Friday links! Supernatural explanations edition

We think of history as a pretty much continuous forward march of human knowledge, but it’s not as if there are a fixed number of things we are ignorant about. We know more than our medieval counterparts, sure—but can we really say that what we don’t know is any less? There’s our expanding territory of knowledge, and beyond that there is conjecture, limitless the way the space outside a picture frame is limitless. Today is Friday, and ours is a baffling universe. Won’t you comfort yourself through supernatural explanations with me?

The phenomenon that most needs explaining, of course, is why Mitt Romney didn’t win the presidential election. It can’t because he resembled an exhibit in a museum about humans. It cannot have been that video where he promises to ignore 47% of the country. I bet it was because of black people, whom Paul Ryan politely refers to as “urban.” Quote:

“I think the surprise was some of the turnout, especially in urban areas, which gave President Obama the big margin to win this race. I don’t think we lost it on those budget issues, especially on Medicare—we clearly didn’t lose it on those issues.”

Clearly not. In completely unrelated news, 6 in 10 voters say they think taxes should be increased, and 64% want to address shortfalls in Medicare and Social Security by raising taxes on the rich; only 17% think we should cut entitlements.

So the situation is clear: our cities are overrun with race-biased Obama supporters, and our polls are haunted. Just like this toaster:


Satan lives, you guys. He controls your toast. He also controls Mitt Romney—not through his evil powers but mostly by default, since Mitt Romney sure doesn’t. The Republican nominee continued to thank his party for setting him up for the biggest disappointment of his life by insisting that he lost because the Democrats offered people more free stuff. He described “free health care” via Obamacare as “huge” for people making around $30,000 a year. “Likewise with Hispanic voters,” he added, “free health care was a big plus.” And using federal assistance to fund local fire departments—that was huge with people whose houses burned down. Basically, the whole Democratic strategy was to help special interest groups, whereas the GOP remained true to its policy of only serving those who need no help whatsoever.

Meanwhile, Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic—whose name is already evil—harnessed the power of the Toast Master to kick the most amazing goal I have ever seen. Granted, I have not seen many goals, because soccer is boring. If it were all spectacular scoring like that, though, it would be—well, it would be basketball. I submit that the difference between Europe and America is the difference between soccer and basketball. You’ve got your long struggle for position organized around gradual progress marked by setbacks so regular that they make the achievement of a goal seem world-altering, and then you’ve got 200 points per game. Also urbans.

That’s the kind of pop culture/geopolitical history comparison I learned to make by reading PJ O’Rourke as a child. Long after science has determined exactly what leptons are made of, we will still wonder what happened to PJ O’Rourke. Here he is in the Times’s “By the Book” feature, being clever and awful by turns. He used to be clever all the time, but then he got into church. How’s that for a supernatural explanation? Answer: it is prejudiced and unfair, but I miss the old O’Rourke, the one who wrote “Ferrari Refutes Decline of the West” and “How to Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and Not Spill Your Drink.”

Now no one does sophisticated debauchery anymore. They’re all just talking about their families:






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