The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival - Day 2

When Criticizing Islam isn’t “Punching Up”

When I was at LSE, there was an anti-Islamophobia measure up for a vote in the Student Union. The measure had come about because some shitty things had been shouted at Muslim students on campus, a few racist things had been posted in online forums, and, in the LSE Atheist, Secularist and Humanist (ASH) Society private Facebook group, someone had posted a copy of the comic “Jesus and Mo.”

“Jesus and Mo,” if you haven’t read it, is a pretty mediocre atheist comic that is broadly anti-religious. The two main characters are Jesus an Mohammed, so obviously, it’s controversial because it depicts the prophet. I’ve never found it to be racist or explicitly anti-Muslim, I’ve just found it to be a pretty boring representation of the typical atheist arguments against religion.

But the new anti-Islamophobia measure would have made it illegal to post the cartoon online, and that’s what the ASH Society wanted to push back against. I’m an atheist and a writer, so I agreed that they should be allowed to post the comic, and I decided to help out with the messaging. The campaign culminated in a rally outside of the Houses of Parliament that was headlined by no other than famed atheist Richard Dawkins. After the rally, we all stuck around to talk to him. After five minutes, my stomach had totally left the fight.

Dawkins, it seemed to me, was an old school British colonialist and racist. He actually referred to Muslims as “backwards people” while talking to us. I have no doubt that he’s a genuine atheist, and I still think his arguments against religion are solid, but I no longer believed that his motivation against religion was coming from a place of pure rationalism.

As an aspiring satirist, I was horrified by the Charlie Hebdo attacks. I am unfamiliar with their work, but even if they were far-right – which they aren’t – I would be horrified. Satire and humor should be totally untouched by violence. They can and should be criticized, but the proper response to language is never violence. So I don’t mind jumping on board the “fuck those murderous assholes” train, and I get super irritated by the victim-blaming that came from much of the left after the attacks: “Well, if you publish purposefully provocative cartoons, what did you expect?” No: fuck that. No matter how offensive the illustration, there is no justification for murder.

With all of that said, there is an oft-unfollowed rule in comedy and satire that asks that comedians “punch up.” The idea is that if you’re going to make jokes about a controversial issue, the right thing to do is to attack the party with the most power in the issue. Always side with the victims and the oppressed. So if you’re going to make a rape joke, target the rapist, don’t target the victim. If you’re going to make a joke about race, target the racist, not the oppressed minority. It’s basically a rule that’s designed to make comedy less about supporting systems of oppression and more about defending the underdog.

The problem with cartoons of the prophet Mohammed is that the creator usually feels they are targeting people like the murderous, misogynistic assholes in ISIS, Boko Haram, or the Taliban. They are “punching up” at the violent thugs who shoot little girls who want to go to school, or at the assholes who massacre defenseless villagers.

But in reality, these cartoonists live in Western societies where Muslims are often the discriminated-against minority. Muslims in France have to deal with a rising extreme right wing, led by the racist fuckwit Marine Le Pen, and Muslims in the United States have to deal with police surveillance, right wing hysteria over the placement of their cultural centers, and violent attacks by racists. Since the Muslims who actually live in these countries are the ones who actually have to deal with anti-Islamic sentiment, they are the actual – if not the intended – targets of anti-Islamic satire.

None of this is to say that ISIS, Boko Haram, and the Taliban don’t deserve mounds of ridicule. But the ridicule should target the groups themselves, not the religion that the groups nominally belong to. Attacking Islam for something a small extremist Islamic sect is doing is like nuking a city to kill a single person. It’s lazy humor, and it’s targeting the victim more than it’s targeting the oppressor.

And this type of satire or language can be coopted by the racist or colonialist forces that the left supposedly wants to fight against. Look at Christopher Hitchens: the famous atheist spent his life speaking out against dictatorships and religious fundamentalism, and later in his life, he became one of the left’s biggest supporters of the Iraq War. His moral justification was that the West should be active in bringing about the downfall of dictatorial regimes and fundamentalism in the Middle East. It was a justification that was cynically used as a moral cover by an administration that had much different reasons for invading Iraq.

If we were really interested in fighting fundamentalism, we would start at home – targeting our own racists, misogynists, murderers, and sectarians – and then we’d enable our allies within other countries to do the same. It’s pretty much impossible to “punch up” when you’re not even in the system or culture, so we should leave that job to Muslim comedians, satirists, and journalists instead of stepping on their toes by ham-fistedly trying to do the job ourselves.

