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VERITAS ODIT MORAS



Nota Bene Archive

Eggnog vs fruitcake
Rudolph is a girl
Nice presidents
Santa anarchy
Cult of the gym
Chinese wedding
Better Bill of Rights
Faithful dog
French intellectuals
Nightclubs for fat people
How to be happy
Saddam’s new novel
Warrior or wimp?
Tie your shoes
Vodka
Ascent of British Man
Life
Bad Sex Prize
Shopping in Rome
Dollar-menu death
Rude audiences
Bush, the moron?
Don’t lift that kilt
Jeffrey Sachs
Hitchens vs Pollitt
Lewis Feuer, R.I.P
Dumas exhumed
Blinded by MSG
Post-traumatic whatever
Michael Jackson, freak
Team mascots
Fool’s gold medals
Flabby law school
New Larkin poem
Dumb and dumber
The Simpsons
Marx fails again
J. Lo
50 best places / List
Vonnegut is 80
Shakespeare questions
Trapped Belgian
Zombies
Limbaugh Left
Food snobs
Ham ’n’ terrorists
Yann Martel
Gullible Kiwis
Quantum bogosity?
End of tape
They drank here
Well-cooked witches
Neohawks
Painting for peanuts
Buchanan vs Kristol
Belafonte’s racism
Police vs media
Ancient feces
Funniest joke?
Hapless Jewish Writer
Mrs. Sese Seko
NOO-kyuh-luhr
Purging P.C.
Our literate youth
Redheads!
Old-time sex wars
Bush plan bold, honest
NPR: a union shop
Cellphone danger?
Over- and underrated
Who grew that carrot?
“Help” with tipping
Feminism post-9/11
Zagat’s for singles
Globalization now
Five facts about Kyoto
Barenboim attacked
Houellebecq on trial
Lunch-time boob job
U.S. bargain on Iraq
Jack Kerouac’s grave
The GM debate
New fall nonfiction
Steven Pinker
Edward Tufte’s space
Hallmark and Aristotle
Rushdie in New York
Dearest Martin
Manhattan toilets
Trauma debriefing
Gourmet fakes
Hollywood’s ni**ers
Warm Alaska?
New look Kate Moss
Auden’s orphan [text]
Breast Cancer Myth
“Holding my dead baby”
Knapsack men
Dating NY women
Hitchens on war
Amy’s Orgasm
Top Ten Movies
Asian Brown Cloud
Tolerant British
Kill the library!
Full Frontal
Greenpeace hokum
A late-onset cook
Narcissism
Knight of the long knives
Amos Oz is enraged
Blurbology
Ich bin ein Slacker
English men as lovers
Classical CD gloom
’Zine plans “sex issue”
Fountain of money
New Scientist’s politics
Lies of language
Jay Gatsby, bootlegger?
“Par-kayyy!”
Origins of violence
Kidnapping for kicks
Dear Catherine M.
Fighting monks
Endangered species
Britney’s Physics Guide
Celebrity politics
Let history come to you
Deconstructing fries
No 118
Insurance costs
The end is nigh, again
Ghost bios
Chicken wings
Punjabi rape
Hitchens vs. friends
Harriet, book reviewer
Today’s golf tips
Accounting art
7-Eleven
Who’s a dictator?
Riemann hypothesis
Earth is doomed
Worthless vitamins
Volokh’s America
Chomsky on terror
Darwin’s Dangerous Diet
Class Day Address
Art? Merde!
M. Zola’s tragic death
Testing Einstein
Battling spam
Milton Friedman is 90
Teachers murder music
Musicians are smarter
Black stars war
It’s true!
Shakespeare? Not!
Moth case moot?
How to write a bestseller
Stanford vs. Harvard
Hitchens the father
Hollywood’s birds
Er... Um...
Marxist S.J.Gould
Moby Dick’s weapon
Hawking the shaman
Mike Tyson is gay?
Masai react to 9/11
P.C. kills
Life vests for all citizens
The Unenlightenment
Milan Kundera
Keystrokes of genius
Nostradamus
Gould’s last interview
JFK Jr. and me
Surrealism
Knocking Kissin
Orwell’s money
Obituaries (Oops!)
Think globally, act lunarly
Hitchens the cop
Mr. Bush in Europe
Bill Clinton, 9/10 man
David Brock, liar
Destroyed art
Colors of the Greeks
Graduation time
Cuban rations
Robt. Hughes cubed
God’s in the details?
Poincaré puzzle
Odds are you’ll lose
History term papers
Feminist cleavage
Trilobite cookies
Worst cars ever
Bye-bye Libertarians
1980s back in vogue
Pseudoscience
PC helps Le Pen
Suicide bombers
Read newspapers
“Despicable” scholar
Sick man of Europe
Dopey carry-on bans
Le Pen can win
Nietzsche was right
America’s big stick
Chiropractors
Le Pen and the Left
Apples are unhealthy
Krazy Kat
Ice cream
Bin Laden figure
The Phraselator
Blog Nation
Piano paradise
TV and sex
Lewis Carroll’s girls
Psycho Cry Fest
Doris Kearns Goodwin
Buckley on email
Pulitzer prizes
Queen Mum RIP
Israel, for and against
Museum’s vile crap
Gulf War maladies
Gullible Gauls
Professors profess
Wrecking Zhivago
Decoding Bush
A stupid white man
Biotech corn danger
Lincoln was a woman!
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Extinction is the fate of ideas that fail to evolve. Marxism, which crept out of the polluted swamp of the Industrial Revolution, now lies gasping... more»
Dear Mad magazine: “What you publish is cheap, miserable trash! Fortunately, I also am cheap, miserable trash!” So many years, so much mail... more»
What is jihad? Self-purification? An inner moral struggle? An attempt to be true to the will of God? Apparently it means anything but a holy war... more»
Copyright is no doubt crucial to innovation and growth, but it’s a protection that can be taken too far. Let’s end the copyright race, says Lawrence Lessig... more»
France: so sophisticated, chic, such superb food. And the intellectual tradition! So Victoria Kaulback decided to cross the Channel and live in Paris. Bad mistake... more»
John Gray’s bitter cynicism about the Thatcher years makes his new book attractive to many, says Kenan Malik. In some ways he even makes an odd bedfellow of Steven Pinker... more»
What the Middle East needs is peace, not shouted historical judgments, says Amitai Etzioni. Sorting out who’s most abusive or most abused only extends the bloodshed... more»
Is Britain a repository for history, learning, and sophistication? No, for U.S. pop culture it’s people with awful chest hair, bad teeth, and inscrutable slang. Gotta love it... more»
Curmudgeons unite! Cheerful cancer sufferers survive no longer than cranky ones. Snipers, terrorists, bleeding markets: it’s time for the power of negative thinking... more»
If politics were food, Japan’s would be far left cuisine: Bauhaus simplicity in Soviet portions. Right-wing food? The rich, aristocratic menu of France, bouillabaisse at $23 a bowl... more»
No musical performance ever swept away cobwebs like Glenn Gould’s 1955 Goldbergs. The great pianist would have turned 70... more» ... more» ... more» ... more» ... more». The CBC celebrates Gould. National Library of Canada archive. Robert Fulford’s regrets, Edward Rothstein’s awe. The F minor email list. One man’s Gould memorial.
Puritans weren’t puritanical. Sex was godly, in its proper place, and a sin such as sodomy might tempt anyone... more»
He embalmed classical music. Or he mass-marketed it. Or he was too mechanical. Like Picasso, Arturo Toscanini was symbol and root of all evil... more»
Saddam Hussein’s life is a story of violent murder on a mass and a minute scale, of paranoia, rage, self-delusion, but above all of survival ... more» ... more»
Daniel Ellsberg has a way of popping up at key moments in history, like Forrest Gump. He’s obsessed not with politics, but with bad political decisions... more» ... more»
Philosophy professors, or so at least Bernard Williams seems to think, have techniques to stand outside history and judge truth. Richard Rorty has his doubts... more»
There is an echo of our dark, primeval past in Halloween. Indeed, it’s an ancient holiday, going back all the way to the macabre mists of 1929... more»
No critic is easier to ridicule than Harold Bloom, his books now more branding than scholarship, more K-Mart than Yale. And yet, says Judith Shulevitz... more» ... more»
Ladies: life as an artists muse is risky. It lasts about as long as the career of your average NFL lineman. Worse, it may tempt you to write or paint... more»
Daniel Goldhagen’s attack on Pius XII will see him thrashed from all sides, pro and anti-Pius. Not that his error-riddled book doesn’t deserve it... more» ... more»
One critic has called Oriana Fallaci’s newest “a regressive book, which will be read by people with reptilian brains.” Sure. People like, uh, Americans... more»
Reverse Sokal hoax? French TV personalities publish papers in theoretical physics that nobody understands... more» ... more» ... more»
Dowdy, low-rent countries are liked by some laid-back Britons. They can teach English and live in modest comfort. Strike Italy off their list... more»
The Islamic world has long been a land of one religion and few states, while the West was composed of many states and more religions... more
Could an intuitive mind come upon scientific truth long before any evidence? Sure. But if the mind is an artist’s, is it a real discovery?... more»
Elie Wiesel speaks for Russian Jews, Tibetans, boat people, but above all, victims of the Holocaust. And Palestinians?... more»
Sidney Hook’s whole life was sustained by a philosophical ostinato: to oppose every shade of totalitarianism... more» ... more»
Oliver James says the only way to survive family life is with therapy. Our parents poison our lives, as we poison the lives of our children... more» ... more»
Poets stay out of trouble, said Langston Hughes, by writing “mostly about love, roses and moonlight, sunsets and snow.” (He was speaking to Joe McCarthy)... more»
Like New Guineans obsessed by cargo cults, education theorists are in thrall to bad ideas. They need better science, says E.D. Hirsch... more»
James Bond: sadistic, sexist, snobbish, totally heartless... more» ... more». Ian Fleming: chain smoking, hard drinking, desperately, cripplingly bored... more»
Some black neighborhoods in Indianapolis have been turned into war zones. How to explain it? Racism? Failed industry? Bad bus service? John McWhorter wonders... more»
David Lodge has a wonderful sense of the queasiness people feel to watch science march into the mind, the fear we’ll all be robots in the end... more»
John Nash received a Nobel Prize, but not for math. So was it a Nobel Prize in Economics? Surprise: not even exactly that, Yves Gingras explains... more»
It’s October, and spring’s class of high-school grads has started college . But not all of them. Ben, age 19, has his girl, a car, and a decent job. It’s enough for him... more»
Here’s an apologist for sin who is merely pathetic as a sinner: his idea of being really bad is eating lots of chocolate cake... more»
In Milan Kundera’s clumsy new novella, a portenteous, worn-out philosophy that borders on the absurd stands in for real thinking... more»
Rosalind Franklin’s X-ray photo 51 was the key to the puzzle of DNA. Does that make her a co-discoverer of the double helix with Watson and Crick?... more»
The artistic yearnings of Nazi poets and painters casts a bleak light on the redemptive power of art, the idea that beauty will make us better people... more»
The leadership of the current antiwar movement is building a firebreak around itself, says Todd Gitlin, preferring the bitter-end orthodoxy of the Old Left to success... more»
They said it of Roosevelt and Pearl Harbor. Now Gore Vidal says it of the “Bush junta” and 9/11: the President knew it was coming but may have deliberately let it happen... more»
Cursing jingoism is an honorable tradition of the American Left. But the Left cannot afford to reject patriotism on principle, says Michael Kazin... more»
Mr Hussein, By your Distempers and want of Decent Principles, by your Vile Threats and notorious Felonies, I request a Gentleman’s Satisfaction. — George W. Bush... more»
Politics and culture are not enemies, says Imre Kertész, and their divorce creates a place for boundless despotism. It may not destroy lives and property, but always corrupts the human soul... more»
“Know thyself,” the Greek sage advised, but it’s nonsense, says David Brooks. “Overrate thyself” would be more like today’s motto: live in the warm glow of self-esteem... more»
Having marched or spoken out over Vietnam, Chile, South Africa, and Palestine, Christopher Hitchens despises “a Left that thinks Osama bin Laden is a misguided anti-imperialist”... more»
If Islamofascists gain control of Indonesia, the country won’t be a local dictatorship like Suharto’s, but a launch-pad for an Islamic superstate in the region. Australia: be warned... more»
George W. Bush is no Hamlet. Think instead of Henry V, whose victory at Agincourt in 1415 has its echo in the West’s victory over the Taliban in 2001. John Lewis Gaddis explains... more»
Not just schoolteachers and intellectuals, says Clive James, but most pundits and journalists in Australia have blamed terrorism on the vices of liberal democracies. That was until Bali... more»
We value truth, but lie we must, says Bernard Williams: personal relations would be impossible if everyone told the truth about everything all the time... more» ... more»
Were Bill Clinton’s White House years a string of cynical ad hoc policies designed for the polls or was he victim of a right-wing lynch mob?... more»
All known societies have religion, which we tend to connect with humanity’s noble, not its evil side. But religion can preach murder and suicide... more»
Millions of animals, either semi-wild or domestic, would never have been born if not for human design. So does man have dominion over animals?... more»
À La Recherche du Temps Perdu is a gigantic work with a simple story: the hero travels the world in search of wisdom... more» ... more»
For Jesse James, who imbibed violence with his mother’s milk, life was a string of skirmishes. He was not a Robin Hood; he was not even nice... more»
Hey, Waitress! Yul Brynner was sweet, Jesse Jacksonrude. Liza Minelli stiffed a waitress, Arthur Miller left a quarter, and Jimmy Carter asked for a doggy bag... more»
In Adolph Menzel’s great 1875 painting, Iron Rolling Mill, workers forces a blurred white-hot rod into the maw of a laminating cylinder... more»
Vegetarianism is harmless enough, though apt to fill a man with self-righteousness.” Adam and Eve were vegetarians. So was Adolf Hitler... more»
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Almost everything the Washington sniper “experts” and “profilers” told the media over the past three weeks was wrong... more»
Scholars who challenge the NRA should make sure their footnotes are correct before they go to press. Michael Bellesiles knows... more» ... more» ... update»
Historian Michael Bellesiles, author of a controversial book on guns in early America, has resigned from his post at Emory University... more» ... more»
Humanitarianism is fine, says David Rieff, but it has to wise up. Feeding mass murderers since they too get hungry is not smart international aid... more»
So how is Viagra helping in the fight to save the endangered species of the planet? (Hint: they are not giving the pills to the animals)... more»
Oy Vey! Scientists compile a list of the world’s funniest jokes, and not one of them is Jewish. It raises a heartbreaking question: Are Jews still funny?... more»
The choice of poet Dana Gioia to head the NEA is the best arts hire in Washington since Archibald MacLeish was Librarian of Congress... more» ... more»
The British Empire is a black hole in history, the subject of shame, guilt, and post-colonial funk. Now a new museum... more»
After Darwin painters began to see themselves as organisms responding to light. Monet showed shimmering light on the retina... more»
It’s not just ignorant rubes, casinogoers, and NBA players who succumb to the gamblers fallacy: even high-powered scientists... more»
Political power runs in families: the Kennedys, Bushes père et fils, all those Nehrus. And don’t forget Saddams charming boys... more»
Our brains aren’t built to grasp the notion that the world just exists, with no cause: we live in a godless chaos... more»

Dave Eggers loved R.E.M. Then their audience grew to include “old people and stupid people, and my moron neighbour who had sex with truck drivers. I wanted these phony R.E.M. lovers dead”... more»
Their new house was in the California wine-country. And among the oaks, a welcoming committee of a doe and a fawn, resplendent in their beautiful spring coats. Then the trouble began... more»
Nature vs. nurture? In truth, it’s always a combination of both that explains the features that make us human. Right? Not so fast, says evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker... more» ... more»
“The people here know and care nothing about Europe,” the Italians told A.S. Byatt. “They hate the people in the next village. Europe is nothing.” So what is European identity?... more»
Movies are more conservative and compromised than they’ve ever been, says Bret Easton Ellis. Most terrible is that people who love movies aren’t making them: lawyers and agents are... more»
Tina Brown is just an extreme version of the rest of us. She has an unquenchable penchant for power, celebrity, and scandal which she presents in that clear, cold, vampish voice that is hers alone... more»
Crunchy conservatives. Imagine a couple who make their own granola and collect their organic carrots from the health-food coop with a National Review tote bag... more»    A young fogey responds.
“That which does not exist in the media does not exist in reality” is an idea appealing to both mafia bosses and postmodern professors. September 11th killed it dead... more»
Jean Bethke Elshtain, Christian and ethicist, will not sign a petition against a U.S. attack on Iraq. Can war be justified to halt violence, hatred, and torture? With St. Augustine, she says, “Yes”... more»
Why do we love a good puzzle? What is it about brain-teasers, crosswords, and board games that attracts hordes of ordinary folk?... more»
Harold Bloom’s work is without doubt encyclopedic. He also looks, on the analogy of the stand-up comic, like a stand-up critic... more»
Scientists were as keen to roll religion in the 19th century as the believers were to shoot down science. It was a war... more»
Venice is a universal city, says Jan Morris. It bewitches us with light and shadow, with smells and noises and idioms... more»
Question: What’s a queer in Australia? Answer: It’s a man who prefers women to beer. Are ethnic jokes in essence acts of hate?... more»
The great achievements of Fidel Castro’s revolution are education, health, and sports; it’s failures remain breakfast, lunch, and dinner... more»
The accusation of genocide against Christopher Columbus is not a recent, politically fashionable indictment: it is nearly 500 years old... more»
Orlando Figes’s Natasha’s Dance excels as pastiche. Why cite the source when you can just call him “brilliant”?... more»Ouch!”
Hitler may have lost the war, but that cute, economical little car he designed captured our hearts as it glided down the freeway (another of the Führer’s inventions)... more»
Pearl Harbor tells a tale familiar to every child: how a great nation was attacked and humbled by the imperious pride of Ben Affleck... more»
A new magazine opposes free trade and globalization to protect workers and laments neocons. The editor? Noam Chomsky? Surprise... more» ... more» ... more»
Admiring scenery is not Paul Theroux’s style: the Chinese view the world as a spittoon, the Japanese are “little bow-legged people who can’t see without glasses”... more»
Rollercoaster fans love the clank of the safety ratchets as they climb the first hill. To Andrew Martin it sounded like the dreaded chains of A Christmas Carol... more»
Hitchens vs. Amis: cocky, pompous, conceited, “with their pub bore’s manner and with their assumption that we are all obsessed with them... more»
The Bali atrocity shows the weakness and rage of Islamic terrorists. They are reduced to assassination and mass murder. The tide is against them... more»
Stephen Ambrose, historian who brought the bloody reality of combat to millions of readers, is dead of lung cancer... more» ... more»
Natural born prisoner. Lord Jeffrey Archer’s prison diaries give us a man who is, ah, a true innocent. Theodore Dalrymple has seen it before... more»
Steven Pinker’s learned, tough, witty new book shows us that an innately flawed but rich human nature is a force for good... more» ... more»
Umberto Eco is regarded by some as a swaggering, self-important man: “he sees the world as a web of signs waiting to be deciphered — by him”... more»
“No entire people has ever burned with love for a woman, no state has set its hope on money or gain; ambition seizes individuals one by one” said Seneca... more»
Marcel Proust gives us “a restless intelligence peering into every corner of the life of the mind; the gift for comic mimicry rivalled perhaps only by Dickens; above all, the experience of the novel as a journey”... more»
In the 1940s, book reviews were more honest than now, B.R. Myers opines. Today’s verbal pyrotechnics are empty bangs and flashes for people too dull to appreciate natural language... more»
Robert Solow is still skeptical about computing and productivity: “Comparing the computer with electricity or the internal combustion engine just doesn’t seem to me to be justified yet”... more»
Justice was George Orwell’s passion: “I wanted to submerge myself, to get right down among the oppressed, to be one of them and on their side against their tyrants”... more»
The story of love today is about me: finding my own true self, my autonomy and personal growth, says Frank Furedi. No wonder stats show more people are living alone than ever before... more»
When astronomers talk stellar evolution, said Stephen Jay Gould, it’s not Darwin: “Stars do not change through time because mama and papa stars generate broods of varying daughter stars”... more»
For the ancient philosophers, love of the good was coeval with the human condition. Friedrich Nietzsche had nothing but contempt for the idea. This leaves us, says Damon Linker, with a choice... more»
“When I was younger I wanted to go to bed with other people,” Kate Reddy confides. “Now that I have two children, my fiercest desire is to go to bed with myself for a whole twelve hours”... more»
Being abused bodily by a priest is deplorable and disgusting. Much worse, says Richard Dawkins, is the spiritual harm caused by Catholic doctrine... more»
September 11th presented the American left with an awful quandary, says Andrew Sullivan. Its intellectual and literary leadership was unprepared for the stark moral choice before it... more»
Third-world sufferers from genocide, AIDS, and famine wish out loud for Al Qaeda in their neighborhoods. Someone might start to pay attention... more»
Late Beethoven “fragmentary”? The claim by Theodor Adorno is just a grandiose way of saying Beethoven is abrupt and disconcerting... more»
The ethnocentrism of Clifford Geertz. The project began as a way to respect indigenous values and combat racism. It has become an intellectual and moral nightmare... more»
Is the universe a computer? Stephen Wolfram’s conjecture is not just unproved: it has not even been stated in a way that could be proved, says Steven Weinberg... more»
Martin Cruz Smith’s new novel is set in Tokyo on the eve Pearl Harbor. It is passionate yet ironic, both “samurai drama” and cool Bogie movie... more»
We are hardwired to get fat. Put us within arm’s reach of junk food, free us from manual labor, and few will stay trim. It’s the triumph of instinct over reason... more»
Stalin terrorized people, but Hitler seduced them, with ancient myth, symbols, rituals, spectacle, images, and the inspiring traditions of Western high art... more»
The real job of a New York Mayor — bringing a huge bureaucracy to heel — is not the same as facing down terrorist threats and staving off mass hysteria... more»
Phyllis Chesler has often been a victim of female treachery: ungrateful students, feminist compatriots who’ve stolen her ideas, and most of all her mother. Are women so awful?... more»
Georges Bataille likened Auschwitz to the Pyramids or the Acropolis: it was a talisman of civilization. He was just as elated by the bombing of Hiroshima... more»
In 1857 a group of 120 pioneers were clubbed, stabbed, and shot. Did Brigham Young organize the Massacre at Mountain Meadows?... more»
America’s well-meaning desire for diversity entails a culture without high art: equal opportunity for everything, except excellence... more»
Henrietta Lacks died in 1951. Since then, her cellular descendents have gone over the world: odd immortality ... more» ... more» ... more»
Okay, so he’s a slow learner. But Ron Rosenbaum grew up reading The Nation and believing Soviet evil was in J. Edgar Hoover’s head. Now it’ Goodbye to all that... more»
Don’t believe that spam about increasing your breast size, ladies. We offer real news: the bra that sucks... more» (A reader advises also to look here.)
