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May 30, 2007

Telling Lies Over Good Soldiers' Graves

by Garrison Keillor, Salon

Dishonesty has gutted the last patriotic holiday that means something.

A Fresh Look At The Value Of Dried Fruit

by Charles Stuart Platkin, Seattle Times

Have you ever tried dried cherries? Wow, are they good.

How The Body (And Mind) Learns A Dance

by Diane Solway, Internationa Herald Tribune

Dancers call their ability to remember a wide range of steps, roles and styles, muscle memory. And while it obviously manifests itself physically as far as dance is concerned, what actually happens, according to neuroscientists, is that the movements become thoroughly mapped in the brain, creating a shorthand between thinking and doing.

If It Feels Good To Be Good, It Might Be Only Natural

by Shankar Vedantam, Washington Post

The results are showing, unexpectedly, that many aspects of morality appear to be hard-wired in the brain, most likely the result of evolutionary procsses that began in other species.

Don't Point That Menu At My Child, Please

by David Kamp, New York Times

I came to realization that America is in the grips of a nefarious chicken-finger pandemic, in which a blandly tasty foodstuff has somehow the de facto official nibble of our young.

The Concerts Found Onstage While Everyone Else Takes A Break

by Daniel J. Wakin, New York Times

Intermissions are a rare time when classical musicians can be heard improvising together.

In India, Grandma Cooks, They Deliver

by Saritha Rai, New York Times

In India, where many traditions are being rapidly overturned as a result of globalization, the practice of eating a home-cooked meal for lunch lives on.

To achieve that in this sprawling urban amalgamation of an estimated 25 million people, where long commutes by train and bus are routine, Mumbai residents rely on an intricately organized, labor-intensive operation that puts some automated high-tech systems to shame. It manages to deliver tens of thousands of meals to workplaces all over the city with near-clockwork precision.

May 29, 2007

Carl Kasell's Second Life

by Stevenson Swanson, Chiacgo Tribune

The baritone voice on 30 years of NPR newscasts does a mean Birtney Spears. Sort of.

Why Hollywood Is Getting Serious About 3-D

by Richard Siklos, New York Times

3-D is clearly coming into its own, and its cinematic aspect is just one element of technology's broader march toward a new era of make-believe super-realism.

Two Novembers

by Laura Van Prooyen, Slate

Homeland Security

by Marvin Bell, New Yorker


by Elizabeth Macklin, New Yorker

Never-Ending Birds

by David Baker, New Yorker


by William Trevor, New Yorker

May 28, 2007

Remember Susan Sontag

by David Rieff, VQR

In thinking of my mother now, more than a year after her death, I often find myself dwelling on that startling phrase in Auden's great memorial poem for Yeats—words that both sum up what small immortality artistic accomplishment sometimes can confer and are, simultaneously, such an extraordinary euphemism for extinction. Once dead, Yeats, Auden writes, "became his admirers."

The Big Gulp

by David Lansing, Los Angeles Times

High-end restaurants are rethinking bottled water, opting instead for the stuff with a distinctly local terroir.

A Labor Without End

by Phuong Ly, Washington Post

Ruth Lubic defied doctors to change the way American women give birth. After more than four decades, her work isn't close to being finished.

May 27, 2007

They Came, They Toured, They Offended

by Paul Vitello, New York Times

"Ugly" behavior in tourists is almost always in the eye of the people being toured; and Americans are no longer the only, or even the dominant group of toruists out in the world.

Standardizing The Standards

by Ann Hulbert, New York Times

School transformation can't be engineered by any test, which is two-dimensional tool at best. Still, a good national exam would spread well-fcused standards across state borders and spur progress.

May 26, 2007

The Known World

by Stven Pinker, New York Times

Though we live in an era of stunning scientific understanding, all too often the average educated person will have none of it. People who would sneer at the vulgarian who has never red Virginia Woolf will insouciantly bast of their ignorance of basic physics.

The costs of an ignorance of science are not just practical ones like misbegotten policies, forgone cures and a unilateral disarmament in national compettiveness. There is a moral cost as well.

May 25, 2007

The Other Einstein

by Lee Smolin, New York Review Of Books

Why more books on Albert Einstein?

This Really Is The End (Of My Manuscript)

by Sam Jordison, The Guardian

I've spent months working to reach this point, but finishing my book is a strangely ambivalent experience.

May 24, 2007

New Grub Street

by Christopher Shea, Columbia Journalism Review

How did ethics become a staple of contemporary food writing?

How We Almost Ate At Ye Waverly Inn

by Adam Roberts, Amateur Gourmet

I think I'll stick to burritos in Park Slope.

May 23, 2007

Author At Work

by Garrison Keillor, Salon

When it first strikes you that your book isn't going to be the next "Huck Finn," don't wallow in despair. Take a long walk.

A Happy Trio Of Recipes From The Lost & Found

by Bonny Wolf, Washington Post

I feel your pain. You pull out the cookbook stuffed with recipes torn from the newspaper and the backs of boxes, go to the spot where you know you tucked your favorite lavender lemon cake recipe, written on a scrap of brown paper bag. And it's gone.

Free To Be Al Gore

by E. J. Dionne Jr, Washington Post

Boy, it would be fun if Al Gore changed his mind and ran for president — fun for the voters, anyway. Imagine a canddiate whose preelection book is devoted in large part to an attack on the media for waging war on reason.

For The Love Of A Good Burger

by Mark Bittman, New York Times

I'm sure you know how to make a burger. But do you make a burger you love, one that people notice, one that draws raves?

Everything And The Kitchen Sink: The Memoir Of A Dishwasher

by Charles McGrath, New York Times

Pete Jordan washes dishes across the country in his new book, "Dishwasher: One Man's Quest to Wash Dishes in All 50 States."

May 22, 2007

The Ball Of Earth And Heaven

by Shea Stadium, Slate

This Is Your Life (And How You Tell It)

by Benedict Carey, New York Times

Every American may be working on a screenplay, but we are also continually updating a treatment of our own life — and the way in which we visualize each scene not only shapes how we think about ourselves, but how we behave, new studies find.

His First Objective: Write A Page-Turner

by Scott Timberg, Los Angeles Times

A little-known Nazi spy mission during the Battle of the Bulge inspires 'Twin Peaks' co-creator Mark Frost to emulate the World War II thrillers of yore.

Interviews, Going The Way Of The Linotype?

by Howard Kurtz, Washington Post

The humble interview, the linchpin of journalism for centuries, is under assault.

In Prison

by Jean Valentine, New Yorker


by George Saunders, New Yorker

The Mystery Of The Daytime Idle: Why Aren't You Working?

by Chris Colin, San Francisco Chronicle

Two mysteries have followed me well into adulthood: Does soaping yourself work underwater, and how come there are so many people out on the street all day, seemingly not working? Having pitched a work, and not a soap, column, I recently attempted to answer the latter.

May 21, 2007

Divine Comedy

by Julian Gough, Prospect Magazine

The Greeks understood that comedy (the gods' view of life) is superior to tragedy (the merely human). But since the middle ages, western culture has overvalued the tragic and undervalued the comic. This is why fiction today is so full of anxiety and suffering. It's time writers got back to the serious business of making us laugh.

Land Of The Giants

by Joel Achenbach, Washington Post

In the race for president, do the little people still matter?

Funny, You Don't Look Dancerish

by Claudia La Rocco, New York Times

A new generation of choreographers confronts a bias where thin is eternally in.

The Once And Future Pee-Wee

by Ruth La Ferla, New York Times

Paul Reubens remains the hero of legions of post-adolescents and their parents, who recall him as a shrewd merchant of anticonformity.

May 20, 2007

The Traveler's Dilemma

by Kaushik Basu, Scientific American

When playing this simple game, people consistently reject the rational choice. In fact, by acting illogically, they end up reaping a larger reaward — an outcome that demands a new kind of formal reasoning.

Words To Live It Up By

by Steffie Nelson, Los Angeles Times

A book club that meets at actor Adrian Grenier's house is spurred into a night of 'fundraging' by Jeffrey Sachs' 'The End of Poverty.'

Writers Take Out Their Knives

by Motoko RIch, New York Times

For all those who believe that "Moby Dick" would be great except for the parts about the whale, the Britis publisher Orion Books will publish this month a set of pared-down classics.

It's a well-trodden path, from Reader's Digest to CliffNotes to "Shrink Lit," and has sparked the inevitable tsktsk-ing in literary circles.

But surely, there are some books that could use some trimming.

