26

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


biplane-flying

Distraction

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


Hypodermic-Needle

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


Calliou

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


MonaLisa

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.


Judge-Gavel

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


Gas-Pump

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


Steak

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


 

Raised-Fist

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

15

🕸️

Web of Bullshit and Horror

Can advice on how to be cool and not creepy be used for evil by guys who are not cool and are creepy and would like to get laid? Yeah, probably! It’s a difference between “how to keep awkwardness and learned behavior (that is counterproductive and bad) from getting between you and the connections you would like to make with other people (that are positive and good for you and those other people alike)” and “how to feign being a decent human being so that you can trap unwary women in your web of bullshit and horror.” The difference there? Is the reader, not the reading material.

kittens for breakfast. (2015, February 8). Re: The Anti-Pick Up Artist’s Guide [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from http://www.metafilter.com/146819/The-Anti-Pick-Up-Artists-Guide#5928155

🎧

The reality is that people pay for an experience rather than a thing so the label matters on headphones and wine. From social signaling to self-inflicted placebo effects there are a host of reasons why people don’t shave with Occam’s razor.

srboisvert . (2015, February 9). Re: Lossless, lossless, lossless [Reader comment]. Retrieved from http://www.metafilter.com/146868/Lossless-lossless-lossless#5929164

😶

So Many

A wise friend told me years ago that we have no control over our emotions, only over what we choose to do about them, and that even if we know this, it can still be hard to make good decisions, because our feelings are so powerful, and there are so many of them fighting to be heard.

Seitz, M. Z. (2015, June 18). Review: Inside Out (2015). Retrieved from http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/inside-out-2015

🏛️

Short-Term

Quite generally, that’s how the Trump administration deals with a truly existential threat to survival of organized human life: ban regulations and even research and discussion of environmental threats and race to the precipice as quickly as possible (in the interests of short-term profit and power).

Yancy, G., & Chomsky, N. (2017, July 5). Noam Chomsky: On Trump and the State of the Union. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/05/opinion/noam-chomsky-on-trump-and-the-state-of-the-union.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

🍝

You Make a Choice

When you have children, you make a choice to restrict what you can and cannot do. Just because you want a nice night out doesn’t mean that everyone else at the restaurant should be subjected to an endlessly crying child. You do not have carte blanche to put your own needs above everyone else’s.

Reenum. (2014, July 13). Re: High cuisine with no high chair [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from http://www.metafilter.com/135601/High-cuisine-with-no-high-chair#5371132

🎩

New Money

Q: Why do rich people seem to have such bad taste in architecture?
Money doesn’t buy taste. Especially not new money.

Eyebrows McGee. (2015, February 19). Re: The kind of world where we belong [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from http://www.metafilter.com/147197/The-kind-of-world-where-we-belong

Mangoes Among Oranges

Unbeknownst to me, you see, some miscreant put mangoes among the oranges, and while someday we might live in a utopia where mangoes are discounted, we still live in an imperfect world of sin and toil.

Lileks, J. (2015, February 14). The Mango mover was also THAT GUY. Retrieved from http://www.startribune.com/local/blogs/291963041.html

💬

The Right to Ignore

It’s made still more awful by the fact that the “read receipts” feature is on by default, so if you’ve read their IM and haven’t answered, they know it. This is the top overall seed, because read receipts are the worst thing about the Internet. The right to ignore people must be preserved. Anyway, if you get one of these IMs, usher everyone out of the building in which you live, burn it to the ground, and live in the forest until you don’t hear airplanes anymore.

Bois, J. (2015, March 15). The Worst Internet Things bracket. Retrieved from http://www.sbnation.com/2015/3/15/8218435/worst-internet-things-bracket

🚬

Throaty-chuckle Smoker

I ended up phoning the 1-800 number, and got a throaty-chuckle smoker who sounded like she was handling calls out of her kitchen for extra money, and she noted that a lot of people called because the website was “Confusing.”

