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Jim Verhulst - Editorial Writer
Here’s what to read from the left and the right | Column
Here’s some interesting commentary from the opposite poles of the political spectrum.
The real thing, a cow at a county fair this summer.
The real thing, a cow at a county fair this summer.
Published Aug. 7
Updated Aug. 7

We live in a partisan age, and our news habits can reinforce our own perspectives. Consider this an effort to broaden our collective outlook with essays beyond the range of our typical selections.

FROM THE LEFT

From “Is Lab Meat About to Hit Your Dinner Plate?” by Tom Philpott in Mother Jones.

The context, from the author: Splashy headlines suggest it might be. But experts say it’s still a “moonshot” away.

The excerpt: It turns out that mimicking the complex biological processes that generate what eaters know as meat is mind-bogglingly difficult, and massive technological hurdles to doing it at scale remain. Rebecca Vaught, founder of Van Heron Labs, a biotechnology company that works with medical and cell-meat companies to streamline their cell-growth processes, argues the engineering challenges associated with cultured meat “are nearly on par with the engineering challenges with taking a man to the moon.” The regulatory caveats aren’t trivial, either — these novel products have yet to pass muster with the US Food and Drug Administration and agriculture department, which in 2019 agreed to jointly oversee regulation of cell meat.

From “Give Everybody the Month of August Off,” by Miles Kampf-Lassin in Jacobin.

The context, from the author: In the United States, paid time off is hard to come by. But many Europeans leave work for the whole month of August to revel in the joys of summer. Everyone deserves August off.

The excerpt: You might think that taking such long vacations would result in far less productivity, but even pro-capitalist outlets like the Economist explain that the opposite is true: “Despite, or perhaps because of, their leisure-seeking ways, Europeans are the most productive workers in the world.” OECD data shows that many countries that require less work actually tend to produce more when it comes to per capita GDP. The consulting firm Sibson has found that employers that provide and encourage vacations generate more engagement and less turnover among their workforces. Taking vacations is also hugely beneficial to our wellbeing.

From “How to Help Poorer Oil Countries Survive Climate Change,” by Stephen Paduano in the New Republic.

The context, from the author: Gabon, Mozambique, and the Congo are charting a new course for a post-oil world.

The excerpt: Gabon, once a considerable oil exporter, has come upon a novel and sustainable way out of this oil-dependency trap. With 87,000 square miles of rain forest, which absorb 140 million tons of carbon per year, the West African nation has entered the burgeoning business of “carbon credits.” In effect, Gabon preserves its rain forests, calculates the amount of carbon these rain forests absorb, and sells the rights of its carbon absorption to foreign polluters—as many countries and companies are increasingly making carbon-offset pledges.

FROM THE RIGHT

From “China Will Use Video Games To Mold Minds,” by John Mac Ghlionn in the American Conservative.

The context, from the author: With more gamers than ever, the Chinese regime is leveraging another platform to its advantage.

The excerpt: Going forward, will the Chinese owners of gaming studios attempt to influence the content being created? Will the owners use video games to “sell” Chinese ideology? Changes are coming, but will they be subtle or substantial? The answers should be obvious. In fact, significant changes are already occurring. In the 1960s, Hungarian academic George Gerbner published a paper discussing what he called “cultivation theory.” In a nutshell, Gerbner suggested that there was a direct link between the media a user consumes and their perceptions of reality. Gerbner was, of course, correct.

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From “Masks And CRT Are Just The Start: It’s Time To Break The Public Schools (And Here’s How),” by Christopher Bedford in The Federalist.

The context, from the author: Defund the schools for real. Take the amount of money that every public school is spending, per pupil, and put it under the direct control of parents.

The excerpt: Our schools — from preschool all the way to graduate programs — have gone seriously astray in a way that no single law can ever hope to fix. Masks, “critical race theory,” or whatever you want to call it, are basically just visible sores on our schools. They’re painful symptoms of a much deeper sickness.

The truth is, it doesn’t matter if your children are attending a Christian school, a non-denominational one, or a public school. All of them are attending a religious school, it’s just a matter of what religion is being taught — and our public schools are teaching an evil one.

From “Rashida Tlaib Says Certain ‘People’ Are Exploiting America,” by David Harsanyi in the National Review.

The context, from the author: This isn’t some subtle messaging aimed at other leftists or Hamas apologists; these are some of the oldest anti-Semitic tropes on the books. The claim that Jews are “exploiting” “regular” citizens is the basis for nearly every major anti-Semitic tract of the modern age.

The excerpt: Tlaib knows exactly what she’s saying. She also knows that no one in her party — not the cowardly Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelsoi or anyone else — is likely to call her out on any of it.