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Francis Fukuyama on the End of History

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Power and Weakness

New York Review of Books, vol. 1 no. 1

The Russian Empire, 1910, in full color

Andrew Delbanco on the Death of Lit Crit

Keep computers out of classrooms

Newsweek on the threat of Global Cooling

Julian Simon, Doomslayer

Martha Nussbaum on Judith Butler

George Orwell: the English language

World’s Worst Editing Guide

The Fable of the Keys

The Snuff Film: an urban legend


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Articles of Note

Those know-it-alls of Malibu and Manhattan, the liberal elite sip their lattes and lord it over the peasantry. Thomas Frank analyzes a perception... more»
Poor Genghis Khan: he uses the most intelligent strategies, conquers armies of the world, and in the end gets played by John Wayne... more»
Appointment in Samarra was a big hit for John OHara. But as his fame and wealth grew, so did the quality of his fiction decline... more»
The Colombian and the Korean happily chat away in what they think is English – but you can’t grasp a word. What tongue are they speaking?... more»
Many authors toil to get out a few sentences in an hour. Other damnable types can pen 3000 words in a sitting. What kind of people are they?... more»
The tsunami generated many a horror story out of Thailand. So does the Thai sex trade. Is this nation really “the brothel of the world”?... more»
Ukraine’s Orange Revolution is bound to have a direct impact on Putin’s moves to oppose democracy. Having a free press next door... more»
“We’re trying to turn this thing around,” says the head of Black Studies. But college programs like hers struggle to attract students... more»
Lost writings of Sophocles, Hesiod, and Euripides have been recovered in just the past few days and more is on the way. “Astounding”... more»
Adjust disposable income for the cost of living and it turns out Norwegians are among the poorest folk in Western Europe... more»
If Americans come from Mars and Europeans come from Venus, what is the home planet of the Japanese? Saturn?... more»
It is not tariffs and quotas that will save American jobs against a Chinese threat, but hard work and innovation... more»
Pleistocene porn: sculptures from the Stone Age indicate that our ancestors had rather fevered sexual imaginations... more»
Andrea Dworkin, theorist of rape and pornography, a woman loved and loathed, has died at the age of 58... Wash Post ... Guardian ... NYT ... NY Sun ... London Times ... Independent ... Slate ... Yahoo ... Telegraph ... Salon ... Susie Bright ... Katha Pollitt ... Kathy Young
Pet theories: dogs act smart because they read people. Or because they fool people into thinking they can read them... more» ... online colloquy
“Microsoft Word Grammar Checker Are No Good, Scholar Conclude.” Yeah, and that cleared the grammar checker too... more»
Yes, people are primates related to other great apes – gorillas, chimps, and bonobos. The idea never bothered Ernst Mayr... more»
Oh, no! Your children, made violent by TV, will die of melanoma. If a supervolcano doesn’t kill them first... more»
In the 1970s, New York was for many a “ruined and broken city.” To Rupert Murdoch it was the chance of a lifetime... more»
Pianist William Kapell: brash, nervous, cocky, funny, thin-skinned. Not an easy man, but a pianist to rival Horowitz... more»
Albert Speer and his boss had their notorious plans for Berlin. Less known are Josef Stalin’s unrealized plans for Moscow... more»
Saul Bellow, who brought to his fiction immigrant’s hustle, bookworm’s brains, and high-minded ideas, is dead... NYT ... SF Chron ... Reuters ... FT ... Guardian ... Wash Post ... Houston Chron ... Boston Globe ... Xan Brooks ... London Times ... Chic Sun-Times ... Le Monde ... Jon Yardley ... Dan Cryer ... Lorin Stein ... Christopher Hitchens ... Chic Tribune ... Independent ... Telegraph ... WSJ ... Carlin Romano ... Tom McBride
Have newborn babies look at machine mobiles and human face mobiles. Do boys and girls react the same, or not?... more»
The lifelong friendship of Paul Nitze and George Kennan began by accident on a train. In the end it defined U.S. Cold War policy... more» ... NSC 68 ... Mr. X’s telegram
