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Category Archives: Nihilism
Posted: February 25, 2021 at 2:04 am
By Ada Fisher
The recent action taken by the Quaker Oats family of products to change the name of Aunt Jemima to the Pearl Milling Company, which in 1888 developed self-rising flour, was a supposed bid to redress complaints of racism from the perceived belittling name for their pancake mix taking away from its legacy of good home cooking.
The face of Aunt Jemima was originally depicted by Nancy Green, a member of my grandfathers Olivet Baptist Church in Chicago. Green, a woman of class, was not a mammy, per se, but one born into slavery and found to be a servant of Gods word. In a bid for cultural whatever, nihilism is a description for removing all vestige of truth in search of political correctness and by which Black History has been distorted with facts thought to be a disgrace haphazardly removed rather than allow such to exist on its own truth.
Another example of something thats not quite the truth is an interpretation of the 1898 Wilmington Riots in North Carolina as simply race riots. They were a much more damning look at political retribution against the Republican Party. In the elections of that time in the city of Wilmington, though Blacks had claimed the public offices of that powerful port city, lost in the accounting of truth telling was that all of these elected people were registered Republicans.Some were killed. Others were run out of town via trains where Democrats were behind the violence. Too many, whether white or Black, stood quiet to this travesty of justice.
Prior to 1935, the majority of Blacks in elected office and all in national office were Republicans. In order to seize their power, the Democratic Party used tactics of violence. Jim Crow laws, poll taxes and gerrymandering were designed to keep blacks from voting and assuming power. The Ku Klux Klan was at their behest and did their biding. How quickly we forget and are too fast in failing to correctly direct blame from its inception. The attribution of such racism solely to the Republican Party reflects, in part, that many of these Democrats were to later infiltrate the Republican Party trying to nullify its quest for equal rights in their championing of the 13th, 14thand 15thUS Constitutional Amendments.
People are claiming the mantle of Black achievement that really didnt have the intestinal fortitude to start or truly get in the fight. Even today, Colin Kaepernick, a sidelined San Francisco 49ers football player who put it all on the line in taking a knee against racism and injustice during the National Anthem, is a pivotal anchor whose action strengthened the Black Lives Matter movement. For such, he is still out of a job in football.He, as well as others whove stood up for the right against discrimination, is persistently black balled and EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) hasnt done a thing to help.
The Republican imprint on Black history is enormous. Though it is often erroneously denigrated and excluded from appreciation. We are the ones who fought long and hard for the recognition and promotion of Black achievement. Let us not forget that James Weldon Johnson and his brother Rosemond wrote Lift Every Voice and Sing in 1906 in honor of Abraham Lincoln. Carter G. Woodson in 1915 founded the organization for the study of Negro life and history followed with Negro History Week in 1926. President Richard M. Nixons 1968 appointee, Arthur A. Fletcher, pioneered the notation of affirmative action during his stint as assistant secretary of the Department of Labor. In 1976, President Gerald R. Ford recognized Black History Month as part of the U.S. Bicentennial. President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Martin Luther King, Jr. national holiday in 1983. Most recently of note, it was President George W. Bush who on Sept. 24, 2016 authorized the establishment of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which is now a part of the Smithsonian Institute.
Many of the historically Black colleges and universities also benefited from the generosity of Republican leadership in their founding and continued support.
Though the Black church is publicly being acknowledged as central to our history, missed to date in its telling is some understanding of what the nature of the slave songs hidden codes truly were about historically as well as the bonds of brotherhood used to bring on social change and Black revolutions. The prevalence of Black ministers as perceived leaders in the fight for equal rights misses the cloaked interconnectedness in this fight from the Black Masonic and fraternal orders, artisans, educational frameworks, merchants, artists as well as farmers and lay people of color.
On a metaphysical level, Black history is the tying of our souls in existence to the great architect of the universe; it is as if we are the embodiment of quantum entanglement (a cosmic phenomenon occurring when entities generate, interact or share spatial proximity in a manner that the quantum state of each cannot be described independently of the others, including when separated at a distance in time or space).
In dismantling certain historical statues of our nations early founders, trying to erase history to ignore what blinds us in our pain or rewrite it to suit our purposes, we often fail to understand or acknowledge significant contributions to who we were and are.Let us give credit where credit is due. Our history should be a constant reminder and incentive for us to do the right thing.
Salisburys Ada Fisher is a licensed teacher, retired physician, former school board member and former N.C. Republican national committeewoman.
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Posted: at 2:03 am
Rage 2 is a pastiche of better shooters that have been released in the past decade, but that aspect of its design hides one huge secret for people looking for hidden gems: The combat and sense of power from the games guns and abilities is almost unmatched in gaming right now. Its the perfect free video game, if youre in the mood for a first-person shooter. Which is great news, because its currently free on the Epic Games Store.
Rage 2s story is a jumbled mess that I wont even try to describe; lets just say you play as a chosen one with special powers and leave it at that. You explore a somewhat open world, finding new weapons, working your way up through the tech tree, and unlocking a series of preternatural abilities while fighting against The Authority. You just know theyre bad with a name like that. The games aesthetic suggests something like splatterpunk, evoking the violent nihilism of the Borderlands series.
