Link rodeo:

  • Adam Gopnik remembers Saul Steinberg.
  • The real progenitors of modern Republicanism are not Goldwater and Reagan but McCarthy and Nixon.
  • Terry Gross interviews the great Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, of Philadelphia International Records [web, iTunes].


Why professional journalism sucks: Dan "Fake Steve" Lyons quits blogging in Newsweek censorship fracas.


Gay marriage: The database engineering perspective.


John Darnielle: "It's pretentious, but hard-won pretentiousness is its own kind of realness once you've learned the secret handshake."

Wait ... Jeff Tweedy is friends with Barack Obama?

This made me really sad for Jack Kirby.

Harold Meyerson: "Second, Waxman is a legislative genius."


Chuck Klosterman: "The GNR members Rose misses more are Izzy Stradlin (who effortlessly wrote or co-wrote many of the band's most memorable tunes) and Duff McKagan, the underappreciated bassist who made Appetite For Destruction so devastating. Because McKagan worked in numerous Seattle-based bands before joining Guns N' Roses, he became the de facto arranger for many of those pre-Appetite tracks, and his philosophy was always to take the path of least resistance. He pushed the songs in whatever direction felt most organic. But Rose is the complete opposite. He takes the path of most resistance."

Ezra Klein: "You don't tap the former Senate Majority Leader to run your health care bureaucracy. That's not his skill set. You tap him to get your health care plan through Congress."


In the spirit of Nathan Zuckerman's perennial Hebrew-school essay topic "Sandy Koufax: Great Pitcher, Greater Jew," comes the Forward's roundup of the top 50 Jews. Of Matthew Weiner's Mad Men, which features two peripheral Jewish characters in its large cast, the editors write: "Mad Men won six Emmy awards this year, including one for best drama, but its greater accomplishment was in shaping perceptions of who Jews are and where we came from."


These past few days I've been crying at odd intervals, prompted sometimes by pieces of music -- James Carter's version of "Summer Babe" coming up on shuffle, Sam Cooke's version of "A Change Is Gonna Come" coming up in my head -- and sometimes by the sight of children in strollers, although when the children are black I try to hide my emotion because I bet the black parents of Fort Greene are already sick of white people's faces creasing up at the sight of them going about their lives.

Judith Warner has a good piece up about all this crying and what it means.


I love Fort Greene.

For the past two decades, a core set of "cultural conservative" opinions has served as a theoretical dividing line between "red" (Republican/conservative) and "blue" (Democratic/liberal) America. These incude attitudes toward sex roles, the centrality of Christianity in culture, and a social traditionalism focused on patriotism and the family. If you were to translate that divide into baby names it might place a name like Peter—classic, Christian, masculine—on one side, staring down an androgynous pagan newcomer like Dakota on the other. In fact, that does describe the political baby name divide quite accurately. But it describes it backwards.


Spore wrapup: Seed article on the conflict among the game's developers: the "cute team" versus the "science team." On the Spore messageboard, disappointed fans react with a thread called "We Found Who to Tar and Feather!" Biologist P. Z. Myers bemoans the dumbed-down science.

OMG, I'd forgotten like 65 percent of these, and the rest are permanently burned into my brain.


Andrew Sullivan:

If you place a map of the states that favoured the proslavery south over a map of the states that are now showing a trend for John McCain, you will get an almost perfect match. The only differences: Virginia has switched sides, and West Virginia has too. (It is now for McCain.) Florida, once part of the Confederacy, is also now prone to vote Democrat because of a massive influx from the north. The rest is essentially unchanged since the 1860s. Even in America, the past controls the present. [Emphasis mine]
It would be foolish to deny that slavery and the Civil War exert their influence over present-day politics. But it's also foolish to suggest that the electoral map is "essentially unchanged since the 1860s."

In fact, the south wasn't a unified conservative bloc even in the 1860s. (In 1869, Georgia, Kentucky, and Louisiana voted for Horatio Seymour while the rest of the south backed Union war hero Ulysses Grant.) In the '30s and '40s, FDR swept the south twice, along with the rest of the country. In 1952 and 1956 the former Confederacy (and nowhere else) threw its electoral votes to that good ol' boy Adlai Stevenson. In 1960 and 1964 the region's votes split down the middle; in 1976 every southern state but Virginia backed native son Jimmy Carter. In 1992 and 1996, Bill Clinton won many southern states. (Fascinating historical maps here.)

In the last two elections, of course, the south has been homogeneously conservative. But that's an anomaly, and the idea of the former Confederacy as a unified and consistently reactionary voting bloc is an unwarranted capitulation to the fantasies of Karl Rove.

Awesome website for Maura's new book.


Mark Danner's "Obama and Sweet Potato Pie": Probably the best non-newsy belles-lettristic thing I've read about the campaign, maybe the closest we're going to get to a full-scale Joan Didion Obama/McCain piece.