DRDB! 7: The Legend of "Ultimate Newcomer"

Insert clever copy to pique your interest here

It’s been a long week, so this edition is gonna be short. Hugs and kisses to you all. Take care of yourselves and have a nice breakfast. Maybe some nice fresh fruit. You deserve it.

  1. Forever Young: a group of Hungarian developers spent more than 20 years making a game for the Commodore 64 (Longreads)
    This article was first published in 2012. Since then, the game “Ultimate Newcomer” has not been released. The official website has not been updated since 2012, but an active Facebook page suggests it is still in development. 29 years! Possibly adding in 3D graphics? I don’t know!

  2. “hey twitter it’s FROG TIME” (Twitter)
    Don’t overthink it, it’s FROGS.

  3. Most Personality Quizzes Are Junk Science. Take One That Isn’t. (FiveThirtyEight)
    Or just hop right on over to PersonalityLab.org for the full slate of Big Five tests. My scores on the full Personality Lab Big 5 test: 31 extraversion, 81 agreeableness, 46 conscientious, 60 negative emotionality, and 83 open-mindedness. Sounds right.

  4. Here’s who the betting markets think will be the Democratic nominee in 2020 (PredictWise)
    As of this writing: 21% for Kamala Harris, 18% for Beto O’Rourke, 15% for Joe Biden, 6% for each of Elizabeth Warren/Bernie Sanders/Kirsten Gillibrand.

  5. I Was Pregnant and in Crisis. All the Doctors and Nurses Saw Was an Incompetent Black Woman (Time)
    Tressie McMillan Cottom: “What I remember most about the whole ordeal, groggy from trauma and pain and narcotics, is how nothing about who I was in any other context mattered to the assumptions of my incompetence. I spoke in the way one might expect of someone with a lot of formal education. I had health insurance. I was married. All of my status characteristics screamed ‘competent,’ but nothing could shut down what my blackness screams when I walk into the room.”

  6. Sasheer Zamata rewrites a bad Louis CK joke, makes it good (Vulture)

  7. Some greatest hits from twitter:

Brian Fung@b_fungThe shutdown is poised to screw with your phone’s GPS because there are no federal scientists to keep track of a North Pole that’s shifting at a rate of 30 MILES A YEAR. Here's @sarahkaplan48: https://t.co/hkDQSqa71g
Round Animals@round_boysThe sweetest duck https://t.co/b2anE9Ywis
Worthi 🐟🐙🌊🦑💙@WorthikidsMORPHEUS https://t.co/i30PVOXbzu

Do you like warm and luxurious synth music? Then you are in luck! Have a good long weekend and get some rest.

DRDB! 6: A Love Letter to Good Reporting

What is VICE, what is the Green New Deal, what is going on with the hospital named after Mark Zuckerberg

We need good reporting. We need good reporting of ourselves, our communities, and our big dumb planet. We need to honestly know what the fuck is going on. There’s room in our lives for conjecture and nonsense, fun and games, astrology, conspiracy theories, whatever an overpaid man is saying on CNN or in the NYT op-ed page, whatever qualifies as “humor” over in the New Yorker, etc etc. But those things don’t tether us to reality. Those are comfy cushions from real circumstances and meaningful information and context and history, you know, all the things that make good reporting good.

I was talking with a friend about anxiety this week (I am almost always talking about anxiety) and how it’s this normal thought process gone horribly awry. Anxiety is a brain spiral cut loose from reality, a self-propelling engine of fears and unknowns and what-ifs. Anxiety is pretty much every frightened and outraged Fox News show: light on facts, heavy on fears and poorly-considered ideas about the world. If you’re caught up in it, you can’t look away. It makes for great ratings and a terrible way to live.

Good reporting is a treatment for that anxiety. It reconnects us to the ground, gives us space to breathe, and helps us understand what we need to know, like a good therapist talking someone down from an anxiety attack. Even if the news isn’t good, it’s concrete, and that’s worth more than we may realize.

  1. A $20,243 bike crash: Zuckerberg hospital’s aggressive tactics leave patients with big bills (Vox)
    When medical bills become a vicious trap. How is San Francisco such a mess? Look at these people spending $3,000 on legal fees to fight a $30,000 medical bill. Look at the Millennium Tower sinking and tipping over. What is going on over there?

  2. The Green New Deal, Explained (Vox)
    Double hit of Vox this week because they are doing Good Work (not counting Ezra Klein). We need a Green New Deal yesterday. It’s nothing set in stone yet, but the scope and working principles are right. 2020 presidential litmus test?

