Steam Whistle News Feed – December 30, 2022

It was the end of the year this week, for those of us who choose to follow a Gregorian calendar.  To our graves.  I mean, as opposed to a Chinese calendar.  Which will lead you to a grave, eventually, sure.  It’ll just take it a couple more months.  Or something like that. 

It’s been personally appalling, much of what I’ve read from most online news and clickbait sites recapping the highlights of this passing year.  Mostly, the recap has been of stupid TikTok trends, the most sensationalistic news of the year you’ve (hopefully) seen twenty times already and things teenagers think is important and have repeatedly made SEO blog headlines.  Which are basically TikTok trends and new phrases someone invented to explain something that would have been incomprehensibly undignified twenty years ago that people are doing as adults—sober—and filming themselves doing it.  Just a personal note here, but after I hit the age of like seventeen, I had no respect for adults who put any more stock than a mere glance and condescending smirk in the things I and my friends thought were cool and/or important.  Because they weren’t.  And/or either.  Not that I’m an expert on what’s cool.  Because no one is.  Because it’s absolutely pointless to think that your jealousy, affection or some cocktail mixture of both is crucial to how the world and its social societies function as you seek your place in the fold.  It’s just when you’re sixteen, you think this is absolutely the case.  Because you’re sixteen.  And your brain isn’t fully developed yet.  But adults on TikTok?  Man, I can’t even speculate. 

Except 1.) their brains, while fully developed, reward them for making TikTok videos (because it rewards them for doing little else of novelty or interest to the same dopaminergic ends), and 2.) sh–, if they can monetize it, anything’s better than the current way they go about monetizing their life.  And if that’s the case, see #1.

So, I guess I did just speculate.          

Most news sites still want you to think what’s cool should be cool and what’s cool is way more important than what’s important. Because that’s one of the other functions of mainstream media—right, middle and left: to not tell you the whole story by telling you what’s cool, funny, heartwarming, titillating, scandalous, successful or anything else to feed your emotions, which, in turn, activate your rewards system in the brain, making you think you’ve actually accomplished something important in your life.

So, for the last one of these semi-weekly recaps of the year, I thought I’d bring up some of the most know-worthy issues that seemed to either have come to a head around this time, or have had some branch of them become news-relevant in the last week or two (or the week that followed).  They’ll be important issues to watch as the next year progresses.

ISRAEL’S NEW GOVERNMENT (YOU KNOW WHAT ‘FAR RIGHT’ MEANS, DON’T YOU?)

After Benjamin Netanyahu’s return to power—while being currently under investigation for crimes he committed the last time he was prime minster—a coalition government in the Knesset has been solidified, and it stands to be the most right wing in the history of all of Israel.  If you don’t know what tends to happen when far-right governments take control of a country (one which receives what amounts to over 8 billion dollars in annual aid from the U.S., much of that going to its military), read a history book. Or here’s a hint: maybe it’ll, I don’t know—begin to dismantle the country’s highest court, just for authoritarian kicks?

BIG TECH GOBBLES UP YOUR PRIVACY (AND CRAPS OUT ITS OWN EMPLOYEES)

Google was fined recently by the state of Indiana for continuing to track users’ locations after those users had disabled the Google tracking function.  And Meta (Facebook, actually) was fined recently by the EU for “adding a clause to the terms of service for advertisements, effectively forcing users to agree that their data could be used” for that annoying targeted advertising everyone hates but has somehow learned to live with if they want to be on social media.  And Amazon and Salesforce, two of the biggest companies in the world (#4 and #61, respectively, according to their market capitalization), have now begun to lay off the workers they hired in the expansion that took place because so many people had been staying at home during the pandemic, plopping their lazy butts down in front of their computers, looking to further fast-fashionize their wardrobe and keep landfill growth at a steady and unencumbered pace.   

Keep feeding Big Tech your free labor content, and watch how big it grows in the coming years.

TRUMP KNEW WHAT HE WAS DOING (HE MAY BE AN IDIOT, BUT HE’S NO DUMMY)

While this saga has pretty much run its course, I thought I’d remind everyone just what Trump accomplished not as president, but in the run-up to the raiding of the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, 2021.  It’s all out now.  After more than 1,200 witness interviews, 100 subpoenas and 1 million pages of documents perused, the January 6th Select Committee has finally turned in its report.  And in those 800 pages, the man’s own words are there, recounted mostly by people who stood next to him or were in his sphere, or in direct contact via some communication device. There are no more secrets.  He’s well aware that he lost.

RUSSIA’S UNDERCLASS BULLYING KNOWS NO LIMITS (AND SEES NO END IN SIGHT)

This war in Ukraine, I swear to God.  Talk about being out in the open.  There’s absolutely nothing to say about it except Vladimir Putin started a war, which kills people, to capture a country that didn’t want to be captured, didn’t need to be captured, that didn’t do anything to him or to anyone in Russia, because he’s basically a Russian racist who thinks a New and Improved Soviet Union needs to control the northeastern quartersphere again.  And kill innocent people in schools, hospitals, in their homes or walking down the street in the process. 

INFLATION DOESN’T EXIST IN A VACUUM (WHAT IS THIS, SCIENCE?)

Joe Biden’s approval rating has been pretty low since his presidency hit its paces, and while there have been many reasons for it, the biggest one may be because Americans are pissed off about inflation.  While they’ll go on record as saying they don’t blame the president for that, what they will go on record as saying is they blame him for not doing enough about it.  Which is like asking your substitute teacher to talk to the school’s administrative board about getting you to do less homework.  They could give you less homework the two days they’re substituting for your regular teacher, sure, but you’d just be doing more when your regular teacher got back. And until the standardized test scores come back showing a change to the curriculum and the pace at which your lessons are taught is necessary, nothing’s going to change.  (Your school board is the international marketplace, by the way, and standardized testing, the pandemic.)

But people continue to bitch.  I won’t say more about it, except here’s how little Joe Biden can do to help you with your homework.

A.I. HAS BEGUN TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD (YOU WEREN’T USING THAT BRAIN OF YOURS, WERE YOU?)

The largest school district in the country, New York City’s, has decided to ban use of an artificial intelligence app known as ChatGP in its classrooms, because somebody realized it’s going to make kids dumber in the long run, and turn them into highly successful cheaters in the short. Which will likely make it easier for them to be subjugated by more advanced iterations of those very same algorithmic progenitors when their robotic scions assume the form of the little arms and fingers of a totally mechanized and fully-automated war machine in the future.  Because now (thank you very much progress in the name of fame or money), developers have finally brought the ability of a computer program to write a highly intelligible research paper about history or contemporary world issues to the internet for free. And everyone loves free stuff on the internet. The killer robots you’ll have to pay for, but who knows? Maybe they’ll work out some kind of trade with humanity where, as long as humans engage in making free content for them, they’ll allow their “services” to be accessed without having to pay.

SAY GOOD-BYE TO BREATHING BREATHABLE AIR AND SH– (YOU WEREN’T USING THAT ENVIRONMENT, WERE YOU?)

The world is slowly heating up and air, water and ground polluters continue to pollute to stay alive in the global marketplace, all the while likely limiting the duration that you and yours will be able to stay alive on the actual planet for decades and generations to come.  The current administration’s EPA, led by Michael S. Regan, is beginning to push back against the most lax and pollution-inviting policies of the past administration, while in the meantime the arctic’s metaphorical Atlas—the glaciers which, in holding themselves together, bear the burden of the world’s future livability upon their shoulders—is slowly starting (actually, kind of quickly) to buckle at the knees

You can keep your eye on that, as well.