Home Blog

When did work anniversaries become the new birthdays?

0

Jan. 22—The internet has invented a new celebration: work anniversaries.

I noticed a couple of weeks ago that I was getting congratulatory notes from some of my contacts on LinkedIn, the professional networking site, because it was the anniversary of my sign-on day at the Times Free Press.

It was like those birthday greetings you get on Facebook, but about work. My first thought was that it was odd, maybe even a little silly. I’m extremely grateful for my job, but I wouldn’t equate my “work anniversary” with my actual birthday.

Still, it did cause me to reflect on my soon-to-be 40 years as a journalist in Chattanooga. Forty years is a long time to work at the same job, in the same city for essentially the same company. (The Chattanooga Times, my original employer, was sold to WEHCO Media in 1999 and the Times and Free Press were merged, but my work in Chattanooga newsrooms has been uninterrupted since the early 1980s.)

I can’t imagine that either of my two sons will work in the same industry, much less the same company, for nearly the entirety of their work lives. The modern world doesn’t operate that way. In fact, we baby boomers may be the last generation to start and finish our work lives in the same spot.

I consider my actual work anniversary to be June 1982, 40 years ago this summer, when I arrived at the then Chattanooga Times as a 24-year-old education reporter. (Before that I was sports editor at the Cleveland Daily Banner.) Chattanooga newsrooms were so flush in those old two-newspaper days that there were four local reporters covering schools, two at the Times and two at the News-Free Press.

President Ronald Reagan wasn’t even halfway into his first term, and Chattanooga, once called the Dynamo of Dixie, was caught in the post-industrial doldrums. You could count the good restaurants on one hand, and most people got the heck out of downtown after dark. The cool, 21st-century city we know today would have been hard to imagine.

I remember taking out-of-town visitors to Miller Park to showcase the city. No offense, but Miller Park — even in renovated form — is on nobody’s list of “must see” Chattanooga attractions these days.

I read a travel story about Chattanooga in Garden & Gun magazine a couple of weeks ago and realized that I didn’t even recognize some of the great restaurants it touted.

Anyway, the point is the city changed a lot in the last 40 years, and so did I. During those years, I’ve worn lots of hats: reporter, feature writer, team leader, coordinating editor, Sunday editor, features editor, opinion editor and columnist. Even though some of those roles were managerial, I never stopped writing except for a brief timeout at the point of the merger.

My mother, who died in 2006, was a lifelong bank teller. In her later years she suffered from dementia. But sometimes she would pretend to count money, her fingers filled with muscle memory that transcended cognition.

Sometimes I wonder if my fingers will continue to move, as if typing, after my mind disengages from the work.

Some may say that this has already come to pass.

Email Mark Kennedy at [email protected].

What is Wordle? What to know about the popular game among millennials

0

A friend of the photographer plays “Wordle” on January 12, 2022 in New York City.

On my very first attempt at playing Wordle, I correctly guessed the right word on my third try. The word “impressive” popped up on my computer screen. 

According to data, Wordle is a new craze among millennials. But, what is this game, why is it popular and how do I not know about this trend as a millennial, myself? Let’s find out.

What is Wordle?

Wordle is a web-based puzzle that requires players to guess a valid five-letter word in six tries or less. After each guess, the color of the tiles will change to show how close your guess was to the word.

Everyone is given the same word daily, and after 24 hours, the word changes. 

According to the New York Times, the game was created by Josh Wardle (Wordle is a play on his last name), a software engineer in Brooklyn who knew his partner loved word games, so he created a guessing game for just the two of them. 

The game was released on Nov. 1, and within less than three months, more than 300,000 people had played, according to the Times.

“I think people kind of appreciate that there’s this thing online that’s just fun,” Wardle said in an interview. “It’s not trying to do anything shady with your data or your eyeballs. It’s just a game that’s fun.”

But this isn’t Wardle’s first social experiment. The former software engineer for Reddit told the Times he created two collaborative social experiments on the site, called The Button and Place, that each were popular in their moment.

Where can I play Wordle?

The web-based game Wordle can be played on a desktop browser or mobile device at www.powerlanguage.co.uk/wordle/

Its simple website features no flashy banners or ads, nor does it require a complicated sign-up. You can merely head to the website and play.

