Friday, October 31, 2003
A Week Of Fire
Pretending there isn't a problem gave us 9/11 and California fires.
Why History Has No End
Ultimately, America seeks neither a hostile nor a subservient Europe, but one of confident democratic allies like the U.K.: allies that provide us not only with military partnership but trustworthy guidance too.
No Fiddling Around
Most world leaders don't get the protection Nicolo Paganini's violin does.
'Brain Itch' Keeps Songs In The Head
Research in the US has found that songs get stuck in our heads because they create a "brain itch" that can only be scratched by repeating the tune over and over.
Thursday, October 30, 2003
VIP Treatment Often Reserved For Those Willing To Pay More
Some airlines and hotels are penalizing Internet bargain hunters while rewarding their 'best' customers.
The Art Of Craving?
It's a boneless, skinless, bite-size world, a world of tenders, cutlets, nuggets and morsels, where speed and convenience hold sway.
The Economics Of Suicide
Why trying to kill yourself may be a smart business decision.
Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Tech & Science
The Mystery Of The Missing Links
It is becoming fashionable to question Darwinism, but few people understand either the arguments for evolution or the arguments against it.
Twilight Of The Dorks?
Geeks and nerds produced the art and science that define the modern age. But now that everybody's climbing on the dork bandwagon, where's the rage and resentment that fueled their creativity going to come from?
In The Temples Of Supersizing, Eating Light Draws Converts
In the world of fast-food restaurants, long home to extra-value meals crowded with double cheeseburgers with fries, washed down with a 20-ounce soda, strange new words are emanating from the loudspeakers in the drive-through lanes.
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Tech & Science
Zillions Of Universes? Or Did Ours Get Lucky?
According to a controversial notion known as the anthropic principle, certain otherwise baffling features of the universe can only be understood by including ourselves in the equation. The universe must be suitable for life, otherwise we would not be here to wonder about it.
The Limited Circle Is Pure
Franz Kafka versus the novel.
The comedy of Zucker, Abrahams, and Zucker.
Have You Seen The Stolen Girl?
Jesse James, while hiding from the law in Nashville in 1875, lived for a time at the address where Mrs. Virgil Wilson's house now stood. For years, Mrs. Wilson delighted in telling trick-or-treaters about the outlaw, but then one Halloween she noticed that the trick-or-treaters did not seem to know — or care — who Jesse James was. They also wore costumes that she didn't recognize and that had to be explained to her — mass murderers, dead stock-car racers, characters from movies she'd never heard of, teen-age singers seemingly remarkable only for their sluttiness — and she realized that she had somehow become the crazy old lady whose tedious stories you had to endure in order to get the disappointing candy that such crazy old ladies invariably offered.
Monday, October 27, 2003
How Much For That Professor?
While acquiring top-rung professors may benefit a university's academic standing, it isn't necessarily good for its students' education.
Tech & Science
String Theory: Trying To Visualize Many, Many Dimensions Of Weirdness
"The Elegant Universe," starring the Columbia University physicist Brian Greene, is billed as the biggest project "Nova" has ever done.
International Authors Find Refuge In The U.S.
Not only does the place offer freedom to write, but it also offers an abundance of publishers, lots of creative writing programs where authors can find a day job, and a large literary marketplace.
Although you may find this hard to believe, I was once a little girl, and terribly discontent. My bones ached with it, my desires pointing like fingers in all directions. For instance, the year I visited the slaughterhouse, I longed for another name. Mother and Father had called me for a flower, Rose, the flower of their youth. But I knew enough about fairy tales to know that a Rose is always dark like blood drawn from hands torn by thorns. I wanted to be a Lily — a Lily fair as snow, fair like you and the other women I first thought of as beautiful.
Sunday, October 26, 2003
An Economy Of Aesthetics
Unbounded, imaginative desiring can be a problem for democratic governance. However, it certainly is both a cause and a consequence of a democratic culture.
Saturday, October 25, 2003
The Writing Life
Diane Middlebrook, the biographer of Anne Sexton, Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, has advice for her colleagues: Dream on.
The Opt-Out Revolution
Many high-powered women today don't ever hit the glass ceiling, choosing to leave the workplace for motherhood. Is this the failure of one movement or the beginning of another?
The Power Of 1
About one-fourth of Americans now live alone. As their numbers grow, these singles are becoming a significant cultural and economic force.
Friday, October 24, 2003
Till Death Do Us Part
Why spouses get the final say in coma cases.
It's Cheerio To Concorde, And To Some, 'Good Riddance'
It didn't go out with a bang exactly, at least not until it got out over the Atlantic. But the supersonic Concorde did cause a stir of mixed emotions before its last flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport to London at 7:38 this morning.
Orgasmatron Puts Tech In Sex
A new device purportedly stimulates a woman to a pre-orgasmic state with a pulsating current. Critics are scoffing, but a few happy customers swear it gets the job done.
Thursday, October 23, 2003
The Restaurants That Time Forgot
The restaurants exist, and in some cases thrive, for no apparent reason.
To Stars, Writing Books Looks Like Child's Play
A handful of celebrities, like John Lithgow and Jamie Lee Curtis, actually have a gift for writing for children: they know how to tell a story and how to tell it with words and pictures and whimsical wit. For others, children's books are just another way to merchandise themselves, another vanity production.
Orwell On Writing
In our time, we desperately need Orwell's clear language, his commitment to aesthetic as well as moral responsibility.
Wednesday, October 22, 2003
Tech & Science
A 7-Game World Series Is Unusally Common
No one has a good explanation of why the World Series would reach seven games that often. The obvious difference between baseball and coin flipping — that the two teams are not evenly matched — would argue for fewer seven-game series, not more.
Inside The New SAT
America's college gatekeeper is changing dramatically. Get ready for advanced algebra, an essay — and, yes, the return of grammar. An exclusive look at the new exam — and how it may hurt some students' scores.
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
Listening To Mahathir
And to understand why he made those remarks is to realize how badly things are going for U.S. foreign policy.
How conflicts between the Bush Administration and the intelligence community marred the reporting on Iraq's weapons.
Tech & Science
Ethics 101: A Course About The Pitfalls
With increasing corporate funding, there are questions of who owns data and what constitutes a conflict of interest. With data sharing on the Internet, there are questions of what is being revealed, and to whom, prior to publication. With larger and larger collaborations, there are questions of who is an author.
Studios Killing (But Carefully) For An R Rating
These days the reason most filmmakers depend on an R, no matter how violent, is that NC-17 movies are severely limited in how they can be marketed.
Students Find $100 Textbooks Cost $50, Purchased Overseas
Just like prescription drugs, textbooks cost far less overseas than they do in the United States. But thanks to the Internet...
The Plot Thickens
Julian Barnes says his new book, a series of essays on the famously fastidious author's experiences as an 'amateur pedantic cook,' isn't so removed from fiction.
Monday, October 20, 2003
Tech & Science
Of Mice And Men
Time to think about the brave new world we're rushing into.
Many in the first wave of nine-to-five commuters returning to Staten Island last Wednesday learned of the day's calamity only when they'd reached the waterfront.
Same-Sex Family Values
Toby and Jean Adams moved to Auburn, Calif., to raise their daughter in a close-knit community with good schools. The reaction of their neighbors and fellow churchgoers — from anger to acceptance to confusion — mirrors Middle America's evolving attitudes toward gays and gay marriage.
The Heroic Male Disappears From CanLit
Once upon a time, in Canadian literature, there were some forceful male characters in fiction.
First Person Singular: Classical Music
The great unspoken truth about classical music is that despite its overwhelmingly white audience it receives a lion's share of government funding.
A man finds happiness so fleetingly, like the petals melting off a prairie rose. Even as you touch the feeling, it dries up, leaving only the dust of the emotion, a powder of hope. That is how it happened with me. No sooner had Margaret and I found happiness together in our old age than our joy was disrupted. Our peace was shattered. Our love was challenged. My life's enemy, Shesheeb, returned to the reservation and set up his house down the road.
It's A Taikonaut, It's A Pear, It's... Copyright
The name of Chinese taikonaut Yang Liwei has been copyrighted so that no one can use it without the approval of the China National Space Administration (CNSA).
Sunday, October 19, 2003
Writers' Web Sites Turn 'The End' Into A Beginning
Some of our best-selling scribes have their very own Web sites that answer a lot of our questions! Finally we can get to know these authors up-close and personal.
Saturday, October 18, 2003
Friday, October 17, 2003
Tech & Science
Extreme Maths: The Art Of The Infinite
The true mysteries of mathematics lie at the limits of our thinking. Reach beyond what you think is possible and you start to explore the wonders of maths at the extremes.
These Are Definitely Not Scully's Breasts
Inside one man's crusade to save Gillian Anderson and the rest of the world from the plague of fake celebrity porn.
The Brand Called Vermont
How the Green Mountain state cornered the market on purity.
Thursday, October 16, 2003
Not Getting The Truth
Rank has its privileges — and one of them is to turn black into white.
It's A Grim Picture For Museum Lovers As Entry Fees Climb
Since 9/11, private and government funding has fallen. Visitors are often paying more to fill in the money gap.
Alix Olson: Word Warrior
Concerned Women for America, a conservative women's group, named Alix Olson as one of the ten most dangerous women in this country.
Drugs And Deceit Lead To Writing As Redemption
Accepting the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday, DBC Pierre's revelations about his own history all but overshadowed the evening's literary discussions.
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
The fair and balanced folks at Fox, a survey concludes, were "the news source whose viewers had the most misperceptions."
The Secondhand Smoking Gun
If New York — as well as other cities and municipalities — is ever tempted to rescind its smoking ban, it should look at the goings-on in Helena, Mont.
Tech & Science
Can Sonar Kill Whales?
he U.S. Navy has agreed to limit the use of its latest sonar system, bowing to environmentalist concerns that the technology causes whales to beach themselves. How might underwater sound waves drive cetaceans ashore?
I worked with Trouble till she knew who was boss. It took a lot of work. A lot of time and a lot of work.
Tuesday, October 14, 2003
The Story Behind The Story
How The Times decided to publish the accounts of 16 women who said they had been sexually mistreated and humiliated by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Fly Me To The Moon
What is needed is a new goal, one that is not only achievable but that will provide the experience needed if mankind eventually decides to go farther into space: a permanent human presence on the moon.
Tech & Science
Can Rain Be Bought? Experts Seed Clouds And Seek Answers
Denver's water department has invested more than $1 million in cloud seeding in the last two years. Has it paid off? Possibly.
A Brief History Of Infinity — Galileo's Moment
The paradoxical twists and turns of infinity have baffled many great thinkers. The first person to truly come to grips with the concept was the remarkable Galileo Galilei.
Confirming Miracles Is Art And Science
To judge the works of candidates for sainthood, doctors are enlisted to recognize the unexplainable.
Monday, October 13, 2003
Tech & Science
Tongue-Tied By Physics: The Ineffable Lightness Of Being
New words are added to the language of science all the time. But what is needed is something like new grammars and new syntaxes.
In Pioneering Duke University Study, Monkey Think, Robot Do
Monkeys that can move a robot arm with thoughts alone have brought the merger of mind and machine one step closer.
Sunday, October 12, 2003
"No means no" is still a pretty good rule.
Lies, Damn Lies, And Focus Groups
Why don't consumers tell the truth about what they want?
Saturday, October 11, 2003
Dominance And Its Dilemmas
The Bush administration's imperial grand strategy.
Friday, October 10, 2003
The Blogosphere And Political Process
It's about reshaping American politics to give people like me and you a more direct role in how we are governed.
Thursday, October 9, 2003
The networks speak out of both sides of their mouths.
The Moviegoing Vote
Millions chose Arnold Schwarzenegger in the hopes of finding a happy ending for California's woes. But I won't be sleeping any better.
An Unlikely New Source Of Writing Talent: Blogs
It's a classic dream-come-true: A young would-be writer from a small town in Alabama comes to New York City, and within months of penning her first words for a hot new publication, she's snatched up by a big-time magazine. But there's a high-tech twist to this story.
Wednesday, October 8, 2003
California Partisan Split Becomes A Great Divide
Now that the recall is happening, the state of California is deeply conflicted about whether it represents democracy at its best or worst.
The Writer Who Began With A Hyphen
Jhumpa Lahiri, between two cultures.
Sushi Rice, California's New Gold Rush
From a hardscrabble start-up bolstered by government subsidies in the 1930's, it has become a $500 million industry that is second only to Thailand in exports of premium rice.
A Defining Moment
Updating the dictionary calls for a way with words.
The Changing Tune Of The TV Theme Song
A great television theme song is more than just a jingle: it's a chunk of happy shrapnel lodged in the brain, creating nostalgia for even the worst TV series.
Tuesday, October 7, 2003
Wanted: A Legible Voting Ballot
Why it's time to redesign the ballot design process.
Lumps Of Labor
Partisan politics aside, the growing lumpishness of American thinking about jobs is dangerous, in two ways.
A Slave To Health Insurance
More older women must work for money and benefits.
50 reasons not to vote for Arnie for governor.
Esquire Celebrates Canada
A once-edgy magazine turns 70—and looks its age.
How Do You Train A Tiger?
No matter how docile a tiger becomes, you can never train away its predatory responses.
The fatal grandeur of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Out Of The Matrix
How the late philosopher Donald Davidson showed that reality can't be an illusion.
Monday, October 6, 2003
For The News Leak, A Long If Not Honorable History
In a news-obsessed city in which information is power, leaks are a time-honored way for a presidential administration to discredit its critics.
Faster, Pussy Wagon! Kill! Kill!
Back from the dead with the new Kill Bill, Quentin Tarantino exposes the dick drive, movie ultraiolence, and his foot fetish.
Water, Water Everywhere But Not A Drop Free
"What kind of water would you like — flat or sparkling?" And regardless of your response, a delicate pas de deux then ensures.
Sunday, October 5, 2003
How The West Was Lost
The Western didn't just help build Hollywood; it built our idea of America, too.
Saturday, October 4, 2003
On The Edge Of The Neo-70's
There was a time when New York was not about making money but was about making do and making art. That time is back, sort of.
Are More People Cheating?
It is nearly impossible to turn on television or pick up a newspaper or magazine without hearing someone lament the current decline in morals. But is there any hard evidence that more people are more dishonest now than in the past?
Friday, October 3, 2003
Oh, No: It's A Girl!
Do daughters cause divorce?
When 'Welcome' Doesn't Include Junior
No one tracks just how many hotels have added "no children" policies in recent years. But the practice has become so common that the latest edition of the Zagat Survey of hotels, spas and resorts in the United States has a new category, "Children Not Recommended," with more than a dozen listings.
Thursday, October 2, 2003
Why no one really cares about prison rape.
What Watergate reveals about today's Washington press corps.
Tech & Science
Remember The Six Billion
For millennia we have raged against the dying of the light. Can science save us from that good night?
Wednesday, October 1, 2003
Welcome, Old Friend: Rediscovering Manhattan's Chinatown
It's not just the restaurants, although that's a pretty good place to start, but fish shops, meat markets, greengrocers and purveyors of things you never knew you wanted, like dried licorice plums, which doubtless have some health benefit but to me just smell good.
Lost The Plot
Despite concessions by ministers, the extent of primary testing remains deeply controversial.