Sunday, November 30, 2003
The Productivity Paradox
We aren't working smarter, we're working harder.
Tech & Science
Does Race Exist?
If races are defined as genetically discrete groups, no. But researchers can use some genetic information to group individuals into clusters with medical relevance.
Though science and anthropology have provided significant support for the proposition that color perception is basically identical across societies, recent studies have found evidence that we also see our rainbows through cultural lenses.
Shame Of The City: Homeless Island
The live — and die — on a traffic island in the middle of a busy downtown street, surviving by panhandling drivers or turning tricks.
Another Cold One
For two centuries, the Old Farmer's Almanac has been offering long-range weather predictions. What is it saying about this winter in Washington? Guess. But before you break out the electric blanket, you might want to consider: Are its forecasting methods cloudy or clear?
Building A Better Bra Shop
A lingerie giant enlists a design firm to figure out a way to make buying bras less of a nightmare.
The Beast Of Queens
If it's just about getting to the airport, do looks matter?
Saturday, November 29, 2003
We Need To Get The Queen Bees
"When America and Europe are divided, when Japan is hesitant," Lee cautions, "the extremists are emboldened."
A Change In The Weather
In a rash of recent books, the post-boomer generation reflects on the underground radicals of the 60's and 70's.
Illness: Breaking Hollywood's One Remaining Taboo
Hollywood is a town whee everybody knows everybody else's business, from who's having an affair (and with whom), to where to go for the best Botox, to who has the juice to get your kid into the most elite private school. But there is one last taboo in Hollywood: being sick.
After The Yankees Go Home, A Neighborhood Shows A New Character
Famous places have secret lives. Like famous people, they reveal their private faces only when the lights go out and when the crowds have gone away.
Friday, November 28, 2003
Some Understand Covert Journey; Others Fear Bad Precedent
Although the White House lied to much of the press to conceal President Bush's Thanksgiving visit to Baghdad, many journalists and analysts yesterday were willing to give the administration a pass.
Be Thankful.. You're Not American
So for once, let me turn the tables and offer six reasons why the rest of the world can be thankful it is not American.
An Imperial America? But It Lacks Political Clout
An empire with no political cement to hold it together is a sheet of loose sand. The consuls and proconsuls on the Potomac may have donned the imperial purple prematurely.
Bush Makes Surprise Thanksgiving Visit To Iraq
The trip was an extraordinary gesture, with scant precedent, and was seen as an effort by Mr. Bush to show the importance he attaches to the embattled United States-led effort to pacify and democratize Iraq.
Tech & Science
Borrowed Time: Interview With Michio Kaku
A theoretical physicist contemplates the plausibility of time travel.
Red, White And Creepy? Could Be Santa
Now that Macy's has assured everyone this Thanksgiving that Santa Claus is a straight guy with no eye for same-sex marriage, it may be time to face another issue squarely.
Thursday, November 27, 2003
A Woman's Work? Don't Tell That To This Kindergarten Teacher
Mr. Winters has been teaching kindergarten here for 15 years, which makes him an anomaly. Men, for the most part, do not teach kindergarten — or first grade through third grade, for that matter.
On Acknowledgments, The Inquisition Was Easier
Authors have been struggling with acknwoledgments for at least 500 years.
Is Miss Universe Miss World's Boss?
Which beauty queen reigns supreme and where Miss America fits in.
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
While Thomas Jefferson never freed his slaves, George Washington did, despite his wife's wishes. Historians are finally coming to terms with America's oldest wound.
How To Set The Table, And Why: The Short Course
Even if you do not own silver flatware for 12 or will wind up borrowing from a neighbor or a parent, what does matter when the plates, flatware, glasses and napkins finally do go on the table, is that they should not be placed helter-skelter but should follow certain conventions.
The Man Who Clears Kermit The Frog For Takeoff
One Thursday a year, for three crisp hours that end at noon, Brett Zweiback is arguably among the five or six most influential people on the planet.
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
US Is Making Enemies In All The Wrong Places
The growing complaints about US diplomacy these days seem more serious than sophomoric.
Tech & Science
Suzhou: City Of Canals, Semiconductors And Hidden Radios
Why is the garden city of China a hotbed of amateur radio direction finders?
At Ground Zero, A Stream Of Commuters And Tears
Yesterday, on a morning that proved at once painful and uplifting, downtown workers streamed into the heart of the former World Trade Center site for its first rush hour since the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001.
A Scholar Who Gives 'Harry' The Evil Eye
Children read for the same reasons adults do: to escape. Why is it that some adults want to drag them back to their own world of fears and discord?
