Go to content Go to navigation Go to search

Smothered.

Why on earth would anyone watch the nightly fascist divagations of Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson? —It’s not just the monotonously sour, pinch-faced homiletics of a Haw-Haw aspirant desperately trying to keep up with the Facebooked racism of his lessors, but also, apparently, every commercial break you’re gonna have to sit through a couple-three spots for those slipperily awful pillows, over and over and over and over again. Who does that to themselves?

Abaugurate.

“When I left there Wednesday, I was real happy and proud of our team,” said Kevin Grooms, who works in the Paint Shop. The white paint on the inaugural stands was completely finished, and they had made it through nearly three-quarters of the blue detail work. “We worked until probably twelve o’clock Wednesday. And the blue paint that was on the deck was actually still wet.”

“We came back on Thursday morning, and I mean, it was completely destroyed,” he said. “It was just totally demolished. The blue wet paint, they tracked it all over.”

There was also trash and debris covering the stands. “Besides the stands having a lot of debris on them, there was a lot of broken glass. And there was a significant amount of residue from the tear gas. It was very difficult cleaning up that area,” said Serock, who noted that the US Capitol Police provided important guidance on how to safely handle these items.

“It was a real mess, it was unbelievable. You just can’t imagine,” said Grooms. “We’re still in shock over it.” But his team worked through the weekend, “When I left there Sunday afternoon, that deck looked like it did Wednesday. Now, it’s pretty much down to touch-ups.”

via the staff of the Architect of the Capitol

Early yesterday morning, a knot of curious spectators stood on a corner of Connecticut Avenue, craning their necks over a procession of black SUVs and police cars to try to catch a glimpse of Biden. I asked one of the DC reporters standing there if she knew the best path through the cordon of checkpoints surrounding downtown. She glanced down at my unadorned neck and then said, in the manner that you would speak to the Official Rube Correspondent of the Hicksville Gazette, ​“Um, I think you need a credential to get down there.”

Because I try to avoid wearing press credentials out of both a philosophical belief that the experience of a journalist should mirror that of the general public and the fact that I often work at publications not considered fancy enough to be approved for press credentials, I was determined to navigate DC as any other citizen. It was true that you needed a credential to get anywhere close to the Capitol or even the National Mall, where you might be able to see or hear the actual ceremony. The series of scary-looking metal fences and concrete barriers that began all the way up at K Street, though, could be passed through, although the United States government did not seem to want anyone to be aware of that fact.

At every opening in the security fence, there stood a line of soldiers, with M‑16s, surrounded by a motley assortment of Secret Service and metro cops and FBI agents and Park Police. Concrete slabs were erected to funnel you down this imposing gauntlet of the security state. There was not a single sign saying, for example, ​“This Way to Inauguration,” or ​“Entrance Here,” or ​“Public Access,” or anything else. There was only the military checkpoint, the armed men in sunglasses, and the mostly empty streets. Even I, a basic white man, had to gather a fair amount of courage to approach the stone-faced soldier behind the nearest metal fence and ask if there was a way to get through.

“Oh yeah, you can walk right in here,” he said, gesturing to the terrifying prison-esque checkpoint. ​“These are open.”

Hamilton Nolan

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled

was convincing Democrats that “political capital” is a fungible, depletable resource.

A frozen peach of Serendip.

In searching for something more from William Empson on Edmund Spenser, I happened upon a listing for Radical Spenser, which, I mean, you know, okay, I’m in, but I didn’t want to give Bezos any more money, so I went poking about the Powell’s catalog, and as it turns out they don’t have it at all (recently cutting bonds with the river might maybe have something to do with it; that’s me, always with the edge cases), but: but. —There, between Cold Service Spenser [sic] and Jane Mayer’s Dark Money was, well, this striking bit of in-house marketing copy:

At Powell’s, a lot of our inventory is hand-selected, and hand-promoted. And a lot of our inventory is not. With several million titles available online at any given moment, complete hand-curation is not possible. Unmasked by Andy Ngo came to us through an automatic data feed via one of our long-term and respected publishers, Hachette Book Group. We list the majority of their catalogue automatically, as do many other independent and larger retailers. We have a similar arrangement with other publishers.

