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The other things in life

Monday, January 31, 2005


How Q Found Her Groove

Young Japanese see New York City as a place to dance, to dare and to shine.

New-SAT Takers: Confused Yet?

Beyond the bare bones lies a huge gray area.

14 Years Later, My Hollywood Ending

Only in my 14 years [in Hollywood] — most of it spend covering the movie industry, the rest covering television and music — did I come face to face with some of the more startling, and not always pleasant, truths about human behavior, my own included.

Sunday, January 30, 2005


Rich Man, Poor Man

Jack Whittaker's big Powerball win cost him — and everyone around him — dearly.

Weighing Words

What's really worth saying when talking is an effort?

A Matter Of Principal

As Boston's public schools fight to regain the faith of parents who see the suburbs or private schools as the only options for their children, a remarkable principal shows how one public school can be special for every student.

How Cold Is It? Not Very, If You Are A Statistician

As of yesterday, this January, as measured by temperatures in Central Park, has so far ranked as only the 66th coldest on record.

Friday, January 28, 2005


Read My Ears

The only thing that President Bush could do to change people's minds about him would be to travel across Europe and not say a single word — but just listen.


He Said "Penis"!

Warning: The way a right-wing "parents" group is wasting the FCC's time might just make you (dare we say it?) "pissed."

Can I Beat A Lie Detector?

I always tell the truth. But not today.

Thursday, January 27, 2005


The Fondue Pot Is Hot Again

If you didn't sell your fondue pot at your last tag sale and it's still gathering dust in the back of a cabinet, pull it out. Or go get one. Fondue is making a resurgence.

With Glass And Steel, Prolific Architect Cut A Towering Figure

Few architects of the past century were so talked about as Johnson, an urbane, eloquent and wealthy eminence who built, spoke and dined very publicly. Considered brilliant by some, condemned by others, his work included some of the most discussed structures in town or country.

A Generation Lost In Its Personal Space

Dead philosophers sometimes have their uses.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


Martyr Complex

China's history houses an elaborate and emotionally powerful martyrology of bold, visionary reformers.


Print In Sands Of Time

The Local Man behind all those headlines.

Married To The Mall

A critic addresses some lingering questions about the upscale food court in the vertical world of the Time Warner Center in Manhattan.

Taking Liberty To Revise Famous Speeches

But then morning always comes, and with it the responsibility to, as Ali G would say, check yo-self.

Unpardonable Interruptions

How television killed the newspaper sports column.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Tech & Science

Brace Yourself! Here Comes Einstein's Year

Einstein has been dead for 50 years this April, but he is still the scientist most likely to have his picture on the front page of the newspaper, perhaps famously sticking out his tongue. It is still Einstein's universe, and in honor of his "miracle year" in 1905, physicsts, universities and government organizations have laid on a gantlet of celebrations, conferences, books, concerts, contests, Web sites, lectures, games and a controversial intercontinental light show.


The Mac In front Of The Curtain

Thank you for the opportunity you gave me and others, and thank you — despite divisive wars and undulating political strife — for the one hour a night across 30 years of American life when we were entertained purely, delightfully and wisely.


Possibility: An Assay

Monday, January 24, 2005

Tech & Science

Escape From The Universe

The universe is destined to end. Before it does, could an advanced civilisation escape via a "wormhole" into a parallel universe? The idea seems like science fiction, but it is consistent with the laws of physics and biology. Here's how to do it.


How To Read A Column

At last I am at liberty to vouchsafe to you the dozen rules in reading a political column.

Common Sense Has Much To Learn From Moonshine

It's time English teachers got back to basics — less grammar, more play.

A Gift From Above, Wrapped In White

Snow days are our Sabbath days. They bring with them a commandment to pause, to curl up by a fire, stay in your pajamas or go outside and catch a snowflake and marvel at its tiny beauty. Or do nothing.

Johnny Carson, Low-Key King Of Late-Night TV, Dies At 79

Someone once asked Mr Carson what he would like his epitaph to be. He thought for a moment and reached for the traditional line of a talk-show host: "I'll be right back."

