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March 31, 2008

The Art Of Having A Baby

by Laura Cumming, Guardian

Fertility in art is generalised, if I may so generalise. It is an attribute in search of a body.

March 30, 2008

Ode To An Onion Ring, And Other Fast Food In The Slower Lane

by David Itzkoff, New York Times

Fast food has always been an especially effective stimulant of the synapses that link my unrefined palate to the pleasure center of my brain, and it seems to do so in direct proportion to the obscurity of the restaurant chain that served it.

The Joy Of (Still) Cooking

by Kate Stone Lombardi, New York Times

In many households, the pots and pans are all but retired with the emptying of the nest. No more countless supermarket runs — just the occasional small shopping trip. No more nightly grind of turning out balanced meals with protein, vegetables and a starch. No more scrubbing pots and pans. You trade all that for freedom.

And that's the part that baffles me. Freedom from what? Eating tasty, home-cooked meals?

Guess Who's Coming To Power

by Raymond Bonner, New York Times

A young, well-traveled, multilingual foreign-policy scholar, Parag Khanna, suggests in "The Second World" that we are on the cusp of a new new world order — "a multipolar and multicivilizational world of three distinct superpowers competing on a planet of shrinking resources." The three are the United States, the European Union and China.

Uncivil Action

by Steven Brill, New York Times

Grishma sticks with his formula for the villains in "The Appeal." But he paints a more complicated picture of the heroes, while making an important point about how the justice system in more than half of the 50 states is increasingly threatened by the kind of big-money gutter politics that have made so many Americans disgusted with Washington.

She Did What?

by Ty Burr, Boston Globe

As one starlet after another goes off the rails, what kind of exmaple are they setting for American girls? Maybe a good one. Meet a new cultural force: the anti-role model.

In Search Of The Visible Woman

by Geraldine Bedell, Guardian

Women are in a bad way. We are still mae scapegoats and traduced and our true natures denied. Two female polemicists have published books explaining why, although they ahve come to very different, arguably opposing conclusions. One is also very much better than the other.

'WIth A Few More Brains...'

by Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times

The dumbing-down of discourse has been particularly striking since the 1970s. Think of the devolution of the emblematic conservative voice from WIlliam Buckley to Bill O'Reilly. It's enough to make one doubt Darwin.

It's Not You, It's Your Books

by Rachel Donadio, New York Times

Let's face it — this may be a gender issue. Brainy women are probably more sensitive to literary deal breakers than are brainy men. (Rare is the guy who'd throw a pretty girl out of bed for revealing her imperfect taste in books.)

March 29, 2008

Words Will Tell

by Andrew Bird, New York Times

What is becoming more challenging of late is dealing with so many fully formed melodies that are unwilling to change their shape for any word. So writing lyrics becomes like running multiple code-breaking programs in your head until just the right word with just the right number of syllables, tone of vowel and finally some semblance of meaning all snap into place.

'Nobody Ever Did Want Me'

by Margaret Atwood, Guardian

The story of an orphaned, talkative, redheaded 11-year-old sent to a remote farm by mistake, Anne of Green Gables was an instant success in 1908 and, a century later, is still loved by girls from Canada to Japan.

For Sale: My Past, $348.20

by Lawrence Grobel, Los Angeles Times

We printed 2,000 copies of each issue and sold them for 50 cents each. So, imagine my surprise when I recently discovered that had a listing under my name that said: "SATYR. Paperback. Used. $366."

Writing The Nation

by Philip Hensher, Prospect

The "state of the nation" novel is back in fashion, with recent examples from Hanif Kureishi, Sebastian Faulks and Louis de Bernieres. But many of these books focus too closely on "authentic" period detail at the expense of convincing characters and stories.

The Price Is Right

by Tim Harford, Slate

Does evolution explain why we hate to pay more for scarce goods?

Fox On The Run

by James Poniewozik, Time

For better or worse, Fox became the signal cultural artifact of the Bush era, so it will need to remodel itself again.

March 28, 2008

Those Americans Falling From The Sky

by Fiona McFarlane, Zoetrope

When I tell our husbands the story of the bad-luck Americans, I begin with Edith because whent he Americans came, moving into the airstrip out of town, expanding it with new buildings and sheds and hangars, bringing with tme a brass band that practiced in the streets of a Saturday, I thought of the planes that hummed over our newly crowded sky as tiny Ediths with their parrot faces pointed toward the sun.

"How Do You Like Your World?"

by Travis Nichols, Poetry Foundation

The zen of Philip Whalen.

Has Reading About Books Replaced The Real Thing?

by John Freeman, Guardian

The sheer amount of reviews we can now access has taken some of the joy out of books.

March 27, 2008

Resist The Princesses

by Rosa Brooks, Los Angeles Times

Mothers of America, Disney wants to destroy you.

The Art Of Literature And The Science Of Literature

by Brian Boyd, The American Scholar

The delight we get from detecting patterns in books, and in life, can be measured and understood.

We Were Never Meant To Read

by William Leith, Telegraph

If I tell you that this book is about reading, that doesn't sound very interesting, does it? It conjures up the impression of somebody sitting on a chair, holding a book or newspaper, not appearing to do very much.

But this book is, at least in parts, blindingly fascinating. Its point is that, when you sit on a chair and pick up a book, a huge amount of stuff is happening.

March 26, 2008

Spaghetti Stir-Fry And Hambagoo: Japan Looks West

by Norimitsu Onishi, New York Times

At once familiar and alien, these dishes may make Americans feel, with some justification, that they have wndered into a parallel culinary universe. All are standards of a style of Japanese cuisine known as yoshoku, or "Western food," in which European or American dishes were imported and, in true Japanese fashion, shaped and reshaped to fit local tastes.

How To Survive In New York On 99 Cents

by Henry Alford, New York Times

When I heard that the food you can by at 99-cent stores is more diverse than you might imagine, I decided to conduct an experiment. I'd make dinner every night for a week using mostly ingredients bought at these stores and then, on the eighth night — once I'd gotten my game down — I'd prepare a meal for friends made only from ingredients bought at 99-cent stores.

No Trash Talking At This Museum To The Clean Team

by David Segal, Washington Post

The soon-to-be-unveiled museum devoted to the sanitation workers of New York — do not call them garbagemen — will prompt smart alecks to wonder: Are they just cranking out museums for anybody these days?

March 25, 2008


by Kevin Barents, Slate

On Borrowed Time

by Michael Gecan, Boston Review

Urban decline moves to the suburbs.

Writing About Women Who Are Soccer Moms Without Soccer

by Motoko Rich, New York Times

What she wanted, she said, was to capture the nuances of characters who happened to have children and happened not to work.

Olympic Fallacies

by Anne Applebaum, Washington Post

No one involved in the preparations for this year's Olympics really believes that this is "only about the athletes," or that the Beijing Games will be an innocent display of sporting prowess, or that they bear no relation to Chinese politics. I don't see why the rest of us should believe those things, either.

'The Library At Night' By Alberto Manguel

by Nicholas A Basbanes, Los Angeles Times

A biblophile writes a love letter about his passion.

Anonymous Poet

by Stanley Moss, New Yorker

Great Experiment

by Jeffrey Eugenides, New Yorker

Penny Dreadful

by David Owen, New Yorker

They're horrid and useless. Why do pennies persist?

Out Of Print

by Eric Alterman, New Yorker

The death and life of the American newspaper.

The Best-Laid Plans

by Sloane Crosley, Salon

I had all these romantic notions about one-night stands. Who knew it would be so diffcult to actually have one?

A Boy's Life, Guided By The Voice Of Cosmic Wonder

by Dennis Overbye, New York Times

On the night last week after Arthur C. Clarke, the science fiction writer and space visionary, died at the ripe age of 90, it was cloudy and threatening rain in New York. I was frustrated because I wanted to go outside to see if the stars were still there.

You Say Recession, I Say "Reservations!'

by Michael Barbaro and Christine Haughney, New York Times

The collapse of a major financial institution is usually an occasion for hand-wringing and tut-tutting over potential job losses, lower consumer spending and missed mortgage payments.

In New York City, it's also seen as an opportunity.

March 24, 2008

The Optimistic Thought Experiment

by Peter A. Thiel, Policy Review

In the long run, there are no good bets against globalization.

