500 years ago today, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church. A lapsed Lutheran, yet someone who also has opinions, I present to you my own 95 Theses. These are objectively correct observations about the world. They are also totally thought out and sophisticated, and I jotted most of them down in a notebook while on the bus from Mexico City to Cuernavaca yesterday. The picture above is me an hour ago, wearing my Viva La Reformacion shirt of Luther, shaking my first at the Palace of the Inquisition in Mexico City, which today is the UNAM medical school.
1) Ketchup, at least as it is presently sold, is the worst condiment known to humans. It might be acceptable on fries if there is literally no other options and the fries are bad. It can be improved through the addition of hot sauce to make it tolerably passable. But in general, it is complete garbage and people who like it probably should have their right to vote stripped.
2) While vodka is fine enough if you want to get drunk without thinking about it, it is easily the worst of the major liquors. More importantly, one cannot have a martini that includes vodka. Fuck James Bond. He was not drinking a martini. A martini has gin. You can have a vodka cocktail if you like, but that’s not a martini. More broadly, just because you are using a martini glass does not make it a martini. And adding chocolate syrup or whatever to cocktails is just an embarrassment and probably means you should rethink your life choices.
3) Speaking of such things, martini glasses themselves are highly overrated. A highball glass really is superior for most drinks. Martini glasses just ask to be spilled or broken.
4) Major forms of liquor, ranked: Rye, Bourbon, Gin, Mezcal, Scotch, Irish whiskey, Tequila, Rum, Vodka, a winter in northern Ontario, whatever the hell Canadian whiskey is supposed to be.
5) American sandwiches are the worst in the world. It’s no wonder this country does so many dumb things, with atrocious sandwiches left and right. One can walk into a random chain cafe in a Munich subway station and get a sandwich far more delicious than anything except at the highest end bakeries in the United States. We deserve Trump.
6) All your major pizza cities are bad. Chicago isn’t even pizza. Enjoy your soupy tomato sauce casserole if you can eat it before the wind blows the sauce across your face. There is good New York pizza, but there is far more bad New York pizza. St. Louis “pizza” is a national shame, just like pretty much everything else about the city. Your far better pizza is coming out of California. And fine, New Haven. Or a million cool little pizza shops across the country. But the debate between New York and Chicago pizza is like your debate between which late 70s lite rock band is the best. The winner is still a loser.
7) Building on the pizza point, the idea of authenticity in food is dumb. You know what is “authentic?” Whatever people want it to be. McDonald’s is authentic trash American cuisine. When I was in South Korea in the late 90s, people used to take me to these fancy restaurants where they would create these big kimchi based stews with the added meat of–American hot dogs. U.S. soldiers brought them into Korea in the 50s. How is this not authentic? The whole idea of authenticity says more about our own position in consumer culture than anything about the food.
8) Chicken does not belong on pizza. No way, no how. Never.
9) Breaking from the incorrect positions of many of my co-bloggers, pineapple is delicious on pizza.
10) The world’s best food nations, ranked: 1) Thailand, 2) Mexico, 3) Italy, 4) China, 5) Spain, 6) India, 7) Vietnam, 8) Portugal, 9) South Korea, 10) Japan, 11) Malaysia, 12) the various Middle Eastern cuisines, 12) Greece 13) France I guess but it’s pretentious and overrated, somewhere in the middle I guess) the US, third to last) Britain, second to last) eating from a dump, dead last) Costa Rica.
11) There is no bad beer style. Unless you put pumpkin in it, which may lead to questioning your entire existence. That said, the best styles are 1) IPA, 2) Sours, 3) Belgians, 4) Pale Ales, 5) Lagers, 6) Germans broadly defined, 7) Stouts, 8) Porters, and then somewhere down there the ambers and Scotch ales and other sweet types of beer I don’t like very much.
12) 99% of the time, the cheap street food you see is going to be better than the fancy restaurant. That’s especially true in Asia and Latin America, but when possible, it’s usually true in the U.S. too.
13) Most fast food should generally be avoided. Of the major chains, McDonald’s (except for breakfast if that’s your thing), Burger King, and Subway are totally inedible. KFC is bad. Popeye’s is acceptable. Wendy’s is actually pretty good. Taco Bell is acceptable in a pinch, but only in the most unfortunate circumstances like finding yourself in Nebraska or something. Chick-Fil-A is unacceptable for religious reasons. Pizza Hut, come the fuck on, why would anyone ever go to Pizza Hut? Same with Little Caesar’s and Papa John’s and Domino’s. Good lord, Domino’s. Dunkin’ Donuts is grotesque and New Englanders’ obsession with it has no basis in taste. Which makes sense from a bunch of people who cheer on Team Trump. Arby’s is completely inedible unless you are Farley. Dairy Queen deserts are OK but the burgers and fries are bad. Carl’s Jr/Hardee’s pumps money into the bank account of Andy Puzder for god’s sake. In the end, just stop at the local diner or cafe. It might be good, it might be bad, it will be interesting. I was in Ord, Nebraska recently and did this and was served some kind of fried corn kernels in dough. Not bad!
