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What matters now. A publication from Medium about politics, power, and culture.


For the first time in decades, it’s a worker’s market

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

There is an unspoken agreement between Williams Sonoma and its store-level employees. In exchange for wages well below the poverty line, workers get discounts on the company’s upscale kitchen supplies. My wife’s employment there a few years ago is a case study on wage inequality.

Shortly after we relocated to North Carolina in 2012, my wife worked as the assistant manager at a local Williams Sonoma. Like many of the company’s employees, she was there primarily for the discounts. The employee discounts were as much as 40% off. …

Academic medical centers in the U.S. didn’t do enough to combat Ebola in West Africa — that cost us when Covid hit.

Photo by Andrey Metelev on Unsplash

I only vaguely remember the frenzied activity as they rushed me from the ambulance to the isolation ward. But I vividly recall the nurse trying to start an intravenous line in my left arm. I watched as she missed three times, hitting a nerve on her last attempt.

Later I learned the nurse had worked in the intensive care unit for over 20 years. And she was part of the team that hours before my arrival ran a drill simulating care for a mock Ebola patient. By any measure, she was the most qualified person to start my IV. …


Modern democracy requires boundary setting between us and those running for office

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We have come to accept access as an integral part of modern life. Anyone, anywhere, can get in touch, at any time. We have allowed friends, family, colleagues, long-lost acquaintances, high-school nemeses, big-box brands, and humanless bots to access us on any and every platform. Call me old-fashioned at 43, but I for one am exhausted by the constant pinging and ringing. It’s a full-time job just to keep up with all of our messages. Enough. The promise of modern connectivity was the speed at which we could transmit messages. I am not sure when and how we all agreed…

Photo: Jamie Squire / Getty Images

While those with a transphobic obsession will bleat on about the supposed threat of trans women in women’s sports, the games will once again show how amazing women athletes are.

There was a lot of significant women’s Olympic news over the weekend. The US track and field qualifier produced a host of compelling storylines in its own right. From Alison Felix qualifying for her fifth straight games to the dominating 100m victory of Sha’Carri Richardson, 2021 is set to be another banner Olympic year for women.

Though pandemic politics will ultimately further the money-grubbing reputation of the International Olympic Committee…

It’s in America’s self-interest to vaccinate the world

Roger Starnes Sr. for Unsplash

The U.S. is adding even more vaccine doses to its already-impressive stockpile, with drugmaker Moderna announcing yesterday that it had sold another 200 million doses of its mRNA Covid vaccine to the U.S., bringing total American orders of the vaccine to a half billion doses. That’s good news for the U.S. — the doses could be used to vaccinate children in the fall, or could potentially be used as booster shots. But it also underscores how much more it — and other rich countries — could be doing to help vaccinate the rest of the world.

That may seem like…

Good news/bad news

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Today, three — yes, THREE — different drivers flipped me off because I had interfered with their right to 1)drive very fast on the wrong side of the road or 2)park their car in the active lane at a car wash or 3)fail to yield at an exit-only lane. I was thrilled. Finally, the pandemic is ending! Finally, the goodwill brought about by tragedy and disaster has worn off!

I’m not kidding. The warmest, most genuinely communal feelings I’ve ever been part of have all come amid disaster. Example #1: The Northridge Earthquake in Los Angeles, which I experienced because…

No one voted to let the former president off for slander to deny sexual assault allegations

Photo: History in HD on Unsplash

She probably wouldn’t remember me, but around the time Barack Hussein Obama made history, I was seeking employment from columnist E. Jean Carroll in the dismal state that was the media industry during its digital-fueled implosion in the midst of the Great Recession.

“Michael, you are stunningly funny!” she wrote in one of the more polite rejection emails I received in that era. “You KILLED with your application to AskEJean’s Dope Astrology. I received 496 submissions and you made it into the TOP 12!!” …

A human right, commodified and rendered zero-sum.

The pandemic housing bubble has multiple, complex causes among them:

West Virginia will reward its vaccinated residents with new guns, attempting to dissolve one pandemic by aiding another

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West Virginia has had an especially challenging time enduring the Covid-19 pandemic. Although the state’s positivity rate is currently at a low since spiking last October (4%), nearly 600 new cases are being reported daily, with more than 200 infected residents hospitalized. In the midst of America’s fight against the coronavirus, these numbers have stained the Mountain State with a poor man’s status. Add to that an oppressive statewide hospital bill—one that West Virginia intends to deflate with a syringe.

West Virginia’s vaccination rate (49%) ranks 45th among all states (Vermont ranks first with 82% of all eligible citizens vaccinated)…

The writer who coined ‘Xennial’ on the attempts to describe this unique cohort

Photo: Daniel Schludi/Unsplash

It’s strange, having a public but evidently forgettable claim to fame. Like being the Guinness Book of World Records holder for longest pinkie nail or voicing a one-hit wonder limited to local radio. Yet over the last month, my social media pinged repeatedly with people insisting I get credit for describing the cusp of us at the inflection point between Gen X and millennial, Xennials.

Four years ago, that’s all I’d wanted.

Truth be told, this batch of tweeters seemed mostly angry that someone had the temerity to describe our cohort of Xennials as “geriatric.” A story on Medium rocketed…


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