Art and Design Culture

Watched Last Week Tonight: Museums

Watched Museums: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) from YouTube

John Oliver discusses some of the world’s most prestigious museums, why they contain so many stolen goods, the market that continues to illegally trade antiq…

Give. It. Back.

See also:

Activism idea: ranking museums by stolen artifacts

Political Commentary

Watched Last Week Tonight: Qatar World Cup

Watched Qatar World Cup: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) from YouTube

John Oliver discusses the Qatar World Cup, the human rights violations happening in the sporting event’s host country, and what perfection really means to Da…

Kafala system – this form of indentured servitude is basically what Elon Musk envisions for colonizing Mars

The Internet

Twitter and social media commentary

Cleaning out some tabs…

To read:

The Billionaire and the Anarchists (Crimethinc) – 10/28

Elon Musk and the Narcissism/Radicalization Maelstrom (TPM) – 11/25

Genius Elon Musk is not so smart about Twitter (Mike’s List) – 12/6

There is no social media alternative (Ed Bott’s READ.ME) – 11/5

The Whiteness of Mastodon (Tech Policy Press) – 11/23

I don’t want to go back to social media (Lapcat Software) – 11/19

How to gain a gazillion followers online, Taco Bell Quarterly Style (LitHub) – 11/22

We Joined Mastodon. Here’s What We Learned About Privacy and Security (The Markup) – 11/21

OMG, a Right-Wing Jerk Can Buy Twitter! Media Concentration Matters (Counterpunch) – 12/1

There Is No Safe Alternative to Twitter (Yet) (Ginny.Today) – 5/13

How Web Platforms Collapse: The Facebook Case Study (The Honest Broker) – 12/4

It’s ok to feel sad about Twitter (Garbage Day) – 11/18

Social media is just a thing that happens (Garbage Day) – 11/9

Comics Society

Superman is irrelevant — which makes him relevant?

My friend sent me a screenshot that people saw someone at the January 6th attempted insurrection who looked like Clark Kent, and was like, they know Superman would never, right? I also was listening to Land of Confusion with the line, “Superman where are you now / when everything’s gone wrong somehow”

I’ve never liked Superman so I am admittedly biased — but I think Superman is particularly irrelevant and impotent today. His storylines worked in a time when good and evil seemed clear: America good, commies bad. America’s dark deeds and inequality could be shunted to the edges of society and glossed over; but now the veneer has been pried off and the rot at the heart of American culture and independent heroism is clear.

In contrast, Batman fits in a modern era, with his psychological trauma and heavy conscience and self-flagellating batter-his-head determination to pursue a thankless, impossible mission alone. He holds himself apart, making himself weaker in refusing to build real relationships, crippled by fear of loss, building bonds only through his secret second life. He is a hero of the shadows, born of darkness, hopeless yet grimly persevering.

Superman is the 1950s American hero: a strong man with clear convictions, willing to fight for his country! *Triumphant music* He’s a man for black and white problems with a clear solution. That doesn’t fit today’s problems — climate change, social division, a deadly and disabling virus, erosion of Americans’ civil rights, destruction of the democratic process — which can’t be punched into repair, can’t be muscled into a happy ending. Batman knows he’s not up to the task, but he’ll show up to fight anyway, not recognizing that filling the role of hero reinforces the divisions in the community and he thus defeats himself, tragically missing that it’s community and collaboration that are the key. That he will never be able to fix this on his own. Bruce is an elite, a 1-percenter, his very existence at the heart of the problem he seeks to fix. The systemic problems are beyond one man’s ability to charity his way out of, so his guilt drives him to bear personal responsibility by physically fighting the manifestations of his constant failure. He’s so tragic and lost, I love him — and he fits our world of gray morality and deification of the toxic American myth of the lone gunman, the independent hero. His despair is ours, his failure ours.

How would Superman react to the modern world? Where America often plays the villain on the world stage, invading countries and supporting coups and rebellions to suit political ends, and fails to live up to its ideals with the suspension of habeas corpus for brown terrorists while doing nothing to stop white supremacist violence, intensive mass surveillance of its own people, and permanent separation of children from their parents at the border as they flee their homes to escape violence. Frankly his impotence could finally make him an interesting character, when he loses the ability to save the world and his powers make no difference. When the nuclear arsenals are so large he could never stop all the bombs. When his helping the government is letting himself be used for the purposes of the nation state rather than the benefit of its people.

Yet he’d be a never give up hope kinda guy, even in his personal impotence a la Watchmen. Which could make him once more a powerful inspirational figure in leading the fight against fascism (from within), inspiring people to never give up, to never accept that they are powerless. Ironically becoming the hero needed today through his own personal loss of power.

Would he hang up the cape and spend his time on investigative journalism? Would he become a spokesperson (or social media influencer???) for climate action? Would he lead voter registration drives and phone bank? Would he become a protestor and chain himself to machinery, blocking construction of pipelines? Would he punchinate Mount Rushmore back into the indigenous people’s sacred form?

How would he grapple with the psychology of losing his identity of hero? Would it be a relief to be unburdened of responsibility, or a source of guilt and shame to not be able to set things right? Or would he let go the world’s bigger problems and keep his focus on the ones he can settle with his powers so he could remain a hero in his traditional form?

So basically I want a Vertigo Superman story 😉 Still sad about Vertigo…

(If anyone’s actually written Superman or Batman comics like this please let me know, I don’t follow DC or Marvel releases, too many to keep up with and too much lore. I tend to read one-offs like Frank Miller’s Batman.)

ETA 7/26: DC Films doesn’t know what to do with Superman – lol not without pissing off Nazis anyway

Fun Relationships The Internet



Via Jacky.

This is a fun concept! Almost like live blogging as a team, MST3K but for feeds instead of movies.

I feel like something like this unintentionally happens when I’m with a group of people in person but we’re all on our computers, and as we’re chatting about something, all independently pull up the wikipedia page on the subject we’re talking about and start quoting our favorite bits.

Art and Design Featured Society Writing

Writing Metrics and Capitalism

Replied to Writing Is about the Right Words, not the MOST Words by Lincoln Michel (Counter Craft)

Why are we more comfortable talking about output than art?

Neil Gaiman QTs Scalzi, saying "I wrote Coraline in 50 words a night," in response to Scalzi commenting on a couple people who said he couldn't call himself a full-time writer if he's only working four hours a day, to which he points out that's awesome and also writing is more than typing

Writers are often less comfortable talking about aesthetics than productivity.

I’ve had this feeling about NaNoWriMo for a while, which is why this year I switched to a daily time goal rather than word count. And I didn’t write 50,000 words… but I didn’t need to. What I needed to do was reach the end of my book, which I did. I’ve gotten a lot out of NaNo, including dear friendships, and have nothing to prove anymore.

But I think this is interesting analysis of why it’s proven so successful: it’s easy to measure how much or how long you’ve written. It’s not possible to measure quality. And capitalism drives us towards quantification, towards the tangible.

If people won’t respect your qualitative creativity, maybe they’ll at least respect your quantitative output?

It ties to imposter syndrome, and the fact that honestly IMO it takes about ten years to learn how to tell a story and write a complete work that works, but that’s a long time to feel like you’ve got nothing to show. At least if you have word count that feels real, versus recognizing the shift in your storytelling abilities, learning what writing method works for you, and learning to recognize what is good and what needs work, to be able to recognize your own strengths and weaknesses.

We invest a lot of our identities in the things we make, so it’s not enough to be a writer: we must be a good writer, otherwise we’re wasting our time, under capitalism. And we can’t weigh what makes a good writer, so metrics let us feel more comfortable in the identity.

it’s important to remember that time spent in front of your computer, the number of drafts written, the number of words written… none of those actually mean anything by themselves.

This makes me think too of my feelings about website analytics, and how the ubiquity and normativity of tracking leads us to fall into the trap of tracking stats we don’t have any need or purpose for. What we can measure becomes our focus, because it’s concrete, and leads to the presumption that more is better. It’s easy to be distracted from our ultimate goals by more quantifiable factors.


Real Coziness

Bookmarked Is “cozy season” a cry for help? by Kathryn Jezer-Morton (Mothers Under the Influence)

Instagram representations of coziness are primarily about safety and comfort, but they are also about order and control. Everything in its right place. The house is cleaned, the candles lit. No unexpected intrusions can disturb the feeling. Just as important as what we see — the couch, the socks, the candle — are the things we don’t see: Mess, disorder, the unpredictable reality of the world outside.

Instagram does a bad job of representing the actual experience of being human… what’s being attempted is the commodification of the uncommodifiable.

Cozy season on social media might be a cry for help. We all want so badly to belong somewhere, and the perfect artefacts of coziness can’t help us achieve that feeling. Collect a bunch of cozy-projecting objects and you’ll just end up working to maintain your stuff, when what you really need is for your stuff to maintain you.

Buying our way to the feeling of safety, comfort and control via aesthetic. My husband calls it nesting when I do it… it’s totally a way to exert some control over some part of your life. To make things look nice in hopes they’ll feel nice too.

Art and Design Resources and Reference

Design Learning

Design Readings

Books, pdfs, and websites that make up a comprehensive design library and provide commentary on design topics and how design interacts with the real world.

Readymag Design Almanac Typography

Readymag Design Almanac is an educational project covering the fundamentals of design. This chapter is dedicated to font combination: it examines four classic font pairings and explains in detail why they make such a perfect match.

Drawing Tips and Lessons from Steve Lowtwait

I post frequent art breakdowns, mostly related to environment design in my field of animation, but also character design and color work. I cover composition, perspective, storytelling, and more from my experience as an animation Art Director.

Book Cover Design Advice from Kathryn Rosa Miller

Case study makeovers of indie book covers, primarily in the SFF genres, by a graphic designer.