• The Hustle Issue

    Bad News: There Are No Cheat Codes

    The Hustle Issue
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    Say your goodbyes: There isn’t enough cliché to go around.

    Bad News

    There Are No Cheat Codes

    Each week, I try to do my best to put the past week in context. I tromp around in the underbrush of online news and pick out a selection of the really bad bits. The stuff that makes you long for a dislike button on Facebook. The stuff that would keep you up at night if only it were somehow tangibly worse than the procrastination, underachievement, and institutional irritations we loop through instead. Why? Why do I torment myself each week, starting it off with the darkest of thoughts?! If you think reading this column is depressing, imagine writing it! No time to indulge my better judgment, just get a move on, lots of disappointing turns of events to parse.

    I hope you’re feeling emotionally stable, cause this one’s a doozie. So grab a friend’s shoulder, a box of tissues, and launch a fresh browser window and let’s get started. First things first, cue the music:

    Monday, March 23

    For me, the week started with a new glossary term: UME. Or, Unusual Mortality Event. You know those articles with headlines like “Thousands of Dead Bottlenose Dolphins Wash up on San Diego Beach” that you see sometimes on Facebook that temporarily fill you with 30 seconds of complete dread and sorrow? Well, news flash, that shit is actually happening. Like, in the real world. It happens so often that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a term for these events and a system in place for measuring their severity. Why am I bringing this up now? Because today the National Marine Fisheries Service published the numbers behind this year’s incredibly high rates of washed-up dead or stranded California sea lion pups. The sea mammals are showing up emaciated, dehydrated, underweight, or dead at as much as 20 times the decade’s average, and scientists have yet to agree on an explicit cause. In fact, marine biologists have yet to determine the cause of over half of the 60 major UMEs in the last two decades. It seems like there isn’t much we can do, so please join me as I sit on the floor, pull my knees to my chest, and wail until everything I learned about in kindergarten goes extinct.

    While we’re on the subject of extinction, say goodbye to RadioShack! The company is bankrupt, up for sale, and closing more than two thousand of its retail locations across the country. And if you’ve got a spare bajillion dollars, you can put in a bid for the data they’ve collected on over 100 million customers, which they plan to auction with the rest of their assets.

    And, hey, while we’re on the subject of extinction: the World Health Organization determined that exposure to the widely-used herbicide Roundup probably causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a deadly cancer. Monsanto, the fucking sketchiest company in the world, has been rejecting these allegations for years, accusations mostly leveled by whiney hippies (you know the type), while agricultural laborers struggled alone in the courtrooms. Where the will to execute systematic change is concerned, as I hope I’ve demonstrated in my brief career as a bad news reporter, knowing that institutionally exploited migrant workers spray cancer juice all over our food simply isn’t enough.

    What else happened today ... let’s see ... Greece restated its demand for WWII reparations from Germany. Like that’s going to happen. That said, I’m still rooting for you Greece. You’re my favorite of the probably-rioting-right-now countries.

    If you are not a white guy, you probably know what it feels like to be dismissed as crazy when you’re just trying to be proud of yourself. So please, pour one out for this rapper who was held in a psych ward and drugged against her will when doctors assumed her claim that ‘Obama followed her on Twitter’ was evidence of a delusional mania. To you and me it might not seem so crazy that Obama follows her on Twitter (which he in fact does, you dusty out-of-touch doctors from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) – after all, he follows 600,000 accounts. But Long Island doctors thought it was grounds to forcibly sedate her, dose her with lithium, and hold her against her will for eight fucking days. Join me in a gesture of solidarity by following her on Twitter and checking out her Soundcloud.

    Tuesday, March 24

    Not many things catch me off guard in my ongoing coverage of the slowly boiling pot of water that is the techno-dystopia of drone culture. You see where this is going? Doubt it. The city of Houston Texas has employed a squadron of drones to photograph and track that city’s more than one million stray dogs.

    Big news for web video: Facebook is trying to bite off a chunk of the video streaming market. Dollar for dollar, Facebook’s ads are one of the most valued advertisement products in the world right now. I’m sure this has YouTube squirming, because as I reported in an earlier column, YouTube has yet to break even on their humble website. I for one plan on using Facebook’s video service to publish my important message to the world, which was recently censored in Argentina.

    Even though this whole column is basically a joke about the tragedies of the world, there are some things I try not to make light of. In this case, it’s the fate of a German passenger jet that went down in the French alps, killing all on board. Fear, confusion, and anger about this disaster basically filled the news cycle today. Days later however, it became evident that a depressed co-pilot locked himself in the cockpit and deliberately put the plane into a nose-dive. I see a deeply disturbing and powerful depiction of humanity’s bleak claim to meaning and agency reflected back at me in the image of the pilot’s desperate attempts to hatchet his way through the post-911 security door while the plane was in free-fall. I just can’t get it out of my head.

    More bad news on a Tuesday: Deutsche Bank found that almost half of American households put absolutely no money aside as savings – in so many words, living paycheck to paycheck. Pretty much bad news for everyone: families, individuals, businesses, banks, retailers, insurers. It’s the worse-case scenario for anyone should the economy get worse, layoffs occur, diseases of other unexpected crises effect us, inflation worsens, deflation worsens, basically should anything happen at all. Yeah, uh ...

