We have popular names now for the rhetorical tools these flacks are deploying: the straw-man attack, the fake umbrage, the concern-trolling. Why are those tools so familiar? It is because they are essential parts of the smarmer’s tool kit, the grease gun and the rag and the spatula.
In this, as in so many other parts of contemporary politics, members of the self-identified center are in some important sense unable to accept opposition. Through smarm, they have cut themselves off from the language of actual dispute. An entire political agenda—privatization of government services, aggressive policing, charter schooling, cuts in Social Security—has been packaged as apolitical, a reasonable consensus about necessity. Those who oppose the agenda are “interest groups,” whose selfish greed makes them unable to see reason, or “ideologues.” Those who promote it are disinterested and nonideological. There is no reason for the latter to even engage the former. In smarm is power.
At some point, in a piece like this, convention calls for the admission that the complaints against snark are not entirely without merit. Fine. Some snark is harmful and rotten and stupid. Just as, to various degrees, some poems and Page-One newspaper stories and sermons and football gambling advice columns are harmful and rotten and stupid. Like every other mode, snark can sometimes be done badly or to bad purposes.
Smarm, on the other hand, is never a force for good. A civilization that speaks in smarm is a civilization that has lost its ability to talk about purposes at all. It is a civilization that says “Don’t Be Evil,” rather than making sure it does not do evil.
I love this.
Why am I like this? Not only why am I a music collector, but why am I the kind of music collector that I am? I might as well ask why I breathe the way I do. It comes from my being an only child. Not a lonely child, but a child who knew intuitively how to keep himself entertained. A child who always loved being in control of his physical and imaginative space. Equally, it comes from my growing up in a suburban house where life tended to be pleasant and uneventful. Music opened worlds. Records were a route to ecstasy, exoticism, challenge, and fun. So I’m playing—playing at collecting, then playing what I collect.
This bubbling discontent is reassuring. It might even help bury some of the myths spun by Silicon Valley. Wouldn’t it be nice if one day, told that Google’s mission is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” we would finally read between the lines and discover its true meaning: “to monetize all of the world’s information and make it universally inaccessible and profitable”? With this act of subversive interpretation, we might eventually hit upon the greatest emancipatory insight of all: Letting Google organize all of the world’s information makes as much sense as letting Halliburton organize all of the world’s oil.
Yeah, ok article. Loses me in the second half.
They never even got close to fame. It didn’t help that they never really named their group. They were called The Gospel Quartet. It was like naming a funk band The Funk Band.
The top 10 percent of the idea generators as predicted by Knack were in fact those who’d gone furthest in the process. Knack identified six broad factors as especially characteristic of those whose ideas would succeed at Shell: “mind wandering” (or the tendency to follow interesting, unexpected offshoots of the main task at hand, to see where they lead), social intelligence, “goal-orientation fluency,” implicit learning, task-switching ability, and conscientiousness. Haringa told me that this profile dovetails with his impression of a successful innovator. “You need to be disciplined,” he said, but “at all times you must have your mind open to see the other possibilities and opportunities.”
…..What really distinguishes CEOs from the rest of us, for instance? In 2010, three professors at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business asked roughly 2,000 people to look at a long series of photos. Some showed CEOs and some showed nonexecutives, and the participants didn’t know who was who. The participants were asked to rate the subjects according to how “competent” they looked. Among the study’s findings: CEOs look significantly more competent than non-CEOs; CEOs of large companies look significantly more competent than CEOs of small companies; and, all else being equal, the more competent a CEO looked, the fatter the paycheck he or she received in real life. And yet the authors found no relationship whatsoever between how competent a CEO looked and the financial performance of his or her company.
The constant references to “boom boom” kind of cracked me up.
Fleming’s prediction was correct. Penicillin-resistant staph emerged in 1940, while the drug was still being given to only a few patients. Tetracycline was introduced in 1950, and tetracycline-resistant Shigella emerged in 1959; erythromycin came on the market in 1953, and erythromycin-resistant strep appeared in 1968. As antibiotics became more affordable and their use increased, bacteria developed defenses more quickly. Methicillin arrived in 1960 and methicillin resistance in 1962; levofloxacin in 1996 and the first resistant cases the same year; linezolid in 2000 and resistance to it in 2001; daptomycin in 2003 and the first signs of resistance in 2004.
