Good Stuff Of The Week #2: Jet Packs, Wearable Art, Japanese Sex, Books & Films…

Vice published a nice piece about Stanford’s now-public collection of letters by (mostly civilian) Nazi party members, explaining their reasons for their devotion to the party. They were all written in 1934 as part of a public “contest” devised by an American sociologist who wanted to figure out the public appeal of the Nazi party. The article describes the variety of letters in the collection:

“The submissions ranged from handwritten love letters to Nazism, to 12-page testimonies, while participants represented a cross-section of German society, from soldiers and SS officers to office workers, housewives, children and miners.”

A fascinating piece in The Economist about how Japan’s sex industry reflects the de-sexualization of their society. I’m not sure I agree with the interpretaion of these trends as “less sexual” than whatever things were like before; it seems less like a quantitative change in the degree to which the society is sexual, and more like a qualitative change in the nature of sexuality in Japanese culture.

Susan Kare is the person who designed Apple’s very first batch of icons–the precursors to emoji. The New Yorker’s piece about her life–her career as a woman working at the crest of a wave that would become the computer revolution–is totally worth the read.

Most “best films” lists are shit, but I’ve found two that are gold. First, the Rotten Tomato editorial team’s list of the best movies of 2018 is a solid guide to the great movies this year that most haven’t even heard of. Second, Rolling Stone’s list of the top 40 sci-fi movies of the 21st century is solid and insightful. It’s really a list of the best films of the century that just happen to be sci-fi. There’s lots of excellent indie picks on it, and relatively few blockbusters (as it should be), and the ranking is smart.

Avital Ronell is a lit studies professor at NYU who was (relatively) recently accused of sexual harrassment of one of her (male) Ph.D. students. The reaction within the upper eschelons of her corner of the academic community were a pretty shocking contrast to the instant, unequivocal condemnation male accusers have generally received. There’s lots to unpack and ponder on that point, but no one does it better than Andrea Long Chu does in her piece at the Chronicle of Higher Education. Andrea is a Ph.D. student in Ronell’s department, and was Ronell’s teaching assistant for a while, so she’s a very relevant source. Completely apart from its topical relevance, this is one of the smartest, wittiest pieces of opinion writing I’ve ever read.

Jet Packs are now real and it’s incredible. 

I’ve done some philosophy of technology in the brief periods when I’m not worrying about how to buy food. This series of little books poses a serious dilemma for how to spend the little cash I have right now. Each takes a single object–the drivers license, the remote control, dust, drones–and unpacks its history and unobvious significance for the world we live in, and the web of objects and actors that is its skeleton (and maybe flesh and muscle too). Each object in the series has both a book on it, and an essay. The essays are free to read here. I really liked this one on the ballpoint pen, and how it killed cursive.

Every year New Zealand hosts contest/fashion show/art exhibit, called the World of WearableArt (WOW). The submissions are incredible. There’s also a good piece at The Atlantic about this year’s exhibit. Here’s a random handful of some favorites:


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Michael Glawson

Ethics, policy, & ideas geek. Alt-Ac Ph.D. Épater la bourgeoisie. ⛎

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