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The other things in life

Friday, December 31, 2004


Our Planet, And Our Duty

This catastrophe would at least have a silver lining if it moved the people of the United States and other nations toward a wiser, more genuinely cooperative international posture.

Tech & Science

Gauging Disaster: How Scientists And Victims Watched Helplessly

"Part of me said I wish it had occured in the Pacific, because we could have saved an awful lot of people."

Miraculous Visions

A century after Einstein's miracle year, most people still do not understand exactly what it was he did. Here, we attempt to elucidate.


Abridge This!

Audioshave: What sort of book could be cut in half without losing a certain something?

Thursday, December 30, 2004


A Brief History Of Time Balls

New York City's annual ball drop is probably the greatest single moment of public timekeeping in the world. Yet the Times Square ball is not the world's most important time ball — nor was it the first.

New York Is So Crowded, Everybody's Deserted It

It should come as no big shock, of course, that New York often takes on a different personality during certain holidays. But this year, it seems, New York has become even more a best-of-times, worst-of-times kind of place, depending on geography and other factors.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004


Euro Trash

Even drug dealers are giving up on the dollar.

Tech & Science

Sounding The Alarm On A Tsunami Is Complex And Expensive

Predictions, and acting on them, are not simple, geoscience experts say.


Put Your Voice Where Your Mouth Is

We have been living in an increasingly lip-synced world for some 75 years, and we have yet to reach the bottom of a slippery slope.

Everyone's Driven To Eat. How Many Arrive In A Bentley?

Amy Fine Collilns, the author of the new book "The God of Driving," and her driving instructor tour New York's eateries.


Holiday Parties

Tuesday, December 28, 2004


Dozens Of Words For Snow, None For Pollution

The Arctic has been transformed into the planet's chemical trash can, the final destination for toxic waste that originates thousands of miles away.

Iraq 2004 Looks Like Vietnam 1966

Adjusting body counts for medical and military changes.


In Europe, Reality TV Turns Grimmer

It is Channel 4 in London that has pushed reality television — or "factual programming" as it is politely called in Britain — to new extremes, even for a country that has become a furiously humming factory for new reality ideas.

Mother Tongue

What does the fashion for books about the state of hte ENglish language tell us? People care about their language because it forms part of their identity, and part of the resistance to changes in English is a resistance to chnage itself. But correct usage is not an elite affectation; it is a badge of competence.

Name That Decade

Can we please agree on what era it is we're living in?

Monday, December 27, 2004

Tech & Science

With No Alert System, Indian Ocean Nations Were Vulnerable

"Outside the Pacific [Tsunamis] don't occur very often at all so the challenge is how to make people and government officials aware."

Just How Old Can He Go?

Ray Kurzweil, an inventor fascinated with the connection between humans and computers, says that emerging trends in biotechnology are opening a realistic path to immortality.


A Little Journal For Nearly Every Literary Voice

While Threepenny represents the trumph of the bookish little guy int he age of publishing giants and gossip magazines, it is a behemoth in a landscape crowded with 1,000 lliterary magazines.

Sunday, December 26, 2004


Stranger Than Fiction

Morgan Rosenberg is the kind of man who speaks of himself in the third person, as if he were not real, and his life were a story so fantastic that only he could tell it. It doesn't take much time in his company to get the sense that this is indeed the case — that Morgan Rosenberg does see himself as having an almost fictional quality, and that nearly every utterance he makes is, in fact, an effort to control the story.

Revealing The Soul Of A Soulless Lawyer

He lives at the law firm, blowing off his wife's dinner parties, not to mention the birth of his son. He finds no satisfaction in his work, but he is trapped by his high salary and partner title. He is, in short, a petty, cynical, sexist, miserable, overpaid corporate creep. He is also fictional. But he is apparently all too familiar to thousands of lawyers across the country who are regular readers of his Web log, Anonymous Lawyer.

Baby's First Stop? A Taxi In Queens

The holidays have a way of turning simple sadness into tragedy, chance encounters into magic, and mere good luck into a miracle. That was the case on Christmas Eve in Elmhurst, Queens, when a cab driver called 911 to report that his passenger was giving birth and he did not know the way to the nearest hospital.

