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    Make us your homepage Thursday, December 29, 2005 VERITAS ODIT MORAS

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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

Elizabeth Loftus on False Memories

Andrew Delbanco on the Death of Lit Crit

Keep computers out of classrooms

Newsweek on Threats 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

The Sumatra-Andaman shock began at 7:59 a.m. local time, and a deadly monster of a tsunami began surging across the Indian Ocean... more»
Doubling church attendance can raise income by almost 10%, recent research indicates. But is money a good reason to go to church?... more»
Charles Darwin had the best idea anybody ever had, says Dan Dennett. It unifies meaning, purpose, and freedom within the world of science... more»
When America acts, says P.J. ORourke, “other countries accuse us of behaving as if we’re the only nation on earth that counts. We are”... more»
“Beneath this hostile museum curator’s exterior,” one lady writes, “lurks a hostile museum curator’s interior.” Lonely hearts ads for the literati... more»
For a merrier Christmas, you may want to magnetize your wine – especially if it is a raw, cheap one – before you drink. Or maybe not... more»
Knut Hamsun was not a bitter second-rater. How baffling that this brilliant writer was a Nazi collaborator in Norway... more»
Anti-Americanism in France tends to flare after French military humiliation – 1917, 1940, 1962 – or instability at home. It follows that today... more»
Judge Jones’s opinion in the Dover trial is a “withering” one: intelligent design is nothing more than creationism in disguise... more»... full text (pdf)
Ways children find to torture and mutilate their Barbie Dolls are varied and creative: scalping, decapitation, burning, even microwaving... more»
Mass culture is dead. Dazed by cable, bled dry by the web, eaten by iPods. Culture, you see, is being boutiqued... more»
Sinclair Lewis painted in 1935 a picture of an improbable U.S. in It Can’t Happen Here. Read again today, it is an oddly unsettling book... more»
“No mathematics required.” Yes, solving Sudoku does not need that you be able to add, or even to count. But what about knowing mathematics?... more»
Virtual Quixotes: as people spend more time immersed in the worlds of video games, they may lose touch with reality... more»
The locked-out youth of France are given a voice by their own rappers, and local media content rules ensure the message is being spread... more»
Yeah, it would be nice to think God is a friend who listens to us, comforts and consoles us, says Richard Dawkins. But who wants to believe a lie?... more»
George Orwell’s first wife, the bright, exasperated Eileen, has always been an enigmatic figure. Now a new cache of letters... more»
Free labor was essential to the rise of capitalism, since free workers can maximize rewards by working harder. Christian reason made it happen... more»
As Baby Boomers retire, they are set to collect a fortune in benefits: $266,000 for every full-time worker. Might be a bit imprudent... more»
Sex and art are really the same thing.” It’s a great chat-up line. But why would Pablo Picasso think anything else?... more»
What would the booboisie do without them? Conspiracy theories are the sophistication of the ignorant.... more»
A novel may recover from a bad first line, Philip Hensher writes. But the last line is what it leaves a reader with, no matter what... more»
If poor countries need tariffs for social spending and risk losing out with free trade, the World Bank should help them. They must get into the global economy... more»
“Puritan roots run deep,” says Hugh Hefner, whose parents would not show affection: “no hugging and kissing.” He is making up for it... more»
Procrastination cure: you put on workshops for sufferers. Trouble is, some who sign up miss the first session, or don’t show at all... more»
Al Thagher’s Class of 1976 had a recent reunion at a Red Sea resort. About 50 alumni turned up. No word from class member Osama bin Laden... more»
Japanese kamikaze pilots and Islamic suicide bombers. They are not exactly alike, says Yuki Tanaka, but not altogether different... more»
When Susan Sontag’s doctors told her the leukemia was back, she screamed out, “But this means I’m going to die!” Her son cannot forget... more»
Newton’s laws can be derived from general relativity. So why not derive classical mechanics from quantum mechanics?... more»
Arianna Huffington finds ways of getting where she wants to go. They don’t call her the Sir Edmund Hillary of social climbers for nothing... more»
Do plagiarists think no one will ever notice? Their work is making a new genre for book collectors: pulped fiction... more» ... a different view.
SPLAT! BOOM! POW! does not take in the whole of comic book history. The adventure strips pioneered by women cartoonists... more»
For Col. Ted Westhusing, who was both a scholar and military ethicist, service in Iraq meant making compromises. It was all too hard... more»
We underestimate how much random processes can create order: we think order was made where no maker exists. Thus do we believe in God... more»
Buddhist monks, throats slit, Christian girls beheaded, Muslim dissenters blown to bits. It’s Southeast Asias newest war... more»
Anti-smoking activists say that smoking in movies sets a poor example. But Hollywood bad guys smoke a lot more than the good guys... more»
China is an increasingly able competitor on the global playing field that America did so much to build. Perhaps too a little too able... more»
Morphic resonance: the idea of mysterious telepathy between organisms, a collective memory for species. How nice... more»
In Hollywood, there’s a studio price and an indie price. What should be indie movies are now being made at studio costs – with painful results... more»
Concubines were status items in imperial China. Even Mao kept his own harem, and with China’s boom economy it’s all coming back... more»
Darwinism? The very term, with its “ism,” is a rhetorical device to make evolution seem like a kind of faith... more» ... Chas. Krauthammer ... Uriah Kriegel ... Peter Pettus ... Verlyn Klinkenborg ... Ed Rothstein
Whitney Harris had not “the slightest idea” of the scale of German genocide when he began work as prosecutor in Nuremberg... more»
Making music together has the power to create lifelong bonds of friendship. Unless it tears people to pieces. The Audubon Quartet... more»
It is management that converts a mob into an organization, and human efforts into performance. Thus spake Peter Drucker... more»
To conserve wilderness areas and keep up biodiversity you may need to toss tribal people out of their homelands. Well, why not?... more»
It’s what makes America great. Only there could regular guys spend thousands of dollars building ... what? A pumpkin gun?... more»
Europe Central, by William T. Vollmann, has won the National Book Award for fiction. Joan Didion took the nonfiction prize... more»
Computers, oil money, NGO pressures, Arab traditions, and benevolent despotism all come together in camel racing... more»
So youre overweight? Relax, and enjoy some ice cream. The fear of fat may kill you before the fat itself does... more»
The Aboriginal art craze has run its course, says Germaine Greer. Oh well, Aboriginal art, in common with all other art, is mostly bad anyway... more»
Beauty and estrogen. “Women use makeup to cover over the cues of low fertility that would normally be found in the face”... more»
Will science and religion ever find common ground, as many well-meaning people hope? Darwin had his doubts, and so does E.O. Wilson... more»
Latin American soap operas trample the competition where they appear. Does Hollywood have the talent and the will to fight back?... more»
Ha! And you thought Abu al-Zarqawi was a threat? God himself may smite a town that spurned intelligent design, says Pat Robertson... more»
Film has left the cinema and joined us for drinks, with books and music, at home. DVDs signal a revolution in culture... more»
“Fundamentalists want to give a scientific meaning to words that had no scientific aim.” That is why the new Pope is backing Darwin... more»
The soft, luscious, fruity wines of California are slowly killing European wine traditions. It’s Americas war on terroir... more»
John Fowles, author of The Magus, The Collector, and The French Lieutenant’s Woman, is dead at 79 ... BBC ... Guardian ... NYT ... London Times ... Telegraph ... Independent ... LA Times
George Bush may be the most powerful man on earth, but he will never change the nature of politics. Its time for the U.S. to get real... more»
The cool city strategy can halt urban decline. Make your city a honey pot for hip gays and young creative types, and all will be well. Maybe... more»
New Orleanss civic shame is not racism or poverty but a culture of murder so vicious that it terrorizes and numbs the whole city... more»
They Came From Outer Space was nothing more than sci-fi fantasy. We came from outer space may be scientific reality... more»
The cosmological constant was one of Einsteins mistakes. Well, at least his many errors didn’t include wanting to be a physics mandarin... more»
“Lay your sleeping head, my love, / Human on my faithless arm...” Auden’s gay poem begins so wonderfully, says Camille Paglia. But... more»
Philosophy was so popular in Kant’s time that the Critique of Pure Reason was bedtime reading for young ladies. Why not in China today?... more»
Richard Posner says he’s like his cat: “cold, furtive, callous, snobbish, selfish, and playful, but with a streak of cruelty”... more»
The McMartin Preschool was a cesspool of satanic abuse, so prosecutors argued. Now one of the “abused” kids wants to have his say... more»
What with the romance and the cliques, the competition, the dating, and the dances, life in a retirement community is a lot like being back in high school... more»
Homeland Security’s plan for random bag searches for trick-or-treaters will spoil Halloween fun for many kids... more»
What use is the CIA?” asked Richard Nixon. “They’ve got 40,000 people over there reading newspapers.” Not a bad idea, actually... more»
They were medical students, fathers, or businessmen who became suicide bombers in Iraq. Now you can read their obituaries on the Web... more»
Harold Bloom has only three criteria for whether a work should be read and taught: aesthetic splendor, cognitive power, and wisdom... more»
China and India are sure to rise as the next superpowers. Or maybe not. Pranab Bardhan sets the slogans aside and looks at the realities... more»
Methuselah was onto a good idea, maybe. Can we control cell atrophy and eliminate cancer? Barring accidents, we might live forever... more»
Rosa Parks, fearless lady who refused to go to the back of the bus and changed the world, is dead at the age of 92 ... NYT ... USAT ... Wash Post ... LAT ... Montgomery Advertiser
WWI brutalized a Europe that before 1914 promised social progress. Without war neither Bolshevism nor Fascism would have taken hold... more»
Peter Paul Rubens’s feelings for women were edgy and confused. His tastes for plump nudes mask X-rated hungers for sex and violence... more»
Orgasms can kill, tight corsets cause nymphomania and, uh, never fool around sexually with a vacuum cleaner. A little friendly advice... more»
“The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits.” Milton Friedman believed it 35 years ago and still does. However... more»
The sex in Egon Schiele’s work may be intense, but it is never beautiful enough to seem erotic. Pornographic, perhaps... more» ... more»
Albert Einstein, Ashkenazi Jew and genius, wasn’t alone. So are Ashkenazis smarter than other people? Well, you know, two Jews, three opinions... more»
When Apostolos was a kid, he drifted off into the world of numbers. His tiny village in Greece was boring. Now hes taking on Google... more»
Maybe a strong belief in gods and spirits gave our ancestors comforts and advantages, says Robert Winston. But what about us?... more»
When the Khmer Rouge were finished, they had murdered, starved, and killed in forced labor a quarter of Cambodia’s population... more»
Dada: legend has it that this bizarre name was chosen in a typically Dada manner: by chance. Using a paper-knife, Hans Arp... more»
Existentialist angst promises a life that’s short, sickly, lonely, and self-obsessed. Start on the road to happiness with a good laugh... more»
Saddam’s palaces were sheer monstrosities, like the ghastly homes of Idi Amin, Mobutu, or Ceausescu. Absolute power corrupts taste, absolutely... more»
It’s tectonic violence that put fossil seashells atop Everest. An angry earth has more in store for peoples of the ever-rising Karakoram range... more»
Harold Pinter, whose plays force “entry into oppression’s closed rooms,” has won the Nobel Prize for Literature... Nobel ... AP ... Chronicle of Higher Ed ... Guardian ... London Times ... NY Times ... Telegraph ... Weekly Standard ... London Times ... Telegraph ... Washington Post ... LA Times ... Boston Globe ... Guardian ... in his own words
Ernst Gombrich wrote his Little History of the World in just six weeks. Its combination of gravity and grace evokes the man himself... more»
Wayne C. Booth, theorist of fiction in general and irony in particular, is dead at the age of 84... more» ... more» ... more» ... more»
The secular left softened up the philosophic ground with its cheap relativism and is now shocked that the right gives us intelligent design... more»
Daniel Drezner has been denied tenure by his University of Chicago department. Was his blogging a factor?... more»
Fads are so yesterday. They’re not cool. “It’s like everybody is hip now. It’s so exhausting. There’s no discovery”... more»
Hurricanes are powerful, but the mighty Mississippi is still the greatest force of nature in the New Orleans region... more»
Cherokees kept black slaves up to 1866. Then their slaves were made full citizens of the tribe. But now it’s time to divide Indian casino profits... more»
Lorenzo Da Ponte’s main fame rests with Mozart. But he got his start in Manhattan from Clement Moore, the “Night Before Christmas” poet... more»
Students who frequently use computers perform more poorly academically than those who use them rarely or not at all. And it gets worse... more»
Shostakovich subtly worked the Soviet arts system with varied messages in his music: defiant, optimistic, crushed, and despondent... more»
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the purest neocon of all?” Rice? Wolfowitz? Cheney? Perle? Kagan? Who else? Take a guess before you click... more»
Harvard wouldnt be Harvard if it admitted “too many Asians or Jews or pansies or parlor pinks or shy types or short people with big ears”... more»
Popes and preachers were once the main beneficiaries of human gullibility. These days, says Nassim Taleb, it’s stock fund managers... more»
New Orleans badly needs what one Dutch town already has: amphibious houses that float off their foundations in rising waters... more»
How did one classical scholar research his book on ancient Rome? He simply walked the streets of New York... more»
College is fraught with peril for young people. The pressure to party, drink, have sex. And all those non-Christian ideas... more»
German has but one word for “a person who leaves without paying the bill.” But Albanians need twenty-seven words for “moustache”... more»
Samizdat was once a feature of Soviet letters. It lives on in the U.S., in an odd way, on the Internet. Alex Beam explains... more»
T.E. Lawrence’s richly aromatic copy of Joyce’s Ulysses is bound in wine-red leather and gilt and includes the owners biscuit crumbs... more»
After 43 years and $568 billion in foreign aid to the continent, Africa remains trapped in economic stagnation. What’s wrong?... more»
Youthful genius goes off so fast these days. Charlotte Church once had “the voice of an angel.” Now she has the mouth of a fishwife... more»

