We Regret to Inform You that Tropics of Meta Is Closing Its Doors

When we started ToM in early 2010, we had no idea what we were getting in to; we only wanted a place to share our work and bounce ideas around.  We never imagined that it would become the academic publishing powerhouse that it was for much of its run.  But Alex, Romeo, Will and the rest of the team have come to the painful decision to wind down the blog. (Not really.) But this is the future of the Internet without Net Neutrality.  The principles of openness and equal access that allowed the World Wide Web to become a rambunctious, protean, contentious, sometimes insane but always creative place are under serious threat from the current administration, the GOP, and their allies in the … [Read more...]

The Deep, Frustrating, Complicated History of the Anti-Vax Movement

Do you feel feverish? Impotent? Suffer from ADD? You might have been vaccinated! Call the attorneys at Tropics of Meta at 976-HOT-TOMS to join our class action lawsuit against Big Science. In the latest episode of our sister podcast Doomed to Repeat, we delve into the gory glories of the anti-vaccination movement.  We obviously have strong feelings about the issue (all of our kids are enrolled at Los Feliz Daycare, after all).  But we wanted to talk to some bonafide historians of science, medicine, and public health to understand the contemporary movement to get to the bottom of this problem, and really understand the deeper historical and cultural roots of vaccine skepticism.  In the … [Read more...]

What Modern Monetary Theory Can Teach Us about Criminal Justice

I delivered the talk published below as part of a panel at Yale’s annual Rebellious Lawyering Conference, on February 17th, 2017. The panel, entitled “Financing Criminal Justice”, co-hosted by The Modern Money Network, focused on the connections between fiscal austerity and the horrors of the U.S. criminal legal system. I was joined on the panel by Thomas Harvey, Co-Founder and Executive Director of ArchCityDefenders, Judge Jaribu Hill, Director of the Mississippi Workers' Center for Human Rights, and Mitali Nagrecha, Director of Harvard Law School’s National Criminal Justice Debt Initiative. Together, we discussed how financially-strapped local government entities, charged with public … [Read more...]

Carolyn Bourdeaux Is Running for Congress in One of the South’s Most Diverse Suburbs

Carolyn Bourdeaux is an associate professor of Public Management and Policy at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University in Atlanta.  She has just embarked on an ambitious campaign to unseat four-term Republican incumbent Rob Woodall, in a district that has been held by the GOP since the wave election of 1994.  If Carolyn wins, her predecessors in office would include former Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens and GOP-er-turned-Libertarian Party presidential nominee Bob Barr. If that sounds like tough territory, it's not necessarily.  Republican incumbents have run unopposed or faced only nominal opposition in the past in this district.  Black, Asian, … [Read more...]

Looking Back at American Studies on the 4th of July

Lady Liberty has, admittedly, seen better days--bring us your awesome, bring us your amazing, bring us your winners, but not your losers, not your bleeding Syrian refugee children, please, OK? Sad! But those of us who are native-born or newly minted Americans still find the country fascinating, infuriating, and crazy.  On this most festive of days, it is good to keep in mind all that is decent, inspiring, creative, and complex about the United States and its culture. Over the years, ToM has covered a wide range of issues, from copyright to foreign policy to sports (the latter thanks mostly to our senior dude correspondents, Ryan Reft and Adam Gallagher). Our instincts have always run toward … [Read more...]

The Long History of Americans Getting Their Drink On: Our Interview with William Rorabaugh

Last week, we talked with Jonathan Baker of Atlanta's Monday Night Brewing about the ins and outs of getting into the beer business, amid the revolution in American drinking habits over the last decade or two.  We also pondered broader shifts and currents in Americans' attitudes toward booze over time, especially regionally within the United States and as compared to other countries. To go a little deeper, we also decided to talk to the great historian William Rorabaugh of the University of Washington, whose seminal 1979 book The Alcoholic Republic is basically the Citizen Kane of historical whiskey bingeing.  Alex's interview can be found here, with some really fascinating insights … [Read more...]

The Real Drunk History: Exploring the Rise of Craft Beer in Atlanta

Episode 2 of Doomed to Repeat Live from Young Augustine's, the great professor haunt in Atlanta's Grant Park, we delve into the history of beer and the revolution in American drinking habits in the last thirty years.  People have become beer snobs in just the way people have always been wine snobs, but the upside is that we all have a vastly greater range of tastes to sample, from double IPAs to goses to summer ales.  What prompted these changes in the beer market, and how have they changed American culture? We talk the long history of booze and politics in American life, such as the stigmatization of drinking with respect to immigrant and religious groups and rural … [Read more...]

Remembering–and Not Forgetting–on Memorial Day

We recognize that Memorial Day is primarily a holiday to commemorate those who have died fighting to defend their country.  It grew out of the complex and sensitive process of how Americans, North and South, would figure out how to recognize the sacrifices of soldiers on the Union and Confederate sides of the Civil War.  And Americans have given their lives in many causes--some that were just, some that were, alas, transparently fraudulent--but almost always with dignity and courage, often at extraordinary cost to themselves and their families.  Frankly, most of us today are not as brave as those who have risked life and limb in uniform, remaining content to let others fight our wars for … [Read more...]

From Midfielder to the Fresno Fuego Front Office: Jeremy Schultz’s Soccer Journey

On Wednesday, April 26, Jeremy Schultz diligently answered emails while taking phone calls in preparation for Fresno Fuego’s 2017 PDL season opener. Having won their division the previous season, the Fuego team also qualified to participate in the 104th edition of the U.S. Open Cup. As we sat down in the offices overlooking the field at Chukchansi Park, Jeremy struggled to hold back his excitement. As a Fresno native who came of age in the late 1980s, Jeremy has experienced the growing-pains of U.S. soccer, particularly in the Central Valley. His trajectory as a player, coach, and manager provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the development of soccer in Fresno over the past four … [Read more...]

ToM in the Journal of Urban History

Although ToM has never had a single thematic focus, urbanism has always been a familiar topic in our "pages."  From the chic streets of Mexico City's Coyoacán to the Hmong communities of East Fresno and the squatter apartments of Manhattan, we have taken readers to a sweeping array of cities and landscapes. Our contributors have had their work published in the Journal of Urban History in the past -- most notably, founding editor Ryan Reft's epic 2015 essay "The Metropolitan Military" -- and the latest issue of the august journal features several notable works by our friends and contributors.  Senior editor Alex Cummings's "Brain Magnet: Research Triangle Park and the Origins of the Creative … [Read more...]