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July 31, 2008

Double Trouble: Are Breast Enlargements Imitation Or Mutilation?

by Bethan Cole, The Independent

Surely, like facial wrinkles, we need to learn to love the slight imperfections that ageing bestows. These are signs that our bodies have travelled and worked and experienced emotions, not scars or disfigurements that should be erased.

The Great Vegan Honey Debate

by Daniel Engber, Slate

There is no more contentious question in the world of veganism that the one posed by honey.

July 30, 2008

Touched By A Vampire

by Laura Miller, Salon

Preteen girls — and their grown-up moms — are sinking their teeth into Stephenie Meyer's gothic "Twilight" books by the millions. Move over, J.K. Rowling.

The Rise And Rise Of The First Novel

by Claire Armitstead, The Guardian

The novel, we have always been told, is a form that requires patience, perseverance and the sort of life experience that is unavailable to most twentysomethings.

Out Of Sight

by Pamela Colloff, Texas Monthly

For the 140 students lucky enough to attend the Texas School for the Blind, life is about team sports, class plays, American Idol parties, and prom night. In fact, it's the one place where they can see themselves for who they areally are: typical teenagers.

July 29, 2008

For Marriage, The Honeymoon's Over

by Carlin Romano, Chronicle Of Higher Education

Till death does the confusion last.

Can anyone, in or out of a marriage, explain what it is?


by Dan Chiasson, Slate

Anything But Clear

by Kenneth Chang, New York Times

Philip W. Anderson, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist at Princeton, wrote in 1995: "The deepest and most interesting unsolved problem in solid state theory is probably the theory of the nature of glass and the glass transition." He added, "This could be the next breakthrough in the coming decade."

Thirteen years later, scientists still disagree, with some vehemence, about the nature of glass.

July 28, 2008


by Roberto Bolano, New Yorker

She had big breasts, slim legs, and blue eyes. That's how I like to remember her. I don't know why I fell madly in love with her, but I did, and at the start, I mean for the first days, the first hours, it all went fine; then Clara returned to the city where she lived, in the south of Spain (she'd been on vacation in Barcelona), and everything began to fall apart.

Before The Storm

by Louise Gluck, New Yorker

Ancient Anecdotage

by Kathryn Starbuck, New Yorker

July 27, 2008

Dark Prophet

by Mark Feeney, Boston Globe

Paranoia came naturally to Philip K. Dick. Bedeviled by drug abuse, mental illness, and the bill collector, he had good reason to think people might be out to get him.

What We're Seeing Is The Creation Of A New Art Form

by Naomi Alderman, The Guardian

There's one simple case for the importance of the ebook reader. It's made by the teetering piles of books around my flat, by the bookshelves two or three deep, adn by the harrowing sifting sessions, sending a few precious volumes to the charity shop to make room for more.

Ice Free

by Stephan Faris, New York Times

While most of the world sees only peril in the island's meltwater, Greenland's independence movement has explicitly tied its fortunes to the warming of the globe.

Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading?

by Motoko Rich, New York Times

Just what it means to read in the digital age.

July 26, 2008

Will I Am

by Liesl Schillinger, New York Times

Heavens to Murgatroyd! What could William Shakespeare, bard of Avon, possibly have in common with the cartoon characters Lilo and Stich, Mickey Mouse and Buzz Lightyear? If you read "My Name Is WIll," a lusty, pun-drunk first novel by the professional wiseacre and award-winning cartoon producer Jess Winfield (who had a hand in the above-entioned entertaiments), you will indubitably find out. But be "vewwy, vewwy careful."


by Farhad Manjoo, New York Times

That we are, as a nation, consumed by consumerism will surprise few. But as the journalist Rob Walker points out in "Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are," few of us will admit that we frequently succumb to salesmanship, and that marketing produces in us needs we never knew we had.

Seeking Perfection In The Kitchen Of A 4-Star Restaurant

by Harry Hurt III, New York Times

At my request, Eric and Chris Muller arranged for me to get a firsthand experience of Le Bernardin's exquisite attention to detail during two seven-hour lunch and dinner shifts.

Not All Bad News

by The Economist

Newspapers are thriving in many developing countries.

July 25, 2008

Prowling In The Land Of Unequal Opportunity

by Richard Eder, New York Times

The point is that the best of the pieces are something quite different from journalism. They are small absurdist gems.

Buy Shanghai!

by Patricia Marx, New Yorker

A city for sale.

To Starbucks, A Closing; To Newark, A Trauma

by Kareem Fahim, New York Times

The green aprons, the blond wood, the safari-themed coffee art and the chalkboards. From Chula Vista, Calif., to Bangor, Me., all Starbucks are more or less the same. And that's how the company wants it.

But every store, as it turns out, is not quite the same.