Politicians won’t admit it: military prowess cannot prevent unpredictable attacks on U.S. cities. Richard Rorty explains... more»
Believers liked dark, dramatic séances: rapping tables, floating trumpets for spirit voices, and gooey, smelly ectoplasm... more»
The fear on the left is that if there is a human nature, we won’t be free to design a better future. The fear is groundless, says Steven Pinker... more»
At seventy-seven, Oscar Peterson is an ambiguous figure, admired by audiences and musicians, held in contempt by many critics... more»
It’s not many who’ve known Ernest Hemingway, done voices for The Simpsons, and sparred with Muhammad Ali. But George Plimpton... more»
Don’t compare Iraq with Syria, Jordan, or Egypt, says Thomas von der Osten-Sacken. In Iraq people are buried alive under asphalt. This country is hell... more»
Evil: the word may suggest to us the Holocaust or Killing Fields. But modern agony over evil dates an earlier cataclysm: the Lisbon earthquake... more»
The tools, blankets, quilts, jugs, toys, and time killers that now fill museums — folk art — weren’t meant as masterpieces. These days, they can cost near as much... more»
Travesties was long a favorite with highbrows struck by the notion of a meeting of James Joyce, Lenin, and Tristan Tzara in Zurich. Not Tom Stoppard’s best play... more»
Asked if he thought bringing about a communist utopia was worth any sacrifice, even the sacrifice of millions of lives, Eric Hobsbawm answered in the affirmative... more»
“There’s but one imperialism, and if it isn’t American it’s not imperialism.” The Left has evolved a surprising range of views in the aftermath of September 11th... more»
Physics increasingly looks like the sick man of science. As divided as a shattered nucleus, it watches biology and computer science attract the best students... more»
It is time... to, uh, stand up for truth. Or mend fences. Or face facts. Or maybe it’s time to give up the “time for” rhetorical conceit, writes Michael Kinsley... more»
In friendship, good taste would be tact, generosity, and kindness; in possessions, comfort, elegance, and utility; in art, beauty and originality; in culture, tolerance... more»
Fin-de-siècle Vienna offered the most charming distractions: betting on horses, billiards in cafés, nights at the theatre or in the arms of girls like Jeanette... more»
When Russia, China, and India have had enough of Al Qaida and its allies, it won’t be a sight for the squeamish, writes Bernard Lewis... more». Only a phantom war needs an anniversary, says Susan Sontag.
The age of the pianistic “lion,” of Liszt and Rachmaninoff, is dead. It died with Vladimir Horowitz in the same month that the Berlin Wall fell... more»
“Americans have not yet learned the tragic lesson that the most powerful cannot be loved - hated, envied, feared, obeyed, respected, even honored perhaps, but not loved”... more»
Ian Jack, not a Marxist himself, has a bit of Soviet kitsch on the mantle: a fake bronze bust of the heroic Lenin. Should he have it there? Is this like having a bust of Hitler?... more»
Nietzsche and Wittgenstein, Locke and Descartes: their wanderings, wars, and struggles make Kant’s look like nothing. Yet his story is every bit as gripping as theirs... more»
Why do so-called enlightened states, the U.S. and its clients, single out the crimes of others but never respond to their own crimes? Noam Chomsky wants to know... more»
The lovely, decayed city of Havana stands as a dreadful warning against monomaniacs certain of a theory that explains everything, including the future of humanity... more»
Applause: polite or rowdy, warm or cool, this bond between audience and performer is losing its meaning. These days “they’d give a standing ovation to a train wreck”... more»
Oh, those smart, sexy, romantic men of Britain. You’re hoping for a date with the dashing Mr. Darcy. What you get is Austin Powers... more» ... earlier]. American women? It’s just yack, yack, yack.
Turn down that orchestra! They are getting louder and louder. If you play oboe in a big symphonic emsemble, your ears are in danger. As for subtle tone color, forget it... more»
Was Americas Afghanistan action justified? Could such an attack, evil in itself, ever be justified by a further end? Three theorists put their views: Darrel Moellendorf, Chris Bertram, and Saladin Meckled-Garcia.
Creativity. Beethoven was a very, very creative person. And so is Elton John. And so are you. Best of all, in Britain art is helping to build a better society... more». Not, says that boring old fart, Simon Rattle.
The “Let’s roll” line on Iraq now being promoted in Washington might give us what we want least: an unstable jihadist Arab world, argues Salman Rushdie... more»
The Germans call me a German, said Albert Einstein, and the English call me a Jew. If my theories turn out to be wrong, the English will call me a German, and the Germans... more»
Arab armies lose wars. The best officers are denied independence, decisions are all top to bottom, enlisted men are treated like animals. And that’s just for starters... more»
Starting a novel is a lot like starting a marriage, says Ann Patchett. You dive into the lives of your characters, falling in love with them, pinning your dreams on them... more»
Biography loves Sylvia Plath. She was married to Ted Hughes. She killed herself. Death and marriage fed and fueled her writing, but now they cramp her style... more»
Isaac Asimov’s Foundation has inspired generations of sci-fi fans. Might it also have inspired Osama Bin Laden to attack the evil empire of New York?... more»
In the 1980s Martin Amis began to fret about seriousness the way Diana worried about her hair. Thus started a slide toward becoming a ludicrous moral poseur... more» ... more»
Forget globalization. Drop the idea that the West is devoted to democracy and peace. Peter Gowan on the insights and omissions of offensive realism... more»
John Wheeler notes that Darwin gave a clear explanation for the origin and diversity of life on Earth. Could physicists ever do that for origin of the universe? “Absolutely,” he says... more»
“The exercise of permanent rule over a foreign nation can only be defended by an ideology of self-worship,” said Abba Eban. Now consider the Six-Day War... more» ... NPR]
What happened to the U.S. on 9/11 is an enigma as baffling as Cortés’s appearance must have been to the Aztecs. Call it tragedy? Crime? Act of war? Try fantasy ideology... more»
Its periodicals are run by callow cliques of pseudo-populist snobs. It understands neither workers nor bosses. The Left is in deep trouble, says Camille Paglia... more»
Real education will make students so keen on chemistry that the school’s chemicals have to be locked up. The kids then secretly study lock design, says Richard Dawkins... more»
Is it embarrassment, or guilt over the very fact of being English? Or is it just absent-mindedness? Anthony Browne risks charges of racism to say: Britain is losing Britain... more»
International Jewry, out to pervert all the values of civilisation, needed a secret guide. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was perfect to the job. Umberto Eco explains... more»
The President’s bioethics council knows cloning can cure disease, but prohibits it because a zygote is nascent human being, in essence a child... more»
Failed artist? Hardly. In fact, once he found his métier, Adolf Hitler was masterly, first as a dramatic orator and then as an impresario of political theatre... more» ... more»
The child who dwells inside us trusts that somewhere are wise men who know truth, says Czeslaw Milosz. This idea gives beauty and passion to intellectual life... more»
Virgina Woolf’s cast of mind - shallow, dishonest, resentful, envious, snobbish, philistine, trivial - has at last triumphed among the elites of the West... more»
There’s plenty of merit in restating Stalin’s exorbitant, lustful, paranoid, bloodthirsty criminality. But Martin Amis tries just a little too hard to make his case... more»
Is history at an end? It looks that way to Europeans, and they may be right about Europe. But for the rest of the world? Francis Fukuyama rethinks the question... more»
Stability: that’s what we all long for in the Middle East. But why? Maybe the best thing for the region would be a heavy dose of real chaos... more». Bishops for Saddam.
Nearly a dozen men, experts all in germ warfare and bioterrorism, murdered over the world within months of each other. Coincidence? Well, yes, it just might be... more»
John Rawls’s liberalism stands on faith in the idea that all people are by nature free and equal. It’s not far from religion, says Peter Berkowitz... more»
Patio Man: on the verge of buying a fine new barbecue grill, his eyes glisten with a faraway visionary zeal, like an old prophet gazing into the promised land... more»
Madame Bovary opened a vision of emptiness for A.S. Byatt, one made all the more appalling because it was so full of clothes and furniture, rooms, books, and gardens... more»
For mathematicians, their subject is a science. For scientists it is but a tool, like a scalpel or a condensor: the talent of the user is what really makes the difference... more»
Harold Bloom has declared that he never revises his prose. Indeed, there is nothing in his work that refutes this impressive claim, says Joseph Epstein... more»
Female suicide bombers are idealists, says Andrea Dworkin. They are young women who crave a pure act that will “wipe away the stigma of being female”... more»
Much of what passes for art today is merely showmanship, or hype, or fashion. Art makers and art fakers have always lived side by side, says Jeanette Winterson... more»
Daniel Goldhagen’s newest attack on Pope Pius XII, with its “doctored quotations, sloppy inaccuracies, half-truths, and falsehoods,” is a literary hate crime... more»
Sanctimoniousness and a kind of self-aggrandizing homespun clouds virtually all the work of Maya Angelou, despite its readability ... more»
A poem can be hard. Or it can be like walking into a Denny’s restaurant: familiar, comfy, mediocre - the same ol’ stuff on the same ol’ menu... more»
The experience of silence is a rare event in our noise-polluted earth. Yet meaning in music, even the meaning of death and life itself, depend on it... more»
Clockwork mechanism: was it invented in the Renaissance? No: those amazing Greeks show again not only that they had a word for it, they had it... more»
William Phillips, founder and editor of Partisan Review, a man who refused “to lick Stalin’s boots,” is dead at 94. Obits: Guardian ... Telegraph ... Boston Globe ... NY Times
“It’s my favorite comic strip,” a teenage boy once wrote to the creator of Little Orphan Annie. John Updike knew a great cartoon when he saw it... more»
Pity the poor book reviewer, her desk piled high with vanity press or self-published dross. The phone rings, and it’s yet another pestering author... more»
A home smells of cooking. If we want respect and love, we must eat together. We can conquer obesity, too: stop grazing, stop gorging... more»
Having spent years trying to grasp the pull of luxury, James Twitchell has come more to sympathize with its virtues and forgive its excesses... more»
For Theodor Adorno, music must be politically progressive, speak without sentimentality about suffering and its social origins. A big task... more»
Rolling back radical Islam: from Detroit to Jakarta, a vivid religion flourishes, one which presents a gorgeous potential. Let’s consider its better face... more»
Pauline, as everyone called her, Women’s Affairs Minister in Rwanda, was a genocidal monster who turned her son into a murdering rapist... more»
If the Kurds play their cards with skill, they may come out well after a US-led offensive against Baghdad. But they want more than just a voice in Iraq... more»
Art conservation is a primary job for any curator. But what if an artist creates a work that is intended to putrefy? What is the curator to conserve?... more»
Give Moonlight a chance. On an aged Steinway in Ramallah, Daniel Barenboim plays and teaches to the delight of Palestinian students... more»
Proust says that in fashion and art we need new names. We’ve had Harold Bloom’s before us for a long time. He presents a bloat worth puncturing... more»
The fall: he does not look down. He looks straight ahead to his doom. There is a terrifying dignity about that image, writes Leon Wieseltier... more»
Dissident Muslim scholars, the Young Turks of Islamic studies, reject the idea that ills of the Arab world can all be blamed on Great Satan America... more»
“Man will become better when you show him what he is like,” Chekhov wrote. Showing us what we’re like is Steven Pinker’s life project... more» ... more»
The Americans are ill suited to being a superpower, argued Reinhold Niebuhr. They are either embarrassed by power or disguise it as virtue... more»
75% of Iranians are under age 25. They despise the “public morality police.” Friday prayers attract barely 1% of them. The mullahs are nervous... more» ... more»
“Hyperselectionist” was the term Stephen Jay Gould used to abuse Pinker, Dennett, and Dawkins. He was a fox, they were the hedgehogs... more»
Henri Toulouse-Lautrec’s flair for motion, his insistent, sexual line, shows in works done from Paris brothels in the 1890s, for instance, The Sofa... more» ... image]
The Dogon know what seems to be advanced astronomy. Were they taught it by beings who came from Sirius 5000 years ago? Great story, but... more»
If gneiss, Clepsydra, Gaullist, ducal, oxylophyte, or bidet leave you scratching your head, you’re not ready for the National Spelling Bee... more»
Saudi princes have grafted a high-tech cultivar onto medieval roots by buying off clerics, Americans, terrorists, and their own benighted people... more»
With unbowed independence of mind, V.S. Naipaul remains, in his gloomy way, a thorn in the side bien-pensant types of every political stripe... more». His Nobel lecture (Real Audio).
The Nation: earnest, dreary, as appetizing as homework. The Weekly Standard: “Hey, we’re having fun over here on the Right!” The Left is so dull and puritanical... more» ... more»
The new SAT is not a retreat from standards: it’s better than the old version. Writing ability is at last being tested... more». The real losers with the new SAT, says Stanley Kurtz, are “diamonds in the rough.”
Wright brothers? No, no. It was a shy New Zealand cellist and farmer who first took off in a flying machine. Too bad about the landing... more»
Julia Child, with her hooting voice, her naughty humor, happily slopping about the kitchen. Who’d ever accuse her of insider trading?... more»
Americans have always recoiled at the idea of a secret police. Yet they have come near to having one with their most dangerous institution, the FBI... more»
The demographics are clear, and the message familiar: young, exuberant, multi-colored America vs. ageing, decrepit, inward-looking Europe... more»
Schadenfreude. Why feel guilty pleasure in others’ woes? And why the glee over the troubles of Martha Stewart?... more». Maybe we should instead more admire her.
As Ralph Ellison knew from Handel, “Music will not only calm, it will ennoble thee.” For him, the most ennobling music was jazz... more»
Tunnel of Love. What if the first car of every NYC subway train were to be designated as the place to meet the commuter of your dreams?... more»
The 100 greatest Britons of all time? Boy George, Diana, Bono, Cliff Richard, and David Bowie, to be sure. Besides, whoever heard of Wordsworth, Byron, Constable, or Keats?... more» ... more» ... more» ... more»
It was when the checkout clerk at Nature’s Foods asked her for a senior card. That did it. The aging hippie vowed to find herself a plastic surgeon... more»
Joyce Carol Oates veers from Swift’s dark, embittered vision to the thrill that there really are enough wonderful people in the world... more»
Immortality. As Woody Allen said, “I don’t want to achieve it through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying.” The search continues... more»
“My chest tightens and I feel an unpleasant prickling on my brow,” reports a chess player facing Alexandra Kosteniuk. Just fear of losing?... more»
“Approximately 100% of crop circles are man-made,” says Joe Nickell. “Approximately” to allow, he explains, for dogs chasing their tails... more»
A designer virus that killed rats and only rats would be a boon for mankind. But what if such a useful, potent technology were hijacked by terrorists?... more»
Globalization can lift the poor out of misery. But after we’ve heard all the success stories, let’s admit as well that not everyone is a winner... more»
Chesley Bonestell, the artist who launched a thousand spaceships, imagined planetary scenes that astonish us today in their prescience... more»
It had Jim Crow till the 1960s, and was last to ban flogging. Delaware: rapacious parasite state with a history of avarice and disloyalty... more». The state defended... scroll down]
8:15 A.M., 3,623 other planes in the sky, and captain read the oddest message: “There has been a terrorist attack. Shut down all access to the flight deck”... Part I] ... Part II]
There is obvious pleasure in exposing wine snobs, even more than art snobs. So can world experts tell, let’s say, a red from a white in a blind test?... more»
The greatest generation. Yes, it showed nobility in its brave response to Pearl Harbor. But don’t forget, it was also the last lynching generation... more»
While tool-making evolved to a high level in primates, other species can do it too. Betty’s bent-wire creations show she is both a genius and a crow... more»
Gossip. Is it corrupt, a way to spread lies and destroy lives, or should it be viewed as an idle relaxation that enhances our grasp of human nature?... more»
Lord Byron’s grace of a gallant, early death was the seal on his Romantic pact. Luckily, he did not live to become fat, farcical, and reminiscent... more»
Tricky chap, that God, seeding fossils into the ground so we’d think the earth is very old. For Philip Henry Gosse, He moved in mysterious ways... more»
George Orwell detested both imperialists and parlor leftists. He recognized that oppression can turn the oppressed into rotten people too... more»
Billy Collins’s imitations of deep thought require no mental effort on our part. The People’s Poet just piles on “ideas” like so much soft snow... more»
Intellectuals think their utopian schemes can be realized in a flash. They don’t see what limits real politics: opinion, fraud, and force... more»
Edward Teller, a monomaniac who had “several manias,” was a polar opposite to the thin, gangly, chain-smoking, naive Robert Oppenheimer... more»
Did Al Qaida attack the U.S. to help feed starving Africans? Philosopher Ted Honderich thinks, yes, that’s the issue. Got a better idea?... more»
Ben Franklin in Paris: a jolly, impish, fun-loving old man surrounded in his eighth decade by lovely women and fawning courtiers... more»
The Opium War did not show Britain at its best. Still, episode reveals not much malice, little cause for moralizing, but a great deal of humanity... more»
The Lunar Society: men of science with extraordinary energy and curiosity. In their 18th-century world, anything seemed possible... more»
Alexander Pushkin’s spirit was extinguished not just by a regime, but by his own inner self. That’s true tragedy, and that is Russia... more»
Fascism’s aim was to crush under its boot the traditions of high civility that T.S. Eliot revered. He was reactionary, but not a fascist... more»
Anti-Americanism is emotion that takes the place of an analysis, a morality, an ideal - even an idea about what to do, says Todd Gitlin... more»
Church as corporation: this idea conditions religion and secular life in the West. Nothing quite like it is found in Islam, says Roger Scruton... more»
At first it was just half-hearted Heil Hitlers and singalongs. But slowly the Nazism seeped in. Know that old movie, Invasion of the Body Snatchers? ... more»
If self-help books really work, why are there so many of them? Peder Zane has some questions for the high-toned books of Alain de Botton... more»
Book publishing: houses have gobbled each other up, good editors have become agents, mature authors lie at the mercy of 12-year-olds... more»
Is a chimpanzee a person? How about a parrot? Any kid knows they are not. Only people are people. Not so fast, says Steven M. Wise... more»
Michel Houellebecq: is he a fearless Sade or Céline for an age of dial-up porn, designer fetishism, and packaged sex tours?... more» ... more»
Alan Dershowitz thinks that torture is justified in extremis. Okay, maybe. But why give us his favorite needle under the fingernail method?... more»
Andrei Platonov’s fiction gives us characters reduced to the “poor, bare, forked animal” of Lear’s heath. In fact, he out-Lears even Lear himself... more»
Small magazines can make big waves. The ever insightful and witty Lingua Franca held up a mirror to academia. Now it’s gone... more». Or is it?
It’s part of the White Man’s burden: savage wars of peace. Rudyard Kipling spoke in that notorious poem to the U.S. He also spoke for it... more»
Jean-François Champollion broke the code for hieroglyphs in 1823 by comparing with Greek. Linear B needed a purely logical method... more»
Contemporary fiction? We’d be better off going back to Balzac, says master of the cheap shot, B.R. Myers, in his glib critique... more» ... more»
Now and again in WWII valiant pilots crashed disabled planes into the enemy. For Kamikaze pilots, dying in your plane was the whole idea... more»
Omar Sharif meets CNN. To find hard fact or clear insight amid the bloviation of recent books on terrorism takes deadening patience... more»
Theodor Adorno viewed pop music as anti-music, a drug, a poison shoved down the throats of consumers by the culture industry... more»
Arthur Conan Doyle was sure that those photos of fairies in the garden were for real. After all, he reasoned, little girls never lie... more»
War is ruthless and cruel. For success, unfaltering strategic vision is needed, clear to both the public and the generals... more». Dubya is reading it.
The severed body parts of a boy were found in a lake in Prussia in 1900. Rumors flew: was he the victim of a ritual Jewish killing? ... more»
Winston Churchill’s rhetoric, antique and overblown in any normal context, was perfect for the abnormal conditions of the war... more» ... more» ... yet more]
For John Gray, the human rot began with agriculture, and goes on to this day. Not that hunter-gatherers were much happier, starving, killing their babies, and so forth... more»
Schopenhauer was the thinker whose ideas most appealed to Richard Wagner as a scaffold for art. But did Wagner really need philosophy?... more»
Anti-Darwinism started out with the primitive whoops and hollers of young-earthers and Bible literalists. These days it’s got real smart... more»
Laurel and Hardy: Stan’s tears, his absurdity and sleepiness, sit perfectly with Ollie’s plausible rotundity, irritation, ambition, and wide-eyed panic... more»
Contemporary artists no longer understand their materials, such as colored pigments, in the way artisans of the Middle Ages did. Nor do many care... more»
Western-advised economic reform faltered in Russia not only because advisers did not grasp Russia; they were not very good at economics... more»
Do adults have a right to have children? Must the state help adults to procreate? Agree with her or not, Mary Warnock treats these questions with precision and clarity... more»
The West is alert and open to change, says V.S. Naipaul, while “India possesses only its unexamined past and its pathetic spirituality”... more»
Science is great. It can explain things nobody needs to know. Can you really fry eggs on a hot sidewalk? Do you need salt to boil noodles?... more»
Muslim fundamentalism is not an indigenous growth, but an exotic hybrid of religion and radical ideas. Today, it’s Islam meets Baader-Meinhof... more»
The South Sea Bubble was a scam that turned the national debt into shares. The crash wiped out the debt - but also wiped out investors... more»
Chap is rather dated, effing solves a four-letter word problem, and flu once took an apostrophe before the f. English does move on... more»
A “complete gangster” he might have been, and he was surely a vain bully. But at least Benito Mussolini’s violin case did contain a violin... more»
Truths about the sinking of the Kursk were lost forever in the silent mass of buckled metal and dead sailors that lay on the deep seabed... more»
Jane Smiley ought to have used her powers to write brilliantly on Charles Dickens. Instead, she’s a nervous author on her very best behavior... more»
On the black scrag piles,
Where the loose cords plop,
As the raw wind whines
In the thin tree-top. Plop, plop.
