issue 059 - 20th September, 2020
MJW: Hello from my pain couch, on what is apparently around day 120 of Melbourne lockdown. I exist outside of time and only know that it is approximately 120 days because of an article I read somewhere. When CJW told me the newsletter was due today I was like, ‘no! Didn’t we just put one out?’ Time isn’t REAL anymore! You know, like jobs, the economy, or democracy. Anyway, enjoy our latest edition packed full of hectic shit, because, well… the world is a hectic place.
I wrote our latest bonus - Walking and Things - about walking, pain, lockdown, pandemic, writing, etc. It’s slice of life and perhaps an intimate look into my headspace (I don’t know if that’s good or not?). To get access to this bonus, future bonuses, and the full archive, just go here to become a supporter. For a preview, unlocked bonuses are listed here.
Corey J. White (CJW) - Low-power mode. Naarm/Melbourne.
CJW: ‘Queer Eye’, Jordan Peterson and the battle for depressed men (via Ed at Restricted.Academy)
The prominence that [Peterson] – and so many of his fellow travellers – give to their refusal to accept trans people only makes sense when you understand that for them, there is no greater sin than refusing to accept your place in the social hierarchy. After all, if you endlessly work hard to accept your rank in a world which makes you miserable, you resent no one more than those who refuse to follow. To be trans is to transgress against their world order, and they can’t stand it.
On Queer Eye vs Jordan Peterson in the battle for the hearts and souls of young men, particularly the things the show does right but also its misunderstanding of the economic realities facing so many of their guests.
MKY: off-topic ish, but I couldn’t help wondering if our deputy CHO is a Peterson fanboi, after that ‘just make ur bed’ thang.
Industry companies spent tens of millions of dollars on these ads and ran them for years, promoting the benefits of a product that, for the most part, was buried, was burned or, in some cases, wound up in the ocean.
Documents show industry officials knew this reality about recycling plastic as far back as the 1970s.
CJW: I found out that recycling is largely bullshit just in the last couple of years. I’d like to think the Australian situation is a bit better than the American one, if only because we haven’t relied on sending trash to China the same way the US has, but I’ve got no idea if we’re actually recycling to the extent that we as individuals have long assumed.
Related to trash: The mattress landfill crisis: how the race to bring us better beds led to a recycling nightmare. Those mattresses with no-risk returns that you’ve heard advertised on podcasts? In the States at least, if you return it they dump it straight into landfill because it’s cheaper than recycling. This article is mostly about the UK context, but, yeah. This is capitalism.
At full capacity, these [mining] companies expect to dredge thousands of square miles a year. Their collection vehicles will creep across the bottom in systematic rows, scraping through the top five inches of the ocean floor. Ships above will draw thousands of pounds of sediment through a hose to the surface, remove the metallic objects, known as polymetallic nodules, and then flush the rest back into the water. Some of that slurry will contain toxins such as mercury and lead, which could poison the surrounding ocean for hundreds of miles. The rest will drift in the current until it settles in nearby ecosystems. An early study by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences predicted that each mining ship will release about 2 million cubic feet of discharge every day, enough to fill a freight train that is 16 miles long. The authors called this “a conservative estimate,” since other projections had been three times as high. By any measure, they concluded, “a very large area will be blanketed by sediment to such an extent that many animals will not be able to cope with the impact and whole communities will be severely affected by the loss of individuals and species.”
We missed this one earlier in the year (probably because the country was burning), but it's a great long read about deep sea mining, the history of deep sea exploration, and more capitalist, environment-destroying bullshit.
Mining companies may promise to extract seabed metal with minimal damage to the surrounding environment, but to believe this requires faith. It collides with the force of human history, the law of unintended consequences, and the inevitability of mistakes.
The aging motels along Florida’s Highway 192 have long been barometers of a fragile economy. In good times they drew budget-conscious tourists from China, South America and elsewhere, whose dollars helped to pay the salaries of legions of low-wage service workers; the people who made one of the world’s largest tourism destinations — “the most magical place on earth” — run.
In tough times, the motels degenerated into shelters of last resort in a city where low-income housing shortages were among the most severe in the nation and the social safety net was collapsing. Now they were fast becoming places where it was possible to glimpse what a complete social and economic collapse might look like in America.
I read this and cried. I cry a lot lately. (Okay, I've always cried a lot, I'm a crier and I’m not ashamed, if you’re feeling frustrated or whatever rn, go and have a good cry, come back and tell me you don’t feel better.) While reading this for some reason the phrase 'there but for the grace of God go us' was in my head, which is so weird because I don't believe in God. But just… fuck. This story is not new. I’ve read about it many times. HuffPost, 2012. Time, 2014. The Florida Project, 2017. It’s been going on this long, and now chuck in Coronavirus and economic collapse and just… fuck.
The result is a splintered economic picture characterized by high highs — the stock market has hit record levels — and incongruous low lows: Nearly 30 million Americans are receiving unemployment benefits, and the jobless rate stands at 8.4 percent. And that dichotomy, economists fear, could obscure the need for an additional economic stimulus that most say is sorely needed.
One paltry fucking $1200 check. That’s it. That’s the sum fucking total of stimulus in the US. The country that as of this week has more deaths to Covid-19 than anywhere else in the world.
Young people on social media are also operating within the larger political and economic context of stagnating wages, inequality, cultural pessimism and anxiety, all of which have been magnified by Covid-19 and may likely continue to get worse. This goes hand-in-hand with radicalization. As fewer people are able to access the benefits of the mainstream, individuals move further toward the polarized edges of the competitive in an attention economy. My suspicion is that all social media influencers will soon also become political influencers. They’ll have to: online personalities who stay neutral will quickly sink to the bottom of the newsfeed.
Whereas Joshua Citarella’s paper (that we shared previously) was focused on researching and understanding the online political discourse of The Youth, this opinion piece is about the potential of radicalising young people for the left.
While we’re talking about TikTok: Trump administration bans TikTok and WeChat downloads over security fears… Can we convince them that guns - or fuck, the police - are a Chinese conspiracy?
They swarm homes in the middle of the night, waking families and embarrassing people in front of their neighbors. They write tickets for missing mailbox numbers and overgrown grass, saddling residents with court dates and fines. They come again and again, making arrests for any reason they can.
More predictive policing bullshit. This time around Tampa Bay. You can read our thinking on this subject in our bonus letter: Silicon Valley’s surveillance arsenal
Trump was elected president on a promise to restore an idealized past in which America’s traditional aristocracy of race was unquestioned. But rather than restore that aristocracy, four years of catastrophe have—at least for the moment—discredited it. Instead of ushering in a golden age of prosperity and a return to the cultural conservatism of the 1950s, Trump’s presidency has radicalized millions of white Americans who were previously inclined to dismiss systemic racism as a myth, the racial wealth gap as a product of Black cultural pathology, and discriminatory policing as a matter of a few bad apples.
I know Republicans that even support calls to #defundthepolice. That was unthinkable even a year ago. BLM has had more success in shaping political discourse than any other movement in America in my lifetime.
“I look up after all these decades of playing these characters, and I say to myself, it’s been so pervasive that I’ve been inside this storytelling, and I, too, have fallen prey to the mythology that’s been built up,” he says. “It’s almost like the air you breathe or the water that you swim in. It’s hard to see. But because there are so many cop shows on television, that’s where the public gets its information about the state of policing. Cops breaking the law to quote, ‘defend the law,’ is a real terrible slippery slope. It has given license to the breaking of law everywhere, justified it and excused it. That’s something that we’re going to have to collectively address — all cop shows.”
I’m a tragically devoted B99 fan, so obvs the current discourse around it, and the acknowledgement of my privilege in never having had to think of this before, has conjured some Thoughts and Feelings. So I have been interested to hear from someone involved with the show, esp one of the actors of colour, to let us know their feelings.
