View other Social Media Dumps: 2020 Jan 16-31
“Like looking both ways before crossing the street and then getting hit by a submarine.” (said by 9 year old Clark Smith, when asked for a word or phrase to describe the year 2020).
Here’s a new Robert’s Roundup for Smashwords’ December ebook sale. (Still cleaning it up).
SNL Playlist: I’ve put together 55 of my favorite SNL sketches — with some Christmas ones thrown in for good measure. (ONLY VIEWABLE BY USA AUDIENCES)
MY RESOLUTIONS FOR THE YEAR 2021: 1. Don’t get covid. 2. Get the #$#$#$ vaccine. (32,000 new positive COVID cases in Texas yesterday — a new record. Sure, it’s just catching up with Christmas cases, but wow! — California set a one day record of 50,000 two days ago as well).) **
Fun facts about Edge Browser. Did you know that Edge was based on the Chromium code? Me neither. **
Historians on reddit discuss the problem of heteronormativity/handling the “was he/she gay?” about historical figures.
I binge-watched the Community TV show on Netflix — wait for my post about that. Am thrilled that there are some “webisodes” about the show. **
To my amazement, there was a 1977 TV special of the Adams Family TV show. It was called Halloween with the New Adams Family featured ALL of the original actors, was 90 minutes long and was in color. Also, a laugh track (ugh!). Fun Fact: Uncle Fester (aka Jackie Coogan) when he was a kid, starred in a movie with Charlie Chaplin. Here’s a outtake of Coogan dancing with Chaplin
Something also sweet: Comic actress Melissa Hunter does a web-miniseries called Adult Wednesday Addams. Lots of fun with Ashley Addams encountering the vagaries of modern life. **
Watching the TV, I’m seeing a lot of Texas flags on the protesters who have forcibly entered (and sometimes even gone inside) the Capitol building…. (UPDATE: and a number of Confederate flags, and a cap for University of Texas — gotta show team spirit!). **
I know many things are shocking about today, but I’m particularly incensed that it took Trump over an hour to activate the National Guard to protect the Capitol. As a CNN reporter described it, Trump was elected to be the commander-in-chief; now he is merely the TV watcher in chief (ME: and also the instigator in chief).
PROPAGANDA IS EVERYWHERE! PROPAGANDA IS EVERYWHERE! Probably the most remarkable thing about yesterday’s insurrection is how easily Americans can be misled and emotionally manipulated about political events — by media, politicians, social media & political ads. I blame many things: money in politics, polarization inspired by gerrymandering, the gutting of the journalistic profession and the weakening of voting rights. I also blame the increasing adoration of gun rights, dehumanization of certain categories of people and — frankly the tendency to demonize normal government functions (apparently calling something “socialist” is sufficient reason to condemn anything you want). We need to call out politicians and media figures who use specious circular arguments to amplify controversy. We also need to be more careful not to dismiss so easily the dangers of demagoguery. **
Since Texas has played such an oversized role in facilitating Trumpist extremism, it’s probably fair to cite Patricia Roberts Miller on demagoguery (she’s a Texas-based expert on political rhetoric. I’ve read her book, Rhetoric and Demagoguery.
What people call “right-wing” politics should be called reactionary toxic populist nationalism. It isn’t conservative. Conservativism is a political ideology that, although I disagree with it, even I will say is generally internally coherent and principled. Pro-Trump politics isn’t internally coherent or principled—it’s irrational factionalism. Using a private server is terrible, unless it’s a Trump family member. Pornography is terrible, unless it’s a Trump family member. A problematic charity is terrible, unless it’s Trump’s. There are no principles that are applied consistently across groups.
A puzzling/absurdist 3 minute comedy sketch by Julie Nolke (who is most famous for doing comedy sketches such as Explaining the Pandemic to my Past Self. If Samuel Becket were alive today, imagine the Youtube videos he would be making! (Related: Charlie Rose by Samuel Beckett on youtube)
Sad to read about director Michael Apted’s death. He directed the magnificent documentary series, called UP SERIES. Seeing 63 UP at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts was one the highlights of my year (Never available for DVD or streaming, it showed for exactly one day in March, and the Museum shut down because of COVID). Apted has directed a lot of quality movies, but my favorite has to be a 1993 thriller called BLINK. ** (Obits also in NYT, Washington Post).
