What's Good: Jul. 10, 2020

Da troops, rights, and John Mulaney.

Hello, good morning, happy Friday. We are fully into thunderstorm season, I think evidenced by the storm that kept me up past midnight last night. I do enjoy a good thunderstorm, but I also enjoy sleep. This week was mostly uneventful, but next week Halo 3 is released on PC - just under 13 years after it was originally released for Xbox 360. I am, to put it lightly, fucking stoked.

Not so well-meaning, actually

The work of anti-racism is going to take more than a summer jobs program:

In Minneapolis, the white liberals I represented as a Council member and mayor were very supportive of summer jobs programs that benefited young people of color. I also saw them fight every proposal to fundamentally change how we provide education to those same young people. They applauded restoring funding for the rental assistance hotline. They also signed petitions and brought lawsuits against sweeping reform to zoning laws that would promote housing affordability and integration.

Nowhere is this dynamic of preserving white comfort at the expense of others more visible than in policing. Whether we know it or not, white liberal people in blue cities implicitly ask police officers to politely stand guard in predominantly white parts of town (where the downside of bad policing is usually inconvenience) and to aggressively patrol the parts of town where people of color live — where the consequences of bad policing are fear, violent abuse, mass incarceration and, far too often, death.

If this description does not sound familiar to you, I don’t know, maybe you have not been paying attention. “Well-meaning” white liberals have - for generations - been the anchor point for policies that further disenfranchise people of color. This kind of liberalism is embodied by the people who would vote for Hillary Clinton but who refuse to say that black lives matter, the people who find themselves uttering that they “just want what’s best for them,” or even the people who say “well, I understand why they’re protesting, but property damage is crossing the line!” That kind of worldview values property over life and comfort over progress. It is not, in fact, well-meaning at all.

All troops are bastards

Personally if I were in the business of maybe doing war crimes I would not brag about banning people who mention that my employer has done a lot of war crimes, but I guess grunts don’t make that calculation:

The American military is getting big into esports. The U.S. Army has launched its own Twitch channel where members of its team stream Call of Duty: Warzone and interact with users on the site. The channel has videos going back two months, but things got spicy in the chat on Wednesday night when viewers started asking questions about U.S. war crimes.

The U.S. Army esports team’s Twitch channel maintains its own chat rules that go beyond Twitch’s terms of service and community guidelines. Those rules don’t specifically mention asking about war crimes. Regardless, the moderator in the U.S. Army's channel quickly banned anyone who brought up, say, the My Lai Massacre or the Kunduz hospital airstrike.

The game being played, Call of Duty: Warzone, is a tactical military shooter in which highly skilled players can use the chemical weapon white phosphorus (which the U.S. has admitted to using) against opponents as they outrun deadly gas on a modern battlefield.

And you know it’s one thing to get mad when people mention war crimes that the government has done, but another entirely to play a game where you repeat war crimes that the government has done and get mad at people who point it out. You are the government, here, you did the war crimes, you “win” this confrontation by admitting it and drawing the distinction between video games and real life and moving on. Of course that is not what the U.S. Army did:

During the stream, David characterized the viewers reminding others of documented U.S. atrocities as "internet keyboard monsters" and said, "I'm bigger than you."

“I think every post that I do from now on is going to say UwU in it just to flex,” David said on Twitch. “Ya’ll are gonna talk all that crap to my angels on the esports team, the nicest person in the entire world, you little internet keyboard monsters. No, I won’t stand for that. I’m bigger than you.”

Extremely normal behavior, here.

The U.S. Army eSports Team follows the guidelines and policies set by Twitch, and they did ban a user from their account," a representative of the U.S. Army esports team said in a statement. "Team members are very clear when talking with potential applicants that a game does not reflect a real Army experience. They discuss their career experiences in real terms with factual events. Team members ensure people understand what the Army offers through a realistic lens and not through the lens of a game meant for entertainment. This user's question was an attempt to shift the conversation to imply that Soldiers commit war crimes based on an optional weapon in a game, and we felt that violated Twitch's harassment policy.

