December 2000 | Volume 286 No. 6
 

The Million-Dollar Nose

Robert Parker Jr. is a plainspoken American with an astonishing gift for judging wine. He is indefatigable and incorruptible, and his numerical rating system is relied on by millions. His taste is changing the way wine is made and sold. Naturally, the French hate him. Naturally, they honor him.

by William Langewiesche

seahorse picture Web only: Two excerpts -- "The Role of a Wine Critic" and "The Dark Side of Wine" -- from Robert Parker's introduction to Parker's Wine Buyer's Guide, 5th Edition (1999).

A New Way to Be Mad

Medical science has a newly prominent sickness -- apotemnophilia, the compulsion to amputate one's own healthy limbs. The condition has found expression on the Internet, and apotemnophiles are turning up in surprising numbers. The correlation raises disturbing questions.

by Carl Elliott

Mistaken Identity? The Case of New Mexico's "Hidden Jews"

Many people have heard the story: how descendants of Jews who fled the Inquisition in Spain still uphold remnants of tradition in the remote uplands of the American Southwest. A tempting tale, but not, it seems, a likely one.

by Barbara Ferry and Debbie Nathan

 
Reports

Notes & Comment:
The Culture Did It

A pervasive locution helpfully shifts the blame.
by Cullen Murphy

Engineering:
The Physics of Gridlock

Traffic jams can start for no reason at all.
by Stephen Budiansky

Personal File:
Obscure Objects of Lapsed Desire

Some art you just can't give away.
by Jeanne Schinto

Fiction & Poetry

Orbit
A poem
by Linda Bierds

Family Christmas
A short story
by Roxana Robinson

Love
A poem
by Lola Haskins

Books

The Cosmopolitan Provincial
Allen Tate: Orphan of the South, by Thomas A. Underwood
by Fred Hobson

Defeat in Victory
Crucible of War, by Fred Anderson
by Jack Beatty

Short Reviews


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Arts & Entertainment Preview: December 2000
Popular Music & Jazz: The Recordings of Satchmo and Bird; Instrumental Takes on Techno. Dance & Theater: STREB'S Latest Derring-Do; August Wilson's King Hedley II. Film: Hong King Action à la Ang Lee. And more...
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Arts & Leisure

Travel:
White Nights in Siberia

Siberia's Lena River will never be mistaken for the Loire.
by Jeffrey Tayler

seahorse picture Web only: Jeffrey Tayler offers some tips for those intrepid few interested in traveling the Lena by ferry.

Computers:
From Your Lips to Your Printer

Software that can convert speech to typed-up text isn't yet foolproof, but it's far more advanced than most people realize.
by James Fallows

Food:
Craftsman Cheese

A recent scare concerning raw-milk cheese was unwarranted -- and should not deter consumers from one of the glories of the American farmhouse.
by Corby Kummer

Literary Lives:
Farness and Depth

(This article is not available online.)
Robert Frost's poetry is getting more interesting all the time.
by Peter Davison

seahorse picture Web only: Robert Frost in The Atlantic Monthly
The first three poems (and one that got away), introduced and read aloud by Peter Davison. Plus, "A New American Poet," the essay by Edward Garnett which ran alongside the poems in The Atlantic's August, 1915, issue.

Other Departments

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Contributors

Letters
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The December Almanac

The Puzzler
by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon

Word Watch
by Anne H. Soukhanov

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