Monday, November 24, 2003
Unlike JFK's War, Bush Fights For Iraqi Liberty
It's one thing to dislike Bush, it's one thing to hate America. But it's quite another to hate America so much you reflexively take the side of any genocidal psycho who comes along.
What was going on in the apartment upstairs?
Seeing The Funny Side Of Islamic Law, And Not Seeing It
A popular television series has touched off both sustained outrage and peals of laughter across Saudi Arabia.
Pop Goes The Cello
This instrument may be a visitor from a higher realm, but lately it's showing up everywhere, as popular musicians of all types call it into play.
Sunday, November 23, 2003
In many poor countries, markets concentrate wealth in the hands of prosperous ethnic minorities. In these places, democracy can be an engine of vengeance.
Tech & Science
The Coolest Experiment Ever
Was Einstein right about general relativity? We'll soon find out.
Nanotechnology — Small Things For Big Changes
The Next Big Thing is very small. Exactly one-billionth of a Thing.
It's Just A Game, But Hollywood Is Paying Attention
A million people have traded on the Hollywood Stock Exchange, an online game where players can register at no cost to predict box office receipts for films.
The Gory Details
What does it mean that today's hit television crime dramas dwell not on whodunit but on how it was done?
When the writer was a child, her mother defied the calendar, rescheduling holidays for the convenience of the family.
A Tempest And A Teapot On A Whirlwind Trip
Typhoon alerts in Hong Kong aren't unusual. There was no cause for alarm — until the cabs stopped running.
Love In The Time Of No Time
Internet romance begins outside any real-life context, but it quickly creates a context all its own — full of flirting, sex, jealousy, love and rejection. In the world of online coupling, your digital dating self never sleeps.
Saturday, November 22, 2003
The Bubble Of American Supremacy
The heedless assertion of American power in the world resembles a financial bubble — and the moment of truth may be here.
Friday, November 21, 2003
Cartoon Raises A Stink
Did Johnny Hart — the beloved creator of "B.C." and one of the most widely read cartoonists on Earth — sneak a vulgar defamation of Islam into the comics pages last week?
The Book Tide Is Running, For Readers And Browsers
From nuclear images to literary anthologies to fashion hype, there are gift books for every sensibility this holiday season.
An Orchard In A Bottle
When the cooking's done and guests are fed, raise a glass to the essence of autumn.
Down-Home Cookin' Takes Flight
Vickie Kloeris knows how to prepare a Thanksgiving turkey that's out of this world. As manager of NASA's Space Food Systems Laboratory, she and her staff spend their days developing, testing and packaging meals for astronauts. The goal: variety, nutrition and flavor. No more dry meal cubes, especially during the holidays.
Thursday, November 20, 2003
People are trying to compute.
The Penguin Is Mightier Than The Sword
"Bloom County" cartoonist Berkeley Breathed talks about bringing Opus back to the nation's comics page to rip Garfield (and maybe George Bush) a new one.
A PC Salesman Who Pushes The Right Buttons
A computer superstore can be like a Hieronymus Bosch tableau, with infernal aisles of inscrutable merchandise and demons in the form of salespeople on commission. And the sales staff can be most tormenting, it seems, during the holidays: in a store crowded with shoppers hunting for big-ticket gifts, a good salesperson can be hard to find, and given to abandoning one shopper in favor of a more lucrative sale across the aisle. But then there are salesmen like Mr. Garcia.
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Mourning In America
While the president writes letters to the families of soldiers who have been killed and meets privately with them at military bases, he has not attended an open memorial or a military service. That's a mistake.
First, We Don't Say 'Yuck' ...
And other hard lessons for a civilized meal with grown-ups.
"If We Haven't Found Anyone Else By 40, Let's Get Hitched!"
Are "marriage pacts" a mature, open-eyed approach to love — or the ultimate in cowardly bet-hedging?
Why It's Better To Look, Listen — And Think For Yourself
Trying to make art accessible makes it much less exciting.
A new generation of scholars explores the philosophy and politics of the founder of existentialism.
To The Table, And Be Slow About It
It's time to shift gears and remember this day is about celebration, not the mad rush.
The Second Coming Of Philip K. Dick
The inside-out story of how a hyper-paranoid, pulp-fiction hack conquered the movie world 20 years after his death.
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
Tech & Science
Hotel Rooms And High-Technology Befuddlement
In the rush to provide ever-more innovations, hotels simply have not caught up yet to the need for ease of use.
They Blinded Me With Pseudo Science
The Bush administration is jettisoning real scientists in favor of yes-men.
