It's not one of his better songs. There are hilariously pretentious lines here, including the indefensible "Mister Reagan says we will protect you / I don't subscribe to this point of view," sung with unaccountable emphasis on "point" and the first syllable of "protect." The failed meter is more repulsive than the politics.
I had the chance to take this up with Sting last March in Bombay, India. I was going into the Taj Hotel after a very late night at Leopold's, the cafe around the corner. The Taj and Leopold's were two of the sites attacked on November 26, 2008, when terrorists raided Bombay and killed 167. The Taj's security is understandably tight, with metal detectors and concrete barriers that create a small but permanent snarl of people waiting to enter and exit the hotel. Sting, or someone who looked just like him, was in front of the hotel with two women, among those on the way out.
At the time, Sting was in the news for his decision to play a concert in Uzbekistan for the daughter of President Islam Karimov. Karimov is accused of boiling his opponents to death. Sting reportedly took between two and three million dollars for the concert, which he claimed was sponsored by Unicef for some reason.
I turned back and asked him, "Are you Sting?"
His expression turned dead, and he stared off into the distance before saying, "No." I laughed. I had met Sting's wife, Trudy Styler, once before, and she was standing next to him. If the guy wasn't Sting, Styler certainly had a type.
"Are you sure you're not Sting?" I asked. He was sure, and kept looking off expressionless into the humid darkness of Front Bay. It was getting late, and not wanting to make him deny himself thrice before the crowing of the cock, I laughed again, wished him a good night, and went inside.
The next day I ate lunch by the Taj pool with Eli Lake of The Washington Times and Michael Kennedy of NPR. Sting was at the next table, but we left him alone. Then, as I sipped a dessert smoothie, Sting walked up and crouched by my chair. He wore a tattered blue t-shirt tight enough to reveal a lean, extremely healthy physique.
"Hi," he said. "I'm Sting. Sorry about last night when I said I wasn't Sting. The truth is, my wife and I were having a bit of a row, and, well...." He struggled a second for words. "It's nice to be Sting, but sometimes you really don't want to be Sting." We talked for a couple minutes before he shook my hand, apologized again, and sprang up to leave.
I found the gesture so charming that I forgot my quarrel with him, either about his crappiest lyrics or his tarnished human rights record.
He may be Sting, I thought, but he's not completely a prick.
For decades, the candidate has willfully inflicted pain and humiliation.
Donald J. Trump has a cruel streak. He willfully causes pain and distress to others. And he repeats this public behavior so frequently that it’s fair to call it a character trait. Any single example would be off-putting but forgivable. Being shown many examples across many years should make any decent person recoil in disgust.
Judge for yourself if these examples qualify.
* * *
In national politics, harsh attacks are to be expected. I certainly don’t fault Trump for calling Hillary Clinton dishonest, or wrongheaded, or possessed of bad judgment, even if it’s a jarring departure from the glowing compliments that he used to pay her.
But even in a realm where the harshest critiques are part of the civic process, Trump crossed a line this week when he declared his intention to invite Gennifer Flowers to today’s presidential debate. What kind of man invites a husband’s former mistress to an event to taunt his wife? Trump managed to launch an attack that couldn’t be less relevant to his opponent’s qualifications or more personally cruel. His campaign and his running-mate later said that it was all a big joke. No matter. Whether in earnest or in jest, Trump showed his tendency to humiliate others.
In a unique, home-spun experiment, researchers found that centripetal force could help people pass kidney stones—before they become a serious health-care cost.
East Lansing, Michigan, becomes a ghost town during spring break. Families head south, often to the theme parks in Orlando. A week later, the Midwesterners return sunburned and bereft of disposable income, and, urological surgeon David Wartinger noticed, some also come home with fewer kidney stones.
Wartinger is a professor emeritus at Michigan State, where he has dealt for decades with the scourge of kidney stones, which affect around one in 10 people at some point in life. Most are small, and they pass through us without issue. But many linger in our kidneys and grow, sending hundreds of thousands of people to emergency rooms and costing around $3.8 billion every year in treatment and extraction. The pain of passing a larger stone is often compared to child birth.
There's no good evidence that the invasive policing strategy brought down crime. The real question is what made crime rates climb in the first place. This post is part of a debate series on “Is Stop and Frisk Worth It?," an article featured in the current issue of The Atlantic magazine.
When former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly was asked what would happen if stop-and-frisk were curtailed, his response was characteristic of his tenure: “No question about it,” he said “violent crime will go up.” When homicides rose in Chicago, Chicagoans clamored for NYPD-style stop-and-frisk. The same premise is repeated by proponents of stop-and-frisk throughout Daniel Bergner’s illuminating Atlantic article: if you want to reduce crime, you have to be willing to suffer more aggressive policing tactics.
In reality, there’s no good reason to assume that these strategies work to reduce crime. David Greenberg has conducted the most comprehensive analysis of the relationship between the NYPD’s practice of stop-and-frisk and crime levels to date, and he finds “no evidence that misdemeanor arrests reduced levels of homicide, robbery, or aggravated assaults.”
Who will win the debates? Trump’s approach was an important part of his strength in the primaries. But will it work when he faces Clinton onstage?
