A can opener must seem miraculous to a dog.

Graham, P. (2002, February). Taste for Makers. Retrieved from http://www.paulgraham.com/taste.html

brick-wall-frame-damaged-300pxBrick Walls

Brick walls are there for a reason; they let us prove how badly we want things.

Pausch, R. (2007, December 20). Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo


If you have a good idea and you give it to a mediocre group, they’ll screw it up. If you give a mediocre idea to a good group, they’ll fix it, or they’ll throw it away and start with something else.

Catmull, E. (2009, July 28). Ed Catmull, Pixar: Keep Your Crises Small. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2h2lvhzMDc


The revelation of fallibility is no longer a revelation at all; it ought to be a given at this point in story-telling, but people still think it’s novel to retell Goldilocks from the Wolf’s point of view. I remember the first time I realized this was not only tired, but said something wrong about the people making movies: Mission Impossible, when they revealed that Jim Phelps was the bad guy. Wouldn’t it be great if the hero of all those old TV shows was shown to be corrupt? Wouldn’t it be great if he wasn’t?

Lileks, J. (2014, April 7). The Bleat. Retrieved from http://lileks.com/bleats/archive/14/0414/040714.html


Many people die at twenty-five and aren’t buried until they are seventy-five.

Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790)

SaladControlled by Quisenberry

“Trend Junky’s articles and slideshows, with titles like Celebrity Prom Pictures and ObamaCare Facts for Young Adults, draw traffic from MyTurnOns and other accounts directly controlled by Quisenberry and from an affiliate network of about 175 Twitter users. They promote the site’s content for a share of ad revenue.”

You know, I do a fair amount of digital media for a living, and I am continually amazed at how the English language can support such utterances. Those are definitely words, assembled in sentences, most likely syntactically correct, but it’s goddamn word salad. Word salad!

Hollywood Upstairs Medical College (2014, Apr 30). Re: A Eulogy for Twitter [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from https://www.metafilter.com/138732/A-Eulogy-for-Twitter#5524914

3D-Infinity-SymbolCargo Cults

And that, in a nutshell, is what’s wrong with everything from Fox News and the Tea Party to anti-vaxxers and #gamergaters. These cargo cults of thoughtful discussion all exist in closed systems of stupidity, in which their preferred errors and falsehoods are recycled endlessly in what appear to the outside observer to be a parody of rational discourse.

Doktor Zed (2014, Oct 28). Re: The trouble with ignorance is that it feels so much like expertise [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from https://www.metafilter.com/143978/The-trouble-with-ignorance-is-that-it-feels-so-much-like-expertise#5793534


ScissorsLess Glamorous

Part of the problem, officials said, is that as a rule, the government is more inclined to invest money in building new projects, celebrated with elaborate ribbon-cutting ceremonies overseen by elected officials, than in the less visible (and less glamorous) task of maintenance.

Nagourney, A., & Fountain, H. (2017, February 14). Oroville Is a Warning for California Dams, as Climate Change Adds Stress. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/14/us/oroville-dam-climate-change-california.html


Smiles of Rejection

Girls. Would they always drive you crazy? Would their smiles of rejection always drop you into despair and their smiles of welcome lead only into new, worse, more terrible ways of breaking your heart?

Yates, R. (2014). Liars in Love: Stories. Picador.

FactoryNegative Externality

The economic term for such a spillover is a “negative externality,” which occurs when one person’s consumption harms the well-being of others. The classic negative externality is pollution: A factory burning coal or a car using gasoline can harm the air and environment for those around it. A laptop can sometimes be a form of visual pollution: Those nearby see its screen, and their attention is pulled toward its enticements, which often include not just note-taking but Facebook, Twitter, email and news.

Dynarksi, S. (2017, November 22). Laptops Are Great. But Not During a Lecture or a Meeting. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/22/business/laptops-not-during-lecture-or-meeting.html

Sword-ShieldWeary, Belated Mediocrity

“The Lord of the Rings” was the work of a filmmaker perfectly in tune with his source material. Its too-muchness — the encyclopedic detail, the pseudoscholarly exposition, the soaring allegory, the punishing length — was as much a product of Tolkien’s literary sensibility as of Mr. Jackson’s commitment to cinematic maximalism

But I don’t mean to blame the cultural situation for the specific failings of the movie, which rises to weary, belated mediocrity entirely on its own steam. Mr. Jackson has embraced what might be called theme-park-ride cinema, the default style of commercially anxious, creatively impoverished 3-D moviemaking. The action sequences are exercises in empty, hectic kineticism, with very little sense of peril or surprise. Characters go hurtling down chutes and crumbling mountainsides or else exert themselves in chaotic battles with masses of roaring, rampaging pixels.

Scott, A. O. (2012, December 13). Bilbo Begins His Ring Cycle “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” by Peter Jackson (A Review). Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/14/movies/the-hobbit-an-unexpected-journey-by-peter-jackson.html

400-04866784Magnetic Poetry

The plot makes about as much sense as magnetic poetry on a dorm room fridge.

Tafoya, S. (2014, February 19). The Unloved: Tron: Legacy (Review). Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/87142368

Digital_Movie_CameraHigh Frame Rate

More than anything, it resembles an insanely high-end Masterpiece Theatre production: I, Claudius with a big budget and endless banks of computers
~ The Boston Globe

The best way I can think to describe the quality of the 48fps image in The Hobbit is this: It looks like an ’80s-era home video shot by someone who happened to be standing around on set while The Hobbit was being filmed.
~ Slate

Fox, J. D. (2012, December 14). What the Critics Are Saying About The Hobbit’s High Frame Rate. Retrieved from http://www.vulture.com/2012/12/critics-on-the-hobbits-high-frame-rate.html

SmartPhoneBrought to Ruin

The world is full of people who would see it brought to ruin in order to have dominion over the wreckage.

marcoselmalo (2014, Mar 01). Re: Tim Cook tells shareholders: Apple will not put pure profit over sustainability efforts [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2014/03/01/apple-cook-shareholders-sustainability/?xid=ob_febtest#

Snoopy's_Dog_HouseMore Than One Night

Charlie Brown: Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, “Where have I gone wrong?”
Then a voice says to me, “This is going to take more than one night.”