Saturday, December 25, 2004


Hip Hotels With A Kid-Friendly Vibe (Sorry, No Water Slides)

"These types of hotels are all about making adult environments work for children, not the other way around."

A Motown 'Silent Night' That Echoes Down The Years

In the winter of 1989, I lost my mind and moved from the beach in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Detroit, an inexplicable adventure that led me to discover sub-zero temperatures, some of the best musicians in the Western Hemisphere and my nominee for the best Christmas songs ever recorded.

'Race' Contestant Has Somebody To Shove

No penalty, no elimination, no 800-number for information about domestic violence.

Give Me Seasonal Schmaltz

Christmas captures the defiing characteristic of Americans — their lack of cynicism and scepticism.

Friday, December 24, 2004


The Kindnes Of Strangers

The centuries-old tradition of las posadas is celebrated throughout Mexico and in practically evern Mexican neighborhood in America in the days before Christmas.

Thursday, December 23, 2004


All The President's Lawyers

Should the attorney general be the president's yes man?


Tom And Jerry At Heart Of China's Linguistic Storm

The government, which promotes using Mandarin nationwide, wants to stop airing the hit show dubbed in regional dialects.

Eyes Wide Shut

The world looked away when evil swept through Rwanda. Ten years later, a movie demands that we finally open our eyes.


Rune II


New Theory On Stonehenge Mystery

A fresh theory on how Stonehenge was built has been tested out by a group of experts and enthusiasts.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


When The Right Is Right

I'm embarrassed to say that Democrats have been so suspicious of Republicans that they haven't contributed much on those human rights issues where the Christian right has already staked out its ground.

The Army We Have

It's too small.


In Search Of Christmas

The forbidden "C" word is hard to find.

Mincemeat (Whatever It Is) Is Still A Christmas Tradition

It turns out there is a demand for mince pie. You just have to know where to look, or actually what to listen for: a British accent.

An Illness, A Bracelet, A New Hit

It seems the yellow wristband is the new red AIDS ribbon and Sydney and Daniel have caught the wave, joining a growing list of people using a colored bracelet to help raise money for a cause.

A Giant Step Forward For Punctuation

Introducing the long-awaited sarcasm point.


Turning Eighty: A Birthday Poem


Washington Post Company Buys Slate Magazine

The sale completes Slate's transformation from an experiment in the new media in 1996 to a respected brand name in journalism.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Tech & Science

The Ultimate Gift: 50 Years Of Organ Transplants

Thursday, Dec. 23, will be the 50th anniversary of the first successful organ transplant, a kidney transplant from a living donor performed in Boston in 1954.


See Spot Run

Are commercials really bad for kids?

Monday, December 20, 2004


War On The Cheap

The people who were so anxious to launch the war in Iraq are a lot less enthusiastic about properly supporting the troops who are actually fighting, suffering and dying in it.


Invisible Bias

A group of psychologists claim a test can measure prejudices we harbor without even knowing it. Their cirtics say they are politiczing psychology.

Sunday, December 19, 2004


The Wounds Of War

Fewer American soldiers are dying by gunfire in Iraq than in previous wars, but more are battling serious injuries after they arrive home. Alan Babin would tell you how tough it is, if he could.


Recipe For A Miracle

Mix impassioned fans with a baseball team that believes in itself as never before, and suddenly a club's strength is redoubled.

Your Blog Or Mine?

As Web logs proliferate, the boundaries between public and private are being transformed. Unconstrained by journalistic conventions, bloggers are blurring the lines between public events and ordinary social interactions and changing the way we date, work, teach and live. And as blogs continue to proliferate, citizens will have to develop new understandings about what parts of our lives are on and off the record.

Saturday, December 18, 2004


Think Globally, Eat Locally

Our reliance on imports and the concentration of domestic agriculture have made the food supply vulnerable.

Tech & Science

Homo Respect-Us

The creature genetic engineers fear most.


The Chestnuts Of Christmas

Because of the ins and outs of the music industry, we dust off the same Christmas songs every year.

