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]

Friday various

  • I haven’t yet been to Manhattan’s new High Line park, but now I see what I’ve been missing:

    Some guests at The Standard Hotel have stripped off to frolic naked in front of their rooms’ floor-to-ceiling windows, which are easily viewed from the newly-opened elevated High Line park.

    I particularly like how the hotel promises “to ‘remind guests of the transparency’ of the windows.” Who knew windows were transparent?!

  • In all the talk about saving Reading Rainbow, which is going off the air after 26 years, I’ve been sort of amazed that no one’s remarked on one simple thing: the show actually went off the air three years ago. At least, that’s when Burton quit, disappointed with the direction the show’s news owners wanted to take it. New episodes haven’t been made since 2006. It’s disappointing there isn’t money in anybody’s pockets to keep repeats on the air — it really was a terrific program — but it’s also a little disingenuous (or only half the story) to call this the show’s end.
  • If you’re really feeling nostalgic for PBS children’s programming, why not check out the original pitch for Sesame Street?
  • I didn’t find TinEye particularly useful myself, but I do kind of like the idea of a “reverse search engine.” [via]
  • And finally, Warren Ellis on the smallness of the future:

    I miss vast, mad underground bases as much as the next person, possibly more, because deep down I feel like I always should have been a James Bond villain – but I adore the fact that the Jet Propulsion Lab appears to control the Mars rovers from a Portakabin somewhere outside Pasadena. And there’s great appeal in the notion that today’s architecture students will be faced with problems involving not great stupid boondoggles like Olympic stadia that in six years’ time will be nothing more than receptacles for the foaming, incandescent urine of meths-drinking tramps, but instead will be asked for solutions to concepts like the intron depot. From rust-prone compression rings and precast concrete sections for a tumour of idiocy, to atomic-scale cathedral stations for organising the blood-borne trajectories of rot-proof buckytube bullet-trains. This is beautiful to me.