Black Friday Shopping: Why People Act Like Lunatics

Published: mic (November 28, 2013)

As Americans plan on observing Black Friday, it’s worth taking a few minutes to observe the origin of this infamous “holiday.”

Although the term “Black Friday” was initially coined in reference to an economic panic caused by financiers Jay Fiske and Stephen Gould on September 24, 1869, it was first used to refer to the shopping day immediately following Thanksgiving in the November 1951 issue of Factory Management and Maintenance. Even then, however, the title didn’t take off in usage for another decade, when Philadelphians in 1961 began using it to refer to the post-Thanksgiving consumer frenzy that had gripped their city. The rest, as they say, is history. read more

Why Millennials Should Avoid Getting Sucked Into Black Friday

Published: mic (November 27, 2013)

According to a recent survey by the National Retail Federation, nearly one in four Americans are willing to shop on Thanksgiving. Indeed, of the 33 million shoppers expected to hit the streets tomorrow, the one anticipated to turn out in the largest numbers are those between the ages of 18 and 36 – i.e., millennials.

This is a disgrace.

When the legendary German sociologist Max Weber took it upon himself to describe the capitalist work ethic that dominated America’s socioeconomic life, he wrote of “the tremendous cosmos of the modern economic order,” one “now bound to the technical and economic conditions of machine production which today determine the lives of all the individuals who are born into this mechanism, not only those directly concerned with economic acquisition, with irresistible force.” read more

‘Family Guy’ Killed Brian, and Here’s Why That Was Brilliant

Published: mic (November 25, 2013)

For those of you who didn’t catch last night’s episode of Family Guy, stop reading now. Major spoilers follow.

For those of you who did watch, you were probably as surprised as I was to see the show kill off one of its main characters, Brian — the Griffin family’s pretentious but tormented intellectual talking dog. The internet is abuzz with reactions to his death, with most of the reactions trending negative. Mila Kunis (voice of Meg Griffin) and Seth Green (voice of Chris Griffin) have expressed their surprise, while the hashtag #BringBackBrian is going viral on Twitter. While these reactions are certainly understandable, a strong case can be made for leaving him dead. read more

JFK Conspiracy Theories: Should We Pay Attention?

Published: mic (November 22, 2013)

Is conspiracy theorizing a problem?

As America recognizes the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the conspiracy theories continue to abound. Among the most prevalent are:

– That he was murdered by the CIA as revenge for his post-Bay of Pigs personnel shake-up and/or his alleged plan to de-escalate the Vietnam War.

– That he was murdered by the mafia both because of his brother’s role in prosecuting major dons, and because of his failure to oust Fidel Castro, who interfered with their business interests in Cuba. read more

Meet Matt Rozsa: Bibliophile, History Buff & Pundit Of the Week

Published: mic (November 22, 2013)

Matthew Rozsa is a Pennsylvania patriot, a self-proclaimed history nerd, and our thoughtful politics pundit of the week.

As part of the “pundit of the week” column, we spotlight one PolicyMic-er to share personal experiences with our community, and pose one never-been-asked question to a staff member. Matt asks me to take on his question about what PolicyMic has learned from our writers, and offer advice to aspiring pundits.

About Matt: He is a born bibliophile and a proponent of pugnacious progressive punditry. Matt’s heroes include Abraham Lincoln, Adlai Stevenson, Mark Twain, and Voltaire. At one point in his life, he wrote plays (and even had one performed). read more

Why is This Speech So Famous?

Published: mic (November 19, 2013)

On Thursday, the Harrisburg Patriot-News printed a long overdue retraction. How long, you ask? Try about 150 years. Indeed, as the Harrisburg Patriot-News looked back to the days when it was still the Harrisburg Patriot & Union, it recalled how it had panned President Lincoln’s legendary Gettysburg Address, dismissing his words as “silly remarks” deserving “a veil of oblivion.”

Now, its editorial board proclaims: “In the fullness of time, we have come to a different conclusion. No mere utterance, then or now, could do justice to the soaring heights of language Mr. Lincoln reached that day.” read more

Ron Paul Shamefully Absent in History Book on 2012 Election

Published: mic (November 12, 2013)

Double Down, the new book on the 2012 presidential election by John Heilemann and Mark Helperin, falls short in one way that has been overlooked by the media. While it contains nifty insider tidbits about Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and other major players from that epic political battle, it overlooks one man whose influence may prove as lasting as the others — Texas Congressman Ron Paul.

Believe me, I’m not writing this as a diehard Paulbot (as one of my more controversial comic articles on this site can attest). While I agree with some of his views on social and foreign policy, his zealotry for the gospel of Austrian economics, regular distortion of American constitutional history, and disturbingly cultish following are all significant turnoffs in my book. Like him or not, however, the historian in me recognizes that he had an enormous – and most likely lasting – impact on the shape of American politics. To overlook this fact in a work meant to chronicle the 2012 election is downright negligent. read more

Anti-Semitic Bullying Almost Killed Me

Published: mic (November 11, 2013)

While I’m no stranger to covering stories involving discrimination, this one was especially personal to me.

In the aftermath of a New York Times story on a rash of anti-Semitic incidents in New York’s Pine Bush Central School District, Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced that he was directing the state police and Division of Human Rights to investigate any harassment, vandalism, or bullying that may have taken place. As summarized:

“The alleged physical attacks against Jewish students included a swastika drawn on a student’s face against her will, the severe beating of one with a hockey stick, and repeated slapping of another in the head, according to the lawsuit that Maazel filed in 2012. Maazel adds that the harassment didn’t stop, even after the lawsuit was filed. In addition, damage occurred on school property, such as drawn swastikas that remained ‘for weeks or months,’ Cuomo said in the statement.” read more