Links for Saturday 26th September

Reprogramming a Game By Playing It: an Unbelievable Super Mario Bros 3 Speedrun

So there's this thing where people see who can complete a computer game in the fastest time. This used to be simply about pressing the buttons in the right sequence and was pretty impressive even then, but it looks to have developed even further. This method of playing Mario involves making specific moves that corrupt the memory storage so that a glitch will appear at a specific point and allow you to skip to the end. Because you're playing the original game code it's not a cheat, right? If the puzzle is a manifestation of computer code, this is just part of the puzzle. Right? You don't have to be interested in computer games (I'm totally not) to find this philosophically fascinating. (Kottke)

Surfaces vs Airborne: What We Know Now About Covid-19 Transmission

How we respond to this Coronavirus has evolved from "touch nothing and see no-one" to something thankfully more nuanced. For me the big change has been focussing more on airborne droplets (from heavy breathing and speaking) than infected surfaces, and this roundup of current (Sept 2020) knowledge and advice is a good one to share. In short, wear a mask, don't disinfect your shopping, keep washing your hands to be safe. (Medium)

Solarpunk – Life in the Future Beyond the Rusted Chrome of Yestermorrow

I have been bemused by Solarpunk for a while now, more-so since actively following Jay Springett's work where the term come up a lot. So I was grateful for this extended explanation (essentially a talk transcript with slides) which cleared up a lot of stuff. It's thankfully got nothing to do with Seapunk, which is just a daft aesthetic and some bad music. Solarpunk could best be described as imagining a future we'd like to live in, rather than speculating how we might live in a dystopia. In other words the opposite of Cyberpunk. There's also a lot of Mark Fisher-esque analysis of late-capitalism's mining of nostalgia and actively looking for ways to break beyond that. It's an attempt to solve the problem of not being able to imagine a future these days. And, of course, a shitload more, but that's my understanding of the basics. In short, it turns out to be very relevant to my 1972 Project thinkings. If I was a bit less of a nihilist I could even be a Solarpunk! (thejaymo)

The disruption con: why big tech's favourite buzzword is nonsense

I remember when I first learned that "disruption", the natural-law-style justification for investment-backed tech companies destroying existing industries with maths, was at best bullshit and at worst fundamentally evil. It's a bit like putting on a new pair of glasses and suddenly seeing the world in focus. This teardown has a nice bit of backstory I didn't know. This concept of disruption has its roots in The Communist Manifesto, so who knows? The endless Uber-fication of everything might lead to a socialist world state! Or not. (Guardian)

How to Build a Three-Parent Family

I've often felt that the two-parent family unit, while it can work for some, is not always the best fit. We know "it takes a village", but the nuclear family is always the default. So I found this account of people attempting to separate romantic/sexual attraction from the long-term commitment to parenting, really interesting, especially legal three+ parent adoption. Massive caveat that story takes place in an area of San Francisco with an "alternative parenting community", but as someone who is "always the Uncle, never the Dad" it's a fascinating eyeopener.

How To Talk About Books You Haven't Read

I don't think I've read a whole book in years, but I've skimmed a fuck-tonne and I've never thought this to be a problem. I can't remember most of what I've read anyway. What I get from reading is less specific, more like a cloud of knowledge-stuff in my memory which illuminates and enriches my experience as I move through life. Fuelling that cloud does not necessarily involve reading books cover to cover. So this book (lol) about not reading books looks very interesting. If you don't want to read it (lol) this is a good summary. (Brain Pickings)

Video: American Desert: Breaking Bad & Punishment Park

Maggie May Fish is one of those video essayists who regularly hits it out of the park. She's also been my gateway to the work and ideas of filmmaker Peter Watkins who came up making dramas for the BBC back in the 60s when they incubated radical filmmakers (see also Alan Clarke) but he turned out to be a bit too radical and moved on. His big theory is that of the monoform, which Maggie deals with half way through her excellent Fight Club video. This essay compares Watkins' 1971 film Punishment Park with the tv show Breaking Bad, initially through their use of the American desert and then going much deeper into questions of power and authority. Oh, and she does all this while keeping it light, breezy and fun! (YouTube)