Charles M. Schulz, Peanuts

CloverleafInterchangeLoosening the Belt

Building more roads to prevent congestion is like a fat man loosening his belt to prevent obesity.

~ Based on a 1955 New Yorker column “The Sky Line” by Lewis Mumford

Lightbulb-300pxThe Importance of Failure

Talent and intelligence never yet inoculated anyone against the caprice of the Fates, and I do not for a moment suppose that everyone here has enjoyed an existence of unruffled privilege and contentment.

J.K. Rowling (2008, June) Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association Commencement Address, “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination”. Retrieved from https://harvardmagazine.com/2008/06/the-fringe-benefits-failure-the-importance-imagination

No_LifeGuardDrowning Man

Anxiety is love’s greatest killer. It creates the failures. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic.

Anais Nin (1947, Feb) Diary Entry


Edit Text

Put “Fuck” in the Headline

It’s possible the editor – if they have such arcane old things – scanned the piece, said “this isn’t very good. Put fuck in the headline” and she had to comply, but it’s likely she was taking her cue from the rest of the site.

Lileks, J. (2017, August 4). The Bleat. Retrieved from http://lileks.com/bleats/archive/17/0817/080417.html



Binoche is a woman whose heart has been so pounded by war that she seems drawn to its wounded, as a distraction from her own hurts.

Ebert, R. (1996, November 22). The English Patient (Review). Retrieved from https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-english-patient-1996


Grand Scheme of Things

For all his badassery, he never rises about the level of a minor supporting character—which is notable, since he’d probably be the protagonist in 90% of action thrillers taking place in urban America. The series is quite up-front about that fact that he’s just one cog in the social machine that keeps the drug trade afloat, and that few of his actions truly matter in the grand scheme of things.

The Wire Savagely Deconstructs Police Procedurals. Retrieved 2017, Dec 4 from http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DeconstructorFleet


Super Accommodating

I always think of Calliou as that kid in the Twilight Zone episode who can kill with his mind, so everyone else has to be super accommodating.

gottabefunky (2017, Sept 28). Re: Henry wasn’t the only train to receive a death sentence [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from https://www.metafilter.com/169670/Henry-wasnt-the-only-train-to-receive-a-death-sentence#7179003

Like Emoticon

Because He Can

That’s the crucial thing about Facebook, the main thing which isn’t understood about its motivation: it does things because it can. Zuckerberg knows how to do something, and other people don’t, so he does it. Motivation of that type doesn’t work in the Hollywood version of life, so Aaron Sorkin had to give Zuck a motive to do with social aspiration and rejection. But that’s wrong, completely wrong. [Zuckerberg] isn’t motivated by that kind of garden-variety psychology. He does this because he can, and justifications about ‘connection’ and ‘community’ are ex-post-facto rationalizations.

Lanchester, J. (2017, August 17). London Review of Books: You Are the Product. Retrieved from https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n16/john-lanchester/you-are-the-product


Nothing is Static

It used to be enough that when I came home angry and knowing that my life wasn’t toeing my five-year plan, I could clean my condominium or detail my car. Someday I’d be dead without a scar and there would be a really nice condo and car. Really, really nice, until the dust settled or the next owner. Nothing is static. Even the Mona Lisa is falling apart.

Palahniuk, C. (2005). Fight Club: A Novel. W. W. Norton.


Predictable Answers

But let’s begin with him, skipping over his Republican enablers, who had nothing to do but lob softball questions and praise his answers.
If Judge Gorsuch wasn’t the least forthcoming Supreme Court nominee ever to appear at a confirmation hearing, it’s hard to imagine one who could be less forthcoming while still breathing. More interesting and less predictable answers could have come from Siri on an iPhone.

Greenhouse, L. (2017, March 30). The Empty Supreme Court Confirmation Hearing. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/30/opinion/the-empty-supreme-court-confirmation-hearing.html


Neither Gifted with Intelligence

We meet two of the other local studs, John and Tom, neither gifted with intelligence, both violent products of brutal backgrounds. They have the same attitude toward women that the gun nut has about prying his dying fingers off the revolver.
The film is about hanging out in gas stations and roller rinks, and lying sprawled on a couch looking with dulled eyes at television, and soul-crushing jobs, and about six-packs and country bars and Marlboros. There is a reason country music is sad.

Ebert, R. (1999, October 22). Boys Don’t Cry (Review). Retrieved from https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/boys-dont-cry-1999


Attacking the Media

Mr. Trump understands that attacking the media is the reddest of meat for his base, which has been conditioned to reject reporting from news sites outside of the conservative media ecosystem.

Sykes, C. J. (2017, February 4). Why Nobody Cares the President Is Lying. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/04/opinion/sunday/why-nobody-cares-the-president-is-lying.html



Active Resistance

Havel believed, “as long as our humanity remains defenseless, we will not be saved by any technical or organizational trick designed to produce better economic functioning.”

Active resistance is necessary because it is the moral and political indifference of demoralized, self-seeking citizens that normalizes despotic power. According to Havel, true escape from despotism requires “living in truth,” which means not only refusing all participation in the regime of untruth but also rejecting all false refuge in the “small pleasures of everyday life.”

Mishra, P. (2017, February 8). Václav Havel’s Lessons on How to Create a “Parallel Polis.” Retrieved from https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/vaclav-havels-lessons-on-how-to-create-a-parallel-polis



Pointless, Impotent Power

Consumption in absentia. Like having a hit song you recorded decades ago still occupy the mind of a Chinese sweatshop worker you’ll never meet. It’s power, but a kind of pointless, impotent power.

Palahniuk, C. (2011). Damned. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.


If You Don’t Like It…

Several former Weinstein employees told me that the company’s human-resources department was utterly ineffective; one female executive described it as “a place where you went to when you didn’t want anything to get done. That was common knowledge across the board. Because everything funneled back to Harvey.” She described the department’s typical response to allegations of misconduct as “This is his company. If you don’t like it, you can leave.”

Farrow, R. (2017, October 23). From Aggressive Overtures to Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell Their Stories. Retrieved from https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/from-aggressive-overtures-to-sexual-assault-harvey-weinsteins-accusers-tell-their-stories



Whatever her intent, The Beguiled is a curious reckoning of the myths of white womanhood — how they use fragility as a shield for deviousness and insulate themselves from the horrors of a world that they too are responsible for.

Bastién, A. J. (2017, July 10). How The Beguiled Subtly Tackles Race Even When You Don’t See It. Retrieved from http://www.vulture.com/2017/07/the-beguiled-subtly-tackles-race-even-when-you-dont-see-it.html



Bullshit Asymmetry Principle

I know the Brandolini’s Bullshit Asymmetry Principle that “the amount of energy necessary to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.”

Hulk, F. C. (2017, August 4). Film Crit Hulk SMASH: On Criticism In The Intersectional Age. Retrieved from http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2017/08/04/film-crit-hulk-smash-on-criticism-in-the-intersectional-age

Server Rack

Indifferent to Getting Rich

By all accounts, these programmers turned entrepreneurs believed their lofty words and were at first indifferent to getting rich from their ideas. A 1998 paper by Sergey Brin and Larry Page, then computer-science graduate students at Stanford, stressed the social benefits of their new search engine, Google, which would be open to the scrutiny of other researchers and wouldn’t be advertising-driven. The public needed to be assured that searches were uncorrupted, that no one had put his finger on the scale for business reasons.

Cohen, N. (2017, October 13). Silicon Valley Is Not Your Friend. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/10/13/opinion/sunday/Silicon-Valley-Is-Not-Your-Friend.html


One-Line Dismissal

That’s why I find it frankly cringe-inducing when someone sits back with a smug grin on their mug after uttering a lazy one-line dismissal to a thousand-word review, not to mention the site in general. Whoever does that – you didn’t just “win” at anything. Quite the contrary.

Mancuso (2017, Oct 4). Re: Blade Runner 2049 (A Review) [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/blade-runner-2049-2017


Done Before and Better

Imagine that everything even remotely clever in them has been done before and better by someone else. Imagine that each one flaunts the kind of “research” that can be achieved by leafing through a trade magazine for 30 minutes and is riddled with grating errors. Imagine that these books traffic in the half-baked nihilism of a stoned high school student who has just discovered Nietzsche and Nine-Inch Nails.

Miller, L. (2003, August 20). Diary (A Review). Retrieved from https://www.salon.com/2003/08/20/palahniuk_3/

Sieg Heil Arm

Social Duress

He was the cause of all this mayhem; it was the people who were unable to deal with their social duress, who put one authoritarian figure at the top to control them.

fda (2014, Aug 19). Re: Fight Club(A Review) [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/fight-club-1999


In Command Now

His rambling, awkward, cliché-ridden eulogy/I-am-in-command-now-speech tells us right away this guy isn’t qualified to command a beer run, which makes one wonder exactly why he was even given the XO post in the first place.

Narm / Alien: Covenant. (Accessed 2017, Dec 03). Retrieved from http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Narm/AlienCovenant


Then Sir Topham Hatt, the railway director, who is also known as the Fat Controller, arrives on the scene. (He looks like Monopoly’s Rich Uncle Pennybags but with eyes that have almost surely witnessed murder.)

Tolentino, J. (2017, September 28). The Repressive, Authoritarian Soul of “Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends.” Retrieved from https://www.newyorker.com/culture/rabbit-holes/the-repressive-authoritarian-soul-of-thomas-the-tank-engine-and-friends


Manhole CoverIncongruous

I’d never gone through these alleys; it’s like a proctological exam of a city. Weedy and junky. Abandoned children’s toys. The sense of decay and indifference, sloth and carelessness. A distance of four blocks from neat backyards to dumpy messes. Incongruous things like a backyard piled high with junk, and a new BMW in the garage.

Lileks, J. (2017, August 17). The Bleat. Retrieved from http://lileks.com/bleats/archive/15/0115/011915.html


Tactical Cleverness

One could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.

Arendt, H. (1973). The Origins of Totalitarianism. Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich.

Lecturer Podium

Do What You Please

The moment we no longer have a free press, anything can happen. What makes it possible for a totalitarian or any other dictatorship to rule is that people are not informed; how can you have an opinion if you are not informed? If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer. This is because lies, by their very nature, have to be changed, and a lying government has constantly to rewrite its own history. On the receiving end you get not only one lie — a lie which you could go on for the rest of your days — but you get a great number of lies, depending on how the political wind blows. And a people that no longer can believe anything cannot make up its mind. It is deprived not only of its capacity to act but also of its capacity to think and to judge. And with such a people you can then do what you please.

