What the government shutdown means for your cats

Your cats, of course, are only dimly aware of what is going on in Washington. They probably have only the slightest opinions on the matter. When they woke up, the sun was still shining in that perfect little cat sized spot by the window. Even if they remain ignorant, here is what they can expect going forward:

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All nonessential cats will not be paid. All essential cats will also not be paid either obviously because cats don’t have jobs. The one exception is the cats from the Meowmix commercials, they will still be paid because those little guys are a national treasure.

What this means is that for the duration of the government shutdown, nonessential cats will not be allowed to work. Some cats want to work even without pay but they will not be allowed. They will not receive backpay. Nonessential cats are out of luck because of a small minority of Republican Representatives.

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No cats allowed in National Parks, Zoos, or Museums. These have traditionally held a strict “no cats allowed” policy that will be continued to be enforced while they are shuttered. The Pandacam will not be active so if you stream it for your cat while you are at work so he or she doesn’t poop on the floor out of boredom you will need to find a new activity for your cat.

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Cat food will not be monitored by the FDA nor will kitten treats. The FDA is furloughing its workers so cat food is not expected to be monitored by a quality control worker. Expect your cats to show just how they feel about this development by throwing up on your rug. No not that rug, the more expensive one that stains really easily. Food will have to be cooked for your cats just to be sure it doesn’t have any harmful bacteria in it (remember, there is literally no one checking to make sure there isn’t before it gets shipped), so for those of you who already have cats that play you like a fiddle and emotionally manipulate you into doing things that are annoying, time consuming and wasteful get ready for a whole new level of neuroticism.

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The already weakened economy will weaken more so. Your dollars are already stretched pretty thin and the odds of you getting that raise are just a little bit slimmer now. But see if your cat notices? See if your cat puts a paw on your shoulder and says “It’s okay, buddy. Maybe we can cut down to the cheaper cat litter. I definitely won’t freak out and pee all around the house until you fork over the good stuff. What gave you that idea?”

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Cats won’t get approved for disability money, nor will cats who served overseas. Cats with itchy chins will be left itchy and without money because the office that approves disability funding including for soldiers will be empty. Some cats will be able to get by by relying on family to scratch their chins and behind their ears for them but the ones who don’t have family or whose family are also on disability and unable to perform chin scratches will be left to itch. This is because a minority of Republican Representatives felt it was worth it if it meant not having to pay a little bit more so that 26 million people could get health insurance.

I don’t think anyone could object to the fact that the Republican party just singlehandedly shut down the United States government. It sounds like a statement with an agenda. It sounds like something a liberal would say, but alas, it just objectively happened. A small group of Republicans in the House of Representatives threw a literal tantrum and literally shut down the government because they couldn’t have their way.

Their “way” was to kill Obamacare. They took a normal job requirement of their elected positions (i.e. funding the government and keeping this whole grand experiment running) and decided to use that as a hostage in their Quixotic quest to prevent giving healthcare to people they don’t think deserve it. It’s almost poetic how they took their “invisible hand of the market” and extended it even to the issue of whether or not a person should be able to see a doctor if he or she is injured or sick. If God truly wanted this person to have that operation, their thinking goes, why doesn’t he have a job that gives him health insurance? If he works part time, or if he doesn’t work, or if he works part time at several places, or he works independently or if he had a pre-existing condition then why should he be allowed access to medicine? Better to keep taxes low than suffer the suffering.

This whole affair makes me angry. We live in a powerful and rich nation, we’ve had to exploit and strong arm other nations and even our own ancestors to get us to this position. It is for nothing if we can’t even agree to provide the basics to our citizens. Access to medicine should be considered one of those basics. If we can’t use our privileged and unique place in the world to help our neighbors then what is it all for? This isn’t just a problem that is political. When newspapers and TV networks throw up their hands and say “Can’t you people just get along?” they are doing a disservice to the issue. They are intentionally or unintentionally ignoring that there was a traceable cause to this crisis and that cause lies squarely on the shoulders of a minority of Republican Representatives who are ideologically opposed to government. Not just this government. ANY government.

