Mark Bowden, “Tales of the Tyrant”; Douglas Brinkley and Anne Brinkley, “Lawyers and Lizard-Heads”; Steve Olson, “The Royal We”; Richard Todd, “Lost in the Magic Kingdom”; Thomas Hine, “Spring Cars”; Christopher Hitchens on Kingsley Amis; fiction by Donald Hall; and much more.
A Princeton geologist has endured decades of ridicule for arguing that the fifth extinction was caused not by an asteroid but by a series of colossal volcanic eruptions. But she’s reopened that debate.
Gerta Keller was waiting for me at the Mumbai airport so we could catch a flight to Hyderabad and go hunt rocks. “You won’t die,” she told me cheerfully as soon as I’d said hello. “I’ll bring you back.”
Death was not something I’d considered as a possible consequence of traveling with Keller, a 73-year-old paleontology and geology professor at Princeton University. She looked harmless enough: thin, with a blunt bob, wearing gray nylon pants and hiking boots, and carrying an insulated ShopRite supermarket bag by way of a purse.
I quickly learned that Keller felt such reassurances were necessary because, appropriately for someone who studies mass extinctions, she has a tendency to attract disaster.
Journalists have been keeping a check on power since the creation of the First Amendment. Now, they’re being tested.
America’s Founding Fathers, after breaking free from monarchical subjugation, were determined to construct a government of checks and balances on absolute concentrated power. So they created a federal system that differentiated between state and national control, as well as three branches of government with distinct powers and responsibilities that had to answer to one another. But, not satisfied that that was enough, they added 10 amendments to the Constitution. And in the very first of those amendments, they established what has become an insurance policy for the continued health of the republic: a free press. As a working journalist, I know I have a stake in this concept. But as a grandfather who wants to see his grandchildren live in a country at least as free as the one I have enjoyed, a free press is even more relevant now than ever.
A mysterious wild cat in Sri Lanka may hold a clue.
The goldfish were the first to vanish. Every so often, a few would go missing overnight from the office’s tiny outdoor pond. But goldfish were cheap, so no one in the building—an environmental nonprofit in the bustling, sweaty center of Colombo, Sri Lanka—bothered investigating.
Then the dragon koi began to disappear. Lustrous and ethereal, each of these whiskered Japanese carp cost around 10,000 Sri Lankan rupees, or $65. In a fit of extravagance, the building’s landlord had bought 10. Soon, he had seven. Then three.
Panicked, the landlord installed four security cameras to catch the thief. The pond rested at the end of a narrow driveway surrounded by tall concrete walls, so whoever was swiping the carp had either a key or the superhuman ability to bound up nearby roofs and drop in undetected. The landlord couldn’t imagine what kind of person would steal a fish, but he was eager to find out.
The internet doesn’t actually offer an unconstrained marketplace of ideas.
The consistently thought-provoking Damon Linker posits in his latest column that Western culture’s dominant view of technology rests on a lie: “the notion that the world would be a better place without gatekeepers.”
Conventional wisdom holds that “if only the most powerful information-dissemination technologies ever devised were left open to all—unregulated, uncontrolled, ungoverned by authorities who make decisions about what's acceptable and what isn't—the world would be a much more free and thriving place, the thinking goes,” he writes. “But for this to be true, human beings (individually but perhaps especially collectively) would need to be far more capable of exercising wise judgment.”
The trial of President Trump’s former campaign chairman offered a striking microcosm of the questions at the heart of the Russia probe.
ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The trial of President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been anything but sexy. A document-heavy, jargon-laden slog, the tax-and-bank-fraud case has disappointed many who expected bombshell testimony and allusions to a grand Trump-Russia conspiracy—but left the courthouse gossiping about $15,000 ostrich jackets and the extramarital affairs of Manafort’s ex–business partner instead.
In U.S. District Court on Wednesday, the lead prosecutor, Greg Andres, acknowledged the case’s complexity and thanked the jurors for their patience, while leaving unsaid perhaps the most significant nexus to the broader Russia investigation: With every new foreign bank account, fraudulent loan application, and falsified tax return the government presented, we learned more about the lengths the president’s campaign chairman was willing to go to hide his financial relationships with Russian or pro-Russian oligarchs (at least one of whom he continued to leverage while working on the Trump campaign).
