Above the Arctic Circle in Alaska, a half-day's journey by snowmobile from the nearest paved road or tree, a village called Kivalina sits on a slip of permanently frozen earth bracketed by water — a lagoon on one side and the Chukchi Sea on the other. Everything on Kivalina is hard: there are no roads, few jobs, and rising waters that will soon swallow the island whole. But life can get better if the villagers catch a whale. It hasn't happened since 1994, but that's no reason to give up. This just might be the year. [more inside]
Three years ago, the Republican-led House was close to reaching a compromise on immigration. This is the inside story of what went wrong. - Alec MacGillis, ProPublica [more inside]
"If, in SOCOM’s accounting, the United States has engaged in relatively few actual wars, don’t credit “deterrence.” Instead, the command has done its best to simply redefine war out of existence, as in Iraq and Afghanistan, in favor of those “gray zone challenges.” If one accepts that quasi-wars are actually war, then the Defense Department has done little to deter conflict. The United States has, in fact, been involved in some kind of military action — by SOCOM’s definition — in every year since 1980." How's successful has the US been in achieving those aims, reducing conflict, and actually succeeding in it's objectives? Face it, America doesn't win a lot of wars. [more inside]
"For Asian-American actors, there is a persistent fear of being left out of the conversation entirely, since “diversity” has often been conflated with black representation only. As Hamilton star Leslie Odom Jr. put it, “In America, things get boiled down into a black and white issue, but I want to see stories about Asian people, I want to see stories about trans people — diversity is not just a black and white issue. … We’ve still got some work to do when you talk about real diversity.” (Buzzfeed longform)
"American Male, a short film [~6 min] from MTV’s Look Different Creator Competition, is a gritty look at how gender norms make it hard for us to be who we really are." [content warning: some violence]
Rosemarie Garland-Thomson writes for the New York Times: "Disability is everywhere once you start noticing it. A simple awareness of who we are sharing our public spaces with can be revelatory. Wheelchair users or people with walkers, hearing aids, canes, service animals, prosthetic limbs or breathing devices may seem to appear out of nowhere, when they were in fact there all the time."
To "more fully understand why conservative [American] politics [has] become synonymous with no-questions-asked support of Israel," Author Tom Bissell went on a ten day “Stand with Israel Tour” hosted by right-wing Jewish Conservative talk show pundit Dennis Prager. My Holy Land Vacation: Touring Israel with 450 Christian Zionists, is this month’s Harper’s Magazine cover story. [more inside]
George Takei, broadcasting on Facebook Live from Heart Mountain Internment Camp, where he and his family and tens of thousands of Americans of Japanese ancestry were forced to live in during World War II. Mr. Takei was recently instrumental in convincing the Rago Arts and Auction Center not to auction off artifacts and artworks created in internment camps.
From "American Mountains" to "American Conditions", language maven Arika Okrent (previously) looks at what some of what other countries, languages and cultures slap the label "American" onto.
What did Americans know as the Holocaust unfolded? How did they respond? A new initiative of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, "History Unfolded" is using crowdsourcing to scour newspapers across the country for articles that ran between 1933 and 1945 on the plight of Europe’s Jews. The project focuses on 20 historical events from the time period. [more inside]
Teaching Men to Be Emotionally Honest [NYT]: "By the time many young men do reach college, a deep-seeded* gender stereotype has taken root that feeds into the stories they have heard about themselves as learners. Better to earn your Man Card than to succeed like a girl, all in the name of constantly having to prove an identity to yourself and others." [more inside]
The March 1st round of voting in US primaries and caucuses is today. Since 1988, no candidate has won his party’s nomination without winning Super Tuesday. With early voting and absentee voting already happening, the people of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia will turn out for both Republicans and Democrats. Republicans in Alaska will hold caucuses, as will Democrats in Colorado. Democrats in American Samoa also nominate. On the Republican side, with 661 delegates to be allocated today, Donald Trump currently holds the delegate lead. On the Democrat side, with 865 delegates to be delegated today, Hillary Clinton currently holds the delegate lead. (A more visual delegate tracker) The actual POTUS election odds continue to make Hillary the favorite, from Donald with the rest at long odds. Politico has more information on today, as does the Wall Street Journal and 538. With variable weather for voters, Nate Silver being cautious about assumptions and Obama's surprise endorsement of Trump, it's all to play for.
How do you quantify the effects of things that don't happen to you? "The whole point of living in a culture is that much of the labor of perception and judgment is done for you, spread through media, and absorbed through an imperceptible process that has no single author." (previously; via)
Selfies, Dating, and the American 14-Year-Old. "As crushes go from real-life likes to digital “likes,” the typical American teenage girl is confronted with a set of social anxieties never before seen in human history. Nancy Jo Sales observes one 14-year-old as she gets ready to embark on her first I.R.L. date."
