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September 30, 2007

How Do We Come Up With Words?

by Steven Pinker, Los Angeles Times

Thinking about how words get made can challenge some of our fundamental assumptions.

September 29, 2007

The Stag Hunt

by Tim Harford, Slate

The obscure game-theory problem that explains why rich countries are rich.

September 28, 2007

Film Could Ease Ratings Stigma

by Lorenza Munoz, Los Angeles Times

Some in Hollywood are hoping the latest film by Taiwanese director Ang Lee will change the way American audiences perceive the NC-17 label.

Translating Poetry Opens Up New Worlds Of Language

by Carol Rumens, The Guardian

Is there any purpose in translating poetry?

Middle Age Threw Me A Wicked Curve

by Peter Kurth, Salon

HIV-positive since the '80s, I never expected to grow old — and I really didn't expect to end up with a crooked penis.

September 27, 2007

Is Lazy Reporting Harming The Visual Arts?

by Jonathan Jones, The Guardian

Why do journalists write the same six generic stories about art over and over again?

Ahmadinejad's New York State Of Mind

by Hooman Majd, Salon

My time with Iranian president this week underscored how the U.S. media has overlooked his political savvy.

September 26, 2007

In Portland, A Golden Age Of Dining And Drinking

by Eric Asimov, New York Times

In the way New York drew artists in the '50s, this city at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers seems to exert a magnetic lure on talented chefs who come from almost anywhere else and decide to stay right here. About the hardest thing to find in Portland these days is a homegrown chef.

Sex In The Park, And Its Sneaky Spectators

by Philip Gefter, New York Times

Why are the Japanese couples in Kohei Yoshiyuki's photographs having sex outdoors? Was 1970s Tokyo so crowded, its apartments so small, that they were forced to seek privacy in public parks at night? ANd what about those peeping toms? Are the couples as oblivious as they seem to the gawkers trespassing on their nocturnal intimacy?

Lack Of Opinions A Possibility

by James Kukstis, The Tripod

How to write an opinionated article, when nothing seems to be new.

Harissa, Mon Amour

by Amy Scattergood, Los Angeles Times

This is an ode to harissa. It's replaced my ketchup, my salsa picante, even (gasp) my Louisiana hot sauce. I put it on everything. Well, not exactly everything, but the potent North African chile sauce goes into my bean soups and sandwiches, it spikes my aioli and tops my pizzas. I even take it on road trips, as a kind of food insurance, where it's done wonders for roadside hamburgers and omelets, even stadium Dodger dogs.

September 25, 2007

Act Now & Save

by Kevin Young, Slate

Poem For My Daughter Disparaging The Gossamer Depiction soF The Women Of Certain Southern Texts

by Adrian Blevins, Slate

With Fear And Wonder In Its Wake, Sputnik Lifted Us Into The Future

by John Noble Wilford, New York Times

Fifty years ago, before most people living today were born, the beep-beep-beep of Sputnik was heard round the world, It was the sound of wonder and foreboding. Nothing would ever be quite the same again — in geopolitics, in science and technology, in everyday life and the capacity of the human species.

September 24, 2007

Minister Of Fear

by John Wray, New York Times

Making waves is what Michael Haneke has become famous for. Over the last two decades, the director has developed a reputation for stark, often brutal films that place the viewer — sometimes subtly, sometimes explicitly — in the uncomfortable role of accomplice to the crimes playing out on-screen. This approach has made Haneke one of contemporary cinema's most reviled and revered figures, earning him everything from accusations of obscenity to a retrospective at Museum of Modern Art next month.

Dream With Flowers And Bowl Of Fruit

by Deborah Warren, New Yorker

Mission Accomplished - For Iran

by Peter Galbraith, Salon

The scale of Bush's strategic miscalculation in Iraq is striking, emboldening Iran to extend its influecne in the Middle East.

China In Three Colors

by Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times

The more I see China wrestling with its environment, the more I'm convinced that it is going to prove much, much easier for China to have gone from communism to capitalism than to go from dirty capitalism to clean capitalism.

