Universe-Hopping Through Substack
RandomTweet is a service that will show you exactly that - a randomly selected tweet from the whole history of Twitter. It describes itself as “a live demo that most people on twitter are not like you.”
I feel the same way about Substack. Everyone I know reads a sample of the same set of Substacks - mine, Matt Yglesias’, maybe Freddie de Boer’s or Stuart Ritchie’s. But then I use the Discover feature on the site itself and end up in a parallel universe.
Still, I’ve been here more than a year now. Feels like I should get to know the local area, maybe meet some of the neighbors.
This is me reviewing one Substack from every category. Usually it’s the top one in the category, but sometimes it will be another if the top one is subscriber-gated or a runner-up happens to catch my eye. Starting with:
Culture: House Inhabit
Ah, Culture. This is where you go to read about Shakespeare, post-modernism, arthouse films, and Chinese tapestries, right?
Saturday, just as I was finally logging off the internet after three tireless days spent tracking the Queen’s passing with sad and incessant scrolling, Ray J exploded on IG live, fuming about Kris Jenner’s latest PR stunt; a lie detector test conducted on The Late Late Show With James Corden, to prove she had no hand in leaking the infamous sex tape. The test, administered by a polygraph “expert” John Grogan, determined that Kris was in fact telling the truth.
Like the mad scientist who pulls the lever and notices that the sky seems to be purple and the plants yellow, I am already starting to get some worrying preliminary signs of parallel-universehood. I am not sure anyone I know spent “three tireless days tracking the Queen’s passing with sad and incessant scrolling”. I recognize the context enough to know this has something to do with Kardashians, but I’m missing parts - who is Ray J? Is he related to why this post is called “Saturday Night ‘Rayceipts’”? Why is Ray angry? The inhabitants of this universe presumably know all these things, although perhaps they are too busy mourning the Queen’s death to explain them.
Wait! No! There’s a bolded section called “For Those Who Missed It”! Perfect!
Ray J was vacationing with friends at a luxury mansion in the Dominican Republic when he spontaneously hoped on IG to respond with “faded rage” to Jenner’s talk show antics. Deciding, after a lot of weed washed down with some delicious-looking exotic cocktails, that enough is enough. That he is done being villainized by this family and the manipulated lies still surrounding this storyline that continues to feed new subplots, 20 years later, to frame him as the sleazy ex who betrayed Kim. While Kim is portrayed as the unsuspecting victim, who weathered the storm of scandal forced upon her.
…it is not perfect. Our mad scientist sees a traveler and asks his where he is, and the traveler starts speaking an incomprehensible dialect of Old Frisian.
After several weeks, the mad scientist has used shared understanding of mathematical constants to start to learn the universe’s language, and here is what he pieces together: There was a sex tape of Kim Kardashian. Most people think Kim’s ex Ray released it without her consent and she was a victim. But the people of this universe believe that Kim and someone else named Kris released it on purpose for PR reasons. The people of this parallel universe believe this story very strongly, the same way people in our universe have religions like Christianity or Islam.
Also, someone in this story (I can’t tell who) is black, and so the people on the opposite side as them might be racist.
It’s the performative yet relatively ephemeral space of social media, where a controversial photo can be quickly posted then deleted, that Ayanna Thompson argues has provided an environment especially ripe for the Kardashian-Jenner sisters—with their combined social media audience of 771 million followers—to experiment with racial performance by way of Blackfishing, which Ayanna Thompson sees as following in the racist tradition of Blackface minstrelsy.
Our mad scientist takes comfort in this. No matter how far he may travel, there will always be people who accuse other people of racism. It reminds him of home.
Still, we have only just begun our journey, so the mad scientist once again pulls the lever on his diabolical machine and ends up at:
Politics: Letter From An American
Once I asked someone from Substack why the site no longer has a “leaderboard” of most popular blogs. He said that the most popular blogs were political, and they wanted to showcase the non-politics parts of the site more.
Fair decision, but Politics remains the core of Substack. Here we have such famous names as Bari Weiss, Michael Moore, and Matt Taibbi. 2020 presidential candidate Marianne Williamson has a Substack, as does leading ivermectin advocate Dr. Pierre Kory.
