of the sun, and the distances are all scaled to the distance of the earth from the sun, and both these are then the exact width of a page. [more inside]


December 30

Two old AF baby ARMYs unbox their first BTS light bombs & wax philosophical
Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey and I made a video about how we went from "vaguely aware that BTS exists" three months ago, to "unboxing our official BTS light bombs and setting the alarm to wake up at 4AM on December 31 for the Big Hit Entertainment 2021 New Year's Eve concert". Along the way we talked about a number of things, including music, culture, history, mental health, and more.


December 28

Started archiving my paintings
I started archiving some of my paintings.


December 22

Hannah's Game
I made this game a couple years ago with my oldest daughter. Well, she drew the pictures and somehow she requested a Kaboom! clone, which, wow, brought me back to my own childhood and reminded me of the way I envied my friend's dad. [more inside]


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