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Great Lines: The Christmas Edition

First, some important distinctions between dressing and stuffing at Thanksgiving:

I personally believe that the continued ingestion of stuffing can lead to behavioral changes like the inability to recognize the downbeat or the desire to masturbate publicly. I’m just saying, I’ve eaten dressing all my life and have never once felt the desire to masturbate in a room with more than one person. Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K. and Mark Halperin ate stuffing all their lives, and look what happened.


Second, as someone who never understood why parents would give a fictional fat white dude for the presents they bought with their hard earned money, I entirely agree with this statement:

This is why black parents always end the charade and let their children know that, like Chicago’s “gang thugs,” All Lives Matter and trickle-down economics, Santa is a figment of the white imagination.


Third, an important point about how to really seek truth:

Without this fastidiousness about truth, you can't be truly independent-minded. It's not enough just to have resistance to being told what to think. Those kind of people reject conventional ideas only to replace them with the most random conspiracy theories. And since these conspiracy theories have often been manufactured to capture them, they end up being less independent-minded than ordinary people, because they're subject to a much more exacting master than mere convention.

Great Lines: The Samantha Bee Edition

Samantha Bee is one of the funniest people out there today. You may not agree with her political views, but her book is filled with some great lines:

Who among us didn’t enjoy unwinding with liquor and smokes in the company of unsupervised children?


They were about to explain the fundamentals of lesbian sex to two impressionable nine-year-olds, and they had to do it in such a way that minimal information would be supplied but no further questions would arise.


Hitting puberty excavated a wellspring of evil energy in me that led me to the discovery that my parents were vulnerable and had made mistakes that could be exploited in an interesting way.


Sadness wafted everywhere you turned.


The fastidious gay man I worked with went limp with “the vapors.” When he recovered his senses, his disgust was electrifying.

Great Lines: The Rules of Employment Edition

I couldn't pick just one or two of the points in this post, so I'm going to repost it.

  • Stay calm. Remember, you can’t become worse off than when you started.

  • Cultivate a professional mindset. You are above the company, descending to help them. Do the work required, do honest work, help them achieve their goals, but don’t become mentally trapped.

  • Negotiate. Books can help with this. There are thousands of good books to help develop “soft skills”, read them and use them.

  • It’s my moral obligation to update my resume and get it out there at the first signs of trouble. Don’t stew over bad or unfair situations, improve my situation, find better work.

  • Keep private life private.

  • Don’t think adversarially. Be professional.

  • Remember the feelings of others. See from their perspective.

  • When leaving a company, others will feel slightly resentful toward you, and you will feel excited because of new opportunities. Do not be too jovial in leaving or it will damage the memories others have of you. Empathize with them, tell them they will be missed, show concern for them and let them see you working hard on their behalf one last time.

  • Don’t half-work just to put in the hours. It’s better to give full effort half the day and then be done. Cultivating an ass-in-seat mentality is harmful to myself. When needed, give full effort all day, exceed expectations and demand compensation.

  • Consider doing personal projects early, before work. Give my best self to myself, to my own projects.

  • Do the bullshit. It may not make sense, it may not be right, but the resulting respect and power may be worth it. Do the silly certifications, compete for silly rewards, participate, have a good attitude.

  • Communicate with my adversaries. Help them, help them on their turf. If a contest arises, best them on their turf. They don’t care if I best them on my own turf.

  • None are above me, all are coworkers towards the company goals. It is not my place to decide all things, it is not my place to decide what I work on, or where I would be most valuable.

  • Don’t seek personal satisfaction through company projects. This leads to frustration. Be professional, take satisfaction in helping the company achieve its own goals, not my own. Personal projects are for personal satisfaction.

  • Do not complain at lunch with coworkers. Do not speak about your boss as though they are an adversary. Help your boss, they have struggles too, they need your help. Communicate with them, ask them how to help.

  • Thinking is work. (also)

  • Never burn a bridge just for personal satisfaction. Avoid burning bridges, but don’t let fear of burning bridges stop you from doing the right thing. Especially as you get older, you only have to maintain a good reputation until retirement age, not forever.

  • It’s your moral right to push for high compensation. Maybe even your moral obligation. Negotiating for a high wage will help others do the same. Keep your resume up to date.

  • All problems should be viewed through the lens of “How does this hinder the companies goals?” With this view, people will want to hear your problems, but they may not choose to solve the problem the same way you would. Management wants to know the code sucks, but they might not choose to rewrite everything. That’s their choice.

  • Just because people don’t think of things in the most abstract, general, or elegant way possible doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Sometimes you need to give people something that matches their way of thinking.

  • Don’t sneak out at the end of the day and hope nobody asks you about hours worked. Focus, do good work quickly, sell your work, make sure people know your important contributions, and then face the “hours worked” conversation with courage and good negotiating skills. Leave no doubt that you’re a valuable memeber of the team.