Tonight, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton will face off in a town hall from Nevada that will also will stream live at MSNBC.com and NBCNews.com and the Spanish-language version on Telemundo.com, ahead of this weekend's Nevada caucus. Meanwhile, three GOP hopefuls, Donald Trump, John Kasich and Jeb Bush will be in Columbia, South Carolina to answer questions from voters ahead of the Feb. 20 Republican primary in the key Southern state. The event starts at 7 p.m. and will be moderated by CNN's Anderson Cooper.
Blogger suggests that a win For Hillary Clinton's methods on the way to the White House is a loss for participatory democracy. Alongside the quiet rollback of Obama's ban on contributions from federal lobbyists within the DNC comes what appears to be a novel tactic to maintain control of the nomination process by the Democratic establishment or HRC: the formation of fundraising agreements between HRC and state Democratic parties. The implications for participatory democracy do not seem good given that state parties with their success financially tied to HRC's success must oversee very narrow caucuses and primaries.
Donald Trump begins and ends each of his presidential campaign rallies with “The Music of the Night” from The Phantom of the Opera and “Memory” from Cats. [more inside]
"There was power in a name, and I figured if mine were Elizabeth, maybe the blue eyes and blonde hair would follow. I would look more like her. My mother. She has stories of walking around—me in her arms, my brother in a stroller—and people asking what country we were adopted from. My mother is too polite to say things like, The country of my vagina." "Where I'm Writing From" by Onnesha Roychoudhuri.
You know, a little known fact about the Greeks is that they invented The Sequel. So, in the finest tradition of their ancestors, the Portokalos family will be returning to the big screen in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, this coming March. [more inside]
Michael Twitty is becoming one of the most transformative figures in the world of food. Reinterrogating and recreating African-American history in the context of American culinary history through his blog Afroculinaria, Twitty argues for "culinary justice" in food writing and the conversation on food history. His project (and forthcoming book of the same name) The Cooking Gene is in part a product of his Southern Discomfort Tour, a journey retracing the preservation and transmission of culinary knowledge before, during and beyond slavery. [more inside]
Scott Waters is a 66 year old American, artist, photographer and ex-Apple Computer employee. He recently took a trip in England (Portreath, Redruth, Wadebridge, Padstow, Ashby de la Zouch, Little Eton, and Oxford) and listed his observations on Facebook. It went viral; coverage in Cosmopolitan, Daily Mirror, Daily Telegraph, and the Metro. Naturally, some people disagree. [more inside]
I've listened to most of the Wartime podcast and enjoy it. But there is one episode that really caught my attention. As a Canadian, I don't know a great deal about the American Revolution and I had no idea that a huge number of Germans fought for the British. This episode gives a fascinating glimpse into who these Germans were. Check it out.
The Tangled History of Barbed Wire by Robert Zaretsky [Boston Globe]
“Like inventors from Joseph Guillotin to Alfred Nobel, whose creations escaped their original purpose and were yoked to evil ends, Joseph Glidden would have been shocked at what became of his. In 1874, the Illinois farmer and New Hampshire native, fastening sharpened metal knots along thick threads of steel, created barbed wire. Thanks to its high resilience and low cost, the rapid installation of the coils and lasting dissuasion of the barbs, the wire transformed the American West. Ranchers could protect their cattle against predators, both wild and human, as they pushed the frontier ever further west. The wire itself came to be called 'devil’s rope.'”Previously. Previously. Previously.
In Unit Stalked by Suicide, Veterans Try to Save One Another. The Second Battalion, Seventh Marine Regiment (2/7) was deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan in 2008. During eight months of combat, the unit killed hundreds of enemy fighters and suffered more casualties than any other Marine battalion that year. When its members returned, most left the military. Seven years later, at least 13 of the 1200 members of that battalion have killed themselves in the interim: two while on active duty, the rest after they left the military. That is nearly four times the rate for young male veterans as a whole and 14 times that for all Americans. (This story discusses self-harm, suicide and suicidal ideation. Some readers may find the content disturbing.) [more inside]
“I didn’t take him seriously,” is what Joey says again and again to the people who keep asking the same questions again and again, including investigators who arrived at the trailer after one of the most notorious mass killings in recent American history. Why did he do nothing? they asked. What kind of people would do nothing? (Longform WaPo)
The staggering reality of America's post-9/11 era of perpetual war: For every active duty soldier killed in combat, twenty veterans died by their own hand. This is Daniel Wolfe's story. (This story discusses self-harm, suicide and suicidal ideation. Some readers may find the content disturbing.) [more inside]
“If you wanted to dismiss something, you would say ‘this is horiatiki,’ to mean, this is not good,” says Kremezi. “So for a salad to succeed with that name, it must have been a great salad!” Greek The Salad - Dan Nosowitz on authenticity, history, Greek salad, and the very idea of"American Food" (plus two recipes)
"They Don’t Give a Damn about Governing... Once allied with but now increasingly hostile to the Republican hierarchy, conservative media is shaping the party’s agenda in ways that are impeding Republicans’ ability to govern and to win presidential elections."
A Dream Undone: Inside the 50-year campaign to roll back the Voting Rights Act.
