Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Vale Alan Rickman, India's first trans modeling agency, African superheroes and more in this week's look at the web

1. Vale, Alan Rickman

Alan Rickman, the British actor best known for his roles as Hans Gruber and Severus Snape, has died at the age of 69 after battling cancer. Rickman began his career on stage, portraying the manipulative Vicomte de Valmont character in the 1985 production of “Les Liaisons Dangereuses”—a role he later won a Tony Award for. A year later, he garnered international attention co-starring with Bruce Willis in the action classic “Die Hard.” Rickman’s already outstanding legacy is completed by his masterful portrayal of the conflicted potions expert, Severus Snape, whose complex identity magically unfolded over 10 years of “Harry Potter” films.

2. The Standout Structures of 2016 Pritzker Prize Winner Alejandro Aravena

This year’s Pritzker Prize, architecture’s equivalent of the Nobel prize, has been awarded to Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena. Aravena is best known for his work with design studio Elemental, which relies on thoughtful architecture and “participatory design” to alleviate poverty and eliminate slums. In light of the honor, Dezeen has rounded up standout structures from Aravena’s 22-year-long career, including his acclaimed “half a house” concepts and the Santiago-based cubic UC Innovation Center.

3. India’s First Transgender Modeling Agency

Though they’re officially recognized as a third gender by the Indian government, “hijras”—a transgender group specific to South Asia—still face harsh prejudices by mainstream society. Rudrani Chettri (who identifies as a hijra) is aiming to dissolve that discrimination through her charity, Mitr Trust. By raising £5,000, Chettri hopes to set up a transgender modeling agency to help hijras find sustainable and safe employment. Dazed recently spoke to Chettri about the transgender community and her ongoing initiatives.

4. A Comic Start-Up Creating an African Superhero Universe

A Nigerian comic start-up, called Comic Republic, has created an African superhero universe after noticing a lack of black characters in legacy comics. “I thought about when I was young and what I used to make my decisions on: what would Superman do, what would Batman do? I thought, why not African superheroes?” explains founder Jide Martin. The characters include Guardian Prime, a 25-year old Nigerian who uses his super-strength to fight for a better Nigeria and Hilda Avonomemi Moses, a woman who can see spirits.

5. The World of Holiday Gift Returns

Last week, holiday shoppers sent back over five million gifts through UPS alone. Many of these unwanted items never end up at their original retailer and, instead, they’re shipped to returns facilities that service various sellers. WIRED visited one of these returns specialists, Shorewood Liquidators, to find out exactly what goes on behind the scenes and where these millions of rejected purchases eventually end up.

6. The Juicy History Behind the ’90s POG Craze

Many will remember the POG craze of the 1990s—the simple playground game that made use of cardboard caps—but few can recall its origins. The viral game actually got its start from a Hawaiian school teacher who taught her students to use the tops of POG (Passion Orange Guava) juice bottles for a simple recess game. Eventually, the Hawaii trend spread nationwide and then across the globe, as retailers and brands hastily plastered their marketing schemes on top of the tiny toys. Read more about the surprising history behind POGs at First We Feast.

7. The Negative Side Effects of Faking It

According to a recent study conducted by Maryam Kouchaki of Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, acting inauthentically can spark unforeseen psychological consequences. When asked to describe an instance of faking an emotion, participants displayed feelings of uncleanliness and sought the need for moral compensation. In other words, faking it until you make it actually just leads us further away from the end goal. In a business setting, roles that push employees to act inauthentically may be damaging their satisfaction and wellbeing. Visit Quartz to read more on Kouchaki’s study.

8. Pledge to Watch #52FilmsByWomen This Year

Through a recent study, non-profit organization Women In Film found that a major barrier for female directors is a perceived scarcity of talent. Their #52FilmsByWomen aims to shine a light of the thousands of current female directors out there by encouraging people to watch one film by a woman per week for a year. Head to Women In Film’s website to submit your pledge and to browse a massive catalog of movies directed by women.

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily in Link and on social media, and rounded up every Saturday morning.