Strange as Croatia's "Cravat Day" on October 18 may sound to an American, this celebration actually commemorates an element of national heritage. Croatia, after all, claims to have pioneered that most ubiquitous of modern accessories: the necktie.
"Croat" and "cravat," in fact, are etymologically linked, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. They were originally different variations of the same word: "The troops are filled with Cravates and Tartars, Hussars and Cossacs," reads a sentence by David Hume in 1752. Or take the even more comical statement from Daniel Defoe in 1720 (highlighting the alternate spelling, with a "b"): "We fell foul with 200 Crabats."
The cravat apparently came to Western Europe in the 17th century, courtesy of Croatian mercenaries. Perhaps appropriately, the modern Cravat Day has an origin of similarly mixed cultural-commercial flavor. In 1990, Croats Marijan Bušić and Zlatko Penavić founded the Zagreb-based company Potomac D.O.O. According to the company's website, it was intended to fulfill Bušić's high school dream of "creating an authentic medium which would act as a mediator in the presentation of Croatia to the world." The medium Bušić settled on, after partnering with trade-savy Penavić, was the necktie. Accordingly, in 1997 the firm founded the non-profit Academia Cravatica. "By spreading the truth about the cravat," the Academia Cravatica proclaims, "we improve Croatia's image in international public. The fact that Croats invented the Cravat makes us proud to be Croats."
On the other hand, by acknowledging the role of the French people in [the] cravat's history (who had recognised this ornament on Croatian soldiers), the role of the English people (who had spread it across the world) and the role of other nations which had embraced the cravat, we want to promote partnership between the Croats and other nations as well.
Accordingly, Cravat Day debuted on October 18, 2003, when Bušić and the Academia Cravatica undertook to wrap a giant red necktie around the Roman arena in Pula. The installation proved popular enough that the team has promoted Cravat day on each October 18 since, with some spontaneous commemorations across Croatia lending momentum to the project. In 2008, the Croatian Parliament unanimously declared October 18 the "Day of the Cravat."
Opponents of so-called Hallmark holidays, make of this what you will. At the very least, there's an element of genuine national heritage here. Also, there are some rather pretty horses. Below, a few images of Cravat Day in 2003 and a traditional guard exchange ceremony just prior to Cravat Day in 2010, which staged similar ceremonies.
An image of the installation "A Cravat Around the Arena" on October 18, 2003. (Courtesy of Academia Cravatica)
Soldiers in traditional uniforms participate in a changing of the guard ceremony in St. Mark's Square in Zagreb in 2010. The traditional dress includes a bright red cravat. (Nicola Solic/Reuters)
Further traditional military uniforms for the guard exchange. Aren't you glad it's the necktie, rather than the cap on the horseman, that's become traditional business apparel? (Nicola Solic/Reuters)
Soldiers in traditional uniform march past spectators in 2010. Cravat Day celebrations include a ceremony of military units wearing cravats. (Nicola Solik/Reuters)
The Onion had a problem: It fell behind the times. The mock newspaper hadn’t printed an issue on actual paper since 2013, and in the period since, it never redesigned its website. As the media world changed—as the New York Times and the Washington Post adapted the ways they published stories online—The Onion lost a key satirical weapon. Visually, it no longer looked like many of the publications it parodied. And so, like it had done many times before, The Onion tagged along.
In 2008, I was elected governor of Delaware. In politics, timing is everything. You can be a fantastic candidate and run in a bad year for your party and get clobbered. You can be an absolute dud and run in the right year and get the brass ring. 2008 was a good year to be a Democrat.
But beyond the political benefit, my timing was awful. A month before I took office at the depths of the Great Recession, Chrysler closed its assembly plant in Newark, my hometown. A few months after my inauguration, General Motors shuttered its plant a few miles away. That fall, Valero closed its refinery. Those three employers had represented the best opportunities for high school graduates to get middle-class jobs for decades. Within a year, all were gone.
In her new book No One Understands You and What To Do About It, Heidi Grant Halvorson tells readers a story about her friend, Tim. When Tim started a new job as a manager, one of his top priorities was communicating to his team that he valued each member’s input. So at team meetings, as each member spoke up about whatever project they were working on, Tim made sure he put on his “active-listening face” to signal that he cared about what each person was saying.
