Weekend Reads: 9/11/2020

I don’t have any thoughtful commentary for you today. I had some earlier in the week and then forgot to write them down. In addition, most of my attention (for better or for worse) has been focused on the state of the world and sports. So, I guess just enjoy(?) this small selection of articles.

Let’s get real. No vaccine will work as if by magic, returning us to ‘normal’ (Guardian)

To dream of imminent solutions is only human. But progress will come from controlled expectations

Jobs in these industries won’t come back even after the pandemic is over (CNN)

Most of the job losses thus far have been in industries impacted by social distancing, such as entertainment, restaurants and personal care. Those industries are likely to recover once the fear of the pandemic subsides. However, automation and the rapid shift to e-commerce, remote work and online learning will lead to job losses in several other industries that will last well beyond the pandemic.

America Is Trapped in a Pandemic Spiral (The Atlantic – their COVID coverage is free)

As the U.S. heads toward the winter, the country is going round in circles, making the same conceptual errors that have plagued it since spring.

Sid Meier: ‘I’m not sure I’d play Civilisation if it was released today’ (Independent)

The creator of one of the most complex and influential video games of all time talks to Ed Cumming about his new autobiography, developments in technology, and storytelling

It Will Take More Than a Vaccine to Beat COVID-19 (New Yorker – $$$)

Vaccines are making progress, but they may not defeat the virus completely. Luckily, other therapies are on the way, too.

And, before you go, enjoy this song by one of my favorite singer, Gaho.

Weekend Reads – Friday, August 30 2020

This week’s post is a collection of articles that span a lot of topics. There’s no theme, except that I found all of these links interesting. If you’re looking for something a bit more pandemic related, check out my Wednesday Links post from earlier in the week – it’s all about COVID/SARS COV2.

How to Outrun a Dinosaur (Wired – $$)

If, through some scientific malfunction, you found yourself transported 70 million years into the past, you might be safer from certain hungry reptiles than you think.

The K-Pop Fans Who Tweet Fake News (Paper Magazine)

Why some K-Pop fans obsessively “clear the searches”

Black ‘The Sims 4’ Players Are Changing One of the World’s Biggest Games (Vice)

The Sims has been an industry leader in terms of diversity and inclusion, but black players have been fighting to see themselves in the game for years.

Transparent Public Toilets Unveiled In Tokyo Parks — But They Also Offer Privacy (NPR)

The project’s eye-catching toilets are part of a plan to put people at ease when visiting a public bathroom – a prospect that can trigger a number of responses, from relief to trepidation.

Note: I love these bathrooms. They are absolutely gorgeous – especially when seen at night. It makes me want to move to Japan.

Anatomy of a Photograph: Authoritarianism in America (The Atlantic – $$)

When the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff shows up at a peaceful protest in battle fatigues, it’s time to pay attention.

The Prince of Georgia Is Big on Instagram (Wired – $$)

The musician BERA is the son of the country’s former prime minister and richest man. When street protests arose in Tbilisi, I went to check on him.

Confessions of an ID Theft Kingpin: Parts One and Two (Krebs on Security)

At the height of his cybercriminal career, the hacker known as “Hieupc” was earning $125,000 a month running a bustling identity theft service that siphoned consumer dossiers from some of the world’s top data brokers. That is, until his greed and ambition played straight into an elaborate snare set by the U.S. Secret Service. Now, after more than seven years in prison Hieupc is back in his home country and hoping to convince other would-be cybercrooks to use their computer skills for good.

And finally, a cartoon that sums up a lot of how I feel. Tag yourself: I’m Too Direct

COVID Risk Comfort Zone (xkcd)

The Wednesday Four (06/17/15)

A wide range of things, not all of them good. Also, if you don’t read anything else about GamerGate, you should read the fourth link.

  • Moving to Mars Preparing for the longest, loneliest voyage ever. (New Yorker)
  • Game of Fear What if a stalker had an army? Zoe Quinn’s ex-boyfriend was obsessed with destroying her reputation—and thousands of online strangers were eager to help. (Boston Magazine)

Do you think in emoji? I certainly don’t. Though I don’t use them, except for hearts, some smiles and occasionally animals when I’m feeling annoying. I use stickers on Line and Facebook Messenger a lot more often (and I enjoy them more, to be honest) than I’ve ever used emojis. I have, on occasion, wished that the stickers were available in my texts.

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:


Movie Review: Ace Attorney

Phoenix Wright (Naruhodō Ryūichi) played by Hiroki Narimiya

Phoenix Wright (Naruhodō Ryūichi) played by Hiroki Narimiya (gifs by creepynegra)

I’ve watched a lot of Japanese movies since I first watched Ace Attorney, but it was the movie that really started me on Japanese film (and tv). My friend B, who loves video games, had talked a lot about the game (which I had no device to play on), but I hadn’t really paid much attention to it. But then, as I was scrolling through tumblr (this is how these things usually start, I’m noticing), I stumbled across a picture of this dude that looked awfully familiar, but it was live action and not animated. After a bit of research, I discovered that the picture was, in fact, from Ace Attorney and that the character was Phoenix Wright (the English version of his name, it’s Naruhodō Ryūichi in Japanese). The actor playing him was Hiroki Narimiya (who is awfully, awfully cute, but has since been shoved down lower on my list of favorite Japanese actors, sorry dude).

So, I did what any curious fangirl would do, and I downloaded the movie. Why? Because it’s not available with English subs anywhere to rent/stream/purchase (and believe me, I keep checking — I desperately want to own this movie). I found a fansubbed copy and fell in love almost immediately.