Bad verse never dies... more»
Chicago 1995: for seven days in July the city sweltered, power failed, air conditioners stopped, and in the end 739 people were dead... more» ... more»
Raymond Chandler may have hated Los Angeles, but his literary art turned that city into a potent and enduring object of nostalgia ... more»
The desperate self-deceptions of John Polkinghorne’s efforts to prove God exists show that in the end fantasy and illusion beat reason every time... more»
It’s the last sacred cow left in Sanskrit studies: the myth that beef wasn’t eaten in ancient India. Hindus can now head for their local McDonald’s... more» ... more»
In a good sex scene at least one partner must really want it. The exact details of the setting - bed, car, closet, underpass - are critical... more»
Is the availability of guns a big factor in crime and violence? No, says Joyce Lee Malcolm, and the histories of Britain and the U.S. prove it... more»
No musical performance ever swept away cobwebs like Glenn Gould’s 1955 Goldbergs. The great pianist would have turned 70... [more] ... [more] ... [more] ... [more] ... [more]. The CBC celebrates Gould. National Library of Canada archive. Robert Fulford’s regrets, Edward Rothstein’s awe. The F minor email list. One man’s Gould memorial.
“We must punch the gasbag of cynicism and skepticism,” said a young William F. Buckley, “and thank providence for what we have and must retain.” He’s still at it... [more]
Orientalism: it’s so hurtful. Look what Puccini did to Japanese culture in Madame Butterfly. And nobody even notices his demeaning portrayal of miners and cowpersons in Girl of the Golden West... [more]
No question that the 1990s were good years economically, with job creation, trade booming, and poverty in decline. Alas, that’s not the whole story, says Joseph Stiglitz... [more]
Most of us believe we can read a face and tell if someone is lying. Most of us are wrong, too, says Malcolm Gladwell. Except for a few uncanny... [more] ... [doubts]
No one today would dare claim that poetry is dead, says Dana Gioia. The ancient unkillable phoenix has risen from the ashes and magnificently taken flight... [more]
English profs hunger for status, and so must exclude the unanointed. It used to be Jews (they’d never grasp Milton). Now it’s people with the wrong political pieties... [more]
On campus, you may “speak” freely, with fists, chairs, and broken glass, so long as you’re a member of an aggrieved minority with delicate sensibilities... [more]
The Egyptians, P.J. ORourke tells us, didn’t adjust their calendar by adding a day every 4 years. They relaxed and let it slide for 1500 years till it got back into phase... [more]
Thackeray wrote of Becky Sharp that “she had never been a girl.” She was all feminine shrewdness and coy manipulation. Which brings us to another Vanity Fair... [more]
Poetry “makes nothing happen,” said W.H. Auden. He didn’t mean that art was worthless. He thought it was useless, which is a very different idea. Adam Gopnik explains... [more]
The antiwar left once knew well that its anti-imperialism was a kind of patriotism, says Michael Bérubé, until it lost its bearings, and its moral warrant, in Kosovo and Kabul... [more]
Asked if he thought bringing about a communist utopia was worth any sacrifice, even the sacrifice of millions of lives, Eric Hobsbawm answered in the affirmative... [more]
“There’s but one imperialism, and if it isn’t American it’s not imperialism.” The Left has evolved a surprising range of views in the aftermath of September 11th... [more]
Physics increasingly looks like the sick man of science. As divided as a shattered nucleus, it watches biology and computer science attract the best students... [more]
It is time... to, uh, stand up for truth. Or mend fences. Or face facts. Or maybe it’s time to give up the “time for” rhetorical conceit, writes Michael Kinsley... [more]
In friendship, good taste would be tact, generosity, and kindness; in possessions, comfort, elegance, and utility; in art, beauty and originality; in culture, tolerance... [more]
Fin-de-siècle Vienna offered the most charming distractions: betting on horses, billiards in cafés, nights at the theatre or in the arms of girls like Jeanette... [more]
When Russia, China, and India have had enough of Al Qaida and its allies, it won’t be a sight for the squeamish, writes Bernard Lewis... [more]. Only a phantom war needs an anniversary, says Susan Sontag.
The age of the pianistic “lion,” of Liszt and Rachmaninoff, is dead. It died with Vladimir Horowitz in the same month that the Berlin Wall fell... [more]
“Americans have not yet learned the tragic lesson that the most powerful cannot be loved — hated, envied, feared, obeyed, respected, even honored perhaps, but not loved”... [more]
Ian Jack, not a Marxist himself, has a bit of Soviet kitsch on the mantle: a fake bronze bust of the heroic Lenin. Should he have it there? Is this like having a bust of Hitler?... [more]
Nietzsche and Wittgenstein, Locke and Descartes: their wanderings, wars, and struggles make Kant’s look like nothing. Yet his story is every bit as gripping as theirs... [more]
Why do so-called enlightened states, the U.S. and its clients, single out the crimes of others but never respond to their own crimes? Noam Chomsky wants to know... [more]
The lovely, decayed city of Havana stands as a dreadful warning against monomaniacs certain of a theory that explains everything, including the future of humanity... [more]
Applause: polite or rowdy, warm or cool, this bond between audience and performer is losing its meaning. These days “they’d give a standing ovation to a train wreck”... [more]
Oh, those smart, sexy, romantic men of Britain. You’re hoping for a date with the dashing Mr. Darcy. What you get is Austin Powers... [more] ... [earlier]. American women? It’s just yack, yack, yack.
Turn down that orchestra! They are getting louder and louder. If you play oboe in a big symphonic emsemble, your ears are in danger. As for subtle tone color, forget it... [more]
Was Americas Afghanistan action justified? Could such an attack, evil in itself, ever be justified by a further end? Three theorists put their views: Darrel Moellendorf, Chris Bertram, and Saladin Meckled-Garcia.
Creativity. Beethoven was a very, very creative person. And so is Elton John. And so are you. Best of all, in Britain art is helping to build a better society... [more]. Not, says that boring old fart, Simon Rattle.
The “Let’s roll” line on Iraq now being promoted in Washington might give us what we want least: an unstable jihadist Arab world, argues Salman Rushdie... [more]
The Germans call me a German, said Albert Einstein, and the English call me a Jew. If my theories turn out to be wrong, the English will call me a German, and the Germans... [more]
Arab armies lose wars. The best officers are denied independence, decisions are all top to bottom, enlisted men are treated like animals. And that’s just for starters... [more]
Starting a novel is a lot like starting a marriage, says Ann Patchett. You dive into the lives of your characters, falling in love with them, pinning your dreams on them... [more]
Biography loves Sylvia Plath. She was married to Ted Hughes. She killed herself. Death and marriage fed and fueled her writing, but now they cramp her style... [more]
Isaac Asimov’s Foundation has inspired generations of sci-fi fans. Might it also have inspired Osama Bin Laden to attack the evil empire of New York?... [more]
In the 1980s Martin Amis began to fret about seriousness the way Diana worried about her hair. Thus started a slide toward becoming a ludicrous moral poseur... [more] ... [more]
Forget globalization. Drop the idea that the West is devoted to democracy and peace. Peter Gowan on the insights and omissions of offensive realism... [more]
John Wheeler notes that Darwin gave a clear explanation for the origin and diversity of life on Earth. Could physicists ever do that for origin of the universe? “Absolutely,” he says... [more]
“The exercise of permanent rule over a foreign nation can only be defended by an ideology of self-worship,” said Abba Eban. Now consider the Six-Day War... [more] ... [NPR]
What happened to the U.S. on 9/11 is an enigma as baffling as Cortés’s appearance must have been to the Aztecs. Call it tragedy? Crime? Act of war? Try fantasy ideology... [more]
Its periodicals are run by callow cliques of pseudo-populist snobs. It understands neither workers nor bosses. The Left is in deep trouble, says Camille Paglia... [more]
Real education will make students so keen on chemistry that the school’s chemicals have to be locked up. The kids then secretly study lock design, says Richard Dawkins... [more]
Is it embarrassment, or guilt over the very fact of being English? Or is it just absent-mindedness? Anthony Browne risks charges of racism to say: Britain is losing Britain... [more]
International Jewry, out to pervert all the values of civilisation, needed a secret guide. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was perfect to the job. Umberto Eco explains... [more]
The President’s bioethics council knows cloning can cure disease, but prohibits it because a zygote is nascent human being, in essence a child... [more]
Failed artist? Hardly. In fact, once he found his métier, Adolf Hitler was masterly, first as a dramatic orator and then as an impresario of political theatre... [more] ... [more]
The child who dwells inside us trusts that somewhere are wise men who know truth, says Czeslaw Milosz. This idea gives beauty and passion to intellectual life... [more]
Virgina Woolf’s cast of mind — shallow, dishonest, resentful, envious, snobbish, philistine, trivial — has at last triumphed among the elites of the West... [more]
There’s plenty of merit in restating Stalin’s exorbitant, lustful, paranoid, bloodthirsty criminality. But Martin Amis tries just a little too hard to make his case... [more]
Is history at an end? It looks that way to Europeans, and they may be right about Europe. But for the rest of the world? Francis Fukuyama rethinks the question... [more]
Stability: that’s what we all long for in the Middle East. But why? Maybe the best thing for the region would be a heavy dose of real chaos... [more]. Bishops for Saddam.
Nearly a dozen men, experts all in germ warfare and bioterrorism, murdered over the world within months of each other. Coincidence? Well, yes, it just might be... [more]
John Rawls’s liberalism stands on faith in the idea that all people are by nature free and equal. It’s not far from religion, says Peter Berkowitz... [more]
Patio Man: on the verge of buying a fine new barbecue grill, his eyes glisten with a faraway visionary zeal, like an old prophet gazing into the promised land... [more]
Madame Bovary opened a vision of emptiness for A.S. Byatt, one made all the more appalling because it was so full of clothes and furniture, rooms, books, and gardens... [more]
For mathematicians, their subject is a science. For scientists it is but a tool, like a scalpel or a condensor: the talent of the user is what really makes the difference... [more]
Harold Bloom has declared that he never revises his prose. Indeed, there is nothing in his work that refutes this impressive claim, says Joseph Epstein... [more]
Female suicide bombers are idealists, says Andrea Dworkin. They are young women who crave a pure act that will “wipe away the stigma of being female”... [more]
Much of what passes for art today is merely showmanship, or hype, or fashion. Art makers and art fakers have always lived side by side, says Jeanette Winterson... [more]
Daniel Goldhagen’s newest attack on Pope Pius XII, with its “doctored quotations, sloppy inaccuracies, half-truths, and falsehoods,” is a literary hate crime... [more]
Sanctimoniousness and a kind of self-aggrandizing homespun clouds virtually all the work of Maya Angelou, despite its readability ... [more]
A poem can be hard. Or it can be like walking into a Denny’s restaurant: familiar, comfy, mediocre — the same ol’ stuff on the same ol’ menu... [more]
The experience of silence is a rare event in our noise-polluted earth. Yet meaning in music, even the meaning of death and life itself, depend on it... [more]
If everything human can be reduced to our being an organic machine, why do people gossip and climb mountains? What’s the survival value?... [more]
“Vulgarians are thick on the ground in the nation’s capital,” observes the patrician George Will, drawing a wobbly line in the sand... [more]
Blake’s visionary universe was not possible without Ossian, and Keats owed a deep debt to Rowley. Fakers have their value... [more]
Like vulgar (and false) Marxism or vulgar Freudianism, vulgar Pauline Kaelism says trash and art are the same, and pop films must be meaningful... [more]
George Orwell is one’s ideal self, braver and more clear-eyed, a better, harder-working writer, a noble aspiration — and not even a genius... [more]
Communism was a swell party for Eric Hobsbawm. He enjoyed la dolce vita in the West and kept his membership. As for the poor sods in the East... [more]
Ebonics generated laughter on one side and resentment on the other. Yet it proposed teaching reforms that were not stupid. More’s the pity... [more]
Dreams of rationalism now dog university life, Stephen Toulmin says: it’s either arid rationality or equally empty postmodern posturing... [more]
Charles Darwin was a pigeon breeder, botanist, and crusader against the paranormal who raised seven children and 57 kinds of gooseberries... [more]
“My Brother Esau is a hairy man, but I am a smooth man.” This uplifting Bible phrase brought with it a wicked new style of British satire... [more]
What’ll you have? Boar’s head, larks’ tongues, roast peacock, truffled sparrows? How about a simple entrée of dormice dipped in honey?... [more]
If there is an underworld where the darkest nightmares of the past dwell, W.G. Sebald could be its Charon, taking us from the living to the dead... [more]
The Baroness Munchausen of sex. Catherine Millet’s memoir is to eroticism what an account of bulimic gorging and vomiting is to gastronomy... [more]
Bernard Williams views the real peril for the humanities to lie in their capacity for endless squabbles over truth. Science is less bothered... [more]
Lord Byron’s grace of a gallant, early death was the seal on his Romantic pact. Luckily, he did not live to become fat, farcical, and reminiscent... [more]
Tricky chap, that God, seeding fossils into the ground so we’d think the earth is very old. For Philip Henry Gosse, He moved in mysterious ways... [more]
George Orwell detested both imperialists and parlor leftists. He recognized that oppression can turn the oppressed into rotten people too... [more]
Billy Collins’s imitations of deep thought require no mental effort on our part. The People’s Poet just piles on “ideas” like so much soft snow... [more]
Intellectuals think their utopian schemes can be realized in a flash. They don’t see what limits real politics: opinion, fraud, and force... [more]
Edward Teller, a monomaniac who had “several manias,” was a polar opposite to the thin, gangly, chain-smoking, naive Robert Oppenheimer... [more]
Did Al Qaida attack the U.S. to help feed starving Africans? Philosopher Ted Honderich thinks, yes, that’s the issue. Got a better idea?... [more]
Ben Franklin in Paris: a jolly, impish, fun-loving old man surrounded in his eighth decade by lovely women and fawning courtiers... [more]
The Opium War did not show Britain at its best. Still, episode reveals not much malice, little cause for moralizing, but a great deal of humanity... [more]
The Lunar Society: men of science with extraordinary energy and curiosity. In their 18th-century world, anything seemed possible... [more]
Alexander Pushkin’s spirit was extinguished not just by a regime, but by his own inner self. That’s true tragedy, and that is Russia... [more]
Fascism’s aim was to crush under its boot the traditions of high civility that T.S. Eliot revered. He was reactionary, but not a fascist... [more]
Anti-Americanism is emotion that takes the place of an analysis, a morality, an ideal — even an idea about what to do, says Todd Gitlin... [more]
Church as corporation: this idea conditions religion and secular life in the West. Nothing quite like it is found in Islam, says Roger Scruton... [more]
At first it was just half-hearted Heil Hitlers and singalongs. But slowly the Nazism seeped in. Know that old movie, Invasion of the Body Snatchers?... [more]
If self-help books really work, why are there so many of them? Peder Zane has some questions for the high-toned books of Alain de Botton... [more]
Book publishing: houses have gobbled each other up, good editors have become agents, mature authors lie at the mercy of 12-year-olds... [more]
Is a chimpanzee a person? How about a parrot? Any kid knows they are not. Only people are people. Not so fast, says Steven M. Wise... [more]
Michel Houellebecq: is he a fearless Sade or Céline for an age of dial-up porn, designer fetishism, and packaged sex tours?... [more] ... [more]
Alan Dershowitz thinks that torture is justified in extremis. Okay, maybe. But why give us his favorite needle under the fingernail method?... [more]
Andrei Platonov’s fiction gives us characters reduced to the “poor, bare, forked animal” of Lear’s heath. In fact, he out-Lears even Lear himself... [more]
Small magazines can make big waves. The ever insightful and witty Lingua Franca held up a mirror to academia. Now it’s gone... [more]. Or is it?
It’s part of the White Man’s burden: savage wars of peace. Rudyard Kipling spoke in that notorious poem to the U.S. He also spoke for it... [more]
Jean-François Champollion broke the code for hieroglyphs in 1823 by comparing with Greek. Linear B needed a purely logical method... [more]
Contemporary fiction? We’d be better off going back to Balzac, says master of the cheap shot, B.R. Myers, in his glib critique... [more] ... [more]
Now and again in WWII valiant pilots crashed disabled planes into the enemy. For Kamikaze pilots, dying in your plane was the whole idea... [more]
Omar Sharif meets CNN. To find hard fact or clear insight amid the bloviation of recent books on terrorism takes deadening patience... [more]
Theodor Adorno viewed pop music as anti-music, a drug, a poison shoved down the throats of consumers by the culture industry... [more]
Arthur Conan Doyle was sure that those photos of fairies in the garden were for real. After all, he reasoned, little girls never lie... [more]
War is ruthless and cruel. For success, unfaltering strategic vision is needed, clear to both the public and the generals... [more]. Dubya is reading it.
The severed body parts of a boy were found in a lake in Prussia in 1900. Rumors flew: was he the victim of a ritual Jewish killing? ... [more]
Winston Churchill’s rhetoric, antique and overblown in any normal context, was perfect for the abnormal conditions of the war... [more] ... [more] ... [ yet more]
For John Gray, the human rot began with agriculture, and goes on to this day. Not that hunter-gatherers were much happier, starving, killing their babies, and so forth... [more]
Schopenhauer was the thinker whose ideas most appealed to Richard Wagner as a scaffold for art. But did Wagner really need philosophy?... [more]
Anti-Darwinism started out with the primitive whoops and hollers of young-earthers and Bible literalists. These days it’s got real smart... [more]
Laurel and Hardy: Stan’s tears, his absurdity and sleepiness, sit perfectly with Ollie’s plausible rotundity, irritation, ambition, and wide-eyed panic... [more]
Contemporary artists no longer understand their materials, such as colored pigments, in the way artisans of the Middle Ages did. Nor do many care... [more]
Western-advised economic reform faltered in Russia not only because advisers did not grasp Russia; they were not very good at economics... [more]
Do adults have a right to have children? Must the state help adults to procreate? Agree with her or not, Mary Warnock treats these questions with precision and clarity... [more]
The West is alert and open to change, says V.S. Naipaul, while “India possesses only its unexamined past and its pathetic spirituality”... [more]
Science is great. It can explain things nobody needs to know. Can you really fry eggs on a hot sidewalk? Do you need salt to boil noodles?... [more]
The Brothers Karamazov is a mystery about who killed an old man. But it is also about the deepest mysteries of the eternal human condition... [more]
Muslim fundamentalism is not an indigenous growth, but an exotic hybrid of religion and radical ideas. Today, it’s Islam meets Baader-Meinhof... [more]
The South Sea Bubble was a scam that turned the national debt into shares. The crash wiped out the debt — but also wiped out investors... [more]
Chap is rather dated, effing solves a four-letter word problem, and flu once took an apostrophe before the f. English does move on... [more]
A “complete gangster” he might have been, and he was surely a vain bully. But at least Benito Mussolini’s violin case did contain a violin... [more]
Truths about the sinking of the Kursk were lost forever in the silent mass of buckled metal and dead sailors that lay on the deep seabed... [more]
Jane Smiley ought to have used her powers to write brilliantly on Charles Dickens. Instead, she’s a nervous author on her very best behavior... [more]
On the black scrag piles,
Where the loose cords plop,
As the raw wind whines
In the thin tree-top. Plop, plop.
