Plex Offers Over a Thousand Ad-Supported Movies on Demand: The films are “free” as in “ad supported”, but it’s still an interesting move. While I’m a long-time Plex user, I’m not sure if I’ll take advantage of this (I have an extensive personal movie and TV collection as it is, plus some of the big-name streaming services), but it may well be worthwhile for plenty of other people.
Sometime between January 27th and October 30th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!
- Retroactive: Run Aperture, iPhoto, or iTunes on macOS Catalina.: Saving this for myself, in case I want or need iTunes when I get around to upgrading to Catalina.
- Inside the sexy Halloween costume industrial complex: Their costumes are often horrible, and oft-derided each year (including by me). But I thought this peek into the “sexy everything company” was an interesting one.
- The 26,000-Year Astronomical Monument Hidden in Plain Sight: "On the western flank of the Hoover Dam stands a little-understood monument, commissioned by the US Bureau of Reclamation when construction of the dam began in 01931. The most noticeable parts of this corner of the dam, now known as Monument Plaza, are the massive winged bronze sculptures and central flagpole which are often photographed by visitors. The most amazing feature of this plaza, however, is under their feet as they take those pictures."
- Queen Elizabeth II makes New Zealand woman who fought to decriminalize prostitution a ‘dame’: “Catherine Healy, 62, a founder of the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective, was instrumental in helping her country become the first to decriminalize prostitution in 2003. After 30 years of activism, the queen recognized her Monday as a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit ‘for services to the rights of sex workers.’”
- Keira Knightley is obviously right: there’s a sexist double standard in how we treat period dramas: “The great irony is that in being dismissed as feminine fluff, the period drama has somewhat avoided the controlling male gaze. Women are allowed complexity and agency. They can be the heroes – not the wives and girlfriends of the heroes. Ignore the negativity, and the corset can actually be quite freeing.”
A collection I’ve wanted for a long time, and finally completed: All of Terry Gilliam’s films (except for The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, which isn’t out yet) are on my Plex server in HD. He’s just the sort of gloriously weird that works well for me.
It’s funny, though, thinking about it. I tend to think of myself as not being a big fan of dystopian fiction*, and yet that’s a large part of his work. But even in his darker films that don’t always end on happy notes, there’s often a definite line of optimism, hope, and the characters fighting against that dystopia — I think there’s a good argument to be made that there’s a hopepunk element to much of his work, which is why it resonates with me.
* I’m certainly less so now than I was in my youth when I first discovered Gilliam. Something about being aware of the dystopia we live in makes it a lot less escapist, doesn’t it? And, unfortunately, there’s definitely evidence that Gilliam doesn’t always recognize his own racial and sexual privilege, with his unfortunate comments about the #metoo movement and diversity in media programming, which could also partially explain his draw towards dystopian fiction: He can view it from what he perceives to be a “safe” distance, just as I did when I first discovered it. Meanwhile, there are lots of people (who, as I think about it, I really don’t think I can remember much representation of in his films) who are far more intimately, immediately familiar with the realities of living in dystopian worlds.
Huh. Well, that went astray from my original intention of “hey, I’ve got all the movies I can from one of my favorite directors!”
Sometime between November 14th and November 29th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!
- Neuroscience says listening to this song reduces anxiety by up to 65 percent: “The group that created ‘Weightless’, Marconi Union, did so in collaboration with sound therapists. Its carefully arranged harmonies, rhythms, and bass lines help slow a listener’s heart rate, reduce blood pressure and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.”
- Physicist Wins Ig Noble Prize For Study On Whether Cats Should Be Classified As Liquids Or Solids: "At the center of the definition of a liquid is an action: A material must be able to modify its form to fit within a container," Fardin said. "If we take cats as our example, the fact is that they can adapt their shape to their container if we give them enough time. Cats are thus liquid if we give them the time to become liquid."
- Pseudoarchaeology and the Racism Behind Ancient Aliens: “Where, exactly, the idea of ancient aliens building the pyramids began — and why some academics think racism lies at the heart of many extraterrestrial theories.”
- Do you have any advice for someone who is 16?: "Watch Star Trek. // I’m sorry anon. I realized belatedly that I basically just told you 'turn to Jesus!' and walked away without explanation. I’m absolutely not kidding, though: Star Trek. Especially in times of difficulty and change: watch Star Trek."