Political Substacks tend to have names that suggest stability - “The Bulwark”, “North Star”, “Steady” - or reasonableness - “Common Sense”, “Civil Discourse”, “Lucid”. They all have taglines like “Just the news, the way it should be, without the craziness and partisan bias”. Their articles are all things like “WATCH how the FASCIST ultra-MAGA Republicans ABUSE women and CHILDREN because THE CRUELTY IS THE POINT!!!”
Atop this motley crew sits Heather Cox Richardson, one of the few Substackers to have a New York Times article about her - in fact, part of the even more select group of Substackers who got NYT articles about them consensually. The Times describes her as a mild-mannered history professor who rose to superstardom “by accident” after an essay she posted took off. Her day job is studying the Civil War, and part of her shtick is comparing modern Republicans to Civil War era slaveowners, something there is certainly not zero demand for.
Her posts are just titled with the date, every day. Here’s September 16, 2022:
The big story in the news over the past couple of days is that Florida governor Ron DeSantis chartered two planes to fly about 50 migrants, most of whom were from Venezuela, to Martha’s Vineyard, off the coast of Massachusetts.
The story is still developing. Although DeSantis is the governor of Florida, the migrants appear to have come from Texas, and it currently appears that they were lured onto the planes—paid for with taxpayer money—with the false promise of work and housing in New York City or Boston. In addition, there are allegations from a lawyer working with the migrants that officials from the Department of Homeland Security falsified information about the migrants to set them up for automatic deportation. As I write this, it is not clear what their actual status is: have they applied for asylum and been processed, or are they undocumented immigrants?
As Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo says, none of it adds up.
None of it, that is, except the politics. DeSantis apparently dispatched the migrants with a videographer to take images of them arriving, entirely unexpectedly, on the upscale island, presumably in an attempt to present the image that Democratic areas can’t handle immigrants (in fact, more than 12% of the island’s 17,000 full-time residents were born in foreign countries, and 22% of the residents are non-white). But the residents of the island greeted the migrants; found beds, food, and medical care; and worked with authorities to move them back to the mainland where there are support services and housing. In the meantime, there are questions about the legality of DeSantis chartering planes to move migrants from state to state.
And so on in this vein. It is a well-written post on a timely topic, and provides helpful context (“Do you know who else tried to detract from their evil politics by spreading lies to get people scared of immigrants and foreigners?” - though at least she answers Orban instead of the usual!) It is probably better than I could do, especially if I held myself to a post-a-day schedule. It just doesn’t quite answer my question of how she rose above some of the most famous journalists in the world to become the undisputed Queen of Substack.
Still, all of her posts are like this. A daily discussion of one timely issue, a lot of useful context and explanation, and a paragraph or two about why it proves that the Republicans are the party of hatred and bigotry.
I’m actually a bit charmed by this. I make fun of politics Substackers for not really living up to their “Just the news without craziness or bias” taglines. But Richardson gets two out of three, and she does them really well. And one or two paragraphs per article calling Republicans the party of bigotry is the necessary tax these days to avoid accusations of being a Republican sympathizer yourself. Maybe all of those people who said that what people really want is clear lucid explanations of important issues by experts with lots of context were just right all along?
(Also, it looks like Heather got married earlier this month! Congratulations!)
Our mad scientist wonders if he has perhaps found some hidden good in people, here in a distant corner of the multiverse. Then he pulls the lever again, to end up at:
Faith And Spirituality: Tipping Point Prophecy Update
TPPU's tagline is "In this inspired newsletter, Jimmy Evans and other experts explore Biblical prophecy, walking you through the many parallels between today's world and the End Times".
Inpsired newsletter? “Inspired” as in “divinely inspired”? I asked a friend who is more up-to-date on evangelical culture, and she tells me yes - some evangelical pastors claim divine inspiration for their sermons and other religious works. This is a divinely-inspired blog. In retrospect, I guess that isn’t so strange. If Jeremiah were alive today, he would be blogging. Heck, St. Paul’s letters are basically blog posts already. So fine, it’s a divinely-inspired blog.