Arendt, H. (1978, October). Hannah Arendt: From an Interview. The New York Review of Books.


Treason from Within

A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. For the traitor appears not a traitor — He speaks in the accents familiar to his victims, and he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation — he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of a city — he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to be feared.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (42 BC)

T84 Tank

Doubts Simply Float In The Air

As Leslie H. Gelb, himself a veteran of McNamara’s Pentagon (and later a member of The Times editorial board), has written, “It is almost superhuman to expect one responsible for waging war” to fundamentally rethink its merits and then to act on the basis of that rethinking. “And so doubts simply float in the air without being translated into policy.”

Logevall, F. (2017, November 28). Rethinking “McNamara”s War’. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/28/opinion/rethinking-mcnamaras-war.html

University Bldg

Luxury Goods

It is highly significant that elite universities refuse to use their overstuffed endowments to expand the pool of students that they serve. Why doesn’t Harvard open 10 campuses, across the nation and the world? The answer is that Harvard is in the luxury goods business, and it is in their interest to keep the product supply artificially limited and the price artificially high. Their generous alumni don’t wish to tarnish the luxury value of their degree by allowing Harvard to open a campus in Scranton or Jacksonville, where regular folk might benefit from the supposedly fine quality of a Harvard education. Why do we allow the Harvards of the world to hold and earn returns on these huge endowments tax-free when they are not acting in the interests of the people of the United States? The fact that they are providing education is secondary — they are selling a luxury good, like Hermes or Ferrari. I’ve single out Harvard here, but there is a long list of “elite” schools who behave in the same way, and aspire to Harvard’s wealth and status as a luxury brand.

Tom from Ohio (2017, Nov 1). Re: Let’s Waste College on the Old [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/31/opinion/adult-learners-college.html

Paragraph Symbol

Simple Answers

It’s one of the great plagues, I think it was always a plague in political discourse and it’s always gonna be with us in political discourse, but I think one of the great new plagues in the 21st Century is people who believe they have the answer in a paragraph.

Simon, D. (2014, October 22). David Simon on why he created The Wire | Observer Ideas. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYXNdELqCe4

SyringeDopamine Hits

The sensation of righteousness, which social media doles out in ever-diminishing dopamine hits, drives the discussion, but also limits it.

Marche, S. (2017, November 25). The Unexamined Brutality of the Male Libido. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/25/opinion/sunday/harassment-men-libido-masculinity.html

office-deskSlow Ordeal

My time on the financial desk had become a slow ordeal of waiting for my superiors to discover more and more of how little I knew about what I was doing; and now however pathetically willing I might be to learn all the things I was supposed to know, it had become much too ludicrously late to ask.

Yates, R. (2014). Eleven Kinds of Loneliness: Stories. Picador.

Green Bottle

No Hook

Suttree himself is a lost creature who can find no real hook into this world.

Charyn, J. (1979, February 18). Suttree (A Review). Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/05/17/specials/mccarthy-suttree.html




The basic scam in the Internet Age is pretty easy even for the financially illiterate to grasp. Companies that weren’t much more than pot-fueled ideas scrawled on napkins by up-too-late bong-smokers were taken public via IPOs, hyped in the media and sold to the public for mega-millions.


“Since the Depression, there were strict underwriting guidelines that Wall Street adhered to when taking a company public,” says one prominent hedge-fund manager. “The company had to be in business for a minimum of five years, and it had to show profitability for three consecutive years. But Wall Street took these guidelines and threw them in the trash.” Goldman completed the snow job by pumping up the sham stocks: “Their analysts were out there saying Bullshit.com is worth $100 a share.”


The market was no longer a rationally managed place to grow real, profitable businesses: It was a huge ocean of Someone Else’s Money where bankers hauled in vast sums through whatever means necessary and tried to convert that money into bonuses and payouts as quickly as possible.

If you laddered and spun 50 Internet IPOs that went bust within a year, so what? By the time the Securities and Exchange Commission got around to fining your firm $110 million, the yacht you bought with your IPO bonuses was already six years old.
Besides, you were probably out of Goldman by then, running the U.S. Treasury or maybe the state of New Jersey.

Taibbi, M. (2010, April 5). The Great American Bubble Machine. Retrieved from http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-great-american-bubble-machine-20100405


Confident Idiots

Logic itself almost demands this lack of self-insight: For poor performers to recognize their ineptitude would require them to possess the very expertise they lack. To know how skilled or unskilled you are at using the rules of grammar, for instance, you must have a good working knowledge of those rules, an impossibility among the incompetent. Poor performers—and we are all poor performers at some things—fail to see the flaws in their thinking or the answers they lack.

In many cases, incompetence does not leave people disoriented, perplexed, or cautious. Instead, the incompetent are often blessed with an inappropriate confidence, buoyed by something that feels to them like knowledge.

Dunning, D. (2014, October 27). We Are All Confident Idiots. Retrieved from http://www.psmag.com/navigation/health-and-behavior/confident-idiots-92793/


Symbolic Offense

The ships described in the article are the big vessels run by the big lines, and they have all manner of accommodations, depending on how much you spend. The end result – a hierarchy of comfort and amenities ordered by expenditure – is something whose symbolism appalls some folk, because if something doesn’t present sufficient opportunities to be appalled, you have to concern yourself with its symbolic offense.

