& Letters

Jim Henson was a master puppeteer. He was also a master businessman. More→

Duke Ellington was doubtless a great musician and composer. But can we speak of an “Ellington Century.” Yes, says the author. More→

Robert Zimmerman became Bob Dylan. But who is Bob Dylan? And how many “Bob Dylans” are there? The author attempts an answer. More→

You’ve probably heard ofJean “Django” Reinhardt. But what about all the other great jazz guitarists? The author tells you about them. More→

A lot of ink has been spilled trying to answer the question “What is Art?” Is there any “right” answer? Yes, says Arthur Danto. More→

The age of the bland spreadsheet and two dimensional graph is over! According to the author, information can be–and should be–beautiful (and he’s not talking about that crappy charting engine in MS Excel). More→

Most people want a room with a view. According to the author, the room usually is the view, and a very meaningful one at that. More→

The anti-hero of John Ford’s “The Searchers” is a murderous racist who, as it happens, also wants to kill his niece. He’s also John Wayne, the most American of Americans. Somehow John Ford managed to get the Wayne to inhabit the role. The author explains how. More→

You’ve probably never asked yourself “What would “Star Wars” sound like if Shakespeare wrote it?” That’s okay, because Ian Doescher has done it for you. More→

Before Mathew Brady, most Americans had no idea of what war looked like. In a classic collection of photographs–many very graphic–he showed it to them. More→

& Society

Those Mexican drug cartels are remarkably violent . . . and remarkably successful. How’d they get that way? According to the author, government “godfathers”  had a lot to do with it. More→

What does it take to start a “start-up?” The author, a start-up veteran, will tell you. More→

Has “Multiculturalism” failed? Some folks say so, but not Tariq Modood. More→

It used to be that extreme right-wing groups usually met in out-of-the-way places like North Dakota. Now they meet on the Internet. More→

Thirty years ago we were told America was “a nation at risk” due to the poor performance of its schools. Alas, say the authors, things have not improved. More→

Can the dismal science explain the most dismal pandemic of our time, HIV/AIDS? Not very well, says the author. More→

Educational reform is hard. Really hard. But we’ve got to fight the good fight, says the author. More→

Many people believe the state usually just gets in the way of innovation. Not so, says the author, they often funds the risky research that drives it. More→

How should we deal with ambiguous situations? Too often, the author says, we “innovate” and then try to learn from our mistakes. We should, he says, avoid mistakes by learning from our successes–like the octopus does. More→

Students in the U.S. are routinely out-performed by students abroad. Why is that? Is there something wrong with the American educational system? You bet, says the author. More→

& Present

Did European leaders “sleepwalk” their way into World War I? No, says Max Hastings, they marched hard and fast. More→

Slavery ended (finally) during the American Civil War. But how, exactly? The author explains. More→

Woodrow Wilson is the only U.S. President to have had a Ph.D. Did it do him any good? Look at his record, says the author. More→

Herschel Grynszpan was Jewish, German and Polish. By 1938, he was only Jewish and living stateless in France. It was there that he shot German diplomat Ernst vom Rath, giving the Nazis a pretext for Kritsallnacht

Charles Manson wanted fame. His first plan was to be a popstar. His second was much less benign and seems completely insane. But it was the 1960s… More→

Mao already has a rather bad reputation (outside China, of course). But the more we learn, the more evil he looks. The author tells the horrible tale. More→

The “V word,” the “C word,” the “T word,” the “P word”… We’ve got a lot of names for it. That’s because we think about it so much and in so many different ways, says the author. More→

The second Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjöld, wanted to be a useful instrument of God. Apparently God wanted him to be a diplomat, and a very good one indeed. More→

History is written by the victors. But what about the men who lost America? The author explores. More→

You might think that surfing has a relatively straightforward history: Hawaii > California > World.  But, according to the authors, you’ve got to consider colonialism, technology, Hollywood, advertising, fashion, real estate development, pollution, and climate change to really understand it. More→

& Technology

In a famous set of experiments, the psychologist Stanley Milgram showed that most people would essentially commit murder if “authorities” told them to. Or did he? The author has her doubts. More→

“Big Data” will change everything, right? But what the heck is it? And how will it “change everything?” The authors explore. More→

Humans love sugar, and once they get in the habit of eating it, it’s hard to give up. Too bad it’s not really very good for us. More→

The Internet is a wild and wooly place. Who’s going to bring “law and order”? Well, the Internet Police, of course. More→

It’s not hard to make a mistake in math. But errors can also lead to unexpected discoveries. The authors explain. More→

According to the author, parents should put down their cell phones and pay attention to their kids. And, of course, read this book. More→

The oceans are rising, there ain’t no doubt about it. But the oceans have risen–and, of course, fallen–before. What does a rising (and falling) ocean do? And, now that we’re in a rising phase, what will it do? The author investigates. More→

Hydraulic “fracking” has opened a new age in energy exploration and exploitation. Some people love it; some people hate it. Most people, however, don’t know much about it. The author explains what it is and its implications. More→

You know those fancy brain scans, the ones with all those colors? They’re really cool. Alas, according to the authors, they don’t mean squat. More→

Are great athletes born or made? They’re born and then they’re made, says the author. More→

& Spirituality

Jesus, of course, was Jewish. But what the heck does that mean for Christians? The author explains. More→

Alastair Campbell said of the Blair administration, “We don’t do God.” “Oh yes we do,” say these Liberal Democrats More→

According to the author, many secular liberals are so sure of their stance that they believe anyone who disagrees with them is a bigot or idiot. That, he says, is a huge and harmful mistake. More→

Zionism and the Holocaust defined American Judaism in the post-World War II era. Not for long, says the author. A new American Judaism is on the way. More→

How do you deal with life’s ups and downs? According to the author, Buddhism has an answer. More→

Is the Bible full of “myths?” No, says the author. Some things in the Holy Scriptures might not have happened, but none of those things are “mythological” if one understands what “mythological” means. The entire spirit of the Scriptures is anti-“mythological.” More→

Christ told his followers to help the poor. But where to start? The author offers some practical (and transformational) suggestions. More→

What is the future of religious faith in a world that seems increasingly interested in things and less and less interested in the spirit? The author investigates. More→

In the Christian Scriptures, God is always telling people to do things they don’t want to do. And when they do them, he asks for more. What kind of a God is that? The author explores. More→

Most scholars today speak of the Old Testament as the “Hebrew Bible.” But it wasn’t always so. The Old Testament of the Early Christian Church was in Greek. It was, well, the “Greek Bible.”  More→