As an African-American, I respect your point about the value of Obama’s speech at Morehouse, but ultimately, I completely agree with TNC’s critique. Why? Because I am tired. It seems that every time Obama comes to the black community to address us, he lectures us; he does not simply speak to us. He gives us a lesson about personal responsibility; he preaches to black men about responsible fatherhood; etc. These are crucial topics, and matters that we, as a community must solve and address, but must he talk about them every goddamned time he comes into the community?
This is especially galling when he refuses to address in explicit terms the specific policy needs of the black community (and they do exist).
David Cay Johnston believes that “costly specialized storm shelters—big public structures that would be used only every few years or even every few decades” aren’t smart investments:
In Webb City, next door to Joplin, the Federal Emergency Management Agency gave $3 million last year to build a safe room at the local high school. It can shelter 3,000 people, if they can get there before a twister strikes. (And that’s a big if, given the short time between a tornado warning and the moment when the doors need to close; just picture how tough it is to get 250 people into a jumbo jet in 40 minutes.) The shelter cost $1,000 per person it can protect from a tornado; building shelters for everyone in Missouri at this rate would cost $6 billion. Based on Missouri’s average of two deaths per year from tornadoes, this measure would save 100 lives over 50 years at a cost of $60 million per life. Even if the shelters last 200 years, the cost would be $15 million for each life saved.
I’m not sure which is more disturbing—the hirsute images that adorn the Beardvertising site from Kentucky ad agency Cornett-IMS, or creative Whit Hiler’s use of the work “mancessory” to describe such facial hair. You might recall Hiler from past wacky ventures such as conquering Reddit with fake fliers (including a meetup to recreate scenes from Human Centipede—”Guys only”) and crafting a tourism campaign that was presumably too “kick-ass” for the Bluegrass State. Here’s his latest pitch: “Do you wanna get paid for having an epic beard? Of course you do. Join the world’s first Beardvertising network. Get paid. It’s simple—turn your beard into a business. Just like Duck Dynasty. Hang a BeardBoard (Patent Pending) in your beard. Sit back and get paid up to $5 per day.”
“This ‘closing off’ that imagines that those outside, everyone, cannot do good is a wall that leads to war and also to what some people throughout history have conceived of: killing in the name of God. That we can kill in the name of God. And that, simply, is blasphemy. To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy … The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! …
We all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there,” – Pope Francis, in a homily today that brought tears of relief to my eyes.
We’ve built a 58% majority for same-sex marriage nationwide, up from 27% in 1996, when Congress passed the so-called DOMA as I was co-counseling the world’s first-ever trial on whether the government actually has a good reason for denying the freedom to marry in Hawaii. We are, happily, winning … but we are far from having won.
Freedom to Marry … is gearing up for the next round of work and battling it will take to turn the public opinion we have persuaded into the actual legal and political action that will be the true “mission accomplished” that Kinsley is prematurely celebrating. We know we will win, but also know we have a huge amount still to do – organizing, educating, enlisting, lobbying, door-knocking, fundraising, and campaigning that Kinsley’s piece trivializes when he writes, “The challenge [is] simply getting people to think about it a bit.” If only it were, or had been, or will be that simple.
I think Evan mistakes Mike’s enthusiasm – and the extraordinary gains we have indeed made – with complacency. But they’re both right; we have won the argument in a way few movements have so swiftly; but we still have not come close to accomplishing the mission. We saw the still-enormous gap to overcome yesterday as gay couples were removed from being covered under the new immigration reform. The reform tries to include everyone trapped in immigration hell or limbo (and sometimes, trust me, purgatory), but it explicitly excludes only one group of people: gay and lesbian Americans who have taken up the responsibilities of civil marriage.
These people are not immigrants; they are American citizens forced to choose between their country and their spouse. No heterosexual would see that exclusion as anything other than what it is: the American government’s persecution of its own citizens, even as it seeks to ease the plight of its resident non-citizens. And breaking up families or forcing them to move abroad to stay together is more than discrimination. It’s cruelty. It doesn’t get clearer than that. Gay citizens are regarded as less worthy than straight non-citizens by their own Congress.
The quote of the day was from Lindsey Graham: “You’ve got me on immigration. You don’t have me on marriage. If you want to keep me on immigration, let’s stay on immigration.” There are things I would want to say to Butters that only human decency prevents. I wish he’d treat Americans like my husband with a scintilla of such respect.
Harry Enten examines the deep-red states least hospitable to equality:
Annalee Newitz introduces more theories as to what happened to the human subspecies:
Anthropologists, according to [Professor John] Hawks, often ask the wrong questions of our extinct siblings: “Why didn’t you invent a bow and arrow? Why didn’t you build houses? Why didn’t you do it like we would?” He thinks the answer isn’t that the Neanderthals couldn’t but that they didn’t have the same ability to share ideas between groups the way H. sapiens did.
