Indie creators are highly encouraged to have newsletters. It’s good advice. Platforms change and evolve, and sometimes people get left hanging when the paradigm shifts. Having an email list of people who are interested in your work can save your hide. I started a newsletter last year, but it waned and has been dormant for the past several months. Part of it was the traditional platforms I’d tried. They were clearly built for marketers not creatives. Some writers I follow on Twitter use Substack, and I decided to give it a try. It functions much more like a blogging platform than an email marketing service, and, so far, I’m much happier with it.
I’ve relaunched my newsletter as The In-between. I’ve reproduced the first issue below. I hope you’ll give it a read and subscribe!
Welcome to the First Issue of “The In-between”
Many thanks and apologies to those of you who have held on through months of radio silence as I’ve decided what to do with my newsletter. I’ve changed the publishing platform to Substack, and will be sharing thoughts that don’t fit into the longer work I post on Medium and Patreon or in my microblogs on Instagram.
I’ve also given the newsletter a name: The In-between, for those thoughts that don’t quite fit anywhere else in my writing ecosystem. Welcome to the first issue!
Reading Anand Giridharadas’s Winners Take All
I’ve finally started reading Winners Take All, which has been making appearances all up and down my Twitter timeline for what seems like ages. The book tackles the trouble with inequality and the problem of solving it. As I write this, I’m nearing the end of the first chapter, which deals with a young, idealistic Georgetown student’s decision to join the consulting firm, McKinsey & Co. Bits of her story were familiar. I attended a few elite American universities and ended up in a (short) career as a Wall Street lawyer. I don’t know if I’d ever have called myself an idealist, though — I learned pretty early on that people are capable of almost anything. Even so, I’ve always believed in fairness and equity and never bought into the notion that “hard work” entitled anyone to sit on a throne. I always felt like I was being scammed every time I was sold the line about the most “successful” people having worked the hardest. It was obvious just from sitting at our desks at school or running around on the play fields that some things were just easier for some of us.
Like the young woman Giridharadas discussed, I had mixed feelings about my experience on Wall Street, even though I went in without believing much of the glossy varnish the recruiters had put on things. My ambivalence was a recipe for an unsuccessful tenure. You have to be bought in on some level to put in the crushing hours that kind of work requires, and I wasn’t at all. In a way, I’m glad I got to see how the other side lives. Having that world demystified was important, as was evidenced by a Twitter conversation I had about the Lakers’ trade for Anthony Davis and how the organization flubbed some of the calculations. A young reporter indignantly scoffed at the notion that an “accounting error” could occur in a transaction of that size. I nearly fell down laughing at the faith he and others had in the robust infallibility of corporate culture (especially one as shambolic as the Lakers’ front office has been recently). Mistakes like that happen all the time on MUCH bigger deals. Thankfully, most of them get caught before closing, and the Lakers’ trade for Davis technically hasn’t closed yet.
Perhaps the most important thing the conversations Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and other new movements Giridharadas discusses can reveal and finally get people to accept is that there’s just a man behind the curtain. There is no wizard.
So far, I’m enjoying Winners Take All, and I’m looking forward to getting into the rest of it.
Yes, They Really Are Concentration Camps (an addendum)
Last week, I wrote a post for my patrons called Yes, They Really Are Concentration Camps. In it, I discussed Chris Hayes balking at the term and Chuck Todd chastising Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for using it. As I scrolled through Twitter, I was surprised by some of the people co-signing the sentiment and calling the use of the term “sensational.” Some of the facilities and practices pre-date the Trump regime, and I’ve written about the bipartisan building of the machinery that’s being supercharged now. Even so, there has clearly been a terrifying escalation.
The Twitter account @historic_ly has been comparing excerpts from a New Yorker article about the conditions at the camps holding children to the conditions in the Nazi camps. The similarities are chilling. Lice, withholding personal hygiene items then punishing the children for being unclean, making children sleep on the floor as punishment. Twenty-six children shared two lice combs (counterproductive in managing an outbreak) and were punished with sleeping on the concrete floor when they lost one.
Last week was a litmus test for me. I don’t trust the judgment of anyone who refuses to place what’s happening in the proper historical context. It’s not hysterical or sensational to call a concentration camp a “concentration camp.” Historians who have made this their area of expertise agree the term is accurate. The last living Nuremberg prosecutor calls what’s happening crimes against humanity. This has happened before in more than one country and at more than one point in history. It wasn’t just the Nazis (whose camps had different classifications and didn’t begin as death camps). People not knowing the history isn’t a good enough reason to dumb things down and placate them. Hayes and Todd’s positions didn’t surprise me. Neither did Todd’s fawning “interview” for Meet the Press with Trump. Other people’s points of view did honestly shock me, though. I think those surprises will keep happening as the atrocities worsen, which they almost certainly will.
Bush v. Gore
I know this is a weird segue, but everything that’s happening has had me thinking about Bush v. Gore for some time. That was the turning point in America, wasn’t it? When those votes weren’t counted, and judges appointed the President? Democracy got messy, so it was told to sit quietly, and it did. The capital wasn’t shut down as it would have been in many nations. Then 9–11 happened, and the never-ending wars began. My fear is that there’s going to be a remix of this in 2020, and the result will be the same. As concentration camps are filled.
This ended on a darker note than I’d intended. These are dark times, though. They know we’ll want to look away. It’s what they depend on. We mustn’t oblige.
Thanks for reading!
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