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The other things in life

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Tech & Science

Gravity-Defying Geckos Teach Scientists A Lesson

The scientific quest to make artificial gecko feet has taken a leap forward.


PowerPoint: Killer App?

Did PowerPoint make the space shuttle crash?

Chic Suds

When I met my sophisticated, globe-trotting roommate, I was desperate to impress. Who knew I'd win her over with a bottle of liquid soap?

Why I'm Divorced: And Why You're Next

I'm no historian, but it doesn't take a Paul Johnson to tell us why it's so hard to stay married. We live too long. Marriage is a naturally polarizing process that causes one person to detest, over time, what the other person loves.

Dancing To His Tune

Here's to you, Uncle Albert — the greatest violinist in the world.

Uniting The Two Koreas, In Animated Films At Least

It is the most Korean of folk tales.


Very Rilke

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


The Water Cooler, A Font Of Good Medicine

Some old notions of medical privacy in doctors' offices and hospitals are out of style.

In Bangalore, India, A Cuddle With Your Baby Requires A Bribe

Just as the painful ordeal of childbirth finally ended and Nesam Velankanni waited for a nurse to lay her squalling newborn on her chest, the maternity hospital's ritual of extortion began. If you want to see your child, families are told, the price is $12 for a boy and $7 for a girl, a lot of money for slum dwellers scraping by on a dollar a day.

Anybody There?

'I am lonely, will anyone speak to me' pleaded the message on the website. Within minutes someone did — and soon thousands of total strangers were sharing their emotions.

My Son, The Doctor

Why is it, in fact, that so many Jews have become doctors? Here follows a twice-told tale that bears telling once again.

Monday, August 29, 2005


Now Showing: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly Americans

American popular culture is no longer a beacon of freedom to huddled masses in closed societies. Instead, it's a glut on the market and, absent any countervailing cultural diplomacy, our de facto ambassador to the world.


A Refrigerator Door And A Handle On Life

I had never thought of the notes on my refrigerator door as personal and sensitive until a recent visit from my Califronia cousin, Janice.

Beijing's Quest For 2008: To Become Simply Livable

Beijing is so efficient at pouring concrete that the International Olympic Committee has asked it to slow down rather finish construction too soon. Far more difficult will be fulfilling Beijing's promise of playing host to a "green" Olympics as well as meeting a new goal in the city's revised master plan — to become "a city suitable for living."

Single, White With Dildo

Thanks to developments in the field of "teledildonics," quick and easy cybersex is becoming an option for anyone with a mouse. Could internet-enabled sex toys soon become must-haves for online daters?

All-Elvis Radio? It's Now Or Never

There are those who say that pop-radio stations play the same set of songs over and over again and all sound alike — a statement that is both true and not true of Sirius Satellite Radio's Elvis Radio.

Language Born Of Colonialism Thrives Again In Amazon

When the Portuguese arrived in Brazil five centuries ago, they encountered a fundamental problem: the indigenous peoples they conquered spoke more than 700 languages. Rising to the challenge, the Jesuit preiests accompanying them concocted a mixture of Indian, Portuguese and African words they called "lingua geral," or the "general language," and imposed it on their colonial subjects. Elsewhere in Brazil, lingua geral as a living, spoken tongue died off long ago. But in a remote and neglected corner of the Amazon where Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela meet, the language has not only managed to survive, it has made a remarkable comeback in recent years.



Carolina Wren

Sunday, August 28, 2005


The Soft Revolution

Today's folk songs are being sung — very quietly — by a generation that's had it with sex and drugs and doing it in the road.

The Past Lingers In Changing Vietnam

For nearly two decades, Vietnam's two big metropolises, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, have embraced capitalism and the modern world. But here in the center of the country, a belt of land only 40 or so miles wide, the mood is often less aggressive.

Saturday, August 27, 2005


I Invaded The White House Press Corps

I had front row seats at the media's Great Slave Rebellion over Karl Rove. No wonder our democracy's in trouble.


The Taste Of Fear

There are many delicious perks to being a food writer. But the job also has its disadvantages, and one of these is that people are afraid to ask you round for dinner.

A Comprehensive Rethink

Was mixed-ability school a noble ideal or an educational disaster?

Friday, August 26, 2005


For Russians, Wounds Linger In School Siege

A year after terrorists from a Chechen separatist group arrived with their assault rifles and masks, setting a seige that ended in battle and fire, there is scarcely more clarity about what happened than there was when the flames died down.


My Life As A Hack

It was glorious. Now it's over.

Fat Like Me

America is getting fatter, and America loves Disneyland.

Everyone Does Not Have A Novel Inside Them

It is quite wrong to portray publishing as an impenetrable cartel — if anything it's too open to unknown writers.

Advertisers Cry Foul Over Olympics Law

So keen is the Blair government to comply with the IOC's requirements that it has banned several seemingly innocuous words to stop ambush marketers associating themselves with the London games.

