5 Quick Things: June 2019

Welcome to 5 Quick Things that I saw since last month that I thought were interesting enough to share with you. None of them are particularly timely so feel free to just enjoy 🙂

>Number One<

Gotta Wear ‘Em All

I consider myself a fairly reserved person who doesn’t like to do anything brash but when I saw that there were 151 fabrics of the 151 original pokemon that were printed on nice dress shirts, for a moment I had to really think about how much money was reasonable to be spent on fun cool dress shirts. The thing is, these are pretty classy for the most part. Many of them you wouldn’t even realize are Pokemon themed. They contain a hint of magic in their mostly classy looks. The trend lately has been more towards these colorful (dare I say) business casual looks at work and I think this fills that niche pretty well.

Note: As of yet, I have managed not to buy any of these.

>Number Two<

Neoliberalism and Chill

I have really been enjoying Tom Nicholas‘ YouTube channel. I feel like it might be time for me to do another piece about which channels I’ve started following again since the last time I did that was….almost two years ago!? Yikes, I better start that entry right now. Anyway, back to this video. This is one of my absolute favorite videos on the channel because it so perfectly encapsulates a lot of the things I want to express about being a Millennial and how that is depicted on television in varying forms. The video goes in depth into some of the reasons why I dislike the tropes surrounding my generation but also explains why those tropes are used and how they could be better understood by everyone.

At the end of the day Netflix is a cultural juggernaut and its influence on how we view ourselves and each other through the media they choose to post is worth stopping to think about. And you could do much worse than this video as your first stop on that ride.

>Number Three<

The Mindfulness Conspiracy

Right on the heels of watching this awesome video about Capitalism and Spirituality from Angie Speaks, this article in the Guardian also tackles the same subject from yet another direction. The article will probably take as much time to read as it does to watch the video but if you can possibly stand to, do both.

The video focuses mostly on taking images of spirituality and honest expression and turning them into consumed images for sale while the article deals with how those images (now for sale) are used to perpetuate a system that does not allow for any changes in itself and offers only that you change attitude instead of the systems which directly damage yourself and others. Damages which make people seek this spirituality.

On the eve of midsummer here this feels especially pertinent. As a person who has grown up without belief I am always wondering what images of spirituality I have consumed and for what purpose. In that respect this quote from the article basically stopped me dead in my tracks:

“A truly revolutionary mindfulness would challenge the western sense of entitlement to happiness irrespective of ethical conduct.”

I think a lot about the place of this vague spirituality / mindfulness that blankets society and this article hits a lot of my problems with that but also points out where these problems could be turned around. How mindfulness can be used as a tool for collective good, for focusing on building better worlds for all of us – not just a solely internally directed exercise that tries to ameliorate the pressures of society by turning the blame on us if we cannot deal with them.

I have tons to say on this topic but I haven’t found the space or courage to share it yet so for now so I’m glad to see this article and Angie’s video.

>Number Four<

The 80s Were Barking Mad

Thanks to the YouTube channel Todd in the Shadows, it has recently come to my attention that Dog Police is a thing that exists. And if you, like me, watched the Dog Police video and went “BUHH!Hhhh?????? How happen?” then this article from Nightflight is for you because Dog Police exists and it exists in that very specific time when MTV was just starting and so many weird, wild, and creative things were made because they could be. In a way, Dog Police is boring because YouTube is full of “dog police” but I like to think of this one music video as a sort of proto-YouTube, a perfect collision of people with a new platform just messing around and doing the funniest thing they could think of.

Also the production quality is intensely high for 1984 MTV. Reminds me of all those people who got VFX jobs by making really interesting effects heavy Vines. I don’t know, I wish I could explain how much something like this really delights me.

>Number Five<

Unlocking Tractors (aka ownership in the age of the digital)

If you live in America, the chances are you don’t own your phone. If you use Amazon Video, you don’t really own your movies. If you use iTunes, you might not own your music. Ownership in the digital era has been a very messy ordeal and the most surprising thing is that even farmers don’t really own their tractors.

That’s kind of unfair, they certainly own the object in the same way you own your PS4 or your iPhone but like ISPs and iTunes and Adobe, the software that’s being used to store and execute programs isn’t owned by you and can be turned off at any time making your things inaccessible. Making your phone a brick that takes pictures, making your pictures and music and movies inaccessible despite the fact that you “own” them. This is what farmers using John Deere tractors found out too.

This is a bizarre new age tale of how ownership is changing in the digital age and what people are doing to circumvent it. This is (mainly) an American problem but I think it’s worth taking note and keeping it in the back of our minds about what ownership means in 2019.

Anyway, that’s all for now, see you next month!

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