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Nota Bene Archive

Philip Roth
danger + opportunity
Money makers
Roger Shattuck R.I.P.
Etiquette lessons
Pinter speech
Lead killed Beethoven
Roger Scruton
Chess discovers sex
Wikipedia liar
Koko’s nipple fetish
Lomborg on Kyoto
Staten Island Ferry
Ted Cohen on Latkes
Frida Kahlo Tequila
Good Sex Awards
Beethoven skull bits
Marlowe censored
R.A. / A.R. R.I.P.
College essay
Bad hair day?
Very old food OK
Poet murdered
Questions for Bush
Half-baked theories
Peter Drucker R.I.P.
Dalrymple on France
Chick Lit to Quit Lit
Best UK bookshop
Singing mice
Money and IQ
Album cover art
Breaking ranks
We need sex
Mullahs’ madhouse
Mrs. Khodorkovsky
On Maureen Dowd
DDT now!
Regarding Chomsky
Watson vs. Wilson
French lingerie, sigh
Arab-U.S. museum
New York Times rift
Tourist or traveler
Ba Jin R.I.P.
Aleksandr Yakovlev
Sonny Rollins
Beheading: the idea
August Wilson
Kurt Vonnegut
N.O.’s “toxic soup”
The Booker winner
Squirrel crackheads
It’s only logical...
Stoopid terrorists
Justine Lévy
Doorman science
Doctor Atomic
What @ means
E.L. Doctorow
Yankees suck
Museum of cheating
M. Scott Peck R.I.P.
Foucault and Iran
Bush in big trouble
Life with a pig
Top 100 intellectuals
Rembrandt restored
Walter Mosley
Home-churched kids
Angela’s ashes
Hitchens vs. Galloway
Hermann Bondi R.I.P.
Jack Welch on Katrina
Murdoch & Son
Kurt Vonnegut
Next fad diet
New Orleans cover-up
Sharia in Canada
Scientific sins
Philip Roth
Chernobyl toll
Barenboim hates Jews?
Homeopathic nonsense
Witty warmongers
Men, women, IQ
Meet the zeks
Textbook competition
Equal time
Oil price bet
Global warming bet
Fareed Zakaria
Christian physics!
Gossip is good for you
Your designer vagina
Buried in books
Saved by Plumpy’nut
Why people laugh
Peter Jennings R.I.P.
NYC crimebusting
Steven Vincent R.I.P.
Bush’s philosophers
Blog bites man
Garrison Keillor, and...
August Kleinzahler
Not quite passing
Tenth planet
Trees make deserts
Shankar & fille
A real hovel
War of the Worlds
How Lance is built
Danica McKellar
Alexei Sultanov R.I.P.
Fighting words
Simone de Beauvoir
Secret Lover Collection
Fish tale
Claude Simon R.I.P
Elizabeth Smart
Is London burning?
Evan Hunter R.I.P
Pot v. pet
Yak skiing
“Rainbow parties”
Death of Egolf
Nude York!
Mouse you, buddy
Idea for Los Alamos
Finkelstein v. Dershowitz
Booming in China
Peggy on Hillary
No “couch potato”
H.G. Wells
Marx the greatest?
Father’s Day
Ruse on evolution
Einstein’s brain
Carlo Maria Giulini R.I.P.
Darwin, me and the Big C
Haruki Murakami
Miracle drug?
M.J.’s hidden accuser
Loan rangers
Fiction and social gap
Jerks at work
Postmodern Brad Pitt
In love with words
Indians can spell
Follow the money!
Samir Kassir R.I.P.
Your male/female brain
“I’m Deep Throat”
What Wolfowitz faces
Femme couvrante
Forever Beethoven
Virtuous Canada!
Brand Hillary
Pulping the Koran?
Head and heart
Iris Chang
Learning English
British skinflints
Ha Jin
Iraqi soap opera
Boyd on culture
“Sorry for Yalta”
Obit writer (audio)
Grass on freedom
PBS’s dormative virtue
New York restrooms
Twinkies at 75
Douglas Feith
Jane Eyre in Georgia
Celebrate Penis Day!
John Brockman
Sick of Harvard?
List lust
Writing wives
Pre-emptive executions?
Philip Morrison R.I.P.
Flat earth...or not
Have a nice day, or else
Russian airports
Fat isn’t so deadly
Roth and Bellow
Matt Drudge
Kinsley on neocons
Sy Hersh
Hippies and rednecks
Mostly Mozart? Alas...
Farewell, Hitch
Brass vs. plastic
Where are my pants?
Brenda Starr
Royal call
Andrea Bocelli
Camille Paglia
Petulant prince
Moura Lympany R.I.P.
Einstein, the writer
Top Amazon reviewer
Archivist Weinstein
Descartes & Schiavo
Worst building
O Harvard!
D.H. Lawrence
Bobby Short
Stressful job
Frantz Fanon
Kinsley speaks up
Funny Führer
George Kennan R.I.P.
Jean-Paul Sartre
Cool pianist
Camus & Sartre
John Lukacs
Does Gödel matter?
Museum fatigue
After Rather
Hans Bethe R.I.P.
Royal schedule!
Public Interest R.I.P.
Bullshit, again
Bush misreads Camus
Chicken flu peril?
Lomborg on Kyoto
Mistaken identity
Condi’s clothes
Saving a Strad
Babe flicks flop
Butling schools
Women in physics
A big nothing
Unholy affairs
What Summers said...
Not fit to print
Evil in Lebanon
Library vs. Fidel
Ayn Rand Institute
Natan Sharansky
Royal insult
What’s next?
Galbraith v. Friedman
Bacall on Hepburn
K.A. Appiah
Max Schmeling R.I.P.
Royal sensitivity
Broken cracked
Bush’s Muse
Iraq is not Vietnam
The price of oil
Blaming Camus
The Paris Review
Pushkin’s porn?
Condi Rice, Hegelian
Tynan on Carson
Crime fighting Mozart
Bush and the Rascals
Brad and Jen
Winning Iraqi hearts?
Dear Mr. Cervantes...
Dave Barry explains
Elizabeth Janeway
Victoria de los Angeles
Trouble with Harry
Why McDonald’s?
Religious illiterates
“New” van Gogh
Sontag vs Derrida
Remembering Du Pré
Guy Davenport R.I.P.
Alexander flops
Stern’s warning
Dave Barry quits
Kicking Susan Sontag
Phantom of the Opry
Classical music lives
Sharing laughter
Britain’s Sontags?
Tsunami warnings
Campus wars
How’s Rattle doing?
Quantum quackery
Too much fa-la-la
Sarcasm needed
Slate sold
Germaine Greer
Renata Tebaldi, R.I.P.
Weblogs? Well...
Filthy fraud
Amartya Sen
Jane Austen Rulz!
Jane Austen quiz
We need Wagner
False fears
No public intellectuals
Dogs and chocolate
Junk Science Awards
Twisting history
Woody on Mickey
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Are the Democrats too ideological to win elections? Hardly: they’re not ideological enough. What do they want on Iraq, energy, trade, tax cuts, etc., except to criticize the G.O.P.?... more»
A deep desire to avoid conflict once permeated Britain. By 1932 over 10.4 million Britons favored unilateral disarmament, with fewer than a million opposed. It was the English intellectuals... more»
“We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love,” said Jonathan Swift. God forbid we should hate religion – and law should forbid it too... more»
Diplomacy is not simply the art of persuading others to accept your demands. You must demand what the world can tolerate. Still, you may need military force... more»
John Bayley’s writing shares all the central Iris Murdoch postulates, derived from Aristotle and Kant. But where she is the intellectual, he is the evasive critic... more»
In Gods atemporal view, the act of creation is simultaneous with the moment of your reading this. God doesn’t look back to creation, nor forward to your clicking on... more»
Congress for Cultural Freedom in the 1950s published magazines and held symposia that brought U.S. and foreign intellectuals into contact. A like strategy is needed today... more»
Blacks abandoned in New Orleans “turned to rape and murder.” That is what we were to expect, says Slavoj Žižek... more» ... The media lied and people died... more»
American culture has begun to mimic the chronic nostalgia of certain strains of post-imperial Englishness. Kipling, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis. Yanks do love them all... more»
What if...” Careful now. If you’re a politician and you float a thought in the antecedent of a conditional, then someone will insist you actually believe it or wish it... more»
The dauphin in the White House, 9/11, Clinton’s amours, Terri Schiavo, Cindy Sheehan. D.C. is made for farce and satire. So why cant Americans write political fiction?... more»
You doubt that Malcolm X was a paragon of humanitarianism, that gender is a construction, that Native American myth is true? Youre culturally incompetent... more»
George Orwell said it of saints, and it’s only sensible that we should say it say of celebrities: They must all be judged guilty until proven innocent... more»
A world without copyright? “Why, we would have no artistic creations, no entertainment.” Nonsense: we would have more art, and more diverse entertainment... more»
The Holocaust produced conditions for two remarkable events, says Eric Hobsbawm: the creation of Israel and the flowering of Jewish achievement in culture and public affairs... more»
Getting out of a war is a whole lot dicier than getting into one, as Nixon found out and as Bush can attest. Melvin Laird says there are better ways to do it, and worse... more»
Let’s be serious, Prof. Diamond. Does anyone care if Mayan civilization collapsed or not? Compare the Mayans with the Greeks. Now there was a civilization... more»
Journal editor to young academic: “We’ll publish your article, maybe, but you need more citations of articles from our journal. And my editorials. Just a suggestion”... more»
In Survivor, settings look pretty much the same: lots of bathing suits, and bugs, attempts to spear fish, and beach-front shack construction. And why so often the tropics?... more»
Calvin and Hobbes was such an exuberant, strange, and metaphysical realm you wonder how it ever got shoveled into a comic strip... more»
Angst entrepreneurs: the politicians, media outlets, corporations, public health officials, and environmental groups who want to keep us in a continuous state of agitation... more»
Lawrence Summers offered a few mild, speculative remarks about differences between men and women in science and math and was treated as a crank. Was he? Really?... more»
In Michel Foucault’s dark vision, all human institutions, however benign their intent, are products of a will to power. Insane asylums will always be chambers of horrors... more»
French housewives dream that their cooking will bring them happiness and love. So they cook with passion and care, “and then the family wants to go to McDonald’s”... more»
For Fisk, Pilger, Galloway, Tariq Ali and Naomi Klein, terrorism is a problem easily solved: leave Iraq, cut support for Israel, use non-oil energy. Oh, would it were so... more» ... more»
Hans Bethe felt “the most intense relief” that atomic weapons he helped develop had not been used since WWII – but horror that thousands more had been built... more»
The Authoritarian Personality. Are there large numbers of covertly “fascistic” people in the U.S.? In 1950, maybe it seemed so. Today, says Alan Wolfe, well... more»
What if Shakespeare had been born in New Jersey in 1973? As Spear Daddy, his rap would be known for its deep, nuanced ... What if Freud had been a woman? What if you could smell air? What if... more»
In taking on China, the U.S. has one extremely useful strategy: internal subversion. Oops. Max Boot meant to say, “democracy promotion” or “human rights protection”... more»
As the rare upper-middle class white man in prison, Charles Shaw found himself in an alien, self-perpetuating world of poverty, ignorance, and violence. It opened his eyes... more»
The success of a new democracy depends on the openness of a country’s economic system at the time of political transition. Economics first, politics later... more»
Grant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi this much: he is good at exposing the pitilessness on the loose in the fabled “Arab street” and the moral emptiness of official Arab life... more»
Mandarin ruling classes get rather bad press in modern democracies. But do we prefer rule by rival gangs of populists and zealots devoted to Jesus Christ or Adam Smith?... more»
Marriage was once a sacrament, then became a sacred obligation, and at last a private contract. Nietzsche saw it coming, with the family now “a random collection of individuals”... more»
The applicant had the experience he’d need as a chef: he knew how a busy kitchen works, knew the trade lingo. Plus, he even loved Hegel. And, oh yes, he was blind... more»
How does Roman Polanski, who is a fugitive from U.S. justice living in France, manage to sue an American magazine in a British court and win? Vanity Fair’s editor explains... more»
Great works of art never stay the same, says Rupert Christiansen: they ambush and outwit you. “Age cannot wither them, nor custom stale their infinite variety”... more»
Ernest Hemingway needed to destroy a friendship or a marriage every few years just to keep going. In Madrid in the 1930s he did both... more»
Mao Tse-tungs megalomania and his cruelty still have the power to shock ... LAT ... NYT... SF Chron ... CSM ... Com’try ... NYT ... CSM ... New Crit ... NPR ... Seoul Times ... Wash Times ... Time ... USAT ... Spiked ... Excerpt
Is Palestine the issue? Is it to get the U.S. out of Iraq? No: al-Qaedas origins lay in the end of the Cold War, says Faisal Devji... more»
The Victorian class system was oppressive, but can you really find an imperial subtext in Mrs. Beetons instructions for carving a turkey?... more»
Franz Liszt’s lady fans kept his hair clippings and pinned his old cigar butts to their persons. He was his age’s greatest pop star... more»
Joe Louis fought for the hopes of his own race and against the Nazis in his match against Max Schmeling. In the end, the two became friends... more»
Why did Adolphe Sax’s horn, the most important recent musical instrument, charm so many? The saxophone... more»
Eudora Welty knew the bizarre and the terrible can’t be cut apart and that given a choice between grief and nothing, she’d take grief... more»
Hinduism is the only major religion with an explicit tradition of agnosticism in it. Don’t underestimate the fact, says Amartya Sen, ... more»
Stalins ruinous trust of Hitler was a blunder shared by the western allies: all failed to see the deep ideology in German foreign policy... more»
Every child in every society creates song and dance: it’s a fundamental activity of Homo sapiens. Why and when did music evolve?... more»
Herman Obermayer and his fellow GIs paid little attention to VE-Day. They assumed they’d be sent over to the invasion of Japan... more»
While memory confirms and reinforces itself, says Tony Judt, “history contributes to the disenchantment of the world”... more»
Desperately poor Africans put up with governments that are corrupt and capricious. Does poverty make bad government, or the reverse?... more»
Helen, her arms as milky white as the egg from which she was hatched, was the last of Zeus’ children, and the most fatal... more»
Theodore Dalrymple has found a following on the sarcastic right. If anything, it is the thoughtful left that should be reading him... more»
“Have you noticed Tolstoys language?” asked Chekhov. “Enormous periods, sentences piled on each other ... It’s art, and it only comes after hard work”... more»
Will Iraq become a failed state terrorized by warlords, or maybe a future South Korea, not exactly free, but on the road to prosperity?... more»
Madame Bovarys ovaries spoke to her with urgency. She’s not the only literary character to triumph or to die by Darwinian selection... more»
Why would anybody phone a stranger on prime-time TV to ask if she should leave her boyfriend? Self-help gurus are parasites... more»
Communists went to Tibet to make the Tibetans masters in their own home and build a happy new society. That was Phünwang’s hope... more»
The rape of more than a million German women by Russians was a strictly guarded postwar taboo. Now the world knows, and knows much more... more»
Constanze came into her own after her husband died, shrewd and tireless champion of his music. She was but one of Mozarts women... more»
The campus novel is a literary genre with its own critical questions. Why are so many shifty women in these books named “Elaine”?... more»
“What do you call six hundred lawyers at the bottom of the sea?” Answer: “A good start.” Why do we get such a kick out of lawyer jokes?... more»
Officers of British India went for tiger hunting and pig-sticking. Most soldiers stayed by the usual pastimes of drinking and whoring... more»
Fewer than half of Americans today have a living memory of Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon. For them, it was a dawn, but a false one... more»
In his latest, Harold Bloom is again a lazy gardener, tossing seeds of his insights about, but not lingering to see if they sprout into thought... more»
Classical music is in its death throes, orchestras bled dry by greedy unions and greedier soloists. But was it any better fifty years ago?... more»
Fat people are fat because they are troubled. They lose weight, become troubled slim people, gain the fat back and are more troubled than ever... more»
Call me Ishmael.” This quiet, portentous sentence begins a novel whose eloquence rivals that of the Bible and of Shakespeare... more»
A society of free speech needs lively exchanges of ideas in the middle and not just loud voices from its eccentric fringe... more»
Winston Churchill spent an entire lifetime cutting corners, boasting, and imposing his monumental ego across the entire political scene... more»
There is so much explosive material in Catherine the Great’s life story that it is no surprise later czars wanted to keep a lid on it... more»
A warming earth: watch for all the monsoons, mega-droughts, freezing temps, malaria, dengue fever, and real bad allergies. So much to worry about... more»
Methuselah was onto a good idea, maybe. Can we control cell atrophy and eliminate cancer? Barring accidents, we might live forever... more»
Rosa Parks, fearless lady who refused to go to the back of the bus and changed the world, is dead at the age of 92 ... NYT ... USAT ... Wash Post ... LAT ... Montgomery Advertiser
WWI brutalized a Europe that before 1914 promised social progress. Without war neither Bolshevism nor Fascism would have taken hold... more»
Peter Paul Rubens’s feelings for women were edgy and confused. His tastes for plump nudes mask X-rated hungers for sex and violence... more»
Orgasms can kill, tight corsets cause nymphomania and, uh, never fool around sexually with a vacuum cleaner. A little friendly advice... more»
“The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits.” Milton Friedman believed it 35 years ago and still does. However... more»
The sex in Egon Schiele’s work may be intense, but it is never beautiful enough to seem erotic. Pornographic, perhaps... more» ... more»
Albert Einstein, Ashkenazi Jew and genius, wasn’t alone. So are Ashkenazis smarter than other people? Well, you know, two Jews, three opinions... more»
When Apostolos was a kid, he drifted off into the world of numbers. His tiny village in Greece was boring. Now hes taking on Google... more»
Maybe a strong belief in gods and spirits gave our ancestors comforts and advantages, says Robert Winston. But what about us?... more»
When the Khmer Rouge were finished, they had murdered, starved, and killed in forced labor a quarter of Cambodia’s population... more»
Dada: legend has it that this bizarre name was chosen in a typically Dada manner: by chance. Using a paper-knife, Hans Arp... more»
Existentialist angst promises a life that’s short, sickly, lonely, and self-obsessed. Start on the road to happiness with a good laugh... more»
Saddam’s palaces were sheer monstrosities, like the ghastly homes of Idi Amin, Mobutu, or Ceausescu. Absolute power corrupts taste, absolutely... more»
It’s tectonic violence that put fossil seashells atop Everest. An angry earth has more in store for peoples of the ever-rising Karakoram range... more»
Harold Pinter, whose plays force “entry into oppression’s closed rooms,” has won the Nobel Prize for Literature... Nobel ... AP ... Chronicle of Higher Ed ... Guardian ... London Times ... NY Times ... Telegraph ... Weekly Standard ... London Times ... Telegraph ... Washington Post ... LA Times ... Boston Globe ... Guardian ... in his own words
Ernst Gombrich wrote his Little History of the World in just six weeks. Its combination of gravity and grace evokes the man himself... more»
Wayne C. Booth, theorist of fiction in general and irony in particular, is dead at the age of 84... more» ... more» ... more» ... more»
The secular left softened up the philosophic ground with its cheap relativism and is now shocked that the right gives us intelligent design... more»
Daniel Drezner has been denied tenure by his University of Chicago department. Was his blogging a factor?... more»
Fads are so yesterday. They’re not cool. “It’s like everybody is hip now. It’s so exhausting. There’s no discovery”... more»
Hurricanes are powerful, but the mighty Mississippi is still the greatest force of nature in the New Orleans region... more»
Cherokees kept black slaves up to 1866. Then their slaves were made full citizens of the tribe. But now it’s time to divide Indian casino profits... more»
Lorenzo Da Ponte’s main fame rests with Mozart. But he got his start in Manhattan from Clement Moore, the “Night Before Christmas” poet... more»
Students who frequently use computers perform more poorly academically than those who use them rarely or not at all. And it gets worse... more»
Shostakovich subtly worked the Soviet arts system with varied messages in his music: defiant, optimistic, crushed, and despondent... more»
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the purest neocon of all?” Rice? Wolfowitz? Cheney? Perle? Kagan? Who else? Take a guess before you click... more»
Harvard wouldnt be Harvard if it admitted “too many Asians or Jews or pansies or parlor pinks or shy types or short people with big ears”... more»
Popes and preachers were once the main beneficiaries of human gullibility. These days, says Nassim Taleb, it’s stock fund managers... more»
New Orleans badly needs what one Dutch town already has: amphibious houses that float off their foundations in rising waters... more»
How did one classical scholar research his book on ancient Rome? He simply walked the streets of New York... more»
College is fraught with peril for young people. The pressure to party, drink, have sex. And all those non-Christian ideas... more»
German has but one word for “a person who leaves without paying the bill.” But Albanians need twenty-seven words for “moustache”... more»
Samizdat was once a feature of Soviet letters. It lives on in the U.S., in an odd way, on the Internet. Alex Beam explains... more»
T.E. Lawrence’s richly aromatic copy of Joyce’s Ulysses is bound in wine-red leather and gilt and includes the owners biscuit crumbs... more»
After 43 years and $568 billion in foreign aid to the continent, Africa remains trapped in economic stagnation. What’s wrong?... more»
Youthful genius goes off so fast these days. Charlotte Church once had “the voice of an angel.” Now she has the mouth of a fishwife... more»