The Drone Ranger

But you need that paycheck. You need those benefits. Your only hope, then, is to live in the moment, keep at it as an animal might, with consciousness tethered securely to the present. Just keep at it, left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot, moving cell by cell across that endless spreadsheet.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Here's The Dish On Fast-Food Secrets

From knowing how to buy a tax-free latte to ordering your burger like a pro, there are some things a consumer simply must know.

Why This Band Plays On

The Beatles demonstrated that musical and social change could emanate from the shared spirit of the same body politic.

Bob Costas Says No To Hour On Aruba

Mr Costas' decision has drawn further attention to the Holloway case.


Rename Your Town, Get Free Satellite TV

The nation's No. 2 satellite television provider wants to dish out free service any town willing to rename itself "Dish."

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


They Will Change Us

If our way of life makes us vulnerable to terrorism, we need another way of life.


No One Ever Slaved Over A Hot Toaster Oven

A little research revealed that toaster oven technology has come a long way since I graduated from college.

Reinventing Television

We interrupt this broadcast to bring you a Special Report from Jon Stewart.

Extinction Long Seen, Video Stores Hang On

Ever since Blockbuster and Movie gallery opened their first video stores 20 years ago, predictions of their imminent demise have been as common as late fees.



Tuesday, August 23, 2005


A Tourism Plan's Itsy-Bitsy, Teeny-Weeny Miscalculation

Local officials promoted skimpy attire as a way to lure visitors to a stretch of sand on South Korea's west coast, but beachgoers were shy.

A Book To Read Carefully, With A Physical Therapist Near

"Hunger's Brides," Paul Anderson's debut novel, is certain to be one of the biggest books of the fall. The question is how many readers will want to do the heavy lifting required to read it.

Price Was Right

Want a Picasso? Shop at Costco!

Monday, August 22, 2005


The Swift Boating Of Cindy Sheehan

The president can keep trying to ration the photos of flag-draped caskets. But this White House no longer has any more control over the insurgency at home than it does over the one in Iraq.


He's Just Not On The Same Page

Robert Sabuda has taken the once-quaint novelty of pop-up books to new heights with a fusioin of art and engineering.

A War Resister Outshouts A Law Meant To Quiet Him

A protester who has carried out a four-year "protest for peace" across the street from Parliament is exempt from a law restricting such demonstrations.

The Golf Gene

Golf features no body contact, no car crashes and no cheerleaders, yet men keep watching. Why?

Sunday, August 21, 2005


What's In A Name? Ask This Traveler

I had no idea that being an American would ever be this hard.


Great Expectations

Might one get published — or just enjoy a couple of years off from reality — in one of our many packed creative writing programs?

The Big Big Day

More couples are saying 'I do' to extravagant weddings even as the institutio of marriage teeters. Are they just dazzled by all the nice things the robust romance industry offers?

Kitchen Voyeur: Sunny Side Up

Solar cooking is more than just good for the planet.

Friday, August 19, 2005


The New Movement Against Wal-Mart

Fresh blood joins the battle to keep the mega-retailer out of NYC.


Thirty years after Jaw changed the face of cinema, blockbusters are dying at the box office. Is our taste for reality outstripping our love of big-budget epics?

9/11: Light A Candle Or Party On?

Now the black circle around the calendar date is fading, leaving ambivalence and awkward disagreement as to what is and isn't appropriate to plan.

Lions And Cheetahs And Elephants, Oh My!

Let them run wild. In North America.


Strange Fossil Defies Grouping

A strange 525 million-year-old fossil creature is baffling scientists because it does not fit neatly into any existing animal groups.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Junk Food Nation: Who's To Blame For Childhood Obesity?

The recent conflict over what America eats, and the way the government promotes food, is a disturbing example of how in Bush's America corporate interests trump public health, public opinion and plain old common sense.


Deadline Hollywood

Hollywood to Newsosaurs: Drop dead.

Thigh The Beloved Country

Muscle-bound models sporting "big butts" star in Nike's fall ad campaign. Can this real-women marketing craze be real?


I have always understood myself to be a person who does not go to writers conferences. How, then, one wonders, can it be that I have just come back from AWP's annual conference in Vancouver, treading upon a lifetime of preferring not to?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


When It Comes To Sald, Caesar Rules

The combination of crisp romaine lettuce leaves, lots of garlic, a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan, and a rich, creamy dressing — ingredients that go into the classic Caesar — have not changed much in the 80 years since the salad was created.

Faith And The Fish

Next time I take Faith along to the aquarium, I am bringing reinforcements.

He Would've Wanted Everyone To Eat

Funeral meals have always meant to assuage grief and to honor the dead and their beliefs about the hereafter. But feeding the grieving also has a fundamental aim. "They've been depleted by caregiving and bereavement. Grieving people must eat."

