There’s nothing to say, really. Nothing to add. You tell yourself that if our beat is humanity then this is on it, but then there’s only deflation and impotent anger and wishing that you could be the one to smash an egg on a fascist senator’s head. You wonder about whether the “massacre as shitpost” takes are worth engaging with, whether Buckslip should have something to say about that, what there is to learn about the broken psychology of terrorists who don’t see the boundaries between screen play and real life, what it means to bring fucking PewDiePie into it, who’s laying down bait and who’s picking it up. You wonder whether the problem’s a mass media who still see the internet as a separate space with different rules, who find it somehow novel when memes become murderous. You wonder why it’s so easy for extremist content to be hounded off the mainstream internet when it’s ISIS, but impossible when the hate machines are cranked by white supremacists. You wonder whether to blame the platforms and leave it there. And then you remember, no, all of this is just noise and good people are dead. Though this is a hatred and racism that technology might accelerate, the discourse that radicalized and drove one man towards the unthinkably evil is a discourse created by people and power — politicians and academics and “freedom of speech” champions stirring up hatred with an army of useful idiots behind their screens, and the clever Nazis who’ve learned to exploit that. This is not the endpoint, much as we would wish it to be. Nor, heartbreakingly, was it an accident. We may hope that it drives a few pundits into some mode of self-reflection that will see them change their ways. But it won’t. Not really. It didn’t in Canada. So what can you do in the end other than just be heartbroken, and find ways beyond platitudes to tell those who are hurting and afraid that they are loved? That’s a question, not a statement – we’d like to know. Tell us. We’re sorry, New Zealand.
Three cheers for Eggboy, is what we’re saying. And this guy – we endorse every word out of his filthy mouth.
If we were creating a handy guide to sentences that immediately signal that you can stop reading an article and ignore the rest, this one probably would be the epigraph: “I am not making an elitist argument, though I’m skeptical of the popular and the commercial.” This extremely out-of-touch Harper’s piece by Christian Lorentzen – in which the Principal Skinner-esque author fails to realize that the problem may perhaps be found in the mirror – made us wish for the essay it could have been, which more generously understood the place for literary culture, and literary criticism, within contemporary cultural discourse, where more than one genre can be good and complex at a time. (It also made us wish that we could still expect to see such things in Harper’s, but that’s a whole other take.)
Bribing is for the barely, newly rich—philanthropy is how the old, real money guarantees their kids’ access to elite institutions. Nothing is quite so canny as helping yourself under the guise of helping others.
Speaking of hustle, remember the terrible Winter Olympian ski halfpiper Elizabeth Swaney? This California Sunday profile of her life before, during, and after her epic gaming of the system is one of the only things we’ve read that’s brought us joy this weekend. Whatever you want to think about Swaney, you’ve never met somebody quite so goal oriented.
Absolutely here for interactive content about underground cables.
And also for content about those monopoly companies you’ve never heard of that control an entire industry and are the reason you can’t afford the thing that shouldn’t cost anywhere near that much. This week: spectacles.
As Wattpad brings in more investment to the business of storytelling, their own story is shifting. In the past, the story was that crowdsourcing from fan communities could help Hollywood bring some rigor to its hunch-driven business. More recent coverage focuses on Wattpad’s “Story DNA machine learning system that helps identify the standouts by deconstructing things like sentence structure, word use, grammar and other factors that contribute to popularity.” Whatever Wattpad’s platform may be, perhaps it should be pivoted toward the development of pitch decks.
Regular readers of BS will know how much we love Miriam Posner’s writing on supply chain management and its lived realities. It’s great to see her take that beat to The New Yorker, exploring again how the fundamental design decisions in software like SAP dehumanise and brutalise modern production, creating a scenario where “data dictates a set of conditions which must be met, but there is no explanation of how that data was derived.” We love her radical idea of a plugin Workers’ Rights module for SAP that would push back, with data, against the utilitarian decisions of other components.
For 20 years now, under the name of The Caretaker, James Leyland Kirby has been exploring the concept of what Alzheimer’s and the degradation of the mind might sound like in musical form. Inspired by studies of how people with Alzheimer’s remember the music they listened to when they were young, and how those memories seep into recollections of people and place, he takes samples of old swing and big band records, restaging them in a dusty, half-remembered old ballroom. For the past three years, he’s been slowly retiring the character in an epic 6-album project called “Everywhere at the End of Time” that attempts to capture, in finality, the sound of how dementia fragments and disintegrates the mind, the beautiful and blissful slowly devolving and disrupting into chaos. Now that the last volume is released, he’s put the entire thing up as a single YouTube stream. It’s… a journey.