16

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Raw Gush

At least the tech arguments have some data, some facts, a certain nerdy rigor. Elsewhere – say, a Gawker site about San Francisco development I discussed on the work blog – it was the usual raw gush. Smart and snarky and oh-snap! and lots of “here, let me pour my entire worldview into a story about a vacant lot that now has a structure on it.”

A good polemic is a thing of beauty, but to use the medium of the Comments Section is like mistaking the group of smokers outside the classroom for the lecture going on inside.

Lileks, J. (2014, June 11). The Bleat. Retrieved from http://lileks.com/bleats/archive/14/0614/061114.html

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You Owe Me

Then I don’t know what to do, and he acts disgusted at my nervous deferrals, as if I owe him this date after being so nice to him for so long. He moves on to my coworker.

[…]

But I have trouble, eventually, masking my rage. I notice a ragged look similar to the one I imagine on my face on the faces of young female baristas throughout the city. It’s as if I’ve absorbed all of these men’s problems, and worse, all of their assumptions about me – that I am a pure and kindly soul floating along on my attitude, there to make coffee and listen; worst of all, that I must be unhappy in this job but not be intelligent enough to know that.

Schiller, L. (2013, June 5). Service With A Smile. Retrieved from http://www.therivetermagazine.com/service-with-a-smile/

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Endlessly Boring Loop

The “Lego Movie” song “Everything is Awesome” might be the definitive statement on consumerism as a way of life. The hero is a wage slave, living in an endless boring loop that he’s convinced himself is peachy. Hype encourages him to feel that way because if he accepts his manufactured life, nobody involved in creating institutional structures or manufacturing goods or entertainment will have to try harder, much less change anything. Nobody questions. The money just flows.

Seitz, M. Z. (2014, June 13). Review: 22 Jump Street (2014). Retrieved from http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/22-jump-street-2014

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YOU THERE

The modern style of headline writing isn’t intended to catch your eye but punch you in the nose, because you totally deserve it. The author is better than you because the author is writing for Gawker, and you’re just reading. Basic format: Bald assertion, and preemptive accusation to deflect your objection.

Lileks, J. (2014, July 31). Lileks @ Lunch. Retrieved from http://www.startribune.com/how-to-lose-8000-photos/269411751/

There are people who cannot make it through a day unless the wind of indignation fills their sails.

Source Unknown

🔱

Moral Busybodies

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

Lewis, C. S. (1972). God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

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Self-Righteous Do-Gooder

What concerned [C.S. Lewis regarding Moral Busybodies] is summed up as “the Road to Hell is paved with Good Intentions.” You needn’t wait for the cynics to take over; one self-righteous do-gooder with an agenda can create a lot of misery.

Chas C-Q (2014, July 30). Re: The Bleat [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from http://lileks.com/bleats/archive/14/0714/073014.html#comment-1512630550

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Cocksure

Looking a little leaner and a lot older, Ventura wore a rumpled gray pinstripe suit, the kind you save for church or court, and walked with that cocksure gait we got used to when he was governor, his jaw perpetually tilted up as if in defiance of something, anything.

Tevlin, J. (2014, July 12). Tevlin: Only in Jesse Ventura’s America. Retrieved from http://www.startribune.com/tevlin-only-in-jesse-ventura-s-america/266890021/

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Decline of Empathy

As Danielle Ofri observes, that is the time that “figures prominently in studies that document the decline of empathy and moral reasoning in medical trainees.” Spending your day among the truly sick and suffering hardens you. Not only is there a self-protective impulse to shut out the pain of others, but you have less emotional bandwidth for minor complaints, particularly your own.

[…]

Hypochondriacs, Belling points out, are right about one more thing: Disease and degeneration never fail to win in the end.

Waldman, K. (2014, July 6). Doctors Could Use a Little Hypochondria. Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2014/07/hypochondria_in_medical_students_and_doctors_when_to_worry_about_health.single.html

💣

Transgression

It would also be good if people stopped applauding “transgression” because it made them feel naughty and modern and iconoclastic, when it’s the most boring default position available today.

