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2009 Archive (12 found)

Open

November 27, 2009  | 

Before reading a single page of Andre Agassi’s autobiography, Open, I determined to evaluate it according to the standards established in a lovely little essay called “How Tracy Austin Broke My Heart,” by David Foster Wallace.  Austin was a tennis star in the 1970s whose memoir Wallace, an exuberant observer of the game, agreed to …

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Eating Animals

November 16, 2009  | 

The birth of his first child posed a painful quandary for novelist Jonathan Safran Foer: Would he serve turkey at his son’s first Thanksgiving? In “Eating Animals,” a work of nonfiction, Foer (author of “Everything is Illuminated” and “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”) confesses to a lifelong ambivalence toward eating meat. Yet he cherishes memories …

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A Life of Contempt

November 14, 2009  | 

I began counting Ayn Rand’s uses of the word “contempt” on page 43 of The Fountainhead, by which point it had already appeared four times, and twice on that very page. The word shows up thirty-nine times more in the book, by my count, for a total of two score and three. Rand’s villains and …

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No Impact Man

September 21, 2009  | 

In this companion volume to the documentary film and popular blog, writer Colin Beavan chronicles a year spent making “as little environmental impact as possible” while living and working in New York City. The rules are: no elevators, subways, planes, cars, consumer purchases, plastics, paper goods, electricity, or non-local food; also, he must plant trees …

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Empire of Illusion

July 27, 2009  | 

In this short, grim, fiercely argued book, journalist Chris Hedges explains that we are doomed. He catalogues in essay-length chapters four examples of what he calls modern America’s “moral nihilism”: its fawning celebrity culture, sadistic pornography industry, insipidly vocational universities, and pervasive corporate influence. Hedges concludes with a wake-up call for a society that, he …

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By His Own Rules

July 6, 2009  | 

Few will be surprised to learn that Donald Rumsfeld’s signature wrestling move was a body slam. His preferred version, euphemistically called the “fireman’s carry,” is neither subtle nor delicate, a creature more of the Rowdy Roddy Piper school of bruising than the staid and honorable Greco-Roman tradition. Throughout his successful wrestling career in high school, …

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Radical Streak

May 1, 2009  | 

Leonard Bernstein took a lot of flak for his antics on the podium. Patrons of the New York Philharmonic at mid-century were either delighted or appalled to catch a glimpse of the “Lenny leap,” an uncouth maneuver that found the enthusiastic maestro a good foot in the air before a momentous downbeat. A newspaper critic complained …

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The Foie Gras Wars

April 30, 2009  | 

If a single dish could be said to embody the very pinnacle of man’s decadence, vanity, and moral ruin, it would be Pâté de foie gras de Strasbourg. This French specialty is made of a whole goose liver — unnaturally fattened to many times its normal size through force-feedings — wrapped in veal, the tender …

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The Philosopher and the Wolf

April 21, 2009  | 

What distinguishes friendship between two people from friendship between a human and an animal? There are the drinking games, of course. And human friends also offer each other more complex reciprocal qualities (humor, shared experience, perspective) than humans and animals do (patience, dependability, loyalty). But more than that, admiration seems to be a subtly important …

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They Fought the Law: Fred Strebeigh’s Equal

April 8, 2009  | 

An outstanding history of women’s struggle for equality through the courts and in the legal profession. A colleague of mine recently argued an important civil rights case before the Supreme Court. In the hectic days before she left for Washington, as she reread every relevant decision and practiced clearing her throat, her attention was diverted …

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Hunting Eichmann

April 1, 2009  | 

How a Band of Survivors and a Young Spy Agency Chased Down the World’s Most Notorious Nazi Never underestimate the stupidity of criminals. Even war criminals. After Adolf Eichmann, the bureaucratic overseer of the Final Solution, escaped from Europe after World War II, he settled down in a Buenos Aires neighborhood that was known to …

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Straight Away

March 1, 2009  | 

Don’t ask, don’t tell is on its way out, and not a moment too soon. One of the ugliest moments of the 2008 presidential campaign involved a room full of people booing a gay general. During the Republican CNN/YouTube debate in November 2007, retired Brigadier General Keith Kerr asked a question by video. In a …

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