Low-effort Link Roundup (July 17, 2023)

halftone image of flowers with abstract text

On Mondays, I usually give updates on various projects that I'm working on, but it's been a week and I don't have much interesting to say about 'em. I've been doing a lot of writing and I dropped an episode of the podcast about stories of the pigman in Denton, Texas. But to be honest, I'm a bit depressed right now, so aside from that, and working, I've mostly been moping around reading manga and playing Beat Saber. So it goes.

I haven't done a link roundup in a while, so I figured I'd share some stuff I've found interesting lately. (I may have shared some of these already, but my website doesn't have a full-text search, so who knows?) Anyway, please enjoy this jumble of various articles, books, music, and videos, arranged in descending order from serious to trashy.


UAPs, UAVs, and other new UFO euphemisms blur reality

This March 3, 2022, talk that Jacques Vallee gave for the Archives of the Impossible had some interesting insights about how when science fails, people come up with language to cover up their failure. He says that these new abbreviations for UFOs are just ways to blur the physical and psychological reality of different people's experiences of UFOs. He says that the categories aren't quite broad enough to cover those sorts of things people have seen, leaving us with fewer words to describe our own experiences.

He calls it a "subtle linguistic displacement." He also says it "unfairly biases future research." This bit of the speech starts around the 10 min mark of this video.

Plants can tell when you're touching them

Did I already share this article? Anyway, this talks about a study showing that despite not having nerves, plants can detect touch:

In a set of experiments, individual plant cells responded to the touch of a very fine glass rod by sending slow waves of calcium signals to other plant cells, and when that pressure was released, they sent much more rapid waves. While scientists have known that plants can respond to touch, this study shows that plant cells send different signals when touch is initiated and ended.


AI is the anti-printing press

Last month, I heard an observation about AI that I haven't been able to get out of my head since: About 30 minutes into  this episode of the Trashfuture podcast, one of the hosts describes AI as the anti-printing press, because it destroys communication and obfuscates art. For example, the internet's full of garbage content-farm LLM copy, burying actual meaningful work by humans.

It was unclear to me whether it was an original observation or a repeat of what someone else said online, but it's a smart way of putting it.

The Y2K aesthetic look was techno-utopian

This video really gets into all things Y2K, talking about cultural forces at the time, tech like the iMac, music videos, CGI and CAD software, fashion, etc. I thought it was an interesting and thoughtful analysis.


All My Homies Hate Skrillex

This is a great documentary about the history of dubstep. This is another link that I'm like 50% sure I've shared already, but if so, it's worth resharing because it's great. The video is one part memory, one part analysis, one part music history.

Giolì & Assia

This week, I've been obsessively listening to Giolì & Assia, a Sicilian duo who are known for doing amazing DJ sets (which include them performing original songs live) in wild locations.

For example, they did this set on Mount Etna. They brought a grand piano (and many other instruments) to the top of Mount Etna! If you like or even tolerate electronic music, I'd recommend it; the views are beautiful and there's an A+ cover of "Mad World" by Tears for Fears about 24 minutes in.

Also check out their sunrise set at the Temple of Segesta in Sicily! Or at this glacial lagoon in Iceland! They have a ton of these videos and I've had them on repeat all week.


Self-Made Boys by Anna-Marie McLemore

I'm a sucker for a Great Gatsby retelling, especially ones that are even queerer than the original. So I'm really enjoying this one! Both Nick and Gatsby are trans dudes in this one. I'm about halfway through the audiobook, which I recommend.

The Great Gatsby is the quintessential summer-in-New York City book, so I particularly like reading Gatsby or Gatsby retellings this time of year. NYC may not be as hot as Texas, where I grew up, but summers are their own sort of misery here, and Gatsby perfectly captures that summer-in-the-city vibe of brightness underlaid with rot.

By the way, if you're looking for another good queer Gatsby recommendation, might I suggest The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo? It's told from Jordan Baker's point of view and it adds a magical realism spin to the story.

10 Dance by Inouesatoh

I'm really blowing through the queer manga in the New York Public Library's digital collection, but the most memorable series I read this week is 10 Dance. It's a romance between two competitive ballroom dancers. It's a really slow burn, and I can't believe I have to wait until September for the next volume to come out in English. I am displeased.


In this week's blog posts, I'll be revisiting a subject that my then-cohost and I covered waaaaay back when the podcast first started: In 19th century Australia, it became very popular to douse oneself in toxic phosphorescent paint and then commit crimes while pretending to be a ghost. So keep an eye out for that. History's wild.