Stealers Wheel, Where Are You?

You need to adjust those song lyrics Because clowns are not only to the left of me, they're on the right, and … holy crap … just about every other direction too:


We could use some more jokers as well.

Briefly noted:

  • How stupid is Uncle Stupid? In case you need a reminder, read the report from Joe Lancaster: Government Spending Billions To Expand Broadband Without Knowing Who Needs It.

    In November 2021, Congress passed and President Joe Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), a $1.2 trillion grab bag of public spending wish list items. One of those projects, the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program, would expand broadband access to communities that currently lack access to high-speed internet. BEAD would dole out $42.45 billion in state grants, and the Government Accountability Office estimated that the projects could require as many as 23,000 additional telecom workers to complete.

    The only problem is that the government currently has no idea where broadband actually is and is not available.

    State governments eager to get their mitts on that cash have a vested interest in maximizing their no-broadband numbers.

  • Joel Kotkin wonders: Can Capitalism Save Hollywood?

    After a decade of rapid growth, the nation’s media and entertainment complex is facing retrenchment and, perhaps, a necessary reappraisal. Firms are consolidating. Workers are being laid off at Disney, Warner Brothers, Paramount, CBS, and other production houses. News media firms like CNN, Gannet, and Buzzfeed are planning similar actions. In 2022, stocks in media companies lost $500 billion in value, and stocks in tech firms, increasingly big players in entertainment and news, suffered a reversal of an astounding $4 trillion.

    This decline reflects the growing gap between the legacy media and at least half their potential audience. According to Gallup, overall public trust in the media is lower than it’s ever been; barely one-third of poll respondents express confidence, half the percentage that felt that way in 1978. Hollywood, television, and radio register similarly low levels of support.

    I see that every single one of 2022's top ten highest-grossing films of 2022 is a sequel of some flavor. Down to Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

  • It's not your fault if you're confused. Fortunately, Wilfred Reilly is around to perform a useful service, Clearing the Air on ‘Gender’ Confusion.

    ‘Gender” is not sex, and — per my own polling — most conservatives don’t quite know what the hell it is. This confusion unnecessarily complicates a fairly simple political issue. Perhaps this essay can help.

    Sex is a binary and unambiguously real human trait, which goes well beyond the specific genitals that individuals have. The multiple essays on biologist Colin Wright’s invaluable website Reality’s Last Stand break this down in much greater detail, but biological sex is first and foremost a matter of reproductive function. Among at the very least all placental mammals, a male is defined as a member of the sex that produces a large number of “small motile gametes” — sperm. A female is a member of the sex that produces a smaller number of larger and more individually valuable gametes — eggs. Whole systems of the human body correspond to these roles. Barring some terrible accident or genetic abnormality, women have fallopian tubes, a uterus and cervix, and ovaries while men make do with testicles, an internal prostate, Cowper’s glands, and so forth.


    Gender, which someone — Judith Butler, IIRC — once called “the performativity of sex,” is something else altogether. Crudely but accurately, a person’s “gender” is simply the average of the sex-based roles and stereotypes that they prefer or identify with. A popular “gender chart” used in schools tracks from a bright pink female caricature on the leftmost (“feminine”) side over to a blue male warrior on the right: Actual pictures of Barbie and G.I. Joe are often added to each extreme. Many of the more formalized scales we use in the social sciences aren’t much better. The idea underlying all of this is that how someone “scores” across the secondary traits that we associate with sex, for example liking boys’ clothes or the color blue, constitutes a distinct personal characteristic that is as important as sex itself.

    So: don't be confused, but don't let yourself be bullied by ideologues who throw bafflegab and demands at you. Treat others, no matter their gender, with humanity and whatever respect they deserve.

Last Modified 2024-01-30 6:53 AM EDT

Room to Swing

[Amazon Link]
(paid link)

For some reason, in April 2022, I became aware the Kindle edition of this book was on sale at Amazon for 99¢. (It's $2.99 as I type.) It won the Edgar Award for best novel back in 1958. The garish cover said "The Noir Classic"! The Amazon page said "The Pulp Noir Classic"! A totally garish cover! All that made it an irresistible buy.

Unfortunately, it was one of those "wish I'd liked it better" reads for me. Two stars ("it was ok") at Goodreads.

It is claimed to be the first appearance of a black private eye in fiction, Toussaint Moore. As the book opens Toussaint has driven his old Jaguar to the small town of Bingston, Ohio. It's the mid-1950s, and the townspeople, as he reports it, "stared at me like I'd stepped out of a flying saucer." He immediately gets hassled by a local cop.

He's on a mission, it turns out, to try to clear himself of a murder rap back in his New York City home. He'd been hired by a reality TV show ("You - Detective!") to keep tabs on a rape suspect who's going to be one of the show's featured criminals. But the suspect gets killed, Toussaint gets framed, slugs a white cop… and call him mint jelly, because he's on the lam.

That's not Toussaint's only problem; his girlfriend Sybil despises his detective gig, and wants him to grab a stable job at the Post Office. His job requires him to navigate around pervasive racism and the shallowness and sexual proclivities of showbiz types.

"Ed Lacy" is a pseudonym for Leonard Zinberg, a white Jewish Communist married to a black woman. He was relatively prolific back in the mid-20th century, and is nowadays relatively obscure. (This novel's copyright wasn't renewed, which is why you can find multiple editions over at Amazon and elsewhere.) The prose here is Spillane-like, for better or worse.

Last Modified 2024-01-14 4:56 AM EDT