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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Read A Book, Get Out Of Jail

by Leah Price, New York Times

What happens when convicted felons are sentenced to a book club instead of prison?

You Must Not Remember This

by Dennis Overbye, New York Times

This novel’s unlikely hero is a Japanese mathematician whose memory lasts for only 80 minutes.

College Campuses As Affordable Travel Destinations

by Jane Margolies, New York Times

College students, you’ve got company. The grassy quads and ivy-covered buildings that attract prospective applicants also make schools of higher education enticing for those with no interest in matriculating. Visitors can partake of world-class art collections and film screenings, not to mention more unusual offerings like the burial sites of Robert E. Lee and his horse, Traveller, on the campus of Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Va. All this, without the pressure of studying for exams, or anteing up tuition.

Conditioned Soul

by Aaron Hicklin,

A new collection of greatest hits finds Annie Lennox in a reflective mood, looking back at her long night's journey into day.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Shelf Life

by Allison Arieff, New York Times

Like a photo album, diary or record collection, these books constitute a sort of life history.

Bomb The Middle Class

by Andrew O'Hehir, Salon

In an era of wealth and excess, 19th century French anarchists introduced terrorism as we know it. Can a fascinating new history help us understand our own violent times?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Inner Life

by Roger Cohen, New York Times

Perhaps the Age of Excess had to end before we could all turn inward just enough to rediscover the gold standard of the perfectly formed phrase, and make connections again.

Laughing Past The Grave

by Kevin Nance, Obit

The shock value of what might be called death humor can be heightened by a number of factors, including the public profile of the jokester.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

In The Open At Last, A Secret All Women Share

by Abigail Zuger, New York Times

For all our public exploration of everyone else’s bodies, our own personal specimens remain quite private. So when it comes to the onset of menstruation, it is the rare girl who will launch an enthusiastic dialogue with family or friends on the subject.

Coat-Check Anxiety? Get Over It.

by Alex Witchel, New York Times

What is it with people and coat checks?

For A New Generation, Kimchi Goes With Tacos

by Jennifer Steinhauer, New York Times

The food at Kogi Korean BBQ-To-Go, the taco vendor that has overtaken Los Angeles, does not fit into any known culinary category. One man overheard on his cellphone as he waited in line on a recent night said it best: “It’s like this Korean Mexican fusion thing of crazy deliciousness.”

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Slightly Tearful

by Mark Holliday, Slate

The Cheese-And-Pepperoni Stimuus

by Anastacia Marx de Salcedo, Salon

The pizza restaurant is the last bastion of American small business. Eat a slice today to jump-start our economy. It's your civic duty!

Why Can't A Woman Write The Great American Novel?

by Laura Miller, Salon

Female authors hold their own on the bestseller lists, but Elaine Showalter's provocative new history wonders why they get so little respect.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Waiting And Finding

by Jack Gilbert, The New Yorker

A Street

by Leonard Cohen, The New Yorker

Are Markets Moral?

by Michael Shermer, Search

With stocks tumbling, it's time to think about how our brains shape the economy.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

? = Beauty

by Sebastian Smee, Boston Globe

Horace "Woody" Brock believes he has cracked the secret of beautiful design. He even has equations and graphs to prove it.

A Mattress Built For Two

by Deborah Sosin, Boston Globe

I went shopping with the idea that I had to make room for Mr. Right, even if I hadn't met him yet.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

What's Cooking?

by The Economist

The evolutionary role of cookery.

Can't. Stop. Writing.

by Geoff Nicholson, New York Times

Unless you’re a genius or a fool, you realize that everything you write, however “successful,” is always a sort of failure. And so you try again.

Righting Wrong Writing

by Lance Contrucci, Reader's Digest

Heroically persnickety typo crusaders set the United States straight.

The Taste Bone's Connected To The ... Soup Bone

by Jane Sigal, New York Times

In this economy, soup bones are a deal.

Friday, February 20, 2009

What Made The Greeks Laugh?

by Mary Beard, The Times

Ancient writers disagree about the exact cause of the mirth, but they agree that Greek laughter was the final straw in driving the Romans to war.

Roe Vs. Wade Vs. My Boyfriend

by Lauren B, Nerve

My abortion was no big deal — except to the men in my life.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Promised Land

by Denis Dutton, New Statesman

Art theory assumes that our aesthetic tastes are conditioned by the culture in which we live. But does genetic programming have more to do with it than we think?

How I Became A Soft Touch

by Michelle Slatalla, New York Times

Our new family eats Gummi bears by the bagful. She wears flip-flops to school even in winter. She stays up as late as she wants, sleeps as late as she likes and does not need a fever to prove she’s too sick for school.

I have become, in other words, the mother I wanted when I was a child.

