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Nota Bene Archive

Best animal stories
Let’s go to Mars
Best nature photos
Zombie movies
Gladwell’s problem
Climate trade wars
Libraries and ebooks
Play guitar, attract girls
Classics they loathe
Healthy champagne
The New Gay Romance
Be an Art Woman
COP15’s empty promises (video)
In praise of big lectures
Sorry, Virginia, there is no...
Listen to Mother Earth
Paul Samuelson R.I.P.
Can Julie really cook?
Book comes to life
Kirkus Reviews R.I.P.
Women and salads
Skeptic’s Climate A-Z
Tiger Woods and physics
Climate Fight Club
Anthropology wars
Women and sex
That SkyMall junk
Chomsky half full
New Ella Fitzgerald tracks
Amy Alkon on rudeness
H.C. Landon Robbins R.I.P.
Gate crashers
Bennett on Sinatra
A new blue
Global-warming emails
Tobias Wolff
Monogamy isn’t easy
Did rats kill Easter Island?
Spectacular clouds
Norman Levitt R.I.P.
Billy Carter’s gas station
Oxford’s words of the year
No reason to tweet
Music of the castrati
Gladwell sendup
Ayn Rand freak out
Kenneth Clark
Who’s a Jew
Let’s eat bugs
Why Neanderthals vanished
Woody Allen and Prozac
A Byzantine Pax Americana
Pete Shellem R.I.P.
Golf cart stimulus
Amazon vs. Wal-Mart
Hating Mother Teresa
What to wear to sell a book
Fish friendly red wine
“Two bags of silicone”
Mad Men
Malcolm Gladwell
Battle of Agincourt
Interview with Fukuyama
Gore Vidal, again
French without faux pas
Why we need God
Bunny-heated Sweden
Can’t grow up
Margo Daly R.I.P.
Marketing your book
Tiny worlds
Hobby aquariums
They still love Berlusconi
Finding Kilimanjaro
Étant donnés
Kafka and Israel
New Metropolitan Museum
McDonald’s in the Louvre
At the end of my pencil
Online newspaper stats
Birthdays in decline
Obama/Bush thought experiment
The 237 reasons for sex
Frida Kahlo fakes? [more]
Harvard’s piles of gold
Do you speak criminal?
Alicia de Larrocha R.I.P.
Nudist hiking trail
Fun general knowledge quiz
Bloomberg’s paternalism
Banning outdoor smoking
Dan Brown’s worst sentences
Fake moon rocks
Myles Brand R.I.P.
Dan Brown plot generator
Driving Miss Lazy
“Life reeked with joy!”
The four o’clock dress
Baader Meinhof movie
Library without books
Bird-brain art critics
Baryshnikov at sixty
Kids’ imaginary worlds
Pyrocumulus clouds (video)
Pocket toilet for ladies
Most annoying phrases
Facebook exodus
Girls, snakes, spiders
Tall men get cancer?
Wrong-way Samoans
Multitasking mayhem
A greener Taco Bell (video)
How long can an airplane last?
The uses of crying
The wrath of Khan
Smart coffee mugs
Beethoven’s ukulele
Richard Poirier R.I.P.
All Twitter, no Twain
Violins left in taxis
Humans, crows, minds
The worst and the dimmest
Racetrack lessons
What happens in August
How green is your sushi?
Poodles are smarter
How will America end?
Voices of Meryl Streep (video)
Curse of the yummy
Twitter against nukes
Know your shaman
Oliver Sacks on music
Don’t text when you drive
Robert McNamara R.I.P.
Michael Jackson, bookworm
Coffee on the honor system
Atheist stand-up comics
Pop music ’zines are dying
Britney goes Jewish
Merce Cunningham R.I.P.
Academics are conformists
New Mozart discovery
Amartya Sen
The concept of duty
Leszek Kołakowski R.I.P.
Frank McCourt R.I.P.
Michael Jackson’s animals
Sickest film ever?
Hot celebrity gossip
Cats’ con games
Homeopathic A&E (video)
Culture snobs
Movie novelization
Muslim superheroes
Hitchens Q&A
Ward Churchill, cont.
Brain scrubbing
Niall Ferguson interview
Jefferson secret message
Dog “guilt”
Gladwell v. Anderson
Michael Jackson, booklover
Florida’s honeymoon
Jefferson and Monticello
Don’t forget Farrah
Subjects for a pop song
Truth about writers
Cricket will save Pakistan
Ali Akbar Khan R.I.P.
Why homosexuality?
Dr. Seuss
Dictator’s handbook
Sixty years after 1984
Vanity scholarly publishing
Cardboard better for wine
Get that book deal
Weekly Standard to be sold
Science and fraud
Doomed to be an academic?
Art or bust
Nonexistent beach reads
Nouriel Roubini
Sotomayor as prose stylist
Ladies in charge
The Berlin Wall
Girls are such bitches
Sarkozy as sex dwarf
Spooks’ Ball
Sam’s Club
Good game?
Bedbug dogs
The most beautiful libraries
Have a kosher baby!
Baseball slang
Leonard Cohen
The climate-industrial complex
Steamy stealth bomber
What flight attendants hate
Obama: Pay heed to India
Buckminster Fuller
Huntington eulogies
World’s best illusion
Evolution of music
Toby Young
It’s not the Great Depression
Geithner’s confession
Vintage port
God in prime time
Storm in a double D cup
“Americans hate puns”
Penis as Rosetta Stone
Marilyn French R.I.P.
More on Strunk and White
Those dancing parrots
Sacha Baron Cohen
In Character
Sad to junk your old car
Before you join the Amish...
Scary employment map
Twitter is bad for kids
Oprah’s school cuts back
Most hated type font
Susan Boylemania
Fatties cause global warming
World leaders on Facebook
J.G. Ballard R.I.P.
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick R.I.P.
Hapsburg incest
In praise of booing
Scratch that itch
Bloomberg’s experiment
Damned lies and statistics
Madoff vs. the Lobsters
Bodice-ripper boom
Brazza in the Congo
Liberated or just confused?
Nelson Algren at 100
Too much kale, turnips
Shopping sprees and periods
Are shopping malls dying?
The Facebook Aeneid
Franz Kafka Int’l Airport
John Hope Franklin, R.I.P.
In praise of YouTube
Bad jokes easier to recall
Border collies are smart
Book stealing
Departure e-mail
Brits have the best gossip
Art Linkletter
Sad yummy mummies
Jane Austen fight
Insemination fight
Hard to censor “Wang”
Red Sox and Yankees
No big eggs
Soccer is ruining America
Home teams win
Dinner with Hitler
Schuyler Chapin R.I.P.
Cut-and-paste writing
Lies and books you’ve not read
We need book critics
Favorite five composers
Dubai’s dramatic decline
Science mysteries
Gambling and dopamine
Darwinism in retailing
Greatest story ever garbled
The MMR-autism link
Cheese wars
The anti-Bono
Your inner Neanderthal
Hangover cures
Death of reading?
Stress is good for you
Plastic surgery confidential
Free speech
“Wrong” father myth
Editing is useful
Elegant evolution!
Trust your GPS?
Kissing good for you
Martini evolution
The promised land
Emotionally misshapen losers
How hooligans Bach down
How old are you? – game
How great was Mendelssohn?
European cannibalism
Super Bowl lexicon
Charles and Emma
No more Book World
Jews, jokes, France
Passenger complaint letter
Proust is damn funny
Clive Barnes R.I.P.
Best Texas BBQ
On the Road at fifty
English die soon
The audacity of spam
Great War meditation
Miriam Makeba R.I.P.
Monkey drug testing
We love fat
At the Lincoln Memorial
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.
In Arles, Vincent planned to be methodical and determined: “more interesting as a man who knows what he is doing than as a mad genius, because everybody can be a mad genius”... more»
Ted Kennedy, Victorian hero. You can tell good guys from bad on principles of Darwinian literary criticism. Kennedy was one of the good guys... more»
There’s a lot of bad food in America, almost all of it eaten in god-awful chains. But in back streets and strip malls, you can also find uncounted small acts of culinary genius... more»
Cultural studies may stand in some minds for “half-assed research, self-congratulation, farcical pretension.” Michael Bérubé sees in it the promise of an understanding that actually works... more»
Art historical roads – from Virgil, Ovid, and Dante to Vasari’s Michelangelo – begin with Homer, who incites us to imagine magnificent Greek palaces and their art... more»
The price of a scoop. New York Times reporter Stephen Farrell ignored advice and was kidnapped in Afghanistan. Saving him left his interpreter and a British soldier dead... more»
Hatred of America and those evil Jews, along with intricate conspiracy theories, helps to unite Evo Morales, Hugo Chavez, Daniel Ortega, and their new friend, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad... more»
You could hardly expect Plato to approve of Grand Theft Auto IV, with what he’d have regarded as its puerile shoot-’em-up values. But what about Aristotle?... more»
American academics have shown little curiosity about conservative ideas. Will Berkeley’s Center for the Comparative Study of Right-Wing Movements make any difference?... more» ... more»
The professionalization of everyday life was a trend from the outset of modernity, and has grown hugely since the 1960s. It’s a tyranny of experts... more»
At its therapeutic best, womens shoe shopping takes place in hushed, carpeted salons, salesmen serving their Cinderella customers. Zappos has another idea... more»
For Gail Hornstein, learning to write was a matter of sharply defining her ideas, making them vivid and pleasurable. How painful to unlearn nearly all she’d been taught as a professional... more»
Stand Up and Cheer! was meant as a morale booster for 1934, using song, dance, and little Shirley Temple to sell optimism in support of President Roosevelt... more»
After cloistering himself to bring dead flesh to life, Victor Frankenstein condemned his creature to a solitude that made monsters of them both. Mary Shelley knew this loneliness... more»
Economics, says Douglas Rushkoff, is not a natural science. It is game theory, and its assumptions have little to do with genetics, neurology, or evolution... more»
What is snark? Abuse in a public forum that is low, personal, teasing, rug-pulling, finger-pointing, snide, obvious, and knowing. As David Denby explains... more»
“If I want to get home from work,” observes Noam Chomsky, “the market offers me a choice between a Ford and a Toyota, but not between a car and a subway”... more»
Norman Mailers obsession with violence found its greatest expression in his superb, civilized focus on boxing’s great heavyweights. In other settings he was less successful... more»
Seventy years ago today, WWII began in Poland. How differently countries party to the event commemorate it. The view taken by Russia is perhaps the most troubling... more» ... more»
For half a century, Paul Nitze and George Kennan wrestled with the USSR, the Cold War, the nuclear threat, and with each other... more»
It all began long ago with the death of the Prophet, but the Sunni/Shia split still haunts Islam and the world today... more»
Many could not abide him, but if you care about the English language and questions of human nature, you must love Samuel Johnson... more»
How does a culture that has become unmoored from its own past cope with an influx of newcomers? That’s Europes problem... more»
Green Metropolis. A place where people drive, pollute, consume, and throw away much less than the national average: New York City... more»
Darwin’s sexual selection theory, Gould’s Birds of Australia, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The connection is a real one... more»
Were the original pirates of the 17th and 18th centuries socialists or capitalists at heart? For us, of course, it’s becoming harder to tell the categories apart... more»
The Islamic burka is a disputed but very potent human symbol. Many insist it stands only for piety. Marnia Lazreg disagrees... more» ... more»
John Rawls’s ideal of justice may be best realized not with abstract liberalism, but with appeals to emotion, patriotism, and religion... more»
Dogs are Aristotelians, but with their own doggy teleology. Their goals are not only very different from ours, they are often invisible to us... more»
The global financial crisis had made some leftists in the West go all nostalgic for the Soviet Union. John Gray can only smile... more»
Sarkozy wants Muslim integration based on real respect: “When I enter a mosque, I take off my shoes,” he says. “When you enter a school, take off your veil”... more»
Just as in the Great Depression, members today of the middle and professional classes wonder what the new normal will be. Not like the old... more»
Linda Lovelace and James Fenimore Cooper, together at last, along with T.S. Eliot and Mickey Mouse. It’s the wacky New Literary History of America... more»
“Death to the Jews!” resounded in the courtyard of the École Militaire as medals were ripped off Capt. Alfred Dreyfus and his saber broken in two... more»
Dictatorships behind the Iron Curtain were destroyed not by monolithic force, but by myriad human beings impulsively reacting to the idea of freedom... more»
Wrestling with Moses. That’s what Jane Jacobs did, and the war between her and city-builder Robert Moses was a struggle of titans... more»
Did Thomas Jefferson father any – or all seven – of Sally Hemings’s children? It’s entirely possible. But the DNA evidence... more»
Thomas Hobbes’s gloomy claim was that man’s existence is “nasty, brutish and short.” Frans de Waal shows this is rather unfair to the brutes... more»
R. Crumbs version of Genesis is as full of sexualized violence as Tales from the Crypt and as disrespectful to cultural icons as Mad magazine... more»
Starved of adjectives, thinned to a nervous set of verbs, intense almost past bearing, Louise Glücks dark poems are hard to look away from... more» ... more»
“The art of handwriting teaches us to control our hands and encourages hand - eye coordination,” says Umberto Eco. Children still need it for wellbeing... more»
Rural brain drain. Small town America is being hollowed out, losing talented young people while new farming transforms the land for those who stay... more»
Irving Kristol, the man who put the “neo” into conservatism, is dead at the age of 89 ... WSJ ... Wash Post ... NYT ... Myron Magnet ... AP ... Wash Times ... Economist ... Eric Alterman ... John Podhoretz ... James Q. Wilson ... Charles Murray ... Michael Lind ... Justin Vaïsse ... Kevin Mattson ... Cas Mudde ... Forbes ... Seth Lipsky ... Christopher Hitchens ... David Brooks ... John Guardiano ... Christopher DeMuth ... William Kristol ... Mary Eberstadt ... Joseph Epstein
Why is music in particular nice to listen to, blessed with a gigantic industry, while there is no market for “easy listening” speech sounds?... more»
Does reading absurdist literature make you smarter? How about Kafka? Beckett? Giraffe carpet cleaner, it seems that it does... more»
When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, counterinsurgency theory was about as popular in American military circles as tank warfare is today. But things change... more»
Saving China from its kitsch: Brian and Jeanee Linden want to restore a Yunnan village with an eye to historic authenticity. They’ll need a lot of luck... more»
Muslim creationism, built on an idea of superior Islamic science, is becoming increasingly visible and confident... more»
Norman Borlaug, architect of the Green Revolution that saved millions of lives, is dead... more» ... more» ... “The head of Greenpeace has never gone hungry.”
