Justin YAMPOLSKY

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Pope Francis’s Challenge To Global Capitalism

A week after Pope Francis released his first papal exhortation, the innocuously named “Joy of the Gospel,” it is still causing ruptures. Rush Limbaugh dismissed it as “pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the Pope.” At least one Roman Catholic group demanded that Limbaugh apologize and retract …

Hannah Arendt’s Failures of Imagination

Hannah Arendt is back in the news, in anticipation of the release of the book “Hannah Arendt: The Last Interview and Other Conversations,” on Tuesday, and of Claude Lanzmann’s film “The Last of the Unjust,” which played at the New York Film Festival and opens on February 7th. The new book includes …

Fiction in the Ramapos

“Out of the Furnace,” a new movie starring Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Willem Dafoe, Forest Whitaker, and Woody Harrelson, opens in theatres this weekend. It’s got the feel of an Appalachian “Mystic River,” set primarily in Pennsylvania steel country, but with an unlikely subplot in the Ramapo …

Who Belongs to the Lower Middle Class, and Why Does It Matter?

It’s been a good week, rhetorically, for those who care about reducing inequality. Last Tuesday, in his first papal exhortation, Pope Francis bewailed the unequal distribution of global wealth, using language that sounded, at times, quite Marxist: “But until exclusion and inequality in society and …

Political Scene: The Politics of Income Inequality

The rhetoric used to discuss income inequality, the Affordable Care Act, and the nascent push to raise the minimum wage may possibly be standing in the way of reducing America’s wealth gap. For one thing, we talk about them as though they are three distinct issues. “The biggest thing which Obama …

Three Good Signs and Three Worries in the Jobs Report

The Labor Department announced on Friday morning that the economy created 203,000 jobs in November and that the unemployment rate fell to seven per cent, the lowest level since November, 2008. It was another pretty strong jobs report, but let’s not get carried away. Here are six takeaways, three …

To Sleep, Perchance (Very Good Chance) To Wake

I had trouble sleeping the other night, so I figured I might as well put my insomnia to good use by reading Ian Parker’s article “The Big Sleep,” to see if it could help with my memoir “Too Little Sleep.” I’m pretty sure I got a lot out of Parker’s account, though unfortunately I can remember very …

Letter from the Archive: Joan Didion

This past week, Joan Didion, who is known for her incisive, intimate pieces on loss and transition, as well as for her profiles and cultural criticism, celebrated her seventy-ninth birthday. Since 1988, she has contributed seven pieces to <i>The New Yorker</i> (for two years, until 1990, she wrote the …

Who Should Control Our Water?

During the Industrial Revolution, when people moved to cities en masse, household and human waste began to mix in Berlin’s gutters. A stench rose from the street. Fouled water lead to deadly outbreaks of cholera and other water-borne diseases. By 1852, the Prussian government had to do something: …

Against “Guilty Pleasure”

Earlier this year, a New York <i>Times Magazine</i> profile of the showrunner Shonda Rhimes (“Scandal,” “Grey’s Anatomy”) included a line that made me think she was even more than the talented and savvy TV writer she’s already shown herself to be: “Rhimes observes that people, even the ones who like …

How Culture Influences Our Financial Decisions

For many Americans, Friday, December 13th, 2013, will be a day of moderate trauma. The same was true of Friday, September 13th, and will be true again of Friday, June 13th, 2014. These people, known as <i>friggatriskaidekaphobics,</i> are so afraid of Friday the Thirteenth that some suffer panic attacks …

Has America Become Less Poor?

In 2006, John Cassidy wrote in the magazine about the difficulties of measuring poverty. For years, the U.S. government didn’t try to calculate how many people were poor, Cassidy wrote. Then, in the nineteen-sixties, a government statistician named Mollie Orshansky came up with a way to determine …

Snoozers Are, in Fact, Losers

On a typical workday morning, if you’re like most people, you don’t wake up naturally. Instead, the ring of an alarm clock probably jerks you out of sleep. Depending on when you went to bed, what day of the week it is, and how deeply you were sleeping, you may not understand where you are, or why …

A Dangerous Moment in Kiev

Traffic may be the true last refuge of governments in the hands of scoundrels. In July, Egypt’s interior minister attempted to justify the government’s killing of dozens of anti-coup demonstrators by citing the obstruction of traffic on bridges (“We had to stop them”). This summer, when the Turkish …

Alice Munro’s Living-Room Acceptance

Winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature usually travel to Stockholm to receive the award. They are announced by trumpet and give an acceptance speech in a grand banquet hall filled with tuxedos, flowers, crystal, and gold. This year’s winner, Alice Munro, is eighty-two years old, and her health …

China’s Youth: Do They Dare to Care about Politics?

At a teeming intersection of Shenzhen’s Dongmen shopping street, between KFC and McDonald’s, Liu Zhongqiu, twenty-one, sits on a white fold-up chair …

“The Thinking Molecules of Titan”: A Story by Roger Ebert

<i>In 2011, Roger Ebert wrote, several times and with rapt enthusiasm, about Terrence Malick’s film “The Tree of Life.” Here’s how one review begins:</i><p><i>Terrence Malick’s new film is a form of prayer. It created within me a spiritual awareness, and made me more alert to the awe of existence. I believe it</i> …

Death of a Revolutionary

Shulamith Firestone helped to create a new society. But she couldn’t live in it.<p>When Shulamith Firestone’s body was found late last August, in her studio apartment on the fifth floor of a tenement walkup on East Tenth Street, she had been dead for some days. She was sixty-seven, and she had battled …

Midnight in Dostoevsky

We were two sombre boys hunched in our coats, grim winter settling in. The college was at the edge of a small town way upstate, barely a town, maybe a hamlet, we said, or just a whistle stop, and we took walks all the time, getting out, going nowhere, low skies and bare trees, hardly a soul to be …

Everything Is Rigged: The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever

The Illuminati were amateurs. The second huge financial scandal of the year reveals the real international conspiracy: There's no price the big banks …