Tag Archives: Journalism

Annals of corruption, #4561

In a story about the GOP’s political chances in 2020, please note the sophistication of the nation’s Paper of Record:

But both parties have overwhelming incentives to push next year’s election toward issues of the heart, not the head.

For Republicans, the arrival in Washington of liberal women of color such as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, along with some top Democratic presidential candidates running toward the left, has created irresistible political temptations. With new bogeywomen to caricature, and explosive liberal issues like reparations for the descendants of enslaved blacks, voting rights for prisoners and federal benefits for undocumented immigrants, G.O.P. officials have even more fodder for the sort of scorched-earth, and unabashedly racist, campaign that Mr. Trump ran in 2016.

These new targets offer fresh material with which Republicans can galvanize their base and try to make the case to moderate voters that, while they may be uneasy with the Trump-era G.O.P., the alternative is left-wing radicalism.

Two men, according to the byline, crafted the tough prose of the one-sentence graf quoted above. In the second graf, Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns can barely contain their enthusiasm.

We’re all going to die.

The ‘electability’ trap

“If ‘electability’ previously meant ‘the candidate most associated with the hawkish and business-friendly wing of the party,’ it now seems to have become purely and nakedly demographic,” Alex Pareene writes in “Democrats Have Created an “Electability’ Monster.” Hilary Clinton voters, he writes, “are flocking to the various white men in the race, avoiding candidates they actually might like, because they see their own affinity for those candidates as a political liability.” Pareene: Continue reading

The Ten Commandments of Student Writing

Teaching full time since last August, I’ve got more students than ever, hence more exposure than ever to the infelicities of student writing. I wanted to share these pensées before my next face-to-face course in late June. Let me stress: student writing, not other writing, although why not.

I’ll take suggestions. Continue reading

The afterlife of a moment’s monument: MoPOP Pop Conference 2019

Anticipating my first home-mixed martini with a trembling wonder akin to watching the sun rise over an eastern beach, I sat in my Lyft car a few minutes before seven this morning wondering if this year was the best #PopCon or the benign conflation of meeting new friends and deepening ties with older one. Both? Sure. I’ve written often how MoPOP Pop Conference works as both professional development and mass therapy: a refreshening of the spirit against twelve months of frontal assault from trends in late phase capitalism. Continue reading

The ‘sex recession’ and how to deal with it

W. Bradford Wilcox and Lyman Stone of the Institute for Family Studies posit in this Atlantic article that adults 18 to 34 are less happy than their predecessors. They link the erosion of happiness to a waning sex drive. This generation couples less frequently, abjures church going, and values friendship above all else. The result? A “sex recession.

Nowhere has this sex recession proved more consequential than among young adults, especially young men. Some academics and journalists have now begun grumbling about what they are calling a “moral panic” about the decline in young-adult sex. Before the 2018 data came out, the Daily suggested that the decline in sex was modest, and the sociologist Daniel Carlson claimed that the amount of sex one has “is a weak predictor of how satisfied you are with your sex life.” More important than frequency, the argument went, is the quality of your sexual relationship.

In other words, Wilcox and Stone conclude that frequency of sex is a key indicator of happiness. This inspired David French, considered a reasonable conservative, to write a response to “The Happiness Recession,” to which I won’t link. The article delighted him. At last – proof that falling birth rates and secularism are anathema to a healthy society.

But French and social media commentators mistake cause for effect. To imagine that happier people are likelier to find solid spouses requires no cogitative strain. Sad people may not go to church if they believe God has it in for them. More importantly, how do these articles define the happy/sad binary? Chronically sad people may suffer from depression, and while God and church and spouses have palliating effects it’s a chronic disease.

Finally, the emphasis on relationships and sex reflects our continued obsession with the home, the product of our labor and the stage where we play the roles for which our parents and teachers trained us. Evidence suggests that for many adults the Great Recession affected, in ways that we’re beginning to understand, the age at which they leave home, marry, and have children – if they choose to have children. Besides my reading habits, bachelorhood constitutes my essential queerness. I prefer to sleep alone in my bed. Developing friendships – for their own sweet sake – and tending to existing ones gives me a resounding pleasure. A couple times a quarter I’ll arrange a tryst. A Stephen Dedalus type until my junior year of high school, I cheerfully bade farewell to God while understanding the communal ties that bind even doubters to church; the shrewder among them recognize that church going exists to remind them of the sublimity against which friendship often brushes.

Aloneness defies the expectations of a culture that despite expanding the membership of who belongs still disdains the cultivation of interiority.