Friday Reading S11E08

Friday Reading is a weekly series of recommended reads from the Guardian’s Martin Belam, covering journalism, media and technology, and other interesting nerdy things. It is now in its eleventh season. Sign up here.

“In some ways, the Internet as we know it really began on February 16, 2001, 20 years ago today, when a three-word phrase blew up: ‘All Your Base.'”

A lovely retelling of simpler times etc etc … “An anniversary for great justice: Remembering ‘All Your Base’ 20 years later” – Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica

I enjoyed this from Keith Stuart about his quest to find primary sources while writing a historical-set novel, and particularly the idea that you find thinks that if you put them in the book, people might find odd and jarring and not representative of what you’d expect:

“The Last Fighting Tommy is a memoir written by First World War soldier Harry Patch who was born in Combe Down, and became a firefighter in the city during World War Two. He gives an account of the Bath bombing raids which provides lots of little details, such as the way the German planes came in very low over the streets, machine gunning the roads to stop firefighters putting out the incendiary bombs. There’s a little scene where Tommy’s wife looks at the sky lit up by German flares and says how beautiful it is – it’s something you wouldn’t expect someone to think during a raid, but it’s honest and true, and it’s in those contrasts – between terror and fascination – that characters come alive.”

Frequency of Us: using primary source materials – if you’re writing a historical novel, you need to hear voices – Keith Stuart

That scene actually reminds me of a war story told to me by one of my nan’s friends, about a raid where a local church where she was planning to get married was hit – or something like that, it was a few years ago now and I don’t remember the full details. But what struck with me was her saying she could see the pilot’s face “and I thought, you bastard!” and it had never occurred to me before that during the Blitz some enemy planes would have flown low enough like that.

I will tell you again that there is a large chunk of the British media currently doing for trans people exactly what it did for gay and lesbian people in the 1980s – just outright lying about them in order to whip up fear and demonisation. Here’s Katelyn Burns on one of the latest examples:

“No, that British hospital didn’t ban the word ‘breastfeeding’ – the ultra-viral story is an outright fabrication made by the institutionally transphobic British press”

There was a comment piece in the Telegraph this week getting lots of attention online with the headline “The war on woke won’t be won until it’s no longer toxic to admit you’re a conservative”.

It’s very simple mate. You are free to carry on supporting a prime minister who opposed repealing Section 28 as recently as 2001, who equated equal marriage to people marrying dogs, and who wrote about “tank-topped bum boys”. And I’ll carry on thinking you and him are completely toxic and forever stained for doing that.

The list of names that people suggested for members of the new US Space Force 🚀 included ‘Space Battlers’, ‘Astrovators’, ‘FloatyBois’ and ‘Daleks’.

I’ve been enjoying this Twitter account which just posts ancient memes.

Ooooooooooof – Dependency Confusion: How I Hacked Into Apple, Microsoft and Dozens of Other Companies

I mean it is just an entire website full of pictures of various control panels. Either you think this is the dullest thing in the world or you’ve already clicked through and are no longer reading this. The only two types of people in the world.

“These differing experiences inevitably influenced Gibson’s and Noble’s reactions upon hearing of the licence. ‘I thought David Ward was mad to want to make a game about a pop band!’ exclaims the former. ‘Especially when the band insisted that the game didn’t have its members running around in computer form.’ Super fan Ally Noble was notably more enthusiastic. ‘I was up for it immediately and loved the idea. While the others took a while to come round, I was very excited by the potential. I had a special affinity to the band: Liverpool isn’t a huge place, so there was a family feeling if you go to the same places.'”

I never had the Frankie Goes To Hollywood game, though recall seeing and playing it at a mate’s house. This is a great write-up about how it came to be made.

The making of Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Graeme Mason, Eurogamer

Also from Eurogamer, there is apparently a reboot of the Gamesmaster TV show in the pipeline. Here’s the definitive behind-the-scenes profile of the original show: Dominik Diamond, Dave Perry and friends reveal what went on behind the scenes of the greatest games show ever made.

This recording of Pete Paphides getting the actual Bee Gees to record the outgoing message on his ansaphone is adorable from start to finish, not just because they go along with it, but because of his obvious embarrassment at making such a weird request and the fact he is clearly expecting them to tell him where to stick it.

Joe Muggs writes about the KLF. I played a couple of the newly available again videos to my kids and just found how hard to explain just how massive they were and how the whole thing unfolded.

“Photos of the time can be confusing, as mods in Harrington jacket, Fred Perry and sta-prest clash with skinheads or rude boys/girls in the same attire. Aficionados can, of course, spot the subtle signs in the different clothes, not to mention (in most cases) the haircuts.”

This is a good read on the different youth cults and tribes that sprung up in the late 70s and early 80s, although I’m always wary of histories of youth culture going “youth culture was better in my day” – kids today are having a massively brilliant time, it’s just cos its not neatly packaged up once a week on TOTP you don’t know what it is, cos you ain’t hanging out on YouTube/TikTok etc etc.

You can get my new m-orchestra EP of Fortean electronica plus all my old stuff over on my Bandcamp page, where I’ve made it all available for the first time.