Adrian Paci documented a group of Chinese craftsmen as they sculpted a classical Western column from a solid piece of marble, all while aboard a cargo ship traveling from China to France. Paci describes his inspiration for the resulting short film:
The Column came out of a story I heard from a friend of mine, a restorer, who needed a new marble sculpture for a castle he was restoring. Somebody told him that it could be done in China, because they have good marble, good craftsmen, cheap labour, and they can be quick because they can actually do the work while the marble is being transported by boat. I found it terrific. It sounded so weird, simultaneously sick and fabulous, something mythological and at the same time in keeping with the capitalistic logic of profit—merging the time of production with the time of transport.
Claire Evans welcomes a daily email from a stranger, brought to her inbox via a peculiar community:
The Listserve is a mailing list lottery. Sign up for the Listserve, and you’re joining a massive e-mail list. Every day, one person from the list is randomly selected to write one e-mail to everyone else. That’s it. As of this writing, the Listserve has 21,399 subscribers. There has been one email per day since April 16th, 2012. Run by a group of Masters Candidates in NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), the Listserve emerged from a class exploring new ways of creating conversational spaces online. There were other ideas: chain letters, or a message board for only 100 people at a time. But eventually email’s directness and ease-of-use won out. An email flies straight, circumventing the myriad distractions of other online gatherings, where some voices pack disproportionate clout (or, er, Klout).
She goes on to differentiate the list from other forms of modern social media:
He buys his specimens… from flower stands or collects them from the roadside. Murayama carefully dissects each flower, removing its petals, anther, stigma and ovaries with a scalpel. He studies the separate parts of the flower under a magnifying glass and then sketches and photographs them.
Using 3D computer graphics software, the artist then creates models of the full blossom as well as of the stigma, sepals and other parts of the bloom. He cleans up his composition in Photoshop and adds measurements and annotations in Illustrator, so that in the end, he has created nothing short of a botanical blueprint. …
Murayama chose flowers as his subject because they have interesting shapes and, unlike traditional architectural structures, they are organic. But, as he has said in an interview, “When I looked closer into a plant that I thought was organic, I found in its form and inner structure hidden mechanical and inorganic elements.” After dissecting it, he added, “My perception of a flower was completely changed.”
Alex Mayyasi thinks millennials are more deserving of a discount:
The United States only began measuring poverty in the 1960s, so we lack standard figures dating farther back than that. But it’s recognized that the trend of decreasing poverty among seniors dates back to the thirties and forties. 2011 Census figures place poverty among Americans aged 65 and older at 8.7%, well below the national average of 15%.
Today it is the Millennials, the youngest generation, that finds itself poor, vulnerable, and screwed by financial storms caused by another generation. Unemployment among 18-29 year olds is 11.1% and has been over 10% for 53 months. The rate for people age 16-24 is16.1%. Poverty is highest among teens and children - 27%.
Dylan Matthews, on the other hand, argues that seniors are poorer than those statistics would lead you to believe.
Brian Merchant contrasts this project with other skyscrapers:
So, should we cheer or jeer the prospect of mass-produced biggest-ever skyscrapers? And also: why mass-produce ginormous skyscrapers in the first place?
Well, if the specs [that Broad Sustainable Construction] provides are to be believed, mass-manufacturing prefab skyscrapers is much more efficient than our more traditional towers. It’s five times more energy efficient, can be built at half the cost, and packs a lot more people into a smaller space. BSC is going to stuff 30,000 people into these self-contained skyscraper communities—a resident of Sky City will use up 1/100th of the land used by a typical Chinese citizen.
And it really is a city in and of itself—4,450 apartments, nearly 100,000 square feet of indoor vertical farms, 250 hotel rooms, 92 elevators, 30 foot courtyards for athletics, and a six mile ramp that can be used to walk or run around the entire city.
Derek Thompson pores over new research on the rise of women who out-earn their husbands:
In a cool new paper, Marianne Bertrand, Jessica Pan, and Emir Kamenica pose a theory that some people might find controversial but others might find intuitive: What if there’s a deficit of marriages where the wife is the top earner because — to put things bluntly — husbands hate being out-earned by their wives, and wives hate living with husbands who resent them?
If this were true, we would expect to see at least [four] other things to be true. First, we’d expect marriages with female breadwinners to be surprisingly rare. Second, we’d expect them to produce unhappier marriages. Third, we might expect these women to cut back on hours, do more household, or make other gestures to make their husbands feel better. Fourth, we’d expect these marriages to end more in divorce. Lo and behold (as you no doubt guessed), the economists found all of those assumptions borne out by the evidence.
