Subscriber Writing, May 2023
Here’s a set of links to subscriber writing for the month of May 2023. Forgive me for getting this out so late - there’s a lot going on in my life right now. Guys, I can’t take late submissions! But we do this every month (with a break next month for a reason I’ll get to in a second) so just email me the following month. As always, people who used the required format are the real MVPs. Please pick around here and find something you might like. People work hard on this stuff.
Also, thanks to everyone who entered the Derek Chauvin/Defund challenge. It’s going to be at least a month before I announce a winner, as I got h u n d r e d s of entries. I will post the winning entry along with my immediate commentary, and then I’m going to run a piece that examines the arguments made and (hopefully) quantifies them in some way. Sit tight.
Kyle Imes, “A Tough Time To Be a Punk”
An essay on the misguided attempts to normalize and conform subcultures whose sole purposes are not to conform
Mark Newheiser, April Foolery: Man vs Machine
I wrote five short sci-fi vignettes about AI, and had GPT-4 write five more using mine as a style guide; see if you can guess which ones are human or AI
Rob Moura, The Jam Might Save Us All
I wrote a sprawling piece about online music consumption, the ongoing loneliness epidemic and the healing properties of communal musical improvisation
The science and serendipity behind neurokinin-3 receptor antagonists
Brad Neaton, Press Against the Tide at Dusk
A short story about a young woman with depression who starts working at Waffle House
Adam Nathan, Janis Ian: At Seventeen
A valentine I never sent: reflections of a ten-year-old on Janis Ian's 1975 classic
Barrett Hathcock, All plots move toward adultery
Brief consideration of Don DeLillo's novels that are surprisingly structured around adultery
Luke T. Harrington, Twelve stations of visiting your wife in the hospital
Some thoughts on the horror of having a body in a world where everything happens in the cloud
David Roberts, Leo, Alanis, and Conan
On reading The Death Of Ivan Ilych and considering life and living
Spencer Brooks, The Glory and Horror of Dried Shrimp
An essay on the joys and horrors of eating dried shrimp, along with thoughts about how to best use them in your kitchen
Ned, Save our in-boxes!
We’re drowning in email. And the many hours we spend on it are generating ever more work for our friends and colleagues. We can reverse this spiral only by mutual agreement.
Chuong Nguyen, The Moral Universe Nietzsche Made
I revisit Nietzsche's most infamous text, The Genealogy of Morals, and write about how it affects today's divisive politics, both Left and Right.
Frank Santo, The Birthparents
The Birthparents is a novel about a foster care caseworker in the South Bronx with a mild-to-moderate white savior complex who makes it his mission to reunite a troubled young mother with her children. Chaos ensues
An examination of “stay-at-home girlfriends”, middle class anxiety and technologically-mediated expressions of ourselves and our labor
Amy Letter, Human in the Post-human World “Teenage Suicide (don’t do it)”
What was that dip in suicides, that era of relative mental health and thriving? Perhaps it was the promise of the early internet, delivered: a reprieve from the horrors of Heathers, a window in time during which teens could enjoy and benefit from the good parts of global connection and information exchange without all the bad parts that followed, as things got monetized and made worse.
Rene Walter, AI Cinema gonna be wild
In which i write about how AI dissolves culture into formable grey goo enabling a new age of postmodern remix culture, with AI cinema being one of the most viral outcomes as of yet.
Christian Näthler, I Know Everything Will be Fine—Sometimes I Just Forget
All it took was an untimely novel, some outrage engineering, and two missing girls to inspire thoughts of how to kill a man with a garden tool.
Christopher J Feola, NPR and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Month
NPR laid off 10 percent of its staff, got accused of racism, then labeled “state-affiliated media” by Twitter and emailed a poop emoji as an explanation. NPR -and the rest of the mass media zombies - are irrelevant. Elon Musk doesn't need to reach NPR's 8.8 million Twitter followers; he has 135.1 million. The New York Times has 4.3 million subscribers on YouTube; it takes 10.8 million just to tie for last in the list of Top 1,000 YouTube channels.
Trevor Williams, A Long Walk to Bristol
A long walk on the Appalachian Trail from its new starting point. The tallest mountain in Alabama in the Talladega National Fores
Ewan Cameron, Artificial Intelligence and Luddite Futures
Who were the Luddites and how can they contribute to a Marxist humanist view on AI?
Kyle Hatfield, My Condolences from ChatGPT
Are we close to a future where we may have to assume that all written communication we receive—birthday cards, emails, text messages—will have been mediated by a chatbot?
Trojan Centaur (pseudonym), Farewell
An appropriately pretentious goodbye song to academia.
ZEEBO D. GEEBO, Train to Vinovka
ZEEBO tells a mostly-true story about white-collar jobs, the death of the father, and long train rides through Eastern Europe in the Touching Tips newsletter
Hal Johnson, What if Emperor Domitian had loved his cousin?
Two thousand years of European anti-Semitism changed in a blink by one Roman emperor's non-murderousness; one of an ongoing series of alternate Impossible Histories (in support of my new book of the same name)
Tipper Raddle, The Dangers of Nostalgia
Often, nostalgia is thought of as something safe and comforting; a warm blanket to turn to in trying times. But nostalgia also leaves a person stuck in the past, unable to move forward in a healthy manner.
T Scott, On Faith
Working on how to cope with my lack of faith (with a little assist from Sonny Rollins)
Mazin Saleem, The one that got away
On forgetting the greatest idea you ever had
What happens when the cosmopolitan middle class spends decades denigrating traditionalist working-class voters?