It’s not the word that matters—it’s the sentiment.
Omarosa Manigault Newman has provided recordings on which nervous aides discuss how to cover for something hideous that they believe Trump has uttered.
And we hardly need question whether the N-word is the one at issue. What would that hideous utterance have been if not the word currently treated as the most taboo in the English language? In an episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show, Rob and Laura Petrie were chilled that their son Richie had used a “bad word” that the script must leave unspoken given the public standards of the era. It is clear, however, that the word was fuck. In 2018, the word those aides are so worried about is just as clearly nigger.
But the question is whether this is truly big news.
A massive new study of online dating finds that everyone dates aspirationally—and that a woman’s desirability peaks 32 years before a man’s does.
You’re at a party and you see someone cute across the room. They glance at you, maybe even smile for a second, then carry on with their conversation. You feel the room shrink, your heart rate quicken, your face go red: You’re crushing on this stranger, hard. But then the sensible part of your brain tells you to forget it: That person’s way, way out of your league.
Wait a second, you counter: Do dating “leagues” even exist?
At this point, Elizabeth Bruch, a professor of sociology at the University of Michigan, crashes in to your thought process (and this news article). Yep, she says. Leagues do seem to exist. But you’re not alone in trying to escape yours: “Three-quarters, or more, of people are dating aspirationally,” she says. And according to a new study, users of online-dating sites spend most of their time trying to contact people “out of their league.”
The fate of the House majority may depend on whether working-class white women turn on the GOP this fall—or simply sit out the election.
When Donald Trump this week publicly disparaged his former aide Omarosa Manigault-Newman as a “dog,” he crystallized again the belligerent style and volatile behavior that has exposed Republican candidates in November to the risk of a crushing backlash among women. The most important unanswered question for the midterm election may be how far that backlash extends among the women whose preponderant support keyed his victory in the first place.
Trump’s tempestuous presidency has widened every divide in American politics: race, religion, generation, geography, gender, and education. All of these contrasts loom large over the November elections. Democrats see their best House opportunities in white-collar suburban communities around the major metropolitan areas, which are typically younger and more racially and religiously diverse. Republicans hope to build a firewall in districts well beyond the urban centers that are predominantly white, older, more blue-collar, and more uniformly Christian in religious preference.
Under President Trump, the most outrageous and aggrieved polemicists are thriving.
Few have enjoyed quite so spectacular a comeback under President Donald Trump as the conservative polemicist and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza. In 2012, D’Souza resigned as president of a Christian college amid charges of adultery and deception. In 2014, D’Souza pleaded guilty to violating federal campaign-finance laws. He was sentenced to eight months of confinement followed by 52 months probation.
Now, as the saying goes, D’Souza is back—and bigger than ever. He has reinvented himself as something like the court intellectual of the age of Trump. Trump pardoned D’Souza on May 31, 2018. At the beginning of August, Donald Trump Jr. co-hosted the premiere of D’Souza’s latest movie, Death of a Nation. The movie compares Donald Trump to Abraham Lincoln, and his Democratic opponents to Nazis. Afterward, Trump Jr. delivered a memorable summation of what he had learned from the film. “You see the Nazi platform in the early 1930s and what was actually put out there … and you look at it compared to, like, the DNC platform of today, and you’re saying, man, those things are awfully similar, to a point where it’s actually scary.”
For Putin and company, election season in America is open season for meddling.
Earlier this month, Facebook announced it had detected and shut down more than 30 Russia-linked fake pages created as part of a campaign to influence the U.S. midterm elections. In case there was any doubt, Russia’s effort to influence American politics continues.
The Russian government has one overriding objective with regard to the United States: to weaken America so that it loses its will and ability to counter Russian objectives, including establishing a sphere of influence in eastern Europe. To that end, the Kremlin actively exploits and deepens political, cultural, economic, racial, and other societal rifts in America. If Americans are fighting one another, they are less likely to notice, much less press, the government to block Russian action in places like Ukraine, Georgia, or Syria.