Five Best Monday Columns
Ann Friedman on why we need to bring back the World's Fair, Charles M. Blow on the troubling extent of America's religious literalism, Jordan Fraade on Upworthy's click-bait lifestyle liberalism, David Blair on why Ukraine’s heavy-handed approach is the wrong one, Robert J. Samuelson on Obama’s climate plan vs. Obama’s climate reality.
Ann Friedman at the Guardian on why we need to bring back the World’s Fair. “This summer marks the 50th anniversary of the iconic World's Fair in Queens, New York, which brought together the likes of Liberace, Andy Warhol, the Kennedys and Masai tribesmen. If such a thing happened today, it'd be the toast of the tech blogs and the talk of Twitter, right? Which is why it's surprising that the anniversary nostalgia has failed to raise many questions about the state of World's Fairs today,” Friedman writes. “The internet has made in-person gatherings like the World's Fair less vital. But even though we're long past the techno-utopian sixties, we're still collectively interested in the technology that will shape our daily lives in the decades to come. The problem is that most of us can't afford a vacation to discuss it in person.” The Guardian's Matt Sullivan tweets, "'Can you imagine Beyoncé and Michelle Obama waving from front seats of a hovercar?' @annfriedman on World Fair 2.0."
Charles M. Blow at The New York Times on the troubling extent of America’s religious literalism. “I am both shocked and fascinated by Americans’ religious literalism. One Gallup report issued last week found that 42 percent of Americans believe ‘God created humans in their present form 10,000 years ago.’ Whatever the case, on this issue as well as many others in America, the truth is not the light. That is in part because, compared with other developed countries, America stands out for the level and intensity of its religiosity. And, in America, when people say that they are religious, they overwhelmingly mean Christian. In fact, nearly eight in 10 Americans identify as Christians,” Blow writes. “What worries me is that some Americans seem to live in a world where facts can’t exist. Marco Rubio told GQ in 2012: ‘Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.’ Bobby Jindal has voiced his support of creationism being taught in public schools alongside intelligent design and ‘the best science’ and allowing students to ‘make up their own minds.’”
Jordan Fraade at Al Jazeera America on Upworthy’s click-bait lifestyle liberalism. “‘You won’t believe what happens next,’ the headlines scream. Except we all know what happens next. We will click, we will watch, we will share, and then we will watch the page views skyrocket. With 47 million unique visits in April, down from a staggering 88 million in November 2013, Upworthy has the Internet wrapped around its pinkie finger. And who’d have the heart to complain? But however we crunch the site’s click-through rate and readership numbers, there’s one question they can never answer: What does Upworthy believe?” Fraade writes. “The site leans left; its 30-something founders both worked at MoveOn.org during the 2008 presidential campaign. But the ideology of the site and others like it isn’t a recitation of the Democratic Party platform. It’s not really a cohesive liberal worldview of any sort. Upworthy Liberalism is liberal politics stripped of any awareness of systemic barriers or perverted incentive structures. It’s what happens when liberalism is treated as merely a set of lifestyle preferences.”
David Blair at The Telegraph on why Ukraine’s heavy-handed approach is the wrong one. “The yellow and blue stripes of Ukraine’s national flag are designed to symbolise a happy union between golden fields and the summer sky. At the moment, the sweeping plains of Donetsk do indeed resemble this vision of idyllic harmony – until, that is, you run into a checkpoint manned by pro-Russian rebels or Ukrainian soldiers. At one roadblock, a suspicious soldier with blazing blue eyes inquired where we had come from and where we were going. Then he abruptly asked my driver: ‘And what is your opinion of separatism?’ When a teenage member of a national army demands to know the political views of the people he is paid to protect, then you know things are going wrong,” Blair writes. “The problem is not Ukraine’s willingness to fight the rebellion, but the clumsy and heavy-handed way in which it is being done.”
Robert J. Samuelson at The Washington Post on Obama’s climate plan vs. Obama’s climate reality. “President Obama and his harshest critics — business groups and Republicans — have a shared interest in exaggerating the impact of the president’s proposal on climate change. By 2030, the proposal would reduce the electricity sector’s greenhouse-gas emissions by 30 percent from a 2005 base . For Obama, it’s all about legacy. He wants to be the president who took bold action on the century’s great environmental challenge. For critics, it’s about demonstrating that costly mandates would hurt family incomes and job growth,” Samuelson writes. “There’s much hype here. The truth is that, love it or hate it, the president’s plan would only modestly cut greenhouse-gas emissions, mostly carbon dioxide (CO2), from current levels. The best approach is to tax carbon emissions. If you want less of something, tax it. Stimulate competition to find ways to conserve energy or produce it without greenhouse gases.” Virginia's Mark Gibson, Independent candidate for Congress, tweets, “#Overhead. MT #RobertSamuelson: POTUS climate plan ‘would create a complex and costly regulatory apparatus.’”