An annual tradition for over a decade! This is my list of ridiculous people from 2023 (so far). Pass me one of those rolls (and cue up the media player), please:
- The Greasy Gravy Award for oily publicity that makes the main dish inedible goes to literary prize committees and their unrelated-to-art-or-reality eligibility criterea. Really, guys: A substantial proportion of the greatest literary works of all time is speculative fiction, but you'll only talk about speculative fiction when you remove all (or almost all) of the speculative elements — those elements beyond your mundane daily existence and understanding — which really, really just misses the point of "reading," doesn't it? But then, I've always been of the Devil's party. Dubious bonus: I could write the same damned thing six weeks from now (in 2024) and it would remain just as oily, just as inedible (and probably have extra lumps!).
- The Red-Tide Oyster Stuffing Award for carelessly poisoning an otherwise tasty dish goes to the VA. Keep in mind that this would largely be meaningless if we had even the intentionally-crippled "national health" system of the UK, because then the entire VA system would be superfluous. One wonders how much health care could be provided with just the profit margins of for-profit insurers… and the administrative costs of the VA and its eligibility apparatus…
- The Broken Wishbone Award for shattering dreams goes to Suella Braverman and her still-the-government's-priorities-after-rejection immigration policies (not to mention her personal immigration priorities, and BTW both of her parents were immigrants, so let's reexamine their arrivals and see if her father was an undocumented minor who later dodged the draft like someone else's grandfather). But for the cost of the truly Tory viewpoint, ask the New Model Army — the post-punk one. And ponder who profits from imposing new, harsh immigration restrictions…
The Golden Gristle Award for assertions far too difficult to digest (and usually stuck in one's teeth) goes to the House Heffalumps, and the new Speaker in particular, for their implicit and explicit assertions that they're there to govern. If they were there to govern, they'd actually follow the Constitution on how to overturn previous spending bills: They'd get a majority in support of a new statute that alters the prior substantive statute or other provision (and, BTW, there's no power to change their own branch of government's policy through mere appropriations roadblocks stated in the Constitution — the limited duration of appropriations is that power, and if we're going to play enumerated-powers games we're gonna play all of them), introduce that bill in the House, then get the President to sign it. But because actually like, reading seems beyond their capabilities — or at least too far down their priority list — here's a half-century-old remedial video telling them how to do it. Bonus: It's accurate and reflects having read the Constitution.
Communication, consideration, persuasion and compromise. It's what's for governance in a representative democracy. But not, apparently, for modern partisan politics no matter what manner of formal structure it operates in. Yes, there are vanishingly rare instances of moral imperatives in government and governance that cannot be ignored, but they don't arise every day unless one is a theocrat.
- The Conspicuous Consumption Cranberry Relish Award for the most-outrageous example thereof goes to football club owners everywhere, who've successfully managed to avoid, say, paying for free basic vaccinations for everyone in Africa and South America with a few percent of the summer 2023 transfer-fee total — and thereby increasing their potential paying audiences. We'll just tastefully ignore the sour taste of always referring to the buying and selling of "footballers" and not their contract rights, with dubious echoes of slave-trading. <SARCASM> One wonders if some overhyped bands might be under a transfer embargo, thus explaining their lack of a similarly-hyped (and competent) lead guitarist. Or might "fits with the team's actual needs" be a seldom-stated consideration? Is the bassist the equivalent of a defensive midfielder? Since there's a Spinal Tap sequel on the way, I won't ask about the drummer… </SARCASM>
- The Crabapple Pie Award for marketing something sour as something sweet goes to Sam Altman and the Board (former and present) of OpenAI for continuing to disingenuously create a black-box Enhanced Eliza that, in reliance on processing power many orders of magnitude greater than the original (not surprising as it's from the 1960s, and your cellphone has at least eight orders of magnitude greater processing power than did the entire NASA computer complex in 1966), hides that its baseline database operates just like any von Neumann processor does: It makes a copy to analyze. (That's what "registers" are, even when they're abstracted as "pointers" in a high-level language.)
The same goes for all of the other AI advocates, of course; but they haven't made themselves quite as ridiculous. Not quite. Not yet. Give them time…
- The Wilted Salad Award for the one part of the meal that's supposed to be "good for you," but is instead rather past its sell-by date, goes to the Authenticity Police everywhere, in every form of the arts. The failure to distinguish between views presented (explicitly or implicitly or even just with 20/200 hindsight) and the pre-speech background of the speaker, or even less the shadow-on-the-wall actor presenting the speaker, is just… well… preliterate. There is a distinction between Al Jolson physically acting as a caricature of a black man seen through overprivileged white eyes and Ursula K. Le Guin writing about a black man despite being a white child of academic privilege — and those Authenticity Police who can't see that the distinction exists, or matters, should have their police powers revoked (not their right to merely advocate for more representation; only their right to, well, arrest those who don't meet their self-proclaimed exclusionary criterea that usually just happen to be to their own economic advantage).
- The Brussels Sprout Award for stinky, slimy, overcooked, gentrified little cabbages goes to the Orange One (you knew he was going to appear in this meal — it was just a question of which dish). We'll leave the purely civil little cabbages — the ones with the slugs under the leaves and the "f"-word that just isn't used in Polite Society (five letters is too many) — for tomorrow's leftovers. Which nobody will eat because they won't fit in a sandwich very well.
- The Dried-Out Breastmeat Award for overcooking the books goes to convicted felon Samuel Bankman-Fried. I mean, really: Just because it's "not really money" doesn't mean you get to treat it all as yours. Especially not when it's a proxy instrument paid for by "it really is money."
- The Rancid Drumstick Award for something that should be edible, but isn't, goes to Senator Tommy Teletubbyville (T-CSA) for deciding that his personal morals are so offended by a political-appointee-established Pentagon policy, primarily relating to people who don't share his religious/theocratic basis, that he's going to take it out on career officers who have nothing to do with establishing that policy and very, very little to do with implementing it. Because, like any playground bully, he can — despite the opposition of his own party.
- The GMO Tofurkey Roast Award for a main-dish item that's supposed to be more wholesome, nutritious, and/or ethical, but merely hides something that's perhaps worse under that veneer of virtue, goes to a different Congresscritter from the former Confederacy for, well, obvious reasons. Even aside from her actual partisan loyalty being theocratic.
- The Unwanted Obligatory Guest Award for the guest at the banquet that you had to invite (but wish you didn't have to because you knew would spoil everything) goes to El0n Mu5k (ooooh, noooo, don't file a thermonuclear lawsuit against me for calling you out! Not the briar patch!). Mu5k makes that bigoted aunt or uncle or neighbor or business associate invited as a courtesy (c'mon, every family gathering has at least one) look tolerant. His leadership ability and technology savvy show in his big rocket going boom (again) and slogans over reality for his car company. Before considering labor practices.
I've now done my part for curbing obesity: After looking at that Thanksgiving spread, I bet your appetite is at least a little bit suppressed.