Lileks, J. (2016, May 2). How to be angry about other people’s vacations. Retrieved from http://www.startribune.com/how-to-be-angry-about-other-people-s-vacations/377833321/


Coked-Up Editing

The number of cuts per scene is astronomical, ensuring that the audience never gets a chance to orient itself in the environment, or, for that matter, care about what is happening. Liam Neeson is impressive physically, but the fight scenes are filmed with so many cuts that the action itself is never clear. In one car chase scene, involving multiple police cars, an 18-wheeler, and the various commuters on the road, a car commandeered by Mills ends up driving the wrong way down a crowded freeway. At least I think that’s what I was seeing. The coked-up editing makes it impossible to tell, and it made me yearn, longingly, for the classic car chase scene in “To Live and Die in L.A.,” also involving a car barreling the wrong way down a freeway. That visceral, gripping scene in “To Live and Die in L.A.” was filmed so specifically that the audience never loses its orientation in space. Effective car chase scenes involve care in the execution: it’s not enough to show a car flipping over in slo-mo, surrounding it with 100 quick edits designed to disorient. Ironically, that approach ends up making it look like the movie is trying too hard.

O’Malley, S. (2015, January 9). Review: Taken 3 (2015). Retrieved from http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/taken-3-2015


🚘 Professionalism

I trust this garage, because I’ve gone there for years and never been able to figure out how they’re screwing me over, and that’s a level of professionalism you have to respect.

Lileks, J. (2015, January 19). The Bleat. Retrieved from http://lileks.com/bleats/archive/15/0115/011915.html

TurtleneckOne or Two Geniuses

Unfortunately, when we believe one or two geniuses are mainly responsible, we not only reward them with exorbitant compensation, we lead them to believe they really are geniuses, which in turn leads to grandiosity, monomania, and unchecked power.

johnny (2014, Dec 17). Re: What Happened When Marissa Mayer Tried to Be Steve Jobs [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/21/magazine/what-happened-when-marissa-mayer-tried-to-be-steve-jobs.html?_r=1

🎮 Hate Movement

Critics see Gamergate as a hate movement, born of extremists, which has grown by providing a sense of belonging, self-worth, and direction to those experiencing crisis or disaffection.

Parkin, S. (2014, October 17). Gamergate: A Scandal Erupts in the Video-Game Community. Retrieved from http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/gamergate-scandal-erupts-video-game-community

⚖️ Tried by 12

“There’s a really common adage in policing: It’s better to be tried by 12 than carried by six,” said Jim Bueermann, a former Redlands, Calif., police chief who is now the president of the Police Foundation, a research group.

Eligon, J., Yee, V., & Furber, M. (2017, July 22). In Minneapolis, Unusual Police Killing Raises an Old Outcry: Why? Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/22/us/minneapolis-police-shooting.html?_r=0

💘 Somebody Finally Loves You

When you are socialized to accept abuse as authority, any situation that isn’t outright hurtful feels like a win. Our schools teach kids that their voices don’t matter, that they should unquestioningly follow the dictates of teachers and other adults because it is the only way they will get ahead in life. When we get to the workforce, we are told we are lucky to be there. We are told that there is a line of people waiting to take our place, that we are disposable, regardless of the degrees, work experience, and dedication. So when you stumble upon a company or workplace that says “You are valuable.” you go out of your mind to work even harder. Because somebody finally loves you.

Until we teach ourselves that we are valuable for who we are, not the work we do, we will continue to confuse authority with abuse and continue to be eager to work for places that respect us less than they should.

teleri025 (2017, July 19). Re: The Tyranny of Work [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from http://www.metafilter.com/168292/The-tyranny-of-work#7099050

⛅ Motivation

If a pretty poster and a cute saying are all it takes to motivate you, you probably have a very easy job. The kind robots will be doing soon.

Despair, Inc. Retrieved from https://despair.com/products/motivation

🎩 Class Distinction

“Basic” is, at bottom, a stereotype. And like all stereotypes, we fling it at others in order to distance ourselves from them. These people are this thing; therefore, I am this other thing. Stereotypes are deployed most fervently — and with the most hostility — when the group wielding them is most anxious to distance itself from another group that, in truth, isn’t so distant after all. See: “Fresh Off the Boat,” “White Trash,” “Hipster.” These stereotypes are explicitly rooted in race, but implicitly, and most powerfully, are rooted in class distinction. By calling someone “white trash,” a certain segment of white consumer person distinguishes themselves from another segment of white consumer, thereby bolstering their position within the capitalist hierarchy.

Petersen, A. H. (2014, October 20). What We’re Really Afraid Of When We Call Someone “Basic.” Retrieved from https://www.buzzfeed.com/annehelenpetersen/basic-class-anxiety?utm_term=.na4JX19NG#.isQ1NXdJo

💺💺💺 Emotion Neutral

Robert Rubin was the prototypical Goldman banker. He was probably born in a $4,000 suit, he had a face that seemed permanently frozen just short of an apology for being so much smarter than you, and he exuded a Spock-like, emotion-neutral exterior; the only human feeling you could imagine him experiencing was a nightmare about being forced to fly coach.

Taibbi, M. (2010, April 5). The Great American Bubble Machine. Retrieved from http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-great-american-bubble-machine-20100405


Sea of Cracked Asphalt

Oh yes, we anticipate a large role for a sprawling liquor store set back in a sea of cracked asphalt. Oh, if that funky-junky bookstore on the corner hangs around for a few years that’ll be fine; it’s colorful, but really, can’t you see a Panera there? People love those sandwiches.

Lileks, J. (2016, February 27). Lileks: You get a facility! Everyone gets a facility! Retrieved from http://www.startribune.com/james-lileks-you-get-a-facility-everyone-gets-a-facility/370378971/

🗒️ Couldn’t be Mad

Every step of the way, the News reporter, Bill Hendricks—the longtime cop reporter with all the sources—was just getting everything that I wasn’t getting. It was so bad that my bosses couldn’t even be mad at me. They treated me as if I were developmentally disabled.