I highly encourage you to click on the sources I linked to in this article. That’s the impact of this shutdown, among many other things. That’s the kind of stuff a minority group of elected officials are willing to gamble with in order to “win”. If things like National Parks, jobs, oversight, and social safety nets seem like something a nation as prosperous and free as this should have then you are not in line with the people who just took those things away. They may assume that those things will eventually come back and that Americans have a short memory, but they just tipped their cards for all of us to see and what they’re holding is, and pardon the cheesiest thing I’ve ever written, is no hearts.

What the hell happened last night? #RIPlarryshippers and twitter nonsense

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While twitter trends are unpredictable and oftentimes not a good reflection of what is actually happening in the world at that moment, there is one amorphous group that can be counted on to consistently be in the top ten: they are of course, the various pop fandom groups made up of preteens and teens (mostly) that back one singer, tv show or band and work hard to defend their identities. They go by cutesy names like “gleeks”, “directioners”, “twihards”, “beliebers”, etc. and they can be found all over twitter fighting the good fight.

Preteens and teens are especially good at doing this because they literally have all the time in the world. They have absolutely nothing better to do than to sit online and stoke virility. Their trends have become so common that seeing something like “#43millionbeliebersstilllovejustin” trending is par the course on twitter, something to be ignored and skipped over as more serious trends like “Cairo” or “#badbandnames” engage your attention.

Last night though, the preteens rose their little idol worship obsession into something more: the collective consciousness of the rest of us. Sometime on the night of August 16th, a hashtag began trending that was obscure enough to beg for the uninitiated to click it “#RIPlarryshippers”. Who was Larry Shippers? Did the world lose another celebrity struggling with substance abuse and paying for a life of excess? No.

Reading a few tweets exposed that Larry Shippers wasn’t a person but in fact 14 young, fresh faced One Direction fans who, like sunni and shiite muslims, had been recently engaged in a sectarian war with other One Direction fans over whether two bandmates (Louis and Harry) were romantically involved. It’s apparently a big deal if your version of a big deal is following the lives, rumors and Public Relations releases of pop bands. Unfortunately, it took tragedy to remind these preteens that even if Louis and Harry weren’t together, ALL Directioners were deserving of life. The tragedy was the alleged suicide of 14 (or 28 or 42 or 56?) “Larryshippers” (Larryshippers = people who were pro-louis and harry having sex) after a scathing documentary that was released on England’s Channel 4. So damaging was the documentary, so tasteless and unfair, that teens were driven to suicide over just watching it. It was like a more efficient “Ring” video.

Also it happened to be complete nonsense. It is, without a doubt, not true. Not one scrap of evidence supports that a single child killed themselves over the Channel 4 video. It simply did not happen. But that wasn’t going to stop the Directioners who were really gaining traction with this thing.

Manufactured outrage is nothing new. Fox News has built an entire network on the premise. People love to feel outrage. I suspect it has something to do with the simplicity of it. Channel 4 is a “hater” and because it hates One Direction (probably from jealousy), it made an unfair and untrue documentary that was so mean that it drove kids to suicide. Immediately after the outrage began, One Directioners started posting anti-bullying pictures and numbers to suicide hotlines. It’s well meaning, but completely misdirected. The message being lost when the same “anti-bullying” fans threaten to kill people working at Channel 4 for being mean. It also assumes that a documentary picking on One Direction fans is somehow driving people to suicide, which it wasn’t. These kids are at risk of bullying and do commit suicide sometimes, but for all the uninteresting reasons that most kids do.

The general sense of bafflement (as an outsider) continues as you watch other “fandoms” come to One Direction fans’ defense. Directioners started retweeting this picture, taken from a tweet of a belieber:

belieber tweet

Which then led me to learn that until recently One Direction fans and Justin Bieber fans had been engaged in a twitter war (as a preteen there are lots of wars you need to keep track of, none of which have the names Syria or Egypt in them).

