The development of American masculinity as revealed by the Olympics “American Miracles on Ice”: From the manly art of body checking to the domestic science of sweeping.

“But no one could tell Samantha anything: She often acted, Ruby thought, as if she were the first person on the planet to give birth to a human child, as if mothering were so sacred and rarefied, anyone who wasn’t a mother couldn’t possibly understand how profoundly it changed you.” Kate Christensen, The Great Man.

Are you like me and didn’t know what “Come at me bro” meant?

A tall, stern looking woman came into the bar. The bartender went over to her. She did not want the menu but pointed to the wall. The bartender went to the wall, got a framed certificate, and presented it to her. By then she had pulled out from a bag a shirt with the health department logo and put it on over what she was already wearing. This was a health inspection. I could feel the tension from all my friends who worked in the bar and restaurant. The inspector was still there when I left a half hour later, but the bartender, who by then was a little more relaxed, told me everything was going fine. I won’t find out for sure until I go back. As I left I realized that I do want health inspections but wondered if anyone grows up wanting to be a health inspector.

Is there a difference between a chief and a chieftain?

The opera singer was born in Alabama. Her parents were from India. She described herself as a “brown person” and said that brown people had trouble getting operatic roles, especially in Europe.

“An obsessive love of our children is proof that we are unhappy about something else, Queen Marie of Rumania once said—and who am I, are we, to argue with Queen Marie of Rumania?” Adam Gopnick, Through the Children’s Gate: A Home in New York.

Robert Sullivan in Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants explains how a researcher trapped rats and then fed them Baltimore garbage that had come from various sources. The rats had preferences. They most liked scrambled eggs and macaroni and cheese. They least liked raw beets with cooked cauliflower high on the dislike-list. Does this make you think that rats are more like you than you realized? And would the rats have reacted differently if the cauliflower had been roasted to a golden nut-brown?

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