Opinion
31

Our Dying Soap Operas Deserve Public Funding

Surely you've heard the recent news that long-running daytime soap operas “All My Children” and “One Life to Live” are being canceled. Sad. Yet not that sad because no one watches American daytime soaps anymore, right?

Wrong.

I'm that person who still watches them. Well, by “them” I mean “One Life to Live." I'm devastated by its demise and you should be too. We're losing a national treasure. This is akin to tearing down the gilded Penn Station to make room for the depressing Madison Square Garden. The daytime soaps are a national heritage that should be protected and cherished.

I first learned of Llanview (the fictional Philadelphia suburb [...]

37

Sympathy for the Bullies: Our New Villains

Pity the poor bullies: it is not easy being the cultural villain of the moment. (Just ask Mexicans, or Muslims!) The Google Trends spike over the last year for "bullying" is impressive, and it's all around us: the car ad that was recut to change a kid fleeing bullies into merely a friendly race between youngsters; the members of the Westboro Baptist Church being described as bullies (rather than, say, insane bigoted cultists, which would apparently be less damning!); and, of course, the Times Styles section on bullying in kindergarten. The government's Secretary of Education threw a "Bullying Prevention Summit"! There's a "Stop Bullying Now!" [...]

31

'My War': Bradlee Dean's Popular Struggle Against Those Criminal, Child-Molesting Gays

On Thursday, October 21, Plymouth, Minnesota will play host to a movie premiere. The film, part one of a five-part documentary series, is billed as a look "at the heart of our nation to bring us back to our foundation to see what it was established upon-the blood and sacrifice of those who were willing to pay the ultimate price (their lives) for our freedom." Promotions for the film define it as "perfect for all ages" and "a night for the entire family!"

The film and accompanying book, titled "My War," is original; but for many, it may feel like a reboot of a well-known classic.

39

How the For-Profit College Can Destroy Your Life

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"The first person to sound the warning of the coming of the Down-and-Out Man in academia was the seventeenth-century political philosopher [Gaspard de] Réal de Curban. He foresaw that, if the aristocratic social structure were shattered and a new one created wherein everyone would be in the race for social status and prestige, then society would be filled with tensions, frustrations, and violence. This, he explained, would happen because in an open society the failed man would have no one to blame for his failure but himself; whereas in a structured society where status and prestige were predetermined by birth, a man could attribute his failure to his birth, [...]

25

The Self-Abasement of Indy Writers: Is This a Thing?

Here is a short essay by Justin Taylor that is about being confused by "a general trend in contemporary indy- and small-press lit-land that insists on modesty to the point of self-abasement, encourages people to get awestruck at the drop of a hat, and rewards the expression of self-doubt rather than self-confidence." This is maybe a thing, but also it seems bizarre to me! For one thing, has he been on the Internet, which spends most of its time hammering down any nail that stands out? I also do not see a woman even conceiving of such a critique. They know what happens if a woman [...]

10

Never Let It Be Said That Baseball Players Don't Have A Way With Words

"I'm not seeing a lack of (effort), I'm seeing a pathetic effort. These Cards fans deserve much better. That's just awful. They won't admit it, that they're quitters. If you can't put a better effort out there on the field, take 'em all out, back up the truck, ship 'em all out and get somebody in here that wants to play baseball. … We've got one team here [San Diego] going for the title and we've got our team going for the toilet. They've got poopy in their pants." -Former St. Louis Cardinal Jack Clark defends the honor of baseball's self-proclaimed "best fans" by going after the current crop [...]

14

Real America: A Fashion Essentials Guide for the Tea Party Patriot

A movement that's rewriting the rules for politics is also rewriting new rules for fashion.

Clothing is an extension of your values, a sartorial statement of who you are as an American. And while you're shouldering the rebirth of a nation's glory, why not shoulder a smart-looking blazer in the process?

While Tea Partiers respect, more than anything, the freedom to wear what they like, there are some new essentials for the man looking to "restore honor" to America… and his wardrobe. Below, a selection of the Fall essentials for the Tea Partier dressing for the profession, the polls or the protest.

20

Our Debt: Why Rich People Should Be Worried Too

Back in the days before the great bull market began to charge in August of 1982, there was a soothsayer called Joe Granville. He was the Mad Money Jim Cramer of his day, a showman and exhibitionist whose performances included walking on water (across a swimming pool in Tucson, dressed in a tuxedo) and a piano-playing chimp. Despite that his demeanor wasn't what you would expect of a great financial brain, he attracted a large following of investors for his $250-a-year financial letter (about $615 in today's money), partly because, as People magazine explained, he had called four major stock-market turns in two years. His reputation grew to [...]

14

The "Bad Dad, Good President" Theory

I have been sort of developing this theory on modern presidencies and how the successful ones have all been held by men with distant or completely absent fathers, while the failures were men who came from stable and prosperous upbringings.

85

Penis Pictures: Do They Really Work?

A reader asks: "Does texting cock shots ever actually work? Like, are there regular dudes who get ladies doing this? Are there ladies who actually welcome it? Because all I would think is that the guy is a total perv (or messing with me, in which case I'd just think he was an asshole). But maybe I'm just a prude?" It's a good question! Also, are there points for style?