New Books

If Spinoza was the first modern philosopher – single-minded and existentially committed – Leibniz was the last Renaissance man... more»
Augustine and Aquinas had a faith in progress and reason, which led to our notions freedom, moral equality, and human rights... more»



Natalie Barney, smart and rich, loved loving women. And if she had many women to choose from? “I would choose love many times”... more»
Jean-Paul Sartre five feet tall, ugly, nearly blind in one eye, refusing to brush his teeth. Yet he got the girls like a rock star... more»
The virtuoso conductors were said to have access to the inner secrets of long-dead composers. A mere twitch of the baton... more»
Jean-Jacques Rousseau: “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” Two centuries on, and Rousseau still provokes and maddens... more»
Freakshow. Lobster Man was a crustacean who drank too much, snapped his claws at the audience, and beat up members of his lobster family... more»
Matisse felt incredible stress in the moment of starting his little pen sketches. “I’m not upset,” he barked. “It’s nerves”... more»
Visual capacities of boys and girls are not identical: boys’ eyes track movement better, girls see more subtle colors. And beyond that... more»
Maureen Dowd: the Joan Rivers of American journalism: a catty gossip whose stock in trade is not arresting ideas but glib putdowns... more»
Paul Lafargue, son-in-law of Karl Marx, dismissed the socialist “right to work.” He wanted the right to lie in bed, to read, to be lazy... more»
“I shop, therefore I am” is an old credo. Look at the harried wives, status-seeking men, and giggling teens who shopped in the Renaissance... more»
Romes Colosseum: The gaudy executions with victims dressed as figures from mythology. Halftime was a lot worse than the Super Bowl... more»
Beethoven’s last act was to sit up in his deathbed and curse the thunderstorm that raged outside. Fits the man... more»
D.H. Lawrence: it is difficult to deny his suggestion of there being a quicker, deeper life just beneath the one we live... more»
Anxiety is a first principle of our social life. Capital foments an insecurity that impels people to submit to its demands... more»
“Freedom for others means safety for ourselves. Let us be for freedom for others.” The neocon credo appeals to both left and right... more»
As AT&T; used to say, “Reach out and touch someone.” For the NSA it nicely sums up using drone aircraft to, well, get in touch with the Taliban... more»
William Wordsworth: a great poet and the one we are most tempted to laugh at. He’s been mocked for as long as he’s been revered... more»
Political pundits turn out to be as unreliable as psychological research predicts. Maybe we’ll all have to start thinking for ourselves... more»
Pineapple was the ultimate in inaccessible luxury fruit. If you were a king, or from the West Indies, you might know what it tasted like... more»
Media provocateur Maureen Dowd coyly dispenses glib, cynical, bedraggled, pop-science platitudes about the war of the sexes... more»
The Irish Catholic Church’s power is subtly eroding, even though it’s still strong, says Colm Tóibín. No one is afraid of the priests anymore... more»
Communism tried to transform capitalism. It ended in tragedy. The counterculture tried the same. It ended in farce... more»
For Mencken the martini was “the only American invention as perfect as a sonnet.” It is still a noble drink... more»
Reading Catullus today gives us a vivid glimpse of sex and nightlife in the high-rolling Rome of the first century BC... more»
Scott of the Antarctic: death for him was a big adventure. He even left a final message for J.M. Barrie, writer of the eternal English childhood... more»
Dieting for Him. Inner grace shows itself in a lean, firm body, the mark of a disciplined life and right standing with God... more»
She had fans: “Ayn Rand is the greatest human being who has ever lived, Atlas Shrugged the greatest human achievement in the history of the world”... more»
The Cyprus fiasco will stand, with others more notorious, as a memorial to Kofi Annan’s dead-hand effect on international relations... more»
“Meager results: that’s life,” writes William T. Vollmann. “Not to be deterred by meager results: that’s a kind of nobility”... more»
It may not be that every word she ever wrote, including and and the, was a lie, but Lillian Hellman had little regard for truth... more» ... Dick Cavett’s account
“I have no literary interests; I am made of literature. I am nothing else and cannot be anything else.” Franz Kafka meant it... more»
Robert Conquest makes a most compelling case for the “sheer practical advantage of liberty,” and for knowing well the cruel lessons of history... more»
New Journalism died in 1977 when Rolling Stone put Star Wars on its cover. What was to chronicle consumerism at last succumbed to it... more»
No matter how elegant a theory is, it’s a baloney sandwich till it survives real-world testing. String theory is physics’ most exciting new baloney... more»