Lileks, J. (2014, June 17). Lileks @ Lunch: When the Mayor Swears. Retrieved from http://www.startribune.com/when-the-mayor-swears/263500181/

Meeting Baseline Expectations

What there is, arguably, is a diseased culture. A culture in which focus and productivity are so fetishized that your average human attention span is no longer sufficient. A culture in which a significant proportion of the working (or academic) population requires psychoactive drugs in order to meet baseline expectations.

dephlogisticated (2014, July 3). Re: Two Speed America [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from http://www.metafilter.com/140470/Two-speed-America#5617027

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Metal Tube

It also poses unique design challenges, since a premium-class seat has to create an impression of opulence in what is actually a noisy and potentially nausea-inducing metal tube filled with strangers.

If you checked into a luxury hotel and were taken to a room the size of a first-class airplane cabin, and told that you’d be sharing it with eleven people you didn’t know, all of whom would be sleeping within a few feet of your own skinny bed, you wouldn’t be thrilled, especially if you were paying twenty thousand dollars for the experience.

Owen, D. (2014, April 21). Game of Thrones: How airlines woo the one per cent. Retrieved from http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2014/04/21/140421fa_fact_owen

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McSweeney’s

An air of aggressive innocence and chirpy bemusement has become the official armature of the American hipster, and has lost its power to put across a critique. It isn’t even that cute anymore. The McSweeneyites may be the current emperors of cool, but they’re starting to need some new clothes.

Shulevitz, J. (2001, May 6). Too Cool for Words. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/books/01/05/06/bookend/bookend.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=login

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Impression of Activity

The “Bankspeak” study noted the penchant of World Bank authors to link long chains of nouns with the word “and” can produce mind-numbing lists that create the impression of activity.

Mayeda, A. (2017, May 25). World Bank’s Star Economist Is Sidelined in War Over Words. Retrieved from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-25/war-over-words-erupts-as-world-bank-star-economist-is-sidelined

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Over-predict Failure

While most people tend to be optimistic, those suffering from depression and anxiety have a bleak view of the future — and that in fact seems to be the chief cause of their problems, not their past traumas nor their view of the present. While traumas do have a lasting impact, most people actually emerge stronger afterward. Others continue struggling because they over-predict failure and rejection. Studies have shown depressed people are distinguished from the norm by their tendency to imagine fewer positive scenarios while overestimating future risks. They withdraw socially and become paralyzed by exaggerated self-doubt.

Seligman, M. E., & Tierney, J. (2017, May 19). We Aren’t Built to Live in the Moment. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/19/opinion/sunday/why-the-future-is-always-on-your-mind.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&_r=0

Trump Emoji

Anti-Anti-Trumpism

Here is how it works: Rather than defend President Trump’s specific actions, his conservative champions change the subject to (1) the biased “fake news” media, (2) over-the-top liberals, (3) hypocrites on the left, (4) anyone else victimizing Mr. Trump or his supporters and (5) whataboutism, as in “What about Obama?” “What about Clinton?”

[…]

But, as Damon Linker noted, anti-anti-Trumpism “allows the right to indulge its hatred of liberals and liberalism while sidestepping the need for a reckoning with the disaster of the Trump administration itself.”

[…]

In many ways anti-anti-Trumpism mirrors Donald Trump himself, because at its core there are no fixed values, no respect for constitutional government or ideas of personal character, only a free-floating nihilism cloaked in insult, mockery and bombast.

Sykes, C. J. (2017, May 12). If Liberals Hate Him, Then Trump Must Be Doing Something Right. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/12/opinion/sunday/if-liberals-hate-him-then-trump-must-be-doing-something-right.html

Periodically Ruined

Subsequent fiascos — the rise of Al Qaeda and then the Islamic State, the crisis of unregulated financial capitalism followed by the bailout of culpable bankers — confirmed that this elite was too entrenched to be displaced by its failures and too arrogant to learn from them.

