Friday links! Doing it wrong edition


I’m no internetrician, but I think Megyn Kelly’s declaration that both Jesus and Santa are white was our most quickly-disseminated viral video yet. She said it Wednesday night, and I saw it on Facebook before noon. Maybe it’s because it was seasonal and Megyn Kelly is pretty, as marketeers would have you believe. Or maybe it’s because in this moment, Fox wildly underestimated the sophistication of its audience. “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and he’s white” is a claim too simultaneously petty and absurd for anyone to swallow. Also, Jesus was a Mediterranean Jew, but whatever—the point is that our massive architectures of social and political control are surprisingly bad at controlling us. Today is Friday, and the most powerful people on Earth are doing it wrong. Won’t you revel in their incompetence with me?

First, the good news: a presidential advisory committee has recommended new restraints on NSA telecommunications surveillance, although it did not go so far as to recommend that the program cease. Still, the committee has produced a report recommending several of the changes we’ve discussed around here, including the introduction of adversarial attorneys to warrant hearings. General Keith Alexander, director of the NSA, has called any plan to curtail spying naive. “I didn’t like it when you talked about it with your wife between 11:14 and 11:17 this morning,” he said, “and I don’t like it now.” It’s possible I made up that quote. Alexander also said that we shouldn’t end blanket NSA collection of phone data, because Verizon and AT&T don’t yet have the infrastructure to collect that data and give it to the government. That one I did not make up at all.

The trick to making things up is to know how far to push it. Yesterday, Thamsanqa Jantjie—the sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s funeral who was charged with faking his way through the service—said he was schizophrenic and hallucinated the whole time. Today we learn that over the last two decades, Jantjie has been charged with rape, murder, theft and kidnapping. And he still doesn’t know fucking sign language. While the NSA collated all the websites your friends friends ever looked at, this man stood next to the president and watched angels descend into FNB stadium. But the government can’t stop listening to your phone calls, because then we wouldn’t know everything.

Meanwhile, on another arm of Gawker Media, Jezebel has written the piece that explains everything I don’t like about Jezebel. “Any Man Who Won’t Clean Is a Terrible Asshole (Or Old, or Both),” announces Tracy Moore. The ensuing essay runs 1,700 words. She uses the first 300 to explain that she’s not talking about couples in which a man cleans less but both parties are happy about it, or they hire a maid, or the man is disabled. That’s Jezebel: boldly agreeing with you against an imagined enemy. In this case, the enemy is not just theoretical men who refuse to clean for no good reason, but also Stephen Marche, who wrote an essay suggesting that because men don’t like to clean, everyone should do less housework. That would free up more time for pious attacks on straw men.

Why, Jezebel, are you railing generally against a patriarchy that everyone agrees is awful when you could be hassling specific condiment manufacturers? It sounds like a waste of time until you read Kyle Kinane’s genius exploitation of the Pace Picante Sauce Twitter robot. All that robot wanted to do was retweet every person who mentioned Pace Picante Sauce, no matter what they said. All Kinane wanted to do was praise the dark lord Satan in the name of Pace. Hilarity ensues, particularly after a real human PR rep kindly asks Kinane to do Pace a solid and delete all his tweets. You’d think an ordinary person would obey Pace Picante Sauce as a matter of course, but he doesn’t.

Update: It was a hoax. Vigilant reader Brendan (@CursedDiamonds on Twitter) informs me that the whole thing was a put-on. Sons of bitches.

Runny salsa has no power over us. Neither does the NSA, or Jezebel, or white Jesus. The only force that governs our lives is pure, dumb chance, plus Russian dash cam videos:


It seems misleading to call these people “lucky” when they all live in Russia.

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