The bestseller lists of the past fifty years are mostly a somber graveyard of dead books. Yet Don Quixote, Carlos Fuentes says, started big and stayed that way... more»
Antarctica is a red state. March of the Penguins “affirms traditional norms like monogamy, sacrifice and child rearing,” says a critic. But some of those penguins are gay... more»
“No iron can pierce the heart with such force as a period put just at the right place.” Raymond Carver above all loved precise writing... more»
Chimpanzees: the honest politicians we long for. Their world is all Hobbes and Nietzsche, says Frans de Waal. No tiresome “servant of the people” hypocrisy among the chimps... more»
There is a genuine intensity in the suffering of Frida Kahlo. Yet there is something vaguely repulsive in the adulation she receives. Victimhood, after all, is not beatitude... more»
Darwin’s Origin of Species sold out even before release, James Watson explains, with many copies going to Mudie’s Circulating Library. The book was a sensation... more»
Money doesnt buy happiness.” Oh, yeah? A strong correlation exists between the wealth of a country and its general level of happiness. But as Aristotle knew... more»
Democracy? Good governance can include many components besides democratic participation, says Francis Fukuyama. Consider the case of Singapore... more»
“Katrina proves people in trouble need big government.” That’s what Gerhard Schröder says, and he is not alone. Anne Applebaum considers the case... more»
Many American academics believe in the redistribution of wealth from the affluent to the poor. So how about from hyper-rich universities to small, struggling colleges?... more»
French intellectuals are often vain; German intellectuals are notoriously obscure; British intellectuals are merely embarrassed – these days, as much as ever... more»
Hating fat Americans is a super-size mistake, says Daniel Ben-Ami. Would it were that poor peoples in Niger or Sudan became rich too, and just as fat... more»
Elaine Showalter has twice shown up in campus novels: as sexy bohemian and as dumpy, judgmental prude. She’d rather be a luscious grape than a withered prune... more»
White academics in New York, says black academic John McWhorter, devised a plan in 1966 to bring more blacks onto welfare rolls. It was a disaster for everyone... more»
Katrina has imperceptibly come to seem the result of human agency, as if failures in planning were evidence of cause. A hurricane has been humanized, made political... more»
Che Guevaras heroic image adorns mugs, key chains, baseball caps, herbal tea, and a million T-shirts. Is this a triumph for communist politics or capitalist T-shirt makers?... more»
Europe needs a new financial regime aimed at boosting sustainable health and retirement provisions, with a levy on corporations spread across the continent... more»
For Susan Sontag, cinema was once “poetic and mysterious and erotic and moral – all at the same time.” Sadly, she came to think at the end, film’s greatness is lost... more»
Constanze Mozart: a vulgar sex kitten, a bimbo with no grasp of her husband’s incredible gifts? Such notions are wildly unfair to a remarkable woman... more»
Bump and grind: did striptease in the “pre-porn” age empower women or simply exploit them? Maybe a little of both, suggests Rachel Shteir... more»
Jesus sees a crowd about to stone an adulteress. “Stop! Whoever among you is without sin, let him cast the first stone.” An old lady at the back of the crowd picks up a huge rock... more»
Epicurus proposed “infinite worlds both like and unlike ours.” Kepler thought Jupiter inhabited, and Ben Franklin wondered about people on Mercury. Yet we still wait for E.T.... more»
The Bronx Zoo once had an exhibit called “the world’s most dangerous creature.” It was a mirror. Are we so bad, compared with other animals? David Barash wonders... more»
If the hardest thing in life is that your husband won’t pick up the dry cleaning, do you want to hang on till death do us part? “Why Im divorcedand why youre next”... more»
Darwin doesn’t explain everything that perplexes biologists. But, hey, intelligent design doesn’t even try. As putative science, it’s a straight-out hoax... more» ... more» ... more» ... more»
Till the 18th century, Scots, like other Europeans, saw distilled spirits as medicine. Then a few of them started to drink whisky for fun... more»
From Voltaire and David Hume to Robt Ingersoll and Clarence Darrow, atheism used to be on the march, religion on the back foot. Times change... more»
She was dazzled by Sartre’s brilliance as a philosopher. For Simone de Beauvoir, terms like “essence” or “contingency” worked like a diamond ring... more»
City of floods: graceful Venice has survived such calamities as fires, plagues, and war. No U.S. city has ever had to endure the like... more»
“Can something be achieved in that is worthy of the sacrifice in Iraq?” George Packer badly wants that the answer will turn out to be yes... more» ... more»
Mathilde Kschessinska: prima ballerina assoluta, mistress of Czar Nicholas II – a woman of vast skill, massive energy, and implacable willfulness... more»
If we ever find out that a basic tenet of Buddhism is shown false by science, we simply must give it up. Who said it? The Dalai Lama... more»
The FDA bans absinthe, as it is “adulterated” with wormwood. Still, U.S. customs agents will typically ignore a bottle or two in your suitcase... more»
Joakim Garff’s Kierkegaard bio has been hailed as “brilliant.” It is full of errors and passages copied from other biographers. So what?... more» ... more»
Don’t be shocked at the sad fate of the Big Easy. History is littered with “eternal” cities brought low by flood, plague, or man-made disaster... more»
Wine vocabulary gushes with allusions to fruit and flowers. Now the French have added a new adjective of disdain: Parkerisé... more»
Strom Thurmond: his politics were usually simple, but often complex. His libido made his personal life always complex... more»
Family supper combines two deep needs, for nourishment and for connection. Ritual dining together is a crucial support for family life... more»
The war on terror is eroding the founders’ ingenious system of checks and balances: empire begets an imperial president... more»
“Like Tocqueville,” writes John Lukacs, “I do not know why God chose to have mankind enter the democratic age” Make voting harder, maybe... more»
Carey McWilliams reinvented The Nation’s internal culture and managed to revive the muckraking tradition in American journalism... more»
Should we view female orgasm as an evolutionary by-product of male orgasm, a tag-along trait for the ladies? Shades of Adam’s rib... more»
Edmund Wilson: his range was astonishing, his intuition keen, his taste impeccable, his prose bold and lucid. What a critic... more» ... more»
When Iranian mullahs chose Salman Rushdie for their murderous fatwa, they knew what they were doing. Look at his newest book... more»
Asian autocrats tend to invest their graft-takings in the lands they rule. African tyrants just walk off with the money... more»
We cannot ignore religious belief systems, says Jürgen Habermas. But they must be able to see the world from other perspectives... more»
Hurricane Rita: fruit of global warming, a catastrophe we have made for ourselves. But is it, really? Why not check a few facts?... more»
“Free markets will create free societies.” It may be true in general, but it has yet to be proven for the Chinese, who still need their censors... more»
In 1992, a scruffy old Russian in shabby clothes arrived at a British embassy pulling a battered case on wheels. The former KGB archivist... more»
Robert Trivers loves the logic of evolution. Darwin gave us a geometry of time as beautiful as the geometry of space of Newton and Galileo... more»
Should local folk rebuild New Orleans as it was? Probably it is not a bad idea, says Carlin Romano. Quite possibly, it is a catastrophic one... more»
Simon Wiesenthal, a man who was relentless in his will to hunt down Nazis, is dead at the age of 96... NYT ... LAT ... Wash Post
Academic anthropology is in crisis, says Dan Sperber, who is not alarmed. “It deserves to be in crisis. It deserves to explode, let it do so”... more»
“The semicolon is ugly, ugly as a tick on a dog’s belly, I pinch them out of my prose,” says Donald Barthelme. Other writers disagree... more»
What they’re reading at the kitchen table. Home-schoolers of all stripes find common ground in superb but nearly forgotten books... more»
The honorable paparazzo: he only takes photos that stars want to see before the public. “My whole career is based on trust”... more»
Angela Merkel’s genius is to have realized that Germany is suffering from a bad case of wounded pride. And that’s not all she wants to fix... more»
However badly disordered his private life, Arthur Koestler left behind an absorbing body of work for anyone who enjoys the battle of ideas... more»
Sure, it’s naive to think that all moral beliefs are universal. But there may be an innate “moral sense” across cultures... more»
Ask what adjective goes best with “professor,” and the answer will likely be “absent-minded,” or maybenutty.” With good reason... more»
NASCAR dads are flag-waving yahoos who only like the races for the beer and the crashes. Or so left-liberal wimp Jack Burditt thought... more»
Stem cell flambé. Coming to a market near you, sooner or later: t-bone steaks grown in a chemist’s lab... more»
Extreme sports challenge our sissified, safety-first, shrink-wrapped world! Oh, do they now? Horse riding is still more dangerous... more»
Thinking the unthinkable: how about not rebuilding New Orleans? Jack Shafer makes the case... more» ... Joel Garreau adds a bit of history ... Joel Kotkin says look at Houston ... Simon Rozendaal recalls Holland, 1953
From Russia’s dark history of wars, repression, and hunger has emerged a generation of amazing, stunningly beautiful girls... more»
“How could a Negro put pen to paper,” asked Irving Howe, without some impulse to protest? For Ralph Ellison, Howe had it all wrong... more»
Olaudah Equiano’s memoir is a pillar of scholarship on slave narratives and the African diaspora. But is some of it fake?... more»
Technologies of guns, steel swords, and cannon enabled Pizzaro to conquer the Incas. But the fight was not quite so unequal... more»
America’s early history – its political divisions, economics, and moral crusades – is closely linked with evangelical religion... more»
Curry” is a generic term that Indians don’t use. In the West, it is a glorious bastard cuisine, mixing bits and pieces that come to hand... more»
“Oh, Herr Wagner, don’t you think in music the rudiment of potential infinite pain is subtly woven into the tissue of our keenest joy?”... more»
Smallpox was eradicated when doctors and later the WHO made vaccination compulsory. Such ideas no longer fit the liberal state. Yet... more»
The U.S. bears heavy costs to deal with the worlds violent backwaters, but pacifist Europe may reap the profits... more»
Michel Houellebecq goes right to his anatomical point in his new novel. Within three pages he’s up a woman’s dress... more»
Oscar Wilde discovered he was gay only after he married and fathered children. That anyway has been the accepted line... more»
In the American Revolution, King George promised freedom to any slave who fought for him against slave-owner rebels. It’s a sad story... more»
Francis Bacon, barrister, M.P., and scholar, even had time to write Shakespeares plays. Busy guy. Or was it Marlowe after all?... more»
Matisse: self-invented painter, a man who enters art history essentially from nowhere, as if by parachute... more»
General de Gaulle asked how anyone could govern a nation that had 246 kinds of cheese. His solution: be the biggest cheese. Ah, France... more»
In 1932, young Pavel Morozov denounced his own father for hoarding grain, was murdered by kulaks, and became Soviet Boy Hero. Ah, but the truth... more»
Happy, gregarious Einstein got on well with Kurt Gödel, “very solemn, serious, solitary, and distrustful of common sense”... more»
Vincent van Gogh, who loved Japanese art, might have felt a special kinship with Hokusai, who also made very little money in his lifetime... more»
North Korea lives “Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader.” Sounds pretty good. So what’s to complain about?... more»
Why did Roger Scruton, a precocious youth typical of the 1960s generation, turn against the spirit of his times with such ferocity?... more»
When an avant garde attains success it is institutionalized, routinized, and trivialized. For example, literary theory... more»
An academic philosopher in search of the quiddity of bullshit has a wide open field. “Very little work has been done on the subject”... more»
Neither Mary Wollstonecraft nor Madame de Staël ever said, “I work hard and I love hard.” But they well might have... more»
“Fiction,” Eudora Welty said, “has, and must keep, a private address.” When public events moved her, she didn’t take her own advice... more»
”The problem of Islam as a political force is an essential one for our time,” wrote Michel Foucault. Don’t start “from a position of hatred”... more»
Pinch a female cochineal insect, and blood-red dye pours out. Apply it to cloth, and the fabric will remain red for centuries... more»
Alec Guinness: deeply literate, an inspired entertainer and wit, elegant, buoyant stylist – and master of concealment... more»
“How does one work in a team and ‘help the other fellow’ when so much is fueled by envy, jealousy, and greed?” asks Michael Eisner. Gosh, Mike... more»
Translate the Bible, but don’t try to “explain” it with your translation: you’ll just trivialize its grand solemnity and epic sweep... more»
Søren Kierkegaard rebuked the Christianity of his day: rather than get rid of the whorehouse, it preferred to baptize it... more»
Christopher Hitchens is a man whose passion outruns his reason. He can be fun to read and to argue with, but... more»
Jimi Hendrix’s sexual antics and stage gimmicks, such as smashing his guitar, were too much. But, oh, his musical imagination... more»
The extraordinary Gannibal, dark star of the Enlightenment, African great-grandfather of Aleksandr Pushkin... more»
Between Orient and Occident there is a long sequence of interaction and fusion. It is a historic world Tariq Ali knows well... more»
The Tree of Life, with its vast numbers of roots and branches, living and extinct, poses the ultimate puzzle for Darwinian science... more»
In 1857 there had been rumors of something afoot in north India: conspiracies passed by chapati, of secret signals in lotus flowers... more»
When Louis XIV’s reign ended, the French were the absolute arbiters of style and taste in the world. France ruled the luxury trade... more»
“The great unmentionable evil” at the heart of our culture. Isn’t this all rather hysterical? Is religion really that awful?... more»
Farm animals are distressed by things people do not notice: hissing sounds, flapping clothes on a line, a moving piece of plastic... more»
Karl Ulrichs, a German lawyer, was the first modern European to openly declare as gay. Oscar Wilde read him... more»
Georges Braque painted, he said, so that he could hang his ideas on a nail. That nail made the whole house teeter... more»
You’re in the religion biz and you discover one day that your company’s oldest, most trusted product doesnt actually exist. What do you do?... more»
Erwin Schrödinger was moved by an aesthetic impulse toward a final beauty, the equation of all equations... more»
Soviet-era jokes tell a history: “What is Khrushchev’s hair style called?” “The harvest of 1963”... more»
It is unthinkable that the U.S. might now surrender the keystone state of the Middle East to an alliance of bin Ladenists and Baathists, says Christopher Hitchens... more»
If the U.S. is serious about making a democracy in Iraq, and attempts it under current policies, it would take two generations of soldiers fighting there. That’s 40 years... more»
The British enjoy eccentricity. Yanks, a louder race, don’t. Americans are by nature exhibitionists. Tunku Varadarajan explains a deep and persistent cultural divide... more»
Some people would be miserable without horseriding; others would wither away if they were forbidden their computers; others live to shop. Hester Lacey loves books... more»
Democracy allows that we are led by very ordinary, even ignorant, people. If they keep their stupidities to themselves, okay. President Bushs ignorance of science... more»
Dante: a postcolonial writer for an age when the Bible, you see, was a kind of “spiritual miracle diet.” Dante criticism plumbs new depths of idiocy, Helen Vendler shows... more»
It’s a dire situation, chaps. You’re outperformed by girls at school, emasculated by women at home and work, butt of endless jokes: women rule and men are fools... more»
Metal detectors at airports did not turn the U.S. into a police state. Neither will national identity cards and police cameras on every corner. Libertarians, take note... more»
More than ever, al Qaeda militants have a global, non-territorial vision of jihad. Their goal is not to liberate the Middle East but simply to combat the world order as they see it... more»
Original thinking can flourish under conditions of intellectual marginality. Conservative thought was once marginal. Now it’s mainstream, and increasingly dumbed down... more»
Should mere pundits take the rap when the administrations Iraq policy goes wrong? When their sophistic arguments helped sell and sustain it, yes... more»
“A Muslim rapist I know wanted to be a suicide bomber, having been convinced the West was rotten to the core, since it took the word of a mere woman against his”... more»
Editing is a bloody trade. But knives aren’t the exclusive property of butchers. Surgeons use them too. Blake Morrison defends editors... more»
The Frankenstein story is a central myth of modern biology, making science a sinister substitute for God the creator. No wonder Hollywood loves it... more»
Writers conferences. Creative folks coming together to talk about being creative. And getting grants. It all leaves Kay Ryan just a tad queasy... more»
Foreign aid: instead of being based on how good it made a donor nation feel, what if it were assessed by what it did for the world’s poor?... more»
Intelligent design is the latest version of religious pseudoscience, cleverly crafted by a new group of creationists to get around legal restrictions... more»
Pessimism can be a mere pose, a kind of inertia, a laziness of mind and spirit. Optimism accepts human adaptability, writes the optimistic Andrew Sullivan... more»
Einsteins moral clarity, his idea that we need a theory with a coherent view of all events, means we must reject current theoretical physics... more»
There will always be a Leningrad: the courage in the face of Hitler’s siege insures that. But there will always be a St. Petersburg too... more»
A perfect tradition of Islam will make perfect fatwas and perfect Muslims free of sin. So perfect Muslims can murder deviant Muslims. Ziauddin Sardar explains... more»
Bismarck once said that God looks after fools, drunks, children, and the U.S.A. Did God disorient Palm Beach voters in 2000, in order to push a neocon agenda?... more»
A Doll’s House, Ghosts, and Hedda Gabler: Henrik Ibsen mounted a ferocious, and very modern, attack on marriage as a source of human misery and frustration... more»
Economists take note: you do not work in a human vacuum. The economy is as much a set of social relations as a family or a religion. Virginia Postrel explains... more»
“I have felt it myself,” Freeman Dyson said. “The glitter of nuclear weapons. It is irresistible if you come to them as a scientist: an illusion of illimitable power.”... more»
Abraham Lincoln is a colossus, and the arrows his Lilliputian critics shoot at him bounce to the ground. Not even George Washington is in quite the same class... more»
The global market for Hollywood films is people raised on cartoons, TV, and Nintendo. They prefer spectacle to story, car crashes to catharsis... more»
“Europe reminds me of an old woman who, with shaking hands, frantically hides her jewelry when she sees a robber in a neighbor’s house,” says Mathias Doepfner... more»
Writers, Edmund Wilson came to think, had been corrupted by “the two great enemies of literary talent in our time: Hollywood and Henry Luce”... more»
Obese Americans these days tend to outsource attractiveness, and thinness in particular, to movie stars. Beauty still counts, but... more»
Post-internet media: more varied, more polarized, more sensational, more skeptical, says Richard Posner. So does it give us a more thoughtful public? Well... more» ... more»
The sheer rarity of uninterrupted speech makes it so arresting, says David Hare: it explains the recent revival in the fortunes of the public lecture... more»
Anonymous terrorists do that to a city: suddenly you have to act the cop – or maybe feel like the suspect. Especially if you happen to resemblea Muslim”... more»
From both a strictly Muslim and an Evangelical Christian point of view it is not each other’s religion that is perverted, but the modern world itself... more»
Breast implants for teenagers? Surgical hymen reconstruction? Rape-themed fashion collections? It’s the ugly side of beauty... more»
Is anti-Semitism a form of racism? Not really, says Paul Johnson. It is an intellectual disease: infectious, massively destructive... more»
Okay, an early withdrawal by the U.S. from Iraq would be a disaster. And on balance, the invasion has done more good for the Middle East than harm. Still, says Michael Young... more»
In a rational world, does tradition have a future? Will we one day view tradition as we view the myths of the ancients – quaint and amusing?... more»
Will Gravitys Rainbow be dated in years to come, or will it pass Ezra Pound’s test of being news that stays news? Who can tell?... more»
“If Britain is such an unwelcoming, racist place to live, why do all races continue to flock here, as they do to evil, imperialist America?” Julie Burchill asks... more» ... The U.K. has a big problem, explained here.