The former U.K. ambassador to Washington has published his shocking revelations. Read them to the end and you realize what a creep he is... more»
“Said Farmer Brown, whos bald on top, I wish I could rotate the crop.” Men understood the old Burma-Shave quatrain... more»
Yiddish’s fusion of lower-class attitudes with the pride of a fallen aristocracy of the mind fitted easily into a culture of aspiration... more»
The Peloponnesian War’s raids, night attacks, and terror campaigns meant murderous cruelty. This is not the glory that was Greece... more»
For Norman Finkelstein, the moralizing finger Israel points at others should be turned back on itself. This man’s beyond chutzpah... more»
To be sure, that Steinway was made in Hamburg. But are you certain the Bechstein wasn’t built in Korea? Angela Hewitt wonders... more»
As adults, we can go back and reread childrens literature with deep delight, but never with a child’s innocence... more»
The beauty of Dr. Johnsons language is a moral beauty, hard won out of his lifelong struggles. Yet another reason to love him... more» ... more»
History, Lenin wrote, knows all sorts of metamorphoses. What does it want for China? Better socialism? A new capitalism?... more»
Max Weber was a genius with deep insights into the modern world. Do we need to know about his love life to grasp the meaning of his work?... more»
A bright, sensitive British boy turned by school sadism into a warped, morbid sexual pervert. Yes, but C.S. Lewis kept his inner joy... more»
Voltaire embodies in his career the great revolutions of the 18th century in religion, civil rights, finance, domesticity, and sex... more»
The man on the bus was trying to thrust his hand under her skirt. After several attempts, she slapped his wrist and said sharply, “Oi, cocker...”... more»
Don’t blame Vietnam on Nixon or Johnson. Blame it on a “woman who turns out to be a snake”: Jane Fonda... more»
Dr. Johnson was horrified by human cruelty to animals. But many animals would not exist, save for our interests in them... more»
Is the obsessive-compulsive who recites The Lord’s Prayer endlessly a noble soul we ought to admire? Or a sicko we should pity?... more»
Female chauvinist pigs: they align themselves with porn stars, strippers, and other hussies and so undermine the real gains of feminism... more»
Culture and book awards have had the shine rubbed off them by having been given to too many undeserving people and serious jackasses... more»
In a century, people will look on our nutritional pieties and marvel: They thought red meat was bad for you? They drank soymilk?... more»
Pope Leo XIII opposed in 1891 both competitive greed and the “pleasant dreams” of socialism. Still, Catholic social thought did not thrive... more»
Languages live and die. You think trade ensures survival? Who speaks Phoenician today? Spanish is doing fine, but Chinese, well... more»
Arthur Koestler was a lone wolf, better at annoying and offending people than making and keeping friends... more»
Why would those aliens travel thirty trillion miles across the galaxy just to abduct a few neurotic Californians? We’d like to know... more»
Victoria wasn’t amused and Ingrid Bergman asked Sam to play it again. But Mae West, all sex, made her mark with “Why don’t y’ come up...”... more»
Gabriel García Márquez has composed, with his usual sensual gravity and Olympian humor, a love letter to the dying light... more»
Humpty Dumpty’s “When I use a word it means just what I choose,” will hardly do, Alice thought. Antonin Scalia has to agree... more»
Chile’s Salvador Allende owed the KGB not only for the porn and women, but for the $30,000 he received to “solidify trusted relations”... more» ... more» ... more»
For all his advocacy of doubt, René Descartes adopted the moral prejudices of his time slavishly. Just look at his view of animals... more»
Opus Dei shows the way for ordinary people to become saints – not by renouncing the world, but by excelling in it... more»
Time was when every family had some member who could play an instrument and read music. It was the world before recording... more»
Who gets into what college is a Nietzschean tale, evolved in a series of fierce battles over power, money, and ideology... more»
Ernest Hemingway needed to destroy a friendship or a marriage every few years just to keep going. In Madrid in the 1930s he did both... more»
Mao Tse-tungs megalomania and his cruelty still have the power to shock ... LAT ... NYT... SF Chron ... CSM ... Com’try ... NYT ... CSM ... New Crit ... NPR ... Seoul Times ... Wash Times ... Time ... USAT ... Spiked ... Excerpt
Is Palestine the issue? Is it to get the U.S. out of Iraq? No: al-Qaedas origins lay in the end of the Cold War, says Faisal Devji... more»
The Victorian class system was oppressive, but can you really find an imperial subtext in Mrs. Beetons instructions for carving a turkey?... more»