The Balcony Is Closed

by Roger Ebert, Chicaco Sun-Times

I remember what Gene said to me in that dressing room before the Carson Show: "Roger, we're a couple of kids from the Midwest. We don't belong here."

July 24, 2008

Read Giles Coren's Letter To Times Subs

by Giles Coren, The Guardian

Sorry to go on. Anger, real steaming fucking anger can make a man verbose.

Scully Have I Loved

by Rebecca Traister, Salon

Fox Mulder was brilliant and sexy in "The X-Files" — but it's Dana Scully who has my heart.

Supply-Side Education

by David Glenn, The Chronicle Of Higher Education

What explains the growing gap in wages?

July 23, 2008

A Dish That Gets Fuzzy Reception

by Jane Black, Washington Post

Chef Stefano Frigerio braces himself when he puts rabbit on the menu at Mio. It's only a matter of time before someone complains.

George W. Bush: "Awesome!"

by ANdrea Higbie, Salon

The president has used "awesome" to describe everything from dead soldiers to the pope. How did a slang word trickle up to the highest office in the land?

Paul Bocuse Could Make French Fast Food The Next Nouvelle Cuisine

by David Appell, Los Angeles Times

How do you say 'to go' in French? Superstar chef Bocuse says he 'saw the opportunity to feed thousands of people going to the cinema' — and others in France are following his lead.

March Of The Tourists

by Julia Whitty, Mother Jones

Polar Earth is thawing. Does it matter if the visiting hordes don't understand?

July 22, 2008

A Look Back At The New Age

by Paul Beston, Wall Street Journal

Tom Fels's "Farm Friends," although a 1960s memoir, does not really belong to his generation's self-celebratory tradition. It concerns a group of people who, in the manner of 19th-century utopian communities, lived on a communal farm in western Massachusetts in the late 1960s and early 1970s.


by Paul Breslin, Slate

Mirrors Don't Lie. Mislead? Oh, Yes.

by Natalie Angier, New York Times

To scientists, the simltaneous simplicity and complexity of mirrors make them powerful tools for exploring questions about perception and cognition in humans and other neuronally gifted species, and how the brain interprets and acts upon the great tides of sensory information from the external world.

Want To Know How To Lose Me As A Friend? Just Buy Me A Book And Say: 'This Is So You'

by Mark Ravenhill, The Guardian

So me! Crunch! Flop! Aghh! Instantly, the book loses its power.

Paradise Unpaved

by Franke James, My Green Conscience

We unpaved our paradise and it's gorgeous!

July 21, 2008

Last Year I Killed A Man

by Vaughan Thomas, The Guardian

The impact was only a matter of seconds in coming, but those seconds felt like minutes. This wasn't how it was meant to be. It wasn't how I had imagined it during my years as a Central line train driver.

A Child With A Problem, A Family With An Excuse

by Janet Maslin, New York Times

Jennifer Haigh has a great gift for telling interwoven family stories and doing justice to all the different perspectives they present.

The Teacher

by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, New Yorker

Never Mind

by Dorothea Tanning, New Yorker

Why I Hate Summer

by Rachel Shukert, Salon

Sweaty thighs sticking to plastic chairs? Miserable barbecues and forced merriment? Thanks, but I'll pass.

July 20, 2008

Search For Alien Life Gains New Impetus

by Marc Kaufman, Washington Post

When Paul Butler began hunting for planets beyond our solar system, few poeple took him seriously, and some, he says, questioned his credentials as a scientist. That was a decade ago, befure Butler helped find some of the first extra-solar planets, and before he and his team identified about half of the 300 discovered since.

The Next Kind Of Integration

by Emily Bazelon, New York Times

With its decision in Meredith, the court was forcing Louisville to rethink the way it would assign elementary-school students and, in the process, to confront some tricky questions. Is the purpose of integration simply to mix students of different colors for the sake of equity or to foaster greater familiarity and comfort among the rces? Should integration necessarily translate into concrete gains like greater achievement for all students? If so, is mixing students by race the most effective mechanism for attaining it?

'Eating Skillfully'

by Dawn Drzal, New York Times

WHat makes "Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper" a distinguished contribution to the literature of gastronomy is its demonstration, through one person's intense experience, that food is not a mere reflecton of culture but a potent shaper of cultural identity.

Worst Person I Know

by Ann Hodgman, New York Times

Ah, the mother-in-law, that staple of stand-up comedy routines. Does she still have any power left after decades of pummeling? In Mameve Medwed's new novel, "Of Men and Their Mothers," she certainly does. Ina Pollock, Maisie Grey's loathsome ex-mother-in-law, can raise the reader's pulse with a single phone call — or, in this case, a series of messages left when there was no chance Maisie would be home.

I'm Y.A., And I'm O.K.

by Margo Rabb, New York Times

My literary novel about death and grief, which I'd worked on for eight years, was a young adult book?

July 19, 2008

Spreading The Word, Through Pamphlets

by Lisa Anne Auerbach, Los Angeles Times

Interested in changing people's lives? Forget writing a book or teaching a class. Consider being the author of a tract instead.

July 18, 2008

Kick Over The Scenery

by Stephen Burt, London Review Of Books

When an art form or genre once dismissed as kids' stuff starts to get taken seriously by gatekeepers - by journals, for example, such as the one you are reading now - respect doesn't come smoothly, or all at once. Often one artist gets lifted above the rest, his principal works exalted for qualities that other works of the same kind seem not to possess. Later on, the quondam genius looks, if no less talented, less solitary: first among equals, or maybe just first past the post. That is what happened to rock music in the late 1960s, when sophisticated cirtic decided, as Richard Poirier put it, to start 'learning from the Beatles'. It is what happened to comics, too, in the early 1990s, when the Pulitzer Prize committee invented an award for Art Spiegelman's Maus. And it has happened to science ficitoin, where the anointed author is Philip K. Dick.

The Art Of Dying

by Brendan Kiley, The Stranger

How one guy in Seattle is changing what happens when we die.

Selected Poems By Kay Ryan

by Kay Ryan, New York Times

Knowing Me, Knowing ABBA

by Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon

How did a cheesy Scandinavian pop group in jumpsuits and blue eye shadow become as seriously beloved as the Beatles?

July 17, 2008

Turf War

by Elizabeth Kolbert, New Yorker

Americans can't live without their lawns—but how long can they live with them?

Golden Bull

by Leon Wieseltier, The New Republic

We are living in a golden age of the pseudo-meaningful stunt.

The Big Picture

by Peter N. Miller, The New Republic

There is no replacement for the human trace, and no way to grasp its meaning without a trained imagination.

To Catch-22 A Predator

by Maria Luisa Tucker, Village Voice

On Ward's Island, it's legal limbo for men who probably deserve it.

July 16, 2008

In Paris, Burgers Turn Chic

by Jane Sigal, New York Times

Even if you couldn't be on the Champs-Elysees for Bastille Day on MOnday to watch seven parachutists float down in front of president Nicholas Sarkozy, you can still celebrate the greatness of France with a new local tradition.

Eat a hamburger.

In Manhattan, Sliders For All Tastes

by Florence Fabricant, New York Times

Are they greasy but lovable little staples of down-market fast food? Or are they trendy, high-end bar food fussed over by chefs and served with fancy ketchup on miniature brioche buns? Right now, at restaurants in New York and elsewhere, they are both. Take your pick.

Unhappily Ever After

by Karen Springen, Newsweek

Remember when children's books frolicked through tales of ponies and princes? The latest kid-lit craze is stories about living through the apocalypse—now.

I Choose My Choice!

by Sandra Tsing Loh, The Atlantic

The fruits of the feminist revolution? Sisterhood, empowerment, and eight hours a day in a cubicle.

Earth Scars

by Richard Stone, and photograph by Stephen Alvarez, National Geographic Magazine

Asteroids and comets in nearby space pose a constant threat to our planet. Can we avert catastrophe the next time around?

July 15, 2008

The Lion And The Mouse

by Jill Lepore, New Yorker

The battle that reshaped children's literature.

Visiting The Real Ranch

by Sally Ball, Slate

Answering Terror With Terror

by Louis Bayard, Salon

In "The Dark Side," Jane Mayer chronicles the terrible, destructive decisions the Bush administration made in the name of fighting terorrism.

July 14, 2008

Mary At The Tattoo Shop

by Marcus Jackson, New Yorker

When Human Rights Extend To Nonhumans

by Donald G. McNeil Jr., New York Times

We like to think of these as absolutes: that there are distinct lines between humans and ainmals, and that certain "human" rights are unalienable. But we're kidding ourselves.

July 13, 2008

Splendid Isolation

by Cheryl Strayed, Washington Post

A summer stripped of all the things a teenage girl could want turned out to be exactly what she needed.

July 12, 2008

Mandela: His 8 Lessons Of Leadership

by Richard Stengel, Time

Mandela is the closest thing the world has to a secular saint, but he would be the first to admit that he is something far more pedestrian: a politician.

Mall Together Now

by Firoozeh Dumas, New York Times

It reminded me of a science experiment in grade school: the teacher put big rocks in a jar, then when you thought it was full, she added some smaller rocks. Then when you thought it was full, she added water. This mall was just missing the water.

July 10, 2008

Employees Only

by Erin Bremer, City Magazine

I had arrived at 4 p.m. to experience a daily ritual that takes place in hundreds of restaurants across the city, and in thousands more across the country: family meal.

