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The Trend Report™: Wasted
On how economic greed can make companies forget what they are, along with a trend round up.
European leaders to skip climate summit with Africa
This should be a much bigger story, about how African leaders are headed to the Netherlands to push for the delivery of promised money from Europe to handle climate change relief – but leaders are bailing. This says a lot about the state of the world, from the assumed racism to the inability to work together on global environmental demise.
California to Ban the Sale of New Gasoline Cars
This is major!
U.S. traffic deaths hit 20-year high in early 2022
The reasons why are to be determined, but reckless driving and the pandemic have been some theories. My take? Driving is such a selfish act, that one forgets the power and force with which the vehicles have, that those big dumb machines can crush a body in seconds.
20 Million US Homes Are Behind on Energy Bills
EU Eyes Emergency Talks on Energy Crisis With Prices Spiking
We are barreling toward an international energy crisis that we’re not going to stop, learn, and grow from. In related news, droughts in Europe have revealed Nazi war ships in drying bodies of water. This is all to say: the metaphors are getting more and more obvious.
Student loan forgiveness application coming in October
What to know if you're hoping for student loan cancellation
"FINE PRINT Re: Biden's new Student Loan Forgiveness Plan"
Right on time before midterms, we should have student debt relief coming in some form. This was maybe the American politics story of the week!
"Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene had $183,504"
The White House had a very viral moment with this Tweet – but it’s kind of absurd. More of this in a moment.
"even Ben Garrison can't bring himself to fully condemn it"
"Biden seems to forget Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's name"
“Never getting off this app”
"Not every program has to be for everyone"
Some of the good takes, AOC’s being a particular standout.
"forgiveness undermines one of our military’s greatest recruitment tools"
“fuck your poverty draft”
One of the worst takes: student debt relief will make joining the military on scholarship less seductive. Bad take! Burn the military down!
"This is a self-own tweet thread."
"thousands, sometimes millions, in PPP loans for the rich"
"Defense budget request was $773 billion"
And some of the critical takes, which are all valid. More on eating the rich later!
Former security chief claims Twitter buried 'egregious deficiencies'
"former Twitter executive, its head of security, has turned whistleblower."
Another big story this week: a whistleblower is saying that Twitter is deeply not-secure and that’s a major security threat! (Unrelated / related: a very sage observation that the trans and anti-queer panic we’re living in is because of Facebook’s business decisions.)
Revealed: Coney Barrett’s secretive faith group drove women to tears
Sure sounds like a certain Supreme Court Justice is a part of a cult!
Singapore to decriminalize gay sex
This doesn’t mean same-sex marriage is legal in Singapore just yet but this is still major!!
Colombia cocaine: Petro pursues decriminalization
Fascinating and very curious to see how this goes, should this come to pass.
"the mere presence of a smartphone can lower your brain capacity"
Posting this here so I can be sure to do this when I’m working on my book.
Man With Fever Learns He Has Monkeypox, Covid-19, and HIV
…and you thought you had a bad week.
Think of a toilet. You can clearly see the toilet in your mind, right? You could probably sketch one out pretty clearly – A shape like a seat, intended to pass substances through water. – and could easily think of cruder alternatives, like squatting over a hole in the ground. This may be because of the toilet’s simplicity, because there’s only one way “to toilet.” Whether outdoors or indoors, in a sterile or messy environment, you always have to sit or squat to expel waste. There is no “rethinking” the toilet or how to toilet. Yes, you can add on and customize the experience – A bidet! Steel instead of porcelain! A stool to help you squat! Lighting for visibility! – but the basis of the experience is always the same. The core idea of a toilet – You expel your business! – is what makes all toilets the same. You are never sitting on a toilet, hoping to relieve yourself, frustrated that your toilet is only giving you a foot massage. That simply does not happen.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, that a toilet is a toilet and that is why toilets are great. A toilet knows what it’s supposed to do – and it does it well! I think much of economics as executed by design has forgotten this, especially in tech. Think about the fall of Instagram, which is largely because it isn’t doing what it is supposed to do: allowing you to see and engage with photos and media made by the people you choose to follow. The contract you signed to participate, that you will like and comment on videos from people you select, has been violated by forcing Reels from other users onto your feed, by forcing videos and other content that drive their profitability onto you. Instagram has forgotten how to be a toilet. It isn’t doing its job.
