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    Make us your homepage Weekend Edition, May 19-20, 2007 VERITAS ODIT MORAS

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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

It’s trailer parks, beat up Camaros, homegrown meth labs, too many kids and not enough government cheese. It’s white trash... more»
Goodbye, American Heritage. After fifty years, and despite a circulation of 350,000, the plug is being pulled on a publishing institution... more» ... more»
Bad news from Gujarat: why is India seeing the erosion of democracy and the rise of Hindu fascism? Martha Nussbaum asks the hard questions... more»
Western analysts bleat on about the strategic importance of that backward, oil-rich area we call the Middle East. Why not just ignore it?... more»
Yes, new global economic rules will make work leaner and meaner. But labor should remake the rules for itself, rather than for the bosses... more»
Literary blogs are fine. They’re a version of your mom’s book club. But when it comes to serious reviewing, we need serious media... more»
Sir Edward Elgar’s public image used to be that of a musical Colonel Blimp: he even looked like a colonel. Reality is something else... more»
George Tenet for the past two weeks has been in book reviews and op-eds just about the most comprehensively excoriated man in America... more»
Does mobile phone use promote economic growth, or do growing economies just make more use of mobile phones? Either way... more»
The Supreme Court can decide any old case when the meaning of the facts is obvious. But is the meaning ofobvious” always obvious?... more»
He’s an entrepreneurial genius, to be sure. But Rupert Murdoch is not the right owner for Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal... more»
Adieu, Jacques Chirac, and good riddance. Perhaps all political careers end in failure, but yours, alas, is the most dismal since Brezhnev’s... more»
Walter Mossberg is without doubt the most influential writer on technology from an end-user perspective – for oldsters, that is... more»
Who’s “more literate” when it comes to literature, Bob Silvers of the New York Review of Books, or George W. Bush? Tom Wolfe says he knows... more»
Climate change is “a baptism by fire for the developing global society,” says one scientist. And so what, if science becomes activism?... more»
A laptop for every student was to be the key to success in schools for the 21st century. That’s what the experts told us... more»
An imperial apologist who peddles poisonous fairytales, or a our finest living historian? Niall Ferguson does tend to get strong reactions... more»
Why would prisoners in Sing Sing prison be so interested in Eugene ONeill? Every convict is convinced that he comes from a loveless family... more»
Zen meditation can atrophy a monk’s body. So were devised the calisthenics that became kung fu. It’s all about peace – maybe... more»
It’s no crime to be depressed or even scary, as Seung-Hui Cho was. For these civil liberties, alas, we will once in a while pay a heavy price... more»
Are you there, God? Its me, Christopher Hitchens. I have a ‘little’ problem that needs a big solution, so I kneel before you”... more»
Many doctors avoid geriatrics: “The Old Crock is deaf, has poor vision, and his memory’s bad. If he’s had it for 50 years, you won’t cure it”... more»
Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution can be linked, some say, to such diverse evils as communism, fascism, and terrorism... more»
Mstislav Rostropovich, who used his cello for purposes both musical and political, is dead at the age of 80 ... WP ... NYT ... AP ... Telegraph ... Reuters ... London Times ... SF Chron ... Independent ... Tim Page ... Washington Times ... LAT ... Richard Morrison ... Daniel Watkin ... Ben Ivry ... Nicholas Kenyon ... Justin Davidson
Is 40 % or more of Moby Dick, David Copperfield, Anna Karenina, or Vanity Fair mere padding? Can these novels be usefully cut?... more»
Work does play an important role in literature. It just doesn’t mirror the importance or merit the attention it gets in real life... more»
Religion finds so many ways to reduce Darwinian fitness. Does it even create enough enhancements to count as an adaptation... more»
Steven Levitt took the world by storm with Freakonomics. In its wake, a slew of copy-cats is turning to the dismal science of economics... more»
In order to understand a story, a critic must pry into the minds of characters, authors, and narrators. A little science can help... more»
Ravens can toboggan, ride other animals, and spy on enemies. Their life stealing from wolves, eagles, and bears gives them an amazing IQ... more»
Take it from James Randi: real tricksters rarely read magic books, they just improvise along the way, according to the needs of the moment... more»
Life itself may not be a story, but there is no doubt that stories infuse our lives with meaning. We all have a bit of Don Quixote in us... more»
The church of global free trade, which rules American politics with infallible pretensions, may have finally met its Martin Luther... more»
Katherine Mansfield died in 1923, only 15 years after she’d decided, at 18, to become a writer. She died so young. She lived so fast... more»
Smoked haddock, scrambled eggs, cold cuts, kippers, roast pheasant, fruit, bacon, sausages, devilled kidneys, scones, and kedgeree. Breakfast for Edward VII. Wait for lunch... more»
Abstract painting is back. True, it had never really gone away, but it had been shunted aside by the vagaries of time and fashion... more»
The pocket handkerchief was a useful tool for a genteel lady in the 19th century artfully to highlight a blush or a tear... more»
Two young CIA officers were shot down over Communist China in 1952 and spent 21 years in prison there. They never even sold their story... more»
Luxury likes disguise: platinum watches look like stainless steel to all but a knowing few. Or consider the expensive suit... more»
Are 400,000 excess embryos now in freezers in the U.S. in truth 400,000 babies? If they are, then they must not be destroyed. If they are not... more»
Kurt Vonnegut, whose dark comic talent caught the temper of his times, is dead at the age of 84 ... NYT ... WP ... LAT ... AP ... Nation ... Guardian ... WP ... LAT ... Independent ... Toronto Star ... Phila Inq
Was Mary Shelley really the author of Frankenstein? Yes, says Germaine Greer, she has to be: the book is just so bad... more»
The “Mozart of Mathematics,” they called Leonhard Euler, not only because of his genius but because of his prodigious output... more»
What happens when a famous violinist puts on a baseball cap, unpacks his fiddle, and starts busking at the door to the Metro?... more»
Pope Benedict XVI is a man who is shy, courtly, modest. But he is driven by a vision of his Church, and in this yields to no one... more»
Its effect is horrible, said Shaw. It made Berlioz grind his teeth and curse. Today, it seems we are obssessed with Handels music... more»
How did our Pleistocene male and female ancestors divvy up tasks of getting food and shelter? What difference does it make to us?... more»