  • If you believe something may lead to problems, but nobody wants to change, watch for the problems to occur and when they do you can propose the change again. If no problems occur, then maybe it wasn’t really a problem.

  • The purpose and objective of work is to collect a paycheck by doing honest but comfortable work, enjoy the time and effort spent with your team, and not work too much overtime.

Great Lines: The Don't Want to Be Enlightened Edition

I'm worried that we've got an impassable gulf between the Trump faction and the rest of America. In times like this, I read history and it shows that there were times in the past when were similarly divided. America made it through. But can we keep on repeating history? I don't know.

This is an old article, but it shows how little things have changed over the years.

the most obvious question no one has the guts to ask: “What if Americans don’t want to be enlightened? What if they’re a bunch of mean, miserable hicks as hostile to enlightened thinking as they are to the possibility of free, quality health care?”


You’d rather fuck things up on your own, something you’re quite good at, and bring others down with you—than live with the shame of having been helped by someone more decent and talented than you.


Kerry’s war heroism secretly pissed off untold millions of American males, especially middle-aged white American males, who identified with the cowardice and loud-mouthed hypocrisy of the Republican war deserters, because most white middle-class American males were war deserters too.

Great Lines: The Rented Family Edition

By the time you read this, I will have had some eye surgery. So this newsletter may or may not be getting sent to you from a blind man. :)

First, John Scalzi accurately captures my feelings about people who refuse to wear masks:

...at this point if you are choosing to be unvaccinated because of a political position or because “you don’t trust the science” or whatever dimwit rationale you have, you’re being an asshole, and if you get sick, I’m not going to waste any sympathy on you. My sympathy at this point is for the people the willfully unvaccinated are going out of their way to endanger, namely, the people who genuinely can’t get the vaccine for medical reasons, whose lives will still be curtailed because some of us have decided being a shitty person about COVID is a legitimate social and political stance. Hey! Stop being an asshole about this. Get vaccinated.


Second, you can apparently rent families in Japan to help avoid socially awkward situations:

Terai searched YouTube for tear-inducing videos, and found a Thai life-insurance commercial about a girl who didn’t appreciate the love of her deaf-mute father. Terai cried, and felt that a burden had been lifted.


Third, it's very easy to fall prey to conspiracy theories and faulty thinking:

all it takes to enter an echo chamber is a momentary lapse of intellectual vigilance. Once you’re in, the echo chamber’s belief systems function as a trap, making future acts of intellectual vigilance only reinforce the echo chamber’s worldview.


Great Lines: The Hillbilly Elegy Edition

J.D. Vance is now one of the people he talks about it in this book. People say that it was plain to anyone that he would make his current heel turn into a die-hard Trumper. For me, this raises a larger question: if someone turns out to be a terrible person, can you still enjoy the art that they made? I don't actively listen to R. Kelly or Michael Jackson anymore, but I won't change the song if they come on. At the end of the day, I don't have the answer. If you have thoughts, please reply to this email.

Anyways, the following quotes are from J.D. Vance's book, Hillbilly Elegy.

There is a cultural movement in the white working class to blame problems on society or the government, and that movement gains adherents by the day.

First,

According to Middletown High School legend, a student called in a bomb threat during one of Selby’s exams, hiding the explosive device in a bag in his locker. With the entire school evacuated outside, Selby marched into the school, retrieved the contents of the kid’s locker, marched outside, and threw those contents into a trash can. “I’ve had that kid in class; he’s not smart enough to make a functioning bomb,” Selby told the police officers gathered at the school. “Now let my students go back to class to finish their exams.”


Second,

Or there was that day when Uncle Teaberry overheard a young man state a desire to “eat her panties,” a reference to his sister’s (my Mamaw’s) undergarments. Uncle Teaberry drove home, retrieved a pair of Mamaw’s underwear, and forced the young man—at knifepoint—to consume the clothing.


Third,

I once ran into an old acquaintance at a Middletown bar who told me that he had recently quit his job because he was sick of waking up early. I later saw him complaining on Facebook about the “Obama economy” and how it had affected his life.


Fourth,

One guy, I’ll call him Bob, joined the tile warehouse just a few months before I did. Bob was nineteen with a pregnant girlfriend. The manager kindly offered the girlfriend a clerical position answering phones. Both of them were terrible workers. The girlfriend missed about every third day of work and never gave advance notice. Though warned to change her habits repeatedly, the girlfriend lasted no more than a few months. Bob missed work about once a week, and he was chronically late. On top of that, he often took three or four daily bathroom breaks, each over half an hour. It became so bad that, by the end of my tenure, another employee and I made a game of it: We’d set a timer when he went to the bathroom and shout the major milestones through the warehouse—“Thirty-five minutes!” “Forty-five minutes!” “One hour!” Eventually, Bob, too, was fired. When it happened, he lashed out at his manager: “How could you do this to me? Don’t you know I’ve got a pregnant girlfriend?” And he was not alone: At least two other people, including Bob’s cousin, lost their jobs or quit during my short time at the tile warehouse.