Hot, Sizzling Temptations, Freshly Fried At Your Stove

The cooking method people fear most is the one they love most: frying. Try it once, and you'll be hooked. And on your second try you will come pretty close to mastering the art of frying.

Friday, December 17, 2004


Poems, Bombs, And The Road To Baghdad

"I'm looking for books," I say. "Iraqi poetry." He's not sure what I mean. "Poems," I say. "Poems. You know?"


Has The Amazing Race Gone Too Far?

Thursday, December 16, 2004


When A Knife Is The Gleam In A Cook's Eye

So we immersed ourselves in the knife culture, enrolling in skills classes and trolling cutlery stores. We browsed online knife forums and talked to apssionate home cooks and professional chefs to find out what qualities in a blade might make chopping onions a sublime experience.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Tech & Science

A Species In A Second: Promise Of DNA 'Bar Codes'

The wait for a simple way of identifying species may not be too much longer, if an idea known as DNA bar coding should prove as good as its advocates say.

Open Access

Should scientific articles be available online and free to the public?


Stirring Up Science

The brightest kids have more chances than ever to excel in the lab — but their classmates are struggling.

Life In A Glass House

One thing an imaginary world needs, I think, is to fail.

Here's The Problem WIth Being So 'Smart'

The danger of smart is that it confirms the moves and mannerisms of a new and perhaps equally closed network.

In Paris, Boutiques ANd Cafes Where Chocolatiers Raise The Bar

Chocolate is a quintessentially democratic pleasure, a breezily nostalgic satisfaction that brings us all back to the roughly level playing field of childhood delight.

Quitting The Paint Factory

On the virtues of idleness.


This Scene Before

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


Necessity As The Mother Of Tenure?

Inventing should be part of the university mission, and a requirement for professors seeking tenure.


Roads Gone Wild

No street signs. No crosswalks. No accidents. Surprise: Making driving seems more dangerous could make it safer.

Sixteen Tons Of Fun

Eric Idle brings the Holy Grail to Broadway.

In Blog We Trust?

Travel web logs are all over the map. Don't get lost.


Adam Robinson

The Diagnosis

Sunday, December 12, 2004


Anti-Concept Concept Store, The

In their rejection of concept-store pretension, the guerrilla stores have realized its purest expression.

Do-It-Yourself Attack Ad, The

This election, technology made things drastically cheaper.

Inkless Magazine, The

It may be the first inkless (not to mention textless) magazine, if you're not counting those on the Internet, of course.

Purple Is The Color Of Correction

The latest menace to the American education system has nothing to do with standardized tests or McDonald's outposts in school lunchrooms. Instead, it's a venerable symbol of discipline and authority: the red ink that has been used to grade papers for generations.

Underwear For Animated People

When animators program computer systems to mimic the way interwoven fibers interact with skins — that is, when virtual clothing is put on the virtual person — the results are hard to predict and often go awry.

A Grieving Son's Journey Comes To A Crossroads

His father's unsolved murder haunted him for three decades. When the mystery was partly solved, he had to decide how far to search for the whole truth.

Enter Narci-Cinema

Movie cameras are still made with thelens fixed on one end and the viewfinder on the back, but these days most consumer-grade video camcorders are equipped with a monitor that swivels around, dissolving the conventional boundary between what is in front of the camera and what, or who, is behind it.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Tech & Science

How I Learned To Love The Lab

If we want kids to study science, we need to engage their imaginations.


Can The Movies Rescue America?

In a year when Mel Gibson and Michael Moore exploited our deep divisions, we needed more Incredible films to bring us together.

Thursday, December 9, 2004


The Whys Of Art

Changes in art and cultural history have never been easyt o assimilate to politcal or economic changes. But perhaps we have enough evidence to show that particular sub-ideologies, combined wtih or supported by a bureaucratic upsurge, have cuased, or been associated with, what appear to be downhill trends.

The Plot Against Sex In America

When they start pushing the panic button over "moral values" at the bluest of TV channels, public broadcasting's WNET, in the bluest of cities, New York, you know this country has entered a new cultural twilight zone.

