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This Week In ‘What Now’: BORDER/LINES, ‘Drag Race,’ and More!

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The Discourse Blog starling shouting, "What Now"

Another Friday already?! Yes, it’s true, and it’s also time for our weekly review of our What Now newsletter!

We’ll show off some of this stupendous stuff in a moment, but first, a reminder: What Now is our newsletter that we send out exclusively to our Steward tier members three times a week. It contains:

—Exclusive interviews with good, smart people (like this week’s guests, Gaby Del Valle and Felipe de la Hoz!)

—Our Group Chat mailbag where we answer your questions about whatever you want

—Our take on a lot of news we couldn’t get to on the website

—Rafi’s “Man, What the Hell?” weekly news roundup, which now lives in What Now.

—And more!

You can get all of this if you subscribe to our Steward tier. It’s just $10 a month or $100 a year, and in return, you get What Now in your inbox, plus access to all of the stuff on our website, and the ability to comment on posts, and a link to our private Discord server. OMG I know!


OK let’s get to it!!!!

On Monday, Sam talked to Gaby Del Valle and Felipe de la Hoz, masterminds behind the BORDER/LINES newsletter, about Joe Biden’s immigration regime:

What have you witnessed from the left so far in response to what Biden is doing? How have people been reacting to either the mainstream narrative, or the absence of critical analysis on what isn’t happening?

Gaby: Something I like to emphasize is using very specific language that you can accurately diagnose a problem instead of being vague, or wrong. And I think for example — I know people are going to be like, “Oh you’re just caping for Joe Biden,” and again I would literally rather cut off my own foot than do that — but the migrant shelters for children that just reopened, for example. 

The influx shelters are bad because they have a lack of oversight, because they’re non-licensed facilities operated by nonprofits that make a ton of money to keep kids there. They’re bad because under Trump, they implemented all of these new requirements for sponsors which were ostensibly to protect children, but were actually used as justification to slow down the reunification process for months. People keep comparing them to border patrol holding stations, where there’s no furniture and kids sleep on the floor and are wrapped in Mylar blankets. Those are bad, too, and they’re bad for a different reason, in a different way.

And I think that this conflation is partially [because] immigration stuff is so complicated. I think people feel they can make these big sweeping generalizations. I think it makes people less informed. At the same time, when kids arrive at the border without an adult, they have to go somewhere before they’re reunited with their family. Kids who arrive with their aunts or uncles or grandparents get separated, and that’s another bad thing we need to talk about. But these are not quote unquote cages in the border patrol sense. And to compare them in that way is really intellectually dishonest in a way that doesn’t actually help anyone.

Another one is the deportation moratorium. Biden said he was going to stop deportations and a federal judge blocked it. But ICE could still technically not deport people. People are saying, “Oh look at this deportation flight to Haiti that just happened because Biden said he would stop deportations, and he didn’t.” Those are expulsion flights under that Title 42 [CDC] order. Those two things are different and it sounds really pedantic to point that out, but Biden could get rid of all expulsions today. By not acknowledging what these things are, and saying that he lied about ending deportations, you’re letting them get away with something that’s incredibly fucked up, and basically giving Joe Biden a free pass.

On Wednesday, Sam answered questions about, among other things, Drag Race:

Katelyn asks: I don’t know if my other email went through (the hyperlink did that thing where it opened Outlook even though I primarily use Gmail, and now I can’t find confirmation of the sent email, so who knows), BUT in case it didn’t, I had asked about spring cleaning, and now I care more about your thoughts on Drag Race season 13 and if you’re watching Drag Race UK, because !!!!!! That Bob Ross………… I weep Ok bye <3

Katelyn!!!!! I am sorry to hear that your first email may have been eaten by the mailer demon but I will happily answer what I imagine your question was on spring cleaning, without additional context: I have canceled spring cleaning this year as my lifelong habit of being in a constant state of purge has failed me over this past year, and now I have too much spring to clean. That is, outside of the chores type of cleaning. I live with two other people and two cats and a dog and have lagged on the chores schedule too, but it’s, you know, enough In These Times. 


If Symone won I would be like, happy and pleased, but I can’t even say I have a frontrunner. I think the group that has made it so far has their own strengths that make them rise to the top but I’m not like, in love with any one personality that makes me root for them more. I was definitely cheering for Utica because she’s weird but makes it fashion, but for talking all that she did about being good at improv I’m like, where are your improv skills??? Like I can maybe understand a lack of chemistry with Tina for that Bossy Rossy challenge but her Bob Ross was like, just unrecognizable. I think Gottmik, Olivia and Rose look amazing every time but Rose is just a little one-note for me and Gottmik, along with Kandy and Tina, are disappointingly Mean Girl to me. I just can’t stand any of Tina’s visual presence lmao sorry, one of the looks she had recently was really nice but yellow red and orange, it’s not boring it’s just harsh to look at. Kandy should have gone home when she lost, sorry!!!!!!! And also it’s a greater injustice that she stayed longer than Elliott, not that Elliott is a favorite but just Kandy’s Mean Girl nature really puts me off. ALSO special shout out to Tamisha, she deserves to be brought back next season. 

And lol I haven’t watched any of UK yet — we started watching Canada at the start of season 13 but then I kept getting my contestants mixed up so I’ll put that on hold for after, or maybe after we start UK??? BUT thank you for the recommendation!!! OK BYE <3 

And on Friday, Rafi said “Man What the Hell?!” about things like this:

To go (and come) where no one has gone (and come) before

Speaking at an aerospace conference this past weekend, a team from the University of Arizona has unveiled plans to create a “modern global insurance policy” should life on planet Earth, y’know…end. That insurance policy? Sperm. So much sperm. An ungodly amount of sperm. 6.7 million samples of sperm and ova from all of our planet’s species — humans included.

And where do you store this cornucopia of seminal fluids? On the friggin’ moon, of course!

“We can still save them [specifically, all the sperm] until the tech advances to then reintroduce these species,” project leader Jekan Thanga explained during his presentation. “In other words, save them [again, so much sperm] for another day.”

And here I thought the moon was made of cheese.

I agree, this is amazing stuff in  a one-of-a-kind newsletter that you should definitely subscribe for as little as $10 a month to get! Click click click!

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