Millennials are driving interest in Wordle

According to the data insights company Morning Consult, 14% of Americans have said they play “Wordle.” 

However, “millennials are driving the most interest in the game,” Morning Consult wrote Thursday. Twenty-six percent of respondents in the generation said they play Wordle, compared to 18% of Gen Zers, 9% of Gen Xers and just 5% of baby boomers. 

RELATED: Microsoft buys Activision Blizzard for $68.7B, company behind Call of Duty, Candy Crush

The company said social media is the main force behind Wordle’s popularity, reporting that 43% of respondents who had heard of the game said they first heard about it on social media.

And while Wordle may seem like the popular game right now, polling data reveals the new game has a ways to go before it reaches the status of other mobile games.

To compare, 52% of adults said they play longtime favorite “Candy Crush” and 37% play “Words With Friends.”

Even still, the game Wordle has people talking and playing.

Government and private employers can do much to help the economy |Opinion

0

As newlyweds returning from our honeymoon, my wife and I couldn’t face the reality of starting married life by cooking our own dinner, so we did what all college students do in a culinary bind. We ordered a pizza.

Thus began the tradition of “Miller Family Pizza Night” that has run every Friday for 28 years without interruption … until a couple of weeks ago when we called our regular place with no answer.

We aren’t exactly millennials, but I figured I could try ordering online. But the system was down. We tried modeling our Gen Z kids by using an app, which resulted in an error message. It was time to try the old fashioned way — just walking in.

What I saw made me sad, sad for me and for the obviously overworked and stressed teenagers running the establishment. I told them I tried to call, and they explained they were too busy to answer the phones. I told them I tried ordering online and through the app, and they explained they had to turn it off. When I said I simply wanted to order my usual pepperoni pizza with extra sauce they told me it would be two hours. I thanked them for working so hard on a Friday night and walked back to my car, a defeated man.

As my wife and I drove to the grocery store to pick up a frozen pizza, I thought to myself — this labor shortage just got real.

Speaking of the grocery store, the labor shortage has gotten real for them, too, along with your favorite clothing store, hair salon, car dealership, doctor’s office, school, etc., etc., etc.

This disappointing experience — albeit minor — for our family, illustrates a much larger problem for our economy and the employers and employees that are striving valiantly to serve their customers. The current labor shortage has multiple factors but has roots in the beginning of the pandemic, when people felt unsafe going to work. It then was exacerbated by the federal government incentivizing people to stay on employment sidelines and the current and dramatic increases in omicron infections. Further, shortages in test kits and rapidly changing variants underscored the truism that nature always outpaces government action.

Despite these challenges, practical solutions exist to increase labor participation across the country. For example, the pandemic hastened the retirement of baby boomers with millions exiting the workforce. Women in the workforce were hit particularly hard as schools closed down and child care options dwindled. Employers can adjust workplace policies that facilitate and incentivize their return.

In addition to private sector solutions, governments at all levels should quickly assess and reform antiquated regulatory barriers keeping people out of the workforce. One simple example is lowering the age for a commercial driver’s license to 18 as Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, has proposed in pending congressional legislation.

Speaking of Congress, it is beyond time for immigration reform in visas for skilled labor that could provide both immediate and long-term relief.

There are also areas where the private and public sectors can work together, such as workforce training to elevate skills and entice people into high demand jobs. Expanding child care support is another area where government and business working in tandem would alleviate constraints on a large portion of the workforce.

There is immeasurable value inherent in work that goes far beyond America’s economic well-being, a symbiotic relationship between the laborer, consumer, employer and even the welfare of those who, for legitimate reasons, may not be able to work. Sound policy must incentivize that intricate dynamic with an eye on long-term prosperity for all.

Our history has also proven that we have every reason to be optimistic when the right policies are in place. We are risk-takers with vision and stoics with heart, willing to assume responsibility and make almost any sacrifice if, in doing so, we can create meaning in our lives and protect the lives of those we love.

Now more than ever, our policies must be thoughtful, proven, and conducive to economic opportunity and prosperity for individuals and families. And sometimes the inspiration and ability to do something so profoundly important comes down to simply being able to get a pizza for the family on a Friday night.

