Friday links! Forced perspective edition


I think it’s fair to say I went a little craze-balls regarding the NSA thing. I maintain that’s because secretly collecting millions of Americans’ phone records is a historically craze-balls thing for the US government to do, but there are good arguments on the other side. Probably, the NSA doesn’t care about anything besides preventing the President from coming down into their spy basement and personally blaming them for another terrorist attack, and most of our metadata is collected by the waste basket. Almost certainly, the hypothetical Fourth Amendment value of our Facebook friends is not so ethically compelling as an explosion-free Boston marathon. Today is Friday, and the week recedes behind us in forced perspective. Won’t you take a step back with me?

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12 idiotic statements about Iowa by Stephen G. Bloom

Last week, University of Iowa professor and former New Jersey resident Stephen G. Bloom published this essay in The Atlantic, in which he argues that Iowa maybe should not be the political bellwether it is. At least, that’s what he promises to argue. The impending Republican caucuses are the occasion for Bloom’s remarks, but the execution is a series of anecdotes indicting his adopted state and the grim hicks who populate it. An example:

Rural America has always been homogenous, as white as the milk the millions of Holstein cows here produce. Many towns are so insular that farmers from another county are strangers.

Can you imagine living in a town so insular that the people who don’t live in the town are strangers to you? It’s inconceivable, but that’s the kind of uniquely absurd place Iowa is. I should know. Like Bloom, I lived in Iowa for about 20 years, starting around age zero. Those who know me know that I am no booster, and Iowa remains the only place I have ever lived that I didn’t like. I like honesty and clear thinking, though, which is where Mr. Bloom and I diverge. His observations about the state where I grew up paint a startling picture of resentment, provincialism and proud ignorance. Unfortunately, it is a portrait of Stephen G. Bloom. It’s useless as a landscape, since Bloom’s rendering of Iowa oscillates between nonsensical and untrue. First of many after the jump.

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