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January 31, 2008

The Dynastic Question

by Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times

In a presidential campaign that has involved battles over everything from Iraq to driver's licenses, one sweeping topic has gone curiously unexamined: Does it diminish American democracy if we keep the presidency int he same two families that have held it since 1989?

Dip Once Or Dip Twice?

by Harold McGee, New York Times

Just in time, a scientific report has some new findings that may cause fotball fans to take a second look at that communal bowl of dip.

January 30, 2008


by Gregory Norminton, Guardian

Can The Novella Save Literature?

by Jean Hannah Edelstein, Guardian

They're no less artful than full-length books, but they need less of your time. The perfect form for today's lifestyles.

It All Started With A Squirrel

by Bonny Wolf, Washington Post

I think I actually have eaten squirrel. It was not intentional.

Oysters, Beyond Raw

by Russ Parsons, Los Angeles Times

Why would anyone cook a perfectly good oyster? It's simple — there's no arguing with delicious.

In What City Did You Honeymoon?

by Josh Levin, Slate

And other monstrously stupid bank security questions.

January 29, 2008

Body Of Book

by Rachel Hadas, Slate

Why Do So Many Female Artists Put Themselves In Their Work - Often With No Clothes On?

by germaine Greer, Guardian

The woman who displays her own body as her artwork seems to me to be travelling in the tracks of an outworn tradition that spirals downward and inward to nothingness.

Friendly Fire

by Tessa Hadley, New Yorker

The Winner

by Sam Anderson, New York Magazine

Those who thought the writers' strike would bring down Leno misunderstood the power of his limitations.

January 28, 2008

If You Can't Win The Case, Buy An Election And Get Your Own Judge

by Janet Maslin, New York Times

"The Appeal" is John Grisham's handy primer on a timely subject: how to rig an election.

Memory Refill

by Judith Warner, New York Times

I love coffee. And though I have, previously, shown myself willing to forgo all kinds of food and drink in the quest to rid myself of migraines, coffee is one habit that I am firmly committed never to break.

That Looks Like Fun

by Joanna Weiss, Boston Globe

Wham-O's Richard Knerr brought America the Hula Hoop, the Frisbee, the Superball - and viral marketing.

Death's Army

by Geoffrey C. Ward, New York Times

Americans had never endured anything like the losses they suffered between 1861 and 1865 and have experienced nothing like them since. The lasting but little-understood impact of all that sacrifice is the subject of Drew Gilpin Faust's extraordinary new book, "This Republic of Suffering: Dath and the American Civil War."

Real Naked Ladies

by Lauren Collins, New Yorker

How do you get a bunch of normal chicks to strip and say cheese, assuming you're not a Mardi Gras regular or a Seven Sisters posture photographer? That was the dilemma facing Margot Roth, a first-time filmmaker, as she attempted to recruit participants for a documentary about naked women.

The Future

by Billy Collins, New Yorker

When I finally arrive there—
and it will take many days and nights—
I would like to believe others will be waiting
and might even want to know how it was.

January 27, 2008

Who Said Romance Was Dead?

by Francesca Segal, Guardian

In the time it takes you to read this page, Britons will have bought 100 novels by Mills & Boon, now in its centnary year.

For Strikers, The Agony Of Spare Time

by Melena Ryzik, New York Times

For union film and television writers, life without employment is starting to exact its toll.

The Age Of Ambition

by Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times

Today the most remarkable young people are the social entrepreneurs, those who see a problem in society and roll up their sleeves to address it in new ways.

Rethinking The Meat-Guzzler

by Mark Bittman, New York Times

A sea change in the consumption of a resource that Americans take for granted may be in store — something cheap, plentiful, widely enjoyed and a part of daily life. And it isn't oil.

It's meat.

January 26, 2008

The Long Goodbye

by Ben Ehrenreich, Poetry Foundation

In which our reporter falls for Frank Stanford's poetry, heads for the lost road of Arkansas, and searches for the man behind the myth.

Writing And A Tangled Web

by Peter Carey, Financial Times

Toay, on this New York morning, lying in bed, listening to the shower — today I will permit myself to take a holiday from writing.

January 25, 2008

Populist Prejudice

by Mark Lawson, Guardian

Crime books easier to write than 'serious' novels? That attitude is, frankly, cobblers.