September 22, 2007

Can Michelle Rhee Save DC Schools?

by Harry Jaffe, Washingtonian

Six chiefs have tried to fix DC's schools in the past ten years—and failed. Now comes a 37-year-old Korean-American from Toledo with no experience running a school system who's convinced she can succeed.

Girls Bask In Their New Destiny: Cheerleaders

by Donna St. George, Washington Post

On Clare's team, all the girls have disabilities: autism, Down syndrome, other conditions that delay development. Some have more physical skill. Some are more comunicative. But together they are Destiny, cheerleaders all, a troupe of 12 that has produced what was missing in many of their lives: Belonging. Acceptance. Friendship.

Root And Branch

by Ian Hacking, The Nation

A Canadian philosopher surveys some of the livlier flashpoints in America's battle over evolution.

September 21, 2007

Surfing The World Wide Couch

by Penelope Green, New York Times

Couch surfing takes an ancient notion of hospitality and tucks it into a thoroughly modern paradigm, the social networking web site. But, as its members say sternly, it is not a site for dating, or for freeloaders.

September 20, 2007

Doha And Dalian

by Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times

There is no green revolution, or, if there is, the counter-revolution is trumping it at every turn. Without a transformational technological breakthrough in the energy space, all of the incremental gains we're making will be devoured by the exponential growth of all the new and old "Americans."

September 19, 2007

The Most Dangerous Game

by Emily Yoffe, Slate

I have never played golf. So why, oh, why, did I start now?

September 18, 2007

Focus On The Words - Not On The Writer

by Stephen Elliott, San Francisco Chronicle

What does it matter if a novelist is also a pundit or a performer or a narcissist?

When I Think About The Time The Man Asked Me To Stop Fidgeting With My PEncil

by Christopher Cunningham, Slate

Not For Chopin

by Arda Collins, New Yorker

The Maserati Years

by Maxim Biller, New Yorker

Is 'Do Unto Others' Written Into Our Genes?

by Nicholas Wade, New York Times

Where do moral rules come from? From reason, some philosophers say. From God, say believers. Seldom considered is a source now being advocated by some biologists, that of evolution.

At first glance, natural selection and the survival of the fittest may seem to reward only the most selfish values. But for animals that live in groups, selfishness mut be strictly curbed or there will be no advantage to social living. Coul dthe behaviors evolved by social animals to make societies work be the foundation from which human morality evolved?

September 17, 2007

Rule Of Thumbs: Love In The Age Of Texting

by Natalie Y. Moore, Washington Post

As we catch up here in the United States, we are gapplign with the social implications that come along with texting.


by J. D. McClatchy, New Yorker

September 16, 2007

Living Your Dreams, In A Manner Of Speaking

by Stephanie Rosenbloom, New York Times

The kiss you share with the exquisite stranger is electric, deep and seemingly endless — tat is until you open an eye and see drool on your pillow.

If only you could have slept long enough to consummate the seduction. Then again, you had no idea you were dreaming. Besides, you cannot control the nightly ride on the wings of your subconscious. Or can you?

In America, Nonbelievers Find Strength In Numbers

by Jacqueline L. Salmon, Washington Post

A legion of the godless is rising up against the forces of religiosity in American society.

The Nonbelievers

by David Abel, Boston Globe

An increasing number of young people in America — and adults around the world — don't believe in God. Greg Epstein, who advises fellow atheists and agnostics at Harvard University, wants to create a kind of church for those who reject religion. But he's encountering resistance from some of the very people he wants to unite.

September 15, 2007

A Life Less Ordinary

by Megan Marshall, New York Times

In "The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh," Linda Colley has written a biography that tests all common notions about the genre.

A Scholar's Paris

by Alice Kaplan, The Chronicle Of Higher Education

For some people Paris is a fashion show or a gourmet meal or a museum. For me and for my colleagues in French studies, it's a library where we wander aong the stacks, a fantasy captured by the French architect Dominique Perrault in his design for the new French National Library: four buildings in the shape of open books, towering over the River Seine.

