Wednesday night, before a national audience, presidential candidate and part-time comedian Jeb Bush—son of George H.W., brother to George W., and father to George P.—told a funny story. “There’s one thing I’ll tell you about my brother,” he said, referring to W’s tenure as president from 2001 to 2009,“He kept us safe.” Good one, Jeb! I’m still laughing.
“Meet the Hottest Restaurant of 2081” by Matt Buchanan
Look, our parents’ generation had it really rough, and given the world that their parents and grandparents left for them, they sacrificed a lot to produce the optimized world we have today, where basically everybody subscribes to exactly as much they need to survive. Not everybody can return to the way that things were, with personal cars and private homes and meat on every plate. But in general, I think we can start celebrating what we have, especially if you have a bit more than most, since, if you think about it, the people who’ve had to hide their value from the world have suffered most of all, you know?
“The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
That families are better off the stronger and more stable they are is self-evidently important. But so is the notion that no family can ever be made impregnable, that families are social structures existing within larger social structures.
Robert Sampson, a sociologist at Harvard who focuses on crime and urban life, notes that in America’s ghettos, “like things tend to go together.” High rates of incarceration, single-parent households, dropping out of school, and poverty are not unrelated vectors. Instead, taken together, they constitute what Sampson calls “compounded deprivation”—entire families, entire neighborhoods, deprived in myriad ways, must navigate, all at once, a tangle of interrelated and reinforcing perils.
Black people face this tangle of perils at its densest.
“The Best Time I Stopped Wearing Tight Clothing” by Leah Finnegan
I’ve long had an irrational hatred of tight clothing. A bandage dress? I’d rather actually be in the hospital. Lululemon Apparel? As John Galt once said on a Lululemon bag, “don’t tread on me.” By far the worst phenomenon of the last decade has been “skinny jeans,” designed by a male sadist, miniature pairs tested on dead lab rats.
Women are expected to wear tight clothing to be “sexy,” which is bullshit, and similarly many women say that tight clothing makes them feel sexy. The word “tight,” in our current parlance, has positive connotations, as in describing someone’s excellent and modern style or the fine intricacies of the female sexual organ. But tight clothing is threatening to the body. It strangles you, it leaves marks on your skin. It is an undertaking: a person is restricted in a tight garment, and even simple tasks are difficult to accomplish.
“How the NFL Convinced Prosecutors To Give Them (And No One Else) The Greg Hardy Photos” by Diana Moskovitz
What happened? As with the Rice case, which changed the face of the NFL after TMZ published video of him attacking his fiancée, this one was largely about the visuals—in this case, a set of photographs said to show that [Greg] Hardy’s attack on his girlfriend was every bit as bad as police reports suggested it was. The difference was that they never came out.
The NFL acquired them, though, and the process by which they did says a great deal about the way the NFL operates in the post-Rice era. In public, the league claims that its main interest is in justice; in private, its actions suggest an intense desire to avoid being humiliated—or surprised.
“Bernie Sanders in the Lake of Fire and Brimstone” by Hamilton Nolan
Upon taking the stage, the very first thing Bernie Sanders did was to tell the crowd, “We are different,” noting that he believes in the right to abortion, and gay marriage. He did this in the most polite possible context. Still, it was a bit of a proud I-put-my-dick-in-the-mashed-potatoes moment. It was clear that Bernie Sanders is constitutionally incapable of schmoozy bullshitting, which is the sort of thing that people with actual ideals will love him for and which the political press corps will call a “big drawback to electability.”
“China VCs Are Going Crazy for Girl Groups” by Alexandra Ho
Modeled after the wildly popular Japanese group AKB48, Wang’s three-year-old Chinese version similarly auditions young women from across the country, trains them intensively in singing, dancing, and show-hosting for four months, then puts them onstage to perform choreographed routines in live concerts. The regimen—long rehearsals, exercise, and dormitory curfews—seems more akin to the military than to the MTV life. “To make their dreams come true, they need sweat and perseverance,” Wang says. “Most Chinese girls, because the economy is developed and the quality of life is high, lack discipline.”
“Lego City” by Brendan O’Connor
In April of last year, Related announced a partnership with New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress to make Hudson Yards the country’s first “quantified community.” The data Related plans to collect is comprehensive: pedestrian flow, street traffic; air quality; energy use; waste disposal; recycling; workers’ and residents’ health and activity levels. “I don’t know what the applications might be,” Related Hudson Yards president Jay Cross told the Times. “But I do know that you can’t do it without the data.” Every apartment at Hudson Yards will come with a smart thermostat: “You can’t get that from any old business in town,” Cross said. According to the Times, the NYU center is supported by corporations interested in the development of “smart cities” like I.B.M., Microsoft, Xerox, and Cisco.
“What the World Got Wrong About Kareem Abdul-Jabar” by Jay Caspian Kang
Abdul-Jabbar has been in the public spotlight for 50 years, and for almost all of that time, he has drawn the ire of most reporters who have dealt with him. For a black athlete to be accepted by the sports media, especially during the early years of Abdul-Jabbar’s career, he had to appear humble and deferential and continually thankful to the white world for giving him a chance to become rich and famous. Abdul-Jabbar, who, like many shy, intelligent people, channeled his innate awkwardness through a hardened mask of superiority, didn’t fit the model. And while many of the black athletes who were similarly demonized during Abdul-Jabbar’s time — Curt Flood, Bill Russell, Muhammad Ali — have turned into celebrated figures, Abdul-Jabbar, despite his tremendous accomplishments, has never been widely embraced by fans.
[Image via Getty]