For children, could there be a more beautiful phrase in books than “buttered toast”? Food has a place in literature, a lasting place... more» ... more»
A year after their moment of luck, lottery winners are no happier than people who didn’t win. It’s “hedonic adaptation”... more»
Pardon Scooter Libby? Maybe yes, maybe no. But the queue for presidential pardons ought to be headed by David Henson McNab... more»
Type “college prank” into YouTube and you will find hundreds of videos. Most will be really, really dumb. But just once in a while... more»
The motion was: “Wed be better off without religion,” debated by Dawkins, Scruton, Hitchens, Grayling and others. So who won?... more»
Gentrification, converting old, run-down neighborhoods into yuppie enclaves, can push the rich and the poor in all sorts of directions... more»
The biographer, like a burglar, breaks into a house, rifles through drawers, and in triumph bears his loot away... more»
Most of us can be made into Mr. Hyde monsters without Dr. Jekyll’s chemical elixir. Just get the psychology right, as Philip Zimbardo explains... more»
Assets in halal banks are at $500 billion and Japan will soon offer sharia compliant bonds. But is Islamic banking really kosher?... more»
The Sony Reader is a step in the right direction for those who love the written word more than endless stacks of paper and ink... more»
“Academic politics is so bitter because the stakes are so low.” Who said it first? And what about “Boola Boola”?... more»
“Nobody in Russia cares about chess,” says Garry Kasparov, who himself cares deeply about Russia. It’s a risky life he has chosen... more»
Any woman who is to lead a nation ought to study military history, says Camille Paglia. Hillary Clinton has learned the lesson... more»


A fascinating organ, but the human brain is an absolute mess. It needs to assess risks, but just watch at how it gets things wrong... more»
Globalization creates pressures that increase inequality. How might they best be managed, within countries and at the global level?... more»
Peter Handke’s reputation as a writer is unlikely to survive except in textbooks. As for the Milosevic affair... more»
Never finished that big fat book? Not to worry. A little knowledge can be a practical thing, as Lennard Davis explains... more»
British expats in NYC bitch and giggle over Americans like nannies talking about stupid children. “Our grandparents behaved like this in Africa and India”... more»
With his aphoristic wit, his liking of pronouncements, his appreciation of style and social eye, George Trow was our Oscar Wilde... more» ... more»
They made hemlock available in the faculty lounge for Prof. Socrates – when his students’ teaching evaluations were handed in... more»
Superhero comics books, the muscles and melodrama that kids once knew and loved, are in trouble... more»
Blogging makes a difference, and Josh Marshall proves it with TPM, as the Bush White House scurries for cover... more»
Tony Blair’s hand-me-down (often extreme) Thatcherism combined with his broken-backed Laborism to make for odd government... more»
The fearsomeness of many fairy tales helps explain the popularity of Lewis Carroll in Russia: Alice was never afraid... more»
On genocide and compassion fatigue, Annie Dillard once asked, “At what number do other individuals blur for me?” Try the number two... more» ... more»
Glenn Gould’s 1955 disk of the Goldberg Variations, played on a modern Yamaha grand? By Gould himself? Well, yes. And no... more» ... more»
They sing off key, don’t know it, and have not even learned how to sing: American Idol kids are all about self-esteem andattitude”... more»
Can juries be stacked? Jury selection is now a thriving business, made all the more appealing to lawyers by the dazzle of science... more»
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a liberal, she says, not in the left-wing sense, but in the manner of “classical liberalism – John Stuart Mill”... more» ... more»
Fountain pen in hand, Duong Van Ngo sits near the post office, waiting for his next job. He is the last public letter writer of Saigon... more»
Great art is not meant just to make you happy. Richard Wagner’s text may be awful, but listen to that music... more»
America’s radiation-sensing system detects radioactive briefcase clasps, manhole covers, and chafing dishes. How about a bomb?... more»
The number of people living on earth today outnumber the total number that ever lived. Ever hear that one?... more»
Jean Baudrillard, who argued that all reality is for us but artifice and simulation, is dead... NYT ... IHT ... NYSun ... Figaro ... Reuters ... London Times ... Guardian ... Le Monde ... Telegraph
Many students in China dont think for themselves, says Jingbei Hu. They act rather like he himself did during the Cultural Revolution... more»
A yearning for God might be an inevitable and eternal feature of human cognition, a kind of Darwinian tragedy... more»
Claude Monet wished to “paint the air in which the bridge, the house and the boat are to be found – the beauty of the air around them”... more»
E = mc2 Einsteins equation is the only scrap of physics most people actually know. Why does it captivate us so?... more»
Sophomoric jokes aside, there really are values France and America share – even though some French citizens are said to vote for socialists... more»
Skeptics are proven wrong as China shows that communism can succeed. If that is what you call “communism”... more»
Arthur Schlesinger, historian of power, has died of a heart attack at the age of 89... NYT ... WP
Now children, to the tune of Frère Jacques, sing, “I am special, I am special. Look at me.” It starts in preschool, but goes on to college... more»
Barbara Walters has for 40 years perfected the subtle art of fame maintenance. Can this celebrity warhorse survive our blabbermouth age?... more»
Neither plants, nor landscapes, nor even themselves. In the remote Paleolithic, animals were the first things human beings drew. Why?... more»
Misjudging someone at a party based on his face is one thing. To do the same when you vote is quite another... more»
The Japanese have been folding paper recreationally for at least 400 years. For Robert J. Lang, origami is more than amusement... more»
Aristotle said that a drama should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Okay, said Jean-Luc Godard, but maybe not in that order... more»
Are you happy? The answer will depend partly on your genes but also as a matter of what you stand in life relative to other people... more»
Milton Friedman’s relentless belief in the power of a free people and a free society had vivid real-world effects... more»
“Kids today have no sense of shame or privacy. They are little fame whores who post their diaries, phone numbers, and stupid poems on the web”... more»
Pity taxonomy: the science of naming things seems, in our age of scientific razzle-dazzle, so old-fashioned. Yet for breast cancer... more»
Lavishly praised CDs made by pianist Joyce Hatto are total fakes. The polite world of classical music is in turmoil... more» ... more» ... more» ... more» ... more» ... more» ... more» ... No! Joyce’s CDs are real.
