Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Money Can’t Buy You Gandalf

Yes, it makes me happy that Douche Flotilla Admiral Sean Parker’s wedding will never stop being mockable.

As a reminder, Sean Parker’s cri du couer:

Weddings Used To Be Sacred And Other Lessons About Internet Journalism
…. When I got started in this industry almost 20 years ago, things were different. Back then there were no blogs, no Twitter or Facebook, and the editorial world was still a growing business. The reporters I interacted with diligently researched their stories, tracked down sources, conducted interviews, and even fact-checked their stories before publication. The trouble with online media is that there’s no incentive for them to do any of this. It’s easier to generate traffic with snarky stories than hard news, and there’s no downside for getting the facts of a story wrong, or even making it up entirely. The law offers no recourse, since being a “public figure” denies you, for all intents and purposes, any protection under libel laws. The blogs attack you, do their damage, and then move on to their next target. Now, because of the permanence of the Internet and the ease of Google, these vicious online attacks leave behind a reputational stain that is very difficult to wash out…

Always think before you hit the publish button, my friends!

Apart from cheap mockery, what’s on the agenda for the day?

trump pivots flat faced morin

(Jim Morin via GoComics.com)

How We Got Here: A History of The Development of the Alt-Right and Trumpism

Following on several of the posts today, but to step back a bit from the campaign issues a bit, The Guardian has run a long read, long form report on the roots of Trumpism, or perhaps more accurately, what is being called the alt-right. Here’s a taste, but as a student of socio-cultural identity and its powerful effects, I highly recommend you click across and read the whole thing.

Conservatives tend to portray their cause as the child of a revolt against the liberal status quo that began in the aftermath of the second world war, gained momentum in the 1950s when a cohort of intellectuals supplied the right with its philosophical underpinning, attained political consciousness in Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign, and won vindication with Ronald Reagan’s election to the White House. Ideas have consequences, they proclaimed. Just look at us.

But there is another way of interpreting the history of the American right, one that puts less emphasis on the power of ideas and more on power itself – a history of white voters fighting to defend their place in the social hierarchy, politicians appealing to the prejudices of their constituents so they can satisfy the wishes of their donors, and the industry that has turned conservatism into a billion-dollar business.

This is the explanation preferred by leftwing critics, who typically regard the Republican party as a coalition fuelled by white nationalism and funded by billionaires. But this line of attack also has a long history on the right, where a dissenting minority has been waging a guerrilla war against the conservative establishment for three decades. Now the unlikely figure of Donald Trump has brought in a wave of reinforcements – over 13 million in the primaries alone. Their target is the managerial elite, and their history begins in the run-up to the second world war, when a forgotten founder of modern American conservatism became a public sensation with a book that announced the dawning of a civilisation ruled by experts.

The Managerial Revolution: What Is Happening in the World was the most unlikely bestseller of 1941. The author, James Burnham, was a philosophy professor at New York University who until the previous year had been one of Leon Trotsky’s most trusted counsellors in the US. Time called Burnham’s work a grim outline of “the totalitarian world soon to come” that was “as morbidly fascinating as a textbook vivisection”…

… But Burnham quickly moved on to new territory. His true subject, he concluded, was power, and to understand power he needed a theory of politics. Marx had been his guiding influence in The Managerial Revolution; now he turned to Machiavelli, constructing the genealogy of a political theory that began with the author of The Prince and continued into the present.

For a Machiavellian, Burnham wrote, politics was an unending war for dominance: democracy was a myth, and all ideologies were thinly veiled rationalisations for self-interest. The great mass of humanity, in Burnham’s dark vision, would never have any control over their own lives. They could only hope that clashes between rival elites might weaken the power of the ruling class and open up small spaces of freedom.

Burnham’s newfound zeal for defending freedom led him, in 1955, to a conservative magazine called National Review, and to the magazine’s charismatic young founder, William F Buckley Jr. Buckley’s goal was to turn a scattered collection of reactionaries into the seeds of a movement. His journal set out to make the right intellectually respectable, stripping it of the associations with kooks and cranks that allowed liberals to depict it as a politics for cave-dwellers who had not reconciled themselves to modernity. Burnham was there at the start, one of five senior editors on the masthead of the first issue.

