Social Media LinkDump May/June 2024

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This delightful video essay (produced for a PBS series) explains the social and biological purposes of using swear words. Wow, who knew that PBS could produce such highbrow infotainment?

SIMPSONS made into 50s characters. The avalanche of AI-inspired parodies and tableux will soon will upon us.

NANCY PELOSI’S BIG MISTAKE: In 2022 Pelosi threw her weight around to endorse veteran TX congressman Henry Cuellar (instead of progressive opponent, Jessica Cisneros, who had been endorsed by practically every other major Democrat). Cisneros was a young, smart and popular candidate. Cuellar was a conservative Trump-friendly Democrat (who as of today is under indictment for taking a $600,000 bribe from foreign oil interests). Cuellar won the primary by 250 votes; wouldn’t it have been nice if Pelosi had not intervened in 2022?

Lots of people commented about the university protests on electoral-vote. Here’s one insight:

First the “outside agitators” characterization is really a way of delegitimizing any protest at all. White officials in the South were quick to blame “outside agitators” and “communists” for the demonstrations led by Black people. There were two implications: The first was that absent any outside influence, Black people were perfectly happy to tolerate the daily indignities and horrors (things like lynchings and rape) that white citizens had no qualms about visiting on them daily. The second implication was that Black people were so stupid that they could never protest themselves or advocate for themselves. In the current moment, there’s this idea that students of any stripe “don’t know enough” to be protesting, as though “wars of ethnic cleansing are bad” is some kind of super-complex policy wonk argument. It isn’t. And many students are taking a principled stand that what the Israeli government is doing now and has done in the past is wrong, especially given that the U.S. has been complicit in it for decades. This includes, by the way, a very large number of Jewish students, and Jewish people, who have said that this is not something to do in our name. And let me cut off one line that I hear far too much of: “Why weren’t they protesting Hamas/Russia/[insert here] before?” Well, Hamas isn’t getting any money from my taxes. The Israeli government is. Hamas wasn’t getting aid and support from any government that I, as a protester in the U.S., can affect. The Israeli government is. That Hamas is a bad organization for a lot of reasons doesn’t make a war of ethnic cleansing in my name a good thing.

(GIFT ARTICLE) Here’s a terrific in-depth rundown of moviemaking in Houston by Cary Darling.

Bill McKibben offers a fresh analogy about fossil fuel companies:

Imagine the fossil fuel industry as a cartel of confectioners, that have grown absurdly rich selling sweets. But now the entire world is teetering on the edge of diabetes (that would be climate change). They could deny diabetes exists, or that it causes any problems; eventually, after enough people lose their legs, that gets harder. Coal is the equivalent of, I don’t know—cotton candy, or candy corn, something so absurdly sweet that that even addicts recognize it might be problematic. So they’ve come up with something else: cookies and muffins sweetened with something that has half the sugar! But wait, it turns out to be sweetened with something else, that causes lots of cancer. (I hope you’re getting the carbon and methane references here). So maybe they invent an expensive therapy to remove some of the sugar from your bloodstream—that would be carbon capture. The one thing they simply won’t do is stop producing candy.

But their real problem is that some competitor has discovered this thing called fruit. Tastes great, and you can eat it without medical difficulty. It’s good for you.

That’s the situation the fossil fuel industry finds itself in right now. Here in this auditorium, utility lobbyists are insisting that you can only run a modern economy on fossil fuel; one fossil fuel proponent is holding up a light switch and arguing that without hydrocarbons it will be useless. But California, this spring, has been running the world’s fifth largest economy on windpower, hydropower, and solar power, backed up with batteries, as a result, natural gas usage hit an eight year low; this morning comes the news that globally renewable energy generated a third of the world’s power last year, and the momentum to install more is so strong that greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector almost certainly peaked last year. Last week roofing giant GAF opened a mammoth Texas plant devoted to making solar shingles that you can nail down; as Heatmap reports this morning, even historic European buildings with terracotta roof tiles can now have matching red solar panels.

It’s cheap, it’s clean, people like it—but it is deeply dangerous for the fossil fuel industry and their friends in utilities worldwide, who are desperately trying to get gas locked in for another few decades. That’s why the outcry was so fierce when President Biden paused new permits for LNG export facilities in January: the industry knows that every quarter it gets harder to make the case that overseas utilities should build the power plants that use the fuel, when they could just put up panels and batteries instead.”

Terrifying article about Zombie Mortgages coming back to the life to bring foreclosures to homeowners. Apparently during the subprime crisis, some applicants took two mortgages — one to make the initial down payment. When the homeowners negotiated with the bank to reset their loan, they were erroneously told by the banks that they didn’t have to pay back the second loan. Recently, these worthless loans were resold to collection agencies, and so they attached punitive late fees and filed foreclosure papers against these homeowners.

My cinephile friend from college Michael Barrett was a guest on the FILM BY NUMBERS movie podcast episode about Hitchcock. He’s in Episode 17, a 90 minute episode which covered all sorts of fun topics, ranging from silent Hitchcock, Hitchcock’s fascination with icy blonde females and the influence of Hitchock’s wife (who helped to write several scripts). (Here’s his Popmatters columns and my interview with him).


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