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April 30, 2007

When Seeing Is Disbelieving

by Shankar Vedantam, Washington Post

Bush is not the first president to have convinced himself that something he wanted to believe was, in fact, true.

Saved By The (Later) Bell

by Lisa Prevost, Boston Globe

Ten school sin Massachusetts are testing a first-in-the-nation initiative to extend learning time. Believe it or not, the students (after initial grumbling) seem to like it, and so do their parents. Shouldn't every school rethink its schedule?

Young, Gifted, And Not Getting Into Harvard

by Michael Winerip, New York Times

I came to understand that my own focus on Harvard was a matter of not sophistication but narrowness. I grew up in an unworldly blue-collar enviornment,. Getting perfect grades and attending an elite colleage was one of the few ways up I could see.

April 29, 2007

Define "Free" Speech

by Scott Adams, Dilbert Blog

Suppose there was a hit song that caused 80% of its listeners kill themselves. Should that song be banned, or would you argue that free speech is more important?

For $82 A Day, Booking A Cell In A 5-Star Jail

by Jennifer Steinhauer, New York Times

For offenders whose crimes are usually relatively minor (carjackers should not bother) and whose bank accounts remain lofty, a dozen or so city jails across the state offer pay-to-stay upgrades. Theirs are a clean, quiet, if not exactly recherche alternative to the standard county jails, where the walls are bars, the fellow inmates are hardened and privileges are few.

April 28, 2007

All Alone On Alcatraz - At Night

by John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times

Perhaps worse than being in a prison with killers is sharing the island with no one but their ghosts.

Misery Lit... Read On

by Brendan O'Neill, BBC News

The bestseller lists are full of memoirs about miserable childhoods and anguished families. Waterstone's even has a "Painful Lives" shelf. Why are authors confessing their hurt so freely and do readers find morbid enjoyment in them?

Fields Of Memory

by Joel Brouwer, New York Times

A fun game for poetry nerds: read the first line or sentence of a favorite poet's first book, and image it as a summary of the writer's entire career. This works more ofthen you might think.

Touring The Spirit World

by Ethan Todras-Whitehill, New York Times

New Age-style sacred travel, or metaphysical touring, is a growing branch of tourism, particularly in countries like Egypt with strong ancient-civilization pedigress.

15 Things Kurt Vonnegut Said Better Than Anyone Else Ever Has Or Will

by Scott Gordon, Josh Modell, Noel Murray, Sean O'Neal, Tasha Robinson, Kyle Ryan, A.V. Club

"Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly; Man got to sit and wonder, 'Why, why, why?' Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land; Man got to tell himself he understand."

Journalism's Greatest Generation

by Richard Reeves, Yahoo!

We lost our way, and now we have lost a man who helped us find a better way.

Goodbye, Baghdad

by Riverbend, Salon

I'm finally leaving Iraq. But it's hard to decide which is more frightening: Car bombs and militias, or leaving everything you know and love.

The Lost Boys

by Adam Gopnik, The Guardian

The fable-like story of a teenager who falls in love at first sight with a beautiful girl, only to spend the rest of his life searching for her. Le Grand Meaulnes is one of the msot admired novels in French literature.

April 27, 2007

Where No-Frills Fast Food (The Real Thing) Was Born

by Joel Keller, New York Times

New Jersey may be the diner capital of the world, but Rhode Island is the diner's birthplace.

All This Fretting About Kids' TV Is A Real Turnoff

by Tim Goodman, San Francisco Chronicle

Since this is TV-Turnoff Week — one of the most reactionary, ill-advised movements in memory — now is the perfect time to better understand the hot-button issue of kids and television. "Teletubbies," for many people, was a flash point.

The New Book Burning

by Art Winslow, Huffington Post

In the new book burning we don't burn books, we burn discussion of them instead. I am referring to the ongoing collapse of book review sections at American newspapers, which has accelerated in recent months, an intellectual brownout in progress that is beginning to look like a rolling blackout instead.

High Infidelity

by Caroline Leavitt, New York Magazine

Me, my ex, his siter, her ex, and his shrink. A true story about lies, in which no one escapes unscathed.

The Bearable Lightness Of Being

by Taylor Dinerman, Wall Street Journal

Scientific heavyweight Stephen Hawking experiences weightlessness.

