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Nota Bene Archive

Jail for insult to royalty
Procrastination facts
Itzhak & Co. synched it
Striking a new chord
How not to write
Strong, silent types
Korngold: talent or genius?
Pleistocene and paint
Wilde, child abuser?
My Holocaust memoir
Art and the recession
Joy of sex
Richard John Neuhaus R.I.P.
Tintin is gay
Twilight of the color photo
Joan Bright Astley R.I.P.
Local Weirdos
Cold War classics
Karl Lagerfeld on furs
“America is finished!”
Still paging Mr. Salinger
Trash TV addict
“You know” Caroline
U.K. libel law
Dickens and white Christmas
Christmas primer
Fashionable allergies
Newton’s birthday
VHS is winding down
Risk-taking is sexy
Einstein’s wife
Obama’s speechwriter
Jane Austen addicts
9th Symphony = CD length?
Darwin’s legacy
Why publishers fail
Rejection letters
Living next to a Wendy’s
Kids dictionary changes
India is an ally
Obama as Cicero
Brainy men healthier
Tipping is down
Odetta R.I.P.
Mocking Thomas Kinkade?
Roget’s words
Emanuel Ax
Rolf Potts profile
The Bad Sex Award
In praise of the turkey
French maids
Awkward group photo
Lévi-Strauss at 100
Rude to Marion Barry
Mafia manners
Hamlet wore a bra
Classical music prefs
Immigrant women
Martin Amis
Barbaric or hygienic?
Antony Flew
Drinking and praying
Henry James’ “object”
Philip Gourevitch
Good toothpick?
Steak ’n’ gravy
That awful Lomborg
Scent of a Führer
Homeopathic quacks
R.B. Kitaj R.I.P.
Would-be book review editor
Childhood blindness
The Kingdom
Slutting up Vivaldi
Who’s your cousin?
Weird visual illusion
Britain’s crime cameras
Fats Domino
Atheism dustup
Hidden charms
Levittown at 60
Syphilis was chic
Italy’s big babies
Terry Eagleton
100 global warming effects
Museum of Sex
What’s a neocon now?
Glenn Gould
New art ’zine
Best newspaper books
Video games as art
Vincent van Gogh
Nice flirtatious men
Did the Bard do it?
Bollinger’s speech
Sports cheaters
The biofuel solution
Marcel Marceau R.I.P.
Happy hedonists
Rushdie on blogs
Greatest travel books
Alex wanted a cracker
The Choc Doc
Kill Larry!
Why make art?
Champagne and breasts
Wodehouse types
Compliments earn tips
Burger crime
Alex the Parrot R.I.P.
Women read more
Art and money
A new feminism?
Literary boredom
God’s algebra
Dianamania! Yawn...
The Kamasutra
Condom nations
What every home needs
Foreign words
Gut feelings
Toilet stall etiquette
Spectacular stats (video)
Diana/whore complex
Grace Paley R.I.P.
Eat an ortolan, Wiki style
Stuyvesant High School
“Bloodthirsty lesbians”
Peace through God
Bad writing (audio)
Cultures commit suicide
Richard Serra at MoMA
Hitler’s 78s
Greenhouse moralizing
Kahlo’s last secret
Bergman’s commercials
On the Road at 50
Joy of Scrabble
Theory of affluence
So-called food miles
Raul Hilberg R.I.P.
They’re killing rock
Animals that “talk”
Gory lion pix
PBS & Mrs. Einstein
Unconscious brain
What else can Disney ban?
In praise of editors
Unjolly Roger
Rent an American
Phone tower dangers
Green Revolution II
Shock! Rain in Britain!
School names
Amateurs ruin the web
Tiny brain OK
Calcium cartel
Praise for Conrad Black
Stupidest fatwas
The Queen and the BBC
Don’t share that problem
Speed ticket insurance
Who killed Antioch?
Racist Jane Austen
Harry Potter hits puberty
Why I love fat men
Silent men
Human Flower Project
“She literally exploded”
Jews and IQ
Birds like new songs
Brilliant news graphics
Babies are liars
The Six Stages of E-mail
Writer in Castro’s jail
Are gays icky?
Movie credits, sigh
No bad authors
Death TV
That quixotic don
British theatre critics
Hitchens’s big hit
PowerPoint issues
Alterman on Peretz
Science and faith
Antioch College R.I.P.
Rudolf Arnheim R.I.P.
Wu’s Wu in China
Book dedications
My granny the forger
Rape accusations
Critics fired
Muhammad is No. 2
Royal Air Force pin-ups
Moving violations
“Fire Ward Churchill”
Alcohol and dementia
The time you waste
Free concerts?
Science of disgust
Limbo — seriously
Dickens meets Disney
Why have books?
On writing well
Law to help musicians
Young narcissists
Soviet military maps
Pope’s new theology
Book spines
Vacuum energy
Jewish outbursts
Patricia Cornwell sues
John Rawls
A Strauss primer
Mother’s Day is a lie
Amateur audiobooks
The Secret
Amartya Sen
Hitchens’s God
Man vs nature
Video games/violence
French bashing
Can France be saved?
Museum crowds
Happy Danes?
Vonnegut’s exit
David Halberstam, R.I.P.
Terry Eagleton
Easterly on Wolfowitz
Smart dating
Hans Koning, R.I.P.
Blaming Charlton Heston
Imus’s enablers
New Boris Godunov
Douglas Hofstadter
Militant atheists
Big Brother and Orwell
New Hatto scandal
Illiterary blogs
Met at the movies
Internship softball
Obama’s smoking
Non-power of prayer
Cat plays piano
Lucky chimney sweep
Me speak English bad
Think-tank tips
David Rattray R.I.P.
Kickboxing Geishas
Harvard’s new boss
Steve Martin’s virgins
Germany is at war
Bookstore blues
John Searle
A Supreme Court week
Colts? Bears? Huh?
Molly Ivins R.I.P.
Google’s library
Grumpy employees
Faith-based geology
Gentle sex, free money
Dear Mr. Ahmadinejad
Alfred Hitchcock
Money and newspapers
Art market stupidity
Hrant Dink R.I.P.
Tarzan’s children
Beckham’s retirement
Obama smokes
Wasting police time
Miracle parrot? No
Breathe in, girls
Historian vs cop
Bill O’Reilly
Carlo Ponti R.I.P.
Grand Canyon’s age
Historian jaywalks
Angry Norman Mailer
Woody Allen festival
Amazing parrot
Your shower curtain
Math in The Simpsons
Judith Regan
Russian airports
New Mozart juvenilia
Norman Mailer
Sociopath next door
God to Dawkins
Kim’s big fizzle
Monica’s MA thesis
The key to Shylock
Boot vs. Wheatcroft
Flashbulb memories
New gravity theory
YouTube vs. boob tube
Ethnic Baghdad
Pyramids and concrete
Tylenol trafficker
Philip Gourevitch
The bathtub Eureka!
An Indian problem
Mrs Adam Smith
Sleeper Cell
Hating Los Angeles
How you walk
Polonium-210 for sale
The Taliban Codex
Hitchens/Clive James
Kremlin’s revenge
Blogging nuns
Zola and the Jews
Physics legends
Thallium as poison
Stolen Goya found
This Arts & Letters Daily Archive page contains links so far removed from the main page in 2010. Most of the links in this Archive will eventually become inert. Because we do not retain copies of linked pages, we are unable either to trace or to retrieve this older material. This Archive is our only record of links that have been featured by Arts & Letters Daily. You can also view archives for 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999 and 1998.
Universities admit and take money each year from hundreds of thousands of students who are destined to fail. Is this right? Marty Nemko asks... more»
Speed is but one part of the motorcycles inherent mystique. There is also the constant danger, and the skill and knowledge required to ride... more»
The truths of blogging are provisional, its ethos collective and messy, says Andrew Sullivan. It brings writer to reader in a way that is visceral, even brutal... more»
The array of worst-case natural disasters in the new “Climate Change” exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History is downright biblical in character... more»
From celebrity culture to white identity politics to “framing” political constructs, we are all postmodernists now. Tim Cavanaugh explains... more»
Like it or not, the era of cheap and abundant food appears to be drawing to a close, and Michael Pollan has a message for the next president... more»
Lolita at fifty: is this a novel of love or lust? Is it a romantic classic or evasive testimony to perversion? James Kincaid asks the questions... more»
“I love you, Gary,” quoth the bird, in its owner’s voice, thereby revealing her infidelity. Betrayed by your own parrot! It’s an old story... more»
When it comes to waging war, as Ralph Peters explains, passion trumps practicality, while pride overrules rational self-interest... more»
American Carol is yet another message movie: this time the conservative answer to all the efforts of Hollywood liberals. It is also a very bad film... more»
The progressive, rights-based political thought of today may feel it has no use for Thomas Hobbes Leviathan. It ignores this great work at its intellectual peril... more»
In the U.K., alcohol is a relaxant, an emollient, a crutch, a relief, an excuse. Sarah Lyall has many British friends who in the U.S. would be viewed as functioning alcoholics... more»
False Apology Syndrome: a rich but poisonous mixture of condescension, self-importance, bad faith, loose thinking, and indifference... more»
The victimization of blacks is America’s original sin, and privileged blacks have milked it without shame, says Gerald Early. It’s a sucker’s game... more»
Will Russia again become a rich and influential nation? No time soon, says Murray Feshbach. Russia is not just sick, it is dying... more»
In Albania, lawsuits fly over who owns or can complete buildings. Thus among Greek and Roman ruins, a new style is seen: Unfinished Brutalist Post-Communist... more»
Students starting college this year likely never dialed a telephone. So began the first Mindset List, meant to show how remote students’ experience is from their teachers’... more»
The White House was a mess. Drunken revelers in the lobby. Boozers romping through the bedrooms. And all this 140 years before JFK moved in... more»
When people talk about today’s financial troubles, they often invoke 1929. Better that they might think back a little farther, to the Panic of 1873... more»
Without beauty, art becomes a kind of fetish or idol, untested by the rest of life. Only an authentic sense of beauty can animate aesthetic experience... more»
John Stuart Mill was a feminist, and there is no doubt that the engine of his feminism was his friend, lover, collaborator, and wife, Harriet Taylor... more»
Sha Na Na, with greased ducktails and cigarettes rolled into T-shirt sleeves, did not so much describe the sock-hop 1950s as invent it... more»
When your mortality swings into view, you can be thankful for life – and whiskey. P.J. ORourke has cancer, in the most humiliating place... more»
Hudson River School artists wanted to paint God as manifest in nature. So can you have a Hudson River School revival without a revival of God? James Panero asks an awkward question... more»
Intellectual fashions fade. “Deconstruction,” “postmodernism,” “hegemony.” The use of these words tracks their cultural importance – and they are in decline... more»
Travelers want authenticity in foreign lands. But hasn’t this search become a fool’s errand? Rolf Potts is a travel writer without illusions... more»
David Foster Wallace’s voice was the voice in your own head. But what was the voice in his head?... A.O. Scott ... Morgan Meis ... Joshua Ferris ... Tim Kreider ... Michiko Kakutani ... Monica Hesse ... Colby Cosh ... Mark Caro ... Sam Anderson ... Christopher Hays ... Richard Woodward ... Tim Martin ... Steve Almond ... Peter Craven ... Julian Gough ... Lev Grossman ... Sven Birkerts, Joyce Carol Oates, et al. ... Fritz Lanham ... Elizabeth Wurtzel ... Verlyn Klinkenborg ... Alex Rose ... satire
When a baby is about to be born, you must boil a lot of water. And people in Biblical times had ragged clothes but perfect teeth. Yes, its movie wisdom... more»
Leona Helmsley learned the hard way that money does not buy happiness. Nor will it buy it for her cute little dog, now also a rich bitch... more»
Atheism may not be easy, but it offers the honor of facing our condition without despair or wishful thinking – with good humor, but without God... more»
Is stupid making us google? Always feel like you are having to drag your wayward brain back to that gray text? So does James Bowman... more»
The big one’s sold, but Damien Hirst has other rotten sharks waiting in fridges. Robert Hughes finds the whole thing obscene... more»
Scrawled on that cardboard sheet: “Need money for beer, drugs, hooker. Hey, at least I’m not shittin’ you.” Panhandling is a plague... more»
Liberalism’s notion that morality is merely rights and obligations empties life of ethical meaning. We need a return to pre-modern virtue ethics... more»
Computer screen reading breaks down with dense argument, modernist poetry, long political tracts, and texts that need careful attention and slow reading... more»
“My outrage,” says Nassim Taleb, “is aimed at the scientist-charlatan putting society at risk using statistical methods.” Bad statistics can even blow up the banking system... more»
Béla Lugosi’s amalgam of nobility and evil, his narrow eyes lit by tiny spotlights, his voice hinting at the deepest depravity – and all in black and white... more»
European social democracy can renew itself in its basic values and thought. Wish lists of painless demands have always been the curse of center-left parties... more»
Incomes for top people in a wide variety of jobs that do not need a BA are higher than average incomes for many jobs that do require one. Maybe a reason to skip college... more»
After a summer of blockbuster comic-book flicks and record ticket sales to women, why have we yet to see a superheroine movie?... more»
Beleaguered liberals have instinctively re-created a united-front mentality suitable for crisis. Those who break ranks, like Sean Wilentz, are vilified... more»
People vote Republican and liberal intellectuals are mystified. For their part, Republicans say that Democrats “just don’t get it.” What is this “it” they don’t get?... more»
Thirty years ago, U.S. academics carried with them to England copies of David Lodges comic classic, Changing Places. But times have changed, writes Elaine Showalter... more»
Tom Stoppard’s Rock ’n’ Roll portrays what is really an extended argument between Václav Havel and Milan Kundera about Czechoslovakia under communism... more»
Anti-intellectualism, consumerism, iPods and TV, political correctness, postmodern relativism: are they making today’s college students the stupidest generation?... part 1 ... part 2
We need an inner environmental movement about our human psychological nature to match our concern with outer nature. Lionel Tiger explains... more»
“Russians talk about globalization, of course. But behind this is an absolutely black and white picture: It’s ours. It’s theirs. Everybody is enemy or vassal”... more»
Writing about poetry, particularly praising contemporary poetry, is a fine but extremely difficult art in itself. Ron Rosenbaum explains... more»
Russia may seem strong, but it is getting weaker all the time, its population falling by a million a year. And the corruption. And the Muslim problem... more»
Writers are genuinely what they are only when working in ghostly solitude – never when out chatting on the terrace. Cynthia Ozick explains... more»
He was the “Henry Ford of Literature,” a “Voltaire from Kansas,” and “the Barnum of Books.” The greatest American publishing genius you never heard of... more»
Womens liberation, yes! Women across the globe need the liberty to be what they are: not, as radical feminism insists, liberation from what they are... more»
Garrett Hardin’s famous essay, “The Tragedy of the Commons,” asserts that human beings are prisoners of biology and the market. He is wrong... more»
Bullfighting is seen by many as cruel. But it is not merely a gaudy circus spectacle – at its best it is an art form. Well, maybe... more»
Science it not quite at its end, says John Horgan. But the only way to find out how far it can go is to keep pushing against its limits... more»
Vladimir Putin enters the picture, seeking to salvage Russia from the chaos and mass poverty of the Yeltsin era. Oil helped him out... more»
Should British teachers accept student’s spelling misstakes merely as “variant spellings,” or does this denigrate Trooth in education?... more»
“Faith depends upon belief in things that cannot be proved,” says P.J. ORourke, “and I can prove that more people flunk physics than flunk Sunday School”... more»
We Americans can adjust our compass heading, says John Lewis Gaddis, if we can make ending tyranny once again our priority, as it was through most of our history... more»
“I sit with Shakespeare and he winces not.” W.E.B. Du Bois’s words declaim in a way that echoes that most extraordinary of poets, John Milton... more»
Alexander Solzhenitsyn was a seer of evil, a writer and witness who made clear that illusions about communism were not just stupid, but wicked... more»
“I was a teenage atheist,” writes Julie Burchill, “and it brings me no shame to say that. But it certainly makes me smile”... more»
The childhood many British parents give their kids is so awful that it is hard to conceive of worse, at least on a mass scale. Even UNICEF agrees... more»
The charm of old cookbooks is that while few would seriously cook from Fanny Farmer or Mrs. Beeton, each remains a time capsule of its era. Consider Vincent Price’s... more»
Why are most Americans so willing to have an essential part of their hearts sliced away and discarded? What’s with this obsession with happiness?... more»
Conductor Daniel Barenboim worries about the “moral responsibility of the ear.” Can a sense organ carry such a burden? We don’t ask our penises to possess a conscience... more»
Charles Darwin showed that evolution not only made the human body what it is: it also shaped the human mind – how we think, feel, and create. Mark Czarnecki explains... more»
Will Russias invasion of Georgia at last end the dreamy complacency that took hold of the world’s democracies after the Cold War? Robert Kagan wonders... more»
Hollywoods judgments on its movies have been as self-regarding and boneheaded as those of academics have been faddish. Then there is David Thomson... more»
Virginia Woolf’s public sympathy with the lives of poor women was always at odds with private recoil.” Consider her servants... more» ... more»
Rimbaud, Hefner, Lennon, Eminem: how fascinating to watch these men, as they age, grow from being rebels to being rather lovable chaps... more»
The Florence Nightingale of myth was gentle and gracious. In truth, she was acerbic and uncompromising in her fight for cleaner, better hospitals... more»
Mia Farrow’s plan to get Blackwater into Darfur may look like an odd fantasy of a rich eccentric, but war-hungry celebrities are a serious threat... more»
The massacre of Gen. Elphinstone’s army of 16,000 soldiers and camp followers in Afghanistan in 1842 prompted revenge attacks. They did not help... more»
Charles Schulz’s one regret: he never once let Charlie Brown kick the football held out for him by Lucy. What was it about that unkicked football?... more»
It is not just an idea, it can now and again be a real feeling: that English is not really your language; rather, you are merely its speaker... more»
Han van Meegeren fecit. The spectre of forgery chills the receptiveness, the will to believe, without which the experience of art cannot occur... more»
Paul Theroux has spent many a night trying to sleep in yet another smelly rail car shared with strangers. For his readers’ pleasure, of course... more»
Katherine Mansfield’s moods went from feverish glee to raging discontent. She was vicious when cornered; her friends slipped in and out of favor... more»
Thrasymachus thought it better to try to be happily unjust, than stupidly just. Does Raymond Geuss follow in his line?... more»
Gore Vidals mocking, disenchanted patriotism will always be a resource for all who wish the American republic well... more»
In 1885, Czar Alexander III gave the Czarina an astonishing Easter present: an exquisite egg of gold, diamonds, and rubies made by Carl Fabergé... more»
When Keats wrote of “some watcher of the skies / When a new planet swims into his ken” he meant Herschel. Science dazzled the Romantics... more»
Emily Posts own life story testifies to the redemptive power of repression. She became Emily Post by doing what Emily Post advised... more»
Heston Blumenthal’s fiendish recipes will not be tried by many. Green tea and vodka in liquid nitrogen, snail porridge, smoky bacon ice cream... more»
Knabenphysik: Heisenberg, Pauli, Dirac: none achieved anything as important after age thirty as they had before... more»
Math wasnt Einsteins strong point, but how bad was he? Very, very bad, says a ruthless new book... more»
Sam Johnson defined a lexicographer as “a harmless drudge.” He never foresaw the armed and dangerously funny Roy Blount Jr.... more»
Much of the perfume-buying public sprays itself with high-priced smells that are the fragrance equivalent of airport novels... more»
In the well-scrubbed West, it’s easy to assume that personal cleanliness is an objective mat­ter. So try a visit to India... more»
For the uninformed youngster who thinks easy sex was ever the way, Philip Roths strange new novel may be the perfect back-to-school gift... more» ... more»
For Dostoevsky, murderers, suicides, child molesters, and blasphemers actually quicken the deepest Christian faith... more»
Madame de Staël brought to the world a mixture of self-regard, self-delusion, and raw, overpowering intellect. And other charms as well... more»
Patrons can make life easier for artists. But while the money may be good, it tends to come with strings, or even handcuffs, attached... more»
Star, raconteur, mensch. Cheeta has at last told all, and you’ll never again think of Hollywood memoirs in the same way... more»
Yes, he’s a celeb who wears pricey suits. But Bernard-Henri Lévy is a real-deal philosopher, too, one who gives us much to ponder... more»
One of the saddest stories of the 20th century is the fate of air travel. In 1900 it was a dream. By 1999 it was a tedious chore... more»
Can we ever know what was in the hearts of Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson, the man who owned her?... more»
China was once thought to have no great tradition of science and invention. The reversal in thinking on this question is owed to Joseph Needham... more»
Libertarian paternalism” is a phrase with more than a whiff of paradox about it. Is it a third way for politics and economics?... more»
Richard Rorty said no standpoint outside human descriptions exists from which to decide truth or falsity. He was a corrupter of the youth... more»
A man must be adaptable to win in life, he said. Yet Niccolò Machiavelli, the ultimate expert in winning, lost it all... more»
Simon Schama’s hero in his latest book is America, vindicated by history as a land of everlasting optimism... more»
Han Van Meegeren: a second-rate painter who turned to forgeries for easy money in the 1920s. And what money he made... more»
We live in an age of autobiography. Yet what twenty-something has earned the right to publish her spiritual journey?... more»
In the summer of 1857, an emigrant wagon train from Arkansas was massacred as it crossed Utah. The killers were not Paiutes, but Mormons... more»
Pompeii: a city where dogs howl, late-night drunks carouse, there are not enough lavatories, and everyone has bad breath... more»
Oscar Wilde was a man made of books, from Plato to Pater. The story of his libraries is the story of his life... more»
Proust can keep his madeleines. For some people, nothing brings back childhood like the inky smell of Batman comics... more»
White Castle created the template in 1916 for all fast-food restaurants in the world. And thus was the hamburger born... more»
Sushi is just what “White People” want: foreign, expensive, healthy, and hated by the uneducated. White People are not snobs or anything... more»
It’s not enough to be antifascist; one must also be in principle antitotalitarian. That about sums up Bernard-Henri Lévy... more»
In Heinrich Himmler’s view, Slavs were “Mongol types” to be replaced with blond Aryans in the east. Russians were mereredskins”... more»
Every unhappy book launch is unhappy in its own way, except when it involves Islam. Then the plot is rather familiar... more»
Fables for children work not by pointing to a moral but by complicating moral thinking. Consider Babar the Elephant... more»
In 1940, Churchill sent a group of young, handsome British officers to Washington to charm the power elite and... more»
Feeling a sense of loss for a God you dont believe in anyway? Isn’t the idea rather soppy, Mr. Barnes?... more»
The entry of Britain and France into the Greek War of Independence is the first humanitarian intervention. It wasn’t the last... more»
A black hole is a kind of one-way gate in the universe: Stuff can fall in, but nothing comes out. Easy, eh? Not exactly... more»
Whatever divides religion and atheism, much more important is the potential of both to promote a sense of compassion ... more»
Wittgenstein family: among the richest, most talented and eccentric in Europe, a family of geniuses and suicides... more»
In 1904, Max Factor huddled in a forest with his wife and children, hunted by the Czar’s men. Hollywood was still a long way off... more»
Intelligent Design tries with evidence and logic to show that life was designed by an intelligent agency competent to the task... more»
Why are some countries rich, others poor? Why did the Industrial Revolution happen in England? Why is Africa still mired in poverty?... more»
“Interface” for “meet”? Maybe soon the word it will become a synonym for “kiss,” as in: “Interface me, baby!”... more»
What are lies, and what do they mean in political life today? Jacques Lacan has no answers, just dinner party anecdotes... more»
A great contribution of the 20th century was to let the chaos and cadences of the world, the sounds of the street, into music... more»
Josef Stalin hated genetics: if genes are physical structures passed down through generations then nature isn’t changeable... more»
Except for issues of cleanliness, sex, and food, the British are just like Yanks. Oh, yes, and then there’s language... more»
Organic food” may bring to mind hairy people peddling goat cheese. But we also might think back to Edmund Burke and the 18th century... more»
Bernard-Henri Lévy, a Sartre in billowy, unbuttoned white shirt, has his finger on the geopolitical zeitgeist like no other philosopher... more»
Julian Barnes is not frightened about dying but not happy, either. “I don’t believe in God, but I miss Him”... more»
Bacardi Rum had been a patriotic firm with a long history of supporting social welfare reforms in Cuba. Then along came Castro... more»
When Giordano Bruno mounted the pyre, a crucifix was held to his face. A witness says that he turned away angrily... more»
Emily Dickinson’s gnomic poems go down like shots of triple-distilled whiskey. After the jolt, they radiate... more»
The tabloids create an alternative universe each week for four or five million people clutching their quarters at supermarket check-out racks... more»
Most conquerors try to convert their subjects. Hitler’s empire was built on the idea of exterminating the natives... more»
Going Off the Rawls. How libertarians have adopted the liberal left’s favorite modern philosopher... more»
A cache of the earliest ever classical music recordings, made in Russia by music lover Julius Block in the 1890s, have now come to light... more»
Love and hate: the same brain circuitry is used in both extreme emotions – except that hate retains at least a semblance of rationality... more»
Martin Luther sparked the Reformation in Wittenberg 500 years ago. While the city still uses Luther to attract tourists, only 10% of its people are Protestant... more»
Do tales of witchcraft and wizardry, Harry Potter novels, for instance, have a negative effect on children? Richard Dawkins wants to know... more»
At last, for a mere $100,000, you can clone your dog or cat, and own it – or a genetic Xerox of it – for the rest of your life... more»
Ever since he could speak, Brandon, now 8, has insisted that he was meant to be a girl. So his parents decided to go with his wishes. An easy case? Not exactly... more»
Pollsters take a lot of abuse, but polls are valid guides to the citizenry: not just in politics, but in life circumstances, priorities, hopes and fears... more»
From directly to into your hippocampus. You won’t have to read War and Peace, you’ll just download it into your brain. Something like that... more»
Catholic culture wars. As T.S. Eliot well knew, tradition can’t be blindly inherited, but has to be recovered for every age, at the cost of great labor... more»
Over 900 died in the most infamous mass suicide in American history. Letters now throw light on one Los Angeles family’s Jonestown story... more»
Odd entries hang their wikiexistence on “scholarly” notes to Dr. Who and Star Trek – TV shows Wikipedia folk dignify as the “canon”... more»
Darwin might not have loved botox, but he would have understood why women in particular are keen to smoothe those wrinkles... more»
Many scholars think media manipulate the masses, turning ordinary people into emotional mobs. They never see themselves in the mob... more»
Well, Excuuuuuse Meee! Most murders begin with a trivial insult. Then there are political campaigns. Emily Yoffe explains... more»
Trust and responsibility. With their mass readership drifting away, newspapers must focus on the “leadership audience”... more»
Life without my noisy boy. “You can’t tell just by looking at us. There isn’t even a name for parents who have lost children”... more»
Glenn Loury’s mother first explained to him how someone could be “black,” though they looked “white.” Race identity involved personal choice... more»
Beneath the picturesque German landscape lie thousands of unexploded bombs, each more and more unstable with every passing day... more»
The Dickinson sisters’ neighbor was quite shocked: “I went in there one day, and in the drawing room I found Emily reclining in the arms of a man”... more»
Gordon Gekko no more lived on Wall Street than you live on Main Street. To work through the current mess, we need precise names and precise addresses too... more»
Prodigies like Picasso may start with a clear idea of what they want and then execute it. Late bloomers like Cézanne grow into their art as into life... more»
David Levine, whose brilliant caricatures have charmed readers of the New York Review of Books for 44 years, is going blind... more»
Is the electorate stupid? No, just human, and thus predictably irrational. Of course, that in itself may be bad enough... more»
Biodiversity. Life is more varied in the warm climes near the equator. Making sense of that has confounded biologists for 200 years... more»
Does religion make people nicer? Only if they think Big Brother in the Sky is watching. Ronald Bailey explains... more»
French novelist Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio has won the Nobel Prize for Literature... more» ... more» ... more» If the Nobel Committee lived in an alternative universe... more»
“This is the most important election in American history.” Yeah, they say that for every election that comes along... more»
Bernard-Henri Lévy and his friend Michel Houellebecq have had enough: “France has vomited on us for too long”... more»
In 1947, a Bedouin herder tossed a stone in a cave on the Dead Sea, and heard the shattering of pottery. This led him to some dark parchment fragments... more»
The 9/11 Truthers have found some new friends, as the Russian government warms to their psychotic conspiracy fantasies... more»
Classical music audiences are going gray and will soon die.” Yeah, sure. And when was it not so?... more» ... more»
What has long been known to all who pay attention is now official: the Nobel lit prize committee doesnt have a clue... more» ... more» ... more»
The idea of a pristine Amazon jungle, untouched by humans, is a myth, a creation of the Western imagination... more»
Why does loneliness feel cold and sin feel dirty? Our inner emotional states touch deep metaphors that stretch across cultures... more»
Yes, men are hopeless on dates, and tend to say the most idiotic things. On the other hand, women can be stupid too. Why not try a little humor?... more»
We’ve been around for two million years, says Stephen Hawking. To last another million years, we will have to boldly go where no one has gone before... more»
Nietzsche knew best. Morality comes not from society, not from pure reason. It is innate. To know it, we need experimental philosophy... more»
Iliad and Odyssey: Homers tales of pride and rage, massacre and homecoming, have insinutated themselves in our minds and culture... more»
It’s the office China’s writers and artists dread and hate most: the Communist Partys Propaganda Department. Ha Jin explains... more»
When you were a kid, were automobile headlights eyes for you? Was that chrome grill a set of teeth? You were not alone... more»
Where do old clothes end up? They may not be worth much at the Salvation Army, but they are big business in Haiti... more»
A scorched-earth policy toward museums and monuments of historic and artistic value is the Russian way in the attack on Georgia... more»
Rupert Murdoch is utterly without charm. He does not do introspection. He’s right there before you: what you see is what you get... more»
Do you hate those wretched, sweet floral perfumes? Try a dab of “Wet pavement” or “In the library” behind the ear... more»
Philosophy is not for everyone, says Kelly Jolley. “It’s aristocratic in the sense that any selection based on talent is aristocratic”... more»
Group cohesion may be one reason for the global reach of story telling. Another is that fiction is a proving ground for vital social skills... more»
Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, with its statistics, anecdotes, and horror stories, still makes a compelling case... more»
If there’s anyone unaffected by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, it’s the Lehman family. They’ve moved on... more» ... more»
Piano recitals in the 19th century often resembled The Ed Sullivan Show more than the serious, hushed concerts of today... more»
Democracy on the wane? In country after country, democratic reforms are in retreat. Blame the middle class... more»
The book business as we know it will not live happily ever after. Even this era of decline may one day look like the last great golden age... more»
Creationism should be taught in science classes as a legitimate point of view, says the Royal Society of Great Britain... more» ... update ... Reiss resigns
The more women and men have equal rights and similar jobs, the more their Mars and Venus personalities seem to diverge... more»
First move for a con man: tell your victim a story that reveals your similar anxieties, and forge a “mutual understanding”... more»
David Foster Wallace, writer of dark, manic irony, has committed suicide... NYT ... NYT appraisal ... WP ... LAT
From Casanova’s first orgasm to Bob Hope’s last jokes, history is a series of landmarks, both inspiring and absurd... more»
A Tigers Tale. In Texas, where you can own a pet tiger, the booming exotic animal trade has grim consequences... more»
There’s a 1/1000 chance that you, your family, and the whole human race will die. So where’s the precautionary principle when you really need it?... more»
Ben Franklin liked to present himself as a small-town boy bewildered in the big city. This urbane, highly intelligent man was anything but... more»
South Bend, Indiana is an unlikely place for a thriving Russian community with a high percentage of piano virtuosos, but history has strange twists... more»
Jimmy Slyde was not just a tap dancer: his slides were an expressive idiom for him to tease the beat, to delay and then catch up... more» ... video
Beyond boozy comradeship felt toward strangers in bars, and a few moments of euphoria, what’s to be said for being a sports fan?... more»
They don’t read Paul Theroux in English departments. “I’m too rude about people,” he says. We do live in a sensitive age... more»
Behavioral economics is not just a gizmo added to traditional economics; it is a big departure that will deliver a new way of seeing the world... more»
After a full day at the office, Franz Kafka had dinner and got to writing about 11:00 PM. And what if he’d had more time?... more»
Why are kids so unimaginative? Yes, that was the question Teresa Belton asked. For an answer look at TV and daydreaming... more»
Otto Preminger, hearing a group of fellow émigrés speaking Hungarian, said, “Don’t you people know you’re in Hollywood? Speak German.” He had a point... more»
Ossetian hero: Victor Kaloyev murdered the air controller he felt had killed his wife and children. Now out of prison, he finds new fields for revenge... more»
International terrorism, for now, is but a puny apocalypse. But at any moment, with the right weapon, it could go from nothing to everything... more»
In the 1949 Revolution, a few Americans went to China to help build the Maoist dream. Sixty years later, one of them is still there... more»
Is there a performance drug that could actually increase the fairness of sports contests? Yes, there is. Carl Elliott on beta blockers... more»
The Cuban judge sat with his feet up on the desk reading a comic book. The sentence for opposing the Revolution: thirty years... more»
The mini-cow is the solution to rising food prices. No taller than a German shepherd, it gives 16 pints of milk a day. Plus, it mows the lawn... more»
Hans Monderman loved cars. But he wondered if mature automobile societies could, in essence, act like adults. He was the Traffic Guru... more»
Save the Males: feminism today has neutered men and deprived them of their noble, protective role in society, says Kathleen Parker... more»
“She’s imaginative, clever, educated,” says Karl Lagerfeld, who has used Carla Bruni as a model. “She knows how to behave”... more»
Human brains evolved to be belief engines: we want to explain everything, including our deepest mystical experiences... more»
Stick with physics, he told Francis Crick. The young Freeman Dyson was sure Crick had no future in biology. Yet another scientist trying to predict the future... more»
Abolish the SAT. He used to think of the test as a friend of the little guy, as did James Conant, who urged it on the country in the 1940s. But today... more»
Religion is not primarily about God, but about the human need for the sacred, argues Roger Scruton. It is not the cause of violence, but the solution to it... more»
Europe, please take your avant-garde. U.S. opera companies prefer to appeal to opera-lovers, not spit on them, and American audiences have grown 46% in twenty years... more» ... Reminder: earlier link
“There is a far better way to fight Holocaust denial than to rely on the transitory force of law,”says Deborah Lipstadt. We must appeal to objective historical truth... more»
He was a psychoanalyst for his age – but, alas, not ours. By the time Erik Erikson died in 1994, his fame and reputation had evaporated... more»
Say what you will about his drunken antics, Boris Yeltsin’s Russia had independent TV and no political prisoners. He did not send goons to crush peaceful protests... more»
With over a billion Muslims living in lands rich in resources, why is the Islamic world so distant from science and discovery? Pervez Hoodbhoy wonders... more»
Over 3,800 people in the U.S. died last year waiting for a kidney transplant, and over 1,000 became too sick for one. It’s a grim picture and getting worse... more»
Between the nuclear threat from hostile Iran and the deadlocked peace process, we may ask, can Israel survive? But also, has it a right to?... more»
An achievement of civilization has been to put in place the rule of law, and to humanize animal realities with manners and rituals. The rule of law fares poorly in rap... more»
American prisons employ more people than Ford, G.M., and Wal-Mart combined. With 5% of the world population, the U.S. has 25% of its prisoners... more»
Should we fear or cheer for a world whose kids have derived elements of their childhood morality from Harry Potters Manichaean realm?... more»
“France and the French left will not surrender to any competing social or economic model. France will never become a carbon copy of any other country”... more»
In the arms race between doping and detection, the winner is he who takes the most drugs and gets away with it: the luckiest cheater... more»
Marching under the banner of old-time religion, mid-century conservatism made the world safe for the secular, hedonism of Aquarius. Republicans joined hippies... more»
For the fine arts to revive, they must recover their spiritual center, says Camille Paglia. “Profaning the symbols of other people’s faiths is boring and adolescent”... more»
Edward Rothstein refilled his cup, drinking with his fellow Cokatarians in faithful communion. He was visiting Coca-Colas very own museum... more»
Vladimir Putin can’t grasp Britain doing harm to its own interests over one human life. An alien concept to him, says Garry Kasparov... more» ... Trickle-down crime
How do you feel about the American hostages in Iran? No, not the guys back in the 1970s, the ones being held right now. Haven’t heard about them?... more»
Five days on a Baltimore city jury is a little bit like five days in a life-boat with the same people. Mute attachments tend to form... more»
Africans appreciate help from the wider world, says Uzodinma Iweala. But every time some rich white celebrity tells us how much he’s done for starving Africans... more»
Aristotle understood friendship, its uses, its pleasures, and its ultimate good. He would also have understood how email can keep it alive... more»
Henry de Montherlant’s view of France in the early 20th century is as acute as earlier portraits by Balzac and Maupassant. Yet who knows him now?... more»
End of dreams, return of history. With the Cold War over at last, many thinkers blissfully hoped that conflict between nations would fade to a memory... more»
Dangerous ideas: science has a habit of turning them up, and the internet has a habit of blowing their cover. Let’s face them squarely in open debate, says Steven Pinker... more»
Richard Nixons final campaign is for vindication by history. It’s not going well, if you ask academics, but his ability to win never hinged on the faculty vote... more»
Antigovernment activists of the right and the antiwar activists of the left have some beliefs common, and maybe a presidential candidate too: Ron Paul... more»
Brussels should accept its fate as an international city and switch to English, like a kind of European Singapore – although with waffles, frites, and dirty streets... more»
Despite their social deficits, autistics can be fine systematizers. They are also, Simon Baron-Cohen observes, more honest than other people... more»
“I often have to arrange talks years in advance,” says Noam Chomsky. “Asked for a title, I suggest The Crisis in the Middle East. It has yet to fail”... more»
Call themscum.” After all, that’s what they are. Why do we mince words in talking about terrorists? Afraid they’ll hate us even more?... more»
Tides of opinion about Alger Hiss have ebbed and flowed since he left jail, writes Ron Rosenbaum. Yet another rehabilitative moment is now upon us... more»
How do you like Harry Potter?” It’s not really a question, it’s a demand to recite a loyalty oath. As for Ron Charles and his ten-year-old daughter, they’ve had it... more»
English may be the language for science in Europe, but people are 10% dumber working outside of their native tongue. Why not German science in German?... more» ... auf Deutsch
America has a long obsession with road travel and road books. Jack Kerouac is part of this picture. So, fifty years before, was Jack London... more»
Muslim ghosts are large in number and perfectly wicked. They are old, and thus used by New Orientalists to produce nightmarish readings of history... more»