I remember coming across TPPU last year, when its top article offered to teach me "how to discern the spirit of God from the Antichrist spirit". Unfortunately, here's the article:
I found myself imagining the scene after my death. I would arrive at the Pearly Gates, and God would say: “Depart from Me, for you did not serve Me, but followed false prophets and wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
And I would answer: “Look, I was going to read the blog post on how to distinguish between the the Spirit of God and the Antichrist spirit, but it required a $7/month subscription, and I just really don’t like paying for online content.”
God would ask me “But why didn’t you take the seven day free trial?”. I would answer “You know how those things work, they’re just banking on you forgetting to cancel after seven days and getting auto-charged forever.” God is merciful, I think He would understand.
But under the circumstances I finally signed up for the seven-day free trial. I have to admit being disappointed. The method for discerning God from the Antichrist is helpful (God wants your worship to be freely given, the Antichrist wants to compel it). But the rest of the blog just wasn’t as wacky as I was expecting. The most common type of article is the Tipping Point Quick Hits, which is oddly similar to Heather Cox Richardson’s Letters. It’s a few of the day’s biggest news stories, some well-written and useful context on each, and then a few paragraphs on why it means we are living in the End Times. For example, the September 1 Quick Hits talks about how a Federal Reserve official has expressed interest in digital currency, then tells us that:
When the Antichrist takes control over the world, he will do so by taking control of the world’s financial markets and the official ability of every individual, company and nation to conduct commerce. Central bank digital currencies make that possible.
In other news, the Secretary of Defense has raised the alarm about potential Russian or Chinese space weapons. So:
The space battlefield is no longer science fiction or something that only exists in Star Wars films. That’s why the Trump administration created the Space Force as an independent branch of the military in 2019. As Russia and China begin to weaponize space, the U.S. needs to invest in ways to deter this advancement.
I tend to think of end-times events or the Gog-Magog War to be a conventional land battle or series of missile strikes, because I believe these events are likely to happen sooner rather than later. But if not, pay attention to these advancements in Russia and China.
This is wacky in some sense, but it’s not the sort of no-holds-barred, pattern-recognition-turned-up-to-max attempt to link modern events to Biblical prophecies I was hoping for. The best I could find was this article on The Prophetic Significance Of Monkeypox, which noted that the Bible describes the Horsemen of the Apocalypse as “given [authority]…to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth”, and that “with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth” sort of maybe sounds like zoonotic diseases.
I feel like this is weak. If I were doing this, I’d point out that 1 Kings 10-11 describes the moral decline of King Solomon. His main offenses are overtaxing the people, taking too many heathen women into his harem, and overspending on luxuries - including monkeys from far-off Tarshish. God gets angry at all of this and curses him to have his kingdom fall in the next generation. Surely monkeys + sexual profligacy = curse, plus the impending fall of the kingdom, forms a better “monkeypox means the End Times” argument than the “zoonotic disease” drivel. Also, Solomon’s excessive taxes come out to exactly 666 talents of gold - coincidence? But also: the Hebrew letter qoph means “monkey” - both symbolically, in the sense that its glyph is supposed to represent a monkey with a tail, and literally, in the sense that the word “qoph” also means “monkey” in Hebrew. According to kabbalah, it is the letter of impurity and unholiness. Its gematria value is 100, representing the 100 people killed by plague every day due to David offending God. But qoph is also the first letter of the Hebrew word keitz, meaning the end of time! I really feel like you could make a much stronger case here!
Overall I find Tipping Point Prophecy Update a disappointment.
Business: Lenny’s Newsletter
I feel sort of bad advertising the top Substack in every category, even if it does make for a simple universe-hopping itinerary - it feels kind of rich-get-richer. Still, I feel like it makes sense for Business. Whoever clawed their way to the top of the Substack Business rankings clearly must know a thing or two about capitalism.
This is a person named Lenny, whose Substack conveniently has a Top Posts page pinned to the front. The first post on there is How The Biggest Consumer Apps Got Their First 1,000 Users. I will never make an app, yet this post fascinated me. I read it all the way to the end.
We did all kinds of pretty desperate things, honestly. I used to walk by the Apple store on the way home. I’d go in and change all the computers to say Pinterest. Then just kind of stand in the back and be like, “Wow, this Pinterest thing, it’s really blowing up.”
