Why laying off copy editors makes us all dumber and less free


Copy editors help keep readers safe from garbled, meaningless, passive-voice abominations like this form of cop-speak. Such language isn’t written clearly and thus cannot be read clearly. Read too much of it and you’ll cease to be able to think clearly. It’s a way of writing, speaking, and thinking that separates nouns from verbs, and therefore separates causes from effects, and therefore separates power from responsibility. [Read more...]

Proximity, affinity, and mutuality


“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” the epistle says. But anywhere and everywhere are beyond my finite ability to comprehend, to act or to pay attention. Fortunately, the letter continues, and the following sentences point toward something that can help us to move beyond the prejudices of our affinities or the paralysis of our finitude. [Read more...]

Each night I wait to get caught

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Speaker of the House John Boehner is stepping down and resigning from Congress next month to take what surely has to be a better job. Any job would be a better job than trying to lead a governing party that hates the idea of governing. Plus: Theology in Chicago, style guides for the apocalypse, and NASA’s live-stream above the clouds. [Read more...]

Just watching myself in some play


A great magician reveals a trick; the end of the season and the End of the World; standing athwart algebra, yelling Stop; coherent theodicies; “How to Get a Drink at a Crowded Bar;” and the twilight of the answering-machine song. [Read more...]

Smart people saying smart things (8.30)

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Glenn Greenwald on “journalists” against journalism. Jeet Heer and Sarah Posner on Donald Trump. Eric Foner on pseudo-politics and psycho-politics. And a Martin Luther King Jr. speech that revisionist fantasists like to pretend doesn’t exist because they’re too busy attributing out-of-context W.E.B. DuBois quotes to Margaret Sanger so they can play-act like they’re Bonhoeffer fighting Hitler. [Read more...]

Je suis Bat Boy


The anthrax attacks of 2001 killed five people, starting with the photo editor of a satirical supermarket tabloid. That happened. A terror attack here in the U.S. — in Boca Raton — targeted and killed a visual artist working for a satirical newspaper. And then, three weeks later, the Patriot Act was signed into law. [Read more...]

The Magic School Bus and the Satanic Panic that ate Christianity


The hallmark of white evangelical discipleship is feigned outrage. Evangelicalism in America takes its cue from the Catholic rite of baptism: “Do you renounce Satan and all his works?” We do. We just have no idea what all Satan’s works might look like. So we make stuff up and then renounce that. [Read more...]

‘Around the Web’


Look at a newspaper from 100 years ago and you’ll realize that lurid freak-shows and quack remedies have always helped to fund the business of journalism. Whatever value real reporting and real journalism has had to offer, it’s always been propped up, in part, by snake-oil and side-boobery. [Read more...]