Here’s a place to start: Raif Badawi is a Saudi blogger who is being imprisoned and flogged a thousand times because of a website he set up. Write a letter to the King of Saudi Arabia and tweet your support for Raif here.


Satire is Insanely Important

I write for a living. And with that as my job, it’s easy to get lost in the drudgery of the day-to-day: editing, working through writer’s block, coming up with new ideas, trying to convince myself to turn off Netflix, etc. It’s not often that I think to myself, “This shit matters.”

With the attack on the leftist and anti-religion satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris and the recent hacks on Sony over the release of The Interview, though, it’s hard for me to think otherwise: Satire — and writing in general — is insanely important. Language is the only true magic in the world, the only tool we have with which we can truly change another person’s mind, or to get masses to act as one, or to destroy and humiliate bloated demagogues or systems of power and oppression.

Alan Moore, the famed comics writer, believes that our concept of magic came about as soon as we discovered language. “Magic has quite a lot in common with fiction and with fantasy,” Moore says. “We almost get into the notion that the two are pretty well interchangeable.”

“The idea of a grimoire — a book of spells. Grimoire is simply another way of spelling ‘grammar.’ According to [famed occultist Aleister] Crowley, to cast a spell is simply to spell.”

In the movie A Knight’s Tale, (yes, I’m quoting A Knight’s Tale), Geoffrey Chaucer, the famed English writer, says to a couple of thugs who cheated him out of his gambling money, “I will eviscerate you in fiction. Every pimple, every character flaw. I was naked for a day; you will be naked for eternity.”

Satire, then, is the only true curse. Never mind the quality of the satire: I haven’t seen The Interview yet, but my guess is that it’s not great. What matters is that Kim Jong Un was made to look ridiculous, like his father was in Team America: World Police. Satire sticks. It stays with us for eternity. Their legacy is eternally tarnished by a pair of silly films that they weren’t able to quash.

The same can be said of the attack on Charlie Hebdo: the type of people who would attack a satirical magazine are the type of people who realize what a threat humor and satire is to their fundamentalist vision of life. Never mind that there’s a simple counterspell to the satirical curse: all you have to do is laugh at yourself, and the curse harmlessly flits away. No one remembers a simple self-deprecatory joke, especially if it’s taken in a good-natured manner.

Our written words always outlive us. But by killing the satirists and cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo, the terrorists have guaranteed that they will eternally be villains. They are tarnished forever. And in that sense, the murdered satirists have won.


The Biggest Impediment to Your Physical Fitness is Bottomless Despair

Did you know there are toxins inside you? You get them when you eat stuff that contains toxins and then they’re inside you, and you can only get rid of the toxins through yoga or pooping. Yoga and pooping are the two main elements in a “detox” diet (there’s an occasional third element called “kale,” which is a type of grass that tastes like a Communion wafer rubbed with lawn mower clippings) and if you do a detox diet, not only will you lose weight, but you’ll no longer have toxins inside you. That’s what science said until two days ago, when the Guardian pointed out that “detox” diets are a myth. It’s upsetting for those of us who have been wasting time on yoga and pooping for years now.

The Detox diets – also called “cleanses” by people who don’t associate that word with Serbia circa 1994 – are the latest “fad diet” to become a thing. And now, like the Atkins Diet, the Caveman Diet, the Milksteak Diet, and the Traumatic Blood Loss Diet before it, Detox Diets are becoming a thing of the past.

I’ve always had trouble with fad diets. I haven’t trusted any sort of fad since the Pog bubble burst back in ’94 and my $900-value portfolio of slammers depreciated to a net worth of about 46¢ in the course of a single recess. The bubble burst because Mrs. Metzger said that Pogs were a type of gambling, and because gambling was un-Christian. I don’t know if Mrs. Metzger’s still alive, but seaweed enemas strike me as un-Christian, and I wouldn’t put it past her to ban them and pop the detox bubble as well.

This, of course, has meant that I’ve never totally learned how to gain or lose weight. The process is baffling to me. I’ve heard “eat less and exercise,” but both of those things sound terrible. I’d do those terrible things if I was guaranteed a long and happy life in exchange, but as far as I can make out, certain death lurks around every corner. Global warming is going to flood my lovely Jersey Shore town, and I’m going to drown because of tsunamis and acidified seas. Or maybe New York gets hit with a nerve gas attack just as a Nor’easter is hitting, and the nerve gas blows down to Asbury Park and kills me.

