We spent most of our weekend watching Queer Eye, which, if you haven’t heard, got rebooted with a new Fab Five on Netflix a year or so ago. If you need something to watch, I definitely recommend it. It’s relentlessly positive and uplifting. Also, it’ll make you want to take care of your skin, clean out your closets, and go shopping.

5 Things to Read Today

  1. Politico: 2020 Dems warm to expanding Supreme Court – This needs to happen. We need to take the SCotUS card out of the “politics wars” deck. And not just in the Supreme Court, either, but in all courts. Courts should always be as unbiased and non-partisan as possible.
  2. CNN: Kellyanne Conway’s husband is trying to tell the public Trump is mentally ill. She doesn’t agree – This thing with Kellyanne Conway and her husband has to be some kind of performance art or schtick or something, right?
  3. AP: Facebook says service hindered by lack of local news – Facebook destroys the news ecosystem, then complains that it can’t find enough news to put on its platform. 🙄
  4. NPR: New Zealand Prime Minister Promises Tighter Gun Laws – New Zealand has its first mass shooting in like 30 years and the next its all, “These guns gotta go.” Wish we could manage the same thing.
  5. Vox: The New Zealand shooter wrote a manifesto. An extremism expert explains what it means. – “It’s definitely clearly signaling that the author is a white supremacist, and anti-immigration and anti-Muslim. We can take that away and draw some insight from it. But when you get down to the particulars, there are a lot of statements in there mainly to try get news coverage, to get people to say dumb things on TV, or to repeat memes or jokes that white supremacists and white nationalists use online to get people to search for them and try to bring attention to that cause.”

I’m pretty sure that the first Terry Pratchett book I read was Jingo. It was… formative, to say the least. It’s a book about warring nations and crazy geniuses and police. It’s also a book about Justice and Politics and Cultures, in the extremely capitalized forms of those ideas.

That’s the thing about Terry Pratchett. He wrote funny little books that were sort of parodies and sort of satires, and they were about goofy characters stumbling into getting the job done at least half by accident, and they were set in a silly fantasy world, and it was all a good, amusing time.

But his books were also about great big Ideas, and uncovered little bits of Truth, and driven by stubborn old women and anti-heroes and cowards and sometimes outright con artists.

And I get that Terry Pratchett might not appeal to everyone. He was an old white British guy, and his books are written from a very old white British guy perspective, but there’s a lot in those books that are universal. Things about hope, justice, truth, and love. Things about accepting people for who they are, and understanding what people are and why they do the things they do. There’s things about democracy and freedom and equality, and power and duty and honor.

I loved his books, and I loved his characters. All of them, even the irritating ones like Rincewind.

Terry Pratchett passed away in 2015, and the world has been a poorer place for not having him in it. But at least we still have his books.

You can pick up any one of his books, written at any point in his career, and get started. You don’t have to read them in order, really, and you don’t have to read them all. Here’s a few of my favorites.

5 Discworld Novels You Should Definitely Read

We saw Captain Marvel this weekend and it was good. There, that’s it. Go see the movie, then spend the next couple of days eyeballing your cat.

Okay, okay. A little more in depth, then. But no spoilers.

It starts off slow. Like the first, eh, third of the movie is slow. There’s a couple of cool fight scenes, but otherwise it’s all exposition and plotwork, and it’s a bit dry. Most of the funny happens in the middle third. The final third is a whole lot of smash-’em-up fun.

Brie Larson did a great job as Carol Danvers. She was funny and tough and a lot of fun to watch.

There’s a good plot twist. Goose kind of steals every scene he’s in. Seeing a young Nick Fury, before he becomes the badass super-spy of the Iron Man and Avengers movies, is kind of a hoot.

The CGI used to de-age Sam Jackson is pretty damn good, but there are a couple of scenes where he’s running or fighting and you can totally see he still moves like a 70-year-old man, and that’s a little bit unintentionally hilarious.

The CGI used to de-age Clark Gregg is slightly less good – looks a bit plasticky in a couple of scenes.

The movie was full of references to 90’s nostalgia, including shot-for-shot remakes of a few 90’s films for some of the action bits, references and homages to other 90’s films, and a Stan Lee cameo that made Kevin Smith cry.

I’m pretty sure they used every decent 90’s song available in the soundtrack, and that came to about 7 songs. The 90’s were a musical desert.

Overall the movie was a good origin story, and left me more excited to see a sequel, now that we’ve got all the exposition out of the way. Also, I’m really looking forward to seeing Captain Marvel in Endgame.

5 Things to Read Today (Mostly with Spoilers)

If you only read one of these articles today, you need to make it this one: “This Is How We Radicalized The World.”

Yes, yes, I know, it’s “on BuzzFeed,” they just do stupid listicles.

Stop. It’s on BuzzFeed News. BuzzFeed’s news product is separate from the listicles and quizzes. It’s a legit news organization doing some extremely good reporting. And you need to read the article linked above, this one, right now.

Chances are, by now, your country has some, if not all, of the following. First off, you probably have some kind of local internet troll problem, like the MAGAsphere in the US, the Netto-uyoku in Japan, Fujitrolls in Peru, or AK-trolls in Turkey. Your trolls will probably have been radicalized online via some kind of community for young men like Gamergate, Jeuxvideo.com (“videogames.com”) in France, ForoCoches (“Cars Forum”) in Spain, Ilbe Storehouse in South Korea, 2chan in Japan, or banter Facebook pages in the UK.


BuzzFeed News, “This Is How We Radicalized The World”

Here’s the other four things you should read today.

Look, I know this shit is exhausting. The problems are piling up faster than we can deal with them. It seems like we’re never going to make a dent in this mess.

But eyes on the prize, people. We are making a dent. We are succeeding at this. We were never going to fix this quickly. It’s going to take years. But it can be done. It will be done.

“The arc of history is long,” etc. We’re going to win this. We just have to persevere.

Happy Friday! My dump file is full of links to stories. Here’s five good ones. Particularly number 5, from Wired. Scientists encoded a computer virus in a strand of DNA and the gene sequencer that read the DNA picked up the virus. That’s amazing.

  1. ProPublica: I’m a Journalist. Apparently, I’m Also One of America’s “Top Doctors.”
  2. SPLC: New hate map helps users explore landscape of hate
  3. The Verge: The secret lives of Facebook moderators in America
  4. Politico: ‘Sustained and ongoing’ disinformation assault targets Dem presidential candidates
  5. Wired: Biohackers Encoded Malware in a Strand of DNA

I think the biggest take-away from Micheal Cohen’s testimony yesterday is that most of Congress is not great at hearings and could do with hiring some experts to handle that stuff for them.

It’s notable that the best questioning sessions came from folks who were 1. Democrats, and 2. had a prosecution background. (With the exception of Ocasio-Cortez, that gal apparently just does her homework.)

These two points underline a problem with hearings like this. The first problem is that the opposition party is generally just at the hearing to score points or obfuscate the truth. The second problem is that congresspeople Mostly don’t know how to do this job.

It seems like you could go a long way towards solving both problems by having involved congresspeople represented by prosecutors and hearings rules that center discovering the truth.

  1. Politico: Michael Cohen’s most fiery accusations against Trump
  2. Vox: Why Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Michael Cohen questioning mattered
  3. Washington Post: 5 key takeaways from the Michael Cohen hearing
  4. Lawfare: The Cohen of Silence Breaks: What to Make of Wednesday’s Testimony
  5. TPM EdBlog: Looking at the Cohen Testimony Big Picture