Fever Dream: What If The New York Times *Was* For Sale?

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

The New York Times is not for sale. But given how topsy-turvey the world these days, let’s imagine it was for sale. There are some key issues that are difficult to imagine.

How much is it worth?
For perspective, The New York Times Company bought The Boston Globe for $1 billion about 20-so years ago. It was later sold for far less than that. But the NYT is probably the biggest, most powerful newspaper in the world in cultural terms. So, the starting bid for the paper would likely be at least $1 billion. And that’s on the conservative side. If it was for sale there would be so extremely powerful and wealthy people ready to pounce on it. The bidding war would likely increase the sale price to something closer to $5 billion.

Who would buy it?
News Corp probably is the one company willing to shell out the most money for it. But the instant Murdoch’s grubby conservative hands were on it, all the liberal marque names of the paper would bolt. They would likely start up a rival website that would essentially The New York Times in reconstituted form. That, in a sense, would make make Murdoch owning it kind of a moot point. All he would have is the brand name at that point and, while powerful, it’s not like he was going to convert the audience of the paper into psycho Right wingers.

So, let’s say News Corp doesn’t buy it. Then who? There are so many wealthy people who would see owning The Gray Lady as the vanity purchase of a lifetime that it’s difficult to think of all of them. My guess is either Alphabet Corp (Google) would buy it or Facebook’s Zuckerberg would buy it personally like Jeff Bezos did The Washington Post. Then there’s Laurene Powell (Steve Jobs’ window.) She has the cash and the interest (see her investment in The Atlantic.) The list goes on.

What Would They Do With It?
The traditional print newspaper business is dying off. It’s just a matter of time. If Alphabet Corp bought the NYT, they would probably integrate it directly into their search. That would, in a sense, be the best case scenario.

Anyway. This isn’t going to happen anytime soon — or ever.

What The What? Why Has The Music Industry Been Spared A #MeToo Reckoning?

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

One of the benefits of age is you have perspective on life. This is often called…uhh…wisdom? A lot of men are very angry over the #MeToo movement, but to me it’s kind of like the tertiary layer sepearting the age of dinosaurs with the age of mammals. Sometimes things change rather abruptly in culture and you either sink or swim.

Of course, a lot of this has to do with women’s changing views on the power dynamic between themselves and men in the workplace. Trump being in power had a lot to with it, I think. Women are kind of angry in general because there’s a misogynist in office. Maybe the #MeToo movement gives them a sense of agency that they might otherwise not feel politically.

But having said all that, the issue is, what is the deal with the music industry? There was that whole thing between producer Dr. Luke and Kesha…but then nothing. It seems only logical that women in the music industry would have their own revolt against men who abused their power over them in that industry.

I just don’t know enough about the internal workings of the music industry to know what the hold up is. But when it happens, it’s likely to be rather spectacular. Some pretty powerful men have been felled by the #MeToo movement, so in a sense no one is safe.

The sooner we all accept that and the consequences of #MeToo, the better.

A Few Rising Stars Of Note

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

I’m a nobody in the middle of nowhere working on a novel. But I’m also a nobody working on a novel with a lot of opinions. So, here are two rising stars who have caught my attention of late.

Margaret Qualley
Qualley, who I think should go by “Maggie,” is a real head turner in more ways than one. I was really impressed with her performance in Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood. I don’t shade her for dating Pete Davidson. Shrug. So what. She’s still young. She still has plenty of time to snag someone…a bit more stable…who will help her overall career.

But I have high hopes for her. Her performance in Once Upon A Time was a star turn. I just hope she is able to build on her current momentum. She’s still young and if she plays her cards right she could maybe follow in the footsteps of Jennifer Lawrence. Maybe. Lawrence is, at least in my opinion, a rare talent who has managed to play the Hollywood game quite well. Not everyone is as fortunate as her.

Dua Lipa
Now, Lipa is a huge star in music. But I’d like to see her at least attempt to make the transition into film. Her combination of pure talent and stage presence seems like it would be a great fit for the silver screen. I continue to be impressed with her poise at such a young age. She seems like she has a her head on straight.

Really, all the she needs is the right vehicle. Something that would highlight her beauty and personality. But Hollywood is a fickle mistress. Anything — bad or good — could happen. I do, however, look forward to seeing her name in Hollywood lights.

Eva Victor
Victor is currently something of a Twitter cult favorite. She does some charming videos on Twitter that are quite appealing. In my mind, she’s something of America’s answer to Fleabag. She’s not nearly as razor sharp as Phoebe Waller-Bridge, however. Her humor is rather sassy and gentle in comparison to Waller-Bridge.