Carl Sagan became a media star with Cosmos, but he also became a lightning rod for both the science and the flim-flam of E.T. life... more»
Men just dont get the idea of gossip. You’re supposed to go “No! Really?!” Or, “Oh my God!” Women get it. Men don’t have a clue... more»
Political theory in the West begins with the Bible, grows with the English-Dutch use of the Bible, and leads to both the U.S. and Israel. It’s one idea... more»
London Fashion Week: time for the hoots of laughter and snorts of derision over this year’s outlandish and often unwearable designs... more»
Praising your children to boost their self-esteem can backfire. It does not improve grades, and when it comes from teachers, well... more»
In the war against bacteria, we all work for the resistance. Ramp up the immunity of any organism, and you only help the enemy... more»
Cultures of problem-solving, mastery, and discovery thrive in some lands, but not so much in Europe. And cultures, alas, do make economies... more»
Kirkuk’s oil wealth could set the Kurds free. But between Turkey, Iran, the rest of Iraq, who wants an independent state of Kurdistan?... more»
Arts & Letters Daily readers need to bluff once in a while too: so here’s a guide to speaking wisely of books you have never read... more»
Ben Franklin’s ironic style, his radical, philosophical, deadpan sense of skeptical humor, has bamboozled many historians... more»
Has a racist tract been named for a possible National Book Critics Circle award? Are the nominees racist, or are their critics idiots?... more»
The tenacity and resilience of Chinese authoritarianism is still not grasped by the U.S. Free markets will not soon give democracy to China... more»
If a chardonnay tastes like peach, what does a peach taste like? If you like “chocolately” shiraz so much, why not just eat chocolate?... more»
To be born in Year One of the Russian Revolution made for a sort of contest. Who would live longer, the Soviet Union or Robert Conquest?... more»
China is champion of the world in the export of pollution. Its factories spew sand, smog, and ash into the skies and across the planet... more»
Emily Dickinson, W.B. Yeats, Christina Rosetti, W.H. Auden: you might think they could never be set to pop music. You might be wrong... more»
Gian Carlo Menotti, whose Amahl and the Night Visitors, The Saint of Bleecker Street, and other operas charmed a wide audience, is dead... more»
There have been movements that have tried to appeal to all Muslims. But will they make an “Islamic civilization”? Samuel Huntington doubts it... more»
The pro-sex feminism, the She Devil anger at men – she was going to “eat their testicles” – Judith Regan could impress a young woman writer... more»
Super Bowl Sunday, holiest day in the American religious calendar, unites the faithful with atheists, Sodomites, and Teletubbies... more»
“Vladimir Putin has his hands on enormous power and uses it to catastrophic effect. He does not like people,” said Anna Politkovskaya... more»
Boris Pasternak never knew it, but the CIA funded Dr. Zhivago in Russian, enabling him to be named for the Nobel Prize in 1958... more»
Authors strive to control their words. Reporters need what is fresh. This tension between the two can be the literary interview’s chief draw... more»
The biology of consciousness is a sounder basis for morality than unprovable dogmas about God or an immortal soul. Time to get real... more»
A stubborn belief in the poor, backward, reactionary South of myth still distorts American politics, and progressive politics in particular... more»
Here’s a supreme being able to make a lion and a lamb cuddle but unable to abide two men kissing. Who would want such a god anyway?... more»
Ryszard Kapuscinski, intrepid Polish journalist who traveled light and courted danger, is dead... Guardian ... Wash Post ... NY Times ... London Times ... Telegraph ... WSJ ... and a contrary view

New Books

Stalins greatest pleasure was to choose his victim, wreck cruel vengeance, and then go to bed. “There’s nothing sweeter in the world”... more»
Americans still look to Rome for omens of destiny. The Founding Fathers started the tradition, with the virtuous Roman Republic in mind... more»
Suppose a CIA analyst knows more than his boss does – and his boss is the President of the United States. This does happen... more»
D.H. Lawrence’s father wanted his boys to follow him into the mines, but their mother instilled the desire to escape... more»
If atheisms a religion, it is fourth in the world, behind Hinduism, and it’s growing. God is not on the side of unbelief, but history may be... more»
To get ahead in the Arab world, go work for an emir. It’ll be a good job, till you begin to behave like an emir yourself... more»
From an essentially living food, bread has become an industrial product in our age. Do we care? Should we?... more»
Goethe was a new kind of hero, and man who brought art and life together in a way that did not look like a grubby compromise... more»
Is there any reason left to care about Soviet communism? Yes, and new books by Robert Service and Archie Brown prove it... more»
Sarah Bernhardt died in 1923, long past her glory days and well out of our reach. Yet she is still the most famous actress the world has known... more»
Our China experts will write op-eds galore about China’s economic problems. But about how it represses dissent? Not really... more»
Shakespeare: not a writer to argue for systems of ideas, but one willing to deconstruct any firm view on any subject... more»
George Tenets new memoir: a bogus history by a man whose hindsight is cockeyed and who had no foresight at all... more» ... more» ... more»
The writer you might guess to be best equipped to respond to 9/11 is Don DeLillo. His novel is now out. Does it live up to expectations?... more»
Decaf liberalism brewed with fair-trade coffee. Benjamin Barber’s new book is about as subversive as Ben and Jerry’s or Whole Foods... more»
Nicholas Sarkozy in his new book comes across as an unusual, audacious politician, a risk-taker and pragmatist... more»
The “penis snatchers”? Who are they? Less a threat to male virility, it seems, than idleness, soft beds, or “the jarring of railway trains”... more» ... more»
In no democracy, rich or poor, has the place of labor – its power and share of income – declined more dramatically than in the U.S.... more»
The BBC: cool and objective in its regard for the news and issues of the day. It reports, you decide – uh, just like Fox News... more»
Having failed to predict the collapse of communism, our political experts now prefer to forget about its cruel system of violence... more»
Karolina Lanckoronska was one tough dame. Interrogated by the Gestapo, she came out on top in terms of guts, brains, and integrity... more»
Lives and minds can over the years intermingle. Thus will you live on after your death. Or so Douglas Hofstadter has it... more»
Joseph Schumpeter: among the last of the great political economists in a field that has turned to mere technical problems... more»
When Barbara Ehrenreich laments a lost golden age of dancing and revolution, it is not about the history of the West, but her own life... more»
The demolition of St. Louis’s Pruitt-Igoe housing complex in 1972 marked modernisms fall from grace. But all, the style survives... more»
Black swans: we think of most events as clustered around a middle, with only rare extremes. But wars, market crashes, and campus massacres will happen... more»
Children’s writer? No. J.R.R. Tolkien’s dark tale, The Children of Húrin, has the mythic resonance and grim sense of fate found in Greek tragedy... more»
Shakespeares face has long been a subject of speculation. Do we at last have proof of what he looked like?... more» ... images
Ladies: you can choose your fate. Take it from Leslie Bennetts, whose charmed life hanging around movie stars qualifies her to tell you how... more»
We consider the primitive music of blues singers such as Leadbelly to be more authentic than that of the Monkees. Come on! All pop musicians are fakes... more»
The beneficiary of incredible luck in life, Ralph Ellison acted as if he were uniquely qualified for all his honors, while he scorned ordinary black people... more»
What is really depressing about Kingsley Amiss later novels is not how bitter they are but how tiny – in motive, complaint, and understanding... more»
Lincoln Kirstein – impresario, agent, poet. Ed Koch once joked that Lincoln Center was named after him. It ought to have been... more»
Garry Kasparov will not find it easy simultaneously to woo the electorate, tell the truth and stay alive. He needs all the luck he can get... more»
What would Jesus drive? An SUV? A hybrid? A bus? It may be a question that needs to be answered if you want to build a green faith... more»
The Great Game: the idea that he who controls central Eurasia will control the world is not much in vogue these days. Still, the idea of empire... more»
It was William Percy’s dying hope that his 1601 play, Mahomet and His Heaven might at last be staged. Little chance then, less today... more»
For 30 years, string theory has been what Murray Gell-Mann called “the only game in town.” Well, they used to say that about mahjong... more»
T.S. Eliot’s writing has at its center, claims Craig Raine, a notion of “the buried life, the idea of a life not fully lived”... more»
Can biology be reduced to chemistry and physics? And whose problem is it? Does it belong to philosophy or biology?... more»
“Iraq is the freest country in the world,” says Mario Vargas Llosa. But freedom without order is chaos, so “it is also the most dangerous“... more»
Edith Wharton wrote in bed, her dog, a Pekinese, beside her, with inkpot and writing desk balanced on her knees... more»
In many societies the rich and poor are kept from each other by lines of force, intimidation, taboo. William T. Vollmann crosses the lines... more»
The Synoptic Gospels of the New Testament – Matthew, Mark, and Luke – present a problem unique in the annals of literary research... more»
England circa 1650: a cesspit of filth, stink, and noise. Nothing was sacred: butchers dumped their offal in churchyards... more»
Talleyrand betrayed every king or government he ever swore to serve. That was but part of what made him such a revolting human being... more»
Nietzsche used a typewriter. Hard to imagine, but trying to stem his migraines he bought one of the new contraptions. Mark Twain too... more»
Some of the sharpest critics of jihadism in Europe, from Pim Fortuyn to Bruce Bawer, have been gay: men attuned to the threat of fanatical faith... more»
Sharing a meal, often sitting face to face with strangers, is a curious act that sets humans apart from all other animals... more»
Why are western liberals silent in the face of student protests in Iran and imprisonment of Iranian activists? ... more»
She was a seamless alloy of Southern belle, New England bluestocking, and Chinese tai-tai. Madame Chiang Kai-Shek played her role to 105... more»
Consciousness happens on the long journey from egghood to personhood. How? Nicholas Humphrey has a new go at an old question... more»
Edith Wharton died in France just before the Nazis got there. Well, if they’d taken over her villa, she’d have made their lives miserable... more»
They are almost all nice girls raised by nice parents and sent off to good colleges. But they change in some ugly ways when left on their own... more»
Einstein loved America, and having the greatest mind in the world around lifted U.S. spirits. This valiant Swabian showed us how to be free... more»
Islamism in Europe is a choice of the frustrated children of immigrants, young people who feel they live in an ethnic and cultural no man’s land... more»
Biography” is now more than books: it’s films, videos, and even a TV channel. So what has changed? Jonathan Yardley wonders... more»
Dapper, with his finely clipped mustache, Ralph Ellison was a man of old-fashioned elegance. In the literary world, he was a party of one... more»
Bush’s war in Iraq not really about democracy; it was about making Iraq less lethal to its own people and to peoples around it... more»
American conservatism is at a point of intellectual crisis, says Andrew Sullivan, as can be seen from the newest book by Dinesh D’Souza... more»
He was cynical, shameless, and trusted in the ignorance and the credulity of his readers. Michel Foucault on madness... more»
Maybe violinists just liked to climb up to rooftops in the shtetl to make music. Marc Chagall was then painting only what he saw... more»
Humanism is “a propensity to increase the variety of the created world rather than reduce it.” Clive James is a genuine humanist... more»
Erwin Nyiregyhàzi was a kind of Velikovsky of music: if he was right, all the rest of us are wrong... more» What you hear may not be what you get.