What a dullard the Victorians made of Charlotte Brontë. She was in truth a filthy genius, the sex-obsessed grandmother of chick-lit... more»
Technology? The web is more than that: it’s now an ideology offreedom” – and theft. It may take Justice Scalia to sort it out... more»
In mathematical proof you take one big, non-obvious step and reduce it to a bunch of smaller, obvious ones. Now, enter the computer... more»
Nostalgia for the 1960s as a time of heroic activism may tempt progressives to recycle those protest styles today. Bad idea... more»
For a young Indian woman in New York, what’s best? Dating service? Singles bars? Your parents choosing a vegetarian husband for you?... more»
Subjectively, we all think we are free to act as we choose. But thinking does not make it so, B.F. Skinner insisted... more»
The young Robert Trivers fought bitterly with his father: exactly the kind of thing that evolutionary biology ought to explain... more»
“Psychologists say that love sickness is a genuine disease and needs more awareness and diagnosis.” Ah, yes. Illness of the week... more»
Think of every American as a 1,400-watt bulb that never sleeps: that’s the national per-capita demand for electric power... more»
Nuclear scientists are required to wear protective clothing and have health checks. Maybe historians of extreme evil have a similar need... more»
The crudity of Bobby Fischer’s jailing allowed his supporters to draw a veil over his racism and cast him as heroic victim of state persecution... more»
Nazi Germany was not in all eyes a dark dictatorship: for many it was the original feel-good state. Plunder made it possible... more»
Call it an ROTC program for the CIA: young researchers are trained to analyze global conflicts in the interests of national security... more»
Advertising – old media, new media, internet or not – still sells goods by manipulating public attitudes about beauty and status... more»
“Any country that gave nukes to terrorists to turn on the U.S. would disappear from the face of the earth.” But what will have disappeared first?... more»
As Riccardo Muti’s self-belief has degenerated into self-love, he has broken the golden rule of flattery: enjoy it but don’t inhale... more»
Simonides alone survived a roof collapse that killed all at a banquet. He recalled every name by locating each seat: the first master of memory... more»
It seemed preposterous that an encyclopedia could be written and edited by just anyone. Maybe that’s what Wikipedia really is... more»
Muhammad’s original vision of tolerance will rid Islam of hatred and discord, says Reza Aslan. The Islamic Reformation is already here... more»
Many mammals and birds are capable of altruism. But human beings extend their generosity far beyond immediate blood relatives... more»
Not only did Adolf Hitler have the atom bomb, he conducted three detonations in 1944 and 1945. Maybe... more»
“I’d rather be reading Jane Austen,” the bumper sticker goes. And if she is so fine, then so too must the driver be... more»
Brand America. The U.S. has never had a stronger marketing image. When we turn from brand to product, however, it’s a different story... more»
Garry Kasparov’s awesome skill has intimidated many a chess opponent. He now faces his toughest contest yet, against Vladimir Putin... more»
Awkward even to use the word, for conservatives and liberals alike: manliness. It was perhaps the finest virtue of Theodore Roosevelt... more»
Ancient Romans knew how to eat, uh, by their lights anyway. Whether they match your lights is for you to decide... more»
Womens boxing: 45-second bloodfests, really, that are brutal, uncontrollable, and sexualized. Better just admit it... more»
A new perfume: smells of sliced apples in blond tobacco leaves, drizzled with caramel, banana, and rum. Or maybe just leather sprinkled with sugar... more»
Sons of Henry Kissinger, and yes, a daughter as well. They are, whether you know it or not, The Committee that Runs the World... more»
Francis Crick’s incandescent nonstop creativity made one think of him as immortal. In a way, he was... more»
“Pornography is the theory, rape is the practice.” Strong words, but where today are the anti-porn feminists?... more»
Fearing ridicule, repulsed by sex, needing freedom, Ibsen might say of Hedda Gabler, as Flaubert did of Emma Bovary, “Hedda, c’est moi”... more»