Green, E. (2017, July 17). Writers dish on scoops that slipped away. Retrieved from https://www.cjr.org/business_of_news/scoops-fahrenthold-greg-howard.php


Lure You Into Hubris

As an aside … this little piece that cost $2.49? I have no fucking idea of what anyone would ever use it for. It was like RadioShack slid that into their stores as a red herring. Like it was some Machiavellian plot to lure you into hubris, destroy your ego, and remind you how much smarter we were than you. Sorry. God, I’m sorry.

Bois, J. (2012, July 24). Revisiting The RadioShack Product Catalog, Part 2. Retrieved from http://www.progressiveboink.com/2012/7/24/3174840/revisiting-the-radioshack-product-catalog-part-2

⚗️ Too Much Poison

How did our politics get so poisonous? I think it’s ’cause we overdosed, especially this year. We drank too much of the poison. You take a little bit of it so you can hate the other side. And it tastes kinda good. And you like how it feels. And there’s a gentle high to the condemnation, right? You know you’re right, right? You know you’re right.

Colbert, S. (2016, November 11). Showtime Election Night Special[Television broadcast]. CBS.

Know Thyself

If you’re incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent. […] the skills you need to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognize what a right answer is.

Dunning, D. (2012). Self-Insight: Roadblocks and Detours on the Path to Knowing Thyself (Essays in Social Psychology). Psychology Press.

🍺 Cult of Ignorance

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

Asimov, I. (1980, January). My Turn/A Cult of Ignorance. Newsweek, 19.


♛ Important People

As John Whitehead, the godfather of Goldman’s modern culture, wrote in a set of guidelines for executives: “Important people like to deal with other important people. Are you one?”

Hagan, J. (2009, July 26). Tenacious G: Inside Goldman Sachs. Retrieved from http://nymag.com/news/business/58094/

🌏 Life Goes On

Life goes on, but you wish it went someplace better.

Source Unknown


It was meant sincerely, and like all things sincerely intended, the Boomers had to turn him into a sarcastic joke to show they could see right through all the things that were wrong with the world.  Like sincerity, I suppose.

Lileks, J. (2012). Graveyard Special (Mill City Book 1) . Amazon Digital Services LLC. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Graveyard-Special-Mill-City-Book-ebook/dp/B00962GFES/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1500508490&sr=1-3

🌰 Comedy Brain

I use it to illustrate the comedy brain. It picks up so much except a lot of the basic stuff that you really need.

Jerry Seinfeld

 VoxophoneFoolish Girls

God made foolish girls so he’d have something to play with.

Fitzroy, D (1912, Feb 12). A Place in the World. Soldier’s Field Voxophone, Recording 022. Bioshock Infinite. 2K Games. 2013. Video Game.


Tony: Turns out I’m a fucking robot to my own pussy-ass weakness.

Weiner, M., & Winter, T. (Writers). (2004, May 2). Unidentified Black Males [Television series episode]. In The Sopranos. HBO.


Deacon: That’s sweeping leaves on a windy day.

Simon, D., & Price, R. (Writers). (2004, September 26). All Due Respect [Television series episode]. In The Wire. HBO.

👍 Patronize

… and the thing about patronization is that it hides its self-involvement with a pretense of goodwill.

Ivan Fyodorovich (2014, Oct 27). Re: What the garbageman doesn’t know [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from http://www.metafilter.com/143948/What-the-garbageman-doesnt-know#5791826

🕒 Everything is Fleeting

Time, and our interaction with time, and the way in which we are all ultimately overmatched and worn down by time, and the notion of cinema as a means of sculpting with time: these and other aspects of temporality are at the heart of “Boyhood.” Time is the core around which all of this movie’s musings on childhood and parenthood are woven. It’s the river down which the scenes and characters travel without consciously realizing that they are on individual journeys that all have the same ending. If life is “about” anything, it’s about realizing and accepting that fact: that everything is fleeting. Time gives birth and nourishes and then obliterates as it moves ahead, like the family which, in an early scene, prepares to move out of a house by covering murals and hand-lettered height charts with white paint. The film ends and the credits come up and you ask the same question that you ask at the end of an evening spent with old, dear friends: where did the time go?

Seitz, M. Z. (2014, July 11). Review: Boyhood (2014). Retrieved from http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/boyhood-2014

🌲🌲🌲 Enlightened Environmentalists

The Bay Area, on the whole, is a case study in how liberalism – and I mean specifically liberalism, rather than socialism/leftism – fails in practice. The city, the peninsula, Silicon Valley, the exurban East Bay, the north bay, and even great swathes of Oakland and Berkeley are places where hyperindividualist liberalism is the governing ideology. Although the residents here mouth statements about inclusivity and acceptance in the abstract, they are completely gung ho about avoiding all of those things should they appear to threaten either property values or creature comforts when actually realized. Moreover, the idea of collective action is absolutely anathema to them, since individual choice is the only version of freedom comprehensible to them. This is how a bunch of property owners in wretched little towns like Palo Alto and Menlo Park, all of whom think of themselves as enlightened environmentalists, end up frantically trying to sabotage high speed rail lines in order to protect the sanctity of their large backyards. This is how Marin county ends up as a hotbed for measles outbreaks triggered by selfish antivaxxers. This is how they all find themselves either comfortable with or totally oblivious to Tom Steyer’s hedge fund’s use of economic force majeure to expel long-term residents of West Oakland to make way for white people – after all, if the people being foreclosed upon after being stuck with predatory loan terms had simply freely chosen not to get scammed, they’d still have their houses, right?

