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Which Bad Tab Should You Read Today?
Spoiler: it's the Buttigieg interview.
You might be thinking “why would I read any of today’s bad tabs?” but come on, it’s just you and me here in the privacy of your inbox, and you already subscribed to Today in Tabs. We both know you’re going to read at least one of them. Let’s find out which one.
The Party Is Cancelled, by Emma Green in The New Yorker:
You may remember Emma Green from her May 2021 Badlantic banger “The Liberals Who Can’t Quit Lockdown,” about the hysterical leftists who didn’t believe the pandemic was over in the early spring of the year COVID would be the third leading cause of death in the U.S. for the second year in a row. Green has since parlayed that kind of penetrating insight into a New Yorker staff job, where she appears to be the house Bari Weiss surrogate. Yesterday she profiled New York’s “Gathering of Thought Criminals,” which is just as tedious a gaggle of self-pitying transphobes, sex pests, transphobes, edgelord comics (who are also transphobes), and New York Post columnists as you would imagine. I’m not the only one who noticed that Green blithely passes up several much more interesting stories in order to transcribe only what her subjects—who feel themselves canceled but seem to be socially, financially, and professionally very successful—wish her to write down in the magazine.
Verdict: Great Value Bari’s writing is like damp cardboard and this tab is bad in a way that isn‘t even fun. Skip it.
For Gen Z, Unemployment Can Be a Blast, by Suzy Welch in The Wall St. Journal:
A “regular old, capitalist Boomer gal teaching bright and shiny young M.B.A. students” heard the word “funemployment” for the first time, assumed it was a Zoomer thing (it isn’t), and turned in a dimwitted but basically harmless column about it. But she also couldn’t resist the opportunity to throw in a little Boomer self-mythologizing:
I spent decades working seven days a week—if you count answering emails during my son’s wrestling matches and dictating client memos at birthday parties—and never took a real vacation, or at least one without bouts of panic and guilt.
I’m not sure I’d be commenting on other people’s career choices if my Wikipedia page contained the sentence:
In early 2002, Welch was forced to resign from the Harvard Business Review after admitting to an affair with the then-married Jack Welch, the former chief executive officer of General Electric, while preparing an interview with him for the magazine.
…but go off, I guess!
Verdict: Boomers remain undefeated for how very dare they.
The Horses Thing:
Not a single tab so much as a choose-your-own adventure of horrific allegations swirling around the collapsing marriage of the chef co-founders of trendy L.A. restaurant Horses. The L.A. Times has the story as far as it presumably can be corroborated, with chef Elizabeth Johnson’s divorce filing claiming that her husband Will Aghajanian killed several of their cats. Dane Rivera at Uproxx posted the much more scurrilous version that circulated via text thread screenshots yesterday. Content warning if you like cats: it’s rough.
Would You Use AI to Write Your Wedding Vows? They Did, by Perri Ormont Blumberg in the Wall St. Journal:
Verdict: Please stop.
Pete Buttigieg Loves God, Beer, and His Electric Mustang, by Virginia Heffernan in Wired:
Is Pete Buttigieg our first A.I. cabinet member? It’s easy to imagine this deranged interview starting with a prompt like:
> Pretend you are the epitome of the Harvard Millennial striver, currently sustaining your massive political ambitions as the US Secretary of Transportation. Please cheerfully answer every question I ask, no matter how objectively nuts, with the single goal of bringing your answer back to the subject of transportation.
As Secretary Buttigieg and I talked in his underfurnished corner office one afternoon in early spring, I slowly became aware that his cabinet job requires only a modest portion of his cognitive powers. Other mental facilities, no kidding, are apportioned to the Iliad, Puritan historiography, and Knausgaard’s Spring—though not in the original Norwegian (slacker). Fortunately, he was willing to devote yet another apse in his cathedral mind to making his ideas about three mighty themes—neoliberalism, masculinity, and Christianity—intelligible to me.
Heffernan notes that “he got gay-married to his partner Chasten in 2018” (???) then goes on to ask several barely parsable questions, like:
Was there, maybe, a comeback of a pared-down version of neoliberalism—or at least the hope that markets and democracy might work in sync—when Ted Cruz coined “Woke Coke” to show contempt for Coca-Cola’s protest of voter suppression in Georgia?
Speaking of is-this-about-you, have you followed the masculinity crusade of former TV personality Tucker Carlson—testicle warming and the rest?
If you found yourself asking the U.S. Secretary of Transportation about Tucker Carlson’s testicles, wouldn’t you start to worry things had gone just slightly rails-adjacent? But ChatM.P.B. relentlessly brings it back to transportation, ending his answer with “Maybe that’s why someone characterized electric vehicles as emasculating.” Magnificent. Then they discuss which cars are gay. What about spirituality? Well, says Petebot, “so many important things in the Bible happen on highways.” The man is unstoppable.
Verdict: I don’t know why this interview exists or why Heffernan needed to sit the Sec’y of Transp’n down and say “the woke Pentagon” at him, but if you’re going to read one tab today, this is the one that felt the most like doing drugs to me.
If you thought you could flee the omnipresent shadow of AI through the escapism of fanfiction, then guess again. The Organization for Transformative Works (the parent organization for Archive of Our Own) just announced their AI policy and fanfiction writers are queasily tepid about it at best. This comes right after the organization updated a recent newsletter to remove mention of an OTW board member supporting training AIs on fanfiction, so the room temperature is generally miserable.
The policy covers two things. First, it tries to protect fanworks from being scraped in the future, with acknowledgement that some of AO3 is already in the Common Crawl dataset. While fanfic scraping is discussed in the recent WIRED Omegaverse article, I take umbrage with that specific trope as a litmus test for fanfiction scraping, as it has escaped the Pandora's box of fanfiction into the realm of original fiction erotica lawsuits garnering national attention.
Second, it grants full legitimacy to fanworks on AO3 that are created with AI. This is the point that most are upset about, judging by the comments and Twitter replies. A lot of this boils down to the history of fandom: even before AI, fanfic writers were leery about their peers plagiarizing, which anyone on 00s Harry Potter LiveJournal could tell you. To these writers, using AI to scrape and recombine texts is an advanced form of plagiarism. For them, this policy amounts to a major community institution normalizing that act, which goes against fandom as a space where novel intellectual work is rewarded via community recognition and support.
At its heart, the AO3 announcement sets a precedent for the nature of AI creations that fanwork creators worry that they won't be able to walk back, and which will destabilize the culture’s creative core.
The archaic word of the day is avaunt: a contemptuous interjection meaning "begone!"
—Camille Butera is an Intern Of Our Own
The robits will never create anything like the Omegaverse, that’s my take.
If you’re looking for some sports merch, the Tabs Discord suggests perhaps something from the Beer City Bung Hammers?
If you’re looking for Today’s Song, Music Intern Sam suggests perhaps Young Ejecta’s “Build a Fire” (CAREER OPPORTUNITIES (1991) Jennifer Connelly fan-video version):
That’s the week! If you’re looking for a way to pay to receive tomorrow’s subscriber bonus post, I can make buttons for that all day long: