Open Thread: Three Highbrow Brothers, You Know So Well

It started way back in history...

This morning I woke up, fumbled on the bedside table for my phone, blinked and squinted at it until my eyes started working,1 and saw that Intern Linda, who lives in England and therefore the future, had texted me this meme:

This is hilarious if you know the backstory, which I did because I am very good at remembering concepts, connections, and good gossip and I have terminal internet poisoning. But because I am also dreadful at remembering the actual name of anything or anyone, my brain rendered it as:

"Oh, this is about the time [vegetarian book guy; one of three highbrow brothers] decided to leave his wife for [star wars actress] who was already married to [ballet dancing insect] and she was like ‘uh lol no thank you.’”

So I started running these placeholders through Google, quickly found “Natalie Portman” and “Benjamin Millepied” (who is a dancing millipede in my headcanon… all those tiny ballet shoes!), and finally arrived at Jonathan Safran Foer, who somehow not only has the gall to still exist after that, but even drew attention to it later with an excruciating Times Magazine interview with Portman conducted via awkward emails.

This anecdote is a good example of my own kind of stupidity, which I hope is relatively harmless. But in Esquire today, Dave Holmes coined a good name for the particular character of virtually all American public discourse, and it’s “Elevated Stupidity.”

Stupidity is saying two plus two equals five. Elevated Stupidity is doing the same thing, except you invoke Pythagoras, decry cancel culture when someone corrects you, then get a seven-figure book deal and a speaking tour out of it.

It’s a good post and a useful concept. If Tabs has a mission it’s to be whatever the opposite of elevated stupidity is. Depressed genius? Lowered intelligence? I’m still workshopping the name. Anyway, whatever you call smart ideas presented accessibly. Or, at worst, dumb things presented honestly.

Which brings me to a pair of good TikToks, both via Julia Reinstein. First, I know you loved Jay-Z’s “Monster” verse, so here is Jay-Z naming more monsters.

And the natural follow-up, Kanye naming all of the lights.


My big news today is I am about to launch the Today in Tabs Discord! I’ve worked remotely for many years, first via AIM chat and IRC, and more recently in Slack, and lately I’ve missed the experience of having co-workers around in the chat during the day. So I am inviting all paid Tabs subscribers to come be my (and each other’s) virtual co-workers in a new Discord community server.2 If you’re not familiar with it, here’s an intro to Discord. I’ll send out an invite code for that to all subscribers in a little while. If you prefer the periodic self-contained chat here, we’ll still have open threads on Friday, don’t worry!

So welcome to the Friday Open Thread. If you subscribe, please comment below to share something you like, be it smart or dumb. If you don’t subscribe, do the same thing but subscribe first. And keep an eye out for a Discord invite soon!

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1

This is my healthiest life habit.

2

We will not literally be business-larping though, this is just a conceptual framework.