James Fallows, “The Early-Decision Racket”; Caitlin Flanagan, “Confessions of a Prep School College Counselor”; Samantha Power, “Bystanders to Genocide”; William Hamilton, “Suitably Attired”; fiction by Beth Lordan; Philip Hensher on Dawn Powell; and much more.
Early-decision programs—whereby a student applies early to a single school, receives an early answer, and promises to attend if accepted—have added an insane intensity to middle-class obsessions about college. They also distort the admissions process, rewarding the richest students from the most exclusive high schools and penalizing nearly everyone else. But the incentives for many colleges and students are as irresistable as they are perverse
The author's exclusive interviews with scores of the participants in the decision-making, together with her analysis of newly declassified documents, yield a chilling narrative of self-serving caution and flaccid will—and countless missed opportunities to mitigate a colossal crime
In less than 130,000 years, humans have sawed off the most evolutionarily distinct branches from our family tree.
The story of mammals is one of self-destruction. They first arose roughly 200 million years ago, and after eons spent scurrying in the shadow of the dinosaurs, they finally cut loose and evolved into a breathtaking variety of shapes and sizes, including the largest creatures to ever exist. And after all that, it took barely 100,000 years for one relatively young member of the group—us—to bring everything crashing down.
Throughout our existence, humans and other hominins have hunted other mammals, first for meat, and then for pelts, trophies, trade, and more. Since the last Ice Age, more than 300 species have gone extinct, including mammoths, woolly rhinos, and thylacines. A quarter of the remaining 5,500 species are endangered, thanks to one species: us.
They live thousands of feet below the Earth’s surface. They eat hydrogen and exhale methane. And they may shape our world more profoundly than we can imagine.
Alexis Templeton remembers January 12, 2014, as the day the water exploded. A sturdy Pyrex bottle, sealed tight and filled with water, burst like a balloon.
Templeton had just guided her Land Cruiser across the bumpy, rock-strewn floor of Wadi Lawayni, a broad, arid valley that cuts through the mountains of Oman. She parked beside a concrete platform that rose from the ground, marking a recently drilled water well. Templeton uncapped the well and lowered a bottle into its murky depths, hoping to collect a sample of water from 850 feet below the surface.
Wadi Lawayni is enclosed by pinnacles of chocolate-brown rock, hard as ceramic yet rounded and sagging like ancient mud-brick ruins. This fragment of the Earth’s interior, roughly the size of West Virginia, was thrust to the surface through an accident of plate tectonics millions of years ago. These exotic rocks—an anomaly on Earth—had lured Templeton to Oman.
The two senators from a similar place on the left of the party are not working out any deal that would avoid a race that includes them both.
Neither is blinking.
Bernie Sanders thinks he has a lock on his supporters. Elizabeth Warren thinks she can get enough of them, and enough elsewhere to run regardless. Allies and supporters are anxious they’ll destroy both their chances, and kneecap progressive politics along the way.
Some close to Sanders feel like Warren was trying to muscle him out of the race, and laugh at the idea that she will be able to compete with him for his supporters. Some close to Warren feel like Sanders has an outsized sense of his power over the nomination and his chances to actually win it or beat Donald Trump.
“She’s engaged in a chess game where she’s moving her pawns around and she’s trying to demonstrate to many people, including Bernie, that not only is she running, but is fully capable of running, and is so far ahead that you should just give in to her,” said one key player in Sanders’ world.
She had her whole future mapped out when she met Ted Cruz, starting with her dream job in Washington. This is the story of what came after.
A whole new world—that is what Ted Cruz wanted to give her.
It was the spring of 2001, and Heidi Nelson was planning her nuptials to the man she’d met just over a year earlier. On Christmas break from Harvard Business School, she’d encountered the cocky and cerebral Cruz in Austin, Texas, where they were both working on George W. Bush’s presidential campaign. He was “super-smart” and “really fun” and looked like a “1950s movie star.” “It was love at first sight,” she told me.
They filled those three weeks with movies and dinners and drives. Then he took her to the airport, where she’d get on a plane back to Boston. Call me every day when your day is done, she instructed him. And he did call her, every day that spring, at about 3 or 4 a.m. Later that summer, Ted gave her a strand of pearls. Probably fake, she still thinks, but they were from Bergdorf Goodman. And this was special: She’d mentioned once that she liked to go to Bergdorf’s, to look at the china and other delicate things behind glass, and he’d listened.
Earlier this year, I heard from dozens of people who took a DNA test only to discover their fathers were not their biological fathers. Many of them belonged to a private Facebook support group called DNA NPE Friends—where NPE stands for “not parent expected”—that sprang up to connect the thousands of people who’ve had their identities altered by a DNA test.