Judging Autism

by Rahul K. Parikh, Salon

Science has failed to convince many people that vaccines do not cause autism. Will last week's court ruling finally change their minds?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

No Way, No How, Not Here

by Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times

There are nine bodies -- all of them young men -- that have been lying in a Mumbai hospital morgue since Nov. 29. They may be stranded there for a while because no local Muslim charity is willing to bury them in its cemetery. This is good news.

Your Morning Pizza

by Mark Bittman, New York Times

There are many reasons to rethink breakfast.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Goodbye To The Age Of Newspapers (Hello To A New Era Of Corruption)

by Paul Starr, The New Republic

Why American politics and society are about to be changed for the worse.

Great Book, Bad Movie

by WIlling Davidson, Slate

How Hollywood ruins novels.

The Sound That Wakes Me At Night, Thinking Of It

by Charles Harper Webb, Slate

The Masterly Blasphemer

by Ian McEwan, The Australian

Many years later the older Updike, now giving up on alcohol, coffee and salt, put into the mouth of that God the words of Frederick the Great excoriating his battle-shy soldiers -- "Dogs, would you live forever?" But all the life-enhancing substances were set aside, and writing became Updike's "sole remaining vice. It is an addiction, an illusory release, a presumptuous taming of reality." In the mornings, he could write "breezily" of what he could not contemplate in the dark without "turning in panic to God". The plain facts of life were "unbearably heavy, weighted as they are with our personal death. Writing, in making the world light -- in codifying, distorting, prettifying, verbalising it -- approaches blasphemy."

The Long Goodbye

by Meghan O'Rourke, Slate

The other morning I looked at my BlackBerry and saw an e-mail from my mother. At last! I've missed her so much. Then I caught myself. The e-mail couldn't be from my mother. My mother died a month ago.

Monday, February 16, 2009


by Frank Bidart, The New Yorker


by Kevin Young, The New Yorker

Let Death Change Your Life

by Laura Miller, Salon

You only die once. Why not take tips from great philosophers on how to do it well?

Sunday, February 15, 2009


by Aviya Kushner, The Wilson Quarterly

Americans have developed an admirable fondness for books, food, and music that preprocess other cultures. But for all our enthusiasm, have we lost our taste for the truly foreign?

Open Says Me

by Gene Weingarten, Washington Post

I suppose it is possible that this packaging dysfunction is just about me, but I doubt it. In the breadth of modern history, can it be that anyone has ever been able to use a tube of Super Glue more than once?

I Want My Free TV

by John Schwartz, New York Times

This might be how we greet the digital television future: without television.

The Boom Is Over. Long Live The Art!

by Holland Cotter, New York Times

The contemporary art market, with its abiding reputation for foggy deals and puffy values, is a vulnerable organism, traditionally hit early and hard by economic malaise. That’s what’s happening now. Sales are vaporizing. Careers are leaking air. Chelsea rents are due. The boom that was is no more.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Death: Bad?

by David Segal, New York Times

To be “philosophical” about something, in common parlance, is to face it calmly, without irrational anxiety. And the paradigm of a thing to be philosophical about is death.

The Maggots In Your Mushrooms

by E. J. Levy, New York Times

You may be grossed out, but insects and mold in our food are not new. The F.D.A. actually condones a certain percentage of “natural contaminants” in our food supply -- meaning, among other things, bugs, mold, rodent hairs and maggots.

Grand Theft Auto's Extreme Storytelling

by Lev Grossman, Time

It's one of the enduring paradoxes of the Grand Theft Auto games--or maybe the paradox lies in the culture around them?--that people who don't play them think of them as the epitome of mindless virtual violence, whereas in fact they are, with each installment, more and more radical and sophisticated experiments in storytelling.

School Of Rock

by James Parker, The Atlantic

What does Guitar Hero's popularity mean for the future of rock and roll?

Some Well-Planned Wackiness

by Melissa Clark, New York Times

On the rare night I’m cooking just for one, though, some of my old inclinations return. But they’re tempered with my newer, more organized habits. In other words, the wackier combinations persist, but I plan them.

And this is how I came to invent what’s been affectionately called my cheesy cauliflower chutney mess.

'The Way Through Doors' By Jesse Ball

by Laurel Maury, Los Angeles Times

A challenging web of stories-within-stories leaves a reader fulfilled.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Forgiveness And Irony

by Roger Scruton, City Journal

What makes the West strong.

Roget In Love

by Hart Seely, Slate

What happens when there are too many ways to say "I love you."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

How Could 9,000 Business Reporters Blow It?

by Dean Starkman, Mother Jones

In looking back on how we got here, the business press assumes a tone of rueful omniscience, as in this late-2007 New York Times piece on regulatory laxity under Alan Greenspan: "Had officials bothered to look, frightening clues of the coming crisis were available." Of course, the clues the Times cites in the very next sentence--the ceaseless research of the North Carolina-based Center for Responsible Lending--were available had anyone bothered to look. So, a reader might well ask, why didn't the media?

