Clickbait, Creators and Christie

No Complaints #163

Hello! I took a big step this week, and put the trailer for the podcast I’ve been working on for about a year out in the world. The show is called Shedunnit, and it’s all about the detective fiction of the 1920s and 30s — the work of writers like Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers, Ngaio Marsh etc.

If you’re interested, you can find out more on the website or subscribe in all the major podcast apps, like Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, RadioPublic, Spotify, etc. It’s a scary thing to do, to allow strangers to listen to something that you really care about, so I hope you like it. The first full episode comes out on 31 October, so if you subscribe before then it’ll deliver straight to you phone automatically.

Now, links.

Things to read

“This is, of course, bunk. Your DNA, as Sarah Zhang put it in The Atlantic recently, ‘is not your culture,’ and it certainly isn’t guaranteed to tell you anything about the places, history, and cultures that shaped you. The scientific-seeming results you get from a home DNA kit are fun, in the manner of a party favor, but they’re not particularly reliable, especially for people from outside of the U.S. and whose ancestors are from outside of Europe. And even if they were pinpoint accurate, what you’re being told is, as British geneticist James Rutherford puts it, ‘something that is at best trivial and at worst astrology.’ If you want to know who you ‘really’ are, you should examine your family history, the environment you grew up in, the experiences you’ve had and relationships you’ve formed. Those tell you a lot about who you ‘really’ are. Your DNA itself tells you very little.”
I got my father one of those DNA tests as a fun stocking filler last year, and it went exactly as this writer describes: it told him that basically everyone in his family ever is from Ireland, mostly the south, which we already knew. Obviously, this changes nothing about how he feels or thinks. It’s concerning that people seem to think it should. Email to Pocket.

“Part of the problem, he began to realise, was that no one ever taught him how to collect information – the message was: ‘Take notes, full stop.’ When faced with an hour-long lesson and a issue with focus, that instruction was daunting. But over time, he began to note down ‘pieces of what was being said’, rather than scrabbling to write down everything. ‘I was slowly starting to figure out these tiny little wins. I figured out how to take these notes, how to make them even shorter, then codify them.’”
—I’ve been doing a bullet journal for a couple of years now, and a lot of this resonated with me. Email to Pocket.

“The demands of the YouTuber life suit younger creators – and the largest demographic on the site is those in their 20s (when once teenagers may have dreamed of becoming pop stars, now they dream of becoming YouTubers). Many find it possible to keep creating at a high enough rate, if only for a few years. ‘At that age you absolutely can,’ Lees says. ‘You’ve got the energy and focus to work incredibly long hours, you’ve got very few responsibilities to take your attention away from work, and – perhaps most importantly – you’ve likely still got a solid social circle, friendships that aren’t difficult to maintain.’ But, as every casualty of childhood stardom demonstrates, early success carries with it tremendous risk.”
I’m so interested in the consequences of invisible online labour, and this piece on YouTuber burnout has lots of insights on that. Email to Pocket.

“Fifty years ago, a frightened 15-year-old black youth checked into St. Louis’s City Hospital with unusual symptoms that puzzled doctors. His legs were swollen, and soon so was his entire body. Nothing seemed to work, not even seven weeks of antibiotics. Doctors suspected he may have acquired chlamydia from a same-sex partner, but the youth never said he had. For six months he continued to deteriorate, until in May of 1969 this sweet, shy teen lost his life to the disease that baffled medical personnel. His name was Robert Rayford, and he is the first known person to die of HIV in the United States.”
On the whitewashed history of HIV. Email to Pocket.

“I don’t know how everybody else felt, but I always felt like we were slightly on the outside looking in. We were never a cool band. When people think of cool bands, they very rarely think of us. I haven’t read it but there’s been a lot of talk about that book Meet Me in the Bathroom. It’s funny that I’ve been doing this long enough that people are waxing poetic about this time in music that doesn’t seem like it was that long ago. It was 15 years ago, but it doesn’t feel that long ago. There were the White Stripes and the Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, these bands that were very hip. They looked cool, they dressed cool, they hung out with cool people. We always fell outside of that. I think it might just be a Northwest thing. Northwesterners tend to feel like they have an inferiority complex. We were these collegiate shit-kickers from Bellingham/Seattle.”
The guy from Death Cab for Cutie ranks all their albums, and reveals that he hates the same kinds of his songs that I do. Very reassuring. Email to Pocket.

Things to listen to

I have absolutely loved 99% Invisible’s “Articles of Interest” series, all about the deeper issues involved in the clothes we wear. The episode on punk style was my favourite.

And obviously, my new podcast, you should be listening to that, duh.

Things to watch

Again, interesting insight into that invisible online labour thing.

I love this woman’s videos.


Compulsory medieval thingamabob

Nice to meet you, have you come far?

The guest gif

Miss Marple knows the truth.