Great Lines: The Infinite Choices Edition

One good thing about the pandemic: there is no longer a social obligation to hug people. I've never been a big hugger, but have grown to tolerate it. No more! I'm finally going to shake off the yoke of the Hug Industrial Complex after all these years.

First

What you have to realize is that you are always saying ‘no’ to something because anytime you say ‘yes’ to one thing, you are simultaneously saying ‘no’ to an infinite number of others.’”


Second

...conservatives apparently continue to believe that saving face matters more than anything...


Third

The hope that there's a hard-to-get miracle cure that will save them speaks directly to the poisonous social Darwinism that guides modern conservatism. It reflects deep hostility to the very concept of a shared public good and a fierce attachment to a racialized ideology of individualism that treats public goods such as health care as things to be hoarded by those with the privilege, money and status to do so.

Conservative ideology simply doesn't allow for the possibility that anything, including pandemic management, is best managed with a "we're all in this together" mentality. Instead they're drawn to this fantasy that there's a Platinum Member COVID-19 status that can be purchased, which will allow them to opt out of the suffering of the plebeian class that has to quarantine or risk sickness and death.

Great Lines: The Barbershop Edition

Over the past 3 weeks, I've begun venturing back out into the world. It's been odd, but not nearly as jarring as I thought it might be. I feel bad for folks who are having a lot of social anxiety being around people again. If you read this newsletter and are one of those people, call or email me and I will come to you.

On to the show...

First, an accurate recap of the Trump team’s press conference in Philadelphia in November:

The good people of Philadelphia, who also know how to read a press release and were not interested in letting the second-born failson and a martini-soaked former Lifelock spokesman do a photo-op menacing the dutiful election officials who are just trying to count the votes.


Second, a description of something I have personally experienced at the barbershop:

If you are a person who happens to be a woman, and you've ever entered a barbershop, you might have left impressed by their politeness and chivalry. Do not be fooled by this. Because, the moment you left the shop — like, literally, one second after you left — it turned right back into an 8th boys' locker room. And, even if your butt is basically just an extension of your back, it was noted and mentioned. Sometimes in depth. And sometimes, um, not in depth. (i.e.; "Dat ass, though?!?!")


Third, this explains my current feelings about not having gone to the barbershop in over a year:

You’d even settle for a cut from bruh in the back, whose skills are so shaky that he’s only allowed to cut kids, white boys, and cops.

Great Lines: The Denialism Edition

I read this great article about denialism this week. I cast out a denialist from my life earlier this year, after realizing that he was entirely malignant and was employing "whataboutism" as a cover to say increasingly insane things.

The majority of denialists cannot be reasoned with. Stop talking to them and do something that will actually bring you joy.

First, the difference between denial and denialism:

Denial is furtive and routine; denialism is combative and extraordinary. Denial hides from the truth, denialism builds a new and better truth.

Second, an explanation of the core tenets of denialism:

Denialism offers a dystopian vision of a world unmoored, in which nothing can be taken for granted and no one can be trusted. If you believe that you are being constantly lied to, paradoxically you may be in danger of accepting the untruths of others. Denialism is a mix of corrosive doubt and corrosive credulity.

Third, an explanation of post-denialism, or Trumpist thought:

Post-denialism represents a freeing of the repressed desires that drive denialism. While it still based on the denial of an established truth, its methods liberate a deeper kind of desire: to remake truth itself, to remake the world, to unleash the power to reorder reality itself and stamp one’s mark on the planet. What matters in post-denialism is not the establishment of an alternative scholarly credibility, so much as giving yourself blanket permission to see the world however you like.

Great Lines: The White Man's Word Edition

I recently read Dave Parker's new autobiography, Cobra. There are tons of good stories in the book, but this one about what happened after a black player was unfairly fined by the league was my favorite:

Charlie had some idea of what this was about and found George Sisler Jr., son of the great first baseman for the St. Louis Browns, sitting very properly on a stool in the bar. In an extremely stern voice, Sisler demanded to know the details of the incident with Rochester police. Charlie once again was forced to explain himself. Sisler wasn't convinced.

"Why am I to believe you?"

"You know why, Mr. Sisler? Because asshole is a white man's word. If I was gonna cuss you out, I would have said motherfucker."

Sisler stared at Charlie Boo for a few moments, opened his wallet, and handed him $300.

Great Lines: The Trolling Edition

I got the first shot of the Pfizer vaccine on April 29. On Sunday, I got sick with flu-like symptoms. It passed by Monday night. I'm sure there are some people out there who would use this experience to argue for "safe vaccines". Those people are morons.

The human body is so unique that we can all have an unexpected reaction. I used to take NyQuil almost every night in my sophomore year of college because of insomnia.That caused what's called a parodoxical reaction. I now have to take NyQuil to stay awake and DayQuil to sleep (I don't take either anymore). That didn't make me into an advocate for "safe sleep aids". I just accepted that I'm different and got on with my life.

