david brooks

(I’ve decided to continue with this series, “David Brooks: Threat or Menace?” which was previously called “David Brooks: Hero or Menace?” because I had misremembered a joke about Spider-Man.)

This week isn’t quite as exciting as last week’s; we’re probably never going to get quite the staggering constellation of “white-guy cluelessness” and “fantasy worlds in which Jefferson Davis is Abraham Lincoln’s evil anti-matter duplicate” in our lifetimes. Or maybe we will, it is David Brooks, and there doesn’t seem to be a bottom of the barrel when it comes to this guy’s cluelessness.

Like I said, though, this week isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen.  It’s David Brooks talking about the “minimum wage muddle”, in which he stakes out a position somewhere between “Abortions for Some and Tiny American Flags for Others” on the one hand and “helpless shrug emoji” on the other.  I’ve got some things that I want to say about just what is at the root of Brooks’ quivering “let’s-not-be-hasty” timidity masking as moderate patrician condescension, but first I want to at least address just what the “minimum wage muddle” is.

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What an extraordinary creature is David Brooks.  Sometimes I read his columns, usually when an article about them appears with a subheading of “Can you believe this shit?” – Brooks is a …what is the word for a person whose job is to have opinions about things and then write them down?  An opinionist, I  guess – David Brooks is a professional opinionist for the New York Times which, much to the detriment of some and at least slightly to the detriment of all, remains the single most important journalistic outlet in America, and possibly (by dint of its influence and reach if nothing else) the world.  David Brooks is, in a way, powerful.

He is also terrible. His opinions are terrible, and I think his opinions are often expressed terribly, which means he’s violated two important requirements of being a professional opinionist – an occupation which, to my knowledge, has only got two requirements in the first place.  I have decided to take on his column this time as a challenge to myself; I may make a project of it if this proves suitably interesting.

So!  You may have heard that Ta-Nehisi Coates has written a book about his experience as a black man, particularly as a black man living in Baltimore, that takes the form of a series of letters to his son.  It is full of impassioned rage and exactly the sort of clear and incisive perspective that you read Ta-Nehisi Coates for.  Naturally, David Brooks read this book and, also naturally, had an opinion on it.  It is his job, after all.

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The thing about a tumor is, it’s not just malign tissue.

(Well, the first thing is that it’s not “malign” at all; tumors aren’t evil, they’re just obstinately disinterested in the well-being of the organism that supports them. They’re more like Libertarians.)

A tumor isn’t just malign tissue, it’s a factory for malign tissue. It swells up somewhere, on your testicle, for instance, which you discover in the shower on Sunday night because your doctor told you when you were fourteen to start checking for tumors, because being fourteen wasn’t already an age replete with anxieties about uncontrollable forces destroying your life, you had to add in fucking tumors.

You find a mass on your testicle, and you know how tumors work, you know that it’s metastasizing even as you think about it, sending out fucking saboteurs to the rest of your organs.

I’ve had an ache in my thigh for a while now; is it a muscle pain, or is it a metastasized tumor that lodged in the muscle tissue of my leg? My back hurts, my spine is crawling with tumors. There are tumors in my intestines, in my prostate (prostate cancer is what killed my grandfather) and my colon (colon cancer is what killed his brother). There’s a pain in my groin roughly in the spot where my lymph nodes are (lymphatic cancer is an extremely common and dangerous variety).

If it hasn’t metastasized, maybe they’ll just cut off one or both of your testicles. If it’s spread to your muscles and your bones and your intestines, maybe they’ll just have to amputate my entire lower body. People can survive like that – you have colostomy bags for the rest of your life, and a wheelchair obviously, and you don’t fence or do kung fu or do a lot of things anymore, really.

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This movie was fine. There were a bunch of robots, and people shot beams at them. Thor hit some robots with his hammer, Hulk smashed some robots, Captain American kicked his shield around a bunch of times. The best part was James Spader’s exasperated Ultron, who just couldn’t believe how people didn’t get how great his plan is. Actually, I think as far as villains go, Ultron was probably the second best we’ve seen in a J. Whedon Joint – Holland pointed out to me that making the villain an insane robot actually makes a lot of things make a lot more sense. We’d have a hard time buying this kind of “I dunno, what about a meteor?” plan from a crazy human being, but a crazy robot, sure. Who knows WHAT those fucking things are up to.

(Who’s the first best villain? Loki? No, it’s the Mayor of Sunnydale from season 3 of Buffy. I contend that the best parts of Loki are actually Hiddleston’s nuanced, three-dimensional performance in Thor; in the Avengers, he’s interchangeable with any other dumb old megalomaniac.)

Obviously, though, I am here to talk about politics.

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The Hitler Questions

Posted: April 13, 2015 in Braak
Tags: ,

I like hypothetical ethical dilemmas. I think they’re interesting, because ordinarily I think we don’t really think about what constitutes “right” and “wrong”: we’ve just got a sense of it, and when questions come up, we respond to them intuitively first, and then justify them later. The purpose of Ethical Dilemmas is to interrogate that mechanism that lets us choose, but in an environment where outcomes are known to us. This lets us examine both how we feel about a question, and how those questions interact with what we say our principles are.

Here are some questions about whether or not you’d go back in time to murder Adolf Hitler.

(Trigger warning for some talk about the Holocaust and about rape and murder.)

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Here’s the thing about nerds – and please know that I’m including myself in this, maybe as the worst of us all, the monster is within me, &c.: we all know at this point that there are nerds. Nerds are people who like weird stuff, and sometimes display a socially-unacceptable level of enthusiasm for our weird stuff. We dress up in costume for Harry Potter book launches or sign our emails with Star Trek quotes or what have you. But I think everyone also knows that there are nerds, and then there are nerd nerds: the kind of guys that you hope never show up to a conversation about any topic, because despite our enthusiasm and our granular knowledge of every little bit of a topic, we’re fucking terrible.

We’re the Comic Book Guys of the world, the Um, Actuallys, the Technically Speakings of the world. You all know us and I think that, even though we talk a big game about bullying, I think we maybe know, deep down, that when we do that kind of shit we deserve a little bit of the pejorative muck that still sullies the word “nerd.”

So, what I’m here to do is to present my Unified Theory of Being a Nerd, and then (maybe more importantly), I want to talk a little about the two major attitudes towards the world that it causes, and why these things are bad, why they should be rejected, and a little bit about how to quarantine them.

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Cara Blouin

Well, I guess now I’m going to put my petulant little fists on my lady hips and rant about how The Lantern put on an unironic production of The Taming of the Shrew. Isn’t that just so typical? I’ll probably bray about things like agency and consent until everyone is just bored and tired. Listen, I don’t like it any more than you do, but I’m going to keep acting like this until someone finally succeeds in shutting my bitch mouth.

Now, when I was in college I had a boyfriend who said that women who behave this way just need a deep dicking, but I don’t know. I got dicked pretty deep at The Lantern tonight and here I am typing.

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