Bad verse never dies... [more]
Chicago 1995: for seven days in July the city sweltered, power failed, air conditioners stopped, and in the end 739 people were dead... [more] ... [more]
Raymond Chandler may have hated Los Angeles, but his literary art turned that city into a potent and enduring object of nostalgia ... [more]
The desperate self-deceptions of John Polkinghorne’s efforts to prove God exists show that in the end fantasy and illusion beat reason every time... [more]
It’s the last sacred cow left in Sanskrit studies: the myth that beef wasn’t eaten in ancient India. Hindus can now head for their local McDonald’s... [more] ... [more]
In a good sex scene at least one partner must really want it. The exact details of the setting - bed, car, closet, underpass - are critical... [more]
Is the availability of guns a big factor in crime and violence? No, says Joyce Lee Malcolm, and the histories of Britain and the U.S. prove it... [more]
Martin Amis’s early love of sci-fi gave him an apocalyptic take on the world. He’s applied it to the bomb, the Holocaust, and now Josef Stalin... [more]
The trenches of WWI: the odor of rotting humans, horses, rats, and food mixed with the stench of poison gas and excrement. Death everywhere... [more]
Murder is evil. But if the victim is a brutish old man who has enslaved his pretty young wife? And the doctor who murders is in love with her?... [more]
“I am resolutely opposed to all innovation, all change,” said Marshall McLuhan, “but I am determined to understand what is happening.” So did he?... [more]
Cats have not bothered to make themselves useful to us, unlike dogs. Lazy, with no sense of altruism, they keep their own silent feline agenda... [more]
For years, “all new ideas have bubbled up from the right wing,” claims Ann Coulter. Oh? What about Air Jordans? Pizza Hut Stuffed-Crust Pizza?... [more]
Relationships begin when you like something about someone. But they require you to live with everything about that person. Love may not compute... [more]
In the warm afterglow of sole-superpower triumphalism, to knock the Constitution of the United States is an apostasy that takes guts... [more]
Lenins utopia: smash the state and invent a new society with no bureaucracy, army, or police. Next to this, Stalinism stands for a return to common sense... [more]
Travel: try Egypt or Tibet, or mount a pajama-clad expedition to the bedroom window to gaze at the Milky Way. Finding beauty is the point... [more]
Greenwich Village: the place where Edgar Allan Poe could score drugs in the 1840s and Henry James could stroll past grazing cows in the 1890s... [more]
Those blood-pressure pills: are they effective against strokes and heart attack? Are you sure? And what about those “life-saving” breast x-rays?... [more]
Poet and firebrand José Martí used his pen to fight for Cuba libre! — and to write of Goethe, Coney Island, Walt Whitman, and Buffalo Bill... [more]
Maybe dolphins and whales can teach us something about being human. But they can more likely teach us about being dolphins and whales... [more]
“Flitty flies” is how the Duke of Windsor refers to the more, uh, effeminate chaps in the Royal household. Here’s a gossipy memoir of one... [more]
Sure, Mozart’s letters show he was a vulgar comedian. But is it so odd that the composer of the Requiem should write his cousin, “I shit on your nose”?... [more]
H.G. Wells’s Outline of History was a best seller in 1920. To real historians, it was a rubbish heap. It’s a sign of better times that it wouldnt get a publisher today... [more]
Do you spend too much time walking the dog? Kill hours in day-dreams? Waste half a day on Arts & Letters Daily? You may be a member of the creative class... [more]
Chesley Bonestell, the artist who launched a thousand spaceships, imagined planetary scenes that astonish us today in their prescience... [more]
It had Jim Crow till the 1960s, and was last to ban flogging. Delaware: rapacious parasite state with a history of avarice and disloyalty... [more]. The state defended... [scroll down]
8:15 A.M., 3,623 other planes in the sky, and captain read the oddest message: “There has been a terrorist attack. Shut down all access to the flight deck”... [Part I] ... [Part II]
There is obvious pleasure in exposing wine snobs, even more than art snobs. So can world experts tell, let’s say, a red from a white in a blind test?... [more]
The greatest generation. Yes, it showed nobility in its brave response to Pearl Harbor. But don’t forget, it was also the last lynching generation... [more]
While tool-making evolved to a high level in primates, other species can do it too. Betty’s bent-wire creations show she is both a genius and a crow... [more]
Gossip. Is it corrupt, a way to spread lies and destroy lives, or should it be viewed as an idle relaxation that enhances our grasp of human nature?... [more]
The Nash Equilibrium, a fine tool for picking up women in bars and solving puzzles of goods distribution, would work better if agents were rational... [more]
The strength of Islam is sheer illusion, says V.S. Naipaul. “Terrorists can fly a plane, but they can’t build a plane. They can’t build those towers”... [more]
The new buildings at Ground Zero must be more splendid and symbolic of New York than the original WTC itself, says Frederick Turner... [more]
Whores and old buildings can gain respectability over time, but the defiant longevity of director Leni Riefenstahl has not improved her reputation... [more]
Plagiarism has an odd feature in common with kleptomania: the culprit often wants somehow to get caught. So consider Doris Kearns Goodwin... [more]
Slutty behavior is good for the species. Women’s promiscuity binds communities closer and helps to improve the gene pool... [more]
In one creepy painting by the artist Thomas Kinkade there is light in all 26 windows of a house and smoke rising from all 9 chimneys. Arson, no doubt... [more]
When combined, nature and architecture are transformed. The experience of a building changes with the seasons, and nature has aesthetics... [more]
Mohammed Atta was a brilliant but quiet student of urban conservation. Then he became infamous as a mass murderer. Whence the change?... [more]
“Rapist pedophiles dressed as clowns slashed terrified toddlers with knives and filmed them in sex sessions”. Or so the papers said... [more]
The Chinese Communist Party faces a crisis of governance: officials hire thugs to collect taxes, while public cynicism, and even overt unrest, blooms... [more]
Artists are intrigued by the drama of science. But intrigue is not enough: to make science the handmaiden of art you also have to understand it... [more]
Emile Zola, “the apostle of the gutter,” was redeemed in the left’s eyes by J’Accuse: he was suddenly the champion of truth and justice... [more]
Except for Napoleon, de Gaulle, and perhaps Robespierre, no French commoner, let alone a woman, ever climbed as high as Mme. de Pompadour... [more]
Great paintings seldom give us scenes in the rain. Looming storms and slick streets, perhaps. It’s movies that really love rain... [more]
“If Beethoven can be compared with a thunderstorm, Mozart is an eternally sunny day.” Oh? Never a cloud, a drop of rain to break the monotony?... [more]
T.S. Eliot’s sex life: a sad and desolate topic. He was 26, and almost certainly a frustrated virgin, when in 1915 he married Vivienne Haigh-Wood... [more]
Locked in her lonely linguistic prison, Wendy Lesser waits for a merciful guard — a perfect translator — to come along with keys to unlock her cell... [more]
Christopher Hitchens, saying he can no longer abide the company of those who view John Ashcroft as a greater menace than Osama bin Laden, has quit The Nation... [more]. “We must fight Iraq!”
Gettysburg: the mad bravery of the Pickett’s Charge, Lee’s audacity, Lincoln’s stunning words. Yet the meaning of this battle eludes us still... [more]
Slobodan Milosevic’s tastes run to thrillers in both English and Serbian: Wilbur Smith and Robert Ludlum. He also enjoys John Steinbeck... [more]
Pornographer, prophet, racist, drunk, misogynist, nihilist, moralist? Great writer, martyr to freedom? The jury’s still out on Michel Houellebecq... [more] ... [more]
If Romania can kill off a tyrant and muddle toward modernity, why not Iraq, with its educated, energetic people and rich oil reserves?... [more]
Clockwork mechanism: was it invented in the Renaissance? No: those amazing Greeks show again not only that they had a word for it, they had it... [more]
William Phillips, founder and editor of Partisan Review, a man who refused “to lick Stalin’s boots,” is dead at 94. Obits: Guardian ... Telegraph ... Boston Globe ... NY Times
“It’s my favorite comic strip,” a teenage boy once wrote to the creator of Little Orphan Annie. John Updike knew a great cartoon when he saw it... [more]
Pity the poor book reviewer, her desk piled high with vanity press or self-published dross. The phone rings, and it’s yet another pestering author... [more]
A home smells of cooking. If we want respect and love, we must eat together. We can conquer obesity, too: stop grazing, stop gorging... [more]
Having spent years trying to grasp the pull of luxury, James Twitchell has come more to sympathize with its virtues and forgive its excesses... [more]
For Theodor Adorno, music must be politically progressive, speak without sentimentality about suffering and its social origins. A big task... [more]
Rolling back radical Islam: from Detroit to Jakarta, a vivid religion flourishes, one which presents a gorgeous potential. Let’s consider its better face... [more]
Pauline, as everyone called her, Women’s Affairs Minister in Rwanda, was a genocidal monster who turned her son into a murdering rapist... [more]
If the Kurds play their cards with skill, they may come out well after a US-led offensive against Baghdad. But they want more than just a voice in Iraq... [more]
Art conservation is a primary job for any curator. But what if an artist creates a work that is intended to putrefy? What is the curator to conserve?... [more]
Give Moonlight a chance. On an aged Steinway in Ramallah, Daniel Barenboim plays and teaches to the delight of Palestinian students... [more]
Proust says that in fashion and art we need new names. We’ve had Harold Bloom’s before us for a long time. He presents a bloat worth puncturing... [more]
The fall: he does not look down. He looks straight ahead to his doom. There is a terrifying dignity about that image, writes Leon Wieseltier... [more]
Dissident Muslim scholars, the Young Turks of Islamic studies, reject the idea that ills of the Arab world can all be blamed on Great Satan America... [more]
“Man will become better when you show him what he is like,” Chekhov wrote. Showing us what we’re like is Steven Pinker’s life project... [more] ... [more]
The Americans are ill suited to being a superpower, argued Reinhold Niebuhr. They are either embarrassed by power or disguise it as virtue... [more]
75% of Iranians are under age 25. They despise the “public morality police.” Friday prayers attract barely 1% of them. The mullahs are nervous... [more] ... [more]
“Hyperselectionist” was the term Stephen Jay Gould used to abuse Pinker, Dennett, and Dawkins. He was a fox, they were the hedgehogs... [more]
Henri Toulouse-Lautrec’s flair for motion, his insistent, sexual line, shows in works done from Paris brothels in the 1890s, for instance, The Sofa... [more] ... [image]
The Dogon know what seems to be advanced astronomy. Were they taught it by beings who came from Sirius 5000 years ago? Great story, but... [more]
If gneiss, Clepsydra, Gaullist, ducal, oxylophyte, or bidet leave you scratching your head, you’re not ready for the National Spelling Bee... [more]
Saudi princes have grafted a high-tech cultivar onto medieval roots by buying off clerics, Americans, terrorists, and their own benighted people... [more]
With unbowed independence of mind, V.S. Naipaul remains, in his gloomy way, a thorn in the side bien-pensant types of every political stripe... [more]. His Nobel lecture (Real Audio).
The Nation: earnest, dreary, as appetizing as homework. The Weekly Standard: “Hey, we’re having fun over here on the Right!” The Left is so dull and puritanical... [more] ... [more]
The new SAT is not a retreat from standards: it’s better than the old version. Writing ability is at last being tested... [more]. The real losers with the new SAT, says Stanley Kurtz, are “diamonds in the rough.”
Wright brothers? No, no. It was a shy New Zealand cellist and farmer who first took off in a flying machine. Too bad about the landing... [more]
Julia Child, with her hooting voice, her naughty humor, happily slopping about the kitchen. Who’d ever accuse her of insider trading?... [more]
Americans have always recoiled at the idea of a secret police. Yet they have come near to having one with their most dangerous institution, the FBI... [more]
The demographics are clear, and the message familiar: young, exuberant, multi-colored America vs. ageing, decrepit, inward-looking Europe... [more]
Schadenfreude. Why feel guilty pleasure in others’ woes? And why the glee over the troubles of Martha Stewart?... [more]. Maybe we should instead more admire her.
As Ralph Ellison knew from Handel, “Music will not only calm, it will ennoble thee.” For him, the most ennobling music was jazz... [more]
Tunnel of Love. What if the first car of every NYC subway train were to be designated as the place to meet the commuter of your dreams?... [more]
The 100 greatest Britons of all time? Boy George, Diana, Bono, Cliff Richard, and David Bowie, to be sure. Besides, whoever heard of Wordsworth, Byron, Constable, or Keats?... [more] ... [more] ... [more] ... [more]
It was when the checkout clerk at Nature’s Foods asked her for a senior card. That did it. The aging hippie vowed to find herself a plastic surgeon... [more]
Joyce Carol Oates veers from Swift’s dark, embittered vision to the thrill that there really are enough wonderful people in the world... [more]
Immortality. As Woody Allen said, “I don’t want to achieve it through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying.” The search continues... [more]
“My chest tightens and I feel an unpleasant prickling on my brow,” reports a chess player facing Alexandra Kosteniuk. Just fear of losing?... [more]
“Approximately 100% of crop circles are man-made,” says Joe Nickell. “Approximately” to allow, he explains, for dogs chasing their tails... [more]
A designer virus that killed rats and only rats would be a boon for mankind. But what if such a useful, potent technology were hijacked by terrorists?... [more]
Globalization can lift the poor out of misery. But after we’ve heard all the success stories, let’s admit as well that not everyone is a winner... [more]
Cheese, wine, and ideas are major exports of France. The cheese and wine are usually excellent, but the illustrious ideas are often dreadful, argues Robert Fulford... [more]
Music has the power to move us, to trouble us, and even to offend us. How ought we to feel about Jew-hatred in J.S. Bach, or prettified terrorism in John Adams?... [more]
Napoleon Chagnon has been tried by a court of anthropologists for his part in genocide against the Amazon tribe he studied. The verdict? Guilty (of stealing paper clips)... [more]
If med schools disappeared one day, medicine would be in trouble. If journalism schools vanished, newspapers wouldn’t even notice. What does this tell us?... [more]
From 1920 to 1990 the trend of life in the U.S. ran against big cities. But the tide has recently shifted toward the urban: cities are now the place to be... [more]
Oxygen TV wants to create a gossip-laden pink ghetto for a dumbed-down sisterhood. To their credit, women are not buying it... [more]
It displays the virtues of both brevity and expressiveness, is grasped everywhere, and has endless synonyms, from the coy to the coarse. It’s the four-letter word... [more]
Ron Rosenbaum loves words and writing. But what he’d most like to be is a pastry chef. Really, more a full-time connoisseur of pastries. Well, not exactly full time... [more]
Six Feet Under only pretends to take risks. It doesn’t wrestle with moral issues it purports to raise, says Emily Nussbaum, it just gropes them for a thrill... [more]
Concert-hall performance, nearly static to the eye, is now a kind of anti-theatre. Has our culture become too visual to support this way of presenting classical music?... [more]
Muslim immigrants can be happily absorbed into democratic life, as the U.S. has shown. The sad state of Islamic Europe, however, is both a threat and a warning to us all... [more]
For his courageous efforts to foil Hitler, Pope Pius XII was mocked in the Nazi press as a “friend of the Jews.” On this issue, the Nazi press was for once correct... [more]
It’s that calculated rhythm and shrewd manipulation of effect that pushes writing over the line that divides deep literature from light fiction, says Umberto Eco... [more]
Karl Osama bin Marx: the Islamic quest of Al Qaida looks less like a focused revolution and more like ol’ time Marxist utopianism. Jonathan Rauch draws the analogies... [more]
It is hard for modern eyes, long accustomed to graphic news images and X-rated films, to see the Mona Lisa as the mocking seductress she is... [more]
The English language is at the same time both virgin and long clapped-out, and syntax isn’t always what it seems. Eric Griffiths on The Cambridge Grammar... [more]
Arts & Letters Daily readers know that delight in excellence is not mere snobbery. They’re the best kind of elitists, and fellow- reader Joseph Epstein has written a book for them... [more] ... [more]
Were 16th-century convents special spaces where women lived independently and worked creatively? Or were they little more than prisons?... [more]
A dry Oxford philosopher can find it hard to banter with a glamorous star. Colin McGinn would have had more fun if Jennifer Aniston knew her Descartes better... [more]
Jane Kramer proposes to help us to understand militiamen. But by making her example a lonely “loser,” she misses the deeper issues... [more]
Folding the race card. As the ethnic pluralism of America grows, there’s a change in the air: race no longer carries its old political clout... [more]
Harvard University Press is the source, but S.J. Gould’s smug logorrhea make his magnum opus seem more like a vanity press book... [more]
The press lords of old may have been eccentric tyrants, but they were statesmen compared to today’s market-whipped newspaper managers... [more]
Peter the Great’s court was a wild, upside-down Russia, in spirit like Stalin’s. Cruel, but he was an artist who sculpted in flesh instead of stone... [more]
People not content with their place in the world, says Joseph Epstein, succumb to snobbery. And at one time or another, this will include us all... [more]
How do big-name authors find the time to produce all those fat novels? Easy! They simply hire small-name authors to write the books for them... [more]
Corporate crime is a warning to Al Qaida, says P.J. ORourke. If we’ll screw our own grannies on Wall Street, imagine what we’d do to Osama bin Laden... [more]
Orazio Gentileschi: in the end he pulled ahead of Artemisia, expressing even better than his genius daughter the virtues of tender intimacy... [more, images]
What use a research library if students can download all they need off the Web? But is it all they need? Is googling really research”?... [more]
Theodore Dalrymple had just refused drugs to a prisoner in heroin withdrawal. “You’re a butcher, a f***ing butcher!” he screamed. “Take him away,” the doctor ordered... [more]
From the open society to the nature of scientific knowledge, Karl Popper still casts his long shadow — even on those no longer in the Church of Sir Karl... [more]
“I’ve spent my life trying to be good at something,” she said, “medical assistant, warehouse jobs, being a good mom.” But prostitution? “I’m really good at this!”... [more]
The Carol Gilligan vision: free-spirited, plucky girls crushed by patriarchy’s giant thumb, never again to raise their pert little heads. Oh, dear!... [more]
Adjunct profs are an exploited servant class in U.S. academe. No perks, bad pay, and endless commutes from gig to gig, dreaming of a real job... [more]
“Let me tell you about myself,” says the author, unaware of how boring he is. Storytelling, putting the human heart on the head of a pin, is hard, says Jonathan Yardley... [more]. A few more names to reckon with.
If social democracy stutters, it seems postmodernism can only chant. Hardt and Negri try to fill a vast, gaping hole on the Left. They don’t succeed, writes Mitchell Cohen... [more]
While hoi polloi do not show much interest in high culture, it is not undemocratic to promote it at the public expense. Lord Reith had the right idea, says A.C. Grayling... [more]
Whither the British Museum in an age when social inclusion and self-esteem is what the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport really cares about... [more]
Ralph Ellison had lost street cred with black radicals by the 1980s. But as he wrote, perhaps at lower frequencies he still spoke for them... [more]
A home observatory was once only for rich amateurs. Now, if you can afford a new car, you can own a telescope that sees half way back to the Big Bang... [more]
The brutal terrorism of Al Qaida does not demonstrate power but rather weakness, a failure to mobilize the Islamic world, argues Gilles Kepel... [more]
The mutual caricatures of Yanks and Europeans poison our thinking: easily digested and passed into the public bloodstream, they are a sugar rush for the idle and foolish... [more]
As academic insularity grows, and as scholarly-book sales fall, it’s clear, says Mark Bauerlein, that scholars face a shrinking audience of, precisely, themselves... [more]
Are postmodernists the victims of a Joe McCarthy campaign of hate? Stanley Fish thinks so. Edward Rothstein finds the all the witch hunt rhetoric farfetched... [more]. Fish’s piece in PDF.
We have to care about the survival of culture, says Roger Kimball: it is tradition that offers us the deepest, most tested wisdom with which to face the human predicament... [more]
As the New York Times style book says of clichés, “Many are beneath contempt, but some are all to the good; they lend a helping hand and add insult to injury”... [more]
“Young women share the goals of old-time feminism, they just don’t like the packaging.” True in part, says Kay Hymowitz, but there’s still more to the story... [more]
Is the U.S. in decline? Immanuel Wallerstein thinks so. Precisely its success as a power in the postwar period created the conditions of its hegemonic demise, he says... [more]
The Impressionists once seemed wild and crazy. Ansel Adams’s art once seemed chilly and ultra-formalist. But values evolve... [more] ... [more]. The famous Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico.
“No thanks. I’m on mineral water.” Drinkers are not comfortable when one among them does not join in. Stand-alone sobriety creates an instant social hierarchy... [more]
Yard sales. Scholarship needs a plan for a general taxonomy of buyer and seller types: pure browser, dogged haggler, hoarder, ruthless disposer, sentimental ditherer... [more]
Mutual respect, friendship, and support sustain marriage. Hostile criticism, contempt, and withdrawal undermine it. Easy to write, hard to live... [more]
Judith Levine first fell into intense, erotic love when she was 14. Nothing happened with the 26-year-old object of her passion. But what if it had? What crime would it be?... [more]
Beneath his posturing and prophecy, the man who did philosophy with a hammer, Friedrich Nietzsche, was in his own words “human, all too human.”... [more]
Postmodernism is more timely than ever in our post-9/11 world, says Stanley Fish. Ah yes, answers Peter Berkowitz, yet another Fish story... [more]. Last October’s NYT piece.
“It’s the smell of oil and the color of money that corrodes our principles,” said a senator of U.S. coddling of Iraq. And it’s not just Iraq... [more]
The Six-Day War is never quite over in the minds of statesmen, soldiers, and historians. It’s always on the verge of erupting again... [more]
To make a constitution not only for posterity but for all mankind, James Madison studied ancient confederacies to see why they succeeded or failed... [more]
In Martin Amis’s latest, Koba the Dread, Left intellectuals are villains: they failed to condemn the horrors of communism in the 20th century... [more]
How are physicians and their patients to decide on questions of life and death? The hard task isn’t to banish paternalism, it’s to preserve kindness... [more]
Leos Janacek seems today to us an indisputably modern composer. Yet he was born only eleven years after Grieg, ten after Rimsky-Korsakov... [more]
Irma Rombauer was a mediocre cook, but her amateurism is the very reason why The Joy of Cooking has become such a classic guide... [more]
Here’s a sex guide with the size and jollity of a tombstone. It simply oozes the caring New Man (who is really a woman, of course)... [raunch advisory]
Stephen Jay Gould’s virtuoso essays mask a sensitive guy who seeks to burn with a hard, gemlike flame but who also badly wants approval... [more]
The FBI dossier on Einstein runs to 1,427 pages: he was a member, sponsor, or affiliate of 34 communist fronts. If only J. Edgar Hoover... [more]
It’s dangerous and futile to try to advance civil rights by restricting civil liberties. Former NOW activist Tammy Bruce knows well... [more]
When Sophie and Igor run into the yard to sniff last night’s deposits of cat poop, their ignorant master shouts “No!” He has much to learn... [more]
“Today people tend to think the point of sex is pleasure,” says Catherine Millet. “But I don’t think there’s any point to sex at all”... [more]. It’s the strangest book, it’s academic porn, it’s chthonic vulgarity .
Racism seems so much a part of the fabric of recent human history that we suppose it was always with us. The truth is surprisingly otherwise... [more]
Genetic manipulation is like playing god. But then so is using fire, carving stone tools, rotating crops, and flying airplanes... [more]
Upton Sinclair was, like Marx before him, impressed by the creative vitality of capitalism. It’s an irony not lost on Christopher Hitchens... [more]
Enron hired only bright sparks who could think outside the box, says Malcolm Gladwell. Too bad they couldn’t see that the box needed fixing... [more]
How do we tell between those states that are poor because they perform poorly and those that perform poorly because they are poor?... [more]
True confessions: there are two simple ideas which if put in place across the justice system would easily reduce the number of false convictions... [more]
Yousuf Karsh, photographer who irked Churchill by taking away his cigar and then caught the resulting angry, defiant expression, is dead... [CP] ... [NYT] ... [gallery] ... [yet more]
Kitsch artist Thomas Kinkade, The Painter of Light, is under attack not only from the dark forces of art criticism, but also from skeptical investors... [more]
Psychiatry has failed. Neither words nor brain states can take us to the core of our internal lives. We are as badly behaved and miserable as ever... [more]
An economist cant decide if he should marry a woman. So he lists her pros and cons in two columns with “+” and “-”. Now suppose she finds out... [more]
Foreign aid can help economic development and so reduce poverty. But can it bring an end to terrorism? Carol Graham is doubtful... [more]
Mozart! Mozart! Mozart! Nasa used him, but so did Hitler. If Glenn Gould scoffed, for Hector Berlioz he was music’s celestial genius. He is a world... [more]
After being roundly bashed for boycotting the Sidney Hook conference, the neocons look like naïfs mugged by reality. Time for them to rejoin the debate... [more] ... [more]
Opera’s a flawed art form: you cant understand the words. If you think you can, it’s because you know them already, says Craig Raine... [more]
Economist Joseph Stiglitz has long been vilifying the IMF for incompetence and bad faith. Now gloves are off: it’s fight-back time... [more]. A stinging rebuttal, FT update.
As tears welled in the eyes of Karen, an abuse victim, tension rose in the control booth. When her sobbing began, they knew — Wow! — they had a daytime TV ratings winner... [more]
Cartel of good intentions: all these well-meaning graysuits telling people in poor countries how to use their aid dollars. Time to bust it up... [more]
Stunted science, general lack of freedom, and repression of women are endemic in the Arab world, says the UN... [more]. Comment: Victor Davis Hanson and Robert Fisk. The full UN Report.