Don’t leave home without it! The Pentagon’s Iraq Culture Smart Card helps you to dine with locals, arrest them, etc... small pdf ... very big pdf
Like Dickens, he had a poor lower-middle-class youth, mediocre education, and talent and energy to overcome it all: H.G. Wells... more»
Environmentalists rail against suburban sprawl outward from old city cores. How serious is this problem?... more»Smart-growth” on the back foot.
E.E. Cummings loved the bars and brothels of Boston, where as a young man he might roam freely “sans peur, if not sans reproche”... more»
Kim Jong Il is doing his best to make the world safe for his dictatorship. So what are we doing to keep ourselves safe from him? Not enough... more»
Cassandras love to predict the imminent end of U.S. power. After Sputnik, then Vietnam, the Japanese were going to take over. Oh, yes... more»
Earthquakes, plagues, floods, the universe itself. Why does religion seem to explain it all? Because our brains are wired to believe... more»
Cows seem calm and dumb, but they are gay nymphomaniacs who are also excited by solving intellectual problems. More like us than we think... more»
The MBA may have its uses, but it does not turn students into business leaders – or endow them with maturity and wisdom... more»
The greatest happiness of all the human race can include taking great pleasure in the happiness of others... more»
Ijtihad, “strenuous effort” in Arabic, may well be the key to a democracy for a new Iraq – and beyond... more»
Sweden does not have much of a military, but thinks of itself as a “moral superpower.” Now its old values are being sorely tested... more»
Hunter S. Thompson, voice of the counterculture, has killed himself... NYT ... Washington Post ... BBC ... Paul Krassner ... LAT ... Denver Post ... Aspen Daily News ... NY Post ... Tom Wolfe ... Aspen Times ... SF Chron ... Joel Achenbach ... Salon ... Stephen Schwartz ... Christopher Hitchens ... Carlin Romano ... Louis Menand ... A.S. Ross
The Pan-Am smile of Julia Roberts is one kind. Then there’s the Duchenne smile of the British. You can spot the difference... more»
“It is unworthy to drink too much water, or drink it after eating fatty food or with your left hand or while standing at night.” Thus spake Ayatollah Sistani... more»
The future no longer belongs to those who reason like computers. It will favor people with artistry and empathy... more»
Sociologists in the last 100 years have attacked everything that Emil Durkheim stood for. Yet he rises still above his critics... more»
It was cold at Auschwitz, 60 years on, but Deborah Lipstadt took her hat off in tribute. Unlike some of those who died, she had a hat... more»
In Colombia, young boys kill each other just for losing at cards, writes Martin Amis. A taste for violence and death starts early... more»
Yanks pretend to hate New York City, but they secretly love it. When it comes to Toronto, Canadians simply despise it. Period... more»
After he took a speed reading course, Woody Allen read War and Peace in under an hour. The book, he explained, “was about Russia”... more»
Not everyone who died in the WTC was a “little Eichmann,” says Ward Churchill. There were passers-by, for instance, or janitors... more» The 2001 article itself.
Only yesterday, Libya was North Korea’s best nuclear customer. Tomorrow, it may be Iran. Kim Jong Il is a man who is ready to deal... more»
People often live into their 90s today. Next century, they may be living to 5000 years. If you think Social Security has problems now... more»
Arthur Miller, playwright for the twentieth century, is dead at 89... Washington Post ... AP ... NY Times ... Univ Mich ... NPR (audio) ... Harold Pinter ... London Times ... Slate ... Chicago Trib ... Erica Wagner ... Guardian ... LA Times ... Observer ... John Moore ... Independent ... Telegraph ... Michael Simkins ... Richard Corliss ... Rohan Preston ... Robt Hurwitt ... Clive Barnes ... Martin Kohn ... Newsweek ... Village Voice ... U.S. News ... Prensa (Cuba) ... New Criterion ... Tom Leonard ... Philip French ... Baltimore Sun ... David Mamet ... Feroz Khan ... Tony Vellela ... Hilary Krieger ... Julia Keller ... Kamal Al-Solaylee ... Terry Teachout ... Marjorie Miller ... Pravda ... E.J. Dionne ... Stephen Schwartz