Derek Miller is president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber

Verizon and AT&T delay 5G rollout

0

Reuters Videos

AT&T, Verizon will delay some 5G deployment

In a move to avert a significant disruption to U.S. flights, telecommunications giants AT&T and Verizon on Tuesday agreed to temporarily defer turning on some wireless towers with 5G service near key airports – a third such delay for the two companies. The new C-Band 5G wireless service – which was set to begin on Wednesday – threatened to cause massive flight cancellations. The Federal Aviation Administration had warned that potential 5G wireless interference could affect sensitive airplane instruments such as altimeters and significantly hamper low-visibility operations. It was not immediately clear how many towers the wireless companies agreed not to activate. U.S. President Joe Biden hailed the agreement, saying in a statement (quote): “This agreement will avoid potentially devastating disruptions to passenger travel and cargo operations.” While White House press secretary Jen Psaki called for a lasting solution: “Our objective is, of course, to reach a solution around 5G deployment that maintains the highest level of safety while minimizing disruptions to passenger travel. That’s what we’re working towards.” It was the third time that AT&T and Verizon agreed to delay deployment of the new C-Band 5G wireless service. The chief executives of major U.S. passenger and cargo carriers on Monday said new 5G service could render a significant number of widebody aircraft unusable, “could potentially strand tens of thousands of Americans overseas” and cause chaos for U.S. flights.Now, the FAA and airlines must grapple with how to resolve the concerns permanently.Despite Tuesday’s agreement, major foreign carriers including Air India and Japan’s biggest airline, ANA Holdings, said they had canceled some U.S.-bound flights because of possible 5G interference.

Chandler apartment complexes are selling at record prices

0

By Paul Marinyak, Executive Editor

The rush by major investors to gobble up apartment complexes at eye-popping prices came to Chandler big time in recent months.

Five Chandler complexes since August sold for twice to three times the price paid by their previous owners within as little as 13 months and no longer than six years, according to data compiled by the Valley real estate tracker vizzda.com.

Those sales reflect an ongoing pattern by large real estate investment companies, whose interest has been piqued by steadily increasing rents in a tight housing market in Maricopa County, where thousands of out-of-state residents are coming to live. Throughout the East Valley, eight- and nine-figure deals have been consummated within the past 12 months, data show.

“There’s more money than ever betting that apartment rents are heading to new heights,” Bloomburg.com reported, citing a Real Capital Analytics report that investors spent $53 billion on multifamily real estate nationally in just the second quarter of 2021 alone.

They and other experts also point to the fact that rent offers a steady long-term income stream largely unaffected by the economic fluctuations that impact the re-sale and new single-family market.

The five recent mega-transactions for Chandler complexes included:

• The October sale of the Greens Apartments at 125 S. Alma School Road for $125.3 million – nearly three times the 2015 sale price of $46.2 million. That sale by the Phoenix-based Conam Group of Companies to Decron Properties of Los Angeles worked out to $186,250 for each of the 324 apartments spread out across 28 two-story buildings.

• The September sale to Windemere Investments of Texas of the Soleil Apartments at 725 No. Dobson Road for $63 million – less than two years after the seller, 3rd Avenue Investments of Phoenix, bought the 188-apartments-turned-condo complex for $40 million. That represented a per-unit price of $335,106.

• California-based Davlyn Investments’ Dec. 15 acquisition of the 280-unit Broadstone Trevio on S. Ellis Street for $114.4 million – more than twice the $47.5 million price that seller TruAmerica Multifamily paid for the 16-year-old complex in 2015.

• The purchase by Scottsdale-based Private Portfolio Group and subsidiary Pillar Communities of the 116-townhouse complex called Villas at Chandler Heights last month for $55.1 million only three years after The Carte Group, the seller, bought it for half that price.

• Last month’s sale of the Marquis at Chandler complex at 2200 W. Frye Road by Pacific Coast Capital Partners to Texas-based CWS Capital Partners for $150 million – 11 months after Pacific bought it for $95 million.

That transaction represented a price of $441,176 for each of the Marquis complex’s 340 apartments that are spread across nine four-story buildings.

Both Decron Properties and  CWS Capital Partners are real estate investment management companies with similar financial objectives.

CWS says on its website, “We seek investment opportunities with the primary objective of strong growth potential while maintaining preservation of capital.”

Stressing that  it is primarily a builder, Decron Properties states its development philosophy “blends land use, entitlement, and construction expertise with a vision that creates lasting value in real estate assets” as long-term investors in real estate.