The original Rage was a pretty mediocre shooter from id Software, and John Carmack himself later directly apologized for its PC performance. So there wasnt a lot that Avalanche Studios and id Software could pull from it for the sequel. You dont have to worry about knowing the story beats from the first game to enjoy this one; its easily forgotten, and nothing of value is lost.
You may never care why youre doing something in Rage 2, or who exactly youre going after, but the combat itself shines like a beacon. Or at least, it does once you collect some of the better guns and abilities and get them nice and leveled up. The interface doesnt always make this easy, but its worth the hassle.
I can use one ability to fling enemies backward, slamming them into walls or each other, I wrote in our original review. I can use another ability to force enemies to float in the air, pulling other items toward them as if by the gravitational force of a very small black hole. I can turn myself into a human grenade and slam into the ground, reducing everyone around me to a bloody smear. I can upgrade my ability to leap high into the air until I can basically climb up the face of sheer-looking cliffs by spamming the jump button.
This combination of abilities, as well as weapons that all sound and feel brutally powerful in action, makes Rage 2 into a creative playground of violence. How you kill folks is up to you, and you can spend a lot of time in the menus creating a fun loadout to get out there and just straight up wreck shit.
Rage 2 was a hard sell when it launched at $59.99, but for the cost of zero dollars, you should absolutely grab it. Its a game that exists within a generic shell of attitude and faux edginess, and that can be annoying. But it can also be fun to giggle at the common gaming tropes and silly narrative excuses for how your player character became the most powerful fighter out on the battlefield.
Regardless, hidden inside this OK game is one of the best examples of weapon design and selection Ive seen in quite some time. Im always interested in just seeing how my arsenal grows and interacts with the world as I go forth and kill everyone I see in order to do whatever it is Im trying to do. Theres never been a better time to take out all your frustrations on virtual bad guys who are happy to die by the thousands.
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Posted: at 2:03 am
Evonne in the docuseries Trans In TrumplandPhoto: Topic
Heres whats happening in the world of television for Thursday, February 25. All times are Eastern.
Trans In Trumpland (Topic, 3:01 a.m., complete first season): Trans In Trumpland is a powerful docuseries with a total runtime of under two hours. Filmmaker Tony Zosherafatain takes a road trip across four states in the U.S. that have transphobic lawsNorth Carolina, Texas, Mississippi, and Idahoto converse with four transgender people of different ages and races as they cope with or fight against the anti-trans policies implemented by the Trumps administration. Zosherafatain, who is a trans man himself, gets to tell his own story over the course of four episodes as he meets members of the community to unpack the intersectional issues they face, whether its related to race, immigration, poverty. Trans In Trumpland doesnt just focus on these issues; it also demonstrates how these four people try to overcome them on a daily basis. While certain direction and music choices skew on the dramatic side, the docuseries works because of the compelling subject matter, especially the story of trans Latinx immigrant Rebecca, who moved to the U.S. at the age of 10 with her mother and has been detained by ICE three times. Its a step beyond negative headlines, offering a glimpse into the lived experience of those directly affected by laws such as the discriminatory HB2 bill, which prohibits trans people from using bathrooms and lockers that align with their gender identity, or the trans military ban. Created by TransWave Films with Transparents Trace Lysette as an executive producer, this docuseries is a heartfelt must-watch. [Saloni Gajjar]
Mr. Mayor (NBC, 8 p.m.): season-one finaleClarice(CBS, 10 p.m.)
The Dark And The Wicked (Shudder, 3:01 a.m., streaming premiere): [A] sense of morbid inevitability, of death laughing at humanitys feeble platitudes about the power of love and Gods plan, is at the heart ofThe Strangers writer-director Bryan Bertinos savagely efficient new film The Dark And The Wicked. This film is about vicious nihilism as much as it is about anything, and if a character expresses hope or happiness at any point during its compact 95-minute running time, you can bet that fate is going to make them look like a fool. Even the moralistic message that lurks under the surface of many horror movies is absent here; the evil in this film appears to be Biblical in nature, but faith and virtue are no more effective at stopping it than denying its existence altogether. Read the rest of Katie Rifes film review.
Punky Brewster(Peacock, 3:01 a.m., complete first season): While the newest, most self-aware iteration of Saved By The Bell managed to find the sweet spot between its dated source material and todays comedic palette, the new Punky Brewster simply dons an ill-fitted costume of an aged-up favorite without sincerely growing up, remaining reliant on old catchphrases and adorable spunk without unearthing anything that is truly fresh. And while a little mindless escapism and vaguely comforting warmth cant hurt, it is ultimately a continuation of a story that firmly ended over 30 years ago. Read the rest of Shannon Millers pre-air review, and remember, if you ever feel the urge to play hide and seek, never hide inside an abandoned fridge.
Luda Cant Cook (3:01 a.m., Discovery+, one-hour special): Chris Bridges, better known to hip-hop fans and people who love the Fast & Furious movies as Ludacris, is apparently not much of a cook. Chef Meherwan Irani aims to change that in this Discovery+ special. Wed like to suggest that perhaps Luda should go on to make really excellent side-dishes that feature prominently in other peoples meals. Seems like hed be good at that.
