Our roundtable discusses “Hardhome,” the eighth episode of the fifth season.
... according to the campaign ads running on TV in this year's U.S. presidential race.
Our roundtable discusses “Hardhome,” the eighth episode of the fifth season.
The cultural, political, and technological roots of a fraught piece of cotton
On Aug. 18, 2011, a thread titled “I design tampons. AMA!” appeared on the news-conversation website Reddit. Hosted by a user named “karnim” who identified himself only as a college-aged male research-and-development intern at one of the “big three” tampon brands (Tampax, Kotex, and Playtex), the thread began with a polite invitation to “ask me anything” (AMA) and a disclaimer. “Much of my work is confidential, so I can't give details about my projects,” karnim wrote, but he could answer “overall” questions about tampons.
In the grander canon of AMA threads—online Q&A sessions hosted by Reddit users with compelling life stories or careers—karnim’s wasn’t the most glamorous or flashy. President Obama, for example, participated in an AMA in 2012. But karnim soon found himself avalanched with reader questions about tampon technology, ranging from the curious (“Why don't they just stop making the cardboard ones?”) to the wisecracking (“Can you make medicated tampons to make women stop actin’ fool when they get their menses?”) to the imploring (“Can you please make tampons with a black or flesh-coloured string? Please?” “How about one that you can leave in for 10 hours and not worry about it?”).
New research confirms what they say about nice guys.
Smile at the customer. Bake cookies for your colleagues. Sing your subordinates’ praises. Share credit. Listen. Empathize. Don’t drive the last dollar out of a deal. Leave the last doughnut for someone else.
Sneer at the customer. Keep your colleagues on edge. Claim credit. Speak first. Put your feet on the table. Withhold approval. Instill fear. Interrupt. Ask for more. And by all means, take that last doughnut. You deserve it.
Follow one of those paths, the success literature tells us, and you’ll go far. Follow the other, and you’ll die powerless and broke. The only question is, which is which?
Of all the issues that preoccupy the modern mind—Nature or nurture? Is there life in outer space? Why can’t America field a decent soccer team?—it’s hard to think of one that has attracted so much water-cooler philosophizing yet so little scientific inquiry. Does it pay to be nice? Or is there an advantage to being a jerk?
The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
What is the Islamic State?
Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
The woman once known as Bruce Jenner is embracing her role as a public figure. But it’s impossible to forget that hers is a personal struggle, too.
At first, you might not recognize the woman on the cover of the new Vanity Fair. I didn’t, for a second. The text certainly isn’t helpful—just one line, “Call me Caitlyn.” Who is Caitlyn? Then you really look at the face and realize it’s the person who the public has known as Bruce Jenner, the Olympic medalist and Kardashian patriarch who recently came out as a woman.
This process of recognition is, of course, part of the point. Jenner is, for the first time in public, dressing herself in women’s clothes and going by a woman’s name. The explanation for why is inside Buzz Bissinger’s long profile of her, but the simplicity of the cover says that you aren’t owed an explanation. Many transgender people have spoken about the desire to be seen for who they are, not who they used to be. I always think about the lyrics to the title track on Transgender Dysphoria Blues, the first album that Against Me! put out after singer Thomas James Gabel announced herself as Laura Jane Grace: “You want them to notice the ragged ends of your summer dress. You want them to see you like they see every other girl.”
The Supreme Court rules that a woman should not have been denied a job over her head scarf, but a Muslim chaplain says her hijab made her a target of discrimination on an airline flight.
The Supreme Court hasn’t been shy recently about protecting religious freedom. In an 8-1 decision released Monday morning, the justices ruled that Abercrombie and Fitch violated Samantha Elauf’s rights when it denied her a job at a store because Elauf, an observant Muslim, wore a headscarf. But that ringing decision arrived against a backdrop of disturbing incidents that demonstrate the persistent gap between the legal protections afforded to religious minorities in America and the functional discrimination many still face on a daily basis.