  3. I Was A Cable Guy. I Saw The Worst Of America. (HuffPo)
    “A glimpse of the suburban grotesque, featuring Russian mobsters, Fox News rage addicts, a caged man in a sex dungeon, and Dick Cheney.” Lauren Hough wrote about her ten-year stint as a cable tech and it is the darkest of dark comedy. She is unquestionably an American hero. I hope her ankle is doing better.

  4. “Vice” vs. the Real Dick Cheney (The New Yorker)
    I saw “Vice” last week. I don’t think it’s a great movie but it’s still worth seeing. I’ll go to bat for Adam McKay any day of the week, he’s maybe the greatest comedy writer/producer/director of this era, but something misfired with this one. I think it was his attempt to recreate the infotainment success of “The Big Short.” That earlier movie was based on a deeply and intimately reported book, it had a clear narrative throughline and lots of wonky details to explain, all of which McKay could punch up into comedy. He nailed it. “Vice” doesn’t have the same meaty material to support the film, so it ended up feeling like a lightweight celebrities-playing-politicians cartoon. Sam Rockwell as W. though, nearly perfect.

  5. How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation (Buzzfeed News)
    Anne Helen Peterson’s essay on burnout is going to be a defining text for my generation. It’s about most people I know, how we were raised and how we’re scraping by. Well, to clarify, it’s about most American people I know. University systems and attitudes towards work are VERY different overseas.

  6. “Gay Future: A new podcast adaptation of a recently discovered, never released YA novel by Mike Pence.”
    Because this can’t all be serious and depressing. From Podmass: “It plays like a fever dream of all the Indiana politician’s worst nightmares, particularly that in the future, everyone in America is gay thanks to the efforts of the ‘Gay Agenda.’ Children are raised in orphanages before being sent off to Gay Academy, where they are sorted, Harry Potter–style, into one of two houses: Top or Bottom. But the narrative’s protagonist, Mikey (a thinly veiled Mary Sue), soon learns he might be the long prophesied straight hero who will restore straight order. The result is a playfully subversive piece of audio fiction that dexterously utilizes every genre trope from fantasy and dystopian sci-fi for maximum comic impact, filtered through the author Pence’s inability to conceive of gay life as anything beyond pastel pastiche.”

  7. On Being a Woman in America While Trying to Avoid Being Assaulted (The Paris Review)
    Author R. O. Kwon: “Lately, I’ve come to suspect that maybe a lot of people, especially men, still have no idea what it’s like to be a woman in America going about her life while trying, and at times failing, not to be assaulted. So, these past weeks, I’ve been observing myself.”

  8. Elizabeth Anderson thinks we’ve misunderstood the basis of a free and fair society. (The New Yorker)
    Anderson, the chair of Michigan’s department of philosophy, is about to become many people’s favorite philosopher. “The problem isn’t that talent and income are distributed in unequal parcels. The problem is that Jeff Bezos earns more than a hundred thousand dollars a minute, while Amazon warehouse employees, many talented and hardworking, have reportedly resorted to urinating in bottles in lieu of a bathroom break. That circumstance reflects some structure of hierarchical oppression. It is a rip in the democratic fabric, and it’s increasingly the norm.”

  9. Who Gets to Be Serious? (Jezebel)
    AOC (the hot new acronym for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) has drowned out some of the worst political news with some fun dancing videos. This is my favorite thing to come out of this flurry of press. It’s a simple question: who gets to be serious in Washington? As if only stodgy veterans and uncharismatic wonks can be serious. As if only people proposing incremental changes can be serious. See also:

Really excited for my big weekend plans: a full six seasons of Letterkenny are now up on Hulu. Have a good one, y’all. XOXO

DRDB! 5: Heroes and Villains, Artists and Caretakers

Quick, before we're all mired in our habits and routines again, do something new!

I’m on Team No New Year’s Resolutions. Like I need anything new or different to feel guilty about, some other way to experience failure. It’s just fucking hard to wake up any day and live a different life than the day before. Imagine trying to steer a speeding car by abruptly turning the road ninety degrees. That car will go flying into the woods, blood and wreckage everywhere. We do not turn on dimes.

This is a simple ode to gradual change. Here’s to 2019 and I hope you nudge yourself towards a brighter future, whatever that means.

Jason Molina’s Love and Work (The Believer)
If you haven’t heard the album Magnolia Electric Co. this is a GREAT reason to change that.