I would give almost anything to watch this night unfold from the perspective of the Channel 4 team that made the documentary. So many emotions were probably at play. I’m sure there was a mix of bafflement and surprise, but also perhaps a sense of powerlessness. Do they need to respond to something so silly? The public at large would probably mostly miss the fake, viral, twitter story but still… a bunch of preteens were going around saying that their tv show just killed 14 (or 28 or 56?) Larryshippers. I still would love to find out what they made of the situation. As far as addressing the outrage, Channel 4 wrote a piece about itself and calmly documented the oddity of the rumors.

It would be easy to believe that this type of event is unique to the unchecked speculation machine of the 21st century Age of Social Media, but I’m not so sure. The faces are probably younger (adults move on to more mature forms of gullibility such as Birther movements and Death Panels) but the premise of an unfounded claim whipping an ignorant group up into a frenzy is a common human experience: think Jews poisoning wells rumors common in the Middle Ages, or Salem Witch Trials.

As I wrote before, these events are probably extremely satisfying to those who allow themselves to become wrapped up in it. It’s so rare these days to be able to freely and openly lose yourself into a self-righteous, targeted outrage frenzy. The sense of community it builds – as proven by the uniting of even the bitterest of enemies: Beliebers and Directioners – has to feel great. It’s also rare to be able to feel like you are really having an impact and by seeing your group’s hashtag trending or retweeting a picture you are made to feel as if you, individually and in a group, have contributed to the success of something big. That’s gotta feel pretty satisfying.

As a whole, the experience of fandom is replacing religion. And here politicians and clergy were terrified that science would destroy people’s belief in God, when it has now been replaced by worship of another kind. It is only when looking at fandom as frantic as this that the Old Testament’s God’s commandment to not worship any god but Him is so reasonable. I guess, in his mysterious way, God knew that in 4000 years he would have to compete with Harry Styles and his smile.

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A dangerous threat indeed.

But what is also remarkable is how much fandom borrows from religion: Unquestioningly loyalty, policing of group membership by self-appointed members, fanaticism, fantasy, and even group ritual.

One of the things that struck me about last nights twitter event was how many Directioners invented ways to show solidarity with their (not at all) dead comrades.

It’s enough to make a Directioner get dizzy. If I wanted this much group enforced shared ritual I would be Catholic!

Russell Simmon’s Harriet Tubman fiasco is proof that some things are still sacred

via @BritniDWrites

via @BritniDWrites

Tonight, Russell Simmon’s made a terrible decision. He decided to promote a video (produced by his video company All Def Digital) made by Jason Horton a white guy (his tagline: “The World’s Only White Male Comedian” because that’s clever). The concept of the video? Take a hero of American history, Harriet Tubman, who was literally responsible for leading hundreds of slaves to freedom and risking her life to do so, and attempt to make a funny viral video from that premise. The execution? A joke about the rape that thousands of African slaves endured at the hands of their white masters, fat shaming, and an appalling lack of sensitivity to both a woman who deserves more than to be a punchline in a viral marketing campaign and towards a people whose descendants ARE NOT Jason Horton.

[UPDATE] The full video has been re-uploaded by someone on youtube so here it is

The actual video was immediately taken down after intense backlash but here is the preview video (which is bad enough). I’m assuming it too will eventually be taken down but I’ll try to find a new version of it when it does go down.

Fellas, you had to know this was in poor taste? Like, everyone in the room during filming had to have been thinking that maybe this crossed some line. Right? I mean I know it can sometimes be hard to find out where the edge is between edgy comedy and plain old offensiveness but this is well beyond the gray area.

There are funny ways to depict history, and even funny ways to deal with sensitive topics but this… this is shameful. What a disgrace.

