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The other things in life

Sunday, April 30, 2006


Village Writes Its Epitaph: Victim Of A Graying Japan

As rural Japan becomes increasingly depopulated, many villages and hamlets, along with their traditions and histories, risk vanishing.

The Science Of Me

Scientists say they can map out your medical destiny: what diseases you'll get and how you'll die. But would knowing the future improve your life?

A Romantic Date In Paris

A budget is no barrier to love.

The Next Generation

I often try to explain why my wife and I live where we do. But it really comes down to living as close to wildness as we can. I realize that now. What makes it easier is that so many wild creatures don't mind living near us — so near that we hardly think of them as wild any more.

Saturday, April 29, 2006


The Real Cost Of A Bag Of Salad: You Pay 99p. Africa Pays 50 Litres Of Fresh Water

To you it is a bag of salad, dropped into the supermarket trolley with the weekly groceries. But to farmers in Kenya starved of the water extracted by large scale agriculture to grow it, it may spell destitution.

Tech & Science

Alphabets Are As Simple As...

Writing systems may look very different, but they all use the same basic building blocks of familiar of natural shapes.


American Pie

Almost every American food — from egg foo yung to empanadas — is covered in the phone book under the generic heading "Restaurants." Only pizza stands alone.

The Chef Will Serve You Now

The room, with flickering candles, exposed brick and dark wood, is romantic. It feels extremely relaxing — at least until you ask whether you might be able to nibble on a salad while you decide whether you'd like the duck or the snapper.


Bedtime Stories Become Just Fairy Tales

According to a survey, parents start out reading to small children but abandon it as they grow up, to the point where just 3% of children aged 12 say they are read to every day.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Troubled Island

In Jamaica, where politicians are openly homophobic and song lyrics incite violence against gay people, coming out can be fatal.


You, To, Can Right Like A Blogger

Were Truman Capote alive today he might be moved to say, "That's not writing. That's blogging."

Do They Really Want The Part?

The actors who play terrorists, suicide bombers and hijackers in this new crop of films are caught in a delicate predicament: The very things they find attractive in playing these parts — three dimensional characters, understandable motivations, the occasional love interest — also open up their films to criticism for humanizing individuals that some consider monsters.

Never Mind Mars And Venus: WHo Is 'The Decider'?

The president has unwitingly added to the lexicon of marital relations.

A Blog Smorgasbord

A new blog is created every second of every day, according to Dvid L. Sifrey, the founder of Technorati, a web site that tracks the blogosphere, keeping tabs on 36.5 million blogs. Perhaps a thousand of those are devoted to food, with several popular sites based in the Seattle area.

Good Enough To Fine

While the inspector is mandated to have a single-minded focus on the Department of Health's taste-illing rules, a good chef is driven by many concerns — the health and well-being of her customer paramount among them — and it is in her hands that I would rather entrust my eating experiences.


Comedy Of Errors No Joke As Pupils Get Wrong A-Level Text

Airbus Denies Standing Room 'Seats'

"Our passengers nd customers want more and more comfort. We're going in the direction of more comfort."

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


In Praise Of Loopholes

There's something to be said for working smarter, and not harder, and humans have been looking for — and finding — loopholes to enable it for centuries.


While You Were Out Of Town

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Tech & Science

After The Adoption, A New Child And The Blues

Post-adoption depression is recognized among adoption professionals, but there is no research on the syndrome. It is not adequately addressed by many adoption agencies, say experts, and is not widely understood by the public, including those who embark on adoption.


At U.S. Entries, No Welcome Mat

A business traveler from Germany got my attention when he described what travel to the United States could be like these days. "Before unification, I was treated better at the checkpoints going into East Germany."

One Day, That Economy Ticket May Buy You A Place To Stand

The airlines have come up with a new answer to an old question: How many passengers can be squeezed into economy class? A lot more, it turns out, especially if an idea still in the early stage should catch on: standing-room-only "seats."


An Afternoon

Monday, April 24, 2006


Learning On Their Own Terms

Maryland school with no curriculum challenges conventions of modern education.

The Writing Life

As a writer, the worst two things that ever happened to me were, number one: I had a happy childhood. Number two: I belong to the absolute and utter majority. Perhaps this is why I ended up writing about sports.

Sunday, April 23, 2006


The Party's Over

Few events evoke such reminiscences more than book parties. And while they certainly still take place — giving writers and editors a chnace to eye one another warily across crowded rooms — book parties are decidedly not what they once were.