- This is the Greatest Example of Wanton Cruelty in All of the Star Wars Universe: "There’s a lot here that can be considered cruel—torture, enslavement, sadism, and so on—but the really cruel thing isn’t directly happening in the scene, but it does make the scene possible. It’s the fact that droids can feel pain."
Sometime between September 3rd and September 23rd, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!
- The truth about false rape accusations: “Critics argue that reports of rape should be treated with more caution, since men’s lives are so often ruined by women’s malicious lies. But…every part of this narrative is wrong. What’s more, it’s wrong in ways that help real rapists escape justice, while perversely making it more likely that we will miss the signs of false reports.”
- Does the OK Sign Actually Signify “White Power,” or What?: "The answer is neither simple nor straightforward, which is why it’s such an effective trolling tactic."
- “Oh my god. If i see one more of these ‘India legalizing gay sex = India decolonizing’ posts in my dash I will murder someone.”: Interesting look at homosexuality and gender nonconformance in India in the light of the recent ruling decriminalizing homosexuality and some unfortunate and ill-informed reactions from Western liberals.
- Forget the new iPhones, Apple’s best product is now privacy: “I now believe the best product Apple offers is intangible, yet far more valuable than a flagship smartphone. The best product Apple has–and the single biggest reason that consumers should choose an Apple device over competing devices–is privacy.”
- The Matrix as a Transgender Coming Out Story: This theory/reading/interpretation is apparently a few years old, but it’s the first time I’ve come across it. Fascinating, and worth thinking about.
Sometime between September 1st and September 3rd, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!
- It Came From the ’70s: The Story of Your Grandma’s Weird Couch: “The ’70s, however, was a time when everyone, even the Western-loving square, was more open to experimenting in some way. Some people tried drugs or hosted swinging sex parties; others channeled their sense of adventure exclusively into garish upholstery.”
- Why tech’s favorite color is making us all miserable: “The cold blue light of modern touchscreens may be aesthetically pleasing, but it poses health problems. Designers and technologists should take cues from military history and embrace the orange.”
- Lego Wants to Completely Remake Its Toy Bricks (Without Anyone Noticing): “It wants to eliminate its dependence on petroleum-based plastics, and build its toys entirely from plant-based or recycled materials by 2030.”
- The man who owns the Moon: "For more than 35 years, Dennis Hope has been selling land on the Moon. Hope registered a claim for the Moon in 1980 and, since the US government & the UN didn’t object, he figures he owns it (along with the other planets and moons in the solar system)."
- A twitter thread in which I drag every single US president in order:: Not many get off lightly — nor should they. Not an approach to history you're likely to find in most history classes.
Sometime between August 1st and September 1st, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!
- The P-I error that changed Seattle history: "Occasionally, newspapers report factual errors. A well-intentioned interview subject gives bad information, a name is spelled wrong, a breaking news story is inadvertently peppered with grammatical errors. But no incorrect newspaper story has had a bigger impact on Seattle history than one published June 7, 1889."
- 98.6 degrees is a normal body temperature, right? Not quite: “Forget everything you know about normal body temperature and fever, starting with 98.6. That’s an antiquated number based on a flawed study from 1868 (yes, 150 years ago). The facts about fever are a lot more complicated.”
- The “I Am Steve Rogers” Joke in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Is the Definitive Captain America Moment: That’s who Captain America is, a man who listens to and believes in people when they tell him who they are. That’s a lesson we all should take away from that moment.
- The Bullshit Web: “An honest web is one in which the overwhelming majority of the code and assets downloaded to a user’s computer are used in a page’s visual presentation, with nearly all the remainder used to define the semantic structure and associated metadata on the page. Bullshit — in the form of CPU-sucking surveillance, unnecessarily-interruptive elements, and behaviours that nobody responsible for a website would themselves find appealing as a visitor — is unwelcome and intolerable.”
- Ignorant Hysteria Over 3D Printed Guns Leads To Courts Ignoring The First Amendment: "…in the last few days the hysteria [over 3D-printed guns] has returned… and much of it is misleading and wrong, and while most people probably want to talk about the 2nd Amendment implications of all of this, it's the 1st Amendment implications that are a bigger deal." Interesting. I'm not at all comfortable with wide availability of 3D-printed guns, but this analysis of the issues is worth reading.
Sometime between July 16th and July 30th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!
- Is there any anti-abortion talking point that isn’t based on a lie?: "As I’ve investigated both sides of the abortion debate, I’ve become honestly curious to discover if there is any anti-abortion argument that isn’t based on a lie (or lies). I’m going through the most popular current US anti-abortion talking points and giving each a Politifact-esque truth rating. Let’s investigate!"