Lileks, J. (2014, June 6). The Bleat. Retrieved from http://lileks.com/bleats/archive/14/0614/060614.html

🔬

The Science

I kind of lost concentration when he stated, “While conceding that there are a number of reasons why gamers would choose to angrily argue with the science rather than seriously consider its implications,” because of this issue I have regarding people using the phrase “the science” when they mean “the results of studies deemed reliable by many respected people.” Calling it “the” science, as though the matter is entirely settled, strikes me as a rhetorical stunt meant to imply that 1) the point of view being presented is an ironclad absolute truth 2) anyone who is unconvinced must be an ignoramus.

xigxag. (2015, February 7). Re: Social Identity Threat Motivates Science-Discrediting Online Comments [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from http://www.metafilter.com/146830/Social-Identity-Threat-Motivates-Science-Discrediting-Online-Comments#5927873

😄

On a Planet of Two

I thought that his sudden openness was the caprice of a moment, and that if I had looked for him in three months, I would have wasted my time.

[…]

We laughed together, and, as we know, there is nothing like humor to burn the distance between two human beings. Laughter has the ability to trigger a thunderbolt of intimacy; you laugh at the same things and you’re not alone anymore. Suddenly, you’re also somewhere very special, on a planet of two. And if you go on laughing together—as we did as our relationship grew deeper, if guardedly, on both sides—you may get a sense that inhabiting that planet for even a fraction of time is something you may risk calling happiness: intense and short-lived though it may be.

Sambuy, L. M. (2015, May 1). You’ll Never Write About Me Again. Retrieved from http://www.believermag.com/issues/201501/?read=article_manera_sambuy

 

 

 

 

 

 

14

✈️

Make it Look Effortless

At 28, I can say that sometimes I feel like an adult and a lot of the time, I don’t. Being a Millennial and trying to adult is wildly disorienting. I can’t figure out if I’m supposed to start a non-profit, get another degree, develop a wildly profitable entrepreneurial venture, or somehow travel the world and make it look effortless online. Mostly it just looks like taking a job that won’t ever pay off my student debt in a field that is not the one that I studied.

Eleusiniotis, M. (2016, January 5). When Are You Really an Adult? Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/01/when-are-you-really-an-adult/422487/?single_page=true

🧠

Plasticity

At about age 22 or 23, the brain is pretty much done developing, according to Steinberg, who studies adolescence and brain development. That’s not to say you can’t keep learning—you can! Neuroscientists are discovering that the brain is still “plastic”—malleable, changeable—throughout life. But adult plasticity is different from developmental plasticity, when the brain is still developing new circuits, and pruning away unnecessary ones. Adult plasticity still allows for modifications to the brain, but at that point, the neural structures aren’t going to change.
“It’s like the difference between remodeling your house and redecorating it,” Laurence Steinberg, the distinguished university professor of psychology at Temple University, says.

Beck, J. (2016, January 5). When Are You Really an Adult? Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/01/when-are-you-really-an-adult/422487/?single_page=true

Nostalgia Voters

Trump’s campaign—with its sweeping promise to “make American great again”—triumphed by converting self-described “values voters” into what I’ve called “nostalgia voters.” Trump’s promise to restore a mythical past golden age—where factory jobs paid the bills and white Protestant churches were the dominant cultural hubs—powerfully tapped evangelical anxieties about an uncertain future.

[…]

The clearest example of evangelical ethics bending to fit the Trump presidency is white evangelicals’ abandonment of their conviction that personal character matters for elected officials.
In 2011 and again just ahead of the 2016 election, PRRI asked Americans whether a political leader who committed an immoral act in his or her private life could nonetheless behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public life. In 2011, consistent with the “values voter” brand and the traditional evangelical emphasis on the importance of personal character, only 30 percent of white evangelical Protestants agreed with this statement. But with Trump at the top of the Republican ticket in 2016, 72 percent of white evangelicals said they believed a candidate could build a kind of moral dyke between his private and public life.

[…]

And Donald Trump’s installation as the 45th president of the United States may in fact temporarily prop up, by pure exertions of political and legal power, what white Christian Americans perceive they have lost. But these short-term victories will come at an exorbitant price. Like Esau, who exchanged his inheritance for a pot of stew, white evangelicals have traded their distinctive values for fleeting political power. Twenty years from now, there is little chance that 2016 will be celebrated as the revival of White Christian America, no matter how many Christian right leaders are installed in positions of power over the next four years. Rather, this election will mostly likely be remembered as the one in which white evangelicals traded away their integrity and influence in a gambit to resurrect their past.

