Weekend Links

“We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse, and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it, and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late. ” 
― Edward R. Murrow

Guys, what a week.

In any other day or time, any one of the news cycles of this past week would have been an administration defining set of stories. But it’s 2018 and the backbreaking pace of news continues unabated. Let’s run through the political news in one fell swoop shall we?

Monday: FBI raids. Yeah, this guy is Mr. Trump’s lawyer…but he’s also the deputy Finance Chair of the Republican Party. Maybe formerly, it looks like the GOP website was updated

Tuesday: Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress this week and, um, it went surprisingly poorly for our elected leaders in the Senate who came off looking badly out of their depth with kids today and their technology. The House did much better in their questions the next day.

Wednesday: Paul Ryan announces his resignation. I’m not surprised, he got what he wanted for years: a major tax cut. Now he’s now ducking out to avoid the eventual questions that will come over having ballooned national debt, and without having to face the long term consequences of the policies he’s driven forward. I suspect he also feels that the current administration is doing damage to his party’s brand and he doesn’t see immediate solutions…or at least ones he’s willing to support. This is a man who has failed. He preached tax reform and smaller government; he’s leaving office with dramatically expanded government spending and a nationalist takeover that helped oust him. There’s pathos in that, I guess, but darned if I have much sympathy. Obviously I have a very ungenerous and petty take on this situation, PBS Frontline has more responsible journalism on the bigger picture. The interactive documentary they did is also very good.

Thursday: Syria crisis escalates, hearings for Mr. Pompeo as potential Secretary of State, and suddenly the president wants back in the TPP. And he might have a secret love child? What even is life now…

Friday and Saturday: Comey’s book launch begins, the RNC have crafted an entire campaign around discrediting Comey (the pop up when I visited this official website urged me to “Stand with President Trump!” which is an odd message from a party who heretofore has built their identity around loyalty to the constitution rather than individuals. The Democratic party has a much longer history of the cult of personality), the president pardons Scooter Libby in what may be signalling protection to those of his allies who may be facing legal consequences, and a coalition launches missiles at Syria. Let us remember a couple of things, first that the power of the presidency should be limited when it comes to military action and we should expect congress to determine when and if we pursue long term military force. Second, that the chemical attacks to which we are ostensible retaliating happened a week ago and the administration sure could use a wag the dog distraction right about now.

Good. Lord. On to other links!

That’s right, we’re being positive!

The lone wolves are actually a pack.” This is a couple of weeks old but I think is valuable reading in the discussion of domestic extremists in the US. These mostly white male actors are very seldom operating in a vacuum from one another, and we need to confront this radicalization as a society.

My spirit animal.

Our issue with data is bigger than just Facebook, guys. This has been a conversation a long time coming.

Seth Meyer’s and Alexi Ashe’s children have pretty intense arrival stories.

This piece on Man Repeller is about how performed disdain around pop culture is problematic, and usually gendered to boot.

I really want to see this exhibit at the V&A.

This is a pretty loaded “review” of Taylor Swift’s latest single…

Black mothers and babies are dying in America at an alarming high rate compared to other racial counterparts.

Would some good soul please get me this ring?!

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