All posts tagged: recent decades

A stubborn workplace holiday tradition

A stubborn workplace holiday tradition

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. So much can go wrong at an office holiday party. And yet … see you in the break room at 5:30. First, here are three new stories from The Atlantic: A Baked-In Norm Many Americans have reconsidered the role of work in their lives in recent years. Is your office your family? No. Are your co-workers your friends? Not necessarily. Are you all still expected at the holiday party in the break room at 5:30? Yes. For some, sipping complimentary eggnog and listening to Mariah Carey with co-workers is a delight. For others, the office holiday party is a form of personal purgatory. These gatherings can be polarizing, but even through the profound cultural shifts of the past few years, the tradition of the white-collar holiday party endures. The office holiday party is a vestige of a time when …

Alabama and Georgia Defy Federal Courts on Redistricting

Alabama and Georgia Defy Federal Courts on Redistricting

When, earlier this year, Alabama simply refused to draw congressional maps that complied with a federal court order, the decision looked like an outlier—a disturbing one, but an outlier nonetheless. Now it’s starting to look more like an early warning. On Friday, the Georgia state legislature released maps that appear to defy a federal judge’s ruling. Meanwhile, legislators in Louisiana have had their deadline extended to fix congressional districts that also didn’t pass judicial review. All three of these states have Republican-led legislatures (and once Louisiana’s new governor is sworn in, next month, it will have GOP executives, too), and all three cases involve maps for U.S. Congress that judges have struck down as unfairly diluting Black voters’ influence under the Voting Rights Act. Because Black voters are heavily Democratic, maps that give them more sway could help decide control of the U.S. House in 2025, so it’s easy to see why Republicans would be unhappy about rules requiring them to alter maps in that way. But their actions have extended beyond expressions of dismay …

Inflation Is Your Fault – The Atlantic

Inflation Is Your Fault – The Atlantic

You would think, with prices as high as they are, that Americans would have tempered their enthusiasm for shopping of late; that they would have pulled back spending on luxury items; that they would have sought out budget and basic options, bought smaller packages, fewer things. This is not what has happened. Consumer spending rose 0.2 percent, after accounting for higher prices, in October, the most recent month for which the government has data. Online shopping jumped 7.8 percent over the Thanksgiving long weekend, more than analysts had anticipated. The sales of new cars, dishwashers, cruise vacations, jewelry—all things people tend to give up when they are watching their budget—remain strong. Consultants keep anticipating a recession precipitated by the “death of the consumer.” Thus far, the consumer is staying alive. People hate inflation, just not enough to spend less: This is one of the central tensions of today’s economy, in which things are going great yet everyone is miserable. And in some ways, Americans have nobody to blame but themselves. Three years ago, the pandemic …

Why Modern Dating Feels So Awkward

Why Modern Dating Feels So Awkward

You probably know the “spark.” It shows up in countless romantic comedies, and occasionally in post-date debriefs with annoyingly lovestruck friends. It’s the instant chemistry, the “butterflies,” the heady rush—the mysterious feeling that someone is just right for you. It’s also not exactly a realistic expectation. Disillusionment in the spark didn’t just recently begin, but lately it’s been gaining momentum. Dating coaches and scholars alike have warned that even if you don’t feel a fizzy excitement when you first meet someone, you might still end up falling for them. Perhaps they’re nervous or tired in the initial encounter; perhaps you just haven’t realized what makes them great. If you are drawn to someone off the bat, it could be because they feel familiar, Kevin Lewis, a UC San Diego sociologist, told me. Maybe they remind you of an ex, variations of whom you seem to keep dating. Maybe, as Logan Ury, a behavioral scientist for Hinge and the author of How to Not Die Alone, argues bluntly, a spark just means the other person is …

Did Humans Ever Live in Peace?

Did Humans Ever Live in Peace?

For millions of years, the river Ebro has sloshed south from Spain’s jagged Cantabrian Mountains, carving out a broad valley that is now home to one of the country’s most fertile wine regions. Between its sprawling vineyards, the landscape rises steeply to hilltop medieval towns. Laguardia is the best known, on account of its high walls, cobblestones, and cavernous wine cellars. But the town’s rustic grandeur conceals a deep history of violence. More than 2,000 years ago, Celtic tribes fought a decades-long series of wars in this region, part of a brutal last stand against the invading Romans—and for Laguardia, even those conflicts were of relatively recent vintage. Some years ago, just outside the town walls, workmen at a construction site were operating a bulldozer when one of them spotted bones sticking up through the disturbed earth. Archaeologists were dispatched to the scene. Careful brushwork revealed not one human skeleton but 90, along with pieces of more than 200 others, all dated to a little more than 5,000 years ago. A new analysis of the …

“You Started a War, You’ll Get a Nakba”

“You Started a War, You’ll Get a Nakba”

Last week, on a dusty road in the West Bank, I received a phone call from the office of the spokesperson of the Israel Defense Forces to schedule a meeting the next day. “Hello,” I said. “It’s difficult to talk right now. I am being menaced by two men with knives.” “Are they Jewish or Arab?” he asked. He sounded concerned. “Jewish.” His level of concern didn’t change. No one ever said being a spokesperson for Israel was an easy job. “Do you want me to talk to them?” About a minute earlier, these two young men had driven their beat-up white car in front of my Mazda and screamed at me in Hebrew, gesturing for me to pull over and get out. They wore IDF-style olive-drab pants, although their tops were civilian. On their waists they had long, fixed-blade Nimrav-style combat knives, and on their heads, the style of kippah and the sidelocks of hair, payot, common among West Bank settlers. I had paid for an upgrade at the Hertz counter and figured I …

The Hard Truth About Immigration

The Hard Truth About Immigration

“This bill that we will sign today is not a revolutionary bill,” President Lyndon B. Johnson said as he put his signature on the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, at the base of the Statue of Liberty. “It does not affect the lives of millions.” All that the bill would do, he explained, was repair the flawed criteria for deciding who could enter the country. “This bill says simply that from this day forth those wishing to immigrate to America shall be admitted on the basis of their skills and their close relationship to those already here.” Edward Kennedy, the 33-year-old senator who had shepherded the bill through the Senate, went even further in promising that its effects would be modest. Some opponents argued that the bill would lead to a large increase in immigration, but those claims were false, Kennedy said. They were “highly emotional, irrational, and with little foundation in fact,” he announced in a Senate hearing, and “out of line with the obligations of responsible citizenship.” Emanuel Celler, the bill’s champion …

Education Is Now America’s Great Divide

Education Is Now America’s Great Divide

Inequality is one of the great constants. But what sets those at the top of society apart from those at the bottom has varied greatly. In some times and places, it was race; in others, “noble” birth. In some, physical strength; in others, manual dexterity. In America today, most of these factors still matter. The country is racially unequal. Some people inherit great wealth; others become celebrities through sporting prowess. But much of America’s transformation in recent decades—including many of the country’s problems—can be ascribed to the ascendancy of a different marker of distinction: education. Whether or not you have graduated from college is especially important. This single social marker now determines much more than it did in the past what sort of economic opportunities you are likely to have and even how likely you are to get married. Educational status doesn’t only influence how Americans live, though. As a new set of papers from the economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton shows, educational status has now overtaken other metrics, including race, in predicting one …

The True Origins of Woke

The True Origins of Woke

In universities and newspapers, nonprofit organizations and even corporations, a new set of ideas about race, gender, and sexual orientation has gained huge influence. Attitudes to these ideas—which are commonly called “woke,” though I prefer a more neutral term, the “identity synthesis”—have split into two camps: those who blame them for all of America’s ills and those who defend them, largely uncritically. Right-wing polemicists deride these ideas as a form of “cultural Marxism,” which has substituted identity categories such as race for the economic category of class but still aims at the same old goal of communist revolution. They invoke wokeness to oppose anything they dislike, such as sex ed and insufficiently patriotic versions of American history. On the other side, many people in media and politics claim that wokeness is simply a matter of justice and decency: a willingness to acknowledge the cruelties of America’s past and a recognition of the ways they still shape the country. “Being woke,” Joe Walsh, a former Republican congressman who became a vocal critic of Donald Trump, has …

Humans Are Innovating Our Way Out of Baby Season

Humans Are Innovating Our Way Out of Baby Season

As the chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at UT Southwestern Medicine, Catherine Spong is used to seeing a lot of baby bumps. But through her decades of practice, she’s been fascinated by a different kind of bump: Year after year after year, she and her colleagues deliver a deluge of babies from June through September, as much as a 10 percent increase in monthly rates over what they see from February through April. “We call it the summer surge,” Spong told me. Her hospital isn’t alone in this trend. For decades, demographers have documented a lift in American births in late summer, and a trough in the spring. I see it myself in my own corner of the world: In the past several weeks, the hospital across the street from me has become a revolving door of new parents and infants. When David Lam, an economist at the University of Michigan who helped pioneer several early U.S. studies on seasonal patterns of fertility, first analyzed his data decades ago, “we were kind …