March 23, 2008

War Dodgers

by Ben Ehrenreich, New York Times

While Canada is still a relative haven for asylum-seekers, its immigration laws have tightened sharply, and prime minister Stephen Harper has been a faithful ally of the Bush administration.

A Tree Grows In The Haight-Ashbury

by Laura Fraser, San Francisco Chronicle

Not long after I moved into the Haight-Ashbury, more than 20 years ago, a hippie friend gave me a redwood seedling and told me to go plant a tree.

The Fuzzier Crystal Ball

by Dave Itzkoff, New York Times

In a world where technology evolves so rapidly that the present already feels like the future, will a modern-day author ever inherit Mr. Clarke's aura of prescience? Do any of his successors share his apparent talent for envisioning technological breakthroughs before they are realized?

The China Card

by Robert D. Kaplan, New York Times

While the United States remains focused on the Middle East, China quietly and relentlessly creeps forward as a national security challenge.

Horror! Suspense! Censorship!

by Dennis Drabelle, Washington Post

A cultural critic recounts how comics were ripped out of kids' grubby hands.

The Brothel Creeper

by Sebastian Horsley, The Observer

I am a connoisseur of prostitution: I can take its bouquet, taste it, roll it around my mouth, give you the vintage.

March 22, 2008

A Building Tells A Million Stories

by Edwin Heathcote, Financial Times

If you approach Renzo Piano's Paris office from the Seine, it looks like just another bourgeois entranc — simple name-plate, passage, bell, metal door. If you approach it from the north, though, you immediately see why the sign reads not "Renzo Piano Architect" but "Renzo Piano Building Workshop".

A Night On The Streets

by Robert Kolker, New York Magazine

Homelessness is the single biggest failure of the Bloomberg administration, which has tried a radcial new policy that's made an interactable problem worse. Thee are ovrer 35,000 homeless now in the city. On a single cold night in February, we met six of them.

The Book Of The Undead

by Paul Collins, Slate

Why won't phone books die?

March 21, 2008

Partying Like It's 1929

by Paul Krugman, New York Times

It's time to relearn the lessons of the 1930s, and get the financial system back under control.

Where Angels No Longer Fear To Tread

by The Economist

Science and religion have often been at loggerheads. Now the former has decided to resolve the problem by trying to explain the existence of the latter.

March 20, 2008

Clicking, At Last, On 'Don't Print'

by Lisa Belkin, New York Times

This week, when it comes time to press "print" on my dozens of pages of data, I froze.

March 19, 2008

The Last Rendezvous With Arthur C. Clarke

by Andrew Leonard, Salon

I remember as if it was yesterday the anticipatory rush that flooded through me as I began to turn that first page on a new (to me) science fiction novel from a giant like Arthur C. Clarke. I remember the happy expectation that my mind was about to be blown.


by Harriet Rubin,

Weren't we supposed to be beyond this by now? After years of progress, women's gains at work have come to a baffling halt.

March 18, 2008


by Les Murray, New Yorker

The Region Of Unlikeness

by Rivka Galchen, New Yorker

March 17, 2008

Dollars And Nonsense

by Patrick McVay, Boston Globe

It was my own money, and if I wanted to look ridiculous, that was my business.

March 16, 2008

I Feel Good

by Alexander Star, New York Times

If horses can alter their own brain chemistries at will (and have good reasons to do so), what about human beings?

March 15, 2008

Left Behind

by Anna Jane Grossman, Washington Post

A fond farewell to 209 once-common things that are either obsolete or well on the way.

Wild And Crazy Guys

by Matt Weiland, New York Times

The 1970s saw the emergence of a new hero: the stand-up comic.

The Atheist Delusion

by John Gray, Guardian

The problem with the secular narrative is not that it assumes progress is inevitable (in many versions, it does not). It is the belief that the sort of advance that has been achieved in science can be reproduced in ethics and politics.

March 13, 2008

The Global Rose As Social Tool

by Roger Cohen, New York Times

The view persists that a rose is a rose is a rose. But that's so 20th century! In this new era a rose is a global product vested with the power to bring social and environmental change.

March 12, 2008

Your Waiter Tonight... Will Be The Chef

by Julia Moskin, New York Times

The chefs are not only cooking and plating the food, but also serving it, taking coats, recommendign wine and confirming reservations.

Poaching, With Particulars, Can Handle Fish Perfectly

by Andreas Viestad, Washington Post

When was the last time anyone asked how you would like your fish cooked: medium, or medium-rare?

Who Says Women Aren't Funny?

by Alessandra Stanley, Vanity Fair

The idea that women aren't funny—and which male said that?—seems pretty laughable these days. TV has unleashed a new generation of comediennes, who act, perform stand-up, write, and direct—dishing out the jokes with a side of sexy.

March 11, 2008

For D.

by Rosanna Warren, Slate

The Bell Ringer

by John Burnside, New Yorker

Sex, '70s-Style

by Amy Reiter, Salon

Swingers, short skirts, blowup dolls and big hearts: "Love American Style" taught a generation of kids about sex. So how does it look now that we're all grown up?

March 10, 2008

The Joy Of Boredom

by Carolyn Y. Johnson, Boston Globe

Don't check that e-mail. Don't answer that phone. Just sit there. You might be surprised by what happens.

Book Lovers Ask, What's Seattle's Secret?

by Julie Bick, New York Times

Though the big publishing houses are still ensconced in New York, the Seattle area is the home of Amazon, Starbucks and Costco, three companies that increasingly influence what America reads.

The Vow

by Liza Mundy, Washington Post

When Dave Kendall promised to love Diana "in sickness and in health," he meant it.

When Science Meets The Soul

by Darshak Shanghavi, Boston Globe

Maria and Jose Azevedo had to choose: allow their baby to die a preventable death or save him while acting against their religion. The doctor who helped guide them shares their story.

Godo Instincts

by Jim Holt, New York Times

Is altruism really best understood as an urge wired into us by selfish genes?

March 8, 2008

Facts From Fiction

by The Economist

Recent scientific progress means that ever more imaginative scenarios have begun to look feasible.

March 7, 2008

The End Of Cosmology?

by Lawrence M. Krauss and Robert J. Scherrer, Scientific American

An accelerating universe wipes out traces of its own origins.

At The Heart Of All Matter

by Joel Achenbach, National Geographic Magazine

The hunt for the God particle.

March 6, 2008

True Or False: Book Publishers Can Avoid THe Agony Of Deceit

by Bob Thompson, Washington Post

Two words: Fact check!

The Man Who Ruined The Novel

by Stephen Marche, Salon

Alain Robbe-Grillet turned the masses against inventive fiction. Now that he's dead, will experimental writing make a comeback?

March 5, 2008

Yes, MSG, The Secret Behind The Savor

by Julia Moskin, New York Times

Cooks around the world have remained dedicated to MSG, even though they may not know it by that name.

Lies And Consequences

by Meghan O'Rourke, Slate

Why are book editors so bad at spotting fake memoirs?

March 4, 2008


by Linda Pastan, Slate


by Stephen Dunn, New Yorker

Raj, Bohemian

by Hari Kunzru, New Yorker

We liked to do things casually. We called at the last minute. We messaged one another from our hand-held devices.

Words Matter

by Christopher Hitchens, Slate

Cliche, not plagiarism, is the problem with today's pallid political discourse.

March 3, 2008

Does Boston Really Need A Mayor?

by Tom Keane, Boston Globe

More and more, the job of running a municipality seems better-suited to a professional manager.

Teaching Boys And Girls Separately

by Elizabeth Weil, New York Times

Separating schoolboys from schoolgirls has long been a staple of private and parochial education. But the idea is now gaining traction in American public schools, in response to both the desire of parents to have more choice in their children's public education and the separate crises girls and boys have been widely reported to experience.

On The Road

by Chuck Klosterman, The Believer

What's the difference between a road movie and a movei that just happens to have roads in it?

March 2, 2008

The Spirits Behind The Writers

by Joseph Tartakovsky, Los Angeles Times

Understanding the great scribes' fondness for alcohol.

Please Call Earth. We Still Haven't Found You.

by Dennis OVerbye, New York Times

You might think we have made some headway in finding extraterrestrial life since the dawn of the space age. But you would be wrong.

By Heng-Cheong Leong