Over-analyzing the rap game: Kendrick Lamar is a Kardashian

From: Goodreads.com

From: Goodreads.com

If you’ve been on social media recently you will have noticed that the rap world is in Game of Thrones level turmoil. Headlines abound. Kendrick Lamar blasts other rappers. Kendrick Lamar scorches other rappers. Kendrick Lamar hostile verb other rappers. In his new freshly leaked song* (*meaning “released by Kendrick Lamar’s people at a pre-established time”), Kendrick Lamar spends a great deal of time “calling out” other big name rappers and declaring himself – in no uncertain terms – the King of both the East Coast and the West Coast (why it took so long for rappers to discover manifest destiny is beyond the scope of this article).

I heard the barbershops be in great debates all the time
Bout who’s the best MC? Kendrick, Jigga and Nas
Eminem, Andre 3000, the rest of y’all
New niggas just new niggas, don’t get involved
I’m usually homeboys with the same niggas I’m rhymin’ wit
But this is hip hop and them niggas should know what time it is
And that goes for Jermaine Cole, Big KRIT, Wale
Pusha T, Meek Millz, A$AP Rocky, Drake
Big Sean, Jay Electron’, Tyler, Mac Miller
I got love for you all but I’m tryna murder you niggas
Tryna make sure your core fans never heard of you niggas
They dont wanna hear not one more noun or verb from you niggas
What is competition? I’m tryna raise the bar high
Who tryna jump and get it? You better off tryna skydive
Out the exit window of 5 G5’s with 5 grand
With your granddad as the pilot he drunk as fuck tryna land
With the hand full of arthritis and popping prosthetic leg
Bumpin Pac in the cockpit so the shit that pops in his head
Is an option of violence, someone heard the stewardess said
That your parachute is a latex condom hooked to a dread

Rap fans ate it up.

That was the point.

You know what else was exactly the point? What happened next. What happened next was this: The rappers who were (and weren’t) named spent the day responding to Kendrick Lamar in kind. More headlines came in, more page views were achieved, more hashtags were made trending.

Kendrick Lamar could be a great Kardashian

Kendrick Lamar could be a great Kardashian

Obviously the rappers eviscerated in the song played their part (they knew the role well) and responded with come backs, drama and vows to get lyrical on his ass. Secretly, they were probably giddy. The only thing that can make someone swallow their ego is the prospect of making big money to do so. That’s what this latest spat of drama means. Dollars all around. Stoke the fires of manufactured drama and the public will pay for the privilege of being along for the ride, such is our addiction to intrigue.

Big K.R.I.T. (one of the rappers named) said it best:

Gladiator shit not in its combative sense, but in its sense of spectacle. Rap has always walked a very different path then that of other genres of music. Calling people out, creating drama and sadly, even actual violence, are all part of its legacy. It’s like a less regulated pro wrestling saga, where age old feuds and convoluted backstories (complete with betrayals, sacrifices and shaky alliances) play out in the public eye and raise the stakes of the music. Tupac and Biggie engineered such a masterful publicity feud that it still plays out daily for their legions of fans who have not forgotten (it also ended, sadly, with both promising rappers dead).

This is all so reality TV. Real Housewives of Compton called by any other name would seem as shamelessly self indulgent. This is no different than what Keeping up with the Kardashians does so well, and like a reality producer who knows when the drama is in need of a boost, Kendrick Lamar recognized that the rap game needed someone to rake the coals.

What this means in terms of money can only be positive. Loyal fans in both camps will feel it is their duty to vote with their wallets. It’s the only way, aside from ineffectually dissing one another on Youtube videos, that they can support “their guys”. Us vs Them is a helluva drug and one that leads to a vested interest in winning something. The feud is amplified further by social media algorithms that act as a feedback loop as more and more people see trending topics about Kendrick Lamar and chime in, making the topics trend even stronger.

Whether or not Kendrick Lamar is lyrically King of the rap game is of little consequence, he’s certainly the King of playing the rap game.

“Hyperloop” sounds like something out of science fiction… good.