May 19, 2007

Doctors Who Wield The Pen To Heal The Profession

by Abigail Zuger, New York Times

Some doctors turned writers want to dispel the notion of medical magic, some offer social critique and some should keep their day jobs.

The Writing Cure

by David Grossman, The Guardian

Living in a war zone, Israeli writer David Grossman turned away from recording the conflict in his work. But after his son was killed in the army, he found it was the only way to come to terms with his grief.

May 18, 2007

The Bookish Set

by Gendy Alimurung, LA Weekly

Inside the indie booksellers.

Mr. Right, It Turns Out, Does Not Take Classes

by Stehanie Rosenbloom, New York Times

In New York City, in many (if not most) adult courses, the women are numerous and the men are few — for approximately the same reason that men behind the wheel don't ask for directions.

May 17, 2007

Older, Better, But Harder To Dress

by Cathy Horyn, New York Times

At the start of any fashion writer's career there is, waiting at the end, the dreaded article about older women and how they can nver find clothes appropriate for their age. I swore on a stack of Vogues I would never write such a piece. It was totem journalism, predictable, worked at. Even the term "appropriate" has always seemed to me old hat, with violets on top.

So what changed?

Your Name In Stickup Light Bulbs!

by Alison Stein Wellner, New York Magazine

The late-night pitchman who makes millions preying on the simple desire to live a less anxious life.

May 16, 2007

The Losers' Circle

by Julia Wallace, Salon

From munching parties to Slim-Fast to Atkins, we've spent centuries trying to lose weight — despite all the evidence that diets don't work.

Jonathan Lethem Ponders A Good Side To Plagiarism

by Bob Thompson, Washington Post

No, no, Jonathan Lethem concedes, he's not really in favor of plagiarism. At least not the deceptive, thieving kind.

But he does want to spark an argument that will "explode the word."

A Cartoon Of Hurt

by Michael Ryan, New Yorker

Atheists With Attitude

by Anthony Gottlieb, New Yorker

Why do they hate Him?

A Beneficiary

by Nadine Gordimer, New Yorker

The Sting Of The Bee

by Valerie Strauss, Washington Post

As ppular as spelling bees have become, academic researchers say many schools are giving spelling short shrift.

Rhett, Scarlett And Friends Prepare For Yet Another Encore

by Motoko Rich, New York Times

It's taken 12 years, three authors and one rejected manuscript, but tomorrow will be another day when "Rhett Butler's People," the second sequel to Margaret Mitchell's "Gone With the Wind," is published this fall.

May 15, 2007

First Day Of The Hunt

by Paula Bohince, Slate

A Giant Takes On Physics' Biggest Questions

by Dennis Overbye, New York Times

They are getting ready to see the universe born again.

Again and again and again — 30 million times a second, in fact.

What's On Sale There? Confusion, But It's Cheap

by Randy Kennedy, New York Times

Wormholes in perception, vortexes in viewing.

What Happened To Plain Old Vanilla?

by Justin Peters, Salon

Coldstone Creamery and other "mix-in" ice cream chains that lard their cones with cakes and candies make me long for a simple, soft-serve swirl.

Manufacturing Belief

by Steve Paulson, Salon

The origin of religion is in our heads, explains developmental biologist Lewis Wolpert. First we figured out how to make tools, then created a supernatural being.

Sex, Drugs And Updating Your Blog

by Clive Thompson, New York Times

His fans need him; he needs them. Which is why, every day, Coulton wakes up, gets coffee, cracks open his PowerBook and hunkers down for up to six hours of nonstop and frequently exhausting communion with his virtual crowd.

The Monday Crap Story

by Jack Shafer, Slate

Newspaper journalists hate working weekends, so they keep a vigil all week for a special kind of crap that they can write upon Friday nad bank for publicaton on Monday.

The Subjection Of Islamic Women

by Christina Hoff Sommers, Weekly Standard

And the fecklessness of American feminism.

May 14, 2007

Here's Looking At You, Universe

by Joel Achenbach, Washington Post

Behind all this stellar news is another headline: We are in the golden age of telescopes.

The Greatest Mystery: Making A Best Seller

by Shira Boss, New York Times

"It's an accidental profession, most of the time," said William Strachan, editor in chief at Carroll & Graf Publishers. "If you had the key, you'd be very welathy. Nobody has the key."

