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Pop Loser No. 110


Pop Loser

June 15 · Issue #110 · View online

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

Canadians are talking about Netflix, taxes and Made-In-Canada content again. The CRTC thinks it’s time digital companies start helping fund Canadian productions, which inevitably gets called a “Netflix tax” and is almost universally loathed because nobody really gets what it is. 
I’ve always been pro-CanCon rules because media decisions aren’t based on quality, they are based on profit, and it will always be cheaper to import American content than it will be to produce things in Canada. (Also, I think I read like half of the top rated shows in Canada are episodes of The Big Bang Theory, though I lost the link. It’s bad.)
The thing about our protectionist instincts on Canadian culture is that it’s always worked really well. And the thing about removing those restrictions and funding mechanisms is that it will go very, very badly.
If only there were a model we could effectively emulate.
Previously: I wrote a sort-of-related thing earlier this year. “But there’s a real problem when people attempting to define Canadian culture use the language of rejected TEDx Talks. We’re talking about what is supposed to make us distinctly Canadian, and, in the official policy of our government, how to position Canada as “a world leader in putting its creative industries at the centre of its future economy.” Words matter, and today it appears that our collective discussion around culture is akin to pitching rich people for startup capital.”

The death of Second Life. Second Life is still alive and creepier than ever. “It was deserted, but remains in pristine condition. Digital worlds don’t typically rot or become overgrown with foliage, after all. They exist for a time, and then someone shuts them down. Right now, “Second Life” resembles a city swiftly evacuated following a radioactive threat.”
Digitritus. On physical objects, digital archives and being human. “While this digital preservation seems assured, and ridiculously cheap, it comes at an unseen cost in effort, in energy, and in dollars. Removing things from the tactile physical world to the virtual folders I cannot see or hold in my hands also comes at a cost in privacy. The relationship we have to the information that institutions such as libraries care for on our behalf is one we take for granted, but it is more tenuous than we realize. And as we push to preserve, we stand to lose the intimate connection that lies at the heart of research.”
It’s not you, it’s Tinder. Tinder’s App Store reviews are hilarious and sad and hilariously sad. “The dating app’s reviews provide a fascinating window into the state of the modern human psyche. They are sometimes dark, sometimes hilarious, and often in between. The one-star reviews are especially interesting, filled with people who can’t come to grips with their own limitations, along with those dissatisfied with the app for a long list of strange reasons. And let’s be honest, these swipers aren’t entirely on their own. Anyone who’s used these apps and has been blocked or ghosted has probably wondered if the app malfunctioned too.”
Not a box. Cardboard has always been the best, but now even tech companies are realizing it. “These 21st-century storytellers turned to cardboard for the same reasons that children have long preferred the box to the toy that came in it: cardboard is light and strong, easy to put up, quick to come down and, perhaps most important, inexpensive enough for experiment. Cardboard constructions can be crushed, painted, recycled and stuck back together. Cardboard furniture can be adjusted as children grow, and cardboard creations become more sophisticated as children gain skills: It is as malleable as the body and the mind. Technology companies’ embrace of cardboard’s cool suggests something parents and teachers never forgot: The box is an avatar of inspiration, no charging required. Cardboard is the ideal material for creativity, and has been since the big purchase, and the big box, became a fixture of American postwar homes.”
Future sex. So we’re all going to just end up fucking robots. “It’s like Apple’s Siri, if she had a body and were prone to dirty talk. These “sexbots” can’t move around on their own, but they can give compliments and moan on command. As they interact with their owner (or partner) over time, they adapt their sexual preferences and responses. Within the next century, these robots may be woven into the fabric of our sexual culture—as common as Playboy in the sixties or the vibrator today.”
Previously: Please don’t fuck robots. “This robot-gender binary speaks to two particularly Western anxieties about the future of humanoid robots: “Can we have sex with them?” and “How long before they murder us all?””
