Caroline Mimbs Nyce
Caroline Mimbs Nyce
Caroline Mimbs Nyce is an associate editor at The Atlantic.
  • Your Oxford Comments

    Calling all friends and foes of the serial comma! In just a few moments, we’ll be tackling the greatest grammatical debate of our time: Should you use an Oxford comma? Emma Green, having previously defended all-things Oxford comma, will be advocating for said comma on Facebook Live at 3pm EST today. Meanwhile, we welcome your arguments against, and you can submit them to me in real-time, so be sure to tune in!

    While we wait, here are four arguments submitted by readers already.

    The confusion argument:

    Here’s a fun one for you. “I had a party last weekend. I invited the president, Barack Obama, and three of my friends.”

    So: How many people did I invite? If the correct answer is five (which it is, because I invited the president of something other than the United States), that means that the Oxford comma created confusion that could have been avoided if I'd omitted it. “I invited the president, Barack Obama and three of my friends” clearly indicates that Barack Obama and the president, in this context, are separate people.

    And before you say “this is a preposterous example where confusion could be easily avoided by an author with good sense,” realize that you now know exactly how I feel about every sentence trotted out in defense of the Oxford comma by its fans.

    The “speedbump on an exit ramp” argument:

    At the risk of offending E.B. White and William Strunk, Kill The Oxford Comma. It’s like a speedbump on an exit ramp. It jars you and serves no purpose. The word “and” already tells you the next word is part of the list. You don't need an unnatural pause before it.

    And yes, I have 30 years in print journalism.

    The “sometimes I use it, sometimes I don’t” argument:

    I think it’s so funny how people get super heated about it! Sometimes it makes sense to use it and sometimes it doesn’t. So sometimes I use it and sometimes I don’t! (Which I fully realize is blasphemy to many. And I was trained as a journo to us AP style.) If the meaning of your sentence is changed by your punctuation, then you need to look at your whole sentence structure, not just the comma. It’s a symptom of unclear writing.

    The racism/elitism argument:

  • When Teaching Girls Karate Doesn’t Stop Sexual Assault

    An earlier reader, who anonymously shared her story, pushes back on the suggestion that karate could offer a solution for sexual assault:

    Interesting discussion. Thank you for including a variety of responses. I admire the father’s determination to teach his daughter self defense by sending a painful joint lock lesson in the event someone has trouble respecting his daughter’s “no.” It is very important to teach children to say “no” and have their choices respected. It is important to give our children permission and tips to defend themselves. Loving parents hope their children will be successful in defending themselves.

    I truly wish karate and other self defenses (i.e. pepper spray, whistles, or a weapon)  were the answer to rape prevention. I also pray his daughter is successful if the time ever comes to use karate. I hope she swings into action like all the tough superheroes on television and in the movies. I cheer her on. And applaud her parents and instructors.

    I tried to fight. I didn’t win. I was outnumbered and drugged.

  • Talking to Teenagers About Sexual Assault

    Jorge Silva / Reuters

    In response to our callout, several parents of teenage boys wrote in, sharing their experiences—and offering their best advice for others. Here are three of their stories.

    First up is Donald White, the father of two boys, who responds to Juleyka:

    Dear Mother of Boys,

    I applaud you for your piece in The Atlantic. I chose to share it on Facebook, hoping your modeling suggestions are followed by other parents. I will share aspects of how I parent my sons, ages 19 and 16.

    The Stanford rape piece is so very sad. From my point of view, Brock’s father failed as a role model for his son. It seems Brock did not learn to respect and treasure women. His behavior supports this theory.

    I believe our children are brilliant and, when helped with effective parental guidance, can make effective, smart choices if and when they face a difficult situation. In life, we all face challenging situations. I talk to my boys candidly about drinking, drunk driving, sex, STDs, unwanted pregnancy, and death resulting from bad choices that could have been prevented. I do not hold back; I use real-life examples to make strong points. I was an RA in college and saw many poor choices regarding alcohol, driving, vandalism, unwanted pregnancy, and more.

