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Nota Bene Archive

“Read this!”
What Godzilla means
Oh, intellectuals!
Goodbye, Tom Brokaw
Nietzsche’s brain
Detecting forgeries
Textbook disclaimers
That damn girdle
New Iron Curtain
Falluja cameraman
Mandarin and music
No apologies
It changed the world!
Faith-based nat’l parks
Bad schools
World poverty
Football physics
No, Canada!
Bush vs fanatics
Pavlov’s brother
Warming or cooling?
Hi tech in Fallujah
Kinsey, again
Leaving for Canada?
Quixotic Cervantes
On gift-giving
Derrida, Barthes, Che
Mr. Fussy’s Paris
Sex and Kinsey
Restored Buddha
When novelists vote
Thomas Frank
Paul Wolfowitz
You’re a genius!
Cultural cold war
Arab hip-hop
When Nobelists speak
Jack Kerouac
TV turn-off
Iraq’s bloggers
Word birthdays
When novelists vote
Food for thought
American scapegoat
Coke vs Pepsi
Reagan on film
Kerry in Vietnam
Ken Bigley’s fate
Vive la France!
When novelists vote
Afghan boomlet
Stanford vs. Berkeley
Veblen’s house
Bride and Prejudice
Attack dogs
Your filthy keyboard
Bela Bartok
Driving to Baghdad
Vitamins and cancer
Strange kindness
Leaving Harvard
Art of bribery
What’s so funny?
New Hemingway story!
Chinese dyslexia
More on Cat Stevens
Arab lit
Cat Stevens
Rather irrelevant
Buddhist punks
Art and fakery
Gabo barred
The Bicycle Thief
Walleyed Rembrandt
Do animals think?
Zizek on toilets
Not true
Four day war
Goodbye Linnaeus
Smelling madeleine
Putin’s fury
Music and IQ, again
Elmore Leonard
Porn bio
When chefs dream
Mozart had Tourette’s?
Muslims and heaven
Christopher Isherwood
Olympics R.I.P
A.J. Liebling
College life today
Political brain
Non-kosher worms
A general’s library
The Scream stolen
Voting behavior
It’s “web” (no caps)
More Bushisms
Marrying down
Who will rule?
James Wood
Julia Child R.I.P.
Bernard Levin R.I.P.
Hold the double latte!
Xerox power
Lolita in Tehran
I. B. Singer at 100
Is KenJen a genius?
Johan Bruyneel
Hawking was wrong
EU and game theory
Chalabi and the press
BC’s index
No nano?
Improvised Pulitzer
Regarding Friedman
Bernard-Henri Lévy
Ernst Mayr at 100
Stop hip-hop!
Their salaries?
Patten on Huntington
National Enquirer
Mozart, unacceptably
Oppie Fest
Britain’s top 100
Dear Foodie
Bill’s Bob
Saddam and dic-lit
Medalist Podhoretz
67 percent
Indoor sunlight
Praising mandolin
ZZ’s goal
Isaac Bashevis Singer
Meet Joe Blog
Gingrich the reviewer
Diego Rivera and Mao
The smoking poor
Ingmar Bergman
Dog’s vocabulary
Wolfowitz’s Iraq
Bill’s Monica
Science fraud
Bad stats
Liberty lost
Ignoring history
French vacations
Big Mac index
Goodbye verbs
Traitor Chalabi
Warring Freudians
Tragic Maradona
Allen Ginsberg
NY Times and Iraq
Sontag on torture
Daily Self-Googling
Who invented Lolita?
Write your column
Kyoto? Nyet!
Try sex
Breast baring
Godot in Beijing
No, Troy is awful
Troy’s not so bad
Prussian Revolution
Gowns, gavels, Picasso
Ferguson vs Kagan
“He slapped me and cried”
What if Jimmy Carter...
Dorfman on torture
Homer vs Hollywood
“Arts & Ideas” R.I.P.
Iraqi strongman?
Street retreats
Grade inflation
Hersh on Abu Ghraib
750,000? 1 Million?
Amirault free at last
Rattled in Berlin
Larry Diamond on Iraq
Poets die young
Einstein in old age
John Maynard Smith
Scent of time
Rude conductors
More on Carl Schmitt
Murderer al-Sadr
The Time 100
China’s Internet police
Conspiracy theories
PDB in PowerPoint
Jersey Girl Fatigue
Ingmar Bergman
Lucian Freud
Einstein’s brain
Memo, 6 Aug 2001
Future terrorists
Bring back Saddam
Codes in notes
Sartre and Camus
Jesus and Socrates
Teller and the cold war
Dmitri Shostakovich
Castañeda on Huntington
Day of the cicada
Iraq’s constitution
Punctuality pays
Women’s magazines
Hundertwasser’s toilet
Unequal pay
“Hair on fire”
Lord Carey on Islam
Previewing Raines
PC sign language
Dave’s tax tips
Punks for Bush
Baghdad graffiti
Hard and soft power
Weird Science
Hitchens on Spain
Tales of the chef
Do fatties sing better?
Steyn on terrorism
Where Jack slept
Skinner’s daughter
Too fat soprano
Martha Stewart
Jorge Guinle R.I.P
Ventura at Harvard
Blair’s speech
Unsafe SUVs
Lomborg’s latest
George F. Kennan
Turner’s blindness
Hitchens on Gibson
Victor Davis Hanson
Office hours
MMR and autism
Sen on owl
Mel Gibson’s Passion
Understanding autism
X-Treme Latin
Historians slammed
Janácek’s muse
Buchanan, Frum, Perle
William Gibson
Tricks of the trade
Janet’s nipple
Clash of civilizations
Leszek Kolakowski
Porn und Drang
Darwin Day
Doyle on Joyce
Korean Auschwitz
Unhappy endings
NYT bites back
Andras Schiff
Top ten delusions
How to read Proust
Genetic Adam, Eve
Cake sharing
Children can lie
Robert K. Merton
Lost luggage
Accidental genius
Je ne regrette rien
Pianists as showmen
Boswell’s Jackson
Rude to Osama!
Robert Silvers
Starbucks in Paris
Vandalizing art
Blocked writer
San Francisco
Aristotle, art, sex
No WMDs? So what?
How disgusting!
Immanuel Kant
Edward Albee
Cellist’s lament
Instruction manual
Endless movie credits
Love makes you crazy
No queuing!
Horowitz and Milstein
Fredric Jameson & Son
Dating an ex-wife
A-bombs: hard to make
Fairy Tales
Google’s Zeitgeist
Dave Barry’s 2003
Fruit police
New Year’s is for Bozos
Sex and silliness
Politics of autism
Carolyn Heilbrun
Mao at 110
Hip masculinity
No breaks
Gadaffi’s fear
Endgame for tyrants
Iraq’s “disappeared”
Hari vs Dawkins
Resolution time
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Easy grades, light reading loads, and above all a prof you can enjoy. Today’s university culture is one of all entertainment, all the time... more»
Che Guevara presided over the Cuban Revolution’s first firing squads. He founded Cuba’s “labor camps,” useful for dealing with gays, dissidents, AIDS victims... more»
Rules of debate. You may not stick fingers in your mouth pretending to vomit while your opponent speaks. Do not use the terms girlie-man, frog, or bozo. Elevator shoes are strictly forbidden... more»
The story of Oskar Schindler was not something Thomas Keneally found. Rather, it found him. He was looking for a briefcase. In Beverly Hills... more»
Hannah Arendt’s imperious tone, her condescension toward “oppressed” Negroes, makes her essay, “Reflections on Little Rock,” an uneasy read today... more»
Vanity Fair shows us one of the great personalities of fiction: the charming and utterly amoral Becky Sharp. Now also in a feeble, lumbering mess of a movie... more»
The essay as a literary form does not take as its task the defense of a position. Essays meander. They explore. They surprise not just readers, but their writers... more»
Chimps who look identical to us are as different in chimp eyes as a Kikuyu looks different to a Scot in our eyes, says Richard Dawkins. So what is race about?... more»
McMoralism condemns the lower orders for making the wrong food choices. The issue is less about fast food and more about the kind of people who eat it... more»
Einsteins doubts about the truth of the Old Testament carried over to the “complete truth” he was taught in physics. Having been fooled once... more»
Prostitution is sex at its most pure: it’s lust, free of ulterior motives. Sebastian Horsley wants “to fall into a woman’s arms without falling into her hands”... bad taste advisory»
In our post-ideological age, there is still one big idea to fill the void left by defunct belief systems. It’s powerful, enjoys worldwide popularity, and it is very dangerous... more»
William Shakespeare, his life so plain, his works so fancy, became for his age the closest thing we might see to an overnight sensation... more»
The Wahhabi Koran: “Guide us to the Straight Way...not [the way] of those who have earned Your Anger (such as Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as Christians).” Huh?... more»
Leonardo da Vinci was in our terms a consultant: a bit of David Hockney, some Stephen Hawking, and a civil engineer... more»
The litany of death, turmoil, and pain visited on Armenia leaves you surprised that the country still stands at all... more»
Exuberant people can exhibit mania, poor judgment, and be a pain in the neck. Exuberance still is a key to success... more»
After all the ups and downs of the energy market, this at last looks like the end of cheap oil. We won’t run out next week, but... more»
Capitalism depends on an idea of counterculture to peddle new styles to rather ordinary people. But we’re all rebels now... more» ... more»
Globalizations ozone hole: the poor countries that won’t join the modern society of nations. They are a threat to everyone... more»
Landon Carter railed against his son, watched the weather, and caught hummingbirds, as told in his diary of colonial America... more»
When The New Yorker finally ran one of Richard Yates’s stories, his daughter gave the box of his ashes a shake: “Way to go, Dad!”... more»
“Every woman has a beautiful body,” Desmond Morris says, “beautiful because it is the brilliant end-point of a million years of evolution”... more»
Michael Oakeshott called Isaiah Berlin a “Paganini of ideas,” which is better than what Berlin called Oakeshott... more»
As Milton did with Satan, so did Graham Greene give his wicked, ghoulish characters and dodgy dealers all the best lines... more»
The Electoral College as a way to choose a president is a mess. But the alternatives show perhaps the Founding Fathers were right... more»
From Blade Runner to Total Recall to Paycheck, the films get worse in a kind of vast, black conspiracy against Philip K. Dick... more»
The sullen counts against him persist to this day: Ulysses S. Grant was “drunk, butcher, scandal-monger”... more»
British biology’s origins are modest. Darwin and his plankton, Wallace and his beetles: boys on bicycles with butterfly nets... more»
History treated the great anti-Stalinist Victor Serge badly. But as he said, “History can only impose its solutions by running people over”... more»
Anton Chekhov looked at life in all its banality and tragic comedy and refused to make a judgment. But what stories he told... more»
Development first, and then put democracy in place. It’s a bad idea. Poor countries need democracy first, and more of it... more»
Capital punishment. Janet Reno says it doesn’t cut murder rates, Orrin Hatch says it does. Who’s right? Easy question? No!... more»
Christopher Hitchens sips a whisky enveloped by his usual cloud of Rothmans smoke. Sure, he’s backing Bush. But that doesn’t mean... more»
Your beliefs are like your wardrobe. How dare anybody question your style? Your ideology is your own. As for evidence... more»
Fortune cookies were born in Los Angeles in 1918. They may be de rigueur in U.S. Chinese restaurants, but don’t try selling them in China... more»
In 1654, a small boatload of refugees, expelled from Brazil by the Portuguese, arrived in New Amsterdam – the first Jews... more»
A few lucky kamikaze pilots survived WWII. So how do they feel about being likened to Islamic suicide bombers? Just ask one... more»
To read the sonnets as sexual autobiography is tempting. But it’s here Shakespeare is at his most open and most elusive... more»
Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’s ideas have comforted some people. But then bogus theories and pseudoscience often can... more»
Get out and vote! Even though you know that it will not make a damned bit of difference to the outcome. Jim Holt faces election reality... more»
Françoise Sagan, who reached the top the NYT bestseller list at age 19 with fiction perfect for its day, is dead... more» ... more» ... Le Monde
Did God make autumn leaves bright red to please Sunday painters? Or to scare off bugs? Or is it an accident?... more»
Nikolai Getman’s paintings of life and death in the Soviet gulags are uniquely chilling documents of a dark episode... more»... images.
An academic at a party once tried to show his disdain for Philip Roth by pretending to mistake him for Herman Wouk. It gave Roth an opportunity... more»
He wouldn’t give his own baby girl a bath. An angry ex-girlfriend might twist the truth. A tickle is sex abuse, a hug is lechery. Children lie. Ed Sampley knows... more»
Professors sport bad tweed and worn-out black. Men wear sweaters knitted for them in 1988. Some strive painfully for a jaunty look. The women? Oh, dear... more»
Preventive detention as a means to combat terrorism. It’s an idea the U.S. has long felt uneasy about. Time to face the arguments, says Thomas F. Powers... more»
Fundamentalism, taking holy writ literally and dogmatically, is what science best resists, says Umberto Eco: provando e riprovando – try, try again, and reject... more»
The Germans today deeply love their natural landscape, enjoying the same emotions felt by other nationalities. But history denies them a chance to take pride in being German... more»
“If I were Poet Laureate,” says Joseph Epstein, “I would put a poem in every pair of pajamas, fortune cookie, and NHL game program published during my tenure”... more»
Sovereignty is such an ordinary notion that we never call it into question. Compared with “justice” or “democracy,” it’s a philosophical embarrassment... more»
Vision and flight have evolved many times over. But what of evolutionary one-offs? The spider with its diving bell. The beetle that sets off explosives. So weird, so wonderful... more»
Contemporary society pays lip service to the innovator, but really loves the conformist. Look at book publishing, says Lindsay Waters... more»
If philosophy is the new rocknroll, is Alain de Botton its Colonel Tom Parker? More likely its Pat Boone: all ideas made bland, sanitary, digestible... more»
Not materialistic enough. That is the problem with Americans. Less and less they want stuff, more and more they want experiences. Virginia Postrel explains... more»
Environmentalism has flowed into the gaps left by political ideology and religion. To buy organic and recycle makes you so much holier than the next guy... more»
Objective truth is an illusion, says Stanley Fish, and even to worry about the nature of truth is a waste of time. Michael Lynch wonders if that’s true... more»
Debates on imperialism turn the ideas of Marx and Lenin into “zombie categories” – terms that seem to make sense only because nobody takes them seriously... more»
Moralized shame and disgust are a bad basis for law and punishment, argues Martha Nussbaum... more». Shame? We need more of it, says Roger Kimball.
Philosophers are a nuisance, as are children – and neurotics. Nuisance creates a resistant, or even hostile, environment, inviting the avoidance it fears... more»
David Brooks explains his huge output: “My desperate loneliness and pathetic sadness make me work to fill the hollow void that is my life.” John Updike uses drugs... more»
Mr. Oppenheimer, given what has happened since, would you again accept to develop the bomb? Even after Hiroshima?” “Yes”... more»
The foundations of civilization are but modest: consider for instance games of peekaboo and patty-cake... more»
A self-absorbed man shocked into deeper self-absorption by the fall of the Twin Towers. Art Spiegelman, annoyingly full of himself... more»
Jan Morris is an optimist: “Youth, hope and silliness go together,” she writes of Sydney, “in cities as in people”... more»
Alfred Russel Wallace was almost a great scientist. Alas, were it not for the politics, the religion, the séances... more»
Intellectuals: feared as sinister minds yet pitied as bumbling eccentrics who wear their underpants back to front... more»
Stalin and Churchill, like two aging real estate brokers, sat across from each other and determined nationsfates... more»
Most people who own dogs, or who are owned by dogs, treat them as family. Lucky dogs – and lucky families... more»
In hindsight, it seems so clear that eugenics was a fascistic notion, its adherents deluded or racist. But in the 1930s... more»
All attempts to duplicate the violins of Stradivarius have so far failed, in the same way chemists can’t duplicate fine wine... more»
“Oedipus, schmoedipus. So what, as long as the boy loves his mother?” Psychoanalysis has become a Jewish joke... more»
Truman Capote appeared as a “gorgeous apparition, flitting and fluttering” up the corridors of The New Yorker... more»
For John Gray our faith in progress in politics and ethics is a sad illusion, “The Prozac of the thinking classes”... more»
The part of Poland where P.G. Wodehouse was interned by the Germans was bleak: “If this is Upper Silesia, what must Lower Silesia be like?”... more»
George and Laura Bush have cleverly revived the Clintons’ promise of “two for one,” says Naomi Wolf. Now with the help of the bossy Mrs. Kerry... more»
Nostalgia, hatred, nausea, guilt – urgent feelings of European Jews in America, and the writers this immigrant culture produced... more»
Alexander the Great did not have a mounted professor of Greek in the front line of his cavalry. But he does now... more»
Libertarians are locked in a do-or-die battle with social conservatives for the soul of the Republican Party. So what of the Democrats?... more»
Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe: great American mind meets great American body. And the story’s not over yet. Not by a longshot... more»
Shame, indignation, shyness: whatever causes blushing, that red face seldom occurs when we are alone. It marks us as social animals... more»
The Voynich manuscript has for centuries foiled attempts to decipher it. Now its mystery is solved. Could this be the start of something?... more»
Sometimes he seems an Abbie Hoffman, other times a Milton Friedman, or the lead guitarist of Iron Maiden. Strange that Lewis Lapham... more»
Democracy seems a lovely and benign idea, but carries in itself seeds of a dark possibility: mass murder... more»
“Home is, I suppose, just a child’s idea. A house at night, and a lamp in the house.” V.S. Naipaul likes the idea of home... more»
Did the man who wrote The Merchant of Venice and created Shylock ever meet a Jew? It seems unlikely, and yet... more»
Do you prefer a shower to a bath? Are you fascinated by fire? Feel uneasy indoors? And whats the point of such questions?... more»
Your job is pointless, inane. You can be replaced by the cretin sitting next to you. So work as little as possible. Here’s how... more»
Islam is changing. 9/11 and Beslan are leading millions of Muslims to question their faith. It could be the start of a Reformation... more»
Tchaikovsky’s music could have all the “brutal, wretched jollity of a Russian holiday. We see vulgar faces, hear curses, smell vodka” Oh?... more»
Call them assailants, bombers, captors, commandos, fighters, guerrillas, gunmen, militants, radicals, rebels, or activists. Anything but terrorists... more»
Alcohol makes us happy for no reason. But wine – ah, it gives us a reason to let alcohol make us happy without one... more»

The circularity of Arab politics: denial of its own failures brings greater failures. New crises are blamed on the West or Jews who victimize Arabs. That in turn... more» ... more» ... MEMRI.
