"Hot Singles Debate Cancel Culture, Ukraine and Johnny Depp in Your Area" Edition
A shrivelled Dick. What did you think I would start this newsletter with today? Bet you didn’t think it was actor cum comedian cum miserable addict and serial groper Andy Dick. Mr Dick’s downward spiral in life has somehow converged with that of a community of grim livestreamers who have monetized their dysfunction on a smaller scale. TMZ reports:
Andy got a visit from cops after a guy he’s living with angrily whipped out a gun while they were live on the web.
Here’s the deal ... Andy's been staying with a YouTube personality in Las Vegas, who calls himself the Wappy Flanker, and things went awry over the weekend during their live stream. We’re told a third man went over to Wappy's place, and an argument broke out.
So? Well, we live in a time where lots of people are trying to monetize less what they do than who they are. That applies to influencers, livestreamers, podcasters et cetera but it could apply to someone with a Substack. The problem is that if you are the product, rather than the creator of a product, you can’t be happy and functional or you will get boring. People want you to fuck up. It’s more intriguing than success.
In defence of Chomsky. At his age, Noam Chomsky should probably stop releasing statements on international affairs and enjoy the sounds of the birds and the view of the sun easing towards the land. Still, I thought it was unfair that the poor fellow was dogpiled for saying Ukraine should seek a deal with Russia. Russian withdrawal would be the best option, of course, but how likely is that? Putin has significant levels of public support. The Russian economy, while damaged, has endured. Of course, it takes two to tango (and I am not defending people whose idea of peace is unconditional Ukrainian surrender). But if there is a realistic path to Zelensky marching into the Donbass as the Russians issue shamefaced apologies then point it out because it’s hard to spot.
She was 16. Suzy Weiss explores the regrets of young people who had “gender-affirming” operations as children:
A few months after she had her breasts removed, she was in class, and the teacher started talking about the psychologist Harry Harlow and his experiment with rhesus monkeys. The experiment showed that the bond between mother and child was much more critical to the development of the child’s brain than had been known. “It occurred to me that I'd never be able to breastfeed my baby,” she said. She was 16.
Certainly one of the saddest paragraphs I’ve ever read.
A baby radish walking a dog. Katherine Dee worries about AI and culture:
DALL-E is a neural network from OpenAI that is able to generate a stunning range of images from text prompts. Its website shows off its capabilities: an illustration of a baby radish walking a dog; an armchair in the shape of an avocado; a storefront with ‘OpenAI’ written on the entrance.
I saw some of these images while scrolling through Twitter, and my response was immediate. I did what anyone who has immediate responses on Twitter is wont to do: I quote-tweeted the announcement and declared the invention satanic.
Sick for clout. Freddie deBoer considers social contagian and mental illness:
Sucking up scarce mental health resources with fictitious conditions is irresponsible, yes, and pretending to be sick for clout is untoward. But setting that aside, self-diagnosis is dangerous. Playacting a serious mental illness is harmful to your actual mental health. Fixating on the most broken part of yourself is contrary to best medical practices and to living a fulfilled life. Defining yourself by dysfunction is a great way to stay dysfunctional.
Even thinner on paper. Peter Hitchens reflects on weight:
After T.V. appearances, it can be mortifying to watch the recording. Sometimes it is worse than the truth. I am pretty sure some cameramen have been told by directors to “shoot against me,” as the expression goes, because I have the wrong opinions. This generally involves the use of a low angle, which emphasizes jowls, nostrils, and dewlaps. But mostly it is distressingly accurate, leaving me in no doubt that I would be better off on the radio, on which I think I sound quite svelte. I am even thinner on paper.
No limiting principle. Niall Gooch dissects Britain’s disingenuous debate over immigration:
The word “functionally” is important here, because most of the kind of people I am talking about, if asked, would deny that they oppose border controls entirely. But here’s the rub: if you ask them to articulate a limiting principle to their immigration liberalism, they will find it very hard to do so.
Taking back control? Ed West reflects on how the Brexiteers misled their base:
So the almost comical result of Brexit is that immigration is set to continue at record levels, except that rather than coming from Poland or Romania, new arrivals will mostly hail from Asia and Africa.
I think Ed might be overstating the economic harms of Brexit. God knows we aren’t doing rosily on the continent. But the piece is very good on how populists have been taken for a merry ride.
A friend and adviser. Karim Zidan explores the rise and potential fall of the Irish gangster cum boxing mogul Daniel Kinahan:
“I would love to thank my coaches and my brother Daniel Kinahan, without him I would never be the man who I am today and my career at this point,” Lazzez said following his decision victory, which aired on ESPN+. “Thanks a lot.”
When questioned about his decision to shout-out Kinahan in his victory speech, Lazzez claimed he was unaware of the U.S. sanctions and that Kinahan was nothing more than a “friend and advisor” and that Lazzez was “not involved in this kind of stuff.”
Have a lovely week,