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


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/


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



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.


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



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/


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



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


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



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


Hulk Emoji

Fear of His Own Anger

And as such, we learn that banner can call out his hulk at a moment’s notice. Which, in my opinion, is a wonderful evolution of the character. It speaks to the idea that our emotions are something that are always present. Anger can’t be abstained from. It cannot be feared. Anger is simply an ever-present part of us, just as much as joy, sadness, or even something instinctual like hunger. It is something that is just felt. And I believe this is precisely where “the cruel joke” comes into play (referred earlier in the article as “It’s as if he is the only one who is keenly aware of a cruel joke being played on the world.”)
For years, banner battled his own mind and merely turned out that fear of his own anger was a trap. Really, he had to understand it. To recognize it and accept it. And that’s precisely what brought genuine control. The whole thing seems like a contradiction, but no more a contradiction than the idea that unleashing “the other guy” can be the very thing that makes his [Hulk] heroic.

Film Crit Hulk. (2012, May 7). THE HULK ON MARK RUFFALO’S HULK. Retrieved from http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2012/05/the-hulk-on-mark-ruffalos-hulk.html


Mail-It-In Autopilot

This guy has been on “mail-it in” autopilot for decades, sleepwalking his way through movie after movie, and somehow convincing people it’s all brilliant and genius. It’s the same awkward sarcasm of a guy living on a reputation established more than 30 years ago and gets away with it because anyone who criticizes him gets browbeaten into submission by fanatics who have convinced themselves [Bill] Murray is a cultural icon, when he is no such thing.

20 Over-rated Actors. (2014, March 29). Retrieved from http://www.rantlifestyle.com/2014/03/29/20-overrated-actors/#slide39 (URL no longer active)


Ready-made Violence

On a basic story level, you could argue that rape-revenge is technically doing the character the courtesy of dealing with the significance and fallout of trauma, but really it’s just turning that trauma into another short-cut for ready-made violence and rote catharsis. The whole problem here is that, also like the texture of horror, it can just as easily spill over into gross over-simplification and exploitation.

Film Crit Hulk. (2014, April 29). CAN HULK COMPLAIN ABOUT GAME OF THRONES’ RAPE SCENE YET? Retrieved from http://badassdigest.com/2014/04/29/can-hulk-complain-about-game-of-thrones-rape-scene-yet/

Lego Brick

Currency of Life

This is probably really clear in the film’s “not letting his kid play with Legos” analogy, but think about it in grander terms. Think about the way society operates. The real problem is that adults build a world without understanding why they’re playing the game in the first place. Business. Politics. These are desperately important things that need to function and be taken seriously in order for society to function, but every damn day we forget that the reason we do them is because we actually crave the simplest things in life: fun. Peace of mind. Love. Togetherness. Despite how those words sound, I swear to you that these are not flowery ideas. These things are the real currency of life. And they are part of all the things adults claim they are fighting for.

The problem is that we build adult systems and values that so readily exclude it. That feed into our desire to overwork. That get us to miss all that other good stuff in our lives. That mine it for maximum business and feed into the same system that doesn’t actually want you to have happiness, but merely continued consumption. It is essentially “objectifying” all our simple things. Again, this isn’t to get all political on your ass, but the business for business’ sake moral argument might be the most forehead-slapping bit of inanity ever. Not because it doesn’t work, but because it doesn’t understand the root of happiness lies in emotional sanctification, not chasing an endless high and constantly expecting a different result. Sorry, but it’s all right there plain as day.

Meaning day after day, adulthood fails us.

And really, they are failing themselves.  And all this parent / kid metaphor mumbo-jumbo is the reason the climax to THE LEGO MOVIE works. It is the simple act of telling adulthood that they are wasting it. That they need to embrace the real purpose under everything.

Film Crit Hulk. (2014, February 11). THE REAL AWESOMENESS OF THE LEGO MOVIE. Retrieved from http://badassdigest.com/2014/02/11/film-crit-hulk-smash-the-real-awesomeness-of-the-lego-movie



Stories can take that didactic thing we call “advice” and render it into experience; meaning it can make us experience things before we actually have to deal with them and guide us in that purpose. It can show us where we have been. It can clarify life’s reality.

Film Crit Hulk. (2014, January 22). Film Crit Hulk Smash: THE ACT OF KILLING AND THE REAL MEANING OF IMPACT. Retrieved from http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2014/01/22/film-crit-hulk-smash-the-act-of-killing-and-the-real-meaning-of-impact


People might be more prone to mix it up if they knew they could survive several shotgun blasts at close proximity by walking over a bag with a Red Cross on the side.

Lileks, J. (2014, May 9). The Bleat. Retrieved from http://lileks.com/bleats/archive/14/0514/050914.html



The problem isn’t that the movies are product—most movies are product, and always have been—but that they can’t be bothered to pretend they’re not product. That’s the difference between popular art and forgettable mass-produced entertainment: the mass-produced entertainment flaunts its product-ness, then expects us to praise even minor evidence of idiosyncrasy as proof that we are not, in fact, collectively spending billions on product.

Seitz, M. Z. (2014, May 6). Things Crashing Into Other Things: Or, My Superhero Movie Problem. Retrieved from http://www.rogerebert.com/mzs/things-crashing-into-other-things-or-my-superhero-movie-problem


Odd Question

Odd question, but it’s on my mind. If I pee into a bowl and use the filter on that, will it taste like water or pee?

Why ruin the taste of urine w/ a LifeStraw???
Chris H. answered on November 11, 2014

If you are at the point where you have to drink your pee, does taste really matter?
mrvman answered on October 23, 2014

Severson, T. (2013, October 29). Amazon.com: Questions & Answers. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/forum/-/Tx2J7FU0SL633HP/ref=ask_dp_dpmw_al_hza?asin=B006QF3TW4


Frustratingly, Harlow limited his discussion of Gage’s mental status to a few hundred words, but he does make it clear that Gage changed—somehow. Although resolute before the accident, Harlow says Gage was now capricious, and no sooner made a plan than dropped it for another scheme. Although deferential to people’s wishes before, Gage now chafed at any restraint on his desires. Although a “smart, shrewd businessman” before, Gage now lacked money sense. And although courteous and reverent before, Gage was now “fitful [and] irreverent, indulging at times in the grossest profanity.” Harlow summed up Gage’s personality changes by saying, “the equilibrium … between his intellectual faculties and his animal propensities seems to have been destroyed.” More pithily, friends said that Gage “was no longer Gage.”

Kean, S. (2014, May 6). Phineas Gage, Neuroscience’s Most Famous Patient. Retrieved from http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2014/05/phineas_gage_neuroscience_case_true_story_of_famous_frontal_lobe_patient.html