“It’s not natural to be a writer, it’s not natural to be an artist,” he says. Yet Julian Barnes is both and writer and an artist, quite naturally... more»
Hitler did not redress injustices of war reparations against Germany, he used them to feed his megalomania. The preachers of Islamist terror care less about dignity and more... more»
Quoth the Raven, “Oh, don’t mind me. I’m just having a cheese snack out of this can.” Little liar! Deceitful birds teach humans a thing or two... more»
He challenges French views on welfare, immigration, and tax relief, and admires Tony Blair. Why is Nicolas Sarkozy so popular in France?... more»
In the United States, explains Peter Singer, any “common farming practice” is legal, whether it’s cruel or not... more»
“Falling in love is basically a process where both sides feel they’re getting a good deal.” And evolution tells us how to assess the deal... more»
Katrina is a lesson for the U.S., says Germany’s Environment Minister. Hey, Germans, who helped you out after a war sixty years ago that you, uh, failed to prevent?... more»
Abe Zapruder, most famous of home movie buffs, gave history a priceless document, and he is not alone. Home movie makers offer us treasures... more»
We learn more about Russians from War and Peace than from any other book. But above all, this huge novel moves us by its sheer beauty... more»
The brilliant Lolita, now round and ripe at 50 years old, tells us artists can’t live in the real world as they live in the world of words... more»
Kids should not be allowed to bring birthday cakes to school. All that fat and sugar makes for heart disease. As usual, pleasure is bad for you... more»
Walter Benjamin spoke of “the thrill of acquisition.” But when all is instantly available online, the thrill is gone. Goodbye, Rock Snobs... more»
Golf features no body contact, no cheerleaders, and no car crashes, yet men still make up 80% of the golf’s TV audience. Why?... more» ... more»
Sure, true friendship between Beijing and Washington is unlikely. But their interests are so intertwined that there is no alternative to cooperation... more»
He was a virtuoso pianist who could toss off Liszt at will. Or maybe he could play only one note. The next David Helfgott? Seems not... more»
If Michel Houellebecq calls Islam “the stupidest religion in the world,” well, after all, he was drunk. It’s when he writes about sex... more»
When he was given the chance to write art criticism for The Nation, Arthur Danto felt “like Lana Turner being discovered at a soda fountain”... more»
In Finland, everyone has an equal shot at life, liberty, and happiness. Yes, this is normally supposed to be an American ideal, but... more»
Piracy has a long and brutal history. How it has been treated in law makes a useful precedent for terrorism... more»
The humanities are ruined, the universities full of crooks. Art is neglected, coddled, and buried under chatter. Camille Paglia has her say... more»
Finger lengths? Fruit flies? Gay sheep? Homosexuality is still a mystery today, but it likely won’t remain so forever... more»
Russian police may promise to crack down on hate crimes. But they routinely arrest dark-skinned people and even beat and torture them... more»
Flip that mattress! First take off the sheets and pillows. Now don’t forget to vacuum it. And a Ph.D in mathematics will help, too... more»
Where do endangered species thrive? Green German National Parks, or bombed, burned, and tank-rutted U.S. Army bases?... more»
Dog vs. machine. One can sniff, the other detect. So which makes the best tool for the war on terror?... more»
Scavengers living at the edge of Mexico City’s dump have it tough. But consider the plight of their animals... more»
Is planet earth just an Enron, an affair of dollars and cents? Carl Pope of the Sierra Club strikes out at Bjørn Lomborg... more»
NASA sends drinking water up to the Space Station for $40,000 a gallon. So what should the astronauts do? Drink their own urine? Hey, wait... more»
Walt Disney used to joke that he’d one day get rid of his small corps of animators who drew by hand. Sadly, that day has arrived... more»
Aspects of symbols that seem intuitively obvious to adults can confuse infants and young children: they conflate the real item and its symbol... more»
Your average Sunday NFL game contains more patriotic overkill than a USO show in Kuwait. What is it with sports and politics?... more»
For V.S. Naipaul the impulses of culture, civilization, and progress have always existed close to forces of paganism, religion, and disorder... more»
Henry Wright used his journal to rant with indignation, let off steam, record daily all he read and felt. Blogging circa 1844... more»
“Music is an art that touches the depth of human existence, an art that crosses all borders.” That’s not just gush: Daniel Barenboim proves it... more»
The Japanese force arrayed against the U.S. in 1945 would have created appalling carnage, were Kyushu invaded. Harry Truman had a choice... more»
Fall of the House of Saud. It can’t last much longer, and the social and economic fallout of its demise will be a calamity... more»
PBS seems unable to find its place in a world of DVDs, the web, TIVO, and iPods. Set upon from both the Left and the Right... more»
“Before Elvis,” John Lennon claimed, “there was nothing.” Oh yeah? What did Lennon know? There was blues, and country, and... more»
Right-wingers claimed Agnes Smedley was a spy for Soviet military intelligence. Others called her a tragic victim of McCarthyism... more»
William Burroughs stumbled long ago on a “cut-up method” of writing, using others’ words. He discovered sampling... more»
Men and women do not feel pain in the same way. This may mean they sometimes need different pain-relief drugs... more»
Fauxhemians: the new breed of pseudo-bohemians – hipsters trying to play cool, but with their parents paying the rent... more»
“No human testimony can have such force as to prove a miracle, and make it a just foundation for any system of religion,” said David Hume... more»
The use of “orphan works” of art and literature, works whose creators cannot be found, puts scholars at risk of violating copyright law... more»
Beethoven beats Bono. In the battle over internet downloads, the BBC has made a most remarkable discovery... more»
Hard to believe, given the grim daily news out of Iraq, but suicide bombing is still a very rare form of warfare... more»
“Look at these people! They suck each other! They eat each other’s saliva and dirt!” One way to see kissing... more»
Regime change, military action, diplomacy, and deterrence: dealing with Iran and North Korea may need them all... more»
The mental skills honed by video games are as important as the ones exercised by reading books. Yeah, maybe... more»
Duccio’s Madonna and Child is a small painting, but one with a powerful presence, perhaps the artist’s most perfect work... more» ... image
Sure, the Russians had a few German scientists. But not enough uranium for a bomb. Or so the CIA thought... more»
We read novels to be freed from solemnity, to wage merry war with the world. And as the list of things that must not be ridiculed grows, the value of literature recedes... more»
Americans have stirred more patriotic and religious values into the their culture than Europeans, but both are branches of a single civilization – just ask al-Qaeda... more»
Celebrity, John Updike wrote, is the mask that eats the face. Now it eats the brain. From Tom to Russell to Angelina to Courtney, our megastars are going megapsycho... more»
Forget about movies. “The truth is that TV, if you pick and choose, is a lot more grown-up and satisfying these days,” says David Thomson... more»
Many students who enter university come from nearly book-free homes. Many have not read a single book all the way through. Now they are to be offered book-free libraries... more»
In an era of serial war, Habermas, Rawls, and Bobbio are theorists of a perpetual peace: law and force in three parallel philosophical views of world order... more»
Lewis Libby, Richard Perle, Lynn Cheney: neocons, D.C. insiders, and novelists. What does their fiction tell us about the reality of life and power in Washington?... more»
Republicans offer “strong defense, free markets, lower taxes, smaller government and family values.” With the help of Prof. George Lakoff, the Democrats offer, well, uh... more»
Must Jews try to fit into U.S. culture, even at the cost of violating Judaism’s most sacred beliefs, or of vanishing altogether as an ethnic group?... more»
The stupid masses of America and Europe share a brutish ignorance of what is best for them. They show no gratitude toward their betters... more»
There are a lot of angry people in the world. Angry Mexicans, Africans, or Norwegians. But only Sunni radicals feel entitled to kill innocent people over their anger... more»
A name like Vernon and red hair might be a cross to bear for a lad. If your last name were Scruton, you might change your first to Roger... more»
Europe is going out of business. Let’s face it: it’s not easy to be a great power if your population is shriveling. Robert Samuelson explains... more»
Race-based medicine? We all think we know that sickle-cell anemia is a black disease. Except, says Kenan Malik, that it is not... more»
Scientific theories tell stories. They have beginnings, puzzles, solutions. For Einstein entropy is a character... more»
“Americans don’t have a sense of how the rest of the world views us,” says Robert Kagan. “We’re one of the most expansionist countries in the world. Expanding for over 400 years”... more»
American Revolution, like all major revolutions, developed missionary convictions, says Eric Hobsbawm. We see the results today in Iraq... more»
Americans should remember that not all Europeans dislike them. Whole chunks of the world have a natural affinity for the U.S. Play to it, says Anne Applebaum... more»
Robert McCrum went to bed one night fit, 42, and fully articulate. He woke up next morning semi-paralyzed, prematurely aged, and scarcely able to speak... more»
Who could lay claim to being the greatest thinker of the modern world? Marx? Surely not. Sartre? Well, if attitude counted. How about the redoubtable David Hume... more»
Perfect endings in art, whether of the open Chekhovian kind, or of the positive and closed kind, are rare and to be cherished... more»
“If men were rational in their conduct,” wrote Bertrand Russell, “intelligence would be enough to make the world almost a paradise.” It might, of course, make the world a hell... more»
Political art need not always be self-satisfied, simple-minded, and uncreative in its view of humanity. More’s the pity it so often is... more»
Does God have lower back pain too? A prostate that impinges on his urinary system? Now if he’d been a really intelligent designer... more»
Therapy for all: experts tend to pathologize and medicalize to an absurd extent normal problems of healthy children... more»
Follow Patrick OBrian’s heroes in great victories and shattering defeats, through wealth, poverty, and romance, and you come to love them. The author himself did... more»
Sexless pop: we hear the breathy voices of ingenues, the mewling of babies, shouts of teen tantrums, whines of adolescent boys. But where is real sex in music?... more»
The desire to portray great thinkers as disembodied argument machines remains a powerful force in analytic philosophy. Too powerful... more»
“It would be better if I could only stop thinking. Thoughts are the dullest things,” said Jean Paul Sartre, who still has the power to engage, and enrage... more»
In theory, the point of 12-tone music is not that dissonance is good and consonance is bad, but that they’re both irrelevant. Could this ever have been even half true?... more»
After a week in St. Petersburg, Niall Ferguson can’t seem to get that old Beatles number out of his head: Im back in the USSR... more»
When Thomas Edison invented waxed paper, it was more evidence of his genius. But many food packages seem designed rather by idiots... more»
American exceptionalism is an idea whose time has come – and gone, argues Howard Zinn. Spreading liberty is a fine idea, but... more»
Marxism, says Leszek Kolakowski, was a stupendous fantasy: at once scientific, prophetic, fantastic, utopian, and irrational – a caricature and a bogus form of religion... more»
Michel Houellebecq the only writer alive said to be a Stalinist, a Nazi, a sex maniac, and a drunk. This is the man who fell asleep during a TV interview... more»
In Brazil, Indians are not full citizens: they are legal minors, with the status of a protected species. This means they can commit murder and never face jail. On the other hand... more»
When Simone de Beauvoir died in April 1986, headlines announced, “Women, you owe her everything.” Now do you really?... more»
Beethoven’s deafness and his sad love life fuelled his creative triumph. Fine, but this doesn’t explain his unique ability to compel us to hang on his every note... more»
“No one is a mere instrument, no one a serf,” said Friedrich Schiller. Freedom was his highest ideal, achieved not with violence, but with education... more»
Liberty and responsibility really do go together, says Virginia Postrel. The more freedom we have, the more virtue in learning to make responsible choices... more»
For more than half a century, German discussions of the Third Reich have focused unremittingly on the crimes of the Nazis. But the Nazis were not the only criminals... more»
Teratoma tumors are quite natural: a dense ball of teeth, hair, and skin, a ghastly grab bag of organs like some random Frankenstein. Perhaps the ugliest thing in medicine... more»
Arthur Miller had the curse of empathy, even for the enemy. Humans justify themselves, even bad humans, and he always wanted to know how and why... more»
On the day Terry Schiavo died the unthinkable questions could for the time being remain unthought. No longer need to confront them: just back to the old positions... more»
Don Quixote shows us a new kind of terrain that came to define modernity: in it, very little is certain and much is lost... more»
“A form of reason,” wrote Pope Benedict “that can acknowledge only itself and the empirical conscience paralyzes and dismembers itself.” He meant Jacques Derrida... more» ... more»
Portrait of the artist as a young mess. Skill is out. What counts is a muddle of attitudes, theories, and press releases from hot galleries... more»
“Unhappy women! How many of them I’ve known,” writes Edmund White. “Sniffling or drinking with big reproachful eyes”... more»
Just as hypocrisy is the compliment vice pays to virtue, so, Christopher Hitchens thinks, “bipartisanship” is a smarmy tribute and parody of American diversity... more»
With Beethoven, music did not grow up, it regressed to adolescence. He was a hooligan who could reduce Schiller’s Ode to Joy to madness, bloodlust, and megalomania... more»
Hungry, terrorized children of Africa are again called upon to rescue the sagging reputations of a needy group of balding, clapped-out rock stars... more»
Imagine trying to capture on film Heidegger’s “political metaphysics of the homeland and its failed, deadly ideology of autochthonic exclusion.” Cut!... more»
Want that rebate on your appliance purchase? Easy! Simply fill out this form. There are a few requirements. And we don’t just mean your mother’s maiden name... more»
“A single verse by Rimbaud,” writes Dominique de Villepin, the new French PM, “explodes all limits, draws the eyes to other heavens.” So okay, Rimbaud, meet Rambo... more»
Mark Felt was convicted by Carter’s DOJ for illegal searches, but was pardoned by Reagan. What if Reagan had known he was Deep Throat? John Dean wonders... more»
“Atheism Lite,” seeks to negotiate a truce between religious and pagan world views. It’s feeble balderdash, argues Salman Rushdie... more»
No exit strategy. The war in Iraq stumbles along, with a revived insugency, blood-soaked streets, and no end in sight... more»
Roger Scruton: prickly patron saint of lost causes, bogeyman for the Left, he too has his sensitive side... more»
What Jeffrey Sachs wants for Africa is a massive new system of central planning. As though it doesn’t have enough... more»
Louis XIV was resplendent in satin coats with lace sleeves and gold embroidery, silk stockings, and full wigs. In Washington today... more»
Mystic India is now call-center India. Stereotypes such as these demand analysis by the likes of Amartya Sen... more»
In a standardized environment, bouncing from one Starbucks to the next, you can’t get truly lost. Too bad... more»
If God doesn’t know the future because it does not exist to be known, then his omniscience still leaves us free... more»
Old British fridges once ended up as cheap whiteware for Nigerian housewives. Then the EU discovered the ozone hole... more»
Paul Ormerod, despite being a man of the Left, is skeptical of human ability to predict and plan a better future... more»
We are all born with perfect pitch and lose it in order to learn language. Or maybe not, but what an idea... more»
Richard Feynman wrote to his dead wife, “I do adore you. Please excuse my not mailing this – but I don’t know your new address”... more»
Ippolito d’Este was spoiled quite beyond imagination, all in silk, velvet and damask. A man of the cloth circa 1540... more»
Plastic reindeer rule: if that crib in a public place has Santa and reindeer, it’s a folk display. If the crib sits alone, it’s religion... more»
For Stalin, a long war between capitalists could only be good for the Soviet Union. Hence, the Hitler pact... more»
Happiness is so complicated: after reading about it you may need a cup of tea and a scone... more»
“I am a big boy and can bear the thought of being offended,” says Hitchens. But for god’s sake, dont call him Chris... more»
Comic books to architecture, no other 20th-century figure can quite claim his culture impact: Ray Bradbury... more»
Chick Lit: girl loses boy, girl has fling with cute boss, girl gets boy back. But what will she do with him?... more»
There are some goods that have no exchange value: say, gifts to strangers. So what is their place in an economic system, however freaky?... more»
In polyphony, our minds unite voices of music. It goes for Bach fugues, Yoruba drumming, and Cuban rumbas... more»
We Canadians are “all orphans, all survivors of shipwrecks, and we carry these stories of exile and renewal within us.” Yeah, tell us about it... more»
Hans Christian Andersen did lie about his family: mother was illiterate, aunty kept a brothel, and he was born out of wedlock... more»
The Wagner operas are among the most sublime works of art ever created. But, oh, that stinking Wagner family... more»
Golfers don’t want to be better people, they want to be better golfers. Deepak Chopra should leave golf alone... more»
Military camouflage: it was Picasso who took credit for its Cubist style in the Second World War... more»
Herman Kahn: a jocular giant who chattered on about fallout shelters, megaton bombs, and the incineration of millions... more»
The Truth about Hillary fails even as pornography. It’s as arousing as hidden-camera footage from a public toilet... more»
The fall of the Roman Empire in the West has myriad possible causes, but only one really counts: the rise of the Huns... more»
Who says the oboe is not a sexy instrument? A skill with it led one woman into some extraordinary positions... more» ... more»
To say that “the Modern Age is the Jewish Age,” that “we are all, to varying degrees, Jews” is metaphorical. Still... more»
Theory has become a humdrum intellectual matter from within the humanities and a frivolous one from without... more»
Voltaire’s Candide, Newton’s theory of gravity, indeed, this very web page: all fueled by coffee... more»
D.H. Lawrence said you must have “something vicious in you” to be a writer – perhaps a splinter of ice in your heart. Imagine marrying one... more»
A good education, if you can manage to get one, will teach you to distrust modernity but not to reject it. Eva Brann might even agree... more»
Globalization, once a hip topic, was undercut by 9/11. It is now coming back as a subject of more sober reflection... more»
The American people, through a reproductive free market, are collectively deciding how many of them there should be... more»
Imagine the military uses of invisibility, levitation, walking through walls, and killing goats just by staring at them... more»
“What did one know of him? He gave nothing away.” Eric Hobsbawm does give part of himself away. Not always the best part... more»
Henry Sidgwick spent his life on one of philosophy’s most difficult problems: how can we be happy and at the same time pursue fairness?... more»
Sure, Billie Holiday’s voice cracked in her last years and she lost buoyancy. But she was down to the true core of her art... more»
Is it possible to be both a man of science and a man of God? Yes, though it does not follow that people will be convinced by what you say... more»
Darlin Cromer, a white woman, kidnapped and strangled a 5-year-old black boy, hoping to ignite a race war. Was she mad? Seems not... more»
Christians on the socialist Left are unhappy to see a theology tailored to the booming markets in avarice, pride, and fear... more»
By the middle of this century, we may be as blasé about genetically modified humans as we are about pierced ears... more»
Who was Jane Austen? Prig or rebel, Tory or Jacobin, the woman remains opaque. Yet readers feel a bond... more»
Oppenheimer was brought down by puny men with sordid motives. But he made bad political choices and then tried to obscure them... more»
North Korea is a bizarre mish-mash of Stalin, Confucius, ultra-nationalism, and hyper-elitism of the ruling class... more»
Can we travel in time? Is oil not a fossil fuel? Human evolution a fluke? Maybe cancer is an infectious disease. Calling all skeptics... more»
P.T. Barnum made a buck or two exhibiting the monkey-fish and other odd creatures. And he did not yet have TV or the genetics of tomorrow... more»
Mrs. Mortimer, Victorian lady, had stern views of foreign nations, such as the clumsiest people in Europe... more»
Jung Chang and Jon Halliday tear away the masks and lies to reveal the true face of Mao: one of the great monsters of the 20th century... more»
“Hitler and his generals are not so foolish as to start a two-front war,” Stalin said. “Hitler would never risk it”... more»
Isidor Rabi called him an enemy of humanity; he captivated Ronald Reagan. Between the two extremes stood the real Edward Teller... more»
Religion is the key to history, Lord Acton wrote. But in some parts today, it’s more like the skunk at the garden party... more»
Physicist Erwin Schrödinger was, whether cat lover or not, a muddled, cowardly, and self-deluding human being... more»
To think that Beluga caviar was once dismissed as fodder for poor folk, pigs and cats, or tossed in the garbage... more»
Most utopias map an odorless, antiseptic future, intolerably streamlined and sensible, with splendid plumbing... more»
The African diplomat was blunt: after five centuries of colonialism, he’d adopted the suit and tie. He was not about to give them up... more»
For your typical young British writer/intellectual it’s deeply shameful to confess that you love Starbucks... more»
Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois: one man pragmatic and controlling, the other principled and solitary... more»
In his dingy little “writing hut,” Roald Dahl kept candies and bottled bits of his lower spine. Kids love it. Their parents don’t... more»
Liberté, Fraternité, Morosité: the French used to worry about the Americans, says Geoffrey Wheatcroft. Now they worry about France... more»
Restaurants can be ranked, so there must somewhere be a fifty best restaurants. But how could 14 of them be in England?... more» ... more»
“They rejoice in the bounty provided by Allah. Martyrs glory in the fact that they have no fear, nor have they cause to grieve”... more»
Jean-Paul Sartre agonized over every word, in order to achieve a synthesis of lapidary plainness and semantic depth... more»
Newspapers have been shut down, books banned, editors jailed, scholars threatened: it’s todays China... more» ... more»
Creationist beliefs are deeply rooted and very comforting. That’s why so many people feel compelled to discredit Darwin... more»
Reliance on evenhanded, fair dealing lies at the heart of American capitalism. But when it comes to commerce on the web... more»
Intuitively mass seems to be easy to grasp. For physicists, mass remains a mystery, perhaps the deepest of all... more»
Dieting almost always fails long-term, about 90 to 95% of the time. Diets leave you with both fat and a personal sense of failure... more»
Women artists and writers are all around us, yet when it comes to winning prizes in fiction, art, and music, they still fare poorly. Why?... more»
It is a sad but bitter truth: Africa, far from simply needing cash, is choking on aid money... more» ... more»
John Carey’s books treat their subjects in an unpretentious, humane, and fiercely intelligent idiom... more»
“Back in the Middle East,” Abdul said, “they only show you what they want about the U.S.” Now Abdul is in Michigan... more»
Oriana Fallaci faces jail. In her mid-70s, stricken with cancer, she has dared to vilify a certain religion... more»
When Viagra salesman Jamie Reidy wrote a book about selling the drug, he was fired. He told the company to develop a sense of humor pill... more»
Mark Helprin is a classicist. He actually believes in history, tradition, and the eternal verities passed down to us... more»
Shelby Foote, historian of the old South, is dead at the age of 88... more» ... more» ... more» ... more» ... more»
So how does Zarina manage to communicate with the dead? “Well, it’s through my spirit guide, Chief Running Wolf.” Oh that’s how... more»
Iranians of all political stripes say that no deal will stop them from enriching uranium, and it would be foolish not to believe them... more»
Abstract Expressionism was in a way embarrassed by success. Pop Art had no worries in that regard... more»
Sitting in a circle drumming away: it was once how men were to get in touch with their inner masculine... more»
The shocking thing about Chinas nuclear arsenal is that it is about the same size that it was a decade ago... more»
Today we live in a historical moment just as far-reaching as the Industrial Revolution: the Marriage Revolution... more»
Victims suffer from tremors, sleep loss, headaches, and “Lichtenberg figures.” An exotic disease? No, just struck by lightning... more»
Jeff Koons made banality blue chip, pornography avant-garde, and kitsch into trophy art. And he made money... more»
Constants of the universe are a tantalizing mystery. Why do they exist at all? They pose physics’s grandest question... more»
Blogging in China? Careful about those subject lines. You don’t want to write “Tibet,” or “Falun Gong,” or... more»
Intellectuals love Kurt Gödel. The trouble is, says Rebecca Goldstein, they take him 180 degrees in the wrong direction... more»
Comic strips often stay in their originators’ families. The craft of cartooning makes it rather like a medieval guild... more»
Roosevelt made a martini for Stalin, apologizing for the lack of a twist. The next morning Stalin had a full-grown lemon tree flown in... more»
The glaciers of the Alps have shrunk to almost nothing ten times since the last Ice Age, say researchers. Hannibal never even saw them... more»
Some art forgers try to enter the “soul and mind of the artist.” Succeed or not, they can become very rich... more»
When Khomeini took over in Iran, no one welcomed the new power of radical Islam with such portentous lyricism as Michel Foucault... more» ... more»
Students, here’s how to get to the top of the class: study, study, study. And if that doesn’t work, then sue... more»
“What if Nietzsche (or Poe, or whoever) had taken Prozac?” Praise anti-depressants and sooner or later you’re asked the question... more»
The American Black and Scots cultures are an ocean apart. But in Gaelic psalms and gospel singing they achieved a fusion... more»
To be a young Mozart today is nothing like the 18th-century: “Then the market demanded such a talent; now, the market is hostile”... more»
Geeky teen Joel Clark, fingers flying over the keyboard, sits at his computer and goes for the kill. This is no video game... more»
You are what you eat, and that includes your brain. So what then is the ultimate mastermind diet?... more»
Fortune cookies must present ten-word sentences that are both precise and vague at the same time. Someone has to write them... more»
“The couple in the waiting room looked up at me. It was awkward. They were there to buy sperm, I was there to sell it”... more»
Let’s face it: if you are paying $28,000 a year for university study, you deserve to get all As. To be given a B is to be slapped in the face... more»
“Nobody ever saw a dog make a fair and deliberate exchange of one bone for another,” wrote Adam Smith. But capuchin monkeys... more»
The 14-volt power grid from your car’s battery is giving way to a new 42-volt grid. We are at the start of an electrical revolution... more»
Not one business founded in France in the past 40 years has broken into the ranks of the 25 biggest French concerns, while in the U.S... more»
China has been preoccupied in the 20th century with a sense of weakness, insecurity, and humiliation – feelings it must overcome... more»
Can everyday rudeness be seen as putting us on a road to Auschwitz? Some memorial museums want to make such connections... more»
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau: “It is not good to be 80. I did not like being 70, and I like being 80 even less. It is the start of the final episode”... more»
When Charles Dickens and Hans Christian Andersen met, they delighted in each other’s company. But things soured... more»
Liberal parents who tolerate sex, drugs, and rock are hard to shock. Here’s an idea: why not become a Neo-Nazi?... more»
Many on the Left now think that after years of relying on courts to expand legal rights, it’s time to go to the court of public opinion... more»
What made hunter-gatherers into such effective participants in the market society? It’s the ability to calculate and to act in reciprocity, says Paul Seabright.. more»
Getting the NY Times to explain social class in America is like giving your parents exclusive license to explain sex to you: too many deep conflicts prevent a reliable account... more»
Low self-esteem among girls is a big problem, says the Girl Scouts. The solution: “Uniquely ME!” tells girls of their own “amazing” specialness. Plus, the “Me-O-Meter”... more»
Inheritance tax has been the most progressive part of the U.S. tax system: the wealthy few, if they won’t give their money to charity, cannot pass all of it to their heirs... more»
Freedom from complete disaster was the standard for a good concert a century ago. Thanks to sound recording, perfection is now the standard. Is music better off?... more»
Karl Marx’s lost Manifesto for the age of the iPod and the second home has recently been recovered. The class struggle is over. You won. David Brooks explains... more»
Eastern Europe could not be saved with diplomacy, and military action was inconceivable, says Arthur Schlesinger Jr. This was what FDR faced at Yalta... more»
What is the least damaging way to tax the media and entertainment industry? But wait. Why not find the most damaging way? P.J. ORourke has some advice... more»
Individualism animates the west, now more than ever, says Martin Jacques. But Japan is a dense lattice-work of obligations in family, workplace, school, and community... more»
As the fog of literary theory begins to lift, we can more clearly see that novelists actually show us human reality, says Morris Dickstein... more»
A continuously renewing society needs to foster innovative, versatile, and self-renewing men and women. For Keith Thompson that means leaving the Left behind... more»
The creationists are at it again in Kansas, and Richard Dawkins has a word or two for them. Creationism, after all, is God’s gift to the ignorant... more»
“You get arts journalists together these days,” says Doug McLennan, “and it’s what they talk about: their declining influence.” Is criticism on a slide?... more»
The preening, orotund pomposity of your typical U.S. senator is no match for the feisty, uniquely repellent George Galloway, M.P.... more» ... So who is this Galloway chap?
