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Braves seek revenge vs. Dodgers after last season’s playoff flameout

Freddie Freeman isn’t afraid to admit he was rooting for a rematch with the Dodgers in the NLCS.
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I'm a Progressive Elected Official. Both Sides Are Messing Up the COVID Response | Opinion
We are not powerless. We can choose to do the things that have the most power to save lives.
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Shop the new bestselling Amazon Halo View Fitness Tracker
We love a good fitness tracker these days.
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Virgil Abloh forever changed the relationship between fashion and language
The late Virgil Abloh attending Paris Fashion Week in July of 2021 | Getty Images The multitalented fashion designer, who died at 41, will be remembered for his genius, his sense of irony, and his many challenges to fashion’s status quo. Certain terms crop up every now and then during particular moments in pop culture: “Curator” is one that’s recently been used to describe a host of creative tasks unrelated to its historical use; “creator” or “creative” as a noun is another that’s rapidly come to the fore. The use of such words can be empowering, giving names and shapes to concepts that might otherwise seem outside our grasp. These terms also come under critique; they can be limiting, keeping some people in while rejecting others. But in that liminal space is room to make paths, to draft new worlds, to — as Octavia Butler put it — write yourself in. Virgil Abloh, who died from a rare cardiac cancer November 28 at the age of 41, played with the contrary in language and art; his label, Off-White, is quite literally named after the space in between polarities. Like Black creative production has done for centuries on end, he bent language, played with it, funked it up, stretched it to its limits to see what words could do, to see what else was possible. He adamantly resisted boxes — unless, of course, he could write “SHOEBOX” on them in all caps and with quotations. The both/and of it all was a part of Abloh’s aim. Of this middle space, this sense of teetering the line, people cheered, others laughed at his wit, and others critiqued because they were unimpressed, disappointed or expected more from him. All in all, it got the people talking. Never one to follow all the rules, Abloh’s very presence — most definitively his appointment as the first Black designer to helm a branch of Louis Vuitton — pushed against the grammar of a fashion system that for so long has excluded Black people. He chose the word “maker” to describe his profession, which spanned a host of mediums, beginning with his education in engineering and architecture that later melted into his love of music and design. WireImage Abloh attending the 2021 Met Gala Apt to wear many hats, in the early 2000s, Abloh balanced his job at an architecture firm in Chicago with writing for a streetwear blog called The Brilliance, offering details about his recent purchases, opinions on design, and jaunts through major fashion and arts events (by this time, he had already begun his famed acquaintanceship with Kanye West). Calum Gordon, writing for Garage in 2018, connected Abloh’s blog posts to the manifestation of his earlier designs, from screen-printing the name of his first fashion brand “Pyrex 23” on Ralph Lauren Rugby shirts to his use of quotation marks on everything from Nike Air Jordans to a “Lewis Vuitton” jumpsuit and jacket he designed for his mid-career retrospective Figures of Speech in 2019 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Such aesthetic moves fell under the rubric of Abloh’s contentious “3 percent” approach — the idea, as he told Doreen St. Felix in 2019 for the New Yorker, that you can create a new design by changing the original by 3 percent. These practices are what also constantly brought him under fire. To him, spelling out words in Helvetica fonts and placing quotation marks around them on any object that grabbed his attention (or that he was hired to design) meant a sneaker was not just a sneaker; it was instead a “SNEAKER.” Speaking of his use of quotation marks, Abloh told Fast Companyin 2019, “It’s a device, it’s a contextualization of a word without getting into the design. It was always meant for that. I can be literal and figurative at the same time, or not.” In his history-making role as the creative director for Louis Vuitton Men’s, Abloh continued experimenting with terms and language, pushing the fashion house forward in compelling and increasingly sophisticated ways. For his fall/winter 2021 show, he drew on James Baldwin’s essay “Stranger in the Village,” first published in Harper’s in 1953 and then in his book Notes on a Native Son in 1955. In the piece, Baldwin discusses his experience being the only Black person in a small Swiss village, which then prompts contrasts and comparisons to his experiences as a Black man in the United States. In his opening