A Moth, A Butterfly, An Elegant Merger Of Science And Art
There was a world of hidden dimensions in these structures, a treasury of abstract art to be explored, pointillist in design, elegant in coloration, and infinitely pleasing.
The 'Alien' Series, Stretched To The Nines
With DVD producing revenues in the billions, studios are more willing to spend ever larger amounts on extended films and supplemental materials.
The Grace Period Has Ended
For a while we tried to be nicer to one another. Now we need to learn our manners all over again.
The cell phone has changed our sense of place more than faxes, computers, and e-mail.
A Maverick Starts A Museum Chain
Marc Restellini, an art curator with the soul of an entrepreneur, looks to draw crowds to popular art shows all over the world by running his own museums.
Name A Proxy Early To Prepare For The Unexpected
Two years ago, before entering the hospital for elective surgery, I appointed my husband as my health care proxy in case something happened to impair my ability to make decisions about further treatment.
Monday, November 17, 2003
"Welcome To Vietnam, Mr. President"
As White House denials grow insistent, some of the sharpest thinkers of the Vietnam generation see stark parallels with the war in Iraq.
An Open Message For Bill Clinton: Your Neighbors In Harlem Miss You Like Crazy
Consider this an open letter from the citizens of 125th Street to former President Bill Clinton. Its message is simple: Mr. Clinton, please come home.
Take This McJob
McDonald's complaint can only keep the debate sizzling and the MacJobs tally rising. That's the kind of corporate strategy you'd expect from the clown, not the CEO.
Sunday, November 16, 2003
Do You Know Where Your Children Are?
Most likely, they're watching PG-13 movies. Those would be the ones with the foul language, oral-sex references and torture scenes.
A Behind-The-Screens Look At Fleeting Airfare Availability
Clicking on a bargain option doesn't mean you'll get it. Sometimes there's hidden competition at play.
Yes, It's A Mall, But A Far Cry From The Food Court
Some New Yorkers will go almost anywhere for a good meal. In a few months, however, the city's culinary adventurers will face what may be their steepest test yet.
Serious Dance In Los Angeles. No, Seriously.
October represented something of a turnaround for Los Angeles, a city with a reputation for failing to support dance.
Inside the cult of speed spinners at the Rubik's Cube world championships.
Saturday, November 15, 2003
No Exceptions For Democracy In China
And so the "China exception" to the Bush administration's democracy agenda was born.
Add 'Blog' To The Campaign Lexicon
Blogs, those Web sites where thousands have posted their musings, rants and commentaries, have gone presidential.
No Wiggle Room In A Window War
A new state code that requires a minimum opening of 5.7 square feet for bedroom windows is colliding with Amish tradition, which prescribes a double-hung window of five square feet.
You Could Already Be A Winner
Why do the choices for the National Book Awards finalists always strike so many observers as eccentric?
The Physics Of... Wrinkles: Lines Of Least Resistance
A general theory of wrinkling puts your face in touch with the universe.
The Wal-Mart You Don't Know
The giant retailer's low prices often come with a high cost. Wal-Mart's relentless pressure can crush the companies it does business with and force them to send jobs overseas. Are we shopping our way straight to the unemployment line?
Ann Cornelisen, 77, Writer On Improverished Southern Italy, Dies
Ann Cornelisen, an American expatriate writer who brought spry and steely language to her evocative books about the poverty-stricken South of Italy, died on Wednesday at her home in Rome, Ga.
Friday, November 14, 2003
How Bush Betrayed Blair
The British P.M. thought he had a deal: He'd support the war and Bush would stand up to Ariel Sharon. But administration neoconservatives, led by Elliott Abrams, killed the deal.
Bringing Up Daddy: Dave Delivers The Poop On His New Life
The Letterman reality has changed significantly over the years, as the 56-year-old talk-show host has opened the file on his private life.
Twilight Zone For ZIP Code At Ground Zero
An inevitable question is what does the United States Postal Service intend to do with this ZIP code. Preserve it for the new buildings that will eventually rise? Or retire it, much as a ball club does with a great player's number?
A Life Stranger Than Fiction
First Amy Tan's grandmother committed suicide, then her mother tried to murder her.
Richard Pearson Dies; Post Obituary Editor Was Instant Biographer
Richard G. Pearson, 54, who crafted graceful obituaries for Cary Grant, George C. Wallace, Roy Rogers, Andy Warhol and thousands of other well-known and virtually unknown people, died of pancreatic cancer Nov. 11 at Virginia Hospital Center-Arlington.
US Babies Get Global Brand Names
Children have been named after big brands as diverse as beauty company L'Oreal, car firm Chevrolet and designer clothes company Armani.
Thursday, November 13, 2003
Tech & Science
It's Wake-Up Time
Kiss your pillow good-bye. A new breed of drugs promises to do for drowsiness what Prozac did for depression.
Beats Walking? At 3.4 MPH, Not This Bus
If you ride the M23 bus, chances are you are not in a hurry.
Say Farewell To The Last Of The Auteurs
When CBS canceled "The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H.," something strange happened. It very quietly signaled the end of the powerhouse writer- producer on television. It was the day the auteur died.
Groceries Mystery Solved
"I discovered a trunk full of groceries... I knew one thing was certain. These were not my groceries."
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
Perhaps in the end we really do have the immigration policy we deserve.
How George Bush Will Ban Abortion
Republicans and the religious right are working to outlaw abortion — one small step at a time.
You Can Top This
Don't let the pizzerias fool you. There's no mystery to making a great pizza.
BYOB: It Can Spell Trouble
How many times have you brought wine to a restaurant that didn't have a liquor license? Well, it's against the law.
Work Out Or Play The Slots, All Between Flights
Most business travelers loathe airline delays. Not Peter Shankman, if the airport is McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.
Starbucks At The Airport? How About Lone Star Bucks?
The Starbucks folks could implement several design changes to make a coffee shop out at the Austin airport appear local.
TV Guide's Fresh Face
So what gives here? Who is TV Guide to hike its retail price?
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
Tech & Science
Where Is The Real Matrix?
Neural implant devices are now a reality. But misguided federal policies are keeping them from the people who need them.
Does Science Matter?
There are new troubles in the peculiar form of paradise that science has created, as well as new questions about whether it has the popular support to meet the future challenges of disease, pollution, security, energy, education, food, water and urban sprawl.
What Is Gravity, Really?
Gravity is our oldest and most familiar enemy, the force we feel in our bones, the force that will eventually bury us, sagging our organs and pulling us down, but for all its intimacy, it is a mystery. What really is the law?
The Things They Wrote
Observation this year of Veterans Day comes as about 130,000 troops — 102,000 active military and 28,000 reserve — remain on duty in Iraq. As of yesterday, according to the Pentagon, 394 have died in the war. Below are excerpts from among the final letters home of some soldiers who died there.
The Birth Of Science Times: A Surprise, But No Accident
Twenty-five years ago, editors of The New York Times had a big problem: what to do about Tuesdays?
Unplugging The Matrix
Why the sci-fi franchise went south.
Monday, November 10, 2003
The Age Of Liberty
Invest a half-hour in reading this moving exposition of the noble goal of American foreign policy. And note the subtlety in Bush's concluding reference to the deity in underscoring our opportunity in this age of liberty.
Tech & Science
Striking Notes Of Progress On The World's Tiniest Guitar
Cornell University physicists reported last week that they had used a laser beam to pluck the strings of an invisibly tiny silicon guitar just 10 millionths of a meter long.
But Seriously, Folks
Comedian Steve Martin's new novel is no joke.
A Job With Plenty Of Downtime
For quarterbacks, getting sacked is all in a day's work.
Newspaper War, Waged A Character At A Time
Although some of the city's 300 ethnic newspapers may have a languid, less-than-fresh feel, the Chinese press is aggressive. And the competition is about to get more cutthroat.
Songs Of Ourselves
New research suggests that we like music that sounds just like us.
Thumbs Down, Thumbs Up: Prizing A Personal Voice Even If It Hurts
Better a personal voice than an earnest student of convention. And if you make some people mad, and you will, all the better.
Two rafts were anchored offshore like twin islands. They were the perfect distance to swim to from the beach — exactly fifty strokes out to one of them, then thirty strokes from one to the other. About fourteen feet square, each raft had a metal ladder, and a carpet of artificial grass covering its surface. The water, ten or twelve feet deep at this point, was so transparent you could follow the chains attached to the rafts all the way down to the concrete anchors at the bottom. The swimming area was enclosed by a coral reef, and there were hardly any waves, so the rafts barely bobbed in the water. They seemed resigned to being anchored in that spot with the intense sun beating down on them day after day.
Sunday, November 9, 2003
At Last, L.A. Puts Down Its Salad Fork
Part of the reason we're seeing more adventurous menus is because we're finally willing to try something different.
Of Mice And Men
Sense for sense and not word for word, negotiation is the key to good translation.
Which is scarier for a sheltered fifth-grader: a ravenous T-rex or his classmates' derision?
She can't speak, read or write. But Ashley Meissner is sitting in a regular classroom with regular third-graders. Should other severely disabled children be there, too?
Tanking ratings, kudos-fest fatigue, statue-buying campaigns — what's the academy to do? The plan to protect the franchise.
See Me, Shoot Me, Ask Me, Love Me
What a film festival means to a star with a movie to sell.
The Studio-Indie, Pop-Prestige, Art-Commerce King
Why Steven Spielberg really is the greatest living American director.
Drawn To Narrative
For Tim Burton, moviemaking has always been about the visuals, but in making a film about a dying father he has discovered the allure of storytelling.
Saturday, November 8, 2003
America's New Empire For Liberty
For America, September 11 was a new Great Awakening. It realized, for the first time, that it was itself a globalized entity.
The Food Network, perhaps more than any media, has changed the way Americans have come to regard chefs, the food industry and the possibility of becoming good cooks themselve.
Friday, November 7, 2003
Another 10,000 Party For The Dow?
The venerable index is bound to cross that psychological line again soon. It may not be as cathartic an event as the last time, though.
In The Land Of The Free, Who Wears The Skirts?
A rich tapestry of a show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art seeks to redefine the skirt and promote its place in the wardrobe of everyday.
Thursday, November 6, 2003
Hollywood Stumbles At Doorstep Of Politics
Ronald Reagan was a genius. That a B actor could become the leader of a vast conservative revolution is all the more remarkable now that CBS has reminded us just how untutored Hollywood people can be when they dabble in politics.
What does the New York Times redesign say about its self-image?
Once Just A Cupcake, These Days A Swell
In New York, cupcakes are not lopsided school-bake-sale affairs. They are art, they are fashion, they are a tourist attraction and they can be big business.
To Infinity And Beyond
Doing mathematics can often feel like the creative process of a theatre improvisation.
Unreason's Seductive Charms
Monsters arise from many sources, and not just when reason is slumbering and our irrational, unconscious selves have free play.
Wednesday, November 5, 2003
They Ban Textbooks, Don't They?
Texas school officials rejected a widely used environmental textbook, claiming it was filled with errors. The author says they're censoring him because they didn't like his green views — and he's suing.
Tuesday, November 4, 2003
Bush and Co.'s Iraq adventure grows bloodier by the day — thanks to the delusional hawks who planned only for a victory parade.
A powerful faction of religious and political conservatives is waging a latter-day counterreformation, battling widespread efforts to liberalize the American Catholic Church. And it has the clout and the connections to succeed.
Tech & Science
As Uses Grow, Tiny Materials Safety Is Hard To Pin Down
When researchers fashion nanomaterials so small that their dimensions can be measured in molecules, the unusual and potentially valuable characteristics of those materials tend to show up immediately. But as businesses race to exploit those benefits, investors and policy makers are finding that pinpointing the potential environmental and health impacts of nanotechnology could take years.
Why Are Kenyans Fast Runners?
There are a few popular theories, which break along nature-versus-nurture lines.
Monday, November 3, 2003
Congress To Big Business: Oooooh, Hurt Me Again!
No matter how badly corporate America screws the nation, politicians keep begging for more.
Lights, Cameras, Action?
It's the Arnold show now, but some say hard reality will kick in soon.
So Much For 'The Front Page'
The likes of a Glass and a Blair are true embarrassments to their peers. But the larger culture in which they thrived has done more longterm damage to the press than these individual transgressors, however notorious.
After The Flood
The water has risen, 700,000 people have been relocated, and the Three Gorges dam is finally producing electricity. So is it the disaster everyone predicted?
I See Naked People
Megastars baring all, 'Girls Gone Wild,' nudists next door. Where is America's fascination with nudity taking us?
The Reluctant Retiree
Being Walter Cronkite is still a full-time job.
Please Touch The Art
Wouldn't it be nice if you could reach your hand into a museum display case, pluck out the rare book or manuscript inside, hold it and turn the pages? Recently, some museums have developed devices that allow you to do just that — virtually.
The Case Of The Incredible Shrinking Blockbuster
Less than three years after its incomparably auspicious opening, "The Producers," in the eyes of many on Broadway, has become an underachiever.
Sunday, November 2, 2003
Blueprint For A Mess
Historically, it is rare that a warm welcome is extended to an occupying military force for very long, unless, that is, the postwar goes very smoothly. And in Iraq, the postwar occupation has not gone smoothly.
The obsession with homework on the part of American elites says as much about class as it does about the classroom.