Rock music is so “antithetical to the Christian concept of redemption and freedom” must be excluded from the Church “on principle,” Pope Benedict once wrote... more»
“He was a strange and great human being,” said Goethe. “Every week he was a new man, each more perfect than the last.” Friedrich Schiller is a new man still... more»
Many who will never read George Eliot are now familiar with a version – or a dilution – of Middlemarch by way of television. How bad is this?... more»
“It is not moral absolutism,” writes Norman Mailer, “but theological relativism we would do well to explore if our real need is for a God with whom we can engage our lives”... more»
Chess was once linked with the cold war and the Soviet Union’s giant investment in the game. That sense of menace is now gone, and with it a certain fascination... more»
If a prisoner has gold teeth, he’s a drug dealer, if he’s reading Wittgenstein, he’s in for fraud. Now literary fraud is rather different... more»
When the cannons roar the muses are silent: war and art cannot coexist. Oh, really? Consider art born against a backdrop of anti-aircraft fire in World War II... more»
Jared Diamond’s rhetoric of risk and collapse does not convince:he gives only one side of the balance sheet, ignoring the human benefits that go with environmental damage... more»
Should the Runaway Bride pay for the time wasted by police searching for her? But those hours of police time were wasted before she broke any law... more»
Deliver us from Wal-Mart. The Lord rebukes “those who defraud laborers of their wages” as well as those who “failed to pay the workmen who mowed the fields”... more»
A polarized electorate? That’s what many observers would say of U.S. voters after the election of 2004. Alan Wolfe is not sure the differences are all so deep... more»
The Germans at least learned a thing or two from the Second World War. The British, on the other hand, still prefer to wallow in triumphalism. Time for them to grow up... more»
Star Wars movies: Post-hippie, pre-New Age, a bathetic mix of teddy bear warriors and a Muppet Zen master, plus the kitschiest pseudo-revelation in modern cinema... more»
Try these fun hoaxes! Order chili in a restaurant and when served angrily complain that there is no human finger in your chili, despite the fact that you asked for one. Or... more»
The media treat the Vatican as an alluring postage-stamp monarchy, a mini-Monaco with nice old chaps in splendid regalia. We should think a little deeper... more»
More French collaborated with the Germans than resisted in the 1940s. But quiet, please. Don’t contradict the lovely legends of World War II... more»
Of all murderers, observes P.D. James, the secret poisoner has always been regarded with particular abhorrence... more»
John Carey: the rare academic critic who writes shrewdly and wittily on books and ideas. His favorite tool might be called Occam’s Machete... more»
For Søren Kierkegaard each person was engaged in an individual quest for truth in the stages along life’s way... more»
Christopher Hitchens writes with an elegiac sense that we come after a line of political and literary giants. We won’t see their kind again... more»
Spitting on traditional social rules may win an intellectual his bohemian spurs. So is this what unskilled workers and welfare recipients need?... more»
History of ideas has a history of its own, and it is not long. It begins with Francis Bacon... more»
A history of barbed wire may well be all about “structures of power and violence.” But then again, so may be a history of shoelaces... more»
Ought English departments to be abolished? A recent guide to literary theory makes the notion rather appealing to one critic... more»
God’s handiwork it may be, but who really likes the dark of night except vampires and people with sensitive retinas?... more»
Does time in the end defeat our attempts to fix reality, facts? Maybe, but Simon Blackburn is not yet ready to ditch the idea of truth... more»
Can all stories, from the Epic of Gilgamesh to Hamlet to Red Riding Hood and Lord of the Rings, be reduced to seven basic plots? Likely not... more»
Consumerism to its critics means the foolish masses are not using their money to buy the gloomy, learned books that those critics write... more»
Sloth is not a word much used nowadays: people are lazy or indolent or a total slacker. But if sin still exists, so does sloth... more»
If Russia were ever to solve its problems, three groups would suffer most: corrupt traffic cops, oligarchs, and satirists... more»
Tackling the pro-pimp lobby. Can Catharine MacKinnon fight inequality by controlling men’s fantasy lives?... more»
Dashing, leaping, pratfalling, catapulting, being flattened by bullies. Or taking a motion picture camera apart. Buster Keaton could do it all... more»
A German Shakespeare, Dante, and Pushkin rolled into one, Goethe is a randy iconoclast, a pure spirit who made language dance... more»
The modern European family system is based at its core on romantic freedom. Is this idea bound to spread across the world?... more»
The contemptuousness of Thomas Frank’s analysis of gullible red-state voters does not make it wrong. They may well be “deranged”... more»
Plan as you may, prepare to be disappointed: there is an iron law of failure which governs all human effort... more»
From the political low of Suez in 1956 to the aesthetic high of the Beatles, 1960s Britain at last figured out how to enjoy life... more»
“Germany, Faithful Friend of the Soviet Union.” That’s what Russian soldiers had been told, so they mothballed their tanks and howitzers... more»
Tallulah Bankhead: a star more than an actress, a personality more than a star, a celebrity almost before the idea existed... more»
Hollywood and New York are fading as creative capitals of the world. The action’s moving to Sydney, Dublin, and maybe even Tallinn, Estonia... more»
Is homework worth it? Maybe kids who fire up video games when they come home from school will end up just as smart. Or smarter... more»
“The writer must not allow himself to be transformed by institutions.” Jean-Paul Sartre really meant it, and turned down the Nobel Prize... more»
Sleeping with the enemy is not womens biggest problem; it’s getting the enemy to take out the trash and do the laundry and dishes... more»
Umberto Eco made his name and fortune as thinking man to the masses. Not that you’d understand what he rattles on about most of the time... more»
Suppose they invent a drug that enables your child to learn to play piano quickly and easily. Would you give your kid the piano pill?... more»
James Dean was lucky, dying before he could fail, before he lost his hair or his boyish figure, before he grew up... more»
Imagine being a movie star all your life, and barely as a matter of choice. Could be a vastly annoying prospect... more»
Gerhard Schröders political death, says Charles Hawley, will force some warm air on frozen relations between the U.S. and Germany... more»
Mathematicians move around in a reality parallel to the rest of us: they see numbers where we see words, equations where we see poetry... more»
Philosopher Paul Ricoeur, who wrote about metaphor, time, and the best way to live, is dead at age 92... more» ... more» ... more» ... more»
Lucian Freud’s pitiless view of a tangled armpit, of pubic hair and raw genitalia, sits oddly alongside his bashfulness... more»
“The net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” The Chinese government is doing a great job of disproving this theory... more»
EuroDisney, Freedom Fries – how much worse can U.S./E.U. relations get? Well, how ’bout Google digitizes the libraries of Europe... more»
Kick first, ask questions later: martial arts films were once seen as a minor diversion. Today they are much more... more»
In baseball, “It ain’t over till it’s over,” but it will end, later or sooner. In mathematics things aren’t so simple... more»
The first Godzilla showed up in Flammarion’s 1886 Earth history: an Iguanodon taking his lunch from the fifth floor of a Paris apartment... more»
After years of AIDS fear, life is less inhibited. Syphilis is up by 400% in the past five years in NYC. Gay men account for virtually all the rise... more»
“Women and men are set to become more alike in today’s liberated, unisex world.” What codswallop! Let’s read a little fiction with David Sexton... more»
Its brutal, the poetry world. Corruption, back stabbing, fraud – much of it exposed by a chipper and rather dangerous librarian... more»
Will the 21st century end up smokeless? Will smoking be re-glamorized as the bad habit of a few criminal holdouts?... more»
Rudeness among the young is now endemic in Japan. Why, they cross their legs on the subway and even eat in public. As for umbrellas... more»
Britons consume online music in a big way. But why are only 4% of the downloads initiated by women?... more»
Einstein’s E=mc2 is like all great equations: it’s a magic trick. You start with one thing and then transform it into something quite different... more»
What distinguishes “a clump of cells in a petri dish” from “early human life”? You might ask a scientist – or perhaps a novelist... more»
Nature vs. nurture, women vs. men, Summers vs. his faculty. And now to debate the issues face to face, Steven Pinker vs. Elizabeth Spelke... more»
What with the internet and all, fewer newspapers are being bought by folks. Fools! Don’t they realize that you cant swat a fly with a computer?... more»
He’s either a plain-spoken man who is right for the U.N. or a bad choice at the wrong time. John Bolton is one or the other... more»
The posterior hippocampi of the brains of average London cabbies grow the more years they clock up on the job. As for Tibetan monks... more»
They began as “chow-chows” for Chinese laborers. Today there are three times as many Chinese restaurants in the U.S. as McDonald’s outlets... more»
World War II had an enormous influence on the place of technology in our lives, from air travel to microwave ovens... more»
Most conspiracy theories rely on eyewitness testimony. Take for instance that fluffy white dog sitting next to JFK when he was shot... more»
The Flynn Effect: human beings are genetically the same stock as ever, but across the earth IQs have been rising for a hundred years... more»
In the sweatshops of Africa and Asia, workers toil for meager pay to sew clothes for the rest of us. Better than whoring or picking garbage, perhaps, except... more»
“I don’t worry about right-wingers on AM radio,” says Garrison Keillor. Their audience is stuck in rush-hour traffic, and hating liberals is not as bad as road rage... more»
A tolerance for eccentricity and a sharp sense of irony were once deep features of the British character. No longer: today Britain prefers utopian dreams... more»
As the government TV newsman was reporting the Ukraine election victory of Pres. Yanukovych, the deaf signer in the corner of the screen told another story: “It’s all lies”... more»
A glint of light on a barbed wire fence, the synchronized turn of a flock of starlings, or a dark moon can knock you across the room when described by Annie Dillard... more»
Thirty years after the war, Vietnam has never acknowledged the exodus of a million Vietnamese, the “boat people,” says Pham Thi Hoài. It is as if they are excommunicated... more»
There are as many Second World Wars as there are countries that fought in it. In these matters, history tends to get buried in mythology, argues Adam Krzeminski... more»
Hans Christian Andersen created a world that had no inanimate objects. Every pebble and weed, every scab on a stone fence was alive, writes Harold Bloom... more»
For Antoine Saint-Exupéry, flying at night, each tiny light on the ground was a sign of consciousness: “the flame of the poet, the teacher, or the carpenter”... more»
“Enlightenment is man’s leaving his self-caused immaturity,” Kant wrote in 1784. The perfect literary exemplar of this ideal was Don Quixote... more»
Redneck culture is a major handicap for all who absorb it. Liberals don’t celebrate its white exponents. Nor, says Thomas Sowell, should they celebrate black rednecks... more»
With its ancient coins, astrolabes, sea shells, library, and exploration chronicles, what does the British Museum’s oldest room have to do with Liberace?... more»
Capitalism has not destroyed the legacy of Bertholt Brecht. For that we can thank the hagiographic, banal, and fussily philological books and articles of academics... more»
Savor that extra croissant, pour that fourth glass of wine. Mother Nature doesn’t want you thin as a rail. She wants you like that nice Mr. Brooks: just a little bit plump... more»
As Aristotle might say, sex should be pursued with the right person, for the right reason, at the right time, in the right way, and to the right degree. Can this be lust?... more»
There was no good military reason to destroy Dresden and Hiroshima and incinerate 100,000 souls. The motive for these unspeakable raids was to teach Stalin a lesson... more»
Susan Sontag, Johnny Carson, Saul Bellow, Hunter Thompson, George Kennan, Philip Johnson, Prince Rainier, Andrea Dworkin, the Pope: a vintage year for obituary writers... more»
The population depletion of Europe along with Muslim immigration makes a big problem for Christianity. Maybe a certain former cardinal has a way to deal with it... more»
From “Thank God!” to “Oh my God!” reactions to Pope Benedict XVI are rolling in from all over ... Andrew Sullivan ... Michael Novak ... E.J. Dionne ... Jack Miles ... Charles Moore ... Daniel Johnson ... Andrew Brown ... Julian Baggini ... Charlotte Hays ... Paul Vallely ... Anne Applebaum ... Derrick Jackson ... Catherine Pepinster ... Ruth Gledhill ... Kenneth Woodward ... Roger Kimball ... Stephen Bainbridge ... Amy Sullivan ... John Haldane ... John Cornwall ... Gerard Baker ... Richard Cohen ... Timothy Garton Ash ... Frank Brennan ... Michael Walsh ... Peggy Noonan ... Peter Schwarz ... Daniel Henninger ... Philip Lawler ... Joseph Bottum ... German roundup ... Ratzinger in WWII
Once an Internet leader, the United States has fallen far behind Japan and other Asian states in deploying broadband. This lag will cost it dearly... more»
Until the link between women and child rearing breaks down, neither corporate boards nor the MIT math faculty are likely to see numerical parity between men and women... more»
Russians don’t really want to return to Stalinism, says Roy Medvedev. But Stalin remains for Russians a sad focus of lost glory and pride... more»
Bauhaus intended to supply simple, cheap, mass-produced shelter for wretched proletarians stuck in 1920s rat-infested tenements. Is this an architecture we still need?... more»
Literature now competes with an enormous array of electronic media. Bad news for reading and for books, says Dana Gioia... more»
Humanity owes Gorbachev a vast debt, says Eric Hobsbawm. “All the same, if I were a Russian I would also think of him as the man who brought ruin to his country”... more» ... more»
Legalized abortion was the single biggest factor in ending the crime wave of the 1980s, controlling crime before the crims even reached the cradle... more»
From Pushkin to Dostoyevsky to Brodsky, the scolds and prophets of the Russian intelligentsia have always seemed almost at their last gasp. Almost, but... more»
Anti-Americanism is a family quarrel, as far as France is concerned. How hard for France, now a much smaller power, to accept without gritting its teeth the triumph of America... more»
Gay marriage may be the current hot-button topic, but more basic are questions about love, sexuality, and family in a free society. Do we even need marriage?... more»
Saul Bellow’s best America would be a Times Square version of a German university, with intellectual rigor on one side and scrambling freedom – sex included – on the other... more» ... more» ... more»
“Let’s be clear,” sighs Aime Guibert, amidst a damp row of Bordeaux vines, “wine is dead.” Tell it to a vigneron of the Napa Valley, Australia, or New Zealand... more»
Dickens’s Mr. Podsnap fretted about bringing a blush to the cheek of a young person. Podsnappery, U.S. style? Not printing the title of Harry Frankfurt’s On Bullshit... more»
Anton Chekhov felt there was “more love for mankind in electricity and steam than in chastity and abstinence from meat.” He meant Leo Tolstoy. Two different writers... more»
How do you bring coherence to a pragmatic, cautious, and moralistic political left? Begin by stressing the critical value of equality, says Michael Walzer... more»
Nostalgia goes back a long way, says Roger Sandall, 10,000 years, in fact. People have been looking back at a better past for as long as there’s been a past to look back at... more»
Showman, playwright, philosopher, mystic: Karol Jozef Wojtyla was a towering force of humanistic and spiritual thought who compelled a noisy world to pay attention... more»
From Aristotle to Bernard Shaw and beyond, they were always there. Now they’ve disappeared. We have major playwrights but no major drama critics... more»
Has a rational, enlightened Europe figured things out, once and for all? Can people live content in a paradise of material pursuit? Nicolas Sarkozy has his doubts... more»
What do Americans want? Freedom, say conservatives. Liberals will not win the debate, or the next election, by trying to change the subject, argues William Galston... more»
No sooner does it seem that the novel is safely dead than someone comes along and flogs the poor old horse to life again. Holding the whip: Michel Houellebecq... more»
Since anyone can write a weblog, why is the blogosphere so heavy with white guys? Steven Levy worries... more» ... So does Heather Mac Donald.