New Books

Lit professors routinely assure us they “love language,” but only the rarest of them prove it by their own writing. Camille Paglia is one who can... more»
Schoenberg hoped the 12-tone row would keep German music dominant for another century. How wrong he was, writes Richard Taruskin... more»

Soccer fandom can be an outlet for values forbidden by polite society. It’s a perfectly healthy safety valve... more»
Abolitionist visionary, a man who saw feminism before its time, eloquent speaker, and also violent terrorist. Weird John Brown... more»
Horrifying. Thomas Friedman is let loose to ruminate for 500 pages on the theme of flatness. Like letting a chimp loose in the NORAD control room... more»
Lisbon, Warsaw, and Naples vie for the title of grimmest city in Europe. But they’ll never match Istanbul, says Orhan Pamuk... more» ... more»
“Come writers and critics who prophesize with your pen,” urged Bob Dylan in Times They Are A-Changin’. They came, and keep coming... more»
South Park is a vulgar, coarse, and fully offensive television program. So why are so many political conservatives tuning into it?... more»
Movie out of focus, image dingy in that new multiplex? If you complain, they’ll insist they are fine and you need glasses. Liars... more»
Can Western democracies live without “the transcendent moral reference points for ordering public life that Christianity offers?”... more»
The Noodle Maker, like The Master and Margarita, uses wild imagination, man’s most subversive tool, to undress political repression... more»
When the U.S. invaded Iraq its popularity dropped everywhere except in France, where it was already so low it could fall no further... more»
If you’re the Times food critic, the restaurant treats you like royalty, of course. If you’re an English teacher from Saginaw... more»
Teller and Oppenheimer: two men, both of them insecure, cruel, hungry for power, and holding the world’s future in their hands... more»
America likes to talk about family values. Europe doesnt just talk: it uses tax monies to pay for family values... more»
Do you secretly desire some Hollywood heartthrob? Sure, you’re a pitiable creep, but there are people even more pathetic than you... more»
No city has burned in nuclear fire since Japan in 1945. This would have come as a surprise to Robert Oppenheimer... more»
Actresses and whores: it seems we’re ambivalent not just about prostitutes, but theatre and film workers, too... more»
Samuel Johnson hated slavery and so despised Americans. “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes?”... more»
“Studying Ronald Reagan is not for the faint-hearted – or the untenured.” Gil Troy knows the rewards, and the dangers... more»
Literary works are never fully intelligible in themselves. They belong to a global literary space, subject to its rivalries... more»
Far from advancing materialist tyranny, neurobiology is now starting to provide us with a deeper grasp of what human freedom is about... more»
Not easy to stomach someone who sees herself as the red-hot center of the universe, even if she is so smart, and ever so fetching. Jane Fonda... more»
America’s messianic impulses may look a danger. But they were rather convenient for Europe in the Nazi era... more»
Globalization’s first phases, out of Europe and the U.S., now end. The next, driven by every color of the human rainbow, is upon us... more»

Middle East
Al-Ahram Weekly
Arab News
Command Post
Daily Star (Beirut)
Dawn (Karachi)
The Iranian
Iraq Resource Center
Al Jazeera
Kurdish News
Jane’s Defense
Middle East MRI
Stars & Stripes
Tehran Times
Turkish Daily News
Turkish Press
Zaman (Turkey)