They felt it violated Twitch’s harassment policy? How? It’s harassment to mention that war crimes happen and that soldiers representing the Army on Twitch playing a game repeating those war crimes is… disturbing? Come on. Who’s the fucking snowflake now?

Oh, and query whether these bans are first amendment violations. In the case about Trump’s twitter account, the Court held that “interactive space is susceptible to analysis under the Supreme Court’s forum doctrines, and is properly characterized as a designated public forum. The viewpoint-based exclusion of the individual plaintiffs from that designated public forum is proscribed by the First Amendment and cannot be justified by the President’s personal First Amendment interests.” If tweets and Twitter accounts are public forums, my guess is that an Army channel on Twitch probably also is, and I hope someone sues and that the Army loses. I would also love to see what comes out in discovery.

Hey, Florida, what the fuck

Come on, we have already done this so many times:

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday signed a bill that will require parental consent before minors can have abortions, a long-sought goal of abortion opponents in Florida.

DeSantis did not make a public statement about the bill signing, but Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, and other supporters praised the measure and said parents need to be involved when their underage daughters consider having abortions.

This is a bad bill that will put young women at risk. I don’t even want to get too much into why it is a fucking awful idea, you can google it. It has to be unconstitutional, it’s a stupid waste of time and money by Republicans, so much for “individual rights.”


There is a kind of social experiment you might think of as a What if? study. It would start with people who are similar in certain basic demographic ways and who are standing at the same significant fork in the road. Researchers could not assign participants to take one path or another—that would be wildly unethical. But let’s say that some more or less arbitrary rule in the world did the assigning for them. In such circumstances, researchers could follow the resulting two groups of people over time, sliding-doors style, to see how their lives panned out differently. It would be like speculative fiction, only true, and with statistical significance.

A remarkable piece of research called the Turnaway Study, which began in 2007, is essentially that sort of experiment. Over three years, a team of researchers, led by a demographer named Diana Greene Foster, at the University of California, San Francisco, recruited 1,132 women from the waiting rooms of thirty abortion clinics in twenty-one states. Some of the women would go on to have abortions, but others would be turned away, because they had missed the fetal gestational limit set by the clinic. Foster and her colleagues decided to compare the women in the two groups—those who received the abortion they sought and those who were compelled to carry their unwanted pregnancy to term—on a variety of measures over time, interviewing them twice a year for up to five years.

The women who were denied abortions were on average more likely to live below the poverty line than the women who managed to get them. (One of the main reasons that people seek abortions later in pregnancy is the need to raise money to pay for the procedure and for travel expenses.) But, in general, Foster writes, the two groups “were remarkably similar at the first interview. Their lives diverged thereafter in ways that were directly attributable to whether they received an abortion.”

I don’t know how you can take these two things together and not be horrified by the repeated efforts of Republicans to restrict access to abortion. You want fewer abortions? Fine, teach safe sex. You can’t have it both ways (despite your best efforts), and fuck you.

Hot hot hot

Seems bad:

A major global update based on data from more than 36,000 weather stations around the world confirms that, as the planet continues to warm, extreme weather events such as heatwaves and heavy rainfall are now more frequent, more intense, and longer.

I couldn’t tell whether it seemed like the weather was worse this year because I am at home all the time or whether the weather was actually worse this year. Whether weather whether weather whether weather. Anyway, turns out everything is hot and wet, my guess is it will get worse, good thing we have Republicans to bring snowballs to debates about climate change. Yes I am mad at Republicans this week, thank you for asking.

Tracked changes

The National Review has a racist history. So of course it’s trying to cover that up:

“As a rule of thumb,” Scully responds in the reportedly devastating review, “anyone so glib and presumptuous as to brush off as ‘ugliness and bigotry’ the enduring political and moral legacy of William F. Buckley Jr. has, for that reason alone, no business involving himself in Republican affairs.”