An enormous pedophile ring has been found to be operating in the U.S., says Christopher Hitchens. It’s not a minor cult, like Waco, but a major institution... [more]
In the ancient world the ship of state derived its keel and ballast from the minds of poets. Imagine a poet today writing, say, a convention speech for Senator Bob Dole... [more]
Sugar and spice? Of course not, says Carol Tavris. Women are mean, scream around, spread ugly rumors, lie on résumés. After all, women are people... [more]
Arturo Toscanini broke batons, tore up scores, screamed obscenities, threw music stands into the empty auditorium. His tantrums were even recorded by NBC engineers... [more]
The Depression’s choking dust storms forced the destitute Okies westward, as John Steinbeck so vividly told. Once in California, they and their offspring made Ronald Reagan governor... [more]
Through reading and travel, we escape the deadening effects of habit, says Alain de Botton. That’s why a journey and a book make perfect companions... [more]
Just when you thought you were up to date with technology, along comes Uncle Widget to pluck cash from your wallet for the mandatory move from VHS to DVD... [more]
Picasso was left handed, and so was Einstein. Actually not. Lefties are smarter, more sensitive than others. Not really. Well, they are victimized. Sort of, says Robert Fulford... [more]
“The great lesson of life,” says the shy, donnish Michael Frayn, “is that you never learn any lessons.” Just when you think to use the wisdom you’ve earned — surprise... [more]
Some enchanted evening, you may see a stranger. And if your name were Richard Rodgers, you’d just walk right up to her and blurt out, “Do you want to —”... [more]
Rick Perlstein expected yet another occasion to play out the culture wars of the 1980s. But what he found at the annual meeting of the Historical Society came as a surprise... [more]
Paranoid frenzy rules Baghdad, with torture and killing by Saddam’s gangsters. Yeah, but what about those dead babies?... [more] ... [more]. In the meantime, the Anointed One awaits his day of glory.
Many millions of people suffer from diseases that could be helped by embryonic stem-cell therapy. So why is Leon Kass willing to write them off?... [more] ... [more]
Sigmund Freud was a gifted writer whose knack for metaphors touched the mystery and paradox of our deepest inner lives. But was he really a scientist? [more]
Having a low IQ is not the same as being insane. If a man is competent to stand trial and is fairly convicted of murder, shouldn’t he pay the same price as any other killer?... [more]
Israel-bashing is not the same as Jew-baiting of old. It is really for today the anti-imperialism of educated fools, says Mick Hume... [more]. The Left should pay heed, warns Todd Gitlin.
Biotechnology is conceived as a utopian answer to disease and suffering, violence and war. But has it ever really been the easy, innocent cure for human ills?... [more]
Nietzsche’s disciples came to see his madness as a mark of genius: he’d glimpsed a reality too vast and terrible for the rest of us... [more]
Herman Melville’s life of bad luck and disaffection ended after his own generation had already long thought him dead... [more]
Before his final plunge down a stairwell, Primo Levi’s dark night of the soul led him to think that he’d felt stronger, more alive even in Auschwitz... [more]
Toby Young was sure he was in love with shallowness. But the ugly side of the beautiful people in publishing disabused him of his affection ... [more]
Does information want to be free? Did anyone ever ask what it thinks? Does “free” mean the same in “free speech” as in “free lunch”?... [more]
Shakespeare’s plays can be great fun for those who don’t know anything of the English of his day. If you do know, they can be even greater fun... [more]
A freakish talent, Chet Baker had only two things in life: his trumpet and his drugs. Like a wicked angel, he left few lives unruined in his wake... [more]
Globalization is not much help for many poor countries, and the Russian reforms have been botched, says Joseph Stiglitz... [more] ... [more] ... [still more]. Not so, says Brink Lindsey.
Did Descartes’s daughter come to be because of his one slip from chastity, at age 38? Yes: and she was the prettiest Dutch girl ever to milk a cow... [more]
Liberalism colors what we feel, think, detest, and desire. It does not determine our politics, but it gives us our moral premises... [more]
Gin, favorite tipple of queens and their maids, made farmers and distillers rich, as it made life more palatable for a vast swath of humanity... [more]
André Breton once dared the Surrealists to go “down into the street, pistol in hand, and shoot at random into the crowd.” Life does, alas, imitate art... [more] ... [more]
Some scientists are amazed by his courage, others by his chutzpah. Stephen Wolfram thinks they have all left nature itself underestimated... [more]
America’s victory at the end of the Cold War was Pyrrhic, says Philip Bobbitt, if it no longer champions values that are worth defending... [more]
Plagiarized literature and fake art are actually authentic and creative, writes Nick Groom. Oh please, groans Alex Beam, spare us the tiresome clichés of postmodernism... [more]
Orwell’s Victory. The lies and libels George Orwell’s enemies poured over him were useless, and truth prevailed in the end. They lost. He won... [more]
Global trading system is unfair? Rich countries are wicked? It’s hypocritical to ask poor nations to remove tariffs? Think again, says Jagdish Bhagwati... [more]
Ann Landers, sob sister who gave middle America witty, sensible advice on issues from acne to adultery to AIDS, is dead... [more]
No one yet knows how to make therapeutic cloning work, or which of its touted uses will pan out and which will not, says Robert Weinberg... [more]
The Rolling Stones’s coming tour, sure to cause cringing, has been boosted by rumors that Viagra is a sponsor... [more]. But who cares?
Terrorism has nothing to do with poverty or the lack of education. It’s the actual content of the education of terrorists that matters... [more]
Scientific medicine does not work in every case. But that is no excuse to go seeking cures in the airy realms of mystical balderdash... [more]
Design theorists” in cheap tuxedos slip religion into schools pretending it’s science. Watch out: their violin cases don’t contain violins... [more]
As non-credible risks become more credible, we’re in danger of numerical overload. That’s why we revert to emotions in risk assessment... [more]
Sleep is not waking time wasted in the arms of Morpheus, but activity essential for psychic well-being. Einstein needed 10, even 11 hours... [more]
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If you find a huge footprint, there’s only one thing that could make it: Bigfoot. Maybe... [more]
Rockefeller, Kennedy, Taft, Bush, Gore: America is well on its way to being an aristocracy of rich families. Kevin Phillips is alarmed... [more]
Take on religion and you earn few friends. Add angels, UFOs and astrology to your targets, and things get very lonely. Just ask Paul Kurtz ... [more]
Lennox Lewis grinned like a giant cat who’d got the cream. >From his gold couch, he purred, “Look at me, I’m at the top of the food chain”... [more]
Environmental scare stories need both a catastrophe and a culprit. A looming Ice Age offers only the former. Global warming, however... [more]
Academic feminists try their best to be inclusive when it comes to such things as race, ethnicity, class, age, ability. Everything, in fact, except politics ... [more]
One well-played Mozart opus is at the limit of human endurance, says Norman Lebrecht. Four is torture — drowning in sherry or choking on marzipan... [more]
Palestinians: you have never faced a worse moment, nor one so hopeful. Cease self-delusion, reject suicide bombers, build your free state, says Edward Said... [more]
His language was clumsy, his ideas were fuzzy, his arguments were not particularly original. Then why were so many people so much in awe of Isaiah Berlin?... [more]
The frantic obsession by the media with the far right in Europe says more about insecure elites than it does about today’s political reality, says Brendan ONeill... [more]
Biography is an art most assiduously cultivated by the British. It springs from an undying love of the unique, eccentric individual, writes Michael Holroyd... [more]
Black Americans were held in thrall by the bad ideas of their leaders, Glenn C. Loury used to believe. Lately, he has come to think he was wrong... [more] ... [more]
“Be gentle with me,” plead macho conductors, “it’s my first time.” What they mean is that it’s their first time being reviewed by a woman music critic... [more]
Asian-Americans are often viewed as superbrainy nerds and geeks, but almost none are public intellectuals, notes Frank Wu. They are too polite, perhaps?... [more]
Joe Ellis’s fantasies, the liftings of Stephen Ambrose and Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Michael Bellesiles’s disturbing problems: it’s been a bad year for historians. So next... [more]
Are you a snob? Of course you are. Look at your daily diet of Web reading. Why can’t you be happily mediocre, like other folks? That Joseph Epstein, he’s just like you... [more]
Let’s call the elephant by its name: many boys have been seduced or forced into homosexual acts by some Catholic priests, says Mary Eberstadt... [more]
We need more education and real knowledge, not educationist tripe, all vague, full of feel-good emotion, self-esteem, and the correct politics, writes Louis Menand... [more]
People once multiplied like rabbits, now they’re dropping like flies. Novelists can’t decide what to fear the most, biological overload or human extinction... [more]
Samuel Huntington’s moment has arrived, except that we were saying the same of Francis Fukuyama until recently. Can we reconcile these deeply different viewpoints?... [more]
Germany is an insufferably dowdy land of perpetual students, all of them either hysterical or depressed. What these people really need is a nice Queen... [more]
Frida Kahlo: now that this crippled, communist, bisexual, boozing, driven, tragic, drug-addicted, abused, Latina artist and role model is on dorm walls and coffee mugs everywhere, let’s have the movie... [more]
A novel is politely known as a work of the imagination, writes Martin Amis, who is coming to terms with the fact than on September 11th, the imagination was hijacked... [more]
Oscar Wilde, brilliant, witty, spoiled brat of a man, began in prison to see the values of truth, sincerity, and goodness. By then it was too late, says Theodore Dalrymple... [more]
What must a judge do who, for religious or moral scruples, cannot enforce the death penalty? There is but one answer, says Justice Antonin Scalia: resign... [more]
Sergei Rachmaninoff was once viewed with contempt by the music world’s sophisticated elite. It was one more curious chapter in the history of taste... [more]
People are equal, cultures are not. The Enlightenment belongs to all humanity. It’s only Western by an accident of geography and history, says Kenan Malik... [more]
Posterior cleavage is not just for the plumber anymore. Trendy girls sit on barstools, jeans tugged down, exposing their rears like baboons in heat... [more]
Is the art of Pablo Picasso hard to grasp? Not at all. Once he got the formula, he regurgitated it. Did he change the course of history? Oh, yes. But so did Hitler... [more]
Films can shoot for the truth, says Mark Cousins, but they must also say something about cinema. Don’t let the message overrun the medium... [more]
No Jacques Derridas or Stanley Fishes for Catholic colleges. They want the truth of man’s reason, the beauty of great art, and the grandeur of moral universals... [more]
What harm could lurk in the tender lines of a lovely poem? “None,” says Edna OBrien. “None whatsoever. Only in the poisoned megalomaniacal minds of tyrants”... [more]
The best comic book is always better than a movie. It’s monumental and breezy at the same time, and leaves direct evidence of a human touch, closer to art than industry... [more]
The Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus. Or is the better image that of a Yankee Gulliver tied down by Lilliputians? Robert Kagan on a widening gulf... [more]
Time was, the family portrait in our office was a proud show-off that we had it all. Now, it’s more of a pictorial admission of our guilt, our longing... [more]
Britains hyperactive MPs, driven by big business and fringe groups, pass law after law without checking for mistakes of grammar, let alone thought... [more]
Enigmatic, passionate, vatic, absurd, nauseating, and often offering stunning insights: it’s the mad genius of Friedrich Nietzsche... [more]
Marcus Tullius Cicero’s life shows both the vast gulf between Rome’s world and ours, and also that human motives never change... [more]
Sinclair Lewis, with his red hair, crumpled face, manic zest, and manic writing, was not a hick, although he could pose as one when it suited him... [more]
Modern etiquette. What do you do with that awkward wad of gum? Care too much and you’re a snob. Care too little and you’re a slob... [more]
So a woman has only to take off her clothes and gyrate a little for men to be stricken with desire? A delusion of female power, says Germaine Greer... [more]
Was Hollywood so far out to the Left in the good ol’ days of Joe McCarthy? Indeed, it was, red-baiters and Cultural Studies profs agree... [more]
We tell boys that reading books is so very important, and it’s for everyone. We show them that reading books is something women do... [more]
Dawkins vs. Gould. One a mere reductionist, the other allied to the creationists? Kim Sterelny takes a cool look at a rather hot dispute... [more]
Psychopharmaceutical use is stuck too often at a level where “research” is little more than anecdotes that never tell us if the drug really works... [more]
Brains can be a problem, or not. Like the peacock’s tail, the human mind has evolved as a result of the way we pick our mates... [more]
The great Kamasutra is fanciful, dangerous nonsense. It’s not to be read in bed while drinking, or to be held with only one hand... [more]
Slave writings are judged by their veracity, not aesthetics. They must be titillating for the prurients without offending the prudes... [more]
American Jesuits, papists who hate the Pope, evangelists who’ve lost their faith, now accept the graying in order to expedite the gaying... [more]
Stop fretting and let cloning be, says Gregory Stock. The market place will soon winnow out ethical abuses of genetic engineering... [more] ... [more]
Did Nietzsche hide behind the voice of a priapic, exuberant Zarathustra to express his own cloaked homosexuality? There’s this theory... [more]
Einsatzgruppen units sent their reports back home to Adolf Hitler, the ultimate armchair murderer... [more]. Then there were the Nazis’ Jewish soldiers.
When she was a lass she could not wait to get to the end of a novel. Now Wendy Lesser values the journey, not the arrival. Hence, Henry James... [more]
It’s an irreparable loss for us all, to lose a language: it obliterates forever yet another alternative way of making sense of experience... [more]
The painter must lay colors on crudely, Van Gogh said: “Time will tone them down.” It has, and his vibrant chrome yellow has lost its lustre... [more]
Had Philo Farnsworth, the man who gave us TV, worked with RCA, instead of fighting it, he’d perhaps have died rich, happy, and sober... [more]
Capitalism has triumphed, the only game on the globe. Statist socialism is dead. And Karl Marx predicted it all? Well, sort of... [more]
Postcolonialism has entered its midlife crisis, full of backbiting and dissent. Postmodernism? It’s the bane of Third World intellectuals... [more]
Extreme sexual violence of the fall of Berlin in 1945 beggars imagination. It was Bruegel plus Munch, with music by an agonized Shostakovich... [more]
Kevin Phillips’s new book will drive conservatives ’round the bend. He’s Benedict Arnold to Republicans and Cassandra to the republic at large... [more]
Most computer programs are buggy, bloated, and poorly written. Don’t worry, we’ll fix them with regulators, lawyers, and judges... [more]
Wines million-dollar nose. Is Robert Parker, the god of wine punditry, as infallible as we’ve been led to believe?... [more] ... [more]
The Webby Awards winners have been named at a glittering bacchanal in San Francisco. And the popular vote in the News category went to... [more]
“My wife is dead, I’ve strangled her,” wailed Louis Althusser. There were in fact two victims that Sunday morning, his wife and his philosophy... [more]
Baby panic? Relax, ladies. Once high achieving women marry, having children takes care of itself. The real worry is about finding the right man... [more]
Werner Heisenberg’s trip to Copenhagen in 1941 was not unlike Rudolf Hess’s ill-fated attempt a few months before to stop the war against Britain... [more]
Comrade Chairman was furious. “We expect to read lies about Comrade Stalin in the capitalist bourgeois press. But in our own papers?”... [more]
“No man is a hero to his valet,” it is said. And that’s okay, until the hero finds out that his valet has secretly signed a lucrative tell-all book contract... [more]
Government ought to be exempt from paying the real costs of its regulations. Otherwise it will be too expensive even to exist, says Steven Landsburg... [more]
The idea was to write a script for a porn movie that would be so intelligent and witty that the bad acting couldn’t ruin it. Well, that was the idea... [more]
While grandfather plumbed the depths of the mind, it is living, dead, and decaying flesh that catches the eye of grandson Lucian Freud... [more]
“If Daniel had his choice, he’d want it seen,” says the Boston Phoenix editor of his decision to feature a recent snuff movie out of Pakistan... [more]
The early New Left, says Kevin Mattson, sought to adapt liberal ideas to changing historical circumstances, not to discard all of them... [more]
Organ transplants are viewed as witchcraft by some Africans, with hearts, eyes, and genitals imparting wealth or fertility. And not just Africans... [more]
Amsterdam 1660: best bread, best paintings and pub music, finest dogs, most dazzling women. No kings, no wars, says Simon Schama... [more]
Music-industry execs and rock stars once ruled the planet. Now the music industry is looking oddly like book publishing, minus the literacy... [more]
Wiffle ball is all over America’s backyards. The ball must be dented, softened, squashed, or otherwise disfigured. You got a problem with that?... [more]
Robert Mugabe was once upon a time a great revolutionary. Now he’s a spiteful tyrant, filled with hate, clinging to power at all costs... [more]
Ramming more and more young folk into higher education will ultimately make a more wealthy society. If you think that, better think again... [more]
The semicolon, a vague device cleverly used to hide sloppy thinking, is epidemic. Time to bring back periods and commas, says Paul Robinson... [more]
It’s democracys drink now, but a prohibitionist in 1918 named the most menacing German enemies of America as “Pabst, Schlitz, Blatz, and Miller”... [more]
A philosopher’s work can be detached and left floating free from the flawed and messy life that produced it. So why bother with biography?... [more]
“We can’t blow up, only bleed to death,” says Wall Street guru Nassim Taleb. But to bleed from small cuts is what we are all hardwired to avoid... [more]
The Elderly Person and the Sea. For the sake of our youth, fiction must be sanitized: no more race, religion, sex, nudity, alcohol, or profanity... [more]
Smokers know exactly what they’re up to, says Kip Viscusi, though jurors often don’t. Using tobacco is not irrational... [more] ... [still more]
Wong Brothers Laundry wants you to know: “Two Wongs can make it white!” Hang on, is this t-shirt racist and offensive, or what?... [more]
We can worry, we can sweat. We can pass all the laws we want. We can plead, we can argue. But no matter what, human cloning is going to happen... [more]. Or maybe not.
“Nothing matters.” Poets who like to cultivate this attitude as a principled pose deserve all the attention they get. Which is not much, observes Robert Bové... [more]
Technologically, the U.S. is at the top. Gastronomically, it’s the pits, says Theodore Dalrymple. Too bad that it is today the world’s only culinary superpower... [more]
End of history? End of the Modern Age? What we really need an end to, says Frank Furedi, is fear of our permanently risky, uncertain, but exciting future... [more]
Despite what your English teacher told you, literature doesn’t make society or us better. As for books chosen for moral goodness by civic officials — Blecch!... [more]
Looking for the best weapons against terrorism? Check out cubicles in the offices of high-tech start-ups. Open the briefcases of venture capitalists, says David Rothkopf... [more]
Pornophilia and pedophilia sit rather nervously side-by-side in the latest fashion fad: getting rid of pubic hair. Rachel Johnson tells more than you ever wanted to know... [more]
Despoiling a grand old song. Why do Americans permit elderly rockers, divas, and musical solipsists to ruin The Star-Spangled Banner? Tunku Sahib wants to know... [more]
George Orwell’s astonishing mind. He is the prophet who identified the deepest obsessions we would still be fretting over half a century after his death... [more] ... [more]
In our media-driven society, where the democratic spirit tends to argue for extremes, balance is boring. Aristotle knew it was beautiful, a human perfection... [more]
“I only know one thing, and that is to shout to my children, ‘Long live Life!’ But it’s so hard to do, while I am ripped apart by pain.” Alphonse Daudet’s syphilis diary... [more]
Young architects will strive to create a personal voice, since critical recognition demands it. So do you want such a striving young careerist to design your house?... [more]
G.C. Lichtenberg said he’d give his life to know the average barometric pressure in paradise. He never found out, but his aphorisms show he knew pressures in the human heart... [more]
Stephen Wolfram’s faith in his cellular automata is boundless. They explain all, from physics to biology. But an insect, a Chopin prelude?... [more]
The rollicking yet exact prose of H.L. Mencken, intensely honest even when wrong, still agitates, annoys, and thrills thoughtful readers... [more]
Her clubfoot demagogue of a husband gave her six beautiful children. Magda Goebbels killed them all in the bunker before taking cyanide herself... [more]
Elmore Leonard’s novels are howdunits, not whodunits. His plots are all there for all to see: it’s the quick endgame moves that surprise us... [more]
Jane Austen adored to go on jolly outings to the theatre: she would have relished to see her Emma turned into the movie Clueless... [more]
Elisha Graves Otis, with his new-fangled safety elevator, was more than anyone else the man who gave rise to the modern city... [more]
Do you teach your students about natural selection? Told them the story of the peppered moth that darkened as trees turned black? Oops!... [more]
Napoleon Bonaparte, his soul cold as steel, Pol Pot in culottes, precursor of Adolf Hitler: in sum, a man nasty, brutish, and short... [more]
Dr. Johnson praised the brave highwayman who faces you, rather than coming from behind your back. The gentleman robber has a history... [more]
Johnny Cash became the voice for the downtrodden, with his leather skin, smoker’s cough, and that sense he’d come back from the edge... [more]
The clash between fossil and molecular evolution is a drama of modern biology. Two lines of evidence give two histories for life, says Mark Ridley... [more]
FDR mixed bad martinis while Eleanor was numb to pleasure. Thus did the Roosevelts serve the worst food in White House history... [more]
Brambles and weeds grow thick over John Marshall’s grave. If this great jurist does not find lasting rest beneath them, it is for good reason... [more]
For Michael Ruse, Original Sin is the victory of selfish over moral behavior, and part of the biological package: it’s simply being human... [more]
Peggy Guggenheim’s mission in 1940 was simple. Be it a Klee, Dali, Picasso, Braque, Léger, Miro, or Kandinsky: to buy a painting a day... [more]
Robert Caro cannot quite stifle his shocked distaste for Lyndon Johnson’s barnyard vulgarity. Molly Ivins is surprised Caro is surprised... [more]
If we’re to explain sex to kids, tell them it’s a sea of clear water, riptides, dark depths, and rocky shoals. It offers as much danger as bliss... [more]
To be revived from their urban sclerosis, rust-belt cities need to get a shot of the creative class. Bring on the queers and the rockers!... [more] ... [more]
Mildred Wirt Benson, whose smart, resourceful girl sleuth, Nancy Drew, inspired millions of young women, has died at age 96... [more] ... [more] ... where she worked
Irving Berlin loved the rude wit and terse phrases of everyday argot. They allow the singer to hoot with joy, and the audience to join in... [more]
Sex hormones affect our brains from the start. That’s why men and women behave differently, have different ways of seeing and knowing... [more]
Turntablists. Furiously scratch a record, moving the vinyl back and forth under the needle. Hey, it’s a valid art form. You’re a musician already!... [more]
Dead WivesClub. “Blue was better for you,” wrote Ted Hughes in grief for his wife. “Blue was wings. But the jewel you lost was blue”... [more]
All over the world and despite differing crime rates, the ratio of female/male violence remains the same: by far, men are the violent sex... [more]
Catherine Millet has issued a dare to every human being who claims to be sexually free. No woman has ever written a book like this... [more] ... [still more] ... pictured interview .