British writers dislike both Blair and the Iraq war. But scarcely a single major poet or novelist looks beyond such issues to the global capitalism that underlies them, says Terry Eagleton... more»
“Going into Iraq was, in effect, punching our fist into the largest hornet’s nest in the world.” Final thoughts on Bush’s war from David Halberstam... more»
Cant, n. Expression of conventional, trite, or unconsidered ideas, opinions, or sentiments; esp. insincere use of pious phraseology. Laugh if you will, but... more»
It is 18 years since tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square. Yet every year since, tens of thousands gather in Hong Kong with lighted candles in memory of those who died... more»
The absent-minded professor was once a kindly if unworldly figure. Now we’re shown the prof as failed writer and sexual predator. Has eros no place in the relation between student and teacher?... more»
Percy Shelley liked the Delphic slogan “Know thyself,” but in life went for the voluptuous self-pity that animates so many of his poems... more»
A gang of neocons and religious believers has undermined the natural optimism of American democracy. Anyhow, that’s the idea... more»
Long before Che Guevara shot his first counter-revolutionary, Garibaldi invented the idea of the modern freedom fighter. Unlike Che, he really liked freedom... more»
Colin Powell once said of Iraq, “If you break it, you own it.” Maybe a nice epitaph for Condoleezza Rice’s career... more»
Philip K. Dick went from genre hack to literary genius. He wrote his speed-fuelled novels in the 1950s, went mad in the 70s, and died at 53 in 1982... more»
Katrin Himmler had just begun research on her monstrous great-uncle when she met Dani, an Israeli, with whom she had a son in 1999... more»
Lousy batters are less likely to be hit by pitchers. Why put on base a guy who will have a tough time getting there anyway? Baseball economics... more»
Why were Schumann’s late works so full of melancholy and a strange jerkiness? Yes, he was depressed, almost insane. But... more»
Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and John Paul II. Like them or not, they were three people who changed their world, and ours, forever... more»
Herbert Spencer may have coined the phrase “survival of the fittest,” but that does not mean he was a Social Darwinist... more» ... more»
Whaling might have survived the Civil War, but beef tallow was cheaper than spermaceti in candles, and lard oil undersold whale oil for lamps... more»
Mata Hari went before a firing squad and into popular lore for spying for Germany. Her real crime was being a “shameless” woman... more»
People love biographies. They learn about themselves by reading about the lives of others. Besides, people are prurient: they lap up gossip... more»
“If the Culture Ministry is nowhere to be found, cultural life is everywhere.” The vital life of culture in America can look strange to French eyes... more»
Ineptitude directed British policy in India more than a cynical desire to divide and rule. Still, Churchill used Hindu-Muslim hatred... more»
Looking for the real Abe Lincoln is like looking for Moby Dick, Rosebud, and the silver lining, all at the same time... more»
Cheap sex, bought by girls with cheap clothes and cheaper liquor, at the price of self-respect. Wendy Shalit’s bleak view... more»
Sen. Reuben Castle is a fiction, but with his charm, good looks, and an affability that appeases then disarms critics, he sounds familiar... more»
Sylvia Kristel, Dutch actress who made much of her pert breasts and pearl necklaces, was once the last word in eroticism... more»
Suicide terrorism is used by Al Qaeda to appeal to a new, global audience. But why is that audience impressed? What does it want?... more»
Globalization is a new word for an old process. It goes back to the first people to walk out of Africa 60,000 years ago... more»
Virginia Woolf needed a room of her own, but also a servant to cook and clean while she organized socialist meetings... more»
“I painted the picture so that it would be refused. That way it will bring me some money.” Gustave Courbet knew what he was up to... more»
“The bat flew out of my mouth.” The dicta and jottings of Robert Frost’s notebooks send us back to his poetry with new eyes... more»
Nancy Cunard would not conform, and so was beaten, arrested, disinherited, and declared insane. She did not regret, nor explain... more»
Newspaper reporters were once heroes of the culture, played in films by the likes of Clark Gable or Robert Redford. Not today... more»
Sex is a risk that makes human contact complicated and intoxicating. Women should not be chastised for taking that risk... more»
Is America the new Roman Empire? Sure. It dominates the planet with its armies, economy, language, and culture as much as Rome ever did... more»
Books I havent read. Some things no intellectual will admit to. Such as, for instance, not having read Proust... more»
Where shall we dine? Stockholm? Paris? Port-au-Prince? If you’re looking for a restaurant, choose the city with the biggest income inequality... more»
Suspicion of the public and fear of the future underpin much political analysis these days, with Al Gore a prime example... more»
The Congress of Vienna in 1814 put a lid on Germany and Italy, kept autocrats in Spain and elsewhere, and led to the wars of the 20th century... more»
Political science has become too method driven: it needs to get back to the interests, motives, and actions of real people... more»
Many economists have made careers out of finding “market failures,” cases where freedom has bad effects. Do their remedies work?... more»
Digital technology will end the archaic film distribution system and hasten the decline and fall of the Hollywood empire. Maybe... more»
His is one of the most impressive debuts of a young poet “in recent memory.” But how recent is that memory: hours? minutes?... more»
The Golden Rule and the creation of human freedom and social goodwill are at the heart of the political teachings of Jesus... more»
The logic of Lincolns speeches is a far cry from bullet-points – compared in particular to something like the oratory of Lyndon Johnson... more»
The Bible was the world’s first Wikipedia article. So many later hands have edited the original texts that we’ll never know what they first said... more»
George Kennan’s “Long Telegram” made the right argument at the right time and put him in the pantheon of American history... more»
In 1875, Henry James moved from New York into an expensive flat in the rue de Luxembourg in Paris. His time there was well spent... more»
Creative destruction was central to his whole idea of a capitalist economy. For Joseph Schumpeter, there was no alternative to it... more»
The menial summer job was once an exercise in humbling self-discipline for college students. Now kids have internships, which they pay for... more»
What do the Beatitudes mean? “The meek shall inherit the earth.” Is Jesus making a prediction or a promise?... more»
Racial or religious prejudices, gender bias, ageism. All are strictly off the menu. But what about disparaging a mans height?... more»
Ethnic squabbles, inevitable in the zero-sum game of urban politics, can shape bad attitudes. Consider blacks and Hispanics in Los Angeles... more»
Film noir was strangely at odds with the post-war national mood. Happy, optimistic people liked dark, morose movies... more»
Racial and ethnic diversity is an enemy of civic strength. Robert Putnam’s discovery is bad news for the ideal of the melting pot... more»
A faint heart never won a fair lady, though a soft heart may win a gentleman. And Geoffrey Miller has been busy proving it... more»
Richard Wagner was larger than life in his own time, and is no smaller today. Millions love him, others loathe him – with intense passion... more»
The Humvee was designed to haul bullets and bandages, not take on ambushes or improvised bombs. Yet more armor does not mean more safety... more»
Record companies are aghast at the demise of what was of late their golden goose: the pop CD. But they killed it themselves... more»
The free fall of loves first rush happens at any age. But with older people, it is affected by memories of joy, rejection, or disappointment.... more»
Fighting spam is a struggle, says Brad Taylor. You go on and on, till one side gets tired and gives up. “We just can’t let it be us”... more»
Ingmar Bergman, perhaps the greatest film artist of all time, has died at his home ... AP ... Time ... Telegraph ... Guardian ... Independent ... Wash Post ... Bloomberg ... London Times ... AFP ... Reuters ... NY Times ... BBC ... Guardian various ... Salon ... Independent ... LA Times ... Chic Sun-Times ... NY Post ... Guardian ... CanWest ... SF Chron ... Chic Trib ... Seattle PI ... Slate ... Telegraph ... Boston Globe ... London Times ... LA Times ... Newsweek ... NYMag ... The Age ... Economist ... Baltimore Sun ... Time ... NY Times ... He was a giant of the stage too.
Who can forget the chess game with Death in The Seventh Seal or the dream in Wild Strawberries?
Michelangelo Antonioni, whose difficult 1960s films spurred long nights of smoky argument at sidewalk cafes, has died in Rome at the age of 94... more»
How will students know of America’s actors, writers, artists, or musicians if their history profs never mention them in class?... more»
“The Soviet Union is a land of miracles, and from time to time the KGB likes to create reality.” In 1976, David Satter met two Estonian dissidents... more»
Duncan and Blake: a glamorous, smart, and graceful couple who moved among rich, brainy art world people. Now they are dead... more» ... Duncan’s blog ... Body found
That five-second rule for dropped food is idiocy, of course. But it’s complicated idiocy. Monica Hesse explains... more»
The bonobo is part dolphin, part Dalai Lama, part Warren Beatty. The primate that we, its cousins, wish we might be. Maybe, or maybe not... more»
Heinlein at 100: He sold his first sci-fi story in 1939 for $70, “and there was never a chance that I would ever again look for honest work”... more» ... more» ... more»
“I am not afraid of death anymore,” says Alexander Solzhenitsyn. “I feel it is a natural, but by no means the final, milestone of one’s existence”... more»
Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria has a mind and soul of its own, and is as much a character in “The Alexandria Quartet” as any person... more»
In the age of the five and dime with its soda fountain, Woolworth was king – what Wal-Mart is today. But Woolworth had to die... more»
The idea that parents should be playing with their kids is a modern invention, and not necessarily a good one... more»
The violence in Iraq is without doubt still terrible. But it is slowly ebbing, says Peter Beaumont. There is something going on... more»
What’s the relation between punch lines and laughter? Less than you might think. Robert Provine wanted to study humor, so... more»
People viewed Richard Nixon as “cold and crafty.” This naturally hurt his feelings, so in 1970 he wrote a memo to Haldeman... more» ...original in PDF
Bureaucrats of high-tax nations want tax “harmonization” rather than competition between tax systems. Call it an “OPEC for politicians”... more»
Being a sports writer has never been just a job for S.L. Price. He’d know too much. Or maybe it was not enough... more»
The university Jacques Derrida came to love in the last chapter of his life ended up suing his wife and children. “He would have been furious”... more»
“Every private would tell me, the meanest drill sergeants in the Army were the women drill sergeants.” Dymetra Bass adds with pride, “We had to be tough”... more»
What’s to tell between a banal work of art and one that takes banality as its theme? And where does Damien Hirst stand in regard to this?... more»
Top wines need fine aromatics, ripe fruit, good structure, a sense of harmony, and a long finish. Top wine critics need the ability to taste all this... part 1 ... part 2 ... part 3
At $600 a pound, kopi luwak, a variety of coffee from Indonesia, had better be good. And it is: good in fact to the last dropping... more»
Obese workers earn less per hour than their thinner colleagues. So why should thin people care a hoot about paying to cure the so-called obesity epidemic?... more»
New Victorian couples are all over New York City these days, puttering about their brownstones, or pushing babies through Park Slope in gigantic prams... more»
The Ratzinger Effect: more pilgrims in Rome, more Latin in church, more Gregorian chants, a bolder assertion of Catholic values, and much more money... more»
Polygyny can benefit women, while men do well from monogamy. And beautiful people really do have more daughters: strange truths of human nature... more»
For Richard Dawkins, people like religion the way moths like flames. But he misses religion’s real adaptive value, argues David Sloan Wilson... more»
Can a woman with a literary bent, an editor, find the man of her dreams on the internet? Maybe, though it is clearly asking too much that he should learn to spell her name... more»
Bjørn Lomborg doesn’t want to be a wet blanket, and he hopes everyone has fun at the Live Earth concerts. But he does not think climate change the most pressing issue facing mankind... more»
The body count among Russian reporters is now thirteen murders since Putin came to power. In each case the reporter was working on a story critical of government or business officials... more»
Negative freedom is freedom from tyranny, while positive freedom is the freedom to realize your desires. The latter poses problems for democracy today, says Francis Fukuyama... more»
A prosperous, lucky country turns out to have been founded on genocide. Clearly, Australia urgently needs an intelligentsia to help it emerge from its dark moral labyrinth... more» ... more»
Catholic teaching once knew the evil that came from releasing individuals from moral law. Will it ever return to the idea that Gods justice must permeate relations of capital and labor?... more»
Quelle horreur! A Big Mac with paprika potato wedges dipped in mayonnaise, or a burger on ciabatta with mustard sauce. They hate to admit it, but the French loveMAKdoeNAHLDS”... more»
Coffee houses of the 18th century were “penny universities.” For the price of a cup you could get an intellectual education. Arts & Letters Daily is like that, but cheaper... more»
Sunlight, water, and air are passed about more equally than coal and oil. Green technology, says Freeman Dyson, will narrow the gap between rich and poor lands... more»
Rainbow has always been my song,” said Judy Garland. “I never shed any phony tears about it. Everybody has songs that make them cry. That’s my sad song”... more»
Today’s neo-Malthusians harbor a powerful sense of loathing against the human species. Is it any surprise that some of them actually celebrate non-existence?... more»
Imposing a rigid development ideology on the world’s poor has failed miserably. Fortunately, many poor societies are forging their own path toward freedom and prosperity... more»
Iranians facing hanging have put on the best clothes they had in prison. Men have worn neckties as a symbol of Western culture. Azar Nafisi knows this world... more»
Sure, some girls can sprint well and lift weights. But on the whole, boys are more excited than girls by the use of urine as secret ink. Let’s face facts... more»
“I would have been a happier man if I had been a painter,” says Clive James, “and indeed a happier man if I had been a gravedigger”... more»
Americans were not smarter fifty years ago, Dana Gioia says, but American culture was. Even the mass media liked then to pay homage to a broad range of high human achievement... more»
Is a Democratic majority at last ready to emerge? How will it win? For a serious answer, Rick Perlstein has a proposal: look at how Ronald Reagan won... more»
Nancy Drew and the Mystery of the Aging Demographic. Some people think girls don’t need these books anymore. Justice Ginsburg disagrees. So does Ayaan Hirsi Ali ... more»
For photographer Ashley Gilbertson, the struggle is how to define the mistake-riddled quagmire in Iraq without letting it define him... more»
The Golden Gate is a magnet for suicides, but the jumpers’ bodies are pulled under and lost in the north Pacific. You may leave your heart in San Francisco, but not your corpse... more»
“Angelina Jolie is the best woman in the world because she is the most famous woman in the world.” Yes, Esquire has at last produced the worst celebrity profile in the world, ever... more»
Kingsley Amis’s fictions are reliably amusing and usefully provocative. “If you can’t annoy somebody,” he once said, “there’s little point in writing”... more»
What does a serious confrontation over truth really look like — to an Al-Qaeda fanatic? To the Caduveo Indians? To the philosopher Richard Rorty?... more»
If old King Lear had taken the right pills, things might have turned out better. Goneril, Regan, and Cordelia could have gone on tour, like the Andrews Sisters... more»
Bonos patronizing campaign to “save Africa” paints the continent as a pathetic place whose wide-eyed, infantile peoples need a loudmouth rock star to fight for them... more»
García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, like Cervantes’s Don Quixote, decodes the DNA of Hispanic civilization. It’s a novel that makes a universe... more»
Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy.... Everything else is postmodern chatter.” Surprising words from Jürgen Habermas, but... more»
If the government of China balks at the idea of turning over the levers of the Chinese state to 800,000,000 farmers with primary-school education, who can blame it?... more»
The American left has turned into a skittish, hysterical old lady who lives in the past, falls for pseudo-intellectual garbage, and runs from real conflict or responsibility... more»
If you read literary blogs you know that hell hath no fury like a blogger scorned. For their part, serious writers assume that those who can, do, while those who can’t, blog... more»
Said Christopher, “It was classic Peter: mad, but with a logic to the madness.” Peter responded, “Classic Christopher: spiteful, but with a logic to the spite.” The Hitchens brothers row... more»
Communism destroyed millions of lives, but its critics are now branded “neocons.” Why has the left’s poisoned love affair with it endured? Robert Service wonders... more»
Shouldn’t every educated person be instructed in the great religious and secular traditions, as well as their greatest books? Atheism is not enough... more»
For the dedicated jihadi, killing kids and innocent bystanders with that bomb is okay. But you may have to ask mom and dad for permission... more»
Christian Wiman was raised with “the poisonous notion that you had to renounce love of the earth in order to receive the love of God.” Since hes had his diagnosis... more»
From Jesus to the Enlightenment to Hitler and Pol Pot, then on to the neocons, utopian thinking has much to answer for. Too much, in John Grays new book... more»
Eric Hobsbawm stuck with the Party for many years after the Soviets crushed Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Was this diehard Communist right?... more»
The World Banks billions, by its own account, flow all to the same cause: to end global poverty, disease, and illiteracy. Sounds fine, but... more»
Choose a euphemism, if you prefer, but it was in fact a whorehouse, the finest in Chicago, and the Everleigh sisters ran it with consummate care... more»
Günter Grass was a loner in his SS unit, “though I took care not to stand out. I was a schemer whose mind was forever elsewhere.” True then, true today... more»
White and wealthy, boys of Colegio de Dolores looked forward to futures as pillars of Cuban society. But their fellow student, Fidel Castro... more»
Richard Nixon could be industrious, perceptive, and articulate, but the little flaws piled up, year after year, and in the end left a nasty taste... more»
Mikhail Kalashnikov – Hero of Socialist Labor, honored by Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Yeltsin, and Putin – is still proud of his rifle... more» ... more»
Bryan Caplan regards the views of most voters as irrational prejudices: turned into policy, these prejudices make for bad government... more»
Geology, as much as any science, shows that trying to replace truth with consoling myth will fail – and insult human dignity along the way... more»
The Dangerous Book for Boys is about rocks, bugs, snakes, and woodpiles. It approves of derring-do and the youthful testosterone that fires it... more»
If mutation rates severely limit evolution, how did we ever get the St. Bernard and the Chihuahua out of the wolf? Richard Dawkins wonders... more»
To talk of the “injustice” of how humans treat chickens – those cannibalistic balls of feces and feathers – calls into question the basis of human civilization... more»
Leó Szilárd conceived the idea of a nuclear chain reaction, and thus of the atomic bomb, waiting for a traffic light in London... more»
The Wiki/MySpace/YouTube era of the Web shows what happens, Andrew Keen says, “when ignorance meets egoism meets bad taste meets mob rule”... more»
Green to gold. It’s such a nice idea, Keynes might have felt. And, of course, as Richard Nixon said, we’re all Keynesians now... more»
Mikhail Bakhtin: this once obscure Soviet philologist is now a star of the postmodern West. Terry Eagleton explains why... more»
Richard Rorty called himself a “syncretist hack.” In truth, he was a master maker of philosophical mosaics... more» He taught us to live without certainty.
She lived under one of the most repressive regimes on earth. Yet Christa Wolf still longs for the dreamy illusions of communism... more»
Bake an apple pie? How does a young woman impress others these days without compromising her values?... more»
A-bombs, or the final particles of matter. “There are some things,” Niels Bohr said, “that are so serious that you can only joke about them”... more»
The spread of sushi around the world deliciously confirms that a virtuous global commerce and food culture can coexist... more»
Perversions: what moralists miss about them is a simple, not very furtive fact: they make people happy. Consider the whip... more»
Globalization, not too much, not too little, is what the world needs. But exactly how much is too much? Or too little?... more»
Europe once energized all of humanity with its science, art, and moral ideals. Now it is destined to be a kind of genteel theme park – if it’s lucky... more»
Canadians have never been able to create a comic book superhero of the first rank. The few they have are not fit to hold the cape of Superman. Why?... more»
Godlessness is on a roll, and who knows? The day may come when The Atheist’s Bible will be found in every hotel room across the land... more»
Intelligent design’s way of dealing with biochemistry is “one of the great achievements of science,” rivaling Newton, Pasteur, and Einstein. Oh, yeah?... more»
More people died making V-2 rockets than were killed by them in WWII. We seldom get just what we want from technology... more»
Shakespeare is the first great general of generalization in English, a marcher and maker of rules of thumb, embedded in aphorism and incident... more»
Like the Ancient Mariner, Henry Roth felt he had an albatross around his neck, a crippling memory of sin that could only be removed by telling his story... more»
Weddings are expensive, he told his daughter. So you can have one, or you can have $30,000 to get started in life. “I’ll take the wedding,” she said... more»
Democracy can flourish in India only if every citizen resists the will to dominate and accepts the reality and equality of others... more»
Goth and doom metal are styles that have hung around longer than you’d expect. Symptoms of youth alienation? Hardly... more»
Was Ralph Ellison, as an old joke says, “a disgrace to the Negro profession”? Perhaps, and maybe the remark would have given him a hearty laugh... more»
Diana, early in her marriage, “was a work in progress, while Charles was a work in aspic.” Its a trashy story, told in a vividly mordant style by Tina Brown... more»
Americans believe all people in their land of plenty are created equal and have a right to a spacious freedom – that produces unequal outcomes... more»
At the Roswell Festival, doubt is an alien concept. You say weather balloon? “Puhleeze! We are not fools”... more»
In the 1940s Jean Sibelius conducted an auto da fé in his home. He collected his manuscripts in a laundry basket and burned them in a fireplace... more»
The Economist’s Big Mac Index points to those world currencies that are still rather rare, as well as those that are overcooked... more»
A superpower can lose a war — in Vietnam or in Iraq — without ceasing to be a superpower. But how long can the U.S. hegemony really last?... more»
Speedy Sarko” is into jogging, or as they say, le running. For his critics, it’s worse than undignified, it’s a right-wing, un-French display... more» ... But jogging is right-wing, says Boris Johnson
If any performing artist has ever deserved to have his interpretations made permanent on disc, the pianist Artur Schnabel was the one... more»
The Middle Ages is a period in time. But medievalism just keeps moving forward. Geeking out on medieval quests is as old as Don Quixote... more»
Beverly Sills, great coloratura soprano and lively presence in music, is dead at the age of 78... NYT ... NPR ... Phil Inq ... LAT ... AP ... Reuters ... Playbill ... SF Chron ... Chic Trib ... WP ... Boston Globe ... Newsweek ... NYT
In the main square of Tirin Kot in central Afghanistan, a billboard shows a skeleton hanged on a rope of opium poppies. Does anyone take notice?... more»
Psychologists reduce happiness to a sensation and then regard it as the only thing that matters. Sure, but the Greeks knew a thing or two as well... more»
What is prayer, and how can it work? This is not just a question of religion, but of neurophysics – and logic... more»
Russia: how can a country be so rich and yet have dreadful health care, a declining population, and a corrupt political system with almost no opposition?... more»
In order to help the poor of the world, protectionism must not be applied equally to all. It’s time for the rich nations to give a little... more»
They’re asking for Sir Salmans head in Pakistan, plus a boycott of British goods. But surely not their cherished bootleg Scotch... more»
Mario Vargas Llosa’s visceral hatred for dictatorships stems from personal experience: growing up in the 1950s in Peru under Manuel Odría... more»
Richard Rorty, American thinker of depth and originality, is dead at the age of 75... NYT ... WP ... AP ... Todd Gitlin ... NYSun ... John Seery ... Chron Higher Ed ... First Things ... Last words ... Chris Hayes ... LAT ... TNR ... Jürgen Habermas ... Roger Scruton ... Tom West ... LAT ... Joel Achenbach ... J.D. Moreno ... Hans Gumbrecht ... David Swanson ... Thomas Riggins ... Slate: Dan Dennett et al. ... David Glenn ... Ramin Jahanbegloo ... Carlin Romano ... Stan Persky ... Jonathan Rée ... Bruce Robbins ... Danny Postel
The last seven U.S. presidents have come from the South or the West. Now we are to take seriously as candidate a short, divorced Jew with a nasal whine... more»
Money gives people the ability to buy their way out of life experiences.” So if you are rich, here’s how you buy your kids back in... more»
Did a Yale archeologist come across Macchu Picchu in 1911 and smuggle its gold out through Bolivia? In Peru, locals are convinced... more»
Naming a baby was once a matter of whimsy, or maybe family tradition. These days, it’s a question of branding... more»
Mammoths, lions, and genius artists roamed the hills of Swabia in southern Germany 35,000 years ago, a stunning new discovery shows... more»
More and more, mass culture is becoming a collection of niche cultures. Consider in this respect the fate of hip-hop... more»
That cowlick on the back of your head. The length of your ring finger. The pitch of your voice. Should you be gay?... more» But what is a Bear?
Protectionism is a threat to the U.S. economy. Saving globalization requires that its gains are spread more widely. The best way: redistribute income... more»
Stop taking those anti-virals, says Gambia’s president. He can cure AIDS: he reads the Koran over you, sprinkles stuff from an old Evian bottle, then... more»
“I hear what you’re saying.” The point was to pack the most clichés into a single stretch of prose. So let me run this by you. After all, it’s not rocket science... more» No need to make it up
Global warming. Skeptics and alamists can’t agree. So here is a carbon tax system for them both. Ross McKitrick explains... more»
Hallmark now offers consolation and strength to those faced with the awkward irrelevance of Father’s Day in some homes. A good thing it is... more»
Your body and mind tell you that you’re an adult while adults insist you’re a child. It’s no fun. Why do adults keep on trashing teens?... more»
How many ways to spell V1@gra? This is not a about a pill, it is about the spam plague, and how to cure it... more»
Many agree that the decline of religion may be a cause of the decline of the family. But what if it’s the other way around? Mary Eberstadt speculates... more»
Supernatural ideas have never helped human beings to understand the natural world. Alchemy, faith healing, astrology, creationism: none has advanced our grasp of nature one iota... more»
In the 1940s, W.H. Auden began to write poems that scarcely anyone knew how to read – and that scarcely anyone even today knows how to read... more»
An authentic, workable Marxism will break with unfettered production – surplus for surplus’s sake – and organize society in line with human needs... more»
The content of what we imagine will be cultural. But what of the imagination itself? Is it cultural artifact? No, argues Simon Baron-Cohen, it’s biological... more»
Is it possible to oppose the death penalty and still be in favor of killing tyrants? Michael Walzer is, whatever his regrets over the botched hanging of Saddam... more»
Is Fahrenheit 451 about censorship? No, says Ray Bradbury, it is a story about how television destroys our interest in reading literature... more»
A crowd of Germans pour out of a bus before the Pearly Gates and see two signs: one points to “Heaven,” the other to “Lectures about Heaven.” Which way do they go? Fritz Stern is German... more»
Ryszard Kapuscinski has been “lustrated.” In ancient Rome, lustration meant sacrificing animals. Today, in Poland, it means sacrificing reputations... more» ... more»
Günter Grass felt no pressure from above when he volunteered for active duty in 1943. His was the purest patriotic zeal... more»
Childrens intuitive psychology goes against science. Kids see purpose everywhere in nature and will tend to prefer creationist accounts of the origins of animals... more»
She wanted to experience everything, taste everything, go everywhere, do everything. Susan Sontag was nothing if not avid... more»
The West ought to pursue peaceful engagement with Iran, many believe. But the arrest of Haleh Esfandiari makes clear that the mullahs understand nothing other than brute force... more» ... more»
Medical science can now save the lives of extremely premature babies. How desirable this is remains an open question. Peter Singer explains... more»
College graduation is one of the few occasions in life when speeches really matter. Jay Parini has heard many graduation speakers over the years. His favorite? Mr. Rogers... more»
Ahmadinejad’s promise to wipe Israel off the map has not been taken seriously the West. It should be – and we ought to bomb Iran, says Norman Podhoretz... more»
Publishers claim that “misery memoirs” are popular because they tell life-affirming stories of survival. In fact, these books are little more than a voyeur’s wet dream... more»
Here’s a Delphic riddle for our times: When is your father not your father? Answer: when he’s a sperm donor. Kay Hymowitz explores some treacherous terrain... more»
Blogging is yammering, not writing, and the “democratic literary landscape” it creates is a wasteland, without standards, maps, or oases of intelligence and delight... more»
The cult of celebrity trivializes all that it touches. But then, was there ever a time in human history when people judged serious matters by serious criteria?... more»
“Many a man fails as an original thinker simply because his memory is too good,” said Nietzsche. There can come a point in life when this begins to make sense... more»
The clash of what? Thoughtful, decent souls such as Tocqueville, Lawrence, Twain, and even the querulous Naipaul, show how the breach between cultures can be healed. Perhaps... more»
Mary Shelley kept her husband’s heart, dried to a powder, in her desk drawer. Then there was Napoleons penis, which looked like a shriveled eel. People collect the oddest things... more»
American feminists are destined to play but a small role in the battle for Muslim womens rights. They are too preoccupied by their own imagined oppression to help others... more»
Rudolf Steiner: philosopher, guru, and nut case. But you would have known that, since your etheric body, the one with the lovely aura, is telepathic... more»
Will China be unstoppable, once it adopts Western higher education? Not to worry! With American advice, the Chinese too will end up as self-satisfied ignoramuses... more»
European leaders mean well but are naive in their stance on Turkey, says Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Turkish liberals need the army in the struggle with the Islamicists... more»
Italy gives Gore Vidal a good vantage point on the U.S. “After all, I don’t write about anything other than the fact of being American. I have no other subject”... more»
Philip K. Dick’s novels read like the work of someone who knows what it’s like to hallucinate. All those uppers and downers, gobbled by the handful, played tricks with his head... more»
Anthropologists make the foreign less strange. Its a skill autistics need, as they struggle to navigate through a world not designed for them... more»
Arthur Koestler was far from being a good man, but he did struggle toward the good by the light of his stunning intellect. Both his virtues and his failings lay in his passions... more»
Our Pleistocene ancestors lived in a world of zero sum: any gain for one human group came at the expense of another. This kind of thinking infects our politics still today... more»
Is Europes fate merely to become a museum of history and civilization, preaching morality in world affairs to a nonexistent audience? Walter Laqueur hopes not... more»
“I’m a free trader down to my toes,” says economist Alan Blinder. But when it comes to sending jobs overseas, to India or god knows where, his palms go all sweaty... more»
More modernity = less religion. So many academics used to believe it. But the real world of human needs has other plans. John J. DiIulio is not surprised... more»
Censorship, beatings, threats, and murder have managed to silence public criticism in Putins Russia. Do Europeans really care?... more»
Firearms have become a vast cultural ideology, indeed, a cultural disease in America, says Robert Jay Lifton. He prefers to call it “gunism”... more»
Violently imposing a socialist or Islamic society is justified in the same way by Marx and Sayyid Qutb: if people were really free, they’d accept this fate instantly, joyously... more»
Friedrich Hayek argued that one of the most important effects of extensive government control was psychological: “an alteration of the character of the people”... more» ... more»
During an endless reception in his honor in Washington in 1921, Albert Einstein said to the diplomat next to him, “I’ve just developed a new theory of eternity”... more»
The idiots are back: Latin America’s populist leaders again wave Marxist banners, rail against imperialists, and promise to deliver their people from poverty... more»
Passion, probability, and policy each play a role in war, said Carl von Clausewitz. Any understanding of war that ignores these elements is flawed. Consider Iraq... more»
Newspapers are cutting back on space for book reviews. In so doing, they may be cutting their own throats. Michael Connelly explains why... more»
Stand aside, chick lit: the big thing now is mis lit, misery memoirs, traumatic tales of childhood torture and suffering. Usually, daddy did it. Maybe mommy too... more»
For Thomas Jefferson, the Barbary kingdoms combined his two least favorite institutions – monarchy and state-sponsored religion – in one target. So he went after them... more»
Whether Europeans like it or not, Muslims are part of Europe, says Ian Buruma. Europeans must learn to live with them and with Islam... more»
Mileva Marić has a real place in the history of science. There is no need to exaggerate her contributions in order to admire and honor her... more»
The Send button, so easy to click, invites too-quick a response. In fact, “Sendmay be the most dangerous four-letter word of the 21st century. Robert Fulford explains why... more»
Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, and Dawn Powell. These three are not women who in the name of “diversity” deserve a more secure place in the canon: they should simply be at its peak... more»
In reading fiction you often come on the idea of a journey, says Hermione Lee: a worn path, a day’s walk in a city, a quest, a progress, a journey through time. Among such stories stand her favorites... more»
When Sheik Taj el-Din al Hilaly claimed that scantily clad Australian women go around like so much “exposed meat,” asking to be raped, he was rightly met by howls of execration. Still and all... more»
Should life scientists make an oath like the Hippocratic oath that new physicians make in the hope that they will “do no harm”? Splendid idea, but... more»
The growing national discomfort over illegal immigration needs honest debate that includes, as well as intellectual mandarins, the people it most affects... more»
As the blame game begins, let’s keep in mind that no one in Blacksburg died for lack of text messages or an alarm system. They died of gunshot wounds. One young man did it... more»
Robert Solomon exuded appetite, endless appetite, for philosophy that matters, problems, in the Jamesian sense, that make a difference for real people. Carlin Romano on a dear friend... more»
Jeffrey Sachs has managed to make the current mood of pessimism into a coherent intellectual system. This celebrity economist is a fitting prophet for our miserable age... more»
We need to figure out how to stop relying on both oil and ourselves, says Bill McKibben, and instead learn what other primates never forgot: to rely on each other... more»
As a centre for culture and related matters, UNESCO may be useless, says Robert Fulford. But as a job-creation program for intellectuals, it has few equals... more»
Luxury for all” is an oxymoron, to be sure, but it is still the aspirational goal of modern culture. So we have gourmet or premium – Popcorn? Burgers? Shampoo?... more»
American literature stands well below the greatest books of the West. Herman Melville, Henry James, Harriet Beecher Stowe are not Balzac, Dickens, or Shakespeare... more»
The desire for liberal democracy is acquired over time as a byproduct of modernization. You don’t just impose it, says Francis Fukuyama... more»
At Arts & Letters Daily, YOU are the most important reader we will serve today. “Your visit is important to us!” Yeah, whatever, says Christopher Hitchens... more»
Academics who study China know about the forced labor camps, use of torture by state police, and the fate of the Falun Gong. But to get along they need to go along... more»
Periodic windfalls of easy money are a siren call for Venezuela. Hard to resist, but as impossible to predict as the rising and falling of the price of oil... more»
Is our focus on happiness in culture today taking us closer to it? Or does a self-conscious striving and frenetic pursuit happiness signal something else?... more»
Why might some waiters earn more than new chefs? Why might it be illegal to use a cellphone but not to eat a Big Mac while driving? This is not dismal science... more»
“This was the week that changed the world,” said Richard Nixon at the end of his trip to China in 1972. He was right... more»
Sourdough fermentation is “the soul of breadmaking” in France. It creates the floral complexity of the crumb and the deep chewiness of the crust... more»
Patrice Higonnets history of the U.S. will in a decade or two be read only as evidence of how deeply the intellect can be degraded by political malice... more»
Always a romantic when it came to herself, Leni Riefenstahl promoted the idea that all men were slavishly in love with her. Enough were... more»
Some of us see eating as a privilege and a joy. Others view it as a mere necessity. They include the nutrition nags... more»
Perhaps Walt Disney was not quite the lone genius who created it all, from Mickey Mouse to Mary Poppins to his theme parks. Not quite... more»
Mario Vargas Llosa throws light on his chosen topics without showing off, and his curiosity turns out to be contagious... more»
We tend to think about Iran in terms of two ticking alarm clocks, one nuclear, and the other democratic. Which will ring first?... more»
Its good to study Einstein to be reminded of a childlike sense of wonder. But is that really about Einstein, or is it just about us?... more»
Are the writers who have spent the past few years predicting Europes collapse wrong? The short answer is: no... more»
Mark Lynas exhorts us to buy his global warming morality. Too bad if we don’t: we have only eight years to save the planet... more»
Brave presidents may be born, but they may be as much products of the luck of a moment. Their stories follow no simple pattern... more»
Evelyn and Auberon Waugh did not inherit their literary genes from Evelyn’s surgeon grandfather. But the man was a repulsive sadist, and that at least shows... more»
Plagiarism is still regarded as “the capital intellectual crime” by writers, teachers, and scholars. But times do change... more»
Al Gores latest is a serious work by an intelligent man with an incurable habit of calling more attention to himself than to his ideas... more» ... more»
“The man who plays a part in a historical drama never knows its true significance,” said Tolstoy. He could have been referring to Ronald Reagan... more»
Odd that a lifetime of working at the highest levels of political hackdom seems to have left Robert Shrum with so little of interest to say... more»
Britain’s Angry Young Men became angry old men. An ugly sight, says Colin Wilson, and now that they are all safely dead, he can spit on their graves... more»
When world-historical figure Thomas Mann needed a haircut, he’d pop over to Westwood. Los Angeles then was Weimar on the Pacific... more»
Personal cleanliness can look like some kind of socially constructed fussiness. But in truth it answers to deep evolved needs... more»
Tom Stoppard’s stunning The Coast of Utopia shows us complex characters doing their imperfect best to solve the hardest problems of existence... more»
Cardinal Ratzinger’s message was that Jesus is a genius, and the lucidity of his exegesis should prompt Alleluias... more» Also: Did Hitler go to heaven?
