Category: Pop Culture

Weekend Links – Wakanda Forever

So. This week. Major party convention machines took over or merged with federal operations with zero opposition. Wildfires AND hurricanes are raging. Civil unrest continued due to a fresh round of atrocities. Protests in Europe against authoritarian regimes, and what we can reasonable assume is the attempted murder of a major Russian dissident. COVID cases spiking again. Travel restrictions amping up in response. Schools trying to educate online, disrupting working families (especially women). Workers are being hustled back to work not because it’s safe but because the ripple effects of COVID are spreading and we’ve all collectively decided that the economy requires blood sacrifice.

It’s a lot.

This week’s link roundup is a bit heavy, but as always there are a few smatterings of humor to help leaven the sadness. Stay focused on the problems, stay committed to solutions. Take responsibility for the wellbeing and safety of your fellow humans – wash your hands, wear a mask, defend their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as much as you would defend your own.

The sheer cosmic luck and accident that allowed this to happen delights and impresses me.

Second verse, same as the first.

…Donald Trump’s party is the very definition of a cult of personality. It stands for no special ideal. It possesses no organizing principle. It represents no detailed vision for governing. Filling the vacuum is a lazy, identity-based populism…’Owning the libs and pissing off the media,’ shrugs Brendan Buck, a longtime senior congressional aide and imperturbable party veteran if ever there was one. ‘That’s what we believe in now. There’s really not much more to it.’

This is good. We need to reconsider how we write algorithms and what human biases have gone into the codes that came before.

Hoo boy.

For fucks sake, enough. How much more evidence do we need about systemic problems?! How many more protests is it going to take?! (How you can give to the family.)

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How you can give to help people affected by Hurricane Laura. (Minor positive note: nature is healing.)

Never underestimate the ability of one or two people to do amazing good, or outrageous harm.

I pile on Utah a lot, but this is unequivocally good and a standout perspective among institutionally conservative states. It advocates for mail-in voting and enables it.

We NEED to understand the insidious overlap of violent misogyny, violent racism, and violent nationalism. In huge numbers, the venn diagram is a circle.

Perennial topic of interest in Small Dog Nation.

Jeff is the NBA fan in our household, and a lifelong Utah Jazz devotee. He opened my understanding to the political clout and cultural influence of the NBA in a way I didn’t really get since my family is not at all sporty. Learning the difference between sports leagues and how they use their influence over the last few years has been interesting, and of course the tides are shifting all the time…but at the moment I’m pretty sure the NBA is doing more to provide safe voting in November and invest in Black communities than our actual Congress.

Baseball showed up. And ironically set us all up for some devastating news…

What a horrible loss! You only need a cursory glance at social media to see the impact he had in his career and how much his portrayals of Black icons meant to the community. To learn he did his widest reaching and most physically demanding work while battling cancer…no words. Rest in power. Wakanda forever. (On creating a character’s voice, why Black Panther matters, spreading joy.)

Speaking of Black icons, let’s remember the anniversary of the March on Washington.

And finally, let’s have a laugh.

Weekend Links

This has been a crazy week. Work is nuts, the world is nuts, everything is nuts. But I remain thrilled about a few things, incensed about others. Share the news that made you sit up and take note this week in the comments, my doves. I love you all.

The Democratic Convention happened this week and it was surprising good given the myriad technical limitations, and downright creative in others. PBS NewsHour has the videos, including the speeches. The best piece of political theatre and sheer delight (thin on the ground in our current political times) was undoubtedly the rollcall!

Also, shoutout to Vote from Abroad for my fellow expats voting from afar – register, request your ballot, submit it early either by mail, email (if your state allows), or by checking out your embassy website.

What is COVID doing to the fashion industry? Lots.

Nope. Nope nope nope.

Several months old now, but I found this piece an interesting and bolstering read.

So all the obfuscations, the AG’s testimony, all the posturing…once again confirmed bullshit.

While Mueller received all the hype, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence kept its head down.”

