📰 🔍 Pessimists Archive Newsletter
📰 After a hiatus the Pessimists Archive™ newsletter is back
In the past few months we’ve published a number of articles in publications that frame contemporary issues through the lens of historical cynicism, find some of them below + other fun tidbits.
🚀 Not Feeling the Burn
Bernie Sanders critiqued the Space Race again after NASA awarded Blue Origin a contract, in an op-ed for The Guardian he claimed risks were being socialized, while gains were being privatised.
He also implied the moon mission didn’t rely on private contractors (it did) and ignored the risk taken on by Bezos and Musk before they secured NASA contracts. While Bernie lauds the moon mission now, his record suggests he wouldn’t have been in favour of it in the past.
His arguments sound very familiar to those protesting the first Space Race, ironically The Guardian called a Unionist a ‘cynic’ for making some of the same arguments as Bernie Sanders is today in the same publication.
We explored this in more detail for @TheDailyBeast:
🚼 Control Freaks
News that the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade brought to mind a Supreme Court case regarding the 1870s ‘Comstock Laws.’ In the 1980s a condom manufacturing company brought a case to legalise mail ads for condoms - this remained illegal thanks to the 1870 law. They won!
In the 1870s Anthony Comstock was concerned about the kinds of material coming into homes via the postal service and its influence on minors. A law - the Comstock Act - passed in 1873 banning the advertisement or shipment of condoms - as well as other things considered obscene coming through the mail. Interestingly, the Comstock laws were actually part of a moderation debate driven by moral panic. Comstock said in 1877:
“The United States Mail is today one of the greatest and most powerful agencies in carrying into the homes, and scattering among the children of the country these vile publications that cannot”
Similar laws are relevant to the mailing of at home abortion pills post-Roe, no doubt calls for the old Comstock rules to be reintroduced will be common as people look to circumvent state based abortion rules, via out of state mail.
🧸 Teddy Talk
The ‘great replacement theory’, a racist 19th century concept based on eugenics has made a return thanks to figures like Tucker Carlson. This brought to mind that something as innocent as the Teddy Bear was accused of exacerbating ‘race suicide’ - the 19th century version of the ‘great replacement’ theory.
In 1907 - as teddy bears became popular with kids - Rev. Michael G. Esper did a sermon warning of their impact on the minds of young girls, claiming that replacing baby dolls with bears would suppress maternal instincts.
“Race suicide, the gravest danger which confronts this nation today, is being fostered and encouraged by the fad for supplanting the good old dolls of our childhood with the horrible monstrosity known as the ‘Teddy Bear.’”
We explored the history of this hysteria in more depth for BigThink:
🦹♂️ Loony Grooms
Another similarity between moral panics of today and the past? Accusations kids entertainment being part of a ‘gay agenda’, Tinky Winky, Sponge Bob Square pants, Bert and Ernie - have all been accused of turning kids gay.
Read a whole run down of the history of these types of moral panics in another piece we did for BigThink.com:
Marc Andreessen shared our reply to a tweet noting how the Overton Window regarding technology seems to change rapidly. This is something we’ve noted many times in the past.
Steven Pinker weighed in on our tweet about an article on ‘electronic brains’ and AI hype in the 1950s
A US political candidate called modern music ‘tools of Satan’ in 2020 - the recently resurfaced comments reminded us of how Jazz was treated 100 years prior:
📦 Pessimists Archive Merch
We have created a number of fun and ironic products using our favourite newspaper clippings: a mouse mat, a bookmark, a luggage tag and a laptop case are some of our faves.
⭐️ Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke shared our merch store on Twitter.
📦 We launch the Pessimists Archive™ Sports Bra: