8

‍🗨️

Cover its Tracks

Contempt is frequently overt, but it can also be very subtle. Sometimes it hides itself under superficially polite language and behavior, with the real meaning recognizable only to its targets. Often it is put forward as merely good-natured fun or, in the parlance of 2016, “locker room” talk. It is troublingly easy for contempt to cover its tracks. It is also troublingly easy for listeners to take up another’s contempt without realizing it. This is particularly true when contempt is expressed as mockery.

Stohr, K. (2017, January 23). Our New Age of Contempt. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/23/opinion/our-new-age-of-contempt.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-right-region&region=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region

⚖️

To Annihilate Truth

The Russian dissident and chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov drew upon long familiarity with that process when he tweeted: “The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.”

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?_r=0

📣

Judge a Friend

Speaking on Tuesday night, Mr. Maher, who counts himself as a liberal, did not sound particularly chastened by these assessments. He said he knew his interview with Mr. Yiannopoulos would never be satisfactory to some viewers. “No matter what I did,” he said, “it was never going to be enough for that slice of liberalism that would much rather judge a friend than engage an enemy, because it’s easier.”

Itzkoff, D. (2017, February 22). Bill Maher, Faulted for Booking Milo Yiannopoulos, Takes Credit for His Fall. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/22/arts/television/bill-maher-milo-yiannopoulos-interview.html?ribbon-ad-idx=3&rref=homepage&module=Ribbon&version=origin&region=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Home%20Page&pgtype=article

📜

Comic Sans

I’m pretty sure that the Comic Sans mocking is only because it has been so overused for things like shitty break room printout announcements and stuff like that. It’s an unimaginative choice of font for communicating that people use to say “hey, this should be read but shouldn’t be taken too personally even if it is an edict issued from Above”.

hippybear (2017, Feb 25). Re: The truly villainous font is the ubiquitous Times New Roman [Blog Comment]. Retrieved from http://www.metafilter.com/165320/The-truly-villainous-font-is-the-ubiquitous-Times-New-Roman#6936286

🛣️

We’re Trying to Get Through Our Day

Look, you’re a human, I’m a human. We’re breathing the same air. We have the same problems. We’re trying to get through our day. Who the fuck are you to throw a log in the road of somebody who has a different set of difficulties in life?

Marchese, D. (2017, March 5). In Conversation: David Letterman. Retrieved from http://www.vulture.com/2017/03/david-letterman-in-conversation.html

👊

Pulled into Other People’s Fights

Maybe Kong, the last of his kind, is supposed to be the lone superpower, a kindhearted tough guy that only wants to be left alone but keeps getting pulled into other people’s fights.

Seitz, M. Z. (2017, March 5). Kong: Skull Island (2017). Retrieved from http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/kong-skull-island-2017

👂

Electronic Augmentation

I once saw Yann Martel put forth the following analogy in a talk:

A deer in the forest has senses that let it monitor its environment out to a certain diameter. For the sake of the analogy let’s say it’s 250 meters, give or take depending on various factors (e.g. weather). That is all the deer needs. If a predator is further away then it doesn’t really concern the deer. Now let’s say we electronically augmented the deer’s senses so that it could monitor the forest up to a kilometer around it. It would be aware of a lot more predators but that wouldn’t actually be of any use to it because a predator further away than its unaugmented senses could detect shouldn’t be of any concern. The only result of augmenting the deer’s senses would be to stress the animal out, negatively impacting it. Almost every human being on the planet has senses that have been electronically augmented, through mass media and the internet and so on, resulting in the stresses of modern existence.

Kattullus (2010, April 25). Re: Mean World Syndrome [Blog Comment]. Retrieved from http://www.metafilter.com/91365/Mean-World-Syndrome#3059109

👀

Paranoid

And of course it is true that to one degree or another we are, in fact, hostile to each other, and when we are accused of holding that hostility, we do indeed hate the accusation and the accuser. So that the paranoid creates the reality which proves him right.

Miller, A. (2016). It Could Happen Here–And Did (1967). In Collected Essays: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition).

📲

Last Trace of Sentiment

…but what it comes down to is that a lot of people are pretty sure they’re getting cheated. If you think the world has screwed you, you get mad.

They notice that the attempt to squeeze the last cent of profit out of any operation has also squeezed the last trace of sentiment out of what passes for human interaction. They see that technology serves relentless efficiency, and somewhere in that efficiency life gets joyless and existence precarious.

[…]

They observe how put-together types with attitude and little qualification can make a bundle buying and eviscerating solid companies that actually produce things or setting up consultancies that trade on connections at the money-influence margins of politics. They know that if something goes wrong with the rigged system the losses will get “socialized.” Regular schmucks who work a shift will pay while insiders walk away. That’s how things have been since the 21st century began. The fix is always in.

Cohen, R. (2017, February 28). The Madness of Crowds. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/28/opinion/the-madness-of-crowds.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region&region=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region

🕳️

Genius

The genius of the hole: no matter how long you spend climbing out, you can still fall back down in an instant.

Max Payne. Dir. Sam Lake. Remedy Entertainment, 2001. Video Game.

7

🎩

Talking-Point Armor

If Ryan and McConnell tried to remain boxed off from the earthquake, Priebus occupied another shelter, constructed of talking-point armor, alternate reality and denial.

Leibovich, M. (2016, June 21). Will Trump Swallow the G.O.P. Whole? Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/26/magazine/will-trump-swallow-the-gop-whole.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=b-lede-package-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

😠

Pre-outraged for Your Convenience

Now. What have I done wrong today? What did I just do wrong up there? This is the Internet, after all, and for those people who come pre-outraged for your convenience, there’s much that requires frant-O-type fulminations about other people’s innumerable deficiencies. I’m sure I should GET A GRIP and I’m sure I need to be told that NO ONE CARES LOL and it’s quite certain that a very, very motivated Steve Martin fan is angry that I criticized him in a dream, because his sense of self is bound up with a college identity that included enjoying “Let’s Get Small,” and attacking the work is an attack on him, and his critical faculties.
Someone is mad because their dog died after it ate chocolate, and THAT’S NOT FUNNY. I didn’t say it was. I just said I was worried about the dog in my dream. I had a lady yell at me in the grocery store for writing “I almost had a heart attack” in a column” because her husband had just had a heart attack and THAT’S NOT FUNNY.

[…]

There are civil places. But the miserable bitchery of the comments in sites that have no particular reason to exist other than barfing out clickbait chum into the canals – it’s just extraordinary, and Facebook is the tool that lets people wander in to any site and pop off.

[…]

The Internet didn’t change people. People changed the internet. We always thought it would empower everyone to have a voice, but those were the early heady days. As it turned out, we underestimated the extent to which self-righteousness, ignorance, historical illiteracy, and the utter confidence of perpetually adolescent brains would form a free-floating thundercloud of perpetual contempt. We all know this. In some way I think we all hate the internet.