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I’ve written in the past about ideas that, while not entirely feasible, are still helping push our society forward in the direction of a better tomorrow. With science and technology, it is often just as important to be ambitious as it is practical, unless we want ours to be a country of stagnation – comfortable but lagging in every way that matters.

It seems straightforward. Innovation and progress are goals to strive for, and for a long time that’s what our country fawned over, but in the past few decades those ideals have been replaced by fear and xenophobia. Often xenophobia takes the shape of fearing people different from ourselves but it also applies to ideas different from what we know. America is now a country desperate to hold onto a perceived past – imagined more than real – of a simpler time and devoid of shades of gray. It fears what it doesn’t know and doesn’t seem to want to learn.

Conservatism, even it’s name suggests an inability to move forward, is built on fear. It’s chief weapon is fear, and it is swung wildly and ferociously in all directions. What is opposition to immigration reform if not a form of racial fear? What is opposition to climate change if not a form of environmental fear? What is opposition to gay marriage if not a form of sexual fear? Progressivism has it’s flaws, but it often in the form of caring too much, not too little. It dares to try to change things. Conservativism clings on.

I didn’t intend to write this as a way of bashing conservatives, but it is important to note their popularity in America as a testimony to how far we’ve fallen. Instead of approaching the changing geopolitical, social and environmental challenges with gusto and a will to always try to better ourselves, we’ve allowed an entire national political party to provide a giant hole in the sand for defeatists and pessimists to stick their heads in.  And that’s because fear is easy. It’s easy to be small, and isolationist, and enjoy the sense of superiority that tribalism provides no matter how objectively false it is. What is harder is doing something.

That is why, when an ambitious plan comes out by a creative thinker it is crucial that we let it thrive.

Also, he gets his fashion advice from Ricky Gervais apparently

Also, he gets his fashion advice from Ricky Gervais apparently

In many ways, Elon Musk is the best of what American capitalism can provide. When people think of that “entrepreneurial spirit” that is so often trumpeted by politicians and cited by frauds like Donald Trump to justify their wealth, it should be for people like Elon Musk that they look to as the defining argument.

Elon Musk, a South African-American inventor and entrepreneur, is bold. While still in his 20s he co-founded Paypal, that site you use to securely shop online. It was enough to make him rich, but he didn’t rest. Next he co-founded SpaceX, that privately owned space program that is still the only one that has ever launched a nongovernmental space craft into orbit and successfully docked with the International Space Station. (Musk has said in interviews that he was inspired by Isaac Asimov’s Foundation book series, so give another point to the power of science fiction as a motivator.) Finally, he went on to co-found Tesla Motors and still works as head of production design. He’s a guy who gets things done.

Now, he wants to get it done quicker by moving people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in times that conventional transportation cannot come close to matching.

Wired.com describes his plan:

Musk’s proposal to revolutionize mass transit is called the Hyperloop. It would transport passengers in individual aluminum pods powered by turbines and solar energy in above-ground tubes, cost $6-10 billion to build, and make the trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 35 minutes.

But it only exists in a 57-page alpha white paper. And if someone grabbed the idea and ran with it today, Musk says it would still be 7 to 10 years away.

It began with an idea similar to the vacuum tubes used to shuttle the check from your car to the bank. But maintaining that level of vacuum for hundreds of miles, according to Musk, was untenable. “The basic calculations for energy was enormous,” Musk said during a conference call. And it’s also incredibly dangerous. So Musk enlisted a dozen engineers from Tesla and Space X to start playing with the idea. They wanted to use to existing technology, require as little land as possible, and get the pressure down inside the tube, determining that about half-bar of pressure was the sweet spot. And now Musk and Friends have released it to the world.

Two tubes — one for each direction — would be mounted on pylons spaced between 50 and 100 meters apart, and Musk envisions the Hyperloop running alongside Interstate 5 in California. Because it’s elevated, there’s less environmental impact (farmers can still use their land), it can be built to withstand earthquakes (using the same technology as buildings in the Golden State), and would have solar panels mounted on the roof.