The Minsky meltdown. One economist saw years before anyone else exactly what the financial system is going through right now: Hyman Minsky... more»
Typos can be an annoyance for both book authors and readers. Now in the e-book future, we can alter and correct without end... more»
The guards at Abu Ghraib, like the guards in the Stanford Prison experiment, were victims of place and time. Weren’t Cheney and Rice victims in the same way?... more»
Libya isn’t the most brutal regime in the world, but it remains a grotesque entity, the state as a protection racket... more»
When buildings collapse or trains crash, special rescue teams can bring out trapped people often in a matter of minutes. This is an ancient calling... more»
As things stand, no blow is low enough, if the president comes from the other side. Consider Obamas school speech... more» On the other hand, this issue has a history.
Arts & Letters Daily’s Tran Huu Dung, visiting Giverny a few weeks ago, took a picture proving that Claude Monet was a photo-realist... more»
Most of us know only one version of Little Red Riding Hood, the one we heard as a child. But there are dozens of versions of this fairy tale... more»
Drugs will soon be on sale to improve everything from memory to our trust in others. David Edmonds describes the coming Age of Enhancement... more»
Children everywhere stew in the same pot of family conflict, with local cultural seasonings added for flavor. But basic moral values remain similar... more»
If we ever again experience a solar storm similar to the extreme event of September 2, 1859, damage may be staggering... more» ... more»
Googles book search has become a running scholarly joke, as Geoffrey Nunberg explains, with delicious examples. But it’s not beyond repair... more»
How the British see themselves and the world is not easy to grasp. A good place to begin is to consider what the Second World War did to Britain... more»
Texting and tweeting may seem advanced forms of communication. But the absence of gesture, eye contact, and personal posture makes for problems... more»
The novel is waking up from its long nap, argues Lev Grossman. Old hierarchies of taste are on the way out. Power is swinging from the writer back to the reader... more»
Life for the foreign woman in Cairo: unless she has a murderous uncle by her side or a veil over her face, she can expect to be treated as a communal dish... more»
A greener world may eliminate some risks we face, but it will create new ones. Electric cars will require lithium. And guess where the world’s lithium deposits are?... more»
If Amazon reader reviews existed centuries ago: “Oedipus Rex, four stars. Sophocles is a satisfying author who writes in clear, snappy prose. Weird subplot about Mr. Rex’s mother”... more»
For a century, the life of a home listener was simple: you had a record of a piece of music, or you didn’t. The Internet breaks all this down... more»
The war between science and religion includes more than a few draft dodgers on both sides, says Robert Wright. Many scientists and religious believers just will not join the fight... more»
Can money buy happiness? Of course, money was invented long after there was happiness and its absence. But the same can be said of booze, drugs, and philosophy... more»
The CIA’s Congress for Cultural Freedom was run from the start by Ivy League liberals. So its open-handed support for modern art and literature was no surprise... more»
For French lawyer Jacques Vergès, no tyrant or terrorist, no matter how vile, is indefensible. Now he’s defending a top Khmer Rouge leader... more»
H.L. Mencken said that a writer who found the work too arduous ought to take a week off for labor on an assembly line – where he’ll discover what work really is... more»
Zora Neale Hurston’s grin, like her belief in black self-sufficiency, was as much a quiet challenge to black people as to white, says John McWhorter. It still is... more»
The Arab future: conspiracy vs reality. A battle between daughters of dead Egyptian presidents is a sad commentary on the condition of the Arab world... more»
Michel Foucault criticized prisons for subjecting inmates to constant, spirit-crushing surveillance. But surveillance goes both ways. Consider Rikers Island... more»
Daniel Barenboim has opinions about music, of course. But politics, too: “The Six Day War made us feel good for 24 hours but the hangover has lasted 42 years”... more»
Edvard Munch knew better than anyone that the flip side of the glorious Arctic midnight sun is the long, dark, melancholy winter to come... more»
Someone once called Isak Dinesen’s stories artificial. “Of course they are artificial,” she said. “Such is the essence of the tale-telling art”... more»
Mozarts music is stupendous, when it isn’t unbelievable or perfect or beyond superlatives. Yes, more mindless, clichéd cheerleading... more»
It is a truth universally acknowledged that over the years so many millions of people keep coming back to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice... more»
American college presidents do not have an admirable history in their responses to Nazi and Italian fascism. How then will they respond to the thugs and butchers of Tehran?... more»
Kim Jong Il’s regime is a force of nature. That is what its art tells you. North Korea offers sublimely sickening totalitarian kitsch... more»
The relentless cacophony that is life in the 21st century can make settling in with a book difficult even for lifelong readers... more»
Atticus Finch wanted his white, male jurors to do the right thing, says Malcolm Gladwell. But as a good Jim Crow liberal he dared not to challenge their privilege... more»
Take the horror of war seriously, said Carl von Clausewitz, but don’t disarm in the name of humanity. “Sooner or later someone will come along and hack off your arms”... more»
ACT ONE: A street in Cambridgeham. Most Exalted Professor, freshly returned from the Land of the Asian Khan, rattles the door of his keep. Enter a WENCH: “Alarum! A Thief!”... more»
Alberto Fujimori defeated evil in Peru. On the other hand, he used evil to accomplish it. Who is to judge? Whom to be judged? Theodore Dalrymple wonders... more»
Positive psychology is delighted by the recognition it now gets among scientists. But do people really need “happiness interventions”?... more»
The Omnivores delusion. Farming has always been messy, painful, bloody, and dirty, says Blake Hurst. It still is... more»
Poor olJudas has gotten a bum rap. After all, he pushed along the events of Christ’s Passion. Someone should thank him for it... more»
The best cocktails are not of the 1950s, when the Rat Pack set the standard, but the 1920s, when piano bars and hot jazz ruled... more»
General knowledge, from capital cities to key dates, has long been a marker of an educated mind. Now every dope can Google facts... more»
Who is the real Raymond Carver? How an editor’s pencil created an author’s literary style – and how an author’s wife has undone it... more»
In 1989, Jeane Kirkpatrick said the U.S. “will need to learn to be a power, not a superpower,” to get used to being “a normal nation.” But nothing has been normal since 1914... more»
Publish! Publish! Publish! Yet not much new will likely come from still another reading of Hamlet. Mark Bauerlein on humanities research... more»
“I woke up one morning and everything in the apartment had been stolen and replaced with an exact replica.” A joke? Or intimations of receding reality?... more»
James Neugass was an ambulance driver and member of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. His War Is Beautiful was almost lost... more»
Marilyn Monroe was a decent, kind person who wanted to be loved but had execrable taste in men. Her story is inexpressibly sad... more»
Gen. Shermans scorched-earth tactics set a new standard for military action: “total war,” against soldiers, civilians, and their property... more»
Alexander was a bright paragon brought low by uncontrolled pride, said Quintus Curtius Rufus, who wanted to warn his fellow Romans... more»
“Prediction is very hard,” said Yogi Berra, “especially about the future.” For academic futurologists, it’s even harder... more»
Published Wallace Stevens poems give the impression of an impersonal poet with no private griefs, with no sense of the bitter failure of love... more»
A greener world starts with you. Imagine you have the idea to live with no impact on the environment. Or, uh, your agent has the idea... more»
Does the election of Barack Obama spell the death of conservatism? Perhaps, but if it is dead, then so is liberalism, and much else besides... more»
Looking for insight, Elizabeth Edwards is more likely to quote Ovid than the Gospels. From the Old Testament, she prefers the Book of Job, and no wonder... more»
Oswald Spengler’s gloomy ideas fitted sad Britain between the wars quite perfectly: “I see no progress, no goal, no path for humanity”... more»
The Flytes of Brideshead: a family with whom Evelyn Waugh fell in love, one that had more than its share of tragedy as well as laughter... more»
Introverted, obessed with his work, maybe mildly autistic, Paul Dirac had the luck to find his anti-particle: the ebullient and warm-hearted Manci... more»
He’d not completed a single significant piece of written philosophy, yet Ludwig Wittgenstein was being hailed in his mid-twenties as a genius... more»
George Washington: poor, untraveled, and totally self-educated son of a minor planter. Yet he made himself into the man of the minute. And got lucky... more»
“Islam will be for 21st-century Europe what communism was for the continent’s 20th century: a source of violence.” Maybe... more»
Max Horkheimer was a ruthless academic infighter who used money and power to punish enemies, while his Frankfurt School was about social liberation... more»
Sei Shonagons Pillow Book celebrates the refined aestheticism and erotic culture of the imperial court of 10th-century Japan... more»
The handsome Friedrich Engels had a taste not just for ideas but for the good life: wine, women, and fox hunting. Paid for by proletarian labor... more»
John Calvin, harsh and humorless, lacked the glamour of Martin Luther, but was still a key figure in the intellectual making of the modern world... more»
“A sentence would form, a title, and a network of metaphors would crystallise around it.” So did Muriel Spark become a great writer... more»
Babies amaze us in how open they can be to new experience. But it is possible to be too open, and so to be confused by the world... more»
Junk anti-consumerism. Even the most fashion-conscious teenager is less obsessed with consumption than today’s critics of the open market... more»
Helen Gurley Brown always believed in the idea that it’s never too late for a woman to find the comfort and protection of marriage... more»
From West Side Story to The Age of Anxiety to Mass, Leonard Bernstein conceived his work as vehicles for his didactic liberalism... more»
Robert Moses, master builder of parks and highways, also destroyed many a pleasant neighborhood. His sworn enemy: Jane Jacobs... more»
Why does an implanted human egg cost 72 quadrillion times more per gram than tap water, even though the egg is itself made mostly of water?... more»
In 1609 the Sea Venture foundered on the shores of Bermuda in a great tempest. This gave a certain English playwright an idea... more»
We share 98.4% of our genetic code with chimps. This oft-cited figure misleads in its implication: 1.6% makes all the difference in the world... more»
Alison Gopnik argues that in some ways children are “smarter, more imaginative, more caring and even more conscious than adults are”... more»
What was it like to be one of the girls in Hugh Hefner’s glamorous harem? “I may as well have lived in a convent”... more»
Management consultants include any number of high-IQ nut-jobs devoted to corporate in-fighting, client-gouging, humiliation, and sexual harassment... more»
Conservativism: to respect both liberty and tradition and moderate the paradoxes that such respect brings is as old as America... more»
A fine composer, yes, but Franz Josef Haydn was also the perfect Enlightenment man: rational, scholarly, tolerant, socially progressive... more»
Robert Wright offers a hope that the Abrahamic religions can get on with each other, with science, and with modernity... more»
New York City teachers are protected by lockstep compensation, seniority, and tenure, even if they spend every day shut up in the Rubber Room... more»
You didnt intend to plagiarize. In fact, your unconscious did it. Sure. And try telling the cop your unconscious was speeding... more»
When Vincent van Gogh sliced off part of his ear with a razor, he did not dream of the theories, pranks, and merchandise the act would eventually produce... more»
For Katie Roiphe, her newborn baby is like a narcotic, down to the withdrawal symptoms. Being home with her child is like being in an opium den... more»
“History to the defeated / May say Alas but cannot help or pardon.” Auden’s anthem to the doomed Spanish Republic has rarely been more relevant... more»
A greener world is one where instead of flying, we’ll stay home with our computers. No carbon emissions? Wrong again... more»
There may be a peace sign on every page, but the implicit political philosophy of craigslist has a deeply conservative, even a tragic cast... more»
Adolf Hitler considered himself to be an artistic genius. This naturally put him above the common morality that applies to the rest of us... more»
Pow! Bam! One of them is a “poseur,” the other, “patronizing.” One’s got “verbal diarrhea,” the other is a “whiner.” It’s Krugman vs. Ferguson... more»
Photoshopping. You want a nice photo of yourself. But why leave those crow’s feet in the picture? How about that mole?... more»
Sopranos have a choice: either to fill the opera house with powerful singing, or to make the words clear. Richard Wagner knew their dilemma well... more»
Tragedy of the commons, a “tyranny of small decisions.” You don’t want to ruin the common pasture. You just want a little more milk from your cow... more»
There never really was a decisive turn away from old Soviet values in the new Russia. Stalins ghost still haunts the land... more»
We are the Martians. Or if we aren’t yet, then we will be Martians someday. Ray Bradbury saw it all before anyone else... more»
Sri Lanka is a less panicky, frantic, and intrusive version of India. But it’s a Buddhist land, and the Sri Lankan view of Hindus... more»
A basic income program devised by German aid workers has helped alleviate poverty in a Namibian village. Crime is down, kids are in school... more»
It has taken years, but religious thought is warming to Harry Potter novels, with their strong sense of good and evil and their hints at life eternal... more»
Insurance giant Cigna purges small firms whose employees have health problems. It just raises premiums till they can’t pay them... more»
Party pigs, violent crows, sneaky snakes and, oh dear, baby squirrels in peril! The silly season: time for all those animal stories... more»
The recession has been great for the fortunes of McDonalds. The question now is, will it survive the recovery?... more»
Much nutritional research and advice given to the public today is science’s laughingstock. Reynold Spector explains why... more»
“It is important students receive accurate information; good scholarship requires nothing less.” Nancy K.D. Lemon vs. Christina Hoff Sommers... more»
The New Atheists’ confrontational way of dealing with religion is not advancing evolution as an intellectual cause. It simply creates bitterness... more»
All countries are hurting just now from the downturn, but there are a few with a relative edge. Nouriel Roubini names them... more»
The quality that most distinguishes Barack Obama’s writing is its clarity: it feels balanced and just. It also sparkles like sugar crystals... more»
John Hughes, whose sweet and sassy films plumbed the lives of 1980s teens, is dead... NYT ... Smart Set ... A.O. Scott ... Michael Weiss ... Hank Stuever ... Molly Ringwald
Jared Diamond is such a thoughtful man, so empathetic to other cultures and liberal in his outlook – why would anyone call him a racist?... more»
Pyongyang at night. From the hotel’s 47th floor, nothing to see but a dark, sad, and hungry city... more»
Enjoy the summer in a comfy Arts & Letters Daily T-shirt – a fashion favorite of the Web intelligentsia... Advert»
The idea of a “Native American city” till recently made no sense. Now we’re finding out about the ghastly secrets of Cahokia, an ancient city on the Mississippi... more»
Warfare is not in our DNA, it isn’t innate. We have it within our power to create the conditions for a peace that in principle may last forever... more»
Ji Sizun, a legal activist in China who helped ordinary people, disappeared into the clutches of state security on the 4th day of the Beijing Games... part 1 ... part 2
Laura Wilder was a matron of 65 when she published her first Little House book. She had help: her weird, talented daughter, Rose... more»
The Guiding Light is near to dead, but soaps live on. Long before people asked, “Who shot JR?” they worried over the fate of Little Nell... more»
WWII as experienced in the Soviet Ukraine. A story told with sand and hands... video [Hint: click off iTunes ad if one appears.]