Chandler by far is not the only East Valley community where mega-deals involving apartment complexes have occurred in the last 12 months.

Just across the I-10 from Chandler, Sares-Regis Group of Newport Beach, California, last month bought the 312-unit Arboretum at South Mountain complex on Chandler Boeuilvard at I-10 for $118.3 million – far more than the $45.5 million it sold for in May 2016.

Earlier last fall, Tides Equities of California sold a complex it bought four years ago for $47.2 million to another investment group for $137 million. The following day, Tides Equities bought two Mesa complexes for a total $217.5 million.

Such transactions reflect what Bloomberg called a shift by real estate investors from  offices, hotels and malls, which it said “fared poorly in the pandemic.”

“The influx of money has pushed prices higher and forced private equity firms to behave like the aggressive homebuyers in the frenzied housing market,” Bloomberg said. “Some investors are frustrated by current prices for apartment buildings. But many are raising their bids, waiving inspections and promising to close fast, with rising rents driving a flurry of deals.”

It quoted one investment activist as stating: “That’s what happens in a white-hot market. Some of them will sharpen the pencil on the next one and get a little more aggressive because they need to deploy that capital.”

According to a number of analysts, the interest in apartment complexes also is being fueled by soaring home prices that have especially impacted first-time homebuyers and aging baby boomers anxious to downsize.

Large investors also aren’t just looking at apartment complexes for the long-term benefit of a steady revenue stream that rent delivers.

The Cromford Report, which closely watches the Phoenix Metro housing market, noted that large investors also are buying single-family homes in bulk – and not turning them over for resale.

Instead, the Cromford Report noted, “investors are extremely interested in purchasing single-family homes in Phoenix. The receipts from rents are rising faster than anywhere else in the country.

“Rents are rising because there are more people wanting to rent than there are rental properties. Many families are starting to see single-family rentals as preferable to apartments or condo-style rentals. This effect is probably supported by living conditions during a pandemic.

“While this continues, we can expect investor demand to remain robust, which in turn prevents the market cooling down as it would if ordinary home buyers were the only source of demand.”

Manage Case, a company that manages apartment complexes, echoed that lure of rent for investors.

“There is little to support any prediction other than rising rent prices,” it said. “Those hoping for a lull in the rising price trend will likely be disappointed.”

Today in history | Columnists

0

‘;
} else {
var sFallBack = ‘Click here to subscribe‘;
}
$(‘#lee-services-list .loading’).hide();
$(‘#lee-services-list’).html(‘

‘+sFallBack+’

‘);
$(‘.lee-featured-subscription’).html(sFallBack);
}

function lee_formatPackage(oService){
try {
var bOnlyModal = true;
var oSettings = lee_getPackageSettings(oService.HomeMembership);
var newService = {};
if(parseInt(oService.WebFeatureFG) === 2) return false;
if(oService.WebStartPrice != ”){
var custom = JSON.parse(oService.WebStartPrice);
$.each(custom, function(k,v){
newService[k] = v;
});
}
if(bOnlyModal && newService.in_modal && newService.in_modal.toLowerCase() === ‘false’) return false;
if(!bOnlyModal && newService.not_members && newService.not_members.toLowerCase() === ‘true’) return false;

newService.has_featured_class = newService.featured ? ‘featured-package’ : ”;
newService.sort = parseInt((newService.sort) ? newService.sort : oSettings.sort);
newService.title = (newService.package_title && newService.package_title != ”) ? newService.package_title : oSettings.title;

newService.level = oService.HomeMembership;
newService.html = oService.WebOfferHTML;
newService.disabled = newService.disable_purchase ? ‘disabled’ : ”;

var price = lee_formatPackagePrice(newService.start_price);
newService.start_price = price.cost;
newService.format_dollars = (price.format_dollars) ? price.format_dollars : ”;
newService.format_cents = (price.format_cents) ? price.format_cents : ”;
newService.start_at_rate = (newService.fixed_rate === ‘true’) ? ‘for the low price of’ : ‘starting at’;

if( !newService.term ) newService.term = ‘per month’;

