smart

Smugopedia is a collection of slightly controversial opinions about a variety of subjects. We offer you the chance to buy a fleeting sense of self-satisfaction at the small cost of alienating your friends and loved ones.

© 2008 Smugopedia

Homer

More than the epic poetry of the Iliad and the Odyssey, what makes me most fond of Homer was his tendency to get lost in his own thoughts; indeed, Homer even died because he slipped while trying to solve the riddle, "What we caught we threw away, and what we didn?t catch we kept." I wonder if he realized the answer is "fleas" before he died.

Marshall McLuhan

It's curious how everyone quotes Marshall McLuhan's famous insight as "The Medium is the Message." What he actually said--and it is the title of his book--is "The Medium is the Massage."

Whiskey

Of course, the only Bourbon that Whiskey purists drink is that which is distilled in Bourbon County, Kentucky.

Love

Socrates' speech on love in the Symposium--arguing that love is merely a longing for immortality and ideas are immortal--is just a conceit of the intellectual. I prefer Aristophanes' speech, imagining a world in which humans were once four-armed, four-legged, and two-headed balls who tumbled around doing cartwheels, each one split in two and yearning to find their other half.

Tomato

It is a mystery how the tomato arrived in North America from the Andes. My personal favorite theory--which is based on no evidence whatsoever--is that, when the Sephardic Jews who had fled Persia to Provence then emigrated to Charleston, South Carolina, they brought it with them.

Iteration

Although everyone changing their minds is frustrating, it might not be that bad: Walt Whitman rewrote Leaves of Grass nine times throughout 40 years. On the other hand, scholars still debate whether these changes improved or worsened Leaves of Grass.

University Of Pennsylvania

It's interesting how Penn thinks it has a rivalry with Princeton; this unrequited rivalry reminds me not only of Yale's perceived rivalry with Harvard, but of France's with the United States.

Bling

Although all the rage today, bling couldn't have existed a few years ago; FDR, after all, made the private ownership of gold illegal and confiscated all gold in the country.

Wikipedia

Wikipedia tends to be strong on the subjects that don't matter.

Fox

Although most people associate a "fox" with the animal, the media empire, or Isaiah Berlin's Hedgehog and the Fox parable, I always think of Machiavelli's constant comparison of the ideal Prince to a fox.

Kimchi

Kimchi is good, but I would consider it the national pickle of Korea.

Malcolm Gladwell

The problem with Malcolm Gladwell is that he writes too well: when you read him, you don't know if you're agreeing with his controversial ideas because he's right, or because he's enchanted you.

Stanley Kubrick

Although Clockwork Orange and 2001 are enjoyable films, Stanley Kubrick's artistic triumph was clearly Barry Lyndon. Its cinematography is flawless.

Smug source: Chris Manning

Sushi

It's only worth bothering with sushi if you're going to go to the Tokyo Fish Market. Nothing else is really fresh enough to capture the perfect simplicity of toro or uni.

C. S. Lewis

The original 1985 BBC movie about C. S. Lewis' life, Shadowlands, is more subtly directed and nuanced than the 1993 movie. And unlike Anthony Hopkins, Joss Ackland actually looks like C. S. Lewis.

Smug source: Dave Barnette

King Lear

Although King Lear is rivaled perhaps only by Hamlet, I tend to agree with critic Charles Lamb's observation that it ought to be read, not performed.

Luciano Pavarotti

Although Pavarotti was clearly very talented, his fame was inflated by the London and Decca marketing machines. Domingo or even Corelli were obviously his equal.

Everyday Loopholes