The Atonal Century

by John Keillor, National Post

In 1908, after being lambasted in the press and cuckolded by his wife, Arnold Schoenberg reinvented classical music. We're still trying to figure out what comes next.

Pertinent Press

by Amanda Hess, Washington City Paper

How does an upstart poetry publisher pass the bullshit test?

January 24, 2008

Bobby Fischer Read Here

by Sara Blask, The Smart Set

At the Reykjavik bookstore where the chess great spent his final, hermit-like days.

The Tiger Woods Effect

by Joel Waldfogel, Slate

When he's in the field, everyone else plays worse. How Tiger throws off golf's incentive structure.

January 23, 2008

At Last, A $20,000 Cup Of Coffee

by Oliver Schwaner-Albright, New York Times

Professionals have long been willing to pay prices in the five figures for the perfect espresso machine, but the siphon bar does not make espresso. It makes brewed coffee, signaling the resurgence of brewing among the most obsessive coffee enthusiasts.

The Antilles: Fragments Of Epic Memory

by Derek Walcott

And this is the exact process of the making of poetry, or what shold be called not its "making" but its remaking, the fragmented memory, the armature that frames the god, event he rite that surrenders it to a final pyre; the god assembled cane by cane, reed by weaving reed, line by plaited line, as the artisans of Felicity wold erect his holy echo.


by Derek Walcott

Sea Grapes

by Derek Walcott

Food Lion, Winchester, Tennessee

by Joe Osterhaus, Slate

David Simon Asks, Does News Have Any Value?

by Scott Rosenberg, Wordyard

The news itself remains valuable. But most people are happy getting the headlines.

Sea Chest

by Stephen Sandy, The Atlantic

January 22, 2008

Does The News Matter To Anyone Anymore?

by David Simon, Washington Post

Isn't the news itself still valuable to anyone? In any format, through any medium — isn't an understanding of the events of the day still a salable commodity? Or were we kidding ourselves? Was a newspaper a viable entity only so long as it had classifieds, comics and the latest sports scores?

Political Animals (Yes, Animals)

by Natalie Angier, New York Times

Just as there are myriad strategies open to the human political animal with White House ambitions, so there are a number of nonhuman animals that behave like textbook polticians.

I Envy The Anonymity Shakespeare Enjoyed

by Mark Ravenhill, Guardian

At some point, every successful writer craves anonymity... until the rejection letters arrive.

January 21, 2008

Science Fiction

by Les Murray, New Yorker

And He Shall Be Called...

by Tom Scocca, Boston Globe

How do you name someone you hardly know?

Inconspicuous Consumption

by Jeanne Marie Laskas, Washington Post

A modern shopper pulls herself up by her boot laces.

The Prayer Dilemma

by Katherine Maxfield, San Francisco Chronicle

My religious philosophy has finally congealed: There is no personal or intergalactic God, and life, at least mine, is best lived by the Golden Rule, period. Richard Dawkins' book "The God Delusion" gathered my disjointed thoughts into the tidy statement. It's a relief to have it settled. Now what do I do about all the prayers?

You're Not A Poet, You Just Don't Know It

by Deborah Coddington, New Zealand Herald

Why do we fall about at the feet of poets whose work is just plain dull?

Children's Books: 'If Children Are To Become Readers For Life, They Must First Love Stories'

by Michael Morpurgo, Telegraph

Of course we must and should study literature in our schools, but first we have to imbue our children with a love of stories.

Thumbs Race As Japan's Best Sellers Go Cellular

by Norimitsu Onishi, New York Times

Until recently, cellphone novels — composed on phone keypads by young women wielding dexterous thumbs and ready by fans on their tiny screens — had been dismissed in Japan as a subgenre unworthy of the country that gave the world its first novel, "The Tale of Genji," a millennium ago. Then last month, the year-end best-seller tally showed that cellphone novels, republished in book form, have not only infiltrated the mainstream but have come to dominate it.

January 20, 2008

The Mystery Of Genius

by Andrew Motion, Guardian

A reassessment must not only reinterpret what is already known; it must remake the case for general readers almost from scratch.

On Africa's Roof, Still Crowned With Snow

by Neil Modie, New York Times

A thick veil of snow had settled on Kilimanjaro the morning after my group arrived in Tanzania. Over breakfast, we gazed at the peak filling the sky above the palm trees of our hotel courtyard in Moshi, the town closest to the mountain. It was as Hemingway described it: "as wide as all the world, great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun."