Lileks, J. (2016, June 23). The Bleat. Retrieved from http://lileks.com/bleats/archive/16/0616/062316.html

🔮

Safety of Obscurity

Ironically the vagueness of abstract words is one reason for their popularity. It is harder to be precise. We are often tempted to prefer the safer obscurity of the abstract.

Prowriting Aid User Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved June 26, 2016, from p. 51 https://prowritingaid.com/docs/ProWritingAidManual.pdf

🦂

Watch the Claw

When you follow all the Hot Issues of the Day Everyone Is Furious About, you’re looking the scorpion in the eye, thinking you can glare him down with your indignation. Big mistake. Watch the claw. Beware the tail.

Lileks, J. (2016, November 10). The Bleat. Retrieved from http://www.lileks.com/bleats//archive/16/1116/111016.html

👑

Oligarchs-in-Waiting

Guliani is like those things that leap out of people chests in the Alien movies. Gingrich, Christy, Bannon, Ailes, are all like characters in the bar scene in Star Wars. The First Family are like robots programmed for monarcho-fascism. So, put a bunch of paranoid crackpots, oligarchs-in-waiting and desperate has-beens in a gilded palace to divvy up unimaginable power, and place at the center a terrified, clueless, instinctively cruel narcissist who never dreamed in his worst nightmares that he would be in such an impossible position, what could go right?

(2016, November 15). Re: Why Rudy Giuliani Shouldn’t Be Secretary of State. Editorial. [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/16/opinion/why-rudy-giuliani-shouldnt-be-secretary-of-state.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region&region=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region

🍕

Postmortem

When the fall of the United States is written about by future historians, the Internet will figure prominently in the postmortem. The time of the slow, deliberate spread of information is over. There is no filter, nothing to confirm or verify reports, nothing to prevent people from seeking out and occupying a narrow silo of information that merely amplifies their foolish beliefs.

No one in prior decades would have taken a rifle to a pizza shop based on a column in The Times. All the poisons that lurk in the mud are hatching out, courtesy of your local ISP.

Krugman, P. (2016, December 19). How Republics End. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/19/opinion/how-republics-end.html?action=click&contentCollection=World&module=Trending&version=Full&region=Marginalia&pgtype=article

🎭

Don’t Try to Make It Funny

Mr. Wilder’s rule for comedy was simple: Don’t try to make it funny; try to make it real. “I’m an actor, not a clown,” he said more than once.

Lewis, D. (2016, August 29). Gene Wilder Dies at 83; Star of “Willy Wonka” and “Young Frankenstein.” Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/30/movies/gene-wilder-dead.html

☂️

Safe Choices

You’ve made just enough safe choices to stay alive but not enough to matter. Is that what you want? You can be more. You want to be more, don’t you?

The window of opportunity is closing. This is your chance. This is not about not losing. This is about you finally having the confidence to walk out on the ledge and know that you’re not going to fall.

Halt and Catch Fire. Directed by Juan José Campanella, performance by Lee Pace, AMC. June 1, 2014. Amazon Prime, https://www.amazon.com/I-O/dp/B00KCXIHJG/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1498408932&sr=8-2&keywords=halt+and+catch+fire+season+1

🔗

Populist

Many reporters are using the term “populist,” which seems both inadequate and misleading. I guess racism can be considered populist in the sense that it represents the views of some non-elite people. But are the other shared features of this movement — addiction to conspiracy theories, indifference to the rule of law, a penchant for punishing critics — really captured by the “populist” label?

Krugman, P. (2016, December 23). Populism, Real and Phony. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/23/opinion/populism-real-and-phony.html?action=click&contentCollection=Travel&module=Trending&version=Full&region=Marginalia&pgtype=article

🏭

Contempt and Dim Prospects

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, whose 2012 “Twilight of the Elites” called for rethinking the entire ethos of liberal “meritocracy” — a system, he argued, that tends to fuel self-congratulation and incompetence at the top while offering little but contempt and dim prospects for those at the bottom.

Gage, B. (2017, January 3). How “Elites” Became One of the Nastiest Epithets in American Politics. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/03/magazine/how-elites-became-one-of-the-nastiest-epithets-in-american-politics.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=mini-moth&region=top-stories-below&WT.nav=top-stories-below

👫

Attachment models

Indeed, researchers said, people who have insecure attachment models tend to be drawn to those who fit their expectations, even if they are treated badly. They may subconsciously act in ways that elicit insensitive, unreliable or abusive behavior, whatever is most familiar. Or they may flee secure attachments because they feel unfamiliar.

Murphy, K. (2017, January 7). Yes, It’s Your Parents’ Fault. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/07/opinion/sunday/yes-its-your-parents-fault.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region&region=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region&_r=0

👙

Luck

You’d find that Lady Luck was really a hooker, and you were fresh out of cash.

Max Payne. Dir. Sam Lake. Remedy Entertainment, 2001. Video Game.

6

🚧

Law of Life

There was that law of life, so cruel and so just, that one must grow or else pay more for remaining the same.

Mailer, N. (1955). The Deer Park. G.P. Putnam’s Sons. Ch. 26.

📚

Pointless Parade

History seems to be a pointless parade of insignificant events until we shape it into something that has significance for us, until we build myths out of it, until we begin using it to make up stories.

And after Sept. 11, 2001, as Latour quickly began to notice, people of all political stripes were rushing to attribute responsibility for the attacks to whatever party or supernatural force best indulged their fantasies about how the world works.

Smith, J. E. (2016, June 4). No, He’s Not Hitler. And Yet … Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/05/opinion/sunday/no-hes-not-hitler-and-yet.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-right-region®ion=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region

🌏

Inevitable Way of the World

Our principles, as lofty as we believe them to be, are imperfect. Many of us have an implicit belief that wealth and merit are connected, and that this connection is preordained and immutable. One would think that the examples of Donald Trump, Brock Turner, and all the other wealthy miscreants would stifle this belief, but predestination and the other residues of Calvinism are deeply entrenched in us. As a result, too many Americans see nothing wrong or undesirable with inequality, considering it God’s will and the inevitable way of the world. This is changing, and change will continue, but too slowly.

Edsall, T. B. (2016, June 9). Separated at Birth. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/09/opinion/campaign-stops/separated-at-birth.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region&region=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region

🔨

Evil is Incremental

“We all want to believe in our inner power, our sense of personal agency, to resist external situational forces of the kinds operating in this Stanford Prison Experiment,” Zimbardo reflected. “For many, that belief of personal power to resist powerful situational and systemic forces is little more than a reassuring illusion of invulnerability.”

We take comfort in the notion of an unbridgeable gulf between good and evil, but maybe we should understand, as Zimbardo’s work suggested, that evil is incremental—something we are all capable of, given the right circumstances.