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Posted: at 2:03 am
In a little-known 1947 essay Humanism and Terror, the French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty argued that a society is not the temple of value-idols that figure on the front of its monuments or in its constitutional scrolls; the value of a society is the value it places upon mans relation to man. He was critiquing what he saw as a grandstanding French liberalism, too infatuated with its ideals to see what was being carried out in its name. To understand and judge a society, he continued, one has to penetrate its basic structure to the human bond upon which it is built; this undoubtedly depends upon legal relations, but also upon forms of labour, ways of loving, living, and dying.
Merleau-Ponty was writing at a time of incendiary debate among intellectuals in post-war France. Left-wing philosophers such as Merleau-Ponty, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, finding themselves caught between American-style capitalism and Soviet-style communism, wondered if there was an alternative to either. (Humanism and Terror was in part a response to Arthur Koestlers Darkness at Noon, a novel about the 1930s Stalin show trials.) Friendships were formed and torn apart over discussions on the use of violence in the service of revolution. Merleau-Ponty broke with Sartre and Beauvoir over their continued defence of the Soviet Union.
Then, in 1954, another historical upheaval would quickly reinvigorate the debate on violence, politics, and revolution: the fight for Algerian independence. It caused rifts of its own, notoriously between Sartre, who praised the emancipatory potential of revolutionary violencenotably in his introduction to Frantz Fanons Wretched of the Earth (1961)and Albert Camus. Camus, an Algerian pied noir of European descent, first argued that violence could quickly turn to nihilism in The Rebel (1951); later, he stood up on a podium to a large audience in Algiers during the war, proposing a civilian truce and asking the crowd to renounce the slaughter of innocents. His hesitant attitude to Algerian independence still garners disagreement in Algeria todayas are debates in France on secularism, Islam, and the nations colonial afterlives.
Fiction is one way of squaring Merleau-Pontys paradox between the gap of ideals and lived reality. It can unsettle the dictums of our time and speaks to our contemporary ways of living, loving, and dying that do not make it onto the front pages of newspapers, or into the speeches of politicians. Or, as Fernand Iveton, the protagonist of Joseph Andrass 2016 novel, Tomorrow They Wont Dare to Murder Us, translated by Simon Leser, puts it with reference to French attitudes to Algerian demands for independence: We put them behind bars and abolish their parties, dissolved, reduced to silence, and then we stand so tall with Culture, Liberty, Civilisation, those capital letters, paraded up and down.
Tomorrow blends fiction and non-fiction, picking up where Sartre and Camuss debate on violence and the French state left off. Iveton was a real-life supporter of Algerias National Liberation Front (FLN), born to Spanish and French parents in Algiers in 1926, and was the only European executed by France during the war, at the age of 29. The grand adages of the French republicequality, humanism, and human rightscrumble to dust in Andrass taunt, lyrical telling, as Iveton, a worker at a local gas company, prepares to set off a bomb in an abandoned shed at the factory where he works. He gets caught and is brutally interrogated by the police; his story attracts the attention of the press in Algeria and France. The French public calls for his blood. Meanwhile his wife Hlne, a defiant Polish Jew, becomes a local heroine within the underground Algerian resistance.
Andrass style can be frenetic. This is Iveton remembering the making of the bomb: The timer is relentless, liable to drive a person crazy in the most literal way, tick-tock tick-tock tick-tock tick-tock tick-tock tick-tock. Then, suddenly, a return to the present:Wheres the bomb you son of a bitch? Fernand is blindfolded with a thick piece of torn cloth. His shirt lies on the floor, shorn of most of its buttons. One of his nostrils is bleeding. A cop punches him as hard as he can; his jaw makes a faint cracking sound. Wheres the bomb?
Ivetons imprisonment and torture is woven alongside an earlier story of his relationship with Hlne. Here, the previously staccato prose becomes joyous, tender, full of soaring possibility that will be violently foreclosed. Iveton meets Hlne at a restaurant in Paris, where she works as a waitress. He notices her eyes, coloured the kind of wolf-dog blue which rummages around your heart, never asking for permission, which enchant the North African kid that he is. She tells him about her family, how her mother cast off her wealthy family to run off with her father, and which of her family members were massacred during the Second World War. They talk about politics: Fernand is upfront about his proletarian sympathies. Hlne laughs: Why not? Communism would be nice, sure, provided that its actually implemented, equality for all, the real thing, without bigwigs or bureaucrats, without propaganda or political commissars. But that doesnt really exist anywhere, not even in the USSR, she points out.
What distinguishes Iveton is his belief that there can be that seemingly impossible space in-between. A member of the Algerian Communist Party, he becomes frustrated with the inertia of the partyitself riven with debate on whether the FLN comprised a genuine revolution or the doing of reckless agitatorssees his friends die in the war, and becomes an independent affiliate of the FLN. He does not agree with some of their methods, choosing instead to place a bomb at an abandoned building near his workplace to mess up some equipment and make a symbolic statementone that could have hardly harmed a large fly. When he later recounts the story to his inmates, a man named Abdelaziz objects, saying that pilots who bomb villages dont care about the children cowering inside of their homesand eye for an eye, he concludes. If this were non-fiction, perhaps wed be taken down the line of the Sartre-Camus debate on the ethics of violence, judge each side and come to a definitive conclusion. Instead, Ivetons trialnow followed intensely by newspapers, politicians, and Hlneawaits.