“A growing resource of emotional and practical guidance for creative people.” (The Creative Independent)
Big bonus points for this oddball web layout and pixel spiral logo. There’s a LOT to look through here, but just clicking through some of these I liked “a harm-reduction guide to using your phone less” and this Mary H. K. Choi interview: “I lead with mandible and grit and white knuckles in terms of that propulsive force that gets me through anything. But I’m learning that that does not work with novel writing or long-form writing. It’s such a big thing that you’re chipping away at.”

How New York’s Postwar Female Painters Battled for Recognition (The New Yorker)
Go ahead, try to buy a print/poster by a female abstract artist. Try MoMA. I burned a lot of time trying to find something featuring Joan Mitchell, until I found out her foundation puts poster PDFs online for free. “Trees I” now hangs at my desk.

“The Good Guy,” a new short story by Kristen Roupenian (Medium)
The author of the short story viral sensation “Cat Person” is back. It’s long, novella length really, and it’s worth the minutes.

So Long, Paul Ryan, You Useless Wonk (The Ringer)
“Substantially, there’s no real difference between Trumpism and conservatism as Paul Ryan practices it. There only ever seems to be a fundamental disagreement about temperament.”

Superheroes Drinking Coffee in Costume (Twitter/@levistahl)
Don’t try to figure out how Spiderman sips coffee upside-down, just go with it.

Christian Pulisic Bought by Chelsea for €64 million (Stars and Stripes FC)
For folks who don’t follow soccer, this is BY FAR the most ever paid for an American player in the transfer market. That player is currently the best and brightest American player on the national team, is on the roster of the league leaders in Germany, and will soon be playing for one of the biggest and richest clubs in the world. The 20-year-old from Hershey, PA has a chance to make it big in a way no American has before.

Happy Belated Public Domain Day! (Internet Art Book Fair)
For the first time in two decades new works have entered the public domain, and the IABF has an in-depth spreadsheet of them. Finally I can release my dubstep remix of Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments.

Fluff Society@FluffSociety"Stand up to bullies" https://t.co/KuD0iJdWRM

DRDB! 4: Fake but True, Real but a Load of Bull

If you’re still spending time with your family, performing that age-old holiday tradition of sitting in the same room while everyone looks at their phones, this newsletter goes out to you. Godspeed. Keep clicking and refreshing. One day you will be free.

  1. How Much of the Internet Is Fake? (NY Mag)
    ”Studies generally suggest that, year after year, less than 60 percent of web traffic is human; some years, according to some researchers, a healthy majority of it is bot. For a period of time in 2013, the Times reported this year, a full half of YouTube traffic was ‘bots masquerading as people,’ a portion so high that employees feared an inflection point after which YouTube’s systems for detecting fraudulent traffic would begin to regard bot traffic as real and human traffic as fake. They called this hypothetical event ‘the Inversion.’”

  2. The “Definitive” Guide to British Comedy TV Since Fawlty Towers (Vulture)
    Not included: Brass Eye, Look Around You. I’m also a big fan of Charlie Brooker’s proto-Black Mirror series How TV Ruined Your Life.

  3. There’s Nothing Virtuous About Finding Common Ground (Time)
    ”The middle is a point equidistant from two poles. That’s it. There is nothing inherently virtuous about being neither here nor there. Buried in this is a false equivalency of ideas, what you might call the ‘good people on both sides’ phenomenon. When we revisit our shameful past, ask yourself, Where was the middle? Rather than chattel slavery, perhaps we could agree on a nice program of indentured servitude? Instead of subjecting Japanese-American citizens to indefinite detention during WW II, what if we had agreed to give them actual sentences and perhaps provided a receipt for them to reclaim their things when they were released? What is halfway between moral and immoral?”

  4. “On Living” by Nazim Hekmet, 1902-1963 (Poets.org)

  5. New York’s Self-Induced Transportation Crisis (CityLab)
    There’s no rhyme or reason to New York City’s transportation policy, except to placate loud NIMBY minorities and hope half-assing some bike lanes and some buses is enough. If any of y’all live on the L train: move.

  6. Staten Island Amazon Workers Are Pushing for a Union (Bloomberg)
    And the HQ2 tax breaks might be leverage enough to make it happen. Fingers crossed.

  7. A Good, Barely-Heard Song from 2007: “Frozen Feet” by Tacks the Boy Disaster (YouTube, 4 min)

  8. Finally, a heartwarming story from a local Utah weekly:

XOXO stay warm out there.