There were 7,258 multinationals in 1969. By 2000, there were 63,000, with 80% of the world’s industrial output. And that’s just for starters, says Peter Drucker... more»
In the film Iris, he came off as befuddled and cuddly. But the furry paws of the real John Bayley hide the sharpest of talons... more»
Steven Levitt aims to show us the freakish truth about the way the world actually is, whether we like it or not... more»
The Butcher of Amritsar. Gen. Dyer wanted to shoot a few hundred unarmed civilians in 1919, and he needed the right troops for the job... more»
Young men attracted to the excitement of being a part of a select fugitive family, seeking adventure, purpose. Perfect chaps for al Qaeda... more»
Semi-capitalist China will not replay Soviet censorship, but free spirits in China are still short of enjoying free speech. Witness Mo Yan... more»
No matter how intelligent the students, generous the salary, lovely the setting, or light the teaching load, academics are always unhappy... more»
Every loopy idea he ever had has been vindicated. Maybe Einsteins biggest gamble, his repudiation of quantum theory, will be too... more»
Not just an intellectual, Josef Stalin was a compulsive editor who corrected for style and grammar any manuscript that crossed his desk... more»
Jared Diamond seems to think that the entire planet is headed for a Malthusian crisis. But is this view defensible?... more»
Russians once ruled half the world. Today their economy is still slightly larger than that of Los Angeles County... more»
Ludwig Wittgenstein scorned the science of aesthetics, but still thought philosophy ought only to be written as a form of poetry... more»
Salvador Dalí’s paintings show his feeling for a crust of bread, the soft light of dawn or dusk, the brilliant sun of a summer afternoon... more»
Poet Jorie Graham’s resumé is impressive, but her kudos were not bestowed by Apollo: they were handed out by regular old human beings... more»
Lit professors routinely assure us they “love language,” but only the rarest of them prove it by their own writing. Camille Paglia is one who can... more»
Schoenberg hoped the 12-tone row would keep German music dominant for another century. How wrong he was, writes Richard Taruskin... more»
Soccer fandom can be an outlet for values forbidden by polite society. It’s a perfectly healthy safety valve... more»
Abolitionist visionary, a man who saw feminism before its time, eloquent speaker, and also violent terrorist. Weird John Brown... more»
Horrifying. Thomas Friedman is let loose to ruminate for 500 pages on the theme of flatness. Like letting a chimp loose in the NORAD control room... more»
Lisbon, Warsaw, and Naples vie for the title of grimmest city in Europe. But they’ll never match Istanbul, says Orhan Pamuk... more» ... more»
“Come writers and critics who prophesize with your pen,” urged Bob Dylan in Times They Are A-Changin’. They came, and keep coming... more»
South Park is a vulgar, coarse, and fully offensive television program. So why are so many political conservatives tuning into it?... more»
Movie out of focus, image dingy in that new multiplex? If you complain, they’ll insist they are fine and you need glasses. Liars... more»
Can Western democracies live without “the transcendent moral reference points for ordering public life that Christianity offers?”... more»
The Noodle Maker, like The Master and Margarita, uses wild imagination, man’s most subversive tool, to undress political repression... more»
When the U.S. invaded Iraq its popularity dropped everywhere except in France, where it was already so low it could fall no further... more»
If you’re the Times food critic, the restaurant treats you like royalty, of course. If you’re an English teacher from Saginaw... more»
Teller and Oppenheimer: two men, both of them insecure, cruel, hungry for power, and holding the world’s future in their hands... more»
America likes to talk about family values. Europe doesnt just talk: it uses tax monies to pay for family values... more»
Do you secretly desire some Hollywood heartthrob? Sure, you’re a pitiable creep, but there are people even more pathetic than you... more»
No city has burned in nuclear fire since Japan in 1945. This would have come as a surprise to Robert Oppenheimer... more»
Actresses and whores: it seems we’re ambivalent not just about prostitutes, but theatre and film workers, too... more»
Samuel Johnson hated slavery and so despised Americans. “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes?”... more»
“Studying Ronald Reagan is not for the faint-hearted – or the untenured.” Gil Troy knows the rewards, and the dangers... more»
Literary works are never fully intelligible in themselves. They belong to a global literary space, subject to its rivalries... more»
Far from advancing materialist tyranny, neurobiology is now starting to provide us with a deeper grasp of what human freedom is about... more»
Not easy to stomach someone who sees herself as the red-hot center of the universe, even if she is so smart, and ever so fetching. Jane Fonda... more»
America’s messianic impulses may look a danger. But they were rather convenient for Europe in the Nazi era... more»
Globalization’s first phases, out of Europe and the U.S., now end. The next, driven by every color of the human rainbow, is upon us... more»
Disappointed Democrats might try to find a winning election strategy. Or they can turn to therapy, psychobabble disguised as politics... more»
An indomitable belief in the value of freedom sustained Natan Sharansky during his long years in captivity. It still does... more»
France, but not England, had a revolution in 1848. The French, you see, read Racine, while the English read Shakespeare... more»
The Public Interest is closing, and founders Irving Kristol and Nathan Glazer reflect on the magazine that spawned the neocons... more» ... more»
David Horowitz: single-minded, feisty, and like many a prof, a man who loves to lecture. He wants open universities for people like himself... more»
Fewer than one in ten climate scientists thinks climate change is caused mainly by humans. Huh? Where’d you read that? Not in Science, not in Nature... more»
Michael Ruse believes those who now reject Darwinism will accept it when they realize it doesn’t threaten their social and spiritual values... more»
Vaudeville’s ghost haunts the television screen to this day. Vaudeville may be dead as a stage art, but Requiescat in video... more»
Promoters and musicians worry about how to sex up the staid world of classical music. Here is an idea: try sex... more»
Give little boys and little girls a choice of toy cars or dolls: is what they reach for dictated by culture? Okay, now try it with vervet monkeys... more»
The long-term fate and future of Taiwan is being twisted by manipulative great powers and murky local politics, argues Wang Chaohua... more»
In Peru, Sicily, or Iraq, as you read this some criminal is using a backhoe, chainsaw, shovel, or crowbar to destroy a priceless piece of antiquity... more»
“Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine / There’s always laughter and good red wine.” Or maybe a stein of Bavarian beer... more»
Those know-it-alls of Malibu and Manhattan, the liberal elite sip their lattes and lord it over the peasantry. Thomas Frank analyzes a perception... more»
Poor Genghis Khan: he uses the most intelligent strategies, conquers armies of the world, and in the end gets played by John Wayne... more»
Appointment in Samarra was a big hit for John OHara. But as his fame and wealth grew, so did the quality of his fiction decline... more»
The Colombian and the Korean happily chat away in what they think is English – but you can’t grasp a word. What tongue are they speaking?... more»
Many authors toil to get out a few sentences in an hour. Other damnable types can pen 3000 words in a sitting. What kind of people are they?... more»
The tsunami generated many a horror story out of Thailand. So does the Thai sex trade. Is this nation really “the brothel of the world”?... more»
Ukraine’s Orange Revolution is bound to have a direct impact on Putin’s moves to oppose democracy. Having a free press next door... more»
“We’re trying to turn this thing around,” says the head of Black Studies. But college programs like hers struggle to attract students... more»
Lost writings of Sophocles, Hesiod, and Euripides have been recovered in just the past few days and more is on the way. “Astounding”... more»
Adjust disposable income for the cost of living and it turns out Norwegians are among the poorest folk in Western Europe... more»
If Americans come from Mars and Europeans come from Venus, what is the home planet of the Japanese? Saturn?... more»
It is not tariffs and quotas that will save American jobs against a Chinese threat, but hard work and innovation... more»
Pleistocene porn: sculptures from the Stone Age indicate that our ancestors had rather fevered sexual imaginations... more»
Andrea Dworkin, theorist of rape and pornography, a woman loved and loathed, has died at the age of 58... Wash Post ... Guardian ... NYT ... NY Sun ... London Times ... Independent ... Slate ... Yahoo ... Telegraph ... Salon ... Susie Bright ... Katha Pollitt ... Cathy Young
Pet theories: dogs act smart because they read people. Or because they fool people into thinking they can read them... more» ... online colloquy
“Microsoft Word Grammar Checker Are No Good, Scholar Conclude.” Yeah, and that cleared the grammar checker too... more»
Yes, people are primates related to other great apes – gorillas, chimps, and bonobos. The idea never bothered Ernst Mayr... more»
Oh, no! Your children, made violent by TV, will die of melanoma. If a supervolcano doesn’t kill them first... more»
In the 1970s, New York was for many a “ruined and broken city.” To Rupert Murdoch it was the chance of a lifetime... more»
Pianist William Kapell: brash, nervous, cocky, funny, thin-skinned. Not an easy man, but a pianist to rival Horowitz... more»
Albert Speer and his boss had their notorious plans for Berlin. Less known are Josef Stalin’s unrealized plans for Moscow... more»
Saul Bellow, who brought to his fiction immigrant’s hustle, bookworm’s brains, and high-minded ideas, is dead... NYT ... SF Chron ... Reuters ... FT ... Guardian ... Wash Post ... Houston Chron ... Boston Globe ... Xan Brooks ... London Times ... Chic Sun-Times ... Le Monde ... Jon Yardley ... Dan Cryer ... Lorin Stein ... Christopher Hitchens ... Chic Tribune ... Independent ... Telegraph ... WSJ ... Carlin Romano ... Tom McBride
Have newborn babies look at machine mobiles and human face mobiles. Do boys and girls react the same, or not?... more»
The lifelong friendship of Paul Nitze and George Kennan began by accident on a train. In the end it defined U.S. Cold War policy... more» ... NSC 68 ... Mr. X’s telegram
What a dullard the Victorians made of Charlotte Brontë. She was in truth a filthy genius, the sex-obsessed grandmother of chick-lit... more»
Technology? The web is more than that: it’s now an ideology offreedom” – and theft. It may take Justice Scalia to sort it out... more»
In mathematical proof you take one big, non-obvious step and reduce it to a bunch of smaller, obvious ones. Now, enter the computer... more»
Nostalgia for the 1960s as a time of heroic activism may tempt progressives to recycle those protest styles today. Bad idea... more»
For a young Indian woman in New York, what’s best? Dating service? Singles bars? Your parents choosing a vegetarian husband for you?... more»
Subjectively, we all think we are free to act as we choose. But thinking does not make it so, B.F. Skinner insisted... more»
Intellectual marijuana and bad for you. “Every hour spent in reading comics is an hour in which all inner growth has stopped”... more»
Might a “PowerPoint festival of bureaucratic hyperrationalism” have helped to doom the space shuttle Columbia? Design guru Edward R. Tufte thinks so... more» ... more»
Ever go to hear an intellectual pundit, a Nobel laureate maybe, hoping for deep insights? Did you leave a tad disappointed? Anthony Daniels did... more»
Pope John Paul II may be a beacon for all who long for freedom, says Hans Küng, but inside the Church his anti-reformist tenure has created a crisis... more»
“We are not against Bush,” said Mr. Salha, a Lebanese factory worker. “If he wants to make us safe and free, that’s great. Let him do it”... more» While back in Iraq...
Adam Smith saw society coming to harmony by the dependence of each person on the labor of all others: “truck, barter and exchange” led people to serve each other... more»
Poor countries remain poor because the incompetent despots who rule them keep them that way. Poverty was once our natural state. Today it is almost always man-made... more»
Susan Sontag sensed a rival in Joan Baez, till Terry Castle assured her that “I, her forty-something slave girl from San Francisco, still preferred her to Ms Diamonds and Rust”... more»
Jean-Paul Sartre and Raymond Aron are remembered more for their attitudes than for what they actually wrote. It’s the fate of many intellectuals... more»
The first Islamic democracies will not likely be places for a family vacation. They may even be quite anti-American. But so is France... more» ... Don’t fear the Shiites
Skin color does not give the measure of a man: it tells nothing about his abilities or his temperament, says Armand Leroi. So race is a useless concept? Whoa!... more»
Harry Truman loved books even more than bourbon. A mama’s boy with coke-bottle glasses, he’d lived in distant times and far-off lands with books. Like other presidents... more»
Russia today: the old Soviet secret police kept their apartments, dachas, and pensions. Their victims, Anne Applebaum explains, remain poor and marginal... more»
McDonald’s now buys more fresh apples than any other restaurant or food service operation, by far. Should we treat this as good news? Mike Miliard doesn’t... more»
The great drama critics were not always fair but they were inevitably interesting. Today we have critics better at writing consumer guides than at engaging art... more»
Democrat as well as aristocrat, Lytton Strachey was the first champagne socialist, a cynic who yet believed in love of the strangest kinds... more»
Maureen Dowd, who nearly quit, felt like a Godfather character, “getting shot at.” Let’s face it, the op-ed writers life is not for everyone... more» ... a “token” has her say.
The sun in the old photo of the stable yard is nearly a century old, but Coco Chanel seems to date from last Friday... more»
Joseph Lelyveld’s telling of his life is a haunting reflection on events remembered, some of them polished to a sweet golden haze... more»
When M.F.K. Fisher wrote of food, she gestured to a bigger world — to France, or appetite itself. Today food writing is too much about food... more»
Founding Mothers. Women of the American Revolution can also teach us about the dreams of those who risked death for freedom... more»
Sex, money, and sex for money are but three aspects of George Sand’s complex family and love life. And those cigars... more»
Theodor Adorno loathed both American jazz and Hollywood movies, but for reasons more complex than many of his critics want to know... more»
“The only antidote to the magic of images is the magic of words,” writes Camille Paglia. She can say that again, and Clive James hopes she will... more»
It’s not that the U.S. is violent or evil or corrupt, but that it is dominant. Can any country in the world be saved from its influence? Seems not... more»
The Enlightenment has come down to us in two versions, the radical and the skeptical, the French and the Scottish... more» ... more»
Debutante balls are thrown by doting fathers who want to shore up their class-standing. Not every girl is a debutante. That’s the point... more» ... more»
Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud were in the same basket, as minds who needed no experimental apparatus. There the similarity ends... more»
No spy novel can capture the twists and turns that a genuine spy goes through in pursuit of his mission of treachery and betrayal... more»
Ian McEwan can create a sense of menace with the tiniest of details – a broken mirror, a flash of red, two figures on a park bench... more»
Artists are important, but let’s face it, art historians are more important. And hey, theorists of art are the most important of all... more»
Who’d have guessed a boy from Mississippi would one day be not only a world famous writer, but the kind of writer William Faulkner became... more»
The word boredom came into English around 1760, about the same time as interesting. You might be slothful before that, or weary... more»
The young Robert Trivers fought bitterly with his father: exactly the kind of thing that evolutionary biology ought to explain... more»
“Psychologists say that love sickness is a genuine disease and needs more awareness and diagnosis.” Ah, yes. Illness of the week... more»
Think of every American as a 1,400-watt bulb that never sleeps: that’s the national per-capita demand for electric power... more»
Nuclear scientists are required to wear protective clothing and have health checks. Maybe historians of extreme evil have a similar need... more»
The crudity of Bobby Fischer’s jailing allowed his supporters to draw a veil over his racism and cast him as heroic victim of state persecution... more»
Nazi Germany was not in all eyes a dark dictatorship: for many it was the original feel-good state. Plunder made it possible... more»
Call it an ROTC program for the CIA: young researchers are trained to analyze global conflicts in the interests of national security... more»
Advertising – old media, new media, internet or not – still sells goods by manipulating public attitudes about beauty and status... more»
“Any country that gave nukes to terrorists to turn on the U.S. would disappear from the face of the earth.” But what will have disappeared first?... more»
As Riccardo Muti’s self-belief has degenerated into self-love, he has broken the golden rule of flattery: enjoy it but don’t inhale... more»
Simonides alone survived a roof collapse that killed all at a banquet. He recalled every name by locating each seat: the first master of memory... more»
It seemed preposterous that an encyclopedia could be written and edited by just anyone. Maybe that’s what Wikipedia really is... more»
Muhammad’s original vision of tolerance will rid Islam of hatred and discord, says Reza Aslan. The Islamic Reformation is already here... more»
Many mammals and birds are capable of altruism. But human beings extend their generosity far beyond immediate blood relatives... more»
Not only did Adolf Hitler have the atom bomb, he conducted three detonations in 1944 and 1945. Maybe... more»
“I’d rather be reading Jane Austen,” the bumper sticker goes. And if she is so fine, then so too must the driver be... more»
Devoutly Christian U.S. president backs Israel, invades an Arab land, and occupies it violently. Well, in the Koran there’s a verse about the good fruits of catastrophe... more»
“Why don’t they listen to us?” Poor and working class America is turning away from the Left’s messages of hope and change. Lillian Rubin on a widening gulf... more»
Our most honored poets no longer produce powerful, distinctive work, argues Camille Paglia. They elevate process over form. Their poems become meandering diary entries... more»
Democratic revolution is what the Middle East needs, but how do we promote it so that the search for an Arab Kerensky does not yield an Islamist Lenin instead?... more»
Heidegger can’t be pardoned for his Nazism, but Lukács and Brecht are excused for their engagement with Stalinism. Slavoj Žižek asks, Why?... more»
The collapse of the experiment of the October Revolution is a final moment, says Eric Hobsbawm. It will never be repeated, though it remains still a part of human aspirations... more»
As Raymond Aron put it, “every known regime is blameworthy if one holds it to an abstract idea of equality over liberty.” And how about the abstract idea of democracy?... more»
The Berlin Wall fell, the Soviet state ended, Japan Inc. turned out to be insolvent, and look at those elections in Iraq. Why cant journalists see the news coming at them?... more»
Guy Davenport’s gentle curiosity left him amused by human foibles, rather than indignant. He felt contempt only for the academic... more» ... “The Hunter Gracchus
Before the tanks, poison gas, and mass slaughter of WWI, war still went on in Galicia, writes Andrzej Stasiuk, in an old-fashioned, even elegant, way... more»
Okay, she thinks philosophers can be stupid, simple-minded, crude, awful, and boring. It doesn’t follow that Marjorie Grene murdered Imre Lakatos: “I didn’t kill him!”... more»
As Judea insurgent John Cleese asked in Life of Brian, “What have the Romans ever done for us?” “Well, there’s the aqueduct. Yeah, and wine. Public order, too”... more»
Victorian artists tended to ignore industry. Turner might paint a train, but it was as a dramatic event in a rural setting... more»
We’re all cultural Mussolinis at age 15, with our passionate, jejune, pretentious tastes. We get over the tastes, but not the embarrassment... more»
The “new new journalism” is reportorially based, narrative-driven long-form nonfiction. It likes a point of view... more»
Staring at us from stilted old daguerreotypes, the ghastly frumps in Richard Wagner’s life remind us how unlucky he was with women... more»
Mandarin has more speakers than any other of the worlds languages. Hindi is third, Spanish fourth. The solid second place? English... more»
Is Larry Summers guilty of bad manners, a “prodigious and sloppy eater,” arrogant, and patronizing? Who says?... more»
Art since 1900: it’s all about the likes of Foucault, Benjamin, Derrida, and the jargon they spawned. Richard Diebenkorn? Chuck Close? Who?... more»
If you are born with a large brain, movie-star looks, and a £100 million fortune, you can expect a bio hatchet job one day... more»
A long childhood focused on education, free from adult work is a recent idea. Actually being a child is much older... more»
The ruthless demands of art closed in on Henri Matisse in his middle years, dehumanizing him and all who shared his life... more»
“I will sculpt my own statue,” André Malraux told his wife, and much of his career found him chiseling away, in all senses of the term... more»
Stalinism is not the whole story of modern Russia. But try to read the NKVD’s Order No. 00447, July 1937, without a shudder... more» ... more»
Brand America. The U.S. has never had a stronger marketing image. When we turn from brand to product, however, it’s a different story... more»
Garry Kasparov’s awesome skill has intimidated many a chess opponent. He now faces his toughest contest yet, against Vladimir Putin... more»
Awkward even to use the word, for conservatives and liberals alike: manliness. It was perhaps the finest virtue of Theodore Roosevelt... more»
Ancient Romans knew how to eat, uh, by their lights anyway. Whether they match your lights is for you to decide... more»
Womens boxing: 45-second bloodfests, really, that are brutal, uncontrollable, and sexualized. Better just admit it... more»
A new perfume: smells of sliced apples in blond tobacco leaves, drizzled with caramel, banana, and rum. Or maybe just leather sprinkled with sugar... more»
Sons of Henry Kissinger, and yes, a daughter as well. They are, whether you know it or not, The Committee that Runs the World... more»
Francis Crick’s incandescent nonstop creativity made one think of him as immortal. In a way, he was... more»
“Pornography is the theory, rape is the practice.” Strong words, but where today are the anti-porn feminists?... more»
Fearing ridicule, repulsed by sex, needing freedom, Ibsen might say of Hedda Gabler, as Flaubert did of Emma Bovary, “Hedda, c’est moi”... more»
Don’t leave home without it! The Pentagon’s Iraq Culture Smart Card helps you to dine with locals, arrest them, etc... small pdf ... very big pdf
Like Dickens, he had a poor lower-middle-class youth, mediocre education, and talent and energy to overcome it all: H.G. Wells... more»
Environmentalists rail against suburban sprawl outward from old city cores. How serious is this problem?... more»Smart-growth” on the back foot.
E.E. Cummings loved the bars and brothels of Boston, where as a young man he might roam freely “sans peur, if not sans reproche”... more»
Kim Jong Il is doing his best to make the world safe for his dictatorship. So what are we doing to keep ourselves safe from him? Not enough... more»
Time, like God, is either necessary or nothing. If it disappears in one possible universe, it is undermined in every other universe, including ours. Kurt Gödel knew this... more»
People who sit gripped through four hours of King Lear or a grand-slam tennis final are squirming in their seats ten minutes into a classical music concert. Why?... more»
Curious how so many feminists, when crossed, turn into hysterical harpies. Or delicate flowers, made “sick” by any challenge. Consider the Los Angeles Times... more» ... more»
Basketball players of the world unite: you have nothing to lose but your coaches, bosses, and landlords. What might Karl Marx have said about the NBA?... more»
A new window on the intellectual life of Europe, produced in the only pan-European language. Arts & Letters Daily welcomes the appearance of Sign and Sight
iPod People walk down the street in their own MP3 cocoon, deaf to small cues, shutting out those not in their bubble. Is this a proper society? Andrew Sullivan wonders... more»
Chess is a splendid tool to increase concentration, patience, self-control, imagination, creativity, and logical thinking, says Susan Polgar. She should know... more»
Larry Summers is easily the most intelligent and energetic college president in the U.S. Alarmed by this, the Harvard faculty decided to humiliate him... more» What about families? Again, he said... But where’s Larry?