What is clear, though, is that Iveton will not be granted the same nuance with which he approaches his own politics by a nervous and vengeful French state. He goes into the trial believing that his intentions will absolve himhe did not want to hurt anybody, he tells the court. He only wanted to draw the French governments attention to the growing number of combatants fighting for greater social happiness, he tells the court, and to prove that not all European Algerians are anti-Arab, because the gulf keeps growing. Iveton trusts that France is no dictatorship; itll be able to see whats what, and reports to the judge of his experience being beaten and torturedactions nominally prohibited.
But to the state, Iveton is not so much an individual with a fine-tuned purpose but a European Algerian who crossed an impossible threshold at an impossible time. The French state is on edge, his lawyers tell him; politicians claim in public that Iveton had intended to blow up the whole city; French newspapers deem him a killer. Meanwhile Franois Mitterrand, then senior minister in charge of leading the response for the war, is confirming death sentences, holding the firm position that Algeria is France. Some speculate that because of Ivetons race he will be spared, but things are more complicated. Iveton shows the others that there is a different way to be European. For breaking open these conditions of possibility, he is too dangerous to keep alive.
First published in France in May 2016 under the name Nos frres blesss, Andrass novel was awarded the Prix Goncourt prize for debut novels, sparking public interest in an unknown writer. Andras declined the prize, writing in a letter that competition and rivalry were in his eyes notions foreign to writing and creation. He has avoided engaging with the media, only giving short interviews to a few newspapers in which he reasserted his desire to live privately against the age of spectacle, publicity, and media.
The only things he has to say to the public, he followed, are in his booka book that brings in vivid, roaming detail the life of one man, a historical conflict, and the ignoble past of a nation state at odds with its avowed ideals. The story of Iveton soon became folded into national myth: Sartre memorialised him in an essay titled We Are all Assassins; Camus, too, is said to have tried to prevent Ivetons death, warning that unpunished crimes, according to the Greeks, infected the city-statewhich rings like a premonition to the France of today, tumbling down in the gulf between Culture, Liberty, Civilisation and the violence it exacted throughout history and continues into the present day. Andrass retelling adds to the rich canon. Though in it, Iveton not only becomes a historical symbol, but reanimated as a flesh-and-blood man who loved and was loved back.
Tomorrow They Wont Dare to Murder Us by Joseph Andras, translated by Simon Leser (Verso)
Originally posted here:
Posted: February 22, 2021 at 2:32 pm
Shades of nihilism are no stranger to the horror genre. The human body is so often manipulated and destroyed in the face of an evil force. However, in the 21st century, a new type of nihilistic cinema was born in France with the New French Extremity. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the world felt defenseless, and the films within this movement, such as Martyrs and High Tension, depend on the complete destruction of the human body to convey a sense of hopelessness: bad things happen to normal people and it cannot be stopped. But in the US, while there was a rise in torture porn films such as Saw and Hostel, there wasnt such a pervading sense of nihilism in mainstream American horror cinema.
Enter Bryan Bertino, who burst into the film world in 2008 with his home invasion thriller, The Strangers. With his killers reasoning simply being because you were home, Bertino established himself as a filmmaker who was not interested in happy endings. Instead, his work encapsulates the deep sense of insecurity that came with post-9/11 America and pervades today. His entire filmography speaks to the futility of humanity trying to gain control over danger and how sometimes terrible things just happen to good people. There is no rhyme or reason as to why Bertinos characters are targeted. Their horrific fate is nothing but random chance.
The shock of The Strangers during its initial release was particularly centered on that key phrase: Because you were home. Kristen (Liv Tyler) and James (Scott Speedman) are staying at his family cottage in the middle of nowhere. As they settle in for the night, they receive loud knocks at the door from a young woman who asks, Is Tamara home? This unsettling interaction launches a series of events where three people in masks terrorize the couple for no other reason except for their sick enjoyment. They have no history with Kristen and James and just so happened to choose the house because the couple opened the door. Common courtesy is weaponized as an invitation to kill.
Kristen and James are barely able to inflict injury on the masked assailants. Even when they find a gun or grab a knife, they are unable to ever gain the upper hand against the three strangers. These are not bumbling criminals, but sociopaths who do this for the thrill of the hunt. They know what to expect from a desperate couple trying to save themselves, and they toy with them all night as a sick game. The only goal is pain they dont want money or revenge. They just want blood.
This invasion of the domestic space has a close correlation to post-9/11 cinema, as genre film even more explicitly established homes as a place of danger rather than safety. While home invasion was not a new topic, in the 2000s, homes were most often invaded by random strangers rather than monsters or bloodthirsty serial killers. The monsters are the humans themselves, capable of horrific violence.
Released in 2014, Mockingbird is Bryan Bertinos venture into the found footage subgenre, which is arguably a nihilistic genre in general. A majority of films with that label contain raw footage of a person or groups final days and therefore end with the death of everyone on camera. But Mockingbird goes the extra mile in having unnamed people, similar to The Strangers, torture three separate groups of people who are eventually brought together in an act of extreme violence. They place mysterious boxes on front doorsteps, each containing a video camera and a set of instructions. If they dont follow instructions, they or someone they love will be killed.
