The Case Against ‘Hamilton’

I don’t think there’s a slight bit of hyperbole or exaggeration involved when I say that Hamilton, the awful musical that millionaire New Yorkers are required by law to throw away thousands watching, represents everything that was wrong with America in 2016. Allow me to make the case. First, there’s the music. I’m admittedly not much of … Continued

Maybe You Really Are What You Watch on TV

If the events of the past two months of have taught us anything it’s that everybody lives in a “bubble”; it’s impossible, unless you’re some sort of roving photo-ethnographer, to be deeply acquainted with the many cultures that comprise the United States. Anthropologists estimate that humans can only maintain up to 150 relationships at a time. Beyond that, it’s media … Continued

What ‘Jurassic Park’ Teaches Us About Central Planning

Michael Crichton’s techno-thriller Jurassic Park teaches us that no matter how advanced technology becomes, we will never be able to completely control nature. At first, it seemed like a wonderful dream: a park where once-extinct prehistoric beasts would roam as astonished visitors watched in awe. This at least was the vision of the park’s owner, … Continued

Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘Letter From Birmingham Jail’

While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling our present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom, if ever, do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all of the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would be engaged in little … Continued

Should People Sign Parenting Contracts?

When I was in graduate school in the United States in the early 1980s, a member of our women’s support group informed us that she was pregnant. Although she was single and not in a serious relationship, she told us she intended to have the baby and raise it herself. She decided not to tell … Continued

The Underappreciated Virtues of Tintin

Tintin, everyone’s favorite intrepid Belgian boy reporter, made his first-ever appearance 88 years ago today, in a 1929 issue of Le Petit Vingtième. His creator, the Belgian illustrator Hergé (Georges Remi) was only 23 years old at the time, but Tintin would be the work of a lifetime, growing into one of the most popular and … Continued

Good (and Bad) Journalism Begins in College

Honest reporters and editors have asked a hard question since Election Day: How could we have been so staggeringly wrong about so much in 2016? On December 8, Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times, offered one possible answer in the form of a confession: “We don’t get religion. We don’t get the role … Continued

Face to Face Friendship is Better than Online

Thanks to the proliferation of digital technologies, never has it been so easy and inexpensive to reach — pretty much anywhere and at any time — family, friends, and colleagues. I regularly Facebook-message with a Sherpa friend who lives in Nepal; use Twitter to get real-time updates from an athlete I coach who lives in … Continued

R.I.P. Drive-Through Tree

A giant fell last weekend: the towering Pioneer Cabin Tree at Calaveras Big Trees State Park in California toppled in a winter storm. The giant sequoia was likely hundreds of years old, but was most famous for one distinctive feature: a tunnel through its trunk. Drive-through trees were created amid groves of giant sequoia and coastal redwoods around the … Continued

How to Engineer Luck

On Sept. 16, 2007, a Japanese YouTuber who goes by the handle “Computing Aesthetic” uploaded a forty-eight-second-long video with the deafening title, “ULTRA MEGA SUPER LUCKY SHOT.” The video shows a high-scoring shot in Peggle, a vastly popular video game, loosely based on Japanese pachinko machines, in which a ball-bearing clatters down the screen, accruing … Continued