I’m delighted to hear of rewilding project’s successes in Melbourne, and elsewhere… that people are enjoying more green space during their one, no two whole hours now they can go a rambling and be all
but the demographics of it aren’t lost on me. I guess the poorer suburbs don’t have private golf courses to shut down, huh...
CJW: I absolutely adore this and these projects. And I’m so glad to see local councils coming around to realising how important wild land can be (instead of just handing everything over to developers).
Across the United States, some 162 million people — nearly 1 in 2 — will most likely experience a decline in the quality of their environment, namely more heat and less water. For 93 million of them, the changes could be particularly severe, and by 2070, our analysis suggests, if carbon emissions rise at extreme levels, at least 4 million Americans could find themselves living at the fringe, in places decidedly outside the ideal niche for human life.
Inferno season is decidedly a thing now on the west coast. Meanwhile flood insurers are obligating people to retreat from high-risk areas. And still no Green New Deal.
Cutting Room Floor:
A Dogfight Renews Concerns About AI's Lethal Potential - “We're heading now, by default, to the worst possible outcome." (via 20minutesintothefuture)
How to Cut Your Hair at Home - (mjw: relevant to me cause my flatmate let me shave her head with a pair of beard trimmers the other day, not advised.)
Peter Thiel Met With The Racist Fringe As He Went All In On Trump [this is my unsurprised face]
Elon Musk wants to colonize Mars. Is that profitable? [featuring choice quotes from friend of the newsletter, Damien @wolven Williams]
Google 'accidentally' enabled smart speakers to listen passive sounds [between this and Amazon just flat making Alexa tech for landlords it blows my mind that anyone would let the surveillance capitalists into their homes, if they had the choice]
When you browse Instagram and find former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's passport number -- a very australian cybersecurity tale abbott why posting ur boarding pass on insta is a bad idea [for the ppl that can go more than 5km from their homes lol sigh no ur crying]
Whistleblower: ICE Prison Does Hysterectomies at High Rates - Another example of US eugenics, and something the UN considers a crime against humanity. Which I’m sure the US cares about… They don’t commit those constantly.
Model and writer Emily Ratajkowski’s Owning my Own Image inThe Cut is really powerful and also really fucked in the stories it has to tell.
Status quo wants you to say "They were already disabled;" "Well they were old;" "Fat people are unhealthy anyway;" "Black people don't know how to take care of themselves;" "Poors should've made better choices;" "Who cares about trans people;" "Those illegals were always dirty."
And status quo wants you to say that and be comfortable saying that, because then it can't be you, right? If it's "Those People," who "brought it on themselves," somehow and who thus "don't deserve our help," then you, you, who are doing everything right, can't get sick, right?
Somehow Damien manages to outline a bunch of horrendous shit happening in the States, but still come out with a sliver of hope. Bless him (seriously, whatever powers that be, bless him), because that’s more than I can manage most days.
I hope by now you’re all subscribed to Technoccult, but this dispatch really spoke to me (and I’m sharing it instead of sharing 3 or 4 links from it).
If you, like me, haven’t read enough Octavia Butler, here’s a perfect excuse to rectify that. It’s a slow read along - one book every 2 months, starting with Kindred this month.
DCH: air by microclimate
Goro is the story of an extremely wealthy family, their bickering, infighting, and history of tension and hurt… and also assassins. It’s mostly about interpersonal relations, but when Horrocks needs to draw an action scene, she absolutely draws the hell out of it, with interesting layouts and kinetic art. The visual style is inspired by Bill Sienkiewicz, with a bold and artfully messy inking style, and an almost-collage feel in the use of tones and patterns.
I want to call it outsider comix, but I don’t think that’s accurate because Horrocks obviously knows comix intimately, and the choices she makes are deliberate. I’m also tempted to call it outlaw comix, but historically the art in outlaw comix is a lot darker, whereas Horrocks makes great use of white space in her layouts. So maybe it’s better to call it arthouse comix. Sarah Horrocks writes, draws, letters, and tones the whole comic herself, so there’s a definite sense of the auteur’s complete control and that “larger than the sum of its parts” feel you often get when a creator is able to work entirely for themselves, with no oversight or interference.
