History of Shakenalysis

  • 2013: “Briefly laying aside differences hardened over decades, President Barack Obama on Tuesday shook the hand of the president of Cuba at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela.”
  • 2013: “Obama Shakes Hands With Raul Castro. Let’s All Freak Out.”
  • 2013: “An encounter between Obama and Iran’s new president at the United Nations on Tuesday would be the most important—or at least the most analyzed—handshake since the historic grip between Rabin and Arafat (or, if you prefer, Nixon and Elvis).”
  • 2011: “It is not unusual for members of European royalty to greet Japan’s imperial couple with a social kiss. Therefore, the agency does not consider such a greeting to be a breach of etiquette. For the record, Mrs. Clinton greeted the emperor with a handshake.”
  • 2010: ”A conservative Muslim minister in Indonesia who is being criticized for shaking hands with Michelle Obama—and thus violating his pious claim that he avoids contact with women not related to him—blamed the exchange on the First Lady and said the touching was not his fault.”
  • 2009: “Obama, Gaddafi shake hands at G8 dinner”
  • 2009: “What’s in a handshake? The clasping of hands by President Barack Obama and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has set off a debate over what kind of signal Obama was sending.”
  • 2005: “‘If I want to talk with you, I’ll shake your hand,’ says one man. ‘I ain’t gonna hold your hand and walk down the damn street, you know.’ Told that that’s the way it’s done in the Middle East, the man says: ‘They don’t do it in New York City that way.’”
  • 2000: ”The White House says Fidel Castro approached Bill Clinton. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told reporters: ‘As I understand it, it was a chance encounter that Mr Castro initiated.’”
  • 2000: “George W. Bush called on Al Gore at the Vice-President’s official residence in Washington as a light snow fell, but there was little sign of frostiness between the pair. They shook hands, smiling for cameras outside the Old Naval Observatory before disappearing inside.”
  • 1995: “Clinton says handshake with Serbian president was difficult”
  • 1995: “‘Gerry was concerned about the protocol of how he should go up to the President, but when he walked up, the President gave him a very big handshake,’ said Representative Peter T. King, a Republican from Seaford, L.I., who sat to the right of Mr. Adams at the lunch. After an awkward moment of silence, the room exploded with applause.”
  • 1987: ”So if it was nothing more than a handshake, that was quite enough. The President of the United States and the leader of the Soviet Union—whose societies’ enmity is as elemental as that of two Stone Age alpha males—redefined the gesture. No man, even a superpower’s head of state, can hold a thousand nuclear warheads in his hand, yet at the fingertips of each of these men is the button that, when pressed, could reduce our world to an ash.”
  • 1974: “Ford Shaking Hands Again”
  • 1964: “President Johnson, bandages on three fingers of his right hand after six days of cross-country campaigning, is doing his best to avoid Western handshakes.”
  • 1956: “Shall the Best Handshake Be Nominated?”
  • 1931: “Machine-like, they counted the guests at the White House yesterday and determined that the number of persons who shook hand with the President and Mrs. Hoover was exactly 6,429.”
  • 1929: “Handshake Hits Snag at Capital”
  • 1922: “Every now and again movements are started to relieve the President of the United States of the burden of shaking hands.”

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As we all know, this is the age of information, when the entire media world changes every week or so. We’re about to enter 2014, which will surely be a year of transformation and reconfiguration, of cascading synergies and exponential upendings, in which the hidebound old ways are cast off and the day belongs to those who plug in to the rushing river of revolution. If you’re going to be prepared to grasp it all and not be left behind like some pathetic dinosaur, you’d better strap in, bite down on your mouth guard, and get ready to have your paradigms exploded.
What will happen in the political news media in 2014? There’s one thing you can be sure of: Games will be changed. Almost every day someone will declare something or other to be a game changer. In fact, the game will be changed so often you may find yourself saying, “What game is this, ChangeBall? I can’t keep up with all the game changes.” To which someone might reply, “That question was a real game changer.” That person will be an idiot. As for you, you’d better keep your mind on coming up with your own game changers, so that the game, once changed, will change in your direction. You don’t want to be left on the sidelines, sipping your energy drink and looking up at the scoreboard, while meanwhile somebody else is in there changing the game.

Make sure to read our first “Year in Preview” piece, this one tackling what is sure to happen with the media in 2014.

As we all know, this is the age of information, when the entire media world changes every week or so. We’re about to enter 2014, which will surely be a year of transformation and reconfiguration, of cascading synergies and exponential upendings, in which the hidebound old ways are cast off and the day belongs to those who plug in to the rushing river of revolution. If you’re going to be prepared to grasp it all and not be left behind like some pathetic dinosaur, you’d better strap in, bite down on your mouth guard, and get ready to have your paradigms exploded.

