Starbucks

Do America's tech giants have anything to fear?

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On a recent Friday morning, Michael Saylor appeared before a think-tank audience to cheerfully predict the end of the world. Newspapers and televisions? Obsolete in a smartphone-enhanced future. Banks and wallets? Ditto. Textbooks? About to “dematerialize.” Also doomed: Algebra teachers. "We need to eliminate every one of those algebra teacher jobs," Saylor said, waving his iPhone like a wand. "Instead of five hundred thousand average algebra teachers, we need one good algebra teacher.

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Sometimes a chicken sandwich is just a chicken sandwich. Except, it seems, when it’s from Chick-Fil-A, and you find yourself in the midst of a culture war. In fact, the two of us are passionate participants in that war: Matthew is the lead writer at MereOrthodoxy.com and a socially conservative evangelical Christian; John is a gay man, a religious skeptic, and a well known marriage-equality advocate. We differ on the definition of marriage, the existence of God, and other important stuff.

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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! If you want to understand Winston Churchill’s defiance, cheekiness, and brilliance, you must turn to his writing. Times Literary Supplement | 11 min (2,767 words) Life at a checkpoint: An exploration of the psychological costs of occupation. Boston Review | 23 min (5,694 words) Another mediocre biography of James Joyce has arrived.

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Many years ago the AFL-CIO gave Union Station, the big Beaux Arts train station opposite the Capitol in Washington, D.C., a statue of A. Philip Randolph, the great labor and civil rights leader. Randolph organized and was president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, which waged a 10-year battle to win recognition from the Pullman Company. He was also the person who first conceived what eventually became Martin Luther King’s 1963 March on Washington.

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Like wolves and teenagers, literary scandals travel in packs, and the first of the spring are already upon us. First came The Lifespan of a Fact, a new book by essayist John D’Agata and his fact-checker Jim Fingal, which presents the blood-and-tears saga of Fingal’s seven-year-long attempt to verify a piece by D’Agata about the suicide of a Las Vegas teenager.

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The controversy over contraception has faded a bit. Congressional Republicans are rethinking efforts to overturn a requirement that would make birth control coverage a mandatory part of health insurance. Rush Limbaugh has stopped talking about the issue, at least for the moment. But the issue hasn't gone away entirely. The administration is still working on ways to accommodate the wishes of some large religious institutions opposed, for reasons of faith, to sponsoring employee benefits that cover contraception.

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The Collector

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.

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Day 1 The giant, disembodied heads of Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley glared down at me; they knew I was up to no good. It was the opening banquet of the National Conservative Student Conference, and I couldn’t even find a seat. I wandered through the crowd at the Hyatt Regency: flags, blue mood lighting, white tablecloths, white people, and bowties.

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The Strongman

The Esenyurt District of Istanbul is classic new Turkey: pastel-colored office buildings with plastic-looking facades, rows of high-rise apartment buildings organized into little vertical gated communities, skeletons of shopping malls waiting to be filled with Mango and Starbucks. On a recent May afternoon, the prime minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, made a campaign stop there. The people who gathered to meet him were both covered and loose-haired, lower-middle class and middle class, and they eagerly sandwiched their way through security checkpoints.

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