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October 31, 2007

The Ghosts Of Halloweens Past

by Jennifer Finney Boylan, New York Times

The house in which I grew up was haunted by a cloud of cold mist, a mysterious woman in white, and an entity we called "the conductor," since he walked around wearing a mourning coat and carrying a baton in one hand.

Huge Black Holes May Hold Keys To Galaxy Formation

by Marc Kaufman, Washington Post

With many promising areas to research, the supermassives are drawing astronomers and astrophysicists back into the black hole research.

You Too - Yes, You! - Can Be A Food Blogger

by Regina Schrambling, Los Angeles Times

Cooking up a delicious blog is much easier than you might think.

The Lost Art Of The Rant

by Daniel Seidel, Slate

How the web revived a storied tradition of expletive-laced tirades.

October 30, 2007

On Desperate Days

by Barry Spacks, Slate

Why They Called It The Manhattan Project

by William J. Broad, New York Times

By nature, code names and cover stories are meant to give no indication of the secrets concealed. Many people assume that the same holds true for the Manhattan Project, in which thousands of experts gathered in the mountains of New Mexico to make the world's first atom bomb.

Robert S. Norris, a historian of the atomic age, wants to shatter that myth.

Wanting Sumptuous Heavens

by Robert Bly, New Yorker

The Dog

by Roddy Doyle, New Yorker

Fear And Allergies In The Lunchroom

by Greg Ruffing, Newsweek

There was a time when food allergies were of little concern to the medical community. Today about 11 million Americans suffer from them, and many scientists agree the numbers are climbing.

October 29, 2007

If The World Could Write...

by Michael Dirda, Washington Post

Tolstoy's unflinching "War and Peace," in a new translation, takes us inside historic battles and contradictory hearts.

The Wisdom Of Fathers

by Bryan Burrough, Washington Post

Two books pose off-beat questions and provide clever answers.

The Difference Myth

by Caryl Rivers and Rosalind C. Barnett, Boston Globe

We shouldn't believe the increasingly popular claims that boys and girls think differently, learn differently, and need to be treated differently.

Looking For Their Children's Birth Mothers

by Maggie Jones, New York Times

Adoptive parents are increasingly trying to pry open international adoptions by searching for the biological mothers of their children. But finding them can turn out to be the easy part.


by Michael Ryan, New Yorker

May We Congratulate You On Your Divorce

by Nora Zelevansky, Salon

Couples are commemorating shattered vows with the same kind of fanfare accorded their marriage — complete with announcements, parties and even vacation funds.

Snooze Or Lose

by Po Bronson, New York Magazine

Overstimlated, overscheduled kids are getting at least an hour's less sleep than they need, a deficiency that, new research reveals, has the power to set their cognitive abilities back years.

October 28, 2007

What Part Of 'Illegal' Don't You Understand?

by Lawrence Downes, New York Times

America has a big problem with illegal immigration, but a big part of it stems from the word "illegal." It pollutes the debate. It blocks solutions.

October 26, 2007

The Haunted Credit Card

by Emily Bazelon, Slate

An ode to store-bought Halloween costumes.

Cleared For Lunching: The $100 Hamburger

by Matthew Preusch, New York Times

It's called hunting the $100 hamburger — "$100" referring to the cost of fuel — sort of the aeronautical equivalent of lazy Sunday drives in which the destination isn't as important as the pleasure of getting away. The thrill level, though, is just a bit higher than that of tooling through the New England countryside in fall foliage season.

Ow It's Nobody's Secret

by Ruth La Ferla, New York Times

Lingerie's cachet as a sexy, emphatically visible component of a woman's outfit has contributed to rising sales.

October 25, 2007

Journalism And Its Discontents

by Sidney Blumenthal, Salon

Ninety years after Walter Lippmann first railed against the complicity of the media in wartime propaganda, we're back at ground zero.

The Cat Text

by J. Robert Lennon, The Litlab

October 24, 2007

A Complex Relationship With 'King Lear'

by Jack Lynch, Los Angeles Times

Sadism pervades the text and the story can be confusing. Yet there is something irresistible about Shakespeare's play.

It Just Takes Practice

by Scott McCredie, Washington Post

Train your mind and you can train your body — to hop or dance or even perform a balancing act like this.

Dim Sum Dynamics: Catchy Names And Constant Creation

by Walter Nicholls, Washington Post

Shrimp dumplings formed into swans. Green tea ball stuffed with black sesame paste. For Janet Yu, there can never be too many kinds of dim sum, Cantonese for "heart's delight."

October 23, 2007

Breasts Like Martinis

by Jill McDonough, Slate

Low Road To Splitsville

by David Segal, Washington Post

Looking for a perfect little weekend vacation this fall? Here's a travel tip you don't hear very often: Head to Pittsburgh. Right away.

Seriously, get in the car and read this story later, because when you're done reading, you'll wish you'd left 10 minutes ago. There are towns with better vistas, sure, and there are getaways with more sunshine. But only Pittsburgh is the scene of the fabulously tawdry and surpassingly vicious spectacle that is the divorce of Richard Mellon Scaife.

In The Dreamscape Of Nightmares, Clues To Why We Dream At All

by Natalie Angier, New York Times

By all evidence, outrangeously bad dreams are a universal human experience.

An Active, Purposeful Machine That Comes Out At Night To Play

by Benedict Carey, New York Times

Scientists have been trying to determine why people need sleep for more than 100 years. Now, a small group of neuroscientists is arguing that at least one vital function of sleep is bound up with learnng and memory.

Did Roger Ailes Call The Market Top?

by Daniel Gross, Slate

The strange timing of the Fox Business Channel.

October 22, 2007

Chasing The Chinese Dream

by Ariana Eunjung Cha, Washington Post

For a growing number of the world's emigrants, China — not the United States — is the land where opportunities are endless, individual enterprise is rewarded and tolerance is universal.

WHat Do You Do After Nothing?

by Davie Itzkoff, New York Times

To many fans, and to many people who worked on "Bee Movie," the film represents the first real reutnr of Mr. Seinfeld since the end of his television show, a welcoming back after what appeared to be a self-imposed absense.

Alan Weisman On 'The World Without Us'

by Alan Weisman, Los Angeles Times

Humans are funny, humans are lovely and humans also get themselves into trouble if they underestimate the consequences of their actions. But they can learn from their mistakes.

Why 'Three Times Less' Isn't Three Times Worse

by Jan Freeman, Boston Globe

Let's not sweat 10 times less, five times more, or a threefold increase. Unless we're getting dumber by the decade, there's no reason we should boggle at these old familiar usages.

Her Identity Revealed, Her Story Expurgated

by Janet Maslin, New York Times

Valerie Plame Wilson begins her memoir, "Fair Game," on a note of toughness: She describes paramilitary drills in which she participated as a C.I.A. trainee. Her book also includes a photograph of her as a 2 ½-year-old at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina, sitting in the cockpit of an airplen with her feisty little hands on the controls.

The Pleasure Of Rabbit Holes

by Virginia Heffernan, New York Times

What about the idea of surrending your actual identity — your name, rank and serial number in the real world — to a wonderland of play in mysterious realms?

Msg To Rude Playgoers: Trn Tht Drnd Thng Off!

by Peter Marks, Washington Post

It's supposed to be completely dark in the auditorium, but instead all these little light shows are going on. FLICK! The face of the guy across the aisle is bathed in a blue electronic glow. FLICK! Another man two seats down regularly seems to blink on and off — he's a neon sign in jeans and sports coat. FLICK! FLICK! Two girls sitting several rows away seem to be radiating a slightly purple haze.

October 21, 2007

Books For The Ages, If Not For The Best-Seller List

by Clark Hoyt, New York Times

The New York Times best-seller list is a powerful and mysterious institution that both reports and drives the sales of books around the nation.

October 19, 2007

A Language, Not Quite Spanish, With African Echoes

by Simon Romero, New York Times

On the surface it resembles any other improverished Colombian village. But when adults here speak with one another, their language draws inspiration from as far away as the COngo River Basin in Africa.

October 18, 2007

To Noodle Or Not To Noodle

by Rob Long, Los Angeles Times

As a professional writer, I've always been pretty good at not writing. Not writing, in fact, is one of my chief skills. I can not write anywhere — on a plane, in a coffee shop, in my office — and I often feel that a day spent without not writing is a day wasted. I even keep a notebook by the side of the bed, in case I wake up with an idea at 3 in the morning and don't want to write it down in case I don't forget it.

So, obviously, the prospect of a writer strike puts me in a cruious position.

Recycling The Whole House

by Kristina Shevory, New York Times

Instead of having her 1,300-square-foot house bulldozed, Alice Keller hired Jon Alexander, a contractor who shared her environmentalism and was willing to dismantle the home shingle by beam, and build a replacement with the same two-by-fours.