Artists of Aline Crumb’s 1960s free-floating generation did away with rules and limits – and became an army of narcissists... more»
Yukio Mishima was a right-wing fanatic and national embarrassment for Japan. He was also a vastly talented writer... more»
The Victorian “crisis of faith” predates Darwins Origin of Species. Tennyson felt confronted by “nature red in tooth and claw” in 1850... more»
Kofi Annan: modest, charming, and eloquent, he was the first spokesman for all mankind who looked great in a tuxedo... more»
Leni Riefenstahl was a slut. Steven Bach is too graceful a writer and too nuanced a psychologist to say it so bluntly, but... more»
For Milan Kundera, the novel is a “privileged sphere of analysis, lucidity, irony.” It questions, marvels, and plumbs... more»
In its way, duelling can make a great painterly tableau, stark and eerily beautiful. But in the end, the practice remains barbaric... more»
French and British: so many ways to complain about each other. French hygiene, British froideur, French frivolity, British joylessness... more»
So what’s it all about, in 200 pages, please? Philosophers have refused to tread, but Terry Eagleton marches right in... more»

Middle East
Al-Ahram Weekly
Daily Star (Beirut)
Dawn (Karachi)
Debka.com
Ha’aretz
The Iranian
Iraq Resource Center
Israel Insider
Al Jazeera
Jerusalem Post
Jordan Times
Jane’s Defense
Middle East MRI
Pentagon
Stars & Stripes
Tehran Times
Turkish Daily News
Turkish Press
Zaman (Turkey)


Duke, Brown, Harvard: you are rich, you give them money, and your kids are very likely get accepted. It’s as simple, and as crude, as that... more»
Alexander Solzhenitsyn is put down as Slavophile, romantic, agrarian, monarchist, theocrat, even anti-Semite. Not fair, not true... more» ... more»
The French headscarf ban in state schools: it is a matter of high secularist principle – or rather raw power?... more»
Dean Reed took rock’n’roll to the Soviet Union, settled in East Germany, and ended up as the Lord Haw-Haw of the Cold War... more»
Ayaan Hirsi Ali says, “I left the world of faith, of genital cutting and forced marriage, for the world of reason.” Oh dear. What an absolutist... more»
Robert Frost: ever in search of “the room he needed.” Maybe he never knew, or wanted us to know, what he needed it for... more»
When Kingsley Amis spouted off some political nonsense, it was usually only to bait a nearby bleeding heart... more»
Jazz is not a what, it is a how. If it were a what, it would be static, never growing. Real jazz is forever reborn... more»
Tennessee Williams’s most famous plays still mesmerize us; the later works are almost unmitigated embarrassments... more»
Dr. George Cheyne was the most influential vegetarian in 18th-century Britain. He was also “renowned as a drunken fatso”... more»
Modernist architecture is at least cheap. Manhattan would be even more pricey if office blocks had to be done up like Chartres... more»
Affluenza is a virus. It makes people want more money, but makes then less happy. That is anyway what Oliver James says... more»
The late Hugh Trevor-Roper did not think that ideas make their own way in the world: they need power behind them... more»
Robespierre and Mao did not want that punishment be just for real crimes. Happiness for all required murder on a grand scale... more»
If the Dover case was not quite a “battle for America’s soul,” it was still a significant episode in the conflict between science and religion... more»
Alexis de Tocqueville’s mind, quick on the uptake but trawling so deep, is as rewarding to follow today it was in 1831... more»
T.S. Eliot’s greatness as a poet is established beyond doubt. Why bother to defend him against charges of misogyny and antisemitism?... more»
For academics Susan Sontag’s essays are provocative, flashy performances. For the common reader, they’re like shots of intellectual espresso... more»
Douglas Hofstadter has looked in the Gödelian vortex and seen the physically invisible, murky thing called the soul... more»
The West is a civilization that borrows and mixes, with the result that its culture is never fixed or self-satisfied... more»
The history of Monopoly is the history of America seen under the lens of capitalism. It had a single precursor, but... more»
Almost everything you think you know about Pythagoras is wrong, including that business about a theorem... more»
We are captivated by beauty, and follow it where it leads, at the risk that we may be forever changed by the encounter... more»
If celebrity culture is a form of religion, Mother Teresa was the ultimate religious celebrity of the modern era. And she knew it... more»
Bitter political conflict, hostile rap music, off-putting tattoos, nasty reality TV, the sneers of Donald Trump. Is America an angry land?... more»
“Reason is the slave of the passions,” David Hume said. Casanova was even more direct: “The mind obeys the body”... more»
The old song tells of the “last rose of summer.” Today there is no last rose of summer, nor a first rose of spring. Flowers are an industrial product... more»
To grasp the terrifying sense of Robert Frost’s work, you have to know the difference between maple syrup and poetry... more»
The fashion industry is trying to make men soft, Charlie LeDuff observes. “They are creating a whole subgenus. The alpha-pansy”... more»
Was the 20th “the American century” or the “century of the common man”? No: it was the century of English-speaking peoples... more»
Great Hero of Soviet science: even the laws of nature were expected to coincide with Josef Stalin’s views of Marxism... more»
The romantic idea of early blues singers of as primitive, tormented geniuses was perfect for the promoters of the likes of Leadbelly... more»
The New Yorker’s tone-poet of post-9/11 Manhattan, Adam Gopnik, drizzles his pixie dust over the city. He’s hard to dislike, until... more»
The zombiephiles: nerds, video game addicts, and nostalgists for whom the flesh-eating zombie is a central figure of modern culture... more»
In an age of ephemera, Milan Kundera has long championed the permanence of art and the Flaubertian ideal of making every word count... more»
Charles Darwin spent 20 years keeping evolution to himself in private dread. Alfred Russel Wallace didn’t give a damn what people thought... more»
Comedy has to be astonishing or nothing, and Kingsley Amis was astonishing often enough to reveal truths only comedy can state... more»
Besides Al Qaeda, or maybe the Jews or the White House, what really is to blame for 9/11? For Dinesh D’Souza, its the Wests own depravity... more»
String theory and intelligent design belong in the same category as speculative and unproveable. They cannot be falsified... more»
At the very end of the Bach’s Goldberg Variations, the opening theme appears again as if nothing had happened. But something has... more»
Zheng He’s voyages for the Ming Emperor were vast in scale: seven armadas, 27,000 men, the largest wooden ships ever built... more»
Memorable ideas, ones that stick, are simple, unexpected, credible, concrete, emotional, and story-containing... more»
Richard Posner entertains the idea that plagiarism is not the high crime media moralists and academics regard it as being. It can even be creative... more»
