What’s In A Political Slogan?

Jan 26 2015 @ 5:22pm


Election guru Larry Sabato finds that slogans are often “simplistic and manufactured, but the best ones fire up the troops and live on in history.” His unsolicited advice for Hillary and Jeb:

The last time she ran for president, then-Sen. Clinton used “The Strength and Experience to Bring Real Change.” That was workmanlike—and boring. At least for the ’16 Democratic contest, she’d be better off with “Let’s Make History Again” coupled with the Helen Reddy tune “I Am Woman.” Don’t forget, about 57 percent of Democratic presidential primary voters are women.

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This Extraordinary Pope, Ctd

Jan 26 2015 @ 4:44pm

A reader puts it well:

It seems to me that this is pretty big Pope news; he had a private audience with a transgender man and his fiancee. It’s inconceivable that such a meeting would have occurred with either of the two previous Popes. Which is a pretty sad indictment of them, in that Jesus clearly would have had such a meeting.

Mental Health Break

Jan 26 2015 @ 4:20pm

Moving forward, backwards:

Maria Konnikova examines the research of Angela de Bruin:

De Bruin isn’t refuting the notion that there are advantages to being bilingual: some studies that she reviewed really did show an edge. But the advantage is neither global nor pervasive, as often reported.

Where learning another language does pay dividends:

One of the areas where the bilingual advantage appears to be most persistent isn’t related to a particular skill or task: it’s a general benefit that seems to help the aging brain. Adults who speak multiple languages seem to resist the effects of dementia far better than monolinguals do.

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Why Berlin Meant Boys

Jan 26 2015 @ 3:40pm

In a review of Robert Beachy’s Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity, Alex Ross ponders why the city proved a relatively hospitable place for a thriving gay subculture that emerged at the turn of the 20th century. One reason? A deep and abiding connection between Romanticism and German culture:

Close to the heart of the Romantic ethos was the idea that heroic individuals could attain the freedom to make their own laws, in defiance of society. Literary figures pursued a cult of friendship that bordered on the homoerotic, although most of the time the fervid talk of embraces and kisses remained just talk.

But the poet August von Platen’s paeans to soldiers and gondoliers had a more specific import:

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“They Think, Therefore I Am”

Jan 26 2015 @ 3:21pm

Yatzchak Francus has discovered for himself that “having recovered from a brain injury is vastly different from having recovered from any other injury”:

No one thinks that a broken leg or a kidney stone or pneumonia fundamentally changes the essence of who you are. But when you’ve had a brain injury, people don’t believe that you are quite the same, although no one will actually say so. Perhaps it is the expression of a universal personal terror. The brain is who we are in the most fundamental sense. We are what we think, and we think with our brain. Not for nothing does Descartes’ summation endure.

The perceptions of my injury endure as well.

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The Meaning Of ’90s Sitcoms, Ctd

Jan 26 2015 @ 3:00pm

Many readers aren’t buying Ruth Graham’s view that Friends, and especially Chandler, were homophobic:

I’m sorry, but Friends is mocking homophobia, not displaying it. As a soon-to-be married gay man, I find the idea that this relatively recent show being representative of some benighted era to be an example of ridiculous outrage-mongering.

Another sees “no nastiness in the Chandler bits”:

They aren’t so much about the fear of being gay as they are part of a larger theme of the character – his insecurity – which plays itself out in a number of ways.

Another reader:

First, I grow tired of peeling apart 1994 shows with 2015 sensibilities. Second, the author of that piece has not acknowledged a major part of Chandler’s story:

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“An Atheist’s Week Of Dish”

Jan 26 2015 @ 2:45pm

A reader spells it out:

Monday: Man, these guys work hard.
Tuesday: Pretty good opinion piece.
Wednesday: Wow, that was an amazing amount of great content.
Thursday: Sully’s a great fucking editor.
Friday: Okay, that really made me think.
Saturday: Totally worth the subscription.
Sunday: Oh, for fuck’s sake.

That’s not a complaint. If only everyone nailed six out of seven.


SkyMall, surely the most interesting thing to read in your seat-back pocket, looks like it’s folding. Roberto Ferdman sums up the news:

SkyMall made its business over the past 25 years by entertaining commercial airline passengers and, occasionally, persuading them to purchase whimsical, often expensive products, including a $1,000 serenity cat pod, a $2,250 garden yeti statue and a $16,000 personal sauna system. But the company has suffered at the hands of recent changes to airline policy, which have given passengers alternative means of entertainment and flooded them with different avenues for online purchasing. The permitted use of smartphones on commercial flights has usurped the magazine’s place as the de facto way to pass the time while cruising at 30-some-odd thousand feet in the air. And the growing number of airlines providing in-flight Internet service has not only further eaten into the catalogue’s bread and butter but also paved the way for more competition in the form of online retailers.

A nostalgic Emily Dreyfuss reflects on the end of an in-flight era:

SkyMall was a tradition. An absurd, capitalistic embodiment of everything that was shallow and wrong with our lives, and yet it also brought us comfort. No matter if the plane was delayed, or we were stuck alone on a layover, missing whichever parent we were leaving, missing the friends and the life we were leaving behind each time we went between homes, it was there to make us laugh. To let us roll our eyes. To surprise us with a new level of novelty and frivolity.

SkyMall, that stupid wonderful completely American wonder that, with its insistence that you take your own free copy, announced it was your right as a human in the ‘90s to never not be shopping. Never not be consuming.

Joe Pinsker thinks through the value SkyMall has provided for businesses:

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Rather than religion, a reader points to the “double-blind experiment” as our greatest innovation:

It’s the means by which we can finally escape the illogical and incorrect claims of religion and discover the way the universe actually works.

Another is more critical:

Yuval Noah Harari has got to be joking; religion is one of humanity‘s worst inventions. The scientific method ranks far higher, the products of the enlightenment rank far higher. Why does systemic enforcement of belief in myth rank higher than actually figuring out how the universe works?

Another is even more blunt:

“Without some kind of religion, it is simply impossible to maintain social order.” What a bunch of self-severing theist bull crap.

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