Solving The Enigma Of Kryptos

What does it say about the Central Intelligence Agency that its agents can crack the secret codes of enemy nations but can't unravel a coded sculpture sitting outside their cafeteria window?

Sunday, January 23, 2005


Dream On America

The U.S. Model: For years, much of the world did aspire to the American way of life. But today countries are finding more appealing systems in their own backyards.


The Sound Of Silence

The North End has survived the clamor of the Central Artery and years of Big Dig construction, only to find itself in a quiet struggle between Old World and new.

Sex Ed At Harvard

In the study of gender, large and growing bodies of good science are helping us understand the sources of human abilities and limitations. It is time to accept their existence, their seriousness and their legitimacy.

See No Bias

Many Americans believe they are not prejudiced. Now a new test provides powerful evidence that a majority of us really are. Assuming we accept the results, what can we do about it?

The Making Of A Molester

What allowed Roy to go from being a seemingly normal man to a man who could solicit sex from a 12-year-old? His past? His relationshiop to the truth? Or the ways in which the Web blurs the line between fantasy and the all too real?

Saturday, January 22, 2005


The Invasion Of The Midsize Movie

Independent film may be dead, but if it is, it has been reincarnated in the shape of another much-mourned, perpetually misunderstood movie martyr, the studio system.

Friday, January 21, 2005


The Father Of Infertility

When I was going through the grueling process of trying to have a baby, I longed for the comfort of empathetic women. I found it where I least expected it: From my blunt-spoken dad.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Tech & Science

How Do They Measure Wind Chill?

It's all about how thick your skin is.


Is "Doggie Style" Hyphenated?

My stint as a copy editor at a skin mag taught me more than I ever wanted to know about the sexual proclivities of the American public.

The First Nonsmoking Nation

Bhutan banned tobacco. Could the rest of the world follow?

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


One Nation, Overfed

It's no news that we're too fat. But why is it that Americans eat so much, especially as compared with Europeans?

The Lawyer Enters A Plea Of Lucky

"And for 15 years I've had the luxury of staying at home, being there with my kids, coaching Little League baseball." Mr. Grisham had that luxury in part because he kept writing and writing, at least a book every year, and those books kept selling and selling.

Ask Not Why Inaugural Addresses Are So Rotten

We have the answer.


Farmer Bob's Good Life

Meditation On A Moth

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Tech & Science

Bones Of Contention

Anthropologists are in an uproar over the significance of a tiny, ancient skeleton — nicknamed the "hobbit" — found on an island of mdoern-day short people.

Some Gene Research Just Isn't Worth The Money

No one can dispute addiction's high cost. But is genetic research the best way to reduce it? Probably not.


How Copyright Could Be Killing Culture

The high cost of getting permission to use archival footage andphotos threatens to put makers of documentaries out of business.

A Sophisticated Approach

Once it was a time for youngsters to master reading and math skills learned in first grade and prepare for the indpendent learning traditionally demanded in third grade. But in many public schools across the country, second grade has moved on.


Postal Experiments

Having long been genuine admirers of the United States Postal Service, which gives amazingly reliable service especially compared with many other countries, our team of investigators decided to test the delivery limits of this immense system.

Monday, January 17, 2005


The Depressed Press

Despite the recent lapses at CBS and previous mishaps at The Times and USA Today, here's why mainstream journalism has a future.


How We Learn

The problem for many children in elementary school may not be that they're not smart enough but that they're not stupid enough. They haven't yet been able to make reading and writing transparent and automatic.


A Tsunami By Any Other Name

What's in a name? A wave of bad luck, if you're Toyota.

Sunday, January 16, 2005


A Question Of Numbers

Since the establishment of Social Security in 1935, government actuaries have been crunching data and projecting the future of the system. Why don't they see a crisis looming?


The Book Of Jobs

Over the years, "What Color Is Your Parachute?" has grown like a ramshackle house, adding resources, numbered lists and personality tests.

Gen X Dad

Luxury vacations, fast-track careers, and bigger houses used to be a priority for family men, but no longer. Today's young fathers are taking paternity leaves, rejecting overtime, and rushing home after work to do all the things many of their own fathers didn't.

