Remedial Reading #3
Great reads from elsewhere in the Substack universe. Plus: A brief revisiting of the lab leak theory.
It feels like there’s been a whole attempted Russian coup since the last time I wrote a newsletter.
And, indeed, this newsletter was supposed to be about that almost-putsch. But after falling deep into a rabbit hole about the history of Soviet cinema (naturally) that newsletter will have to wait until early next week.
In its stead, I thought I’d send out a brief digest of great writing from elsewhere in the Substack universe.
And then, later, for paying subscribers: Proponents of the COVID-19 lab leak theory went from bullish to sheepish last week. Let’s take a minute to count their Ls.
If you’ve followed the war in Ukraine at all, chances are you came across’s stellar reporting at some point.
In Ukraine, by way of Vancouver and D.C, Mak’s to-the-minute reporting from straight across the country married breaking coverage with wildly engaging and funny slice-of-life portraits from a country under siege.
Since he left NPR, Mak has been delivering his dispatches via The Counteroffensive. I can’t say enough good about Mak’s project — it’s proof positive that Substack can be a useful outlet for quality reporting.
The war has changed Ukraine and Ukrainians, sometimes for the better. For her, the war led her to discover who she truly is.
“For 22 years, I did drag,” she said. “I reached great heights through drag. I am the best in this country. … But when the war started, I realized this was the way to find myself, that I am transgender.”
“I’m just fucking amazing,” she says. “What can I say?”
I cannot get over the video of a millennial content creator addressing grooming allegations through twee song. It is, aswrites, like staring directly at the sun.
I’m sure we can address online cancel culture in a thoughtful and constructive way that both attempts to verify the legitimacy and seriousness of the allegations while also giving people, particularly those enjoying a modicum of digital fame but not the kind of stature or power we traditionally associate with success in entertainment, a chance for atonement and improvement.
But, please, god, let it not involve ukuleles.
If not for, I wouldn’t even begin to understand the Baby Gronk phenomenon.
Do I want to understand the Baby Gronk phenomenon? No.
But Read manages to get in touch with the unblinking Tiktok creator who delivers unnerving broadcasts about such terminally online happenings that can only be described as an Uber-online Walter Cronkite meets Mr. Beast, situated firmly in the uncanny valley.
I need to ask a final question of you. This is the question my readers are going to be most interested in knowing the answer to. In your opinion, is Baby Gronk the new Drip King?
I mean, I think you have to you have to go with “yes,” because Baby Gronk met Livvy in person and the Drip King hasn't met Livvy in person. So I think until the old Drip King meets Livvy in person, Baby Gronk is the new Drip King.
I need a nap.
I am incredibly skeptical about the Trudeau government’s link tax scheme to fund journalism in this country. As a Canada-based journalist who receives zero benefit from any of Ottawa’s journalism-financing plans (but who writes for some outlets that do) this looks to me like piecemeal reparations that will fundamentally hurt the distribution of good journalism at a time when we sorely need it.
If you’re curious to hear me rant about this, I went on the Rob Breakenridge show in Alberta to vomit out some thoughts. Listen to it here., the best technology reporter in the business right now, sums up my feelings pretty well.
I have suggested before some of the alternate ways in which lawmakers could choose to address declining revenue for news publishers: tax the platforms’ ad revenue; fund public media; or offer tax incentives to small and medium-sized publishers, who have been hit hardest by the transition to digital media.
Unfortunately, those proposals lack the emotional satisfaction that comes with kicking an unloved tech giant in the teeth. And so instead we have this: a tax on displaying links, the kind of thing that if extended to the rest of the web could effectively break the internet.
I’m always recommending‘s Radical Reports because it provides the kind of unflinching monitoring of the far-right on the march. We are nearly out of Pride season without any major successful attack on an LGBTQ event, thankfully, but the low-level harassment and intimidation can’t go overlooked. Especially with so many fascist, neo-Nazi, and KKK members involved.
My last bit of remedial reading involves the ever-persistent idea that COVID-19, at a minimum, escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan and, at most, was the byproduct of dangerous experimentation and maybe even a biological weapons program. (And it’s for subscribers only!)
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