Each group has a special label that makes them a figure instead of people: The Family, couple Tom and Emmy; The Woman, Beth; and The Clown, Leonard. Their humanity is removed and they are stripped of any illusion of agency; they become puppets for the sick enjoyment of whoever may be watching. Again, similar to The Strangers, the three groups of victims are never in control of the situation despite hiding in their homes with the doors and windows locked. Home means nothing when an assailant can predict every move.
But the most nihilistic element of Mockingbird is the reveal of who has always been in control of the situation: a group of children. Creepy, possessed children are a horror staple, but here, they are not possessed nor under the influence of an evil entity. Instead, it is implied, they are acting of their own volition and torturing adults as a sick game. Once again, human life is tossed around like a plaything, showing there is nothing left but the infliction of suffering.
Bryan Bertinos third film, The Monster, released in 2016, is perhaps the biggest deviation from his typical films, incorporating an actual monster instead of just cruel humans. The threat feels much further from reality as the creature is attacking a mother (Zoe Kazan) and daughter (Ella Ballentine after theyve broken down on a back road. The Monster more closely follows genre conventions in its setup and use of a fictional monster to create fear.
That is not to say that Bertino does not sprinkle in his love of misery, which is centered on the tumultuous relationship between a mother and her young daughter, who is painfully aware of her mothers alcoholism. As the two try to navigate each others emotions, they are pummeled by this creature, which doesnt care about their issues. They scream insults at one another, and neither mother nor daughter is safe from violence. Ultimately, Bertino continues to portray the death of the family not just by their resentment, but also by the mothers eventual death. Yes, she protected her child, but that still leads to a message of families unable to truly stay together in the face of violence.
Bertinos most recent film, 2020s The Dark and the Wicked, is the culmination of his previous three films in how families become random targets of violence with no rhyme or reason. Again, the family, the domestic unit that is supposed to be the backbone of America and a safe place shielded from the horrors of the world, is systematically destroyed. No longer is the home safe; the place that was once a shelter becomes a hellscape.
When they receive news that their father is dying, siblings Louise (Marin Ireland) and Michael (Michael Abbott, Jr.) return home to the family farm despite their mothers aggressive insistence that they dont come. Her vague words of warning wont stop her children, and upon their arrival, whatever is plaguing the farm extends its influence to Louise and Michael. It is an insidious force with only the goal to cause pain, and pain it brings as the entire family is haunted by horrific images that blur the lines between reality and delusion.
No matter what Louise and Michael do to try to stop the entity haunting their family, they are stopped in their tracks. In fact, the presence plaguing every second of their lives tells the siblings that their father did nothing wrong. They were just chosen at random. Just as in The Strangers, Mockingbird, and The Monster, these events dont necessarily have a catalyst. They were just the unlucky ones that gained the attention of a bored entity that wants to wreak havoc.
Their fathers nurse commits suicide via a knitting needle through the eye. Their mother chops off her fingers and hangs herself in the barn. There is no absolution of sins or purification that can save them. The story is an inversion of the typical possession plot where a family can band together and conquer the evil together as one unified front. Instead of the eventual happy ending and banishing of the demon, each family member slowly succumbs to their doomed fate.
Suffice to say, Bertinos filmography is universally bleak as he aims to navigate nihilism and the random nature of violence rather than creating mythical beings with elaborate backstories. In avoiding the characterization of his villains, they become all the more terrifying as they become looming and unknowable figures who enjoy nothing more than suffering.
In looking at how 21st-century cultural insecurities have been filtered through a genre lens, the work of Bryan Bertino should be at the top of the list as films that refuse to sugarcoat reality and instead lean into our deep sadness about the destruction of an illusion of safety.
Posted: at 2:32 pm
A government that wanted to protect people could have prevented whats happening right now in Texas.
Because of the winter storm freezing the state, basically every large source of energy in Texas is down or barely functioning, and rolling blackouts have been announced.
Predictably, the blackouts have not actually been rolling. Instead, they have been heavily weighted towards poorer areas and diverted away from richer, whiter areas. This could be seen coming from a mile away, since it happens every time a widespread disaster occurs. For its part, ERCOT, the nonprofit council that controls power in Texas, dodged questions about why blackouts were longer term and not rolling, simply saying that doing so prevented bigger problems, without elaborating.
This is a pattern. Time and time again, resources are shifted away from marginalized communities and towards the rich and the white. While SARS-CoV-2 does not discriminate in who it infects, the lions share of injuries and deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic have come at the expense of Black people and the poor. Climate change is affecting the entire planet, except its causes come from the wealthy, who can just flee to a mansion on higher ground when the waves inevitably roll in.
The results of the governments action are an admission. I cant read hearts or minds, but if a group of people wanted to protect, say, an energy sectors profit margin above all else, they could skip over needed infrastructure upgrades to save money. When, inevitably, a disaster struck, they would probably protect the wealthy and powerful, those who had the ability to change things, affect state politics, or make a lot of noise. They might even fall back on nonsense excuses for their failures that simultaneously attempt to stoke culture wars, the kind that have gotten many Republicans elected in the first place.