“There is way more surface area on the top of the tube than you need [to power the Hyperloop],” Musk says. “You would have more power than you could possibly consume.”

Inside the tubes, each pod would be mounted on a pair of skis made out of inconel — the same metal that SpaceX uses to handle high heat and pressure — with air being pumped through small holes in the skis to create an air cushion. Combine that with magnets and an electromagnetic field, and you’ve got levitation with very little drag.

Now this is years away from being a reality. That’s fine. In fact, that’s a good thing. It gives us a vision for the future that is beyond the next 140 character tweet we’ll read. It should motivate and inspire, and more importantly, remind the next generation of would be engineers that, to paraphrase Edward R. Murrow, they come from a country that is not descended from fearful men. America can still do great things, if only we have the courage to dream of them.

See, told you.

See, told you.

An apology for my lack of updates

internet-out-of-order

A joke:

A mailman, a roofer, and a writer walk into a bar. They all look miserable and could use a stiff drink. The mailman says, “rain, sleet, and snow, my foot! Last winter I had to deliver mail in three feet of snow!” The other two nod sympathetically. After a swig, the roofer says “Well, this heat wave is killing me. All day long up on a sizzling roof in the blazing sun? No thank you.” The other two nod sympathetically. Finally, the writer says, “Well, those sound horrible but I think I have you both beat.” The other two brace themselves expecting the worst. “This one time,” he says, “I went a week without WiFi.” The other two hastily order another round for their friend.

Yes, having moved into my new apartment I found myself without WiFi for over a week now. It’s been a nightmare scenario that haunts my waking hours.  It’s also why I have struggled to pump out the number of articles I used to be able to do: Researching and finding sources is tough when those sources are online and you aren’t.

It’s not a complete wash though because I have managed to write a lot more fiction and reflective essays in the interim. I am trying to look at this time as a bit like Henry David Thoreau’s time at Walden Pond (but with more electricity and less tranquility). Who knows, maybe while I’m missing the latest trending topic on twitter I’ll discover the next great American philosophical movement. Or perhaps I’ll just think up some more corny jokes.

This week’s Over-analyzing Rap Lyrics: “Ex-girlfriend” – Wu-Tang Clan

overanalyzing wutang

This week’s Over-analyzing rap lyrics comes courtesy of the always great Wu-Tang Clan. But as I was researching, writing, studying, and singing in the shower (my normal over-analyzing process) I made a startling conclusion:

Wu-Tang Clan wrote a Taylor Swift song before Taylor Swift was even Taylor Swift. And it’s called “Ex-girlfriend” and Taylor Swift is probably kicking herself (yes she can!*) for not having thought of it sooner.

“Ex-girlfriend”, primarily rapped by Method Man, is a song about a crazy ex who continues to plague the singer’s life even after they stop being romantically involved. Even though it has more references to guns and “boning” it can still be considered a prototypical break up song, the likes of which Taylor Swift has made famous. For example, at one point Method Man admits that he knew she was trouble when she walked in:

Shoulda listened when my momma told me, soon as I
turn my back you try to fuck my homies, that was then
this is now I got a new friend, ever since
I cut them loose ends you wanna bone me

Yeah, Method, you should have listened to your momma, but you couldn’t help yourself and got entangled with a person you knew was bad for you. Tsk Tsk.

