May 23, 2019

Answering the Matrix's Biggest Question, 20 Years Later

“SOMETIMES EXISTING ON the internet can feel like being trapped in that dark room with Morpheus, the one where he holds out his hands to Neo and offers up either a pill of knowledge or a pill of blissful ignorance. Red pill or blue pill; know your enemy or live in peace; click or don’t click. Of all the ideas and images The Matrix sent spiraling into American culture—computer simulation paranoia, black leather trench coats, falling green code, spoons that don’t really exist—none has become so entrenched, or so contentious, as this one.

Of the two options, the red pill is more often discussed (it is Neo’s choice, after all). Yet as the world grows more polarized and less courteous, that blue pill is starting to look mighty swallowable. After all, life is hard, bad news is everywhere, and maybe, just maybe, ignorance is bliss. So we asked two of our writers, Emily Dreyfuss and Emma Grey Ellis, to debate the merits of picking the blue or the red pill. Follow the white rabbit.”

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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..."