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

9

🎬

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

👻

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