Evan was willing to try anything to get users. When he was home in Pacific Palisades, he would go to the shopping mall and hand out flyers advertising Snapchat. “I would walk up to people and say, ‘Hey would you like to send a disappearing picture?’ and they would say, ‘No,’” Evan later recalled.
— How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars, The Snapchat Story by Billy Gallagher
Whitney Wolfe and Justin Mateen would basically run around USC pitching Tinder to sororities and fraternities. The hook of seeing other single people on campus for the first time (and knowing if they’re interested in you) went viral.
Corey's plan was to infiltrate [DVD related online] communities. He wouldn't announce himself as a Netflix employee. Posing as a home theater enthusiast or cinephile, he would join the conversation in communities geared toward DVD fanatics and movie buffs, befriend the major players, and slowly, over time, alert the most respected commenters, moderators, and website owners about this great new site called Netflix. We were months from launch, but he was planting seeds that would pay off...big time.
— That Will Never Work by Marc Randolph (Netflix)
The event that marked the turning point [for the founders of AirBnB] was the 2008 Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Denver, Colorado. The pair saw an opportunity to capitalize on the quadruple over-attended event that caused a massive shortage in rental housing. Finding hosts to offer up rooms in their houses was actually the easy part. Getting people to rent those rooms proved more difficult.
The first counterintuitive strategy was to pitch only the bloggers with the smallest audience possible. […] As ridiculous as it sounds, the coverage by these bottom-feeder press was the social proof that more prominent publications needed to piggyback on the story. Eventually, national news networks, including NBC and CBS, were interviewing the founders of the unknown startup that was housing the biggest political convention in history.
The DNC bump was great for business, but it only lasted a week. The founders were desperate for a way to extend the impact of the event. While sitting around their kitchen table one day, still extremely broke, they came up with the idea that would bring Airbnb to profitability: cereal.
Both designers who graduated from the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, the pair created fictitious cereals called “Obama O's, the Cereal of Change,” and “Cap’n McCain's, a Maverick in Every Box.” They designed the box artwork themselves and convinced a student at UC Berkeley to print 500 units of each box on the cheap. The boxes were delivered as flat rectangles that had to be cut and assembled by hand.
“I was thinking at the time, that Mark Zuckerberg was never hot gluing anything at Facebook – so maybe this is not a good idea,” recalls Chesky.
The founders sent boxes to hundreds of the most well-known tech bloggers, hoping that they would proudly display them on their desks and that they, or their colleagues, would eventually write their story. Shortly thereafter, they started selling the political cereal at $40 per box. The Obama O's sold like hot cakes, so much so that they had to give out Cap’n McCain's for free with each purchase.
Then Lenny summarizes all of this and extracts lessons from it. Most of the other articles are locked, which makes sense - if I’d written this article, I wouldn’t want people trying to judge me on my other ones either.
I hadn’t realized this before, but I guess if you become the natural-monopoly-centralized-provider for blogging, have a completely free market, and rank everything carefully, the stuff that rises to the top of each section is going to be really surprisingly good!
Food And Drink: A Newsletter
The pinned post on this one is called “Twenty Twenty Stew”, and begins:
If you had told me that the most exciting thing to happen to us all in 2022 was a stew made of beans and cabbage, well, it’s only January 6th and I guess that tracks.
Now it is September and there have been many other posts on this blog but the stew is still stickied. After my conclusion to the last section, I am sort of awed and terrified by this stew. All the food blogs in the world, and this one is the most successful. All the recipes in the world, and they chose to make this one their standard-bearer. What is this stew? If I ate it, would I find God? Would I die? Would I become immortal? Blogger Alison Roman writes:
Please trust I would not debut a stew that I wouldn’t trust with my life.
For the first time in his explorations, our mad scientist knows fear. Well he remembers the bitter lesson learned by Odysseus’ men in the lands of the Lotophagi. Part of him knows that if he tries the stew, his voyage will end here, and no draw of adventures ahead or threat of terrors behind will be able to move him onward.