A few pieces on one of my favorite themes: you need to understand online, meme, and fan culture to understand almost everything about the modern media and political landscape
1. Gaming and conspiracy theories
2. The role of Instagram aesthetics in spreading disinformation
3. Algorithmic media and the spread of bad info
4. Algorithmic media and the bizarre cult of personality/conflict (and its limitations)
5. Shutting the barn door, etc. etc.

these children look identical to me… (which is not at all the point of the story, but was a fact I got stuck on over and over again whilst reading the piece.

We’ve all but decided to pursue dual citizenship because we are increasingly persuaded that an American identity is more of an international hindrance than a help. Because yes, “America First” does kind of equate to “America alone” and I don’t trust enough of my countrymen to reach this conclusion quickly enough to avoid generational damage that I’d not to have to live with or pass on to any hypothetical children.

Most of the problems with our media landscape, summarized.

Hey look, some good news from the UK.

You love to see it. (ETA: IT WAS THE POSTAL SERVICE! THIS SEASON OF THE APOCALYPSE IS BRILLIANT!)

What is behind the “Karen” meme? An awful lot and understanding it is important. (Again, you HAVE to understand meme culture to understand any kind of discourse now.)

It’s been a while since J. Crew was in the news for a good reason, but more of this please, capitalism.

Eyes on Belarus, everyone, and support the citizens challenging the push of anti-democracy.

You have a whole bunch of people in the Senate posturing for 2024 rather than governing for the crisis we’re in.” Yeah. I buy this take.

These cretins aren’t even trying to hide it.

London (and other cities) are gonna change.

Okay team, this has been a bit of heavy post so let’s end with our Pop Goddest Whomst We Stan Carly Rae Jepsen and this blessing of a summer bop!

Weekend Links – LET’S GO!

This week we’ve had a heatwave, intense thunderstorms, political news, media watching, and a few smatterings of fun and whimsy. It must be the weekend links roundup, kittens! Check in with the coterie in the comments and let’s hang out.

WE’VE GOT A TICKET. I’m not counting any chickens before November, but I think the Biden/Harris team came out of the gate strong and cut straight through lot of the (expected) racist and misogynist reaction at the start. Let’s go!

Trump said, out loud and in a public interview that he got rid of the head of the FBI because of the Russia investigation. This week he said, out loud and in a public interview, that he’s trying to sabotage the US Postal Service to give himself an electoral advantage. And of course, there are no consequences because the right is complicit or willing to benefit and the left is functionally useless due to ceaseless infighting. Twitter is nuts with rage, but the only hope is Nancy Pelosi’s spine holding.

We are not ready for how ugly November is going to be.

In an era where the media does more amplification than fact checking – again, across the political spectrum – we may be in an uncomfortable place of having to use different institutions to question truth claims. Since we’ve rejected science (lefty anti-vaxxers as much as righty climate change deniers), education (lefty liberal arts and righty social sicences), and consensus (…Twitter) maybe the solution is legal rather than persuasive. Maybe.

Will be interesting to see what happens to TikTok over the coming months, and this latest twist would be intriguing. Given the differences between platforms and their various attempts to build a monopoly and respond to a changing media landscape, Twitter v. Facebook continues to be the top story. Facebook/Instagram have rolled out their TikTok competitor Reels in the last couple of weeks and the jury is still out. Meanwhile, also on Facebook…

It’s a cult.

This piece is three years old and I literally think about it about once a week.

I’m seeing a lot of this from my mormon friends and loved ones in particular and it makes me want to scream. Not least of all because the majority of the people sharing it have had precisely zero interest in activism until suddenly BLM gets up and running. My cynical brain cannot help but feel this is another extension of the (stupid) culture wars, where you assign your attention not so much to support one cause as to refuse to support another. Child victimization is an ugly blight on our society, and it IS a real threat…but it’s worth consider who is only raising their voices about it now, and why, and based off of what information. Because we live in the darkest timeline and you have to check yourself to ensure you aren’t accidentally feeding a cult.

What on earth is wrong with us as a society?!

The last thing we need is another huge environmental disaster this year…one to watch and plan ways to support cleanup efforts and accountability measurements.

