kids can't read & it's YOUR FAULT
On the "Gen Alpha can't read." trend, along with a round-up of seasonal flavors.
Koch-backed group endorses Nikki Haley
Please beat me up for saying this (I deserve it.) but, if Nikki wins, things won’t be as bad as a Trump presidency. That said: if she gets the nomination, there would be a delightful mess in the race that would effectively produce a viable more-than-two party system. What happened to Hillary in 2016 would happen to Trump (and then some).
DeSantis-Newsom debate on Fox
Whoever had the idea to do this is a genius.
Santos expelled in dramatic vote
"lowers the diva flag"
“all this in a gay voice”
"still keeping Estée Lauder in business"
“he leaves his lipstick message”
This week, a diva died. May she slay in peace. MSNBC did a great memorial.
How China is tearing down Islam
Did you know China is removing domes and minarets from mosques? It’s a very questionable, definitely anti-Islam move to make the religion more like the state.
Supreme Court May Kill Voting Rights Act
A concerning development, which would make it harder for a lot of people to vote.
Judge Blocks Montana's' TikTok Ban
Circling back: the dumb Montana TikTok ban isn’t happening.
Sports Illustrated’s AI-Created Writers
Generating AI Images: As Much Energy as Charging Your Phone
"I'm an AI singer-songwriter"
AI news of the week! Maybe…don’t make AI images anymore for things like the “make it more” trend? And maybe no more AI singer-songwriters?? This is an environmental disaster in the making!
Elon Musk Talks Antisemetic Post, X Boycott
"creates a lords and peasants sort of thing"
He thought he ate with this. Loser! Meanwhile, Linda’s like “Right on, brother!” Another loser. (He also went to Israel for his “I’m not anti-semitic!” press tour and The Onion summed it up best.)
Child Pneumonia in China Likely Not a Novel
This is good news, although I feel like this cold/flu season is particularly brutal. Stay safe!
Popular snack reduces dementia
In case you missed it: popcorn – and other whole grains like quinoa and – can reduce dementia risk.
A lot of people watched a TikTok where a woman shared the “things happening with society lately that are stressing me out.” It’s a relatable list, including the creep of AI, advertising being harder to catch, women not having enough quality men to date, and buildings being bad. But the number one thing on the list? “Kids can’t read,” the creator says. “Students can’t read. Not 6 year olds: 10, 12, 15 year olds.”
This “kids can’t read” trend was the subject of a Trend Report™ essay two months ago, but we’ve returned to the subject as the volume on this conversation is rising higher and higher and higher. Paired with how rude and bad kids are today (See: the viral ballet teacher calling out parents.), theories are emerging as to why kids are so bad today. Is it Covid? Is it the government defunding schools, pushing kids toward independent learning in libraries? Or child labor? Is it that Gen X or Millennial and Gen Z parents are not-good?
I think all of these things and none of these things are the answer. My theory – which is related to parents – is something we all experience and know and deal with every day: shit rolls downhill. In our jobs, more work is placed on us for less money as people at the top seemingly profit off our labor. In our free time, we watch videos and play games and don’t have any time to read. We bully each other across generations for whatever reason, resulting in a ridiculous this-is-in, this-is-out cycle. We don’t have time to have our own lives. We don’t have time to parent.
Imagine then what it means to be a kid today, to observe and learn and witness all this. Imagine then, what becomes of the children, who like any living creature are a collage of their surroundings. Why would kids be readers (Or kind!) when the world we live in is increasingly without readers? We may complain that we want kids to read, yet intellectualism, thinking, and higher education are increasingly being met with contempt and hate. This behavior leads to the educated fleeing from rural areas which means teacher and nursing and accounting shortages because these roles that feel like service work but require education are under-valued and treated like shit.
Given this context, is it surprising then that kids can’t read? They are the actors in the play that our times are writing. They learn through mimesis, by doing what we do. We wonder how we ended up with something like Skibidi Toilets when, as explained years ago, YouTube is a sandbox for children, a babysitter that teaches you visual and cinematic gestures while passing time: this is why kids prefer videos that are multi-layered narrative meme compilations. We share memes for laughs, which is why they share memes for laughs. We have Spotify Wrapped – and so do they. Gen Z are mean to Millennials, so of course Gen A are mean to Gen Z. Monkey see, monkey do the-same-thing-but-worse.
You can trace this in many different cross-cultural ways – AI at work meaning experimenting with AI schools, where students are taught by AI teachers. Employee surveillance, which means kids’ brains will be monitored to prevent daydreaming. – but it all leads back to our behavior: the shit is rolling downhill to them. They are doing their jobs by reflecting back our culture. If we don’t like what we see in these human mirrors, we need to change.
Billie Eilish on Coming Out
In case you missed: Billie Eilish confirms she is a lesbian. We can retract the queerbaiting allegations!
Authentic: MW's word of the year
People are saying “It’s because of AI!” but it’s actually because brands-want-to-be-people, I think.
