not in our stars, but in ourselves
It’s the end of the first week of the year, and I spent most of it gnashing my teeth. That’s nothing new, of course, but I’m looking forward to warmer and sunnier and happier times. Winter can go pound sand.
1. To begin at the beginning, good old Jeb Lund has 4+ ways the world will continue to be terrible in 2016. I doubt he’s wrong. Consider the unquestionable veracity of the following:
The chief task facing every political pundit is the maintenance of the illusion of wisdom, which is especially difficult since people tend to excel at being wrong. Being wrong is just easier. General laziness, confirmation bias, political and social and class biases plague everyone, and correcting for all of them requires work. The difference is that that not everyone cashes checks based on their ability to forecast changes in the American electorate.
You might think that the simple corrective to this problem would be being right, but that’s not easy even with hard work, when every presidential election year hurls out at least a half dozen probable candidates like an Oort Cloud made of farts. This is why the Sunday shows teem with people who have not memorably been correct this century. The very fact that Bill Kristol hasn’t accidentally killed himself after trying to eat packing peanuts while living on the streets offers such stunning rebuke to the concept of ever being right that we have to assume no one prioritizes it anymore. That’s because, if all probability and human frailty suggest that you will mostly be wrong, your best option is being uniquely wrong.
What a dumb world. He’s not wrong, either.
2. Today, among all the excitement that a Deadwood movie might really be happening, at long last, certain corners of Twitter embarked on an excellent project, in which they compared various political figures to Deadwood characters. Someone suggested that Bernie Sanders’ closest match is Doc Cochran: the irascible, idealistic, impossibly hard-working doctor who does all in his power to ensure that these belligerent pioneers and speculators and whores and immigrants don’t die horrible deaths from preventable causes. This is entirely accurate, and I tend to think that the following passage from this Bloomberg article sums up Sanders pretty well:
Sanders prefers hating the rich. When Hillary Clinton was asked in a debate if corporate America should love her, she responded, “Everyone should. I want to be the president for the struggling, the striving, and the successful.” Sanders does not. When asked before a speech in Keene, N.H., what he would say to reassure the Bloomberg Businessweek readers who work on Wall Street, or have millions of dollars, or run a hedge fund, and might be afraid he wants to tax them back to the Carter Age, Sanders puts down the manila folder containing his talk, which he delivers without a TelePrompTer. “I’m not going to reassure them,” he says. “Their greed, their recklessness, their illegal behavior has destroyed the lives of millions of Americans. Frankly, if I were a hedge fund manager, I would not vote for Bernie Sanders. And I would contribute money to my opponents to try to defeat him.” Then the only socialist ever elected to the U.S. Senate goes back to working on his prepared remarks.
Listen, I’m not gonna tell you how to live your life, or who deserves your vote, but in my humble estimation: Bernie is the only one with a chance to save us from dying a horrible death of preventable causes.
3. Speaking of Bernie, his team tweeted this telling ad from 2008.
4. And speaking of how and why Hillary is trash, there’s this. She’s bad. She’s real bad. The mere fact of her being a woman isn’t proof of her being a feminist: look at Margaret Thatcher. Consider:
Abroad, socialist feminists oppose imperial adventures because war makes life hell for the majority of women, tending to exacerbate whatever material inequalities already existed. Yet Clinton, as secretary of state, went so far as to claim that wars could help liberate women—for example, by making the Taliban respect human rights in Afghanistan. During her tenure as secretary of state, rape and femicide increased in Honduras, Iraq, and Libya, due to the interventionist policies that she nurtured and executed. In Honduras, she provided cover and backdoor encouragement to a coup against a democratically elected leader, which allowed reactionary forces to come to power and begin a phenomenally violent chapter in that country’s history, during which, according to Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the murder of women has “skyrocketed.” Clinton has always supported the war in Iraq, both as New York senator and as secretary of state. She was, in the Obama administration, the most vocal advocate for intervention in Libya. Not only have many women died in the US attacks on civilians in those countries; the US presence has nourished the rise of religious extremists like ISIS, for whom femicide is a way of life.
But, you know, Lena Dunham is doing her Instagram, so, like, yay. Fucking kill me.
5. To space movies, briefly: this takedown of a dumbass Huffington Post listicle is terrific, especially because it articulates so much of what’s wrong with the clickbait era in which we find ourselves entrenched. The thing is, The Force Awakens was terrific fun. I am not the target nerd for this kind of movie (my nerd tendencies go in different directions), and I really wasn’t expecting much. All the same, I walked out of that theatre having had one hell of a good time, and eager to see Episode VIII (even if I object to the cinematic universe model currently at work in studio franchises). It was good and it was enjoyable, and if you’re incapable of engaging with the film as you watch, that’s not a plothole: that’s your own dumb ass. Also, this essay about the film being a repetition with variation (I’d call it “theme and variations” myself) instead of a straight repetition of Episode IV – a frequent criticism – is dead right.
6. To other movies: regarding The Hateful Eight, “You’ve Gotta Be Fucking Kidding Me.” I don’t begrudge anyone their enjoyment, but that article sums up exactly why the film left such a gnawing pit in my stomach afterwards.
7. Beyoncé is testing me. First of all, she showed up on SpikeTV’s Lip Sync Battle, a harmless enough show that – in this instance – offered some amount of fun. I personally think Mrs. Tatum won this round, but Mr. Tatum did have the Queen with him:
But then there’s this. Queen Bey will return to the Super Bowl halftime show – but not as headliner. No, she’s going to be there for about 30 seconds as a “feature” with fucking Coldplay. This is awful for two reasons. Primo: it means I’ll feel obligated to watch and listen to the musical equivalent of tapioca. Secundo: it means I won’t be able to zone out during the halftime and just rewatch her 2013 show:
The only person who could ever top that is Beyoncé herself. SOLO. No Coldplay allowed. Bey, if you’re gonna play me like this, at least release the damn album. Cripes.
8. Oh, and hey, the MBTA is FUBAR. Cool. I really believe in public transportation, and think it’s a vital part of any vibrant city. Boston wants to be a vibrant city – and maybe it could be, if the T didn’t consistently shit the bed. Alas. After World War II, America decided that it was far more important to prioritize a car for every citizen, along with big beautiful roads to drive them on, rather than the Bolshie convention of transportation for all – so we’ve been fucked ever since.
9. In personal news: I am going to Costa Rica in two weeks. It will be gorgeous, I don’t doubt, but I guess I need to get a swimsuit. When I was packing to leave Australia, I think I threw out my swimsuit because I assumed I’d never need one again. It wasn’t very good, so it’s no real loss, but still. Short-sighted, heartbroken thing that I was, I jettisoned an awful lot that I’ve since regretted. Oh, well. They’re only things, after all.