sentence, Baldwin writes: “From all available evidence no black man had ever set foot in this tiny Swiss village before I came.” As written in the show notes for that season’s collection, Abloh drew on Baldwin’s experiences and critiques to investigate “the unconscious biases instilled in our collective psyche by the archaic norms of society.” For the video component of the show, Abloh bifurcated his runway, filming models and performers in a village in the Swiss mountains and on a set in Paris. Exploring archetypes like the writer, the artist, the drifter, among others, there were spoken word performances by Saul Williams and Kai Isaiah Jamal, and musical ones by Yasiin Bey. In a review by Vogue’s Sarah Mower, Abloh said of the collection, which also included a printed fabric that harkened back to his Ghanaian heritage but covered in the Louis Vuitton monogram, “There are a lot of stories mixing cultures. And from that, a new language will be created.” Peter White/Getty Images The Off-White Menswear fall/winter 2019-2020 show at Paris Fashion Week. Of all the archetypes mentioned, one is eager to wonder if Abloh saw himself, the maker, as a stranger of sorts. While in Baldwin’s essay no Black man had set foot in the Swiss village, none had stepped into the role that Abloh had assumed at Louis Vuitton. One can only imagine what it must have felt like to be one of a few in this world of luxury — a bastion of excess and exclusion — that for so long had not cared about Black people’s perspectives and experiences on fashion, despite how much they took from us. Near the end of the essay, Baldwin writes, “It remains for him to fashion out of his experience that which will give him sustenance, and a voice,” and perhaps Abloh saw something in this line, too. Certainly Baldwin was not referring to literal fashion, but one could connect the dots that lead to the core of what Abloh said was his responsibility as a maker “to a community that is trying to change the tide.” In an audio component that accompanied Abloh’s Figures of Speech, his collaborator and friend Tremaine Emory said of Abloh’s design sensibilities, “He took the means that he had, somewhat meager, and made something beautiful because he told a story … what we have to say is important and what we care about is important. That’s what streetwear is to me. It’s communication, language.” How to memorialize someone who had seemingly done it all and was also just getting started? Returning to the contrary nature of language: It’s difficult to find what to say during some of the most difficult periods, including grief. How to mourn a person with whom you had no personal relationship, never met? How to pay respects to someone whose artistic practices were simultaneously thorny and revered? How to memorialize someone who had seemingly done it all and was also just getting started? Maybe we do what he did: make, create. What Abloh displayed was what language does, what it provokes one to do. Throughout his short but industry-defining career, Abloh drafted his own lexicon that was often open to critique and always up for grabs (because he kind of wanted it that way). He is arguably a part of a cohort of Black designers that has inspired Black youth, specifically Gen Z and millennials, to describe themselves as creatives — a term that allows for some space to shapeshift, experiment, explore, get it wrong if you need to a couple of times. Within Abloh’s lexicon one can create their own T-shirt line and have it never just be a T-shirt. Instead, whole communities of belonging can be formed around one. Now that’s a “T-shirt.” Rikki Byrd is a writer, educator, and curator living in Chicago.
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Supreme Court Signals It’s Ready to Limit Abortion at Historic Arguments
The Supreme Court on Wednesday seemed ready to uphold a Mississippi law that bars abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, a move that would significantly curtail the right to abortion in the United States. The law in question directly contradicts what has been the central holding of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established…
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Speak a new language in as little as 3 weeks -- For a limited time, save up to 60% on a Babbel language subscription
This holiday season gives a truly unique gift: a new language. Because who hasn't wanted to learn another language? If you're planning a trip, checking off your bucket list or just ready to give the gift that keeps on giving, a Babbel subscription is a fantastic idea. Babbel is a bestselling — No. 1 actually — language app that provides quick results. It actually boasts a team of over 150 linguistic experts who create short yet effective lessons, enabling you to start conversing in a new language in just three weeks. For a limited time you can save up to 60% on the beloved language-learning app — with this deal you may as well gift yourself a subscription too. After all, you did take all those high school French classes.