Bauer, S. (2016, July-August). My four months as a private prison guard. Retrieved from http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/06/cca-private-prisons-corrections-corporation-inmates-investigation-bauer/

👳

Culture of Grievance

One of the Arab world’s most prominent and debilitating features, I had long felt, was a culture of grievance that was defined less by what people aspired to than by what they opposed.

Anderson, S. (2016, August 11). Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Came Apart. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/08/11/magazine/isis-middle-east-arab-spring-fractured-lands.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=nytmm_FadingSlideShow_item&module=photo-spot-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

🌵

Committed Insincerity

For some reason I think of Yosemite Sam in that election-themed cartoon, sidling up to Bugs, saying “I lahk you, rabbit. You’re a good joe.” with broad, committed insincerity.

Lileks, J. (2016, August 16). The Bleat. Retrieved from http://lileks.com/bleats/archive/16/0816/081616.html

🗿

Permanence a Fiction

We are conditioned to believe that art is safe, beyond the reach of the grimy world. We don’t hang the Mona Lisa next to an archery range. We put her in a fortress: walls, checkpoints, lasers, guards, bulletproof glass. There are scholars, textbooks, posters — a whole collective mythology suggesting that the work will live forever. But safety is largely an illusion, and permanence a fiction. Empires hemorrhage wealth, bombs fall on cities, religious radicals decimate ancient temples. Destruction happens in any number of ways, for any number of reasons, at any number of speeds — and it will happen, and no amount of reverence will stop it.

Anderson, S. (2016, August 17). David’s Ankles: How Imperfections Could Bring Down the World’s Most Perfect Statue. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/21/magazine/davids-ankles-how-imperfections-could-bring-down-the-worlds-most-perfect-statue.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=photo-spot-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

💁

Cohesion

Is that actually why you’re here? I thought it was to create staff cohesion through our shared contempt for you.

Source Unknown

💊

Give In to Practicality

His Adderall patients are overwhelmingly creative people who wanted to work in the arts — yet, he says, many have chosen other paths, safer paths, resigning themselves before they’ve even really tried to achieve what they hoped for. “They often give in to practicality,” he says. “Then they feel they missed out. And when they take Adderall, it makes them feel good, so they don’t focus on the fact that they feel like they sold out.” Many people are using Adderall to mask a sense of disappointment in themselves, Stratyner says, because it narrows their focus down to simply getting through each day, instead of the larger context of what they’re trying to build with their lives. “It becomes extremely psychologically and physiologically addictive,” he says. “It’s really a tough drug to get off of.”

Schwartz, C. (2016, October 12). Generation Adderall. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/16/magazine/generation-adderall-addiction.html?action=click&contentCollection=Europe&module=Trending&version=Full&region=Marginalia&pgtype=article

🗽

Insulated from Outside Pressures

But what directly drives the attack on democracy, I’d argue, is simple careerism on the part of people who are apparatchiks within a system insulated from outside pressures by gerrymandered districts, unshakable partisan loyalty, and lots and lots of plutocratic financial support.

Krugman, P. (2016, December 19). How Republics End. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/19/opinion/how-republics-end.html?action=click&contentCollection=World&module=Trending&version=Full&region=Marginalia&pgtype=article

🍟

Junk Food News

In the last few years, many news organizations have steered themselves away from public-interest journalism and toward junk-food news, chasing page views in the vain hope of attracting clicks and advertising (or investment) – but like junk food, you hate yourself when you’ve gorged on it. The most extreme manifestation of this phenomenon has been the creation of fake news farms, which attract traffic with false reports that are designed to look like real news and are therefore widely shared on social networks. But the same principle applies to news that is misleading or sensationally dishonest, even if it wasn’t created to deceive: the new measure of value for too many news organizations is virality rather than truth or quality.

The increasing prevalence of this approach suggests that we are in the midst of a fundamental change in the values of journalism – a consumerist shift. Instead of strengthening social bonds, or creating an informed public, or the idea of news as a civic good, a democratic necessity, it creates gangs, which spread instant falsehoods that fit their views, reinforcing each other’s beliefs, driving each other deeper into shared opinions, rather than established facts.

[…]

The story, as Chippindale and Horrie write, is a “classic smear”, free of any attributable evidence and “precisely fitting MacKenzie’s formula by publicizing the half-baked ignorant prejudice being voiced all over the country”.

But the age of relentless and instant information – and uncertain truths – can be overwhelming. We careen from outrage to outrage, but forget each one very quickly: it’s doomsday every afternoon.

Viner, K. (2016, July 12). How technology disrupted the truth. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/jul/12/how-technology-disrupted-the-truth

 

Free Course

Whatever the story, [William S. Burroughs] later remarked that the “teaching gig was a lesson in never again.”

Jones, J. (2014, March 17). William S. Burroughs Teaches a Free Course on Creative Reading and Writing (1979). Retrieved from http://www.openculture.com/2014/03/william-s-burroughs-lectures-on-creative-reading-and-writing.html

5

🔖

“Excuse me, but…’Proactive?’…’Paradigm?’ Aren’t these just buzzwords that dumb people use to sound important?”

No, they are important concepts in helping potential investors understand that their money will be going towards immanentizing innovation as this group drills down to mindshare on organically dealing with the low-hanging fruit of their inter-connected passions.

nubs (2016, April 19). Re: I do not have the answer to that one [Blog Comment]. Retrieved from http://www.metafilter.com/158751/I-do-not-have-the-answer-to-that-one#6488428

👊

Sudden Aggressive Behavior

I am not by nature a violent person but that Elkus kid has a face designed to encourage sudden aggressive behavior.

1adam12 (2016, April 19). Re: I do not have the answer to that one [Blog Comment]. Retrieved from http://www.metafilter.com/158751/I-do-not-have-the-answer-to-that-one#6488395

🐷

Like Pigpen, But with Buzzwords

He’s supposedly a Creative Director, but he doesn’t do Creative or, seemingly, any Directing. He does, however, do a really good job of creating a cloud of buzzwords around himself. Like Pigpen, but with buzzwords.

functionequalsform (2016, April 19 7:33 AM CST). Re: I do not have the answer to that one [Blog Comment]. Retrieved from http://www.metafilter.com/158751/I-do-not-have-the-answer-to-that-one#6488459

💵

…modern capitalism has nothing to do with providing goods or services.

Also, we were just talking about how the super rich in the US* still feel the need to “work” so you get these pointless groups and usually charitable organizations that only exist to hide assets and give awards to each other.

(The context was a mountaintop retreat for “influencers” where the non-US people rightly regarded it as a fun ski holiday while the US billionaires had to pretend it was about …helping the developing world by going to a lot of speeches and having their assistants make graphs)

The Whelk (2016, April 19). Re: I do not have the answer to that one [Blog Comment]. Retrieved from http://www.metafilter.com/158751/I-do-not-have-the-answer-to-that-one#6488704

👰

Hope over Experience

Marriage is the triumph of imagination over intelligence. Second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience.

