Look At All The Nice Things. Just LOOK At Them!
If it's Sunday, this must be Nice Things, our weekly escape from the quotidian awfulness. Our featured doggo this week comes via a photo by Wonkette reader "Teecha," and we don't think Teecha mentioned a name for this lovely old rescue dog. If it is a dog at all: I think it may actually be one of Sia's more inventive disguises, like that time she was a little pony.
Family Is A Verb
Let's start off with one of those occasional reminders that the Twitter machine is not always a total garbage fire, this lovely thread by writer Quinn Cummings, whom you should follow on that hellsite because she tells excellent stories with alarming frequency. She and Wonkette alum Sara Benincasa are here to adopt all the LGBTQA kids, if they need extra family, and it's just sweet and life-affirming AF:
The thread continues, with a whole crowd of Twitter people, some Big Names and others just good citizens, jumping in to volunteer as family members. And as Cummings noted, the Valentine's Day hug made the Paper Of Record.
Cummings told the New York Times she'd been thinking a lot about that asshole West Virginia Republican state rep who compared The LBGT to the KKK (both have initials, for one thing, and are hate groups, he explained), and later, when asked how he'd feel if his own kids came out, "joked" it would be a chance to find out if they "could swim." Because this is NICE Things, we will not embed the video.
There was also a lot of competition about who would be your aunt or uncle who's a librarian, and they eventually agreed they all would be. It was all incredibly sweet and reminded me of one of Kurt Vonnegut's recurring themes, the need for our atomized American idea of "family" to be expanded considerably beyond the arbitrary boundaries of genetic accident. (Oddly enough, Vonnegut wasn't all that happy with Slapstick, the novel in which he played around with that idea. Hey, here is a link to an interview with Uncle Kurt about Slapstick! And OMG, there is a whole series of interviews with/about (mostly with!) Vonnegut at WNYC!!!!)
Scary Stories To Tell When You're Black
We have to start with a confession here: We haven't yet seen the actual documentary Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror, directed by Xavier Burgin, because it is on the "Shudder" streaming service (owned by AMC). We don't subscribe, but damn, looks like we'll have to sign up for at least a month, if only to watch this:
Based on the book of the same title by NYU media prof Robin R. Means Coleman, the movie discusses the image of African Americans in horror movies, particularly the typecasting clichés of "first to die" and of course the "wise negro" who imparts some helpful advice to the white protagonist, and then also dies horribly. And while Get Out brought new attention to the intersections between "horror" as a genre and the horrors of racism, it was, of course, only the latest in a long line of movies to do that.
Check out these excellent discussions of the movie and its overall topic at 1) The Daily Beast, which brings us an interview with Rachel True. She starred in The Craft but was inexplicably (i.e., all too explicably) left out of "cast reunion" panels at several recent conventions -- then raised hell about it on Twitter. Excellent stuff!
Also 2) give a listen to this NPR interview with Horror Noire executive producer Tananarive Due, who recommends three of the movies featured in the documentary: Ganja and Hess, a long-lost 1973 flick about addiction to blood; Tales From the Hood, the 1995 horror comedy with a racist politician whose slogan is "An Original American, isn't it about time?" HMMMM; and Eve's Bayou from 1997, which wait a minute, that played in art houses and now you say it's horror? Cool.
Why am I even writing this thing when I could be watching movies? Oh yeah. Gotta pay for the streaming n stuff.
Book Club: Let's Get This Thing Started!
Last week we asked you guys whether you'd prefer to discuss our book club selection, Erik Loomis's A History of America in Ten Strikes, all at once in a single post, like once a month, or a few chapters at a time. About two thirds of you said you'd prefer breaking it down into smaller chunks, week by week, which is what we'd prefer too, so that is how we will do eet! Hey, buy it with this handy Amazon linky and Yr Wonkette gets a nice little kickback, too!
I'm thinking I'll run the book club discussion as a stand-alone post, but don't panic, it'll be in addition to Nice Things, not a replacement, probably. (Maybe I'll take like one week off from Nice.) Loomis's labor-based history is a pretty quick read, so I think three installments should do the job, starting next Sunday. Let us schedule!
February 24: Introduction and Chapters 1-3 (The Lowell Mill Girls, Slaves on Strike, and The 8-Hour Day Strikes)
March 3: Chapters 4-7 (The Anthracite Strike and Progressivism, The Bread and Roses Strike, The Flint Sit-Down Strike, and the Oakland General Strike)
March 10: Chapters 8-10 (Lordstown and Workers in a Rebellious Age, the Air Traffic Controllers' Strike, and Justice for Janitors and Immigrant Unionism) and Conclusion.
Dang, writing a syllabus is hard work!
Also, if you want a chance to win a free copy of A History of America in 10 Strikes, the publisher is giving away 20 copies in a free-for-nothing drawing over at Goodreads; the only downside is that the drawing will be held on February 26, after we've started our discussion, but that's OK -- I assume once we start chatting next week, more people will be getting the book for the remaining two installments (see how we are cleverly relying on selling extra copies with the week-by-week format, so sneaky!)