newService.has_promotion_class = ”;
if( newService.promotional_price && newService.promotional_price != ” ){
newService.has_promotion_class = ‘has-promotion’;
var promotion = lee_formatPackagePrice(newService.promotional_price);
newService.promotional_price = promotion.cost;
newService.promotional_format_dollars = (promotion.format_dollars) ? promotion.format_dollars : ”;
newService.promotional_format_cents = (promotion.format_cents) ? promotion.format_cents : ”;
}

newService.banner_class = ”;
if( newService.banner && newService.banner != ” ){
newService.banner_class = ‘has-banner’;
}
newService.description = (newService.description) ? newService.description : ”;

newService.special_title_class = newService.special_title ? ‘has-special-title’ : ”;
newService.special_label_class = newService.label ? ‘has-label’ : ”;

newService.action_button = ‘Sign Up’;
if(newService.disabled === ‘disabled’){
newService.start_at_rate = ‘Call us at’;
newService.start_price = ‘334-792-3141’;
newService.term = ‘to get started’;
newService.action_button = ‘Call Today’;
}

window.lee_service_impressions.push({
‘id’: newService.level,
‘name’: newService.title,
‘price’: newService.start_price,
‘brand’: “dothaneagle.com”,
‘category’: ‘subscription’,
‘list’: ‘Block’,
‘position’: newService.sort
});

return newService;

} catch(e){
if(window.console) console.warn(e);
return false;
}
}

function lee_sortPackages(property) {
var sortOrder = 1;
if(property[0] === “-“) {
sortOrder = -1;
property = property.substr(1);
}
return function (a,b) {
var result = (a[property] b[property]) ? 1 : 0;
return result * sortOrder;
}
}

function lee_getPackageSettings(sPackage){
switch(sPackage.toLowerCase()){
case ‘dob’:
return {title: ‘Digital Basic’, sort: 0};
break;
case ‘dop’:
return {title: ‘Digital Plus’, sort: 1};
break;
case ‘dopl’:
return {title: ‘Digital Platinum’, sort: 2};
break;
case ‘silv’:
return {title: ‘Silver’, sort: 3};
break;
case ‘gold’:
return {title: ‘Gold’, sort: 4};
break;
case ‘plat’:
return {title: ‘Platinum’, sort: 5};
break;
}
}

function lee_replacePackageTokens(sPackage, oService, sCol){
var hasPromotion = false;
$.each(oService, function(k,v){
if( k === ‘html’){
v = v.replace(new RegExp(‘{{domain}}’, ‘gi’), ‘dothaneagle.com’)
.replace(new RegExp(‘{{site_name}}’, ‘gi’), ‘Dothan Eagle’)
.replace(new RegExp(‘{{business_name}}’, ‘gi’), ‘dothaneagle.com’)
.replace(new RegExp(‘{{site_phone}}’, ‘gi’), ‘334-792-3141’);
}
sPackage = sPackage.replace(new RegExp(‘{{‘+k+’}}’, ‘gi’), v);
});
if(sCol) sPackage = sPackage.replace(‘{{col}}’, sCol);
return sPackage;
}
if(window.lee_services_active && window.lee_services_active != ‘offline’){
try {
var oPackages = [],
oFeatured = false,
sHtml = ”,
sTemplate = $(‘#lee-service-template’).html();

$.each(window.leeMembershipPackages, function(i, oService){
var oService = lee_formatPackage(oService);
if(oService){
oPackages.push(oService);
if(oService.featured === ‘true’) oFeatured = oService;
}
});

if(oPackages.length === 0){ throw ‘No packages defined’; }

oPackages.sort(lee_sortPackages(‘sort’));

if(!oFeatured) oFeatured = oPackages[0];
if(oPackages.length === 1){
sTemplate = $(‘#lee-service-template-single’).html();
$(‘#lee-services-list’).addClass(‘single’);
} else {
$(‘#lee-services-list’).addClass(‘multiple’);
}

switch(oPackages.length){
case 6: var sCol = ‘2’; break;
case 5: var sCol = ‘5ths’; break;
case 4: var sCol = ‘3’; break;
case 3: var sCol = ‘4’; break;
case 2: var sCol = ‘6’; break;
default: var sCol = ’12’; break;
}

$(‘#lee-services-modal’).addClass(‘packages_’+oPackages.length);

$.each(oPackages, function(i, oService){
sHtml += lee_replacePackageTokens(sTemplate, oService, sCol);
});