You Can’t Tip a Buick (2015, Feb 4). Re: It’s always the dentists [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from http://www.metafilter.com/146736/Its-always-the-dentists#5923043

🎦 Productivity Theater

I suspect in most cases you’re still only getting 30-40 hours of real work output, even if someone is physically in the office or at their computer 80 hours a week. The rest is productivity theater.

almostmanda (2015, May 4). Re: Why some men pretend to work 80-hour weeks [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from http://www.metafilter.com/149348/Why-some-men-pretend-to-work-80-hour-weeks#6033639


NY Coffee Cup


New York is a hell of a town; the most pretentious people in the world cram themselves into studio apartments to become martyrs to whatever trendy art form they moved here to practice/blog about, and use that fact to feel superior to the rest of the country.

Gallagher, B. (2013, March 15). 10 Most Overrated Cities in America. Retrieved from http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2013/03/overrated-cities-in-america/new-york

Inspiration Porn

And in the past few years, we’ve been able to propagate this lie even further via social media. You may have seen images like this one: “The only disability in life is a bad attitude.” Or this one: “Your excuse is invalid.” Indeed. Or this one: “Before you quit, try!” These are just a couple of examples, but there are a lot of these images out there. You know, you might have seen the one, the little girl with no hands drawing a picture with a pencil held in her mouth. You might have seen a child running on carbon fiber prosthetic legs. And these images, there are lots of them out there, they are what we call inspiration porn. And I use the term porn deliberately because they objectify one group of people for the benefit of another group of people. So in this case, we’re objectifying disabled people for the benefit of nondisabled people. The purpose of these images is to inspire you, to motivate you, so that we can look at them and think, “Well, however bad my life is, it could be worse. I could be that person.”

Young, Stella. “I’m not your inspiration, thank you very much.” TED. April 2014. Lecure. Source: https://www.ted.com/talks/stella_young_i_m_not_your_inspiration_thank_you_very_much?language=en


The Technical

The technical is an improvised fighting vehicle.  That’s just a fancy term for “pickup truck with a machine gun mounted on it,” or as I like to call it, a Texan Parade Float.

Far Cry 3 Survival Guide. Retrieved from http://farcry.wikia.com/wiki/Technical


Adult Swim

Everyone seems to agree that “Bojack Horseman” had a predictable start that suggested a run of one-off eps with snark and pop-culture references and a few celebrity voices and the usual Adult-Swim vibe, where nothing matters and everything is beneath contempt – except for you, you smart discerning viewer who gets all the jokes and understands why the bad jokes are supposed to be bad!

Lileks, J. (2014, September 26). The Bleat. Retrieved from http://lileks.com/bleats/archive/14/0914/092614.html



I never worked so hard to feel so empty.

Grand Theft Auto V. Houser, S., & Humphries, R. Rockstar Games. 2008. Video Game.


Vertically Integrated

Several weeks ago, Vidra communicated the new vision to the staff in what I am told was an uncomfortable stream of business clichés ungrounded in any apparent strategy other than saying things like “let’s break shit” and “we’re a tech company now.”

His memo to the staff predictably uses terms like “straddle generation” and “brand.” It promises to make TNR “a vertically integrated digital media company,” possibly unaware that “vertically integrated” is an actual business concept, not a term for a media company that integrates verticals.

Chait, J. (2014, December 4). A Eulogy for The New Republic. Retrieved from http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/12/eulogy-for-the-new-republic.html

Aggressive Cluelessness

The Last Psychiatrist makes my head hurt, and not in a ‘it really makes you think’ way, but in a ‘You’ve obsessively over-analyzed your own personal neuroticisms, and then attempted to generalize them as something universally applicable’ way.

leotrotsky (2014, Dec 17). Re: Sealioning Explained by The Last Psychiatrist and Louie [Reader Comment].
Retrieved from http://www.metafilter.com/145406/Sealioning-Explained-by-The-Last-Psychiatrist-and-Louie#5860048


The Market

Regulated markets in this way became contaminated by the bad practices of a non-regulated market, to the disadvantage of those who operated within the regulations.

It’s an important point because it sums up the sociopathic nature of a market system that encourages those who don’t abide by the rules to exploit those who do.

Kaminska, I. (2014, October 31). Why banking got out of control in the digital age. Retrieved from https://ftalphaville.ft.com/2014/10/31/2025592/why-banking-got-out-of-control-in-the-digital-age/?mhq5j=e1


Catalog of Compromises

“The Secret Life of Pets” is adequate animated entertainment, amusing while it lasts but not especially memorable except as a catalog of compromises and missed opportunities.

Scott, A. O. (2016, July 7). Review: “The Secret Life of Pets” Amuses, but Misses Opportunities. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/08/movies/the-secret-life-of-pets-review.html


RadioShack is a corporation dedicated to the prolonged destruction of the individual, so it tripled our staff right before Black Friday, ensuring that no one would make any money.

Bois, J. (2015, December 2). A eulogy for RadioShack, the panicked and half-dead retail empire. Retrieved from https://www.sbnation.com/2014/11/26/7281129/radioshack-eulogy-stories


Drug of Choice

Walter: Booze isn’t really your drug of choice. You’re addicted to chaos.

Robinson, P. A. (Director). (2002). Changing Lanes [Motion picture]. USA: Paramount Pictures.


Rabid Alpha

I’d like to think that when I hear that someone is an expert at fighting online fraud, they are protecting everyday consumers from malfeasance by large corporations that reap mass profits by fraudulently adding overcharges that they know the average customer either will not notice or will not have the skills or time to dispute. A champion for the Little Guy.

