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
"Like many Western analyses of the Middle East, they reduce Iraq’s complex internal conflicts to catchall explainers of ‘sectarianism’ and ‘tribalism’ – presuming that some groups of people are intrinsically primed for antagonism."
" he's a loser in the precise sense that his singular accomplishment in American public life has been to lose a Senate race to the stupendously unpopular Republican Ted Cruz."
"While applauding the social impetus, Israelis are divided in opinions on an American-based initiative and question its grammatical integrity."
A look at the networks that churn out nonstop, formulaic Christmas movies; the actors who star in all of them; and the fans who can't stop watching.
"The Department of Homeland Security wants to use credit scores to determine immigration cases. That sets a dangerous precedent."
"Traffic. Congestion. Pollution. Hours-long commutes. What if you could leave it all behind and trade it in for an environmentally friendly and energy-efficient personal copter—all without a pilot’s license?"
"“But Qutb saw something else. The dancers in front of him were tragic lost souls. They believed they were free, but in reality they were trapped by their own selfish and greedy desires.”"
Cliches can be used as a political tool. "Prefabricated language helps everybody from prime ministers to CEOs disguise what they really want to say."
"Santa is nothing but stress for families who don’t believe in him. Trying to keep other kids from finding out the truth can cause a holiday-season-long headache."
"Umami is hard to describe in words. In the New Yorker, Hannah Goldfield defines it as “that deep, dark, meaty intensity that distinguishes seared beef, soy sauce, ripe tomato, Parmesan cheese, anchovies, and mushrooms..."
"The designer babies have thus been called the “future-we-should-not-want” for each new reproductive technology or intervention. But the babies never came and are nowhere close. I am not surprised."
"Thousands of secular Israelis became newly observant and joined Haredi communities in the 1970s and ’80s. Now, their children and grandchildren are searching for a place of their own."