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America Is Running Out of New Ideas
Sign up for Derek’s newsletter here.Let’s start with a simple mystery: What happened to original blockbuster movies?Throughout the 20th century, Hollywood produced a healthy number of entirely new stories. The top movies of 1998—including Titanic, Saving Private Ryan, and There’s Something About Mary—were almost all based on original screenplays. But since then, the U.S. box office has been steadily overrun by numbers and superheroes: Iron Man 2, Jurassic Park 3, Toy Story 4, etc. Of the 10 top-grossing movies of 2019, nine were sequels or live-action remakes of animated Disney movies, with the one exception, Joker, being a gritty prequel of another superhero franchise.Some people think this is awful. Some think it’s fine. I’m more interested in the fact that it’s happening. Americans used to go to movie theaters to watch new characters in new stories. Now they go to movie theaters to re-submerge themselves in familiar story lines.A few years ago, I saw this shift from exploration to incrementalism as something specific to pop culture. That changed last year when I read a 2020 paper on the decline of originality in science, with a decidedly non-Hollywood title: “Stagnation and Scientific Incentives.”“New ideas no longer fuel economic growth the way they once did,” the economists Jay Bhattacharya and Mikko Packalen wrote. In the past few decades, citations have become a key metric for evaluating scientific research, which has pushed scientists to write papers that they think will be popular with other scientists. This causes many of them to cluster around a small set of popular subjects rather than take a gamble that might open a new field of study. To illustrate this shift, the co-authors included a simple drawing in their paper: Jay Bhattacharya and Mikko Packalen I remember exactly what I thought when I first saw this picture: Hey, it looks like Hollywood! Driven by popularity metrics, scientists, like movie studios, are becoming more likely to tinker in proven domains than to pursue risky original projects that might bloom into new franchises. In science, as in cinema, incrementalism is edging out exploration.I couldn’t get the thought out of my head: Truly new ideas don’t fuel growth the way they once did. I saw its shadow everywhere.In science and technology: “Everywhere we look we find that ideas are getting harder to find,” a group of researchers from Stanford University and MIT concluded in a 2020 paper. Specifically, they concluded that research productivity has declined sharply in a number of industries, including software, agriculture, and medicine. That conclusion is widely shared. “Scientific knowledge has been in clear secular decline since the early 1970s,” one pair of Swiss researchers put it. The University of Chicago scholar James Evans has found that as the number of scientific researchers has grown, progress has slowed down in many fields, perhaps because scientists are so overwhelmed by the glut of information in their domain that they’re clustering around the same safe subjects and citing the same few papers.In entrepreneurship: Setting aside a spike during the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. business formation has been declining since the 1970s. One of America’s most important sources of entrepreneurship is immigration—because immigrants are far more likely than native-born Americans to start billion-dollar companies—but the U.S. is in a deep immigration depression at the moment.In institutions: Until about a century ago, the U.S. was building top-flight colleges and universities at a dazzling clip. But the U.S. hasn't built a new elite university in many decades. The federal government used to build new agencies to deal with novel problems, like the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after World War II, or the Advanced Research Project Agency (later known as DARPA) after Sputnik. Although the pandemic embarrassed the CDC, no major conversations are under way about creating new institutions to deal with the problem of 21st-century epidemics.[Derek Thompson: America needs a new scientific revolution]If you believe in the virtue of novelty, these are disturbing trends. Today’s scientists are less likely to publish truly new ideas, businesses are struggling to break into the market with new ideas, U.S. immigration policy is constricting the arrival of people most likely to found companies that promote new ideas, and we are less likely than previous generations to build institutions that advance new ideas.