Instead, we get an egotist who doesn’t care if he risks putting a small local restaurant he enjoys out business, so long as he gets them to submit to his angry will. An over-educated, over-privileged rabid alpha dog.

DrMew (2014, Dec 9). RE: Oh and the food? “It was delicious.” [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from http://www.metafilter.com/145192/Oh-and-the-food-It-was-delicious#5850070


Miller Time

Mike Ehrmantraut:  You know, I can foresee a lot of possible outcomes to this thing, and not a single one of then involves Miller Time.

Gilligan, V. (Writer). (2012, July 15). Live Free or Die [Television series episode]. In Breaking Bad. AMC.




💺💺 💺💺

Most Entitled

You know it’s not malice. You know safety comes first. You know flight crews deal with humanity at its most entitled and short-sighted. But you’re still peeved.

Lileks, J. (2014, July 24). The Bleat. Retrieved from http://lileks.com/bleats/archive/14/0714/072414.html



[Cognitive psychologist Eryn] Newman, who works out of the University of California–Irvine, recently uncovered an unsettling precondition for truthiness: The less effort it takes to process a factual claim, the more accurate it seems. When we fluidly and frictionlessly absorb a piece of information, one that perhaps snaps neatly onto our existing belief structures, we are filled with a sense of comfort, familiarity, and trust. The information strikes us as credible, and we are more likely to affirm it—whether or not we should.

Waldman, K. (2014, September 3). The Science of Truthiness: Conservative beliefs make a lot more sense when you’re not paying attention. Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2014/09/truthiness_research_cognitive_biases_for_simple_clear_conservative_messages.single.html


Creating Misery

The movie offers no insight, no tragic poetry, no startling yet strangely right filmmaking touches, to compensate for the tawdriness. It’s just a straightforward account of people enduring or creating misery.

Seitz, M. Z. (2014, August 29). Review: The Last of Robin Hood (2014). Retrieved from http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-last-of-robin-hood-2014

Control is Challenged

It is this catastrophe and the man’s desperate efforts to correct it that link “All Is Lost” with “Margin Call,” Mr. Chandor’s excellent first feature. That movie, about an office full of panicky investment bankers dealing with the unfolding financial crisis of 2008, is in many ways the opposite of “All Is Lost.” It takes place almost entirely indoors, and it’s pretty much all talk. But it is also very much concerned with how powerful men react when their sense of control is challenged, and with the vast, invisible system that sustains their illusions.

Scott, A. O. (2013, October 17). The Strong, Largely Silent Type “All Is Lost,” With Robert Redford at Sea. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/18/movies/all-is-lost-with-robert-redford-at-sea.html?pagewanted=all


I’m Going Anyway

Llewelyn: “I’m fixin’ to do something dumber than hell, but I’m going anyways.” This could be the tagline for half the movies ever made.

Orr, C. (2014, September 23). 30 Years of Coens: No Country for Old Men. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/09/30-years-of-coens-no-country-for-old-men/380610/


A Hill Nobody Wants to Die On

A lot of filmmakers and distributors have that concern: that even if you’re legally in the right regarding Fair Use-appropriated clips, intellectual property rights-holders might still come after you, and try to bully you into removing clips rather than spend money defending your legal right to use them. That’s a hill pretty much nobody wants to die on.

Seitz, M. Z. (2014, September 25). Why My Video Essay About “All That Jazz” Is Not on the Criterion Blu-Ray. Retrieved from http://www.rogerebert.com/mzs/why-my-video-essay-about-all-that-jazz-is-not-on-the-criterion-blu-ray


Belt Sander

I hope to shoot at least two [videos] a day because as much as I love the [State] Fair, going every day is like a belt-sander to the soul after a while. To wander into the grounds with a tripod, not knowing what I’ll get – it’s an adventure at first, a job in the middle and grinding despair at the end.

Lileks, J. (2014, August 19). The Bleat. Retrieved from http://lileks.com/bleats/archive/14/0814/081914.html


Easy Pickings

I doubt I need to point out that this is nothing but a particular female variant of the psychological need to believe that others take you as seriously as you take yourself. There is nothing particularly wrong with it, as psychological needs go, but yet of course we should always remember that a deep need for anything from other people makes us easy pickings.

Wallace, D. F. (1997, Fall). Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. Retrieved from http://www.theparisreview.org/fiction/1225/brief-interviews-with-hideous-men-david-foster-wallace


Anger Gene

1) I don’t understand how anyone could ever think this was “real” – except the internet seems to have a hard wired anger gene, attenuated by twitter where ordinarily reasonable people want to get outraged over anything just for the dopamine.

2) This is a side-effect of viral culture. In the pre-Internet days, almost everyone who read the piece would be familiar with the New Yorker, and know that “Shouts and Murmurs” is typically comedy or satire. Now, all it takes is some repost to a link bait site and the clueless hordes will rise up with torches and pitchforks demanding retribution.

Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory (2014, Aug 5). Re: Poking the Jazz Hive [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from http://www.metafilter.com/141657/Poking-the-Jazz-Hive#5670376


Innate Entitlement

But it fits with the sense of innate entitlement. Because you are ‘creating a great product’ somehow the rules of the little/lesser people don’t apply to you. You are giving them advancement and they should be grateful for it and not judge you.

savagemike (2014, Aug 26). Re: This is Uber’s playbook for sabotaging Lyft [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from https://www.theverge.com/2014/8/26/6067663/this-is-ubers-playbook-for-sabotaging-lyft?mc_cid=b051b95564&mc_eid=bb561ea0a9#253297600