The Inanity of ‘Microaggressions’

Across college campuses and the corporate landscape, a big idea has taken hold: the notion that microaggressions – subtle but offensive comments or actions directed at minorities or other powerless people – can lower performance, lead to ostracism, increase anxiety, and sometimes cause so much psychological pain that the recipient might even commit suicide. Yet … Continued

What is an Essay?

It is a critical commonplace to begin an essay about essays with etymology. Essay: noun, from the French essayer, verb, to try. Next is the requisite hat-tip to Michel de Montaigne, Renaissance philosopher and one-time mayor of Bordeaux, who is considered to have been the first great essayist; his Essais, published in 1580, includes disquisitions on, among other … Continued

Is Ride-Sharing Overrated?

The ouster of Travis Kalanick last week brings to an end nearly a year of accumulating scandal at Uber. The company—its specious claims to being a world-beating disruptor significantly weakened—now joins Amazon as one of the more frightening entities of our time, with Kalanick taking his place among Elizabeth Holmes, Jeff Bezos, Martin Shkreli, and the late Steve … Continued

The Wellness Epidemic

When Gwyneth Paltrow first launched Goop in 2008, it was a great place to find out where to eat the best tapas in Barcelona. It was straight-up celebrity-lifestyle voyeurism, and Paltrow, with her long blonde hair and aura of complete self-satisfaction, was irresistible. There’s the expression “living your best life,” and then there is Paltrow: … Continued

Was Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman the Best Movie Villain Ever?

There’s a lot to admire about Batman Returns, the 1992 sequel from director Tim Burton that celebrates its 25th anniversary this month. The script by Daniel Waters, who also wrote the sharp, 1988 black comedy Heathers, is equal parts lurid and alluring. Burton and cinematographer Stefan Czapsky heighten the gothic melodrama of Gotham by creating a surreal … Continued

Is ‘Veep’ Too Pessimistic About Politics?

This post contains minor spoilers through Season 6, Episode 10 of Veep. The finale of the last season of Veep found Selina Meyer, mediocre politician and terrible person, laid low for her shortcomings. She had lost the U.S. presidency. The one real achievement she had accomplished during her brief stint in the Oval Office—brokering freedom … Continued

Digging Up Dalí

A Spanish court has ordered the remains of Salvador Dalí to be exhumed from his grandiose self-designed last resting place in an attempt to extract DNA for a paternity claim from a woman born in 1956. Pilar Abel, a tarot card reader and fortune teller from Girona, a city close to Figueres in north-east Spain … Continued

Beginner’s Guide to B.S.

Every day lately seems to bring an onslaught of fresh bullshit: fake news is outpacing the fact-checker, dubious claims abound in advertisements and political speeches, dating profiles turn out to be more aspirational than accurate, luxury music festivals end in disaster, Instagram bros fake their bench presses — it never ends. It can be hard … Continued

Most Important Skill for Future Employment? Emotions

Early last year, the World Economic Forum issued a paper warning that technological change is on the verge of upending the global economy. To fill the sophisticated jobs of tomorrow, the authors argued, the ‘reskilling and upskilling of today’s workers will be critical’. Around the same time, the then president Barack Obama announced a ‘computer … Continued

Is Economics Really a Science?

In 1980, following a decade of high inflation and unemployment — a combination that economists had previously thought to be impossible over extended periods — The Public Interest ran a special issue titled “The Crisis in Economic Theory.” Today, there is little talk of a crisis in economic theory. But in the past decade, we have experienced a financial … Continued