"Preach it, Method." - Taylor Swift

“Preach it, Method.” – Taylor Swift

Luckily for Method, he realized what a “mean” person she was and so cut off the relationship, and wants this song to announce to his ex, “We are never ever getting back together”:

And used up, pull your shoes up, all you need’s affection
but you’re headed in the wrong direction
Tryin to make this nigga jealous, with other fellas
All up in my face actin overzealous
Like you want somethin from Meth, I hope it ain’t love girl
Cause I ain’t got none left for you, plus you miserable
Misery Love Company, shit I’m livin comfortably, don’t need no
nigga huntin me down for fuckin round, with his kitty
Talk to him, before my brother put a spark through him
Won’t be pretty, the situation got my whole attitude shitty
And got you actin high saditty with your slut committee

And because Method Man knows that happiness is the sweetest revenge for a lover scorned, he doesn’t hesitate to point out how happy he is with his – heavily armed – new girlfriend:

Let me find out that you fuckin with Boo, and y’all gon’ feel it
Waitin for the day that you front, and catch a lump
from my black butterfly, that don’t pack a lullaby
Sleep on her, she said you bitches tried to creep on her
in the mall and didn’t know she had the reach on her
Pearl-handled twenty-two, my Boo
She go ahead and walk her dogs, and represent Wu
to the fullest, you and hon can shoot the fair one
I’ll bring the bullets, knowhatI’msayin? Stop playin

It’s kind of like he’s saying his new girlfriend made a rebel out of a careless man’s careful rapper, and boy does it feel great. Also, he’s apparently really confident in her dueling ability, so sure in fact, that he even offers to provide the bullets. (Also, I think he’s suggesting she walks her dogs in the mall, which is probably not allowed.)

It goes to show that if you peel back the crude and vulgar veneer of a rap song, even one by Wu-Tang Clan, it exposes a commonality with simple human desires that anyone would wish for: to love, to live happily, and to be left alone by a crusty ass crew. Amen, Method Man. Amen.

"Word." - Taylor Swift

“Word.” – Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift never seemed like a hardcore rapper but if she ever gets tired of winning 18 awards per Country Music Award show, she should consider trying her hand at the BET awards. I see a “Best New Rapper” award in her future, and even Kanye can’t argue with that.

[Author’s Note: I’m no stranger to intense research and exhaustively getting to the bottom of a topic that I plan on writing about, but the sheer volume of Taylor Swift’s body of work is stunning. I had no idea she was so prolific, not just in writing songs but also in making music videos for them. Having only picked up a rudimentary working knowledge of TSwift (kids call her “TSwift”) by simply being alive during the 21st century, I knew I had to do a closer examination if I ever hoped to write this article. That led me to her wikipedia page which… is probably one of the largest wikipedia pages I’ve ever seen. This thing is MASSIVE. Taylor Swift has apparently done more than the entirety of World War II. Her page is at least four times longer than U2’s Bono and about as long as The Rolling Stones’ entry. Next time you see that little “donation” bar at the top of the Wikipedia home page, just realize that 90% of donations MUST go to the massive, and constant, upkeeping and updating of Taylor Swift’s entry. Whether that causes you to donate MORE to wikipedia or LESS, that’s up to you.]

*If you get this reference you are A) nearly as pathetic as me and B) worthy of a prize. Name the song and singer in the comment section and I’ll be impressed and possibly give you a prize. Hint: the reference isn’t that hard, you’re just really unhip.

Republican National Clowns: The RNC’s latest unintentional joke

stooges

Recently, CNN and NBC separately announced that they would be airing documentaries about Hillary Clinton. At best, that should have aroused an “Oh, that’s cool” response from anyone. If you have been following politics in the last, let’s say, two decades, or if you plan on following politics into, let’s say, 2016, Hillary Clinton is a person of interest.

Television has always been a medium of guessing at the public’s interest in people and events and anticipating a demand of that interest. That’s its entire business model. People want to watch things with people and things they care about: Hillary Clinton being an obvious choice. This whole thing seems so darn reasonable and straightforward that it should come as no surprise that the Republican National Committee, the head of the GOP, has overreacted badly to it.

You see, Hillary Clinton, three years away from a 2016 election, already terrifies the GOP. This isn’t baseless worrying, Hillary Clinton has a sizable lead in popularity and name recognition over pretty much anyone else in the potential candidate pool. Hillary Clinton (despite early jabs by Republicans) is fast tracked to the DNC’s nomination for President. But let’s not lose our heads, all of that is still three years away.

