Link Roundup: May 2022

In case you missed it, I wrote about how gray-asexuality is portrayed in mainstream media.  Gray-asexuality is a highly prevalent, as well as historically significant group within the asexual spectrum, but you wouldn’t know it from media coverage, which tends to ignore gray-asexuality entirely.

Samantha’s ‘Oo Antava’ item song attempts to subvert the male gaze, but does it? | The News Minute – This is a random article I found by looking up some Indian pop music, but it’s a fascinating glimpse into feminist arguments from another part of the world.  According to the article, many “item songs” in Indian cinema engage in objectification of women, but this particular song instead scrutinizes the male gaze, saying men will ogle regardless of what a woman wears.  But there’s criticism that the song excuses men by depicting men’s lust as automatic or uncontrollable.  And on the other end, a men’s association apparently filed a lawsuit against the song for portraying men too negatively?  Nobody knows anything about that lawsuit, but from an American perspective it’s the most baffling aspect.

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Link Roundup: April 2022

Why is board gaming so white and male? I’m trying to figure that out | The Conversation – The author doesn’t answer the question in the title, but does share a bunch of statistics they’ve been collecting in their research on board gaming.  Regardless of the cause, board gamers and board game designers ought to make a conscious effort to make the hobby welcoming to demographics that may, at first, not appear to be present.  As a simple example of this, Dominion used to have predominantly male characters in its art, and reportedly this is because the game publisher hired a bunch of artists, most of whom independently decided to depict male subjects.  So the designer started specifically requesting that artists depict women, and this led to the gender ratios becoming more balanced.

The Ethics of Looking and the “Harmless” Peeping Tom | Pop Culture Detective (video, 28 min) – A serious discussion of peeping toms in film.  Usually this is depicted as a harmless action, performed by sympathetic protagonists, with the camera’s point of view chosen to simulate the audience’s participation as well.  I highly appreciate Pop Culture Detective’s ability to find lots and lots of examples in film, often in movies I’ve already seen, but in scenes I had forgotten, or were just beneath my awareness.  While the fictional depiction of peeping toms does not directly lead to people becoming peeping toms, it becomes this sort of cultural background noise where invading privacy is normalized and not taken very seriously.

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Link Roundup: March 2022

CGP Grey was WRONG | CGP Grey (video, 18 min) – An old video, but I really liked this discussion of errors made in the context of content creation.  It can be a lot of work to get things right, but then as soon as you hit publish some expert immediately appears to point out the glaring problem. But this dynamic scales weirdly with popularity.  When you’re obscure, it hardly matters what you say, and there aren’t always experts around to correct you; but when you’re popular you have to spend a lot of time getting it right the first time.

The Worst Double Standard in Gaming | Graythorn (video, 21 min) – This video points out that MMORPGs and life simulation games are quite similar, but the former tend to have more gamer cred.  Graythorn then analyzes the differences in the genres to infer what game elements are associated with greater “legitimacy”.

The Bisexual Gimmick | A Deep Dive into Bisexual Reality Television | verilybitchie (video, 1:30 hours) – Verity Ritchie goes through a list of reality television shows that have used bisexuality as a gimmick, from the conscientious to the sensational.  Guess which shows were most popular.  A fascinating study of the many issues in bisexual media representation.  I particularly liked the discussion of monogamy as it’s understood in reality television.  Like, they’re clearly not monogamous, but they have this fiction that it’s all monogamous because monogamy is the end goal.

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.

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Link Roundup: January 2022

Circumgender: A Gender/fucked history | Fox Auslander (zine) – This zine tells a story of a single microlabel.  It was supposedly coined by a 13-year old girl on Tumblr, but in fact the girl was the fabrication of a then self-proclaimed truscum (roughly means a binary trans person who doesn’t believe in nonbinary identities).  Now, the term is regularly mocked by TERFs, while also being “reclaimed” by a small number of people who identify with the experience it describes.  The original coiner collaborated to make this zine to beg people to stop.

You may have heard of the many microlabels that have been coined, especially in relation to asexual or nonbinary experiences.  These microlabels often have a secret history.  They’re not usually hoaxes–so far as I know–but they tend to be individual projects.  They rarely gain much traction as identities, but often gain disproportionate attention.  I have no ill will towards people who like adopting uncommon labels, and a few of them are more successful than you might think, but I’m extremely critical of resources that list all these identities without any real context on what’s going on.  If you’ve ever used the LGBTA wiki, please don’t, it’s completely littered with terms that were basically dead on arrival, and it routinely fails to supply that important bit of context.

‘Buy the Constitution’ Aftermath: Everyone Very Mad, Confused, Losing Lots of Money, Fighting, Crying, Etc. | Vice Motherboard – A cryptocurrency-based organization crowdfunded $40M to bid on a copy of the US Constitution, but ultimately lost the auction.  People donated eth in exchange for tokens that supposedly gave them voting power over a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO).  However, the details of how this governance would actually work was never quite worked out, and the decentralized organization was in fact centralized in all but name.  Even though the governance tokens are theoretically tied to a concrete amount of money, prices fluctuated wildly due to speculation and erratic behavior from the central group. I think if the central group was smart, they made a killing by making trades prior to their own public announcements.

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Link Roundup: December 2021

Just a couple videos in today’s roundup, and that’s probably it for me this year.  See you in 2022!

Disney’s FastPass: A Complicated History | Defunctland (video, 1:43 hours) – A detailed exploration of the virtual queue systems used in Disneyland and Disney World, explaining their advantages and disadvantages.  I grew up in Los Angeles and we had annual passes during the paper FastPass era… I didn’t realize how good we had it.  Although it is true that we had the routing problem of walking to the ride to get a FastPass, and then returning again an hour later to ride.  And the result is that my memories of Disneyland are strongly associated with listening to my parents bicker about optimizing the routing all the time.

I Found the Worst Christian Show | Big Joel (video, 37 min) – Joel watches episodes of Dream Motel, explaining how it often comes close to telling a decent story, but frequently veers off, defying conventional narrative logic.  A fun video, it feels like it provides insight into the American Christian mindset, although it’s hard to put into words what that insight actually is.  I wonder whether the show actually makes sense within the expectations of its target audience, or if it would just be perceived as bad writing.

Link roundup: November 2021

While I’ve been quiet here in the past month, I’ve been busy elsewhere.  The Ace Community Survey released a new report, and survey.  And on The Asexual Agenda, I wrote about Jones from Gunnerkrigg Court, and about a constructionist view of attraction.   Finally, the Ace Journal Club read an evolutionary psychology paper.

Newton’s Fractal (which Newton knew nothing about) | 3Blue1Brown (video, 26 min) – 3b1b explains the Newton’s Fractals and where they come from, using some excellent visuals. I’ve explained before how my avatar is a Newton’s fractal–albeit from a non-polynomial function. Really I just messed around with weird complex functions until I got stuff that looked nice. Having had that experience, I’m a bit disappointed that people often stop at polynomials.  They’re missing out. Still, it’s rare to get visuals that are as good as in this video.  Also see part 2 about the connection to Mandelbrot sets.

How Bisexuality Changed Video Games | verilybitchie (video, 54 min) – An entertaining deep dive on playersexuality, and related topics.  Although many romanceable characters are mechanically bisexual, it’s often written with straight or gay players in mind, and the only way for the player to really express bisexuality is by romancing multiple people, which games treat as bad.

Here’s an idea: anti-playersexuality.  Like, a male NPC who is gay if the player character is a woman, and straight if the player character is a man.  Upon multiple playthroughs, the player is left to deduce that the NPC is really bisexual, asexual, or perhaps simply that the world bends to your choices but not to your will.

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