October 17, 2007

Local Carrots With A Side Of Red Tape

by Kim Severson, New York Times

Around the country, dozens of farm-to-school programs are trying to get local food back into the schools. But it's harder than it might seem.


by Philip Schultz, Slate

October 16, 2007

Why Be Pro-Life?

by Jonah Goldberg, Los Angeles Times

If you're unsure of whether human life begins at conception, why not give the unborn the benefit of the doubt?

Death Valley

by Tim Cahill, National Geographic Magazine

In America's hottest and lowest place—its largest national park outside Alaska—dust can turn day into twilight, and rocks move unseen across the desert.

October 15, 2007

What The F***? Why We Curse

by Steven Pinker, The New Republic

The strange emotional power of swearing—as well as the presence of linguistic taboos in all cultures—suggests taht taboo words tap into deep and ancient parts of the brain.

Why Flying Now Can Kill

by A.L. Bardach, Washington Post

I didn't know the mother of three who died shackled to a bench in the Phoenix airport on Sept. 28, en route to an alcohol treatment center in Tucson. I don't know, beyond what I read in the newspapers, what troubles weighed on her. But I do know this: Based on my own recent flight experiences, hers was a death foretold.

High Tea, India Style

by Matt Gross, New York Times

Flying to a remote corner of India and braving the long drive into the Himalayas may seem like an awful lot of effort for a good cup of tea, but Darjeeling tea isn't simply good. It's about the best in the world.

Rocket Man

by Thomas Mallon, New Yorker

The complex orbits of Wernher von Braun.

The Capital Of Capital No More?

by Daniel Gross, New York Times

In today's burgeoning and increasingly integrated global financial markets — a vast, neural spaghetti of wires, web sites and trading platforms — the N.Y.S.E. is clearly no longer the epicenter.

October 14, 2007

China's Next Big Export: Inflation

by Austin Ramzy, Time

Demand from China, along with other fast-growing emerging economies, has driven up the price of oil and a wide range of other commodities for the past several years. But what's really worrying many economists is the sudden apearance of relatively high inflation within China and the ripples that might cause abroad.

October 13, 2007

American Flag Pins Are For Idiots

by Bill Maher, Salon

This generation doesn't sacrifice or even pay for our wars. No, all we do is sport pins and bumper stickers.

October 12, 2007

On The Trail Of Brooklyn's Underground Railroad

by John Strausbaugh, New York Times

Last month the City of New York gave Duffield Street in downtown Brooklyn an alternate name: Abolitionist Place. It's an acknowledgment that long before Brooklyn was veined with subway lines, it was a hub of the Underground Railroad: the network of sympathizers and safe houses throughout the North that helped as many as 100,000 slaves flee the South before the Civil War.

After Years Of Being Out, The Necktie Is In

by David Colman, New York Times

Necktie sales may have foundered in the decade or more since the words "casual Friday" entered men's vocabularies, but in the last year or two, stylish men in their 20s and early 30s have embraced the old four-in-hand as a style statement — that is, as long as it is an optional one.

October 11, 2007

You Virtually Had To Be There

by Michelle Slatalla, New York Times

Ever since she went off to college I've come to think of my daughter as Virtual Zoe.

How China Got Religion

by Slavoj Zizek, New York Times

Perhaps we find China's reincarnation laws so outrageous not because they are alien to our sensibility, but becuase they spill the secret of what we have done for so long: respectfully tolerating what we don't take quite seriously, and tryng to contain its political consequences through the law.

October 10, 2007

Silent Minds

by Jerome Groopman, New Yorker

What scanning techniques are revealing about vegetative patients.

A Death In The Family

by Christopher Hitchens, Vanity Fair

Having volunteered for Iraq, Mark Daily was killed in January by an I.E.D. Dismayed to learn that his pro-war articles helped persuade Daily to enlist, the author measures his words against a family's grief and a young man's sacrifice.

October 9, 2007

Against The Grain

by David Gewanter, Slate

Rotten To The Core

by Daniel Gross, Slate

What pick-your-own apple orchards tell us about the American economy.

October 8, 2007

Terror And Demons

by Roger Cohen, New York Times

Having read about Carol Ann Gotbaum, my head filled with her disoriented rage before punitive officialdom, I did something I rarely do. I went back and read my mother's suicide note of July 25, 1978.

