The Economist, Why is everyone so busy?:
In America, for example, men who did not finish high-school gained nearly eight hours a week of leisure time between 1985 and 2005. Men with a college degree, however, saw their leisure time drop by six hours during the same period, which means they have even less leisure than they did in 1965, say Mark Aguiar of Princeton University and Erik Hurst of the University of Chicago. The same goes for well-educated American women, who not only have less leisure time than they did in 1965, but also nearly 11 hours less per week than women who did not graduate from high school. […]
Slow economic growth and serious disruptions in any number of industries, from media to architecture to advertising, along with increasing income inequality, have created ever more competition for interesting, well-paid jobs. Meanwhile in much of the rich world, the cost of housing and private education has soared. They can also expect to live longer, and so need to ensure that their pension pots are stocked with ample cash for retirement. Faced with sharper competition, higher costs and a greater need for savings, even elite professionals are more nervous about their prospects than they used to be. This can keep people working in their offices at all hours, especially in America, where there are few legal limits on the working hours of salaried employees.
This extra time in the office pays off. Because knowledge workers have few metrics for output, the time people spend at their desks is often seen as a sign of productivity and loyalty. So the stooge who is in his office first thing in the morning and last at night is now consistently rewarded with raises and promotions, or saved from budget cuts. Since the late 1990s, this “long-hours premium” has earned overworkers about 6% more per hour than their full-time counterparts, says Kim Weeden at Cornell University. (It also helps reinforce the gender-wage gap, as working mothers are rarely able to put in that kind of time in an office.)
Eric Sanderson, Forget the Damned Motor Car:
Forget the damned motor car and build cities for lovers and friends.
—Lewis Mumford, My Works and Days (1979)
Humanity managed for the better part of 400,000 years without cars and did just fine. Julius Caesar, Michelangelo, William Shakespeare, Adam Smith, and Abraham Lincoln lived in cities and never drove an automobile. They didn’t need one, or thought to need one. And you wouldn’t need one either if we could arrange our lives such that you can get where you need to go without a car.
What does this have to do with the nature of cities? Cars are Enemy #1 for the nature of cities. Not only do gas-propelled vehicles pollute the environment and contribute to climate change, the roads they require take up space, robbing room from us and from nature at large.
Anshuman Iddamsetty, The Year in Thickness:
I would lose count, if I bothered tallying, the looks of other men (mostly, but not exclusively) whenever I went outside holding the hand of someone I loved. That smirk. Sometimes bewilderment, like I’ve broken something sacred. There’s the way the body language of kind, educated people turns: cocked to one side waiting for the punch line, or tilted in high alert, as if the deep pathology responsible, and a pathology it must be, were airborne. “A chubby chaser? YOU?” someone once balked at a party. I would’ve thrown my work Timbs at him if he hadn’t also been the host.
But I’ve never had time for fuccbois trembling to impress each other, and nothing but contempt for the closeted admirer too petrified to be seen in public with someone a size 26, but more than willing to slide into their DMs under the cover of an eggplant emoji. In the words of every mentor worth her salt: Do the goddamn work.
Christopher Knight, Museum admission should be free:
Museums like to say that they are eager to engage new audiences, and no doubt they are. Growing attendance by a quarter without tinkering with the program is a pretty good working definition of new audience engagement.
Admission policies often have an unacknowledged influence on museum programs too, and it isn't always healthy. Admission fees turn visitors into customers, and relying on customers turns an educational enterprise — which is what a museum is — into a public entertainment. Quantity of response trumps quality of response, and in the short run the surest way to juice quantity is to popularize the program.
More than one reviewer noted how impressive it was to capture these “ordinary” Americans: In fact, Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir used the word three times in his review. So what does it mean when “ordinary” in 2014 still passes as the white experience? When the questionable treatment of ethnic minorities as props for the white characters nary raises a flag? Films don’t need to reflect experiences of all people, nor even the average experience. However, it is important that filmmakers be aware of how issues like race, gender, and class can matter. The benignly naive stance of Boyhood informs the luxury of living within a bubble where these issues can be ignored.
