031: Babadiscourse


Basically

This week, PRIDE! Two more Beyoncés. Miley’s first day of summer. The finale of Travis. New ears (pray a new life) for Kim Jong-un. Out with the blue eyes for Ken, but in with the cornrows. Plus, a new White House press secretary? What. An. Opportunity.


Verbatim

John McPhee’s short 1967 book Oranges is a classic of modern food writing, a simple appreciation for a simple fruit that unwinds through history as it captures a transformative moment in which the industry of how we eat was being changed irrevocably. Fifty years later, in Oxford American, Wyatt Williams lives up to the daunting task of retracing McPhee’s steps through a modern Florida ravaged by blight, climate change and OxyContin, matching the master’s languid precision drop for precious drop.

The Florida Agricultural Statistics Service report was repeated biennially, so that the past fifty years of oranges can be glimpsed within them. One can read between the numbers that in, say, 1971 or 1977, a hard freeze occurred in January. Some towns near the Ridge have hopeful, talismanic names, Frostproof and Winter Haven and Winter Garden and Winter Park, but names offer no protection from cold winds. The numbers have other stories in them. You can guess that production peaked in the late nineties. You can sense a little of what happened in the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons, when storm after storm hit the state, destroying more than a third of the acres of oranges. As the numbers continue to decline after that, you can see how those storms spread canker, a disease that can be carried on water and wind, into every grove in the state. Not long after, the leaves started to change color.


"Fuck the end user"


Things

At Real Life, Ava Kofman hooks herself up to a home EEG, falling into a world of gamified calm, where “what the brain tracker wanted was less for me to know myself better than for me to know myself the way that it knew me.” Meanwhile, over at Spike, Real Life editor Rob Horning is also strapping things to his head, with a great articulation of our problems with gimmicky VR journalism’s claims of “empathy”. The actual reality, as we’ve seen it too, feels “more like sadism, as my willful indifference is superimposed on whatever encounter the filmmakers are trying to make me have.”

Attacking Richard Florida and the longterm destructive nature of his “creative class” schtick is hardly a niche hobby in the circles we run in, but this Baffler salvo, in which Daniel Brook unloads on the man and the toxicity of the forecasting industry that he begat with symphonic intensity, is just so much ad hominem fun. Brook is in no mood to let Florida away with a mea culpa – the stakes are too high.

Also just plain fun to read – Alex Ross on the occultism that set the stage for the great early art of the twentieth century, and the man who sought to re-enchant a disenchanted world.

The success of Richard Florida’s realignment depends not on the credibility of his mea culpa, but on the utter forgettability of his thesis. His soft position is muddled by memory, and we’re left only with the high-level message: “Richard Florida = Thought Leader.” But there’s not much we can, or would, do about the fallibility of memory—a new study suggests that forgetting is a function of memory, echoing Borges: To think is to forget differences, generalize, make abstractions.” Florida takes advantage of this tendency to lubricate his wriggling from trend to trend, and he’s not the only one. Thought-leaders of the business world have caught on too. One popular maneuver these days is wedging what they dubemotional intelligence” into optimization-obsessed tech-speak, having over-fit their vocabulary to the AI / machine-learning rockstars they’re so desperate to hang with. We may bemoan opportunists, but we’ll tolerate both them and our inherently fallible memory if we can keep intuition, complexity, and everything that makes us human. Fair trade.

Don’t know how we missed this. Don’t how you missed this. This, this shipwreck diary of a content marketer.

For Watt, the journal of musician advocates CASH Music, Liz Pelly dives into the muck of Spotify’s playlists. In our new playlist culture, the battles for attention, and the tricks played by the gatekeepers, make old school radio payola seem so heartwarming in comparison. You can’t win over an algorithm by singing of its broken heart. Pelly also showed up in our feeds over on The Creative Independent this week, talking collectivism, DIY spaces, and other things close to our hearts.

This article’s not new new. From February GQ. But given that we’re canna-heavy-ish—Anna’s elbow deep in the cannabiz right now—we thought we’d shine a little light on one of the best stories from the space: Meet the Green Angels. Rumour has it, the movie rights were just sold.

The Babadook wishes you a happy pride.


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