October 7, 2007

'Marooned' Rethinks The Desert Island Album

by Erik Himmelsbach, Los Angeles Times

Nothing beats the life out of a good recording more than reading about it. It's the rare pop music critic whose prose can approximate the moon-launcing emotional jolt a listener gets from hearing an amazing song.

Social Historian

by Maureen Dowd, New York Times

It's hard not to like a book that expounds on Marilyn Monroe on one page and the Monroe Doctrine on the next. When Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. ruminates on the realm of hemispheric affairs, the transition from one Monroe to the other is seamless, as is the slide from Bosnia to Bianca Jagger and from Alexander Hamilton to Angie Dickinson. His diaries are a Tifany's window of name-dropping. THis is not history so much as historical trail mix.

Is There A Future For Old-Fashioned Museums?

by JOel Garreau, Washington Post

In the age of the networked computer, museums are being fundamentally challenged in the same ways that other bastions of education and entertainment — from libraries to the music industry — are being rocked to their cores.

October 6, 2007

Worshipping Paris

by Elaine Sciolino, New York Times

Paris ordinarily defines itself to visitors as a city of museums, monuments, neighborhoods and shopping-and-eating opportunities. But there is another way into the history, culture and daily fabric of this city's life, a voyage of discovery into a world overlooked even by Parisians themsleves: its nearly 100 churches.

October 5, 2007

The Rabbit-Eared Life

by Judith Warner, New York Times

Recently, a couple of things happened that made me realize that it was perhaps time to reconsider my opposition to cable TV.

Magazines, Bring Back The Write-Around!

by Ron Rosenbaum, Slate

Regian your dignity with this secret weapon.

October 3, 2007

No Glamour, But Sandwich Is A Star

by Jennifer Steinhauer, New York Times

Is there any pain quite as sweet as the one caused by a steaming drip of cheese oozing from between slices of just-grilled bread and onto your lower lip?

The Breakfast Liberation Front

by Anastacia Marx de Salcedo, Salon

The food industries processes the life out of our flakes and puffs, then sponsors studies boasting of their helath benefits. Isn't it time to rebel against breakfast cereal supremacy?

Table At 7? L.A. Begs To Differ

by Leslie Brenner, Los Angeles Times

In a dining world gone wacky, it's tables, tables everywhere, but not a time to eat. At least not the time you wanted.

October 2, 2007

Bookmobiles' Final Chapter?

by Anna Badkhen, Boston Globe

It may come as no surprise, in an age defined by mouse-clicks, that bookmobiles are disappearing.

Elegy, Father's Day

by Kevin Young, Slate

9/11 Is Over

by Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times

9/11 has made us stupid. I honor, and weep for, all those murdered on that day. But our reaction to 9/11 — mine included — has knocked America completely out of balance, and it is time to get things right again.

See Also:

Is This The America Of 9/11, or 9/12?, by New York Times.

In A Land Of Homemade Names, Tiffany Doesn't Cut It

by Michael Wines, New York Times

In southern Africa, a child's name is chosen to convey a specific meaning, and not, as is common in the West, the latest fashion. Increasingly, however, those traditional names are bestowed not in Nidebele, Sotho or some other local language, but in English, the world's lingua franca.

Why Don't They Like Us As Much As They Used To?

by Anne Applebaum, Slate

The United States has lost its aura of competence. That's a problem.

October 1, 2007

The Politics Of Confidence

by Roger Cohen, New York Times

The unpopularity of George W. Bush has led many to believe global America-hating will ebb once he leaves office on Jan 20, 2009. That's a dangerous assumption.

Married Love

by Tessa Hadley, New Yorker

We Paved Paradise

by Katharine Mieszkowski, Salon

So why can't we find any place to park? Because parking is one of the biggest boondoggles — and environmental disasters — in our country.

What Ails The Short Story?

by Stephen King, New York Times

The American short story is alive and well.

Do you like the sound of that? Me too. I only wish it were actually true.

Is Great Happiness Too Much Of A Good Thing?

by Shankar Vedantam, Washington Post

A hidden price of being happier on average is that you put your short-term contentment at risk, because being happy raises your expectations about being happy. Whe good things happen, they don't count for much because they are what you expect. When bad things happen, you temporarily feel terrible, because you've gotten used to being happy.

Why Publishing Book Reviews Makes Sense

by Carlin Romano, Philadelphia Inquirer

So few book reivews, so many books. No, it hasn't started appearing on T-shirts yet, but wait.

By Heng-Cheong Leong