Dave Gilson

Dave Gilson

Senior editor

Senior editor at Mother Jones. Obsessive generalist, word wrangler, data cruncher, pun maker.

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Dave Gilson is a senior editor at Mother Jones. Read more of his stories, follow him on Twitter, or contact him.

The Boyfriend Crisis

| Fri Jul. 21, 2006 3:26 PM EDT

In its July issue, Esquire gets its boxers in a twist over what editor David Granger calls "the looming crisis in manhood" [sorry, article not online]. No, not the growing ranks of men who wear black shoes with tan suits and don't recognize Tom Hanks as the "official man of American men", but the so-called "boy crisis" (short version: after centuries of getting high test scores, boys are coming in second to uppity girls). In rehashing the stats that supposedly confirm the emergency, the glossy notes that for every 58 women in college and grad school, there are only 42 men. Which prompts this somber conclusion: "That means one in four female students can't find a male peer to date." Esquire's worried about a collegiate sex ratio skewed in favor of straight guys? Things really must be serious...

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Those Language-Hijacking Conservatives

| Mon Jul. 17, 2006 6:22 PM EDT

Over on the always interesting if often arcane Language Log, linguist Geoff Nunberg reveals another weapon in conservatives' linguistic arsenal: the object+present participle compound. Those are syntactic constructions like "tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking", which make for handily efficient epithets. He writes: "In fact you could trace the whole history of the right's campaigns against liberals via those compounds -- from tree-hugging and NPR-listening back through the Nixon era's pot-smoking, bra-burning, draft-dodging, and America-hating, until you finally excavate the crude origins of the trope in nigger-loving, the ur-denunciation of white liberal sentimentality."

The subtitle of Nunberg's great new book, Talking Right, lists some of the right's favorites, including the current codeword for treachery, "New York Times-reading." Somehow he left out "Mother Jones-reading," which a Google search finds to be a nice standby for would-be Frank Luntzes seeking to expand their repertoire. A few examples:

"hardcore, Lenin-goateed, Mother Jones-reading left-wingers" .... "pasty-faced tofu-munching, Mother Jones-reading, socialist-vegan-liberal…" .... "the Volvo driving, Mother Jones reading, sprouts eating crowd…" .... "Until later you Volvo driving, latte drinking, Mother Jones reading, leg warmer wearing, liberal." .... "clove-smoking, Birkenstock-wearing, Mother Jones reading, granola crunchers" .... "the Nader-voting, Strawpleberry Mocha Frappucino-sipping, Mother Jones-reading, hipster-dirtbagger Francophile Lefty progressives"
That leg warmer one hurts. And for the record, that would be a decaf, fat-free, fair-trade Strawpleberry Mocha Frappucino.

Al Qaeda vs. The Trees of Mystery

| Thu Jul. 13, 2006 12:48 PM EDT

As we've often been reminded, we're fighting the terrorists abroad so we don't have to fight them in the streets of Indianapolis. But should that horrific day ever come, let Al Qaeda be warned that we shall fight in the petting zoo; we shall fight on the beach at the end of the street; we shall fight in Jay's Sporting Goods and in the mall at Sears; we shall fight in the Frontier Fun Park; we shall never surrender. Terrorists could target those places and 77,000 more, at least according to the Department of Homeland Security's database of "crtical infrastructure and key resources." As reported yesterday, the list is chock full of what the DHS's Inspector General politely calls "curious" and "out of place" entries, such as the aforementioned suburban battlegrounds. It seems that when DHS asked the states to indentify potential targets, boosterism combined with antiterrror zeal (and just perhaps the prospect of some sweet homeland security pork) to erase the distinctions between nuclear power plants and strip malls. But then, maybe terrorists don't make such distinctions. If you hate America, maybe hating The Trees of Mystery is just part of the package.

Here's the complete list of less-than-critical assets identified by the DHS IG report [PDF]:


Old MacDonald's petting zoo
Mall at Sears
Bean Fest
Nix's Check Cashing
Amer. Society of Young Musicians
Trees of Mystery
Car Dealerships
Kennel Club and Poker Room
Historical Bok Sanctuary
4 Cs Fuel and Lube
DPW Landfill
Kangaroo Conservation Center
Assyrian American Association
Right to Life Committee
Association for the Jewish Blind
Insect Zoo
Bourbon Festival
Theological Seminary
Jay's Sporting Goods
Nestle Purina Pet food Plant
Auto Shop
Veterinary Clinic
Groundhog Zoo
Sweetwater Flea Market
High Stakes Bingo
Petting Zoo
Community College
Restaurant
Frontier Fun Park
Travel Stop
Mule Day Parade
Beach at End of Street
Amish Country Popcorn
Pepper and Herb Company
Psychiatry Behavioral Center
Order of Elks National Memorial
Ice Cream Parlor
Bakery & Cookie Shop
Inn
Donut Shop
Sears Auto Center
Wine and Coffee Co.
Sports Club
Casket Company
Bass Pro Shop
Muzzle Shoot Enterprise
Several Wal-Marts
Property Owners Associations
Apple and Pork Festival
Rolls Royce Plant
Pepsi Bottlers
Yacht Repair Business
Anti-Cruelty Society
Tackle Shop
Elevator Company
Center for Veterinary Medicine
American Legion
UPS Store
Heritage Groups
Parcel Shop
YMCA Center
Brewery
Mail Boxes Etc.
Night clubs

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