Jones, R. P. (2017, July 4). Trump Can’t Reverse the Decline of White Christian America. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/07/robert-jones-white-christian-america/532587/

🐍

Irretrievably Depraved

“Developments in psychology and brain science continue to show fundamental differences between juvenile and adult minds,” the [Supreme] Court wrote in its 2010 decision. “For example, parts of the brain involved in behavior control continue to mature through late adolescence… Juveniles are more capable of change than are adults, and their actions are less likely to be evidence of ‘irretrievably depraved character’ than are the actions of adults.”

Beck, J. (2016, January 5). When Are You Really an Adult? Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2016/01/when-are-you-really-an-adult/422487/?single_page=true

Gavel-300px

Pre-hate

One site I will not be doing anytime soon: the Faces of Judge Judy. Possibly because people would think it consisted entirely of 47 screen grabs of JJ scowling or making that happy-harpy face when someone really steps in it. I love her show, but not for the usual “reality” TV show reasons. It’s the only show where people who have never been told off in their life get told. Hard. In a world that regards Judgment with the same terror a Lutheran has in church when the new preacher instructs the congregation to turn left and hug the next person in the pew, the bestowal of stern, sharp, and un-appealable judgment for personal behavior is wonderfully bracing.

Sometimes the people’s behavior is so uncouth, so selfish, so clueless that she hates them before she comes out; you can tell when she shoots a death-glare at a defendant when taking the bench. It’s also just nice to see people who got by their whole lives on what they presumed to be charm being instructed that they are simply not that impressive. It’s a good experience for people who have been tossing their hair and giggling all their lives and thinking they’re just adorable.

Lileks, J. (2014, May 15). The Bleat. Retrieved from http://lileks.com/bleats/archive/14/0514/051514.html

Piercing our Complacency

Comedy, in the hands of gifted artists, is a weapon that pierces our complacency, that forces us to acknowledge the absurdity of Nazism, of goose-stepping, believing that orders given to you by your superiors must be followed without question.

Anker, D. (Director). (2004). Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust[Motion picture]. USA: Anker Productions.

📱

Exponential Growth Potential

I have an ex who has been emailing/texting me for four years. I haven’t responded in all that time and did take precautions to make sure that he wouldn’t be able to find out where I live (set my legal address to my father’s house, etc.). Eventually, I realized that he doesn’t expect me to respond, he just wants to feel heard in a world where he has no one to listen. Sort of like that friend everyone has who stream-of-consciously vents and wants everyone to sit silently and listen to their catharsis. They need an audience for their insecurities and outbursts, even when they’re really just talking to themselves. They aren’t dangerous, per say, just an annoyance with exponential growth potential.

Shouraku. (2013, January 4). Stalker, No Stalking! Retrieved from http://ask.metafilter.com/232431/Stalker-No-Stalking#3364521

🏛️

Doubling Down

When it takes 20 months to build one thing, your skill set becomes less about innovation and more about navigating bureaucracy. That means the longer you stay, the more you’re doubling down on staying even longer.

Sulzberger, A. G. (2014). New York Times Innovation Report, 88. Retrieved from https://www.scribd.com/doc/224332847/NYT-Innovation-Report-2014

🏖️

Vagaries of Passion

There was a nice view of the beach though and you can use the binoculars to observe much younger people and I stood there for a while trying to reconcile the advantages of wealth and experience against the pleasures of the flesh now denied to me, but I realized that the denial was my own doing, that I had not succumbed to time but run into its dry, brittle embrace, feeling from the vagaries of passion to the rote expectations of comfort and routine.

Lileks, J. (2014, May 21). The Bleat. Retrieved from http://lileks.com/bleats/archive/14/0514/052114.html

🤡

Ceaseless Parade

If you knew nothing of earth you might assume there was a plague of light-sensitivity, or perhaps a human mutation that made people so horrible to behold everyone bricked up the windows so they wouldn’t have to gaze on the ceaseless parade of nightmares.