    He continues:

  • The Big Stories This Week: The Orlando Shooting, The Death of Jo Cox, and More

    Danish Siddiqui / Reuters

    The Orlando Shooting

    A shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., left 49 dead—making it (arguably) the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. The president called it “an evil, hateful act.” The world mourned.

    Matt Thompson, who grew up in the city, reflects: “There will always be hateful men, but of love and understanding, there can never be enough.”

    The Death of Jo Cox

    As the U.S. processed the attack in Orlando, Great Britain saw its own brush with gun violence: MP Jo Cox—a mother of two and “a rising star in British politics”—was “attacked and sustained serious injuries from both a firearm and a knife.”

    Groups on both sides of the Brexit debate paused their campaigns in light of the attack. The country is set to vote on whether to stay in the European Union on June 23.

    A Little Piece of Papyrus, One Big Controversy

    If you have an affinity for mystery novels, this one’s for you: For the upcoming issue of our magazine, Ariel Sabar dives into the history of a “business-card-size papyrus” called the “The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife”—a document in which Jesus purportedly refers to having a wife.

    Within a day of Sabar’s piece being posted on our site, Karen King—the Harvard professor who first presented the document—responded in a big way.

    Trump V. Media

    Donald Trump’s love-hate relationship with the press shifted towards the latter side of the equation, with the presumptive Republican nominee pulling the press credentials of The Washington Post. “Nothing like this has happened before in modern times,” James Fallows argued.

    Meanwhile, Molly Ball challenged the assertion that the press has helped Trump’s ride: “The arguments that blame the media for Trump fall apart under the slightest scrutiny.” And David Graham analyzed what the press got right about Trump, on the one-year anniversary of Trump’s announcement that he was running for president.

    Five Things You Shouldn’t Miss

    Talk Back

    We’re still looking for readers to weigh in on how to talk to kids about rape, being Hmong American, and whether now is the time for American gun reform.  

    Email your responses to hello@theatlantic.com.

  • Teaching Kids Consent

    Jean-Paul Pelissier / Reuters

    The Stanford case left many feeling horrified—not least among them parents, who struggled to grasp the reality of “that could’ve been my kid.” A viral letter from Brock Turner’s father to the judge quickly brought parenting into the controversy. “Brock is not the victim here,” one North Carolina father shot back, according to The Washington Post. “His victim is the victim.”

    The high-profile case sparked a discussion in Notes: How should parents talk about rape and consent with their kids? First, Juleyka shared her story. “My sons are still very young, but when the time comes, we’ll have many conversations with them—about their bodies, about attraction, about permission and consent, about building love from friendship, and about accountability,” she wrote, inviting other parents to write in.

    Many readers—including some parents of kids under 5—responded to her callout. “I’ve been thinking about this topic since my son’s birth two years ago,” writes one primary school teacher and mother. She continues:

    Consent has as much to do with setting personal boundaries—for yourself and others—as it does with preventing sexual assault. Explaining consent to small children has little to do with sex, although it does help prevent sexual assault as well as giving children a voice if they are threatened by or actually assaulted at any age.

    Learning consent for small children means if you are tickling your best friend and she says to stop then you stop—even though you personally think tickles are the best. Consent means that when you're wrestling with your friend and you can tell he doesn't want to anymore, you stop—even if you love rough-housing and could wrestle forever.

  • Talking to Your Kids About Rape as a Survivor

    An anonymous reader shares her story:

    I was raped while I was in college, so I'm 1 in 6. I didn’t report it, and I washed all the evidence down the drain.

    I have a 25-year-old son and a 19-year-old daughter. We live in Maryland, my daughter goes to college in Los Angeles, and I fear my daughter becoming another statistic. We have discussed Brock Turner’s victim’s letter to the judge, the father’s letter, the friend’s letter, the hero’s action, and the judge’s poor sentencing. I hope the rape culture will change for them and all other women and men. 