But after meeting with him a few times, Tim’s team got a very different message from the one he intended to send. “After a few weeks of meetings,” Halvorson explains, “one team member finally summoned up the courage to ask him the question that had been on everyone’s mind.” That question was: “Tim, are you angry with us right now?” When Tim explained that he wasn’t at all angry—that he was just putting on his “active-listening face”—his colleague gently explained that his active-listening face looked a lot like his angry face.
When The Last Man on Earth debuted in March to critical praise and surprisingly strong ratings, it felt like a notable anomaly on network television. In its spare opening episode, creator/star Will Forte's vision of the post-apocalypse Earth featured a white-trash Monsieur Hulot-type wreaking wanton property destruction in Tucson and pilfering antiquities from the Smithsonian in an effort to stave off the crushing emptiness of the world. When another character (played by Kristen Schaal) entered the scene, it initially felt like sweet relief—someone for Forte's shellshocked wanderer to play off of—but then more people started rolling in, and the show became something far more nightmarish: a vision of the dating life of a single, entitled, American thirtysomething.
Infomercials are fond of marketing strategies that rely on a theory of psychological pricing. You don't pay a flat fee for your Shake Weight or Magic Bullet or Ginsu Knife; you dish out three easy payments. And your payments aren't $40, of course; they're $39.99.
Most of us, for better but probably for worse, are familiar with the sneaky logic of infomercials. That doesn't mean, however, that we are immune to their charms. Nor are we immune to the pull—ironic, and also very much not—of the products that are sold to us in the late night and early morning, our most vulnerable hours, via charismatic pitchmen and sad-sack stand-ins for human frailty. Oxyclean. The PedEgg. The Pocket Hose. The Clapper. The Socket Dock. The food dehydrator. GLH. Which is, I mean, hair that you spray onto your scalp! Even the most savvy consumers among us can find ourselves ensnared by the bleary promise of life-improvement that can be ours, we are told, for only two easy payments of $19.95 (plus shipping and handling).
The question that most people ask themselves as they walk into their boss's office to negotiate their salaries is likely some variant of "What am I going to say?" But according to hostage negotiator Chris Voss, that might be the least important thing to keep in mind when negotiating.
Voss, now an adjunct professor at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business, spent 24 years at the FBI. It was as an FBI agent that he started to get interested in hostage negotiations. At the time, a supervisor told him to start by volunteering at a suicide hotline to gain the set of listening abilities that a hostage negotiator needs. By 1992, he was training at the FBI's school for negotiators, and from 2004 to 2007, he was the FBI's lead international hostage negotiator. After retirement, Voss founded The Black Swan Group to bring negotiation know-how to the business world.
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.
In 2004, two women who were long past college age settled into a dorm room at a large public university in the Midwest. Elizabeth Armstrong, a sociology professor at the University of Michigan, and Laura Hamilton, then a graduate assistant and now a sociology professor at the University of California at Merced, were there to examine the daily lives and attitudes of college students. Like two Jane Goodalls in the jungle of American young adulthood, they did their observing in the students’ natural habitat.
The researchers interviewed the 53 women on their floor every year for five years—from the time they were freshmen through their first year out of college.
Their findings about the students’ academic success later formed the basis for Paying for the Party, their recent book about how the college experience bolsters inequality. They found that the women’s “trajectories were shaped not only by income ... but also by how much debt they carried, how much financial assistance they could expect from their parents, their social networks, and their financial prospects.”
Rioting broke out on Monday in Baltimore—an angry response to the death of Freddie Gray, a death my native city seems powerless to explain. Gray did not die mysteriously in some back alley but in the custody of the city's publicly appointed guardians of order. And yet the mayor of that city and the commissioner of that city's police still have no idea what happened. I suspect this is not because the mayor and police commissioner are bad people, but because the state of Maryland prioritizes the protection of police officers charged with abuse over the citizens who fall under its purview.
The citizens who live in West Baltimore, where the rioting began, intuitively understand this. I grew up across the street from Mondawmin Mall, where today's riots began. My mother was raised in the same housing project, Gilmor Homes, where Freddie Gray was killed. Everyone I knew who lived in that world regarded the police not with admiration and respect but with fear and caution. People write these feelings off as wholly irrational at their own peril, or their own leisure. The case against the Baltimore police, and the society that superintends them, is easily made: