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How the Ski Industry is Working to Save Winter

The outdoor industry is upping its sustainability game, and the ski industry is no exception. Downhill skiing is notoriously known for its environmental impact?anywhere large amounts of people flock is bound to be a recipe for excessive waste. But?hitting the slopes may arguably be the?most carbon-intensive outdoor sport.

In particular, ski slopes use incredible amounts of electricity, from slope-side lighting?and fuel-intensive snow-making to keeping things toasty inside for patrons drinking their apr?s hot cocoas. But?energy isn’t the only hungry environmental monster. In the French Alps, it is estimated that yearly artificial snow production requires the same amount of water as would be used by 1,500 people. That’s a lot of water waste for just a little fake snow. And that’s not to mention the impacts of fake snow on the natural environment, which requires immense energy to produce, causes water displacement, and melts 2 to 3 weeks later in the season than natural snow, which postpones snowmelt. Scientists are still unsure about the ramifications of this.

No one can argue that ski resorts have a lot to lose when it comes to climate change and warming global temperatures. They rely primarily on a cold, snowy winter season, so it is in the industry?s best interests to do all it can to thwart a complete environmental meltdown. And that?s why ski resorts nationwide are looking to seriously green up their acts.

Many ski areas have pledged to do all they can to keep up with Paris Climate Accord goals, even though the US government has pulled out. Green building policies are being implemented for new condominiums in order to protect nearby animal habitats. Ski California has already set goals for water conservation, land preservation, increased clean public transit options and general increased efficiency and sustainability all around.?There are?plenty of?ways to reduce?the skiing industry?s carbon footprint, and that’s great for both skiers and the industry at large.

But the ski industry is looking to?get even greener.

Resorts across the country are working to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and make the move towards renewable energy. Jiminy Peak in Western Massachusetts runs one third of its energy needs (two thirds in winter) off of wind power, and they are looking to reduce their carbon footprint more and more each year.

Even more impressive, California ski resort Squaw Valley has just released its plan to go 100 percent renewable by as early as December 2018. The move from fossils to renewables by the ski industry is hopefully the first step in a larger shift in outdoor recreation towards renewable energy. After all, in order to play outdoors you need a healthy, clean environment to do it in.

If you love skiing but have a green conscience, it is important to choose your resort destinations carefully. Factor in airline travel, the resort’s sustainability practices,?the gear and food you buy, weather and anything else to make sure you aren?t adding to the problem. And if your local slope isn?t greening it up, talk to the manager, show them what some other resorts are doing and discuss ways you think?cleaner practices?could increase their slope?s economic and environmental viability in tandem. Let’s be real: increased environmental consciousness will pay off for all of us?on the long run.

Do you love skiing? What do you think you could do on your own to make your season pass less carbon intensive? Share your best ideas below!? ??

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How the Ski Industry is Working to Save Winter

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Trump shared his thoughts on climate change, and surprise, they’re dumb

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, French President Emmanuel Macron made headlines for poking fun at his American counterpart’s well-documented history of climate change denial.

Now, remarks from President Donald Trump on the issue, which were also recorded in Davos but aired in Britain Sunday evening, are providing additional context to Macron’s spot-on mockery.

“There is a cooling and there’s a heating,” Trump told Piers Morgan in an interview with Britain’s ITV. “I mean, look, it used to not be climate change, it used to be global warming. That wasn’t working too well because it was getting too cold all over the place.”

He then addressed the subject of polar ice cap melting. “The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now, but now they’re setting records,” Trump said. “They’re at a record level.”

In reality, human-made global warming has far outpaced any short-term cooling. Nevertheless, climate change skeptics regularly cherry-pick such data points that fail to account for long-term trends, which consistently show that the planet’s temperature is rising.

Like Trump’s past musings on global warming, his latest observations fly in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence. They also recall a May Politico report in which Trump fell for a hoax Time magazine cover that supposedly warned about a coming ice age. K.T. McFarland, the former deputy national security adviser, reportedly snuck the fake cover onto Trump’s desk with the intention of irritating Trump on the topic of climate change.

A White House official defended McFarland, saying that the cover was “fake but accurate.” Whatever that means.

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Trump shared his thoughts on climate change, and surprise, they’re dumb

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Do Marigolds Really Repel Garden Pests?

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Do Marigolds Really Repel Garden Pests?

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In Which I Waste a Lot of Time on Climate Change Yahooism

Mother Jones

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Boy did I waste some time yesterday. It started with this post from David French:

The Environmentalist Left Has to Grapple with Its Failed, Alarmist Predictions

I’m pasting below one of my favorite videos, from a Good Morning America report in 2008….Truly, it’s a stunning piece of work, depicting the deadly dystopia that awaited Americans in . . . 2015. Manhattan is disappearing under rising seas, milk is almost $13 per “carton,” and gas prices skyrocketed to more than $9 per gallon. But if you’re familiar at all with environmentalist predictions, there’s nothing all that unusual about the GMA’s report (except for its vivid visuals).

