Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Oddfish, Accessible Peripherals & Patriot Act

Weekly Update 2019-35: Mysterious chillhop from South Korea, a look into why accessible keyboards and mice are good for everyone and my new favourite Netflix black-comedy political talkshow.

Music: Oddfish
Chillhop is back into the trendlist of 2019 playlists, which is great because I didn't know it actually went out of style after its 2016 arrival. My friend Emilia created a pretty good chillhop playlist featuring South Korea's Oddfish, something of a mysterious soul with only two songs on Spotify and a two-line bio with a personal gmail account written in it. Highly unorthodox, but I like the music. It relaxes me immediately and gives me the feeling of taking a nap in the sun on a tropical island.

Sorry, this is all you get for now:

This was a busy week. Rachel Lissner and some Young Urbanist's League colleagues all joined together to sit in the grass of Christie Pits to discuss Dave Meslin's new book Teardown and our personal experiences with politics in general. With the oncoming federal election, I have been feeling a sense of hopelessness lately and looking for ways to turn that around.

One thing that does give me hope and motivation is working with my awesome coworker Sheri on a company lunch and learn on how to incorporate more accessibility and inclusiveness in content creation in our workplace. It will be law in 2021 but we definitely need the lead time to plan and honestly get buy-in from the rest of the company. So, we ran a lunch and learn to try to build some clout around the subject. The turnout was around 80 people (about a quarter of the full staff) so I guess I can't be too disappointed.

This past weekend I was lucky enough to attend two very cool events. The first was Taiwanfest at Harbourfront Centre, a lively celebration of Taiwanese food, dance, fashion, music and more. We overheard from another festival attendee while waiting in a food line that there would be a special percussion performance later in the night, so we had to stick around. Ju Percussion, a mixed gender troupe of drummers and percussionists, played a wonderful set filled with a display of different moods, rhythms and instruments of percussion. It was art in the truest form that I know.

The next day I visited the Brian Jungen exhibit at the AGO, and was double-excited to see that I would have time to check out the newly permanently acquired Infinity Room (a Yayoi Kusama classic). Being in there reminded me of when Erika and I got memberships to get advance admission to her exhibit in 2017.

Jungen's exhibit was exhilarating in a totally different way, with his intriguing and skilful dismantling of everyday objects and reassembling them into works of art. From hockey jerseys to Nike Air Jordans to jerry cans and more, Jungen makes a striking statement about our relationship to our belongings and the material value we hold so high.

I hope to make good use of the CNE being so close to my office next week, and get some delicious fried food as one does at a carnival. I'm also meeting with Sasha to keep planning our Japan trip - thee are so many details to work out now that we have our city locations planned. Good thing I like to plan trips.

Random Thought: Accessibility
My coworker Sheri and I finally presented our lunch and learn at work, and I wanted to share some of my favourite things from it.

Motor functions are varied amongst different people, which sometimes means it's difficult to use a conventional keyboard or mouse. There are so many different types of peripherals like keyboards and mice with various designs to meet the needs of all users. This notion really speaks to me because I often wonder if ergonomics was considered at all with some conventional (read - inaccessible) peripheral device designs.

Good ergonomics relate to being able to complete work (in this case, at a computer) in conditions that are comfortable and shaped to fit the user, rather than the other way around. This allows users to work longer, feel fewer effects of pain or fatigue, and generally be more efficient and happy in their work.

This is just one example of the way designing for accessibility can help all kinds of people, not just those who may require differently designed peripherals. Sometimes, the "normal" way doesn't actually suit anyone's needs.

Inspiration: Patriot Act
Now that politics has become a common conversation...pretty much everywhere, I have been trying to learn more about world events from alternative voices and sources. One particularly entertaining method is through a new Netflix comedy web television talk show hosted by Hasan Minhaj. I appreciate Minhaj's revelatory candor on his one-man show, picking on corrupt world leaders with dark jokes. But his show is more than entertaining; he puts an interesting and investigative spin on many corrupt processes in the US and around the world that are obscured from public view.

I particularly enjoyed the episode on drug pricing in the US, wherein four separate corporate parties are working together to drive up drug prices, especially the case with insulin for diabetic patients. The cost of insulin in the US has shot up so high beyond the average price in any other country, that people are literally dying because they can't afford the medicine they need.

The show reminds me of Penn and Teller's Bullsh*t of the early 2000s for its willingness to poke around in issues that may be provocative. Minhaj has even come under pressure from his episodes regarding the political ongoings of Saudi Arabia's corrupt crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. After the prince's request to have one of the episodes regarding his actions removed from Netflix, Minhaj recorded a new episode explaining the absurdity of this "request" to his audiences. It does prove the point that the show is making waves.

Of course, you can't believe everything you see, even this show. I have noticed that Netflix seems quite relaxed with allowing Minhaj to rip on pretty much any topic (even Netflix itself) which he has done so many times that it makes me more skeptical that they may be censoring him from speaking about some topics. This is total conspiracy talk, but wouldn't Netflix allow him to "talk shit" about them as a rouse to make the rest of his topics more credible?

In any case, I'm learning at least one side (if not a fully rounded picture) of many world events I wouldn't have otherwise known about, and finding it super entertaining. Some of his jokes nail the point in a step too deeply, but Minhaj's style and charisma have actually given me a talkshow to enjoy (possibly a first, ever for me). Check it out on Netflix.

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