Remember when you had to show your aunt Snopes.com because she kept emailing you forwards with animated angel GIFs about how drinking Coke can kill you? Someone needs to do that for Rick Perry. In New Hampshire Friday, Perry noted an email forwarded by his son that quoted a 38-year-old Occupy Toronto protester named Jeremy who whined that bankers work so hard he can't wake up early enough to protest them. Perry paraphrased Jeremy's complaints: "We got here at 9 o'clock, and those people ... those bankers that we came to insult, they'd already been at work for two hours when we got here at 9 o'clock, and when we get ready to leave, you know, they’re still in there working. I guess greed just makes you work hard." Perry and everyone else laughed. But Jeremy isn't real; he was made up by the Toronto Globe and Mail's Mark Schatzker, whose column was clearly labeled "satire."
Conservatives have been mistaking fake Jeremy for a real protester for a week. He just too perfectly fits their idea of an Occupy Wall Street protester not to be real. The power of Jeremy is most evident at The American Spectator, where Shawn Macomber quoted it sincerely under the headline "Deep Thoughts from Occupy Wall Street Toronto" on October 24 before updating that it was satire. But the fake quote was so good, The Spectator's J.P. Freire quoted it as real three days later: "Self Parody Alert: Occupy Toronto Doesn't Get It." But alas, it is J.P. Freire who doesn't get it. He quickly updated, "Is this a parody? Maybe?" Not maybe. Actually.
Fake Jeremy even made it into the mainstream media -- Forbes' Bruce Upbin noted this "Actual Quote from Protester Occupying Bay Street of Toronto’s Stock Exchange" on October 28 before realizing his mistake. But it's conservative bloggers who love him the most. Jeremy makes so many people feel good about themselves.
On October 24, Say Anything's Bob Port quoted the shiftless fake Jeremy, and cautioned, "One narrative that has emerged from the 'Occupy Wall Street' protests is one, promoted by the protesters themselves, which has the movement being the target of those who want to silence them. ... Nothing undermines their own positions and philosophies so thoroughly as what they actually do and say." Perhaps Port can think of another narrative. Power Line's John Hinderaker pointed to "the remarkably good Say Anything" and quotes the clueless fake Jeremy, saying:
It probably is news to the occupiers that getting into the 1 percent actually requires work. So, who is greedy–the guy who works hard and wants to keep most of what he earns, or the guy who wants someone else’s money, but isn’t willing to pay the price to earn it?
UPDATE: Upon further review, prompted by my wife, I think the quotes attributed to occupiers at the linked site are jokes. Pretty funny ones, too. The point, I think, remains valid.
It is a remarkably strong point that remains valid when 100 percent of the facts used to support it are revealed to be jokes. On October 25, the Cynical Economist scoffed, "Jeremy will never understand why he is going to be poor all his life." Poor imaginary Jeremy is probably already on imaginary food stamps in his imaginary public housing. Godfathers Politics singled out lazy fake Jeremy, saying, "That’s Why They’re the One Percent." The blog explained the facts of life:
When I graduated from college, I started out stocking shelves in a grocery store. I worked 70 hours a week. The manager offered me the assistant manager’s job at a new store they were opening. At the time, I had a bicycle for transportation and was living in a one-room apartment. I declined the offer, because I knew I needed to go to graduate school. I worked my way through graduate school. When I graduated, I took a teaching job that paid me $10,000 per year with no health insurance or retirement program.
Of course, one wonders why the Godfather took that teaching job instead of working long hours on Wall Street. Surely bankers get health insurance. Guess that's why Godfather isn't in the 1 percent.
It's worth noting that the person who brought fake Jeremy to Perry's attention was his son, Griffin, who "is not a Wall Streeter but works in the financial side of things." Guess the folks in the financial side of things need to comfort themselves with the fact that they're so much more hardworking than the slovenly protesters. Even if they have to do it with fake facts.
Senator John McCain and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly offered starkly different visions of service—and of America.
