Link Roundup: February 2022

The Problem with NFTs | Foldable Ideas (video, 2:18 hours) – Incidentally, my husband started arguing with cryptobros on Twitter a while ago, and so over the past few months I’ve been learning a lot about how NFTs, while extremely absurd on the surface level, conceal many more layers of absurdity.  A dense two hour video is entirely necessary to explain the depths.

I also learned that I have a couple relatives who have invested in crypto assets. One relative said he wanted to learn about the process, so he spent $500 minting a now-worthless NFT; he said he felt pretty dumb about it.  Then he showed us his NFT, which was a randomly generated cartoon dude in a Guy Fawkes mask.  Another relative put a small amount on cryptocurrencies in one of those investment apps, just to track them.  He said they’re like stocks but a lot stupider.  They don’t pay dividends, they’re way way more volatile, and the entire cryptocurrency market is correlated, causing correlated risk.

How Disney Commodifies Culture – Southeast Asians Roast Raya and the Last Dragon | Xiran Jay Zhao (video, 2 hours, and there’s a part 2) – This is some incredible work, gathering all sorts of Southeast Asian opinions on every aspect of Raya and The Last Dragon.  So, I guess I’m Southeast Asian, although I don’t have much of a “SEA” identity and I’m not really one to ask about it.  But this video put to words a lot of dynamics that are going on around Southeast Asian representation in western media, which were previously only on the tip of my awareness.  It goes on discuss many elements of SEA cultures, and missed opportunities for the movie.

Balancing in the Middle | Problem Machine – Often, to make moral choices in video games more interesting, they add nuance by “balancing” the options.  Instead of just good and evil, everything is a moral grey.  Although this may make choices more engaging, it has the effect of portraying the “good” as ineffectual or even dangerous.

I was thinking about this because I’ve been playing Not For Broadcast, which suffers from this very problem (see this review for more context).  The player can align themselves with or against the government, and it seems to make the choice more morally balanced, the government is both socialist and fascist.  They eliminate homelessness and tax the rich, but create euthanasia centers, give grants to talentless artists, and so on.  I guess if the government were rightwing fascist, then it would be too obvious, not to mention too on the nose, but as it is it comes across as a paranoid conservative fantasy.

Defund the Police: Guy Fawkes Eve | Pervert Justice – I too have complained about the slogan “defund the police”–back when it was new to me, and on suitably obscure channels.  But it’s obviously a slogan, and it doesn’t need to be perfect, it’s literally impossible for a three-word phrase to be perfect.  As a slogan it’s a huge success.  Yes it’s a bit ambiguous, and that has advantages and disadvantages.  But it also has enough specificity to start a productive conversation; which I think is an improvement over “reform the police”, which leaves things so wide open that it’s hard to know where to start.

Listen, there’s sloganeering, and then there’s policy.  And then there’s people like me, whose dubious trade is to pick apart slogans without actually knowing anything about policy.  What I know, is that even good slogans can be picked apart.

Jon Stewart is Wrong: You Can’t Engage with Joe Rogan | Rebecca Watson – Wow, listening to Joe Rogan is more excruciating than I could have ever imagined.  But even outside of Joe Rogan, it’s wrong-headed to think that all we need to do is “engage” with with our opponents.  Fundamentally, establishing accurate facts is a difficult task, and live debate is not a good medium to tackle it.  It’s like when I tried answering physics questions without preparation… like, you know it’s really difficult to just know things off the top of your head?  You have to look things up, do research, permit mistakes, and none of that is possible in an adversarial live action format.

Time Loops are a weird genre for an anxious time | Polygon (video, 20 min) – A good video about both the narrative and social significance of video games with time loops.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *