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Raunch Culture Essay

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THR Art Issue: James Franco Stages Paparazzi Shots, Pens Raunchy Essay on L

THR Art Issue: James Franco Stages Paparazzi Shots, Pens Raunchy Essay on L.A.

For The Hollywood Reporter's first art issue, the actor-artist previews his 2014 Ohwow Gallery show through a photo collage and an essay where he says "I f-ed a million girls" in North Hollywood.

Ed Note: The actor-artist is also a published author, including his debut novel Actors Anonymous and conceptual memoir A California Childhood. Aside from appearing in this year's Spring Breakers playing grilled-out white rapper Alien, the actor also went behind the camera as writer-director with his debut and William Faulkner adaptation As I Lay Dying. Gia Coppola's Palo Alto, which premiered at this year's Venice Film Festival, is based on a book byFranco and stars the actor. Franco's multifaceted cultural reach in film, acting, art and writing is so prevalent in pop culture, it was even parodied in the apocalyptic comedy This Is the End (where Franco plays an art-loving pretentious version of himself) and was the focus of many barbs during his Comedy Central Roast.Previewing his 2014 Ohwow Gallery show, James Franco shares his commentary on L.A. life in an essay which first appeared in the Nov. 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter .

Los Feliz is cool, hipsters and dingy bars. There is a great French restaurant on Vermont called Figaro. House of Pies is pure shit food. Fred 62 is 24 hours, and they serve thick shakes. A waitress with pink hair asked me to the movies, and one time, at 2 a.m. I met a girl there from El Monte who would do me in the car when she drove into town.

West Hollywood is cool, gay. Halloween they go crazy all along Santa Monica Boulevard. I used to go to Buzz coffee and met a little psycho that said he was an artist; he harassed me, the little troll.

North Hollywood, in the Valley, just down from Universal Studios. What a shit pit wasteland. I took shitty acting classes there and f--ed 1 million girls. I knew a guy that lived in a shack among a bunch of shacks in the back of someone's house off Burbank Boulevard. He ran into a little money from his stepdad for molesting his sister when they were little, so he bought a gun and a huge fish tank.

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Beverly Hills, still a mystery. I went to parties at a few of the places. My doctor is off Rodeo, he's missing two teeth. The Beverly Hills Hotel is a pink puke color; inside is a little coffee shop with the oleaginous guy serving tuna fish sandwiches, and I go and eat them, and read novels, and take big shits in the toilet-closet across the hall.

Hollywood, my place. Chateau Marmont, my place, now. Lived there for a year; I have a regular room, out in the back, the cottage area. Room 89, where I go when I'm in town. It's the only one with a balcony, and it's right next to the pingpong table. Out the window is a huge Gucci billboard. The bedspread is covered in cum.

Downtown. I had a loft there. I don't know the area that well. Saw some plays at the Mark Taper Forum and ate Philippe's French dip sandwiches with sawdust on the floor. And Olvera Street for good-bad tourist-Mexican food. My artist friend Ben had a loft downtown, before he overdosed in it.

Santa Monica. Cheesy Third Street. People hang at Shutters or rollerblade on the beach. I guess.

Everyone is hiding out in Malibu.

Ohwow Gallery (937 N. La Cienega Blvd.) opens its next show, multimedia works by Kim Ye, on Nov. 9.

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1321 words short essay on the culture

1321 words short essay on the culture

Culture is one of the most important and basic concepts of sociology. In sociology culture has a specific meaning. The anthropologists believe that the behaviour which is meant is called culture. In other words the behavior which is transmitted to us by some one is called culture.

The way of living, eating, wearing, singing, dancing and talking are all parts of a culture. In common parlance, the word culture, is understood to mean beautiful, refined or interesting.

In sociology we use the word culture to denote acquired behavior which are shared by and transmitted among the members of the society. In other words, culture is a system of learned behaviour shared by and transmitted among the members of a group.