For Party Planners, A Difficult Delivery

"It's gonna be fine." It's a phrase party planner Jenna Mack repeats almost hourly, soothing clients, caterers, truck drivers, dance-floor deliverers, Secret Service agents and fellow event managers.

Saturday, January 15, 2005


Dead Movement Walking?

Roiled by harsh internal criticism and confronting four more years of Bush, environmentalists face a dark night of the soul.

Tech & Science

Tsunami Moves North Pole, Shortens Daytime

Daytime is now 2.68 microseconds shorter because of last month's tsunami.


Samurai Of Cuisine, On A New Battlefield

With "Iron Chef America," the Food Network's challenge is to translate the cult success of the original show without losing its campy, samurai ethos.

Call Me Madame Maestro

These artists represent a new wave of female conductors in their late 20's through early 40's.

Friday, January 14, 2005


How I Learned To Pitch

A Seattle Mariners coach teaches me to throw a change-up, and much more.

Thursday, January 13, 2005


Food Bloggers Chronicle Their Delicious Obsessions

Armed with digital cameras, keyboards and easy-to-use software, gourmands can now create online shrines to beloved or dreaded aspects of the culinary realm.

Hard To Label

That size 8 dress may be a 6 or even a 4 at other stores. When it comes to women's clothing, sizes are in the eye of the retailer.

A Vegetarian Haiku In Four Dishes

"In Japan, the idea of focusing on a small aspect of something and then exploding it into many possibilities is an appealing notion, in both life and aesthetics. Working in a limited set and not letting it inhibit you but allowing it to take you to another level is part of the pleasure."



Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Tech & Science

Blasting Into The Core Of A Comet To Learn Its Secrets

Since the earliest days of the solar system, comets have periodically smashed into Earth, blasting holes in the surface and scattering cosmic debris. Now it is our turn to strike back.


It'd Be Easier If SpongeBob Were Hawking Broccoli

Food marketed to children is being criticized as high in fat and sugar.

Linguists Gone Wild!

Why "wardrobe malfunction" wasn't the Word of the Year.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


The Newspaper Appreciation As Death Kit

The instant journalistic "appreciations" of Susan Sontag after her death last month at 71 emphasized, as quick pieces must when knocked out in a race with the obituary writers, the feats that made her famous rather than the characteristics that made her Susan Sontag.

The Secret Lives Of Just About Everybody

Psychologists say that most normal adults are well equipped to start a secret life, if not to sustain it. The ability to hold a secret is fundamental to healthy social development, they say, and the desire to sample other identities — to reinvent oneself, to pretend — can last well into adulthood.

Playing The Old Blame Game

Almost everyone is a victim now, but some are more newsworthy than others. Here are the best of last year's victims.

Does God Want Us To Be Happy?

How American believers allowed themselves everyday joy.

Thank God It's Monday!

If workers feel engaged and content at work, they're more productive. How to make jobs so satisfying that employees want to say...

Write Till You Drop

Write as if you were dying. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients.


The Island

The Juniper Tree

The People Who Owned The Bible — A Story

Monday, January 10, 2005


Where Was God?

Turn to the Book of Job in the Hebrew Bible.


Counterfeiting and pirating (that is, making knockoffs of what developed nations have created) are at the heart of the Chinese economic boom. As unethical or illegal as it might be, the Chinese government is not about to stop it.

Tech & Science

Life, Reinvented

A group of MIT engineers wanted to model the biological world. But, damn, some of nature's designs were complicated! So they started rebuilding from the ground up — and gave birth to synthetic biology.


Why Is Everyone Going To Bhutan?

This peaceful nation half the size of Indiana is emerging as a big draw, attracting those in search of a spiritual journey, a hiking adventure — or just a chance to experience a place before the rest of the world gets there.

Toxic Breast Milk?