[…]

It could be argued that this frequently asserted and widely believed American creed of continuous and irreversible progress is what saved a diverse society not only from tragic social conflicts, but also from the mass manipulators who have periodically ruined other countries with their quack solutions.

Mishra, P. (2017, April 28). America, From Exceptionalism to Nihilism. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/28/opinion/america-from-exceptionalism-to-nihilism.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

⚔️

Always Cranked Up to 10

Guy Ritchie is that fun friend whose texts you don’t always return because his energy level is always cranked up to 10, and even when you’re in the mood for him, he still wears you out.

No, the real problem is that the movie is unmodulated from start to finish. It never lets up in the exact way that a cocaine addict who wants to tell you his life story before closing time never lets up.

[…]

…the film does it constantly for two hours, dicing dialogue, performances and story points into microscopic narrative particles that disintegrate in the mind.

Seitz, M. Z. (2017, May 12). Review: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017). Retrieved from http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/king-arthur-legend-of-the-sword-2017

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TED Talk

Shortly before the end, Bess spoke with genuine enthusiasm about a TED Talk—a pat distillation of a zeitgeisty subject spewed by some billionaire narcissist in a headset, accompanied by inaccurate line graphs. Weeks prior, she had used the word “impactful” in a sentence. In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory can be made to the Bess Kalb Fund for Adult Illiteracy.

Kalb, B. (2016, April 30). Obituaries My Mother Wrote for Me While I Was Living in San Francisco in My Twenties. Retrieved from http://www.newyorker.com/humor/daily-shouts/obituaries-my-mother-wrote-for-me-while-i-was-living-in-san-francisco-in-my-twenties

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Self-Lionizing Prophets

Alienation breeds a hysterical public conversation. Its public intellectuals are addicted to overstatement, sloppiness, pessimism, and despair. They are self-indulgent and self-lionizing prophets of doom who use formulations like “the Flight 93 election” — who speak of every problem as if it were the apocalypse.

Brooks, D. (2017, May 23). The Alienated Mind. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/23/opinion/alienated-mind-trump-supporters.html?ribbon-ad-idx=3&src=trending&module=Ribbon&version=origin&region=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Trending&pgtype=article

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And It Never Will

Urban living is a pain even when there’s enough room. For most of the morning there was a screaming lady at the corner by the bus stop – whatever line she was waiting for never came, and never will. Periodic orations of obscenities and injustices, punctuated by ambulance sirens that will never give her a lift unless she steps in front of one, and police cars that will never take her to the mentally ill shelter until she pushes someone else in front of a cab, and cabs that will never stop because they’re in a horrible mood all the time.

Lileks, J. (2017, June 28). The Bleat. Retrieved from http://lileks.com/bleats/archive/17/0617/062817.html

black-death-star-48

Exhaust Port

Sure, you could crush their movements with an iron fist, using violence to kill, intimidate or arrest their most vocal members. But that can backfire, often turning them into martyrs and proving them right in the process — you’ve seen Star Wars; somebody always finds the exhaust port.

Wong, D. (2015, June 9). 5 Ways Powerful People Trick You Into Hating Protesters. Retrieved from http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-ways-powerful-people-trick-you-into-hating-underdogs/

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Fury of a Thousand Suns

As is often the case, the “Christian morals and values” in question were less about feeding the poor and loving thy neighbor, and more about being weirdly preoccupied with who is fucking who.

[Massachusite pastor Scott] Lively got his no-homo ass to Uganda and gave lengthy lectures to the government about the dangers of homosexuality and how if two dudes even get boners in the same ZIP code, God will destroy the Earth with the fury of a thousand suns.

Radomile, C. (2017, January 30). 6 Random Nobodies (Who Secretly Run The World). Retrieved from http://www.cracked.com/article_24587_6-random-nobodies-who-secretly-run-world.html