This book will not be on our store shelves, and we will not promote it. That said, it will remain in our online catalogue. We carry books that we find anywhere from simply distasteful or badly written, to execrable, as well as those that we treasure. We believe it is the work of bookselling to do so.

And this is how it works, in an interconnected age: when one orders books from let’s say Powell’s, one does not order a book Powell’s currently has on their shelves, or stacked on pallets in their warehouse; just-in-time inventory management allows Powell’s to take your order, pass it along to a distributor, receive from them a copy of the book you want, and pass it back to you, taking a slice along the way, and all so quick you’re usually none the wiser. (Trust me: I’d know if Powell’s actually had 20 copies of one of my books a-waitin’ in a warehouse.) —The downside, of course, is the very lack of those hands, selecting, promoting, curating, which also funnily enough is why YouTube’s such a cesspool, and Twitter a hellsite, and Facebook the destroyer of all we might hold dear. Such a common tragedy.

It should also be noted that said long-term and respected publisher, Hachette Book Group, one of what used to be the Big Five (not counting Bezos), launders its profits through various imprints, so that the money from the street doesn’t get its stink on their name—unless someone like Powell’s goes and gives up the game, most folks would just see that milkshake boy’s first book was published by Center Street, home to such other distinguished authors as Jeanine Pirro, Newt Gingrich, and Donald Trump, Jr. —Undoubtedly, much like those distinguished others, this doxxing grifter will likewise benefit from the conservative book club bulk buy two-step—so, hey, congratulations?

Still: you’d think such cut-outs would make it easier, not harder, for an incomplete hand to still curate its inventory by saying no, not those, not the ones with that label. There being so many, and so carefully calibrated and all. —Funny, that.

All Cops Are Bigoted/Bootlicking/Bastards.

Portland police have used force—in the form of rubber bullets, baton strikes, tear gas volleys, and other acts—more than 6,000 times against Portlanders protesting police violence and racism this year.

This information comes from two newly-updated reports from the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), documenting officer use of force data for the second and third quarters of 2020, a period spanning April 1 and September 30. On Friday, the Mercury shared data from the second quarter report, which found that, in the first 32 days of Portland’s protests—which began on May 29—PPB officers used force against protesters 2,378 times. The release of the third quarter’s data offers a more comprehensive look at the damage inflicted on Portlanders by police this year through what PPB calls “crowd control.” Combined, PPB used force at least 6,249 times against members of the public during 2020’s second and third quarters.

The PPB reports note that this number is likely an underestimation, as some officers did not record every time they used force on a protester.

In comparison, PPB used force against protesters 64 times in 2019, 205 times in 2018, and 162 times in 2017.

Alex Zielinski

I spoke with Jake Angeli, the QAnon guy who got inside the Senate chamber. He said police eventually gave up trying to stop him and other Trump supporters, and let them in. After a while, he said police politely asked him to leave and let him go without arrest.

Adrian Morrow

Jake Angeli.

Like tears in rain.

I miss restaurants, sure, of course, but there’s take-out, which salves at least the most immediate loss (to me, of course.) —You know what I really miss? Busses. I got so much reading done on the bus.

Trolley map of Portland, 1943.

—in the palaces of Kings, in the drawing-rooms and boudoirs of certain cities—

Even if these problems could be overcome, other barriers to integration would likely present themselves. Keystone transsexual activists are of generally of [sic] lower socio-economic status, and are probably reliant on their private dwellings for offline meeting. Additionally, while keystone radical deminists generally have homes with reception rooms, transsexual dwellings are probably much smaller (likely amounting to a studio flat or a single bedroom in shared accommodation) making the level of social familiarity required to be invited in unusually high. It is also possible that the private behaviour of transsexuals is so abnormal and morally depraved as to rule out accepting such an invitation [sic sic sic].

As such, no “inner sanctum” discussion has ever been observed, either online or offline. Likewise, no operative has succeeded in forming any form of friendship (let alone an intimate relationship) with a transsexual activist.

