Celebrating the death of Rush Limbaugh, skinny jeans, and Ted Cruz’s dignity
Sen. Ted Cruz garnered widespread criticism this week when he fled a powerless Texas for a tropical getaway to Cancún, leaving his constituents—and family poodle, Snowflake—to tough out the freezing temperatures. He then attempted to diffuse the widespread public criticism by throwing his teenage daughters under the bus, claiming he acquiesced to their request for a trip, “wanting to be a good dad.” After a thorough internet-shaming, Cruz was spotted slinking back to Texas.
Brian Eno’s cure for society’s pathologically short attention span
Over the past year, we’ve heard about 365 accounts of how the pandemic could and should have been avoided. Long-term planning isn’t liberal democracy’s strong point, and America has proven especially determined to send us flying by the seat of our pants into a future that will no doubt suck. From this standpoint, Brian Eno’s Diary: A Year With Swollen Appendices—commenced at the end of 1994 during the height of the Bosnian War, first published in 1996, and now re-released in a gorgeous 25-year anniversary edition via Faber—is not only a trip into one of the most extraordinary creative minds of our time, it’s also an unsettlingly prescient testimony to the urgency of long-term thinking. Entries include deceptively banal musings on the “value” of art, emails to Stewart Brand about the philanthropy-to-imperialism pipeline, and offhandedly ingenious ideas in footnote (abolishing the Tories, a Book of Flemish Noses, a League Against Dog Shit) while the ‘appendices’ probe deeper into everything from ambient music to civilization’s “pathologically short” attention span. “Clock Library” is certainly food for thought in the time of seemingly eternal lockdown and constant infrastructural failures—the clock ticks once per year, bongs once a century, and promotes long thinking over the ad hoc planning that gave us Texas. Eno and Brand’s complementary idea: a “responsibility roster” holding politicians and corporations accountable for making ill-considered predictions about the future.
Earlier this week, I thanked my lucky stars that I had long converted to the middle-part lifestyle and that my skinny jeans were still relegated to the sad reusable Trader Joe’s bag that I will maybe one day take to Buffalo Exchange. The Millennial vs Gen Z discourse had congealed into two main stylistic differences: According to TikTok, Gen Z is viciously ridiculing side parts and skinny jeans and Millennials are getting defensive about it. But like the Phoebe Bridgers guitar-smashing of yore, my social media algorithms didn’t show the actual intergenerational brawl, just the commentary about it. The whole thing might be very silly given the cyclical nature of fashion trends (which will hopefully leave mustache motifs and galaxy print their 2010s grave), but let the record show that I, a cusper, welcome symmetrical hairstyles and leg blood circulation.
Facebook bans news in Australia
Facebook’s recent ban of Australian news has the world engaged in a dilemma of hate. That is, a dilemma over who they hate more, who poses a bigger threat to freedom and democracy–media mogul and political bully Rupert Murdoch or the monopolizing overlord of Facebook, Mark Zuckerburg. The restrictions follow a push by Australian lawmakers requiring Facebook and Google to compensate Australian news publishers for sharing their content, a move some see as yet another powerplay by Murdoch, who would profit enormously from the deal. But when Facebook refused to comply, instead banning Australian news distribution on its platform all together, many saw that as an equally base move. The only thing that’s certain, aside from the world’s general disdain for the uber-rich playing with politics and free speech, is that Aussie moms will need to find a new way to share political conspiracies.
AI breaks into the art world
The looming threat of an artificial intelligence takeover has given those working in creative industries a misguided sense of superiority, thinking that their work requires an innate humanness that droids don’t have. Now, it seems, they are no longer safe. Ai-Da, a humanoid, painted a series of self portraits that will go on display at London’s Design Museum. She has already made more than £1 million off of her artistic works. The exhibit is set to premiere in May, where the artist herself is expected to appear.
When former President Donald Trump contracted coronavirus, celebrations of his infection and prayers for his death were met with criticism. Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter all said it is not allowed to wish for the President’s death, at least not on their platforms. Many angry Twitter users agreed with this sentiment. Trump did recover, but now we are faced with a similar dilemma. Rush Limbaugh, a man with what the Wall Street Journal generously called a “complicated legacy,” died at 70 earlier this week. Limbaugh, much like Trump, made a name for himself on a platform of hate where he developed a cultish following. His infamous segment “AIDS Updates” consisted of him mockingly reading the names of victims of the disease. He called Chelsea Clinton a “dog” when she was only 12. When Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008, he compared racist rioters to revolutionaries. Publicly wishing for someone to die may be seen as shameful, but can’t a person’s death be celebrated without moralistic ridicule?