Up, Up And... Never Mind

by Matthew L. Wald, New York Times

Plenty of people still go to school hoping for a job at the airlines flying the big jets, but experts fear that the hobbyist, who flies as an alternative to golf or boating, or perhaps to take the family 100 miles to a beach or maybe just an obscure restaurant, is disappearing.

April 26, 2007

Giving Life To Found Objects, Two By Two

by Jori Finkel, New York Times

The doe and other animals preside over the entrance of a new 8,000-square-foot exhibition space here at the Skirball Cultural Center, really a children's museum that takes the form of Noah's Ark.

April 25, 2007

Critical Mass

by Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed

We have something in common: It is very easy for others to take what we do for granted. As far as most civilians are concerned, printed matter is generated by parthenogenesis, then distributed across the land like the spores of a ripe dandelion, transmitted by the wind.

We know better. We do what we can with our shrinking budgets — secure in the knowledge that the work itself is worthwhile, if not always secure in much else.

Violence All Around Us, And We're Numb

by Steven Winn, San Francisco Chronicle

It occurred to me, as I was sitting through "Grindhouse," that it might be a kind of Mannerist work, a late-stage, extravagantly self-referential indulgence in violence turning back on itself and consuming its own tail. Maybe, I thought, this is a Moment in movie history. I don't really believe that, but it was pleasing to think about it for a while, when the blood was covering a helicopter windshield or another skull was split wide open by a bullet.

New Planet Could Be Earthlike, Scientists Say

by Dennis Overbye, New York Times

The most enticing property yet found outside our solar system is about 20 light-years away in the constellaton Libra, a team of European astronomers said yesterday.

Foie Gras Makers Struggle To Please Critics And Chefs

by Juliet Glass, New York Times

Producers are trying to use more humane methods to fatten the livers of geese and still satisfy chefs.

In-Flight Couplets Composed During A Bomb Alert

by Alfred Corn, Slate

This Little Piggy

by Heather Havrilevsky, Salon

With Alex Baldwin's latest travails, the world wonders, "What's so wrong about name-calling, stupid?"

If You Want To Know If Spot Loves You So, It's In His Tail

by Sandra Blakeslee, New York Times

When dogs feel fundamentally positive about something or someone, their tails wag more to the right side of their rumps. When they have negative feelings, their tail wagging is biased to the left.

April 24, 2007

Why The British Killed King Leer

by Charles Isherwood, New York Times

It's embarrassing to admit now, but there was a time in my life when I preferred the cheesy antics of "The Benny Hill Show" to the more rarefield silliness of "Monty Python's Flying Circus."

The Oldest Story Ever Written

by Laura Miller, Salon

How an ancient epic full of sex,violence and a pre-biblical flood got lost and found, and how its legacy lives on in "Lethal Weapon."

In Praise Of Difficult Poetry

by Robert Pinsky, Slate

The much-maligned art.

April 23, 2007

Why Do Straight Hate Gays?

by Larry Kramer, Los Angeles Times

Dear straight people, why do you hate gay people so much?

The Room

by Stephen Dunn, New Yorker

Beagle Or Something

by April Bernard, New Yorker

The Way We Age Now

by Atul Gawande, New Yorker

Medicine has increased the ranks of the elderly. Can it make old age any easier?

After The Movie

by Richard Rayner, New Yorker

Homer's Big-Scren Odyssey

by Sean Smith, Newsweek

'The Simpsons' is a sitcom legend. Now it's coming to a theater near you.

The Politics Of Prose

by Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

Most books by politicians are, at bottom, acts of salesmanship: efforts to persuade, beguile or impress the reader, efforts to rationalize past misdeeds and inoculate the author against future accusations. And yet beneath the sales pitch are clues — in the author's voice, use of language, stylistic tics and self-presentation — that provide some genuine glimpses of the personalities behind the public personas. In short, when candidates decide to publish, they can still run, but they can't hide — at least not entirely.

April 22, 2007

The Iron Archives

by Rachel Donadio, New York Times

Since the end of the cold war, historians have mined the Russian archives for insights into the nature of the Soviet empire and its global reach. But after a golden age in the early 1990s, archival access eroded.

April 21, 2007

Don't Assume The Worst

by David J. Garrow, New York Times

Pro-choice doctors — and their lawyers — must have the courage to take Justice Kennedy at his word and read this decision's explicit approval of all abortion procedures save on ein a manner that will most expansively continue to protect women's reproductive rights.

But What Kind Of Art?

by David Bordwell

We have different conceptions of cinema's artistic dimensions, and we won't find unanimity of opinion among filmmakers, critics, academics, or audiences.

Make This Earth Day Your Last!

by Alex Steffen and Sarah Rich, WorldChanging

Earth Day has served its time, and it must go.

April 20, 2007

What Are First Editions Worth?

by Sam Jordison, The Guardian

There's plenty of money to be made from them, but the genuine value of such fetishised rarities is hard to discern.

April 19, 2007

D.C. Needs To Capitalize On Its City-Like Qualities

by Philip Kennicott, Washington Post

First there was an idea, and then a plan. Then, over the course of Washington's first century of existence, there was a lot of buildings, a living-up-to the plan and a filling in of empty space. And with the 20th century, there was finally a city of sorts, though it's not clear if Washington really thinks of itself in those terms. What we have here is an identity crisis, a failure of urbanity.

London Street Markets Reborn: Vendors Are Evolving To Reflect City Dwellers' Taste For Foods That Are Diverse And In Season

by Beth Gardiner, Los Angeles Times

The city is booming, brimming with a new confidence. Its street markets are some of the best places to see the rapid evolution up close.

In The New Dating Scene, The Attraction Is A Beautiful Mind

by Anthony Faiola, Washington Post

Gray matter is the new black of the hip social scene.

But What If You Get Hit By A Taxi?

by David Colman, New York Times

Novelty underwear, for decades the butt of jokes and the joke of butts, has, in the last two to three years, turned into a serious business.

Delhi Snacks Move Up From The Street

by Somini Sengupta, New York Times

As income rise and ways of eating change, the inevitable has happened. Street food, that emblem of raucous, messy, urban India, is slowly being tamed.

The Insidious Rise Of Cosmo-Cuisine

by Salma Abdelnour, Food & Wine

The cuisines of the world are merging into one giant, amorphous mass. The problem is, too many chefs worldwide are creating menus that flit across so many borders and reference so many traditions that they — and we — lose any sense of place.

April 18, 2007

Virginia Tech Professor Gave His Life TO Save Students

by Richard T. Cooper and Valerie Reitman, Los Angeles Times

Liviu Librescu had survived the Holocaust. He died Monday holding the classroom door shut against a youthful gunman.

April 17, 2007

How To Be An Asparagus Superhero

by Phoebe Nobles, Salon

Raw, steamed, roasted, grilled: For two months straight, I ate asparagus like I was savoring each minute of spring.

Civil Twilight

by Terri Witek, Slate

Know Thyself - Man, Rat Or Bot

by Sharon Begley, Newsweek

Can animals and robots be self-aware?

To My Soul

by Jean Valentine, New Yorker

Something Like Happy

by John Burnside, New Yorker

April 16, 2007

The New Abstraction

by Barbara A. MacAdam, ARTnews

True, it never really went away. But abstraction is in the midst of a revival, flaunting its brilliant past as it reconfigures itself for the future.

I Think Not

by J.R. Moehringer, Los Angeles Times

Throughout the evolution of western civlization, the tie was the sign of a gentleman. Now it's a date-killer.

Opening Too Wide

by Jeanne Marie Laskas, Washington Post

Maybe it's time for all of us to shut our mouths.

April 14, 2007

A Do-It-Yourself Quantum Eraser

by Rachel Hillmer and Paul Kwiat, Scientific American

Using readily available equipment, you can carry out a home experiment that illustrates one of the weirdest effects in quantum mechanics.

April 13, 2007

Tangled Up In Seuss

by Dan Brekke, Salon

When a musician recorded "Green Eggs and Ham" in the voice of vintage Bob Dylan and posted it online, the Grinch estate promptly replied: One fish, two fish, cease and desist.

The Narrow Road

by Leland McInnes, The Narrow Road

Mathematics has become hopelessly detail oriented.

Lonesome Highway To Another World?

by Stephen Regenold, New York Times

Nevada State Route 375 bisects a wide basin, coursing northbound before disappearing into a haze of nothingness beyond.

This is Alien Country, where more U.F.O.'s are sighted each year than at any other place on the planet, at least according to Larry Friedman of the Nevada Commission on Tourism.

Our Prejudices, Ourselves

by Harvey Fierstein, New York Times

What I am really enjoying is watching the rest of you act as if you had no idea that prejudice was alive and well in your hearts and minds.

April 12, 2007

Why We Need Another Book Prize

by John Fraser, Globe And Mail

There's never enough to be done for the beleaguered world of books.

