December 1998

  • The Prison-Industrial Complex

    Correctional officials see danger in prison overcrowding. Others see opportunity. The nearly two million Americans behind bars—the majority of them nonviolent offenders—mean jobs for depressed regions and windfalls for profiteers

  • Lost in Translation

    Efforts to design software that can translate languages fluently have encountered a problem: how do you program common sense?

  • America's Maginot Line

    Our bases in Asia are becoming more vulnerable to attack by ballistic missiles. Defending them will be very expensive and might provoke even larger missile deployments. At stake is the United States' reputation as the world's lone superpower

  • Today Is Sunday

    "Promise me," my father says, "if I ever get like this, you'll do me in. Knock me on the head or something"

  • Hoods Against Democrats

    In Bulgaria the distinction between the state and organized crime is clear -- for now

  • Back to Basics

    Easy-to-understand measures that could bring palpable improvement to public life

  • Neshering

    Sharing a cab in Jerusalem requires making a leap of faith

  • An Old-fashioned Christmas

    The holiday brings out the best in Austria -- and vice versa

  • Mahler's Unfinished Symphony

    Now that several versions of Mahler's Tenth have been recorded, listeners have a variety of ways to appreciate its greatness

  • Dirty Hands

    The success of U.S. policy in El Salvador -- preventing a guerrilla victory -- was based on 40,000 political murders

  • 77 North Washington Street

    ANDREW Lichtenstein, whose work appears in Eric Schlosser's cover story, "The Prison-Industrial Complex," has had his film seized only twice…

  • Letters

    Copyrighting Ideas. War in Algeria. America's Future. Tango in Argentina. Copyrighting Ideas. Charles C. Mann's article on the emerging…

  • The Almanac

    Demographics. Late this month phones will be busier than usual at the National Runaway Switchboard, a federally funded toll-free hot line for…

  • Word Watch

    A selection of terms that have newly been coined, that have recently acquired new currency, or that have taken on new meanings, compiled by the executive editor of


A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?


In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.


What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.


How Will Climate Change Affect Cities?

Urban planners and environmentalists predict the future of city life.


The Inner Life of a Drag Queen

A short documentary about cross-dressing, masculinity, identity, and performance


Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.



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