The Word Factory

Daily broadsides from The Baffler's just-in-time corps of knowledge workers

Advice for a Trumpland Thanksgiving

Amber A’Lee FrostNovember 16, 2016
On the menu this year: your relatives' bigotry, now unmasked. / Giuseppe Arcimboldo
On the menu this year: your relatives' bigotry, now unmasked. / Giuseppe Arcimboldo

Conventional wisdom holds that “kitchen table activism” with kith and kin is somehow easier than talking to strangers, but I’ve never found that to be true. In my experience, people—especially conservative people—are more likely to accept disagreement from a stranger than they are their own family, especially if the dissenting leftist family member in question is younger than they are.

Are Sex Offenders Human?

A scene from the film  Pervert Park. / De Andra/Final Cut for Real
A scene from the film  Pervert Park. / De Andra/Final Cut for Real

In July 16, 2015, Barack Obama visited a federal prison, the first sitting president ever to do so. It was a powerful statement of support for a broad movement—stretching from Black Lives Matter to Right on Crime—to reform the U.S.

Daily Bafflements

The BafflerNovember 14, 2016
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7421296060_8589339f33_z

And so it begins. Over the weekend Mr. Trump, when asked how many immigrants he wanted to deport (or jail), threw out a cool three million figure. He gave a top job to Steve Bannon, a man who makes your common-or-garden spin doctor look quaint.

Crash of the Pop-Culture Party

Jacob SilvermanNovember 14, 2016
This is not the face of a fictional character eager to help you locate the subversive potential of our corporate-branded blockbuster entertainments. / The Lord of the Rings
This is not the face of a fictional character eager to help you locate the subversive potential of our corporate-branded blockbuster entertainments. / The Lord of the Rings

To hear some pundits insist, with perfect seriousness, that it was important for Taylor Swift to speak out on Hillary Clinton’s behalf ahead of the election was to realize how celebritized our virtue-signaling politics has become. When disappointed liberals quote The Hunger Games in the coming weeks, they will only be redoubling the slick and foolish liberal embrace of Hollywood and pop culture that was so fully on display during Hillary Clinton’s failed campaign.

Show Me Where It Hurts

Maximillian AlvarezNovember 11, 2016
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23503714940_e2c21ec487_k

History hurts. That is how we know it. That is how we must understand our place in it. It may not hurt for everyone all the time, but that doesn’t mean the bones aren’t broken under the skin.

Round-up of Recriminations

Corey PeinNovember 10, 2016
Fingers pointing
Fingers pointing

Recriminations will abound in the days to come. The finger-pointing won’t stop for months, years, maybe decades. After all, it’s not every day global empires collapse from within, tweet by inexorable tweet. Given the scale of the disaster, we should expect the arguments to be spiteful and counterproductive.

Daily Bafflements

The BafflerNovember 09, 2016
Mood. / TMAB2003
Mood. / TMAB2003

There’s an Onion piece from 2002 entitled “Man Blames Hangover On Everything But How Much He Drank.” You don’t even need to read it; we’ve all been there. One has to wonder if the Democratic elite is going to pull the equivalent schtick in the aftermath of yesterday’s election.

The New Hampshire Special

David ReesNovember 09, 2016
The Red Arrow Diner in Manchester, NH. / Danielle York
The Red Arrow Diner in Manchester, NH. / Danielle York

After two days of door-knocking for Hillary Clinton in southern New Hampshire, my girlfriend and I decided to stop off at Manchester’s Red Arrow Diner before driving back to Brooklyn. It had come highly recommended (the diner, that is, not the door-knocking, which I knew would be a drag, and which I did only under the duress of a white nationalist becoming president).

Daily Bafflements

The BafflerNovember 07, 2016
Lindsay Fox
Lindsay Fox

On purges, cigarette-pack warnings, and projectile vomiting: Baffler contributing editor Barbara Ehrenreich provides a medical perspective on the U.S. election. (Thanks, The Guardian!)

Fresh from a Trump rally, Baffler contributing editor Astra Taylor enters a health food store:

Trump and Hilary are equally bad, he said.

Stop Calling the United States a Banana Republic

mira66
mira66

You’ve seen or heard it at least once this election season: some new outrage denounced by politicos and journalists as more appropriate to a “banana republic” than to the United States. From CBS’s Bob Schieffer to The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson, and from New York magazine’s Frank Rich to Tina Brown, accusations that America is flirting with “banana republic” status have become ubiquitous, particularly among liberals agog at the antics of the Trump campaign.

Born and Bred

Emily CarrollNovember 07, 2016
Interrogating the narrative around Trump's white base. / Gage Skidmore
Interrogating the narrative around Trump's white base. / Gage Skidmore

This election cycle has been rife with punditry on the anger of the white working class, supposedly fueling Donald Trump’s rise to prominence. But like many of the overblown narratives rounding out the cable news cycle in this bizarre election, it’s not quite true.

Daily Bafflements

The BafflerNovember 04, 2016

Has cryonics taken a great leap forward in Russia? Forgive us for being a bit skeptical, after Corey Pein’s dive into American transhumanism back in issue 30. As Bloomberg Businessweek cheerily summarizes,

Generally speaking, transhumanists believe that technology is advancing at an exponential rate and that sometime in the future, death will be overcome.