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“Once, not so long ago, I spent an afternoon emailing a few dozen evolutionary biologists. This was for my job, or one of my jobs—you know how millennials are (they’re broke, just like everyone else). My editor had assigned me to ask these people, who almost certainly had better things to do with their time, what the “newest animal” was. Most respondents hedged. They spoke of speciation as a “gradual process,” and mused on the difficulty of distinguishing between, say, an adaptively tricked-out Anolis lizard and an entirely new kind of reptile.
One, though—an evolutionary biologist, famous for his work with tropical fruit flies—wrote back to inform me that this was a “meaningless question” and that “even posing the question bespeaks an ignorance of how evolution works.” I assured him that I was, in fact, totally ignorant about how evolution works, and tried to rephrase my question. “That’s actually more or less the same question,” he replied, barely a minute later. “Pretty meaningless, and not of any interest to anyone.”
This might come as a surprise to the small army of marketing gurus whose livelihood very much depends on identifying what we could call the “newest animal”—in their case, a distinct generation of American humans, possessed of a vast array of seemingly occult characteristics, which, once discovered and isolated, can then be analyzed, catalogued, and sold to the highest bidder. The marketing gurus have only recently completed their lovingly assembled profile of the millennial generation, and their work is a true wonder to behold: a trail of mangled slang, twitching meme-gifs, and fast food brands masquerading as witty, clinically depressed twenty-somethings. But now a new generation—61 million strong—is marching to maturity, wreathed in Juul vapor and wielding billions of dollars in purchasing power.”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"With many other countries already studying the Asian playbook, the United States and Europe could benefit from doing the same."
"Trump's cursing is one of the most straightforward parts of his appeal... Trump is not the only politician whose profanity has stood him in good stead."
"‘If we get all of this because Netanyahu wants to make Trump happy, that’s fine with us,’ says local council rep in Golan Heights as plans ramp up for ‘new’ neighborhood honoring U.S. president..."
"...there is something worth paying attention to in this latest petition from fans keen to have a creative work made the way that they want it. The comments on the petition are instructive."
"The sunny job numbers and steady growth hide the fact that most people think the economy works only for people in power."
"Like many other Americans, I now wear AirPods all day at my desk to combat the awful tyranny of the open office. Since they don’t cancel noise, they provide me with writing music..."
"The logic of attributing mental states to nonhuman animals is complicated. We cannot use deductive inference, because there are no general rules..."
"As the canon of English literature slowly, gradually opens itself up to books by women and authors of color, Modern Library and Penguin Classics have just launched two new series..."
"Egalitarian couples assume their progressive ideology will carry the day. Sociologists know that it doesn’t.... sharing child care is associated with valuing gender equality..."
"Business Booms for Sephardic Food: Women are leading the way as small businesses bring traditional recipes to the commercial marketplace..."
"With most animal populations, the niches that encase the populations are of constant size. Animal societies growing in a given niche have dynamics neatly fitted by equations with a constant limit or ceiling."
"Now some 200,000 Jews live in Germany, a nation of 82 million people, and many are increasingly fearful.... 85 percent of respondents in Germany characterized anti-Semitism as a “very big” or “fairly big” problem..."