19th-century newspaper ads for patented stomach cures and digestive aids [...] foregrounded mince pie as the K2 of digestive summits. But for every published warning on the dangers of mince, the newspapers published a poem, essay, or editorial praising it as a great symbol of American cultural heritage or a nostalgic reminder of mother love and better times bygone—or even, as the State of Columbia, South Carolina, asserted in 1901, a beneficial Darwinian instrument that had "thinned out the weak ones" among the pioneering generations.So wrote Cliff Doerksen in his wonderful, James Beard award-winning article Mince Pie: The Real American Pie. Doerksen not only gives the history of this once most American of foods, he also makes two mince pies from 19th Century recipes to see if they are indeed all that. This is but one of many great articles Doerksen wrote for The Chicago Reader in recent years (links to a selection below the cut). Sadly, Cliff Doerksen passed at the age of 47 just before Christmas. [more inside]
In recession-hit Saginaw, MI, the initial setting of Simon and Garfunkel's "America", mural painter Eric Shantz has begun painting the lyrics to the song on abandoned buildings.
The New York Times presents an interactive map of America's population separated by race, income, and education, according to census data from 2005 to 2009. One dot for every 50 people. (Previously) [more inside]
"Are the American People Obsolete?" an essay by Michael Lind of the New America Foundation. [more inside]
The American Century, proclaimed so triumphantly at the start of World War II, will be tattered and fading by 2025, its eighth decade, and could be history by 2030.
In his easily digested and insightful summary of America's long term outlook, Bill Gross writes that we're all living in Billy Joel's Allentown now and that the easy solutions, as is often the case, aren't necessarily the right ones.
Per capita US spending on health care in 2008 exceeded $7500-- more than any other OECD nation, half again the spending of the runner-up [PDF], and double its spending in 1990. Why? Aaron Carroll of the Incidental Economist explains in 12 parts. [more inside]
"All reform movements, from the battle for universal health care to the struggle for alternative energy and sane environmental controls to financial regulation to an end to our permanent war economy, have run into this new, terrifying configuration of power. They have confronted an awful truth. We do not count." [more inside]
Robert F. Gallagher served in the United States Army's 815th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion (Third Army) in the European Theater during WWII. He has posted his memoir online: "Scratch One Messerschmitt," told from numerous photos he took during the war and the detailed notes he made shortly afterwards. [more inside]
I’ve spent the better part of the week serving as the foreman for a jury in a criminal case. As they tell you, you’re not allowed to talk about it with anyone, not even your fellow jurors, during the trial. As they also tell you, once the trial is over you can talk about anything you want. So, here goes.
"Isarithmic maps are essentially topographic or contour maps, wherein a third variable is represented in two dimensions by color, or by contour lines, indicating gradations. I had never seen such a map depicting political data — certainly not election returns, and thus sought to create them".
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is an exhibit of photographs by Jeff Sheng that is currently on tour in the US. A sharp contrast to his previous work: Fearless, which highlighted young Canadian and US athletes who openly identify as gay, lesbian or transgendered, this new exhibition shows gay American servicemen who cannot, so they have been photographed in uniform with their faces hidden or outside the photo's frame to protect their anonymity. Flash Galleries: DADT 1, DADT 2. [more inside]
How would you solve the US deficit? Interactive US national budget calculator from the NYT.
With video cameras becoming increasing smaller, cheaper and ubiquitous, questions are arising about the use of them on multiple levels, from governments monitoring their citizens, to private citizens keeping an eye on government and each other. [more inside]
"A pious, peaceful man, York had fought his country's enemy only after great deliberation and had to be convinced that war was sometimes necessary."1 On this day let us remember Sergeant York.
1 Celluloid Soldiers: The Warner Bros. Campaign Against Nazism By Michael E. Birdwell.
1 Celluloid Soldiers: The Warner Bros. Campaign Against Nazism By Michael E. Birdwell.
American Worker Cooperatives: a library, resource centre, startup guide, and map of over 200 industrial cooperatives. [via mefi projects]
Kentucky officials have identified the assailant in the face-stomping of a private citizen shortly before a debate between candidates for the office of Senator in the state of Kentucky. Contrary to initial reports which quickly dismissed the assault as the isolated acts of assorted private citizens, it has now been revealed that the gentleman curb-stomping the head of a MoveOn.org activist prior to the debate between candidates last night was none other than a county-level representative of the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Kentucky, Mr. Rand Paul.
Code-switching is using different languages or language varieties in different contexts. Ta-Nehisi Coates does it. Jay-Z does it. The President does it. But, for African Americans, is code-switching necessary to escape poverty, an element of race as performed or neither?
A Year at War: One Battalion's Wrenching Deployment to Afghanistan: "Some 30,000 American soldiers are taking part in the Afghanistan surge. Here are the stories of the men and women of First Battalion, 87th Infantry of the 10th Mountain Division" out of Fort Drum, NY., based in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan. Over the next year, The New York Times will follow their journey, chronicling the battalion’s part in the surge in northern Afghanistan and the impact of war on individual soldiers and their families back home. (First link is an interactive feature containing images and autoplaying video, and requires flash. Second link is a standard-style article.) [more inside]
Sociologist Amy Schalet has done wonderful research comparing American and Dutch approaches to teen sexuality. (Blog commentary here) [more inside]
IMAGINE THAT THIS MINUTE, ON THIS STATION, YOU RECEIVED WORD THAT WE HAD MADE CONTACT WITH A CIVILIZATION ON ANOTHER PLANET. THE CLOSEST THING IN HUMAN HISTORY TO SUCH AN EVENT TOOK PLACE IN 1493 WHEN NEWS REACHED EUROPE THAT COLUMBUS HAD ENCOUNTERED A NEW WORLD.
Former president Jimmy Carter speaks about the similarities and differences between the political climate in the mid 1970's and the present rise of the Tea Party.
We make this pledge bearing true faith and allegiance to the people we represent, and we invite fellow citizens and patriots to join us in forming a new governing agenda for America. [more inside]
Europe according to... is a project to map stereotypes of European countries according to other countries and groups of people. [more inside]
"Out of the blue, in the middle of a recession, the phone rang. What would it cost, the caller asked the founder of DonorsChoose.org, to fund every California teacher's wish list posted on the Web site? The founder, Charles Best, thought perhaps the female caller would hang up when he tossed out his best guess: "Something over $1 million," he told her. A day later, Hilda Yao, executive director of the Claire Giannini Fund mailed a check of more than $1.3 million to cover the entire California wish list, 2,233 projects in all, with an extra $100,000 tossed in to help pay for other teacher needs across the country. (DonorsChoose: previously on MeFi) [more inside]
"Sure, Bono and Richard Branson can change the world. But there are millions of individuals making a difference who are not rich or famous." The Christian Science Monitor's ongoing Making a Difference section focuses on "that unheralded community – 'to honor the decency and courage and selflessness that surround us.'” [more inside]
The Smoking Gun has come into possession of an unusual RFP from the DEA: they want 'Ebonics experts' to help decipher wiretaps.
Japanese navy recruitment vs. American navy recruitment. American military advert vs. a Swedish one. Just for fun, a Ukrainian military ad. All links from this Reddit thread.
The Gray And The Brown - why the baby boom generation's concerns about race may mean that it's stabbing itself in the back as it moves into retirement.
Shane Harris of the Washingtonian looks at the increasingly aggressive pursuit by the Obama administration of people (especially journalists) who leak sensitive information to the public.
There is a bitter feud between the two women who are trying to gain supremacy in the battle to make all of the Tea Party's travel arrangements.
Anyone who wishes to understand American society must be aware that explanations focusing on the cultural traits of inner-city residents are likely to draw far more attention from policy makers and the general public than structural explanations will. It is an unavoidable fact that Americans tend to de-emphasize the structural origins and social significance of poverty and welfare ... If, in America, you can grow up to be anything you want to be, then any destiny—even poverty—can be viewed through the lens of personal achievement or failure. William Julius Wilson on the political and academic failure to recognize structural causes of inner-city poverty. Wilson interviewed in conjunction with the article. [more inside]
Soldiers involved in the "Collateral Murder" video have come forward to tell their story. [more inside]
These images, by photographers of the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information, are some of the only color photographs taken of the effects of the Depression on America’s rural and small town populations.
