Headline, Nexus »

Were Mr. Darcy and Boo Radley Autistic? New and Old Books Are Reframing a Misunderstood Mental Condition

By | May 24, 2017

Is autism cool?
It is in literature, as novels featuring characters on the autism spectrum have become so frequent that they’ve spawned a new genre: “autism lit,” or “aut lit.”
Many of the works put a positive spin on autism. These autistic characters have abilities as well as disabilities; they exist not only as mirrors or catalysts to help others solve their problems, but as active agents …

Headline, Nexus »

How Iceland’s Rugged Viking Heritage Helped Salvage Its Ravaged Economy

By | May 23, 2017

What can we learn from the Vikings?
I usually write in this space about the economies of the Pacific Rim, and the lessons they hold for policymakers in the United States. But this year, Iceland, with its stunning beauty, is the place to go on vacation, and so I headed to the other side of the planet.
Settled by Vikings in the ninth century, Iceland was …

Connecting California, Headline, Joe Mathews »

California’s Real Budgetary Sin—We Spend Too Little, Not Too Much

By | May 22, 2017

We have reached the high holy days of California’s budget season, as our governor and legislative leaders decide which programs will gain new life, and which will be sacrificed. And so our state government’s ministers have begun their ritual sermons on the dangers of overspending.
They are preaching nonsense. California’s real problem is underspending.
Go ahead and dismiss my claim as blasphemy. After so many years of …

Featured, Poetry »

Been beyond a rough season #poem

By | May 19, 2017

just after sunrise at the Radcliffe CoMart lunch counter,
the day’s work already done.
Been beyond a rough season.
Emerald ash borers come up in the orchards,
gutted plums and cherries.
Acres of dent corn so stem-cankered
every granary in the state is less than half-full.
Old timers calling it an omen,
proof of half-assed faith in earthwork,
saying a field is like a woman—you have to praise her
electric grit if you …

Headline, What It Means to Be American »

How Irish American Athletes Slugged Their Way to Respectability

By | May 19, 2017

In his 1888 book The Ethics of Boxing and Manly Sport, a high-minded treatise on the ennobling effect of sports, the journalist, poet, and Irish exile John Boyle O’Reilly wrote that “there is no branch of athletics in which Irishmen, or the sons of Irishmen, do not hold first place in all the world.” The boast was closer to true than many would realize. By …

Headline, Nexus »

An Overconfident Public Learns the Limits of Nate Silver, and Big Data, to Predict the Future

By | May 18, 2017

It’s dark outside and you’re bleary-eyed. You search for your phone and it reads 3:17 a.m. Your mind starts to wander: Why does my boss want to meet with me tomorrow? Did I forget to change the diaper on my baby and will I soon be awoken by crying and a wet bed? Will that fun, flirty date turn into something real?
You then use …

Headline, Nexus »

Why Suckering Americans Is a Booming Business

By | May 17, 2017

American capitalism has always provided openings for hucksters and outright swindlers.
For centuries, this society has been especially receptive to economic innovation and the strategies of wealth-seeking that so often accompany it. Openness to new technologies and new ways of doing business exacerbates information gaps between sellers and buyers. Those gaps, along with the enthusiasm that comes with new products and investment vehicles, create …

Headline, Nexus »

Trump Is Right That the System is “Rigged”—and He’s Stacking It More

By | May 16, 2017

Pundits nearly always attribute Donald Trump’s success to right-wing “populism.” This conclusion is dangerously misleading. Trump’s rise is rooted firmly in his ability to make an old-fashioned word—“rigged”—work in surprisingly fresh ways. Trump correctly diagnosed a feeling among working people that the system was rigged against them, and then leveraged that against his seemingly more sophisticated and better-funded opponents in both parties. That he went into …

Featured, The Takeaway »

Mitchell Duneier Explains the Invention of the Ghetto, as Place and as Idea

By | May 15, 2017

When sociologist Mitchell Duneier was growing up in the 1960s, he said, “references to the word ghetto were references in my house and in my segregated Jewish community on Long Island to the Nazi ghettos.”
A half-century later, Duneier, a Princeton University sociologist, explained to an overflow audience at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles that the word’s meaning has become vastly different. …

Connecting California, Headline »

With Local Governments Crying “NIMBY,” Aggressive State Meddling Could Fix California’s Housing Crisis

By | May 15, 2017

All the debate about how to address California’s massive housing shortage is obscuring the big picture: a state takeover of local housing policy has begun.
That’s the real import of the more than 100 bills that have been introduced in the legislature to change housing policy in various ways. None of the current proposals is up to the task of getting the state to build sufficient …

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