Dawkins On Darwin

by Richard Dawkins, The Times

Why we really do need to know the amazing truth about evolution, and the equally amazing intellectual dishonesty of its enemies.

Why Are We So Fascinated With US Literature?

by Sutart Evers, The Guardian

The reasons, I suppose, are ones of personal taste and individual prejudice. The fact is, I prefer American English: I like the way it sounds; its rhythms and its cadences. Give me a diner over a café, a sidewalk over a pavement, a bar over a pub and definitely a gas station over a petrol forecourt.

Last-Minute Changes

by Christopher F. Chabris, Wall Street Journal

Scientific orthodoxy says that human evolution stopped a long time ago. Did it?

Our American Cousin Revisited

by Timothy Noah, Slate

Was the play that ended Lincoln's life any good?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Born Believers: How Your Brain Creates God

by Michael Brooks, New Scientist

That's not to say that the human brain has a "god module" in the same way that it has a language module that evolved specifically for acquiring language. Rather, some of the unique cognitive capacities that have made us so successful as a species also work together to create a tendency for supernatural thinking.

Nutty For Nutella: Spreadable Joy

by Amy Scattergood, Los Angeles Times

Nutella isn't just junk food with a European pedigree. It can be an obsession, a habit, even a cult. If you think this is foodie hperbole, you're just not among the initiated.

At The Power Lunch, The Check Is Kryptonite

by Laura M. Holson, New York Times

It used to be a common sight from Sparks to Spago — the boisterous scrum as diners wielding corporate cards dove for the lunch bill, crying “I’ll get it!” But since the economic downturn, the delicate social rituals of the bull market era, when executives tried to outdo one another in expense-account one-upmanship, have been upended.

We Are All Socialists Now

by Jon Meacham and Evan Thomas, Newsweek

In many ways our economy already resembles a European one. As boomers age and spending grows, we will become even more French.

Hazardous Materials?

by James Surowiecki, The New Yorker

If the threat of moral hazard is going to encourage inaction in a crisis, we should be sure that threat is real. And there certainly are situations where moral hazard does seem to have an effect on people’s choices. In other circumstances, though, moral hazard seems to have a much smaller impact. And, in the case of public-sector intervention during financial crises, evidence for its dangers is surprisingly flimsy.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Is Food The New Sex?

by Mary Eberstadt, Policy Review

A curious reversal in moralizing.

It Takes Particular Clicks

by Christian Wiman, Slate

Darwinism Must Die So That Evolution May Live

by Carl Safina, New York Times

Equating evolution with Charles Darwin ignores 150 years of discoveries, including most of what scientists understand about evolution.

Praise Be To Dog

by Heather Havrilesky, Salon

An ode to loud, stinky, filthy canines and the pathologically needy people who love them.

Wilde Times

by David France, New York Magazine

The huge legacy of a small bookshop.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Unfinished Business

by The Economist

Charles Darwin's ideas have spread widely, but his revolution is not yet complete.

The Climate Engineers

by James R. Fleming, The Wilson Quarterly

Despite the large, unanswered questions about the implications of playing God with the elements, climate engineering is now being widely discussed in the scientific community and is taken seriously within the U.S. government.

Is There Intelligent Life On Television?

by Paul A. Cantor, Claremont Review Of Books

In the era of literary deconstruction, it can be refreshing to turn to television books and see critics who are still interested in reconstructing the meaning of the works they discuss. The readers of the new books on television will accept no less, since their reason for turning to these books is to help them better understand their favorite programs. At a time when literary critics often seem to be talking only to each other, the lively market for television books tells us something.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

What's Your New Plan B?

by David Segal, New York Times

We have the new Plan B, which can be summarized this way: the best you can make of a worst-case scenario, the deal you cut with a fate you might be unable to avoid.

My Blog Ate My Career

by Linda Keenan, Boston Globe

I'm perfectly qualified for a job -- just don't look me up online.

I'm A Control Freak

by Jeana Lee Tahnk, Boston Globe

THe CEO of the household -- that's me. But could I let my husband take over in a pinch?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sonora Pass

by Sam Esquith, Washington Post

Jumpin' At The Woodside

by Breena Clarke, Washington Post

10,000 Steps

by Ann Hood, Washington Post

The Bridge

by Ellen Gilchrist, Washington Post

Haunted Castles Of The Barrier Islands

by Tony Earley, Washington Post

The Random Beauty Of "25 Random Things"

by Robert Lanham, Salon

Why the latest annoying Facebook trend might be one of the most inspiring Web crazes in years.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Hardest Job In Football

by Mark Bowden, The Atlantic

For millions of football fans watching at home every Sunday, it seems as though NFL games make a seamless transition from the gridiron to the television screen. But spend a weekend with a network production crew, and you’ll discover what it really takes to turn the on-field action into televised entertainment--intense preparation, frantic effort, brilliant improvisation, and an artistic genius named “Fish.”