    Rape at its core is about boundaries, so I intentionally began my discussion with my children about rape and assault when they were toddlers. They learned the proper words for their body parts. We also taught them that it is never too late to change their mind and to respect their friend’s choices. Safety was an important word and one of the first assessments we taught our children to do. I didn’t use the words assault or rape until they were entering middle school. However, I used every teachable moment to begin teaching them the value of their bodies, respect and compassion for others, responsibility for their actions, accountability, admitting hurt, and seeking help.

  • The Big Stories This Week: Clinton Becomes the Presumptive Nominee, the Stanford Rape Case, and More

    Jim Young / Reuters

    It’s Her Party

    “Hillary Clinton’s victory in the Democratic presidential primary may have been inevitable, but damned if she was going to let it be an afterthought,” Russell reports from New York, where he attended the candidate’s victory party—one held eight years to the day from when she conceded the 2008 Democratic primary. Clinton becomes the first woman to win a major-party nomination.

    Peter reflects on just how far she’s come, dubbing it “the greatest comeback by a presidential candidate since Richard Nixon won the Republican nomination in 1968, after losing the presidential election of 1960.” Oh, and that 2008 primary opponent, President Obama? He officially endorsed Clinton on Thursday.  

    All Eyes on Stanford Case

    Letters from a sexual-assault victim and her assailant’s father went viral, opening up a broader conversation about sexual assault. “This is an astounding moment,” Adrienne wrote, “in part because it’s so rare for sexual violence, despite its ubiquity, to garner this kind of attention.”

    But what happens when that attention goes away? She looks ahead: “Once the outcry over Turner’s sentence fades, and you can be sure it will, there’s little compelling evidence to think anything substantial will change in our cultural and judicial responses to sexual assault.”

    The Politics of Islam

    Is Islam exceptional? Shadi Hamid makes that argument: “Islam is distinctive in how it relates to politics—and this distinctiveness can be traced back to the religion’s founding moment in the seventh century,” he writes in an adaptation from his book. “Islam is different. This difference has profound implications for the future of the Middle East and, by extension, for the world in which we all live, whether we happen to be American, French, British, or anything else.”

    Emma sat down with Hamid for a Q&A, asking him about the reaction to the book and more.

    Revenge of the Sequel

    The appeal of the big screen may be getting smaller: Fewer Americans went to the movies so far this year, Derek reports.  And what’s more, their tastes are very particular: “The problem for Hollywood isn’t that audiences are ignoring sequels,” he says, referring to the movies that have been the “lifeblood” of the movie business. “The problem for Hollywood is that audiences are ignoring everything that isn’t a sequel, adaptation, or reboot.”

    Last month, David Sims noted the underperformance of some of this year’s sequels.

    Five Things You Shouldn’t Miss

    Talk Back

    We’re still looking for readers to weigh in the Sanders campaign, free will, and your views of America from the above.

    Email your responses to hello@theatlantic.com.

  • Orbital View: Oceans Edition

    It’s World Oceans Day, giving the astronauts circling above us (or those back here on planet Earth) the perfect opportunity to post their best ocean-themed ‘grams. Here’s one from a current resident of the International Space Station, NASA’s Jeff Williams:

     

    Happy #WorldOceansDay. It is easy to appreciate their beauty from up here.

    A photo posted by Jeff Williams (@astro_jeffw) on

    Meanwhile, British astronaut Tim Peake of the European Space Agency got a taste of some salt-water serendipity, flying over the same iceberg for a second time:

    And here’s former ISS resident Scott Kelly with a throwback:

  • ‘Welcome to Brand Iceland’

    We’ve spent some time in this space praising Iceland and its precious natural wonders. But it isn’t all fun and Northern lights up there: A reader named Ellen Girardeau Kempler sends over a hilarious satirical essay she wrote poking fun at the country’s tourism boom. Kempler spent some time in Iceland for a writer’s retreat, prompting her to provide “my reaction to the relentless marketing machine behind the branding of Iceland as a tourist destination.”

    Author’s Disclaimer: Brand Iceland is a tame and tourist-friendly destination created purely for marketing purposes. Any resemblance to the actual country of Iceland—home to a UNESCO City of Literature; a parliamentary system over 1,000 years old; a written history (as told in the Icelandic sagas) marked by battles with the elements and each other; and some of the planet’s wildest and most dangerous landscapes (including scalding geysers, pools and rivers; deadly rip currents; active volcanoes; yawning crevasses; unstable glaciers; moving tectonic plates; sheer, windswept cliffs; slippery mountain trails; volatile weather; and violent waterfalls)—is purely coincidental.

    The advertising onslaught begins as soon as you board an Icelandair jet and plug your own headset into the entertainment console (conveniently available for purchase, in case you forgot). Before every movie, television show or musical selection begins, you’ll learn about souvenirs and tours you MUST buy. To promote the airline’s winning strategy of letting visitors stay in Iceland for up to seven days on their way to other destinations, you’ll be asked to follow them and tag your photos #MyStopover for a chance to be featured in the in-flight magazine.

    Landing at Keflavik, you’ll spot familiar faces staring seductively from walls and shop windows, like the breathless, pale siren who whispers in the video ads, “Gee-SSSyr” (geysir—both the Icelandic word for geyser and the name of a clothing company). You’ll see highly enhanced, billboard-sized images of the moss-covered lava fields, blue-white glaciers, steaming geysers and soaking pools, rainbow-draped waterfalls, black sand beaches, bird-inhabited cliffs, glistening ice lagoons, shaggy horses, comical puffins, turf-covered houses, elfin-sized doors, shimmering Auroras and glowing (but never threatening) volcanoes you probably already recognize from such movies and television shows as Game of Thrones, Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and many more.

  • The Big Stories This Week: Dog Days of Summer, ‘Internet’ Gets Lowercased, and More

    Adrees Latif / Reuters

    I, Internet

    So long, Internet. Several publications and news outlets—ourselves included—moved away from the word’s uppercase styling. “Now it’s just the internet,” Ian writes in his elegy. “And like kleenex and googling, like asphalt and automobiles, it disappears into the background, wholly ordinary.”

    For more Atlantic early web nostalgia, read about the room where the internet was born or take a look at what “the cloud” looks like today.

    Dog Days of Summer

    “We raised puppies well before we raised kittens or chickens; before we herded cows, goats, pigs, and sheep; before we planted rice, wheat, barley, and corn; before we remade the world,” Ed writes in his new piece on the domestication of man’s best friend. Cheers to you, our four-legged friends. (Perhaps literally.)

    And fear not, cat people of the universe: Becca covered the domestication of our feline friends back in 2013.

  • It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Bernie Sanders

    Our readers, like us, are disappointed to learn that Bernie Sanders will not be skydiving into his rally in California tonight:

    Guys, we’re here for you. With some help from our photo editor, Alan Taylor, we decided to make it happen:

    Bernie Sanders campaign / Facebook / Philip Leara/ Flickr / Alan Taylor / The Atlantic

    Feel the wind, Bernie.

  • Discussing the Gender Politics of Legos

    Norsk Telegrambyra AS / Reuters

    Last week, Adrienne explored recent efforts by toy giant Lego to reach young girls. For example:

    In 2012, the toymaker launched Lego Friends—stylized on boxes with a heart dotting the “i,” and a butterfly hovering nearby—a new line designed for girls. The Friends line includes a pop star’s house, limousine, TV studio, recording studio, dressing room, and tour bus; a cupcake cafe; a giant treehouse; a supermarket; and a hair salon, among other construction sets.

    “For toymakers like Lego,” Adrienne wrote, “where is the line between making products children love and telling kids how they should play?”

    Companies like Lego say they’re just giving girls what they want. Critics say Lego is actually shaping what girls want, and likely to harmful effect. The reality for children is probably somewhere in the middle. And children, for better and worse, tend to simplify these complexities.

    An Atlantic reader and parent ponders where their daughter fits in all of this:

    I wonder where people would classify my girl who chose The Hobbit Lego sets, which have mostly brown and grey bricks with lots of characters ready to duel with one another. She does also like the “Elves” sets (more for girls), but she prefers The Hobbit and Star Wars.

