• Rory Links

    Rory’s links #2: A darker side of the moon

    Cloudy, dark day today. The Northern Hemisphere decrease in sunlight this time of year is really punishing; no wonder there are a few festivals featuring lights around now. I just wish we pushed it into January and February.


    1. World’s richest 1% pollute more than the poorest two-thirds, Oxfam says: It’s impossible to talk about climate change without talking about wealth inequality and labor exploitation:

    “The super-rich are plundering and polluting the planet to the point of destruction, leaving humanity choking on extreme heat, floods and drought,” Oxfam International’s interim executive director, Amitabh Behar, said in a news release on Monday. He called for world leaders to “end the era of extreme wealth.”

    If you want a specific example of mega-rich pollution, the Guardian has a look at private-jet emissions for 200 celebrities since the start of 2022: “Jets belonging to entertainers, CEOs, oligarchs and billionaires produce equivalent to emissions of almost 40,000 Britons”.

    2. How to Maintain Mental Hygiene as an Open Source Researcher: This guide is geared toward potential researchers looking into war crimes in Ukraine, but I think the tips have a use for everyone in unmoderated or poorly-moderated spaces online right now. Additional thoughts not in the link that I’ve seen elsewhere online: curate your feeds aggressively, invert the colors on your screen and flip images around if you need to look closely, maybe play Tetris (one study, there are probably more)?

    3. Andre 3000’s new flute album, New Blue Sun, has been making the joke rounds on social media and late-night comedy. I like the album, and I like this profile about the album and Andre 3000’s career from the New Yorker: Andre 3000 disrupts our sense of time.

    4. I’m honestly sharing this one because summarizing can help me understand a topic better: ‘What the heck is going on?’ Extremely high-energy particle detected falling to Earth. Apparently, something like a supernova isn’t strong enough to create a particle like this, which makes it strange enough, but scientists have only been able to trace it back to empty space, which makes it even stranger. (I have also now learned the specific empty space bordering the Milky Way is called the “Local Void”.)


    (Remember, if you prefer to read over watch, you can read transcripts on YouTube! See my first link post for more.)

    1. Why Dark Side of the Moon Still Matters by Polyphonic: This is the joined-up, hour-long version of a video series Polyphonic did on the Pink Floyd album The Dark Side of the Moon, which is one of my all-time favorite albums and a moving treatise on life, death, and modernity (in the ‘70s, but it still works). The video is a beautiful blend of visuals, audio snippets, lyric and musical analysis, and production review. Even if you don’t feel like watching the video, consider giving the album a spin.

    2. Three Specific Kinds of Terror by Jacob Gellar: An overview of horror as seen in the games Amnesia: The Bunker, Who’s Lila, and The Utility Room. What do you find more horrifying, how the gargantuan size of the cosmos renders choice meaningless, or having to live with the consequences of your own decisions?

    The video and comments left me most interested in Who’s Lila for two reasons. The game mechanics are largely built in unnatural facial expressions you control, and that, for better or worse, rang a bell with autistic viewers. Other commenters referenced another video essayist, Flaw Peacock, who made a 7.5+ hour analysis of the game. Whether I get to game or long summary first, I added Who’s Lila to my Steam wishlist, and the two “Similar to games you’ve played” listed are Disco Elysium and Phasmophobia. Promising!

    3. I Bought the Same Dress for $4, $30, $60, and $200 by Safiya Nygaard: An interesting look at the unchecked scam ad market on Tiktok (and although it wasn’t the video’s main focus, apparently things are similar on Instagram). Like, this isn’t (just) covering dupes of higher-end fashion design. This is hundreds of ads made from stolen videos, hundreds of fake reviews that steal pictures from Instagram and reviews from Amazon, and dozens of online shops that vanish before you can tell them they sent you the wrong product or that you never received a product at all.

    I’m not sure if the problem here is a lack of vetting or inadequate vetting. Either way, even if Tiktok and Instagram put more work into the process, things are still dire in the ad space as a whole. The video only touches on it briefly, but I was alarmed that Steve Madden (an actual company I’ve known about for decades) used a Markiplier overlay in an ad without his knowledge or consent (Safiya asked him directly). If a personality with his level of fame and clout has little recourse, what about the rest of us?

    4. You wanna see an edit where it looks like Cookie Monster is singing Tom Waits’s “God’s Away on Business”? (Trust me, you do.)

  • Rory Links

    Rory’s links #1

    It’s been a while, Egregious! Nice to see you again!

    Maybe you’ve been reading the Sara Reads the Feed series. If you haven’t, here’s Sara’s brief summary:

    I try to have an RSS feed reader that keeps me scrolling through hundreds of articles a day across many sites – that way I get a broad look at things and don’t get bogged down on Reddit. It seems it might be fun to read the feed “together” and round up some snippets of my commentary on the articles as we go.

    I don’t have a curated RSS feed (yet, it’s on the to-do list), but having a sporadic place to link and talk besides my Patreon (which has largely shifted toward review and criticism) makes sense. Maybe this’ll give me a reason to get more deliberate with my reading habits. Skimming my browser history and seeing the lack of diversity sure was depressing.