Middle East
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Command Post
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Dawn (Karachi)
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Al Jazeera
Kurdish News
Jane’s Defense
Middle East MRI
Military.com
Pentagon
Stars & Stripes
Tehran Times
Turkish Daily News
Turkish Press
Zaman (Turkey)


To be sure, economic growth will increase supply, but it will also raise aspirations. Rich countries have to make hard choices too... more»
Franz Liszt’s lady fans kept his hair clippings and pinned his old cigar butts to their persons. He was his age’s greatest pop star... more»
Joe Louis fought for the hopes of his own race and against the Nazis in his match against Max Schmeling. In the end, the two became friends... more»
Why did Adolphe Sax’s horn, the most important recent musical instrument, charm so many? The saxophone... more»
Eudora Welty knew the bizarre and the terrible can’t be cut apart and that given a choice between grief and nothing, she’d take grief... more»
Hinduism is the only major religion with an explicit tradition of agnosticism in it. Don’t underestimate the fact, says Amartya Sen, ... more»
Stalins ruinous trust of Hitler was a blunder shared by the western allies: all failed to see the deep ideology in German foreign policy... more»
Every child in every society creates song and dance: it’s a fundamental activity of Homo sapiens. Why and when did music evolve?... more»
Herman Obermayer and his fellow GIs paid little attention to VE-Day. They assumed they’d be sent over to the invasion of Japan... more»
While memory confirms and reinforces itself, says Tony Judt, “history contributes to the disenchantment of the world”... more»
Desperately poor Africans put up with governments that are corrupt and capricious. Does poverty make bad government, or the reverse?... more»
Helen, her arms as milky white as the egg from which she was hatched, was the last of Zeus’ children, and the most fatal... more»
Theodore Dalrymple has found a following on the sarcastic right. If anything, it is the thoughtful left that should be reading him... more»
“Have you noticed Tolstoys language?” asked Chekhov. “Enormous periods, sentences piled on each other ... It’s art, and it only comes after hard work”... more»
Will Iraq become a failed state terrorized by warlords, or maybe a future South Korea, not exactly free, but on the road to prosperity?... more»
Madame Bovarys ovaries spoke to her with urgency. She’s not the only literary character to triumph or to die by Darwinian selection... more»
Why would anybody phone a stranger on prime-time TV to ask if she should leave her boyfriend? Self-help gurus are parasites... more»
Communists went to Tibet to make the Tibetans masters in their own home and build a happy new society. That was Phünwang’s hope... more»
The rape of more than a million German women by Russians was a strictly guarded postwar taboo. Now the world knows, and knows much more... more»
Constanze came into her own after her husband died, shrewd and tireless champion of his music. She was but one of Mozarts women... more»
The campus novel is a literary genre with its own critical questions. Why are so many shifty women in these books named “Elaine”?... more»
“What do you call six hundred lawyers at the bottom of the sea?” Answer: “A good start.” Why do we get such a kick out of lawyer jokes?... more»
Officers of British India went for tiger hunting and pig-sticking. Most soldiers stayed by the usual pastimes of drinking and whoring... more»
Fewer than half of Americans today have a living memory of Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon. For them, it was a dawn, but a false one... more»
In his latest, Harold Bloom is again a lazy gardener, tossing seeds of his insights about, but not lingering to see if they sprout into thought... more»
Classical music is in its death throes, orchestras bled dry by greedy unions and greedier soloists. But was it any better fifty years ago?... more»
Fat people are fat because they are troubled. They lose weight, become troubled slim people, gain the fat back and are more troubled than ever... more»
Call me Ishmael.” This quiet, portentous sentence begins a novel whose eloquence rivals that of the Bible and of Shakespeare... more»
A society of free speech needs lively exchanges of ideas in the middle and not just loud voices from its eccentric fringe... more»
Winston Churchill spent an entire lifetime cutting corners, boasting, and imposing his monumental ego across the entire political scene... more»
There is so much explosive material in Catherine the Great’s life story that it is no surprise later czars wanted to keep a lid on it... more»
A warming earth: watch for all the monsoons, mega-droughts, freezing temps, malaria, dengue fever, and real bad allergies. So much to worry about... more»

