…going long [DOT 25/5/23]

sometimes there just isn't a short answer...

…maybe I ought to be seeking therapy

Whatever my ambivalence about therapy, I trusted it enough to return to it several times, trying other modes that have become increasingly popular, including two versions of cognitive-behavioral therapy. More recently, I explored a form of therapy that had me locating my feelings in particular parts of my body so that I could — oh, I don’t know what, although I recall that I found it interesting at the time.

Over the decades, and especially since the pandemic, the stigma of therapy has faded. It has come to be perceived as a form of important self-care, almost like a gym membership — normalized as a routine, healthful commitment, and clearly worth the many hours and sizable amounts of money invested. In 2021, 42 million adults in the United States sought mental-health care of one form or another, up from 27 million in 2002. Increasingly, Americans have bought into the idea that therapy is one way they can reliably and significantly better their lives.
Occasionally I tried to raise the question with friends who were in therapy themselves, but they often seemed intent on changing the subject or even responded with a little hostility. I sensed that simply introducing the issue of research findings struck them as either threatening or irrelevant. What did some study matter in the face of the intangibles that enhanced their lives — a flash of insight, a new understanding of an irrational anger, a fresh recognition of another’s point of view? I, too, have no doubt that therapy can change people’s lives, and yet I still wanted to know how reliably it offers actual relief from suffering. Does therapy resolve the symptoms that cause so much pain — the feeling of dread in people who deal with anxiety, or insomnia in people who are depressed? Does the talking cure, in fact, cure? And if it does, how well?

Sigmund Freud, the brilliant if dogmatic father of psychoanalysis, was famously uninterested in submitting his innovation to formal research, which he seemed to consider mere bean-counting in the face of his cerebral excavations of the unconscious. Presented with encouraging research that did emerge, Freud responded that he did not “put much value on these confirmations because the wealth of reliable observations on which these assertions rest make them independent of experimental verification.” A certain skepticism of the scientific method could be found in psychoanalytic circles well into the late 20th century, says Andrew Gerber, the president and medical director of a psychiatric treatment center in New Canaan, Conn., who pursued the use of neuroimaging to research the efficacy of therapy. “At my graduation from psychoanalytic training, a supervising analyst said to me, ‘Your analysis will cure you of the need to do research.’”

…it’s certainly tempting to make some snarky comparison to the “do your own research” crowd…their “analysis”…& what might “cure” them…but…that might be unfair…& would probably miss the point

Over time, formal psychoanalysis has largely given way to less-​libido-focused talk therapies, including psychodynamic therapy, a shorter-term practice that also focuses on habits and defenses developed earlier in life, and cognitive-behavioral therapy, which helps people learn to replace negative thought patterns with more positive ones. Hundreds of clinical trials have now been conducted on various forms of talk therapy, and on the whole, the vast body of research is quite clear: Talk therapy works, which is to say that people who undergo therapy have a higher chance of improving their mental health than those who do not.

That conviction gained momentum in 1977, when the psychologists Mary Lee Smith and Gene V. Glass published the most statistically sophisticated analysis on the subject until that point. They looked at some 400 studies in a paper known as a meta-analysis — a term Glass coined — and found that among the “neurotics” and “psychotics” who had undergone various kinds of talk therapy, the typical patient fared better than 75 percent of those with similar diagnoses who went untreated. The finding that therapy has real benefits was replicated numerous times in subsequent years, in analyses applied to patients with anxiety, depression and other prevalent disorders.

…but…there are a lot of points…& it’s possible they aren’t as equal as advertised

Wampold is best known for research suggesting that all types of evidence-based talk therapies work equally well, a controversial phenomenon known as the Dodo Bird effect. (The effect takes its name from the Dodo in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” who, when asked to judge a race, decrees, “Everybody has won, and all must have prizes!”) Hash out your childhood with a psychodynamic therapist, write down probabilities of feared outcomes with a cognitive-behavioral therapist, work on your boundaries with an interpersonal therapist — they will all yield equally positive results, found Wampold and others who have replicated his work.