Wednesday, December 8, 2004


A Feast For A Holiday, Or Everyday Exulting

What I love about cooking is that we can share in other people's festivals.

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Tech & Science

String Theory, At 20, Explains It All (Or Not)

String theorists agree that it has been a long, strange trip, but they still have faith that they will complete the journey.


The Picture Problem

Mammography, air power, and the limits of looking.


Gods In Exile

Disaster Stamps Of Pluto

Monday, December 6, 2004


Lead To Letterman, One Night A Week

With help from "CSI," "Late Show With David Letterman" is clearly faring better than Jay Leon's "The Tonight Show" on Mondays.

Religion: The Birth Of Jesus

From Mary to the manager, how the Gospels mix faith and history to tell the Christmas story and make the case for Christ.

Little Vegas

What can Maryland's troubled history with slot machines tell us about the odds for the future?

La Scala Proudly Emerges From A Drama Of Its Own

To the astonishment of many, in an opera world where passions can be as heated offstage as on, this particular drama appears to be ending happily.

Playing Doctor

Why see a doctor when you can test yourself for infertility, diabetes, HIV, colon cancer, and other things? Because maybe that test isn't telling you all you need to know.

Sunday, December 5, 2004


A Long March From Maoism To Microsoft

The metamorphosis of a Communist Party expatriate to business consultant mirrors China's shift from a closed-door state to a freewheeling money-making society.


Lift Every Voice: PoliCasting On The Rise

Podcasting rocks. Podcasting is fun. Podcasting is important enough that it will affect politics and democracy in unexpected ways. It could, in fact, turn out to be huge... but first it needs one more genius.

The King And I

It is fitting that so many major news organizations have asked me to herald the coming to the United States of the artifacts from King Tut's tomb. After all, I'm the one who wrote the silly song about him.

The Supreme Beginner

Most attorneys work their entire careers without appearing before the U.S. Supreme Court. Jeffrey Fisher won two cases before the high court this year at the unheard-of age of 33.

In Search Of Lost Time

Why, as I edge toward the end of my 40's, has so much of what I know become impssobile to access on demand? Where are the thoughts that spring forth in the shower but evanesce before they can be recorded, the mental lists that shed items on the way to the supermarket?

Friday, December 3, 2004

Tech & Science

O Hologram, Where Art Thou?

Why holograms look so cool in the movies — and so lame in real life.


You Can't Buy Your Way Out Of A Bureaucracy

No amount of money will rescue a ship that is sinking under the weight of endless rules and bureaucracy.

The Hit We Almost Missed

It's official, I guess. Forty years after he recorded it, Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" was just named the greatest rock 'n' roll song of all time by Rolling Stone magazine, a tribute it had previously been given by New Musical Express, Britain's leading pop-music weekly. Quite an honor, considering that the single was almost never released.

TV Chefs That Don't Bite

If you really want to learn how to cook — as opposed to learning how to "entertain" — stick with these two shows.

Some Points I Must Insist Upon

Listening to how English is changing sometimes means keeping an ear cocked for what's no longer being said, for words that are falling out of the language.

Thursday, December 2, 2004


The 9/11 Bubble

It is now clear to me that we have followed the dot-com bubble with the 9/11 bubble. Both bubbies made us stupid... The first ended in tears, and so will the second. Because, as the dot-com bubble proved, elephants can fly — "provided it is not very long."

Secret Intelligence And The "War On Terror'

Fear of Saddam Hussein's illusory weapons of mass destruction was used by the President to frighten and intimidate Congress into voting for war. Kindness permits us to call this an honest mistake once, but only once. Next time we will have to conclude that the CIA can no longer be trusted, and matters will deteriorate from there.


Lo, A New Age Of Heroes

Once the Italian hot sandwich was the sole champion, but now it has comrades from the Caribbean and Vietnam.

Wednesday, December 1, 2004


Feet On The Floor, Please

The proposed regulations, totaling 3,900 words, traverse the fuzzy boundaries between public and private space, extending rules of etiquette into the realm of mass transit and specifying proper conduct with a degree of precision that may surprise many passengers.

A Culinary Oasis

It's no mirage. How one man's enterprise makes the chow line a dining experience.



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