Disappointed Democrats might try to find a winning election strategy. Or they can turn to therapy, psychobabble disguised as politics... more»
An indomitable belief in the value of freedom sustained Natan Sharansky during his long years in captivity. It still does... more»
France, but not England, had a revolution in 1848. The French, you see, read Racine, while the English read Shakespeare... more»
The sun in the old photo of the stable yard is nearly a century old, but Coco Chanel seems to date from last Friday... more»
Joseph Lelyveld’s telling of his life is a haunting reflection on events remembered, some of them polished to a sweet golden haze... more»
When M.F.K. Fisher wrote of food, she gestured to a bigger world — to France, or appetite itself. Today food writing is too much about food... more»
Founding Mothers. Women of the American Revolution can also teach us about the dreams of those who risked death for freedom... more»
Sex, money, and sex for money are but three aspects of George Sand’s complex family and love life. And those cigars... more»
Theodor Adorno loathed both American jazz and Hollywood movies, but for reasons more complex than many of his critics want to know... more»
“The only antidote to the magic of images is the magic of words,” writes Camille Paglia. She can say that again, and Clive James hopes she will... more»
It’s not that the U.S. is violent or evil or corrupt, but that it is dominant. Can any country in the world be saved from its influence? Seems not... more»
The Enlightenment has come down to us in two versions, the radical and the skeptical, the French and the Scottish... more» ... more»
Debutante balls are thrown by doting fathers who want to shore up their class-standing. Not every girl is a debutante. That’s the point... more» ... more»
Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud were in the same basket, as minds who needed no experimental apparatus. There the similarity ends... more»
No spy novel can capture the twists and turns that a genuine spy goes through in pursuit of his mission of treachery and betrayal... more»
Ian McEwan can create a sense of menace with the tiniest of details – a broken mirror, a flash of red, two figures on a park bench... more»
Artists are important, but let’s face it, art historians are more important. And hey, theorists of art are the most important of all... more»
Who’d have guessed a boy from Mississippi would one day be not only a world famous writer, but the kind of writer William Faulkner became... more»
The word boredom came into English around 1760, about the same time as interesting. You might be slothful before that, or weary... more»
Victorian artists tended to ignore industry. Turner might paint a train, but it was as a dramatic event in a rural setting... more»
We’re all cultural Mussolinis at age 15, with our passionate, jejune, pretentious tastes. We get over the tastes, but not the embarrassment... more»
The “new new journalism” is reportorially based, narrative-driven long-form nonfiction. It likes a point of view... more»
Staring at us from stilted old daguerreotypes, the ghastly frumps in Richard Wagner’s life remind us how unlucky he was with women... more»
Mandarin has more speakers than any other of the worlds languages. Hindi is third, Spanish fourth. The solid second place? English... more»
Is Larry Summers guilty of bad manners, a “prodigious and sloppy eater,” arrogant, and patronizing? Who says?... more»
Art since 1900: it’s all about the likes of Foucault, Benjamin, Derrida, and the jargon they spawned. Richard Diebenkorn? Chuck Close? Who?... more»
If you are born with a large brain, movie-star looks, and a £100 million fortune, you can expect a bio hatchet job one day... more»
A long childhood focused on education, free from adult work is a recent idea. Actually being a child is much older... more»
The ruthless demands of art closed in on Henri Matisse in his middle years, dehumanizing him and all who shared his life... more»
“I will sculpt my own statue,” André Malraux told his wife, and much of his career found him chiseling away, in all senses of the term... more»
Stalinism is not the whole story of modern Russia. But try to read the NKVD’s Order No. 00447, July 1937, without a shudder... more» ... more»
The Black Plague arrived, via infected rats, in 1347 in Genoa. From there the disease spread to every corner of Europe... more»
Commodities from silk to sugar to tulips have inspired greed and irrationality, and given us dazzling creativity. Consider cotton... more»
Christopher Marlowe’s murder at the age of 29 in a bar brawl is endlessly recreated in the fantasies of his fans... more»
Shakespeare still eludes us, disappearing forever around the corner: that is part of his eternal fascination... more»
Divorced, in her forties, Kate Saunders is aware her career means nothing. No husband? She’s a total loser in the eyes of other women... more»
As Voltaire lay dying, a priest urged on him the virtues of Jesus. His response, “Sir, do not speak to me anymore about that man”... more»
If you cant beat an enemy in battle, you’ve two options: you go up, to weapons of mass destruction, or down, to acts of terrorism... more»
Movie blockbusters tend to be kids action/fairytales that have potential spin-offs in toy and game licensing. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings... more»
D.H. Lawrence had a trick of wringing two things from life: profound insight in his writing and total intolerability in his person... more»
Do women of France, blessed with a natural moderation, stay slim, healthy, and beautiful? No: French women get fat too... more»
Here is a humorous tour of jolly old England that capers and spoofs and wags its tail in every paragraph. It’s just never funny... more»
Supermarkets, Internet cafés, beauty parlors, restaurants, and stores selling Bollywood DVDs. Kabul today... more»
For the French, Racine and Corneille lived by Aristotle’s high-handed “laws.” As for Shakespeare, mon Dieu!... more»
So how does D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation stand up next to Mahler’s Ninth? It’s naive, coarse... more»
Einstein, Marx, and Freud were makers of the modern world. But really, how much should we care that each was a Jew?... more»
Students compete insanely to get into university, only to be taught by part-time adjuncts. So this is what your money buys... more»
It is tempting to say that the horrors of the Black Death are beyond the grasp of 21st-century readers. Alas, no... more»
Robt. Louis Stevenson was not good at writing women: they barely show in Treasure Island or Kidnapped. Yet there is a curious femininity... more»
André Malraux died with mere mortals, a giant carried on the shoulders of pygmies. History was for him a cruel mistress... more»
Waterloo: last hurrah of an age of gorgeous uniforms, when men went stoically to their deaths in battle... more»
Politically incorrect history of the U.S. by a neocon? No, says Max Boot, though this book is morally and factually incorrect... more»
“How did the faith of Jesus come to be known as pro-rich, pro-American and pro-war?” Jim Wallis wonders... more»
Mathematics “is given to us in its entirety,” said Kurt Gödel. The part of it we are able to see is unchanging in its beauty and harmony... more»
Madame de Staël ignored the custom for women to leave the table after dinner to men, port, and cigars. She stayed to argue politics... more»
Bernard Loiseau, one of the great chefs of France, took his own life. He was respected, even adored, but “one of” was not enough... more»
Scents of wood smoke, wild berries, mushrooms, leather and coffee. A fine Bordeaux, perhaps? No, it’s all about chocolate... more»