Open Thread: RuPaul Is A Wise Soul

And I’m not just saying that because he’s a Clinton supporter (though that doesn’t hurt). In light of his first Emmy nomination, NYMag‘s E. Alex Jung interviewed RuPaul:

What do you think about Hillary Clinton and the Democrats?
[Laughs.] I fucking love them. I have always loved them. And let me just say this: If you’re a politician — not just in Washington but in business and industry, you have to be a politician — there are a lot of things that you have to do that you’re not proud of. There are a lot of compromises you have to make because it means that you can get this other thing over here. And if you think that you can go to fucking Washington and be rainbows and butterflies the whole time, you’re living in a fucking fantasy world. So now, having said that, think about what a female has to do with that: All of those compromises, all of that shit, double it by ten. And you get to understand who this woman is and how powerful, persuasive, brilliant, and resilient she is. Any female executive, anybody who has been put to the side — women, blacks, gays — for them to succeed in a white-male-dominated culture is an act of brilliance. Of resilience, of grit, of everything you can imagine. So, what do I think of Hillary? I think she’s fucking awesome. Is she in bed with Wall Street? Goddammit, I should hope so! You’ve got to dance with the devil. So which of the horrible people do you want? That’s more of the question. Do you want a pompous braggart who doesn’t know anything about diplomacy? Or do you want a badass bitch who knows how to get shit done? That’s really the question…

I wanted to talk about the shooting at Pulse in Orlando. You made a statement at the Trailblazer Awards, and I wanted to hear about when you first heard the news and how it impacted you.
I have a long, long relationship with Pulse nightclub for years and years. It’s a safe space. It’s a safe haven — a place where people can meet our tribe. It always has been. To have it encroached by such an evil force hurts very deeply. I’m 55. I’ve witnessed so many assaults — emotional assaults, physical assaults, all of that. I was assaulted after the first attack, assaulted again just by how the media handled that stuff. So, it was a hurtful situation, and even more hurtful that I don’t believe that we as a people, as a culture, have really learned from it and how to deal with it.

What do you think needs to happen?
We need to talk about the subconscious mind. We need to talk about the hateful darkness that lives in each of us. We don’t all have it to that extent, but we definitely need to shed light on that area of us. All of us have been sold this idea that we deserve the whole world, and that everybody’s going to get the big house, the big cars, the two and a half children, and all of this stuff that the media sells us. And then people who don’t get it get angry. And they say, “Dammit, if I’m not going to get mine, no one’s going to get it!” So we get angry, and from the anonymity of a keyboard online, we troll people, we put them down. Some people go to the extent of killing people or being horrible in that way. And that’s obviously the extreme. But we all have that element. I think the way we approach this is we need to acknowledge that area of our consciousness that lives in all of us, and we need to start that dialogue. We need to recognize it when it pops up.

It’s all throughout the whole Trump thing: Ego wants to divide us up. Ego wants to believe that we’re separate from one another, but the truth is there’s only one of us here. So for us to move forward, we have to acknowledge that element in us, and then when it comes up, say, “Thank you for sharing, but I’m going do this, because I’m not going to act on my fragile ego.”…

Open Thread: When Does “Badly Dated” Age Into “Charmingly Retro”?

Although the novels have not aged well, I’ll always have a soft spot for Patrick Dennis (especially The Joyous Season and The Pink Hotel). His most famous character never stole my heart, but she’s still got major fans, according to Vanity Fair:

Bridesmaids, which was based on many of Annie Mumolo’s experiences serving as a round-the-calendar bridesmaid to her many cousins, resonated with a wide audience, including one revered dramatic actress who became an unlikely pen pal: Tilda Swinton…

“She’s like, from another world,” Mumolo says, in awe of her e-mail pen pal—the type of mythical celebrity who inspires the best fan fiction. “She’s one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever encountered. She’s so funny. Her e-mails are like works of art, truly. They should be published. The way she communicates is just beautiful and poetic.”