But there are reasons to think that this picture of therapy overpromises. As is true of much research, studies with less positive or striking results often go unpublished, so the body of scholarly work on therapy may show inflated effects. And researchers who look at different studies or choose different methods of data analysis have generated more conservative findings. Pim Cuijpers, a professor of clinical psychology at Vrije University in Amsterdam, co-wrote a 2021 meta-analysis confirming that therapy was effective in treating depression compared with controls, but he also found that more than half of the patients receiving therapy had little or no benefit and that only a third entered “remission” (meaning their symptoms lessened enough that they no longer met the study’s criteria for depression). Given that the patients were assessed just one to three months after treatment started, Cuijpers said he considered those results “a good success rate,” but he also noted that “more effective treatments are clearly needed” because so many patients did not meaningfully benefit. A blunter assessment of short-term therapies appears in a 2022 paper published by Falk Leichsenring and Christiane Steinert, psychotherapists and researchers affiliated with universities in Germany, who surveyed studies comprising some 650,000 patients suffering from a broad range of mental illnesses. “After more than half a century of research” and “millions of invested funds,” they wrote, the impact that therapy (and medication, for that matter) had on patients’ symptoms was “limited.”

Such different interpretations of the data persist in part because of some of the field’s particular research challenges, starting with what constitutes a suitable control group. Many researchers put half the people who sign up to participate in a trial on a waiting list, in order to use that cohort as a control group. But critics of that method argue that languishing on a waiting list puts patients in an uncomfortable state of limbo, or makes them less likely to seek help from other sources, thus inflating the difference between their well-being and the well-being of those who received care. Other researchers try to provide a control group by offering a neutral nontherapy therapy, but even those are thought to have some placebo effect, which could make the effect of therapy look smaller than it really is. (One researcher, in trying to devise a neutral form of therapy to serve as a control, even managed to stumble on a practice that improved patients’ well-being about as well as established therapies.)

…it’s an interesting piece…but…might end up providing more questions than answers…which…well…I might find to be a familiar feeling

Most studies do not break down the results of various psychotherapies by type of patient — by gender, for example, or comorbidities, or age of onset of illness. The trials are too small to generate statistically meaningful results for those categories. Driessen and colleagues are undertaking the ambitious task of going back to the researchers on at least 100 trials to procure identifying details about patients, so that their samples will be large enough to allow them to determine whether certain kinds of people are more likely to respond to one kind of therapy or another. The project will most likely be underway for a decade before they can tease out matches between practice and patient.

Another growing school of research, meanwhile, hopes to move practitioners away from adhering strictly to one school or another, by identifying the most effective components of each — the practice of exposing patients to the sources of their fears, for example, or examining relationship patterns. But Wampold believes that eventually these researchers will simply land, with their collection of techniques, on yet another form of therapy that proves about as effective as all the others.

…either way…did not expect it to take a turn in the direction of jeet kun do…though…I guess there are other things that approach might bring to mind

The answer struck me as yet another frustrating unknown in the field. I had perhaps — as a longtime consumer of therapy in search of reassurance — hit my limit with the disputes among the various clinicians and researchers, the caveats and the debates over methodology. “The research seems very … baggy,” I said, not bothering to hide my frustration. “It’s not very satisfying.” I could practically hear a smile on the other end of the phone. “Well, thank you,” Anderson said. “That’s what makes this research so interesting. That there are no simple answers, right?”

A handful of well-chosen words — and I felt soothed, even touched by his positivity, which included, with that question mark at the end of his sentence, a hint of inclusiveness. Confronted with my clear annoyance, he had offered me a nondefensive, constructive and positive response. We were in this together.

The exchange made me think of the best hours I have spent in therapy, times when I felt the depth of a therapist’s caring, or experienced the reframing of a particular thought that I hadn’t even known could be cast in so different a light. The therapist Stephen Mitchell has described therapy as a “shared effort to understand and make use of the pains and pleasures of life’s experiences.” Therapy, in his language, is not a practice that tries to fix any one thing, but one that aspires to help its participants build the most out of the challenges that face them.


…&…opinions differ…hence that scene in archer where three of the guys “talk it out” when they’re supposed to be supporting a mission…leading to a bit of dialogue it’s too early for me to have enough brain online to find online as a clip…but…goes approximately “you did it without therapy […] with something better…informal guy talk”…which, according to their self-diagnosis…”is like therapy, but with fewer credentials, and a completely random success rate”…though…some days…I’m not altogether sure that less random or more credentials are necessarily indications of an improved rate of success…or even degree…but…as with so much…that might depend on who you ask

This shift is striking.

In 2012, for example, white evangelicals — a hard-core Republican constituency — made up the same proportion of the electorate as the religiously unaffiliated: agnostics, atheists and the nonreligious. Both groups stood at roughly 19 percent of the population.