14) High end burgers have been a welcome addition to the American food scene. That said, In-N-Out is absurdly overrated, a product of California’s outsized influence on American culture. The burgers are fine. The fries are among the worst I’ve ever had. There is no excuse for atrocious fries. They are not that hard to make. Me, I’m a Five Guys guy because getting jalapeños on burgers is a great addition. I do wish they would end the peanut thing given how many people have peanut allergies. The fry sizes there are so large that I have trouble seeing how the peanuts are necessary to fill someone up. And there are other oils that can be used.
15) It’s probably a bad idea to get that tattoo. In fact, it’s probably a really bad idea. But if you are going to do it, for God’s sake, pay someone a lot of money to do it right and do it creatively and whatnot. And avoid words, which will make everyone you meet roll their ideas at the cliches you think are so profound.
16) Pencils are a terrible writing utensil. Pens are superior in every way.
17) Cursive is a silly archaic form of writing. There is no good reason to teach it. People who whine about how the kidz can’t write the cursive are old.
18) The ocean wants to kill you. Stay off of it at all costs.
19) Beaches are boring. The worst form of vacation. The sun also wants to kill you at that level of exposure.
20) Every celebrity death should be blamed on Angela Lansbury. Or maybe Betty White. They are mass murders on a scale we have never seen.
21) Star Wars is horrible in every way. Every movie. The whole concept. The execution. The terrible sequels. It is the most overrated single product in the history of American popular culture.
22) In closely related news, nostalgia is a dumb state of mind and actions based around it are to be avoided and shunned with the harshest language.
23) While one would like to say the United States has the world’s best film tradition, and it might, the decline of Hollywood pictures in favor of franchises has destroyed much of our film credibility. It’s no wonder that all the good stuff is happening on television these days, or at least a lot of it.
24) Best film traditions: 1) U.S., 2) Japan, 3) France, 4) Germany, 5) Russia, 6) China (whether we include Hong Kong or not here is a debate), 7) Sweden. Underrated traditions: Mexico, England, Romania
25) I know that India probably has the most unique film tradition but I find Bollywood very hard to watch and understand and thus can’t really rank it.
26) Best artistic forms, ranked: 1) Film, 2) Popular Music, 3) Fiction, 4) Theater, 5) Classical Music, 6) Opera, 7) Taking a Football to the Groin, 8) Dance.
27) The music of your youth is not the greatest music ever made. Every 30+ person who says this has basically stopped listening to music. Also, see above about nostalgia.
28) There is no greatest era of music. There was great music made in the 1920s and in the 2010s. And yes, Baby Boomers, in the 1960s too.
29) If you think hip-hop is horrible music, that’s your right. But don’t say it. You are just contributing to the erasure and trivialization of black culture in America. Might as well go on Fox News and talk about the strange black people.
30) If your list of best bands are all from the same era, you are part of the problem.
31) A quick list of truly great all-time rock/pop/soul acts, not ranked: Rolling Stones, Drive-By Truckers, PJ Harvey, Neil Young, Talking Heads, Joy Division, Grateful Dead, Old 97s, Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Millie Jackson, Gang of Four, Leonard Cohen, Sleater-Kinney, Sonic Youth, Wussy, Yo La Tengo, Sir Douglas Quintet.
32) The best songwriter under 40 working today is John Moreland. Though Katie Crutchfield may have something to say about that.
33) People who dismiss country music out of hand need to try harder. And not listen to Nashville Douche Country radio.
34) Everyone should see live music at least once a month, if possible.
35) The best American folk art: Scrimshaw
36) The exotic pet trade should be banned yesterday. Other than literally decimating the wildlife of Florida thanks to pythons (and they will move north through the southeast in coming decades), birds being caged is an atrocity. A cat likes a small space. A dog gets walks. A caged bird is an animal rights violation.
37) Every person should be forced to live at least 500 miles away from home for at least a year. Nothing does more to make Americans inward-looking than their unwillingness to expose themselves not only to other cultures around the world, but even in their own nation. I love talking to 27 year old graduate students in Rhode Island who have never been west of Philadelphia.
38) If you think your home is “God’s country,” you probably live in a crappy place like rural west Tennessee or something.
39) The best states, ranked: 1) Oregon, 2) Colorado, 3) California, 4) Washington, 5) New Mexico, 6) New York, 7) Vermont, 8) Virginia, 9) Maine, 10) Montana.
40) The worst states: A bunch of fly-over states no one cares about and Connecticut.
41) The very worst state: Texas. Fuck Texas and it’s flag. Fuck it’s belief it is better than everyone else. You live in a flat ugly place that is not only filled with racists, you probably live in it because it is filled with racists. That’s why you moved there from Wisconsin or California or wherever. Even given Austin and San Antonio and the good music and the BBQ, you are the worst state just on prinicple.
42) Best state food traditions: 1) Louisiana, 2) New Mexico, 3) Texas, 4) Maine.
43) Worst state food traditions: Ohio. Not sure if St. Louis pizza or Cincinnati chili is worst. Both should be mocked. But at least Missouri has KC BBQ and Ohio has?????
44) State most on the decline: Wisconsin. You elected Scott Walker twice. You elected Ron Johnson twice. Cheese curds are kind of gross. Your beer is massively overrated. Also, you were the natural place to introduce Kit-Kat quesadillas. Hope that’s not too spicy for you!
45) Among the many reasons that the West Coast is better than the East Coast is the beer. Yes, I love paying $8 for a mediocre beer in Rhode Island or Massachusetts when I could drink a much better one for $4 or $5 in Oregon. The other week, I was at a happy hour in Portland with high end Belgian beers for $3. Meanwhile, Happy Hour is illegal in Rhode Island. Also, your “balanced” East Coast IPA full of malt is bullshit. In addition, Yuengling is worse than horse piss and its owner sees Joe Coors as a political model. The mystique around this swill is nonsense.
46) Unfortunately, the West Coast is also polluted by the Washington Huskies, the objectively greatest evil in sports. No region is perfect. See also, the Lakers.
47) The worst show in television history is the Big Bang Theory, unless it’s whatever other show my parents are watching. Jesus. Nerds, hilarious. Again, this nation deserves Trump.
48) Halloween is by far the best holiday. While there is the religious background, it’s way in the background. People get to have fun without any religion, patriotism, or attempting to make turkey edible. Plus candy and skulls. Who doesn’t love Halloween?
49) I know I can’t wait for tomorrow and our annual “How Do You Make Thanksgiving Food Edible Month.” Its culmination in dry turkey while eating around uncles we don’t like is really the best American tradition. At least we get to gather around the TV and watch the Lions. Even the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special is second rate. Because Thanksgiving is terrible.
50) I know I am not supposed to say this, but professors mostly lie about teaching. They have to say they love it. And you know what, it’s fine. But that’s what it is: fine. There is nothing glorious about teaching freshmen who don’t want to be there. Or for that matter, seniors who resent having to do their capstone project. There’s a reason we all get away from teaching at the first possible opportunity to do anything else. And yes, I am enjoying my year on sabbatical. Also, I don’t care about my student’s personal lives. I’m not a father or a counselor. This is a business relationship. I am a professional and I work hard to do my job as best I can. But it is a job, nothing else.
51) In related news, never contribute to your own exploitation by becoming a long-term adjunct. Why would you do this? The investment in time for getting a PhD is not paid off by making $2500 a course teaching freshmen. Yes, I know I am speaking from a position of privilege. I also know that in the 5 years it took me to get a tenure-track job, I was actively seeking other options. We should all do that. Even tenured faculty members should do that because the teaching of History and Political Science and Anthropology is dying as our colleges turn into vo-tech institutions.
52) STEM means only technology and engineering. Everyone is at risk from this hideous disease afflicting higher education.
53) Academics have another thing to learn. To once again quote Al Swearingen, “Is the idea to inform your reader or make him feel like a fucking dunce?” Even in technical fields, you all need to do more to write for a broader audience. It’s not that hard. And I don’t blame the individuals. I blame fields and the people who maintain the bad writing standards in journals.
54) Speaking of which, who else finds it amazing that the field of English, based around texts largely written for mass consumption, so clouds up their writing with jargon and theory as to be utterly incomprehensible to anyone else?
55) As for history, Ken Burns is a blowhard who tells lies about historians not wanting to engage with the public to toot his own horn.
56) Theodore Roosevelt is the most overrated figure in American history. He was a nasty, homicidal maniac who loved killing people for sport, not to mention killing animals. He created his own press machine to sprout his own career and then destroyed the reputation of William Howard Taft when the latter had the temerity to be president instead. He was also an open racist who did much to contribute to scientific racism. Don’t believe the hype.