The explosion of textiles, tools, and cave art happened 50,000 years ago when hominid hands ceased making gestures and people began to speak... [more]
Stephen Jay Gould, biologist and essayist of staggering range and brilliance, is dead at age 60. Obits: NY Times ... AP ... Washington Post ... Reuters ... Boston Globe ... UPI ... London Times ... NYT Editorial. He was the man who rewrote Darwin ... An interview ... He was bad for evolution ... It’s a chancy business ... His books and essays ... Gould on cancer.
Martha Stewart does and has it all: cleaning her canary cage, baking pies, commanding her empire. We love her. We hate her. We buy her stuff... [more]
In the hands of bad painters, says Lucian Freud, all portraits look like self-portraits. When good painters paint themselves, you can hardly tell... [more]
Palestinians and Israelis are in dire need of adult supervision. It might just be that the U.S. could supply it. Robert Wright explains some ratios... [more]
Dostoevsky’s wild youth ended with a mock-execution and Siberia. He died a reactionary, says Joseph Frank, a dark figure in world literature... [more] ... [more]
Book club? Pick up some guy at a meeting of a book club? “I don’t want a man who cries reading The Shipping News,” says Jenny Colgan. “I want one who reads Practical Mechanic”... [more]
Reactionary right-wingers are a threat to Europe. But wait...that one’s for casual gay sex and legal drugs. And that one’s black. Bugger. It’s all so damned confusing... [more]
Performance Today: NPR’s prime music program hasn’t been axed after all: it’s been stripped nude and forced to prance about in public like a village idiot... [more]. Is classical music dying?
Meritocracy. Our children grow up in a world of tough challenges and painful failures. Life is not easy just because they live amid plenty, says David Brooks... [more]
Bring back colonialism, says Robert Fisk. Yes, it will mean a foreign occupation of Jerusalem and nearby parts, but it will put an end to an unspeakably filthy war... [more]
Dinesh DSouza was puzzled by his grandfather’s anti-white racism. But the very colonialism that was bad for the grandfather was good for the grandson... [more]
Religions and their theologies have till the present day pursued little else than the elevation of dogma, says Wole Soyinka, even to the point of torture and massacre... [more]
The Ugly European. You’re six times more likely to be mugged in London than New York, says Mark Steyn. In France, Le Pen is gone for now, but a bad odor lingers... [blood pressure advisory]
Tossing out old books, Ian Jack heard them reproaching him: “You haven’t read me in a long time.” Or, with Silas Marner, pleading, “But you never read me”... [more]
The kind of writer most detested by Cynthia Ozick is the one who uses fiction as a tool of political power. When it comes to literature, she’s an aesthete... [more]
Revolutionary movements tend to attract big personalities who use ideological battles for petty point scoring. Feminism, for example... [more]
The main articulation of what makes Canadians Canadian is usually heard in the form of a loud, sustained, mordant chant: We are not Americans!... [more]
Brainy White House advisors are these days hard to tell from journalists, profs, or pundits: they certainly are as ambitious and self-serving... [more]
Indian civilization is so much wiser, older, and more spiritual than, uh, Mickey Mouse, says Arundhati Roy, in her perfect Bloomsbury accent... [more]
Unless he wants to be the same kind of politician he pretends to despise, Ralph Nader needs to stop treating facts like pastries in a buffet line... [more]
“Human speech,” Flaubert said, “is like a cracked cauldron on which we bang out tunes that make bears dance, when what we want is to move the stars to pity”... [more]
September 11th demands clear, honest thinking. But neither Gore Vidal, Dinesh D’Souza, nor William Bennett can resist kneejerk rhetoric... [more]
Lucky Jim shows us a crucial divide between the little guy and the small man. It was a difference Kingsley Amis knew well... [more]
Man bites dog. Chews, then swallows. In our globalized economy we’re supposed to tolerate others’ culinary tastes. Korean chefs agree... [more]
Ladies: do you long for deep, abiding happiness? Stay home, bake cookies, have babies. Or you’ll be decrepit by forty, chardonnay and TV your sad companions... [more]
Are you descended from Queen Nefertiti, Confucius, or the Prophet Muhammad? You may not think so, but then Daniel Boone and Hermann Göring are cousins... [more]
Stephen Wolfram is awfully sure of himself, as you’d have to be if you thought you had the key to reality, the deepest idea in science... [more] ... [more]
Canadians, alas, can incline toward envy when they see other Canadians doing too well. It’s time to cut Alice Munro down to size... [more]
Luc Ferry, philosopher, critic of Foucault and Derrida, and a man known for his bullshit-detection skills, has landed in Jacques Chirac’s new cabinet... [more]
David Riesman, whose book, The Lonely Crowd, shaped social thought for decades, is dead at age 92... NY Times ... Boston Globe. Essays by Robert Fulford ... Orlando Patterson ... Todd Gitlin
Evening network news treats its viewers as ignoramuses. For faked, angry populism, hype, and gullibility it’s worse than its cable competitors... [more]
Brookings was more to the Left and Cato to the Right, a gulf between them. It was so clear. Now liberals and libertarians are making odd bedfellows... [more]
Free Germans: dropped by the OSS behind enemy lines, they risked all to fight the Nazis... [more]. Meanwhile, Himmler was brewing a plot against Hitler.
Whiteballed. Satire is fine for dudes like Swift or Voltaire. But in our more sensitive age there are limits. If your name is Goldblatt, and your subject is... [more]
Armed with a battered typewriter and wondrous resilience, George Orwell can take credit for having got right the three great questions of the twentieth century... [more]
Ivan Klíma regards the attack by Muslim fanatics on New York as an assault on the freedom America embodies. And on his own freedom too... [more]. “What we think of America.”
Is Darwinism plausibly the basis for right-wing politics, economics, or race theory? It may once have seemed so, but for anyone who really grasps Darwin... [more]
Being British, Siôn Simon has a horror of making a fuss. He feels it rude to tell people he’s going blind. They’re embarrassed: “Oh, dear. Poor chap. Dreadfully sorry”... [more]
We are living at the end of the Modern Age, argues John Lukacs. Many sense a turn in world history, but it has not yet swum up to the surface of consciousness... [more]
Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History succeeded because it spoke to an American mood, one not so much of triumphalism as of relief... [more]
Global television was going to knit the world together, bringing us all closer. What we now have are shallow images, little context, and less tolerance... [more]
Wittgensteins Curse: the need to make scholarship “serious” — like science, useful, theoretical, and difficult to read — is the bane of the humanities... [more]
Something’s gone missing in film since Brando and On the Waterfront, says Barry Levinson. There’s a lack of human complexity, a diminished, comic-book sensibility... [more]
Chopins Funeral March has had its day. Time to give this lugubrious, etiolated dirge, decried by Schumann as a “repulsive” piece of music, its final rest... [more]
To limerick, aphorism, joke, maxim, and haiku we can now add the new small art forms of trailer, clip, and Web banner. They’ve an enduring appeal, says Umberto Eco... [more]
A reviewer assumes his reader has neither seen nor read nor heard the work in question; a critic assumes he has. For the art of architecture, we have critics... [here]
Scientific American has caged its legal dogs and allowed on its website Bjørn Lomborg’s detailed rebuttal of its response to his book... [pdf file]. Editor John Rennie is unrepentant. Readers slug it out here and here.
Dam hypocrite. The naïve may view Arundhati Roy as a brave and thrilling political icon. In truth, she’s a vain, preening, egotistical self-publicist... [more]
Children and sex. The very idea pushes deep emotional buttons, can be a focus for witch hunts. Consider the plight of the University of Minnesota Press... [more] ... [more]
“Unputdownable” is a cliché critic Michael Dirda has long resisted. But now he’s read, in one intense sitting, James Lasdun’s new thriller... [more]
What most united citizens of the American republic in the 19th century? The Bible? No, it was the spelling book of Noah Webster... [more]
Her life was richly vivid in early years, but ended drunken and angry. Sonia Orwell, pursued by a tide of venom into and beyond the grave... [more]
Trashcanistan: Russia’s GDP is now close to the budget of the Pentagon. Paltry for a one-time superpower, but more than other Soviet has-beens... [more]
Capitalism is bound to fall once its potential is exhausted, said Marx. The best friends of socialism, it follows, are those who liberalize markets... [more]
A storyteller along the lines of Kipling, Hari Kunzru knows what the British Empire smelled like to the natives: rancid butter, with a hint of raw beef... [more]
Mayan peasants, Colombian drug dealers, Argentine tango dancers, Russian Jews from Cuba: there’s no such thing as Hispanic blood... [more]
Two new books: (1) Science, Truth, and Democracy, (2) Science, Money, and Politics. Which is by a journalist, which by a philosopher?... [more]
In Henry James’s memoir of his boyhood are hints of The Turn of the Screw, where not even the author is sure what’s going on or how to find out... [more]
Contrary, foolhardy, and very English, Ian Fleming refused to his last days to be denied his booze, his cigarettes, his games of golf... [more]
Lord Byron was famous in his time. But Charles Dickens was the first literary celebrity, a phenomenon possible only in the modern media age... [more]
The woolly mammoth is gone forever. A sad loss, as E.O. Wilson knows, but it hardly entails that earth will one day be a dreary scrubland... [more]
Divorced? So what is your category? You’re either a Good Enough, an Enhancer, a Seeker, a Libertine, a Competent Loner, or simply Defeated... [more]
Holocaust survivor, caring son, faithful husband, celebrated writer — one day Primo Levi jumped to his death. What took him to this end?... [more]
A slick, new creationism says it can discredit Darwinism and open the door to a Deity. Does it? Not quite, writes Jim Holt... [more] ... [more]
Medical science can be seen as a noble enterprise. It can also be an arena of careerism, ego, and chicanery. Consider the case of Robert Gallo... [more]
Stendhal’s memoir shows him as a Tristram Shandy of self-disclosure: impish, rambling, outrageous, tiresome, witty, and ferociously honest... [more]
Bitch genius: all scrap and steel under a blond, polished exterior, Martha Stewart has even brought media giant Time Warner to its knees... [more]
Pim Fortuyn’s murder means that Europe has lost a wickedly glamorous breaker of taboos... [more]. Slandered as “racist” ... Samuel Huntington of Dutch politics ... Animal rights tie-in ... He bucked the ruling elite.
Skyscrapers have long been viewed as a unique gift of Modernism. Time to bring them back home to their Beaux Arts origins... [more]
“Race is both imprecise and of no proven clinical value in treating an individual patient.” Dr. Sally Satel has another view. Is she a racist?... [more]
Between the extremes of an open-door and shut-door immigration policy there lies economic self-interest: migrants can enrich a country... [more]
A trial of The Enron Nine, the banks and brokers accused of bilking investors, could become the O.J. Simpson spectacle of modern capitalism... [more]
Aldous Huxley said that L.A., where he lived and died, was like 15th-century Venice: gateway for novel goods and strange ideas of the Orient... [more]
Ability to resist persuasion is like water in a tank: it can be used up and refilled. Salesmen and politicians want to drain your tank... [more]
Pokémon hegemon: from pop music to consumer electronics, architecture to fashion, food to art, Japan is the world’s rising cultural sun... ... [more]
Is the Koran a 10th-rate penal code? Is Bush the real terrorist? What a match! Ali in the red corner, Hitchens in the blue. Michael Bérubé was there... [more]
Picasso combined the power of a battering ram with a tragic intensity, “like a blast from a furnace.” Matisse’s Parisian chic, on the other hand... [more]
Is Karl Popper’s dislike of Marx evidence for being right wing? No, it was just part of his antipathy to all who would remake society at once... [more]
First it was string theory, then quantum chromodynamics, then string theory again. All the old scientific garments at last come back in fashion... [more]
Sure, Eva Braun was an empty young girl. But was she much worse than any other girl of her age, then or now? Her cousin is still alive, and... [more]
Are ebooks going to replace paper books in ten years? Will weblogs out-rate the New York Times? Will the universe flicker out? Some prophets have put their money where... [more]
Wedding vows matter less than the surrounding ceremony, with its communal values: “You’d never have a wedding by just sending out a fax”... [more]
Lepenization: be sure to say it with a proper French accent. It’s how other parties in France denounce the National Front, but coöpt its issues... [more]
Raising hard questions is what scholarship is all about, says Lawrence Summers. As a skeptic at Harvard, his work is cut out for him... [more]
They have chat-up lines that never fail: just another reason conductors enjoy the liveliest, longest, most rewarding sex lives of any human organism... [more]
Thackeray’s Vanity Fair casts the wicked sister as Cinderella: the irresistible Becky Sharp knew long before Mae West, “I’m no angel!”... [more]
Gossip is actually good for you. But though we may be hard-wired to benefit from it, it’s not easy to do in the modern world. Enter the cell phone... [more]
Slavery is morally appalling, but is it economically efficient? In any event, its human costs defy financial reckoning... [more]. John McWhorter takes on the reparations racket.
“Miserable hermaphrodite that you are, your sole ambition in uniting the sexes in your person is to dishonor them both.” Madame de Staël did annoy folks... [more]
Why memoirs by nobodies? Why now? Lorraine Adams entered 200 on a spreadsheet, and found that “nobody” memoirs fall into three types... [more]
Social engineering cannot be as effective as liberals hope, but need not be as clumsy as conservatives insist. Jonathan Rauch on a new key for social science... [more] ... [interview]
Broken windows theory, the idea that lack of maintenance leads to crime, is itself broken, says Bernard Harcourt. It has little empirical support... [more]
The color-blind Web is a nice, comfy charade to assuage liberal guilt. The truth is that everybody is assumed to be white in cyberspace... [more]
Marilyn Monroe? “Yes, she’s wonderful,” said Stephen Hawking. “Cosmological. I wanted a picture of her in my book, as a celestial object”... [more]
A company mislabels regular potato chips as fat-free, and it’s fined or sued. But if a politician or movie star publishes a book someone else wrote... [more]
Sure, scientific medicine has cured some cancers and added to our life span. But what about carpal tunnel? Arthritis? There is still room for quacks... [more]
Complex mutuality in the love between John Bayley and Iris Murdoch disappeared when she lost her mind. Iris misses this, says Wendy Lesser... [more]
147,631,789 × 23,674 =...? You have the capacity to arrive at the answer instantly, in your head. If only you could reach the autistic savant within... [more]
“We cannot change the world,” says Anthony Appiah, “simply by evidence and reasoning.” But “we surely cannot change it without them, either”... [more]
Dihydrogen monoxide may not be a familiar name. But it is a toxic chemical, one that may cause more human death even than dioxin... [Apr 1]
Police will now be required to warn local residents when a Catholic church moves into an area, under a new law designed to protect minors... [Apr 1]
Back when most humanists were bemoaning the uncertainty of science, Karl Popper argued this was among science’s great gifts... [more]
America’s first war against the terrorist hostage-taking and piracy left it a stronger, wiser nation. It happened on the shores of Tripoli... [more]
Remember when the Web was fun? Mr. Potato Head, Coffee Cam, really cool games? The Web’s lost it. Nobody goes there anymore... >sob<
Environmentalism’s vision of a primal, “untouched” American land ignores that Indians had remade it into a vast garden long before Columbus... [more]
John Nash’s achievement goes a long way beyond some barroom scenes or a few arcane equations scrawled on a window pane... [more]
Thomas Kinkade’s vapid art is now a cheesy housing tract, all cozy and serene. No ugliness. No strife. No jokes... [more]. Then there’s his sick-making new novel.
Never sleep with the boss? But it might be an adventure, says a new etiquette guide for women. Yes, Emily Post is truly dead, writes P.J. ORourke... [more]
To ignore Artemisia’s sex is a little like ignoring van Gogh’s lunacy or Picasso’s misogyny. It’s intrinsic to her genius, and her work... [more]
Fleet Street journalists, with their cavalier disregard for fact and objectivity, can be highly offensive. U.S. newspapers try never to offend... [more]
Kid geniuses. No one ever went broke underestimating the IQ of the American public. There is also a fortune to be made in overestimating it... [more]
Remember the digital divide, the vast gulf between computer haves and have-nots? This threat to democracy turns out to have been a fiction... [more]
Slavery is both evolving in form and increasing in raw numbers. It permeates the world, hidden in dark spaces of the economy... [more]
Jerry Springer is certain his show is “the stupidest on TV, of no redeeming social worth whatsoever.” Now it’s to be made into an opera... [more]. BTW, is this article gay?
Do you have a Ph.D? Sure you do, or soon will. No need for Latin, or reading fat books. No need even to know the history of your “discipline”... [more]
We laugh on average about 18 times a day, more often than we eat, sing, or have sex. Come to think of it, what if we ate and had sex 18 times a day?... [more]
Green is the new black? We’re all honorary Irish? Brendan O’Neill is fed up with the kitsch, twaddle, and tiresome hoopla of St. Patricks Day... [more]
Aware that imitation is the still sincerest form of flattery, yet insisting “I am not a crook,” Steve Mirsky takes a look at plagiarism... [more]
Long before 78 rpm records, 110 volts, VHS tapes, or MS-DOS, U.S. industry was propelled by the Sellers standard for screws, nuts, and bolts... [more]
Hans-Georg Gadamer, who saw living traditions of poetry and philosophy as standing at the center of human value, is dead at 102... FAZ ... London Times... Guardian
Surrounding ourselves with amusements, says Todd Gitlin, “tranquilizes us, wrecking not only democracy and spirit but even deep pleasure itself”... [more]
Nietzsche’s works have meant what his readers have wanted them to mean. His thought is forever trapped in a history of ideas he helped shape... [more]
Hams were the geeks of early radio and, like Web enthusiasts today, were resisted by sectors of industry and state. Yet radio did not fare badly... [more]
Does God Almighty have pets, or parents, or bowels? How does he smell? Does he have a mobile home? Does he have genitals?... [more]
The medical profession is not alone in its arrogance and conceit: educated middle-class patients may exhibit these qualities too... [more]
One nation, extra cheese: a new book provides helpful hints for foreign folks on how to have fun in the U.S. without landing in prison... [Apr 1]
Operas give us beautiful music with openly sexist and racist stories. Let’s recast librettos for more positive messages. How about Carmen?... [Apr 1]
Backstabbers. Women have a vast repertoire of techniques to weaken, disorient, humiliate, and banish each other, writes Phyllis Chesler... [more]
Once a liar... For David Brock, politics can change, but old habits are hard to break. Tim Noah on Blinded by the Right... [more]. Brock’s penance has a history.
In his stunning novel, Gould’s Book of Fish, Richard Flanagan gives us a Hobbesian world of endless brutality set against the most gorgeous beauty... [more]
The FBI agent waved a Times story in Wen Ho Lee’s face that likened him to the Rosenbergs. “Know what happened? They were electrocuted”... [more] ... [more]
An autistic child can’t pick up a matchbox and pretend it’s a car. This inability to treat one thing as another also makes normal emotions impossible... [more]
Sikhs in Toronto, Muslims in Lyon, Jews in Brooklyn soothe ancestral voices by inciting far away barbarism. Let others do the dying... [more]
The family is a fragile thing, but it’s a rock-bottom requirement for a stable society. Without it, we’re in deep trouble, says James Q. Wilson... [more]
It’s a brontosaurus of a book: Stephen Jay Gould’s important ideas on evolution are drowned in a 600,000-word ocean of undiluted ego... [more]
The energy of today’s Russian tycoons is a force to regenerate the country. The danger is that Russians will be left disgruntled with capitalism.... [more]
Science and religion are still close to their beginnings, says Freeman Dyson. They will solve old mysteries, but discover new ones too... [more]
“Take care of the writing,” says Margaret Atwood, “and the social relevance will take care of itself.” A word of advice for the writing class... [more]
By the 15th century, painting in Europe was achieving close to photorealism. Just better brush technique? David Hockney has another idea... [more] ... [more]
David Brock confesses he was a mad dog, monster, whore, Jew in Hitler’s army, cog in the G.O.P. sleaze machine. He’s a new man now... [more] ... [more] ... [still more] ... [and yet more]
Robert Warshow’s film essays were remarkable, small works of genius. But in 1955, the day after the New Yorker hired him, he fell over dead... [more]
Evolutionary psychology is often treated with scorn by its critics. What they object to, however, is a straw science they have themselves invented... [more]
Peter Mayle gave us the genre: call it French Cute. Old house is rebuilt with the help of wily locals, all described in a tone of self-congratulation... [more]
James Watson’s embarrassing new memoir shows that even with a Nobel Prize under his belt, a 24-year-old geek can find it hard to bed a lass... [more]
Tooling around in his BMW and sleeping with acolytes, Richard Baker mixed a monk’s life with worldly pleasure — the Dick Nixon of Zen... [more]
The intellectual fireworks in the novels of Aldous Huxley are admirable in principle, but, like fireworks, they aren’t exactly informative... [more]
Courtesans: if the choice was genteel poverty or the bright lights of Paris, well, there were always girls who’d rather take their chances... [more]
Joseph de Maistre, much like his fellow monsters Stalin and Pol Pot, wanted what was best for mankind. Isaiah Berlin saw the dark irony in this... [more]
E=mc2 would have been found even if Einstein died as a child. The Opus 111 would never have existed without Beethoven. It is Science vs. Art... [more]
Bourgeoisophobia explains why both Americans and Jews are hated. They are all money-mad molochs, you see, vulgarizers of culture, corrupters of taste and morals, materialists... [more]
“No violence! No violence!” chanted José Bové. Palestinians nearby did not catch the French accent, as they joined in, shouting, “No peace! No peace!”... [more]
American mass culture has not remade the world into a replica U.S. Instead, U.S. dependence on foreign ideas has made it a mirror of the world, says Richard Pells... [more]
If your genes are words, then the genome you are is an arcane work of literature with its own syntax, puns, allusions, and idioms. Colin Tudge ponders what it means... [more]
Socialism is without doubt the most popular political idea ever invented. It is also the most drenched in blood, leaving perhaps 100 million dead in the last century. Why?... [more]
Science fiction is hard to do right: too much science and it’s just so much fiction about science. Too little science and it lapses into mere fantasy.... [more]
Globalization may or may not be good news, says Bob Kaplan. It’s just the news. And the news might get scarier in a world less stable the more closely it connects. Tom Friedman responds... [more]
The far left, Michael Bérubé says, may yet throw itself in history’s dustbin. Even Marx knew there is worse than capitalism — Al Qaeda and the Taliban, perhaps... [more]
Pierre Bourdieu was for the French left the successor to Zola and Sartre. In 1999, this brilliant, intransigent man engaged Günter Grass in a friendly dialogue... [more]
The Archduke died in Sarajevo and, ten million lives later, Germany lost WWI. But what if Germany, the most philo-Semitic and dynamic nation in Europe, had won the war?... [more]
The United States is the oldest extant democracy on earth, the oldest, most complex and tested republic — a state older than Germany or Italy, observes Owen Harries... [more]
It might be that we are living in an era so stupid that even the most intelligent among us are actually cement-heads, says P.J. ORourke. Just look at Nobel winners... [more]
It’s scary, but the evidence is so strong climate scientists are now reaching for their thermal underwear: the current global cooling is taking us to a new Ice Age... [Apr 1; was serious in 1975]
The shocking and tragic death of Britain’s beloved Queen Mum has inspired excited Italians to line up outside St. Peter’s, hoping to score a seat at the Popes funeral... [Apr 1]
Boutique baseball studiums now offer gourmet ice cream, micro-beers, sushi, dazzling scoreboards, and blaring rock ’n’ roll between innings. Alas, sighs Russ Smith... [more]
Globalization is not a magic cure-all for economic woes, nor is it a plot to exploit workers. Let’s get real about it, says Timothy Taylor... [more]. Americans might try playing by the rules.
