Useless Pussies

Do you know who actually grabbed a woman by her pussy without her consent?

Jacob Blake.

Read the text of her complaint. That woman was very traumatized.

Are any pussy-hatters objecting to the lionization of a man who actually committed a real sexual assault?

Ha ha ha.

They only care about pussies when those pussies can be used for a convenient cause.

It’s interesting how all the recent civil rights heroes are heavily into violent crimes against women and children.

Morbid

Random fact: 36% of the 150 age 40 & under “with COVID” deaths in Cook County list obesity or morbid obesity as a secondary cause of death.
https://t.co/1Tbsdd3qZ8

Related question: Why isn’t IDPH sharing statewide comorbidity data for COVID deaths?

https://twitter.com/EWoodhouse7/status/1299840994175848448?s=19

I wish we talked more about this instead of fretting over vacationers, kindergartners, and other not at-risk groups.

Oh, Canada…

Canadians! US people always mock us as pathetic US wannabes. Is there any reason to try so hard to prove them right?

I’m very embarrassed right now. Anybody who ever lived in Montreal, ever came in contact with local police or knows anything about the country’s history is wriggling in vicarious shame.

And yes, it’s just a couple hundred people. But that’s how it started here, too. A few confused, useless fools. And now look where we are.

Vichy Theorists

Clive James traces the obsessions of French theory of the 1970s and 1989s to the shame of the country’s intellectuals who collaborated with the Vichy government:

The heartening capacity of the tree of knowledge to replant itself in scorched earth does something to offset the depression induced by the spectacle of accumulated decades of bad conscience. The bad conscience was so bad that it would rather have undone its own culture than face itself. Paris, of all places, became the world’s production centre for new ways of proving that the critical intelligence can operate with no fixed connection to reality.

Nothing is real, there’s no objective truth, nothing is objectively better than anything else, all morality is oppressive and so on – these are the hallmarks of French theory. For James, these ideas are a product of a group of intellectuals who were eager to justify their collaboration with the worst of evils. We all know that this was true in the case of Paul De Man but James argues that this is a much larger phenomenon.

Anti-Benjamin

Few reading experiences rival the pleasure of watching the great Clive James eviscerate Walter Benjamin for his abstruse style of writing and the shallowness of his insights:

‘Thus, this very, might, just as’ —it’s the prose equivalent of a velvet fog: breathe it in and you’ll choke on cloth. Benjamin was young, but this style of argument was never to be long discarded. In the next volume, or perhaps the one after that, the critic grown older will be heard on more down-to-earth subjects, but invariably the attendant metaphysical speculation will send his treatment of them spiralling towards the ceiling, like the burnt paper wrapping of an amaretto cookie rising on its self-generated column of hot air. (The first time I ever saw that trick worked in an Italian restaurant, I thought immediately of a thin argument gaining altitude.) Apart from his remarks on the reproducible works of art and their lost aura, Benjamin’s other widely known brainwave is about how the broad pavements of Paris favour café life. The observation is persuasive, if commonplace even for the time it was made, but the prospective reader should be warned that the disquisition it instigated was endless.

I couldn’t stand Benjamin in grad school, and I’m glad somebody roasted him so effectively and irreverently.

One more quote on the subject of Benjamin’s most important book that he never finished because of his tragic suicide:

There is no reason to believe, and every reason to doubt, that the fully realized omnium gatherum would have kept a reasonable proportion between its author’s enviable knack for assessing the significance of what everybody else had already seen and his congenital propensity for inflating the results into a speculative rigmarole that nobody else would ever think or could even follow. The sceptical question lingers; how could a brain as sharp as his churn out so much mush?

Oh, to write like this… (Like Clive James, obviously, and not like the indigestible Benjamin). What a gift.

And it’s not all just poking fun. Right after the quoted passage, James explains how Benjamin’s writing was a reaction against the anti-Semitism of his times. I almost cried, it was so touching.

How I Changed My Mind About Pizza

When immigrants come to their new country and get established, the first thing they do is go to a restaurant. Usually, it’s a restaurant that serves food from back home. Food nostalgias are the strongest of all.

Twenty years ago, Russian-speaking immigrants in Montreal didn’t have any restaurants from back home. I have no idea which eateries today’s immigrants from my part of the world go to but in 1998-2005 fresh-off-the-boat newcomers always went to the Greek restaurants on Prince Arthur Street. Greek food was the only available in the strange new place that we recognized as food.

Today’s Ukrainians probably have more developed palates but back then we are fresh out of the USSR and had a very limited understanding of what constitutes food. For years, I would go to Japanese restaurants or pizza places with friends and sit over an empty plate trying not to look disgusted with the weird stuff they were putting in their mouths. Once I followed a group of friends into a Thai restaurant and had to excuse myself to the bathroom as soon as food appeared because the sight of it made me retch.

Greek food was exotic to us but at least it was food. Not anything adventurous like grape leaves or moussaka (those terrified us) but grilled meat and potatoes. Or even rice. It was unusual – whoever just eats rice? That’s simply weird. Rice is to put into soups or tefteli, not eat it up straight – but we felt adventurous.

It took years in the new country for me to try pizza. I was at my office on campus with other graduate students. We were grading papers and felt ravenous. Pizza was brought, and I sawed at it with a fork and a knife feeling scandalized by the people who just bit into it. (You should have seen how I ate hamburgers, stunning people in roadside diners around the country. I’d take the whole thing apart, spread it around, and then eat each ingredient separately with a fork and knife. I have a feeling this had the same effect on other patrons as the sight of Thai food still does on me).

I really didn’t care about that first pizza. Unlike with sushi, which made me realize I’d been missing something great the first time I stopped picking them apart and just stuffed one in my mouth, pizza took a very long time not to be puzzling and even longer to be enjoyable. I never eat it more than 2-3 times a year but at least I now enjoy it when I do.

Former Existential Threats

Remember the impeachment?

Remember “climate change is an existential threat”?

Remember Trump’s phone call with Zelensky?

Remember Vindman?

This was all quite recent. Not even a year ago this stuff was all we heard about. And now nobody cares.

All of these “existential threats” to democracy and life on Earth 🌎 mysteriously faded away as soon as new, fresh plots were developed.

On the positive side, everybody who is not an amnesiac now yawns whenever the words “existential threat” crop up.

How I Changed My Mind About Twitter

Hey, anybody on here desperate to hear how I changed my mind about Twitter?if not, I’ll share anyway.

Long-time readers know that I always detested Twitter above all social media. It’s stunning how people manage to pollute 140-word messages with endlessly repeated scoffing at “blue checks” (particularly beloved by people who are themselves blue checks), the constant “I don’t know who needs to hear this” and “that’s it, that’s the tweet” and sad attempts at witty repartee.

But then COVID came. And Twitter became the only place where you could modify your feed in a way that wouldn’t expose you to COVID hysteria at all.

It’s a completely distorted view of reality, of course. You spend two months in a lockdown, you never talk to any people and assume that the world is filled with rational, normal human beings who don’t think that Zoom and Amazon can substitute normal human interactions.

Then you emerge from a lockdown and realize that things you say as a matter of course (e.g. small children are not at a major risk of dying from COVID; I like seeing people’s faces; I’m not afraid of catching COVID while walking in an empty street, I played outside with my kid for 6 hours yesterday, etc) affect people in the same way as if you said, “I recently joined a neo-Nazi group and we routinely burn some synagogues and mosques for fun.”

After a few experiences like those, you start spending more and more time on Twitter to make sure there are still people who aren’t mortally offended by the idea that you aren’t completely terrified.