Maybe I’ll be killed by a drunk driver or a sudden brain aneurysm. Maybe after the economic collapse of 2018 I’ll be cooked rotisserie-style by bands of roving cannibals. Maybe my slowly-dying Christmas tree will catch on fire and I’ll die of smoke inhalation. Maybe a comet will be about to hit earth and Ben Affleck will be too busy on the next Batman movie to save us. Maybe Cthulhu awakes from his eternal slumber and sends the world spiraling into a new age of madness and despair.

All of this is totally within the realm of possibility. And it makes it really hard for me to justify working out. On top of this, what if there really is no such thing as God? What if right and wrong don’t exist on an individual level? If that’s the case, isn’t the only true “right” whatever makes me happy? And how do I balance the happiness of eating a pizza and watching old episodes of Always Sunny now with the hypothetical happiness I’ll feel if I survive to the age of 96?

The only thing I’m trying to say is that it’s really hard to pick a proper health regimen when a) there’s so much conflicting information out there, and b) I’m paralyzed by my own insignificance. Now if you’ll excuse me, now that I know toxins aren’t real, I’m going to go have a glass of scotch.

Photo by Pete Kraynak


All Your Favorite Holiday Specials are Anti-Capitalist

1) A Christmas Carol

Scrooge is a capitalist. He is the type of person who would be called a “job creator” today. He makes a ton of money and he hoards it. He’s basically a caricature of an Ayn Rand character (because Ayn Rand’s characters totally aren’t caricatures already), written 62 years before she was even born. He’s so rapaciously capitalist that it was probably inevitable that Disney turned him into a hero.


After Scrooge has been haunted by the ghosts of Christmas Present, Past, and Future, what does he suddenly become concerned in? Higher workers wages. Healthcare for the families of his employees. Giving out free meals to the poor. In essence, Socialism. God would bless us, every one, if God wasn’t a creation of the bourgeoisie to keep the proletariat in check, Tiny Tim.

2) A Charlie Brown Christmas

This anarcho-Christian fable shows children acting like rapacious capitalists. Sally wants “tens and twenties” for Christmas. Lucy wants “real estate.” As Charlie Brown and Linus leave the school play to shop for Christmas trees, everyone demands fake, gaudy aluminum trees. This line even gets busted out:
tumblr_mxpq6xsKbV1r9a32bo4_250Linus, the story’s left-wing hero, explains that “Christmas has not only gotten too commercial, it’s gotten too dangerous.” He then gives a speech about the true meaning of Christmas. This shouldn’t be called A Charlie Brown Christmas. It should be called The Kingdom of God is Within You, Charlie Brown!

3) It’s a Wonderful Life


I mean, the main villain is a capitalist banker who is trying to destroy the protagonist’s dream of building a housing project. Next.

4) How the Grinch Stole Christmas


The point is that Christmas isn’t about presents, and that ultimately, human company is more important than material things.

5) Home AloneHome Alone 2

tumblr_ngr4rmw9iN1sjfljfo1_500Far be it from me to suggest that these movies are one and the same in terms of structure or plot, but they both carry the same message: adults – i.e. “the man” or “the system” – are incompetent, dumb, or criminal, and children – i.e. anarchy and chaos – will inevitably win the day.

6) A Christmas Story

tumblr_ngqoc0sOyF1tmzlb4o1_500One of the most chilling anti-capitalist fables is A Christmas Story, a cautionary tale in which a middle class family’s constant grasping for material things – leg lamps, Zeppelins, Red Rider BB Guns – is disrupted by their lower class neighbors starving dogs. The allegories in this movie just keep coming: Santa – the capitalist symbol of Christmas – is portrayed as demonic and uncaring. The Father futilely grasps at a higher standing in life, not recognizing that his status symbol, the leg lamp, is gaudy and obnoxious, and was doomed from the beginning. Ralphie is conned into believing that his mindless radio entertainment was ever anything more than just a cynical attempt to sell him Ovaltine. A grim reminder if there ever was one that underneath the shiny facade of capitalist society lies a dangerous, violent world of bullying, greed, and shattered dreams.

7) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

A more lighthearted communist tale, Rudolph admits that sure, materialism is nice, but it deftly points out that those outside or beneath the capitalist system are callously cast aside to the so-called “Island of Misfit Toys.” Those misfits (shall we call them a “vanguard”?) then save the day when a climate related disaster of excessive fog causes the fragile, materialistic holiday to collapse. Is it a coincidence that Rudolph’s nose is red? You be the judge.


An Update to my Lovely, Loyal Readers

I’m sorry. I know I’ve done this too much. I’ve changed the name of my blog again. I’ve changed the direction of my blog again. This is horrible branding, and it makes me a gigantic pain in the ass. I know. I’m sorry. But welcome to my new (hopefully permanent!) blog.

I ended A Man Without A Country a few months ago because I needed to change the direction of my blog and work on my branding a bit. Then I tried to do three blogs at once on very specific topics, and it turned out I was far too lazy to pull that off. And I don’t like to be pigeonholed. It’s why I took up writing in the first place. I can write whatever I feel like writing. The three blogs didn’t work.

So this new blog is not A Man Without A Country, it’s not Don’t Be A Dick, it’s not All Cool Shit, and it’s not the bland It’s called Catching Wise, and it’s a satirical blog. But I’ll be writing on whatever I damn well feel like, because that’s what satirists get to do. We get to poke at everything and hope our lack of focus means nothing pokes back. Jackasses of all trades, masters of none.

The title, by the way, is taken from the Jamaican proverb “Play fool to catch wise,” which I figured is fitting, considering how much I play the fool in the pursuit of what I think may be wisdom. It’s going to be fun, possibly.

Thanks for sticking with me, guys. It’s great having such a smart, patient, fun audience. Feedback is always appreciated.


No, We’re Not Having this Conversation Anymore

A couple days ago, while dicking around on Facebook, a friend posted something about gay rights in her feed. It was fairly standard and generic, so I did the obligatory “like” and was about to move on when I saw that someone had posted a long Biblical opposition to gay rights in the comments. I briefly considered posting a response, or at the very least this Jed Bartlet video:

And then I realized something: we don’t have to dignify this conversation any more. Or at least, those of us who don’t live in the states where gay marriage still isn’t legal don’t have to dignify this conversation anymore. Those of us who don’t belong to churches that say homosexuality is a sin don’t have to have this conversation anymore. It’s like slavery for us: we no longer have to degrade ourselves by pretending we’re hearing valid points from the other side anymore. The battle is won.

There are much more interesting conversations to be had about gender and sexuality now, anyway. Moving on.


Do They Know It’s Not Christmastime At All?

Band Aid has released another version of the Kony 2012 of Christmas Carols, “Do They Know It’s Christmastime?”

Is it a little condescending and ethnocentric to suggest that the lack of snow and/or Christmas in Africa is somehow a sign of poverty? Sure. (Though actually, it’s East Africa in this rendition, and among the worst side-effects of Ebola are the inability to hear sleigh bells and a deep apathy about the concept of Santa Claus, so fair enough, Bob Geldof). But the tune is catchy, so I’ll be singing “Feed the world!” for the next month and a half, which is at least mildly annoying because, for the first two weeks of the song’s release, it won’t be Christmastime at all.

Presumably, Band Aid released the latest version of the song because they wanted to get ahead of the Christmas song rush. Christmas songs, unlike other pop songs, aren’t released on regular radio. There’s no Swiftian, ad nauseum repetition of Christmas tunes on basic radio (and yes, I just used the word “Swiftian” to refer to Taylor and not Jonathan, so feel free to take that as a sign of the apocalypse), so people who want to get their shitty Christmas Carols on the top of the charts must get them played in retail stores.

Retail stores which are, because of Black Friday hype, starting to play Christmas tunes the day after Halloween.

If Vegas put odds on things like this, they’d give Black Friday the best odds for being the day of the year that Western Civilization will start to collapse. It’s certainly the day in which we, as a society, make the most blood sacrifices: Someone is almost certainly going to die at a Walmart this year. Let that sink in for a minute. Someone is going to die from stab wounds next to an XBox display in the saddest place on the planet, and their death is going to be witnessed only by underpayed, pensionless, geriatric Walmart employees who had to miss what was probably one of their final Thanksgivings with their families so they could be at the Walmart’s opening at 6 p.m. on Thursday to start their 14-hour shift.