May 13, 2007

Battle Of The Book Reviews

by Josh Getlin, Los Angeles Times

A war of words breaks out between print and internet writers as newspapers cut back coverage.

Welcome To Start From Scratch, U.S.A.

by Pam Belluck, New York Times

The devastation leaves Greensburg, population 1,500, shadowed by a colossal question mark: When a thriving community cataclysmically finds itself reduced to rubble, how can it put itself back together?

Can A Tortoise Race Into First Place?

by Robin McKie, The Observer

What constitutes a good science book as opposed to a mere bestseller, such as Stephen Hawking's famously unread work, A Brief History of Time?

May 12, 2007

The Writing Life

by Alberto Fuguet, Washington Post

Look, Ma, no translator! A Chilean writer tries his hand at accent-free prose.

Poet's Choice

by Robert Pinsky, Washington Post

Poetry appeals to people who get bored esily. It can accomplish a lot in small spaces: sometimes, in almost no time at all.

A Moveable Feast Of Essays, Memoirs, Fiction - All Focused On Food

by Michael Dirda, Washington Post

Among its other virtues, American Food Writing— a smorgasbord of essays, memoirs, scenes from fiction and even the occasional recipe — traces our gradual progress toward a "kitchen without walls."

The Princess Brides

by Jodi Kantor, New York Times

The late, great writer Marjorie Williams once confesed that reading "Fast Food Nation," Eric Schlosser's investigation into the fast-food industry, left her craving a Burger King fix. I had a similar reaction to "One Perfect Day," Rebecca Mead's dour tour of the American wedding business, which made me suddenly long for a frilly Saturday night nuptial blowout.

The Odd Couple

by Mark Atwood Lawrence, New York Times

Visionaries or cynics? Peacemakers or warmongers? Few individuals in recent times have provoked as much controversy as Richard Nixon and his partner in foreign affairs, Henry Kissinger.

Adventures In Dreamland

by A. O. Scott, New York Times

As a tourist destination, Hollywood is a bit of a tease, at once wide-open and hermetic. Its all around you — the magic of the movies, the homes of the stars, the big sign in the hills — but where, exactly, is it?

Short Cuts

by Thomas Jones, London Review Of Books

There is a wearisome machismo inherent in much of the iconography of typewriting.

What's Wrong With Doctors

by Richard Horton, New York Review Of Books

A doctor's mistakes are perhaps best seen as signs of a mind at work. The patient and doctor together share a common purpose in getting this mind thinking straight.

May 11, 2007

Arrival: Gizmos And Love

by Letters To An Unknown Audience

This picture is a picture of my whole life, in 8 1/2 x 11.

Tony Blair Becomes Margaret Thatcher

by Andrew Brown, Salon

Thanks to George W. Bush, the man who was supposed to reinvent the Labor Party leaves offices with more friends in America than in the U.K.

May 10, 2007

God Grief

by Giles Harvey, Salon

Christopher Hitchens has attacked modern-day saints like Mother Teresa and Princess Di, but his new book takes aim at the most sacred cow of all: The Almighty.

The Five-Second Rule Explored, Or How Dirty Is That Bologna?

by Harold McGee, New York Times

It's not surprising that food dropped onto bacteria would collect some bacteria. But how many? Does it collect more as the seconds tick by? Enough to make you sick?

Prof. Paul L. Dawson and his colleagues at Clemson have now put some numbers on floor-to-food contamination.

May 9, 2007

Old Woman With A Goiter

by Erica Levy McAlpine, Slate

May 8, 2007

The Prize Bigger Even Than The Booker

by Robert McCrum, The Guardian

You might not think it from this publicity, but most literary endeavour ends not in prizes, but failure.

Old Woman With A Goiter

by Erica Levy McAlpine, Slate

Open (Secret)

by Liza Mundy, Washington Post

For generations of adoptions, the birth mother was an anonymous woman who relinquished her infant and then receded into the shadows. That is so not Hava Leichtman.

CBS's Late Bloomer

by Howard Kurtz, Washington Post

Byron Pitts was chatting with students at a Harlem charter school the day before a recent visit by president Bush when the CBS correspondent had a realization: They viewed him as just another empty suit who couldn't possibly understand their problems. Little did they know.

"When I was your age," he told thme, "I couldn't read."