Scully might want to take a dive through the archives of his own magazine before offering such a definitive judgment. A review of that record shows there is no doubt which side of history Buckley placed himself on. Now, he stands athwart it with Trump, like it or not. Stevens, if anything, was being too polite.

IN 1957, as Congress was debating the first Civil Rights Act since Reconstruction, Buckley penned an op-ed that scrubbed away the euphemisms to get straight to the heart of the matter.

“Let us speak frankly,” Buckley wrote in the editorial, titled “Why The South Must Prevail.”

“The South does not want to deprive the Negro of a vote for the sake of depriving him of the vote,” he goes on. “In some parts of the South, the White community merely intends to prevail — that is all. It means to prevail on any issue on which there is corporate disagreement between Negro and White. The White community will take whatever measures are necessary to make certain that it has its way.”

Haha, oops, short memories.

Credit where due

You may have heard of Sleeping Giants, the organization that got people to contact advertisers for Tucker Carlson and Breitbart, which led to those advertisers pulling their funding. Cool stuff, right? Yes, but also it turns out there is an awful man involved, surprise:

Nearly four years after I began building Sleeping Giants, the campaign to make bigotry and sexism unprofitable, I’m leaving — but not because I want to.

I want to share with you my journey with Sleeping Giants, why taking credit matters and why you must fight for yourself as hard as you do for your cause. I want to show you how a woman of color almost disappeared from the movement she built, and what you can achieve when you refuse to follow the rules your white male “leader” sets for you.

Without my knowledge, my story was being defined by someone else — a white man who could use his platform to exclude me, diminish me, or disappear me entirely. He never once invited me to join him. I never had any idea he was doing any of these interviews until it was too late.

This guy is banished from the Order of the Matts. People - especially women of color - deserve credit for the good and important work that they do, and it doesn’t diminish you to share that credit with them. Here is some more on this story from Buzzfeed News.

Please stay home

I mean it:

I’m a restaurant critic. It’s my job to dine out. Yet even though the restaurant shutdown ended nearly a month ago on Long Island, where I’ve been living since March, I still haven’t ordered anything except takeout. In fact I haven’t sat down for dine-in service in over 122 days, with no plans to change course. Resurgent COVID-19 infections prompted Gov. Andrew Cuomo to announce today that he’s pushing back the onset of indoor dining in the city. That’s a good start, but if you care about the safety of your fellow humans amid a pandemic that has killed over half a million globally and sickened many more — myself included — you should consider a stronger measure. You might consider not drinking or dining out at all, not even outdoors.

You should instead stick to takeout. I make that suggestion with a heavy heart. After COVID-19 wrecked my body — I lost 10 pounds in a week — I spent the following three months dreaming about falling back into my old routines: sipping daiquiris at a local Hell’s Kitchen bar, or gorging on vaca frita while a live Latin jazz band plays on stage. It appeared for a while that New Yorkers were about to return to such everyday indulgences. But as states throughout the country loosened restrictions on their hospitality industries and larger economies, the virus came back hard, threatening the progress we’ve made in the five boroughs.

For a patron with a sudden craving, no plate of duck wings or fluke ceviche is worth getting catastrophically sick over, especially if one can order those dishes more safely via takeaway. For a staffer with little alternative but to work, no economic benefit outweighs the reality of getting infected with COVID-19, which can bring with it chronic health repercussions, devastating financial consequences, and death.

This is a good article. You can and should share it with people you know who insist on dining out.

Music, music everywhere

I am delighted to tell you that we will soon be blessed with more John Mulaney content:

Comedy Central has revealed to Vulture that the stand-up comedian (and former Comedy Central intern!) has made a deal with the network, in which he will headline and executive-produce two more Sack Lunch Bunch specials. One will be an “upcoming holiday-themed special that will reunite the cast from the original hit special.”

Yesssssssss. Here’s the original. If you’ve never seen it before, please watch the whole thing, but if you have seen it before, here is Mr. Music because you deserve to enjoy the wonder that is Mr. Music:

You deserve some good animal content

Have a good weekend.