Flying Through the Void: July 22, 1996
There has always been exceptional power and fascination in the story of groups
struck by unforeseen tragedy -- the theme that connects the destruction of
Pompeii by Mount Vesuvius, to the sinking of the Titanic, to the novel
The Bridge of San Luis Rey.
Trial by Jury: July 2, 1996
"A jury room is about the only place in which Americans of different
classes have to deal with each other as equals."
Cuba: Bipartisan Bungling: June 6, 1996
Do we isolate Cuba because this is the best way to tip the internal balance and
bring its dictator down? Hah! The U.S. pressure started under Dwight
Eisenhower, and eight presidents later Fidel Castro is still there.
Issues -- or Politics: April 19, 1996
The first duty of any campaign is to be smart and win, but politicians become
hacks when they think of winning as their ultimate duty too. Historically we
admire leaders who stand for something beyond the least it takes for
Hosokawa's Prophecy: April 8, 1996 The
communiqués from Tokyo next week, saying that the alliance is just
fine, will be on the evening news; Mr. Hosokawa's speech last month
received barely any press. But years from now his will seem the more
Primary Targets: March 8, 1996
Some people have guessed that "Anonymous" concealed his or her name to avoid
outrage from the Clinton administration. Perhaps there is a different group
whose wrath the author fears even more.
What to Cover?: February 19, 1996
"As the Iowa vote was being counted last week, one TV
analyst noted that so many primaries would now be coming so fast that the
Republican race could be over by the end of March. After that, he asked
wistfully, what would journalists talk about until the fall?"
Constant Change: January 15, 1996
"Much like the U.S. army, where chiefs of staff come and go but the institution
endures, Japan's educational, economic, and financial structures brush off the
political hubbub, and shift priorities only when historic circumstances
Imperial Relics: December 29, 1995
"The right conclusion is not that Balkan life is tangled or that there is a lot
of history going around. Rather it is to be impressed, at the end of a year and
near the end of a millennium, with the durability of human deeds. Many
newsworthy realities of the modern day are the continuing effects of decisions
made, or avoided, long before our grandparents' grandparents were born."
Weather Forecasting: December 18, 1995
"Last week, on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, the Weather Channel ran a
historical special on the role of clouds in the attack. "Weather, which made
it all possible," were the final words. Each exposure to such thoughts takes
1 point off your IQ."
Buckle up -- please: November 20, 1995
"Airline language has always been peculiar, with its stress patterns that are
found in no actual human language. "The captain HAS turned on the seat belt
sign, so we DO ask that you remain seated." But the language has become nearly
100 per cent insincere as well."
Powell the Democrat: November 8, 1995
"Today's Republicans say that the best approach to bureaucracy is just to get rid of it.
Colin Powell devoted 30 years of his life to the more Democratic-style goal of making a
very large bureaucracy -- the military -- work better."
Hoopla: August 24, 1995
"Americans often think of themselves as a nation of innovators or tinkerers, but
long ago the world saw us as a nation of salesman. With Windows95 we are
returning to our roots."
The Trade Deal with Japan: June 29, 1995
"So rather than asking the impossible, a total change in this Japanese system,
the U.S. negotiators asked for what matters to America: that is, conditions
that will create larger sales for high-value American goods. And that, in its
limited way, is what this deal may provide."
Trade with Japan: May 23, 1995
"Japan will eventually have to choose which it values more: its
export structure, or its military tie to America, since in the long run it
can't have both."
Japanese Steering Wheels: May 15, 1995
"I think my head will explode if I hear one more Japanese official say that the
reason U.S. cars have only one per cent of the Japanese market is that the
steering wheels are on the wrong side."
Too Late to Say He's Sorry: April 11, 1995
"In the cycles of life, the desire to square accounts is natural, but Robert
McNamara has forfeited his right to do so in public. You missed your chance,
Mr. Secretary. It would have been better to go out silently, if you could not
find the courage to speak when it would have done your country any good."
Right on the Money: March 15, 1995
"A new round of hand-wringing stories is now coming out of Tokyo, telling us how
"worried" Japanese manufacturers are about their yen's "troubling" new
strength. You can take this at face value if you want, and assume that Japan is
on the ropes. Or you watch for its comeback, along with me - remembering that
I'm the one who's been right."
Clinton a "One-Termer"?: January 23, 1995
"Movies and TV shows often feature a character who learns he has a year to go
before a tumor overtakes him, so he suddenly starts doing everything he always
meant to do. The implied question of these shows is, Why don't we live this way
all the time?"
