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Chuck Taylor—the Shoe Salesman Whose Name Became Synonymous With Basketball

By | September 14, 2017

When Chuck Taylor, who was born in rural southern Indiana in 1901, left home at age 17 to play professional basketball, he was following an unlikely dream. The game of basketball—invented by James Naismith, a YMCA physical fitness instructor in Massachusetts in 1891—was still a minor sport in America. Few competitive leagues existed, and those that did were regional. Most organized teams were subsidized by …

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What the Gender Reveal Fad Says About Modern Pregnancy

By | September 13, 2017

My youngest daughter often asks me to tell her about the day when, pregnant with her, I was riding to work on the subway and wondering whether she would be a boy or a girl. Just at that moment, I looked up and saw a deliveryman holding a bouquet of pink balloons and a sign that said, “It’s A Girl.”
Now, both my daughter and …

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When You Live Online, Will Anyone Know When You Die?

By | September 12, 2017

I suspected that something was wrong on the Sunday morning when I saw the beginning of a Facebook post in my newsfeed sidebar that said, in French, “Our dear AJ has given up …” I was unable to read the rest because it was removed as I looked at it, but I was concerned that it might actually mean that AJ was hurt or in …

Headline, What It Means to Be American »

When the Idea of Home Was Key to American Identity

By | September 11, 2017

Like viewers using an old-fashioned stereoscope, historians look at the past from two slightly different angles—then and now. The past is its own country, different from today. But we can only see that past world from our own present. And, as in a stereoscope, the two views merge.
I have been living in America’s second Gilded Age—our current era that began in the 1980s and took …

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Is Batgirl the Next Great Feminist Superhero?

By | September 8, 2017

Last year, DC Comics’ bestselling graphic novel was Batman: The Killing Joke. Originally published in 1988, it’s one of the most famous, and infamous, superhero stories of all time. The book began with the Joker attacking Barbara Gordon and leaving her paralyzed, spurring Batman on a campaign of vengeance. Now, decades later, this assault could define the direction of a blockbuster cinematic franchise. Barbara Gordon …

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How Prince Introduced Us to the “Minneapolis Sound”

By | September 7, 2017

The pop music genius Prince Rogers Nelson, better known to most of us as Prince, made his national television debut on American Bandstand in 1980. Performing “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” his first big hit in the United States, he gave the country its first taste of the Minneapolis Sound, an infectious blend of rock, R&B, funk, and New Wave that would become a significant …

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How the South Uses Its ‘Anti-Union Arsenal’ to Keep Workers From Organizing

By | September 6, 2017

The crushing rejection on August 5 of a United Auto Workers bid to organize a 6,500-worker Nissan assembly plant near Canton, Mississippi seemed to present the proverbial déjà vu all over again for organized labor’s ancient and oft-thwarted crusade to gain a serious foothold among Southern workers.
This time, however, we are not talking about textile and apparel plants in the 1920s or ‘30s, …

Connecting California, Headline, Joe Mathews »

In California, Pro Football Is for Losers

By | September 5, 2017

No one can know for sure whether any of California’s four National Football League teams—the 49ers, Raiders, Rams, and Chargers—will emerge as big winners in the new season.
But we already know who the losers will be: California cities foolish enough to host NFL teams.
In the rest of America, major cities try to attract the NFL by building costly new stadiums, because they see football franchises …

Headline, Poetry »

Lucifer often leads/ in the first verse #poem

By | September 1, 2017

It’s not as thin as one might think, though
there is only one version, and each copy
features only the words—no music.
In a brief moment of inspiration, Lucifer
himself penned “God is Dead” watching
Golgotha from afar. It was popular
for a few days. Notable titles include “Backslidin’
Away,” “Every Sin’s a Deadly Sin,” “Babylon
on my Mind,” and “You Don’t Need Our Help.”
At command, the shedim and mazzikim
gather, …

Headline, What It Means to Be American »

How Colleges Migrated Into Cities And Democratized Higher Education

By | August 31, 2017

Since the end of World War II, most American college students have attended schools in cities and metropolitan areas. Mirroring the rapid urbanization of the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this trend reflects the democratization of college access and the enormous growth in the numbers of commuter students who live at home while attending college.
Going to college in the …