Posted 2 months ago
If you were to recommend one book, your favorite book, to read, which would it be?
game-of-buttz asked


I honestly don’t do favorites and I don’t have a favorite book. I have a bunch of books I love but I don’t have a book I think everybody should read or a top 10 favorite books or a book I think contains the most wisdom. So my answer to this will vary from year to year. Right now when I realize how few people have read Merce Rodoreda I think, sweet Christmas, A Broken Mirror is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read, everyone should read it. So I dwell on that. But if I have any interesting reading advice I think it’s this: keep a list of what you read, and look over it from time to time, and ask: who’s underrepresented there? What do you know less about that you might know more about? What’s outside your usual scope? And then read that, and then read some more of that. But I’m not unsympathetic to people who wanna argue: nonsense, read what you like, life’s short, go with what speaks to you. For me, though, I get the most pleasure from trying to step beyond what I’m already tuned into.

One thing this means though is I have whole shelves of stuff I know I’d love but haven’t read precisely because I know I’d love it. But that’s cool. The shelves are there when I need ‘em. 

John Darnielle pretty much dead-on explaining why I have so many books in my not-very-big apartment, and also why there are so many shows in my Netflix list I haven’t watched, and also why there are so many albums and artists that I know I will like but haven’t had a chance to listen to.

Posted 2 months ago

Public utilities companies are hiding giant pump stations inside of fake homes. 

Posted 3 months ago

Scientific Consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming: A Pie Chart.” This is a really useful and important chart. If someone accepts the principles behind peer review and agrees to trust the results of that process, this chart basically proves that you can’t argue against global climate change anymore. Interesting stuff.

Posted 3 months ago


Everyone on the board of the Film Foundation

Don’t forget this is going on: this tumblr is cataloging foundations, groups, boards, etc. that are 100% men.

Posted 3 months ago

Assholes don’t realize that they’re assholes, but they are less adept at detailing how they are not assholes than are people who are actually not assholes.


Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

That’s incredibly interesting.

Posted 3 months ago


"Everything is a Remix Case Study: The iPhone" by Kirby Ferguson


Posted 3 months ago




Tweets loud and quiet - O’Reilly Radar

…the bulk of the service is decidedly smaller-scale–a low murmur with an occasional celebrity shouting on top of it. In comparative terms, almost nobody on Twitter is somebody: the median Twitter account has a single follower. Among the much smaller subset of accounts that have posted in the last 30 days, the median account has just 61 followers. If you’ve got a thousand followers, you’re at the 96th percentile of active Twitter users.

Via internal work email lists.

Emphasis added. 

This is the best:

On the other end, just under one in every thousand Twitter accounts has a name that refers to Justin Bieber in some way; an additional one in every thousand refers to Bieber in its account description.

This is a better bit to chew on though:

For a few weeks this fall I had my computer probe the Twitterverse, gathering details on a random sampling of about 400,000 Twitter accounts. The profile that emerges suggests that Twitter is more a consumption medium than a conversational one–an only-somewhat-democratized successor to broadcast television, in which a handful of people wield enormous influence and everyone else chatters with a few friends on living-room couches. There are undoubtedly some influential Twitter users who would not be influential without Twitter, but I suspect that most people who have, say, 3,000 followers (the top one percent) were prominent commentators, industry experts, or gregarious accumulators of friends to begin with.

Active Twitter accounts follow a median 117 users, and the vast majority of them–76%–follow more people than follow them. Which brings to mind both discussions about the mathematics of pairing and studies that suggest reciprocated friendship is both rare and valuable

Some things to keep in mind when thinking about social networks (not just the platforms themselves, but also the math of how people / nodes in the network relate to one another).

Posted 3 months ago

Court Says NSA Bulk Telephone Spying Is Unconstitutional | Threat Level |

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with this stuff as time goes on. It’s always strange to see dissent percolate upwards from low federal courts and end up, eventually, in the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s a reminder that it starts with basically one person saying “this is unfair,” and ends up possibly re-writing what we think os acceptable in America.

Posted 3 months ago


China’s Chang’e 3 lunar lander in lunar orbit, and deploying the Yutu rover.

Now lunar landing conspiracy theorists have a whole new country to target!

Very cool.

Posted 4 months ago
Hi! Recently I was reading up on japanese pop culture and specifically how in their cartoons they don't other the character designs, as Japanese readers naturally assume they're Japanese (while American readers assume they're white because they aren't othered). It got me thinking about representation in other countries, and I was wondering, do you have any articles discussing othering in medieval artwork of POC, if it exists? Or artwork found before westernization, and how that compares?
hatsandfruit asked




Actually, you’d be surprised how difficult this concept is to explain to people. At least, I have a difficult time with it.

A lot of the stuff that I post gets responses like, “Oh! That’s just an olive-skinned white person!!!” and “How can you even SAY that’s a person of color!!!”, and basically, the difference is, there is no racial Othering happening in the art. They aren’t marked as “Other”.  It’s like trying to figure out what race a stick figure is.

In art and animation from all over the world, there’s a tendency to depict people seen as Other with exaggerated features that particular group is assumed to have. Features that are deemed important to designating what we call “race”. Skin color, nose shape, hair texture, eye shape, more or less arbitrary designations of body parts that are agreed upon by society to denote “race”.

Many people of color in Medieval European art are often not “Marked” in these ways, because they weren’t considered to be important. It’s more a suggestion of “some people have more brownish skin, some people have this kind of hair shape and color…”

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about (and a piece that seemed to confuse a LOT of people):


Most of the people depicted here would probably fit into categories of different “races” as we have them today.

For some reason, a lot of people thought I was trying to say that the “zombies” are Black people because they’re shaded darkly. Actually, the ahem, “zombies” are several different races, and have different hair shapes, textures, and colors. Not to mention that for whatever reason, a lot of 13th century European art shows the rising dead (from Revelations) as Black people, for unknown reasons.

The point is, obviously all of the figures here show a good bit of diversity, which today we would probably consider racially diverse. But the features that we would consider salient racial features today, were not considered all that important, then. In other words, the artist would not have considered them to look especially different from anyone else in the ways we would recognize as someone of a particular race.

The exceptions would be someone who was considered to look very different, like someone with extremely light or very dark skin, or supposed to symbolize or be someone from far away, or a particular “other” nation.

Even a  lot of Renaissance Art assigns “race” fairly differently than a modern work would:


Clothing, weapons, jewelry and hairstyles are considered more salient here than skin color.

how interesting.

how does this factor into racism back then, considering it seems they (or at least artists) didn’t much focus on the physical features of the person, but more cultural aspects, like style of dress or hair?

There wasn’t racism then as we think of it and know it today. If you want to explore certain themes and ideas in Medieval European art, culture and literature that generated a kind of proto-racism/xenophobia, just read this because I can’t fit it all here.

Seriously. I said it yesterday, and I still stand strongly by it. This is such an important Tumblr. It’s so interesting that racism is kind of a modern thing when it comes to people of color.