“What about all the cool new stuff?” you might ask. What about the recent breakthroughs in mRNA technology? What about CRISPR, and AI, and solar energy, and battery technology, and electric vehicles, and (sure) crypto, and (yes!) smartphones? These are sensational accomplishments—or, in many cases, the promises of future accomplishments—punctuating a long era of broad technological stagnation. Productivity growth and average income growth have declined significantly from their mid-20th-century levels.New ideas simply don’t fuel growth the way they once did. Imagine going to sleep in 1875 in New York City and waking up 25 years later. As you shut your eyes, there is no electric lighting. There are no cars on the road. Telephones are rare. There is no such thing as Coca-Cola, or sneakers, or basketball, or aspirin. The tallest building in Manhattan is a church.When you wake up in 1900, the city has been entirely remade with towering steel-skeleton buildings called “skyscrapers” and automobiles powered by new internal combustion engines. People are riding bicycles, with rubber-soled shoes, in modern shorts—all inventions of this period. The Sears catalog, the cardboard box, and aspirin are new arrivals. People recently enjoyed their first sip of Coca-Cola, their first Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, and their first bite of what we now call an American hamburger. When you fell asleep in 1875, there was no such thing as a Kodak camera, or recorded music, or an instrument for capturing motion pictures for film projection. By 1900, we have the first version of all three — the simple box camera, the phonograph, and the cinematograph. As you slept, Thomas Edison unveiled his famous light bulb and electrified parts of New York.It’s been a golden age for building institutions as well. Johns Hopkins University, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Chicago were all founded while you were zonked. In the 1870s, a few Ivy League colleges messed around with rugby and haphazardly invented the sport of football. In 1891, James Naismith, a YMCA instructor in Massachusetts, erected a peach basket in a gymnasium and invented the game of basketball. Four years later and just 10 miles away at another YMCA, the physical-ed teacher William Morgan braided the serve from tennis and elements of team passing from handball to create volleyball.How can you not be astonished and thrilled by the fact that all of this happened in 25 years? A quarter-century hibernation today would mean dozing off in 1996 and waking up in 2021. You would wonder at smartphones and the internet—marvelous inventions—but the physical world would feel much the same. Compare “cars have replaced horses as the best way to get across town” with “apps have replaced phones as the best way to order takeout.” If you believe in the virtue of novelty in the world of atoms, the golden years were a long time ago.This is not the first time that somebody has accused America’s invention engine of running on fumes in the 21st century. (Not even the idea that America is running out of ideas is a new idea.)In 2020, the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen published the instant-classic essay “It’s Time to Build,” which urged more innovation and entrepreneurship in public health, housing, education, and transportation. “The problem is inertia,” he wrote. “We need to want these things more than we want to prevent these things.” The same year, Ross Douthat published The Decadent Society, which levied similar criticisms of languishing U.S. creativity. These works are partly descendants of Tyler Cowen’s books The Great Stagnation, which diagnosed a slowdown in America’s innovative mojo, and The Complacent Class, which observed that Americans are self-segregating into comfortable echo chambers rather than taking risks and challenging themselves.So what, exactly, is happening?One explanation is that none of this is our fault. We picked all the low-hanging fruit, solved all the secrets, invented all the easy inventions, told all the good stories, and now it’s genuinely harder to keep up the pace of idea generation.In some ways this is probably true. Science and technology are much more complicated than they were in the 1890s, or in the 1790s. But the fear that nothing is left to discover has always been misguided. In the mid-1890s, the U.S. physicist Albert Michelson famously claimed that “most of the grand underlying principles have been firmly established” in the physical sciences. It wasn’t even 10 years later that Albert Einstein first revolutionized our understanding of space, time, mass, and energy.[Read: America’s toxic love affair with technology]I don’t think there is an overarching reason for our novelty stagnation. But let me offer three theories that might collectively explain a good chunk of this complex phenomenon.1. The big marketplace of attentionAlmost every smart cultural producer eventually learns the same lesson: Audiences don’t really like brand-new things. They prefer “familiar surprises”—sneakily novel twists on well-known fare.As the biggest movie studios got more strategic about thriving in a competitive global market, they doubled down on established franchises. As the music industry learned more about audience preferences, radio airplay became more repetitive and the Billboard Hot 100 became more static. Across entertainment, industries now naturally gravitate toward familiar surprises rather than zany originality.Science is also a transparent marketplace of attention, and it is following the same trajectory as film and music. Scientists know what journals are publishing and what the NIH is funding. The citation revolution pushes scientists to write papers that are likely to appeal to an audience of fellow researchers, who tend to prefer insights that jibe with their background. An analysis of research applications found that the NIH and the National Science Foundation have a demonstrated bias against papers that are highly original, preferring “low levels of novelty.” Scientists are thus encouraged to focus on subjects that they already understand to be popular, which means avoiding work that seems too radical to focus on projects that are just the right blend of familiar and surprising.The world is one big panopticon, and we don’t fully understand the implications of building a planetary marketplace of attention in which everything we do has an audience. Our work, our opinions, our milestones, and our subtle preferences are routinely submitted for public approval online. Maybe this makes culture more imitative. If you want to produce popular things, and you can easily tell from the internet what’s already popular, you’re simply more likely to produce more of that thing. This mimetic pressure is part of human nature. But perhaps the internet supercharges this trait and, in the process, makes people more hesitant about sharing ideas that aren’t already demonstrably pre-approved, which reduces novelty across many domains.2. The creep of gerontocracyWe are living in an age of creeping gerontocracy.Joe Biden is the oldest president in U.S. history. (If he had lost, Donald Trump would have been the oldest president in U.S. history.) The average age in Congress has hovered near its all-time high for the past decade. The Democrats’ House speaker and House majority leader are over 80. The Senate majority leader and minority leader are over 70. The fears and anxieties that dominate politics represent older Americans’ fears and fixations.Across business, science, and finance, power is similarly concentrated among the elderly. The average age of Nobel Prize laureates has steadily increased in almost every discipline, and so has the average age of NIH grant recipients. Among S&P 500 companies, the average age of incoming CEOs has increased by more than a decade in the past 20 years. As I’ve written, Americans 55 and older account for less than one-third of the population, but they own two-thirds of the nation’s wealth—the highest level of wealth concentration on record.Why does it matter that young people have a voice in tech and culture? Because young people are our most dependable source of new ideas in culture and science. They have the least to lose from cultural change and the most to gain from overthrowing legacies and incumbents.The philosopher Thomas Kuhn famously pointed out that paradigm shifts in science and technology have often come from young people who revolutionized various subjects precisely because they were not so deeply indoctrinated in their established theories. One of the revolutionaries he mentioned, the physicist Max Planck, quipped that science proceeds “one funeral at a time” because new scientific truths thrive only when their opponents die and a new generation grows up with them. When this theory was rather literally put to the test in the 2016 paper “Does Science Advance One Funeral at a Time?,” researchers found that, in fact, when elite scientists die, younger and lesser-known scientists are more likely to introduce novel ideas that push the field forward. Planck was right.Older people tend to have deeper expertise in any given domain, and their contributions are not to be cast aside. But innovation requires something orthogonal to expertise—a kind of useful naïveté—that is more common among the young. America’s creeping gerontocracy across politics, business, and science might be constricting the emergence of new paradigms.3. The rise of “vetocracy”In his “Build” essay, Andreessen blasted America’s inability to construct not only wondrous machines such as supersonic aircraft and flying cars but also sufficient houses, infrastructure, and megaprojects. In a compelling response, Ezra Klein wrote that “the institutions through which Americans build have become biased against action rather than toward it.” He continued: They’ve become, in political scientist Francis Fukuyama’s term, “vetocracies,” in which too many actors have veto rights over what gets built. That’s true in the federal government. It’s true in state and local governments. It’s even true in the private sector. Last year, fewer bills were passed than in any year on record. From 1917 to 1970, the Senate took 49 votes to break filibusters, or less than one per year. Since 2010, it has had an average of 80 such votes annually. The Senate was once known as the “cooling saucer of democracy,” where populist notions went to chill out a bit. Now it’s the icebox of democracy, where legislation dies