What Democrats and Republicans believe. Plus, the best of the web.

A comparison of the party platforms. A rant against organic food. A quiz to tell you what kind of Pepperidge Farm cookie you are. A look at today's Nerf guns (this ain't the Super Soaker of your youth). And more. Enjoy!


Politics and World Affairs

How The Party Platforms Differ / Michael Cooper / The New York Times

The beliefs and policy proposals of each party, in their own words, side by side.




Are Entitlements Corrupting Us? Yes, American Character Is At Stake / Nicholas Eberstadt / The Wall Street Journal

"A half-century of unfettered expansion of entitlement outlays has completely inverted the priorities, structure and functions of federal administration as these were understood by all previous administrations." (via Maurice)




Are Entitlements Corrupting Us? No, Entitlements Are Part Of The Civic Compact / William Galston / The Wall Street Journal

"Since the Ford administration, both political parties have usually agreed on the proposition that people who work full-time, year-round, should not live in poverty, and neither should their families." (via Maurice)




Why I Had No Choice But To Spurn Tony Blair / Desmond Tutu / The Guardian

The Archbishop pens a letter. Scheduled to sit on a panel about leadership with Blair, he withdraws because of Blair's conduct on Iraq, writing, "leadership and morality are indivisible."




If You Think Obama's First Term Was Bad, Imagine A Second / Ramesh Ponnuru / Bloomberg

Argues that, contrary to President Obama's stated belief, Republican obstruction will be even greater and lead to even more gridlock should he win another term.




Arts and Culture

The Serious Eats Guide To Sandwiches / Jed Portman / Serious Eats

An amazing glossary of sandwiches. From the U.S.: the Dagwood, the Elvis, the Mother-in-Law. Abroad: the Arepa, the Banh Mi, the Chip Butty. Yum.

U.S. Guide

International Guide




I Ate Every Variety Of Pepperidge Farms Cookie / Leon Neyfakh / Slate

A very fun read. Includes a witty slideshow, and even a quiz to determine what kind of cookie you are...which correctly determined that I was a Chessmen kind of guy.




The Organic Fable / Roger Cohen / The New York Times

"Organic has long since become ... the romantic back-to-nature obsession of an upper middle class able to afford it and oblivious, in their affluent narcissism... to the challenge of feeding a planet whose population will surge to 9 billion before the middle of the century."




Beyond The Matrix / Aleksandar Hemon / The New Yorker

The team behind "The Matrix" takes on "Cloud Atlas," one of my favorite novels, and one that seems unfilmable. The author's pleased, though, and so are the directors. Fingers crossed.





Business and Economics

How Nerf Became The World's Best Purveyor Of Big Guns For Kids / Jason Fagone / Wired

Forget the Super Soaker of your youth. Today's Nerf "blasters" (the company's term for guns) come with fully automatic firing, ammo drums, and more. Fascinating read.





Facebook Handled Their IPO Exactly Right / Mark Cuban / Blog Maverick

Cuban at his best, bluntly destroying the commentators who have criticized Facebook's CFO for botching its initial public offering.




The Economics Of Magazines And Diversity / Ta-Nehisi Coates / The Atlantic

Excellent context on why so few minorities make it onto the mastheads of major American publications.





The US Economy May Surprise Us All / Roger Altman / Financial Times

Five glimmers of hope — housing, energy, banking, competitiveness, and politics — that could bode well for our struggling economy.




Science and Technology

How Google Builds Its Maps — And What It Means For The Future Of Everything / Alexis Madrigal / The Atlantic

Great post: "The secret to this success isn't, as you might expect, Google's facility with data, but rather its willingness to commit humans to recombining and cleaning data about the physical world."




My Way / Christoph Niemann / The New York Times

Speaking of maps, these cartoons using maps to deliver jokes are witty and worth a quick scroll.




Lunch With The FT: Tim Berners-Lee / Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson / Financial Times

The low-key inventor of the World Wide Web takes the author to a food truck at MIT, then discusses why he kept the Web open, and why he won't say what he was typing during the Olympics opening ceremony.




How Children Succeed / Paul Tough / Slate

What several studies tell us about the relative importance of intelligence versus motivation in success. (via Bo)




Exactly How Screwed Is Paypal? (Hint: Very) / Sarah Lacy / PandoDaily

Its customer service is terrible, its main source of strength—its partnership with eBay—is becoming less relevant, and its founders are investing in new competitors.




* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Sign up to receive the Best of the Web in your inbox each week.




Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

Eight months into the pandemic, you'd think people would have the basics figured out. Sure, there was some confusion in the beginning as to whether or not masks were going to help, but that was months ago (which might as well be years in pandemic time). Plenty of studies have shown that face masks are an effective way to limit the spread of the virus and public health officials say universal masking is one of the keys to being able to safely resume some normal activities.

Normal activities include things like getting a coffee at Starbucks, but a viral video of a barista's encounter with an anti-masker shows why the U.S. will likely be living in the worst of both worlds—massive spread and economic woe—for the foreseeable future.

Alex Beckom works at a Starbucks in Santee, California and shared a video taken after a woman pulled down her "Trump 2020" mask to ask the 19-year-old barista a question, pulled it back up when the barista asked her to, then pulled it down again.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

Pete Buttigieg is having a moment. The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana keeps trending on social media for his incredibly eloquent explanations of issues—so much so that L.A. Times columnist Mary McNamara has dubbed him "Slayer Pete," who excels in "the five-minute, remote-feed evisceration." From his old-but-newly-viral explanation of late-term abortion to his calm calling out of Mike Pence's hypocrisy, Buttigieg is making a name for himself as Biden's "secret weapon" and "rhetorical assassin."

And now he's done it again, this time taking on the 'originalist' view of the Constitution.

Constitutional originalists contend that the original meaning of the words the drafters of the Constitution used and their intention at the time they wrote it are what should guide interpretation of the law. On the flip side are people who see the Constitution as a living document, meant to adapt to the times. These are certainly not the only two interpretive options and there is much debate to be had as to the merits of various approaches, but since SCOTUS nominee Amy Coney Barrett is an originalist, that view is currently part of the public discourse.

Buttigieg explained the problem with originalism in a segment on MSNBC, speaking from what McNamara jokingly called his "irritatingly immaculate kitchen." And in his usual fashion, he totally nails it. After explaining that he sees "a pathway to judicial activism cloaked in judicial humility" in Coney Barrett's descriptions of herself, he followed up with:

Keep Reading Show less

When you picture a ballerina, you may not picture someone who looks like Lizzy Howell. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't.

Howell is busting stereotypes and challenging people's ideas of what a dancer should look like just by being herself and doing her thing in her own body. The now-19-year-old from Delaware has been dancing since she was five and has performed in venues around the world, including Eurovision 2019. She has won scholarships and trains up to four hours a day to perfect her skills in various styles of dance.

Jordan Matter Photography shared a documentary video about Howell on Facebook—part of his "Unstoppable" series—that has inspired thousands. In it, we get to see Howell's impressive moves and clear love of the art form. Howell shares parts of her life story, including the loss of her mother in a car accident when she was little and how she was raised by a supportive aunt who helped her pursue her dance ambitions. She also explained how she's had to deal with hate comments and bullying from people who judge her based on her appearance.

"I don't think it's right for people to judge off of one thing," Howell says in the video. And she's right—her size is just one thing.

Keep Reading Show less