Chris Beam

Ping-pong, Big Brother, and Intergalactic Germs: Today’s TNR Reader
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September 13, 2012

Editor’s Note: We’ll be running the article recommendations of our friends at TNR Reader each afternoon on The Plank, just in time to print out or save for your commute home. Enjoy! Why do the Chinese dominate at ping-pong? Chris Beam takes a stab at the country’s national pastime.GQ | 17 min (4,185 words) Germs and the galaxy: How NASA makes sure that we don’t accidentally colonize other planets.The Atlantic | 6 min (1,552 words) Poetry and sorcery: W.B. Yeats's career as a magician.Lapham's Quarterly | 14 min (3,464 words) Our surveillance keeps growing.

Coulter, Romneycare, And The GOP Crackup
February 02, 2012

With Mitt Romney re-establishing himself, after the unpleasantness in South Carolina, as the Republicans' de facto nominee, I thought it would be fun to offer some sort of prize--say, a bronze replica of the 1939 Molotov-Von Ribbentrop pact--to the first Fox News personality to endorse Romney's absurd claim that Romneycare (good) was entirely different from Obamacare (bad). I never dreamed that Ann Coulter would beat me to the punch. She's never been much good at playing with the other children.

What Do Economic And Social Liberalism Have In Common?
December 28, 2010

Chris Beam's interesting New York essay on libertarianism notes as an aside: Libertarianism is more internally consistent than the Democratic or Republican platforms. There’s no inherent reason that free-marketers and social conservatives should be allied under the Republican umbrella, except that it makes for a powerful coalition. Matthew Yglesias replies that, in practice, the division works reasonably well: We should consider the possibility that the market in political ideas works is that there’s a reason you typically find conservative and progressive political coalitions aligned in thi

A Sociologist Covers The News
June 07, 2010

Chris Beam's well-received piece imagining a news article written by political scientists has inspired Conor Friedersdorf to imagine a news article written by sociologists: NEW ORLEANS — Absent from the dialogue surrounding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which began on April 20, 2010 following an explosion that killed eleven workers, are the roles of class, race and especially gender.

Breitbart And Right Wing Martyrdom
March 16, 2010

A lot of research into public opinion has shown that many people lack well-formed views on public policy issues. Instead, they pick a side, and and as they learn about that side's agenda, their views gravitate toward those of their "team." Chris Beam's great profile of conservative media mogul Andrew Breitbart -- yes, another Breitbart profile -- doesn't reference this phenomenon, but it bears it out as a kind of case study.