It was a week of powerful speeches. The least memorable, oddly, was delivered by the most naturally gifted speaker, former President Barack Obama at a campaign rally in Virginia. “Our democracy is at stake,” he said, before harking back to the trope of his 2008 campaign: “Yes, we can.” Compelling in the setting, but not special.
Far more powerful was former President George W. Bush’s indictment of Donald Trump that didn’t mention the 45th president by name. It was a cry for freedom as a theme in American policy, a denunciation of “casual cruelty” in American discourse, of “nationalism distorted into nativism,” of isolationism, of attempts to turn American identity away from American ideals and into something darker, driven by “geography or ethnicity, by soil or blood.” In itself it would have been noteworthy.
Four families of fallen servicemembers received next-day UPS letters from President Trump after a turbulent week in which Trump falsely claimed he had called “virtually all” of the families.
Updated on October 22, 2017.
The Trump administration is scrambling to defend the president’s characterization of his communications with grieving military families, including rush-delivering letters from the president to the families of servicemembers killed months ago. Donald Trump falsely claimed this week that he had called “virtually” all fallen servicemembers’ families since his time in office.
Timothy Eckels Sr. hadn’t heard anything from President Trump since his son Timothy Eckels Jr. was killed after a collision involving the USS John S. McCain on August 21. But then, on October 20, two days into the controversy over the president’s handling of a condolence call with an American soldier’s widow, Eckels Sr. received a United Parcel Service package dated October 18 with a letter from the White House.
Emma Perrier was deceived by an older man on the internet—a hoax that turned into an unbelievable love story.
Emma Perrier spent the summer of 2015 mending a broken heart, after a recent breakup. By September, the restaurant manager had grown tired of watching The Notebook alone in her apartment in Twickenham, a leafy suburb southwest of London, and decided it was time to get back out there. Despite the horror stories she’d heard about online dating, Emma, 33, downloaded a matchmaking app called Zoosk. The second “o” in the Zoosk logo looks like a diamond engagement ring, which suggested that its 38 million members were seeking more than the one-night stands offered by apps like Tinder.
She snapped the three selfies the app required to “verify her identity.” Emma, who is from a volcanic city near the French Alps, not far from the source of Perrier mineral water, is petite, and brunette. She found it difficult to meet men, especially as she avoided pubs and nightclubs, and worked such long hours at a coffee shop in the city’s financial district that she met only stockbrokers, who were mostly looking for cappuccinos, not love.
A stunning new speculative-fiction book by Naomi Alderman couldn’t be more timely.
One of the most succinct definitions of sexual harassment I’ve read over the past few weeks goes like this: For men, it’s anything they might say to a woman that would make them uncomfortable if it were said to them, but in prison. It’s glib, sure. But it gets at the fundamental imbalance of power that characterizes relationships between men and women. To understand what it’s like for a woman to be catcalled, or harassed, or propositioned, it isn’t enough for men to simply put themselves in that woman’s place. They also have to imagine what it’s like to sense the imminent danger in those interactions—to be weaker than their aggressor in every way, and to have that weakness woven into the fabric of society itself. As the adage often attributed to Margaret Atwood goes, “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”
More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.
One day last summer, around noon, I called Athena, a 13-year-old who lives in Houston, Texas. She answered her phone—she’s had an iPhone since she was 11—sounding as if she’d just woken up. We chatted about her favorite songs and TV shows, and I asked her what she likes to do with her friends. “We go to the mall,” she said. “Do your parents drop you off?,” I asked, recalling my own middle-school days, in the 1980s, when I’d enjoy a few parent-free hours shopping with my friends. “No—I go with my family,” she replied. “We’ll go with my mom and brothers and walk a little behind them. I just have to tell my mom where we’re going. I have to check in every hour or every 30 minutes.”