80% of the power used in Texas comes from natural gas. After the last time a winter storm came through, in 2011, Texas had the opportunity to winterize its energy infrastructure. Power companies operating in a deregulated state market simply declined. Since Texas has its own power grid, separate from the rest of the country, there was no one to answer to. Inevitably, another storm came, froze Texass natural gas production, and that was that. Prominent Texas politicians then tried to blame statewide blackouts on the 10% of the states power that comes from green energy sources like wind, an explanation that fails both smell and sight tests.
Now, Texas grocery stores are empty, people have gone days without heat or running water in freezing temperatures, and at least 30 people have died, with that number expected to grow in the coming days.
Another winter storm like 2011 was bound to come one of climate changes many effects is the disruption of the polar vortex, a swirl of cold air thats normally restricted to the Arctic. It may seem contradictory, but warming temperatures globally actually disrupt the polar vortexs normal pattern, sending it south, meaning that Canada and the continental United States will feel it more often and more intensely than they otherwise would. Theres nothing freak about this anymore, and doing nothing in 2011 was a dereliction of governance amounting to a humans rights violation.
Electric grids that answer to no one, by the way, are also contributing to Californias reoccurring wildfire catastrophes. Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) simply prioritizes profits over updating its infrastructure, providing service to people, and protecting against climate change.
So of course this disaster happened. The Texas government simply didnt care to do anything about it. It wont be the last time climate change and profit margins butt up against human rights. Texas will freeze again. Gulf states will continue getting slammed multiple times per year by once-in-a-century hurricanes. Those storms will start creeping up the Eastern seaboard more and more often. California is going to continue burning to the ground year after year. Big Ones are just Normal Ones now.
Maybe the most frustrating part is that the solutions for many of these things are huge endeavors, but none of them are complex or hard to understand. Were past the point of climate denialism. Were in climate nihilism now, where climate change is so big, so obvious, so glaringly killing people today, right now, that government policy in places like Texas is a denial of the principles people in the 21st century need to live well into the 22nd.
Every government action is an admission. That every time the white and the wealthy are shielded from the worst of every climate change-induced catastrophe is an admission. Inaction is an admission from the government of Texas and the US government at large: poor, Black, and marginalized people are not worth protecting. The final admission, the thought that governs: if they die, so what?
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Posted: at 2:32 pm
"Its so funny and sharp. I especially appreciate all the vagina humour."
ABCs new series, Why Are You Like Thisfollows three Aussie besties bumbling with abandon through the crazy freedoms and responsibilities that are your early 20s.
Making up the series central trio is Mia, Penny and Austin. Mia is a south Asian bisexual woman with no desire to keep any job for long. Penny, Mias best friend, is white, riddled with anxiety and determined to prove herself the best friend and ally to everyone she meets. Completing the trio isAustin, Pennys housemate, and budding drag queen struggling with depression.
Across 6, 20-minute episodes, the series unfolds as a sitcom about these three against the world. More specifically, Mia, Penny and Austin againstthe divisive sociopolitical hellscape that is 2021, and its immensely fun.
With unabashedly upfront storylines from lost diva cups to lost jobs theres an optimistic nihilism to Why Are You Like This.Where most series about precarious 20-30-somethings feel concerned with how to justify themselves, the trio inWhy Are You Like Thisare refreshingly unconcerned with agonising over their own existence for validation.
Instead, they opt for relentless frankness that is as confronting as it is entertaining. During episode 3, scenes of Austin scrolling through memes about suicide are intercut with Penny drunkenly bonding with a random girl she met in the bathroom over her Venn diagram of friendship, while Mia fails at getting laid. Its a discomforting sequence held together brilliantly by the creators determination to present experiences as they simply are for so many young people.
No doubt the series addictively honest qualities is a credit to the creators. Comedian, Naomi Higgins (who also plays Penny), and writer, Humyara Mahbub wanted to make a show about their friendship. The pair then teamed upwith Aunty Donnas Mark Bonanno via ABCs comedy Fresh Blood initiative in 2018 and made the pilot.
As a long time addict of the 20-30 somethings figuring life out genre, the seriesfeels like an instant classic. The series follows in the more diverse and nuanced footsteps of series like Insecure, Chewing Gum,or Search Partybut with a distinctively late-millennial/Gen Z edge.
Why Are You Like Thisis currently streaming on ABC iview, and will be internationally released on Netflix later this year.
Merryana Salem is a proud Wonnarua and LebaneseAustralian writer, critic, teacher, researcher and podcaster on most social media as@akajustmerry. If you want, check out her podcast,GayV Clubwhere she gushes about LGBT rep in media with her best friend. Either way, she hopes you ate something nice today.
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Posted: at 2:32 pm
Serving veterans as executive director at Huts For Vets has taught me two key things. First: strive to be nonjudgmental. Second: offer love as a healing balm. Neither one is easy because, by nature, were prone to judgments, and love is an abstract, if many-splendored, thing.
Veterans of the war in Vietnam were horribly judged. They were hated and spit upon. Their healing was not allowed because there was no love. Since that war, more than three times the names on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington have taken their own lives.
Today, the veteran suicide rate hovers around 22 per day. Isolation, despair and moral injury attribute to that grossly high number, a mournful metric that is not only a national crisis but a national scandal.
