Elon Musk, functioning elections, “Andor,” and death — Americans can genuinely give thanks for all these things and more this holiday.
Last year, I wrote an article listing 10 things Americans should be grateful for on Thanksgiving. These included food, antibiotics, solar power, and the mites that live on your face. To encourage everyone to get with the program, I didn’t mention that at night these mites emerge from your pores and have sex (on your face).
I know you want to believe this mite information is “fake news” from the MSM and Deep State. And it does seem exactly like what we’d say to demoralize the public and soften you up for the Great Reset. But I’m afraid this is all too real; see the section starting at 2:15 here:
In any case, it appears that practicing gratitude is good for you. It improves your sleep and strengthens your immune system, and can even reduce chronic pain. So let’s consider 10 more things we can all be grateful for this Thanksgiving, none of which involve the numerous eight-legged sexy mites which right this second are living on your face.
God bless this dork, seriously. No one in history has so clearly demonstrated that the ultrawealthy who run the world have absolutely no idea what they’re doing. Generally they’re smart enough to remain hidden behind their phalanx of money and guns. But with Musk’s purchase of Twitter, he was willing to come out, shout “Here we go, into the future!” and then trip on his shoelaces and fall down 900 flights of stairs.
Of course, there’s a downside here. A prominent linguist named Edward Sapir wrote this in a book published in 1921:
Everything that we have so far seen to be true of language points to the fact that it is the most significant and colossal work that the human spirit has evolved. … Language is the most massive and inclusive art we know, a mountainous and anonymous work of unconscious generations.
This is true about language, and on a smaller scale is also true about Twitter. Twitter is a colossal work of art produced by hundreds of millions of people working together for free, with no particular goal in mind. They just all had a burning need to share their miscellaneous thoughts with the universe.
twitter is a good way to let the swarm of bees inside your head out one by one— ? Jon Schwarz ? (@schwarz) February 18, 2014
So it will be terrible if Musk destroys Twitter, akin to Julius Caesar setting the Library of Alexandria on fire. Moreover, like Caesar, Musk will carry out his mass destruction not on purpose but by accident. On the other hand, at least Musk, unlike Caesar, is doing this in a way that allows us to point and jeer at him, on his own platform.
A belief in the legitimacy of elections allows humans to live with one another without intermittent mass slaughter. In 2020, Donald Trump decided this was less important than his feelings getting hurt. It’s never been clear exactly who he claims rigged the election. Diebold? Hugo Chávez? Dark elves? But he convinced about 70 percent of Republicans that Joe Biden was not in fact elected president.
This is extremely bad news. The U.S. electoral system is a kludge signed off on in 1787 by 39 delegates to the Constitutional Convention, who were driven largely by an understandable desperation to leave Philadelphia. It is a janky, Rube Goldberg-esque machine filled with metaphorical dynamite that generally has failed to explode, thanks to minimal good faith on all sides. But in 2022, many Republicans ran for positions that control the election machinery, promising that if they won they would set this dynamite off. The stage was set for a huge calamity in 2024.
The good news is that almost all these Republican candidates lost. There are still dangerous problems facing us in 2024. But now we have a little breathing room to think about the many ways the voting system actually is rigged — not in Trump’s imagination, but in reality — against the majority of Americans.
At the funeral for my wonderful uncle nine years ago, the priest explained that the first time he met every parishioner, he asked them what they most liked to do. My uncle, he said, responded that his favorite life activity was “thinking.”
Man, did I feel that. I hope someone will say that about me at my funeral. (I also hope everyone who speaks will be funny, although not funnier than me.)
The point here is that reality is so bizarre and multifarious that pondering it will keep you busy and happy for 100 years. For instance, when a woman is born, her ovaries contain every egg she will ever have. This means that half the genetic material you consist of was once inside your maternal grandmother’s body. Wow! Also, yikes. I truly miss my uncle and wish I could sit around thinking about reality with him.
Life in 2022 America suggests that Buddhists are onto something with the concept of the “hungry ghost.” Hungry ghosts are the remnants of dead humans who are afflicted with insatiable desires they cannot satisfy.
