This semester I was brought up to MIT through the university's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Professors and Scholars Program. I am, from time to time, called to talk before students, which is always a great laugh to me, because the last thing I thought when I left school was that someone might get it in their head to bring me back.
This was more than just "talking" though. This was an actual class. Instead of seeing myself as teaching a "liberal arts" class, I did my best to simulate the actual process of being a practicing liberal artist. There are good reasons why it's hard to make one's living off of one's writing. I think it's good for kids to be exposed to those reasons. In other words I wanted to bring all the terror, trauma, joy and good humor, all the violence that the craft brings. I tried to do that, and at every step the kids responded. Perhaps I'll say more on that later. I had a blast, but I don't want to be unfair to my kids, all of whom worked their ass off for me (and ultimately for themselves.)
My schedule meant leaving my wife and son, for half the week. I spent a lot of time in preparation, thinking about the soccer practices which I would miss. I thought about the parent days at school from which I would be AWOL. I thought about my manful (there is no better adjective) attempts at affecting some sort of equitable split in the chores. And I thought about the emotional absence. In other words, before I left for the semester I spent a great deal of time considering what my absence would mean to my family. But I spent almost no time considering what the absence of my family would mean to me.
The error of my ways became apparent roughly a day after I left. It was really a kind of unexpected awful. I have long thought of fatherhood and partnership in terms of duties, in terms of what I owe other people. I spend a lot of time thinking about how to make good on that debt. What became apparent to me up top was how little consideration I'd given to what I got out of fatherhood and partnership.
Perhaps this goes to my frustration with pathetic, self-pitying, self-loathing "Man Art."Almost all of it is about what the world allegedly takes from you, and none of it is about what the world gives you back. I don't want to speak for other dudes, but I think it's important for me to say that I've gotten a lot.
Anyway It's the end of the semester. I'm on a train headed home. I am really feeling Wilson Pickett right now. Here is art beyond the borders of the man-child.
Long after research contradicts common medical practices, patients continue to demand them and physicians continue to deliver. The result is an epidemic of unnecessary and unhelpful treatments.
First, listen to the story with the happy ending: At 61, the executive was in excellent health. His blood pressure was a bit high, but everything else looked good, and he exercised regularly. Then he had a scare. He went for a brisk post-lunch walk on a cool winter day, and his chest began to hurt. Back inside his office, he sat down, and the pain disappeared as quickly as it had come.
That night, he thought more about it: middle-aged man, high blood pressure, stressful job, chest discomfort. The next day, he went to a local emergency department. Doctors determined that the man had not suffered a heart attack and that the electrical activity of his heart was completely normal. All signs suggested that the executive had stable angina—chest pain that occurs when the heart muscle is getting less blood-borne oxygen than it needs, often because an artery is partially blocked.
In late 2015, in the Chilean desert, astronomers pointed a telescope at a faint, nearby star known as ared dwarf. Amid the star’s dim infrared glow, they spotted periodic dips, a telltale sign that something was passing in front of it, blocking its light every so often. Last summer, the astronomers concluded the mysterious dimming came from three Earth-sized planets—and that they were orbiting in the star’s temperate zone, where temperatures are not too hot, and not too cold, but just right for liquid water, and maybe even life.
This was an important find. Scientists for years had focused on stars like our sun in their search for potentially habitable planets outside our solar system. Red dwarfs, smaller and cooler than the sun, were thought to create inhospitable conditions. They’re also harder to see, detectable by infrared rather than visible light. But the astronomers aimed hundreds of hours worth of observations at this dwarf, known as TRAPPIST-1 anyway, using ground-based telescopes around the world and NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.
Consolidated corporate power is keeping many products’ prices high and quality low. Why aren’t more politicians opposing it?
There are many competing interpretations for why Hillary Clinton lost last fall’s election, but most observers do agree that economics played a big role. Clinton simply didn’t articulate a vision compelling enough to compete with Donald Trump’s rousing, if dubious, message that bad trade deals and illegal immigration explain the downward mobility of so many Americans.
As it happens, Clinton did have the germ of exactly such an idea—if one knew where to look. In an October 2015 op-ed, she wrote that “large corporations are concentrating control over markets” and “using their power to raise prices, limit choices for consumers, lower wages for workers, and hold back competition from startups and small businesses. It’s no wonder Americans feel the deck is stacked for those at the top.” In a speech in Toledo last fall, Clinton assailed “old-fashioned monopolies” and vowed to appoint “tough” enforcers “so the big don’t keep getting bigger and bigger.”
A $100 million gangster epic starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci has become too risky a proposition for major studios.
