Best Of The Web
“Self-help—the enemy of the uncalm—is, unsurprisingly, an American phenomenon. It evinces a sensibility well suited to a country where the self has always been the most relevant unit. One of its earliest practitioners was none other than Benjamin Franklin, whose 1758 get-rich-quick manual, The Way to Wealth, frames labor as a cure for poverty and acumen as a cure for destitution. “Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labor wears, while the used key is always bright,” he writes. “When you have got the philosopher’s stone, sure you will no longer complain of bad times, or the difficulty of paying taxes.” Franklin’s advice was as false as it was appealing—who wouldn’t prefer to pay taxes in the inexhaustible currency of self-improvement?—and it reinforced a myth that blue-collar Americans would find difficult to relinquish or escape.
By the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Protestant working classes had developed a robust appetite for books with names like Pushing to the Front and The Way to Win, which counseled that a strong character was the key to a healthy fortune. These Gilded Age exercises in self-aggrandizement blazed a trail for the treatises on winning that began to emerge in the late sixties and early seventies, when self-help as we know it began to flourish in earnest. Born to Win (1971), Winners and Losers (1973), Winning through Intimidation (1974), and The Winner’s Notebook (1967) promised to distinguish the wealthy wheat from the indigent chaff—and thereby set the stage for Trump’s oeuvre, in which winners reign supreme. In Think Big and Kick Ass in Business and Life (2007), which rose briefly to the top of Amazon’s personal finance bestsellers in 2015 but which nonetheless proclaims itself the preserve of a vanishingly small elite, Trump’s ghostwriter reflects,
to be successful you have to separate yourself from 98 percent of the rest of the world. Sure, you can get into that special 2 percent at the top, and it is not just by being smart, working hard, and investing wisely. There is a formula, a recipe for success that the top 2 percent live by and you too can follow.
If the remaining 98 percent of people follow the formula, will they somehow come to comprise only 2 percent of the population? What are such patent mathematical impossibilities doing in a guide to business savvy, anyway?”
JJ Best Of The Web
"The close of World War I was supposed to end the world’s reliance on arms—and empire. But on the centenary, the Middle East offers proof that this hasn’t happened."
"Get ready for Hillary Clinton 4.0. More than 30 years in the making, this new version of Mrs. Clinton, when she runs for president in 2020, will come full circle—back to the universal-health-care-promoting progressive firebrand of 1994."
"The plan is based around a simple idea: Establish an Israeli desalination plant, built on Israeli land, funded by Saudi Arabia, the Europeans and others, that provides clean water to Gaza."
"Hasan Minhaj has achieved something few, if any, many have expected: “The Daily Show” alumnus has evolved the current events talk variety format beyond the structure set in place by “The Daily Show” as it was realized by Jon Stewart."
"Divided government means Trump will be in confrontational reelection mode while House Democrats and Senate Republicans fight and the deficit soars."
"Accepting the protesters' demand that Google eliminate mandatory arbitration in harassment and discrimination cases would force others to follow."
"The unconscious can perform astonishing feats of memory, but it can also play a remarkable role in creativity: sudden insights, solutions and life-enhancing ideas sometimes surface unbidden when the mind is adrift in unconscious reverie."
"For children of all ages, books about such charged topics are, in the words of one publishing executive, coming to be seen as more “retail-friendly.”"
"Whatever you do for your children, no matter how hard you push or how much you spend or how many advantages you give them, it won’t make a difference."
"Nutrition research is deeply biased by food companies.... The food industry has borrowed from the tobacco industry when it comes to distorting science."
"“I’m taking my exams and then I remember I’m not wearing pants.” These nightmares come years after I’ve left school, but they pop up when I’m worried about something else, like a looming deadline. "
"A myth linking Armistice and Kristallnacht - one that began with falsifying the war record of the 100,000 German Jews who fought for the Fatherland during World War I – still exists today."