    I can relate; I went through a serious Lego phase. One year, I asked for (and received) King Leo’s Castle for Christmas, a 500-piece, archetypal “castle”-themed Lego set featuring knights, a skeleton, and weaponry—a set, most likely, targeted at my male counterparts.  

    BrickLink.com

    But it was the girl minifigures that really rocked my world. I became deeply attached to a set featuring a female (!!!) pilot. (Thanks to BrickLink—a website that purports to be “the World’s Largest Lego® Marketplace”—I now know that it was the “Island Hopper” with “Miss Gail Storm.” Hats off to you, Miss Storm!) Years later, just looking at photos makes me squirm with excitement.

    I wonder where I’d fit in the new Lego universe. Would I have traded in my castle for a pink-roofed cupcake cafe from Lego Friends? My nine-year-old self definitely craved more female minifigures, but I didn’t mind my island-hopping plane set either. Maybe that’s part of the dilemma here: It’s hard to fit kids into (metaphorical) gender buckets.

    Several other readers are also drawing on their Lego experiences, including this one:

    My sister, brothers, and I all built stuff with the same generic primary colored Lego bricks. (And our dad yelled at all of us when he stepped on stray Lego bricks.) We all played with Tonka trucks as well. The biggest difference was that my sister was really into dolls and stuffed animals. (Barbie and the other dolls were the passengers in the Tonka trucks.)

  • Female Atlantic Writers From the '70s

    See ya later, ‘60s. We’re on the next stop of our tour of nonfiction pieces by female authors in our archives: the swinging ‘70s. This decade saw the Watergate scandal, the end of the Vietnam War, and Star Wars. And the ladies of The Atlantic were there, reporting on politics, culture, and more.

    Here’s a list of ten nonfiction works, one per year (and some of them were just digitized for the first time):

    Again, a shout-out to Sage for her assistance on this project. Next up, Nshira is bringing you the rollicking ‘80s ...

  • The Big Stories This Week: Obama in Hiroshima, Lego Debates, and More

    Carlos Barria / Reuters

    The Politics of Saying Sorry

    This week, Obama visited Hiroshima—the Japanese city on which the U.S. launched the first-ever atomic bomb strike—becoming the first sitting U.S. president to do so. There, he laid wreaths at a memorial to victims of the blast, met with survivors, and pushed for an end to nuclear warfare. One thing he didn’t do? Apologize for the attack.

    Should he have? Uri investigated the international “politics of apologizing”: “Setting aside the arguments for and against the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, what makes apologizing different for countries than for people?” And Alan compiled photos of Hiroshima—then and now.  

    Berning Bridges

    Another week down, still no Democratic nominee. “Is Sanders—the onetime liberal gadfly whose views few of his colleagues heeded—simply enjoying the spotlight’s validating glow for as long as it lasts?” Molly asked. “Or is he as delusional as some of his dead-ender fans? It’s impossible to tell."

    Either way, it’s probably not good for the party. And “with Trump stirring in these early polls, that healing process can’t start too soon to soothe the nerves of anxious Democrats,” Ron wrote. Last week, Clare hit on this: “As the Sanders campaign presses forward, it must carefully consider whether the senator’s ambition for a political revolution is a goal best achieved by actively stoking the anger of his supporters—and, in a sense, encouraging them to tear it all down.” Readers are weighing in on the race here.

    Brick by Brick

    “If you want to look at how a toy evolves over time, Legos are probably your best bet,” Julie wrote. She and Adrienne both delved into the plastic-brick manufacturer’s transitions over time—and what they say about our society.

    In 2012, the company launched its Friends line—which “includes a pop star’s house, limousine, TV studio, recording studio, dressing room, and tour bus; a cupcake cafe; a giant treehouse; a supermarket; and a hair salon”—targeted at young girls. Still, “Lego hasn’t been able to shake the perception that original Legos are for boys,” Adrienne writes. “Friends, not surprisingly, hasn’t helped.” Despite the rosy release, the overall amount of plastic weaponry in Lego sets has only increased: As Julie reported,“the proportion of sets [since 1978] that included weapons increased by an average of 7.6 percent annually.”