The most famous story about modern presidential campaigning now has a quaint old-world tone. It’s about the showdown between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy in the first debate of their 1960 campaign, which was also the very first nationally televised general-election debate in the United States.
The story is that Kennedy looked great, which is true, and Nixon looked terrible, which is also true—and that this visual difference had an unexpected electoral effect. As Theodore H. White described it in his hugely influential book The Making of the President 1960, which has set the model for campaign coverage ever since, “sample surveys” after the debate found that people who had only heard Kennedy and Nixon talking, over the radio, thought that the debate had been a tie. But those who saw the two men on television were much more likely to think that Kennedy—handsome, tanned, non-sweaty, poised—had won.
Communal living is hardly a departure from tradition—it's a return to how humans have been making their homes for thousands of years.
For most of human history, people were hunter-gatherers. They lived in large camps, depending on one another for food, childcare, and everything else—all without walls, doors, or picket fences. In comparison, the number of people living in most households in today’s developed countries is quite small. According to the Census Bureau, fewer than three people lived in the average American household in 2010. The members of most American households can be counted on one hand, or even, increasingly, one finger: Single-person households only made up about 13 percent of all American households in 1960. Now, that figure is about 28 percent.
Belonging to a relatively small household has become the norm even though it can make daily life more difficult in many ways. Privacy may be nice, but cooking and doing chores become much less time-consuming when shared with an additional person, or even several people. Water, electric, and internet bills also become more bearable when divided among multiple residents. There are social downsides to living alone, too. Many elderly people, young professionals, stay-at-home parents, and single people routinely spend long stretches of time at home alone, no matter how lonely they may feel; more distressingly, many single parents face the catch-22 of working and paying for childcare. Living in smaller numbers can be a drain on money, time, and feelings of community, and the rise of the two-parent dual-earning household only compounds the problems of being time-poor.
A new study of pregnant women finds nausea and vomiting are associated with a reduced risk of miscarriage.
People are always saying the wrong thing to pregnant women.
Expectant mothers hear everything from the obnoxious (“You’re huge!”) to the outright bizarre (“If you eat that Sriracha, your baby will come out bald”).
Then there are the well-meaning—yet utterly unhelpful—superstitions and platitudes: “I can tell from how you’re carrying that it’s a girl.” (No, you can’t.) “At least the terrible sleep you’re getting now is great preparation for all those sleepless nights you’re going to have with baby!” (Bone-splitting exhaustion is not something you need to practice ahead of time.) “But morning sickness means your baby is healthy!”
Actually, there might be something to that last one.
Pregnant women have long been told that feeling miserable every single day for several months may indicate that a developing baby is doing well—especially in the first trimester, when nausea and vomiting are most common. Now, there’s more science to support the idea.
The Republican nominee, stumping for black votes, espouses a policy that’s ineffective, often unconstitutional, and generally unpopular with African Americans.
At a town-hall-style forum hosted by Sean Hannity and airing Wednesday night, Donald Trump was asked what he’d do about black-on-black crime. His answer, reported by NBC’s Alexandra Jaffe, is worth reading in full:
Right, well, one of the things I’d do, Ricardo, is I would do stop-and-frisk. I think you have to. We did it in New York, it worked incredibly well and you have to be proactive, you know, you really help people sort of change their mind automatically, you understand, you have to, in my opinion, I see what’s going on here, I see what’s going on in Chicago, I think stop-and-frisk. In New York City it was so incredible, the way it worked. Now, we had a very good mayor, but New York City was incredible, the way that worked, so I think that could be one step you could do.
The Donald J. Trump Foundation reportedly used $258,000, most of it other people’s money, to settle legal disputes for the Republican nominee.
For people at certain income levels, finding creative ways to avoid taxes is practically a leisure sport. Donald Trump, golf and casino magnate that he is, would never miss out on a leisure sport, would be?
In a new article, The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold, who’s already collected a series of scoops on the Donald J. Trump Foundation, reports that Trump sometimes had people who owed him money pay his foundation instead—to the tune of at least $2.3 million. That’s legal, provided that the person who would have received the income still pays taxes on the money, which is where things get unclear. A Trump adviser initially denied that Trump had ever directed fees to his foundation, but when presented with evidence that he had a $400,000 fee for appearing on a Comedy Central roast (nice work if you can get it) sent to the foundation, the adviser said Trump had paid taxes on it. But he refused to say whether Trump had paid taxes on the rest of the $2.3 million.
See how your own perception of crime in America stacks up against the reality.
Americans don’t feel safe. More than half worry “a great deal” about crime and violence, the highest rate seen in 15 years. Nearly the same proportion believe shootings will become more common over the next decade. And doesn’t it feel like things are getting worse? Each week offers a new horror—the massacre in Orlando, five dead officers in Dallas, a man bleeding out before the world on Facebook Live. “Crime is out of control, and rapidly getting worse,” Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday. “Not good!”
So let’s try something. In the chart below, click the red dot and trace out your best guess for how the murder rate changed between 1985 and 2014. I’ll show you the rest of the story once you’re done. (Hat tip to the folks at The New York Times, who tried this before with college attendance.)