For the men and women veterans who have served in Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, many suffer moral injury from violations to their deepest selves. Part of our role at Huts For Vets is to enable them talk with other veterans and realize they are not alone. Atonement comes from acceptance and forgiveness.
Our world needs healing. Such an understatement stands out by the acquittal last week of the sociopath who took America to the dark side. Those who voted for acquittal stand on the brink of nihilism, where nothing is sacred.
Such depths of national cynicism incite the hate-filled message of a death threat T-shirt: Rope Tree Journalistsome assembly required. Such gallows humor, if you will, is apparently amusing to psychopaths enabled by the sociopath who cheered on the mob to act out his willful insurrection Jan. 6.
Encouraging hate and violence should be repugnant to anyone with human decency. And remember, death threat targets can be changed by just filling in the blank.
Have we back-stepped so far into the Dark Ages that murderous intent can be so visibly displayed? Im feeling this acutely because Im a journalist. I am the target of a hate group that would incite lynchings. Their hatred has targeted me.
Until you are in the crosshairs, threats seem removed and impersonal. For many veterans, being in the crosshairs was an occupational risk from which they now seek reentry into a society that doesnt know how to value the risks they shared.
Society fails them and the rest of us by perpetuating a debased culture that glorifies violence as popular entertainment. Here lies stark evidence of moral failure in education, religion, family and commercial media.
A Hebrew phrase, Tikkun olam, offers a vital shift with a directive to heal the world, to become an agent of change. Each of us must bear responsibility, not only for our own moral, spiritual and material welfare, but also for the welfare of society.
A modern understanding of tikkun olam explains that we share a partnership with God and are instructed to take steps toward improving the state of the world by helping others. This brings more honor to Gods sovereignty by affirming human dignity.
Im not usually prone to religiosity, but something of the divine must intervene when nihilism threatens common decency and the sacred respect for life. Laws and policies have their place, but the moral heart in each of us must ultimately steer the course of society with spiritual guidance.
Tikkun olam is an aspiration to behave and act constructively and beneficially, to work charitably and altruistically. A higher, nobler purpose is necessary to dissipate the hate and animosity that leads to printing death-threat T-shirts.
Fixing the world must become a socially embraced goal, a way of life for each of us. It begins with attention to every interaction, every word spoken, every gesture made, every thought contemplated. It begins with awareness of how we can improve ourselves and improve the whole.
These are fine, high-sounding words that my fingers spill out rapid fire over the keyboard. Taking them seriously requires sitting back, pondering, assessing, taking honest accounts of ourselves and modeling positive behaviors and attitudes.
Tikkun olam means reinventing ourselves with constructive building blocks. Only then can our individual contributions aggregate into a whole that might truly fix the world.
Paul Andersens column appears on Mondays. He may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Scientific research paper on international surf travel reveals intrinsic nihilism of shredders: The greater the surfer’s ability, the less they value…
Posted: at 2:32 pm
Many twists, many turns.
As the WSL (somehow) soldiers on, its easy to lose track of of the absurdity of the last eight months.
July 17, 2020:
The WSL cancels the 2020 Tour, citing the health and safety of athletes and the challenges of international travel. While many lament the news, it seems rather prudent given the state of things.
Maybe a reset is just what the WSL needs.
In the same breath, the WSL introduces a new and improved Championship Tour. It boasts a revamped finals event (with a mystery location), new event locations, and kick-off events at Pipe and Maui.
The optimists among us muse about a finals event held at a tropical reef, but the realists remind us of a little cobblestone A-frame in Southern California.
November 10, 2020:
The WSL announces that the WSL Finals will be held at. . . Trestles.
Kolohe and Filipe rejoice.
The WSL also announces a myriad of new event locations for the 2021 Tour, axing Portugal and G-Land for Sunset and Santa Cruz.
The WSL never releases a formal statement regarding Portugal and G-Land. The November 10th press release simply reads postponed and TBD, respectively.
The first leg of the Tour kicks off, with the women at Honolulu Bay and the men at Pipe.
The morning before the womens finals, a man is attacked and killed by a shark, putting the event on hold. Elo introduces us all to some new corpospeak, calling it a shark incident.
The womens event is subsequently moved to Pipe, where the competitors opt for turns in lieu of tubes. Tyler Wright is crowned the winner of the Maui Pro at Pipeline.
Meanwhile, the men start the 2021 Tour at Pipe in pumping surf. Surf fans rejoice.
Then, the Billabong Pipe Masters is suddenly suspended as a result of positive COVID-19 tests within the WSL staff, including WSL CEO Erik Logan.
WSL viewers are largely left in the dark. Pipe continues to pump, unsullied by professional competition. Rumors abound about patient zero.
On December 15 the event resumes, albeit in smaller surf. John Florence banishes Gabriel Medina for the win and old man Slater takes a third place finish alongside Italo.
January 5, 2021:
Hawaii suspends all surfing competitions, forcing the WSL to cancel the Sunset Open and Jaws.
The WSL additionally announces the suspension of the Santa Cruz Pro, scheduled for February, citing the surge of cases in California.
Surf fans are left in the lurch. The next event isnt scheduled until April.
January 7, 2021:
A Pulitzer Prize worthy bit of investigative journalism (snub of the year!) reveals that the WSL has failed to acquire the necessary permitting for the Trestles Final Event.