It’s been made into a holiday, but we’ve never even tried to pretend it’s anything but evil. In Christendom, the day that Jesus Christ, our God, was murdered is called Good Friday. Black Friday, then, must be considerably worse than deicide. After all, only three people died on the cross the day Our Lord and Savior died – last year, 7 people were killed on Black Friday, and 90 were injured.

So yeah, this Black Friday might be a rough day for those kids living in Ebola-stricken East Africa, but hey, at least they don’t know it’s Christmastime at all.


This Week in Butt News: Butts! In! Space!

This week, Kim Kardashian posted a picture of her butt on the internet, saying that it would “break the internet.” This has naturally caused a bit of internet uproar – yes, there is already an article on the racial politics of Kim Kardashian’s butt – because sometimes, when there’s nothing else to talk about, we need a good butt uproar. A “buttroar,” if you will.

As far as I know, nothing on the internet was “broken,” as the internet already has quite a few pictures of butts already, many of which are the same butt as Kim Kardashian’s butt. But I’m glad the 21st Century’s best philosopher is keeping it relevant in 2014.

As is internet protocol, part of the uproar (buttroar) about the Kim Kardashian picture is whether or not we should be talking about Kim Kardashian’s butt picture. But these people miss the point. Because yesterday, we – and by “we” I mean “humanity” – landed a spacecraft on a comet. On a motherfucking comet. We didn’t even need to redirect its course away from the earth, we were just like, “Hey look, bro, there’s a comet, let’s go chill on it,” and then it was all like “Comet me, Bro!”  and then we did.

Irrelevant to the butt news, you say? Not at all.

Alan Moore, the great comic book writer, wrote a great book called From Hell, which focused on the Jack the Ripper murders. What he was interested in was less who Jack the Ripper was, and more in how everything that made up Victorian society could have produced a murderer like Jack. How did the art, the politics, the architecture, even the layout of the city of London contribute to the Ripper murders?

His answer, basically, was that all of it played a role. And to an extent, this is true of everything. Without putting any more weight on one thing over the other, the society that has produced the ability for us to land a spacecraft on a motherfucking comet is the same society that has made Kim Kardashian’s butt a piece of relevant news. Who knows, if we removed one element, if we would still have the other? Could space travel still be a thing without Kim Kardashian’s butt? Could the forces that brought us her butt have been inextricably linked with the forces that have allowed us to travel into the stars? At the very least, we must say that no spacecraft ever landed on a comet before this picture of Kim Kardashian’s butt.

The answer is almost certainly yes. So behold, at the other end of this link, the very NSFW butt that has allowed us to escape bonds of gravity and make our way, with no help from Bruce Willis, onto the natural phenomena that our ancestors once believed to be omens of great upheaval and change. What wonders, what upheaval, what change, will Kim Kardashian’s butt bring us tomorrow?

Photo courtesy of Chris Wall


Assisted Suicide is Wrong, Unless You’re Assisted by an Anaconda

In December, the Discovery Channel, as it so rarely does, will be living up to its name. It is going to discover something. It is going to discover what the inside of an anaconda looks like. Sure, it’s not a true discovery so much as a Christopher Columbus discovery: millions have been there before the Discovery Channel, like wild pigs, capybaras, turtles, and Jon Voight.jon-voight-anaconda-1997-

But the Discovery Channel will be the first to film it. Paul Rosolie, a 26-year-old “naturalist” and filmmaker, has agreed to be filmed being eaten alive by an anaconda during Discovery’s “MegaWeek” program “Eaten Alive.”

Rosolie says he will be safe because he will be wearing a “custom-built, snake-proof suit” – snake-proof in the sense that he’s still going to be eaten by a snake, but in that the snake won’t enjoy it – and because he will have an “emergency line” attached to his ankles, which hopefully means the show will end with one group of people pulling on Rosolie’s legs, and another pulling on the snake’s tail.

The "Snake-Proof" Suit

The “Snake-Proof” Suit

Rosolie presumably lived, as the show has been shot already and he’s still tweeting about it – though, come to think of it, it’s totally possible he’s tweeting from the inside of the snake in his snake-proof suit while doing prep work for the follow up, “Pooped Alive,” – but he could very easily have died doing this stunt, and people would likely have responded with a very well-justified, “Well what the fuck did you think was gonna happen?” and then write him off as just another candidate for the Darwin Awards.

Which, dear reader, brings me finally to the point: Remember Brittany Maynard? The girl who had a terminal brain cancer and decided she’d rather die on her own terms than slowly and painfully from her disease?