I used to talk to an anti-vaxx idiot. When I brought up the fact that no vaccine is 100% safe, his response would be something like, "Have you ever seen a family member have a bad reaction to a vaccine? How can you support something unsafe that could hurt your family?" That is a stupid statement on its face. Nothing in this life is 100% safe. If you want to be totally safe, then sit inside a bubble inside an oxygen chamber in your fortified panic room. You still won't be totally safe. The chamber could run out of oxygen. Burglars could lock you in and steal all of your things. Your cat might eat your face. Grow up and live in the real world.

So if you're vaccine hesitant and don't have any known medical reasons to not get vaccinated, I can't stress this enough: Stop being an idiot and schedule an appointment. Or stay in your house for the rest of your life. Or die. I don't really care. But don't go around spouting nonsense.


First, trolling isn’t all fun and games. I finally excised a troll, the same one who's "vaccine hesitant", from my life last year. Best decision I could have made:

Defenders of trolling insist it’s all just a joke, but if trolling is inherently designed to get a rise out of someone, then that’s what it really is. In many cases, it is designed to look and feel indistinguishable from a genuine attack. Whether you believe what you are saying or not is often immaterial because the impact is the same — and you are responsible for it, regardless of how funny you think it is. It is a lesson kids learn time and time again on the playground, and yet, it is ridiculously difficult for people to accept the same basic notion in online culture, no matter their age.


Second, the troll I referred to above is very religious and very much a conspiracy theorist:

…researchers have found that people who are more susceptible to conspiracy theories are often obsessed with religion or a god or a value system.


Third, here’s a decent test to see if an expert is believable:

If an expert passes these two requirements, you may consider them ‘believable’. Dalio then suggests a communication protocol built on top of believability: if you’re talking to someone with higher believability, shut up and ask questions; if you’re talking to someone with equal believability, you are allowed to debate; if you’re talking to someone with lower believability, spend the least amount of time hearing them out, on the off chance they have an objection you haven’t considered before; otherwise, just discount their opinions.

Great Lines: The 24 Hours To Live Edition

I had an ethical conundrum a few weeks back. I saw that I could go to a small town in the southern part of the state and get vaccinated. After thinking about it, I decided to wait my turn here at home. It ultimately seemed unethical to me to take a dose from someone else in that community.

I’ve been sitting inside for the past year. What’s a few more months?


First, a look into how police unions see those who they protect:

Imagine a nurses’ union that hated patients, that went on TV and talked about how much trouble the patients give them.


Second, Shea Serrano does a deep dive into which rapper had the best last day in Ma$e’s song “24 Hours To Live”:

I just know spending the final hours of your life handling bank-related business is an odd choice.


Third, Trump’s base isn’t just poor whites. Many more of them are middle class people:

If you’re looking for Trump’s implacable support, Texas trailer parks and Kentucky cabins are the wrong places to find it. Fascism develops over hands of poker in furnished basements, over the grill by the backyard pool, over beers on the commuter-rail ride back from the ball game—and in police stations and squad cars.

Great Lines: The Nixon/Trump Edition

I’ve recently been watching a lot of the original “Head of the Class” series on HBO Max. This type of nostalgia has been very prevalent in my life recently.

Over the past 3 months, I indulged in a very self reflective exercise. I found all of the links I’ve felt were worth saving, scattered all across various online repositories. I got all of the links together, tagged them with their subject, and organized them in the way I’d always dreamed of. It gave me a small bit of control in an uncontrollable time. When all was said and done, I had almost 29,500 links catalogued.

For those who are interested, you can see almost all of the links here. Feel free to use it as a way to find interesting stuff to read. If the link is broken, just enter it into the Internet Archive.

And now, on to the Great Lines.

First, a blogger responds to people telling her to stick to [insert non-political subject]:

Do you think I care about losing you as a follower? I do not. Not one bit. I will actively block you on Instagram if I know you’re a Trump supporter. You unfollowing me doesn’t hurt me in any way. I literally — in the true sense of the word — won’t notice you are gone.

You can’t support Trump and also be a decent human being. You can’t support Trump and earn my respect.


Second, this obituary of Richard Nixon by Hunter S. Thompson can likely be reprinted with “Nixon” replaced by Trump when that wonderful day arrives:

He has poisoned our water forever. Nixon will be remembered as a classic case of a smart man shitting in his own nest. But he also shit in our nests, and that was the crime that history will burn on his memory like a brand. By disgracing and degrading the Presidency of the United States, by fleeing the White House like a diseased cur, Richard Nixon broke the heart of the American Dream.


Third, a classic line from an essay about the classic comics of Wile E. Coyote:

…your mind is a baffling supercomputer nevertheless hopelessly inadequate to the task of understanding the full terrible complexity of the world around you.

