The Bluestocking, vol 249
the California of it all
Today’s Spark is a fun one: Rory Sutherland and Pete Dyson on applying the insights of behavioural science to transport. Please join their campaign for railway station ticket pick-up machines to have cupholders.
Meghan of Montecito (The Cut)
In her own life, Meghan’s response to being typecast seems to be to lean into all the positive things her story symbolizes. She understands what her ascent meant to Black Britons, for whom she’s a sign of progress, and to women, for whom she’s a working mom and a signal boost to the issues that affect them (paid parental leave, equal pay).
Even though she avoids reading her own press, Meghan knows people see her this way. She recalls a moment from the 2019 London premiere of the live-action version of The Lion King. “I just had Archie. It was such a cruel chapter. I was scared to go out.” A cast member from South Africa pulled her aside. “He looked at me, and he’s just like light. He said, ‘I just need you to know: When you married into this family, we rejoiced in the streets the same we did when Mandela was freed from prison.’ ”
Meghan Markle is now in an impossible position. Her connection to the British royal family is her brand, her entire reason for being famous—but she hates them and wants them to know it. How long can this Grievance Tour continue?
The interview is not entirely self-aware—see Meghan’s own long walk to freedom, down the aisle of Windsor Castle—but she does say something I have thought for a while: “By her own analysis, her problems stemmed from her being an American, not necessarily a Black American, she explains.” Part of what British tabloids revolted against was the California of it all, handing out backpacks to the homeless on the way back to your tastefully appointed multimillion-dollar mansion.
Moss meets me at the door in a vintage caped-and-fringed Missoni caftan, cadmium-red Venetian slippers peeking out from under the hem, before leading me from the foyer to her living room and collapsing on a squishy dust-pink sofa. Fresh from a detox retreat in Turkey, her unapologetic suntan is intensified by antique turquoise jewelry and that bright, crooked smile. She looks well—very well indeed.
“I just don’t feel the need to get trashed now,” Moss says with a glimmer of mischief when I ask what’s behind the impressive 180 from a woman who once personified the cardinal sins of today’s pious wellness establishment. Her own addition to the self-care juggernaut, Cosmoss—a six-piece collection of realistic rituals two and a half years in the making—is deeply connected to this specific setting, Moss explains: Meetings with her development team took place at her farmhouse kitchen table and were accompanied by stimulatory garden walks, picking up rosemary and bay leaves as the moss-green-and-gold packaging details were finalized.
Is there something in the water this week? The September issues really are a fiesta of New Age burble. I’m so sad that Kate Moss doesn’t realise that the appeal of Kate Moss is being a fag-smoking Croydon geezer-gal who doesn’t take life too seriously. I do not want to hear about Kate Moss having gong baths. The ££££ in wellness must be extraordinary.
If you’re interested in the US debate over youth gender medicine, Lisa Selin Davis is an essential read (Substack).
“I have become convinced that the ultimate cause of the basic conditions of online life is the way being online exposes us to the existence of billions of other egos.” Freddie deBoer calls this “multiplicity horror.” Love a piece which gives names to concepts I’ve only vaguely felt aware of before (Substack)
Stat of the week, via Politico: “Harry Enten noted that “for the first time in Gallup polling, more Americans (16%) said they smoke marijuana than had smoked a tobacco cigarette (11%) in the past week.”
Should scientific journals publish political debunkings? Stuart Ritchie argues with himself (Substack).
I promise I will write about dissociative identity disorder on TikTok soon. In the meantime, to get an idea of what I’m interested in, watch this.
“Poor research has really, really hurt the effort to get this condition understood and recognized because many people look at the terrible, vague definitions and clearly implausible claims floating around and incorrectly decide it’s all fake.” Zeynep Tufecki on what we do, and don’t, know about Long Covid (Substack).
Trigger warnings are very much ye olde culture war of yesteryear, which is a shame because there’s finally good research on them. The funniest finding is that they don’t reduce people’s interaction with material labelled “potentially upsetting,” something which anyone who’s worked in news could have told you.
This response to Ursula Le Guin’s short story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” strikes me as oddly literal-minded. (In the narrative, an entire population’s prosperity depends on keeping a single child alone, in pain, in the the dark.) Surely the point of the story is to make the reader realise that in so many real world situations—wealth built on colonialism, developed economies built on fossil fuels which cause climate change, etc—they have already chosen not to walk away? The point of the story is not to ask you if you would have the courage to walk away; it’s to show you that, demonstrably, you don’t.
Bluestocking recommends: I loved One-Woman Show at the Soho Theatre; it was a piss-take of Fleabag, yes, but more than that. It’s transferring to the West End in December.
Tired: Drag Queen Story Hour. Wired: Danny Dyer’s sex education lessons. The way his daughter says “you had protection, yeah?” kills me.
Remember the “festival of Brexit”? It happened, but no one noticed (The House).
If you want to chart the decline of religious authority in Britain, watch this 1979 clip of John Cleese and Michael Palin defending Life of Brian. (Weirdly, I saw the Not the Nine O’Clock News pisstake of this moment before I saw the moment itself.)
“In military circles, there’s an apocryphal saying that generals always prepare to fight the last war rather than the next one. This is equally true in aviation security. Before 9/11, airport screening was designed to stop politically motivated “air piracy.” Between 1961 and 1972, American airliners got hijacked about once a month.” A history of the TSA (The Verge).
See you next time!