of hypothermia.Vetocracy blocks new construction too, especially through endless environmental and safety-impact analyses that stop new projects before they can begin. “Since the 1970s, even as progressives have championed Big Government, they’ve worked tirelessly to put new checks on its power,” the historian Marc Dunkelman wrote. “The new protections [have] condemned new generations to live in civic infrastructure that is frozen in time.”The best objection to everything that I’ve written so far is that there exists a world where young people tend to be in control, where regulatory burdens aren’t blocking megaprojects, and where new ideas are generally cherished and even, perhaps, fetishized. It’s the internet—or, more specific, the software industry. If you are working on AI, or crypto, or virtual reality, you probably aren’t starved for new ideas. You very well may be drowning in them.Undeniably, the communications revolution has been the most significant fount of new ideas in the past half century. But the vitality of the tech industry in comparison with other industries points up that the U.S. innovation system has devolved from variety to specialization in the past 40 years or so. The U.S. used to produce a broad diversity of patents across many industries—chemistry, biology, and so forth—whereas patents today are more concentrated in a single industry, the software industry, than at any other time on record. We’ve funneled treasure and talent into the world of bits, as the world of flesh and steel has decayed around it. In the past 50 years, climate change has worsened, nuclear power has practically disappeared, construction productivity has slowed down, and the cost of developing new drugs has soared.[Read: How immigrants have contributed to American inventiveness]What I want is for the physical world to rediscover the virtue of experimentation. I want more new companies and entrepreneurs, which means I want more immigrants. I want more megaprojects in infrastructure and more moon-shot bets in energy and transportation. I want new ways of funding scientific research. I want non-grifters to find ways to innovate in higher education to bend the cost curve of college inflation. I want more prizes for audacious breakthroughs in cancer and Alzheimer’s and longevity research. As strange as this might sound, I want the federal government to get into the experimentation game too and found new agencies that identify and solve the problems that will be created by this riot of newness, as the CDC and DARPA once did. And, finally, I’d like Hollywood to rediscover a passion for cinematic blockbusters that don’t have numbers in the title.
Suspected serial perv who posed as rideshare driver indicted in LI sex assaults
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First Omicron case detected in U.S. addressed at White House press briefing
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Dayton gunman Connor Betts 'fantasized about mass shootings, serial killings and murder-suicide': FBI
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Dems renew push for gun-control bills after Oxford shooting
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Hunter Biden and his therapist joked about Joe Biden having dementia in 2019, new book reveals
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Bearaby weighted blankets, designed to improve sleep and comfort, come in different weights, colors and sizes
Snuggly, comforting weighted blankets are a trend that's here to stay. Their soothing effects and cozy aesthetic make them an in-demand product, especially during the holiday season. If you're in the market for one of these calming textiles, Bearaby's Cotton Collection of hand-knit, organic weighted blankets can help you relax and even sleep better. Weighted blankets have been shown to provide calming benefits, reducing anxiety. And sleeping under one of Bearaby's breathable, soft blankets can provide the ultimate self-care: rest!
Jamahal Hill: UFC on ESPN 31 camp 'physically, emotionally' tough after injuries, friends' deaths
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WTA announces immediate suspension of tournaments in China amid concern for Peng Shuai
The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) chairman and CEO Steve Simon has announced an immediate suspension of all WTA tournaments in China, including Hong Kong, saying it's based on a lack of transparency by Chinese officials over Peng Shuai's sitution
Accused teen gunman charged with murder as an adult in Michigan HS shooting
Accused Michigan High School shooter Ethan Crumbley was hit Wednesday with adult first-degree murder, terrorism and assault charges, prosecutors said.
4 injured after WWII bomb explodes in Munich
A World War II bomb exploded at a construction site next to a busy railway line in Munich on Wednesday, injuring four people, one of them seriously, German authorities said.
Porter Goss Fast Facts
Read CNN's Fast Facts about Porter Goss, former CIA director and Florida congressman.