Great Lines: The Sibling Business Edition

Since this past October, I’ve been in a state of constant anxiety. First it was the election. Then it was the terrorist attack on January 6. Then, it was the impeachment. But, I realize now that there’s no sense in me worrying about these things. I can’t control them. It also helps to have an actual human being as president, instead of the sentient Youtube comments section we’ve had to endure over the past 4 years.

So I’m back. I’ll do my best to keep the issues flowing. You do your best to keep reading them.


First, people who lose their loved ones to QAnon are part of a collective grief over the fact free triumphing in our marketplace of ideas:

QAnon draws its adherents into an imagined battle of good versus evil that is prophesied to culminate in an apocalyptic reckoning. In its mission to prevail over a satanic cabal of liberal elites, it promotes themes of Christian nationalism, including patriotism and the preservation of traditional American values. QAnon believers also spend a great deal of time poring over Q’s cryptic 8kun posts, or “Q Drops,” which are often steeped in Scripture, like sacred texts bearing hidden truths. And above all, QAnon demands unwavering faith in a higher power.


Second, Samantha Irby’s newsletter of Judge Mathis episode reviews is some of the funniest stuff I’ve read in years:

first of all, that’s sibling business. unless jane’s husband was around in 1986 when that bitch threw a bike at me on the corner of ridge and main street then taunted me all the way home he couldn’t possibly understand the layers of stale resentment we are assaulting each other over! sibling fights are rarely about the disagreement at hand, they’re always sprinkled with some old shit, grudges that we’ve been holding onto for years. let us work that shit out with our fists! and second, i know my sister had her left knee replaced and exactly how to kick her in it, i don’t need anyone else messing up my plan of attack! kendiel should’ve just hit her brother over the head with the monopoly board and got a sitter from care dot com!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Third, I would like to meet Maxine Waters and learn her ways:

Rep. Waters is definitely that auntie who got rich selling Avon and doesn't really like your father.

Great Lines: The White Terrorism Edition

Yesterday was one of the most shameful days in American history. We saw a group of domestic terrorists storm the Capitol and face no real consequences. This country is broken, and I don’t know how we can fix it.


First, the great and now resurrected Today In Tabs newsletter perfectly described Kelly Loeffler:

The less-surprising race was between the Reverend Raphael Warnock, holder of at least two Masters degrees and one Doctorate and pastor at Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s church, and incumbent Kelly Loeffler, a coat rack brought to life by an evil wizard, dressed up in a trucker hat, and gifted a Senate seat. Loeffler's main accomplishments are being married to the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange and buying shares in a bodybag producer when she heard about the coming pandemic. Loeffler, who is so egregiously villainous that the players on the WNBA team she owns have been wearing "Vote Warnock" t-shirts, has so far refused to concede the race. At press time she was sitting down to her customary breakfast of Dalmation puppies and was unavailable for comment.


Second, this is what the police are about:


Third, this is the epitome of the privilege of the white terrorists from today:

whitey

Great Lines: The Anti-Vaxxer Edition

This week, I present an excerpt from a book called Anti-vaxxers: How to Challenge a Misinformed Movement. I’ve often wrestled with a person I know from law school who can’t distinguish between scientific/medical facts and legal facts. This is a good summation of the difference:

Legal rulings have no bearing on scientific and medical truth. Like scientists, legal professionals are interested in finding the truth (well, at least sometimes). However, the means that the legal profession uses to arrive at decisions are different from those used in science. In a legal ruling, a decision must be reached. In scientific inquiry, the starting point of every investigation, “I don’t know,” is the default epistemological standpoint, and most common endpoint for an investigation. There are not specific rules that scientists must follow to the letter while evaluating evidence; however, there are heuristics and scientific virtues that scientists follow and apply when conducting, evaluating, and peer reviewing evidence. Results published in the scientific literature are not considered to be final but may at any time be reconsidered in the light of additional evidence, conflicting experiments, or new discoveries. Only rarely does a scientific proposition rise to the point where it is considered to be a “theory,” which is accepted to be true pending further evidence, or a new model that better explains existing data. Legal rulings by the VICP do not determine scientific truth; rather, they determine if a case presented meets the standards set out in law. These standards are often flawed and partial.

Great Lines: The Focus Edition

Our brains are ravaged by a constant barrage of information. We aren’t meant to be in a state of such constant and persistent stimulation. I’ve really gotten into Cal Newport over the past few years. I highly recommend reading his books. He talks about the need for people to focus so they can do deep, meaningful work.

This past week, Newport ran a series of posts for Focus Week on his blog. I recommend reading all of them. Here are some excerpts:

First, give your brain some breathing room:

To summarize, in my proposed scheme, you engage with the world of digital information only twice a day: once in the morning, and (perhaps) once in the evening. Outside these brief moments of anxious consumption, you focus instead on living well.

Second, rediscover depth:

… read two chapters from a book every day; with at least one of the chapters read in a scenic or otherwise interesting setting.

Finally, take control of your time:

At the heart of my advice is a simple recommendation: take control of your time. To be more concrete, when thinking about your work day, I suggest that you give every minute a job.