SHOULD TRUMP RESIGN? “Hey, Vladimir, this is your good friend Don. I got a deal for you. I got tons of valuable information about Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi and White House IT security protocols to help you do what want to that fake president, Joe Biden. All I ask in return is 50 million dollars to pay off my Russian debt, licenses to let me open a Trump Tower in Moscow and St. Petersburg and a written guarantee never to extradite me and my family back to USA. Need more? Don’t worry. I got amazing intelligence about Ukraine and EU and all kinds of military secrets — I’m still the president! –I got the best people who could get me anything I ask for in minutes. Do we have a deal?” **
POLITICAL RHETORIC: I hate it when anyone — politicians, pundits, officials, friends, family — uses the word “strongly.” It is a pretentious way of asserting you are are powerful and must be listened to. Whenever I hear someone use the word “STRONGLY” I ALWAYS substitute it in my head with “STUPIDLY.” **
Timothy Snyder on American Abyss (NYT) (Snyder is the brilliant historian whose massive book about WW2, Bloodlands, is one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read):
Informed observers inside and outside government agree that right-wing white supremacism is the greatest terrorist threat to the United States. Gun sales in 2020 hit an astonishing high. History shows that political violence follows when prominent leaders of major political parties openly embrace paranoia.
Our big lie is typically American, wrapped in our odd electoral system, depending upon our particular traditions of racism. Yet our big lie is also structurally fascist, with its extreme mendacity, its conspiratorial thinking, its reversal of perpetrators and victims and its implication that the world is divided into us and them. To keep it going for four years courts terrorism and assassination.
In the Atlantic , Caitlan Flanagan wrote a caustic review of the Trump insurrectionists:
It seems as though they hadn’t expected to gain entrance with such ease—an ease that becomes more suspicious as the hours pass—and once there they didn’t know what to do, exactly. One patriot made it all the way to Nancy Pelosi’s office, where (per his own gleefully repeated description) he sat at her desk, scratched his balls, left a note—“Nancy, Bigo was here, you bitch”—and grabbed a trophy: an envelope stamped with her name. Soon enough he’d trotted back outside to show it off, the victor in a one-man panty raid. He was an envelope guy in an email world, but suddenly he was taking control of his destiny.
A man in a Viking helmet and the kind of face paint not often seen outside sporting venues held a sign reading Hold the Line Patriots, which made you wonder if he was just a misguided New England fan. Who can make sense of the new football schedule? Inside, he ran around issuing guttural cries and climbing the furniture, like someone who had been thawed out from a 1995 Robert Bly retreat. (Bly was part of the movement that coined the term toxic manhood, the toxicity being office work and too much time around bossy women, and the antidote being a return to the original state of dude nature: roaring, beating drums.) This was not a low-T group. This was not a group that had been robbed and diminished by radical feminism. And they proved it by defecating on the floors and tracking their own filth through the hallways. They were dazed by power and limited in their conception of what to do with it. Some rioters left the building in the charged, happy way people exit the Dive Devil ride at Magic Mountain: single file, grinning, and not really sure what just happened. They cried out for beer, they pumped their fists in triumph, they went looking for Mom and money for curly fries. **
Pre-insurrection, here’s a piece by Ben Collins , We Need to Learn How to talk to and about accidental conspiracists.
Because at some point in these next few months, you’re going to return to the honest-to-goodness, real-life social world. You’re going to be standing next to another parent at soccer practice, watching your kid fail to kick a ball for the first time in 14 months, and that dad is going to lean over to you and, in the most clarion, measured tone, he is going to say the most insane thing you have ever heard. It won’t even be that you’ll disagree with him. You will simply have no idea who or what he’s talking about.
This guy will look normal. You probably knew him and talked about the NBA salary cap with him before COVID. But now he’ll be speaking about scary political actors and evil companies and probably some private citizens like Ruby Freeman as if you’re both living in the same YouTube morass only he had accidentally slipped into. He’ll be talking with the same voice that might otherwise talk about James Harden trade rumors, which will be the spookiest part.
I have encountered quite a few of these types — mostly retired people who are decent enough on the outside, but stubbornly cling to myths about Antifa, Soros, Hunter Biden and China they picked up from Fox. My strategy has been simply to point out that relying on one source for your political news is dangerous and even poisonous. **
WORD OF THE DAY: Retrumplican.
(More to come)