Definitions of culture

Culture has been defined in various ways by sociologists and anthropologists. Following are the important definitions of culture.

E.B. Tylor defines “Culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, Jaw, customs and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society”.

Edward Sapir says that “Culture is any socially inherited element of the life of man, material and spiritual”.

Malinowski defines "Culture the handwork of man and conventional understanding manifest in art and artifact which persisting through which he achieves his ends".

Redfield remarks that “Culture is an organised body of conventional understanding manifest in art and artifact which persisting through, characterizes a human group”.

Mac Iver is of the view that “Culture is the expression of our nature in our modes of living, and our thinking, intercourses in our literature, in religion, in recreation and enjoyment.

According to E.S. Bogardus “Culture is all the ways of doing and thinking of a group”.

Characteristics of Culture

For a clear understanding of the concept of culture it is necessary for us to know its main characteristics. Culture has several characteristics. Following are the main characteristics of culture.

1.Culture is Learnt

Culture is not inherited biologically, but learnt socially by man. It is not an inborn tendency. There is no culture instinct as such culture is often called learned ways of behaviour.

Unlearned behaviour such as closing the eyes while sleeping, the eye blinking reflex and so on are purely physiological and culture sharing hands or saying namaskar or thanks and shaving and dressing on the other hand are culture.

Similarly wearing clothes, combing the hair, wearing ornaments, cooking the food, drinking from a glass, eating from a plate or leaf, reading a newspaper, driving a car, enacting a role in drama, singing, worship etc. are always of behaviour learnt by man culturally.

2.Cultural is social

Culture does not exist in isolation. Neither it is an individual phenomenon. It is a product of society. It originates and develops through social interaction. It is shared by the members of society. No man can acquire culture without association with other human beings.

Man becomes man only among men. It is the culture which helps man to develop human qualities in a human environment. Deprivation is nothing but deprivation of human qualities.

3.Culture is shared

Culture in the sociological sense, is something shared. It is not something that an individual alone can possess. For example customs, tradition, beliefs, ideas, values, morals, etc. are shared by people of a group or society.

The invention of Arya Bhatta or Albert Einstein, Charaka or Charles Darwin, the literary, works of Kalidas or Keats, Dandi or Dante, the philosophical works of Confucius or Lao Tse, Shankaracharya or Swami Vivekananda, the artistic work of Kavi Verma or Raphael etc. are all shared by a large number of people.

Culture is something adopted, used, believed practised or possessed by more than one person. It depends upon group life for its existence. (Robert Brerstedt)

4.Culture is transmissive

Culture is capable of being transmitted from one generation to the next. Parents pass on culture traits to their children and they in turn to their children and so on. Culture is transmitted not through genes but by means of language. Language is the main vehicle of culture.

Language in its different forms like reading, writing and speaking makes it possible for the present generation to understand the achievements of earlier generations.

But language itself is a part of culture. Once language is acquired it unfolds to the individual in wide field. Transmission of culture may take place by intuition as well as by interaction.

5.Culture is continuous and cumulative

Culture exists, as a continuous process. In its historical growth it tends to become cumulative. Culture is growing whole which includes in itself, the achievements of the past and present and makes provision for the future achievements of mankind.

Culture may thus be conceived of as a kind of stream flowing down through the centuries from one generation to another. Hence some sociologists like Lotion called culture the social heritage of man.

As Robert Bierstadt writes culture or the money of human race. It becomes difficult for us to imagine what society would be like without this accumulation of culture what lives would be without it.

6.Culture is consistent and interconnected

Culture, in its development has revealed tendency to be consistent. At the same time different parts of culture are inter­connected.

For example the value system of a society, a society is closely connected with its other aspects such as morality, religion, customs, traditions, beliefs and so on.

7.Culture is dynamic and adaptive

Though culture is relatively stable it is not altogether static. It is subject to slow but constant change. Change and growth are latent in culture.