In order to serve you better, we need to know which order you belong to. For Primates, press 1. Cetacea, press 2. Jesuit, press 3. If you are a Mason or have a rotary phone... more»
Give up mind/body dualism, says Paul Bloom, and you give up the idea that we survive the destruction of our bodies. Neuroscience can be a bitter pill... more»
The job of criticizing Bush’s “fatal vision of a world order,” says Jürgen Habermas, can succeed by keeping itself completely free of anti-Americanism... more»
Contrary to general perception in the U.S., the French are neither wimps nor weasels when it comes to fighting Islamic extremism. Bret Stephens explains... more»
Graham Greene wrote of “perfect evil walking the world where perfect good can never walk again, and only the pendulum ensures that in the end justice is done”... more»
Most business books are little more than expanded PowerPoint shows, with bullet points and sidebars setting out unrelated examples or unconnected ideas... more»
Seduced her daughter’s boyfriend! Daytime reality TV can tell us more about the state of the culture than the stuff that goes by that name in prime time... more»
The deafening silence of the Arab-Muslim world over mass murder in Darfur shows an entrenched racism no one wants to know about. Salim Mansur speaks out... more»
No democracy can flourish against plutocratic, imperial forces, says Cornel West, without citizens girded by Socratic questioning, prophetic witness, and tragicomic hope... more»
The liberation of Paris was a brief episode of joy. But the city settled down to a life that was muted, bruised, forlorn. Paula Fox was there... more»
There are maybe 175,000 new book titles that show up every year. So are all those books good news or bad? Robert McCrumb considers the question... more»
Persons of high ability whose lives were too busy and hectic: the type to develop an ulcer. The remedy? Boiled milk, fish, antacids. A long, sad chapter in medical history... more»
Nothing like academics under threat to show a pack mentality. Consider the historians of Australia who’ve had their work exposed by Keith Windschuttle... more»
Booker Prize entries this year share distaste for the middle class (racist, xenophobic, etc.). Whores, beggars, or asylum-seekers naturally have hearts of gold... more»
“Are we ready and willing to act on the moral responsibilities history has so squarely placed upon our shoulders?” Ready, yes, says Norman Podhoretz. But willing?... more»
After 400 pages of Antonio Negri’s fantasy Marxism, Johann Hari felt like he’d been raped by a dictionary of sociology. But it wasn’t just the jargon... more»
Islamic economics bans interest, levies a wealth tax, and calls for honesty and altruism in commercial dealings. High ideals, easily corrupted... more»
Palestinian Christian suicide bombers don’t exist. Nor are there Tibetan suicide bombers. Political oppression is not the problem. Religion is... more» ... more»
Despite centuries of progress in economic theory since Adam Smith, people still refuse to behave logically in economic contexts. Why, dammit, why?... more»
You gave me gifts, God-Enchanter.
I give you thanks for good and ill.
Eternal light in everything on earth.
As now, so on the day of my death.
Czeslaw Milosz, 1911 - 2004... more» ... more» ... more» ... more» ... NPR audio. Bernard Lane wrote of Milosz the day before he died.
Edward Elgar’s music had for some an “almost intolerable air of smugness, self-assurance, and autocratic benevolence.” The perfect, boring Victorian... more»
When academics talk about “the Greeks” they never mean Melina Mercouri, but only people who lived 2000 years ago. Even a Cyclops could see something’s wrong here... more»
A gorgeous spectacle: mart, court, hive of industry where people meet, laugh, marry, die, paint, write and act. Virginia Woolfs lost essay on London... more»
Conferences on French national identity now outnumber striptease shows in Paris. It’s France’s summer of discontent... more» Plus, there’s that wine problem. Why not just loaf?
If only academics had the wit and nerve to honor style: taking pleasure in the craft of writing and allowing their audiences to find joy in reading. If only... more»
Terrorism, all agreed 30 years ago, was a left-wing revolutionary shift caused by oppression. Fix the evil and no more terrorism. That was then, now is now... more»
Tom Hodgkinson wants love, sex, anarchy, booze, cigarettes, and freedom. Some would call his idea of life idle, mere laziness. Hey, he agrees... more»
The angel and devil that sit on the shoulders of Americans: the desire for material wealth and feelings of guilt about it. Why do we worry so much?.. more»
Exercises in “guided fantasy” and “sensitivity training” have replaced memorization in the classroom to free children for creativity. What an empty freedom... more»
Why encourage reading? Well, uh, we need informed citizens to have democracy. And, uh, reading conveys knowledge! It gives us the bounty of the past! And, uh... more»
High levels of Hispanic immigration and low rates of assimilation could change the U.S. into a land of two languages, two peoples, says Samuel Huntington... more»
What inspires disgust in the very idea of male homosexuality is a fear of anal penetration: stickiness, ooze, and death. A bad basis for law... more» ... more»
The late style. Artists tend toward a spirit of reconciliation and serenity in the works of their old age, argues Edward Said in his last essay... more»
A country’s literature is a kind of foreign policy, an expression of personality. Why don’t the British take more interest in the European literary carnival around them?... more»
Carbon dioxide isn’t the only familiar item of nature to be vilified in recent years. There’s also that nearby star of death and disease, a.k.a. the sun... more»
The New York Times’s “Portraits of Grief” aimed to highlight the 9/11 victims as a distinct personalities. Instead, it trivialized them... more»
No recent invention has done more to cheapen and degrade the art of music than the Sony Walkman. That day it was born was the day music began to die... more»
Forget about the Iraq war. The roots of anti-Americanism go deeper into questions of wealth and who has it, power and who exercises it... more»
If an unexamined life is not worth living, the examination ought to be longer than ten minutes. Tell it to Dr. Phil... more»
Denis Diderot began his great Encyclopédie as a French version of Chambers’s work, but it soon took on a life quite its own... more»
Robert Ingersoll wanted Reason, “throned upon the world’s brain, to be the King of Kings, and God of Gods.” Brave atheism... more»
Madame Bovary is the most precisely controlled formal masterpiece in the history of fiction. It is perfect... more»
Only about 10% of voters have a political belief system with defensible arguments. The rest will decide the next election... more»
Globalization works: India and China enjoyed a huge rise in standards of living in the 1980s and 90s. Martin Wolf explains why... more»
“Public intellectual” is an odd way to describe John Locke, but he was exactly that in the chaos of late-17th-century Europe... more»
So the failure to prevent the 9/11 attacks was the result not of bad luck, enemy skill, or an infinite array of targets. No, it was – what?... more» ... more»
The Enlightenment was a great epoch, but it’s been pilfered by the French. Time to return it to the British and the Americans... more»
Journalists on the bus with a candidate feed off the same pool reports, the same daily handouts, in the same mobile village. They’re a pack... more»
The French like to write about themselves: 200 books on Mitterrand, 3000 on De Gaulle. But they can do so with both rigor and elegance... more»
Pamela Anderson didn’t want to be burdened writing a big book. She’s a busy mom. She’s got a new clothing line, and... more»
Books for young people are filled with abuse, addiction, mental illness, pregnancy, suicide, self-mutilation. “Teachers love them”... more»
WWII, a war of heroism, tells us never to back down from a bully. The Great War, a war of waste, teaches us never to rush into a fight... more»
If Jimmy Breslin had chosen the priesthood as a career, his sermons would have out-thundered Martin Luther himself... more»
“Freedom of the high seas” means simply that the ocean is a wilderness where people get away with murder, and worse... more»
Christopher Ricks’s book on Bob Dylan validates baby-boomer nostalgia and narcissism. As though Dylan needs it... more»
Music performance was like a love affair for Glenn Gould, best conducted in private. No audience, if you please!... more»
“That stupid, fraudulent” war in Iraq, made by a “gang of ignorant, greed-crazed bastards.” Hunter Thompson gets high on outrage... more»
Our jaded, TV-saturated age is a tough one for magicians. Imagine the awe of the first audience for levitation... more»
The ad hoc iconography of The Da Vinci Code leaves readers with the delusion that they’ve learned something about Leonardo’s art... more»
A Devil’s Dictionary for our day: staff of McSweeneys go into the future with a first-aid kit, hammer, and Burnt Icicle nail polish... more»
Edward Said was keen to attack ignorance and tribalism in the Arab world. Other critics of the Arabs were, of course, always wrong... more»
Terry Eagleton’s prose is full of platitudinous moralizing, silly similes, cheap nihilism, and off-the-peg Oedipal complexes... more»
Dmitry Mendeleyev was able to predict new elements with his great Periodic Table. Alas, he could not predict social events... more»
Language is the oldest and still smartest human technology. Nothing beats it in power and sophistication... more»
Canadian youth tend to see the U.S. as a menace. This news will surprise no one who looks at the history textbooks they are fed... more»
Rodney Dangerfield has his ways: “Try to make people like you. If they do, you can get a big laugh with a mediocre joke”... more»
Napoleons fatal 1812 march on Moscow. Few historic events have been as much obscured by ideology... more»
“People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.” Jorge Luis Borges preferred it to everyone except Mother... more»
Atheism envisioned a glorious future for a humanity freed from religion. It has not happened yet, and maybe... more»
Food is more than just fuel: it is polysaturated with culture. Consider haggis, hot dogs, Big Macs, or chicken soup... more»
“A book is a mirror. If an ass peers into it, you can’t expect an apostle to look out.” G.C. Lichtenberg dug deeper than anyone... more»
Whether applied to Bosnia and Vermeer or Parkinson’s disease and furniture design, Lawrence Weschler’s curiosity is intense and protean... more»
The rise of special interests in Washington gave bureaucrats an easy substitute for public approval. Voters? Who needs them?... more»
Roger Penrose starts with the simple stuff – Greek geometry. Anyone can follow him from there to a grasp of quantum gravity. He thinks... more»
Osip Mandelstam wrote of “huge laughing cockroaches” on Stalin’s top lip, “the glitter of his boot-rims.” The poem was a death sentence... more»
Truth is stranger than fiction since it need not be consistent. Is there a truth revealed by placing Henry James in a fiction?... more»
The Left can only win by losing its contempt for the unhip and the God-fearing. It must be for working people, blemishes and all... more»
Humans and animals alike talk about the same things every day: sex, real estate, food, who’s boss. Maybe... more»
Bush voters make babies, Kerry voters don’t. Evolution is still at work, and it spells bad news for the liberal left... more»
Guess who invented the idea of going to the beach? And guess when? The answer is improbable, judging by the local weather... more»
“God” told Leonard Bernstein to record anything he liked, and persuaded Stravinsky to record his own works... more»
Edward Teller was the father of the H-bomb. The father of the population bomb was Paul Ehrlich. At least the H-bomb worked... more»
Evelyn Waugh: was he an evil, greedy father who ate his children’s banana rations? Or is that the lies of another greedy Waugh?... more»
A “Moral Thermometer” was Benjamin Rush’s way to show which drinks lead to suicide. Steer clear of whisky, gin, and brandy... more»
Imagine a one-in-a-million shot happens to you. Well, don’t get too excited: it has to happen 295 times per day in the U.S. alone... more»
Will your kid stay home from school dances, introverted, unhappy? Or is he a Clint Eastwood type? You can tell at 4 months... more»
Romantics nostalgically long for ancient oral culture, filled with noble savages living close to nature. Not Walter Ong... more»
Fear of Flying does not in fact recommend adultery, says Erica Jong. “That’s the rap the book has gotten, but it’s really not fair”... more»
Trained by the Army, with help from Hollywood and Silicon Valley, todays young soldiers may live, fight, and even die in The Matrix... more»
“I owe my Olympic medal to my parents, coach, and above all to the wisdom of the G.O.P. and President Bush.” Just imagine... more»
“I couldn’t put it down.” It was, uh, “magisterial.” Or, “wickedly funny.” As for Tom Payne’s guide to reviewese, it’s “a searing indictment!”... more»
He was a young patent clerk who did physics in his spare time and declared brashly that professional physicists were “out of their depth”... more»
There’s an excellent reason why economics is called the dismal science: no one is really sure of anything. Put two economists together, and... more»
Is classical music now a mere niche interest? Can China save it? Are there any Big Ideas on its horizon?... more» ... more» ... more»
A tribe with only two color words still knows other colors. But what if a tribe can only count one, two, and many?... more»
“Happy families are all alike,” as Tolstoy said. And happy magazines too. Consider, for instance, Moscow’s Novy Ochevidets... more»
Edward Teller was a cultured and witty man. But when he became preoccupied with his enemies, whether foreign or domestic... more»
Philosophers arguing can seem like boxers bashing each other. Of course, actual boxers might well be more artful... more»
Overworked? Bone-tired? Hey, get yourself a job in Europe! You can unwind and enjoy those endless vacations. Niall Ferguson explains... more»
Julia Child dealt with a glaring flaw in the American ethic: an aversion to enjoying what you’ve labored for. And damn the butterfat... more»
“I’m not guilty, Your Honor, I’m innocent. It’s my brain what did it.” Well, if you cant control who you are... more»
Mongolia or Borneo were once real adventures. Now they even have Web access. The landscape of the mind is the last terra incognita... more»
Islamic democracy is what the politically correct call Turkey. But its democracy is no more Islamic than Canada’s is Christian... more»
Every time the Olympics alters its venue, millions of staff-hours of organizing know-how are lost. It’s time the games got a permanent home... more»
Like chimps, but with a more deadly refinement, human beings harness altruism and solidarity to wage war... more»
A three-hour film based on the work of Martin Heidegger is not likely to pack out theatres. But Finnish TV has picked it up. That’s a start... more»
“I am sick of nature,” says David Gessner. “Sick of trees, sick of birds, sick of the ocean.” And tired of dull, pious nature writing... more»
Welcome to Castros gulag: Cuba, the country where Neighborhood Watch takes on a whole new meaning. Eric Umansky reports... more»
Has Wahhabism been getting unfair press? Is it actually free from xenophobia and misogyny? Yes, says one scholar... more»
“Without a Kalashnikov you’re trash,” goes the saying in Sudan. It’s a brutal way to bring the Arabist agenda into force... more»
For progressives it was a sensible way to modernize the German language. For others it was state-ordered dyslexia... more» ... more» ... more» ... more»
Consciousness organizes itself in line with evolution: no divide between matter and soul, no spooks in the protoplasm... more»
Sidney Morgenbesser was the echte Jewish philosopher, down to his account of Jewish logic: “If P, so why not Q?”... more» ... more»
Paul Fussell describes the real texture of war: the cold, lice, rotten food, mutilations, and murders. With a literary eye... more»
We shop, therefore we are. It’s not exactly the American credo, but it comes close to being a national pastime, says Robert Samuelson... more»
Walter Benjamin knew the streets of Paris. In the end, he found himself hiking on a path to nowhere. His steps can be retraced today... more»
To succeed on TV, the party conventions need to take place on a single night with a phone-in poll to win the nomination: White House Idol!... more»
The overpopulation myth has such enduring appeal. Who doesn’t love a simple, easily graspable idea that seems to explain so much?... more»
What is dark energy? Can we fit black hole evaporation into quantum mechanics? Do extra dimensions exist? The big questions of physics... more»
Louis de Branges may not be a crank, but he is cranky. So if he has made the greatest math discovery of the last century... more»
Francis Crick, who helped discover the double helix shape of DNA, has died... San Diego Union ... BBC ... NY Times
The U.S. complains that China is undemocratic; Chinese call the U.S. hegemonic: powers on a collision course... more»
Managing ethnic diversity is costly, but worth it: many of the world’s richest countries are the most culturally varied... more»
In 1985, a young, scruffy, idealistic Joschka Fischer became Germany’s environment minister. In the end he has betrayed his supporters... more»
Money doesnt buy happiness. Sure, but money can buy time: a shorter commute, more leisure, more rest. And that can make for happiness. ... more»
Hundreds of Indian Muslim women have been raped and killed by Hindus whose beliefs owe a lot, says Martha Nussbaum, to European fascism... more»
Famous mainly in the West, and only because he was a Stalinist at the right moment, Pablo Neruda was both a bad poet and a bad man... more»
Private firms have a big say in military budgets, foreign policy, and war. This is now normal, admits John Kenneth Galbraith, but it remains hidden... more»
Exposing fraudulent contests, naming the sycophants, just cleaning house: it’s Foetry, the “poetry watchdog”... more»
Cultural wasteland, economic nightmare, outlaw, parasite, pariah. That’s America, in some European eyes. Bruce Bawer explains... more»
Well-armed but diplomatic, industrious but green, Europe may be the world’s first metrosexual superpower. Parag Khanna explains... more»
“The specter of Vietnam has been buried forever in the desert sands of the Arabian Peninsula,” said Bush snr. Yet the ghosts of past wars haunt us... more»
Bobby Fischer’s was a fragile mind that lost its way once he gave up chess. Garry Kasparov on the sad decline of a chess genius... more»
Joe Millionaire, Theodor Adorno, eyebrow dandruff. And Judith Butler, of course. Just another annual meeting of the MLA... more»
A goal of vengeance makes for a tough political battle: “It’s foolish to fight people who want death; that’s what they are looking for”... more»
With enough grunting and pointing, cavemen got “the gist.” It’s no standard for spelling and grammar, argues Lynne Truss... more»
Celebrity architecture has created a desire for ever more iconic buildings. But what does the “Bilbao effect” really add to a city?... more»
Michael Moore plays at politics, and quite brilliantly. But in his self-love he evades being held to real political standards... more»
Alarm over American jobs lost offshore should be tempered by the hard facts about trade. Brink Lindsey has ten of them... more»
High school English teacher Wilmer Stone read his students’ stories and poems aloud in a dull monotone. It helped drive James Baldwin to write a masterpiece... more»
A credibility problem has made the U.S. government an “axis of disorder.” Will getting rid of the neo-cons be the fix?... more»
Dale Peck insists his attacks aren’t personal: “If Rick Moody stabbed me in an alley, and I didn’t like his book, one doesn’t necessarily abrogate the other”... more»
Take away differences in money, age, religion, and geography, and what remains of the common experience of motherhood?... more»
His sympathy for the Palestinian cause earned him the “Professor of Terror” tag. Yet Edward Said was less a radical than a “rootless cosmopolitan”... more»
For the post-war Left, American history is little more than a litany of misdeeds. This view now has a name: punitive liberalism... more»
Disco, inflation, Starsky and Hutch, polyester, consumer debt: little wonder the 1970s were the cradle of postmodernism... more»
Waiting for rescuers with his legs crushed under a horse, Cole Porter spent six agonizing hours composing the lyrics to At Long Last Love... more»
With all their awkwardness, plastic cups, and forced smiles, do college reunions exist only to solicit money for alma mater?... more»
In finding its way forward, Islam needs a Renaissance – and a Leonardo. It does not need a Reformation, or a Luther. Stephen Schwartz explains... more»
Europe pioneered the Internet as a mass medium, but the U.S. has made the best use of it: Yahoo, Amazon, Google, eBay, and Arts & Letters Daily... more» ... in German.
