Random Reads

Dave Chappelle vs. the New Puritans

As in Minneapolis, it was a spectacle that invited onlookers to weigh the appeal of a funny, sharp-witted, charismatic social critic versus that of a humorless mob that demands universal adherence to a program of rigid ideological conformity. The culture war around Chappelle isn’t over, and may keep raging on for years. But it isn’t hard to predict which side will eventually have the last laugh.

Anarchy in paradise: how a fringe community descended into darkness

The message of the series has “more to do with adhering to an ideology in itself, and what that means”, he said. “When you’re forgoing your ability to think for yourself, and you’re hoping that an ideology and the leaders behind it will give you all of the answers.”


Dr. Elon & Mr. Musk: Life Inside Tesla’s Production Hell

A previous employee remembered Musk saying that Tesla’s goal was to save the world. “He would get really emotional,” this person told me—and that’s why he sometimes seemed callous, “because what’s one person’s feelings compared to the fate of billions? Elon cares a lot about humanity, but he doesn’t really care about individual people all that much.” (A Tesla spokesperson said Musk “very much cares about individual people.”).

How a 28-year-old is fighting against ‘divisive’ anti-racism training

After the death of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter protests, and panicked corporate statements responding to social unrest, Valdary had a revelation: “All of a sudden, companies were in search of trainings that could help them have conversations about race, but DEI programs take an approach that is oftentimes hostile, oftentimes lacking in empathy, and oftentimes perpetuating stereotypes about both black and white people alike.”

Joe Rogan Vs. Censorious Boomer Gods

Neil Young and Joni Mitchell once dwelled in the pop culture niche now inhabited by Joe Rogan. I wonder how they would have reacted had Bing Crosby and other top crooners of the previous generation tried to get their record labels to throw them off because he believed they were a bad influence on society. Well, they have become hypothetical Bing Crosby. I don’t care if younger musicians love or hate Joe Rogan, but I do hope that they don’t follow these crotchety, censorious Canadians’ lead in using strategic self-cancellation as a new weapon in the culture war. This will not end well for any of us.

Courageous Conversations: An Interview with David Whyte

I also try to rehabilitate a lot of words and qualities that might have pejorative sense about them. I’ve got a new series of essays coming out in the fall, called Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment, and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words. There must be a place for everything in the human soul, including fear, jealously and regret.

A Different Approach to Anti-Racism

That last question is easier to answer, in the sense that people are looking for alternatives to programs that make them feel worthless. And this is important to point out because of the connection between insecurity and a supremacist superiority complex.

My Workplace Romance Was a Brilliant Mistake

But when Ms. Bash implies that what he did — a consensual relationship between two divorced adults — isn’t a crime, there’s an underlying sentiment I agree with, which is that inappropriate workplace romances often happen not because people are evil or abusive, but because they’re human.

The New N-Word Standard Isn’t Progress

It’s time to stop putting people in the stocks for mentioning the N-word when they’ve done nothing history will judge as wrong.

The Ottawa Trucker Protests Are a Test of Democracy

We disagree with the protesters’ cause, but they have a right to be noisy and even disruptive. Protests are a necessary form of expression in a democratic society, particularly for those whose opinions do not command broad popular support. Governments have a responsibility to prevent violence by protesters, but they must be willing to accept some degree of disruption by those seeking to be heard.

Be warned: for influencers, social justice is no more than a branding device

These symptoms of a culture that is forgetting the value of beauty, weirdness and coolness. Of people who are brave. Of people who are very good at something that matters. Of feeling like something inside you is waking up. A culture that is so risk-averse it has stupefied itself.

What we can learn from Desmond Tutu, a man for whom forgiveness trumped vengeance

From left or right, the politics of history is the province of scoundrels. Worse than that, it can become a death cult. We are pitted against each other by those who return, time and again, to the original wound that they cannot or will not allow to heal. Not that we can deny the past. But we ask ourselves who owns truth? Who decides when or how truth is told? All nations have stains on their history.

