Friday, February 28, 2003
It's Worse Than You Imagined
There are a lot of myths about why Aids is widespread in Africa. But the facts are more bizarre.
Thursday, February 27, 2003
Tech & Science
Study Limits Physics Of Extra Dimensions
Just ahead of a bandwagon of theoreticians suggesting the discovery of extra dimensions might be just around the corner, a streetwise inquiry into the potential effects of these additional "spaces" has come up as empty as a gas tank during an oil embargo.
Meltdown In The Snow
Snow was somehow totalitarian. It controlled every aspect of life. You had to obey it in a thousand small ways. If you didn't, it punished you.
Read Any Good Books Lately?
Book reviewers always have one question, at the point of accepting a commission: "How long is it?"
Wednesday, February 26, 2003
Who Would Choose Tyranny?
I understand why some dislike the idea, and fear the ramifications of, America as a liberator. But I do not understand why they do not see that anything is better than life with your face under the boot. And that any rescue of a people under the boot (be they Afghan, Kuwaiti or Iraqi) is something to be desired. Even if the rescue is less than perfectly realized. Even if the rescuer is a great, overmuscled, bossy, selfish oaf. Or would you, for yourself, choose the boot?
Does China Have A Free Press? Yes... And No
I am optimistic that the media will become a viable monitor of Chinese industry, if for no other reason than that most people recognise by now that economic development will falter without it.
Tech & Science
One Battle Lost, But The Aids War Goes On
The first Aids vaccine ever to complete all three stages of clinical trials is a failure. It is disappointing news, even though hardly anyone expected AidsVax, made by the Californian biotech company VaxGen, to be a runaway success. But it is vital that this setback does not in any way damage the hunt for an effective vaccine. More effort, more commitment and more money is needed — not less.
Living With Our Mistake
Is New York about to choose the wrong proposal for rebuilding the World Trade Center?
Skipping A Night Out On The Town
A growing number of business travelers are skipping a night out on the town, once an inviolable perk, in favor of spending their evenings alone in their hotel room to work or relax. Many of them are also converting the room into an office where they work during the day.
Hussein Interview Is A Coup For CBS And Rather
"I'm a reporter who got lucky... You work hard, work your sources, make your contacts, not get discouraged, just keep coming."
Tuesday, February 25, 2003
Bush rushing to war? Nonsense.
Threats, Promises And Lies
Credibility isn't just about punishing people who cross you. It's also about honoring promises, and telling the truth. And those are areas where the Bush administration has problems.
They're Off, And Running The Same Old Story
In reality, political reporters don't like wide-open races. Instead, for their own reasons, they prefer a time-tested script with four primary categories of characters: the Mighty Front-Runner, the Charging Challenger, the Doomed Press Darling and the Assorted Afterthoughts.
Tech & Science
DNA, The Keeper Of Life's Secrets, Starts To Talk
The 50th anniversary of the discovery of DNA's double helix may be more than just a round number. It comes while both its founders are still alive and active: Dr. Crick published an article on the nature of consciousness just this month.
4,000 Cadets And A Quest For Flavor
If, as Napoleon said, an army marches on its stomach, then improved food and service are not insignificant matters at a time when West Point is girding for a potential war.
Fears Of Terror A Complication For Art Exhibits
Concerns over terrorism are complicating the large and luscious international loan exhibitions that have long been the lifeblood of museums, especially in places like New York that are considered a prime target for attacks.
No Story Too Big, No Writer Too Small
Newspapers, for all their usefulness, are a pebble in society's shoe. But the Lyme Beat is something different — it's written by schoolchildren. It's not a school paper, however.
Confession Of A Nielsen Family
Now I know how George Costanza felt when George Steinbrenner hired him to help run the New York Yankees.
Monday, February 24, 2003
Two Decades Of Warnings, And Now Duct Tape
The military has digested the lesson, to be sure, and has developed equipment and doctrine to fight in a chemical or biological environment. But in terms of public awareness and terrorist threats, we have spent the last two decades in a state of denial.
