Our oligarchs are failing us, and so are their “conservative” cheerleaders

Photo by Travis Essinger on Unsplash

Mike Bloomberg’s campaign staffers are out of luck. Having been given a promise that the billionaire would keep them on the payroll through November, these suckers recently learned of their new status: unemployed and uninsured in the face of a pandemic. Apparently the cost of keeping his word was too high for the eighth richest man in the world, who was recently willing to spend $500 million on an abortive attempt to become President.

To ease the sting, Bloomberg’s former people were “invited to apply for jobs with the…

A Half-Serious Defense of Silly Actors

Photo by Ahmet Yalçınkaya on Unsplash

As I sat to write this, Ricky Gervais’ opening monologue from the 2020 Golden Globes was the #1 trending video on Youtube. And for good reason.

It was a virtuoso performance. Gervais told the lords and ladies of southern California to stop embarrassing themselves, and he did so with words raw enough to make a meme of Tom Hank’ face. His speech took aim at Woke Capitalism, the friends of Jeffery Epstein, and Hollywood’s fear of Ronan Farrow, before culminating in a very political plea for an apolitical evening:

So if you do win…

Thinking about the Fernando Torres Experience

Posted on Fernando Torres’ Twitter account: https://twitter.com/Torres

Spanish striker Fernando Torres played his final match last month, closing a career defined by the most perplexing combination of greatness and agony. El Niño won almost every trophy that matters with club and country and at his peak was one of the two or three best strikers in the world, maybe even the best. But the Torres Moment ended like a party from one’s high school years shut down by the police just as it was getting good. …

The Year of Kyrie Irving, Klutch Sports, and the Houston Rockets

“Kyrie Irving — Nike Basketball” by Hype Type Studio is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

A look into the crystal ball for the biggest stories of the upcoming season.

October ‘19:

  • The Brooklyn Nets begin the season 5–0. Kyrie Irving averages 29.2ppg and 8.8apg. Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman agree that he has finally started to grow up. “This is,” Smith says, “the Kyrie Irving everyone has been waiting for.” Irving credits his hot start to his new “ascent mindset.”
  • Keven Huerter scores 71 points against the Hornets. People start to realize that he’s good.

November ‘19:

  • After starting hot, the Nets lose…

Dissecting a Tiresome Anti-Brady Argument

Photo by Sandro Schuh on Unsplash

Critics of Tom Brady, who seem to grow more adamant with every Super Bowl the Patriots win, have a nifty go-to argument: they cite the Patriots’ 13–6 record without the Golden Boy. Specifically, the Patriots went 10–5 in 2008 after Brady tore his ACL on opening day, and 3–1 in 2016 when Brady was suspended for underinflated footballs. The logic fits a perfect hot-take syllogism.

Major premise: if a player is truly that great, a team will suffer in his absence.

Minor premise: the Patriots have done just fine without Brady.

Conclusion: Brady is not…

Crusaders, supervillains, and the struggle for the heart of Gotham/America

Last month, conservative commentators Ben Shapiro and Kyle Smith scorned the news that Todd Phillips’ upcoming Joker would feature “pointed commentary on Donald Trump.”

Apparently the movie re-considers heroism and villainy in Gotham City, depicting Bruce Wayne’s father, Thomas, not as a saintly philanthropist, but as a “cheesy and tanned businessman.” In case the connection was too subtle, Alec Baldwin — the award-winning Trump-impersonator — was originally cast as Thomas Wayne. Hence the groans.

Phillips’ Joker could make for a fascinating movie if it cares more about telling a story than scoring political points. …

Parker Hjelmberg revisits a particularly particular scene from the last season of GoT to argue why we should proceed with caution as April nears

(HBO / Photo Illustration by Nathan Graber-Lipperman)

As excitement mounts for the premiere of the 8th and final season of Game of Thrones on April 14th, I can’t get over something that happened very recently in Westeros. My eyes cannot unsee Theon Greyjoy getting kneed in the groin, nor the nonsense that followed. Though groin strikes are rarely worth talking about at length, this particular one seems to be the most disastrously ambitious groin strike in the history of television — and it tells the truth about what Game of Thrones has become.

A little context: after a disastrous defeat to Euron Greyjoy’s mysteriously unstoppable navy, Theon…

As the world’s top-earning female artist of 2018, how has Katy Perry’s star never been lower? Parker Hjelmberg writes on the rise and fall of the Princess of Pop

(1106 Katy Perry 25 by Devon Christopher Adams / CC BY-NC 2.0. Photo Illustration by Nathan Graber-Lipperman)

Editor’s Note: This piece reflects the opinions of the author and not those of UNPLUGG’D MAG as a whole. To read this story on our website, click here.

It doesn’t make me happy to write this — because she was fun once, and no one should take pleasure in another’s fall.

In 2010, she caught several bubblegum lightning bolts in the same bottle: five singles hit #1 off her career-defining album. “California Gurlz” earned the distinction of Undisputed Song of the Summer, “Teenage Dream” hit even more shamelessly delightful notes, “ET” pulled off a four-minute metaphor about a randy alien…

Who’s winning the contest for the future of the right?

The early days of 2019 have been most interesting for conservative geeks. On January 2, Tucker Carlson delivered the most substantial monologue ever broadcast during Fox News primetime —not a terribly high bar to clear — and the conservative corners of the internet have been buzzing ever since.

Distinct lines have been drawn at National Review, with J. D. Vance and Yuval Levin defending Carlson’s populism, and David French, Jim Geraghty, Kyle Smith, Ben Shapiro, and Kevin Williamson countering. The debate is about economics and human flourishing.

When Carlson savaged the pro-business and pro-market idolatries of the right, he…

It’s (probably) not his fault that he’s this obnoxious…right?

(YouTube / NBA. Photo Illustration by Nathan Graber-Lipperman)

Even though he makes occasional news with his play on the basketball court (his full time job), Kyrie Irving gets talked about more often for saying eccentric things (his side hustle). The conspiracy theories are among the most standard of the eccentric things he says — the world is flat, the moon landing was faked, the CIA tried to kill Bob Marley, etc. More unusual are the personal comments, which apparently flow from a “knowing energy” possessed by many in the Irving family. This knowing energy explains why Irving is “very much woke” and undistracted by distractions.

A little eccentricity…

Parker Hjelmberg

Interested in books, culture, sports, and good sentences. Twitter @parkerhjelmberg.

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