Lobster's Little Cousin, And Its Envy

It is always the langoustines that make my head spin. Ah, langoustines!

In The Hospital, A Degrading Shift From Person To Patient

The deeper psychological transformation from citizen to patient that occurs in almost any medical setting can be jarring, and anthropologists say it begins immediately at admission.


Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity WIth New 'Intelligent Falling' Theory

"Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, 'God' if you will, is pushing them down."

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


V-J Day Is Replayed, But The Lip-Lock's Tamer This Time

"Who do we have to kiss?"


First Body

Monday, August 15, 2005


What, No Tip? Service Charge Faces Struggle At Restaurants

Is the right to stiff the waiter as American as apple pie?

Super Power

In a notoriously segregated city, shoppers of all races are flocking to a fast-growing supermarket chain called Super 88. Its founder triumphed through communist invasion, shipwreck, and fire. Now, he wants to change the way you shop for groceries.

Black Guy, White Music

How I stopped worrying about my hip-hop cred and fell in love with Bjork.

Every Man Is An Island

From The Odyssey to The Beach, islands have been one of the most powerful and magical inspirations to writers.

From Love To Longing To Protest, It's All In The Tilt Of The Postage

For most people, the front of an envelope is simply a place for addresses and postage, and a crooked stamp indicates little more than that the sender was in a hurry. But for others, this tiny sliver of real estate is home to a coded language, hidden in plain sight, that has been passed down through the generations for more than a century.


Halal Burger Bar Opens In Paris

France's first restaurant serving halal meat in an American-style fast-food setting has opened in the suburbs of Paris.

Sunday, August 14, 2005


Hope Floats

And once in a while, it washes ashore at your feet.

Under Pressure

Cryovacking, which is more often called sous vide (French for "under vacuum"), is poised to change the way restaurant chefs cook — and like the Wolf stove and the immersion blender, it will probably trickle down to the home kitchen someday.

In Praise of A Snail's Pace

Sometimes, a letter becomes the icon of an old-fashioned new fashion. And sometimes, in this technological whirlwind, it takes a piece of snail mail to carry the stamp of authenticity.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Books, Not Tales, Get Taller Before Baby Boomers' Eyes

As baby boomers near retirement, they are finding it harder and harder to read the small type of mass-market paperbacks, the pocket-size books that are the most popular segment of the publishing business.

The Tipping Point

New Yorkers are great at leaving something extra. Tourists suck.

Friday, August 12, 2005


Just How Big Is 600 Trillion?

The plausibility of 600 trillion trips illustrates just how complex air travel is.

Feeling Cooped Up

Is "chick lit" really the label this writer wants as she pitches her manuscript to publishers? What would Jane Austen do?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Tech & Science

Why Great Minds Can't Grasp Consciousness

Part of the mystery and excitement about consciousness is that scientists don't know what form the final answer will take.

Science's Quest To Banish Fat In Tasty Ways

With two-thirds of Americans considered overweight and yet many professing a desire to eat healthier, every major food producer and food-ingredient company has ordered its scientists to find the holy grail: products that either have less bad stuff — fat, white flour, sugar and salt — or more good stuff like whole grains, fiber and fish oil.


TV Guide

Literature for couch potatoes.

Heaven Scent

I never thought I could get worked up about home fragrance. Then I got a gift from Provence.

Welcome To Washington, And Now You're On Your Own

For visitors to Washington who come from freeway-reliant reaches of Middle America, riding the Metro can be an attraction in itself. But a few trips riding the rails in their comfortable shoes show that the experience can be more than a little bewildering, too.


Warming Hits 'Tipping Point'

Siberia feels the heat. It's a frozen peat bog the size of France and Germany combined, contains billions of tonnes of greenhouse gas and, for the first time since the ice age, it is melting.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Why Baghdad Must Make Do With Takeout

Things were looking up for Chen Xianzhong, proprietor of Baghdad's first authentic Chinese restaurant in the new Iraq, until a suicide car bomber blew up outside the place less than two weeks ago.


Looking Back

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Tech & Science

Lobster Boom And Bust

When marine biologists think about lobsters, here is what they want to know: Why are there so many of them, and why are there so few?


Setting The Live Music Free

Websites enable the exchange of concert recordings, a practice that has thrived around the Grateful Dead and doesn't bother the music industry.

They're Not Stupid — They're Lazy

The real reason American high-schoolers have such dismal test scores.


Mother And Son

Monday, August 8, 2005


Gimmicky Magazine Inserts Aim To Grab Page Flippers

Readers have long been able to shun magazine ads by simply turning the pages. But advertisers are seeking more ways to command busy consumers' attention in the digital age.

Red, White, And Blueberry

In researching my latest cookbook on American food, I have traveled the country, seeking the answer. I have found a cuisine in a perpetual state of flux, marked by a collaborative spirit that's been around for centuries.