We find amazing growth in the present Indian culture when we compare it with the culture of the Vedic time. Hence culture is dynamic.

Culture is responsive to the changing conditions of the physical world. It is adaptive. It also intervenes in the natural environment and helps man in his process of adjustment.

Just as our house shelters us from the storm, so also does our culture help us from natural dangers and assist us to survive. Few of us indeed could survive without culture.

8.Culture is gratifying

Culture provides proper opportunities and prescribes means for the satisfaction of our needs and desires. These needs may be biological or social in nature.

Our need for food, shelter and clothing and our desire for status, name, fame and money etc. are all, for example, fulfilled according to the cultural ways.

Culture determines and guides the varied activities of man. In fact culture is defined as the process through which human beings satisfy their wants.

9.Culture varies from society to society

Every society has a culture of its own. It differs from society to society. Culture of every society in unique to itself. Cultures are not uniform.

Cultural elements such as customs, traditions, morals, ideals, values, ideologies, beliefs in practices, philosophies institutions, etc. are not uniform everywhere.

Ways of eating, speaking, greeting, dressing, entertaining, living etc. of different sects differ significantly. Culture varies from time to time also.

No culture ever remains constant or changeless. If Manu were to come back to see the Indian society today he would be bewildered to witness the vast changes that have taken place in our culture.

10.Culture is super organic and ideational

Culture is sometimes called the super organic. By super organic Herbert Spencer meant that culture is neither organic nor inorganic in nature but above these two. The term implies the social meaning of physical objectives and physiological acts.

The social meaning may be independent of physiological and physical, properties and characteristics. For example, the social meaning of a national flag is not just a piece of coloured cloth.

The flag represents a nation. Similarly, priests and prisoners, professors and profanation, players, engineers and doctors, farmers and soldiers and others are not just biological beings. They are viewed in their society differently.Their social status and role can be understood only through culture.

Todays ultimate feminists

Todays ultimate feminists.

Extracts from this document.

Today's ultimate feminists essay In "Today's ultimate feminists" (The guardian, March 6 2006) Kate Taylor gives her opinion on the issue of old fashioned feminism's reaction to raunch culture. She suggests raunch culture is, contrary to Levy's thought, all about the liberation of women in the way that it promotes "the fundamental feminist project of allowing every woman to be her own specific self"; women are rediscovering the joy of being loved for their bodies". In opposition to Levy's thought, Taylor Comments that there is in the promotion of the message that women exist solely for the sexual gratification of men and boys, that what's really being exploited are "men's sexual responses, to give money to women." As a whole, she portrays women's situation as favorable and as the evolution of feminism. Raunch culture will succeed and will overcome as modern feminism. . read more.

In this article Taylor states many arguments but overall what she is trying to clarify is that raunch culture is a good movement but in some parts of her article she expresses women to be, as modern society call easy women and bye doing this she creates in some aspects atmosphere as women being easy. This attitude produces a tendency in the article to mock, in a certain way, men as a whole, creating competition between the two sexes, "Men you can relax. You are no longer the enemy"; always in the search of a more deep feminism that seeks not only impartiality but empowerment and dominance. The sense of competition is shown from the start of the article in which a previous declaration of war is presented, by which women and men are in constant conflict. . read more.

Taylor, in my opinion, sets out with the aim of persuading readers to share the view that raunch culture is a permissible movement because it gives women freedoms and she suggests raunch culture is only the continuation of old-style feminism. The central message of the text, to explain to women and men (mostly women) that raunch culture is not bad and contrary to that it is good because it gives women freedom to express themselves for who they really are, however I think that the ideals of Taylor are in some aspects wrong because not all women are that way and the ideals of women and their rights are each time being forgotten by men meaning that in a not so distant future men will see women as things and not as humans. . read more.

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The Secret to Women-Driven Sitcoms: Relationships, Not Raunch - The Atlantic

The Secret to Women-Driven Sitcoms: Relationships, Not Raunch

Two new Fox series— Ben and Kate and The Mindy Project—focus on the complicated aspects of being female today.

After the huge critical and commercial success of last year's Bridesmaids . it's no surprise that television networks tried to copy the movie's formula. Perhaps because it was easiest to replicate, the first factor the network seized about was the film's raunchiness. On CBS, the ladies of 2 Broke Girls talked about their lady bits almost as frequently as the show made racial jokes, which is to say, all the time. NBC bought two dirty-girl shows, Are You There, Chelsea?. based on talk show host Chelsea Handler's memoirs, and Whitney. from comedienne Whitney Cummings, who also created 2 Broke Girls. On Chelsea. the titular character was a hard-living bartender who moved to within walking distance of her job rather than moderate her drinking so she could continue to drive safely. On Whitney. Cummings spent early episodes vamping around her apartment in a nurse's outfit and strutting around her lobby in a tiny skirt and heels.

The primary personality component these women had was an air of sexual vulgarity, an only mildly successful strategy. Are You There, Chelsea? was cancelled after its first season, and Whitney barely made it back for a second: NBC exiled it to Friday nights, pairing it with Community. which has similarly dismal prospects of survival. Only 2 Broke Girls was a real hit. None of these shows—not even 2 Broke Girls —really captured what made Bridesmaids a hit. The movie was successful not simply because it celebrated a freer form of female sexuality, but also because it portrayed the loneliness, anxiety, and complicated friendships that come with being a woman today.

This season, two new shows do explore the deeper themes that Bridesmaids raised: The Mindy Project. from The Office graduate Mindy Kaling, and Ben and Kate. created by Dana Fox, a consultant on Fox's sophomore sitcom New Girl. (The three shows will be airing as a block on Tuesday nights.)


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Kate (Dakota Johnson), the main character in Ben and Kate —which appears to be the fall's best, most confident new comedy—is uncertain about sex, or "the sex," as she refers to it a conversation with her best friend BJ (a hilarious Lucy Punch). A single mother who's raised her grade school-aged daughter Maddie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones) without apparent financial support from Maddie's father or emotional or practical help from her parents. Kate gets a boost—with caveats—when her brother Ben (Nat Faxon, who won an Academy Award for his screenplay for The Descendants ) moves home to try to win back his old girlfriend and ends up revitalized by hanging out with his niece. "There's so much I want to say!" Ben tells Maddie, who quickly becomes his confidante. "Why are you so young right now!"

Unlike the heroines of the first year of TV's lady-comedy boom, which was dominated by female characters with sharp tongues, Kate is a fundamentally nice person whose sweetness protects herself and her fragile little family. Kate lives a modest life, with Maddie at the center of her world. She's like Bridesmaids ' Annie Walker (Kristen Wiig), whose friendship with Lillian (Maya Rudolph) was the main thing she had left after the recession claimed her bakery and her relationship with her fiance. When we first meet Kate, she's begun dating a new man and is preparing to sleep with him for the first time, an event that's delayed by Ben crashing their date in a ski mask he donned so he wouldn't be recognized stealing cable. Kate is anxious about the prospect of a new relationship, worried about the fact that she hasn't had sex with anyone since Maddie's birth, and concerned about Ben who, for all of his goofiness, is so vulnerable at the prospect of his ex getting married to that he's willing to enlist his niece to help him crash the wedding.

For all of Ben's wacky scheming and Kate's uncertainty, threats to their family snap them into action. Kate gives Ben the words he needs to make his pitch to his ex-girlfriend to take him back. And Ben reacts when he finds out that Kate's beau isn't what he seems. "Stay away from my sister, before you find out what six years of krav maga looks like," Ben tells the man. "Well, more like a year and a half. Plus four years on and off." Ben and Kate may not have all the tools to forge the kind of successful adulthoods that are so often the subject of network television shows. But like Annie, we're meeting these wonderful siblings at the point at which they're realizing it takes more than luchador masks—or as Ben tells Kate at once point, "I need your car. And a pinata. And six dresses sizes eight through 12."—to build a life. Watching them tackle growing up together is going to be an awful lot of fun.