January 19, 2008

Chess' Pride And Sorrow

by Tim Rutten, Los Angeles Times

Bobby Fischer, who died a melancholy exile's death Friday at age 64, was that most perplexing of human characters — a protean genius and a repellent man. He was to American chess what Ezra Pound was to American poetry.

On Eloquence

by Denis Donoghue, Chronicle Of Higher Education

Eloquence is not the same as rhetoric. Eloquence isn't even a distant cousin of rhetoric — it comes from a different family and has different eyes, hair, and gait. Long thought to be a subset of rhetoric's devices, eloquence has declared its independence: It has no designs on readers or audiences. Its aim is pleasure; it thrives on freedom among the words. Unlike rhetoric, it has not sent any soldier to be killed in foreign countries.

What Is Southern?

by Edna Lewis, Gourmet

There is something about the South that stimulaes creativity in people.

January 18, 2008

Why We Love

by Jeffrey Kluger, Time

The lure of losing our faculties is one of the things that makes sex thrilling—and one of the vey things that keeps the species going. As far as your genes are concerned, your principal job while you're alive is to conceive offspring, bring them to adulthood and then obligingly die so you don't consume resources better spent on the yong Anything that encourages you to breed now and breed plenty gets that job done.

But mating and the rituals surrounding it make us come unhinged in other ways too, ones that are harder to explain by the mere babymaking imperative.

Superheroes In Real Life

by Ward Rubrecht, City Pages

Inspired by comic books, ordinary citizens are putting on masks to fight crime.

January 17, 2008

The $1.4 Trillion Question

by James Fallows, The Atlantic

The Chinese are subsidizing the American way of life. Are we playing them for suckers—or are they playing us?

In Praise Of Melancholy

by Eric G. Wilson, Chronicle Of Higher Education

American culture's overemphasis on happiness misses an essential part of a full life.

No Good For Nothing: The Attack Of The Crapsheets

by Nicholas Lezard, Guardian

They may not cost any money, but free evening papers are exacting a heavy toll from literate culture.

Dmitri's Choice

by Ron Rosenbaum, Slate

Nabokov wanted his final, unfinished work destroyed. Should his son get out the matches?

January 16, 2008

Solving A Riddle Wrapped In A Mystery Inside A Cookie

by Jennifer 8. Lee, New York Times

Some 3 billion fortune cookies are made each year, almost all in the United States. But the crisp cookies wrapped around enigmatic sayings have spread around the world.

But there is one place where fortune cookies are conspicuously absent: China.

Keys To The Kingdom

by Annie Leibovitz, Vanity Fair

Between them, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg have made 13 of the 100 top-grossing movies of all time. Yet they struggled for more than a decade with the upcoming fourth installment of their billion-dollar Indiana Jones franchise.

January 15, 2008

My Young Mother

by Michael Ryan, Slate

Why Capitalism Is Good For The Soul

by Peter Saunders, Policy

Nobody planned the global capitalist system, nobody runs it, and nobody really comprehends it.

Fishing Around

by Robert Mezey, New Yorker

Ash Monday

by T. Coraghessan Boyle, New Yorker

Why People Believe Weird Things About Money

by Michael Shermer, Los Angeles Times

Evolution accounts for a lot of our strange ideas about finances.

Jeffrey Eugenides: Enduring Love

by Mick Brown, Telegraph

He may take nearly a decade between novels, but then Jeffrey Eugenides likes to take his time - and as a Pulitzer prizewinner and author of the cult novel The Virgin Suicides, he is clearly on the right track.

Ms. Fix-It

by Kay Hymowitz, Wall Street Journal

The home-improvement industry has always been a no-woman's land known for its drab aisles lined with nail bins and mysterious steel objects whose purpose was understood only by grunting guys in flannel shirts. Now it is going designer pink.

Big Brain Theory: Have Cosmologists Lost Theirs?

by Dennis Overbye, New York Times

It could be the weirdest and most embarrassing prediction in the history of cosmology, if not science.

If true, it would mean that you yourself reading this article are more likely to be some momentary fluctuation in a field of matter and energy out in space than a person with a real past born through billions of years of evolution in an orderly star-spangled cosmos. Your memories and the world you think you see around you are illusions.