When Keeping It ‘Woke’ Gets Racist, Liberals Should Say So

The notion that expecting one’s children “to form and express opinions” and “questions elders” is a definitionally white parenting style, while expecting children to “show respect by quiet listening” is a “color group” one, is a racial caricature. As is the broader idea that white families prize individualism over communal obligation. Positing fundamental cultural distinctions between people with different pigmentations — not different class, regional, national, or religious backgrounds, but merely different concentrations of melanin — is a task better left to white supremacists than equity coaches.

How Christmas Changed Everything

Even now, I catch myself believing that the world belongs to the victors and the powerful. The church, like nearly everyone else, tends to want to be more like the comfortable, the successful, and the powerful — more like Augustus Caesar — than the one who became weak, helpless, and despised. We often look for God more in the abundance of gifts under the tree or the happiness of our days than in the helplessness of a baby, the worry lines of the poor, or the lonely agony of a dying man on a cross. But again this year, this story asks to shock us anew and to yet again turn the world upside down.

Is Jeremy Strong the bad art friend?

The assumption the rest of us tend to make in order to justify attacking the eccentrics in our midst is that they don’t know how they come across. Certainly, that’s how Schulman portrays Strong — unaware that there’s a joke and that he’s the brunt of it. Perhaps that’s not the case, though. Strong, Dorland, and Pellegrino each seem to have some idea of how they’re being perceived, and to choose, despite the risk of increased mockery and pain, to continue being themselves, at their most extra and obnoxious.
Making this choice is a rite of passage for many of us — for the theater, kids hamming it up, the fangirls shrieking too loudly at concerts, the excited nerds geeking out about obscure subjects, and on and on. The choice to embrace effusive displays of sincere feeling will always bring the risk of vilification. Perhaps when the next viral profile drops, we might push past the knee-jerk mockery, recognize the capacity for eccentricity in ourselves, and extend a little kindness

“Who the Fuck Cares About Adam McKay?” (We Do, and With Good Reason)

“I’ve learned some lessons,” McKay adds. “It’s always hard feelings.”

Don’t Look Up is a hellishly unfunny ride through The Discourse

At no point does Don’t Look Up’s script demonstrate an interest in why these people do these things, or what causes these online phenomena. Despite this being a central aspect of his story, McKay doesn’t seem to think it worthy of consideration. There’s a word for that: contempt.

Bill Maher Is America’s Most Important Conservative Voice

But times have changed, and the same irreverence that made Maher a frustrating adversary has made him a uniquely brave ally.

Ignore your critics 

It doesn’t matter what Groucho or Elvis or Britney or any other one-name performer does or did… the critics won’t be placated. Changing your act to make them happy is a fool’s game.

Twitter founder reveals secret formula for getting rich online

It’s not magical. It’s simply an engine of convenience. Those who can tune that engine well — who solve basic human problems with greater speed and simplicity than those who came before — will profit immensely. Those who lose sight of basic human needs — who want to give people the next great idea — will have problems. “We often think of the internet enables you to do new things,”
Williams said. “But people just want to do the same things they’ve always done.”

I found peace in unexpected corner  of the internet: nun Twitter

Knowing when you’ve messed up, and apologising swiftly, is an unspoken rule in this corner of the internet, too. “I am a human person and make mistakes all the time,” says Danya Ruttenberg, a rabbi from Chicago. If she tweets something ill-informed, offensive or wrong, Ruttenberg simply deletes it and apologises if necessary. “It doesn’t have to be a big deal,” Ruttenberg says. “It doesn’t have to be so heavy. You’re not a terrible person if you make a mistake

Can Progressives Be Convinced That Genetics Matters?

“Genetic differences between us matter for our lives. They cause differences in things we care about. Building a commitment to egalitarianism on our genetic uniformity is building a house on sand.”