With time, the e-mails built to a professional collaboration.

“She asked me, ‘Have you read Auntie Mame?’” Mumolo remembers, referring to Patrick Dennis’s 1955 novel about a boy and his over-the-top eccentric aunt. “I said, ‘No, I haven’t read the book but I’ve seen the other version of it made into a film version in the 50s.’ She said, ‘Would you take a look at it? I want to see if you are interested in writing a modern-day adaptation.’ I said yes, because you say yes to Tilda Swinton when she asks if you want to do something.

“I read the book and it was one of the most fun reads I’ve ever had. It’s totally different from what I had seen in the movie versions,” Mumolo says. “We had meetings and then, as I got a little overwhelmed with a few other work things, I brought on a co-writer to work together on this, because it’s a huge job and an adaptation. I brought on a friend of mine—Stan Chervin [the Oscar-nominated Moneyball co-screenwriter].”…

But speaking of outdated cartoons…

Saturday Morning Open Thread: Nerd Alert Updates

It’s been a busy week. What else did we miss, while glued to the DNC news? What’s on the agenda for the weekend?


From NYMag‘s Vulture blog:

Ava DuVernay’s adaptation of the beloved book A Wrinkle in Time just got blessed from on-high, as Oprah Winfrey has entered final negotiations for the role of Mrs. Which. Mrs. Which is one of three celestial beings that accompany the story’s protagonists on their journey to find the father of the only girl in the group, Meg…

DuVernay has not directed a feature film since 2014’s Selma, which also featured Oprah, flung both her and star David Oyelowo into the mainstream consciousness. She famously turned down an offer to helm Marvel’s Black Panther, saying she didn’t know if she could give it the identity of “an Ava DuVernay film,” but apparently felt comfortable enough with Marvel’s parent company, Disney, to proceed with bringing Madeleine L’Engle’s story to life under their banner. You will be able to give DuVernay and Oprah more of your money sometime in 2017.

pokemon no keith knight

(Keith Knight via GoComics.com)

Saturday Afternoon Open Thread: Graphic Images

My inner teenage comix geek still gets excited when new, diverse writers get top billing… especially when they’re highlighted in the NYTimes!

Her story, written with Mr. [Ta-Nehisi] Coates, will follow Ayo and Aneka, two lovers who are former members of the Dora Milaje, the Black Panther’s female security force. “The opportunity to write black women and queer black women into the Marvel universe, there’s no saying no to that,” she said.

The first issue of World of Wakanda will include a 10-page second story by Ms. Harvey about Zenzi, a female revolutionary who incited a riot in the first issue of the Black Panther series. Mr. Coates, who recruited both writers, said he thought it was important to have female voices help breathe life into these characters. “The women in Black Panther’s life are very, very important,” he said…

Apart from celebrating a wider world inside our imaginations, what’s on the agenda for the evening?

(Yup, that’s great, too.)

Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Uptown Sophisticates

tweedles anne m

From commentor Anne M:

Meet the Tweedles, a.k.a. Tweedledum and Tweedledee. The picture was taken during a relatively calm moment – these 8-month old kittens go balls-to-the-wall most of the time. They were feral kittens who were rescued when very young. One of my friends says that they “went uptown” from a cage at Petsmart to a 2000 sq. ft. house with a 5-foot cat tree, drinking fountain, and automated litter box (thanks Werebear!).

For the curious, the edgy bodymods are how some trap-neuter-release groups identify the ferals who’ve already been doctored. Since the clipped eartip is obvious even in low light conditions, rescuers don’t have to keep putting those cats through the stress of being trapped & handled. Fortunately these guys were young enough to overcome their aversion to warm beds and modern litterbox technology!

Apart from watching (or not watching) the ongoing RNC meltdown, what’s on the agenda for the day?


Also, John Williams is a very nice man: