All posts tagged: past decade

I Watched This Island Wash Away in a Decade

I Watched This Island Wash Away in a Decade

[ad_1] This article was originally published by Hakai Magazine. Before the sea started taking house-size bites out of Nyangai, this small tropical island off the coast of Sierra Leone hummed with activity. I first visited in 2013 while documenting the construction of a school on a neighboring island. It was a cloudless day in April. A group of teenagers was busy setting up a sound system for a party. Old men chatted and smoked in the shade of palm trees. Children chased one another through the maze of sandy lanes while a constant traffic of roughly hewn wooden boats plied the surrounding waters. The silhouettes of coconut palms and June plum trees dominated the island’s profile, and beneath them stood clusters of neat mud-and-thatch homes. The beach that ringed the island was so white, it hurt the eyes, the water a limpid green. I couldn’t stay for long, but Nyangai left a deep impression. In December of the following year, I caught another glimpse of the island, this time while flying over it in a …

The IRS Created an Actually Good Piece of Technology

The IRS Created an Actually Good Piece of Technology

[ad_1] During the torture ritual that was doing my taxes this year, I was surprised to find myself giddy after reading these words: “You are now chatting with IRS Representative-1004671045.” I had gotten stuck trying to parse my W-2, which, under “Box 14: Other,” contained a mysterious $389.70 deduction from my overall pay last year. No explanation. No clues. Nothing. I tapped the chat button on my tax software for help, expecting to be sucked into customer-service hell. Instead, a real IRS employee answered my question in less than two minutes. The program is not TurboTax, or any one of its many competitors that will give you the white-glove treatment only after you pony up. It is Direct File, a new pilot program made by the IRS. It walks you through each step in mostly simple language (in English or Spanish, on your phone or laptop), automatically saves your progress, shows you a checklist of what you have left to do, flags potential errors, and calculates your return. These features are already part of TurboTax, …

Two theories for Americans’ dire economic outlook

Two theories for Americans’ dire economic outlook

[ad_1] This is an edition of The Atlantic Daily, a newsletter that guides you through the biggest stories of the day, helps you discover new ideas, and recommends the best in culture. Sign up for it here. Even as many measures show that the economy is thriving, Americans have been feeling down lately—especially about grocery prices. I spoke with my colleague Rogé Karma, a staff writer focused on the economy, about how to understand the gap between consumers’ attitudes and standard economic measures, and how political polarization shapes Americans’ outlook on these issues. First, here are three new stories from The Atlantic: Two Theories Lora Kelley: Why are food prices so central to perceptions of the economy, and why do some inflation measures fail to capture that? Rogé Karma: Food prices are what we see every day—at the grocery store, when we’re ordering takeout or eating at restaurants. In a recent poll that we commissioned at The Atlantic, we asked respondents what factors they consider when deciding how the national economy is doing. The price …

The Fairy-Tale Promises of Montessori Parenting

The Fairy-Tale Promises of Montessori Parenting

[ad_1] “Giving my 4-year-old a random food without explanation to see what he does,” an automated voice says at the start of a TikTok from the parenting influencer known as LauraLove. She hands her son, Carter, a container of ricotta cheese. He announces quickly: He’ll make stuffed shells. Carter seems incredibly prepared, standing on a platform to reach the stove. He seasons the beef, cooks the pasta, mixes the filling, and stuffs the shells. Sure, his motions are clumsy and he goofs off while he works. But the end dish looks pretty good. Even more compelling, though, might be how Carter responds to his mistakes. When he drops a stuffed shell upside down, he makes a joke. When he splashes egg on himself, he doesn’t flinch. “I got a little wet,” he says. “But that’s fine. That happens when you’re cooking.” The whole video—Carter’s demeanor, the equipment he stands on, even the choice of activity—is filled with the hallmarks of Montessori parenting. You might recognize the name Montessori from the group of schools known for …

New York Is an Unsung Haven for the World’s Languages

New York Is an Unsung Haven for the World’s Languages

[ad_1] For the past decade, one of the most linguistically diverse places in the world, square mile after square mile, has been my home: Queens, New York. The soundtrack outside my door is extraordinary: On any given block, passing voices speak varieties of Polish, Ukrainian, Egyptian Arabic, Mexican Spanish, Puerto Rican Spanish, Dominican Spanish, Ecuadorian Spanish, Kichwa, and all the forms of New York City English they give rise to. As a linguist, I can usually distinguish them from one another, but understand only a fraction of what people are saying. In my neighborhood, like in many other working-class immigrant neighborhoods in the city’s outer boroughs, hundreds of language groups from around the world have carved out entire communities. Users of Seke, a language from five villages in Nepal with 700 speakers, live a subway ride away. In certain stores, Albanians, Bosnians, Serbs, and Montenegrins all reunite, deploying the languages of the former Yugoslavia as if the country still existed. An old Macedonian selling tchotchkes from a table on the street is a gentle bully …

