All posts tagged: intervening years

Christine Blasey Ford Testifies Again

Christine Blasey Ford Testifies Again

[ad_1] “I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified,” Christine Blasey Ford said in the fall of 2018, introducing herself to the Senate Judiciary Committee and a television audience of millions. Early in One Way Back, the memoir Ford has written about her testimony, its origin, and its aftermath, she repeats the line. She feels that terror again, she writes. She is afraid of having her words taken out of context, of being a public figure, of being misunderstood. “Stepping back into the spotlight comes with an infinite number of things to worry about,” Ford notes, before returning to the story at hand. The moment is brief, but remarkable all the same: Rare is the writer who will confess to fearing her own book. Memoirs like One Way Back are sometimes treated as justice by another means: books that step in where accountability has proved elusive—­correcting the record, filling in the blanks, and restoring a narrative to its rightful owner. One Way Back, more than five years in the making, …

Take Crossword Puzzles Seriously – The Atlantic

Take Crossword Puzzles Seriously – The Atlantic

[ad_1] This past December, I threw a party to celebrate a major milestone in my life: the 1,000th day of my New York Times crossword-solving streak. My friends, none of them fellow cruciverbalists, poured in wearing their black-and-white best, armed with outsize praise for my presumed intelligence: How smart I must be to complete the Times puzzle every day! Their comments affirmed that the crossword—and particularly the Times one—carries a certain mystique. For 1,000 consecutive days, I had passed this bourgeois aptitude test, proving my linguistic and cultural acumen in my guests’ eyes. Since its invention in 1913, the modern American crossword puzzle has undergone something of a reputational shift, from frivolous distraction to status symbol. In reality, the crossword is many things: a site of play, a cultural forum, a daily pleasure. And, because it traffics in language—the stuff people use to form identity, signal belonging, and ostracize others—it’s also a political entity. The writer and crossword constructor Anna Shechtman knows that casting such a pastime as political might sound ridiculous. As she writes …

Take Crossword Puzzles Seriously – The Atlantic

Take Crossword Puzzles Seriously – The Atlantic

[ad_1] This past December, I threw a party to celebrate a major milestone in my life: the 1,000th day of my New York Times crossword-solving streak. My friends, none of them fellow cruciverbalists, poured in wearing their black-and-white best, armed with outsize praise for my presumed intelligence: How smart I must be to complete the Times puzzle every day! Their comments affirmed that the crossword—and particularly the Times one—carries a certain mystique. For 1,000 consecutive days, I had passed this bourgeois aptitude test, proving my linguistic and cultural acumen in my guests’ eyes. Since its invention in 1913, the modern American crossword puzzle has undergone something of a reputational shift, from frivolous distraction to status symbol. In reality, the crossword is many things: a site of play, a cultural forum, a daily pleasure. And, because it traffics in language—the stuff people use to form identity, signal belonging, and ostracize others—it’s also a political entity. The writer and crossword constructor Anna Shechtman knows that casting such a pastime as political might sound ridiculous. As she writes …

Chatbots Will Change How We Talk to People

Chatbots Will Change How We Talk to People

[ad_1] For most of history, communicating with a computer has not been like communicating with a person. In their earliest years, computers required carefully constructed instructions, delivered through punch cards; then came a command-line interface, followed by menus and options and text boxes. If you wanted results, you needed to learn the computer’s language. This is beginning to change. Large language models—the technology undergirding modern chatbots—allow users to interact with computers through natural conversation, an innovation that introduces some baggage from human-to-human exchanges. Early on in our respective explorations of ChatGPT, the two of us found ourselves typing a word that we’d never said to a computer before: “Please.” The syntax of civility has crept into nearly every aspect of our encounters; we speak to this algebraic assemblage as if it were a person—even when we know that it’s not. Right now, this sort of interaction is a novelty. But as chatbots become a ubiquitous element of modern life and permeate many of our human-computer interactions, they have the potential to subtly reshape how we …

