Jeffrey Dahmer

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Sarah tells Mike that shoddy policing (and Milwaukee generally) are responsible for one of America’s most prolific serial killers. Digressions include panel vans, Anita Bryant, early man and Hannibal Lector. Mike struggles, as usual, not to cry during the gross parts.

Links!

Corrections!

*  Jeff was born in Milwaukee, not Iowa. We regret the error! 

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D.A.R.E.

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Mike tells Sarah that the D.A.R.E. program did not, in fact, keep kids off drugs. But that’s just the beginning of the debunking. Digressions include Martin Scorsese, Iceland and control groups. Both co-hosts reveal that they were not cool enough to be offered drugs in high school. 

Links!

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Alpha Males

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Sarah tells Mike that animal behavior is an imperfect template for human society. Digressions include rabbits, Bob’s Burgers and online dating. Mike makes an awkward observation about locker rooms.  

 

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Kurt Cobain and “Copycat Suicide”

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Special guest Candace Opper tells Mike and Sarah about how the death of a rock star changed the field of suicidology (which is a thing). Digressions include eating disorders, car crashes and the insane grimness of the term “family annihilation.” The cringe-worthiness of Mike’s teenage years reaches new depths. 

Links! 

 

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“The Godfather”

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Sarah tells Mike about how America’s favorite gangster movie is really its favorite killing-the-American-Dream movie. Digressions include the Mona Lisa, Bruce Springsteen and the tyranny of height-ism. The sound quality continues to worsen. 

Links!

 

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10th Episode Spectacular!

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Sarah and Mike take a break from debunking to reflect on the first 10 episodes and tell the secret history of how they met. Digressions include “Portlandia,” Snapchat and the The New York Post. The recording quality, as usual, is wildly inconsistent. 

Links!

Sarah’s Tonya Harding essay: https://www.believermag.com/issues/201401/?read=article_marshall

Mike’s millennials article: http://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/poor-millennials/ 

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The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

ExxonMike tells Sarah that America’s most devastating oil spill was not, in fact, a DUI. Digressions include “Titanic” (obviously), the Cuyahoga River, Jennifer Lopez and marshmallows. Punitive damages make a triumphant return. Mike, a professional writer, continues to misuse the word “literally.” 

Links!

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Snuff Films

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Sarah tells Mike about how snuff films don’t exist but lots of near-snuff films do. Digressions include “Basic Instinct,” gymnastics and YouTube’s righthand bar. Mike is palpably grossed out for the duration. 

 

 

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The Jonestown Massacre

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Special guest Rachel Monroe tells Mike and Sarah what’s really behind the phrase “drinking the Kool-Aid.” Digressions include David Koresh, East Germany and how flower children were the first millennials. Mike inadvertently reveals his prejudice against extroverts. 

For more of Rachel’s work, check out her website. Recently she’s written about #vanlife, a romance scammer, essential oils and the kidnapping of a Navajo girl. Her book on women, true crime and obsession comes out next year.

Links!

 

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The Clinton Impeachment

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Part two of our epic dissection of the Clinton impeachment scandal. This week: The story breaks, the House indicts, the Senate demurs and Mike rants more than usual about the media. Digressions include Mark Fuhrman, “Broadcast News” and gay porn. 

Links!

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Monica Lewinsky

Barbara+interviews+Monica+vTz5reGwvdoxSarah and Mike talk about what America forgot — and never learned — about history’s most famous intern. Digressions include generational resentments, 1990s fashion and off-brand colleges. Also, Mike’s microphone breaks about 25 minutes in, so he sounds like he’s recording in a submarine. Sorry!

Links:

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Anita Hill

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Mike tells Sarah about the complicated legacy of Anita Hill and the not-particularly-complicated facts of her case. Digressions include “Tootsie,” Garrison Keillor and the Donner party. For reasons unknown, Mike seems to believe that one flies “down” from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Washington, D.C. 

Links:

 

 

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Stockholm Syndrome

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Some links!

The 1974 New Yorker story on the Stockholm bank robbery: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1974/11/25/the-bank-drama

“The Hearst Nightmare,” also from 1974:  http://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,911211-1,00.html

A well-argued academic paper from 1993, “Understanding Women’s Responses to Domestic Violence: A Redefinition of Battered Woman Syndrome”:  https://scholarlycommons.law.hofstra.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1873&context=hlr

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Matthew Shepard

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Links!