    1. A profile of a Taiwanese doctor addressing growing visual myopia. There’s a large focus on children here for many good reasons, but I’m inspired to get my eyes checked more frequently and get outside more. 120 minutes of daily outdoor activity is way above what I’m doing, and considering it’s Seasonal Depression Season, it’s a good time to push the number up.

    2. NPR’s Fresh Air did a long interview earlier this year with Siddartha Kara, “a fellow at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and at the Kennedy School”, about the “horror show” of cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (The link has both an audio interview, to which I have not listened, and a written summary, which I did read.) Cobalt is often used in rechargeable batteries that are vital for modern devices, including many that are part of the switch from fossil fuels, like rechargeable cars. One thing you can do now: read a guide on how to extend the life of lithium-ion batteries, like this one from University of Michigan, so your devices need replacing less often. Another way to help (this issue, and so many others) is to support right-to-repair laws, which are being enacted in a bunch of places, including California.

    Capitalism functions in a cycle of exploiting and/or enslaving some of the most vulnerable global populations and destroying natural resources. It’s been that way for centuries (see also: the history and formation of the United States, for just one example). I haven’t watched it yet, but in Last Week Tonight’s coverage of the chocolate industry, John Oliver says the following:

    So if we are serious about getting child labor out of our chocolate, we can’t keep relying on pinky promises and the honor system. We need tough legislation that requires companies do the right thing.

    And it’s not like this is the only industry where exploitation in other countries is the norm. I could just as easily have done this piece about coffee or palm oil. And we actually talked about trafficking and child labor in the US farm system this year. But experts themselves say of chocolate:

    “…in few industries…is the evidence of objectionable practices so clear…the industry’s pledges to reform so ambitious, and the breaching of those promises so obvious.”

    3. A nicer NPR link I’ve had open in my mobile browser for years now: Sewing your own clothes can be empowering. Here’s how to get started Yes, this has dark elements: the link references the initial COVID lockdowns and lack of available masks, and my personal motivations are related to exploitative labor practices/climate difficulties around fashion that aren’t unrelated to link two. But it’s also just really nice to have more control over something that’s a huge part of your life. I asked for a sewing machine for my last birthday and got one; maybe I’ll finally use it this spring!


    Anne Helen Petersen’s Culture Study fills my TBR list with so many good nonfiction books. Some good, recent author interviews:

    1. A Different Way to Think About Student Success, an interview with Ana Homayoun about the book Erasing the Finish Line. As someone who was ground to dust by the pre-college grind about twenty years ago and still struggles with what crumbs of executive function I can grab, it’s validating to see someone’s book reflect my lived experience (probably; I haven’t read it yet, but the interview’s promising).

    2. Butts: A Backstory, an interview with Heather Radke about the book of the same name. Not only is this a great topic to cover for reasons listed in the interview, that the author has to state “I should specify that my book is about the cheeks, not the hole” at the beginning is so good.

    3. There is Nothing Magical About Forgiveness, an interview with Myisha Cherry about Failures of Forgiveness. Incredible how so short an interview can challenge tired cultural narratives. I know I’m tired of the “rush to forgiveness” without any repair or reckoning for damage done.


    2023 has been a terrible year for Hollywood. While the WGA/SAG-AFTRA strikes are pointed to as a reason, I’d argue they were more major attempt at repair than direct cause. The signs of trouble have been there for years, and this year’s rot had set in long before the pickets had begun. And, as someone who follows a lot of film essayists on YouTube, it’s impossible to avoid the topic (unless you’re excellent channel Accented Cinema, which tends to focus on foreign cinema).

    Note: If you prefer to read over watching, most YouTube videos not only have subtitles, but transcripts as well! They often come from autogenerated subtitles, so readability will vary, but click “more” on the description, scroll down, and click “Show transcript” to get a box with text and timestamps.

    1. Who Killed Cinema by Patrick H Willems: A feature-length look at potential causes, shaped in a meta-comedic murder mystery style. You wanna blame terrible execs, Disney/Marvel’s business model, Netflix attacking theaters, and more? This one’s got ‘em.

    2. Are Film Critics a Dying Breed? by Broey Deschanel: I’ve always found film criticism to be a vital part of Hollywood’s artistic ecosystem—I was a kid who loved Roger Ebert, of course I’d think that—and this is an interesting look into criticism’s past and the differences between influencer and critic.

    3. The Marvelization of Cinema by Like Stories of Old: Patrick H Willems covers some of this, but Like Stories of Old builds a theory around entropy and builds an argument for meaning in storytelling, even in big-budget blockbusters.

    4. The Inevitable Failure of 2023 Blockbusters by Friendly Space Ninja: If you really want to see how badly the major studios are faring in terms of budget, here’s ten movies that financially bombed in spectacular fashion. And this was posted in August. I can’t get over how big a pile of money Disney burned when making and releasing Indiana Jones.