Essays and Opinion

The glow of moral virtue is so bright it can outshine the real value of our charity. So just where has all that money for tsunami victims gone?... more» ... more»
Are G.W. Bush and the Republican Party true exemplars of a conservative tradition? In many respects, they are very far from it, argues Jeffrey Hart... more»
The events in Munich, 1972, have much to tell us, Stephen Spielberg thinks, about the situation we are in today. Edward Rothstein is not so sure... more»
The trial of Orhan Pamuk for “publicly denigrating Turkish identity” is a disgrace. So is Austria’s throwing David Irving in jail for Holocaust denial... more»
The president of Iran has banned Western music, Beethoven to Eric Clapton, from radio and TV. Schiller’s text for the Ninth Symphony must be especially galling... more» ... more»
Imagine having the only copy of your masters thesis stolen. To find it, you might have to think like a thief – and end up in a rubbish bin... more»
U.S. and European conservatives have deeply different ideas on economics, foreign policy, crime, and morality. In America, conservatives and liberals actually share a lot in common... more»

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The university was transformed by the sexual revolution of the 1960s. It gave us casual, pleasure-seeking sex, free of family, even free of affection. It’s Charlotte Simmons... more»
“You can’t become a Frenchman by going to live in France,” said Ronald Reagan, but “every immigrant makes America more American.” Corny, perhaps, but also quite true... more»
Saddam will be hanged, but what to do with the body? Cremation? Head on a pike? Unmarked grave? Cromwell, Il Duce, Göring, Tojo, Eichmann, and Ceauşescu: each met a fate... more»
If chimps are from Mars and bonobos are from Venus, from what planet does that odd primate, homo sapiens, hail? Robert Sapolsky has an idea or two... more»
Anthony Powell showed us a social system that was cruel, but could also create elaborate patterns of beauty, charm, and power. His was a poetry of life itself... more»
“What’s good for General Motors...” was a phrase once used to vilify G.M.’s head. Now Googles founders buy a big jet and it’s “good for the world.” Oh, is it?... more»
Just when you thought science has proved that hearing his music raises your IQ, someone comes out with a claim that Mozart makes you sick... more»
Orhan Pamuk is facing a trial for the crime of having “publicly denigrated Turkish identity.” He thinks he’ll beat the rap, but the problem is bigger than his plight alone... more» ... more» ... more»
Africa has become a theater of empty talk and public gestures, says former Peace Corps volunteer Paul Theroux. Celebrities and charity concerts will not save the continent... more»
Prizes and top 10 lists are cheap forms of mass therapy, reducing the stress of having to choose, says Peder Zane. Consider them cultural Prozac... more»
Susan Sontag called for an erotics of art. Forty years on, all we’ve got in the English department is a neurotics of art: endless politics, victimology, meaning mongering... more»
No society, no matter how tolerant, says Salman Rushdie, can expect to thrive if its citizens don’t prize what their citizenship means: what it means to be French, or British... more»
What goes on in Iraq today is well below the level of guerilla war: an analogy would be the Intifada, or battling the IRA or ETA. There are few “lessons of Vietnam” for Iraq... more»
What happens when a radical loser overcomes his isolation and finds other losers to give him recognition? Hey, he becomes an Islamic suicide bomber... more»
Tolerance or Death! European culture leaders should face down fanatical Islamists. Instead, they are bending over for them... more»
Hans Sedlmayr’s Art in Crisis is a work of cultural epidemiology, an attempt to draw a fever chart for art in the modern age. It was a book well ahead of its time... more»
Lewis Lapham decries oligarchies, but he is nostalgic for the old media oligarchy that included Harper’s. The liberal left in charge, as well it ought to be... more»
Albert Einstein saw more deeply into quantum mechanics than many of its ardent defenders. His interest was philosophical, to be sure, but it was not senseless... more»
Mary McCarthy mistook snobbery for morality, just as Edmund Wilson mistook life for literature. Theirs was the union of a true bitch with a genuine bully... more»
How could Shakespeare know so much about every aspect of human life if he were but a mere grammar school boy from Stratford? Must have had a Ph.D or something... more»
The death of God has led to the birth of countless new idols, from pagan cults to The Da Vinci Code. They multiply like bacteria on the corpse of the Church, says Umberto Eco... more»
Hollywood’s cartoonish caricatures of evil multinationals do make for entertaining movies. But they may come at a price. Kenneth Rogoff explains... more»
Slavoj Žižek’s efforts to combine a Marxist critique of capitalism with Lacan’s psychology and a slavish attention to pop culture excite some people. Not everybody... more»
“Ugly and poisonous,” propaganda for “a life-hating ideology,” “racist,” and marked by a “sadomasochistic relish for violence.” Philip Pullman does not like Narnia... more»
If Iraqis are motivated by knowing they will soon be on their own, they can achieve an autonomous policing capability with a year’s hard work. Then the U.S. can leave... more»
Competent, sophisticated journalists ought to be immune to wild rumors. So does the U.S. have competent, sophisticated journalists? Look at the Katrina coverage... more» ... more»
A century after his birth, the gulf between C.P. Snows two cultures seems as vast as ever. A few brave souls are trying to build bridges. Not that it’ll help their careers... more»
So many young women who can make sense of spreadsheets, quote Shakespeare, and tone discrete muscle groups – cant cook a proper Thanksgiving dinner... more»
Sure, Americans waste more than the French on restaurants, but it makes jobs for immigrants and young workers. France prefers to control its labor market for “fairness”... more»
The results of Edward Teller’s work are still being played out in history. Will the future view him as a genuine titan or as the ultimate terminator?... more»
