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2008 Archive (10 found)

The Art Instinct

December 31, 2008  | 

God bless contrarians. When the chumps in the audience start clapping on the downbeat, it’s the contrarians who score one for hipness by hitting the backbeat; roving around like members of some cerebral street gang, they buck trends, scorn fashions — always smirking — and generally look for a thinker’s scrap where first principles can …

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The Irish Americans: A History

November 26, 2008  | 

An old Chicago joke has President Kennedy, Premier Khrushchev and Mayor Richard J. Daley as the only passengers on a sinking boat with one life jacket. Kennedy and Khrushchev each claim the jacket, the former as the leader of the free world, the latter as the head of the communist revolution. Daley, that Irish Catholic …

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The Unwritten Law

November 15, 2008  | 

American legal education holds few horrors greater than the wooze-inducing editorial content that pads casebooks on constitutional law. The notes that follow court opinions are either so deadly simple or so impenetrably dense as to frighten law students into pushing their casebooks somewhere to the back of their computer desks so as to plunge into …

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The Irregulars

October 20, 2008  | 

This breezy, gossipy, beautifully written book traces the early life of the writer Roald Dahl as he made the rounds and unmade the beds in 1940s Washington as one of His Majesty’s dashing spies. Intent on bringing the United States into World War Two, England established a clandestine agency called British Security Coordination, which undercut …

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Yours, Mine, or Ours?

October 12, 2008  | 

Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy Book dedications, while intensely meaningful to their recipients, are usually too simple and private to be more than vaguely poignant to the average reader. “To Véra,” wrote Nabokov at the beginning of “Lolita.” “To Annalena,” begin several of Ian McEwan‘s novels. How lovely, one thinks, before …

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The Challenge

August 17, 2008  | 

In the little commonwealth of books about the personal journeys behind great Supreme Court cases, “Gideon’s Trumpet” is king and lord protector. The book tells, in stirring and unabashedly majestic tones, the story of Gideon vs. Wainwright, the 1963 case in which the court unanimously announced that indigent criminal defendants have a constitutional right to …

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For the Love of Animals

July 13, 2008  | 

Animal-welfare advocates have a difficult time getting the public’s attention. The main reason is that, given the undeniable scale and nature of animal abuse at the beginning of the 21st century – humans kill more than 50 billion farm animals every year and experiment on millions more – attention would demand action, including major lifestyle …

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The Second Plane

April 24, 2008  | 

One of the cleverer conceits of “Money: A Suicide Note,” which is perhaps Martin Amis’ best novel, is the introduction without fanfare of the character Martin Amis on Page 85. (Sir Kingsley Amis, the author’s late father, is said to have thrown the book across the room at that point.) Clever because “Money’s” narrator, one …

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Judge George Clarke Extols DNA Data

February 29, 2008  | 

Because the law is fundamentally a human enterprise, there are no guarantees and no silver bullets. Solid witnesses fall apart in front of the jury; spitting-mean judges unexpectedly rule for the plaintiff while grandmotherly ones rule for the defendant; the opposing side gets away with unconscionable shenanigans; the guilty go free while the innocent are …

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‘Torture and Democracy’ is Definitive

January 27, 2008  | 

Democracies, not despots, created methods that ultimately don’t work. A”dunk” in water, said Vice President Dick Cheney in October 2006, referring to waterboarding, is “a no-brainer for me” if it can save lives. The statement set off a media uproar and soon was hedged with Orwellian qualifiers and obfuscations: America doesn’t torture, full stop. But

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