Plato may have turned away from societies that put too much trust in courage and war, but he still knew and admired courage itself... more»
The hard left in Britain has junked its historic secularism to make common cause with Muslim outfits it ought to shun... more»
Oblomovshchina has come into Russian as meaning “laziness.” Ivan Goncharov’s great novel, Oblomov, left its mark... more»
What American liberals want is for conservatives to be racists. That’s easier to deal with than the real problems of economic inequality... more»
The English hate the French, who reciprocate with hate of their own: a purée of prejudice on a bed of inherited loathing... more»
Andrew Jackson tended to relish violence almost to the point of connoisseurship. His instincts for it helped him beat the British in 1815... more»
Since demography is destiny, Mark Steyn places himself at the crossing of two curves: down for Europe, sharply up for the Islamic world... more»

Essays and Opinion

“Many a man fails as an original thinker simply because his memory is too good.” said Nietzsche. There can come a point in life when this begins to make sense... more»
The clash of what? Thoughtful, decent souls such as Tocqueville, Lawrence, Twain, and even the querulous Naipaul, show how the breach between cultures can be healed. Perhaps... more»



Mary Shelley kept her husband’s heart, dried to a powder, in her desk drawer. Then there was Napoleons penis, which looked like a shriveled eel. People collect the oddest things... more»
American feminists are destined to play but a small role in the battle for Muslim womens rights. They are too preoccupied by their own imagined oppression to help others... more»
Rudolf Steiner: philosopher, guru, and nut case. But you would have known that, since your etheric body, the one with the lovely aura, is telepathic... more»
Will China be unstoppable, once it adopts Western higher education? Not to worry! With American advice, the Chinese too will end up as self-satisfied ignoramuses... more»
European leaders mean well but are naive in their stance on Turkey, says Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Turkish liberals need the army in the struggle with the Islamicists... more»
Italy gives Gore Vidal a good vantage point on the U.S. “After all, I don’t write about anything other than the fact of being American. I have no other subject”... more»
Philip K. Dick’s novels read like the work of someone who knows what it’s like to hallucinate. All those uppers and downers, gobbled by the handful, played tricks with his head... more»
Anthropologists make the foreign less strange. Its a skill autistics need, as they struggle to navigate through a world not designed for them... more»
Arthur Koestler was far from being a good man, but he did struggle toward the good by the light of his stunning intellect. Both his virtues and his failings lay in his passions... more»
Our Pleistocene ancestors lived in a world of zero sum: any gain for one human group came at the expense of another. This kind of thinking infects our politics still today... more»
Is Europes fate merely to become a museum of history and civilization, preaching morality in world affairs to a nonexistent audience? Walter Laqueur hopes not... more»
“I’m a free trader down to my toes,” says economist Alan Blinder. But when it comes to sending jobs overseas, to India or god knows where, his palms go all sweaty... more»
More modernity = less religion. So many academics used to believe it. But the real world of human needs has other plans. John J. DiIulio is not surprised... more»
Censorship, beatings, threats, and murder have managed to silence public criticism in Putins Russia. Do Europeans really care?... more»
Firearms have become a vast cultural ideology, indeed, a cultural disease in America, says Robert Jay Lifton. He prefers to call it “gunism”... more»
Violently imposing a socialist or Islamic society is justified in the same way by Marx and Sayyid Qutb: if people were really free, they’d accept this fate instantly, joyously... more»
Friedrich Hayek argued that one of the most important effects of extensive government control was psychological: “an alteration of the character of the people”... more» ... more»
During an endless reception in his honor in Washington in 1921, Albert Einstein said to the diplomat next to him, “I’ve just developed a new theory of eternity”... more»
The idiots are back: Latin America’s populist leaders again wave Marxist banners, rail against imperialists, and promise to deliver their people from poverty... more»
Passion, probability, and policy each play a role in war, said Carl von Clausewitz. Any understanding of war that ignores these elements is flawed. Consider Iraq... more»
Newspapers are cutting back on space for book reviews. In so doing, they may be cutting their own throats. Michael Connelly explains why... more»
Stand aside, chick lit: the big thing now is mis lit, misery memoirs, traumatic tales of childhood torture and suffering. Usually, daddy did it. Maybe mommy too... more»
For Thomas Jefferson, the Barbary kingdoms combined his two least favorite institutions – monarchy and state-sponsored religion – in one target. So he went after them... more»
Whether Europeans like it or not, Muslims are part of Europe, says Ian Buruma. Europeans must learn to live with them and with Islam... more»
Mileva Marić has a real place in the history of science. There is no need to exaggerate her contributions in order to admire and honor her... more»
The Send button, so easy to click, invites too-quick a response. In fact, “Sendmay be the most dangerous four-letter word of the 21st century. Robert Fulford explains why... more»
Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, and Dawn Powell. These three are not women who in the name of “diversity” deserve a more secure place in the canon: they should simply be at its peak... more»
In reading fiction you often come on the idea of a journey, says Hermione Lee: a worn path, a day’s walk in a city, a quest, a progress, a journey through time. Among such stories stand her favorites... more»
When Sheik Taj el-Din al Hilaly claimed that scantily clad Australian women go around like so much “exposed meat,” asking to be raped, he was rightly met by howls of execration. Still and all... more»
Should life scientists make an oath like the Hippocratic oath that new physicians make in the hope that they will “do no harm”? Splendid idea, but... more»
The growing national discomfort over illegal immigration needs honest debate that includes, as well as intellectual mandarins, the people it most affects... more»
As the blame game begins, let’s keep in mind that no one in Blacksburg died for lack of text messages or an alarm system. They died of gunshot wounds. One young man did it... more»
Robert Solomon exuded appetite, endless appetite, for philosophy that matters, problems, in the Jamesian sense, that make a difference for real people. Carlin Romano on a dear friend... more»
Jeffrey Sachs has managed to make the current mood of pessimism into a coherent intellectual system. This celebrity economist is a fitting prophet for our miserable age... more»
