Best Of The Web
“In November, the European TV channel Arte aired an hourlong documentary, Demain, tous crétins?—Tomorrow, everyone’s an idiot?—on a topic that would seem to be of great importance. It starts with a London-based researcher, Edward Dutton, who has documented decades-long declines in average IQs across several Western countries, including France and Germany. “We are becoming stupider,” announces Dutton at the program’s start. “This is happening. It’s not going to go away, and we have to try to think about what we’re going to do about it.”
The same documentary has also been released in the U.S., with the less provocative title Brains in Danger?. (It’s now available for streaming on Amazon Prime.) American consumers have long shown interest in the claim that our mental skills are shrinking over time, from the internet or phones or television; from having sex or not having sex; from eating vegetables or getting fat; or from whatever other ills of modern life happen to be on our minds. We’re just as drawn to other signs and symptoms of human degeneration, as expressed in trendlines pointing straight to hell. The latest example of this genre came out just last week in the form a much-shared feature story from GQ, on the gradual diminution of Western men and Western semen, toward a forecast state of “Sperm Count Zero”—that is, a world in which there are “no more naturally conceived babies and potentially … no babies at all.”
Given all this appetite for news of our destruction, you’d think the Great Endumbening described in that European special would’ve become a source of fascination over here (or at least a source of nervous Facebook posts). Instead, it’s been pretty much invisible. Across the Atlantic, one can find some real concern about a downward slide in measures of intelligence, amid confusing and disturbing arguments over what those changes, if they’re real, could really mean. In the United States, no one seems to care. We might be grateful for this fact—that for whatever reason we’ve been spared another gloom-and-doom prediction. But the latest science about these dropping scores suggests the worries aren’t altogether fake, and that they may deserve more attention than they’ve gotten.”
JJ Best Of The Web
"Now I’m starting to wonder how I can go at all. And I’m also wondering why more Muslims don’t question the powers that control our most sacred site—and how the Saudis have already twisted it to their own political and financial ends."
"It's going to be a letdown. Not only is it likely that the final report will not reveal that the president has been a KGB agent since the late '80s, as at least one mainstream liberal columnist fantasized."
"The JFNA GA may say they want to talk, but there are some parts of Israel which have the feeling that this American Jewish organization is not really interested in hearing what they have to say."
“What responsibility do you think young, famous women have today to be activists?” I asked Bateman. “Are you tempted to leverage your fame for political reasons?”
"For nearly 40 years, the GOP has relied on cutting taxes as an easy way to win votes, even when their plans—like the most recent package—benefit only the rich. "
"On its face, voting by phone makes sense. Nearly ninety-five per cent of American adults own mobile phones, and rely on them for all sorts of secure transactions."
"Allegations of sexual harassment brought down Bill Gothard, a leading figure of the Christian right. But his fall also revealed the diminished influence of fundamentalism in the Trump era."
"Literature — the top-shelf, award-winning stuff — is positively ectoplasmic these days, crawling with hauntings, haints and wraiths of every stripe and disposition."
"Kids have a habit of imitating their parents’ criminal behavior. It’s no wonder, then, that by one measure, 10 percent of families account for two-thirds of criminals."
"SFAH doesn’t make an argument for local or slow food per se, but that’s what we see. The dishes are simple, with few ingredients, made traditionally and with pleasure."
We think of archeological finds as being clues to the ancient past. In a new book from Ulrike Sommer, archeology's effects on present-day national narratives are excavated.
"That the highest God speaks for six days and then has to rest from fatigue at the seventh is a patent absurdity: ‘It is not fitting for the first God to be tired or to work with his hands or to give orders,’ he writes."