The Nobel Prize in Bad Tweets

We got weights in fish.

The 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature will be announced Thursday, but today was the real event—Alex Shephard’s notoriously incorrect Nobel prediction post for The New Republic. “This column’s record of predictions is mixed,” lies Shephard so flagrantly that the searing shame of it compels him to later admit:

I know that earlier in this column I said that my record was mixed, but I was being charitable. Seven years into my career as America’s chief Nobel Prize in literature speculator, it has become clear that I simply am not good at this.

“Charitable” is the newly-re-divorced MacKenzie Scott giving away $3 billion a year. Shephard describing his own record as mixed is more like Mark Zuckerberg starting a private LLC and calling it philanthropy, but his skills in dunking on Bernard-Henri Lévy and Michel Houellebecq more than make up for his well-below-chance record in predictions. As it does every year, the post both made me laugh and reminded me that I am an abject high-culture poseur.

Does Abdulrazak Gurnah even exist, or is he, like JMG Le Clézio before him, an elaborate troll by the Academy designed to determine how many people would pretend to have read an author they had obviously never heard of?

You could ask me if I’ve read IWC Schaffhausen’s new chapbook and I would nod thoughtfully and say “I found it perfectly paced but a bit mechanical.” I assume everyone else is also lying, I mean who even has the time for this?1 

Shephard does however steer us into the actual subject of today’s Tabs:

But who will lose the Nobel? Probably cancel culture. Reporting—which is to say, stray conversations with drunk Europeans—indicates that compared to the other issues of international importance… intellectual life on the Continent has been focused on the backlash to what France—a country that literally invented overreacting to things—has declared “le Wokisme.”…

…Like cancel culture itself—and also like fish if you’re not very good at fishing—discussions of cancel culture are slippery, elusive, and hard to pin down.

That’s right, we’re talking about fishing. The double deuce is determined to close out with a series of increasingly niche sports cheating controversies that involve shoving balls into orifices, so why not lead weights in walleyes? The Toledo Blade’s Matt Markey first reported Friday’s fraudulent (if not felonious) fishing fracas:

Late Friday, the walleye fishing world was sent reeling2 after a cheating scandal was exposed in front of God, country, and a mob of justifiably furious walleye fishermen. Two guys – we can no longer call them fishermen without smearing the 99 percent who play by the rules – were exposed for what appears to be the most nefarious, blatant, and outrageous case of cheating that tournament walleye fishing has ever experienced.

[SMASH CUT TO] Magnus Carlsen somewhere in Tønsberg grimly honing a filet knife and muttering “neste gang, Niemann…

And this very same weekend, a poker hand between Garrett Adelstein and Robbi Jade Lew blew up the Hustler Casino Live livestream in a way that is incomprehensible if you aren’t a poker expert. The best I can determine, Lew bet all of her chips on a kind of marginal hand, and then won it twice (which seems way more statistically likely than, for example, Alex Shephard being wrong for seven years in a row). Adelstein was so mad that Lew gave him back his money, but now the casino is talking about doing lie detector tests and Adelstein has already raised the specter of balls in orifices, which would make him today’s sorest winner if today were not also publication day for Helen Lewis’s Atlantic article about irate Guggenheim guest curator and professional admirer of one specific Basquiat painting Chaédria LaBouvier’s baffling multi-year war on former Guggenheim Chief Curator Nancy Spector and now apparently also on Helen Lewis and Atlantic editor Adrienne LaFrance.

Nancy Spector was fired in 2020 in direct response to LaBouvier’s complaints and a supporting campaign by an anonymous group calling themselves “A Better Guggenheim.” LaBouvier refused to speak to investigators for the Guggenheim then or to Lewis for the Atlantic now, which is lucky for everyone given her conversational survival rate. I look forward to her Medium post.

This week is also when the Swedish Academy announces…

So let’s look at the shortlist:

World-renowned dumbass Elon Musk tried for the Nobel Peace Prize, but put himself in the running for this one instead:

This is a Breitbart reporter so she knows what she’s doing here but still, a notable achievement in bad tweets:

Perennial bad tweets contender Michael Tracey does more damage in four words than most bad tweeters can do with a whole thread:

But as strong as that one is, I think Lena Dunham is the odds-on favorite this year for unilaterally declaring herself a gay icon:

It’s a strong field, and anyone could take it. We’ll just have to see who the Academy hates the most.

Failing emperor enjoys private gladiatorial contest. For Dirt, Alexis Nowicki found out why Sofie Royer wrote a whole song based on titles from the 2018 FSG catalog. The illegitimate Supreme Court will rule on Section 230 this term, and it’s gonna be wild when they strike it down and then discover they’ve flushed America’s whole economy down the toilet. Elon Musk’s texts were analyzed by Alex Kantrowitz, Adi Robertson, Matt Levine, and Katie Notopoulos. Deep cuts from the Tabs Discord: Antler brings us Giorgio Moroder’s Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis.” Today in Cringe:How Barack Obama's Love of Jazz Changed My Life.”

And Last But In No Way Least: Tim Rogers’ Action Button is back for Season 2 with a 6 hour review of 2000’s Japanese-only Playstation game “Boku No Natsuyasumi,” or “Boku’s Summer Break” (although there is a nearly half hour digression on how, or even if, we should translate that title). As always it’s “a video game review” in the same way that “Of Grammatology” is “a book about writing,” and it’s well worth your time even if you don’t play video games at all.

Today’s Song: Caribou, “Bees”

The sign-off today is just buy a shirt! That’s all. You can always quit. I wrote too much today, I’m gonna quit right now.

Join the conversation

or to participate.