Welcome back to links! Only took me three months to come back! Let’s start by collecting my initial year-end wrapup posts, if you haven’t seen them. (I spent my time and energy on these for a while instead of linkspams.)
I felt late posting these, but I did manage to squeeze them in right before Lunar New Year, so maybe I was right on time.
A couple links on literacy: The Loss of Things I Took For Granted, a Slate column with a college professor that has watched literacy in their students drop over the last decade, and At a Loss for Words, about the flawed US teaching method of three cueing that has left kids and young adults struggling to read. The short version: sounding out words is a valuable skill.
A random hobby wiki page: Did you know DND 5e allows characters to get married for an armor class boost? Why did no one get fake married in the DND movie or Baldur’s Gate 3? Wasted opportunities.
Do you like space? Watch some documentaries and clips on NASA+. I think there’s Earth stuff on there, too.
Totally respect if you don’t want to click Substack links, but here’s one person’s alternatives to Spotify. I’m not fully ready to ditch Apple Music in 2024, but I agree with the poor ethics of using these services and plan to prioritize buying music this year, especially for smaller artists.
If you’re wondering why I’m bringing up Substack, the company has been really reticient about banning Nazis and white supremacists off the platform. (All the articles that came up when I searched were paywalled, like this Atlantic article, but they’re there.) Substack made a token reversal effort in January, but if we’re talking about digital ethics, moving off Substack is great to do in that regard. If you want alternatives: Egregious is WordPress + domain; Rory Learns is on Buttondown, Casey Johnson has talked on Bluesky about how She’s a Beast uses Ghost.
JP Brammer of ¡Hola Papi! fame has an interesting column about Latino identity in the LA Times. So many good lines in this one, such as “…language, nations and identity are all ghosts with teeth, phantoms that aren’t real until they bite you and draw blood.”
Black Twitter Remains Unbothered in Elon Musk’s X. I’ve limited my Twitter usage for a variety of reasons, both ethical and functional. In the past, I’ve also witnessed and been a part of online communities standing firm against profit machines that don’t care about people. No judgment from me (except for soulless billionaires).
This might be paywalled if you’ve looked at New York Magazine much lately: Apple Vision Pro Owners Are Struggling to Figure Out What They Just Bought. Sounds like Apple is selling expensive VR headsets to people too cool (or work-focused) to buy already-existing VR headsets. I think there’s space for work apps on VR; I think most people buying the Vision Pro don’t have the skill to use them. Still, if Apple wants people to promo the Vision Pro, they should give one to Sara, who has VR experience and wants work apps. Just saying.
Interesting YouTube videos recently (expanding the info box will allow you to click to a transcript, if you prefer to read):
FD Signifier’s short take on cultural appropriation pointed out that Travis Kelce started sporting a fade because it was a way to signal that he was dating Black women. (That was pre-Swift, of course, but he hasn’t changed his hair since that started.)
Slowly going through Variety’s latest Actors on Actors series, and I think Andrew Scott & Greta Lee’s is going to be tough to beat. Past Lives is my favorite Best Picture nominee so far (it’s on Prime Video right now), and I can’t wait to see All of Us Strangers, which I can pretty safely say got snubbed without even seeing it (but it’ll be on Hulu as of February 22nd, so I’ll speak more authoritatively about it then).
An essay about east Asia and buying luxury. I got into cdramas a few years ago and was surprised to see how many Chinese actors/idols had deals with luxury brands. It was helpful to get perspective on how economic/social trends coalesce within collectivist cultures in this way.
It’s hard to be remotely a US film nerd and not have heard about how Sofia Coppola ruined the Godfather Part III, but this essay put into perspective how much Francis Ford Coppola failed his daughter. It’s fascinating because only a nepo baby could have the career Sofia Coppola has after decades of (undeserved) attacks, but also, she never would have been made the face of the movie’s failure if she hadn’t been a nepo baby in the first place.
Creative ownership and copyright have been hot topics the last few months, between tech bros stealing from artists for their fancy autocorrect, Steamboat Willie entering public domain, and hbomberguy’s big plagiarism essay, to name three prominent examples. A different essay talks about some creative copyright infringement from the past and asks where we go from here. You should mostly watch it to see Turkish Star Trek and Filipino musical Batman, if you haven’t.