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- Dan Froomkin has some interesting ideas about how political reporting can avoid being gamed by the both-siderism that the two-party system in the US often encourages:
First of all, we’re going to rebrand you. Effective today, you are no longer political reporters (and editors); you are government reporters (and editors). That’s an important distinction, because it frees you to cover what is happening in Washington in the context of whether it is serving the people well, rather than which party is winning.
Historically, we have allowed our political journalism to be framed by the two parties. That has always created huge distortions, but never like it does today. Two-party framing limits us to covering what the leaders of those two sides consider in their interests. And, because it is appropriately not our job to take sides in partisan politics, we have felt an obligation to treat them both more or less equally.
Both parties are corrupted by money, which has badly perverted the debate for a long time. But one party, you have certainly noticed, has over the last decade or two descended into a froth of racism, grievance and reality-denial. Asking you to triangulate between today’s Democrats and today’s Republicans is effectively asking you to lobotomize yourself. I’m against that.
Defining our job as “not taking sides between the two parties” has also empowered bad-faith critics to accuse us of bias when we are simply calling out the truth. We will not take sides with one political party or the other, ever. But we will proudly, enthusiastically, take the side of wide-ranging, fact-based debate.
- Daisy Alioto has a lot to say about the Fran Lebowitz mini-series on Netflix. She touches on something that I think is a chronic problem in the arts, namely the fact that people who are most definitely insiders keep seeing themselves as outsiders. I think it’s fair to say if Martin Scorsese is doing a multi-episode show about you, you can no longer call yourself an outsider, right?
An armchair psychologist might say that Fran Lebowitz lacks the courage to look stupid, the vulnerability and depth of feeling it takes to put your own art out there. Instead, one is forced to conclude that if Fran Lebowitz said one truly vulnerable thing publicly she would simply die. Fran Lebowitz might not be on the internet, but she embodies the internet’s practice of playing a version of oneself, a curse and a privilege once afforded to celebrities that has now trickled down to the common man — overexposure accomplishing what Reagan could not.
- The Evangelist “prophets” predicted Trump’s win in 2020, so the YouTube channel Holy Koolaid took them to task:
- Oh, 2021:
- A game designer analyzed QAnon last fall and has some interesting insight:
QAnon grows on the wild misinterpretation of random data, presented in a suggestive fashion in a milieu designed to help the users come to the intended misunderstanding. Maybe “guided apophenia” is a better phrase. Guided because the puppet masters are directly involved in hinting about the desired conclusions. They have pre-seeded the conclusions. They are constantly getting the player lost by pointing out unrelated random events and creating a meaning for them that fits the propaganda message Q is delivering.
There is no reality here. No actual solution in the real world. Instead, this is a breadcrumb trail AWAY from reality. Away from actual solutions and towards a dangerous psychological rush. It works very well because when you “figure it out yourself” you own it. You experience the thrill of discovery, the excitement of the rabbit hole, the acceptance of a community that loves and respects you. Because you were convinced to “connect the dots yourself” you can see the absolute logic of it. This is the conclusion you arrived at. More about this later.
- The Getty has released a useful (and bilingual: Arabic and English) teaching guide to the ruin-rich city of Palmyra, which was seriously damaged by ISIS.
- OK, the title is too much (“The Oral History of C-3PO’s Penis — The Infamous Star Wars Error Card“), but the story is kinda funny:
Was it a prank? Or perhaps a trick of the light? Whatever the case, the image was clear: C-3PO had a gigantic metal erection, making the card a storied collector’s item for decades to come (pun unavoidable). And, even though it’s not to be found in an episode of The Mandalorian or anywhere within the vast Star Wars expanded universe, the image would become a Star Wars legend in its own right. So just what’s really happening with 3PO’s golden rod?
- A good guide to spotting Nazis and fascists in Heavy Metal music by Kim Kelly:
Luckily, for those who actually care, the signs are easy enough to spot once you’ve learned where to look, and there are very few secrets within the metal community, which has a tendency to squabble and gossip amongst itself like a village full of angry fishwives. Sometimes a band will just go full swastika on their album cover or be caught throwing a Roman salute onstage, but most of today’s metal fascists are a bit cagier, relying on more cryptic symbols, misappropriated runes, dogwhistles, “free speech/anti-antifa” rhetoric, garden variety racist boomerism, and esoteric imagery to advertise their intent. The recent (and very welcome) proliferation of an explicitly anti-fascist metal framework spearheaded by queer metalheads, Black metalheads, and metalheads of color has had a welcome impact on the scene itself, as artists and fans alike have banded together to identify, deplatform, and denounce metal fascists, but there is still much work to be done.
- Eliane Brum of El País wrote this shocking and extensive story about the pandemic in Brazil under the leadership of Jair Bolsonaro, and it doesn’t pull any punches as it discusses how his administration “spread” the virus:
Obtained exclusively by EL PAÍS, the analysis of the production of ordinances, provisional measures, resolutions, normative instructions, laws, decisions and decrees by the federal government, as well as a survey of the president’s public speeches, draws the map that has turned Brazil into one of the countries most affected by Covid-19 and that, contrary to other nations, still lacks a vaccination program with a reliable timetable. There is no way of telling how many of the more than 212,000 Covid deaths in Brazil might have been avoided if the government led by Bolsonaro had not executed a project with a view to spreading the virus. But it can reasonably be said that many people would still have their mothers, fathers, siblings or children alive today were it not for the existence of an institutional project by the Brazilian government to spread Covid-19.
There is an intention, a plan and a systematic course of action contained in the government rules and in Bolsonaro’s speeches, as the study shows. “The results dispel the persistent interpretation that there was incompetence and negligence from the federal government in the management of the pandemic. On the contrary, the systematization of data, although incomplete due to the lack of space for publishing so many events, reveals the government’s commitment and efficiency in favor of the widespread dissemination of the virus over the Brazilian territory, clearly stated as having the objective of restarting economic activity as soon as possible and at whatever cost,” says the publication’s newsletter. “We hope this timeline provides an overview of a process we are undergoing in a fragmented and frequently confusing fashion.”
The research was coordinated by Deisy Ventura, one of the most respected legal scholars in Brazil …
- I’m glad some pundits who benefit from the “both sides” thing are being questioned about their flip flops. Here we see Sunny Hostin of The View asking Van Jones about his commentary during the Trump administration:
- I had no idea. Love this:
- I don’t think you need to know Spanish to figure out how savage this is. I’m still thinking of the sense of entitlement you would have to have to show up on a Spanish-language TV show and assume you can speak English:
Required Reading is published every Saturday, and it is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.