After the Revolution, the Russian working class became “one of history’s wonders,” wrote Isaac Deutscher: rich in generosity, passion, and idealism... more»
When Ronald Reagan stood by the Berlin Wall in 1987 and told the Soviets to “tear down this wall,” German media made fun of him. Now they make fun of George Bush... more»
Should offensive speech be banned in universities? But learning how to argue means learning how not to be hurt by strong opposing views... more»
Chernobylskaya was the name of the street. People there had worked at the atomic station all their lives. Diseased, invalids, but they hated the idea of closing the reactor... more»
The United States was built not on Christian principles but rather on Enlightenment ones. God was a minor player to the Founding Fathers, Jesus was conspicuously absent... more»
Facetiously is the only English word that has all six vowels in order, James Thurber declared. “Oh?,” replied his copy editor, Miss Gould. “What about abstemiously?”... more»
The polar ice caps are melting! You’ll fry. You’ll freeze! You’ll drown! But the scare-mongering scientists will likely bore you to death long before that... more»
Intelligent design may be a way to explain the world, but does it tell us of the designer? He’s incompetent? A cruel space alien playing with his chemistry set on earth?... more»
Overparenting may give us kids who are spoiled, callow, allergy-prone, risk-averse success machines with no inner lives, say some. But how about the alternative?... more»
As E.B. White lay dying, his son read to him, often White’s own work. “Who wrote that?” the old man would ask. “You did,” Joe would answer. “Well, not bad”... more»
Love, like good food and wine, is one life’s cultivated pleasures. It gives a healthy glow to the skin, encourages us to dress well and stay engaged intellectually... more»
Humbug: misrepresentation, short of lying, by pretentious speech, of one’s ideas, feelings, or attitudes. Harry Frankfurt calls it... more» (not fit to print in the New York Times). Frankfurt’s false etymology (scroll down).
Liberal guilt once meant unease over one’s good fortune in an unjust world. Now it means quiet pleasure in news of murder and mayhem in Iraq. Whatever hurts Bush... more»
The atoms in your brain and body today are not the ones you had at birth. The human essence lies in patterns, in neurons and memory. The soul is information... more»
What if the Holy Grail was not the cup that held the blood of Christ but the bloodline stretching from him? Yeah, and what if the moon is made out of baloney?... more»
“Someday a grand city square in Baghdad will be named after George W. Bush. How likely is this?” Tariq Ali and Christopher Hitchens debate the future of Iraq... more»
What with prenuptials, safe sex, and emotional air cushions of every kind, we’ve almost managed to riskproof relationships. Such options were not open to Heloise and Abelard... more»
The Black Plague arrived, via infected rats, in 1347 in Genoa. From there the disease spread to every corner of Europe... more»
Commodities from silk to sugar to tulips have inspired greed and irrationality, and given us dazzling creativity. Consider cotton... more»
Christopher Marlowe’s murder at the age of 29 in a bar brawl is endlessly recreated in the fantasies of his fans... more»
Shakespeare still eludes us, disappearing forever around the corner: that is part of his eternal fascination... more»
Divorced, in her forties, Kate Saunders is aware her career means nothing. No husband? She’s a total loser in the eyes of other women... more»
As Voltaire lay dying, a priest urged on him the virtues of Jesus. His response, “Sir, do not speak to me anymore about that man”... more»
If you cant beat an enemy in battle, you’ve two options: you go up, to weapons of mass destruction, or down, to acts of terrorism... more»
Movie blockbusters tend to be kids action/fairytales that have potential spin-offs in toy and game licensing. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings... more»
D.H. Lawrence had a trick of wringing two things from life: profound insight in his writing and total intolerability in his person... more»
Do women of France, blessed with a natural moderation, stay slim, healthy, and beautiful? No: French women get fat too... more»
Here is a humorous tour of jolly old England that capers and spoofs and wags its tail in every paragraph. It’s just never funny... more»
Supermarkets, Internet cafés, beauty parlors, restaurants, and stores selling Bollywood DVDs. Kabul today... more»
For the French, Racine and Corneille lived by Aristotle’s high-handed “laws.” As for Shakespeare, mon Dieu!... more»
So how does D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation stand up next to Mahler’s Ninth? It’s naive, coarse... more»
Einstein, Marx, and Freud were makers of the modern world. But really, how much should we care that each was a Jew?... more»
Students compete insanely to get into university, only to be taught by part-time adjuncts. So this is what your money buys... more»
It is tempting to say that the horrors of the Black Death are beyond the grasp of 21st-century readers. Alas, no... more»
Robt. Louis Stevenson was not good at writing women: they barely show in Treasure Island or Kidnapped. Yet there is a curious femininity... more»
André Malraux died with mere mortals, a giant carried on the shoulders of pygmies. History was for him a cruel mistress... more»
Waterloo: last hurrah of an age of gorgeous uniforms, when men went stoically to their deaths in battle... more»
Politically incorrect history of the U.S. by a neocon? No, says Max Boot, though this book is morally and factually incorrect... more»
“How did the faith of Jesus come to be known as pro-rich, pro-American and pro-war?” Jim Wallis wonders... more»
Mathematics “is given to us in its entirety,” said Kurt Gödel. The part of it we are able to see is unchanging in its beauty and harmony... more»
Madame de Staël ignored the custom for women to leave the table after dinner to men, port, and cigars. She stayed to argue politics... more»
Bernard Loiseau, one of the great chefs of France, took his own life. He was respected, even adored, but “one of” was not enough... more»
Scents of wood smoke, wild berries, mushrooms, leather and coffee. A fine Bordeaux, perhaps? No, it’s all about chocolate... more»
Cassandras love to predict the imminent end of U.S. power. After Sputnik, then Vietnam, the Japanese were going to take over. Oh, yes... more»
Earthquakes, plagues, floods, the universe itself. Why does religion seem to explain it all? Because our brains are wired to believe... more»
Cows seem calm and dumb, but they are gay nymphomaniacs who are also excited by solving intellectual problems. More like us than we think... more»
The MBA may have its uses, but it does not turn students into business leaders – or endow them with maturity and wisdom... more»
The greatest happiness of all the human race can include taking great pleasure in the happiness of others... more»
Ijtihad, “strenuous effort” in Arabic, may well be the key to a democracy for a new Iraq – and beyond... more»
Sweden does not have much of a military, but thinks of itself as a “moral superpower.” Now its old values are being sorely tested... more»
Hunter S. Thompson, voice of the counterculture, has killed himself... NYT ... Washington Post ... BBC ... Paul Krassner ... LAT ... Denver Post ... Aspen Daily News ... NY Post ... Tom Wolfe ... Aspen Times ... SF Chron ... Joel Achenbach ... Salon ... Stephen Schwartz ... Christopher Hitchens ... Carlin Romano ... Louis Menand ... A.S. Ross
The Pan-Am smile of Julia Roberts is one kind. Then there’s the Duchenne smile of the British. You can spot the difference... more»
“It is unworthy to drink too much water, or drink it after eating fatty food or with your left hand or while standing at night.” Thus spake Ayatollah Sistani... more»
The future no longer belongs to those who reason like computers. It will favor people with artistry and empathy... more»
Sociologists in the last 100 years have attacked everything that Emil Durkheim stood for. Yet he rises still above his critics... more»
It was cold at Auschwitz, 60 years on, but Deborah Lipstadt took her hat off in tribute. Unlike some of those who died, she had a hat... more»
In Colombia, young boys kill each other just for losing at cards, writes Martin Amis. A taste for violence and death starts early... more»
Yanks pretend to hate New York City, but they secretly love it. When it comes to Toronto, Canadians simply despise it. Period... more»
After he took a speed reading course, Woody Allen read War and Peace in under an hour. The book, he explained, “was about Russia”... more»
Not everyone who died in the WTC was a “little Eichmann,” says Ward Churchill. There were passers-by, for instance, or janitors... more» The 2001 article itself.
Only yesterday, Libya was North Korea’s best nuclear customer. Tomorrow, it may be Iran. Kim Jong Il is a man who is ready to deal... more»
People often live into their 90s today. Next century, they may be living to 5000 years. If you think Social Security has problems now... more»
Arthur Miller, playwright for the twentieth century, is dead at 89... Washington Post ... AP ... NY Times ... Univ Mich ... NPR (audio) ... Harold Pinter ... London Times ... Slate ... Chicago Trib ... Erica Wagner ... Guardian ... LA Times ... Observer ... John Moore ... Independent ... Telegraph ... Michael Simkins ... Richard Corliss ... Rohan Preston ... Robt Hurwitt ... Clive Barnes ... Martin Kohn ... Newsweek ... Village Voice ... U.S. News ... Prensa (Cuba) ... New Criterion ... Tom Leonard ... Philip French ... Baltimore Sun ... David Mamet ... Feroz Khan ... Tony Vellela ... Hilary Krieger ... Julia Keller ... Kamal Al-Solaylee ... Terry Teachout ... Marjorie Miller ... Pravda ... E.J. Dionne ... Stephen Schwartz
Smoking was once about being adult, but the smoke-free world is about being a perpetual child. Oh, we’ll all live longer. Or maybe it will only seem longer... more»
Anti-Americanism is not as alarming as many Americans think. Much of it isn’t serious, but pathetic hypocrisy – embarrassing, imbecilic, and worst of all, fashionable... more»
Journalism responds to the moment. That is what can make it great, and that is what tomorrow will make it fish wrap. Kenneth Minogue on a problem profession... more»
How does George Bush approach books and the life of the mind? The chattering classes are snickering already, of course... more». Dubya’s reading list.
Whether differences between men and women originate in biology must be determined by research, not fatwa, says Steven Pinker. As for Lawrence Summers... more»
Henry Darger’s art has a slippery, elusive quality – curious, odd, creepy, bizarre. But does anyone really find it moving?... more» ... images ... links
Both the free market and the welfare state assume continued population growth. With birth rates in decline, who benefits, the Left or the Right?... more»
Albert Einstein’s great work was over before he was 40. Cynics have even said that he should have gone fishing from 1920 onwards. He, of course, had other plans... more»
Fidel Castro will leave Cuba in a huge political and economic mess, just as Mao left China when he died in 1976. What will Castro’s successors do?... more»
Misremembering Philip Johnson. He admired Hitler, was at Nuremberg rallies, and followed the Wehrmacht into Poland. Warsaw burning was “a stirring spectacle”... more»
Mario Savio stood on the hood of a car in Berkeley in 1964 and claimed that the University of California was a business. A dodgy idea then, maybe. What about now?... more»
Ayn Rand at 100. At her funeral, a six-foot-high dollar sign marked the coffin. And she’s still in the money... Ed Rothstein ... Cathy Young ... Julia Keller ... Michael Berliner ... Rod Long ... Steve Chapman ... Carlin Romano ... Nick Gillespie (audio) ... Rand-O-Rama
Walk through Dresden, that once incomparable city, and you can realize how hard it is to be a German, for whom neither memory nor amnesia give consolation... more»
Does anyone today still claim that Stockhausen can be mentioned in the same breath as Bach? Ah, the last true believers clinging to the shipwreck of modernism... more»
In North Korea, religious faith, crime, hunger, and sheer cold are eroding the regime’s grip at a speed that might surprise the CIA’s analysts... more»
All the major troubles of the last half century have been caused by people who have let politics become a mania. Democracy stops the maniacs... more»
“The U.S. has destroyed any hope of legitimacy, fairness or even decency” by its treatment of Saddam Hussein. That’s why Ramsey Clark will defend him... more»
Atheism, Natalie Angier insists, must mean what it says: living life without gods to credit or explain or excuse. How does she plan to raise her daughter as an atheist?... more»
The information society: we take pride as citizens in the idea of free knowledge for all. Just be careful about singing Happy Birthday or reading Alice in Wonderland aloud... more»
What time is it in America? Bush thinks it’s morning. Matthew Parris reckons it’s 4:30 in the afternoon... more». Victor Hanson grins any time a British intellectual predicts U.S. collapse... more»
Andrei S. Markovits was still able to call himself a Labor Zionist in the late 1960s. That, along with much else, has changed for the Left in recent years of decline... more»
Don Quixote’s epitaph ran: “It was his great good fortune to live a madman and die sane.” Whoever our lady fair, whatever our windmills, we should all be as lucky... more»
Why are we in Iraq? Who is the enemy? Is there really a terrorist threat? Similar questions were asked in World Wars I, II, and III. They go with fighting World War IV... more»
Populist conservatism: an angry right-wing sensibility that pretends to speak in the voice of the working class. Thomas Frank knows it well... more»
The Hindu tolerance of combining conflicting ideas by declaring them as different paths to the same end ought to remind us, if we’re honest about it, of George Orwell... more»
The immediate goal of the coming attacks on Iran will be to destroy the mullahsability to go nuclear, claims Seymour Hersh... more» ... Whoa! says the Pentagon.
An unholy alliance unites those on the Left who view man as endowed with rights but not duties, and those on the Right who think consumer choice solves all problems... more»
One well-ordered universe is fine and dandy, but if it is only one among a stupendous numbers of others, that’s different. Bryce DeWitt ponders God and physics... more»
Nothing is to be gained from drawing analogies between the perils of Soviet expansion and the Islamic terrorist threat... more»
Christopher Hitchens says that he sometimes gets more praise from right-wingers or Republicans than he wants. Or than he deserves... more»
American culture of the 1950s, far from being boring and conformist, now looks daring, assured, and adult. No wonder it excited the world... more»
Kim Il Sung’s last days were out of Lear, the ruthless young Kim greedily relieving father of the irksome burdens of office... more»
Imperialism can be a cheerful business, “laced with hopes of profit, the pleasure of authority and a chance of doing good”... more»
Cambodia, with a history of brutality, where folk tales are grim and menacing, was the perfect nursery for Pol Pot... more»
A committed minority can persuade a majority to see what it at first prefers not to see. Consider the slave trade... more»
Nothing wrong with war on the terrorism of al Qaeda. But what if it creates a sense of America right or wrong?...more»
Russian philosophy over the last 200 years is a tale of real humanist insights. It is also a painful story of intellectual self-defeat... more»
So what is Château Pavie? A wine of sublime richness, or a ridiculous drink, a mere fruit bomb? Ask Robert Parker... more»
V.S. Pritchett is often called a comic writer, yet his stories abound in failure and regret: “For me comedy has a militant, tragic edge” ... more» ... more»
If plagiarist historians just copied wholesale, they could claim it as mere error. It’s those tiny rewordings that give the game away... more»
Extreme weather: hailstones the size of pumpkins, huge tornados, record highs and lows. Is this for real?... more»
Failure in life is now a low hum rather than a loud crash: stress, routine, conformity, the dead-end job, the disgrace of being average... more»
Hollywood is going through a bad patch, the great stories of its golden age now replaced by special effects and vapid characters... more»
The Magnificent Ambersons was so butchered in editing that Orson Welles 40 years on was seen weeping as it played on his motel TV... more»
Robert Louis Stevenson, frail and hysterical, was a fanatic launcher of projects which he rarely finished... more»
Teenagers love to march and shout for their political causes, all life and enthusiasm. Think of the Hitler Youth... more»
Ayn Rand’s sagas deal in moral absolutes: only the whitest of knights, the blackest of villains. No shades of gray allowed... more»
By the time Capt. Cook found them they were “lean, timid and miserable.” Why did the Easter Islanders cut down every last one of their trees?... more»
Shakespeare’s theatrical team: yes, without it we might not have the playwright we know. Is he then somehow a smaller man than we thought?... more»
Abstract ideas, free-floating in their own rarefied sphere of discourse were Isaiah Berlin’s idea of high intellectual aesthetics... more»
Iran’s revolution has inspired Islamic extremists around the world. The country sits atop an immense oil pool. Now it wants the bomb... more»
For as long as there have been villages, there have been village atheists: hypervigilant debunkers who lovingly detail the fallacies of religion... more»
As Plato recognized long ago, philosophers are rarely kings, kings rarely philosophers. So what should we expect from George W. Bush?... more»
His intentions are good, but, no, Nick Hornby does not read all the books he brings home from the bookstore... more»
Judges may decide cases in the blink of an eye, using intuition. But that is hardly all that they do. Richard Posner ought to know... more»
Sure, Francis Galton was a man of dark visions. He was also a scientist with some of the brightest ideas of his time... more»
Man reduced to nothing, to being a mere survivor, is not tragic but comic, since he has no fate. Imre Kertész’s bleak vision... more»
The prostitute is not a victim of men, as feminists claim, but rather their conqueror, an outlaw.” Lovely idea, but... more»
Cinematic genius, and oh, yes, racist as well. D.W. Griffith began an artistic line that led directly to Ed Wood and Plan 9 from Outer Space... more»
Color, pitch, the taste of acid or sweet: the science of these qualities begins in ordinary life. But what of roughness? Benoit Mandelbrot wondered... more»
La Fornarina, the little baker girl. Was she Raphael’s lover, or the new wife of the Pope’s banker? Did he paint her for love or for money?... more»
The frontiers of physics are now closed. New knowledge is out there, but no longer in the places physicists tend to look for it ... more»
Ernst Mayr, the man who made evolutionary biology into a modern scientific discipline, is dead at the age of 100... more» ... more» ... more»
The Hollywood fantasy is to make a killing and create high art: it’s either a grand and very American idea, or a crazy and very American idea... more»
Modern conservatism, a mass movement, a philosophy not for aristocrats and the rich but for everybody, was Benjamin Disraeli’s creation... more»
Once it lets its guard down, old anti-evolutionism has not changed a bit: it’s Darwin out, Christianity in... more»
Falling populations, a lack of work, fragmented culture. It may look like Europe is in deep trouble. But just maybe... more»
If something is in the brain’s view worth remembering, it fires neurons till recall is fixed. Burned into the memory is an apt metaphor... more»
Friedrich Schiller, a brave and inspiring advocate of liberty, knew the vulgar side of raw political power... more»
Michael Jackson’s being stuck in adolescence is not grounds for prison. They need to prove Peter Pan did something. It’ll take six months... more»
The universe will die in the long run and we’ll die with it. Unless we can somehow worm out of the fix we’re in... more»
What tsunami victims need most, apparently, is the good news of Jesus Christ... more». Or maybe the even better news of L. Ron Hubbard... more»
Parisians laughed to see the severed head of Louis XVI bounce across the Place de la Concorde. Ah, yes, ancestors of today’s French waiters... more»
The late Philip Johnson did not believe in principles: “I am a whore and am paid very well to build high-rise buildings”... more» ... more» ... more» ... more»
Post-traumatic nearly naked breast disorder: children suffer still, a full year after Janet Jackson’s tragic wardrobe malfunction... more»
“I’ve always loved thinking about poetry, and writing about it,” says Helen Vendler. “That’s my vocation. All I can do is practice it”... more»
Leadership: in politics it used to be about ideas and policy. Now its about stunts. The response to the tsunami, for instance... more»
America needs a more active religious left, politicians who address social justice and can catch the ear of evangelical voters... more»
Islamophobia: ten years ago nobody ever heard of it. Now we are to believe Britain, for instance, is held fast in its grip. Oh yeah?.. more»
North Korea’s main railway is lined with walls so high that its foreign passengers can’t see the countryside. That’s just for starters... more»
Globalization’s agenda must move to social democratic values from market idolatry, says David Held, if it is to serve all peoples... more»
Meat powder made Pavlov’s dogs drool; TV affects our brains like that. And now with TiVo and iPod, we control the meat powder... more»
Fewer female scientists, owing to innate factors? Larry Summers shoves his hand into a hornet’s nest... more» ... more» ... more» ... “I’m sorry” ... more» ... more» ... more»
Plato thought of the soul as a chariot pulled by two horses of reason and emotion. For economics, the soul is mostly a one-horse show... more»
The Swedish libertarian right backs free trade, opposing tariff protections. But here’s the surprise: so does the left... more»
You too might oversee a major Federal department with your Ph.D from a “university” in, uh, a Motel 6 somewhere in Wyoming... more» ... more»
Want to hide a WMD in plain sight, driving it across the U.S. unhindered? Make it look like Little Boy, the Hiroshima bomb... more»
Novy Ochevidets, Russia’s spirited answer to The New Yorker, has shut down after just five months in operation... more»