Maynard very fortunately lived in Oregon, where she could legally choose to “die with dignity,” and, this past November 1st, ended her life surrounded by her friends and family.

This was a national controversy. Maynard was playing god. The state shouldn’t be involved with life and death, people argued. Suicide is a mortal sin, others argued, and Maynard would have to burn in hell for dying on her own terms rather than her tumor’s terms. Or, you know, on God’s terms, but hey, in this scenario, God and the tumor were basically one and the same.

Maynard’s problem, of course, was that she chose a death not properly suited to trash TV. She could have easily died by feeding herself to an anaconda, or by walking a high-wire across Chicago, or by skydiving from 128,000 feet. Death is fine, after all, as long as it’s for spectacle, and as long as you’re seen as “risking” death and not “attempting” it.

So Maynard’s problem was branding. Death, we all know, is chaotic and random, and you’re supposed to play the cards you are dealt. Folding is not an option. But you are more than welcome to say, “Hit me,” when dealt two Kings.


Let’s Start Doing New Shit to Balls

A couple weeks back, I went home to Cincinnati and spent half of the weekend playing with my four-year-old nephew, Alejandro. We invented a game which, in my head, was called “do shit to a bouncy ball while running around.” It was a really great game. We did lots of shit to that ball, and it was very fulfilling. At some point, me and my dad tried to get an actual organized game going, but Alejandro was having none of it. He was good at doing shit to the ball. He was not as good at doing specific shit to the ball. When there were expectations attached to the shit he had to do, he was not as big a fan of doing that shit.

I understand completely. I operate best in situations with absolutely zero expectations. Though I come from a long line of people who are very good at doing specific things to balls, I myself do not quite fit into that line. I played football, lacrosse, and wrestling (which, before you object, involved doing shit to balls in its own, very uncomfortable way) and I was atrocious at all of them. Alejandro was beating off that day when he would have to be judged on his ability in doing shit to balls by literally beating the bouncy ball into the ground with a wiffleball bat while screaming “NO!”


I do genuinely enjoy watching football. It is a great way to justify sitting and day-drinking for three and a half hours. But lately there’s been a lot of uproar around football. It turns out that even if you’re a big, muscly grown man, your body is still prone to the negative effects of constant physical trauma. It turns out that some institutions think that the sport is more important than the safety of children. It turns out that some institutions are willing to ignore domestic abuse unless it becomes a PR problem.

And at this point, you kinda wanna hammer the ball into the ground with a wiffleball bat and scream, “NO!” The sport is, after all, just another way of doing shit to a ball. And while the sport seems eternal right now, it was actually invented in 1869 in New Jersey. The world’s great game, soccer, was first played only six years before that. Baseball was started 25 years before that. Someone made up the rules to those games. Someone who probably used the word “knickerbocker” at least once in their life, and someone who thought that the lumps on your head could tell you your future.


Yes, there is a lump for “firmness.”

For whatever reason, the only games we really seem to play were all made up in the 19th Century, which is also the last century that Thomas Jefferson pooped in. Why is there a cut-off? Why are these new sports now too big to fail? They don’t matter at all.

Not that I’m saying that they don’t matter a great deal, but they matter in the way that music matters. It doesn’t matter so much what you play, it matters that you play. Just like music, sports are ways for us to take our internal thoughts and feelings and project them out on the world in fun and creative ways. People are capable of doing beautiful things when they play. Remember this?

RVP-headerThat’s a man diving face first and knocking a ball into a net with said face. If that’s not art, then nothing is art. The sport around it doesn’t matter a goddamn bit.

And the sport in itself doesn’t have to be eternal. The organization in charge of the world of soccer is straight up evil. They’re currently allowing construction to continue for their 2022 World Cup even though hundreds of workers have died in horrible conditions. The World Cup is huge and important, but it’s not that huge and important. We could totally come up with another big worldwide party game. At the end of the day, soccer is still a game made up by posh Victorian wankers, and it’s no more or less special than any other game made up by anyone else ever.

We can make up new and better games. We can create new sports. We can find new ways to do shit to balls. When we’ve started to put kids, women, Native Americans, migrant workers in Qatar, residents of Brazilian favelas, and the physical well-being of our athletes behind the importance of the game, we’ve started to take the shit we do to balls too seriously.

Let’s do other shit to balls. We can figure out the rules later.