Oscar Wilde

🎥

“Professional, in the sense that the people who made it were compensated.”

As in the original, the design is at once hideous and bland—like a rough draft of a CGI-driven blockbuster that filmmakers would show to studio bosses only to ask for more time and money to create something releasable.

Seitz, M. Z. (2016, May 24). Review: Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016). Retrieved from http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/alice-through-the-looking-glass-2016

▌🐒

Background of Life

He is now as near to contentment as he is ever likely to be; for though he is still hungry, he is not actually weak with hunger. That was the most that any hominid could hope for.

It would be very cold tonight – but cold, like hunger, was not a matter for any real concern; it was merely part of the background of life.

And in the caves, in tortured spells of fitful dozing and fearful waiting, were gathered the nightmares of generations yet to come.

Novel sensations fill his dim mind — the first faint precursors of bravery and leadership.

They have no conscious memory of what they had seen; but that night, as he sits brooding at the entrance of his lair, his ears attuned to the noises of the world around him, Moonwatcher feels the first faint twinges of a new and potent emotion – the urge to kill. He had taken his first step towards humanity.

He has combined the errors of overconfidence and bad luck.

But no Utopia is perfect, and this one had two blemishes.

If it had been alive, it would have felt excitement, but such an emotion was irrelevant to its great powers. Even if the ship had passed it by, it would not have known the slightest trace of disappointment. It had waited four million years; it was prepared to wait for eternity.

Kubrik, S., & Clark, A. C. (1968). 2001: A Space Odyssey. Retrieved from http://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/2001.html

Bureaucratic Indifference

“Do you know if she can be moved to St. John’s?” she asked in an email, seeking a way to undo the past.
Again and again, bulging guardianship files show that the consequences of bad luck and bureaucratic indifference fall with disproportionate cruelty on people who lack the buffer of money.

Bernstein, N. (2016, May 15). Unearthing The Secrets of New York’s Mass Graves. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/05/15/nyregion/new-york-mass-graves-hart-island.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=photo-spot-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

👴

What Hotel Did You Stay At?

A third kind of statement casts a different spell. Barbara Hillary, an adventurer who, after reaching the South Pole in 2011 at age 79, became the first African-American woman on record to stand on both poles, said: “Often these comments have power because we are completely overwhelmed by their stupidity. They reinforce the idea that we are not born equally. And you’re made to feel guilty if you look at people and think, ‘I never seriously thought about sterilization until now.’” She added: “One person I met put this wise, erudite expression on his face and asked, ‘What hotel did you stay at on the North Pole?’ That’ll stop you in your tracks.”

Alford, H. (2016, May 20). The Remarkable Shelf Life of the Offhand Comment. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/22/fashion/comments-manners-insults.html?contentCollection=weekendreads&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=c-column-middle-span-region®ion=c-column-middle-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-middle-span-region

I’ll Be Over Here

It’s one thing to say you don’t care what people say and refuse to be tarred by association – I get that. It’s another to provide a vessel through which anti-Semitism courses, and I’ve read [Vox Day’s] site and its comments. The latter range from sarcastic sorta-mocking anti-Jew sneers to that wry, realistic tone of someone who knows what’s really up in this world, and how you can’t say it because of PC, which is fine, which is fine. All you sheeple enjoy your mud person world. I’ll be over here at this other site with the realists.

Lileks, J. (2016, June 3). Screed. Retrieved from http://lileks.com/screed/060116.html

👳

Meme-Phase

If a genie gave me three wishes, I would probably waste one of them on eliminating this idiot meme-phrase from the internet’s lazy response lexicon.

prize bull octorok (2016, Dec 21). Re: All the NOPE [Blog Comment].
Retrieved from http://www.metafilter.com/164143/All-the-NOPE#6850805

👚

Bespoke This

Also, [bespoke] “sounds old-fashioned and traditional,” Ms. Tannen said, naming two qualities common to the hipsterish faith that earlier generations did things in a more natural, and so, more righteous, way.

“It’s part of the authenticity hoax,” Mr. Riccio said.

[…]

“One thing’s for sure,” he said. “Calling something bespoke automatically allows you to add $50 to the price.”

Farber, J. (2016, August 8). Bespoke This, Bespoke That. Enough Already. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/12/fashion/mens-style/bespoke-word-meaning-usage-language.html?&moduleDetail=section-news-3&action=click&contentCollection=Media®ion=Footer&module=MoreInSection&version=WhatsNext&contentID=WhatsNext&pgtype=article

4

👧

Lame, Failed Attempt

He also knew that if he ever embarrassed himself by pursuing a girl in the tribe and being rejected, she’d tell the other girls about it—not only would he have blown his chance with that girl, but he might never have a mate at all now because every girl that would ever be in his life knew about his lame, failed attempt. Being socially accepted was everything.

Urban, T. (2014, June 13). Taming the Mammoth: Why You Should Stop Caring What Other People Think. Retrieved from http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/06/taming-mammoth-let-peoples-opinions-run-life.html

🌌

Slight Denial

Thinking about how overwhelmingly important it is to pick the right life partner is like thinking about how huge the universe really is or how terrifying death really is—it’s too intense to internalize the reality of it, so we just don’t think about it that hard and remain in slight denial about the magnitude of the situation.

Urban, T. (2014, February 12). How to Pick Your Life Partner – Part 1. Retrieved from http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/02/pick-life-partner.html

👸

Love Congratulating Myself

The people who don’t know that these ideas are silly fictions don’t care and aren’t listening. Meanwhile the I Fucking Love Congratulating Myself for Loving Fucking Science circle jerk continues to smugly spunk off all over my social media feeds.

howfar (2016, April 22 3:28 PM CST). Re: There are no things, there are only truths [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from http://www.metafilter.com/158852/There-are-no-things-there-are-only-truths#6494855

👶

Freed from Any Fixed Code of Conduct

We’re in a time like nothing before where a large percentage of the first-world population has both the time and resources to direct their path, freed from any fixed code of conduct. Sacrificed by the tunnel vision that’s created from self-indulgence and hedonism are concepts on the periphery, such as consequence, personal responsibility and that archaic notion of nobility.

Source Unknown

👳

Detainees’ Motivations

“Interrogation techniques can also succeed or fail depending on the detainees’ motivations,” says Arie W. Kruglanski, founding member of the National Center for the Study of Terrorism and the Response to Terrorism.

Interrogators should not assume “humans are driven by the pursuit of pleasure and eschewal of pain,” he wrote in National Interest, “because recent research suggests alternative motives – the quest for truth, for personal significance, for control, autonomy and relatedness – can often trump hedonic pleasure and pain concerns.”

