What Happened After My 13-Year-Old Son Joined the Alt-Right


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The problems had started when Sam was 13, barely a month into eighth grade. In the taxonomy of our local public school, his close group of friends was tagged edgy and liberal: One of them came out as gay during a class presentation; another identified as trans for a while. Their group-text chain pulsed 24-7 with observations about alternative music and the robotic conformity of other classmates. Standard stuff for sensitive middle-schoolers.

One morning during first period, a male friend of Sam’s mentioned a meme whose suggestive name was an inside joke between the two of them. Sam laughed. A girl at the table overheard their private conversation, misconstrued it as a sexual reference, and reported it as sexual harassment. Sam’s guidance counselor pulled him out of his next class and accused him of “breaking the law.” Before long, he was in the office of a male administrator who informed him that the exchange was “illegal,” hinted that the police were coming, and delivered him into the custody of the school’s resource officer. At the administrator’s instruction, that man ushered Sam into an empty room, handed him a blank sheet of paper, and instructed him to write a “statement of guilt.”

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Washingtonian

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Audible’s assault on leisure time


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“My writing time needs to surround itself with empty stretches,” the poet Maxine Kumin once wrote in an essay about how caring for her horses made her work possible, providing “the mindless suspension of doing simple, repetitive tasks—mucking out, refilling water buckets, raking sawdust—that allows those free-associative leaps out of which a poem may occasionally come.” The “empty stretches” are enforced by busyness but uncompressed by the pursuit of efficiency; farm work has “no beginning and no apparent end,” and within it the poet’s “contentment in isolation” can expand. I don’t have a barn full of horses, but I’m attempting to take more dog-walks in silence. Instead of doing chores, I’ve been listening to audiobooks while lying in bed—which takes far longer than silent reading, especially when my thoughts wander and I have to rewind. Right now, that torpor is what I like most. I think it’s good for me to waste some time.

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Nora Caplan-Bricker — The Baffler

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I give therefore I am


How are consumption and acknowledgement related to each other?

Part of consumption may be explained as need. But we can never really know where need begins and where desire takes over. The two are inextricably intertwined. I prefer to approach consumption from another angle: the desire for distinction, explored in particular by Bourdieu.3 Unlike utilitarian visions of social action, the Mauss movement4 sees the principal motive for human action as being the desire for acknowledgement. More precisely, it sees the desire for acknowledgement in terms of gifts, the desire to be acknowledged as a generous donor; and, beyond that, to be seen in terms of generativity. We wish to be seen as being involved in life-enhancing, creative action.

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Alain Caille — Eurozine

The Strengths And Weaknesses That Will Shape Iran’s Future


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The Islamic regime’s persistent fear of an outside aggressor and its direct military involvement in Syria and Iraq, and proxy actions elsewhere, have contributed to making threat and counter-threat, as well as mutual distrust, the defining patterns in the Islamic Republic’s international relations. The memory of foreign interventions and the hostility of the international community have instilled in the ruling cluster a siege mentality and sense of paranoia. Indeed, the regime’s internal and external defensive measures have aimed primarily to guard against the threat of history repeating itself in another foreign-backed coup or military intervention, similar to the one in 1953. Its regional policy adventures—either directly or indirectly—have been in pursuit of an iron-clad resistance to political dissent at home and impenetrable national security and foreign policy posture.

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Amin Saikal — Task & Purpose

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‘We’re not a dump’ – poor Alabama towns struggle under the stench of toxic landfills


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“The odor was unbearable, as were the flies and stink bugs,” said Brasfield, who sports a greying handlebar moustache and describes himself as a conservative Republican. “The flies were so bad that you couldn’t walk outside without being inundated by them. You’d be covered in all sorts of insects. People started getting headaches, they couldn’t breathe. You wouldn’t even go outside to put meat on the barbecue.”

The landfill, called Big Sky Environmental, sits on the fringes of West Jefferson and is permitted to accept waste from 48 US states. It used a nearby rail spur to import sewage from New York and New Jersey. This epic fecal odyssey was completed by trucks which took on the waste and rumbled through West Jefferson – sometimes spilling dark liquid on sharp turns – to the landfill.

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Oliver Milman — The Guardian

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How to Help Someone Who’s Having a Panic Attack


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  • Do not, under any circumstances, tell someone who is experiencing a panic attack to “calm down” or “relax.” If they could calm down or relax that easily, they would. Similarly, even though statements like “you’re okay!” or “there’s nothing wrong!” might seem innocuous and well-intentioned, they are unlikely to make the person feel any better. These are invalidating statements that will likely lead them to not trust you, or even to resent you as a result.

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Ryan Engelstad — Better Humans

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The first images of a black hole are a moving reminder of our collective vulnerability


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Generating an image of a black hole is a paradox.  A black hole is invisible by nature – it emits no matter that we can measure. So what we see in the image is actually its event horizon. The bright ring is not a physical ring – it’s light coming from matter orbiting the black hole, which is so extremely warped that light itself is bending. There are black holes at the centre of every galaxy – some which sing, some which whir along quietly – and now that we’ve created images of one, it’s possible that we can continue to image more black holes, and even other kinds of cosmic matter.

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Sanjana Varghese — New Statesman America

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