Essays and Opinion

Savor that extra croissant, pour that fouth glass of wine. Mother Nature doesn’t want you thin as a rail. She wants you like that nice Mr. Brooks: just a little bit plump... more»
As Aristotle might say, sex should be pursued with the right person, for the right reason, at the right time, in the right way, and to the right degree. Can this be lust?... more»
There was no good military reason to destroy Dresden and Hiroshima and incinerate 100,000 souls. The motive for these unspeakable raids was to teach Stalin a lesson... more»
Susan Sontag, Johnny Carson, Saul Bellow, Hunter Thompson, George Kennan, Philip Johnson, Prince Rainier, Andrea Dworkin, the Pope: a vintage year for obituary writers... more»
First-rate poems are today still being written. But poets no longer master essential elements of craft. It’s as if our culture gave up the violin or artists didn’t learn to draw... more»
The population depletion of Europe along with Muslim immigration makes a big problem for Christianity. Maybe a certain former cardinal has a way to deal with it... more»
From “Thank God!” to “Oh my God!” reactions to Pope Benedict XVI are rolling in from all over ... Andrew Sullivan ... Michael Novak ... E.J. Dionne ... Jack Miles ... Charles Moore ... Daniel Johnson ... Andrew Brown ... Julian Baggini ... Charlotte Hays ... Paul Vallely ... Anne Applebaum ... Derrick Jackson ... Catherine Pepinster ... Ruth Gledhill ... Kenneth Woodward ... Roger Kimball ... Stephen Bainbridge ... Amy Sullivan ... John Haldane ... John Cornwall ... Gerard Baker ... Richard Cohen ... Timothy Garton Ash ... Frank Brennan ... Michael Walsh ... Peggy Noonan ... Peter Schwarz ... Daniel Henninger ... Philip Lawler ... Joseph Bottum ... German roundup ... Ratzinger in WWII

