Weekend Things, Y18-W32/33

Had we but world enough and time

Running is overrated except for spring-tinged Fitzroy sunrises, which are okay I guess

The magnificent Aretha Franklin died this week. Wesley Morris’s New York Times article about her is very good, and obviously it’s an excellent time to listen to her full back catalog, and watch The Blues Brothers.

Due to a quirk of Australian democracy, a senator was elected despite receiving only 17 direct votes. The guy is a dead-eyed crank, exactly the kind of spectre that floats into my mind when I think of “people from north Queensland” (sorry, north Queenslanders, he’s actually from Gladstone so he’s not really yours). This senator, whose name I think I would prefer not to use, gave his maiden speech in Parliament a couple of weeks ago, and Tim Dunlop wrote a good thing about it for Meanjin:

So here is the third thing we need to get through our heads: racism exists in every society and what holds it in check is not political correctness but decency, a commitment to equality and a life in common.

It’s not just A***** blathering on about the Final Solution (which, omg) — the last several months has been jam-packed with increasingly blatant racist rhetoric, and I think it’s widely acknowledged that public standards for what’s tolerable and what’s not have shifted rapidly.

The new Spike Lee joint BlacKkKansman was good on the subject of fringe racism taking root, and in his New Yorker review Richard Brody makes a similar point to the one Dunlop makes about media here:

This was a result of failures both political and cultural: a lack of vigilance, and a dearth of black officials to maintain that vigilance; a contagious cynicism regarding the role and reliability of government; a dearth of black artists; a media environment that allowed hate-mongers access to mainstream communications.

I found BlacKkKlansman incredibly stressful throughout. It’s weird and patchy in the way that Spike Lee films can be, but he gets some great performances out of an uneven cast, and it’s so raw and urgent, which is so necessary now.

(Boots Riley has a critical take here; it’s incredibly frustrating that Sorry to Bother You isn’t going to get an Australian release.)

Over the weekend, we also saw Mission:Impossible – Fallout. It was fun and good and Tom Cruise’s face is strange and I love to watch him run. I really do. He tries so hard and is so inelegant by comparison with actual runners.

I played a lot of Holedown over the last couple of weeks. It’s a very elegant bouncing ball game, and you should get it (although it lost my saved place right as I was getting near the end and the spell was broken, which is probably a good thing).

I get unreasonably (?) irritated by the New York Times’s coverage of Australian issues. I’m grateful for them maintaining focus on our appalling treatment of asylum seekers, but not really at all interested in what some blow-in New Yorker thinks of food on Gertrude St or whatever, and especially not interested in Bari Weiss’s contributions to anything at all. (PS: the difference between the URL and title for this article is v amusing).

I am on Mastodon (@virginia@toot.cafe). I will write more things about Mastodon soon, I expect, but for now: it’s interesting, has some of the qualities of Early Twitter, and is probably still heavily skewed towards Supernerds — if you’re not pretty technically adept, it’s going to feel pretty baffling to begin with. But unless Jack bans the Nazis, Twitter will not be a viable platform to engage in for much longer, so I’m preparing for a future elsewhere.

This long essay in the Atlantic about the alternative theory of the end of the dinosaurs was a really good read — not just because I didn’t realise there was an alternative theory, but also because it shows what an important role personality plays in all this stuff.

Nigel Phair, who is some kind of ‘cyber expert’ from Canberra, gave a fantastically incompetent interview on Radio National, regarding a computer glitch that closed Coles stores for a bit on Sunday. Fran Kelly’s absolute disdain for him was glorious.

Seems a bit possible that we’ll have a new and even more evil Prime Minister by next Things. 🤔

Be careful; his bowtie is really a camera.

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