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Reason August/September 2019

Reason is the monthly print magazine of "free minds and free markets." It covers politics, culture, and ideas through a provocative mix of news, analysis, commentary, and reviews. Reason provides a refreshing alternative to right-wing and left-wing opinion magazines by making a principled case for liberty and individual choice in all areas of human activity.

United States
Reason Magazine
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Editor in Chief Katherine Mangu-Ward (kmw@reason.com), Publisher Mike Alissi (malissi@reason.com), Editors at Large Nick Gillespie (gillespie@reason.com), Matt Welch (matt.welch@reason.com), Managing Editor Stephanie Slade (sslade@reason.com), Art Director Joanna Andreasson (joanna@reason.com), Features Editor Peter Suderman (peter.suderman@reason.com), Books Editor Jesse Walker (jwalker@reason.com), Senior Editors Brian Doherty (bdoherty@reason.com), Damon Root (droot@reason.com), Jacob Sullum (jsullum@reason.com), Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey (rbailey@reason.com), Associate Editors Christian Britschgi (christian.britschgi@reason.com), Elizabeth Nolan Brown (elizabeth. brown@reason.com), Mike Riggs (mriggs@reason.com), Scott Shackford (sshackford@reason.com), Robby Soave (robby.soave@reason.com), Assistant Editors Billy Binion (billy.binion@reason.com), Zuri Davis (zuri.davis@reason.com), Reporters Eric Boehm (eric.boehm@reason.com), C.J. Ciaramella (cj.ciaramella@reason.com), Web Developer Justin Maurer (justin.maurer@reason.org), Editorial Assistant Mary Toledo (mtoledo@reason.org) Executive Editor, Reason TV Meredith Bragg (mbragg@reason.com), Managing Editor, Reason TV Jim Epstein (jim.epstein@reason.com), Producers Austin Bragg (austin.bragg@reason.com), Paul Detrick (paul.detrick@reason.com), Alexis Garcia (agarcia@reason.com), Ian Keyser (ian.keyser@reason.com), Todd Krainin (todd.krainin@reason.com), Mark McDaniel…

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we live in a world of reliable miracles

WHEN I’M HAVING a bad day, I trawl the internet for videos of happy cyborgs. My favorites are clips of hearing-impaired people getting their cochlear implants turned on for the first time. The videos follow a soothingly predictable pattern. Mumbly background chatter and shaky cam—the cinematography is rarely good—then a pregnant pause, wide eyes, and finally that peculiar kind of sobbing that human beings do when we are overwhelmed. The pattern is the same whether it’s a babe in arms or a full-grown man. If you catch the right algorithmic wave on YouTube or the right hashtag on Instagram, you can surf for hours in this genre: videos of Parkinson’s patients as their tremors are calmed by a new therapy, paraplegics walking with the help of adaptive prosthetics, infants getting their…

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the future of retail is bigger than amazon

AMAZON WILL BE responsible for nearly half of all e-commerce in the United States during 2019. Critics such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) allege that the company “squash[es] small businesses and innovation.” They believe government antitrust action is needed to save retail from being totally subsumed by Prime memberships and brown boxes. Yet their dystopian vision fails to account for the boutique retail renaissance simultaneously happening in cities around the world. Stores selling a single product category, such as butcher shops or model train stores, used to be common, but this pattern of shopping disappeared as first big-box and then e-commerce retailers started offering a vast array of goods at lower prices in a single location. There was much handwringing over the trend away from specialized retail, but as Philip Oltermann observed…

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be who you are, love who you want

ONE OF THE weirdest things about social progress is that it almost immediately gets so normalized that we forget how awful even the recent past could be. Nowhere is this truer than when it comes to what used to be called the “love that dare not speak its name.” Until recently, being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or anything slightly off the beaten path sexually meant living in silence, if not living a lie. Back in the day, openly having a kink or being attracted to people of the same sex invited not just physical abuse and forced psychiatric counseling but also the possible loss of your livelihood, family, and friends. Even sympathetic treatments such as The Boys in the Band characterized gays as inherently neurotic and unhappy. Whole sitcoms, such as Three’s…

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the podcast revolution

THERE WAS A time when a radio program required an actual radio station. Podcasting changed that. It is now possible to transmit a talk show, a documentary, or an audio play without dealing with anyone licensed to broadcast on the AM or FM bands. Needless to say, this costs a lot less to operate than it did the old way. And with less money on the line, your audience doesn’t need to be as big for your show to be profitable—if profits even matter to you in the first place. (There are podcasters who run their programs as a hobby or a community service, even if they aren’t getting any subsidies from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.) The opportunity costs are different, too. Before, your show didn’t simply need to turn…

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humans are building better versions of themselves

WHEN MY WIFE was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in the late 1990s, at the age of 9, the technology available for giving her body insulin, which her pancreas is supposed to make but can’t, was relatively primitive: Mollie measured her blood sugar with a device the size of a TV remote. It took a full minute to process the blood sample she provided, which could be obtained only by pricking her finger once for every reading. Administering the insulin required a syringe, a vial, and the assistance of an adult. The hardest part of jabbing herself throughout the day, she says now, was learning to ignore the child’s natural instinct to avoid pain. It was also frighteningly easy back then to take too much insulin. When she was in middle…