A finals event in Californias Central Valley seems more and more likely.
January 31, 2021:
Rumors abound of a potential CT event at Lennox Head, adding an additional contest to the Australian leg.
February 2-3, 2021:
The Lennox community rebels against the WSL, threatening protest paddle outs, while the WSL claims community support.
It appears the WSL has largely acted in the dark, leaving many community members out of the loop.
Surf journalism takes yet another step towards the edge of the cliff, with the likes of Stab and The Inertia ignoring the fallout.
Said community quickly mobilizes, forcing the issue to a head. Ballina Councillors reject the event.
WSL General Manager for Australia Andrew Stark says, If you dont want us to come to your town, were not coming.
I mull staging a protest in Lemoore.
February 6, 2021:
The WSL quickly pivots, securing an event at Merewether.
The intention is to charter a plane for both Tours from Los Angeles to Sydney for a two-week quarantine in mid-March.
February 7, 2021:
Bells is cancelled, resulting in a reported $8 million loss for Torquay.
The WSL cites the governments failure to approve a plan for quarantining the athletes.
The Newcastle Cup is scheduled for April 1-11. Mayor claims $15 million boost for economy.
February 15, 2021:
The WSL releases yet another updated schedule.
The new Australian leg will include events at Newcastle, Narrabeen, Margaret River, and Rottnest.
Snapper is the latest casualty, along with Pat OConnell, who after only a year will be replaced by Jessi Miley-Dyer, the new Head of Competition.
Eight months. Six cancellations. Two Heads of Competition. Mass COVID infections. One shark incident.
Too many press releases.
Posted: at 2:32 pm
Its tough to sum up all of my feelings about Palm Springs. Not because of an exaggerated sentimentality or that its some enigmatic art piece that should be left up to audiences to decipher. Quite the opposite, actually. My memory is just terrible, and 2020 made it so much worse.
The last five years feel like a meandering journey to discovering what this story really wanted to be about. In hindsight, the movie was mostly an attempt to capture the feeling of being in love and making that terrifying leap of commitment. But its also the culmination of a creative friendship. Maybe a reaction to 2016. Maybe its a look at depression, the wedding industrial complex, or some journey through the subconscious. Or maybe it was just my long-winded attempt at getting dinosaurs into a movie because thats all Ive ever wanted to do since the summer of 93. Ill try to distill what I do remember into something coherent.
June 2015. Max Barbakow (director) and I headed out to Palm Springs for a creative retreat of sorts two buds playing make-believe in a therapeutic sandbox. The simple goal was to throw around ideas for a micro-budget indie that we could feasibly get off the ground. How one gets that off the ground, I had no clue. I was living with crippling debt, so the idea of finding a way to finance this nonexistent dream project was already outside the realm of possibility.
Our conversations didnt have much of a shape, either they were more like stews of love, fear, shame and armchair nihilism brought on by mai tais and existential angst. But we left the desert with the seed of an idea to see if itd be possible to take a character on a journey from caring about nothing to finding a reason to care. And that was pretty much it. This wasnt a time loop love story at a desert wedding yet. I didnt really know what it was.
So, of course, I carried that ignorant confidence forward and started writing, without a real plan or outline. Turns out thats a super inefficient way to write a screenplay.
There were countless false starts, abandoned drafts, a version thats one extended bender-montage. I wouldnt call the exploratory nature an act of rebellion, because that implies that someone cares about what youre doing; no one was keeping tabs on us. That lack of oversight freed us up to draw inspiration in everything from The Great Beauty to Dumb and Dumber to Saving Private Ryan to Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, because why not? And thanks to this inefficient approach, I eventually stumbled upon a magical cave.
October 2015. Max was filming my own Palm Springs wedding as I broke down into a blubbering mess during the vows. In the movie, Sarah (Cristin Milioti) tears apart the whole idea of weddings and marriage and I agree with her. At the same time, I also share some of Nyles point of view: Bask in the love. Maybe the pageantry is archaic and detrimental to the progress of humanity, yet here I bought right into it and I loved my wedding. Theyre strange affairs, where hundreds of people can come together for the purpose of connection and while Ive watched countless new relationships form at weddings, Ive seen just as many old relationships crumble to their death. They manage to bring out the best and worst in people. Its great!
Suddenly, Palm Springs wanted to be about a relationship at a wedding. What better way of torturing your main character, a guy who cares about nothing, than to trap him for all eternity in a place where people care perhaps too much about the trivial details that have no real significance in the grand scheme of things.
2016-17. The script evolved into this tale of two people who decide to give up on the disappointing real world, because floating on pizza rafts, eating burritos and drinking away their life is so much easier than actually doing something to change their miserable existence. But apathy can get tiresome, they meet in the middle on the spectrum of caring, and so on. Plot stuff, quantum physics, Irvine, etc.
January 2018. We knew itd be hard to find the right partners to get behind the movie. I failed at hitting that micro-budget mark with all the plane crashes, dinos, goats . And with a tone that intentionally shifted from silly to sincere, thats tough to pull off in execution. Luckily, we found the one guy who said: Lets do all of that and more! Maybe we should put a bomb in the wedding cake, too? Suddenly, with Andy Samberg, this nonexistent dream project found a way.
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