I’ve mentioned this series before, but to coincide with the anniversary of 9/11, the TrueAnon team added more episodes to the series. Across the full series they go into the decades of history leading up to 9/11, the “inconsistencies” of the day itself, the web of private and governmental intelligence agencies who may have been involved, and probably more I’m forgetting.
I re-watched The Long Kiss Goodnight last weekend and I had forgotten that the movie was about a US intelligence agency throwing a “fundraiser” - that is, a false-flag op that would kill enough innocent civilians that they’d essentially get a blank cheque from congress. It would be easy to say that 9/11 was a fundraiser, but that’s a simplification. It didn’t just raise money for intelligence, military, and policing bodies, but essentially reconfigured American society and rewrote American laws to give these groups a shocking amount of money and power, and to put them above the law. Not to mention how it gave them an excuse to police the Middle East for various economic, political, religious, and ideological reasons.
Similarly I rewatched Eagle Eye recently, and the main plot is about… well, all of the horrifying technological invasions of privacy that were outlined in Snowden’s leak 5 years after the film’s release. Except of course in the movie it’s a rampant evil AI that is making use of this freedom-decaying collection of surveillance tools, and not, you know, the US state, the many arms of its intelligence and policing organisations, or even just disgruntled police officers who want to locate the former spouse they’ve been violently abusing for years.
Eagle Eye has the sheen of US propaganda, but living in a post-Snowden world (in which nothing changed, but at least we all know we’re living in a panopticon) it’s hard not to see the irony.
MKY: Part 5 of this series might just be my favourite so far. But then again, maybe that’s ‘cause the strategy of tension they discuss in depth - a kinda, ‘who’s on first’ of false flags attacks and state-supported terrorism in general - is one of the things I’m trying to capture in my novel (stfu about ur novel m1k3y and get back to writing it. Ok, other me). But while I’ve got the mic, the slow convergence of their ‘spider network’ series and the bush pill’d ones reminds me of what happened with my old Nightmares of the Future and Plutocratic Exit Stratregy posts for the Daily Grail (and elsewhere) as they eventually became the same thing. It’s all one big, world swallowing elephant, and I guess tackling it all from multiple angles - start with the tail here and the trunk there - is just inevitable or something. Back on topic, dunno if we’ve mentioned it before, but their DH-Ass ep was ultimately the most mind blowing for me, and I think joins the two streams together.
DCH: “All the problems in the world can be traced to what fathers do to their sons.” -- George Carlin
MJW: Queerstories, a storytelling event for the queer community run all over Australia by Maeve Marsden, was the last event I did in person. It was at the Melba Spiegeltent in Collingwood, a small and beautiful space and the crowd sat shoulder to shoulder, most of the seats taken. I’ve come so far with reading my work aloud - I used to cop shit for the lack of affect that my overwhelming fear of sharing my work with people conjured when I had to read aloud at uni. With this one, I left the stage feeling like I was ON. Like I was even funny, which is something I have NEVER felt in my life. This is a ten minute tale about my nails, my chronic pain, and my unruly body.
Also, as other me (Mia Walsch), I did this interview with Sam Twyford-Moore for the University of Toronto Press, who is publishing the North American edition of his book The Rapids: Ways of Looking at Mania. Sam and I coincidentally went to primary school together and both released books about mental illness within the same 12-month period. Warning: it’s kinda long. I just have a lot of Thoughts and Feelings?
MJW: You made it! You deserve a cookie. A whole cake! Now, go forth and rewild, buy a ridiculous helmet that will make you look like a jerk, and maybe read Octavia Butler with a bunch of other fine people! If you can leave your house, enjoy it (with a mask on), and if you can see other people, (socially distance and) ENJOY THAT TOO. We’ll be back with more of our favourite stuff in a fortnight, or if you are me, what feels like MERE DAYS. Stay safe and be well. Xx