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The coming booze wars.
Bud Light recently sent some beers to a transgender influencer named Dylan Mulvaney. Since this is America in 2023, when ethics and intellect are as watered-down as the beer in question, all hell broke loose. Vox: The Bud Light boycott, explained as much as is possible. "Bud Light has found itself in the eye of the anti-trans storm. Kid Rock is shooting cans of the beer, and Travis Tritt says he’s banning the brand from his tour. Many on the right are calling for a boycott of the bestselling beer in the country. If this all sounds ludicrous, it’s because it kind of is." This is ludicrous, of course. But I also think it's a sideshow preview of what will be America's next great culture war. It won't be a debate about which terrible beer to drink, but about whether to drink any alcohol at all.
The subtext that will drive this divide is once again that pesky, woke-ass area of cultural elite study known as science. We're learning that years of (often industry-backed) studies left us none the wiser about Bud. Tim Requarth explains the history of our views on alcohol and health in Slate. Pour One Out: The boozy story of how we decided alcohol was a health boon in the ’90s—and how it all fell apart. "Why was it common knowledge yesterday that alcohol in moderation is good for you, but it’s common knowledge today that no amount of alcohol is OK? A closer look at how alcohol’s so-called cardioprotective effect gripped science and the culture reveals what led to the biggest flip-flop in health and lifestyle advice in recent memory. One entity that was never far away: the alcohol industry."
It turns out that health conscious coastal elite types have been both shaken and stirred by the recent health revelations and now have something in common with Kid Rock. They'd rather shoot their beers than drink them. Dry January and Sober October are going year round as people learn the risks of alcohol — and instead pop edibles, microdose mushrooms, or partake in the increasingly popular mocktail craze. While there used to be a couple alcohol free beers to choose from, its now a growing category with old beer companies constantly launching new entries. The No-Alcohol Drinks Market Surpassed $11 Billion In 2022. One America popping nootropics and sipping mocktails in the passenger seat of their self-driving e-cars while the other America tailgates in the back of a pickup truck, swilling shots of Jack from a hollowed-out AR-15. Welcome to the next culture war. It will be enough to drive one to drink.
2. Mo Joe Risin
In today's least surprising news, President Joe Biden "formally announced that he is running for reelection in 2024, asking voters to give him more time to 'finish this job' and extend the run of America’s oldest president for another four years." Those four years would mean Biden would be 86 when he leaves office. If age is Biden's main challenge, the legal system is Trump's. The latest step in that saga is a civil case involving his denial of rape allegations brought by E. Jean Carroll. 26 Women Have Accused Trump of Sexual Misconduct. He Finally Has to Face One in Court. If he loses, his poll numbers will likely go up. Of course, at this point in our American divide, Trump could run from the electric chair against a pair of aviators stapled to a taxidermied Biden, and it wouldn't change a vote in either party.
3. Division Symbols
So many American problems can be tied back to a single root cause: The massive and growing economic divide. Some recent examples of the trend: NYT (Gift Article): Half of N.Y.C. Households Can’t Afford to Live Here, Report Finds. SF Chronicle: Vehicle encampment stretching 2 miles long has come to symbolize Marin’s affordability crisis. "A few RVs have always dotted Binford Road on the outskirts of Novato, but the number soared to at least 135 in recent years, fueled by acute housing insecurity and loss of income." And from Axios: Marfa, Texas, became a famed art haven. Now locals can’t afford it. "Today, you're lucky to find a house under $500,000. Some listings top $1 million. Yet the median household income for Marfa's 1,788 full-time residents is $39,604." (This is the issue that unites the United States.)
"The 'talent' at the Fox News Channel has never been the star. Glenn Beck wasn’t the star in 2009 when he generated the largest viewership Fox had ever seen in the 5 p.m. hour. Bill O’Reilly, Carlson’s predecessor on the Fox schedule and the previous king of cable news, the subject of a zillion magazine profiles and the instigator of a tubful of moral panics, wasn’t the star, either. Both of them were carried out with the tide to positions of broadcast irrelevance when Fox tired of them, a longitude and latitude Carlson now finds himself in." Jack Shafer: Tucker Carlson’s Exit Shows Who’s the Real Star at Fox. (If you’re a racist, misogynist, phony tough-guy commications major with white nationalist tendencies with willingness to take any position if it makes your former bullies think you’re slightly less of a wuss, this is your moment to send Rupert a resumé.)
+ You probably don't know why Tucker was fired. Neither does he. Gabe Sherman in Vanity Fair: Tucker Carlson Was Blindsided by Fox News Firing. "Carlson has told people he believes his controversial show is being taken off the air because the Murdoch children intend to sell Fox News at some point." (Succession is looking more realistic every day.)
+ If you missed it yesterday, people seemed to enjoy my rundown of how this whole tucking thing got so tucked up. Tuck Off.
5. Extra, Extra
Can You Hear Me Now? "Every indicator of mental health and psychological well-being has become more negative among teens and young adults since 2012 ... The trends are stunning in their consistency, breadth and size." The truth about teens, social media and the mental health crisis. "In the most recent data, 22% of 10th grade girls spend seven or more hours a day on social media." (And still, we try to pretend that's not part of the problem.)
+ OttawaTF "And then the firings began. Gone was the lawyer who had represented Ottawa County for 40 years. Gone was the county administrator who oversaw a staff of 1,800. To run the health department, they voted to install a service manager from a local HVAC company who had gained prominence as a critic of mask mandates." WaPo (Gift Article): In a thriving Michigan county, a community goes to war with itself. "Across America, county governments provided services so essential that they were often an afterthought. Their employees paved roads, built parks, collected taxes and maintained property records. In an era when Americans had never seemed more divided and distrustful, county governments, at their best, helped define what remains of the common good. Ottawa County stood out for a different reason. It was becoming a case study in what happens when one of the building blocks of American democracy is consumed by ideological battles over race, religion and American history."
+ Heat Waves: "This month, the global sea surface hit a new record high temperature. It has never warmed this much, this quickly. Scientists don't fully understand why this has happened." Recent, rapid ocean warming ahead of El Niño alarms scientists.
+ Lux Crux: LVMH: Europe’s first half-trillion-dollar company couldn’t have made it without China.
+ Day Low: "Harry Belafonte, the actor, producer, singer and activist who made calypso music a national phenomenon with 'Day-O' (The Banana Boat Song) and used his considerable stardom to draw attention to Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights issues and injustices around the world, has died. He was 96." In addition to all the other aspects of his life, he was half of a great American friendship. Inside Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier's Lifelong Friendship: Pair Were 'Closer Than Brothers.'
+ Life Imitates Art: "'You get an hour to do a route,' said Kwiatek in a recent interview at his cramped garment district studio, referring to one of the museum’s seven sections. “I would do a route in maybe 40 minutes, and then I would have 20 minutes to focus on one piece. I got to know some paintings pretty well by doing that.'" Great, inspiring story: Making Art by Day, Guarding It at the Met by Night.
6. Bottom of the News
There are spoilers in this piece, but if you're caught up: Everything you don’t actually need to know about the economics of Succession. "Who owns Waystar? What are the Roys worth? WTF is going on? And other pointless questions, answered."
+ A fun look at how high in the sky different things go. The Space Elevator.