By 2022, according to the Public Religion Research Institute (better known as P.R.R.I.), the percentage of white evangelicals had fallen to 13.6 percent, while those with little or no interest in religion and more progressive inclinations had surged to 26.8 percent of the population.
“I think it’s a real shift,” [Brian] Schaffner [a political scientist at Tufts who oversees the study] wrote in an email, quoting an analysis from December 2022 by John Burn-Murdoch of The Financial Times, “Millennials Are Shattering the Oldest Rule in Politics”:

If millennials’ liberal inclinations are merely a result of this age effect, then at age 35 they too should be around five points less conservative than the national average and can be relied upon to gradually become more conservative. In fact, they’re more like 15 points less conservative and in both Britain and the U.S. are by far the least conservative 35-year-olds in recorded history.


Because the population is very big and turnout rates tend to be much higher for older adults, these trends can be slow to lead to significant gains. For example, in 2018, I applied a life expectancy model to our C.E.S. data and using that model I calculated that it would take more than 20 years for Democrats to gain just 3 percentage points on their vote share from differential mortality.


Those gains could easily be offset by Republicans doing a bit better among other groups. For example, part of what has helped them in recent elections is that even while the share of the population who are non-college white people is in decline, it is still a large group that (1) has come to vote more Republican in the past decade and (2) has seen its turnout rate increase during the same period.

…begs a question or two

So why haven’t Democrats returned to the kind of majority status the party enjoyed from the 1930s to the mid-1960s? Why does the conservative coalition that emerged in the late 1960s remain a competitive force in 2023?

One answer came from Geoffrey Layman, a political scientist at Notre Dame, who noted in an email:

As whites’ and white Christians’ numbers have declined, their sense of threat and anxiety over losing their dominant position in American society and culture has increased, making conservatism and the Republican Party (particularly Republican candidates like Trump who promise to restore that dominant position) more attractive to them.

Layman cited 2000 and 2020 data from American National Election Studies to prove his point:

White working-class people, white evangelicals, white Catholics and white Christians in general all voted significantly more Republican in 2020 than in 2000. White people with no college education: 56 percent for Bush in 2000, 68 percent for Trump in 2020. White evangelicals who regularly attend church: 75 percent for Bush in 2000, 89 percent for Trump in 2020. White Catholics who regularly attend church: 56 percent for Bush in 2000, 67 percent for Trump in 2020.

The big picture, Layman concluded, “is that religious, demographic and socioeconomic trends that seem to bode very well for the Democrats and very poorly for the Republicans have not yet had the expected effects because there has been a countermobilization toward the G.O.P. among the declining groups.”

Those countervailing trends have left the two parties in about the same competitive balance as in 2000. However, as the pro-Democratic sociodemographic trends continue, it will become increasingly difficult for the G.O.P. to stay nationally competitive with a base of just white working-class people, devout white Christians and older white people. The Republicans are starting to max out their support among these groups.

The white backlash to the growing strength of liberal constituencies not only prompted conservative voters to back Republicans by higher margins; they also turned out to vote at exceptionally high rates to make up for their falling share of the electorate.

Robert Jones, founder and president of P.R.R.I., pointed out by email that both white Protestant and white Catholic Christians punch well above their weight on Election Day: “Key white Christian subgroups — which strongly supported Trump and Republicans — were significantly overrepresented in the electorate compared to their proportion of the population.”

He cited poll data that showed

White evangelicals: proportion of population in 2020, 14 percent, proportion of voters, 22 percent. White Catholics: proportion of population in 2020, 12 percent, proportion of voters, 16 percent.

In contrast, Jones wrote, nonreligious voters are somewhat underrepresented on Election Day: “Religiously unaffiliated: proportion of population in 2020, 23 percent, proportion of voters, 21 percent.”

White Christians are, in effect, engaged in a herculean struggle to maintain political power.

“As recently as 2008, when our first Black president was elected, the U.S. was a majority (54 percent) white Christian country,” Jones wrote. “By 2014, that proportion had dropped to 47 percent. Today, the 2022 Census of American Religion shows that figure has dropped further to 42 percent.”

The Southern Baptist Convention, Jones continued, “the largest white evangelical denomination, has now lost more than 3 million members since its peak in the early 2000s.”