Leonardo da Vinci thought of himself more an engineer than artist or scientist. Like Buckminster Fuller, he was ahead not only of his time, but of his tools... more»
Dave Barry should replace William Safire at the NYT. Why settle for another gray libertarian when you can have a libertarian who makes booger jokes?... more»
As usual, when disaster strikes it’s the Great Satan and his various Little Satans who leap to respond. What about the big shots of the Arab world?... more»
Empowerment and independence: you hear a lot about it from women today, except they’re shopping for baby-doll outfits or getting double-D cup breast implants... more»
Great artistic endings are startling and inevitable, mysteriously certain. Think of Joyce’s “The Dead,” or Rosenkavalier. Think of Uncle Vanya, or Rosebud in Citizen Kane... more»
Americanism is potent stuff. It is every bit as fervent and passionate a religion as the anti-Americanism it challenges and rebukes. Watch out... more»
Perched cross-legged, reading her obituaries on a couch at some cloud cafe, Susan Sontag might shake her head: too many easy clichés, not enough hard thinking... more»
Factory workers and miners of Britain were some of the most educated people of the Victorian age. Who says classics were irrelevant to them?... more»
Most “Christians” commit treason daily against their religion. They claim Jesus is Lord, but they show allegiance to money, sex, and self-fulfillment... more»
Hans Christian Andersen was son of a poor cobbler and his washerwoman wife. Unless he was bastard son of King Christian VIII of Denmark... more»
Simone de Beauvoir, Sartre’s lover, offered herself to the charming Camus. He turned her down. To Sartre, his refusal was maybe more disturbing than her offer... more»
Don Quixote, with his flawed hopes, may not subdue giants, but he still conquers hearts. He lives in his self-made universe as an ultimate symbol of freedom... more»
You could love Russia and still hate the Soviet Union. And today you can love Russia and hate what Vladimir Putin is doing to it... more»
If Russia’s low fertility rates are cause for concern, its mortality rates are a scandal. Russians are dying young, and no one seems to care... more»
Fifty years ago today, a 22-year-old Canadian pianist named Glenn Gould walked out onto a D.C. stage for his first American recital... more»
It is in Iraq where political Islams future is being cast. Every Mideast movement that opposes America is being drawn to Iraq, like a magnet... more»
If God is God, hes not good. If God is good, he’s not God. You can’t have it both ways, especially not after the Indian Ocean catastrophe... more» ... more» ... more» ... more»
Let us flaunt the rules of grammar, not flout them, if only to show that we know the difference. And there are even better reasons to write and speak elegantly... more»
“It’s the South Bronx,” he remarked, driving in his old neighborhood, the Overtoomse Veld, in Amsterdam. The South Bronx? In Holland?... more»
A mob of Sikhs closes down anoffensiveplay. But, shrugs a Minister of the Crown, that’s “a sign of the free speech, so much part of British tradition”... more» ... more» ... more»
The “war of the roads” is being lost in Iraq. If Sunni insurgents control arteries in and out of Baghdad, U.S. and its Iraqi allies will never win in the heartland... more»
Republican proletariat: so now billionaire Democrats face off against blue-collar Bush voters who scrimp to keep body and soul together... more»
Irving Howe’s work has a strongly personal stamp: awkward, funny, impatient, at moments ruthless, yet with an uncanny ability to get to the heart of the matter... more»
What is literature good for? It is not mere recital of facts, says W.G. Sebald, nor a form of scholarship. It can be a kind of restitution... more»
Those annoying Americans are once again having fun at Christmas, free of skepticism and cynicism. Who do they think they are, pandering to idealism like that?... more»
Banish anthropologists from the halls of museums so indigenous peoples can “tell their own stories,” says Edward Rothstein. And here’s what you get... more»... more»
The murder of Theo van Gogh 911 days after the assassination of Pim Fortuyn has had the same effect on Holland as the attack on the World Trade Center on the U.S.... more»
Wal-Mart knows its customers, and it knows how badly they need its discounts. So to make its business model work, Wal-Mart must keep labor costs down. Ah, yes... more»
What do women want? Which group of women? Traditional, neo-trad, modern, or postmodern? There is no single answer: different women have different interests... more»
A library is more than collected books: it is a temple, the hushed core of civilization, citadel of memory, with a sensual as well as an intellectual mystique... more»
Governments may meddle in our lives to make us more happy. But what if we value freedom over happiness?... more»
If you sit in a major city as you read this, then you are, alas, likely in proximity to two or more rats having sex... more»
PayPal is a service the world needs. And it looks like the company will succeed, despite the lawyers, despite the Russian mafia... more»
George Lakoff’s linguistics for the liberal left may comfort his Berkeley friends, but there is little evidence it is going to win elections... more» ... more»
Hannibal swarmed over the Alps with elephants, led a rainbow coalition, and almost beat the world’s superpower... more»
The judgment you make about a person in the blink of an eye may well prove more reliable than a 700-page biography. Intuition works... more»
People fight about love and lucre. They also fight about labels. So what the hell is a libertarian anyway?... more»
Carl Sandburg long ago winked at Lincoln’s “streak of lavender and spots soft as May violets.” Uh-oh. Time to revive the Gay Lincoln Theory... more»
The digitalization of the world is the same problem that the Luddites faced: the end of human creativity in the birth new machines... more»
Umberto Eco is best when he drops theory-mongering, slips out of the jargon corset, and allows his prose to sparkle... more»
Best American poetry? Come on, there’s no such thing as “bestness.” These days, everybody gets a gold star... more»
Affirmative action: if history is any guide, we can predict very little about its results, or about whether it will foster justice for all... more»
Anti-poverty advocates point to drug abuse and depression as prime “barriers to work” for welfare moms. And drunken, abusive men?... more»
In the making of A-bombs, the U.S. can thank god that Germany had Heisenberg while it had Oppenheimer... more»
Did Abraham Lincoln’s early puberty save the United States? Yes, it did this and much more, says Gore Vidal... more»
A 200-employee Wal-Mart store costs federal taxpayers $420,000 a year in welfare. That comes to $2.5 billion per annum over the U.S.... more»
“When God began to create heaven and earth, and the earth then was welter and waste and darkness over the deep...” Thats one way... more»
Nikolai Gogol is not easy to translate into English. The robust, bawdy Dead Souls needs a light touch and boldness all at once... more»
The Precautionary Principle: if it might go wrong, don’t do it. Apply the idea to food technology, and some Third World child may well starve... more»
Tom Wolfe is stunningly good at cramming the lurid players in the carnival of American life between the covers of a novel... more»
Looked at now, Stalin’s kitsch propaganda films seem like parodies. Yet very few people laughed at the time... more»
How to win an argument: all you need know was sketched out by Schopenhauer long ago. Logic? Forget about it... more»
A.J. Liebling admired above all gallant soldiers, hard-working boxers who knew their craft, and con men who showed panache... more»
A book on the number 13 that costs £13: expensive for some of clippings, emails, and hours on the web. But Google makes us all scholars... more»
Why is American culture so closed off? The more it imposes itself on the world, the more foreign the world becomes... more»
The New Yorker cartoon is an agent of corruption far more insidious than LSD or the electric guitar... more»
By 1973, more than 150 U.S. aircraft had been successfully hijacked, mostly to Cuba, by convicts, fugitives, and the odd Black Panther... more»
Heinrich Heine once quipped that “the history of Kants life is hard to describe, because he had neither a life nor history.” But he still has a story... more»
Reality was a forbidding place for young P.G. Wodehouse: cold, uncaring parents and a nanny who ran a prison. Comedy was escape... more»
If you were an Army captain in Iraq and wanted to advise newcomers in your line of work, how would you do it? How ’bout a website?... more»
Israel is just a strip of land in what is maybe the worlds most noxious neighborhood, and the cleanup hasn’t even begun... more»
In 1929, a barbershop quartet sang a song about cereal on the radio. Today, the stick-in-your-mind radio jingle is dead... more»
Literature needs to be heard aloud: the gravedigger scene from Hamlet, Paradise Lost alive in all its glory... more»
“The Wasps haven’t waned,” argues Louis Auchincloss, with intensity and conviction. “They’ve just lost their monopoly”... more»
East Asia inherited a series of alliances from the early days of the Cold War. They don’t fit the region anymore, says Francis Fukuyama... more»
If we woke up one day with no hiphop on radio or TV, if there was no money in hiphop, then we might learn what it really amounted to as an art... more»
“A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.” Josef Stalin was callous, but maybe somehow right... more»
What do you believe to be true, even though you can’t prove it? John Brockman asked over a hundred scientists and intellectuals... more» ... Edge
Cockfighting is war with its own rules, a perfect backdrop for Chas. Willeford’s novel of men, sport, cheating, and punishment... more»
In 1858 John Ruskin, who was a notorious prude, burned the erotic works of Turner. That’s what we’ve always thought, anyway... more»
No matter how famous he became, Nelson Algren was alone, a poor man among the poor, writes Kurt Vonnegut... more»
Ignore Richard Posner’s book on catastrophes, if you wish. You do so at a tiny risk, says Peter Singer, of an enormous peril... more»
Ever hanker to understand at last what Albert Einstein really meant? Here, at the end of 2004, is your chance. Well, sort of... more»
Oh, that wild and crazy MLA! What a freak show, you may say. But English departments could not survive without soaps and rock ’n’ roll... more»
Susan Sontag, writer, critic, a “zealot of seriousness,” and “besotted aesthete,” as she described herself, is dead at 71... NY Times ... Guardian ... AP ... London Times ... Wash Post ... Playbill ... Telegraph ... Houston Chron ... LA Times ... New Criterion ... NPR (audio) ... Salon ... SF Chron ... 2nd LA Times ... 2nd NY Times ... Independent ... Le Monde ... Slate ... Boston Globe ... New Yorker ... Village Voice ... NY Observer ... NY Press ... n+1
The Hookie Awards: those essays most likely to have gotten readers thinking in 2004. Presented by David Brooks... Part 1 ... Part 2
Call him a Cassandra, if you wish, but Daniel Pipes can show America “the evil which threatens it”... more»
P.G. Wodehouse, creator of the ultimate literary butler, and A.A. Milne, creator of Winnie-the-Pooh, started off as friends... more»
Most countries’ legal systems derive from either French civil law or English common law. Which has made for more economic success?... more»
So who was this Jewish boy, whose wrongly dated birthday is celebrated the world over on December 25? Geza Vermes on the real Jesus... more»
A land of racist fascist gun-fondling NASCAR-loving Baptist red-state rednecks – and godless unpatriotic pierced-nose Volvo-driving left-wing vegan perverts: Dave Barrys America... more»
A love of storytelling is as universal as governance, marriage, religion, jokes, and the incest taboo. Why are humans so obsessed with fiction?... more»
Orthodox Jews don’t often whine about creches in public squares. Their kids, steeped in their own tradition, are not threatened by Christmas, they are enlarged by it... more»
Apocalypse soon. It may come from the mighty hand of God or as the fruits of an edenic capitalism. Or maybe it’ll come dressed in a silver space suit... more»
Poetry is threatening, a danger: an attractive idea, but dangerous compared with what? A car bomb? Sure. Tell it to a poet in Iraq... more»
Englands philosopher queen. If there’s a royal mess over some fiendishly tricky moral quandary, the Brits turn to Queen Mary... more»
Criticism should be useful and relevant, critics responsible and judicious. But that’s not enough: these days youve got to besmart”... more»
The Americans are in for a rude shock: environmental standards of the EU are going to be imposed on U.S. goods, whether Americans want it or not... more»
Not all Republicans like Darwin, but in the Darwinian task of making more baby Republicans they are doing superbly. In fact, they are reproducing like rabbits... more»
“How dare you try to take what you didn’t help me get? You selfish bitch, I hope you f—in’ burn in hell for this shit!” Eminem to his mom. Does he have a point?... more»
The wildfire of anti-American and anti-Bush fury that has burned Europe has skipped over parts of the Arab world. Look at middle-class Damascus... more»
“We must fight for what the word Europe means today,” said Jacques Derrida toward the end. “Europe’s heritage is irreplaceable and vital for the future of the world”... more»
No aesthetic taste is not the same as bad taste. It’s a failure to call an art work “bloody good” or “trash” in the first place. Good art is then rendered merely “interesting”... more»
Darwin’s bulldog for our time, fiery champion of evolution, Richard Dawkins, can seem, relaxing at home, like a chamingly pleasant country vicar... more»
In 1951, Joe McCarthy used the word “liberal” without blinking as a term of praise. Today, even liberals shrink from the word. What’s going on?... more»
Is “Islamic democracy” a tangible possibility? Is it meaningless, like “Jewish science,” or contradictory, like “people’s democracy” in Cuba? Iraq might have the answer... more»
Our idea of Princess Diana evolves. What stays the same are the clapped-out courtiers, posh lowlifes, and fleabag turncoats who cash in on her memory... more»
The most widely loved faces in the modern world are cartoons, says Jonathan Franzen: Mickey Mouse, the Simpsons, Tintin, and, simplest of all, Charlie Brown... more»
As 1800 planes approached Hamburg that night in 1943, those who were out and caught sight of the spectacle knew what it had to mean: the end... more»
So you thought those excited crowds marching in the streets of Kiev simply want freedom? How naive. Don’t you recognize a CIA coup detat when you see one?... more»
Every man needs a wife – and every woman too. So, ladies, just move in with a woman. No problems. Until she flops, beer in hand, in front of the TV for a Red Sox game... more»
Derrida devoted his professional life to obfuscation and increasing ignorance in the world, “teaching” academics how to read badly and think carelessly... more»
If red-state evangelicals and blue-state liberal academics ever joined forces, there would be no stopping them. But first, they must... more»
The self-perpetuating potential of a liberal economic order implies a self-perpetuating liberal social order. Freedom is possible. Thus spake the neocons... more»
Jackie Derrida (yes, that was his real name) was born in Algeria, ever aware of its history of French largesse, Vichy Jew-hating, and Arab warmth... more»
Minting his every phrase afresh, Flaubert avoided clichés like poison. For example, the cliché, “avoid like poison.” Clive James on a literary genius... more»
Philistine commonly means a “person deficient in liberal culture.” Yeah, maybe. But philistines might just be people who understand the culture all too well... more»
When Robert Lowell used in his poems words lifted from anguished love letters from his ex-wife, was he cruelly violating a trust? What is great art worth?... more»
Planet Charles. The Windsors want us to believe they are both ordinary and special. It’s a tough tightrope to walk, and the Prince of Wales has just fallen off, again... more» When Charles speaks, Alex Beam is all ears.
Peter Singer and George Bush were born on the exact same day, but they’re still rather different chaps. An article on Bush, for instance, would not need a “Parental warning
The histories of the novel and of storytelling ran together until the early 20th century, when novels began to drift away, infected by self-consciousness and irony... more»
Bad film directors have no ideas, good ones have too many. But great directors have just one idea to guide them on their way... more»
Freethinkers all: Tom Paine, Susan Anthony, Margaret Sanger, Clarence Darrow. But does their history make a story?... more»
Okay, maybe Lucrezia Borgia was the greatest whore in all of Rome. But incest with her dad, the Pope? Not likely... more»
Just say no to oval tracks. For model train enthusiasts, it is all those little realistic details that count... more»
Jorge Luis Borges was a man of pathological timidity. Many a love affair was nipped in the bud by constant phone calls to Mother... more»
Toni Bentley’s memoir is an intimate one, the blurb says. Yes, about as intimate as sodomy in Yankee Stadium... more»
Does striptease simply exploit the naked female body, or is it playful, spoofing expression of female freedom?... more»
Far from being indoctrinated as imperialists, Victorians knew little of the Empire from school and showed less interest in it... more»
Michael Dirda is a fine guide to literature, a Virgil leading book lovers on a tour of his own Reader’s Paradise... more»
“Positive violence” sounds like a modern euphemism, but it’s not: in truth, it’s as old as the First Crusade... more»
Bad academic writing isn’t so bad, say academics. In fact, it can be rather good for you. Profound. Or maybe radical. Or something... more»
Most of the ringleaders of 9/11 were born-again Muslims from secular schools who’d been in the West, cut off from family: a new kind of Islam... more»
For Russia, the U.S. was once a menacing, cutthroat anti-state of irresistible allure. Times change, fascination persists... more»
Science does not follow a clear road to truth; better is the idea of a meandering river in flood and drought... more»
The National Environmental Resource Fund has a budget of millions, a radical Green agenda, and uses murder to pursue its ends... more»
Christopher Isherwood went to California to reinvent himself. He managed, finding a world he could adore... more»
Dom Perignon was employed by his wine-making abbey in the 17th century to get the bubbles out of champagne. He failed... more»
Common enemies can make odd friendships. Consider, for instance, British Communists and Islamic radicals... more»
Tristan and Isolde did not grasp how their moment of bliss might sustain a lifetime’s happiness. Death was the only alternative... more»
Not all fanaticism and kitsch: Christian consumers have mixed views on pursuing the fruits of faith in the earthly marketplace... more» ... more»
Where shall wisdom be found? In accepting life’s finitude, its limits, says Harold Bloom. Okay, but why? Give us an argument, please... more»
Margot Fonteyn was perfectly fashioned by nature for the physical rigors, fiendish politics, and unforgiving geometry of ballet... more»
Atlanticist Europeans stand against Euro-Gaullists. Red-state Americans against blue. It’s a complex political Venn diagram... more»
Anton Chekhov’s fiction is so sublime, so precious because he is a writer who lets life have the last word. Which it does anyway... more»
Anyone who thinks that ours is dark time should ponder the life of Anna Akhmatova, who survived as a defiant poet under Stalin... more»
Beauty survives, however maimed or diminished in our time. Umberto Eco knows the multitude of its forms... more»
Nothing ever again excited Truman Capote’s passion like In Cold Blood. After it, his life became a shambles of drugs, booze, and lawsuits... more»
Science fiction has been made subject to much petty sneering by literary types. If they were to be fair to the likes of H.G. Wells... more»
Latin is a useful tool for the modern writer. But, good grief, the Romans! So racist and sexist. Those Gauls were victims of genocide... more»
It’s as if Dickens had gone to China and found the same human raw material England offered. Mo Yans Big Breasts and Wide Hips... more»
Bernard-Henri Lévy is aware that he is a “war tourist” who can catch the next plane home. That awareness is part of his insight... more»
Blue-state elites will only come to succeed in government, Michael Lind argues, when they stop sneering at the folks they plan to lead... more»
Russians feel nostalgia for a past, Soviet, czarist, whatever. They always did. Vassily Aksyonov knows... more»
Assisted suicide: all right-thinking people are for it. Those opposing are merely religious zealots. Oh? Don’t be too sure... more»
Self-esteem: improve it and you can improve crime stats, teen pregnancy, drug abuse, and pollution. Another great idea from California... more»
Academic plagiarism: sure, it’s not to be admired. But busy professors need to find ways to “conserve energy”... more»
Attacking Iran is cheap and easy, if the Iranians stay put and do nothing in response. Think they will?... more»
A food taster for the White House? Yes, plus news of Uncle Dick and what the twins are up to. It’s Laura Bushs Christmas letter... more»
Alexander the Great makes up a one-man media industry that has consumed no end of papyrus, parchment, paper – and film... more»
Yushchenko’s poisoning tells us much about post-Soviet politics in the Ukraine. It also tells us about the worlds most politicized chemical... more»
When Einstein was old and not working much, he still went to his office “just to have the privilege of walking home with Kurt Gödel”... more»
In considering North Korea’s plutonium capacity, wishful thinking is dangerous. Worst case scenarios have to be faced... more»
Free elections: a last chance, argues Michael Ignatieff, for Iraq to exit from the black tunnel of Ba’athist rule and the chaos of civil war... more»
Thorstein Veblen’s ideas, as true today as ever, reflect the “personality of a stick of dynamite wrapped up to look like a stick of candy”... more»
Marlon Brando, Charlie Parker, Jackson Pollock: each of them a genius in the American art of improvisation... more»
Is philosopher Antony Flew, till now stout defender of atheism, having second thoughts?... more» ... His theist critics are gleeful.