The Case That Has Some Liberals Defending Big Tech

The Case That Has Some Liberals Defending Big Tech

[ad_1] As a progressive legal scholar and activist, I never would have expected to end up on the same side as Greg Abbott, the conservative governor of Texas, in a Supreme Court dispute. But a pair of cases being argued next week have scrambled traditional ideological alliances. The arguments concern laws in Texas and Florida, passed in 2021, that if allowed to go into effect would largely prevent the biggest social-media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, X (formerly Twitter), and TikTok, from moderating their content. The tech companies have challenged those laws—which stem from Republican complaints about “shadowbanning” and “censorship”—under the First Amendment, arguing that they have a constitutional right to allow, or not allow, whatever content they want. Because the laws would limit the platforms’ ability to police hate speech, conspiracy theories, and vaccine misinformation, many liberal organizations and Democratic officials have lined up to defend giant corporations that they otherwise tend to vilify. On the flip side, many conservative groups have taken a break from dismantling the administrative state to support the government’s …

The Decline of Hanging Out

The Decline of Hanging Out

[ad_1] This is Work in Progress, a newsletter about work, technology, and how to solve some of America’s biggest problems. Sign up here. In its earliest decades, the United States was celebrated for its citizens’ extroversion. Americans weren’t just setting out to build new churches and new cities. Their associations were, as Alexis de Tocqueville wrote, “of a thousand different types … religious, moral, serious, futile, very general and very limited, immensely large and very minute.” Americans seemed adept at forming social groups: political associations, labor unions, local memberships. It was as if the continent itself had imbued its residents with a vibrant social metabolism—a verve for getting out and hanging out. “Nothing, in my view,” de Tocqueville wrote, “deserves more attention than the intellectual and moral associations in America.” Something’s changed in the past few decades. After the 1970s, American dynamism declined. Americans moved less from place to place. They stopped showing up at their churches and temples. In the 1990s, the sociologist Robert Putnam recognized that America’s social metabolism was slowing down. In …

What was that Super Bowl ad even selling?

What was that Super Bowl ad even selling?

[ad_1] This is an edition of The Atlantic Daily, a newsletter that guides you through the biggest stories of the day, helps you discover new ideas, and recommends the best in culture. Sign up for it here. Celebrities were all over last night’s Super Bowl ads. Did the stars overpower the brands they were supposed to be selling? First, here are three new stories from The Atlantic: Promoting the Promoters Many of last night’s Super Bowl ad breaks seemed to double as promotions for celebrities. An ad that focused on how Christopher Walken talks was immediately followed by an ad about how Arnold Schwarzenegger talks, but the products being hawked (in Walken’s case, BMW, and in Schwarzenegger’s case, State Farm) were almost incidental. And Beyoncé, of course, appeared in an ad for Verizon that was effectively a plug for her upcoming album. The share of big-game commercials featuring celebrities has gone up dramatically over the past decade. Celebrity cameos tend to be a safe bet with viewers, and advertisers seemed especially cautious this year. The …

The long odds of this year’s Super Bowl location

The long odds of this year’s Super Bowl location

[ad_1] This is an edition of The Atlantic Daily, a newsletter that guides you through the biggest stories of the day, helps you discover new ideas, and recommends the best in culture. Sign up for it here. For years, the NFL balked at even a whiff of gambling—and kept Las Vegas at a distance as a result. But as the league has become more open to gambling, it has also embraced the city synonymous with it. First, here are four new stories from The Atlantic: In the Shadow of the Strip People are betting on just about anything these days. But something few would have bet on even a decade ago? That the Super Bowl would be held in Las Vegas. The NFL’s decision to hold the game in the city is an about-face for a league that, for decades, shunned even the faintest association with gambling. The league, and especially its influential longtime commissioner Pete Rozelle, was fixated on the risks of compromising the league’s integrity and reputation. “No one does, or could, dispute …