There are other sides to the story, too. The creator of DNA NPE Friends, Catherine St Clair, recently created a group for the fathers. One such father is Christopher, whose real name we are withholding at his request. Earlier this year, after buying his now-15-year-old daughter an AncestryDNA test, Christopher found out that he is not her biological father. His wife had an affair. (They also have a 13-year-old son, who is his biological child.)
Invented centuries ago in France, the bidet has never taken off in the States. That might be changing.
“It’s been completely Americanized!” my host declares proudly. “The bidet is gone!” In my time as a travel editor, this scenario has become common when touring improvements to hotels and resorts around the world. My heart sinks when I hear it. To me, this doesn’t feel like progress, but prejudice.
Americans seem especially baffled by these basins. Even seasoned American travelers are unsure of their purpose: One globe-trotter asked me, “Why do the bathrooms in this hotel have both toilets and urinals?” And even if they understand the bidet’s function, Americans often fail to see its appeal. Attempts to popularize the bidet in the United States have failed before, but recent efforts continue—and perhaps they might even succeed in bringing this Old World device to new backsides.
Stephen Schulhofer, the Robert B. McKay Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, has studied this issue for decades. His 1998 book, Unwanted Sex: The Culture of Intimidation and the Failure of Law, explores the right to sexual autonomy, and unpacks the laws that get in the way. Schulhofer drew on the book in an October 1998 Atlantic article—also called “Unwanted Sex.” At the time, it was a radical idea.
Newt Gingrich turned partisan battles into bloodsport, wrecked Congress, and paved the way for Trump’s rise. Now he’s reveling in his achievements.
Updated on October 17, 2018
Newt Gingrich is an important man, a man of refined tastes, accustomed to a certain lifestyle, and so when he visits the zoo, he does not merely stand with all the other patrons to look at the tortoises—he goes inside the tank.
On this particular afternoon in late March, the former speaker of the House can be found shuffling giddily around a damp, 90‑degree enclosure at the Philadelphia Zoo—a rumpled suit draped over his elephantine frame, plastic booties wrapped around his feet—as he tickles and strokes and paws at the giant shelled reptiles, declaring them “very cool.”
It’s a weird scene, and after a few minutes, onlookers begin to gather on the other side of the glass—craning their necks and snapping pictures with their phones and asking each other, Is that who I think it is? The attention would be enough to make a lesser man—say, a sweaty magazine writer who followed his subject into the tortoise tank for reasons that are now escaping him—grow self-conscious. But Gingrich, for whom all of this rather closely approximates a natural habitat, barely seems to notice.
What are we to make of the deathbed confession of the political operative Lee Atwater, newly revealed, that he staged the events that brought down the Democratic candidate in 1987?
In the spring of 1990, after he had helped the first George Bush reach the presidency, the political consultant Lee Atwater learned that he was dying. Atwater, who had just turned 39 and was the head of the Republican National Committee, had suffered a seizure while at a political fund-raising breakfast and had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. In a year he was dead.
Atwater put some of that year to use making amends. Throughout his meteoric political rise he had been known for both his effectiveness and his brutality. In South Carolina, where he grew up, he helped defeat a congressional candidate who had openly discussed his teenage struggles with depression by telling reporters that the man had once been “hooked up to jumper cables.” As the campaign manager for then–Vice President George H. W. Bush in 1988, when he defeated Michael Dukakis in the general election, Atwater leveraged the issue of race—a specialty for him—by means of the infamous “Willie Horton” TV ad. The explicit message of the commercial was that, as governor of Massachusetts, Dukakis had been soft on crime by offering furloughs to convicted murderers; Horton ran away while on furlough and then committed new felonies, including rape. The implicit message was the menace posed by hulking, scowling black men—like the Willie Horton who was shown in the commercial.
The one thing you probably understand about quantum physics is actually a poor metaphor for the modern state of the field.
I have suggested before that the one thing “everyone knows” about quantum mechanics is that the quantum world is fuzzy and uncertain. Actually, there’s another thing, too. “Everyone” has heard of Schrödinger’s cat.
That’s why there are so many jokes about it. Schrödinger is driving along when he is pulled over by a policeman. The officer looks the car over and asks Schrödinger if he has anything in the boot.
“A cat,” Schrödinger replies.
The policeman opens the boot and yells, “Hey! This cat is dead!”
Schrödinger replies angrily, “Well, he is now.”
As physics jokes go, it’s not so bad. At the least, it illustrates what a good job Schrödinger did in finding an image catchy enough to become a cultural meme.