Mansoor, S. (2015, July 11). Psychologists authorize CIA, DOD torture, says report. Does torture work? Retrieved from http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/USA-Update/2015/0711/Psychologists-authorize-CIA-DOD-torture-says-report.-Does-torture-work-video

🎬

Widespread Pushback

“The Birth of a Nation” is a revenge movie for an aggrieved time in U.S. history, when those who would “take back America” encounter widespread pushback from people who never got their turn at the wheel.

Seitz, M. Z. (2016, October 7). Review: The Birth of a Nation (2016). Retrieved from http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-birth-of-a-nation-2016

🐾

Hungry Creature

Outrage is too much of a hungry creature willing to feed on anything that looks a bit like food…

Khin Myint (2016, September 23). Re: Will the Left Survive the Millennials? [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/23/opinion/will-the-left-survive-the-millennials.html?action=click&contentCollection=Science&module=Trending&version=Full®ion=Marginalia&pgtype=article

👿

Undisturbed by Truth

Nicholas von Hoffman of The Washington Post blasted the series, arguing that “if the networks are going to propagandize this way, there ought to be equal time for reality… Anybody who accepts that view of the White House will coast through life undisturbed by truth in any form”

Nicholas von Hoffman of the Washington Post (as cited in Television Obscurities: Nancy (2009, August 13). Retrieved from http://www.tvobscurities.com/articles/nancy/

🌉

Happy Ending

If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.

Orson Welles

🍇

Sustainable, if Superficial

They seemed content to forge a relationship of sustainable, if superficial, conversation that allowed them to exist in the same room as father and son as long as they both had something to divert the bulk of their attention.

Wcladley. (2016, September 6). The Game Room – Chapter 2. Retrieved from http://www.critiquecircle.com/queue.asp?action=lookup&id=130760

🗻

Surrogate Journeys

Each passing week allowed him to use his disposable income to pursue new and different hobbies, which became surrogate journeys for the exploration of life that he was deferring.

Wcladley. (2016, September 6). The Game Room – Chapter 2. Retrieved from http://www.critiquecircle.com/queue.asp?action=lookup&id=130760

💼

Security and Predictability

In 1992, these circumstances were very much anchored in the post-World War II social order that promised security and predictability in exchange for routine and consistency. The rhythms and expectations of the life into which Randy was born were such unquestioned realities of American society that people couldn’t perceive or interpret their decline.

Wcladley. (2016, September 6). The Game Room – Chapter 2. Retrieved from http://www.critiquecircle.com/queue.asp?action=lookup&id=130760

🎇

Nostalgia

His earliest memories were happy, at least from a distance of three decades—a distance that begins to substitute the intricacies of actual experience with a broad, comforting nostalgia.

Wcladley. (2016, September 6). The Game Room – Chapter 2. Retrieved from http://www.critiquecircle.com/queue.asp?action=lookup&id=130760

🎰 

Opportunity and Regret

Circumstances saved him from poverty, but anchored him in stagnation, allowing him to be insulated from the extreme economic brutalities of the era while ensnaring him in a mild but consistent state of personal desperation. He had no full-time job, no girlfriend, no lasting social connections, and found himself at an intersection of life where the question of one’s future is influenced by opportunity and regret in equal measure.

Wcladley. (2016, September 6). The Game Room – Chapter 2. Retrieved from http://www.critiquecircle.com/queue.asp?action=lookup&id=130760

👔

Buzzword Vortex

Helena appears to be less a philanthropic startup than a buzzword vortex. Which is to say they’ll probably do very well. They have mystery seed funding and a deck. They have a staff of publicists. They have a handsome founder who can blow smoke up Inc. Only the few, the special, and Selena Gomez know what they do—but when has that ever mattered? We’ve been promised “impact.” Everyone loves impact.

Biddle, S. (2016, April 18). I Have No Idea What This Startup Does and Nobody Will Tell Me. Retrieved from http://gawker.com/i-have-no-idea-what-this-startup-does-and-nobody-will-t-1771036238

📤

Proactive

“Excuse me, but… ‘Proactive?’ ‘Paradigm?’ Aren’t these just buzzwords that dumb people use to sound important?”

Sounds like someone is not being proactive about disrupting their paradigm.

leotrotsky (2016, April 19). Re: I do not have the answer to that one [Blog comment]. Retrieved from http://www.metafilter.com/158751/I-do-not-have-the-answer-to-that-one#6488422

 

3

THE 30/30/30 RULE

For every creative thing you do: 1/3 will love you, 1/3 will hate you, and 1/3 won’t care.

Fear creates anger, frustration, feelings of inadequacy and lack of accomplishment. Which manifests as self-anger. Which can be manifested as self-hatred. Which is difficult to own, so is taken out on others.

Altucher, J. (2014, March). The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Dealing With Haters. Retrieved from http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2014/03/the-ultimate-cheat-sheet-for-dealing-with-haters/

💺

Sell it Back to Them

The business model of the air travel industry is to strip passengers of comfort and convenience, and then sell it back to them. You will find the comfort you seek at a price, at the airlines’ membership lounges.

Holbrook, C. (2016, April 6). Airports, Designed for Everyone but the Passenger. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/10/travel/airport-architecture.html?contentCollection=weekendreads&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=c-column-middle-span-region®ion=c-column-middle-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-middle-span-region&_r=0

Immense Hypocrisy

I practice part time in rural TN and can attest to this article. An entire generation of uneducated white people is self-destructing in an orgy of narcotics, alcohol, and illicit drugs. They are all politically conservative and never miss an opportunity to denigrate the federal government. The immense hypocrisy that most of them are on Medicare disability for their addictions and self-induced illnesses is completely beneath their awareness. They rail against immigrants who come to America to work in their place because they can’t be bothered by manual labor. The academicians can analyze this phenomenon and ascribe many societal factors, but at the end of the day, it comes down to personal responsibility and hard work. I have way more sympathy for inner city African-Americans who at least can complain of a legacy of discrimination.

FL Doc (2016, April 10 6:48 PM CDT). Re: A new divide in American death [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2016/04/10/a-new-divide-in-american-death/

Stubborn Pride

These rural folks with their wrong-headed attitudes are indeed a sadness to behold; proud of their ignorance, shunning education, science, healthcare and clinging to a deadly stubborn pride.

809212876 (2016, April 10 2:03 PM CDT). Re: A new divide in American death [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2016/04/10/a-new-divide-in-american-death/

🌅

Illusions Fell Through

Most of the folks this effects were generally low intelligence voters anyway, easily swayed by right-wing religion into believing that if they’d just support the godly Republicans in their fight against the evil gay loving abortion promoting godless heathen Democrats, and give all your money to Oral Roberts or Benny Hinn or Cephelo Dollar, that God would just take care of you. When all of those illusions fell through, and these folks were left rotting in poverty, they then had to resort to welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, and food banks…..all things they’ve despised as being the life of those worthless welfare black people of the inner city.

