Is the Biggest Art Heist in History About to be Solved?

It’s still regarded as the greatest unsolved art heist of all time: $500 million of art—including works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas, and Manet—plucked from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston on March 18, 1990, by two men posing as police. The museum had offered a $5 million reward for the return of all 13 pieces in good condition. Last … Continued

Is it Wrong for Writers to Exaggerate?

efore 8 November 2016, I thought it was okay to stretch the truth in storytelling, especially if you were trying to be funny. Now, I’m not sure. TrueStory was my handle. I don’t remember Victoria’s handle; what I remember is her picture. She’s wearing drag-queen quantities of makeup: gold swathes across her eyelids, blush … Continued

One Child Actor Who Turned Out OK

Shout-out to the pedestrians of downtown Manhattan for not bothering Haley Joel Osment with the Line. You know the one. The one about the dead people and seeing them. (I hesitate to even type it out because Osment is reluctant to utter it out loud, as though it were a Voldemort-level incantation.) You’d think someone … Continued

Why Democracies Need Conservatives

Why do democracies fail? It’s suddenly a very urgent and important question. Daniel Ziblatt’s new book arrives just in time to deliver a powerful and supremely relevant answer. Don’t be misled by the aggressively unsensational title, the careful prose, or the hyper-technical charts (“Median and Distribution of Conservative and Liberal Party Seats Across Varying Levels … Continued

Will Twitter Kill Literature?

The day was always coming when science fiction would seem like nostalgia. It wasn’t that everything became true but that everything became fake. Who knew, when reading William Gibson in the simple 1980s, or old paperbacks of Frank Herbert, that these writers were common realists, no less faithful than Charles Dickens to life’s essential changes. … Continued

Do You Have a Constitutional Right to Tweet?

Public space in the digital age has no shape and no physical place. But the US Supreme Court is now sorting out what that means for free-speech rights. Today (June 19), the justices unanimously held that states can’t broadly limit access to social media because cyberspace “is one of the most important places to exchange … Continued

Why is it So Hard to Think?

Pop-up philosophy. Stop, sit down and just think. That’s what I wrote on a whiteboard – then I took it outside and propped it next to a small folding chair near the entrance to my office at City, University of London. For a week, I had been travelling around London with two folding deckchairs and … Continued

Should Smartphones for Children be Outlawed?

Despite how much teens and tweens love their smartphones (and apps), scientists believe being tethered to these technological devices may potentially have negative health effects on kids. Now, a nonprofit in Colorado has drafted a ballot initiative that, if passed, would make it the first state to establish legal limits on the sale of smartphones to children, … Continued

Shel Silverstein’s Bizarre ‘Playboy’ Children’s Book

In the August 1961 issue of Playboy, Hugh Hefner, likely recognizing that his adult publication was missing out on a lucrative and untapped market, commissioned some material just for the kids. Six pages after a centerfold spread of Playmate Karen Thompson, Playboy Magazine printed its inaugural children’s work—Uncle Shelby’s ABZ Book. Shortly thereafter, Uncle Shelby’s … Continued

Should the Meaning of Free Speech Change?

Middlebury College’s decision to discipline 67 students who participated in a raucous and violent demonstration against conservative author Charles Murray brings closure to one of several disturbing incidents that took place on college campuses this semester. But larger disputes about the state of free speech on campus–and in public life–remain unresolved. Many critics have used … Continued