In life, as in this film, the unequal treatment of race is rarely blatant. Instead, it is something subtler, a gentle slope — the equivalent of the metaphorical boiling of the frog. It may not even be intentional. But those who face it every day quickly learn to read even the quietest of signals. We know when we exist only as props to make white people feel better about themselves. Or as punchlines to make them laugh. And then we take a step back, into the shadows, as we watch white people reinforce a world that places them front and centre and never question what that means.
[…] “If there’s anything we’ve learned from Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds or Sandy Bullock in The Blind Side or Hilary Swank in that movie nobody ever saw, it’s that all you need to fix minority problems is a really pretty white woman.”
R. Blair, Iron Man 3: Blue (Da Ba Dee):
Iron Man 3 is one of the best movies about PTSD I have ever seen.
The philosopher Susan Brison has summarized a view of trauma in her excellent book Aftermath: Violence and the Remaking of a Self where a trauma is above all an interruption—of whatever life you had been living before, of whatever plans you may have had, of any coherent story you had ever been able to tell yourself about who you were and how you got here, of the possibility of any future at all.
Bianca Sparacino, How To Ruin Your Life:
You ruin your life by letting your past govern it. It is common for certain things in life to happen to you. There will be heartbreak, confusion, days where you feel like you aren’t special or purposeful. There are moments that will stay with you, words that will stick. You cannot let these define you – they were simply moments, they were simply words. If you allow for every negative event in your life to outline how you view yourself, you will view the world around you negatively. You will miss out on opportunities because you didn’t get that promotion five years ago, convincing yourself that you were stupid. You will miss out on affection because you assumed your past love left you because you weren’t good enough, and now you don’t believe the man or the woman who urges you to believe you are. This is a cyclic, self-fulfilling prophecy. If you don’t allow yourself to move past what happened, what was said, what was felt, you will look at your future with that lens, and nothing will be able to breach that judgment. You will keep on justifying, reliving, and fueling a perception that shouldn’t have existed in the first place.
Nicholas Dames, The Chapter: A History:
The chapter is tied intimately to our notions of literacy, as signalled by the fact that we give the name “chapter books” to the texts that offer school-age children their first mature reading experiences. More than this, the chapter has become a way of looking at the world, a way of dividing time and, therefore, of dividing experience. Its origins date back to long before the printing press or even the bound codex, back to the emergence of prose in antiquity as both an expressive and an informational medium. Literary evolution rarely seems slower than it does in the case of the chapter. […]
What the chapter did for the novel was to aerate it: by encouraging us to pause, stop, and put the book down—a chapter before bed, say—the chapter-break helps to root novels in the routines of everyday life. The chapter openly permitted a reading oriented around pauses—for reflection or rumination, perhaps, but also for refreshment or diversion. Laurence Sterne’s “Tristram Shandy” insisted that “chapters relieve the mind,” encouraging our immersion by letting us know that we will soon be allowed to exit and return to other tasks or demands. Coming and going—an attention paid out rhythmically—would become part of how novelists imagined their books would be read. […]
The unassuming quality of the chapter, its way of not insisting on its importance but marking a transition nonetheless, turns out to be its most useful, if also its most vexing, quality. It is a vocabulary for noting the way we can organize our pasts into units. Some things stop; others begin. We note these shifts, in relationships or jobs or domiciles, reassured that the environing story itself—our lives—are still ongoing. But how do we know when we are starting a new chapter? How are we justified in picking a moment out of fluid passing time and declaring a pause?
Aaron Schuster, A Philosophy of Tickling:
Aristotle famously defined man as the rational animal (zoon echon logon), and as the political animal (zoon politikon). But there are also passages in his work that indicate another less remarked upon, though no less profound, definition. In Parts of Animals, he writes: “When people are tickled, they quickly burst into laughter, and this is because the motion quickly penetrates to this part, and even though it is only gently warmed, still it produces a movement (independently of the will) in the intelligence which is recognizable. The fact that human beings only are susceptible to tickling is due (1) to the fineness of their skin and (2) to their being the only creatures that laugh.” Perhaps this notion of the “ticklish animal” was further elaborated in the second book of the Poetics, the lost treatise on comedy; indeed, the relationship between ticklish laughter and comic laughter remains an open question. Should tickling be investigated under the heading of comedy or of touch? Touch, Aristotle argues, is the most primary sense, and human beings are uniquely privileged in possessing the sharpest sense of touch thanks to the delicate nature of their skin. Though other animals have more advanced smell or hearing, “man’s sense of touch … excels that of all other animals in fineness.” We might view tickling as a side effect of the hyper-sensitivity of human touch. Our peculiar vulnerability to tickling is the price to be paid for more sophisticated and discriminating access to the world. […]
An additional note on animal tickling: the most famously ticklish beast is no doubt the trout, which falls into a trance-like state when its underbelly is lightly rubbed. This has been known for ages; in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Maria says, while planning to trick Malvolio, “Lie thou there; for here comes the trout that must be caught with tickling.”