To Fight Global Warming, Some Hang A Clothesline

by Kathleen A. Hughes, New York Times

If all Americans line-dried for just half a year, it would save 3.3% of the country's total residential output of carbon dioxide, experts say.

How Did The Universe Survive The Big Bang? In This Experiment, Clues Remain Elusive

by Kenneth Chang, New York Times

An experiment that some hoped would reveal a new class of subatomic particles, and perhaps even point to clues about why the universe exists at all, has instead produced a first round of results that are mysteriously inconclusive.

Unnatural Selections

by Barry Schwartz, New York Times

What T.G.I.Friday's can tell us about mammograms.

Boomer Boomerang

by Robert J. Samuelson, Washington Post

Cassandra Devine knows how to solve the coming "entitlements" crisis, preordained when the 77 million baby boomers begin hitting 65 in 2011: Pay retirees to kill themselves, a program she calls "transitioning." Volunteers could receive a lavish vacation beforehand ("a farewell honeymoon"), courtesy of the government, and their heirs would be spared the estate tax. If only 20 percent of boomers select suicide before the age of 70, she says, "Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid will be solvent. End of crisis."

A Victim Of Its Own Success?

by Russ Parsons, Los Angeles Times

Is progress taking the farmers out of farmers markets? And is that a bad thing?

April 11, 2007

The Perfect Bacon Sandwich Decoded: Crisp And Crunchy

by Alan Cowell, New York Times

Should it be slithery or scrunchy, glutinous or grilled? The answer, British scientists say, may be divined by a formula: N = C + {fb(cm) . fb(tc)} + fb(Ts) + fc. ta.

Iraq: Why The Media Failed

by Gary Kamiya, Salon

Afraid to challenge America's leaders or conventional wisdom about the Middle East, a toothless press collapsed.

April 10, 2007

'Shhh' — The One Thing You Won't Hear In A Library

by Sarah Miller, Los Angeles Times

Sure, times have changed, but can't people shut off their cellphones and quiet down for a little while?

A Volcano

by Daniel Tobin, Slate

The Countless Achievements Of A Math Master

by Daivd Brown, Washington Post

If one is not a mathematician (and except for a few of you out there, who is?), it's going to be impossible to actually understand why Euler was such a great man. Other people will have to tell us, and we should probably believe them.

Birds Do It. Bees Do It. People Seek The Keys To It.

by Natalie Angier, New York Times

Universal does not mean uniform, and the definition sof sexual desire can be as quirky and personalized as the very chromosomal combinations that sexual reproduction will yield.

The United States

by C. K. Williams, New Yorker

Burial Rites

by Philip Levine, New Yorker

The Stolen Pigeons

by Marguerite Duras, New Yorker

April 9, 2007

Novel Gazing

by James Parker, Boston Globe

The writer's guide as self-help genre.

April 8, 2007

Pearls Before Breakfast

by Gene Weingarten, Washington Post

Can one of the nation's great musicians cut through the fog of a D.C. rush hour? Let's find out.

April 7, 2007

Can Wiki Travel?

by Tim Wu, Slate

Touring Thailand with only the internet as my guide.

April 6, 2007

Half Rack

by Trisha Ready, The Stranger

I lost my breast and my nephew to cancer, but not my bullshit detector.

Mommy And Daddy's Little Life Coach

by Stephanie Rosenbloom, New York Times

Parents have long depended on their children to be in-house experts on fashion, technology and pop culture, to introduce them to fresh music, purge their closets of ghastly apparel and troubleshoot household electronics.But the nature and pervasiveness of child-to-parent advice has reached new proportions for a variety of reasons.

April 5, 2007

The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is The 'Culture Of Fear' Itself

by Frannk Furedi, Spiked

Fear plays a key role in twenty-first century consciousness. Increasingly, we seem to engage with various issues through a narrative of fear. You could see this trend emerging and taking hold in the last century, which was frequently described as an 'Age of Anxiety'. But in recent decades, it has become more and better defined, as specific fears have been cultivated.

Your Room Is Booked

by Carol McCabe, Washington Post

I should have called ahead. By the time I checked in, Journalism was gone, as was Geography and Travel. The choice was down to Germanic Languages or Philosophy. That's how I came to spend a recent night in Room 1100.003, in the company of Messrs. Kant, Hegel, Voltaire and Sartre, with George Soros lying on the nightstand.