Now, I need to get a couple of things clear, prior to seeing this movie, the only thing I knew about AA was that Phoenix Wright said ‘OBJECTION’ a lot and had great, stereotypical anime hair and that it was originally a video game (and has since expanded to include a lot of other characters). I didn’t know anything about the game itself or the fandom surrounding the AA franchise. I was just interested in it because I’d heard of AA in passing and also, Hiroki Narimiya seemed pretty cute. This means, of course, that I loved the film without any hesitation because I had nothing to compare it to (there are complaints based on how it differs from the game, but obviously that wasn’t ever an issue for me).

The movie, Ace Attorney (Gyakuten Saiban), is sort of the story of Phoenix Wright. He’s a new attorney and ends getting involved with a huge case when his partner is killed. Her sister is accused of murder and he must defend her. The movie stuffs a several of cases into the film (they all come from the game, I discovered later), but connects them loosely. Phoenix ends up going against his childhood BFF, prosecutor Miles Edgeworth (Mitsurugi Reiji, who is played by my friend D’s favorite Japanese actor, Takumi Saito), at one point and their interactions are endlessly amusing.

Miles Edgeworth (Mitsurugi Reiji) played by Takumi Saito

Miles Edgeworth (Mitsurugi Reiji) played by Takumi Saito (gifs by creepynegra)

Obviously, there’s a lot of comedy and overacting, which works perfectly (and was a really good introduction to Japanese acting) in the context of the movie. It looks really, really snazzy, too. Like a comic book brought to life. After I’d watched the movie, I decided I needed more of the AA world. I discovered there were a bunch manga (about both Phoenix Wright and Miles Edgeworth), and I now own all the English translated. Also, I emailed B and asked her if there was a game version on either iOS or Wii that I could play, she suggested iOS and I’ve been playing it (and loving it) on and off for a long time. I’m not very good, but it’s lots of fun (especially since I don’t have to interact with anything except the game itself).

Overall, it’s a super fun film. If you liked the game, you might enjoy see the characters in the live action context. Otherwise, I’m not really sure who this film appeals to (aside from fans of the actors). I loved it because it was ridiculous and funny and I had just enough background to understand it was an adaptation, but none of the hang ups of longtime fans. I really wish they’d release this movie with English subs, because I want to watch it again and again.

Monday Links

Here are some links that I’ve come across over the past few days.

The Apollo 11 Journey in Photographs (The Atlantic): Some pretty cool photographs of Apollo and the day Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. Including the photo to the left

Alone in the Ocean (Now I Know): A short article about a whale, called the 52 Hertz whale, who speaks at a different frequency than other whales and is, therefore, forever alone. Poor guy, though he/she seems to be surviving just fine, somehow.

Jane McGonigal: The game that can give you 10 extra years of life (TED): I think I was linked to this via Library Link of the Day, but I don’t remember. It’s a 20 minute video about McGonigal, who designs games, and figured out a way to make our lives better. I actually recommend the video because it’s interesting, kind of cute and really fun(ny).

Guest Post: The Truth Behind TSA Backscanners: Are They Safe? (Smaller Questions): A surprisingly interesting and easy to understand post about the scanners we go through at the airport. I completely agree with this part of the post as well:

The individual cancer risk from this amount of radiation pales in comparison to lifestyle risk factors for cancer like smoking, diet, and fitness.  However, one of the central tenets of radiation protection is a concept called ALARA – As Low As Reasonably Achievable.  The idea is that one should only use as much radiation as is needed, and no more.  Given that there is a perfectly good alternative that doesn’t use ionizing radiation (microwave-based scanner), in my opinion it is irresponsible to use radiation when it isn’t needed.

Living With Voices: A new way to deal with disturbing voices offers hope for those with other forms of psychosis (The American Scholar): I’m not that familiar with people who hear voices (external or internal), aside from what I’ve seen in TV shows (mostly likely wrong, too) so this article was both interesting and enlightening.

Deniers, disgust, and defamation (Bad Astronomy): My favorite Astronomer, Phil Plait, talks about the anti-science movement and how they’ve taken to personally attacking scientists (because they can’t attack the science). It’s pretty gross, but at least people are standing up against them.

And, finally, have a picture of a newly born baby manatee (to a rescued mother) and a series of photos of Kang Daesung, my favorite member of the Korean group Big Bang, from a recent concert in Shanghai, China.

Friday Links (aren’t feeling very newsworthy)

Today’s links are mostly a bunch of pictures/videos, but I suppose that’s the way things end up. I’ve been watching more Wimbledon than anything else, to be quite honest. But we’ll start with a few blog posts.

    • In a lot of geekish circles I read/travel in, gaming and women has been a pretty hot topic. There’s been a lot of drama about women playing video games, about who the audience of games are and so on. Skepchick has a really good article about the lack of women characters in World of Warcraft, but the article is more meta that just that. I recommend giving it a read.
    • Phil Plait, of Bad Astronomy always posts really good time-lapse videos (which I really love) and the other day he posted a great one by Tor Even Mathisen, filmed in northern Norway, it includes auroras and snow — the perfect thing to watch since SE Michigan is under a heat advisory at the moment.
    • I recently finished a great Korean drama (tv show) called Hero (2012/OCN). I plan to review the whole show (it’s only 9 episodes) eventually, but if anyone is interested in what it is I like, you can watch the whole show on Hulu. Also, be sure to check out the kdrama City Hunter on Netflix Instant, it’s also good.