One of these bottles is sponsored by The Baffler. / Brian Smithson
The Baffler,  March 15, 2016

Daily Bafflements

One of these bottles is sponsored by The Baffler. / Brian Smithson


• American Rifleman, the NRA magazine that has a history of advertising products described as “survivalist snake oil,” is running sponsored content that ghoulishly targets the victims of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan:

The ad suggests buying the Alexapure, “a revolutionary tabletop water filtration system” that looks like an oversized ’70s-era coffee percolator and is sold by a company called Water4Patriots. The item links to a video for Alexapure narrated by a gravelly-voiced Southerner named Frank Bates, a company spokesman. The video highlights the need for home water purification products with a montage of past water disasters like the industrial contamination of West Virginia and Colorado rivers, algae blooms in the Great Lakes, and methane gas loosed by fracking. It also warns about water contaminated by “brain-eating amoebas.”

Read Jacob Silverman’s grim experience of writing for the Atlantic’s sponsored content shop, from Baffler issue 30, here.

• “In the new shame culture, the opposite of shame is celebrity,” writes David Brooks in the Times. This could be the logic employed by the so-called “beta males” who conduct planned, self-publicizing shooting sprees after feeling shamed by society—specifically women. Angela Nagle writes about this “new, net-brand misogyny” in our current issue.

• The ever-“pragmatic” Hillary Clinton prefers to view history as a result of sage realpolitik, rather than social movements: “The question is whether Clinton’s tendency to downplay social activism as an agent of history is mostly a rhetorical tic, or whether it reflects more deeply held convictions,” writes Jeet Heer. “If it comes from Clinton’s genuine ideology, it could have have serious repercussions for her presidency—and for the progressive possibilities that it could open up or shut down.”

• Today in unceremonious apps: the app that deletes your work, you self-indulgent overthinker.

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Further Reading

 February 13

A truly progressive man would be one who rejects the social and economic advantages that come from masculinity, with a “feminine flourish.”