Reader Response (2016, April 10). Re: A new divide in American death [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2016/04/10/a-new-divide-in-american-death/

📣

Authentic Voice

Your Authentic Voice is also someone the mammoth tends to ignore entirely. A strong opinion from a confident person in the outside world? The mammoth is all ears. But a passionate plea from your AV is largely dismissed until someone else validates it.

But in today’s large, complex world of varying cultures and personalities and opportunities and options, losing touch with your AV is dangerous. When you don’t know who you are, the only decision-making mechanism you’re left with is the crude and outdated needs and emotions of your mammoth. When it comes to the most personal questions, instead of digging deep into the foggy center of what you really believe in to find clarity, you’ll look to others for the answers. Who you are becomes some blend of the strongest opinions around you.

Losing touch with your AV also makes you fragile, because when your identity is built on the approval of others, being criticized or rejected by others really hurts. A bad break-up is painful for everyone, but it stings in a much deeper place for a mammoth-run person than for a person with a strong AV.

AVs lead. Mammoths follow.

Leadership is natural for most AVs, because they draw their thoughts and opinions from an original place, which gives them an original angle. And if they’re smart and innovative enough, they can change things in the world and invent things that disrupt the status quo. If you give someone a paintbrush and an empty canvas, they might not paint something good—but they’ll change the canvas in one way or another.
Mammoths, on the other hand, follow—by definition. That’s what they were built to do—blend in and follow the leader. The last thing a mammoth is going to do is change the status quo because it’s trying so hard to be the status quo. When you give someone a paintbrush and canvas, but the paint is the same exact color as the canvas, they can paint all they want, but they won’t change anything.

Urban, T. (2014, June 13). Taming the Mammoth: Why You Should Stop Caring What Other People Think. Retrieved from http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/06/taming-mammoth-let-peoples-opinions-run-life.html

🚄

The Teen Years

Anyone who knows 9 to 23-year-olds knows that they tend to detract more value from the world than they add, but as you can see on this graph, the teen years, and especially ages 12 to 16, are a full train wreck.

Urban, T. (2014, December 23). The Teen Years: 9 Cringe-Inducing Realizations. Retrieved from http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/12/the-teen-years-9-cringe-inducing-realizations.html

🌌

Unconscious Fog

On a day-to-day level, one of the greatest challenges facing most humans is the quest to avoid living in an unconscious fog—this fog is where you are when you make big life decisions for small-minded reasons, when you short-sightedly side-step your own integrity, when you continually prioritize the wrong things over the right things, settle for mediocrity out of fear, or waste huge amounts of your precious time procrastinating.

Urban, T. (2014, October 10). How Religion Got in the Way. Retrieved from http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/10/how-religion-got-in-the-way.html

Smallest Bit Upwards

There are no hard problems, only problems that are hard to a certain level of intelligence. Move the smallest bit upwards [in level of intelligence], and some problems will suddenly move from “impossible” to “obvious.” Move a substantial degree upwards, and all of them will become obvious.

Quote from Eliezer S. Yudkowsky appearing in Chapter Two. Kurzweil, R. (2005). The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (1st ed.). The Viking Press.

Inflated View

Paul Harvey, a University of New Hampshire professor and GYPSY expert, has researched this, finding that Gen Y has “unrealistic expectations and a strong resistance toward accepting negative feedback,” and “an inflated view of oneself.”  He says that “a great source of frustration for people with a strong sense of entitlement is unmet expectations. They often feel entitled to a level of respect and rewards that aren’t in line with their actual ability and effort levels, and so they might not get the level of respect and rewards they are expecting.”

Urban, T. (2013, September 9). Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy. Retrieved from http://waitbutwhy.com/2013/09/why-generation-y-yuppies-are-unhappy.html

🍹

Biggest Dick

You’re then asked for your ID by someone who may not have been the biggest dick in your high school—but he was the biggest dick in someone’s high school.

Urban, T. (2014, May 27). Why You Secretly Hate Cool Bars. Retrieved from http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/05/secretly-hate-bars.html

💬

No Middle Finger Button

Our friend Daniel’s post was quite a feat—in one simple paragraph, he sliced through my soul, accomplishing nearly every terrible status type and motivation discussed above.  The thing is, though, that if you looked right below his post, all you saw were likes and a couple friendly comments.

And that’s why insufferable Facebook behavior will never go away—there’s no dislike button or eye-roll button or middle finger button on Facebook, and it’s bad form to be too much of a dick in the comments below a status. So annoying statuses are just positively reinforced, and people remain un-self-aware that they regularly bring down the quality of everyone else’s life.

Urban, T. (2013, July 8). 7 Ways to Be Insufferable on Facebook. Retrieved from http://waitbutwhy.com/2013/07/7-ways-to-be-insufferable-on-facebook.html

housefly

Popularity

You think a piece of shit feels popular because it’s surrounded by flies?

Max Payne. Dir. Sam Lake. Remedy Entertainment, 2001. Video Game.

2

torn-map

Timeless Poverty

After scouting locations with Walon Green and John Box, the production designer, they chose La Altagracia village as the main location. Friedkin described the place as “a prison without walls” with a “sense of timeless poverty and persecution.”

Sorcerer (film). (2017, June 19). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:31, June 19, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sorcerer_(film)&oldid=786489978

leaf-book

Unburdened

young (adj.): Unburdened by the knowledge that it would be better to never have been born.

Sottek, T. (2015, April 5). The New Devil’s Dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.theverge.com/a/new-devils-dictionary

small-television-retro

Ideally Psychotic

Reality TV is about placing dumb and ideally psychotic but physically attractive people in ridiculous, contrived situations and feeding them alcohol and scripted lines until they fight or sleep with each other with commercials in between for energy drinks, diet pills and tanning products featuring people from other reality shows. It’s a glorious feedback loop in which entertainment becomes even more mean-spirited and shit. Yes, I hear you say, but isn’t that a bad thing? Well, not if you’re making money out of it, hand over fist. Production companies love reality TV because it’s cheap. A few shirtless douchebags, a fresh batch of yeast-infected sluts, a few bottles of bottom shelf liquor and you’ve got yourself a show.

From Grand Theft Auto V in-game parody website: www.therealitymill.com/about

🔃

Disappointed

Repeat until disappointed in mankind.

Rio, C. (2016, June 1). 6 Bands Who Followed Up Their One Hit With Drooling Insanity. Retrieved from http://www.cracked.com/blog/mmmbop-to-aliens-insane-songs-albums-one-hit-wonders/

3D-factory

Nail Cutters

Marx might have called this kind of work “estranged labor,” but the phrase isn’t quite right. My experience working in fine dining was marked by hard, repetitive and often meaningless work. But it wasn’t completely “estranging,” not at first. To the contrary, I found that hard, repetitive work, however “estranged” in some abstract or theoretical sense, could be incredibly affirming. Executing the same tasks with machine-like precision over and over and over again, like one of Adam Smith’s nail-cutters, offered a special kind of enjoyment. There was no reflection, no question about what my job required of me, and I could indulge, for hours, in the straightforward immediacy of action.