January 14, 2008

The Joy Of Nano

by Finlo Rohrer, BBC News

We listen to our music on nanos, we style our hair with nanos, with the arrival of the Tata Nano people will even be driving nanos, but why are so many products called nano?

And Then There Was One

by Monte Reel, Washington Post

Discovery of a lone survivor of an unknown Indian tribe in Brazil set off accusations of murder and a struggle over ownership of one of the world's last great wilderness areas.

The 'Thirtysomething' Power Players

by Rebecca Dana, Wall Street Journal

20 years later, "thirtysomething" isn't even available on DVD, and none of its cast members have gone on to acting stardom. But nearly all of them have become highly influential in the entertainment world in other ways, stepping behind the cameras to write, direct and product hit television shows this season.

The Chicken Soup Chronicles

by Nora Ephron, New York Times

The other day I felt a cold coming on. So I decided to have chicken soup to ward off the cold. Nonetheless I got the cold. This happens all the time: you think you're getting a cold; you have chicken soup; you get the cold anyway. So: is it possible that chicken soup gives you a cold?

January 13, 2008

Great Adaptations

by Sophie Gee, New York Times

Modern popularizers have come to the rescue, with striking commercial success.

F**cking The Ficus In Santa Monica

by Max Taves, LA Weekly

Doomed by 1950s tree planters, who never imagined the ferocity of the consumer age.

Has Gawker Jumped The Snark?

by Allen Salkin, New York Times

January 12, 2008

Drip Grind

by Doron Taussig, Washington Monthly

Taylor Clark's weak case against Starbucks.

Rich Kid Syndrome

by Jennifer Senior, New York Magazine

America's burgeoning money culture is producing a record number of heirs—but handing down values is harder than handing down wealth.

China's Next Revolution

by Joshua Kurlantzick,

With the Beijing Olympics only months away, a massive wave of protests is sweeping the country over government landgrabs—and unlike past movements, many of the demonstrators are urban professionals. Will the battles over property spur demands for broader rights?

January 10, 2008

The Lost Art Of Cooperation

by Benjamin R. Barber, Wilson Quarterly

What's gone wrong here? Why, as a nation, are we so obsessed with competition, so indifferent to cooperation?

Can A Woman Pilot A War Novel?

by John Sutherland, Guardian

It's still pretty much a male preserve in real life, so why has AL Kennedy chosen to grasp the fictional joystick?

January 9, 2008

Europe's Philosophy Of Failure

by Stefan Theil, Foreign Policy

In France and Germany, students are being forced to undergo a dangerous indoctrination. Taught that economic principles such as capitalism, free markets, and entrepreneurship are savage, unhealthy, and immoral, these children are raised on a diet of prejudice and bias. Rooting it out may determine whether Europe's economies prosper or continue to be left behind.

January 8, 2008


by Tom Sleigh, Slate

The first word God said made everything
out of noting. But the nothing shows through—

One By One, Narratives Reflecting Life's Mosaic

by Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

Whether they are old-fashioned narratives, playful improvisations or comic-strip-like tales told in pictures, these stories force us to re-evaluate that old chestnut "Character is destiny."

Michael Pollan's Manifesto On Eating Well

by Craig Seligman, Salon

The polemical sequel to "The Omnivore's Dilemma," Pollan's new book shows how processed foods are making us fat and sick — and why eaters must revolt.

Will The Humanities Save Us?

by Stanley Fish, New York Times

To the question "of what use are the humanities?", the only honest answer is none whatsoever. And it is an answer that brings honor to its subject.

January 7, 2008

The Kid's Bike Sex Change

by David Curran, San Francisco Chronicle

When my daughter grew out of her rosy ride, we proposed giving it to our son. And he let us know - in about two seconds - that he had zero interest in riding what was so obviously "a gull's bike." Fine.

Keeping It Real

by James Gleick, New York Times

What is Magna Carta worth? Exactly $21,321,000. We know because that's what it fetched in a fair public auction at Sotheby's in New York just before Christmas. Twenty-one million is, by far, the most ever pad for a page of text, and therein lies a paradox: Information is now cheaper than ever and also more expensive.

January 6, 2008

Reading The Koran

by Tariq Ramadan, New York Times

The Koran may be read at several levels, in quite distinct fields.