Too many laws, too many prisoners - Never in the civilised world have so many been locked up for so little. [previously] (via nc)
In a "Triumph of Policy Over Politics" President Obama today signed most sweeping Wall Street reform bill since Great Depression. Obamas remarks at the signing. A piece-by-piece guide to th financial overhaul law. Timeline of the laws effects. 10 Ways New Wall Street Reform Law Will Help You.
In 1984 Philip Morris created the Marlboro Adventure team to promote their flagship cigarette. DOC (Doctors Ought to Car), an international organization of health professionals, was founded to counteract the promotion of tobacco advertising. In 1993 as an effort to undermine the Marlboro Adventure Team US debut the DOC repainted a VW van as the Barfmobile, hired a handsome comedian [pdf] as Barf Man, printed thousands of Barfboro Barf Bags (imprinted with the words "DOES CIGARETTE ADVERTISING MAKE YOU SICK? US TOO!"), and created the Barfboro Barfing Team. [more inside]
"Art is a legalized form of insanity, and I do it very well."
The Shinnecocks have been a fixture in New York State for centuries — their beads became the wampum Dutch settlers used as money in the colonies — but the US Department of Interior never included them on its official list of Native American tribes. That all changed on June 14th. Almost four centuries since their first contact with Europeans and after a 32-year court battle, the 1,300 member impoverished Shinnecock Native American Nation was formally recognised by the US federal government. The tribe's tiny, 750-acre reservation in the middle of the Hamptons (home and summer playground to some the country's wealthiest Americans,) is now a semi-sovereign nation, allowing them to apply for Federal funding to help them build schools, health centers and to set up their own police force, as well as the right to open a casino. [more inside]
How to Make an American Job Before It's Too Late. Andy Grove, from Intel, writes about America's lost manufacturing sector. [more inside]
For your 4th of July enjoyment: 10 Exceedingly Patriotic American Comic Heroes. Given the overlap between the Golden Age of superheroes and the beginning of WWII it should be no suprise that there are so many patriotically themed superheroes. Probably the first was The Shield ("G-Man Extraordinary"), who eventually faded away to be an occasional character in Archie comics, followed by the revolutiionary war themed Minute Man. But the most enduring of all would be Joe Simon and Jack Kirby's creation Captain America, whose first comic sold just under a million copies and featured Cap doing the most patriotic thing of all: Punching Adolf Hitler in the jaw.
How America got its name: The suprising story of an obscure scholar, an adventurer’s letter, and a pun.
The Sunshine Foundation, a non-profit group dedicated to government transparency & accountability, has obtained Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan's emails from her time in the Clinton White House & made them available in a handy web application. Browse, read, search & mark those you find interesting for others to read.
Today is the first day of summer, and for many Americans that means taking a road trip with the family. For Barry Stiefer, it means visiting all 50 states (48 by car), while only taking one week of vacation time. [more inside]
The backstory to The Beulah Show. "After Beulah was cancelled, the three networks and independent television producers, fearful of being accused of perpetuating racial stereotypes, stopped casting Blacks in their shows almost entirely for the next fifteen years."
Ozark Medieval Fortress – Thirty masons, carpenters and stone carvers authentically dressed, will work all year round for twenty years, the time required to build a fortress in the Middle Ages.
The Personal Photographs of Dr. Vladimir Kosma Zworykin, Television Pioneer. The screen images are time exposure photographs of the picture on the kinescope in the monitoring rack in the main control room. Some were taken with stationary frames of moving picture film projected upon the iconoscope by a standard moving picture machine. Others are actually the pictures transmitted with the iconoscope camera in the studio and outdoors.
It is not our role to take power. It is our role to make the powerful frightened of us. And that's what we've forgotten. Give up that dream! Chris Hedges talks neoliberalism and neofeudalism, the civil rights movement, Camden, Obama, Clinton, Tea Parties, moral nihilism, inverted totalitarianism and corpocracy, NAFTA, welfare reform, health care, labor, poverty, Yugoslavia, post-industrial capitalism, economic crisis, imperial collapse, socialism, and democracy, among other things. [more inside]