Mindy Lahiri, the heroine of The Mindy Project. is further along in the journey to adulthood than Ben and Kate: She's a successful obstetrician (a profession that was inspired by Mindy Kaling's late mother). But her professional accomplishments are balanced out by the occasional muck she makes of her personal life. A pop-culture obsessive whose approach to college was "Total freedom. No supervision. I could watch romantic comedies whenever I wanted," Mindy begins the show in meltdown mode. The boyfriend she met-cute with in an elevator (Bill Hader) has dumped her and quickly married a younger Serbian woman who isn't on a career track. "By the way, are we totally sure that she is not a war criminal?" Mindy asks as she toasts the less-than-delighted couple at their wedding. "Come on, am I the only one who saw Angelina Jolie's movie?"

Mindy's acerbic selfishness is both an asset to and a problem for The Mindy Project. which isn't always clear on whether its main character is someone we can root for in a straightforward manner or a low-level anti-heroine. It's very funny to watch her drunkenly peddle through the suburbs on a purloined bike, hollering "Racist!" at a car that gets a little bit too close. It's less charming to watch her miss a patient's delivery and then complain when the doctor who stood in for her (Chris Messina) ends up getting the woman's business on a more permanent basis. Similarly, it's entertaining to watch a young boy, translating for his veiled and pregnant mother, call Mindy a drunk. It's less so to watch her complain about being sent poor patients rather than wealthy ones. There's a lot of comedy to wring out of Mindy's spoiled, insensitive behavior, but The Mindy Project doesn't do enough in its first episode to establish the space between how Mindy sees herself and how the show, and by extension the audience, perceives her. Mindy's going to need a trajectory that requires more reckoning than simply attempting not to sleep with a hot colleague if we're supposed to find her straightforwardly sympathetic—just like Bridesmaids ' Annie, who had to reckon with her possessiveness of Lillian in order to save her friend's wedding and discover a baseline from which to rebuild her life. The Mindy Project has time to figure itself out, and I'm optimistic that it can.

Bridesmaids worked because there were real consequences to the movie, not because of the pooping-in-the-street scene, or the jokes about John Hamm's penis. Annie lost her job, had to move back in with her mother, and fell into a deep depression before she was able to rebuild her life. She risked her oldest friendship and her pride. There's hope that Ben and Kate and The Mindy Project will have similarly high stakes. Ben and Kate already has Maddie as a weight ballasting the show. However much her mother and uncle screw up, they love her desperately and are eager to raise her right. The Mindy Project is pretty funny just being, as Mindy's best friend Gwen puts it, "a documentary about a criminally insane spinster." The question is whether The Mindy Project intends to pursue a more meaningful project.

A Passion for Finding Talent I Was a Muslim in Trump's White House

When President Obama left, I stayed on at the National Security Council in order to serve my country. I lasted eight days.

In 2011, I was hired, straight out of college, to work at the White House and eventually the National Security Council. My job there was to promote and protect the best of what my country stands for. I am a hijab-wearing Muslim woman––I was the only hijabi in the West Wing––and the Obama administration always made me feel welcome and included.

Like most of my fellow American Muslims, I spent much of 2016 watching with consternation as Donald Trump vilified our community. Despite this––or because of it––I thought I should try to stay on the NSC staff during the Trump Administration, in order to give the new president and his aides a more nuanced view of Islam, and of America's Muslim citizens.

When Evidence Says No, but Doctors Say Yes

Long after research contradicts common medical practices, patients continue to demand them and physicians continue to deliver. The result is an epidemic of unnecessary and unhelpful treatments.