…not that you’d know it from all the thoughts & prayers doing the rounds…but…you’ll never guess what queers the pitch

In addition, [Ryan] Burge [a political scientist at Eastern Illinois University who has conducted extensive research on partisan trends among various religious denominations] argued, it’s important to distinguish between consciously secular atheists and agnostics and more passive men and women who have simply lost interest in religion.

Most of the nones — around 60 percent — are nothing in particular. They are incredibly disengaged from the political process. They don’t go to school board meetings. They don’t put up political yard signs. Which means that their voter turnout is very low. They also aren’t die-hard Democrats. In 2020, they were no more than 64 percent for Biden.


…how is it at every turn it seems like people who don’t much care keep handing the reins to people who…shouldn’t be in charge of shit?

I first saw it while working the rope line at a monster-truck rally during the 2016 campaign by my husband, Tim, for Wyoming’s lone congressional seat. As Tim and I and our boys made our way down the line, shaking hands and passing out campaign material, a burly man wearing a “God bless America” T-shirt and a cross around his neck said something like, “He’s got my vote if he keeps those [epithet] out of office,” using a racial slur. What followed was an uncomfortable master class in racism and xenophobia as the man decanted the reasons our country is going down the tubes. God bless America.

I now understand the ugliness I heard was part of a current of Christian nationalism fomenting beneath the surface. It had been there all the time. The rope line rant was a mission statement for the disaffected, the overlooked, the frightened. It was also an expression of solidarity with a candidate like Donald Trump who gave a name to a perceived enemy: people who do not look like us or share our beliefs. Immigrants are taking our guns. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. You are not safe in your home. Religious freedom is on the gallows. Vote for me.
What’s changed is the rise of Christian nationalism — the belief, as recently described by the Georgetown University professor and author Paul D. Miller, that “America is a ‘Christian nation’ and that the government should keep it that way.” Gone are the days when a lawmaker might be circumspect about using his or her faith as a vehicle to garner votes. It’s been a drastic and destructive departure from the boring, substantive lawmaking to which I was accustomed. Christian nationalists have hijacked both my Republican Party and my faith community by blurring the lines between church and government and in the process rebranding our state’s identity.
Rural states are particularly vulnerable to the promise of Christian nationalism. In Wyoming, we are white (more than 92 percent) and love God (71 percent identified as Christian in 2014, according to the Pew Research Center) and Mr. Trump (seven in 10 voters picked him in 2020).

The result is bad church and bad law. “God, guns and Trump” is an omnipresent bumper sticker here, the new trinity. The evangelical church has proved to be a supplicating audience for the Christian nationalist roadshow. Indeed, it is unclear to me many Sundays whether we are hearing a sermon or a stump speech.

Christians electing candidates who reflect godly values is a good thing. […] Yet Christian nationalism has nothing to do with Christianity and everything to do with control.

In last year’s elections, candidates running on a Christian nationalist platform used fear plus the promise of power to attract votes. Their ads warned about government overreach, religious persecution, mask mandates, threats from immigrants and election fraud. A candidate for secretary of state, an election denier named Chuck Gray, hosted at least one free screening in a church of the roundly debunked film “2,000 Mules,” about alleged voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election. (He won the general election unopposed and is now next in line to the governorship.)
Yet fear (and loathing for Ms. Cheney, who voted to impeach Mr. Trump and dared to call him “unfit for office”) led to a record voter turnout in the August primary. The Trumpist candidate, Harriet Hageman, trounced Ms. Cheney. Almost half of the Wyoming House members were new. At least one-third of them align with the Freedom Caucus, a noisy group unafraid to manipulate Scripture for political gain under a banner of preserving a godly nation.

The impact of this new breed of lawmakers has been swift. Wyomingites got a very real preview this past legislative session of the hazards of one-size-fits-all nationalized policies that ignore the nuances of our state. ‌Last year, maternity wards closed in two sparsely populated communities, further expanding our maternity desert. Yet in debating a bill to provide some relief to new moms by extending Medicaid’s postpartum coverage, a freshman member of the State House, Jeanette Ward, invoked a brutally narrow view of the Bible. “Cain commented to God, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’” she said. “The obvious answer is no. No, I am not my brother’s keeper. But just don’t kill him.”

I recently attended a conference devoted to spiritual maturity. Of the attendees, a large percentage were pastors. Some had flown in, seeking anonymity for fear of job loss or reprisal. Many had dared to raise hard questions, challenging their congregation to think deeply about immigration, puzzle through the church’s treatment of the L.G.B.T.Q. community, to dive into Scripture and to find answers.

