Tag Archives: Slate

The Census shows that vast stretches of America are Shrinking. Almost all of them voted for Donald Trump | slate

Ninety percent of counties that lost population in the last decade backed the ex-president.

By Jordan Weissmann, Aug 14, 20215:40 AM

A barn for Trump. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Donald Trump and the Republican Party he shaped represent the fading face of the United States, winning over an older, more rural, and overwhelmingly caucasian bloc of voters that reflected the country’s past more than its more urban and diverse future.

The latest data from the 2020 Census, which the government released on Thursday to kick off the congressional redistricting process, illustrate that fact in incredibly stark terms.

It shows that the white population fell for the first time in history during the last decade, and that Americans continued to cluster in growing cities and suburbs, whether in Texas, Georgia, Virginia, or New York.

Source: The Census shows that vast stretches of America are Shrinking. Almost all of them voted for Donald Trump.

Billions of dollars aren’t enough to fix America’s train problem | SLATE

By Henry Grabar, Aug 09, 202111:34 AM

Amtrak celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2021. Olivier Douliery/Getty Images

As part of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that is edging ever closer to passage, Congress is set to give Amtrak $30 billion for the Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston, part of a $66 billion grant for the network nationwide.

To some, this may seem like a good step toward realizing a future of American train travel that’s more in line with the high-speed, low(er)-cost systems in countries like Japan and France. Alon Levy, a mathematician who works on the Transit Costs Project at New York University, estimates that somewhere between $15 billion and $20 billion would be needed to implement a high-speed, fairly affordable, and frequently running train system between Boston and Washington.

But Amtrak seems to have less ambitious plans for the “greatest investment in Amtrak’s 50-year history.” Rather than using the funds to build an efficient, high-speed rail in the Northeast, Amtrak has allotted $30 billion for one single project: Gateway. Gateway would restore the aging tracks that bring commuters from New Jersey to New York City, rebuild an existing tunnel, construct a second tunnel, and expand Penn Station.

Source: Billions of dollars aren’t enough to fix America’s train problem.

Amtrak funding in the infrastructure bill: A plan to fix up America’s passenger rail

What the beleaguered operator should do with $66 billion from Congress.

By Henry Grabar, July 30, 202112:31 PM

What would Amtrak Joséph do with $66 billion? Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Amtrak Joe delivers.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill that seems likely to pass the Senate contains $66 billion for intercity rail, which is pretty damn close to the $80 billion President Joe Biden asked for in April. The White House calls it “the largest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak 50 years ago.”

The deal includes $22 billion in “grants” for Amtrak, another $24 billion specifically for the Northeast Corridor, and another $20 billion for intercity service, safety grants, and grade crossing improvements. (What’s the difference between the first chunk of grants and the last? The White House hasn’t detailed that yet.)

That will mean better Amtrak service on existing high-traffic routes (relatively speaking) like Portland–Seattle, Richmond–D.C., and Chicago–Milwaukee. It might mean new service in fast-growing regions, like between Charlotte and Atlanta or Atlanta and Nashville.

Source: Amtrak funding in the infrastructure bill: A plan to fix up America’s passenger rail

Roadrunner movie: The Anthony Bourdain documentary is no hagiography | SLATE

Roadrunner is a brilliant, sometimes troubling documentary about a brilliant, sometimes troubling man.

Footage of Anthony Bourdain from Roadrunner. CNN/Focus Features

By Dana Stevens, July 13, 202111:03 AM

Within seconds of the opening of Roadrunner, a new documentary from the Oscar-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom,Won’t You Be My Neighbor?), the writer, chef, and TV personality Anthony Bourdain is already talking about death.

Sitting at a table with an unseen companion, he says that he has no investment in what happens to his remains after he is gone, except insofar as it might provide “entertainment value” for his body to be, say, fed into a woodchipper and sprayed around the London department store Harrods at rush hour.

Given that Bourdain died by suicide in 2018 during the filming of an episode of his CNN show Parts Unknown in Alsace, France, this mordant joke takes on extra-gruesome meaning—and as a montage later on in the movie shows, it was far from the only time he cracked wise on camera about his own death.

In its mix of playful irreverence and punk-rock attitude, the put-me-in-a-woodchipper-at-Harrods line is pure Bourdain, an example of the way he could charm, seduce, shock, and amuse all at the same time.

Source: https://slate.com/culture/2021/07/roadrunner-anthony-bourdain-documentary-movie-asia-argento.html

How paper punch cards enabled the rise of computing, and shaped humanity | SLATE

An 80-by-10 grid punched into a paper card helped drive us out of the Industrial Age and into the Data Age.

By Caleb Scharf, June 23, 202112:53 PM

From The Ascent of Information: Books, Bits, Genes, Machines, and Life’s Unending Algorithm by Caleb Scharf published on June 15, 2021 by Riverhead, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2021 Caleb Scharf.

Conducting aeronautical research with an IBM 704 in 1957. NASA

In 1889, a mechanical engineer named Herman Hollerith persuaded the United States government to use machine‑readable paper punch cards and electric counting machines to conduct the national Census, saving the U.S. Treasury about $5 million in the costs of handling data for 62 million people.

By 1891 Hollerith was designing machines to be used in censuses in Canada, Norway, and Austria, as well as by railroads to tabulate fare information.

As a result, Hollerith’s fledgling company quickly became part of the growing data landscape, and eventually, in 1924, it became the International Business Machines Corporation, or IBM.

Source: How paper punch cards enabled the rise of computing, and shaped humanity.

Hemingway: Ken Burns and Lynn Novick interview on how #MeToo changed their PBS docuseries.

The co-directors explain how the literary icon embodied both toxic masculinity and gender fluidity.

Ernest Hemingway. Photo illustration by Slate. Photo courtesy of Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. 

By Abigail Covington, April 07, 202110:00 PM

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick started working on their new docuseries about Ernest Hemingway almost seven years ago, when conversations about toxic masculinity and cancel culture were still at least a presidency away. But you’d be forgiven for thinking the series was a pandemic project, because Hemingway, and the conversations that take place within it, feel utterly of the moment.

From gender fluidity and mental illness to sexual misconduct and racism, today’s most charged topics are discussed at length in the series because they were part and parcel of the iconic, mercurial writer, whose own ex-wife Hadley Richardson once described as having so many sides to him that he defied geometry. Throughout the three-part, six-hour series, Hemingway is portrayed as both violent and tender, self-aware and self-aggrandizing, with an equal, outsize capacity for both joy and depthless depression.

It’s no wonder then why the writer Michael Katakis says at the start of the series that Hemingway the man is so much more interesting than the whiskey-doused, hypermasculine myth that obscures him. In separate interviews, Burns and Novick walked us through how making the film transformed the way they understand Hemingway—the man, the myth, and his literary legacy. Below, we’ve spliced together the two conversations, which have been edited and condensed for clarity.

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.  Mike Smith/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Source: Hemingway: Ken Burns and Lynn Novick interview on how #MeToo changed their PBS docuseries.