Is London still “worth it?” More than a few people I know are debating this within their families right now and to me it’s another example of how long a tail COVID is going to have for population and demographic changes over the coming years.

Excuse me, how did I fail to follow this year’s Tiny Desk Contest?!

Ezra Klein is a very thoughtful and thorough interviewer, able to articulate his own positions and biases, and giving his guests space to articular their own. This recent episode had me gripped because yes, it supports my own opinion, but the fact of who is doing so and how is incredible.

SHE DESERVES.

Has anyone ever successfully stopped biting their nails? What do we think of this as an idea?

What a glorious labor of love this is: a massive compendium of cookbooks across the ages!

FiveThirtyEight’s election forecast is live and is designed to be informative as to how models work as much as report latest updates- since a lot of people didn’t get it four years ago. It’s instructive and transparent in how it works, what it measures, and predictive logic. Horserace commenced.

The only thing I will say about Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s gloriously filthy new single.

I saw a description of the combined line of attack towards Harris as “misogynoir” and yep, that about sums it up. It took less than a day for “birtherism” to rear it’s head again, evolving to suit the landscape. The claim that Obama might be illegitimate has become that (according to some) Harris SHOULD be illegitimate. Susan Hennessey of the Brookings Institute nails it:

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Weekend Links

Kittens, it’s been…it’s been a week. There are a lot of troubles in the world. I’ve tried to round up some important stories in our usual interest realms – media and information, politics, and cheese. I’ve tossed in goodness to help the grim go down better.

Love you all, stay safe in the heat!

Iconic.

All families have some kind of secret history.

NOT NOW, PLAGUE.

Racist dogwhistles (and outright racism) to own the libs. Damaging the environment in ways that will affect our entire species to own the libs. Practicing cruelty and exclusion of marginalized people to own the libs. Economic self harm to own the libs. It’s just a fundamentally bizarre way of thinking to me and I’ve given up trying to understand it. It’s a pointless game of one downsmanship.

It’s a cult.

If 2020 has a theme it’s that all the screen tropes are happening in real life.

You’d think I’d be unmoved by all the evidence confirming my worst feelings about his capability and fitness for the office he holds, but I still manage to find myself grimly shocked.

Oof

Monica speaks wisdom.

HOLY CRAP. If “everything Trump touches dies” holds true, I will not be sorry to see bogus culture wars be among his anti-Midas-touch victims. I for one have no sympathy for those who have enabled the worst fringes of their own team to the point that almost every norm is trampled and every institution is under suspicion.

Yes please, I want more African ballet across the board.

Save the cheese!

And why you should exercise caution about those “save the children” campaigns you’re suddenly seeing crop up everywhere. It’s not happening on accident. Be sure of your information and its sources.

Weekend Links

Another Friday in the year of our Lady Beyonce 2020. Lockdown easement is paused in the UK because cases are rising, Trump is floating the idea to delay the election (thus far a nonstarter, but let’s be honest this year is already a mess and nothing surprises me anymore), and the sea is rising.

It’s a lot. It’s a helluva lot. But today we’re going to educate ourselves, enjoy some social commentary, media discourse, and hilarity. Love you all, kittens. Check in the comments. 

Femaleness, male incivility, and how our reactions are often scrutinized more than their behavior. Traister strikes again.

Ooh, speaking of, let’s delve into this more, shall we? “Evangelical support for Trump was no aberration, nor was it merely a pragmatic choice,” Du Mez writes. “It was, rather, the culmination of evangelicals’ embrace of militant masculinity, an ideology that enshrines patriarchal authority and condones the callous display of power, at home and abroad.”

Using wealth for good.

The thrill of free fall has worn off, replaced by the general sensation of crashing. Ultradomesticity was comforting for a while — we should seize this opportunity to slow down, I read, way back in April — but now I would like to leave my house without weighing the potential consequences. I would like the freedom that comes from knowing I can go anywhere, or do anything, without the constant specter of disease. That’s a lot to ask of any hobby.

Her comedy genius is that she simply repeats him, word for word. No polite editing, no attempts to make full sentences out of discombobulated thoughts, just redelivering the exact same words without the benefits of his office. And yeah, it sounds ridiculous because it is.