  • 'They Loudly Announced My Prowess'

    Charles Platiau / Reuters

    High-heel haters gonna hate. But below are a few (more) pro-heels arguments from readers. I love this one from Allyssa:

    My first pair of heels were burgundy pumps with pointed toes, ankle straps, and six inches of lift that were purchased with a single parent’s income from a department store clearance rack. For an undeniably awkward teenager, they didn’t just click as I walked through the halls at speech and debate tournaments. They loudly announced my prowess, my success, and my power. I became known as The Girl in the Red Shoes.  And I have never looked back.

  • Can School Dress Codes Help Curb Gang Violence?

    I want to follow up on something that jumped out at me from our collection of dress code rules: the ones justified as a way of preventing students from joining gangs (Olga noted that trend here). “We weren’t allowed to wear any Dickies-brand clothing or backpacks,” writes one reader who attended a Georgia public school in the early 2000s. “They were considered a ‘gang symbol’.” Another reader: “Because one of the gangs had adopted Mickey Mouse as one of its symbols, we were not allowed to wear anything with Mickey Mouse on it.”

    This reader thinks school administrators invoke gangs as a catch-all for dress violations:

    Everyone I knew who violated the dress code did so for almost exactly the same reason: wearing clothes that were too baggy or wearing something that was believed to be gang-affiliated. A particularly unusual example of this is when a star-student friend of mine came to school with a mohawk and had to get it shaved off. Some of the teachers believed it demonstrated some sort of gang affiliation, which it clearly did not.

    Whether Dickies or Mickeys or mohawks are gang-related symbols remains an open question, but do dress codes actually help prevent students from joining gangs? I reached out to Professor Todd A. DeMitchell of the University of New Hampshire, who, along with University of Louisiana Professor Richard Fossey (the pair co-authored a book on dress codes and the First Amendment), emailed some thoughts. They begin with some historical context:

    For nearly a century, student-dress codes and the litigation they have spawned have been important policy concerns for the public schools. One of the earliest legal battles was Pugsley v. Sellmeyer, a 1923 case out of Arkansas. In that dispute, Pearl Pugsley was disciplined for wearing talcum powder on her face in violation of a school policy prohibiting students from wearing transparent hosiery, “face-paint,” cosmetics, or immodest dress.

    The Arkansas Supreme Court upheld the school’s rule on the grounds that it was reasonable and not oppressive, but in later years, courts have sometimes sided with students in dress-code disputes.

  • Looking Back at Amnesty Under Reagan

    Our video team recently posted a short documentary featuring the story of Marisol Conde-Hernandez, an undocumented immigrant currently studying at Rutgers Law School:

    “I think that I’m the first undocumented person to attend law school in the state of New Jersey,” Conde-Hernandez says in the film. “It’s still in the back of my mind because I’m undocumented. What if I can’t practice as an attorney?”

    In the comments section for the video, Atlantic readers discussed immigration policy, which has become the signature issue for the presumptive GOP nominee for U.S. president. One reader wants to know more about a landmark piece of legislation passed under President Ronald Reagan:

    Has there been any deep longitudinal or follow-up study of Reagan’s 1986 amnesty recipients? There were about three million of them, if I recall correctly. I’d be interested in how they fared economically and, more so, how their kids fared.

    First, a bit of background: The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) passed Congress 30 years ago this November. (Here’s the New York Times report of Reagan signing the bill.) Eric Schlosser, in his award-winning 1995 investigative piece for The Atlantic, “In the Strawberry Fields,” described how the IRCA was so long in the making:

    In 1951 the President’s Commission on Migratory Labor condemned the abysmal living conditions of illegal immigrants employed as migrant farm workers in the United States. At the time, workers were found living in orchards and irrigation ditches. They lived in constant fear of apprehension, like fugitives, and were routinely exploited by their employers, who could maintain unsafe working conditions, cut wages, or abruptly dismiss them with little fear of reprisal. In many cases the life of these migrants was, according to the commission, “virtually peonage.”

