Matt Thompson

Matt Thompson
Matt Thompson is a contributing writer at The Atlantic.
  • CBS

    ‘Christmas Time Is Here’: A Hymn for the Ages

    The 50-year-old song from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is here to stay.

  • Trans-Siberian Orchestra

    The Ironic Intensity of ‘Carol of the Bells’

    Originally a Ukrainian folk chant about spring, the Christmas song reached its zenith with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s electric guitar-infused adaptation.

  • Gift Ideas for an 'Impossible' Boyfriend

    Age: 23

    Place: Ohio

    Relationship: boyfriend

    From the gift-giver:

    My boyfriend is the hardest person to shop for. He only wears black and gray. He isn't "fashion forward." He likes guns and ammo (but obviously wants to buy them all himself). He doesn't like chocolate or sweets. He doesn't read. He doesn't use hair products and shaves his head. HE'S IMPOSSIBLE! He does, however, like tequila and beer (but his palette is very plain). He likes to work on cars and is a combustion engineer by day. He's an outgoing socialite but also enjoys spending some nights in binge-watching Netflix. He likes humor and action! He occasionally plays Call of Duty to pass the time but by no means is he a "gamer."

    Any gift they’ve loved?

    Well, I have given him some clothes from Express (in black and gray, of course) and he really seemed to like them. But, boy... how impersonal for someone who is my BEST FRIEND! I guess he likes peanuts and peanut butter and surprise dinners in the crock pot... but doesn't cook often. HELP!

    We recommend: beer-making kit ($64.95)

    A beer-making kit touches on a few aspects of your description: The engineer in him might enjoy tinkering with recipes and flavor variations that suit his palate. The socialite in him would have a nice accompaniment for hangout sessions with friends, one that pairs nicely with a good Netflix binge or Call of Duty mission. The beer-lover in him would get, um, beer. And there are a few bonuses for you as well: Beer-making night could be a lovely stay-at-home date. Plus, you can choose a gift that matches your budget, from a $36 Mr. Beer deluxe kit to kits as costly as $189.

    Other ideas:

    Got another suggestion for this recipient? Send your ideas to

  • Darren Ornitz / Reuters

    ‘Let It Snow’: How to Quench Holiday Ardor

    The classic is the most G-rated entry in the ‘Yule log and chill’ genre, with the exception of one notable cover.

  • ABC / NBC / Paul Spella / The …

    The #ActualWorst Semi-Final: Fitzgerald Grant vs. Hannibal Lecter

    A bracket to find the most terrible person on television

  • Doctors and Women's Pain

    This week, Shruti Pinnamaneni and the brilliant team at Reply All did that thing they do so well: they took the slender thread of a story—in this case, a person suffering from a mysterious medley of ailments—and followed that thread to surprising and fascinating places. Hope, the story’s protagonist, tells a gutwrenching tale of going to different doctors for second and third and fifth and eighth opinions, receiving over and over the same diagnosis of anxiety-induced migraines, being prescribed again and again treatments that alleviate none of her pain.

    And then, late in the story, there’s a particularly thought-provoking moment. Dr. Lisa Sanders, the Yale University School of Medicine internist whose New York Times column inspired the hit show House, says to Hope, “I bet neither of the primary care doctors you went to see were women.”

    When I read Joe Fassler’s brutal account of the time no one believed his wife was having an emergency, I thought of Hope, and Dr. Sanders’s bet. Thousands of people are reading that story as I write, and I suspect these accounts resonate much more widely. Do you have stories like these?

  • Track of the Day: 'Roscoe'

    “Midlake might be stuck in the ‘70s, but they make it sound like the best place on earth,” wrote Tim Sendra, reviewing the band’s 2006 album The Trials of Van Occupanther. Darn straight. And no song on the album gets me to that place faster than the lush masterpiece “Roscoe,” ranked one of the best songs of the 2000s by Rolling Stone. The driving bass line and wandering, ethereal harmonies make this great road music, but it’s also a perfect sit-at-your-desk-and-escape tune. I don’t know what the song’s 19th-century mountaineers had in mind when they were building those houses from cedar and stone, but I love that I can slip on a pair of headphones and go there any afternoon I’d like.