Academic freedom once referred to the freedom of college profs to teach what they thought salient and true. Now it means freedom of students to hear what they want... more»
Buck Rogers sci-fi extrapolates into the future. Philip K. Dicks speed - fuelled potboilers, however, are as productively alienating as Bertolt Brecht... more»
Jean Baudrillard is still doing his usual French-philosopher thing, scandalizing audiences with the grandiloquent sweep of his gnomic, post-Marxian pessimism... more»
No one feels guilty about using tax preparation software instead of a live accountant. Yet many feel it’s wrong to outsource tax preparation to India. Why?... more»
Amid the chaos in Iraq, a U.S. Special Forces unit, relying on common sense, the trust of Iraqis, and a little Poli Sci 101, managed to build an actual democracy... more»
William Vollmann’s Europe Central was to be “parables about famous, infamous, and anonymous European moral actors at moments of decision.” It’s that, and much more... more»
UFO websites are still up, fuzzy photos get taken, and the faithful make the old arguments. But the saucer craze has crashed, shot down by the Internet... more»
Is jazz dead? Not if you judge by the number of books being written about it. But whether anyone is listening to the music is quite another question... more»
The Bush administration has lost the initiative on democratization in the Middle East, says Michael Young. The gong of reality has sounded. Still, that doesn’t mean... more»
A critic is there to set out reasons for an artist’s claim on our attention. We need good critics, informed critics, and more of them. But the minds of editors are elsewhere... more»
John Cooke prosecuted Charles I in 1649. His ideas remain relevant today as the world deals with Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic... more» ... more»
The daguerreotype began it, wailed Baudelaire: “Our squalid society rushed, Narcissus to a man, to gaze at its trivial image on a scrap of metal.” We soon drowned in images... more»
Closed, pre-rational, taboo-ridden, undemocratic, militaristic, and fearful of liberty: for Karl Popper the tribal society was deeply menacing. Roger Sandall explains... more»
“All men are mortal. Socrates is mortal. Therefore, Socrates is a man.” The philosophy job candidate’s guest lecture was not off to a great start... more»
The Soviet Union and the Cold War were for William F. Buckley a galvanizing force for conservatism. These days, he says, the right has become “a little bit slothful”... more»
If a student doesn’t know who, say, Jack Kerouac was, okay. We were all young and ignorant once. But what about young people who dont care that they dont know?... more»
“For me, loyalty to the citizens of this country must take precedence over loyalty to any political machine.” That’s why my big-advance, tell-all memoir is a must read... more»
George W. Bush misled us into an immoral and unneeded war in Iraq with a series of lies that have now been exposed. That’s the claim, says Norman Podhoretz... more»
A lumpen, coarse, loutish, unsubtle, beady-eyed, beefy-bummed herd: Anger has made the English an ugly race. Even English humor is the sound of bullies... more»
“True barbarism has never existed before. We are witnesses to the first true barbarians.” At the age of 82, Philip Rieff has kept his taste for grand, solemn pronouncements... more» ... more»
Paris intifada. If burning the ’burbs gets you more “respect” from Chirac and Sarkozy, then you might as well burn ’em again, and again ... Cath Field ... Mark Steyn ... Spiegel ... NYSun ... Naima Bouteldja ... WSJ ... David Aaronovitch ... Frank Furedi ... Daniel Pipes ... Antoine Audouard ... Olivier Roy ... Jon Freedland ... Jim Hoagland ... David Ignatius ... Nidra Poller ... Anne Applebaum ... WP roundup ... Slate roundup ... Joel Kotkin
Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy are most emphatically not fruit flies. But who says a Darwinian criticism might not have something useful to say about them?... more»
1940s Paris was an intellectual power center, while ’40s Los Angeles, with Stravinsky, Mann, Schönberg, Huxley, Adorno, Alma Mahler, Jean Renoir, and Fritz Lang, was not... more»
Yes, it fills its airwaves with crude anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism, and religious extremism. But al-Jazeera may also help build a healthy new Arab political culture... more»
Odd though the claim it may seem, the world is actually becoming more peaceful, with declines in armed conflict and state violence since the end of the cold war... more»
It’s maybe the greatest invention of all, says Ian McEwan, greater than the wheel or agriculture, this thought system, science, that has disproof at its heart... more»
Some think that the U.S. melting pot can’t apply to Europe, where identity is rooted in blood, soil, and ancient memory. If so, democracy in Europe is in big trouble... more»
Sherlock Holmes mavens like to imagine their researches lead to a deeper, more subtle appreciation of Conan Doyle’s work. In fact, they like to imagine a lot... more»
Osama bin Laden: the media implant “fear and helplessness in the psyche of the people of Europe and the U.S. ... what enemies of the U.S. cannot do, its media are doing!”... more»
Humanitarian interventionists face inner torment as they gaze into the Iraq abyss and condemn it, all the while remembering Rwanda and Bosnia... more»
The children of Christopher Lasch’s 1970s culture of narcissism now have families of their own. So how are narcissism’s later progeny coping with life’s problems?... more»
Mythology is an art form. In their attempt to counter the sterility and cruelty of modernity, writers have turned to myth. They show us how to look into our hearts... more»
A tale of two shames: a white shame of racism and a black shame of low achievement. Both require, says Shelby Steele, that the shamed take responsibility... more»
Are the Democrats too ideological to win elections? Hardly: they’re not ideological enough. What do they want on Iraq, energy, trade, tax cuts, etc., except to criticize the G.O.P.?... more»