….As I wrote in early 2016 — after the world allegedly passed Al Gore’s “point of no return” — environmentalist predictions are a target-rich environment. There’s a veritable online cottage industry cataloguing hysterical, failed predictions of environmentalist catastrophe. Over at the American Enterprise Institute, Mark Perry keeps his list of “18 spectacularly wrong apocalyptic predictions” made around the original Earth Day in 1970. Robert Tracinski at The Federalist has a nice list of “Seven big failed environmentalist predictions.” The Daily Caller’s “25 years of predicting the global warming ‘tipping point’” makes for amusing reading, including one declaration that we had mere “hours to act” to “avert a slow-motion tsunami.”

….Is the environmental movement interested in explaining rather than hectoring? Then explain why you’ve been wrong before. Own your mistakes.

I would be a lot more impressed with complaints like this if conservatives had spent the past decade loudly insisting that although climate change was important and needed to be addressed, we shouldn’t panic over it. That would be defensible. Needless to say, that’s not what they’ve done. Instead, for purely partisan reasons, we’ve gone from lots of Republicans supporting cap-and-trade to a nearly unanimous rejection in 2010 of what they now fatuously call cap-and-tax, followed in 2016 by the election of a man who’s called climate change a hoax.

Still, alarmism from activists is nothing new, so I was ready to believe plenty of them had gone overboard. At the same time, I was suspicious because the GMA video was rather oddly cropped. It was a hyperactive promo for a forgettable ABC program called Earth 2100 that aired eight years ago, so I wasted some time watching it. Here it is, so you can watch it too if you want to make sure I describe it accurately:

The program is very clear at the beginning that it’s dramatizing a worst-case dystopia of climate change if we do nothing. That said, the show’s actual depiction of 2015 includes these vignettes: an oil shortage spikes gasoline prices to $5 per gallon; higher oil prices make suburbs less desirable places to live; eating meat uses a lot more oil than eating grain; Congress approves 40 new coal-fired power plants; a huge storm hits Miami; a huge cyclone hits Bangladesh; a drought in China causes wheat shortages; and world leaders fail to reach agreement on greenhouse gas reductions.

That’s…not at all what French describes. And it’s not especially alarmist, either. The big drought was (is) in South Sudan, not China, and the most intense cyclone ever was in the eastern Pacific, not Bangladesh or Miami. It was the Lima conference that produced no climate agreement (that would have to wait for Paris at the tail end of 2015), and for pretty much the reasons described in the program. Extreme weather events have increased and wildfire damage in the western US has intensified. But the show did get a couple of things wrong: there was no oil shortage and no new coal-fired plants.

After I finished my vintage TV watching, I trudged through each of French’s catalogs of ridiculous environmental predictions. First up was Mark Perry’s list of bad prediction from the first Earth Day. I’m not sure why I’m supposed to care about a random assortment of stuff from 50 years ago, but whatever. Perry has a list of 18 items, and of them, (a) six were from Paul Ehrlich, (b) two were vague warnings about humans destroying the planet, which we were certainly doing in 1970, and (c) four were dire predictions of things that might happen if we did nothing. But of course, we didn’t do nothing. That leaves six: two predictions of famine, two predictions of resource shortages, one prediction of mass extinction, and one prediction of an impending ice age. I can’t find any backup for the mass extinction thing, but the guy who allegedly predicted it got a Medal of Freedom from Ronald Reagan, so how bad could he be? Nor could I find any backup for the supposed prediction of a coming ice age, and the data it’s based on makes it seem unlikely.

So if we agree that Paul Ehrlich was just way off base, we’re left with four guys who got some stuff wrong. If this is the best we can find from the entire maelstrom of the environmental movement of 1970, it doesn’t sound like those guys did so badly after all.

Next up was the Federalist list, but it was pretty much the same stuff.

Finally there’s the Daily Caller’s list of bad predictions about a global “tipping point.” I had to trudge through each one and click through to see what it really said, and it turns out the first five cases were all routine statements about how much time we had left until the next climate conference, where we really had to get something done. The sixth was from Prince Charles, so who cares? The seventh was a claim that we needed to do something by 2012 in order to keep climate change from getting out of control. The eighth was a piece about the unsustainability of eating lots of meat. And the ninth was a 1989 prediction that we needed to get moving on climate change by 2000 to avoid catastrophe.

So we have a grand total of two people saying that we need to act fast or else it will be impossible to keep future climate change under 2°C. This is a pretty mainstream view since there’s a lot of inertia built into climate change, so I’m not sure why this list is supposed to be so scandalous in the first place. We do need to act quickly if we want global warming to peak at 2°C or less. What’s wrong with saying that at every opportunity?

When you get done with all this, there’s virtually nothing of substance left. Sure, some people got some stuff wrong. That’s always the case. The whole point of science is not to get everything right, but to have a mechanism for correcting its errors. And if you look at consensus views, instead of cherry picking individuals, I think environmental scientists have as good a track record as anyone. Aside from creating listicles that get passed around forever on the internet by ignorant yahoos, what’s the point of pretending that they’ve been epically wrong for decades and need to offer up abject apologies before we ever listen to them again?

