Culture Feature

This Haunts Me: The Human Heater from "Silicon Valley" and the Death of Civilization

A throwaway gag about a "crazy" invention points to everything wrong with our species.

HBO's Silicon Valley is one of the great satires of modern capitalism.

The main cast is a blend of absurd personalities that are somehow still believable. The clashing of world-changing ideas with massive egos and even larger sums of money perfectly captures the tragicomic nature of a modern era when we are ruled over by technocrats with questionable senses of morality and humanity—who are made billionaires overnight.

Still, the show is far from perfect. The depiction of Jimmy O. Yang's character, Jian-Yang, is often pretty offensive, and T.J. Miller's personal life and history are troubling enough that maybe the show as a whole shouldn't be given a pass. But Silicon Valley, especially in its early seasons, does such a good job of converting the alienating weirdness of its real-world setting into fodder for both high-brow and low-brow comedy that I'm drawn back to it again and again.

Silicon Valley

And each time I return to the show, there is one scene in season one that haunts me more than anything else...

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Music Features

On This Day: Hip-Hop Forever Changed America

Happy birthday to the world's biggest genre

On this day in 1973, Clive Campbell, the Jamaican-American "selector" known as DJ Kool Herc, hosted a "back to school jam" at 1520 Sedgewick Avenue in the Boogie Down Bronx of New York City.

Armed with a booming sound system and reggae beats, Herc– a shortened nickname for "Hercules"– commanded insatiable audiences across the South Bronx with his unique looping technique called the "Merry-Go Round." "[I knew that] they were waiting for this particular break," Herc later said, "and I got a couple of records that got the same break up in it. I wonder how it would be if I put them all together."

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Satire

Elder Gods Apologize for Delay in Rollout of the Apocalypse

Production on the end of the world has been a mess since day one

With June of 2020 nearly here and no sign of the final cataclysm we've been promised, it's beginning to seem like The End Times will forever be near, without ever being upon us.

While the early phases of civilization's collapse into a burning hellscape were promising, progress on the more dramatic culmination of armageddon has been repeatedly stalled by restructuring, miscommunication, and the high rate of turnover within the ranks of the Great Old Ones' loyal subjects.

"The slow burn is great and all," said John Knӕlgghyrt, née Phillips, who was briefly the high priest of Cthulhu's Dark Order—prior to being scooped unceremoniously into his lord's tentacled maw—"but trying to get the big stuff done has been a real challenge." The main struggle he points to is the lack of cohesion and structural order among the death cult working haplessly to hasten Earth's return to a state of desolation and chaos. "It's like herding cats sometimes. Insane, death-obsessed cats."

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