Roisin Kiberd, Online Dating Is Turning Us All Into Tamagotchis:
Keeping a digital pet alive is a lot like an online relationship, I thought. The beeps and constant maintenance teach you to channel affection through a tiny interface, just like someone demanding attention through a smartphone.
The encore as we know it has lost its intended meaning. It’s too often a perfunctory charade rather than anything organic or inspired. Of course plenty of live sets will elicit genuine exuberance and an almost primal desire to see more of the powerful thing onstage that has moved everyone so. But just as many sets—sets that are simply good and not mind-blowing—will be followed by a polite upswell in applause that quickly settles into a tepid, prolonged clapping session from an audience forced to wait out a totally unnecessary intermission. If the band takes too long to come back out, they’re pricks. When they do return, they’ll play three or four songs, at least one of which is a crucial piece of the performance as a whole. The artist therefore must emphatically bring home (at least) two sets.
Imagining an America without sports, Sam Riches:
Since sports naturalize notions of difference between men and women, would their elimination result in greater equality? Would we be able to construct games, or other ways of using the human body, where both the achievements of men and women could be celebrated equally? Would a different intellectual or creative pursuit rise to popularity and, if it did, would we be any better for it?
I ran against Rob Ford and suffered the consequences, Munira Abukar:
I saw that my parents and the rest of the community were tired of voting for someone they thought would bring change and not seeing it happen. No one reflected their life experiences, their ideas and their beliefs. I wanted to demonstrate that there are options, so last year I entered the race for councillor in Ward 2. I ran against Rob Ford, knowing I had little chance of beating him. My goal was to show people that it’s possible for one of them to run for office.
What happened during the campaign shocked me. People wrote “Bitch” and “Go back home” on my campaign signs. Being a target made me feel incredibly vulnerable. Then my signs started disappearing. We let the city know, but they said there wasn’t anything they could do. After the election was over, whoever stole the signs placed them back up all over the neighbourhood—likely knowing I’d be fined for it. In total, there were 154 put back up, and in November I received an invoice from Municipal Licensing and Standards for more than $4,000. I’m still fighting the charge—I followed all the rules and shouldn’t be penalized. The racism hit my team pretty hard; it took a lot out of them. The youngest volunteer was only 11 or 12, and they’d never faced anything like it. But I tried to teach them we could persevere past it. People only do this because they have hate in their hearts; you don’t have to give them any space in yours.
How Fashion Helped Defeat 18th-Century Anti-Vaxxers, Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell
A sense of normalcy is exactly what’s missing from today’s vaccination debate. Already stressed-out new parents are bombarded with the alarmist, emotional accusations of the anti-vaxxers who claim vaccination can cause autism on one hand, and the strident, jargony denials of the medical establishment on the other. We hear a lot about the risks of vaccinations—or, alternatively, the much more serious risks of foregoing them and losing herd immunity as vaccination rates drop below 92 percent—but little about the vast majority of parents who quietly continue to vaccinate their children according to CDC guidelines, without complications.
This is where fashion could once more play a role. Just as those "I Voted" stickers have a certain election-day cachet and effectively shame those who haven’t voted into getting to the polls, an "I Vaccinated" sticker could start a revolution, or at a least a conversation. Some clinics already give out similar stickers during flu season—not to reward the vaccinated, but to remind the rest of us to get our shots.
The Last English Teacher, Nick Ripatrazone
I teach every class like it is my last. It could be. When I started teaching, I thought my purpose was to create a legion of English majors. I have learned that my purpose is to pause the lives of my students for long enough that a line of poetry is the loudest sound they encounter during the day.