Hot Air: A Tale Of Two Women

My Niece

I can hardly believe I’m related to this fabulous young woman. Clarkie Marie Finkelstein. Here she is, making sum tom (papaya salad).

Clarkie Marie.

She’s in the Peace Corps right now, serving in Thailand, teaching English. I wish the world were filled with young people — hell, old people too! — like her.

Here’s her blog, where she journals her stint in Southeast Asia. Lady, you do our family proud!

Nothing Doing

I noticed another example of a specific term that means both nothing and everything this past week.

The term is TV personality.

At first glance, it means next to nothing. What does a TV personality do? Sing? Dance? Opinionate? Make jokes? Play Hamlet? Flex muscles? Recite poetry? Nothing of the sort. Of any sort. Profile writers and reporters use the term when someone has become a TV star on a show where nothing is asked of the person, nothing demanded, only that s/he look good on the screen. The definitive example of a TV personality is anyone named Kardashian.

I thought of this when, last week, Kylie Jenner made the news. Jenner, natch, is somehow connected with those Kardashians. Thankfully, I knew nothing of Kylie Jenner before last week’s splash of headlines about her. Oh sure, I’d heard her name, as any sentient being on this planet hears about any of these people who do nothing but somehow become mega-celebrities for being…, um, for being. Her name has been floating around in our collective consciousness for a few years now.

So I googled her. I clicked on her Wikipedia page:

See? That very first sentence tells us she has accomplished absolutely nothing in her 20-plus years on this Earth. Fully five descriptors are used:

  • Reality television personality
  • Model
  • Entrepreneur
  • Socialite
  • Social media personality

Whenever you see those descriptors use in conjunction with each other, to the exclusion of any others, be confident in the knowledge that the person being described has not broadened our appreciation of the fine or popular arts, brokered a Middle East peace, or made contributions to political or social progress or the studies of education, medicine, cosmology, philosophy, botany, microbiology, economics, human behavior, archeology, literature, or any of the countless sciences some of us humans consider important.

And therein lies the reason the term TV personality tells you everything about the person. She or he has made scads of money fleecing the rest of us, taking from us, while giving us nothing in return. Most previous societies put people like that in jail or at least ran them out of town. In this society, we lionize them.

So what did this particular lion do? Kylie Jenner, apparently, doesn’t like the redesigned Snapchat which, for the uninitiated among you is…, um, something you have no need to know about. Snapchat has been somehow redesigned. That’ll do. And, apparently, its users don’t like the new version. Among them Kylie Jenner. She took to Twitter to voice her displeasure. She typed:

sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me… ugh this is so sad. [all sic]

Kylie Jenner’s Twitter account is one of the most followed in existence. So influential is she that Snapchat’s market value in the hours immediately following her tweet dropped more than a billion dollars! Her very opinion is so valued that she can move the goddamned stock market all by herself. Aja Romano writes in Vox:

Jenner’s ambivalence regarding the app appeared to have an immediate effect on Snapchat investors. By Thursday at the close of trading, Snapchat’s stock had dropped 6 percent — an estimated loss of between $1.3 billion and $1.6 billion in market value.

As a result, Jenner made headlines for her seeming ability to singlehandedly deal a huge financial blow to a tech industry giant, all with a causal tweet.

Here are some of those headlines:

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As if you needed to be told, a TV personality is the single most powerful and revered vocation a human being in the year 2018 can aspire to. Kylie Jenner is globally known and astoundingly influential. Me? I’ll take Clarkie Marie Finkelstein.


The fascinating and valuable (and free!) website, science, is closing up shop at the end of this month.

It’s always been chock-full of in-depth articles about new developments, what researchers are working on, science as politics, and little tidbits about this crazy existence. It’s a shame. And it’s entirely apropos, in this day and age of idiocy, for the thing the come to an end.

Ah, well. There’s still Please, oh please, don’t take that away from us too!


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