July 9, 2008

You Are Not Reading Enough

by Mark Morford, San Francisco Chronicle

Has the internet killed the joys of sitting down with a good book?

Train In Vain

by Ben Jervey, Good

Europe and Asia have figured it out, so why is the American rail system still so unspeakably awful?

Great American Pyro

by Bruce Reed, Slate

Here in the District, we couldn't shoot off firecrackers over the Fourth because they're too dangerous, but we can now keep a loaded pistol by our bedside, ready to shoot down prowlers in self-defense.

July 8, 2008

In The Fourth Grade

by Charles Grosel, Slate

Lens Magic

by Terry Rossio, Wordplay

For 11 years, every day, I had been unknowingly staring at the future main set of the film I would someday co-write, Priates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

Did that give you a chill?

The Keepers Of The Moon

by Guy Gugliotta, New York Times

In the lab, the Moon rocks look nondescript — dark gray basalt, a whitish mineral called anorthosite and mixtures of the two with crystals thrown in. Yet nearly 40 years after the Apollo astronauts brought the first rocks back to Earth, these pieces of the Moon are still providing scientists with new secrets from another world.

Dan Neil On New Ways To Die In Style

by Dan Neil, Los Angeles Times

If you're not interested in a traditional American burial, no problem. There are so many other ways to go.

How Disasters Help

by Drake Bennett, Boston Globe

Natural disasters can give a boost to the countries where they occur - and sometimes, the more the better.

July 7, 2008

2B Or Not 2B?

by David Crystal, The Guardian

Some people dislike texting. Some are bemused by it. But it is merely the latest manifestation of the human ability to be linguistically creative and to adapt language to suit the demands of diverse setings. There is no disaster pending.

Head Fake

by Jonah Lehrer, Boston Globe

Like many other antidepressants, Prozac increases the brain's supply of serotonin, a neurotransmitter. The drug's effectiveness inspired an elegant theory, known as the chemical hypothesis: Sadness is simply a lack of chemical happiness. The little blue pill cheer us up because they give the brain what it has been missing.

There's only one problem with this theory of depression: it's almost certainly wrong, or at the very least woefully incomplete.

July 6, 2008

The Urge To End It

by Scott Anderson, New York Times

"There is but one truly serious philosophical problem," Albert Camus wrote, "and that is suicide." How to explain why, among the only species capable of pondering its own demise, whose desperate attempts to forestall mortality have spawned both armies and branches of medicine in a perpetual search for the Fountain of Youth, there are those who, by their own hand, would choose death over life? Our contradictory reactions to the act speak to the conflicted hold it has on our imaginations: revulsion mixed with fascination, scorn leavened with pity. It is a cardinal sin — but change the packaging a little, and suicide assumes the guise of heroism or high passion, the stuff of literature and art.


by Jordan Ellenberg, New York Times

"One to Nine" offers a different model for teaching math — discursive rather than linear, topical rather than abstract and remote, and, above all, manically energetic rather than repetitive and plodding.

July 5, 2008

Fair Play For The CIA

by James M. Murphy, The Times

We must not forget that the CIA was formed in an era of civic trust and patriotism.

July 4, 2008

United States Of Anxiety

by Trisha Ready, The Stranger

The floods, the Calfornia wildfires, and the violence in Chicago are nothing compared to what the slow-motion disaster of a crumbling economy is doing to us. A personal account of a breakdown.

Humor Isn't Funny

by Paul Constant, The Stranger

But Steven Segal is. (Kind of.)

July 2, 2008

Night Visions

by Hilary Mantel, The Guardian

I don't know whether the dreams of writers are better or worse than the dreams of other people, but I think perhaps they are different.

For The Drama Of Roottop Dining, The City Is A Backdrop

by Laura M. Holson, New York Times

When the weather gets warm, Dana Haddad takes the fun up to the roof.

A New York Expatriate's Magnificent Obsession: Pizza

by Chris Ladd, New York Times

Jef Varasano woke at 2.50 a.m. so he could get to his kitchen, measure precise quantities of water, flour, salt and yeast on a digital scale, and then mix them together. Sixteen hours later about 30 guests would be arriving, and they would want pizza.

The (Hungry) Odd Couple Of The Nathan's Hot-Dog-Eating Contest

by Sarah DiGregorio, Village Voice

Training for July 4 with Eater X and Crazy Legs.

Symphony Of Millions

by Alex Ross, New Yorker

Taking stock of the Chinese music boom.

Why We Need Movie Reviewers

by Erik Lundegaard, Slate

Believe it or not, critically acclaimed films generally do better than critically panned films at the box office—if you measure their performance in the right way.

July 1, 2008

When In The Uterine Empyrean They Told Me

by Patrick Donnelly, Slate

By Heng-Cheong Leong