New York Local

by Adam Gopnik, New Yorker

Eating the fruits of the five boroughs.

September 14, 2007

Wanted: I.T. Experts (No Adults, Please)

by Michelle Slatalla, New York Times

My friend Jennifer called last week with a problem. Nobody in her household could figure out how to deocrate her daughter's igloo.

Members Only

by Sara Vilkomerson, New York Observer

Ask and ye shall receive! Slowly but surely a seismic shift is occuring across the entertainment landscape: men are dropping trou, and penises and testicles are seemingly everywhere, flapping in the breeze.

Confessions Of A Community Theater Critic

by John Barry, The Smart Set

This is not a gig for the weak of heart. It's for the eternal optimist, the dead-end journalist who doesn't believe in dead ends. It's for the tolerant, the cheerful, the brave and gratuitously creative. It's a job for someone who doesn't have a lot to do on weekends.

September 13, 2007

Restaurant Critics Are Blowing Their Own Covers

by Regina Schrambling, Los Angeles Times

When any human being is searchable online not just verbally but visually, how can a critic possibly hope to retain anonymity long enough to give a restaurant a fair evaluation? Throw blogs into the mix and it's a mashup of Facebook and a masquerade ball.

September 12, 2007

A Lost Art: Instilling Respect

by Patricia Dalton, Washington Post

There's been a fundamental change in family life, and it has played out over the years in my office. Teachers, pediatricians and therapists like me are seeing children of all ages who are not afraid of their parents. Not one bit. Not of their power, not of their position, not of their ability to apply standards and enforce consequences.

After The Last Intellectual

by Scott Mclemee,

Twenty years ago this fall, Russell Jacoby's The Last Intellectuals: American Culture in the Age of Academe mourned the death of the freelance thinker and examined its fresh corpse. But did we misread Jacoby's autopsy?

To Burundi And Beyond For Coffee's Holy Grail

by Peter Meehan, New York Times

Mr Sorenson and a few like-minded coffee hunters around the country will go almost anywhere, do almost anything and pay almost any price in pursuit of the perfect cup of coffee.

September 11, 2007

Use Time Wisely - By Slacking Off

by Eric Weiner, Los Angeles Times

Why did hard work at the expense of leisure become an American virtue?

Conveying Emphasis

by John McWhorter, New York Sun

Wearning my linguist hat, I am inclined to treat the new boldface as a variant usage of punctuation which, since it is used consistently by users, cannot on any logical grounds be rejected as "wrong."

In Another Country

by Gail Mazur, Slate

Bad Deams Are Good

by Joni Mitchell, New Yorker


by Les Murray, New Yorker

Mr Bones

by Paul Theroux, New Yorker

September 10, 2007

The Rise Of The Alpha Geezer

by Joel Achenbach, Washington Post

There are no people anymore. The word "senior" is in disfavor; the folks at AARP often use the term "grown-up" to refer to our most tenured citizens.

Party Time

by Jill Lepore, New Yorker

Smear tactics, skulduggery, and the debut of American democracy.

Turning Tricks

by David Owen, New Yorker

The rise and fall of contract bridge.

September 9, 2007

Teach Yourself Happy

by Denise Winterman, BBC News

Lessons in emotions should be introduced in all schools in England, says the government, in the latest twist on what's known as "emotional intelligence". But can children really be taught how to be happy?

There's Only One Mystery...

by Rachel Cooke, The Guardian

Thompson clearly feels that she brings a fresh eye — and a special passion — to the already thoroughly picked-over life of the world's bestselling crime writer. But perhaps her publisher is worred others may not agree.

High C: The Note That Makes Us Weep

by Daniel J. Wakin, New York Times

That little note, an octave above middle C on the piano, played a role in projecting Mr. Pavarotti's fame around the world. That is no surprise. The tenor high C has a long nd noble tradition, and a healthy dose of mystique.

September 8, 2007

Words Into Type

by Steven Heller, New York Times

With the computer, "font" has entered the vernacular, and almsot every keyboard jockey has become an aficionado.