57) Donald Trump is basically Andrew Jackson. Trump followers are basically Jacksonians. Like Jacksonians, these people love racism, misogyny, and cultural warfare against elites. What a country.
58) At least Jackson’s supporters simply falsely accused John Quincy Adams of being a pimp for the czar, as opposed to Trump allowing Russian prostitutes to urinate next to him while serving Putin’s interests.
59) I’ve said it before and I will say it again–moving to the suburbs for the schools is a racist act. You contribute to inequality by doing so. And that everything tells you to do so is the definition of structural racism.
60) Just because you voted for Hillary Clinton and don’t like Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III does not mean you do not contribute to racism.
61) Racism is not just a southern thing. Nor it is even mostly a southern thing. If you live in a mostly white neighborhood and there is a neighborhood nearby that is mostly people of color and poorer, you are a beneficiary of racism.
62) Race is not just black and white. The nation has two original sins: Slavery and genocide against Native Americans. The impact of both are still profound today and need to be considered equally.
63) In discussing modern race relations, if we aren’t centering Latinos in our analysis as much as African-Americans (after are, there are more Latinos in the U.S., even if that label is problematic) we are misdiagnosing the problem.
64) The combination of religion and nationalism may be the greatest contributor to human disaster in history. Religion has always been there, so maybe nationalism is the greatest problem. But religion connected to nationalism, which often has a base in imperialism and its aftermath, is extremely toxic.
65) Individualism is also extremely toxic. When it enters our politics, it is a horrible thing.
66) Politics cannot be consumerism. If you vote around one issue that matters to you, you are part of the problem.
67) There are no dealbreakers in politics.
68) There is always a lesser evil at best in an election. Deal with it. Grow up.
69) Libertarianism and anarchism are both the politics of adults acting like spoiled American children. Grow up.
70) Third parties have no place in American national politics. They may on the local level. Running vanity third party campaigns is the height of stupidity. Grow up.
71) You are not important. Quit thinking that you are. What’s important is everyone around you. Act accordingly. If we all thought this way, we would be acting in solidarity, the basis of good politics, as opposed to the narcissism that dominates our politics today.
72) If you have children in the developed world, you are responsible for the entirety of the climate change created by them and their descendants. The problem is not population growth in Bangladesh. It’s people and their kids in the United States.
73) I don’t care how much you like your jeans or your Apple computers. If you don’t actively fight for global labor justice, you are guilty of the suffering of the global poor. It’s on you to think about how your consumption affects others and not to withdraw into an individualistic bubble of buying second-hand goods, but instead demand systemic fixes of the problem.
74) Technology will not save us. It is not our friend. We should not believe in it as a religion. We should create tools to help all people.
75) If the benefits of technology is to concentrate wealth at the top, then we have failed as a society.
76) If you are going to call someone a Luddite, maybe educate yourself on what that means first.
77) If you think that playing with your guns is more important than public safety, you contribute to the deaths of thousands of Americans every year.
78) The National Rifle Association is a terrorist group and should be treated as such.
79) Just because you recycle doesn’t mean you are doing any good. You need to follow what happens to those goods after you put them in your blue box to make sure they aren’t contributing to global labor exploitation and in many cases, environmental degradation. Hint: they are.
80) The American flag is not a fetish. Quit worshiping it.
81) American public transportation is an embarrassment compared with nearly every other nation in the world, even ones much poorer than our own.
82) The only future for American housing is large-scale housing blocks like we see in Asian countries.
83) No, I don’t care that you like the suburbs. They are incredibly damaging to our society and to our land.
84) The key here is making housing affordable as well.
85) Affordable urban housing should be a human right.
86) Health care is also a human right. I don’t care if single payer is the answer or not. But we need universal health care in some form.
87) There is no future for working people in this country without unions.
88) Automation is going to destroy the American working and middle classes.
89) The right to job must be a human right.
90) Universal basic income is an absurd pipe dream supported by libertarians. It will never happen because it counters every basic myth this nation was founded upon.
91) Anyone who says “class not race” is an idiot who should be avoided.
92) Anyone who says “race not class” is wrong, but not as wrong as the prior.
93) Universal health care must include robust women’s rights. Any analysis of society that does not center feminism is wrong.
94) If you oppose immigration, you are a racist.
95) Glenn Greenwald is a huge douche who carries vodka for Vladimir Putin, engages in the most dishonest and slanderous rhetoric against anyone who dares disagrees with him, hires racist writers at his magazine, is an enormous blowhard, and it a pure and simple coward for never revealing which candidate he supports. Sue us asshole.
Thus ends the 95 Theses. If you disagree with these objective facts, I am going to adapt the Luther Insult Generator to come after you. Which is of course the greatest thing on the internet.