1. Trump is playing whack-a-mole. He’s been doing it from the start. He wins because he expects you to think in traditional norms. So the playing field is uneven and always has been and then he just starts throwing stuff out there and challenges you to respond to each and every thing because someone is begging you to. But then you just get tired and want to take a long nap. And he gets his way again. This is how he conducts business and it’s how he won the election. So what I’m saying is you have to pick your battles with him and that means ingesting a lot of really crap stuff.
2. More Trump. It’s hard to believe he’s not even President yet. How much are we going to have to talk about him come January? But this past week’s Tweetstorm was perfect Whack-a-Mole strategy. You settle a fraud case for $25 million (!), then tell your VP to go to the theatre very publicly, and then go on a twitter rant about how he was treated so that no one talks about the settlement, or the fact you’re still conducting business as the head of Trump International while you’re the president-in-waiting (Trump is a walking conflict of interest), or the fact that your incoming cabinet is a kind of retrograde thinking’s greatest hits. Where do you start? Is the US even capable of figuring all this out? The media isn’t. Because the media doesn’t matter (I’m about to contradict myself in my next point but who cares, it’s the Age of Trump) anymore. Probably. Macedonian teens are as powerful as the NY Times. Maybe Trump was right and the country is broken. And his election is the proof. Trump is his own tautology. (And this is the truest comment from Kellyanne Conway ever – we shouldn’t care about Trump’s tweets. They are a distraction. He’s playing Whack-a-Mole. Look away. Trump may be the least important member of his own government. He’s a symbol. Look elsewhere.)
3. Moose fight. This is my favorite out of context quote ever. OK, not ever. Of the past week maybe.
The quote comes from this story, which is something I found because I subscribe to Dave Pell’s indispensible Next Draft, a kind of smart curation of the internet that comes to my inbox every day. I highly recommend it. (My two main news aggregators are Next Draft and Quartz. Though I should also say this: subscribe to your favorite news site. Buy newspapers and magazines. Support websites. Pay them. Journalism is hard work and requires funds to function. There is no free news. You know what free news gets you? Absolutely nothing. And worse. Read my next point.)
4. I’m tired of talking about “fake news” and “real news” and when are we going to start talking about how facts became partisan? This is a chicken-egg thing and I don’t know where it started. But the bigger item here is how easy it has become to disseminate anything. The democratization of information means you, too, can believe that the earth is flat, find a tribe of the like-minded quickly, and become a potent political force. The internet empowered us, sure, but it has also created bubbles (what is an algorithm but data that keeps you inside your bubble?) and killed facts. Let’s be clear: There are no facts now. We live in post-fact world. There is simply what you want to believe. The internet has brought a lot of people together and done good things. Agreed. But it is also driving us apart, allowing us to live in parallel worlds. More, it is an incubator of cognitive dissonance. And as the world gets larger and larger, and the internet gets more and more intimate, our collective retreat from the world will only lead to a greater divergence of fact. Or to put it this way: fact and opinion will converge. They already have. Perhaps they always have. I don’t know. Perhaps it’s how we make sense of a world with billions of people.
5. There are global people, internationalists, ready to jet off to Hong Kong or work in Vienna, and then there’s everyone else. Neither side really gets the other. Being global and local at once is becoming harder and harder.
6. The pundits get everything wrong and then we continue to listen to the stuff they say. We deserve everything that happens to us.
7. The North Pole. This is really not good news, people. Or it might not be good news. Depends on your news source, I suppose. Though I believe this is existential and a far bigger threat than anything else. Even the Pentagon thinks so. Though the folk who just won the White House aren’t quite on the same page.
8. Leonard Cohen lived in LA. But his hometown can be found in his every word, lyric, stanza, thought, note, everything he ever wrote. The outpouring of emotion here – never mind around the world – was and continues to be quite touching. Here’s a photo from his home in Montreal, taken a few days after his death:
This story in the New Yorker, published after the release of Cohen’s final album, is thorough and lovely.
9. I’ve written about 2016 already here and important people die every year but 2016 just seems like it needs to go away. And quickly. Six weeks left.
10. I’ve decided to only purchase black, white, and grey clothes from now on. Or a combination thereof. That doesn’t mean I’m going to wear black, white and grey clothes exclusively, at least not yet. But I won’t be replacing anything I currently own with something similar (I own a lot of blue things). I put the “absolutely” in “absolutely useless.” Or perhaps it is my own way of confronting the oncoming approach of 50. Which is something that will happen before the end of 2016.