The Wreck Of The Fitzgerald, Only With No Ballad Yet
Go spend some time with "Fight the Ship," ProPublica's in-depth (hmm, too soon?) reporting on the deadly June 17, 2017 collision between a container ship and the US Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald. It was the first of two collisions between Navy ships and freighters in the Pacific, and while the official Navy investigations held the captains ultimately responsible, the reporting gets at far wider systemic problems (crappy training, iffy electronics systems, and more) that contributed to the loss of life. This is outstanding investigative reporting, relying on a fuckton of documents and an assload of interviews to report out a tragic fuckup and the crew members who nonetheless dealt with the emergency with incredible bravery. Put down those kitten pics for a minute and read it, it's GOOD.
Two Supposedly Fun Things I'll Never Even Do Once
The "Went On A Cruise" genre can make for some awfully good writing, and no, David Foster Wallace didn't have the final take on it -- just one of the classic ones. Go read Laurie Penny's outstanding and hilarious "Four Days Trapped at Sea With Crypto's Nouveau Riche" at Breaker. Yes, it's about a sea cruise (ucch) on a ship full of crypto-currency assholes (double-ucch). But that's why this essay works: Laurie Penny is a sharp observer of the whole wretched display, especially of the toxic masculinity running rampant on the BitBoat like a horrific norovirus, only it makes your soul puke. After a whole bunch of cryptoblather about the beauty of building a new economy (while burning up enough server power to equal the energy needs of Ireland), the cryptobois all turn their backs on a panel on "women in blockchain." Which is a shame, says Penny, because they also missed
moderator Olga Feldmeier's summation, delivered in a pitch-perfect Russian lilt: "Being a woman in blockchain," she says, "is like riding a bicycle. Except the bicycle is on fire. And everything is on fire. And you are going to hell."
There's just so much good stuff in this essay, which treats the bitweirdoes with a bit of humanity, but mostly makes clear many are really intent on earning the contempt of decent people.
The grifters are in it for the fame and the money and will say any old bollocks to get either. The true believers accept the money and fame as an inevitable proof of their genius. And then there is a rare subset of incredibly dangerous sociopaths soaked in Dark Enlightenment nightmare libertarianism for whom grifting is true belief.[...] To them, the presence of thieves and Ponzi scheme dealers means the new free market is thriving.
The essay is sprinkled with observations that make you laugh and wince at the same time:
The whole place smells of aftershave and insecurity. But if you want to know how power actually operates in any community, watch the women.
Of the 400-plus passengers, many—I'd guess at least 150—are "hostesses" from Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus, and many are offering services unspecified. Most blockchain events have a gender balance problem. The cruise organizers have allowed the decentralized free-market to solve that problem the best way it knows how. Not enough women? Just hire some. Not as actual employees of your company, god no. To stand around looking delicious and fascinated. What else are women for? [Ed: CoinsBank, which also offered rooms for "18+ only" ladies, did not reply to multiple requests for comment.] The sea-swell swaying hallways are full of moody Eastern European teenagers in impractical heels. "We're here as…as help," one of them tells me in the elevator.
This is one of those pieces you should read with a friend so you can talk about it over lunch or coffee. Hey, if Wonkette allowed comments, which we do not, you could even discuss it here!
Find Your Town's Climate 'Twin City'
Neat story from The Atlantic this week about a tool that uses current climate data to help people put a face on how their own communities will be affected by climate change. Based on a paper in Nature, the online tool helps you see how a changing climate will affect where you live by 2080, by looking at the current climate in your hometown's "climate twin." Much of the East Coast will be more like the Gulf Coast. Folks in Oregon will feel like current residents of California's Central Valley. (So will those of us in Boise, or at least our elderly kids.) And the Central Valley will be a lot like Baja California by then, a lot hotter and dryer.
Also, an excellent NYT splainer on the question climate scientists and reporters really get tired of but explain anyway because it matters and many people are genuinely confused: "If the planet is warming, why is it still cold?" (No we're not including the people who SHOULD know better, who deliberately confuse climate and weather because they are dishonest assholes). Kendra Pierre-Louis brings us ONE MORE excellent analogy to help out people who mix up the two:
Weather is what's happening over the short term, climate is what happens over the long term. The National Centers for Environmental Information, a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says that weather tells us what to wear on a given day, while climate tells us what we should put in our closets. It's why you don't find many South Floridians with an extensive down coat collection.
That's pretty good, huh?
Random Stuff Including Cute Pets!
Oh look, historian Kevin Gannon's French bulldog, Lulu, has an important writing project!
Also, if you'd like to yell back at stupid stupid Donnie Jr, you could get a t-shirt!
Video of a border collie named "Verb" doing the agility thing, and just look at that happy leap into her human's arms at the end!
Several people noted that running the course IS the treat, and also is there any better name possible for a border collie than "VERB"??? (There is not)
Also, this little dachshund will make you laugh with the happies, the end.
NO WE SAID "THE END" AND WE ARE NOT EVEN GOING LOOKING FOR CAT GIFS YOU PEOPLE WILL POST CAT GIFS NO MATTER WHAT AND WE WILL HAVE SOME OF THOSE ANOTHER TIME WE HAVE BOOKS TO READ AND MOVIES TO FALL ASLEEP DURING! Good day, sir. I say, good DAY.
Update: OK. fine, found this just after we finished, and it is cute and deadly just like your home floof is:
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.