I currently don’t know what is going on with Victor’s career. She seems somehow connected to Comedy Central. It seems like she would be the perfect fit for a Broad City-type show. Or maybe Broad City meets Fleabag. Ideally, she would end up on SNL, but who knows. It would be great if Tina Fey would mentor her.

V-Log: Apocalypse Trump

Some thoughts.

Why I Think Facebook & Google Can Read Our Minds

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

I generally do not believe in conspiracy theories. In fact, I find conspiracy theories to be the last refuge of the intellectually dishonest. And, yet, I can’t deny the evidence staring at me straight in the face: my phone is reading my mind.

It’s long been public that Facebook recently got a patent to do this very thing. And it’s also become common knowledge that both Facebook and Google believe they will be able to allow us to type using just our minds. So, it makes a lot of sense that it’s happening already to some extent.

The issue is, I think Facebook and Google (and God only knows who else) know words, but not context. So if you’re thinking about something really hard, it’s seen as a keyword and you get ads or videos connected to that keyword. Some pretty eerie things have happened way too many times in the last year or so for something like this not to be happening. Usually, it’s when there is no other explanation for the content I’m being shown. If I don’t say it out loud, or search for it or message anyone about it, how do I get information specifically tailored for what’s been on my mind the last few days.

This suspicion came to a head just today when something pretty wild happen. I was using YouTube and I started seeing videos for things that are not at all on my mind. I’m not even interested in them at all. For instance, why all the safe deposit box videos? Why all the End of The World videos? I’ve not really been thinking about either one of those things of late.

But you know who I bet has — my dad.

My dad is elderly and in the twilight of life. If you think about it, a safe deposit box is definitely something a man near the end of his life might have at the forefront of his mind. So, the only thing I can think of is my phone is on and near by dad when we’re driving to lunch or what have you. The phone picks up the word “DEATH” or “SAFE DEPOSIT BOX” at the forefront of my dad’s mind and ta-da, that’s the kind of stuff I see on YouTube.

In all honestly, I have no idea if I’m right or not. But it does make a lot of sense. It does make you think about what people would do if they realized that Google and Facebook were reading their minds without their permission. Add to that that it’s likely the Intelligence Community probably has far more advance technology and things get a little spooky. What’s more, when the Singularity happens and SkyNet kills us all…it may not be much of a fairfight if the robots can read our minds.

Let that sink in.

#Novel Notes For September 17th, 2019 #AmWriting #WritingLife

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

Some thoughts.

Oh, Jesus, Tay-Tay, Grow Up

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

I find myself listening to music from Taylor Swift’s new album “Lover” a lot these days. It’s pretty good music in the context of modern pop music. But, Jesus, Tay-Tay, how old are you? You’re a grown-ass woman now.

Not that it’s my place to tell her what to do — it’s not — but as an audience member I grow frustrated with her training bra music. If you’re going to be a huge superstar, you’re at some point going to have to admit that you…have sex. It’s not as though she isn’t thirsty at points in her modern lyrics, but there’s still an element of air quotes to the whole thing.

But, really, I guess if it’s not broke don’t fix it. That’s her thing. She’s middle-of-the-road, middlebrow pop music for people who don’t want to be challenged. She’s kind of the Korean drama of music. So, from a strictly musical standpoint, she’s fine. She can drift through the decades writing lyrics that make 14-year-old girls think they’re being “naughty” by singing them outloud alone in their room.

Having said all that, there is the issue of her Hollywood career. She has all the elements of someone who could make a successful transition from pop star to Hollywood star. But for one thing — sex appeal Just look at Lady Gaga. There’s no question Lady Gaga is an adult woman who might take a lover — male or female — just because she’s horny.

While Tay-Tay is obviously stunning, she just doesn’t exude that danger that is critical to sex appeal. Sex appeal, in part, is the questions someone’s demeanor leaves in your mind. Think back to Prince. In Controversy, he sings something like, “Is he gay, is he straight?” With Tay-Tay, the only question I have about her motives is…has she actually had sex? Even if she has, I honestly can’t imagine her doing it. She’s in a twilight of a young woman who hasn’t fully transitioned out of late childhood.

What’s more, I just don’t see Tay-Tay doing what is required to fix this situation. I mean, maybe, she might drop a toe into music that is a bit more provocative, but even then that’s likely to have a huge amount of pushback from her fanbase. And, really, this is an example of how her being, like, sane and stuff is both a boon and a bane. Her rock-solid mental stability helps her become and stay hugely successful. But not being weird hurts her because she uses the metrics that any normal person would use. She doesn’t do something crazy for the sake of being different. Art for art’s sake is not her bailiwick.

As I’ve said before, you do you Tay-Tay. Though to quote Billy Joel, I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.