$(‘#lee-services-list .packages’).html(sHtml).promise().then(function(){
$(‘#lee-services-list .loading’).hide();
$(‘#lee-services-list .packages’).css(‘opacity’, 1);
});

if(!__tnt.user.services){
if( $(‘.lee-featured-subscription’).length > 0 && oFeatured ){
$(‘.lee-featured-subscription’).each(function(){
var html = $(this).html();
if( !oFeatured.featured_button_text ){
if(oFeatured.promotional_price){
oFeatured.featured_button_text = oFeatured.promotional_format_dollars+oFeatured.promotional_price+oFeatured.promotional_format_cents+’ ‘+oFeatured.term;
} else {
oFeatured.featured_button_text = ‘Join for ‘+oFeatured.format_dollars+oFeatured.start_price+oFeatured.format_cents+’ ‘+oFeatured.term;
}
}
html = lee_replacePackageTokens(html, oFeatured);
$(this).html(html);
if(oFeatured.promotional_price) $(this).addClass(‘has-promotiom’);
if( $(this).hasClass(‘show-after-loaded’) ) $(this).show();
});
}
}

} catch (e) {
if(window.console) console.warn(e);
lee_serviceError();
}

window.lee_fetched_services = true;
} else {
lee_serviceError(‘offline’);
}
});

Terry Teachout, Arts Critic With a Wide Range, Is Dead at 65

0

Terry Teachout, a cultural critic who, in his columns for The Wall Street Journal, The Daily News and other publications, brought his all-encompassing intellect to bear on Broadway, ballet, bluegrass and practically every art form in between, died on Thursday at the home of a friend in Smithtown, N.Y., on Long Island. He was 65.

His brother, David, confirmed the death but did not specify a cause.

Mr. Teachout was one of a vanishing breed of cultural mavens: omnivorous, humane, worldly without being pretentious, often leaning conservative in their politics but wholly liberal in how they approached the world and its dizzying array of peoples and cultures. He wore his erudition lightly, enjoying it and hoping that, through his prose, others might as well.

He was comfortable writing about Haydn and Mencken, Ellington and Eakins, Bill Monroe and Balanchine. Born in a small town in Missouri and later earning an undergraduate degree in music journalism, he called himself a “well-informed amateur” and an aesthete — someone who loved beauty in all its forms and believed it was his job to find it and explain it.

He was prolific: For the last 30 years, it has been a rare stretch of days in which his byline did not appear somewhere, and not only because of his weekly obligations at The Journal. He was a critic at large for Commentary; he blogged for Arts Journal; he co-hosted a podcast for American Theater magazine; and for many years he wrote freelance book reviews for The New York Times.

He also wrote several highly regarded biographies, including “The Skeptic: A Life of H.L. Mencken” (2002), “Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong” (2009) and “Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington” (2013).

He took some of what he learned from digging through the Armstrong archives to write “Satchmo at the Waldorf,” a one-man, one-act play that had its premiered in 2011 in Orlando, Fla. Not to be constrained by prose, he also wrote the librettos for three operas, all by the composer Paul Moravec.

An acolyte of William F. Buckley Jr. and Norman Podhoretz, he emerged from the scrum of young urban conservatives energized by the Reagan presidency and eager to take it further; he once called for a “Ronald Reagan of culture” who could “present an affirmative vision of America’s common culture.”

But he took care to separate his politics from his criticism, and he derided those who mixed the two. Nor was he a cultural reactionary: He played bass in a high school rock band, loved the TV show “Freaks and Geeks” and welcomed the possibility that film might have replaced the novel as the dominant storytelling medium.

“The older I get and the more completely I immerse myself in all the arts, the more certain I am that there’s a larger, more fundamental sense in which they all seek to do the same thing,” he said in a 2004 interview. “This deep resemblance means that I understand myself to be applying the same sort of aesthetic yardstick to, say, a ballet and a movie.”

Terrance Alan Teachout was born on Feb. 6, 1956, in Cape Girardeau, in southeast Missouri, and raised in Sikeston, about 30 miles south. His father, Bert, sold hardware, and his mother, Evelyn (Crosno) Teachout, worked as a secretary for an accountant.

It was, he recalled in his 1991 memoir, “City Limits: Memories of a Small-Town Boy,” an idyllic childhood, full of textbook Americana — big backyards and Fourth of July parades and football. His mother was a high school beauty queen. He loved it, and missed it, long after he had moved to New York.

