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United We Stan: How the Internet Merged Pop Culture and Politics
By Amanda Hess

Whatever persona Elizabeth Warren hopes to project in her presidential campaign, it is probably not that of a child witch. But that is the persona that some of her biggest fans have chosen for her.

Images of Hermione Granger, played in the “Harry Potter” films by a young Emma Watson, materialize at Warren’s every move. Warren steps onto the debate stage, and her fans craft tweets where Hermione stands in as her, rolling her eyes at the boys in wizarding class. Warren reads the whole Mueller report, and Hermione smugly wags her wand. In one extremely cursed tweet with zero likes, Warren’s face is transplanted onto Hermione’s frame, posed alongside Beto O’Rourke as Harry and Pete Buttigieg as Ron Weasley.

What is this strange chimera of presidential campaigning: a candidate’s head on pop culture’s body? It is the product of a great convergence between politics and culture, citizenship and commerce, ideology and aesthetics. Civic participation has been converted seamlessly into consumer practice. It is democracy reimagined as fandom, and it is now a dominant mode of experiencing politics.

You can see it in the efforts to sort the candidates into “Harry Potter” houses, converting the election to a personality quiz in a children’s book, and in the mashup video that distills the 2020 candidates into quotes from Michael Scott, the buffoonish boss of “The Office.”

A photograph of three congresswomen of color is published and instantly compared to a Whitney Houston GIF, as if women interrogating Michael Cohen are analogous to Houston confronting her cheating boyfriend. Politicos of all stripes are styled as saints and stamped onto novelty devotional prayer candles.

Here, political engagement slips easily into the habits of consumption. President Donald Trump’s fans follow him around the country like groupies, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s boosters fetishize her funnel-neck coat as a symbol of the #resistance.

Candidates’ supporters now identify as stans a term derived from the 2000 Eminem song about a fan who becomes so obsessed, he kills.

Political stanning has a way of remapping the landscape of mainstream politics maybe even overwriting physical reality itself. Frantic online cultural production swarms around Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg whenever she experiences a health scare, as if memes alone could sustain the octogenarian’s life.

Trump’s fans imbue him with improbable prowess when they edit him into pro-wrestling videos showing him smacking down CNN. But perhaps the most explicit riff on the trend was the infamous Beto O’Rourke sex tweet, which translated his political positions into sexual ones.



文解字看新聞 陳韋廷

網路正將政治人物明星化並跟流行文化相結合,伴隨而來的是堅定的粉絲甚或stan(狂粉),此字由stalker(跟蹤狂)及 fan(粉絲)組成,指過度著迷名人或明星的人,而「鐵粉」的英文則是die-hard fan、「頭號粉絲」為number-one fanstan也能當動詞用,「她超迷防彈少年團」可用She is a stan for BTS. She stans for BTS.兩種形式表達。


而文中動詞片語sort into指的是「分類為某物」之意,distill into則意指「提煉成某物」,又of all stripes也可寫成of every stripe,兩者均指「各類、各種」的意思。

How to Cool a Planet With Extraterrestrial Dust
By Emma Goldberg

Extraterrestrial events – the collision of faraway black holes, a comet slamming into Jupiter – evoke wonder on Earth but rarely a sense of local urgency. By and large, what happens in outer space stays in outer space.

A study published Wednesday in Science Advances offered a compelling exception to that rule. A team of researchers led by Birger Schmitz, a nuclear physicist at Lund University in Sweden, found that a distant, ancient asteroid collision generated enough dust to cause an ice age long ago on Earth. The study lends new insight to ongoing efforts to address climate change.

“We’ve shown that what happens in the solar system can have a big influence on Earth,” said Philipp Heck, a curator of meteorites at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and an author of the study. “Extraterrestrial events aren’t always destructive.

Many people think about meteorites as just dinosaur killers, but we found the opposite. A big collision in the asteroid belt had constructive consequences that led to cooling and biodiversification.”

Earth is frequently exposed to extraterrestrial matter; 40,000 tons of the stuff settle on the planet every year, enough to fill 1,000 tractor-trailers. But 466 million years ago, a 93-mile-wide asteroid collided with an unknown, fast-moving object between Mars and Jupiter. The crash increased the amount of dust arriving on Earth for the next 2 million years by a factor of 10,000. Schmitz, Heck and their team found that the dust triggered cooling in Earth’s atmosphere that led to an ice age.

In sufficient amounts, extraterrestrial dust can cool Earth by blocking the amount of solar radiation that reaches the surface. Because the dust from the asteroid collision accumulated gradually, the planet cooled gradually, allowing plant and animal species to adapt as sea levels dropped and temperatures declined by as much as 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Our study is the first time it has been shown that asteroid dust actually helps cool Earth to a dramatic extent,” Schmitz said.

The team derived their evidence from a study of fossil meteorites, extraterrestrial materials that long ago became embedded in Earth’s rocks.

Schmitz and his team believe their findings shed light on a mechanism that could eventually be used to counteract global warming. In their paper, they proposed that an asteroid could be captured and brought to one of the Lagrange points between the sun and Earth--an unstable zone where the gravitational pull of each is equal--allowing it to produce dust that blocks sunlight. They are not the first scientists to suggest using extraterrestrial dust for global cooling.



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