Like beer advertisers that use bikini-clad women, Michael Moore relies on the power of association rather than proof, argues Todd Gitlin... more»
In the U.K. and Oz, “liberalism” means small government, free trade, and self-reliance. For Americans, it means Bill Clinton... more»
Without Gilchrist’s Life of William Blake, the “gentle yet fiery-hearted mystic” might’ve been forgotten as another rambling madman... more»
Faced with unintelligible poetry, the typical reader goes through stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. By the way, the poetry is still garbage... more»
Americans aren’t cowboys and Europeans are not wimps, says Timothy Garton Ash. Both are deeply on the side of freedom... more»
Falsehood wrapped in a crust of confusion and served with dollops of nonsense. It doesn’t get much worse than Hardt and Negris latest... more»
Hugh Hefner claims to have slept with “thousands of women – and they still like me.” How would he know?... more»
Rebecca Schroeter is a little known 18th-century daughter of a merchant. But she’ll earn fame as Haydns lover... more»
If women want men to do their fair share, they have to insist on it. No use to make other women do the work... more»
Americans see high-school dramatics as part of teens’ social ed. To the rest of the world, it looks torturous... more»
Both saw themselves as men of science: for Stalin and Hitler Marxist and racist “iron laws” ruled development... more»
Galvanism was discovered when a dissected frog’s legs twitched when they touched iron. Serendipity... more»
Fermented grapes were being drunk in the Pleistocene. The origins of wine may yet show us the advent of civilization... more»
People find real beauty in the building and garden of the Getty Museum. Why not its parking lot?... more»
For Oz to find its way, every white person needs to sit down before a mirror, saying, “I live in an Aboriginal country”... more»
Anti-globalists think of export belts as sheer exploitation. Better than farming for $1 a day, says Martin Wolf... more»
Andover, Yale, military pilot, oil, politics: he always came up short. But maybe George W. does the everyman act better... more»
They were “young, trim, tall, literate, with jet black skin.” In the family history of almost every successful African American, there’s a Pullman porter... more»
The banality of evil was an easy idea: he who committed the most evil deeds might not have a wicked heart... more»
A lightbulb goes on in the brain of a chimp, and he uses a pole to get at a banana. How does the behaviorist explain that?... more»
As a naive 22 year old, Traudl Junge was appointed Hitlers secretary, taking dictation from the dictator... more»
A culture of fear once pervaded the FBI. J.Edgar Hoover had the dirt on everyone from gangsters to presidents... more»
We may revile rats, but trouble in the rat population foretells trouble in our own, says Erica Barnett... more» ... more»
Before the days of the tabloids, royal mistresses weren’t just tolerated. They rivaled prime ministers in status... more»
Britain exploited its colonies but gave back roads, museums, water, religion. What did Russia give back? Not much, said Anton Chekhov... more»
Gertrude Himmelfarb rejects theory, be it based in class, politics, or postmodernism. But can history do without it?... more»
Traditionalism wages a war in which modernity is the enemy. It must destroy democracy to restore lost wisdom... more»
Queen Nefertiti had a way with roast chickens, ripping them apart, nary a knife or napkin in sight. She loved a feast... more»
When the Queen first appeared on the chessboard, she could only move to adjacent diagonal squares. How did she become its center of power?... more»
Radical feminists “spout bogus science and silence their critics with vicious tirades.” Neil Boyd wants a fight... more»
Even if income is doled out by merit or value of skills, we would still need to give the worst off a decent standard of living... more»
“Tell all” autobiographies rarely do that, especially when they’re politicians’. What do we really know about Clintonsdark places”?... more»
There is something fragile and moving at the core of W.B. Yeatss arduous foolishness. It may not be heroic, but it is deeply human... more»
If bad governments make for many of the world’s problems, state-building could be the fix, says Francis Fukuyama... more» ... more»
The study of primitive peoples was an armchair pursuit, until Malinowsky made a break into the field... more»
Déjà vu has for long lain in the “interesting but insoluble” box. It’s recently been roused by new theories... more»
Helena Rubinstein, Estée Lauder, and Elizabeth Arden: the short, hyper-ambitous, social climbing czarinas of beauty... more»
Believers often show stigmata, bleeding from their palms. Odd that they never manifest the gaping spear wound in Jesus’ side... more»
Little Johnny trying to force square pegs into round holes? Hey, he’s got dyspraxia, the hot, new dyslexia!... more»
The Freedom Vote project did energize the 1964 Democratic convention. But southern whites bolted, never looking back... more»
You read your conference talk aloud a hundred times, but on the day it never quite goes to plan... more»
Che Guevara, screenprint star of a million posters and t-shirts, is about to hit pay-dirt with his own road movie...more»
Anti-smoking messages may have saved millions of lives. Now the quitters eat too much, raising the obesity death toll... more»
Olympians just competed in Athens in the calculus and algebra events. Okay, but is math really a sport?... more»
Egypt has banned music videos showing womens navels. As recently as I Dream of Jeannie, the U.S. did the same... more»
Paranormal beliefs are found in every society. Getting rid of them is a fine idea, but would cultures survive without them?... more»
The naturalistic skill of the Great Masters was aided by magnifying glasses and concave mirrors. Were they cheating?... more»
The world’s only truly great post-war opera is about a loner, sadist, pedophile, and worse. Who was this Peter Grimes?... more»
Wills pass on our wealth to loved ones. But should we try to dictate “ethical wills” to pass on our values?... more»
Poetry, once hugely popular, is now an esoteric pastime. Novels are set to follow. The big, new idea is graphic novels... more»
Pulse, breathing, and voice can be controlled. But how to beat a lie detector test that scans the brain itself?... more»
The wholesale plagiarism of a Ph.D. thesis is bad enough. Worse, it shows how easy it is to fool the academic system... more»
They admit Josef Stalin was a monster. But Russians still crave a “good, strict father,” says Viktor Yerofeyev... more»
After sex, the female hides in her new shell. Her old shell becomes a postcoital snack for the male. It’s lobster life... more»
Sunblock for fair skin. Inhalers for asthmatics. Has natural selection been overcome by human intervention?... more»
“I see water and the number seven.” Ah, yes. But in fact, no police psychic has ever actually solved a crime... more»
It makes disturbing reading, in case anybody bothers to read it. A new study shows Americans read less and less... more» ... more» ... the report.
Brian Greenes romantic vision of an “elegant” and “beautiful” universe is sure charming. But is it good science?... more»
Strategy and technology will not alone win every war. Killing enough people often does. In defense of attrition... more»
Can the reconstruction of car accidents really show whether the driver and passenger were having sex?... more»
Pablo Neruda: senator, poet, diplomat, and communist “tried to capture the universe in a single book”... more» ... more»
Directors routinely smash huge cities, armies, and planets with the aid of computers. What about close-ups?... more»
Its odd script and bizarre images have long puzzled experts. Could Voynichs manuscript actually be a hoax?... more»
It was long held that one had to be virtuous to be happy. Then Americans made happiness itself a virtue... more»
Between religion and politics, is there room for an ethical view of the war in Iraq? Peter Singer wonders... more»
Health? Crime? Lost luggage? After years of unmet promises, computer power now allows operations research to solve many practical problems... more»
Cosmetic surgery is a kind of democratic solution to an undemocratic problem: the uneven distribution of beauty... more»
Fascists hate homosexuality, but many fascists are gay. “Scratch the homophobic surface and there’s a spandex swastika underneath,” says Johann Hari... more»
The old guard sees cultural criticism as debilitated, even moribund, launched from behind the walls of academe. Just nostalgia for a non-existent golden age?... more»
Elegance and precision are necessary allies; together they indicate the presence of truth. For Luc Sante, that truth may be in English or in French... more»
Imperial amnesia: the U.S. invaded a distant country to install democracy. Then there was a bloody insurrection. Sound familiar? John Judis thinks so... more»
American musical comedy died along with a faith in the common culture that lay behind it: a belief in the power of invention, democracy, and music itself... more»
If the arts so richly embody human experience, why do we need critics? Why not just give people Mozart, Keats, and Picasso? Helen Vendler has an answer... more»
Those who complain about jobs being exported are silent, Thomas Sowell says, about the millions of jobs that the global economy imports into the U.S.... more»
Emersons hard-boiled realism and his “Oversoul” idealism pose a conflict, says Harold Fromm, that is reconciled only by his belief in science and in evolution... more»
Solidarity’s Adam Michnik knows what totalitarianism is. He wants democracy in Iraq, no matter his opinions of the people who bring it about... more»
“To describe Fahrenheit 9/11 as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability.” Hitchens on Moore... more» ... so what?
Without American hegemony the world would likely return to a new Dark Age of religious fanaticism, economic stagnation and waning civilization... more»
Is the Aboriginal genocide a real event Australian history? Were 10,000 murdered in Queensland? As one scholar shrugged, “Historians are always making up figures”... more»
Wilhelm Furtwängler, Lorin Maazel, Paul Kletzki: inside the conductor there may lie a composer screaming, against the odds, to get out... more»
Bill Clinton’s presidency: lack of discipline leading to squandered opportunities; high hopes, ruined by self-indulgence and scattered concentration. Just like his new book... more»
His love affairs, addictions, good looks, and early death gave him fame as a tortured sensualist. But was Modigliani really a great artist?... more»
Carson McCullers was a sickly woman, paralyzed, alcoholic, and depressed. That she had no children can be taken as proof of heavenly mercy... more»
Westerners want to enjoy freedom and the bounty of capitalism. But to say so, to defend it – well, that’s asking too much of sophisticated people. Bin Laden knows this... more»
Buwei Yang Chao was a Chinese doctor who “never stirred an egg” until she went to Tokyo, where food was so “uneatable” she began to cook for herself... more»
For 80 years Mongolians have been on a first name basis with each other – the Communists banned having two names. Bringing back surnames is tricky... more»
He just couldn’t understand all the “squeamishness about the use of gas” in Iraq. “I am strongly in favour of using it against uncivilised tribes.” Saddam? No, Churchill... more» But did he mean chlorine or tear gas?
“I do not believe in time,” Vladimir Nabokov wrote. “I like to fold my magic carpet, after use, so as to superimpose one part of the pattern upon another. Let visitors trip”... more»
The civilizational importance of the Madrid bombing was lost on Spain. Looking around Europe, terrorists were smart to choose the weakest wildebeest of the herd... more»
It’s no fun for a biographer to be called 10th-rate. More precisely, a servile, obsequious, dull, inaccurate, lickspittle, phlegm-eating apology for a biographer... more»
High-flying female exec smashes the glass ceiling, heads the firm – and then throws it all away to raise her kids. How guilty should she feel?... more»
“We talk as if democracy were the natural human condition,” says Bernard Lewis, “as if any deviation from it is a crime to be punished or a disease to be cured”... more»
National Public Radio, with the help of Guys in Suits with Charts, is doing all it can to get rid of the most boring, useless waste of time in its daily schedule: classical music... more»
Tribal warfare on the playing field: if soccers a mirror on the globe, it reflects one that’s far from globalized... more» ... more»
From the sarcophagus of Alexander the Great to Xi’an terracottas to Stubbs’s oils: know horses, know history... more»
Robbed of all certainty, the sinner for Martin Luther could find no place to go in anguish except to the God of mercy and of grace... more»
A professional cyclist can expect to live barely 50 years. The Tour de France is the most savagely difficult race of all... more»
All bets are on: when’s the next terrorist attack? Will cellular life be found on Mars? Can the prediction markets predict?... more»
Rick Moody, wrote Dale Peck, “has never put together a single sentence I would call indispensable.” The ax man cometh... more» ... more»
Suicide killing needs something else besides a body: poisoned daggers, kamikaze planes, explosive belts, boxcutters... more»
The U.S. soldier abuse at Abu Ghraib? Little different to new recruit hazing games, suggests Niall Ferguson... more»
Submarines promised an end to naval warfare. In reality they’re stinking hulks, capable only of drive-by hits... more»
James Wood’s criticism, fresh and open-eyed, is as far as it can be from the turgid jargon-laden world of literary theory... more»
Himmler still had not come on the idea of the Final Solution in 1940. To murder the Jews Bolshevik-style was “un-German”... more»
A bitterness in the land of Toto and tornadoes means that Republicans get all the votes. Thomas Frank asks why... more»
What do you make of a guide to proper comma usage that can’t seem to get its own commas right? Is this book a hoax?... more» ... more»
Alain de Botton has a perfect recipe. Take high literature, season with deep philosophy, and bake into a middlebrow self-help book... more»
The young Tolstoy – gambler and wastrel – was confronted by the old. Between these human poles lies great art. Cynthia Ozick explains... more»
Even in exile, he was feared as an ogre of subversion. Today we can more clearly see Trotsky as a prophet... more»
Napoleon wished to be king, Washington was happy not to be. French leaders, more than U.S. ones, show an imperial temperament... more»
Bush’s reelection would ratify the revolutionary changes he has brought to U.S. foreign policy. Whether this is a good thing... more»
The demise of the soul seems exaggerated. The mind-body problem is still with us, and until science resolves it, the idea of the soul persists... more»
Serbs slit throats, mashed skulls, gutted pregnant women. And who helped provoke it all? A roofer in Brooklyn... more»
Why has the U.S. never had a decent system of child care? One feminist answer, “dumb men, stupid choices,” is long overdue ... more»
Testimony: a pitiful fake, a slander on the people who nurtured Shostakovich, the people he composed for? Maybe not... more»
Historians are either truffle hunters, noses buried in detail, or parachutists, with a view from on high. David Christian is a parachutist... more»
Evelyn Waugh’s travel writing is not about travel, but about polished boredom, macabre curiosity, endless prejudices... more»
Australian philosophy: it’s a world of Marxists, hard-line materialists, gamblers, and poets manqués... more» ... more» ... more» ... more»
Lights! Camera! Insight! Positioning faculty for “media hits” has become a lucrative business: fame, fortune, and tenure too... more»
Safety first, but at what cost? The precautionary principle seems a good idea, but sometimes a little risk is a lot safer... more»
A vigorous economic performance and growing population aren’t enough to ward off the coming decline of Australian relative power... more»
The horrors of trench warfare made mighty heroes of plastic surgeons. Oh, how the mighty have fallen... more»
Atonality in music is a problem for listeners. It is like a play whose characters keep changing their identities... more»
When people knock golden age thinking, the past is not usually their target. It is the ideals and aspirations of the past they want to trash... more»
Jonathan Swift’s dictum that “you do not reason a man out of something he was not reasoned into” conveys a deep idea. Think of religion... more»
Shifting power. If India keeps to its current growth rate for 50 years, it will overtake China. And where will the West be then?... more»
Land art: enduring, cosmic monuments to nature and the human spirit, or just empty monuments to artistic ego?... more»
Sad people are nice. Angry people are nasty. And, oddly, happy people are nasty, too. Jim Holt on the case against happiness... more»
Mark Twain’s first Turkish bath was terrible, devoid of the elegance of literary accounts. Yet another travel disappointment... more»
Coleridge was tormented by it, Valéry took 20 years off, Rimbaud just gave up. What happens to writers when words wont come?... more»
Sir Stuart Hampshire, Spinoza scholar, philosopher of freedom and morality, is dead... Telegraph ... Guardian ... Alan Ryan
Don’t assume Islam alone is the cause of sexual inequality in the Arab world. Consider divorce, child custody, and polygamy in Morocco... more»
Critics in Mozart’s age threw up their hands at the dark Don Giovanni, calling it perverse, amoral. These days, such qualities turn us on... more»
“Go missing,” “sell-by date,” and “end of the day” paved the way for “run-up.” U.S. use of such Briticisms is not always “spot-on”... more»
“I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.” Is Ulysses a great book? Yes it is Yes. Michael Blowhard, Stephen Schwartz, Jon Wilson, Tim Cavanaugh, John Moore, Andrew Martin, Economist, The Age, Bert Archer, Richard West, David Robinson, Andrew Conn, Michael Dirda, Edmund Wilson (1922)
Leo Strauss’s ideas are a kind of virus in the American body politic, with a fearful liberalism now absorbing his hostility to democracy... more»
Thomas Frank/David Brooks: are they talking to you or about you, laughing with you or at you? You’ll have to decide for yourself... more»
Eisenhower wanted “Atoms for Peace” to use atomic energy for medicine and power, to help the world’s poor. “Right on!” says Iran... more» ... more»
Even Ronald Reagan’s most bitter critics were disarmed by his warmth: Fred Turner, Lech Walesa, Baroness Thatcher, Tevi Troy, WSJ, Frank Devine, Natan Sharansky, David Gelernter, Christopher Hitchens
Democratic Iraq in 24 months? It’s sheer fantasy, says Niall Ferguson. Ten years, and untold billions of dollars, would be more like it... more»
Leave sexy rags, booze, and porn at home. Expat existence in Saudi Arabia is not life as we know it, but it offers less obvious rewards... more»
Sure, Jon Katz wanted a dog that would brave miles of snowdrifts to save him. He got one that would make it to the nearest deli and stay there. Dogs have a life too... more»
David Enders says that while he does not look much older than when he arrived, age 23, in Baghdad a year ago, he certainly does feel older. Who wouldn’t?... more»
A Microsoft employee puts up with the fact that Bill Gates gets $80 billion. But if the idiot in the next cubicle makes $5/hour more, there’s indignation. Are people crazy?... more»
Barbara Ehrenreich hoped women would change the military, adding respect for peoples and cultures. If the presence of women soldiers on Saudi soil insulted fanatics, so what?... more»
Both D.J. Thomas and his wife were raised to speak Welsh and English, but they never thought to pass Welsh on to their children. Dylan didnt speak a word of it... more»
Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s hatred of communism was never a defense of individual freedom. He still wants collectivism: ethnic, religious, and traditional. As for the Jews... more»
Samuel Huntington’s new crusade is aimed against Mexico and those Mexicans who live, work, and enrich life up north. Carlos Fuentes is on the case... more»
The best poker players have qualities we’d wish for in father figures: mental toughness, boldness, steadfastness. Of course, true poker champs may be weakling computer nerds... more»
Howell Raines underestimated the intensity of staff unrest, the “guerrilla war” in his newsroom. Here is his own account of his downfall in the uncut version.