Frame, E. (2015, August 22). Dinner and Deception. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/23/opinion/sunday/dinner-and-deception.html?ref=opinion&_r=0

book-stack

Of What Use Would I Be?

At the time of the story, the region was largely agrarian and peasant, and many were skilled craftsmen, artisans, and laborers. I thought, ‘I’m also an intellectual. Of what use would I be in the forest?’ The film works in a way as a cautionary tale. Most of us live in a precarious balance above the bedrock of physical labor.

Ebert, R. (2009, January 14). Review: Defiance (2009). Retrieved from http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/defiance-2009

police-cruiser-retro

Motel Shootout

The class clown, the guy that gets up and sets the clock ahead twenty minutes, that guy always dies in a motel shootout.

The Howard Stern Show. (2015, February 25). Sirius XM Radio.

file-cabinet-with-files

Lawsuit Avoidance

The videos seem well-made and valid, and I wish we did far more unpacking of bias in our lives. Perhaps I am being uncharitable, but this (at least in a vacuum) feels more like corporate lawsuit-avoidance than it does a meaningful set of resources. I’d personally think that a proper treatment of biases in decision-making would be a little broader than this list, if only because it feels like “these are some lawsuits we keep getting hit with because we could be doing better in this space.”

(2015, July 28). Managing Unconscious Bias. Comment posted at 9:44 AM by Phyltre. Retrieved from http://www.metafilter.com/151616/Managing-Unconscious-Bias

🎥

Rails of Celluloid Cocaine

Sex was okay—so was an R rating. Adults were treated as adults rather than as overgrown children hell-bent on enshrining their own arrested development.

Then came Top Gun. The man calling the shots may have been Tony Scott, but the film’s real auteurs were producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, two men who pioneered the “high-concept” blockbuster—films for which the trailer or even the tagline told the story instantly. At their most basic, their movies weren’t movies; they were pure product—stitched-together amalgams of amphetamine action beats, star casting, music videos, and a diamond-hard laminate of technological adrenaline all designed to distract you from their lack of internal coherence, narrative credibility, or recognizable human qualities. They were rails of celluloid cocaine with only one goal: the transient heightening of sensation.

Harris, M. (2011, February 10). The Day the Movies Died. Retrieved from http://www.gq.com/story/the-day-the-movies-died-mark-harris

🍝

One Way to Feel Special

The narcissism of minor differences finds expression in the food-intolerance explosion: Having a special dietary requirement is one way to feel special in the prevailing “me” culture. But I don’t want to show the intolerance of the omnivore for faddish food particularism, however overblown it may be. There’s a lot that’s good in food fetishes.

Cohen, R. (2015, October 19). This Column Is Gluten-Free. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/20/opinion/this-column-is-gluten-free.html?action=click&contentCollection=Books&module=MostPopularFB&version=Full®ion=Marginalia&src=me&pgtype=article&_r=0

🚥

Blur of Traffic Passing On the Highway

sonder, n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

Johnny Wallflower (2016, April 3). Re: Haters gonna hate, baby. Retrieved from http://www.metafilter.com/158345/Haters-gonna-hate-baby#6468195

👺

Lazy Excuse

The term “hater” is just a lazy excuse to avoid having to address any criticism. It ends up hurting yourself, too, because if you refuse to engage with any criticism you’re never going to get any better.

Sangermaine (2016, April 3). Re: Haters gonna hate, baby. Retrieved from http://www.metafilter.com/158345/Haters-gonna-hate-baby#6468083

👋

I am right and have always been right because I’m a member of a victimized sex/race, and therefore hold no responsibility for my actions.

Amazom.com customer (2001, January 18). Re: The way forward is with a broken heart (1st ed.). Random House. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R2STFIIZ9IP5IA/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_viewpnt?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0345407954#R2STFIIZ9IP5IA

🐺

Hear it Panting

The wolf isn’t at the door, but you can hear it panting out there in the woods.

Garner, D. (2016, April 5). ‘Disrupted,’ a Tech Takedown by Dan Lyons, a.k.a. Fake Steve Jobs. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/06/books/review-disrupted-dan-lyons-fake-steve-jobs.html?action=click&contentCollection=Book%20Review&module=RelatedCoverage®ion=EndOfArticle&pgtype=article%3E

🔫 🔫

Permanent War

The movie offers no answers to the problems it presents—rampant street crime in poor neighborhoods; a gun-worshiping American culture tied to capitalist rapaciousness that’s hooked into the country’s culture of Permanent War; the lure of machismo, which makes violent confrontation seem “sexier” than negotiation and de-escalation.

Seitz, M. Z. (2015, December 2). Review: Chi-Raq (2015). Retrieved from http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/chi-raq-2015

📑

Impeccable Mediocrity

Into his classroom every autumn come several dozen would-be Harvard law graduates, who fall into the categories we all remember from school: (a) the drones, who get everything right but will go forth to lead lives of impeccable mediocrity; (b) the truly intelligent, who will pass or fail entirely on the basis of whether they’re able to put up with the crap; (c) those with photographic memories, who can remember everything but connect nothing; (d) the students whose dogged earnestness will somehow pull them through; and (e) the doomed.

Ebert, R. (1973, October 16). Review: The Paper Chase (1973). Retrieved from http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-paper-chase-1973

1

👠

 Too much temptation. Too Little wisdom.

LIKE classic French cooking, the best American crime fiction relies on a limited number of simple ingredients (which may be why it’s so popular in France). Too much temptation. Too little wisdom. Too many weak, bad men. Too few strong, good ones. And spread over everything, freedom. Freedom and space. The freedom (perhaps illusory) to make poor choices and the space (as real as the highways) to flee their consequences — temporarily, at least. Corny and crude in the way of all great folk art, the intrinsically pessimistic crime novel — as opposed to the basically optimistic detective novel — is not about the workings of human justice but the dominion of inhuman time. As devised and refined by James M. Cain, Jim Thompson and their gloomy paperback peers, the crime novel aimed its cheap handgun at the heart of America’s most prized beliefs about its destiny: that the loot we’ve scooped up will belong to us forever and that history allows clean getaways.

Kirn, W. (2005, July 24). ‘No Country for Old Men’: Texas Noir. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/24/books/review/no-country-for-old-men-texas-noir.html?_r=0


🐢

 A Kindness Set Point

My resistance was based, in part, on the fact that compassion meditation was a little annoying–but more significantly, it stemmed from a deep-seated suspicion: that we each have a kindness set point, the result of factory settings that could not be altered, and that mine may not be dialed particularly high.