    Want to recommend a track? Email

  • Does Trophy Hunting Actually Aid Conservation?

    Paul Sakuma / AP

    Yesterday I wrote about the reemergence of Walter Palmer, the man who killed Cecil the Lion. Then, this morning, I awoke to a characteristically immersive and thought-provoking episode of Radiolab, “The Rhino Hunter,” focused on the very question Palmer’s act touched off: Can big-game trophy hunting actually benefit the conservation of endangered animals?

    In the episode, we hear from Corey Knowlton, a hunter from Texas who paid $350,000 at auction for a permit to kill a rare black rhinoceros. (The case was widely reported, although perhaps not as widely as Walter Palmer’s fateful expedition; the rhino didn’t, as far as I can tell, have a TV-friendly name.)

    What you’ll hear in this episode is primarily the trophy hunter’s case, made in a vivid and emotional appeal. If you can’t stand the thought of hearing a rare creature shot again and again until it dies, do not listen to this episode. Conservationists who oppose hunting as a funding mechanism for protecting endangered species get much less air-time than Mr. Knowlton and his hunt.

    But you’ll also hear the depth of feeling that stands behind the argument that responsible trophy hunting is an aid to species conservation. If you don’t believe that argument, this episode likely won’t (and shouldn’t) change your mind, since the counter-claim gets so little attention. But if you’re like me, it’ll make you think.

    It’s genuinely difficult to find a robustly supported answer to the question. The position of WWF (formerly the World Wildlife Fund) stated on their site is this:

  • Stonehenge Probably Had a Posse

    Charles C. Lane / AP

    For the past five years, a group of high-tech archaeologists have been using a range of digital instruments to peer at the ground around Stonehenge. Last year at the British Science Festival, the explorers revealed what they’d virtually unearthed—a whole family of monuments that, taken together, dwarfed the size of the mysterious ring of boulders we know as Stonehenge. (The early favorite nickname for the complex of boulders was the “super henge,” but please, please let that not be the end of the matter, I beseech you, Universe.)

    Today was the first day of the 2015 British Science Festival, and the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project team is back with another revelation: evidence of at least 100 more standing stones, buried a short distance from the stones that stand today. Here’s a visualization imagining the ancient structure:

  • The Class-Action Lawsuit Against Uber Is a Case to Watch

    Here is a photo of a guy in a suit walking out of an office building where Uber is located. Eric Risberg / AP

    Labor Day is as good an excuse as any to catch up on a case that’s been drawing a lot of attention recently: Last week, US District Judge Edward Chen certified that a lawsuit against Uber could proceed as a class-action suit. The decision means that “as many as 160,000 Uber drivers in California could join the case seeking mileage and tip reimbursement from the company.”

    As Gillian White has reported for The Atlantic, Uber, the ride-sharing juggernaut, has been fighting for a while to limit who can be considered an Uber “employee.” The company has argued that it doesn’t “employ” drivers so much as facilitate connections between independent entrepreneurs and prospective customers. Facing a class-action lawsuit, Uber said its relationships with all those individual drivers were too idiosyncratic to be represented by a single class of plaintiffs. Judge Chen disagreed.

  • The Man Who Killed Cecil the Lion Speaks

    Tommy the Lion walks in Hwange National Park, where Cecil was killed. (Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi / AP)

    The Minneapolis Star Tribune has published an interview with the Minnesota dentist who sparked a worldwide outcry after he paid a large sum (reportedly around $54,000) to lure and kill a lion in Zimbabwe:

    Walter J. Palmer, of Eden Prairie, meeting face to face in Minneapolis with two reporters for his first interview since Cecil the lion’s death, fielded questions for 20 minutes about his safari hunt in early July and the passionate worldwide condemnation that has compelled him to keep a low profile.

  • European Countries Make Some Room

    Migrants sit in the car of an Austrian citizen who volunteered to take them from Hungary to Austria. (Zsolt Szigetvary / AP)

    Over the past week, public attitudes towards refugees pouring out of Syria have begun to shift dramatically. Today, leaders in France, Germany, and Britain announced that their countries would step up their efforts to take in refugees:

    President François Hollande of France announced on Monday that his country would take in 24,000 asylum seekers over two years, Britain said it would take in 20,000 refugees from Syria, and Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany would set aside 6 billion euros, about $6.7 billion, to deal with the crisis.

    Much of the coverage is about the massive scale of the dislocation: “waves” of asylum-seekers flowing into European countries in a “relentless stream.” But journalists have also given us several powerful glimpses from the view of individuals affected by the crisis.

  • Paid Sick Leave Gets Another Boost

    From a January 2013 rally in New York City (Mary Altaffer / AP)

    The latest action in the Democrats’ push for paid sick leave takes place today: President Obama is signing an executive order requiring government contractors to offer seven days of paid sick leave to their employees. According to the White House, per Reuters, this move “would benefit about 300,000 people working on government contracts.”

  • Charlie Riedel / AP

    A 2015 Labor Day Reading List

    A roundup of recent stories on the changing nature of work in America

  • Track of the Day: 'There Stands the Glass'

    Imagine a boardwalk on Venice Beach. A handsome man with a salt-and-pepper beard, perhaps a bit more weathered than his years alone would suggest, is strumming the closing notes of a tune on his guitar. Imagine he finishes the song, shifts a bit in his seat, and moments later, lets loose with this:

  • Track of the Day: 'Here Come tha Police'

    If you weren’t living in Minneapolis in 2007, chances are good you never heard this song, from the local band Vicious Vicious. I was lucky enough to be an arts-and-entertainment editor in the Twin Cities at the time, and this song (along with the album that featured it) was a favorite of our local indie radio station The Current at the time. For good reason, too. To my ears, it’s a nearly perfect late-summer confection.

    The song would be good even if it could only boast the fun melody, the groovy bass line and that super-danceable chirping synthesizer that kicks in under “C-c-c-come on” around 1:15. But the cinematic production elements take it over the top. As the tune begins, a car door closes and a cassette tape pops into the deck. Midway through the song, during the breakdown, you hear the putative footsteps of Jenny and the lead singer, rustling through leaves as they duck into the forest to avoid the police, guilty of too much summer-evening fun. (If you’ve got headphones nearby, put them on to hear lead singer Erik Appelwick’s seductive little whisper in your right ear at 2:15, “I can hear them getting closer.”) This is a storytelling song, through and through. That it’s also a top-down, hip-shaking summer jam is just frosting.

  • 'Don't Iron While the Strike Is Hot'


    Forty-five years ago today, on the 50th anniversary of women’s suffrage, tens of thousands of people hit the streets of New York City to rally for the Women’s Strike for Equality, which Time called the “first big demonstration of the Women’s Liberation movement.” (“Don’t Iron While the Strike Is Hot,” the title of this note, was one of the slogans of the rally.)

    In March of that year, Alice Rossi wrote for The Atlantic about job discrimination against women, quoting a number of anonymous correspondents who described their experiences in the job market:

    Employers do not put up signs saying "no women need apply" even when this is the unstated policy of their gate-keeping personnel managers. Some women are unaware that their ambitions are being arbitrarily thwarted, and many others are reluctant to discuss the painful and infuriating encounters they have had with job discrimination. Those of us who research and write about the status of women, or who are active in women's rights organizations, frequently hear confidential stories of women's experiences with discrimination in the job world.

  • Notes: A Work in Progress

    As Gould said, we’re hoping Notes will feel both familiar and welcome to those of you who remember a bloggier Atlantic. But the Web's gotten more capable since, so there's also some brand new pizzazz under the hood, such as the fact that Notes flows just as nicely on a smartphone as it does on a laptop.

    This page is another example of what’s new: a compilation of Notes that all relate to one particular story, tied together by an overview at the top of the page. If you click on a link to Gould’s note, you'll find that you come to this same page, but newer Notes like this one are compressed. This will allow you to quickly catch up on the context whenever you encounter a thread of coverage, whether it's a developing news story or an ongoing conversation.

    The way we developed this feature should give you a sense of how we hope to involve you and other friends of The Atlantic in the evolution of Notes.

  • Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

    Why the American Dream Will Never Die

    Over the next two months, The Atlantic will explore many different visions of the American dream, in stories, videos, and photo essays.

  • Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

    The Golden Age of Post-Television

    Netflix’s content chief Ted Sarandos says the company isn’t trying to outdo TV, it’s trying to do something completely different.