And there goes my Pulitzer eligibility. After a few quick calls—and a request I immediately reject to send a photo of my genitalia for insurance against the possible exposure of her identity—she says she’s told her husband she’s going running and agrees to meet me. I sprint to an ATM and withdraw money for her cab, then jump in a taxi myself to the twenty-four-hour L’Express and sit at the bar. She calls me as I’m on my second vodka tonic. I’m afraid it’s to cancel or to mock me for showing up, but she says she’s en route. Ten minutes later she walks in. I can’t describe her appearance, except to say that she has listed her weight in the mid-one-hundreds, calls herself “fit,” and wears corporate attire. I can see how she would be some men’s type; she’s not exactly mine, but I could also envision a scenario in which, if I were single and feeling lascivious, something might happen.
“Most people in those days thought that the NSA and CIA worked for the U.S. government,” he said. “But they don’t. They’re an entity unto itself, a global entity that is comprised of the Five Eyes.” The Five Eyes is the informal name for the intelligence-sharing agreement between the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. “This community operates outside of the Constitution,” Fellwock said, “and from everything I’ve seen, it still does.”
But what has shocked both men is that somebody engaged in a journalistic endeavor like Miranda could be labeled a terrorist by the U.K. “I guess we should have known,” says Greenwald. “This is a country with a history of repressing press freedoms, that has no constitutional guarantee of a free press. I mean, they still have a queen. Is there anything more primitive and authoritarian than a fucking monarchy?”
But as central as this debate is to the identity of the party, Democrats won’t openly litigate it until they’re forced to ponder life after Obama. Partly out of deference to the president, partly out of a preoccupation with governing, and partly because there is no immediate political need, parties rarely conduct their internal soul-searching when they control the White House. It’s only when the president finally contemplates retirement that the feuding breaks out with real violence. Think of the Republican Party after George W. Bush. Or, you know, Yugoslavia.
For more than half an hour, Canales listened to their concerns about his bill and another proposed by a lawmaker who wanted to eliminate candy and chips: Should government really be in the position of telling adults what to eat? And if so, who would be trusted to sort through the 40,000 items sold in a typical grocery store and divide healthy from unhealthy? If energy drinks were banned, why not also ban canned iced coffee that has twice the caffeine and triple the sugar? Or Sunny D fruit drink? Or Gatorade? Or fruit punch? And once every product had been rated and sorted, what if some grocery stores decided it was easier not to accept food stamps at all? Or what if food-stamp recipients felt too stigmatized to shop?
Wouldn’t lawmakers be better off working to solve the problems of poverty rather than regulating them? How about funding programs for nutrition education, or encouraging more fresh produce in inner-city grocery stores, or building playgrounds and making streets safer so people would exercise? Why not focus on alleviating the stresses of poverty, which so many studies had linked to overeating?
And now instead of solving one problem, we want to turn it into a larger debate and bigger problem. :[
This all comes from Greenwald in an unstoppable verbal torrent. He doesn’t skip a beat as he hand-feeds raw hot dogs to more canine strays that wander in from the trees. He gushes, “One way is people internalize those judgments. Like, ‘I’m horrible, I’m filthy, I’m broken, I’m wrong, I’m defective, I’m going to go destroy myself’ — which is why gay teens end up killing themselves, right? I just decided to turn the aggression on the people I felt were attacking me. I was like, ‘You’re not going to tell me that I’m wrong, I’m going to show you that your actions are wrong.’ So that was the approach I took toward authority. This very hostile, aggressive way of being that required me to analyze all figures of power and that eventually became waging war on prevailing orthodoxies. And when you do that, it’s an intellectually lonely exercise, but you become much stronger.”
He looks out the window onto his small balcony awash in sunlight. “So I’m divided between being glad that I was so hubristic and being appalled.” He turns back to me. “I mean, who did I think I was?”
We had tried to get pregnant for years. It seems you go most of your life desperately hoping to avoid pregnancy, the teen condoms and 20-something IUDs and the cohabitational birth control pills, then suddenly a hinge swings and you’re doing all you can to reproduce, the charts and the basal thermometers and the joyless calendarized sex. I’d once had a condom-breakage incident with a college girlfriend and was so traumatized by the experience that she and I had broken up immediately and I’d gone the rest of the semester celibate. Then time zooms past and you’re in your late 30s (or worse) and fighting against biology and the cruel arithmetic of the market and graduate school and career earnings, and you’d give pretty much anything to have the joy of 19-year-old Trojan-clad fucking just once more.
I liked this. Like “In the Mood for Love”