Republican's Wife: "Honey, you were shouting in your sleep. What's wrong?" Republican: "Nothing. It's nothing. Just a bad dream."

Republican’s Wife: “Honey, you were shouting in your sleep. What’s wrong?” Republican: “Nothing. It’s nothing. Just a bad dream.”

The GOP, already hurting after two sound presidential defeats (by a socialist, atheist, Muslim no less) are worried. So when they heard about these two documentaries they promptly freaked out. They needed to prevent these documentaries (which they assumed would be pro-Clinton) from airing. The only problem is that stupid “freedom of the press” and, gasp, “independent private industry” were working against them. So they played the only card they had.

In a letter to CNN and NBC, RNC chairman Reince Priebus said that if CNN and NBC didn’t drop the documentaries, he wouldn’t allow either network to air the Republican Primaries. In other words, Mr. Priebus threatened to take his toys and go home.

Obviously, threatening to not air your own party’s primaries on two large networks is kind of like punching yourself in the face to avoid doing the dishes. The GOP wants attention for its candidates, that’s how it gets people inspired to vote for one of them. The only way this threat has any sort of bite is by the fact that in recent elections the GOP primaries have become wildly popular with people just tuning in to watch a train wreck. It shouldn’t even be considered controversial to say that the typical Republican primary is filled to the brim with absolute clowns: Literal jesters with no hope of appealing to a national audience but allowed to share the stage – and sometimes win a straw poll or two – with Presidential hopefuls that actually have a chance. Last election’s was a doozy.

We had Herman Cain – Pizza mogul, 9-9-9 flat tax proponent, Pokemon quoter, sexual harrasser, all around idiot.

We had Michelle Bachman – Climate change denier, gay basher, insane person.

We had Rick Santorum – a frothy mixture of homophobia, idiocy and religious zealotry.

We had Donald Trump – Billionaire, blow hard with less brains than hair.

We had Ron Paul – a crazy person’s crazy person, paranoid, racist and kind of weird looking.

And watching the debates was like watching a beauty pageant with ONLY Miss South Carolina’s.

So by threatening to pull that circus off the air for CNN and NBC, the networks do miss capitalizing on the sheer rubbernecking potential of a group of people who know people are laughing but aren’t quite sure if it’s with them or at them. For television ratings, it’s as close as we get to a “sure thing” without being a Two and a Half Men rerun.

Like Rick Santorum, it too is popular for irrational reasons

Like Rick Santorum, it too is popular for irrational reasons

Of course, NBC and CNN will risk alienating the increasingly alienated GOP and air the documentaries. No more than ever, they have to. Interest in the two documentaries is probably higher now than ever. They also can’t be seen as backing down to a political party (not after the outrageous PBS Park Avenue cancellation debacle that seriously harmed the reputation of that highly reputable network). The show must go on, whether the RNC likes it or not.

My only consolation to the RNC is how stupid they are being for thinking this is going to noticeably sway the 2016 presidential election. By assuming that Hillary Clinton is the de facto nominee, they are losing sight of a history filled with “de facto nominees that end up kicked to the curb”, most recently in the form of Hillary Clinton herself by a young upstart from Illinois who went from unknown to presidential nominee in less than two years.

The RNC is also mistaking NBC and CNN for Fox News. I can see how it’s easy to do. They are used to networks that broadcast unfiltered propaganda for the Right and understandably assume that other Networks must operate the same way. It’s the “thieves think all people steal” effect. CNN has responded to this unreasonable demand by telling the GOP to wait and see before overreacting.

The GOP has assumed that any documentary focusing on Hillary Clinton must show her in a good light. High praise from the Right, if you think about it. Maybe what scares the GOP about Hillary Clinton the most is the fact that they are closet fans of hers, secretly wishing a GOP candidate would emerge that was half as interesting and half as popular as the woman in the pantsuits.