Lileks, J. (2014, May 22). The Bleat. Retrieved from http://lileks.com/bleats/archive/14/0514/052214.html

💨

Opposite of BS

Whatever the opposite of bullshit is, I think that’s what James Gandolfini was searching for.

flamencow. James Gandolfini Tribute to a Friend. Online video clip. YouTube. Youtube, 22 Jan 2014. Web. 14 May 2014. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZ_XzlIvgEQ

11

Implacably

Sir Alistair Canning (Jack Davenport), a senior presence at the Foreign Office, whose demeanor is modeled on a Rolls-Royce crunching lightly but implacably up a gravel drive…

Lane, A. (2017, February 13). “A United Kingdom” and “Land of Mine.” Retrieved from http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/02/13/a-united-kingdom-and-land-of-mine

Miseries

Life knows two miseries; getting what you don’t want and not getting what you want.

Max Payne. Written by Sam Lake. Remedy Entertainment, 2001. Video Game.

🔫

Dick Justice

The rain was comin’ down like all the angels in heaven decided to take a piss at the same time.

Max Payne. Written by Sam Lake. Remedy Entertainment, 2001. Video Game.

🌷

Safe Space

The Trump phenomenon didn’t make sense to me until some writer pointed out that his campaign–its rhetoric, his rallies–offered the equivalent of a safe space to a certain kind of angry white person. I think it’s fair to say Trump is president only because of his success in nursing his supporters’ hurt feelings.

There’s no other way to parse it. His supporters admit they don’t take him literally. They show no more interest in policy-making than he does. Many of them effectively voted to give up their healthcare in his honor. They don’t care that he contradicts himself and doesn’t keep promises. They don’t care about his absurd cabinet, the lobbyists, the Russia stuff, the obstruction stuff, the apparent violations of the emoluments clause, the absence of his tax returns, his classless treatment of allies, his bluster, or the fact that his erratic behavior has rendered his government ineffective. When he says he’s been a tireless signer of new legislation, they believe him, despite the evidence [in front of] their eyes.

This only makes sense if we assume his supporters value their feelings above everything else. They like the way he makes them feel, even if he does things that go against their interests–taking their healthcare, wasting tax dollars on golf, lowering taxes for the rich–and dishonors our country before our allies. They like his stories, his romanticism (the only explanation for his economic platform), and his attitude. They’re like the lotus eaters from Odyssey.

Jeremy (2017, June 14). Re: How ‘Snowflake’ Became America’s Inescapable Tough-Guy Taunt [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/13/magazine/how-snowflake-became-americas-inescapable-tough-guy-taunt.html?action=click&contentCollection=magazine&module=NextInCollection&region=Footer&pgtype=article&version=column&rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Ffirst-words

propane-tank-300px

Immense Managerial Apparatuses

If you set aside his long-running TV show “King of the Hill,” which is much too loving to be considered satire, Judge’s corpus of work cleaves neatly into two pieces. In one, people are driven nearly to ruin in their efforts to escape the crush of immense managerial apparatuses (“Office Space,” “Extract”). In the other, we see the opposite — imbeciles left completely and terrifyingly to their own devices (“Beavis and Butt-Head”, “Idiocracy”).

Staley, W. (2017, April 13). Mike Judge, the Bard of Suck. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/13/magazine/mike-judge-the-bard-of-suck.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=image&module=photo-spot-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

🗑️

Indigestible Garbage

6. Most Music Sucks

Honestly, most of everything sucks. Most architecture sucks. Most visual art sucks. Most writing sucks. Falling in line with this noble, sacred truth, your music also probably sucks. Do you really think you deserve to get paid for sucking, just because you took the time to suck?

Here’s a parallel for you: Your friend decides to go to culinary school in Paris. He trains for a year with some of the most prestigious and proficient chefs in the entire world. When he comes home, he offers to cook you a meal for the modest price of just the ingredients required for the meal. Then he makes you a dish made of chocolate-covered sardines that have been marinating in duck blood for a week, garnished with Pizza Rolls that are frozen in the middle.

Should you pay him for this rancid mess? Because that’s what 99 percent of all bands are — indigestible garbage, meticulously crafted with clueless pride.

[…]

3. Feeling Pain Makes You Better

You can’t trust an artist of any medium who creates with the absence of genuine pain. That’s what this stuff is all about — communicating profound emotions through the cathartic process of creation. Contrived as it may seem, genuinely beautiful and memorable art (unless constructed by a brilliant and hollow master manipulator or impersonator) stems from an indescribable rawness that lacks a vehicle yet begs to be released. By keeping you miserable on some level, you’re being granted a favor. You don’t deserve to get compensated; it’s going to make you into a boring chump. If you don’t descend into illness and unrecoverable poverty, maybe later you’ll thank the world for screwing you over.