Abercrombie contended that its dress policy wasn’t discriminatory, because it applied to all head coverings and not just religious ones, and that Elauf should have requested accommodation. But the Court resoundingly rejected that reasoning in an opinion written by Justice Antonin Scalia. The decision was nearly unanimous: Justice Clarence Thomas concurred in part, but dissented in part as well.
Lindsey Graham, who announces his run Monday, stands little chance of winning the Republican nomination but hopes to influence debates on national security.
For Lindsey Graham, the timing couldn’t be better. The Republican senator from South Carolina is announcing a run for president Monday in the town of Central, just as key provisions of the PATRIOT Act are expiring. For a candidate who has made a hawkish platform the central—and practically sole—centerpiece of a campaign, it’s fortuitous timing.
Few analysts offer Graham much of a chance to win the race—although as Molly Ball points out, if you look at him from the right angle, he seems like a natural candidate. It might make the most sense to think about Graham as a Republican counterpart to Bernie Sanders. Both men hail from smaller states where they maintain strong wells of support. Both were elected to the House of Representatives in the 1990s and jumped to the Senate in the 2000s. And both are running campaigns that may be long shots, but aren’t really vanity campaigns. Sanders has already reframed the debate on the Democratic side, and Graham would like to guarantee there’s a loud, hawkish voice in the mix as the GOP chooses its candidate for 2016.
What’s behind the urge to keep feminine products hidden?
The key word is “discreet,” apparently.
“Tampax Compak has a smooth plastic applicator that is half the length of a usual Tampax Cardboard applicator, making it twice as discreet to carry.”
“New! Neat! Discreet!” proclaims an 80s-tastic ad for Playtex Portables.
“The original o.b. tampon … was revolutionary in the world of tampons and played to women's need for discreet yet reliable protection.”
Tampax Compak is apparently so discreet, according to one old commercial, that a teacher mistakes it for a piece of candy, and asks his student to bring it to the front of the class when he catches her passing it to a friend.
You would think once he held it and felt the hard plastic applicator within the wrapper he would figure it out—tampons and candy bars don’t really have similar tactile sensations. But no. “I hope you brought enough for everyone,” he says, sternly.
Some spoiler-y speculation on the final three episodes
With only three episodes left to go, Game of Thrones looks as though it once again has a lot of ground to cover before wrapping up a season. And so, for the curious and impatient among you, I’ll do my best to offer some quasi-informed speculation about what we might reasonably expect in these final weeks.
Note: I haven’t seen any of the remaining episodes, but I have read the books. The first five items below are spoiler-y, but the predictions in them do not derive from the George R. R. Martin novels. Rather, they’re guesswork based on what’s already happened on the show and on tidbits scattered across the web: a behind-the-scenes photo here, a close-read of a trailer there. (They could all, of course, turn out to be completely wrong.) The last four items, however, are based at least in part on events that take place in A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, so non-book-readers may want to skip them. And obviously anyone, book-reader or not, who’d prefer to go into these final episodes without preconceptions—who doesn’t want to know at least some of what will (probably) happen—should stop reading now.
Was it U.S. vengefulness or a concert of vague “dark forces” that led to the indictment of 14 soccer officials?
Perhaps no human endeavor inspires the turning of more conspiratorial gears than professional sports. From Michael Jordan’s eyebrow-raising first retirement to Sonny Liston’s suspicious fall against Muhammed Ali to Curt Schilling’s bloody sock, the quest to identify corrupting forces is a sport unto itself.
Of course, when it comes to the world’s most popular game, the Internet is practically one enormous smoke-filled room. Last week’s arrest of several FIFA officials and executives, which preceded the surreally tidy re-election of FIFA head Sepp Blatter, appeared to be unimpeachable proof of true sports wickedness—corruption, graft, shadowy dealings, thrown bidding processes—the very salt and meat of evil connivances.
From the poodle cut to the mohawk, a century of follicle fashion
An illustration of mankind's creativity when it comes to killing
Imagine a world where everyone sleeps well, because no one sleeps together.