Martin Scorsese’s next project, The Irishman, is as close as you can get to a box-office guarantee for the famed director. It’s a gangster film based on a best-selling book about a mob hitman who claimed to have a part in the legendary disappearance of the union boss Jimmy Hoffa. Robert De Niro is attached to play the hitman, Al Pacino will star as Hoffa, and Scorsese favorites Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel are also on board. After Scorsese branched into more esoteric territory this year with Silence, a meditative exploration of faith and Catholicism, The Irishman sounds like a highly bankable project—the kind studios love. And yet, the film is going to Netflix, which will bankroll its $100 million budget and distribute it around the world on the company’s streaming service.
Rod Dreher makes a powerful argument for communal religious life in his book, The Benedict Option. But he has not wrestled with how to live side by side with people unlike him.
Donald Trump was elected president with the help of 81 percent of white evangelical voters. Mike Pence, the champion of Indiana’s controversial 2015 religious-freedom law, is his deputy. Neil Gorsuch, a judge deeply sympathetic to religious litigants, will likely be appointed to the Supreme Court. And Republicans hold both chambers of Congress and statehouses across the country. Right now, conservative Christians enjoy more influence on American politics than they have in decades.
And yet, Rod Dreher is terrified.
“Don’t be fooled,” he tells fellow Christians in his new book, The Benedict Option. “The upset presidential victory of Donald Trump has at best given us a bit more time to prepare for the inevitable.”
Plagues, revolutions, massive wars, collapsed states—these are what reliably reduce economic disparities.
Calls to make America great again hark back to a time when income inequality receded even as the economy boomed and the middle class expanded. Yet it is all too easy to forget just how deeply this newfound equality was rooted in the cataclysm of the world wars.
The pressures of total war became a uniquely powerful catalyst of equalizing reform, spurring unionization, extensions of voting rights, and the creation of the welfare state. During and after wartime, aggressive government intervention in the private sector and disruptions to capital holdings wiped out upper-class wealth and funneled resources to workers; even in countries that escaped physical devastation and crippling inflation, marginal tax rates surged upward. Concentrated for the most part between 1914 and 1945, this “Great Compression” (as economists call it) of inequality took several more decades to fully run its course across the developed world until the 1970s and 1980s, when it stalled and began to go into reverse.
Neither truck drivers nor bankers would put up with a system like the one that influences medical residents’ schedules.
The path to becoming a doctor is notoriously difficult. Following pre-med studies and four years of medical school, freshly minted M.D.s must spend anywhere from three to seven years (depending on their chosen specialty) training as “residents” at an established teaching hospital. Medical residencies are institutional apprenticeships—and are therefore structured to serve the dual, often dueling, aims of training the profession’s next generation and minding the hospital’s labor needs.
How to manage this tension between “education and service” is a perennial question of residency training, according to Janis Orlowski, the chief health-care officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Orlowski says that the amount of menial labor residents are required to perform, known in the profession as “scut work,” has decreased "tremendously" since she was a resident in the 1980s. But she acknowledges that even "institutions that are committed to education … constantly struggle with this,” trying to stay on the right side of the boundary between training and taking advantage of residents.
For months, protesters have camped in the frigid North Dakota winter, opposing the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Recently, state officials ordered them to evacuate the campground, located on federal land, due to spring flooding.
For months now, protesters have lived in tents and tepees during the frigid North Dakota winter, opposing the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. In that time, construction was halted by the Obama administration, then re-started by the Trump administration. Recently, state officials ordered the group of Native Americans and other activists from around the country to evacuate the Oceti Sakowin camp, located on federal land, due to impending spring floods. The deadline to evacuate is today, February 22, at 2 pm. Just ahead of the deadline, some protesters set fire to several tents and other structures that remained. Some campers have now left, but others say they will remain and defy any orders to leave.
A conversation with Jeffrey D. Sachs, the renowned professor and author, about the future of prosperity and the end of us-versus-them politics
The 2016 election might seem like a death knell for liberals who dream that the United States might eventually come to resemble one of Europe’s social democracies. The Republican Party now controls the White House, both houses of Congress, and the majority of governorships and state legislatures.
But America’s youngest cohort of voters remains an underrated force for leftist economics. Burdened by student debt and the rising cost of housing and health care, this younger generation embraces a larger role for government. If, in a decade or two, today’s young liberal revolutionaries become the mainstream force in U.S. politics, Trump will have been a nativist paroxysm that merely delayed the inevitable evolution toward American social democracy.
You can tell a lot about a person from how they react to something.
That’s why Facebook’s various “Like” buttons are so powerful. Clicking a reaction icon isn’t just a way to register an emotional response, it’s also a way for Facebook to refine its sense of who you are. So when you “Love” a photo of a friend’s baby, and click “Angry” on an article about the New England Patriots winning the Super Bowl, you’re training Facebook to see you a certain way: You are a person who seems to love babies and hate Tom Brady.
The more you click, the more sophisticated Facebook’s idea of who you are becomes. (Remember: Although the reaction choices seem limited now—Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, or Angry—up until around this time last year, there was only a “Like” button.)