“I remain a small-town boy, uprooted and repotted,” he wrote, “and nothing much has changed about me except the place where I happen to live.”

Still, he was precocious enough to persuade his parents, when he was 12, to subscribe to Soviet Life, a propaganda magazine published by the Russian government — not out of any communist sympathies, but rather out of curiosity about life under a totalitarian state.

He spent a semester at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Md., before transferring to William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., not far from Kansas City. He majored in music journalism — a degree, his brother said, that the school created just for him.

After graduating in 1979, he started writing music reviews for The Kansas City Star while playing bass in a jazz band and holding a series of dead-end jobs. He wanted to become a big-time writer, but he grew despondent over his chances of making it in a Midwestern city. He began graduate school in psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, but left before receiving a degree.

His first marriage, to Liz Cullers, ended in divorce. He married Hilary Dyson in 2007; she died in 2020. In addition to his brother, he is survived by his companion, Cheril Mulligan.

A break came in 1981 when, to his surprise, Mr. Buckley accepted one of his submissions for publication in National Review. A few years later Mr. Podhoretz took a piece of his for Commentary. In 1985, convinced that he had a shot at a literary career, Mr. Teachout moved to New York.

He got a job as an editor at Harper’s Magazine, and in 1987 he moved to the editorial board of The Daily News. That same year he began writing for The Wall Street Journal, a relationship that would last the rest of his life. In 1993 he became The Daily News’s classical music and dance critic.

He also fell in with a gaggle of like-minded young conservatives who felt ostracized by the liberal culture around them. He helped start a salon, the Vile Body; its name was taken loosely from a book by the British writer Evelyn Waugh, who was then enjoying a renaissance among young right-wingers.

The salon became a regular haunt for 20- and 30-something conservatives located along the Washington-New York-Cambridge axis, including Bruce Bawer, Richard Brookhiser, David Brooks, Roger Kimball and John Podhoretz.

He edited a collection of essays by 15 of them, “Beyond the Boom: New Voices on American Life, Culture and Politics” (1990), with an introduction by Tom Wolfe.

Collectively, they argued that baby boomer liberalism was either a fizzled leftover of the 1960s or, as Mr. Teachout wrote, “a frivolous affair” that barely masked rampant materialism. The real legacy of the baby boom, they wrote, was the ascendant conservatives like themselves, who were poised to remake American culture.

At The Journal, where he became the drama critic in 2003, Mr. Teachout developed a reputation as an advocate for regional theater. Last month he wrote approvingly of repertory companies in Philadelphia and Providence, R.I., and their performances of “A Christmas Carol.”

Especially in the last few decades, his writing became more generous, though he kept a deep reserve of ire for writers he found flashy and affected. He called Norman Mailer a “nostalgia act” whose prose was “noteworthy only for its flaccid awfulness.”

But that was as far into controversy as Mr. Teachout would typically go, and except for the occasional swipe at “victimhood” or multiculturalism in his reviews, he preferred to work in an apolitical register, assessing art and culture on their own terms.

“Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any important artists whose works I would shun solely because of their politics,” he said in 2004. “Whether or not I’d accept a dinner invitation from them is another story.”

We need to rethink how we manage death-care

0

Death is a phenomenon like no other. It touches all dimensions of human experience, as a biological process and as an event of profound cultural, spiritual, economic, legal, and social significance.

Despite this, we lack a comprehensive system for dealing with death that respects people’s wishes and dignity, that is sustainable from both environmental and financial perspectives, and that responds to diverse and changing needs and values in our society.

Australia lacks a comprehensive system to manage death and respect people’s wishes. Picture: Getty Images

And this is a serious problem because as baby boomers age, Australia will enter a period of “peak death” and the need for creative, effective and lasting solutions is now urgent.

Death pressure

Since 1950, Australia’s population has tripled, but so far deaths haven’t kept pace as advances in medicine, nutrition and care have kept people alive for longer. This has led to a fifteen-fold increase in the proportion of society made up of the “oldest old” – people aged 85 years or more.

By 2042 ABS forecasts that the number of Australians aged 85 or over will have doubled from 2017 to over a million people. The pressures involved in caring for members of our ageing population before and after death are only set to intensify.

