Weekend Reads: Conspiracy Theories, Apple's WWDC, Bandcamp, My Family's Favorite Recipes

Recommended weekend reading material for June 27, 2020.

Every week, I compile a list of interesting, thought-provoking, and enjoyable articles, blog posts, and reviews. I hope they provide you with some good weekend reading material.

How to explain Christians embracing conspiracy theories like Plandemic and QAnon?

Some evangelical subcultures have fostered unhealthy and theologically vacuous end times obsessions. A culture war mentality has left many Christians overly suspicious of mainstream media and institutions, seeing persecution and harassment around every corner. A desire to justify political support of Donald Trump in the face of moral qualms makes conspiracy theories that vindicate his actions appealing.

Related: Last month, I wrote a piece about the appeal of conspiracy theories and how they hijack our brains.

Several 30 Rock episodes are no longer available for streaming or purchase because they feature characters in blackface.

This is coming at the specific request of series creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, with Fey writing in a statement to the various platforms that host 30 Rock that “‘intent’ is not a free pass for white people to use these images” and that she’s sorry for “pain they have caused.” She adds that “no comedy-loving kid needs to stumble on these tropes and be stung by their ugliness.”

Not surprisingly, this has stirred up debate concerning the roles of satire and representation in comedy.

Most Americans’ knowledge of wuxia cinema comes from films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and House of Flying Daggers. But the genre contains many hidden gems, like Patrick Tam Ka-ming’s unorthodox The Sword.

In a traditional wuxia film, personal honour is regained and moral order is restored to the world by the heroic acts of a swordsman or swordswoman. In contrast, The Sword focuses on a Machiavellian swordsman fuelled by selfish ambition and a very modern need for self-realisation.

The South China Morning Post’s intro to Hong Kong martial arts cinema is an excellent resource with links to many other articles and reviews.

Apple’s annual WWDC conference kicked off with the usual keynote, except that it was streamed online rather than delivered in-person. As is their wont, Apple made a number of big announcements concerning their software and hardware. One of the biggest is that all Apple devices will begin using Apple’s own processors.

It’s a big change for hardware, unleashing Apple’s own efforts in making components instead of being tied it to Intel’s progress, but it’s also a huge shift in software. Apple is making it possible to run apps made for Intel-based apps on the new Macs, as well as apps from other environments, like Linux. Additionally, thanks to using custom hardware, it can even run iPhone and iPad apps, which is a huge deal, to say the least.

Prior to this announcement, only iPhones and iPads used Apple-developed processors.

Max Böck yearns for a return to the web of the ‘90s (or at least parts of it). For example, the emphasis on personal websites:

It might just be my IndieWeb filter bubble talking, but I think there is a renewed interest in personal websites. A lot of big social media giants are falling out of favor, and it becomes cool again to own a space on the web rather then being one of a billion usernames.

Of course, you know I love the idea of personal websites and blogs. After all, I’ve been running one for over 20 years. Via Frontend Focus.

On July 3, Bandcamp is waiving their revenue share for all sales. Musicians will get 100% of the money paid for their music.

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact all of us, and artists have been hit especially hard as tours and shows are canceled for the foreseeable future. With such a major revenue stream drying up almost entirely, finding ways to continue supporting artists in the coming months is an urgent priority for anyone who cares about music and the artists who create it.

Remember, the best way to support your favorite musicians is to buy their music rather than stream it.

Related: The Guardian looks at Bandcamp’s success story:

Bandcamp has become the rarest of Silicon Valley stories: a slow-burn success. The early years of the site were defined by outsiderdom — video game soundtracks, internet-born genres such as vaporwave and seapunk, music for the “furries” subculture of people who dress as animals — and you can still find pretty much anything, from pirate metal to eco-grime. As well as downloads, about half of Bandcamp’s sales are for physical items — vinyl, CDs, cassettes, T-shirts, posters, USB sticks, even MiniDiscs.

When celebrities speak out against social injustice, are they really doing any good?

The increased pressure on artists to monetize their personal brands and the subsequent professionalization of social media have turned these solipsistic Internet spaces into de-facto storefronts for mini corporations. Sadly, it seems that many of the famous names behind these accounts have also adopted the sort of risk-averse, politically opaque rhetoric favored by Fortune 500 companies — opting for tepid platitudes and lazy hashtag activism in lieu of more resolute (and potentially alienating) public displays.

As the U.S. debates the removal of Confederate statues and imagery from public spaces, it’s worth remembering how Germany came to terms with its Nazi history.

In Germany, you won’t see neo-Nazis converging on a monument to Reinhard Heydrich or Adolf Hitler, because no such statues exist. The country long ago came to grips with the full weight of its history. But you’ll find Nazis and Klansmen in Virginia, circling a statue of Robert E. Lee, a traitor who raised arms against his own country in the defense of white supremacy.

Via The Dispatch.

Have you been cooking at home more often these days? Are you looking for more recipes? If so, then I recommend Needs More Butter, a recipe blog that my wife and some friends have been running for the last 13 years or so. I can personally vouch for “Greek Chicken Kabobs,” “Blackberry Pulled Pork,” “Roasted Salmon Pasta with Tzatziki,” “Carnitas,” and “Papa Morehead’s Cinnamon Rolls” (to name but a few).

This post is available to everyone (so feel free to share it). However, paying subscribers also get access to exclusive content including playlists, sneak previews, and podcasts. If you’d like to receive those exclusives — and support my blogging on Opus — then become a paid subscriber today for just $5/month or $50/year.