Gaming media. How alt-right Twitter tricks the media into panicking. “It’s a product of the virality-obsessed, soundbite-powered social media landscape we’ve all begrudgingly succumbed to, but also of the media, which loves to work itself into a panic over the success of the alt-right, therein bolstering and legitimizing it when the basis for doing so is nothing but a smokescreen of faked traffic it is unequipped to comprehend … We ascribe real-world meaning and importance to digital metrics regardless of the fact that they’re so easily manipulatable they are practically meaningless. Likes, eyeballs, retweets, you name it — it can all be bought. Yet we blindly insist on their worth as a genuine form of social currency anyway, inflation be damned.”
Amazon is the worst. Seriously, they are just the absolute worst. (Unless you’re using them to pre-order my book.) “Bezos is worth an estimated £102bn, a fortune he acquired against a backdrop of global reports of misery for Amazon’s warehouse workers, exhausted by the demands made on them in return for the most basic of wages … There have been repeated calls for Amazon to improve the lot of its workers. But Bezos doesn’t see the need … “When you’re criticised,” he said, “first look in the mirror and decide: are your critics right? If they are right, change. Don’t resist.” But Bezos’s mirror apparently showed him that his critics were wrong. “I’m very proud of our working conditions and very proud of the wages we pay,” he told the audience gathered to fete him.”
Sorry not sorry. Recapping the ongoing Facebook Apology Tour. “Faceboook apologizes a lot. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to follow through as much. And some of these things are beyond the pale — no executive should ever put themselves in the position of having to apologize for conducting psychological experiments on the general public.”
Vice’s vice has put them in a vice. Vice does good work. It’s also mostly a Ponzi scheme. “While Vice’s soaring valuation had changed Smith’s life, there was little evidence among its employees that they were working at a company more valuable than the New York Times. Smith had proudly boasted in the past that Vice was “a sweatshop for trustafarians” who could afford to work for little pay, and in 2014, it was still a place where an employee could find herself taking care of a more senior colleague who was wasted after a Vice party and be worried she wouldn’t have enough money in her bank account to give the cabbie cash to clean up any vomit. A senior manager once joked that the company’s hiring strategy had a “22 Rule”: “Hire 22-year-olds, pay them $22,000, and work them 22 hours a day.””
Now let’s all take a few minutes to revisit that David Carr meeting with Vice execs. Because it’s still the best. 
Rex Sorgatz
Finally! Even during this summer of scam and era of Trump, Vice will be remembered as the greatest grift of our time.
Metafilter struggles. Metafilter has run into financial trouble again and at some point will just cease to exist. “Right now, because of recent steep drops in ad revenue, we’re running at an $8,000/month deficit. I’m bringing this to you all now because we need to fix that shortfall soon to avoid significant cuts to our current payroll levels. We’re still operating as normal right now thanks to the cushion members built up last fall, and that and conservative budgeting have worked as intended: it’s given us a few more months of leeway to work on the problem, so we can consider our options and make smart, non-panicky decisions. But we need to get to work on it ASAP.”
Bobcat Goldthwait's Misfits & Monsters
🕹 Tedium digs into the Game Genie
👕 David Lynch made some T-shirts. 
🤪 The Jordan Peterson Resource Page. 
👾 Delete is Minesweeper, but better. 
👨‍🍳 The best writing in memoriam of Anthony Bourdain.  
📸 Patti Smith is on Instagram. 
📵 NOT ifications will soothe you. 
Binge your own adventure. Netflix is teaming up with Telltale to make more interactive shows for kids. News of Minecraft Story Mode on Netflix has my six-year-old terribly excited. I’m waiting for the adult (like old people, not porn) versions of shows. “Their first series is Minecraft: Story Mode, which takes place in Minecraft’s world and follows Jesse, a new character (who, it should be said, can be either male or female), in their attempts to save the world. According to TechRadar, the experience will be told in five parts, and the Netflix version of the story will be “delivered via video files and will accept commands via any remote equipped with directional and select buttons.””
The dink for us. In praise of the dinkus. “The dinkus has none of the asterism’s linguistic association with the cosmos, but that’s why I love it. Due to its proximity to the word dingus, which means, to define one ridiculous word with another, “doodad,” dinkus likely evolved from the Dutch and German ding, meaning “thing.” To the less continental ear, dinkus sounds slightly dirty, and I can confirm that it’s brought serious academics to giggles.” Truth.
Looking for Life on a Flat Earth Looking for Life on a Flat Earth
Neko Case Is Telling The Truth
Imagining a Better Boyhood
How George Orwell Predicted the Challenge of Writing Today
Michelle Wolf on Her New Netflix Show ‘The Break’
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