In 1977, my grandparents took me and my sisters to the top of the Empire State Building. I can remember being annoyed by all the waiting in line just to ride the elevator to the observation floor. We probably spent more time waiting to board that elevator than we spent viewing the view. Still, when our turn came around and after the elevator finally reached the 102nd floor, I burst out of the doors to see what all the fuss was about.
At first, I was too distracted with taking in the view to notice that my grandpa was not with me. When I turned back to search for him, I saw that he had parked himself close to the elevators away from the windows and the view. I called to him, “Grandpa, you gotta come see this.” “No thanks,” he replied “I’m good here.” “Pretty please,” I pleaded. This time he…
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Every year, the sycophants of the mainstream media get to rub shoulders with famous attractive people (actors) and famous ugly people (politicians). The White House Correspondents Dinner is an orgy of self-congratulatory back-patting, which attendees lovingly refer to as “nerd prom.”
Well, the biennial Policy History Conference is not exactly prom, but it is definitely the nerd equivalent of some kind of major social event. Nerdstock? Wonkapalooza? If tax policy or brownfield mitigation is your bag, then you will surely be making your way to Albany, Frankfort, or whichever button-down cowtown the conference happens to be held in that year. This year Policy History rolled into the Midwestern idyll of Columbus, OH, as boozy participants wound their way through the cobblestone streets of the city’s historic German Village, clutching a Dirty Frank sriracha slaw dog in one hand and the tear-stained pages of the 1981 Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Bill in another.
Whenever ToM contributors…
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By Tom Koch
“It was about the Beginning of September, 1664, that I, amongst the Rest of my Neighbours, heard in ordinary Discourse, that the Plague was returned in Holland, for it had been very violent there, and particularly at Amsterdam and Roterdam, in the year of 1663.”
Daniel Defoe, Journal of the Plague Year.
That is how it always begins. There is an outbreak out there, somewhere, away in a place that is safely distant. If we care at all it is because we know the place and some of its people. Perhaps we have business with them. And, too, we care because the diseases affecting those distant places sometimes have traveled from out “there” to our “here.” That was certainly true for Defoe’s narrator, whose hopes that plague would not migrate to London were shattered in December of 1665 when the British Bill of Mortality listed…
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I’ve never felt so courted as I did when colleges started sending me and my sister letters and brochures during our senior year of high school. At one point, mid-fall, I hauled a stack of mailers that was nearly three feet tall out to the recycling bin. Whereas I imagine previous generations of women agonized over the finding the perfect husband at 18, my classmates and I agonized over finding the perfect college. For those of us on the honors/AP/IB fast track of elite education in Atlanta, it was a kind of holy grail we chased after, plowing through chemistry homework while our classmates smoked joints at Lake Burton.
I went into college sincerely believing it was going to be the absolute best four years of my life: a distillation of the most engaging and empowering moments from high school, minus all…
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by Jack Halberstam
I was watching Monty Python’s The Life of Brian from 1979 recently, a hilarious rewriting of the life and death of Christ, and I realized how outrageous most of the jokes from the film would seem today. In fact, the film, with its religious satire and scenes of Christ and the thieves singing on the cross, would never make it into cinemas now. The Life of Brian was certainly received as controversial in its own day but when censors tried to repress the film in several different countries, The Monty Python crew used their florid sense of humor to their advantage. So, when the film was banned in a few places, they gave it a tagline of: “So funny it was banned in Norway!”
Humor, in fact, in general, depends upon the unexpected (“No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!”); repetition to the point of hilarity “you can…
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