Those mall trips are infrequent—about once a month. More often, Athena and her friends spend time together on their phones, unchaperoned. Unlike the teens of my generation, who might have spent an evening tying up the family landline with gossip, they talk on Snapchat, the smartphone app that allows users to send pictures and videos that quickly disappear. They make sure to keep up their Snapstreaks, which show how many days in a row they have Snapchatted with each other. Sometimes they save screenshots of particularly ridiculous pictures of friends. “It’s good blackmail,” Athena said. (Because she’s a minor, I’m not using her real name.) She told me she’d spent most of the summer hanging out alone in her room with her phone. That’s just the way her generation is, she said. “We didn’t have a choice to know any life without iPads or iPhones. I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.”
A neuroscientist on how we came to be aware of ourselves.
Ever since Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859, evolution has been the grand unifying theory of biology. Yet one of our most important biological traits, consciousness, is rarely studied in the context of evolution. Theories of consciousness come from religion, from philosophy, from cognitive science, but not so much from evolutionary biology. Maybe that’s why so few theories have been able to tackle basic questions such as: What is the adaptive value of consciousness? When did it evolve and what animals have it?
The Attention Schema Theory (AST), developed over the past five years, may be able to answer those questions. The theory suggests that consciousness arises as a solution to one of the most fundamental problems facing any nervous system: Too much information constantly flows in to be fully processed. The brain evolved increasingly sophisticated mechanisms for deeply processing a few select signals at the expense of others, and in the AST, consciousness is the ultimate result of that evolutionary sequence. If the theory is right—and that has yet to be determined—then consciousness evolved gradually over the past half billion years and is present in a range of vertebrate species.
Monday afternoon, President Trump delivered a press conference from an alternative reality, or perhaps a slightly-less-dark timeline. His relationship with Mitch McConnell is great! They have the votes for Obamacare repeal! The hurricane relief effort in Puerto Rico is a smashing success! Democrats are to blame for GOP divisions on Capitol Hill! These claims range from the highly dubious to the patently false.
The foundation of Donald Trump’s presidency is the negation of Barack Obama’s legacy.
It is insufficient to statethe obvious of Donald Trump: that he is a white man who would not be president were it not for this fact. With one immediate exception, Trump’s predecessors made their way to high office through the passive power of whiteness—that bloody heirloom which cannot ensure mastery of all events but can conjure a tailwind for most of them. Land theft and human plunder cleared the grounds for Trump’s forefathers and barred others from it. Once upon the field, these men became soldiers, statesmen, and scholars; held court in Paris; presided at Princeton; advanced into the Wilderness and then into the White House. Their individual triumphs made this exclusive party seem above America’s founding sins, and it was forgotten that the former was in fact bound to the latter, that all their victories had transpired on cleared grounds. No such elegant detachment can be attributed to Donald Trump—a president who, more than any other, has made the awful inheritance explicit.
Honoring the sacrifice of servicemembers requires understanding why they were put at risk, and demanding that those who did so hold themselves to account.
On Thursday morning, I planned to write a pointed screed decrying President Trump’s propensity to view the military community as a problem he can buy off with a check. Then, on Thursday afternoon, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, himself a Gold Star father, decried the noxious politicization of the deaths of servicemembers and how we treat their families in the aftermath. His remarks gave me pause, as they were meant to.
“Let’s not let this maybe last thing that’s held sacred in our society, a young man, young woman, going out and giving his or her life for our country, let’s … keep that sacred” he implored, lamenting the ugly and voyeuristic events of the past week.
Who better to set the protocol and define the limits of this sacred space than a father who lost his son in Afghanistan? Unless you’ve walked in his shoes, don’t ask questions.
A new bookfollows Joseph Lister as he ushers surgery into the modern age.
Joseph Lister came of age as surgery was being transformed. With the invention of anesthesia, operations could move beyond two-minute leg amputations that occasionally lopped off a testicle in haste. (True story.) But as surgeons poked and prodded deeper into the body, surgery only became more deadly.
It was the infections that killed people.
And it was Lister who first realized that germ theory has profound implications for medicine. In a new biography of Lister, Lindsey Fitzharris argues that the invention of antisepsis marks the true beginning of modern surgery. The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine takes its title from Lister’s own notes, where he writes of his love for “this bloody and butcherly department of the healing art.”