Remember a few months ago when we said Combat! blog wasn’t going to be about politics anymore? That was before a cartoon character got elected president. Not the good kind of cartoon character, either—Donald Trump is like a character in one of those nineties cartoons where everyone is bored and sarcastic. He’s the guy who doesn’t move the plot forward but says what we’re all thinking, i.e. what a marketing team thinks children are thinking. In that vein, the President of the United States executed a “not” joke on Twitter yesterday:
Although he does not play the “not” joke strictly according to Hoyle, this tweet is a significant achievement. He manages to make “not!” into a Trumpian exclamation. But there’s a lot of other stuff going on, too, and that’s why this tweet is the subject of today’s Close Reading.
A cover from the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo
This morning, masked gunmen attacked the Paris headquarters of French humor publication Charlie Hebdo and killed 12 people, including the editor and four cartoonists who had depicted the prophet Muhammed. Although no one has yet claimed responsibility, the Times reports that “extremist groups applauded the violence, calling it revenge for the newspaper’s satirical treatment of Islam and its prophet.” At the risk of profiling, I’m going to say this was a radical Islam thing, because who else violently attacks funny newspapers? Western traditions have more respect for free speech. In unrelated news, the UK has arrested a series of people for praising jihad on Twitter and Facebook.
Not long ago, a symbol of American freedom fell under vicious attack from an enemy who knows neither compassion nor hope. It was a day that we will never forget, and it signaled a new frontier in the struggle of this great nation. Of course I am referring to yesterday’s GoDaddy outage, which took down 53 million websites including this one. After literally threes of you contacted me about it, I spent literally minutes trying to figure out what was going on. It turns out that a series of freedom-hating routers sent bad table information that clogged the GoDaddy servers with electrons or something. It was not some douche from Anonymous, although everybody went ahead and reported that anyway.
This picture of a sausage comes courtesy of a blog entry on Russian food. Note the "Made in USA" featured prominently on the label.
It’s Friday, and that means it’s time once again for us to rouse ourselves from our intellectual slumber—from the chattering distractions of what the Buddhists call the Ten Thousand Things—and stand outside ourselves to consider the products of the week that is about to have been. You just want to get through Friday as quickly as possible so that you can rush home and watch the Winter Olympics on DVR until the Winter Olympics on NBC comes on, don’t you? Perhaps somewhere, in the shrivel portion of your hypothalamus that used to feel, you dimly recognize the unsettling irony that this celebration of athletic endeavor and bold living should inspire millions of people to stay home and watch TV. Fortunately, you’re an American, and we’ve just won a gold medal in not giving a crap about irony—or any type of connection between concepts, for that matter. The United States has been a country for a long time now, and after two hundred some years we don’t really need to think about operating it anymore. We go with our gut, and if some pointy-headed nerd wants to complain about the details—”those two statements directly contradict each other,” or “you have not actually read the Constitution,” or “your child needs medicine to live”—we can tell in a glance whether he’s a Real American or not. To paraphrase my junior high school wrestling coach, there’s not much difference between a reason and an excuse; it follows therefore that the only people who need to resort to reason are those who need excuses. This is America, and we don’t make excuses here, as the news of the last week will indicate. Won’t you join me in the complete abdication of sense?