Interested by this developing story

about a possible job for Pete Buttigieg in a Biden administration:

(from Politico, 10/22). Low on reward and high on risk. Sounds like a job for a hero who’s interested in taking on tough problems.

But it sounds like, reasonably enough, Buttigieg wants an easier, more fun job. From CBS:

Buttigieg, meanwhile, is under consideration for U.N. ambassador. Aides to the military veteran and former South Bend, Indiana mayor were told that some transition officials envisioned him serving as secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. But the mayor made clear, along with his team, his preference for representing the U.S. before the world body or in another Cabinet position, two people familiar with the Cabinet discussions explained. A representative for Buttigieg declined to comment.

One factor in picking a VA secretary will be finding someone with experience managing large organizations, according to people involved in the transition. The VA is one of the largest federal departments and one of the largest hospitals systems in the world, requiring management of hundreds of thousands of employees.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens!


E in P

The purpose of “Emily in Paris” is to provide sympathetic background for staring at your phone, refreshing your own feeds—on which you’ll find “Emily in Paris” memes, including a whole genre of TikTok remakes. It’s O.K. to look at your phone all the time, the show seems to say, because Emily does it, too. The episodic plots are too thin to ever be confusing; when you glance back up at the television, chances are that you’ll find tracking shots of the Seine or cobblestoned alleyways, lovely but meaningless. If you want more drama, you can open Twitter, to augment the experience. Or just leave the show on while cleaning the inevitable domestic messes of quarantine.

from a New Yorker piece, “‘Emily in Paris’ and the Rise of Ambient TV,” in the NYer by Kyle Chayka.

I swear, meant to write about this very show and this very idea here on Helytimes but was too sluggish, kudos to Kyle Chayka . Watched the entire series of E in P. The outfits are funny, Emily is amusing, the shots are pretty and colorful, the plots don’t require any taxing neural processing. I don’t say that as a knock on the show at all, you try making one as appealing. But for me, ambient.

Other shows do this for others. Chayka doesn’t mention this one but Below Deck Med, I sense that might be part the appeal there.

Is this a reversion to what TV is meant for? Is TV truly just an appliance and the content is meant to be pablum you can sort of have on for an ambient effect? Was the “golden age of TV” just a glitch of art that emerged in between the end of movies being interesting and the arrival of all-consuming phone content?

What about rewatches? Does some of the ambient effect explain the popularity on streamers of F*R*I*E*N*D*S and The Office? You can tune it in and have some friends in the room without the stress of seeing what will happen with Jim and Pam?

We’ve been rewatching Game of Thrones, phones nearby if not in hand, and I find it very satisfying to watch while knowing what’s gonna happen. Come to think of it, spoilers never bothered me, almost all the famous spoiler things were “spoiled” for me by the time I saw them and I didn’t care. I thought The Crying Game was fantastic.


absolutely ridiculous

But here is a rough sense of how some senators see things. They are leaders in a sharply, at times violently divided country and represent a party half of whose base is fed, daily, algorithmic incitements to suspicion and anger. The president leads this, fans it, gains from it. They lack the credibility with Mr. Trump’s base that the president has. They don’t want to jeopardize themselves over something that will be resolved through time. So hold off, lower the temperature, support the system. Recounts and court decisions will reassure some voters that every effort was made to get at the truth. This can buttress confidence in democratic processes and encourage a sense of their fundamental soundness. Taking time to get it right will have the effect of tamping down a destructive stabbed-in-the-back mythology among Trump supporters inclined in that direction.

Here’s Peggy Noonan in her column, setting up the position of Republican senators who want a safe space, snowflake, sensitivity to their defeated voters, lest the facts hurt their feelings.


a haiku

The interviewer is Jon Wiener, LA Review of Books, Sept 11, 2003

JW: Most pundits emphasized the unique and unprecedented qualities of the Bush v. Gore contest in Florida that ended the 2000 election – but you wrote that the events in Florida were “not entirely predictable, but entirely familiar.” What do you mean.

JD: It was entirely predictable: at the most immediate level, the election was that close because both candidates had run the same campaign directed at the same small number of people. Florida had a certain poetry to it; it was like a haiku of what the process had become.