How To Sink A Newspaper

by Walter E. Hussman Jr., Wall Street Journal

Free news for online customers is a disastrous business plan.

May 7, 2007

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover - But In Richard Littlejohns Case, We'll Make An Exception

by Charlie Brooker, The Guardian

Book covers are increasingly designed to draw in passersby via any means necessary. Subtlety doesn't get a look-in. Nor does common sense.

From The Glass House

by Lionel Shriver, Telegraph

Given that publishing honest and thus sometimes unfavourable assessments of the work of colleagues is violently at dds with a writer's self-interest, it's surprising that literary editors can cajole any author into reviewing. But then, plenty of writers like me don't know what's good for them, and some writers plain need the money.

Prince Philip Has A Mouthful Of A Title. And, Often, His Foot.

by Paul Duggan, Washington Post

By the looks of hi, a rather reserved fellow, you'd expect — and you'd be wrong.

The New Middle Ages: Self-Nonmedication

by Bruce Stutz, New York Times

When my life fell apart, I started taking an antidepressant — then got off it on my own.

In Search Of Novels About Working Life

by D J Taylor, Independent

Considering so many of us spend our days toiling in offices, where are the great novels of working life?

May 6, 2007

Miranda July, Storyteller

by Angust Brown, Los Angeles Times

The director-writer-star of the film 'Me and You and Everyone We Know' offers quirky takes on relationships in her new book.

Getting The Most Bang Out Of Quarks And Gluons

by Corey Kilgannon, New York Times

There's nothing unusual about grown men gathering around wide-screen TVs to watch collisions, whether between players in cleats or on skates or between cars on a racetrack.

But a group of men viewing wide-screen monitors in a control room at Brookhaven National Laboratory the other day were rooting for very different collisions, ones made by the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, or RHIC (pronounced rick).

Tobacco Road

by Jonathan Miles, New York Times

The rise and fall of the cigarette in American culture.

You've Got Trouble

by Dave Barry, New York Times

I've become so dependent on e-mail that I sometimes wonder how we ever got by without it. Imagine, for example, how useful it would have been for Paul Revere.

May 5, 2007

A Decade On, A PM's Number Is Up

by James Button, The Age

Tony Blair could have been a great British prime minister.

May 4, 2007

Coordinates Of The Rich And Famous

by Emily Gould, New York Times

Supermarket tabloids and gossip columns stil sell the illusion that stars live in a different world from the rest of us; but the internet has created a new reality, and we're all living in it together.

Hail, Hail, Rock'n'Roll

by Laura Barton, The Guardian

When I took out my headphones, I was startled by the noise that rushed in. Until I heard a rhythm in the shuffle of the newspapers...

A Corner Deli With International Appeal

by Micheline Maynard, New York Times

On an unseasonably warm Sunday afternoon in mid-March, hundreds of food lovers packed a tent on Detroit Street in front of Zingerman's Delicatessen in Ann Arbor, lining up for samples to celebrate the deli's 25th anniversary.

May 3, 2007

Should Authors Conform To Type?

by Will Davis, The Guardian

Once they've found their niche, most authors are content to plough the same furrow. And why not? It worked for Austen.

Are Book Reviewers Out Of Print?

by Motoko Rich, New York Times

To some authors and critics, these moves amount to yet one more nail in the coffin of literary culture. But some publishers and literary bloggers — not surprisingly — see it as an inevitable transition toward a new, more democratic literary landscape where anyone can comment on books.

May 2, 2007

Toward A Unified Theory Of Einstein's Life

by John Horgan, The Chronicle Of Higher Education

Einstein navigated the tumult of the 20th century with extraordinary grace.

At First They Flirt, Then College Crush

by Susan Kinzie, Washington Post

For many overachieving high school seniors, getting the rejection letter is the first real kick-in-the-gut feeling of failure. And for admissions officers who have spent month recruiting the most talented students, April can be like a bad breakup — played out thousands of times.

The Lesbian Bride's Handbook

by Ariel Levy, New York Magazine

Is white appropriate? What's the right term for a groom who's a woman? And what to say to her mother?

May 1, 2007

The Codex Seraphinianus

by Justin Taylor, The Believer

How mysterious is a mysterious text if the author is still alive (and emailing)?

Gnostic Gospels

by Edward Hirsch, Slate

By Heng-Cheong Leong