September 7, 2007

Hong Kong's Forgotten Photographer

by Liam Fitzpatrick, Time

10 years after his death at the age of 56, Yau continues to be as obscure as he was in life. But with the issues of conservation and cultural identity at the forefront of social debate in Hong Kong, his body of work — spanning almost 40 years and recording the city's passage from hard-bitten entrepot to looming metropolis — cries out for recognition as the extraordinary social and artistic document that it is.

Through The Looking Glass

by Joel Garreau, Washington Post

The post-9/11 era has caught up with William Gibson's vision.

September 6, 2007

Love It? Check The Label

by Alex WIlliams, New York Times

"Made in the U.S.A." used to be a label flaunted primarly by consumers in the Rust Belt and rural regions. Increasingly, it is a status symbol for cosmopolitan bobos, and it is being exploited by the marketers who cater to them.

Donate This! (In My Name)

by Mike Armstrong, Los Angeles Times

Sending a check to a charity with my name on it isn't a birthday gift.


by Jack Shafer, Slate

The New York Times "Escapes" section demonstrates its lack of imagination.

September 5, 2007

The Mix Tape Of The Gods

by Timothy Ferris, New York Times

Contemplation of Voyager's billion-year future among the stars may make us feel small and the span of our history seem insignificant. Yet the very existence of the two spacecraft and the gold records they carry suggests that there is something in the human spirit able to confront vast sweeps of space and time that we can only dimly comprehend.

No, The Restaurant Isn't Called 'Coming Soon'

by Joe Drape, New York Times

Cambodian Cuisine is not the first restaurant to endure costly delays on the way to opening its doors, and it will not be the last. Murphy's Law rules the insane world of New York City restaurants.

Remembrance Of Tacos Past

by Mark Dery, Salon

I may have grown up to be a foodie, but I still think fondly of Taco Bell and its mushy burritos and fast-food mission facades.

September 4, 2007

Goodbye To All That

by Steve Wasserman, Columbia Journalism Review

The decline of the coverage of books isn't new, benign, or necessary.

Bad Annunciation

by Joanie Mackowski, Slate

Node Idea

by John Sutherland, The Guardian

I have seen the future of literary criticism - and, as John Reed said - 'it works'. Works better, in fact, than Reed's beloved Soviet Union ever worked. And it will work, I believe, for other humanities discipliens. Science, I'm not so sure about. But perhaps there too.

Ghost Elephants

by Jean Valentine, New Yorker

End Of Summer

by James Richardson, New Yorker

Sixty-Nine Cents

by Gary Shteyngart, New Yorker

And so, in the midst of my Hebrew-school winter vacation, two Russian families crammed into a alrge used sedan and took I-95 down to the Sunshine State.

Luda And Milena

by Lara Vapnyar, New Yorker

Would Orwell Have Been A Blogger?

by Robert McCrum, Guardian

The great essayist woul dbe appalled by the writing, but applaud the democracy of the web.

September 3, 2007

Art For Our Sake

by Ellen Winner and Lois Hetland, Boston Globe

School art class matter more than ever — but not for the reasons you think.

September 2, 2007

Starting Over

by Jennifer Schuessler, New York Times

In his morbidly fasciating non-fiction eco-thriller, "The World Without Us," Weisman imagines what would happen if the earth's most invasive species — ourselves — were suddenly and completely wiped out.

So That's What Dickens Went Through Week After Week

by Ronan Bennett, The Guardian

I forgot the easiest part of writing a novel is the beginning. Readers want to be intrigued, so the storyteller can weave his strands to his heart's content. But soon, readers want to see how the strands cohere and after that they want to see them tied up in a way that is aatisfying and credible. This is the really hard part — developing the character and allowing the narrative seeds to germinate and flower into an ending that works.

September 1, 2007

The Impossible Dream

by Joel Stein, Los Angeles Times

Every home needs a urinal — doesn't it?

Our Wonder Of Wonder Bread

by Meghan Daum, Los Angeles Times

In an age of disposable objects, it's nice to see that one product's passing can still stir nostalgia.

By Heng-Cheong Leong