Friday links! Rich pleasures edition

It is tempting to believe that as our society becomes more crass and hedonistic, the sophisticated pleasures evaporate. How can we enjoy the incisive psychology of The Cherry Orchard when our brains have been honed to Barely Legal 6? It’s tempting to think that the game of inches that was 20th-century culture will be lost on a society that measures value in millions, but that’s just declinism talking. In fact, the mass stupefaction of American society provides us with rich pleasures, the way Oedipus having a marital dispute with his mom provided the ancient Greeks with irony. And we don’t even have to go to the theater. Today’s links offer plenty of schadenfreude and a healthy dose of rueful surprise, and they’re all constituted of at least 50% real life. Won’t you succumb to embittered satisfaction with me?

Good news for the Homeless Advocacy Project, the League of Women voters, and several other organizations not actively committed to undermining democracy: a Pennsylvania judge has struck down that state’s voter ID law. Judge Robert Simpson pointed out that the proposed changes were to take effect about five weeks before the general election, which he doubted would be sufficient time for people to get IDs. He did not mention the part about disenfranchising blacks, students and the elderly, but fortunately state GOP chair Rob Gleason was there to make it clear that his party’s intentions are, you know, evil. “Enough has been said; everybody’s heard about it,” he told reporters. “No matter what they [the courts] decide now, people think you’ve got to have it.” The important thing is that people don’t vote.

I was wrong, though, when I said that voter fraud doesn’t happen. Suspicious registration forms in 10 Florida counties have been connected to Strategic Allied Consulting, a firm the RNC hired for registration and get-out-the-vote efforts. Most of the forms seem to be the work of one employee, whose obvious forgeries were apparently undertaken to meet quotas. Strategic Allied Consulting—hereafter SAC—is captained by one Nathan Sproul, previously accused of having his employees destroy Democratic registrations. Here’s a fun quote:

But his reputation is such that when Sproul was tapped by the RNC to do field work this year, officials requested that he set up a new firm to avoid being publicly linked to the past allegations, Sproul told The Times.

All this stuff should be cleared up, though, now that Reince Priebus is back in his box.

“One must be willing to be decisive & lose everything although his soul shudders.But its hard 2 say goodbye to this Alexander McQueen blazer!” Kim Kierkegaardashian said that, on this genius Twitter feed that combines actual Kim Kardashian tweets with epigrams from the Danish existential philosopher. Just saying it makes me happy—Kierkegaardashian. “Do you believe that life will always let itself be mocked?” Kim asks rhetorically. “Not true sorry! DUH.” Yet like all great philosophers, she contradicts herself. “The moment of joy is in a hurry, fortune already in flight,” she counsels. “Disregard your deeper self. Have fun tonight in Atlantic City.”

It’s amazing what the internet can come up with. Mostly, though, it comes up with voluminous, mind-numbing sophistry. Ben al-Fowlkes sent me this fascinating article about Bleacher Report, the massive sports content farm where unpaid contributors Just Say Stuff. Unlike the stuffy, agenda-driven mainstream media, Bleacher Report lets the market determine which stories get promoted, which is maybe way “The 20 Most Boobtastic Athletes of All Time” has 1.4 million views. The purpose of journalism isn’t to edify the public, after all; it’s to give them what they want. The people must have a voice, and they must hear that voice echo shrilly back at them from every flat surface.

I’ve adopted a disdainful misanthropy, is what I’m saying here. If only it were not 10:30 in the morning, I would accompany that burning sensation in my throat with its natural complement: scotch. Everyone loves scotch pretending to love scotch, but who can pronounce Lophroaig? Brian Cox, that’s who. Props to Ben Gabriel for the strange Zen calm that emerges from watching those 40 very short videos. A rich pleasure indeed.

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