In honor of Fourth of July, in this week’s Weekend Reader we explore the increasingly fraught concept of patriotism. What does it mean to be a patriot? Does it mean you get to be as obnoxious and greedy and xenophobic as you want, like the far-right power brokers and pandemic profiteers detailed in some of the articles we include? Or does patriotism mean something more complicated and demanding? In our view, the term applies to the celebrated actor who published an essay this week calling on his fellow elite to confront the reality of our current political moment. And it applies to the people chronicled in a feature on the strange world of sweepers, a subculture so obsessed with corporate sweepstakes they’ve turned gaming the system into their God-given duty. And it applies to the journalists putting out all of these stories — as well as people like you, who are making this reporting possible.

Also In Today’s Weekend Reader:

  • Two esoteric words near the bottom of the White House’s new infrastructure plan are getting Wall Street very excited.
  • The deadly realities of the extreme heat that’s been battering the country.
  • A rollicking yarn involving ancient paintings, sprawling journeys, and colorful cockatoos.