Wednesday various

  • A lot has been written recently about the “film,” Innocence of Muslims, notably its offensiveness to Muslims (and film lovers), the violence that’s erupted in its wake, and the duplicitous nature with which it was made. Now, via Neil Gaiman one of the actresses speaks out:

    It’s painful to see how our faces were used to create something so atrocious without us knowing anything about it at all. It’s painful to see people being offended with the movie that used our faces to deliver lines (it’s obvious the movie was dubbed) that we were never informed of, it is painful to see people getting killed for this same movie, it is painful to hear people blame us when we did nothing but perform our art in the fictional adventure movie that was about a comet falling into a desert and tribes in ancient Egypt fighting to acquire it, it’s painful to be thought to be someone else when you are a completely different person.

  • I’m not quite sure I buy into the idea of Breaking Bad as a “White supremacist fable” entirely — it’s probably true the show doesn’t get the drug trade right, but, then, it’s not really about the drug trade, is it? — but there’s some interesting food for thought here:

    White-washing the illegal drug market involves depicting it like markets wealthy viewers are more comfortable and familiar with, namely those of the farmers market or the local pharmacy. Walter White combines the ostensible moral complexity television audiences demand in a post-Soprano protagonist with a cleanliness that allows him to market expensive cars. The U.S. is still very much a white supremacist country, but classic cowboys-kill-Indians narratives don’t play with wealthy viewers or the critics who help determine those tastes. And Jack Bauer can drive only so many cars. For the credulous viewer who likes to imagine he’s a couple of life crises from being the Larry Bird of meth — and for the people who sell him stuff — White is right.If nothing else, the article makes me want to re-watch The Wire.

  • John Green on self-publishing and Amazon:

    Here’s my concern: What will happen to the next generation’s Toni Morrison? How will she—a brilliant, Nobel-worthy writer who doesn’t have a huge built-in audience—get the financial and editorial support her talent deserves? (You’ll note that there’s no self-published literary fiction anywhere near the kindle bestseller lists.) Amazon will have absolutely no investment in that writer, and they won’t need to. Over time, I’m worried this lack of investment will hurt the quality and breadth of literature we actually read, even if literature remains broadly available.

  • This isn’t new, but: Jonathan Coulton on the future of music, 3D printing, and scarcity:

    This is my bias: the decline of scarcity seems inevitable to me. I have no doubt that this fight over mp3s is just the first of many fights we’re going to have about this stuff. Our laws and ethics already fail to match up with our behaviors, and for my money, those are the things we should be trying to fix. The change is already happening to us, and it’s a change that WE ARE CHOOSING. It’s too late to stop it, because we actually kind of like a lot of the things that we’re getting out of it.

  • And finally, PBS asks, “Can fandom change society?” [via]

Thursday various

  • Oh, that Tucker Carlson…what a kidder! [via]
  • Still, he’s gonna have to step up his comedy game if he’s going to match “off with their mics and their heads” Bill O’Reilly! [via]
  • I think John Seavey may be right about this recent election — namely, that “the Republicans’ only winning strategy was to shut up and let the Democrats lose.”

    Those Republicans lost, big time. Joe Miller, Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle–every one of them said in detail what they’d do if elected, and every one of them heard the resounding voice of the American people saying, “No thank you.” Even in reliable red states or red districts, outspoken conservatives like Rand Paul and Michelle Bachmann had to spend millions of dollars to hang on to what should have been safe seats. The fact of the matter is, in order to get re-elected, the Republicans had to pretend not to be Republicans. That’s the narrative that you’re not hearing about right now. But you might hear a lot about it in a couple of years. Because two years is a long time to ask the Republicans to pretend not to be Republicans.

    The sad thing is, shutting up and letting the Democrats lose is pretty frequently a winning strategy.

  • Thudfactor points out the difference between security and authentication.
  • And finally, Abstract Pixel Art. Below, the cast of Futurama [via]:

Wednesday various

  • I know Terry Gilliam’s been having trouble getting films made, but has it come to this: he’s directing webcasts?

    But I kid. It looks like an interesting if unusual idea for a concert series, pairing directors and bands, and I might just check next Thursday’s webcast out if I have a chance.

  • E-books article drinking game. [via]
  • It’s actually been months since I’ve played Plants vs. Zombies, but I thought this was interesting: Michael Jackson Estate Forces ‘Plants vs. Zombies’ Update. Yeah, I can see how an undead Jackson might not sit so well with them. [via]
  • Speaking of zombies, Night of the Living Wonks [via]

    Looking at the state of international relations theory, one quickly realizes the absence of consensus about the best way to think about global politics. There are multiple paradigms that attempt to explain international relations, and each has a different take on how political actors can be expected to respond to the living dead.

  • And finally, baby moose in a sprinkler. Honestly, too cute for words. [via]

Wednesday various

  • I wish my company had letterhead this cool. [via]
  • An in-depth interview with Netflix’s Chief Content Officer, Ted Sarandos about their recent deal with Warner Bros. I think this goes a long way to explaining the deal and why it’s ultimately a boon to Netflix subscribers. (As such, the interview is maybe only of interest to subscribers.) There’s been a lot of anger over the planned 28-day window between when DVDs go on sale and when they’ll be available for rent at Netflix. But I really don’t have a problem with it — not if it means more, and better streaming content and a greater likelihood that when a new release is available, there will actually be enough stock for me to get a copy.
  • An interest Catch-22 of science fiction translations revealed:

    Because it takes so long for English-language science fiction to get translated, people in non-English speaking countries are often reading books that are several years behind the current fashion in English speaking countries. They then write books in response to what they have read, but when those books are offered for translation into English the big publishers reject them as “old fashioned”. [via]

  • For most authors, breaking 1,000 words wouldn’t seem like much. For Bruce Holland Rogers (who contributed to Kaleidotrope #3, by the way), it’s practically a novel!
  • And finally, some truly beautiful papercraft [via]

Thursday various

  • Giant Crack in Africa Will Create a New Ocean. Of course, it’ll be in a million years or so, but still. [via]
  • I’ve been impressed with Geist ever since Heather got me a subscription to the magazine — to the point that I didn’t think twice about renewing my subscription, even as I let my New Yorker subscription lapse again. I like the magazine not least as physical object, so I was a little dubious about the idea of a digital edition. But I think this has a certain goofy charm; it certainly replicates the turning of magazine pages better than the typical e-reader. Check it out — and maybe even consider subscribing!
  • I’ll admit, when I DVR a television show, I usually fast-forward through the commercials. Isn’t that the purpose for which the technology was first marketed? Apparently, I’m in a very small majority: nearly half of all DVR users don’t skip the ads. [via]
  • Now that he’s been elected New Jersey’s governor, I think Monty Python definitely should sue Chris Christie. [via]
  • And finally, though you’ve probably seen this all over the place, Joss Whedon’s open letter to The Terminator owners. That’s four zeroes after the one!