[…]

1. You Care Too Much

There are few things more rewarding than denying someone who cares entirely too much about something trivial. Rather than being content in doing the thing you supposedly are in love with, you choose to focus on things like financial compensation to indicate your success. If being validated by an outside force is what creates love and worth in your art, then you’re doing it for the wrong reason, and so you get nothing. You lose. Good day sir.

Ailes, D. (2015, February 3). Six Reasons Musicians Don’t Deserve To Get Paid. Retrieved from http://www.citypages.com/music/six-reasons-musicians-dont-deserve-to-get-paid-6617842

💀

Graveyard of Failures

Don’t start a podcast. You’re going to get discouraged within a year when nobody gives a shit about it and then you’re going to give up. After you give up, it will sit in your personal graveyard of failures and inadequacies. Its creative corpse will forever gaze at your future corpse.

Ailes, D. (2015, February 11). Kindly Think Again Before Making a Podcast. Retrieved from http://www.citypages.com/music/kindly-think-again-before-making-a-podcast-6629436

📠

Inexpressible Tedium

During the day, “educational sessions” on topics of inexpressible tedium—“Wave Goodbye to Low Volunteer Retention”—droned on, testament (as are the educational sessions of a hundred other conferences) to the fact that the growth field in higher education is not Elizabethan literature or organic chemistry but mid-level administration.

[…]

O, Utopia. Why must your sweet governance always turn so quickly from the Edenic to the Stalinist? The college revolutions of the 1960s—the ones that gave rise to the social-justice warriors of today’s campuses—were fueled by free speech. But once you’ve won a culture war, free speech is a nuisance, and “eliminating” language becomes a necessity.

Flanagan, C. (2015, September). That’s Not Funny! Today’s college students can’t seem to take a joke. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/09/thats-not-funny/399335/

💎

Create a Yearning

But it is the first move in the game: create a yearning for that which others cannot have and you can sell it at any price.

Gold, T. (2015, September). [Criticism] A Goose in a Dress. Retrieved from https://harpers.org/archive/2015/09/a-goose-in-a-dress/4/

 

 

 

 

10

🏦

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

👎

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

📈

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

📣

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/

🛐

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

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🎬

Moments of Recognition

If one of the pleasures of movie-going is seeing strange new things on the screen, another pleasure, and probably a deeper one, is experiencing moments of recognition – times when we can say, yes, that’s exactly right, that’s exactly the way it would have happened.

Ebert, R. (1986, July 1). Review: About Last Night…(1986). Retrieved from http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/about-last-night—-1986

🌅

Easy to Dismiss

As always, climate change works like an opportunistic pathogen, worsening existing woes, not acting alone. This can make it hard to pin down, easy to dismiss.

Kimmelman, M. (2017, April 7). Rising Waters Threaten China’s Rising Cities. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/04/07/world/asia/climate-change-china.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

❄️

Tough-Guy Posturing

These days, the preferred insult is a new addition to the canon: “snowflake.” It is simultaneously emasculating and infantilizing, suggesting fragility but also an inflated sense of a person’s own specialness and a naïve embrace of difference. It evokes the grade-school art classes in which children scissor up folded pieces of construction paper and learn that every snowflake is unique, and every person is, too. But in the Trump era, it feels as if the classroom bully has tipped over the craft table and is wielding the scissors triumphantly in the air.

[…]

The truth is that people who use “snowflake” as an insult tend to seem pretty aggrieved themselves — hypersensitive to dissent or complication and nursing a healthy appetite for feeling oppressed.

[…]

Today’s tough-guy posturing seems rooted, paradoxically, in threat and fear: fear of defeat, fear of lost status and fear that society is growing increasingly ill-suited to tough-guy posturing in the first place.