Universities are obsessed with diversity. So why are they among the least diverse places in the world when it comes to politics?... more»
Corporate greed, the ruin of traditional ways of life, share-price bubbles, imperialism: it all began in the 1750s with the East India Company... more»
Hyper-anxious moms and dads now control and coddle to make sure their kids never fail, never skin a knee. Not the best way to grow up... more»
Not just a camel, but a whole caravan through the eye of a needle. And shoes for fleas. Hey, there will always be a Russia, too... more»
Mammograms allow you to take a true picture, spot a tumor early, treat it aggressively. All makes intuitive sense. The trouble is... more»
The economies of Pacific Island states are too small to be viable. Some aid groups want us to believe it. It keeps them in business... more»
Why is Kim Jong Il the only fat man in Pyongyang? It’s a good question, but don’t even think about asking it in North Korea... more»
Nicolas Sarkozy would be a French president for a post-ideological age. Like Blair and Clinton, he’s not a man for grand, lofty visions... more»
“It’s like being gay but then turning around and having a straight affair.” Artists go back to representation... more»
The Holy Grail. Nice to have something to search for when there is not the faintest hope of finding it – because it doesn’t exist... more»
In Ceausescus Romania, “there was nothing to buy, but we had money. Now, there’s everything to buy but we have no money”... more»
Human nature will never oppose us, said the torturer O’Brien in 1984. ”We create human nature.” It’s the dystopian dream... more»
Theater’s an easy medium. It travels by bus, doesn’t need electricity, and the audience need not be literate. Perfect for Afghanistan... more»
William A. Mitchell, food chemist, cooked up Tang for astronauts, Pop Rocks for kids, as well as Cool Whip and quick Jell-O... more»
And all the books are free. It is a bookstore somewhere between being a Salvation Army shop and a sacred Buddhist shrine... more»
The evolution of the eye in the Cambrian amounted to a move in a Darwinian arms race. There is a lesson in it for the Pentagon... more»
The French mathematician Le Verrier discovered Neptune, along with Briton J.C. Adams. At least, that’s what we always thought... more»
Don’t brine that bird! Rather, air-dry it. Turkey science, as Harold McGee explains, also calls for an ice pack on the bird’s breast... more»
Oliver Stone’s Alexander pouts, weeps, and holds his breath, while some old geezer tells all between battles. Yak yak yak, blah blah blah... more»
“It’s the White House here, could you come and tell President Bush about Europe, uh, next Thursday at 1:45?” Timothy Garton Ash already had an engagement, but... more»
Jonathan Miller loathes critics, who are “parasitic invertebrates,” “tsetse flies,” or “midgets talking into loudspeakers”... more»
The Japanese internment of WWII is in most historians’ eyes beyond the moral pale. So who is trying after all these years to justify it?... more»
Personality tests, if they worked, would be very useful. Psychology is a science, right? So what’s the problem? Malcolm Gladwell explores psychology’s swamp... more»
In its effort to constrain U.S. power, Europe may lose sight of dangers far greater than any posed to the world by America. Here lies potential for tragedy... more»
American films were once ads for a way of life. Sophistication, depth, and a cool, complex manner gave them appeal. They’re now gross, distorted exaggerations... more»
To create a livelier intellectual climate on campus, professors must end the routine setups that pass for dialogue, says Mark Bauerlein. Universities need genuine dissent... more»
J.M. Barrie’s desire to return to boyhood – in Peter Pan and in his personal life – may seem creepy and pathetic to us. But maybe that’s more our failing than his... more»
Encyclopedias live by fact and truth. Could a community of amateurs be trusted to write a good one? Robert McHenry’s answer uses the odd analogy of a public toilet... more»
It’s tough to write satire, since it has a way of turning into reality. In 1960, Terry Southern wrote a satirical novel that has at last come true... more»
God made the Israelites wander in the desert for 40 years before the promised land. But Iraq must be a democracy today. No, yesterday. Anne Applebaum explains... more»
Cinderella is a tale of bad parents, a good little sister, and money. So, come to think of it, is King Lear. So how do theorists explain that?... more»
Kierkegaard exaggerates for effect and witheringly attacks opponents. He writes for that one single reader who understands him, who takes him at his word... more»
Carnivorous capitalism is arrayed so powerfully against the poor that even if they find work they can’t keep a job or get ahead. Well, yes, in some cases. In others... more»
The Great War. Moonscapes of dirt and filth, corpses sunk in mud, tree stumps, shell craters. It’s too much: the mind rebels, scrambles the circuits, shuts down... more»
Natural science, some say, is just materialism and atheism by another name. Is there an intelligent way to bring God back into science?... more»
The invasion of Iraq has given Osama bin Laden a historic gift, vindicating his claim that Americans as Crusaders. It also refutes Bernard Lewis... more»
Getting started with works of art or literature can pose creative problems. But for many of the greatest writers, genius lies in knowing exactly when to stop... more»
The blogging revolution is making its mark on the media, to be sure. But a real revolution does normally require people to get out of the house... more»
P.G. Wodehouse’s world was a sun-dappled Eden untouched by literary fashion, sex, or WWI – “a slight friction in the Balkans,” as Jeeves called it... more»
American literature confines itself to a vague narcissism of ethnic, religious, sexual, class, and regional franchises, says Stanley Crouch... more»
Pope John Paul II isn’t senile, but he’s hardly lucid either. So why not retire? Well, Jesus did not climb down from his cross... more»
E.E. Cummings, spoiled little rich boy. But his selfishness came from his single-minded pursuit of the sublime in art... more»
The British Empire was so vast, varied, and distant that there never was a unitary imperial culture Britons might live by... more»
So how do you saw a woman in half? Well, first find yourself a willing assistant. Then read the right book... more»
To find out what people in Pakistan really think about their world, it can help to enjoy tennis and lemonade... more»
Media scandals tend to come shrouded in drear and doom. But Jayson Blair’s antics at the New York Times demand a good horse laugh... more»
Arnie Schwarzenegger’s body does rather look like a condom stuffed with walnuts: repulsive, perhaps, but also... more»
You can wager all your money in a casino in one throw or parcel it out with cautious bets. What do the odds favor?... more»
“I love my dog/ his padded paws/ at Christmas he’s my/ Santa Claus.” Ted Kooser, new U.S. Poet Laureate... more»
Liberals share in common a touching certainty that they are right. Liberalism, says John Gray, is a missionary faith... more»
The white over black gap in academic achievement is due to an uncertain mix of class, black culture, and white prejudice... more»
Witchcraft accusations were a hall of mirrors where an old woman’s neighbors saw their own fear and greed in the shape of the witch... more»
Independence of mind and love of liberty were prized values in the 18th century – even among slave owners... more»
C.S. Lewis needed his God, to be sure. As masochist and fallen angel, he also needed bossy women in his life... more»
We were comfortably in orbit around our middle-aged sun, we thought, in the suburbs of an average galaxy: a Norman Rockwell universe... more»
Ed Ricketts’s Cannery Row lab was a magnet for writers, scientists, prostitutes, artists, academics, and bums... more»
What might you expect when a novelist in his 70s takes on undergrad life? Voyeurism. It’s Peeping Toms Juvenile Jaunt... more»
P.G. Wodehouse was not really disgruntled by the idea of sex in fiction. But he was not exactly gruntled, either... more»
Islams bad press tends to obscure Christianity’s history of dogmatism. Didn’t Jesus demand complete surrender too?... more»
“My faith frees me,” says George W. Bush. “Frees me to make decisions others might not like.” Well, yes... more»
Once upon a time, before the press became the media and reporters became little gods, A.J. Liebling showed what journalism could be... more»
William Faulkner was dead against the mistreatment of blacks, but at the same time, alas, wanted to be loyal to the state of Mississippi... more»
William Faulkner, bored out of his mind in a classroom at Ole Miss, could not guess how much he would one day be studied by academics... more»
The ethics of plagiarism have turned into a narcissism of tiny differences: Those are my words aren’t they? Isn’t that my idea?... more»
Wernher von Braun was the ultimate rocket builder, with his eyes set on the moon. If he had to build V-2s along the way, so be it... more»
Nanobots, smallpox, loose nukes, oh my! But just which terrorist threats are the ones we should take seriously?... more»
Relativism, whether moral or epistemological, gets people hot under the collar. Consider the case of Jacques Derrida... more»
Eva Hagberg thought at age 22 it was time to throw her first dinner party, so for help she picked up Mrs. Draper’s 1941 guide to entertaining... more»
Relations between China and India began with trade, but extended everywhere in the life of the mind, says Amartya Sen... more»
Most students enjoy college experience, a survey shows. And who wouldn’t, with high grades for rather little study time?... more»
The TV dinner: It came, it thawed, it conquered. Folks loved breaded chicken, mashed potatoes, and peas as much as they loved Lucy... more»
Colin Powell was not willing to spout any form of words handed to him. When he said time had run out for Saddam Hussein, he meant it... more»
While North Koreans starve, Kim Jong Il has built ten palaces with golf courses and private cinemas. How long can he get away with it?... more»
Infertile women who were prayed for became pregnant twice as often as women who weren’t. That was the media report, anyway... more»
“When I was a little kid,” says Eminem, “if I’d see somebody on TV, even if it was a commercial, I’d think they were rich”... more»
Despite a diet stuffed with meat, cream, butter, and cheese, just 10% of French adults are too fat, compared to the U.S.’s 33%. Why?... more»
Scientists before WWII formed a small group subject to normal social controls. Now science is huge, and research fraud... more»
Iris Chang, whose book, The Rape of Nanking, described one of the 20th century’s worst atrocities, has committed suicide... SF Chron ... San Jose Mercury ... NY Times ... LA Times ... more
“I’m a little husky,” Dame Edna said, sounding rather sexy. “I’ve spent half the night with little Rod Stewart”... more»
And what if McElligot’s Pool were linked by underground rivers to Brazil or to Tibet? It’s Dr. Seuss’s fable of globalization... more»
Lost recordings of the great pianist William Kapell, who died in an air crash in 1953, have been found in Australia... more»
Cosmetic neurology: the fix for brains that have trouble with algebra or fear spiders. It’s coming, whether bioethicists like it or not... more» ... more»
Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews had the same oppressors, Amos Oz likes to remind us: European colonists and racists... more»
Claudia Márquez’s little boy was distraught: “Mommy, don’t speak evil of Fidel.” Father was already in prison for 18 years... more»
Theo van Gogh, libertarian who managed to offend everyone, attacked Islam and paid with his life. Leon de Winter knew him... more»
Think of any piece of music you know and “play” it in your head. Where in the brain is the music playing? What is it doing to you?... more»
Economics is only a dismal science when it predicts doom for human beings, treating them as the parasites of the planet... more»
Neocons ignore left-wing critics or chew them up and spit them out. But they have critics on the right too. Francis Fukuyama... more»
Ever dream of sucking brains out of a corpse? Deelish! Just sign up as an extra in a cheap Romanian horror flick... more»
Barry Goldwaters ghost hovers over tomorrow’s vote. Might the losing party turn out to be the long-term winner?... more»
A Jesuit missionary gave a clavichord to Ming Emperor Wan Li in 1601 for court eunuchs to play. It was the start of something... more»
Edward Said was a stickler for getting his facts right. Except, it seems, when it came to criticizing Hannah Arendt... more»
When she moved to Kabul, she worried about rockets, bombs, and the Taliban. Little did she know that it was being a woman... more»
In their simplicity, the Amish were Ozzie and Harriet’s “Ozzie and Harriet.” But did you ever really try to churn your own butter?... more»
As the art form most swayed by money, film should not care about philosophy. But ideas make a difference in Asian cinema... more»
Thanks for the memories, but... Sure, a memory drug might be beneficial, but how cluttered do you want your mind?... more»
The Red Sox win the Series? No, not if Dennis Overbye says they will. You see, there is baseball, and then there is quantum baseball... more»
History is in sad disarray. Its bestsellers are often shoddy, its academic work jargon-ridden. As for plagiarism... more»
The search for new life-saving medicines is risky and costly. Unless you take some old drug and relaunch it with a big ad campaign... more»
He wore a short, rose-pink tunic and had elegant curling hair that came down to the middle of his chest. A bit of a dandy, that Leonardo... more»
Intelligent design: “A waste of students’ time to subject them to it.” Try telling that to the folks from the Discovery Institute... more»
Such good intentions. NGOs insist that the worlds poor have clean water and power. So long as they are not exploited... more»
The Middle East is nothing if not complicated. To see how complicated, just take a trip to the movies... more» ... Or stay home and watch TV.
The Guardian has launched a project that has Brits writing to Ohio voters urging them to ... to what? Ohio voters are now writing back... more» ... Guardian in hasty retreat.
Independent scholars add to the sum of knowledge, enjoy themselves, and never have to grade term papers... more»
Great works of art can stand the heat of criticism. It’s the almost great ones that, alas, caramelize under the fire of relentless discussion... more»
Drugs are verboten in sport. But what about classical music? What if beta blockers really do help performers make great music?... more»
Alone among condiments, it’s ketchup that delivers sweet, bitter, salty, sour, and umami in one hit. Heinz does it best, says Malcolm Gladwell... more»
He was a Hungarian Jew and lifelong Zionist. Why should we pay any attention at all to Raphael Patai’s views on the Arab mind?... more»
Jacques Derrida, philosopher of deconstruction, is dead... Chronicle of Higher Ed (new link) ... NYT ... Washington Post ... LAT ... Reuters ... BBC ... Le Monde ... Telegraph ... Guardian ... Spiked ... Wall Street Journal ... n+1 ... Independent ... New Republic ... National Review ... Cornell Univ ... American Prospect
Too bad about the Doha round of the WTO. It could have pulled 144 million people out of poverty by 2015. As for world peace... more»
Luang Prabang thinks of itself as an Indochinese Oxford. It has pride in its culture and its identity as a relic of Asie Française... more»
Mass media can no longer present an ideal of the pretty, says Umberto Eco. Our age enjoys an orgy of tolerance, and polytheism of beauty... more»
The greatest equation: is it from Pythagoras? Maxwell? Perhaps it’s 1 + 1 = 2. The keys are elegance and richness... more» ... The top twenty.
“The more I read my father’s Motorcycle Diaries,” writes Ches daughter, “the more in love I was with the boy my father had been”... more»
A Third World country called the United States became in time the world’s top economy – with help from a man named Cyrus McCormick... more»
A split screen isn’t a two-shot. Ask Jean Renoir or Orson Welles. And explain the answer to the directors of the Bush/Kerry debates... more»
The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2004 was awarded to Elfriede Jelinek, an Austrian novelist, poet, playwright, and translator... more» ... more» ... more» ... more» ... more»
Scumbag! That’s what they called Clinton, and even Mrs. Kerry uses the term. Oh well, bloody used to be Britain’s worst swear word... more»
Vladimir Putin has mourned the death of the Soviet Union as a “national tragedy.” He’s on the way to turning Russia into a dictatorship... more»
Adventuress and survivor: Olga Chekhova was Hitler’s favorite actress and a charming spy for Stalin’s NKVD... more»
Stanley Crouch on hip-hop: “neo-Sambo mugging or scowling” with “gold teeth, drop-down pants, and tasteless jewelry”... more»
Nancy Drew: feminists laud her “girl power” image while conservatives love her well-scrubbed middle-class values... more»
George Washington seems so cold, distant, intimidating. We need to move beyond the monument to know the man... more»
Generalization and example, perfectly combined, thinking small and thinking big, incident and rumination: the art of the essay... more»
Nietzsche saw Buddhism as a religion for an old, exhausted civilization. Fits India. And maybe California too... more»
Napoleon cost Europe at least four million lives and began the long, tottering decline of France itself... more»
Communism survived Stalin, and also preceded him, which makes it hard to compare the USSR with Hitler’s Germany... more»
Gustav Mahler’s life clanged with the sound of the lofty and the banal, the grand and the puny, bumping against each other... more»
Did Stephen Jay Gould see a Tyrannosaurus when he was five and become imprinted? Maybe not, but scientists begin somewhere... more»
Whoever wrote Genesis, its new translator, Robert Alter, says, he began at the top of his form. Alter’s form isn’t bad, either... more» ... more»
The French Enlightenment exalted a bloodless Reason to bloody effect. The British preferred moral sentiment... more»
Women can be as radical and anti-status quo as they want, but if they can’t be bothered to get out and vote... more»
Great writers who want their memories honored but don’t like comparison can get bad writers for their biographies. Graham Greene... more»
Male sex is now all about nice drugs. Wrigley has patented a chewing gum that enables erections – and gives you fresh breath... more»
The Verrazano Bridge is so long that the curvature of the Earth makes the tops of its towers a full inch farther apart than their bases... more»
Textbooks that whitewash the world provoke only contempt from students, who know they are being taken... more»
Isaac Bashevis Singer wrote of love, passion, and of faith. His knowledge of sin was, uh, not exactly theoretical... more»
Birdwatching is not only a sport and a science, but also near to religion. Yes, those who pursue it might be odd, but... more»
E.E. Cummings celebrated the ordinary, reviled pretention, scourged conformity, ardently championed the individual against the machine... more»
His voice is gorgeous, but Pavarotti finds tedious technical issues trying. It doesn’t help that he can’t read music... more»
Godzilla has so far starred in 28 films, and more are to come. This giant, radioactive lizard has a certain appeal, but what is it?... more»
Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing? Stephen Hawking wonders, and so does Roger Penrose... more»
Genghis Khan: it’s time we knew the truth about this caring, big-hearted guy. He gave people a real sense of choice... more»
Russian moms give their kids bread slathered with butter and caviar the way American moms give theirs vitamins... more»
Lucrezia Borgia: an icon of female monstrosity, her name indelibly stained with murder, incest, and depravity... more»
Airports: once sky and grass, now exemplified by Charles de Gaulle in Paris: a hideous, chaotic, chilly mausoleum... more»
With some enriched uranium, a little knowledge of physics, and Internet surfing, a crude nuclear weapon can be made in about a year... more»
Of ancestors, we have many. Of concestors, only about forty. Richard Dawkins can guide you to them, back into the primeval slime... more»
An audacious Pizzaro pitted 168 men against 80,000 Incas and won. Gen. Custer was equally confident. Perhaps a tad overconfident... more»
Gloria Vanderbilt’s sex memoir is without the slightest tinge of self-knowledge. It is written from a ground zero of complete bafflement... more»
Was Franz Kafka human? Many of his most persuasive characters are animals: a mole, Josefina the mouse singer, or poor Gregor Samsa... more»
Sherlock Holmes fiction and the Holmes persona are wildly overrated. People are entitled to their harmless obsessions, but let’s get real... more»
James Wolfensohn is both a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for the World Bank – which badly needs both men at the helm... more»
Who is the Dark Lady? Did he loathe Ann Hathaway? Did Gwyneth Paltrow really have to dress as a boy to get the part of Juliet?... more»
The Soviet Union is so dead and gone it seems unreal, absurd, a crazy joke Russians played on the world... more»
The Democrat/Republican divide has not been so deep since the Civil War, says Simon Schama... more». And whose fault is that?, asks Kate O’Beirne... more»
Salman Rushdie knows the risks of posing a challenge to Islam. The murder of Theo van Gogh shows how real the dangers are, says Irshad Manji... more»
We have no living artists who stand with Picasso or Matisse, and legends of modern art are in a storybook past. So what is Moma to do? Robert Hughes wonders... more»
Crack babies: the tiniest victims of the drug epidemic. Low IQs, illiteracy, damned to lives of poverty or prison. Medical fact? No, just media myth... more»
Consider Argentina: a well-watered land rich in natural resources, like the U.S. Yet today Americans are wealthy, Argentinians poor. Why the difference?... more»
The discovery of tiny, flat-faced “ape-men” on Flores raises a question, says Desmond Morris. How would we regard them if we met them today?... more» ... more»
Climate change could harm the welfare of the world’s poor. So should we address it as our first priority? Maybe not... more»
Does Tom Wolfe even own a T-shirt? Some nice khaki shorts? But admit it, you’d be disappointed if he didn’t turn up in that immaculate white suit... more» And he’s voting for Bush.
Muslim pride depends on a rhetoric of military power and honor. And when the West props up the likes of Gen. Musharraf, it’s rather stupidly playing along... more»
Waiting to see the Mona Lisa has all the thrill of standing in line at an airport check-in. The crowd pushes forward, cattle-like and passive... more»
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is one of the great souls of our age. He is also among its most unfairly maligned. No, he is not an illiberal proto-fascist for Holy Russia... more»
Catcher in the Rye and The Old Man and the Sea: two of the most beloved books in American literature and, by any reasonable critical standard, two of the worst... more»
For Edward Said, the big picture in music lay in the arrangement of tiny details. The key for him was not force in tonal sound, but power in musical thought... more»
A love of books. Okay, it is a form of madness. But a pathology that combines history, the aesthetic, and a desire to preserve knowledge can’t be all bad... more»
It’s haunting to read through the yellowed news clippings of the 1960s. The clock was winding down and no one knew how the story would end... more»
Academic journals: tight space, careful editing, peer review, and demands for excellence. Applies across the board, except – oh dear! – for the law reviews... more»
Do we face a protracted global war between the West and the Islamic world? No, says Sadik Al-Azm. 9/11 signaled the last gasp of Islamism rather than a beginning... more»
As Protagoras, put it, “I have no means of knowing whether gods exist or not, or of what sort they may be.” Maybe, but the idea of gods is somehow finer... more»
Che Guevara strode in just after midnight with a coterie of friends and bodyguards, in the black beret, his shirt open to the waist. He was incredibly beautiful... more»
Imagine a revolution that ought to change all, but in the end leaves everything as it is, giving us easy comfort and normalcy. It’s The Da Vinci Code... more»
Dieting for Jesus: the forms religion takes in modern America beggar the imagination – and smash the stereotypes, says Alan Wolfe... more»
American empire may succeed in its fashion, says Tony Judt. But what shall it profit a country if it gain the whole world but lose its own soul?... more»
From David Hume to Adam Smith to James Boswell, Edinburgh was hospitable to the best science and most radical free ideas. Atheism, whisky, and talk, talk, talk... more»
Michael Ledeen’s uncle was a Russian anarchist who came to the U.S. in search of freedom, and found it. Ledeen wants it for the whole world. In fact, he insists... more»
Baseball caps, tattoos, swearing, spitting, and fighting. That the British lower classes are being imitated by uppers is part of a whole cycle of degradation... more»
Liberalisms only hope for survival lies in stressing class interests: the inability of working people to afford healthcare, gain housing, or quality education... more»
Torture and terror are twisted into a knot of pain and paradox. They betray body, mind, and human spirit. To descend to one takes us to the level of the other... more»
Take a nice, sensitive U.S. male, drop him in Moscow, and in weeks he’s a sexist pig. His apartment’s a sty, he smokes unfiltered Camels, drinks his vodka straight... more»
Suppose a historian spices up the story of a dramatic event with few imagined details. The color of a dress, a few inner thoughts, the weather. Okay, why not?... more»
Boys born in Russia today face shorter lives than in Bangladesh. Heart disease, alcoholism, TB, and AIDS are epidemic in Russia. Women are not having babies... more»
Suppose a drug could hand us total happiness. Pangs of conscience gone, the miseries of failure or grief reduced to mere pathologies. But what then of personality... more»
Diagramming sentences, a lost art loved by English teachers, loathed by many a student, was the most exciting thing ever in the life of Gertrude Stein. No, really... more»
Walter Benjamin predicted that the proliferation of reproductions of art would eradicate the aura of the original. He was dead wrong. So was Glenn Gould... more»
Dumbing down takes many forms: art that is good for you, museums that flatter you, universities that increase your self-esteem. Culture, after all, is really about you... more»
The machetes chopping off heads in Africa — with flies, corpses in the sun, wails of grief, stench — are separated from UN bureaucrats by a huge and irreducible gulf... more»
A city that persists in calling its favorite sports team the Redskins should think twice before building a National Museum of the American Indian. Or three times... more»
Brooklyn was the fourth largest city in the U.S. before it joined New York. Were it separate, it would still be the fourth largest city in the U.S., bigger than Philadelphia... more»
Improving ourselves to death: DVDs must now include study guides. Directors instruct us on how they made their forgettable movies. Art, however trashy, must teach... more»


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