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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

👎

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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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

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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

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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