A “One-Woman Fyre Festival”

That may be unfair. Caroline Calloway isn’t the first person who couldn’t make a book deadline. But the disconnect between reality and InstaReality is as vast:

Caroline Calloway knew she was not who she had made the world believe she was. She had created a public image that was essentially false and, when she was required to commit this image to print — to tell her life story — she experienced an existential crisis. It was one thing to post a photo to Instagram with a clever caption (and editorial assistance from her uncredited helper Natalie), but to compile these scattered vignettes into a narrative and say, “This is my life”? No, she couldn’t do it.

And as the Brutus of her story, Natalie Beach, indicates, there’s a semblance of honesty in there, an insistence that if you just believe hard enough, it will happen. You see the same in Billy McFarland’s pathetic stance on top of a picnic table at Fyre, trying to calm a mob of hopeful glampers just beginning to realize they got hosed.

The worst scammers are those that believe their own bullshit. If Calloway had just let Beach ghostwrite the book, she’d be full of it, but there would have at least been a book. If McFarland had limited his expectations, their at least could have been a party on whatever island that was.

But their minds were warped by saturated images and SEO data. They got high on their own supply.

It’s not at all easy to write a book. I’ve done it. It’s grinding. It’s work. It’s not glamour and bon mots and artisanal pork bellies. There’s a reason writers drink.

One of the best free books about creating, Steven Pressfield’s Do the Work, reminds us that the struggle of delivering the work, or “shipping”

When we ship, we’re exposed. That’s why were so afraid of it. When we ship, we’ll be judged. The real world will pronoubnce upon our work and upon us, when we ship, we can fail, when we ship, we can be humiliated.

For some, an insurmountable bar to clear.

The Democrats are Democrats

Is Megan McArdle actually surprised that no one mentioned Obamacare at the debates? Or is this rhetorical surprise?

The Affordable Care Act barely came up. What candidates wanted to talk about was Medicare-for-all.

That is nothing short of extraordinary. In 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the biggest entitlement expansion, and the most significant health-care reform, since the 1960s. You’d think Democrats would be jostling to claim that mantle for themselves. Instead it was left in a corner, gathering dust, while the candidates moved on to the fashion of the moment.

There are those of us toddler-eating, goose-stepping monsters who argued way the hell back in 2010 that this was the point all along; that the ACA was just the camel’s nose to get the government in the business of managing health-care (anyone out there who wants to argue that the real camel’s nose was Medicare and Medicaid, nolo contendre). It was destined to fail, designed to fail, so that the next Democratic President could give the ratchet another turn, so that the Republicans could jump up and down about it, and then do nothing, so that the next Democratic President could give us a European-style National Health Service.

McArdle is educated enough to have heard of the Cloward-Pliven Strategy.  This would appear to be a variant of that. It’s that old socialist tactic, “the worse, the better”, which is why the Democrats were furious this week at having to vote funds for migrants at the border. They don’t want migrants at the border to be reasonably cared-for. They want concentration camps. They want dead children in the Rio Grande. Because what they really want is open-borders with concomitant demographic shift that earns them the majority they need to rule. And the way to get that is to present these people as saintly victims, martyrs of our hatred, all the time. Alexandra Occasio-Cortez isn’t stupid; she knows what she wants and makes the moves necessary to get it. People who take her public statements at face-value, as if she was different from any other kind of politician, those are the stupid ones.

And the same applies to Marianne Williamson, the “beautiful lunatic”, whom Stacy McCain has been giving the George McGovern treatment (Stacy might have a wish to be the Hunter Thompson of his generation). I’m not in the business of making predictions, but when Williamson said this:

I tell you one thing, it’s really nice if we have all these plans, but if you think we beat Donald Trump by just having all these plans, you’ve got another thing coming. Because he didn’t win by saying he had a plan. He won by simply saying, “Make America Great Again.”

My response is:

giphy

Let’s be real here a second. Nobody cares about politicians’ plans. Politician’s plans are like their rectums; they each have one, and they all stink. Mitt Romney had a 47-point plan to fix all the things. Nobody wanted anything to do with it. They wanted to re-elect Hope and Change instead.

Having a Plan is political shorthand for “I know what I’m talking about and am a serious person. I’m smart and stuff.” Which is not a bad position to be in, but having an idea that the average voter can relate to and respond to is a better one. “Build a Wall” resonates in a way that “My plan calls for tweaking the QZM, Snorfhonkling the BLYC, and Adding a new Part to Medicare” simply does not.

So Marianne Williamson is not as dumb as you might think. I don’t know that she actually has an idea that will resonate with the Democratic base yet, but if she gets one, watch out. The Democrats are Democrats.

Has no member of NARAL ever seen an ultrasound?

FFS, you Ghouls:

Stacy McCain as already asked the relevant philosophical question:

Accepting for the sake of argument that humans are not continuously human from conception on through death, how DOES the fetus transition from non-human to human state? What magical chrysalis occurs, when the embryo goes from non-human to human status?

I’m not holding my breath for an answer. But I would like to wonder if none of these people have ever actually seen what a human fetus is capable of doing, even when very small? I was present at both the ultrasounds for my daughters, and I saw them wiggling and thumb-sucking and responding to stimuli. And they responded to stimuli from outside the womb, too. It’s like they’re ALIVE or something.

To say nothing of this, even more obvious response:

 

Why Celebrities Kill Themselves

It doesn’t take much to interpret Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s untimely death of what’s looking increasingly like a heroin overdose as an unconscious leap into the void. When I first read the accounts, I was struck by two facts:

  • Hoffman had been clean, or so he said, for 23 years before last year.
  • The brand of heroin police found in his appartment “Ace of Spades” hadn’t been seen on the streets of Brooklyn since 2008.

To which Stacy McCain adds a third:

  • Hoffman had 50 bags of the stuff in his pad.

Which shouldn’t surprise. When the monkey returns to the back, he usually does so with a saddle and a bullwhip. The yearning to throw away all reason follows fast behind the surrender to addiction. So calling this a waste of a fine talent, which it is, is kind of beside the point. Hoffman reached a place where his talent and his career and his children did not sustain him like another hit did. People take drugs to self-medicate, to make some problem go the hell away for a few hours.

And sure, you can say “What problem did he have? The Oscars? The respect of his peers? The $10,000-a-month appartment? I’d like to have those problems!” But again, those are all beside the point. Success is not happiness. It never has been and never will be. Success may be connected to happiness, but they don’t equate. And that goes double for anyone in the entertainment industry. When I heard the news about Hoffman, I wasn’t even a little bit surprised, despite knowing next to nothing about his personal life at that point. I didn’t need to. He was a famous entertainer. Famous entertainers do drugs. These people are not happy.

Celebrities either start believing their own hype, and decide to pester the known universe with their particular moral notions (Sean Penn, the People’s Commissar of Burbank), or they wall themselves off into hermetic seclusion and grow almost alienated from their own life’s work (Harrison Ford approaching every interview with thinly veiled contempt for everyone involved with it). Some even become the masters of their own media empire (Tom Hanks). But a sizable number follow a path of self-indulgence from their new status and self-disgust for their participation in the brutal circus of fame towards inevitable self-annihilation.

Because Pop Culture is so important.