The gross 20/20 “debunking”: https://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=277685&page=1

Two debunkings of the debunking: https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2013/10/02/debunking-stephen-jimenezs-effort-to-de-gay-mat/196229

https://thinkprogress.org/the-book-of-matt-doesn-t-prove-anything-other-than-the-size-of-stephen-jimenez-s-ego-c7ba5d0becee/

We can’t find Andrew Sullivan’s posts about Shepard from 2004, but here’s one from 2013: http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2013/09/16/challenging-the-myth-of-matthew-shepard/

 

 

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Afterschool Specials

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Crack Babies

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Going Postal

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The Satanic Panic

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Millennials are Screwed

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I’ve got another big long article in Highline!

Like everything I write, it began as a nitpick. For years it seemed like every time I opened a browser window, all I saw was the story of how millennials like me refused to grow up. We’re entitled, we’re hipsters, we’re living in basements, we MFA’d when we should have STEM’d. If we could just tear ourselves off of Tumblr for 10 minutes, maybe we’d find a job and quit complaining already.

I always knew this was a caricature, but it was only once I started working on this article that I learned the vast, incredible, profound wrongness of the stereotype we’ve been sold about millennials. Young people are not failing in the U.S. economy. The U.S. economy is failing them.

The hardest part of writing a story like this is knowing where to start. One of the first people I interviewed was Emma*, who I met at a homeless shelter in Seattle last spring. She’s 22 years old, trying to get onto the ladder in tech and sleeping in a church annex while she does an unpaid internship. She’s been bouncing in and out of homelessness for two years now—getting a job, starting to climb the ladder and then falling off. It turns out this is a whole Thing, a sub-field of economics called “poverty dynamics.” More than 60 percent of the U.S. population will spend at least one year in the bottom quintile of the income distribution—a percentage that’s been growing since the 1980s.

It was like this for months: Every time I met someone, they led me to a novel way that young people have it harder than their parents. Katie, a midwife who only gets paid when one of her clients goes into labor and is still paying off her occupational license, put me on the trail of domestic outsourcing. Steve, who moved to Detroit to buy a cheap house and now earns $10 an hour “making smoothies for better-off millennials,” opened up the wonderful world of zoning regulations and falling labor mobility.

Last April, when I started on this story, I had no idea I would be looking up 1970s building codes or federal regulations on pension funds or the arcane details of Bill Clinton’s 1996 welfare reform. But here we are! What I found was, first, that the challenges faced by millennials are larger than I ever expected. Second, these challenges are the result of three huge and deliberate and terrifying paradigm shifts in the way our economy works and how we think about it. They all happened slowly and imperceptibly. But, like the melting of an ice cap (ahem), they are now undeniable.

So this is it, my attempt at understanding and describing and freaking out about all the ways millennials are getting screwed and what we can do about it. It’s long, it’s dark and it’s full of statistics—luckily, there are gorgeous designs to distract you!

UPDATE:
I’ve done a bunch of interviews about the article!

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Stuff we got wrong in the ’90s: Ebonics

One thing that has always baffled me, as a journalist and as a person, is how America decides what to freak out about.

It’s a big country: Weird and wild and ridiculous things happen all the time. But every year we choose 10 or 15 of them, we put them on our front pages and we lose our minds debating them. Sometimes it’s a dead gorilla, sometimes it’s missing white ladies, sometimes it’s a dress code on airplanes. By the time we circle back to the facts behind them, we’re surprised to find that they no longer match the opinions we’ve formed.

The first of these flare-ups I can remember is the “Ebonics” controversy of 1996. I was 14 at the time, just starting to notice things like late-night monologues and the op-ed page of my local paper. Suddenly both of them were filled with the story of this school district that had decided to teach African-American Vernacular English—”Ebonics” is what the linguists called it; “black slang” is what the columnists called it—as a foreign language. Teachers in Oakland, heads in little boxes on CNN told me, would be teaching “we be happy” as a perfectly acceptable alternative to “we are happy.”

The Oakland School Board’s decision was almost perfectly designed to transcend its circumstances and become a metaphor for How We Race Now. Within days, editorial boards across the country denounced the decision. Within weeks it was condemned by the Clinton administration. Within months it was investigated by Congress.

As usual, the first thing to disappear underneath all the outrage was the event that precipitated it. Nearly everything we heard about the Oakland School Board’s decision in 1996 was wrong. And even worse than how we talked about it then is how we remember it now.

Here, finally, is what really happened:

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