Best Of The Web
“The idea of radical centrism is not new. The label was claimed by a variety of theorists and politicians in the late 20th century, including Anthony Giddens, an advisor to then-British prime minister Tony Blair who championed a so-called “Third Way.” In 2010, comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert capitalized on public exasperation with polarization by staging a “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.” The well-attended Washington, D.C. event was supposedly aimed at skewering both sides of the political divide. But having covered that rally for a Canadian newspaper, I can attest that, hilarious as the satirical signs on display may have been (“I may not agree with you, but I’m sure you’re not Hitler”), these weren’t true centrists. They were bemused upper-middle class college-educated leftists who loved watching late night news comedy. The demographic I saw at MythCon was poorer, angrier and more ideologically disenfranchised.
Over 20 years of covering conferences of all political flavours, I’ve gotten pretty good at reading a movement based on the people who attend the meet-ups. I’ve seen everything from traditional conservative think-tank gabfests populated by Alex P. Keaton types to Israeli Apartheid Week events organized by white people who wear kufiyahs.
But the attendees at MythCon didn’t look like any of these crowds. In appearance, they seemed more like the apolitical introverts and subculturalists I see at the board-game conferences I attend in my spare time, or the nouveau-hippie seekers and spiritualists I find manning kiosques at new-age medicine and Truther conventions.”
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"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."