Even More Evidence that Tetris is Seriously Addictive

In the mid-1980s, a man named Alexey Pajitnov, a programmer at the Soviet Academy of Sciences, created something that would spread far beyond the confines of his Soviet lab. Pajitnov, who often used games as a way to test equipment, was doing just that on an Electronika 60 computer, an antiquated machine that had been … Continued

Why the Movies Just Can’t Get Chess Right

Movies and television shows are full of blunders, some more noticeable than others, and each with their specific guild of victims. Ornithologists fume when British period dramas are overdubbed with American birdsongs. Government employees will tell you that the supposed main White House staffer in Contact has a nonexistent job. Archeologists hate movie shipwrecks, and marine biologists are already mad … Continued

Why We Still Need ‘Paradise Lost’

Just 350 years ago, in April 1667, John Milton sold all rights to Paradise Lost to the printer Samuel Simmons — for £5, with another £5 due once Simmons had the first run of 1,300 copies off his hands. That sounds like a bargain for the 12-book epic poem of Satan’s war with Heaven, Eve’s ‘fatal trespass’ … Continued

Fukuyama Was Right About the End of History

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History and the Last Man (1992). Rarely read but often denigrated, it might be the most maligned, unfairly dismissed and misunderstood book of the post-war era. Which is unfortunate for at least one reason: Fukuyama might have done a better job of predicting the political turmoil … Continued

Should the School Week be Reduced to Four Days?

Barring unexpected closures, students enrolled in San Francisco Public Schools will have seven three-day weekends this school year; there are five three-day weekends on the Hartford Public Schools calendar for 2016-2017; and Atlanta Public Schools students are scheduled to have three three-day weekends this year. In Bonners Ferry, Idaho, however, students can plan for 29 three-day weekends. Boundary County School District—which includes Bonners … Continued

There’s No Such Thing as “Girls’ Literature”

What books should children read? This age-old question was answered last week by columnist and author Caitlin Moran: ‘If I had one piece of advice for young girls, and women, it would be this: girls, don’t read any books by men. Stay away from them.’ Moran claims never to have read books by men when … Continued

Old Hollywood’s Scandal “Fixers”

Howard Strickling’s phone was always ringing. First it might be Jean Harlow, panicking that William Powell had gotten her pregnant. Then it might be a security guard, informing him that he’d removed a belligerent Spencer Tracy from yet another bar. Once it was Marlene Dietrich, distraught after discovering John Gilbert’s dead body. As the head … Continued

The Strange History of the Foxfire Books

The 1,500-mile Appalachian Mountain range stretches so far that those on the northern and southern sides can’t agree on what to call it: Appa-LAY-chia or Appa-LATCH-ia. The outside perspective on the people who live there might be even more mangled. Stories about Appalachia tend to center around subjects like poverty, the opioid epidemic and coal, … Continued

‘Making It ‘Turns Fifty

Released in 1967, Making It was the first of several autobiographical books by long-time Commentary editor Norman Podhoretz. The book’s republication after 50 years rights a literary injustice. The brief introduction by critic Terry Teachout adds a grace note to what is in essence a 50th anniversary edition. When it first appeared, Making It met with a publishing equivalent of a … Continued

Understanding Grief

The October 29th entry in Roland Barthes’s Mourning Diary—a journal he kept to document the elliptical sentences that came to him after his mom’s death,  published after his own—reads: “In taking these notes, I’m trusting myself to the banality that is in me.” What Barthes understands is that grief is boring. He also understands that it is … Continued