May 21, 2019

America Is Pretty Nice When You Don't Read the News

“So I’ve been doing a lot of driving lately. First I drove from New York to the San Francisco suburb of Lafayette, California (where I grew up and where my dad still lives), via New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon. Then I drove back by way of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois (for about 10 minutes this time, nine of them spent walking around Fort Defiance State Park, where the Ohio River meets the Mississippi), Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Got back home to Manhattan on Saturday night. And yes, taking the subway to work Monday morning was a nice change of pace!

This meandering voyage was not an attempt to divine the American mood in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections. More than enough journalists and pollsters are doing that already; plus, it’s really not my thing. I was mainly just looking to get out of the office and encounter ideas for columns that wouldn’t occur to me from behind a desk in Manhattan. I’ve already written several — on ubiquitous hipster coffeehouses; traffic roundabouts; dairy farms leaving California; the Permian Basin oil boom; the unlikely growth of Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Ohio’s fitful economic comeback 1 — and there are many more still to come.”

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JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"The biggest topic in British political circles on Monday wasn’t the country’s impending departure from the European Union. It was milkshakes..."

"I often disagree with Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., but I've been disturbed by the idea that he should be run out of the Republican Party just because he believes President Trump committed impeachable offenses."

"The Icelandic band Hatari, whose members are quite vocal in their animosity towards Israel, held up Palestinian flags... Madonna, likewise, had two of her performers wear Israeli and Palestinian flags on their costumes."

"To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" premiering at the Cannes Film Festival, I turn to movie critic Roger Ebert's old review of "Raiders of the Lost Ark." (Trust me on this one.)"

"The money is already here—and has been for years. In the midst of a housing crisis, an injection of cash into the superheated real-estate market seems likely to cause an uptick in evictions and displacement."

"Parents concerned about YouTube debate whether to let their children have their own channels; some forbid it, others send them to summer camp..."

"‘I Had Completely Lost the Knack for Staying Alive..." Warmer weather brings daffodils, rhubarb at the farmer’s market — and, for some, despair."

"With his new book, Howard Stern proves that his rightful place is among the prophets and moral visionaries, not the ‘shock jocks’"

"I’m terrified of parenting in the anti-vaxxer age: Anti-vaccine propaganda isn’t just harmful to children. It threatens to erode our entire sense of community."

"...doctors are starting to think more about specific nutrients that feed tumor cells. That is, how what we eat affects how cancers grow..."

" represents an impressive achievement: a victory of humankind against the chaos that pervades the universe."

"If trends continue, in 20 years the majority of the world’s Jews will be living in Israel. The United States will see a continuing decline in overall numbers, with a growing observant Jewish population..."