Be thankful for the privilege of downplaying other people fears Continue reading It’s Not Just Politics
A lot going on this week. Continue reading Around The Horn: Climate, Fake Moderates, Gay Office Managers
The imperfect satire of “Don’t Look Up” and a society that needs to be better at dealing with major crisis. Continue reading America Is: Not Quite Seeing The Threats
Things are bad enough in East Palestine without pollen and biofilm freakouts Continue reading The Post-Disaster Rumor Mill
The President and his transportation secretary, for humanitarian and political reasons, should pay a visit to the derailment site. Continue reading Biden Needs To Go To East Palestine
The East Palestine train derailment and how thinking bad policy is someone else’s problem often doesn’t work out well. Continue reading It’ll Never Happen To Me
Buffalo’s blizzard tragedy revealed old problems, new issues in communicating weather risk. Continue reading Forecasting Weather In A Changing Climate
Let’s keep the momentum going that was impossible to imagine a mere month ago. Continue reading The Biden Presidency Is Not Done Winning
There’s another wild fire in California that’s eating up tens of thousands of acres. The ten biggest wild fires in the state’s history have all occurred in the last ten years. Now just why is that I wonder? Continue reading Fire Up Above
Down the street from where I live there is a new roadside attraction that’s a tribute to the power of art, resilience, and love. Continue reading Another Roadside Attraction
It came from the land down under. Do you hear, do you hear the thunder? Follow the example of Labor and the Teals and Greens in Australia and Democrats will have Republicans running and taking cover. Continue reading Thunder From Down Under
If you are an American, the National Parks are part of your heritage. Explore them, enjoy them, make them part of your permanent memory file. And don’t let anyone tell you this land wasn’t meant for you and me. Continue reading A Postcard From Your National Parks
Adrastos on Trump’s windmill phobia and how Entergy New Orleans is for the birds. Continue reading The Windmills Of Trump’s Mind
We are nearing a million Americans who have lost their life to COVID. It’s one of the leading causes of death in the world, and the level of mortality caused by it is almost certainly undercounted. Despite this, there are still people like Possible Sociopath David Leonhardt who are trying to argue it’s all no big deal. To be fair, no idea if Leonhardt is a sociopath but some of his Tweets and writing are, well, coming off like he has minimal care for his fellow humans and just wants to be able to go to a restaurant without a … Continue reading What COVID Can Teach Us About Climate Change
Making a political satire in 2021 is one difficult task. How do you make a satirical movie about a reality that is so bizarre right now, if it was a movie plot in any other time period, critics would slam it as ridiculous and over-the-top?
That is the tall order director Adam McKay took on with the latest Movie Everyone Is Talking About, “Don’t Look Up.” McKay’s latest film is a continuation of his trend away from broad satires and toward more dark comedy/drama-type movies such as “The Big Short” and “Vice,” which may have led to his well-publicized breakup with his creative partner, Will Ferrell. So, has McKay succeeded in skewering how our society reacts to serious threats like COVID-19 and climate change?
I would say mostly, he has.
“Don’t Look Up” begins with our intrepid heroes, Dr. Randall Mindy, an astronomy professor played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and one of his graduate students, Kate Dibiasky, played by Jennifer Lawrence (smell the Oscar bait already), discovering a new comet, and then calculating its path. As you have probably heard by now, they find out the thing is heading right for us, and it’s really big.
What follows is a trip to the Oval Office, where they are met with apathy by obvious conservative President Janie Orlean (Meryl Streep, again, smell the Oscar bait), and her Chief of Staff, who is also her toadie son, Jason Orlean (Jonah Hill). Initial attempts to cover up the killer comet fail, which leads to Dr. Mindy and Dibiasky appearing on a breezy morning show to try to warm people, but the hosts (Cate Blanchett and Tyler Perry) are hyper-focused on “keeping it light.”
Dibiasky’s frustration boils over, turning her into a social media meme, and Mindy becomes seduced by fame and Blanchett’s Fox News-esque morning show host. Soon an oddball tech mogul, Peter Isherwell, played by Mark Rylance, becomes involved because of course he does.
Make no mistake, this is one angry movie, perhaps the most pissed movie I’ve seen in a while. There are multiple times where the movie itself seems to possess DiCaprio and Lawrence, when they launch into rants about people not taking an existential threat more seriously, often to great comic effect. There are also scenes in it that seemed to be designed to enrage Rachel Maddow, as various conspiracy theories pop up on the Internet about whether there is even a comet.
This is also a movie that probably couldn’t be made five years ago. There are moments in it, such as a presidential sex scandal, that would be considered absurd prior to Trump. Now they get a “sadly enough, I could see that” type reaction. There are very funny moments, some moments that are not clear whether they are intended to be funny, and moments of deep existential angst. The title itself comes from a conservative slogan championed by the Meryl Streep president, “Don’t Look Up,” which is basically telling the movie wingers to ignore the planet-destroying comet, everything will be fine.