There’s no need to answer that. I think we all know exactly what the point is.

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In Which I Waste a Lot of Time on Climate Change Yahooism

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French Election Will Be Between Macron and Le Pen

Mother Jones

I suppose this isn’t a big surprise, but it sure is discouraging—especially after Donald Trump’s disgusting “I’m not endorsing Le Pen, mind you, but she sure is great!” twaddle. The only good news is that Macron is a decent candidate and will almost certainly crush Marine “I promise we’re not racists anymore” Le Pen.

Of course, that’s what we thought about Hillary Clinton too, so….

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French Election Will Be Between Macron and Le Pen

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John Oliver Issues a Stark Warning to France Ahead of Presidential Election

Mother Jones

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Ahead of next week’s first round of the French presidential election, John Oliver on Sunday implored voters not to go down the road of the United States by electing head of the far-right National Front group, Marine Le Pen.

Similar to Donald Trump, Le Pen has attracted voters by touting a France-first message that promises to create jobs for the unemployed youth. But “beneath her slick presentation, Le Pen’s message is vicious,” the Last Week Tonight host explained. Like Trump, the far-right French candidate runs an extremely anti-immigration campaign, and she’s been accused of using her platform to promote racist policies against Muslims.

“One of the frustrating things about watching this unfold from America is this feels a little like deja vu,” Oliver said. “A potentially destabilizing populist campaigning on anti-immigrant rhetoric who rages against the elites, despite having a popular father and inherited wealth—even as all the experts reassure us that there is no way this could possibly happen.”

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John Oliver Issues a Stark Warning to France Ahead of Presidential Election

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This Epic PBS Documentary Shows How Creepily Little Has Changed Since World War I

Mother Jones

I was never that much of a history buff, so it’s pretty rare for me to sit down and watch a documentary about a war that ended before my mom was born. But I’m rethinking my slacker ways after watching The Great War, a captivating new series premiering April 10 on PBS’ American Experience.

The history of this nation’s involvement in World War I is as fascinating as it is unsettling. The Great War also was our global coming of age, the beginning of America’s transformation into a nation deeply engaged in world affairs and conflicts. Perhaps what struck me most about the three-part, six-hour series was the familiarity of so many of its themes—a sense of déjà vu that left me feeling like even those of us who know our history are doomed to repeat it.

Here are 10 big takeaways from the series to accompany this exclusive clip (above) about the wartime crackdown on dissent.

1. America was as polarized a century ago as it is today. In 1917, the country was split over race relations, voting rights, domestic politics, our place in the world, and whether we should be fighting foreign wars at all.

2. The “great” war was so not great. Like all big conflicts, World War I had its inspiring tales of duty, bravery, and heroism, but the primary narrative was one of staggering deprivation and devastation. By the time America came in, some 15 million soldiers and civilians were already dead. (The 1918 flu pandemic, made worse by the war, would kill millions more.) Beyond the bullets and shells, the Germans introduced frightening new weapons including mustard gas, which was soon adopted by the Allies. During the Meuse-Argonne offensive, US soldiers fighting the Germans lost an average of 550 men per day for 47 straight days. Three times that many were wounded. “It was, and remains,” notes one commentator, “the bloodiest battle America has ever been involved in.” But the longest conflict we’ve ever been involved in is still happening—over in Afghanistan.

“First to Fight” US Marines in 1918 U.S. Marine Corps Recruiting Publicity Bureau

3. Immigrants were scapegoated. Sound familiar? With Americans being shipped overseas to backstop French and British forces against the Kaiser’s army, German Americans became the bad guys at home. They were forced to register with the federal government. German language and songs were banned from schools. There were stein-smashing events, and citizens were encouraged to report those they suspected of disloyalty. Anyone deemed pro-German might be beaten, tarred and feathered, hauled to an internment camp, or even lynched. Now we have anti-Muslim travel orders, rising hate crimes, and an anti-immigrant president who supports the notion of a Muslim registry—during the campaign, a Trump surrogate cited internment camps as a precedent. This is a slippery slope, people.

4. You were either with us or against us. Remember how the politicians who refused to fall in line with George W. Bush’s post-9/11 crackdown on civil liberties (and his move to invade Iraq) were attacked for giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Rewind to 1917: At first reluctant to enter the war, President Woodrow Wilson went all in, brooking no dissent from the public. Conformity was enforced by means of federally funded propaganda, as well as vigilante groups that, with the blessing of the Department of Justice, conducted “slacker raids.” Police, too, conducted mass roundups, locking up draft evaders, conscientious objectors, and war critics such as socialist leader Eugene Debs. Hutterite religious objectors were tortured (some to death) at Leavenworth military prison.

New York City Preparedness Parade (May 1916) Library of Congress

5. Laws were passed to justify repression. With today’s Republican lawmakers proposing harsh penalties for peaceful protest activities such as blocking traffic, it’s instructive to recall the Espionage and Sedition acts that Congress passed in 1917 and 1918 at the urging of President Wilson. (One of the film’s featured historians, Michael Kazin, calls Wilson “both the great Democrat and one of the most oppressive figures in American history.”) Used to prosecute more than 2,000 Americans, “these two acts really become tools to shut up people who refuse to be quiet about their opposition to the war, especially left-wing organizations—socialists, the IWW International Workers of the World,” historian Jennifer Keene explains. Simply griping to a colleague about food rationing might get a man locked up. “For every prosecution,” adds historian Christopher Capozzola, “there may be tens, hundreds, thousands of ‘friendly’ visits by government agents warning someone not to say what they said or write what they wrote.”

6. World War I spawned a huge propaganda machine. Wilson enlisted marketing guru George Creel to sell the war and made him the head of a new federal Committee on Public Information. Creel was masterful in controlling the narrative of the conflict at home and spreading the view that if you weren’t actively down with the war effort, then you were disloyal. Years later, the administration of George H.W. Bush relied on PR firms to gin up public support for Operation Desert Storm. You might recall the fabricated story of Iraqi troops ripping babies from their incubators at a Kuwait hospital and leaving them to die—brought to you by a Kuwaiti government front group that hired companies such as Hill & Knowlton to make its case for America to go after Saddam.

A 1917 propaganda poster James Montgomery Flagg/Library of Congress

7. America betrayed her black soldiers. The documentary, whose commentators include several black historians, does a fabulous job of showing how the war was transformative for African American soldiers. Handed over to fight hellish trench battles under French command, they were treated, if not as equals, then at least as worthy comrades by their white French counterparts. The returning veterans were no longer content to accept the racist status quo in America; hundreds were lynched for resisting white supremacy. The “red summer” of 1919 was “a wave of racial violence unparalleled in United States history,” notes historian Chad Williams. “It was a horrific statement about how the aspirations of African Americans were going to be met with violent resistance from white people.” Thousands of blacks wrote to the White House begging for help, but they were given the cold shoulder. President Wilson, at once a global visionary and a small-minded bigot, refused to acknowledge the slaughter, and America remained as violently racist as it ever was. But the new perspective and sense of entitlement among black veterans planted seeds for a civil rights movement yet to come. America, of course, is still pretty darn racist.

The Harlem Hellfighters land in New York City. National Archives

8. The war was a turning point for women’s voting rights. The suffragists of the time, led by Alice Paul, were deft at turning Wilson’s war rhetoric against him: Even as young Americans died to “make the world safe for democracy,” they said, Wilson was stifling democracy at home. Anti-government protests had all but evaporated once America declared war, but Paul and others continued their daily vigil outside the White House gates. Even after Wilson had the women locked up, they continued to make him look bad by launching a hunger strike. Wilson eventually capitulated. Congress approved the 19th Amendment in 1919—the states ratified it in 1920. (Now it’s people of color who are stuck fighting—yet again—to protect their voting rights.)

9. Petty bipartisan squabbling ruined everything. After the immense effort of negotiating the terms of peace in Europe and selling the treaty to the American public, the president let his petty rivalry with Republican Henry Cabot Lodge doom the treaty’s ratification by the Senate. What if Wilson had let the pact proceed with Lodge’s inconsequential amendments attached? Or what if he’d brought the Republican leader along with him to Paris when he negotiated the treaty? What if America had ratified the treaty and stayed intimately involved in the postwar order? “Just what if?” asks historian Margaret MacMillan. Her implication is clear: World War II might never have happened.

A women’s peace parade in 1914, before America joined the war Library of Congress

10. Hillary Clinton actually would have been our second female president. Shortly after Congress nixed Wilson’s hard-fought treaty, the president suffered a massive stroke. His inner circle covered up the severity of his condition for a year and a half, while first lady Edith Wilson essentially served as a covert chief executive: “A handful of people in the White House,” says Wilson biographer A. Scott Berg, “engaged in the greatest conspiracy in American history.” Yet.

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This Epic PBS Documentary Shows How Creepily Little Has Changed Since World War I

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These Are the Books We’re Giving Our Friends This Year

Mother Jones

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Every year, Mother Jones receives hundreds of worthy books, but there are always a handful that truly stand out, the ones we end up foisting on friends and family. Well, friends and family, here you go, in no particular order. Also, be sure and check out the Best Cookbooks post by food and ag writer Tom Philpott, and stay tuned for photo book picks from photo editor Mark Murrmann and the year’s best music from critic Jon Young (on Sunday).

The Hopefuls, by Jennifer Close. Beth, the twentysomething protagonist of Jennifer Close’s wryly observed new novel, is an aspiring journalist loving life in New York City. But when her husband, Matt, gets a job in the Obama administration, Beth reluctantly agrees to follow him to DC. Thanks to Close’s eye for detail, The Hopefuls is like a still life of Washington in 2008. She masterfully captures both the contagious enthusiasm and wonky snobbery of DC’s rising political stars and their hangers-on. One character is forever telling anecdotes about senior Obama adviser David Axelrod, pretentiously referring to him as “Ax.” Another refers to Obama as “the senator”—a subtle humble brag that he’s worked for the president since way back when. Beth is miserable in this dreary social circle—until she and her husband click with a charismatic couple from Texas. And before she knows it, Beth herself is swept into this world of political strivers. Ultimately, The Hopefuls is as much about friendship as it is about politics—and about what happens when the two collide. —Kiera Butler, senior editor

My Father, the Pornographer, by Chris Offutt. This memoir is not a salacious romp, as the cover might suggest, but a slow-burning examination of Chris Offutt’s strained relationship with his late dad, a prolific author of smut and sci-fi. Offutt focuses less on the giant pile of kinky material he inherited than how it affected his childhood, his family, and his sense of self. His final plunge into his father’s most secret, and shameful, obsessions is worth the wait. —Dave Gilson, senior editor

Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, by Mary Roach. This latest book from the perpetually curious Mary Roach looks at the weird yet deadly serious science of keeping soldiers alive. In a globe-trotting tour of labs, training grounds, and a nuclear sub, Roach explores how fighting men and women sweat, sleep, and poop. “No one wins a medal” for this obscure, often gross, survival research, Roach writes. “And maybe someone should.” Like her previous books Gulp and Stiff, Grunt oozes bodily fluids, flippant footnotes, and weapons-grade wordplay. —D.G.

The Arab of the Future 2: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1984-1985, by Riad Sattouf & Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, by Marcelino Truong. Two of the most affecting memoirs of the year are graphic novels by French cartoonists who grew up astride two cultures. The Arab of the Future 2 picks up where its predecessor left off: Riad Sattouf, the adorable six-year-old son of a Syrian father and a French mother, is adjusting to his new life in his father’s village outside Homs in the mid-1980s. Sattouf’s bubbly illustrations belie the bleakness of his surroundings, and the violence and misogyny he witnesses.

Marcelino Truong’s beautifully illustrated tale follows him and his two siblings in their move to Saigon as the Vietnam War heats up. While the kids are enthralled by the war and oblivious to its horrors, their French-born mother breaks down as she sees just how quickly things are falling apart. The two authors’ artistic and narrative sensibilities differ, but their work is united by common themes: surreal childhoods amid geopolitical conflict (Sattouf and his playmates battle the Israeli Army; Truong and his cousins pretend to fight the Viet Cong) and idealistic fathers (Sattouf’s dad is a Qaddafi- and Saddam-admiring pan-Arabist, while Truong’s is an official in the US-backed South Vietnamese government) who are blind to the strife afflicting their countries—and families. Read together or separately, these comics pack a surprising punch. —D.G.

Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File, by John Edgar Wideman. In his first book in more than a decade, the acclaimed African American author and Brown University professor John Edgar Wideman explores the saga of Emmett Till’s father, who was court-martialed and hanged by the United States military well before the notorious lynching of his son by white racists in Mississippi. Via a Freedom of Information Act request, Wideman obtains records from Louis Till’s military trial and interrogates the file from every angle—filling in the gaps with his own vivid imagination and recollections. Part history, part memoir, part mystery, part fiction, this insightful book reveals as much about the author as it does about his subject. As Wideman put it to me in a recent interview, “To write a story about Louis Till puts me on trial.” —Michael Mechanic, senior editor

The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead. You’ve probably heard plenty about 2016’s National Book Award winner for fiction, but I’ll pile on anyway. Whitehead’s riveting slavery saga reimagines the underground railroad as a literal thing, but he doesn’t dwell too heavily on that plot device. The story follows a pair of escapees from a Georgia plantation as they move north along the railroad, pursued by a determined slave catcher. Among other things, they stumble across a bizarre eugenics experiment in South Carolina and a vile campaign of ethnic cleansing in North Carolina. Whitehead’s character-driven tale brings into visceral relief the horrors, the cruelty, the stark inhumanity of an economy based on captive black labor. And he reminds us, too, of the grim fate that awaited Southern whites brave enough to oppose the system. —M.M.

The Fortunes, by Peter Ho Davies. Given the extraordinary success of Chinese Americans today, it’s easy to forget how tough white society made things for their forebears who flocked here during the Gold Rush or who were imported as cheap labor for railroad companies—only to later be scapegoated and officially excluded by an act of Congress that would remain in force until 1943 (just in time for the interning of Japanese Americans). Davies’ outstanding new novel reminds us how things were (and still are, if the 2016 election is any indication). The experiences of Davies’ characters—a poor laundry boy hired on as a railroad magnate’s valet, an ambitious Chinese American starlet—highlight the tightrope walk of maintaining one’s culture while striving for acceptance in a resentful society. The Fortunes feels particularly timely now that we’ve handed the White House keys to a man who threatens to register and exclude Muslim immigrants, and to deport Americans (for really, what else can we honestly call them?) brought here without papers as toddlers. —M.M.

While the City Slept: A Love Lost to Violence and a Young Man’s Descent Into Madness, by Eli Sanders. One night in 2009, a disturbed young man named Isaiah Kalebu entered a Seattle home through an open window and raped and stabbed two women, killing one. He was sentenced to life in prison, but local journalist Eli Sanders, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the case, kept digging. While the City Slept, his compassionate examination of the lives that collided that night, relates how a bright but abused boy grew into a violent criminal and, as one psychiatrist put it, “became his illness.” The book plays double duty as tribute to those whose lives were upended and a meticulous indictment of the way we fail fellow citizens with serious mental disorders. —Madison Pauly, assistant editor

Pumpkinflowers, by Matti Friedman. This is a 21st-century war story, with all of the IEDs, propaganda videos, jihadi groups we’re accustomed to—but one told in the restrained, introspective style of the World War I writers Friedman turned to for inspiration. It’s partly an engrossing personal story, partly a history of a forgotten chapter in Middle East conflict, and one of the best-written books I’ve read in years. —Max J. Rosenthal, reporter

Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi. This ambitious debut novel sparked a bidding war and landed Gyasi a seven-figure contract just one year after she graduated from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Following seven generations across two continents, Gyasi manages to fit the many stages of slavery’s plunder into a relatively slim volume, to dazzling and often devastating effect. Though some of the storylines unravel a bit toward the novel’s end, the emphasis on global slavery’s ramifications in West Africa, told with rich and lively characters and language that hums, makes this well worth the commitment. —Maddie Oatman, story editor

Real Food, Fake Food: Why You Don’t Know What You’re Eating and What You Can Do About It, by Larry Olmsted. We’ve all been told to steer clear of artificial ingredients, but how much do you know about fake—meaning fraudulent—food? Turns out, it’s everywhere, including in your kitchen right now. Olive oil, parmesan cheese, fish fillets, red wine; it would seem the more scrumptious the victual, the more likely it is to be a sham. Olmsted gives us the lay of this seedy landscape with momentum and aplomb. He demystifies the process by which fake ingredients end up in your shopping cart, explains why some of these deceitful foods could be a real threat to your health, and sheds a light on the government policies and shortsighted commercialism that landed them there. —M.O.

Swing Time, by Zadie Smith. Award-winning author Zadie Smith’s fifth novel interweaves two narratives. One involves the unnamed narrator’s childhood friendship, wrought by a shared passion for dance. The other one revolves around the narrator’s adult travels to Africa in the employ of a pop star as she grapples with her own biracial identity. Penned in Smith’s inimitable, winding style, Swing Time looks unflinchingly at race, gender, parenting, love, and friendship. In places, I found the book an unnerving reminder of my own childhood, of parents who seemed invincible and maddeningly certain about the course of their offspring’s future. —Becca Andrews, assistant editor

March: Book Three, by Rep. John Lewis and Andrew Aydin; illustrated by Nate Powell. Police brutality, segregation, voting rights: Many of the big issues of the 1960s are alive and well today. The March graphic-history trilogy tells the story of the civil rights movement through the eyes of Rep. John Lewis, onetime chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee—a group at the center of the struggle. In poignant detail, the March books, totally 600 pages, put us at the heart of the battles over desegregation and black suffrage. We meet the movement’s leaders and witness the ugly local clashes leading up to the March on Washington. In the third installment, which earned a 2016 National Book Award, the beatings and defiance of “Bloody Sunday” stand in sharp contrast to Lewis’ pride on President Barack Obama’s inauguration day. The book, and the trilogy, offer lessons for modern strivers on how far we’ve come—while serving as a reminder of how far we have yet to go. —Edwin Rios, reporter

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Matthew Desmond. In a tome filled with heartbreak, Desmond, a sociologist who teaches at Harvard, embeds with eight families who are struggling to keep a roof over their heads in the segregated city of Milwaukee. Rich in history and bolstered by engrossing research, Evicted vividly captures with empathy the lives of those caught up in deep poverty as they reel from the consequences of losing their homes. In doing so, it elevates the importance of affordable housing in today’s society. “Housing is deeply implicated in causing poverty in America today,” Desmond told me in March, “and we have to do something.” —E.R.

A Rage for Order: The Middle East in turmoil, from Tahrir Square to ISIS, by Robert F. Worth. This is not your typical Middle East manuscript—no bird’s eye view of battlefield advancements or policy analysis on the region in collapse. Rather, Robert F. Worth, the longtime correspondent for the New York Times, managed to be on the ground seemingly everywhere that mattered during the zenith of the Arab Spring, and takes us a journey inside the lives of those whose hopes rode on the Arab Spring’s promise and whose lives changed—or ended—forever once the popular uprisings collapsed into insurgencies and civil war. It’s a beautifully written, moving account that brings humanity and heart to a region typically only considered in terms of conflict and chaos. —Bryan Schatz, reporter

God Save Sex Pistols, by Johan Kugelberg, with Jon Savage and Glenn Terry. Curator, author, and all-around underground know-it-all Johan Kugelberg released the end-all Sex Pistols ephemera collection earlier this year, and just in time; soon after, Joe Corre, son of punk impressarios Malcolm McClaren and Dame Vivien Westwood, celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Sex Pistol’s first single by burning more than $6 million worth of rare, original Sex Pistols and UK punk memorabilia. Though the original artifacts were lost to Corre’s piqued sense of anti-nostalgia, God Save Sex Pistols lovingly showcases photos, letters, flyers, records, posters, shirts—everything related to the band that once terrified parents and politicians. The book also serves as a more focused compendium to Kugelberg & Savages’ excellent 2012 book, Punk: An Aesthethic. —Mark Murrmann, photo editor

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life, by Ed Yong. Few writers know how to explain science clearly, and even fewer science writers compose genuinely gorgeous prose. Ed Yong is that unicorn. I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us is the most elegant guide I’ve seen to our still-primitive understanding of the microbiome—the gazillions of tiny critters living within us. Like Nietzsche peering into a microscope, Yong urges us to think beyond “good” and “bad” microbes: “These terms belong in children’s stories. They are ill-suited for describing the messy, fractious, contextual relationships of the natural world.” Context is everything. “The same microbes could be good in the gut, but dangerous in the blood,” Yong writes. One of the many functions of mother’s milk, one scientist informs him, may be to “provide babies with a starter’s pack of symbiotic viruses”—and that’s a good thing. “Every one of us is a zoo in our own right—a colony enclosed within a single body,” he writes. “A multi-species collection. An entire world.” —Tom Philpott, food and ag correspondent

Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? by Thomas Frank. His forward-looking autopsy may seem like a contradiction in terms, but Thomas Frank had the dirge of the Democratic Party cued up before primary season. Still, the shock of November 8 catapulted the virtuosic Listen, Liberal from insightful to downright prophetic. Frank meticulously charts the Democrats’ suicidal slide from a party of the factory floor to one of late-summer galas on Martha’s Vineyard. He hits on all the major missteps—the decline of middle-class wages, the bank bailouts, the trade deals, the technocracy (oh, the technocracy!)—all of which were later parceled out by the flabbergasted into grasping post-election think pieces. Frank’s book is lacerating and urgent, but also titillating, witty, and downright fun to read. It will no doubt give some establishment Dems the strong urge to throw the book into the ocean—indeed, their proximity to the coast and ability to conceivably do just that is part of the problem. This, for my money, is the best nonfiction of 2016. —Alex Sammon, editorial fellow

Critics, Monsters, Fanatics, and Other Literary Essays, by Cynthia Ozick. Narratives of decline seem to be particularly in, but no one can render this notion quite as beautifully as Ozick. At 88, she’s been around the literary block, and she can’t help but lament the state of the American traditions of reading and writing. “What’s impossible not to notice,” as she put it to me earlier this year, “is the diminution of American prose.” To read Ozick is enriching for her startling vocabulary alone, though her intellectual force is also something to behold. This essay collection stakes out the critical cultural importance of literary criticism, and does so with the linguistic expertise of a poet—peaking with a vivid disemboweling of the term “Kafkaesque,” for all its faux-literary worth. One thing, for Ozick, is certain: The road to cultural aridity is paved with 3.5-star Amazon reviews. —A.S.

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J.D. Vance. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J.D. Vance. If you want to understand how Donald Trump took over the GOP, and how he won so many Rust Belt counties that voted for Barack Obama, this is a good place to start. Vance uses the story of his childhood in a dying steel town to highlight what he sees as cultural shortcomings and political delusions among the region’s white working class. “We talk about the value of hard work,” he writes, “but tell ourselves that the reason we’re not working is some perceived unfairness: Obama shut down the coal mines, or all the jobs went to the Chinese.” There’s plenty to disagree with in Vance’s analysis—his insistence on blaming “welfare queens” for their financial problems, for example. Still, for all of us asking, “What just happened to my country?” Hillbilly Elegy provides some invaluable clues. —Jeremy Schulman, senior project manager, Climate Desk

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These Are the Books We’re Giving Our Friends This Year

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How Donald Trump Could Spark a Trade War With Europe

Mother Jones

For all his talk of renegotiating trade deals and cracking down on China, Donald Trump probably didn’t bargain for a trade war with the United States’ closest allies in Europe. But it’s not out of the question.

On Sunday, former French President Nicholas Sarkozy suggested imposing a carbon tax on US goods if Trump walks away from the Paris climate agreement. Sarkozy is currently competing for the presidential nomination of France’s center-right Republican party.

Under the Paris agreement, which went into effect earlier this month, countries pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to limit global warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels. During the campaign, Trump pledged to “cancel” the deal.

Sarkozy said that if Trump abandons the agreement, European countries should impose a 1-3 percent tax on American goods, according to the French newspaper Le Monde. The goal would be to protect European businesses that will be abiding by the global climate agreement from being undercut by US industries that won’t be subject to emissions limits.

It’s a striking position for Sarkozy, who sparked controversy earlier this year when he reportedly suggested that humans aren’t to blame for climate change.

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How Donald Trump Could Spark a Trade War With Europe

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But If You Don’t Learn Cursive, How Will You Read the Declaration of Independence in the Original?

Mother Jones

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If pen retailers and state legislators are to be believed, cursive handwriting is facing an existential threat. Since the advent of the Common Core standards—which emphasize keyboard skills over nicely shaped P’s and Q’s—it’s been common knowledge for years that teachers are abandoning cursive in droves, spending classroom time instead on new technology and typing.