Trump Is Coming for Obamacare Again

Trump Is Coming for Obamacare Again

[ad_1] Donald Trump’s renewed pledge on social media and in campaign rallies to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act has put him on a collision course with a widening circle of Republican constituencies directly benefiting from the law. In 2017, when Trump and congressional Republicans tried and failed to repeal the ACA, also known as Obamacare, they faced the core contradiction that many of the law’s principal beneficiaries were people and institutions that favored the GOP. That list included lower-middle-income workers without college degrees, older adults in the final years before retirement, and rural communities. In the years since then, the number of people in each of those groups relying on the ACA has grown. More than 40 million Americans now receive health coverage through the law, about 50 percent more than the roughly 27 million the ACA covered during the repeal fight in 2017. In the intervening years, nine more states, most of them reliably Republican, have accepted the law’s federal funding to expand access to Medicaid for low-income working adults. Read: The …

Why Michael Mann Needed to Make ‘Ferrari’

Why Michael Mann Needed to Make ‘Ferrari’

[ad_1] Half an hour into our conversation, Michael Mann answered his phone. His postproduction team was on the other end of the line, working on the final color corrections to his new film, Ferrari, and they began speaking in what might as well have been an alien language, for how little I understood. When the director hung up, I asked him to explain the gist of it, and he launched into a rhapsodic description of the visual perfection he’s trying to achieve by shooting on digital—what all movies shot on digital are supposed to look like, but so few do. As Mann explained while clutching a binder filled with technical paperwork, the challenge is to properly adjust a movie’s black levels so that the lighting fills in the faces of its actors just right. When done correctly, their faces take on a new depth, and the creases in their skin are properly accentuated. With lesser films, “everything is kind of grayed out … as opposed to, Man, I am there. And they’re coming off the …

A Warning About a Second Trump Term

A Warning About a Second Trump Term

[ad_1] Like many reporters, I’ve been operating in Casaubon mode for much of the past eight years, searching for the key to Donald Trump’s mythologies. No single explanation of Trump is fully satisfactory, although Atlantic staff writer Adam Serwer came closest when he observed that the cruelty is the point. Another person who helped me unscramble the mystery of Trump was his son-in-law Jared Kushner. Early in the Trump presidency, I had lunch with Kushner in his White House office. We were meant to be discussing Middle East peace (more on that another time), but I was particularly curious to hear Kushner talk about his father-in-law’s behavior. I was not inured then—and am not inured even now—to the many rococo manifestations of Trump’s defective character. One of the first moments of real shock for me came in the summer of 2015, when Trump, then an implausible candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, said of Senator John McCain, “He’s not a war hero … I like people who weren’t captured, okay?” Explore the January/February 2024 Issue …

The Panda Phase of the British Conservatives

The Panda Phase of the British Conservatives

[ad_1] In the end, Suella Braverman was brought down by some tents. Or, rather, the absence of them. On November 4, Britain’s home secretary endorsed the idea of banning homelessness charities from giving out tents to people sleeping on sidewalks. Britain was blighted, she said on X, by aggressive panhandlers and vagrants, “many of them from abroad, living on the streets as a lifestyle choice.” Without harsh measures, “​​British cities will go the way of places in the US like San Francisco and Los Angeles.” She followed up the comments a few days later by suggesting that all of the estimated 300,000 people protesting in London for a cease-fire in Gaza were “hate marchers.” Yesterday, she was fired from her post by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, in a Cabinet reshuffle indicating his Conservative Party’s attempt to calibrate exactly how much culture-warring British voters can tolerate. Her resignation letter accused Sunak of pandering to “polite opinion” and having “no appetite for doing what is necessary.” Braverman was one of the standard-bearers of the Tory right: tough …

‘For All Mankind’ Transforms Our Understanding of History

‘For All Mankind’ Transforms Our Understanding of History

[ad_1] This article contains spoilers through Season 4, Episode 1 of  For All Mankind. For All Mankind treats the future as a matter of physics. The Apple TV+ series started its story with a national trauma: The United States loses to the U.S.S.R. in the race to put a man on the moon. That one change to the timeline bends the trajectory of everything that follows until, like a space capsule that has gone off course, the show’s version of history ends up far from the one we know. Some conflicts dissipate; new ones arise in their place. Some familiar technologies emerge; others never come. The superpowers, caught in a Cold War that never ends, establish separate colonies on the moon. Humans go to Mars. They bring Earth’s problems with them. The show’s universe is familiar and uncanny at once, and this is part of the joy of watching it: For All Mankind, as it merges the world-building powers of science fiction with the provocations of alternate history, turns time’s march into an endless cliff-hanger. What …