Arts endowments boast that they strive for preservation of capital. So why are some cutting budgets by 35%? Look at NYC... more»
Israel’s Mossad had the Nazis’ Angel of Death, Josef Mengele, within their grasp. But they had too much else on their minds... more»
There is endless journalistic comment on the web – about other blog-comments that are in turn about further commentators. Where does the chain end?... more»
Is having sex more often than aging shrinks some kind of psychiatric disorder? How about bitterness? Looks like DSM-V is going down the road to diagnostic insanity... more»
Treason against the planet? Nonsense, says Bjørn Lomborg. Robust debate does not mean telling others what they can and cannot say... more»
Now that Volkswagen has gobbled up Porsche, we can consider the tensions between two families – some Rudolf Steiner hippies, others hard-nosed capitalists – at the heart of these firms... part 1 ... part 2
Ernest Hemingway fussed over the words he wrote, words that gave the literary world a new style of writing. What would he think of his heirs messing around with his books?... more»
Tom Engelhardt’s father died many years ago. But the old man’s face has been showing up again – staring back when Tom looks in the mirror... more»
The American space program was the grandest, most Promethean and godlike quest in the history of the human race. Sure, says Tom Wolfe, but then what happened?... more»
The values of classical music make it immune to short-term fashion, says Andrew Clark. In fact, being deeply unfashionable explains why it has lasted... more»
Our future lives of brain doping, intuition networks, and artificial minds may seem surreal and dizzying from our perspective today. But they too will be quite ordinary... more»
Zoo design is a negotiation between what’s right for animals, and what humans need. Jesse Smith explains... more»
The squalid ambush that ended the careers of Bonnie and Clyde in 1934 disappeared down a memory hole. But their lives made a myth... more»
Gaia is one wild lady, though her dramatic appeal has been tamed of late by trying to give her a scientific makeover... more»
Booze does not help many novelists. In particular writers of long sentences suffer from its daily use. Comparing yourself to Tolstoy is also a bad sign... more»
To found a world-class university in the sands of Arabia is an audacious ambition. Will NYU Abu Dhabi manage to do it?... part 1 ... part 2
Curse you, Neil Armstrong! The Apollo moon landing thrust a dagger into the heart of science fiction, argues Ted Gioia... more»
The Merriam-Webster Third International was the most reviled dictionary of its age. Also, the most unfairly denigrated – by the likes of David Foster Wallace... more»
Embrace individualism and reject stereotypes, says Tyler Cowen. Even look in a mirror. You may find far more talent, including autistic talent, than you expected... more»
America means well: on this, most Americans will agree. So when U.S. policy goes awry, it must be bad luck, bad planning, or bad tactics. But still, good intentions... more»
Over the past 30 years, divisions in Islam have triggered paroxysms of violence. Sectarian, ethnic, and racial hatreds have trumped the ideal of Islamic unity... more»
Adam Smith is usually seen as the founder of modern economics. But will Charles Darwin turn out to have been the more subtle economic thinker?... more»
For 30 years the self-esteem movement has told the young they’re perfect in every way, giving us an entire generation with no proper sense of inadequacy. Consider Sarah Palin... more»
Marshall McLuhan said it was going to be one big global village. He didn’t say the villagers would much like each other. But writing and thinking would be like TV!... more»
Christina Hoff Sommers has been called a “thug,” a “parasite,” and a “female impersonator.” But to be accused of practicing “metonymic historiography” – Oh, dear... more»
Americans admire dignity, as well they ought. But the word has become unmoored from any larger set of rules or ethical system. David Brooks explains... more»
Measurement cannot change human nature, and it is human nature and behavior that cause economic dislocations as well as economic advance... more»
Simon was a liar and a thief, but he also gave the very young Lynn Barber an education about food, travel, opera, Bergman films – and cads... more»
“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murders sound respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” Pure Orwell... more»
Charles Darwin’s voyage on the Beagle aimed his thoughts at evolution and gave him both the facts and intellectual stamina to work toward his magnificent goal... more»
Robert Wright may not believe in God, but he thinks that human beings, along with their religions, are marching, however wobbly, toward moral truth... more»
Our very own Philosopher-in-Chief. It’s been a long time, but maybe Americans are entitled to one. Carlin Romano on Barack Obama... more»
In 1942, Simon and Schuster’s well-made and beautifully illustrated Little Golden Books burst upon the American scene. It was the start of something big... more»
President Obama echoes gloomy think tank reports in calling cyber-security “one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face.” Is this true?... more»
Conspiracy theories remain the pastime of crank groups. But conspiratorial thinking, the idea that someone out there is to blame for every misfortune, has become respectable... more»
Woman power. Regimes that repress the civil and human rights of half their populations are inherently unstable. Anne Applebaum explains... more»
The Dalai Lama wants “one country, two systems” for Tibet. Tibetans would be happy with one system – the relatively liberal one found elsewhere in China... more»
Gen. Patrick Hurley, President Roosevelt’s man in Tehran, was a rambunctious chap who liked cowboy hats. He also had a dream: democracy for Iran... more»
A spectre is haunting the world, Karl Marx might write today: the spectre of neoliberalism. Where did this idea come from, and why is it so awful?... more»
In the aftermath of modernism, artistic beauty has more and more aimed to disturb or subvert moral certainties. Originality, not beauty, now wins prizes... more»
The notion of multiple intelligences is uplifting and politically satisfying. Unfortunately, the actual evidence suggests it’s wrong... more»
“The Jagger lips, moody monobrow, and fag between two fingers exactly fitted the image I’d formed of a coldly alluring Martin Amis.” Julie Kavanagh was smitten... more»
Greed is good, up to a point. We must get straight on what capitalism offers the world, and know what its limits are. This means better knowing ourselves, says Fareed Zakaria... more»
Francis Bacon’s reputation as a romantic outlaw has allowed him to achieve the most over-inflated reputation of the last half-century, says Jed Perl... more»
Most Russians would like to see more democracy in Russia, including a rule of law and a freer media. But the West tends to misinterpret this longing, says Anatol Lieven... more»
Robert Garmong struggled through grad-school poverty and then life on the adjunct market. But he never thought he’d go to prison just to teach philosophy... more»
Garrett Hardin was wrong to say, “the inherent logic of the commons remorselessly generates tragedy.” Actually, it ends up generating private property. Ronald Bailey explains... more»
Said Groucho Marx to the talkative bore, “You must have been vaccinated with a phonograph needle.” Mark Edmundson too has met his share of bores... more»
A narrow Darwinian view will never be able to account for religions indispensable role in forming higher ideals that, as a species, help to make us genuinely civilized... more»
Bitterness is so common and so deeply harmful that some psychiatrists are urging it be identified as a mental illness: “post-traumatic embitterment disorder”... more»
Lochner’s Home Bakery in Utica was owned by hard-working German immigrant Joseph Lochner. In 1895, he found himself in violation of the New York Bakeshop Act... more»
They can be eccentric, slow afoot, even grouchy. But old dogs can live out their final days with a humility and grace we all can learn from... more»
Conspiracies have in principle the power to do actual harm in the world. Far more harmful in practice is the power of conspiracy theories... more»
Is the American embargo against Cuba the “dumbest policy on the face of the earth”? Maybe not. But that does not mean it is working... more»
Four ways to experience Little Dorrit: paperback, audiobook, Kindle, and iPhone. Which works best for Dickens? Ann Kirschner decided to run a little experiment... more»
What’s going on? Much of Europe falls into the hands of conservative parties, while America has “gone socialist.” In truth, differences between Europe and the U.S. are overrated... more»
The real purpose of universities is not to flatter the tastes of those who arrive there, but to present them with a rite of passage into something better... more»
A distinctly American wealth culture rose in the 20th century, more democratic and diverse than the world had seen... more»
The Enlightenment focused on reason not because it expected absolute certainty, but because it sought a way to live without it... more»
A book that explains modern Polish literature may seem narrow, but tell us much about the European condition... more»
How we love the myth of the small town, a sleepy place peopled by naive but gentle eccentrics and honest, warm-hearted folk... more»
Abraham Lincoln saw no shame in doing politics, felt little discomfort about what it takes to get great things done... more»
From de Chirico to Haight-Ashbury, from Jane Ellen Harrison to Freud, theorists, artists, and dreamers found their future in the remote Minoan past... more» ... more»
Lisztomania was a phenomenon of the 19th century. Beatlemania was part of the 20th. They are more alike than you’d guess... more»
Al-Qaeda suicide bombers rarely have any direct experience of oppression. Their acts stem from a sense of vicarious piety... more»
“Children are unconsciously the most rational beings on earth, brilliantly drawing accurate conclusions from data and doing clever experiments”... more»
Lenore Skenazy, “Americas Worst Mom,” let her nine-year-old ride NYC subways alone. Where are the child protection agencies when we need them?... more»
Romanticism is often viewed as deeply hostile to science. But romanticism and 18th-century science were united by an intense sense of wonder... more»
The bully who relentlessly attacks others from the safety of a blog is often the same enraged person who rails about the lack of human decency today... more»
He called himself a “Socialist without a Party, a Christian without a Church.” Ignazio Silone was always a man apart... more»
Six-year-old Bobby Greenlease left school one day in 1953 holding the hand of a strange woman. So began Kansas Citys great horror crime... more»
Collecting maximum calories with the least effort is the dream of every creature, including prehistoric Homo sapiens. We pay the price today... more»
A brilliant talker, sparkling essayist, and champion of liberty, to be sure. So why do Isaiah Berlins letters leave us with such a nasty taste?... more»
After the WWII, Californians had it all: car, house, affordable education, health care, rising wages, glamour and leisure. Where did it all go? ... more»
To escape a 1930s culture war that soon turned into a shooting war, artists, writers and composers fled Europe for Southern California... more»
Jimmy Cartersmalaisespeech was a Hail Mary pass by a president in trouble. And like many passes made in hope, it was picked off by his opponents... more»
Lynn Barber’s voice is hugely confident: sometimes grumpy, or snooty, very often funny, and always extremely frank... more»
Lord Byron was mad, bad, dangerous, and a cad. But as both poet and as lover, he knew what women wanted... more»
William Herschel found the planet Uranus and the first balloonists realized the dreams of Icarus. It was the Age of Wonder... more»
Margaret Thatcher viewed socialism as a school for self-pity and mediocrity. She not only admired courage, but had plenty of it herself... more»
Alexander Waugh has but a dim, distant memory of William F. Buckley. As a small angry boy, he thought Buckley was hiding his ping-pong ball... more»
A Hershey’s Kiss at 1¢ is not quite free, but it’s still pretty cheap. So what is the difference between Cheap and Free?... more» ... more»
Vladimir Tatlin’s great unrealized work of art was a monument “made of iron, glass and revolution” It lives on still in the imagination... more»
When all arguments for keeping women down have been shown to be self-serving lies, what are misogynists left with? That’s right: God... more»
Religion uses ritual, mystery, drama, and meditation to help us cope with this vale of tears. It is practice, not unlike art or music... more»
It was a magnificent run. From the end of WWII to the 1960s, California emerged as America’s dominant political, social, and cultural trendsetter... more»
Isaiah Berlin was not only a compulsive chatterer. As his letters show, he was in a chattering class all of his own... more»
Marc Augé laments the rise of airports that are decoupled from the world around them. Anywhere and everywhere, they are actually nowhere... more»
Have religious people at last worked out how to serve both God and Mammon? Is ours the age of the “pastorpreneur”?... more»
Saturated with lachrymose melodies, dirgelike rhythms and the ghastly, fatal oompahs of sad waltzes, the songs and symphonies of Gustav Mahler... more»
Harvard president Charles W. Eliot saw his Five-Foot Shelf as “a good substitute for a liberal education.” Maybe it still is... more»
Ought victimhood to be passed down to future generations? How about a moral statute of limitations on historic wrongs?... more»
God has mellowed. Sure, he gets sore about abortion and gay marriage, but he’s really nothing like the Yahweh of the Hebrew Bible... more»
If Anna Letitia Barbauld’s was a voice of the Enlightenment, it has not carried very far. A new biography may change that... more»
East, West, sex: are European men really “drawn to the slim, small-boned, black-haired women of Asia, more plumlike than melonlike of breast”?... more»
Skip Griffin was a self-educated staff sergeant in the U.S. Army, a young man widely read in philosophy and theology. After he died in Iraq... more»
In democracy, soft despotism “does not break wills,” says Tocqueville, “ it softens them, bends them, and directs them”... more»
Leon Trotsky was absolutely committed to creating a workers’ paradise at all costs. But he was too inspirational, too popular... more»
Saint-Simons memoirs do not make us regret the end of the age of great kings. But if only we had today chroniclers as wise, vital, witty, and knowing... more»
So men were on top in the 18th century? Not quite. With the power of the pen, both whores and ladies who felt the pain could blame and shame... more»
Leszek Kołakowski, who argued Stalinism was not a perversion of Marxist thought, but rather its natural end, is dead... LAT ... London Times ... Slate ... Telegraph ... NYT ... Dædalus (PDF) ... Open Democracy ... New Criterion ... Weekly Standard ... Open Democracy ... Guardian ... Daily Times ... New Republic ... Financial Times ... Chicago Blog ... Economist
Darwinian evolution is driving women to become ever more beautiful, while men remain as ugly as they were in the caves... more»
“Absolute poppycock,” says Robert Service, but Russians are convinced they are victims of a campaign to besmirch the history of their country... more»
“The world has enough for everybody,” says President Hugo Chávez. Trouble is, Jews have got “control of the riches of the world”... more»
Humans are genetically close to chimps and bonobos, sharing with them nearly 99% of our DNA. Yet we became master tool users and cooperators... more»
Long after college, what sticks in student memory? Gee-whiz graphics? Slick PowerPoints? Or having really talked with smart, engaged professors?... more»
Danny Postel wants to raise his kids to be freethinkers. But what if all that freedom in their thinking results in their becoming religious?... more»
Failed states, with their scenes of poverty, disease, and violence, have an upside. They are fun new playgrounds for great power rivalry... more»
Sacha Baron Cohens Brüno has taken a steep box-office fall. The film’s only hope now may be a lawsuit from right-wingers trying to ban it... more»
Economic theory in meltdown: the biggest financial calamity in 80 years has left the reputation of economics in tatters... more»
Looking for real adventure? Then stay off Mount Everest, where Base Camp now offers hot showers, Web access, TVs, and fresh strawberries... more»
Lets call the whole thing off. A little sad, and somewhat to her surprise after 20 years married, Sandra Tsing Loh is getting a divorce... more»
People think we live in an age of violence and killing. In truth, the past was far more bloodthirsty than the present age, as Steven Pinker explains... more»
Outlawing payments to kidney donors is ostensibly a way to keep the system fair. All it does is give rich and poor an equally lousy chance of getting a kidney... more»
Do ideas sometimes pop into your head from, it seems, nowhere? Yes, and it’s because your brain actually operates on the edge of chaos... more»
Terry Eagleton is vague about God, but rather enjoys it: his contradictions are worn with pride as symbols of a kind of ineffable profundity... more»
Baseball makes the blood run hot, and yes, Red Sox fans do hate the Yankees. But India and Pakistan nearly went to war over cricket... more»
At this point, seasteading is still mostly talk and dreams – especially the dream of living free of government... more»
James Mill wished to educate his son to be “an ideal standard-bearer for radicalism, rationalism and reform.” He succeeded... more»
Asias rise is unstoppable.” Don’t bet on it. It will be a long time before India and China take over the world – if they ever do... more»
Democracy needs to know the serious reading of books. Long books. Hard books. Books with which we have to struggle... more»