The Mystery Of Easter Island

by Whitney Dangerfield, Smithsonian Magazine

New findings rekindle old debates about when the first people arrived and why their civilization collapsed.

April 4, 2007

Farewell, French Fries! Hello, Sliced Apples!

by Kim Severson, New York Times

From a policy perspective, Mr Bloomberg has taken on more food issues, and provoked more controversy, than any New York mayor before him. As a result, he has the potential to change the way more New Yorkers eat — whether in the haughtiest dining rooms or the poorest home kitchens — than all the city's food activists and restaurant critics combined.

High School Is More Than Their Love; It's Become Their Vocation

by Mitchell Landsberg, Los Angeles Times

So it is slightly surprising to walk into Steve Wilson's class at 6.35 a.m. and find 32 students not only present and awake but also barely able to contain their enthusiasm over the start of another school day.

First Passion

by Mary Kinzie, New Yorker

Lincoln's Dream

by Dan Chiasson, New Yorker


by Don DeLillo, New Yorker

The Miracle Of My Mother's Easter Pies

by Elvira Brody, Newsweek

When my mother died, we weren't expecting a fortune. Then we looked in the back of her freezer.

Time In The Animal Mind

by Carl Zimmer, New York Times

A number of psychologists argue that re-experiencing the past evolved in our ancetors as a way to plan for the future and the rise of mental time travel was crucial to our species' success. But some experts on animal behavior do not thnk we are unique in this respect. They point to several recent experiments suggesting that animals can visit the past and future as well.

April 3, 2007

Classical Music Looks Toward China With Hope

by Joseph Kahn and Daniel J. Wakin, New York Times

With the same energy, drive and sheer population weight that has made it an economic power, China has become a considerable force in Western classical music.

Public's Taste For Nonfiction Has Publishers Playing Fast And Loose With Labels

by Oscar Villalon, San Francisco Chronicle

All this legerdemain over categorizing books implies that there's something second-rate about writing and reading fiction.

Anger Management

by Dahlia Lithwick, Slate

Lessons from an imporable collaboration.

April 2, 2007

The Typing Life

by Joan Acocella, New Yorker

How writers used to write.

Urban Puzzle

by Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh, Boston Globe

The gentrification of rundown city neighborhoods conjures an image of well-off whites displacing poor minorities. What's actually going on is far more complex, and the winners and losers can be hard to predict.

For Cancer Patients, A Struggle To Prolong Hope As Well As Life

by David Brown, Washington Post

Why is it that Americans speak of trying to whip cancer, show courage in the face of it, and die after a long battle against it? Why at the same time do we tel ourselves cancer is the new diabetes, a chronic disease we can have for a lifetime?

Starbucks Nation

by Dan Neil, Los Angeles Times

In an odd and, I grant, surreal way. Starbucks may be one of the last remaining venues where Americans of different views can fraternize peaceably, united in their jonesing for caffeine.

Overcome By Overdrive

by Nora Isaacs, San Francisco Chronicle

My book reading across town started at 6:30. At 6:35 I was still stuck in traffic. So many things had gone wrong during the promotion of this book that I couldn't help feeling that the gods were putting me through some sadistic test. For my book party, the cartons of books got reouted and remained in a storage truck in South San Francisco. During a radio interview, an old roommate with a grudge called in. Earlier that month, my laptop was stolen, and with it, all of the contacts I needed to get this book tour going.

The title of my book? "Women in Overdrive: Find Balance and Overcme Burnout at Any Age." The irony was not lost on me.


by Ann Hulbert, New York Times

Can China create schools that foster openness, flexibility and innovation? And what happens to China if it does?

Beaten To The Punch Line

by Paul Farhi, Washington Post

Most every comic deals with aspects of the job such as constant travel. And working nights in boozy joints. And the nonexistent job security, wildly variable pay and isolation from friends and family. But for female comics, there's also the facet of being in a culture — and a business — that's uneasy with the idea of a woman generating laughter.

April 1, 2007

Bringing Back The Sunday Dinner

by Mark Bittman, New York Times

Whether the setting is a formal dining room or a breakfast nook, whether the food is prime rib or eggplant Parmesan, it is the presence of loved ones in a drawn-out, laid-back, barrier-breaking atmosphere that really counts.

The Grill And The Glory

by Steve Hendrix, Washington Post

A hard-core competitor on the professional barbecue circuit attempts to persuade a bunch of amateurs to award him the prize he covets most.

By Heng-Cheong Leong