As a culture, our tolerance for fear is low, and our capacity to do something about it is unrivaled. We could have the highest degree of public safety the world has ever seen. But what would that country look like, and what will it be like to live in it?
Tech & Science
When All That's Left Is A Name
Putting a corporate logo on top of a big building is supposed be a way for companies to tout their success to the world. But for many technology and telecommunications companies in the San Francisco Bay Area, prominent nameplates are turning out to be beacons of brand-name obsolescence.
It's Come To This: Carry-On Steak
Long before airlines began cutting back on service — long before the advent of JetBlue Airways and other no-frills outfits that don't even serve meals — I began to implement one of my Guiding Principles of Life: Whenever possible, turn a negative into a positive, convert a burden into a pleasure.
Pornography Goes From XXX To Zzz
The popularization of pornography is everywhere. In the suburbs, the shopping mall, the movie theater, the radio, the television, our living rooms: Pop Porn.
You Bought The Wine. Now What's For Dinner?
With wines as inexpensive and as readily available as they are today, it is only natural that the next leap is to begin pairing wines with dinner.
Let Your Characters Tell You The Story
Here's what I believe happens when a writer begins her story with an authentically realized character (as opposed to one from central casting, formed out of the necessity to see a certain preordained action take place). If she allows him to take shape slowly on the page, if she resists the urge to make assumptions based on what she thinks he should do, he'll take on a life of his own and very nearly reveal the direction of the story.
Sunday, February 23, 2003
She Took My Arm As If She Loved Me (Excerpt)
It is a well known fact that aging persons, even persons with a pronounced tendency to grow older, are sometimes allowed to fall in love. God winked. I was such a person.
Saturday, February 22, 2003
The Wish (Excerpt)
Kamon Gilbert woke up on the morning of the last day of his life at 6:19 and in the minute before his alarm went off thought something to this effect: to exist in space, to have a body that can be aroused, senses that give proof of joy, to be in love, to be in love and alive, to love Jenny Templin and to know Jenny loved him, to know the feeling of love, to know they'd have a child soonówhy, it was all a fortunate accident, luck, a gift of chance, one sperm out of millions, one egg with the odds against it, the world already crowded, stasis always easier than growth, nothing always dominating something, so life could never be more than a minute fraction of its own potential—". . . 'Cause the Sunshine Boy got the weather for you right after . . ."
Friday, February 21, 2003
Thursday, February 20, 2003
He's dumped the dulled weapon of irony and become the Leon Trotsky of Talk: The Last Late-Night Revolutionary.
On the good nights, he was the second best thing you could do in bed — but on his best nights, he was the best.
Wednesday, February 19, 2003
Tuesday, February 18, 2003
The Future Of Humanity
I hope you see a world in which mankind has decided to be sane. But I must say in all honesty that I figure that the chances are against it.
Monday, February 17, 2003
Albert And The Animals
I say at the outset that I do not want him. This is my daughter Margaret's idea, most entirely and emphatically hers. She learned of you and your good work from Father Thomas J. McCormick, at St. Michael's Church, in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. Father McCormick recently visited your establishment, and spoke about it to the parish youth group. Margaret, her father, and I discussed the acquisition of a child in a most cursory manner, and without our consent or encouragement—indeed, without even our knowledge—she proceeded to write the required letters, falsely, over her father's forged signature. It pains me greatly to admit that my daughter is capable of such duplicity, even when the ostensible cause is worthy and charitable. And yet, it is true.
Sunday, February 16, 2003
Today Is Sunday
On Sunday I visit my father, the first time since Christmas, and he tells me my timing's bad. He's off to visit his mother in the hospital.
Saturday, February 15, 2003
Down And Out In The Magic Kingdom
I lived long enough to see the cure for death; to see the rise of the Bitchun Society, to learn ten languages; to compose three symphonies; to realize my boyhood dream of taking up residence in Disney World; to see the death of the workplace and of work. I never thought Iíd live to see the day when Keep A-Moviní Dan would decide to deadhead until the heat death of the Universe.
Friday, February 14, 2003
The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End Of Business As Usual
What if the real attraction of the Internet is not its cutting-edge bells and whistles, its jazzy interface or any of ht eadvanced technology that underlies its pipes and wires? What if, instead, the attraction is an atavistic throwback to the prehistoric human fascination with telling tales?
Thursday, February 13, 2003
An Enchanted Evening, If You Have The Right Attitude
It is one night when restaurant and diner meet halfway, when expectations are tended to as sacred rites and fellow diners are unified by the prescribed celebration, or attempted celebration, of love. Despite the underlying pressures, year after year, optimism prevails.
'I'm Home!' For Astronauts, Words Defy Translation
Even in the best of circumstances, landing a space shuttle is never routine.
Wednesday, February 12, 2003
Pass The Duct Tape
The Bush administration seems blind to the possibility that Osama might be encouraging America in this war.
The Wimps Of War
Is Mr. Bush, for all his tough talk, unwilling to admit that going to war involves some hard choices?
Tech & Science
For Astronomers, Big Bang Confirmation
The most detailed and precise map yet produced of the universe just after its birth confirms the Big Bang theory in triumphant detail and opens new chapters in the early history of the cosmos, astronomers said yesterday.
You Never Know What You Might Find In A Library Book
The Danville Public Library sometimes find more than borrowed books in its return book drops.
Tuesday, February 11, 2003
Bush's Credibility Gap On The Economy
When Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle reached back a generation and revived the term "credibility gap" for a rhetorical attack on the policies of President Bush, it was not a casual or accidental choice of words.
When Crises Make TV All Too Real
Broadcast networks may pride themselves on their ability to cover news, but few things cause more agita for executives than when actual events refuse to stay within the confines of the early evening half hour or the prime-time magazines.
TV's Whodunit Effect
Police dramas are having an unexpected impact in the real world: The public thinks every crime can be solved, and solved now — just like on television.
Forget McDonaldization: In the age of Krispy Kreme and Burritoville, fast-food chains may help preserve regional identity.
When Selah's house down in the valley was flooded Justine was there for her. She waded up to her neck to float Selah's gun metal chest to dry ground. She didn't get home until one thirty in the morning, hours late. Martin, her son -the middle child- had been waiting obediently since seven, their agreed upon departure time. Justine came in shaking from the cold. Martin lay in the doorway curled up, watching the door, napping, waiting, playing with shadows.
Monday, February 10, 2003
Sanity And Justice Slipping Away
Ashcroft rolls over legal rights to pursue a demented terror suspect.
Publishers Give Classics A Makeover
Forget about agents and auctions and multimillion-dollar contracts. The stiffest competition in the book business may be among the many publishers staking claim to Dickens, Austen, Herodotus and Plato.
Sunday, February 9, 2003
The Failure Of Politics In The Information Age
If government is smaller, and has incredibly strict boundaries it cannot cross, then delegation begins to work again. And easier to watchdog. But that feels like giving up.
Power Laws, Weblogs, And Inequality
Inequality occurs in large and unconstrained social systems for the same reasons stop-and-go traffic occurs on busy roads, not because it is anyone's goal, but because it is a reliable property that emerges from the normal functioning of the system.
The Right To Oppose
Pragmatism and the first amendment.
From Space, It's Earth That Beckons
When we walk outside at night, we are anchored by gravity to the ground. Perhaps that's why we look up. City dwellers, like myself, scan for the thin scatter of stars visible through the urban light haze, the rare bright spark of other, distant worlds.
It isn't what you'd call undiscovered, but the island and its sister islets have pockets of rare beauty — if you know where to look.
For Power Lunchers, An Entree Of Malaise
The business lunch, a deep-rooted New York institution that oils the gears of publishing, finance, advertising and other industries, is an unfailing indicator of economic stress, and lately it has grown lean as poached halibut, hold the sauce.
Today Disney, Tomorrow The Met
"I'm a populist, an opera evangelist," says Francesca Zambello, the stage director of the Metropolitan Opera's production of "Les Troyens."
Of Course Jackson's Odd — But His Genius Is What Matters
The point about Michael Jackson is not that he is odd but that the man is a genius.
Saturday, February 8, 2003
In Stalin's Footsteps
In just over a decade as independent states, the various former Soviet republics have gone their separate ways so fast and so far that it's hard to believe they were once parts of the same empire.
Destined For Failure
The problem with schools isn't the teachers or the curriculums; it's our conflicting priorities.
Tech & Science
Bad Seed Or Bad Science: The Story Of The Notorious Jukes Family
For more than a century, the Jukes clan has been presented as America's most despised family. It turns out that many family members were the victims of distorted research.
The Weblog: Tough To Beat On Breaking News
Florida Today reporters discuss the Landing Journal they used to track — and report — critical early hours of the disaster.
Rebirth For Old Office Buildings
Postwar structures could be turned into desirable housing in L.A.
House Of Cards
At Hallmark, an army of verse writers claim to express exactly how you're feeling. The proof: countless millions in sales. So why can't they get a little respect?
A Song Of Themselves
Last week a group of American poets showed once again that artists can be the worst enemies of the arts.
'This Was Bad, Real Bad.'
Last night at dinner I cried. It came so suddenly it took me by surprise.
Bi For Now
Call them hasbians. Women who came out of the closet only to end up in heterosexual relationships. Switching teams is never easyó-no matter which side you're on.
Another maudlin, media-crazed moment. But hold the scorn.
Friday, February 7, 2003
Tech & Science
More Doctors Steer Patients Away From Some Medicines
It's the new world of less-is-more medicine.
Tadpoles Take Blame For Human Hiccups
There are many similarities between hiccuping and gill ventilation in animals like tadpoles, the researchers argue.
My Mileage Is Better Than Your Mileage
An all-American idea for getting Americans to take gas consumption seriously.
Why economists are obsessed with online role-playing games.
Thursday, February 6, 2003
'Irrefutable And Undeniable'
Reasonable people take as a clear indication of underlying crime such activity as lying about that crime, suborning perjury about it in others, and intimidating scientific witnesses.
From Sarajevo To September 11
The future is contingent upon the quality of our political leaders in Washington, London, and the other capitals of the world. Globalization promises a better world, but we have to build it.
Companies Use Cash Incentives To Save On Travel Expenses
As companies continue to clamp down on their travel spending some are using cash rewards to induce employees to eke out even more savings.
Poets Pit Pens Against Swords
Perhaps the ultimate role of poets is to be hidden but ready like firefighters to come forth in emergency.
Wednesday, February 5, 2003
Will The Neighbors Approve?
What I am sure of is that if we will the ends, we better will the means. Therefore it's time for the president to level with the American people about what will be required to make this war a success. Because ultimately it is the support of the American people ó- not the U.N., not France, not Poland ó- that will determine whether we have the means to see it through.
Wrong Message To The Muslim World
Does America need a policy that fails to differentiate between friend and foe? Not only has the Justice Department designed such a policy, it has authorized the INS, arguably the most inefficient of the bureaucratic organizations, to implement it.
Why I Became A Conservative
I understood conservatism not as a political credo only, but as a lasting vision of human society, one whose truth would always be hard to perceive, harder still to communicate, and hardest of all to act upon.
TV's Longest-Running Hit
Fifty years since the first episode of the TV dinner, it's still going strong. But our tastes are frozen in time.
Turning A Kitchen Into Child's Play
I love eating too much not to want my children to share in that.
Don't Sever A High-Tech Lifeline For Musicians
The RIAA says it is doing all this to make more money for me and other artists like me, but don't be fooled.
Tuesday, February 4, 2003
George Bush, Multilateralist?
There remains a slim chance that the president could, however paradoxically, emerge as a historic figure in the United Nations' evolution toward enduring significance. But only if administration hawks make an admission of their own: that working through the United Nations could get them everything they profess to want.
"If You Want To Win An Election, Just Control The Voting Machines"
Perhaps, after a half-century of fine-tuning exit polling to such a science that it's now sometimes used to verify how clean elections are in Third World countries, it really did suddenly become inaccurate in the United States in the past six years and just won't work here anymore.
Ah, Those Principled Europeans
Pardon me if I don't take seriously all the Euro-whining about the Bush policies toward Iraq -ó for one very simple reason: It strikes me as deeply unserious.
Tech & Science
Revviving Romance With Space, Even As 'Space Age' Fades
Just as 500 years ago people crossed the ocean despite the risks, the seduction of space will continue to lure us because we see it both as our future and because it resonates with our past.
Political Points In The World's Fair Of Technology
Today artists with a political point to make merely put their work on the Internet, which is truly a world's fair of technology and on occasion compelling art.
Turning A Digital Database Into Local Radio
With a little help from digital editing, Mr. Daly can do a top-10 countdown show tailored to the phoned-in requests of radio listeners in 11 different cities without actually knowing which songs he is counting down.
Whose Comments Are They?
It is unfortunate that GOP-authored letters were published as individual works. I applaud the effort to keep it from happening again.
We've Got To Stop Eating Like This
If food companies are to grow, so must we, it seems. What would transform our diet on a national scale?
Monday, February 3, 2003
'Just Doing Their Duty'
Now we have to look for the best alternatives going forward, so that when we look back 10 or 15 years from now, we can say that in 2003, as a result of the Columbia tragedy, we examined our alternatives closely and made the right decisions.
The Best Of America
The posthumous television images of the smiling, healthy, enthusiastic crew of the space shuttle Columbia touch feelings that are usually reserved for those much closer to us. They're very difficult to watch.
Tech & Science
Temperature Rise In Last Minutes
Six minutes before the space shuttle Columbia ripped apart, temperatures on the left fuselage spiked by 60 degrees, space agency officials reported today as they detailed a sequence of ominous problems aboard the doomed spacecraft.
Pink Slip Nightmare
A Kodak employee waits for the dreaded envelope: Fat means fired, thin means spared. What will it be?
A Nation With Its Feet Firmly Off The Ground
One of the enduring aspects of American culture that other people around the globe view as remarkable is our willingness to welcome and embrace change.
Recovery Turns Grim As Remains Of Some Victims Are Found
The most taxing part of the task quickly became clear, as searchers and even small children stumbled across human remains in backyards, in hayfields and on roadsides.
Shuttle Astronuats, RIP; Space Program, Too?
Space is humanity's destiny, if it has one. We are an exploring, expansionist race. We must go on.
At A Loss For Words, But Trying
Like a science-class anatomy figure, live coverage of a catastrophe exposes the raw inner workings of television news-gathering as much as it explains the news itself.
I married an ice man. I first met him in a hotel at a ski resort, which is probably the perfect place to meet an ice man.
Saturday, February 1, 2003
Diversity distracts us from a simple but painful truth, which is that persistent black educational failure (and Hispanic failure, to a lesser extent) has made it impossible for the most selective schools to become substantially integrated using their own traditional criteria of merit.
Tech & Science
Clear Thinking On Cloning
The complex range of things we can do with embryos cries out for clear thinking.
'Soft' Adventure In Alaska
I knew from studying the Web site that the Wilderness Adventurer was a dwarf as cruise ships go — only 160 feet, with room for 72 passengers — and that was exactly what appealed to me.