A brief history of tinfoil hats

Photo by Thomas O’Neill/NurPhoto via Getty

We are living in a golden age of bad ideas. There is perhaps no better proof of this than in the prevalence of conspiracy theories that were once restricted to the darkest corners of the internet, but have now found mainstream acceptance, peddled by celebrities, pundits, and politicians — including our President. One of the most popular — and disturbing — is the cult of “QAnon,” a dense canon of 4chan-originated folklore that includes prophecies of an imminent apocalyptic confrontation between the Trump administration and the “Deep State” and, of course, accusations that the Clinton Foundation is a front for…


Lana Del Rey, Donald Fagen, Kate Bush, Solange, Carly Rae Jepsen, Sonny Rollins, Patti Smith, Gary Clark Jr., Kanye West, Neil Young, Merle Haggard, Iron Maiden

If you’ve been following my Nine-to-Five Record Club (hello, all 5 of you!), then you’re aware that I work a mind-numbing desk job and have decided to devote my non-work energy (perhaps too much energy) to listening to some of the “great” albums I’ve either never heard or never really gave much attention to. This week was full of heavy-hitters, with nothing scoring below 3 stars. Here are my shallow, uninformed reviews of what was on my Spotify queue this last week at work:


Sly & the Family Stone, Elvis Presley, Prince, Roxy Music, Bruce Springsteen, Lorde

I found myself over the last few months listening to the same 3 albums everyday at work (Maggot Brain, Parklife, and Dixie Chicken), so I recently decided to mix things up and listen to all the “great” albums I’ve either never heard before or never fully digested. Here’s what has been on my Spotify playlist this week:


Steely Dan, Migos, Alice Cooper, Kraftwerk, Future, Fever Ray, U2, Charles Mingus, Vampire Weekend

Lately at work, I’ve been taking advantage of my sedentary desk job by catching up on albums I missed or never fully digested. I am by no means an expert music critic, as you can see by the fact that I’ve slept on so many classic albums. Here are my unqualified, unsolicited thoughts and opinions on what’s on my Spotify playlist this week.

Steely Dan — Pretzel Logic (5 stars)


Prince, Jason, Isbell, Rick James, Lauryn Hill, Rihanna, Willie Nelson, Randy Newman, Dusty Springfield, Joni Mitchell, PJ Harvey, Killer Mike, Dave Brubeck Quartet

Lately at work, I’ve been taking advantage of my sedentary desk job by catching up on albums I missed or never fully digested. I am by no means an expert music critic, as you can see by the fact that I’ve slept on so many classic albums. Here are my unqualified, unsolicited thoughts and opinions on what’s on my Spotify playlist this week.


Getting sick to get better.

“How about a little hair of the dog?” said Phil.

I didn’t know what he was talking about. I had never heard that expression.

“You know, ‘hair of the dog that bit you’? It’s an old phrase for drinking to get rid of a hangover.”

He took a swig of vodka and then passed the bottle to me.

I’d always heard that drinking to get rid of a hangover was a clear sign of alcoholism, and coming from a family of drunks, I’d been doing everything in my power to avoid becoming one of them — that is, everything except…


How "fake news" fanned the flames of revolution in 18th century France

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell predicted a dystopian future in which a subjugated population could be duped into believing that 2+2=5. What would he make of our relatively free society today in which an alarming number of people believe that the Earth is flat? In a world of “alternative facts” and “post-truth politics,” conventional wisdom has become useless. All information is suspect. Data is not to be trusted. As St. Paul once wrote, “For now, we see through a glass, darkly.” An updated scripture for the Trump era might read, “For now, we see through a smartphone screen, cracked.”

Nothing embodies…


How a liberal do-gooder created a colony of crackers who’d go on to ruin America

When James Oglethorpe founded the Georgia Colony on the banks of the Savannah River, his plans sounded like what a lot of today’s Georgians would call pie-in-the-sky, liberal wish-wash. The 1732 Charter of Georgia almost reads like a Bernie Sanders campaign speech written in old-timey legalese:

Whereas we are credibly informed, that many of our poor subjects are, through misfortunes and want of employment, reduced to great necessity, insomuch as by their labor they are not able to provide a maintenance for themselves and families; and if they had means to defray their charges of passage, and other expences, incident…


Why Donald Trump is America’s First Butt Rock President

Each president has his own soundtrack. Clinton was all rock-and-roll, from his sax performance of "Heartbreak Hotel" to his well-documented love of Fleetwood Mac. Dubya was pure country, with his cowboy boots, good ol’ boy mannerisms, and hawkish foreign policy. Obama was soul, thanks to his frequent use of "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" at campaign rallies and his famous rendition of "Let’s Stay Together.” And Trump… well, he’s clearly butt rock.

Chris Ledford

I mostly write about history and pop-culture. I live in Atlanta.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store