Link Roundup: April 2020

I tried to make so that not all my links were COVID-19-related… so I have one thing.  Yeah, the problem with virus links is not just that we’re tired of them, it’s that they get out of date too quickly for a monthly link roundup.

Why Avatar has the Most Ironic Soundtrack of All Time | Sideways (video) – Avatar was a thing, I guess it must have had a soundtrack?  Apparently the director wanted the aliens to have totally alien music, blending all sorts of traditions, like nothing we’ve ever heard before.  So the composer consulted with an ethnomusicologist, and they made what was requested.  But the director rejected it over and over, and the movie got a bland soundtrack that I for one cannot remember.  The guy who made this video though, he’s just so unreasonably optimistic about this rejected soundtrack.  Does he think that if they made a soundtrack unlike anything anyone’s heard and put it in a blockbuster film, people would like it?  It was a fool’s quest from the start.  Gosh, I’m sure I would like it, but I also like pop songs where the vocals are a half-step out of key.

For those who don’t like video, the story is also in an article written by the ethnomusicologist.

The rest are coronavirus.

I Can’t Stop Watching Contagion | Folding Ideas (video) – Content warning: anxiety-inducing.  Dan Olson talks about a 2011 film about a pandemic, sort of like how I wrote earlier about Doomsday Book, but he does it better.

Toilet Paper in a Pandemic | Econproph – The run on toilet paper has confused me, because our household already has months of supply in ordinary circumstances, and I’d sooner worry about starving than running out of TP.  This economist offered the most reasonable explanation I’ve heard: toilet paper is very bulky relative to its profit margins, so stores actually stock very little of it and maintain a high turnover rate.  Another contributor may be difficulty in shifting production from commercial TP to retail TP.  So I don’t think hoarding is the root cause, although people might be hoarding in response to the shortage.

In my experience grocery shopping, supplies have been unstable, with random things running out.  It has stabilized over time, but one thing that has endured is the soymilk and tofu shortage.

Before Trump’s inauguration, a warning: ‘The worst influenza pandemic since 1918’ | Politico – Almost all of us were caught off-guard by this pandemic, and didn’t really understand what was to come.  However, the Trump administration should not have been caught off guard–they participated in a legally required transition exercise in 2017 which covered nearly the exact same scenario.  It’s just that the administration blew it off, and Trump replaced most of the people who participated.

Is the Coronavirus Airborne?  Should we all wear masks? | The Atlantic – A good article clarifying the scientific arguments surrounding the “airborne” nature of the virus and the efficacy of masks.  Soon after this article came out, the CDC started recommending people use cloth masks.  On a personal note, we have N95 masks, which we got for the California fires of 2018, but I can’t actually wear them because it turns out they’re not compatible with my asthma.  So I made a cloth mask precisely because it’s less effective.


  1. coyote says

    Thanks for sharing that Avatar soundtrack analysis. Absolutely blown away by the words “understood by all, from Oklahoma to South Dakota.”

  2. says

    Yeah, I really don’t know what that’s supposed to mean. I guess Oklahoma and South Dakota contain multitudes?

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