A deep desire to avoid conflict once permeated Britain. By 1932 over 10.4 million Britons favored unilateral disarmament, with fewer than a million opposed. It was the English intellectuals... more»
“We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love,” said Jonathan Swift. God forbid we should hate religion – and law should forbid it too... more»
Diplomacy is not simply the art of persuading others to accept your demands. You must demand what the world can tolerate. Still, you may need military force... more»
John Bayley’s writing shares all the central Iris Murdoch postulates, derived from Aristotle and Kant. But where she is the intellectual, he is the evasive critic... more»
In Gods atemporal view, the act of creation is simultaneous with the moment of your reading this. God doesn’t look back to creation, nor forward to your clicking on... more»
Congress for Cultural Freedom in the 1950s published magazines and held symposia that brought U.S. and foreign intellectuals into contact. A like strategy is needed today... more»
Blacks abandoned in New Orleans “turned to rape and murder.” That is what we were to expect, says Slavoj Žižek... more» ... The media lied and people died... more»
American culture has begun to mimic the chronic nostalgia of certain strains of post-imperial Englishness. Kipling, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis. Yanks do love them all... more»
What if...” Careful now. If you’re a politician and you float a thought in the antecedent of a conditional, then someone will insist you actually believe it or wish it... more»
The dauphin in the White House, 9/11, Clinton’s amours, Terri Schiavo, Cindy Sheehan. D.C. is made for farce and satire. So why cant Americans write political fiction?... more»
You doubt that Malcolm X was a paragon of humanitarianism, that gender is a construction, that Native American myth is true? Youre culturally incompetent... more»
George Orwell said it of saints, and it’s only sensible that we should say it say of celebrities: They must all be judged guilty until proven innocent... more»
A world without copyright? “Why, we would have no artistic creations, no entertainment.” Nonsense: we would have more art, and more diverse entertainment... more»
The Holocaust produced conditions for two remarkable events, says Eric Hobsbawm: the creation of Israel and the flowering of Jewish achievement in culture and public affairs... more»
Getting out of a war is a whole lot dicier than getting into one, as Nixon found out and as Bush can attest. Melvin Laird says there are better ways to do it, and worse... more»
Let’s be serious, Prof. Diamond. Does anyone care if Mayan civilization collapsed or not? Compare the Mayans with the Greeks. Now there was a civilization... more»
Journal editor to young academic: “We’ll publish your article, maybe, but you need more citations of articles from our journal. And my editorials. Just a suggestion”... more»
In Survivor, settings look pretty much the same: lots of bathing suits, and bugs, attempts to spear fish, and beach-front shack construction. And why so often the tropics?... more»
Calvin and Hobbes was such an exuberant, strange, and metaphysical realm you wonder how it ever got shoveled into a comic strip... more»
Angst entrepreneurs: the politicians, media outlets, corporations, public health officials, and environmental groups who want to keep us in a continuous state of agitation... more»
Lawrence Summers offered a few mild, speculative remarks about differences between men and women in science and math and was treated as a crank. Was he? Really?... more»
In Michel Foucault’s dark vision, all human institutions, however benign their intent, are products of a will to power. Insane asylums will always be chambers of horrors... more»
French housewives dream that their cooking will bring them happiness and love. So they cook with passion and care, “and then the family wants to go to McDonald’s”... more»
For Fisk, Pilger, Galloway, Tariq Ali and Naomi Klein, terrorism is a problem easily solved: leave Iraq, cut support for Israel, use non-oil energy. Oh, would it were so... more» ... more»
Hans Bethe felt “the most intense relief” that atomic weapons he helped develop had not been used since WWII – but horror that thousands more had been built... more»
The Authoritarian Personality. Are there large numbers of covertly “fascistic” people in the U.S.? In 1950, maybe it seemed so. Today, says Alan Wolfe, well... more»
What if Shakespeare had been born in New Jersey in 1973? As Spear Daddy, his rap would be known for its deep, nuanced ... What if Freud had been a woman? What if you could smell air? What if... more»
In taking on China, the U.S. has one extremely useful strategy: internal subversion. Oops. Max Boot meant to say, “democracy promotion” or “human rights protection”... more»
As the rare upper-middle class white man in prison, Charles Shaw found himself in an alien, self-perpetuating world of poverty, ignorance, and violence. It opened his eyes... more»
The success of a new democracy depends on the openness of a country’s economic system at the time of political transition. Economics first, politics later... more»
Grant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi this much: he is good at exposing the pitilessness on the loose in the fabled “Arab street” and the moral emptiness of official Arab life... more»
Mandarin ruling classes get rather bad press in modern democracies. But do we prefer rule by rival gangs of populists and zealots devoted to Jesus Christ or Adam Smith?... more»
Marriage was once a sacrament, then became a sacred obligation, and at last a private contract. Nietzsche saw it coming, with the family now “a random collection of individuals”... more»
The applicant had the experience he’d need as a chef: he knew how a busy kitchen works, knew the trade lingo. Plus, he even loved Hegel. And, oh yes, he was blind... more»
How does Roman Polanski, who is a fugitive from U.S. justice living in France, manage to sue an American magazine in a British court and win? Vanity Fair’s editor explains... more»
Great works of art never stay the same, says Rupert Christiansen: they ambush and outwit you. “Age cannot wither them, nor custom stale their infinite variety”... more»

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