Joseph Schumpeter is still seen as the apostle of creative destruction, the death and birth of industries and technologies... more»
Stalins greatest pleasure was to choose his victim, wreack cruel vengeance, and then go to bed. “There’s nothing sweeter in the world”... more»
Americans still look to Rome for omens of destiny. The Founding Fathers started the tradition, with the virtuous Roman Republic in mind... more»
Suppose a CIA analyst knows more than his boss does – and his boss is the President of the United States. This does happen... more»
D.H. Lawrence’s father wanted his boys to follow him into the mines, but their mother instilled the desire to escape... more»
If atheisms a religion, it is fourth in the world, behind Hinduism, and it’s growing. God is not on the side of unbelief, but history may be... more»
To get ahead in the Arab world, go work for an emir. It’ll be a good job, till you begin to behave like an emir yourself... more»
From an essentially living food, bread has become an industrial product in our age. Do we care? Should we?... more»
Goethe was a new kind of hero, and man who brought art and life together in a way that did not look like a grubby compromise... more»
Is there any reason left to care about Soviet communism? Yes, and new books by Robert Service and Archie Brown prove it... more»
Sarah Bernhardt died in 1923, long past her glory days and well out of our reach. Yet she is still the most famous actress the world has known... more»
Our China experts will write op-eds galore about China’s economic problems. But about how it represses dissent? Not really... more»
Shakespeare: not a writer to argue for systems of ideas, but one willing to deconstruct any firm view on any subject... more»
George Tenets new memoir: a bogus history by a man whose hindsight is cockeyed and who had no foresight at all... more» ... more» ... more»
The writer you might guess to be best equipped to respond to 9/11 is Don DeLillo. His novel is now out. Does it live up to expectations?... more»
Decaf liberalism brewed with fair-trade coffee. Benjamin Barber’s new book is about as subversive as Ben and Jerry’s or Whole Foods... more»
Nicholas Sarkozy in his new book comes across as an unusual, audacious politician, a risk-taker and pragmatist... more»
The “penis snatchers”? Who are they? Less a threat to male virility, it seems, than idleness, soft beds, or “the jarring of railway trains”... more» ... more»
In no democracy, rich or poor, has the place of labor – its power and share of income – declined more dramatically than in the U.S.... more»
The BBC: cool and objective in its regard for the news and issues of the day. It reports, you decide – uh, just like Fox News... more»
Having failed to predict the collapse of communism, our political experts now prefer to forget about its cruel system of violence... more»
Karolina Lanckoronska was one tough dame. Interrogated by the Gestapo, she came out on top in terms of guts, brains, and integrity... more»
Lives and minds can over the years intermingle. Thus will you live on after your death. Or so Douglas Hofstadter has it... more»
Joseph Schumpeter: among the last of the great political economists in a field that has turned to mere technical problems... more»
When Barbara Ehrenreich laments a lost golden age of dancing and revolution, it is not about the history of the West, but her own life... more»
The demolition of St. Louis’s Pruitt-Igoe housing complex in 1972 marked modernisms fall from grace. But all, the style survives... more»
Black swans: we think of most events as clustered around a middle, with only rare extremes. But wars, market crashes, and campus massacres will happen... more»
Children’s writer? No. J.R.R. Tolkien’s dark tale, The Children of Húrin, has the mythic resonance and grim sense of fate found in Greek tragedy... more»
Shakespeares face has long been a subject of speculation. Do we at last have proof of what he looked like?... more» ... images
Ladies: you can choose your fate. Take it from Leslie Bennetts, whose charmed life hanging around movie stars qualifies her to tell you how... more»
We consider the primitive music of blues singers such as Leadbelly to be more authentic than that of the Monkees. Come on! All pop musicians are fakes... more»
The beneficiary of incredible luck in life, Ralph Ellison acted as if he were uniquely qualified for all his honors, while he scorned ordinary black people... more»
What is really depressing about Kingsley Amiss later novels is not how bitter they are but how tiny – in motive, complaint, and understanding... more»
Lincoln Kirstein – impresario, agent, poet. Ed Koch once joked that Lincoln Center was named after him. It ought to have been... more»
Garry Kasparov will not find it easy simultaneously to woo the electorate, tell the truth and stay alive. He needs all the luck he can get... more»
What would Jesus drive? An SUV? A hybrid? A bus? It may be a question that needs to be answered if you want to build a green faith... more»
The Great Game: the idea that he who controls central Eurasia will control the world is not much in vogue these days. Still, the idea of empire... more»
It was William Percy’s dying hope that his 1601 play, Mahomet and His Heaven might at last be staged. Little chance then, less today... more»
For 30 years, string theory has been what Murray Gell-Mann called “the only game in town.” Well, they used to say that about mahjong... more»
T.S. Eliot’s writing has at its center, claims Craig Raine, a notion of “the buried life, the idea of a life not fully lived”... more»
Can biology be reduced to chemistry and physics? And whose problem is it? Does it belong to philosophy or biology?... more»
“Iraq is the freest country in the world,” says Mario Vargas Llosa. But freedom without order is chaos, so “it is also the most dangerous“... more»
Edith Wharton wrote in bed, her dog, a Pekinese, beside her, with inkpot and writing desk balanced on her knees... more»
In many societies the rich and poor are kept from each other by lines of force, intimidation, taboo. William T. Vollmann crosses the lines... more»
Graphic designer? Edward Tufte is that and more: art director, economist, historian, data-cruncher, and plain old expository writer... more» ... more»
Every time an economic impact study comes out, you know the pigs are at the pastry cart. “Save your city by giving money to the arts!” Yeah, sure... more»
“Every single American president since Nixon has, in one way or another, either ignored or quietly given up on the issue of Chinese democracy”... more»
“Father worked in a Port-au-Prince shoe store. Tonton Macoutes would walk in, grab the best shoes and walk away. No use to protest”... more»
Eisenhowers science advisors: he saw them as one of the few groups in D.C. there to help the country, and not themselves... more»
Iraqs curse: sahel, the idea that victory must be so complete you will at last drag your enemy’s corpse through the street... more»
“Arrived late Sunday night. So tired, and the rudest concierge I ever met.” It’s the Paris Hilton prison diaries... more»
“If prophecy is an expression of our contemporary fears and wishes, so too, to a very great extent, is history.” Brave New World is seventy-five... more»
Romantics who visit Cuba from rich lands like to kid themselves that they have found a true alternative to capitalist democracy. Why?... more»
Mankind’s moral sense is not a brilliant beacon. It is a flickering candle that casts vague shadows. James Q. Wilson wants to keep that flame alight... more»
If you knew sushi: it looks like a samurai sword, and it’s almost as long as he is tall. His hands are on the hilt... more»
Scientists, despite what fables say, usually conform to the comfy values of mom and dad. Consider genetic engineering... more»
If nationalism is a lie, its rebuttal will less likely be found in grand internationalist abstraction than in the human details of the novel... more»
Giant feral pigs have long been the stuff of rural legends. And now they are the stuff of faked photos and gullible journalism... more»
La France s’ennuie? No one can say Nicolas Sarkozy is boring, nor is France itself any longer boring. In fact, it could become quite exciting... more»
Russia is better off today than when Putin came to power. It now needs law and order to restore state institutions. Democracy can wait... more»
Amateur historian” may sound vaguely derivative and second-tier. But the phrase can refer to people of high achievement... more»
“Even though it’s had several weedings,” the New York Times morgue is “still a monstrous, messy marsh of information”... more»
If God is dead, Ivan Karamazov said, then everything is permitted. Or does this not follow? This question, and its moral siblings, vexes philosophy still... more»
The new Creation Museum must be a relief for believers: here at last is the world as it really is, without the distortions of secularism and Darwin... more»
A new kind of food writing draws together issues of nutrition, taste, ethics, and politics, bridging the gap between James Beard and Rachel Carson... more»
The Gospel of Judas may not belong in the canon, but it does not belong in the trash. It is now part of the history of Christianity, a history we may have to rewrite... more»
The Travelers Dilemma is a game of logic like the Prisoner’s Dilemma. It shows people are less logical – and more rational – than they realize... more»
What’s wrong with the modern literary novel? Why is it so worthy and dull? Why is it so anxious? Why is it so boring? Julian Gough asks... more»
Londonistan calling. How a nation moved from cricket and fish-and-chips to burkas and shoe bombers in a single generation... more»
It’s trailer parks, beat up Camaros, homegrown meth labs, too many kids and not enough government cheese. It’s white trash... more»
Goodbye, American Heritage. After fifty years, and despite a circulation of 350,000, the plug is being pulled on a publishing institution... more» ... more»
Bad news from Gujarat: why is India seeing the erosion of democracy and the rise of Hindu fascism? Martha Nussbaum asks the hard questions... more»
Western analysts bleat on about the strategic importance of that backward, oil-rich area we call the Middle East. Why not just ignore it?... more»
Yes, new global economic rules will make work leaner and meaner. But labor should remake the rules for itself, rather than for the bosses... more»
Literary blogs are fine. They’re a version of your mom’s book club. But when it comes to serious reviewing, we need serious media... more»
Sir Edward Elgar’s public image used to be that of a musical Colonel Blimp: he even looked like a colonel. Reality is something else... more»
George Tenet for the past two weeks has been in book reviews and op-eds just about the most comprehensively excoriated man in America... more»
Does mobile phone use promote economic growth, or do growing economies just make more use of mobile phones? Either way... more»
The Supreme Court can decide any old case when the meaning of the facts is obvious. But is the meaning ofobvious” always obvious?... more»
He’s an entrepreneurial genius, to be sure. But Rupert Murdoch is not the right owner for Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal... more»
Adieu, Jacques Chirac, and good riddance. Perhaps all political careers end in failure, but yours, alas, is the most dismal since Brezhnev’s... more»
Walter Mossberg is without doubt the most influential writer on technology from an end-user perspective – for oldsters, that is... more»
Who’s “more literate” when it comes to literature, Bob Silvers of the New York Review of Books, or George W. Bush? Tom Wolfe says he knows... more»
Climate change is “a baptism by fire for the developing global society,” says one scientist. And so what, if science becomes activism?... more»
A laptop for every student was to be the key to success in schools for the 21st century. That’s what the experts told us... more»
An imperial apologist who peddles poisonous fairytales, or a our finest living historian? Niall Ferguson does tend to get strong reactions... more»
Why would prisoners in Sing Sing prison be so interested in Eugene ONeill? Every convict is convinced that he comes from a loveless family... more»
Zen meditation can atrophy a monk’s body. So were devised the calisthenics that became kung fu. It’s all about peace – maybe... more»
It’s no crime to be depressed or even scary, as Seung-Hui Cho was. For these civil liberties, alas, we will once in a while pay a heavy price... more»
Are you there, God? Its me, Christopher Hitchens. I have a ‘little’ problem that needs a big solution, so I kneel before you”... more»
Many doctors avoid geriatrics: “The Old Crock is deaf, has poor vision, and his memory’s bad. If he’s had it for 50 years, you won’t cure it”... more»
Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution can be linked, some say, to such diverse evils as communism, fascism, and terrorism... more»
Mstislav Rostropovich, who used his cello for purposes both musical and political, is dead at the age of 80 ... WP ... NYT ... AP ... Telegraph ... Reuters ... London Times ... SF Chron ... Independent ... Tim Page ... Washington Times ... LAT ... Richard Morrison ... Daniel Watkin ... Ben Ivry ... Nicholas Kenyon ... Justin Davidson
Is 40 % or more of Moby Dick, David Copperfield, Anna Karenina, or Vanity Fair mere padding? Can these novels be usefully cut?... more»
Work does play an important role in literature. It just doesn’t mirror the importance or merit the attention it gets in real life... more»
Religion finds so many ways to reduce Darwinian fitness. Does it even create enough enhancements to count as an adaptation... more»
Steven Levitt took the world by storm with Freakonomics. In its wake, a slew of copy-cats is turning to the dismal science of economics... more»
In order to understand a story, a critic must pry into the minds of characters, authors, and narrators. A little science can help... more»
Ravens can toboggan, ride other animals, and spy on enemies. Their life stealing from wolves, eagles, and bears gives them an amazing IQ... more»
Take it from James Randi: real tricksters rarely read magic books, they just improvise along the way, according to the needs of the moment... more»
Life itself may not be a story, but there is no doubt that stories infuse our lives with meaning. We all have a bit of Don Quixote in us... more»
The church of global free trade, which rules American politics with infallible pretensions, may have finally met its Martin Luther... more»
Katherine Mansfield died in 1923, only 15 years after she’d decided, at 18, to become a writer. She died so young. She lived so fast... more»
Smoked haddock, scrambled eggs, cold cuts, kippers, roast pheasant, fruit, bacon, sausages, devilled kidneys, scones, and kedgeree. Breakfast for Edward VII. Wait for lunch... more»
Abstract painting is back. True, it had never really gone away, but it had been shunted aside by the vagaries of time and fashion... more»
The pocket handkerchief was a useful tool for a genteel lady in the 19th century artfully to highlight a blush or a tear... more»
Two young CIA officers were shot down over Communist China in 1952 and spent 21 years in prison there. They never even sold their story... more»
Luxury likes disguise: platinum watches look like stainless steel to all but a knowing few. Or consider the expensive suit... more»
Are 400,000 excess embryos now in freezers in the U.S. in truth 400,000 babies? If they are, then they must not be destroyed. If they are not... more»
Kurt Vonnegut, whose dark comic talent caught the temper of his times, is dead at the age of 84 ... NYT ... WP ... LAT ... AP ... Nation ... Guardian ... WP ... LAT ... Independent ... Toronto Star ... Phila Inq
Was Mary Shelley really the author of Frankenstein? Yes, says Germaine Greer, she has to be: the book is just so bad... more»
Charles Darwin’s relationship with God was not a happy one. A firm believer early on, his theories forced questions on him. The death of his daughter was a final blow... more»
Humanists cultivate gloom, says Ian McEwan, with scorn. Scientists, on the other hand, are curious people, and curiosity is a sure stake in life and its pleasures... more»
“Facts are not Republican, and they are not Democratic. Facts are facts.” Maybe so, but they still must be interpreted by Republicans and Democrats... more»
Franklin D. Roosevelt advised that the “only thing we have to fear is fear itself.“ Today, politicians are far more likely to encourage the public to fear everything... more»
By demographic conquest, Europe could go under. Bernard Lewis ought seriously to discuss this issue, rather than just making the odd allusion or wisecrack... more»
Jewish accomplishments in the arts and sciences as well as Jewish IQ are subjects many Jews prefer to be quiet about. So here is a Scots-Irish Gentile from Iowa to tell the story... more»
Paul Wolfowitz learned Arabic in the 1980s, but also speaks French, German, Hebrew, and Indonesian. And yes, “The Boss of Money” has holes in his socks... more»
Save our shrunken heads! Why all the hand-wringing over one of the most famous exhibits in Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum? Maria Grasso stands up for truth... more»
How did a dentist in Dublin get an original Sean Scully to hang on his wall? A remarkable city, says Colm Tóibín, where it’s an eye for an eye, a painting for a tooth... more»
The U.S. would not mind a Japan powerful enough to help ring China. But who wants an ally that denies the rape of Nanjing? Francis Fukuyama wonders... more» ... also the question of sex slavery.
For Germans, Americans are either too fat or too obsessed with exercise, too prudish or too pornographic, too religious or too nihilistic, etc. They cant get anything right... more»
Popular belief has it that humans show a predilection for deadly violence that is even more vicious in the modern age. Steven Pinker argues a different view... more»
“Fame,” said Rainer Maria Rilke, “is finally only the sum total of all the misunderstandings that can gather around a new name.” Consider Brecht, or Lindbergh... more»
Salvador Dalí copped flak for dealing with the rich, says Robert Hughes. But he was honest about it, unlike Picasso, whose communism was mostly wind... more»
300: glistening, hyperreal images that are hallucinogenic in their intense color and blood-spattered violence. Is this the future of movies?... more» And how bad is 300 as history? ... more» ... more» ... more»
Shakespeare did not think good actions are necessarily rewarded, says Stephen Greenblatt, but he was convinced that wicked actions always return, with interest... more»
“I am for the Cuban revolution,” said C. Wright Mills after his talks with Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in 1960. “I do not worry about it, I worry for it and with it”... more»
Yoga: something that once was pure and purifying has now been dumbed down, larded with mystical schlock. It’s narcissism posing as humility... more»
The omnicompetent government of Great Britain promises to do just about everything you need done. That it manages effectively to do so little, well... more»
Autumn comes, bringing a nakedness “under the wind, showing the birds’ nests no longer worth hiding.” Say what you will, D.H. Lawrence could write... more»
“The art of the great painters who lived in other times is not an art of the past,” said Pablo Picasso “Perhaps it is more alive today than it ever was”... more»
“I am not a Zionist, nor am I am a practicing Jew,” says George Soros, “but I have a great deal of sympathy for my fellow Jews.” However, when it comes to the fate of Israel... more»
“The chief glory of every people arises from its authors.” Easy for Samuel Johnson to claim it for his age. Much harder for Susan Sontag to argue it for ours... more»
Writers can create worlds readers never want to leave. Jane Austen addicts don’t just enjoy the novels, they want to hang out in the living room with the Bennet girls... more»
“Everything of value that people get from religion can be had more honestly, without presuming anything on insufficient evidence,” says Sam Harris... more»
Are Australians really white trash? Is Kylie Minogue as high as it goes for culture Downunder? Forget about apostrophes, crack open a can of Tooheys, and consider... more»
Barack Obama has molded himself into the male Oprah Winfrey, a crown prince of niceness who bravely rejects divisiveness and eulogizes unity... more»
Physicists like the idea that a theory of everything is hovering right around the corner. But what about consciousness? Sorry, it’s still a mystery... more» ... more»
V.S. Naipaul thought at first that he would write only fiction. “To be a writer of the imagination seemed to me the noblest thing.” He changed his mind... more»
Jean Baudrillard was a comedian of ideas, a French intellectual who should have been in show business. Give him his due, says Robert Fulford, he pulled it off... more»
Rites come and go, but they cannot be manufactured, says Bert Keizer. You cannot just make up rites, and you toy with them at your peril. For example, funerals... more»
Tourists to Australia like to see a dance at their outback hotel, then fly home. But if you don’t know the flies, heat, and distances, you won’t grasp Aboriginal culture... more»
Who says academics “can’t write”? David Damrosch argues that a clear prose style is perfectly consistent with the highest levels of academic thought and expression... more»
Is scientific self-understanding at last possible for the human race? And if it is possible, is it desirable? For Theodore Dalrymple, the answers are no, and no... more»
George Orwell’s methods might not have guaranteed the victory of the Spanish Republic, but Stalins assured its defeat. Eric Hobsbawm ought to know this... more»
For the Japanese defenders of Iwo Jima, the prospect was either to win or to die: “Thou shall fall like cherry petals after a brief life.” It was war most raw, most tragic... more»
Your tribe spent 10,000 years getting there. It’s not a pretty swamp, thick with insects and snakes, but it’s yours. Then one day, along comes – a party of German tourists?... more»
Art world insiders have trends but few criteria. They prefer the word “interesting.” Reactionaries have criteria, but no art. They like the word “bad”... more»
Her character assassinations were never at the expense of warmth or humor, and Nora Ephron is as unsparing of herself as of others... more»
My genocide is bigger than your genocide. Is it any surprise that with all the genocide mongering, we have genocide deniers? Brendan O’Neill explains... more»
Next time you’re in Germany, advises Paul Cantor, skip the soccer and go to a Shakespeare play in German. You’ll see who really wins the World Cup... more»
Is Russia going backwards toward the Soviet state? No, says Victor Erofeyev. “Russia is moving toward its imperial roots, and the model now is Alexander III”... more»
The public’s long romance with movies may finally be losing its bloom, says Neil Gabler, and Hollywood ought to be worried... more»
The rise of India and China now inclines the United States toward an entirely new view of global political structures. None too soon, says Daniel Drezner... more»
Norma Rae, Martin Ritt’s classic 1979 film, looks now like an aberration in recent Hollywood history. Why don’t the struggles of workers find a place in the movies?... more»
China, India, and other lands have economies that are booming. How much do they still need, or even want, U.S. popular culture? Less and less, says Tyler Cowen... more»
Nothing conveys the idea of power quite like a skyscraper, and 9/11 did not kill the appetite for them. Coming soon, Frank Lloyd Wright’s dream: the mile-high building... more»
“There are worse crimes than burning books,” Joseph Brodsky said. “One of them is not reading them.” Yeah, but what about just leaving books behind?... more»
Queer, nigger, gay, and bitch? All are okay – reclaimed, you see. How about guys for a group of people? Well, that one’s problematic... more» But gay? At Oxford? It depends...
Fay Weldon does not envy others’ successes. “We were all golden lads and lasses in our time, it’s just that the sun now shines from another and rather puzzling direction”... more»
The Synoptic Gospels of the New Testament – Matthew, Mark, and Luke – present a problem unique in the annals of literary research... more»
England circa 1650: a cesspit of filth, stink, and noise. Nothing was sacred: butchers dumped their offal in churchyards... more»
Talleyrand betrayed every king or government he ever swore to serve. That was but part of what made him such a revolting human being... more»
Nietzsche used a typewriter. Hard to imagine, but trying to stem his migraines he bought one of the new contraptions. Mark Twain too... more»
Some of the sharpest critics of jihadism in Europe, from Pim Fortuyn to Bruce Bawer, have been gay: men attuned to the threat of fanatical faith... more»
Sharing a meal, often sitting face to face with strangers, is a curious act that sets humans apart from all other animals... more»
Why are western liberals silent in the face of student protests in Iran and imprisonment of Iranian activists? ... more»
She was a seamless alloy of Southern belle, New England bluestocking, and Chinese tai-tai. Madame Chiang Kai-Shek played her role to 105... more»
Consciousness happens on the long journey from egghood to personhood. How? Nicholas Humphrey has a new go at an old question... more»
Edith Wharton died in France just before the Nazis got there. Well, if they’d taken over her villa, she’d have made their lives miserable... more»
They are almost all nice girls raised by nice parents and sent off to good colleges. But they change in some ugly ways when left on their own... more»
Einstein loved America, and having the greatest mind in the world around lifted U.S. spirits. This valiant Swabian showed us how to be free... more»
Islamism in Europe is a choice of the frustrated children of immigrants, young people who feel they live in an ethnic and cultural no man’s land... more»
Biography” is now more than books: it’s films, videos, and even a TV channel. So what has changed? Jonathan Yardley wonders... more»
Dapper, with his finely clipped mustache, Ralph Ellison was a man of old-fashioned elegance. In the literary world, he was a party of one... more»
Bush’s war in Iraq not really about democracy; it was about making Iraq less lethal to its own people and to peoples around it... more»
American conservatism is at a point of intellectual crisis, says Andrew Sullivan, as can be seen from the newest book by Dinesh D’Souza... more»
He was cynical, shameless, and trusted in the ignorance and the credulity of his readers. Michel Foucault on madness... more»
Maybe violinists just liked to climb up to rooftops in the shtetl to make music. Marc Chagall was then painting only what he saw... more»
Humanism is “a propensity to increase the variety of the created world rather than reduce it.” Clive James is a genuine humanist... more»
Erwin Nyiregyhàzi was a kind of Velikovsky of music: if he was right, all the rest of us are wrong... more» What you hear may not be what you get.
Artists of Aline Crumb’s 1960s free-floating generation did away with rules and limits – and became an army of narcissists... more»
Yukio Mishima was a right-wing fanatic and national embarrassment for Japan. He was also a vastly talented writer... more»
The Victorian “crisis of faith” predates Darwins Origin of Species. Tennyson felt confronted by “nature red in tooth and claw” in 1850... more»
Kofi Annan: modest, charming, and eloquent, he was the first spokesman for all mankind who looked great in a tuxedo... more»
Leni Riefenstahl was a slut. Steven Bach is too graceful a writer and too nuanced a psychologist to say it so bluntly, but... more»
For Milan Kundera, the novel is a “privileged sphere of analysis, lucidity, irony.” It questions, marvels, and plumbs... more»
In its way, duelling can make a great painterly tableau, stark and eerily beautiful. But in the end, the practice remains barbaric... more»
French and British: so many ways to complain about each other. French hygiene, British froideur, French frivolity, British joylessness... more»
So what’s it all about, in 200 pages, please? Philosophers have refused to tread, but Terry Eagleton marches right in... more»
Duke, Brown, Harvard: you are rich, you give them money, and your kids are very likely get accepted. It’s as simple, and as crude, as that... more»
Alexander Solzhenitsyn is put down as Slavophile, romantic, agrarian, monarchist, theocrat, even anti-Semite. Not fair, not true... more» ... more»
The French headscarf ban in state schools: it is a matter of high secularist principle – or rather raw power?... more»
Dean Reed took rock’n’roll to the Soviet Union, settled in East Germany, and ended up as the Lord Haw-Haw of the Cold War... more»
Ayaan Hirsi Ali says, “I left the world of faith, of genital cutting and forced marriage, for the world of reason.” Oh dear. What an absolutist... more»
Robert Frost: ever in search of “the room he needed.” Maybe he never knew, or wanted us to know, what he needed it for... more»
When Kingsley Amis spouted off some political nonsense, it was usually only to bait a nearby bleeding heart... more»
Jazz is not a what, it is a how. If it were a what, it would be static, never growing. Real jazz is forever reborn... more»
Tennessee Williams’s most famous plays still mesmerize us; the later works are almost unmitigated embarrassments... more»
Dr. George Cheyne was the most influential vegetarian in 18th-century Britain. He was also “renowned as a drunken fatso”... more»
Modernist architecture is at least cheap. Manhattan would be even more pricey if office blocks had to be done up like Chartres... more»
Affluenza is a virus. It makes people want more money, but makes then less happy. That is anyway what Oliver James says... more»
The late Hugh Trevor-Roper did not think that ideas make their own way in the world: they need power behind them... more»
Robespierre and Mao did not want that punishment be just for real crimes. Happiness for all required murder on a grand scale... more»
If the Dover case was not quite a “battle for America’s soul,” it was still a significant episode in the conflict between science and religion... more»
Alexis de Tocqueville’s mind, quick on the uptake but trawling so deep, is as rewarding to follow today it was in 1831... more»
T.S. Eliot’s greatness as a poet is established beyond doubt. Why bother to defend him against charges of misogyny and antisemitism?... more»
For academics Susan Sontag’s essays are provocative, flashy performances. For the common reader, they’re like shots of intellectual espresso... more»
The “Mozart of Mathematics,” they called Leonhard Euler, not only because of his genius but because of his prodigious output... more»
What happens when a famous violinist puts on a baseball cap, unpacks his fiddle, and starts busking at the door to the Metro?... more»
Pope Benedict XVI is a man who is shy, courtly, modest. But he is driven by a vision of his Church, and in this yields to no one... more»
Its effect is horrible, said Shaw. It made Berlioz grind his teeth and curse. Today, it seems we are obssessed with Handels music... more»
How did our Pleistocene male and female ancestors divvy up tasks of getting food and shelter? What difference does it make to us?... more»
For children, could there be a more beautiful phrase in books than “buttered toast”? Food has a place in literature, a lasting place... more» ... more»
A year after their moment of luck, lottery winners are no happier than people who didn’t win. It’s “hedonic adaptation”... more»
Pardon Scooter Libby? Maybe yes, maybe no. But the queue for presidential pardons ought to be headed by David Henson McNab... more»
Type “college prank” into YouTube and you will find hundreds of videos. Most will be really, really dumb. But just once in a while... more»
The motion was: “Wed be better off without religion,” debated by Dawkins, Scruton, Hitchens, Grayling and others. So who won?... more»
Gentrification, converting old, run-down neighborhoods into yuppie enclaves, can push the rich and the poor in all sorts of directions... more»
The biographer, like a burglar, breaks into a house, rifles through drawers, and in triumph bears his loot away... more»
Most of us can be made into Mr. Hyde monsters without Dr. Jekyll’s chemical elixir. Just get the psychology right, as Philip Zimbardo explains... more»
Assets in halal banks are at $500 billion and Japan will soon offer sharia compliant bonds. But is Islamic banking really kosher?... more»
The Sony Reader is a step in the right direction for those who love the written word more than endless stacks of paper and ink... more»
“Academic politics is so bitter because the stakes are so low.” Who said it first? And what about “Boola Boola”?... more»
“Nobody in Russia cares about chess,” says Garry Kasparov, who himself cares deeply about Russia. It’s a risky life he has chosen... more»
Any woman who is to lead a nation ought to study military history, says Camille Paglia. Hillary Clinton has learned the lesson... more»
A fascinating organ, but the human brain is an absolute mess. It needs to assess risks, but just watch at how it gets things wrong... more»
Globalization creates pressures that increase inequality. How might they best be managed, within countries and at the global level?... more»
Peter Handke’s reputation as a writer is unlikely to survive except in textbooks. As for the Milosevic affair... more»
Never finished that big fat book? Not to worry. A little knowledge can be a practical thing, as Lennard Davis explains... more»
British expats in NYC bitch and giggle over Americans like nannies talking about stupid children. “Our grandparents behaved like this in Africa and India”... more»
With his aphoristic wit, his liking of pronouncements, his appreciation of style and social eye, George Trow was our Oscar Wilde... more» ... more»
They made hemlock available in the faculty lounge for Prof. Socrates – when his students’ teaching evaluations were handed in... more»
Superhero comics books, the muscles and melodrama that kids once knew and loved, are in trouble... more»
Blogging makes a difference, and Josh Marshall proves it with TPM, as the Bush White House scurries for cover... more»
Tony Blair’s hand-me-down (often extreme) Thatcherism combined with his broken-backed Laborism to make for odd government... more»
The fearsomeness of many fairy tales helps explain the popularity of Lewis Carroll in Russia: Alice was never afraid... more»
On genocide and compassion fatigue, Annie Dillard once asked, “At what number do other individuals blur for me?” Try the number two... more» ... more»
Glenn Gould’s 1955 disk of the Goldberg Variations, played on a modern Yamaha grand? By Gould himself? Well, yes. And no... more» ... more»
They sing off key, don’t know it, and have not even learned how to sing: American Idol kids are all about self-esteem andattitude”... more»
Can juries be stacked? Jury selection is now a thriving business, made all the more appealing to lawyers by the dazzle of science... more»
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a liberal, she says, not in the left-wing sense, but in the manner of “classical liberalism – John Stuart Mill”... more» ... more»
Fountain pen in hand, Duong Van Ngo sits near the post office, waiting for his next job. He is the last public letter writer of Saigon... more»
Great art is not meant just to make you happy. Richard Wagner’s text may be awful, but listen to that music... more»
America’s radiation-sensing system detects radioactive briefcase clasps, manhole covers, and chafing dishes. How about a bomb?... more»
The number of people living on earth today outnumber the total number that ever lived. Ever hear that one?... more»
Jean Baudrillard, who argued that all reality is for us but artifice and simulation, is dead... NYT ... IHT ... NYSun ... Figaro ... Reuters ... London Times ... Guardian ... Le Monde ... Telegraph
Many students in China dont think for themselves, says Jingbei Hu. They act rather like he himself did during the Cultural Revolution... more»
A yearning for God might be an inevitable and eternal feature of human cognition, a kind of Darwinian tragedy... more»
Claude Monet wished to “paint the air in which the bridge, the house and the boat are to be found – the beauty of the air around them”... more»
E = mc2 Einsteins equation is the only scrap of physics most people actually know. Why does it captivate us so?... more»
Sophomoric jokes aside, there really are values France and America share – even though some French citizens are said to vote for socialists... more»
Skeptics are proven wrong as China shows that communism can succeed. If that is what you call “communism”... more»
Arthur Schlesinger, historian of power, has died of a heart attack at the age of 89... NYT ... WP
Now children, to the tune of Frère Jacques, sing, “I am special, I am special. Look at me.” It starts in preschool, but goes on to college... more»
Barbara Walters has for 40 years perfected the subtle art of fame maintenance. Can this celebrity warhorse survive our blabbermouth age?... more»
America is now dismantling its own paradigm of modernity, says Michael Vlahos. It is tasked with bringing the dark side to submission, an end it can never achieve... more»
College-educated, successful women have long had a reputation for marrying less. But now in a historic reversal, these women triumph in matrimony. Why?... more»
The Spanish Civil War was for young leftists who did not live in Spain like the heart-rending memory of a first great and lost love. For those who were in the war... more»
When he travels, Jay Parini chooses his reading with care. Short fiction to fly across the Atlantic, dense classics for longer journeys. And for a desert island... more»
Humphrey Bogart never said, “Play it again, Sam” nor did Sherlock Holmes say “Elementary, my dear Watson.” Never mind: quotations have a life of their own... more»
When Bertolt Brecht wasn’t writing plays to extol socialist ethics, he kept busy cheating his women and his friends. Just ask W.H. Auden, Lotte Lenya, or Kurt Weill... more»
Let’s admit that Anna Nicole Smith inflated the reputation of American possibility abroad, making it look like anything is possible in America – even without merit... more»
It’ll lead to a horrid consumerization of poetry. Or maybe it’s a way for poetry at last to find an audience. Ruth Lilly’s $200 million gift will not leave poetry unchanged... more»
The “fear of ideas” that has taken root in the U.S. since 9/11, with the refusal to grant visas to some Muslim academics, strikes at the heart of democracy, says Tariq Ramadan... more»
Few authors inspire the life-changing devotion, blind hatred, contempt, or dismissal achieved by Ayn Rand. But why do adolescent girls so often love her?... more»
“It may be heretical, or just foolish, for a book review editor to admit it,” says Sam Tanenhaus, “but there are times when criticism is beside the point.” Consider Saul Bellow... more»
The courtesan: you see her in Verdi, in Proust and Carvaggio. She takes money for sex, is no blushing bride, but is not so fallen as a prostitute. Like Anna Nicole Smith... more»
It’s better to increase the number of healthy foods you eat than simply to reduce the number of less healthy foods. There’s lots of good diet news out there... more»
“Every girl deserves to feel beautiful just the way she is.” Sure, but let’s be honest: not every girl has an equal chance in the beauty stakes... more»
Free speech is fine, but how about denials of agreed truth? Climate change denial, AIDS denial, Holocaust denial? Even under freedom, there are limits... more»
Lindsay Waters wants nothing less than a revolution in reading: we ought “to slow reading down, to preserve and expand the experience of reading”... more»
With communism gone, Orwells books seem less urgent. Maybe one day people will not even know what worried him. By then, they won’t realize all their talk is Newspeak... more»
A double standard: nothing can hinder a woman’s credibility faster than showing the ability to be funny. Consider the case of Hillary Clinton... more»
Keynesianism was the great modern reformation of economics. It led to a counter-reformation – and playing Loyola to Keynes’s Luther was a little guy named Milton Friedman... more»
Fundamentalists both Christian and Islamic meet on one rather odd common ground. Both these groups of religious zealots deplore Darwin and all his works... more»
For Ellen Handler Spitz, Barnard College is forever in heart and mind her alma mater, her foster mother. But how does a college become an alma mater?... more»
Iraq will not soon be the modern state the Americans hoped for in more innocent times. But it still needs patience and help as it works its way out of its current torments... more»
America can’t use an ideology of progress as a moral excuse for a mere power expansion, says William Pfaff. It now faces the logic of history... more»
Has the American reaction to the 9/11 attacks been a huge overreaction? Is the idea that 9/11 plunged us into one of the deadliest struggles of our time simply wrong?... more»
Robert Fulford once had an article about Canadian films rejected by the UNESCO Courier. How pathetic is that? What’s worse, they had assigned it... more»
“At 70 it is natural to begin to view the world from the sidelines, a glass of wine in hand, watching younger people do the dances of ambition, competition, and lust”... more»
Douglas Hofstadter has looked in the Gödelian vortex and seen the physically invisible, murky thing called the soul... more»
The West is a civilization that borrows and mixes, with the result that its culture is never fixed or self-satisfied... more»
The history of Monopoly is the history of America seen under the lens of capitalism. It had a single precursor, but... more»
Almost everything you think you know about Pythagoras is wrong, including that business about a theorem... more»
We are captivated by beauty, and follow it where it leads, at the risk that we may be forever changed by the encounter... more»
If celebrity culture is a form of religion, Mother Teresa was the ultimate religious celebrity of the modern era. And she knew it... more»
Bitter political conflict, hostile rap music, off-putting tattoos, nasty reality TV, the sneers of Donald Trump. Is America an angry land?... more»
“Reason is the slave of the passions,” David Hume said. Casanova was even more direct: “The mind obeys the body”... more»
The old song tells of the “last rose of summer.” Today there is no last rose of summer, nor a first rose of spring. Flowers are an industrial product... more»
To grasp the terrifying sense of Robert Frost’s work, you have to know the difference between maple syrup and poetry... more»
The fashion industry is trying to make men soft, Charlie LeDuff observes. “They are creating a whole subgenus. The alpha-pansy”... more»
Was the 20th “the American century” or the “century of the common man”? No: it was the century of English-speaking peoples... more»
Great Hero of Soviet science: even the laws of nature were expected to coincide with Josef Stalin’s views of Marxism... more»
The romantic idea of early blues singers of as primitive, tormented geniuses was perfect for the promoters of the likes of Leadbelly... more»
The New Yorker’s tone-poet of post-9/11 Manhattan, Adam Gopnik, drizzles his pixie dust over the city. He’s hard to dislike, until... more»
The zombiephiles: nerds, video game addicts, and nostalgists for whom the flesh-eating zombie is a central figure of modern culture... more»
In an age of ephemera, Milan Kundera has long championed the permanence of art and the Flaubertian ideal of making every word count... more»
Charles Darwin spent 20 years keeping evolution to himself in private dread. Alfred Russel Wallace didn’t give a damn what people thought... more»
Comedy has to be astonishing or nothing, and Kingsley Amis was astonishing often enough to reveal truths only comedy can state... more»
Besides Al Qaeda, or maybe the Jews or the White House, what really is to blame for 9/11? For Dinesh D’Souza, its the Wests own depravity... more»
String theory and intelligent design belong in the same category as speculative and unproveable. They cannot be falsified... more»
At the very end of the Bach’s Goldberg Variations, the opening theme appears again as if nothing had happened. But something has... more»
Zheng He’s voyages for the Ming Emperor were vast in scale: seven armadas, 27,000 men, the largest wooden ships ever built... more»
Memorable ideas, ones that stick, are simple, unexpected, credible, concrete, emotional, and story-containing... more»
Richard Posner entertains the idea that plagiarism is not the high crime media moralists and academics regard it as being. It can even be creative... more»
Plato may have turned away from societies that put too much trust in courage and war, but he still knew and admired courage itself... more»
The hard left in Britain has junked its historic secularism to make common cause with Muslim outfits it ought to shun... more»
Oblomovshchina has come into Russian as meaning “laziness.” Ivan Goncharov’s great novel, Oblomov, left its mark... more»
What American liberals want is for conservatives to be racists. That’s easier to deal with than the real problems of economic inequality... more»
The English hate the French, who reciprocate with hate of their own: a purée of prejudice on a bed of inherited loathing... more»
Andrew Jackson tended to relish violence almost to the point of connoisseurship. His instincts for it helped him beat the British in 1815... more»
Since demography is destiny, Mark Steyn places himself at the crossing of two curves: down for Europe, sharply up for the Islamic world... more»
Neither plants, nor landscapes, nor even themselves. In the remote Paleolithic, animals were the first things human beings drew. Why?... more»
Misjudging someone at a party based on his face is one thing. To do the same when you vote is quite another... more»
The Japanese have been folding paper recreationally for at least 400 years. For Robert J. Lang, origami is more than amusement... more»
Aristotle said that a drama should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Okay, said Jean-Luc Godard, but maybe not in that order... more»
Are you happy? The answer will depend partly on your genes but also as a matter of what you stand in life relative to other people... more»
Milton Friedman’s relentless belief in the power of a free people and a free society had vivid real-world effects... more»
“Kids today have no sense of shame or privacy. They are little fame whores who post their diaries, phone numbers, and stupid poems on the web”... more»
Pity taxonomy: the science of naming things seems, in our age of scientific razzle-dazzle, so old-fashioned. Yet for breast cancer... more»
Lavishly praised CDs made by pianist Joyce Hatto are total fakes. The polite world of classical music is in turmoil... more» ... more» ... more» ... more» ... more» ... more» ... more» ... No! Joyce’s CDs are real.
Carl Sagan became a media star with Cosmos, but he also became a lightning rod for both the science and the flim-flam of E.T. life... more»
Men just dont get the idea of gossip. You’re supposed to go “No! Really?!” Or, “Oh my God!” Women get it. Men don’t have a clue... more»
Political theory in the West begins with the Bible, grows with the English-Dutch use of the Bible, and leads to both the U.S. and Israel. It’s one idea... more»
London Fashion Week: time for the hoots of laughter and snorts of derision over this year’s outlandish and often unwearable designs... more»
Praising your children to boost their self-esteem can backfire. It does not improve grades, and when it comes from teachers, well... more»
In the war against bacteria, we all work for the resistance. Ramp up the immunity of any organism, and you only help the enemy... more»
Cultures of problem-solving, mastery, and discovery thrive in some lands, but not so much in Europe. And cultures, alas, do make economies... more»
Kirkuk’s oil wealth could set the Kurds free. But between Turkey, Iran, the rest of Iraq, who wants an independent state of Kurdistan?... more»
Arts & Letters Daily readers need to bluff once in a while too: so here’s a guide to speaking wisely of books you have never read... more»
Ben Franklin’s ironic style, his radical, philosophical, deadpan sense of skeptical humor, has bamboozled many historians... more»
Has a racist tract been named for a possible National Book Critics Circle award? Are the nominees racist, or are their critics idiots?... more»
The tenacity and resilience of Chinese authoritarianism is still not grasped by the U.S. Free markets will not soon give democracy to China... more»
If a chardonnay tastes like peach, what does a peach taste like? If you like “chocolately” shiraz so much, why not just eat chocolate?... more»
To be born in Year One of the Russian Revolution made for a sort of contest. Who would live longer, the Soviet Union or Robert Conquest?... more»
China is champion of the world in the export of pollution. Its factories spew sand, smog, and ash into the skies and across the planet... more»
Emily Dickinson, W.B. Yeats, Christina Rosetti, W.H. Auden: you might think they could never be set to pop music. You might be wrong... more»
Gian Carlo Menotti, whose Amahl and the Night Visitors, The Saint of Bleecker Street, and other operas charmed a wide audience, is dead... more»
There have been movements that have tried to appeal to all Muslims. But will they make an “Islamic civilization”? Samuel Huntington doubts it... more»
The pro-sex feminism, the She Devil anger at men – she was going to “eat their testicles” – Judith Regan could impress a young woman writer... more»
Super Bowl Sunday, holiest day in the American religious calendar, unites the faithful with atheists, Sodomites, and Teletubbies... more»
“Vladimir Putin has his hands on enormous power and uses it to catastrophic effect. He does not like people,” said Anna Politkovskaya... more»
Boris Pasternak never knew it, but the CIA funded Dr. Zhivago in Russian, enabling him to be named for the Nobel Prize in 1958... more»
Authors strive to control their words. Reporters need what is fresh. This tension between the two can be the literary interview’s chief draw... more»
The biology of consciousness is a sounder basis for morality than unprovable dogmas about God or an immortal soul. Time to get real... more»
A stubborn belief in the poor, backward, reactionary South of myth still distorts American politics, and progressive politics in particular... more»
Here’s a supreme being able to make a lion and a lamb cuddle but unable to abide two men kissing. Who would want such a god anyway?... more»
Ryszard Kapuscinski, intrepid Polish journalist who traveled light and courted danger, is dead... Guardian ... Wash Post ... NY Times ... London Times ... Telegraph ... WSJ ... and a contrary view
For structure, balance, and poise, it is not possible to imagine music more finished than Mozarts. Even at its most impulsive, it is never strained or out of control... more»
“It never had to be this bad,” says Kenneth Pollack. The reconstruction of Iraq was never going to be quick or easy, but it was not doomed to failure... more»
The technology of ink on paper has over centuries built up an editorial culture that screens for originality, expertise, and seriousness. Compare this to the blogs... more»
Jody Bottum watches his daughter and wife as they happily wrap Christmas gifts. They box, bedeck, bundle, cloak, case, drape, and enfold. He just doesn’t get it... more»
Lyotard, Barthes, Foucault , Adorno, Horkheimer, and Derrida. We don’t usually regard of them as thinkers who inspired modern retailing, but... more»
Weapons alone cant win a war of insurgency – you need to dig wells and build schools. In line with this, the U.S. Army is remaking itself for the 21st century... more» ... more»
Walt Disney was so homespun and square he reinforced intellectual contempt. He became a center of debate about postwar American culture... more»
The book reviewers life is one of homebound excitements – emails, phone calls, and FedEx deliveries – words taken in and sent out again... more»
Free marketeer? Augusto Pinochet tied his advocacy of free markets about people’s eyes like a blindfold, to keep them from seeing his firing squads... more»
“No one is saved until everyone is saved.” Justice must be for all. How can we rationalize applying justice only to ourselves and not to other animals?... more»
Yoga was once feared, loathed, and mocked. Lately it has been beatified. The scent of incense is gone, and yoga now smells like money... more»
Asians are the “new Jews” of higher education, kept out of some colleges by informal quotas. Is it time to give up the idea of racial identity?... more» ... another view
Plato’s Symposium is useful to show that vulgarity and philosophy can coexist. So too for Voltaire and Jonathan Swift. So dont dismiss South Park... more» ... more»
The growth in numbers of Hispanic Americans should worry no one. But runaway illegitimacy among Hispanics is another issue. It is creating a new underclass... more»
Many college profs are “smart, deeply learned,” and “stunningly talented ” teachers who do a “fine job.” That’s why colleges don’t need to teach conservative ideas... more»
The Bush Administration and its critics offer, respectively, 19th- and 20th-century foreign policies for a 21st-century world. But if we want to foster democracy... more»
Why are men, taken on average and as a whole, funnier than women? Well, for one thing, they had damn well better be. Christopher Hitchens explains... more»
The Aeneid exhorts empires to behave, offering a realist prophecy of war and peace, heralding civilization along with its discontents... more»
Latin American republics, Japan and Germany, former Soviet bloc lands, and tigers of Asia: many have chosen democracy. Why not the Arabs?... more»
In a school nativity play, kids act like adults, while in the audience adults seethe with infantile jealousies. A play could be written about it... more»
When a poetry critic wrote a memoir of his marital life, the London Review of Books got his first wife to review it. Literary life would be so dull without backstabbing critics... more»
Is chavismo the best the left has to offer Latin America for the 21st century? It’s time to stop hurling insults, set aside prejudices, and have a civilized discussion... more»
A child is a blank slate. Parents act on it, causing this, then teachers act on it, causing that, and – bingo! You have an adult. Education theorists actually believe this... more»
“Mission accomplished” jokes aside, U.S. goals in Iraq – deposing Saddam and holding elections – have been achieved. Nation-building was never on the agenda, says Gary Kasparov... more»
Gore Vidals rancor towards Truman Capote, Tennessee William and many others does not show paranoia: “I’m different in that I have enemies. Very real ones”... more»
Conservatives have forgotten, if they ever knew it, that the U.S. was built squarely on the rights of individuals to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness... more»
Some things you’re just not allowed to say in politics. But even liberals like Eleanor Roosevelt broke the rules. (Reader advisory: item uses the N-word)... more»
The Tomb of the Unknown Pigeon? Animals too have suffered in war. But may be that memorializing the fact is a way to evade thinking about other issues... more»
Abstract art has been less a search for the ultimately meaningful, wrote Kirk Varnedoe, than a push toward the meaningless, the edges of banality... more»
Hating Paris Hilton is fun: we like a good sneer at the undeserving and decadent rich. She’s our communal dartboard; skewering her gives us a chance to affirm who we are... more»
The Arab world’s passage from the secular to the Islamicist in the last fifty years is illuminated by Egypt’s greatest writer, Naguib Mahfouz... more» In today’s sad Egypt... more»
The American military is now the strongest the world has ever known, stronger than the Wehrmacht in 1940, or the legions of Rome. But what of a terrorist a-bomb?... more»
In fall 1990, as a euphoric Germany celebrated unity, a tragedy began to take shape in Moscow. Records of secret Politburo meetings... more»
The fearsome specter of a nonviolent democratic Islam is haunting suicide bombers and Muslim religious zealots of every stripe. Consider the case of Iran... more»
Harvard says its students should be taught about “faith and reason.” So two roads to reality? A semester’s worth of An Inconvenient Truth? Steven Pinker wonders... more»
Let’s enjoy the Thanksgiving turkey: not everyone else has such a chance. And in our postprandial stupor, let us take a moment to ask, “How will history judge us?”... more»
The 1960s Disney version of Mary Poppins reflected the values of its time. A different age will find other things in P.L. Traverss magically complex story... more»
Forty years calling psychiatrists scum of the earth means that few are still willing to listen to Thomas Szasz – an “atheist who cannot stop speaking about God”... more»
Jane Austen had a lesbian affair with her sister, Cassandra. It’s obvious in Jane’s homophilic descriptions of women, isn’t it? We so love tittle-tattle... more»
In Khomeini’s Iran, as well as in lands ruled by the Taliban, chess was forbidden. Dictators know that it encourages complex, nuanced ways of thinking... more»
Call him what you will, George W. Bush is not a conservative. To see why, we should go back to Locke, to Burke, or even Eisenhower. Jeffrey Hart explains... more»
French New Wave, Sam Peckinpah, cyberpunk, Pulp Fiction, and Mulholland Drive can be traced back to a business gamble taken by a third-tier publisher in 1949... more»
The Aeneid is a long and forbidding poem in a dead language, strewn with arcane allusions and extinct pagan gods. But Virgil’s epic still has its hooks in us... more»
From Canton, Ohio, to Canton, China, the steroids of globalization are, uh, turbocharging new forms of collaboration, says Thomas Friedman... more»
Allen Ginsberg’s “Wichita Vortex Sutra” is an antiwar lament that carries an observational honesty not present in the MTV din of “Howl.” It’s a poem worth recalling today... more»
When Jews suppress critics of Israel, they are in no position to criticize anyone who suppresses anything else. We must have open debate, says Alan Wolfe... more»
Bush will need to bomb Irans nuclear facilities before he leaves office, and the neocons will have to explain why, says neocon Joshua Muravchik... more»
In the 15th century, an emerging middle class had the portrait as a means of public exposure, says Hubert Burda. Today, it’s YouTube. Some things never change... more»
Is he some kind of fascist, like in Germany or Japan, or maybe a Soviet communist? Whatever, many people think David Horowitz ought to be stopped... more»
Food for postcolonial thought: the longer island states spent as colonies, the lower their infant mortality and the higher their present standard of living... more»
Therell always be a TLS, where you can learn about, say, the sin of that poor chap, Onan: actually a pioneer in birth control, as TLS reader Robert Fulford explains... more»
If boys are doing worse in school, whose fault is it? Women, as feminists, or as mothers? In helping girls to achieve, have feminists pathologized boyhood?... more»
We know the aphorisms and slogans of tolerance, says Stanley Fish: Live and let live, can’t we all just get along?, different strokes etc. But is tolerance really possible?... more»
Feisty neocons, disgusted by Iraq, have turned on the president. Their grand designs have been wrecked by White House incompetence... more» Vanity Unfair?... Neocons respond
Norman Mailer’s fatal mistake about Jack Henry Abbott was not fatal for Mailer, of course. So too for judges in places like New Zealand. Theodore Dalrymple explains... more»
I.F. Stone: a good reporter; a naïve left-wing ideologue; a fellow-traveler who was embarrassed by his pro-Soviet youth. His work recalls a sad earlier time... more»
From Madonna to Kylie to Paul McCartney, actors, comics, and singers are deciding to become childrens authors. Most make a terrible job of it... more»
The real threat to humanism today does not come from religious cranks and creationists, but from an army of secular misanthropes: people who despise the human race... more»
One mans God. Or is it God? John Derbyshire has lost his faith. As he sees it, it’s a matter of age, biology, parenthood, and exile... more»
The affluent Iranian drinks and reads and watches what he wants. He’s happy to sacrifice freedom of speech and civil rights in a pact with the mullahs... more»
An Islamic bomb would not be the same as a Christian bomb or a Jewish one. Its role in history will depend on the meaning Muslims give it... more»
White trash” has an American ring to it. Yet today, it is a European fact: the drinking, abuse of welfare, days wasted before the TV, the total contempt for education... more»
“Everything overlaps, I race from one thing to doing another. And why am I still that way after all these years?” Clive James wishes he had an answer... more»
“I know it won’t be easy on me or my family, but God wants me to do it.” George Bush talks evangelical talk as no other president has, including Jimmy Carter... more»
Democracy may yet come to be in Vladimir Putins Russia, but if it does, it will still be in the context of secrecy and the focus of power in the hands of the few... more»
Many Arab writers view themselves as secular, enlightened, and critical – intellectuals who stand for free speech and human rights. Khalid al-Maaly wonders... more»
Americans want immigration, but they want it controlled in a way that allows migrants honorably to earn citizenship... more» And as the census odometer turns over...
Iraq: the solution. Cut a deal with other states in the region, says Andrew Sullivan, to stabilize and police Iraq... more» The Iraq war was a mistake, says Jonah Goldberg.
Jewcentricity is a kind of eternal madness that now binds Jews, Muslims, and Americans together in the most improbable ways. Adam Garfinkel explains how... more»
Dominique de Villepin is in a long line of Quai dOrsay anti-Semites when he calls Israel “a parenthesis in history”... more»
The Hannah Arendt routine has some pundit trotting out her theory of totalitarianism once a week, extending it to al-Qaeda, Saddam, Iran... more»
Charles Baudelaire’s mordant yet exquisite poems are dark jewels – magical, capable of changing your life... more»
The critic’s passion should be to expose the shams that turn expedience into culture. Lee Siegel is a passionate critic... more»
In late 1944, it looked as if Hitler would not get the bomb. So should the Allies have put on hold their own efforts to build one?... more»
“We have learned nothing in 12,000 years.” Picasso felt the Paleolithic cave artists were pretty up to date... more»
A.J.P. Taylor, architect of pop history, thought it should be written as a novel, with all the style, wit, and cynicism that entailed... more»
“The best way to have a good idea,” it’s been said, “is to have lots of ideas.” Marvin Minsky has lots of ideas, nearly 400 pages of them... more»
If the obnoxious (and witty) Mark Steyn taught at a U.S. college, he would sent off to “sensitivity training” for life, without parole... more»
Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia ransacked Europe in search of tall soldiers and assembled the tallest group of men till the advent of basketball... more»
The history of the Devils hold over humanity has been up and down. Over the past half-century, though, he has rarely been out of fashion... more»
The brilliant young Spinoza might have applied his mind to the Torah. Sadly, he died as a man cursed by his own people... more»
Sainthood is a kind of legacy, but fiction writers tend to prefer readers to worshippers. R.K. Narayan is, alas, sort of a saint... more»
Courtney Love’s dad denies he gave her LSD when she was four. She denies taking heroin when pregnant with Kurt Cobain’s daughter... more»
Politicized art history is now just a species of social history. T.J. Clark is too good an art historian not to see this as a loss... more»
The diaries of the Goncourt brothers – vain, vengeful, brutally honest – tell a secret history of Paris of the Second Empire... more»
Conrad Black: now that the great Canadian bear is safely restrained, its enemies poke sticks through the railings to bait it... more» ... more»
Darwin left Cambridge at age 23 with good manners, enough money, and a habit of intense concentration, but no specific ambition. That came later... more»
Hasn’t Bloomsbury overload set in at last? Not quite yet, as an engaging new biography of “Mr. Virginia Woolf” shows... more»
Marathon? A landmark battle, to be sure. But more important for the modern world was Thermopylae, 480 BC... more»
As the poem says, “Minus times minus equals plus / The reason for this we need not discuss.” Martin Gardner knows math is weird... more»
Ah, the British. Say glaahhs for glass, and baahhth for bath, and they figure out both your education and what you will inherit from mummy and daddy... more»
Maos Cultural Revolution: as sickening as it was, it seems to have taught the Chinese few lessons. Mao’s vision is not dead yet... more»
“The emergence of life is a significant step on the path of cosmic evolution.” Well, it is significant to things that are alive. But still... more»
Why don’t we just lay off the fatties? They’re not hurting anybody – maybe not even themselves... more»
The only woman who seems not to have liked Casanova as much as he liked himself was his mother. All the others... more»
The onset of cholera is quick and spectacular; you can be healthy one moment and dead within hours... more»
Order out of chaos. Will to power. These may be the only truisms about human nature in the whole sorry Sigmund Freud saga... more»
If you eat like a French woman, you are going to have to start dressing like one. Mireille Guiliano has the fashion tips... more»
String theory will unravel when its promoters get bored with their lack of progress. Like the Soviet Union: collapse from within... more»
Highly educated women have been served all sorts of bad news about marriage and family prospects. Time for some good news... more» ... more»
Those precious hours wasted before the TV watching tennis, baseball, football, soccer, or golf. Could it be that it was worthwhile after all?... more»
European ideas of war in the Gunpowder Age featured dynamism, intellectual curiosity, rationalism, and a will toward efficiency... more»
In discussing the Middle East, Jimmy Carter’s generous spirit extends to the Palestinians, but not so easily to the Israelis... more»
Alexis de Tocqueville felt that despotism has no dates: it can be ancient or modern, it can be monarchy or democracy... more»
Leonard Woolf, adored by Mitzy, his marmoset, was an immensely intelligent, kind, hardworking, and, alas, ill-remembered man... more»
Daniil Kharms, born in 1905, so irritated Soviet censors he was arrested in 1931 and 1941. He died in prison, but his work lived on as samizdat... more»
What Kissinger and Nixon did for relations with Mao and China in the 1970s required vision and immense skill... more»
When it comes to class, what games the English play, with anxiety, friction, and resentment all in the pursuit of status... more»
Islam has youth and will, Europe has age and welfare. Premodern Islam will beat post-modern Christianity any day of the week... more»
Like us, dogs, wolves, chimps, and macaques are all social animals. They show that we are not unique inventors of empathy and morality... more»
Can the groundbreaking ideas of Marshall McLuhan be made any harder to grasp than they already are? It’s a tough ask, but a new McLuhan edition... more»
Thomas Pynchon’s novel adds new characters, settings, and plots till the last of its 1,100 pages. Dazzling, if that’s the kind of thing that dazzles you... more»
René Descartes’s Cogito, ergo sum, “I think therefore I am,” was always a bit cryptic. “Am what?” is still a good question... more»
Philosophical detective novels use philosophy and sleuthing, both needing calculation and logic more than intuition and imagination... more»
Orientalist scholarship made out rich cultures in terms of racist ideas. Or maybe Edward Said’s own scholarship was shoddy and unreliable... more»
A kind of algebra useless in the 19th century was crucial for Einstein. Its creators were Arthur Cayley and James Sylvester... more»
What’s the key to Barack Obama’s appeal? His name? The good looks, the ease and warmth? Yes to all – but there is also his message... more»
Rhetoric combines truth with lies in order to persuade. While it has a place in the public diplomacy toolbox, the state needs more... more»
Laura Kipnis’s The Female Thing is many things – funny, obnoxious, elegant, and even quite useful – but it’s a little too slippery to love... more»
Igor Stravinsky wrote off Europe after the war: “They can have their Führers. Leave me Mr. Truman and I’m quite satisfied”... more»
Chess may or may not be the most intellectual of all games, says Michael Dirda, but it is certainly the most romantic... more»
Add those who don’t vote to voters for extremist parties, and 50% of the French electorate are turning their backs on their political elites... more»
We shop for necessities, shop for status, shop to socialize, to escape, to people-watch, and for therapy. It was not always so... more»
In international politics you can think youve won, or lost, and be in later on for a big surprise. Consider Somalia, Rwanda, or even Iraq... more»
Our cultural catechism: to have nubile availability for women old enough to be grannies via face-lifts, liposuction, implants, labiaplasty... more»
The balance of amusement and insight was perfect in Harry Frankfurt’s recent bestseller. He’s back, but alas, truth is bigger game than bullshit... more»
Thomas Eakins used a nude male model in an 1886 lecture attended by women. In Philadelphia it was a visual shock... more»
Gore Vidal has always revelled in the aristocrat’s pose of cool detachment. In his latest he allows that pose to freeze into indifference... more»
That Jewish conspiracy, the neocons, is but a puny threat compared to the theocons, the cabal intent on joining church and state... more»
With Tchaikovsky, as with Mozart, musical inventiveness was instinctive, as necessary as breathing... more»
If the media’s scare stories oversold the dangers of LSD, Timothy Leary’s sales pitch for it vastly oversold its benefits... more»
Cartooning was for the young Walt Disney an escape to a world where he had absolute control, a world that he alone could animate... more»
Maos technique was to be always ambiguous, keeping subordinates in a state of uncertainty, “transfixed like rabbits in front of a cobra”... more»
It is extremely difficult to give robots human abilities: to respond to sounds or grasp objects. This is changing, says Bill Gates... more»
“Every man has his secrets,” Carl Jung said. Especially Jung’s colleague Sigmund Freud, an old hotel register now reveals... more»
De gustibus non disputandum est is for economists an old saw. They still don’t dispute, but they would like better to understand... more»
Ronald Suresh Roberts looked to be the perfect biographer, so Nadine Gordimer gave him full access to her papers. Big mistake... more»
Alex Heard simply likes to make Christmas wreaths for the ladies in his life. Okay, you got a problem with that?... more»
She looked down at her shoes: cheap slip-ons. Her eyes filled with tears. “I used to have beautiful shoes.” That was before the bedbugs... more»
Mathematical proof, it seems, is foolproof only when there are no fools around. Or, as Socrates said to a slave boy... more»
Rembrandt thinks in paint, and the thinking makes the painting great. Eye and hand do their part, but it is his mind we remember... more»
Was there a stable? Three kings? Shepherds? Even the gospels can’t agree, so maybe it doesn’t matter if kitsch rules at Christmas... more»
It was an idea born of pure greed, but Publishers Weekly now honors an architect of this year’s O.J. Simpson scandal... more» ... while Judith Regan has just been fired.