Hess, A. (2017, June 13). How “Snowflake” Became America’s Inescapable Tough-Guy Taunt. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/13/magazine/how-snowflake-became-americas-inescapable-tough-guy-taunt.html?action=click&contentCollection=magazine&module=NextInCollection&region=Footer&pgtype=article&version=column&rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Ffirst-words

🏆

Winning

“Silencing critics” is the beating heart of today’s “winning.” This is largely because your critics are not, in fact, competing with you; they have no formal power over you, are rarely seeking any and tend to do little more than express the opinion that you’ve done something wrong. They offer you a game you cannot lose. You don’t even need to be a public figure to benefit from this line of thinking: As soon as you decide your chief adversaries are the people who disapprove of your behavior (neighbors, doctors, elites, “the media,” climate scientists, other people on Facebook and Twitter), then simply continuing to do whatever you were already doing, no matter how ill advised or self-defeating, takes on the dimensions of a triumph.

But this is a very strange measure of victory. This kind of winning doesn’t set goals and then judge success by how much progress is made toward achieving them. Its focus is entirely on reputation and status and the superficial image of power. Sometimes it picks goals based on ease. Sometimes it achieves things at random and then claims they were goals. If all else fails, it just declares victory and sits back looking satisfied — as when Trump recently announced that “with few exceptions” there has never in history been a president who has “done more things.” After all, if you really do hold the almost feudal belief that there are two kinds of people — those ordained by nature to dominate and the losers upon whom they exercise their prerogatives — what do the details matter, as long as you’ve claimed a seat among the winners?

Abebe, N. (2017, June 20). Tired of “Winning”? You Should Be. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/20/magazine/tired-of-winning-you-should-be.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Ffirst-words&action=click&contentCollection=magazine&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection

🌽🌽🌽

Enemies are useful: We all know the sweet, full-bodied relief of having someone else to blame for our problems. Why did the crops fail? It could be that you are an inept farmer. It could be that everything is up to chance. Or it could be that your neighbor, who has always been jealous of you, is doing something sinister to your crops.

Quinn, A. (2017, June 6). How Did “Witch Hunt” Become the Complaint of the Powerful? Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/06/magazine/how-did-witch-hunt-become-the-complaint-of-the-powerful.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2FFirst%20Words&action=click&contentCollection=Magazine&module=Collection&region=Marginalia&src=me&version=column&pgtype=article

🔃

The Outrage Cycle

“Someone does something on the internet,” he said. “It causes everyone to notice them. And the internet is this huge crowd that loves things way too intensely and disproportionately.”

“At some point, inevitably, it’s found out that they’ve said something regrettable at some point in their lives, because they’re human. They never realized they were going to have to stand up to the scrutiny of everyone. And then you hate them as much as you once loved them.”

“Before we were online, it took longer for people to disappoint you,” he added. “And sometimes, maybe, they never did.”

[…]

But Mr. Ward’s original tweet can also be seen as mocking the entirety of the now-familiar outrage cycle. It pokes fun at people’s repeated willingness to be seduced by seemingly lovable new public figures, as well as their predictable rejection of those figures when they become, as internet parlance would have it, problematic.

Bromwich, J. E. (2017, June 27). How a Joke Becomes a Meme: The Birth of “Milkshake Duck.” Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/27/arts/milkshake-duck-meme.html?module=WatchingPortal&region=c-column-middle-span-region&pgType=Homepage&action=click&mediaId=thumb_square&state=standard&contentPlacement=3&version=internal&contentCollection=www.nytimes.com&contentId=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2017%2F06%2F27%2Farts%2Fmilkshake-duck-meme.html&eventName=Watching-article-click&_r=0

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Imagined Enemy

The need to “win” is undoubtedly most present in those who see themselves as “losers.” Whether by circumstance or by self-destructive tendencies, those who feel marginalized by society, or ridiculed by better-educated people, or simply unloved and unwanted look for redemption by trying to defeat some imagined enemy. But lost in this quixotic crusade is the concept of collaboration, since one can hardly respect another if they do not respect themselves. The sad result is a fruitless cycle of trying to find self-worth through the vanquishing of others.

As with Trump himself, Republican voters seem wholly unsatisfied despite having won control of the government. They still feel inadequate and aggrieved, and can’t seem to figure out what to do now. While Trump tries to recreate the excitement of his campaign with bizarre “rallies” to boost his ego, the Trump voter looks at the unchanged conditions of his life and wonders when the spoils of victory will finally make him feel better about himself.

pconrad (2017, June 20). Re: Tired of Winning? You Should Be [Reader Comment]. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/20/magazine/tired-of-winning-you-should-be.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Ffirst-words&action=click&contentCollection=magazine&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection

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🚧

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

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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

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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

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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