No actual historians are on staff—and that's led to some serious inaccuracies.
This Monday, the Smithsonian was scheduled to wrap up the biggest crowdfunding campaign ever undertaken by an American museum. The subject of the exhibition in question? Yoga. At the time of this writing, the Freer Sackler Galleries have decided to extend their month-long campaign another week, and have already surpassed their $125,000 goal by over $4,000. Clearly, this is one show the population of D.C. will pay to see. As a spokeswoman said, “There are between 20 and 40 million yoga practitioners in the United States, and an ethos of community that already surrounds yoga.
Turns out everyone was wrong, and no one bothered to ask.
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! The end of odor: Just how bad did Americans smell before Edna Murphey brought us antiperspirant? Smithsonian Magazine | 8 min (1,985 words) Could Germany’s circumcision ban be the worst attack on Jewish life since the Holocaust? Dissent | 9 min (2,233 words) Mutual Assured Ignorance: Can the Pentagon and the State Department ever work together effectively?
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! The 1950s are long gone, but the appeal of the drive-in movie theater is perennial. Smithsonian Magazine | 3 min (799 words) Watergate happened forty years ago, but the battle over Nixon’s legacy has been ongoing.
On a warm Saturday in early July, an employee at the Maryland Historical Society placed a call to the police. He had noticed two visitors behaving strangely—a young, tall, handsome man with high cheekbones and full lips and a much older, heavier man, with dark, lank hair and a patchy, graying beard. The older man had called in advance to give the librarians a list of boxes of documents he wanted to see, saying that he was researching a book. At some point during their visit, the employee saw the younger man slip a document into a folder.
NPR today had what strikes me as a wildly slanted report on the controversial National Portrait Gallery exhibit 'Hide/Seek,' which honors the contribution of gay and lesbian artists. The exhibit created controversy because, under political pressure from conservatives, it removed a video depicting ants crawling on a crucifix. The unchallenged point of view conveyed by the report was that opponents of the exhibit claimed they were offended on religious grounds but actually were anti-gay bigots: The show had been open for a month, and hadn't received a single complaint.
Over at Foreign Policy, Joshua Keating writes about a little-known natural disaster—underground coal fires in northern China: China's recent industrial growth depends heavily on coal -- the source of 70 percent of the country's energy—a major reason why it recently became the world's largest carbon emitter. The country's mining sector is also extremely dangerous, killing as many as 13 miners every day.
It's been a big week for anti-anti-racism. Virtually the entire conservative world has waxed indignant about Jimmy Carter's suggestion that racism is responsible for the unusual virulence of anti-Obama sentiment. Listening to it all, you'd think the so-called "race card" was a much bigger problem in American society than racism itself, and that does seem to be what a lot of conservatives think. But it's getting to the point where the argument seems to be that if anti-Obama protesters have any non-racial motives for their behavior, then mentioning race as any sort of factor (hard to avoid g