Gabi Abrao, better known as @sighswoon on Instagram, is “developing a language with the invisible.” Her page is half memes, half photos of her—eating fresh fruit, or trying out a metal detector, or posing in a museum bathroom wearing an incredible maxi dress, or staring sleepily into the middle distance in a satin pollution mask—often accompanied by poetic text about the past, the present, and the universe.She has close to 94,000 followers, about 400 of whom are her “Close Friends,” a privilege won by paying $3.33 a month on Patreon. Those followers get access to exclusive “rants, theories, and personal updates,” including “silly details” of Abrao’s love life, big ideas about “existence and wellness,” and poetry and prose from her personal archives. She’s one of many who have figured out that the Instagram feature—originally intended as something like an image-based inner-circle group … [Read more...] about ‘Close Friends,’ for a Monthly Fee
A leading British newspaper was forced to check its callousness this week when readers objected to the best example yet of how “privilege” discourse has spun out of control.Understanding The Guardian’s error in judgment requires some background information. Thirty years ago, when the feminist academic Peggy McIntosh published White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, she hoped the book would spur readers to self-reflection, enhancing their capacity for empathy and compassion. “What I believe is that everybody has a combination of unearned advantage and unearned disadvantage in life,” she once commented. “We’re all put ahead and behind by the circumstances of our birth. We all have a combination of both. And it changes minute by minute, depending on where we are.”Her ideas spread through academia and beyond. Like many, I’ve found value in them and endorse the project of reflecting on one’s unearned advantages. Alas, … [Read more...] about The Corruption of ‘Privilege’
How long did I walk in the footsteps of the bear? It was a warm day, 20 years ago and 80 miles north of the Arctic Circle, the sky translucent blue behind low mountains. The tundra, just starting to turn autumn crimson and saffron, held all my attention. Eventually, I looked down at the trail. And there: the ovoid front paw prints, claws puncturing a constellation into the mud inches above each toe, trailed by back feet as long as two hand spans. Grizzly. Next to them, indentations from my boots. Both filling slowly with water.The clock of the morning’s rain put the bear at five, maybe 10 minutes ahead, invisible where the trail turned among willow brambles. For half a moment, I wondered at the tracks—this grizzly must weigh 700 pounds, maybe 800. Then another calculation: How many feet between myself and the bear? Thirty? Twenty. A hot wire uncoiled below my ribs, a jolt of fear so pure it tasted like metal.I had been in the Arctic for two days when that bear chose not to … [Read more...] about The Power of Fear in the Thawing Arctic
It’s a sign of the diminished role of manufacturing and of organized labor in American society that a strike by autoworkers at General Motors hasn’t been the dominant news story of the week.Still, it’s a story that should pique President Trump’s interest. Many of the strikers work at factories in states that Trump carried in 2016, some of them narrowly. And their concerns—including dignified pay and benefits for blue-collar workers, and outsourcing of manufacturing overseas—match Trump talking points.But so far, Trump has done something highly unusual on the strike: He’s mostly kept his mouth shut and avoided controversy, a choice that may reflect the tricky political stakes for him.The White House flatly denied a Politico report Tuesday that the White House was working to reach a deal between the two sides that would be favorable to the UAW. On Sunday, the president tweeted a bland admonishment to both sides: Here we go again with General … [Read more...] about Why Isn’t Trump Helping the Autoworkers?
On Sunday morning, Senator Ted Cruz made an appearance on This Week. The interview’s first question, given the shape the weekend’s news cycle had taken, was unsurprising: The host asked the senator about the new book The Education of Brett Kavanaugh, an adaptation of which had been published the day before in The New York Times. The essay—authored, as was the book itself, by the Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly—doubled as news: It suggested, for one thing, that Kavanaugh might have misrepresented his past while testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee last year. It also suggested that the allegations that had been brought against Kavanaugh by Deborah Ramirez, his classmate at Yale, were better corroborated than the American public had been led to believe. And it suggested that another classmate had heard a similar story—involving another woman.The revelations brought the reactions you’d expect: Several Democrats called for … [Read more...] about How Brett Kavanaugh Got the Last Laugh