I have a new thing at The Nation about the need for the new Democratic House to do whatever they can to fix the 2020 Census. Trump and his Commerce Department appointees have done what they can to manipulate it, and the consequences of a botched Census will last well beyond a Trump presidency.
No idea whether this is even on the radar of anyone in the leadership, but it should be.
I've had a few pieces run in other outlets and end up traveling well. Most writing, here or anywhere else, tends to float around for a minute, gather the standard amount of traffic, and then disappear. There's just an ocean of Content out there and none of it has much staying power.
This piece for The Baffler is the first one that, like, really traveled well. It's disappointing in the sense that I often try to write serious stuff with useful history or social science in it and it goes fair to middling, and then I write a long, mean screed about something that's shitty and everyone loves it. It's a perverse system of rewards.
So do go ahead and check that rant out, but for balance check out something where I tried to make a more important point like this thing in The Nation from back when Roseanne's show was canceled.
Episode 9 of Mass for Shut-ins is live featuring the story of Harold Holt, the Australian Prime Minister who disappeared. Seriously, he vanished without a trace. How Australia is that?
My guest is Mike Bridavsky, human friend of the Internet Cat Sensation that is Lil BUB. We talk about the strange experience of viral internet fame, living your life one day and having literal millions of people clamoring to see your cat the next.
If you're new to (or abstain from) listening to podcasts, don't let that minor technological fear stop you from enjoying Mass for Shut-ins. Here's a short and simple guide.
Additionally, I have a new piece up at The Outline – my first for them. It's a millennial-oriented online magazine, maximized for mobile devices. The piece covers the myth that just won't die: that colleges and faculty are havens for hardcore leftist extremists. It doesn't take much thought to see how patently silly that caricature is…but it's more thought than right-wingers are willing or able to devote to the issue, apparently.
I've been doing a lot of writing on other platforms lately, and I will give you guys a real post here soon. You're owed it.
Many new things to take a peek at if you're looking to pass the time this weekend.
First, a new Mass for Shut-ins Minicast is available. I take a short look at why Donald Trump's suits look so bad. It's more interesting than it seems on the surface and goes beyond "Because he's a big garbage bag of shit."
Then check out this new piece for The Nation on one of the most remarkable stories of the year so far – a jury convicted a Chicago police officer of murder for the shooting death of an armed black 17 year old. That's so much different than the outcome of every other police shooting story in this country. I take a look at what made it happen.
If all of that seems too heavy, here's a preseason Deadspin piece on the NHL Triumverate that combined to win 8 Cups in the last 10 years. Pittsburgh still has gas, Chicago looks like it might be running out, and LA is just a mess.
Now back to work editing the next very special guest podcast segments…
I'm down to the stragglers of the None of This is OK t-shirts and I'm hoping to clear them out so if there is another run in the future, the inventory is reset to zero when it begins.
Less than 5 each are available of each men's size S-XXL, and women's V-neck is down to Women's L or XL (one of each!). Go ahead if you've been dilly-dallying and order now. Once these are gone, you're SOL.
I love the monthly "No, THIS is the best episode yet!" feeling of putting these podcasts together. Of course I am a little biased, but for Episode 008 I talk to a UNC graduate student and a political science professor at Mississippi State about Confederate monuments and Silent Sam in particular. Check the episode notes if you need a refresher on what Silent Sam is and why it has been all over the internet lately.
The story for this episode is also a fun one, something I've written about a few times on this website over the years: heists of art masterpieces, and what becomes of them after they're stolen. I only barely resisted the temptation to entitle that segment "Dude Where's My Vermeer."
Check it out and don't be afraid to 1) share it with your online pals and 2) leave a review on iTunes – the number of reviews positively affects Apple's algorithms that decide who and how many people will be exposed to the podcast in searches. It takes five seconds but helps me a lot.
So my vacation photos, notably this one, inspired queries about where one can get one's own Clurb sticker.
Well, the answer is right here, mailed to your home or whatever random address you choose for $4.50. They hold up pretty well on bumpers in addition to luggage, instrument cases, and the like.
A couple quick administrative notes: Episode 007 of Mass for Shut-ins will be posted overnight tonight (Thursday) so be sure to subscribe and get that bad boy hot and fresh when you wake up tomorrow.
Additionally, for the next 16 days I will be galavanting around the former Hapsburg empire, visiting six countries in southern / southeastern Europe including Slovenia and Hungary. I am 39 years old and I've never been to Europe. I am likely to be fully unemployed soon. If I don't do it now, when am I ever going to do it.
Originally my plan was to ride my bike across Europe like a college kid, but decided this plan was superior. But in the course of that, I had some moments where I felt mortality pretty keenly. Not that 39 in ancient and near death, but…let's face it, if I want to do something like that I need to do it soon because before long I won't be physically able to. There are probably some 55 year old guys out there riding bikes a couple thousand miles; I think they are the distinct minority, though.
I've never had to factor that into life decisions before, you know? I've never had to think, "What if I can't do this." I'm fully able bodied, but definitely feeling my age when I have to exert myself now. Lying around on one's ass type vacations are always an option. Things that are physically difficult have an expiration date on them.
That said, when I was in Peru I saw women who looked like they were about 200 years old climbing Machu Picchu. So. Maybe the clock runs for longer than I'm assuming.
If you don't follow me on Instagram, do so. Many wonderful pictures will be shared. I'll try to keep regular updates on the easier-to-post social media sites as well.
Two pieces landed simultaneously this morning, one about the absence of a GOP legislative agenda and the other about how Trump is affecting public opinion among Republicans.
In The Nation I point out that for the rest of 2018 – continuing the trend from the first half of the year – the GOP has no legislative agenda it is actually trying to pass. During unified control by one party of the Senate, House, and White House, this is unprecedented. It's tempting to chalk it all up to the Trump Scandal Vortex derailing normal politics, but it goes deeper than that. After decades of ranting about Activist Judges, the GOP now appears quite satisfied to sit back and allow the courts and the unelected parts of the Federal government enact their agenda for them.
Over at The Week, I have a little more political science-oriented piece about Republican public opinion on issues like tariffs and Russia where the Trump position diverges from the rest of the GOP. Spoiler alert: they're following the man, not the party.
I've been a busy beaver the last few days.
Two things to be aware of from late last week.
One is a piece at Dissent Magazine on the many forms of voter suppression and some ideas on how to combat them in the short term. It doesn't offer magic wand solutions, but I think you know not to expect that from me by now. However, until the proper long-term solutions can be enacted (e.g., electing people who don't intend to actively suppress the vote) we have to do what we can for now.
The second is a Mass for Shut-ins Minicast – the second one of these shorter ~5 minute podcasts with a self-contained topic – on the origin of the phrase "Mass for Shut-ins" which was originally a program broadcast on WGN-TV Chicago from 1962 to 1992. Listen to learn more, and subscribe so you don't miss episodes.