#TERFLEAKS from the DMs

This time she went ahead of him and opened a door she felt must be to the kitchen. Light fell on desolation. Worse, danger: she was looking at electric cables ripped out of the wall and dangling, raw-ended. The cooker was pulled out and lying on the floor. The broken windows had admitted rain water which lay in puddles everywhere. There was a dead bird on the floor. It stank. Alice began to cry. It was from pure rage. “The bastards,” she cursed. “The filthy stinking fascist bastards.”

They already knew that the Council, to prevent squatters, had sent in the workmen to make the place uninhabitable. “They didn’t even make those wires safe. They didn’t even…” Suddenly alive with energy, she whirled about opening doors. Two lavatories on this floor, the bowls filed with cement.

She cursed steadily, the tears streaming. “The filthy shitty swine, the shitty fucking fascist swine…” She was full of the energy of hate. Incredulous with it, for she had never been able to believe, in some corner of her, that anybody, particularly not a member of the working class, could obey an order to destroy a house. In that corner of her brain that was perpetually incredulous began the monologue that Jasper never heard for he would not have authorized it: But they are people, people did this. To stop other people from living. I don’t believe it. Who can they be? What can they be like? I’ve never met anyone who could. Why, it must be people like Len and Bob and Bill, friends. They did it. They came in and filled the lavatory bowls with cement and ripped out all the cables and blocked up the gas.

Doris Lessing

Infiltration into large affinity group meetings is relatively simple. However, infiltration into radical revolutionary “cells” is not. The very nature of the movement’s suspicion and operational security enhancements makes infiltration difficult and time consuming. Few agencies are able to commit to operations that require years of up-front work just getting into a “cell” especially given shrinking budgets and increased demands for attention to other issues. Infiltration is made more difficult by the communal nature of the lifestyle (under constant observation and scrutiny) and the extensive knowledge held by many anarchists, which require a considerable amount of study and time to acquire. Other strategies for infiltration have been explored, but so far have not been successful. Discussion of these theories in an open paper is not advisable.

Randy Borum & Chuck Tilby

Don dances in the wet street.

Grad School Vonnegut got to Timequake, and of course to Trout’s Credo:

You were ill,
but now you’re well again,
and there’s work to do.

But—and I’m not nearly fluent enough in British fashion or football hooliganism or recent trends in international capital to unpack everything that’s going on in this ad; still—

You are as you have been,
but the world will never be again—
and yet, there’s dancing to be done.

I’m reminded of something I wish I could find, that Geoff Ryman said about his novel, The Child Garden, but it was some time ago, and I can’t remember the words; still, the gist of it was that dystopias are usually limited because they presuppose a here-and-now: as cautionary tales, they’re presented as problems for their protagonists to solve, worlds to be saved, not lived in, and how exhausting is that? How much better would it not be to write to draw to film to record a story about just living in the world as whatever it is it might be?

I know, I know: saving is what misers do. But I don’t know.

If it doesn’t happen, what we’ll see is a variety of predictable partial responses: unevenly distributed technological innovation, and cultural forms of quietism and accommodation. If we can’t really do anything collectively, people will try to live with disaster, internalizing and riding it rather than trying to change it.

Failsons & November criminals.

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! It’s the thirty-fourth anniversary of my radicalization, which I can date with such alacritous precision due quite simply to the fact that it in turn is due to a comicstrip:

Doonesbury, Nov. 19, 1986.

It was more of a straw and a camel’s back than a short sharp apocalypse: and it’s not like there wasn’t then or isn’t even yet a long ways left to go (not too much later, I found myself at Oberlin, tut-tutting my fellow students’ embrace of John Brown, whom I, ’Bama boy that I am, took, at the time, to be a righteous but nonetheless terrorist)—but, but: I’d wet my feet in a Rubicon. We could’ve been making the world a better place. We chose not to.

A logic of abundance.

Thinking about how much of what was then recent history I learned back in the day not from lectures and classwork, from school, but from nipping off to the library to dig through Doonesbury collections, augmented by archives of Feiffer and Herblock and, well, yes, MacNelly, one must have balance, one supposes.

Thinking about that because of what Pat Blanchfield says in this snarkily “Bruckheimer shit” walkthrough of the latest instantiation of the (wildly popular) (wildly deranged) Call of Duty franchise

A quarter of a billion people, whatever, have played these games, um, and so many American men do, one of the few ways a lot of people ever learn anything even resembling, like, the existence of this history, like, for example, like, in the last game, we were in Angola, is through these games.