  • The Big Stories This Week: Trump Psychology, the Worst Congress Ever, and More

    Lucas Jackson / Reuters

    “A Psychological Portrait of the Man”

    What drives the Donald? Our latest magazine cover story offers a look into the mind of the Republican front-runner. “Who is he, really?” asks psychologist Dan P. McAdams. “How might he go about making decisions in office, were he to become president?”

    This week, Trump offered some clues as to the answer: After the disappearance of EgyptAir 804, he took to Twitter to speculate the incident was “yet another terrorist attack.” David analyzed the tweet as “at once totally irresponsible and politically wily.

    Who Wins “Worst Congress Ever?”

  • Does Facebook Need to Be Fair?

    In this video, Rob outlines all the ways Facebook *could* rig an election. Among them: manipulating the newsfeed algorithm, blacklisting stories in their trending news section, and selectively deploying the “I Voted” module:

    Though Facebook says it won’t use that power, the company last week drew criticism over the way it has curated its “Trending” module. Here’s Rob with details:

    In at least one non-negligible way, Facebook joined journalism’s dirty ranks [last] week, as the company found itself accused of having a liberal bias. And perhaps it really does. A series of Gizmodo reports have raised new information about how the company’s “Trending” module works. “Trending” is the list of popular headlines that appears in the top right of Facebook.com; it also appears under the search bar in its ubiquitous mobile app. While many users believed that this module was compiled algorithmically, Gizmodo (and now The Guardian) have revealed that humans, working on contract for the company, guide its creation every step of the way. What’s more, these workers (often Ivy-educated twenty-somethings) “routinely suppressed conservative news,” according to the allegations of one former employee who talked to Gizmodo.

    In an attempt to appease concerns over partisan bias, Mark Zuckerberg invited a bunch of conservative media figures to Facebook HQ this week. One of them was Glenn Beck, who took to Medium yesterday to describe “what disturbed me about the Facebook meeting.” His most highlighted quote:

    It was like affirmative action for conservatives. When did conservatives start demanding quotas AND diversity training AND less people from Ivy League Colleges. I sat there, looking around the room at ‘our side’ wondering, ‘Who are we?’ Who am I?

    An Atlantic reader thinks that Facebook pushing any political preference would be bad for business:

  • The High-Heel Haters

    Many emails are coming in from my reader callout tied to Megan’s feature on the future of high heels, “Arch Enemies.” The first one comes from a self-described “career woman in Minnesota who NEVER wears high heels” and who challenges some common narratives surrounding ladies in stilettos:

    The idea of wearing them to “feel taller” is beyond me. If that’s the case, short men should be suffering in stilettos instead of relatively comfortable platform shoes—if they care at all about their height, that is. I liken stilettos to Chinese foot-binding—just another way to make women helpless, while at the same time telling them it makes them powerful. They’re not good for your feet, and certainly not good for your back: Ask any podiatrist or chiropractor (but don’t ask Stacy London [the fashion consultant and reality TV host]). And never mind running away from a mugger—or chasing a mugger—wearing heels. It only works in the movies.

    Google “high heel quotes,” and this is the type of hype you will see:  

    • Superwomen do it in high heels.
    • Strong women wear their pain like stilettos. No matter how much it hurts, all you see is the beauty in it.
    • How can you live the high life if you don’t wear high heels?
    • They might be painful, but they are a girl’s best friend

    [The Marilyn Monroe quote seen above] particularly bothers me. Grrrrrr.

    Here’s an anonymous reader, who also chimes in “from the high-heel-hater side of the argument”:

    I love clothes, and I love shoes all too much, but I’ve disliked very high heels at least since I was in high school and that’s a long time ago. Why? I dislike them because the human foot was never meant to be raised up like that. I’m looking for clothes that make me feel free, happy, and able to go wherever I want, in comfort and style.