In Search Of A Secular, Nonsectarian Time

In a city ever more constricted by religious fundamentalism and terror, the Hunting Club, and its older cousin, the Alwiya, have become islands of relative safety and hedonism.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Happy Days Are Here Again — Or Are They?

Americans are fed up with George Bush's Republicans. But the Democrats look far from invincible.


Eat Less, Live More

How to live longer — maybe.

Philips And Time Inc. Agree To Keep It Simple

Finding the table of contents in a magazine usually means flipping through ads. Now one advertiser is turning that system on its head.

Friday, April 21, 2006


Elizabeth The Last

The Queen, who is 80 today, is the best thing about the monarchy: constant, reassuring and one of the most accomplished politicians of our age. But the institution is finished, and Elizabeth could well be all that's keeping it alive.


Policing The N-Word

When Secrest asked me what I personally thought of the word, I told her that it was a very bad word and should not, in theory, be used because black Americans still sufer from poverty, underfunded and overcrowded schools, police violence, job discrimination, and so on. But despite all this, I felt the word was out of my control.


How I landed onstage with my husband, and what I did about it.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Confronting The New Misanthropy

The big question today is not whether humans will survive the twenty-first century, but whether our faith in humanity will survive it.


The Latest Trend In Titless? We Can't Print It

If Mark Twain once said that every household should have a room to swear in, these days the habit is completely out of the closet.

China's New Home Life

Guan Yi, a self-taught architect, is one of a group of artists and designers with varying levels of formal training who are changing the definition of the Chinese house one idiosyncratic project at a time.

Edible Bouquets: Giving That Special Person A Taste Of Your Feelings

When flowers don't seem quite right for the occasion, givers can opt for a growing number of bouquets that are both beautiful and edible.

This Is My Last Entry: Why I Shut Down My Blog

Somewhere between the bedsheets and 6 a.m., I realized something: Blogging wasn't helping me write; it was keeping me from it.


Are You A Poet And Don't Know It?

We asked kids to finish popular nursery rhymes. Here are some of them.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Your IM Status Can Say It All

You don't have to actually send a note to communicate by instant message. Availability icons or away messages can be quite revealing.

How Much Do Chefs Really Make?

Celebrities aside, the short answer is: less than you might think.



I Hold You Harmless

Bush's War

Eating The Peach

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Ruined Treasures In Babylon Await An Iraq Without Fighting

In this ancient city, it is hard to tell what are ruins and what's just ruined.

The Case Against Coke

In the past two years the Coke campaign has grown into the largest anticorporate movement since the campaign against Nike for sweatshop abuses.


Weaving A Tangled Web

"Thumbsucker" author Walter Kirn takes on technology in an online novel for slate. If Big Brother had a blog, he would be its webmaster.

The Lonely Planet Guide To My Apartment

WILDLIFE: The dog's name is Sadie. Don't touch her.


One Year On, 300 Miles Still To Go. 'I've Lost 130lb - That's A Whole Girlfriend'

What started as a personal trek across America becomes a national phenomenon.

Monday, April 17, 2006


Steal This Newspaper

At some point — perhaps when reporters are denied access to newspaper — publishers are saying something else to their employees and their readers: What you're holding has no value.

Up With Grups

He owns eleven pairs of sneakers, hasn't worn anything but jeans in a year, and won't shut up about the latest Death Cab for Cutie CD. But he is no kid. He is among hte ascendant breed of grown-up who has redefined adulthood as we once knew it and killed off the generation gap.

Elvis Has Left The Building. Now 30,000 Impersonators May Have To Go As Well

In a move that has made the ranks of the lookalikes queasier than the thought of a deep-fried peanut butter and banana sandwich, a New York businessman has bought the rights to Elvis's name and likeness and has threatened to ban "unauthorised" Elvis clones.

Becoming 'Flexitarian'

Carnivores are learning, it's easier than ever to embrace vegetarian food.

Life In The DVD Lane

I was all "save the children from too much TV." One more place to watch was one place too many, I figured.

Wristwatches Get The Back Of The Hand

Is time running out for the wristwatch?

Sunday, April 16, 2006


Confessions Of A Tourist: It's Only Rock'n'roll, But I Like It

As souvenirs go, the tape surely beats an I (heart) New York T-shirt.

New York Leads Politness Trend? Get Outta Here!

Somehow a city whose residents have long been scorned for their churlish behavior is now being praised for adopting rules and laws that govern personal conduct, making New York an unlikely model for legislating courtesy and decorum.

Saturday, April 15, 2006


Why Stars Name Babies Moxie, Moses And Apple

Skeptics scoff at the mad rush by stars to come up with exotic baby names as another means for the attention-hungry to grab headlines. But psychologists and others who have worked with high-profile performers say that the naming of children can function as a window into a psyche.