    Wednesday, March 25

    US military administrators expressed serious concern today about a new Chinese missile defense system capable of shooting satellites out of orbit, highlighting anxieties about global preparedness for the possibility of a new age of space-warfare.

    The UK Student’s Union passed a new policy banning gay white men from “acting like black women” in an effort to improve sensitivity to cultural appropriation. I’m not really going to touch this flame-war hurricane, as it’s totally out of my jurisdiction. I guess I’ll just say that when we debate tactics in the struggle for a better world, more often than not we tend to form our firing squads in circles.

    One of the biggest TV personalities in the world – Jeremy Clarkson of the BBC program Top Gear – was fired after assaulting a set service worker. It was the final straw in a long list of outbursts, racially-charged invectives, and outrageous green room demands. Bye bye, chump! No one cares about cars anyway.

    Sweden is half-assedly trying to repair relations with the Saudi autocracy after the Scandinavian country newly-committed to ‘feminist foreign relations’ cancelled a massive arms deal. I just want to note that this is one of the first major diplomatic crises in which the terminology of social justice positions seem to be more primary than the “human rights” euphemism, perhaps indicating the coming-of-age of a new generation of geopolitical power.

    In a confusing scenario for the under-informed American windbag, news that the US has been collaborating with Iran in military operations against ISIS had white-bread Fox watchers a little puzzled today. Get your conspiracy theories ready, birthers – turns out geopolitical wartime diplomacy is nuanced!

    Three Federal Trade Commission members denied allegations that they simply ’ignored’ recommendations to investigate Google for antitrust, anticompetitive business practices including scraping competitors sites, prohibiting advertisers from using other platforms, and performing illegal “search bias”. The report came from a mistaken over-share in a FOIA request. Apparently regulators haven’t gotten the memo: Google knows everything, does what it wants, and controls our fate. Even as I type this, there is a Google employee literally inside of my computer taking notes. Feeling lucky?

    Thursday, March 26

    Thursdays you can catch me kneeling before my desk, praying that Darwin was wrong about at least a few key components of his theory on evolution. Case in point? Midwives are preparing for what they call the “Christian Grey Boom”, or the surge in baby deliveries expected to occur about 9 months following the release of the film Fifty Shades of Grey. Eww.

    For all the news about transhumanism and cybernetic implants lately, this tin-man – *thumbs toward chest* – has sure been waiting awhile for an emotive ticker.

    Wait, I spoke to soon. I am capable warm emotion: “AUSTRALIAN WOMAN ACCUSED OF SQUIRTING BREAST MILK ON POLICE OFFICER.”

    Fresh from the minds that brought us cargo-cults, massive enslavement, the violent colonization of one-fifth of the entire world, CCTV, and that near-sighted “but our cops don’t have guns” excuse: the UK has approved the use of drones in domestic policing.

    This just in from the sexually-repressed-midwesterner desk: country music fans are beside themselves about the lesbian “undertones” in the controversial song “Girl Crush”. As much as I hope hardworking bread basket laborers scrape the mud off of their Cats and set fire to their Ford F150s in a kind of Rite Of Spring display of hysterics, basically every country music song has gay undertones. Give you one guess as to why.

    Friday, March 27

    Ok, I’m standing on my desk with one of those lifeguard megaphones shouting the following terrible news. Amazon is trying to buy major fashion retailer Net-A-Porter! Facebook is trying to deliver the internet with drones! Saudis considering a nuclear armament! Why are you yawning in airports if you don’t hate our freedom?! The National Science Foundation is developing a method for automatically recognizing cyberbullying; or, my writing career is over! Swedish McDonald’s launches ambitious fashion line!

    The week wasn’t a total bust though, because bioscientists have successfully developed a deep ocean fish molecular serum that allows the human eye to see clearly at distances of 150 feet on a dark night! If you’re at all familiar with my sleep schedule, you’ll understand why I’m preordering two cases of these here eyedrops.

    Saturday, March 28

    I cannot overstate the fact that absolutely nothing of consequence happened today.

    Sunday, March 29

    “It’s always wise to end on positive note.” At least, that’s what my creative writing teacher told me in middle school. With red pen. After every assignment. So, in her honor, I’ll do my best.

    States in the Middle East are forming a permanent military coalition, leading many to believe that conflict there will continue for decades.

    Israel has now topped the United Nations’ list of most egregious human rights violators, ahead of North Korea, Iran, and Syria.

    US Special Operations Command has been holding urban warfare drills all month in Florida.

    We’re the loneliest we’ve ever been as a species, and it’s increasing our mortality rate by 26%.

    But hey, look on the bright side! It’s around here somewhere ...

    Tune in next week:

    Drones learn to feel pain, refuse brutal working conditions! Subterranean eco-hacked housing units great for raising kids! Something called ”Tidal” is somehow important! All the terrible news we got previously seems not-so-bad by comparison!

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