Great Lines: The Frankenghoul Edition

I know someone who thinks the world is controlled by the Deep State. I wish there was a Deep State, because then perhaps we could talk to someone to see how the election will go.


First, a good explanation of alternative medicine vs. quackery:

Good alternative medicine can be any variety of new treatments, including those derived from plant sources, as long as it is still evidence-based and rooted in the scientific process. Bad alternative medicine ignores evidence in favor of hunches and fears.


Second, Drew Magary on MLB’s season restarting:

I was set for the dominoes to fall and for MLB to abandon a season that they clearly hadn’t adequately planned for. But I failed to account for MLB’s commitment to evil and incompetence…


Third, the best description of Betsy DeVos I’ve seen yet:

Education Secretary/Frankenghoul Betsy DeVos has demanded schools reopen this fall, and White House spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that science — which is, you know, taught in school — “should not stand in the way” of such decisions.

Great Lines: The Protest Pup Edition

I really appreciate the fact that we’re getting more aware of the racist core of our society. But, we must be careful to not let ourselves become as terrible as those we oppose. There are some good quotes about the so-called liberal media below.


First, Matt Taibbi makes some good points about the “liberal” media:

The media in the last four years has devolved into a succession of moral manias. We are told the Most Important Thing Ever is happening for days or weeks at a time, until subjects are abruptly dropped and forgotten, but the tone of warlike emergency remains: from James Comey’s firing, to the deification of Robert Mueller, to the Brett Kavanaugh nomination, to the democracy-imperiling threat to intelligence “whistleblowers,” all those interminable months of Ukrainegate hearings (while Covid-19 advanced), to fury at the death wish of lockdown violators, to the sudden reversal on that same issue, etc.

It’s been learned in these episodes we may freely misreport reality, so long as the political goal is righteous.


Second, Drew Magary watched “Gone With The Wind”:

This is a raw look at how white filmmakers and white audiences thought, back in 1939. Going by that Amazon spike, this is what many white audiences want to watch right now. Being fanned by slaves represents the good old days for them. No wonder so many wingnuts rushed to prop up this Kentucky Derby party of a movie.

Drew’s take on Scarlett O’Hara:

She’s dead inside. She’s clinging to a sepia-toned past that she cannot resurrect, but is willing to kill on the off-chance she might be able to. Remind you of other people you know?


Third, there are some very impressive dogs out there, fighting the power all day e’ryday:

The hound always seems to side with the protesters, whatever the dispute." He was also "unfazed even by water cannon[s]" and "appear[s] to be immune to the effects of tear gas…

…the dog we're talking about is called "Negro Matapacos" or "Black Cop-Killer" (because he's black and dislikes cop, not because he's racist).

Great Lines: The I Don't Make Very Much Edition

In 2010, Matt Taibbi went to a Tea Party rally and saw the people who later voted Trump into office:

Scanning the thousands of hopped-up faces in the crowd, I am immediately struck by two things. One is that there isn’t a single black person here. The other is the truly awesome quantity of medical hardware: Seemingly every third person in the place is sucking oxygen from a tank or propping their giant atrophied glutes on motorized wheelchair-scooters. As Palin launches into her Ronald Reagan impression — “Government’s not the solution! Government’s the problem!” — the person sitting next to me leans over and explains.

“The scooters are because of Medicare,” he whispers helpfully. “They have these commercials down here: ‘You won’t even have to pay for your scooter! Medicare will pay!’ Practically everyone in Kentucky has one.”

A hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters, railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries as they cheer on the vice-presidential puppet hand-picked by the GOP establishment. If there exists a better snapshot of everything the Tea Party represents, I can’t imagine it.

After Palin wraps up, I race to the parking lot in search of departing Medicare-motor-scooter conservatives. I come upon an elderly couple, Janice and David Wheelock, who are fairly itching to share their views.

“I’m anti-spending and anti-government,” crows David, as scooter-bound Janice looks on. “The welfare state is out of control.”

“OK,” I say. “And what do you do for a living?”

“Me?” he says proudly. “Oh, I’m a property appraiser. Have been my whole life.”

I frown. “Are either of you on Medicare?”

Silence: Then Janice, a nice enough woman, it seems, slowly raises her hand, offering a faint smile, as if to say, You got me!

“Let me get this straight,” I say to David. “You’ve been picking up a check from the government for decades, as a tax assessor, and your wife is on Medicare. How can you complain about the welfare state?”

“Well,” he says, “there’s a lot of people on welfare who don’t deserve it. Too many people are living off the government.”

“But,” I protest, “you live off the government. And have been your whole life!”

“Yeah,” he says, “but I don’t make very much.”

Great Lines: The Killer Mike Edition

First, Matt Taibbi talks about the politicization of facts:

We’ve become incapable of talking calmly about possible solutions because we’ve lost the ability to decouple scientific or policy discussions, or simple issues of fact, from a political argument. Reporting on the Covid-19 crisis has become the latest in a line of moral manias with Donald Trump in the middle.