Additionally, in the last two years, we have seen our death-care services and industries seriously challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic, and without radical intervention, they will be increasingly unable to provide a “good death” for Australians.

Death-care services include a wide range of actors, from palliative care and nursing home staff to funeral and cemetery workers, chaplains, grief counsellors, and lawyers to handle wills and probate. The ways we currently handle dying, death and grief all too oftenresult in dissatisfaction and distress, from strained last goodbyes and unsatisfying funeral services to crippling financial burdens from funeral debts.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put new pressure on our death-care services and industry, but the pressure from demographic trends will only build. Picture: Getty Images

There are also troubling inequalities in who can access high-quality care and support at the end of life and in bereavement.

The Urban Squeeze (for the Dead)

A comprehensive survey from 2020 in Sydney shows that there are virtually no available burial plots in cemeteries close to the communities that most people live in, identify with, and want to remain in after death.

Where plots are still available, they are prohibitively expensive for most people. A crypt for two in the Melbourne General Cemetery can cost as much as $A94,000 and a single gravesite costs more than $A50,000.

We often talk about investing in the built environment for “life”, but we rarely consider the development of urban spaces for the dead, who are always still among us – albeit in different sites and forms. The sidelining of the dead and their remains have the potential to compound grief and loss, and to fracture social practices of memorialisation, visitation and commemoration.

For example, while new cemeteries are being planned and constructed, they are increasingly placed on the outer fringes of major cities. This means families and communities can be disconnected from their dead because it becomes too hard to commute to these distant places of burial.

A lack of space means that new cemeteries are having to be built on the fringes of cities, well away from where people live and die. Picture: Getty Images

Compounding these problems are issues with the governance of cemeteries, like in New South Wales where religious and secular cemetery authorities are in dispute. Cemetery governance across Australia is characterised by confusion and inconsistent regulation over grave tenure and crematory and cemetery ownership.

Deadly Disadvantage

For those marginalised in life, death often adds insult to injury. “Destitute funerals” typically result in cremation, but otherwise can involve interring two, three, or more dead bodies together in common graves, their names unmarked.

Cultural and religious practices also aren’t always properly catered for. While dying on Country is important for many Indigenous communities, community members who die elsewhere aren’t routinely repatriated.

Religious minorities don’t always have ready access to the rites their cultures demand, particularly in rural and regional locations. Such rituals include witnessed cremation for Hindus and Buddhists, and rapid burial for Muslims and Jews.

Home for the Dead?

Modern western burial and cremation practices have serious environmental impacts. Their outputs contribute to global warming; the depletion of the ozone layer; human, aquatic and terrestrial toxicity; the acidification of soil; and land competition. There is growing public concern about the unsustainable nature of body disposal methods, and funeral industry innovators are responding with new methods to reduce environmental impacts.

Death-care needs to be able to cater for Indigenous cultures and practices as well as those of minority religions and beliefs. Picture: Getty Images

However, few of Australia’s established cemeteries and crematoria are playing their part in considering and adopting eco-friendly alternatives to burial and cremation, at a time when the public needs alternatives and wants to care for the environment.

It is time to care for, and effectively regulate, death

So, what should we do? First, we need to recognise that death is both a systemic social issue and a continuous responsibility, not a momentary issue to neglect until brought to the fore by a pandemic or other crisis.

Policy and governance for the death-care sector need to be directly and cohesively refigured. This refiguring would include establishing a Commissioner for Death in this country, and an agency to oversee the quality of death care that goes beyond end of life care.

Transforming death care in Australia requires multifaceted policy development and implementation, with significant and ongoing investment in deathcare integration that builds and innovates.

We also need a new social infrastructure that encourages society to talk and think more openly about death rather than sidelining or hiding it.

Finally, calls for change must be underpinned by a robust evidence base.

We need to start now, before the next crisis, to build a new system for death care that is sustainable, respectful and responsive to diverse community needs, with benefit to all.

The researchers include members of the DeathTech Research Team based at the University of Melbourne, funded by Australian Research Council grants DP18010314 and LP180100757.

The DeathTech Research Team’s exhibition Art, Death and Disposal is on show at the Meat Market Stables in Melbourne (12-16 January). A collaboration with seven eminent Australian artists, the exhibition reimagines death and disposal practices.

Banner: Getty Images