Welcome to The Highlighter #107! All four articles this week follow topics that I’ve featured in previous issues of the newsletter. The first piece continues the conversation from last week’s edition on Charlottesville. The second piece on foster care builds off of articles in Issues #57 , #96 , and
Welcome to The Highlighter #107! All four articles this week follow topics that I’ve featured in previous issues of the newsletter. The first piece continues the conversation from last week’s edition on Charlottesville. The second piece on foster care builds off of articles in Issues #57, #96, and #103. Then please enjoy the pet photo break (dogs now outnumber cats in the series). After taking a few moments to smile, get back in there. The third piece is a follow-up to a recent scathing portrayal of Generation Z (#105). Rounding out today’s issue is a return to one of my deepest fears. (Why do I keep reading about it?) Please enjoy!
The Changing Causes of the Civil War
(19 mins) This is an outstanding historiography of the Civil War by James M. McPherson. (I’m looking especially hard at you, U.S. History teachers!) Although slavery was the direct cause of the Civil War, historians in its aftermath suggested various interpretations to assuage the pain of Southern white people. That’s how we got notions like states’ rights and protecting Southern heritage and the War of Northern Aggression. But if you look at the documents from the time period, Prof. McPherson notes, there is no argument.
When Should a Child Be Taken from His Parents?
(55 mins) This article by Larissa MacFarquhar will most likely win some sort of prize. Right from the start, Ms. MacFarquhar employs the second person point of view twice. The first time, you’re a mom being investigated by child-protective services. The second time, you’re the case worker doing the investigation. Keep reading and you’ll meet the real mom, the real case worker, the real judge, and the real foster mom. You’ll root for and against each one of them along the way.
Yes, Smartphones Are Destroying a Generation, But Not of Kids
(12 mins) Alexandra Samuel writes a brilliant response to Jean Twenge’s Atlantic article, “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” Ms. Samuel first looks at the data (tons of graphs!) and concludes that today’s teenagers aren’t more depressed than they used to be. Then she identifies the real reason that teenagers’ habits have changed: It’s their parents’ fault. Young people spend a lot of time on their phones because adults spend a lot of time on their phones. Why? Ms. Samuel writes, “You know what smartphones and social media are really great at? Tuning out your children.” Thank you to loyal subscriber Samantha for sending me this article.
America: On the Brink of Ratpocalypse
(7 mins) Please do not read this article if you dislike rodents. It’s a punch in the gut. Warmer winters (#101) mean more rat sex, which has led to a mass increase in rats, especially in cities. Fun Fact #1: Rat-related calls to Orkin Pest Control rose 174% in San Francisco between 2013 and 2015. Fun Fact #2: In ideal conditions, two rats can become 482 million rats in three years. Here’s the trouble: Climate change is moving us quickly toward ideal conditions for rats. (Note: #60 had an opposing view, suggesting we’re close to eradicating rats. Whom do we believe?)
Podcast Update: There was no episode last Sunday, but The Highlighter Podcast will be back this Sunday night at 9:10 with Tim, who is the new principal at James Lick Middle School in San Francisco. Please listen in on your Monday morning commute!
You’ve come to the end of another fine issue of The Highlighter. Before we part, a few things: (1) Do you like the new reading time estimates? I do. Don’t let “55 mins” scare you off! (2) Give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down on today’s issue, and if you like, write me a sentence or two! (3) Let’s please welcome new subscribers Rebecca, Michelle, Nancy Jo, Jennifer, William, and an anonymous reader. Keep pestering your friends to subscribe to the newsletter! They’ll thank you in due time. Have a wonderful week, and see you back here next Thursday at 9:10 am.
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