Critical Hit!!

pop culture (and everything else) explored

A Possible New Project

While packing away my old notebooks once again in lieu of a big move, I thought of a possible new project: to type up all my old notes (either as a blog or in google docs) for easier access and preservation. This leads me to debate a few decisions, as I do believe it to be worthwhile to record them digitally some form or another. The questions that arise are:

  1. If I put it on a blog, should it be this blog, or a separate one?
  2. Are people even interested in assorted notes from classes I took at a liberal arts college a few years ago?
  3. Would they be helpful to anyone?
  4. How many should I type up? Condensing, annotating, and editing will be necessary.

I’ll have a few weeks until I start pursuing my M.A. in Cinema and Media Studies, which will hopefully give me enough time to finalize a template and type up notes I find helpful for my future education.

The Revolutionaries Will Be Diluted

I was reminded recently that Raymond Williams was not just a scholar, but a Marxist scholar. I first and only learned of his work briefly in a class on new media. The word Marxist was never used.

This began a trail of thought exploring what other scholars I learned about whose revolutionary inclinations were washed away. A brief exploration of the Frankfurt school in a media theory class brought up Theodor Adorno’s writings on the culture industry. I, being a fool at the time, agreed with my professor to write off Adorno’s writings, debunking them as overly pessimistic and inaccurate. Of course, now I could not recant enough.

Other names that circulated briefly through my liberal arts education stripped of their revolutionary side: Guy Debord, Walter Benjamin, and Cornelius Castoriadis. Many of these names came up in my own research, missing the contextual information to truly understand their work as a whole. It’s the flaw of the liberal art education, sacrificing death for a broad overview of skills one will likely never need.

Notes on Blogging Platform Designs

WordPress has a new feature in its reader that estimates the time it takes to read an article. This is something taken directly from Medium, WordPress’ biggest competitor in blogging. While both platforms have elegant presentation, the time estimation was one fringe benefit Medium had over WordPress – but not anymore.

But this new feature won’t end. Medium’s design is an immersive experience. One reads through an article like a vertical scroll. Of course, WordPress’ reader feed also has this effect: clicking on an article brings you to a page of only text, with a similar minimal elegance to its design.

Both platforms recognize that it’s not just the text, but its curation that is vital for a digital age. Visual information is increasingly more complex on the web, and each platform accommodates this accordingly. This complexity also leads to the popularity of minimalist themes (such as mine) with these platforms.

I would ask “who will win in the end?”, but the web is big enough for the two of them, and more.

Does anyone take Blogger seriously anymore? No? me neither.

A Brief History of Neoliberalism

I said months ago that I would post a review of the wonderful book by David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Unfortunately, I also read that months ago, but I will foolishly try to sum up my thoughts.

What makes Harvey’s work so engaging is that its accessible for anyone, or at least those with good critical thinking skills. You can know nothing going into his books, but finish them enlightened, whether it be neoliberalism, capitalism, or postmodernism. Harvey also synthesizes historical events and trends masterfully for the reader, presenting not just dates and figures, but moods, changes, growth, and decay. It’s history as it should be, teaching us how we got to a world of capitalism run rampant, which being fully engaging along the way.

Published Financial Advice and You!

As a eager but nervous 20 something, I’ve spent the past year educating myself on the basics of finances. Or at least, what’s seen as good finances, the standards that everyone is expected to follow. While I gathered most of my information from sites such as Creditkarma or Lifehacker, I recently went trolling at the local library for what physical media has to say. What I found was the same material, but packaged in particularly media savvy ways.

There are two kinds of personal finance books: those for old people, and those for young people. I took a look at the latter.

Personal Finance Books

These books have pretty much the same content I learned elsewhere, aside from certain outdated material (Bissonnette’s book saying you have to pay for a credit score, when that is not the case.) Instead, it is all about the presentation. Kobliner’s book draws on digital media: the font is reminiscent of early internet, though it’s actually modeled on certain receipt printing techniques. Bassinet’s book’s font has a hand written look, with a hasty but assured style. Perhaps that assuredness comes form the boastful title.

Both will no doubt attract a young audience based on one word: debt. It’s the largest thing young people today have to deal with, taking on large amounts of debt for their education. College is now a necessity, but priced like a luxury. Debt is a universal burden, and books promising a way out are therefore highly attractive properties.

While these books have glossy covers, they are still books composed mostly of text. Not so with the next “book” I encountered.

Personal Finance book... with  pictures!Primarily know for a career in business journalism, this book reads a collection of clickbait articles with a lot of pictures.

Worth It... Not Worth ItThe pictures serve little use, they merely fill up space so Otter’s writing seem substantive. The book’s hook is that it merely presents the decisions many of us may face in our lives (buy or rent?), and supposedly gives you some good information so you feel better prepared to make such a decision. Otter also presents one “quandary” that is also one of the most alarming things I’ve ever read: to cheat on your wife or not?

The first gut reaction is to exclaim “why is this in a book on personal finance!” Otter provides an answer in a roundabout way. See, the reason you shouldn’t cheat on your wife (the audience for this book is assumed to be [white] male) is because she could sue. Not because it would be morally or ethically bankrupt, but because it could cost you money.

Personal finance books are mostly trash, usually because they either are just a rehash of everything you already know or could get for free on the internet if you know the right places to look. But it’s also trash for patriarchal garbage like this, patriarchy being a consistent lingering thread I see in a lot of finance talk. White men dominate the world of finance, and it’s stuff like Otter’s book that reveals this at its most rank.

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