With a desperate act of willpower, he pulls the lever and ends up at:
Music: The Honest Broker
Like an obscure indie band, the Music section of Substack is hard to get into. Most blogs are either paywalled, just post music and videos without any text, or the diaries of famous musicians - which could be interesting, if they would ever say anything more personally revelatory than “I AM ON TOUR RIGHT NOW, YOU SHOULD COME TO MY CONCERT”. I was finally able to find The Honest Broker by Ted Gioia, at the cost of probably missing out on some really exotic parallel universes too weird for me to relate to. Honest Broker discusses the music industry and history of music.
One top post is The Buying Mania For Old Songs Has Come To A Sudden And Ugly End. Apparently some investors were raising a lot of money to buy classic old songs, maybe on the grounds that they could get lots of royalties when radio stations wanted to play them. This was controversial because people thought that music investors should be supporting new artists. Now the buy-old-songs business model seems to have proven not very good, and the investors are in financial trouble. Music fans are tempted to dance on their graves, although Ted warns that:
Unfortunately, the collapse of cash flow from the old music won’t help new music at all. It will merely lead to decline in investment in music of any sort. That doesn’t just hurt Hipgnosis, but also Sony, Universal Music, and the other companies that played a part in the recent mania for old tunes. The major labels should have been building the future of the music business, not trying to squeeze more cash from the past. We will now all pay a price for their failure of imagination—not just musicians, but also fans and the culture at large.
This is all very practical, so I was surprised to click on another post and find that Ted Gioia is about 1000x better at enigmatic mysticism than the people in the Faith & Spirituality section trying to interpret Biblical prophecy.
He offers a sneak peek at his upcoming book, Music To Raise The Dead: The Secret Origins Of Musicology. The introduction discusses the Derveni Papyrus, an ancient discussion of the Orphic hymns which Gioia says is the first known work of music criticism.
The Orphic hymns are linked to all sorts of magic and superstition, and Gioia ties this into everything from the codes of Celtic bards and the squares burning “sinful” rock and roll music to tell a story of a sort of secret mystical musical counterculture throughout the ages:
Let me emphasize, here at the outset of our journey, that this is a much bigger issue than just one man and his magical songs. A key argument of this book is that the shape of Western society even today is the result of a battle in worldviews that took place 2,500 years ago. On the one side, you had the proponents of logic, rationality, and philosophy, and they defeated their opponents who put their faith in songs.
It seems like an unfair battle. How can music ever be more powerful than logic? But Plato—and the other leading ancients who laid the groundwork for our rational and algorithmic society—feared music for a good reason. They saw the hypnotic effect of the epic and lyric singers on the masses. For centuries, people learned life skills from songs. They preserved history, culture, and the entire mythos with songs. They tapped into their own deepest emotions with songs. They celebrated every life milestone and ritual with songs. They reached out to the gods themselves with songs. Above all, they used this music to secure personal autonomy and what today we would call human rights. So we should not be surprised that Plato, Aristotle and the other originators of Western rationalism had to displace this dominant worldview of their ancestors—mythic, magical, musical—in order for them to create a more rigorous, disciplined, and analytical society. They won that battle, and we live with the consequences today in our algorithm-driven culture.
I have now read quite a bit of this book introduction, and I’m still not sure if he means it in a “this is a cool metaphor for how music is subversive and transformative” way, or a “the Bardic Conspiracy fought the Illuminati in a Lemurian temple buried below Dealy Plaza” sort of way. I actually admire the sort of criticality it takes to keep me precisely balanced between these two interpretations. I will be nodding along, listening to him talk about how music is good at evoking strong emotions, thinking he definitely means the metaphor thing, and then he will hit me with paragraphs like:
In fact, it’s surprising how often musical innovators are completely obliterated from the historical record. And if you pay attention you notice something eerie and unsettling: the more powerful the music, the more the innovators risk erasure. We are told that Buddy Bolden was the originator of jazz—but not a single recording survives (or perhaps was ever made). W.C. Handy is lauded as the “Father of the Blues,” but by his own admission he didn’t invent the music, but learned it from a mysterious African-American guitarist who performed at the train station in Tutwiler, Mississippi. In that instance, not only did no recordings survive, but we don’t even know the Tutwiler guitarist’s name…If you are a great visionary in music, your life is actually at danger (as we shall see below).
