For the New Year, I'm starting something new, which is actually something quite old in the scheme of things digital. "Digest" is a weblog — which isn't terribly novel for me (I maintain several, and have closed even more), but it's a weblog in a sense closer to the original coinage: an intermittently updated digest of links to interesting things found online. Of course, I do something similar on my Twitter account, but this is intended to be more thoughtful, less moment-to-moment, and better oriented toward depth and nuance.
So much for introduction…
As someone who spent much of his early adulthood waiting tables and tending bars (and, for what it's worth, actually liked working for tips) I've been interested in how the no-tipping policies adopted in some high-profile restaurants would turn out. Not well, according to this Grub Street article examining why some trailblazers are going back to tips. A lot of it boils down to competition, which suggests that the best way to do away with the convention would be legislation to bring the minimum for tipped wages to parity with the non-tipped minimum wage.
While it's framed as a story about the increasing cost of raising children, the more revealing details in this piece from the NYT's Upshot are those that dig into parents' motivation for investing relatively more in education and extra-curricular activities than their own parents did. "As the gap between rich and poor increases, the cost of screwing up increases," says one sociologist. "Intensive parenting is a way for especially affluent white mothers to make sure their children are maintaining their advantaged position in society," adds another. More personal involvement in kids' lives is likely beneficial, but some of that money and effort might perhaps be better put toward fostering more sustainably egalitarian communities.
This investigative report by the New York Times suggests that banks and credit card companies could do a great deal to stop mass shootings by simply alerting authorities when their customers go shopping for lots of guns and ammunition over a short span of time — as the Pulse, Aurora and Las Vegas shooters all did.
"Without women," a historian tells Glenna Gordon, "they could not have done so much violence." The "they" in this case are American white supremacists, whose explicitly feminine counterparts Gordon explores in this piece for the NYRB. Of particular interest is the way in which overt identification with racist politics fluctuates defending on each group's ascendency:
Parsing the rhetoric of racial separatism, anti-Semitism, anti-feminism, and anti-government activism reveals shared touchstones: to fight for “white rights” is always a fight against minorities. To fight against the government is to reject laws protecting civil rights. To fight for a “traditional lifestyle” is to fight for a return to a time when those laws did not exist. To fight for “land rights” is to insist that indigenous peoples’ claims to the land are not valid.
Last but not least, Cheryl Morgan at Notches parses some of the literary and archaeological evidence for ancient Sumerian traditions of, at the very least, transvestism, and possibly something more closely approximating modern trans life.
That's all for this update. If this seems like the sort of thing you'd care to see on a rolling basis, I've set up an RSS feed here. I'm still tweaking the implementation, so check back later if it doesn't work for you right now.