Writing a book has been slow going for me for a variety of reasons, but none is more prominent than the lack of access to a university library at the moment.
You think – we think – Google Books has digitized a vast amount of written material. And certainly they have. I'm sure the stats on what they have done would be staggering. When you need access to books that are outside of the most obvious 1% of written work, though, it goes dry very quickly. Academic work, older mainstream press books, less successful nonfiction books, books published in non-US publishing houses…it all becomes nearly impossible to find without having access to someone who can hand you a hard copy of it.
It mirrors most of the other functions of the internet in the way that it does an incredible job of providing the most commonly sought-after stuff for 99% of the population very well. You know, if you want the current top 40 songs every streaming service will gladly be like, ok here they are, but with ads. If you're looking for some album from 1951 though, or the latest non-mainstream releases, you're going to walk away frustrated.
Don't give up on libraries and hard copies just yet, folks.
I have a new long-read in the print edition of Baffler #47 on the fundamental problems of left foreign policy. I think it is worth your time.
It is very easy for the left to point and laugh at mainstream liberal foreign policy, which often differs from the neocon position only on style points (we want to bomb Iraq too, but we want like, smarter and cooler people to do it!). What is proving harder is coming up with a viable alternative, because hooooooo boy is this Horseshoe Theory "Actually the white supremacists are right about this" nonsense peddled by people like Greenwald and Tulsi not it.
It's out there. It hasn't been discovered yet. But I am confident that someone out there can use their brainpower to come up with a foreign policy that reinforces leftist values without falling for the cartoonishly stupid premise that as soon as America stops being bad, the world will be a place of stability and harmony.
By popular demand on the Facebook group, I'm doing another run of the timely "None of this is OK" shirts. The front design is unchanged. The back is blank and there is small "Mass for Shut-ins" text on the right sleeve (to help me get the podcast out there). The sleeve text is a nice change of pace and looks a little more stylish than back text, I think.
DUE TO FEEDBACK FROM PREVIOUS BUYERS that the women's V-Necks were too small, I have a new brand for those. The Men's / Unisex / Crewneck shirts remain unchanged: Navy blue Canvas brand. Canvas sizing chart available here. Sizes S – XXL. Contact me if you need 3XL – sometimes they are available. Shoot me a message and I'll do my best. For Women's V-Neck in Indigo (very similar color to the navy blue Canvas) see the size chart below for the Next Level brand (click to enlarge). The best way to pick the right size is to measure a t-shirt you already have and like the way it fits. The Canvas / Men's are 100% cotton; the Next Level Women's V-neck are 60/40 blend.
This is a pre-order and you will receive your shirts in about 3-4 weeks, depending on how busy the printer is. $20.20 (slight upcharge for XXL) plus $5 s/h in the USA, $14 s/h for all other countries. I'm sorry about that, but package shipping overseas (incl. Canada) has gotten incredibly expensive lately.
Order via the PayPal buttons below; double-check that you are ordering the correct size and quantity you need, please! Do not use the first button (domestic) to order shirts being shipped outside the USA.
I have some slightly imperfect "None of this is OK" shirts – all men's/unisex in limited sizes. $10 with shipping included (USA shipping only please). These shirts are all fine, honestly, but because I'm a perfectionist I toss aside the ones where the logo is maybe a tiny bit crooked or the screenprint is a little spotty.
In any case, they're cheap and they still get the point across, and you probably won't even notice whatever is wrong with them.
I had a lot of fun with the latest full episode of Mass for Shut-ins. Amanda Kolson Hurley visits to talk about her new book Radical Suburbs, which looks at various attempts at creative urban planning in the suburbs. Unfortunately we don't like to learn anything as a nation so more often than not suburbs have either terrible planning or (more often) none at all. But some people are starting to come around. More people than ever are thinking about all that Gray Space, all those empty malls, all those parking lots, all those eight-lane roads nobody can walk across.
There's also one of my favorite tales about a very rich man who was very obsessed with eating and became extra-very obsessed with a particular sauce. What he did to get a taste of it is pretty amazing even by Gilded Age standards.
Hit the link to listen through your browser, or subscribe on iTunes/etc.
15+ years and I believe this is the first-ever use of lowercase letters in a post title. Groundbreaking! Thank you for sharing this important moment with me.
I have a minor hit up at The Baffler about the most irritating phrase chanted by right-wingers and what it means. I don't want to spoil things for you, but it doesn't mean anything.
Even if you don't read it, I can't exhort you in strong enough terms to click through just to see the graphic. I promise you will not be disappointed. Try it right now.
See? I wasn't lying.
I have a new podcast episode – a Minicast about a small group of Lotto Enthusiasts who tried to guarantee themselves a jackpot by buying every single ticket in a Virginia lottery in 1992. We've all wondered about that at some point. Can it be done? Only one way for you to find out. And I know you're curious.
I use this anecdote when introducing probability in my research methods courses. Don't panic, though. I removed all the math for your listening pleasure. Get the episode on iTunes or listen through your browser via Stitcher.
A new episode of Mass for Shut-ins is now available, featuring the very interesting Dr. Daniel Immerwahr talking about his new book, "How to Hide an Empire."
We talk about the many ways in which America has maintained (and still maintains) an empire through territorial occupation, a network of military bases fanned out across the globe, and domination of international standards. Tales of various Guano Islands Act (1856) possessions are told, and you don't want to miss them. Extended version of the interview available on Patreon.
Cocktail of the month: Suffering Bastard
Question Cathy returns with a special Patreon-only mailbag.
Please support Mass for Shut-ins, an independent and ad-free podcast, via Patreon.com/ginandtacos
Thanks: Dr. Immerwahr, all the bands that contribute music (Waxeater, IfIHadAHiFi, The Sump Pumps, Oscar Bait), Zachary Sielaff, Question Cathy, and all Patreon supporters, subscribers, and listeners.
Beneath the layers of apologia from the tech bros in charge of these companies, not to mention the hand-wringing over a red herring version of Free Speech, remember that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media platforms managed to get rid of ISIS and most Islamic extremist groups very easily. They can get rid of white supremacists and far-right content, too. They just don't want to. I'll let you decide whether it's because they're sympathetic or because it would cut into their revenue too deeply.
Deplatforming works. It forces these people into the dark underbelly of the internet where people have to actively seek them out. And people will. White supremacists will go find the other white supremacists even if they're banned from Facebook. The point is to prevent them from being able to spread their messages to people who aren't already white supremacists. Normal kids using Twitter or watching YouTube videos or whatever.
If it doesn't work, why are these sites so militant about keeping al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other terrorist groups off the sites? If we need a "free exchange of all viewpoints" then let them back on YouTube. If not, then admit that we're picking and choosing because we don't perceive white supremacy as terrorism.
This is the last of the None of This is OK shirts for Holiday Shopping 2018. The only remaining sizes are men's (S, M, 2XL) and women's v-neck (L, XL, 2XL).
Women's shirt buyers, check the Canvas sizing guide. Bella/Canvas women's shirts run on the small side. (see Jersey and Rib sizing here)
Shirts are in stock to ship immediately. $19 (slight upcharge for XXL) plus $4 s/h in the USA.