- Meet Mike Cernovich: Right-Wing Provocateur Who Got James Gunn Fired: “Cernovich didn’t dredge up Gunn’s old tweets out of a genuine care for women, children, or LGBTQP+ people. He didn’t write this as a feminist or left-wing activist hoping for a more productive dialogue surrounding trauma that gives these issues the seriousness they deserve; Cernovich directly accused Gunn of being a pedophile for these tweets, and Disney submissively just bent to that and fired him.”
- What it’s like when Nazis infiltrate your conference: Interesting look at how nazis trolled and attacked the narrative of a hacker con. Worth considering and keeping these techniques and brainstorming ideas of how to combat them effectively when planning for conferences/conventions these days.
- The 9/11 Country Music theory: "MY HOT TAKE: with very few exceptions, including goodbye earl, before he cheats, and daddy Iessons (side note – all women!) 9/11 ruined country music." Sounds about right to me. Country's never been my primary genre, but what I do like is universally pre- (usually very pre-) 9/11.
- “People like to think that Hitler came straight into power with ‘Kill the Jews y/n?’ and all the Germans were like ‘yeah totes’ but it’s just not how it goes.”: "No, the defining moment of this timeline was that people didn't show up to vote the Nazi Party out in the one last chance they had. The one last chance they had before the power grab was up and the whole thing was too far off the rails."
Sometime between May 26th and July 11th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!
- ALL POSSIBLE RESPONSES TO “THEY SHOULD GET IN LINE AND DO IT THE RIGHT WAY, THE WAY MY FAMILY DID,” WITH CITATIONS (ALSO JOKES): TL;dr: there’s a really good chance that at least some portion of your family came to the U.S. without a visa, and the “right way” from 1790–1965 has nothing to do with how things are done now.
- Civility. Some thoughts.: "It's hypocrisy to us because we believe that the behavior is the problem. It's not hypocritical to them because they believe the person is the problem."
- What To Do When ― Not If ― Roe Vanishes: "Now, it is almost certainly a matter of when, not if, we lose Roe. It’s time to prepare for life without nationwide legal abortion." That we have to be thinking seriously about this is incredibly sad.
- Really neat answer to this question about early Star Trek fandom:: “I would love to know more about when you first started thinking that there was more than friendship between Kirk and Spock and when fans first started talking about it. Was it Amok Time that first gave you the idea?”
- Why ‘Solo’ Works: SPOILERS: “A constant supply of ‘Star Wars’ requires an occasional double between dingers. Here’s how the low-stakes origin story of Han Solo makes clean contact.”
Sometime between April 19th and April 30th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!
- John Scalzi: Thoughts on Avengers: Infinity War (and Yes, There are Spoilers): "As impressively well put together as it is, and as enjoyable and exciting as the film is in the moment, the film suffers and for me is ultimately unsatisfying. Not for anything the film itself does or doesn’t do; it suffers not because of what it does, but because of what I know."
- Avengers: Infinity War ending: Incredibly bold — and a little cheap: SPOILERS: “…as I talked over the ending with friends, the less it sat well with me. I certainly admired the gutsiness of it, the big swing it took, but I also struggled to feel as emotionally invested in it as I was supposed to. For lack of a better word, none of it felt real.” I might not go quite so far as this analysis does, but I don’t argue with its core idea, and was having similar thoughts.
- “When people say ‘spinster’, they are trying to conjure up an image of a little old lady who is lonely and bitter.”: “What I HEAR are the smiles and laughter of a million women as they earned their own money in their own homes and controlled their own fortunes and lived life on their own terms, and damn what society expected of them.”
- When Toronto Suspect Said ‘Kill Me,’ an Officer Put Away His Gun: Look, I know that there are going to be situations where the use of deadly force is a necessary step. But it should be a last step, not a first step — something that seems all too mysterious to far too many people, not least many police here in the United States. De-escalation should be the default approach, rather than the "shoot first, ask questions later" approach seemingly favored by far too many people (both law enforcement officers and armchair analysts).
- What Does Invoking The 25th Amendment Actually Look Like?: "Let’s take a deeper look at the 25th Amendment and think about what each section of it has meant in the past — and what it might mean for Trump-era politics." I'm rather fascinated (and disappointed) that we're in a situation where this is even being seriously discussed. But it is, admittedly, and interesting discussion.