New Year's Resolutions ... for America: January 2,1995
"Number eight: a change in the first amendment, to ban whining in news reports.
Newscasters whose stories encourage Americans to feel sorry for themselves
should be reassigned immediately to Somalia or Tibet. For example: the next
report on rising gasoline prices saying piteously that Americans will be
"paying more at the pump" must add that people pay three times as much at pumps
any place else on earth."
Clinton and the State of the Union: December 19, 1994
"In that memorable first State of the Union speech, President Clinton said that
nations and their leaders must decide how they wish to be thought of, based on
"whether they are prepared to rise to the occasions that history presents."
Instead of rising to this occasion, the president sank."
Computer Shows: November 21, 1994
"To be at a computer show these days is like being in the Klondike a century ago.
Of each dozen people you see, you know that one will soon be rich;
you just don't know which one."
Clinton and the New Congress: November 10, 1994
"Harry Truman, the last Democrat to face a Republican congress, rose to the
challenge and came back from heavy off-year election losses to win a second
term. We don't know whether Bill Clinton can do the same. But we're beginning
to see how he'll try."
The Coffee Connection: October 11, 1994
"My own pioneering research came a dozen years ago, when I
spent a week with a family that had, without telling me, substituted decaf for
all the coffee in the house. Each morning, as I guzzled cup after cup of the
strangely unsatisfying brew, I wondered who exactly had driven a spike into the
back of my head."
Clinton, Johnson, Nixon ... and the Stick: August 24, 1994
"A president without a stick will end up having to forgive too
often, like an owner too soft-hearted to housebreak his pet. Before the summer
ends we may see pictures of President Clinton on the beach. With rolled
newspaper in hand he could practice the crucial words -- Sit, Stay, Bad Dog."
Consider Brazil: August 16, 1994
"I have a suggestion for anyone who has "been there" and sees the world as
familiar and grey. The suggestion is: Consider Brazil."
Ritual Graduation: June 13, 1994
"In the very first row sat the oldest living alumnus, a 102-year-old from the
class of 1913. In the very last row sat a few fresh-faced members of classes
of 1992 and '93. In between were the rest of us, a systematic tableau of what
time does. "
A new software program available on the Internet shows the usefulness and
flexibility of shareware.
Address: Play Northwestern, June
1996 In a speech to the graduates of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism,
James Fallows exhorts journalists to "make what's important
Navigating the Galaxies,
New ways of indexing and presenting information might help to tame the
Internet's unmanageable sprawl.
The Java Theory, March 1996
Will the Internet take over functions now performed by personal computers?
Why Americans Hate the
Media, February 1996
Treating politics as a game, ignoring the real issues, refusing to disclose
potential conflicts of interest, spouting off on raucous political talk
shows that not even the participants take seriously -- these habits are
jeopardizing the credibility of everything that journalists do.
A Triumph of
Misinformation, January 1995 Most of what everyone 'knows' about
the demise of health-care reform is probably wrong--and, more important, so
are the vague impressions people have of what was really in the Clinton
What Is an Economy For?
We know the answer: to grow so that we can all buy more and keep the
world economy spinning. Asians have a different answer: to grow so that a
country can produce more--whoever buys the goods--and keep the
country's, not the world's, economy spinning.
How the World
Works, December 1993
Americans persist in thinking that Adam Smith's rules for free trade are the
only legitimate ones. But today's fastest-growing economies are using a
very different set of rules. Once, we knew them--knew them so well that
we played by them, and won. Now we seem to have forgotten.
America's Changing Economic
Landscape, March 1985
Is the decline in the industrial belt a step into perilous new territory or is it
merely a continuation of the ceaseless transformation that built our
Immigration: How It's
Affecting Us, November 1983
The unspoken question about the immigrants is, What are they doing to us?
Will they divide and diminish the nation's riches? Will they accept its
language? Will they alter racial relations? Will they respect the thousand
informal rules that allow this nation of many races to cohere?
If all Americans are "entitled" to help, who will pay for it?
Liberals and Ayn Rand, 1975
Ayn Rand has no heart for those who stumble, and a good part of the left has no
heart for those whose accomplishments happen to earn them a profit, rather than
being foundation-supported. The usual conclusion to a case such as this is a
plea for mutual understanding, but the brutal reality is something different.