Harris, D. (2017). 10% happier: how I tamed the voice in my head, reduced stress without losing my edge, and found self-help that actually works: a true story. London, England: Yellow Kite.


toilet

Falling Down

As a description of our collective recession-era funk, “Falling Down” is to the early ’90s what “Network” was to the late ’70s. Written by Ebbe Roe Smith, the movie appraises the state of our national disease in a manner that goes far beyond what economic indicators tell us. If the last election was about change, the soul sickness shown in “Falling Down” reflects precisely why that change was essential. It’s the grim chart at the end of our hospital beds.

Hinson, H. (1993, February 26). Review: Falling Down. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/movies/videos/fallingdownrhinson_a0a7f7.htm


Civil Despair

Falling Down is not meant to be seen as the anatomy of a madman, but as a spectacle of civil despair in which some people give in to galvanizing self-pity and others cope as best they can.

Canby, V. (n.d.). Review/Film; Urban Horrors, All Too Familiar. Retrieved February 26, 1993, from http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9F0CE0DC113FF935A15751C0A965958260


forlorn-man

All That Messiness

And it feels like self-esteem presaged many of these other simple, straightforward stories; it feels like today, it’s increasingly common for academics to sell — often onstage at a TED Talk — simple, one- or two-sentence accounts of human nature that supposedly are the key to solving problems that have been around for decades or centuries or millennia.

[…]

Like self-esteem, grit scrubs away so much of the complexity and inequality that determines who gets what, and who succeeds and who fails, replacing all that messiness with a clean and memorable storyline that can be summed up in a sentence or two.

Singal, J. (2017, May 30). How the Self-Esteem Craze Took Over America. Retrieved from http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2017/05/self-esteem-grit-do-they-really-help.html?mid=facebook_nymag%3E


Cabin-Chimney-Smoke

Need to Believe

But I also know as a reader, when the writer gets sentimental, you drift because there’s something fishy going on there. You recognize a moment that’s largely about the writer and the writer’s own need to believe in something that might not in fact exist.

Avni, S. (2003, February 11). No way out. Retrieved from http://www.salon.com/2003/02/11/leblanc


beer-mug

Very Dumb Things

“The reason men from 18 to 25 die is because they do very dumb things,” Crossmon said. “I’ve seen this for 30 years. It’s generally alcohol related. During that time in my life, I should have died a hundred times over.”

Smith, M. L. (2017, June 19). With his son lost at the bottom of the river, a father turns to one man who might find him. Retrieved from http://www.startribune.com/with-his-son-lost-at-the-bottom-of-the-river-a-father-turns-to-one-man-who-might-find-him/429133433/


corporate-cogs

Quest for Truth

How dare you not consult a for-profit brand’s public relations department in your quest for Truth.

Feinberg, A. (2015, August 11). Tinder to Vanity Fair: Fuck You, North Koreans Love Us. Retrieved from http://gawker.com/tinder-to-vanity-fair-fuck-you-north-koreans-love-us-1723547611


🌀

 Perfect Storm

This seems to have been the first use of ‘‘perfect storm’’ in the sense in which it typically blows through the news cycle today: as a tool for backward-looking exoneration. A single error in judgment might merit consequences. But if enough people are implicated in it, it becomes not a mistake but a phenomenon: something to be explained rather than punished.

[…]

This kind of ‘‘perfect storm’’ is seductive because it speaks to the unnerving condition of living in a time when much of our well-being is tied up in vast, convoluted systems that few people comprehend. There is a paradoxical comfort in seeing the failure of these systems as a kind of apocalyptic metaphorical weather rather than as the conscious failure of the regulators, executives, and politicians who have been entrusted with power over our lives. It casts them, and us, as noble casualties, like the crew of the Andrea Gail.

Homans, C. (2016, January 20). How the ‘Perfect Storm’ Became the Perfect Cop-Out. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/24/magazine/how-the-perfect-storm-became-the-perfect-cop-out.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&version=Moth-Visible&moduleDetail=inside-nyt-region-2&module=inside-nyt-region®ion=inside-nyt-region&WT.nav=inside-nyt-region%3E


 The Other Half

Half of America is furious at the other half, unable to agree on even previously uncontroversial topics like the weather.

Lyall, S. (2017, June 9). Paying a Price for 8 Days of Flying in America. Retrieved from https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/06/09/business/what-its-like-to-fly-for-a-week-straight.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur&referer=http://m.facebook.com


 Not Have to Fail

The increasing inability of many readers to construe fiction as anything other than roman à clef, or the raw material of biography, is both indulged and encouraged.

[…]

There are arresting glimpses here and there, fragments shored against what the writer must have seen as his ruin, and a sympathetic reader might well believe it possible that had the writer lived (which is to say had the writer found the will and energy and memory and concentration) he might have shaped the material, written it into being, made it work as the story the glimpses suggest, that of a man returning to a place he loved and finding himself at three in the morning confronting the knowledge that he is no longer the person who loved it and will never now be the person he had meant to be. But of course, such a possibility would have been in the end closed to this particular writer, for he had already written that story, in 1936, and called it “The Snows of Kilimanjaro.” “Now he would never write the things that he had saved to write until he knew enough to write them well,” the writer in “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” thought as he lay dying of gangrene in Africa. And then, this afterthought, the saddest story: “Well, he would not have to fail at trying to write them either.”

Didion, J. (1998, November 9). Last Words: Those Hemingway wrote, and those he didn’t. Retrieved from http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1998/11/09/last-words-6


♰✡ Chest Thumping

A recent poll conducted by religious researcher Barna Group found that U.S. Christians identified more with the Pharisees than with Christ. This squares nicely with what we plainly see – that U.S. Christians wield their god as nothing more than a justification for chest-thumping self-righteousness.

Yancy, G. (2017, June 19). Is Your God Dead? Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/19/opinion/is-your-god-dead.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region®ion=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region%3E


💂

LDN

It is easy to be impressed by such a sight, but no one could be seduced by it. Awe is what despots seek because they cannot nurture affection. Intimidation breeds obedience and even a craven kind of attachment, but never tenderness. London used to win people with charm; now it controls them with fear.

Behr, R. (2015, June 29). Goodbye London: why people are leaving the capital. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/29/goodbye-london-moving-to-brighton-house-prices


🏭

 They Cost Too Much

Hire them at 20, they’ll be keen and will work for peanuts. Keep them at 30, they’ll cost you more but still have a lot of energy and experience and something to prove. Get rid of them at 40, they cost too much and they’re resting on their laurels. They’re done.

Source Unknown


💨

 Flood of Effluvia

Howard Stern: Today, with electronic media and social media, can you imagine starting out, you come up with a joke, they put it on the Internet, and it’s kind of like over, the material’s been used up, it spreads so fast.”

Jerry Seinfeld: No, but it doesn’t because there’s such a larger flood of effluvia from everybody, yapping and tweeting and Internet that no one can pay attention to anything so things get less attention.”

The Howard Stern Show. (2013, June 26). Sirius XM Radio.