Once an Internet leader, the United States has fallen far behind Japan and other Asian states in deploying broadband. This lag will cost it dearly... more»
Until the link between women and child rearing breaks down, neither corporate boards nor the MIT math faculty are likely to see numerical parity between men and women... more»
Russians don’t really want to return to Stalinism, says Roy Medvedev. But Stalin remains for Russians a sad focus of lost glory and pride... more»
Bauhaus intended to supply simple, cheap, mass-produced shelter for wretched proletarians stuck in 1920s rat-infested tenements. Is this an architecture we still need?... more»
Literature now competes with an enormous array of electronic media. Bad news for reading and for books, says Dana Gioia... more»
Humanity owes Gorbachev a vast debt, says Eric Hobsbawm. “All the same, if I were a Russian I would also think of him as the man who brought ruin to his country”... more» ... more»
Legalized abortion was the single biggest factor in ending the crime wave of the 1980s, controlling crime before the crims even reached the cradle... more»
From Pushkin to Dostoyevsky to Brodsky, the scolds and prophets of the Russian intelligentsia have always seemed almost at their last gasp. Almost, but... more»
Anti-Americanism is a family quarrel, as far as France is concerned. How hard for France, now a much smaller power, to accept without gritting its teeth the triumph of America... more»
Gay marriage may be the current hot-button topic, but more basic are questions about love, sexuality, and family in a free society. Do we even need marriage?... more»
Saul Bellow’s best America would be a Times Square version of a German university, with intellectual rigor on one side and scrambling freedom – sex included – on the other... more» ... more» ... more»
“Let’s be clear,” sighs Aime Guibert, amidst a damp row of Bordeaux vines, “wine is dead.” Tell it to a vigneron of the Napa Valley, Australia, or New Zealand... more»
Dickens’s Mr. Podsnap fretted about bringing a blush to the cheek of a young person. Podsnappery, U.S. style? Not printing the title of Harry Frankfurt’s On Bullshit... more»
Anton Chekhov felt there was “more love for mankind in electricity and steam than in chastity and abstinence from meat.” He meant Leo Tolstoy. Two different writers... more»
How do you bring coherence to a pragmatic, cautious, and moralistic political left? Begin by stressing the critical value of equality, says Michael Walzer... more»
Nostalgia goes back a long way, says Roger Sandall, 10,000 years, in fact. People have been looking back at a better past for as long as there’s been a past to look back at... more»
Showman, playwright, philosopher, mystic: Karol Jozef Wojtyla was a towering force of humanistic and spiritual thought who compelled a noisy world to pay attention... more»
From Aristotle to Bernard Shaw and beyond, they were always there. Now they’ve disappeared. We have major playwrights but no major drama critics... more»
Has a rational, enlightened Europe figured things out, once and for all? Can people live content in a paradise of material pursuit? Nicolas Sarkozy has his doubts... more»
What do Americans want? Freedom, say conservatives. Liberals will not win the debate, or the next election, by trying to change the subject, argues William Galston... more»
No sooner does it seem that the novel is safely dead than someone comes along and flogs the poor old horse to life again. Holding the whip: Michel Houellebecq... more»
Since anyone can write a weblog, why is the blogosphere so heavy with white guys? Steven Levy worries... more» ... So does Heather Mac Donald.
There were 7,258 multinationals in 1969. By 2000, there were 63,000, with 80% of the world’s industrial output. And that’s just for starters, says Peter Drucker... more»
Intellectual marijuana and bad for you. “Every hour spent in reading comics is an hour in which all inner growth has stopped”... more»
Might a “PowerPoint festival of bureaucratic hyperrationalism” have helped to doom the space shuttle Columbia? Design guru Edward R. Tufte thinks so... more» ... more»
Ever go to hear an intellectual pundit, a Nobel laureate maybe, hoping for deep insights? Did you leave a tad disappointed? Anthony Daniels did... more»
Pope John Paul II may be a beacon for all who long for freedom, says Hans Küng, but inside the Church his anti-reformist tenure has created a crisis... more»
“We are not against Bush,” said Mr. Salha, a Lebanese factory worker. “If he wants to make us safe and free, that’s great. Let him do it”... more» While back in Iraq...
Adam Smith saw society coming to harmony by the dependence of each person on the labor of all others: “truck, barter and exchange” led people to serve each other... more»
Poor countries remain poor because the incompetent despots who rule them keep them that way. Poverty was once our natural state. Today it is almost always man-made... more»
Susan Sontag sensed a rival in Joan Baez, till Terry Castle assured her that “I, her forty-something slave girl from San Francisco, still preferred her to Ms Diamonds and Rust”... more»
Jean-Paul Sartre and Raymond Aron are remembered more for their attitudes than for what they actually wrote. It’s the fate of many intellectuals... more»
The first Islamic democracies will not likely be places for a family vacation. They may even be quite anti-American. But so is France... more» ... Don’t fear the Shiites
Skin color does not give the measure of a man: it tells nothing about his abilities or his temperament, says Armand Leroi. So race is a useless concept? Whoa!... more»
Harry Truman loved books even more than bourbon. A mama’s boy with coke-bottle glasses, he’d lived in distant times and far-off lands with books. Like other presidents... more»
Russia today: the old Soviet secret police kept their apartments, dachas, and pensions. Their victims, Anne Applebaum explains, remain poor and marginal... more»
McDonald’s now buys more fresh apples than any other restaurant or food service operation, by far. Should we treat this as good news? Mike Miliard doesn’t... more»
The great drama critics were not always fair but they were inevitably interesting. Today we have critics better at writing consumer guides than at engaging art... more»
Democrat as well as aristocrat, Lytton Strachey was the first champagne socialist, a cynic who yet believed in love of the strangest kinds... more»