We need to figure out how to stop relying on both oil and ourselves, says Bill McKibben, and instead learn what other primates never forgot: to rely on each other... more»
As a centre for culture and related matters, UNESCO may be useless, says Robert Fulford. But as a job-creation program for intellectuals, it has few equals... more»
Luxury for all” is an oxymoron, to be sure, but it is still the aspirational goal of modern culture. So we have gourmet or premium – Popcorn? Burgers? Shampoo?... more»
American literature stands well below the greatest books of the West. Herman Melville, Henry James, Harriet Beecher Stowe are not Balzac, Dickens, or Shakespeare... more»
The desire for liberal democracy is acquired over time as a byproduct of modernization. You don’t just impose it, says Francis Fukuyama... more»
At Arts & Letters Daily, YOU are the most important reader we will serve today. “Your visit is important to us!” Yeah, whatever, says Christopher Hitchens... more»
Academics who study China know about the forced labor camps, use of torture by state police, and the fate of the Falun Gong. But to get along they need to go along... more»
Periodic windfalls of easy money are a siren call for Venezuela. Hard to resist, but as impossible to predict as the rising and falling of the price of oil... more»
Is our focus on happiness in culture today taking us closer to it? Or does a self-conscious striving and frenetic pursuit happiness signal something else?... more»
Charles Darwin’s relationship with God was not a happy one. A firm believer early on, his theories forced questions on him. The death of his daughter was a final blow... more»
Humanists cultivate gloom, says Ian McEwan, with scorn. Scientists, on the other hand, are curious people, and curiosity is a sure stake in life and its pleasures... more»
“Facts are not Republican, and they are not Democratic. Facts are facts.” Maybe so, but they still must be interpreted by Republicans and Democrats... more»
Franklin D. Roosevelt advised that the “only thing we have to fear is fear itself.“ Today, politicians are far more likely to encourage the public to fear everything... more»
By demographic conquest, Europe could go under. Bernard Lewis ought seriously to discuss this issue, rather than just making the odd allusion or wisecrack... more»
Jewish accomplishments in the arts and sciences as well as Jewish IQ are subjects many Jews prefer to be quiet about. So here is a Scots-Irish Gentile from Iowa to tell the story... more»
Paul Wolfowitz learned Arabic in the 1980s, but also speaks French, German, Hebrew, and Indonesian. And yes, “The Boss of Money” has holes in his socks... more»
Save our shrunken heads! Why all the hand-wringing over one of the most famous exhibits in Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum? Maria Grasso stands up for truth... more»
How did a dentist in Dublin get an original Sean Scully to hang on his wall? A remarkable city, says Colm Tóibín, where it’s an eye for an eye, a painting for a tooth... more»
The U.S. would not mind a Japan powerful enough to help ring China. But who wants an ally that denies the rape of Nanjing? Francis Fukuyama wonders... more» ... also the question of sex slavery.
For Germans, Americans are either too fat or too obsessed with exercise, too prudish or too pornographic, too religious or too nihilistic, etc. They cant get anything right... more»
Popular belief has it that humans show a predilection for deadly violence that is even more vicious in the modern age. Steven Pinker argues a different view... more»
“Fame,” said Rainer Maria Rilke, “is finally only the sum total of all the misunderstandings that can gather around a new name.” Consider Brecht, or Lindbergh... more»
Salvador Dalí copped flak for dealing with the rich, says Robert Hughes. But he was honest about it, unlike Picasso, whose communism was mostly wind... more»
300: glistening, hyperreal images that are hallucinogenic in their intense color and blood-spattered violence. Is this the future of movies?... more» And how bad is 300 as history? ... more» ... more» ... more»
Shortly before she died, Joyce Hatto played Beethoven’s Les Adieux from a wheelchair at her Steinway. A brave spirit, perhaps. But also, alas, a thief and a fraud... more»
Shakespeare did not think good actions are necessarily rewarded, says Stephen Greenblatt, but he was convinced that wicked actions always return, with interest... more»
“I am for the Cuban revolution,” said C. Wright Mills after his talks with Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in 1960. “I do not worry about it, I worry for it and with it”... more»
Yoga: something that once was pure and purifying has now been dumbed down, larded with mystical schlock. It’s narcissism posing as humility... more»
The omnicompetent government of Great Britain promises to do just about everything you need done. That it manages effectively to do so little, well... more»
Autumn comes, bringing a nakedness “under the wind, showing the birds’ nests no longer worth hiding.” Say what you will, D.H. Lawrence could write... more»
“The art of the great painters who lived in other times is not an art of the past,” said Pablo Picasso “Perhaps it is more alive today than it ever was”... more»
“I am not a Zionist, nor am I am a practicing Jew,” says George Soros, “but I have a great deal of sympathy for my fellow Jews.” However, when it comes to the fate of Israel... more»
“The chief glory of every people arises from its authors.” Easy for Samuel Johnson to claim it for his age. Much harder for Susan Sontag to argue it for ours... more»
Writers can create worlds readers never want to leave. Jane Austen addicts don’t just enjoy the novels, they want to hang out in the living room with the Bennet girls... more»
“Everything of value that people get from religion can be had more honestly, without presuming anything on insufficient evidence,” says Sam Harris... more»
Are Australians really white trash? Is Kylie Minogue as high as it goes for culture Downunder? Forget about apostrophes, crack open a can of Tooheys, and consider... more»
Barack Obama has molded himself into the male Oprah Winfrey, a crown prince of niceness who bravely rejects divisiveness and eulogizes unity... more»
Physicists like the idea that a theory of everything is hovering right around the corner. But what about consciousness? Sorry, it’s still a mystery... more» ... more»
V.S. Naipaul thought at first that he would write only fiction. “To be a writer of the imagination seemed to me the noblest thing.” He changed his mind... more»
Jean Baudrillard was a comedian of ideas, a French intellectual who should have been in show business. Give him his due, says Robert Fulford, he pulled it off... more»
Rites come and go, but they cannot be manufactured, says Bert Keizer. You cannot just make up rites, and you toy with them at your peril. For example, funerals... more»
Tourists to Australia like to see a dance at their outback hotel, then fly home. But if you don’t know the flies, heat, and distances, you won’t grasp Aboriginal culture... more»
Who says academics “can’t write”? David Damrosch argues that a clear prose style is perfectly consistent with the highest levels of academic thought and expression... more»
