Culture

A Never-Ending Culture of Offense

By on 5.19.14 | 3:09PM

We live in a culture of offense. In both public and private, people are always on the watch for some statement or group—somewhere—whose ideas might possibly run counter to their own.

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Young People Have Better Views On Racism

By on 5.17.14 | 1:58PM

Jamelle Bouie, a writer at Slate, wrote a piece yesterday which shows that young people have more sensible views on race and racism than their forebearers. Bouie's work also gave me hope that millenials--those born from the about the mid-1980s to the early 2000s--will be the generation that finally casts aside pernicious identity politics and focuses on solving social problems in this country. The end of racial hucksterism and grievance peddling would be glorious indeed. But Bouie writes for Slate, an outfit which regularly peddles racial grievances. So to him, such dramatic improvements are actually a bad thing.

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Game of Thrones: Arbitrary Justice

By on 5.16.14 | 5:41PM

In the feudal system prevalent in Game of Thrones, there are the commoners and noble houses. Ruling lords are surrounded by counselors and can create decrees. The entire realm is subordinate to the Iron Throne. The throne is the symbol of the rule of man—a seat that is above the law by the divine right of kings. We saw Joffrey exercise this right by ordering Ned Stark killed without reason.

In a system where “rule of man” trumps “rule of law,” justice is arbitrary.

We see this today in the United States with the overextended executive branch siphoning power away from the legislative branch. Executive orders bypass the established political process in the name of advancing one man’s idea of the common good. How is that different from the decision that Joffrey made to behead Ned Stark?

In democracies and republics today, rule of law constrains the behavior of lawmakers and citizens alike. Everyone is held equal under the law. The resulting justice is objective and impartial. “Where there is no law, there is no freedom,” said John Locke.

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The Beer Spectator: Starbucks Rises on a Wave of Craft Beer

By on 5.16.14 | 3:24PM

Starbucks is expanding its “Evening Stores” across the United States, aiming to open fourteen more by the end of 2014. This would bring the total number up to forty.

The Fortune 500 company is floating to the top on a wave of craft beer.  

The evening concept seeks to reshape Starbucks’ reputation as only a place to buy a morning coffee. To distinguish itself from fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts, the coffee giant will be offering beer, wine, and new menu items from mid-afternoon into the night at select locations.

Rumors swirl that Starbucks will offer local craft brews, as opposed to mass-produced beers from companies like MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch InBev. 

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Of Pedals and Petulance

By on 5.16.14 | 3:01PM

I need to make a confession and I realize it won’t make me too popular around here. No, it has nothing to do with my politics, but here goes.

I ride my bike everywhere.

It’s my primary mode of transportation. I ride to work, I ride home, I ride for pleasure, I ride as preference. Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail keeps me out of the saddle.

To put things in perspective, I rode to work today, despite the fact that the Washington Area Bicyclists Association postponed their annual “Bike to Work Day” due to lousy weather.

Don’t get me wrong. I own a car. It just lives in my parents’ garage, outside of Philadelphia. I’ve held a license since I turned sixteen. I just don’t miss the parking tickets, or the traffic, or “running on empty” to the gas station for a $50 fill-up. I traded all that for the fresh air and exercise that comes in the bike lane.

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Saving Face in Space

By on 5.16.14 | 12:37PM

Like a child holding a prized toy above his younger brother’s head, Russia is taunting the United States via space policy. In this case, the toy is the International Space Station and it’s being held 250 kilometers above Uncle Sam’s head.

On Tuesday, London's Telegraph reported: “Russia is to deny the US future use of the International Space Station beyond 2020 and will also bar its rocket engines from launching US military satellites as it hits back at American sanctions imposed over Ukraine crisis.” This is the latest in a list of new sanctions announced by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.

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Campus Scenes

Know-Nothing Know-It-Alls

By 5.16.14

Commencement ceremonies now serve as an exclamation point to the horrible education received by students. Too ignorant to know that they don’t know, graduating activists regard successful attempts to block speakers as triumphs instead of reflections on their failures to learn.

Former University of California-Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, a champion of illegal aliens receiving in-state tuition, racial preferences, and gay marriage, is the latest unlikely target of the campus Jacobins. A group of Haverford College students notified him through letter that “we are extremely uncomfortable honoring you” and that his presence at graduation “deeply disturbed” them. His offense? During his chancellorship, police arrested a group of protesters, fulfilling, of course, their ambition.

The know-nothing know-it-alls, which included just sixteen of the several hundred graduating seniors, issued nine abasing demands to the elderly physicist. “If you choose not to confront the issues before you,” they warned, “we will have no other option than to call for the college to withdraw its invitation.”

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Boob Tube

‘Penny Dreadful’ Is Pretty Dreadful

By 5.16.14

For the past month or so, ads for Showtime’s new television show Penny Dreadful have been a constant companion on my commute: posters and posters of beautiful people in Old Time clothes, who stare at me seriously as I waited for the train.

Recently, the ads for Penny Dreadful have gained some neighbors: ads for A Million Ways to Die in the West, Seth MacFarlane’s upcoming Western comedy movie. These ads are almost identical to Penny Dreadful’s: yet another series of posters of beautiful people in Old Time clothes. These two sets of advertisements blended together to the point where I can no longer recall, without checking, whether or not they are both still hanging up. They are advertising the same thing.

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NPR Wants You To Associate Ice Cream With Racial Guilt

By on 5.15.14 | 9:41PM

Please note that this piece repeats a racial slur in citing an article which ran elsewhere. The slur in that article was not used in a historical, not a pejorative context.

The tune played by ice cream trucks is racist, so you should feel guilty for enjoying a summer treat. Or at least reverently contend with the "intellectual complexity" of racism while you chow down on your Fudgsicle. That is the takeaway from a ridiculous piece on NPR's website by Theodore R. Johnson, III entitled "Recall That Ice Cream Truck Song? We Have Unpleasant News For You." The premise behind Johnson's story is that the jingle played by countless ice cream trucks across the country is from the tune of an old minstrel show song, the lyrics of which drop the n word and perpetuate crude stereotypes. From the NPR piece:

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If a New York Times Executive Editor Falls in the Forest, Does It Make a Sound?

By on 5.15.14 | 12:54PM

The news is unbelievable, outlandish, and absurd! Jill Abramson has been ousted from the New York Times. This, of course, is huge news. You know that it's huge news because news outlets tell you so. NPR, Forbes, The Washington Post, and Politico (no less than four times!) have all spilled copious amounts of ink covering Abramson's departure. It has long been rumored that Abramson was a difficult boss to work for. Perhaps the Ban Bossy campaign has backfired. 

The most breathless coverage came from Politico's John Harris and Hadas Gold, who proclaimed that this departure is the departure to beat all departures. The Capo di tutti capi of departures:

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