Maureen Dowd, who nearly quit, felt like a Godfather character, “getting shot at.” Let’s face it, the op-ed writers life is not for everyone... more» ... a “token” has her say.
Devoutly Christian U.S. president backs Israel, invades an Arab land, and occupies it violently. Well, in the Koran there’s a verse about the good fruits of catastrophe... more»
“Why don’t they listen to us?” Poor and working class America is turning away from the Left’s messages of hope and change. Lillian Rubin on a widening gulf... more»
Our most honored poets no longer produce powerful, distinctive work, argues Camille Paglia. They elevate process over form. Their poems become meandering diary entries... more»
Democratic revolution is what the Middle East needs, but how do we promote it so that the search for an Arab Kerensky does not yield an Islamist Lenin instead?... more»
Heidegger can’t be pardoned for his Nazism, but Lukács and Brecht are excused for their engagement with Stalinism. Slavoj Žižek asks, Why?... more»
The collapse of the experiment of the October Revolution is a final moment, says Eric Hobsbawm. It will never be repeated, though it remains still a part of human aspirations... more»
As Raymond Aron put it, “every known regime is blameworthy if one holds it to an abstract idea of equality over liberty.” And how about the abstract idea of democracy?... more»
The Berlin Wall fell, the Soviet state ended, Japan Inc. turned out to be insolvent, and look at those elections in Iraq. Why cant journalists see the news coming at them?... more»
Guy Davenport’s gentle curiosity left him amused by human foibles, rather than indignant. He felt contempt only for the academic... more» ... “The Hunter Gracchus
Before the tanks, poison gas, and mass slaughter of WWI, war still went on in Galicia, writes Andrzej Stasiuk, in an old-fashioned, even elegant, way... more»
Okay, she thinks philosophers can be stupid, simple-minded, crude, awful, and boring. It doesn’t follow that Marjorie Grene murdered Imre Lakatos: “I didn’t kill him!”... more»
As Judea insurgent John Cleese asked in Life of Brian, “What have the Romans ever done for us?” “Well, there’s the aqueduct. Yeah, and wine. Public order, too”... more»
Time, like God, is either necessary or nothing. If it disappears in one possible universe, it is undermined in every other universe, including ours. Kurt Gödel knew this... more»
People who sit gripped through four hours of King Lear or a grand-slam tennis final are squirming in their seats ten minutes into a classical music concert. Why?... more»
Curious how so many feminists, when crossed, turn into hysterical harpies. Or delicate flowers, made “sick” by any challenge. Consider the Los Angeles Times... more» ... more»
Basketball players of the world unite: you have nothing to lose but your coaches, bosses, and landlords. What might Karl Marx have said about the NBA?... more»
A new window on the intellectual life of Europe, produced in the only pan-European language. Arts & Letters Daily welcomes the appearance of Sign and Sight
iPod People walk down the street in their own MP3 cocoon, deaf to small cues, shutting out those not in their bubble. Is this a proper society? Andrew Sullivan wonders... more»
Chess is a splendid tool to increase concentration, patience, self-control, imagination, creativity, and logical thinking, says Susan Polgar. She should know... more»
Larry Summers is easily the most intelligent and energetic college president in the U.S. Alarmed by this, the Harvard faculty decided to humiliate him... more» What about families? Again, he said... But where’s Larry?
After the Revolution, the Russian working class became “one of history’s wonders,” wrote Isaac Deutscher: rich in generosity, passion, and idealism... more»
When Ronald Reagan stood by the Berlin Wall in 1987 and told the Soviets to “tear down this wall,” German media made fun of him. Now they make fun of George Bush... more»
Should offensive speech be banned in universities? But learning how to argue means learning how not to be hurt by strong opposing views... more»
Chernobylskaya was the name of the street. People there had worked at the atomic station all their lives. Diseased, invalids, but they hated the idea of closing the reactor... more»
The United States was built not on Christian principles but rather on Enlightenment ones. God was a minor player to the Founding Fathers, Jesus was conspicuously absent... more»
Facetiously is the only English word that has all six vowels in order, James Thurber declared. “Oh?,” replied his copy editor, Miss Gould. “What about abstemiously?”... more»
The polar ice caps are melting! You’ll fry. You’ll freeze! You’ll drown! But the scare-mongering scientists will likely bore you to death long before that... more»
Intelligent design may be a way to explain the world, but does it tell us of the designer? He’s incompetent? A cruel space alien playing with his chemistry set on earth?... more»
Overparenting may give us kids who are spoiled, callow, allergy-prone, risk-averse success machines with no inner lives, say some. But how about the alternative?... more»
As E.B. White lay dying, his son read to him, often White’s own work. “Who wrote that?” the old man would ask. “You did,” Joe would answer. “Well, not bad”... more»
Love, like good food and wine, is one life’s cultivated pleasures. It gives a healthy glow to the skin, encourages us to dress well and stay engaged intellectually... more»
Humbug: misrepresentation, short of lying, by pretentious speech, of one’s ideas, feelings, or attitudes. Harry Frankfurt calls it... more» (not fit to print in the New York Times). Frankfurt’s false etymology (scroll down).
Liberal guilt once meant unease over one’s good fortune in an unjust world. Now it means quiet pleasure in news of murder and mayhem in Iraq. Whatever hurts Bush... more»
The atoms in your brain and body today are not the ones you had at birth. The human essence lies in patterns, in neurons and memory. The soul is information... more»
What if the Holy Grail was not the cup that held the blood of Christ but the bloodline stretching from him? Yeah, and what if the moon is made out of baloney?... more»
“Someday a grand city square in Baghdad will be named after George W. Bush. How likely is this?” Tariq Ali and Christopher Hitchens debate the future of Iraq... more»
What with prenuptials, safe sex, and emotional air cushions of every kind, we’ve almost managed to riskproof relationships. Such options were not open to Heloise and Abelard... more»

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