Jul 23, 2016

Yesterday Was Horrible for Progressives

While yesterday may have been a big day for the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton, for American progressives, it was marred by infuriating leaks and frustrating announcements.

The biggest news of the day: Clinton selected Virginia senator Tim Kaine as her running mate. A clean cut pick from a battleground state? Sure, but is he really the right pick for Clinton in a year that's going to be remembered for its populist fervor? Probably not. And progressives are reacting accordingly.

Kaine has already been receiving criticism from progressive groups like the PCCC over his support of the TPP. In fact, Kaine voted to fast track the trade deal that so many populists - including both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders - vehemently oppose.

Kaine is also under fire from progressives over his support for decreasing banking regulations. It's worth noting that the third biggest industry contributing to Kaine is the securities and investment industry. This won't help Clinton's image as the "Wall Street candidate."

But perhaps the worst thing about Kaine is that he is a giant slap in the face to Sanders supporters. Clinton had a chance to pick a running mate that would have appealed to a split party, acknowledging the vocal progressive wing that is reluctant to switch support from Sanders to Clinton. In selecting Kaine, Clinton seems to be simply turning her back on a potential schism in the party. Filmmaker and ardent Sanders supporter Michael Moore summed the situation up nicely in a tweet: "Show me 1 voter gained by naming Tim Kaine. Att'n Hillary campaign: It's not Trump who'll beat u. It's the people who are going to stay home."

But in the disaster that was yesterday, Tim Kaine was only half of the bad news for progressives.

Progressives on Twitter were fired up about a WikiLeaks dump that released 19,252 emails from the DNC. It seems as though the suspicions of Sanders supporters were confirmed: the DNC was deliberately working against the Sanders campaign.

The emails show not only an obvious bias towards Clinton during a time the DNC claimed to be neutral, but also an intense dislike of Sanders. Some of the leaked emails that were particularly fascinating to me included one in which the Sanders campaign was laughed at for wanting a debate ahead of the California primary, an email where DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz calls Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver an "ass," and my personal favorite, in which Wasserman Schultz calls the prospect of a Sanders presidency "silly." Perhaps the most objectively horrible email is the one where the DNC seems to be trying to use Sanders' faith against him. 

Between a disappointing running mate for Clinton and a leak that proved the DNC was working against Bernie Sanders, progressives truly had a horrible day yesterday. Maybe this isn't the best way to go into the convention....

Jul 22, 2016

Why Do You Do This to Me, Žižek?

My dream: to understand Žižek. I am fascinated by the guy, I love him. And there are moments in which I will be reading one of his books, and everything seems crystal clear, and it's beautiful!!! I understand!!! I can see through ideology!!


and then I'm hit with a sentence like this:

Marx described the mad, self-enhancing circulation of capital, whose solipsistic path of parthenogenesis reaches its apogee in today's meta-reflexive speculations on futures.

Please have mercy on the 99% of people that are idiots, Slavoj Žižek. I'm begging you.

Jul 15, 2016

Fun Facts

We live in an age where random facts are thrown around and labeled as fun. But what makes a fact fun? Where do we draw the line between fun facts, and facts that are just simply facts?

Think for moment of a fun fact that you can recall hearing recently. Maybe you’re thinking about how if you eat too many carrots, your skin will turn orange. Or maybe you’re a bit blown away by the fact that a duck’s quack does not echo. These are just two examples of the bits of information that we as a society deem as “fun facts.”

What is a fun fact? Society says that a fun fact is a bit of information that is simply fascinating or interesting to hear.

But today I am calling for that to change. Let’s stop saying that facts are fun when they are really pretty common. I believe that we should push for the definition of fun facts to change: let’s only consider a fact fun if it is fascinating and not widely known.

Let me be clear. In order for a fact to be fun, it must meet the following (pretty simple) criteria*:

1. It must be fascinating and interesting.
2. It must not be widely known.

I’m not saying that the consumption of carrots causing your skin to turn orange is boring, don’t get me wrong. To be honest, I think that this is actually a fascinating piece of information that I have many questions about. So it meets requirement #1 of the fun fact criteria. But it falls short of requirement #2, nearly everyone is aware of the fact that eating too many carrots will turn your skin orange (this knowledge of this fact is so widespread, it makes it a boring fact, if anything).

Let’s consider another so-called fun fact: the average car weighs 1.3 tons. Is this a widely known piece of information? Probably not. I don’t think that most people would be able to tell you that a car weighs 1.3 tons, it’s a pretty specific number. So this fact meets requirement #2. But is the fact that a car weighs 1.3 tons fascinating or interesting? Absolutely not. In fact, I could not think of a more mundane piece of information. This is certainly not a fun fact.

Now you’re probably thinking, what is a fun fact? There are plenty out there. People are just lazy. A quality fun fact requires effort to find. And in a world of social media where content is everything, people want to find the best content as soon as possible, and this is where the laziness come out. And with this laziness comes lame facts - facts that are fun in name only. Good fun facts require effort to find. Until we really get to work finding quality content for our blogs, timelines, and walls, we will be stuck with the same old facts.

Let’s remember the difference between facts and fun facts.

* I should note that there is some ongoing discussion about adding one more requirement for fun facts. Elizabeth Farris, my go-to expert on fun facts, is in favor of a requirement stating that fun facts must not be dark. In her opinion, fun facts cannot be about subjects that many would consider dark, such as war, famine, genocide, etc. Fun facts should be light and happy, fun, really. This is an interesting idea that should be considered when determining whether or not a fact is fun.

This post originally appeared on one of my older blogs, I thought it was more suitable for this one. This is the criteria I use when selecting fun facts for the weekly newsletter. And yes, that third requirement has become official.