Sobering, and not just for the ideology the games are steeped in, Dolchstoßlegending this or that regrettably unpleasant incident from Yankee history into thrillingly deniable covert ops that left the world, our world, far better off than it otherwise could’ve been, and don’t you forget it—Russell Adler.not just the ideology, but also the technique: the hilariously toxic masculinity (when have you ever seen Robert Redford looking so ghoulishly rugged?), the conversational hooks and moral dilemmas drawn from grade-Z B-movie scripts (to say nothing of those meticulously recreated backlot backdrops), all the eye-snagging tics and dialects of body language drawn from deeply uncanny valleys, and touches like the robustly verbose commanding presence of President Dutch, who marches into an expository cutscene (after a prologuizing Gladio massacre) ahead of an anachronistic shaky cam—this isn’t the Reagan to be found in anything close to any actual history this world came up out of; this is a Reagan from a Saturday Night Live skit—

—(and also, yes, all the guns and the shooting and the extreme violence and all that stuff). —It’s, and I use the term advisedly, a cartoon: both in the sense that it’s deliberately, expressively, ruthlessly simplified, drawing power from its crudely broad strokes, and also in that it’s deliberately, ostensibly disposable: a work of paraliterature no one could ever take seriously, c’mon, a staggeringly elaborate, kayfabily po-faced act of kidding-on-the-square, a deniable covert op that leaves us thinking all unawares with precisely what it is we’ve been laughing at, for however long we’ve been twiddling our thumbs at the flatscreen.

Anyway. Down with all Commander Less-Than-Zeroes, wherever they might be found. Give me a November criminal any goddamn day.

When the operation of the machine becomes so odious.

“Everything that is happening to the men who knew Taylor is happening because prosecutors do not want to hold Taylor’s murderers accountable. This is what the system does when it does not want to secure a conviction. Prosecutors themselves try to poison the jury pool against their own case, creating avenues of doubt before any trial process gets going. They try to impugn the character of people who will have to be witnesses for the prosecution. They try to avoid doing forensic research so that they have no ‘hard’ evidence to present to the jury, should it come to that. And they try, desperately, to get anybody to speak out against the victim so the defense can use those statements against the prosecution at trial.” —Elie Mystal

Our Americans.

“The police officers stepped out of the room for just a brief moment, just outside the door. And I told the physician like, ‘Hey, I work here, I’m a nurse here.’ And that shifted everything.” —OHSU nurse and volunteer medic Tyler Cox.

Loudly with the quiet part.

Accordingly, I urge you to prioritize public safety and to request federal assistance to restore law and order in Portland. We are standing by to support Portland. At the same time, President Trump has made it abundantly clear that there will come a point when state and local officials fail to protect its citizens from violence, the federal government will have no choice but to protect our American citizens.

This, from illegally Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf, to Ted Wheeler, desperately unpopular mayor of a city that’s been on fire for decades, which is news to most of us who live here, letmetellyou. —That “our” American citizens is a nice fucking touch, isn’t it? Let America’s Sheriff, David Clarke, make it abundantly fucking clear:

The question is when is government going to do something? Inaction is not a plan. You know what happens with inaction? People take the law into their own hands. Government is leaving them no choice. No choice. I don’t advocate for some of the stuff that’s starting to happen, but I am certainly done—I am through with condemning it. I’m done with that.

I’m just telling people, “Hey, you’re on your own.” Think about it, have a plan. Act reasonably. You have to act reasonably. Then you’re going to have to articulate what you did afterwards. But you can’t have government officials and law enforcement executives telling people, “Do not take the law into your own hands.” Well, you’re forcing them to!

And—wait, I’m sorry, but the utterly gratuitous comma splice from our Acting Secretary is just grating my eyeballs, and Christ, you know me, I’m the king of comma splices, but those two independent clauses, “President Trump has made it abundantly clear,” yes yes, and “the federal government will have no choice,” I mean, for fuck’s sake, those two don’t even articulate coherently as one sentence after another in a paragraph, much less as clauses enjambed by a comma! At long last, you murderous franchisees, have you no decency?