For some, just making the suggestion had put their neck on the line. One pastor was recently fired. Another, who was nearing the end of his career, lamented: Where did I go wrong in my teaching? Am I complicit in this movement? Have I created this monster? I have failed my flock.

I can think of no better illustration of the calamitous force of Christian nationalism than a room full of faith leaders, regret lined deep in their brows, expressing shame and disappointment in those they were called to lead.


…much like company…which sort of faith you keep can be…enlightening

…it’s a whole thread…couple of dozen & change…with links to articles she’s written…&…certainly provides a fair bit of context…pretty much entirely of the damning variety, as it happens

…so…where was I?

The World Meteorological Organization, in an updated report, tallied nearly 12,000 extreme weather, climate and water-related events over the past half-century around the globe that have killed more than 2 million people and caused economic damage of $4.3 trillion.

The stark recap from WMO came as it opened its four-yearly congress among member countries, pressing the message that more needs to be done to improve alert systems for extreme weather events by a target date of 2027.


…god damn it?

President Joe Biden said Wednesday that American schools have turned into “killing fields” in the year since a mass shooter gunned down nineteen students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
“Too many everyday places have become killing fields in communities across America,” Biden said in somber remarks marking the anniversary of the shooting. “And in each place, we hear the same message: ‘Do something. ‘For God’s sake, just do something.”


…just who’s god are we talking?

…some people…will take any old shit on faith, apparently

…&…well…misery loves company

Neil Gorsuch Has Given Himself Away [NYT]

…& judging by the incidence of short-term memory loss…way more folks on the right are smoking inadvisable quantities of weed…might even be passing that dutchie, too

…I mean…I get it…a lot’s been going on…it’s hard to keep track…much less keep up…not least when you consider we might only be seeing the tip of that iceberg

…look…you can go check the whole 250 page deal out for $5 over substack way…or read the whole thread…which I’ve barely gotten in to…of which more, anon…or you can assume you already know it all…which you might…if you’ve been paying close enough attention to the less loudly declared aspects of various investigations…it’s not like there weren’t plenty of flags on the play

[cf. dr wheeler]

…skipping ahead a little

…as must by now be obvious…one of the problems with trying to outline something that’s too big a picture to fit comfortably on the page…or in the mind…let alone on fucking twitter…is that when it’s also utterly fucking batshit crazy…you…tend to sound like a crazy person well before you get to the end

…so…on the one hand…I feel like I know how seth feels…even if I’m not planning on publishing “the long version” of any of these interminable posts I keep throwing up…but…on the other hand

Trump to appear by video to hear order barring him from disclosing evidence [Guardian]

…won’t somebody please think of the children

US surgeon general issues advisory on ‘profound’ risks of child social media use [Guardian]

…or…failing that…just quit listening to snakes peddling snake oil


…pay attention when those flags pop up

NAACP says Florida travel warning to minorities is to get people to ‘buckle in’ [Guardian]

…not fall for the same shit over & over


…not least when it’s completely predictable

Google is failing to uphold post-Roe privacy pledge, Democrats say [WaPo]

…because this shit ain’t headed anyplace I’d think of as good right now

US lawmakers blame each other for debt ceiling standoff: ‘They are not negotiating’ [Guardian]

…& we’ve seen how that impacts fucking idiots who think they have all the answers & have no interest in what anyone or anything might have to say about why they’re so entirely full of shit it’s a god-damn miracle they haven’t exploded like a beached orange whale left in the sun too long


…& much like that whale…cleanup is gonna be a cast iron bitch…so…I guess it’s once more time to put [this] up & shut up…& go look for something better to listen to…to fill the gap between me going on again…& anything better minds might have to say today?

…wish it didn’t sound like an echo of a reasonably-founded take on media coverage of complicated shit with all manner of devils in the details…but…at least the band plays on?



  1. I would love to read a good, meaty and juicy, biography of Rudy Giuliani. From his crusading and media-savvy Elaine’s and Rao’s regular and prosecutor of the Mob image from the 1980s to whatever he’s become now. This man was the Mayor of New York City for two terms in the 1990s. And then he ushered in Bloomberg, who we had for a rule-bending three terms. Where did it all go so wrong, Rudy?