But lately, fancy handwriting is having somewhat of a comeback. Louisiana’s governor signed a law in June requiring cursive instruction all the way through grade 12. Mississippi’s education department recently added script to its standards. And starting this school year, third graders in Alabama are required to write legibly in cursive under the newly passed Lexi’s Law. State Rep. Dickie Drake named the Alabama bill after his granddaughter, who told him when she was in first grade that she wanted to learn “real writing.”

The jury is still out on whether learning script, not just print, improves children’s cognition. (There’s little proof to date that it does.) Meanwhile, scientists are inching closer to handwriting’s true existential threat: a mind-reading machine that turns thoughts into written language via a “brain to text” interface. Here’s a primer on how the technology and culture of handwriting has evolved over time.

3200 B.C.

With stylus and clay tablets, ancient Mesopotamians create abstract symbols to represent syllables of their spoken language.

600s

Quill pens and parchment paper take hold in Europe. Drippy ink discourages pen lifting, hence cursive.

1440s

Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press forces scribes to pivot to teaching penmanship.

c. 1712

A popular copybook by George Bickham teaches farmers and merchants to write in a “round” hand. Gentlemen of the era employ an italic script, while accomplished women practice “ladies’ roman.” (In general, only fairly well-off white males are taught to write.)

1740

South Carolina’s Negro Act makes it a crime to teach slaves to write: “Suffering them to be employed in writing may be attended with great inconveniences.” Other colonies (and later, states) follow suit.

1776

John Hancock’s “John Hancock” appears prominently on the Declaration of Independence.

1848

Educator Platt Rogers Spencer urges pupils to contemplate nature’s curves while learning his ornate script, soon to be the hand of choice for merchants (including Ford and Coca-Cola) and schools in most states.

1865

Denmark’s Rasmus Malling-Hansen introduces the first commercial typewriter, the Hansen Writing Ball.

Malling-Hansen Society

1880

Alonzo Cross’ patented “stylographic pen” holds its own ink.

1888

Irish immigrant John Robert Gregg invents a shorthand method that will eventually be taught in countless US high schools.

1894

With handwriting under threat by typewriters, Austin Palmer introduces a smaller, faster writing style, taught via militaristic “drills.” His 1912 textbook on the Palmer Method sells more than 1 million copies. (Spen­cerian script is history.)

1904

French psychologist Alfred Binet popularizes handwriting analysis as a window into the writer’s traits. He goes on to invent the IQ test.

1913

Congress greenlights the use of handwriting as forensic evidence in court.

1935

STF/AFP/Getty

The man convicted (and later executed) based on ransom notes for kidnapping the Lindbergh baby laments, “Dat handwriting is the worstest thing against me.”

1944

László József Bíró markets the first ballpoint pen.

1958

The Bic ballpoint hits US stores, turning pens—once luxury goods—into a cheap commodity.

1961

The signature of US Treasurer Elizabeth Rudel Smith on paper currency invites public scorn: Her “t”s are “crossed belatedly, like a feminine afterthought,” snarks a Chicago Tribune writer. The New York Times seizes on the occasion to bemoan the “lost art of handwriting.”

c.1964

From a Louisiana poll test: “Write every other word in this first line and print every third word in same line (original type smaller and first line ended at comma) but capitalize the fifth word that you write.”

1977

A pen makers’ trade group launches National Handwriting Day even as PC makers including Apple and Commodore begin selling the computer keyboards that presage handwriting’s slow, inevitable decline.

1984

The National Council of Teachers of English condemns the practice of making naughty kids write lines, because it “causes students to dislike an activity necessary to their intellectual development and career success.”

Fox

1996

Researchers claim they’ve debunked the “conventional wisdom” that doctors have worse handwriting than other health professionals do.

2000

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles urges “handwriting-challenged” MDs to take a penmanship class, even as a key medical journal blasts handwritten case notes as “a dinosaur long overdue for extinction.”

2001

First-class mail usage hits its peak—only to plummet 40 percent by 2015.

2010

Common Core standards, soon to be adopted by most states, emphasize early typing skills but make no mention of cursive. Parents and educators flip out. “They’re not teaching cursive writing,” conservative TV host Glenn Beck thunders, “because the easiest way to make somebody a slave is dumb them down.”

2012

Scientists find that the brains of preliterate kids respond like a reader’s brain when they write their ABCs, but not when they type or trace the letters; another research team reports that college students who transcribed lectures on their laptops recalled more information than those who took notes by hand.

2014

Bic launches a “Fight For Your Write” campaign—”because writing makes us all awesome!”

2016
Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama mandate instruction of handwriting in public schools. Without it, supporters argue, kids wouldn’t be able to sign their names or read the Constitution. Over at Motherboard, Kaleigh Rogers counters that cursive needs to “join its former companion—the quill and inkwell—in the annals of history where it belongs.”

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But If You Don’t Learn Cursive, How Will You Read the Declaration of Independence in the Original?

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