Paul Gagnon, “What Should Children Learn?”; Kathleen McAuliffe, “The Undiscovered World of Thomas Edison”; Matthew Dallek, “The Conservative 1960s”; David Bornstein, “The Barefoot Bank With Cheek”; and much more.
American politicians have begun to bemoan its merely vestigial presence in America, but in France a sense of civic solidarity -- the 'sens civique' -- though weakened by market pressures, flourishes still. It is among the legacies that France is counting on as it prepares for the twenty-first century
The great “convergence” of the mid-20th century may have been an anomaly.
It may be time to stop talking about “red” and “blue” America. That’s the provocative conclusion of Michael Podhorzer, a longtime political strategist for labor unions and the chair of the Analyst Institute, a collaborative of progressive groups that studies elections. In a private newsletter that he writes for a small group of activists, Podhorzer recently laid out a detailed case for thinking of the two blocs as fundamentally different nations uneasily sharing the same geographic space.
“When we think about the United States, we make the essential error of imagining it as a single nation, a marbled mix of Red and Blue people,” Podhorzer writes. “But in truth, we have never been one nation. We are more like a federated republic of two nations: Blue Nation and Red Nation. This is not a metaphor; it is a geographic and historical reality.”
Stores are stocked with copycat designs. It’s a nightmare.
As best as I can tell, the puff-sleeve onslaught began in 2018. The clothing designer Batsheva Hay’s eponymous brand was barely two years old, but her high-necked, ruffle-trimmed, elbow-covering dresses in dense florals and upholstery prints—bizarro-world reimaginings of the conservative frocks favored by Hasidic Jewish women and the Amish—had developed a cult following among weird New York fashion-and-art girls. Almost all of her early designs featured some kind of huge, puffy sleeve; according to a lengthy profile in TheNew Yorker published that September, the custom-made dress that inspired Hay’s line had enough space in the shoulders to store a few tennis balls.
Batsheva dresses aren’t for everyone. They can cost more than $400, first of all, and more important, they’re weird: When paired with Jordans and decontextualized on a 20-something Instagram babe, the clothes of religious fundamentalism become purposefully unsettling. But as described in that cerulean-sweater scene from The Devil Wears Prada, what happens at the tip-top of the fashion hierarchy rains down on the rest of us. So it went with the puff sleeve. Batsheva and a handful of other influential indie designers adopted the puff around the same time, and the J.Crews and ASOSes and Old Navys of the world took notice. Puff sleeves filtered down the price tiers, in one form or another, just like a zillion trends have before—streamlined for industrial-grade reproduction and attached to a litany of dresses and shirts that don’t require a model’s body or an heiress’s bank account. And then, unlike most trends, it stuck around.
The past two and a half years have been a global crash course in infection prevention. They've also been a crash course in basic math: Since the arrival of this coronavirus, people have been asked to count the meters and feet that separate one nose from the next; they’ve tabulated the days that distance them from their most recent vaccine dose, calculated the minutes they can spend unmasked, and added up the hours that have passed since their last negative test.
What unites many of these numbers is the tendency, especially in the United States, to pick thresholds and view them as binaries: above this, mask; below this, don’t; after this, exposed, before this, safe. But some of the COVID numbers that have stuck most stubbornly in our brains these past 20-odd months are now disastrously out of date. The virus has changed; we, its hosts, have as well. So, too, then, must the playbook that governs our pandemic strategies. With black-and-white, yes-or-no thinking, “we do ourselves a disservice,” Saskia Popescu, an epidemiologist at George Mason University, told me. Binary communication “has been one of the biggest failures of how we’ve managed the pandemic,” Mónica Feliú-Mójer, of the nonprofit Ciencia Puerto Rico, told me.
For months and even years I have seen this coming, and yet the reality of the Supreme Court’s decision is still a shock. How can it be that people had a constitutional right for nearly half a century, and now no more? How can it not matter that Americans consistently signaled that they did not want this to happen, and even so this has happened?
The Court’s answer is that Roe is different. Roe, the Court suggests, was uniquely, egregiously wrong from the beginning—a badly reasoned decision criticized by even the most ardent supporters of abortion rights, including the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The majority suggests that the best comparison to Roe (and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the decision that saved abortion rights in 1992) is Plessy v. Ferguson, the 19th-century decision that held racial segregation to be constitutional.
Hidden in the tusk of a 34-year-old mastodon was a record of time and space that helped explain his violent death.
In 1998, outside of Fort Wayne, Indiana, a hydraulic excavator at Buesching’s Peat Moss & Mulch stripped back a layer of peat and struck bone in the underlying marl. Bone is the right word: This bone belonged to a mastodon, and mastodons are still fresh bodies in the dirt, not petrified fossils entombed in the rock. Although they might be popularly imagined living way back with the dinosaurs, the Ice Age megafauna went extinct only moments ago, in staggered waves over human history. The last mammoth, for instance, died after the first pyramids were built. Yet we know little of the lives of these animals with which we shared the planet for hundreds of thousands of years.
The mastodon pulled from the Indiana muck now lives in the state museum, looming over visitors, a stand-in for his entire species and epoch. Such relics rarely get to speak of their own lives. That this animal, nicknamed Fred, might have had his own biography is betrayed only by the ominous hole on the underside of his skull. “It got a tusk tip into the cheek,” says the University of Michigan paleontologist Daniel Fisher, grimly signaling to the roof of his mouth. That is, the mastodon was probably killed by another one. But inscribed in Fred’s own bowed tusks scientists have found a “ticker-tape record of his entire life.” Written in bone are 13,200-year-old memories of a mastodon living in the twilight days of his species. He migrated across the Midwest with the seasons, living in a world about to change forever.