What we talk about when we talk about …

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9/11

How do talk about 9/11, ten years later? What stories do we tell? What ideas grab us?

lawn-mowing

It lays bare a philosophical choice in District government that’s played out over the course of three decades: Whether city contracts should go to the lowest bidder, or whether companies that are small, local, or “disadvantaged” should get a preference, even if their bids are substantially higher.

ACORN

ACORN is not a nebulous puppetmaster causing all of your woes.

The Help

It seems likely that no film since Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” has gotten so many moviegoers talking about the history of race and racism in America as has this summer’s hit “The Help.”

RSS

Let’s set aside the notion that the links that people post on Twitter and Facebook have to come from somewhere, and in many cases those links came via a person who uses an RSS reader. I don’t have any idea how to quantify that, and I don’t know what its importance is.

buildings

Once conservative and inflexible institutions, museums today are urban landmarks, playgrounds for bold architectural games.

mad-cow disease

“The only thing that makes me sad about veal is when it’s overcooked,” I said. I was trying hard to be funny.

Dan chuckled, though I didn’t believe him. “This isn’t veal you’re grilling,” he said. “Tell me it isn’t.”

Advanced Persistent Threat

In short, we are on the front lines of this conflict and have direct hands on experience with it.

Tino Sehgal, a London-born artist now working in Berlin, creates work that is tempting to call performance art. But Sehgal doesn’t perform; he organizes situations. Instead of working with objects, he uses people, their voices, their bodies, their movements, and their interactions with each other to create social experiences set in museums.

Texas Rangers third baseman Michael Young

Young is a proxy. He’s a Rorschach test. While no one thinks he isn’t a good player, he does things well that a certain sort of person values more highly than another sort of person.

Food

The general question of culture seems to lurk behind many contemporary confusions over diet; such anxieties are particularly pressing, moreover, in a country that has long identified its culture by the very lack of one and that has often been justifiably ambivalent about this condition.

Clean energy

Climate change doesn’t play well politically these days, so many politicians have taken to pushing clean energy policies without pointing out one of the strongest reasons to pursue them: the need to decrease carbon emissions.

Markets

Students cluster into majors like English and Psychology voluntarily, choosing them over engineering or computer science. They do that despite a well-orchestrated campaign telling all and sundry that tech is where the jobs are.

The Internet

Not unlike its linguistic predecessor “reality television,” “smart phone” works to undermine the very definition of both its words by creating an oxymoron which, with widespread usage and acceptance, models reality after itself by denuding the nature of the concept “smart” and exponentially increasing the power of the idea “phone.”

Jobs

The unemployment lines run through history like a pair of train tracks. Since the 1940s, the jobless rate for blacks in America has held remarkably, if grimly, steady at twice the rate for whites. The question of why has vexed and divided economists, historians and sociologists for nearly as long.

The postsecular

In the pre-2001 period, it was used most often by theologians affiliated with postmetaphysical or postliberal theology or with Radical Orthodoxy. As such, it was often associated with other “posts,” especially postmodernism.

Hipsters

“Hipster,” as it is commonly used today, is a slur, a vague, derisive catchall for a cool-kid monoculture that fetishizes novelty but makes nothing new, that drifts through life in a nihilistic haze of irony, cannibalizing the culture, high and low, only to regurgitate its mediocrity.

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