not in our stars, but in ourselves
1. Okay, first of all: yes, I’ve been neglecting my writing duties (such as they are). It’s a combination of feeling bored, uninspired, depressed, and lazy – but it’s all my own personal failing, so I’m sorry to let down the one or two of you reading this dumb blog.
2. While I’m confessing my sins, I must come clean: I watched Game of Thrones last night. The battle episodes are usually pretty well done, and usually full enough of action that they don’t have much time to do weird sexist shit; and besides, I assumed (correctly) that it would be unavoidable on the internet today, so it seemed like it would be less annoying if I at least knew the context of the same five gifsets I knew I’d see reblogged on Tumblr 900 times in a row. Anyway. It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of the show, and that I haven’t watched any other episodes this season, because the previous season made me want to throw molotov cocktails at HBO headquarters; but with that being said, “Battle of the Bastards” was effective and brutal and quite well done. No spoilers here, but this interview with the episode’s director, Miguel Sapochnik, is a good behind-the-scenes look at how logistically challenging it is to shoot something so big – almost as challenging as a real battle, it seems. Hey, man, control your disappointment. I’m not always a snob.
3. Enough of that. Here, check out some Soviet art commemorating strong women. I won’t tell you that the Soviets were good or anything, but some of the egalitarianism they held up as an ideal was pretty cool.
4. As we all know, the dream is dead: Bernie Sanders isn’t going to be the nominee for president. In case you missed his speech on Thursday night, it was wonderful. Look at this:
Most importantly, the Democratic Party needs leadership which is prepared to open its doors and welcome into its ranks working people and young people. That is the energy that we need to transform the Democratic Party, take on the special interests and transform our country.
Here is a cold, hard fact that must be addressed. Since 2009, some 900 legislative seats have been lost to Republicans in state after state throughout this country. In fact, the Republican Party now controls 31 state legislatures and controls both the governors’ mansions and statehouses in 23 states. That is unacceptable.
We need to start engaging at the local and state level in an unprecedented way. Hundreds of thousands of volunteers helped us make political history during the last year. These are people deeply concerned about the future of our country and their own communities. Now we need many of them to start running for school boards, city councils, county commissions, state legislatures and governorships. State and local governments make enormously important decisions and we cannot allow right-wing Republicans to increasingly control them.
When will there be another like him? I tend to think it won’t be until it’s far too late.
5. The upshot of all this: we are stuck with two of the worst fucking candidates of all time. Sam Kriss expresses quite well how I feel about the whole thing:
It’s OK to feel helpless, because you are, and evil is triumphant. Whatever else he says, Bernie Sanders has lost the world. Trump versus Clinton is not the contest of two creatures in a ruined city; it’s Miltonian chaos, eternal anarchy amidst the noise of endless wars. Of course one of them is better than the other; you can even pull out your utilitarian calculator and work out which one it is – but these are not fungible quantities, but endlessly different, and therefore the same. Hillary Clinton is, as her supporters like to put it, imperfect – a mass murderer, a wrecker of nations and peoples, the political expression of biophagous finance, a ruthless cynic who will fling millions into whatever ravine presents itself to get what she wants, which is power. Donald Trump doesn’t want power; he’s far more dangerous than that. He wants attention. How can you really measure her long list of abuses against the sheer potential for disaster coiled in his stupid, stocky body? Measure so many thousands of dead Libyans, so many tens of thousands of dead Syrians, so many hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis against the peril of a waddling baby in charge of the world? Still it’s not impossible, we can quantify anything. Say two million excess deaths under President Clinton – from financial predation, from disease, from war – and ten million excess deaths under President Trump – all those plus racist violence, malfeasance, and incompetence – and there’s your moral case for voting for Clinton. It’s not nice, it never is, but you vote for the lesser of two evils, refining the selection process again and again until you find something good. Except you never will; there’s a sameness beyond magnitude. This is where the evil comes from: quantification, ethics as a series of numbers, human life as a data-point. The least bad option, which represents the systematisation of evil, is always worse than the worst.
(Speaking of, Matty Glesias was trying to come for Dan “Bro_Pair” O’Sullivan on Twitter; fortunately, O’Sullivan and some other expert vivisectionists had already torn Mr. Voxsplainer a new one years ago. Oldie but a goodie. Check it out.)
6. I’m being very political again, as I tend to be in these dumb roundups, but it’s because I get genuinely upset about where we all are – and because all this acrimony has very real consequences. To wit: the horrific murder of Jo Cox, a young MP whose only crime was advocating for remaining in the EU. Some deranged UKIP fuckhead killed her in the street. Jonathan Freedland gets it exactly right in his Guardian column: “If you inject enough poison into the political bloodstream, somebody will get sick.” Politics has always been toxic, probably, but it’s going septic now – here, in the U.K., in Mexico, everywhere. It’s bad. It’s going to get worse.
7. Armando Iannucci is currently working on a movie called The Death of Stalin, perhaps because Soviet-era cock-ups are less depressing than the here and now. He responds to those who tell him to do more Thick of It:
I now find the political landscape so alien and awful that it’s hard to match the waves of cynicism it transmits on its own. David Cameron recently stood up in the Commons and berated Jeremy Corbyn for having a shadow cabinet too far-fetched “even for a script [of] The Thick of It”. I think his point was that the shadow agriculture secretary is a vegan, while Corbyn, a proud republican, has to call himself the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. It was tempting to tweet that Cameron has a Culture and Media Secretary who joked about closing the BBC, a housing minister who’s reducing public housing stock, a Justice Secretary who’s tasked with repealing the Human Rights Act, and a Health Secretary who can’t stand doctors and makes me sick. But why bother? When politicians do all the jokes, we begin to see how grim the real world is.
No shit. Maybe it’s time to go live in the forest next to the sea somewhere, well off the grid. Not until Death of Stalin comes out, though. I’m really looking forward to that, if not to anything else.