The Trumpian Side of Pope Francis

As a conservative columnist at the New York Times, Ross Douthat fills the post once held by no less a figure than William Kristol. A devout Catholic, Douthat opposes the progressive direction in which Pope Francis is leading the Church—to prioritize caring for poor people and migrants over opposing abortion and the culture of sexual revolution—even though he acknowledges to David Remnick that this puts him at odds with the Church’s emphasis on mercy. In his new book, “To Change the Church: Pope Francis of the Future of Catholicism,” Douthat provocatively compares Francis to Donald Trump, painting him as a disruptive figure who is determined to bring change fast and damn the consequences.

The New Yorker: Politics and More


How the Miami Tribe Got Its Language Back

how-the-miami-tribeThe last native speaker of Myaamia died in the 1960s. The language had been spoken by the Myaamia people, Native Americans who originally lived in what is now Indiana. Also known as the Miami, they were forcibly relocated twice in the 19th century, and ended up scattered throughout the Midwest and beyond — a situation that put pressure on the language even a century ago.
By the 1980s, linguists and tribe members alike thought the language was gone. But then Daryl Baldwin came along. He’d always known he had Myaamia heritage, but it wasn’t until his late 20s that he got interested in the language.
Baldwin embarked on the challenge together with his wife, Karen. There was no dictionary or “Teach Yourself Myaamia” book, and there weren’t even sound recordings of the language. But somehow, they made a start.

The World in Words

Malcolm Gladwell (left) and Dave Reid coming into the finish at an Ontario school race in 1978. Malcolm Gladwell (left) and Dave Reid coming into the finish at an Ontario school race in 1978.

Malcolm Gladwell Argues for Mediocrity

Malcolm Gladwell in a conversation on running fast, satire as a weapon, Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden, Harvard’s under-theorized endowment, why early childhood intervention is overrated, long-distance running, and Malcolm’s happy risk-averse career going from one “fur-lined rat hole to the next.”

Conversations with Tyler

A Brief History of Failure

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal,” said Winston Churchill. The American satirist Joe Queenan disagrees and rails against the very idea of failure. His sharpest attack is reserved for the supposed romance of defeat. From Braveheart in Scotland via the heretic Cathars in France to the pretend soldiers in Virginia still re-enacting the American Civil War, Queenan explores whether there may be something noble about losing a war.
“I’m in the south, at one of the many re-enactment battles of the American civil war that go on every year. Thousands have turned up to re-fight a war they lost. We don’t do this in the north – it would be odd, and divisive, perhaps even inflammatory. But the memories of a conflict that took place over 150 years down here – they don’t go away.”

Archive on 4

Why Cursing Is so Fascinating

Swearing matters, argues Benjamin K. Bergen – cognitive scientist, linguist, and author of “What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves” – a book-length love letter to swearing. Young people are so chill about swearing, and Bergen studies it as an rebellious form of creative expression. Nevertheless, “we’re getting more casual about swearing when the words themselves have low stakes, but… we’re getting less casual about profanity of the slur type… when the stakes are high, because people perceive those words as causing harm.”
Finally, learn some proper English. “You are the expert, doctor Bergen. What’s your favorite swearword?” – “Here is one that’s inspired by ‘shitgibbon’ discussion. I’s ‘douchewaffle’.”
Also featured: writer Roxana Robinson, who traces the subversive path of a sexist slur, and performer/activist Jess Thom explains what it’s like to live with coprolalia — involuntarily swearing out loud.

Ideas with Paul Kennedy

Open Office

How a vision on a mountaintop led to the birth of the open office. We meet the stylish man that brought that idea to life and, probably, to a workplace near you.
“Walls, doors, privacy—if you work a desk job, you probably do not have these luxuries anymore. When we tell the story of the open office, we often begin with tech startups. Open offices feel nimble, informal, and social—just like startups, right? And then older companies saw the results from Silicon Valley, and they wanted in. To grow like a tech company, why not look like one? So the open office spread. Now, seventy percent of American offices are open plan. That’s how the story goes. But the idea to tear down the walls did not come from Silicon Valley.”

Planet Money

Left Out: Living In A Right-Handed World

About one of every 10 people is left-handed. That can be profitable if you’re a pitcher – and a pain if you’re an average Joe living in a right-handed world. Howard Kushner – a historian of medicine and neuroscience – explains why so few people are lefties; and about the many ways cultures worldwide discriminate against them. His new book is called “On the Other Hand: Left Hand, Right Brain, Mental Disorder, and History”.

KERA’s Think


The roots of the post-truth, alternative facts present can be discovered in America’s “promiscuous devotion to the untrue” and its instinct to believe in make believe, evident across four centuries of magical thinkers and true believers, hucksters and suckers, who have embedded an appetite for believe-whatever-you-want fantasy into the national DNA, argues Kurt Andersen, author of a new book, “Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire, a 500-Year History.” Kwame Anthony Appiah, NYU professor, philosopher, and author of fiction and nonfiction books questions him about the bold claim that America’s love of the fantastic has made this country exceptional in a way that has yet to be understood?

The New York Public Library