Blind Faiths

by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, New York Times

Several authors have published books on radical Islam's threat to the West since that shocking morning in September six years ago. With "The Suicide of Reason," Lee Harris joins their ranks. But he distinguishes himself by going further than most of his counterparts: he considers the very worst possibility — the destruction of the West by radical Islam.

Downtime: It's Enough To Make Some People Sick

by Lindsay Minnema, Washington Post

Some research suggests illness goes up when the stress of work goes down. Skeptics are immune to this theory.

January 5, 2008

Dieting For Dollars

by Richard B. McKenzie, Wall Street Journal

An economist explains his weight-loss plan.

A User Manual To Seat 21C

by Wayne Curtis, New York Times

Congratulations on selecting seat 21C! This manual is intended to familiarize you with the many options available to you.

A Double Beefcake, Light On The Dressing

by Robin Givhan, Washington Post

So does objectifying a man disminish him? And if it does, is that worth applauding because it means the playing field has been leveled a bit?

The Reading Cure

by Blake Morrison, Guardian

The idea that literature can make us emotionally and physically stronger goes back to Plato. But now book groups are proving that Shakespeare can be as beneficial as self-help guides.

Street Smarts In Bangkok

by Joshua Kurlantzick, New York Times

Small places often prove to be the best eating spots in many cities. But for historical reasons Bangkok may boast the finest street food on earth.

The Last Dead

by Drew Johnson, Virginia Quarterly Review

January 4, 2008

Why Life Is Good

by Matthew Taylor, New Statesman

A dangerous gap exists between our personal experience, which is mainly happy, and our view of a society in decline.

The Angriest Man In Television

by Mark Bowden, The Atlantic

How David Simons's disappointment with the industry that let him down made The Wire the greatest show on television—and why his searing vision shouldn't be confused with reality.

January 3, 2008

Auntie's Awakening

by Tamara Jones, Washington Post

She overcame heartbreak and made a whole lot of dough in pretzels. NowA nne Beiler serves life lessons to others in Pennsylvania's Amish country.

The Scourge Of The Builable Hour

by Lisa Lerer, Slate

Could law firm cliemts finally kill it off?

January 2, 2008

The Making, And Breaking, Of Resolutions Is Only Human

by Monica Hesse, Washington Post

With such ridiculously miserable rates of achievement, the logical question to ask isn't how we can better reach our goals, but: Why do we even bother making them to begin with? Are we just hopelessly stupid?

From Student Rag To Literary Riches

by Simon Garfield, Guardian

Launched in 1979 under the inspired lunacy' of Bill Buford, Granta magazine became the home of vital new writing and launched the careers of some of our greatest novelists. As it celebrates its 100th issue, we ask editors past and present how a tiny Cambridge journal rose to conquer the literary world.

The Invisible Ingredient In Every Kitchen

by Harold McGee, New York Times

Of all the ingredients in the kitchen, the most common is also the most mysterious.

It's hard to measure and hard to control. It's not a material like water or flour, to be added by the cup. In fact, it's invisible.

It's heat.

Selling Sex In Honeymoon Heaven

by Ginger Strand, The Believer

Feminity, Niagara Falls, and the genuine allure of an American fake.

January 1, 2008


by Sharon Olds, New Yorker

Cairo, N.Y.

by Cornelius Eady, New Yorker

The town near our house
Isn't fancy, but it is ripe.
At present, it is still on
The wrong side of
The Hudson River.


by John Updike, New Yorker

For China's Journalism Students, Censorshiop Is A Core Concept

by Edward Cody, Washington Post

The party's Central Committee in 2001 urged Chinese media and journalism schools to adopt the concept of "Marxist journalism." The term was broadly interpreted to mean journalism that the government views as improving society and taking account of Chinese realities, including censorship under one-party rule.

Second Thoughts On Life, The Universe And Everything By World's Best Brains

by James Randerson, The Guardian

The changes of mind that gave philosophers and scientists new insights.

The Library's Helpful Sage Of The Stacks

by Sam Roberts, New York Times

Most writers remember exactly how they they met David Smith.

In 2008, A 100 Percent Chance Of Alarm

by John Tierney, New York Times

When judging risks, we often go wrong by using what's called the availability heuristic: we gauge a danger according to how many examples of it are readily available in our minds.

By Heng-Cheong Leong