Hollywood has this problem too. The previous way of working – Movies get made, go to theater and video, people make money. – has been interrupted by both technology and capitalism via Ivy League MBAs, yielding franchise mania and heartless reboots. This disallows for creativity – not to mention discovery – making viewing less about discovery and more about repeatedly spending money but getting nothing in return. The soul is gone. You are instead watch hollow shells, created to get you to feel something in the moment but linger very little, without the capacity to move you or stir the soul. When Hollywood caves to the military industrial complex, you’re watching dollar signs and sponsorship instead of art. It is advertising for the people profiting. Cue up movies from UPS next!
We all know the reason for this: the never ending appetite for economic growth, instead of creative thinking. When greed runs the machines, the machines forget what they are supposed to do, which in turn makes everyone rage against them. It reminds of something Bobby brought up when I mentioned my economic design theory of the toilet: the super normal. The “super normal” refers to Jasper Morrison and Naoto Fukasawa’s idea that the design of an object can become so ubiquitous that “they acquire a higher level of normality or effortless familiarity,” that their presence instantly fills us with confidence and understanding instead of confusion as to how-it-works. Instead design, these invisible gestures that intend to make processes and actions easier, are getting in the way of said actions. As Tom Nelson of Design Manifestos explains, design – the gesture of execution – has become pollution, getting in the way of what something is supposed to do. “It’s become a competition to make things as noticeable as possible by means of colour, shape and surprise,” Nelson writes. “The need for businesses to attract attention provides the perfect carrier for the disease.”
The way out of this is innovation, instead of coveting thy neighbor’s accomplishments. Just look at TikTok, who simultaneously has Instagram and Hollywood scrambling as such. At its core, TikTok is a simple and silly video platform that is also doing Stories and also doing long-form video. They’re forgetting to be a toilet is happening too! However, unlike their peers, TikTok is offering unprecedented innovation that helps creators create in ways that bar them from needing production tools from other tech sites and platforms. From the rise of creators like curt.skeleton, a TikTok user who recently outed himself as a AI by the someone using AI to create, to text-to-image AI generation, which allows creators to be their own production company, TikTok has discovered what everyone else has forgotten: innovation improves someone’s experience, versus getting in the way of an experience by copying others. Instead of giving you a foot massage, they’re giving you a really good bidet – and the results are spectacular. Maybe one day, businesses will get back to being a toilet.
Live Performance Is Back. But Audiences Have Been Slow to Return.
Maybe the performances are boring and there are better things to do than sit in the dark for five hours? Just a thought!
Junior Boys - Night Walk
WAKE UP BABE JUNIOR BOYS ARE BACK!!!!!! Arguably my pick for best act of the 21st century, even if I don’t love this song at first listen.
Christine and the Queens singer been living as a man “for a year now”
Chris of Christine and the Queens recently offered a little update on their gender journey, which is as poetic and deep as his music.
Manuel Solano on painting after going blind
A great story on artist Manuel Solano, whose paintings capture a vision of gender for them as they lose sight as a result of HIV.
Behind every Trader Joe’s sign is a working artist who painted it
A very interesting story about the fine artists who make pieces to pop around aisles of Trader Joe’s.
It Was a Mystery in the Desert for 50 Years
I am obsessed with Michael Heizer’s City and would love to see it (but likely won’t). Come for the detailing of one of the world’s largest land art projects, stay for the extremely Times explanation of Heizer’s background, replete with nepotism baby-adjacent privileges.
publishers spent weeks arguing they have no idea what they're doing
The monopoly case regarding the merger of Random House and Simon & Schuster could have big ripple effects for big business. But a bigger take, for someone like me trying to sell a book? This industry is so messed up, just like every other industry.