Why The Fight Over Kavanaugh Is An Ominous Portent

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

First, let’s get something out of the way — MAGA is, at its core, an illiberal movement. It’s really simply Putinism with an American accent. The whole point of MAGA is to use its control of the Executive and Legislative (Senate) branches of government to destroy liberal democracy in America long-term via young hack conservative judges who care more about their partisan agenda than the good of the country. Conservatives since at least Watergate have felt like victims of evil liberals. The MAGA attack on basic American democratic norms is a strategic and well-planned agenda that was set in motion decades ago.

My current analogy is this: if this was 9/11, Trump’s election was the two airplanes striking the towers. Liberals are firefighters in the lobby, trying to figure out what they’re going to do, not fully realizing they’re going to be in rubble in a few minutes. In other words, America is already a Russian-style managed-democracy, only the details have to be worked out. That, and Trump is criminally incompetent. So it may be one of his successors who finishes the job.

Having said all that, the reason why Kavanaugh is so significant is he took the positions staked out after the Access Hollywood tape to their next logical extreme. MAGA is upset because they see the efforts to “cancel” Kavanaugh for things he did as a young man as just another overreach by liberals who want to destroy traditional masculinity.

Liberal-progressives, meanwhile, are at a loss. They feel they have Kavanaugh caught red handed and yet they can’t seem to get any traction. This pretty much sums up how disorganized and ineffective the modern center-Left is in the United States in general. They can be so wrapped up in the finer points of who is more oppressed that they lose sight of the importances of messaging. Which, of course, what Donald Trump lives and breaths. (Another term for messaging would be, of course, branding.)

And so we’re at something of an impasse. But not really. MAGA will continue to plunder the treasury and destroy democratic norms at will. They will never be held accountable for anything they do. But they demand anyone they oppose be destroyed for the smallest slight.

Really, it seems that our absolute best-case scenario long-term is some sort of moderate, centrist military junta steps in at some point to keep the country together. But far more likely is Trump will go after individual Electors on a personal basis and “win’ the 2020 race on strict Constitutional grounds. Then Blue States revolt and Trump uses that as an excuse to abolish Blue State governments, turning them into military districts.

And that, as they say, will be that.

ICE will be weaponized. The camp infrastructure already in existence will be used for anyone not wise enough to shut up — like me! — and, then…well…I guess that’s it.

The Lesson Of Shane Gillis

Shelton Bumgarner

By Shelton Bumgarner

The key thing about Shane Gillis losing the SNL gig is he did not take the initial outrage seriously. If he had validated peoples anger over what he said, then maybe he would still be on the show.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize the first step to getting people to accept your apology is to validate their anger. But he did not do that. His “apology” was rather flip. He acted like, lulz, you guys can’t handle my style of humor.

This is NOT a good course of action when it comes to being on SNL.

Now someone replace him on SNL with Eva Victor.

The Grift That Keeps On Grifting

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

It’s darkly surreal how oblivious Democrats are to what’s going on with Trump and MAGA. The whole point of MAGA is ending traditional liberal democracy in the United States. Everything else is either a fig leaf or a lie. They want us to be an autocratic managed democracy like Russia. We already kinda are — the pot is boiling if you will — but it’s going to take a little bit longer (and maybe a war?) for the final pieces to fall into place.

Nothing matters to MAGA but power. Power, money, racism, misogyny and turning America into a theocratic state are such absolute endgames to MAGA that if they don’t get it now, they’ll get it later. They have no shame. The most disturbing part of it all is Trump is merely a political avatar. If something happens to him politically, there half a dozen clones ready to take his place.

That’s why I find all the bitching and moaning on Twitter by the so-called “Resistance” rather comical. It doesn’t take much to write a tweet. It makes you wonder what people will do when ICE starts rounding people up en mass and putting them in the camps currently used for undocumented immigrants. I suspect most people will simply shrug and go along. They have families to love and mortgages to pay, after all.

What’s worse, because of the absolute division between Red States and Blue States, even if Blue States tried to do something about this dystopia, all Trump — or a successor — has to do is abolish Blue State governments for insurrection and establish military districts. Congress would be purged of its Democratic members and that would be that for the duration.

I’m a man of peace and a man of ideas. So, really, I’m simply going to work on my novel and hope for the best. The novel gives me some sense of agency in an otherwise hopeless situation. I hate guns with all my heart. If you still think I’m some sort of deranged lunatic after writing that, then I guess the dystopia really is here. ‘

The great irony is, of course, that given that grift is at the center of MAGA, it wouldn’t be too difficult for me to pretend to be MAGA. I could probably become quite successful. I’d have lots of friends in real life and generally my life would be much, much better in a lot of ways. But fuck that. I’m not going to deny who I am or the truth.

I just wish people would take the real MAGA endgame vision a bit more seriously.