Imminent collapse is not on the cards for China. On the other hand, how bright is Chinas future? Will Hutton and Meghnad Desai debate... more»
Chile has had democracy for 17 years, exactly as long as the dictatorship lasted. Much may have changed, but still there is an undercurrent... more»
A U.S. banker in China once said, “There’s a billion people here who don’t like following instructions.” The Chinese are today even more willful... more»
Any aggressor would have to think twice about attacking Switzerland, if it had seen the biggest Swiss Army knife of all... more»
Had he not died at the age of 48, James Clerk Maxwell would likely have discovered special relativity a decade or more before Einstein... more»
Predator panics tend to pass away, leaving in their wake expensive, ineffective laws. No one protects us from those... more»
Did Thomas Hardy infect his first wife, Emma, with syphilis? Robert Frizzell looks at the evidence, including his poetry and her symptoms... more»
Chain stores and restaurants make towns in America all look alike. Yes, to some extent. But how different were those towns in the 1950s?... more»
Many roads led to 9/11. One of them began with an Egyptian who got a bad haircut in Greeley, Colorado in 1949... more»
Tempted by, uh, temptation? Now you can outsource your self-discipline to the state. Jim Holt explains how... more»
If Hannah Arendt’s star shines so brightly, remarks Russell Jacoby, perhaps it is because the American intellectual firmament is so dim... more»
All the taxes Dave Barry ever paid – it’s a lot – will not pay for even one year of the strategic helium reserve. Yes, he’s sore... more»
Though they’d been writing about each other for years, Michael Bérubé and David Horowitz had never met. Now it was time for lunch... more»
Beyoncé Knowles’s odd new album, B’Day, is one of the most urgent and disruptive R&B releases in recent memory... more» ... the video
No one school of economics can explain and predict every aspect of human economic behavior. Not even in a place like Chicago... more»
That there is a persistent gap in black/white IQ scores is not in dispute. How to understand the difference, and narrow it, is another question... more»
France is that part of Europe where political leaders are most vocally opposed to capitalism and globalization. Well, anyway, in theory... more»
Our beauty obsession has its upside: looking good is no longer the province of gods and near-gods. We can all can join in... more»
It may be the least expensive item in the wardrobe, but its appeal grows and grows. Classic, chic, and sexy, it is the little black dress... more»
Conservatives give to charity, as do liberals. But who gives more? The shock answer has made for hot debate... more»
At 83, Henry Kissinger wears two hearing aids and is blind in one eye. His hair has turned snowy white, but his presence is startling... more»
Truman Capote had 540 of his friends to the Plaza Hotel for a lavish party just forty years ago. Was it the start of an age, or the end?... more»
For China, athletics has little to do with sport. It is not about health or well-being, but about political struggle... more»
“I take refuge,” Tom Stoppard once remarked, “in the fact that I can’t change anything by agonizing about it, so I don’t”... more»
The 586 volumes of KGB files on Andrei Sakharov and Elena Bonner were destroyed in 1989. But memos based on them survived... more»
Women say personality, and not physical height, is what counts in a man. Darwinian psychology says the ladies are kidding themselves... more»
Rich nations can best help poor countries by acting against corrupt leaders, assisting R&D, and enhancing global labor mobility... more»
Is murder unique to humans? In her study of chimps, Jane Goodall showed it was not. For good or ill, we are not as special as we fancy... more»
“The only Zen you find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there.” At 78, Robert Pirsig still knows, and doesn’t know... more»
Few have been as perceptive or as witty about bad behavior as Kingsley Amis, or have been as consistently accused of it... more»
There may be a great film to be made about rebel Beethoven, vulnerable Beethoven, or young lion Beethoven. Then again, maybe not... more»
What are works of art? For some museums they are assets to be strip-mined in order to “grow the business.” Eric Gibson explains... more»
There are thousands of violent internal struggles in history, but few are remembered as civil wars. Is the violence in Iraq a civil war?... more»
Milton Friedman, economist, is dead at the age of 94... WSJ ... LAT ... NYT ... FT ... NY Sun ... London Times ... Forbes ... Bloomberg ... WSJ interview ... Boston Globe ... SF Chron ... NYT ... Business Week ... WSJ ... Telegraph ... WP ... TCS ... WP ... Fortune ... Nat’l Post ... Motley Fool ... Australian ... Nat’l Post ... Nat’l Review ... Market Watch ... Salon ... Forbes ... American Prospect
Socrates “corrupted the youth of Athens” and paid the price. Is evolutionary psychology in a similar way corrupting the youth of today?... more»
It was the beginning of the end for the Upper East Side. John Kennedy Jr.’s taking up residence in Tribeca. Jay McInerney explains... more»
No Congressman or Senator admits being an atheist, says Richard Dawkins: “It just doesn’t add up. Either they’re stupid, or lying”... more»
Conrad Black expects his trial will be “spectacular” and he’ll walk away a free man. He may be right on the first count... more»
“You see things much more clearly,” says novelist Sue Townsend of her current condition. She’s got to know: she is now blind... more»
Norwegian is not always the lingua franca in Norway. Nor, some say, is English the tongue of choice in the black ghettos of America... more»
The Southwest Museum, with its vast collection of American Indian artifacts, has been taken over by – the Gene Autry Museum? Whoa!... more»
As a little experiment, a SUNY Buffalo academic seeded false data into Wikipedia articles. How long did it take before his acts were noticed?... more»
Young authoritarians: college students more concerned with hurt feelings and correct ideas than open debate and free thinking... more»
Like moths to the flame, voters gravitate to the same mistakes. They do not even cancel each other out; they compound their errors... more»
The Stern Review and its scary climate catastrophism is the stuff of nightmares. Too bad the economics behind it is such abject rubbish... more»
Jack the Dripper: he was a drunk, a depressive, and a wife-beater. But Jackson Pollock was also a genius... more»
Supply Column 21 was in danger of being wiped out, ambushed at night by the Viet Cong. Peter Arnett was there... more»
Electrodes in the brain won’t explain the experience of the Grand Canyon. How about the experience of religion?... more»
William Styron, novelist who proved that the Holocaust was not beyond art, has died, aged 81... more» ... more» ... more» ... more» ... more» ... more»
Malcolm Arnold was another of those composers raked over the coals in the 1960s by critics who wrongly believed tonality was obsolete... more»
Clifford Geertz, whose work pushed anthropology toward the humanities and away from the sciences, is dead at the age of 80... Inst Advanced Study ... Chron Higher Ed ... New York Times
In the modern world, a nap is seen as a mark of weakness, physical or moral. The very young, the sick, and the old nap. Not normal adults... more»
The latest in science-driven hysteria has it that fat people cause global warming. But don’t tell them, they’ll only eat more. Gina Kolata explains... more»
Why are so many novelists in the modern age drawn to write about the ancient world – Greece, yes, but especially Rome?... more»
The intellectual dexterity that once distinguished campus conservatives has given way to mindless GOP boosterism... more»
G.W. Bush and Albert Camus believe that the times call for clear moral guidelines: “Tout ce qui nest pas avec nous est contre nous”... more»
Human beings will some day split into two species: one tall, smart, and creative, the other dumpy, ugly, and stupid. Maybe... more»
Stewart Brand is best known as the founder of the Whole Earth Catalog and its web offspring, The Well. He is a uniquely influential thinker... more»
“Understanding the workings of grammar liberates. If you don’t know how to construct a sentence, how can you express yourself?”... more» ... more»
“My grandfather was born in 1888 and he didn’t have a lifestyle. He didn’t need one: he had a life.” Michael Bywater on being adult... more»
Foreigners tend to be deeply ambivalent about the U.S. – dazzled and repelled by malls, churches, cars, the poor, the rich, openness and vitality... more»
Conrad Black’s problems, his self-destructiveness, can be traced back – to what? The loveless childhood? The academic failure?... more»
An autistics lack of empathy, his language deficit and poor imitation, are what you’d expect if mirror neurons were not functional... more»
Anna Russell, who created hilarious parodies of Wagner’s Ring and Gilbert and Sullivan, is dead at the age of 94... more» ... more»
Their literature is great, their painting respectable. But when it comes to music, the English are close to fourth rate... more»
A new palmistry? Not exactly. But the relationship between the index finger and the fourth finger might tell a tale or two... more»
His career over 40 years shows Terry Eagleton to be a bit like Zelig or Forrest Gump: always there at the crucial moments... more»
Now we are 300 million. With Europe, Russia, and Japan in decline, the population of the optimistic United States surges ahead... more»
Radio Free Europe, staffed by émigré Hungarians during the Hungarian Revolution, slandered Imre Nagy as just another communist... more»
Different planets. Sweden is the best place in the world to give birth, and Niger the worst. Joanna Moorhead visited both... more»
The desktop is dead. We will soon live in the Internet cloud, where massive facilities across the globe will store all the data we’ll ever use... more»
Anna Politkovskaya’s story has sadly ended like one she herself would have written... more» ... more» ... book excerpt ... her last article
Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk has won the Nobel Prize for Literature... more» ... more» ... more» ... more» ... more» ... more»
NYU’s Tony Judt has been blocked from speaking in New York. He is “too critical of Israel and American Jewry”... more» ... more»
The military zeppelin, USS Macon, crashed and sank off Point Sur, California in 1935. It has been lying on the ocean floor ever since... more»
Azar Nafisi’s memoir, Reading Lolita in Tehran, is widely viewed as a brave book. Is she merely a tool of Bush and the neocons?... more» ... more»
The Green jetsetters, Al Gore and friends, fly around the world to warn of the dangers of carbon dioxide. But what about all that flying?... more»
Susan Sontag would not have liked Annie Leibovitz’s photos of her. “Well, you could never publish them while she was alive. But she’s dead”... more»
Are people rational maximizers of their own self-interest? Neuroscience says, no, there is also a passionate side to homo economicus... more»
Wars of choice do not sustain public support if things go badly, whereas wars to defend the realm fortify support. So with Iran... more»
As a young assistant prof, Kerry Soper hid his tutu and slippers from hostile faculty. These days in the classroom he lets it all come out... more»
Genocide in Darfur? Yeah, the Jews are responsible for that too. Ahmed Elzobier on the delusions of Omar Al-Bashir... more»
Understanding the universe and the potential for life in it casts light on our species, our society, and our individual lives on Earth ... more»
Nikita Khrushchev’s secret speech denouncing Stalin had set the stage. Fifty years ago this month, Hungary rose in revolution... more»
It’s been a long march down the crunchy granola path from macramé and LSD to the Web, Wikipedia and Google... more» ... more»
Fight to the death with an ant the size of a bus? Might be easier than you think, given the biology of B-movie monsters... more»
What do jihadists, Ivy League profs, Christian end-timers, and baby boomers have in common? They’re all hot for the apocalypse... more»
The Nazis had seized the family Klimts, but at last the heirs have them back. So what do they immediately do with them?... more»
The political potential of blogs is not to deliver votes but to alter ideas. Blogs may remake the Democratic Party... more»
Dubai has sold its Arab soul to globalization like few cities: a weird Las Vegas on the Persian Gulf, with whores, censorship, and no Jews allowed... more»
Fifty years ago, two western powers invaded an Arab land, defying international law and world opinion. So which side was the U.S. on?... more»
Once the province of Garbo and Astaire, movie glamour now comes from Superman and Spider-Man. A cause for regret or celebration?... more»
The Da Vinci Code lawsuit was doomed: you cant protect facts and ideas in that way. So why were news reports of the case so confused?... more»
Is truth beauty and beauty truth? And is string theory beautiful, or true, or both – or neither? Jim Holt wonders... more»
Beethoven transcended his deafness as Shostakovich overcame the living hell of his political predicament... more» ... more» ... more»
“If I were God,” Michael Frayn says, “I’d find it rather difficult to believe in myself.” But that skepticism is his very charm... more»
Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan: you know where you are with them. But what is the unifying theme of Julian Barnes’s work?... more»
Ancestors of the British and the Irish were Basques, not Celts – who, by the way, were not wiped out by the Anglo-Saxons... more»
Pham Xuan An was Time’s last reporter in Saigon in 1975. He was a fine journalist – and a spy who’d sent military intelligence north for years... more» ... obit
Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic were the Stanley and Livingstone of the kitsch jungles of America with their fantasy Tiki Bars... more»
“Guilt remains. It ticks away, keeping your place for you even on a journey to nowhere.” Günter Grass should know... more»
London is a city that forgets, constructed as it is above discarded tunnels, on ruined buildings, old graveyards, and burial pits... more»
Iraq has seen the collapse of the authority of the state, says Martin Amis, and the collapse of the value of human life... more»
Despite her masterpieces of political analysis, Hannah Arendt seems to live on through just four words: “The banality of evil”... more»
How different the Great Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 looks to us now: words like jihad, once hardly noticed, scream off dusty pages of Urdu... more»
Millions have surrendered to the face-lift knife to cure Carb Face, the Trout Pout; Wind Tunnel Face, Kabuki Mask... more»
Due process and liberty need protection, to be sure, but when it comes to dealing with terrorism, the “Bill of Rights is not a suicide pact”... more»
We think we know Dante – his love for Beatrice, feelings of exile, aims as a writer. But when we look closely, the picture crumbles... more»
Dubya’s Musharraf problem: he can’t admit his “ally” for five years has been double - crossing him nearly every minute of that time... more»
George Lakoff has the way for Democrats to win at the polls: conservatives must be treated as morons, taxes renamed “membership fees”... more»
Is neoconservatism passé? No, argues Douglas Murray. In terms of its vision of liberty, it’s just getting started... more»
Academic charisma – and the ascetic life of scholarship that goes with it – has forever a central place in college life... more»
Consciousness is real. It can’t be a mere illusion because you have to be conscious to consciously have the illusion... more»
Science has come a long way since it was nothing more than myths, stories, and cave paintings. And it is ever in danger of falling back... more»
Harry Truman said, “If that’s art, I’m a Hottentot.” His distaste for modernism was shared by most Americans in the 1950s... more»
Hannah Arendt may no longer be relevant in the manner of today’s headlines, but she is still, like all original thinkers, timeless... more» ... more» ... more»
Colin Powell thinks of himself as a loyal and disinterested counselor who served a bad president and a failed administration. But... more»
“What’s beautiful in science is what’s beautiful in Beethoven. There’s a fog of events, and suddenly you see a connection.“ Or not... more»
Goethe, Beethoven, Kant: in the 19th century, Germans were so taken with their art and culture that they tragically forgot politics... more»
Maintaining moral discipline and renouncing witchcraft (peddled by Osama Bin Laden or new-age gurus) are what the West... more»
George Bush is “a very good pitchman,” Frank Rich admits. “Look at the Democrats. They couldn’t sell you back your own parents”... more»
Pilsener beer was a fine idea, but you couldn’t make it with with American barley. You got great blobs of protein, a bit like drinking a lava lamp... more»
Joseph Epstein won’t tell you how to make friends, or keep them. Or even whether to care. But still, on the subject of friendship, his gifts... more»
Not everyone is thrilled by the plans of Google to scan and digitize books in the world’s libraries. But the possibilities... more»
John Carey’s view of art gives reasons to hoi polloi not to exert themselves unduly, since with culture there is no better or worse... more»
Herbert Aptheker was praised as a pioneer in black history and reviled for his support of the Soviet Union’s crushing of Hungary... more»
Animal illustration of a high order mixes with free and spontaneous scribbles to make up the masterworks of the Paleolithic caves... more»
A solipsistic shuffling about of symbols as relevant to a grasp the universe as random bits of dadaist prose. That’s String Theory... more»
Michael Frayn’s ability to send up philosophers is legend. So where is the wit and insight in his new book on philosophy?... more»
There is a sadness, a kind of long unrequited yearning, hidden in the history of Irans relations with the U.S.... more»
“Enough excuses,” remarks Günter Grass. But his new book is one long excuse for a life that was hopelessly compromised by hypocrisy... more»
No point in going to the Flore: it’s not the same place where Sartre hung out. The Paris of Hemingway is gone too... more»
Is the crematorium half full or half empty? It depends on how cheery your point of view is in an age of mass murder... more»
Muslim and Western worlds must learn not merely to tolerate but to appreciate one another.” We can all agree, but... more»
Gallic machismo was fixed by the Revolution. When the men of 1789 spoke of “fraternity,” they were being quite literal... more»
Robert Hughes learned from the Jesuits that whatever “self-expression” may be, it’s nothing without articulate, conscious form... more»
Transporting slaves from Africa to America was outlawed in 1820, but continued in secret till 1858. The last slave ship was the Wanderer... more»
For Francis Fukuyama, Bush’s error was to think there was a pent-up demand in Iraq for democracy, a civil society, and rule of law... more»
The Hungarian Revolution was the last European revolution: impotent, poignant, and for Peter Nádas, personal... more» ... more» ... more» ... more»
Western governments must act to combat the economic rise of China and Asia. The West should move on an ambitious project: a European / American free-trade zone... more»
Richard Dawkins sees religion and fundamentalist religion as the same and regards more reflective faith as belonging to a small coterie. This is grotesquely false... more»
If we are aggrieved by the rigors of the rat race, the answer is not the clumsy guidance of a paternal state. The answer is simply to stop being a rat. Will Wilkinson explains... more»
As Sam Goldwyn might have said, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a movie studio in possession of a good fortune must be in want of Great Books”... more»
Social policy should be formed, said John Rawls, with an eye toward how it affects societys least advantaged members. Does this entail left liberal politics? Maybe not... more»
The mystery of frat-boy movies. Who watches these “repulsive, grotesque spectacles”? Well, American males under 25 are the world’s most lucrative filmgoing demographic... more»
Immigrants have been accused of debasing U.S. culture, crowding schools and hospitals, and lowering wages. But are they sending American blacks to jail?... more»
“In December 2005 I flew to Chicago, endured a minor medical procedure, and sold twelve ova to a pair of strangers for $10,000.” Donor #15 tells her story... more»
Better that the U.S. topples dictators than props them up, says Bernard Henri Lévy. But France will complain whatever America does, most loudly when it does nothing... more»
The Food Network is a long way from Julia Child. But it still presents the happy narrative of the raw to the cooked, says Bill Buford, the oldest story line in human history... more»
The insurgency in Iraq is more primal than political, a scream of impotent rage rather than violence for a specific aim. It is making Iraq the worlds first suicide state... more»
A personal library is an X-ray of the owner’s soul, says Jay Parini. Books show a temperament, an intellectual disposition, a way of being in the world... more»
Sure, go to college. But learn a manual trade in the summers. You’ll be less damaged, and maybe better paid, as an independent tradesman than as a cubicle-dwelling Dilbert... more»
Readers are now supposed to crave a diet of shorter news stories, gossip columns, and blog entries. The rise of the newsbook, says Jack Shafer, refutes this notion... more»
Totalitarianism was by no means a concept forged just for the cold war. But its renewal after 1947 enabled former “progressives” to turn from anti-Nazism to anti-Sovietism... more»
Conspiracy theories about such events as 9/11 are mind-numbingly stupid. What drives people to adopt them?... more» Iran is a land of conspiracy theories... more»
Aldo Leopold meets Alice Waters, Rachel Carson meets M.F.K. Fisher. We need a new food system with sustainable practices, cultural nous, good nutrition, and taste... more»
Kim Jong Il’s atom bomb obscures the real threat: the prospect of North Koreas catastrophic collapse. After the dust settles, the likely winner will be China... more»
“Truth and falsehood cannot coexist on this earth,” wrote Sayyid Qutb. A central concept in Islamic thought, says Rebecca Bynum: all that isfalsemust be destroyed... more»
Time for photography critics to join the tradition of Kael, Jarrell and Kazin, of James Agee and Arlene Croce: not to drown in bathos, but to integrate emotion... more»
With his one-man kitchen-table weekly, the incorruptible I.F. Stone blazed the way for a generation of bloggers, and became a D.C. legend... more» ... more» ... more»
Millions of Arabs and other Muslim men and women have been murdered over the last seventy years. It is matter of genocide. Who is responsible for this killing?... more»
If a physicist determines that a huge number of universes with different properties are possible and equally probable, is he still doing physicsor metaphysics?... more»
“Once again,” Brahms wisecracked, “I’ve just thrown together a bunch of polkas and waltzes.” He was referring to the melancholy Fourth Symphony... more»
Palestines history is hidden from the West, obscured by the riveting and tragic narrative of modern Jewish history. Rashid Khalidi explains... more»
The hostility of Islamism to leftwing movements, and the use of Islamists in the cold war to fight communism and the left, deserve careful study, says Fred Halliday... more»
The game is now clear: any dispute between Christianity and Islam must follow rules set by political Islamism. Obey them or risk violence and death... more» ... more» ... more» The West, says Sam Harris, really is at risk from Muslim extremists.
When women seek passion between the covers of a book, it is only another woman who will really know how to deliver it. Men cant write romantic fiction... more»
Henrik Ibsen was estranged from most of his family, his small hometown of Skien, and Norway itself. It shows in his work... more»
Noam Chomsky is an intelligent man. Not all he says in criticism of the U.S. is wrong. He is valued, however, not for his truths, but for his rage, which his admirers adore... more»
Can one be a conservative Christian and a committed Darwinian? Yes, says Michael Shermer, religion and evolution do have ideas in common... more»
Two hundred new “For Dummies” titles come out every year. At that rate, there may soon be more Dummies books than dummies to read them... more»
Where are the Margot Fonteyns?” How politically correct attitudes toward touching children are killing dance education in Britain... more»
In Iraq as in Afghanistan, military strategists have learned the hard way that “Know Thy Enemy, Know Thyself” matters more than the bookish “Know Thy Clausewitz”... more»
If stray remarks by Western leaders – or films, books, cartoons – are going to inspire regular violence, why not, well, quit saying sorry and defend free speech?... more»
Some were saddened by Barbara Epstein’s death in June; others never heard of her. A litmus test, perhaps, for whether the person is an intellectual?... more»


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