When we nurse our babies, we feed them not only the fats, sugars and proteins that fire their immune systems, metabolisms and cerebral synapses. We also feed them, albeit in minuscule amounts, paint thinners, dry-cleaning fluids, wood preservatives, toilet deodorizers, cosmetic additives, gasoline byproducts, rocket fuel, termite poisons, fungicides and flame retardants.

Friday, January 7, 2005


Promoting Torture's Promoter

If the United States were to look into a mirror right now, it wouldn't recognize itself.

Tech & Science

Foul Play

How a Slate scientist changed the NBA forever — or at least a week.


Up A Tree, For The Fun Of It

It takes about $400 worth of equipment to climb a tree — arborist ropes, helmet, climbing saddle, branch protectors, metal loops called carabiners. But when you're 100 feet up or so and your perch is swaying in the wind, you'll be glad you came perpared.

The Rating Says PG, But Is That Guidance Enough?

Parents have always had a hard time drawing the line between hypocrisy and responsibility, and never more than at the present moment, when prurience and prudishness are both operating at high voltage.

Matters Of Life And Death

Caring for their aging parents inspires artists to examine mortality through their work.

Angry With God

Online polls are not scientific, of course, but the belief that God was uninvolved in the greatest natural calamity in years is being widely expressed.

Thursday, January 6, 2005

Tech & Science

Power Users, Ready For A Refill

With Starbucks and other public venues increasingly serving as impormptu offices, the jockeying for electrical outlets can be brutal.


Hiphop Turns 30

Whatcha celebratin' for?

Wednesday, January 5, 2005

Tech & Science

God (Or Not), Physics And, Of Course, Love: Scientists Take A Leap

"What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?" This was the question posed to scientists, futurists and other creative thinkers by Joh Brockman, a literary agent and publisher of Edge, a Web site devoted to science.


A Chef's Loss Is His Gain

Weighing in past 350, Jeff Tunks knew something had to change. More than two years later and 100 pounds lighter, he has.

Artisanal, Creamy... Tofu?

New York's new and ambitious Asian restaurants have begun to foster the art of tofu appreciation, and more places are now serving fresh or even house-made tofu, delicacies that are soft, creamy and light.

Why Gift Cards Are Evil

They're the best insult money can buy.

Tuesday, January 4, 2005


My Dinner With Sontag

I crossed chopsticks with America's most ferocious intellectual — and the sushi turned to ashes in my mouth.

Arts Project Provokes Hong Kong Uproar

A cultural complex several times the size of Lincoln Center sitting on a long peninsula in Hong kong has become the center of a bitter debate in the last few weeks.

Welcome To 'TEH-jas', Land Of The Alamo And The Cowboy

Thje pronounciation of place names is one of those quiet conflicts that are played out everyday throughout the Southwest as the number of Hispaics in areas originally colonized by Spain and Mexico continue to grow — and in some cases nudge Anglos into the minority.


The Seamstress

Monday, January 3, 2005


Endings Are A Catharsis. They Give Meaning To What Comes Before, And Change Us From The Way We Were.

Endings, by their nature, are exquisitely torturous. We're all psychologically primed to crave resolving climaxes, and simultaneously inclined to doubt, mistrust, reject and even fear them.

Sunday, January 2, 2005


The War Inside The Arab Newsroom

Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed is trying to turn Al Arabiya into a new kind of Arab news channel, with fewer hostage tapes and more moderate voices. But that's hard to do when his employees aren't sure they want to change, American troops occasionally arrest his reporters and his anchors get personalized death threats from Iraqi insurgents.

Tech & Science

Even Einstein Had His Off Days

While we should certainly laud his achievements over the next 12 months, we may learn a more valuable lesson by investigating Einstein's greatest failure.


The All Too Ready For Prime Time Players

How "Saturday Night Live" dulled its political edge and surrendered to the national obsession with celebrity scandal.

Saturday, January 1, 2005


The Ends Of the World As We Know Them

History warns us that when once-powerful societies collapse, they tend to do so quickly and unexpectedly.


The Last Laugh

Thanks to all you editors for printing my column, and thanks especially to all you readers for reading it. You've given me the most wonderful career an English major could hope to have. I am very grateful. And I'm not making that up.

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