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Pop Loser No. 107


Pop Loser

May 11 · Issue #107 · View online

A newsletter of innumerable confusions and a profound feeling of despair collected and written by @poploser.

We all have that band we love, the one you keep telling your friends about and they say, “Yeah, that’s pretty good,” but they never understand or appreciate the way you think they should. For me, it’s Frightened Rabbit. According to, FR’s Midnight Organ Flight is my most listened-to album at 894 plays. The next highest is Doolittle at 447. I talk about Doolittle with my friends a lot, because we’re the sort of 40-year-old dads that can’t shut up about the Pixies, but I don’t spend a lot of time talking about Frightened Rabbit. That sort of made them mine, even if they were otherwise popular. 
Frightened Rabbit is a band, but mostly it’s Scott Hutchison, a Scottish man who wrote songs about heartbreak with lines like “I’m armed with the past and the will and a brick,” which is one of my very favourite lines from anything ever. And now he’s gone and this is one of those moments where I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel. I didn’t know Scott Hutchison. I’m not someone who looks at an album as a life-changing thing, either. I don’t know what his impact was on my life other than I really dug his music—more than I dig all the other music. I still have that music. The Midnight Organ Flight will always be there for me to go listen to. This death doesn’t really change my life at all. But still. This sucks and I’m really sad about it. 
At a time when British guitar music was typified by a singular and exclusionary caricature of manhood, from the blokey likes of Kaiser Chiefs, Hard-Fi and Kasabian, The Midnight Organ Fight depicted a masculinity that was self-consciously flawed. Here was a voice clumsily yearning for romance and happiness, genuine and self-deprecating but embarrassed, clueless and occasionally cowardly. The Twist captures the excruciating gaucherie and uncertainty of dancing with a stranger you’re interested in; Fast Blood viscerally describes sex with stream-of-consciousness immediacy; while Keep Yourself Warm reneges on the performative lothario Hutchison evokes earlier on the album, finding the intimacy of relationships infinitesimally superior to “getting your hole”, that brilliantly hideous Scottish synonym for casual sex. A classic heartbreak record, Midnight didn’t navigate the travails of young love and lust so much as trip over them and mutter an unnecessary apology.
This was a relatable vulnerability for the awkward masses disenfranchised by the stubborn confidence of rock music. In vacillating between contrived irony and frank earnestness, Hutchison was a spokesperson for the twenty- and thirtysomethings who mostly make up Frightened Rabbit’s fanbase. This was an identity we could map ourselves on to, and then feel empowered by the communality. 
Housekeeping: I’ve tweaked the format a bit because I feel like you jackals have been skimming. 

Bot fight. Two Instagram robots are fighting with each other. Honestly, the fake feud might be the only part of this story that makes sense to me. “When the legendary Japanese grappler Antonio Inoki got frustrated with an opponent and stomped him into unconsciousness, that was a shoot. When Lance Storm and William Regal planned their match to give the appearance that they’d gone off-script, to the point of wildly over-the-top selling at the start of the match to underline the change when things got “real,” that was a worked shoot. Lil Miquela vs. BermudaIsBae was a worked shoot.” // Verge
Facebook re-org. Facebook decided to get its house in order a bit, which will likely make all their stuff more… Facebooky. These changes could reduce the autonomy of Instagram and WhatsApp, at least in philosophy if not in formal hierarchy. That might make them less appealing places to work, after WhatsApp veterans like Nikesh Arora were passed over in favor of an installed Facebook exec. It could spook future acquisition candidates, who might see the reorganization as Facebook reneging on its promise of independence. And it could hinder the apps’ role as hedges against harm to Facebook’s core brand.” // TechCrunch
Rani Molla
Facebook's reorganized product team is led by more guys named Chris than women:
Without Klout. Klout, which was always kind of stupid, is no longer. I cannot believe that took ten years. “Klout took the entire spectrum of human interaction and condensed it to a two-digit number that you could use to bludgeon anyone who failed to adhere to its scoring algorithm. It was tacky and basic and cheap.” // Guardian
Rapid-pivot publishing. Medium: We value our publishing partners! Also Medium: LOL no eat my ass. “After each strategy shift at Medium, partner publishers have said they felt the rug being pulled out from under their feet, with no notice. In the spring of 2016, Medium rolled out a suite of tools for publishers and attracted big names like Bill Simmons’ The Ringer and California magazine Pacific Standard, along with beloved indie outlets like The Awl Network, Film School Rejects, and Femsplain. All of these publishers have migrated off Medium.” // Neiman
Related to that: Electric Literature does really good work and got fucked hard by Medium’s latest whim. Give them a couple bucks
Ends in tron. It was once the suffix of the future, but where have all the “trons” gone? “Like the heraldic shields of ancient knights, these morphemes were painted onto the names of scientific technologies to proclaim one’s history and achievements to friends and enemies alike. ‘Stat’ signalled something measurable, while ‘matic’ advertised free labour; but ‘tron’, above all, indicated control. To gain the suffix was to acquire a proud and optimistic emblem of the electronic and atomic age. It was a totem of high modernism, the intellectual and cultural mode that decreed no process or phenomenon was too complex to be grasped, managed and optimised. The suffix emblazoned the banners of nuclear physics’ Cosmotron, modern biology’s Climatron, and early AI’s Perceptron – displaying to all our mastery over matter, life and information.” // Aeon
You're probably already watched this, but watch it again anyway.
Cheat legal. What is the legality of cheating at video games (and is that the most 2018 question ever asked)? “By playing Fortnite without his mother’s permission, technically speaking, C.R. is outside of the EULA. But also technically speaking, playing Fortnite without being covered under the EULA might be a digital trespass, or worse, computer fraud and abuse. That might sound wild and ridiculous in a world where minors are almost certainly clicking through EULAs without their parents’ permission, but the whole underage internet exists on the precarious legal fiction that all these teens are being supervised by their parents, who are bound by these contracts that no one is actually reading.” // Verge
Better than cheating at video games is a deep analysis of the world record Super Mario Bros. speed run. This is good content. 
He’s Keith Hernandez. Keith Hernandez, best known for being Keith Hernandez, is now a social media star, which I can absolutely get behind. “Hernandez would not be the first to discover the power of social media — and the subculture of animal photos and videos on it — but nothing in his fabulous life before made it obvious the latest turn would be social media star. Or maybe these days, that is the obvious turn.” // New York Times 
Kanye West in the Age of Donald Trump
The Promise of Vaping and the Rise of Juul
How Young Men Are Radicalized Online Against Modernity
Hollywood Wanted An Edgy Child Actor. When He Spiraled, They Couldn't Help.
Eyes Wide Shut Meets a New Age of Hetero Anxiety
24-Year-Old Australian Man Spent $2 Million After a Bank Glitch
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