Monthly Archives: January 2015

Christopher Nolan, Virtue, Interstellar, Fascism, and Batman

From a Reddit thread about Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy:

“Heroes have a special vision of what society could be, and it’s worth bending or breaking the rules, lying, secrecy, surveilling, or using violence — all to mold society, or keep society in line.

In all of Nolan’s superhero movies and Interstellar, it’s very uncertain if the people are even worth defending. The hero is the only source of virtue — he is needed to lead the people away from their own corruption and short-sightedness, or, failing that, to craft some sort of order that the people will accept.

The revolutionary, who justifies his actions because of oppression and income inequality, is a terrorist who all along was planning to destroy society. The wealthy liberal, who wanted to give technology to the people, turns out to be secretly allied with the terrorist. The rich, who were exposed as fools in a few key scenes, are dealt with, and everybody else is happy to wallow in mere anarchy as long as they can take rich people’s stuff.

[In Nolan-produced Man of Steel,] Superman’s purpose on Earth isn’t to protect people; it’s to inspire them to be better. … Superman is just better than the rest of us, and this is all he asks, the unchecked freedom to use his ability to surveil everyone in the world and to use violence when and where he chooses, because it will help us become better – whether we agree to it or not.

But in Nolan’s movies the hero is necessary because corruption is too pervasive, too insidious, too powerful, and the people are too weak. Paranoia about corruption and trust in strongmen — literal strong men, in superhero movies — is one of the hallmarks of fascism.”

Full discussion

Bjork on Women, Music, Auteurs, and Authorship

Bjork talks to Pitchfork about her new album (coming after the collapse of her marriage) and about the unique challenges of women in the music industry:

“I want to support young girls who are in their 20s now and tell them: You’re not just imagining things. It’s tough. Everything that a guy says once, you have to say five times. Girls now are also faced with different problems. I’ve been guilty of one thing: After being the only girl in bands for 10 years, I learned—the hard way—that if I was going to get my ideas through, I was going to have to pretend that they—men—had the ideas. I became really good at this and I don’t even notice it myself.”

On the music press’s refusal to see her collaborators as contributors without removing her as the auteur voice:

“I have nothing against Kanye West. Help me with this—I’m not dissing him—this is about how people talk about him. With the last album he did, he got all the best beatmakers on the planet at the time to make beats for him. A lot of the time, he wasn’t even there. Yet no one would question his authorship for a second. If whatever I’m saying to you now helps women, I’m up for saying it.”

“I did 80% of the beats on Vespertine and it took me three years to work on that album, because it was all microbeats—it was like doing a huge embroidery piece. Matmos came in the last two weeks and added percussion on top of the songs, but they didn’t do any of the main parts, and they are credited everywhere as having done the whole album. [Matmos’] Drew [Daniel] is a close friend of mine, and in every single interview he did, he corrected it. And they don’t even listen to him. It really is strange.”

Full interview

You And Your Vegan Cheese Can Fuck Off

You don’t have to eat cheese. You really don’t. If you are vegan, it’s simple: you don’t get to eat cheese. You have to give it up. Why not just stop there?

A  collective (team) of scientists called Real Vegan Cheese have banded (worked) together to bio-engineer vegan cheese. This is like a twee/precious BINGO card: (emphasis mine)

Artisanal vegan cheese — or, as the California Department of Food and Agriculture requires producers to call them, cultured nut products — are coming into their own, thanks in part to Fairfax-based cookbook author Miyoko Schinner.

Taking a different approach to the problem of vegan cheese is a freeform collection of citizen scientists in Oakland and Sunnyvale who have banded together under the name Real Vegan Cheese.

This group of 30 volunteers came together last year to compete in the prestigious International Genetically Engineered Machine competition, an academic contest that recently opened to community labs. The project the group settled on: hacking baker’s yeast cells to express casein, or milk proteins.

Real Vegan Cheese launched with an IndieGogo campaign in July and August that raised more than twice the money that it asked for. Working out of BioCurious in Sunnyvale and Counter Culture Labs, the group has been able to insert DNA sequences from cows, humans and narwhal — hey, why not? — into yeast cells so they exude those respective mammals’ casein.”

Full article

Indiegogo video

Why I Don’t Respect Ducks

In a completely unrelated thread, Reddit user i_dont_respect_ducks explains himself:

“All ducks are frauds, liars, and con artists. Take some time off this weekend and go to a local park with ducks or any other facility that ducks would frequent. Approach a duck. Look at it in the eye. Really look at in the eye. Do you see it? I thought so.

You see hate. You see corruption. You see bribery. You see all of the sins this particular duck has committed. And then you imagine all ducks have probably committed sins just like that duck. You think of how many ducks exist in the world. You are disgusted. You throw up.

And you know what that duck does? He stares at you with contempt. He knows what you’re going through, but he doesn’t care. He has seen the world burn and will continue to contribute to the burning of the world. He does not care for morality or ethics. He simply cares for the demise of all living things. He cares only for himself.

The duck is a liar. The duck is a fraud. The duck is selfish. The duck is evil. And that is why I don’t respect ducks. also they’re annoying as fuck”


12 Years in a Coma, With Just Your Thoughts

From NPR: What would you do if you were locked in your body, your brain intact but with no way to communicate? How do you survive emotionally when you are invisible to everyone you know and love? That’s the first question asked by NPR’s new program on human behavior, Invisibilia. The first show tells the story of Martin Pistorius, who fell into a mysterious coma as a young boy. He had only one thing left as his mind began to function again — his own thoughts. Here’s a glimpse into his story.

Full audio program

The Enemy of The Extremist Is The Moderate

Commenter on Metafilter:

“The enemy of the extremist isn’t the opposite extremist, it’s the moderate. This sort of thing is done to provoke an extreme reaction to move the moderates to the extreme. These guys *actively want* war, but they’re not going to get it with “Great Satan” talk. They are banking on an overreaction, which will drive more Islamic moderates towards the extremist position, and more French moderates to the “Islam is Evil Must Destroy” extreme. When everybody’s an extremist, then you can start really fighting. The right answer is to handle this as a police matter. The wrong answer is to handle it as a military matter and create ISIS mark II.”

Full discussion

image from