The Thursday Ten

Some of these are older links I’d forgotten to share before. Also, the Vincent van Gogh link is very long, but fascinating. There are also some pretty great links, like the one about cats and then there’s that one about Thor’s hammer.

  • NCIS: Provence: The Van Gogh: Mystery For many decades, suicide was the unquestioned final chapter of Vincent van Gogh’s legend. But in their 2011 book, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographers Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith offered a far more plausible scenario—that Van Gogh was killed—only to find themselves under attack. Now, with the help of a leading forensic expert, the authors take their case a step further. (Vanity Fair)
  • Why Banksy Is (Probably) a Woman: The world’s foremost street artist is a social justice warrior and a viral media master. She could be anyone. (City Lab) Note: Aside from a failure to understand what graffiti (street writing) is (it is not catcalling, fyi), this article is interesting. I wouldn’t call it good, but the author makes a decent argument for Banksy’s gender.
  • William Gibson: I never imagined Facebook The brilliant science-fiction novelist who imagined the Web tells Salon how writers missed social media’s rise (Salon) Note: My favorite article of the week because William Gibson. If you don’t understand … you don’t know me very well.

The Thursday Ten

I’ve decided to try something different. Instead of listing all the links I’ve read and thought were interesting, I’m going to limit it to just ten, with maybe a bonus link or two. This first week of September will be my first week attempting this. Feedback is always welcome.

Onto the links:

  • Pop culture’s newest apocalypse: Visions of a smartphone dystopia Two acclaimed new books show how our smartphone addiction is changing the way we think about the end of the world  (Salon) Note: I have read neither book, but the premises of both are similar to many a YA dystopia — though that’s not a bad thing. I do wish the author was familiar with other dystopian novels, though.
  • Hong Kong’s Democracy Dilemma: On Sunday the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress issued restrictive guidelines for the election of Hong Kong’s next chief executive in 2017. Shorn of its technical details, the proposal in effect gives Beijing the means to control who could run for the top office in Hong Kong: Voters would get to cast a ballot, but only for one of just a handful of candidates pre-selected by the Chinese government. (New York Times)
  • What’s missing in the Ebola fight in West Africa: If the Ebola epidemic devastating the countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone had instead struck Washington, New York or Boston, there is no doubt that the health systems in place could contain and then eliminate the disease. (Washington Post)
  • Shenzhen trip report – visiting the world’s manufacturing ecosystem: Last year, a group of Media Lab students visited Shenzhen with, bunnie, an old friend and my hardware guru. He’s probably best known for hacking the Xbox, the chumby, an open source networked hardware appliance, and for helping so many people with their hardware, firmware and software designs. bunnie is “our man in Shenzhen” and understands the ecosystem of suppliers and factories in China better than anyone I know. (Joi Ito)
  • Death to the Gamer: Tainted by its misogyny and embrace of consumption as a way of life, gamer culture isn’t worth saving. (Jacobin)

Bonus links! Something a little more fun:


Super Hero Movies + My Parents

I’ve written in the past about my love for The Avengers and I really want my parents to go see the movie (when my Mom’s ready), so when I went home over Memorial Day, we spend the first three days I was hoping catching them up on The Avengers movie-verse. You think I’m kidding, but I’m not. We seriously watched three super hero movies: Captain AmericaIron Man 2, and Thor.

I know that my relationship with my parents is different than most people’s. I feel this way about my relationship with movies, too. The first R-rated movie I ever saw in the theater was Rain Man. The first movie I ever rented with my good grades was Rear Window and the first R-rated movie I saw at home with my parents was Four Weddings and a Funeral. I have always, always loved going to movies with my parents, basically as much as I like going to movies with my friends. Over the Christmas holidays, my dad and I went to see Hugo and my whole family went to see the second Sherlock Holmes movie and The Artist. Sometimes when I’m at work, I’ll be looking through our DVD collection for something for a patron and stumble across movies I’ve seen with my parents. I can still remember the excitement of going to go see The River Wild (I was 16 and kind of in love with Kevin Bacon, so sue me). But also, my mom and I have seen a ton of movies, just because (Spy GameThe Usual Suspects,  and The Pelican Brief).

So it came as no surprise that my parents would like super hero movies. After all, my mom and I waited in line, when I was little, to see the Batman movies (you know, the Michael Keaton ones). And last May, when my dad was taking care of me after I’d sprained my left ankle and right foot (seriously), we went to see Thor. We’ve always liked the Superman movies as well. And when I saw that one of my libraries had Captain America in, I knew I had to check it out, and I did.

Captain America was way, way better the second time. I still don’t like tiny, CIG’d Chris Evans, but now that I have all these Captain America feelings, it wasn’t so bad. I also found that seeing these movies in close proximity with each other makes a huge difference. I got all of these connections (the tree on the wall that Red Skull knocks over, where Agent Coulson goes during Iron Man 2, etc etc) that I didn’t get the first time through. Back to Captain America, both my parents liked it — it wasn’t their favorite (it’s not mine), but was enjoyable. Then we watched Iron Man 2, which I’ve seen at least twice (it was on Netflix and I left my copy of the original Iron Man, along with my copy of Thor, at home). I love it, even though it’s probably the worst of the bunch so far. We mostly like Mickey Rourke and his electric whips. But what was also quite amusing that we watched it on Saturday, and then Monaco Grand Prix (which Tony Stark is racing in) was on Sunday the 27, aka the next day.

Then we watched Thor, which I’ve actually only seen once and my mother’s never seen. This was the favorite movie of the weekend (though I think we all agree that Iron Man is best). I’m in it for Loki/Tom Hiddleston. My dad doesn’t have a specific reason, though he does like Natalie Portman (she didn’t really annoy me this time through, which was nice) and my mom, well, she really took a liking to Thor. I found myself studying Loki far more than I had the first time through (because my dad and I had just watched Kenneth Branagh’s Wallander, which also stars Tom Hiddleston, so for most of the moving I was omging over him) and found him to still be a quite interesting character. But I also found the movie to be amusing, which made me realize that’s one of the things I love about these Marvel movies that I don’t like about the new Batman movies (aside from not liking Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne). They’re far too dark than what I’m looking for. Which is why even though not everything worked in The Avengers and some of the jokes weren’t quite in character, I didn’t mind so much because they made me laugh and that’s what I wanted.

Overall? It was a totally successful super hero weekend. I don’t know when my parents will see The Avengers, but now I know they’re prepared. Oh, and I totally saw Hawkeye in Thor. I didn’t realize who he was the first time around, so that was an added bonus.

Did I need to show them these movies? No. Am I glad I did? Totally. Should you see them? What are you waiting for?