16

'Loud Pipes Save Lives' But Who Will Save Loud Pipes? (Update: AMA Responds)

Last week, Governor Schwarzenegger signed a number of bills. The one in the spotlight was SB1449, which decriminalized marijuana possession. But he also signed SB435, a far more controversial bill empowering police to cite motorcycles for noise pollution. The bill will also require a motorcycle to display its stock or aftermarket exhaust system's EPA stamp, certifying compliance with federal laws that have been in place, if unenforced, for a quarter century. Similar legislation has recently been passed or is pending in other states including Oregon and Maine and individual communities from Denver to Green Bay.

The Motorcycle Industry Council and the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) opposed SB435. The [...]

35

The Difficulty of Understanding Hipsters

"I moved to the United States five years ago, feeling very confident about my English vocabulary, only to find that my meager repertoire of cultural references made lively communication with other students difficult. The word that gave me the most trouble was "hipster"-my fellow freshman used it frequently, and my inability to understand it made me feel horribly foreign. I eventually asked a local outcast (the inevitable companion of the foreign student on first days of school everywhere) to explain the concept to me. He said that hipsters never admitted to being hipsters, but that they could easily be identified by their tight uniform and hatred of everything and [...]

14

The Global Casino

A long time ago I was involved in an attempt to finance the buyout of a card club in LA. It was quite a profitable business, doing about $100 million a year in revenues, on which it cleared close to $30 million after cash expenses. They made their money by charging people to sit at a table and play poker, taking a little piece of each hand. That way they could get away with not being a gambling establishment, which would have been illegal in Los Angeles, because they weren't actually a participant in the game; they were just a venue where people happened to sit down and play [...]

63

Future Fatigue: Gary Shteyngart's Attack on the Young

At the end of Gary Shteyngart's near-future satire Super Sad True Love Story, I sank into a curious exhaustion. I had impulsively bought the discounted hardcover while battling a poisoned haze of emotions-an agent is peddling my own near-future novel to publishers; I wanted to demonstrate the commercial viability of near-future-based literature; I wanted assurance that what I've written and rewritten over the past few years had not been made redundant overnight. I was afraid to discover better, streamlined permutations of my own ideas, and I was further afraid that Shteyngart's rich voice would alert me to the holes in my not-as-meticulous alternative universe. I came into the thing [...]

19

I Have A Cold

About ten days ago, I found myself thinking, Hey, here it is February and I haven't yet gotten sick this winter. Of course, even just thinking this was as good as eating a double-scoop ice-cream cone where the ice-cream was replaced by germs. Or having a large, germ-covered housefly fly straight down my throat and directly into my lungs and buzz around in there splotching its hairy, germ-covered body repeatedly against my vulnerable alveoli. Or going outside soon after a shower, while my hair was still wet, having forgotten a hat, and walking fifteen blocks in twenty-degree weather. That last one is what I did, the very next day.

111

The Youngs Confront Their Oversharing: Blogs B4 Boyfriendz

Millennial rules for dating and blogging: "I have probably ruined countless relationships with my penchant for oversharing and the somewhat naïve belief that honesty trumps all else. Writing is my one true love. Everyone else-from sweet, corn-fed boys with curly hair to rough older men with adroit hands-will always come second. I'm probably not as sorry about that as I should be." Jesus Christ, you kids, no one is going to be able to run for Senator in twenty years!

15

Glenn Beck as America's Professor

Recently I decided to check in with Glenn Beck. (I do this semi-regularly with all the various cable news talk shows out of a sense of responsibility, though I never last more than about 10 minutes at a stretch.) I was not optimistic. Based on the clips I'd been exposed to by people who don't like Glenn Beck, I expected a mix between a revival meeting, a Klan rally, and the McCarthy hearings. Instead, I got Glenn in front of a blackboard, lecturing about…Calvin Coolidge.

I found this hilarious. In terms of presidents, it's like giving a lecture about James Bond focused entirely on George Lazenby. Coolidge lucked [...]

49

The Rise of Reddit: 4chan and Digg Get the Credit While Reddit Booms

Of the three main drivers of internet culture-blogs, social networking sites and forums-most people in the media and in the general Internet-using public only understand two. Blogs work in a very obvious way: they're like magazines or newspapers, but light. Information spreads from blog to blog up and down the food chain, but it's pretty traceable. Social networks work in a different but equally obvious way: they're like real-world word of mouth, but easier to track, though still much tougher to control or predict than blogs.

But forums can be inscrutable to outsiders. And they get far less attention than the other two culture-drivers. "Everyone" uses Facebook and Twitter, [...]

33

Firefox Eats Its Own Tail

Shortly after embarking on my blogging stint at The Awl this week, I noted to Alex that my experience with the backend seemed extra-gloppy compared with my last stint on the site, and he agreed — the exact terminology involved the phrases "SUCKED BIG TIME" (all caps in original) and "terrible for me lately." What happened? The common threads between mine and Alex's experience seemed to involve WordPress and our browser of choice: Firefox. Could the once-nimble browser be hindering me? I inquired with a tech-savvy friend of mine to find out.

15

Ciudad Juarez: How We Got Here

As the violence in Mexico rages on, with murder totals recently surpassing 28,000 since the start of 2007, it's easy for anyone watching or keeping up with the news to become desensitized. Daily stories of kidnappings and murder scenes, complete with photos of dismembered bodies piled in the backs of pickup trucks or lying bloody in the street, can make the whole scenario overwhelming and extremely hard to wrap your head around. Statistics, death counts, unsolved murders; all with seemingly no end, no beginning, and no point.