Jezebel to be revived after sale
Jezebel is back! Bought by Paste!
AI Turned Memes Into Videos
Let me tell you: I love these awful meme/AI videos. Click if you want to see Willy Wonka turn into Jon Cena-Hugh Grant.
The Deal With Cookie Monster’s Cookies
Fun fact: Cookie Monster actually eats cookies. They’re made from pancake batter, puffed rice, and some other random things.
Can Office Design Lure Workers Back?
This is some of the most unhinged office propaganda. We don’t want cool chairs! We want FREEDOM!!!!
Booker Prize: Ireland's Paul Lynch wins
So I guess we’re all reading this dystopian Irish book this winter.
The expert guide to dinner-party etiquette
If you’ve ever hosted a dinner party or ten, nothing in this story will be surprising. But I did find it cute!
Finding Shelter Under a Giant’s Tongue
My friend Constance has a show up in New York of fabulous, big, colorful paintings of fantastical scenes! Go see it!! Up through the start of next year!
If anyone has $400 and wants to buy me the 69 limited edition jacket/bag, I would happily accept it.
Anti-aging medication could help dogs live longer
Speaking of living forever!
"julianna margolis unhinged rant"
This week in celebrity suicide: Julianna Margulies essentially outed herself as racist and homophobic (not literally but…very problematic Gen X behavior that an apology won’t fix).
L’Ecstasy | Tiga & Hudson Mohawke
The Tiga x Hudson Mohawke album should not be good since, arguably, their time is not-now. But let me tell you: it’s good clean fun. “I’m done with this club. Let’s go.” vibes. (Also lookout for the Abra cameo.)
Some little things that are happening or building or “trending” that you should know about!!
A Little Life (Redux): The Hanya Yanagihara classic seems to be having a second-wind this year. I say this as two people I know are reading it, but also what feels like a A Little Life challenge has been happening all year where people read the book and document their personal breakdown.
Enter The Scammer: We love a scammer, from love god cults to the 30 Under 30-to-jail pipeline. This ain’t anything new, but I do think it’s interesting that George Santos essentially got into Congress as a way to audition for the world that he should be a talking head. He did what Trump did but the opposite way, from rags to riches. We should all run for office maybe?
Twitter Rot IRL: Speaking of Santos, what’s interesting is that his speeches with his “Gotchas!” felt so weird because they got no reactions – but people lost it on a place like Twitter. See also: Elon’s “Go fuck yourself!” thing, which got no response and DeSantis’ poop map which got no response. We’re seeing Twitter troll tactics IRL which just doesn’t translate. The only one who makes it work is Trump!
Pressure Principle: I think we’re approaching a moment where the otherwise non-problematic faves are being held accountable, or are being “come for.” We talked about this a few weeks ago, but this week we saw AOC’s Palestine moment and Beyoncé’s Palestine moment. That saws something!
Sheetcake Wedding: I’ve been thinking this for a bit but it went viral with‘s wedding cake: wide instead of tall cakes are going to become thing. I’ve been thinking this since I saw this TikTok in May.
Great Hits: Niche electronic music heads rejoice because somehow Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman” has become a popular TikTok sound to share strange family coincidences, or otherwise interesting ancestral connections. Coming soon: Orbital’s “Halcyon On And On” is going viral for cinematic feelings.
The End of Erewhon: I think it’s near, given the Balenciaga collab that dropped yesterday but also things like pie slices costing almost $50. It’s crossed over from LA culture item to plainly obnoxious. The revolt against such rich people frivolity is coming soon!!
Onward to some holiday-specific items!
Weird Ass Family Food: Surprisingly, there has been a long post-Thanksgiving shadow of people creating and sharing their weird family recipes. I think this is going to continue for the whole month, as we head into Hanukkah and Christmas and Kwanzaa.
It’s Alive: Lots of talk about things living in Christmas trees since people discovered real trees can foster praying mantis babies. It doesn’t stop there, as other creatures have been going viral too.
"did anyone else get this"
"even trump is checking"
“your top artist, Trisha Paytas”
“your artist message”
Spotify Wrapped memes of the week. I too listened to too much of Miss Ma’am She’s “GIRRRRLLL.”
"soundtrack for today"
LET’S GA RA TA DA
"Merry Christmas from mall Halsey"
OY OY E OY
“upper middle class boomers have to start over”
I would kill to watch a reality show where boomers have to try to get jobs, get a house, and get anything in-this-economy.
at Hulu in entertainment?
"People are always talking"
What does Tokyo Toni have on Hillary Clinton?
"amazing mobile game ad"
Another day, another temptation to download Matchington Mansion.
"i like this tweet a lot because the translation"
That’s exactly what that dog doing.
As I said to a friend, Normani can do anything (but drop an album).
"taking a picture of a license plate"
The picture was worth it.
"I need to be alone and listen"
If you know what this means, reply to this email.
And, finally, me singing you Christmas carols.