First, listen to the story with the happy ending: At 61, the executive was in excellent health. His blood pressure was a bit high, but everything else looked good, and he exercised regularly. Then he had a scare. He went for a brisk post-lunch walk on a cool winter day, and his chest began to hurt. Back inside his office, he sat down, and the pain disappeared as quickly as it had come.

That night, he thought more about it: middle-aged man, high blood pressure, stressful job, chest discomfort. The next day, he went to a local emergency department. Doctors determined that the man had not suffered a heart attack and that the electrical activity of his heart was completely normal. All signs suggested that the executive had stable angina—chest pain that occurs when the heart muscle is getting less blood-borne oxygen than it needs, often because an artery is partially blocked.

Why Nothing Works Anymore

Technology has its own purposes.

“No… it’s a magic potty,” my daughter used to lament, age 3 or so, before refusing to use a public restroom stall with an automatic-flush toilet. As a small person, she was accustomed to the infrared sensor detecting erratic motion at the top of her head and violently flushing beneath her. Better, in her mind, just to delay relief than to subject herself to the magic potty’s dark dealings.

It’s hardly just a problem for small people. What adult hasn’t suffered the pneumatic public toilet’s whirlwind underneath them? Or again when attempting to exit the stall? So many ordinary objects and experiences have become technologized—made dependent on computers, sensors, and other apparatuses meant to improve them—that they have also ceased to work in their usual manner. It’s common to think of such defects as matters of bad design. That’s true, in part. But technology is also more precarious than it once was. Unstable, and unpredictable. At least from the perspective of human users. From the vantage point of technology, if it can be said to have a vantage point, it's evolving separately from human use.

The Bow-Tied Bard of Populism

Tucker Carlson’s latest reinvention is guided by a simple principle—a staunch aversion to whatever his right-minded neighbors believe.

Tucker Carlson is selling me hard on the swamp. It is an unseasonably warm afternoon in late January, and we are seated at a corner table in Monocle, an upscale Capitol Hill eatery frequented by the Fox News star. (Carlson, who typically skips breakfast and spends dinnertime on the air, is a fan of the long, luxurious, multi-course lunch, and when I requested an interview he proposed we do it here.) As we scan the menus, I mention that I’ll be moving soon to the Washington area, and he promptly launches into an enthusiastic recitation of the district’s many virtues and amenities.

“I’m so pathetically eager for people to love D.C.,” he admits. “It’s so sad. It’s like I work for the chamber of commerce or something.”

'There's Enough Time to Change Everything'

Polymath computer scientist David Gelernter’s wide-ranging ideas about American life.

Last month, David Gelernter, the pioneering Yale University computer scientist, met with Donald Trump to discuss the possibility of joining the White House staff. An article about the meeting in the Washington Post was headlined, “David Gelernter, fiercely anti-intellectual computer scientist, is being eyed for Trump’s science adviser.”

It is hard to imagine a more misleading treatment.

By one common definition. anti-intellectualism is “hostility towards and mistrust of intellect, intellectuals, and intellectual pursuits, usually expressed as the derision of education, philosophy, literature, art, and science, as impractical and contemptible.”

Here is the exchange that I had with Gelernter when I reached out to ask if he would be interested in discussing the substance of his views on science, politics and culture.

Why Did People on Medicaid Vote for Trump?

A new report explores why those who benefitted from Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion supported the man who promised to reverse it.

Here’s a question that’s baffled health reporters in the months since the election: Why would people who benefit from Obamacare in general—and its Medicaid expansion specifically—vote for a man who vowed to destroy it?

Some anecdotal reports have suggested that people simply didn’t understand that the benefits they received were a result of the Affordable Care Act. That was the case for one Indiana family The New York Times described in December:

Medicaid has paid for virtually all of his cancer care, including a one-week hospitalization after the diagnosis, months of chemotherapy, and frequent scans and blood tests.