MAGA Safari.

—Sorry. Where were we? —Ah, yes: the vicious fuckwad in the back of the pickup truck with the gun is one of “our” Americans, those of us he’s shooting at are by definition not, and he won’t even have to worry about articulating what he did afterwards, because the Portland Police Bureau did fuck-all to stop him, leaving him more than well enough on his own.

Hey. At least we’ve got Paris.

“Defunding the police, after mere *months* of mainstream discussion, polls much better than the total abortion ban that has been the endgame of decades of conservative politics.”

Ecophage.

Another way to look at their downward spiral is as a parable of a housing market that is not primarily intended, or even incentivized, to actually house people. “We don’t finance housing in this country,” says Ron Shiffman, a city planner and tenured professor at Pratt’s School of Architecture. Instead, housing serves as a “financing tool.” The market encourages buyers, whether Saudi princes or the owners of yoga studios, to treat homes like banks, as places to put their money, whether or not they actually live in them. It also motivates developers to build luxury properties with the highest returns, housing fewer residents. In New York, the pandemic brought the dangers of this system painfully to light, as mass economic devastation made many people, even landlords like Gendville and Brooks-Church, suddenly desperate for real-time shelter. “The housing market isn’t meeting the needs of people who are working, who are living, in New York,” Shiffman says. Brooklyn’s runaway success, it turns out, was built on an economic disparity so intense that it has created a microgeneration of gentrifiers like Brooks-Church and Gendville who are now being priced out themselves.

Bridget Read

All those generic slender needles you see piercing the New York skyline, more and more of them every time you used to fly in to Newark, or JFK, in the Before Times, gnomons sweeping shadows over more and more of the streets you used to walk, those towers, every single one of them, are not towers; no one lives in them, as you or I understand living. They’re safety deposit boxes, for offshore billionaires who’ve never thrown parties in those penthouses—or worse, unthinkingly assembled byproducts of the financial eructations of distant hedge funds. (At least billionaires can dream of bit parts in the next Furiously Fast Impossible Mission.) —Have you noticed? Watching the teevee? All the shows filmed in the City: how easily, and how often, now, they can film on location, in great buildings with spectacular views. Somebody’s got to do something with all those empty floors.

Or used to have to have done, at least. Before.

“Plants” with “leaves” no more efficient than today’s solar cells could out-compete real plants, crowding the biosphere with an inedible foliage. Tough omnivorous “bacteria” could out-compete real bacteria: They could spread like blowing pollen, replicate swiftly, and reduce the biosphere to dust in a matter of days. Dangerous replicators could easily be too tough, small, and rapidly spreading to stop—at least if we make no preparation. We have trouble enough controlling viruses and fruit flies.

Among the cognoscenti of nanotechnology, this threat has become known as the “gray goo problem.” Though masses of uncontrolled replicators need not be gray or gooey, the term “gray goo” emphasizes that replicators able to obliterate life might be less inspiring than a single species of crabgrass. They might be superior in an evolutionary sense, but this need not make them valuable.

The gray goo threat makes one thing perfectly clear: We cannot afford certain kinds of accidents with replicating assemblers.

Eric Drexler

La même chose.

“Portland is a place where rich ones run away to settle down and grow flowers and shrubbery to hide them from the massacres they’ve caused. Portland is the rose garden town where the red, brown, blackshirt cops ride up and down to show you their finest horses and saddles and gunmetal.” —Woody Guthrie

This machine.

Move fast; break things.

One is not unaware of a certain disgruntlement in certain quarters regarding a certain operation to which one has recently bound oneself; one looks at the one hand, one looks at the other, one manages a shrug of a bromide, life is compromise, I don’t know. It’s another of those situations where the structure is such that your choice or my choice can’t make a dent in the structure, but it’s all the structure will afford any one of us. They’re burning the postal service to the ground to steal an election—you maybe wanna buy a book? Could help pass the time until a general strike’s declared.

Grimly rarebit—

sadly and but lovely relevant. [via]

Farm team.

Aw, hey, Trump and Barr needn’t‘ve worried; Portland’s finest can bring it all on their own!

Portland police smash window, slash tires of woman’s Prius during protest dustup.