But does it all work?
I will say that there are moments where it feels like the movie is ready to careen off the rails and collapse under its own anger. Streep is really not given much to do other than be a series of right-wing memes, and while she was her usual marvelous self, it feels like her character could have been more. There is an infidelity plot in the film that feels attached and is sort of clumsily handled.
However, I’d best describe the movie as an angry gymnast doing a crazy vault full of spins and twists and somersaults, all while rage-screaming. And then sticking the landing. I feel like the third act of “Don’t Look Up,” is a bit unusual in where often a movie falls apart in the third act, this film ends strong (won’t spoil a pretty wonderful ending except to tell you to stick around until midway through the credits). Also, Hill’s chief of staff/spoiled brat son is obviously an amalgamation of Trump’s spawn but still kind of fun, and, Rylance’s tech guru performance was outstanding. McKay was wise in creating Isherwell as his own sort of weirdo, and not as a Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Must clone. He’s still one of those tech moguls who are so strange that you can’t figure out why people take what they say as a form of gospel.
Blanchett and Perry are solid as representations of a rather heinous aspect of our society that I refer to as Toxic Positivity. The two happy-happy morning hosts drive our heroes insane by making jokes and focusing on “positive things” while they are trying to warn people of our Earth’s imminent demise. Toxic Positivity takes many forms, such as those concern trolls who hector civil rights activists for being “divisive” or shout down people warning of imminent dangers as “focusing on the negative,” and the movie works well here mocking those tendencies.
Maybe it’s a lack of sleep due to our one cat who had successful surgery yesterday keeping me awake all night with his meowing and rubbing his cone against my head, as if to torture me for making him wear it. Maybe it’s overwhelming workload at my day job. Maybe it’s the general level of anxiety that anyone who is paying attention at the moment feels. But my general skepticism that humanity, as it is today, can overcome our problems might be at its highest.
For starters, we’re merrily skipping onward toward the 800,000 American deaths mark, and this happened last night.
Also, there seem to be more people lately who are like Tristan here:
Vaccines aren't scary – people like you are. People who support the permanent radical empowerment of the state and transformation of our societies on the basis of a virus which would have barely caused the world to shrug in the more enlightened 20th century.
— tristan eldritch (@tristaneldritch) December 8, 2021
COVID is shrug-worthy and not a big deal. That’s one helluva take. No doubt, we will eventually see plenty of “while one million deaths is, of course, bad, COVID has proven to be not near as bad as the experts claimed” type posts by the Smartest Boys and Girls on Substack.
Ezra Klein has noted before that we as a society are very good at ignoring suffering. Klein used the example of the millions of deaths that occur globally each year related to pollution, and how we more or less just ignore it. This was something I heard him say in a podcast pre-COVID. I wonder if he ponders how COVID has made that concept even clearer.
Never forget that last year, a conservative talking point was “old and immune-compromised people dying is no big deal, they’d die anyway.” Or in May of this year, the worst thing was how those darn silly libs were addicted to the pandemic. Scared people are to be understood if they are conservatives. Mocked if they are liberals/progressives.
What does the death of others even mean anymore? I’ve said before, for a lot of people, the answer to the question “is it okay to murder someone” for almost everyone is “of course not” but for a lot of people, the honest answer is “it depends.” We saw that play out in social media reactions to the Rittenhouse trial.
Seriously, anyone who works in climate change mitigation, pay attention to what is happening right now. COVID is in that “sweet spot” where there are just enough deaths to worry some people, but enough for many to ignore or deny. I should probably call that the “bitter spot.” We will no doubt see that with climate change. Just enough deaths to alarm some, not enough to alarm the self-centered.
“I don’t give a shit if that west coast storm killed over 100, I live in Indiana, why should I have to buy an electric car?”
Just wait until the climate refugee crisis gets going in earnest.
Once again, conservatives have shown they are better at branding then liberals.
The Squad, the group of six progressive Congress people, Jamaal Bowman of New York, Cori Bush of Missouri, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, all voted against the Biden infrastructure bill because it didn’t include the climate change and social services upgrades that have been tossed over into another bill. Okay, it was a procedural move, made only because they knew the bill as amended would pass with or without their votes.
But I want to talk about the name they’ve given themselves. In particular because the eight Republicans (I’ll give them the real party name since they were good guys on this vote) who voted for the bill, Don Bacon of Nebraska, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Andrew Garbarino of New York, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, John Katko of New York, Tom Reed of New York, Christopher H. Smith of New Jersey and Fred Upton of Michigan, are calling themselves the Problem Solvers Caucus. Yes, I know there are moderate Democratic members of this caucus, making it somewhat bipartisan, but it’s the Republicans in the caucus that are getting the press while the Democrats are being seen as merely going along with their party’s president.
Let’s face facts. The Squad is what a bunch of urban hipsters would call themselves, a quasi super hero team name that implies something but I couldn’t tell you what. “Hey let’s get The Squad together and go out to that new Indian Mexican fusion spot over on Tenth Avenue”. The Problem Solvers Caucus tells you exactly what they are about. Are they really about problem solving? In the world of politics no title ever truly gives a clear picture as to what the group is about. Except CREEP, the Committee to Re-elect The President, the one that was intricately woven into the Watergate saga. Yeah they were a bunch of CREEPs.
It comes down to perception. The Squad voted against a bill that will give millions of people jobs. The Problem Solvers Caucus voted for giving all those people new jobs, i.e, they solved a problem. Now come later this month when the bill with all the climate change and social services stuff in it comes up for a vote and they vote against it their name might be mud, but for the moment (and in politics it’s all about the moment), it’s the Problem Solvers who solved a problem and the Squad who said we’re not even interested in getting some pork projects for our own home districts, but I’ll have a double whip, no foam half-caf Vente mocha to go. The only thing they gave their districts was the finger. At least that’s how it’s perceived.
And the Repugnicant Party will make sure all the campaign ads, even the ones for the 200 odd members of the House riding the magic Faux News bandwagon who voted against the bill, will tout how they are the party of the Problem Solvers. Those who oppose them, you know those Urban (nee Black), Greedy (nee Jewish), Intellectuals (nee anyone smarter than you), they don’t really have their constituents concerns at heart. It’s nothing but a dog whistle to this week’s flavor of the moment voting bloc, white women with no college education.
Good luck winning re-election or retaining the House running against that.
More after you clickety clickety clack the link below
The Twitter Machine blew up last night with news from Axios that House Boat Owning Senator Joe Manchin threw another bomb into the Biden Legacy: NEW: Sen. Manchin has told the White House the child tax credit must include a firm work requirement and family income cap in the $60k range, Axios has learned. These demands would dramatically weaken one of Biden's signature programs. https://t.co/ZL5PHUfpBY — Axios (@axios) October 17, 2021 Manchin is having a moment. He also dropped this: Manchin is specifically demanding to eliminate the single most effective climate policy in the bill. https://t.co/B2E9o4gGvI — David Roberts (@drvolts) … Continue reading How Much Is That Senator In The Window?
It’s been a bad week for oligarchs.
From the 48 hour birth, life, and death of the European Super League in soccer to the pullback of Russian troops from the border with Ukraine, the fat cats have been taking a bit of a pounding, most of it at the hands of the so called little guys.
If you still can’t quite understand the entire Super League fiasco don’t worry. I follow European soccer pretty closely and I am hard pressed to come up with a rational for the absurd circus the Dirty Dozen have put us through. The no longer failing New York Times has a good play by play of how this all came to be.
Suffice it to say, twelve of the fourteen richest teams in Europe decided they wanted to create their own league to play in, one that they would have total control of and which ultimately would have destroyed the delicate pyramid that feeds and nurtures the other hundreds of teams in dozens of national leagues. Fans, the people who actually pay to go to or watch games on TV, revolted. It was quickly established that even the most ardent of fans would abandon lifelong allegiance to one of the twelve in favor of continued allegiance to their national leagues. Television networks, the ones who would be paying the largest portion of the tab for the Super League, started muttering “what if they have a league and no one watches”.
And just like that, poof, it’s gone.
The birth and demise of the Super League is being laid squarely at the feet of the Glazer family, owners of Manchester United as well as being the guys who sign Tom Brady’s checks, Stan Kroenke owner of Arsenal, the LA Rams, the Denver Nuggets, and the Colorado Avalanche, and John Henry, owner of Liverpool FC as well as the Bahstin Red Sox. The line being put out is it’s all American hubris, coming in and thinking they can make this into the NFL. They’re taking the fall, but this whole plan stinks of Russian and Arab oligarchic slight of hand.
That’s how oligarchs work. They quietly pull all the strings so that if something goes wrong they can walk away with clean hands. That’s what’s happening in this case, Americans are taking the fall while the Russian oligarch owner of Chelsea FC and the Emirati prince owner of Manchester City get to say “I know nothing!“.
It’s Earth Day. President Biden is hosting a climate change summit today. That made me think of the environmental First Lady, Claudia Taylor Johnson, better known as Lady Bird. Bird is perhaps our most underrated First Lady, she did a … Continue reading Quote Of The Day: Lady Bird Johnson Edition