And now fast forward to 1956, when Sun Ra gave John Coltrane a Derveni-type document called “Solaristic Precepts”—which included a very similar coding system. And how did Coltrane react? Did he laugh at Sun Ra, the way others did? No, not at all. Coltrane studied “Solaristic Precepts” and distributed copies to other musicians. He also started taking on a more expansive approach to his own work—which eventually led him to adopt cosmic terminology as song titles and spiritual symbols. The transformation was so extreme that, shortly before his death, Coltrane even proclaimed that his new goal was to become a saint.
We shouldn’t be surprised by this—the old codes never went away. Eventually the bardic tales of Celtic culture entered the mainstream of Western society, but only because the singers had taken such care in giving them a veneer of Christian respectability. Yet behind the superficial orthodoxy of the resulting Arthurian romances—the most influential body of quest narratives in the history of Western culture—dark coded messages of musical origin still lurk, and are well worth studying. Like Sun Ra’s seemingly crazy pamphlet, these Arthurian narratives are surprisingly congruent with the Derveni papyrus—a document no bard could have read or knew existed (not even Sun Ra when he wrote “Solaristic Precepts”), if only because its uncovering in Derveni didn’t happen until 1962.
I am looking forward to reading the rest of this book when it comes out, if only to resolve my curiosity on which direction Gioia decides to take it. Good blog, 5/5, would read again.
The ALL CAPS and MULTIPLE EXCLAMATION POINTS in the title are not a mistake!! All of their articles are like this!!
It looks like they are a right-wing pro-Trump blog!! That’s kind of the opposite of “International” but whatever!! They’re still the most-subscribed-to blog in the International section!!
THUNDERDOME!! warns us that we are now engaged in a PERCEPTION WAR:
Those who believe they should control your perception of reality & the world you exist in are currently “streamlining” their mostly media based control methods to cut out pesky & problematic individually empowering MINDSETS like freewill, individual excellence & outcomes based on merit.
I believe individual human beings should live their own lives exercising their PERSONAL freewill & flow in word & deed with the Material World via Our Creator’s Natural Law as they honor their personal Nature. (DNA)
The PERCEPTION WAR takes the form of liberals doing bad things!! You may think that they are isolated bad things, but they are actually part of a plot!! The plot is to create a FEDERAL POLICE FORCE, after which they will institute a police state!! Legacy and Social Media, Corporations, and Liberal Senators “have been exposed as the literal Fourth Reich”!! In fact, this isn’t just a PERCEPTION WAR:
As I have said from the very beginning when I began doing livestreams on YouTube in 2018, this is a SOULWAR. That’s not hyperbole or drama.
A typical article is “THE TRUMP OFFENSIVE BEGINS!!” I kind of have trouble following it, but it looks like everything that has happened since at least 2015 has been Trump’s plan to redeem America!! Everything is going exactly according to plan, and by raiding Mar-a-Lago, Biden and the FBI have played right into Trump’s hands!! We know this is true because Trump has filed some lawsuits!!
Trump’s LAWFARE is growing more capable & POWERFUL as the Swamp’s usual lawfare tactics seem to be failing & floundering.
You don’t have to be a visionary to see where this is headed.
Say, John Durham himself seems to be an integral part of Trump’s response!!
If you think that Durham’s appointment “just happened” in December of 2020 you really haven’t been paying attention.
My brother Brian Cates is THE Go To Guy for all things (Open Sourced) on the Durham SCO’s investigation **that began in APRIL OF 2017**
Barr only made that investigation OFFICIAL to protect it prior to the ASTERISK President taking Office.
How hard is it to imagine Trump planning that far ahead (before he was even inaugurated) to see that someone CAPABLE with integrity was tasked to look into who spied on him & his family?
He’s watched the Swamp pretending to be one of them for DECADES.
Notice as their amoral perpetual Perception Machine we call the Legacy Media they’ve used for decades to sabotage or destroy any opponents that EFFECTIVELY oppose their desired political outcomes, is losing it’s power & even appears to be collapsing under the weight of it’s own hubris while Trump’s new phase of lawfare is building & growing IN DIRECT CORRELATION to THEIR diminishment.