Fire exists in nature, a wild thing tamed by the mind of man. But when it first appeared, the wheel was an invention of something completely new... more»
The Wolfram search engine will allow people to make use of science on a daily basis, just as Google has made billions of people reference librarians... more»
Forty years ago, when men walked on the Moon and drove their buggies over the lunar landscape, we all lived on a different earth... more»
Stripper memoirs. It’s puzzling that such promising and prurient subject matter can lead to such flat, dull books. Katie Roiphe explains... more»
Many believe that China will follow the models of Korea and Taiwan and become an economic giant. Don’t be too sure... more»
J.G. Ballard’s experience of Shanghai was, he said, closer to the normal lives of the majority of people in the 20th century than most realize... more»
Language pervades the deepest domains of thought, shaping us from the nuts and bolts of perception to our loftiest abstract notions and major life decisions... more»
Bars and cafes in France have fallen from 200,000 fifty years ago to 38,600 today. Blame smoking bans and the economy, but also le sandwich... more»
How might a Darwinian explain spite? An affronted sense of fairness? Envy? Lust for revenge? Perhaps even pure sadism?... more»
Auto repair as a skilled manual labor is far more cognitive than most people realize, Matthew Crawford says. And it’s one thing that can’t be outsourced to China... more»
Placebo effects: capsules work better than tablets, big pills work better than small, and the more expensive the medicine, the more its effect... more»
Bill Buckley could turn any event into an adventure, a joke, a showdown. He loved risk. He was just an exciting person to be around... more»
Party animals. Human creativity thrived in prehistoric life where our ancestors were crowded into small spaces, mingling and talking... more»
Some systems – financial, transport, power grids, taxation – are just too big to carry on with any degree of predictability. They become unstable before we can know... more»
Michael Jackson has gone from boy wonder to circus freak over 40 years, with stints as “king of pop,” messiah figure, and public enemy... more»
One of prehistory’s great mysteries is, what happened to the Neanderthals? Here’s an answer: we ate them... more»
Newsweeklys last stand. Yes, the news magazines are in trouble in a digital age – all except The Economist. So why is it thriving?... more»
For Europeans, it will be a lot harder to stop immigration from Muslim lands than it was to initiate immigration flows in the first place... more»
The Dreamliner is a sleek and elegant plane. It is also two years behind schedule and a potential disaster for Boeing... more»
Thomas Paine both inspired and witnessed two revolutions: the one that gave birth to the United States and the one that destroyed the French monarchy... more»
The handyman had been a copy editor, fixing people’s broken sentences. Now his business was to fix their broken heaters and garbage disposers... more»
The dot-com bubble burst by 2000. Then it was housing, which triggered the credit meltdown, followed by stocks. Will higher education be the next bubble to burst?... more»
Richard Wagner viewed himself as an underdog. That’s why, after Mendelssohn’s early death in 1847, he wreaked revenge on the “little Jewish prince”... more»
Is the spirit of Tiananmen dead? No, says Wuer Kaixi. In fact, everything that is happening in politics and economics in China today has some connection with Tiananmen... more»
How did we get here? Next to the poster on the school notice board advising 12-year-olds on safe sex is an edict that smoking is a sin. As for binge drinking... more»
Detroit’s magic was killed by bureaucrats, bad taste, and busybodies. P.J. ORourke explains why Americans fell out of love with the automobile... more»
Nostalgianomics: “The America I grew up in was a relatively equal middle-class society,” says Paul Krugman, wiping a tear away. Oh? What was his Golden Age really like?... more»
Elizabeth Bishop caught fish, but also created them on the page: fish that lay there dying. You can get a “glimpse of the rose-colored sheaf of gills, crisp and bloody”... more»
How many died in the slaughter at Tiananmen Square? 200? 3000? We may never know. We only know Chinese intellectual life was altered forever... more» ... more» Where are the leaders of ’89?
Before Duncan Laki could find the men who murdered his father, he had to confront Ugandas desire to keep its bloody past safely buried... more»
The mind is not the brain. To confuse the two, which is what neuroscience does all the time, leads to a world bereft of meaning, morality, dignity, and freedom... more»
Keynes did for economics what Nietzsche did for morals: he stripped away illusions and pretenses that shielded traditional belief.” Partly true, but... more»
The natural life of a TV series, like the history of a nation or an art movement, falls into four periods, says Robert Fulford: primitive, classic, baroque, and decadent... more»
Jan Fleischhauer was forbidden to eat oranges as a child. Proper left-wing German families knew oranges grew in lands ruled by dictators. As for eating at McDonald’s? Mein Gott!... more»
The Bloomsbury group, a mix of young writers, thinkers, and artists, stood at the vanguard of a shift in manners away from 19th-century formality toward candor and playfulness... more»
In China, history is a political tool as in no other land. You should remember Mao, but not the Great Famine he caused. Tiananmen Square? That’s a place in Beijing, isn’t it?... more»
Kathy Ireland, star of the National Multicultural Business Conference, has made fitness videos and written books like Real Solutions for Busy Moms (first solution: hire a ghostwriter)... more»
Charming, eccentric, cosmopolitan, and utterly fatalistic, Albert Jay Nock retains a capacity to fascinate political thinkers on both left and right... more»
Torture is nothing new on the American scene, seen only in the exceptional circumstances of Guantanamo. In truth, it is as old as the Republic, says Noam Chomsky... more»
With one eye on the Dow and the other on the empty stretches of Bergdorf’s main floor, the fashion industry is feeling its way into what it already calls a depression... more»
The idea of a “fairy tale.” It is as thorny and hard to penetrate, says Jennifer Howard, as the hedge that surrounds the enchanted princess’s castle in Sleeping Beauty... more»
After the Germans rolled over France’s defenses in 1940, how brave were French writers in resisting the Nazis? Ah, it was a complex, sadly mixed affair... more»
Leonid Khrushchev died a war hero in 1943, 13 years before his father, Nikita, denounced Stalin. Now Russians are being told he was a traitor... more»
Where have all the Muses gone? Platonic ideals, goddesses, mistresses, lovers, and wives whom poets and painters called on for inspiration? Not a good sign for the arts... more»
It is 30 years since the Sony Walkman first appeared – and half of the populace became deaf to the existence of the other half. A.N. Wilson finds nothing to celebrate... more»
The Soloist is a sentimental film that makes cheap use of a remarkable book about an encounter with the problems of a homeless, mentally ill musician... more»
Pedagogy of the Oppressor. Another reason why U.S. schools of education are so awful: the ongoing influence of Brazilian Marxist Paulo Freire... more»
Is there a formula for a good life? For 72 years, researchers have followed 268 men through war, career, marriage and divorce, and old age... more»
Ron Rosenbaum loves airport best-sellers: “I see them as our Nostradamuses, literary canaries in the dark coal mines of our paranoia.” His latest find... more»
Some European politicians now suggest that immigrants ought to be expected to respect the values and customs of their new homelands. A bit late in the day... more»
Literary tourism. Even Shakespeare’s place of birth is a Victorian construct, a phony home for an aspiring bard, a taste of “merrie olde England”... more»
“The emotions you get from listening to Mozart are like the faint glimpses of ultimate reality we get from quantum experiments.” Yeah, in Quantum Theory, anything goes... more»
God is back! Religion is on the rise, or so it is claimed, because religion makes you happy. It may seem bad manners for atheists to say it, but so does owning a pet.... more»
I.F. Stone was a fellow traveler in 1937, and freely admitted as much. But he was never a spy for Stalin, whose pact with Hitler had thoroughly disgusted him... more»
Did you know the woman in the Starbucks logo is Queen Esther of the Jews? Just part of a vast Israeli plot against Arab people. Greg Sheridan can tell you more... more»
The democratic nature of the net has created a mass of undifferentiated data, accurate, speculative, and absurd. Consider conspiracy theories... more»
Protestors of a different sort: homeowners who didn’t walk away from mortgages, business owners who don’t want corporate welfare, bankers who never needed bailouts... more»
If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the earth wobbles under the weight of six billion beholders, what is beauty then? Ihab Hassan wonders... more»
Underdogs. When Vivek Ranadivé decided to coach his daughter’s basketball team, he chose to speak to the girls calmly, to convince them with reason and common sense... more»
The American Musicological Society denounces the use of music in torture. So high-minded to worry about Guantánamo inmates. How about the tortured plight of younger musicologists?... more»
Fifty years ago this month, physicist and author C.P. Snow addressed “The Two Cultures,” the gulf between literary intellectuals and natural scientists... more»
Exclamation marks used to be frowned on. But now we use them all the time! Hurrah!!! What is it about email that makes people so excited?... more»
“What year was Pearl Harbor bombed?” Such direct questions are byproducts of literacy and do not sit easily in any oral culture, says John McWhorter. Consider inner-city America... more»
The traditional obituary is an art form nasty, brutish, and short, one that takes the scrambled up thing that is a human life and smashes it into a tidy narrative... more»
Heirs to Fortuyn. Muslim immigration and sclerotic welfare states are by degrees pushing Europe to the political right. Bruce Bawer explains... more»
No matter how much you think you’re ready for parental mortality, says Christopher Buckley, when the moment comes, “it comes at you hot, hard and unrehearsed”... more»
Isaac Rosenfeld was once the golden boy of American letters. Then something happened. Or maybe something didn’t happen... more»
“If the Mafia boss thinks you might betray him, he will just kill you or throw you into prison.” That is not how the government of China should behave... more»
Numbers exist without us: four dinosaurs stand together in a prehistoric clearing. They number four even if no people are there to count them. Unless... more»
Boring labor is a threat to one’s humanity. It follows therefore that interesting labor can be a form of redemption. Like fixing motorcycles... more»
Isaiah Berlin disliked nature, linking love of the land with reactionary romanticism. People were his landscape... more»
Susan Jacoby wants to slap faces, and shake hands, on both left and right in the Alger Hiss case. But it’s hard for her to have it every which way... more»
“It is not Ches high cheekbones, long eyelashes and cool bomber jacket that make this photo desirable. Its appeal also lies in its spirituality”... more»
For prophetic visions of the future, some people turn to horoscopes. But if you want to know what the future holds, better to ask a scientist... more»
Marketing is now “the most dominant force in human culture,” claims Darwinian psychologist Geoffrey Miller. Is this mere hyperbole? Maybe not... more»
Gustave Flaubert could scarcely contain himself writing about a young prostitute he had in Cairo. He was part of a tradition... more»
Elia Kazan made himself into a character in 1950s America as vivid and as desperate to be loved as Norman Mailer, Sugar Ray Robinson, or Lucille Ball... more»
Albert might marry Victoria, but he was not to run the household. He was only allowed to bring from Germany his valet, his librarian, and his greyhound... more»
The likes of neither Victor Navasky nor Ann Coulter owns the truth about spying against the U.S. in the Cold War. Time to let facts alone speak... more»
In war-time France, the authorities, both Vichy and Nazi, encouraged the arts, each for their own reasons. It was an oddly vibrant period... more»
Real knowledge can come from struggles to master the brute reality of material objects: say, loosening a bolt without stripping its threads... more»
It was a great moment in evolution and it changed our bodies and our minds forever: Drop food in fire, then eat it... more»
Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin both came to believe in a world without a present God but still with providential purposes... more»
How much richer is your existence since you got that high-speed router? How much better off is the life of the mind in the internet age?... more»
George Scialabba’s conjunction of hope with despair, his indecision about utopia, and his resistance to frivolity: all make him a most attractive critic... more»
John Gray’s articles and essays over the past 30 years leave you poised, noose in hand, to contemplate the wretchedness of human existence... more»
Economists are mostly rather unsociable creatures. They tend to seek their own advantage, and naturally expect others to do the same... more»
The young John Rawls conceived of man as not entirely of the natural world, having a soul that allows him to transcend nature... more»
Samuel Johnson was both a savage who disturbed polite 18th-century drawing rooms – and a man of the most civilized learning, intelligence, and wit... more»
How did George Eliot come to have such a profound imaginative sympathy for the Jews she shows in Daniel Deronda?... more»
Flannery OConnor went to Lourdes and prayed, but not for health: “I prayed there for the novel I was working on”... more»
The 1970s was a grim time for Britain, a time of decline and despair, a dead end. When at last something happened, its name was Margaret Thatcher... more»
Vodka was invented in Russia by medieval monks, but it has had a most unholy effect on the Russian people... more»
Philosopher E.M. Cioran is all about despair, ecstasy, boredom, insanity, suicide, crime, illness, nothingness – and puncturing our bloated pieties... more»
Bernstein on the podium: “fencing, hula-dancing, and calling on the heavens to witness his agonies.” Then there was his politics... more»
Sergey Prokofiev survived Stalin’s terror, comforted by his devout belief in Christian Science. He had discovered the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy in 1924... more»
The idea that religion is destined to die out is itself a confession of faith. No evidence will persuade secular believers they are on the wrong side of history... more»
It’s a standard genre: a book written by a big thinker who wants to capture the spirit of America while armed only with his own brilliance. David Brooks explains... more»
The Kindly Ones leads the stunned reader on a journey through some of the darkest recesses of European history... more» ... more»
Enlightenment liberals opposed slavery, and Christian abolitionists as well. So where did Abraham Lincoln fit into this picture?... more»
Even though more stuff does not lead to more happiness, human beings are driven to acquire, acquire, acquire. Geoffrey Miller can see why... more»
Matthew Crawford finished his Ph.D in political philosophy, went to work for a think tank, and then decided to quit – and start repairing motorcycles... more»
Richard Posner does not want just to guide us amiably through the thicket of the financial crisis. His real joy is setting off grenades in the underbrush... more»
Elaine Showalter argues women’s writing has moved from “feminine” to “feminist” to “female” to a final stage: “free”... more»
It was never simple for Grace: “nothing is simple if your mind is a fetch-and-carry wanderer from sliced perilous outer world to secret safe inner world”... more»
Fiction insists on a split between a body of words and a real world that includes the maybe vile, or maybe virtuous, author. Think of Flannery OConnor... more»
Madame de Staël’s life, for all its money, privilege, and Romantic eccentricity, had deep tragic elements of frustration and brooding loss... more»
The Chinese poets may address us more intimately today when they speak of suffering and disillusionment, rather than beauty and perfection... more»
Republican Rome was not obsessed solely with wealth and the dignity of the elite. Some voices still spoke for the rights of the common people... more»
In A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway saw a vibrant Paris. Today, we view with nostalgia a Left Bank that is a banal tourist enclave... more»
Who cares if he’s straight or gay? It’s hard not to become completely enthralled by Tintins fast-paced adventures... more»
“Parents have no lasting influence on their children’s personalities or on the way they behave outside the home.” Judith Rich Harris’s thesis still shocks... more»
Whether narrator, or as professor, dwarf, badger, or lion, C.S. Lewis himself is always a sane and playful presence in Narnia... more»
Charles Darwin did not invent the idea of evolution, or even the idea that a process of evolution had occurred in the history of life... more»
Amis, Osborne, Larkin, and Tynan. Blokes with no time for social disciplines: self-assertion and pleasure were what they were after... more»
James Lovelocks Gaia, a.k.a. Mother Earth, has her ways, her reasons, and an odd, emergent intelligence. She also has interests... more»
Who gets to change the rules of English usage? We all do, says Patricia O’Conner. When enough of us decide that “cool” means “hot,” change happens... more»
From Zeus to Seuss, from Homeric epics to that kindly Horton who heard the Who, we all love the plots, emotions, pleasures, and human insights of literature... more»