Multimillionaire Michael Moore’s web diary for his book tour reads like brave Lenin’s train ride through the dark nightmare of Czarist Russia, writes James Lileks... [more] ... [still more] ... [book excerpt]
Biographies are like buses. For the longest time, nothing. Then two arrive together. Pity the poor biographer who’s worked for years on a life, only to learn... [more]
From the Irish cop not giving “the good father” a ticket to ignoring evident alcoholism, Catholics have long denied of reality of priestly sin, says Garry Wills... [more]
The perfect pastime for a clapped-out movie directors. Go through your old films, edit for political correctness and today’s sensitivities, and re-release... [more]
Peaceniks vs belligerati. Leftists are now the “useful idiots” of American empire, says Tariq Ali... [more]. Hardly, answers Salman Rushdie. A rational left knows the defeat of the Taliban is a great good... [more]
Science! Art! Creativity! Just to string the words together seems so elevated and inspiring, so sexy. But it tells us little about human reality, says Lewis Wolpert... [more]
Worrying ourselves to death. It may make sense to minimize risks of daily existence. But obsessing over worst-case scenarios is no way to plan for the future... [more]
The demented patient fought off the doctor’s exam with piercing cries. Giving up to return to his ward, the doctor muttered, “This is getting rather too veterinarian”... [more]
Greek culture that looks so elevated to us today was vulgar and debased to Plato. Paul Cantor finds lessons from Athens in how to approach The Simpsons and Gilligan’s Island... [more]
Herbert Beerbohm Tree came on a mover toting a grandfather clock on his back. “My good sir,” he said, “wouldn’t it be more convenient to own a wristwatch?”... [more]
Blinded by Odysseus, the Cyclops hurled boulders toward the sea in impotent rage. Wole Soyinka finds in Homer a metaphor for life and death in Israel today... [more]
We are genetic archives of the African Pliocene, back even to dark Devonian seas: walking libraries of ancient wisdom, coded maps of lost worlds, says Richard Dawkins... [more]
Last words are for fools,” said Marx on his deathbed. “Hold me up! I want to shit!” cried Walt Whitman. Others were not so wise, or practical... [more]
James Bond fought the shrewdest villains, killed the fiercest assassins, and bedded the sexiest girls. He also anticipated the world of Osama bin Laden... [more]
Plagiarism? Not such an evil, writes Richard Posner. After all, West Side Story owes it all to Ovid, as retold by Arthur Brooke, as plundered by Shakespeare... [more]
The persistence of paper. It is a real puzzle of the modern workplace. Though computers were to replace paper, we now use more of it than ever. How come?... [more]
True heroes are those who stand above violence and revenge, who resolutely refuse to use large-scale murder to deal with differences, says A.C. Grayling... [more]
Sure, Jews in the Third Reich faced risks. But what about art theorists who address Holocaust issues in museums today? Brave art theorists are heroes for our time... [more]
Universities not only examine, but also produce power-laden discourse, says Toni Morrison. “Disinterested” scholars are up to their eyes in ideology... [more]. Morrison pro and con.
The jaded eye is as aesthetic as it is moral, says Delia Falconer. Weary and wry, it asks the harder questions in order to see festering reality under the shimmer... [more]
Crony capitalism: tariffs for the steel industry and bail-outs for airlines suggest less free market ideology and more corporate welfare, says Joseph Stiglitz... [more]
Faith moves mountains. It also kills innocents, wrecks lives, and sends people into subways armed with pamphlets. Kierkegaard makes it no easier to understand... [more]
Christopher Hitchens: so what in his view is the true Axis of Evil? Islam, Judaism, Christianity — humanity's three great monotheistic religions... [more]
Since Vietnam, the Left has lost its bearings, says Michael Walzer. Its critique of the U.S. has been stupid, overwrought, embittered, and inaccurate. Why?... [more]
Most gay literature is frankly rubbish, says Philip Hensher, and “gay novelist” is practically a putdown. Real literature needs no such qualifications... [more]
Religion is a poison in the blood of India, says Salman Rushdie. The recent atrocities were perpetrated in God’s name. But “God” is the name of India’s problem... [more]
Anglo-Saxon culture has given the world greater wealth, freedom, and health than any other. Yet no other culture works so hard to deny its achievements and heritage... [more]
No scientific idea in the last century has been more misunderstood and abused, by vulgar and learned alike, than Heisenbergs Uncertainty Principle... [more]
Globalization includes not only finance and fashion but also terror. No corner of the world is safe. Cosmopolis is not just a utopia but a nightmare, too... [more]
What scorn architects have for interior designers. Mere pettiness? Tough-guy chauvinism, jealousy, class resentment? A faint whiff of homophobia?... [more]
Western nations from the Greeks to the present are not weak at war but utterly lethal, far out of proportion to their small populations and territories... [more]
Geezer talk: Remember when women were really exciting? When young people had imagination? Oh, the Golden Age, says Robert Fulford... [more]. And the survey says...
Anti-elitist or a power play? Writers omit sources because the “general reader” is too sensible to want tedious footnotes... [more]. Now, about borrowed phrases...
Stalin enjoyed Tarzan and allowed Johnny Weismuller films into the USSR. Later he turned on American vulgarity. But in Russia as elsewhere, his was a loser’s game... [more]
“Islam has bloody borders” — an inflammatory remark, perhaps. But it should provoke a search for better understanding on the part of the West, says Jack Miles.... [more]
In search of the cud-chewing soul of America, a Guardian scribe trekked to deepest Alabama. In search of the soul of Guardian reporters, James Lileks offers a comment or two... [more]
Conformity, seriousness are bigger threats today than chaos. We will soon be living in a country unworthy of P.T. Barnum, our true Founding Father... [more]
Letters of recommendation are insane. If flipped coins were used by academics for tenure and promotion, at least the procedure would be honest... [more]
The Barnes Foundation. Visitors must put up with a lot to see 180 Renoirs, 69 Cézannes (more than all French museums together), 60 Matisses, 46 Picassos... [more]
The last century was one of wars, revolutions, and break-up of empires. Prospects for peace in the current century aren’t much better, says Eric Hobsbawm... [more]
To weep over global inequality and forget about abysmal standards of living in large parts of the world is just empty rhetoric. We cannot step outside of history... [more]
Our “ordinaryteenagers are in danger of becoming nihilistic, detached from civic life, lost in private, violent fantasies... [more]
A good scientific theory has to be beautiful. Great equations are like haikus, and universal theorems are pure odes to joy... [more] ...[more] ... [still more]
Her dowry was too small, she had dishonored the family, dinner was late. In Asia and Africa, women are being murdered... [more]
A U-235 nuclear bomb does not need to be tested to work. Hiroshima was leveled by such an untested device. Saddam Hussein knows this... [more]
R.M. Hare, philosopher whose ideas on ethics were marked by years he spent as a prisoner of war under the Japanese, is dead... NYT... Independent ... Guardian
Good work is good for you. Turns out the key to happiness is not love and sex, but work and workplace. Well, maybe love and sex too... [more] ... [more]
The WWII victories of North Africa and Midway depended on cracking enemy code. Alas, the humble PC is ending the glory days of code breakers... [more]
Cargo cults. Melanesia still harbors some of the most bizarre, and yet oddly familiar, rites of spirit and magic on the face of the globe... [more]
Court poet, then ringleader of the young Romantics, he cozied up to monarchy and was hero to the socialists. Victor Hugo is 200... [more]
In the grandeur of their historic achievements, Einstein and Gödel stood alone. They turned to each other only because they could turn to no one else... [more]
It took a minute or so to sink in: three years of emails had in an instant been forever turned to gibberish by her computer. But there’s an upside... [more]
Murderous sounds: Arnold Schoenberg composed harsh, ugly music not from lack of ability. It was exactly what he wanted... [more] ... [more]
Time was when musicians had to show skill and talent to record. Now the real talent is the guy at the dials of the high tech console... [more]
Agents wanted. Would you like to be a red-hot CIA analyst? A station chief in Mogadishu?... [more]. Perhaps you’d prefer to work for the KGB... [more] ... or just fake a passport.
Spoiled and ill-mannered she may have been, but as her Joan Sutherland takeoff showed, Princess Margaret had a sharp sense of humor... [more]
Vanderbilt to Ponzi to Boesky to Enron: so long as there’s money about, swindlers will invent new ways to fleece the sheep... [more]
Using science in order to see how religion can benefit our lives may seem a good strategy to find allies for God. But it can backfire... [more]
Jack Henry Abbott, writer and killer paroled at the behest of Norman Mailer and who then went on to commit another murder, has hanged himself... [more]
Najibullah was hanging in the square, his face blue, bruised. They’d shoved cigarettes into his mouth. To Latifa, he seemed to be vomiting cigarettes... [more]
Pure mathematicians are not so keen on knowing about the real world. They do math to learn about math. And some are dreaming of Riemann... [more]
Absolute advantage: Portugal should export wine, England meat. Sound familiar? Adam Smith had more in mind than you thought... [more]
Did Werner try to scuttle the Nazi bomb project, as he later claimed? New papers cast doubt on the idea. Sort of... [more]. The documents. Michael Frayn is unmoved.
Underachievement by boys gets scant attention from politicians and the media. Girls’ problems at school, hey, that’s news... [more]
End of human evolution. We are not becoming less brainy and more neurotic, or smarter but less robust. This is it. This is as good as we get... [more]
Hermit wanted. Shelter, food, Bible provided. £700 at end of contract. (The first applicant was fired, found in a pub after only a week)... [more]
British warriors: one led the blood-and-guts battle against Germany... [more]. The other fought in the war of ideas on finance and economics... [more]
Was Handel gay? He did love opera and houseplants. And how about Acis and Galatea? Queer as a Liberace in Vegas... [more] ... [more]
Conventional wisdom: the dot-com mania was a modern South Sea Bubble, a case of crooks and dupes. The figures tell another story... [more] ... [more]
What taboos are left when even the jingoism of Rudyard Kipling is to be rehabilitated ? But he was more complicated than most of us thought... [more]
Orientalist fights back. Blaming Edward Said, a scholar accuses academe of blindness toward Islamic extremists. Its funding should be cut, he says... [more]
For Friedrich Nietzsche, the myth of the Eternal Return was a way to sanctify life without religion, to make every moment precious... [more]
Artists have been duped by a narrow, omnivorous system of high or “fine” art for 250 years. Or, maybe, they’ve put up a wondrous fight... [more]
Nationalism is far more potent than statism. A nation’s strength is created in the bonding of shared sacrifice, says Robert Wiebe... [more]
Kenneth Tynan’s diaries show his fierce, good-humored moral sense, vibrant curiosity and robust commitment to sexual candor... [more]
Science wars are not simply a battle between the left and the right. They are also about who gets to define reality, truth, and rationality... [more] ... [more]
Tack-sharp, witty, aristocratic Jane Welsh married impotent, uncouth, shit-obsessed Thomas Carlyle. A mistake? A brilliant mistake... [more] ... [more]
Tupac Shakur’s popularity in death — and the disdain for his mythic image — says as much about us as it does about him, writes Michael Dyson... [more]
Victor Serge sensed early on that Stalin was a danger from within the revolution, "in the very temper and character of Bolshevism"... [more]
Sociobiology is winning: logic, evidence, and the weight of empirical success is turning the tide in favor of the genetic revolution... [more]
Tobacco: it’s a weed of lovely, extraordinary power, one that can raise you to heights of bliss or, if it so chooses, kill you dead... [more]
Giangiacomo Feltrinelli was that egoistic kind of rebel rich families produce. Inside such brats there’s always a dictator trying to get out... [more]
Academics are concerned with ideas, intellectuals with the bearing of ideas on society. Like her or not, Susan Sontag is a great intellectual... [more]
Okay, so let us suppose that Hitler was queer. Does that mean he’d have invaded Poland just to silence a lover who had threatened to go to the press?... [more]
Bernard Lewis comes not to bury Islam, but to praise what it once was — and it might one day be yet again... [more]
Once upon a time, men could be men, escape from POW camps or command subs. These days, they wrangle impotently with parking meters... [more]
His life was a losing struggle against booze, loneliness, and scattered creativity. The Nobel Prize finished Sinclair Lewis off... [more] ... [more]
Did you ever cry standing in front of a painting? Our cynical age forbids tears over beauty. Maybe we should be a little less embarrassed... [more]
As a critic, Martin Amis is a generalissimo of style: master of witty, racy, yet deeply literary language. But this sort of thing has its limits... [more]
Fear, trembling, and dread: Kierkegaard broke off with Regine Olsen when he knew at last he could find truth only in anguish... [more]
Technology improved life most notably by raising speed and cutting distance: telegraph, train, and typewriter were marvels... [more]
Nigger is a word that remains out of bounds, says Christopher Hitchens. It must never become part of some “gorgeous mosaic” of banal “diversity”... [more]
An American tradition: the local police log, a quirky, ugly, sad, hilarious account of what really goes on in a community. Some of our favorites... [more] ... [more]
Music audiences are eager to read signs of emotional “involvement” on the faces of performers. Should musicians fake it to help an event succeed?... [more]
Marx is still a thinker of stunning insight, a prophet whose larger vision is continually being proved correct. The geriatric left has trouble ditching its illusions... [more]
Creationists, like the Taliban, are washed up. Their only hope is to flee to the hills, get shaved, and come back as philosophers in pinstripe suits... [more]
Increasingly, we expect that no diet, drug, activity, regime, or treatment should do any harm. We demand that science give us a risk-free world... [more]
It’s a long time since Triumph of the Will and Olympia mesmerized viewers, but Leni Riefenstahl’s genius remains as haunting and disturbing as ever... [more]
Freedom vs. security is a false trade-off, says Ronald Dworkin. Patriotism in the war against terrorism requires fairness and decency... [more] ... another view.
Splits, turns, leaps, and throws used to be creative, rebellious, daring. Now they are technically superb, joyless, despairing, says Jennifer Homans... [more]
Chekhov intended that you be downing a vodka or staring at someone’s cleavage after the first act of The Three Sisters. Your brain needs a break from such intense drama... [more]
Adopting religious maxims, rather than individual trial and error, may have had survival value in the Pleistocene. That’s why we’re hardwired for God... [more]
The Olympics celebrate rivalry, skill, and toughness, David Brooks reminds us. They are not meant to bring folks together in a warm and sharing community... [more]
First law of Green politics: hell hath no fury like an environmentalist refuted. Ask Bjørn Lomborg... [more] ... [more] ... [more]. Scientific American says it will sue if Lomborg quotes too much from its attack on him. His remarks here also answer in part the assault in Grist. Yet another review.
Social justice, said Robert Nozick, is a chimera, a cloud of rhetoric. There are only individuals, all different, with their own personal lives... [more]. Review of his new book.
The Enronification of our museums moves apace. Of course, art ought to mirror life, says Eric Gibson, but this is getting ridiculous... [more]
Explain the menu? "It all started with Cortés," the waiter intoned, as he led the diners through 500 years of Mexican history. It was a long trek to the appetizer... [more]
Richard Wolin's scholarship hits a raw nerve in intellectual life: the intimate bond between European philosophy and dictatorship... [more]
Libertarians don't get dates, says Andy Lamey. What gorgeous babe wants a guy who's in favor of sweatshops and harangues her about farm subsidies?... [more]
Emerson wrote that "every hero becomes a bore at last." Well, if not the dead heroes of 9/11, then their lawyers and lobbyists. Nicholas Thompson explains... [more]
Population control, better public health, and ending deforestation can improve life in countries that might harbor terrorists. Pay heed, says Jared Diamond... [more]
Two eloquent writers, abetted by the ghost of George Orwell, have made the most difference in how we think about the causes and aftermath of 9/11... [more]
The Left could try a little harder, argues Todd Gitlin, to grasp the brutal, tolerant, myopic, generous, selfish, glorious powerhouse that is America... [more]
Royal courtier, Marxist, spy for Stalin, and full-time establishment crony. Anthony Blunt could be witty, even silly — or aloof, the ultimate halibut among cold fish... [more]
P.J. O'Rourke's been receiving threats in the mail since the start of the anthrax scare — but only the usual from Visa, American Express, and the landlord... [more]
Perceptions of happiness peaked in the U.S. in the late 1960s, despite big rises in real incomes later on. So if it isn't money, what is happiness? asks Samuel Brittan... [more] ... [more]
"What kind of a people do they think we are?" Churchill asked after Pearl Harbor. Bin Laden & Co. also got more than they bargained for, says John Lewis Gaddis... [more]
For democracy to work in Africa it's essential to treat black people as fully human, not as children, idiots, or animals. A shocking idea, but it might succeed... [more]
The war on terrorism must not be fought as Jihad vs. McWorld. The only war worth winning, writes Benjamin Barber, is the struggle for democracy... [more]
A bounty is not the same as a reward. It was bounty offers that procured the deaths of Jesse James and Billy the Kid. Time to try it on Osama bin Laden... [more]
Science cannot establish its own social ends, says Francis Fukuyama Only theology, philosophy, and politics can do that... [more]. Should biologists restore extinct species?
The military, cultural, economic, and aesthetic restlessness and vitality of American civilization astonishes. Bin Laden's attack on it was the purest lunacy... [more]
Yasir Arafat, a tragically heroic and bumbling figure, is hemmed in by his wish to be all things Palestinian to friends and enemies alike, argues Edward Said... [more]
Q: "John Walker, when people call you a traitor, a rat, what are your feelings?" A: "It saddens me, Barbara. They attack me instead of dealing with their own negativity"... [more]
Islam's been hijacked, to be sure. But it didn't happen three months ago. Islam has long been caught in a viselike grip of medievalism, writes Pervez Ali Hoodbhoy... [more]
Nuns are an endangered species. But for Catholics and others as well, they can stand for a life whole, happy, and even free. Mary Gordon meditates on a paradox... [more]
The infamous Mitford girls: rural Pam, Decca the commie, fascist Diana, Unity the Nazi, Debo the duchess, novelist Nancy. All very English eccentrics... [more]
Squishy progressives have reacted to 9/11 like parents who, seeing a viper in their child's bed, would first call the SPCA, says Christopher Hitchens... [more]
"I am an unashamed champion of tonality," said Miklós Rózsa. "Tonality means line; line means melody, the natural, primordial expression of human emotion"... [more]
The Roman elite knew they ignored the plebs at their peril. Races, gladiators, theater, and an ample grain supply reconciled rich and poor, writes Peter Jones... [more]
What was left of Nazism with Hitler buried in rubble and Mussolini hanging upside down? What is left of the great caliphate today? Caliph Omar, where are you?... [more]. And speaking of Omar...
Beethoven's eloquent pun on J.S. Bach's name, Nicht Bach, sondern Meer sollte er heißen, still stands: "Not a brook — rather call him an ocean!"... [more]
Leonid Tsypkin was able to wrest grace from despair, truth from lies and, miraculously, artistic immortality from a desk drawer... [more]
A tape recorder tucked under the desk of Lyndon Johnson has brought him back to life in all his tawdry, jaw-dropping glory... [more] ... [more]
Carolyn Heilbrun, besotted with feminist dogma, presents an intellectual tragedy: a mind clouded by sour obsessions, says Jeffrey Hart... [more] ... [more]
With its gigantic vacant lots, its strip-mall parking lagoons, and overblown kitsch, Las Vegas is bad. But is it the worst place on earth?... [more] ... [more]
The hectic, contrived humor of Terry Eagleton's personal memoir sounds like the labor of a don imitating his students imitating dons... [more]
He tried to curb his drinking and swear off whoring and failed. Yet there remains a strange, indelible dignity to the life of James Boswell... [more]
Julian Barnes tells us but little of human struggle and pathos. We read him for his superior tone: amused, languid, arch... [more]
American writers despise their own suburban life as bland and exclusionary, mawkishly casting themselves as members of a white diaspora... [more]
A novelist has only one book in him, said James Joyce. Each new book is just the same work in a new key. Consider Italo Svevo... [more] ... [more]
Don't ask Anthony Bourdain for a unified theory of food, or some principle of what eating must be. He's just a guy out for a good time... [more]
Academics renounce power to acquire depth, says Richard Posner. Public intellectuals trade their depth back in... [more]. Is Posner an intellectual suicide bomber?
