I don't have much use for the notion that hostility toward religion generally or Christianity in particular pervades American media. Yes, Bill Maher can be kind of horrible, but there's really just the one of him on TV.
Today is Michaelmas, St. Michael the Archangel's feast day that's traditionally associated with the harvest. I like Travis Norvell's idea to recover the day's observance in a culture that's largely forgotten its relationship with the land:
About a dozen years ago, I was back home visiting from my young-adult life in the city, sitting around drinking coffee with my mom and my sisters, when I suddenly heard my much-younger brother crying out in pain. I jumped up. “Where are you, buddy?” I called out.
Some modest good news this week from the Census Bureau [pdf]: for the first time since the Great Recession began, the poverty rate is down a little and the child poverty rate is down a little more. The latter was driven by a bit of job growth and—among families with children—higher income.
But at this pace it'll take years for the poverty rate to get back down just to where it was in 2000.
I'm on vacation for the next week, so this is just a quick post to point to something from the print magazine: every so often I write a music column with a couple very short reviews and one slightly longer one.
You can call Keb’ Mo’ a lot of things, but “unpredictable” isn’t one of them. His blues tradition is more down-home than hard-charging, more Delta than Chicago. His 11th album is basically more of this, and as usual it sounds great. Keb’ Mo’ doesn’t reinvent himself. Keb’ Mo’ plays the blues.
On Friday, President Obama signed the 2014 farm bill into law, complete with a change to the food stamps program intended to save the federal government $8.7 billion. Republicans wanted much deeper cuts, and some of us liberals thought it was unwise to make any cuts to a vital, extremely effective antipoverty program (crazy bleeding hearts). So, yay compromise. If that’s your thing, you can join the president in praising Congress for being bipartisan, solving problems, etc.
On the Söderberg sisters’ third album and their second with producer Mike Mogis, the sound is bigger and lusher, even utilizing strings and winds at times. But it remains rooted in ’70s folk rock, straight-ahead and fingerpicky and richly effective.
"You don’t get $321 in fines and fees and 3 warrants per household from an about-average crime rate. You get numbers like this from bullshit arrests for jaywalking and constant 'low level harassment involving traffic stops, court appearances, high fines, and the threat of jail for failure to pay.'”