    • …would be a fascinating read, I expect…& probably worth it on principle…after all, they do say that those who refuse to learn from the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them…& it feels like one collude-y rudy is more than enough for that purpose?

      • It would offer so much. The three divorces alone chapter(s) would keep me up half the night. The first one seemed to proceed pretty smoothly, that was to one of his cousins, by the way. The second one was to Donna Hanover, who is/was a media personality living in Gracie Mansion (the Mayor’s residence) when Rudy Giuliani gave a press conference announcing his divorce. News to her! She got to stay in Gracie Mansion and Rudy decamped to an apartment of friends, who happened to be a gay male couple. The New York Post went nuts. It was the high-water mark of tabloid journalism. First Trump dumping Ivana, and now this. Or vice versa. So many great divorces in New York in the 90s. And his third divorce is still being litigated, because that wife, Judith Nathan, is claiming he’s being a deadbeat when it comes to support.

        • …maybe he’s achieved deadbeat status by the transitive property?

          …I mean…if his boy donnie keeps losing his invoices…the check is…well…not even in the post?

  2. Holy shit, RIP. I’m going to have to put in for vacation time to read this DOT.

    • Ha! I do have a partial day off today, and I read it all – the long bit of the tweets regarding Proof of Coup is worth the time.

      • …a lady of leisure, no less…hope you have a fabulous lunch planned

        • Not today, but Saturday there are plans!

  3. Sort of DOT adjacent. I think shows like 19 and Counting helped Christian extremism flourish. This comes out on Prime Video June 1.


    • I’d agree. These shows both reinforce and normalize stereotypes, plus they hold out the hope of instant riches for poor whites. “Disadvantaged” whites, particularly in my area, are prey for get-rich-quick schemes. Y’know, like the lottery, or personal injury lawsuits. I think a lot watch these shows as “aspirational” TV — hey, if I have 19 kids I could get my own show!

    • The Duggars got their show after David Zaslav took over the Discovery network of channels and decided to go hard for dumber and cheaper. He’s the guy pushing the same strategy at HBO Max and CNN.

      CNN of course has had the ratings disaster before and after the Trump town hall, and now HBO Max seems to have a really messed up its rollout, with a lot of people reporting the new app simply doesn’t work. There are a ton of different systems that play it in a ton of different configurations, and it seems like HBO Max just decided at some point to hell with it, they were going to test in production.

      Zaslav also seems to have antagonized directors in the middle of the writers strike when  HBO Max screwed with credits, which HBO Max now blames on a “oversight in the technical transition” aka bad management oversight over the design process.


      • …they had an app…they could have just updated that with a new “skin” to account for the name change

        …why they went for a replacement app (on at least some platforms) that did unnecessary things like mush non-acting credits together & wind up the guild(s) makes no sense to me

        …reminds me of the BBC needlessly replacing an iplayer radio app with “sounds”…which seemed mostly to be a downgrade…not least since it killed off the arm clock function…but that’s a whole other kettle of fish?

        • Part of it seems to have come down to the back end as far as rights management, residuals, user verification etc. that was evidently not a straightforward process for joining the HBO Max content to the Discovery content.

          Probably a lot of internal politics too where the Discovery subdivision that runs cooking content was going to war with whatever food-related HBO content managers there might be over who goes where in the app and who gets what billing. If someone sees their metrics go down, they can get fired.

          But rather than just rework a bunch of contracts they decided to throw a bunch of conditions on the IT guys and said you sort out how to count this and credit this, and by the way you have to go live in May.

          I’m sure some poor coder was squawking how AppleTV’s interface just couldn’t do what the design was supposed to do, but they just got steamrolled.

          • …honestly it’s all too opaque for its own good at this point…speaking as a lowly user of such things…once you’re removing stuff from your catalog…or writing off whole-ass productions rather than ever putting them out because it’s tax-efficient…while your algorithmically-enhanced “recommendations” fail to serve up more than the same few dozen bits of that catalog to the point that it’s easy to get the feeling there’s nothing more to see that you haven’t already

            …it feels like maybe you’ve lost your way?

      • The Learning Channel was a great little oddball channel on esoteric knowledge before it slowly morphed into the reality sewer of Touch Little Children (inappropriately.)

        Same applies to Discovery.

        Learning is fun, but not profitable.

        So Zaslav is one of the villains behind the sewer of reality TV. Another being Ryan Secrest for bringing the plastic aliens known as Kardashians into the cultural mix.