Second, Thomas Frank on the strange reversing of populism over the ages:

What does it tell us when liberals, faced with epic political corruption, spectacular bank misbehavior, and towering inequality, take that opportunity to declare war on populism? It tells us that they’ve lost any sense of their own movement as an expression of the vast majority. It tells us they have no idea why they believe they should be entrusted with power in the first place. And it reminds us that their particular brand of class-based self-delusion is a luxury that the rest of us can ill afford.


Third, a great profile of Killer Mike includes solid advice such as:

By then, Mike's father had already joined and left the Atlanta Police Department. His instructions to his son on how to survive were just as simple: “You see the police riding north, just walk south.

Great Lines: The Trump Rally Edition

First, Drew Magary went to a Trump rally back in 2016. His base hasn’t changed much since then:

“I know the greatest negotiators in the world,” he said. “Now some of these people are horrible human beings. You wouldn’t have them to dinner. They’re vicious. They’re crude. They’re unhappy. They treat everybody badly. Who cares? I want them negotiating against China. Think of Carl Icahn, a friend of mine. He’d be great. I’d say, ‘Carl, take China’.”

Now, people applauded this, which alarmed me because (A) Who has friends like this? And (B) Sending a vicious, crude, unhappy person who treats everyone badly to go yell FUCK YOU at the Chinese strikes me as unwise.

But a Trump rally isn’t about thinking more than half a second ahead. There is a first BOLD step, and then you are left to assume that everything else will fall neatly into place. In Trump’s white-trash, Louis XIV universe, all you see is the pretty gold paint before it starts chipping off the walls.


Second, Matt Taibbi talks about policing in America:

Basically we have two systems of enforcement in America, a minimalist one for people with political clout, and an intrusive one for everyone else.

Great Lines: The Look Good Edition

First, a great quote from Deion Sanders:

"If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay good."


Second, a man plays “The Boys Are Back In Town” on a bar’s jukebox until he gets kicked out:

I left with a full heart, flush with new knowledge about the town, and the boys within it, who now would never leave, and word of whom I had spread around. I would also be severely late to work the next morning


Third, H.L. Mencken once said something about the American public that’s still very applicable:

Here [in the United States] the general average of intelligence, of knowledge, of competence, of integrity, of self-respect, of honor is so low that any man who knows his trade, does not fear ghosts, has read fifty good books, and practices the common decencies stands out as brilliantly as a wart on a bald head, and is thrown willy-nilly into a meager and exclusive aristocracy.

Great Lines: The Beastliness Edition

First, a couple of fans get close to their idol.

Perk liked the idea of a digital shrine to his beastliness.


Second, a message to the 2020 graduates:

Who has time for grace right now? Who has time for grace or patience when the world has been blown to shit? All through the pandemic, I’ve seen ads and billboards and yard signs saying that we Americans are in this together, and that it’s on us to beat back the coronavirus and come out the other side stronger than ever. Why is it always on us? Why is it never on THEM? Why aren’t the people who let this virus rip apart bodies and fortunes taking responsibility for their negligence?

I’ll tell you why: Because they want you to be survivors on their terms and their terms only. They want you to suck up what’s happened, then carry on as if it never did. They’re counting on it, both personally and financially. You are their human capital stock. They’d like things to go back to exactly the way they were, and they want to create the illusion that this would be a happy development. Imagine the gall it takes to don a Minnesota smile and appoint yourself shepherd to a generation you just bilked and left for dead.


Third, a law professor claps back on some cowardly students who wrote her an anonymous memo about wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt:

Your use of hyperbolic rhetoric throughout the memo suggests that you really are angry about more than just a T-shirt. If it really is about just the T-shirt, then by overgeneralizing from a specific occurrence, your message is swamped by exaggeration. If it really is about other “conduct” on my part, I can’t tell what that is. By the end of the memo you have lost focus completely, generalizing (in statements that are unexplained and inexplicable) about bar passage and about the faculty and administration of the entire law school.

Great Lines: The I Don't Have An Opinion Edition

First, how a black man and his white mother became estranged because of Trump:

The next day, my mother showed her entire ass. She basically became Trump, in my own house. My mother decided to don that bright-red “Make America Great Again” T-shirt and asked me to take her out to places while she had that shirt on, putting me in a position of having to appear to support Trump’s election. Again, I put my pride to the side. It’s my mother. She birthed me.


Second, an important point for those who always agree to disagree:

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression ‘everyone is entitled to their opinion.’ Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself, maybe to head off an argument or bring one to a close. Well, as soon as you walk into this room, it’s no longer true. You are not entitled to your opinion. You are only entitled to what you can argue for.


Third, you don’t need to have an opinion on everything that’s going on:

It’s perfectly okay to say “I don’t know” or “I don’t have an opinion on that” to those who are desperate to engage in some bad faith discourse on the wild headline of the day.

