Russell E. Saltzman on wishing our way to doomsday:
I think we should blame President John F. Kennedy for National Geographic Channel’s Doomsday Preppers. It was his loose Cold War talk on nuclear survival that launched the doomsday survival business, I bet. He told Americans that if any of them expected to survive immediate annihilation from fire, blast, and vaporization in a thermonuclear exchange they stood a better chance of survival with a personal bomb shelter.
Also today, Leah Libresco on a nation of Valjeans:
The action in the musical version of Les Misérables begins when Jean Valjean is released from prison. After his release, his identity as a convict bars him from work, shelter, and human company, until he meets a saintly bishop, and his character arc kicks into gear. For the condemned in our prisons, there is no guarantee of a kindly bishop or an operatic epiphany. Released prisoners face the same kind of discrimination suffered by Valjean, with similarly tragic consequences.