Tagged: cultural criticism

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Knock Down the House

The award-winning documentary Knock Down the House by director Rachel Lears, covers four working-class, “regular” women — a registered nurse, a bartender, a coal miner’s daughter — running for Congress during the 2018 mid-term elections, including the sensationally charismatic, eloquent and inspiring Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, who, most of us now know, shocked the world by defeating an entrenched...

A Modest Proposal for Optimal Use of Artificial Intelligence

If you’re still in the camp that believes a near future dominated by artificially intelligent machines is nothing but a dystopian daydream, consider this: Not long ago, an artificially intelligent computer program called AlphaZero, hooked up to industrial-strength, Google-supplied processors, was given the rules of chess. That’s it. By playing countless games against itself, billions(?),...

The Hate U Give

America’s ongoing oppression of people of color, expressed most viciously in police brutality against unarmed black men, is the subject of director George Tillman, Jr.’s film version of Angie Thomas’s book “The Hate U Give.” (The title refers to a Tupac Shakur lyric riffing on the theme of “you reap what you sow.”) The movie...

A Modest Proposal for Medicating Our Children

Kids who can’t (or won’t) sit still and be quiet aren’t normal. They have a disorder. They have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It’s a serious disease that requires serious treatment. And if you don’t believe us, ask any pediatrician with a prescription pad. Since they’re desperately unwell, these ill children require medicine. Two of the best...

Derren Brown’s “Sacrifice”

The British mentalist, magician and showman Derren Brown has long created television specials of enduring power and controversy. Much of his work concerns psychological manipulation and social coercion. In our view, shows like “Russian Roulette” (filmed live on a 15-minute delay) and “The Push” (in which an average member of the public is convinced to...

The Fable of the One-Handed Pianist

Every person with an email inbox and an enthusiastic mother has seen the video by now. No doubt your mom sent it to you, subject line: This Is SOOOO Inspiring!!! Thanks to mothers like ours, it didn’t take long for the clip, a five-minute segment from “America’s Got Talent,” to go viral, amassing more than...

Wasting Your Vote

With elections looming this week, it seems as good a time as ever to revisit the badly misunderstood concept of Vote Wasting. The standard lie, perniciously attractive to uncritical thinkers, is: When you vote for someone who “can’t win,” someone from, say, the Green Party, you’re wasting your vote. Therefore, the flawed reasoning goes, one should...

One Unofficial Version of Events, Inspired by Terence McKenna

Moko the Hunter possessed all the attributes an early proto-human hominid needed for success. He was strong, strong enough to choke a wild boar with his bare hands. He was stealthy, able to blend into foliage and tree canopies like a biped chameleon. And he could wait patiently for hours, standing still as a birch...

“Nothing But Gifts,” by Edwin Dobb

Published in the current issue of Harper’s Magazine, the essay “Nothing But Gifts,” by Edwin Dobb, is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing we’ve lately had the pleasure of reading. Discursive and tangential in form, the essay nonetheless always returns to the author’s central inquiry: What does it mean to choose to love? The adoptive...