        • I think it was even more insidious than that. Things like Mythbusters got good ratings and drew a lot of subscribers, but execs like Zaslav calculate that they can slash costs immediately, while the associated revenue drops happen slowly.

          So they can profit off the transition period. Then their only challenge is to come up with another cycle of stripmining.

          They benefit a lot from amnesia in reporting which only focuses on the most recent ratings, so new reality show X replaces show Y, and X gets a 10% boost over the last season of Y, so X gets called a hit.

          But they leave out how the last season of Y got only 50% of the ratings of the first season, so the new ratings for X are actually bad.

          I think one of the bad decisions of Zaslav and Chris Licht as far as CNN is they didn’t grasp how close to the bottom CNN already was, and how little stripmining they could pull off. They’re close to the point where all of their ratings are coming from TVs with the sound turned off in airport lounges and dentist waiting rooms. The superficial programming shuffle where they bring in Charles Barclay isn’t going to stop their fall.

          • …it’s…odd…because in a sense it wasn’t “new” in several senses…there’d been things like “candid camera”…or if you were in the UK “beadle’s about”…that had introduced people to the joys of “being on the telly” while supposedly just going on about their day…but big brother was…insane

            …that first season it got covered by every newspaper…even the decent ones…& people went entirely fucking nuts for that shit…I didn’t watch it & that shut me out of what at times seemed close to every conversation in every context…but particularly in the pub…where literally nobody was interested in hearing that the 45min clip show they’d watched that had been edited down from 24hrs of footage from a slew of cameras…so…days of tape…wansn’t somehow an unvarnished window into the reality of the people engaging in this utterly contrived thing…or that it had not in fact miraculously conferred a psych degree on everyone who tuned in…no…they wanted to declaim the eternal truths they felt had been laid bare…& bitch about the one nobody liked…& they could. not. get. enough. of. that. shit.

            …never mind that the real world was arguably more real & none of them had given two shits about that…but…then came new jersey…wales…essex…housewives of wherever…so many riffs on a thin premise & a wonky format that surely someone had to have figured out the well would run dry sooner or later?

            …still…it did push someone to make un:real on amazon prime…so…not a total loss, I suppose?

            • Yeah, you can make a real solid case that the rise of “reality” TV has been every bit as detrimental to polite society as social media has been!

  4. Well, DeSantis’ team-up with Elmo went about as well as you could expect. Since Elmo fired all his engineers, nobody could make Twitter Spaces work. And DeSantis, who is an animatronic oaf designed by somebody who definitely doesn’t work at Disney, can’t think on his feet fast enough to salvage a disaster like this.

    I encourage you to read the whole write-up. Some of the tweets are gold, particularly Joe Biden’s.

    DeSantis’ big launch on Twitter takes off like a Musk rocket

    • …joe’s social media people seem like they may know the folks at the park services…or wendy’s…I was gonna find a spot for that tweet & some bits about the whole failure to launch…but like you said…it all got a bit out of hand & I couldn’t find a space for the stuff about spaces

      …I blame seth?

      • Has Abramson gotten any better? Back in the days of Splinter, he was pretty widely regarded as a grifter.


        The credulous stuff in that piece about his takes on the Steele dossier are pretty hard to read — Marcy Wheeler was correctly calling it out as a product of Russian disinformation and it turns out the press was right to go slow.

        • …I dunno about “better”…not a fan of the somewhat self-aggrandizing & incessantly-promotional way he goes about stuff, myself…& I would have to admit that there’s not much in that thread that’s genuinely new information to me

          …but I tend to listen to/read a bunch of stuff that gets into the weeds about that stuff & hovers around the speculation/close attention line where things like court filings & other legal tea leaves are concerned…which is generally why I don’t tend to throw that sort of thing into the DOTs…rightly or wrongly I generally try to stick to the stuff that’s “in the news” in the regular sense where that’s concerned

          …but…with that caveat…that thread mostly strings together stuff that is accurate…a world away from demonstrable in court in some parts…but actively demonstrated in more than one or two of those in others…& certainly entirely in character for the alleged administration

          …so…interesting enough to add it to the usual excessive scrolling was my take…although I continue to hope that there’s more to come than I’m aware of…because DoJ needs to have kept at least some powder dry for their day in court, I reckon…it’s beyond clear that copious wrong-doing took place…& most of the people doing it knew good & well they were, as a memorable line from friends would have it, so far over the line that “the line is a dot”

