July 4, 2014 / From the Editor
Howard Megdal makes a defense for the hot dog: Let’s be honest: When you are …
May 1, 2014
Each Friday we compile a list of interesting links and articles our editors find from across the web. Here’s what’s catching our eye this week.
This week Biola University hosted an interesting conversation on the Future of Protestantism (video).
The Times reviews a Barbara Ehrenreich book that was featured in past Briefings:
“Living With a Wild God” makes for pleasantly prickly reading. Ehrenreich is intrigued by her questions, but also exasperated and more than a little embarrassed. After all, she’s Barbara Ehrenreich, she’ll have you know, an atheist and a journalist, the author of polemics against self-soothing delusions like positive thinking. She’s our professional skeptic, our slayer of platitudes. Not the sort of woman who would embark on anything so self-indulgent as a memoir, let alone babble on about mystical experiences. “I had — and still have — no inclination to try to patch this all together into a single story. I will never write an autobiography, nor am I sure, after all these years, that there is even one coherent ‘self’ or ‘voice’ to serve as narrator,” she writes in the foreword. And then, of course, she proceeds to do exactly that over the course of the next 200 pages. She strings together her visions on the mountain, the chaos of her childhood, her studies in science and her antiwar activism into a single story — a search for truth, she says — telling it in her “sternly objective reporter” voice, the voice she’s cultivated, the voice we know.
But maybe there’s a better question to ask first: Which Twitter did we lose?
Looking back, 2013 Twitter was basically a hangover to 2012 Twitter, when we could imagine leaving the platform some day but not anytime soon. Or maybe we’re chasing the ghost of 2011 Twitter. It was a hectic feed then, a staticky mess of affiliate notifications, manual retweets, and Foursquare checkins. Remember 2010 Twitter? The year it seemed everyone had finally caved and signed up. The Arab Spring made people optimistic about the platform as a transformative force. Roger Ebert and Rob Delaney ruled. 2009 Twitter is a blur and the disjointedness of 2008 Twitter is hard to remember at this point. Before that, people weren’t even having conversations on the platform. Not really
If you’re a fan of getting advice on the educational system from comedians, you’ll want to know Louis C.K. is not a fan of the Common Core:
In several of his tweets, C.K. blasted the Common Core, the federally approved (but not nationally mandated) standards that most states, including New York, have adopted. Parental critiques of Common Core math problems have gone viral before. At the same time, defenders of the Common Core have argued that the standards themselves are not the problem so much as the poorly conceived or badly expressed curricula in which they are often embedded. This defense sounds reasonable enough, though parents whose children come home with worksheets presenting obscurely worded or illogically presented problems and bearing the words Common Core can hardly be blamed for conflating the two.
A school in the UK has created its own font to aid in the learning process:
After years of using standard library fonts, Small had grown weary. “I’ve been frustrated with the lack of clarity of letters in fonts since my beginnings as a teacher,” he explains. He wanted a unifying typeface that could satisfy all of Castledown’s guidelines: sans-serif, dyslexic-friendly, and shaped similarly to the way kids naturally write. On top of all that, the font should be a learning tool, helping students to improve their reading and writing.
Wikipedia is useless:
Wikipedia has been a massive success but has always had immense flaws, the greatest one being that nothing it publishes can be trusted. This, you might think, is a pretty big flaw. There are over 21 million editors with varying degrees of competence and honesty. Rogue editors abound and do not restrict themselves to supposedly controversial topics, as the recently discovered Hillsborough example demonstrates.
The NFL draft is fast approaching so ESPN covers Derek Carr, brother of a failed first pick David Carr:
After that, Derek’s draft became David’s cause. Derek moved into David’s house in Bakersfield. David hired Sullivan, out of work after being let go by the Bucs, to coach his brother through the process. Driven by pride and regret and love, he put Derek in a cocoon — lifting in the morning, throwing in the afternoon, film study at night. “If I had to take some bumps so he doesn’t have to,” David says, “so be it.”
Mental Floss has a glossary if you want to talk old school this weekend. My favorite is meatspace:
The place where online communication occurs is cyberspace, so some wag came up with meatspace for the place where you interact with others in the flesh.
This week marked the 10 year anniversary of the wonderful film, “Mean Girls“:
Mean Girls, as a typical High School Movie, appropriated all these elements for itself. As an atypical High School Movie, however, it did so in the service not just of storytelling, but of sociology. Fey based her script on Rosalind Wiseman’s book Queen Bees & Wannabes; in writing it, she has said, she was as interested in teenage anthropology as she was in teenage angst. Mean Girls spins around the axis of its detailed taxonomies. “Where you sit in the cafeteria is crucial because you got everybody there,” Cady Heron’s first high school friend, Janis Ian, tells her.
The Donald Sterling thing has been beaten into the ground but the ESPN reactions are varied. Bill Simmons considers Sterling, the NBA owner, in his essay:
I dressed in black for Game 5 of the Clippers-Warriors series. I wasn’t alone. More than 40 percent of the fans wore black T-shirts, black blouses, black dresses, black everything. The cheerleaders wore skimpy black outfits. Every advertising sign or banner throughout the arena was covered in black. You looked around last night and thought about black.
Whereas Jason Whitlock focuses on the mentality of the moment:
Well-intentioned white people should be holding nationally televised panel discussions focusing on ways to lessen the damaging impact of white-supremacy culture. Well-intentioned white people who work within or support the NBA should be demanding that the NBA power structure cede some of its governing power to men and women who look like the overwhelming majority of the league’s players.
Instead, the mainstream fanned the flames, enraging the angry black mob looking for a quick solution, a sacrificial lamb — and now, by the end of the week, we’ll be back to business as usual, pretending the stoning of Sterling harmed the culture that created him.
And in radio interview, Bomani Jones focuses on the humor, the real cost, and difficulties of the moment:
I could delve deeper into some of the points Bomani Jones made yesterday on the Dan Le Batard Show, about how fundamentally silly this whole Donald Sterling affair sounds when you really listen to what’s being said, about how exasperating it is for those of us who see the everyday effects of race to have to deal with the performative sanctimony of those who deny race’s continuing impact in all but the most obvious, largely inconsequential situations, or about the collective failure of the NBA, the media, the players, the coaches, and just about everyone else to comprehend, condemn, and take action against the actually harmful things Sterling has done over the years, but instead I think the flamethrower Jones uses is plenty hot enough.
The final word goes to Ta-Nehisi Coates:
Far better to implicate Donald Sterling and be done with the whole business. Far better to banish Cliven Bundy and table the uncomfortable reality of our political system. A racism that invites the bipartisan condemnation of Barack Obama and Mitch McConnell must necessarily be minor. A racism that invites the condemnation of Sean Hannity can’t be much of a threat. But a racism, condemnable by all civilized people, must make itself manifest now and again so that we may celebrate how far we have come. Meanwhile racism, elegant, lovely, monstrous, carries on.
And if you need a laugh after all that, Jimmy Fallon tricks Yankees fans into booing Robinson Cano to his face:
David A. Garner