Junk-Food Jihad: Should We Regulate French Fries Like Cigarettes?

So, we've found a new enemy: obesity.

A Sour Note On Modern Times

Next time you feel the squeeze, stop. Put on that CD of Beethoven's Sixth languishing in your stacks. Listen to the entire symphony.

Working Girls, Broken Society

While the benefits of career equality are axiomatic, its negative repercussions are wilfully ignored.

Mi, A Name I Call Myself. And You Are?

Nicknames have been around for centuries, even before Shakespeare was scribbling iambic pentameter with an inky quill. But the process of acquiring a nickname was changed by the advent of e-mail in the 1980's.

Friday, April 14, 2006


The Vanishing Of A Tropical Nation

Rising seas are swamping the 33-island republic of Kiribati. Where will its 100,000 inhabitants go when their country becomes uninhabitable?


Publishers' Solution To Slow Sales: My Story (And His, Too)

Everyone has a story, whether it's a family of Dumpster-divers, a nun who had an affair with a priest, or a self-mutilating teenager. Now, however, there are more publishers willing to put out these personal histories as memoirs.


And It Goes Like This: 0-1-1-2-3-5-8

To write a Fib, a more complicated version of the classic, highly constrained haiku, the poet composes a six-line poem that has the correct number of syllables in each line corresponding to each digit in the Fibonacci sequence.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


The Manly Myth

What makes a real man? Hollywood and Harvard answer it different ways.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Obscene Word Now Often Seen And Heard

Are we ushering in the era of f—? Has hte word become acceptable in polite society?

The B-Team: After 'Airplane!' The Spoof Flickmakers Really Took Off. Scary.

That jiggling, he says, "as like a first taste of forbidden fruit." The "nonstop hilariousness." The gladiator jokes. "It was the discovery of how to do the spoof."

Want To Improve Your Marriage? Leave The House

The key to a happy union is to go make yourself miserable, then come home.


The Nurse And The Black Lagoon

Usually My Dreams Mean Nothing

Sanctuary In The Dome City



Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Word Count: Are There Really 988,968 Words In The English Language?

The problem with trying to number the words in any language is that it's very hard to agree on the basics.


The Trojan Sofa

Monday, April 10, 2006


The Iran Plans

Would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb?


When Will We Stop Saying 'First Woman To _____'?

There will now be a female solo anchor. But there are stil few women successfully leading the cornerstone institutions of our society. Maybe Katie Couric will become one of them. But unlike Walter Cronkite, I don't envy her.

Where Have All The Strivers Gone?

Imagine if literary novelists stopped writing about love and sex. We'd notice, wouldn't we? Yet that's exactly what happened to ambition, which used to be one of their great subjects.

Eat This Book

It's a pity street fights don't end with spelling bees or the consummation of a hot date doesn't depend on proper conjugation. Studies in literature are their own reward. However, fries are usually free.

Pro-Life Nation

There are other countries int he world that, like El Salvador, completely ban abortion. El Salvador, however, has not only a total ban on abortion but also an active law-enforcement apparatus — the police, investigators, medical spies, forensic vagina inspectors and a special division of the prosecutor's office responsible for Crimes Against Minors and Women, a unit charged with capturing, trying and incarcerating an unusual kind of criminal. Like the woman I was waiting to meet.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


America's Blinders

What is the idea of our moral superiority based on?

Saturday, April 8, 2006

Tech & Science

We're Sick Of Being Shy

Is bashfulness a personality disorder? Or are we in danger of medicalising a harmless trait?


Satirist Defies End To Resurrect Career

He has been refusing dialysis for weeks and doctors are baffled as to why he is not dead but Art Buchwald is finding new fame, and fun, in the process.

Music With Your T, Berklee Students Ask

T commuters have raised ignoring their surroundings to an art form: They hurry to work, head down, noses buried in books, ears plugged by iPods, achieving as little human contact as possible. But yesterday, things were different, even friendlier, at the Orange Line's New England Medical Center stop.

Testing The Bounds Of MySpace

A writer learns a lot from an experiment with the popular social networking site — especially about her 13-year-old daughter.

Friday, April 7, 2006


The Joys Of Rising From The Cultural Dead: Are HBO Shows Best Experienced On DVD?

HBO's recent evolution from a place where you could watch Strange Brew 12 times a day into a gushing fountainhead of televisual high art has made my life complicated.

The Dirty Word In 43 Down: A New York Times Crossword Gaffe

So, how did "scumbag" make it into the puzzle? Simple: No one realized it could be offensive. Evidence suggests that many people, especially younger speakers, are unaware of the sexual meaning.

Dancers As Living Archives

Dancers are the living archives of dance history. Long after they leave the stage, in their minds and muscles they hold the memory of form, rhythm, mood, and intent, constituting an irreplaceable resource for performances, historians, and frequently the choreographers themselves.

The Last Picture Show

Afterward, on my way out of the theater, I asked if I could speak to the manager. She turned out to be on maternity leave. I asked if I could speak to the assistant manager. There was no assistant manager on dutyr. So I ended up with my old friend, the ticker taker. I told her that the last reel of the movie we had just seen was out of sync and that they might want to fix it before the next show began. She promised me they would.

When You're Late For The Overture

Late-comer policies are surprisingly varied, and considerable thought is given to them.

Thursday, April 6, 2006


20 Years After Meltdown, Life Returns To Chernobyl

The world's worst nuclear accident created a radiation-soaked wasteland. But nature has pushed its way through the cracked concrete.

Tech & Science

Discovered: The Missing Link That Solves A Mystery Of Evolution

Scientists have made one of the most important fossil finds in history: a missing link between fish and land animals, showing how creatures first walked out of the water and on to dry land more than 375m years ago.


With This Ethical Ring I Thee Wed

As the outsize environmental impact of gold mining has been exposed, jewelers have been trying to inoculate themselves against a consumer backlash. It is not here yet, but many people say it is sure to come.

Families With Full Plates, Sitting Down To Dinner

After decades of decline in the simple ritual of family dinners, there is evidence that many families are making the effort to gather at the dinner table.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Tech & Science

The Evolution Of Clots

Intelligent Design is the logic of ignorance — complex life, such as the machinery of blood clotting, can be explained by Darwinism.


Do Apple Slices Make The Grade?

A little plastic bag filled with New York apple slices is a symbol of change in the city's school cafeterias. The question is whether it's a change for better or worse.

Looking For Poetry In The Newsroom, And Found It

For David Tucker, an assistant managing editor of the Metro section of The Star-Ledger of Newark, there is poetry in the maligned and grimy practice of journalism.

Everything Is In Sequence. So?

01:02:03 on 04/05/06. Eerie? Transcendental? A harbinger of fire and brimstone?


Past Lives


The Unfortunates

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Tech & Science

April 18, 1906

Lessons from the earthquake that shook the world.


Living On Impulse

For scientists who study mental illness and addiction, impulsive behavior — the tendency to act or react with little thought — has emerged as an all-purpose plague.

Puzzles, Origamii And Other Mind-Twisters

Solving puzzles often means seeing double — an experience singularly magical. And afterwards, one returns to daily life — absurdly confident that some day it too will begin to make sense.


In The Reign Of Harad IV

Monday, April 3, 2006


The Love Left Behind

What will it take to keep mothers and their children from crossing the border?


The World Record-Breaking Capital

The strongest hair! The youngest sumo wrestler! The longest pencil! In Malaysia, making your mark — any mark — is a matter of national pride.

A Dark Day Revisited

Five years later, Hollywood is betting that America is ready for films about what happened on 9/11. Are we?

Techno Thriller

'The Unbinding,' Slate's serialized 'Net nozel' being written and posted 'in real time' by Walter Kirn, raises intriguing possibilities for the future of fiction. But is it a future we really want?


Things I Want Back From You

Sunday, April 2, 2006


Golden Girls

There are blondes everywhere. But in New York, a city that thrives on symbols, they are often a breed apart.

Critical Intimacy

Comparing the paradoxical obituaries of Susan Sontag.

Heaven's Gate

Will gaining admission to one of the nation's elite colleges guarantee a prosperous future — or just a mountain of debt?

Saturday, April 1, 2006


Unhappy Endings

Imagine you have written a book detailing your parents' relationship: how they met, married, divided and divorced. With their permission you used their notebooks, diaries and letters to track the course of their lives. You wrote down your conclusions and sold them to a publisher. Then your parents read the book for the first time and told you what they thought of it — and you. How would you feel? I have an idea, becuase I did exactly that. And I was terrified.

Not Tonight Darling, I'm Online

Can it be true that a great swathe of the UK population is spending its spare moments surfing for naked flesh and, if so, what effect might that have on the nation's collective psyche? What does it say about our emotional lives?

The Writing Problems Of Visual Thinkers

This exploratory paper pleads for better understanding of the thinking processes that produce such writing problems and the development of new ways of teaching writing that directly address visual thinkers.

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