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Power Trip

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Power Trip

Abortion, guns, healthcare, impeachment — what to know now

Remember Sliding Doors, the 1998 Gwyneth Paltrow movie in which the heroine’s fate heads in different directions depending on whether she does or doesn’t make it onto a subway train? The United States is looking at a similarly split fate. If Republicans hold the House of Representatives, they will claim a mandate for the party to expand Trump’s refashioning of American politics along nationalist, authoritarian lines. If Democrats pry the chamber from their hands, it would signal a rebuke to the excesses of the Trump era and provide them the tools to slow the unraveling of democratic norms.

But what…


Power Trip

Despite a lagging military and weak economy, they remain a modern superpower thanks to information warfare.

Russia lost the Cold War and now finds itself in a difficult position. The United States sits atop the global power structure, with China closing the gap. The United States’ annual military budget in 2017 was $610 billion, higher than the next seven countries combined. And many of those are U.S. allies. China’s is $228 billion and growing. Russia’s military budget in 2017 was $66.3 billion—less than Saudi Arabia’s. Its economy is a twelfth the size of the United States.

With the world’s largest nuclear arsenal and the ability to project military power in its region, Russia remains a player…


Power Trip

What’s the best way to stifle environmental opposition? A massive lawsuit.

When 77-year-old environmental activist Maggy Hurchalla stepped out of her deposition on the morning of July 16, 2018, she was surprised to find a sheriff’s deputy blocking her way to the parking lot. He held a thick stack of papers.

“Give me your car keys, or we’ll have to tow your car,” said the deputy, holding out his hand. He had a court order to seize her white 2004 Toyota Camry and two of the kayaks at her house. The car, with 207,000 miles on it and no working air conditioning, had sentimental value: It had once belonged to Hurchalla’s…


Power Trip

My round at Bedminster with the man himself was a jaw-dropping preview of things to come

“To find a man’s true character, play golf with him.” — P.G. Wodehouse

You can learn a lot about how a president governs by watching his golf game. Bill Clinton, for example, had a reputation for cheating. George W. Bush rushed along, blind to the bigger picture. Gerald Ford was endearingly hapless. And then there’s President Donald J. Trump.

I played with him just once, on August 20, 2010, and it was quite an experience. At the time, I worked at Golf Magazine and had been invited to join the editor in chief and a corporate executive at Trump National…


Power Trip

They’re web savvy, well funded, and fighting to win the abortion wars

Miss Marsharne Sullivan is standing in the lobby of the Pregnancy Care Center in downtown Jonesboro, Georgia, during a recent October afternoon, when a young woman in trendy overalls walks through the door. She announces that she’s here for a pregnancy test, and she doesn’t look thrilled to be needing one.

Sullivan hands her a clipboard and gestures toward a floral-print upholstered armchair. As the woman fills out the paperwork, Sullivan, the center’s 29-year-old assistant director, sits down next to her. “Did you come from work?” she asks, her voice calm and honey-dipped. “Have you been stressed out?”

The woman…


Power Trip

Online protections may stifle the game’s DIY culture

To be a consumer in the internet age often requires a choice between convenience and control. Look at your Spotify account: It offers a sprawling library of music at your disposal on any device, at any time — much easier than thumbing through a stack of CDs or clicking into a folder of downloaded MP3s. But as legions of Taylor Swift fans learned the hard way when she pulled her music from the platform in 2014 (only to return years later), Spotify’s offerings can shrink without warning. Control is in a record label’s hands, not yours.

Far away from greedy…


Power Trip

‘Powerlifting gave me the butt of my dreams. It also taught me about death.’

When you lift weights enough to look like you lift weights, people have all sorts of questions.

“How much you bench?” (As much as I can.) “What gym do you go to?” (The one that’s open when I go.) “What program are you on?” (Time, dragging us all toward the void as we claw the dirt.) Questions usually stop there.

Programs. Plans. Training. Goals. We’ve come up with a lot of concepts and structures designed to imbue our workouts with a sense of purpose and make the act of repeatedly lifting weights feel like less than a literal exercise in…


Power Trip

The case for paying our kids to play video games

I pay my kids to do chores. They vacuum the rug, scrub the toilets, take out the recycling. It’s amazing how quickly they’ll turn away from video games when there’s money involved.

I know plenty of people would object to my method. They’d tell me that it’s not the right way to raise my kids. After all, popular opinion says that extrinsic rewards promote the “bad” kind of motivation. But the truth is, it’s only mainstream pop psychology and revenue-driven human resource departments that still cling to the dichotomy between intrinsic and extrinsic incentives. …


Power Trip

Big tech, the government, #metoo—Medium magazine explores the major vectors of power all month long

Last week, I was sent an unpublished essay by a woman who was sexually assaulted over two long years by a yogi so famous that his photograph still sits at the altar of countless renowned yoga centers.

It was not the first time she’d come forward about her abuse, but now she wanted to tell her own story unmediated — to be heard in full, in her words, as opposed to through a journalist.

The essay is chilling. It’s a tough read. And we’ll be publishing it next week as part of our latest issue of Medium’s monthly digital magazine…


Power Trip

A thought experiment on how we measure risk when the fate of the world hangs in the balance

This is the first installment of “Privatizing the Apocalypse”, a four-part essay to be published throughout October.

Imagine a brilliant would-be killer arranges the following scenario:

A coin will be flipped. If it’s heads, someone dear to you will die. If it’s tails, nothing happens. The bad guy — who is very bad indeed — will eagerly cheer for heads. But whatever the outcome, he’ll accept the coin’s verdict.

Let’s add that if it’s heads, the death will be 100 percent certain. But it will also be instant, painless, and without warning. And if it’s tails, your loved one will…

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