Things I’m Verbing: Central Asian dictators, elegiac hillbillies and the nature of reality (or something)

This morning’s hideous Cabinet news: Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, a man literally too racist for the 1980s. It seems obvious that, like during the election, Trump is working to numb his enemies with a fire-hose of soul-crushing and shocking news, every one bit of which should be immediately disqualifying. President Obama is trying to keep his chin up, but this week we’ve seen Japanese internment cited as a positive precedent for Muslim registries, requests for security clearance for Trump’s children and their spouses, literal fake news straight from the horse’s mouth, accusations that protests are paid and thus should be punished and suppressed, media outlets tamping down their descriptions of racists and bigots taking top roles in the new administration…

What I’m saying is you should all be following Central Asian dictatorship expert and St. Louisan Sarah Kendzior on Twitter, although she’s going to scare the shit out of you every single day.

One tip from that last link is taking a moment to clarify for yourself what’s most important to you politically and personally. I still have no idea, in my inmost lizard-brain heart, why Trump’s campaign rhetoric wasn’t a deal-breaker for so many voters. You can talk to me about economic anxiety and feeling ignored and beaten down and disparaged until you’re blue in the face, but minorities and people of color in this country, not to mention Native people (who have the most right to rage of all, frankly), have been treated far worse by society and the government and still didn’t buy in. If you have links to an argument otherwise that truly convinces you, I’d love to see it — please share in the comments if you can.

Things I’m Verbing: Still Verbing: The Verbening

Hello, friends! Are we still talking about Trump? Are we still talking about the Olympics? Or Twitter’s terrible double standard on abuse and “copyright infringement”? Good grief, let’s do some other stuff.

  • You want to listen to something really magical? On the Media got in touch with The Daily Caller editor Scott Greer and asked him to justify the outlet’s frankly horrible journalistic standards in its coverage of the Khan family. (Yes, sorry, this is a little bit about Trump. He gets everywhere, yeesh.) Greer’s indignant meltdown over defending the indefensible is gold. By which I mean it’s staggeringly disingenuous, and not so much a dog whistle as a bullhorn.
  • The idea that antisemitism is not just a right-wing phenomenon is starting to pick up steam. You may have read Jewish anti-occupation activist Yotam Marom’s “Toward the Next Jewish Rebellion: Facing Anti-Semitism and Assimilation in the Movement,” which is worth your time no matter what your politics. I’d also encourage clicking through most of the threads in Navah Wolfe’s Twitter conversation about the pain of silence as a coping mechanism, as well as this post on the hypocrisy of Olympic athletes’ hostility toward the Israeli team. This blogger is a Bengali Jew, and has insisted before that people across the board take a hard look at their own countries’ history when criticizing another.
  • Rural America confronts a new class divide,” about subsistence farms versus megafarms, and “The Original Underclass,” a comparison between two books about whiteness in rural America, make for an interesting look at poverty, class and politics going back hundreds of years that continue today.
  • Catapult is a new outlet to me, but Jessica Miller’s wonderful “Hair in War,” an examination of World War II through women’s hairstyles (not nearly as frivolous as you might think), recommends it highly.
  • Related to that, I can’t stop thinking about Atlas Obscura’s article “The Perfectly Preserved World War I Trench.”

Up top: And now for something completely different. I’m not entirely sure why this nicely adorned jalopy lives on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, but I’m glad it does.

Things I’m Verbing: Alexander, David and Barack

It took four or five tries, but I finally made it to The Big Short this past weekend. It’s Adam McKay’s film about the housing crisis that led to the financial collapse of 2008. I remember that fall vividly: I had been working as a temp at the American Medical Association all year, and I’d interviewed for my job to become permanent, which I was so excited about. Then, out of nowhere, the money dried up and they couldn’t afford to take me on. The Big Short was a lot more impressionistic and fragmented than I was expecting, but it worked — I laughed, I cried, I think I understand “dogshit bonds” now.

I couldn’t get in because it kept selling out. The line for my theater was around the corner of the lobby when I came out. Amazing.