A Baker's Dozen Of My Feeling About David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest

by Elissa Bassit, The Rumpus

First of all, I didn’t even want to write this because who am I to write this?

Mister Lucky

by Isaac Chotiner, The New Republic

Gladwell's overarching thesis in Outliers is so obviously correct that it hardly merits discussion. "The people we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are." Also, tomorrow is the beginning of the rest of your life. Gladwell writes as if he is the only person in the world in possession of this platitudinous wisdom.

24-Hour Hearty People

by Tm Carman, Washington City Paper

How diners are surviving the recession.

Why Hard Times Won't Mean Good Times At The Movies Again

by J. Hoberman, The Village Voice

Brother, can you spare $12?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Great Girl Gross-Out

by Rebecca Traister, Salon

Female writers are getting more graphic than ever about the messy realities of their bodies. Is it too much information, or enlightened honesty?

The Pursuit Of Happiness

by Carlin Flora, Psychology Today

Has the happiness frenzy of the past few years left you sad and anxious? Herein we report the surest ways to find well-being.

A Heimlich In Every Pot

by Joan Nathan, New York Times

It was the best party I had ever hosted. And then I almost died from choking on too big a piece of chicken.

That Dogma Won't Hunt

by Witold Rybczynski, Slate

Why are architects so obsessed with schools and rules?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Refrigerator Personality Test

by Russ Parsons, Los Angeles Times

Every once in a while, it's good to take stock of the fridge, if only to discover what's in all those little jars.

Clifton's Cafeteria: The Place Where L.A. Finds Itself

by Mary MacVean, Los Angeles Times

On Broadway downtown — amid a jumble of shops selling gold necklaces and sports socks and electric guitars, amid exhaust and noise and has-been theaters, amid hipsters, the down and out and the just plain out of it — an authentic piece of history goes about the business it began during the Great Depression, feeding everyone who walks through the glass doors.

Restaurants Stop Playing Hard To Get

by Frank Bruni, New York Times

Has a restaurant hugged you lately?

A Vast And Sudden Sadness

by Claudia Kaib, Newsweek

Each year thousands of families experience stillbirth. As science seeks causes, parents use photography to honor their babies and cope with their grief.

Alms For The Press?

by Jack Shafer, Slate

The case against foundation ownership of the New York Times.

Lessons From Groundhog Day

by Cliff Kuang, Good

It's a charming, big-hearted story whose major features—time travel and redemption—scream for interpretation. Science, religion, and economics have each provided one.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

When Altruism Isn't Moral

by Sally Satel, The American

Our nation's current organ donation system relies on altruism alone. A regime of donor compensation would be better.

China: A Threat To Or Threatened By Democracy?

by Edward Friedman, Dissent

In order to dal with a superpower--anti-democratic China--democracies feel compelled to become less democratic.


by Emma Jones, Slate

What Are The Odds A Handy, Quotable Statistic Is Lying? Better Than Even

by Barry Gewen, New York Times

It's hard to resist a book that tells you that most people have more than the average number of feet. Or that researchers have found that Republicans enjoy sex more than Democrts do. Michael Blastland and Andrew Dilnot delight in bringing such facts to our attention — and then explaining them away.

Between Sound And Silence

by David Lodge, Wall Street Journal

His parents were deaf. He was not. A memoir.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Two Yvonnes

by Jessica Greebaum, The New Yorker

In The Attic

by Seamus Heaney, The New Yorker

That Buzzing Sound

by Jerome Groopman, The New Yorker

The mystery of tinnitus.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Our Love Affair With Malls Is On The Rocks

by David Segal, New York Times

In other words, shopping was part of the problem and now it's part of the cure. And once we're cured, economists report, we really need to learn how to save, which suggests that we will need to quit shopping again.

A Slow New York Passage, Up To Organic Food

by Glenn Collins, New York Times

The elevator at the store, on Broadway at West 74th Street in Manhattan, is ponderously slow. It is famously cramped.

Whisper It: You Don't Need To Have Read John Updike

by James Delingpole, Telegraph

It is impossible - and unnecessary - to grapple with every 'must read' of the literary canon.

John Updike's Mighty Pen

by Charles McGrath, New York Times

There was something endearingly quaint about these little inky imprints -- a legacy perhaps of a Depression boyhood and a lifetime habit of efficiency -- but they also reflected his enduring fascination with the magic of print.

By Heng-Cheong Leong