The daring, high-speed, racy prose and restless energy of Augie March was Saul Bellow’s great Yes! to America. Now it’s clearer that the Yes! came at a price... more»
Pnin is Vladimir Nabokov as he might have turned out in U.S. exile: an odd, eccentric, sad figure, doomed never to grasp the society in which he finds himself... more»
The anti-American abuse heaped on Elinor Burkett by her students in Kyrgyzstan felt oddly empty and passionless, having more to do with envy than the cold war... more»
The Statue of Liberty up to her armpits in water and monster tornados in L.A. Special effects in The Day After Tomorrow are great, but the science is garbage... more»
If Troy turns moviegoers on to the glories of Homer, it is worth it. It’s already persuaded Brad Pitt to read the book... more» ... more». It’s yet another big fat Greek toga party.
Imagine cultural future where the needs of the body rule, mind and soul are discredited, a world where executions are its tragedies, pornography is its romance... more»
Commencement speakers: watch your references. They’ve never heard of Walter Mitty or Rube Goldberg, sounding like a broken record is not their technology, and banana republic is a store... more»
Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings: “ham-fisted, shallow, bombastic, and laughably overrated,” says one critic. “But don’t get me wrong”... more» ... It’s the first Playstation ad to be called the greatest film of all time... more»

Islamic law and tradition can be conducive to democracy, says Bernard Lewis. Government is consensual in Islamic thought, a contract between ruler and ruled... more»
The simple article of Marxist faith that capitalism is absolute evil, incarnated in the U.S., is the central idea of the current anti-globalizers. Jean-François Revel explains... more»
The modern liberalism we know flows from an ancient source: agriculture, which led to a settled life, trade, and the encounter with strangers... more»
The concept of “woman” is no longer meaningful. “There is not even such a thing as “being” female. Or so a certain line of postmodern patter goes... more»
Plastic surgery can turn Michael Jackson into his own sister but could not help Cyrano de Bergerac It was eloquence, not looks, that was his weapon... more»
NYT reporters: when he fires you, expect your boss to sit with open posture, arms relaxed. He’ll “understand” your anger. Just give him your ID card... more»
Writing the book is the easy part. Then you start signing your name. Over and over, on book after book, again and again and again... more»
Blogs: meta-comment by bright young men who never leave their rooms. There is something tired and stale about this latest form of the art of pamphleteering... more»
Adjunctification is an ugly word for an ugly phenomenon: a second-class slave professoriate, exploited to keep students happy and colleges solvent. Now there is one less adjunct... more»
Offal is on the comeback trail. But why are four-star chefs working so hard to make intrinsically bad ingredients taste good?... more»
Great science writers neither fall for oversimplication nor apologize for elitism, says Richard Dawkins. They want their readers to join the elite... more»
American destiny is a series of crackpot schemes foisted on the populace for partisan expediency. Americans are pure optimists... more»
In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth learns that laughing-at is cruel. But falling in love is a turn from laughing-at to laughing-with: an equality of laughter... more»
With a philosophy degree you can ask such difficult questions as “What is truth?”, “Can we know the good?”, and “Do you want fries with that?”... more»
It’s a shotgun marriage between the old Philadelphia Orchestra and its jet-setting conductor. “There’s no goodwill they can fall back on. It’s getting ugly”... more»
Between Shakespeare, Sikh theatre, and The Simpsons, Britain’s museums have taken the dogma of different-but-equal in arts and culture right over the edge... more»
Smoking in movies once meant rebellion, coolness, and sex appeal. Now it is merely shorthand for “loser,” laments Zoe Williams... more»
How to solve an intractable problem in mathematics? Formulate an even harder problem and apply yourself to it, says Robert Osserman. It’s a strategy that can work... more»
In their pursuit of a better, more enlightened world, architects of political correctness let abstract moralism triumph over realism, benevolence over prudence... more»
The Arab world’s quiet tolerance of acts of terror is a sign not of its strength, but its weakness, says Mohamed Sid-Ahmed. It will make for more violence... more»
Sure, you can let the music of Mozart wash over you in all its exquisite clarity. But if you’re lucky enough to have read his letters... more»
It was Il vitio pessimo, “the worst sin” that brought down the Catholic order of the Piarists in the 17th century. It’s a sin that persists... more»
That nice Mr. David Brooks. He is so pleasant liberals are sure he must be a deep-down liberal at heart. Maybe they are right... more»
Alice Randall’s latest blather makes Alexander Pushkin, a great symbol of human universality, into one-track ethnocentrist... more»
Does Osama play Robin Hood to America’s King John? “King John was not a democrat, nor Robin Hood a terrorist,” says Bernard Lewis... more»
Contemporary novelists treat their pages like flypaper, ready for any floating bits of cultural debris: it makes for bigger, but more trivial novels... more»
The Founding Fathers were deists: if Washington, Franklin, Paine, and Jefferson had a religion, it was a faith in reason... more»
Chateau d’Yquem adds no sugar to ripe grapes, letting the fruit rot. The grape skins shrivel into brown pulp. Its a noble rot... more»
Would His Girl Friday, with its too-fast-to-translate word play, be made today? What do Batman and Matrix have in common? Banality?... more»
We are deeply polytheistic, as even St. Paul knew. The idea of God, says Régis Debray, is a peculiar and recent one... more»
Napoleon’s creative genius enabled him to write his vast novel upon the face of the earth, rather than on mere paper... more»
The normal daily patterns of our lives, sleep and work, give us a glimpse into a vast world: the rhythms of biology... more»
Abraham Lincoln’s single greatest act, one of spectacular political daring, is best known for what it did not do... more»
The literary life is swamped by its epiphenomena: books’ blurbs and author photos are more important than their content... more»
That Jose Padilla planned acts of terror with Al Qaeda may or may not be true. It’s only certain that he cannot defend himself... more»
For Friedrich von Hayek, the technical turn that economics has taken would have been as much a misuse of reason as socialist planning... more»
“To hell with the new society!” is an innocent enough thing for a teenage girl to write in her diary. But in Stalins Russia... more»
Niall Ferguson recounts the virtues of British empire with the enthusiasm of a Victorian schoolboy. Why can’t the Yanks be like that?... more»
Roger Scruton, a voluble, vocal, argumentative man, admires the silent authenticity of rural British folk. He wants to belong... more»
As Tocqueville remarked, the French look up in anxiety while the English look down in satisfaction. A hidden rule of Englishness... more»
Academics and policy wonks keep Orwellian memory holes, into which stupidities vanish without trace. Think of Soviet experts... more»
For every rat seen in the city, there are ten unseen. Unless you see it in daylight: then the ratio is worse... more»
Is our booze-sodden, AIDS-addled, traditionless, pointless life any better than that of modern Greenlanders? Well may you wonder... more»
The idea that the free market and democracy go together was always pretty dubious, says Terry Eagleton. Fascism simply refutes it... more»
George Orwell, far from being a good socialist, was a nark for established power, whose work was used to persecute honest lefties. Maybe... more»
Great American Novelist is what James T. Farrell would have wanted to be known as. Today, genius aside, he has a faintly neocon look... more»
Bruno wrote on magic and Egypt, Kepler had his mystic celestial harmonies, and Newton his alchemy. Then there was Galileo... more»
Book publishing has been co-opted by gasbag talk radio, as rants by Ann Coulter and Michael Moore show. So along comes... more»
What distinguishes gravitons that no possible experiment can show from gravitons that do not exist? Freeman Dyson knows... more»
WWI was the first war with death depersonalized into statistics: it was the fountain of blood from which a century drank... more»
Samuel Huntington may be right that ordinary Americans are more likely to be patriotic than are liberal elites. But it does not follow... more»
On the day she was to be auctioned as white slave in a harem, Florence Baker spied a bearded Englishman in the room... more»
The more African politicians extort and steal, the less there is to extort and steal. The fight for power becomes ever more desperate and violent... more»
Dark eyed, / O woman of my dreams, / Ivory sandaled, / There is none like thee among the dancers, / None with swift feet... more»
Law and medicine work with a sense of judgment toward a common good. Maybe that shows why management will never be a profession... more»
Weight gain, weight loss, and regulation are marvelously complex, but simple principles stand out. Like CICO: calories in, calories out... more»
Liar! How did Al Gore’s image shift from stiff but competent technocrat to serial exaggerator who’d say anything for votes? It’s no accident... more»
Write a regional novel with advice from rainy Seattle. Don’t forget trees! Theft of a priceless whalebone? Chase scene on a ferry! Think salmon!... more»
“Writing is a way of taming the world,” John Updike says, “turning the inchoate, often embarrassing stream into a package”... more»
Jean Cocteau dined, fought, and even collaborated with the whole of avant-garde Paris. His own art was dismissed as the work of a frivolous queen... more»
If creative destruction is the central fact of capitalism, then Las Vegas embodies the purest, and most vulgar, strain of capitalism... more»
Smart birds. Who says our feathered friends can’t think, and don’t consider what other animals, such as us, might think about about them?... more»
Sir Robert Baden-Powell’s initials became the motto of the movement he founded. He is easy to ridicule today, perhaps too easy... more» ... and in Iraq.
On-line fantasy games have booming economies and citizens who love their political systems. Are such virtual worlds a good place to study the real one?... more»
History conditions our idea of erotica: what would have shocked the 18th-century eye may seem quite tame, even quaint to us... more»
Obesity epidemic? Killer fat? Relax: you’re better off with too much fat than not enough. It even lowers your risk for some cancers... more»
Imagine waking up every morning thrilled it’s another day of fun and adventure. Not to fret, only to love. Imagine being a dog... more»
Iraqis have both resources and will to create flourishing free media. So why is the Coalition pushing for state-owned media in Iraq... more»
Why is there something, rather than nothing?, deep minds like to ask. But if there were nothing, they’d still argue and complain... more»
Would you spot a gorilla that walked onto a basketball court during a game? Don’t be too certain. It’s an odd organ, the human brain... more»
America has its enemies in Iraq, to be sure. But isn’t it clear, Philip Kennicott asks, that the U.S. is its own worst enemy?... more» ... more» ... more» ... more»
Horrid diseases the world had forgotten are roaring back, thanks to our bone-head media, religious fanatics, and green nut cases... more»
“The individual is foolish,” wrote Edmund Burke, “but the species is wise.” Tradition, Russell Kirk knew, protects us from our passions... more»
Unflushed public toilets, flies in your soup, rotting meat, cockroaches: useful images for a philosophy of disgust... more»
Bang, whimper, whatever. We are less interested in how the world will end than when. Will it be later, or sooner?... more»
The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a novel firmly rooted in its time has, despite so much spilt politics, oddly not dated... more»
The Middle East awaits its Martin Luther, says Francis Fukuyama. Liberal Arab and Muslim voices are so far being drowned out... more»
The Big O. Pure pleasure for women, more reproductively useful for men. Anthropology, biology, and feminist ideology all have a take on it... more»
Don’t miss the gift shop at the Spam Museum, where you can buy “I ♥ SPAM” bumper stickers, Spam watches, golf bags, and wine glasses... more»
Are you smarter than most others? Excel in your ability to get along with people? But you’re being too modest, too fair. As usual... more»
The demographic time bomb that faces us is not about sheer population. It is at least as dangerous: Asias boy bomb... more»
Al Qaeda is but the lunatic fringe of political thought in Islam. A tiny minority of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims adhere to its doctrines.... more»
Romantic and maternal love are viewed as worlds apart. Yet they possess a basic affinity: they banish critical judgment... more»
Helping poor street kids in a dangerous foreign country might seem a fine idea. But if youre Japanese... more»
Edward Burne-Jones’s Amy Gaskell portrait is one of the greatest, most enigmatic Victorian paintings. What drove the artist?... more»
The intense moodiness of Shakespeare’s palette is one clue to his greatness as poet and dramatist... more». Plus, you quote him all the time.
“I know what these mothers are going through, and I try to watch over their children as they head home.” Tami Silico also photographed their coffins... more»
Judge the aesthetic virtues of a painting by its price, or a film by its box office? The idea offends us. And yet... more» ... more»
Stocks Up on Saddam News, says the A.M. headline, but Stocks Fall on Saddam News in the P.M. Two events, one cause. Its absurd... more»
“Tyrant” is from the Greek, and is an easy word to throw around. But democracy didn’t work well in Greece. Is Fidel Castro a tyrant?... more»
If my mind is a tiny theatre I watch in my brain, then there is a tinier mind and theatre inside that mind to see it, and so on forever. Daniel Dennett explains... more»
Sarah Cacciaglia is a good and conscientious worker. But she can’t cope with breaking routines. Shes a little slow... more»
“Everything is based on the consumer first,” says an irate sociology prof. Not every shopper is happy with Wal-Mart... more» ... more»
By emphasizing public works over piety, Hezbollah has wedged itself into Lebanese society. Its popularity grows... more»
Squirrels a pest? Then eat them. Red squirrels have a gland that ruins their taste, but gray squirrels are sweet and succulent... more» ... Or try tasty cicadas.
We wear designer clothes, so why not beget designer kids? How much easier to train them, once we’ve determined their genetic natures... more»
Who needs professional book critics when there are all those eager Amazon customers and bloggers out there?... more»
Is Lauren Slater the “smart, charming, iconoclastic, and inquisitive” author of a fine book on psych experiments, or is she a liar?... more»
The single worst thing for the control of malaria in poor nations was its eradication in rich ones. What the world needs now is DDT... more»
Democracy is inevitable in a web-dominated world. If you think that, try to access a few choice websites in Vientiane, Laos... more»
Daniel Okrent, ombudsman for the New York Times, is so unpopular there angry staffers have issued fatwas. He’s much too fun to read... more»
Fatherless families are more likely to suffer pathologies of crime, drugs, and poverty. So government, you see, is trying to “help”... more»
Shopping for cookies or pants should be easy. But what if there are 295 kinds of cookies at a supermarket? As for jeans at the Gap... more»
George W. Bush has the power to reduce otherwise intelligent people to sputtering rage. Case in point: Peter Singer... more» ... more»
Writing, some well-meaning but muddled persons think, is a path to mental hygiene and personal happiness... more»
Stalin: nervy intellectual and manic reader of literature and history, thought the solution to every human problem was death... more»
We are fascinated by falling and fear it, but may have enjoyed our first laugh by being tossed in the air and caught... more»
Reason, resonance, research, real-world events, and resistance are Howard Gardner’s tools to change people’s minds... more»
Was John Donne the first Englishman to propose going naked to bed? Well, if “naked” means not wearing your hat... more»
“Policeman of the left” is a way to see George Orwell, who defended the power elite, his right-wing ideas dressed up in leftoid rhetoric... more»
The title of Lucky Jim’s only scholarly article was perfect for its “yawn-enforcing facts, the pseudo-light it threw upon nonproblems”... more»
Literature has its enemies, and pseudointellectual artists and critics who think their love of books is knowledge are among the worst... more»
Why is Tocqueville’s so often woolly-headed work so highly praised? It is hugely flattering toward its subject... more»
We all use stereotypes all the time, whether we own up them or not. Are we racists on account of this?... more»
Affirmative action supposes all ethnic groups have equal talent and can perform with equal competence. Not true... more»
They called him “Professor,” as he was always reading books. Cubs pitcher Jim Brosnan knew, however, there was a world outside baseball... more»
“Was I wrong about Iraq?” asks a sullen Johann Hari. A pained and humble David Brooks is still a hawk. Paul Berman says the U.S. needs allies. Mark Steyn is unrepentant, while Greg Sheridan has been walking the halls of the Pentagon. No easy way, says Christopher Hitchens.
Several big publishers have jumped onto the gravy train, launching imprints that churn out only chick lit. Score one for the ladies, right? Not exactly... more»
In 1916, a story called “Lolita,” about an older man’s love for an underage girl, was published in Germany. Vladimir Nabokov was living in Berlin at the time... more»
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s high-flying prose can be as clunky as Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Not that his fans are going to complain. They never have... more»
As a son of liberal Jews, Adam Shatz’s brand of Zionism was rooted less in Herzl and Ben-Gurion than in Woody Allen, Franz Kafka, and Bob Dylan... more»
If the history of folklore aspires to be a history of the human mind, it must collect obscene, disgusting, and blasphemous jokes, putting them into print... more»
The fate of Islam will be that of the Church of England, says Theodore Dalrymple. The fanatics and bombers are not its rebirth, but its death rattle... more»
The true writer must write not what is merely acceptable, but what is true. What then is the truth about women? David Mamet has an unpopular answer... more»
Pop culture now hates high culture so much it sets itself aggressively against it. High culture, for its part, now fears pop. Anne Applebaum on another culture war... more»
Stalin jolted Shostakovich out of banal avant-garde conventions, forcing him to find his real subject: the tragic history of tyranny... more»
Hindsight distortion is likely to undermine analysis by the 9/11 commission. Nassim Taleb on the expected, the unexpected, and the unexpectable... more»
If the French had lost to the invading Muslim army at Poitiers in A.D. 732, the Koran might be a central text studied at Oxford today. What of Europe in 100 years time?... more»
Great violinists of the 20th century include Jascha Heifetz, Nathan Milstein, and Louis Kaufman. Louis who? A violinist we have all heard, but not heard of... more»
Michael Frayn: comic genius, deep intelligence, and humane values coupled with a certain aloofness – and impeccable courtesy... more»
“I want to do what is right but I do not,” said St. Paul. “I do instead the very thing I hate.” And that was before Krispy Kreme and Internet porn... more»
Deep Blue was not the end of the story for human chess. Computers have been getting better since then. And so have grand masters... more»
The visual environment for students is confused and unstable. They grasp moving but not still images, says Camille Paglia... more»
Arts journalism in the U.S. is shackled by a sense of civic responsibility: the arts must be supported. The Brits go for friskier criticism... more»
Unlike salamanders, people cannot regrow severed limbs. At least, that’s been medical reality – up till now... more»
A culture frantic to entertain, divert, and inform cannot drown out boredom. It’s still a part of our condition. Steven Winn explains... more»
Tall men get married sooner, get promoted quicker, and earn higher wages. Short men are unlucky in politics and in love. Height matters... more»
Forget illegal immigrants. A new cosmopolitan class, young and mobile, move countries as easily as towns: citizens of nowhere... more»
Human life is priceless. Well, not exactly. It’s actually worth $6.1 million per unit. Let’s stop kidding ourselves: we all have a price... more»
Given all the hits a mother is liable to take, is motherhood worth it? Trouble is, you can’t know what kind of motherhood you’ll get... more»
Eudæmonia, the good life, is not something we shall ever find in a drug. There are no easy shortcuts on the road to happiness... more»
Alistair Cooke, whose Omnibus changed the face of U.S. television and whose Letter from America aired 2869 times, is dead... more» ... more» ... more»
Rappers: “Monkey-moving, gold-chain wearing, illiteracy-spouting, penis-pulling, sullen, combative buffoons.” Says one critic, in a mild mood... more»
How easy for Europe if its Islamic problem derived being allied with the U.S. But this issue has a long past and ominous future... more»
Need a critic be recognized as somehow professional to be taken seriously? What about Amazons reader reviews?... more»
Shostakovich wrote a secret history of his private toments under Soviet tyranny into his music. Or is this idea now in doubt?... more»
Protectionism would not solve U.S. employment problems. All benefit from free trade, of goods and of labor. As for outsourcing... more»
Einstein was sure the only way to win in roulette was to pocket the money when the dealer wasn’t looking. That was before lasers... more»
Birds do it, bees do it, and thanks to all that dopamine, our cousins the baboons do it too. Just like us, they fall in love... more»
Philosophical method and rigor applied to life’s problems can lead to growth and freedom. But philosophy’s hard: you don’t learn it like kung fu... more»
A brilliant Boston surgeon leaves his patient on an operating table to go cash a paycheck and a life of betrayal emerges... more»
Fukuyama, Netanyahu, and Peres met to discuss the end of history. Is Israel an exception to Fukuyama’s thesis? Is the Muslim world?... more»
A lot of people ought to burn in hell because of 9/11. And not all of them live in caves. Some might live in D.C.... more»
From Sydney to Siberia, from Quebec to Patagonia, there is one sporting obsession that unifies the entire human race: America-bashing... more»
We need not commit the ad hominem fallacy by wanting to know what kinds of people lurk behind “emotionally neutral” academic texts... more»
Isaiah Berlin did not think he’d see the fall of Soviet power in his lifetime. On that issue, he knew no better than other experts... more»
Atheists often think the case against God is so obvious that it does not need to be argued. Their best defenders may be believers... more»
The first Catholic emperor of Byzantium slowly bled to death, arms and legs chopped off: one of many sticky ends in the Crusades... more»
“Blackness,” indeed, the whole dictionary of race should be thrown out the window. Race no longer describes U.S. blacks... more»
Are the French arrogant? It seems so, yet they consume more tranquillizers per head than any other nation... more»
Gene McCarthy: sour, aloof, unfeeling, and inconstant, the hero of the anti-war Left who endorsed Ronald Reagan... more»
Urban tribes. Gangs of friends are the new family for a nation of young office addicts and lonely shoppers... more»
George S. Patton’s ranting, cursing, and juvenile political views were repugnant, even close to lunatic. But what a general... more»
John Le Carré’s prose is now cartoonishly slack with its flowery clichés. He never met an adverb or adjective he didn’t like... more»
Vladimir Horowitz said there are three kinds of pianists: Jewish pianists, homosexual pianists, and bad pianists. Then there was Glenn Gould... more»
Occidentalism was a term that had to be coined for the idea that the villainous West is the fount of war, racism, bigotry, etc.... more»
Grouchy old Cézanne was unhappy with modernity. He’d not be pleased to hear that he is viewed as the first modern painter... more»
W. Somerset Maugham was posted as Britain’s man in St. Petersburg in the Bolshevik takeover. He came close to being executed... more»
Waterloo became an instant tourist attraction. Bones of the dead were crushed as fertilizer, teeth recycled as “Waterloo dentures”... more»
With rock and pop seeming to be exhausted, music needs a new sound. It could do worse than recover the style of Woody Guthrie... more»
“My books are water,” wrote Mark Twain, “those of the great geniuses are wine. Everybody drinks water”... more»
The personal, intellectual, and political faults of Sartre are obvious today. Yet how much poorer we’d be without his oeuvre... more»
The feeble-minded gullibility of consumers is at the root of much unhappiness in that dogs us, argues Clive Hamilton... more»
Marcel Proust’s celebration of the imagination had to include a sexual truth that is normally hidden in darkness... more»
“Petty-bourgeois fascist,” full of a “rancid philistinism,” and a “smelly masculinity.” Is this Philip Larkin?... more»
Playwright Arthur Miller does not question reality so much as observe it to explain how people delude each other and themselves... more»
If whores, razzled by drugs and disease, with crumbling bones and wrinkled skin, must now be called sex workers, what are pimps? Sexual liaison co-ordinators?... more»
America’s elites are out of touch with public feeling over the importance of nationalism, says Samuel Huntington... more»
The fall election will turn on the parties’ contrasting aesthetics: cheerfulness of the Right versus the sobriety of liberalisms cold glare... more»
Americans: heedless of the past, no respect for tradition, wasteful, consumed by hope and optimism – the irresistible locomotive of the world... more»
Halls for public lectures used to be empty. In Britain today, advertise a debate on, say, “Eating Mussels: the Issue of Our Times,” and you will pack the house... more»
Georges Bataille, self-professed disciple of the Marquis de Sade, wrote sadomasochistic classics. Under a false name, of course, to protect his job as a librarian... more»
Liberals take a rosy view of human nature, said Carl Schmitt. “All genuine political theories presuppose man to be evil.” That’s why liberals lose, conservatives win... more» ... more»
If all we understand about survival is that it’s a TV game show, how can we grasp true victimhood? Or is even the cult of the Holocaust victim ripe for a little cynical comedy?... more»
“When you say a man writes badly, you are trying to hurt him,” observes Clive James. “When you say it in words better than his, you have succeeded.” Thats criticism... more»
The city of Madrid stands against the tribal fundamentalism, religious and political, that hates mixture, diversity, tolerance and, above all, liberty, says Mario Vargas Llosa... more»
The Wrong Stuff: it may stir our sense of pride to send people into space. The idea makes sci-fi possible. But really, robots are a cheaper, better choice... more»
A woman may sleep with one man without being a trollop, but let a man cover one little war and he is forever a war correspondent. Thus with A.J. Liebling... more»
Anti-Semitism and prejudice against black Africans are two of the uglier maladies in the history of the West. Shakespeare knew this evil... more»
Italy had thrice civilized Europe under Augustus Caesar, the Medicis, and the Borgias. So why not under Benito Mussolini? Ezra Pound asked... more»
Where did musical quality disappear to in the last century? Down the black hole of atonality? Was it hiding out in Hollywood? Erich Korngold’s score for Robin Hood... more»
Unwanted advances often border on the ridiculous. Instead of responding with damsel-in-distress stories, how about laughter? Women’s weapons include a sense of humor too... more»
When Cornelius Castoriadis died he left piles of manuscripts, a widow, two daughters, and a network of admirers around the world. What he did not leave, alas, was a will... more»
“The American system is the most ingenious system of control in world history,” writes Howard Zinn. It uses wealth, war, and patriotism to turn citizens against each other... more»
Richard Rorty’s utopian idea of social solidarity is inspired less by postmodern ideas than by the rugged pragmatism of John Dewey – plus a little poetry... more»
William Faulkner only opened mail from publishers, and then with a slit to see if it was a check. If not, the letter went into his enormous pile of unread mail... more»
Is Rebecca merely Jane Eyre Lite? No, says Jonathan Yardley. It is a work of immense intelligence and wit, elegantly written, solid, and still suspenseful... more»
Howard Dean was the Dems’ best man, says Dorothy Rabinowitz. He can connect ideas, “absolutely jargon-free. There’s a sexy core to him, even in his little, short-armed way”... more»
Edgar Allan Poe: the modern horror movie is unthinkable without him. His imprint is felt from Stephen King to Joyce Carol Oates. He is part of our cultural DNA... more»
Calling Jews “scum of the human race, rats of the world, offspring of apes and pigs” might raise eyebrows. But if the speaker is an important imam, no one seems to care... more»
Salvation inflation: whenever religion comes into conflict with American culture, it is religion that loses. Alan Wolfe on putting love before truth... more» ... review.
With science, Percy Shelley said, “our calculations have outrun our conception; we have eaten more than we can digest.” He spoke even more for our age than his... more»
If freedom redeems all the dying, there is more freedom in Iraq than ever in its history, says Michael Ignatieff. And freedom is messy, chaotic, frightening... more»
Omigod! So I go to Verizon to get this new cellphone and they give me Chris Rocks old number! And Spike Lee and Jerry Seinfeld’s secretary are calling! Omigod!... more»
“Muddle Instead of Music,” read the famous headline in Pravda, and we can imagine Shostakovich’s blood ran cold. Why didn’t Stalin have him executed?... more»
In today’s infantile world of lifestyle politics, ask not what the arguments are or even what a voter believes in. It’s all about how you feel. Frank Furedi explains... more»
Academics are so overworked. If in doubt just cue the violins and ask one. And please, no awkward comparisons with the likes of UPS drivers and coal miners... more»
Forever adolescent? Sooner or later, either a man grows up or he pulls his gray hair back into a pony tail. Fewer Americans now seem able to see the pleasures of adulthood... more»
Dr. Seuss, the genius author, our own Edward Lear, is 100 years old. Sadly, Dr. Seuss, the brand, degraded by movies, made stupid for Broadway, is just getting started... more»
The geek shall inherit the earth. Well, let us hope not. The truth is that most sci fi and fantasy fans are infantile, escapist people, as shallow as they are socially inept... more»
You can give tests in New York schools. Just take care they don’t refer to anyone’s age, ancestry, disability, ethnicity, nationality, race, religion, sex, or sexuality... more»
Does Shakespeare’s Lear have a spiritual dimension? “No,” insists Jonathan Miller. “That’s modern, New Age drivel. Every play has a spiritual dimension by simply having human beings in it”... more»
Elise Vogler wants to teach her students to a high standard. But most parent contacts she’s had can be reduced to a simple demand: Stop teaching my kid!... more»
Through Rachmaninoff, he had lived to die his death a thousand times. But, says near-suicide D.B.C. Pierre, “what a bloody glorious old show it’s been”... more»
In Baghdad or Damascus a thousand years ago scientists and scholars were respected, given access to lavish endowments and huge libraries. That was then, now is now... more»
Libertarians despise coercion, but it can be the avenue to greater liberty for all, says Richard Epstein. Suppose you want to build a railroad... more»
Reactionary Prophet: Edmund Burke understood before anyone else that revolutions devour their young, and turn into their opposites... more»
A Detroit teen builds a crude nuclear breeder reactor in his back yard from household ingredients. Odd, and true... more» ... more»
Native-born citizens ought more to trust the American track record as a confident, thriving nation of immigrants... more»
What do Silas Marner, Walt Whitman, Tolstoy, Achilles, and Nabokov have to do with debates over stem cells? Plenty... more»
Matthew McAllester knew of oppressive regimes, such as Burma, but nothing touched the total control and fear of Saddams Iraq... more»
Liar Jayson Blair’s deepest enthusiasms aren’t reporting but Scotch swilling, partying, cocaine snorting, toadying in office politics... more»
He’s your granddad, maybe, and author of the Mongol blitzkrieg, but Genghis Khan also gave us a road to the modern world... more»
Bloomsbury and Henry James are two of the influences that best inform American literary biography: fresh, dry, surprising... more»
If you define “miracle” as a one in a million chance, then normal folks observe miracles, including ESP, about once a month... more»
Psychology is less a science than a Tower of Babel of contradictory theories from which you can take your pick... more» ... more»
Whether he is the next great poet after Shakespeare is an open question. Whether W.B. Yeats is superlative is not... more»
Rock nroll is the final triumph of aural culture over literate culture. And it has monuments: Elvis, Buddy Holly, Dylan, the Beatles... more»
American colonies, including New Amsterdam, were rife with utopian loonies, sex deviants, and scary criminals: fine future citizens of the U.S.A... more»
Some readers crave awe more than understanding, and lurid pop science is always there to feed their addiction to junk ideas... more»
Holy anorexia: it melted the girls’ flesh away, so that the beating of their saintly hearts could be seen behind the racks of their ribs... more»
“One of the longest journeys in the world is from Brooklyn to Manhattan.” For many people, yes. But if you’re Norman Podhoretz... more»
The cozy concentration camp that was domestic life for women in the 1960s is now replaced by new freedom. As to happiness... more»
Gluttony: “Without it, I would be only half the man I am,” Anger: “better out than in,” Sloth: “Wake me up when it’s over,” Lust... more»
How can billions of neurons swapping chemicals make for consciousness and knowing that others are conscious and self-aware?... more»
The same genes that might make you a CEO if you’re born rich might get you jail if you’re born poor – or born in the wrong order... more»
In North Korea everything not forbidden is compulsory, and what is compulsory is monstrous. It is the epitome of political evil... more»
Ping-pong. A mild game for geeks? Rather, think big-time steroid scandals, Byzantine romances, groupies, and a lot of glue sniffing... more»
Tires were slashed, “whore” and “nigger lover” scrawled on the professor’s car. The campus was outraged, classes canceled. And then... more»
Why have an agent? Well, since you pay the bills, the agent is the one person on your side. Your publisher? Maybe yes, maybe no... more»
Cook-it-yourself restaurants. That’s right. They’re the latest for people who want to dine out but who miss “the cooking experience.” Go figure... more»
Hillary put the “Rodham” in second place after Bill lost an election, but who’s this “Heinz” in Mrs. Kerry’s name? Oh, first husband... more»
Times Square is spectacular, but it is not a simulacrum of media images. It’s a tangible public square where real people stare at things made by other people... more»
In old age he purveyed both kitsch and foul gusts of bad breath, says Robert Hughes. But Salvador Dalí also proved that a great hustler can be a great artist... more»
Before collectivization people in Russia had potatoes but no socialism. Later, they had socialism but no potatoes. Alexander Yakovlev knows... more»
That soprano, fat or slim, no matter her talent, will be hard to understand in high registers. The vowels all begin to sound the same... more»
Physicists like to speculate about how the universe was born. Amusing, but as a path to knowledge it may be a total waste of spacetime... more» ... more»
Chess, a bloodless, low-tech board game, offers lessons for military strategy. You see the enemy’s pieces, but his mind... more»
Republican heathen swine “may be out to destroy all we hold dear,” says Prairie Zen Master Garrison Keillor, but he still laughs at ’em... more»
Victor Gruen had invented shopping malls in order to make America more like Vienna. Alas, he made Vienna more in the end like America... more»
Novels reveal hidden lives. The heart of the rich baron may be withered and acrid, his maid a creature of rare sensitivity and moral greatness... more»
Big crunch or heat death, the fate of the cosmos looks pretty bleak. Intelligent life, however, will be gone long before the universe... more»
Guantanamo hell: they were only 12 when the boys were arrested and sent to Cuba. Home at last, they tell their story without fear... more»
Wahabism is the ideology of the Saudi royal family. Attack it and you attack them. And that is what one ex-jihadist is doing... more»
Homosexuality is a capital crime in Saudi Arabia. But the law of this Islamic state is one thing, daily social reality quite another... more»
Why should the ecstasis of union with God be reserved for St. Theresa and fellow mystics? Why not open the experience to all?... more»
Lev Landau, the great Soviet theoretical physicist, was a man both of extraordinary strength and a strange, childlike helplessness... more»
New films knock down old ones continuously, says Jack Miles. Jesus’ life will be remade within a decade. The Gospel story has legs – short ones, but very sturdy... more»
What you do with your own music is your business; what you do with Beethoven’s is everyone’s business. Jay Nordlinger on the critic’s job of work... more»
Pop music, literature, and films are as Americanized in Egypt as in the rest of the Arab world, says Hani Shukrallah, with heaps of garbage and a few gems... more»
To hold an empire in the 19th century, the British needed not only pith helmets, but a long attention span. The Americans may not quite have what it takes... more»
Paul Theroux spent four days as a sexual prisoner in Zambia: “My first true experience of captivity ... it shocked me and made me feel American”... more»
The idea that human happiness can be bought with foaming turbines and bumper harvests, that no religious or ethnic pride would impede progress – it was Herzls idea for Israel... more»
Samuel Huntington says chances of California whites reacting to Mexicans like Bosnian Serbs is zero. But the demographics spell trouble... more». What trouble?, asks David Brooks ... more» ... more»
Nanny wars. It’s easy to dismiss the dilemmas of professional mothers as whining of an elite. But even in the context of privilege there are hard choices and sorrows... more»
In Perpetual Peace, Immanuel Kant set forth an idea of international law to end all war. So how might he have viewed the invasion of Iraq?... more»
The feminist idea that women are entitled to equal treatment under the law exists in Arab culture regardless of the West. It’s up to Arab women to extend it... more»
Productivity has risen rapidly over the past year, but we worry still. Could the economy get too efficient? What really happens when factories disappear?... more»
“A poet of apprehension” was Graham Greene’s description of her. Patricia Highsmith’s mysteries are pure 1950s in their coiled anxiety beneath a placid surface... more»
The misfortunes of the rich do not disquiet us, but let’s take no joy in the fate of Martha Stewart, hated for all the wrong reasons. Come on, says Michael Wolff, free Martha!... more»
Arguably no other notable figure in history was as wrong as Sigmund Freud about every important thing he had to say. A few followers keep candles burning, but... more»
The idea of “workshops” hides the fact that, unlike real workshops, which make things, workshops you sit through produce nothing. Consider ethics workshops... more»
The young James Baldwin was a real heartbreaker, a man of astonishing intelligence, sensitivity, and vulnerability. How he could write... more»
The Bush White House is using fear to justify war and curtail civil liberties. Or are those who urge that idea actually the fear-mongers? Edward Rothstein wonders... more»
All politicians are odious, all judges disreputable, and only journalists, especially BBC journalists, can really tell the truth. Anyway, thats what the BBC tells itself... more»
Thinking of buying her a push-up bra for Valentines Day? Think again. The breasts in the ads are fake, and the bra won’t support real flesh for long... more»
Obese baseball fan munches hot dog, sees exciting home run, has heart attack. He must sue someone, but who? Now it’s burgers, fries, and lawyers... more»
E.O. Wilson broke a great taboo in applying Darwin to human social behavior. But it was no victory for the political Right, says Left-Darwinian Peter Singer... more»
Imagine if poor countries of the world caught up with the rich: Chinese in SUVs. Bollywood more famous than Hollywood. McDonald’s a minor ethnic cuisine... more»
Camus, in his concreteness and human sensitivity, is more perceptive, and in his compassion, more trustworthy than Sartre. Perhaps even something of a neocon... more» ... more»
George Steiner, relentless in his quest for profundity, tries to dive deep – only to be caught in the water weeds of his own orotund, clichéd prose... more»
It’s a deep paradox: the powerful human urge to revel in sexual pleasure bears such an uneasy relation to another powerful urge, to express ourselves freely in art... more»
To read Stefan Zweig is to learn what, through stupidity, evil, and shrill ideology, we lost in the twentieth century. He saw his world destroyed, and so destroyed himself... more»
Bernard Lewis sees Iraqis as heirs to a great civilization, one fully capable of democratic rule. Helping them, he cheerfully says, “is called imperialism.”... more»
The craft of intelligence, despite WMD problems in Iraq, is again highly valued, with the CIA a top choice list of college graduates wanting to start a career... more»
Somerset Maugham: at first his prose seems urbane, bracing, direct, and unadorned. Read too much and a certain flatness or insipidity begins to show itself... more»
As viewed by Islamists, the West worships false gods of money, sex, animal lust. It must be destroyed and replaced by the kingdom of God. Pure and simple... more»
When slavery ended in Jamaica and the Empire, a coffin was inscribed “Colonial Slavery, died July 31st, 1838, aged 276 years.” It contained chains, iron collar, and whip... more»
Every morning, 6 billion people wake up needing food, energy, and materials. Patrick Moore, Greenpeace co-founder, considers giving them a cleaner environment... more»
If herbal potions and vitamins really could swell breasts, banish fat, and erase wrinkles, then fine. But the marketers of snake oil sell dreams, not reality... more»
Traffic flows, trading in a market, the flight of a panicking crowd toward exits: human action can look oddly like the behavior of particles in space... more»
We avoid Lenin today not because he was an enemy of freedom, but because he reminds us of the fatal limitation of our freedoms. Slavoj Žižek explains... more»
She despises Australia. “The real pain of watching its relentless dilapidation by people too relaxed to give a damn is more than I can bear,” says Germaine Greer... more»
Elie Wiesel asked God not to forgive those who killed children in Auschwitz. Are there acts so evil that it is not possible to forgive?... more»
Mirrors: repudiated in Cuba as a vanity of capitalism. But how then do you teach dance in Havana without mirrors?... more»
How many hundreds of kinds of bug spray, breakfast cereal, and extra-virgin olive oil do we need? In choice lies freedomand misery... more»
Recovered memory became in the end self-travesty, with “victims” recalling surreal orgies with Daddy’s bridge partners, visiting uncles, and family pets... more»
Elizabeth Sifton’s elegant, sensible paean to a humane faith beautifully echoes her father, that Christian dynamo, Reinhold Niebuhr... more»
Sexually intriguing 19th-century novels not only sell well but can generate a plethora of silly theories. Consider the Brontës... more»
Baudelaire described “the dismal sky and impenetrable horizon which envelop the brain in thrall to opium.” He was enslaved... more»
Hollywood, said Marilyn Monroe, is a place where you get $1000 for a kiss “and fifty cents for your soul.” So what is a soul?... more»
Americans were a “timorous, sniveling, poltroonish, ignominious mob of serfs and goose-steppers.” H.L. Mencken had a way... more»
Jean-Paul Sartre’s early work was “a shock, a tremor, torrent, a tidal wave.” But by the end his ideas were feeble, his politics repellent... more»
Somerset Maugham viewed the world without pity. If great art must have kindness, his art was not great. But what a writer he was... more»
The intense pleasure to hear a great composer, read a deep writer, see a superb athlete. It’s human accomplishment, the ultimate spectator sport... more»
With his exquisite sense of timing, Shakespeare managed to get himself born at exactly the right moment for artistic greatness... more»
Ruins are not what they used to be. What can ruins, even luxuriantly overgrown ones, offer to a world infatuated with progress?... more»
Martin Heidegger was lover to the young Hannah Arendt. Simon Blackburn is sure there’s a movie in it: Lights! Camera! Being!... more»
Why does passionate love so easily turn its polar opposite, deep hate? Judith Warner still wonders after reading the latest on love... more»
Peter Mark Roget liked lists, and his Thesaurus is a useful one. Still, the best place for an author to find a new word is in his own mind... more»
Evolutionary psychology has triumphed over its enemies, with powerful theory and a dogged pursuit of evidence... more»
Chinese history is gory, but as he leads the reader past each pile of silk-clad corpses, Rayne Kruger refuses to judge... more»
What, after all, is an “event”? What is a “major event”? Was 9/11 even an “event” at all? Oh, Jürgen and Jacques, tell us!... more»
The pent-up anxiety with which the Tristan begins contains the serene redemption of its ending. Love and death flow from its first chord... more»
The neocon strategy is not ethnic but ideological, a crusade in the name of democracy. But whose idea of democracy?... more»
Madalyn Murray OHair mocked easy targets like biblical literalism, but also had tough criticism for liberals such as Niebuhr and Buber... more»
As Rapunzel knew, hair was a tool to land a man: without radiant locks, abandon hope of wedded bliss. Hair still counts... more»
A woman in midlife crisis tracks down old boyfriends to find out what went wrong. Each spins a variant of the same story... more»
You’ve a great sense of humor, you’re a better driver than others, and prefer to think for yourself. Others are suckers, youre a skeptic... more»
On the island of Lesbos, we need to remind ourselves, even the men were lesbians. As was that greatest of poets, straight or not: Sappho... more»
It’s a long way from Henry James to the movies. We now want our platefuls of blood and hair, and Joe Eszterhas is a willing maître d’... more»
“Nature,” Francis Bacon said, “to be commanded, must be obeyed.” If it’s true of science, how much more of medicine... more»
There may have been 2.67 million paintings in Dutch homes by 1660. Art was big business, as much tied to money then as now... more»
NASAs nasalnaut, the man they call the Most Smella Fella. He’s performed 771 official missions in the cause of better smelling spacecraft... more»
Autism used to be thought to occur in one in every 10,000 children, then one in 2500. Now it’s one in 250. But what is autism?... more»
When an old factory is razed, Richard Florida bemoans the loss of future lofts. In his utopia, the working class serves the creative class... more»
Through the open window John Cage was sitting by came a blitz of noise from ghetto blasters, car horns, sirens. Noise? He called it music... more»
Carl von Clausewitz’s On War is less a guide than a mirror, argues Bruce Fleming. Find in it what you will, be it war or peace... more»
How to save a dying tongue when economic advantages of, say, Spanish are all around you? Are dying languages worth the bother?... more»
“I don’t go for fancy cars, / For diamond rings / or movie stars.” Actually, Lyle Lovett dropped the last phrase. He was married to Julia Roberts... more»
A slaughterhouse that ensures cows go to their deaths calmly and without struggle: animal rights activists can take the credit... more»
Naomi Wolf was a Yale senior, Harold Bloom the superstar prof she’d hoped to impress – until he put his hand on her thigh... more» ... more». Meghan O’Rourke ... Zoe Williams ... Margaret Wente ... Anne Applebaum ... she burst into tears ... Caroline Overington ... Zoe Heller
Though Liszt and Thalberg were the emperors of piano technique, it is Chopin’s aristocratic work that stays with us today... more»
If Shakespeare took the new SAT, would he be able to get into Harvard? Would Gertrude Stein? And how about the Unabomber?... more»
Despite her “huge flat feet” and “bulky legs,” Elias Canetti was Iris Murdochs lover. His contempt for her is now to appear in print... more» ... more»
Mindreading isn’t the same as empathy, the sensation of feeling another’s pain. It is a matter of catching subtle cues... more»... Take the test.
Tobacco-flavored ice cream and sardines on sorbet toast, chocolate caviar, or oysters and passion-fruit jelly may not sound like great. But... more»
The French Republic is a myth reaffirmed in microcosm every time a scarfless child enters the école maternelle. This too is a cult... more»
If Kim Jong Il ordered you to race him on Jet Skis it paid to lose. Unless he’d ordered you to win. As for his fondness for mugwort rice cakes... more»
Very young children reason about human behavior in terms of desires. At age three or four, the world over, they start to think about beliefs. Why?... more»
The adjective is the enemy of the noun,” wrote Voltaire, “though it agrees with it in number and gender.” If you catch one, Mark Twain added, “kill it”... more»
The U.S. census will be over 358 million by 2025, biggest increase of any industrial land. Its population growth rate will exceed Indonesia and China... more»
Go to the library? Can’t I just Google it? The little search engine that could is as central to society as sewers or roads or telephone lines... more»
For artists and poets love is as mysterious as a rainbow. Yeah, well, the guys in white smocks explained rainbows. So now to love... more»
The U.S. and Europe differ most deeply in religiosity and a sense of moral calling, says Samuel Huntington. Anthony Giddens is not so sure... more»
Charles Darwin, while ahead of his time, still presumed the Victorian idea that we sit at the top of a ladder of animal superiority. And yet... more»
Conservative students: are they treated with bias by liberal profs? Some say yes, and they are on the warpath... more» ... David Horowitz ... Stanley Fish
So who, asks historian John Lewis Gaddis, are the grand strategists among U.S. leaders? John Quincy Adams, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and George W. Bush... more»
First, there was the rather stiff term homosexual, then gay and lesbian, then the once taboo dyke and queer. Now, all bets are off... more»
“The proof is in the pudding.” No, it’s not. It is in the eating. People cant get it right. And that’s just for starters... more»
Whore of the Republic is rather strong language to describe Christine Deviers-Joncours. Does the beautiful mistress of Roland Dumas deserve it?... more»
When Edvard Grieg wrote on the score of his symphony, “Must never be performed,” he thought his wishes would be honored... more»
The principle of neutrality among ideas of the good life demands that the state not favor the industrious over the lazy. It follows, therefore... more»
As Linus told Charlie Brown, “I’m aware of my tongue. It’s an awful feeling! I can’t put it out of my mind.” Shades of Sartres Nausea... more»
Unlike Auschwitz or Belsen, Tuol Sleng was a political death center, a main cog in Khmer Rouge killing machine. John Pilger explains... more»
You can get rid of Saddam, but demographic facts will not be denied. For Iraq, the Shiites are the biggest fact of all... more»
The Great Game was played out between the British Empire and the Czar to control the heart of Eurasia. The players are different today, but... more»
A.J. Liebling’s prose was dazzling in its wit and acuity, says Jonathan Yardley. He could make you want to keep on reading for as long as he kept on writing... more»
“The old-fashioned left used to be universalist,” says Paul Berman. Now it’s all “Social democracy for Swedes! Tyranny for Arabs!” What’s going on?... more»
Jane Austen was no knee-jerk backer of traditional social order. Her heroines are upwardly mobile, but they respect and use the tradition of marriage... more»
Leo Strauss was not all that much for war, mind you. But a little crisis mongering is useful when the leader needs to take unpopular action. Did someone sayIraq”?... more»
It takes more than a village to raise a terrorist, it takes a whole religion. Consider Thuggee in India, says James Q. Wilson. Think about the etymology of “assassin”... more»
Audiences are going grow weary of special effects. They are not so impressed any more with a shot of a big spaceship. Time for a return to reality... more»
In this year’s State of the Union, Bush actually structured some passages as arguments, or answers to criticism. James Fallows on Bush’s speech... more» ... more»
Theodore Dalrymple is turning his back on the ugliness and emptiness of Britain and moving to France: a more civilized country than his own... more»
So just what is a “minor” work of literature? A new publisher has set its sights strictly on the minor-league works of all-star authors. Carlin Romano reports... more»
An American holocaust? In the Tuskegee Study, poor southern blacks were denied treatment for syphilis. That’s how the story goes, says Richard Shweder. But... more»
Despite receiving no therapy after 9/11, New Yorkers did not suffer widespread psychological damage. Do traumatized people really need all that counselling?... more»
Little drumbeats of sagacity, affixed to the fridge, or over the desk: “It’s time to start living the life you’ve imagined!” And while you’re up, bring us a sick bag... more»
“All sensible husbands will agree with me,” says Tom Utley, “that it is very important to beat one’s wife.” And they will feel sympathy for Mohamed Kamal Mustafa... more»
Tunku Varadarajan’s small son wondered what those children were doing on the streets of Delhi without their mothers. It would never happen in Brooklyn... more»
Is there a global war against the Jews? No, says Brian Klug. The notion is as imaginary as its mirror image: a Jewish conspiracy against the world... more»
Neocons. Secret adherents of Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution? A Jewish cabal? Liberals mugged by reality? None of the above, says Max Boot... more»
Nation building: candidate Bush was against it, President Bush rather likes the idea. Can the U.S. teach people how to govern themselves? Francis Fukuyama asks... more»
“Any universe simple enough to be understood,” says one physicist, “is too simple to produce a mind able to understand it.” John Brockman collects such laws... more» ... more».
Was Princess Di murdered? But of course she was! They did it. Yes, says Frank Furedi, we get the conspiracies we deserve... more»
Evangelicals are more visible in the U.S. than a generation ago. Does that mean Christian extremism is taking over? Not a chance, says Alan Wolfe... more»
Movie people can enjoy the worst schlock and Ingmar Bergman: they throw it all together. For book people, trash and art do not ride in the same part of the bus... more»
“I awoke on Friday and because the universe is expanding it took me longer than usual to find my robe.” And so Woody Allen was late for work... more»
In all of American literature there is absolutely nothing to compare with the life’s work of William Faulkner. Simply, incontrovertibly, he stands alone... more»
Mind = camera? No: we cannot be passive, impartial observers. Every perception is shaped by us, whether we realize it or not. Oliver Sacks explains... more»
The detonation of a nuclear bomb on a city causes blast damage, to be sure. But the ensuing firestorm – gassing and incinerating all in its path – will also kill... more»
Smith wants to be killed and eaten, Jones wants to kill and eat. Thanks to the Internet, their desires are fulfilled. What’s wrong with that? Answer from first principles, please... more»
Philosophy cannot convince us that we must first care about other people. That is left for tragedy, which can awaken pity and teach us sympathy and love... more»
Nietzsche took the universe to be Dionysian, filled with passionate longing and suffering. Music was the key to reality... more» [new link]
Don Quixote’s desire for a world of extreme adventures, of high moral virtues and chaste sexual passion, taps a deep human need... more»
The idealism of Apple, with its friendly Macintosh, was high, but sadly misplaced. It seemed the upstart, but in the end... more»
Heidegger was a Nazi to the end, never in serious conflict with the regime, and always played innocent. Hannah Arendt swallowed it... more»

Dr. Laura is a fishwife herself, and hard to defend. Still, she gives some of the best advice about marriage and family life available anywhere... more»
Armenian Genocide? There were only a few thousand killed, and they were likely Bolsheviks. Armenians murdered Turks. Right?... more»
The Sherlock Holmes stories are all adventure, with no love, no sex. Still, is Sherlock himself gay? What about Dr. Watson?... more»
Liberalism can’t do justice to the goods needed to sustain a free society, which is always far richer than any theory used to justify it... more»
The 1968 generation loved its music and drugs and hated the Vietnam war. Its memories are shaped by the peppery taste of tear gas... more»
Imagine the implications if we were all able to live over 400 years of healthy, albeit sterile, life: no more Toys “R” Us, no more pop music fads... more»
Natalie Wood became a major star without ever being a major actress. The end was sad, but in art as in life, timing is all... more»
When sex and murder are part of the plot, outrage, gender hysteria, and tabloid alarmism can raise holy hell with the legal system... more»
Terry Eagleton advocates hard thinking and a tragic, complex worldview, but in the end he relies on old, easy slogans and formulas... more»
The narrative self: with our human capacity to tell stories, do we create our identities? Fashionable twaddle, says Galen Strawson... more»
“Missionary peoples,” “sacred homelands,” “golden ages.” These are the ethnic myths on which nationalism is built... more»
The Bounty’s crew had made powerful bonds through sexual liaisons in Tahiti. So in their restless state they turned to mutiny... more»
In 1914, “Mumbo-jumbo, Law and Mesopotamia” were a neat little spoof to cloak the drift of history. Sound at all familar?... more»
Sartre detested slime, and the slimiest things in the world, he felt, were women. This idea was kind of controversial... more»
It was said of Beethoven, and might be said of Glenn Gould: a decent chap whose demons got the better of him... more» ... more»
Was Warren Harding really the worst president in U.S. history? Well, let’s just say that his White House was ethically challenged... more»
For John Gardner, great fiction needed to test values against “real-life consequences” in the world. It needed to be moral... more»
García Márquez has recreated a vivid, astonishing universe: the Caribbean coastlands of Colombia in the first half of the last century... more»
Does market capitalism really make people miserable? Or is it the best available way we can achieve human happiness?... more»
Authenticity is what we want as tourists, places unspoiled by foreign influence. You can find this and more in delightful North Korea... more»
Synergy is everywhere, in the bathtub, geodesic domes, the alphabet, and food. Which means that as explanation, it’s nowhere... more»
Conspiracies so vast. What is it about the human mind that drives it to invent webs of evil intent where there is mere contingency?... more»
Janet Frame, New Zealand writer of genius for whom all dreams led “back to the nightmare garden,” is dead... more»
Dogs. There’s nothing all that natural about this vastly varied species. We’ve built these lovable little artifacts as much as houses or cars... more»
How to combine a great career with being a great mom: force hubby to earn more. Then “choose to be different” with the help of maid and au pair... more»
Postmodern literary theory is dying. But how did its Marxified notion that There Is No Truth become The Truth in the first place?... more»
Programmers once could sit tight in cubicles in Silicon Valley and wait for work to arrive. Now the industry has discovered India... more»
Americans take it for granted that marriage, despite recent ills, will always exist. This is a mistake, says Stanley Kurtz. Consider Sweden... more»
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn had to have deep aggressiveness to survive the Politburo and KGB. He still has it, and now turns it on friend and foe alike... more»
Neuroaesthetics: does a van Gogh still-life press buttons of awe and delight in the brain? Can neurons explain Duchamp’s wild appeal?... more»
As Conrad Black cleans out his desk, it may well be that his most lasting work was not in newspapers, but in his a long, glowing tribute to FDR... more»
Copyright protects creative spirits – and can be a tool to hoard profits forever. The public needs a proper idea of a public domain... more»
Latin readers are not merely arty types entranced by the glories of Virgil or the fall of Horace’s rhythms. Latin has a future... more»
A living person with the face of someone dead is a macabre idea, suggesting Frankenstein. Yet one day face transplants may become common... more»
What motivates moral choice? Reason? Emotion? Instinct? Society? Can the satisfaction of doing right tempt us away from doing wrong?... more»
Good arguments against Roe vs. Wade exist, but none are knockdown. It may follow for the courts that it, and abortion itself, will stand... more»
Cheers for Scott McLemee of The Chronicle of Higher Education, who’ll receive Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing from National Book Critics Circle... more» ... more»
Self-deprecating humor does not come so easily to your average southern boy. Bill Clinton had to relax and learn it. He did... more»
Piano transcriptions: they have been dismissed with snobbish contempt, but they can shine new light on tired musical masterworks... more»
How to become a millionaire by playing in a string quartet? How to keep from hating your fellow players? David Waterman has the answers... more»
In a job, on your own, and close to destitute. In the house of the poor, walls are thin and fragile, and troubles tend to seep into one another... more»
Disneys more famous than Plato in Greece. So will the Bee Gees outlive Shakespeare? In a few thousand years we’ll know for sure... more»
“The first society to pass from barbarism to decadence without an intervening phase of civilization.” More anti-Americanism... more»
Emerson is often viewed as a cheerful philosopher. But Nietzsche’s veneration of him shows he was not a wholly sunny man... more»
Soccer was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Well, maybe. What it deserves is a prize for economics. Franklin Foer explains... more»
Kenneth Pollack made a case for the invasion of Iraq. He is chagrined by the failure to unearth Saddams weapons of mass destruction... more»
Friedrich Hayek famously took a detour off the road to serfdom. Less known are his contributions to brain science – and postmodernism... more»
We cringe to meet someone in a wheelchair, wish our aged relatives would die, smirk over our friends’ bad taste, think babies are ugly. In private, of course... more»
“What’s wrong with sharing your bed?” Michael Jackson asked. Isn’t it a valid question, even when you share it with a child?... more»
Once upon a time the Taliban was attacked at MLA meetings for its treatment of women. Now the oppressor of the Afghan people is the U.S... more»
As spirited as the Cuban people are, Castro’s endless rule is a powerful vine wrapped around the country, choking it. Arthur Miller tells a sad and disturbing story... more»
A “relationship” can’t mean having a good time: it’s the wrong word. Date, court, or seduce, says David Mamet. But a “relationship” can only result in sorrow... more»
Anti-communism was viewed as proof of bad taste after Joe McCarthy – nasty and provincial. Academics even today get a free ride out of this sentiment... more»
Did belief in extraterrestrials pave the way to today’s general fear of global warming? Michael Crichton draws out an intriguing connection... more»
If you could bid on eBay for the only other image of Emily Dickinson, how high would you go? Nearly $500 is a lot for a date with a lady poet, but Wow!... more»
All events exist eternally in the vastness of time. Let us separate it into past, present, and future – so long as we realize that this device is arbitrary and subjective... more»
Newspapers once were whiskey bottles in desk drawers, green eyeshades, clanking typewriters, copy boys, and Western Union. Stanley Woodward was there... more»
Was Abe Zapruder’s 26-second movie of an assassination “a crucial cinematic text of the 20th century,” the apotheosis of New Wave cinema? Maybe not, but... more»
That insidious “we” word: so loved by communitarians, it stands as a warm, fuzzy, friendly invitation to the tyranny of the majority. Roger Kerr explains... more»
A specter haunts Marxism: it is the ghost of Christianity. Routed by capitalist globalism, unable to find hope, Marxists are turning back to the church... more»
Shock spread through the land when Clark Gable’s Rhett Butler said “I dont give a damn!” That was 1939. Is there any language that shocks anyone anymore?... more»
What has happened to standards of conduct? Let’s get back to some rules, says Cullen Murphy. Like: “Women and children first” (except Ann Coulter)... more»
Gavin Kitching gave up his long career in African studies: “What was happening to a continent and a people I had grown to love left me appalled and confused”... more» ... responses (scroll down) ... earlier.
Christmas is not what it once was. But neither is marriage, religion, or civil society. Whose fault is that? Society’s? Lee Harris meditates on our sense of honor... more»
One of Eugene ONeill’s sons died of drink, the other killed himself. He disinherited his daughter, then fell silent, withered, and died. And rose again... more»
Income distribution in the U.S. has gone right back to Gilded Age levels of inequality, says Paul Krugman. It’s goodbye to Horatio Alger... more». That Heritage study.
Deliberation Day: a new national holiday before each election for the whole country to consider and debate candidates and issues. A great idea... more»... or maybe not.
Theodore Dalrymple is never bored. He may be appalled, horrified, angered, cheered, or delighted, but never bored. Therein lies a story... more»
How is Reason feeling these days? Better than postmodernism, which is decidedly under the weather. As for religion, it just plods along... more»
Energy puritans denounce them as a waste and arbiters of taste call them vulgar, but their place in the culture will not be denied. Virginia Postrel on Christmas lights... more»
American political ideals have power. But not all aspects of U.S. culture – Big Macs, separation of church and state – have global appeal, says Michael Elliott... more»
Against Stalinists, Albert Camus admitted he might be wrong. But “better to be wrong by killing no one than to be right with mass graves”... more»
Lust gets a lot of bad press, says Simon Blackburn. Sure, it can lead to debauchery. Depends on your luck. Hunger can get out of hand too, or thirst... more»
Where does the ‘s’ go in the plural of “Egg McMuffin”? McDonalds hired a PR firm to figure it out. As for “McJob,” don’t even think about it, singular or plural... more»
Don Quixote says his quest is to destroy injustice. As the final injustice is the bondage of death, his is a way of battling death. Harold Bloom explains... more»
In a few years, a third-party candidate will be President. It is not politics, but technology that will cause the Dem/GOP duopoly to fail... more»
Homosexuality in Greece and Rome involved pederasty, and in Rome, slavery – both forms of oppression. Liberal democracy insists sex be a matter of reason and will... more»
To be movie-star gorgeous is the deepest wish behind cosmetic surgery. Why endure such pain for what is merely skin deep?... more»
Were chess to be regarded as music, masterpieces of Steinitz, Botvinik, and Fischer would be seen with the works of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven... more»
The average grocery store has 30,000 distinct items, of which 20,000 are dumped and replaced annually. We have too much choice... more»
Spring of 431 B.C. in Athens saw the commencement of a great book, the première of a great play, and the outbreak of a great war... more»
“Cold war,” was coined by George Orwell. “Totalitarian” we owe to another brave idealist of the free-thinking Left, Victor Serge... more»
Aesthetic impact in music depends on creating listener expectations then evocatively foiling them. So along comes atonality... more»
Placebo shots work better than placebo pills, says Daniel Moerman. Branded placebos are better than generics, blue pills better than red ones... more»
Musics decline began when it was taken out of church. Now it’s nowhere, reduced by the Walkman to six inches between the ears... more»
Paul Johnson paints his story of art with a broad, confident, springy, heavily loaded brush. He can mesmerize, and infuriate... more»
Stride into 2004 with new and improved fad diets. And great ideas: “Restructure your thinking with positive internal thinking.” Yes! Yes!... more»
Say what you will of Chiang Kai-shek, the Nanking Republic was the nearest to good government China saw in the 20th century... more»
The 1950s might have been less sexually “free” than our own time. Ted Solotaroff shows that the decade was more imaginative... more»
When we’re bad or good, vain or modest, authentic or ironic: how can we know whether we are actually faking it?... more»
Will war in Iraq make strong, new democracies in the Arab world? Help the extremists? Or cause events we cannot foresee? Take a guess... more»
Weary postmodernists need strong doses of absolute truth, objectivity, virtue, and even good ol’ morality, says Terry Eagleton... more»
The Indian Rope Trick was first described in a Chicago paper in 1890. The editor soon admitted the story was a fake. Too late... more»
Paul Johnson’s views are often unfair and more often quirky, his scholarship slap-dash. But when he writes well of art... more» ... more»
“War on America!”, observes Robert Redeker, “has been the sole rallying cry of every form of pacifism for 60 years.” The hostility is very French... more»
The Nutcracker shows us the values of tact and bravery, sacrifice and reward. With help from Tchaikovsky, Clara leads the way... more» ... more»
Redistributing wealth does not reduce poverty: creating more of it does, as Jagdish Bhagwati saw in India 40 years ago... more»
William Joyce: cruel, brutal, vulgar, hate-filled English propagandist for the Nazis. He was Lord Haw-Haw... more»
Fashion rules: what has long been true for clothes and clothing accessories has now spread to everything else, for good or for ill... more»
“Americans have been made into permanent adolescents, scared of death, sex, old age.” Dwight Macdonald wrote it in 1950, but it still rings oddly true... more»
Sigmund Freud’s triumph was an intellectual catastrophe. Wherever that bearded shadow fell, something rotten festered... more»
When his dog died, Sydney Smith wrote, between sobs, “Contentedly through life he trotted, along the path that fate allotted”... more»
Egalitarians such as John Rawls reject the free-market’s disparities of wealth. But will canceling good luck really promote equality?... more»
Is same-sex marriage too big an issue for the courts to ignore? Maybe, says Richard Posner, it’s too big for the courts to meddle with... more»
Colons in book titles are one problem, the impenetrable strings of words that follow them yet another. Like tweed, colons have become an academic cliché... more»
Roberto Alagna? Dumped by EMI for poor sales. The Berlin Philharmonic? Forget it: too expensive. Classical music recording is dying... more»
>From Victorian coal mines to Everest to the Titanic, people have faced terrifying risks. And over all hangs the spectre of bad luck... more»
Humanities profs say you know and uh 4.85 times per minute, natural science profs say them only 1.39 times. So wheres the eloquence?... more»
Professor/student love affairs: the new class of sex crime on campus. Might they be just another learning experience? Laura Kipnis wonders... more»
In complex allusions and wit, personal ads intellectuals place in the NYRB, LRB, etc. are far superior to most modern verse... more»
On the morning of 9/11, an Al Qaeda member was overheard calling the attack “the doctor’s program” That’s Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri... more»
Arnold Schoenberg was a tragic figure in the history of music, both irrationalist and one who wanted to cast music in the image of science... more»
John Gregory Dunne, critic and novelist who called writing “manual labor of the mind: a job, like laying pipe,” is dead at 71... more»
The critter at the heart of the vCJD story is not a cow, even a mad one, but the prion, an odd protein that attacks the brain... more» ... more»
The Hague Tribunal wishes to have “reconciliation” for Serbia and Bosnia. If your family was murdered, would you want to meet the killers half way?... more»
Johan Norberg is outraged: “People are dying because we in the West are unwilling to actually live by the free-market rhetoric we spout”... more»
Johnny Cash – spirit scarred, busted, threadbare, but fearless, peaceable, witty, and wise. He died as he lived: no overdubs, no effects... more»
Mail-order marriage brokers: Do they put desperate young women at risk of abuse, or worse? The rumors say, yes. The stats say, no. Consider Elena Petrenko... more»
Why has the staunchest of U.S. allies been incubating a murderous anti-Americanism? What’s going on in the murky depths of Saudi politics?... more»
The difference between what givers pay for gifts and the value recipients put on them is a “deadweight” loss for the economy. So why gifts?... more»
How many presents does my true love give me for the Twelve Days of Christmas? In 1787, Karl Friedrich Gauss figured out the formula. He was ten... more»
Happy families are all alike, but from the House of Atreus to today’s soaps, unhappy families are more fun to read about... more»
In the West, religion is now a clear, antiseptic, distilled water. In India it is the muddy Ganges itself. Choose your drink... more»
Environmental skeptic Bjørn Lomborg, called “dishonest” by a Danish committee, has been vindicated in a scathing report on the committee’s work... more ... BBC ... NYTimes ... A blow for Green luddites.
You came all the way to the big city and paid $75 for those seats, so prove to yourself you had a great time: give ’em a standing ovation... more»
Dictators, lawyers, and priests have long used obscure speech to maintain authority. Look now at university administration... more»
Howard Shore’s score for the Peter Jackson Rings trilogy evokes Wagner. He knows the science of harmonic dread... more». But isn’t it all quite racist? Maybe so ... maybe not.
The French are too logical, too emotional, and too insecure to possess a complicated sense of humor. Of course, they do love Jerry Lewis... more»
Hedonic damages: the money a jury awards for pleasures denied. It’s a great advance in tort law – or the sheerest junk science... more»
President Bush scandalized some of his evangelical fans by saying recently that Muslims and Christians worship the same God. Jack Miles on monotheism... more»
American studies began with the idea of a radical, democratic theme at the core of American culture, says Leo Marx. Gloom has now settled over the discipline... more»
Get environmentalism out of the clutches of religion, says Michael Crichton, and back to being a science. A pre-industrial Eden is a fantasy that never existed... more»
What is my relation to young Daniel Defoe?, old Robinson Crusoe asks. Master to slave? Twin brother? J.M. Coetzee’s odd, whimsical Nobel Lecture... more»
Conventional wisdom is a dull and lifeless thing. The best kinds of opinion express private thought. They are contrarian, not conformist... more»
The State Department needs a new “Assistant Secretary for Ousting Dictators.” Odd, maybe, but it beats bowing low to the Saudis... more»
Don’t knock the Booker jury. They democratized literature by proving that a book does not have to be any good to win a prize... more»
Does the Cuban missile crisis explain the Iraq War? Sure, like the Moon landing explains the dotcom boom. But in Noam Chomsky’s world... more»
Literature teaches us truths about life – not just the life of culture, but the life of humans as an evolved species... more»
In the last election Bush took every cow county in the nation; those with the most bookstores went for Gore. It follows that... more»
“Who controls the past,” said Orwell, “controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.” Our books are our present... more»
Garage philosopher, autodidact, and supreme mythmaker of false reality: Philip K. Dick’s paranoid visions made millions for movie moguls. He collected peanuts... more»
Western hegemony won’t be seen as a threat once Enlightenment values of law and social equality are grasped worldwide. Time to get the UN into Iraq... more»
Democracy? The EU values unique moral identity, the wisdom of its constitution, and a decent life for all. But democracy? That’s not central... more»
Hans Reichenbach, student of Max Planck and David Hilbert, was a founder of logical positivism and a committed socialist. Academics today should reread him... more»
Turing, von Neumann, Wiener: they were geniuses who got computing off to a stellar start, says Jaron Lanier. In the meantime, something has gone wrong... more»
The contemporary novel either counterfeits reality or forfeits it, says hatchet-man Dale Peck. Either way, what we need in its stead is a new kind of literary materialism... more»
Depending on whom you read, it seems American empire is expanding or collapsing, an old story or new, bestriding the world or melting away. Jonathan Schell explains... more»
What do boys want from their dads? A painless transfusion of wisdom, a key to life’s mysteries, the secret to happiness. Like other sons, Joseph Epstein was disappointed... more»
English departments may be well stocked with liberals, says Michael Bérubé. But he has never personally seen a conservative student penalized by a professor for his or her beliefs... more»
Nothing like esoteric windiness and a foreign accent to create a air of profundity, to which bored society ladies are drawn like flies to dung. Consider Carl Jung... more»
“Your task is to convey the emotion, not to experience it.” True, perhaps, but how to convey emotion in performance has flummoxed many a musician... more»
The old arguments used by sexist pigs to keep women at the kitchen sink are now heard from women who prefer to stay at home. Are women lazy, or what?... more»
So this dude doesnt get a Nobel prize he says he deserves. And? Most people who deserve a Nobel never get one. If you’re a genius, enjoy it. And forget it... more»
Honorable journalists: sure, there are many of them. But at the same time, “There are so many show-offs in journalism, so many braggarts and jerks”... more»
It’s academic conference season again, and thousands of papers will be read badly by scholars to sleepy fellow scholars. Some advice from William Germano... more»
Over half of U.S. high school kids don’t know who the Allies fought in WWII. Allies? Huh? 18% think the Allies included the Germans. Bruce Cole sounds an alarm... more»
Reading of Harry Potter, a child is lost in a private world, a place of escape, secure from adults. Why should we drag children back to our own fears and discord?... more»
“Mrs. Thatcher was at the buffet, backing up, and our butts hit and rubbed against each other,” David Brooks says. “Well, they don’t call her the Iron Lady for nothing”... more»
Conceptual art. At least what Marcel Duchamp did with a urinal had the virtues of originality. But that was a long time ago. The joke is getting a little stale... more»
After her aunt’s throat was slit by the chauffeur, Amy Chua wondered if he wasn’t the very same man she had stumbled on many years before... more»
How can newspaper editors attract younger readers? There is a secret answer to this burning question. It involves ... uh ... a word, you see. It’s ... uh ... well... more»
Abolish private property, claimed William Godwin, and with it will end selfishness, fraud, servility, and anxiety: “No man would be an enemy to his neighbours”... more»
“I cannot recite a single poem,” says John McWhorter. Russian teens will give you strophes of Pushkin. The best Americans can do is Dr. Seuss or theme songs... more»
Charles, like St. Di, should be made subject to ritual martyrdom. Then the pitiless, gawking public could seek absolution with flowers and teddy bears on his grave too... more»
Cellphone calls often begin with “Where are you?” The answer might be “By the pool” or “Madagascar.” Cellphones make us all nodes on a network... more»
John D. MacDonald’s sharp, seamless prose, his romanticism and cynicism, his bull’s-eye aim, created a lush landscape of crime. Jonathan Yardley on a great American writer... more»
Bush and Ashcroft? “I think of them as an alien army,” says Gore Vidal. “We have a deranged president. We have despotism. We have no due process” And that’s just for starters... more»
A mediocre guide to trees or cheese – well, it may have its uses. But a bad novel is worse than worthless, it’s a blot on creation, a menace. David Sexton explains... more»
Subheads: an editorial gift to readers everywhere, relieving them of the onerous job of having to think through all those tedious, gray columns of type... more»
Bad academic writing continues as a thriving, flourishing, burgeoning industry. The market may be saturated, says Ophelia Benson, but the rain keeps falling... more»
Is there a Jewish nose? Well, maybe so. But what about Jewish ears? Joseph Epstein is certain that, if not the nose, he at least has the ears... more»
As far as John Gray has traveled, and as frequently as he has changed lanes, he’s still conservative after all these years... more»
Finnegans Wake was not a work solely by James Joyce, for he was “helped” by his daughter, Lucia. She was a coauthor, sort of... more»
Richard Dawkins thinks of religious belief as simply true or false, and very likely false – like astrology or alternative medicine Yes, but... more»
Blindness, desiccation, and sterility are associations that cling like cobwebs to the image of the scholar immured in his study... more»
Nero slept with his mother, then murdered her, kicked his wife to death, and of course fiddled. The list of crimes goes on – is it true?... more»
Mein Kampf is the one book title by which Adolf Hitler is known. But he wrote a second book, one that was never published... more»
George Steiner is a temple priest of some mystery religion. The mummery of learning and empty wordplay is all he offers... more» ... more»
Ben Franklin’s dark prophecy is true, says Gore Vidal: popular corruption has given birth to that despotism he foresaw as at our birth... more»
Camembert’s story is about more than just cheese. It is about trade, promotion, and the sheer invention of a culinary tradition... more»
Ellen Glasgow: a fine writer whose sardonic spirit mocked incessantly: “I will not be defeated,” she said, “I will not look defeated!”... more»
Zero-tolerance punctuation guide: “eats, shoots, and leaves” does not really need those commas, if it describes an unarmed panda... more» ... more»
In odd, unexpected ways, it seems, opposites attract: so have straight men written convincingly of lesbians, women of gay men... more»
One generation’s luxury is the next’s necessity: buttons, window glass, socks, rugs, door handles, lace, cranberries, turkey... more»
Einstein made the big jump into relativity because he was eager to throw out old ideas for new. Poincaré, alas, hesitated on the brink... more»
The Weathermen: Oh, what a thrill it was! They never felt more alive than when setting bombs and reading about themselves in the papers... more» ... more»
Tariq Ali speaks for all of the people of Iraq when he says the U.S. is detested there. How does he know? Telepathy, it seems... more»
(1) The U.S. is a very religious country. (2) Gluttony is a deadly sin. (3) Yet Americans are nearly the fattest people on earth. Go figure... more»
International law: the rot began in Nüremberg, which was not a real court, however right its actions. Such “law” will not control nations... more»
Adolf Hitler could not find much to like about the U.S.– except for the country’s admirable eugenics policies... more»
How to deal with a rude sales clerk: whisper to her that she really must do something about that moustache... more»
It seemed the U.S. had lost the Battle of Midway till the leader of a bomber squadron spotted a destroyer’s vivid white wake in the water... more» ... more»
“When we watch porno, we fast-forward through the sex to get to the acting.” Were you a porn star, so might you, as Martin Amis realizes... more»
The postmodern world aspires to post-historical bliss but is still rooted in the violence of national states. What is our way forward?... more»
Husband hunting when you’re over 35 goes on in a marriage market. So why not use the Harvard Business School’s best marketing tools?... more»
Alexander Pushkin, lout and vulgarian, drank like a frat boy, treated women as whores, was toady to the tsar, grew dirty nails to claw-like length... more»

Jean Cocteau and Edith Piaf died on the same day. But what, beyond that, did the privileged poet and the girl from the gutter have in common?... more»
Why not just admit it? There is no such thing as the good life. There are many good modes of human life, and no one of them outranks the others... more»
It’s a curious phenomenon, and by no means a harmless one: counseling has replaced fortitude today as our way of dealing with misfortune... more»
The desiccated mind of the scholar can be a place where ideas go to die. But not always. Before Casaubon there was another Casaubon... more»
Dr. Johnson was shocked by Tom Jones: “I scarcely know a more corrupt work.” Nor could he have known a funnier one... more»
As Hannah Arendt knew, evil is so plain, so banal, says Fouad Ajami. Good news out of Iraq is such an annoyance. That Ba’athist needs a bath, says Mark Steyn. He bloodied the Tigris, made the pines weep, quotes Mother Jones. His hands were cold and damp, Robert Fisk recalls. The Republic of Fear is dead, says Fareed Zakaria. It will be a much deserved execution, writes John Keegan He’ll have his day in court, along with the ghosts of his victims, says William Safire. It never would have happened, says Margaret Wente, without the U.S. Let’s build a new country, writes David Ignatius. Does he still have those diamond cuff links?, Jim Hoagland wonders. John Guardiano thought he was dreaming. Some of the most heartfelt comments come from bloggers: A.Y.S., Alaa, Sam, Healing Iraq. Saddam now likes to use his French.
Strom Thurmonds daughter by a black housemaid has, after a lifetime of silence, gone public about her father... more» ... more»
Robert Heinlein’s mind moved in space, time, and politics: from Upton Sinclair to Barry Goldwater, from Hollywood to a visionary future... more»
The human race won the battle to have enough food to survive on the planet. Now, with too much food, it is a victim of its own success... more»
The Neocons may aspire to a noble Wilsonian democratic idealism. But while morality may well be about intentions, politics is inescapably about consequences... more»
Lying politicians and the lies they tell can, if we’re serious about it, reveal mathematical truth. John Allen Paulos explains... more»
From opium to LSD, drugs may not help writers to produce better work, but they give them something to write about... more»
Was Alan Alda made sick by eggs as a child? No. But then why didn’t he eat one at an Elizabeth Loftus’s picnic? A tale of false memory... more»
He survived execution by firing squad, walked through walls, removed his own head. Then Dr. Dahesh’s collection became the core of a new art museum... more» ... more»
Christmas, 1914: British and German troops climbed out of the trenches to play soccer in no man’s land. Then the war resumed... more»
“Iraqis lack the actual power to experience freedom”: that is why the moment of good feeling was so short after the liberation of Baghdad... more»
“As your hands roam her back, her breasts, and trace the swastika on her mound, you feel like an ancient Aryan warlord.” The Bad Sex Awards are back... more» ... more»
Over the street from the British Museum, there is a pub where Karl Marx often stopped for a drink. Today, there is a Starbucks nearby... more»
Cads vs dads: which kinds of hero do women prefer? Dark, passionate, violent? Or kind, loyal, and tender? Romantic novelists know... more»
Why is literary hatchet-man Dale Peck so brutal in his work? Because the modern novel is “a reactionary force in aesthetic terms, irrelevant in cultural terms”... more»
Clark Kerr, the man who did for higher education what Henry Ford did for the automobile, is dead at age 92... more» ... more»... more»
The U.S. is ruled by money, while poverty and violence pervade the land. At least that’s what Europeans think, says Jean-François Revel... more»
Bones of contention: ought human remains in museums be given up to indigenous groups – or any “relatives” – who claim them?... more» ... earlier.
“Truth is related to silence, to reflection, to the practice of writing,” and does not come from chatting with journalists, observes J.M. Coetzee... more»
An IT engineer in India might as well be in the next cubicle, and he may soon be. The U.S. will need Indian brainpower as baby boomers retire... more»
Hugh Kenner, who wrote with power and insight on Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and Elmer Fudd, is dead at age 80... Wash Post ... NY Times ... Guardian ... Telegraph ... LA Times ... A gleaming writer ... He admired Loony Tunes.
The Wright Brothers flew over the Statue of Liberty and up the Hudson in 1909, amazing millions. But soon Europe was making faster, safer aircraft... more»
Books are still the cheapest, most flexible, wash-and-wear way to transport ideas, says Umberto Eco. Computers race ahead of you; books walk with you... more»
New Thanksgiving rules: post this document within ten feet of liquor cabinets, TV sets, sofas, and relatives who can stand upright... more»
Richard Rodgers never sat at the piano for pleasure, only to compose. He had no close friends, no hobbies, no wish to travel. Broadway was his life, all of it... more»
Blame the Romantics for having misread Don Quixote as deep, solemn tragedy. This great novel, the sloppiest ever written, is sheer comedy... more»

— November 22, 1963 —
It’s a day seared into so many minds. But memories fade. Jonathan Alter remembers. So does Jack Valenti. James Perry was on the reporters’ bus in Dallas. Abraham Zapruder was there with his camera. Where were you? It was ink and tears for Richard Homan. Hugh Aynesworth was on the spot in Dealey Plaza. Documents from a dark day. Kennedy spoke to our better selves, says Ken Ringle. His legacy, writes William F. Buckley, was his sheer beauty. The aura has faded, says Christopher Hitchens, politely, and also less politely. Finally, yes, Oswald did it, and he did it alone.

Why is the U.S. pouring tax dollars into quackery and pseudoscience? We should ask bee pollen believer, Senator Tom Harkin... more»
Church-going may be a waste of useful time, but belief in heaven and hell is an indicator for economic growth. Especially hell... more»
Greece vs China: Greeks liked rivalry and competition, ancient Chinese looked for collaboration and agreement. Chinese contemplated, Greeks reasoned... more»
The U.S. now oversees a “virtual empire” – courteous, friendly, harsh, and inviting by turns. Lenin’s theory of imperialism is no help in grasping it, says Michael Walzer... more»
Efficiency is not compatible with the making of modern war. America needs vastly redundant systems and the ability to wage kinds of wars it cannot yet imagine... more»
To pull your leg is for the speaker of Italian to pull your nose. As Umberto Eco explains, exact, literal translation ensures that the reader will get the wrong message... more»
Liberalism in peril? The Left is in despair, says Brian Anderson, over the new media outlets that are swamping it on Web, in print, and on air... more»
The new American Empire for liberty will do its work with or without the UN or its old allies. The life-and-death questions it faces are not politics as usual... more»
The life cycle of a cell is amazing. The cell builds a copy of itself. Such a capacity is basic in biology but completely absent from physics. Stuart Kauffman explains... more»
Perhaps reason and logic don’t make the heart sing, says David Barash, but as guides to action, they beat their darker, danker, destructive – and sexier – alternatives... more»
The delicate physical grace of the Cambodians sits ill with the brutality of the Khmer Rouge. But sensitive Nazis wept to hear Schubert after a hard days genocide.... more»
A classic aesthetic tradition comes to be because of agreement over time. Can the statistical methods of science help us better to grasp the nature of such human achievement?... more»
E.M. Forster’s protagonists are not good readers or successful moral agents, but chaotic, irrational human beings. That is why he tells us so much of the human heart... more»
García Márquez narrates lavish and radiant inner lives and phantasmal childhood memories as if they were more concrete than reality itself... more»
Another Vietnam? In some ways the war in Iraq looks like an earlier one in Indochina. In other respects it is a rather different kind of project... more» ... more» ... more» ... more». Or is it all just a blueprint for a mess?
Evelyn Waugh knew how awful he could be, and knew he would be more awful without divine grace. What more do we need to know, when we can just read his books?... more»
The end of history, the age of the Great Yawn, now seems a vain hope. As Plato says, it’s war, not peace, that is most likely the normal state of human affairs... more»
Das Kapital is no soundbite,” said Dr. Marx, stroking his beard. “I said it then and smart people know it today: It’s the economy, stupid. It always was”... more»
The housewife that feminism saw as imprisoned in a plate-glass cage is now a beautiful goddess living a life of leisure with her rich, devoted husband... more» ... more»
The novel revels in a shared human world. Franz Kafka focuses on the deeply unshareable elements of experience. The novel did not fit him, says Zadie Smith... more»
Bureaucracies grow with no limit and no regard to promised functions. Pork-barrel dominates legislatures, tax systems are loophole systems. Public choice theory explains why... more»
Cultural Studies flourished in the 1960s and 70s. But now the golden age is past. A rueful Terry Eagleton wonders why things fell apart... more»
Chicken Little syndrome in cultural criticism: disgruntled journalist or academic cries that the humanistic sky is falling. Oh dear!... more»
Cinderella nightmares: the big white wedding remains an occasion of drama, frenzy, and potential disaster. Things can go so wrong... more»
Gregg Easterbrook’s good news about the quality of U.S. life is not matched by the stats on general happiness. Does this mean he’s wrong?... more»
Voltaire was curious enough to try gay sex, but one time only. “Once a philosopher,” he insisted, “twice a sodomite”... more»
Mummified Mao lies in state in Beijing while Chiang Kai-Shek waits in optimistic pickle in Taiwan. Who will emerge in postmortem victory?... more»
Do we need the state? But of course! Without it, crime would take over, we’d live a Hobbesian war of all against all. Oh? Are you so sure?... more»
The human form is the center of art, and the face is the most human of art subjects. A rich history surrounds portraiture... more»
The most evil political systems have been created out of high but blind ideals. Better a politics that sees all of human nature, good, bad, and ugly... more»
Alfred Kazin went with 1930s left-wing anti-Stalinists since they made Marxism seem like American pragmatism. The world moved on, but he stayed put... more»
In writing his own life’s story, García Márquez is no mild literary memoirist of psyche and libido: he is a character right out of his vivid fiction... more»
Why did Germany, one of the most cultured societies on earth, bow to gangsters? Was WWII inevitable?... more»
Richard Dawkins has the moral purity (or rigidity) of the rabid Christian. Not even for the sake of argument will he endorse what he thinks false... more»
Rodolfo Guglielmi’s ambition to be a soldier was foiled by his narrow chest. So this school dropout changed his name to Rudolph Valentino... more»
Goya’s uncanny incursions into a dark subconscious, his shocking picture of war’s horrors, remain, centuries after his death, a potent mystery... more»
Gary Larson stands among the great masters of macabre cartoon whimsy, with his perfect blend of funny ha-ha and funny peculiar... more»
Animals and infants may not wear their minds on their sleeves, but that does not mean they don’t have minds. Hey, they are just like us... more»
Elite doctors, on orders from the U.S. and the Jews, planned in 1948 to murder Josef Stalin. Or so Stalin himself imagined... more»
Ludwig Wittgenstein’s only known musical work has at last been performed. It’s only four bars long, but after all, “Whereof one cannot speak... more»
Stand on a cliff: you are free to move a few inches and plunge into the abyss. So terrifying, says Jean Paul Sartre, people hide from the fact... more»
The late Nizar Hamdoon was Iraqi envoy to the U.S. at a time of the utmost brutality in his country. Why did this seemingly humane man not quit?... more»
Good manners count, as Oscar Wilde well knew. “The world was my oyster,” he lamented, “but I used the wrong fork”... more»
Don’t botox the universe: you can find intensely beautiful wrinkles everywhere, from faces to fruit to the fabric in Renaissance paintings... more»
Patrick O Brian and C.S. Forester wrote great novels of the sea. They also told fantastic stories about themselves. They were both very good liars... more» ... more»
How can the CIA recruit skillful spies when any Hungarian headwaiter knows more languages than U.S. doctoral students in comp lit?... more»
Her grandmother committed suicide and her mother nearly murdered her with a meat cleaver. Amy Tan’s family was a bit high strung... more»
Think of air power in WWI and you think of dogfights and aces. But that first airwar pioneered not only fighters but massive strategic bombing... more»
Music presents a strange analog to the patterns of speech: the sounds of the chromatic scale are the very sounds natural languages use... more»
History does not repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme. Consider the postwar occupations of Germany and of Iraq. Allen Dulles was there... more»
Yearning makes the art world go ’round. What are the top art works still in private hands, the ones that could yet come on the market?... more»
Alexis de Tocqueville observed that Americans tended to view themselves as an entire species apart from Europe. He is more right than ever... more»
Raymond Damadian is certain that he was cheated out of a Nobel Prize for his work on MRI scanners. The Nobel Committee takes a different view... more»
A photogenic straw man gets inserted into office and a cabal of shadowy advisers dictate policy and carry out the dirty work. It’s Arnies world... more»
A resident of New Delhi puts on an Iowa accent to persuade a New Yorker to pay her credit card bill. Is this okay, or is that Indian a cyber-coolie?... more»
Leszek Kolakowski, who once called Marxist philosophy “the greatest fantasy of our century,” has been awarded the $1 million Kluge Prize... more» ... more»
Richard Pipes built U.S. policy for Reagan, but his influence in the Bush White House is small. Democracy in tribal Iraq? Pipes scoffs... more»
School needs not just to teach math, science, and reading, but also must, in Huck Finn’s term, “sivilize” young people... more»


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