Yesterday the company that controls Dr. Seuss’s copyrights decided they won’t publish six of his books anymore (not the six you remember) because they have racist caricatures in them. I had small children recently enough to say they are also two very boring ones and four that no one reads. The right wing pretended to lose their minds, either because they have no policy ideas or because they have no minds. That’s it. No one was cancelled, no books were “banned,” there is no disagreement about most of Dr. Seuss’s work, the “controversy” was a fake bad faith distraction. I only feel obligated to mention it because I know some of you take a pass on ☁️The Discourse☁️ in the assumption that I will catch you up, so there it is. The only interesting thing I learned was that Dr. Seuss’s first book was “The Pocket Book of Boners,” (lol) and the only genuinely controversial Seuss-related thing I saw yesterday was this (incorrect) Gabriel Roth tweet:
I know I should have done this in anapestic tetrameter but every second that passes thinking about this nonsense brings us all one second closer to death.
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Today in Highbrow Roasts: In Prospect Magazine Phillip Ball reviews Charles Seife’s “Hawking Hawking: The Selling of a Scientific Celebrity,” a new biography of the celebrity physicist that dares to point out that Stephen Hawking “did not really produce any important scientific work after A Brief History; a decade later he was left behind by a new generation of theoretical physicists.” And in Bookforum, Jennifer Wilson suggests that George Saunders is trying to take 19th century Russian writers and “squeeze them into what I think of as the Empathy Industrial Complex, a veritable cottage industry that emerged in 2016 alongside profiles of Donald Trump supporters…” some of which, she observes, Saunders himself wrote for The New Yorker. I also learned that young Anton Chekhov was a total snack.
Amanda Hess wrote about Mini Brands for the NY Times. There are tiny groceries, game shows, Don DeLillo and Rumaan Alam, it’s fine. But the real scene stealer is Velveeta the Snail. Are you ready for some CRYPTO?! Sorry, blockchain and NFTs are the dumbest thing I can’t help being obsessed by. Ernest Wilkins says that Web 3.0 is coming, but the good news is “99% of creators are too lazy to ever find out what they are good at in the first place to even monetize it properly, much less worry about emerging technology.” And Adam Tooze shares an observation by FT’s Isabel Kaminska that ransomware has created a form of “taxation” that will prevent Bitcoin’s value from ever going to zero. Google plans to stop tracking you all around the web, and will instead track you directly on your own devices, where you have already invited it to watch everything you do. Today in good parenting: leave your kids alone, and let them destroy stuff.
Today’s Song: The White Stripes, “In the Cold, Cold Night”
~ One must never place a loaded tab on the page if it isn't going to go off. ~