Ah yes, more fun in the world of communicable disease. It’s history but a timely reminder that we basically continue to exist thanks to a matter of cosmic luck and nothing is certain.

In my personal experience, the venn diagram of people who don’t believe in climate change and those who are anti-immigration is a circle. One of these perspectives is going to have to give before the cognitive dissonance cripples their neurons.

A depressing but not unbelievable argument.

I think about this a lot as an expat. My passport has made my life and movement very easy and it’s almost impossible for me to conceptualize a world in which it doesn’t give me the freedom I’m used to. But that world is fast approaching and is one of many reasons Jeff and I are considering dual citizenship at some point.

Problematic allies are still allies…but stay wary.

Something about barn doors and horses. But seriously, until we come up with a better way to categorize and contain the publishers of misinformation, we’re going to struggle. Side rant, this is the benefit of professionalized media and proper journalism. And we’re long past the point that social media should be considered just a platform instead of a publisher of some kind with editorial liability.

I’ve not become a knitter in lockdown, but X has and I’m going to benefit from her artistic labor.

If you’re not angry about this, you’re not paying attention. Also, once more for the cheap seats in the back, anyone who ranted to me for the Obama years about impending martial law or Jade Helm conspiracy theories or any assorted government abuses had better be speaking the fuck up now. Because the silence I’m getting from those voices is really, really telling. The problem was never authority, the problem was always authority that you perceived to be “not on your side.”

“Demon sperm” and “astral sex” started trending this week in politics, because we live in the dumbest and most infuriating timeline.

Art from pain. Timely.

Representative Lewis was laid to rest and eulogized by calls, not to lionize his work, but to keep marching. His posthumous essay is worth your time.

Weekend Links

This was a rough week as some of the ripple effects of the pandemic continued to land closer and closer to home. We’re still okay for the moment, but several close friends have been intimately affected. I’m feeling a horrible mix of survivors guilt, selfish gratitude for not yet being hit by the waves, and a general uptick in the overall creeping sense of dread that basically every millennial I know enjoys. 

Staring down the barrel of the second major recession of our lives and basically all the same people are still in power. Love that for us! (screams into a cushion) 

Have some links, check in in the comments, and pour yourself something nice, my doves. 

Is the death of the It Bag on the horizon?

The most basic definition of hate is personal animus, but there is a more useful, and frightening, description: Hate is a social bond — a shared currency — and it abhors a vacuum.”

The largest issue seemed clear to me, in part because I was accustomed to it: that the letter, at core, was at once a theoretical defense of intellectual freedom and a carefully veiled invitation to use dehumanizing rhetoric under the bastion of ‘the free exchange of ideas.”

Oh look, another misogyny murder

How do we feel about pennies, team?

And I’m sure that any moment now, all the gun enthusiasts who’ve hoarded weapons in fear of the federal government, all the states rights activists, all the small government zealots, and all their kith and kin will rise up to denounce this, right? (Editor’s note: of course they won’t. Because with a few exceptions it’s never been about any of those issues. As a collective, these people are perfectly fine with overreach, size, and power so long as they feel it’s on their side. They aren’t opposed to it, they’re opposed to feeling like it doesn’t benefit them and their ingroups. Which is, of course, they hallmark of fascism: the worship, elevation, and triumph of the ingroup over one’s – usually falsely manufactured – enemies.)

Fire your branding people. While I applaud the direction overall, it’s been messy with its messaging. 

Fellow ladies, hands up if a man has ever called you a “fucking bitch.” Now again friends, hands up if a COWORKER who call you that in your workplace would at minimum face a disciplinary hearing

Support your locals!

Eurocentric history does not benefit us, we’re missing thousands of years of culture and human interaction because of it!

I’m too, um, endowed for this. Alas. Sounds restful. 

Weekend Links

Another Friday, another links drop. This week we’re talking media, privacy, the changing nature of platforms and content creators, nostalgia, and Things To Be Mad About. It’s a smorgasbord of things to discuss in the comments, kittens!

