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The Baffler’s Week That Was

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Mueller cartoon

Cartoon by P. S. Mueller

• This week, we had occasion to re-visit two great pieces from the archives: Hussein Ibish’s appreciation of Marquis de Sade’s political legacy (for Sade’s 274th birthday, obviously), and Jim Newell’s salvo about conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation, re-posted on the day the organization launched an online “news” outlet.

• On the blog, Jacob Silverman reviewed the new documentary Citizen Koch, about the fallout from the Citizens United Supreme Court case, Koch spending, and Wisconsin’s war against workers. As Silverman wrote, “The slide towards oligarchy continues.”

Anne Elizabeth Moore took a long, hard look at an under-examined topic: the history of consumer feminine hygiene products. And she demonstrated why patenting is a feminist issue.

Hannah K. Gold reviewed Rebecca Solnit’s new book Men Explain Things to Me; she commended Solnit for her “intimate understanding of how the twin bulwarks of language and silence fuel political agendas,” while sharing some of her own brushes with the notorious “mansplain.”

• In another book review, this one of Suzanne Mettler’s new book Degrees of Inequality: How the Politics of Higher Education Sabotaged the American Dream, Kathleen Geier helped expose the lie that higher education is still the best means of social mobility. Rising student debt, for-profit colleges, and a useless college ratings system aren’t doing anything to help kids from lower- and middle-income families get ahead, not anymore.

Scott Beauchamp asked a vital question of the Bowe Bergdahl affair: “doesn’t walking away from your heavily fortified compound and into a combat zone, with no plan and only the most basic of necessities, sound much more like a cry for help than desertion?” The polarized debate between hero and traitor ignores a basic truth about the pressures of war.

• Finally, Kyle Chayka reviewed the first season of HBO’s Silicon Valley, which just wrapped up this week. In “Silicon Valley’s Office Politic,” Chayka considered both the show’s place in a long line of workplace comedies, and what it can tell us about the enduring myth of the garage-entrepreneur in the popular imagination today.

Everyone! If you are reading this, get off the Internet immediately, and go outside! Take tie-guy above as an inspiration, or a cautionary tale, depending on how you look at it. Get out there and enjoy the weekend.