Christopher Hitchens wanders as a kind of prophet in the wilderness of Vanity Fair. The pose is at least as important as the prose... [more] ... [more]
Edward Lear's genius lies in his being charming yet baffling. He manages a fine negotiation between clarity and mystery... [more]
That Henry James's last novel, The Outcry, is now back in print for the first time since 1911 is frankly incredible. But it's true... [more]
It's a risky business to write in praise of Orwell's style, like painting an oil in appreciation of Turner. But Clive James can carry it off... [more]
It was the biggest change of mind God ever had: when he told his chosen people that he was going multinational. A kind of franchise plan... [more]
Whatever the historic truth of Mary, she remains for many Christians the lode-star in a stormy darkness, the necessary and eternal comforter... [more]
A rush of feeling is not like a mere twinge. It's a way attitudes reveal themselves. Emotion has a cognitive aspect, says Martha Nussbaum... [more]
Why the Big Bang, its energy and particles and laws? When stars burn out and black holes evaporate, what then? Will there be a then, then?... [more]
Susie Orbach's latest blather on food amounts to nothing less than a psychobabble manual on how to develop an eating disorder... [more]
"Counterculture" is not an idea to be written off as mere 1960s trivia, says the man who coined the term, Theodore Roszak... [more]
Picasso and Einstein: both of them thought that discoveries which expand experience are made not by seeing truth, but by thinking it... [more]
Uneasy people lost in life's maze want simple answers in short books with cute titles. That's what we learn from Who Moved My Cheese?... [more]
Did William Rehnquist lie at his confirmation hearing? John Dean, who first floated the name in Nixon's White House, argues he did... [more] ... [interview]
Judges use history to deflect charges of judicial creativity, says Richard A. Posner. But unlike economics, history offers little to solve legal problems... [more]
Oliver Sacks captures the way his "lost love," chemistry, once made him feel. Scientists are not like you and me — unless they are you and me... [more] ... [more]
Dmitry Shostakovich, cursed by having to live in interesting times, was a composer not for other musicians, but for the whole human race... [more]
Van Gogh and Gauguin were at one in their need to find a way to overcome the stifling authority of Impressionism. Color would be the key... [more]
TV addicts are less happy than light users. Guilt over wasted time? The average viewer who lives to 75 will spend nine years before the tube... [more]
It's lived through Black Death, wars, and attempts to burn its scholars at the stake. But can Oxford survive competition with other universities?... [more]
Glenn Loury has either fallen into the "race loyalty trap" of some black intellectuals, or he's returned to his deep roots. He's not sure which... [more]
"Diversity" is a flimsy and evasive perversion of justice. High time it was swept into the dustbin of history, says John McWhorter... [more]
Americans were once said to be so isolated they went bowling alone. Surprise: since 9/11, they have started bowling together again... [more]
If you've fought a mortal illness, says Susan Sontag, there is something in you that's deeper and stronger: "It's called having a life"... [more]
America is always at the brink of being corrupted by affluence, but only at the brink. "We are less shallow than we look," says David Brooks... [more]
Let's disabuse the Chinese of the illusion that Marxist theory failed because human beings are fallible. The cruelty of Marxism is intrinsic... [more]
It is a hardwired feature of our Paleolithic brain, argues E.O. Wilson. Far off threats, such as population growth, are ignored... [more]
When Harvard rapper Cornel West was dissed by Prez Larry Summers, all hell broke loose... [more]. Views: Shelby Steele ... Jonathan Yardley ... Kate Zernike ... Rod Dreher ... Thulani Davis ... Fareed Zakaria ... Stanley Crouch ... Ross Douthat ... Leon Wieseltier on West.
Why do people buy books they can barely begin to grasp? Is it vanity? Hawking on the coffee table shows there's a powerful intellect in the house... [more]
Cheap oil is an economic boon but also a curse for research into new sources for energy. In the long run, we'll need fuel cells, solar, nuclear... [more]
There are a vast number of atoms in the universe. Might there be as many universes as atoms? Martin Gardner on Multiverse Theory... [more] ... [more]
A is for Arab and algebra. B is for backgammon, and so on to Z for zero. It's easy to forget the enormous Arab contributions to civilization... [more]
Public intellectuals: who's hot, who's not, and are there really fewer than there used to be? Jeet Heer on the life of the mind in an age of celebrity... [more]
In the early days of the Cold War, red-baiters denounced many scientists. The scientists didn't always lose these ugly battles. Edward Condon, for instance... [more]
Harlequin now courts an urban, upscale demographic. If the characters in its new romance formula can't see what a woman wants, well, who can?... [more]
Different ages have their myths of genius. For Longinus, says Peter Kivy, "genius must seize the day; for Socrates the day must seize the genius"... [more]
To avoid poverty, Americans need to: (1) finish high school, (2) marry after they're 20, and (3) only then have kids. James Q. Wilson explains... [more]
You order chicken curry and are served curry ice-cream with apple jelly, coconut soup, chicken broth, and raw onions. It's dinner with Derrida... [more]
Historian Stephen Ambrose is accused of plagiarizing Thomas Childers's book on World War II bombers... [more]. Ambrose apologizes.
Economic globalization creates more growth, increases the wealth of both rich and poor, and narrows the income gap... [more]. Does it?... [more]
Send emails to coworkers for a year instead of walking to their offices and you'll gain an extra pound. Add a can of Coke every other day, and... [more]
In the prescient science fiction of Jules Verne, if you know enough about technology, you can master the world. It's a comforting myth... [more]
Brain circulation does not make a nice rhyme like "brain drain." But it is still the best way to describe a new face of immigration to the U.S.... [more]
An act of treason against CBS, or whistle-blowing any honest news network should welcome? Bernard Goldberg's new book is causing a tizzy... [more] ... [more] ... [more]. In Australia...
The omnipotent God who the creationist thinks "designed" the universe was not limited by trade-offs or physical laws. So why is there evil?... [more]
The Gore commission abjured nationality, religion, ethnicity, and gender in passenger profiling for terrorists. What criteria does that leave?... [more]
Minoru Yamasaki's WTC was a Mosque to Commerce, a false idol in the raiment of Islam. Osama bin Laden had special cause to despise it... [more]
The Air Force loves B-52s and may fly them for 40 more years, long after their first pilots are dead of old age. Imagine Civil War weapons in WWII... [more]
Even when we have forgotten what our college professors said in lectures, observes Jay Parini, we may still remember the clothes they wore... [more]
Go ahead: enjoy that grog and ignore the AMA's puritanical nagging. Doctors have no monopoly, says Theodore Dalrymple, on wisdom and the keys to good living... [more]
The idea of home makes fashion, even taste, irrelevant. To create a home, you don't need money, but a sense of place and people. It's deeper than "lifestyle"... [more]
A spirit of innovation, and along with it a tolerance for disruption, the pursuit of novelty, and a love of technology and change, was latent at the founding of America... [more]
Celebrity culture isn't dead, and we'll still enjoy the fun of tittle-tattle. But the grief and solidarity of 9/11 showed that there are deeper values in our lives... [more]
Thinkers change their minds. The energetic philosopher Sidney Hook went from Marxist friend of Trotsky to Reaganite. It was an awkward journey... [more]
The perfect party. Hospitality by its very nature embodies a sacred duty to honor and care for others. Rules of etiquette are pillars of civilized life, says Charlotte Allen... [more]
Boring architecture: Why do we think that inspiring, innovative buildings — public or private, residential or commercial — are a luxury or frivolity?... [more]
Why I Am Not a Muslim makes The Satanic Verses look like a trivial stab at blasphemy. It has turned its author, Ibn Warraq, into Islam's Tom Paine... [more]
"I worked intuitively," says Nobel winner V.S. Naipaul. "My aim every time was do a book, to create something that would be easy and interesting to read"... [more] ... [more]
Huntington vs. Fukuyama: do we look toward the end of ideology, or to a future that falls into dark, ancient tribalism? Each of the clashing answers demands assent... [more]
Another cracked and twisted version of history from Oliver Stone: this time it's the day Ronald Reagan was shot. A former White House advisor spots an erratum or two... [more]
Charles Péguy recoiled from the skeptical, clever modern world that lay before him at the start of the 20th century. Ever the romantic, he longed for a sense of mystique... [more]
Hollywood at 4:00 AM looks like a film set with extras unsure of their moves. Is the guy in the phone booth really making a call? Is that woman really waiting for a bus?... [more]
Having written a book about the penis is a helluva conversation starter, says David Friedman. He has to explain, of course, that it isn't about his penis... [more]
Disappointed. Sen. Tom Daschle prefers the sad rhetorical tone of a parent let down by the kids. Is that anthrax in the mail? Please, folks, can't we do better?... [more]
Stanley Kaplan loved the S.A.T. and saw nothing subversive in his idea that students could learn how to improve their scores. Yet he has come close to killing it... [more]
Gaulois-smoking, pouty-lipped actress Jeanne Moreau describes herself as "a woman with absolutely no sense of nostalgia." She keeps going and going... [more]
Boring prose: Martin Amis has a fine nose for it, though he is quite incapable of writing it himself, says a delighted Michael Dirda... [more]
Czeslaw Milosz's poetic idea, like Whitman's, is to sing the whole man, not a partial, avant-garde, contrived man, atrophied in heart and liver... [more]
Wellington vs. Napoleon was a military version of Frazier vs. Ali, the methodical slugger against the inspirational improviser... [more] ... [more]
Heidegger's intellectual heirs must be made to see his fascistic side, else "the sins of the father will be visited on the sons." And daughters... [more]
Janet Malcolm finds the best in Anton Chekhov by starting from the ordinary. It's a tactic of the man himself: small moments illuminating big themes... [more] ... [more]
John Marshall is one of the greatest figures in the history of the U.S. But was he a great Chief Justice? Or just a lucky judge in the right place?... [more]
While the Sophists viewed Socrates as an old-maid stickler for Truth, Aristotle praised Homer for his sense of "the proper way of telling lies"... [more]
The bra has dropped in and out of fashion since the 1870s, from Belle Poitrine and nubbins to snubbins and droopers. It's an uplifting story... [more]
New Zealanders in North Africa in 1942 took a German medical unit, bayoneting to death all its doctors and wounded. Some war crimes were German, but... [more]
Temperament. A series of tiny compromises in the scale solved a great riddle of sound and gave us music as we now know it... [more]
Saul Bellow's unforgettable characters are in fact collectors of stories, just as others might hoard butterflies, Picassos or grievances... [more] ... [more]
Psychologizing issues of race trivializes them, turns every recipient of a racial slight into a survivor, sees racists in need of therapy... [more] ... [more]
It's hard to think of a man who lived with mother through adult life, and subsisted on canned soup, as a sexual maverick, But Andy Warhol was one... [more]
Executioner: a line of work routinely ignored by career counselors, despite being a safe, well-paid, legal outlet for the primal urge to kill... [more] ... [more]
"The West should watch out," says Nikolai. "Russians who've come through these violent, lawless years — there'll be no stopping us. It's tough, but it's such fun!"... [more]
Climate change has been a constant feature of the earth's history. Ice core records now suggest that it may be time to worry about a big chill... [more]
Too much to read, too many great books, not enough time left. Sooner or later, we must all sadly confront our reading mortality... [more]
Is it art? Forget it. The battle is over. A gallery funded it and you read about it in an art magazine. So there... [more]. Spitting on the audience. Meanwhile, at the Whitney....
Call it a dubious win for the way it insulates monolingual native speakers from the rest of the world, but the triumph of English seems unstoppable... [more]
Was Noah's wife Joan of Ark? Was Near East history written by Florence of Arabia? Were Hitler's thugs the Gazpacho? Did the Soviets erect the Berlin Mall?... [more]
That giant sucking sound you hear isn't jobs crossing the Rio Grande, it's work lost by Mexico and others to the world's new bottom-rung employer: China... [more]
The collapse of his native Nigeria into tyranny and chaos has pushed Wole Soyinka's richly poetic mind into an abyss of outrage... [more]
What's the deadweight loss of Santa Claus? More than you think, say the economists. But what would be the fun in giving out gift certificates?... [more]
Boring food: the poor modern recipe book is about as original and engaging as a dishwasher manual, and every bit as literary, writes Laura Calder... [more]
It's a hazy boundary between smart, geeky kids with a fine sense of fantasy and autistics trapped in private worlds. Silicon Valley parents worry... [more]
Intelligent-design theory says that biological evolution is directed by an "external agent." But isn't this just faith cloaked in scientific jargon?... [more]
Whatever it takes. They are going to preserve the secular state in Uzbekistan, no matter how nasty things get. Is this their only way forward?... [more]
Honey, I shrunk the book review section. Newspaper editors think they know what readers want, and it isn't tedious talk about books... [more]
W.G. Sebald, elegiac novelist of war and memory, has died in a head-on crash in England... [obit] ... [interview] ... [more] ... [more] ... [more] ... [more] ... [yet more]
Smart, sensitive, playful, brave, and more emotional than you thought. We look after them, and they look after us. Don't underestimate sheep... [more]
'Snot a joke. Nasal discharge in dried form is made of complex sugars, sodium, and water: the same ingredients as most junk foods. No wonder kids... [more]
"These new stamps with Lenin do not stick," says the Russian to the postal clerk. "Comrade, you're spitting on the wrong side." Jokes have a history... [more]
The Turner Prize, also known as the Emperor's New Clothes art prize, was presented this year by Madonna. The winner? Nothing much... [more] ... [more]. What is Minimalism?
Does the story of Noah's Flood reflect a cataclysmic event millennia ago? It has seemed a solid possibility. Now there are doubts... [more]
Look Ma, no hands! Why do we enjoy taking dangerous risks? Darwin knew, and so does Amotz Zahavi, theorist of the Handicap Principle... [more]
Marcel Proust knew how rich life is with beauty we never see and meaning we never plumb: we prefer an underexamined life to an underlived one... [more]
Helicopters heave into view, Wagner blaring. Jungle, jeeps, bridges explode in flame. Apocalypse Now is a spectacle of power without a mind... [more]. Or, it's a pack of lies.
"I don't pretend to know anything about art," said Walt Disney. "I make pictures for entertainment, and then the professors tell me what they mean"... [more] ... [more]
The uselessness of men is not the point, says Germaine Greer. Mothers love their boys more, the more useless they are. Women don't want to annihilate men... [more]
Some poetry should be seen but not heard, says Adam Kirsch. A poem is what the poet wrote down on the page. Everything else is show business... [more]
A painted portrait is an artist's record of an arrested surface. A novelist paints the invisible: thoughts, subtle or violent changes in whole lives, writes A.S. Byatt... [more]
Robert Louis Stevenson was an awful playwright, sub-par poet, and fitful journalist. But he was still a wondrous writer of English prose... [more]
Is self-esteem really a core human value? India Knight argues that allowing a child to feel bad about itself can be a necessary kindness, not a crime... [more]
Authentic Christmas tradition, if it exists at all, requires overdoing it. Squandering money, drinking, and eating too much is a habit that goes back to the Romans... [more]
Fresh Air? How about calling that show Lurid Speculations? It's like Dr. Laura for people with college degrees, an example of Middle Mind, says Curtis White... [more]
It was the America's dark secret: behind picket fences, hidden by suburban curtains, fathers were raping daughters to prepare them for their proper role in society... [more]
Men grow old disgracefully. Why not women? If Sarah Bernhardt could play Hamlet elderly and one-legged, what's to stop the rest of us? asks Katharine Whitehorn... [more]
No-Style novels. Flat, short-spurt grafs. Choppy sentence fragments, sometimes. Other times with no verbs. Or maybe. Single. Words. Linton Weeks explains... [more]
Stirring the imagination, making the intellect more agile, evoking memory, forcing us to look harder — reading poems is a lot like learning, says Billy Collins... [more] ... [more]
Next to Wagner's Ring cycle, The Lord of the Rings is a story for kiddies. It's Wagner without angst, without that brooding, twilight sense of spiritual disaster... [more]
The idea that we should remove risks from our lives, avoiding dangerous pleasures and fun, is not something our stone-age brains are designed to accept... [more]
John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin prefer equality to liberty. Their Orwellian view of justice is accepted by academic elites as the undisputed basis for a good society... [more]
My Child Is an Honor Student. It's a bumper sticker great for parental self-esteem. So is My Child Can Beat Up Your Honor Student... [more]
Do your kidneys have low energy? Lewis Wolpert's did. He's better now, thankfully, but he'd like to know what kind of energy his kidneys lacked... [more]
Judith Shulevitz was given a chance to make a fool of herself as editor at Lingua Franca. The result was an edgier, weirder, and simply better magazine... [more]
Fundamentalist terror does not strive to eliminate injustice, oppression, or poverty. It wills simply to destroy any opposition, writes Edward Rothstein... [more]
Why do people declare a new epoch every five minutes? To avoid the trauma of the new, says Slavoj Zizek. "It is a deeply conservative gesture"... [more]
Multiculturalism and "inclusion" are easy, says Margaret Talbot, while gaining a deep knowledge of another place, and speaking its language, is hard... [more]
"Life is only given us once," says Anton Chekhov through the voice of a doomed character, "and one wants to live it boldly, with full consciousness and beauty"... [more]
Albert Camus's The Plague is not so much an allegory of Vichy France as of dogma, conformity, and cowardice in all their public forms... [more]
In the war between religion and science, the medieval and the modern, we've long known which side was bound to win. Now the Islamic world knows too... [more]
Orientalism has morphed into a kind of Occidentalism bent on showing not how the West degrades the East, but how the West itself is despised... [more]
The Lord of the Rings is a little world with its own university, library, and structure of knowledge. Enter it and you become an imaginary student... [more]
History has not ended, and there is no clash of civilizations. What we are witnessing today is a conflict of world-views, says Michael Lind... [more]
The heroically good person is the believer who risks an eternity in hell by refusing an unjust demand by God. Morality does not need religion, says Alan Dershowitz... [more]
Schopenhauer in sound is a way to describe Wagner's Tristan, an opera meant to express the idea that music is the deepest art... [more]
Iris Murdoch understood that if a writer must choose between life and art, better to live wildly first and write later... [more]. There's a biopic on the way.
Lawrence Lessig has contempt for centralized control and a deep belief in the power of communal property, says Steven Johnson... [more]
Nazis were nationalists. But so were the English and Russians who fought them. Nationalism can be as much a virtue as a vice... [more]
>From ol' Uncle Walt to the era of Michael Eisner, the Disney Empire has shrunk from heroic morality tale to amusement park to mere market share... [more]
Ivory Towers on Sand is a brave J'accuse, a cluster bomb of a book, sure to injure many scholars... [more] ... [more] ... [more] ... [yet more] ... [still more]
Languages, exotic or dead, are less different than they seem. Having made basic choices of principles, their grammars naturally follow... [more]
"Your call is important to us." And so is your money, but not your time, which we'll waste at will. Just another example of Junk English... [more]
Emily Dickinson seldom left home and talked to friends through half-closed doors. Yet in her reclusive life there burned a white hot flame... [more]
Stanley Fish's Milton is the work of a man who prefers USA Today to the Times, likes soap operas, and is unawed by the culture of Europe... [more]
Lisa del Gioconda. We make her into Leonardo's lover. She's a pregnant mom, or a vampire. In truth, her allure comes out of a strange emptiness... [more]
Autobiography deceives us twice over: the reader is fooled by the author, the author by himself. Edward Teller's is no exception... [more] ... [more] ... [still more]. Review by Hans Bethe.
Alice Munro has an exquisite sense of place with no need to mythologize or ape the sweeping American social novel... [more] ... [more]
Thank you, Comrade Stalin! More than just a political system, Stalinism was a way of life keenly embraced by many Russians... [more]
Politics is a battle for linguistic authority. "The world thinks," Michelet said. "France speaks." And speaks, and speaks... [more] ... [more]
On academic email lists, men send longer messages, engage in more self-promotion, make fewer apologies, ask fewer questions... [more]
You can't paint T.S. Eliot as an arrogant, miserly, exploitative creep without implying that his wife, Vivien, was an imbecile to stay with him... [more]
The oyster moment: raise the half-shell, throw back your head, with your teeth scrape the briney creature from its lair, swallow it alive... [more]
Stephen Hawking's new book, The Universe in a Nutshell, reads like confessions of a cunningly camouflaged mystic... [more] ... [more]
Grass: before we edged and mowed it for suburban pleasure, ancient flower-rich meadows domesticated us. We evolved with grass... [more]
Britain's emblem is London, an unplanned, half-finished ruin of a city. The English don't try too hard, says Stuart Jeffries. Paris, on the other hand... [more]
A prize-winning book argues that gun culture in America is an invented tradition and gun ownership was once relatively rare. Is the author a liar?... [more]
Race, genetics, and medicine are intertwined. To pretend we are all at the same risk for disease may be good politics, but it's silly science... [more]
Artist Walter Sickert was the real Jack the Ripper, says an obsessed Patricia Cornwell, and she's destroyed one of his paintings to prove it... [more]
"Like Sir Ranulph Fiennes, her hand moved from my knee and with a steely will headed north, towards the pole." Oh dear, it's the Bad Sex Award... [more]
To say that there were no great painters before optical devices, argues Susan Sontag, is like saying there were no great lovers before Viagra... [more]
Was Adam Smith the founding father of right-wing free-market economics? Or was he a radical critic of the establishment?... [more]
The Pope prays for it, Bono pleads for it. But is debt relief good for poor countries? Maybe not, says William Easterly... [more]
"To believe in one God you have to be a cretin. That is the only word for it. And the most crass religion is Islam." Thus spake Michel Houellebecq... [more]
Nigger, a powerfully offensive word in English, is the title of a new book by Randall Kennedy. Revulsion began with staff at his publisher... [more]
A room with no view. Writers need a place to work, but a card table in the basement or a toolshed is best: imagination must meet memory in the dark... [more]
Dwight Macdonald's worst vice was his "easily aroused indignation." It was also his virtue. Absent indignation, he lapsed into sad, alcoholic silence... [more]
Concerto for scalpel, clamp, and sutures. Tonsillectomies with Toscanini? E. Power Biggs for organ transplants? Surgery clearly needs music... [more]
The poker principle ended a meeting of Popper, Russell, and Wittgenstein. Who uttered it? And why was Wittgenstein waving that poker around?... [more]
Can mere talk be some kind of sexual assault? Do computers enable virtual rape, a crime punished by real prison? Wendy Kaminer wonders... [more]
P.G. Wodehouse wanted only to keep in front of his audience with broadcasts from Berlin. Bad mistake, says Robert McCrum... [more]
David Halberstam has no time for pop culture. Bill Clinton makes him shudder. He's journalism's stern father figure and he wishes we'd grow up... [more]
South Asia has all ingredients for its own nuclear war: bombs and missiles, poor precautions against unauthorized use, and religious fanatics... [more]
Most deadly wild creature in North America: the grizzly bear? Rattlesnake? Mountain lion? You'd never guess: it's Bambi... [more]
Who's killing the Internet? It's corporations, lawyers, policy wonks, regulators, judges, and busybody lawmakers. All so well intentioned... [more]
Lingua Franca found both the rare excitement of real thinkers grappling with new ideas and the sad comedy of pretentious sophists spreading fog... [more]
Thanksgiving dinner has been creolized by Arab Americans: cumin turkey stuffed with hashwa, cranberries, tabouli, and cardamom coffee... [more]
Was foot binding really so bad? Were Chinese women morons and their men perverts? How far are bound feet from nipple rings and tongue studs?... [more]
The President's bioethics advisor has built a strange intellectual defense of "yuck" reactions, the wisdom of repugnance... [more]

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