Dingus of the Week: Anyone Mad About Closed Captions
Also, lousy week for liars, and I put jam in my whiskey and lived to tell the tale
This is the weekly dingus, your Friday dose of sanity in newsletter form. It’s the newsletter where I point out something ridiculous in the news cycle, share some links and a drink. I know you await this newsletter every week with bated breath, wondering, WHO WILL BE THE DINGUS? Remember, it could be anyone. Stay alert. Stay woke. Subscribe.
There are a lot of things that might disqualify someone from running for office. Such as being endorsed by the KKK; sexual assault, domestic violence; lying about paying for an abortion and then campaigning to take away abortion rights; doing some light insider trading; or fomenting an insurrection to overturn the results of a Democratic election.
So many, many good reasons to consider someone disqualified for office that I can’t list them all here, but absolutely none of them are because a candidate needs to use closed captions in an interview.
About 3%–5% of school-aged children have auditory processing issues. One in 8 Americans over the age of 12 has a hearing impairment. According to the National Institute of Health, “about 2 percent of adults aged 45 to 54 have disabling hearing loss. The rate increases to 8.5 percent for adults aged 55 to 64. Nearly 25 percent of those aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent of those who are 75 and older have disabling hearing loss.”
Listen, Americans don’t like weakness because we don’t like to face our own mortality. But the reality is, in this Covid-ruined country of ours a lot of people are struggling with impairments and disabilities of all kinds. We are all weak. We are all raw sacks of meat, struggling through this existence. Disability is not disqualifying.
In sum, a lot of Americans need to use closed captions. I need to use closed captions when I watch Derry Girls and Peaky Blinders.
But if you are NBC News correspondent Dasha Burns, who has clearly never watched Derry Girls but did interview candidate for Senate John Fetterman, using closed captions is concerning. During the interview, Fetterman, who is recovering from a stroke, used closed captioning. Something that is not a secret and something Rebecca Traister talked about in her recent profile of Fetterman. Closed captions are an accessibility tool used by millions of Americans. But if you are Axios political correspondent Josh Kraushaar, who also clearly hates Derry Girls and Peaky Blinders, you’d think that closed captioning is a HUGE concern. Concerning enough that he did a whole Tweet threat to ask Important Questions (™) about it.
Listen, Americans don’t like weakness because we don’t like to face our own mortality. But the reality is, in this Covid-ruined country of ours a lot of people are struggling with impairments and disabilities of all kinds. We are all weak. We are all raw sacks of meat, struggling through this existence. Disability is not disqualifying. Like so many aspects of humanity, it can make a candidate more able to see and become empathetic to inequality. And everyone is going to lose their hearing at some point. That is a natural part of aging. And then, you too will need to use closed captions and have to reflect back on that time when you were a real dingus to someone about it because your sense of ability was so wrapped up in a warped ableist sense of masculinity that you couldn’t see the trees through your own bullshit forest. Go with god, and watch Derry Girls.
And once again, I must remind you not to lose focus on the real threat to America. Hillbilly Elegy hiding inside Halloween candy.
Runner-Up: The company with the absolute worst website in the history of websites is mandating layoffs and furloughs. Where is all that paywall money going to, Gannett?
Decisions like this continue to hollow out local journalism and create vacuums where sites like the Iowa Standard, which are misinformation factories, can step in. They don’t have paywalls; they share misinformation free. I don’t think you can sit there and argue that you need paywalls to pay journalists and then lay off journalists.
A Dingus Declared by Defector. Defector declared the man who claimed that he had to pay $28 in Taco Bell in Joe Biden’s America to be a dingus. As the self-appointed judge and jury of all dingus sentences, I will allow it, and I affirm their choice.
And Now for Something Good:
Alex Jones, a pauper, sued into oblivion. And it’s like, wow, cancel culture, am I right? Who is going to stand up for the constitutional right to lie and harass grieving families? This isn’t the America that Thomas Jefferson wanted. (Good.)
Also good: Fat Bear Week was plagued with scandal, but a clear winner has emerged. Sorry to all the gays who thought my previous mention of Fat Bear Week referred to something else. I was only trying to bear bait, not queer bait.
Behind our backs, the readers of the New York Times are tarting up our hot dish recipes, but local author Rachel Mans McKenny is on the case.
And it’s officially SOUP SEASON! I made an amazing cauliflower soup with harissa tomatoes from the New York Times. I had harissa from another recipe I tried a while back (that turned out awful). But this soup was superb. And the leftover tomatoes went inside a grilled cheese the next day and were perfect. Share your soup recipes!
What I Am Reading:
This week, I went to a reading for Boys and Oil by Taylor Brorby. I hadn’t read the book and had only recently heard of the author and was there at the urging of my pals up at the University of Northern Iowa. If they were real friends, they’d find a way to sneak me into the Grassley archive at the library, but I digress. I went a little reluctantly only because I’m very tired and overworked. But I need to learn to stop working after 7pm, so I went, and wow. The book is phenomenal, and Taylor is incredible. We had a lovely dinner after, swapping publishing stories and making jokes about the Midwest. Taylor is an unparalleled talent, and his book is my favorite Midwestern memoir I’ve ever read.
In this newsletter, I had Adam Fleming Petty write a guest post about feelings, faith, and Mumford & Sons. Even if you don’t love the band (not my personal favorite), I think the essay speaks to bigger themes of loss and masculinity and feeling and faith that are so powerful. Also, one of the joys of having a newsletter is that I get to pay writers like Adam far more than the New York Times does for essays. And I can do that because I have subscribers.
Also, a little update: Last week was my two-year anniversary of doing this newsletter, and you all helped me get to my subscriber goal! And I appreciate it so much. I cannot believe that over 3,000 of you pay me to write. And nearly 30,000 subscribe and are interested in what I have to say.
Thank you. And that means I’ll be able to hire some help in the next year. My hope is to hire someone who is a writer in the Midwest, so I can keep up the goal of making it possible for people to stay and work in this place. More to come on that.
But if you haven’t switched to a paid subscription because you don’t want Substack getting your money, know that 90% of it goes to me, and of that, I use it to buy dog food, strike fear in the hearts of people in power, and hire editors and writers.
What I Am Drinking:
So, I’ve heard rumors that adding jam to whiskey is a good idea. I did some research and learned that jammy cocktails are a thing. And when I was at the store, I picked up some Blackberry jam and made a plan. The internet told me that it should be one part jam, one part lemon juice (to cut the sweetness), and two parts spirit. What that made was like a gummy booze smoothie, and I did not care for it. So, I added some lemon La Croix, and then I really liked it. I think adding a fourth ingredient, like topping it off with a tonic water or a liqueur is the best way to go.
But, last weekend, while working at the Iowa City Book Festival, I met Tom. And Tom told me two wise things: One is that the thing that holds this newsletter together is whiskey and jokes. And the other thing is that, in the words of Tom, “You are always recommending these fancy drinks. But we know the best thing is just a little whiskey on your porch.” Correct, Tom.
Also, if you said hi to me at any of those events, know that I love you more than all the others and you are the best.
Happy weekend! I hope you get to eat an apple cider donut and wear a sweater and slurp some soup.