Great Lines: The Old Man In Poverty Edition

First, a lawyer for the superrich who both exploits the tax code to save his clients money and sounds the alarm when a loophole feels too outrageous:

He's not ashamed of this. His methods are perfectly legal. In fact, he sees himself not as someone who exploits the system for the benefit of the few but as the guy who keeps the system honest for everyone.


Second, a man who made some of the best fake U.S. banknotes using an inkjet printer:

He dedicated an upstairs room in his new house to a regimented counterfeiting process, with two Hewlett-Packard computers, nine inkjet and laserjet printers, stacks of paper divided by type; it was a manufacturing routine based on production-line principles: "Probably the best organised office I've ever seen," Mack Jenkins says.


Third, a man in the late 60s moves to San Diego to live a life of poverty and freedom:

…a theory that time has repeatedly proved: Context is everything. In this instance, the question is, How does a legitimate buffet guest respond to the sight of another guest, presumably legitimate, who is busily looting the table? The answer is, He will do nothing.

Great Lines: The Egotistical Charlatan Edition

First, writing about Gordon Ramsay eviscerating a pretentious douche is very satisfying:

It is brought about because Joe will not stop making elk quesadillas, a dish Gordon told him time and again, with no room for confusion, is a terrible dish that should be taken off the menu. At the outset, Joe was supposed to be the helpless man tied to the railroad tracks, waiting for Gordon to save him. Instead, he is the train itself. He is fixed upon the track, knowing no other option but to make the same crummy food for miles and miles.


Second, in a thing that the Internet was built for, a man tries to figure out the date of the “Good Day” in the Ice Cube song:

The ONLY day where:
Yo MTV Raps was on air
It was a clear and smogless day
Beepers were commercially sold
Lakers beat the SuperSonics
and Ice Cube had no events to attend was…


Third, an African dictator who lives up to the name:

He’s boasted that he will rule for “a billion years”. He’s adopted a ridiculous string of titles: “His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya AJJ Jammeh Babili Mansa.” (The last phrase translates to “conqueror of rivers”.) He’s posed as a fetishistic healer, claiming magical powers to cure Aids, asthma and diabetes, and has launched witch-hunts to root out enemy sorcerers.

Great Lines: The Black Spades Edition

How to Play Black Spades, Part 1

First of all, spades is not a game, it is a skills contest that requires complex permutative calculations while winning a “game” only requires luck. Old black men who carry pocket knives do not play games.

Everyone at The Root knows how to play spades but no one could specifically remember being taught. I erroneously assumed every black person was born with the innate ability to play spades, season chicken and hit the exact notes on Frankie Beverly’s wail in “Before I Let Go.”

Electricity is only needed to keep score. If a person has electricity, that means they receive an electric bill. And, after years of laboratory testing, National Association of Spades Activities (the real NASA) determined that the best medium for recording spades scores was the back of an envelope that previously contained the second notice for an overdue light bill.

The writing utensil can come from anywhere but preliminary studies show that the best ink comes from a pen that was at the bottom of a church lady’s purse that has been used to write down scriptures during three consecutive Bible study classes.

You are only at the stage called “’bout to play spades,” which precedes the “finna play” stage.

Ace high: …This version is usually only played by old Ques, people who have spent time in prison or people who played in the band at an HBCU. You don’t want to play this way.


How To Play Black Spades, Part 2: The Glossary

Unlike our white counterparts, black people already know the answer to “which came first—the chicken or the egg?”

The egg.

Breakfast comes before dinner.


How To Play Black Spades, Part 3: We Finna Play

If you are beating someone really bad or playing against a very experienced shit-talker, you may begin to think your mother is engaged in an ongoing sexual relationship with your opponent. Don’t worry, Frank is just trying to shake your confidence...Maybe.

Great Lines: The Disagreement Edition

From Shane Parrish:

…The first thing we usually do when someone disagrees with us is that we just assume they are ignorant. You know, they don’t have access to the same information we do and when we generously share that information with them, they are going to see the light and come on over to our team.

When that doesn’t work. When it turns out those people have all the same information and they still don’t agree with us we move onto a second assumption. They’re idiots. They have all the right pieces of the puzzle and they are too moronic to put them together.

And when that doesn’t work. When it turns out that people have all the same facts that we do and they are pretty smart we move onto a third assumption. They know the truth and they are deliberately distorting it for their own malevolent purposes.

So this is a catastrophe: our attachment to our own rightness. It prevents us from preventing mistakes when we need to and causes us to treat each other terribly.”


2020


Third, a 72 hour Asian meth party in Denver and Las Vegas:

Back at Nick's house, there are Otter Pop wrappers everywhere. Otter Pop wrappers on the hardwood floors, on the kitchen tile, on the toilet seats in all the bathrooms, in the sinks, on the turntables, on the couch cushions. They are hard, plastic, sticky, omnipresent evidence that something very strange and very wicked went down in this place.

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