“Stephen King’s Doubt”: I review “Revival”

for AmCon: There’s a cheap rhetorical move you see a lot in religious debate, where the God-pusher retorts, “But don’t you ever doubt your doubt?” The hero of Revival, Stephen King’s 2014 novel of loss and obsession, could reply in tones of trembling horror: “All the time. God help me, I doubt my doubt all the time.”King has always loved to wring horror from Americana: the bad hot dog, the classic car, the prom. In Revival he takes on the Methodist Youth Fellowship, where, back in the mid-’6 … [Read more...]

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“‘Hamilton’ and the Romance of Government”: My take

for AmCon: I’ve finally heard “Hamilton,” the Broadway hip-hop musical about the first Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, and I can say: It’s a brilliant, empathetic example of a genre I don’t believe in. more … [Read more...]

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In the Year of the Dragon: Ross Douthat Writes About Guns

so I don't have to. He makes his point in his characteristically careful, suggestive style, so I will add value by being incautious and blunt: Crime hysteria leads to expansions of state surveillance and punishment that target poor and minority communities. Gun control isn't different just because you personally are a progressive. Progressives are advocating for tools that others will wield. That is still true--in some ways more true, because the fear runs deeper--when the crime is real and … [Read more...]

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“Don’t Stop Kids from Playing Rough”: Virginia Postrel

writes: ...Some kids are indeed prone to hurt others. “If you’ve ever watched a group of 4- or 5-year-olds play Duck, Duck, Goose,” says Carlson, “there’s always one child who, when it’s his turn or her turn, will not tag. They’ll slap.” Socially and developmentally behind their peers, the offending children are those who most need the lessons big-body play can teach. Keeping them from playing tag, says Carlson, “is not the way they learn how to tag more gently. Continuing to tag is the way they … [Read more...]

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Papal Fever: Prayer Grotto and Pope Plushies in Phila…. Security Barriers and Metro Madness in DC

So this country is kind of losing what remains of its mind over the Pope, yes? You guys know that the pope makes me feel minty, and this mintiness is not decreased by proximity. I will be sheltering in place for the duration of his visit.That said, I was in Philadelphia recently and they have done one fantastic thing. The city is pope-mad, the train station is just covered in giant scary Francis faces that turn out to be ads for Jesuit colleges, and you can buy stuffed Pope Francises in the … [Read more...]

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“Redesigning a Prison Town”: Next City

magazine: ...Ionia is a prison town. That is its primary industry. That’s why there’s a shiver that runs through town when word spreads about the possible closure of one of those facilities. Most of the thousands of inmates incarcerated in them come from 130-some miles away in southeast Michigan, where Detroit is the hub. The distance makes for a severe reduction in family visits and programming, which ultimately increases recidivism — that is, it increases crime. But building prisons here is wh … [Read more...]

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“The True Story of Kudzu, The Vine That Never Truly Ate the South”: Smithsonian Magazine

ruminates: ...The hype didn’t come out of nowhere. Kudzu has appeared larger than life because it’s most aggressive when planted along road cuts and railroad embankments—habitats that became front and center in the age of the automobile. As trees grew in the cleared lands near roadsides, kudzu rose with them. It appeared not to stop because there were no grazers to eat it back. But, in fact, it rarely penetrates deeply into a forest; it climbs well only in sunny areas on the forest edge and suff … [Read more...]

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