Extra love to all the SDS OGs who checked in on my last post with wonderful updates about life, family, and work in these uNpReCeDeNtEd TiMeS. I love our weird little blog community.

Take care of yourself this weekend, my doves.

YouTube is going through a shift, in my opinion. Yeah it’s sort of related to the Beauty Guru Drama, but a lot of top creators are quitting or dramatically changing their approach. Some of them are citing the limitations of the algorithm, some are burned out. Others feel burdened by their old content and feel it doesn’t reflect them anymore, while still don’t want to or can’t delete it because it’s part of their brand or income streams.

In other social media news this week, yikes.

I’m shocked. SHOCKED. (Update, I remain UTTERLY SHOCKED…)

FUCK THIS. This is bad and dangerous, full stop.

Speaking of, I continue to be astounded by the sheer amount of visual evidence that is just…ignored or disregarded about police abuses of force and power. It’s like visual Newspeak.

And she’s stunning.

It’s the corruption, stupid.

Garment workers – likely to be female, from underdeveloped nations, and in slave labor conditions – deserve better. #PayUp

If there’s one thing that unites Small Dog Nation, it’s an art heist!

None of this had to happen and it’s both infuriating and heartbreaking. Performative politics and deliberate misinformation is killing people.

It’s basically the 1930s now. Lean into radio theatre, my doves.

WERK.

I’m all for more female Emperors. Imperatrixes, if you will.

Well, this is happening at some point this summer.

Divorce him, girl.

Someone please explain a good faith justification for this because I am drawing an absolute blank. States are once again running out of hospital beds and the administration is privatizing the data management? Meanwhile some governors are banning face coverings to own the libs or whatever.

The immediate public health crisis is hideous and hundreds of thousands of people have died and we haven’t seen the end of it. But the longer term secondary effects are going to be horrible in new ways. In the US, over 5 million people have lost healthcare so far this year, and 20 million face potential eviction. And as for consumer debt, well

A writer I really enjoy on practicing hope.

Owen Jones put his opinion (and incidentally my own) succinctly. You cannot hold the majority of institutional power and still claim be the victim because people on Twitter are mad at you.

THE ONLY REBOOT WORTH GETTING EXCITED OVER.

I’m not at all surprised to see that he’s been demoted but not exiled. Grifters gonna grift together. I’m also not at all surprised that he was the last to hear about it.

A generation of women are opting out of parenthood. That doesn’t make them selfish, shallow or in denial, but it does make society feel uncomfortable.”

Of course they are.

Weekend Links

Hi fam, how are we? We limber, rested, hydrated? Or we spiraling into existential dread? All are welcome in Small Dog Nation without guilt or shame.

This week’s links are not terribly light and fluffy, but are important. We’re emphasizing online culture, disinformation, and one or two nice things thrown in to surprise the palate. Let me know what you’re up to in the comments and keep safe!

Everyone who wants to understand current radicalization of all stripes NEEDS to understand the transition from meme/online culture to real life. Whether ISIS’ robust online PR operation to radical leftist anarchists on 4chan, the pathways are eerily similar.

as I was saying

again, still saying

Not unrelated: the attention economy politicians work, think, and measure success in a different way than actual politicians. Understanding this is important.

We’ve still focused on the police, don’t get it twisted. But we need to understand their culture in order to make change.

Also key: how the internet and online life is changing. Will the attention economy politicians keep up or will they be outstripped or outflanked by the meme cycle – including among their own ranks? I continue to believe that this cycle has dragged the right and left in their extremists directions more than leadership has – people are radicalizing themselves and institutions are scrambling to catch up or retain control. I also believe that the right has been more effective at allying around specific topics and staying on message than the left…but that this has in turn exacerbated the radicalization process and that they are at real risk of losing control of their wingnuts.

no shit, Sherlock.

Yep. Sure. The problem with the royal family is this pair and not…this mess. Sure.

Snowflakes.

Speaking of, “The Right Wing Myth of the Left Wing Mob,” is something that I sincerely want to send to a dozen specific people. But I’m not trying to convert anyone anymore (she reminded herself).