But Mr. Kloski and his mother, Renee Epperson, are still not fans of the health law over all. They believed that it required that Mr. Kloski be dropped, when he turned 26, from the health plan his mother has through her job at Target — not understanding that it was the law that kept him on the plan until he was 26.

Republican Lawmakers Face Hostile Town-Hall Crowds

In response, some GOP members of Congress are attempting to show sympathy for voter concerns.

In their districts this week, Republican members of Congress are facing pushback from angry town-hall crowds over the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Some lawmakers are offering up a degree of sympathy in response, whether by defending the right to protest or attempting to convince voters they understand their concerns.

Republican Senator Tom Cotton told an agitated town hall audience in Arkansas on Wednesday that he wouldn’t deny that “Obamacare has helped many Arkansans,” after a woman said the law saved her life. When another woman insisted she wasn’t a “paid protester,” the senator tried to reassure the crowd that wasn’t a charge he planned to make: “You’re all Arkansans and I’m glad to hear from you,” he said. “Thank you to everyone for coming out tonight, whether you agree with me or disagree with me. This is part of what our country is all about.”

Can the Democratic Party Win Back Voters It Lost to Trump?

Liberals may need to decide whether to focus on energizing their base or expanding their coalition.

Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, who is up for reelection in the red state of Missouri in 2018, recently told a St. Louis radio host she may face a primary challenge. “I may have a primary because there is, in our party now, some of the same kind of enthusiasm at the base that the Republican Party had with the Tea Party,” she said during an interview earlier this month. “Many of those people are very impatient with me because they don’t think I’m pure,” she added.

As the Democratic Party contemplates what’s next in the wake of its defeat in the presidential election, liberals may have to decide what matters more: Building a big tent party where far-left voters and moderate centrists can co-exist even if they occasionally disagree on policy and strategy, or focusing on the demands of the party’s progressive base, potentially creating a more like-minded and ideologically rigid coalition in the process.

Is It Okay to Enjoy the Warm Winters of Climate Change?

The weather is nice, but it reminds us of the problems to come.

This is not how February is supposed to feel.

From D.C. to Denver. from Charlotte to Chicago. towns and cities across the United States have posted strings of record-breaking summery days in what is normally the final month of winter. Wednesday was only the third time since 1880 that Green Bay, Wisconsin, cracked 60 degrees Fahrenheit in February. Ice on the Great Lakes covers only a quarter of its normal surface area. And parts of Oklahoma and Texas have both already been scorched by 90-degree afternoons.

All in all, the United States has already set more than 2,800 new record high temperatures this month. It has only set 27 record lows.

Most people handle this weather as the gift it is: an opportunity to get outside, run or bike or play catch, and get an early jump on the spring. But for the two-thirds of Americans who are at least fairly worried about global warming. the weather can also prompt anxiety and unease. As one woman told the Chicago Tribune : “It’s scary, that’s my first thing. Because in all my life I’ve never seen a February this warm.” Or as one viral tweet put it:

The Politics of Retelling Norse Mythology

Neil Gaiman’s remarkable new book has triggered a debate about who, exactly, owns pagan tales.

Myths are funny. Unlike histories, they are symbolic narratives; they deal with spiritual rather than fact-based truths. They serve as foundations for beliefs, illustrating how things came to be and who was involved, but they’re often sketchy about when or why. There’s a brief scene from Neil Gaiman’s new book Norse Mythology that does a remarkable job of capturing just this: the wonderfully nebulous sense of being in illo tempore— the hazy “at that time” of the mythic past. It begins, as many creation myths do, with “an empty place waiting to be filled with life,” but in this instance some life already exists. There’s Ymir, whose enormous body produces all giants and, eventually, the earth, skies, and seas. There’s Audhumla, the celestial cow, who licks the first gods out of blocks of ice. And there are three brothers—the gods Ve, Vili, and Odin—who must devise a way out of this timeless nowhere:

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