Great Confrontations at the Oxford Union: That Englishmen are Funnier Than Americans was the third in a series of debates held at the Oxford Union debating hall in 1986, attempting to settle the debate over who is funnier, the Americans or the British. [more inside]
Obsessively Detailed Map of American Literature's Most Epic Road Trips
"The...map is the result of a painstaking and admittedly quixotic effort to catalog the country as it has been described in the American road-tripping literature. It includes every place-name reference in 12 books about cross-country travel...and maps the authors' routes on top of one another. You can track an individual writer's descriptions of the landscape as they traveled across it, or you can zoom in to see how different authors have written about the same place at different times."[more inside]
Was the American Revolution a mistake? A counterfactual examination.
Juan Felipe Herrera, From Farm Fields to Poet Laureate [New York Times]
The Library of Congress announced on Wednesday that Juan Felipe Herrera, a son of migrant farmworkers whose writing fuses wide-ranging experimentalism with reflections on Mexican-American identity, will be the next poet laureate. The appointment of Mr. Herrera, who will succeed Charles Wright, comes as the country is debating immigration, a recurring subject of his work, which has been collected in books like “Border-Crosser With a Lamborghini Dream” and “187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border.”[more inside]
Many American, Canadian, and British military veterans opposed to the actions of ISIS in Iraq have been, individually, going over to fight with the Kurdish Peshmerga for some time now, bringing thousands of dollars of military gear and irreplaceable training. There have been so many of them fighting that the Peshmerga are now actively recruiting military veterans online. Not to be internet-outdone, military veterans have begun investigating forming units of their own to fight ISIS -including notable and controversial science-fiction author John Ringo, who suggested trying to crowdfund for 'a brigade of soldiers'. [more inside]
[E]ven though the restaurant's cartoonish decor bordered on offensive, it was still a temple to a people and a cuisine that America couldn't ignore. Taco Bells were everywhere. In every strip mall. Off every highway exit. Even the racists, the immigrant-haters, the people who'd laugh at my elementary-school stand-up comedy routine would run for the border.John DeVore writes about finding the "unexpected, self-affirming solace" of home... at Taco Bell. [more inside]
You can laugh or sneer at Taco Bell. Shake your head at its high fat and salt content. Go ahead and lecture on what true Mexican food is. My mom would probably just roll her eyes at you, and take a broken yellow shard of crispy taco shell and use it to scoop up the pintos, cheese, and salsa.
"These vintage GE appliances are original to my house circa 1956. The house was never occupied and appliances were never used. The manuals were still taped to the appliances..." (Flickr) Welcome to the New Frontier - as defined by mid-century American suburbs. via
Um, here’s an, uh, map that shows where Americans use 'um' vs. 'uh.' "Every language has filler words that speakers use in nervous moments or to buy time while thinking. Two of the most common of these in English are 'uh' and 'um.' They might seem interchangeable, but data show that their usage break down across surprising geographic lines. Hmm." And these lines may give evidence of the so-called Midland dialect. [more inside]
Since the controversial 2010 takeover of the British company Cadbury, by the makers of processed cheese slices Kraft, consumers of chocolate have been dismayed at the many changes brought in by the new owners. But the breaking point of many has been reached as the recipe for Cadbury Creme Eggs in the UK is changed, replacing dairy milk chocolate with standard cocoa mix chocolate. To add insult to culinary injury, Mondelez International, owned by Kraft Foods, is also introducing five eggs in a pack instead of three and six-packs. The opinions of actors and wallpaper designers. [more inside]
"For any given profession, it turns out that there are certain names that appear more often in that profession than in the general population. Here's a chart with 6 of the names that are the most disproportionately common in 37 professions." [more inside]
Halloween and Thanksgiving are two of the slipperiest holidays in the American tradition. Costumed masquerading and trick-or-treating used to happen on Thanksgiving, while Halloween was mostly devoted to vandalism. As Americans did they best to stamp out the vandalism, they also cleaned up the unruly traditions of Turkey Day, banishing the Thanksgiving Ragamuffins to October. [more inside]
Chapman University has released The Chapman Survey on American Fears, a comprehensive, scientific survey of 1500 Americans on what they fear the most. [more inside]
Gun Wars: the struggle over gun rights and regulation in America, in the aftermath of the Newtown school shootings and the ongoing congressional stalemate over federal gun legislation. An investigative report from "29 students from 16 journalism schools, as well as an experienced staff of editors" for Carnegie-Knight News21. [more inside]
The shortening leash on American children: We heard a lot about sneaking out, petty theft, amateur arson, drugs, and sexual experimentation from our older respondents. But as time passes, the picture of childhood looks a lot less wild and reckless and a lot more monitored. We asked parents how they would react if they caught their kids doing what they had done as kids. A typical response: "I'd probably freak out and turn my home into a prison."
Looking for American recipes to take to tonight's 4th of July party? It's easy to find historic recipes. But why not look to America's great fiction writers instead? [more inside]