Five Best Friday Columns

Suzanne Garment on Paul Ryan and code words for race, Bryony Gordon on claims that the Internet is destroying our reading abilities, Sarah Marshall on "Twin Peaks" and the origins of the dead girl trope, Peter B. Bach on the problem with Walgreens' continuing cigarette sales, Leonid Bershidsky on what the Heartbleed bug exposed. 

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Suzanne Garment at Reuters on Paul Ryan and code words for race. “It’s official. The House of Representatives has passed the federal budget for fiscal years 2015 through 2023 and the troops are on the march. There will be an “important debate,” [but] the conversation will do nothing to heal the endlessly searing wound that the Ryan controversy exposed in the individuals who bear it or make the wound more real to those who don’t,” Garment writes; Paul Ryan spoke about a “tailspin of culture in our inner cities, in particular of men not working or even thinking about working.” “To ask for a shift in the conversation is not to say that the wounds of race have been healed. It is only to say that we may not be able to heal them and, while we try to do so, we are busy inflicting other, consequential wounds on ourselves and avoiding a discussion of what, if anything, we can do about them.”

Bryony Gordon at The Telegraph on claims that the Internet is destroying our reading abilities. “According to a group of scientists and writers who have pompously named themselves the Slow Reading Movement, the internet is destroying our ability to read serious literature. The Sloooooooooow Reeeeeeeeeeading Moooooooooovement fears that our brains, bombarded as they are with information, are evolving away from the “traditional deep-reading circuitry” that we have developed over many millennia,” Gordon writes. “But it’s my fault that I don’t sit down and read Tolstoy of an evening, not the web’s. The internet has made life easier for us; it has freed up our time so we can do other things. Like reading a good book, even.” Diageo’s Tom Setter tweets, “The internet, is it messing with our minds, or setting us free?”

Sarah Marshall at the New Republic on “Twin Peaks” and the origins of the dead girl trope. “Laura Palmer has been dead for twenty-five years, but her legacy has dwarfed that of countless other living female characters. Now more than ever, seemingly every show on television replicates the question that “Twin Peaks” posed when it premiered on this day in 1990: Who killed the girl? It’s time for us to ponder a more enduring mystery: Why this is one of the only narrative questions we feel so compelled to answer,” Marshall writes. “A living woman groomed for passive stardom may easily accommodate the public’s wishes; a dead woman is utterly incapable of offering up even the most cursory contradiction to the narratives that entomb her as readily as any casket.” Chloe Schama at the New Republic tweets, “How Twin Peaks spawned a generation of dead-girl TV narratives.”

Peter B. Bach at The New York Times on the problem with Walgreens' continuing cigarettes sales. “I don’t smoke, but if during the day I wanted to buy cigarettes, I could walk into the CVS pharmacy across the street from my office, or the Walgreens two blocks away, and get them. But beginning this fall, CVS pharmacies will stop sales of all tobacco products. Walgreens, well, won’t,” Bach writes. “Which chain do you think is more heavily celebrated on the website of the American Cancer Society? Well, it’s not CVS. Instead, testimonials and profiles hailing Walgreens abound. Certainly Walgreens has shown leadership in offering antismoking programs to its employees and customers. But at the end of the day a corporate vision “to be the first choice in health and daily living for everyone in America” is incongruous with selling the leading cause of preventable death at your cash registers.”

Leonid Bershidsky at Bloomberg View on what the Heartbleed bug exposed. “Now that you've changed all your passwords (I did) in the wake of the discovery of a coding error in OpenSSL, the widely-used software for the secure transmission of data, it's time to think about why the "Heartbleed bug" made it into the code and sat there undetected for two years. The fact that for-profit companies have embraced open source does not mean, however, that they are willing to spend serious money to fund it,” Bershidsky writes. “Open source is increasingly becoming a business, but there will always be a selfless, anarchic core to it. It is extremely valuable, and it deserves every form of support. Those of us who don't like changing passwords too often should also consider making a few personal donations to software foundations that are behind products we use every day, often without being aware of it.”

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.