Gregory S. Pettys, “15 Minute Cities” and the “Need for Space”
Brian Leli, Body Positivity's Flaw
External acceptance is a false road to self-worth.
Jude Russo, The Eight-Year-Old's Iraq
A reflection on growing up in the Bush era, and why Iraq could totally happen again
Dana Gorbea-Leon, Menudo y Pan Dulce
What are the Gustava triplets up to and what does it have to do with Paul Cervantes—things aren’t always what they seem. Click to expand essay
Alex Olshonsky, If I Can’t Dance to It, It’s Not My Revolution
As victim identity and nonstop therapy-speak continue to dominate progressive spaces, many members of my generation now feel politicaly homeless, which is a trend I’d like to buck
Mari, the Happy Wanderer, Quit, Not Grit: In Defense of Cutting Our Losses and Trying Something Else
US culture in general and education experts in particular encourage us to soldier on at hopeless tasks, but quitting is often the smart choice and can even be a spiritual practice
David Berreby, After a chatbot encouraged a suicide, 'AI playtime is over.'
Yes, AIs can be glib and AIs can bullshit us. But they're most dangerous when they flatter us
Madeline Perkins, Starting with a Clean Slate
Tiny trash cans are for tiny trash, etc.
M.E. Rothwell, The Traveller's Inferno
A journey through the Nine Circles of Tourist Hell
gate(less) is poetry and mixed media devoted to the reenchantment of everyday life
Zack Morris the Elder, "Why You Hate Modern Movies"
Everything you ever thought but couldn't articulate because the problem is so massive in scope
BJ Campbell, Moloch Says to Build the AI
Using the current mad rush to build AI as a framework to explain multipolar traps in game theory
It's Me Waldi, The Simple Framework to Make Hard Decisions Easy
A short step-by-step breakdown of my favorite framework to make hard decisions easy.
Bruce Adams, The reinvention of indie music, chapter one
An excerpt from my University of Texas Press book on the underground music scene in Chicago in the 1990s
Arnold Kling, Monetary Theory for a Cashless Society
In a cash-optional society, access to the payment system is not controlled by raising or lowering the quantity of any particular asset that you can define as money
Jeff Davis, That We May Be Faithful
Continually, daily choices lead to change and to Faith; or why the average Christian is more like Mike Trout than they would think
Dia Becker, The Feminine Urge to Destroy Your Life
An examination of life with PMDD and the general temptation to blow things up
Adam Rosen, What Terrible Movies Can Teach Us
An essay on how so-called bad movies expose Hollywood pretensions—and can keep filmmakers honest.
Crabby Girl, The Man Who Would Be Queen by J. Michael Bailey
No time to read the book we are supposed to hate? Get your summary here.
Frank Hyman, The Confederacy was a Con Job
The Confederacy—and many right wing campaigns—aren’t just bad for people of color, it was—and they are—also really bad for the white working class.
Nick Coccoma, The Best of Film: The Top Ten Movies of 2022
Reviews of the completely objective, totally inarguable, utterly definitive ten best movies of last year.
Jennie Lightweis-Goff, Vulnerability in America
This essay began its life as a reflection on what we get wrong when we talk about violence against women. Bumped from the women's magazine that initially solicited it, it took shape as a more personal essay in LIBERTIES
Theodore Gioia, Straw Ban Arguments
The essay tracks the backstory behind the statistic which inspired the curiously misguided campaign to ban plastic straws as a case study in liberal misinformation
McJunker, Welcome to Gettysburg
A three-part series of narrative history describing the Battle of Gettysburg in detail (the second two parts are linked within the piece)
Mikala Jamison, 'The gym bros all have eating disorders': OK, now what?
Most social media content about men with eating disorders isn't helping them, it's accusing them of bad or foolish behavior.
Educational aspirations are a far better predictor of student academic success than are anachronistic racial categories, but no one seems to notice
Tanya Stahler, I Was Made for Other People
A family dinner with a hallucinating matriarch.
Sheluyang Peng, Carhartt-less Behavior
A "writer in Brooklyn" discusses writers in Brooklyn, Carhartt hoodies, and virtue signaling.
Rev. Joshua Musser Gritter, Being Authentic is Killing You
David Pinsof, Happiness Is Bullshit
You don't actually want to be happy
Matt Halton - The Conqueror
Short story about a movie star's obsession with Genghis Khan
A personal essay about how a hard life is a lesson in resilience and why we should test the strength of our virtues through experience (why elites don't do this)
CEBK, Producing the Body
An essay about how and why the Supreme Court should rebrand itself as a Ministry of Myth, and claim absolute authority over the other branches of government - see the 'stack for the sequels
The story of being acquired by a horrible startup, the lawsuit it spawned, and the devastation it wrought on my life
Part movie review, part analysis of the tragic genre, part meditation on the human condition, part call to arms
An AI researcher responds to Freddie deBoer’s recent posts about LLMs, correcting some fundamental misconceptions about how the technology actually works and explaining some of the broader context around the hype
David Ramsey, The Flood Year
On parenthood, music, Noah's Ark, and our light affliction—of few days and full of trouble
Click Repellent, The Simple and Obvious Answer to All Our Problems
Let's everybody just fake our own deaths and start over already
Nigel Bernard, I'm just gonna say it. Spotify sucks.
It's taken me years to admit this to myself, but Spotify as an app, as a way to discover music, as a way to just be into music - it all stinks
Justine el-Khazen, Failed Unions
This piece is about America's real live Muslim database, the one the entire US media failed to report on