“Sydney Sweeney trends”
“You guys this is wild”
“no one is cAncElLinG sydney sweeney”
This is something! Euphoria’s Sydney Sweeney shared pictures from a family event and…a lot of her family is in Blue Lives Matter and MAGA hats! Not that that is “wrong,” but it’s definitely a choice to upload that without thinking about repercussions or, I don’t know, blurring that shit out. Sydney went on to give a “It was just a family thing!! Not politics!” while the hullabaloo was people poking fun that she thought no one was going to notice that. Meanwhile, Zendaya is living her dreams.
Latisha Chong, Hair Stylist Who Helped Change Fashion, Dies
This was a shock! Latisha Chong has helped to shape so much of hair today, particularly Black hair. The 32 year old died of breast cancer recently, despite being so prolific through the end. What a life, what a power, what a loss!
Student Fatally Shot by Woman He Stopped to Help
I am not a true crime person but this story of a couple who stopped to help a motorist, only to get a gun pulled on them, is very True Crime Podcast™ madness.
“I knew something was off”
“Be safe out there ladies”
An otherwise anonymous TikTok user recently went mega viral after posting a videos about a man stalking her in the middle of the day. It highlights how trafficking (amongst other things) occurs, not to mention her brilliant way of escaping the situation. Take note, people!
I had a lot of things I wanted to write essays about this week, which is to say: here is a round-up of items that are big-enough-trends that we need to pay attention to.
Fall Of Z: A wave is rising to point out how Gen Z is actually very annoying and silly, which seems to be coming from older persons in the generation. A few examples include the Arthur TikTok account making fun of the generation’s expressions to the rise in parody TikTok streams critiquing what Gen Z makes for Gen Z. The best example is from the TikTok from a creator who lists all the cringe stuff from Zoomers. It’s quite good! But signals that everyone is getting tired of their antics – even the generation itself.
Better Communication: I feel like every week I mention writer and political commentator Jamelle Bouie and how much of a genius I think he is. I love him! Anyway, he offered one of the most eye-opening interactions in recent history, less because of the subject and more about how it captures how people interact with each other (online) right now: a creator who goes by Gen Z Historian posted a (now deleted) TikTok about how racist Irish Americans between the mid-1800s and the early 1900s were; Bouie stitched it to note that the video lacked context of time and doing the work of a historian; Gen Z Historian replied, saying they disagreed but didn’t seem to hear what Bouie said; Bouie replied saying they’re still missing context of racism at the time, to which Gen Z Historian demurred a reply in Bouie’s comments. This is a lot, yes, but it gets back to how we’re now unable to talk to and listen to each other. Bouie does an excellent job at extending a hand but, as we see similarly with the brilliant Kaiju battle viral Tweet, everyone has to have a take and express sensitivity without doing the work – or letting people live and let live. Just because we have all have microphones now doesn’t mean what we’re saying is any good. (Myself included!!)
Suffocated By Inequality: This is something I feel like we’re going to hear more and more about but we’re starting to see the guillotines emerge when it comes to fighting against the rich. First example: the man who robbed Kim Kardashian in Paris recently said that the attack happened largely because the rich “should be a little less showy towards people who can’t afford it.” Fair point, but robbery is quite a way to “express this.” Second, the shooting in Atlanta is seemingly tied to “white collar crime” committed against the shooter, at least according to LinkedIn posts they made earlier this summer. Should violence happen against or toward anyone because of financial inequality? No. But is the country and world’s inability to close the wealth gap encouraging such deadly frustrations? Yes. These are hardly the only examples of this.
Nepotised: Related to the above, we’re seeing a lot going on in the nepotism space. From Willow Smith’s career being called into the picture to Reese Witherspoon’s son landing a role on a Mindy Kaling show (which Mindy is likely to also do for Reese’s daughter), from Ireland Baldwin attempting to “own” the nepotism narrative to anything Brooklyn Beckham related, audiences (and the world) are more acutely aware of how the rich are screwing the world on fronts like entertainment. This reached some sort of climax this week in the Lena “New York Times Critic, Who Is The Child Of A Pulitzer Winning New York Times Editor” Wilson versus Amandala Stenberg saga, which ended in word traveling of how privileged Lena is while attempting to court attention by playing the victim, ending in Lena’s deleting her socials. People are over it! And want more stories like that of Idris Elba’s daughter. We are chomping at the bit to eat the rich.