Meanwhile, on YouTube

Here is a nice list of book recommendations to consider!

(takes deep breath) BIRTH CONTROL IS HEALTHCARE. This week the US Supreme Court gave the double whammy of allowing employers to deny birth control coverage to workers on religious grounds, AND upheld religious organizations right to discriminatory hiring practices. I worked for an institution like this once. Never again. I had health insurance and Planned Parenthood was STILL a better option for my reproductive health.

10% of our entire population.

Weekend Links – Independence Day Edition

Hey piglets, another short and dirty links post for your reading pleasure. We’ve got pandemics, fake feminism, Russian bounties, and even some GOOD news stories. The pubs are opening this weekend in the UK and Jeff and I will be staying firmly indoors, thanks. People who are acting like the global crisis will half a million cases and hundreds of thousands of deaths is somehow over stress me out. It isn’t. Make good choices, kids.

We’re going to fry some chicken, watch some Hamilton on Disney+, and only go outside with masks. Happy Fourth, yanks!

It didn’t need to be this way.

My brother is currently deployed. I hate this man as I have never hated any politician in my life. (ETA update.)

Politically I’m gleeful. Professionally I acknowledge the conflict of how many jobs and support industries this is going to affect, including my own. What a weird time to be alive.

The current cultural pushback against girlbosses isn’t a desire to be done pursuing equality, or to stop trying to eliminate workplace disparities. This mode of empowerment was briefly successful exactly because people had become more aware of—and uncomfortable with—the way power functions in America.”

Yes, let’s try it! Let’s run the experiment!

We don’t deserve dogs.

Huh. Totally inconsequential, I’m sure.

If you are just learning about how many of the “confederate” monuments and symbols are nowhere near the actual historical southern states…catch up. It’s about white supremacy, peeps.

Powerful opinion piece.

I think if he weren’t such an appalling human being, he would make a great president…” What an extraordinary statement and fundamental disconnect between one and the other. I continue to despair at the myth that he was a successful business man – he wasn’t, HE JUST PLAYED ONE ON TV. And the tired line that good business people make good leaders needs to die. Business and government are not the same thing and should never be confused. We don’t need fewer “politicians” in politics, we need better politicians who are actually interested in governing.

Huh. Well, let’s see what happens now. The attention here in the UK is on Prince Andrew.

Hey, some good news!

I am horribly late to this, but Todrick CAME THROUGH for us all:

Weekend Links

Hey fam, a short dump of links for you this Friday afternoon. I’m “on holiday,” which is hilariously no different from most days of the last three months, except I’m only checking my work emails rarely. It’s blistering hot and so everyone in Britain seems to be flooding the beaches and parks, which cynical me is darkly clocking as the beginning of our next “spike.” People are acting as if we’re through this. We’re not. I’m side-eyeing all the needless new cases in the States because people wanted to perform their tribalism more than listen to the science.

So this weekend, stay focused. Don’t let the discourse on racism fade, wear a mask, look after other people.

 

Both ridiculous and still deeply wholesome.

On the flip side, I’ll take headlines I never thought I’d see for $200, Alex.

Demilitarize the damn police!

Rooting for these two. I suspect he’s going through a similar culture shock, the way I assume she did (and has alluded to publicly) in the other direction, but they seem to have more privacy and more control and I hope it’s empowering and rewarding.

No complacency, it’s still #blacklivesmatter and #blacktranslivesmatter. If people have let it slide from their attention, shake the table.

This whole thing could not have gone less according to plan. And I am CACKLING as to one of the key reasons why. The kids are alright.

A beautiful piece on fatherhood.

Archaeology story!

Oh wow…guys, as much as we appreciate the effort, maybe let’s leave this stuff to the actual experts from now on?

Majestic.

And let’s also pay homage to the queen of camp herself, while we’re at it.

When we’re talking about white folx they don’t call it “identity politics,” but they should.

Racism isn’t meanness, it isn’t slurs. Those are the scabs, like smallpox. Racism is the virus itself which invades, overrides, infects, and produces the rot.

Once again, Leena Norms, everybody: