William Langewiesche, “The Million-Dollar Nose”; Carl Elliott, “A New Way to Be Mad”; Barbara Ferry and Debbie Nathan, “Mistaken Identity? The Case of New Mexico's 'Hidden Jews'”; Stephen Budiansky, “The Physics of Gridlock”; and much more.
The phenomenon is not as rare as one might think: healthy people deliberately setting out to rid themselves of one or more of their limbs, with or without a surgeon's help. Why do pathologies sometimes arise as if from nowhere? Can the mere description of a condition make it contagious?
With his stubborn disregard for the hierarchy of wines, Robert Parker, the straight-talking American wine critic, is revolutionizing the industry -- and teaching the French wine establishment some lessons it would rather not learn.
Imagine descendants of Jews pursued by the Spanish Inquisition, still tending the dying embers of their faith among peasant Latinos in the American Southwest. The story has obvious resonance, and it has garnered considerable publicity. The truth of the matter may turn out to be vastly different, and nearly as improbable.
“Each person comes into our group thinking they are a freak.”
It was AncestryDNA’s customer-service rep who had to break the news to Catherine St Clair.
For her part, St Clair thought she was inquiring about a technical glitch. Her brother—the brother who along with three other siblings had gifted her the DNA test for her birthday—wasn’t showing up right in her family tree. It was not a glitch, the woman on the line had to explain gently, if this news can ever land gently: The man St Clair thought of as her brother only shared enough DNA with her to be a half-sibling. In fact, she didn’t match any family members on her father’s side. Her biological father must be someone else.
“I looked into a mirror and started crying,” says St Clair, now 56. “I’ve taken for granted my whole life that what I was looking at in the mirror was part my mother and part my dad. And now that half of that person I was looking at in the mirror, I didn’t know who that was.”
The country can no longer afford to wait to ascertain why President Trump has subordinated himself to Putin—it must deal with the fact that he has.
We still do not know what hold Vladimir Putin has on Donald Trump, but the whole world has now witnessed the power of its grip.
Russia helped Donald Trump into the presidency, as Robert Mueller’s indictment vividly details. Putin, in his own voice, has confirmed that he wanted Trump elected. Standing alongside his benefactor, Trump denounced the special counsel investigating Russian intervention in the U.S. election—and even repudiated his own intelligence appointees.
This is an unprecedented situation, but not an uncontemplated one. At the 1787 convention in Philadelphia, the authors of the Constitution worried a great deal about foreign potentates corrupting the American presidency.
When Gouverneur Morris famously changed his mind in favor of an impeachment clause, he explained his new point of view by invoking a situation very similar to the one now facing the United States:
Released 10 years ago, Christopher Nolan’s seminal comic-book adaptation legitimized the superhero film—for better and for worse.
In 2008, the superhero movie was foundering at the box office. Just a few years after the success of films such as X-Men and Spider-Man had convinced Hollywood that a growing audience existed for comic-book adaptations, the bloom was off the rose. Films such as Hulk and Superman Returns were high-profile disappointments, opening big in theaters before fading in the face of mixed reviews; other efforts such as Daredevil,Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, and Catwoman were largely reviled. The hit of the summer was expected to be Steven Spielberg’s long-awaited fourth Indiana Jones movie, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Instead, the two biggest movies of the year were superhero films—Iron Man and The Dark Knight—each providing a very different road map for the future of a genre that now totally dominates multiplexes. Iron Man kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a colorful and energetic linked series that just released its 20th entry this year. But none of that would have been possible without Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, which came out 10 years ago. It did more than make money. It was such a phenomenon that it conferred instant validity on the comic-book movie and realigned studios’ business strategies—enough that, ironically, a movie like The Dark Knight could never be made again.
Putin’s decision to reference William Browder at the post-summit press conference provided even more evidence that a 2016 meeting between Trump-campaign officials and a Russian lawyer was blessed by the Kremlin.
Updated at 4:15 p.m. ET
As Russian President Vladimir Putin stood next to President Donald Trump during a joint press conference in Helsinki on Monday, a wealthy banker turned human-rights activist named William Browder was on the Russian leader’s mind.
Asked whether he would consider extraditing the 12 Russian intelligence officers accused by Special Counsel Robert Mueller of hacking into Democratic organizations during the 2016 presidential election, Putin fell back on an old Cold War tactic—whataboutism—and accused U.S. intelligence officials of helping Browder funnel $400 million worth of cash he allegedly stole from Russia in the form of unpaid taxes into Hillary Clinton’s campaign. “We have a solid reason to believe that some [U.S.] intelligence officers accompanied and guided these transactions,” Putin said.
In April 2015, Kaeli Swift laid a dead crow next to a cherry tree—and waited.
Swift, who studies bird behavior at the University of Washington, had previously shown that crows conduct “funerals” by gathering around the corpses of their peers. Now a film crew had come to capture this behavior.
As if on cue, another crow alighted on a nearby branch and gazed at the cadaver beneath it. Instead of cawing from afar, it flew down and approached the body. Swift wasn’t expecting that, and she certainly wasn’t expecting the crow to then droop its wings, erect its tail, and strut in the way crows only do when they’re about to mate. And sure enough, the living bird mounted the dead one.
In Trump’s zeal to get warmer relations with Russia, the American president has stepped straight into a paradox.
After the summit comes the backlash, and after the backlash comes the climbdown. If Trump intended for his meeting with Vladimir Putin to set Russia and the United States on a course to a warmer relationship—something the U.S. president has repeatedly said he wants—his performance has achieved just the opposite. In his eagerness to pursue better relations with Putin—for example, by casting doubt on his own intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the United States election to help Trump win—he has given more ammunition to those in government who seek to constrain him. Trump’s deferential behavior to Putin in Helsinki has undermined the president’s own desire to “reset” the Russia relationship, likely ensuring just the opposite: a more hawkish approach to Russia from his own government.
The former president finally did what his supporters have waited for him to do since Donald Trump became president. He spoke up.
Less than 24 hours after an astonishing joint news conference between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, in which Trump sided with Putin over his own intelligence agencies, former President Barack Obama finally did what his supporters have waited for him to do since he left the Oval Office.
He spoke up, forcefully, with a dire warning about the direction of global politics. “I am not being alarmist, I’m simply stating the facts,” Obama said in a closely watched speech in South Africa.
“Look around,” he said. “Strongman politics are ascendant, suddenly, whereby elections and some pretense of democracy are maintained, the form of it, where those in power seek to undermine every institution or norm that gives democracy meaning.”
Fresh off of meeting with Vladimir Putin, the U.S. president again questions NATO commitments.
President Donald Trump seems to have complicated feelings about Montenegro, the former Yugoslav republic whose admission into NATO he approved last year.
At Trump’s first NATO summit in 2017, he shoved aside Montenegro’s prime minister, Duško Marković, during the so-called family photo that brings together the leaders of the alliance’s member states in order to get a more prominent position in the picture. Then, in an interview broadcast Tuesday on Fox News, Trump called Montenegro, a country with roughly the same population as Vermont (about 620,000 people) and about the same geographic size as Connecticut, “a tiny country” with “very aggressive people.”
“They may get aggressive, and, congratulations, you’re in World War III,” he said.
A major new study questions the common wisdom about how we should choose our careers.
Carol Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford University, remembers asking an undergraduate seminar recently, “How many of you are waiting to find your passion?”
“Almost all of them raised their hand and got dreamy looks in their eyes,” she told me. They talked about it “like a tidal wave would sweep over them.” Sploosh. Huzzah! It’s accounting!
Would they have unlimited motivation for their passion? They nodded solemnly.
“I hate to burst your balloon,” she said, “but it doesn’t usually happen that way.”
What Dweck asked her students is a common refrain in American society. The term “Follow your passion” has increased ninefold in English books since 1990. “Find something you love to do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” is another college-counseling standby of unknown provenance.
Philosophically, intellectually—in every way—human society is unprepared for the rise of artificial intelligence.
Three years ago, at a conference on transatlantic issues, the subject of artificial intelligence appeared on the agenda. I was on the verge of skipping that session—it lay outside my usual concerns—but the beginning of the presentation held me in my seat.
The speaker described the workings of a computer program that would soon challenge international champions in the game Go. I was amazed that a computer could master Go, which is more complex than chess. In it, each player deploys 180 or 181 pieces (depending on which color he or she chooses), placed alternately on an initially empty board; victory goes to the side that, by making better strategic decisions, immobilizes his or her opponent by more effectively controlling territory.