And as I’ve often said, as the madness these Globalist Ghouls have deliberately fomented fades, their power & the authority their insidious bureaucracy has enjoyed over our lives will also fade in direct correlation.
AND I BELIEVE TRUMP WORKED THAT PLAN OF ACTION OUT IN 2015.
In my universe, Donald Trump kind of stumbled into the White House in 2016, lost in 2020, and has spent the past two years golfing and getting involved in embarrassing scandals. In this parallel universe, Trump has everything under control, and is coasting to some kind of messianic destruction of all evil:
As Donald Trump, the much maligned, but steadfast America’s Champion circles back to the White House we all know he won in 2020.
Setting our course back upon the heading he had steered us towards in 2019, a Golden Age of prosperity, stability…and SANITY.
A much suffered for, & earned reward.
For having won our #SoulWAR.
I guess this is the QAnon thing (though he has some kind of complicated objection to that terminology). And QAnon is among the most over-covered phenomena of our time, so much so that it’s hard to have a novel or interesting take on it. But I’ll try: I think the right genre for Trump is “outlaw prince” - like Robin Hood, or Song Jiang, or your better class of pirate captain. Realistically he’s just out to enrich himself. But he defeats and embarrasses so many people along the way that he becomes a legend, inextricably tied to the very idea that the establishment can be beaten. He develops a cult following, his relatively meager real accomplishments get exaggerated in song and legend, and everyone assumes that he was only stealing from the rich in order to give to the poor or something. He can’t be caught, he can’t be defeated; like Elvis, he won’t even be able to die. He has ascended to the realm of archetypes. I guess that is a kind of winning a #SoulWAR.
Sports: House Of Strauss
This blog is mostly locked, but I was able to find Adam Scheffer And The Problem Of On-Ness.
It’s a take on a profile of Adam Schefter, a sports reporter legendary for his ability to tweet news about trades before anyone else. According to his Wikipedia page, he was named “Best Newsbreaker of 2014” by a sports media site, and “Most Influential Tweeter In New York” by New York Magazine (both of these are apparently real things). He’s so good at what he does that ESPN pays him $9 million/year.
How does he do it? According to the profile, by having no work-life boundaries. Schefter apparently eats his meals quickly so he doesn’t miss breaking sports news, and was retweeting sports news during his son’s graduation. Strauss uses this as a starting point for talking about our always-on society.
It’s a good article. It hits all the points you’re supposed to hit. I still sort of wonder who the audience is. Are there people who haven’t read at least three articles talking about how We Live In An Always On Society? Are there people for whom this is news? I guess there must be. I probably read more news than most people. Any amount of saturating the infosphere with a topic which is sufficient to ensure that the average person has a 50-50 chance of having seen it, probably means I see it at least five times. Still, I could not have written this article. The whole time, I would feel slightly dissociated, like I was reciting lines in a play. Our Society Requires Us To Be Always On. We Talk So Often About The Positive Impact Of Technology, But We Should Also Question What Kind Of World It Is Creating For Us. Still, it’s a good article. Dozens of conductors have led performances of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, and those who do it well are rightly celebrated. Maybe there is a similar sort of honor in writing a good We Live In An Always On Society article.
The other part that struck me is that we’re blogging about profiles of sports reporters now. If Schefter had been an athlete, fine - navel-gazing about how athletes get their talent is exactly what I expect of sports journalism. But he is, in fact, a sports journalist, and we are, in fact, doing sports meta-journalism here. What if this becomes a trend? Will top sports journalists start appearing in commercials advertising office chairs? Will people watch ESPN hiring rounds with the same excitement as NFL draft picks? Will they make sports journalism fantasy leagues, drawing up artificial companies out of their favorite sports journalists and giving themselves points whenever that journalist’s articles get a lot of clicks?
Wait, no! I’m writing about Ethan Strauss! I’m doing sports meta-meta-journalism! We’ve gone too far! The mad scientist watches in horror as his experiments with time and space twist in on themselves. In a few seconds they will collapse into a black hole! Is this the end for our hero?
It is, at least, as many Substacks as I am willing to evaluate in a single sitting. Join us next time, as we hopefully move on to categories like Art, Crypto, Philosophy, and Fashion.