Staged Plays: Have you heard of the Florence Pugh and Harry Styles and Olivia Wilde drama? It is dramatic and it is captivating. The short of it is Florence is refusing to do press because of Harry and Olivia’s alleged affair, which is puritanical, yes, but complicated by Olivia’s narrative that she fired Shia LeBeouf from that part for being abusive (which was followed by a leaked video of her begging for him) (and mentioning “Flo” in a very derogatory way that is captivating). This has sparked both jokes at Styles’ performance and memes about who should have gotten the part instead, all of which is complicated by everyone being exhausted by Harry’s queer-baiting press cycle. While it’s easy to see this as dishy drama – Which it is! – there is the feeling that these are actors acting, that this is a flawless PR campaign that rivals that of this summer’s Barbie “leaked image” buzz. As Hollywood fades, this seems to serve as a reminder of what digital creators will never have: strong performance skills and inventive PR narratives. This has been spectacular to watch.
It’s Corn: If you have not been on TikTok or online, the corn kid has taken over everything. He first came from a Recess Therapy video that exploded because it’s so funny and honest and very true-to-kids. This week, corn kid came back with a new video featuring a corn dance. Meanwhile, corn content is popping up everywhere, which is to say: we are seconds away from corn kid having his Doggface208 moment, when he pops up on the Today show, wide-eyed, wearing clothes that don’t belong to him, to say his iconic line – ”It’s corn!” – for our grandparents to marvel at. In a sense, this feels so supremely 2009, very David After Dentist or Charlie Bit Me, but with the added pressure of the 2020s, post-Ellen viral star, to be a person that is a walking tagline but also a small machine of capitalism. (This said: his first foray into post-viral stardom is very good.)
Mischief Managed: What brand had the best summer? MSCHF, the sneaker-head adjacent swag agency who have been on a roll with creating inventive, absurd product collaborations that have the world awaiting the next drop. First, the color-changing Gobstomper sneaker. Then, Eat The Rich popsicles. Then, Fenty x Heniz. These people know how to get the crowd talking, not to mention creating collaborations that make zero sense but so much sense. Naturally, Rome isn’t built in a day and I’d be curious about the team’s backgrounds, connections, etc. but it’s certainly been fun to watch.
"Dr. Maya Angelou has entered the chat"
"from the queen herself Maya Angelou"
"Tiffany Pollard at her latest EU Conference"
Memes about Beyoncé being read by Maya Angelou are popping which is crashing into memes featuring unlikely people speaking before the UN.
“The #POV RESULTS”
“climbing over is the scary part”
"Come with me into Rapunzel's Tower"
This one diver is having a moment on TikTok, likely because her videos are fucking scary but also because she’s branching out and doing dives in unconventional places. I hate them but I can’t stop watching!
"be quiet and listen"
This is an old video that popped up on a feed recently and I personally think this is one of the best cat posts of the past decade.
“he kept eating our food”
While I have a lot of questions, I enjoy this mouse’s feast.
“a sequel to Five Guys”
I am one of the six, I am.
“food was taking too long”
Inventive way to pass time: eating your tongue.
"most memorable/controversial moments of the MTV #VMAs"
Fun look back at the breakout moments from the VMAs, which are happening today and it feels like no one knows that or cares.
“The perfect joke”
This is the perfect joke and we should make more jokes about incels.
“Hand me the aux”
Gregorian chant Eiffel 65 is good.
"My sister has just sent me this image from a hotel"
The “rest in pool” killed me. Also, keep scrolling because to see other bizarre celebrity hotel rooms.
And, finally, a behind the scenes look at how this newsletter is made.