Is scientific self-understanding at last possible for the human race? And if it is possible, is it desirable? For Theodore Dalrymple, the answers are no, and no... more»
George Orwell’s methods might not have guaranteed the victory of the Spanish Republic, but Stalins assured its defeat. Eric Hobsbawm ought to know this... more»
For the Japanese defenders of Iwo Jima, the prospect was either to win or to die: “Thou shall fall like cherry petals after a brief life.” It was war most raw, most tragic... more»
Your tribe spent 10,000 years getting there. It’s not a pretty swamp, thick with insects and snakes, but it’s yours. Then one day, along comes – a party of German tourists?... more»
Art world insiders have trends but few criteria. They prefer the word “interesting.” Reactionaries have criteria, but no art. They like the word “bad”... more»
Her character assassinations were never at the expense of warmth or humor, and Nora Ephron is as unsparing of herself as of others... more»
My genocide is bigger than your genocide. Is it any surprise that with all the genocide mongering, we have genocide deniers? Brendan O’Neill explains... more»
Next time you’re in Germany, advises Paul Cantor, skip the soccer and go to a Shakespeare play in German. You’ll see who really wins the World Cup... more»
Is Russia going backwards toward the Soviet state? No, says Victor Erofeyev. “Russia is moving toward its imperial roots, and the model now is Alexander III”... more»
The public’s long romance with movies may finally be losing its bloom, says Neil Gabler, and Hollywood ought to be worried... more»
The rise of India and China now inclines the United States toward an entirely new view of global political structures. None too soon, says Daniel Drezner... more»
Norma Rae, Martin Ritt’s classic 1979 film, looks now like an aberration in recent Hollywood history. Why don’t the struggles of workers find a place in the movies?... more»
China, India, and other lands have economies that are booming. How much do they still need, or even want, U.S. popular culture? Less and less, says Tyler Cowen... more»
Nothing conveys the idea of power quite like a skyscraper, and 9/11 did not kill the appetite for them. Coming soon, Frank Lloyd Wright’s dream: the mile-high building... more»
“There are worse crimes than burning books,” Joseph Brodsky said. “One of them is not reading them.” Yeah, but what about just leaving books behind?... more»
Queer, nigger, gay, and bitch? All are okay – reclaimed, you see. How about guys for a group of people? Well, that one’s problematic... more» But gay? At Oxford? It depends...
Fay Weldon does not envy others’ successes. “We were all golden lads and lasses in our time, it’s just that the sun now shines from another and rather puzzling direction”... more»
America is now dismantling its own paradigm of modernity, says Michael Vlahos. It is tasked with bringing the dark side to submission, an end it can never achieve... more»
College-educated, successful women have long had a reputation for marrying less. But now in a historic reversal, these women triumph in matrimony. Why?... more»
The Spanish Civil War was for young leftists who did not live in Spain like the heart-rending memory of a first great and lost love. For those who were in the war... more»
When he travels, Jay Parini chooses his reading with care. Short fiction to fly across the Atlantic, dense classics for longer journeys. And for a desert island... more»
Humphrey Bogart never said, “Play it again, Sam” nor did Sherlock Holmes say “Elementary, my dear Watson.” Never mind: quotations have a life of their own... more»
When Bertolt Brecht wasn’t writing plays to extol socialist ethics, he kept busy cheating his women and his friends. Just ask W.H. Auden, Lotte Lenya, or Kurt Weill... more»
Let’s admit that Anna Nicole Smith inflated the reputation of American possibility abroad, making it look like anything is possible in America – even without merit... more»
It’ll lead to a horrid consumerization of poetry. Or maybe it’s a way for poetry at last to find an audience. Ruth Lilly’s $200 million gift will not leave poetry unchanged... more»
The “fear of ideas” that has taken root in the U.S. since 9/11, with the refusal to grant visas to some Muslim academics, strikes at the heart of democracy, says Tariq Ramadan... more»
Few authors inspire the life-changing devotion, blind hatred, contempt, or dismissal achieved by Ayn Rand. But why do adolescent girls so often love her?... more»
“It may be heretical, or just foolish, for a book review editor to admit it,” says Sam Tanenhaus, “but there are times when criticism is beside the point.” Consider Saul Bellow... more»
The courtesan: you see her in Verdi, in Proust and Carvaggio. She takes money for sex, is no blushing bride, but is not so fallen as a prostitute. Like Anna Nicole Smith... more»
It’s better to increase the number of healthy foods you eat than simply to reduce the number of less healthy foods. There’s lots of good diet news out there... more»
“Every girl deserves to feel beautiful just the way she is.” Sure, but let’s be honest: not every girl has an equal chance in the beauty stakes... more»
Free speech is fine, but how about denials of agreed truth? Climate change denial, AIDS denial, Holocaust denial? Even under freedom, there are limits... more»
Lindsay Waters wants nothing less than a revolution in reading: we ought “to slow reading down, to preserve and expand the experience of reading”... more»
With communism gone, Orwells books seem less urgent. Maybe one day people will not even know what worried him. By then, they won’t realize all their talk is Newspeak... more»
A double standard: nothing can hinder a woman’s credibility faster than showing the ability to be funny. Consider the case of Hillary Clinton... more»
Keynesianism was the great modern reformation of economics. It led to a counter-reformation – and playing Loyola to Keynes’s Luther was a little guy named Milton Friedman... more»
Fundamentalists both Christian and Islamic meet on one rather odd common ground. Both these groups of religious zealots deplore Darwin and all his works... more»
For Ellen Handler Spitz, Barnard College is forever in heart and mind her alma mater, her foster mother. But how does a college become an alma mater?... more»
Iraq will not soon be the modern state the Americans hoped for in more innocent times. But it still needs patience and help as it works its way out of its current torments... more»
America can’t use an ideology of progress as a moral excuse for a mere power expansion, says William Pfaff. It now faces the logic of history... more»
Has the American reaction to the 9/11 attacks been a huge overreaction? Is the idea that 9/11 plunged us into one of the deadliest struggles of our time simply wrong?... more»
Robert Fulford once had an article about Canadian films rejected by the UNESCO Courier. How pathetic is that? What’s worse, they had assigned it... more»
“At 70 it is natural to begin to view the world from the sidelines, a glass of wine in hand, watching younger people do the dances of ambition, competition, and lust”... more»

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