What will happen in the political news media in 2014? There’s one thing you can be sure of: Games will be changed. Almost every day someone will declare something or other to be a game changer. In fact, the game will be changed so often you may find yourself saying, “What game is this, ChangeBall? I can’t keep up with all the game changes.” To which someone might reply, “That question was a real game changer.” That person will be an idiot. As for you, you’d better keep your mind on coming up with your own game changers, so that the game, once changed, will change in your direction. You don’t want to be left on the sidelines, sipping your energy drink and looking up at the scoreboard, while meanwhile somebody else is in there changing the game.

Make sure to read our first “Year in Preview” piece, this one tackling what is sure to happen with the media in 2014.

Tales of Two Classes

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There was a 47 percent increase in the rate of Texas children living in poverty from 2000 to 2011, according to the Kids Count report by the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank that advocates for low-income Texans. That was faster than the 18 percent growth rate in the child population in Texas during the same period.

Twenty-seven percent of Texas children were living in poverty in 2011, a rate that put the Lone Star State among the nine worst states.

Poverty is “almost a canary in the coal mine,” said Frances Deviney, Texas Kids Count director at the Center for Public Policy Priorities. “Poverty is not destiny, but it certainly puts kids off on the wrong foot.”

Fundamentalist Homeschoolers Strike Back

The children couldn’t date—that was a given—but they also weren’t allowed to develop friendships. Between ages 10 and 12, Lauren says she only got to see friends once a week at Sunday school, increasing to twice a week in her teens when her parents let her participate in mock trial, a popular activity for Christian homeschoolers. Their parents wanted them naïve and sheltered, Lauren says: “18 going on 12.” 

Mixed with the control was a lack of academic supervision. Lauren says she didn’t have a teacher after she was 11; her parents handed her textbooks at the start of a semester and checked her work a few months later. She graded herself, she says, and rarely wrote papers. Nevertheless, Lauren was offered a full-ride scholarship to Patrick Henry College in Virginia, which was founded in 2000 as a destination for fundamentalist homeschoolers. At first her parents refused to let her matriculate, insisting that she spend another year with the family. During that year, Lauren got her first job, but her parents limited the number of hours she could work. 

Even conservative Patrick Henry felt like a bright new reality. While much about the college confirmed the worldview Lauren grew up in, small freedoms like going out for an unplanned coffee came as a revelation. She describes it as “a sudden sense of being able to say yes to things, when your entire life is no.” 

This Katharine Joyce story on fundamentalist homeschoolers is your must-read of the day. 


On a Wednesday in August, Dan is setting up for Hungry Hungry Hippos night. On the white coffee table, he’s laid out a platter with sliced boiled eggs dusted with paprika; mini carrots and tomatoes; Sour Patch Kids; and a dozen pot cupcakes that have collapsed into themselves. “I can make brownies, but the cupcakes I can’t get right,” he says. He’s got backup: a six-foot glass bong. The table’s centerpiece is Hungry Hungry Hippos, a children’s game in which players operate four plastic mechanical hippos and try to gobble up as many marbles on the board as possible.
By the time an artist friend walks through the door, Dan is stoned, a fact he broadcasts loudly. “I’m high!” he tells her before bursting into high-pitched laughter. Dan offers her a hit, bringing a flame to the bowl. She takes one, exhaling with a grimace.
“What is that?” she says. 
“Isn’t it great?” Dan asks. “I used whiskey instead of water for the filter.” 
“It’s harsh, man,” she says.

Your #longreads for the day, courtesy of Gabriel Arana.

On a Wednesday in August, Dan is setting up for Hungry Hungry Hippos night. On the white coffee table, he’s laid out a platter with sliced boiled eggs dusted with paprika; mini carrots and tomatoes; Sour Patch Kids; and a dozen pot cupcakes that have collapsed into themselves. “I can make brownies, but the cupcakes I can’t get right,” he says. He’s got backup: a six-foot glass bong. The table’s centerpiece is Hungry Hungry Hippos, a children’s game in which players operate four plastic mechanical hippos and try to gobble up as many marbles on the board as possible.

By the time an artist friend walks through the door, Dan is stoned, a fact he broadcasts loudly. “I’m high!” he tells her before bursting into high-pitched laughter. Dan offers her a hit, bringing a flame to the bowl. She takes one, exhaling with a grimace.

“What is that?” she says. 

“Isn’t it great?” Dan asks. “I used whiskey instead of water for the filter.” 

“It’s harsh, man,” she says.

Your #longreads for the day, courtesy of Gabriel Arana.