Born today, the James family would have been a typical Prozac-loving, depressed, bipolar, narcissistic, fame-seeking bunch. Or maybe not... more»
Nostalgia can mean a melancholic flight from life. With Constantine Cavafy it turns into an element of cultural health and creative drive... more»
Can dogs talk? Kind of, says the latest scientific research. But they tend to have very poor pronunciation... more»
Herbert Hoover assumed office in 1928 with strong skills, genuine confidence, and what seemed a healthy economy. Then in 1929... more»
The failure of economists to predict the current crisis lies partly in their overall unwillingness to take into account liquidity risks... more»
Suppose Israel blows up Irans nuclear reactor, to make sure the mullahs do not get a bomb. What will the angry Iranians do?... more»
“One day, I’ll write a really nerdy book.” But until then, Malcolm Gladwell will continue to be the rock star of nonfiction... more»
Do great cooks memorize countless recipes? No. They have a grasp of basic ingredients and the ratios of ingredients that make great food... more»
J.D. Salinger is in court, suing for the “recall and destruction” of a novel that had been set to be published this fall... more»
Any skill that represents nature can be turned into a form of virtuoso expression: consider the art of creating decoy ducks... more»
Did lethal warfare have any use in human prehistory beyond conquest? A new theory claims it drove the evolution of altruism... more»
Freeman Dyson views being a skeptic about man-made global warming as a job. He does not want to do it himself, but until someone else shows up... more»
Seriously now, lard is good for you. After years in the shadow of cholesterol worries, it turns out that lard is not as unhealthy as you thought... more»
Conspicuous environmentalism: you want your electric car to be a source of green prestige, of course. But it must not look cheap and tinny... more»
In China, dealings with officials range from extreme flexibility to extreme rigidity, with little in between. Which was it going to be?... more»
Can the world survive Chinas headlong rush to emulate the American way of life? The signs are not looking good... more»
Describe the world as an ordinary person sees it, George Orwell advised. “Take things seriously. And tell the truth. Tell the truth”... more»
“An evolving system of paranoia,” is an apt way to describe the UFO movement. So now that Roswell is dead and gone, what’s next?... more»
Art Tatum played millions of notes in his short life, yet every one of them is precious. Laws of supply and demand do not apply... more»
The U.S. is the most modern and one of the most religious countries in the world. It shows the rest of the world how religion can be kept separate from the state... more»
Germany, land of Goethe, Schiller, Bach, Rilke, and Beethoven, has an unlikely pop culture hero: Donald Duck... more»
From mice to primates, animals are ruled by codes of moral conduct that are related to the codes and emotions of human beings... more»
The atonement Milan Kundera’s critics have demanded of him seems strangely to act out dramatic scenes from his novels... more»
The cowboy and cactus art hanging in the White House is coming down. Going up in its place: Richard Diebenkorn, Ed Ruscha, and Franz Kline... more»
Holocaust helpers. To run his war against the Jews, Hitler needed assistance from all over Europe. No problem: he had volunteers aplenty... more»
George Orwell, desperately sick, fighting demons of his imagination in a bleak Scottish outpost after the war, was trying to finish a novel... more»
In defense of distraction: Twitter, Adderall, lifehacking, mindful jogging, YouTube, Facebook, endless email, and the subtle benefits of overstimulation... more»
In a story, the writer commands every aspect of the world the reader inhabits. Fine: it’s worked for centuries. But in a video game... more»
How did Arthur Conan Doyle, medical man steeped in science and creator of a super-rational detective, fall for so much mumbo jumbo?... more»
The exciting new Honda hybrid: a car so Biblically terrible that auto journalist Jeremy Clarkson considered driving it into a tree on purpose... more»
The human heart remains as much of a mystery as the sex organs once used to be. Just consider the personal love lives of Masters and Johnson... more»
A philosopher once asked, “What’s it like to be a bat?” – now a staple of Phil 101 courses. But how about: “Whats it like to be a baby?”... more»
Natural selection is the greatest idea ever to occur to a human mind, says Richard Dawkins. Hence his anger at anyone who hides its truth from young people... more»
Even though they were Swiss-cheesed by a blizzard of bullets 75 years ago, Bonnie and Clyde are still going strong... more»
Everyone likes to talk about how young families are revitalizing big cities. The truth of migration patterns tells another story, as Joel Kotkin explains... more»
Bring back ROTC. Values that a military education can cultivate go far beyond war-making. They might find a place in universities today... more»
Pakistan’s anti-Indianism does not mean Talibanism, with locking up women, slicing of hands, and so forth. But still, Islamism... more»
Isabel Paterson is a name that does not mean much to Ayn Rand fans. But this is the woman who most inspired the author of Atlas Shrugged... more»
The end of East Germany was ushered in by massive protests across the land. But opposition to communist rule had started with a whisper... more»
Obsessive Housing Disorder. Nearly a century of Washington’s efforts to promote home ownership has produced one calamity after another... more»
With jobs, income, and credit in a death spiral, the model of capitalism that dominates the global economy must be radically reformed... more»
Van Gogh did not slice off his ear with a razor in an act of self-mutilation. His friend Gauguin accidentally cut it off with a sword... more»
Einstein, Salvador Dali, Tony Hancock, and Beach Boy Brian Wilson have little in common, except creative genius. And maybe psychosis... more»
“Every time you perform a magic trick, you are doing experimental psychology,” says Teller. If in the end the audience is baffled, the experiment worked... more»
Green ethnic cleansing: to expel aboriginal persons from their homelands to create commodified “wilderness” is a charade... more»
I.F. Stone, a man known for speaking truth to power, was not only a defender but an agent of the Soviet Union during Stalin’s purges, 1936–38... more»
Icelanders have gone through hard times of late, which affects how they perceive themselves. But that is based too on how others perceive Icelanders... more»
“Capitalism is nothing but a false religion, with Mammon as its god and Adam Smith as its high priest.” How true is this claim?... more»
Post-Google, plagiarism is a different art: add little observations that differ from the original. Reorder paragraphs, with new quotes, spurious or ad hoc... more»
“It would be naive to say that Iraq’s future is certain to be a peaceful one,” says Nir Rosen, “but the war between Sunnis and Shiites is now over”... more»
In James Agee’s troubled journey from Tennessee to Harvard to New York to Alabama, he always asked too much from the world, and from himself... more»
Jared Diamond is sued for $10 million by two New Guineans over a New Yorker piece on revenge culture in PNG – with plaintiffs helped by Stephen Jay Gould’s widow... more» ... more»
J.G. Ballard, who expanded and defied the genre of science fiction, is dead at the age of 78... NYT ... James Fallows ... Peter Stothard ... New Yorker ... Spiked ... Telegraph ... Toby Litt ... Michael Moorcock ... Guardian ... Martin Amis ... Independent ... John Crace ... London Times ... more links ... His last short story.
People and ideas influence events, but geography largely determines them. Time to dust off the Victorian thinkers who knew the physical world best... more»
Lord Nelson’s mistress, Lady Emma Hamilton, once sang Haydns ode to Nelsons victory – with Haydn himself at the piano... more»
Hugo Chavez’s gift to President Obama at the summit was Eduardo Galeano’s Open Veins of Latin America. The book is in fact a perfect idiots bible... more»
A.N. Wilson has been a believer, then an atheist, and has come out the other side as a believer once again. He explains his personal pilgrimage... more»
Mark Edmundson wants his fellow literature profs to give up “readings” of works of literary art. Ignore Marx’s, Freud’s, Foucault’s, or Derrida’s points of view: just read the books... more»
George Bernard Shaw said a “hideous fatalism” lay at the heart of Darwinism, “a ghastly and damnable reduction of beauty and intelligence.” Oh, really? Brian Boyd on Darwin and purpose... more»
The Rosetta Stone is a wondrous object, but who should own it? The Macedonians? The Egyptians? The French, who deciphered it? The Greeks? The British, who have taken good care of it?... more»
Ian McEwans Atonement alienates readers who dislike what they regard as a trick at the end. Maybe they feel guilt at having been so moved by the novel’s conventional romantic power... more»
We can talk up wind and solar power all we want. But billions of people in China and India will never trade 3¢/kwh coal for 15¢ wind or 30¢ solar. Time to get real, says Peter Huber... more»
Workers of the world, unite!” Karl Marx said that workers had “first of all to settle things with their own bourgeoisie.” Now may be the moment, argues Leo Panitch... more»
The Special Interest State feeds on itself; the larger and more complex government becomes, the higher the costs of monitoring it. No one without a strong interest can even keep track... more»
As much as Anthony Grayling admires the art, music, and literature of the West, it is the world-transforming insight and power of science that is the great achievement of humanity... more»
As you read this, would-be genocidaires are out there, thinking about it: whom to kill; how many; how to do it. Also: whether they can get away with it. Will you let them?... more»
Natural habitats – trees, water, wildlife – give us a sense of deep pleasure, says Paul Bloom. At the same time, we feel anxiety about the possibility of nature’s loss... more»
Western postmodernism has roots in the failure of revolutionary politics, says Terry Eagleton. Islamism is a response to the defeat of the Muslim Left, with religion replacing politics... more»
“Liberty is a form of order,” writes Roger Scruton, “not a license for anarchy and self-indulgence. We should cease to mock the things that mattered to our parents”... more»
Much recent British fiction falls into the shrill, misogynous, snobbish “Thatcher’s Britain” genre. But what did Britain look like to novelists before Thatcher took office?... more»
Realism is central to storytelling today, many critics will claim. Yet it wasn’t always so in the past, argues Ted Gioia, and it may not remain so for long... more»
Virtually all warnings can be viewed as premature, since the date of a warned-against event may be uncertain. Consider warnings against the housing bubble... more»
How to handle class: whoever you meet, your dress and your bearing must convey the message, “I am freer and less terrified than you are”... more»
Was David Hume an atheist? An agnostic? Both categories of nonbelief are too crude for such a subtle, witty ironist. Simon Blackburn shows why... more»
The Elements of Style: for fifty years we’ve been fed this toxic mix of purism, atavism, and personal eccentricity that is not even grounded by a proper grasp of grammar... more»
As a candle-carrying altar boy, Brendan O’Neill had enough religion forced down his throat. But the memories don’t make atheist preachiness any more bearable... more»
Notorious for its violence, misogyny, and gleeful amorality, though less well known for its biting social commentary: Grand Theft Auto IV polarizes opinion... more»
Our genes are not just selfish. We also care about loyalty, respect, tradition, and religion. Our evolved moral emotions are about our families, our friends, and our groups... more»
Postmodernism was beyond good and evil just as the financial bubble was beyond value fact and value fantasy. “Its true because we say it is” has run its course, writes André Glucksmann... more»
Economists should abandon the idea that they can confidently predict without causing people to believe their predictions. They need to replace their false modesty with true moderation... more»
Europe may think it has retired from its historical tasks, having done and suffered so much. But history will not let Europe off the hook quite so easily, writes Adam Kirsch... more»
Whatever his actual theology, John Rawls’s life and writings, indeed his whole theory of justice, are infused with feelings that reflect a deeply religious temperament... more»
Adam Smithsinvisible hand” is a force that creates a spontaneous order which, without asking for much, solves the enormous task of social coordination... more»
Why, my friend asked, was I so quiet? I said my kid was in the hospital. Leukemia? I wanted to tell her I would hack off my right arm for it to be as simple as cancer... more»
“Energizer Bunny Arrested! Charged with Battery.” Why do we hate puns – and love them, too? Joseph Tartakovsky on the mystery of the pun... more»
Global warming, says Freeman Dyson, “has become a party line,” promoted by experts crippled by a conventional wisdom they have created for themselves... more»
“The river rises, flows over its banks / and carries us all away, as mayflies floating downstream.” Gilgamesh, like many later thinkers, learned something about nothing... more»
Truth matters, but the best way to get at truth is to allow an open contest of ideas. That’s why we need freedom of speech... more»
The animated Jean-Jacques Rousseau with his Armenian caftan. The portly, amiable David Hume. They must have made a very odd couple... more»
Chiang Kai-Shek was despised, not just by the Communist Chinese, but by many Americans. Yet he may not deserve his reputation as a brutal despot... more»
Why don’t students like school? Because school requires them to think abstractly – not something our brains are designed to enjoy... more»
Garish, tasteless, sentimental: kitsch gives us fake human feeling wrapped in a thick layer of cuteness. But so what, if people enjoy it?... more»
Friedrich Engels was a scion of 19th-century Manchester cottonocracy, yet hoped for the British economy’s collapse... more»
Seedy, desperate men and women: traitors, unhappy adulterous lovers, murderers. No one has ever wanted to be a Graham Greene character... more»
Franz Kafka lived out his humdrum life in Prague. As he said, “Prague doesn’t let go. The old crone has claws. One has to yield”... more»
The boxing, the Burgundy, the ease in talking to privates and generals alike, the friendships with Camus or cigar-store bookies: A.J. Liebling was a wordly man... more»
Universities in trouble. The collapse last year of institutional investments has been spectacular, with higher education hit hard... more»
Liberalism has always rightly stood for a broad prosperity and solidarity that pits itself against exploitation. It has always, that is, been proto-socialist... more»
Helen Gurley Brown was a poor hillbilly from the Ozarks whose father died when she was ten and whose sister had polio. But from that start... more»
Art entertains, inspires, and goads. But it also deepens our grasp of the human condition by taking us into the minds of others... more» ... more» ... more»
However loudly the grammar mavens may protest, says Ben Yagoda, an English speaker can expect to see new words impact their language... more»
Even D.A. Powells flawed poems are better than hundreds of unflawed poems that live for a day like mayflies, then die on the page from dullness... more»
What distinguishes friendship between two people from friendship between a human and an animal? Is “friendship” even the right word with animals?... more»
“Rich, artistic, brilliant, oversexed (or undersexed), neurotic, and ultimately tragic.” Yeah, it’s that brooding Wittgenstein family again... more»
Black is brilliant, and Alain Locke, one of the great intellectuals of any color, a man of aesthetic sensibility and philosophical depth, proved it... more»
Refrigeration changed our attitude toward food by removing the site of production from the sight of consumers. Thus did our idea offreshness” emerge... more»
“We’ve burned our bridges,” Goebbels said in 1943. “We will either go down in history as the greatest statesmen of all time, or the greatest criminals”... more»
In 1797, Thomas Cadell made perhaps the greatest mistake in publishing history. One Rev. George Austen had sent him a novel by his daughter... more»
It was the young Benjamin Disraeli who coined the word millionaire in 1827 for the burgeoning class that had created the Industrial Revolution... more»
The historical battle for women is to be visible, to be accorded full humanity, not as transient organisms, nor as animals created for male use... more»
As we drift toward a world where the press is made up of small players, don’t forget: we may come to miss the media dinosaurs who once roamed the earth... more»
Radical Islam does not revert to an ancient world-view. Would that it did. The Islam of Khomeini or Al-Qaeda is in truth quite modern... more»
Marie Antoinette dancing, Napoleon making small talk, trading with the Iroquois – Lucie Dillons journal has it all... more»
“A review cannot convey how deeply unpleasant the experience of reading The Kindly Ones is. This is one of the most repugnant books I have ever read”... more»
Is the snarky Maureen Dowd a witty political satirist, or a sexist political scientist? Not a hard question, except maybe to David Denby... more»
Did Gerard Manley Hopkins’s being a priest damage his capacity to be a poet? Was he gay? Biographers need to ask, if not answer, such questions... more»
“Whoever beats a good woman, and then abandons her, should be in great trouble – or worse!” The Song of the Cid still has appeal... more»
Marian Anderson at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939 was a symbol of great art, resolute courage, and human dignity... more»
India is a place, Wendy Doniger writes, “where not only the future but even the past is unpredictable.” Just look at the history of Hinduism... more»
The snub of the century. It was T.S. Eliot himself who rejected George Orwells Animal Farm for publication by Faber and Faber... more»
Friedrich Engels was born into the coal fumes of the Ruhr, heart of the industrial revolution, where the rich lived next to human misery... more»
Col. Percy Fawcett was convinced by research, deduction, and clairvoyance that an undiscovered city lay hidden in the Amazon. So he tried to find it... more»
Science fiction used to be more overtly political. Now, says Benjamin Plotinsky, it tends increasingly to employ Christian allegory... more»
Capitalism may not be finished, but it is set to become a servant of the people rather than a master. The current slump will accelerate this change... more»
Afghanistan’s Ariana was once viewed by travel experts as among the finest airlines in the world. Mohammed Atash was the man to bring it back... more»
What would it be like to be brought up by George Orwell? Pretty grim, you might think. You would be wrong... more»
His website looks like it always did, but in his personal life, Matt Drudge is behaving more and more like the reclusive Howard Hughes... more»
You love Poe or you don’t, but, either way, Poe doesnt love you. A writer who was more condescending to his adoring readers would be hard to find... more»
Knowing East Germany would soon fade into memory, West German photo journalist Karlheinz Jardner set out for points east in 1990... more» ... photo gallery
When Shakespeare died he left neither books nor letters nor notes. This strikes Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens as more than a little odd... more»
Jill Prices memory is extraordinary, to be sure, but it is not about just anything. It is about anything having to do with her... more»
Autism has 111 recognized treatments. Familes will try many of these. None of them works, though all seem to – for a while... more»
Jane Austen managed to tickle a sweet spot in the modern mind in a way that shows we are not so far removed from early Homo sapiens... more»
Sir John Maddox, skeptical prophet who enlivened Nature, is dead at the age of 83... more» ... His predictions look pretty good ... Edge interview
Just as Montaigne pioneered the modern essay form, Andrew Sullivan’s pithy, personal style is creating the modern blog... more»
Both Picasso and Apollinaire were prime suspects when Leonardo’s Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre in 1911... more»
Most overrated woman writer? Gertrude Stein, says Elaine Showalter: a sanctified “sister,” perhaps, but still unreadable. Most underrated?... more»
They might turn out to be subhuman in intellectual and emotional powers. But if we clone Neanderthals, they will have legal rights... more»
Humans evolved as distance runners who can overtake exhausted game. That’s why you have those stubby toes... more»
From escape, to language, to history, to local lit: here are eight kinds of books Frank Bures wont travel without... more»
Music recitals, Glenn Gould predicted, would fade away, replaced by an individual interaction between listener and recorded artist. A good idea, he thought... more»
Biblical characters are opaque to us, James Wood argues, precisely because they are transparent to God, who is their real audience. Perhaps... more»
Russias Depopulation Bomb. Vodka is an important tool in what now amounts to a practice of ethnic self-cleansing... more»
What was that world leader doing shaking hands with the cop who stands by the door at 10 Downing Street? At least Gordon Brown knows a cop’s place... more»
John Hope Franklin: a model for scholars, students, and activists, a man of immense generosity to friends and of prudent counsel to the powerful... more»
The little white lie that grew. Judge Marcus Einfeld got a speeding ticket, told a fib, and, as Clive James explains, dug himself in deeper... more»
George Frideric Handel, musical genius, was also a binge eater and boozer whose gargantuan appetites brought on lead poisoning... more»
Biofuels are the worst enemy of the world’s rainforests and of the people who depend on them. Heather Rogers explains... more»
The most important clash in Israel’s brief history took place in 1948, when Israelis battled Arab militias in towns and villages of Palestine... more»
“We’re constantly told that we can’t do anything: we’re poor, dirty, hungry, corrupt, diseased. And we’re supposed to build a better Africa?”... more»
How odd: just handling cash can take the sting out of social rejection and even diminish physical pain. Money is such strange stuff... more»
At midnight on March 6, 1835, a hysterical J.S. Mill knocked at Thomas Carlyle’s door: a servant had by mistake burned the ms. of Carlyle’s book... more»
Narcissistic tendencies – confidence, extraversion, a desire for power – can actually help to make you a good leader. But if youre a true narcissist... more»
Adverbs like surprisingly, predictably, and ironically tell the reader what to value in a sentence before he has read it. Even William Zinsser had to learn to avoid them... more»
We worry around here: are they about to declare Arts & Letters Daily addicts mentally ill? That’s what experts want to do with Internet addicts... more»
Setting achievements of Mesopotamia and Greece side by side is a useful exercise, says Roger Sandall. What do we learn from the comparison?... more»
The economic downturn is a profound threat to the autocratic regimes of the world, from China and Russia to Venezuela and the Persian Gulf states... more»
When the time came, Alexander Hamilton put on his glasses and fired above Burr’s head, shooting some twigs off a cedar tree. Burr aimed to kill... more»
Let’s face it, Twitter marks an advance in freedom and any backlash against it is doomed. For the fault lies not in our Tweets but in ourselves... more»
“I never thought,” says Roger Scruton, “when I finally put the old humanism behind me, that I would ever feel nostalgia over its loss.” But just look at the New Humanism... more»
Everyone else is getting a bailout. Why not the publishing industry? Democracies need books as much as they need banks and cars... more»
The killer’s blood was on the weapon, but a DNA search yielded nothing. Why not comb through DNA records to find the killers relatives? Just might crack the case... more»
“Most people who bother with the matter at all,” wrote George Orwell in 1946, “would admit that the English language is in a bad way.” Was it, back then? Is it so bad today?... more»
The beauty, intelligence, grace, complexity, and wit that make Lolita a work of art deepen our well of compassion and sympathy, says Francine Prose, whether we like it or not... more»
The American project: a different way for people to live together, unique among the nations of the earth, and immeasurably precious... more»
“Like Pascal, like Kierkegaard and Tolstoy, indeed like Nietzsche....” Who are you reading? Must be George Steiner. If you don’t care much for high culture, Steiner will care on your behalf... more»
Terry Southern, author of Dr. Strangelove, was a satirist, to be sure. Also journalist, novelist, playwright, and producer of precocious, unclassifiable mélanges of fact and fiction... more»
Not so long ago conservatives were equating liberalism with fascism; today, they have done a 180-degree turn: liberalism is now synonymous with socialism... more»
It is given to very few writers of fiction to create an imperishable character. Let us give thanks then to John Mortimer for Horace Rumpole, old rogue and old hero of the Old Bailey... more»
A nation of jailers. The American project of civic inclusion remains incomplete, says Glenn Loury, as long as so many blacks remain in prison... more»
We don’t need a “new capitalism.” We need to go back to a truer, deeper understanding of Adam Smith, A.C. Pigou, and other thinkers, says Amartya Sen... more»
Woolf, Rhys, and OConnor sounds like a law firm, and indeed it could be – a firm sure to lay down clear laws and illuminating precedents for women writers... more»
Down with Facebook: not just because of the fake “friends,” but because of the stultifying mind-numbing inanity of it all, the sheer boredom... more»
The Philadelphia Flower Show’s explosive displays of color and petals and odors are excessive, but they are also a rather timely kind of excess... more»
In our universities we ought to keep on studying philosophy, music, and art. But how about a nod toward the fact that 27,000 children die every day from preventable causes?... more»

Are men really funnier than women? Here are one or two theories of men’s vs. women’s humor. Or is it three, or seven, theories?... more»
Most of what scholars need for research these days is on the Internet. Oh yeah? So you’re trying to trace a judicial duel held before the French King in 1386... more»
Hitler loved high society: he wanted to be seen with bluebloods and celebrities of film, music, art, theatre, and sports... more»
The Oedipuses were a talented but, well, you know, not exactly happy family. Maybe a little bit like that Wittgenstein clan... more»
Top economists, ordinary people, and even Ben Bernanke were wrong to ignore the housing bubble. But were they being irrational?... more»
Nature vs. nurture? Forget it. Nature works with nurture, and nurture with nature, to shape our aptitudes, our health, our very lives... more»
Rummaging through some trash, he fished out a bowler hat, a cane, overlarge boots and pants, and a tiny jacket. Charlie Chaplin was born... more»
The experience of beauty ought to tell us we are at home in the world, argues Roger Scruton, that it is a place fit for the lives of beings like us... more»
The words of godlike Agamemnon need clear, direct translation into English. Yet would he say, “I’ll be okay”?... more»
Kamila Stosslova, though not caring much for Leos Janácek’s music, turns out to have been his ideal muse: an empty canvas for his fantasies... more»
One way to see French history: a long 19th century bookended by slaughter. But what a 19th century it was... more»
Ought a judge to allow two years to pass before dismissing a $54 million damage claim for a missing pair of trousers? Some people think, no... more»
It is easy to forget how close we remain to the prehistoric men and women who first found beauty in the world. Our art instinct is theirs... more»
Lafcadio Hearn had a rare gift for bringing a place to bustling, scented, gorgeously tinted life: a thunderstorm over New Orleans, for instance... more»
By the age of 34, Talleyrand had become a worldly, womanizing bishop. With the end of the ancien régime, he adjusted to new realities. And how... more»
Behind the carefully constructed persona of suburban squire, John Cheever waged a tumultuous battle against himself... more»
While friends lived it up, young Warren Buffett scoured stock listings for “cigar butts,” discarded stocks that still had a few puffs left in them... more»
Experimental science can involve nudging complicated equipment. Still, the most temperamental piece of lab equipment will always be the human brain... more»
After midnight on 18 March 1990, two men posing as police entered the Gardner Museum in Boston. It was a heist... more»
The Revolution of 1848 actually made politics less flexible, consolidating state power. Continuity, it showed, works better than revolution... more»
Stalin would kill not just you for the wrong thoughts: he would kill your family, down to the last child. Not even the Czar at his worst did that... more»
William Julius Wilson on race: neither blaming the victim nor defending the victim is going to move us forward... more»
Paul Valéry: the most distinguished, versatile, and best-connected mind of his time, the ultimate French intellectual... more»
C. Wright Mills decried the “cheerful robots” he saw in cold war culture, along with an American fusion of welfare and warfare... more»
Ellen Terry “moved through the world of the theatre like embodied sunshine.” Henry Irving was electrifying on stage... more»
Abraham Lincoln has been long enshrined as a complex legend, a fate sealed by the martyrdom that gave him to the ages, or the angels... more»
With the death in 1944 of his first wife, Bella, whose love fostered Marc Chagall’s creativity, he became another one of art’s egotistical monsters... more»
If we continue to go on in the same way, our future is unsustainable. Of course, we never go on in the same way. Matt Ridley knows... more»
A cloud of clichés and fallacies obscure Henry VIII. His grandeur and arrogance may render him attractive. But he was a serial killer... more»
Marx was wrong. The opiate of the masses isn’t religion, but spectator sports, says David Barash. It’s in our genes.... more»
Did Charles Dickens’s money-making tour of America kill him? No, but it added a new dimension to his immortality... more»
Is it Shakespeare? Maybe, but not likely. The so-called Cobbe portrait is a splendid painting, but probably depicts Sir Thomas Overbury... more»
American firms outsource work they used to do themselves. Why can’t American college students outsource their essays or dissertations?... more»
Roland Barthes proclaimed the death of the author. So where would he stand on the publication of his private journals – long after his own death?... more»
Art Spiegelman loves chicken fat, was once banned from Robert Crumb’s house, and hates the term “graphic novel”... more»
Setting goals can be useful, so long as you know what the right goals are. But as Drake Bennet points out, life is so damned complicated... more»
Was Einstein wrong? Quantum effects not only go against deep intuitions about the world, they undermine special relativity... more»
A tale of sadness and forgetting. It may be hard to believe, but Milan Kundera informed on one of his countrymen in 1950. The man got 14 years hard labor... more»
China may sustain growth for another two decades and vindicate the optimists. But there are strong odds that Chinas growth will fizzle... more»
For all the wonders of our global era, Jews, Muslims, and Christians seem ever more locked in mortal combat. But maybe this story can have a happy ending... more»
Blow the powder away and look at the evidence: Harvard MBA fingerprints are all over recent financial fiascos. Philip Broughton knows... more»
The American Dream has not gone sour, says David Kamp: it can still give citizens a decent chance to scale the walls and achieve what they wish... more»
Shoes were important, but during WWII, Adidas also made the German version of the bazooka. The company was not alone in aiding the war effort... more»
Newspapers have not really so much lost readers as lost the ability to monetize them. There is hope yet, as James DeLong explains... more»
Just what the world needs least: wise and gifted child chefs who, with the help of their narcissistic moms and dads, will lead us to the culinary uplands... more»
Have that drink, girls. It may well be that the “take-home message” from an Oxford survey on booze and cancer is that such studies can be intellectual garbage... more»
Is religion innate? Would children raised in isolation spontaneously create their own religious beliefs? Paul Bloom says yes.... more»
What are the most ancient words still in our vocabulary? Some of the words we use every day derive from a prehistoric tongue we might call “Ice Age”... more»
Road novels, stories, and gangster films of the 1930s depicted American social mobility as a bitter cheat. We may now relive 1930s art... more»
Sick of getting wound up playing Grand Theft Auto? Then try Flower, a video game where you can, uh, hang out with flowers, and stuff... more»
Conrad Black has served a year of his six-year sentence. In an email interview, he describes his life in a Florida prison... more»
Natural selectionandsurvival of the fittest.” Two phrases that have misled many about the true nature of evolution... more»
His prose never lingers over needless complexities. No, Malcolm Gladwell doesn’t try our patience with life’s mysteries. All can be explained and improved. He makes you feel so darned good... more»
History is larger than science, since science is part of history, says John Lukacs. First came nature, then came man, then science. No scientists, no science... more»
Ian McEwan once tried to give away novels in a park. Only women took them, not men. He predicts, “When women stop reading, the novel will be dead”... more»
Artificial intelligence may one day replicate the human brain and its awareness. But will it do so with digital, on/off switches? That is a very hard question... more»
Niceness is a political sentiment that has undermined discipline and authority in family and classroom. Kenneth Minogue explains how... more»
Poetry today is – all of it – magnificent. It may be that, come the next Ice Age, it will go back to being satisfactory. That might be a good thing, too... more»
Baby Boomers had it all: the jobs, the safe money, luxurious retirement at 55. Watching it fall apart can be amusing for their children... more»
Rush Limbaugh and his fellow bloviators for radio and TV may survive in the age of Obama. But if conservatism is to have a future, it will need better than a looped tape of lowbrow talk... more»
India’s euphoria at the Oscars reveals a lot about its national character. Too much, in fact. Indians now know, our slum dwellers are the worlds best... more»
Submission in advance. Twenty years after the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, Islamism has Europe more firmly in its grip than ever before... more»
Deep in one writer’s soul, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler are having their bourbons and hammering away at their typewriters. The bourbon is important... more»
Britain, bastion of freedom, is the first EU country to bar an elected European legislator from its territory for his political opinions... more»
Intellectuals flatter themselves by pitting their virtues against public philistinism. Better, argues Andrew Delbanco, that they should ask how they might earn back public trust... more»
Should scientists study possible links between race and IQ? Neuroscientist Stephen Rose says No. Psychologists Stephen Ceci and Wendy Williams say Yes. Comments here and here.
Art has always needed patrons, as Jonathan Le Cocq explains. But taxpayer patronage means the arts are no longer being paid for by their direct audience... more»
John Updike, driven by intellectual curiosity all his life, was troubled by science as others are troubled by God. Ian McEwan explains... more»
We need to know the astounding truth about biological evolution, says Richard Dawkins, and the equally amazing intellectual dishonesty of its enemies... more»
McCulture. Americans have an admirable liking for the books, music, and foods that process other cultures. But is this a taste for the truly foreign?... more»
Lit crit is off the menu, but the reading public till wants thoughtful ideas about narratives in any medium – plots, characters, moral issues. Look at books on television... more»
Citizenship in a free state can never alone be enough for us. We need a larger sense of purpose, of meaning, of resources for the human spirit... more»
Charles Darwin had the objectivity to put aside ideas with powerful emotional resonance, like the notion that evolution should be purposeful. He could think for himself... more»
The relationship between movies and comics, though it may never be a marriage, will always be alive, mysterious and passionate as a romance... more»
Godot and Molloy lit up the landscape of post-war writing. Now Samuel Becketts letters are set to light up our era... more»
Between 1905 and 1915 revolutions led by intellectuals rocked the world. They also failed to create democracies... more»
Every generation is given the annotated Dracula it deserves. Ours is a postmodern version, one with a playful disdain for any claim of truth... more»
Did Werner Heisenberg really want to build a bomb for Hitler, or did he secretly, intentionally sabotage the effort?... more»
We, like London’s Bright Young People in 1930, now find ourselves on a dividing line between a time of gross excess and what may be a grim future... more»
Beauty is both pleasurable and an ethical summons, requiring us to renounce our narcissism and look with reverence on the world... more»
Workaholic professionals, whose minds 24/7 race ahead to the next encounter, are always elsewhere – the twitterati... more»
Ben Franklin, Marie-Antoinette, Louis XVI, Talleyrand, Hamilton, Napoleon, Madame de Staël, Washington, Mohawk Indians. Lucie de La Tour du Pin knew them all... more»
Soybeans yield more usable protein per acre than other common cultivated plant. Yes, but that is then used to make protein of a different kind... more»
In his stories, John Cheever tried to make sense of the world and of other people. In his novels, he mostly tried to make sense of himself... more»
Victor Serge had helped bring the Soviet Union to power. He then became a moral and intellectual lighthouse to its fiercest opponents... more»
Rousseau was a genius, but also a selfish, half mad, paranoid egomaniac. The lovable David Hume, on the other hand... more»
Zbigniew Herbert’s voracious appetite for experience of the world – landscape, food, art, people – made him an ideal traveler, and travel writer... more»
Just as we have the same bones in our hands as chimps, so we share a deep desire to kill members of our own species. Hey, are those bones the same?... more»
Why is it that novels about men in boats (Moby-Dick, Huckleberry Finn) are treated as important, while ones about women in houses (House of Mirth) are not?... more»
George Orwell saw the problem for a fixed human nature as “how to prevent power from being abused.” Till we solve that one, he’ll remain a living writer... more»
Atheists and agnostics abound today, but it was not always thus: time was when all lives were oriented on God and religion... more»
The global warming bandwagon is stuck in a snowdrift, and there are signs the public is suffering from “green fatigue”... more»
We may well be genetically predisposed to appreciate listening to Sinatra or staring at a Seurat. But where did the genes come from?... more»
“A parent’s role is to set the limits so that the child does not overindulge its animal spirits.” Maybe that’s how governments should treat citizens... more»
Salvador Dalí seemed a mad genius and cheerful fraud. The real Dalí was pitiable, a prisoner of his greed and pathologies... more»
Christopher Hitchens, on a visit to Beirut, could not resist scribbling a few words on a political poster. Thats when the trouble began... more»
Nietzsche thought we took our deepest desires and disguised them as products of logic. Maybe experimental philosophy will show he was right... more»
Percy Fawcett saw a majestic city rising in the Amazon, one swallowed at last by creepers and palms. They swallowed him too... more»
Leonardo da Vinci, maybe a little like you, was a hopeless procrastinator. Well, so what? He was just on his way to his next great idea... more»
Lalu Yadav, a corrupt and unapologetic yokel, is also eerily canny. He now heads the Indian Railway System, with its 2.4 million employees... more»
Charles Dickens founded Urania Cottage for fallen women – mostly whores and thieves. He loved the stories they told him, which he wrote down... more»
The thing about beautiful design is that you don’t need an expert to explain it. On the other hand, if you do have an expert, say, a mathematician, at hand... more»
Cooking: forms of preparing food are humanity’s “killer app” – the evolutionary change that underpins all of the others... more»
The bourgeoisie will eventually draw even the most barbarian nations into civilization, said Karl Marx. He knew the power of the middle class... more»
Who is to blame for the world economic crisis? Does market capitalism have a future? Big questions – in Paris in 1938... more»
Neither Britain nor America can boast a coherent, admirable, traditional cuisine. That is one reason both lands produce such great cookbooks... more»
Knowing the odds, basketball star Shane Battier can pursue an uncertain strategy with total certainty – the very picture of cool objectivity... more»
A crisis is a terrible thing to waste. The United States has seldom wasted its crises. Maybe we can also make good use of the current one... more»
“I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.” A rather carnivorous metaphor for the vegetarian Henry David Thoreau... more»
At our desk, on the road, or on a remote beach, the world is a keyboard tap away. It’s so cool never to be alone. And yet... more»
Historic experiments suggest that there may be a better way to gear up the human immune system to battle cancer: come down with a fever... more»
Country boy, wise leader, skeptical theist, second-rate political huckster, or even racist. Each generation has a Lincoln of its own... more»
It’s a curious reversal in moralizing. Food was once a matter of personal taste. Now sex is a matter of taste, and food puts people in high moral dudgeon... more»
No one competing for national office can afford to be on the wrong side of Americanism, a creed both immensely attractive and remarkably supple... more»
Carl Orff may have despised the Nazis for their lack of aesthetic sensibility, but he kept his views to himself and did well in the Third Reich... more»
“Culture – literature and the other arts – are functionally significant features of human evolution.” Joseph Carroll and other thinkers on the power of Darwin’s thought today... more»
In the last years, the financial system created a fog so thick that even its captains could not navigate it. Like the rest of us, they fell for a kind of pseudo-objectivity... more»
Samuel Huntington died a pariah among America’s intellectual elite. As Eric Kaufmann explains, this was because he was actually rather normal... more»
A nation divided. You see, the yoga people simply can’t stand what lawn-chemical people represent, and vice versa... more»
Organ donation, some argue, should be built on altruism, pure kindness to complete strangers. Lovely ideal, but what if it means people die for want of transplant organs?... more»
Should you take the GRE as a way to ensure your future? What if you flub it? What if you don’t, but people think you’re just showing off? Michael Bérubé wonders... more»
In the age of Barack Obama, a silent but fateful struggle for the soul of capitalism is being waged. Can the market system be made to serve us? Or will we serve it?... more»
Parents ought to have the right to name their own kids, most of us would agree. But what if they want to call their baby boy Adolf Hitler”?... more»
The Ultimatum Game: what an eye-opener for economists. You never know what you’re going to get until you actually run the experiment... more»
Religion and science do not conflict, says the National Academy of Sciences. But this lovely idea is wearing thin as scientists grow ever more vociferous about their lack of faith... more»
Che Guevara, steely and determined in his beret, is so cool. In fact, in Cuba he’s become the Ronald McDonald of the revolution... more»
Being smart does not entail being able to make the right decisions. Rational behavior, getting on in life, can be beyond those even with the highest IQs... more»
Bankers out of work might consider becoming chefs. But no Madoff types, please: cooking the books isn’t the right experience for cooking coq au vin... more»
Even before the inauguration, Elizabeth Alexander was writing poetry that was already public in the worst sense: inauthentic, bureaucratic, rhetorical... more»
As we all seek more connectivity, we lose our sense of a private self. We no longer hear the still, small voice that speaks only in silence... more»
Google has been digitizing millions of books from major research libraries. What does this mean for the future of the book? Robert Darnton wonders... more»
Graffiti artists in the Paris Metro rage at remote abstractions: corporations or governments. As for the palpable threat right there on the platform... more»
He smashed the china, soiled sheets, sunbathed nude, and was either drunk or stoned. Arthur Rimbaud was an impossible house guest... more»
Blogging emphasizes self-obsessed, angry point scoring over the reflective exchange of ideas. The Web needs a politics that is not all aboutme”... more»
Two decades after the fatwa on Salman Rushdie for The Satanic Verses, Muslim fanatics have gained a new advantage: media self-censorship... more»
Explorer Richard Burton found the Somalis a “fierce and turbulent race” in 1854. They still are. They are also eloquent poets... more»
Puritans love disasters: they can emerge from their priest holes, wagging their fingers: “You are being punished for your immoral lifestyle”... more»
For eight years, George W. Bush pulled the levers of government – sometimes frantically – never realizing they did not connect to the machinery... more»
W.H. Auden, E.M. Forster, William Empson, and Philip Larkin: four men who lived and died by, with, and for the English language. Steven Isenberg had lunch with them all... more»
Literacy, the most empowering achievement of our civilization, is to be replaced by a vague and ill-defined screen savvy. All in the name of progress... more»
A solipsistic pursuit of happiness by people who live close to one another can, alas, result in conflict. Our egotism creates a hostile environment for us... more»
The Internet is not like print. Google or YouTube alone can seriously impede on the free flow of ideas. Its not your fathers censorship... more»
Lines like Milton’s, “Let not England forget her precedence of teaching nations how to live,” make the Scots bristle. That damnable English sense of superiority... more»
Solving the world’s problems may require both scientific and religious attitudes, argues Frederick Grinnell: two different types of faith, not just the one or the other... more»
There remains a place for morality in world affairs, but what of civilization, and its step-child, imperialism. Mark Mazower meditates on a fraught relationship... more»
Do you suffer from blogaholism, Twitteritis, RSS Dependency, or Status Update Disorder? Then Polly Frost has the seminar for you... more»
Whence the fear and contempt in modern art of such qualities as beauty and tenderness towards the world? How about our inflamed egotism?... more»
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has not stopped big nations from holding nukes. It has only killed off the protest against nuclear weapons themselves... more»
Materialism, consumerism, owning things, is bad. Self-denial is good. So if I limit what I own to 100 objects, are my shoes one thing or two?... more»
If sociologists ignore the genetic components of human behavior and sociality, will other academics – and the wider world – ignore sociology?... more»
Ancient Greek joke. Man complains to his doctor, “When I wake up in the morning, I’m dizzy for 20 minutes” Doctor advises, “Then wake up 20 minutes later”... more»
“I’ll scarcely be persuaded that anything good can come from Arabia,” said Petrarch. Little did he grasp the depth of Islamic thought... more» ... more»
Alan Wolfe’s claim is that liberalism is a set of dispositions, habits of mind: liberals are talkative, tolerant, open-minded, egalitarian, and realistic... more»
Everyone seems to agree that human evolution stopped around 10,000 years ago. How sure are we that this is true?... more» ... interview
Alas, poor Kafka. In the eighty-odd years since his death, the deification of Franz Kafka has reduced his work to the level of aphorism... more»
Masterly, pitiless, I.J. Singer’s great 1936 novel, The Brothers Ashkenazi, forgoes a happy ending for a just one: Lodz gets all it deserves... more»
“Adventure is a soft option. It requires less courage to be an explorer than an accountant.” Maybe, but exploration makes for better reading... more»
Good Americans don’t seriously question English aesthetic judgments, said H.L. Mencken. Film critic David Thomson has long dined out on that maxim... more»
Darwin and Lincoln did not make the modern world,” says Adam Gopnik. “But they helped make our moral modernity”... more» ... more»
“Success naturally confirms us in a favorable opinion of our own abilities,” wrote Samuel Johnson. Jane Austen had read Johnson on conceit... more»
Long live philosophers! As any good analyst would point out, that’s not just a spirited apostrophe. It’s a fact... more»
Newspapers have to deliver the news. If they do it with style and energy, William Randolph Hearst knew, and readers will follow... more»
“Sashenka experienced the despair of the damned. The unthinkable had happened.” Interrogated in Stalins terror, she broke... more»
God, John Milton said, “hath yet ever had this island under the special indulgent eye of his providence.” He has the same extravagant view of himself... more»
Not for historian Barry Cunliffe are “the events and personalities flitting on the surface” of history. He looks for the forces that lie beneath... more»
Plato called it “the greatest incentive to evil,” and maybe he was right. Yet we all succumb to pleasure: booze, chocolate, sex – or just a warm bath... more»
A perfect forgery may give us the same visual pleasure as an original, but we still feel cheated: it lacks the originality of mind we expect fom art... more»
He championed green issues, sex reform, and animal rights in Victoria’s reign. Why don’t we know who Edward Carpenter is?... more»
Since the welfare state in Britain takes care of so much in personal life, there’s not much choice left to people outside of sex and shopping... more»
The tragedy of Lincoln and Darwin: vast death was the necessary agent both of natural selection and of ending slavery... more»
Malcolm Gladwell’s nifty little stories may seem on the face of it to explain his general rules. Often they do not... more»
Darwin’s work on the common ancestry came not from mere curiosity, but from a desire to show that African slaves had the same roots as their masters... more»
“To draw its picture is like a blind man touching a snowflake,” said Paul Dirac of his own work. “One touch and it’s gone”... more»
It was brutal, heroic, and a victory for the longbow. How did the Battle of Agincourt look through the eyes of an archer?... more»
If a single Soviet soldier had fired into the unarmed crowds in Vilnius, Lithuania, in 1991, the USSR would have collapsed. But not firing also meant... more»
Every young generation adopts and adapts Romeo and Juliet as its own image of romantic revolt against intolerance... more»
Homo sapiens is a species obsessed with creating artistic experiences with which to amuse, shock, titillate, and enrapture itself... more»
Leafing through The Complete Playboy Centerfolds, you will be sure to note the anatomical variety among bunnies. Their nipples, for one thing... more»
Reuel Wilson’s childhood was lived between a Scylla of a father on one side and a Charybdis of a mother on the other... more»
Women do not want careers, says Megan Basham. They deeply, really, truly want to stay home and raise the kids... more»
Facts do not solve problems, Robert Hutchins thought. In truth, facts are “the core of an anti-intellectual curriculum”... more»
Obsession can be genuinely agonizing and disruptive. It can also be highly valued in an artist, a lover, or a doctor... more»
The mailman will one day do his rounds whistling atonal non-melodies, Anton Webern predicted. Why does this seem so implausible?... more»
No rational justification can be offered for trust and self-sacrifice. But without them, social life is chaos, a war of all against all... more»
Marc Chagall steadily revised and at times even reinvented his themes as he was exposed to works by old masters in the Louvre and elsewhere... more»
Underneath George Plimpton’s deeply amiable exterior was someone who could come across as a Man Without Qualities... more»
The cognitive capacities that have made us so successful as a species also work together to create a human tendency for religious thinking... more»
Think Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were a politicized financial disaster? Just wait until pension funds implode. Jon Entine explains... more»
Is evolution taking the species of the world toward greater improvement? S.J. Gould claimed not, but his view now has its critics... more»
Frankenfoods may be better for you, and for the planet, than you think, argues James McWilliams. They do not derserve all the bad press... more»
“This din of brasses, tin pans and kettles, this Chinese clatter with wood sticks and ear-cutting scalping knives...” Critics did not always like Wagner... more»
Britain cannot forever bury all its waste, nor is it able to recycle what it cannot bury. Why not just burn it?... more»
Military analysts are writing off high-tech warfare in the wake of Afghanistan and Iraq. But you just wait... more»
Would a world without vultures be a nicer place? Don’t even think about it. Constance Casey explains... more»
If democracy is in trouble across the globe, blame it on China, an authoritarian power with the economic clout to back those dictators that please it... more»
Except for the miracles of Sherman’s and Grant’s decisive victories in the field, Lincoln would have been defeated in 1864. How different things would look... more»
Like it or not, maybe as much as 40% of your political attitudes are determined by your genes. James Q. Wilson explains... more»
John Updike, novelist, man of letters and erudite chronicler of sex, divorce, and life’s adventures, is dead... AP ... NYT ... Telegraph ... Guardian ... NYT ... London Times ... WP ... New Yorker ... LA Times ... Guardian ... TPM ... Boston Globe ... London Times ... National Post ... WSJ ... LA Times ... Guardian ... Forbes ... SF Chron ... Slate ... Guardian ... Philly Inq ... TLS ... Independent ... Weekly Standard ... New Republic ... Guardian ... Michael Dirda ... Morris Dickstein
What does a woman want? Does she know? Does science know? Is this a deeply unanswerable question?... more»
The entire panoply of problems that John Maynard Keynes faced in the 1930s has come back to us. We still need him... more»
From Nebraska to Nepal, people praise their deities, attend services, perform holy rites, study sacred texts. Does it really make them better off?... more»
The rise of consumer society in Britain in the 17th century went along with a desire to attain markers of wealth, status, and good taste... more»
President Obamas brave inaugural speech rejected the political philosophy of the previous administration more than any other in history... more»
Robbie Burns, a poet who refused to blame all his country’s woes on the English, is still the voice of Scotland... more»
Ill-fitting gowns, lavender candles, and whale songs. No wonder men struggle with the spa experience... more»
No more scribbles. What we need is a “slow writing” movement that extols the virtues of neat, expressive penmanship... more»
Edgar Allan Poe was also a player of hoaxes, a plagiarist, and substance abuser. But oh, how he could write... more»
From gorilla walking sticks to crows who like bug fishing, there are plenty of clever non-humans who use tools... more»
Anti-Israel sentiment is morphing into anti-Jewish sentiment, as more and more people project their disdain for the modern world on to “the Jew”... more»
The death of the newspaper. Then come to think of it, newspapers have been dying for ever so long a time. Jill Lepore explains... more»
Call it the violence network. It’s biased, gruesome, and totally compelling. Al-Jazeera can make you think differently about war... more» help me God.” What does the history of presidential inaugural addresses tell us about the American story?... more»
John Mortimer, creator of Rumpole of the Bailey, is dead at the age of 85... LAT ... Guardian ... Independent ... Melvyn Bragg ... NYT ... Express ... Times ... IHT ... Guardian ... Times ... Guardian ... Telegraph ... Times
Andrew Wyeth, austere American artist with a hold on the popular imagination, is dead at 91... WSJ ... Wash Post ... NYT ... Boston Globe ... Baltimore Sun ... LAT ... NYT ... SF Chron ... Time ... London Times ... NYMag ... American Spectator
On Iraqi battlefields, robots are killing the bad guys and saving U.S. lives. But today’s PackBots and Ravens are still primitive machines. Just wait... more»
The end of white America is a cultural and demographic inevitability, says Hua Hsu. What will the new mainstream look like? How will whites fit into it?... more»
Story after story in the U.S. media depict Mexico as a country overrun by drug gangs and murder. It’s time to say no to the stereotype... more»
She stole his heart, so he gave her his kidney. She filed for divorce and now he wants it back. Only the lawyers are happy... more»
Time was when a responsible person in the West was someone who entertained firm moral and political principles. But is moral relativism defensible as a principle?... more»
Printing – electricity – radio – antibiotics: after them, nothing was the same. Intellectual impresario John Brockman asks a select group of thinkers, “What will change everything?”... more»
Time is the stuff of music: it plays with the rhythm of experience. If the world of physics is a space-time continuum, music is a pitch-time continuum... more»
Last June, one expert told the public that the art market only goes up: “For the first time since 1914, we are in a non-cyclical market.” Tulips, anyone?... more»
Germans don’t always find it easy to come to terms with their past. The Nazis come to mind, of course, but there is also the Baader-Meinhof gang... more»
What made Harold Pinter a fine dramatist – free association, unreliable recollections, non-sequiturs – also made him a bad political activist... more» ... more» ... more» ... more» ... more» ... more»
Africa needs Christianity, says atheist Matthew Parris. Alternatives leave Africans at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, witch doctors, mobile phones, and machetes... more»
If a persuasive argument for the existence of God is wanted, then it looks like philosophy has come up empty. Of course, the devout were not exactly holding their collective breath... more»
Do Jews control Hollywood? Could be. But Joel Stein wants a positive spin. Maybe, “Hollywood: now more Jews than ever!” or “Hollywood, from the people who brought you the Bible”... more»
Academics, intellectuals, and skeptics prefer to think of themselves as hard to fool. Certainly not by the likes of Bernard Madoff. That’s why Stephen Greenspan’s account is so riveting... more»
Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and may you have a joyous Kwanzaa! Hey, wait a minute. What happened to Kwanzaa? Kwanzaa isnt over, is it?... more»
Is Platos cave allegory about ascent of the soul? The true perception of the forms? Proper education? Maybe it’s about travel... more»
Lord Keynes was an Aristotelian, who believed that vices are virtues carried to excess. This is a good economic philosophy for us today, says Robert Skidelsky... more»
André Bernard senses a sad, vague shift in the cultural landscape: the quirky, creaky business which produces that most desirable and perfect of objects – the book – is perishing... more»
Darwinian science does not offer easy answers to all the pressing social questions of the day. But evolution gives social science a new start... more»
Literary prize-fighting. The sniping, the joke awards, the populist panels: Tom Chatfield looks at the tired landscape of literary prizes... more»
For Simon Schama, the American story is a compelling one. New plot lines may now emerge, but we’ve known the central character for a very long time... more»
In New York, Herbert Spencer was feted at a Delmonico’s banquet. The fawning tributes bored him, while his audience was baffled by his speech... more»
Jonathan Bate has written as enthralling, as eloquent an evocation of Shakespeare as one is likely ever to encounter... more»
Might artistic talent have evolved as a kind of ornamental capacity analogous to the peacock’s tail? Some people think so... more»
Many politicians, Hollywood stars, and NGOs have fallen in love with Hugo Chávez, treating him as a savior of the poor... more»
In 1973, Morton Smith shook the world of Christian scholarship. Was there a secret “evil” version of Mark’s Gospel?... more»
The accommodation by politicians was bad enough. Even more depressing was the role of artists and intellectuals in occupied France... more»
Being human is not a simple matter of stimulus and response: it is shaped by history, thought, time, and space – not to mention tears, snot, and earwax... more»
After the war, Germans liked stories of gallant resistance to the Nazis, especially Claus von Stauffenberg and the doomed plot to blow up Hitler... more»
Mark Bittman’s approach to food is one of ease, simplicity, and quality: this means he walks a fine and constantly shifting line... more»
Those Pre-Rafaelite oddfellows: Ruskin’s inability to consummate his marriage runs parallel to Rossetti’s inability to resist seducing everyone he met... more»
Snark: a nasty, knowing strain of abuse that spreads like pinkeye through the national conversation, schoolyard taunts without the schoolyard... more»
When Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, many Britons thought it was the beginning of the end of their empire. Still, it took a while... more»
Life’s modest pleasures: walking, cooking, fishing, napping, sitting in silence, and enjoying chocolate. All are legal... more»
Kafkaesque: the nonchalant intrusion of the bizarre and horrible into everyday life, the subjection of ordinary people to an inscrutable fate... more»
Our DNA deals each of us a unique hand of tastes and aptitudes: curiosity, ambition, empathy, love of novelty or security. For Steven Pinker, its my genome, myself... more»
Felix Mendelssohn was for most of the 19th century considered the equal of Beethoven and Bach. What happened?... more»
When people posed for portraits in the 19th century, they tried to convey status, character, modernity. For photography, not much has changed... more»
Cities: centers of intellectual life, politics, art, and the new. Also: cholera, grime, and kinds of exhausting buzz that actually harm the human brain... more»
The culture wars havent ended, they’ve just reached an ugly stalemate, says Liz McMillen. Consider David Horowitz’s recent visit to the MLA... more»
Hannah Arendt is still a thinker for our time, says Adam Kirsch: a time when failed states have again and again become the settings for mass murder... more»
Who Checks the Spell-Checkers? Microsoft Word’s dictionary is old and outdated, says Chris Wilson... more»
Obama has charisma, regarded as a feature you cannot ever really understand. No, say others, you can analyze charisma, break it down into parts... more»
While impoverished Rwandans bear the costs of conservation and saving the gorillas, the national tourism industry reaps millions... more»
Mone was bored, so she pulled out her old diaries to write a novel about her life. She curled up in bed and began typing on her mobile phone... more»
Simply vilifying the rich, with strikes and class violence, have lost their lustre for Venezuelans. After Hugo Chávez, maybe real democracy... more»