          …but any fool can see that if they aren’t neck deep in sunk costs with their head up their ass, anyway…what isn’t clear at all is whether they have enough Ts crossed & Is dotted to isolate individual strands of that tapestry of malfeasance & convert them into legally binding culpability

          …so…I don’t think he’s wrong about the underlying facts or the pattern they fit…but I will be wildly unimpressed if he’s pulled a reverse woodward & published before it was in the public interest instead of sitting on what he had until the people doing the actual work got what they needed out of it…forewarned is forearmed…& aside form the sense in which he’s always mostly covering his ass…I don’t think hair furor either needs or deserves any forewarning about what might be headed his way from the folks whose day-job is justice?

    • People who sat through the whole thing pointed out that even after he got to the point where he could actually talk, it was mostly weirdo online rightwing esoterica. He desperately needs to connect with rank and file Republican voters, and he’s talking in obscure acronyms instead of just going CRIMECRIMECRIME!!!!

      • …it’s going to be…interesting…as in times…to see how they land…so much of the stuff they’ve resorted to is unintelligible to most people who aren’t “extremely online” in some extremist conspiratorial circles that it’s like a foreign language…not to mention foreign talking points…which you’d think would be a bad fit for a party apparatus that’s long relied on cultivated domestic ignorance?

  5. After reading the coup report, this comment feels rather floofy, but I’d also read the Sunday Times Magazine dedicated to therapy. It all comes down to “your mileage may vary”, yes? I respond to cognitive therapy, because to me, the technique of “what’s the best, worst, and most likely result” analysis feels logical and goal-driven.

    So anyway . . . I gave the somatic therapy some serious side-eye. I should have liked it, because I lean toward enjoying a good shamanistic, woo-woo process/possibility. But they lost my belief in the opening paragraph, “After requesting my permission, Emily Price, the therapist on my laptop screen, spoke to my feet. She thanked them, saying that they probably had a lot to tell us.” Sorry – speaking to various body parts won’t do it for me. But it might for you!

    • …me neither…the feet thing…CBT sounds like an almost elegant re-direction of a well-documented spiral & the ESMR stuff along with some of the CBD/psilocybin/MDMA stuff they’ve done with various things like PTSD & depression is intriguing

      …but…I guess I’m a believer in whatever-works-for-you mostly…& I remember some years back reading an interesting study about the circadian stuff…in which it turned out participants who got rooms on the side of the building that got the dawn light checked out about two weeks quicker than the ones across the corridor

      …so…maybe sunshine is the best medicine after all?

  6. …damn…hot on the heels of the swastika be-flagged trucker at 1600 pennsylvania avenue…someone seems to have crashed a car into the gates of downing street

    …unsurprisingly the BBC consider this breaking news…so it dinged my phone…but that’s all they’ve got…whitehall (the road not the euphemism) has been closed by the met because someone drove a car into the gates of downing street

    …don’t know who might be familiar with that spot…but…there are a not-inconsiderable number of quite serious members of the constabulary in & outside those gates…& over the road…& sometimes a van or two in the middle between the traffic lanes…& a bunch of the pavement around there has socking great walls that subdivide them & not-at-all-coincidentally look like you might have trouble getting a tank more than halfway from the road to a building…but…can’t stick one of those in front of a gate, I guess?

  7. Holy hell….

    Blow to EPA as supreme court sides with Idaho couple in wetland protection fight

    Buried near the end:

    The Sacketts are no strangers to the highest court in the land. In 2012, the supreme court agreed with the couple’s argument that they could challenge the tens of thousands of dollars in fines levied by the EPA. Three years later, in an unrelated case, Michael Sackett was sentenced to a year in prison following a sting operation in which he agreed to pay for sex with a 12-year-old girl.

    Just a couple of patriots, fighting the tyranny of the EPA….

    • …oh, for fuck’s sake

      …do you want a guy fawkes?

      …because that’s how you get a guy fawkes


      …did I miss a memo that explained it’s officially the supreme[ly misguided] court, or something?

    • …somehow this still seems to be worse than it seemed at first…which was plenty bad enough

      …seems like one but of it wasn’t a dreadful call…in that the state shouldn’t get to keep the surplus having sold their property out from under them for repayment of tax arrears…which sounds about right…but

      …plus…yet more holes poked in the EPA

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