All posts tagged: recent years

The Everlasting KitchenAid Stand Mixer

The Everlasting KitchenAid Stand Mixer

My KitchenAid stand mixer is older than I am. My dad bought the white-enameled machine 35 years ago, during a brief first marriage. The bits of batter crusted into its cracks could be from the pasta I made yesterday or from the bread he made then. I learned to make my grandfather’s crunchy molasses gingersnaps in that stand mixer. In it, I creamed butter and sugar for the first time. Millions of stand mixers with stories like mine are scattered across the globe, sitting on counters in family homes since who knows when. The Smithsonian National Museum of American History displays Julia Child’s cobalt-enameled mixer in its re-creation of her kitchen; when Julia traveled for a cooking demonstration, she demanded that a KitchenAid be provided. If you buy the popular Artisan model today, your new appliance will look quite similar to the 1937 model designed by Egmont Arens: solid zinc base, enamel coating, arched overhang, a little cap for attachments on the face, room for a bowl to slot into its cradled arm. Inserting a …

Private Equity Has Its Eyes on Child Care

Private Equity Has Its Eyes on Child Care

Last June, years of organizing in Vermont paid off when the state’s House and Senate passed landmark legislation—overriding a governor’s earlier veto—that invests $125 million a year into its child-care system. The bill expanded eligibility for state assistance to 575 percent of the federal poverty level, meaning that more than 7,000 new families are expected to receive money for child-care expenses. Funding will also become available to help day-care centers recruit and retain teachers and expand capacity; centers will also receive additional money for providing nonstandard hours of care. But now advocates are worried that the wrong people stand to benefit from the program’s generosity. Any time there is a windfall of public money, with few strings attached, unintended consequences are nearly certain to follow. Thanks to the new law, more Vermont families will have more to spend on child care, and centers will receive additional money without explicit rules around how to spend it. Both of those facts will make child care an attractive target for private-equity groups looking for an industry with lots …

The Return of the Big Lie: Anti-Semitism Is Winning

The Return of the Big Lie: Anti-Semitism Is Winning

By now, December’s congressional hearing about anti-Semitism at universities, during which the presidents of Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and MIT all claimed that calls for the genocide of Jews would violate their university’s policies only “depending on the context,” is already a well-worn meme. Surely there is nothing left to say about this higher-education train wreck, after the fallout brought down two of those university presidents and spawned a thousand op-eds—except that all of the punditry about diversity and free speech and criticism of Israel has extravagantly missed the point. The problem was not that Jewish students on American university campuses didn’t want free speech, or that they didn’t want to hear criticism of Israel. Instead, they didn’t want people vandalizing Jewish student organizations’ buildings, or breaking or urinating on the buildings’ windows. They didn’t want people tearing their mezuzahs down from their dorm-room doors. They didn’t want their college instructors spouting anti-Semitic lies and humiliating them in class. They didn’t want their posters defaced with Hitler caricatures, or their dorm windows plastered with …

Can the Remote-Work Era Fix How Scientists Study Kids?

Can the Remote-Work Era Fix How Scientists Study Kids?

There is an open secret in the study of child development: Most of what we think we know about how babies develop is actually based on a specific subset of kids—those born to families from Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic (a.k.a. WEIRD) nations. The acronym was first coined in an influential 2010 paper to describe the wildly unrepresentative populations that many psychology studies have long relied on. This is an issue in the field generally, and certainly a thorny problem in developmental psychology, which primarily studies children: According to one paper, WEIRD subjects make up 96 percent of the data used in published developmental-science studies but represent only 12 percent of the world’s population. As a result, it’s hard to be certain whether many things we think we know about babies’ development are truly universal elements of human nature. It means that we tell an incomplete story about the process of our own becoming. Yet the problem has remained hard to fix. Even within the U.S., similar demographic biases have arisen: The families that …

Universities Don’t Sacrifice Excellence for Diversity

Universities Don’t Sacrifice Excellence for Diversity

A noxious and surprisingly commonplace myth has taken hold in recent years, alleging that elite universities have pursued diversity at the expense of scholarly excellence. Much the reverse is true: Efforts to grow and embrace diversity at America’s great research universities have made them better than ever. If you want excellence, you need to find, attract, and support talent from every sector of society, not just from privileged groups and social classes. As the president of Princeton University, I see the benefits of that strategy on a daily basis—and never more vividly than when Princeton recognizes its most accomplished alumni. Later this month, for example, the university will honor Fei-Fei Li, a Chinese American immigrant who spent college weekends helping with her family’s dry-cleaning business, and now co-directs Stanford’s Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence. Li exemplifies the connection between excellence and diversity, as do other recent Princeton-alumni award recipients, including American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony Romero, who grew up in a low-income housing project in the Bronx; Ariel Investments’ co–chief executive officer, Mellody …

Temu Will Bludgeon You Into Knowing Its Name

Temu Will Bludgeon You Into Knowing Its Name

Last night, the shopping app Temu, which is not quite a year and a half old, ran its second Super Bowl ad in as many years. It was hard to miss, because the same ad appeared several times, including following the game-winning touchdown. By most estimates, the three times the ad was featured in the middle of gameplay would have cost an eye-watering $21 million alone. Alongside ads in which Beyoncé announced a new album and Sir Patrick Stewart proposed skinning Peppa Pig to make a football, the content of Temu’s ad was comparatively unremarkable. It had no A-list celebrities or beloved cultural touchstones; not a single heartstring was tugged. Instead, a cast of silent, off-brand Pixar characters saw their wishes for 99-cent toupees and $6.99 jeans granted by an orange-gowned sorceress, who had herself been granted those powers by ordering the magical dress she was wearing from Temu for $9.99. All of this played out under a jingle that encouraged viewers to shop like a billionaire—which is to say to shop constantly, for fun …

A Night at the Theater With Hezbollah

A Night at the Theater With Hezbollah

When I first saw the announcement, I thought it was a joke. Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant movement, was staging an “immersive theatrical performance” in Beirut, with three interlinked plays running simultaneously. The invitation noted that there would be live gunfire; people with heart conditions and children under 7 were discouraged from attending. Viewers would be given the chance to walk from set to set through a Gaza-style tunnel. Hezbollah isn’t exactly known for its avant-garde drama. But these are not ordinary times. The group has been exchanging bombastic threats and near-daily attacks with Israel across the Lebanese border, and about 150 of its fighters have been killed, including a number of high-ranking commanders. A full-scale war would be catastrophic for Lebanon, which bears the scars of many previous conflicts. Hezbollah is the country’s dominant military force—the Lebanese government is helpless to constrain it—and the group’s leaders are keenly aware that they would shoulder the blame if they provoked Israel into a countrywide bombardment. For all of these reasons, everyone in Lebanon (and beyond) would like …

Bedbugs Are Getting Scarier – The Atlantic

Bedbugs Are Getting Scarier – The Atlantic

This article was originally published by Knowable Magazine. The stories have become horribly familiar: houses so overrun by bedbugs that the bloodsucking insects pile an inch deep on the floor. An airport shutting down gates for deep cleaning after the parasites were spotted. Fear and loathing during Fashion Week 2023 in Paris, with bedbug-detection dogs working overtime when the insects turned up in movie theaters and trains. For reasons that almost certainly have to do with global travel and poor pest management, bedbugs have resurfaced with a vengeance in 50 countries since the late 1990s. But recently, the resurgence has brought an added twist: When exterminators swarm out to hunt these pests, they might encounter not just one but two different kinds of bugs. Besides the common bedbug, Cimex lectularius, which has always made its home in the Northern Hemisphere, there are now sightings of its relative, the tropical bedbug, Cimex hemipterus, in temperate regions. Historically, this species didn’t venture that far from the equator, write the entomologists Stephen Doggett and Chow-Yang Lee in the …

Michael R. Jackson’s Subversive Vision of the American Musical

Michael R. Jackson’s Subversive Vision of the American Musical

In the summer of 2020, the playwright Michael R. Jackson received an unusual message from a fan of A Strange Loop, his musical about a gay Black man’s path to creative self-awareness through the process of writing a musical about a gay Black man’s path to creative self-awareness. “Can I buy you a bulletproof vest?” the fan inquired over Instagram. Jackson, who had just won a Pulitzer Prize for A Strange Loop and lived on a perfectly safe street in Upper Manhattan, had no more conceivable use for body armor or handouts than the next man. He told me about the proposal several months ago, over steak frites at Soho House, stressing its absurdity and presumptuousness. “Ur life matters so much. Ur writing matters so much. This is the most available and direct way I can think of protecting ur life and ur future plays,” the fan had explained. Explore the March 2024 Issue Check out more from this issue and find your next story to read. View More In person, Jackson at first seems …

Football’s Yellow Line Is an All-Time Great Invention

Football’s Yellow Line Is an All-Time Great Invention

Football is a complicated sport. Offensive players can move around before the quarterback calls hike, but only certain ones at certain times in certain directions. A defender can rough up a receiver within five yards of the line of scrimmage, but only if he remains in front of the receiver and the contact is continuous; after that, the defender can still make some contact, but only as long as it does not “significantly hinder” the receiver from catching the ball—whatever you interpret that to mean. And that’s without getting into what constitutes a “catch,” a seemingly basic question that the NFL rule book turns into a matter of great metaphysical complexity. At least one thing in football is not complicated—that is, if you’re watching on TV: the yellow first-down marker. The virtual line, convincingly projected onto the field during every major football telecast through augmented reality, makes the sport immediately more digestible. Football, the cliché goes, is a game of inches, and even the most die-hard fans benefit from the clarity and drama that the …