The Community Community.” Nathan Beacom parses the effects that digital technologies have had on the way we imagine and experience community: “something important has changed about the way we think about community in the internet age. A word that once referred to a group of people sharing life together in a particular place has come to refer, today, to abstract categories. Where once we might have spoken of the community of the South Bronx or the community of Parma, Ohio, we now talk about everything from the fishing community to the gaming community to the disability rights community, abstract groups that may not share life or know one another at all. This is not just a minor linguistic development; it means that the idea of community has been lifted out of the context of concrete relationships.”

An English Major who Melted Aluminum.” Dick Schwartz describes the satisfactions of a hard job done well: “On a summer morning at the scrapyard before my junior year at the University of Minnesota, I was reassigned to stir molten aluminum. My foreman, Mr. Robinson, didn’t make me his ‘stirrer’ because I had experience or skill. I had neither. My only qualification: I was the only remaining college boy hire in the yard after the previous stirrer, Leonard, had a panic attack inside the smelting furnace and was reassigned to foraging the yard for stray copper and brass shavings with a wooden pail.”

College Students: School Is Not Your Job.” Jonathan Malesic reminds college students in particular—but this is a reminder we all need to hear—that leisure is a higher goal than work: “the expectation that college will help them land a job has led too many students to approach college like a job in its own right: a series of grim tasks that, once completed, qualifies them to perform grimmer but better-paid tasks until retirement. That’s a shame, because this mentality leaves no room for what college should primarily be about: not work, but leisure.”

Are A.P. Classes a Waste of Time?” Aaron R. Hanlon reviews Annie Abrams’s Shortchanged and concurs with her indictment of the AP system: “The damage is familiar to college faculty across disciplines: writing as a form of Frankfurtian bullshit for which it’s more important to be superficially convincing than rigorous or factually correct; the study of literature as exercise in literary device-hunting, a trick-mirror image of literary formalism from 75 years ago.”

Make American History Dramatic Again.” Jonathan Den Hartog suggests that curriculum debates in America tend to overlook the real problem that afflicts too many history classes: they are boring. He proposes several ways that teachers can restore vitality and drama to their classrooms: “History and government teachers have a hard job, beset with demands from many sides. In the midst of those pressures, they can serve their students well by passing on an appreciation for the drama of American history.”

When Teaching Children History, Embrace Imagination.” Dixie Dillon Lane likewise mourns the “unfortunate misunderstanding of history as boring, even pointless, [that] is the result of a growing, well-meaning, and misguided overemphasis on memorization and detail-based education in elementary school education.” Much like Den Hartog, Lane urges a recovery of history’s drama: “the exciting truth is that we will never know exactly what happened in the past. History is mystery: it is lives and stories and pain and joy and real experience hidden behind the times. History is a matter of both fact and story.”

Demining the Sahara.” Alice Pistolesi and Monica Pelliccia describe the work of women who disable landmines and plant trees in the desert. Maria Novella De Luca’s gripping photographs highlight the humble, mundane, incredible courage their work displays.

The Farming Life We’re Losing as the Suburbs Spread.” Todd Wetzel describes how the character of his rural neighborhood is changing as fewer people farm and more telecommute: “Missing from the discussion of population trends, at least in my head, is how any of us, our lifestyles, our work, connect to the actual physical geography we call home. Around my part of Somerset County, the answer used to be pretty obvious: people farmed. More specifically they milked cows. This is changing.”

Wrestling With Inequality, Some Conservatives Redraw Economic Blueprint.” Talmon Joseph Smith surveys some of the disputes among conservative politicians and policy makers about the best economic means of achieving their goals: “a growing debate among conservative thinkers, politicians and the party base — online, in books and in public forums — reveals a group divided about how, in practice, to address pocketbook issues and the extent to which the government should be involved.”

Food Prices Are Still High. What Role Do Corporate Profits Play?” There’s been a lot of talk recently about supply chain disruptions and other reasons for the increased price of groceries. But Dana Cronin points to another cause: “in a competitive capitalist economy, the market dictates prices. Companies can only charge whatever consumers are willing to pay for their products. If something costs less somewhere else, they’ll likely go there to buy it. The consumer commands control of the market. But in our current food system, companies have the power. Right now, only four companies control more than half of the market for nearly 80 percent of grocery items.”

We Disagree on Abortion. Here’s a Pro-family Agenda both Parties Can Support.” Marc Thiessen and Alyssa Rosenberg put together a list of bipartisan policies that would ease the financial burdens on parents: “our fundamental disagreement on one of the most vexing moral questions of our time should not prevent people of goodwill from working together on something most Americans agree on: supporting families. If two Post columnists who agree on little else can do it, then Democrats and Republicans in Congress can as well. Because whether we are pro-life or pro-choice, we can — and must — be pro-family.”

Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture