Man Praises Boss

Tabs is mpreg with content today, but who will speak for the nepo babies?

If you weren’t already tired of nepo babies, you will be near death from exhaustion by the time you drag yourself through the seven thousand seven hundred fifty words of PART ONE1 of Andrew Fedorov’s “Compendium of Media Nepotism” in The Fine Print, a thing I truly urge you not to do.

Lately, the silly and dismissive term “nepo baby” has emerged as a culturally salient offshoot of our pervasive fascination with the romances, sex lives, and — following nature’s usual course — progeny of the rich and famous. The label doesn’t fit all or even most people who spoke to The Fine Print. Neither does “nepotism case,” that timeless office complaint about co-workers who had an in to the business. Since Bakeless’s time, editorial work has retained a surface sheen of glamor, but it has largely been overtaken by an overwhelming awareness of the extreme precarity media generally bestows on individuals and institutions that tangle with it. Journalism these days isn’t the easiest path available to anyone, no matter their bloodline.

Journalist, Yale professor, and a child of magazine writers Anne Fadiman has offered “oakling” as an alternative, inspired by a contemporaneous review of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s son Hartley’s poetry which observed that “the oakling withers beneath the shadow of the oak.” In her initial exploration of the subject, Fadiman applied the term to any children of writers who become writers.

Regrettably “oakling” is not just a goof, but a bit of smarm that Fedorov remains committed to throughout. If there’s a single detail in here that any of his subjects would rather not see in print, I couldn’t find it. For example, here’s Maggie Haberman’s dad on the Sulzberger dynasty:

“The Sulzbergers are the Sulzbergers. They own the place for God’s sake, and frankly, I’m quite glad they do,” longtime Times reporter Clyde Haberman told The Fine Print.

Man Praises Boss. Incredible reportage. And how’s A.G. stewarding his “royal lineage?” Yesterday the NY Times Guild posted that “[o]ur C.E.O., @meredith_levien, was paid $7.6 million in 2022, up from $4.4 million in 2020. That’s a 73% increase,” and:

A 46% raise for execs on an 11% increase in revenue and deteriorating staff morale? Cracking work, son, glad you’re holding up under all that “extreme precarity.” And sure, The Fine Print is just an insider-ey newsletter by that guy who shows up at random media parties, so who cares? But there is so little media reporting left in the world at this point that it seems like a baffling waste to spend thousands of words of it on self-mythologizing by the winners.

Tweet from @christapeterso quoting a “weird medieval guys” tweet of a picture of “a medieval pewter badge depicting a vagina wearing a hat and carrying a walking stick,” that reads: “I have a big problem with this being included in a “vulva diversity” project Here’s why. [hand pointing down emoji] [thread emoji]”

Also today in media, Vanity Fair profiled one Kara Swisher, a little-known technology journalist who is beginning to make quite a name for herself. Watch out for this one, folks! She’s going places.

Today-Eye in AI: Danilo Campos wrote an overview of a bunch of trends in tech including centralization and incumbency, remote work, and VR/AR. I think he’s right about virtually all of it, but the best part was this reframing of AI:

I’m more comfortable calling “AI” a “pattern synthesis engine” (PSE). You tell it the pattern you’re looking for, and then it disgorges something plausible synthesized from its vast set of training patterns.

And here’s Jenka Gurfinkel explaining “how AI misrepresents culture through… a lying smile” and why this synthesized Egyptian warriors selfie looks so ridiculous:

A synthesized picture of what looks like a lot of modern Hollywood extras ready for an Egyptian costume drama, and taking a smiling group selfie.

But if AI is just a pattern generator, can we put it to the highest conceivable use: generating spicy mpreg fanfic patterns? Today in Tabs’ Senior Omegaverse Correspondent Allegra Rosenberg finds out in today’s:

A Special Report

Well, apparently ChatGPT is an anti. An anti is a Type Of Guy (subtype: fandom-specific) who has ~concerns~ about sex scenes in films, age gaps in romance novels, things of that nature. The bot won’t write BingQiu fanfiction because it “avoid[s] writing content that promotes or condones inappropriate or non-consensual relationships.” But in the original canon, The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System, those characters (Luo Binghe and Shen Qingqiu) do in fact be fucking and sucking. This is more proof that AI is incapable of doing anything interesting ever, including basic imitation of existing human literature.

SVSSS, as it’s known, emerged from China’s thriving webnovel scene, a cultural domain which doesn’t yet exist in the West on the same scale. 20 million writers churn out enormous amounts of digital-first fiction daily to feed the appetites of the webnovel-reading population, which by some metrics amounts to almost half the country.

The well-trod path in China from self-publishing popularity to mainstream adaptation means that what gets adapted is often trope-heavy genre material like fantasy and romance. The people get what they want, and the people want mpreg! They’re taking to the streets about it! In China they’re already making omegaverse fanfiction into actual TV shows! If ChatGPT is too delicate for a canonical age gap relationship, woe betide those who want something spicier. It seems like the human writer-perverts of the world are going to be able to hold onto their gigs for a little while longer.

—Allegra Rosenberg is back baby, Awoouu (wolf Howl)

One time, trying to edit some video, I installed ffmpreg by accident. That was a weird day.

Cockroaches commitment to doin’ it triggers multiple mutations. Shape rotators invent new shape, or new way to outline tiled hexagon wedges at least. Wordcel Maggie Smith roasts bad ex-husband in book excerpt. Bad news about Salem, MA’s chop suey sandwich (it’s coming back). In The Racket Jonathan M. Katz covered Trump’s overtly fascist Waco campaign kickoff rally.

It’s got it all: raging, sexually charged paranoia; anti-Marxist and antisemitic cant; Biblical rhetoric (“cast out” / “throw off”); and the epistrophe of an evangelical sermon. Goebbels could scarcely have written it better.

Gonna be another rough campaign cycle.

Twitter is Dying, by Natasha Lomas in Techcrunch. Twitter is dying, by Ryan Broderick in Garbage Day. Is Mastodon living? by Nilay Patel in The Verge, feat. Eugen Rochko.

Finally: Dan “Line Goes Up” Olson has a new video out about Decentraland and the Metaverse.

Today’s Song: AJJ, “Death Machine”

Wednesday… end of signoff.


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