The path of social progress can take loopy turns. In the week since the R&B singer Frank Ocean announced the not-such-big-news that his first love was a man, influential figures in contemporary black music have portrayed the not-so-big event as a major test of character in the world of hip-hop and R&B.
In 2009, Ralph Nader published a fantasia titled Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!, in which he imagined a group of maverick billionaires banding together to defeat corporate power in America. Declaring themselves “the Meliorists,” these enlightened oligarchs force Walmart to unionize, elect Warren Beatty governor of California, establish single-payer health insurance, raise the minimum wage to a livable salary, and in general breathe life back into liberalism. In 2012, something like Nader’s utopian scenario has begun to take shape, but with a radically different ideology.
As part of a great-as-usual exchange between ESPN’s Bill Simmons and noted writer Malcolm Gladwell, the two sports-niks hypothesized about the NHL’s future. Simmons pondered why Canada, the unquestioned home of hockey, doesn’t have more NHL teams. In response he proposed a new, two conference league split evenly between Canadian and American teams. Gladwell replied with: I'm with you on the 24-team, Canadian-American conference idea, particularly since it turns the Stanley Cup finals into a border war every year.