DRDB! 3: Freaks in the Streets, in the Sheets, with the Beats

Don't Trust Nazi Magic, Do Trust Beastie Magic

It’s “best of” list season and what kind of hotshot media enterprise would this be without a “best of” list? I’ve done the research and it’s a fact that David Rees writes the actual best “best of” lists. I can’t hope to compete with his stellar work so all I’m going to do is write a little about music.

I loved The Royal They’s “Foreign Being” for improving on the Brooklyn band’s great debut album with their addictive alchemical mix of punk, grunge and rock. I loved The Internet’s “Hive Mind” for being cool and sexy and chill in a way that feels rare and refreshing. I loved Flasher’s “Constant Image” for doing the retro post-punk thing and having such catchy fun with it. I loved Hit Bargain’s “Potential Maximizer” for being good damn punk rock and for my favorite album art of 2018.

My favorite album of the year wasn’t fun or cool or like any of that stuff. Low’s “Double Negative” sometimes sounds like church music: spiritual, hopeful, full of sweeping choral harmonies and uplifting resonance. Other times it sounds like ambient noise or glitchy static or blood rushing through your head or a sound system destroying itself. It is, somehow, political. Plenty of bands responded to the Trump presidency this year but I don’t think any of them succeeded like this. Low created magic by drawing a direct, electrified line between personal depression and apocalyptic dread, between the local and the global. It’s an album about finding beauty amid darkness, about how hard it is to get through the day and how hard it is to see a better tomorrow. It also helps, which is a minor miracle in itself.

  1. Beastie Boys Live in Glasgow 1999 (YouTube, 46min)
    The Beastie Boys make life better, don’t overthink it.

  2. The Magical Thinking of the Far Right (The Ringer)
    ”Occultism gives its practitioners the feeling of having discovered a true, fixed, and unified cosmic order, which exists in secret beneath the false, unfixed, and disunified flux of everyday life. Occultism thus tends to thrive at moments of intense societal anxiety, when empires are falling, when cultures are changing in radical ways. The stories occult movements tell tend to relate directly to the external insecurities the occult movement exists to ameliorate.”

  3. Gross Giant Blood Clot Makes News, Is Gross (The Atlantic)
    From John: “In Lovecraftian stories, strange creatures come from deep space or from under the sea floor or in arcane, subterranean places. But maybe the most unspeakable horrors come from within our bodies.”

  4. Before Elon Musk and Other Showboating Celebrity Businessmen, There Was John DeLorean (The Outline)
    ”The cars don’t matter. They start out as an idea DeLorean can raise money behind and will become an asset he can trade on as the walls close in. That’s all they ever are, no matter what their present-day cargo cult might tell you. They’re not the future of anything. They’re standard parts in a beautiful shell. The man who puts his name on the cars is the future. A hungry ghost borrowing ever-more-boldly against ever-more-notional success. He understands that business in America is whatever you can get away with. He builds himself a gilded life and finds bigger and bigger suckers to pick up the tab.”

  5. Minnesota Moves to Eliminate Mandatory Parking Requirements (StreetsBlog)
    From John: “Minneapolis is undoing some of the worst parts of Midwest urbanism and shaping itself up as a city of the future in an area oft ignored.” This one’s for the NUMTOTs.

  6. Ben Schwartz Explains Sonic the Hedgehog to Larry King (Twitter, 1 minute video)
    Larry King: “Hedgehogs are interesting though, aren't they?”
    Ben Schwartz: “I can't WAIT to see where this goes”

  7. “Despite a sharp rise in emergency mental-health related visits, urgent care for non-suicidal patients doesn’t exist.” (The Outline)
    Our healthcare system is an ad hoc creation, something pieced together over decades by various entities: insurance companies, doctors, hospital administrators, politicians, and other groups with other agendas. I’d like to think that we would do better if given the chance to rebuild our healthcare system knowing what we know now. This is one way our system could improve, for the sake of millions.

  8. Take It Easy on Dads Making Dad Jokes, They Might Have a Neurological Condition (LitHub)
    Test me for a neurological disorder? I don’t mind. Whatever you think is best.

  9. How a Banana-Chicken Casserole Became a Beloved Swedish Comfort Food (The Takeout)
    Offer to cook a meal for your family. Tell them you’re making a classic Swedish recipe. Serve them a batch of Flying Jacob. Record video.

XOXO May you escape your jobs and families and other metaphorical kennels as heroically as this pup:

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