In Praise Of Chop Suey

When the first Chinese restaurant opened in 1849 in San Francisco, no doubt owner Norman Asing hadn't a clue about the trend he was launching.

Black Day For THe Blue Pencil

A culture that doesn't care about editing is a culture that doesn't care about writing. And that has to be bad.

Peter Jennings, Urbane News Anchor, Dies At 67

For more than two decades, the magnitude of a news event could be measured, at least in part, by whether Mr Jennings and his counterparts on the other two networks showed up on the scene.

The Amazing Racer

Practicing for a shot at reality TV means rediscovering public transit.


Mum Was RIght. You Will Feel A Whole Lot Better After A Cuddle

Scientists have confirmed the wisdom of mothers down the ages — a real hug does you good.

Sunday, August 7, 2005


An Anniversary To Forget

For my generation, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings and the war in general now represent the equivalent of a cultural "game over" or "reset" button.


The Workhorse Of Higher Education

How many millions of people have changed their lives by attending community colleges? How many adults with jobs and families have managed to acquire new skills by taking night classes at what we used to call the local junior college? How many underachievers have earned a degree by starting at a community college and then transferring to a four-year school?

Chaos Theory

If you can't take the chaos, get out of the kitchen.


In the future, we may be complaining about those annoying movies that get in the way of the ads we paid good money to see.

Saturday, August 6, 2005


Poking Fun

Why people laugh.

Why I Don't Trust Readers

I've had it with all you unreliable, inconsistent, and detestable blockheads. I've given you every posible chance and you've failed me miserably. Tonight I'm ordering a custom bumper-sticker that reads, "I Don't Trust the Mainstream Media Audience."

Friday, August 5, 2005


The Birth Of 'Mere Terror'

Hiroshima wasn't uniquely wicked. It was part of a policy for the mass killing of civilians.


Cat-And-Mouse Game, With Spray Paint

Graffiti writers and the Police Department's new antigraffiti unit are battling at the intersection of art and crime.

Thursday, August 4, 2005


Teaching Teenagers To Take Orders

Yes, there is a textbook for waiting tables and this summer 22 food-obsessed high school students have been committing its napkin folds and fish forks to memory.

Wednesday, August 3, 2005


What's Wrong With Public Broadcasting?

The pattern is clear. Public broadcasting fails to move, and more agile competitors forge ahead.


Beltway Fantasies

In Maryland, demolition derbies let drivers get in touch with their inner loop.

Remember New York's Capital? Forget It

The Albany diaspora of recent years is the product of new technology, new transportation options and different political styles.

No Laughing Matter

One of the strengths of the British character, we have always told ourselves, is our sense of humor. But stand-up comedians and sitcoms are getting increasingly dark, satirical — and, arguably, unfunny. Are the British forgetting how to laugh?

The Dyslexic Novelist

Sally Gardner changed her name because she couldn't spell it. So how does she managed to write novels?

You Think You've Got Tomatoes

At the Berkeley Bowl Marketplace in California, heirloom and regular tomato varieties vie for attention with 10 types of cherry tomatoes.

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Tech & Science

Your Body Is Younger Than You Think

Whatever your age, your body is many years younger. In fact, even if you're middle aged, most of you may be just 10 years old or less.

Vindication For Ivory-Billed Woodpecker And Its Fans

The phoenix had nothing on the ivory-billed woodpecker.


Songs From The Black Chair

Ten years of listening to the city's most troubled men.

A Subway Bores Into The Ottoman And Byzantine Eras

"if we find some more important things down there, maybe they'll cancel the subway."

On The Set With Singapore's Not-So-Dangerous Bad Boy

Sinking into a plush sofa of a luxury hotel suite now used as a movie production office, the young director Royston Tan contemplated his nickname in the industry. Ah yes, he hears it a lot, he said, his lips turning up to form a tentative and somewhat embarrassed smile. But, he insisted, "I'm reeeeeaaaaally pretty gentle, actually."

Monday, August 1, 2005


Divided, We Stand

America's long struggle to balance church and state isn't getting any easier.

Bad News

The current tendency to political polarization in news reporting is a consequence of changes not in the underlying political opinions but in costs, specifically the falling costs of new entrants.


What Did They Say, And To Whom Did They Say It?

Journalists are expending plenty of time and energy these days accusing other journalists of the sin of ripping them off.

Is Middle School Bad For Kids?

Cities across the U.S. are switching to K-8 schools. Will the results be any better?

My Need For Greed

Sex and drugs and drink and food... enough was never enough for William Leith.

The Pizza's Still Old World, Only Now The Old World's Tibet

New tides of immigration have so transformed New York City that classic ethnic foods and drinks are increasingly being prepared by people whose ethnicity does not necessarily match the menu's.

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