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