5 Reasons I (Respectfully) Disagree With Jason Pargin’s Essay on Competition

In August of this year, Jason Pargin, aka David Wong, wrote an article about how the best advice you can give someone is that the world is competition: 

In it, Jason argues that the world is a competition, that we compete for scarce resources, whether it be friends or money or status. And that regardless of who we are and what our beliefs are, we need to see the world as a competition. We need to compete. 

Now there’s a lot to unpack here, but my criticisms aren’t a sign that I hate the guy. There are few people who I respect more, and few people who have written their way into my brain to greater effect. 

But I have my reasons to argue. And like any Cracked fan, I have five in particular:

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The Sale

Claudia was ready.

The list was in her tablet, which she carried in the nook of her arm.

She knew what she was doing: a slight hint of makeup, curled hair, and flats with a short heel that clicked pleasantly when she walked. Instinctively, she drew out a shawl of classic black lace and put it on, the last piece to make her funeral-perfect.

She knocked on the door, expecting no one to come, even though she knew for a fact he was home.

It was all part of the sale.

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What Football Teaches Us

Urban Meyer, the head coach of Ohio State University’s football program, is one of the most successful college coaches in history. He’s coached three national championship teams and has multiple Big Ten titles to his name.

More importantly, he’s the perennial enemy of my alma mater, the University of Michigan.

Earlier this year, Meyer was suspended for not reporting that one of his assistant coaches, Zach Smith, was abusing his wife, among plenty of other things that would get any normal employee fired. Meyer protected Smith by lying through his teeth to university officials about what he knew.

As a result, OSU suspended Meyer for three games at the beginning of the season. Because of this, he forfeited about half a million of his 7.6 million dollar salary.

When I read this, my first thoughts were not about justice; they were not about the terrible abuse Courtney Smith suffered, or what an asshole Zach Smith was; they were not about what Urban Meyer should’ve done, or why he did the unbelievably stupid thing that he did.

I thought, instead: “Maybe this is the year. Maybe this is the year Michigan can snap its losing streak against Ohio State.”

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We Have Met the Scab, and He is Us: Shadow Work and the Internet

You are a sucker.

Every day, you work for free, doing work that used to be done for a wage.

You work for nonprofits, government entities, wealthy companies. And you don’t even know that you’re do it.

This work is hard to track. There’s a Bureau of Labor, but no bureau of this kind of work. There aren’t any unions that can represent you, labor laws that can protect you. But this work has a massive effect on your quality of life. It’s called shadow work: the small pieces of unpaid labor we do in our day-to-day lives. Continue reading

Proper Dreaming

If there were ever a place for dreamers, it would be a college commencement speech.

After four or more (never less) years, a college student is ready to bound out into the world, armed with knowledge, pep, and a quickly deteriorating set of skills. But probably the best dreamers among all college students aren’t engineers or the English majors. No, that title in particular would belong to the art students.

Robert De Niro gave a commencement speech to the graduates of the New York University Tisch School of the Arts. It will go down as a classic commencement speech because of the way it begins:

“Tisch graduates, you made it. And you’re fucked.”

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6 Reasons Being a Farmer is Terrifying

You might think being a farmer is a pretty sweet gig. From a cubicle, things look pretty nice: you’re working outside, one with the land, a  Wendall Berry poem come to life. But being a farmer is an insane profession; the job goes out of its way to make itself as terrifying as possible for the weirdest of reasons. Like…   Continue reading

Mystical bookshelves full of magic


It is important to have elders. One of mine is Ray Bradbury.

He was one of the best science fiction writers that ever lived. Countless short stories, television scripts, plays, and books flowed from his pen. He also had a love of life few had, or will ever, match.

This shines through in a book of his called Zen in the Art of Writing. It is the best book about writing anyone can read. Oftentimes such work can fall into dull introspection, cynicism, and tactics; Bradbury doesn’t waste his time with any of these things. He is unabashedly in love with writing and wants you to be too. Continue reading