Regardless, Derek expects we’re nearing the end of male-breadwinner dominance:
Women are going to be the primary breadwinners in more and more families for so many reasons — (1) the shift from brawn economy to service economy; (2) women’s growing share of college degrees; and (3) sexism softening among male-dominated industries as women establish themselves in more positions of power. A national aversion to successful wives is a really bad recipe for economic growth and family formation. Get over it, guys. It’s a woman’s world, now.
A survivor of the Oklahoma tornado gets a surprise:
I totally lost it with that video. First off: what a great human being. No bullshit, no mawkishness: “I know exactly what happened.” Then the little dog – her second prayer. Sometimes it takes just one tangible story to fully grasp from a distance what these people have just experienced. And to see the hidden values – of love and life rather than property – that redeem us even after that horror.
The human death toll from the tornado now stands at 24, with hundreds more injured. Alan Taylor is up with a striking gallery of the destruction and rescue efforts.
John Mirch, left, and Michael Camacho, right, participate in a Rally Against Hate, organized by members of New York’s Lesbian-Gay-Transgender-Bisexual community, on May 20, 2013 in New York City. The rally was organized in response to a recent spate of hate crimes, most notably the murder of Mark Carson, a gay man who was shot in New York’s West Village neighborhood in the early hours of May 18. By Andrew Burton/Getty Images.
Retro Report re-reports on old stories, “connecting the dots from yesterday to today, correcting the record and providing a permanent living library where viewers can gain new insight into the events that shaped their lives.” Its latest video focuses on the alleged crack baby epidemic in the 1980s:
How did science get it so wrong? The primary study behind the “crack baby” epidemic scare involved just 23 infants–a sample set too small to be meaningful. It also included only infants rather than adults who had been exposed to crack as infants. Later studies conducted on adults who had been prenatally exposed to crack often showed very small changes in their brains rather than the sweeping deficiencies predicted by the science of the time. It’s a lesson in what happens when a misreading of the data leads to a publicly accepted narrative, especially one that feeds on society’s collective fears about the future.
It is hard to ignore the effects of racism here. There is a time-honored American tradition of turning minorities into the vessel for all the country’s vices — as if adultery, murder, idleness and all other manner of sin would disappear with us. This is especially true in the realm of drugs.
Jenna Krajeski looks at how the Syrian conflict has bled into Turkey:
It has cost Turkey seven hundred and fifty million dollars to host the [Syrian] refugees, with about one hundred million more coming in from outside sources. Members of Syria’s opposition—both armed and not—consider Turkey their base, and the Turkish government’s support for them has made the country an opponent of the Assad regime in more than just words. The border is being knocked down piece by piece—whether by journalists and soldiers crossing back and forth or shells falling on Turkish towns. In a report issued this April called “Blurring the Borders: Syrian Spillover Risk for Turkey,” the International Crisis Group says that that Turkey “now has an uncontrollable, fractured, radicalized no-man’s-land on its doorstep.” The two car bombs that exploded in Reyhanli last Saturday were like two deadly exclamation points at the end of that sentence.
Christian Brown showcases videogames that challenge the conception of winning at all costs, such as Spec Ops: The Line:
[A]s the game progresses, generic Arab bad guys are replaced with American soldiers and sometimes civilians. The load screens — most commonly seen after the player dies — explicitly question the values of the player. “DO YOU FEEL LIKE A HERO YET?” they ask, as you wait to jump back in and shoot dozens more digital soldiers. One’s motives for playing the game are openly called into question: The decision to keep playing instead of walking away from the game is likened directly to the in-game character’s refusal to give up on his mission and stop killing. Many players (me included) quit the game in disgust at a certain point, when you drop white phosphorous mortars onto civilians being evacuated from Dubai in order to keep playing.
In an interview with Polygon, Walt Williams, who designed Spec Ops: The Line, said, “This is where the characters have to look at the consequences of their actions and say: ‘Should we have gone further? Should we have left? Should we leave now? Is it right to keep going?’ … And if the player is thinking about seriously putting down the controller at this point, then that’s exactly where we want them to be emotionally.”
Psychiatrist Allen Frances worries about the expanding definitions of mental illness in the new edition of the DSM:
The grief I felt when my wife died would now be called “major depressive disorder”; forgetfulness in older age “mild neurocognitive disorder”; my gluttony now “binge eating disorder”; and my hyperactivity “attention deficit disorder”. As for my twin grandsons’ temper tantrums, this could be misunderstood as “disruptive mood dysregulation disorder”. And if you have cancer and your doctor thinks you are too worried about it, there’s “somatic symptom disorder.” It goes on, but you get the idea.
One consolation: the kids are not suddenly getting much sicker – human nature is pretty stable. But the way we label symptoms follows fickle fashions, changing quickly and arbitrarily. And freely giving out inaccurate diagnoses can lead to grave harms – medication that isn’t needed, stigma, lower self confidence and reduced self expectation.