The Canadian writer John Ralston Saul has made the interesting argument that Christianity, Islam, capitalism, communism, and Nazism all “prosper through the cultivation of desire. … Of the great world myths, only Buddhism is centered on the reduction of desire in the individual.” Is this true? I don’t know, but if it is, Buddhism may be the only path forward for the survival of Homo sapiens sapiens. On the other hand, widespread Buddhism would cause the entire world economy to collapse, so it’s a mixed bag.
One of my favorite things about Twitter is its thriving community surrounding the 2007 movie “Michael Clayton”:
The world is imploding but at least Michael Clayton is a perfect movie— Karen Kilgariff (@KarenKilgariff) June 20, 2017
If you’ve seen “Michael Clayton,” you already know this. If you haven’t, please notify me so I can come over to your house to watch it with you, pausing it every 30 seconds to point out my favorite parts.
“Michael Clayton” was written and directed by Tony Gilroy. Now he’s taken his gargantuan talent and used it to make “Andor,” a Disney+ prequel to “Rogue One.” It’s difficult to understand how he was allowed to do this. An honest log line for it would have to read, “What if all of the classic ‘Star Wars’ movies turned out to be childish fantasies masking unbearable tragedy? Plus it cost hundreds of millions of dollars.”
I get angry just thinking about how no one cares about comptrollers. This is an important job that involves keeping track of how governments spend money, yet no one appreciates them except me. In fact, I have a secret fantasy life in which I serve as comptroller of the state of New York. I am willing to explain this to you in detail, right after we finish watching “Michael Clayton.”
Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, bok choy — incredibly enough, all of these cruciferous vegetables are cultivated descendants of a single plant, Brassica oleracea. And all of them contain two precursors that turn into sulforaphane when you eat the plants raw. Sulforaphane, if you’re a barbarian who doesn’t know, appears to be one of the healthiest things you can imbibe. It may have cancer-suppressing, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic properties.
The problem here is that cooking destroys one of the sulforaphane precursors. Hence if you eat delicious steamed broccoli, you are getting far less sulforaphane then if you try to eat raw broccoli, which obviously is awful and unfit for human consumption.
But radish powder contains the vulnerable precursor and is tasteless. All you need to do is sprinkle a little on your broccoli with garlic sauce, and it is just as good as eating the broccoli uncooked.
Not going to explain this one. Iykyk.
On the assumption most people have eaten too much turkey and fallen asleep before getting to this part of this article, I am going to admit here that I love Taylor Swift. I just think she displays consistent craft in her songwriting, all right? I see the judgy face you’re making, and I reject it. You drew stars around my scars, but now I’m bleeding!
This is a tough one, but let’s give it a shot.
Are there aspects of death for which we can feel gratitude? There’s Hamlet’s viewpoint, which is that existence is an unbearable nightmare and hence death is “a consummation devoutly to be wished.” It’s honestly amazing that this is taught in 11th grade English.
Many other writers have had this glum perspective. One of the most eloquent is the British poet Matthew Arnold, who famously wrote that this world contains “neither joy, nor love, nor light, / Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain; / And we are here as on a darkling plain.” The clear implication is that death is the only escape hatch.
Only slightly less grim was the vision of John Adams. When Adams and Thomas Jefferson were old men, they exchanged letters speculating on the purpose of grief. Adams wrote to Jefferson: “Whither, for instance, can you and I look without seeing the graves of those we have known? … this indeed may be one of the salutary effects of grief; inasmuch as it prepares us to lose ourselves also without repugnance.” America loves to jabber about the Founding Fathers, yet this quotation somehow only appears in four places online.
However, I don’t experience life like this, and I hope you don’t either. One of the most useful perspectives I’ve found on this subject appears in “Life and How to Survive It,” a book co-written by John Cleese and his former therapist. The therapist, Robin Skynner, explains that embracing death is the only way for us to actually live. “Those who fear death,” Skynner says, “fear to live fully; they are half-dead already by their own choice.” But if you accept the fact of death, you can experience what Skynner describes as the secret of the universe: “Everything is exactly like it is, only more so.”
This seems like a fruitful thing, with the right kind of family, to bring up at Thanksgiving. With the wrong kind of family, it could lead to a great deal of stress and possibly bloodshed. Either way, happy Thanksgiving, and if you have a second, please visit me on Elon Musk’s Twitter and let me know if there’s anything important you think I’ve left off this list.